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Republic out of the class as commonly understood. What they chiefly dreaded was disorder, and they were much impressed by the turbulence, the 'fugitive and turbulent existence,' of the ancient Republics. But these, they said,* were not Republics, in the true sense of the name. They were democracies,' commonwealths of the primitive type, governed by the vote of the popular assembly, which consisted of the whole mass of male citizens met together in one place. The true Republic must always be understood as a commonwealth saved from disorder by representative institutions.



But soon after the emancipated Americans began their great experiment, its credit had to be sustained against a much more terrible exemplification of the weaknesses of republican institutions, for the French Republic was established. The black shadow of its crimes still hangs over the century, though it is fading imperceptibly into the distance. But what has not been sufficiently noticed, is its thorough political miscarriage. It tried every expedient by which weak governments, dir nu by scrupulous men, attempt to save themselves from 07. iscomfiture. It put to death all who were likely to oppo and it conducted its executions on a scale unknown since the Tartar invasions. It tried foreign war, and it obtained success in the field beyond its wildest hopes. It tried military usurpation, and it sent the most distinguished and virtuous of the new constitutional school of French politicians, which was beginning to control it, to perish in tropical swamps. Yet it sank lower and lower into contempt, and died without a struggle. There are not many of the charges brought against Napoleon Buonaparte which are altogether unjust, but he must at any rate be acquitted of having destroyed a Republic, if by a Republic is to be understood a free Government. What he destroyed was a military tyranny, for this had been the character of the French Government since the September of 1797; and he substituted for this military tyranny another still severer and infinitely more respected.

As a matter of fact, there is no doubt that the credit of American Republican institutions, and of such institutions generally, did greatly decline through the miserable issue of the French experiment. The hopes of political freedom, which the Continental communities were loath to surrender, turned in another direction, and attached themselves exclusively to Constitutional Monarchy. American publicists note the first fifteen years of the present century as the period during which their

*Federalist,' No. 10 (Madison).

country was least respected abroad, and their Government treated with most contumely by European diplomacy.* And just when the American Federation was overcoming the low opinion of all Republics which had become common, a set of events happened close to its doors which might have overwhelmed it in general shame. The Spanish Colonies in North and South America revolted, and set up Republics in which the crimes and disorders of the French Republic were repeated in caricature. The Spanish American Republicans were to the French what Hébert and Anacharsis Clootz had been to Danton and Robespierre. This absurd travesty of Republicanism lasted more than fifty years, and even now the curtain has not quite fallen upon it. Independently, therefore, of the history of the United States, it would have seemed quite certain what the conclusion of political philosophy must have been upon the various forms of Government as observed under the glass of experience. If we clear our mental view by adopting the Aristotelian analysis, and classify all governments as governments of the One, governments of the Few, and governments of the Many, we shall see that mankind had had much experience of government by the One, and a good deal of government by the Few, and also some very valuable experience of attempts at combining these two forms of Government, but that of government by the Many it had very slight experience, and that whatever it had was on the whole decidedly unfavourable. The antecedent doubt, whether government by the Many was really possible-whether in any intelligible sense, and upon any theory of volition, a multitude of men could be said to have a common will-would have seemed to be strengthened by the fact that, whenever government by the Many had been tried, it had ultimately produced monstrous and morbid forms of government by the One, or of government by the Few. This conclusion would, in truth, have been inevitable, but for the history of the United States, so far as they have had a history. The Federal Constitution has survived the mockery of itself in France and in Spanish America. Its success has been so great and striking, that men have almost forgotten that, if the whole of the known experiments of mankind in government be looked at together, there has been no form of government so unsuccessful as the Republican.

* See the language employed by Canning, as lately as 1821, in conversation with John Quincy Adams, then American Minister in London (Morse's 'Life of J. Q. Adams,' p. 141, a volume of the very valuable series, called 'American Statesmen.')

The antecedents of a body of institutions like this, and its mode of growth, manifestly deserve attentive study; and fortunately the materials for the enquiry are full and good. The papers called the 'Federalist," which were published in 1787 and 1788 by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, but which were chiefly from the pen of Hamilton, were originally written to explain the new Constitution of the United States, then awaiting ratification, and to dispel misconstructions of it which had got abroad; but they show us with much clearness the route by which the strongest minds among the American statesmen of that period had travelled to the conclusions embodied in its provisions. The Federalist has generally excited something like enthusiasm in those who have studied it, and among these there have been some not at all given to excessive eulogy. Talleyrand strongly recommended it; and Guizot said of it that, in the application of the elementary principles of government to practical administration, it was the greatest work known to him. An early number of the Edinburgh Review' (No. 24) described it as a 'work little known in Europe, but which exhibits a profundity of research and an acuteness of understanding, which would have done honour to the most illustrious statesmen of modern times.' The American commendations of the Federalist are naturally even less qualified. 'I know not,' wrote Chancellor Kent, 'of any work on the principles of free government that is to be compared in instruction and in intrinsic value to this small and unpretending volume of the "Federalist; " not even if we resort to Aristotle, Cicero, Machiavel, Montesquieu, Milton, Locke, or Burke. It is equally admirable in the depth of its wisdom, the comprehensiveness of its views, the sagacity of its reflections, and the freshness, patriotism, candour, simplicity, and eloquence with which its truths are uttered and recommended.' Those who have attentively read these papers will not think such praise pitched, on the whole, too high. Perhaps the part of it least thoroughly deserved is that given to their supposed profundity of research. There are few traces in the 'Federalist' of familiarity with previous speculations on politics, except those of Montesquieu in the Esprit de Lois,' the popular book of that day. The writers attach the greatest importance to all Montesquieu's opinions. They are much discomposed by his assertion, that Republican government is necessarily associated with a small territory, and they are again comforted by his admission, that this difficulty might be overcome by a confederate Republic. Madison indeed had the acuteness to see that Montesquieu's doctrine is as often polemical as philoso

phical, and that it is constantly founded on a tacit contrast between the institutions of his own country, which he disliked, with those of England, which he admired. But still his analysis, as we shall hereafter point out, had much influence upon the founders and defenders of the American Constitution. On the whole, Guizot's criticism of the 'Federalist' is the most judicious. It is an invaluable work on the application of the elementary principles of government to practical administration. Nothing can be more sagacious than its anticipation of the way in which the new institutions would actually work, or more conclusive than its exposure of the fallacies which underlay the popular objections to some of them.

It is not to be supposed that Hamilton, Jay, and Madison were careless of historical experience. They had made a careful study of many forms of government, ancient and modern. Their observations on the ancient Republics,* which were shortly afterwards to prove so terrible a snare to French political theorists, are extremely just. The cluster of commonwealths woven together in the United Netherlands,' † is fully examined, and the weaknesses of this anomalous confederacy are shrewdly noted. The remarkable structure of the RomanoGerman Empire ‡ is depicted, and there is reason to suspect that these institutions, now almost forgotten, influenced the framers of the American Constitution, both by attraction and by repulsion. But far the most important experience to which they appealed, was that of their own country, at a very recent date. The earliest link had been supplied to the revolted Colonies by the first or American Continental' Congress, which issued the Declaration of Independence. There had subsequently been the 'Articles of Confederation,' ratified in 1781. These earlier experiments, their demonstrable miscarriage in many particulars, and the disappointments to which they gave rise, are a storehouse of instances and a plentiful source of warning and reflection to the writers who have undertaken to show that their vices are removed in the Constitution of 1787-89. Nevertheless, there is one fund of political experience upon which the Federalist seldom draws, and that is the political experience of Great Britain. The scantiness § of these references is at first sight inexplicable. The writers must have understood Great Britain better than any other country, except their own. They had been British subjects during most of their lives.

*'Federalist,' No. 14 (Madison). † Ibid., No. 20 (Hamilton and Madison). Ibid., No. 19 (Hamilton and Madison). § References to Great Britain occur in 'Federalist,' No. 5 (Jay); and (for the purpose of disproving a supposed analogy) in ‘Federalist,' No. 69 (Hamilton).

They had scarcely yet ceased to breathe the atmosphere of the British Parliament and to draw strength from its characteristic disturbances. Next to their own stubborn valour, the chief secret of the colonists' success was the incapacity of the English generals, trained in the stiff Prussian system soon to perish at Jena, to adapt themselves to new conditions of warfare, an incapacity which newer generals, full of admiration for a newer German system, were again to manifest at Majuba Hill against a meaner foe. But the colonists had also reaped signal advantage from the encouragements of the British Parliamentary Opposition. If the King of France gave 'aid,' the English Opposition gave perpetual' comfort' to the enemies of the King of England. It was a fruit of the English party system which was to reappear, amid much greater public dangers, in the Peninsular War; and the revelation of domestic facts, the assertion of domestic weakness, were to assist the arms of a military tyrant, as they had assisted the colonists fighting for independence. Various observations* in the Federalist 'on the truculence of party spirit may be suspected of having been prompted by the recollection of what an Opposition can do. But there could be no open reference to this in its pages; and, on the whole, it cannot but be suspected that the fewness of the appeals to British historical examples had its cause in their unpopularity. The object of Madison, Hamilton, and Jay, was to persuade their countrymen ; and the appeal to British experience would only have provoked prejudice and repulsion. We hope, however, to show that the Constitution of the United States is coloured throughout by political ideas of British origin, and that it is in reality a version of the British Constitution, as it must have presented itself to an observer in the second half of the last century.

It has to be carefully borne in mind, that the construction of the American Constitution was extremely unlike that process of founding a new Constitution, which in our day may be witnessed at intervals of a few years on the European Continent, and that it bore even less resemblance to the foundation of a new Republic, as the word is now understood. Whatever be the occasion of one of these new European Constitutions, be it ill success in war, or escape from foreign dominion, or the overthrow of a government by the army or the mob, the new institutions are always shaped in a spirit of bitter dissatisfaction with the old, which, at the very best, are put upon their trial. But the enfranchised American colonists were more than satisfied with the bulk of their institutions, which were those of the

* 'Federalist,' No. 70 (Hamilton).

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