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been put to Smith or to Franklin in the present age, what sounder advice could they have offered ?
In one of Fenelon's Dialogues of the Dead, the following remarkable words are put into the mouth of Socrates: 6 It is necessary that a people should have written laws, always the same, and consecrated by the whole nation; that these laws should be paramount to every thing else; that those who govern should derive their authority from them alone; possessing an unbounded power to do all the good which the laws prescribe, and restrained from every act of injustice which the laws prohibit.”
But it is chiefly in a work which did not appear till many years after his death, that we have an opportunity of tracing the enlargement of Fenelon's political views, and the extent of his Christian charity. It is entitled Direction pour la Conscience d'un Roi ; and abounds with as liberal and enlightened maxims of government as, under the freest constitutions, have ever been offered by a subject to a sovereign. Where the variety of excellence renders selection so difficult, I must not venture upon any extracts; nor, indeed, would I willingly injure the effect of the whole by quoting detached passages. A few sentences on liberty of conscience (which I will not presume to translate) may suffice to convey an idea of the general spirit with which it is animated. “Sur toute chose, ne forcez jamais vos sujets à changer de religion. Nulle puissance humaine ne peut forcer le retranchement impénétrable de la liberté du cœur. La force ne peut jamais persuader les hommes ; elle ne fait que des hypocrites. Quand les rois se mêlent de religion, au lieu de la protéger, ils la mettent en servitude. Accordez à tous la tolerance civile, non en approuvant tout comme indifférent, mais en souffrant avec patience tout ce que Dieu souffre, et en tâchant de ramener les hommes par une douce persuasion.”
AND SO Much for the French philosophy of the seventeenth century. The extracts last quoted forewarn us, that we are fast approaching to a new era in the history of
the Human Mind. The glow-worm ’gins to pale his ineffectual fire ; and we scent the morning air of the coming day. This era I propose to date from the publications of Locke and of Leibnitz; but the remarks which I have to offer on their writings, and on those of their most distinguished successors, I reserve for the Second Part of this Discourse; confining myself, at present, to a very short retrospect of the state of philosophy, during the preceding period, in some other countries of Europe. *
Progress of Philosophy during the Seventeenth Century, in some parts of Europe,
not included in the preceding Review.
During the first half of the seventeenth century, the philosophical spirit which had arisen with such happy auspices in England and in France, has left behind it few or no traces of its existence in the rest of Europe. On all questions connected with the science of mind (a phrase which I here use in its largest acceptation), authority continued to be every where mistaken for argument ; nor can a single work be named, bearing, in its character, the most distant resemblance to the Organon of Bacon ; to the Meditations of Descartes; or to the bold theories of that sublime genius, who, soon after, was to shed so dazzling a lustre on the north of Germany. Kepler and Galileo still lived; the former languishing in poverty at Prague, the latter oppressed with blindness, and with ecclesiastical persecution at Florence; but their pursuits were of a nature altogether foreign to our present subject.
One celebrated work alone, the treatise of Grotius De Jure Belli et Pacis (first printed in 1625), arrests our attention among the crowd of useless and forgotten volumes, which were then issuing from the presses of Holland, Germany, and Italy. The influence of this treatise, in giving a new direction to the studies of the learned, was so remarkable, and continued so long to operate with undiminished effect, that it is necessary to allot to the author, and to his successors, a space considerably larger than may, at first sight, seem due to their merits. Notwithstanding the just neglect into which they have lately fallen in our Universities, it will be found, on a close examination, that they form an important link in the history of modern literature. It was from their school that most of our best writers on Ethics have proceeded, and many of our most original inquirers into the Human Mind; and it is to the same school (as I shall endeavour to show in the Second Part of this Discourse), that we are chiefly indebted for the modern science of Political Economy.*
* I have classed Télémaque and the Direction pour la Conscience d'un Roi with the philosophy of the seventeenth century, although the publication of the former was not permitted till after the death of Louis the Fourteenth, nor that of the latter till 1748. The tardy appearance of both only shows how far the author had shot a-head of the orthodox religion and politics of his times.
For the information of those who have not read the treatise De Jure Belli et Pacis, it may be proper to observe, that, under this title, Grotius has aimed at a complete system of Natural Law. Condillac says, that he chose the title, in order to excite a more general curiosity; adding (and I believe, very justly), that many of the most prominent defects of his work may be fairly ascribed to a compliance with the taste of his age. 6 The author," says Condillac, " was able to think for himself; but he constantly labors to support his conclusions by the authority of others ; producing, on many occasions, in support of the most obvious and indisputable propositions, a long string of quotations from the Mosaic law; from the Gospels; from the Fathers of the Church ; from the Casuists; and not unfrequently, in the very same paragraph, from Ovid and Aristophanes." In consequence of this cloud of witnesses, always at hand to attest the truth of his axioms, not only is the attention perpetually interrupted and distracted ; but the author's reasonings, even when perfectly solid and satisfactory, fail in making a due impression on the reader's mind; while the very little that there probably was of systematical arrangement in the general plan of the book, is totally kept out of view.
In spite of these defects, or rather, perhaps, in conse
* From a letter of Grotius, quoted by Gassendi, we learn, that the treatise De Jure Belli et Pacis was undertaken at the request of his learned friend Peireskius. “Non otior, sed in illo de jure gentium opere pergo, quod si tale futurum est, ut lectores demereri possit, habebit quod tibi debeat posteritas, qui me ad hunc laborem et auxilio et hortatu tuo excitâsti.” Gassendi Opera. Tom. V. p. 294.
quence of some of them, the impression produced by the treatise in question, on its first publication, was singularly great. The stores of erudition displayed in it, recommended it to the classical scholar; while the happy application of the author's reading to the affairs of human life, drew the attention of such men as Gustavus Adolphus; of his Prime Minister, the Chancellor Oxenstiern ; and of the Elector Palatine, Charles Lewis. The last of these was so struck with it, that he founded at Heidelberg a Professorship for the express purpose of teaching the Law of Nature and Nations ;-an office which he bestowed on Puffendorf; the most noted, and, on the whole, the most eminent of those who have aspired to tread in the footsteps of Grotius.
The fundamental principles of Puffendorf possess little merit in point of originality, being a sort of medley of the doctrines of Grotius, with some opinions of Hobbes ; but his book is entitled to the praise of comparative conciseness, order, and perspicuity; and accordingly came very generally to supplant the treatise of Grotius, as a manual or institute for students, notwithstanding its immense inferiority in genius, in learning, and in classical composition.
The authors who, in different parts of the Continent, have since employed themselves in commenting on Grotius and Puffendorf, or in abridging their systems, or. in altering their arrangements, are innumerable ; but notwithstanding all their industry and learning, it would be very difficult to name any class of writers, whose labors have been of less utility to the world. The same ideas are constantly recurring in an eternal circle; the opinions of Grotius and of Puffendorf, where they are at all equivocal, are anxiously investigated, and sometimes involved in additional obscurity; while, in the meantime, the science of Natural Jurisprudence never advances one single step; but, notwithstanding its recent birth, seems already sunk into a state of dotage.*
* I have borrowed, in this last paragraph, some expressions from Lampredi. “Grotii et Putfendorfii interpretes, viri quidem diligentissimi, sed qui vix fructum aliquem tot commentariis, adnotationibus, compendiis, tabulis, cæterisque ejusmodi aridissimis laboribus attulerunt: perpetuo circulo eadem res circumagitur, quid uter
In perusing the systems now referred to, it is impossible not to feel a very painful dissatisfaction, from the difficulty of ascertaining the precise object aimed at by the authors. So vague and indeterminate is the general scope of their researches, that not only are different views of the subject taken by different writers, but even by the same writer in different parts of his work ;-a circumstance which, of itself, sufficiently accounts for the slender additions they have made to the stock of useful knowledge; and which is the real source of that chaos of heterogeneous discussions, through which the reader is perpetually forced to fight his way. A distinct conception of these different views will be found to throw more light than might at first be expected on the subsequent history of Moral and of Political science; and I shall therefore endeavour, as accurately as I can, to disentangle and separate them from each other, at the risk, perhaps, of incurring, from some readers, the charge of prolixity. The most important of them may, I apprehend, be referred to one or other of the following heads :
1. Among the different ideas which have been formed of Natural Jurisprudence, one of the most common (particularly in the earlier systems) supposes its object to be -To lay down those rules of justice which would be binding on men living in a social state, without any positive institutions; or (as it is frequently called by writers on this subject) living together in a state of nature. This idea of the province of Jurisprudence seems to have been uppermost in the mind of Grotius, in various parts of his treatise.
To this speculation about the state of nature, Grotius was manifestly led by his laudable anxiety to counteract the attempts then recently made to undermine the foundations of morality. That moral distinctions are created entirely by the arbitrary and revealed will of God, had, before his time, been zealously maintained by some the
que senserit quæritur, interdum etiam utriusque sententiæ obscurantur; disciplina postra tamen ne latum quidem unguem progreditur, et dum aliorum sententiæ dis. quiruntur et explanantur, Rerum Natura quasi senio confecta squalescit, neglectaque jacet et inobservata omnino." Juris Publici Theoremata, p. 34.