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fairly extensive knowledge of ancient history, but he sometimes made mistakes. All the controversies that arose over them are almost valueless now.
For one who professed to use the historical method in political science inaccuracy was not desirable. But it makes no difference to Harrington's practical conclusions, if the parallels illustrating them could be in certain cases proved to be false parallels; the results remained exactly the same.
The novelty and Utopian character of Harrington's proposals came in for not unexpected criticism. Oceana was called "an aery, empty and imaginary Utopia, the Phanatiques' Land of Forgetfulness. Attacks were levelled at “Rotations and Fantastical Elections, which are no way grounded on the people's choyce and besides, lay no foundation of Settlement, as being unpracticable.” 2 The general craze for hankering after new models of government was condemned. “Models of new government heal not,' said Dr Gauden from the pulpit, Government must fit the genius of a people.” 3 Imitations of foreign institutions were decried on all hands, and the tendency to turn to Sparta, Athens, Venice, or the Netherlands as models for the English constitution was widely deprecated. The natural growth of the monarchical institutions of England was the common argument against republicanism. Baxter, in adding his voice to the protests of others, criticised the prevailing tendency from the religious as well as the political point of view, employing language which would seem amazing if used in any other age. As a Puritan he objected to
1“ Select City Queries,” E 1019.
The Interest of England stated,” E 125.
Kákoupyou sive Medicastri; slight healers of public hurts,” E 1019 * Cf. “Vox vere Anglorum or England's loud cry for their King," E 125.
Shield against the Parthian dart," E 988.
OF HARRINGTON'S THEORIES
Oceana, " in that it is such a government as heathens have been our examples in, and in which he [Harrington] thinks they have excelled in,” and also because it is based on the practice of Venice, “where Popery ruleth and whoredom abounds.” 1 But Harrington was blamed not only for the novelty of his ideas but also for his want of originality. He was reminded that many people had for a long time realised the connection of power and property. That is the worst of it. When something new is discovered, it is generally proved to be either old or faddy and pedantic.
His idealism and fondness for "exotic models" was criticised. So was his audacity in interfering at all in politics. The words of Stubbe may stand for many others. “I beseech you Sir,” he wrote, “are not we writers of Politiques a somewhat ridiculous sort of People? Is it not a fine piece of folly for private men sitting in their Cabinets to rack their brains about models of Government ? " 2
Burnet, in his account of the last days of the Commonwealth, explained how that " to see a few persons take upon them to form a scheme of government
made many conclude it was necessary to call home the King, that so matters might again fall into their old channel.” 3 But what annoyed Harrington very much more, was the opinion given by Dr Ferne that private gentlemen ought not to meddle in religion either. 4 Harrington disagreed strongly with the view that politics was a profession. The exclusion of the layman from religious controversy seemed to him the grossest form of priestcraft.
Many of the criticisms, which were passed on the democratic ideal, have already been alluded to in the i Baxter, “ Holy Commonwealth,” pp. 225-26.
Considerations on Mr Harrington's Commonwealth of Oceana," etc.
3 “ History of My Own Time," i. 151. 4 “Pian Piano,” p. 559.
2 Preface to
course of this essay. Certain objections are common to all ages. It will always be urged that the people in a national community have no more rights of sovereignty than the members of a school or of any fortuitous aggregation of men; that the majority is frequently worse than the minority, because government is an “aptitude” for which the common man is not fitted ; that the people as a whole are neither wise, educated, leisured, moral, united, suited for secret or speedy work, stable, or merciful. This was what Baxter urged. But such arguments were intended to be supplementary to the more cogent arguments from Scripture, which dominated the whole controversy between democracy and the divine rights of kings. The real objection was one that is typical of the age with which we are dealing. Democracy is the worst form of government, because it differs most from the government of God and His angels,
comes nearest to the utter confounding of governors and governed : the ranks that God separated by His institutions.” 2 Criticisms like Baxter's were too vague to be valuable. They were also unfair. Harrington confined direct popular interference to three points—the right of electing representatives, the right of petitioning parliament, the right of subscribing consent to the constitution, under which the country is to be governed. Baxter himself, when he descended to details, was ready to grant “that the People's Consent is ordinarily necessary to the Constitution of the Government, and that their Freedom is taken from them, when this is denied them." ; But, speaking for the Presbyterian party as a whole, he was bound to add “we believe that notorious wickedness and divers particular crimes may forfeit 1 " Holy Commonwealth,” p. 67, etc. • Ibid. p. 89.
3 Ibid., Preface.
this freedom as to particular persons." Stubbe went further than Baxter and condemned Harrington unmercifully for making the consent of the people the origin of government. Looking back from the impartial point of view of the historian we may pass over Stubbe's remark, and rather compliment Harrington for his moderation in using this doctrine. He never touched the Social Contract. He stuck to facts.
More subtle and more interesting were the criticisms which were levelled at the limited form of indirect democracy which Harrington actually advocated. Curious objections were brought against the representative system as a whole. Baxter pointed out the difficulty of reconciling it with the doctrines of direct democracy, because the power, which the people have, of “ choosing the persons that they have” is different from “ the power of governing.” He objected further to the tyranny of the majority, based on the democratic principle that "might is right” and inevitably bound up in the parliamentary system. Sir Robert Filmer condemned the system on the ground that each representative ought to represent the entire nation and not merely a locality. Wren brought a not dissimilar criticism. “The Concernments of the severall parts of this Nation," he wrote, “are very different in Reference to Property and Riches; some parts subsist upon Mines and Cole, others upon Manufacture, some upon Corn, others upon the profits of Cattle, London and the Sea-Ports upon Exportation and Importation ; And it is not possible but that when those several things come to be regulated by Laws, the different parts of the Nation must necessarily
· Preface to “Holy Commonwealth."
: "Observations on Aristotle's Politiques touching forms of Government." E 665. Sidney also alludes to this criticism in his answer to Filmer's “ Patriarcha," Discourses," p. 451.
CONTEMPORARY CRITICISM OF
espouse very different interests.” 1 This is an interesting if not a vital objection to democracy.
Of the individual proposals of “Oceana” the agrarian came in for the severest criticism. The other propositions were also condemned, rotation on the grounds that both houses would immediately repeal it, and the peculiar parliamentary system on the grounds that the lower chamber would not consent to be forbidden to initiate legislation.
But interest concentrated round Harrington's proposals for dealing with the land. These were open to the obvious comment that they were inconsistent with individualistic principles. It was argued that the restriction of property was a check to industry and honest labour. Wren pointed out that “the Liberty of disposing as a Man thinks fit of his own, is Essential to the Propriety we now dispute of.” 2 Harrington had realised this and attempted to work out the details of the scheme in the spirit of Bentham and Mill. Wren either could not or did not want to follow the working of Harrington's mind, and criticised him for this very method. Although he was himself taking the point of view of the individualist in condemning the agrarian, he criticised Harrington for adopting the less drastic principle, based as it was on the view that State interference should be minimised and made as unobjectionable as possible,
No man shall be more than thus rich," instead of the more uncompromising Spartan principle, “ Every man shall be thus poor.” 3 In doing this he was both inconsistent and unintelligent.
The second criticism, which was commonly directed “1 Monarchy asserted or the state of Monarchicall and Popular Government: in vindication of the Considerations upon Mr Harrington's Oceana,” E 1853, p. 86.
• Ibid., 146. Considerations ... on Oceana," p. 81.