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The Germanic revolutions have stopped short with a modified constitutionalism, somewhat after the English inodel, it is true; but this is not the feature in them we inost admire. The great thing, and which, we think, will turn out to be the great event of the age, is the reconstruction of the German empire, destroyed by Napoleon in 1806, or the reconstitution, on an improved plan, of the whole of Germany into one grand federative state. The important feature in the movement is the adoption of federalism as the counterpoise of centralism, the characteristic principle of feudalisin, and that which has made and still makes the glory of our American governinent.
The French may fancy that they are adopting, in substance, the American system ; but they are mistaken. They do not adopt it all. Their system is democratic centralism. They merely exchange their centralized monarchy for a centralized democracy,--one form of despotism for another,—and thus, as we say, only “jump from the frying-pan into the fire." But, although there is a tendency amongst us-resulting from foreign influences—to this centralized democracy, our political system is a federative democracy, dividing the powers of government between the general government and the several state governments. It is this division that gives to our government all its strength and permanence, and its admirable practical workings. Destroy this division, break up your federal Union, and restore to each state all the powers of government, or absorb all the powers in one grand central government, and order and freedom wonld not remain a week ; anarchy or despotism would instantly ensue. This is wherefore we look for no good results from the French revolution. Their old revolution effaced the provinces, and destroyed the conditions of a federal repubsic; and a centralized democracy is a despotism, except where the great body of the people are Catholic, really Catholic, and the church is independent.
But the Germans, having providentially the requisite conditions of a federative state, adopt all the essential features of our American system. The plan proposed by the diet at Frankfort unites all Germany in one federative state, dividing the powers of government, between the federal government, or empire, and the several particular states already existing, and guaranties through the empire to the people of the several states certain rights or liberties in face of the local governments. The idea is grand and sound, and when adopted and perfected in detail, as we doubt not it will be, it will, after ours, be the most perfect system of government, in our judgment, that is now practicable. It will secure order and efficiency, on the one hand, and the freedom of the subject, on the other,-placing the nation at once under shelter from despotisin and from anarchy. It appears to us practicable ; for the empire still lives in the traditions and recollections of the German people, and its introduction requires no violent change in their Inabits, and no sharp separation of their present and future from their past. We permit ourselves to hope that something will be gained for European politics by this Germanic inovement, and if it succeeds as well as it ought to succeed, we may expect great results from it. The restoration of Polish nationality, and the reconstitution of the Polish kingdom or republic, must follow; the further advance of Russia will be effectually checked ; Hungary will gain hier independence of Austria, and, if she retains her faith, take possession of the East of Europe, compel the Turks to raise their camp and depart, plant the cross anew on St. Sophia, and reconsecrate the city of Constantine.
In what we have said, we have aimed to settle certain principles, which should guide us in judging of the recent events in Europe, and in our efforts to turn them to the account of liberty and social well-being. These are stirring events, and it were easy to grow eloquent over them, -quite easy for ns, for we should have only to repeat the phrases our young enthusiasm supplied us with eighteen years ago, on the occasion of the French revolution of July, 1830. But mere words cannot charm us as they did then; and we look now to things, and not to fine phrases, though the fine phrases of a Lamartine. We have heard many a time the big words, “ LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY.” Nay, we have sometimes pronounced them. They are not difficult words to pronounce; to secure their true import is the difficult thing. The European populations have proved themselves able to pronounce them; whether they are able to understand and realize their meaning, time must show. If these recent events secure an increase of political and social well-being,—if they secure to the people, the great body of the toiling, and suffering, and uncomplaining people, some alleviation of their burdens, and some chance to enjoy the fruits of their labor in peace,—we shall be thankful for them, and half ready to pardon the miserable demagogues and phrasemongers who have brought them about.
The views we have presented we have deemed worthy of the consideration of our own countrymen. This country is in a position to exert great influence on the reorganization of Europe, and it is important that it should exert an influence in favor of true freedom. To do this, we must let foreigners understand that the democracy of our newspapers is not the democracy of our institutions, but the democracy which we keep for electioneering purposes; and that they must beware how they take it to be the principle of our national growth and prosperity. If they imitate us in that, they will only imitate us in what we have borrowed from them, and which only serves to disturb the working of our own indigenous system, -to peril its existence.
And not for foreigners only are these views necessary. Foreigners do not comprehend our American system of politics, and they almost invariably imagine that the democratic element is the only legitimate element that we recog. nize, that in which our whole political order takes its rise, and in accordance with which it is to be interpreted. Consequently, all the influences which operate upon us from abroad tend directly to convert our mixed government into pure democratic centralism, which is to genuine republicanis whạt despotism is to monarchy. Moreover, the same infinence is exerted by our thonsands of fanatics and philanthropists, in great part hoine-born and home-bred, who no sooner get a crotchet into their heads than they agitate to transfer it, forth with, to the statute-books. It is necessary, then, that we be on our guard. Our fathers established no system of absolutism, democratic or monarchical. They divided the powers of government between the general government and the state governments, and, by dividing, limited them; which made liberty possible. All power, indeed, under God, emanates from the people, and is exercised by them, through their representatives, but only in a legally fixed and determinate mode, as binding on the people themselves as on their public servants. The people exist and can exercise their power only according to law; and thus our government is a government of law, and not of mere will, and therefore a free government. Let us look well to it, that, in our admiration of European revolutionists and French centralisin, we do not suffer this adınirable system of government to be corrupted, to grow into a centralized democracy, and we, ere we apprehend danger, find onrselves in a worse condition than that from which the Old World is now making such terrible efforts to redeea itself, and, we fear, making them in vain.
THE LICENTIOUSNESS OF THE PRESS.*
(From Brownson's Quarterly Review for October, 1849.]
In the article on Recent European Events, written before we had received the news of the memorable socialist insurrection in June, 1848, which it took four days of hard fighting to suppress, and which resulted in the victory of the party of order under General Cavaignac, we feared that the moderate party, attempting to conciliate the revolutionary party by compromise, would destroy themselves and prepare the triumph of anarchy or despotism, and we regarded LedruRollin as not unlikely to turn out to be a stronger man than Lamartine.
At that time Lamartine was the great man of the revolution, and Ledru-Rollin was apparently without influence. Yet events have proved, what we then supposed to be true, that the latter was from the first the real leader of the revolutionary party. He is a bold, reckless demagogue, not without talent of a certain kind, with a determinate end in view, which he is prepared to seek at any and every hazard, —a daring and unscrupulous revolutionary chief, who cares not how much virtue he tramples upon, how many hearts he wounds, how much blood he spills, or how much misery he causes, if he can accomplish his purposes. Such a man, in times of disorder and confusion, is always sure to have a strong and determined party, and never ceases to be dangerous so long as he lives.
On the other point on which we expressed our views, our fears have not been fully justified. The party of order, the moderates, as they were then called, have proved themselves stronger and more resolute and energetic than we dared hope; but the red-republicans, though defeated, have not yet been vanquished, or ceased to be forinidable; and the party of order are yet far from having gained a definitive victory. One thing, however, they have gained.
" The state, we said, “ cannot be constituted on the revolutionary principle, nor recognize the right of the people to abolish the government; for every state must have as its basis the
* The Law of the Press. Speech of Count de Montalembert, in the French Legislative Assembly, July 21, 1849.
right of the state to command, and the duty of the citizen to obey.” “ The revolutionary party,” we said, “ must be arrested, or it will subvert the new institutions before they get fairly into operation.” Every sober Frenchman appears now to be well convinced of this. Three times, within less than eighteen months, the revolutionary party has attempted to subvert the very republican institutions it had forced upon the country, and France seems now to be thoroughly convinced that her regeneration must come from order and liberty, not from revolution and anarchy. She has taken her stand on the side of the former against the latter,--solemnly proclaimed. No more revolution, no more destruction, no more anarchy; but whether she will be able to maintain the very just and common-sense position she has assumed remains to be seen. Thus far, she has maintained it firmly, and, under the circumstances, nobly; and the government of Louis Napoleon, thus far, deserves the gratitude of Europe and the Christian world.
But the enemies of order, of society itself, are in France and in entire Europe neither few nor inactive, and he who to-day counts on the speedy triumph of authority in the European nations, and the restoration of social peace, will most likely be deceived. A large portion of the people have been corrupted, and the infection spreads from the cities and towns into the villages and country. In the earlier half of the eighteenth century, it was the higher classes-kings, nobles, aud even, to some extent, the clergy–who were corrupt, who had lost their faith, despised morals, and dreamed of a sensual paradise. The bulk of the people, especially the peasantry, were comparatively sound and virtuous. Now, it is or is becoming the reverse. The French revolution of 1789 chastised and corrected the upper classes, and they are now in general the most upright, moral, and religious portion of the community; but the lower classes have taken the infection, have learned to scoff at religion, and ceased to look for a celestial recompense, or to believe in immortality. They become the ready instruinents of base and unscrupulous demagognes,-combustibles, which a licentious press can at any moment kindle for a universal conflagration. In all European countries there are plenty of educated scoundrels, especially Poles and Italians, ready to inflame them with their incendiary appeals, and of able military men to conduct them in their nefarious war against society,—and plenty of decently dressed sympathizers in