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published in 1787, but reprinted with additions in 1803! We awe told, however,that in Germany as well as in France, and also in England and in Italy, several treatises have appeared upon different branches of legislation;—that the civil and political laws of the Romans have been the particular subject of several works in Germany, in Italy, and in England, but principally in France; and that the principles and laws relative to property, to commerce, to taxation, have been explored and discussed in some works on political economy, in France and in England, but eminently in France, (en France surtout.*)— No foreign work, in any of these departments of knowledge, is specified, nor have we any other proofs, of the greater, and more successful attention, given to them of late in France, than the ex parte dictum of the Report, and the list of translations which we have copied above.—
It is indeed true, as is said by M. Pastoret, " that of all the periods of French history," (or, we may add, of the history of the world) "none was so fruitful in writings and projects on legislation, as the year 1789 and the following one" in France. —He unfolds, however, the true character and tendency of these speculations, when he subjoins, that the whole of the edifice of the French laws in all its parts, relations and details, was attacked and overthrown;—that ranks, dignities, privileges, taxes, revenue, the rights of property, the security of persons, the subordination of classes,—the most venerable customs,—the most ancient institutions,—the most redoubtable tribunals,—all yielded at once, to a flood of exterminating doctrines, so impetuous, that what had taken the deepest root, seemed to be most easily extirpated.—The spirit of inquiry and reformation, as it was then falsely called, or rather,—to speak in a language now universally acknowledged to be just, —the mania of innovation and impiety, seized upon the unhappy people of France, and became, more or less, the epidemical malady of the civilized world.—The faction of unbelievers with Voltaire, "the arch Theomachist," at their head, and the sect of Encyclopedists with the Economists as their auxiliaries, led the way in this mad debauchery of the human mind, and contributed indirectly to form the Jacobin pandxmonium of Paris, together with the host of demoniac levellers that sprung up in almost every country, and among whom our own Tom Paine held so conspicuous a station. Had it not been for
• M. Pastoret was probably ignorant of the existence of such works as Malthus' Essay on Population, Brougham's Colonial Policy, Jeremy Bentham's Principles of Legislation, &c. &c, in the same manner that M. Visconti had probably never heard of such philologists as Bryant, Lowth, Markland, &c
the illuminating, admonitory eloquence of Mr. Burke, and the heroic steadiness of Mr. Pitt,—names which we utter with the most intense emotions of gratitude and veneration,—England herself, the seat of liberty, of sound morals, of true political wisdom, might have fallen a prey to the powers of anarchy and infidelity in the counterfeit shape of " regenerated reason," and the whole of Europe might, at this moment, exhibit, what France presents to the philosophic eye;—but one wretched contrast,—the ferocious arrogance of the despot, and the miserable abjection of the slave.—The vertigo of speculation and change was felt even here; and if we too, had not possessed a tutelary genius in the leader of our public councils, the United States, instead of continuing to enjoy, that plenitude of freedom and happiness, with which they are still blessed, through the efficacy of their political institutions, and their domestic virtue, might now be only less miserable, vicious and grovelling, than the nations of the European continent.
Among the multitude of French writers on legislation and political economy, who undertook to enlighten and purify the world, at the commencement of their revolution, we know of none that has materially contributed to enlarge the sphere, or to explain the true principles, of these important sciences.—From this remark we do not except the manufacturers of the Encyclopedia, even D'Alembert, Turgot, Condorcet, Rousseau, Mirabeau, or any of the great authorities of the revolutionary school. Whoever has recourse to their works, in the hope of adding to his stock of solid information, on the subjects of which they treat, will, like ourselves, find that he does but waste his time on a mass of empty, though pompous declamation, of crude novelties, and visionary projects. Happily for mankind, they have lost their influence, and are now rarely or ever consulted, but with the view of gratifying curiosity.
We are willing to admit with M. Pastoret, that many of the productions of the day, to which he alludes, exhibited great ingenuity, much opulence of imagination, and beauty of style; but they were, for the most part, as he himself acknowledges, fitted rather to mislead and demoralize, than to instruct or reform.—There can be no doubt, moreover, that the National assemblies contained several men of splendid genius and profound sagacity, who, under more favourable circumstances, might have legislated to the most salutary effect; and that the labours and reports, of the committees of those assemblies, in relation to various branches of public economy, are not without an ample share of merit.
The present government of France has availed itself largely, in the formation of the new code, and in its regulations concerningmatters of domestic police, of the researches of the constituent assembly, and of the writings of a similar tenor, published in the early periods of the revolution.—Our readers may judge of the number and variety of the latter, from the language of the Report. " A volume would scarcely suffice," says M. Pastoret, M to record the titles alone, of the works on legislation, more or less useful and extensive, which successively inundated the press for some years. The imperial library now possesses no less than sixty thousand, and has not yet collected the whole.—If we add to these, all the occasional and ephemeral works, which were published daily, the number becomes infinite."
On the destruction of the old government of France, almost every individual, however humble his station or illiterate his habits, aspired and fancied himself equal, to the management of public affairs. This fatal illusion which filled the first assemblies with men of the most unsuitable character, Mr. Burke, in his Reflections on the French revolution, justly regards, as one of the principal causes of the calamities, which befel the nation. We ourselves are now suffering under the same evil, and should take warning from the melancholy example of France. We should learn in time, that something more than mere native acuteness, or common sense, is necessary to the functions of a lawgiver. To be enabled to take a comprehensive, useful view of " the various, complicated, external and internal interests, which go to the formation of that multifarious thing called a State," his understanding should be liberally endowed, and trained in a very particular way.—The intrusion ictojour national councils, of persons with contracted and uneducated minds, whose inaptitude for the station which they so preposterously usurp, can only be surpassed by their presumption, is a public mischief, much more serious than we generally imagine, although we are, by no means, without experience of its effects.—Unless it be speedily corrected, either by teaching the mechanical labourers of society, their inadequacy to the offices of legislation, or by a strenuous resistance on the part of those, who are sensible of this truth, to their absurd pretensions, it may, and indeed must lead, to the miscarriage, as it were, of the constitution, and the decline of all the public interests.
In allusion to the vulgar composition of the Tiers etats, and the Constituent assembly, Mr. Pastoret dwells with much emphasis, on the difficulties of legislation as a science. He correctly represents it, as one of the most intricate of the branches of human knowledge, from the infinitude of its relations, and the uncertain character of its objects,—of which the human heart, so unsettled and so mysterious, is the most immediate, and universal.—Antiquity, he adds, produced but few legislators amidst a number of philosophers, of poets, of artists, and of illustrious personages in all departments. The remarks which immediately follow this, deserve also to be quoted, and to be seriously considered by no very insignificant portion of our national representatives.
"But," continues Mr. Pastoret, "there are many things which men believe they understand well, because they see them incessandy in operation before their eyes.—For several years, it did not appear to be doubted in France, but that the science of legislation, was to be easily mastered by all minds. The most enlightened members of our public assemblies, were often overcome, in their tumultuous debates, by active and vehement mediocrity.—It was in vain that they appealed to the lessons of experience and the principles of justice; the more the public agitation in or eased, the less were they attended to,— the less could they be heard.* Of all sciences, legislation is that which has most to apprehend from political storms and divisions. Under the direction ef violent passions it is rendered
* How well does not this testimony, from the pen of one who was himself a conspicuous member of these assemblies, accord with the doctrine advanced in-reference to them, by Mr. Burke, in his Reflections on the French Revolution. The following passage from that work, furnishes matter for very serious thought to every American, and indeed to the citizen ofevery country, where the principle of representation prevails—" Whatever the distinguished few of a deliberative assembly may be, it is the substance and mass of the body which constitutes its character, and must Anally determine its direction. In all bodies, those who will leacf, must also, in a considerable degree, follow. They must conform their propositions to the taste, talent, and disposition of those whom they wish to conduct: therefore, if an assembly is viciously or feebly composed in a very great part of it, nothing but such a supreme degree of virtue as very rarely appears in the world, and for that reason caanot enter into calculation, will prevent the men of talents disseminated through it from becoming only the expert instruments of absurd projects! If, what is the more likely event, instead of that unusual degree of virtue, they should be actuated by sinister ambition, and a lust of meretricious glory, then the feeble part of the assembly, to whom at first they conform, becomes in its turn the dupe and instrument of their designs. In this political traffick the leaders will be obliged to bow to the ignorance of their followers, and the followers to become subservient to the worst designs of their leaders."
"To secure any degree of sobriety in the propositions made by the leaders in any public assembly, they ought to respect, in some degree perhaps to fear, those whom they conduct. To be led any otherwise than blindly, the followers must be qualified, if not for actors, at least forjudges; they must also be judges of natural weight and authority. Nothing can secure a steady and moderate conduct in such assemblies, but that the great body of them should be respectably composed, in point of condition in life, of permanent property, of education, and of such habits as enlarge and liberalize the understanding."
subservient to the violation of its own fundamental maxims, and to the perpetration of the most intemperate and impolitic acts of injustice; it 1s made the agent of extraordinary and violent measures, which rarely fail to sap and destroy, the very authority they are intended to uphold."
Mr. Pastoret is prodigal of applause in favour of all parts of the Napoleon Corpus juris. His sycqphancy in this respect is the more unpardonable, as no person is better qualified than himself, to decide correctly on its merits. The utter insufficiency of the "civil code," from the haste and negligence with which it was framed, is felt and privately acknowledged, by •very lawyer of France. Our readers may themselves judge of "the criminal and commercial codes," of which we appended translations to our two last numbers. They legislate for a vast empire, as the most rigid disciplinarian would do for a college of froward bovs, or as the founder of the severest of the religious orders, with respect to his followers.—Their provisions extend, to the most inconsiderable actions and details, of common and commercial life, and leave nothing to discretion or free will. The main drift of the whole of this new system of jurisprudence, is, evidently, to rivet and complete, by the more minute and comprehensive operations of municipal law, that political servitude which has been established, and is chiefly supported, by the terrors of the sword.
There is something almost ludicrous in the manner, in which Pastoret speaks, of the law-giving zeal of his imperial master. "In the mean while," says this fervid convert to despotism, after mentioning the political troubles under the Directory, ** an illustrious general returned triumphant from the fields of Italy, and with his mind solely occupied with the establishment of the empire of the laws, at the moment when he had just exerted all the potency of arms, the desire of reforming them was the first sentiment which he uttered,—the only one which he felt,—while he was overwhelmed with congratulations on his victories, which even then seemed too great to be surpassed. The Emperor then demanded from others, a benefit which he was soon to impart himself. Returning a second time after new dangers and new triumphs, to frame a civil oode was always his first and most active thought."* With
• Pastoret was, in 1790, minister of the Interior to Louis the XVI.; afterwards president of the electoral assembly of Paris, and a most violent de•laimer against king-tyrants (les rois-tyrans).—When a member of the council of five hundred, his speeches breathed the most impassioned republicanism. The following phrase from one of them may serve as a specimen. " Wo are all children of the constitution, and we ought to consign to execration the man who can regret a master and tyranny." Tempera mutantar.
Vol. III. F