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Mrs. F, W. Kelsey 6-1-32
ÎN 1820, at the time when the various faculties of the Académie de Paris and the Collège de France were recommencing their courses of lectures, several persons combined to establish a Journal des Cours Publiques, in which they reproduced, from their notes, the lectures which they had attended. The course which I delivered, at this period, on the history of Representative Government, occupies a place in this collection. I did not revise the analyses of my lectures which were published. They were brief and incomplete, and frequently incorrect and confused. I have been requested to authorize a reprint of them. I could not consent to this without bestowing upon these analyses, at the present day, that labour of revision to which they were not subjected at the time of their publication. The two volumes which I now publish are the result of this labour, which has been more protracted, and has involved more considerable alterations than I at first anticipated. In order to accomplish it, I have frequently had recourse to my Essaies sur l'Histoire de France, in which I embodied, in 1823, some of my researches on the same subject. This course of lectures on the origin of Representative Government is now as exact and complete as if my lectures in 1820—1822 had been collected and revised with the same care as I bestowed, in 1827–1830, on the publication of my courses on the General History of Civilization in Europe, and on the History of Civilization in France.
When, in the year 1820, I devoted my energies to this course of instruction, I was taking leave of public life, after
having, during six years, taken an active part in the work of establishing representative government in our own land. The political ideas and friends with whom I had been associated were, at that period, removed from the head of affairs. I connected myself with their reversee, without abandoning our common hopes and efforts. We had faith in our insti. tutions. Whether they entailed upon us good or evil fortune, we were equally devoted to them. I was unwilling to cease to serve their cause. I endeavoured to explain the origin and principles of representative government, as I had attempted to practise it.
How shall I speak, at the present day, of bad fortune and reverse, in reference to 1820 ? What shall we say of the fate which has recently overtaken our fatherland, and of that which is perhaps in store for us? It is a shame to make use of the same words in respect to evils and dangers so prodigiously unequal. In truth, the trials of 1820 were severe and painful, yet the State was not thrown into confusion by them, and they were followed by ten years of regular and free government. In 1830, a still severer trial, the test of a revolution, was applied to our noble institutions, and they did not succumb; they shook off the revolutionary yoke, and gave us eighteen years more of order and liberty. From 1814 to 1848, notwithstanding so many violent convulsions, constitutional monarchy remained standing, and events justified the obstinacy of our hopes. But now the storm has struck every institution, and still threatens to destroy all that survive. Not merely kings and laws, but the very root of government, of all government-what do I say? -the roots of society itself have been reached, and are left bare and almost torn up. Can we again seek safety at the same source ? can we still believe and hope in representative government and monarchy ?
I have not escaped, any more than other persons, from the anxiety occasioned by this doubt. Nevertheless, in propor
tion as the events which have weighed upon us, for the last three years, have received development and elucidationwhen I beheld society pausing, by an effort of its own, on the verge of that abyss to which it had been brought by its own weakness-I felt the revival in my soul of that faith and hope which have filled my life, and which, until these last days, have constituted the faith and hope of our time. Among the infinite illusions of human vanity, we must number those of misfortune; whether as peoples or as individuals, in public or in private life, we delight to persuade ourselves that our trials are unprecedented, and that we have to endure evils and to surmount obstacles previously unheard of. How deceitful is this consolation of pride in suffering! God has made the condition of men, of all men, more severe than they are willing to believe; and he causes them, at all times, to purchase, at a dearer price than they had anticipated, the success of their labours and the progress of their destiny. Let us accept this stern law without a murmur; let us courageously pay the price which God puts upon success, instead of basely renouncing the hope of success itself. The leading idea, the national desire of France, in 1789, was the alliance of free institutions with hereditary monarchy. We have been carried far away from our design; we have immensely deceived ourselves and gone astray in our presumptuous hopes; but we should no less deceive ourselves in our sceptical despondency. God, who permits the burden of their faults to fall upon nations, does not make their own life to be to them a continuous falsehood and a fatal snare; our whole history, our entire civilization, all our glories and our greatness urged and led us onward to the union of monarchy and liberty; we have often taken the wrong road in our way towards our object; and in order to reach it, we shall still have to take many new roads and to pass over many difficult spots. But let our object remain the same; for there lies our haven.
If I should apply, at the present day, to these historical studies of 1820, all the lessons which political life has given me since that period, I should perhaps modify some of the ideas which I have expressed in reference to some of the conditions and forms of representative government. This system of government has no unique and solely good type, in conformity to which it must necessarily and universally be instituted. Providence, which allots to nations different origins and destinies, also opens to justice and liberty more than one way of entering into governments : and it would be foolishly to reduce their chances of success if we condemned them to appear always with the same lineaments, and to develope themselves by the same means. One thing only is important, and that is, that the essential principles of order and liberty should subsist beneath the different forms which the interference of the country in its own affairs may assume amongst different peoples and at different epochs. These essential and necessary principles of all representative government are precisely those which, in our days, are ignored and outraged. I venture to believe that they will be found faithfully expounded in these lectures ; and that on this account, even at the present day, my work will not be devoid either of utility or of interest.
LECTURE I. Simultaneous development of history and civilization.—Two errors in our method of considering the past; proud disdain, or superstitious admiration-Historic impartiality the vocation of the present age.—Divisions of the history
of the political institutions of Europe into four great epochs-Representative government the general and natural aim of these institations. — Objeet of the course; inquiry into the origin of representative government in France, Spain, and England.—State of mind appropriate to this inquiry
LECTURE II. eneral character of political institutions in Europe, from the fourth to the eleventh century.—Political sterility of the Roman Empire.-Progress of the Germanie invasions. - Sketch of the history of the Anglo-Saxons
sary to the proper stady of institutions—Essential difference between antiquity and modern societies, as regards the classian tion of social conditions - State of persons among the Angis Saxons.—Thanes and Ceoris - Central and local institutions Predominance of the latter among the Anglo-Saxons. - Its cause