« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
through which the philosophic eye looks into Infinitude itself;"* both of which remarks are in accordance with our own fundamental observation, that “all sciences are but the different spires of the same common temple whose foundation is ali knowledge." A profound inquiry, therefore, into the bearings of any one of the influences in question would readily enough lead us into all the infinitules of social philosophy. But this would be, as it were, preaching a sermon of very great significance from altogether too inconsiderable a text, whereas the very aim of the present undertaking, of this Review, HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL, OF THE DIFFERENT SysteMS OF Social Philosophy, is to condense what has been already stated at large, to compress sermons into texts, volumes into paragraphs, and to express, as it were, in a literal sense, the very marrow, or most interior essence
, of all that is valuable, either in the speculation or practice of former times, and of the various races of men, in relation to the philosophy and science of buian society.
In regard to the Scholastic Philosophy of “the Dark Age,” after making due allowance for the remark of Hallam, that “ Few, very few, for a hundred years past, have broken the repose of the immense works of the schoolmen,"I and for the consequently limited information which the present age may be supposed to have in regard to their philosophy, we may venture, pretty safely, to assert, that it is eminently unworthy of any special consideration. This philosophy appears to have been mainly concerned in the unprofitable attempt to compass the most incomprehensible of all knowledge to man, and which must, inost probably, ever remain " a sealed book” to him, knowledge of the essential nature of God, or what we nay venture to style the inetaphysics of theology, and that too by the most false systen of philosophizing. In the language of Tennemann, in regard to this Scholastic Philosophy, “The human mind thus endeavored at once, without any substantial knowledge or previous discipline, to grapple with the greatest of all questions, the Nature of the Divinity, and by a course, the reverse of that pursued by Grecian philosophy, beginning with this great principle, sought, in its descent, to embrace the circle of all acquired knowledge." In short, these scholastic philosophers, in cominon with a great many others, though these more especially than any others, adopted, in their search after truth, the preposterous mode of proceeding. or attempting to proceed, from the unknown to the known, instead of the very reverse, which is undoubtedly the only true mode of philosophizing, in every department of knowledge, that of proceeding from the known to the unknown. It should be superfluous to reinark that such a mode of philosophizing, especially when applied to such objects as were mainly aimed at by the Scholastic Philosophy, must ever prove barren of useful results.
In regard to the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Romish Church, during “the Dark Age,” nothing special need be said in this review. That it was adapted to the times, without which it could not well have flourished, that it exerted in the main a salutary influence during those times,
* See Carlyle's Sartor Resartus, book i., chap. 11. The writer is not able to refer to the work, speech, or essay of Burke, in which the idea cited in the text was used by bím. † See Part i of this Review, in October No. of Merchants' Nagazine, for 1859. * See Middle Ages, chap. ix., part ii.
$ See Tenneman's Manual of the History of Philosophy, as translated by Arthur Johnson and revised J. R. Morell, section 239.
and more potential than had ever been exerted before, or has been since, on human society, by any form of theocracy, and that it was, nevertheless, substantially the same kind of authority to which mankind in the earlier and ruder stages of society are generally prone to pay homage, are propositions which should be too generally recognized to need comment here.
In regard to the Crusades, very much might be said, of great and rare interest to the social philosopher, as well as to the mere critical inquirer into European history. But that which might thus be said is hardly snggested with sufficient prominence to be dwelt upon here, consistently with the scope of this review, as already indicated.
The Crusades not only illustrate, like the wars of the Saracens, the power of the religious sentiment, or of religious enthusiasm, on the general movements of society, but they illustrate the generalizing and systematizing influence which Christianity had already begun to exert on Europe-uniting all its different nationalities in a common enterprise. They illustrate also the influence of external causes on the development and growth of society, bringing Europeans into contact with foreign nations of Asiatic origin, and with nations much more advanced in civilization, at that time, than themselves, the beneficial effects of which on their inanners and customs were manifestly displayed. They illustrate also a much more general fact, the close and intimate analogy between social and individual organism, intimating the general fact that social, as well as individual, life requires more vigorous exercise in youth, than in mature age, consistently with which fact, it may be observed that no human society, so far as history informs us, has ever yet attained to any considerable growth, or eminence in the family of nations, which did not, during its youth, have to sustain, in some form or other, desperate wars with other nations. The Crusades, in short, were, to Europe in general, what the Trojan war was to Greece, the Carthaginian and other early wars to Rome, the Tartar invasion to Russia, and the desperate struggles with the Danes and afterwards with the Normans were to the Saxons of Britain,
The important effects of the Crusades on European society are observable, externally, in the general improvement of manners and customs consequent thereupon, and, internally, in important changes in the anatomual structure of the society. For anything like an adequate delineation of these internal effects of the Crusades on Europe, reference must here be made to those justly renowne i inquirers into the anatomy of European history, Hallam, in his “ Middle Ages," and Guizot, in bis “ History of Civilization in Europe." One effect only will here be particularized—a great abatement of the nuisance of predatory lordly barons, whose prerogatives and privileges were absorbed by the central lord, or king, on one band, and by the communities of mechanics and artificers, on the other. On this point the language of Guizot, in reference to the Crusades, cannot easily be condensed or inproved: “It has been shown in what manner they had reduced a great nuinber of feudal proprietors to the necessity of selling their fiefs to the king, or to sell their privileges to the communities, in order to raise money for the Crusades.'
The Spirit of Chivalry, bighly interesting and renarkable feature in
* See Guizot's General History of Civilization in Europe, lecture viii., p. 208.
human history as it is, need not detain us long. It may be disposed of with the remark, that it was Christianity takin, the form adapted to the then existing state of society in Europe-Christianity applied to war, and a war-scourged state of society, or, at least, that it was the highly wrought spirit of a naturally brave and noble race of people elevated, softened, and refined by the spirit of Christianity, and aroused to the necessity of extraordinary efforts to redress extraordinary grievances. In no similarly unsettled and babitually war-scourged state of society was such a noble spirit ever exhibited by mankind. Nor can it reasonably be doubted that the rude warriors of Europe, during that age, were indebted, for much of that noble spirit of chivalry which has rendereil them illustrious, to the beneficent influence of Christianity, on which having already dwelt at some length* in a former article, it would be unnecessary repetition to dilate again in this.
It may indeed be said, that true courage is nearly always chivalrous, magnanimous; but it is never so much so as when chastened and refined by the religion of Christ, as when imbued with Christian principles, as when it has been baptized, as it were, not with water, but with the genuine spirit of Christianity.
If the justis renowned chivalry and magnanimity of the Saracen warriors of the same age should be urged against the view here presenter, as to the influence of Christian ideas in begetting the Chivalrous spirit, it is to be replied that the Saracens themselves were quasi Christians, being imbued with the Mohammedan religion, which, as we bave before had occasion to remark, may be regarded as a kind of spurious Christianity, embodying many of its noblest principles, and that the Saracens of that age had the advantages of a much more advanced stage of civilization than that of the Europeans, to illustrate and embellish their chivalry.
The Feudal System, so often the theme of loose and superficial remark, not only in common conversation, but in essays, historical treatises, and eren in works of more scientific pretension, may rather afford us occasion here to criticise the prevailing misapprehension as to its essential character, than for any particularly noteworthy observation which it suggests.in relation to the philosophy of society.
The idea has prevailed hitherto, almost universally, notwithstanding some faint disapprovals of it, by eminent authority, that the Feudal Sys. tem was, in some sense or other, an essentially different arrangement of society from ans that had existed before or has existed since, that it was a peculiar institution, and that it was one of the prominent causes of the disturbed and distracted state of society which existed in Europe during the greater part of the Middle Age. The truth is, on the contrary, that the Feudal System was essentially, and to all intents and purposes, simply that kind of political arrangement which has always existed, and must always exist, to a greater or less extent, in such a rude, unsettled, and warlike state of society as then existed in Europe, and it was the effect rather than the cause of the existing condition of European society. Nay, in a larger sense, we might venture to say it was, essentially, pretty much the same arrangement of society that now exists in Europe, and in America, the real difference between the two states of society being in
* See sixth No. of this Review, in May No. of Merchants' Magazine.
the different modes in which the activities of the social arrangement were manifested.
It seems to be commonly imagined, and so it is expressly laid down, by the superficial law writers, * that the distinctive peculiarity of the Feudal System was in respect to landed tenures, and consisted in this, that all lands were held of some superior, and only upon certain conditions ; most commonly those of military service-the barons holding ing directly of the king, or “lord paramount," on such conditions, and the vassals holding of the barons, on similar conditions. But in what essential or substantial respect did this species of landed tenure differ from that which is generically termed allodial, as contradistinguished from feudal, and which now generally prevails in Europe, and universally in the United States of America ? Is not land everywhere, in these countries, and, in short, universally throughout civilized society, held by individuals, of some superior, as recognized by law, for example of the State, primarily, and, in a multitude of instances, of some individual landlord, secondarily? Is not land, universally throughout civilized society, held, moreover, upon conditions- upon the condition that the taxes be paid, and, to a very great extent also, upon the further condition, that the rent be paid? Or is it supposed that the nature of landed tenure is essentially varied by the fact, that the condition on which land is held, as under the Feudal System, is, for tbe most part, military service; that, in short, the rent is to be paid in shields and lances, or in so many " horse, foot, and dragoons ?" What real or essential difference does it make whether the rent to be paid for land, whether to the State, through its tax gatherer, or to the landlord, through his bailiff, be so many lances, 80 many raccoon skins, or so many dollars in cash? Is not the real difference between these several cases rather in the different conditions of society, which render lances a paramount commodity of exchange in the one case, raccoon skins in the other, and cash in the other ?-thus again verifying the great fundamental truth so often before remarked upon in this review, (substantially, if not in so many words,) and which we shall find repeatedly cropping out in Sociology, like the fundamental granite of geology, that it is the condition of society which determines and gives form and direction to the political arrangements of the society, rather than those political arrangements which determine or give form and direction to the condition of the society.
Hallam, in his remarks on the Feudal System, has recognized, to some
* See Coke, Blackstone, Kent, et id omne genus of snperficialists in Social Philosophy-a remark not intended to disparage these justly renowned names, in respect to their contributions to mere jurisprudence. But how extremely superficial is the intluence of the mere jurist on the condition of society and how equally superficial are the ideas of such, for the most part, in respect to the philosophy of society. Kent, for example, in his remarks on Feudal Tenures, stumbled op the tiuth in question, in one place, where it projected above the surjace, but he had not the discernment to recognize it. He says, in the very commencement of his remarks on ihis topic, "some writers have supposed that the sources of feuds were not confined to the Northern Gothic nations who overturned the Western Empire of the Romans, and that an image of feudal policy had been discover. ed in almost every age and quarter of the globe." See Kent's Commentaries on Law, vol. ili., p. 489, third Am. ed., and authorities cited in note thereto, which abundantly sustain this opinion, which precisely coincides with that expressed in our own text. Yet Kent, like a host of others, ignores the opinion, and passes very lightly over it. In fact, Chancellor Kent seems to have been a man who staggered under the vast weight of his learning, and tumbled to the right and left, not unfrequently, with confused and devious steps. He does not appear to have possessed that herculean frame of mind which can move forward, unencumbered and unimpeded, by the most prodl. gious load of knowledge-steadied and rendered inore direct in his motion, rather than unsettled by its weight. The learning of Chancellor Kent has often served to obscure rather than to illustrate his native talent-a remark not exclusively applicable, by any means, to that highly merito. rious jurist and scholar.
extent, the truth of the observations here inade, although with rather too timid hesitancy, and without that decisiveness and boldness of enun. ciation which should characterize one who is thoroughly master of the idea. He says, “ If the view that I have taken of those dark ages is correct, the state of anarchy wbich we usually term feudal, was the natural result of a vast and barbarous empire feebly administered, and the cause rather than the effect of the general establishinent of feudal tenures."*
One other remark on the Fendal System it is proper here to make, as having a direct and important bearing on the philosophy of society. The two principal kinds of feudal tenure, tenure by knight service, and socage tenure, were distinguished from each other, chietly by this cironmstance, that the services incident to the toriner were uncertain, while those incident to the latter were definite and certain. Now it was precisely this former species of tenure-that by knight service-- which was essentially uncertain as to its requirements, that was universally held to be by far the more oppressive and injurious, so that when, in the 12th year of Charles II., a statute was passed abolishing tenure by knight service, and converting all landed tenure into " free and common socage," with some moditications of the tenure in socage, the feudal system, or all that has been commonly held to be peculiarly injurious in that system, was considered virtually abolished in England. This great prominent fact, concerning the Feudal System, it must be obvious, is a powerful corroboration of the fundamental remark made in the foregoing part of this review, that the essentiul nature of the immediate evils of all bud government is UNCERTAINTY. We find that so soon as the previously uncertain conditions on which lands were held, for the most part, under the Feudal System, became stable, fixed, and certain, the evils of that system vanished.
The intellectual night of Europe was however far spent before the Feudal System had released its hold on the land, or the Scholastic Philosophy its hold on the mind of Europeans; and streaks of the morning had reddened the intellectual horizon before the Spirit of Chivalry had quite subsided, or the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Romish Church, which still brooded, like a nightmare, over the mind of Europe, had been sensibly abated, although the stirring clamor of the Crusa les had then completely died away. And if this intellectual night was long and dreary, it was undoubtedly the precursor of a SPLENDID DAY." The morning star of religious reformation” shone brightly over the isles of Britain in the 14th century. The gladdening beams of returning day, discernible in the revival of ancient learning, and a wide spread spirit of inquiry, lighted up the horizon toward the latter part of the 15tlı, and in the commencement of the 16th century the sun of civilization, after a protracted night of ten centuries, rose once more on Europe, and ushered in a day, destined beyond doubt to be one of far greater splendor and far more important achievement, than either of the preceding days of human enlightenment.
It has been long customary to compute the dawn of modern science from Sir Francis Bacon, and to attribute its most distinguished achievements mainly to the influence exerted by his extraordinary mind on the
* See Hallam's Middle Ages, chap. ii., part ii. of the chapter. + See Part yil,