Human Progression – Brief Outline…

CHAPTER 4 from:
Patrick Edward Dove
The Theory of Human Progression


BUT, while an equality of political rights may be posited as a logical ultimatum that satisfies the reason, and therefore as an ultimatum that may surely be expected to evolve ill one nation after another, as knowledge progresses and the arrangements of super­stition are broken down before the advance of truth, it must be remembered that the organization of society is the end to be achieved; and the practical ultimatum is the organization of society on true principles instead of on false principles.

To suppose that theoretic principles are incapable of being reduced to practice because they are theoretic, is not only an assumption that God has created man’s reason in opposition to the requirements of his terrestrial condition, but it is also a palpable inconsistency utterly untenable. All arrangements are necessarily based on theoretic principles of some kind or other; nor can man, by any possibility, make any construction of society which is not de facto the actual realization of a theory. It is exactly the same with philosophy. Every man might reject, in words, the claims of philosophic theories; yet no sooner does he proceed to act than he immediately gives his unconditional assent to some philosophical theory, and declares, in the most explicit and intelligible of all modes, his unreserved belief in philosophic propositions which involve the highest abstractions of the reason. Let the whole phenomenon of his action be translated into language, and at the bottom will necessarily be found a philosophic theory. Incapable as he may be of reflection, or of reducing his credence to its ultimate form, he has by the very fact of action pronounced judgment on the great questions of philosophy. No intelligent act can be performed without also involving, as an absolute necessity, a theory; and therefore the question lies, not between the acceptance or the rejection of theories, but between the acceptance of a true or a false theory, for one must necessarily be chosen.

Every form of society, every form of government, every system of association, every actually existing form of civil polity, is the realization of speculative propositions. Every government necessarily has its theory, of which that government is only the practical realization. Every system established by man, either in church or state, has been only the outward expression of an inward credence, which credence involved a theory; and this theory is true or false.

In the past arrangements of society, therefore, it is possible to detect the theories on which those arrangements have been based, to inquire whether they were true or false, and to trace them in their evolution as they changed from one to the other, under the influence of new circumstances and newly developed truth.

In Britain, the constitution of civil society, like that of ecclesiastical society, has only once been subjected to systematic arrangement; once only has the state been formed in such a manner that each individual has had his civil position allocated to him by law, while, at the same time, he was directly connected with the other individuals, forming together one political association.

The church, as one association, presented itself under the form of the papacy; the state, as one association, presented itself under the form of the feudal system. The papacy was the complete organization of the church on false principles; the feudal system was the complete organization of the state on false principles; and the history of modern society is the history of the gradual destruction of those two great systems—of the de-organization of the papal church—of the de-organization of the feudal state—of the reduction of both to unassociated elements; and of the gradual growth of those new principles, which shall ultimately rearrange those elements into a new form, and present once more a united church, constructed upon two principles; and an organized state, or real political association, completely organized on those principles of political truth which took their birth in the reformation of religion, and since that period have been undergoing development, becoming more powerful, more generally received, and more and more extensively applied.

The political construction of society, under the feudal system, was essentially based on the assumption of a diversity of orders, or classes, or castes. In its origin, the feudal system had been a genuine and true expression of man’s requirements. Superiority of position was acquired by superiority of skill, courage, or enterprise; and so long as it was a war system, and the lands were accorded to the warriors, the feudal system was correct in principle, and efficient in its operation. But when the system had grown, and had become not an accidental form produced by circumstances, but an intentional form confirmed by parchment laws,—when the settled warrior became a hereditary noble, and society presented no longer a genuine war construction, but a civil construction, which was the parchment representation of the genu­ine feudalism,—the superiority of merit disappeared, and its place was taken by a superiority of rank. The war feudalism was a spontaneous allocation of offices to individuals according to their capacities; but the parchment feudalism was the construction of civil society on the principle of hereditary rank, hereditary jurisdiction, hereditary legislation, and hereditary landed property. This system was the construction of civil society on false principles; and modern society is gradually growing out of this form of construction to assume another form of organization, based on the principle of equality.

Let us, then, ask, What was the essential form of society in its feudal construction?

A, B, C, D, and E will represent individuals, to whom the feudal system allocated the following positions:—
A is a king by right.
B is a great landlord by right, vassal of A and lord of C.
C is a vassal, holding land from B by military service.
D is a sub-feudatory, holding land from C for services not immediately military.
E is a serf belonging to A, B, C, or D, without political rights. He is property, not a person.

Such would be the feudal constitution of society.

Of course the word right is employed, in its customary false sense, to indicate what is received by law, or custom, not in its moral sense.

According to the feudal theory, A was supposed to derive his rights from God, and to be subject to God alone; and this doctrine was asserted in France down to a short period before the revolution. In England, it was considered to be abolished by the revolution of 1688.

B was subject to A, and derived his rights from A, whose vassal he was. These rights, however, became hereditary, and, when sanctioned by custom, B maintained them as inherent. B’s son was born a lord.
C was subject to E, and subject also to A; so that B was subject to A, and lord of C.
D was subject to C, and was proprietor of E.
E was property of D. He was master of nobody, not even of himself. All that he had belonged to his owner.

In this scheme of political society, A legislates for B, tries B in his great court, and punishes him on occasion. B, however, has a jurisdiction of his own, and tries C in his little or baronial court, and punishes him. On occasion, C has a minor jurisdiction over D. And D, being proprietor of E, legislates for him, and punishes him as he thinks proper.

Such was the feudal arrangement of society with regard to political rights. And this was the system effectually uprooted and destroyed by the French revolution—the system that has been, and still is, gradually undergoing a process of destruction in Britain. Feudalism has not been destroyed in Britain; it has only been generalized and modified. Vast changes have yet to take place before it finally disappears.

Let us now turn to the aspect of this society, when the doctrine or equality has been applied to it as far so liberty is concerned.

A is no longer a king, but a freeman.
B is no longer a lord, but a freeman.
C is no longer a military vassal, but a freeman.
D is no longer a socman, but a freeman.
E is no longer a serf, but a freeman.

And these freemen, being equal in rights, proceed to form a state, and elect a government for the regulation of the whole.

In the former case we have the rule of superstition and prescription; in the latter, the rule of reason and equal justice to all. In the former case we have privileges accorded to a few, at the expense of the rights (the moral rights) of the many; in the latter case we have no privileges, no hereditary distinctions, and no diversity of conditions, except those of office, of those produced by the more or less successful result of industry, skill, or enterprise. In the former case we have a system that contains within itself the destruction of justice; in the latter a system that contains within itself the construction of a jural society. In the former case we have a system that contains necessarily,—

  1. A cause of war of B against A, (the barons bridle the king.)
  2. A cause of war of C against B.
  3. A cause of war of D against C.
  4. A cause of war of E against A B C and D, because, A B C and D had deprived him of his rights as a man—as a moral being accountable to God.

In the latter case we have the obliteration of all just cause of war. Where none bas a legal right which is not accorded to another in the scheme of the state, the cause of internal strife is obliterated; and though governments go to war on very insufficient pretexts, populations seldom or never do so without a just cause. The obliteration of the cause, therefore, may fairly be expected to obliterate the fact.

The feudal system, with all its modifications past and present, however mild or constitutional, is nothing more than systematized slavery. At the bottom of society there must always be found the great masses in a worse condition than nature intended. And wherever the feudal system exists, or any remnant of it, that system, or its remnant, creates a cause of war among the classes of society; which cause of war creates perpetual uneasiness, frequent agitations, and occasional revolutions.

It must be observed that the feudal system had no place for the trader. The trader is a non-feudal element in society, and belongs to a different system of organization. His day is fast approaching, and he will ultimately push out hereditary feudalism from the direction of the state. He began without a place, without a rank, and almost without ordinary protection. As a Jew he was persecuted and cruelly wronged, barbarously treated because he had no brute force to repel aggression.[1]As a foreigner he was taxed and tolerated, and as a native he was a base trader engaged in ignoble pursuits.

The feudal system was organization on false principles, but it was organization; and so long as the organization was genuine and spontaneous, the feudal system was the true and living expression of man’s necessities, The leader was a leader, a lion heart who could dare and do. He led because he could lead, and was followed from instinct, which knows its leader and follows him. But when the feudal system was transplanted from the field to the court,—when the pen of the lawyer supplanted the sword of the knight, and the banner of parchment was more powerful than the pennon,—the life of feudalism was gone, and a clattering skeleton remained with its dead formalities. War feudalism was a good, and genuine, and true man; but parchment feudalism was a mock man,—the one was the organization of force,—the other the law copy of that organization, and the attempts to fix in perpetuity the form without the elements. In the one, power was the essential, and form the accidental; in the other, form was the essential, and power was the accidental. The one had a leader who did govern; the other, a king who was supposed to govern. The one had an aristocracy of talent; the other an aristocracy of sheepskin. The one gave lands because he first conquered them; the other gave lands because they fell into his hands. The one gave lands to men of the sword who could defend them; the other to fools and favorites. The one was a real lion who showed himself; the other was a stuffed lion with a fox for a showman.

Every human system grows, expands, arrives at maturity, decays, and dies. The system dies, but man does not die. Man goes on to new systems, which grow, expand, and die also; and again to new systems, which also die. But beneath the surface of the human systems there is a reality which does not die—a reality which evolves. One system teaches one truth, and another system another truth, and the truth remains when the system has disappeared. All attempts to fix systems in perpetuity are unnatural. The vital element is fled, and the body must perish, or if preserved is a mummy. And all systems preserved by law beyond their natural existence are mummy systems. And it would be no less absurd to allocate a maintenance to a mummy than to a system. If the man is alive, he must support himself; if dead, he needs no maintenance. And if the system is alive, it will make its maintenance because men require it; and if men require it not, it is a mummy system, and should have no maintenance.

All human systems, intentionally established, or reduced to legal institutions, originate in the credences of man; and so long as the credences last, the systems are natural, and do not decay. But when the credence advances, the system is no longer the expression of man’s requirements ; and the system if preserved can do evil, and only evil. With the advance of credence the system ought to advance also; for man, in perpetuating systems, perpetuates only the expression of his former ignorance. The feudal system was the organization of power, because man believed war to be the noblest occupation. It was power organized; and if it had been true that war was man’s real occupation, the feudal system was the true system of organization. But another element than force began to divide men’s credence—law. And the form of the feudal system was transformed from the right of the sword to the right of the sheepskin. The sword was bad, but the system was efficient so long as it was spontaneous. The sheepskin was an improvement on the sword; and had the system of the sheepskin gone back to the genuine origin of the system of the sword, it would have resulted in the same efficiency that characterized the power of feudalism. The sword has a right use and a wrong use—it may be in the hand of justice, or it may be in the hand of will. And the sheepskin also has a right use and a wrong use—it may be the expression of justice, or it may be the expression of will. The sword is force, the sheepskin is law; and when men advance from the organization of force to the organization of law, the parchment supersedes the sword, and injustice may be done by the one exactly as it was done by the other. It is a higher and more systematic kind of injustice, and so far it is a progress, as fine and imprisonment is an advance upon the torture wheel. The feudal system grew spontaneously, and the elements of its power were in the form of its spontaneous construction. But the form of its construction was not preserved, and feudalism decayed from the very attempt to perpetuate it.

Feudalism became hereditary, but neither courage nor skill are hereditary, and hereditary warriors are mummies. The hereditary system transformed the whole genius of feudal society, and the feudal system, as a war organization, had lost its power. The principle of feudalism, as a war system, was to allocate the lands to him who was the warrior; the principle of feudalism, as a parchment system, was to consider him warrior who held the lands.[2] And when the force organization of society gave way to the law organization of society, the hereditary principle was transplanted into the legislature, and men became hereditary legislators. But wisdom is no more hereditary than courage and skill; and the hereditary system of legislation—the parchment feudalism—became as inefficient as the hereditary system of defence—the pennon feudalism. A new element was required, and a new element appeared, to dispute the claims of hereditary force or hereditary law.

The pennon feudalism had a pursuit—war; and the parchment feudalism had a pursuit—pleasure, First, Mars, then Bacchus and Venus, has been the course of semi-barbarous man in all ages. But neither war nor pleasure will satisfy mankind; and man must progress beyond his mere animal desires. A new pursuit began to grow amid the wars and pleasures of feudalism—trade. This new pursuit was a new advance of society, and it introduced a new element in the shape of wealth. It was not merely trade, but trade beginning to be organized and systematized. Trade, like war or pleasure, had always formed part of the occupation of mankind. But feudalism, not content with organizing an army, had organized civil society on the war principle; and parchment feudalism organized society on the principle that the aristocrats were for pleasure, and the rest of the people for labor to supply their pleasures. “Priests are set apart for prayer; but it is fit that noble chevaliers should enjoy all ease and taste all pleasures; while the laborer toils in order that they may be nourished in abundance—they and their horses and their dogs.” Trade, however, crept in; and society began to admit a portion of the trade principle. And. this, like every thing else, began on false grounds; with privileges, charters, restrictions, exemptions, local boundaries, and a hundred other interruptions to the laws of nature. Trade, however, asserted its claims, and advanced a new element into the constitution of government. The burgesses were tolerated, because they had money and could pay taxes; and gradually the traders have pushed their way against the parchment lords, as the parchment lords pushed theirs against the pennon lords. The commons are partly knights who represent proprietors of land, and partly “citizens and burgesses, chosen by the mercantile or supposed trading interest of the nation.” And though the commons have never in reality represented the people of Britain, but at the most the wealthier traders, the direction of society may be inferred from the relative position of the commons now, anti the commons two or three centuries ago. Henry VIII. was a parchment king, whose will was law. The war lords had fought themselves out in the wars of the Roses, and as war lords appeared no more. The commons were a few cringing burgesses, without power. The king was the state, and, to all intents and purposes, the only real power in the state. He did what it has been the lot of few to do—he changed the religion of the nation and confiscated the lands of the church, and, in so doing, laid the foundation of the parchment power of the lords. A few reigns, and the commonwealth passed over, and the lords had found that law, and not the sword, was the genuine source of power. The lords were now the state, and admitted William of Orange to be the organ of aristocratic domination. This scheme has extended down to the present day; but another change has been going on, showing plainly that the power of the lords is no more permanent than the power of the king. The commons have taken up the power. It is now customarily admitted that the government cannot function without a majority of the commons; in fact, that the king reigns, but does not govern, and that a majority in the commons is the necessary element for carrying on the operations of the state. The lords have retired in solemn decency, and the knights and burgesses direct the affairs of Britain.

To suppose, however, that this change is ultimate, would be contrary to all the teaching of history. Parchment lordship is contrary to the credence of modern times. Men are beginning to believe that he who does not work ought not to be supported, as those who do work support the whole. The war lord worked, and worked hard. He fought, or was ready to fight, and his life was at stake for his wages. He deserved his reward. He was a man who led men; and so long as he was a real war lord, and war was the real pursuit, he was a genuine man, and filled an office for which men were willing to accord him wages. When he became a parchment lord, he still worked. He made laws, and ruled the country. He was to a certain extent necessary, like the bishop, who once worked also, and ruled the church. And in former days, the rule of the church was no more a jest than the rule of the state. It was a real office—a thing not of silks and drawing-rooms; but of the translation of the Word of God, and appearance at the martyr’s stake when requisite. The bishop was a pastor, a. real genuine pastor, who had a flock, and cared for it; and even now, if it were possible to reanimate the bishop, and make him again a leader, a genuine leader of men, there is no man in the country who could count followers with him. But both have outlived their time. The commons are said to rule, and the bishop’s voice is heard only in the minor wranglings of sectarianism. True, there are good and pious bishops and archbishops, and their writings, as cultivated men and ministers, are excellent. But as bishops, they are almost unknown[3]. The office is no longer requisite. And the parchment lord is also antiquated, because he does not work. There is no work for parchment lords, no demand in the market, nothing for them to do. Formerly, if there had been no lords, they would have been originated. Society required them, and would pay for them; and, if there had been none, society would have made them, and did make them. There was an office which men required to fill; an office that had its labors, its responsibilities, its dangers, and consequently its rewards. But if lords no longer lead, and no longer govern in reality; or if they govern not as lords, but as wealthy members of the state, influencing the election of the commons who do govern—their office is gone; like the war lords, who were useless when made hereditary, and settled on their estates. The war lords disappeared, and an enlisted army of real soldiers took their place. Men who were not born soldiers by caste, but who became soldiers by profession, have been universally substituted for the feudal soldiers. The feudal soldiers were inefficient; their office was taken up by men who could do the duty better, and against whom the feudal soldiers did not dare to appear. And so with the parchment lords. Their office was to make laws, to govern the country, to rule the state. And if they no longer rule the state, but have disappeared from the work before the enlisted legislators who were not born legislators, but became so, their office has vanished; and, if history tell true tales of the past, we may rest assured that time will ultimately accord the office to those who do the work in reality. Pleasure lords are too contrary to the spirit of labor which an age of trade requires, to be allowed long to occupy the first position. The work of parchment aristocracies is gone from their hands, and commons govern; and though titles are harmless in the present day compared to what they were once, there is maintenance in luxury without war, which, in an age of trade, is certain at last to reduce the question to a calculation of profit and loss, measured by money, and to make trading rulers act on the result of the balance sheet.

In estimating, however, the historic probabilities of Britain, various considerations must be taken into account. It seems quite certain that the pleasure lords cannot continue to occupy the first position, merely because they have a sheepskin with a few black marks upon it. But who is to take their place? The trading community are fast, very fast, pushing out the parchment holders. Land tenures are undergoing alterations. Old families are failing, not from the want of parchments, but from the want of wealth. Merchants are now the notables, the men of note who express the requirements of the country. But the pursuit of money is no more the ultimate pursuit of man than the pursuit of war or pleasure. The trader, in his turn, must cede the first place to those who express man’s higher requirements, Money is a means, not an end; and when those who represent the means have played their part, those who represent something beyond the means will assert their claims, and push the trader from the direction of the state. Man is a rational and a moral being, and his rational and moral nature must ultimately prevail to determine the arrangements of society.

Let us then look at the principles that have determined the past construction of British society. What have been the occupations of the governing class? What in fact has been, in the estimation of society, the highest pursuit of the civil and secular man?

1st. WAR. Society was constructed on the war principle. War manifested itself first in the form of barbarous war; second, knightly war; and third, national war; and then the war construction of society was finished. The war was then performed, not by the rulers in person, but by a service; that is, by men who fought because they were paid for it. The army was not the state, but the servant.

2d. PLEASURE. As one system arrives at its height and begins, although imperceptibly, to decay, another system, which is destined to supersede it, already has begun to take root and to glow up under the shelter of the old system. The war system gave birth to the political system, and the war leader was the origin of the political ruler. National war gave birth to the national court, and the national court gave birth to courtly pleasures, and the knights who had been field knights gradually became transformed into court knights. As the war system decayed, the court knights superseded the war knights, the accomplishments of the court were held in higher estimation than the ac­complishments of the field, till at last the fop was the genuine ruler, and society was constructed on the pleasure principle. Barbarous pleasures grew first, then refined pleasures, till at last the very corruption of manners necessitated a change.

3d. POLICY. Out of the courtly pleasures grew courtly policies. The ambition was now, not to be a warrior, nor a mere court gallant, but a statesman. An age of policy occurred, in which the destinies of nations, and the welfare of whole populations, were sacrificed to the crotchets of statesmen who made great experiments for their amusement. The population, who did the work and got the food out of the earth, had first been sacrificed for the war rulers, then for the pleasure rulers, and now they were sacrificed for the policy rulers. The balance of power was one of their crotchets, the integrity of the empire another, the balance of trade another, and the protection of trade and agriculture another. To these gentlemen Britain owes the American war, the French war, the national debt, the corn laws, the customs, excise, (in their present extent of evil,) and a great many other things not less destructive to the laboring community than was the reign of war or pleasure. War killed a man, and to a genuine man there is pleasure in war,—in fighting, contending, striving, and battling,—although at the last he is killed. It was a rude and fierce pleasure, and very destructive to society; but still a man had a chance of fighting, and that was something. But policy kills a man without even the chance of the fight, taxes him to expatriation, hunger-fevers him to death with thoughts of murder in his head, and intentions of murder in his heart if he recovers. The reign of policy was, and is, no less destructive to society than the reign of war, and it also must pass away, and is passing away fast. The policy statesman is making way for the trader; and the trader, who also is only a step in advance, and not a finality, is already sheltering the man who will supersede him—the political economist. The trader’s day is now, and every day will see the policy and pleasure laws clearing away, because they interfere with trade. Trade is now the genuine pursuit of Britain, as war was once; and as the feudal laws grew and decayed, and have been undergoing a process of abolition, which will not stop till every vestige of them is utterly obliterated both from the statute book and from the institutions of British society, the trading laws, which are at this moment pauperizing the population, must give way one after another till men discover that God has constituted nature aright, and that the only protection trade requires is protection from violence, and fraud, and state interference.

In endeavoring to fix the periods of war, pleasure, and policy, of course no exact boundaries can be assigned. The one system grew out of the other, and one was developing while the other was decaying. At the same time, it is easy to point out the period when each system was in operation, just as it is easy to perceive the colors in the rainbow, although we cannot exactly determine where the one color ends and the other begins.

The Roman period of British history belongs to the ancient world. It has little or nothing to do with modern development. It was the realization of a different system of credence from that which was to take possession of the world. The credence was false, and the system had worn out. The middle of the fifth century, then, was the period when the modern history of Britain commences.

The first period was expressed in barbarous war. From the shores of the Baltic, and from the neighboring countries, hordes of barbarous warriors poured forth under the names of Saxons, Danes, or Northmen. They were pirates by profession, pagans in religion, and men of the most dauntless courage, combined with the direst ferocity. Their trade was war, which they carried on relentlessly.

The Saxons settled in Britain, and laid the rude foundations of a civil state, Christianity began to exert its influence; and though the Saxon leaders or kings were for the most part warriors, the people would probably have settled down to peaceable agriculture had it not been for the arrival of new hordes of Northmen, who from the latter part of the eighth century invaded England, and continued the barbarous system of war down to the Norman conquest.

By barbarous war must be understood war which it not conducted according to rules which bind both parties; and this system may be said to have prevailed from the departure of the Romans to the arrival of the Normans.

The Normans introduced knightly war. A knight was not a barbarian. He had his laws of chivalry—rude at first, but gradually becoming more precise, more merciful, more fair, and more punctilious of honor. William was a knightly leader; neither a barbarian nor a king, but a war chief whose title was the sword, but still the sword of a regulator or systematizer.

From 1066 to 1485 was the period of knightly war, and Richard Ill. was the last of the knight warriors. His successor, Henry VII., was a king—a law or parchment king—a politic prince, who did his best to destroy the war retinues of the barons who had so long distracted the country with their minor dissensions. During this period we have two types of leaders,—one at the end of the twelfth century, the other at the beginning of the fifteenth,—namely, Richard I., who was more a knight than a king, and Henry V., who was a knight fast verging towards a king. Both were warriors, both performed prodigies in the field; but Richard was a knight leader, Henry a king leader. This was the period of warlike pleasures, jousts, and tournaments, which prepared the nobles for the court pleasures that superseded them in after times.

The wars now became national, and the individuals who performed the service had little or no connection with the cause of the wars. From this period down to James II., the king ruled; and he ruled not in the field, but in the cabinet.

This was the period of courtly pleasures; at first rude, coarse, and sensual, but gradually becoming more refined. The nobles became court gallants, and the warlike pastimes gradually died away. The court of Elizabeth was the type of the transition, and the court of Charles II. was the full-developed type of pleasure. Here were courtiers and courtesans in their glory; the first without courage, the latter without modesty, but very elegant and agreeable gentlemen and ladies, there can be no doubt.

England had never been so great as under the dominion of Oliver Cromwell, and Cromwell permitted no court gallants. And had England and Scotland understood their interests, there would have been no Charles II. and no James II on this side of the Straits of Dover. Twice England has missed her destiny, and suffered for it; once when Wickliffe taught religion, while Wat Tyler demanded the abolition of slavery and the destruction of the feudal system. These were voices which England would not hear; and England had a Henry VIII. and a Charles II. to do the work. And once when Cromwell would have organized the state if men would have let him. But they chose rather a king than a republic, and Charles II. abolished the feudal tenures, allowing the lands to escape; and George III., in consequence of that alienation, fixed the national debt on the laborers of the country. The third time that England’s opportunity occurs, it is to be hoped that sure work will be made of the evils that remain; and probably that opportunity is not quite so far distant as many imagine.

From the reign of William III. down to the reign of George IV. was the age of policy. Whigs and tories now began to rule. They were no longer war lords nor pleasure lords, but policy lords. Every thing now became a mysterious matter of policy. The most vague and ridiculous notions were esteemed profound truths, to which as much importance was attached by the nobles of this period, as had been attached to the shape of a frill by the court gallants of the former period, or to the punctilios of knightly war in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

The court women also, like the men, had progressed beyond the mere elegancies of the courtesan, and had become politicians or tools for political purposes. War was now not the pursuit but the engine of the politician; and national wars were engaged in at the expense of the people as matters of policy. The court of Anne represented the earlier form of this period; and in it we recognize pursuits essentially different from those of former courts. William had been half a king, half a tool in the hands of the policy aristocracy. The religion of the people had by no means been the great motive that led to the introduction of his Protestant majesty, but the protestantizing of the state, for the purpose of destroying the despotism of the crown. The monarch now ruled no more, but the ministers and the parties; and the monarch was the legal instrument in the hands of the parties; in fact, the effigy shown to the people to give validity to the arrangements of legislators and schemers. During William’s reign, the policy system acquired its strength, and in Anne’s reign it took the direction of the national affairs. Her court, consequently, became the scene of political intrigues, in which she was the puppet, the politicians the showmen, and the people the spectators who paid for the show. “The queen loved her own way, and, with the ordinary infirmity of conscious incapacity, was extremely jealous of any semblance of interference with the exercise of her authority; yet she was the constant slave of favorites, who in their turn were the tools of intriguing politicians. Though her preferences and dislikes had often no better foundations than the predilections of the toilet, it was upon them that the policy of her administration and the destinies of Europe depended. By a chambermaid’s intrigue Bolingbroke triumphed over his rival, the earl of Oxford. It was because the queen fondly doated on the Duchess of Marlborough, that her reign was ‘adorned by the glories of Blenheim and Ramillies;’ it was because Mrs. Abigail Masham artfully supplanted her benefactress in royal favor, that a stop was put to the war which ravaged the continent; it was in great part owing to the influence of the duchess of Somerset, another favorite lady, that the queen did not attempt to recall her brother, the Chevalier St. George. Thus, probably, a feeble-minded princess, influenced only by her waiting-women, determined that the Pretender should be excluded from England, a tory and high church ministry formed, and a Bourbon seated beyond the Pyrenees. Of the twelve years of her majesty’s reign, ten were years of fierce warfare, that laid waste the finest countries in Europe. The point at issue between France and the confederate powers was the succession to the Spanish monarchy; whether Philip of Anjou, a grandson of Louis XIV., or Charles Arch­duke of Austria, the second son of Leopold, emperor of Germany, should inherit the crown of Spain. England exerted her utmost force in this contest, both in men and money, though it was nearly indifferent to her interests whether Austria or France were aggrandized by the acquisition of Spain and America.” “But the splendid triumphs of Marlborough and Prince Eugene were an inadequate compensation for the decay of trade and rapid increase of the public debt and taxes.” This, however, was only the commencement of the policy system, which came to its full completion in the reign of George III, who was to policy exactly what Charles II. had been to pleasure; namely, the complete and full-grown type, who carried the system to its maximum, and indicated to a certainty that a change of system would take place ere long.

The whigs and tories, or policy lords, have governed England from the revolution of 1688 down to the present time; but a new system is in preparation, and must soon undergo its development. The policy lords are abandoning the direction of state affairs to men of facts and figures; and these facts and figures are certain in the long run to obliterate the policy system, and to establish the government of political economy.

During this period (from the end of the seventeenth century to the present time, nearly) church and state was the watchword of internal polities. The altar and the throne were the effigies, church and state was the war-cry, and the clergy and nobles were the priests of the superstition. Every thing was squared upon the plan of church and state policy. Scotland, which had withstood the arms of England, was overcome by state policy, and united legislatively and executively to the state. “This important measure was more popular in England than Scotland, where it was stoutly opposed by Fletcher of Saltoun, the earl of Belhaven, and the dukes of Athol and Hamilton, though the quiet acquiescence of the last with a majority of the Scots Parliament was procured by a judicious distribution of honors and bribes towards the close of the negotiations.” This was another step towards the generalization of government, which has been going on since the barons were denied the right of private war, and which process of generalization is as apparent in the history of France as in that of Britain.

Another and very important step was the suppression or suspension of the convocation of the church of England; a step which in fact destroyed the ecclesiastical liberties of that church, and made it a branch of the service, Eke the army. As soon as the convocation revives, a new era will commence for England.

The great reign of policy, however, was the reign of George III., which exhibited the system in full perfection. The policy of this reign appears now to be remarkable; but to the actors themselves appeared no doubt very wise and clever, and quite as indubitably right as war or pleasure had appeared to Richard I. or Charles II. The first great exhibition was the attempt to coerce the American colonies, “the deluded and unhappy multitude,” as the inhabitants of America were termed in the king’s speech of 1777. This was a policy war; and it cost Britain about one hundred and thirty millions sterling, the interest of which is now taken from the profits of the present laborers. And the policy of the war may be inferred from the fact, that the advantages derived by Britain from a trade with free America increased continually from the moment the transatlantic Britons were allowed to make their own political arrangements. The next piece of policy was the great French war, or series of wars, which was at first a war against popular democracy, and latterly a war against imperial despotism. The policy rulers of Britain carried out this war at an expense of about six hundred millions sterling; and, to defray the charge, the revenues of this and future generations were sold in perpetuity to Jews and money dealers.

Another piece of policy was the Union with Ireland without Catholic emancipation, and the union of the Protestant Episcopal church of that country with the church of England. The reign of policy, however, has culminated, and a new system may reasonably be expected to supplant it. Catholic emancipation, the reform bill, the emancipation of the negroes, and the repeal of the corn laws, are certain evidences that the reign of mere policy is dying away. Changes of this character, however, do not take place at once; but as new generations grow up in different circumstances, and with different associations, new credences supplant the old, and those new credences grow gradually into realization. The policy system is not dead, only dying. It still retains its power with regard to Russia, the great bugbear of the policy gentry, as if God intended the nations of the earth to progress only as the rulers of Britain would allow them. The Russians are the progressors, the centralizers, the generalizers, the reducers to rule and system; and the Russians arc doing that greatest of all state services—destroying the power of the nobles, and subjecting men to the laws of the state. Of course, Russia is a despotism, and cannot be otherwise without falling into confusion. There is a period in the history of civilization when the ruler is necessarily despotic, as there are evils which can give way only before the influence and beneath the hand of despotism. Despotism alone, whether democratic or autocratic, appears capable of destroying the superstitious ecclesiastical institutions which have descended from darker ages. Henry VIII. was a despot, and, had he not been a despot, he could not have uprooted the papal church and taken away its lands. The French democrats were despots, and they also uprooted the state superstition, and took away its lands. And who knows how soon a Russian despot may destroy the Greek church, and emancipate the whole of the serfs? Organization by all means, and at all hazards, appears the only mode by which barbarous nations can be civilized; and the real evil lies not in despotic power, but in the legal or parchment perpetuation of that power beyond the circumstances that make it arise spontaneously.

And yet of this progressing Russia, (which has already collected the laws of the empire, thereby laying the foundation of the ultimate supremacy of law, and not of man,) the policy rulers of Britain consider themselves bound by policy to entertain vague apprehensions, and in consequence to prop up the Mahomedan despotism, which does not progress. It would have been much more rational if England and France had driven the Turks out of Europe altogether. To allow the first geographical position in eastern Europe to remain in the hands of Mahomedans, is perfectly absurd; and if Russia can take possession of it, surely England, with Gibraltar, Malta, the Cape, &c., &c., can have no just ground of interference, except to make sure that the seas are kept open for her merchants. The seas are “the highways of the world,” and every nation has a right to require that they shall never be obstructed. Britain has already had two lessons in policy wars, and these might suffice to show their total inefficiency to produce even the end required, setting aside the question whether the end was desirable. Notwithstanding the efforts of Britain, America did become independent, and all that Britain obtained was her debt. And, notwithstanding all the efforts of Britain, France rejected the Bourbons, old and young, and all that Britain obtained was a much larger debt. And if the latter effort, which cannot reasonably be expected to be surpassed on any future occasion, was so utterly powerless to arrest the progress of advancing credence, surely the policy system may be laid aside as a mere superstition, destructive to those who act upon its dictates, and proven beyond dispute to be not the rule that should guide statesmen in their labors,

But the reign of policy is fast drawing to a close; and we must endeavor to estimate its logical successor: Looking to the past, what may we expect the future to be? This is the question for which we have endeavored to exhibit the principles of the past; and out of those principles we think there flows a future scheme of progress.

What have been the occupations of the ruling classes of Britain?

1st. War, which was barbarous war so long as the Northmen were afloat.

Knightly war, consequent on the Norman conquest. William was partly a barbarous leader, partly a great baron with his retainers, and partly a knight; or a war leader beginning gradually to grow into a knight. Richard I. was a knight, Henry V. was still a knight with a considerable degree of the court, and Richard III, the last warrior, was more of the courtier than the knight. These are the types or representatives of the war period of society. The nobles, or ruling classes, followed the same kind of development; first, barbarous warriors, then knightly warriors, then barons with retinues, who fought for causes, and then courtiers.

2d. Pleasure.[4] The nobles, from knightly war progressed to knightly courtesy in the former period, and the warlike pastimes at which ladies were present, prepared them for the court pleasures. Queen Elizabeth was a court lady, (still, however, with a smattering of the war system,) and in her court the nobles exhibit the feeble remains of knighthood, and the rapid growth of courtiership. In Charles II.’s time the war knight had become supplanted entirely by the court knight. Court pleasures were the summit of human aspiration for the rulers of the state.

3d. Policy. The introduction of a foreign ruler necessarily introduced foreign politics, and the courtiers naturally became schemers and intriguers. The court of Anne presents the pleasure courtier defunct, and the policy courtier assuming the first importance. In George III’s reign, the policy system had arrived at full perfection; and, if it could have been carried on without costing money, might have gone on perhaps much longer.

Between war, knightly war, courtly pleasures, and courtly policy, there is a natural connection. The one grows out of the other. Their order is not accidental. Courtly pleasures could never have succeeded immediately on barbarous war; nor could courtly policy have succeeded immediately on knightly war. We have here a growth; or expansion, or development, of the pursuits of the ruling classes; and, singularly enough, the connection of one system with another is still preserved in language. The ambiguities of words sometimes involve curious truths; and several words now in use in English are applicable to two of these systems. The word gallantry may mean gallantry in the field or in the court, in the former it belongs to the war system, in the latter to the pleasure system; and when court gallantry from ceremonious devotion became transformed into the Charles the Second system, the word intrigue expresses the action, and this is also applicable to the policy pursuits which followed. Thus:—

Knightly war, Court pleasures: Gallantry.
Court pleasures, Policy: Intrigues.[5]

But the policy system is drawing to a close. The balance, of power is an exploded superstition; the balance of trade is nearly exploded; the integrity of the empire is now a matter of little moment; and Canada or the West Indies might govern themselves without costing Britain another one hundred and thirty millions to prevent them; and the protection of trade and agriculture are very generally regarded as fallacious impostures, meaning monopoly, labor taxation, and increase of the landlords’ rents.

But what system follows policy in the natural order of development?

Policy is a very vague word as used by politicians. It had a definite meaning in the abstract, but in the concrete meant any thing that any party chose to advocate. In the abstract, it meant that certain measures, or certain modes of operation, would be advantageous to the country. But in the concrete, it meant a war with America, or a war with France, or the exclusion of foreign goods, or the deprivation of civil rights because a man held certain religious tenets, or the employment of spies, or the retention of the negro in slavery, or a host of other measures, all advocated by the ruling classes of Britain as matters of excellent policy. But while the policy superstition was in the ascendant, a vast trade was growing up in Britain, and traders have an unfortunate habit of regarding profit and loss as measured by money. And though traders are nearly as backward in ascertaining their real interests as agriculturists in abandoning their clumsy implements and adopting an improved system of cultivation, trade, with free discussion, gradually opens its eyes, and discovers that, alas! all this admirable policy has been only a delusion, a creditor by blood, glory, and pauperism, and a debtor to vast sums of gold.

Trade, then, imperceptibly, and almost unconsciously, begins to influence policy, not by denying that policy ought to rule, but by discovering and making manifest that certain acts which were assumed to be politic are actually disadvantageous; that they involve loss and not profit, and, consequently, that they ought not to be done. Knowledge reduces policy from its flights of eloquence to the investigation of facts and figures,—from its vague and mysterious superstitions to its plain and palpable truths, far less grand, of course, but still truths; and truths are powerful when profit and loss are concerned. And thus the dispute between policy and trade is not whether policy ought to direct the affairs of the state, but whether an act propounded as an act of policy really is so or not. Is it really advantageous? The policy gentlemen may enlarge on the glory of the British arms; the necessity of preserving the constitution, &c., but Trade replies, “Exactly. But does what you are pleased to term the glory of the British arms really conduce to the welfare of the country? Does your mode of understanding the constitution really conduce to the welfare of the country? Does your mode of imposing and spending the taxes really conduce to the welfare of the country? for in this case alone can your measures be looked upon as acts of policy.”

And thus the moment acts of policy come to be accurately measured, instead of having their value assumed,—and this measurement follows quite naturally in the order of progress,—the policy system is defunct, and political economy, which has grown out of it by the mere measurement of the acts of so-called policy, supersedes it. Policy was a major without a minor, or rather with any minor which the statesmen chose to put into the syllogism; but political economy undertakes to furnish the true minor,—not arbitrary, but scientific,—and a consequent rule of political economy takes place by a natural order of development.

And as this method appears so plain and natural, it would seem a fair inference that Britain is now about to see the policy system interred, and to see the political economists take the direction of the country. And that they will ere long take the direction of the state, appears beyond a doubt. But how far the government of Britain, upon the principles of political economy, is compatible with the preservation of an aristocracy and a labor taxation, of course remains to be proved. The economists have not yet the power, nor can they have it till a modification takes place in the representation; but when that modification takes place,—and perhaps few men would give odds that it does not take place in less than fifteen years,—the rule of the policy lords and parchment aristocracy is done. The moment a new change makes the representation more liberal than the present system, and really adapts it to the requirements of the country, that moment does a new era of government open up to Britain, and that moment do the economists naturally enter on the functions of state direction, provided no great accidents happen in the interval.

But neither is political economy the ultimate. It is a step beyond policy, as the reign of court policy was a step beyond the reign of court pleasure. But it is logically insufficient. There are questions which it cannot answer, or dare not answer. It must take the money management of the state, and determine the mode in which taxes should be levied, as well as the amount of taxes; and, in determining the mode in which taxes ought to be levied, it must come between two parties—the laborers who create the wealth of the country, and the landlords who consume the rents. This position will bring political economy to a stand. The difficulty is insoluble to political economy, and a new system must grow, develop, and assume the direction of the country.

Political economy professes to teach how value grows, increases, accumulates, and who makes it. The latter question, solved by a fair exposition of ascertained facts, first systematized, and then reduced to a law, lands society on the grand question, “To whom does it belong?” With this question political economy, as such, has no concern. It is beyond political economy, higher than political economy, and is what political economy is not—it is final in theory. Let political economy be as perfect as any science can possibly be, beyond it there lies the question, To whom—to what persons—does the created value belong? And first and foremost must come the question of the land. Suppose, for instance, it should be clearly proven, according to the science of facts, (as some have termed economy,) that it would be more beneficial to the whole associated community of Britain to abolish all customs and excises, and all taxes whatever except a land tax, which could be collected for nothing, or next to nothing, what would political economy say in that case? Would it abolish all the taxes that interfere with trade, and thereby absorb the rents of the lands, or would it determine that a man with a parchment, who does not labor, is to be preferred to a man without a parchment, who does? From this dilemma political economy cannot escape. There must be another system—one that can solve these questions by role—not arbitrarily, but scientifically—by a rule that is general, and applicable to all parties.

And this new system is necessarily politics, or the science of equity.

Political economy, in fact, is the natural preparative for a science of equity. All its questions solved, (and solved in such a manner that the solutions are incapable of dispute, and come to be taught as ordinary matters of ascertained truth.) there yet remains the question, “Who is the proprietor of the created value?” And this question arises necessarily so soon as political economy has discovered who creates the value. And thus politics, or the science of equity, springs necessarily in chronological order out of political economy; and when economists have directed the state affairs up to those questions which they cannot answer, they must cede the first place to the true politicians, or themselves become true politicians. And when that period arrives, the political evolution is complete, and there is the reign of equity or justice.

To sum up the historic probabilities, then, we may present the following table. The producers of food and of articles to exchange against food are the ruled; and the rulers appear under the respective forms of

And the order of the systems that have hitherto been pursued by the ruling classes, and of the systems which may be expected in future, is as follows:—


  1. The Barbarous War System.
  2. The Knightly War System.
  3. The Court Gallant System.
  4. The Court Policy System.
  5. The Political Economy System.
  6. The Science of Equity System.
  7. Finally, the Supremacy of Christianity.

Facilities of Mind.

  1. Combativeness and Lower Passions—Manual Arts developing.
  2. Combativeness and Sentiments—Fine Arts developing.
  3. Voluptuousness, with the Mechanical Arts developing.
  4. Cunning, with the Understanding developing.
  5. Benefit, or Utility, with the Practical Reason.
  6. Justice, with the Theoretic Reason.
  7. Benevolence, with the Mind developed.

If this scheme be correct, the civilization of man under the influence of Christianity—such as it was after its corruption, and such as it was when reformed by the resuscitation of the Bible—would manifest itself in the state in the predominance of

Starting point.—
– The Lower Passions.
– The Lower Sentiments.
– The Non-Moral Reason.
– The Moral Reason.
– The Higher Sentiments.

[By non-moral reason, we mean the intellect applied to external nature, or to such of the human phenomena as neither involve man’s relation to man, nor the laws that should regulate the interference of one man with another. By moral reason, we mean the intellect applied to the relations of men in the matter of interference, and to the discovery of the laws which should regulate that interference, and also the intellect applied to the relations of man to the divine Being.]

And this scheme, (imperfectly and crudely as we have advanced it,) we maintain, is borne out, first, by the analytic reason analyzing the forms of scientific truth and the order of scientific development; second, by the analysis of the components of man’s nature; and third, by the abstract form of history, so far as it has extended. And on these three grounds, if they coincide and mutually support each other, may be projected the natural probability of a period yet to come, when justice shall be realized on earth, to be followed by a period when Christianity shall reign supreme, and call into real and systematic action the higher and nobler sentiments of man.


[1] “Another considerable article of the crown revenue was the profits arising from the Jews. Our histories are every where full of the great and extraordinary taxes and impositions laid on them; they were a constant fund for a necessitous court. Mr. Maddox has produced a multitude of the exchequer records to evince this truth, but as he has not given any reason for the exercise of this arbitrary power, but only taken notice of the fact that they were so taxed ; and as this conduct of our ancient kings seems to have perplexed Lord Coke in some parts of his works,—we shall beg leave to inquire into the grounds and reason of this behavior; because such arbitrary and extraordinary methods arc contrary to the analogy of our constitution in other respects.

“Some think our kings had a right to use the Jews in what manner they pleased, and that their fortunes and estate were absolutely at the king’s disposal, and this by a grant from the legislature. For it appears by the twenty-ninth law of the Confessor, that the Jews were the absolute property of the king. The words are, Judæi et omnia sua sunt regis; quod si quispiam detinuerit eos, vel pecuniam corum, perquirat rex si vult, tanquam suum proprium: and the reader may see this law enforced among the ordinances of Henry II. and Richard I, concerning the Jews. He may likewise find a very memorable record in the first volume of Rymer’s Collections, where Henry III. mortgages for £5000 to his brother, the Earl of Cornwall, omni Judæos regni Anglia, with a power of distraining the bodies of all or any of them, if the money was not paid at the times prefixed.”—History of Taxes from William the Conqueror to A.D. 1761.

[2] “The companion requires from the liberality of his chief the warlike steed, the bloody and conquering spear, find in place of pay he expects to be supplied with a table, homely indeed, but plentiful.”

Note by M. Brotier.—”From hence, Montesquieu (Esprit des Lois , xxx, 3) justly derives the origin of vassalage. At first the prince gives to his nobles arms and provisions; as avarice advanced, money; and then lands were required, which from benefices became at length hereditary possessions, and were culled fiefs. Hence the establishment of the feudal system.”—AIKEN’S Tacitus. Manners of Germans.

[3] For an account of the revenues of the church of England, incomes of the bishoprics, &c., see Wade’s “Unreformed Abuses in Church and State.” Some curious facts are there stated regarding the expense at which England supports her ecclesiastical ministrations. It seems that there are 32 cathedral and collegiate churches in England and Wales, with 261 members, (deans, canons, prebendaries, &c.,) and a revenue of £184,123 per annum. For this sum a week-day service is maintained, (in addition to the Sabbath services.) and the congregations are stated to amount to nearly the same number as the officials. Thus:—

[4] The question is, What pursuit was esteemed as the highest pursuit in which men could engage? and though pleasure expresses imperfectly the meaning, there can be no doubt that during this period court pleasure held the very first rank, as war had previously done, and policy did at a later period.

[5] The ambiguous word that connects the policy system with the political economy system is perhaps measures. Thus:—
Knightly war, Court pleasures: Gallantry.
Court pleasures, Policy: Intrigues
Policy, Political economy: Measures
Where the word measures means in the first sense actions, and in the second sense measurements—that is, the measurements that determine whether the actions are or are not correct. The word is actually used in these two senses.