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De Maistre on Political Constitutions

Brownson's Quartery Review, October, 1847

Aut. II. — Essay on the Generative Principle of Political Constitutions. Translated from the French of M. Le Compte Joseph de Maistre. Boston: Little & Brown. 1847.    16mo.    pp. 173.

Count Joseph de Maistre was among the most distinguished men of his age. He was born at Chamberri in Savoy, 1753, was a senator of Piedmont at the time of the French invasion in 1792, and resided at St. Petersburg, as the ambassador of the king of Sardinia, from 1804 to 1817, in which last year he returned to Turin, where he died in 1821. Though not a subject of France, he was descended from a French family ; was peculiarly French in his genius as well as his language, and his works were all written in reference to French ideas and affairs at the time of their composition. No one among those who labored during the first years of this century to revive and restore French literature, perverted by the philosophers, and nearly destroyed by the Revolution, deserves a more honorable mention, or exerted a more salutary influence in exposing the popular fallacies of the day, and in recalling men's minds to deeper and sounder religious and political doctrines.

As a theologian, some may think that he placed too much reliance on the analogies his profound and varied erudition supplied him with between the principles of our holy religion and those which were acknowledged in the old heathen world, that he
was more fond than is prudent in these times of citing pagan authorities for his doctrines, and that he gave an almost unorthodox application to the dictum of St. Vincent of Lev'ms^quod semper, quod ubique, et ab omnibus; but it cannot be denied that his works were peculiarly adapted to the temper of trfe times in which they were written, and admirably fitted to excite and engage the attention of a lively people grown weary indeed of infidelity, anarchy, and military despotism, but not yet recovered from the habits of incredulity and impiety, of sneering at the priest and the altar, and of regarding Christianity as old and effete ; or that, if they contain some things local and temporary in their interest, they still contain much that is universal and permanent, which may be profitably studied in every age and country. No one acquainted with them can hesitate to regard them as peculiarly appropriate to our own country, and worthy the serious attention of our people, whether Catholic or Protestant.

The analogies between the principles of our holy religion and those  of the ancient world, on which Count de Maistre lays great stress  in all his works, are undeniable ; but if we adduce them without taking great care to mark their precise nature, and the precise purpose for which we adduce them, we are in danger of giving occasion to an argument unfavorable to Christianity.   German neologists and their American followers, it is well known, appeal to these analogies, and attempt from them to construct an argument against Christianity as a positive revealed religion, or against the special divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, and in favor of their pernicious error, that inspiration, so Air as it is to be admitted at all, is a universal phenomenon, not peculiar, unless it be in degree, to certain individuals, but common to all men in all countries and ages of the world, — that God speaks objectively to no one, but reveals subjectively, in their spiritual nature, reason, conscience, sentiment, the same great truths to all.     Hence they  conclude  that  all religion is natural, if we consider the fact that it is common to all men, and resulting spontaneously from universal humanity,— or supernatural, if we consider the fact that our nature lives and operates only in God, and through the creative and upholding power and wisdom of God, who is himself above nature. All religions, say they, are therefore  at  bottom one and  the same, natural or supernatural according to the point of view from which we choose to consider them ; and they differ as concrete religions only according to, and in consequence of, the differing degrees of mental and moral culture of mankind in different ages, countries, and individuals. To get at the perfect form of religion, we must eliminate whatever is local, temporary, peculiar to this or that individual, to this or that age or country, and seize upon that which has been held always, everywhere, and by all. What we thus obtain, the residuum which remains after this analysis, will be absolute religion ; that is to say, all religion in general, and no religion in particular, like man without men, the race without individuals !

No man was ever farther from adopting this gross absurdity, or of countenancing this religious nihilism, than Count de Maistre ; but we sometimes feel, while reading his learned and brilliant pages, that he has not been always careful to guard against it, and that he says many things which could, without much difficulty, be construed in its favor. He does not appear to us to state clearly always the precise purpose for which he add uces these analogies, or the precise grounds on which he ascribes to them the value he evidently supposes them to possess. In a word, he does not appear to have marked with precision the place which belongs to the consensus hominum, and seems at times to hold it to be the ground of certainty, and to favor the notion that the Church is authoritative for the reason that she is the organ through which the universal consent of the race expresses itself, and therefore to favor the heresy taught a short time after by De Lammenais. Yet it is only in appearance ; for in his thought, though not always sufficiently guarded in his expression, we are sure he was sound and orthodox.

If we appeal to these analogies to show what has always been the reason or belief of mankind, and, from the fact that mankind have always assented to principles identical with the principles of Christianity, or analogous to them, conclude the truth of the Christianity as a divinely revealed religion, we fall into the error of De Lammenais, condemned as heretical ; because we then make the consensus hominun the ground of certainty, the authority for believing, instead of the veracity of God, as required by faith. But, if we adduce them as authorities, not for faith, but for what is and always has been the practical reason or common sense of mankind, and therefore as proofs that the principles of our holy religion are not unreasonable, but reasonable, our method is perfectly legitimate, and perhaps the very best that can be adopted against the unbeliever. It is only in this latter sense, we are confident, that Count De Maistre, in reality, appeals to the consensus hominum and adduces the analogies in question.

The unbeliever, born and bred in Christian lands, professes to meet the Christian on the ground of reason, and from reason alone to disprove the Christian religion ; that is, he objects that Christianity is contrary to reason. But in order to sustain his objection, he must prove that Christianity is contradicted, either by the pure or demonstrative reason, or by the practical or moral reason ; that is, either by reason as the principle of metaphysical certainty, or by reason as the principle of moral certainty. The first is out of the question ; for reason in the former sense, — the speculative reason of Kant, — as Kant himself has shown in his Kritik tier reinen Vernunft, cannot affirm or deny any thing on the subject. Moreover, it has been proved, over and over again, that there is nothing in Christianity which contradicts any principle of speculative reason ; and all the chiefs of the modern infidel school, Bayle, Voltaire, D'Alem-bert, Hume, and Thomas Paine, concede that it is impossible to prove any thing, metaphysically, against Christianity. " They themselves," says Benjamin Constant, an unsuspicious authority on this point, " acknowledge that reasoning can authorize only doubt."*(footnote: * De la Religion, Tom. I. p. 7.    Paris, 1824.) They can only say they do not believe it, or that there is no sufficient reason for believing it; but no one of them ventures to say that it must necessarily be false, or that, after all, it may not be true. So far as regards the speculative reason, it is certain, that, if reason cannot, as we concede it cannot, pronounce a judgment in favor of our religion, it cannot pronounce a judgment against it. It can and must concede its metaphysical possibility, and this is as far as it can go, either one way or the other.

The unbeliever, then, must leave the speculative reason, and show that our religion is condemned by the practical reason, or withdraw his objection. But the criterion of the practical reason is the consensus hominum. In speculative reason the individual needs not to go out of himself, for the speculative reason in se is as perfect in one as it is in all men ; and when I have demonstrated that the three angles of the triangle are equal to two right angles, I have no need of the assent of the race, and their assent can add nothing to the demonstration, or to the certainty of the fact. But in regard to the practical reason it is not so ; for this may be warped or perverted by individual idiosyncrasies, ignorance, education, position, passions, prejudices.    Here the individual reason must be rectified or verified by the reason of the race, and that only is the reason of the race which is held always, everywhere, and by all. Hence we say the consensus hominum is the criterion of the practical reason, and the authority on which this or that is to be taken, — not as divine revelation, for that is the error to be avoided, but as practical reason ; for certainly that is not unreasonable, contrary to the practical reason, which the race universally assents to, but must be in accordance with it, and demanded by it; or else the race would not and could not have universally assented to it. The consensus kominum is not the ground for believing this or that to be revealed, but simply for believing it approved by the practical reason ; and if it is approved by the practical reason, we believe it on the authority of that reason, — not fide divina, indeed, but^e humana, — and must do so, or prove ourselves unreasonable, be ourselves condemned by reason.

Now if the unbeliever fails, as he does, to show that there is something essential to the Christian religion repugned by the practical reason, he fails entirely to sustain his objection. He boasts of common sense, but common sense is only another name for what we call the practical reason. He says our religion contradicts common sense. But his assertion is worth nothing, unless he proves it by showing the contradiction ; which he never does and never can do. But if, on the other hand, we prove to him that every one of the principles of our religion has the authority of common sense, or that in believing- our religion we assent to nothing not assented to in principle always and everywhere by the race, we prove that our^ religion in principle is reasonable, that the unbeliever cannot object that it is unreasonable, and that he, if he denies its principles, is himself unreasonable, obnoxious to the precise objection which he brings against us.

This last is what Count de Maistre has done. He proves, by admirable philosophical analysis and rare erudition, that there is in our holy religion no principle which the race has not always and everywhere assented to, and therefore, that, in refusing to believe it, in rejecting its principles, we are rejecting not merely the word of God as handed down to us by the Church, but also the practical reason or common sense of mankind, and, by doing so, placing ourselves in direct hostility to the reason we boast, and whose authority we acknowledge. He thus turns the tables upon the loud-boasting and conceited infidel, and shows him that it is he, not the Christian, who must humble himself before reason, and beg pardon for the outrages
he offers her. The unbeliever, in fact, builds never on reason, but always on unreason. Reason disowns him, scorns him, nay, holds him, intellectually considered, in perfect derision. Poor thing! she says, he has lost his wits ; send him to the lunatic asylum.

Having established, as Count de Maistre has done, that all the principles of our religion have the consensus hominum, we have established that they are approved by reason. We must now assume that they are principles inherent in reason itself, immediately ascertainable by reason, or that they have been derived from some other source. U we say either of the former, they are authoritative for reason, and reason must assent to them on the peril of ceasing to be reason. If we say they are not inherent in reason, nor immediately ascertainable by reason, we must attribute them — since the practical reason by approving pronounces them pure, sacred, good — to some source above reason, that is, the supernatural, and therefore either immediately or mediately to God himself. Then they are unquestionably true, and we must believe them, or again prove ourselves unreasonable ; for nothing is more reasonable than to believe God, and therefore what he reveals. So, on either supposition, we must assent to them or deny reason itself. Consequently, the analogies alleged against us by the enemies of our religion fully establish the reasonableness of Christianity in principle, and that reason must assent to it in principle or abdicate itself.

Yet we pretend not that by these analogies and pagan authorities we prove the absolute truth of Christianity as a positive revealed religion. We simply remove all objections a priori which can be conceived against it, and establish the reasonableness, the truth, for the practical reason, of its principles ; but we leave the fact of Christianity as a supernaturally revealed religion to be proved or not proved by the testimony in the case. The argument thus far shows the possible truth of the religion, the actual truth for the reason of its principles, and places it as a positive religion in the category of facts which may be proved by testimony. If the actual testimony appropriate in the case be equal to what satisfies the reason in the case of ordinary historical facts, to what is sufficient in the ordinary affairs of life to render assent prudent, it is proved as a positive revealed religion to the full extent that reason does or can demand ; and he who does not assent and act accordingly abdicates his title to be considered a reasonable being.    The
appropriate testimony in the case is unquestionably equal to this, — is all that reason, unless it ceases to be reason, requires or can require. Whoever, then, withholds his assent from the Christian religion, unless through sheer ignorance, denies reason. True, the assent thus yielded or warranted is only the assent of reason, and by no means the assent of faith, in the proper Christian sense ; something more is undoubtedly demanded for faith ; but that, whatever it be, is to be sought, not from reason, but from divine grace, which is freely given to all who do not voluntarily resist it.

The Count's method of argument, properly understood, is therefore triumphant against the unbeliever, as the neologists themselves have proved over and over again.    The objection of the neologists which we have stated is met, — 1. by the fact that the analogies adduced extend to the principles, not to the positive doctrines, of Christianity ; and consequently, before the neologists can  be entitled to their conclusion, they must rebut the positive testimony in favor of Christianity as a super-naturally revealed religion, and also prove that the principles without the doctrines are sufficient, neither of which they do or can do ; and, 2. by the fact that the principles in question, between which and Christianity there is the relation of analogy or identity, are  not  themselves  originally  derived from simple natural reason, or from an interior subjective revelation made immediately to each man in particular, but from the primitive revelation made to our first parents, and preserved and diffused by tradition.    We, as well as they, find Christian elements in the old heathen poets and philosophers ; and perhaps in general the heathen world, under each of its various religions, retained more of Christian principle — we say not of Christian doctrine — than is retained by our modern sects.    Under veils and symbols more or less transparent, we find not seldom, not only Christian principles, but a very near approach to some one or more of the Christian Mysteries themselves.    Indeed, the type after which all religions have been fashioned is evidently the Christian religion, and there is scarcely a single Christian idea, if we may use the term, which is not to be found out of the Christian Church.     This, however, presents no difficulty to the Christian ; — not, indeed, because he supposes all has been derived from the  Holy Scriptures and intercourse  with the Jews, as some have thought, — though more may have been derived from this source than many in our days are willing to acknowledge, — but because it was contained in the primitive revelation to our first parents, and formed the common patrimony of the race. What we thus find is revealed truth, truth pertaining to the Christian revelation, pure in its source, but in the lapse of time corrupted and mixed up with fables by the nations, as they multiplied and spread themselves over the face of the earth. The fountain was pure and supernatural, but the streams which flowed from it became gradually corrupt by receiving waters flowing from other fountains. Thus, what we find in consonance with our religion as supernatural we attribute to the primitive revelation preserved by tradition ; what we find repugnant to it we attribute to men speaking from themselves, their own darkened understandings and corrupt hearts.

The Christian revelation is not, strictly speaking, a new revelation; Judaism as such, though a divine institution for a special purpose, was not a dogmatic revelation, and contained no revealed truths not contained in the primitive revelation. The primitive revelation contained in substance the whole Christian revelation, and the only difference between the faith of the Fathers from the beginning, before Christ, and that of the Fathers since, is, that those before believed in a Christ to come, and those since believe in a Christ that has come, and that in many things our faith is clearer and more explicit than was theirs. From the beginning till now, the revelation believed has been ever one and the same revelation, the faith has always been one and the same faith. Our Lord and his Apostles introduced no new religion, no new faith, made no new revelation, except to clear up and render more explicit what had been revealed and believed by the faithful from the first. It is not the true view to look upon our Lord as coming into the world to found a new religion, or to reveal even new dogmas, as do many of our modern sects. He came to make the Atonement, to perform the act of redemption, to open the door for the admission of the just into heaven, and to establish a new order, the order of grace, in place of the Law, that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.

Due consideration of this fact would correct the errors of our Liberal Christians, and enable them to get over some of the difficulties they now find, or imagine they find. They read the New Testament, and find in it no creed formally drawn out, and therefore conclude that none is enjoined or necessary. They find some one asking what he shall do to be saved, and an Apostle in his answer requiring him simply to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore they conclude only the simple belief in Jesus as the Messiah, whether as God, as a su-perangelic being, or as man only, it matters not, is all the faith the Gospel requires. But they forget that they to whom the Apostle so answers are supposed to be already instructed in the faith, and to lack nothing of the true Christian faith, but to believe that the Christ that was to come has come, and is this same Jesus whom they crucified, and whom God has raised from the dead. The simple article enjoined was all the addition or modification their previous faith required. But to conclude from this that nothing more was required at all is very bad logic.

This fact attended to furnishes us one of the reasons why the faith is always assumed or presupposed in the Holy Scriptures, instead of being distinctly and formally taught. The sacred writers always address themselves to believers, to persons supposed to have already received the faith, and therefore not in need of being formally and systematically taught the whole creed. They write, not to propose the creed, but simply, under the relation of faith, to correct the errors of believers, or to enlighten them on some particular points of doctrine. Nothing is more illogical than to conclude, from the absence of all distinct and formal statement from their pages of the several articles of the creed, that no formal creed was proposed, believed, or required.

The recognition of the primitive revelation is necessary, also, to account for the sublime truths we often meet with in ancient pagan writers, Oriental and Occidental, in juxtaposition with mere puerilities, gross absurdities, and abominations. Any one who has read Plato will understand what we mean. There are passages in this writer hardly unworthy of a Christian Father, which are admirable for the truth and sublimity of the thought, for their lofty religious conception and pure morality ; and there are others childishly weak, obviously absurd, and grossly impure, as, for instance, some passages in the Banquet, the Timaius, and the Republic. Take Socrates himself. What more noble than his speech on his trial ? He speaks of God, of virtue, and immortality with his disciples, while awaiting his execution, almost as a Christian, and more worthily than many who call themselves Christians do or can speak ; and yet, just before his death, he can order a cock to be sacrificed to iEscu-lapius. Through nearly all heathen antiquity we find similar phenomena constantly recurring. How explain them ? The mind capable of producing from its own resources the true, the pure, the sublime, and beautiful thoughts and sentiments we find, could never have produced or tolerated those of a totally different character, invariably mixed up with them. The only possible explanation is, that in the former they spake from tradition, from the sublime wisdom of the ancients, derived from a primitive revelation, as they themselves always acknowledge ; just as the only explanation of what we find agreeable to the purity, truth, and sublimity of the Gospel in the writings and discourses of modern heretics is that it is derived not from their heresy or their own minds, but retained from the Gospel itself, is the reminiscence of the true faith, not yet wholly lost in the crude mass of their own errors and speculations.

But we have suffered ourselves to be carried too far away by a topic only incidental to our present purpose. While acknowledging the danger to which Count de Maistre's method of reasoning for religion against an unbelieving and scoffing age is exposed,  when not duly guarded, we have  wished, in passing, to show that it is substantially sound, and may be  used with great propriety and  effect.     The  influence  his writings have  exerted on France are a  proof of it.    When he first appeared, religion was out of fashion, and her voice failed to arrest the  attention of the reading  public.     It   required   no ordinary degree of moral courage at that time  to avow one's self a Christians firm believer in  the Church of God, and ready to do battle for the faith.    For more than half a century the whole literary taste had been perverted ; the philosophers and their followers,  Voltaire and his school,  reigner' supreme  in the world of letters, in   the public  acts,  and  the saloons of fashion.    But Count de Maistre did not hesitate to raise his voice, and, seconded  by De Lammenais, not  yet fallen, and by the Restoration and its friends, he  succeeded, by the grace of God,  in bringing up religion once more to men's  thoughts  and affections, and   of showing to  faith  and purity — what is  never to  be  doubted — that they   have no cause to  blush before the pretended worshippers of reason, even in the temple of reason herself.    France is no longer what she was.    The French works best known and most generally read by the people of this country are the groans, writhings, and contortions of a  party in  its agony.    They proceed not from  the  mind  or  the  heart  of the  real, living, progressive France of to-day.     Sans-culottism in religion, morals, or politics  is a cast-off Parisian mode,  and it is no  longer  incompatible with good taste and admission into good society to cover one's nakedness with the robe of justice and piety.    Incredulity, impiety, and Jacobinism, under the form of socialism, Saint-Simonism, Fourierism, or progressism, may indeed have their second-hand dealers, and a few purchasers, both for home consumption and exportation, — especially for exportation to this country, — but they are no longer the fashion in Paris, and France is rapidly resuming her former rank among Christian nations, with a warm Christian heart, a strong Christian arm, and a liberal Christian hand. The scoffers, the unbelievers, and the socialists among ourselves, who dream that France is on their side, have been asleep for this quarter of a century, and belong to the family of the Rip van Winkles.

Of the several works of Count de Maistre, there is no one which, at the present moment, could be circulated or read with more advantage amongst us, than the one now before us, or better fitted to the actual wants of our politicians, whether Catholics or Protestants ; for, unhappily, a very considerable portion of our Catholic population are as unsound in their politics as their Protestant neighbours. Both classes, with individual exceptions, have borrowed their political notions from the school of Hobbes, Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Paine, and forget, or have a strong tendency to forget, that Divine Providence has something to do with forming, preserving, amending, or overthrowing the constitutions of states. We say nothing new, when we say that modern politics are in principle, and generally in practice, purely atheistic. Even large numbers, who in religion are sound orthodox believers, and would suffer a thousand deaths sooner than knowingly swerve one iota from the faith, may be found, who do not hesitate to vote God out of the political constitution, and to advocate liberty on principles which logically put man in the place of God. It is to such as these the little work before us is addressed, and they cannot study it without perceiving the capital mistake they have made, — not in seeking political freedom, but in seeking to base it on atheistical principles. The man who advocates political liberty on Protestant principles can stop short of atheism only at the expense of his logic.

Count de Maistre is, no doubt, a stanch monarchist, and holds hereditary monarchy, tempered by a due admixture of aristocracy and democracy, to be the best of all possible forms of government; but it is not for this we commend him, for this is by no means a necessary conclusion from the great generative principle of political constitutions he insists upon. That principle we may accept without any disposition to be monarchists, for it is as true and as applicable in the case of a republican constitution as in that of a monarchical constitution. Where the existing legitimate order is monarchical, it undoubtedly requires us to support monarchy, and forbids us to seek to substitute another order in its place ; but, for the same reason, where the existing legitimate order is the republican, it requires us to support republicanism, and forbids us to seek to introduce monarchy. In this country the existing legal order is republican, and the principle the Count insists upon commands us, whatever may or may not be our private convictions as to the best form of government in se, to support it, and to resist with our lives every attempt to subvert it. It may or may not be, we may or we may not believe it, the best of all possible forms of government in the abstract; but that has nothing to do with the question. It is the form which God in his providence has established here, and therefore it is the best for us ; it is the law, and therefore we must obey it, and cannot resist it without resisting God, from whom is .-all power, by whom kings reign and legislators decree just things.

There are two grounds on which we may seek support for our republican institutions ; —the one, opinion ; the other, conscience ; — that is, either because we believe them the best in se, or because they are the law. Our modern politicians, who uniformly mistake falsehood for truth, and substitute the feebler for the stronger, the worse for the better reason, as a matter of course, place all their reliance on the former, and regard those who prefer the latter as the enemies of our free institutions. But nothing is more fluctuating, precarious, or uncertain than opinion. The multitude may be of one opinion to-day, and of another to-morrow. To-day they may hurrah for democracy ; to-morrow they may throw up their caps for some military hero, and cry, Long live" the king ! To rely on mere opinion is to lenn on a broken reed. The opinion may change, and the moment it does, we have no reason, if it has been our reliance, to urge for sustaining the present order, or why the people should not subvert it, and substitute some other order ; and we may be sure the opinion will change, whenever the present order proves, or attempts to prove, itself a government by restraining popular passion and caprice, or any thing more than a bylaw of a voluntary association ; —

" For no man ever feels the halter draw But with a mean opinion of the law."

But if we place their support on the ground that they are the legal order, the law, we make our appeal, not to opinion, but to conscience. Conscience uniformly and invariably commands us to obey the law, but does not command us always to obey opinion. Opinions may vary as to what is the law ; but when this or that is decided to be law, conscience, which is not opinion, without any variation or the least hesitation, commands us to submit to it, and all who regard at all the voice of conscience do so. When we place the obligation to support our institutions on the notion we may have that they are the best, we give them only an intellectual basis, and can enlist only the intellect in their behalf; but when we demand obedience to them on the ground that they are the law, we base them on morality, and place them under the protection of religion. We demand then obedience as a duty, not merely as a sound judgment, and make loyalty not merely a sentiment, but a virtue. It was only the folly or delusion of the last century that could, for a moment, have hesitated between conscience and opinion, or even pretended to doubt which is the more reasonable and solid basis of government.

We suspect, however, that our politicians will continue to prefer opinion to conscience ; for it is not the preservation of our institutions, but the facility of changing them, that they wish to secure, ft is not government they want, but the liberty to make the government any thing they please ; or if they ask for government, it is not that it may govern them, but that they may govern it. They want, not a fixed and permanent order, but a loose and flexible order, yielding without the least resistance to their passions, caprices, or supposed interests. They regard, and for this reason will continue to regard, all those who would make our institutions sacred, place them under the protection of religion and morals, and support them on the ground that they are the law, and that the law must be obeyed, as the enemies of the people, and to be denounced as anti-republican and anti-American. They are willing to appeal to opinion and sentiment, but they cannot endure that we should appeal to religion and morals, to conscience, or the sense of duty. For on the former ground there is liberty to change, modify, subvert, at will ; but on the latter there is a strict obligation to preserve the institutions as they are, and to resist unto death every one who would seek to subvert them. It is not monarchy or aristocracy against which the modern spirit fights, but against loyalty ; what it hates is not this or that form of government, but legitimacy, and it would rebel against democracy as quick as against absolute monarchy, if democracy were asserted on the ground of legitimacy.

The modern spirit is in every thing the direct denial of the practical reason. It reverses every thing which has received the sanction of the race. In former times, it was universally held that authority was a good, indeed a necessity, and in all things men sought for an authority, something which could and had the right to command. They inquired always for the law, and law was always held to be imperative. Religion was the highest law, and authoritative, and no individual or nation had a right to dispute its dominion ; morals were binding, were the law imposed by religion ; politics were referred to the sovereign authority, to the majesty of the prince, or the state. The greatest evil conceivable was supposed to be that of being without law, without religious, moral, and political authority having the right to exact and the ability to secure submission. Man's glory, according to the ancient spirit, was in obedience to law. But the modern spirit reverses all this. It seeks not the authority which men are bound to obey, and to induce them to obey it, but it claims for man himself the authority in all things to make the law. It asserts the universal and absolute supremacy of man, and his unrestricted right to subject religion, morals, and politics to his own will, passion, or caprice. There is no denying this. Its direct aim and tendency is to place the subject over the sovereign, and to give to the subject in religion, morals, or politics the right to put a rope round his sovereign's neck, as the Chinese sometimes do around the neck of their idol, and drag him from his throne, and through the streets, and apply the bamboo whenever he chances not to conform himself to their will and pleasure. It calls government government, because it is not government ; morals morals, because they are not morals, that is, not obligatory upon the will ; religion religion, because it is not religion, that is, does not bind man to God ; law law, because it is not law; and reason reason, because it is not reason. Marvellous is the age we live in ! Marvellous the light and progress of the modern world ! We have extinguished the light of reason, and therefore are reasonable ; reduced wisdom to folly, and therefore are wise ; substituted nonsense for sense, and therefore are intelligent, and have the right to call all who went before us fools and madmen, which assuredly they were, — unless we are.

The political mania of the last century, and a mania not yet much abated, was that a political constitution may be written and clapped into one's pocket.    Men not in a lunatic hospital, men who were regarded by their contemporaries as great men, learned men,   profound  philosophers and  statesmen, in  open day,  in elaborate  treatises, in grave  deliberative  assemb hes, actually contended that  the political constitution  is   a thing which may be made as one makes a handcart or a wheelbarrow, or drawn up beforehand as one draws up a note ot hand ; and, what is stranger still, they were believed, and whole nations thrilled at the wonderful discovery, and, leaving all other business, engaged heart and soul, might and main, in the manufacture and sale of constitutions.     We ourselves opened a shop for the business, or pretended to do so ; but * ranee opened an establishment on a much larger scale, and carried on the business to an extent which differed only a step from the sublime.    The facility and rapidity with which the lively b rench, for a series of years, turned out ready-made constitutions, lor home consumption and exportation, can be compared to nothing; better than to the facility with which a Connecticut Yankee turns out wooden clocks, wooden bowls, wooden nutmegs, cut-nails, clothes-pins, or locofoco matches.    The delusion was all but universal for a time, and can be accounted lor not without attributing it   in  part to demoniacal  agency.    Men   not drawn down below the rank of their own nature, not made worse than  human in their passions, and less than human in their reason and understanding, could never have been so wildly and madly carried away.                                        
In the work before us, Count de Maistre attacks with all his erudition, philosophy, experience, and wit, this terrible delusion,—a delusion which even Carlyle has mercilessly ridiculed, and against which, our  readers will bear us witness, we ourselves have argued and declaimed with all our might, ever since we began to address the public on political subjects.   De Maistre shows, beyond the possibility of doubt or cavil, that the political constitution of a state is not and cannot be made ; that whatever it is, whatever its form, if it be a constitution at all, it is generated, not made ; that it grows up by Divine 1 residence, and is never framed beforehand, drawn up deliberately, and put into operation by those who live or are to live under it. It is never the work of deliberation, but always the work of Divine Providence, using men and circumstances as his instruments.   It is always immediately or mediately -- mediately in all cases, perhaps, except one — imposed by God himself, is the expression of the divine will, and therefore legitimate, sacred, and suited to the nation. This is the leading principle of the Essay before us. The generative principle of all political constitutions which are such is Divine Providence, never the deliberate wisdom or will of men.

This doctrine is unquestionably conservative ; for it makes the constitution sacred.    It is monarchical, where monarchy is the constitution of the state ; it is also republican, where, as with us, the constitution  is republican.    It would forbid the subjects of a monarchy to throw off monarchy and attempt to create a republic ; it would also forbid the citizens of a republic to throw off republicanism and attempt to found a monarchy. If we are destructives or revolutionists on principle, and  are resolved to be always able to govern the government when we please and as we please, this doctrine must offend us, and we cannot but resist it ; but if we are attached to our institutions, hold our constitution to be law, not a mere regulation, and wish to preserve it, this  is the very doctrine we need, and must heartily embrace.    For our own part, we hold the republican constitution of this country to be the law, to be the legitimate order, and we hold ourselves bound in conscience to submit to it, whether we believe it the best possible form of government for every people on earth or not.    It is the best possible  form tor us.    We wish to preserve it intact, in all its life  and vigor, and  therefore  we wish  to  see  the doctrine in question embraced and cherished by every American citizen.

But when we speak of the American constitution, our readers   must  not imagine   that   we mean the  written instrument usually denominated the   constitution.    The written constitution may sometimes be a memorandum of the real constitution, but is never that constitution itself; and it is always a mere cobweb, save so far as it is also written on the hearts, and in the habits, the manners and customs of the people, as our own daily experience  abundantly proves.    The constitution is the living soul of the nation, that by virtue of which it is a nation, and is able to live a national life, and perform national functions. You can no more write it out on parchment, and put it into your pocket, than you can the soul of man.    Tt is no dead letter, which when interrogated is silent, and when attacked is impotent ;   it is  a living spirit,  a living power, a living providence, and resides wherever the nation is, and expresses itself in every national act.    Written constitutions are never resorted to, when the real constitution is in full vitality and vigor, and the state performs freely its normal functions ; and the most beautiful period in the history of every nation is the period prior to the attempt to reduce its constitution and laws to writing. The written instrument is invariably a proof that the constitution has suffered violence, has been enfeebled, and its existence endangered. It is resorted to as a means of preservation, in the hope that by writing it the constitution may be strengthened, and further encroachment prevented. But when it is in its full vigor, and has suffered no violence, men no more think of writing it, than the housewife thinks each morning of reducing to writing her arrangements for her household during the day.

We showed in our last Review that the people of this country have not made, and could not make, our political constitution. It was imposed by a competent authority, and has grown to be what it is through the providence of God. The people have never had the control of it. It was not their foresight, wisdom, convictions, or will, that made it republican. The constitution was republican from the first, and we established no monarchy or nobility at the close of the war of Independence, for the simple reason that neither was in our constitution. The royalty and nobility we knew prior to Independence were English, not American. Mr. Bancroft has well remarked, in his History of the Colonization of the United States, that royalty and nobility did not emigrate. Since they did not emigrate, they remained at home, and were not here ; not being here, they were not in our political constitution. The commons alone emigrated, and consequently our constitution recognized only commons. When, therefore, the foreign authority was thrown off, and we were left to our own constitution, we had only the government of the commons, that is to say, the representative democracy, or the elective aristocracy, if we may use the term, which we brought here from the mother country. Our government is simply the British House of Commons, without the king and House of Lords, divided for the sake of convenience into an upper and lower chamber, and with such few changes and modifications as were necessary to pro-vide for an executive authority. The constitution was determined for us by the providence of God, which so ordered it that only the commons emigrated, and so created and arranged circumstances as to compel us from sheer necessity to live under a government from which royalty and nobility are excluded.

Count de Maistre not only contends that the constitution is never made, or drawn up by the people with deliberation and forethought, that it is always the work of Providence using men and circumstances to effect or express his will, but that it can never be essentially changed by the people or the nation, deliberately or otherwise, without the destruction of the nation itself. If God determines and fixes the political constitution of a people, it follows that the constitution exists by the divine will and authority ; to seek to subvert or essentially change it is, then, to war against God, and we need not labor to prove that no individual or nation can ever rebel against God with success or impunity. Nations and individuals who conspire against God, and seek to make their will prevail instead of his, are sure to be destroyed. They separate themselves from the source of life, from the fountain of strength, and can but wither and die, as the branch severed from the vine.
This conclusion, which we know by infallible faith to be true, is, moreover, verified by all history. Our wise politicians seek a thousand reasons to explain the different results which national independence has produced here, from those which it has produced in Spanish America. There can be no question that in every one of the Spanish American states republicanism has proved a complete failure ; yet with us it is thought to have succeeded. Whence the difference ? It is idle to look for the cause in the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon over the Spanish race, for this superiority is perfectly imaginary ; and the Spanish American colonies, as colonies, were in real prosperity and genuine civilization in advance of the Anglo-American. The difference of religion, too, has been immensely in favor of Spanish America ; because, while Protestantism tends to render men disorderly, insubordinate, impatient of restraint, and indifferent to the sacred obligations of law, Catholicity generates habits of order, subordination, and reverence for law. Yet the attempt to establish republicanism in Spanish America has resulted very nearly in the dissolution of all society. The cause of the difference is in the fact that republicanism with us was from the first the constitution, but was never the constitution of the Spanish American colonies. In them royalty and nobility settled ; and the whole constitution of the mother country, not merely that of the commons, was transferred to the New World. Royalty and nobility were integral elements in their constitution from the outset. We in declaring independence made no revolution in the government ; we only threw off what was foreign, while we retained all that was indigenous, and the removal of the foreign or English authority only enabled the indigenous to manifest and exert itself in open day, in full and unimpeded life and vigor. But in Spanish America independence was not merely throwing oft' the foreign element, the authority of the mother country, but was a revolution, a subversion of the existing constitution, and the attempt to establish a new and a totally different political order. The cause of the failure is precisely in this attempt to change essentially the political constitution. If Spanish America had simply declared herself independent of Old Spain, but retained intact her domestic constitution, there can be no reason to doubt that her prosperity would, at least, have kept pace with ours. Portuguese America, Brazil, has succeeded the best, after us, of all the American States, for she only partially changed her original constitution. She would have done still better, if she had not changed it at all.

We can easily suppose what would have been our success, if we had attempted to introduce and establish monarchy and nobility. There were among us distinguished men — the most distinguished, perhaps, and firm patriots, too — who had no confidence in republicanism, and were pretty well persuaded that a government without king and nobles must prove a failure. But we had no royalty and nobility. Neither was here, and neither could be introduced without a social revolution. Suppose we had attempted to introduce them, to constitute the three estates, and retain the whole constitution, of the mother country ; who can doubt that the result would have been similar to what has been in Spanish America the attempt to introduce republicanism ? Neither being in the constitution, both would have been resisted by the whole force of American society, and could have triumphed only by overcoming that force, and destroying the whole existing social order, that is, the state itself.

France sought to change from a monarchy to a republic. She was great, powerful, intellectual, and enthusiastic. Never could the attempt have been made under more favorable auspices. She was aided, or not impeded, in the outset, by the very orders in the state which had the greatest privileges to lose ; the surrounding nations, the whole world, sympathized with her, and applauded her movement ; and yet her failure was striking, and no man can doubt, if he has ordinary judgment, that, if she had not returned to her old constitution, or in part returned, she would ere this have been blotted out from the chart of Europe as an independent nation.    Her present uneasiness, her present unsettled and ominous state, and all the difficulties she has to encounter grow out of her return having heen partial, instead of complete. The most glorious period of French history since the reign of Louis the Fourteenth, perhaps since St. Louis, is that of Charles the Tenth, —a man and a prince to whom history is not likely to do justice. The Bourbons committed great faults, and they deserved and drew down upon their guilty heads the vengeance of Almighty God ; but if the family had, before the breaking out of the Revolution, or in its first stages, listened to the Count d'Artois, or if France had been wise enough to understand his character and appreciate the firmness of his principles when he became Charles the Tenth, she would now have been in the possession of her ancient constitution and of all her ancient glory. There would have been no u glorious three days," no programme de Hotel de Ville, no such anomaly as a "citizen-king,"— a king by virtue, of the Bourse, it is true, but only so much the better. The same impossibility of changing the constitution without destroying social order we see in the recent history of Spain and Portugal. Each of these kingdoms, Spain especially, played at no distant date a distinguished part among the kingdoms of Europe ; but both are now fallen so low that there are few so poor as to do them reverence. It is not difficult to trace their present degradation, we say not to efforts at social amelioration, but to efforts to ameliorate their social condition by organic changes, or fundamental changes in the political constitution of the state, that is, to revolutionism, and they must return substantially to their old national constitutions, lapse into anarchy and barbarism, or be absorbed by their more powerful neighbours.

We have found in our historical reading no instance of a fundamental change of the national constitution that was successful. Never does a republic become a monarchy, or a monarchy a republic, without the virtual destruction of the state. Athens was originally monarchical, tempered, we suspect, by both aristocracy and democracy. The democratic element finally gained the mastery ; but it retained the ascendency for only one hundred and four years. Solon himself saw the Pisistratidrc, and the whole period was one of political turmoil, of change, and usurpation, and the government was almost always in the hands of a single chief, who ruled, with or without law, during his ascendency, very much as he pleased. The smaller Grecian cities, which adopted the republican order with scarcely an exception, in brief space fell under the rule of tyrants or usurpers. We make no account of Rome, because her constitution was originally patrician, a modification of the patriarchal, and the royal authority acted not really on the people, but simply on the patrician, or head of the gens. The abolition of the royal and the substitution of the consular authority were no fundamental change in the constitution ; nor was the establishment, at a later period, of the tribunitial veto; for the positive power of the state continued where it had been placed by Romulus, in the patrician body. The change to the imperial government was perhaps more fundamental, and makes decidedly for the doctrine we maintain ; for just in proportion as the constitution was changed under the emperors, and they usurped the functions of the Senate, Rome declined, and continued to decline, till it was no more.

In fact, if we may credit at all the lessons of history, the change of the original constitution of a state, if fundamental and permanent, is always and inevitably the destruction of the state itself. It is as easy to extract the soul from the body, and give to the body another soul, without causing death, as to take from a state its original constitution and give it a new one, and still retain the life of the nation. If the original constitution has died out, the nation is dead, and you can no more give it a new constitution and restore it to life, than you can give to a dead body a new soul, and render it once more a living body. The new constitution must come in with a new people, which subjects and takes the place of the old, as is clearly evinced in the case of the downfall of the old Roman empire, and the rise of the modern slates of Europe. Even religion herself cannot prevent it; she may delay the catastrophe, but she has no power to avert it. Constantine, Theodosius, Justinian, cannot prevent the doom of Rome, old or new. The Northern barbarian executes it upon the one, the Turk upon the other. The vast populations of Asia have no indigenous power to rise from their degradation, and they will be restored never, unless conquered and subjected by a people already living, already in possession of a constitution in its life and vigor, because their old political constitutions are effete, and they now subsist as populations rather .than as states.
God, by giving in his providence a particular constitution to a particular people, has fixed its law, the law of its life, its prosperity, and its duration. No people survives its constitution. The overthrow of our republican constitution would  be our political death. Spanish America, if it does not reestablish its original monarchical and aristocratic order, must either lapse into complete barbarism, or be absorbed by us.    The Canadas have  foolishly attempted once,  perhaps   may   attempt  again, independence of the mother country, in view of establishing the republican regime ; they have thus far failed, for they have royalty   and  nobility in  their  constitution.     If Lower Canada had not had, she would, in what we call our Revolution, have made common cause with us, gained her independence, and become a member of our confederacy.     Some Young lrelanders appear to us also to dream of republicanism or democracy for Ireland.    They could not be  madder.    The  constitution of Ireland is not, never was, and never can be, republican.    Royalty and nobility are essential elements of it.    She cannot subsist, if she throws off even the authority of the crown of Great Britain, for she would have left only an incomplete constitution, only two elements out of the three which are essential to it. She cannot supply from herself the element of royalty for all the island, and she would divide into several petty principalities, each under the representative of its ancient chief, with no suzerain or lord paramount, and thus revive the interminable feuds and wars of a former period of her history.    Legislative independence is not impracticable, because she has, without going to England, both the lords and commons.    With the lords she could not be a democracy, with the commons she could not be an aristocracy, and with the two without royalty to mediate between them she could not maintain a government.    The crown of Great Britain has become integral in her constitution, if we regard her as Ireland, and not as Leinster, Ulster, &c.    But, retaining the authority of the British crown, there is no reason why she may not have her own parliament ; and, indeed, since the  suppression of her national  parliament was  an essential change in her constitution, she has a right to it, and it is necessary to restore it, as the condition of her national life and prosperity.    Without it she must cease to be Ireland, and in time become an integral part of England, politically considered, as Scotland already has  become.     Scotland, as   Scotland, has ceased to exist, and so must Ireland, as Ireland, unless she recover her national parliament.    It was not, therefore, from a shallow thought, or without profound philosophy, that the lamented O'Connell on the one hand avowed his loyal attachment to the crown of Great Britain, which is also the crown of Ireland, and on  the other demanded with all his energies

They wholly mistake O'Connell, and reduce him to the level of a very commonplace man, who suppose that the question between him and Young Ireland was a question between u peaceful agitation " and " physical force." Peaceful agitation and physical force were the respective symbols of the parties ; but the real question lay deeper. The Young Irelanders, unless we have wholly mistaken them, are in principle revolutionists, and hold that a people may make or unmake its constitution ; O'Connell was a conservative, holding the national constitution sacred, and seeking only to restore and preserve it. He studied history and politics to ascertain the constitution ; they study them to find the means of enkindling the national ardor to make such a constitution as they imagine will be best for their country. He was a legitimist; they care not a fig for legitimacy. He saw that the constitution of his country had been suppressed by the act of union, and that it must be restored, or his country, as a distinct country, be blotted out ; and he therefore sought to restore what his country had lost through the zeal, kindled at the altar of Jacobinism, of the hot-headed patriots of '98. If any man ever lived who held the principles of revolution in abhorrence, the principles of the French Revolution, in particular, that man was Daniel O'Connell, and if there was ever a people that should detest them, that people is the Irish. Here is the principle of the difference between him and Young Ireland, a principle which, we regret to say, his friends in too many instances seem to us to overlook. Too many of them seem to imagine that he would go as far in effecting a revolution as any one, that he was a thorough-going radical, only he would not consent to employ physical force as a means, — in a word, that he was a sort of Quaker Jacobin, a broad-brimmed Sans-culottes. Here is their capital mistake, and the reason why they suppose his rupture with the Young Irelanders was after all for a slight cause, and imagine that it may be healed. Healed it may be, by the conversion of Repealers to Jacobinism, or that of the Young Irelanders to legitimacy, but on no other condition.

What Ireland wants is not revolution, is not a new political order, a change in her constitution, but her own national constitution restored to its normal state, and preserved in its vitality and force ; and this, if done at all, must be done on the principles of legitimacy, as O'Connell  contended ;   not on  the principles of revolution, as Young Ireland contends. It is Ireland, Old Ireland, whose life is at stake, and which it is necessary to rescue and save. Ireland can know no Young Ireland. A nation cannot be twice born. There can be no Young Ireland. By the very fact that these young enthusiasts call themselves u Young Ireland," they declare that they are not Ireland, proclaim themselves, not nationalists, as they falsely pretend, but anti-nationalists. Nationalists are those who live the national life, are true to the national constitution, and ready to die in its support ; not they who separate from the nation, discard the national constitution, and are ready to draw the sword, not for the nation that is, but to hew out a nation after their own image. They may have poetry ; they may write stirring newspaper essays ; they may excel in vague and frothy declamation ; they may believe themselves honest, enlightened, and patriotic ; they may even fancy that their spirit is not Jacobinical, and regard the charge of being revolutionists as a gross calumny ; but, alas ! all men who demand liberty by appeals to sentiment instead of conscience, and expect it from passion instead of law, are revolutionists in principle, and need only the time and the occasion to reenact the part of Mirabeau, Panton, and Robespierre. These Young Irelanders, most likely, foresee not now whither tends the spirit by which they are governed ; but let them follow it for a time, and they will find that there is no retreat for them, that they have placed their country in such a situation that they cannot prevent a .Jacobinical revolution, even if they would, and such a revolution would only complete the work begun by the Saxon. If Ireland, the Ireland we have known and loved, the Ireland which has withstood the storms and tempests of two thousand years, famous in the annals of literature and religion, rich in saints, sufferings, and long centuries of perpetual martyrdom, be not doomed to utter extinction, she will disown these her pretended children, and treat them as St. Patrick did the less venomous serpents and reptiles which he found on her soil, and which can no more touch it and live.

But let. no one be so silly as to imagine that the conservative principle contended for by Count de Maistre is hostile to such social meliorations and such administrative changes as time and its vicissitudes may render necessary or expedient. But the true social reformer is the state physician, and proceeds in regard to the state precisely as the medical doctor does in regard to the human body.    He seeks always to heal the disorders of the state without destroying or impairing the constitution, and by the application of such remedies as are peculiarly adapted to the constitution. If the constitution is already broken up and become incurable, he knows there is no effectual remedy, and that complete dissolution, sooner or later, must inevitably ensue. But if he finds the constitution still sound at bottom, he seeks simply to restore it to its normal state, and to guard against whatever would tend to impair its healthy and vigorous action. In other words, he restores, but does not seek to^create ; develops, but does not attempt to institute.

On this principle we see our present Holy Father introducing administrative changes in the temporal government of the States of the Church.     Plow far  the reforms he has introduced  or proposed  extend, we are not able to say ; and how far they will effect the end intended, and serve to tranquillize the turbulent spirits, the unprincipled and ambitious, among his subjects, it is not for us to judge, or even to inquire.    But we caiMjasily believe that in an old government, like that of the Roman States, some administrative abuses may with the lapse of time have crept in, and that the alterations which for the last hundred years have been taking place around them have rendered some administrative changes expedient.     As a wise and judicious prince, as a watchful and tender father, the Pope seems to believe such to be the fact, and to be determined to correct the former and to introduce the latter ; and for this he has been applauded to the echo, rather in the hope of inducing him to go iarther, we apprehend, than from any real satisfaction felt for what he has thus far done or proposed.    But we confess, that, notwithstanding the shouts which ring in our ears, and the loud praises he has secured from those whose praise is always suspicious, we have seen in him not the least conceivable tendency to countenance the misnamed Liberalism now so rife in the European populations.     They who flatter themselves that the Sovereign Pontiff of Christendom is about to place himself at the head of the Liberals, as their leader in the war against legitimacy, will find their shouts have been premature, and their hopes fallacious. That Pius the Ninth is the father of his people, that his sympathies are with the oppressed and down-trodden of all nations, that he is the uncompromising enemy of injustice and arbitrary rule, whether of kings or peoples, is no doubt true, and in saying so we only say he is Pope ; but because this is true, we have the fullest assurance that nothing can be farther from his thoughts and intentions than to countenance, even in the remotest degree, the mad and ruinous radicalism or socialism of the day, or that it has aught to hope from him but his anathema.

We know the enemies of law and order have rejoiced ; we know that even some Catholics, placing their politics, unconsciously no doubt, before their religion, — and we commend the fact to the London Tablet and its Parisian correspondents, — have flattered  themselves  that our  Holy Father seeks to effect an alliance between Catholicity and modern socialism ; but he is the Vicar of Jesus Christ, not a pupil from the school of the apostate De Lamennais, and can no more form an alliance with socialism than with despotism.    One Pope is not in the habit of reversing, in what involves a principle, the decisions of another.     We all know the doctrine of the VJlvenir ; we all know that after the revolution of July, 1S30, De Lamennais sought to persuade the Church to make common cause with the European populations against their political sovereigns, to throw herself into  the arms of the people, and trust for her support to their holy instincts ; and we all know the answer he received from Rome.     The Church throws herself into the arms of neither the people nor the sovereigns ; she relies for support on no power foreign to herself.    She rests on God alone, who has promised to be with her all days unto the consummation of the world.     She forms no alliances.    The sects may trim  their sails to the breeze, and appeal now to despotism and now to liberalism, now seek to avail themselves of a temperance excitement, and now of an Abolitionist or a socialist movement, for they are all impotent in themselves,  and can subsist only  by means of supplies drawn from abroad.    But the Church draws all her support and  all  her  motive power from within, from God himself.    Her ensign is the cross, the cross alone, and her battle-cry, from the first to the last, is Deus vult.     As she withstood the despotic tendency of kings and emperors in the Middle Ages, and taught the sovereigns that they held their power as a trust from God, and were bound to exercise it for the good of their subjects, so will she withstand the popular tendencies towards license and anarchy, and teach the people that their duty and their interest are in the maintenance of the order Almighty God has established for them, and in frank and conscientious submission to law.

Nothing could be madder, on the part of Catholics with us, than to give in to the radicalism of the country. Our only security here is in the supremacy of the law, and the prevailing sense of its sacredness, without which its supremacy is impossible. The Catholic who does not wish to pave the way for the confiscation of the property of his Church, and for the suppression of his worship in these States, must beware how he binds himself to the extreme liberalism of the country, and aids the tendency now so active, under the name of progress, to sweep away all the guaranties of law. It is patural that persons who have during their whole lives felt only the pressure of government, and known government only in its abuses, should on coming here be disposed to adopt extreme views, and think only of restricting the sphere and diminishing the power of government ; and it is natural also, that, finding their religion generally unpopular, they should seek to conciliate favor for it, or to acquire popularity for themselves, by falling in with the popular political current, and showing themselves enthusiastic in their support of the dominant tendency of the country ; but in doing either they are as far from consulting their true interest as they are their duty as Catholics. Majorities may protect themselves ; minorities have no protection but in the sacred-ness and supremacy of law. The law is right as it is ; we must study to keep it so ; and if we do, we shall always throw our influence on the conservative side, never on the radical side.

It may be objected, that the doctrine we contend for is opposed to progress ; but it is opposed to progress in no sense in which progress is not a delusion. There is progress of individuals, but no progress of human nature, — a progress of particular nations, but none of the race. Nations are like individuals ; they are born with their peculiar constitutions and capacities, which determine all that they can be. They grow up like individuals, attain their growth, their maturity, decline into old age, become enfeebled, and die, and pass away. It is the universal law, and there is no elixir vike, for nations any more than for individuals. The Rosicrucians pretended that it is possible in the case of the individual to ward off death and maintain perpetual youth, and Godwin, and Balzac, and Bulwer have made the notion the theme of interesting romances, as all know who have read St. Leon, he Centenaire, and Zanoni, and our modern politicians try to persuade us to believe the same is possible with regard to the state ; but, in either case, it is a mere dream of the fancy or. a delusion of the devil. The limits of our national progress are fixed by the inherent principles of our constitution, and it is madness to dream of passing beyond them.

In conclusion, we would express our thanks to the translator of the excellent little work which we have made the theme of our remarks. He has done his task with tasle and fidelity, and the notes he has annexed to the work add to its permanent value. There is one thing, however, the translator has not done ; but as he knows what it is, and as it concerns him personally, we say no more. Disagreeing with De Maistre as to his monarchical views, at least so far as concerns our own country, arid avowing it as our full and settled conviction that the destiny of our country is inseparable from the destiny of its republican constitution, we yet recommend his Essay as worthy of general study, and as almost the only sensible political pamphlet that has ever been published amongst us. Our politicians may slight it, may denounce it, and denounce us for recommending it; but if they do, so much the worse for them, so much the worse for the country.

But, be this as it may, dark and lowering as are our political heavens, we know there is a good Providence over us, and we will never despair of the republic. There is a limit to the power of evil, and when things are at worst they sometimes mend. We will hope that we have reached the term of our downward tendency ; that radicalism has had its day ; that a reaction has commenced, and that the mass of our people will recover from their folly, and henceforth not fear to be conservative.