Richard Simpson

Bureaucracy

(1859)

 



Note

This essay was published in the Rambler, n.s. (2d ser.) II (February 1859) : 113-125.

It is probably one of the best essays on bureaucracy. It captures the essence and raison d'être of any bureaucratic apparatus and it does so in a very profound way. For Richard Simpson the bureaucratic mind is the pedantic mind of those who think they know better. And, on the basis of this absurd pretence, the bureaucrats want to direct our life, i.e. "to measure out our labour, to superintend our studies, to prescribe our opinions, to make itself answerable for us, to put us to bed, tuck us up, put on our nightcap, and administer our gruel."

This statement made in 1859 (and others scattered throughout the text) has proved itself so terribly true that it is high time to put an end to this obnoxious agent that, for decades, has been sucking so much energy out of all productive individuals, energy that could have instead gone towards building a healthy and wealthy social life for each and everyone.

 


 

It may seem strange to some of our readers, that while we profess great hostility to bureaucracy, or the interference of a centralised government in matters of family and individual life, we should at the same time take up the cudgels in favour of a governmental inquiry into our education which will probably result in such an interference.

And here, most certainly, if we thought we could do without Government altogether, we should infinitely prefer doing so; but all our most sensible heads have come to the conclusion that this is impossible, both on account of our poverty and weakness, and because of the power and intention of Government. The problem, therefore, is, to make the best terms we can; and our advocacy of cooperation with the Commission is grounded entirely on this consideration.

For we consider that any generalised system of education is of dangerous tendency, that it leans towards the bureaucracy which we so much fear, and encourages bureaucratic principles both in teachers and in the taught. Bureaucracy resides in faculties, not in classes. There could not be a bureaucracy of mere farmers, or landed proprietors, or merchants; similarity of employment is not enough; nor are organisation, mutual dependence, and mutual intelligence sufficient. A military government is not a bureaucracy. The men of a bureaucracy must have sufficient literary and scientific culture to enable them to set up as critics and guides of life, and therefore fit to direct the life of the nation. Bureaucracy is nothing factitious, nothing imposed from without; it is a natural growth, produced by the creation and organisation of a mass of educated employés. It is the expression of their social life.

In all governments there may be odious tyranny, monopolies, exactions, and abominable abuses of nearly all kinds; but the idea of a bureaucracy is not fulfilled till we add the pedantic element of a pretence to direct our life, to know what is best for us, to measure out our labour, to superintend our studies, to prescribe our opinions, to make itself answerable for us, to put us to bed, tuck us up, put on our nightcap, and administer our gruel. This element does not seem possible without a persuasion on the part of the governing power that it is in possession of the secret of life, that it has a true knowledge of the all-embracing political science, which should direct the conduct of all men, or at least of all citizens. Hence any government that avowedly sets before its eyes the summum bonum of humanity, defines it, and directs all its efforts to this end, tends to become a bureaucracy.

The world has seen many realisations of, and more attempts to realise, all kinds of bureaucracies; the bureaucracy of lawyers, of divines, of physiologists, of political economists, of schoolmasters, of philosophers, of paternal administrators - all of whom have had their special nostrum, their panacea, for ailing humanity, which they have felt called to compel humanity, list or loth, to swallow. The bureaucracy of lawyers is the universal pattern of all. Law, according to the Greek, Roman, and revived-classical definition, extends to every action of man: the legal rights of legislators attach to every possible act; whatever the subject does may be questioned; they may abuse, but can never exceed, their power. The authority of government is unlimited, so far as there are no express boundaries to it. "Whatever the law does not command, it forbids," says Aristotle, and "the laws speak on all possible subjects" [Ethics, v. II and 2]. Again, "The law should govern all things." [Politics, iv. 6]. So far was this principle carried, that a society where the law was not thus developed was not thought to deserve the name of a polity. England would have been thought barbarous, unstatesmanlike, unscientific, in considering all actions lawful, and the liberty of the subject unbounded, till a law can be produced that forbids them. In Greece and Rome the law was first, and the man had to prove his right. In England, the man is first, and the burden of proof of illegality in his actions is thrown on the law; there is no droit admistratif, no power whatever belongs to the government, as such, except what the law gives it; there is no personification of the state, no sacrifice of the solid constituent to the ideal whole. England has no XII Tables to declare the salus populi suprema lex, but clings to the mediaeval and Christian principle, jus cujusque suprema lex; the supreme law is founded on the rights of individuals, not on the supposed expediency of the state.

But the civil law takes the entire man under its tutelage, and sets itself up as the mundane providence. And lawyers, imbued with its spirit, are the very incarnations of bureaucracy. Never was this exhibited more clearly than in the Convention of French pettifoggers, where Robespierre declared, "We will have an order of things where all base and cruel passions are chained up, and all beneficial and generous passions aroused, by the laws"; and where St. Just pretended to change, by a violent dose of legislation, the morals and manners of a nation, and to reform the human heart.

Happily free from this aggravated plague of lawyers, England has suffered much from the bureaucracy of divines: as in the religious espionage established by the penal laws; in the Puritan pretence to identify Church and State, to deduce their State-Church rules from Scripture only, and to abolish canon, civil, chancery, and common law and law-courts in favour of their elder-discipline and scriptural courts of conscience - a pretence carried out with inquisitorial espionage, and the gravest attention of the heaviest divines even to the lightest minutiae of female ornament and male amusement; and in the caliphate of Charles I, with his viziers Laud [1] and Juxon [2] and Spotswood [3], their courts of High Commission and Star-Chamber, and their hundreds of governmental acts, motived solely by the desire to fix each man passively in his proper place, and to maintain in each the sense that he was under the paternal charge of persons who could judge better than himself what he should eat, drink, and avoid.

But this is rather the physiological bureaucracy, such as Bacon dreamed of in his New Atlantis [4]. Suffice it to say, that the great characteristic of true bureaucracy is the intimate conviction of its conductors that the provisions made by them adequately cover the whole area of human life and thought, or at least the most important parts of it; therefore that all other provisions are superfluous, and, if contrary to their ideas, noxious, and as such, to be done away with as soon as possible, so as to leave a clear field for the regenerating action of their beneficent influence. Hence the intolerant, monopolising, intrusive character of all true bureaucracy, and its distinction from the vulgar inartificial military tyranny, or the rule of the policeman. These only look at first to the outside of things, to overt acts; bureaucracy, when fully developed, searches the hearts and thoughts by its secret police. But take the soldier or the policeman, educate him to look after our morals, to report upon our opinions, and to interfere with our family arrangements, and you soon teach him to be a bureaucrat. There is no bureaucracy in the rough-and-ready expedients of the press-gang, or in the recruiting-sergeant wheedling the drunken ploughboy to receive the Queen's shilling. But when all the population is kept on the registers, their employments and acquirements noted, their bodily capabilities marked, and themselves subjected at intervals to the machinery of the conscription, then we begin to perceive the presence of a bureaucratic agency, mixing itself up with the family, and directing the national life.

But this agency does not become very intolerable till it is further developed, and begins to meddle with locomotion, communication, association, opinion, and faith. It then becomes a kind of tutorship or pedantry, applicable to little boys, but applied to grown men and women. Its whole type is pedagogic; its symbol is the schoolmaster: not, indeed, the schoolmaster of old days, when the birch became the refuge of decayed butlers, seedy bankrupts, out-at-elbows ne'er-do-wells who had failed in every other occupation, and lazy loungers who had not credit to command capital for any higher venture - in a mass of such materials there was neither organisation, nor ambition, nor restlessness, and therefore no germs of bureaucracy.

But this type of schoolmaster is rapidly disappearing under the government influence; considered both internally and externally, the "preceptor's" life is now a different thing from what it was. Taken by itself, the vocation of a teacher has three elements: grandeur of trust - to form a budding intellect and to direct opening habits; irksomeness of operation, in its wearisome repetitions, contradictions of impudent pupils, annoyances, and disappointments; and pettiness of material to be worked with - the infantine mind, not in its amiable manifestations, but in a routine as distasteful to itself as to the teacher - alphabets, rudiments, simple ideas and words, elementary arithmetic, and other things as uninteresting to the most ordinary as to the more extraordinary mind. Then, with regard to its external position, the triviality of the necessary acquirements keeps the scholastic market abundantly if not well supplied, and depresses the market-value even of the better class of teachers. All these things tended to keep down the average acquirements of primary schoolmasters; or to confine the profession to a class of men who, if not fit for that work, were at any rate fit for nothing else. There is a contradiction in the requisite elements of character: the religious grandeur of the trust requires an enlarged or religious soul to appreciate it: on the other hand, an enlarged mind is but too apt to be utterly disgusted both with the irksome wearisome treadmill of labour and with the petty details of alphabets, spelling-lessons, and addition; and a mind that could easily allow itself to be absorbed in these matters is hardly likely to take an intelligent view of the grandeur of its vocation. Hence the good schoolmaster was usually a dull fellow of high principle, who worked hard because it was his duty, and was able to stick to his work because he had not wit to feel the tedium of the eternal round of routine he was doomed to tread; while the bad schoolmaster was often the seedy fellow we have described above, entering the profession without a conscience, without a thought of the ideal grandeur of the calling, driven by the necessity of seeking food and shelter, and invited by the easy elementary character of the small stock-in-trade requisite to begin business.

But the days of this jog-trot system were numbered when Government began to provide schools, and to pay teachers according to the results of a competitive examination. Such examination only proves the sharpness or power of masters, not their patience or will to economise those powers. But for a model primary master, patience rather than sharpness is the first requisite. The primary master loses his pupils as soon as they get beyond the rudiments, and has to begin again with a fresh batch. His chances of having a legitimate opportunity to display his flashy acquirements are but small; in a short time he is wearied out, bored to death, and loses patience; then he begins to test new theories and try new schemes, unless he makes up for his wearisome mental drudgery by passionate indulgence; at least he rejects the idea of giving up his life to this distasteful discipline; he looks forward to emancipation, or to raising himself, if not in his profession, at least through his profession; he enters into combination with others of the class, with whom he agitates theories and schemes; he becomes more and more alienated from the plain dry duty of instructing a rapid succession of children in the same rudiments; he begins to dislike this almost ecclesiastical calling, which constitutes the ascetic life of so many devoted religious persons, and attaches himself more and more to the government which awakened his intellectual ambition by its competitive examinations, and which holds the purse on which he chiefly depends: then he begins to regard himself as a member of the class of functionaries - as a government employé, and to despise all authority but that which holds out prizes to his ambition. Here, then, is an organisation, wide-spreading, influential, pedantic; a ready tool of government interference, if any Ledru Rollin [5] should arise who wants to use it.

And the boys formed on the competitive principle constitute another element of danger in the same direction. The master is naturally anxious to present a creditable school to the inspector: he has done all he can to sharpen his pupils, and to fill them with a kind of literary enthusiasm; and the boys have got the smattering of an education that makes them discontented with unintellectual labour, and holds out to them hopes of clerkly employment. The bricklayer's son, who has learned Latin and the use of the globes, despises the handicraft of his father, and determines not to be an artisan: he seeks a place - clerk, shopboy, railway officer, policeman, postman - something "literary," or something under government, where his pen-proficiency and book-learning may be turned to some account. Then the influence of the competitive system itself substitutes ambition for respect and the amiable feelings which made the master a kind of father to his boys, and leads the pupils to value their acquirements, not for any substantial excellence of their own, but for the power they confer of triumphing over others, and raising themselves above their original level. Moreover the special subjects in which the competition takes place are subjects of no intrinsic market-value in themselves, productive neither of food nor raiment, but simply preparations to aid the mind in the future business of life. But these mental preparations have hitherto in school been treated as the substantial business of life; and there is a life where they are the substantial business, namely, the life of the bureau. Competitive education, therefore, is gradually forming a large class of young men whose interest it would be to remodel society on a bureaucratic basis, and to multiply offices, so that they might be able to gain their living by what they had learned at school.

Now in a country like ours, where one power in the constitution is the democratic element, the spread of intelligence among the people must continually bring more and more of them within the number of those in whom the exercise of political power is vested. And the mere multiplication of the constituents of a state is a step towards bureaucracy; it almost necessitates both the multiplication of employés and the increase of their power to pry into the actions of every citizen. For instance, when the French Revolution gave the right of universal suffrage, it was of course necessary to take care that the same man should not fraudulently vote several times at the same or different urns. Hence every elector - every male adult - had to be furnished with a kind of passport and ticket of identification, in which the police had to certify all changes of domicile, and at last all locomotion. The man was described in the paper he carried, and he was liable to be challenged to produce it at any time or place. Here is the abominable passport system following as a logical result from universal suffrage and the ballot; and bureaucracy is proved to be as natural an attendant on the multiplication and intensifying of the democratic element of society as on autocracy. And when this numerous class of employés consists of young men taught in the competitive schools, they must be of the type which such schools are calculated to turn out. A crammed knowledge, a smattering of all sciences, is no store to be depended upon: its real result is a conceited ignorance, a sharpening of the common logical powers of the mind, adapting it for that commonest of all logical processes, the development of principles to their farthest results, but leaving it quite unfurnished for the real business of reason - weighing probabilities, allowing for the interference of contrary principles, and appreciating all facts on which induction is to be founded. The young, ardent, unfurnished mind insists on a priori principles. The rights of man on the one side, the divine right of kings on the other, divide unformed intellects between them; older heads, older either in years or in judgment, soon see the utter futility of the attempt to apply mathematical and metaphysical methods to the practical questions of morals and politics. But unhappily the a priori method has great charms: its unfaltering infallibility, its confident universality, its entire contempt for all gainsayers, and the facility of its arrangement, all captivate the young student. It is at the level of his powers: for logic requires but little external aid; it is internal; its principles are innate; it is as perfect in youth as in age - soon learned, easily used: given a prolific general principle, and, like the Tyrian cow's hide, logic soon cuts it up into strips enough to surround a city. But learning, that cautious hesitating desire to be right and fear of being wrong which tests the validity of each step by examples and experiments, is long, difficult, and disagreeable; it is recommended to the youthful student by no charms - it bears on its face the impress of dull prosaic labour.

Yet it is the characteristic of all great statesmen. Selden [6] avers that he and his assistants left not a document unturned in concocting the Declaration of Rights. Burke [7], in spite of his vast philosophical powers, and the ease and brilliancy with which he argues on general principles, is the great prophet of prosaic politics. All really great statesmen and lawyers are characterised by such a love of facts, by such a careful weighing of authorities, by such special pleading, that they seem to be cynically indifferent to the logical development of principles, to oratory, to philosophy, to the grandest and most admirable bursts of nature and feeling. In the sphere of law and politics, the man of cool judgment and informed reason snuffs out all such flourishes, pooh-poohs the rhetorician, and respects facts alone.

And this consideration will enable us to appreciate at its just value the praise which is claimed by Frenchmen, and allowed them by all fair minds. "We are logical," they say; "we carry out principles to their full development, and sacrifice facts to reason; we are preëminently rational": whereas "the English are more practical, but less reasonable; they do not think, or carry out their principles; they are in a perpetual hesitation as to rational systems, and never come to any simple unmixed conclusion; fortune favours them, but their minds are of an inferior order." We may note the French characteristic in the Irish mind. Without forgetting that the Irish Burke stands at the very head of the representatives of the English spirit, we cannot conceal from ourselves that much the same spirit rules in Ireland as in France, and with the same political results. One nation as much as the other is led to personify government, to look up to it as a personal ruler, animated with its own reason and will, and acting from its own feelings and impulses, and to expect it to guide, direct, and govern every thing. Instead of regarding it as a temporary committee - a kind of national vestry, elected to carry on the national business for a time in accordance with the national feeling, till a change in the public temper shall substitute another set of men to represent another policy - they consider government as a providence, omnipotent, and therefore answerable for every ill. As government is the great master of the supplies, they covet nothing so much as a place under it. The national ambition is to be an employé: without considering how the state is to go on if all are employed by it, all press into its service, and expect it to support them.

They reason out logically the first and simplest idea of government; they do not return upon the notion, analyse it, and modify their feelings in respect to it. This it is to be logical; this it is to be half-educated in a great national system of shallow and showy learning - to have sharpened intellects without practised judgments; this it is to be qualified almost naturally for journalists, for brilliant one-sided essayists, for special correspondents, for reporters, for penny-a-liners, for almost all the secondary employments of literature: but not to be fitted for a great imperial view of things, for command, for combination, for justice, for the highest walks in philosophy, till the defect has been eradicated by real labour and long and patient thought. The boasted superiority of our intellectual neighbours is really an inferiority, because the practical education of the illiterate Englishman is in its results much nearer to the most developed learning than the half-finished literary culture of France, which only makes a man logical and consistent in taking the part for the whole, in wearing half-truths threadbare, and in seeing no limit to his own capacity. Not that such a way of viewing things is peculiar to the Frenchman; give the illiterate Englishman the French culture, and he will soon have the French ideas.

It is only among such a people that bureaucracy in its purest and intensest form is possible; when the mechanism of government is considered to be the end of all things - the chief good of man; when man is a mere governable disposable animal, meant to be dealt with by the deep arcana of reports, orders, admonitions, and police regulations. The half-educated man never knows his ignorance; he thinks he knows all things; in other words, he makes the little he knows equivalent to all things [*]. Let this little be an acquaintance with the procedures of administration, and these procedures are sure to present themselves to his imagination as the grandest and most important things in the world. They will be his religion, and more than his religion: when his function supplies him also with food and raiment, then all the passions of interest are enlisted on its side, and administrators will club together for mutual protection and defence, and to exalt their function into the great prophetic and social institution of the world.

And people with this admiration of their functions are always the best functionaries; they go about their duties with a zest and religious fervour which ensures the most enthusiastic activity. Hence the bureaucratic spirit finds great favour with secretaries of state; they find their work facilitated and simplified by the zeal of their subordinates. The ease that it communicates to the wheels of politics is wonderful. Administrators know so well their own department, that the clumsy mechanism of our stupid old amateur vestrymen, overseers, justices, sheriffs, and legislators, has no chance of standing before it. Think of the power with which a poor-law commissioner comes down upon a pig-headed board of guardians that will give out-door relief instead of breaking up a poor body's home. He comes with the triple prestige of superior place, superior knowledge of the law, and perfect familiarity with the details of administrative practice. He comes down like an expert on a set of tyros, like a sailor on a lot of land-lubbers, like a traveller on a party of untravelled bumpkins. Every man is entitled to respect in matters of his own trade. The division of departments has enabled our commissioner to gather up into his own hands all the ribbons of every subdivision of his subject; he knows its statistics by heart; he soon comes to an understanding with the clerk of the board, or some other paid and permanent official, and with a very little dexterity manages to make matters go as he wishes. Nothing stands against him except every now and then the deep-read scientific knowledge of some retired philosopher, who besides taking a general view of all political departments, and reducing the commissioner's pretensions to their proper dimensions, is able to grapple with him on his own ground, and to maintain his argument even against the other's special preparation; then comes discussion and publicity, and an amendment of the obnoxious proceedings.

But as the state increases, and most in the classes that require to be administered, administration must increase likewise; the number of employés must wax greater and greater, they must be organised, and with their organisation the classification of the people whose affairs they have to administer must keep pace. In each department a powerful fraternity will be gradually formed, to inquire, to register, to report: first of all merely about our powers of contributing to the taxes; then about our births, deaths, and marriages; soon we have them inquiring about our religion - and we may be sure that what they inquire about they would meddle with if they dared - they do so whenever they dare. They inquire about a soldier's, or a pauper's, or a prisoner's religion, when he first enters the barrack, or the poor-house, or the prison. Is that man thenceforth really free to change his religion as he likes, with the freedom guaranteed to each subject by our constitution and our laws? or is he administered by the employé, who would compel him to keep as he is rather than take the trouble to alter the register? The poorer classes are already administered bureaucratically. The little end of the wedge is in, and a speculative systematic statesman may any day find occasion to drive it deeper.

It is a great mistake to suppose that a bureaucratic system is only possible where the government is monarchical; it can arise gradually under every form of policy, and it renders every form of government despotic. A man in authority is what he is, however he came there - by hereditary title, by the bayonets of his soldiers, or by universal suffrage; the road of his advancement is an accident, his position is the positive element, his essence is that he is a ruler. Whatever safeguards are necessary for any authorities, are necessary for all; we run no less risk from the aggrandised democrat than from the monarch or the aristocrat; it is the human nature of all of them equally to meddle, and to unite as much as possible the controlling with the executive power, so as to have no one who can interfere with their meddling. What can be clearer than that the controlling is the supreme power? what more logical than that the supreme power should actively assert its supremacy? A logical, that is, a half-learned people will therefore transfer the nominal power to the place where it really exists, and will cumulate the whole of it in the people or the monarch. Thus by bureaucracy people or monarch becomes equally despotic; it gives despotic power to whatever government it serves. The Swiss republics and the German and Sardinian constitutions are as despotic in their administration as the French empire, because in all the administration is bureaucratic.

Bureaucracy, when powerful, is essentially revolutionary, because it is logical; that is, because it proceeds on the literary development of general principles, not on the practical road of experiences and facts, and thence is led to introduce radical changes inconsistent with the habits of the people for whom it legislates. In interests and in condition the functionaries form a class apart, whose business is to classify the rest in the way that gives itself least trouble, and at the same time to multiply its duties towards them so as to have more claim upon them for pay and an excuse for multiplying its numbers. It always keeps changing the people along arbitrary lines of an artificial classification, on arithmetical, not on human principles; it makes no account of the history and habits of the people - what should it know of habits and history? Its only aim is perpetually to discover new modes of interference, to provide more work for the bureau, and to subject the people ever more completely to its drill.

It is revolutionary towards the head of the government, because its power does not reside in any person, but in the system; the bureau, the complex body, is supreme, and goes on as well without a head as with one. The head depends on it, not it on the head; he falls, and another rises in his room; but whoever rises must use the organisation that is ready - he cannot govern without it, has no time to form a fresh system, and is obliged to adopt that which is at hand. The head, therefore, that manifests any symptoms of a hostile reforming tendency, has to fear the bureaucracy as his most deadly, most revolutionary enemy.

Now, how to guard against the insidious approaches of this vile system. First, we have to restrict as much as possible the sphere of the meddlesomeness of Government, and to keep our independence in as many departments of life as possible; never to consent that the Government should have a power over one class that we do not wish it to have over another. Never to applaud an unjust law against others, lest it be one day turned against us. To be patient under the necessary unreadiness and slowness of an independent system, where each part is balanced by checks; and to oppose steadily and consistently every great attempt at centralisation, such as an equalised poor-rate and a central administration of the duties of the boards of guardians, whatever benefits or conveniences may be promised to us in exchange. The class of functionaries must be kept low. For this cause we lament the competitive examination, as encouraging acquirements that find no legitimate outlet in the work to be performed, and providing us with a restless encroaching body of young pedants; whereas the old system left us in peace, with the knowledge that we had nothing to fear from the assured incapacity and unambitious content of those to whom the permanent routine duties of the state were committed. The functionaries should always be kept subject to the public, and punished for every breach of courtesy or duty towards those whose business they have to administer. And in disputes the law should always prima facie suppose the functionary to be in the wrong, or at least should hold the balance perfectly even. They must, of course, be responsible to their official superiors, but not in questions between them and the public: as soon as the public has no power of proceeding against the functionary except with his superior's consent, then the foundations of a real bureaucracy are laid. Again, all complaints, all actions against them, must be public; while the functionaries are not allowed to acquire the freemasonry of a secret society, they can never do much harm. Finally, we shall never be safe from bureaucracy till we have exorcised from our public men that doctrinaire spirit which reigns in revolutionists like Bentham, Buckle, and Bright [**] - that positivism which treats man statistically and in the mass, not as individuals; arithmetically, not according to interests. The first result of formularisation is to abstract personality, as we showed in a review of Mr. Buckle last July. We must, then, be always suspicious of any school which treats men as so many ciphers to add up, subtract, divide, multiply, and reduce to vulgar fractions.

 


 

Notes by the Author

* Thus Selden, smarting under the Laudian bureaucracy, said: "Bishops are now unfit to govern because of their learning. They are bred up in another law; they run to the text for something done among the Jews that concerns not England. 'Tis just as if a man would have a kettle, and he would not go to our braziers to have it made as they make kettles; but he would have it made as Hiram made his brass-work, who wrought in Solomon's Temple."

** We wonder that no one has noticed the absolute identity, not only in principles but even in whimsies, between Mr. Bright's Birmingham programme and the manifestos of the English revolutionary clubs in 1791, quoted by Burke in his "Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs." Those clubs taught "that though it is much talked about, no such thing as a constitution exists, or ever did exist; the people have a constitution yet to form; since William the Conqueror the country has never regenerated itself, and is therefore without a constitution: where it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. . . . Every thing in the English government is the reverse of what it ought to be. . . . War is the common harvest of those who participate in the division and expenditure of public money. . . . Whether we view aristocracy before, or behind, or sideways, or any way else, domestically or publicly, it is still a monster; . . . the idea of an hereditary legislator is as absurd as an hereditary mathematician; . . . the law of primogeniture is against every law of nature, and nature itself calls for its destruction." The House of Commons was "mockery, insult, usurpation; not arising out of the inherent rights of the people, as the National Assembly does in France" - and so on, exactly in the Bright line, often in his very words. Burke, next to Time, the great demolisher of this political theory, is therefore decried by our revolutionary writers as mad; up to 1790 Mr. Buckle owns that he was the greatest statesman England ever saw; from that time his immortal thoughts were but the outpourings of a maniac, his argument a methodised madness, his political principle an hallucination.

 


 

Reference Notes

[1] Archbishop William Laud (1573-1645). Archbishop of Canterbury whose attempts to bring uniformity of worship and the "beauty of holiness" into the Anglican liturgy precipitated the slide into Civil War. (see: http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/biog/laud.htm)

[2] William Juxon (1582-1663). Bishop of London from 1633 to 1649 and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1660 until his death. (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Juxon)

[3] Sir Robert Spotswood (1596-1646). A close supporter of Charles I, in 1645 he was appointed secretary of state for Scotland. During the civil war he was taken prisoner and charged of high treason. He was executed in January 17, 1646. (see: http://www.electricscotland.com/history/other/spotswood_robert.htm)

[4] Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) wrote The New Atlantis in 1623.

[5] Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin (1807-1874) was a French politician known for his inflammatory speeches and demagogic stance.

[6] John Selden (1584-1654) was an English jurist, scholar of England's ancient laws and constitution.

[7] Edmund Burke (1729-1797) was an Anglo-Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher who occupied for many years a seat in the British House of Commons as a member of the Whig party.

 


[Home] [Top]