« AnteriorContinuar »
tality in the manner of executing sentences; insecurity in the home against searches, seizures and arrests, and police interference with the private life of the citizen. To this is added a charge of general and all pervading corruption among public officials, courts, police officers, governors and even ministers. Just how far this sweeping charge is justified by the facts it is impossible to state, but the want of that effective check, accountability to the people for whom and on whom authority is exercised, renders it probably true that the charge is well sustained. The Czar and the ministers seek to keep informed of all that is doing through the secret police and spies, but of the integrity of these they have no better guaranty than of the officials they are sent to watch. The fundamental difficulty, which no autocratic government has ever permanently overcome, is that the number of matters to be investigated is too great and the scene of action is too far away for any set of men at the capital to be able to learn the facts and act intelligently on them. To conduct the affairs of so vast an empire safely and intelligently much must be referred to the people of each district, who alone can be relied on to bring to account their local oppressors or incompetent public servants. With every step forward in civilization an accession of mental and moral force in the governing head is required, which no one man or small clique of men can possibly furnish. The knowledge, virtue and power of the great multitude must be drawn from in order to move forward safely and rapidly. The purest and best part of the administration of Russian affairs will generally be found to be that under the immediate supervision of the Czar himself and that directly managed by the people in their local concerns.
Authorities Rambaud: History of Russia. Beaulieu: The empire of the Tzars. Stepniak: Russia under the Tzars. Stepniak: The Russian Peasantry. Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Were it not for the fact that the city of Rome is included within its boundaries and is now its capital, there would appear little connection between modern Italy and ancient Rome. The boundaries of the present kingdom, though clearly marked by nature, were never of importance to Rome. Her policy and system both under the republic and empire applied equally to more distant lands. As a political unit Italy has no history till within the last half century. After the fall of the western empire came the Goths and established a kingdom over the peninsula, nominally under commission from the eastern Emperor, but really with little recognition of his authority. Then followed the effort of Justinian to reëstablish the Byzantine rule and the appointment of an exarch at Ravenna to rule as his representative. Then came the invasion of the Lombards, also a German race. They came not merely as an invading army but as a moving nation with wives, children and all their chattels, occupied the valley of the Po and moved slowly down along the interior of the peninsula, leaving Venice, Ravenna, Rome and other portions untouched. From their advent till modern times the sovereignty over Italy was divided. The temporal power of the popes, like that of feudal lords in later times, had for its foundation a recognized ownership of land. By various means the Roman pontiff acquired large possessions in and about Rome, over which he assumed civil authority. Under Gregory I (590 to 604) these possessions were largely increased. In 754 the Frankish king Pepin, having taken up the quarrel of the Pope with the Lombards and defeated them, handed over to Pope Stephen III a con
* For Mediaeval events in see ch. X'V. For a full account of the legislation of the Goths, Burgundians, Lombards and Franks see Calisse's History of Italian Law, Continental Legal History Series, Vol. 1.
siderable district including Ravenna and Pentapolis, “to be held and enjoyed by the pontiffs of the Apostolic See forever.' This was followed in 800 by the alliance of Pope Leo III with Charlemagne, by which the latter received the imperial crown from the former and in return recognized the spiritual supremacy of the Pope throughout Christendom. The southern portion of the peninsula did not submit to Charlemagne, but recognized the ultimate sovereignty of the emperor at Constantinople. After the Frankish empire fell into decay there followed a period of discord and lack of central authority, though there was a titular king of Italy, who waged war on the local nobility to enforce his authority with varying success. In 961 the German emperor Otto entered Lombardy and in the next year was crowned emperor by the Pope at Rome. The dominion of Otto and succeeding German emperors was never fully recognized throughout Italy, and wars frequently occurred in efforts to enforce their authority. Then came the war of the investitures, which was a struggle for actual power between the Pope and the Emperor. Following this conflict, though it may not be safe to say as a result of it, came the age of free cities. The feudal system was introduced into Italy and was enforced in rural communities, but the towns adopted popular systems and asserted their independence. The history of these petty states affords a most valuable lesson in the subject of our study. Their development was along similar lines with substantially similar results. At first a comparatively few people joined together for mutual aid and protection. The system of municipal government at first adopted was popular in character and design to protect the more humble citizens against aggression. The tyrant most dreaded was usually a feudal lord, against whom the burghers united. Joining for defense against the exactions of rapacious nobles, they were disposed to accord justice to each other. This necessarily implies consideration for the rights of the humble. With superior moral principles as the basis of their institutions they naturally drew strength and gained numbers from among those who could escape from the dominions of oppressive nobles. With freedom of action accorded to each
citizen and protection to all these little republics exhibited a degree of activity and force far exceeding that to be found among people ruled by petty despots, and the development of industries and trade went forward at a remarkable pace. Though the free cities succeeded in combining against common enemies at times, they soon manifested jealousies and hostility toward each other. Like the ancient Greeks they lacked capacity for combining for common ends, and went to war instead. In their several internal organizations democratic systems were gradually converted into oligarchical ones and these generally, perhaps universally, divided into warring factions, which were only subdued by a despot, usually from without the particular city. Thus it will be observed that these republics began with relatively good principles and exceptional prosperity and ended in disaster and tyranny. The question naturally forces itself on us, if the early system is the better, why is it invariably followed by that which is worse? Why does the good perish and the bad take its place? The answer must be that the early system contained the germs of its own destruction, and that these germs grew and gained strength at the expense and ultimately to the exclusion of the salutary principles which were dominant in the early organization.
Everywhere it will be found that the power of a ruling oligarchy has developed in connection with the theory of the transmission of property by inheritance. Probably the reason why the effects of laws of inheritance in developing a distinct class are not readily perceived is, that estates pass from father to son, one at a time, so that there is no time when there is a noticeable change in the personnel of the oligarchy. Where all start poor and on a substantially equal footing, difference in capacity, strength, prudence and other circumstances, results in the accumulation by some of more property than the rest. Perhaps no social or political distinction results from this difference. The feeling of fellowship between the richest and poorest may continue through life. But at the death of the wealthy one the estate passes by inheritance to a son who has done nothing to merit it. He takes it with a feeling of
pride and superiority over the sons of the poor. If possessed of the requisite qualities the inheritance he has received adds to his power to acquire wealth, and he increases his holdings. His riches give him distinction and naturally mark him as a public man. He is placed in authority more or less of the time. At his death an increased estate passes to his heir. By this time the bond of sympathy between rich and poor is broken. The son, whose ancestors for two or more generations have enjoyed wealth and exercised power, believes himself to be of a superior class. He associates only with those of similar fortune and looks with contempt on the poor. Starting with an utterly false estimate of his own deserts, he regards the possession of property through a law which is merely a human regulation, as due to the special grace of a higher power and himself marked out as superior to the multitude. Discarding utterly the doctrine that individual merit and desert rest solely on individual conduct and effort, he makes a virtue of idleness and takes the fruits of the labors of others without suspecting that justice would deny him any share of that for which he returns nothing in exchange. Naturally the heirs of wealth associate mainly with those of their class, and by intermarriages wealth is consolidated and the interests of families are combined. The history of all the Italian cities shows that through exactly this process an oligarchy was established, based on possessions. Then came jealousies, rivalries and factions. While the poor may at times raise riots when bread is scarce, the idle rich spend their time, in plotting to gain still greater prominence and ascendency. Having plenty they covet still more and incite the poor, who are dependent on them, to fight in their interests. The landed aristocracy of Italy, like those of other parts of Europe in feudal times, based their rights on grants from the king or emperor. His right to make such grants generally had its foundation in military power and conquest. The shifting fortunes of the rulers of different states placed it in the power of some one of them at some time to regard each tract of land as conquered territory to be given to his favorite followers, and as to many parts there were many changes of sovereignty.