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practice, and imposed by the very circumstances of the country. These were boons to be striven for, not, as in the case of the Americans, in the main, facts to be asserted. The American claims were closely related to the rights they were actually accustomed to enjoy, the French rested mainly on theory and aspiration. To say in America that men were born free, and equal in rights, was as much to state a fact as to urge a claim; in France it was to herald a revolution.

Political speculation was, it is true, active, especially in the quarter of a century preceding the Revolution, but, outside the ranks of the bureaucracy, there was no real acquaintance with the practical details of politics and government. The leaders of thought were not leaders of political parties, but philosophers and literary men, undeterred by any experience or feeling of responsibility from pushing their theories to their logical limits and drawing most radical conclusions. When the machine of royal government broke down, it was these philosophers or their doctrinaire disciples that for a while shaped the policy of the nation. In this matter also the contrast between the controlling circumstances in France and America is striking.

Thus, in most respects, the soil was very differently prepared in the two countries for the reception of the new gospel. In France its acceptance would require a thorough change in every phase of public life. Autocracy should give place to popular control, privilege to equality, arbitrary government to the reign of law. And this great transformation was to be effected by men who had served no apprenticeship to public affairs, but who were the disciples of a school of thought that had persistently ignored the difficulties that must be encountered in carrying through even less far-reaching reforms.

With the best will in the world among all parties the confusion was bound to be considerable. But that those whose interests were threatened should make no struggle was improbable. The spirit of compromise was necessary, or at least advisable, but this spirit could not for long prove acceptable to the hard, rationalistic temperament of the age. The monarchy, as anything but the ornamental head of a disguised republic, seemed hardly compatible with the newly-proclaimed Rights of Man. And yet was it reasonable to expect the descendant of the long line of Capetian

kings meekly to accept this point of view? Even when he did fall in with the predominant ideas Louis XVI always resisted long enough to give his surrender the appearance of being made with bad grace and against the grain, of being made to compulsion rather than to conviction. The privileges of the nobility had made slight resistance to the onslaught that was made on them, when, in the summer of 1789, anarchy was triumphant in town and country. Still it was known that a certain number of prominent nobles had crossed the frontiers breathing vengeance against their opponents, and with the expressed intention of returning victoriously and imposing their will on France. The elements of a class war, absent in America, were here present from the very beginning. The fears and suspicions engendered by the inappropriate conduct of the King, who knew neither how to give way nor how to resist, and by the open threats of the 'Emigration' inextricably complicated a situation that was already sufficiently complex.

Even those articles in the Declaration, the aim of which was to assert the rights of the individual against the omnipotence of the State, not only failed in their purpose when the stress came, but at the moment of their promulgation increased the elements of danger. True, some practical reforms were necessary to deal with the abuse of letters de cachet and to secure the subject against that system of arbitrary imprisonment that obtained under the Ancien Régime, but at a moment when the whole fabric of society was falling to pieces the wisdom was questionable of giving, as it were, an official sanction and an increased impetus to an individualism that was already scarce compatible with the continued existence of the body politic. As is well known the first great effort to restore unity and 'authority' was the work of a government that ruthlessly trampled on the Rights of Man' and even on the claims of the most elementary justice.

The dangers inherent in the lure of the American example were present to the minds of many who assisted at the debates on the Declaration. Mirabeau was hostile to the whole project, because he saw that it would still further weaken the powers of the Executive at a time when the growth of anarchy made any such development doubly fraught with peril. Lally Tollendal, as we saw, feared that the adoption of Lafayette's proposal would help to promote a breach between the Assembly and the King.

He also insisted on the enormous difference between a young country throwing off the hated yoke of the tyrant, and a people which had grown great under the fostering care of fourteen centuries of monarchical rule. Sillery was aware that the lesson of experience is that the laws that are good for one country may prove unsuitable for another. Even such a strong partisan of the Declaration as Rabaut St. Etienne, the Huguenot pastor, issued a warning against a too slavish imitation of the United States as a different set of circumstances prevailed there.

There were two speakers, however, who seem to have emphasized the essential differences between the two countries. The Bishop of Auxerre denied that the example of America was conclusive, because the population of that country was mainly composed of proprietors, farmers-equal citizens.' In France it would be necessary first to pass laws and set up institutions which might help to render the people more equal inter se, before telling them indiscriminately, as could be done in America, 'You are all equal.' Malouet argued along the same lines.

I know that the Americans have adopted this precaution [of a preliminary enunciation of principles], they have taken man in the heart of nature, and shown him in his primitive sovereignty. But the newlyformed American society is composed almost entirely of proprietors, accustomed to equality, strangers alike to luxury and to indigence, with scarce any experience of the taxation and prejudices which we have to bear. Such men are, without doubt, peculiarly fitted to receive the gift of liberty in all its fullness, for their tastes, customs, and position summon them to democracy.

How different the conditions in France! with its opulent, proud, and luxuriously living nobility, its educated and perhaps over-sophisticated middle classes, and its discontented, poverty-stricken, and starving populace. He might have summed up his argument by saying that it was less dangerous to apply to America the axioms of the theoretical philosophy of the century, especially of the 'Natural Right school, because the conditions there came nearer the suppositions on which many of these speculations rested.

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PARABLES from Nature, as symbolizing spiritual truths, serve a double purpose and their cogency is authoritative, since our Lord's noticeable use of them in His own method. Catholic theologians have been careful to determine the relation of natural to eternal law, because they recognize the power of that relation, not only to teach spiritual truths but also to make them real, by enabling the mind to pass from things of sense-experience to revealed truths without loss of grip upon a conti uous, uniform reality.

The language of theology seems to connect visible and invisible reality in some such way as a visible impression on wax is related to the r al seal, which, though unseen, has stamped it. St. Thomas says, for instance: Lex naturalis est participatio legis aeternae: et impressio divini luminis in natura rationali.'

Natural law is here regarded as participating in eternal law by an impression of divine wisdom on our rational nature. If a letter, for instance, came from America sealed with wax: the visible, tangible impression on the solid wax, though we may never have seen the die used, would enable us to infer, without loss of continuity in certitude, the corresponding device on the sender's seal; because the wax has participated in that device, and the impression left behind is the precise form of its efficient cause.

In like manner, when we see a building-a church, college, or mansion-we know the idea in the mind of the architect who designed it, because he impressed his idea on the arrangement of brick or stone before us: his hidden thought has become the visible form of a concrete building; and we are thus able to make as real an affirmation about the unseen builder and his intention, as we do of his works, and by means of those works. Our Lord, by His use of analogies, confirms this view: nor is it difficult to account

for the laws of nature being similar to those of the spiritual world, if we may assume that one and the same divine Architect planned both spheres on the same laws of wisdom; and perhaps purposely, in order that the visible in nature may not only reveal, but also make real, the invisible in super-nature. For, if the laws are identical, the phenomena resulting will be, in the two spheres, parabolical. St. Paul explicitly says so: The invisible things are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.'

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An Anglican writer has recently pointed out that the lawyers in England, after parting from Catholic Faith in the sixteenth century and onwards, began to reject natural law as the basis of human justice, notwithstanding the fact that jurists of previous ages had built upon it. In former times, indeed, law, positive, municipal, and customary, was an attempt to apply eternal principles to the changing circumstances of human life-and where human law failed to do this, it was bad law, the mere wilfulness of arbitrary rulers, but where the guidance of natural law is rejected society tends perilously to artificial conditions; so that instead of living in harmony with nature, as understood in former times, human life must now be subjected to any perverse custom, or arbitrary theory, that from time to time may please a wayward multitude.

In St. Thomas's view, laws of nature express the wisdom of the Divine Legislator, who created man to suit the lawbound world he lives in, and who ordered social life to ends which cannot be put aside without heavy penalties. But the English lawyers began to regard that theory as a brain-sick fancy: they accepted as their standard human custom, and the will of the national legislature for the time being; they made that legislature absolute, so that the ruling authority, refusing to conform its decrees to any such conception as an eternal law revealed in nature, enforced as law whatever the majority in Parliament could be persuaded to sanction: in consequence, any divine higher control was practically repudiated, and English law became in theory atheistic.1

Modern science pretends much enthusiasm for natural law, but it has emptied the phrase of its original meaning: to the modern scientist in great part, natural law is either unexplained necessity, or a mere statement of observed consequences, which are presumed continuous. God, as

1 The House of Lords has recently, with one dissentient, confirmed this view incidentally in the case of the Secular Society v. Bowman.

VOL. X-10

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