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the Revolution is concerned the Bills of Rights may be regarded as so many manifestoes on the part of the revolting colonies. But these manifestoes can hardly be said to have much influenced the result of the struggle. The issues were pretty clearly knit, and the ideas at strife plainly enough indicated, without the necessity of formally incorporating them in an official programme. American democracy, with its leading traits and ideas, would have come forth from the struggle had there been no such proclamation. The effectiveness of the American Declarations as such is due to the place that they occupy in the written Constitutions of the separate States, where, as we have seen, they act not as an incentive to but as a check on hasty legislation, and are one of the methods adopted by the people to control their representatives.

In France the situation was somewhat different; there the very fact that the Declaration was issued was a factor which helped to shape the course of events. Yet there also it is well to be on our guard against the danger of such exaggeration as Taine is guilty of. It is only to a comparatively small extent that the chaos which overwhelmed France can be attributed to the Declaration. A number of other circumstances were present in France, which go a long way to explain the different fates of the revolutionary movements there and in America.

For though the principles were the same on both Continents, the task undertaken by the French popular leaders was, as we have seen, more ambitious, the changes involved were more extensive and consequently liable to be productive of more confusion. But there were a number of cross currents present which prevented a normal development of the Revolution. In America there was plenty of bloodshed, but on the whole the contest took on the character of a war against the foreigner. In France this element was also present, but its influence was complicated by its connexion with the course of internal politics. The fear that a counter-revolution would be attempted was very widespread. Both the Court and the dissatisfied Nobility, many of whom had emigrated, were plotting, often at crosspurposes, to restore the older order of things. activities were suspected, and report magnified them. Mutual suspicion and hatred were being gradually_developed and perhaps fostered. The two evils which France hated most-Feudalism and the dismemberment of the


country at the hands of the foreigner-seemed likely to be imposed on her, and the Government was believed to be working to bring about this result. Whatever the Declaration of the Rights of Man might say about the Monarchy being simply the representative of the people, as a matter of fact it was quite clear that in France this was not the case. Hence every effort was made to thwart the King and deprive his government of all real power-and that at a time when anarchy was prevalent throughout France. France was to enter into a war with a foreigner but under the leadership of a King whom many believed to be in league with the enemy. To this confusion was added a schism in the Church and, as a consequence, the outburst of the first popular opposition to the Revolution. This was due, not to the enforcement of the Rights of Man, but to their flagrant violation and the assertion by the popular representatives of that principle of State-omnipotence against which they had so solemnly protested when exercised by the Monarchy.

These were among some of the principal causes which hurried on the Revolution from catastrophe to catastrophe. The promulgation of the Rights of Man added to their effectiveness as sources of disaster. The year 1789, especially the summer months, saw the complete breakdown of the old royal government, and the victory of the forces of disorder. A firm grip of the situation was necessary, but it was exactly here that Louis and his ministers were most at fault. The most fatal of all policies in a crisis of this magnitude drift '-was that followed by them. It would have been well had efforts been made to strengthen the instincts and feelings that helped to hold the State together. Instead of that, logic was to replace public spirit, a few general principles to do the work of the sentiments and traditions of centuries.

As a result of the disorders of the Revolution, the dangers inherent in such a procedure were more clearly realized during the nineteenth century, which here, as in other departments of thought, reacted against the onesided worship of the abstract understanding which characterized the eighteenth. It was recognized that it might be unwise to impose on a people principles or institutions -however excellent in themselves-which were not in harmony with the traditions and character of the people. Better faulty laws in harmony with the people's genius

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than more perfect ones which are foreign to it. This is one phase of that doctrine of Nationality, which has played such an important rôle in the Europe ushered in by the Revolution. It does not mean the rejection of principle in favour of experience '-experience without principle may be ineffective, as principle without experience may be dangerous; it does mean that principles should be applied with special reference to the concrete and definite national character of each people and time.

But I am not at present following the subsequent fate of the principles of 1789, any more than I have tried to trace their growth, both in literature and practical politics, up to the moment of their solemn proclamation by the Virginians in 1776. The purpose of these present papers is limited to a comparison of the action of the revolutionaries in America and France in issuing a declaration of political first principles, and of the different concrete meanings which the same set of abstract principles had for the two peoples.

There remains one point to consider. How far can the French be said to have borrowed both the idea of a declaration and its contents from the Americans? We have already seen that there is not one of the ideas contained in the seventeen articles of the Declaration which was not anticipated in one or other of the Bills of Rights. At first sight, especially when the mutually corresponding paragraphs are put side by side, as is done by Professor Jellineck, it might seem as if this were sufficient evidence of a detailed dependence of the French on the Americans. But a perusal of the debates in the National Assembly, imperfectly reported it is true, does not lend support to the idea that the members had recourse to the eight or nine Bills of Right to pick out from them sentiments and principles which met their approval. The detailed discussion on each article, the proposal of amendment after amendment, at times amidst considerable confusion, would seem to exclude any such hypothesis, unless strong positive evidence could be adduced in its favour-and this is not forthcoming.

Equally one-sided, however, seems the view of M. Boutmy who, with patriotic fervour rejects, even resents, the suggestion of any debt on the part of the French to the Americans for anything more than the idea of collecting

1 Annales des Sciences Politiques, July 15, 1902.

the rights of man and of the citizen into a single text and placing them at the head of the Constitution.' Such an inspiration could, he thinks, be derived from the influence of the Declaration of Independence, and it is very unlikely that the Bills of Rights of the separate States were present to the minds of the members of the National Assembly.


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But this view seems to ignore such evidence as we have. The French people had followed the course of events in America with great interest, and had given all-important assistance to the insurgent colonists. More than one French translation of the Constitutions of the thirteen States had been published. The references to America which are to be found in the reports of the debates may at first seem somewhat scanty, but only when we fail to bear in mind the general meagre character of these reports. On July 27 the Archbishop of Bordeaux, on behalf of the Committee on the Constitution, spoke in favour of a Declaration and thought it fitting that this noble idea, which originated in another hemisphere, should be transplanted first among the French. We have taken part in the events which gave North America her liberty; she shows us the principles on which we ought to base the preservation of our own. The speech of the Comte de Montmorency, who, in the debate of August 1, led that party of young nobles whose intervention did so much to influence the result in favour of the proposal to issue a Declaration, seems still more definite. 'It is important to declare the rights of man before drawing up the Constitution, because the Constitution is only an offspring, a consequence of the Declaration. This is a truth made evident to the example of America and of other peoples and by the discourse of the Archbishop of Bordeaux." This can be a reference neither to the Declaration of Independence, which was followed by no constitution, nor by the Constitution of the Union, which contained no enunciation of first principles. Barère, speaking in the session of August 21, in favour of the principle of eligibility of all citizens to public office, which was finally adopted as portion of Article VI of the Declaration, appealed to the example of the Americans who, by such provisions, in their Declarations of Rights, extirpated all aristocratic germs.'s On August 24, the

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1 We have already referred to this report. Cf. Moniteur, ii. 212.

2 Cf. ibid. 260.

* Ibid. 367.

Duc de la Rochefoucauld quoted Article 12 of the Virginia Bill of Rights in favour of the liberty of the press. Even the speeches of the opponents of a Declaration are evidence of the strength of the appeal to American example, as they are at considerable pains to insist on the different circumstances which prevail in the two countries. Crénière, who had ideas of his own as to what a Declaration of Rights ought to be, states that frequent references had been made to the American Declaration of Rights, but he himself is obviously of the opinion that it was not an example to be followed, as it did not proceed along the right lines.1

The testimony of Lafayette seems decisive. He was at that time one of the most influential if one of the most incompetent men in France. His intervention in the National Assembly on July 11, to introduce his project of a Declaration of Rights, was the first really important step in the history of this matter. A comparison with the final draft shows that there was hardly an idea adopted which he had not put forward. His assertion of popular sovereignty is almost word for word identical with Article III of the Declaration. His testimony is, therefore, of great weight, and as it draws attention to several aspects of our subject we may quote it almost in full2:

The era of the American revolution, which we may regard as the commencement of a new social order for the whole world, is, properly speaking, the era of the declarations of rights. We cannot dignify with this name those transactions forced on power where despotism and an aristocracy of nobles or of priests seem to be the principal condition of the social order and the rights of the people to be nothing more than a concession or an exception decreed by a minority which alone holds real power. The very name 'petition' as opposed to 'declaration,' the assertion of privilege enjoyed in the England of the past in contrast, as a general rule, with the constant appeal to the rights of the people, characteristic of the American tongue, would suffice to bear witness to the difference.

It was only after the beginning of the American era that there was any question of enunciating, independently of any previous state of affairs, those rights with which nature has endowed man, rights inherent in his existence, of which the entire society has no right to deprive him, such, for example, as that of worshipping the Deity after the manner he thinks fit. The declaration of rights ought thus to define those which belong essentially to the whole of society, and of which a member of this society or a portion of its members may not be deprived even by a majority of the nation. These are essentially the imprescriptible rights of man and of the citizen.

The declaration of independence of July 4, 1776, is above all a mani

1 Moniteur, i. p. 248.

• Memoirs, edited by the family of Lafayette, vol. ii. pp. 45-47.

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