Mr. Grote’s Theory Of Democracy -- By: Francis A. Walker

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 025:100 (Oct 1868)
Article: Mr. Grote’s Theory Of Democracy
Author: Francis A. Walker


Mr. Grote’s Theory Of Democracy

Francis A. Walker

The world has lost its taste for a priori politics. The discussion of metaphysic rights, which acquired an overwhelming interest through the French and American revolutions, has fallen rapidly off under the dull or painful reactions of the present century. A stern and practical inquiry into the workings of government, the capacities of representation, the prevention of crime, the safeguards of official purity, has taken the place of those high reasonings which sought the ideal perfection of the state, or claimed the prerogatives of an impossible freedom. The latest election at Melbourne and the police-returns of the metropolis have more interest to the student of political science than all the speculations of all the philosophers. Hobbes and Jefferson, Rousseau and Sir Thomas More, Harrington and Filmer have given way to patient thinkers, who ponder the ways of men, pore over the daily records of events, and, humbly acknowledging the omnipotence of fact, strive to deduce a practical wisdom for the conduct of the nations. The thought of the present age directs its efforts to reach the true conditions of a peaceful and liberal administration of law and revenue.

Such a philosophy need not be blind to lofty ends while pursuing the low and devious means. It walks its humble, winding way by the high, pure light of heaven; but it no longer seeks to climb those serene spaces. It is content to tread on earth. Reject with never so much indignation the pitiful materialistic politics; hold at never so high a price the dignity of man; have faith still in a good time coming, and in glorious days of liberty, equality, and fraternity that shall surely be; but stand fast by the best-proved systems of distributing poor-relief and determining appeals at law.

The era of revolution is past. Men will yet rise upon their oppressors; the public body will be convulsed with faction, and discontent will culminate, as heretofore, in rebellion. But insurrection, as a means of advancing freedom among the nations, will no longer find any considerable sympathy among intelligent philanthropists or patriots capable of self-control. The attitude of the world to-day is in striking contrast to that of 1789, and even that of 1848. Then the mutterings of revolution were listened to as the whisperings of hope. Every people that rose in arms were believed to be regenerate; and the determination to be free was accepted as the fruition of freedom. That a nation should turn upon its tyrants, or discard an hereditary sovereign, was welcomed by all liberal-hearted men as an intrinsic good. It was cowardice or coldness or outright sympathy with absolutism — vile choice!—that kept any one from rejoi...

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