16 OCTOBER 1847, Page 12

far the preceding letters I traced the course of Swiss

Federal politics, by a sequence of events one growing out of another, from the politico-religious movements prior to 1840 down to the present Diet and its votes respecting the Sonderbund. It is impossible even to comprehend, still less fairly to appreciate, the feelings and position of Switzerland at present, without going back to these previous circumstances. If the Sonderbund is to be charac- terized as an effect resulting from the expeditions of the Corps Francs, these expeditions resulted even more directly from the peculiar train of events which preceded them in 1843 and 1844. And it has been the more necessary to go briefly over these, because the actual condition of Switzer- land s usually presented in a totally erroneous point of view—as result- ing from the systematic efforts of the party called Radical to merge the Cantonal sovereignty in a Unitary government, and to oppress the Catholic religion. The invasions of the Corps Francs—the real wrong for which the Radicals of four Cantons round Lucerne are responsible—had their rise in neither of these dispositions. It seems, indeed, strange that the Radicals should be so often charged with preference for a Unitary govern- ment, since Radicalism, as such, could not possibly gain, and would in all probability lose, by the change: for it is certain that government has less weight as a substantive force apart from the people, and that the demagogic influences are more perpetually operative, in the separate Cantons, than they would be in the case of one concentrated system per- vading all Switzerland. If any one reads M. Tillier's valuable History of the Helvetic Republic down to the Act of Mediation in 1803—a time during which the comparative fitness of the Unitary and Cantonal systems of government was really under serious deliberation, which it never has been since—he will see that one of the objections urged by opponents of the Cantonal system was, that it opened so many easy and tempting mar- kets for demagogic speculation. Some particular Radical leaders might gain in importance by a Unitary government; but the greater number of

them would be personally losers—to say nothing of the feeling common to the population of every Canton, which puts all idea of Unitary government out of the question. Nor is the alleged hostility towards the Catholic re- ligion on the part of Radicals at all better founded. Hostility to the Jesuits is not hostility to the Catholic religion: still less was the act of suppressing the Argovian convents a proof of this latter feeling; for the real persons who have gained by that suppression are the Catholic ministers, Catholic schoolmasters, and Catholic parishioners of the Canton; while the means of inculcating the Catholic faith and duties are unquestionably strengthened and not weakened. The monks of Muri did not employ their property for any such purpose; though they were ready enough to assist politico-religious agitation, either in their own Canton or in others. The series of facts set forth in the preceding letters sufficiently shows that the two parties in the Federal quarrel are not distinguished from each other by systematic respect or disrespect for Cantonal independence. On the two matters of contention which have stood out most prominent—the suppres- sion of the Argovian convents and the maintenance of the Jesuits—the position of the two parties in respect to Cantonal rights has been reversed. On the first of the two, the Radicals were the upholders of Cantonal sove- reignty, which was then held very cheap by Lucerne and its allies; while on the second, Lucerne has pushed its separate rights to their extreme limits, (as may be seen from the language addressed to that Canton by the Conservative Cantonal Governments, nowise unfriendly to Lucerne,) against the Anti-Jesuit feeling enforcing a wide construction of the Pact. If Lucerne in 1842-1843 had been able to obtain a majority in the Diet for the unconditional restitution of the Argovian convents, and if Argau had re- fused to obey, the Cantons now forming the Sonderbund would have marched out their entire military force to execute it, at any cost of blood- shed: they would have left to Radicals all the talk about sanctity of Can- tonal rights. It snits their policy now to take stand upon unrestrained Cantonal omnipotence; but when we put 1843 and 1847 together, we may see plainly that this is no fixed line of distinction between the two parties.

That which runs through the Federal quarrels during the last seven or eight years is, not so much the disputed competence of Canton against Diet, as the struggle for ascendancy between the Catholic church and the political power. The success of the Catholic priestly agitators in the re- vision of the Lucerne constitution in 1840—their attempt, even by force, to accomplish a similar change in Solenre and Argau—the subsequent events oonnected with the Argovian convents, the Valais, and the Jesuits—all these are under one form or another the continuation of the struggle above mentioned, brought into prominent relief by the action of Lucerne both as Canton and as Vorort. That Canton has put itself at the head of the Ca- tholic Clerocracy (if we may venture to add one to this already numerous family of compound words) of Switzerland, working through Democratical forms, and adopting the Jesuits as the most effective of all trainers for a political priesthood; while on the other hand the party called Radical, in- cluding both Catholics and Protestants, throughout Switzerland, have been brought together by common antipathy to this movement—of which anti- pathy the great and perfectly natural manifestation has been, the protest against the introduction of Jesuits into Lucerne. We here discover the real pivot of Swiss Federal dissensions during the last few years; dis- sensions which have divided the country into two hostile camps, and have given to the proceedings of the Diet a positive and central cha- racter totally foreign to its habitual negation and impotence. Of course each Canton has had its own local parties and grounds of dissension, and with these the Federal politics have blended, often in predominant proportion. In Zurich, in Vaud, and in Geneva, the then existing Con- servative Governments were placed in a false position,—anti-Jesuit in theory and pro-Jesuit in vote,—which distinctly caused the overthrow of the two former, and mainly aided in that of the latter. Allowing for such separate Cantonal individualities, it is not the less true that the general cast of Swiss parties is as follows. I. The Clerocracy of Lucerne, working for the promotion of Catholic priestly ascendancy throughout Swit- zerland—ultra Democratical in constitutional forms, and leaning upon the veto or referendum as a means of nullifying the lay Representative Council. 2. The Radicals—bound together chiefly, if not entirely, by a strong com- mon antipathy to what may be termed the Lucerne policy. 3. The Conser- vatives, distinct from both—adverse to the Radicals, (who form their own immediate opponents,) and thrown by this circumstance into a sympathy with Lucerne, which does not always proceed from coincidence of views —now generally in opposition, except in Neufchatel and partially in Bale-Ville, having been elsewhere elbowed out by the stronger conten- tions between the two other parties. The conduct of Lucerne has indeed been such as to do much unintentional service to the Radicals its oppo- nents and much mischief to the Conservatives its supporters.

Such is the manner in which the contending parties no w stand opposed in Switzerland: the main antithesis is that beween lay-power and priest- power, each working through Democratical forms—the same line of parties, substantially, as that which now divides Belgium; and the powerful orga- nization of the Catholic church, pervading as it does so large a portion of the country, and applied as it has been systematically to convert political questions into religious, is in truth a much stronger restraint on Cantonal sovereignty than the feeble powers exercised by the Diet. The purely po- litical question, between privilege on the one side and the sovereignty of the people on the other, is one of subordinate moment in Switzerland. The former creed is not found convenient to proclaim anywhere as a party formula, even by those who regret the times anterior to 1830: either the Lands gemeinde, or universal suffrage with or without direct expression of the popular voice in veto or referendum, prevails everywhere; and the com- petition lies between the priest and the magistrate, which of the two shall influence that voice, or in what proportions it shall be divided between them. Throughout the Cantons of the Sonderbund, and amidst much of the Catholic population in the other Cantons, the larger share of such in- fluence is in the hands of the priest: in the Protestant Cantons, the sphere Of the latter is much more limited, in spite of a frequent disposition to ex- tend it by direct political preaching. The difference between popular government under Catholic priestly ascendancy and under lay ascend- ancy, is strikingly manifested in the fact, that in the Cantons of the Son- derbund there is at this moment no free expression of opinion on the part of the minority: not only is the Cantonal press under restraint, but even Liberal newspapers, published in other Cantons, are systematically refused admittance; while in the Radical Cantons, the Opposition press is as out- spoken as it is anywhere in Europe, and every one who chooses to de- trounce the Government or uphold the Sonderbund is at liberty to do so. new posubdigies. The preceding observations on the general cast of Swiss parties are not calculated to lighten our conception of the political dilemma in which that country is now placed. On the contrary, they bring to vi.nv forcibly the points of repugnance between one part of the Confederation and another, and the difficulty of maintaining that degree of harmony which is ab- solutely essential to the idea of a common " Vaterland,' recognized in words in the Federal Pact. The two hostile camps into which the country is now divided, and the tone of discussion hence arising, go to deprive this impressive German word not only of all hold upon the feelings but of all import and reality in argument.

If we assent to the claims and to the reasoning set up on behalf of the Sonderbund, we should be driven to pronounce the Pact entirely at an end—we should be driven to affirm that the majority of the Confederation have no right in any case whatever to bind the minority. The right of the Diet to condemn that league cannot be denied, except upon arguments which go to deny it in all and every case. It would be clear, even upon general reasoning simply, that the most essential purposes of the Pact would be frustrated if armed leagues among the separate Cantons were allowed to subsist. But this is a matter not left to inference; for the sixth article of the Pact expressly says—" No alliance prejudicial either to the general Confederacy or to the rights of other Cantons shall be formed by separate Cantons among themselves." Commentators on the Pact, such as Professor Stettler of Berne, (not a Radical writer,) distinctly read this clause as constituting the Sonderbund Anti-Federal; and it is hardly pos- sible to construe it otherwise. The Sonderbund do indeed contend—" Our league is necessary for self-defence; it is formed exclusively for purposes of defence, and is therefore not prejudicial either to the Confederacy or to any other Canton: of this we ourselves, as sovereign Cantons, are the only competent judges, and we deny the competence of the majority of the Diet to determine it for us." Here the point at issue is distinctly raised, " Have the majority of the Diet competence to determine whether a particular league formed comes under the general description of league forbidden by the Pact? in other words, have they the right to apply the general pro- visions of the Pact to a particular case? Or has every separate Canton a right to determine this for itself ?" To concede this latter point, would be to extinguish altogether the practical obligation of the Pact. Commenta- tors upon the Pact always reason upon it as an instrument according to which each Canton has voluntarily renounced a certain definite portion of its independent sovereignty, and in which the majority of the Diet have a right judicially to construe its provisions and apply them to particular cases, but no right to enlarge or modify them; such judicial decision being binding on the minority. Unless we grant this, the whole business of voting at the Diet, and of distinguishing between Cantons of half vote and Cantons of whole vote, would be an absurdity: indeed, the Sonderbund themselves grant it, in cases where they are the parties complaining and not the parties to be bound. During the past session of the Diet, and at the very time when the Sonderbund formally refused to obey its resolution, the Deputy of Friburg preferred complaints to it against the Government of Vaud, for having laid undue taxes upon the properties in that Canton belonging to the Abbey of St. Bernard: the case was one much less clear, in respect to contravention of the Pact, than the very existence cf the Sonderbund itself: but whether clear or not, the Deputy of Vaud would have had a ready answer, if he in his turn had denied the competence of the majority to construe the Pact judicially, and had claimed for his Canton the right of separate and independent interpretation.

To deny the right of judicial construction in the majority when it goes against you, and to invoke it when it makes in your favour, is an in- consistency not at all likely to be tolerated. And the more we look at the resistance of the Sonderbund to the Diet, combined with the arguments whereby it is defended, the more shall we be satisfied that it amounts to nothing less than a suspension of the Pact in practice as well as in theory. If a French or an Austrian army were at this moment to cross the frontier, it is certain that they would meet with no unanimous resistance, even if they were not hailed as positive allies, by the Cantons of the Sonderbund. The continuance of that separate armed league is plainly incompatible with the continuance of the Pact as something real, vital, and operative. Lu- cerne cannot be Vorort of the Confederation, and at the same time chief of a Catholic Sonderbund.

How the majority of the Diet will deal with this grave and critical con- juncture—how they will construe their Federal rights, and what degree of wisdom or moderation they will show in exercising them—we shall see when they reassemble on the 18th of this month. If we were to judge by the recent manifestations on both sides, we should conclude that the me- lancholy contingency of a civil war was all but inevitable. Berne, Zurich, and Vaud, the three most populous Cantons in the Confederation, have placed themselves in a complete state of military readiness; while the Landsgemeinden in Sehwytz, Uri, and Zug, have also passed the strongest resolution of resisting force by force; and arms have been transmitted to the Sonderbund both by France and Austria. It will be seen after the 18th—first, whether all the Cantons of the majority concur in sanctioning measures of forcible execution, in case pacific tentatives fail; next, whether the population of all or most Of these Cantons heartily espouses the cause; thirdly, what species of compromise they are disposed to offer or accept, as a means of avoiding war. On none of these points can we safely venture to indulge predictions at present. If the Cantons of the majority, with their population, are all unanimous, and most of them really earnest in the cause, there can be no reasonable doubt (looking at the question merely as one of military superiority,) that they could take Lucerne and Friburg, in the latter of which there is already a discontented and compressed minority,: the force and agency of the Sonderbund resides in these two Cantons. But this alone will be very far from accomplishing what is really desired— the renovation of a Pact which has been practically set aside, and of as extinct brotherhood. The population of the recusant Cantons, instead of being conciliated, would be still farther alienated no man supposes that they could be permanently constrained by force, or hindered from renoun- cing the Confederation, should such be their confirmed wish; and in such case the separation would only become formal and avowed, without any maintenance of the Pact even in name. Mere superiority of force, mai- ming it to be ever so complete, lands us only in this untoward result.

We may, however, spare ourselves the trouble of speculating at present on a subject so melancholy as well as so perplexing: for a civil war would be sure to throw up contingencies such as no man can foresee—not to


tion the chance of foreign intervention, which opens the door to a host of The present majority of the Cantons has on its hands a grave and re- sponsible task. They are now in a state of positive and intimate coopera- tion altogether unusual in Switzerland, which it is deeply to be wished that they may have the wisdom to preserve, resisting that spirit of Cantonal egoism which has hitherto constituted the chronic malady of the country. They possess by far the larger portion of the wealth, the intelligence, the industry, and the population, of Switzerland: all the progressive elements in the country, and all its means of future permanent union, reside with them. The Sonderbund may break up the Confederation, but cannot possibly guide or hold it together: all its tendencies are those of discord and disintegration-setting Cantonal individuality against Confederate bro- therhood, Protestant against Catholic, one half of the Catholic world against the other half, priest against layman, and the dictation of religions preaching against the liberty of political discussion. That M. Guizot or Prince Metternich, who have every interest in the disunion of Switzerland, should patronize the Sonderbund, is extremely intelligible: that this sen- timent should also be shared by those who desire to see Swiss nationality maintained, at least at such a pitch of efficiency as will defend the integ- rity of the territory, is more extraordinary, and has its source probably in an undistingnishing aversion to Radicalism. Even if, by some fortunate compromise, the present quarrel were appeased, it would still be an indis- pensable condition of future unity that the government of Lucerne should desist from its Ultramontane and aggressive policy, and from acting as the champion of the political aggrandizement of the Catholic Church through- out Switzerland: if such policy were renewed, the same antipathies and excitement would again be roused throughout the Confederacy.

It deserves to be remarked, that the Diet at its last meeting passed a pe- remptory resolution against the Sonderbund, but only a modified resolu- tion against the Jesuits-inviting each Canton to dismiss them, but not putting forth the language of command. This, in point of fact, is no more than what has been expressed as a wish even by the Conservatives. We may infer from such difference of language that the majority of the Diet is not likely to be unanimous in insisting upon the worst part of its case- the expulsion of the Jesuits from Schwytz, Friburg, and Valais. If this shall be publicly declared, it will be a material step towards narrowing the ground of contention, and depriving the Sonderbund of its common motive for resistance. And it seems not wholly impossible that the present excel- lent Pope might think the motive of restoring peace in Switzerland suffi- cient to warrant his interference, and might enjoin the Jesuits to withdraw from Lucerne. In the present excited state of the country, however, with the party manceuvres of an active Opposition in each separate Canton, and with the taunts thrown out against the majority that they are afraid to execute their own resolutions-no man can reckon on the dispositions ne- cessary to a moderate compromise on both sides: not to mention the chance of some accidental collision on the borders of Friburg or Lucerne, which might produce a state of ungovernable exasperation, and destroy all chance of adjustment.

There is so much of all that constitutes both the good man and the good citizen distributed throughout Switzerland, that the present dissensions which agitate that country cannot but inspire a profound and anxious interest. In- dustry, forethought, self-supporting energy, and reciprocal dispositions to neighbourly help, pervade a larger portion of the population than perhaps in any other country of Europe: of the spontaneous tendency to order which prevails there with the minimum of police agency, a striking proof is afforded by the fact that there were no food riots in any part of the country through- out the last winter and spring, though the distress was of the severest kind, the price of bread in some parts even higher than in London, and the necessity for extraordinary private aid unexampled. Of none of the neighbouring countries can the same thing be said: in France, Germany, Italy, even in England, such riots were but too notorious. Political revolu- tions have undoubtedly been frequent in Switzerland: but these revolutions have rarely been attended with any loss at all either of life or property; and never in any case, except Lucerne and the Valais, have they produced any harshness, or cruelty, or multiplied exiles. Proprietary rights have never been disturbed, and are especially protected by the fact that property in land is widely disseminated among the people. In most of the Can- tons, the small or Executive Council addresses every year to the Great Council a report of its annual administration, and the series of these re- ports forms a record of the internal government of the Canton. If we follow that series for the larger Cantons, such as Berne, Zurich, St. Gallen, Soleure, &c., we trace proofs of an improving and corrective administration, and the greatest pains taken to turn limited powers to the best account. In particular, we observe gradual and systematic amelioration in the manage- ment of the Communes, resulting from increased activity of Cantonal superintendence: the Commune is the unit of Swiss social life, and its common funds as well as its common obligations are of the most essential importance to the comfort of the citizen; both the one and the other have been subjected to good rules, and rescued from neglect and jobbing, without at all extinguishing the principle of distinct Communal management. The two grand items of expense which figure in the budget of a Swiss Canton, are the roads and education: the sums which have been bestowed on both these purposes since the changes of 1831 have been immense, re- latively to the total means of the Cantons. The habit of borrowing money on the security of Cantonal or Communal credit has happily obtained little footing in Switzerland: far from being disposed to spare themselves by throwing burdens on successors, the Swiss think it necessary to get toge- ther and keep together a capital which shall produce interest-a school- fund or poor-fund-so that the weight of annual taxation for the purpose may be lightened: the actual generation imposes burdens upon itself greater than those which will be borne by the succeeding. Elementary education is nearly universal; and in many Cantons, the public sentiment, even among the poor population, sustains the principle of making it com- pulsory. The dark side of the picture presents itself in increasing pauper- ism, as in so many other countries of Europe: the poor families multiply but too fast, and a proletary population appears to be augmenting in the manufacturing Cantons; and this is unfortunately an evil which, when once established, contains in itself a principle of contagion spreading more and more. The indirect taxes, from which a large proportion of the Cantonal revenues are derived, have tended everywhere to become more and more productive: but it seems that the difficulties by which Swiss manufactures are surrounded in respect of sale of their products, by the restrictive systems of other nations, are found almost insuperable even by present capitalists, and are at least likely to check further increase. In many of the Cantons much has been done since 1830 to improve the se-

curity and facility of the relation of lender and borrower on landed security: by means of cheap and authentic registration of mortgages and sales, and in some cases even by a formal cadastre of the territory. It is only since 1831 that any general habit of canvassing public affairs has obtained among the people: before that period, neither the proceedings of the Great Connell nor even the Cantonal budgets were in general published. This new activity of public life, and strong attachment to the theory as well as the practice of popular government, has produced its full crop of political dis- sension; but it has at the same time awakened a zeal for turning the powers of government to profitable public account, and a sensibility to the exposure of wrong or abuse, which have already manifested themselves in a thousand beneficial ways, and which present every chance of improve- ment in the future.

The Cantons of the Sonderbund are in every respect the stationary and backward portions of the Confederacy. It would be unjust and unreason- able to disturb their population in a state of things suitable to their feel- ings; but there will be the deepest reason for regret, if the preservation of that which they cherish is found, through the intrigues of their partisan Vorort, to break up the union, arrest the progress, or endanger the inde- pendence of the larger and more improving Cantons. Whether such shall be the case or not, the intelligence of the next two or three months, so fall of anxious anticipation, will reveal.