20 APRIL 1850, Page 15


LAING'S NOTES ON THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL STATE OF THE CONTINENT IN 1848 AND 1849.* Tins work is designed as a continuation of the author's Notes of a Traveller; and perhaps it betrays somewhat of the inferiority which is said to attend upon continuations. This in part arises from the difficulty of satisfying expectation, in part from the book's being more of a series of disquisitions than its predecessor. The first volume of the Notes was not indeed a book of travels, perhaps had not many (if any) more sketches of travels than the volume before us ; but the conclusions seemed less foregone. They looked like results impressed from immediate observation ; the present series mere resembles essays wrought out by meditation, and in which the general "likes and dislikes of the writer may have heightened the colour of his views, over and above that bias which we all receive from nature and education.

In essential character the Observations on the Social and Politi- cal State of the European People in 1848 and 1849 does not very greatly differ from Mr. lay's book, which we noticed last week. Each is the result ot travelling observation with a view to com- pare the state of the Continent with that of Great Britain, and each. selects certain social or political subjects for examination and exposition, only using travelling pictures incidentally, and no further than may be necessary to enforce conclusions. This re- semblance in general plan does not extend to the execution. Mr. Laing is the more shrewd and sensible man, the keener and more experienced observer ; there is greater depth, breadth, and practi- cal truth about his observations. He entertains strong prejudices against some phases of Continental life, quite as strong as Mr. Kay's in favour of the foreigner ; but his prejudices are befter- founded ; or rather, they are only prejudices in the extent to which he carries them. Mr. Iaing's book, too, is original, not greatly made up of extracts. The Continental convulsions of 1848 and 1849 have been the prompting causes of this volume. Mr. Laing sees three or four great distinctions between the social condition of this country and that of Continental Europe; and he thinks he perceives in the state of society on the Continent germs of future dissatisfaction and revolutions' till matters are placed upon a better footing ; though how that is to be attained he does not know, and thinks few of us will live to learn. The conditions which lead to this misgiving in his mind are peasant proprietors and the oonsequent absence of a territorial gentry or aristocracy ; the system of what he calls functionarism; and the lan.dwehr, though -this last is more applicable to Germany than to Prance. ma book is devoted to a description of these conditions, and to a thorough examination of their effects, both in themselves and in comparison with matters at home. A variety of collateral circumstances are also handled in connexion with these leading subjects, especially the German system of education, and :esthetic training and accomplishments. According to Mr. Laing, the subdivision of the soil and the es- tablishment of peasant proprietors have a mixed effect. The direct economical workings are all beneficial. The land is better eulti- 'Wad by the small proprietor than by the great tenant-capitalist. The produce is not only larger, but the natural qualities of the soil are more quickly and steadily improved. The proprietor is raised to a higher position morally and socially, as well as placed in a con- dition of greater physical comfort than the labouring peasant. The sense of proprietorship and its responsibilities also act as a "pre- 'ventive cb.eck " : marriages are later, less rashly engaged in. The indirect effects are not so advantageous. As every family has a small competence but nothing more, there is no variety of con- ditions in the country, and not much in the towns. All the differ- ent kinds of comforts, and it may be said of styles of famishing and living, that are found in England, have no place in a country of peasant proprietors. They want taste, scholarship, learning, -lite- rature, either original or second-hand. As a consequence, the manufactures and home trade of such countries are next to nottl Enormous as is the foreign trade of Great Britain, her home is still greater. Almost every one in this country buys the articles -he wants : the peasant proprietor makes them himself, going without many, making the others badly. The results of this state of things would seem to be less economically advantageous than Mr. -Laing his affirmed, at least in the long run. Although the farms are not, as yet, mischievously subdivided, this evil is only avoided by one of the sons buying up the shares of his breth- ren on his father's death. To do this, he borrows ; and there is a heavily growing mortgage-debt over the lands, which in time may absorb them. Neither is any career (except the army) open to the sons of a family. The little farm will not find them occupation; they have not the outlet that manufactures, town handicrafts or the various employments under the wealthy, furnish in this coun- try-. According to circumstances, they become small place-hunters .tmder " funetionarism," or prompt revolutionists, or a " war " class; anything to turn a penny. "The general distribution of landed property in small estates is attended by another social disadvantage. It throws loose upon a country a vast pro- 'portion of the population, clamorous for war, fit only for military service, and to whom -war is a necessity, for war only can give them suitable read 'beneficial employment. This, I am aware, is a very different conclusion from that to which Mr. Cobden and many other able and philanthropic observers, Members of the Peace Congress, have come to, on the same subject. * * •

• Observations on the Social and Political State of the European People in 1848 and 1849: being the Second Series of the Notes of a Traveller. By Samuel Laing, Esq., Author of "A Journal of a Itesidence in Norway," &c. Published by Long-

man end 0o. "Military conscription is not an evil, not even a hardship, in a society in this state. The great body of landed proprietors, living each family an its own little farm, employing little manufacturing industry beyond its own fireside, buying little, and laming little to buy with, can give no employment to each other, or to the idle and unprovided-for in the social body, as pro- ducers and consumers, in time of peace any more than in time of war. There is no market in this social state for the products of the common peaceful arts, no employments to absorb the increase of population. War is a necessary se- quence of the semi state of those countries in which landed property is generally and almost equally distributed—war abroad, or tumult and revo- lution at home. This is clearly shown in Switzerland. The Swiss youth are scattered over Europe and America in various temporary employments, as servants, small traders, innkeepers, adventurers ; and, tempt tho Jews, no people are so generally dispersed over the civilized world as the Swiss. Switzerland manufactures also, to no inconsiderable extent, for foreign mar- kets. Yet, with all those outlets and employments for her youth, Switzer- land furnishes regiments, entirely of Swiss young men, to Naples, Rome, and other Italian states, and keeps, in reality, n very large standing army in rtioa to her population always on foot, but always in foreign pay. service is so suitable and congenial to the aociaf state of her popu- lation of small landholders, that the ranks of these regiments, althotigh servingribroad, are always replenished with ease ; and there remains always a surplus of unquiet spirits at home, ready, from want of other employment, to engage in tumult and war when the Cantons quarrel among themselves or

with the Federal Government. • * * "This prodigious development of an element of warfare in the new social state of Europe, may well make the observer of the spirit of our times pause before he admits its advantages, or assents to Mr. Cobden's conclusion that universal and perpetual peace is a necessary result of an universal diffusion of landed property. A more warlike conetruotion of society could scarcely be devised than one which keeps all the agricultural youth of the country mobile and independent of steady employment for their future subsistence, and renders military service the most desirable occupation they can adopt, and the most consistent with their ultimate position in life."

But if peasant proprietors are a doubtful good, there is no doubt about what Mr. Laing calls "functionalism," and many people bureaucracy, or the government of olerks. In an historical resume, Mr. Laing traces the downfall of the Continental aristocracy as tt really territorial body, and the efforts on the part of the Government —sometimes of necessity, sometimes of policy—to set up a class of fundtionaries as a substitute for a gentry and middle class--0. sort of something between the government and the governed. Wherever it has been tried it has failed. Besides its small

y, its corruption, and its economical evils, it has not answered

tyranny, of despotic selfishness. This class has always be- trayed its paymasters, or rather has stuok by the pay-chest who- ever got hold of it. Mr. Taing enters upon this subject at great length. We must confine ourselves to a few passages which will innicate the scope of his argument. "In France, although the functionary system was not necessary, as in Prussia, to give a semblance of nationality to unconnected masses of popu- lation, for the French people have long been nationalized, it was considered necessary as a means of givingsstability to the power of each succeeding ru- ler, from Napoleon the Emperor to his nephew the President. The social state which had sprung up from the ashes of the Revolution, afforded no other element between the governing and the governed but what Government created. Functionarism was intended to be a barrier in France against the physical force of the people—a middle class with social influence exerted always in favour of the ruling power. The general movement in 1848, in every country, governed by this bureaucracy, for obtaining Civil freedom, liberal constitutions, and emancipation from the functionary system, proves that this is not the true intermediate element required in the new social state into which Europe has entered. In countries which had constitutional governments or representative assemblies—as Baden, Wurtemberg, Home— the movement in 1848-1849 was not less violent than in the most auto- cratically governed states. The restrictions on civil liberty—the functionary 'system, created for and upheld by those oppressive and use ess restrictions on freedom of action on private lift, an civil liberty—were a grievance which political liberty, the forms of a free constitution, had not redressed and ne- ver would redress, as the representatives of the people in those mock par- liaments were either functionaries themselves or under functionary in- fluences. Functionarism gave way under the feet of the sovereigns who had built it up and trusted to it as the support of their thrones. It betrayed Bonaparte ; it deserted Louis Philippe. The functionaries had no influenee with the people. They are justly considered as dependent pensioners, living upon the public for the performance of functions only created for their sup- port, and in themselves useless, oppressive, and burdensome. * * * "The vexatious interference and intrusion of functionarism into the do- mestic affairs and arrangements of individuals by the landwehr system, the -educational system, the passport system, the class taxes, the licences to trade or exercise any handicraft, have reduced civil liberty, or the freedom of the individual to act on his own judgment in his own affairs, to as low a pitch as in the middle ages. The movement in Germany in 1848 was, as far as the people were concerned in it, to get rid_ of this oppression_. A constitutional government or parliament in the smaller German states had not the power to shake it off; but a united central parliament for all Germany would be beyond and above the influences which in a small state perpetuate abuses once established. 'Phis was the main benefit to be expected from a united Ge "In the dreary seven years of German history from the peace of Tilsit in 1807 to the expulsion of the French in 1814, the functionary class had not proved themselves so faithful to the Governments by which they were ap- pointed as to deserve the extension and importance which the Continental Sovereigns gave them after the settlement of Europe in 1816. In West- phalia, in Prussia itself, and in all the countries of Germany occupied by the French, the established functionaries in every district and department of public affairs became the willing inotrumento in the hands of the French, of the most grievous erections, oontributions, and oppressions, which, without their assistance and organization, could not have been carried into effect by the French commissaries. The chiefs only 'of a few departments had to be removed, or rather had to report to and act under a French functionary ; but almost all the effective machinery of functionarism remained, every man sticking to office, and quite as effective for the enemy as he had been far the sovereign of the country. No feeling of honour, obligation, or duty to the former sovereign, no maid for previous oaths of allegiance, appear to have stood in the way of the German functionaries in continuing to hold their offices and to serve under King Jerome, or whoever was appointed by France to the emolument that could be squeezed out of the conquered German ter- ritories. This Beamptenstand or functionary class wants the moral dignity of character which has influence with a people in times of social trouble, and are a dangerous machinery, not only .ready to Millet misgovernment and oppression on the country, but ready to support any hero of the hone, lattthe state that appointed there, who has the good fortune to get hbld reins of government at the point in which they are centralized. It is an element in the social state as dangerous to the sovereign as it is op- pressive and burdensome to the people. Louis Philippe was deposed and set aside as easily and quietly az any chef de bureau. lie was but a chef do bureau to his people, who knew only functionaries of some bureau or other as the leading class, and to his functionaries who knew no other motive of action than promotion in their several departments by subservienoy.to their Immediate chiefs. Yet functionarism is the only element which has arisen in the new social state of Europe as the intermediate power- between the governing and the governed. It is evidently not the true element. In a monarchical government it serves neither king nor people, and it is danger- ous to the liberty of the more democraticaLstates."

Mr. Laing is equally opposed to the landwehr system' or the plan, by whatever name it may be called, of compelled service in the army for a certain time, and afterwards till a certain age in the militia ; and we think on much better grounds than Mr. lay's panegyric of the system. Mr. Laing examines it on eco- nomical, ilitary, and moral grounds; arguing its inutility on them all. But we will only take the moral, as a counterpart to Mr. Tray's picture in rose-colour. " The demoralization of the youth of a nation by three years' service in the ranks of a regiment of the line is one of the greatest evils of the system. Soldiers are not necessarily imMoralmeM; but the enlisted soldier' ehgaged for life or for a long term of years, isirenerally a man whose character and ' conduct have ejected him from the ordinary occupations of -civil life. His habits of industry and Of steady application to the usual business of the middle or the lower classes am gone. Lk is demoralized in all that makes the awful, quiet, respectable citizen. ' He is too often a man given to de- bauchery and owes, when it does not interfere with his military. duty ; and if he is a clean, smart, well-drilled soldier, he. is looked up to by his com- rades, and perhaps the more when-with ttlese professional accomplishments he sots at defiance the principles and deeeneteS of civil life in his conduct and conversation. Think of a father and mother,- in some country village, who have brought up a son in moral and religious habits in innocence of evil, and in ideas suitable -to their station and to the haunt& trade he is to live by, being compelled to send him for three yeanrat Ins outset. in life to join a regiment of the line* a large dissipated- oity,like Berliner Cologne, and to associate with such companions. The moral tyranny of the system exceeds what was'ever exercised before by any European Government, and may well exeuim the diseoutent of the Pnissian subjects. To eradicate the sentiment of independeneet aniraelf-aotiOn in the whole population, to keep them always in .a.aemi-ritilitary dependemaann civil and military-function- aries as a security to the Crown, liaa,eyidentky been the policy proposed to themselves by the German arovemmeptt ip.„their civil and military esta- blishmenti of functionarism "and /andwehr: They have overshot the Mark.

▪ * • * These Govermuents have mmcd and disci lined the people, have

made them equal to thetroops-of r the line -Mao disregard 'Of bloodshed and tumult, and in tho:edniidolice and tire means of success in civil wan The have not been trained to regard:poems:order, and secerit , as interests confided to them aulin their keeping., ..51e ,.baton of the civil constable is the emblem of the social condition anslgiyilization ot.the English pe,ople. On the tontinent;ifis the loaded field-pieee pointed down the streets. By the military training of the people --yrithoiligiving them civil liberty and , political rights, the autocratic govennients ve disarmed themaelves, have lost the preponderance and. prestige °fan irresistible standing arrow at their command at all times, which was essential to their existence. The land- wehr system, it was boasted, makes the.wheknatioo an army. True but where is the army that can keep down- this army, .when Just complaints of grievous misgovernment, M. the enthuidasin for false objects, to which the German mind is prone, rouse this military. mires against their autocratic

rulers?' , • . _ .

The most salient points of Mr.: Laing's Notes have been merely touched upon in this notice. They are' penned by him in. great detail, and copiously illustrated by sketches of the state of society. on the Continent, and by reference to cognate or opposite matterst here. Various subordinate or collateral topics are also handled, which bear upon the moral, mental, social, or economical condition and prospects of Great Britain or Western Europe ; and towards the end of the volume several miscellaneous matters are treated, and more of:travelling sketches -introduced. Something of pre-

judices " truiy 'British will lie; found in the volume; . but the work is throughout that of a hardheaded, wide-awake, worldly- experienced man, who thinks racily and expresses himself in a corresponding style.