In palace revolutions—in which sometimes two or three persons only take part—is the will of the masses transferred to a new person? In international relations, is the will of the masses of the people transferred to their conqueror? In 1808 was the will of the Rhine Alliance league transferred to Napoleon? Was the will of the mass of the Russian people transferred to Napoleon in 1809, when our army in alliance with the French made war upon Austria?

These questions may be answered in three ways: (1) By maintaining that the will of the masses is always unconditionally delegated over to that ruler or those rulers whom they have chosen, and that consequently every rising up of new power, every struggle against the power once delegated, must be regarded as a contravention of the real power.

Or (2) by maintaining that the will of the masses is delegated to the rulers, under certain definite conditions, and by showing that all restrictions on, conflicts with, and even abolition of power are due to non-observance of the rulers of those conditions upon which power was delegated to them.

Or (3) by maintaining that the will of the masses is delegated to the rulers conditionally, but that the conditions are uncertain and undefined, and that the rising up of several authorities, and their conflict and fall, are due only to the more or less complete fulfilment of the rulers of the uncertain conditions upon which the will of the masses is transferred from one set of persons to another.

In these three ways do historians explain the relation of the masses to their rulers.

Some historians—those most distinctively biographers and writers of memoirs, of whom we have spoken above—failing in the simplicity of their hearts to understand the question as to the meaning of power, seem to believe that the combined will of the masses is delegated to historical leaders unconditionally, and therefore, describing any such authority, these historians assume that that authority is the one absolute and real one, and that every other force, opposing that real authority, is not authority, but a violation of authority, and unlawful violence.

Their theory fits in well with primitive and peaceful periods of history; but in its application to complicated and stormy periods in the life of nations, when several different authorities rise up simultaneously and struggle together, the inconvenience arises that the legitimist historian will assert that the National Assembly, the Directorate, and Bonaparte were only violations of real authority; while the Republican and the Bonapartist will maintain, one that the Republic, and the other that the Empire were the real authority, and that all the rest was a violation of authority. It is evident that the explanations given by these historians being mutually contradictory, can satisfy none but children of the tenderest age.

Recognising the deceptiveness of this view of history, another class of historians assert that authority rests on the conditional delegation of the combined will of the masses to their rulers, and that historical leaders possess power only on condition of carrying out the programme which the will of the people has by tacit consent dictated to them. But what this programme consists of, those historians do not tell us, or if they do, they continually contradict one another.

In accordance with his view of what constitutes the goal of the movements of a people, each historian conceives of this programme, as, for instance, the greatness, the wealth, the freedom, or the enlightenment of the citizens of France or some other kingdom. But putting aside the contradictions between historians as to the nature of such a programme, and even supposing that one general programme to exist for all, the facts of history almost always contradict this theory.

If the conditions on which power is vested in rulers are to be found in the wealth, freedom, and enlightenment of the people, how is it that kings like Louis XIV. and John IV. lived out their reigns in peace, while kings like Louis XVI. and Charles I. were put to death by their peoples? To this question these historians reply, that the effect of the actions of Louis XIV. contrary to the programme were reacted upon Louis XVI. But why not reflected on Louis XIV. and Louis XV.? Why precisely on Louis XVI.? And what limit is there to such reflection? To these questions there is and can be no reply. Nor does this view explain

  By PanEris using Melati.

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