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as old as 1815. To pay it therefore, in Interest or Principal, we do not want an Income, but an Old Property Tax. To omit the Debt, is to omit the only thing of importance : for if we were free from it, even the Colonial Empire would not weigh heavy upon us, nor all the countless wastefulness of our administration: nor should we hear complaints from our patient commercial and professional classes.
Moreover his second assumption is grossly untrue. The cost of protecting property is not at all in any fixed ratio to its annual value; nor has any one ever imagined this : but the reason for taxing people in that proportion has been for their presumed ability to bear it. Mr. Babbage says that a man may then “justly complain that he is taxed for being richer than another :” we reply, not justly. It is prima facie right that he should be taxed more because he is richer; although that is rendered obviously inexpedient where it would discourage self-denial and industry. The presumption that a man's ability to pay taxes increases in at least as high a ratio as his absolute wealth, appears to us a much closer approximation to truth, than that which asserts the cost of protecting property to follow that ratio.
Mr. Babbage's theory supposes each individual of a nation to be so isolated from the rest as to have no presumable interest in their welfare. Each, it seems, is to pay a sort of insurance on his own property, and his own only. Accordingly, any one who chose to decline the insurance and take the risk, ought to be at liberty to do so. This would be carrying the Voluntary Principle farther than has hitherto been proposed. Many have said that protection of person and property is the sole duty of government : Mr. Babbage however puts the person out of the question by a strangely satirical argument, (viz., that the magistrates and the legislature, when a poor man is erroneously imprisoned or transported, do not rate his loss very high !) and resolves the protection of property into so individual a thing, that each man's property is to be protected at his own cost. But society has great moral interests: all are concerned that all should be protected; the rich are interested in not allowing any class to be ground down by taxation, and this is of greater importance than Mr. Babbage's proposed Law, of which nothing practical, it seems to us, can be made, in respect to the general government.
On the other hand, the more the taxation can be thrown off from the general government on to localities, the better; because it strengthens political vitality, adds to the cheerfulness of contributions, and prevents times of Reform from producing dangerous excitement. This is certainly one application of Mr. Babbage's principle, to which no one can object : but local taxation has been guided by a better instinct than his in apportioning its burden. For the support of the poor, of the highways, of the police, the rates are levied, not according to men's total wealth, but according to the expensiveness of their dwelling. This is indeed sometimes oppressive,-as when the same house is at once the dwelling and the place of business, especially with shopkeepers in a spot where ground-rent is high; in which case the rates are a tax on the gross outgoings, not on the net expenditure. But when levied on what is strictly a dwelling-house, the tax appears as unobjectionable as any possible. Each man has to judge for himself at what rate he can prudently live; and to this sum the impost bears a pretty near approximation,-as it ought. Whatever is laid by goes to swell the permanent capital of the country, and will in due time be subjected to full demands. If our debt were disposed of, a judicious House Tax would well supersede all other Direct Taxation, except that on Building Land, which ought to be unsparingly heavy. Yet the aristocracy so managed that Peers’ villas used often to pay less housetax than Dolly's chophouse; so resolute are they not to touch our burdens with their little fingers.
But we have little heart to reason about any details, or any but the broadest principles, where it is certain that nothing will be done till our legislative machinery is remade, and men unshackled to precedent hold the helm of State. Let us hope that that may come speedily, and before the fate of France overtakes us.
Art. IV.–REFORMATION FROM WITHIN OR
FROM WITHOUT? D'AUBIGNE, RANKE, AND
1. History of the Great Reformation of the Sixteenth Cen
tury in Germany and Switzerland, &c. By J. H.
Merle D’Aubigné. Second Edition, 1840. 2. History of the Reformation in Germany. By Leopold
Ranke. Second Edition. Translated by Sarah Aus
tin. 1845. . 3. The Reformation in Europe. By Cesare Cantù. Trans
lated by Fortunato Prandi. Vol. I. 1847.
If the epoch of the Reformation produced a Luther, an Erasmus and a Contarini, we need not be surprised to meet in a subsequent era, among the historians of that Reformation, with a D’Aubigné, a Ranke, and a Cesare Cantù.
Nature seems to have cast the power of action and of judgment in man, into a few types, which are for ever reproducing themselves. Omniscience alone can discern the absolute right, and the absolute true: man is only capable of various degrees and modes of approximation. Setting aside the bigot of attack and the bigot of defence, the modes of approximation to the true and right in any cases of necessary change can never greatly vary from these three; the strong desire of change from without, partaking of the nature of attack; the moderate desire of change from within, partaking of the nature of defence; and the neutral, or critical position, different alike from the conservative and the antagonistic, and which, justifying the whole of neither, sympathizes though unequally with portions of both.
In respect of the ecclesiastical Reformation of the 16th century, and the chief actors in the promotion of the changes, which ensued both within and without the Catholic Church, Luther and Calvin may be obviously placed in the first of these divisions, Contarini and Valdez in the second, and (less distinctly) Erasmus and Melancthon in the third. The same variations of sentiment, which
marked the men who acted in those scenes, characterise also the men who now judge and write of them. The historians whose names we have placed above, afford a tolerably accurate indication of this. M. D'Aubigné is the reformer from without, full of undoubting antagonism. He is indeed in the happiest of human positions, the position of clearness and certainty. No clouds gather round his head, or if they do, they are quickly dispersed : no Babel of tongues assails him, without presently breaking up into a family of harmonious and intelligible languages. He stands like poor (Edipus of old, and like human nature so often now, at a place where three roads meet, but there is no riddle in store for him. To the blear eyes of others no help is at hand, but M. D’Aubigné has scarce turned himself round, when behold, to his penetrating vision there appears a sign-post, with three welcome fingers, neatly inscribed with these plain directions : this is the way to the truth, and those you should love; this to the devil and those you should hate; and this is the way to the place you came from. Nothing is more lucid than M. D’Aubigné's judgments: he waves the sheep and the goats to their respective sides with the hand of a master. Luther is everything one could wish: the Pope all that is undesirable. The Reformation was the pure light of heaven : the Church of Rome an Erebus of darkness. M. D’Aubigné has the advantage too of having in the Reformation, a nouveau Christianisme, a kind of second revelation, and it appears to us he studies the doctrines and the men of that time, with something of the reverence of a divine examining the doctrines and contemplating the characters of the Scripture. He regards the Reformation as not only occurring in the course of God's wise providence, but as specially contrived, adjusted and guided by that Providence, in a manner very similar to that which is usually exclusively claimed for Christianity. Luther is to him as a reformer, what St. Paul would be to another man as a Christian: and while the latter would show how Christianity might have sprung up, according to ordinary human apprehension, in the powerful Rome, or the learned Athens, but did actually and more suitably arise in humble Judæa ; so M. D'Aubigné indulges in a long discursive effort to show how the Reformation ought, we might have supposed, to have arisen somewhere else than it did, in France or in Spain, but was wisely overruled to spring up in Germany and Switzerland.
The vividness and intensity of this conception of the specially providential character of the Reformation in his mind accounts to a great degree for the defects of his history as an impartial, candid and philosophical work. He is too much oppressed with a sense of the presence of the hand of God in the events and characters, which pass under his review, to judge of them freely : and believing everything thus to have occurred in the perfection of divine wisdom, he is indisposed to any considerations involving the question, whether, had we had the choice and the power, events might have been otherwise guided, and characters otherwise moulded, with advantage. This very peculiarity, however, interfering as it does with his freedom as a historian and a philosopher, imparts to him, as a narrator, a serious earnestness, and a grateful satisfied confidence, which, combined with the pictorial and graphic force of his style, render his volumes exceedingly attractive.
Ranke, then, must cease his surprise that D’Aubigné has had such a run through Europe, while his far profounder, more learned and more laborious work has not as yet got beyond a stately walk. D’Aubigné's history is a religious novel, with Luther for its hero. It has an easy wordiness about it which, sometimes wearisome to the exact thinker who wishes to give his time to thoughts alone, is but a rest and relief to the ordinary reader. And this easy progress is again abundantly girt up and intensified by the frequent occurrence of rapid and effective summaries, and enlivened by the multitudinous and romantic descriptions, with which characters and events are introduced and kept upon the stage.
Not that the Reformation in Germany by Leopold Ranke is at all deficient in a due admixture of these qualities. It is a great mistake to suppose it heavier and less entertaining than the history of the Popes. In our opinion it is quite equal to that favourite work, in entertaining variety, and in freshness of style, as well as in profounder qualities : but the ground it goes over is more beaten, and the contemporaneous discussion of German