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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/460

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

been going on from the earliest recorded times, we see this state of things substantially realized: there is little or nothing of hereditary rank, and the only rank recognized is that of official position. Besides the different grades of appointed state functionaries, there are no class distinctions, or none having political meanings.

A tendency to subordination of the original ranks and a substitution of new ranks is otherwise caused: it accompanies the progress of political consolidation. The change which has occurred in China well illustrates this effect. Gutzlaff says: "Mere title was afterward (on the decay of the feudal system) the reward bestowed by the sovereign, . . . and the haughty and powerful grandees of other countries are here the dependent and penurious servants of the Crown. . . . The revolutionary principle of leveling all classes has been carried in China to a very great extent. . . . This is introduced for the benefit of the sovereign, to render his authority supreme."

The causes of such changes are not difficult to see. In the first place, the subjugated local rulers losing, as integration advances, more and more of their power, lose, consequently, more and more of their actual if not of their nominal rank, passing from the condition of tributary rulers to the condition of subjects. Indeed, jealousy on the part of the monarch sometimes prompts positive exclusion of them from influential positions; as in France, where "Louis XIV systematically excluded the nobility from ministerial functions." Presently their distinction is further diminished by the rise of competing ranks created by state authority. Instead of the titles inherited by the land-possessing military chiefs, which were descriptive of their attributes and positions, there come to be titles conferred by the sovereign. Certain of the classes thus established are still of militant origin; as the knights made on the battle-field, sometimes in large numbers before battle, as at Agincourt, when five hundred were thus created, and sometimes afterward in reward for valor. Others of them arise from the exercise of political functions of different grades; as in France, where, in the seventeenth century, hereditary nobility was conferred on officers of the great council and officers of the chamber of accounts—officers who had habitually been of bourgeois extraction. The administration of law, too, presently originates titles of honor. In France, in 1607, nobility was granted to doctors, regents, and professors of law; and "the superior courts obtained, in 1644, the privileges of nobility of the first degree." "So that," as Warnkoenig remarks, "the original conception of nobility was in the course of time so much widened that its primitive relation to the possession of a fief is no longer recognizable, and the whole institution seems changed." These, with kindred instances, which our own country and other European countries furnish, show us both how the original class-divisions become blurred and how the new class-divisions are distinguished by being delocalized. They are strata which run through the integrated society,