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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/224

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

That this interpretation harmonizes with the facts which modern times have furnished, scarcely needs pointing out. On an immensely larger scale and in ways variously modified, here by the slow collapse of an old régime and there by combination for war, the rise of the first French Republic and that of the American Republic have similarly shown us this tendency toward resumption of the primitive form of political organization, when a decayed or otherwise incapable government is broken up. Greatly obscured by complicating circumstances and special incidents as these transformations were, we may recognize in them the play of the same general causes.

 

In the last chapter we saw that, as conditions determine, the first element of the triune political structure may be differentiated from the second in various degrees—beginning with the warrior chief slightly predominant over other warriors, and ending with the divine and absolute king, widely distinguished from the select few next to him. By the foregoing examples we are shown that the second element is, as conditions determine, variously differentiated from the third: being at the one extreme qualitatively distinguished in a high degree and divided from it by an impassable barrier, and at the other extreme almost merged into it.

Here we are introduced to the truth next to be dealt with: that not only do conditions determine the various forms which compound heads assume, but that conditions determine the various changes they undergo. There are two leading kinds of such changes—those through which the compound head passes toward a less popular form, and those through which it passes toward a more popular form. We will glance at them in this order.

Progressive narrowing of the compound head is one of the concomitants of continued military activity. Beginning with the case of Sparta, the constitution of which in its early form differed but little from that which the "Iliad" shows us existed among the Homeric Greeks, we see, in the first place, the tendency toward concentration of power in the regulation, made a century after Lykurgus, that, "in case the people decided crookedly, the senate with the kings should reverse their decisions"; and then we see that later, in consequence of the gravitation of property into fewer hands, "the number of qualified citizens went on continually diminishing": the implication being not only a relatively-increased power of the oligarchy, but, probably, a growing supremacy of the wealthier members within the oligarchy itself. Turning to the case of Rome, ever militant, we find that in course of time inequalities increased to the extent that the senate became "an order of lords, filling up its ranks by hereditary succession, and exercising collegiate misrule"; and then "out of the evil of oligarchy there emerged the still worse evil of usurpation of power by particular families." In the Italian republics, again, perpetually at