ESTATES

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ESTATES (in politics). Man, in the rudest state of human existence, lives almost entirely independent. We cannot properly speak of liberty in such a state, because liberty, truly so called, implies the protection of each man's rights by the laws of an organized society, the main object of political institutions being to secure individual liberty, by affording equal protection to all. But what a number of gradations are to be found between the lawlessness of the savage and the rational independence of the citizen of a free state. There are several prominent stages in the progress of man from the one to the other of these points:a. The state of unsettled and roving tribes, the hunters and nomades. Though very great difference exists among nations in this state, yet all political developement is so much checked by the nonexistence of landed property (the beginning of proper civilization), that we may class them all together, b. The patriarchal state, in which the authority and power of the father of a family (patriapotestas), that of the magistrate and of the priest are united in one person : this is the first rude begin ning of political civilization.* c. The state in which the authority of the father and the magistrate are separated, but that of thepriest and the magistrate still remain blended. This is the theocratic state. In this, priests form a separate caste, and are the rulers, d. When the autliority of the father, priest and magistrate are separated, and the distinction between the family and state is clearly understood, but yet birth decides to what class an individual belongs. This is the state of castes. The whole people is divided into different classes, with different privileges, e. That state of government, which prevails in many parts of Europe, where the nobility have hereditary privileges, and correspond to the castes in the East, whilst the other subjects are divided into classes distinguished by their occupations, as peasants, citizens, &c. f. That state of political society in which all the members have equal privileges and rights, and are subject to equal burdens. In this class must be included several of the republics of antiquity, not* We cannot abstain here from a few remarks on the gross error of many politicians of Europe, of whom Charles Louis cle Haller must be considered the head, on account of his notorious work Restauration de.r Rtaatsicissenschoft, oder Tkeorie des natilrlichen gesellige.n Zustandes, der C!timere des Kiinstlichbilrgerlichen entgegengesetzt, Winterthur, 1816-1820, 4 vols. (Restoration of the Science of Politics, or Theory of the naturalsocial State, in Opposition to the Chimera of the artificialcivil). These absolutists ridicule the idea of a social contract, as the basis of the political constitution of a nation, deriving all their arguments against it from the patriarchal origin of the political state. Political unions, say they, no where began with such p. contract, but grew out of the relations of families. Haller calls it an idea communicated to him from Heaven, that, the father being the. natural ruler of the children, the master stands in the same relation to his slaves, and the prince to his subjects. He says there is no foundation for the notion that princes are made for their subjects, but both are correlativea very logical deduction, certainly, from the original condition of men ! as if the highest branches of mathematics, particularly the exalted and abstract theory of functions, were visionary and groundless, because mathematics began with simple calculations applied to the most ordinary business of life, geometry, with the surveying of the banks of the Nile after its inundation! as if the laws of architecture applied to the erection of the stately cathedral were chimerical, because architecture began with the construction of miserable huts ! as if grammatical writing were nonsense, because language began with inarticulate sounds! as if the Jaws of war, by which its horrors are mitigated, were unfounded, because war began, with common murder ! Yet Mr. Matter's theory is so well received by the illiberal party in Ger many, that a production which most probably would not even have found a publisher in Eng land or the U. States, is there held up as a standard work! (See Constitutions.) Iiuiiio crcic in isci viiuuu , ivx tiiv> oia i toj in these cases, were not considered as belonging to the state, were not members o.f the political society. Such an anomalous form of government as existed in Algiers, where a tribe of soldiers, kept up by perpetual recruits from abroad, and excluding their own children from any share in their political privileges, elected their ruler, and tyrannised ovei*the other inhabitants of the country, without allowing them any rights (although they did not actually treat them as slaves, at least not as the property of individuals),such a government does not fall under any one of the established divisions, and, in fact, can hardly be regarded in a different light from an association of robbers. That condition of government mentioned under e forms the subject of this article. Estates are those political bodies which partake, either directly or by representation, in the government: they are different from corporations (q. v.), which very often had, and still have, certain political privileges. ESTATEs are of Teutonic origin, being found only in countries occupied by the descendants of Teutonic tribes. They are to be considered as a consequence of the feudal system, which originated from certain customs prevalent among the Germans, and from their conquests. (See Feudal System.) From the feudal system sprang the modern hereditary noblesa privileged body, partaking essentially in, or, in some instances, chiefly forming the government. (See Nobility.) Bondage became gradually establishedan institution, in many cases, of much more recent date than those who profit by it maintain. (See Villenage.) At the same time that the high nobility began to constitute a distinct and hereditary class (which is of much later date than the origin of feudalism), the high clergy, in many countries, began to participate in the government as a body, which they were, in those barbarous times, as much entitled to do as the warlike nobility; since they were the only members of society with whom the little knowledge which had survived the fearful storms of the dark ages had taken refuge. More or less distinct from eas: other, and from the lower orders of their respective classes, the high nobility and clergy continued to form the estates, which, together with the prince, constituted the general government so far as any general government can be said to have existed, when every feudal lord was, in most respects, entirely independent, and the higher clergy were almost always lIJC/XULriVi JIJUJIVOIOJ JS11 V llt*<££^0 UUU 11 UllLJUO prevented any general and orderly administration of government and justice. " That prodigious fabric (as Hume calls it), for several centuries, preserved such a mixture of liberty and oppression, order and anarchy, stability and revolution, as was never experienced in any other age, or any other part of the world." But the time appeared when cities began to claim and assume political rights, the time to which we may apply, in respect of all Europe, what Spelman applies to England at the time of the Norman conquest, Novus seclorum nascitur ordo. It is to the cities that we owe the origin of the third estate, or citizens, from whom, through their contests with the other estates or estate (if the nobility and clergy were united), and through their greater number, which rendered a representation of them necessary, originated more general views of the administration of government and justice, more equitable laws, and more correct notions of individual liberty. To the historian, who sees, amid the conflicts of feudalism, the beginning of the political importance of the cities, it is like the first appearance of the rays of morning after a long and stormy night. (See Cities.) But the power of the other estates was too great; nor was it to be expected that the third estate should be in advance of the age: a general representation was not yet founded. The period from the downfall of the Roman empire to the establishment of the constitution of the U. States, may be called, by way of distinction, the time ofpiivileges, hardly any part of the political system being established, or administered on general principles, or a well organized plan, but almost every thing being dono by special privileges and grants; common rights arising from citizenship being hardly recognised, the individual enjoying only certain privileges, as a member of a favored class. The privileges of these three estates, arising from different causes, and acquired in different ways, were, of course, very different. However, the right to grant taxes was common to all, because taxes were at first considered as a mere gift to the prince, it b*;ing customary in all the Teutonic estates for the monarch to defray th*" expenses of government, particularly of war, on account of the large share of property which was every where set aside for him, as has been shown in the article Civil List. (See also Domain.) However, in many countries, the estates were not called together; in others, their conduct rendered them veiy unpopular. Both their own incapacity and the power of the government rendered them, in most countries, either useless or obnoxious; and, in many countries, both the people and the government were equally desirous to abolish them, though for different reasons. The time of the French revolution approached, and views of general justice and legal equality became popular throughout Europe. Every reader knows that the system of the estates was abolished in France, and all the countries where the French obtained an ascendency in the new formation, or the reformation of governments. Since the downfall of Napoleon, many governments have reestablished the estates, or endeavored to satisfy the spirit of the age, which calls for a secure individual liberty, by a new organization of them. This subject has been particularly treated in the article Constitution, (q. v.) In Sweden, there is a fourth estatethat of the crown peasants. Circumstances have changed so entirely, civilization has so nearly equalised the different orders, the interests of men have become so generalized, that the institution of estates has become unsuited to the wants of the age : they have had tlieir time, and have become obsolete. They are directly contrary to the spirit of our age, as is the whole feudal system, and can only be considered as remnants of former times, forms Irom which the spirit has long since departed. They serve at present only to frustrate the most just and reasonable demand of societyindividual liberty, protected by equal laws and an equal representation.