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by more nails than one "-if only we are content to stand upon the ancient ways and do not experiment with the constitution. "For to undertake to re-erect and found again so huge a masse, and change or remove the foundations of so vast a forme, belongeth only to those who . . . would amend partial faults by a universal confusion and cure disorder by death."
This is the argument which Hobbes later used with much effect, that to change a State is to overthrow it, and that, however bad a government may be, misrule is always better than revolution. "The oldest and best known evil is ever more tolerable than a fresh and unexplained mischief." So, in the Civil Wars, the safest side is that which maintains the ancient religion and policy of the country. This does not exclude a clear enough appreciation that there are many evils which cry out for redress, as may be seen from the Remonstrance drawn up under Montaigne's direction as Mayor of Bordeaux in 1583, and addressed to the king. But, above all, it is necessary to preserve the State, united and homogeneous. It must not be forgotten that the Huguenot party contained an extreme element, and that the constitution of the Reformed Church in France and the policy of local federation which it adopted for purposes of defence did lend a certain support to the accusation of its opponents that it was aiming at some form of republicanism on the Swiss model. At the same time the Catholic League actually resorted to measures which were definitely unconstitutional and which seriously weakened the power of the Crown. "Instabilitie," Montaigne tells us, is the worst that I find in our State," and he was not alone in his opinion.
Secondly, government to Montaigne, is, above all, the rule of law. "So long as the image of the received, allowed and ancient lawes of this monarchy shall be extant and shine in any corner thereof, there will I be, there will I abide." Unlike his contemporaries, it was rather the laws than the institution of monarchy which claimed his adherence. Here again his mistrust of change everywhere meets us. "There riseth a great doubt whether any so evident profit may be found in the change of a received law of what nature soever as there is hurt in the removing of the same." To him, as to the Middle Ages, the sovereign is the lex animata, the fountain of law. But, with the rise of the national State, men were coming more and more to look to the
person of the ruler rather than to his office and function, and with this view Montaigne had little sympathy. The Middle Ages regarded law as the eternal reality resting upon the unchanging principle of justitia from which all order proceeds, and accepted the maxim of St. Augustine-lex turpis vel injusta non est lex. But there is no trace of this doctrine in Montaigne.
On the contrary, what is apparent at every turn is his contempt for the content of human law. Solon, he tells us, when asked if he had established the best laws he could for the Athenians, answered: "Yea of those which they would have received." The justice of the law has little to do with the matter. Unjust laws have been powerless to overthrow a State while there have been laws as savage as human opinion could devise which, in practice, have answered as well as those of a Plato or an Aristotle. Just or unjust, the bulk of the community obeys them blindly, being incapable of comprehending their nature. For laws are maintained in credit, "not because they are just, but because they are laws; it is the mystical foundation of their authority: they have no other which avails them much." With their errors and contradictions the laws by which we are ruled are, he says, a lively testimony of humane imbecility": their only sanction is "the violent prejudice of custome." And yet, taking all in all, they are best left as they are. "If I could fixe a peg into the wheel and stay it where it is, I would willingly do it." The law of nature comes off even worse, for while Montaigne at least upholds the positive law, even though it corresponds seldom enough to the principles of justice, no exercise is more congenial to him than to demonstrate the wide divergency with which the nations of the world have interpreted those principles of right conduct which the Middle Ages held to be imprinted in the heart of man. With his denial of any absolute standard of right he is led to a virtual rejection of the medieval theory which saw in the law of nature the voice of God, speaking through the human
A political theorist in the more narrow sense of the term, Montaigne certainly was not. He makes no mention of the theory of contract which the Catholic and Protestant Monarchomachi alike accepted as the central article of their political faith. He makes use of Bodin without ever referring to his theory of sovereignty. He cared indeed for none of these things. Ahead
of his generation in many ways—not least in his hatred of religious persecution he stood for what men were coming more and more to desire, a strong government, though to him stability lay rather in the rule of law than in the exaltation of the prerogatives of the sovereign. His distrust of a priori theorising upon the nature of the State, the breadth of vision which enabled him to see in the intolerable confusion of his time no more than a passing disturbance, and, above all, his clear conception of the organic nature of the State, reveal a temper of mind which is properly scientific. His contribution is perhaps to the philosophy of history rather than to the science of politics, but as a commentary upon the political ideas of his time his views deserve a closer consideration than they have hitherto received.
R. N. CAREW HUNT
Report of the British Guiana Commission. Stationery Office. 1927.
By Sir WALTER Raleigh.
Guide to the West Indies, British Guiana, etc. By ALGERNON ASPINALL,
6. Among the Indians of Guiana.
By EVERARD F. IM THURN. 1883.
7. Twenty-five Years in British Guiana. By HENRY KIRKE, M.A., B.C.L., formerly Sheriff of Demerara. Sampson Low. 1898.
8. Through British Guiana to the Summit of Roraima. By Mrs. CECIL CLEMENTI, M.B.E. T. Fisher Unwin. 1920.
F all our larger colonies British Guiana ranks amongst the least known and least visited. Philatelists have of course long been acquainted with its postage stamps bearing the device of a three-masted sailing ship, and the motto, Damus petimusque vicissim; but at this point familiarity with British Guiana may be said to cease, so far as the general public is concerned. True, Demerara sugar is a household word in all parts of the Empire; but then, how many persons associate the name “Demerara with British Guiana? Indeed, not a few intelligent people vaguely imagine Demerara to be one of our many West Indian islands, and it is even whispered that official letters have occasionally been directed to "the Island of Demerara." During the last few months, however, there have been signs in the press of some enhanced interest being taken in this century-old colony, presumably as the direct result of the British Guiana Commission, which spent five weeks in the colony during the months of November and December, 1926, and published its report last April. This Commission consisted of Mr. Roy Wilson, M.P. (Conservative), and Mr. H. Snell, M.P. (Labour), with Mr. R. R. Sedgwick, of the Colonial Office, to act as Secretary; and their valuable report, embodied in a Blue Book, has been freely drawn upon in the following pages.
British Guiana, our sole possession on the South American
continent, owns a northern coast-line of some 270 miles along the Atlantic seaboard, stretching eastward from Morawhanna, near the main estuary of the Orinoco, to the mouth of the Courantyne river. The area of the colony covers nearly 90,000 square miles, being about the size of Great Britain, and consists chiefly of primeval forest, with the important exception of the alluvial strip along the coast. It lies wholly within the tropics, between the parallels 1° to 8° N., and is divided into three counties: Essequebo (by far the largest of the three) on the west and south, occupying the basin of the Essequebo river, with its great tributary streams; Demerara, in the centre, containing the capital, Georgetown, at the mouth of the Demerara river; and Berbice, lying between Demerara and the Courantyne river. The whole colony is bounded west by Venezuela, south by Brazil, and east by Dutch Guiana. The southernmost portion of Essequebo penetrates the continent almost to the Equator, at a distance of about 550 miles from the coast. Georgetown, with nearly 60,000 inhabitants, is the seat of government, and the simple fact that the capital is situated on the Demerara river has caused the name Demerara to be used in common parlance to include the whole colony. The next, and indeed the only other town of any size, is New Amsterdam, a decaying port on the Berbice river, with about 8000 souls.
The history of Demerara is of exceptional importance, since the present crisis with which the colony is faced arises directly from the political events and pacts of the past. Guiana, whose name derives from the native word for water, may be said to comprise all that vast region of forest, savannah, and river lying between the Amazon and the Atlantic. It is first recorded in English history, owing to Sir Walter Raleigh's and Captain Kemeys' expeditions thither to discover the golden city of El Dorado, whose tradition is enshrined for us in Voltaire's brilliant fantasy of "Candide." But the Dutch, rather than the Spaniards, were the true pioneers in Guiana, and during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries their trading vessels were utilizing the Essequebo, the Berbice, the Courantyne and other large rivers, and their colonists were founding small forts and settlements for the purpose of commerce with the native Indians. One of these old Dutch forts, Kykoveral, built of bricks brought out from Holland, still survives on a fine strategic site above the Pomeroon