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their German name of Heimathlosen, or citizenships of the middle age. They " the homeless,” heim being the German have both of them in every case preserved rendering of our word home.
their essential traits ; the commune, with In order to comprehend this, it is neces its prerogatives, more or less, is a little resary to mention something apparently pe- public in the bosom of the greater of which culiar to a republic, for we find it in every it forms a part; the canton next, and then country where this form of government the confederation. has existed for any length of time. Indeed, There may be found something analogous it seems to have made its appearance in to this mode of social organization in all France during the two epochs in which it republics, ancient or modern ; in the United was established there, more, it is true, as States, in the divisions of counties and an abstract idea than in deeds and practical states, which possess their proper sphere, reality. We refer to the manner in which their distinct legislation : in Florence and a citizen holds his citizenship.
the other Italian republics, in the corporaAn individual is not and cannot become tions or mestieri, where it is necessary that a Swiss citizen without being previously each individual should be ranked. Thus we the citizen of a canton, nor can he become a find that Dante himself, whether from his citizen of a canton without being previously character as savant, or by inheritance, was a citizen of one of the communes thereof. ranked among the body of physicians, or We mean by a citizen, not merely an inhab- apothecaries. The same is found also in itant, nor even a native, for in Switzerland the Roman tribunes at Athens, even in the neither the communes nor the cantons are divisions of city, county, towns, etc. mere territorial boundaries. In spite of Under the ancient constitution of Switzwhat the spirit of modern improvement erland in the heroic age, the principal has given to or taken away from them, sovereign cities, whether more aristocratic and it has retrenched more than it has than Berne, or more democratic than added—they are still in the main, what Zurich, although forming in the whole they were formerly, the communes and the one single commune, one single republic,
yet they were divided into several tribes secure somewhere the right of citizenship, or corporations, each having their councils, as it is called, in a city, a town, or a their representatives, their funds, their country village. It is really the place of revenues, their arsenal, constituting, there- one's family origin, rather than that which fore, so many particular communes in the he now inhabits, that actually decides the general commune, and thus portioning out matter. and stirring up political life on all points This right, which in many families exat oncc.
tends back several centuries, is transmitted It is not quite the same in Switzerland from father to son, and even to the unat the present time, modern ideas not com married daughters ; those who are married porting with such localization and concen or widowed belong to the community and tration of life with its advantages and in- township of their husbands. It is not neconveniences. But each commune, great cessary to reside there, nor even to attend or small, still has its proper sphere, its the political elections ; but if from time to doctoral corps, its executive power chosen time, especially on the occasion of his by itself, its revenues, its resources, great marriage, a person does not verify his or small, of which it disposes with more right by the accomplishment of certain or less liberty, more or less limited accord-formalities, which, in this case, are absoing to the cantons, but is only subservient lutely rigorous in some of the cantons, he to the surveillance of the government, not runs the risk of seeing himself refused to its pleasure.
afterward, and losing his citizenship sooner One person could be a member of sey or later. And this would be a real loss in eral communes at once, but it is neces a political point of view, as well as in sary to be a member of one at least, to 1 other respects.
Those communes which are able, and those of its resident citizens having each the greater part of them are so, are bound a residence to themselves, receive annually to assist the poor citizens according to in wood, butter, cheese, etc., to the value their means, even when they have not re- of two or three hundred francs or more, sided there for several generations. The according to the good or bad management poor who are not citizens are left to what of communal affairs, the disposition to the commune does in general for the pub- economy or expense in the administralic assistance. The citizens only, and tion, the absence of extra and temporary among them those alone who are resident, charges, and the number of the citizens. participate in the communal advantages Distributions of this amount, or even less, resulting everywhere from the annual dis- are not to be despised in a rustic household. tribution which the commune makes of a This commune, otherwise quite rural, susportion of its revenues in kind, such as tains a very good primary school, has a butter, cheese, wine, and wood,
little stone building dignified with the name These advantages may be quite con- of college, and some magnificent public siderable if the commune is rich and its fountains, which flow incessantly and pour resident citizens few, two circumstances out tons of pure water. All this, the comwhich, without doubt, rarely meet. mune defrays, besides the ordinary funeral
There is, for instance, a village of small expenses of its citizens indiscriminately. extent, situated at the foot of the Jura, There are also other communes in analowhich has possessed, in the commune it- gous situations. self, and independent of the individual for- It is understood that this is not the case tunes of its inhabitants, in forests, mount- with a large number. Many of the comains, pasturage, and invested money, a munes are even poor ; they have little or capital of at least a million of francs. All | nothing, through bad administration or
less favorable geographical circumstances. after foreign military service; disappointed But the greater part have a certain fortune projects of emigration, etc., etc. which, well managed, permits them to Such of these causes as pertain to the continue some little distribution of the kind, character of individuals will always exist, and also to aid their poor, to promote the but their frequency will diminish with the public interest by building a bridge, open- greater precision and rigor which are ing a road, having water works, a fountain brought to bear in exacting and delivering with a carved marble basin, etc., without certificates of origin. Whatever may be being obliged to assess and tax themselves the futute result of these causes, yet their as other surrounding cities are beginning effect was largely developed at the close to do.
of the last century and the commencement If an individual is not a member of one of the present. The descendants of those of these communes by right of birth, he families presumed to be originally of the cannot become so except by paying for it, country found themselves all at once unable and even then not without the consent of to regain the right of commune possessed its citizens. It sometimes happens that a by their fathers, unless they could furnish commune gratuitously admits into its bosom the most complete historic proof, or were a man who does not belong to it; but this is able, from their own resources, to purchase an honor rendered to distinguished serv the communal right, an indispensable conices; one which is never lightly bestowed, dition to the Swiss citizenship. The and which is reasonably regarded as one richer communes would not wish them, and of the noblest of national recompenses. the poorer ones would gain nothing by adBeyond this a foreigner cannot become a mitting them gratis, except the reckoning member, of a commune, and a Swiss can of one more poor member. Having thus in only do so by paying a price. This price some sort lost their foothold in the Helvetic varies according to the fortune of several territory, they were homeless, without a of the communes and the number of chil- country, and treated as such. Repulsed dren of the petitioner, and according to from their ancient commune, pretended or the wishes, the ideas, and even the caprices real, cast off from one canton to another, of the citizens, who are free in this matter then from Switzerland to the adjoining to consult their own interests as they un states, which, in their turn, naturally rederstand them. There are communes that jected them, these unhappy beings wanwe could cite where the right of citizenship dered here and there, not knowing where could probably not be obtained, supposing to establish themselves, nor having, in the the consent of the citizens granted, for less eyes of the law, any right to live in society than five or six thousand francs. Smaller or establish themselves anywhere. The communes of a moderate fortune would de- spirit of communism, like that of all inmand ten or twelve hundred francs. corporate bodies, has its egotistic and in
In all cases, whether it cost little or flexible sides. About 1820 some commuch, and the least is a few hundred munes, particularly that called the archfrancs, this is the first door to be passed bishopric of Bâle, which at this time inon the road to Swiss citizenship. Still it cluded the greater part of the Heimathis not naturalization; that is in the hands of loses, (about five hundred individuals in the cantons, and is without price ; but it is all,) seeing their indigence, their bad haban indispensable condition thereto; neither its, and the increasing number of their the cantons nor the confederation can dis- children, preferred, rather than admit them
to the rights of the commune, to make But to return to our Homeless ones : them gifts of money upon condition that supposing them to be really of Swiss they should emigrate to Brazil. origin, they may be the descendants of This undertaking was followed by the heads of families who have permitted their most disastrous consequences, the fault, right of citizenship to be lost by neglecting as it appears, of the contractors. Many the formalities necessary to preserve it, of the passengers perished on the trip. or at least to prevent its being forgotten. Then those who remained behind did not This might have resulted from different wish to emigrate. The two parties, the causes ; personal negligence or careless communes and the Homeless, were obness; a prolonged absence combined with stinate. A few of the latter showed thembad behavior; a wandering life during selves decided throughout. They declared
pense with it.
that they would sooner find death in their indigent, in the poor rate, but not in the own country than to go to seek it in exile. annual distribution of the citizens' revenues,
We have now before us a little book in but, in return, his legitimate children, born French, styled Les Heimathloses, trans- after his incorporation, fully enjoyed all lated from the German, and published at the communal rights and advantages. Berne in 1821, highly colored, it is true, The council or federal power determines and in the outline somewhat romantic. It to which canton the Homeless shall beshows us the unfortunate creatures wander- long, and in making that determination he ing by night along the banks of the torrent should be guided according to the histordown which some had already precipitated ical antecedents of the subject—his resithemselves, while the compassionate in-dence, indications of origin, etc. Conhabitants were busy in saving them from tested cases are decided by the federal the waters, and watching to prevent the tribunal. Such are the principles of this accomplishment of their designs of self-law for the benefit of the Homeless, already destruction.
in force five years; but its execution is The history of the Heimathloses has not always easy; there has been more thus had its critical moments, which even
than one case bandied about from canton threatened to end in tragedy. This people to canton, by the way of justice, if not by had become a plague to Switzerland, a the gens d'armes, as formerly, and time plague not absolutely inherent to its re alone will bring the means of their conpublican organization, but was, however, plete assimilation. resultant from that, as we have endeavored to show. At last, after various projects, all difficult of execution, the federal power FOR MOTHER'S SAKE. has lately taken the thing in hand, and is
A FATHER and his little son busy with regulating their lot; but it has
On wintry waves were sailing; been obliged to recognize this fact, that
Fast, from their way, the light of day the commune being the basis of all civil In cloud and gloom was failing, existence in Switzerland, if they did 'not And fiercely round their lonely bark become identified with some of these com
The stormy winds were wailing. munes, they would, always form a kind of
They knew that peril hover'd near; exception in the social organization of They pray'd, “O ! Heaven, deliver;" the country.
But a wilder blast came howling past,
And soon, with sob and shiver, The past century witnessed a some
They struggled in the icy grasp what similar case in that of the French
Of that dark, rushing river, refugees at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. A goodly number of them
“Cling fast to me, my darling child,”
An anguish voice was crying ; had not the necessary facilities for acquir
While, silvery clear, o'er tempest drear, ing a citizenship. By the aid of their own Rose softer tones, replying, resources and the help of their co-religion “O! mind not me, my father dear; ists at home and abroad they formed a cor
I'm not afraid of dying ;
0! mind not me, but save yourself, poration by degrees, not fixed to any one
For mother's sake, dear father; place, city, or village, but scattered among Leave me, and hasten to the shore, the families of which it is composed; yet
Or who will comfort mother ?” hereditary in the families thus united by
The angel forms that ever wait, the tie of coinmon religion, and having
Unseen, on men attendant, also its own administration and reve Flew up, o'erjoy'd, to heaven's bright gate, nues.
And there, on page resplendent, Some plan of this kind had been pro
High over those of heroes bold,
And martyrs famed in story, posed for the Heimathloses, but it was not
They wrote the name of that brave boy, carried out, and a federal law of the 3d of And wreathed it round with glory. December, 1850, superseded the necessity
God bless the child ! ay, he did bless of all other contrivances by distributing
That noble self-denial, them among the different cantons, in order And safely bore him to the shore, to incorporate them in the established com
Through tempest, toil, and trial. munes. This incorporation was to be pro
Soon, in their bright and tranquil home,
Son, sire, and that dear mother gressive ; the Homeless shared in none but
For whose sweet sake so much was done, the political rights of the citizen, and, if In rapture met each other.