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turity by the exertions of a single reign, a nation cannot attain to the degree of happiness and prosperity to which it is capable of being carried, unless a uniformity of counsels, a consistency of public measures and designs, be continued through a succession of ages. This benefit may be expected with greater probability, where the supreme power descends in the same race, and where each prince succeeds, in some sort, to the aim, pursuits, and disposition, of his ancestor, than if the crown, at every change, devolve upon a stranger, whose first care will commonly be to pull down what his predecessor had built up; and to substitute systems of administration, which must, in their turn, give way to the more favourite novelties of the next
ARISTOCRACIES are of two kinds. First, where the power of the nobility belongs to them in their collective capacity alone; that is, where, although the government reside in an assembly of the order, yet the members of that assembly separately and individually possess no authority or privilege beyond the rest of the community-this describes the constitution of Venice. Secondly, where the nobles are severally invested with great persons' power and immunities, and where the power of th senate is little more than the aggregated power the individuals who compose it-this is the ca stitution of Poland. Of these two forms of go the ment, the first is more tolerable than the last d to although the members of a senate should ma uses even all of them, be profligate enough to abrf the authority of their stations in the prosecution provate designs, yet, not being all under a temp deof the same injustice not having all the same te to gain, it would still be difficult to obtain the co. sent of a majority to any specific act of oppression wich the iniquity of an individual might prompt him to propose or if the will were the same, the power is more confined; one tyrant, whether the tyranny reside in a single person, or a senate, cannot exercise oppression at so many places, at the same time, as it may be carried on by the dominion of a numerous nobility over their respective vassals and dependants. Of all species of domina
tian, this is the most odious: the freedom and satisfaction of private life are more constrained and harrassed by it than by the most vexatious laws, or even by the lawless will of an arbitrary monarch; from whose knowledge, and from whose injustice, the greatest part of his subjects are removed by their distance, or concealed by their obscurity.
Europe exhibits more than one modern example, where the people, aggrieved by the exactions, or provoked by the enormities, of their immediate superiors, have joined with the reigning prince in the overthrow of the aristocracy, deliberately exchanging their condition for the miseries of despotism. About the middle of the last century, the commons of Denmark, weary of the oppressions which they had long suffered from the nobles, and exasperated by some recent insults, presented themselves at the foot of the throne with a formal offer of their consent to establish unlimited dominion in the king. The revolution in Sweden, still more lately brought about with the acquiescence, not to say the assistance, of the people, owed its success to the same cause, namely, to the prospect of deliverance that it afforded from the tyranny which their nobles exercised under the old constitution. In England, the people beheld the depression of the barons, under the house of Tudor, with satisfaction, although they saw the crown acquiring thereby a power which no limitations that the constitution had then provided were likely to confine. The lesson to be drawn from such events is this: that a mixed government, which admits a patrician order into its constitution, ought to circumscribe the personal privileges of the nobility, especially claims of hereditary jurisdiction and local authority, with a jealousy equal to the solicitude with which it wishes its own preservation for nothing so alienates the minds of the people from the government under which they live, by a perpetual sense of annoyance and inconveniency, or so prepares them for the practices of an interprising prince, or a factious demagogue, as the abuse which almost always accompanies the existence of separate immunities. Amongst the inferior, but by no means inconsi
derable, advantages of a DEMOCRATIC constitution, or of a constitution in which the people partake of the power of legislation, the following should not be neglected:
1. The direction which it gives to the education, studies, and pursuits, of the superior orders of the community. The share which this has in forming the public manners and national character, is very important. In countries in which the gentry are excluded from all concern in the government, scarcely any thing is left which leads to advancement, but the profession of arms. They who do not addict themselves to this profession (and miserable must that country be, which constantly employs the military service of a great proportion of any order of its subjects!) are commonly lost by the mere want of object and destination; that is, they either fall, without reserve, into the most sottish habits of animal gratification, or entirely devote themselves to the attainment of these futile arts and decorations which compose the business and recommendations of a court on the other hand, where the whole, or any effective portion, of civil power is possessed by a popular assembly, more serious pursuits will be encouraged, purer morals, and a more intellectual character, will engage the public esteem; those faculties which qualify men for deliberation and debate, and which are the fruit of sober habits, of early and long continued application, will be roused and animated by the reward which, of all others, most readily awakens the ambition of the human mind-political dignity and importance.
II. Popular elections procure to the common people courtesy from their superiors. That contemptuous and overbearing insolence, with which the lower orders of the community are wont to be treated by the higher, is greatly mitigated where the people have something to give. The assiduity with which their favour is sought upon these occasions, serves to generate settled habits of condescension and respect; and as human life is more imbittered by affronts than injuries, whatever contributes to procure mildness and civility of manners towards those who are most liable to suffer from a
contrary behaviour, corrects, with the pride, in a great measure, the evil of inequality, and deserves to be accounted among the most generous institu. tions of social life.
III. The satisfactions which the people in free governments derive from the knowledge and agitation of political subjects; such as the proceedings and debates of the senate; the conduct and cha racters of ministers; the revolutions, intrigues, and contentions, of parties; and, in general, from the discussion of public measures, questions, and occurrences. Subjects of this sort excite just enough of interest and emotion to afford a moderate engagement to the thoughts, without rising to any painful degree of anxiety, or ever leaving a fixed oppression upon the spirits ;-and what is this, but the end and aim of all those amusements which compose so much of the business of life and the va lue of riches? For my part (and I believe it to be the case with most men who are arrived at the middle age, and occupy the middle classes of life,) had I all the money which I pay in taxes to government, at liberty to lay out upon amusement and diversion, I know not whether I could make choice of any in which I could find greater pleasure than what I receive from expecting, hearing, and relating public news; reading parliamentary debates and proceedings; canvassing the political arguments, projects, predictions, and intelligence, which are conveyed, by various channels, to every corner of the kingdom. These topics, exciting universal curiosity, and being such as almost every man is ready to form, and prepared to deliver his opinion about, greatly promote, and, I think, improve conversation. They render it more rational and more innocent; they supply a substitute for drinking, gaming, scandal, and obscenity. Now the secrecy, the jealousy, the solitude, and precipitation of despotic governments, exclude all this. But the loss, you say, is trifling. I know that it is possible to render even the mention of it ridiculous, by representing it as the idle employment of the most insignificant part of the nation, the folly of village-statesmen and coffee house politicians: but I allow nothing to be a trifle which ministers to the harmless
gratification of multitudes; nor any order of men to be insignificant, whose number bears a respectable proportion to the sum of the whole community. We have been accustomed to an opinion, that a REPUBLICAN form of government suits only with the affairs of a small state which opinion is founded in the consideration, that unless the people, in every district of the empire, be admitted to a share in the national representation, the government is not, as to them, a republic; that elections, where the constituents are numerous, and dispersed through a wide extent of country, are conducted with difficulty, or rather, indeed, managed by the intrigues and combinations of a few, who are situated near the place of election, each voter considering his single suffrage as too minute a portion of the general interest to deserve his care or attendance, much less to be worth any opposition to influence and application; that whilst we contract the representation within a compass small enough to admit of orderly debate, the interest of the constituent becomes too small, of the representative too great. It is difficult also to maintain any connexion between them. He who represents two hundred thousand, is necessarily a stranger to the greatest part of those who elect him; and when his interest among them ceases to depend upon an acquaintance with their persons and character, or a care or knowledge of their affairs; when such a representative finds the treasures and honours of a great empire at the disposal of a few, and himself one of the few; there is little reason to hope that he will not prefer to his public duty those temptations of personal aggrandizement which his situation offers, and which the price of his vote will always purchase. All appeal to the people is precluded by the impossibility of collecting a sufficient proportion of their force and numbers. The factions and the unanimity of the senate are equally dangerous. Add to these considerations, that in a democratic constitution the mechanism is too complicated, and the motions too slow, for the operations of a great empire; whose defence and government require execution and despatch, in proportion to the magnitude, extent, and variety, of its