Imatges de pàgina

would not always terminate with the reasons for which it was conferred, A warrior who had led forth his tribe against their enemies with repeated success, would procure to himself, even in the deliberations of peace, a powerful and permanent influence. If this advantage were added to the authority of the patriarchal chief, or favoured by any previous distinction of ancestry, it would be no difficult undertaking for the person who possessed it to obtain the almost absolute direction of the affairs of the community; especially if he was careful to associate to himself proper auxiliaries, and content to practise the obvious art of gratifying or removing those who opposed his pretensions.

But although we may be able to comprehend how by his personal abilities or fortune one man may

obtain the rule over many, yet it seems more difficult to explain how empire became hereditary, or in what manner sovereign power, which is never acquired without great merit or management, learns to descend in a succeflion, which has no dependence upon any qualities, either of understanding or activity. The causes which have introduced hereditary dominion into so general a reception in the world, are princi


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pally the following—the influence of affociation, which communicates to the son a portion of the fame respect which was wont to be paid to the virtues, or station, of the father-the mutual jealousy of other competitors--the greater envy, with which all behold the exaltation of an equal, than the continuance of an acknowledged superiority--a reigning prince leaving behind him many adherents, who can preserve their own importance only by supporting the succession of his children ---Add to these reasons, that elections to the fupreme power having upon trial produced destructive contentions, many states would take refuge from a return of the same calamities, in a rule of succession; and no rule presents itself so obvious, certain, and intelligible, as confanguinity of birth.

The ancient state of society in most countries, and the modern condition of some uncivilized parts of the world, exhibit that appearance, which this account of the origin of civil government would lead us to expect. The earliest histories of Palestine, Greece, Italy, Goul, Britain, inform us, that these countries were occupied by many small independent nations, not inuch perhaps unlike those which are found at present


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amongst the savage inhabitants of North America, and upon the coast of Africa. These nations I consider as the amplifications of so many single families; or as derived from the junction of two or three families, whom society in war approach of some common danger, had united. Suppose a country to have been first peopled by shipwreck on its coasts, or by emigrants or exiles from a neighbouring country; the new settlers Having no enemy to provide against, and occu. pied with the care of their personal subsistence, would think little of digesting a system of laws, of contriving a form of government, or indeed of any political union whatever ; but each settler would remain at the head of his own family, and each family would include all of every age and generation, who were descended from him. So many

of these families as were holden together after the death of the original ancestor, by the reasons and in the method above recited, would wax, as the individuals were multiplied, into tribes, clans, hordes, or nations, similar to those into which the ancient inhabitants of many countries are known to have been divided, and which are still found, wherever the state of fociety and manners is immature and uncultivated. I 3


Nor need we be surprised at the early existe ence in the world of some vaft empires, or at the rapidity with which they advanced to their greatness, from comparatively small and obscure originals. Whilst the inhabitants of so many countries were broken into numerous communities, unconnected, and oftentimes contending with each other; before experience had taught these little states to see their own danger in their neighbours' ruin ; or had instructed them in the necesityø of relifting the aggrandizement of an aspiring power, by alliances and timely preparations; in this condition of civil policy, a particular tribe which by any means had got the start of the rest in strength, or discipline, and happened to fall under the conduct of an ambitious chief, by directing their first attempts to the part where success was most fecure, and by assuming, as they went along, those whom they conquered into a share of their future enterprises, might foon gather a forçe, which would infallibly overbear any opposition that the scattered power and unprovided state of such enemies could make to the progress of their victories.


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Lastly, our theory affords a presumption, that the earliest governments were monarchies, because the government of families, and of armies, from which, according to our account, civil government derived its institution, and probably its form, is universally monarchical.

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