Imatges de pÓgina
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about with the acquiescence, not to say the affisiance, of the people, owed its success to the fame 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 depreffion of the barons, under the house of Tudor, with fatisfaction, 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 mised government, which admits a patrician order into its constitution, ought to circumscribe the personal privileges of the nobility, especially claims of

, hereditary jurisdiâion and local authority, with a jealousy equal to the solicitude with which it wishes its own preservation. For nothing fo 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 enterpriling prince, or a factious demagogue, as the abuse which almost always accompanies the existence of separate immunities.

Amongst the inferior, but by no means inconsiderable advantages of a

con

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DEMIOCRATIC

constitution, or of a conftitution in which the people partake of the power of legislation, the following should not be neglected.

I. The direction which it gives to the education, studies, and pursuits of the superior orders of the community. The snare 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, scarce any thing is left which lcads 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 those 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 asfembly, more serious pursuits will be encouraged, purer morals, and a more intellectual charader will engage the public esteem ; those fa

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culties, culties, 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.

Il. 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 bave something to give. The affiduity, with which their favour is sought upon these occasions, serves to generate settled habits of condescension and respect; and as human life is more embittered by affronts than injuries, whatever contributes to procure mildness and civility of manners towards those who are most liable to sufier from a contrary behaviour, corrects, with the pride, in a great measure the evil of inequality, and deserves to be accounted amongst the most generous institutions of social life.

III. The satisfactions which the people in free governments derive from the knowledge and agitation of political subjects; such as the pro

çcedings ceedings and debates of the senate; the conduct and characters of ministers; the revolutions, intrigues, and contention 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 of the value 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 diverfion, 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 alınost every man is ready to form, and

prepared prepared to deliver their opinion about, greatly promote, and, I think, improve conversation. They render it more rational and more inrocent. They supply a substitute for drinking, gaming, scandal, and obscenity. Now the lecresy, the jealousy, the solitude, and precipitation of despotic governments, exclude all this. But the loss, you say, is trisling. 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 triile, which ministers to the harmless gratification of multitudes; nor any order of men to be infignificant, whose number bears a respectable proportion to the sum of the whole community.

We have been accustomed to an opinion, that à REPUBLICAN form of government suits only with the affairs of a finall state : which opinion is founded in the consideration, that unless the people, in every district of the empire, be admitted to a Mare in the national representation, tlie government is not, as to them, a republic : that eccions, where the constituents are numerous, and dispersed through a wide extent of country, are conduced with difficulty, or rather,

indeed,

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