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which, with the fullest authority, and for the wisest purposes, the laws and institutions of their country have fixed them. However, if it be the office of those who are thus circumstanced, to take a decided part, it is no less their duty that it should be a sober one. It ought to be circumscribed by the same laws of decorum, and balanced by the same temper, which bound and regulate all the virtues. In a word, we ought to act in party with all the moderation which does not absolutely enervate that vigour, and quench that fervency of spirit, without which the best wishes for the public good must evaporate in empty speculation.
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We know, that parties must ever exist in a free country. We know too, that the emulations of such parties, their contradictions, their reciprocal necessities, their hopes, and their fears, must send them all in their turns to him that holds the balance of the state. The parties are the gamesters ; but government keeps the table, and is sure to be the winner in the end. When this game is played, I really think it is more to be feared, that the people will be exhausted, than that government will not be supplied. Whereas, whatever is got by acts of absolute power ill obeyed, because odious, or by contracts ill kept, because constrained; will be narrow, feeble, uncertain, and precarious. " Ease would retract vows made in. pain, as violent and void.”
It is false, that the idea of an united administration carries with it that of a proscription of any other
party. It does indeed imply the necessity of having the great strong holds of government in well united hands, in order to secure the predominance of right and uniform principles ; of having the capital offices of deliberation and execution in those who can deliberate with mutual confidence, and who will execute what is resolved with firmness and fidelity. If this system cannot be rigorously adhered to in practice (and what system can be so ?) it ought to be the constant aim of good men to approach as nearly to it as possible. No system of that kind can be formed, which will not leave room fully sufficient for healing coalitions : but no coalition, which, under the specious name of independency, carries in its bosom the unreconciled principles of the original discord of parties ever was, or will be, an healing coalition. Nor will the mind of our sovereign ever know repose, his kingdom settlement, or his business order, efficiency, or grace with his people, until things are established upon the basis of some set of men, who are trusted by the public, and who can trust one another.
I am aware that the age is not what we all wish. But I am sure, that the only means of checking its pre® cipitate degeneracy, is heartily to concur with whatever is the best in our time; and to have some more correct standard of judging what that best is, than the transient and uncertain favour of a court. If once we are able to find, and can prevail on ourselves to strengthen an union of such men, whatever accidentally becomes indisposed to ill exercised power even by the ordinary operation of human passions, must join with that society, and cannot long be joined, without in some degree assimilating to it. Virtue will catch as well as vice by contact; and the public stock of honest manly principle will daily accumulate. We are not too nicely to scrutinize motives as long as action is irreproachable. It is enough, (and for a worthy man perhaps too much) to deal out its infamy to convicted guilt and declared apostacy.
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When any community is subordinately connected with another, the great danger of the connexion is the extreme pride and self-complacency of the superior, which in all matters of controversy will probably decide in its own favour. It is a powerful corrective to such a very rational cause of fear, if the inferior body can be made to believe, that the party inclination, or political views of several in the principal state, will induce them in some degree to counteract this blind and tyrannical partiality. There is no danger that any one acquiring consideration or power in the presiding state should carry this leaning to the inferior too far. The fault of human nature is not of that sort. Power in whatever hands is rarely guilty of too strict limitations on itself. But one great advantage to the support of authority attends such an amicable and protecting connexion, that those who have conferred favours obtain influence; and from the foresight of future events can persuade men, who have received obligations, sometimes to return them. Thus by the mediation of those healing principles, (call them good or evil) troublesome discussions are brought to some sort of adjustment; and every hot controversy is not a civil war.
HEAD OF A PARTY.
A PERSON who assumes to be leader of a party composed of freemen and of gentlemen, ought to pay some degree of deference to their feelings, and even to their prejudices. He ought to have some degree of management for their credit and influence in their country.
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Before it is made the great object of any man's political life to raise another tą power, it is right to consider what are the real dispositions of the person to be so elevated. We are not to form our judgment on these dispositions from the rules and principles of a court of justice, but from those of private discretion ; not looking for what would serve to criminate another, but what is sufficient to direct ourselves. By a comparison of a series of the discourses and actions of certain men, for a reasonable length of time, it is impossible not to obtain sufficient indication of the general tendency of their views and principles. There is no other rational mode of proceeding. It is true, that in some one or two, perhaps not well-weighed expressions, or some one or two unconnected and doubtful affairs, we may and ought to judge of the actions or words by our previous good or ill opinion of the man. But this allowance has its bounds. It does not extend to any regular course of systematical action, or of constant and repeated discourse. It is against every principle of common sense and of justice to one's self, and to the public, to judge of a series of speeches and actions from the man, and not of the man from the whole tenor of his language and conduct.
When we consider of an adherence to a man which leads to his power, we must not only see what the man is, but how he stands related.
This matter may be brought within a very narrow compass, if we come to consider the requisites of a good peace under some plain distinct heads. I apprehend they may be reduced to these: 1. Stability ; 2. Indemnification ; 3. Alliance.
An arrangement of peace in its nature is a permanent settlement; it is the effect of counsel and deliberation, and not of fortuitous events. If built upon a basis fundamentally erroneous, it can only be retrieved by some of those unforeseen dispensations, which the all-wise but mysterious governor of the world, sometimes interposes, to snatch nations from ruin. It would not be pious error, but mad and impious presumption for any one to trust in an unknown order of dispensations, in defiance of the rules of prudence, which are formed upon the known march of he ordinary providence of God.
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A peace too eagerly sought, is not always the sooner obtained. The discovery of vehement wishes generally frustrates their attainment; and your adversary has gained a great advantage over you when he finds you