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free. None will violate their conscience to please us, in order afterwards to discharge that conscience, which they have violated, by doing us faithful and affectionate service. If we degrade and deprave their minds by servility, it will be absurd to expect, that they who are creeping and abject towards us, will ever be bold and incorruptible assertors of our freedom, against the most seducing and the most formidable of all powers. No! human nature is not so formed; nor shall we improve the faculties or better the morals of public men, by our possession of the most infallible receipt in the world for making cheats and hypocrites.
Let me say with plainness, I who am no longer in a public character, that if by a fair, by an indulgent, by a gentlemanly behaviour to our representatives, we do not give confidence to their minds, and a liberal scope to their understandings; if we do not permit our members to act upon a very enlarged view of things; we shall at length infallibly degrade our national representation into a confused and scuffling bustle of local agency. When the popular member is narrowed in his ideas, and rendered timid in his proceedings, the service of the crown will be the sole nursery of statesmen. Among the frolics of the court, it may at length take that of attending to its business. Then the monopoly of mental power will be added to the power of all other kinds it possesses. On the side of the people there will be nothing but impotence: for ignorance is impotence ; narrowness of mind is impotence; timidity is itself impotence, and makes all other qualities that go along with it, impotent and useless.
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I must beg leave just to hint to you, that we may
suffer great detriment by being open to every talker. It is not to be imagined, how much of service is lost from spirits full of activity, and full of energy, who are pressing, who are rushing forward, to great and capital objects, when you oblige them to be continually looking back. Whilst they are defending one service, they defraud you of an hundred. Applaud us when we run; console us when we fall; cheer us when we recover ; but let us pass on-for God's sake, let us pass on.
CONSTITUTIONALISTS OF FRANCE, OR FIRST RACE
I HAVE seen some of those who are thought the best amongst the original rebels; and I have not neglected the means of being informed concerning the others. I can very truly say, that I have not found by observation orenquiry, that any sense of the evils produced by their projects has produced in them, or any one of them, the smallest degree of repentance. Disappointment and mortification undoubtedly they feel : but to them, repentance is a thing impossible. They are Atheists. This wretched opinion, by which they are possessed even to the height of fanaticism, leading them to exclude from their ideas of a commonwealth, the vital principle of the physical, the moral, and the political world, engagesthem in a thousand absurd contrivances, to fill up this dreadful void. Incapable of innoxious repose, or honourable action, or wise speculation, in the lurking holes of a foreign land, into which (in a common ruin) they are driven to hide their heads amongst the innocent victims of their madness, they are at this very hour, as busy in the confection of the dirt-pyes of their imaginary constitutions, as if they had not been quite fresh from destroying by their impious and desperate vagaries, the finest country upon earth.
CONTEMPT is not a thing to be despised. It may be borne with a calm and equal mind, but no man by lifting his head high can pretend that he does not perceive the scorns that are poured down upon him from above.
CONTRACT. To avoid frittering and crumbling down the attention by a blind unsystematic observance of every trifle, it has ever been found the best way, to do all things, which are great in the total amount, and minute in the component parts, by a general contract. The principles of trade have so pervaded every species of dealing, from the highest to the lowest objects; all transactions are got so much into system ; that we may, at a moment's warning, and to a farthing value, be informed at what rate any service may be supplied. No dealing is exempt from the possibility of fraud. But by a contract on a matter certain, you have this advantage—you are sure to know the utmost extent of the fraud to which you are subject. By a contract with a person in his own trade, you are sure you shall not suffer by want of skill. By a short contract you are sure of making it the interest of the contractor to exert that skill for the satisfaction of his employers.
CONVERSION. I SPEAK for myself: I do not wish any man to be converted from his sect. The distinctions which we have reformed from animosity to emulation, may be even useful to the cause of religion, By some mo
derate contention they keep alive zeal. Whereas people who change, except under strong conviction (a thing now rather rare) the religion of their early prejudices, especially if the conversion is brought about by any political machine, are very apt to degenerate into indifference, laxity, and often downright atheism.
In most questions of state there is a middle. There is something else than the mere alternative of absolute destruction, or unreformed existence. Spartam nactus es; hanc exorna. This is, in my opinion, a rule of profound sense, and ought never to depart from the mind of an honest reforiner. I cannot conceive how any man can have brought himself to that pitch of presumption, to consider his country as nothing but carte blanche, upon which he may scribble whatever he pleases. A man full of warm speculative benevolence may wish his society otherwise constituted than he finds it; but a good patriot, and a true politician, always considers how he shall make the most of the existing materials of his country. A disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman. Every thing else is vulgar in the conception, perilous in the execution.
There are moments in the fortune of states when particular men are called to make improvements by great mental exertion. In those moments, even when they seem to enjoy the confidence of their prince and country, and to be invested with full authority, they have not always apt instruments. A politician, to do great things, looks for a power, what our workmen call a purchase ; and if he finds that power, in politics as in mechanics he cannot be at a loss to
apply it. In the monastic institutions, in my opinion, was found a great power for the mechanism of politic benevolence. There were revenues with a public direction; there were men wholly set apart and dedicated to public purposes, without any other than public ties and public principles; men without the possibility of converting the estate of the community into a private furtune; men denied to self-interests, whose avarice is for some community; men to whom personal poverty is honour, and implicit obedience stands in the place of freedom. In vain shall a man look to the possibility of making such things when he wants them. The winds blow as they list. These institutions are the products of enthusiasm ; they are the instruments of wisdom. Wisdom cannot create materials; they are the gifts of nature or of chance ; her pride is in the use. The perennial existence of bodies corporate and their fortunes, are things particularly suited to a man who has long views; who meditates designs that require time in fashioning : and which propose duration when they are accomplished. He is not deserving to rank high, or even to be mentioned in the order of great statesmen, who, having obtained the command and direction of such a power as existed in the wealth, the discipline, and the habits of such corporations, as those which you have rashly destroyed, cannot find any way of converting it to the great and lasting benefit of his country. On the view of this subject a thousand uses suggest themselves to a contriving mind. To destroy any power, growing wild from the rank productive force of the human mind, is almost tantamount, in the moral world, to the destruction of the apparently active properties of bodies in the material. It would be like the attempt to destroy (if it were in our competence to destroy) the expansive force of fixed air