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The British constitution may have its advantages pointed out to wise and reflecting minds; but it is of too high an order of excellence to be adapted to those which are common. It takes in too many views, it makes too many combinations, to be so much as comprehended by shallow and superficial understandings. Profound thinkers will know it in its reason and spirit. The less enquiring will recognize it in their feelings and their experience. They will thank God they have a standard, which, in the most essential point of this great concern, will put them on a par with the most wise and knowing.
NEW CONSTITUTIONS. OLD establishments are tried by their effects. If the people are happy, united, wealthy, and powerful, we presume the rest. We conclude that to be good from whence good is derived. In old establishnients various correctives have been found for their aberrations from theory. Indeed they are the results of various necessities and expediences. They are not often constructed after any theory; theories are rather drawn from them. In them we often see the end best obtained, where the means seem not perfectly reconcileable to what we may fancy was the original scheme. The means taught by experience may be better suited to political ends than those contrived in the original project. They again re-act upon the primitive constitution, and sometimes improve the design itself from which they seem to have departed. I think all this might be curiously exemplified in the British constitution. At worst, the errors and deviations of every kind in reckoning are found and computed, and the ship proceeds in her course. This is the case of old establishments; but in a new and merely theoretic system, it is expected that every contrivance shall appear, on the face of it, to answer its ends ; especially where the projectors are no way embarrassed with an endeavour to accommodate the new building to an old one, either in the walls or on the foundations.
CONDUCT OF CONSTITUENTS TO THEIR MEMBERS. Look, gentlemen, to the whole tenour of your member's conduct. Try whether his ambition or his avarice have justled him out of the strait line of duty; or whether that grand foe of the offices of active life, that master-vice in men of business, a degenerate and inglorious sloth, has made him flag and languish in his course? This is the object of our enquiry. If our member's conduct can bear this touch, mark it for sterling. He may have fallen into errors; he must have faults; but our error is greater, and our fault is radically ruinous to ourselves, if we do not bear, if we do not even applaud, the whole compound and mixed mass of such a character. Not to act thus is folly ; I had almost said it is impiety. He censures God, who quarrels with the imperfections of man.
Gentlemen, we must not be peevish with those who serve the people. For none will serve us whilst there is a court to serve, but those who are of a nice and jealous honour. They who think every thing, in comparison of that honour, to be dust and ashes, will not bear to have it soiled and impaired by those, for whose sake they make a thousand sacrifices to preserve it immaculate and whole. We shall either drive such men from the public stage, or we shall send them to the court for protection: where, if they must sacrifice their reputation, they will at least secure their interest. Depend upon it, that the lovers of freedom will be
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 statesnien. 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 or enquiry, that any sense of the evils produced by their projects bas 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 hidetheir 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.
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 inaking 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