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thus a miserable mistaken invention of artificial science, operates to change a civil into a criminal judgment, and to scourge misfortune or indiscretion with a punishment which the law does not inflict on the greatest crimes.
The next fault is, that the inflicting of that punishment is not on the opinion of an equal and public judge ; but is referred to the arbitrary discretion of a private, nay interested, and irritated, individual. He, who formally is, and substantially ought to be, the judge, is in reality no more than ministerial, a mere executive instrument of a private man, who is at once judge and party. Every idea of judicial order is subverted by this procedure. If the insolvency be no crime, why is it punished with arbitrary imprison. ment? Ifit be a crime, why is it delivered into private. hands to pardon without discretion, or to punish without mercy and without measure ?
An offensive alliance, in which union is preserved, by common efforts in common dangers, against a common active enemy, may preserve its consistency, and may produce for a given time, some considerable effect; though this is not easy, and for any very long period, can hardly be expected. But a defensive alliance, formed of long discordant interests, with innumerable discussions existing, having no one pointed object to which it is directed, which is to be held together with an unremitted vigilance, as watchful in peace as in war, is so evidently impossible, is such a chimera, is so contrary to human nature, and the course of human affairs, that I am persuaded no person in his senses, except those whose country, religion, and sovereign, are deposited in the French funds, could dream of it. There is not the slightest
petty boundary suit, no difference between a family arrangement, no sort of misunderstanding, or cross purpose between the pride and etiquette of courts, that would not entirely disjoint this sort of alliance, and render it as futile in its effects, as it is feeble in its principle.
DEFENSIVE WAR. It is in the nature of all defensive measures to be sharp and vigorous under the impressions of the first alarm, and to relax by degrees ; until at length the danger, by not operating instantly, comes to appear as a false alarm; so much so that the next menacing appearance will look less formidable, and will be less provided against. But to those who are on the offensive it is not necessary to be always alert. Possibly it is more their interest not to be so. For their unforeseen attacks contribute to their success.
Alas! the few of us, who have protracted life in any measure near to the extreme limits of our short period, have been condemned to see strange things; new systems of policy, new principles, and not only new men, but what might appear a new species of men. I believe that any person who was of age to take a part in public affairs forty years ago (if the intermediate space of time were expunged from his memory) would hardly credit his senses, when he should hear from the highest authority, that an army of two hundred thousand men was kept up in this island, and that in the neighbouring island there were at least fourscore thousand more. But when he had recovered from his surprise on being told of this army, which has not its parallel, what must be his astonishment to be told again, that this mighty force was
kept up for the mere purpose of an inert and passive defence, and that, in its far greater part, it was disabled by its constitution and very essence, from defending us against an enemy by any one preventive stroke, or any one operation of active hostility? What must his reflections be, on learning further, that a fleet of five hundred men of war, the best appointed, and to the full as ably commanded as this country ever had upon the sea, was for the greater part enployed in carrying on the same system of unenterprising defence? What must be the sentiments and feelings of one, who remembers the former energy of England, when he is given to understand, that these two islands, with their extensive, and every where vulnerable coast, should be considered as a garrisoned sea-town; what would such a man, what would any man think, if the garrison of so strange a fortress should be such, and so feebly commanded, as never to make a sally; and that, contrary to all which has hitherto been seen in war, an infinitely inferior army, with the shattered relics of an alınost annihilated navy, ill found, and ill managed, may with safety besiege this superior garrison, and without bazarding the life of a man, ruin the place, merely by the menaces and false appearances of an attack ? Indeed, indeed, my dear friend, I look upon this matter of our defensive system as much the most important of all considerations at this moment.
DEFINITIONS. I HAVE no great opinion of a definition, the celebrated remedy for the cure of this disorder. For when we define, we seem in danger of circumscribing nature within the bounds of our own notions, which we often take up by hazard, or embrace on trust, or form out of a limited and partial consideration of the object before us, instead of extending our ideas to take in all that nature comprehends, according to her manner of combining. We are limited in our enquiry by the strict laws to which we have submitted at our setting out.
-Circa vilem patulumque morabimur orbem, Unde pudor proferre pedem vetat aut operis lex. A definition may be very exact, and yet go but a very little way towards informing us of the nature of the thing defined.
GREAT discontents frequently arise in the best-constituted governments, from causes which no human
wisdom can foresee, and no human power can prei vent. They occur at uncertain periods, but at
periods which are not commonly far asunder.Governments of all kinds are administered only ,by men ; and great mistakes, tending to inflame these discontents, may concur. The indecision of those who happen to rule at the critical time, their supine neglect, or their precipitate and ill-judged attention, may aggravate the public misfortunes. In such a state of things, the principles, now only sown, will shoot out and vegetate in full luxuriance. In such circumstances the minds of the people become sore and ulcerated. They are put out of humour with all public men, and all public parties ; they are fatigued with their dissensions; they are irritated at their coalitions ; they are made easily to believe, (what much pains are taken to make them believe) that all oppositions are factious, and all courtiers base and servile. From their disgust at men, they are soon led to quarrel with their frame of government, which they presume gives nourishment to the vices, real or
supposed, of those who administer in it. Mistaking malignity for sagacity, they are soon led to cast off all hope from a good administration of affairs, and come to think that all reformation depends, not on a change of actors, but upon an alteration in the machinery. Then will be felt the full effect of encouraging doctrines which tend to make the citizens despise their constitution. Then will be felt the plenitude of the mischief of teaching the people to believe, that all antient institutions are the results of ignorance; and that all prescriptive government is in its nature usurpation. Then will be felt, in all its energy, the danger of encouraging a spirit of litigation in persons of that immature and imperfect state of knowledge which serves to render them susceptible of doubts but incapable of their solution. Then will be felt, in all its aggravation, the pernicious consequence of destroying all docility in the minds of those who are not formed for finding their own way in the labyrinths of political theory, and are made to reject the clue and to disdain the guide. Then will be felt, and too late will be acknowledged, the ruin which follows the disjoining of religion from the state; the separation of morality from policy; and the giving conscience no concern and no coactive or coercive force in the most material of all the social ties, the principle of our obligations to government.
I REPROBATE no form of government merely upon abstract principles. There may be situations in which the purely democratic form will become necessary. There may be some (very few, and very particularly circumstanced) where it would be clearly desirable. This I do not take to be the case of France, or of any other great country. Until now, we have seen no