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examples of considerable democracies. The antients were better acquainted with them. Not being wholly unread in the authors, who had seen the most of those constitutions, and who best understood them, I cannot help concurring with their opinion, that an absolute democracy, no more than absolute monarchy, is to be reckoned among the legitimate forms of government. They think it rather the corruption and degeneracy, than the sound constitution of a republic. If I recollect rightly, Aristotle observes, that a democracy has many striking points of resemblance with a tyranny*. Of this I am certain, that in a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority, whenever strong divisions prevail in that kind of polity, as they often must; and that oppression of the minority will extend to far greater numbers, and
* When I wrote this I quoted from memory, after many years had elapsed from my reading the passage. A learned friend has found it, and it is as follows:
Το ήθος το αυτο, και αμφω δεσποτικα των βελτιονων, και τα ψηφισματα, ωσπερ εκει τα επιταγματα και ο δημαγωγος και ο κολαξ, οι αυτοί και αναλογον και μαλισα εκατεροι σαρ εκατερους ισχυεσιν, οι μεν κολακες παρα τυραννοις, οι δε δημαγωγοι σαρα τους δημοις τοις τοιιτοις.
· The ethical character is the same; both exercise de• spotism over the better class of citizens; and decrees are " in the one, what ordinances and arrets are in the other : • the 'demagogue too, and the court favourite, are not un. • frequently the same identical men, and always bear a • close analogy; and these have the principal power, each ' in their respective forms of government, favourites with « the absolute monarch, and demagogues with a people
such as I have described.' Arist. Politic. lib. iv. cap. 4.
will be carried on with much greater fury, than can almost ever be apprehended from the dominion of a single sceptre. In such a popular persecution, individual sufferers are in a much more deplorable condition than in any other. Under a crnel prince they have the balmy compassion of mankind to assuage the smart of their wounds; they have the plaudits of the people to animate their generous constancy under their sufferings : but those who are subjected to wrong under multitudes, are deprived of all external consolation. They seem deserted by mankind; overpowered by a conspiracy of their whole species.
The democratic commonwealth is the foodful nurse of ambition. Under the other forms it meets with many restraints. Whenever, in states which have had a democratic basis, the legislators have attempted to put restraints upon ambition, their methods were as violent, as in the end they were ineffectual; as violent indeed as any the most jealous despotism could invent. The ostracism could not very long save itself, and much less the state which it was meant to guard, from the attempts of ambition, one of the natural inbred incurable distempers of a powerful democracy.
DEPOSITION OF SOVEREIGNS. The ceremony of cashiering kings, of which these gentlemen talk so much at their ease, can rarely, if ever, be performed without force. It then becomes a case of war, and not of constitution. Laws are commanded to hold their tongues amongst arms; and tribunals fall to the ground with the peace they are no longer able to uphold. The revolution of 1688 was obtained by a just war, in the only case in which any war, and much more a civil war, can be just. “ Justa bella quibus necessaria." The question of dethroning, or, if these gentlemen like the phrase better, “ cashiering kings,” will always be, as it has always been, an extraordinary question of state, and wholly out of the law; a question (like all other questions of state) of dispositions, and of means, and of probable consequences, rather than of positive rights. As it was not made for common abuses, so it is not to he agitated by cominon minds. The speculative line of demarcation, where obedience ought to end, and resistance must begin, is faint, obscure, and not easily definable. It is not a single act, or a single event, which determines it. Governments must be abused and deranged indeed, before it can be thought of; and the prospect of the future must be as bad as the experience of the past. When things are in that lamentable condition, the nature of the disease is to indicate the remedy to those whom nature has qualified to administer in extremities this critical, ambiguous, bitter potion to a disteinpered state. Times and occasions, and provocations, will teach their own lessons. The wise will determine from the gravity of the case; the irritable from sensibility to oppression ; the high minded from disdain and indignation at abusive power in unworthy hands; the brave and bold from the love of honourable danger in a generous cause : but, with or without right, a revolution will be the very last resource of the thinking and the good.
It is the nature of despotism to abhor power any means but its own momentary pleasure; and toannihilate all intermediate situations between boundless strength on its own part, and total debility on the part of the people.
DIFFICULTY. DIFFICULTY is a severe instructor, set over us by the supreme ordinance of a parental guardian and legislator, who knows us better that we know ourselves, as he loves us better too. Pater ipse colendi haud facilem esse viam voluit. He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper. This amicable conflict with difficulty obliges us to an intimate acquaintance with our object, and compels us to consider it in all its relations. It will not suffer us to be superficial. It is the want of nerves of understanding for such a task ; it is the degenerate fondness for trickling short cuts, and little fallacious facilities, that has in so many parts of the world created governments with ar-bitrary powers.
DIFFIDENCE. Oh! this modesty in time and place is a charming virtue, and the grace of all other virtues. But it is sometimes the worst enemy they have.
DIGNITY AND ENERGY IN POLITICS.
MAGNANIMITY in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom ; and a great empire and little minds go ill together.
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If we make ourselves too little for the sphere of our duty ; if, on the contrary, we do not stretch and expand our minds to the compass of their object, be well assured, that every thing about us will dwindle by degrees, until at length our concerns are shrunk to the dimensions of our minds. It is not a predilection to mean, sordid, home-bred cares, that will avert the consequences of a false estimation of our interest, or prevent the shameful dilapidation into which a great empire must fall, by mean reparations upon mighty ruins.
It should stand as a fundamental maxim, that no vulgar precaution ought to be employed in the cure of evils, which are closely connected with the cause of our prosperity.
If we meet this dreadful and portentous energy, restrained by no consideration of God or man, that is always vigilant, always on the attack, that allows itself no repose, and suffers none to rest an hour with impunity; if we meet this energy with poor commonplace proceeding, with trivial maxims, paltry old saws, with doubts, fears and suspicions, with a languid, uncertain hesitation, with a formal official spirit, which is turned aside by every obstacle from its purpose, and which never sees a difficulty but to yield to it, or at best to evade it; down we go to the bottom of the abyss—and nothing short of Omnipotence can
We must meet a vicious and distempered energy with a manly and rational vigour. As virtue is limited in its resources—we are doubly bound to use all that, in the circle drawn about us by our morals, we are able to command.
Never was there a jar or discord, between genuine sentiment and sound policy. Never, no, never, did nature say one thing and wisdom say another. Nor are sentiments of elevation in themselves turgid and unnatural. Nature is never more truly herself, than in her grandest forms. The Apollo of Belvedere (if the universal robber has yet left him at Belvedere) is as much in nature, as any figure from the pencil of