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chosen by the canton, choose to the department;: and the deputies of the department choose their deputies to the National Assembly. Here is a third barrier of a senseJess qualification. Every deputy to the National Assem. bly must pay, in direct contribution, to the value of a mark of silver. Of all these qualifying barriers we must think alike; that they are impotent to secure independence; strong only to destroy the rights of men.
In all this process, which, in its fundamental elements, affects to consider only population upon a principle of natural right, there is a manifest attention to property; which, however just and reasonable on other schemes, is on theirs perfectly ipsupportable.
When they come to their third basis, that of contribution, we find that they have m re completely lost sight of their rights of men.
This last basis rests entirely on pro. perty. A principle totally different from the equality of men, and utterly irreconcileable to it, is thereby admitted; but no sooner is this principle, which is a principle regarding property, admitted, than, as usual, it is subverted; and it is not subverted, as we shall presently see, to approximate the inequality of riches to the level of nature. The additional share in the third portion of representation, (a portion reserved exclusively for the higher contribution,) is made to regard the district only, and not the individuals in it who pay. It is easy to perceive, by the course of their reasonings, how much they were embarrassed by their contradictory ideas of the rights of men and the privileges of riches. The committee of constitution do as good as admit that they are wholly irreconcileable. “ The relation, with regard to the coutributions, is, without doubt, null, (say they,) when the question is on the balance of the political rights as be. tween individual and judividual; without which personal equality would be destroyed, and an aristocracy of the rich would be established. But this inconvenience en. tirely disappears when the proportional relation of the contribution is only considered in the great masses, and is. solely between province and province; it serves in that case only to form a just reciprocal proportion between the cities, without affecting the personal rights of the citizens."
Here the principle of contribution, as taken between man and man, is reprobated as null, and destructive to equality; and as pernicious too; because it leads to the establishment of an aristocracy of the rich. However, it must not be abandoned. And the way of getting rid of the difficulty is to establish the inequality as between department nd department, leaving all the individuals in cách department upon an exact par. Observe, that this parity between individuals had been before destroyed when the qualifications within the departments were settled; nor does it seem a matter of great importance whether the equality of men be injured by masses or individually. An individual is not of the sanie importance in a mass represented by a few, as in a mass represented by many. It would be too much to tell a man jealous of his equality, that the elector has the same franchise who votes for three members as he who votes for ten.
Now take it in the other point of view, and suppose their principle of representation according to contribution, that is according to riches, to be well founded, and tą be a necessary basis for the republie, how have they provided for the rich by giving to the district, that is to say, to the poor in the district of canton and commune, who are the majority, the power of making an additional number of members ou account of the superior contribution of the wealthy ? Suppose one man (it is an easy supposition) to contribute ten times more than ten of his neighbours. For this contribution he has one vote out of ten. The poor outvote him by nine voices in virtue of his superior contribution, for (say) ten members, instead of out-voting him for only one member. Why are the rich complimented with an aristocratic preference, whxh they can never feel either as a gratification to pride, or as a security to fortune? The rich indeed require an additional security from the dangers to which they are exposed when a popular
power is prevalent; but it is impossible to divine, on this system of unequal masses, how they are protected; because the aristocratic mass is generated from democratie principles; and the prevalence in the general representation has no sort of connection with those on account of whose property this superiority is given. If the contrivers. of this scheme meaut any sort of favour to the rich in consequence of their contribution, they ouglit to have conferred the privilege either on the individual rich, or on some class formed of rich persons; because the contest between the rich and the poor is not a struggle between corporation and corporation, but a contest between men and men; a competition not between districts but between descriptions. It would answer its purpose better if the scheme was inverted; that the votes of the masses were rendered equal; and that the votes within each mass were proportioned to property. In any other tight I see nothing but danger from the inequality of the masses.
If indeed the masses were to provide for the general treasury by distinct contingents, and that the revenue had not (as it has) many impositions running through the whole, which affect men individually, and not corporately, and which, by their nature, confound all territorial limits, something might be said for the basis of contribution as founded on masses. But of all things, this representation, to be measured by contribution, is the most difficult to settle upon principles of equity, in a country which considers its distriets as members of an whole. For a great city, such as Bourdeaux or Paris, appears to pay a vast body of duties, almost out of all assignable proportion to other places, and its mass is considered accordingly. But are these cities the true contributors in that proportion No. The consumers of the commodities imported into Bourdeaux, who are scattered through all France, pay the import duties of Bourdeaux. The produce of the vintage in Guienne and Languedoc gives to that city the means of its contribution growing out of an export commerce. The landholders who spend their estates in Paris, and are thereby the creators of that city, contribute for Paris from the provinces out of which their revenues arise.
If in equity this basis of contribution, as locally ascertained by masses, be inequitable, it is impolitic too. If it be one of the objects to preserve the weak from being crushed by the strong (as in all society undoubtedly it is) how are the smaller and poorer of these masses to be saved from the tyranny of the more wealthy? Is it by adding to their means of oppressing them? When we come to a balance of representation between corporate bodies, pro
vincial interests, emulations, and jealousies are full as likely to arise among them as among individuals; and their divisions are likely to produce much hotter dissension, and something leading much more nearly to a war.
To compare together the three bases, not on their political reason, but on the ideas on which the assembly works, and to try its consistency with itself, we cannot avoid observing, that the principle which the committee call the basis of population, does not begin to operate from the same point with the two other principles called the basis of territory and of contribution, which are both of an aristocratic nature. The consequence is, that where all three begin to operate together, there is the most absurd inequality produced by the operation of the former on the two latter principles. Every canton contains four square leagues, and is estimated to contain on the average, 4,000 inhabitants, or 680 voters in the primary assemblies, which vary in numbers with the population of the canton, and send one deputy to the commune for every 200 voters. Nine cantons make a commune,
Now let us take a canton containing a sea-port town of trade, or a great manufacturing town. Let us suppose the population of this canton to be 12,700 inhabitants, or 2,193 voters, forming three primary assemblies, and sending ten deputies to the commune.
Oppose to this one canton two others of the remaining eight in the same commune. These we may suppose to have their fair population of 4,000 inhabitants, and 680 voters each, or 8,000 inhabitants and 1,360 voters, both together. These will form only two primary assemblies, and send only six deputies to the commune.
When the assembly of the commune comes to vote on the basis of territory, which principle is first admitted to operate in that assembly, the single canton which has half the territory of the other two, will have ten voices to six in the election of three deputies to the assembly of the department, chosen on the express ground of a representation of territory:
This inequality, striking as it is, will be yet highly aggravated, if we suppose, as we fairly may, the several other cantons of the commune to fall proportionably short of the average population, as much as the priucipal caue ton exceeds it. Now, as to the basis of contribution, which also is a principle admitted first to operate in the assembly of the commune. Let us again take one canton, such as is stated above. If the whole of the direct contributions paid by a great trading or manufacturing town be divided equally among the inhabitants, each individual will be found to pay much more than an individual living in the country according to the same average. The whole paid by the inhabitants of the former will be more than the whole paid by the inhabitants of the latter-we may fairly assume one-third more. Then the 12,700 inhabitants, or 2,193 voters of the canton will pay as much as 19,059 inhabitants, or 3,289 voters of the other cantons, which are nearly the estimated proportion of inhabitants and voters of five other cantons. Now the 2,193 voters will, as I before said, send only ten deputies to the assembly; the 3,289 voters will send sixteen. Thus, for an equal share in the contribution of the whole commune, there will be a difference of sixteen voices to ten in voting for deputies to be chosen on the principle of representing the general contribution of the whole commune.
By the same mode of computation we shall find 15,875, inhabitants, or 2,741 voters of the other cantons, who pay one sixth less to the contribution of the whole commune, will have three voices more than the 12,700 inhabitants, or 2,193 voters of the onę canton.
Such is the fantastical and unjust inequality between mass aud mass, in this curious repartition of the rights of representation arising out of territory and contribution. The'qnalifications which these confer are in truth negative qualifications, that give a right in an inverse proportion to the possession of them.
In this whole contrivance of the three bases, consider it in any light you please, I do not see a variety of objects, reconciled in one consistent whole, but several contradictory principles reluctantly and irreconcileably brought and held together by you philosophers, like wild beasts shut up in a cage, to claw and bite each other to their mutual destruction.
I am afraid I have gone too far into their way of considering the formation of a constitution. They have much, but bad, metaphysics ; much, but bad, geometry; much,