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ney is to be laid down. A period of twelve years is to be given for the payment of the rest. The philosophic purchasers are therefore, on payment of a fort of fine, to be put instantly into possession of the etate. It becomes in some respects a fort of gift to them; to be held on the feudal tenure of zeal to the new establishment. This project is evidently to let in a body of purchasers without money. The consequence will be, that these purchasers, or rather
pay, not only from the rents as they accrue, which might as well be received by the state, but from the spoil of the materials of buildings, from waste in woods, and from whatever money, by hands habituated to the gripings of usury, they can wring from the miserable peasant. He is to be delivered over to the mercenary and arbitrary discretion of men, who will be stimulated to every species of extortion by the growing demands on the growing profits of an estate held under the precarious settlement of a new political system.
When all the frauds, impostures, violences, rapines, burnings, murders, confiscations, compulsory paper currencies, and every description of tyranny and cruelty employed to bring about and to uphold this revolution, have their natural effect, that is, to shock the moral sentiments of all virtuous and sober minds, the abettors of this philosophic system immediately strain their throats in a declaination against the old monarchial government of France. When they have rendered that deposed power sufficiently black,
they then proceed in argument, as if all those who disapprove of their new abuses, must of course be partizans of the old ; that those who reprobate their crude and violent schemes of liberty ought to be treated as advocates for servitude. I admit that their necessities do compel them to this base and contemptible fraud. "Nothing can reconcile men to their proceedings and projects but the supposition that there is no third option between them, and some tyranny as odious as can be furnished by the records of history, or by the inven tion of poets. This prattling of theirs hardly deserves the name of sophistry. It is nothing but plain impudence. Have these gentlemen never heard, in the whole circle of the worlds of theory and practice, of any thing between the despor tism of the monarch and the despotism of the multitude ? Have they never heard of a monarchy directed by laws, controlled and balanced by the great hereditary wealth and hereditary dignity of a nation; and both again controlled by a judicious check from the reason and feeling of the people at large acting by a suitable and permanent organ? Is it then imposible that a man may be found who, without criminal ill intention, for pitiable absurdity, shall prefer such a mixed and tempered government to either of the extremes ; and who' may repute that nation to be destitute of all wisdom and of all virtue, which, having hr its choice to obtain such a government with ease, or rather to confirm it when actually pojefred, · thought proper to commit a thousand crimes, and
to subject their country to a thousand evils, in ore der to avoid it? Is it then a truth so universally acknowledged, that a pure democracy is the only tolerable form into which human society, can be thrown, that a man is not permitted to hesitate about its merits, without the suspicion of being a friend to tyranny, that is, of being a foe to mankind?
I do not know under what description to class the present ruling authority in France. It affects to be a pure democracy, though I think it in a direct train of becoming shortly a mischievous and ignoble oligarchy. But for the present I admit it to be a contrivance of the nature and effect of what it pretends to. 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 desireable. This I do not take to be the case of France, or of any other great country. Until now, we have seen no 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 observesa
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 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 cruel 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 consola
* 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 19G- το, αυτό, και άμφω δεσποτικά των βελτιόνων, και τα ψηφίσματα, ώσσερ εκεί τα επιταγμαία και ο δημαγωγG- και ο κόλαξ, οι αυτοί και ανάλογον και μάλιςα εκάτεροι παρ εκατέροις ισχύεσιν, οι μεν κόλακες παρά τυράννους, οι δε δημαγωγοί παρά τοις δήμοις τοις τοιέτοις.
« The ethical character is the same; both exercise despotism over the better class of citizens; and decrees are in the one, • what ordinances and arrêts are in the other : the demagogue • too, and the court favourite, are not unfrequently 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 de
magogues, with a people such as I have described.' Arist. Politic. lib. iv. cap. 4.
tion. They seem deserted by mankind ; overpowered by a conspiracy of their whole species.
But admitting democracy not to have that inevitable tendency to party tyranny, which I suppose it to have, and admitting it to possess as much good in it when unmixed, as I am sure it possesses when compounded with other forms; does monarchy, on its part, contain nothing at all to recommend it? I do not often quote Boling broke, nor have his works in general, left any perinanent impression on my mind. He is a presumptuous and a superficial writer. But he has one observation, which in my opinion, is not without depth and solidity. He says, that he prefers a monarchy to other governments; because you can better ingraft any description of republic on a monarchy than any thing of monarchy upon the republican forms. I think him perfectly in the right. The fact is so historically; and it agrees well with the speculation. ** I know how easy a topic it is to dwell on the faults of departed greatness. By a revolution in the state, the fawning sycophant of yesterday, is converted into the austere critic of the present hour. But steady independant minds, when they have an object of so serious a concern to mankind as government, under their contemplation, will disdain to assume the part of satirists and declaimers. They will judge of human institutions as they do of human characters. They will sort out the good from the evil, which is mixed in mortal institutions as it is in mortal men.
Your governmentin France, though usually, and I think justly, reputed the best of the unqualified