« 前へ次へ »
their proper prey
Nations are wading deeper and deeper into an ocean of boundless debt. Public debts, which at first were a security to governments, by interesting many in the public tranquillity, are likely in their excess to become the means of their subversion. If governments provide for these debts by heavy impositions, they perish by becoming odious to the people. If they do not provide for them, they will be undone by the efforts of the most dangerous of all parties; I mean an extensivediscontented monied interest, injured and not destroyed. The men who compose this interest look for their security, in the first instance, to the fi-. delity of government; in the second, to its power. If they find the old governments effete, worn out, and
* « Si plures sunt ii quibus improbe datum eft, quam illi « quibus injuste ademptum eft, idcirco plus etiam valent? Non • enim numero hæc judicantur fed pondere. Quam autem “ habet æquitatem, ut agrum multis annis, aut etiam fæculis « ante poffeffum, qui nullum habuit habeat; qui autem ha“ buit amittat. Ac, propter hoc injuriæ genus, Lacedæmonii “ Lyfandrum Ephorum expulerunt: Agin regem (quod nun
quam antea apud eos acciderat) necaverunt: exque eo tem
pore tantæ discordiæ fecutæ funt, ut et tyranni exfifterint, et “ optimates exterminarentur, et preclarissime conftituta ref“ publica dilaberetur. Nec vero folum ipfa cecidit, fed etiam “ reliquam Græciam evertit contagionibus malorum, quæ a “ Lacedæmoniis profe&tæ manarunt latius.”—After speaking of the conduct of the model of true patriots, Aratus of Sycion, which was in a very different spirit, he says, " Sic par eft agere
cum civibus; non ut bis jam vidimus, haitam in foro ponere “ et bona civium voci subjicere præconis. At ille Græcus (id « quod fuit fapientis et præftantis viri) omnibus consulendum “ effe putavit : eaque eft fumma ratio et sapientia boni civis, « commoda civium non divellere, sed omnes eadem æquitate ro continere." Cic. Of. 1. 2.
with their springs relaxed, so as not to be of fufficient •vigour for their purposes, they may feek new ones that shall be poffeffed of more energy; and this energy will be derived, not from an acquisition of resources, but from a contempt of justice. Revolutions are favourable to confiscation; and it is impossible to know under what obnoxious names the next confiscations will be authorised. I am sure that the principles predominant in France extend to very many persons and descriptions of persons in all countries who think their innoxious indolence their security. This kind of innocence in proprietors may be argued into inutility; and inutility into an unfitness for their estates. Many parts of Europe are in open disorder. In many others there is a hollow murmuring under ground; a confused movement is felt, that threatens a general earthquake in the political world. Already confederacies and correspondences of the most extraordinary nature are forming, in several countries *. In such a state of things we ought to hold ourselves upon our guard. In all mutations (if mutations must be) the circumstance which will serve most to blunt the edge of their mischief, and to promote what good may be in them, is, that they should find us with our minds tenacious of justice, and tender of property.
But it will be argued, that this confiscation in France ought not to alarm other nations. They say it is not made from wanton rapacity; that it is a
* See two books intitled, Enige Originalschriften des Illuminatenordens.-System und Folgen des liluminatenordens.
great measure of national policy, adopted to remove an extensive. inveterate, superstitious mischief. It is with the greatest difficulty that I am able to separate policy from justice. Justice is itself the great standing policy of civil society; and any eminent departure from it, under any circumstances, dies under the suspicion of being no policy
When men are encouraged to go into a certain mode of life by the existing laws, and protected in that mode as in a lawful occupation—when they have accommodated all their ideas, and all their habits to it—when the law had long made their adherence to its rules a ground of reputation, and their departure from them a ground of disgrace and even of penalty--I am sure it is unjust in legiNature, by an arbitrary act, to offer a sudden violence to their minds and their feelings ; forcibly to degrade them from their state and condition, and to stigmatize with shame and infamy that character and those customs which before had been made the measure of their happiness and honour. If to this be added an expulsion from their habitations, and a confiscation of all their goods, I am not sagacious enough to discover how this despotic sport, made of the feelings, consciences, prejudices, and properties of men, can be discriminated from the rankest tyranny.
If the injustice of the course pursued in France be clear, the policy of the measure, that is, the public benefit to be expected from it, ought to be at least as evident, and at least as important. To a. man who acts under the influence of no passion, who
has nothing in view in his projects but the public good, a great difference will immediately strike him, between what policy would dictate on the original introduction of such institutions, and on a question of their total abolition, where they have cast their roots wide and deep, and where by long habit things more valuable than themselves are so adapted to them, and in a manner interwoven with them, that the one cannot be destroyed without notably impairing the other. He might be embarrassed, if the case were really such as sophisters represent it in their paltry style of debating. But in this, as in most questions of stare, there is a middle. There is something else than the mere alternative of absolute destruction, or unreformed existence Spartam nactus es ; banc exorna. This is, in my opinion, a rule of profound sense, and ought never to depart from the mind of an honest reformer. I cannot conceive how any man can have brought himself to that pitch of presumption, to consider his country as nothing but carte blanche, upon which he may scribble whatever he pleases. A man full of warm speculative benevolence may wish his society otherwise constituted than he finds it; but a good patriot, and a true politician, always considers how he shall make the most of the existing materials of his country. A disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman. Every thing else is vulgar in the conception, perilous in the execution.
There are moments in the fortune of states when particular men are called to make improve
ments by great mental exertion. In those moments, even when they seem to enjoy the confidence of their prince and country, and to be in. vested with full authority they have not always apt instruments. A politician, to do great things, looks for a power, what' our workmen call a pur'chase; and if he finds that power, in politics as in mechanics he cannot be at a loss to apply it. In the monastic institutions, in my opinion, was found a great power for the mechanism of politic benevolence. There were revenues with a public direction; there were men wholly set apart and dedicated to public purposes, without any other than public ties and public principles; men without the possibility of converting the estate of the community into a private fortune ; men denied to self-interests, whose avarice is for some community; men to whom personal poverty is honour, and implicit obedience stands in the place of freedom. In vain shall a man look to the possibility of making such things when he wants them. The winds blow as they list. These institutions are the products of enthusiasın; they are the instruments of wisdom. Wisdom cannot create materials; they are the gifts of nature or of chance ; her pride is in the use. The perennial existence of bodies corporate and their fortunes, are things particularly suited to a man who. has long views; who meditates designs that require time in fashioning; and which propose duration when they are accomplished. He is not deserving to rank high, or even to be mentioned in the order of great statelinen, who, having obtained the command and direction of such a power as