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deputies to the National Assembly. Here is a third barrier of a senseless qualification. Every deputy to the national assembly 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 unsupportable.
When they come to their third basis, that of Contribution, we find that they have more completely lost sight of their rights of men. This last basis rests entirely on property. A principle totally different from the equality of men, and utterly irreconcileable to it, is thereby admitted li 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 contributions, « is without doubt null (say they) when the « question is on the balance of the political rights “ as between individual and individual; without “ which personal equality would be destroyed, and
an aristocracy of the rich would be established. " But this inconvenience entirely 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 ben “ tween 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 and department, leaving all the individuals in each department upon an exact par. Observe, that this parity between individuals had been before destroy.., ed 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 same 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 supS 2
pose their principle of representation according to contribution, that is, according to riches, to be well sounded, and to be a necessary basis for the republic, 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 on 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, which 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 democratic principles; and the prevalence in the general representation has no fort of connection with those on account of whose property this superiority is given. If the contrivers of this scheme meant any sort of favour to the rich in consequence of their contributions they ought 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 rotes of the masses were rendered equal; and that the votes within each masss were proportioned to property. In any other light, 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 districts 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 give 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, provincial interests, emulations, and jealousies are full as likely to arise among them as among individuals; and their divisions are likely to produce much hotter dissention, 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 comınittee call the basis of population, does not begin to operate from the same point with the two other principles called the bases 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