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politics IN AMERICA. 155

The mind of a country ought to rule it—ought, I mean, to have the ascendency, not in politics only, but in every species of influence; but that mind does not, and never did, and never will, reside in the mass. There are at any moment, in any nation—there are in our own a hundred minds that are possessed of more knowledge, of more profound wisdom, than all the other minds in it. Suppose, now, that neither you nor I, reader I have any claim to class ourselves with the elect hundred, and that we take our place with the mass. What now are we to say, in such a situation ? Must we say, that because there are a hundred men above us, and above all their countrymen, the entire interests of the country ought to be committed to this council of a hundred ? Not at all. And why not at all? Because we cannot implicitly trust such a council; since although it may have more intelligence than all of us, it may not have virtue equal to its intelligence. Hence arises the necessity of popular intervention, of popular suffrage, as a safeguard from oppression. Could we confide in the few, probably despotic institutions would be the best. That is to say, the government of one or a few, possessed of great experience, influenced by uniform principles, and having the confidence and long-continued attachment of the people, would be, simply considered, better than our constant rotation in office, our warying counsels, violent conflicts, and party legisla. tion. All those advantages, however, do we give up; all these evils do we incur, for the sake of security against oppression. This is the objectthis security—of all the circuitous and clumsy contrivances of a representative government. This is the object of general suffrage. It is security. It is not that universal suffrage best represents or expresses the mind that is in a country. It is not that the many are more sagacious than the few. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The people know nothing valuable about many things of which they pretend to judge, and of which their party prejudices make them judge and speak so confidently. Their ignorance, in fact, is opposed as a sort of foil to the weapons of sagacity. If the people could see clearly, as the few champions do that hold these weapons, and if they could, in consequence, be marshalled into parties, according to

that clear perception of selfish objects and party

interests, it would be far more dangerous than for masses of them blindly to dash against each other, as they do now—breaking their own force, and breaking in, with blundering interference, upon the ambitious plans of their leaders. I repeat it—the

POLITICS IN AMERICA, 157

popular mass, instead of possessing all the sagacity in the country, throws itself upon the very edge of a sagacity that it does not perceive: and the effect, I admit, is to clog and blunt the sword that might otherwise pierce the very bosom of the republic; but another effect, no less certain, is that the popular mass comes away wounded and bleeding from the contact. Does this assertion need any far-fetched proof? Do the people of our country need to have it proved to them, that they often are suffering from thrusts and blows given to them, in the sharp and reckless contests of the few. It may be thought that these facts and suggestions are at war with my leading observation— viz., that nothing is more to be dreaded, than the subjection of the best minds in the country to the worst—of the few to the many. But let it be observed, that this is a question about degrees. To a certain extent it is desirable that the many should have a control over the few. It is desirable that the many should influence the few, but it is not desirable that it should enslave them. Subserviency I protest against, not deference to the people. The latter is just and reasonable, and safe for both parties. The former, the subjection of a superior mind to popular control, only makes its

sagacity more dangerous. It is still none the less WOL. I.--0

selfish for the subjection, and none the less has its
selfish aims, and the people, by enslaving, have not
weakened, but only degraded it. And from the
action of such a mind, the people must expect
eventually to suffer more than from one held in
less, but lawful restraint.
It was not, however, to political relations that I
intended to apply the observation I have made on
the danger of such a subserviency. The same
thing exists, and is, perhaps, no less to be regretted,
in the religious world. It is a fact which can have
escaped none but the dullest observer, that through-
out our whole country, and in every particular
sect, the most cultivated and intelligent minds are
generally the most liberal minds. They are the
most liberal with regard to the comparative unim-
portance of the differences of religious opinion—
the most liberal in the extension of their charity to
differing sects—the most liberal, without being
guilty of undue license, in their reading, their con-
versation, their habits, and manners; the most
liberal in the construction they put upon what are
to be considered as lawful and proper recreations,
It is well known that there is such a class of persons
in every religious denomination, who look with dis-
trust or dislike upon all the extravagant religious

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RELIGION IN AMERICA. 159

measures and projects, and the fanatical opinions, that prevail around them. Now what is the position which this class of persons occupies in the religious community? It is actually an isolated position. It is constructively a position of subserviency. They exert no influence, they take no part, against those things of which they disapprove. They seek to pass quietly through the world. They take care to of. fend as little as possible, the religious prejudices of their times. They give up to these prejudices a part of their liberty; they use another part of it, as privately and unobtrusively as they can. They think that many things around them are wrong; nay, there are not a few among them, who sometimes express a great dread of the effects of the popular fanaticism; but they say as little, they do as little as possible, openly, to withstand this sweeping tide of popular opinions and practices. So far I conceive that they are wrong on their part. But then they are treated in a manner still more wrong. They are never consulted by the religious communities around them. Upon the very points where their advice is most needed— upon questions of doubtful religious wisdom and propriety, all resort to them is especially avoided. Thus, the influence of not a few of the best minds

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