Imágenes de páginas

“ Our thoughtless sex is caught by outward form And empty noise, and loves itself in man.”

This is a source of infinite calamities to the ses, a it frequently joins them to men, who in their own thoughts are as fine creatures as themselves; or if they chance to be good-humoured, serve only to dissipate their fortunes, inflame their follies, and aggravate their indiscretions.

The same female levity is no less fatal to them after marriage than before: it represents to their imaginations the faithful prudent husband as an honest tractable and domestic animal; and turns their thoughts upon the fine gay gentleman that laughs, sings, and dresses so much more agreeably.

As this irregular vivacity of temper leads astray the hearts of ordinary women in the choice of their lovers and the treatment of their husbands, it operates with the same pernicious infidence towards their children, who are taught to accomplish themselves in all those sublime perfections that appear captivating in the eye of their mother. She admires in her son what she loved in her gallant; and by that means contributes al that she can to perpetuate herself in a worthless pregeny.

The younger Taustina was a lively instance of this sort of women. Notwitstanding she was married Marcus Aurelius, one of the greatest, wisest, and be of the Roman emperors, she thought a common gladiator mach the prettier gentleman ; and had taken sach care to accomplish her son Commodus according to her own notions of a fine man, that when he ascender the throne of his father, he became the most foolish and abandoned tyrant that was ever placed at the head of the Roman empire, signalizing himself in nothing but the fighting of prizes, and knocking out mea? brains. As he had no taste of true glory, in several medals and statues which are still extant of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

him, equipped like an Hercules with a club and a lion's skin.

I have been led into this speculation by the characters I have heard of a country gentleman and his lady, who do not live many miles from Sir Roger. The wife is an old coquette, that is always hankering after the diversions of the town; the busband a morose rustic, that frowns and frets at the name of it. The wife is over-run with affectation, the husband sunk into brutality: the lady cannot bear the noise of the larks and nightingales, hates your tedious summer days, and is sick at the sight of shady woods and purling streams; the husband wonders how any one can be pleased with the fooleries of plays and operas, and rails from morning to night at essenced fops and tawdry cour. tiers. The children are educated in these different no. tions of their parents. The sons follow the father about his grounds, while the daughters read volumes of love-letters and romances to their mother. By this means it comes to pass, that the girls look upon their father as a clown, and the boys think their mother no better than she should be.

How different are the lives of Aristus and Aspasia ? The innocent vivacity of the one is tempered and composed by the cheerful gravity of the other. The wife grows wise by the discourses of the husband, and the husband good-humoured by the conversations of the wife. Aristus would not be so amiable were it not for his Aspasia, nor Aspasia so much esteemed were it not for ber Aristus. Their virtues are blended in their children, and diffuse through the whole family a perpetual spirit of benevolence, complacency, and sa.



[ocr errors]


skere they are the a interest Les but little Base person. B iz: for their lib. Beland

BRITISH CONSTITUTION. Ω φιλτατη γη μητερ, ως σεμνον σφοδρα Τοις νεν έχεσι κλημα;



de hands of

[ocr errors]

"poriding for

[ocr errors]

people; or in


reason and

wat one part of the

there be buto than a tyranny a casting voic allowed up bs bosarily arise bet

inconvenience Cause too muc

in Polybi me, without a


Dear native land, how do the good and wise

Thy happy clime and countless blessings prize!
I LOOK upon it as a peculiar happiness, that we are people that

I to choose of what religion I would be, and under
what government I would live, I should most celo
tainly give the preference to that form of religion
government wbich is established in my own conuiry,
In this point I think I am determined by
conviction ; but if I shall be told that I am actuated
by prejudice, I am sure it is an honest prejudice, it is
a prejudice that arises from the love of my
and therefore such an one as I will always indulge.
I design this as an essay upon the civil part of our
constitution, having often entertained myself with rele Ile British constitu
flections on this subject, which I bave not met with in
other writers.
reasonable, which is most conformable to the equality

That form of government appears to me the most that we find in human nature, provided it be consist ent with pablic peace and tranquillity

. This is what may properly be called Liberty, which exempts man from subjection to another so far as the order and economy of government will permit. as they all share one common nature; if it only to it, I thin

Liberty should reach every individual of a peoples Retament. An spreads among particular branches, there had berier be uone at all, since such a liberty only aggravates the misfortune of those who are deprived of it, by selling before them a disagreeable subject of comparison.

This liberty is best preserved, where the legislative

bahe Roman. Farinence to a ka branches, the

had doubtlese the Roman con Presented the ki bines the people the Roman team and natur

[ocr errors]

1 sot the force of

[ocr errors]

power is lodged in several persons, especially if those persons are of different ranks and interests ; for where they are of the same rank, and consequently have an interest to manage peculiar to that rank, it Aliffers but little from a despotical government in a single person. But the greatest security a people can have for their liberty, is when the legislative power is in the hands of persons so happily distinguished, that by providing for the particular interests of their seve. ral ranks, they are providing for the whole body of the people; or in other words, when there is no part of the people that has not a common interest with at least one part of the legislators.

If there be but one body of legislators, it is no bet. ter than a tyranny ; if there are only two, there will want a casting voice, and one of them must at length be swallowed up by disputes and contentions that will necessarily arise between them. Four would have the same inconvenience as two, and a greater number would cause too much confusion. I could never read a passage in Polybius, and another in Cicero, to this purpose, without a secret pleasure in applying it to the British constitution, which it suits much better than the Roman. Both these great authors give the pre-eminence to a mixed government consisting of three branches, the regal, the noble, and the popular.

hey had donbtless in their thoughts the constitution of the Roman commonwealth, in which the consul represented the king, the sepate the nobles, and the tribunes the people. This division of the three pow. ers in the Roman constitution was by no means so distinct and natural, as it is in the English form of government. Among several objections that might be made to it, I think the chief are those that affect the consular power, which had only the ornaments with out the force of the regal authority. Their number had not a casting voice in it; for which reason, if one did not chance to be employed abroad, while the olher sat at home, the public business was sometimes at a stand, while the consuls pulled two different ways in it. Besides, I do not find that the consuls bad ever a negative voice in the passing of a law, or de cree of senate, so that indeed they were rather the chief body of the nobility, or the first ministers of state, than a distinct branch of the sovereignty, in which none can be looked upon as a part, who are not a part of the legislature. Had the consuls been invested with the regal authority to as great a degree as our monarchs, there would never have been any occasions for a dictatorship, which had in it the power of all the three orders, and ended in the subversion of the whole constitution.

Such an history as that of Saetonius, which gives as a succession of absolute princes, is to me an upapa swerable argument against despotic power.

Where the prince is a man of wisdom and virtue, it is indeed happy for his people that he is absolute; but since in the common run of mankind, for one that is wise and good you find ten of a contrary character, it is very its public happiness or misery depend on the virtues or dangerous for a nation to stand to its chance, or to have vices of a single person. Look into the history I have mentioned, or into any series of absolute princes, bow many tyrants must you read through, before you come to an enperor that is supportable.

But this is not all; an honest private man often grows cruel and abandon-ghts all it b ed, when converted into an absolute prince. Give a man power of doing what he pleases with impanity, you extinguish his fear, and consequently overturn in him one of the great pillars of morality. This too we find confirmed by matter of fact. How many hopeful heirs apparent to great empires, when in the possession of them, have become such monsters of last and cru elty as are a reproach to human nature? earth like that in Heaven, which, say they, is altop

Some tell us we ought to make our governments on ther monarchical and unlimited. Was man like bis Creator in goodness and justice, I should be for fol

sting this great
care pot essent
pat myself into h
la his particolar

It is odd to c
wou government
took person me
Hoe nine parts
that of slavery,
on and brutal
el a state of
mals in the ot
tercare it is no
I are many tra
whers are w
Labes and pl
bere these
to will immed
41 man must ha
se ng apon bis

ve specula
* tastruse corn
i bare about bi

The first thin
mself with ne

bands, wel

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ether, till a nderstanding

be great cheris

« AnteriorContinuar »