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administration, making choice only of men of knowledge and abilities, who discharge their respective functions with honour : whereas those who generally make their way to such posts under a monarchical government are men of little minds and mean talents, who owe their preferment to the meritricious arts of flattery and intrigue. The public are less apt to be deceived in their choice than a prince, and a man of real merit is as rarely to be found in the ministry of a king, as a blockhead at the head of a republic.
Du Contrat Social, liv. ii. cb. vi. The popular election of magistrates, and popular disposition of rewards and honours, is one of the first advantages of a free state. Without it, or something equivalent to it, perhaps the people cannot long enjoy the substance of freedom ; certainly none of the vivifying energy of good government.
BURKE. Thoughts on the Discontents, p. 44. I NEVER could be persuaded but it was more happy for a people to be disposed of by a number of persons, jointly interested and concerned with them, than to be numbered as the herd and inheritance of one, to whose lust and madness they were absolutely subject; and that any man of the weakest reason and generosity would not rather chuse for his habitation that spot of earth, where there was access to honour by virtue, and no worth could be excluded, than that where all ad
vancement should proceed from the will 'of one, scarcely hearing or seeing with his own organs, and gained for the most part by means lewd and indirect : and all this in the end to amount to nothing else but a more splendid and dangerous slavery,
That city thrives best where virtue is most esteemned and rewarded.
OLD ITALIAN PROVERB. The people have no bias to be knaves. No ambition prompts them; no aspiring or unsociable passions incite them; they have no rivals for place, no competitor to pull down ; they have no darling child, pimp, or relation to raise ; they have no occasion for dissimulation or intrigue ; they can serve no end by faction; they have no interest but the general interest.
Çato's Letters, vol. i. N. 24. In all disputes between the people and their rulers, the presumption is at least upon a par favour of the people, Experience may perhaps justify me in going farther. Where popular discontents have been very prevalent, it may well be affirmed and supported that there has been generally something found amiss in the constitution or in the conduct of government. The people have no interest in disorder, When they do wrong it is their error and not their crime. But with the governing party of the state it is far other.
wise. They certainly may act ill by design as well as by mistake. Les revolutions qui arrivent dans les grands etats ne sont point un effet du bazard, ni du caprice des peuples. Rien ne revolte les GRANDS d'un royaume comme un government foible et derangè. Pour LE POPULACE, ce'st ne jamais par envie d'attaquer qu'elle se souleve, mais par impatience de souffrir.* These are the words of a great man ; of a minister of state and a zealous' asserter of monarchy. What he says of revolutions is equally true of all great great disturbances.
Tbougbts on tbe Discontents, p. &. As long as a number of individuals united consider themselves as one body, they can have but one will, which relates to their common preservation and welfare. All the resources of the state are then simple and vigorous; its political maxims clear and obvious; it includes no intricate and opposite interests"; the public weal is demonstrably evident to all, and requires only the gift of common sense to understand it. Peace, concord, and equality are enemies to political subtleties. Men honest and simple are, from their very simplicity, not easily deceived; they are not to be imposed upon by sophistry; they are too artless to be duped. When it is known, that among the happiest people in the world, a number of peasants' meet together under the shade of an oak, and regulate the affairs of state with the most prudential economy, is it possible to forbear despising the refinements of other nations, who employ so much art and mystery to render themselves splendidly contemptible?
* Mem. de Sully, vol. 1. p. 133,
A state thus simply governed, has need of but few laws; in proportion as it becomes necessary to promulgate new ones, that necessity is universally apparent. The first person who proposes them, speaks only what everyone has before thought: and neither eloquence nor intrigue is requisite to make that pass into a law which every one had already resolved to do, as soon as he should be assured others would do the same.
That which deceives our reasoners on this subject is, that, seeing none but such states as were badly constituted at their beginning, they are struck with the impossibility of maintaining in them such a police.
Du Contrat Social, liv, iv. cb. i. We shall conclude this subject, with observing the falsehood of the common opinion, that no large state could ever be modelled into a commonwealth, but that such a form of government can only take place in a city or small territory. The contrary seems probable. Though it is more difficult to form a republican government in an extensive country than in a city; there is more facility, when once it is formed, of preserving it steady and uniform, without tumult and faction. In a large government, which is modelled with masterly skill, there is compass and room enough to refine the demoH4
cracy from the lower people who may be admitted into the first elections or first conccction of the common-wealth, to the higher magistrates, who direct all the movements.
At the same time, the parts are so distant and remote, that it is very difficult, either by intrigue, prejudice, or passion, to hurry them into any measures against the public interest.