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and when they failed to choose-such as were fit for the work to be done, they received such defeats as convinced them of their error.
IF I should undertake to say, there never was a good government in the world, that did not consist of the three simple species of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, I think I might make it good. This at the least is certain, that the government of the Hebrews, instituted by God, had a judge, the great sanhedrin, the general assemblies of the people: Sparta had two kings, a senate of twenty-eight chosen men, and the like assemblies. All the Dorian cities had a chief magistrate, a senate, and occasional assemblies. The Ionian, Athens, and others had an archon, the areopagi; and all judgments concerning matters of the greatest importance, as well as the election of magistrates, were referred to the people. Rome, in the beginning, had a king, and a senate, whilst the election of kings, and judgments upon appeals, remained in the people; afterwards, consuls, representing kings, and vested with equal power, a more numerous senate, and more frequent meetings of the people, Germany is at this day governed by an emperor, the princes, or great lords in their several pre. eincts, the cities by their own magistrates, and by general diets, in which the whole power of the nation resides, and where the emperor, princes,
nobility, and cities, have their places in person, or by their deputies. All the northern nations, which, upon the dissolution of the Roman empire, possessed the best provinces that had composed it, were under that form which is usually called the Gothic polity: they had kings, lords, commons, diets, assemblies of estates, cortez, and parliaments, in which the sovereign powers of those nations did reside, and by which they were exercised. The like was practised in Hungary, Bohemia, Sweden, Denmark, Poland; and, if things are changed in some of these places, within few years, they must give better proofs of having gained by the change, than are yet seen in the world, before I think myself obliged to change my opinion.
SOME nations, not liking the name of king, have given such a power as kings enjoyed in other places, to one or more magistrates, either limited to a certain time, or left to be perpetual, as best pleased themselves : others approving the same, made the dignity purely elective. Some have, in their elections, principally regarded one family, as long as it lasted : others considered nothing but the fitness of the person, and reserved to themselves a liberty of taking where they pleased. Some have permitted the crown to be hereditary, as to its ordinary course; but restrained the power, and instituted officers to
inspect the proceedings of kings, and to take care that the laws were not violated: of this sort were the ephori of Sparta, the maires du Palais, and afterwards the constable of France; the justicia in Arragon; rijckshofmeister in Denmark; the high steward of England, and in all places such assemblies as are before mentioned under several names, who had the power of the whole nation.
IT ought to be considered, that the wisdom of man is imperfect, and unable to foresee the effects that may proceed from an infinite variety of accidents, which, according to emergencies, necessarily require new constitutions, to prevent or cure the mischiefs arising from them, or to advance a good, that at the first was not thought on; and, as the noblest work in which the wit of man can be exercised, were (if it could be done) to constitute a government that should last for ever, the next to that is, to suit laws to present exigencies, and so much as is in the power of man to foresee : and he that should resolve to persist obstinately in the way he first entered upon, or to blame those who go out of that in which their fathers had walked, when they find it necessary, does, as far as in him lies, render the worst of errors perpetual. Changes, therefore, are unavoidable, and the wit of man can go no farther than to institute such, as in relation to the forces, manners, nature, religion, or interests of a people
and their neighbours, are suitable and adequate to what is seen, or apprehended to be seen : and he who would oblige all nations at all times to take the same course, would prove as foolish as a physician who should apply the same medicine to all distempers, or an architect that would build the same kind of house for all persons, without considering their estates, dignities, the number of their children or servants, the time or climate in which they live, and many other circumstances ; or, which is, if possible, more sottish, a general, who should obstinately resolve always to make war in the saine way, and to draw up his army in the same form, without examining the nature, number, and strength of his own and his enemy's forces, or the advantages and disadvantages of the ground. But, as there may be some rules in physic, architecture, and military discipline, from which men ought never to depart; so there are some in politics also, which ought always to be observed : and wise legislators, adhering to them only, will be ready to change all others, as occasion may require, in order to the public good. This we may learn from Moses, who laying the foundation of the law given to the Israelites, in that justice, charity, and truth, which, having its root in God, is subject to no change, left them the liberty of having judges or no judges, kings or no kings, or to give the sovereign power to high-priests or captains, as best pleased themselves; and the mischiefs they afterwards suffered, proceded not simply from changing, but changing for the worse. The like judgment may be made of the alterations that have happened in other places. They who aim at the public good, and wisely institute means proportionable and adequate to the attainment of it, deserve praise; and those only are to be disliked, who either foolishly or maliciously set up a corrupt private interest in one or a few men.
ALL governments are subject to corruption and decay, but with this difference, that absolute monarchy is by principle led unto, or rooted in it; whereas mixed or popular governments, are only in a possibility of falling into it: as the first cannot subsist uuless the prevailing part of the people be corrupted; the other must certainly perish, unless they be preserved in a great measure free from vices: and I doubt whether any better reason can be given, why there have been and are more monarchies than popular governments in the world, than that nations are more easily drawn into corruption than defended from it; and I think, that monarchy can be said to be natural in no other sense, than that our depraved nature is most inclined to that which is worst.
I GIVE the name of popular governments to those of Rome, Athens, Sparta, and the like;