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its head against some of the finest productions of the human mind?
St. Thomas of Aquinas, whose morals were equal to those of Calvin and father Quesnel-St. Thomas, who had never seen good comedy, and who knew only miserable players, thinks however that the theatre might be useful. He had sufficient good sense and justice to feel the merit of this art, unfinished as it was, and permitted and approved of it. St. Charles Borromeo examined himself the pieces which were played at Milan, and gave them his approbation and signature. Who after that will be Visigoths enough to treat Roderigo and Chimene as soul corrupters. Would to God that these barbarians, the enemies of the finest of arts, had the piety of Polyeuctus, the clemency of Augustus, the virtue of Burrhus, and would die like the husband of Alzira!
Which is the best? I have not hitherto known any person who has not governed some state.
I speak not of messieurs the ministers, who really govern; some two or three years, others six months, and others six weeks; I speak of all other men, who at supper, or in their closet; unfold their systems of government, and reform armies, the church, the and finances.
The abbé de Bourzeis began to govern France towards the year 1645, under the name of cardinal Richelieu, and made the Politicaļ Testament, in which he would enlist the nobility into the cavalry for three years, make chambers of accounts and parliaments pay the poll-tax, and deprive the king of the produce of the excise. He asserts above all, that to enter a country with fifty thousand men, it is essential to economy that a hundred thousand should be raised. He affirms that “ Provence alone has more fine seaports than Spain and Italy together."
The abbé Bourzeis had not travelled. As to the
rest, his work abounds with anachronisms and errors; and as he makes cardinal Richelieu sign in a manner in which he never signed, so he makes him speak as he had never spoken. Moreover, he fills a whole chapter with saying that reason should guide a state, and in endeavouring to prove this discovery. This work of obscurities, this bastard of the abbé de Bourzeis, has long passed for the legitimate offspring of cardinal Richelieu ; and all academicians, in their speeches of reception, fail not to praise extravagantly this political masterpiece.
The sieur Gatien de Courtilz, seeing the success of the Testament Politique of Richelieu, published at the Hague the Testament de Colbert, with a fine letter of M. Colbert to the king. It is clear that if this minister made such a testament, it must have been suppressed ; yet this book has been quoted by several authors.
Another ignoramus, of whose name we are ignorant, failed not to produce the Testament de Louvois, stiil worse, if possible, than that of Colbert. An abbé of Chevremont also made Charles, duke of Lorraine, form a testament. We have had the political testaments of cardinal Alberoni, marshal Belleisle, and finally that of Mandrin.*
M. de Boisguillebert, author of the Detail de la France,' published in 1695, produced the impracticable project of the royal tithe, under the name of the marshal de Vauban.
A madman, named La Jonchere, wanting bread, wrote, in 1720, a Project of Finance, in four volumes; and some fools have quoted this production as a work of La Jonchere the treasurer-general, imagining that a treasurer could not write a bad book on finance.
But it must be confessed, that very wise men, perhaps very worthy to govern, have written on the administration of states in France, Spain, and England. Their books have done much good; not that they have corrected ministers who were in place when these books appeared, for a minister does not and cannot
* A celebrated robber.
correct himself. He has attained his growth, and more instruction, more counsel, he has not time to listen to. The current of affairs carries him away; but good books form young people, destined for their places; and princes and statesmen of a succeeding generation are instructed.
The strength and weakness of all governments has been narrowly examined in latter times. then, you who have travelled, who have read and have seen, in what state, under what sort of government, would you be born? I conceive that a great landed lord in France would have no objection to be born in Germany: he would be a sovereign instead of a subject. A peer of France would be very glad to have the privileges of the English peerage: he would be a legislator.
The gownsman and financier would find himself better off in France than elsewhere.
But what country would a wise freeman choose-a man of small fortune, without prejudices ?
A rather learned member of the council of Pondicherry came into Europe, by land, with a brahmin, more learned than the generality of them. • How do you find the government of the Great Mogul ? said the counsellor. Abominable,' answered the brahmin ; how can you expect a state to be happily governed by Tartars? Our rajahs, our omras, and our nabobs are very contented, but the citizens are by no means so; and millions of citizens are something.'
The counsellor and the brahmin traversed all Upper Asia, reasoning on their way. “I reflect,' said the brahmin, that there is not a republic in all this vast part of the world.' . There was forinerly that of Tyre,' said the counsellor,' but it lasted not long; there was another towards Arabia Petræa, in a little nook called Palestine --if we can honour with the name of republic a horde of thieves and usurers, sometimes governed by judges,
* A pleasant but correct allusion to the then existing state of France, so soon to feel the consequences of the dissatisfaction of the majority !-T.
sometimes by a sort of kings, sometimes by high priests; who became slaves seven or eight times, and were finally driven from the country which they had usurped.
• I fancy,' said the brahmin, “ that we should find very few republics on earth. Men are seldom worthy to govern themselves. This happiness should only belong to little people, who conceal themselves in islands or between mountains, like rabbits who steal away from carnivorous animals, but at length are discovered and devoured.'
When the travellers arrived in Asia Minor, the counsellor said to the brahmin, 'Would you believe that there was a republic formed in a corner of Italy, which lasted more than five hundred years, and which possessed this Asia Minor, Asia, Africa, Greece, the Gauls, Spain, and the whole of Italy? It was therefore soou turned into a monarchy?' said the brahmin. • You have guessed it,' said the other ; but this monarchy has fallen, and every day we make fine dissertations to discover the causes of its decay and fall.'. You take much useless pains,' said the Indian : 'this empire has fallen because it existed. All must fall. I hope that the same will happen to the empire of the Great Mogul.' 'Apropos,' said the European, do you believe that more honour is required in a despotic state, and more virtue in a republic?' The term “honour' being first explained to the Indian, he replied, that honour was more necessary in à republic, and that there is more need of virtue in a monarchical state. • For,' said he,' a man who pretends to be elected by the people will not be so, if he is dishonoured; while at court he can easily obtain a place, according to the maxim of a great prince, that to succeed, a courtier should have neither honour nor a will of his own. With respect to virtue, it is prodigiously required in a court, in order to dare to tell the truth. The virtuous man is much more at his ease in a republic, having nobody to flatter.'
Do you believe,' said the European,' that laws and religions can be formed for climates, the same as furs are required at Moscow, and gauze stuffs at Delhi ?'
Yes, doubtless,' said the brahmin; all laws which concern physics are calculated for the meridian which we inhabit; a German requires only one wife, and Persian must have two or three.
• Rites of religion are of the same nature. If I were a christian, how would you have me say mass in my province, where there is neither bread nor wine? With regard to dogmas, it is another thing; climate has nothing to do with them. Did not your religion commence in Asia, from whence it was driven; does it not exist towards the Baltic sea, where it was unknown ??
• In what state, under what dominion, would you like to live? said the counsellor. • Under
any own,' said his companion; and I have found many Siamese, Tonquinese, Persians, and Turks, who have said the same. But, once more,' said the European,
what state would you choose ?' The brahmin answered, “That in which the laws alone are obeyed.' • That is an odd answer,' said the counsellor. It is not the worse for that,' said the brahmin. . Where is this country?' said the counsellor. The brahmin,
We must seek it.' *
STATES-GENERAL. There have been always such in Europe, and probably in all the earth, so natural is it to assemble the family, to know its interests and to provide for its wants! The Tartars had their cour-ilté. The Germans, according to Tacitus, assembled to consult. The Saxons and people of the north had their wittenagemot. The people at large formed states-general in the Greek and Roman republics.
We see none among the Egyptians, Persians, or Chinese, because we have but very imperfect fragments of their histories: we scarcely know anything of them until since the time in which their kings were abso
* This article was written towards the year 1757. See also the article GOVERNMENT.