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not cases where the disapprobation of an executive measure may not spring from the purest motives of disinterested paBut I mean only to illustrate this point that the power of conferring offices carries with it more to affect than to protect; and this depending on the nature of things when so many are to expect and so few to receive.
It is evidently the general understanding of all who observe the springs of action in political characters, that their antipathies have their origin in something personal. This may be true of those who obtain a leading in political affairs. But doubtless there will always be a mass acted on by every one of these to an extent proportioned to his influence, and with whom there is no intrinsic motive or principle, of disappointment, or hope. Nevertheless it is still the pique of disappointed ambition that in most cases gives the first impulse to a warm agitator who sets the public mind in motion. Through whom is the voice of the people legitimately known immediately? only through the governer. alone is chosen by the whole people. And this is the great glory of our constitution that the whole executive authority emanates immediately from the whole body of the people, and who, through this organ, at the same time, have an immediate though qualified volition in the legislative capacity. It is this and the principle of universal suffrage, that renders our constitution as perfectly democratic as the nature of a government, by representation, will admit.
Through the Governor every taxable is actually represented; but through the county delegate virtually, and in contemplation of law only. Is the fraction of a county represented at all but through the Governor? It is but through him that it can be represented equally. It is not possible to have it otherwise while the representation is by districts. And is it practicable to elect in all cases by a general state ticket? But change the state representative, and let what would seem to be the will of the county delegates prevail. This is all fair. Bringing it to the test at once. The only question now will be, are the people sure that the county delegates understand their true interest, and are right?
I will be asked, what is a democracy? I take my defini
tion from a speech put into the mouth of Pericles, by Thucydides. It is to the Athenian people. "This our government is called a democracy, because, in the administration, it hath respect, not to a few, but to the multitude: a democracy; wherein, though there be an equality amongst all men, in point of law, for their private controversies; yet in conferring of dignities one man is preferred before another to a public charge; and that, according to the reputation, not of his power, but of his virtue; and is not put back through the poverty, or the obscurity of his person, as long as he can do service to the commonwealth. And we live not only free in the administration of the state; but also, one with another, void of jealousy towards each other in our daily course of life; not offended at any man for following his own humour, nor casting on any man censure or sour looks, which though they be no punishment, yet they grieve; so that conversing one with another, for the private, without offence, we stand chiefly in fear to transgress against the public; and are able always to be obedient to those that govern, and to the laws; and principally to such laws, as are written for punishment against injury; and such unwritten as bring undeniable shame to the transgressor." Hob's translation of Thucydides.
This definition or description, of a practical democracy, is drawn from real life. It is in the mouth of Pericles, a man of business; a sapient statesman; who had been bred and born in a democracy; versed in its affairs, and knew its errors, and its excellencies. One thing is remarkable, that a particular excellence which he notices, is the freedom of opinion. Where a government is founded on opinion, it is of the essence of its preservation, that opinion be free. It is not enough that no inquisition exists; that no lettre de cachet can issue; but that no man shall attempt to frown another out of his excercise of private judgment. Is it democracy to denounce a man in a paper, because he thinks differently on a measure of government with the editor? It is tyranny; and the man who can do this without reason, or moderation, is a tyrant, and would suppress the right of private judgment, if he had the power. I distinguish between stricture, and abuse. All depends upon the man
ner and the toleration. A man is not always a deserter from just politics, because he cannot agree with me in opinion, on a particular subject. Mutual toleration and forbearance, in our sentiments, with regard to the legality, or expedience of measures, is the soul of democracy. It is that which distinguishes it from despotism, as polite manners the fine gentleman in polished life; in civilized society. In a despotic country, it is the boot, or the thumbscrew or the cord, that brings a man to reason; at least the wheel and the pulley are used for this purpose. What better in a republic where a man is this day a patriot, and the next day a traitor, at the whim of him who bestows the appellation? In the livid dens of despotism, state prisons are the seminaries of submissive citizens. In a democracy, shall terror issue from lamp-black, and patriotism be put down under the name of opposition. When a man frowns upon me because I have dissented from him in opinion, on political matter, I discover clearly the grade of his political standing and improvement.
But it will be said, are not your democrats, all noisy, vociferous, intolerant and of a persecuting spirit? I say such are not democrats; they are spurious, and usurp the name. In a government founded on opinion, nothing ought to be a reproach, that is the exercise of private judgment. It is subversive of the essence of liberty. A frown is the shadow of force, and he that uses the one, would have recourse to the other.
These observations allude to what is practical in democracy, and cannot be established or prohibited by the laws; but constitute the manners which a democratic government inculcates, and is calculated to produce; and it will be ob servable, that there is a great deal of this among the body of the people, who have been accustomed to liberty. It is chiefly amongst the young in the world, or young in the country, that the contrary spirit shews itself. I am amongst those who carry my ideas in favour of the naturalization of foreigners, perhaps too far. I am for excercising the rights of hospitality to them, to all extent at once; making them citizens, and giving them the right of sffurage, and even of
fice, the moment they set a foot upon the shore. cannot see on what ground, we can justify a refusal. do not mean to discuss this point at present. I introduce it to shew that I am liberal in my notions, with regard to the privileges of foreigners. But I admit, that it takes some time to give them correct ideas of the limits of liberty. It is, I believe, a saying of the Grand Pensionary, De Wit, of Holland, that" it takes a man half an age to enjoy liberty, before he can know how to use it." Nevertheless, I cannot see the inexpediency of admitting to a vote, the emigrant that comes amongst us, the first day he presents himself. He will be instructed by those that have been here before him. He must take his ticket from some one.-Is the ocean afraid of the rivers? Even when they come turbid with the swell of the mountains? The sea clarifies, or they are lost in it. Who complains, out at sea, of a spring flood muddying the waters? This ought to be a lesson, at the same time, to emigrants, that they "use their liberty, so as not abusing it." It is a strange thing to see a man come in the other day, undertake to set all right; and to denounce men of age and high standing, as guilty of defection. But what good is there in the world without an alloy of evil? What exercise of right without abuse? If I am wrong, it is the excess of liberality.
But I find another principle in the oration of Pericles, in the justness of which, I am more confident. That is, the equal right of office to all the citizens. As the greater contains the less, this involves the right of vote. The only qualification of which I can have any idea, as justifiable, is that of age; and I should have no objection to see this restricted to a greater age than that of 21,-say 45 years. At this time men cease to be fit for the militia, or other ministerial services. Let them then become legislators, and have the right of vote in making laws, or chusing those that represent in making them. This would take off a great deal of wildfire in our elections, and it would keep away vain young men from our public councils.
What absurdity does the idea of a qualification of proper
ty involve! It unhinges the ideas of the ancient republicans; that it was honourable to have enriched the republic, and to remain poor themselves. To be wise, a man must be rich. No, but to be honest, he must have an estate. But in get
ting this estate, he may have been a rogue. In general, he must, in some measure, have neglected the improvement of his mind. At least, it does not follow, that in proportion as a man is poor, he is not to be trusted. They are frequently the most generous souls who have amassed little wealth; on the contrary the most ignoble, who have acquired great property. The man that has set his heart on riches, is lost to benevolence, and public spirit. In the possession of office, he is thinking of what can be made by it. "Nothing can be great," says the stoic philosopher, Epictetes, "the contempt of which is great. It is great to despise riches. These cannot therefore be great."
But how can we measure the value of property, and fix the criterion? Shall it be real property, a freehold? Is my acre worth more than yours? Shall I have but an equal right? What are the drawbacks upon my estate? My debts and credits? It is the surplus that makes my property, even in the case of the substantial fund of freehold. But property is not the only stake. Person and character, are stakes. Every man that has a head has a stake. There is no proportioning it. In what is impracticable we can have no election. It is therefore an excellent principle, of our excellent constitution, that all men have an equal right of suffrage, und an equal right of office.
I should not like to live in a republic where a man must be worth so much, to have equal rights; even could it be ascertained what I am worth; which, as I have said, is impracticable. How many men have I passed in life, less industrious than myself, and yet richer. They have had better luck, as we express it; or they have been more selfish, and kept what they got. Can a man that is looking at the stars, mind what is under his feet? We read of most of the great statesmen of antiquity, and virtuous heroes, that they were poor. It is no uncommon thing to find it added