« ZurückWeiter »
and remember, especially, that for the efficient manage inent of your common interests, in a country so ex tensive as ours, a government of as much vigour, as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty, is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.
“I have already intimated to you, the danger of parties in the state, with particular references to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.
" This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes, in all governments; more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed ; but in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
“ The alternate domination of one faction over ano ther, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism : but this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. Th.: disorders and miseries which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual ; and sooner or later, the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortu nate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of publick liberty.
“ Without looking forward to an extremity of this
kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight) the common and continual inischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It serves always to distract the publick councils and enfeeble the publick administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments, occasionally, riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
- There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This, within certain limits, is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favour, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose ; and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of publick opi. nion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, i: demands uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest instead of warming it should consume.
" It is important likewise, that the habits of think ing, in a free country, should inspire caution in those intrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one dopartment to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever tie
form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominate in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the guardian of the publick weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiinents ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. lo preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment, in the way which the Constitution designates: but let there be no change by usurpation; fir though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield.
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and publick felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained with out religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structuro, reason and experience both forbid us to expect
that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
“ It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabrick ?
“ Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to publick opinion, it is essential that publick opinion should be enlightened.
“ As a very important source of strength and security, cherish publick credit. One method of preserv ing it, is to use it as sparingly as possible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also, that timely disbursements to prepare for danger, frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it: avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that publick opinion should cooperats. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue ; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant ; that the intrinsick embarrassment inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties) ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in mak. ing it; and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the publick exigencies may at any time dictate.
“ Observe good faith and justice towards all nations, cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct ; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and (at no distant period) a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an ex alted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices ?
"In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others should be excluded ; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation, against another, disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur.
“ Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The governmert sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts, through passion, what reason