« PreviousContinue »
be said " they bear it all." Yes, it is true, they do bear it all; but they bear it with an ill will; and who is blind to the consequences of long and reluctant submission? The state of freedom is a state of peace and cheerfulness; a state of submission is a state of uneasiness and discontent. The former then is permament and durable; the latter unstable and changeable,
All, therefore, is not accomplished when the people are quiet; they should also be contented; and it is only a heart devoid of feeling, or a head unacquainted with the principles of government, that can harbour a notion of securing the first of these objects, without obtaining the second. They who disregard it, either do not see the necessary connexion between liberty and prosperity; or, if they see it, they neglect it. The error in either case is equally mischievous. For surely this connexion deserves the attention of every just and mild government. A free and cheerful people is active and laborious; and activity and labour produces attention to morals, and observance of the laws. The greater the enjoyments of the poor, the more they
will love the government which protects them; the better they will obey it, and the more cheerfully and willingly will they contribute to its maintenance and support. The greater their enjoyments, the more they have to lose; and the more averse will they be to any disturbance, and the more will they respect the authorities intended to repress it. Such a people also feels more anxiety to enrich themselves, because they must be conscious that the increase of their pleasures will keep pace with the improvement of their fortunes. In a word, they strive more ardently to better their condition, because they are certain of enjoying the fruits of their exertion. If such then be one of the chief objects of a good government, why is it so disregarded among us? even public prosperity, as it is called, if it be any thing but the aggregate of individual happiness, depends upon the attainment of the object in question; for the power and strength of a state do not consist entirely in multitudes or riches, but in the moral character of its inhabitants. No nation can be strong whose subjects are feeble dispirited, and strangers to public spirit and
patriotism; while those who meet securely in public feel a common interest in the welfare of the community, and are less likely to sacrifice it to personal views and individual advantage. Every individual respects his own class in such a society, because he respects himself; and he respects that of others, as the best mode of ensuring respect for his own. They thus acquire respect for the government, and the subordination established by law, and growing attached to the institutions of their country, will defend them with spirit; because in so doing, they feel that they are defending themselves. So clear is it that freedom and cheerfulness are greater enemies of disorder than subjection and melancholy.
Let me not, however, be suspected of considering a magistracy or police, appointed to preserve the public peace, as in itself, either useless or oppressive. On the contrary, it is my firm persuasion, that without such an institution, without its unremitting vigilance, neither tranquillity nor subordination can be preserved. I am well aware that license hovers on the very confines of liberty, and
that some restraint must be devised to check those who would pass the limits. This is the point of civil jurisprudence; in which many injudicious magistrates err, by confounding vigilance with oppression. Hence, at every festival in Spain, at every public diversion, or harmless amusement, they obtrude upon the people the insignia of magistracy and power. Freedom is scared away by watchmen and patroles, constables and soldiers; and at the sight of staves and bayonets, harmless and timorous mirth takes the alarm, and disappears. This is surely not the method of accomplishing the purposes for which magistracy was established; whose vigilance, if I may be permitted so awful a companion, should resemble that of the suPREME BEING. It should be perpetual and certain, but invisible; should be acknowleged by every body, but seen by nobody; should watch license, in order to repress it, and liberty, in order to protect in. In one word, it should operate as a restraint on the bad, as a shield and protection to the good. The awful insignia of justice are otherwise the mere symbols of oppression and tyranny; and