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Re-lum'd her ancient light, not kindled new ;
to another; by easy transitions, and frequently under old names, adopt a new constitution. The seeds of every form are lodged in human nature: they spring up and ripen with the season. The prevalence of a particular species is often derived from an imperceptible ingredient mingled in the soil. We are therefore to receive, with caution, the traditionary histories of ancient legislators and founders of states. Their names have long been celebrated; their supposed plans have been admired; and what were probably the consequences of an early situation, is, in every instance, considered as an effect of design. An author and a work, like cause and effect, are perpetually coupled together. This is the simplest form under which we can consider the establishment of nations: and we ascribe to a previous design what came to be known only by experience, what no human wisdom could foresee, and what, without the concurring humour and disposition of his age, no authority could enable an individual to execute.” Ferguson, in his History of Civil Society; a work highly commended by the late Lord Mansfield.
Ver. 294. Th' according music] This is the very same illustration that Tully uses in that beautiful fragment, De Republica: “Ut in fidibus, actibiis, atque cantu ipso, ac vocibus, concentus est quidam tenendus ex distinctis tonis, quem immutatum, ac discrepantem aures eruditae ferre non possunt, isque concentus ex dissimillimarum vocum moderatione concors tamen efficitur et congruens; sic, ex summis et infimis, et mediis interjectis ordinibus, ut tonis, moderata ratione civitas consensu dissimilimorum concinit, et quae harmonia a musicis dicitur in cantu, ea est in civitate concordia, arctissimum atque optimum omni in Republica vinculum incolumitatis; quae sine justitia nullo pacto esse potest.”
WOL. III. I
Such is the World's great Harmony, that springs From Order, Union, full Consent of things: 296
Such is the happy and inestimable constitution of Great Britain : Letthose, who talk and think of absolute equality, remember the words of one whom they must allow was a lover of freedom :
“And if not equal all, yet free,
Thucydides, in three words, describes a just and well-poised government, which ought to be, airóvopov, airóðurov, airrors.Mi.
Ver. 295. Such is the World's great Harmony, &c.] This doctrine was taken up by Leibnitz; but it was to ingraft upon it a most pernicious fatalism. Plato said, God chose the best: Leibnitz said, he could not but choose the best, as he could not act without, what this philosopher called, a sufficient reason. Plato supposed freedom in God to choose one of two things equally good: Leibnitz held the supposition to be absurd: however, admitting the case, he still held that God could not choose one of two things equally good. Thus it appears, the first went on the system of Freedom; and that the latter, notwithstanding the most artful disguises of his principles, in his Theodicée, was a thorough Fatalist: for we cannot well suppose he would give that freedom to Man which he had taken away from God. The truth of the matter seems to be this: he saw, on the one hand, the monstrous absurdity of supposing, with Spinoza, that blind Fate was the author of a coherent Universe; but yet, on the other, he could not conceive with Plato, how God could foresee and conduct, according to an archetypal idea, a World, of all possible Worlds the best inhabited by free Agents. This difficulty therefore, which made the Socinians take Prescience from God, disposed Leibnitz to take Free-will from Man: and thus he fashioned his fantastical hypothesis; he supposed that when God made the body, he impressed on his new-created Machine a certain series or suite of motions ; and that when he made the fellow soul, he impressed a correspondent series of ideas; whose operations, throughout the whole duration of the union, were so exactly timed, that whenever an idea was excited, a correspondent motion was ever ready to satisfy the volition. Thus, for in
Where small and great, where weak and mighty made
NOTES. stance, when the mind had the will to raise the arm to the head, the body was so precontrived, as to raise, at that very moment, the part required. This he called the PRE-ESTABLISHED HARMony ; and with this he promised to do wonders. W. Ver. 297. Where small and great, Swift's opinion about property is remarkable, in his Various Thoughts, p. 394. “In all well-instituted commonwealths, care has been taken to limit men's possessions; which is done for many reasons, and among the rest, for one, which is perhaps not often considered; that when bounds are set to men's desires, after they have acquired as much as the laws will permit them, their private interestis at an end, and they have nothing to do but to take care of the public.” Ver. 303. For Forms of Government] But surely some Forms of Government are better calculated to produce and continue a good administration than others, or alter and reform bad administrations. “It is a great question with several, Whether there be any essential difference,” says Hume, “betwixt one form of Government and another ? and, Whether every form may not become good or bad, according as it is well administered? Were it once admitted, that all Governments are alike, and that the only difference consists in the character and conduct of the governors, most political disputes would be at an end, and all zeal for one constitution above another, must be esteemed mere bigotry and folly. But though a friend to moderation, I cannot forbear condemning this sentiment, and should be very sorry to think that human affairs admit of no greater stability than what they receive from the casual humours and characters of particular men. “'Tis true, those who maintain that the goodness of all Government consists in the goodness of the administration, may
cite many particular instances in history, where the very same
In Faith and Hope the world will disagree,
tages and inconveniences of each form of Government with one another. For though the result of their inquiries will never determine what form it is which any particular nation has agreed to establish, yet it may serve to shew every nation what is the most desirable form, and may lead them, as they have opportunity, to make such alterations in their own as will bring them nearer to that point, if they cannot quite reach it. Certainly our English Poet has but little reason on his side, when he represents such an inquiry as the business of fools; and maintains, that the only difference between civil constitutions of Government consists in the better or worse administration of them: for that constitution is, in his judgment, to be called the best, let it be what it will, which is best administered. Whatever public benefit depends upon the character of the persons in power, it is derived from their wisdom and goodness, and not from the nature of the form of government. So that to call that form the best, which is best administered, seems to be speaking improperly. Or if we will call it the best, we must in the mean time allow, that it is the best by accident only, and not in its own nature. In the common course of human affairs, it is almost impossible to prevent the civil power from coming into the hands of weak and bad men, whatever the constitution is. That form of Government, therefore, is best in itself, which guards most effectually against this evil; or, if this evil ever does happen, which lays the persons in power under such checks and restraints as are most likely to prevent them from abusing their trust; or, lastly, if this trust is abused, which has provided the readiest means for correcting the abuses. An absolute monarchy is a constitution which has so little title to these characters, that it can have no pretension to be thought the only natural, and much less the only possible, form of Government, upon account of its being the best form.” In that elegant and valuable publication, entitled Athenian Letters, written by some of the most respectable persons of the present age, and in which subjects of literature, philosophy, and politics, are treated with uncommon candour and penetration, is an excellent discourse on Forms of Government, by the honourable Charles Yorke, p. 216. London. 4to. 1781. A penetrating writer has well observed, “that all Forms of