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commerce, as they are distinguished by their different walks and different languages; sometimes I am justled among a body of Armenians: sometimes I am lost in a crowd of Jews; and sometimes make one in a groupe of Dutchmen. I am a Dane, Swede, or Frenchman at different times; or rather fancy myself like the old philosopher, who upon being asked what countryman he was, replied that he was a citizen of the world n.
Though I very frequently visit this busy multitude of people, I am known to nobody there but my friend Sir Andrew, who often smiles
upon me as he sees me bustling in the crowd, but at the same time connives at my presence without taking any further notice of me. There is indeed a merchant of Egypt, who just knows me by sight, having formerly remitted me some money to Grand Cairo; but as I am not versed in the modern Coptic, our conferences go no further than a bow and a grimace.
This grand scene of business gives me an infinite variety of solid and substantial entertainments.
As I am a great lover of mankind, my heart naturally overflows with pleasure at the sight
of a prosperous and happy multitude, insomuch that at many 20 public solemnities I cannot forbear expressing my joy with tears
that have stolen down my cheeks. For this reason I am wonderfully delighted to see such a body of men thriving in their own private fortunes, and at the same time promoting the public stock; or, in other words, raising estates for their own families, by bringing into their own country whatever is wanting, and carrying out of it whatever is superfluous.
Nature seems to have taken a particular care to disseminate her blessings among the different regions of the world, with an
eye to this mutual intercourse and traffic among mankind, that 30 the natives of the several parts of the globe might have a kind
of dependence upon one another, and be united together by their common interest. Almost every degree produces something peculiar to it. The food often grows in one country and the sauce in another. The fruits of Portugal are corrected by the products of Barbadoes: the infusion of a China plant sweetened with the pith of an Indian cane. The Philippine islands give a flavour to our European bowls. The single dress of a woman of quality is often the product of an hundred climates. The muff
and the fan come together from the different ends of the earth. 40 The scarf is sent from the torrid zone, and the tippet from
THE PRAISE OF COMMERCE.
beneath the pole. The brocade petticoat rises out of the mines of Peru, and the diamond necklace out of the bowels of Indostan.
If we consider our own country in its natural prospect, without any of the benefits and advantages of commerce, what a barren uncomfortable spot of earth falls to our share! Natural historians tell us, that no fruit grows originally among us, besides hips and haws, acorns and pig-nuts, with other delicacies of the like nature; that our climate of itself
, and without the assistances of art, can make no farther advances towards a plumb than to a 10 sloe, and carries an apple to no greater perfection than a crab:
that our melons, our peaches, our figs, our apricots, and cherries, are strangers among us, imported in different ages, and naturalized in our English gardens; and that they would all degenerate and fall away into the trash of our own country, if they were wholly neglected by the planter, and left to the mercy of our sun and soil. Nor has traffic more enriched our vegetable world, than it has improved the whole face of nature among us.
Our ships are laden with the harvest of every climate: our tables are
stored with spices, and oils, and wines : our rooms are filled with 20 pyramids of china, and adorned with the workmanship of Japan:
our morning's draught comes to us from the remotest corners of the earth: we repair our bodies by the drugs of America, and repose ourselves under Indian canopies. My friend Sir Andrew calls the vineyards of France our gardens; the spice islands our hot-beds; the Persians, our silk-weavers; and the Chinese, our potters. Nature indeed furnishes us with the bare necessaries of life; but traffic gives us a great variety of what is useful, and at the same time supplies us with every thing that is convenient
and ornamental. Nor is it the least part of this our happiness, 30 that whilst we enjoy the remotest products of the North and
South, we are free from those extremities of weather which give them birth; that our eyes are refreshed with the green fields of Britain, at the same time that our palates are feasted with fruits that rise between the tropics.
For these reasons there are not more useful members in a commonwealth than merchants. They knit mankind together in a mutual intercourse of good offices, distribute the gifts of nature, find work for the poor, add wealth to the rich, and mag
nificence to the great. Our English merchant converts the tin 40 of his own country into gold, and exchanges his wool for rubies.
The Mahometans are clothed in our British manufacture, and the inhabitants of the frozen zone warmed with the fleeces of our sheep.
When I have been upon the Change, I have often fancied one of our old kings standing in person, where he is represented in effigy , and looking down upon the wealthy concourse of people with which that place is every day filled. In this case how would he be surprised to hear all the languages of Europe spoken
in this little spot of his former dominions, and to see so many 10 private men who in his time would have been the vassals of some
powerful Baron negociating like princes for greater sums of money than were formerly to be met with in the royal treasury! Trade, without enlarging the British territories, has given us a sort of additional empire; it has multiplied the number of the rich, made our landed estates infinitely more valuable than they were formerly, and added to them the accession of other estates as valuable as the lands themselves.-C.
No. 287. On the excellence of the British constitution ; advantage
of having three, and not more than three, depositaries of legis-
Ω φιλτάτη γη μητερ, ως σεμνόν σφόδρ εί
Thy happy clime and countless blessings prize ! I look upon it as a peculiar happiness, that were I to chuse of what religion I would be, and under what government I would 20 live, I should most certainly give the preference to that form of
religion and government which is established in my own country. In this point I think I am determined by reason and conviction; but if I shall be told that I am acted n by prejudice, I am sure it is an honest prejudice; it is a prejudice that arises from the love of my country, and therefore such an one as I will always indulge. I have in several papers endeavoured to express my duty and esteem for the Church of England, and design this as an essay upon the civil part of our constitution, having often
THE BRITISH CONSTITUTION.
entertained myself with reflexions on this subject, which I have not met with in other writers.
That form of government appears to me the most reasonable, which is most conformable to the equality that we find in human nature, provided it be consistent with public peace and tranquillity. This is what may properly be called liberty, which exempts one man from subjection to another so far as the order and economy of government will permit.
Liberty should reach every individual of a people, as they all 10 share one common nature; if it only spreads among particular
branches, there had better be none at all, since such a liberty only aggravates the misfortune of those who are deprived of it, by setting before them a disagreeable subject of comparison.
This liberty is best preserved, where the legislative power is lodged in several persons, especially if those persons are of different ranks and interests; for where they are of the same rank, and consequently have an interest to manage peculiar to that rank, it differs but little from a despotical government in
a single person. But the greatest security a people can have for 20 their liberty, is when the legislative power is in the hands of
persons so happily distinguished, that by providing for the particular interests of their several ranks, they are providing for the whole body of the people that has not a common interest with at least one part of the legislators.
If there be but one body of legislators, it is no better than a tyranny; if there are only two, there will want a casting voice, and one of them must at length be swallowed up by disputes and contentions that will necessarily arise between them. Four
would have the same inconvenience as two, and a greater number 30 would cause too much confusion. I could never read a passage
in Polybius n, and another in Ciceron, to this purpose, without a secret pleasure in applying it to the English constitution, which it suits much better than the Roman. Both these great authors give the pre-eminence to a mixt government, consisting of three branches, the regal, the noble, and the popular. They had doubtless in their thoughts the constitution of the Roman commonwealth, in which the Consul represented the king, the Senate the nobles, and the Tribunes the people. This division
of the three powers in the Roman constitution was by no means 40 so distinct and natural, as it is in the English government.
ful heirs apparent to grand empires, when in the possession of them, have become such monsters of lust and cruelty as are a reproach to human nature ?
Some tell us we ought to make our governments on earth like that in heaven, which, say they, is altogether monarchical and
Among several objections that might be made to it, I think the chief are those that affect the consular power, which had only the ornaments without the force of the regal authority. Their number had not a casting voice in it; for which reason if one did not chance to be employed abroad, while the other sat at home, the public business was sometimes at a stand, while the consuls pulled two different ways in it. Besides, I do not find that the consuls had ever a negative voice in the passing of a law,
or decree of the senate, so that indeed they were rather the 10 chief body of the nobility, or the first ministers of state, than a
distinct branch of the sovereignty, in which none can be looked upon as a part, who are not a part of the legislature. Had the consuls been invested with the regal authority to as great a degree as our monarchs, there would never have been any occasion for a dictatorship, which had in it the power of all the three orders, and ended in the subversion of the whole constitution.
Such an history as that of Suetonius n, which gives us a succession of absolute princes, is to me an unanswerable argument against
despotic power. Where the prince is a man of wisdom and 20 virtue, it is indeed happy for his people that he is absolute; but
since, in the common run of mankind, for one that is wise and good you find ten of a contrary character, it is very dangerous for a nation to stand to its chance, or to have its public happiness or misery depend on the virtue or vices of a single person. Look into the history I have mentioned, or into any series of absolute princes, how many tyrants must you read through, before you come to an emperor that is supportable. But this is not all; an honest private man often grows cruel and abandoned, when con
verted into an absolute prince. Give a man power of doing what 30 he pleases with impunity, you extinguish his fear, and conse
quently overturn in him one of the great pillars of morality. This too we find confirmed by matter of fact. · How many hope
I should be 40 and justice
Was man like his Creator in goodness and justice, for following this great model; but where goodness are not essential to the ruler, I would by no means