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It may further be said, that, though men be much governed by interest; yet even interest itself, and all human affairs, are entirely governed by opinion. Now, there has been a sudden and fenfible change in the opinions of men within these last fifty years, by the progress of learning and of liberty. Most people, in this island, have divefted themselves of all fuperftitious reverence to names and authority: The clergy have much lost their credit: Their pretensions and doctrines have been ridiculed; and even religion can scarcely support itself in the world. The mere name of king commands little respect; and to talk of a king as GOD's vicegerent on earth, or to give him any of those magnificent titles, which formerly dazzled mankind, would but excite laughter in every
Though the crown, by means of its large revenue, may maintain its authority in times of tranquillity, upon private interest and influence; yet, as the least shock or conyulsion must break all these interests to pieces, the royal power, being no longer supported by the settled principles and opinions of men, will immediately difsolve. Had men been in the same disposition at the revolution, as they are at present, monarchy would have run a great risque of being entirely lost in this island.
Durst I venture to deliver my own sentiments amidst these opposite arguments, I would affert, that, unless there happen some extraordinary convulsions the power of the crown, by means of its large revenue, is rather
the encrease ; though, at the same time I own, that its progress seems very flow, and almost insensible. The tide has run long, and with some rapidity, to the side of popular government, and is just beginning to turn towards monarchy.
It is well known, that every government must come to a period, and that death is unavoidable to the political as well as to the animal body. But, as one kind of death may be preferable to another, it may be enquired, , whether it be more desirable for the British conftitution to terminate in a popular government, or in absolute monarchy? Here I would frankly declare, that, though liberty be preferable to lavery, in almost every case; yet I should rather wish to see an absolute monarch than a republic in this island. For, let us consider, what kind of republic we have reason to expect. The question is not concerning any fine imaginary republic, of which a man may form a plan in his closet. There is no doubt, but a popular government may be imagined more perfect than absolute monarchy, or even than our present conftitution. But what reason have we to expect that any such government will ever be established in Britain, upon the dissolution of our monarchy? If any single person acquire power enough to take our constitution to pieces, and put it up a-new, he is really an absolute monarch; and we have already had an instance of this kind, sufficient to convince us, that such a person will never resign his power, or establish any free government. Matters, therefore, must be trusted to their natural progress and operation; and the house of commons, according to its present constitution, must be the only legislature in such a popular government. The inconveniencies attending such a situation of affairs, present themselves by thousands. If the house of commons, in such a case, ever dissolve itself, which is not to be expected, we may look for a civil war every election. If it continue itself, we shall suffer all the tyranny of a faction, subdivided into new factions. And, as such a
violent government cannot long subfift, we shall, at last, after many convulsions, and civil wars, find repose in absolute monarchy, which it would have been happier for us to have established peaceably from the beginning. Absolute monarchy, therefore, is the easiest death, the true Euthanasia of the BRITISH constitution.
Thus, if we have reason to be more jealous of monarchy, because the danger is more imminent from that quarter; we have also reason to be more jealous of popular government, because that danger is more terrible, This may teach us a lesson of moderation in all our political controversies.
ESSA Y VII.
Of PARTIES in GENERAL
F all men, that distinguish themselves by memorable
LEGISLATORS and founders of states, who transmit a system of laws and institutions to secure the peace, happiness, and liberty of future generations. The influence of useful inventions in the arts and sciences may, perhaps, extend farther than that of wise laws, whose effects alę limited both in time and place; but the benefit arising from the former, is not so sensible as that which results from the latter. Speculative sciences do, indeed, improve the mind; but this advantage reaches only to a few persons, who have leisure to apply themselves to them. And as to practical arts, which encrease the commodities and enjoyments of life, it is well known, that men's happiness consists not so much in an abundance of these, as in the peace and security with which they possess them; and those blessings can only be derived from good government. Not to mention, that general virtue and good morals in a ftate, which are so requisite to happiness, can never arise from the most refined precepts of philosophy, or even the feverest injunctions of religion; but must proceed VOL. I.