« PreviousContinue »
of political privileges, made this bitter answer, “ The Greeks have forgotten how to be free.” Freedom, like health, can only be preserved by exercise, and that exercise becomes more necessary as a nation becomes more rich. The inevitable tendency of the centralization principle, like the ochlocratic, though more insidiously, is to despotism. The first is the favourite of those who call themselves Liberals, and the last of the Radicals.
The democratic principle has the most stability, and is the only one under which perfect freedom can exist. The oligarchic, which is the Tory principle, is more stable than the ochlocratic, and is less unfavourable to liberty. The demo- ' cratic is the real conservative principle, and the ochlocratic the real destructive. The democratic principle works the best men to the top—the oligarchic the most selfish—the ochlocratic the most profligate and pretending, whilst it throws into utter obscurity the honest and the wise. The democratic principle tends to make manners frank, noble, and disciplined; the oligarchic makes them artificial and insipid, and the ochlocratic brutal. The three principles exhibit all their characteristics in a greater or less degree wherever they operate, from a parish Vestry to the House of Commons, and in every class of society.
The Aristocratic principle having no real existence in this country, except in the hereditary branch of the legislature, and having nothing to do with executive and subordinate government, it does not come within my purpose to notice it., · I shall hereafter take occasion to enter into a full exposition of the details of democratic government as applicable to parishes, towns, and counties; thence endeavouring to arrive at the true principles of representation, which are certainly not discoverable in our present semi-ochlocratic state, or state of tránsition only, let us hope, from oligarchical predominance. I have said that the oligarchic is the Tory principle; and I may add, the Whig also, except when it is made to give way
to the ochlocratic for the sake of getting or retaining power. Would that we might but see some statesman shake off the shackles of party “like dew-drops from the lion's mane,” and despising the craft of government, patriotically stand forth the champion of democracy in its proper sense of popular or self-government fitly organized! Then should we see faction wither and die, and in its place, public spirit and public purity raise England to the highest pitch of national greatness.
Reader, think of these things—divest yourself of prejudice, and apply what I have said to present circumstances. I will in a future number give you a captivating example from ancient history of the true spirit of government.
THE PHILOSOPHER AND THE MERCHANT.
Wisdom is the Science of Life.- In the capital of an eastern kingdom lived, many years since, Seid Ali, a man so devoted to science that he neglected every thing else. He had made many profound and important discoveries, of which others had availed themselves to obtain distinctionand wealthwhilst he was passing the meridian of life, his patrimony spent in experiments, his health impaired by study, his temper soured by neglect. He had for a neighbour and acquaintance Ghulam Hassan, known throughout the city by the appellation of the Honest Merchant. Hassan had begun the world with very little education and no money, but in recompense, he had a straightforward understanding, quick observation, a very agreeable frankness of manner, and a heart without guile. Consequently he was universally courted, and though much given to hospitality and the performance of very generous acts, he had amassed a considerable fortune. To him in his extremity Seid disclosed all his griefs. When he had finished
“I have a few friends coming to sup with me this evening,” said Hassan ; “ be of the party, and when they are gone, we will talk of your affairs. In the mean time, take this purse for present exigencies. I will enable you soon to repay me. How it is to be done, I will endeavour to devise before we meet again. Only keep up your spirits, and all shall be well.”
Kind intentions need no preface. The moment the guests were gone, Hassan began thus:
“ You see, my friend, you have kept yourself so much in your study, that yours is the fame of a dead man. You have caused vast benefits to be derived to the world, but the world has scarcely seen you, and, of course, never thinks of rewarding your merits. To remedy your error, I have planned a frolic, if you are not too proud to play your part in it; but I have observed, almost every man must stoop to rise, and happy he who can do so without dishonour. You remember our going this time two years to my little country place, near that singularity amongst us, the ancient aqueduct. I cannot tell you how much I was struck with your conjectures as to its origin, and your observations on its construction and materials. Now the old man who used to occupy my. house and accompany visitors to the ruins, is lately dead, and what I propose is, that you should disguise yourself, and take his place. You know what an extensive acquaintance I have, and the terms upon which I live with them. I will take care to make parties to the aqueduct, and you in a homely garb shall be their guide. Every thing strikes by contrast, and a man of your attainments in such a situation cannot, by possibility, fail soon to attract sufficient notice to accomplish all you desire.”
5 I do not know—” said Seid despondingly,
“ I dare say you do not,” interrupted Hassan, “but you know this, that with my little knowledge I have gained a fortune, and that with all yours you have lost one. In matters
of science,” continued he, bending low with unaffected homage, “I kiss the very ground you walk upon, but in practical matters you must put faith in me. Well-grounded faith, my friend, take the word of a successful man, has great virtue in other things besides religion. To morrow I will arrange every thing—not another word-good night, and may Heaven give you your deserts !”
Experience shows, that those who have fallen into a wrong train, frequently meet with nothing but an unbroken series of adverse circumstances. Let them but change their course, and the exact reverse becomes the case; every thing turns to account. Just so it was with Seid. Being duly installed in his new office, his altered way of life quickly produced so great a change in his appearance, health, and spirits, that he scarcely needed any further disguise ; and he felt, moreover, a degree of confidence in himself, of which previously he had no idea. Hassan made frequent parties on his account ; and his fame spread so fast, that a visit to the aqueduct soon came into great vogue. As good fortune would have it, the Vizier himself, who used from time to time to pass an evening with Hassan in the disguise of a brother merchant, sent at this conjuncture notice of his approach. He found in Hassan's company an agreeable relaxation from the cares of government, and the sophistications of the world; besides which, he had looked in vain for any other man, upon whose information and integrity he could implicitly rely. Hassan availed himself of the opportunity to induce the Vizier to accompany him on an early day to his country place, and he informed Seid that he was bringing a friend, with whom he particularly wished him to be well. The Vizier, though not scientific, delighted in the conversation of scientific men, and he had not long listened to Seid, before he remarked to Hassan, “ It strikes me, this is a very extraordinary person. We are alone ; is there any objection to his supping with us?”
" If it be your pleasure, none,” said Hassan.
The scene around the house was lovely, the air cool and fragrant, the repast simple but refined, and without any state. The Vizier was in the best possible humour, and Seid, pleased with so acute and polished a hearer, rose above himself, till at last Hassan suddenly bursting into a fit of laughter, cried out
“ Pardon me, but I can resist no longer.” Then rising up, he gravely added“ I have extreme satisfaction in this opportunity of presenting to his highness the Vizier the philosopher Seid Ali." The surprise of the two was great, and the pleasure mutual. Hassan then related the history of the whole affair, and it will easily be supposed that from that time ample justice was done to the merits of his friend, and would have been to his own, but his reply to the Vizier's intimation was, “ Whatever your goodness intends for me, bestow on Seid. He deserves every thing, and I want nothing.”
THE ALBUNEAN LAKE. - To the left of the road from Rome to Tivoli and nearer the latter lies the Albunean Lake, insignificant as to extent, but interesting from its classical associations. The water resembles warm soapsuds, and sends forth a most noisome sulphureous vapour. Islets of weeds sometimes detach themselves from the sides, and are said to present a remarkable appearance as they are moved about on the constantly bubbling surface. Virgil describes the lake as shaded by a sacred grove. and as having a communication with the infernal regions. This fiction must have been readily believed in the days of heathen poetry; for Sir William Gell, in his Topography of Rome and its Vicinity, observes, “ the rocky crust of the margin probably .covers an unfathonable abyss, for a stone thrown into the lake occasions in its descent so violent a dis