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which, for the due performance of his function, the citizen should understand (and no other definition is to the point), then it is a great error to suppose that ignorance is peculiar to the unenfranchised. Were there no other illustrations, sufficient proof that this ignorance is shared by those on the register, might be gathered from their conduct at elections. Much might be inferred from the tuft-hunting spirit exhibited in the choice of aristocratic representatives. Some doubts might be cast on the penetration of men who, while they complain of the pressure of taxation, send to parliament hordes of military and naval officers, who have an interest in making that taxation still greater. Or the pretensions of the present holders of political power to superior knowledge, might be tested by quotations from the debates of a farmers' marketordinary, and from those of the assembly into which electoral wisdom is distilled. But without dilating upon these general considerations, let us examine a few of the opinions entertained by the mercantile classes upon State-questions, and see how far these opinions entitle them to a reputation for enlightenment.
“Money is wealth,” was the dogma universally held by legislators and economists before the days of Adam Smith; and in conformity with it Acts of Parliament were, by general consent, framed to attract and retain in the country as much coin as possible. Mr. Mill, in the introduction to his Principles of Political Economy, assumes that the belief is now extinct. It may be so among philosophers, but it is still prevalent in the trading world. We continue to hear deeds praised as tending to “circulate money ;” and, on analyzing the alarm periodically raised that “the money is going out of the country," we find such an occurrence regarded as a disaster in itself, and not simply as indicating that the country is poor in consumable commodities. Is there not occasion for a little “enlightenment” here?
Again, no small number of respectable people on hearing of a fire, or the mad extravagance of a spendthrift, console themselves with the reflection that such things are “good for trade.” Dangerous voters these, if sound political knowledge is a needful qualification.
Even a professed political economist-Doctor Chalmersmaintains that the revenues of landowners form no deduction from the means of society, seeing that the expenditure of such revenues consists “in a transference to the industrious of sustenance and support for their services :" which proposition amounts to this—that it matters not in the end whether A and his servants B, C, and D, live on the produce of their own industry or on the produce of other men's industry! *
There still survives alike amongst rich and poor the belief that the speculations of corn-dealers are injurious to the public. Their anger blinds them to the fact that were not the price raised immediately after a deficient harvest, by the purchases of these large factors, there would be nothing to prevent the people from consuming food at their ordinary rate; which would end in the inadequate supply being eaten up long before the ripening of the next crop. They do not perceive that this mercantile operation is analogous in its effect to putting the crew of a vessel on diminished rations when the stock of provisions is found insufficient to last out the voyage. A somewhat serious error this, for electors to labour under.
What crude theories prevail also respecting the power of a legislature to encourage different branches of industry"agricultural interests” and other “interests.” It is not farmers only who labour under the mistake that their occupation can be made permanently more prosperous than the rest by act of parliament: educated towns-people, too, participate in the delusion; quite forgetting that the greater profitableness artificially given to any particular trade, inevitably draws into that trade such an increased number of competitors as quickly reduces its proffered advantages to the general level, and even for a time below that level. Is not the educator wanted behind the counter and on the farm, as well as in the workshop?
* No doubt the belief which Dr. Chalmers combats, viz., that the landlord's revenue is wholly consumed by him, is an erroneous one; for, as he points out, the greater portion of it goes to maintain those who directly or indirectly minister to the landlord's wants. But Dr. Chalmers overlooks the fact that did the landlord not exist, the services which such now render to him in return for "sustenance and support,” would be rendered, in some other shape, to those producers from whom the landlord's revenue originally came.
A democracy, properly so called, is a political organization modelled in accordance with the law of equal freedom. And if so, those cannot be called democracies under which, as under the Greek and Roman governments, from four-fifths to eleven-twelfths of the people were slaves. Neither can those be called democracies which, like the constitutions of mediæval Italy, conferred power on the burghers and nobles only. Nor can those even be called democracies which, like the Swiss states, have always treated a certain unincorporated class as political outlaws. Enlarged aristocracies these should be termed; not democracies.
In the earlier stages of civilization, before the process of adaptation has yet produced much effect, the struggle for political equality does not exist. There were no agitations for representative government among the Egyptians, or the Persians, or the Assyrians: with them all disputes were as to who should be despot. By the Hindoos a similar state of things is exhibited to the present hour. The like mental condition was shown during the earlier stages of our own progress. In the middle ages fealty to a feudal lord was accounted a duty, and the assertion of personal freedom a crime. Rights of man were not then dreamed of. Revolutions were nothing but dynastic quarrels; not what they have been in later times-attempts to make government more popular. And if, after glancing at the changes which have taken place between the far past and the present, we reflect upon the character of modern ideas and agitations-on declarations of rights, liberty of the press, slave-emancipation, removal of religious disabilities, Reform Bills, Chartism, &c., and consider how through all of them there runs a kindred spirit, and how this spirit is manifesting itself with constantly-increasing intensity and universality, we shall see that these facts imply some moral change; and explicable as they are by the growth of this compound faculty responding to the law of equal freedom, it is reasonable to consider them as showing the mode in which such faculty seeks to place social arrangements in harmony with that law.
If a democracy is produced by this agency, so also is it rendered practicable by it. The popular form of government as contrasted with the monarchical, is professedly one which places less restraint upon the individual. In speaking of it we use such terms as free institutions, self-government, civil liberty, all implying this. But the diminution of external restraint can take place only at the same rate as the increase of internal restraint. Conduct has to be ruled either from without or from within. If the rule from within is not efficient, there must exist a supplementary rule from without. If, on the other hand, all men are properly ruled from within, government becomes needless, and all men are perfectly free. Now the chief faculty of self-rule being the moral sense, the degree of freedom in their institutions which any given people can bear, will be proportionate to the diffusion of this moral sense among them. And only when its influence greatly predominates can so large an instalment of freedom as a democracy implies become possible.
Lastly, the supremacy of this same faculty affords the only guarantee for the stability of a democracy. On the part of the ruled it gives rise to what we call a jealousy of their liberties—a watchful determination to resist anything like encroachment upon their rights; while it generates among the rulers such respect for these rights as checks any desire they may have to aggress. Conversely, let the ruled be deficient in the instinct of freedom, and they will be indifferent to the gradual usurpation of their privileges so long as it entails no immediate inconvenience upon them; and the rulers, in such case, being deficient in sympathetic regard for these privileges, will be, to a like extent, unscrupulous in usurping. Let us observe, in detail, the different modes in which men thus contra-distinguished comport themselves under a representative form of government. Among a people not yet fitted for such a form, citizens, lacking the impulse to claim equal powers, become careless in the exercise of their franchise, and even pride themselves on not interfering in public affairs.* Provided their liberties are but indirectly affected, they will watch the passing of the most insidious measures with vacant unconcern. It is only barefaced aggressions that they can perceive to be aggressions at all. Placing, as they do, but little value on their privileges, they are readily bribed. When threatened, instead of assuming that attitude of dogged resistance which the instinct of freedom dictates, they truckle. If tricked out of a right of citizenship, they are quite indifferent about getting it again; and, indeed, when the exercise of it conflicts with any immediate interest, are glad to give it up,—will even petition, as in times past did many of the corporate towns, both in England and Spain, that they may be excused from electing representatives. Meanwhile, in accordance with that law of social homogeneity lately dwelt upon, those in authority are in a like ratio ready to encroach. They intimidate, they bribe, they plot; and by degrees establish a comparatively coercive government. On the other hand, among a people sufficiently endowed with the faculty responding to the law of equal freedom, no such retrograde process is possible. The man of genuinely democratic feeling loves liberty as a miser loves gold, for its own sake and quite irrespective of its apparent advantages. What he thus highly values he sleeplessly