« AnteriorContinuar »
ing the security of property by means of the internal convulsions usually consequent on a change, made them be generally tolerated, even after knowlege had fitted nations for a form of government more congenial with the spirit of the times. Pure monarchism, therefore, seems to be the natural government of man in a primitive state ; pure republicanism appearing to be compatible only with a more artificial condition of society, when there is a somewhat advanced degree of knowlege and civilisation, and a medium degree of wealth : for wherever a sufficiency of knowlege and civilisation does not exist, the government may be more properly termed an anarchy than a democracy; while all past experience shows that nations never remain long rich and powerful before their ments assume the monarchical shape. It is the nature of all social animals from man downwards to select and look up to one leading individual as a protector or guide ; and had it not indeed been for the exertions of some such able leaders acquiring a sufficient influence among the mass of mankind in our primitive debased state to break up old habits and urge civilisation onwards, the portion of us who now boast of this would probably never have emerged from our original barbarous condition. From the happy years of boyhood to the maturer years of manhood we'all naturally look up to some favorite individual as a leader, while it requires, generally, a considerable degree of compulsion, as well as the powerful excitements of emulation and reward, to induce us in our youthful days to give our lessons but an ordinary degree of attention, it being only when our minds are expanded by a good draught at the fountain of knowlege that we acquire a real relish for following up these useful pursuits. In fact, the mind of man in a primitive savage state is like the mind of infancy in civilised life, requiring some degree of compulsion to urge it' forwards at first in the path of improvement; and but for this urging on by the more gifted individuals who had attained monarchical power among us in the early stages of our society, we might possibly have been at this day as rude and barbarous as the savages of the Ameri
continent, among whom democracy still prevails. Governments must indeed also have a sufficiency of the monarchical principle infused into them in the latter as well as the early ages of nations, to secure stability in the one and impel civilisation onward in the other. We see even among the uncivilised-tribes of present times, that wherever the chiefs do not possess a consi. derable degree of absolute power, the people remain in a state of barbarism and idolatry, in defiance of missionary zeal; while, on the contrary, among those tribes where chiefs endowed with sufficient authority exist, civilisation and knowlege make their rapid strides through the exertions of these benevolent men. Let us
compare the yet debased state of all the American tribes, and the tribes of New Zealand and Australia, among whom republican institutions have all along existed, with the highly-advanced state of the Mexican and Peruvian kingdoms ; or even that of the similarly governed nations of the Society and Sandwich Islands, now fast taking their station among civilised nations through missionary endeavors. In the savage monarchic state, you have only to gain over the kings and chiefs in order to break up old habits, and make civilisation advance through their endeavors; but among the republican tribes, you must separate the children from the parents, and infuse into them new ideas to insure success, from there being no individual among them possessing sufficient power to urge matters onwards as in the other state, by either absolute force, precept, or the influence of superior example. When civilisation is more advanced, however, although it will still proceed more rapidly under the sway of an able and enlightened prince than under a republic, yet under the latter it will be more equably certain. Russia could never have made such gigantic strides in the path of improvement under a republican government, as she has done under the reign of the able and enlightened rulers who have swayed her destinies since the time of Peter the Great: and in Upper Canada and the adjoining republican states, we have an excellent comparative example presented, when contemplating the immensely superior progress the former made to the latter, when under the government of the able and indefatigable Simcoe, and the immensely inferior progress it has again comparatively made under the noodles with which it has since been amicted. Though countries, however, will be pushed on more rapidly in civilisation and improvement under wise and able monarchs than under republics, yet again under bad ones they will retrograde as rapidly;
and the same holds good with respect to morality, for the effects of the conduct of a moral or immoral prince will soon be strikingly manifested in the conduct of his subjects. What a contrast
of manners have we not under the reigns of the mild and moral Charles I. and that of his profligate son. Even in Van Dieman's land, at the present day, we perceive the same effects, on a smaller scale, manifested since the commencement of the moral but leaden sway of Lieutenant-governor Arthur : profligates forsaking their drunken habits, and becoming regular church-goers, and casting off or marrying their mistresses. Call this hypocrisy, or what you may, still the effects on the great body of the people cannot but be salutary, while the race of hypocrites in the present generation will doubtless terminate in a race of unexceptionables in the next, if moral governors continue to sway the destinies of the colony. Republican institutions are undoubtedly the best adapted for the govern
ment of small and of poor states in the more advanced stages of civic lisation, and would be the best fitted also to rich and powerful ones, were mankind sufficiently virtuous to admit of their applicability: for wherever riches prevail, a corresponding laxity of moral principle will prevail there also ; and the purse taking precedence of principle, wealth will thus readily secure an ascendancy, while the jarrings and tumults occasioned by contending factions for superiority will ultimately induce all the orderly disposed to invest the chief magistracy for a permanency in a single individual, with a view of preventing such being a matter of contest in future, and establishing thus a power elevated above the adverse factions to control and neutralise their seditious and tumultuary proceedings.
- The chief aim of every system of government ought to be to unite society together by the bonds of mutual good-will and mutual interest, and link them eventually by the same means to the ruling powers; and in proportion as these objects are accomplished in every state, so proportionally will that state be strong to resist the violence of external enemies, and secure against the machinations of internal ones. In olden feudal times these bonds existed in the fullest extent between the baron and vassal; for, as the vassal looked up to his baronial superior alone for protection and support, the latter found it necessary to conciliate the affections of the other by acts of kindness, knowing that bad treatment would drive him to seek another master, and that on the number: and fidelity of his retainers, his own security, dignity and power. depended. However brutal to the vassals of others, the feudal barons were almost uniformly kind to their own, because self-: interest induced them to be so : while again self-interest and the grateful feelings flowing from the performance of kind actions made the vassal bear a regard for his superior, and display a fidelity in his cause which serve often as topics of wonder and pleasure in modern times to descant on.
What a change do we not perceive to have taken place, however, in the intercourse between the rich and the poor since the feudal ties and feelings of former times have passed away : the master now commonly looking on the servant as one whose welfare seems almost incompatible with his own, and whom he eyes as one ever on the watch to plunder and betray him; while the servant again commonly looks on the master as a griping tyrant, ever ready to grind and oppress him, in whose well-being he takes no interest, and whom every thing combines to point out as a fair and lawful prey to exercise his thievish talents on. The links of friendly feeling between the rich and the poor are, in fact, daily becoming weaker and weaker, and if something is not ere long done to effect a favorable change, the consequences likely to follow may be
most fatal to the country's repose ; for the oppressed and degraded condition of our once bold and kind-hearted English peasantry has attained that gaol which it is painful and fearful for thinking minds to contemplate. It is therefore by the creation of new ties whereby those kindly feelings and feelings of mutual interest, that once linked together the rich and the poor, can be again called into being, that we are to look forward to for effecting a favorable revo lution in the condition of our peasantry, and in the disunited state of feelings and interests now existing between them and their employers. As long either as the great body of the working-classes is excluded from all share in the formation of the legislature, and have thus no link of union between them and the government, so long will the constitution of England continue to be based on a mine for the match of sedition to explode : while the needy and most numerous portion of the community are thus debarred from even an indirect influence in the composition of the government that rules over them, they will continue to be the ready tools of every popular demagogue or ambitious king who may choose to make them an instrument of revolution, or a stepping-stone to arbitrary power; and in the latter way the constitution of England runs a seven-fold greater risk of being overthrown than by the hired bayonets of a standing army: for an ambitious monarch has only to court popularity with the working-classes, and denounce the rich as their oppressors, to speedily effect his purpose. It is with a hope of amalgamating all the heterogeneous and discordant portions of the community into one harmonious whole, and uniting them finally with the government, that I would suggest the following scheme of reform.
At the period of Christmas, when idleness and festivity prevail, two or more individuals (either noblemen or commoners), according to the amount of population, to be elected annually in every country parish by the open votes of male inhabitants above twenty-one years of age, who had resided not less than two years in the parish, and received no relief during that period. These individuals to constitute the county council by which the members of parliament should be elected, and the whole to act individually in their respective parishes as justices of peace, holding weekly courts for the adjudication of matters cognisable by the like. The county council also to have the power of passing all the local acts required by the county; such as for the formation of roads and bridges, erection and government of gaols and hospitals, enclosing of lands, shutting up of paths, &c., and the levying of money for all such purposes within the county, and beyond the jurisdiction of corporate towns sending members to parliament. The council to be summoned, prorogued, dissolved, and presided over by the Lord
lieutenant, and its acts to require his signature to make them valid, when not carried by a majority of two-thirds, the sittings to be open, and proceedings reported, and each act brought in to be published in the county newspapers before discussion, and again when amended before being finally passed into a law, that the public might know precisely what was going forward, and be able to suggest improvements or make opposition to the same. For the towns a council might be elected annually from among the various trades and incorporations, by individuals appertaining ta them who had resided two years in the town, and received no parish relief during that time; admitting individuals whose calling did not come under the head of any of the incorporated trades, to enrol themselves in such as were agreeable to them on payment of a fee. The trades to be divided into masters and journeymen, paying re. latively large and smaller fees on taking out their respective free doms, to form a fund for the benefit of widows and orphans of individuals belonging to the trade : the masters only to be elected to the council, to which a certain number of aldermen chosen by it for a fixed period of years, and a mayor annually should be added; one of these with two of the council sitting daily as magistrates to decide causes brought before them, and the council passing local acts like the county council
. In very large towns the trades and incorpo. rations might again be divided into districts, to prevent confusion from too great a number congregating together. England would by these means form a congeries of petty federal republics, all united by a common head, without any of them possessing sufficient power to disturb the tranquillity of the nation.
While the federal mode of government of the United States forms one of its greatest beauties in one sense, it constitutes one of its greatest defects in another : for although, by each state passing its separate laws, the community is more efficiently legislated for, yet each state is of such extent and possesses such power, as to be capable of weakening the energy and disturbing the tranquillity of the whole, while the laws they pass being for general as well as local purposes, the general laws of the one state are thus always jarring with those of the other; and it is just as absurd to have separate codes of general laws for every state among individuals speaking the same language, swayed by the same customs, ani mated by the same feelings, and claiming the same common descent, as it would to have separate weights and measures for each state, too. Universal suffrage by open vote is only objectionable when the polling-stations are not sufficiently divided, for when voting by parishes the confusion would be even less than it is generally now at elections, while property would still preserve i he same preponderance as at present, for self-interest will always