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always a blessing; Mr. Mitford omits no op- it would be as absurd to establish popular goportunity of assuring us that it is always a vernments, as to abolish all restraints in a curse. The fact is, that a good government, school, or to untie all the strait-waistcoats in a like a good coat, is that which fits the body for mad-house. which it is designed. A man who, upon ab- Hence it may be concluded, that the happiest stract principles, pronounces a constitution to state of society is that in which supreme power be good, without an exact knowledge of the resides in the whole body of a well-informed people who are to be governed by it, judges as people. This is an imaginary, perhaps an un. absurdly as a tailor who should measure the attainable state of things. Yet, in some mea. Belvidere Apollo for the clothes of all his cus- sure, we may approximate to it; and he alone somers. The demagogues who wished to see deserves the name of a great statesman, whose Portugal a republic, and the wise critics who principle it is to extend the power of the revile the Virginians for not having instituted people in proportion to the extent of their a peerage, appear equally ridiculous to all men knowledge, and to give them every facility for of sense and candour.
obtaining such a degree of knowledge as may That is the best government which desires render it safe to trust them with absolute power. io make the people happy, and knows how to In the mean time, it is dangerous to praise or make them happy. Neither the inclination condemn constitutions in the abstract; since, nor the knowledge will suffice alone, and it is from the despotism of St. Petersburgh to the difficult to find them together.
democracy of Washington, there is scarcely a Pure democracy, and pure democracy alone, form of government which might not, at least satisfies the former condition of this great pro- in some hypothetical case, be the best possible. blem. That the governors may be solicitous If, however, there be any form of government only for the interests of the governed, it is ne- which in all ages and nations has always been, cessary that the interests of the governors and and must always be pernicious, is certainly the governed should be the same. This cannot that which Mr. Mitford, on his usual principle be often the case where power is intrusted to of being wiser than all the rest of the world, one or to a few. The privileged part of the has taken under his especial patronage-pure community will doubtless derive a certain de- oligarchy. This is closely and indeed inse. gree of advantage from the general prosperity parably connected with another of his eccentric of the state ; but they will derive a greater from tastes, a marked partiality for Lacedæmon, and oppression and exaction. The king will desire a dislike of Athens. Mr. Mitford's book has, a useless war for his glory, or a parc-aux-cerfs I suspect, rendered these sentiment in some for his pleasure. The nobles will demand mo- degree popular; and I shall, therefore, examine nopolies and lettres-de-cachet. In proportion as them ai some length. the number of governors is increased the evil The shades in the Athenian character strike is diminished. There are fewer to contribute, the eye more rapidly than those in the Lace. and more to receive. The dividend which each dæmonian; not because they are darker, but can obtain of the public plunder becomes less because they are on a brighter ground. The and less tempting. But the interests of the law of ostracism is an instance of this. Nothing subjects and the rulers never absolutely coin can be conceived more odious than the practice cide till the subjects themselves become the of punishing a citizen, simply and professedly, rulers; that is, till the government be either for his eminence ;-and nothing in the insti. immediately or mediately democratical. tutions of Athens is more frequently or more
But this is not enough. “Will without justly censured. Lacedæmon was free from power,” said the sagacious Casimir to Milor this. And why? Lacedæmon did not need it. Beefington, “is like children playing at sol- Oligarchy is an ostracism of itself,-an ostra. diers." The people will always be desirous to cism not occasional, but permanent,—not dupromote their own interests; but it may be bious, but certain. Her laws prevented the doubted, whether, in any community, they were development of merit, instead of attacking its ever sufficiently educated to understand them. maturity. They did not cut down the plant in Fiven in this island, where the multitude have its high and palmy state, but cursed the soil long been better informed than in any other with eternal sterility. In spite of the law of part of Europe, the rights of the many have ostracism, Athens produced, within a hundred generally been asserted against themselves by and fifty years, the greatest public men that the patriotism of the few. Free trade, one of ever existed. Whem had Sparta to ostracize! the greatest blessings which a government can She produced, at most, four eminent men, Bra. confer on a people, is in almost every country sidas, Gylippus, Lysander, and Agesilaus. Or unpopular. It may be well doubted, whether these, not one rose to distinction within her a liberal policy with regard to our commercial jurisdiction. It was only when they escaped relations, would find any support from a Par- from the region within which the influence of liament elected by universal suffrage. The re- aristocracy withered every thing good and publicans on the other side of the Atlantic have noble; it was only when they ceased to be Larecently adopted regulations, of which the con- cedæmonians that they became great men. sequences will, before long, show us,
Brasidas, among the cities of Thrace, was “How nations sink, by darling schemes oppressed, strictly a democratical leader, the favourite When vengeance listens to the fool's request."
minister and general of the people. The same The people are to be governed for their own may be said of Gylippus, at Syracuse. Lysan good; and, that they may be governed for their der, in the Hellespont, and Agesilaus, in Asia, own good, they must not be governed by their were liberated for a time from the hateful reown ignorance. There are countries in which straints imposed by the constitution of Lycur
gus. Both acquired fame abroad, and both re- and they revenged none. Above all, they looked turned to be watched and depressed at home. on a citizen who served them well as their This is not peculiar to Sparta. Oligarchy, deadliest enemy. These are the arts which wherever it has existed, has always stunted protract the existence of governments. the growth of genius. Thus it was at Rome, Nor were the domestic institutions of Lacetill about a century before the Christian era; dæmon less hateful or less contemptible than we read of abundance of consuls and dictators her foreign policy. A perpetual interference who won battles and enjoyed triumphs, but we with every part of the system of human life, a look in vain for a single man of the first order constant struggle against nature and reason, of intellect--for a Pericles, a Demosthenes, or characterized all her laws. To violate even a Hannibal. The Gracchi formed a strong de- prejudices which have taken deep root in the mocratical party; Marius revived it; the foun- minds of a people is scarcely expedient; to dations of the old aristocracy were shaken ; think of extirpating natural appetites and pasand two generations fertile in really great men sions is frantic: the external symptoms may appeared.
be occasionally repressed, but the feeling still Venice is a still more remarkable instance: exists, and, debarred from its natural objects, in her history we see nothing but the state ; preys on the disordered mind and body of its aristocracy had destroyed every seed of genius victim. Thus it is in convents—thus it is and virtue. Her dominion was like herself, among ascetic sects—thus it was among the lofty and magnificent, but founded on filth and Lacedæmonians. Hence arose that madness, weeds. God forbid that there should ever again or violence approaching to madness, which, in exist a powerful and civilized state, which, spite of every external restraint, often appeared after existing through thirteen hundred eventful among the most distinguished citizens of Sparta. years, shall not bequeath to mankind the me- Cleomenes terminated his career of raving mory of one great name or one generous action. cruelty, by cutting himself to pieces. Pausa
Many writers, and Mr. Mitford among the nias seems to have been absolutely insane: he number, have admired the stability of the Spar- formed a hopeless and profligate scheme; he tan institutions; in fact, there is little to ad- betrayed it by the ostentation of his behaviour mire, and less to approve. Oligarchy is the and the imprudence of his measures; and he weakest and most stable of governments, and alienated, by his insolence, all who might have it is stable because it is weak. It has a sort served or protected him. Xenophon, a warm of valetudinarian longevity; it lives in the ba- admirer of Lacedæmon, furnishes us with the lance of Sanctorius; it takes no exercise, it strongest evidence to this effect. It is imposexposes itself to no accident, it is seized with sible not to observe the brutal and senseless a hypochondriac alarm at every new sensation, fury which characterizes almost every Spartan it trembles al every breath, it lets blood for with whom he was connected. Clearchus every inflammation, and thus, without ever en nearly lost his life by his cruelty. Chirisophus joying a day of health or pleasure, drags on deprived his army of the services of a faithful its existence to a doting and debilitated old guide by his unreasonable and ferocious seage.
verity. But it is needless to multiply instances. The Spartans purchased for their govern- Lycurgus, Mr. Mitford's favourite legislator, ment a prolongation of its existence, by the founded his whole system on a mistaken prinsacrifice of happiness at home and dignity ciple. He never considered that governments abroad. They cringed to the powerful; they were made for men, and not men for govern. trampled on the weak; they massacred their ments. Instead of adapting the constitution to Helots; they betrayed their allies; they con. the people, he distorted the minds of the people trived to be a day too late for the battle of Ma- to suit the constitution, a scheme worthy of the rathon; they attempted to avoid the battle of Laputan Academy of Projectors. And this apSalamis; they suffered the Athenians, to whom pears to Mr. Mitford to constitute his peculiar they owed their lives and liberties, to be a title to admiration. Hear himself: “What to second time driven from their country by the modern eyes most strikingly sets that extraPersians, that they might finish their own for- ordinary man above all other legislators is, that tifications on the Isthmus; they attempted to in so many circumstances, apparently out of take advantage of the distress to which exer- the reach of law, he controlled and formed to Lions in their cause had reduced their preser- his own mind the wills and habits of his peovers, in order to make them their slaves; they ple.” I should suppose that this gentleman had strove to prevent those who had abandoned the advantage receiving his education under their walls to defend them, from rebuilding the ferula of Dr. Pangloss; for his metaphysics them to defend themselves; they commenced are clearly those of the castle of Thunder-tenthe Peloponnesian war in violation of their en- tronckh, “ Remarquez bien que les nez ont été gagements with Athens; they abandoned it in faits pour porter des lunettes, aussi avons nous violation of their engagements with their allies; des lunettes. Les jambes sont visiblement in they gave up to the sword whole cities, which stitutées pour être chaussées, et nous avons had placed themselves under their protection; des chausses. Les cochons étant faits pour they bartered for advantages confined to them- étre mangés, nous mangeons du porc touto selves, the interest, the freedom, and the lives l'année." of those who had served them most faithfully; At Athens the laws did not constantly inthey took with equal complacency, and equal terfere with the tastes of the people. The infamy, the stripes of Elis and the bribes of children were not taken from their parents by Persia; they never showed either resentment that universal step-mother, the state. They
ratitude, they abstained from no injury, I were not starved into thieves, or tortured into
bullies; there was no established table at tending for a remote colony, a frontier town, which every one must dine, no established the honours of a flag, a salute or a title, that style in which every one must converse. an they can make fine speeches, and do good Athenian might eat whatever he could afford offices to their enemies. The Black Prince to buy, and talk as long as he could find peo- waited behind the chair of his captive; Villars ple to listen. The government did not tell the interchanged repartees with Eugene; George people what opinions they were to hold, or II. sent congratulations to Louis XV., during a what songs they were to sing. Freedom pro- war, upon occasion of his escape from the atduced excellence. Thus philosophy took its tempt of Damien; and these things are fine origin. Thus were produced those models of and generous, and very gratifying to the author poetry, of oratory, and of the arts, which of the Broad Stone of Honour, and all the other scarcely fall short of the standard of ideal ex-wise men who think, like him, that God made cellence. Nothing is more conducive to hap- the world only for the use of gentlemen. But piness than the free exercise of the mind, in they spring in general from utter heartlessness. pursuits congenial to it. This happiness, as- No war ought ever to be undertaken but under suredly, was enjoyed far more at Athens than circumstances which render all interchange of at Sparta. The Athenians are acknowledged courtesy between the combatants impossible. even by their enemies to have been distin. It is a bad thing that men should hate each guished, in private life, by their courteous and other, but it is far worse that they should conamiable demeanour. Their levity, at least, tract the habit of cutting one another's throats was better than Spartan sullenness, and their without hatred. War is never lenient but impertinence, than Spartan insolence. Even where it is wanton; when men are compelled in courage it may be questioned whether they to fight in self-defence, they must hate and were inferior to the Lacedæmonians. The avenge; this may be bad, but it is human nagreat Athenian historian has reported a re- ture, it is the clay as it came from the hand of markable observation of the great Athenian the potter. minister. Pericles maintained that his coun- It is true that among the dependencies of trymen, without submitting to the hardships Athens, seditions assumed a character more of a Spartan education, rivalled all the achieve- ferocious than even in France, during the ments of Spartan valour, and that therefore reign of terror—the accursed Saturnalia of an the pleasures and amusements which they en- accursed bondage. It is true that in Athens joyed were to be considered as so much clear itself, where such convulsions were scarcely gain. The infantry of Athens was certainly known, the condition of the higher orders was not equal to that of Lacedæmon; but this disagreeable; that they were compelled to seems to have been caused merely by want of contribute large sums for the service or the practice: the attention of the Athenians was amusement of the public, and that they were diverted from the discipline of the phalanx to sometimes harassed by vexatious informers. that of the trireme. The Lacedæmonians, in Whenever such cases occur, Mr. Mitford's spite of all their boasted valour, were, from skepticism vanishes. The “if,” the “but,” the same cause, timid and disorderly in naval the “it is said,” the “ if we may believe," with action.
which he qualifies every charge against a But we are told that crimes of great enormity tyrant or an aristocracy, are at once abandonwere perpetrated by the Athenian government ed. The blacker the story, the firmer is his and the democracies under its protection. It belief; and he never fails to inveigh with is true that Athens too often acted up to the hearty bitterness against democracy as the full extent of the laws of war, in an age when source of every species of crime. those laws had not been mitigated by causes The Athenians, I believe, possessed more which have operated in later times. This ac- liberty than was good for them Yet I will cusation is, in fact, common to Athens, to La- venture to assert, that while the splendour, the cedæmon, to all the states of Greece, and to all intelligence, and the energy of that great peostates similarly situated. Where communities ple were peculiar to themselves, the crimes are very large, the heavier evils of war are relt with which they are charged arose from but by few. The ploughboy sings, the spin- causes which were common to them with ning-wheel turns round, the wedding-day is every other state which then existed. The fixed, whether the last battle were lost or won. violence of faction in that age sprang from a In little states it cannot be thus; every man cause which has always been fertile in every feels in his own property and person the effect political and moral evil, domestic slavery. of a war. Every man is a soldier, and a sol- The effect of slavery is completely to disdier fighting for his nearest interests. His solve the connection which naturally exists own trees have been cut down-his own corn between the higher and lower classes of free has been burnt-his own house has been pil- citizens. The rich spend their wealth in pur. laged — his own relations have been killed. chasing and maintaining slaves. There is no How can he entertain towards the enemies of demand for the labour of the poor; the fable his country the same feelings with one who of Menenius ceases to be applicable; the belly has suffered nothing from them, except per- communicates no nutriment to the members; haps the addition of a small sum to the taxes there is an atrophy in the body politic. The which he pays ? Men in such circumstances two parties, therefore, proceed to extremities cannot be generous. They have too much at utterly unknown in countries where they have staker. It is when they are, if I may so express mutually need of each other. In Rome the inysels, playing for love, it is when war is a oligarchy was too powerful to be subverted by mere game at chess, it is when they are con- force; and neither the tribunes nor the popular
assemblies, though constitutionally omnipo- thenes, and comparing him with his rival, tent, could maintain a successful contest Æschines. Let him speak for himself. against men who possessed the whole property “In earliest youth Demosthenes earned an of the state. Hence the necessity for measures opprobrious nickname by the effeminacy of tending to unsettle the whole frame of society, his dress and manner.” Does Mr. Mitford and to take away every motive of industry; know that Demosthenes denied this charge, the abolition of debts, and the Agrarian laws and explained the nickname in a perfectly dif-propositions absuruly condemned by men ferent manner ?* And if he knew it, should who do not consider the circumstances from he not have stated it? He proceeds thus:which they sprung. They were the desperate "On emerging from minority, by the Athenian remedies of a desperate disease. In Greece law, at five-and-twenty, he earned another opthe oligarchal interest was not in general so probious nickname by a prosecution of his deeply rooted as at Rome. The multitude, guardians, which was considered as a distherefore, often redressed, by force, grievances honorable attempt to extort money from them.” which, at Rome, were commonly attacked un- In the first place, Demosthenes was not five. der the forins of the constitution. They drove and-twenty years of age. Mr. Milford might out or massacred the rich, and divided their have learnt from so common a book as the property. If the superior union or military Archæologia of Archbishop Potter, that, at skill of the rich rendered them victorious, they twenty, Athenian citizens were freed from the took measures equally violent, disarmed all control of their guardians, and began to ma in whom they could not confide, often slaugh- nage their own property. The very speech of tered great numbers, and occasionally ex- Demosthenes against his guardians proves pelled the whole commonalty from the city, most satisfactorily that he was under twenty. and remained, with their slaves, the sole in- In his speech against Midias, he says, that habitants.
when he undertook that prosecution he was From such calamities Athens and Lacede- quite a boyat His youth might, therefore, ex. mon alone were almost completely free. At cuse the step, even if it had been considered, Athens, the purses of the rich were laid under as Mr. Mitford says, a dishonourable attempt regular contribution for the support of the to extort money. But who considered it as poor; and this, rightly considered, was as such ? Not the judges, who condemned the much a favour to the givers as to the re- guardians. The Athenian courts of justice ceivers, since no other measure could possibly were not the purest in the world; but their dehave saved their houses from pillage, and cisions were at least as likely to be just as the their persons from violence. It is singular abuse of a deadly enemy. Mr. Mitford reft 's that Mr. Mitford should perpetually reprobate for confirmation of his statement to Æschii s a policy which was the best that could be pur- and Plutarch. Æschines by no means bears sued in such a state of things, and which alone him out, and Plutarch directly contradicts him. saved Athens from the frightful outrages which “Not long after," says Mr. Mitford, “ he took were perpetrated at Corcyra.
blows publicly in the theatre (I preserve the Lacedæmon, cursed with a system of slave- orthography, if it can be so called, of this his. ry more odious than has ever existed in any torian) from a petulant youth of rank named other country, avoided this evil by almost Meidias.” Here are two disgraceful mistakes. totally annihilating private property. Lycur- In the first place, it was long after; eight years gus began by an Agrarian law. He abolished at the very leasi, probably much more. In the all professions except that of arms; he made next place, the petulant youth, of whom Mr. the whole of his community a standing army, Mitford speaks, was fifty years old. Really every member of which had a common right Mr. Mitford has less reason to censure the to the services of a crowd of miserable bond-carelessness of his predecessors than to remen; he secured the state from sedition at the form his own. After this monstrous inaccu. expense of the Helots. Of all the parts of his racy with regard to facts, we may be able to system this is the most creditable to his head, judge what degree of credit ought to be given and the most disgraceful to his heart.
to the vague abuse of such a writer. “The These considerations, and many others of cowardice of Demosthenes in the field after. equal importance, Mr. Mitford has neglected; wards became notorious." Demosthenes was but he has a yet heavier charge to answer. a civil character; war was not his business. He has made not only illogical inferences, but In his time the division between military and false statements. While he never states, with political offices was beginning to be strongly out qualifications and objections, the charges marked; yet the recollection of the days when which the earliest and best historians have every citizen was a soldier was still recent brought against his favourite tyrants, Pisistra. In such states of society a certain degree of tus, Hippias, and Gelon, he transcribes, with disrepute always attaches to sedentary men ; out any hesitation, the grossest abuse of the but that any leader of the Athenian democracy least authoritative writers against every de- could have been, as Mr. Mitford says of De. mocracy and every demagogue. Such an ac-mosthenes, a few lines before, remarkable for cusation should not be made without being supported; and I will therefore select one out of many passages which will fully substantiate See the speech of Æschines against Timarchus
+ Μετρακυλλιον ων κομιδη. the charge, and convict Mr. Mitford of wilful
I Whoever will read the speech of Demosthenet misrepresentation, or of negligence scarcely against Midias will find the statements in the text conless culpable. Mr. Mitford is speaking of one firmed, and will have, moreover, the pleasure of be
coming acquainted with one of the finest compositions of the greatest men that ever lived, Demos-l in the world.
an extraordinary deficiency of personal cou-s notion to those readers who have not thu rage” is absolutely impossible. What merce- means of comparing his statements with the nary warrior of the time exposed his life to original authorities, of his extreme partiality greater or more constant perils? Was there and carelessness. Indeed, whenever this hisa single soldier at Chæronea who had more torian mentions Demosthenes, he violates all cause to tremble for his safety than the orator, the laws of candour and even of decency; he vho, in case of defeat, could scarcely hope for weighs no authorities; he makes no allow1. ercy from the people whom he had misled, ances; he forgets the best-authenticated facts oi the prince whom he had opposed? Were in the history of the times, and the noi the ordinary fluctuations of popular feeling rally recognised principles of human nature. enough ‘o deter any coward from engaging in The opposition of the great orator to the policy political conflicts ? Isocrates, whom Mr. Mit- of Philip, he represents as neither more nor ford extols because he constantly employed all less than deliberate villany. I hold almost the the flowers of his schoolboy rhetoric to deco- same opinion with Mr. Mitford respecting the rate oligarchy and tyranny, avoided the judi- character and the views of that great and accial and political meetings of Athens from complished prince. But am I, therefore, to mere timidity, and seems to have hated de- pronounce Demosthenes profligate and insinmocracy only because he durst_not look a cere? Surely not; do we not perpetually see popular assembly in the face. Demosthenes men of the greatest talents and the purest inten. was a man of a feeble constitution; his nerves tions misled by national or factious prejudices? were weak, but his spirit was high; and the The most respectable people in England were, energy and enthusiasm of his feelings sup- little more than forty years ago, in the habit ported him through life and in death.
of uttering the bitterest abuse against WashSo much for Demosthenes. Now for the ington and Franklin. It is certainly to be reorator of aristocracy. I do not wish to abuse gretted that men should err so grossly in their Æschines. He may have been an honest estimate of character. But no person who man. He was certainly a great man; and I knows any thing of human nature will impute feel a reverence, of which Mr. Mitford seems such errors to depravity. to have no notion, for great men of every party. Mr. Mitford is not more consistent with him But when Mr. Mitford says, that the private self than with reason. Though he is the adcharacter of Æschines was without stain, does vocate of all oligarchies, he is also a warm he remember what Æschines has himself con- admirer of all kings; and of all citizens who fessed in his speech against Timarchus? I raised themselves to that species of sovereigncan make allowances, as well as Mr. Mitford, ty which the Greeks denominated tyranny. If for persons who lived under a different system monarchy, as Mr. Mitford holds, be in itself a of laws and morals; but let them be made im- blessing, democracy must be a better form of partially. If Demosthenes is to be attacked, government than aristocracy, which is always on account of some childish improprieties, opposed to the supremacy, and even to the proved only by the assertion of an antagonist, eminence of individuals. On the other hand, what shall we say of those maturer vices it is but one step that separates the demagogue which that antagonist has himself acknow- and the sovereign. ledged? “Against the private character of If this article had not extended itself to so Æschines,” says Mr. Mitford, “Demosthenes great a length, I should offer a few observaseems not to have had an insinuation to op- tions on some other peculiarities of this writer, pose.” Has Mr. Mitford ever read the speech -his general preference of the Barbarians to of Demosthenes on the embassy? Or can he the Greeks,-his predilection for Persians, Carhave forgotten, what was never forgotten by thaginians, Thracians, for all nations, in short, any one else who ever read it, the story which except that great and enlightened nation of Demosthenes relates with such terrible energy which he is the historian. But I will confine of language concerning the drunken brutality myself to a single topic. of his rival? True or false, here is something Mr. Mitford has remarked, with truth and more than an insinuation ; and nothing can spirit, that "any history perfectly written, but vindicate the historian who has rverluoked it especially a Grecian history perfectly written, from the charge of negligence or of partiality. should be a political institute for all nations.' But Æschines denied the story. And did not It has not occurred to him that a Grecian his. Demosthenes also deny the story respecting tory, perfectly written, should also be a comhis childish nickname, which Mr. Mitford has plete record of the rise and progress of poetry, nevertheless told without any qualification ? philosophy, and the arts. Here his work is But the judges, or some part of them, showed, extremely deficient. Indeed, though it may by their clamour, their disbelief of the relation seem a strange thing to say of a gentleman of Demosthenes. And did not the judges, who who has published so many quartos, Mr. Mittried the cause between Demosthenes and his ford seems to entertain a feeling, bordering on guardians indicate, in a much clearer manner, contempt, for literary and speculative purtheir approbation of the prosecution ? But suits. The talents of action almost exclusively Demosthenes was a demagogue, and is to be attract his notice, and he talks with very comslancered. Æschines was an aristocrat, and placent disdain of the “idle learned.”. Homer, is to be panegyrized. Is this a history, or a indeed, he admires, but principally, I am party-pamphlet?
afraid, because he is convinced that Homer These passages, all selected from a single could neither read nor write. He could not vage :: Mr. Mitford's work, may give some avoid speaking of Socrates; but he has beco