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would, of themselves, be sufficient to account for the awful character which the attempts of men to change generally their institutions, have almost universally assumed, and for the utter failure in which such attempts have commonly terminated -but to all these we have now to add the great, est of all the errors they have been disposed, almost universally in such times, to commit-and which has, in every instance, been found to fix and to add incalculably to the evil operation of all the other sources of mischief-we mean—the disposition which, in such situations of society, has uniformly been manifested, to call the mass of the people, at least to a greater or less extent, into the active management of affairs, either directly or indirectly—and thus at once to take them from the sphere of operation which nature has assigned them-and, by their means, to throw the whole order of life into ungovernable and irremediable confusion. This bold statement, however, for such we have no doubt it will be regarded, though to ourselves it seems the plainest and most unquestionable of all truths, will require some additional proof and illustration.

We are then, the farthest possible from entertaining any low estimate of the rights—the capacities--or the power of doing good, which be

long to the people—and we think that the chief object of all good legislation is to promote the best interests of the mass of the community. We are friends, therefore, to the education of the people--we would do every thing to promote their intellectual--their moral--and their religious advancement--we ardently wish to see their social institutions improved--we would cautiously but studiously remove all obstructions to the free exercise of their industry--we should glory to see the people elevated far higher than, in most cases, they have ever yet been, in the scale of society --and we have no objection to their being made acquainted with all the measures of government, and permitted to speculate freely respecting the courses that are adopted for the bettering of their own interests.

Having these impressions respecting the capacities and rights of the community, we are not disposed to approve of the language at least, of the following passage from a great French writer, who has there expressed the opinions of his government—but whose ideas have probably received a strong tinge from the character of the times in which he lived-and from the miserable attempts into which, by the arts of designing men, he had too often seen the people of his ou

own

country deluded to their ruin.“ Destitute,” says he, “of intelligence, the prey of ignorance, the great body of the people can only offer to society an industry more or less limited; without reason, without intelligence, careless of the future, living from day to day, they form in the centre of society a mass ever resembling itself, constantly subjected to external influence, ever at the mercy of intriguers, capable only of achieving a little good, if chance impels it in the right direction, but of accomplishing infinite evil, ever evolving in an eternal circle of violence and excesses, of follies and contradictions."

Now, believing as we do, that there is substantial truth at the bottom of this statement, we are yet disposed to question the propriety of the terms in which it is conveyed; and to think that these terms are fitted to render offensive and revolting, a truth which, when properly expressed, would meet not only with the assent of all enlightened men, but of the best and greatest portion of the people themselves.

For the people are not, as stated in this passage, a mass in the centre of society ever resembling itself. On the contrary, they not only are a very different body at different periods of society—but they exist in all conceivable degrees

of diversity, at any one moment in which their condition can be contemplated—and, so far are they from being destitute of reason and intelligence within their own sphere-or being the constant prey of all external attempts to agitate them, that it is only in times when they have been subjected to undue excitement, that this versatility of their nature is ever displayed—while in their more usual and quiet and prosperous condi. tion, they strongly resist all attempts at interfering with their habitual modes of thought and of action-and conduct themselves in the discharge of their appropriate duties with a high degree of intelligence and propriety.

But it is simply because we have this high opinion of the people, when acting in their appropriate sphere, that we reprobate all attempts to take them out of that field, and that we think, and are assured, that in all quiet times, the intelligent and well-conditioned portion of the people themselves consider all such attempts to be neither complimentary to their understandings, nor fitted to have the least effect in improving their character or bettering their condition.

The question, in short, is not respecting the value or dignity of the rights and intelligence of the people—but respecting the true limits within

which that intelligence and those rights can be most usefully and happily exercised—and, believing as we do, that the science of government, or even the practical application of that science to exciting circumstances, is one of the highest fields, and most difficult to be duly occupied, in which the human intellect can busy itself-that it requires much time and study, and long habits of observation and experience for its due occupancy-and, moreover, that there are at any time, and even in the most generally improved conditions of the human intellect, but a few—a very few minds—that are qualified to enter with success on the cultivation of that field-insomuch, that men of the widest and justest theoretical views, and of the readiest and most commanding eloquence, are often signally deficient in talent for the successful conduct of affairs—having, we say, this high opinion of the difficulty and the almost exclusive nature of the field in which legislative talent and skill are to be exercised, we venture to believe that it is one of the greatest of all the errors which have ever been extensively committed by men, to suppose that there is the slightest propriety in ever calling the mass of the people—or even any considerable proportion of that mass,-into the direct management of the affairs which that field of

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