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too unstable; that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties; and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice, and the rights of the minor party, but by the superiour force of an interested and overbearing majority. However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no foundation, the evidence of known facts will not permit us to deny that they are in some degree true. It will’be found, indeed, on a candid review of our situation, that some of the distresses under which we labour, have been erroneously charged on the operation of our governments; but it will be found, at the same time, that other causes will not alone account for many of our heaviest misfortunes; and, par. ticularly, for that prevailing and increasing distrust of publio engagemonts, and alarm for private rights, which are echoed from one end of the continent to the other. These must be chiefly, if not wholly, effects of the unsteadiness and injustice, with which a factious spirit has tainted our public admin. istrations.
By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens,
or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
Thero are two mothods of curing the mischiefs of faction : The one, by romoving its causos; the other, by controlling its M M effects.
There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: The one by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opi- M nions, the same passions, and the same interests.
It could never be more truly said, than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment, without which it instantly expires. But it could not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life because it nourishes faction, than it would
be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.
The second expedient is as impractioablo, as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.
As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to an uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.
The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them every where brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning govornmont, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders, ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions, whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, bave, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other, than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind, to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and funciful distinctions bave been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions, and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most
common and durable source of factions, has been the various y ,
and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold, and
thuse who are without property, have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of nocessity in civil. ized nations, and divide thom into difforent classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modorn legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of government.
No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause ;- because his interest will certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay, with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time; yet what are many of the most important acts of legislation, but so many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concerning the rights of large bodies of citizens ? and what are the different classes of legislators, but advocates and parties to the causes which they determine ? Is a law proposed concerning private debts ? It is a question to which the creditors are
parties on one side, and the debtors on the other. Justice ought |-Y
to hold the balance betweon them. Yet the parties are, and must bo, themselves the judges : and the most numerous party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction, must be expected to prevail. Shall domestic manufactures bo encouraged, and in wbat degree, by restrictions on foreign manufactures ? are ques tions which would be differently decided by the landed and the manufacturing classes; and probably by neither with a sole regard to justice and the public good. The apportionment of taxes, on the various descriptions of property, is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act, in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party, to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling, with which they overburden tho inferiour number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets.
It is la vain to say, that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subsorviont to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm : nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all, without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another, or the good of the whole.
The inference to which we are brought is, that the causes of faction cannot be remoyed; and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its effects.
If á faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat lits sinister views, by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the constitution. When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest, both the public good and the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good, and private rights, against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our taquiries are directed. Let me 'add, that it is the great dessderatym, by whiol alone this form of government can be rescued from the opprobplum under which it has so long laboured, and be recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.
By what means is this object attainable ? Evidently by ono of two only. Either the existence of the same passion or in- .
terest in a majority, at the same time must be prevented; or the ✓ majority, having such coexistent passion or interest, must be
rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression. If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered to coincide, we well know, that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control. They are not found to be such on the in.
justice and violence of individuals, and lose their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together; that is, in proportion as their efficacy becomes needful.
From this view of the subject, it may be concluded, that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the govornmont in person, can admit of no cure from the mischief! of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert, results from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party, or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is, that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths. Thborptio politicians, who have patronized this species of govt ernment, have erroneously supposed, that by reducing mankind to a porfect equality in their political-rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.
A republic, by which I mean a government in which the schemo of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the union.
The two great points of difference, betwegn a democracy and a republic, are, first, the delegation of the
government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens. elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphère of country, over which the
latter may be extended. The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refino and enlarge the publio views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whoso wisdom may best discerr 106 true intierest of their country, and whose patriotism