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vention were either satisfactorily accommodated by the final act; or were induced to accede to it, by a deep conviction of the necessity of sacrificing

private opinions and partial interests to tho publio good and by a dospair of sooing this nocessity diminished by delays, or by new experiments.








It is not a little remarkable, that in every case reported by ancient history, in which government has been established with deliberation and consent, the task of framing it has not been committed to an assembly of men; but has been performed by some individual citizen, of preeminent wisdom and approved integrity.

Minos, we learn, was the primitive founder of the government of Crete; as Zaloucus was of that of the Locrians. Theseus first, and after him Draco and Solon, instituted the government of Athens. Lycurgus was the lawgiver of Sparta. The foundation of the original government of Rome was laid by Romulus : and the work completed by two of his elective successors, Numa, and Tullus Hostilius. On the abolition of royalty, the consular administration was substituted by Brutus, who stepped forward with a project for such a reform, wbich, he alleged, had boon prepared by Servius Tullius, and to which his address obtained the assent and ratification of the senate and people. This remark is applicable to confederate governments also. Amphyction, we are told, was the author of that which bore his name. The Achæan

league received its first birth from Achæus, and its second from Aratus.

What degree of agency these reputed lawgivers might have in their respective establishments, or how far thoy might be clothed with the legitimate authority of the people, cannot, in every instance, be ascertained. In some, however, the proceed . ing was strictly regular. Draco appears to have been entrusted by the people of Athens, with indefinite powers to reform its government and laws. And Solon, according to Plutarch, was in a manner compelled, by the universal suffrage of his fellow-citizens, to take upon him the sole and absolute power of new modelling the constitution. The proceedings under Lycurgus were less regular; but as far as the advocates for a regular reform could prevail, they all turned their eyes towards the single efforts of that celebrated patriot and sage, instead of seeking to bring about a revolution, by the intervention of a deliberative body of citizens.

Whence could it have proceeded, that a people, jealous as the Greeks were of their liberty, should so far abandon the rules of caution, as to place their destiny in the hands of a single citizen ? Whence could it bave proceeded that the Athenians, a people who would not suffer an army to be commanded by fewer than ten generals, and who required no other proof of danger to their liberties than the illustrious merit of a fellow-citizen, should consider one illustrious citizen as a more eligible depository of the fortunes of themselves and their posterity, than a select body of citizens, from whose common deliberations more wisdom, as well as more safety, might have been expected ? These questions cannot be fully answered, without supposing that the fears of discord and disunion among a number of counsellors, exceeded the apprehension of treachery or incapacity in a single indi. vidual. History informs us likewise, of the difficulties with which these celebrated reformers had to contend; as well as of the expedients which they were obliged to employ, in order to carry their reforms into effect. Solon, who seems to bave indulged a more temporizing policy, confessed that he had not

given to his countrymen the government best suited to their happiness, but most tolerable to their prejudices. And Lycurgus. more true to his object, was under the necessity of mixing u portion of violence with the authority of superstition; and of securing his final success, by a voluntary renunciation, first of bis country, and then of his life.

If these lessons teach us, on one hand, to admire the improvement made by America on the ancient mode of preparing and establishing regular plads of government; they serve not less on the other, to admonish us of the bazards and difficulties incident to such experiments, and of the great imprudence of unnecessarily multiplying them.

Is it an unreasonable conjecture, that the errours which may be contained in the plan of the convention, are such as havo rosulted, rather from tho defect of antocodont experience on this complicated and difficult subject, than from a want of accuracy or care in the investigation of it; and, consequently, such as will not be ascertained until an actual trial shall have pointed them out? This conjecture is rendered probable, not only by many considerations of a general nature, but by the particular case of the articles of confederation.

It is observable, that among the numerous objections and amendments suggested by the several states, when these articles were submitted for their ratification, not one is found, which alludes to the great and radical errour, wbich on actual trial has discovered itself. And if we except the observations which New Jersey was led to make, rather by her local situation, than by her peculiar foresight, it may be questioned whether a single suggestion was of sufficient moment to justify a revision of the system. There is abundant reason nevertheless to suppose, that immaterial as these objections were, they would have been adhered to with a very dangerous inflexibility in some states, had not a zeal for their opinions and supposed interests been stifled by the more powerful sentiment of self-preservation. One state, we may remember, persisted for several years in refusing her concurrence, although the enemy remained the whole period at

our gates, or rather in the very bowels of our country. Nor was her pliancy in the end effected by a less motive, than the fear of being chargeable with protracting the public calamities, and endangering the event of the contest. Evory candid reader will make the proper reflections on theso important facts.

A patient, who finds his disorder daily growing worso, and that an efficacious remedy can no longer be delayed without extreme danger; after coolly rovolving his situation, and the characters of different physicians, selects and calls in such of them as ho judges most capable of administering relief, and best entitled to his confidence. The physicians attend : the case of tho patient is carefully examined—a consultation is held: they are unanimously agreed, that the symptoms are critical; but that the case, with proper and timely relief, is so far from being desperate, that it may be made to issue "in an improvement of his constitution. They are equally unanimous in prescribing the remedy, by which this happy effect is to be produced. The prescription is no sooner made known, however, than a number of persons interpose, and, without denying the reality or danger of the disorder, assure the patient that the prescription will be poison to his constitution, and forbid bim under pain of certain death, to make use of it. Might not the patient reasonably demand, before he ventured to follow this advice, that the authors of it should at least agree among themselves on some other remedy to be substituted? And if he found them differing as much from one another, as from bis first counsellors, would he not act prudently, in trying the experiment unanimously recommended by the latter, rather than in hearkening to those who could neither deny the necessity of a speedy remedy, nor agree in proposing one?

Such a patient, and in such a situation, is America at this moment. She has been sensible of her malady. She has obtained a regular and unanimous advice from men of her own deliberate choice. And she is warned by others against following this advice, under pain of the most fatal consequences. Do the monitors deny the reality of her danger? No. Lo

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