« ZurückWeiter »
be do change by usurpation ; for though this, in one in. stance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free Governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance, in permanent evil, any partial or transient benefit which the use can, at any time, yield.
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. În vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in the courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national moraliiy can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.
It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular Government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free Government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?
Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a Government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method to preserve it is to use it as sparingly as possible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements, to prepare for danger, frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding, likewise, the
accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasion of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belong to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should coöperate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is esseutial that you should practically bear in mind, that toward the payment of debts there must be revenue;-that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties) ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the Government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at that time dictate.
Observe good faith and justice toward all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all; religion and morality enjoin this conduct: and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind. the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.
Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue?. The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it to be rendered impossible by its vices ?
In the execution of such a plan, pothing is more essential than that permanent inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachment for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just add amicable feelings toward all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is, in some degree, a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or its affection, either of which is sufficient to
lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another, disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, proinpted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels tó war the Government contrary to the best calculations of policy. The Goverpment sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts, through passion, what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility, instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations has been the victim.
So, likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation to another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars-of the latter, without adequate inducement or justificativi. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the pation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate in the parties from whom equal privi. leges are with held; and it gives to ambitious, corrupted, 01 deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite na. tion) facility to betray, or sacrifice the interest of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding with the appearance of virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.
As avenues to foreign influence, in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarning to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the art of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to