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ease in the society of virtue. And hence arises the principa mischief of favouritism. As it must always be probable that one born to royalty will eatly be initiated into licentious pleasures, the ministers of these pleasurés, who are readily to be found among the retainers of a court, will enjoy the first opportunity of obtaining his favour, and contracting that familiarity with him which is rendered peculiarly intimate by participating in disgraceful secrets. And thus an ascendancy will be acquired, which, if the character of the prince be feeble ard pliable, may never be shakery oft; especially if such a confidant possesses the contívial qualities which give a zest to sensual gratifications. As the objects of a favouritism founded upon this base must be rådically mean and vicious in their principles, their company may communicato an indelible taint to the mind of the future sovereign, and blight the buds of all honourable and dignified sentimetits. It was not all the discipline of adversity, nor the obligations of gratitude to faithful servants and to a whole loyal nation, that could recover the depraved mind of Charles II. from his attachment to panders and buffoons, or inspire him with a single permanent feeling of the honour of a man or the duty of a sovereign. What, indeed, ean be expected from one who has habituated himself to the society of persons whose influence over him must ever depend upon fostering his vicious propensities, and alienating him from every serious and laudable pursuit? We often see the effects of such a training in private life, and they must be still more prejudicial in a station which has no superior.
The degree of external splendour to whichi favourites have arrived has been very different in different countries. In 'despotic monarchies, they have often been entrusted by their weak and indolent masters with the whole weight of the administration, generally to the great detriment of the state, and not unfrequently to the destruction of both prince and minion. In mixed governments, where a salutary control exists over the misguided will of the sovereign, and public opinion is of some consequence, the elevation of notoriously worthless and incapable subjects to important posts can scarcely be ventured upon; a secret inflaence may however be maintained, which shall exert a decisive sway over all appointments, and abuse it to purposes of private or party interest. The internal history of courts abounds with examples of this kind, especially under the dominion of female favourites, who cannot in person exercise the absolute power with which they are often invested. The Montespans, Maintenons, and Pompadours of France, were for a long series of years main springs in the administration of that country; and by their intrigues influenced the nomination of generals and ministers, and avenged their sex of the unpoliteness of the Salic law. In this country we have not as
yet yet been much under the influence of this class of favourites; for our sovereigns have mixed too little sentiment with their amours to give them much weight in their serious deliberations.
That weakness of mind which disposes a prince to throw him, self into the arms of unworthy favourites, is unfortunately in, surmountable, for advancing years only strengthen the habit of yielding, where there is no natural solidity of character. All that is left for a friend of his country who foresees dangers of this kind, is to mark the indications of disposition afforded by the choice of intimates, and prepare against the consequences. Is the favourite known to be a man of corrupt and arbitrary political principles ? let the patriot look well to the checks and safeguards of a free constitution. Is he profuse, dissipated, and profligate?-let the public morals and the public purse he objects of peculiar jealousy. Is he low and vulgar in tastes and talents ? let care be taken to inspire a due respect for the arts that polish and elevate the mind. It may be difficult, even in a limited monarchy, to counteract the example set by the possessor of regal authority; yet an union of the most respectable and considerate part of the community cannot fail of a certain effect; and upon the whole, it may be better for a nation to commence a new reign with a sense of the necessity of guarding against probable mis. government, than with the blind confidence inspired by more flattering presages.
I cannot conclude this paper without making some remarks on the strange inconsequence and partiality shewn by Hume in his account of the circumstances attending the attachment of Edward II. to his minion, Piers Gavaston. This youth obtained such a complete ascendancy over his weak master “ by supplying him (says Hume) with all those frivolous amusements which suited his capacity and inclinations,” that the wise Edward I,, foreseeing the dangers of such a connexion, a short time before his death banished Gavaston the kingdom, and made his son promise never to recal him. The first act of royalty exercised by the new king," whose heart, (according to the softening of Hume), was strongly disposed to friendship and confidence,” was to send for him to court, create him earl of Cornwall, and marry him to his niece. The insolence and rapacity of Gavaston after his return, were only equalled by the extravagance of Edward's fondness, who seemed disposed to lay his whole kingdom at the feet of his favourite. Gavaston þeing left guardian of the realm with unusual powers during Edward's absence in France, the great barons, justly indignant at the unbounded authority of this upstart, entered into a con federacy, in virtue of which the king, at the next parliament, was obliged to consent to the banishment of Gavaston, from whom an oath was exacted that he would never return, Edward,
however, as soon as he was able, broke through the condition, procured his minion an absolution from his oath, received him back with transport, and reinstated him in all the plenitude of favour. This decisive proof both of the king's bad faith, and of his utter incapacity to govern of himself, caused the barons to adopt some more effectual plan for redressing the public grievances, of which, however, Hume chooses to speak in the following terms “ Though there had been scarcely any national ground of complaint, except some dissipation of the public treasure ; though all the acts of mal-administration objected to the king and his favour. ite, seemed of a nature more proper to excite heart-burnings in a ball or assembly, than commotions in a great kingdom; yet such was the situation of the times, that the barons were determined, and were able, to make them the reasons of a total alteration in the constitution and civil government.” Is it possible that a sober historian can speak so lightly of such an instance of abuse in the royal office as an infatuated and unprincipled attachment to a foreign minion, by his own account, lavish, rapacious, and content with nothing less than trampling upon all that was constitutionally great in the kingdom! In the sequel it appears, that the commissioners to whom a temporary exercise of the supreme authority was committed, made many wholesome ordinances, among which the most offensive to the king was the second banishment of Gavaston; and that as soon as the restraint over Edward was relaxed, he recalled his favourite, and restored him to power, on which, says Hume, “ the barons saw that his or their ruin was inevitable.” They again confederated, took up arms, obtained possession of Gavaston's person, and without ceremony beheaded him. This act, which by Hume's acknowledgment was a necessary measure of self-defence, and was the result of repeated perfidy both in the king and the favourite, he denominates a murder ; and he proceeds in his usual mode of epithets and artful glosses, to fix the whole wrong upon the barons in these transactions. Yet from his own relation it appears that they returned to their allegiance as soon as their persons and privileges were secured ; and that Edward might thenceforth have reigned happily, had he not relapsed into the incurable weakness of favouritism,
Art, II.--On Contempt for Popularity.
Though the present age is by no means remarkable for the self, denying virtues, yet there is a species of renunciation that we sometimes hear proclaimed in our public assemblies with no little emphasis, which is, that of any title to, or wish for, popularity, So far from courting the applause of the people, these high, minded ascetics express a kind of horror at such a gratification, and declare open war against it. If this language proceeded solely from men of an independent spirit, whose conscious virtue elevated their minds to a superiority over praise or censure, we might admire their dignity of sentiment, however we might think it verged to a stoical excess. But, in fact, indifference to popular fame is often paraded by those who are the furthest in the world from a philosophical estimate of things, and who look for much more substantial rewards for their conduct than self-approbation, Their contempt for popularity is only comparative; they would prize it were it the readiest road to wealth or honours, but they have discovered a more direct path to their objects in pleasing a court or serving a minister. They have made their election of the patronage which they judge to be the most effectual, and the pose session of that, necessarily precludes them from the other. From their first setting out in life they forfeited all claim to the attachment of the people, and they may safely affect to despise what was never within their reach. They were initiated from youth in aristocratic pride and courtly subserviency, and never knew the feeling of fellow-citizenship.
But without dwelling longer upon the motives of persons whose characters render discussion unnecessary, let us consider the point abstractedly, and endeavour to ascertain the true foundation both of the love and the contempt of popularity.
To obtain the esteem and affection of those with whom we are to pass our days is so natural a desire, that it may be regarded as one of the characteristics of a human being; There have, indeed, been instances, even in this country, of persons who appear to haye adopted the sentiment of the Roman tyrant, “ Let them hate, provided they fear me;" but such men have either originally been monsters in their kind, or have been spoiled by a bad education and exorbitant power and opulence. To be respected and beloved
may therefore be reckoned the universal wish; and to be so on account of that branch of social duty which has the widest influence on the good of society, may justly claim the highest place in that desire. How then can it happen that men who feel 4 sensible gratification from the good name which they 94
baye have acquired in their own immediate connexions, should be ing different to the reputation they bear in the general body of their fellow-citizens? It can only be because they have associated some mean and degrading ideas with this kind of popularity, probably regarding it as the expression of the sense of the vulgar exclusively, and as usually resulting from unworthy arts on the part of the possessor, and from ignorance and caprice on that of the bestowers. The grounds of such an opinion are first to be examined.
In a country where the conduct of men in public stations is laid open to the whole community, and canvassed with freedom, it is scarcely possible that the political character of every distin guished individual should not be estimated with tolerable exactness; for though motives may be concealed, actions are apparent, and from them alone eyeņ the most sagacious must be content to draw their inferences. Now, the inferior ranks have access, at least secondarily, (on the supposition above made), to just the same evidence of fact that their superiors have; and in their deductions they follow no other rules than those adopted by tħe classes immediately above them. It is a matter of notoriety who defends and who attacks public abuses; who promotes and who resists teforms; who is the protector and who the invader of constitu. tional rights; and it requires no long experience to discover who acts the part of a patriot and who of a mercenary. as a whole, cannot in a popular government be much or long mistaken in these points; and in that whole there is no reason to suppose that the less enlightened many will judge differently from the more enlightened few, for the former are always swayed in their opinions by the latter. There is not, I will venture to assert, a șingle instance in history of a popularity of any continuance which has not been founded upon some real display of public virtue, how much soeyer it may have failed on a further trial ; nor, on the other hand, is there an instance of popular odium attending a public character without some apparent ground for it, however erroneous this feeling may afterwards be proved to have been. The test which the people apply in judging of political conduct is always right, for it can þé no other than promoting the good of the community; but they may apply it unskilfully.
The democracy of Athens is particularly referred to for examples pf the propensity of the common people to judge rashly and erroneously; and there are, doubtless, in the history of that republic too many instances of such a fault. At the same time there is, perhaps, no example of a state of no greater magnitude which has produced so many distinguished public characters; and as these were raised to their stations by popular votes, it cannot be said that the people were in general bad estimators of merit. Some