Sidor som bilder

If, therefore, some political regimen would be required in a state of things where every individual was disposed to concur in promoting the common welfare, it must be more highly necessary in a state where almost every one concentrates his regards in himself.

We now proceed, after these few remarks on the need of government in general, to consider its present immediate objects, which appear to be the following:


IV. PUBLIC DECORUM. '. Of these several objects I shall treat in order, and endeavour to ascertain how far they fall within the compass of political regulations.

I. Personal LIBERTY.--This consists in the power of loco-motion, or of going when or where we please; which power, from the very constitution of civil society, cannot be enjoyed in the same degree by every individual.

No large community can long subsist without a considerable part of its members being appointed to laborious situations and dependent circumstances. It cannot subsist without food and clothing, and these cannot be obtained without labour; and men generally will not labour but upon the urgency of necessity. If every man was provided with a stock of the necessaries of life, or had wealth to purchase them, we should see few shuttles in motion, and few ploughs turning up the soil, till the time came when, having wasted their resources, distress would compel some to the loom and others to the field.

Again: In a civilized state, besides clothing and food, much domestic service is required, of which a great part being neither elegant nor unlaborious, will not commonly be performed by those who can avoid it; which all may do who are under no immediate pressure or fear of want. Therefore, without such a degree of indigence as may dispose some to undergo the daily drudgery of life, and such a degree of affluence as inay enable others to reward them for it, we

[ocr errors]

could expect to find but little either of domestic neatness or comfort.

All this is obviously consequent on the view which we have just given of human nature. For since the love of pleasure, (including indolence, or the love of ease) the love of consequence and of wealth, are (as we have shown) the three great principles which at present govern mankind; it evidently fol. lows, that those offices of humble life, to which neither pleasure nor honour, and but little profit, is attached, though on them depends the very existence of all civil society, will never be discharged but under the compulsion of necessity ; which is the only weight that, in this case, can keep the political machine in motion. And all that can reasonably be proposed by human government, till there shall be a general prevalence of religious principle in the world, is so to regulate this weight, that it may neither break down the machine altogether, nor bear more than needs upon any of its parts.

Hence it will follow, that, to preserve

society from sinking into a savage state, in which every man must be content to fish and hunt for himself, and to wear the skin of the beast he has slain, a large proportion of the people must depend for their subsistence on the toils of husbandry, on useful manufactures, and domestic service; which implies the relation of master and servant, of those who have nothing but their labour to bring to market, and of those who come with a price in their hands to purchase it.

If we apply these remarks to the case of personal liberty, it will appear, that in every civil society, whatever be its form and construction, this power of loco-motion in the majority of its members must necessarily be confined within narrow limits. Persons whose support depends on sedentary employments, or on their occupation within the compass of a house or a farm; that is, in a nation like our own, an immense body of artisans and domestics, with a numerous peasantry, will not find themselves much at liberty to travel or roam abroad for their

amusement. To these inevitable causes of restraint are to be added such as are unnecessary and oppressive; whose operation, in a multitude of cases occurring in families and the various intercourse of life, no human laws can prevent or remedy.

The portion of personal liberty which re. mains after these deductions, is all that, under the happiest constitution of society, can be enjoyed by the bulk of a people. Individuals, who are placed beyond the necessity of constant labour, will be more at large; and those few who are amply provided, and are under no restraint from others, may ramble round the world at their pleasure, without any impediments except those arising from the want of bodily vigour, the interposition of hills and vallies, with other inconveniences, which no human exertions can entirely obviate or remove. The value of this liberty we may see hereafter.

II. Next to personal liberty we have placed personal security, or the peaceable enjoyment of life, health, and character.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »