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And if this modesty be proper in our private censures, it is still more so in our public complaints and remonstrances, which ought never to appear till after a respectful interval; and then in the most peaceable and regular manner. Every thing like intimidation should studiously be avoided, which would only tend, either to exasperate our superiors and to confirm the grievance, or to weaken the general authority of government.
The same considerations are no less applicable to the actual administration of public affairs. The grounds of executive measures, whether relative to war or peace, often lie equally remote from the eye of the common citizen with those upon which proceed the acts of the legislature; and to condemn them before they are known, or before they have had a fair trial, is manifestly unjust. Nay, though they should fail in the trial, it would remain still to be inquired, whether the failure arose from any culpable defect in the measures themselves, or from that general uncertainty of events, against which no human wisdom
can absolutely provide. No one is ignorant, though few make allowance accordingly, that the winds and waves, with other innumerable contingencies of nature; the treachery of a commander; a sudden panic; or the least unforeseen accident, may defeat the best-concerted plans. The little time afforded for deliberation is also, in the present case, another and a particular reason for allowance; the emergence may be such as will suffer no delay, which seldom happens in the business of legislation. Besides, (which should further increase our tenderness) those who actually steer the vessel of the state are most exposed to public animadversion; every coffee-house is a tribunal before which they are summoned, and by which, without trial or evidence, they are often unmercifully condemned. To which may be added, the jealous ambition and ever-wakeful envy of their competitors, who lose no opportunity to detect and expose every fault or mistake of which they are guilty ; to charge them with others of which they are innocent; and to obstruct their most laudable designs and exertions for the public welfare. On all these accounts, a good citizen will be wary and deliberate in his censures of public men or measures; he will neither forwardly listen to popular rumours or accusations, nor to the rhetoric of patriots out of place; but like an equitable and humane judge in our criminal courts, will rather act as counsel for the accused, than as a party against him.
2. That it is the part of a good citizen to give no entertainment to imaginary political evils, is a position, like many others both in morals and politics, as obvious in theory as it is often difficult to realize in practice. This difficulty is experienced whenever the general clashes with a particular interest; which must frequently happen in the course of human affairs. Thus when the trade of a country flows in new channels, those who suffer by the change, will be tempted to consider it as a political evil, though, on the whole, it should advance the common welfare; that is, though it should enable a greater mass of the people to live comfortably with moderate labour. Or, suppose some heavy tax to be laid which goes to promote the same end, it will be in danger to be accounted impolitic and oppressive by those classes on which it chiefly bears. Or, lastly, when a nation is reduced in its territorial possessions, though the reduction should neither impair its resources nor its security, nay, though it should tend to consolidate the one and strengthen the other; yet a relic of national vanity might tempt a zealous patriot to lament it as a national misfortune. From these, and various other cases that might be supposed, it is evident, that some effort is required to discharge the mind of its partialities; and that it is necessary, in such circumstances, to be a good man in order to be a good citizen. .
3. In the last place, As the common evils of humanity mingle themselves with all others, we should learn to bear them with patience, lest the resentments which they excite should, from the principle of association and the communicative nature of the passions, extend themselves to those
evils with which they are combined; and thus, because of our infelicity as men, we should become disaffected as citizens. To prevent this unhappy consequence, we should study to obtain a just acquaintance with our common condition in this world; and to do this effectually, besides a critical examination of ourselves, and of the present state of mankind, we should take a retrospective view of past ages. Thus, after we have looked back upon what has been done during a period of several thousand years, (a sufficient time surely for experiment) after we have looked around us, and considered how much evil, moral and physical, still remains in the world, notwithstanding all the attempts of philosophers and divines, moralists and legislators, for prevention and remedy; we shall be able, from the whole, to form a judgment of what is practicable, and be taught a lesson of great moderation in our designs and expectations; we shall be taught to place no great confidence of redress in any schemes of human wisdom and policy, nor be surprized if we are called to share in the