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of those floating edifices, which are equally fitted to brave the elements, to repel a hostile attack, and to convey our merchandize to the remotest regions, is a production of this nature. How much more then must the fabric of a state, if accommodated to the wants, the conveniences, and the protection of every order of its citizens, be an object of curious inquisition, and rational admiration!
(3.) Further: As there never probably existed a political constitution which was more justly an object of such regard, than that of our own country, it must be contemplated with peculiar interest by every true Briton, both in its origin and through every stage of its progress. He will be delighted to discover its gradual dawn among our British and Saxon ancestors, till it broke forth with a degree of lustre under the auspices of the justly-renowned Alfred; many of whose institutions remain with little variation to this day; and having regretted for a moment its interruption by the Danes, he will gratulate its return with increased brightness, in the reigns of Edgar and of Edward
the Confessor. Again: After suffering almost a total eclipse by the Norman conquest, he will welcome its re-appearance under Henry the First, its rapid advance in the reign of John, by the grant of magna charta, and its arrival almost to the point of juridical perfection under our English Justinian, the first Edward. After a long interval of foreign and civil wars, he will note, in the great event of the reformation, one of the chief causes of its subsequent progress, notwithstanding the tyrannic stretches of power by Henry the Eighth, and some of his successors. Under the house of Stuart, amidst all the violent contentions between royal prerogative and the privileges of the people, he will admire the same steady progression of our political system, till he is brought to that happy period, when all those intolerable grievances introduced by the Normans were removed, military tenures abo lished, property secured, personal liberty established, and especially that liberty which is to be prized beyond every other, liberty of conscience; and the whole clearly acknowledged and solemnly confirmed by the ment, is too obvious to need any formal proof. It is a fact of which every man must be conscious by his experience; and the reason is not difficult to be assigned. In a general view, indeed, or so far as it respects the law of nature, or municipal law as grounded upon it, politics is doubtless a study which, beyond most others, is suited both to invigorate and enlarge the human faculties, and prepare them for the noblest exercise. But in this view it is not often an object of curiosity or attention. It is rarely extended, as we all know, beyond the actual administration of affairs, which cannot be supposed to yield much light or assistance towards the improvement now in question. What accession of wisdom is to be expected by prying into the cabinet, by discovering that such an expedition is on the tapis, that such a negotiation is in design or in train, or that such financial or commercial plans are in agitation? Which, with a thousand similar projects, of whatever use they may be in other respects, can certainly supply but very slender food to a man's understanding. And if
this be the case of great public measures, we cannot expect much more light and improvement from a curious investigation of state factions, court intrigues, or party contentions.
2. Nor does a spirit of ordinary politics, at least in one whose lot is cast among the lower orders of society, contribute more to regulate the conduct than to improve the understanding. To pursue a general ac quaintance with our foreign relations, or with the state of parties at home, can sup: ply a common tradesman or mechanic with few rules that may direct him how to behave himself in his family, in his shop, in the market, to his friends, or to his enemies. And if it contribute little to the knowledge of his ordinary duties, it contributes still less to their performance. While he is studying the pamphlet of the day, or sauntering in the coffee-house ; while he is canVassing, correcting, or applauding the measures of administration, or of their oppo. nents; or settling the balance of Europe; his family is in disorder, his business is neg., lected, his circumstances become embar
rassed, and, before he is aware, perhaps he is on the edge of bankruptcy. And although only some of these consequences, or none of them, should follow, still his attention is diverted from his proper concerns; he is led to overlook the duties of the station assigned him in the community, and, by his endeavours to become a patriot, or to be so accounted, he only shows or renders himself a bad citizen.
3. Again: A spirit of politics in the mass of a people, whose subsistence must depend on their daily business, is likely.to contribute as little to the public benefit, as to their own. Persons in such circumstances, cannot be supposed to possess that disengagement and liberty of mind, or those just and comprehensive views, which are necessary to judge soundly of the true interest of a nation, or of the best methods to promote it. To do this, a liberal education, and a considerable freedom from professional duties, are evidently required; and these are advantages which properly belong to the nobility and gentry of a country. It is this superior order of citizens, who