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They have generally begun in ambition : they have generally ended in tyranny. But nothing tyrannical can participate of dignity : and to freedom's eye, Sesostris himself appears contemptible, even when he treads on the necks of kings.
The senators of Rome, seated on their curule chairs, and surrounded with all their official lustre, were an object much more respectable : and we view, without displeasure, the admiration of those untutored savages, who considered them as so many gods upon earth. But who were those senators ? They were only a part of a society: they were vested only with inferiour powers. .
What is the object exhibited to our contemplation ? A whole people exercising its first and greatest powerperforming an act of sovereignty, original and unlimited !
The scene before us is unexampled as well as magni. ficent. The greatest part of governments have been the deformed offspring of force and fear. With these we deign not comparison. But there have been others which have formed bold pretensions to higher regard. You have heard of Sparta, of Athens, and of Rome ; you have heard of their admired constitutions, and of their high-prized freedom. In fancied right of these, they conceived themselves to be elevated above the rest of the human race, whom they marked with the degrading title of barbarians. But did they, in all their pomp and pride of liberty, ever furnish, to the astonished world, an exhibition similar to that which we now contemplate? Were their constitutions framed by those, who were appointed for that purpose, by the people? After they were framed, · were they submitted to the consideration of the people ? Had the people an opportunity of expressing their sentia ments concerning them? Were they to stand or fall by the people's approving or rejecting vote? To all these questions, attentive and impartial history obliges us to answer in the negative. The people were either unfit to be trusted, or their lawgivers were too ambitious to trust them.
The far-famed establishment of Lycurgus was intsoduced by deception and fraud.
Under the specious pretence of consulting the oracle concerning his laws, he prevailed on the Spartans to make a temporary experiment of them during his absence, and to swear that they would suffer no alteration of them till his return. Taking a disingenuous advantage of their scrupulous regard for their oaths, he prevented his return by a voluntary death, and, in this manner, endeavoured to secure a proud immortality to his system.
Even Solon-the mild and moderating Solon-far from considering himself as employed only to propose such regulations as he should think best calculated for promoting the happiness of the commonwealth, made and promulgated his laws with all the haughty airs of absolute power.
On more occasions than one, we find him boasting, with much selfcomplacency, of his extreme forbearance and condescension, because he did not establish a despotism in his own favour, and because he did not reduce his equals to the humiliating condition of his slaves.
Did Numa submit his institutions to the good sense and free investigation of Rome? They were received in precious communications from the goddess Egeria, with whose presence and regard he was supremely favoured; and they were imposed on the easy faith of the citizens, as the dictates of an inspiration that was divine.
Such, my fellow citizens, was the origin of the most splendid establishments that have been hitherto known; and such were the arts, to which they owed their introduction and success.
What a flattering contrast arises from a retrospect of the scenes which we now commemorate? Delegates were appointed to deliberate and propose. They met and performed their delegated trust. The result of their deliberations was laid before the people. It was discussed and scrutinized in the fullest, freest, and severest manner-by speaking, by writing, and by printing—by individuals and by publick bodies—by its friends and by its enemies. What was the issue ? Most favourable and most glorious to the system. In state after state, at time after time, it was ratified-in some states unanimously on the whole, by a large and very respectable majority.
It would be improper now to examine its qualities. A decent respect for those who have accepted it, will lead us to presume that it is worthy of their acceptance. The deliberate ratifications, which have taken place, at once recommend the system, and the people by whom it has been ratified.
But why, methinks I hear some one say—why is so much exultation displayed in celebrating this event? We are prepared to give the reasons of our joy. We rejoice, because, under this constitution, we hope to see just
government, and to enjoy the blessings that walk in its train.
Let us begin with Peace—the mild and modest harbinger of felicity! How seldom does the amiable wanderer choose, for her permanent residence, the habitations of men! In their systems, she sees too many arrangements, civil and ecclesiastical, inconsistent with the calmness and benignity of her temper. In the old world, how many millions of men do te behold, unprofitable to society, burthensome to industry, the props of establishments that deserve not to be supported, the causes of distrust in the times of peace, and the instruments of destruction in the times of war? Why are they not em. ployed in cultivating useful arts, and in forwarding publick improvements ? Let us indulge the pleasing expecta• tion, that such will be the operation of government in the United States. Why may we not hope, that, disentangled from the intrigues and jealousies of European politicks, and unmolested with the alarm and solicitude to which these intrigues and jealousies give birth, our counsels will be directed to the encouragement, and our strength will be exerted in the cultivation, of all the arts of peace ?
Of these, the first is agriculture. This is true in all countries : in the United States, its truth is of peculiar importance. The subsistence of man, the materials of manufactures, the articles of commerce-all spring originally from the soil. On agriculture, therefore, the wealth of nations is founded. Whether we consult the observations that reason will suggest, or attend to the information that history will give, we shall, in each case, be satisfied of the influence of government, good or bad, upon the state of agriculture. In a government, whose maxims are those of oppression, property is insecure. It is given, it is taken away, by caprice. Where there is no security for property, there is no encouragement for industry. Without industry, the richer the soil, the more it abounds with weeds. The evidence of history warrants the truth of these general remarks. Attend to Greece; and compare her agriculture in ancient and in modern times. Then, smiling harvests bore testimony to the bountiful boons of liberty. Now, the very earth languishes under oppression. View the Campania of Rome. How melancholy the prospect! Whichever way you turn your afflicted eyes, scenes of desolation crowd before them. Waste and barrenness appear around you in all their hideous forms. What is the reason? With double tyranny the land is cursed. Open the classick page : you trace, in chaste description, the beautiful reverse of every thing you have seen. Whence proceeds the difference? When that description was made, the force of liberty pervaded the soil.
But is agriculture the only art, which feels the influ. ence of government? Over manufactures and commerce its power is equally prevalent. There the same causes operate and there they produce the same effects. The industrious village, the busy city, the crowded port-all these are the gifts of liberty; and without a good government, liberty cannot exist.
These are advantages, but these are not all the advantages, that result from a system of good government.Agriculture, manufactures, and commerce will ensure to us plenty, convenience, and elegance. But is there not something still wanting to finish the man ? Are internal