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to dwell upon the particular traits of this work; yet the finger upon the wall is not to be mistaken. We here see the spirit which breathes in the pages of " Arator," and of the “Political Enquiry." The first has made him known throughout America: The last is less generally read; but unless some intelligent men are much mistaken, it is yet to win its way to distinguished reputation. They have all one trait, without which genius exists not. The man, who writes them, dares to think for himself.
Bosan a Rulherghe
THE author of the following work earnestly wished to remain unknown; but circumstances having rendered it im
; possible, his alternative was reduced to an avowal, or an affectation of concealment: he hopes, however, that no one will believe him to have been influenced by money, or fame, or any personal consideration, except that kind of feeling experienced when about to take a last leave of our friends, we say to them “ God bless you.”
He does not solicit the indulgence of his readers, as he wishes his errors to be corrected; nor does be expect any, except from those whose interest is not disunited from that of the society.
The end of fostering eleemosynary families has evidently suggested a mode of construing our constitutions, which requires that such phrases as the following should be reconciled : “ Sovereign servants. Supreme equality. Unlimited limitations. Consolidated divisions. Inferior superiority. And desirable misery.” Thus, representative power may be made despotick; a co-ordinate sphere may be made supreme ; convenience, like the waves produced by a pebble thrown on smooth water, may be made to undulate indefinitely; a subordinate judicial power may start up into a dictator to the state governments ; divisions and limitations of power may be confounded and abolished ; and English follies are converted from objects of our abhorrence, into models for our imitation. Under a reconciliation between republican and despotick principles, effected by the new idea of “sovereign servants,” our legislatures are converted into British parliaments, daily new-modelling the substance of our government, by bodies politick, exclusive privileges, pensions, bounties, and judicial acts, comprising an arbi
trary power of dispensing wealth or poverty to individuals and combinations, at their pleasure.
If our system of government produces these bitter fruits naturally, it is substantially European; and the world, after having contemplated with intense interest and eager solicitude the experiment of the United States, will be surprised to find, that no experiment at all has been made, and that it still remains to be discovered, whether a political system preferable to the British be within the scope of human capacity. But, if these fruits are not its legitimate offsprings, but of foreign importation, we ought to fulfil the hopes of mankind, by returning to those princ ples in construing our system, by which it was dictated. Let us remember, that the lucrative partialities of a government, instead of being destroyed by use, like the splendid fabricks of the loom bespangled with gold and silver to gratify pride and luxury, become richer and stronger, the longer they are worn by ambition and avarice.
The habit of corrupting our political system, by the instrumentality of inference, convenience and necessity, with an endless series of consequences attached to them, is the importer of contraband principles, and the bountiful grantor of powers not given, or withheld by our constitutions. It is, therefore, the natural enemy of our home-bred form of government, and ought to awaken the resistance of all legis. lative and judicial departments, and the detestation of every person not enriched by this ruinous commerce. Every lover of our institutions ought to be a vigilant custom-house officer, and do his utmost to prevent a heavy government from being brought in gradually by these seemingly light skiffs. It is convenient for the transmission of taxes, that
. congress should create banks; but the constitution does not delegate to the federal government a power to create political combinations, invested with a power to regulate the wealth and poverty of individuals. This new power of indefinite magnitude is, however, said to be conveyed, as a consequence of the convenient mode of removing money,
Again : congress have a power to regulate commerce ; but the constitution does not delegate to the federal government a power to make several states tributary to one, nor a power to make the people of all the states tributary to a combination of capitalists, constituting in fact a body politick, materially affecting the interests of all persons. In this case also, the inference is made to bestow a far greater power, than that from which it is extracted.
The nourishment of exclusive interests, in all its forms, is the universal cause which obstructs the progress of political science, and has placed that which ought to be the first, in the rear of human improvements. The emoluments, attached to the administration of civil government, are unhappily a sufficient suggestion to avarice and ambition, that fraud and oppression may afford them gratifications. Even this excitement was viewed by Doctor Franklin as so dangerous to liberty, that he wished for its suppression, and refused to receive any compensation as president of Pennsylvania; and Washington would only receive his expenses for all his services. However impracticable these speculations may be, yet the opinions of these great men are weighty authorities against the policy of superadding to an unavoidable temptation, a host of unnecessary solicitors in behalf of avarice and ambition, retained by exorbitant fees paid by the people, whilst no reward wbatever is offered to the advocates for integrity and moderation. By this pernicious policy, an union is formed between the administrators of government, and corrupted combinations, creating an impulse towards oppression, which abstract principles, however good, have hitherto been unable to withstand. As the brightest beacon may be extinguished by throwing some hostile element on the flame, so the best principles are destroyed by fostering their foes.
Yet the argument in favour of exclusive privileges is, that it is the best mode by which knowledge can be advanced, and arts perfected. Under colour of this assertion, it is said, that manfactures have never been introduced into any
country, except by the coercion of the government. Thus a despotick power of distributing wealth and poverty, as the caprices and vices of individuals may dictate, is artfully covered by the pretext, that it is the best mode of advancing arts and sciences; but the truth is, that they have flourished in proportion as industry has been free and property safe. The gratitude of knowledge is, therefore, due to that power, which has selected industry and philosophers for its communication. The claim of governments to be considered as the apostles of knowledge, is precise, ly the same with their claim to religious apostolick power, and experience has sufficiently proved, that both powers beget oppression.
This is a subject which would fill a book of no small size, and, therefore, a limited plan would not admit of its full application to the manufacturing art, selected to establish the pernicious general principle, that governments ought to have a power of granting exclusive privileges. Yet, it is highly worthy of publick consideration. Privileges imply a general deprivation. To take away in order to bestow, is merely to pull down with one hand for the purpose of building up with the other, if the deprivation discourages as much industry, as the privilege will excite. These political contradictions would then neutralize each other. But, if the discouragement operates upon greater numbers than the privilege, as is always the case, a balance arises unfavourable to industry, arts and sciences. Hence, they have flourished as exclusive privileges have decreased, and dwindled where they abound. The abolition of a vast number of feudal and hierarchical privileges gave them a great impulse in England, and a gradual multiplication of pecuniary privileges since has brought the same country to a state of misery, which may involve them in some general convulsion. Is this misery, or the mysterious advances of knowledge and liberty, the best hostage for their improvement ? These have co-extensively pushed forward all arts and sciences, aided or unaided by the patriotism of govern