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of this momentous truth you have improved upon your essay, by the adoption of the constitution of a government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns.
4. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and alter their constitutions of government; but the constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government, presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.
5. All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive to this fundamental principle and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force, to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of à party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans, digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.
6. However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines which had lifted them to unjust dominion.
7. Towards the preservation of your government and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be, to effect, in the form of the constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what can not be directly overthrown.
8. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the efficient management of your common interest in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty, is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the
laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.
9. Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.
10. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in the courts of justice. And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.
11. It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric ?
12. Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
LX.-WAR BETTER THAN A FALSE PEACE.
ELIZABETH BARRET BROWNING. 1. A cry is up in England, which doth ring
The hollow world through, that for ends of trade And virtue, and God's better worshiping,
We henceforth should exalt the name of peace, And leave those bloody wars that eat the soul,
(Besides their clippings at our golden fleece).
2. I, too, have loved peace, and from bole to bolo
Of immemorial, undeciduous trees, Would write, as lovers use, upon a scroll
The holy name of peace, and set it high Where none should pluck it down. On trees, I say,
Not upon gibbets ! — with the greenery Of dewy branches and the flowery May,
Sweet meditation 'twixt the earth and sky, Providing for the shepherd's holiday!
3. Not upon gibbets ! though the vulture leaves
Some quiet to the bones he first picked bare. Not upon dungeons ! though the wretch who grieves
And groans within, stirs not the outer air As much as little field-mice stir the sheaves.
Not upon chain-bolts! though the slave's despair Has dulled his helpless, miserable brain,
And left him blank beneath the freeman's whip, To sing and laugh out idiocies of pain.
4. Nor yet on starving bones ! where many a lip Has sobbed itself asleep through curses vain!
I love no peace which is not fellowship,
And which includes not many. I would have
Rather the raking of the guns across The world, and shrieks against heaven's architrave,
Rather the struggle in the slippery fosse Of dying men and horses, and the wave
5. Enough said! By Christ's own cross
And by the faint heart of my womanhood, Such things are better than a peace which sits
Beside the hearth in self-commended mood,
Are howling out of doors against the good
Of outside anguish while it sits at home?
It is no peace.
6. 'Tis treason stiff with doom,
Annihilated Poland, stifled Rome,
And Austria wearing a smooth olive leaf
The life from these Italian souls in brief.
Constrain the anguished worlds from sin and grief, Pierce them with conscience, purge them with redress,
And give us peace which is no counterfeit !