1 Wortman, Treatise Concerning Political Enquiry
A Treatise Concerning Political Enquiry and the Liberty of the Press

Tunis Wortman


On the General Rights to Investigate Political Topics

The perfect right of society to investigate political subjects, becomes farther enforced from a consideration of the theory of mind. By the very constitution of his nature, man is an intelligent Being: every object by which he is surrounded, every principle which is presented to his understanding, necessarily become the subjects of his contemplation. When once reflection commences its career , who can determine the future extent of its researches? Who can prescribe the topics it may venture to investigate, and those it shall be prohibited from examining?

Mind is the common property of man, and the capacity of knowledge is the inseparable attribute of mind. It is the constant prerogative of intellect to extend its researches into every subject. Thought springs spontaneously from the situation in which we are placed, the events by which we are affected, and the objects that are presented t o our view. The succession of ideas is governed by the laws of necessary and irresistible causation. When once the intellectual train commences, its direction is not to be diverted, its force is not to be subdued; we are led from subject to subject, and r eflection pursues reflection, with a rapidity and subtlety too astonishingly great to be grasped by the utmost vigilance of observation.

To prescribe bounds to the empire of thought, would of all tasks be the most Herculean. He who is aware of the in timate connection existing between ideas, and has perceived the astonishing subtlety of intellect: He who has investigated the doctrine of association, and been taught "How thoughts to thoughts are linked with viewless chains, Tribes leading tribes, and t rains pursuing trains;" will never cease to wonder at the stupid perversity of that despotism which would attempt to direct the operations of the mind.

Why was man constituted an intellectual being? Why was he furnished with the sublime attribute of reason? Was it intended that his most exalted and distinguished powers, should be chained into a state of dormant quiescence and inactivity? Shall it be contended, that his mental endowments are all useless abortion of heaven? If the capacity of knowle dge is our preeminent characteristic, why should we be debarred from investigating those topics which are most immediately connected with our interest and happiness?

Most undoubtedly, the percipient as well as the physical faculties of every being, were bestowed for the benevolent purposes of preservation and felicity. There is no natural right more perfect or more absolute, than that of investigating every subject which concerns us. The influence of government and laws is omnipresent, and continual ly pursues us through every walk of life. It is not the blind impetuosity of chance; it is not the atmosphere or climate, the direction of the winds, or the rising and sinking of the mercury in the thermometer, that renders us precisely what we are. It is the force of social institution that forms our manners, and consequently shapes our disposition, and governs our conduct. Is it not, therefore, of the greatest importance, that a cause so powerful, incessant, and universal in its operation, should be th oroughly investigated and understood? The exercise of our faculties with respect to such interesting concern, is a right inseparably attached to our nature, and Which cannot be subverted without destroying the fundamental Laws of our moral and intellectu al constitution...

. . . From the reasonings contained in the preceding and present chapters, it must be evident, that as man is the constant object of moral and social duties, and the perpetual subject of political discipline; it is necessary that he should possess and exercise, the means of investigating the nature and extent of such obligation and discipline. From a just and accurate review of the theory of civil society and government, it is apparent, that political institution is but the instru ment of society; intended to promote its prosperity and happiness--that the laws of morality are possessed of universal jurisdiction, and are obligatory upon the prince and the magistrate, as well as upon the obscure and private individual--that governme nts partake of human fallibility and imperfection, and that they are responsible to the people, for the faithful performance of their important trusts--that intelligence is the common property of human beings, and that the progress of knowledge is the onl y practicable method of diminishing the ascendency of vice, and destroying the dominion of the passions. From all these considerations it has been maintained, that a liberty of investigation into every subject of thought, is not only the perfect and abso lute right of civil society; but that the unrestricted exercise of that right, is indispensable to the progression and happiness of mankind. It follows, therefore, that the government which attempts to impede the universal dissemination of science, or to restrain the unlimited career of intellect, may be classed among the most inveterate enemies of the human species.

Previous to dismissing the present branch of our enquiry, let it be remarked, that the cultivation of intellect, and the progress of l iterature, may be ranked among the foremost benefits derived from society: for, independent of the social state, what would have been the boasted faculties, and where the astonishing inventions of mankind? Where should we have sought for the arts, or how discovered the numerous truths of science? Refinement and knowledge, have been the offspring of civilized life; the solitary man would scarcely be recognized as a moral or intellectual Being: deprived of the advantages of intercourse, he would be unposs essed of language, that happy instrument so necessary in the operations of the mind, and so essential to the communication of our thoughts. It is society that has laid the foundation of knowledge; it has furnished all the means of improving the human facu lties, and of perpetuating those improvements; it has recorded the discoveries of former ages for the lasting benefit of succeeding generations; it has taught us the use of language and of letters; it has united the powers of individual intellect into a common bank, and multiplied the peculium of each by a general combination of the whole. The government that interferes with the progress of opinion, subverts the essential order of the social state.

Let political institution be confined to its genuine objects of superintendance; let its powers be exclusively directed to the suppression of crime; let us say to government, "You have no legitimate empire over opinion. You have no equitable jurisdiction over the operations of the mind: let science explore the unlimited regions of contemplation. Truth and virtue are the only objects of her pursuit. If your dominion is established in justice, you have nothing to apprehend. Tyranny alone should tremble at the sternly inquisitive glance of enlightened investi gation. Improvement is an universal law of human nature. Legislation in common with every other subject of meditation, must Finally omitt to its ameliorating influence." . . .


ON the perfect Right of Indiv iduals to communicate their Sentiments upon Political Topics.

Thus far it has been attempted to establish the perfect right and ability of society to enter into the discussion of political topics. It will be perceived that the subject has hitherto b een considered upon general grounds, and entirely independent of any particular system of social institution. We will next proceed to examine how far the reciprocal intercourse and communication of opinion upon those topics is a right attached to individ uals; and whether any, and what, restrictions should]d be imposed upon the exercise and enjoyment of such right. We shall afterwards, in some measure, retrace the subject of the present treatise; and consider it, in the first place, with relation to repre sentative governments in general--and, secondly, as it particularly]arly respects the Constitution of the United States.

The right of individuals to discuss political questions, is a corollary necessarily derived from the doctrines which have been est ablished in the preceding chapters: for as individuals are the elements which enter into the composition of society, the general rights of a community must be considered as a common bank or aggregate, of which each of its members is entitled to his peculi um. When we assert that Society is possessed of the absolute right to investigate every subject which relates to its interests, it would be palpably contradictory to deny that every individual possesses the same right in the most perfect and extensive acc eptation. The position which maintains the general right of a commonwealth to exercise the freedom of political discussion, intends that such is a common privilege appurtenant to each of its members.

Government itself must evidently have been derived from the preexisting rights of Society. It is, accurately speaking, an organ of the general will, intending to answer particular and appropriate purposes. It is clearly the right of Society to institute such regulations as may best promote its own partic ular interests, prevent the perpetration of offenses, and designate the Laws by which its members shall be governed. The exercise of this right is indispensably requisite to the preservation of its existence: but as Society is incapable of exercising tha t right in its collective or corporate capacity, it was necessary to designate and select the particular persons who should represent and exercise its powers for those purposes. It has already been sufficiently established, that general delegation is the only legitimate basis of Government. Social Institution is the organ which represents the rights of a community in a limited degree. It is only possessed of those rights which are either expressly conferred, or those which are necessarily presumed to have been delegated: those which are retained by Society are open to the exercise of each of its individual members.

It has already been perceived that however extensive may be the powers of government, its existence must essentially depend upon the deter mination of the general will. Whatever may be the particular form which it has assumed, it is equally the organ of Society, instituted for the promotion of the public welfare. In every case it is responsible to the people for the faithful performance of t he trust committed to its charge. It is perpetually liable to dissolution by the same power from which its origin is derived. Society, therefore, in its original capacity, possesses a revisionary right: as such right is altogether independent of positive institution, and incapable of delegation, it must ever remain the subject of individual exercise.

The general will, which is the necessary result of Public opinion, being superior to Political Institution, must of consequence remain independent of its control. Governments are entrusted with the exercise of the ordinary powers of sovereignty: but Society is, nevertheless, the real and substantial sovereign .

It becomes an enquiry of the most extensive importance, to discover the precise meaning to be affixed to the extremely complicated term Public Opinion.

Society does not constitute an intellectual unity; it cannot resolve itself into one single organized percipient, in which the rays of Intelligence are concentrated and personified: each of its members necessarily retains his personal identity and his individual understanding. By Public Opinion we are, therefore, to imply an aggregation of individual sentiment.

It is the individual who is to reflect and decide. By Public Opinion we are t o understand that general determination of private understandings which is most extensively predominant. When a sufficient number of the members of a community have established a coincidence of sentiment upon any particular subject, such agreement of thei r personal judgments may be correctly termed the general or Public Opinion. When they have concurred in volition upon any given point, that concurrent volition may be denominated the public or general will. Unless such prevalent opinion or of individuals constitutes the public opinion or will, the conclusion would be inevitable that it is impossible public will or opinion could exist....

. . . But in a true practical sense the opinion of the majority is to be deemed the general opinion.

It is equa lly true that the current of public opinion must always be presumed to pursue a direction in favor of established institutions. The general acquiescence which is paid to the laws, and the uniform submission and obedience observed towards the government, must be received as conclusive testimony that they are supported by public opinion.

We are not, however, to imagine that any thing which deserves the name of Public Opinion exists with respect to every subject of research. There are some topics upon which an uniformity in sentiment is pretty generally established: there are others which may be considered as being in the infancy of discussion. The formation of general opinion upon correct and salutary principles, requires the unbiased exercise of ind ividual intellect; neither prejudice, authority, or terror, should be suffered to impede the liberty of discussion; no undue influence should tyrannize over mind; every man should be left to the independent exercise of his reflection; all should be permit ted to communicate their ideas with the energy and ingenuousness of truth. In such a state of intellectual freedom and activity, the progress of mind would infallibly become accelerated; we would all derive improvement from the knowledge and experience o f our neighbor; and the wisdom of society would be rendered a general capital, in which all must participate. Exposed to the incessant attack of Argument, the existence of Error would be fleeting and transitory; while Truth would be seated upon a basis of adamant, and receive a perpetual accession to the number of her votaries.

But here it may be affirmed, "that diversity of sentiment is the constant lot of imbecile and erring mortals:" how? then, shall such consideration become reconciled with the ex istence of what is denominated Public Opinion? If contrariety of judgment is perpetually the condition of society, to what party shall we attribute the intellectual, and with it the political ascendancy? It is in the first place to be observed, that the t endency of such objection will be rather to abridge the extent than to annihilate the existence of Public Opinion. The idea conveyed by such compounded expression, is peculiarly abstruse and complicated; it combines the perception of all the infinite vari ety of knowledge, together with the separate decisions of a multitude of independent understandings. If there are many subjects of disquisition in which the determinations of human intelligence's are dissonant and diversified, numberless are the truths w hich have established an undisputed and universal empire. In proportion as investigation continues free and unrestricted, the mass of error will be subject to continual diminution, and the determinations of distinct understandings will gradually harmoniz e. Upon every subject that can become presented to our attention, it is the province of Reason to deliberate and determine. The uninterrupted progression of Truth demands that the intellectual intercourse between men, should remain entirely unshackled. No ideas of terror or restraint should be associated into the discussion; no foreign consideration should enfeeble or perplex the judgment; mind should be compared with mind, and principle weighed with principle. Introduce the incessant habit of independe nt reflection, and the establishment of Public Opinion upon a rational and salutary basis will follow as the necessary consequence.

It is likewise to be remarked, that diversity of sentiment in the earlier stages of enquiry, is far from being unfavor able to the eventual reception of Truth. It produces Collision, engenders Argument, and affords exercise and energy to the intellectual powers; it corrects our errors, removes our prejudices, and strengthens our perceptions; it compels us to seek for the evidences of our knowledge, and habituates us to a frequent revisal of our sentiments. In the conflict between opinions we are endured to correctness of reflection, and become taught in the school of Experience to reason and expatiate. It cannot surely b e visionary to predict the ultimate triumph of Truth. . .

. . . It is evident, then, that no other salutary method can be adopted to enable Society to investigate the measures and correct the abuses of Government, than to enlighten and increase the pe rceptions of individual Mind. Knowledge is capable of being communicated: every mean should, therefore, be embraced to render its illumination of extensive utility. There is no species of tyranny more pernicious in its consequences than that which is exer ted to impede the progress of Intellect. Society has no other resource for the melioration of its condition, and the improvement of its political institutions, except what is derived from the reciprocal communication of Thought, and the increasing energy and correctness of individual Understanding.

All our prospects of improvement must therefore depend upon the industry and exertion of individuals. It is almost impossible to conceive the extensive effects which may be produced by the agency of a sing le person. One enlightened and active mind may create a light which by a series of fortunate incidents may irradiate the globe. Instead of palsying the efforts of individuals, it should rather be our study to enlarge their powers. Instead of checking the ardour of Enquiry, we should endeavor to stimulate and encourage the activity of Mind. In an exanimate or depressed state of society, there is but little chance of meeting with exalted intellectual powers; and, even if they should exist, they would seldom be furnished with the opportunity of rendering extensive benefit to the community.

Slavery will inevitably produce mental debility and degradation. Unless the mind is conscious of liberty to reflect and expatiate, it will be wholly incapable of subl ime and energetic exertion: but if it can freely exercise its faculties and impart its thoughts, it will be warmed and animated; inspired by the sublimity of its emotions, it will perpetually increase in vigor and information.

Wherever Freedom of Enqu iry is established, Improvement is inevitable: the smallest spark of Knowledge will be cherished and kindled into flame. If only a single individual shall have acquired superior attainments, he will speedily impart them to his companions, and exalt their minds to the elevated standard of his own. There is something peculiarly captivating in the acquisition of know]edge. The communication of learning affords perhaps equal pleasure to the preceptor and the scholar. Emulation is natural to man: it will alwa ys prompt to study. Competition will ever lead to unremitted industry; Science will increase the number of her votaries; and rising students will continually improve upon the knowledge of those by whom they are preceded....

. . . In an imperfect and u ncivilized state of society, two principal objects will engage our solicitude--the prevention of violence and offenses, and the improvement of the people. The first of these objects must be particularly submitted to Government; but the other must be entru sted to Society itself.

To promote the improvement of Society it is essential that Mind should be free. Unless individuals are permitted to reflect and communicate their sentiments upon every topic, it is impossible that they should progress in knowl edge. If we are not suffered to impart our information to others, it is evident that such information must remain useless and inactive. Without establishing the liberty of enquiry, and the right of disseminating our opinions, it must always be our portio n to remain in a state of barbarism, wretchedness, and degradation.

It has sometimes been maintained, that in an unenlightened state of Society the toleration of enquiry is dangerous to the existence of Government: but the reverse of this proposition is in reality true. Ignorant nations are most prone to faction and intestine commotions. It is the want of Information which renders them liable to seduction. They feel the smart of Despotism, and blindly rush to the banners of Violence at the call of any intemperate and popular leader. Every established Government will necessarily possess the power of contributing to the public welfare. If we experience the evils arising from the imperfections of Society, Freedom of Enquiry will prompt us to submit with gratitude to the benevolent hand which administers the remedy: it will teach ;us to consider Government as our powerful protector. Investigation, so far from paralyzing its efforts, will perceive the salutary tendency and absolute necessity of its operat ions. It will contribute to the security of its power; and, by gradually enlightening the public mind, diminish the difficulty of its task....


The Same Subject Considered from the Revisionary Powers of Society

So far we have viewed the Intercourse of Sentiment upon political subjects as it principally relates to the general interests of Society. We are now to examine the question with more immediate relation to the personal rights and d uties of individuals.

1. Man is a moral and intelligent Being, is inseparably possessed of certain absolute and perfect rights. One of the most important and essential of those rights is the liberty of exercising his faculties agreeable to his own perceptions of what is proper and desirable, provided such exercise of his faculties does not tend to the injury of others.

Our Natural Liberty terminates at the precise point at which our conduct becomes injurious. Independent of the sanctions o f Civil Institution, we never could claim the right of inflicting evil upon others. It is the principal end of Society to prevent and redress our wrongs, to protect us in the enjoyment of our natural rights, and not to abolish or destroy them.

Tr uth may be considered as the property of every Intellectual Being: it is the vital principle of Mind, and the only element in which our percipient powers can maintain a healthful existence. We have all a common interest in its illuminations; we are all e ntitled to pursue it in every shape, and upon every subject in which it becomes presented.

The exercise of our mental faculties is as necessary to our existence and happiness as the employment of our corporeal powers. When we cease to reflect and s peak, it may emphatically be affirmed that we cease to live.

2. Improvement is a constant law of our intellectual nature. Knowledge is a general fund, of which we all have a right to participate: it is a capital which has the peculiar property of in creasing its stores in proportion as they are used. We are entitled to pursue every justifiable method of increasing our perceptions and invigorating our faculties. We are equally entitled to communicate our information to others....

. . . There is no subject more interesting than Politics; there is none in which every individual is more extensively concerned, or which may with greater correctness be considered as a common property. We are perpetually subject to the influence of its institutions. It is a matter of preeminent importance that we should be acquainted with the nature of the regulations by which we are perpetually governed. It is a right of the most perfect and positive kind, that we should possess and exercise the means of discerning whatever contributes to our benefit or may destroy our happiness.

If the acquisition of Knowledge is meritorious, it is virtuous to direct the strength of our understanding to the investigation of questions most extensively connected with the prosper ity of Society. Politics is a subject of universal concern: it relates to objects of public utility. We are equally interested in supporting the genuine principles of Social Security and happiness. We are entitled to investigate every question which conce rns the Public Prosperity. We are equally entitled to communicate the result of our inquiry and deliberation. He who conceals a treason against Society, is scarcely less capable than the traitor who mediates its ruin.

Of all the rights which can be at tributed to man, that of communicating his sentiments is the most sacred and inestimable. It is impossible that the imagination should conceive a more horrible and pernicious tyranny than that which would restrain the Intercourse of Thought. Who is not aw are that much of the happiness of intelligent and social Beings consists in the pleasures of unrestrained conversation, the charms of security, and the sublime delight of communicating their ideas with a confidence unmingled with terror? Deprived of this invaluable privilege, Society loses all its charms, and abdicates its most exquisite enjoyments: it no longer possesses the genial power of unfolding the buds of Science, and awakening the choicest energies of Mind.

It was an observation truly worthy of the greatest of poets, that "The moment which makes Man a Slave takes half his worth away." Liberty is the only vivifying principle that can animate his intellectual faculties, expand his mind, and invigorate his virtues. The atmosphere of Tyranny is stagnant, gloomy, and condensed: it chills the embryo Thought, and blasts the young Perception. By shackling the circulation of Sentiment, O Legislators! ye close the avenues to Knowledge and Improvement, destroy the blessings and the virtues of Social Li fe, and reduce the human species to a condition but little more elevated than the ferocity and barbarism of brutal nature.


0n Restrictions upon the Intercourse of Opinion

It is an import ant object of our enquiry to discover whether the interests of Society require that any restraints should be imposed upon the freedom of political discussion; and to ascertain whether any judicious method can be adopted to guard against the evils of licen tiousness on the one hand, and those of Despotism on the other.

In the first place it is to be observed, that the communication of Truth, so far from being criminal, should ever be viewed as eminently meritorious. He who combats a pernicious error, or destroys a dangerous Falsehood, may challenge a seat among the principal benefactors of mankind. The law which coerces the circulation of Truth cannot be vindicated upon any principle of justice, or reconciled to any rational theory of government.

Fa lsehood is constantly pernicious: wilful Defamation is invariably criminal. No man can have a right to utter an untruth concerning another: he is as little entitled to misrepresent the public measures of a govemment.

In the present state of society i t would be fruitless to expect perfection. We are often reduced to the necessity of choosing between opposite evils. Whatever determination is most nearly allied to the general good, should constantly be preferred. It cannot be denied that Licentiousness is injurious: but it is extremely to be questioned whether the severity of criminal coercion is the most salutary and judicious corrective.

The reasoning of the present work will be exclusively confined to a consideration of the effects of Misreprese ntation in public or political transactions. The Defamation of private character stands upon a separate and distinct foundation. Personal transactions are not the subject of general concern or notoriety: the individual whose reputation is aspersed sustain s a personal injury. Attacks upon private character in general proceed from malignant or vindictive motives: they are calculated to affect our private avocations and property. The prosecution which is commenced to redress the injuly entirely assumes a civ il complexion: the object it embraces is Reparartion rather than Punishment.

What are the evils to be apprehended from the aspersion of public characters, and from the misrepresentation of political transactions? It is usually observed, with considera ble vehemence, "that the person of the civil magistrate should be regarded with reverence, and his reputation approached with deferential awe. How is it possible to separate the person of the Public Officer from that respect which is ever due to Governme nt? The consequence of attacking his reputation will be to render him odious and suspected. Remove that esteem which is challenged by his personal virtues, and that confidence which should constantly reward his integrity, and you will infallibly lessen or destroy his means of usefulness; his authority, instead of meeting With obedience, will become openly controverted and contemned, or perhaps expose him to insult and derision. The true foundation of the power of Civil Government is the respect and revere nce with which it is generally contemplated: to strike at that foundation is to aim at the dissolution of Order and Peace in Society."

Such is an epitome of the arguments generally advanced in support of the interposition of Restriction, and such the alarming picture which they usually represent. Whatever speciousness may be attached to this reasoning, it exhibits a perpetual libel against the character and discernment of Society. It argues a want of confidence in the energies of Truth, and supposes that its evidences are less powerful and captivating than the dominion of Prejudice and Error. He who contends that Misrepresentation will not invariably yield to the artless, simple, and unvarnished Tale of Truth, is egregiously ignorant of the nature of Understanding, and the genuine principles of the human heart.

The government which is actuated by corrupt and ambitious views, it will be readily admitted, has every thing to apprehend from the progress of Investigation. The authority of such governm ent is entirely founded in Imposture, and supported by Public Ignorance and Credulity. It is, therefore, the interest of Tyranny, as it values its existence, to deceive and hoodwink the multitude. The empire of Despotism is founded upon Delusion, and is w holly irreconcilable with the liberty of political discussion. Corruption considers Truth as her inveterate enemy; Talents and Virtues are regarded as her most formidable antagonists: but shall it be contended that the perpetuation of Imposture is to beco me the object of our anxious solicitude? or that the interests of Society will suffer by our ceasing to respect those fatal institutions to which Probity and Integrity are the devoted victims--those pernicious systems upon whose altars the Liberties and H appiness of the people are incessantly sacrificed?

Public Good must constitute the exclusive object to the attainment of which our enquiries should ultimately be directed. To reverence Oppression and Imposture is wholly incompatible with consideratio ns of general prosperity. The interests of Society require that the dominion of Despotism and Error should become subverted. To sympathize with Tyranny is a refinement in cruelty: it is to abandon every exalted feeling of our nature, and every noble attri bute of humanity. If it is the province of Investigation to enlighten the public mind, and destroy the abuses of Political Institution, it should be assiduously cherished, and esteemed as the most powerful benefactor of mankind.

In examining the true merits of this subject, we should therefore confine our attention to a Government which is uniformly actuated by the love of justice, and impressed with a constant solicitude to promote the general happiness. Wherever such a Government exists, it is plai n that every proceeding which can embarrass its operations, and diminish the respect to which it is justly entitled, will lessen its authority and usefulness, and materially injure the interests of Society. It remains to be enquired whether a Government of that description can entertain any serious apprehensions of the effects of misrepresentation; and whether a more judicious remedy than the coercion of a criminal code cannot with confidence become applied?

It is an incontrovertible position that a Government which is steadily actuated by an earnest and sincere desire of promoting the public good must infallibly possess the confidence of the people. It has been already maintained to be impossible that Society should ever become its own enemy. The will of a community must always be directed to the general benefit. If Truth is sufficiently powerful to combat Falsehood and Error, it should become a principal task of the honest and enlightened statesman to present its evidences to public view.

Is it to be imagined that where an administration is possessed of the qualifications which must neeessarily secure its popularity, any misrepresentation of its measures should obtain all extensive reception, or become attended with mischievous consequences? Such supposition would inevitably imply either a want of integrity or remissness in duty. The idea of a Government uniformly actuated by laudable and patriotic sentiments, is diametrically oppossed to Mystery and Concealment. Publicity is one of the pri ncipal characteristics of its proceedings; Truth, sincerity, and justice are the pillars upon which it is supported. A stranger to Artifice and Dissimulation, it feels no apprehension from popular emotions; it shrinks not from the eye of general observat ion; it acknowledges Responsibility to be an active, efficient, and substantial principle, and continually presents to public view a perspicuous and circumstantial history of its conduct. Fortified and emboldened by the consciousness of upright intentio n, it considers itself invulnerable and secure. Confidence is mutually reciprocated between the Government and the People. In proportion as the public mind becomes habituated to discussion, it is rendered more enlightened and informed. In proportion as po litical measures are accompanied with the evidences of rectitude, and enforced by the energy of reasoning, the general mind becomes invigorated and corrected; and misrepresentation has little prospect of obtaining an extensive circulation or reception. Th ere can be no room for jealousy and suspicion where nothing is mysterious and concealed. Faction is confounded and appalled by the powerful lustre which surrounds a system of Virtue. In vain shall Malevolence direct its shafts at the venerable guardians o f Liberty and Justice: those shafts will become enfeebled and shivered by the contact, or recoil with a redoubled momentum upon the hand by which they were propelled. Wherever Sincerity is an acknowledged attribute of the Government, and the civil magistr ate becomes accustomed to exhibit an undisguised and faithful account of his measures; wherever a community is accustomed to the uncontrouled exercise of political discussion, its confidence in the wisdom and integrity of its public officers will become strengthened and increased; and it will be impossible to stimulate the people to intemperate opposition, or to render them the dupes and the victims of designing conspirators.

It is true that every individual possesses an appropriate sphere of influen ce and activity; and that his sentiments, and even his errors, will possess a certain quantity of weight upon those with whom he is ordinarily conversant. But will it be maintained that the prejudices of a few individuals are sufficiently powerful to inf ect the general mass of opinion? Shall it be admitted that the erroneous sentiments of a limited circle can ever be dangerous to a Government erected upon the solid adamant of Political Truth? Whatever might be the malevolent views of a few ambitious and interested conspirators, it is impossible that any respectable proportion of the community should become complicated with hostile and treasonable designs. Nations can never become benefited by deception. It is their eternal interest to pursue the directio n of Truth and Virtue: their errors, therefore, must continually appertain to the understanding, and not belong to the heart.

What, then, are the most judicious means of preserving the Government from the wanton attacks of Licentiousness; and what th e best security of Public Liberty against the hostile encroachments of Ambition? It will be found, upon an accurate examination, that the same remedy is equally adapted to the removal of each of those evils.

Such remedy is to be found in the extensive dissemination of Truth. But what is the most efficacious method of obtaining the universal reception of Truth? It has hitherto been the practice of shortsighted Policy to combat Falsehood with Force. Coercion may, indeed, be adequate to the purposes of punishment: but it never can be rendered the instructor of mankind. If you entertain the beneficent intention of removing my errors, and correcting my mistakes; if you wish to banish my vices and purify my heart, assume the salutary office of the precept or; speak to me with kindness and clemency; tell me in what I am wrong, and point to the path of rectitude. Under such circumstances, can it be possible that I should refuse to listen with complacency? If you are sufficiently impressed with the importance of your subject, the generous glow of enthusiasm will animate your mind; and you will infallibly become imbued with captivating eloquence. There is a chord in every breast attuned to rectitude. Reason and Argument, whenever they are properly applied, po ssess the power of penetrating into every understanding: but nothing can be more injudicious or more at war with its own purposes than the application of force. Instead of attracting, it perpetually repels; it engenders Animosity and Opposition, and natu rally inspires distrust. The penalties of positive Law may advocate me into silence; they may perpetually bear down the energies of Mind: but they are better adapted to become an engine of Oppression, than a happy instrument for the promotion of Politica l Virtue.

Considered as the means of counteracting the injurious effects of falsehood, the interposition of a penal code is altogether unnecessary. On the other hand, it is invariably attended with the most pernicious and dangerous consequences to Soc iety: for most assuredly it is of equal importance that we should guard against the encroachments and abuses of Government, as that we should endeavor to prevent the evils of licentious Misrepresentation. Criminal law is invariably liable to the exerted as an engine of Power: it may be used as the instrument of an administration for the purpose of crushing those individuals whose sentiments are viewed as obnoxious. Can we always be secure in the independence and impartiality of the tribunal by whom it is administered? Will judges never lean in favor of those constituted authorities which are the fountains of patronage and preferment? Will they never be inclined to sacrifice a victim upon the altars of Power? Will they carefully abstain from vindictive in centives, and from the infliction of aggravated and exorbitant penalties? In fine, are not more complicated and tremendous calamities to be apprehended from the introduction of coercive restriction than from the most unbounded licentiousness?

How, the n, shall erroneous opinions or willful misrepresentations be combated by the wise and provident legislator? The proper answer to this inquiry is, That Government should by no means interfere, unless by affording such information to the public as may enab le them to form a correct estimate of things. Let us suppose an idea is circulated, that a certain measure of administration is likely to produce calamitous effects, or that it has originated from flagitious and dishonorable designs. It will be contended that such an idea will be injurious in proportion to the extent of its circulation Admitted. But how shall such opinion be destroyed, or its farther propagation prevented? By fair and argumentative refutation, or by the terrible dissuasive of a statute o f sedition? By the convincing and circumstantial narrative of Truth, or by the terrors of Imprisonment and the singular logic of the Pillory?

It is the constant tendency of Licentiousness to defeat its own purposes. In a state of Society, which admi ts of continual and unrestrained discussion, the triumph of falsehood can never be of permanent duration. There is no character which excites general obloquy and detestation more readily than that of the malignant Slanderer. In proportion as the public mi nd becomes inured to the exercise of Investigation, its discriminating powers will be rendered discerning and correct; it will become enabled instantly to distinguish Between Truth and Error; every man will be taught to reverence and fear the enlightened judgment of the community; Detection will closely pursue the footsteps of Misrepresentation; and none will dare to fabricate or utter the tale of Falsehood with impunity.

The nature as well as the policy of Civil Government requires that confidence s hould be reposed in the wisdom and virtues of the people. Prudence, as well as Magnanimity, will dictate that it should uniformly rely upon the established sanctity of its character. An extreme pertinacity in analyzing syllables, and a jealous sensibilit y at the approach of Censure, naturally creates the suspicion that there is something vulnerable in its constitution, "something rotten in the state of Denmark." If it is in reality traduced, it will invariably possess the means of vindicating its honor w ithout resorting to the ambiguous infliction of punishment. Any erroneous sentiment that may prevail with regard to its administration can readily be removed by the salutary application of Argument. Error in the public sentiment respecting the affairs of Government arises in every instance from the want of information in the community: it is, therefore, in a great measure, . attributable to the mistaken policy of administration itself, in concealing the necessary means of knowledge. Let a Government accus tom itself to the publication of a Succinct and accurate detail of its measures, with their operation and inducements; no room will then remain for misrepresentation; demagogues, who calumniate from criminal incentives, will become instantly silenced and confounded; and the honest but misguided victims of their artifice will relinquish their prejudices upon the first approach of the superior evidence of Truth.

Besides, as far as we suppose that men are actuated by views of personal interest, Governmen t will never want its champions and vindicators: a crowd of panegyrists, like the army of POMPEY, will be readily collected by a stamp of the foot: for "wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." Patronage and Office, that "h ope of reward" which "sweetens labour," will always multiply the advocates of authority. Government will ever possess an imperious advantage in the argument, without resorting to the auxiliary power of criminal jurisprudence. There are more that will alwa ys be ready to vindicate than to censure it.s measures from selfish or sinister considerations.

The restrictions which are enforced by the authority of a penal code will always possess an ambiguolls character. In their nature they are liable to perpet ual abuse: they can only be necessary to support a Government whose measures camlot survive the contact of Investigation. It is sufficiently apparent that the Government whose established reputation of virtue has secured the veneration of the people, is i nvulnerable to the shafts of Calumny: it cannot, consequently, be driven to the expedient of obtaining security through the severity of its criminal system. Restrictions upon the Freedom of Investigation must, therefore, be repugnant to every rational the ory of Political Institution, and pregnant with the most unsalutary consequences.

We would deceive ourselves by imagining that a system of Restriction is possessed of a negative character; that if it cannot produce much benefit, at least it will not be attended with any considerable evils. On the contrary, it ever will be accompanied by the most positive and formidable mischiefs.

It will be the continual tendency of such system to damp the ardour of Political Enquiry, and to inspire the mind with terror. The investigation of public measures will incessantly be associated with the dread of prosecutions and penalties; and the apprehensions of fines and imprisonment will every where pursue us. In vain shall we attempt to estimate the precise extent of prohibition, or ascertain what we are permitted to speak, and at that point we are compelled to silence: the expressions of an unguarded moment, the innocent communication of what we have learned from another, the confidence we repose in the informati on of a friend, may be tortured into guilt, and subject us to the evils of oppressive and unmerited punishment. The censorial jurisdiction of Society, which can only be rendered useful so long as it continues independent and unrestricted, instead of being a powerful guardian and preventative against abuses, will only serve to amuse the people with the semblance and unsubstantial shadow of liberty; while in reality it will constantly expose the zealous and upright advocate of popular justice to the vindict ive and acrimonious persecution of authority.

The system of Restriction is an awkward expedient of securing the confidence of the People, or promoting the popularity of the Government. A statute of sedition may stifle the open declarations of dissatis faction, but it will ever be liable to strike the disorder into the internal and vital parts of the social frame. It is but illy calculated for the permanent establishment of tranquillity, or for effecting a radical cure of the complaint. In a commuity ac customed to the enjoyment of any considerable proportion of freedom, that which cannot be ingenuously spoken will be secretly and bitterly murmured. Government will constantly participate in the terrors it has inspired. The moment the first sensations of surprise become extinguished, Discontent will acquire the redoubled energy of an ANTAEUS, and exert the many hands of a BRAIREUS. The latent fire may cease to flame, but it will not cease to exist. Feeding upon suppressed and hidden, yet powerful combus tibles, it will again burst forth, extend, and consume, with all the irresistible and convulsive fury of a volcano.


The Subject Continued

A position of the most serious magnitude is, t hat Political Institution should exhibit unity and harmony of design. It is impossible to engraft the regulations of Slavery upon the trunk of Liberty, without altering the nature and properties of the tree. One system or the other must inevitably acquire the ascendency. If the frequent prosecution of libels should excite discontent, Government will finally become compelled either to relax from its severity; or, what is mole to be apprehended, will be driven to fortify its powers by the introduction of Mi litary Despotism.

We have already seen that the Restriction of Political Opinion, by the powerful arm of Government, is susceptible of the most dangerous abuses, and incessantly liable to be prostituted to the most invidious and oppressive purposes. S hall we, then, to prevent an inferior and almost imaginary evil ( an evil which is constantly pursued by a salutary and efficacious remedy) resort to the introduction of a system which may be accompanied with such formidable calamities? While we extend ou r solicitude to the suppression of Licentiousness, shall we cease to remember that the freedom of Investigation is preeminently requisite to guard against the abuses of Authority? In the exulberance of our zeal against malignant Calumny and misrepresenta tion, shall we consent to paralize and cripple the most beneficial powers of Society? While we are contemplating the vices and the frailties of mankind, shall we totally forget that Governments are abundant partakers of the passions, temptations, and infi rmities of our nature?

It is generally imagined that political expediency requires the libeller to be punished. "Shall the slanderer of Government be suffered to triumph with impunity? Shall he not meet with the severity due to his misdeeds?" There ar e a variety of considerations which may be offered as conclusive answers to such interrogations.

We must carefully distinguish between the defamation which relates to Private Individuals and that which concerns Government. In the first case a personal injury is sustained--Private Character being tender, and not all object of notoriety, is susceptible of suffering from Misrepresentation. The erroneous impressions of a single man may be extremely pernicious to another. The prosecutions commenced for Per sonal Slander are founded in real damage: they aim at redress; they are entirely the objects of civil jurisdiction, and are not liable to become converted into instruments of oppression.

Our attention must therefore be confined to the Defamation of Go vernment. Misrepresentation of the character or transactions of administration is viewed as a public offense: it is, therefore, contended that it should be punishable, as well as every other crime of a public nature.

In rep]y to such doctrine, it is t o be observed, that the advancement of public good is the true principle upon which all crimes ought to be punished. Coercion should not be exercised for any other reason than because the conduct which is to be restrained is injurious to the community. H e who perpetrates a robbery, or is guilty of fraud, commits a real al injury, which will not admit of apology. The punishment of such offenses is always necessary, and is never subject to abuse: but the interference of Government, to punish men for their assertions respecting itself, ever has been, and ever will be, subject to the most odious oppression.

Public prosecutions for libels are, therefore, more dangerous to Society than the misrepresentation which they are intended to punish. we should be c autious of entrusting Government with a weapon which may render it invulnerable. It has a]ready been contended, that Punishment, abstractly considered, is a multiplication of human calamity. It should never, therefore, be resorted to, unless from momentou s considerations of general utility. Few doctrines are more pernicious than that which contemplates the infliction of injury as the only effectual reformer, and pains and mutilation of the body as the best expedient to purify the mind. The inhuman error has originated in palaces, and has insinuated itself into families and schools. If the same ingenuity and fervor had been employed to enlighten the intellectual faculties, as has been exerted for the refinement of cruelty and vengeance, the world would ha ve been advanced much nearer to maturity; and Virtue, instead of Terror, would govern our conduct.

It has been rendered sufficiently plain, that a virtuous Government cannot become materially injured by Misrepresentation: for the most acrimonious and violent invectives will be the most open to detection. Why, then, should a punishment be inflicted? Will the confinement of my body within a prison, or the removal of my property to the public treasury, render me a better man? Will such severity be calcul ated to conciliate my affections towards the Government? or will it be likely to inspire me with lasting resentment? If I have been gulity of malicious detraction, let corroding Envy, sickening Jealousy, and vulture Passions torture and prey upon my hear t. Believe me, I should be punished by misery more aggravated than the horrors of all of an inquisition. He who attack Truth will be sure of disappointment: he will be shunned, detested, and, like CAIN, will be sentenced to wear a mark of infamy upon his brow. If I have mistaken the character of an influential personage, or misconceived a particular transaction of Government, my mistake should be corrected by Reason, and not by the laceration of my body. If I have willfully misstated the measures of admin istration, or uttered malevolent invectives against a public officer, Coercion cannot be necessary to vindicate the charaeter of the one, or to remove all erroneous impression with regard to the other. If punishment is intended for the gratification of personal revenge, it is evidently immoral: if founded in considerations of general utility, it is the offspring of mistaken theory. To remove an erroneous impression, nothing more is necessary than the unequivocal representation of Truth.

Government should only inflict punishment with reference to public views. As our actions respect ourselves, we should be left to our consciences and our GOD. No position can be more true, than the popular maxim, that "it is better ninetynine guilty individuals shou ld go unpunished, than one innocent victim be sacrificed upon the shrine of criminal law." There is no subject so delicate as the declaration of our opinions. Nothing can be more difficult than to pronounce with certainty upon the sincerity of the man who may have misstated the transactions of Government. How can it be ascertained what portion of actual Malevolence and how much of mistaken Zeal, existed within his mind? Shall I be imprisoned for credulity, or fined upon account of my imbecility of underst anding? Shall we punish mankind for their prejudices and mistakes? Shall the enthusiasm of honest Opinion be scourged and fettered, because it squares not with the political standard of the cabinet? In the midst of my errors upon topics of general concern , it is more probable that I am actuated by upright design, than governed by the settled incentive of premeditated guilt. How, then, shall we discriminate between undesigned Mistake and wilful Misrepresentation? Shall a Court of Starchamber be erected in the bosom of Society, to decide upon the import of particular phraseology, and determine what given proportion of acrimony pervaded the bosom of the speaker? In whatever point of view we consider the infliction of penalty as a mean of restricting the int ercourse of Sentiment, or of preventing the progress of Falsehood, we shall find it diametrically repugnant to just and rational principles.

We have not yet sufficiently considered the subject upon one of its most important and interesting grounds. An unrestricted investigation of the conduct of Magistrates, is not only a necessary preventative of the encroachments of Ambition, but it is also the only preservative of Public Liberty which ean be resorted to without endangering the tranqulility of a Stat e. It will ever he found impossible in practice to admit the interference of Government for the restriction of Public Opinion, without destroying the efficiency, or enfeebling the operation of the censorial powers of Society....

Public Opinion should not only remain unconnected with Civil Authority, but be rendered superior to its controul. As the guardian of Public Liberty it will lose its powers and its usefulness the moment it is rendered dependent upon the Government. The stream must flow in the d irection to which it naturally inclines, and not be diverted by subtlety or force. No superintendance should be introduced, except what is exercised by the percipient faculties of Society. Coercion will stamp an awe upon the mind which will infallibly de stroy the freedom of Public Opinion. However innocent or correct may be our sentiments, we shall always remain uncertain with respect to the verdict to be pronounced upon them; we shall perpetually distrust the impartiality or discernment of the tribuna l before which we are liable to be summoned. The consequences of mistake will be so fatal and destructive, that we shall be driven to the pernicious alternative of silence and inexertion. The history of prosecutions for libel will constantly furnish us with the lesson, That Governments are impatient of contradiction; that they are not so zealus to punish Falsehood from an enlightened and disinterested attachment to Justice, as they are ready to smother opinions that are unfavorable to their designs. Th e infliction of Penalty, instead of being a wholesome corrective of Falsehood, will be perpetually abused to answer the purposes of Animosity, Oppression, and Ambition. It will infallibly destroy that censorial jurisdiction of Society which is the only s alutary preservative of Public Liberty and Justice...

... There is no view in which we can contemplate the system of Restriction, without perceiving its injustice and deformity. It can never be necessary to preserve the order and tranquility of Soci ey, but is perpetually liable to the most pernicious prostitution. It can never be essential to the security of beneficial institutions, but may be rendered an engine of the most atrocious oppression when guided by the hand of Despotism. Public Opinion is the vital principle of Civil Society: the healtllful existence of a state requires that it should always possess a considerable latitude and extensive sphere of operation, and that it should never be approached without the utmost deference and circumsp ection. To invest the public magistrate with the power of restricting Opinion, would be to trust the progress of Information to the mercy and pleasure of a Government! More formidable dangers are justly to be apprehended from arming the constituted organs of Authority with a power to arrest the career of Human Intellect, than from ;all the evils attributable to Licentiousness. Shall a vicious administration be permitted to .shelter itself by the tyrannical severity of its edicts, or fortify its authority by the inhuman cruelty of its penal code? Shall it erect the palisades of Criminal Jurisprudence to prevent the rude ;approach of independent Investigation? Shall statutes be enacted to render Enquiry criminal, all laws be enforced to metamorphose Reflec tion into Treason or Sedition? What reasoner will pretend to assert the absolute infallibility of Government, or maintain that every act of administration must necessarily be stamped with the features of Perfection ? If a community may sometimes err in t he formation of their sentiments, Governments will not less frequently oppress the people from premeditated design. The censorial jurisdiction of Society is the only safe and wholesome guardian of Public Liberty. It can exercise its benefical province no longer than while it retains an absolute independence. As far as considerations of danger are implicated in the discussion, the argument unequivocally terminates in favor of the most unbounded latitude of Investigation....


The Freedom of Investigaion Considered as a Preventative of Revolution

... It is impossible that Society should remain forever stationary. Perhaps its constant progression in improvement has now become inevitable. From the experience of former ages in affairs of Government, it would be hazardous exclusively to reason. The state of mankind in the ages that have passed was different from that in which they are placed at present. Greece and Rome are usually denom inated enlightened countries: but in those celebrated communities Knowledge was monopolized, and confined to the possession of a few. The means of its acquisition were trivial; those of its preservation slender. If books were written, they could not be generally circulated: the multiplication of copies was scantly effecte by the tedious and laborious industry of manual penmanship; and they were exclusively devoted to the perusal of the wealthy and the scientific. The unenlightened multitude were more easily deluded and governed, because it was their perpetual destiny to remian unistructed. No periodical publication, no friendly volumes of Truth, were dedicated to their instruction, or ushered into the world for general benefit. Who cannot perceive th at the invention of Printing has fixed the date of a most remarkable aera in the general history of Mankind?

These considerations cannot be pronounced a digression from the subject principally in view: for, by appreciating the horrors of a state of Revolution, the mind becomes more fervently attached to that excellent mean of preventions which supercedes its necessity, and points to the progressive melioration of Society, by a hand unstained with blood. The influence of the press upon opinions, mann ers, and government is a subject which will presently be submitted to attention. In proportion as our topic is extensive, it demands the invigorated energy of Investigation: but previous to the termination of the present Chapter, let us endeavour to rescu e the advocates of Political Reformation from all imputation with which they have been unjustly stigmatized.

It is a prejudice not infrequently entertained, that the advocates of Public Liberty are restless, turbulent, and seditious; perpetually addic ted to the pursuit of novelty, and ever watchful for the opportunity of Revolution. To remove a prejudice, It once so fatal and delusive, is a duty equally owing to the safety of the Government, and the permanent welfare of the people. Such an opinion may excite the apprehensions of administration, and lead them to the adoption of measures creative of discontent, and liable to terminate in the very evils they are studious to avoid; it may influence the weak, the timid, and the affluent, and induce them to oppose the benevolent efforts of Melioration directed to the general benefit. Philosophical Reformation is not a crude and visionary projector: Rashness is not her attribute, nor physical force her weapon. Her province is to enlightell Society by candid and argumentative addresses to the understanding. She is the benefactor of the human race, imbued with wisdom, moderation, and clemancy; and not "the destroying Angel," who would sacrifice one generation from uncertain prospects of benefit to the next. H er genuine task is to preserve the lives of millions, to respect the private possessions of the people, and forbid the sanguinary streams to flow. Her constant solicitude is not to invite mankind to assemble amid the ferocious din of arms, but in the peac eful temple of reason and reflection.

We have already seen that the security of Government and the conservation of Public Liberty rest upon the same common basis, Public Opinion. Those very sentimcnts of political rectitude, which render a community solicitous for the preservation of every essential right, will infallibly deter them from resorting to revolutionary measures for the redress of public grievances. It is, therefore, more dangerous for Government to risque the destruction of that general mass of information which susutains the morals of Society, than to permit the most industrious activity and unbounded latitude of Investigation. If any case can possibly occur, which can render the violence of Revolution expedient, it must be when all h ope of redress from any other remedy has completely vanished; it must be when the authority of Government debars that mutual intercourse and communication of Opinion which is essential to general knowledge and improvement. Of every possible mode of Despo tism, there is none so pernicious, none from which the mind of man shrinks back with greater horror, than that which brutalizes his moral and percipient faculties, and deprives him of Speech and Opinion. The habitude of reasoning, and the liberty of commu nicating our sentiments, are friendly alike to the rights of Society and to the wholesome authority of Government. Licentiousness is an evil infinitely less formidable than Restriction.


The Preceding Subjects Considered with Relation to Representative Governments

Thus far the subject has been examined upon general and independent grounds. The doctrine of the preceding chapters is unconnected with any particular form of civil institutio n. We become furnished with an additional field of argument when it is considered with relation to the theory of Representative Systems.

The Society which is wholly erected upon the basis of Representation is undoubtedly most congenial to the nature and moral constitution of man. It embraces the sound position, That the exclusive object of Civil Government is to promote the general benefit; and it constantly exhibits the perfect equality of political rights. No hereditary aristocracy usurps the pow ers of the state; no privileged orders are supported at the expense of the people; and no exclusive immunities are monopolized by the partially distinguished few. Our understanding is not insulted by the insignificant parade of empty and unmeaning titles : but (except what is descriptive of substantial office) the general name of Citizen, which expresses our relation to the community, is the only appellation of the social state.

It has, however, been the policy of most Governments, which have either wholly or in part been founded upon the representative system, in some measure to limit the operation of the principle of Representation, by requiring certain qualifications most usually consist in the possession of property. It may be a matter of useful speculation to examine the reasoning in favor of such limitation, and the arguments by which it may become opposed.

In support of such limitation it may be urged, with considerable force, that the interest of Society is a consideration to which ev ery other principle must bend; and that the public good requires that no man should possess a voice in the general councils unless his situation is independent, It is true, indeed, that poverty should be viewed as a misfortune, and not considered as a cr ime: but that he who is exposed to penury will be perpetually subjected to the influence, and implicitly devoted to the views, of the rich; that the opposers of such limitation entirely mistake the means of promoting the object limitation entirely mistake the means of promoting the object they progess to have in view; for that by furnishing the affluent with an opportunity to render those who are dependent upon their favor, and exposed to the temptation of their bribes, the tools and instruments of their ambition, instead of promoting they would effectually destroy the substantial equality of political rights.

In addition to this, it is further maintained, That the welfare of Society requires every active citizen to be deeply interested in the pros perity of the state: he should feel that he has something valuable at stake; something that may operate as a perpetual pledge to ensure his citizenship is established upon a solid and durable foundation: but he who has little to lose will seldom be animat ed by an ardent solicitude for the public prosperity. The individual who is possessed of property, will act with principle and independence: but the child of Poverty is a feather that may be wafted by the lightest breeze.

On the other hand it may be contended that it is an essential political principle, that all who are bound by the laws should possess an equal share in their formation; that the individual who is not blessed with the perishable goods of fortune has nevertheless the more estimable tr easures of Liberty and Life: shall these become subjected to the authority of institutions, in the establishment of which their possessor has on agency? Shall the individual who is poor be taught to feel that he is not a citizen? If he has no interest a t stake, with what countenance can he be called upon to fight the battles of that which cannot be considered as his country? Vicissitude is an imperious law of mortals, and the clouds of Misfortune are suspended over every Son of Humanity. He who is the boasted proprietor of wealth and independence today, may be stripped of the fleeting gifts of Plutus by the unforeseen events of tomorrow.

It may further be objected, That the Aristocracy of Wealth exerts a pernicious empire over Manners and Moral s; that the distinction which it creates is extremely unfavorable to the progress and the practice of Virtue; that the true use of property becomes perverted from that end for which it was originally designed; that riches are not coveted for the valuable and virtuous enjoyment which they are enabled to bestow, but for the pernicious ostentation and influence which they cherish; that Society constantly impresses the baneful lesson, "Exert all the powers you posses for the attainment of affluence, for witho ut this you can never become respectable of happy:

"-Qualrenda PECUNIA primum, Virtus post nummos:"

That neither Talents nor Virtue enforce our esteem unless they are united with the possession of Wealth; and that accordingly Avarice has become the predominant passion of Society, and Fraud and Peculation crimes of continual recurrence: That Property will always command a sufficient degree of influence, without being rendered the subject of exclusive political privilages; and that every limitation of the representative principle is not only unjust, but highly pernicious.

Such are some of the principal considerations involved in the discussion of that interaction question. We shall not at present venture to decide to what determination the wei ght of argument will direct. With regard to this, as well as every other subject, the welfare of society should constitute the exclusive standard of decision. Let it, however, be observed, that the equalization of property, however favorite an object it may be in Utopian theories, is perhaps altogether incapable of becoming realized in practice, If it was possible to establish the most perfect equality at one moment, it would instantly become destroyed by the avarice of one and the prodigality of anoth er. Agrarian laws are constantly pernicious; and the interference of Government upon such occasions would amount to the most atrocious and depreciable tyranny. Let Property pursue its own level, and ebb, and flow, and fluctuate with the vicissitudes of life.

These considerations, though they belong to the Representative system, are mentioned incidentally, and do not materially affect the principal doctrines of this chapter: for the man who is possessed of property and the elective privilege today, may lose them, and he who has them not may acquire them on the morrow.

Let us, then, proceed to examine the right of Political Investigation as it particularly relates to the theory of Representative Government. Whether such system of political ins titution is pure and unmixed, or whether it is restricted and modified, or is in either case a fundamental position, That public offices are conferred by the suffrages of Society ; and that every individual either actually has, or may acquire, a right to be elected, as well as a voice in elections.

In the first place, therefore, every member of a Representative Commonwealth either is or may become eligible to be invested with public offices. It is for that reason absolutely indispensable to the exist ence of such system that each individual should be furnished with all the means of obtaining political information, and be permitted to exercise his faculties in the pursuit of such knowledge without interruption or restraint. The idea of Secrecy is pecu liarly repugnant to the theory of Representative Institution, except in those solitary instances which render temporary concealment necessary. So far from discouraging Enquiry, it is the genuine spirit of such system to stimulate the mind to enterprise, awaken emulation, and point to the honorable rewards of superior excellence and talents. Society should constitute an University of Politics, open to the instruction of each of its members. In this extensive school each individual who will exert the pow ers of his mind, ought to be taught not only the general principles of political morality, but also the particular and local interests of the state.

Secondly, the liberty of investigation is equally indispensable to the judicious exercise of the ele ctive right. It is to be presumed that the elector, who prefers between contending candidates, decides from the influence of reasons which are present to his understanding. He is supposed to assume the province of a judge with respect to their principle s, talents. and political acquirements. Now, to enable one man to decide upon the qualifications of another, it is necessity that he should be conversant with that branch of knowledge which respects those qualifications. It is therefore necessary, in th e discharge of such important duty, that the elector should be enabled to exercise every means of information. In proportion as a community is habituated to political discussion, its discernment will be rendered accurate and comprehensive; it will acquir e the faculty of distinguishing merit; and the Representative of any other system, because Wisdom and Virtue will acquire the offices of state.

Thirdly, It is to be observed, that the representative system unavoidably implies an absolute right to in vestigate the conduct of all public officers. And here let attention be directed to a most important consideration, which places such system in an amiable and interesting light, and confers upon it a pre-eminent superiority aver any other. While every o ther form of civil government is totally destitute of any regular remedy to redress the encroachments of power, the system of representation possesses an efficacious corrective inseparably entwined around the heart of its constitution. In monarchies and hereditary establishments a dreadful alternative is presented to our choice: we must either tamely submit to accumulated wrongs, or by resistance disorganize and convulse the social frame. But in elective governments the remedy is regular, peaceful, and constant periodical recurrence. The magistrate whose conduct has been injurious may be displaced, and his seat bestowed upon a more upright and patriotic successor, Let, then, the advocate of freedom be enjoined to abstain from violence; let him carefull y avoid every act of disorder; let his conduct exhibit an exemplary submission to the laws; and let the public be taught to cherish and esteem the elective privilege, as the only sage and constitutional mean of redress.

But it is plain that such reme dy would be feeble and inactive unless associated with its correspondent right of enquiry into the conduct of public officers. Society, as the constituent body, must determine whether they are entitled to a continuance of confidence; and whether the gener al welfare required that they shall be re-elected or displaced. Every elector, therefore, must be permitted to canvass the conduct of public officers' with unshaken firmness and independence.

For this purpose it is indispensable requisite that polit ical measures should be published in circumstantial detail and also that investigation should remain entirely unrestricted. It is necessary that the public should be placed in the possession of events, and also of the reasoning and incentives with which they are connected. It is equally necessary that their decision should be rendered independent of control. Surely it would be presumptuous in the public officer to tell his constituent, "My elevation is dependent upon the tenure of your pleasure; you po ssess the constitutional right to displace me: but I will not permit you to exercise that pleasure, or you shall only exercise it in such manner as I think proper to prescribe."

Fourthly, It is to be observed that the investigation of conduct must in evitably lead to the investigation of character. Every man who becomes a candidate for office voluntarily submits his reputation to the ordeal of public examination. Surely, if my suffrages requested in favor of any individual, it is my duty to enquire what are his qualifications? What his morals? Is he entitled to public confidence? What are his pretensions to the virtue of Integrity? I Pericles, who has already been appointed to office, should become a candidate for re-election, how is it possible that I can enter into an examination of his conduct, and yet abstain from an investigation of his character? Let me be informed of the substantial reason why I should abstain? If his conduct is too frail to admit the contact of enquiry, what are his pr etensions to public promotion? If it is not feeble, why should he shrink from the touchstone of Investigation? What is character? What are the evidences upon which it is founded? and what are the ideas associated with that term? The general tenor of ou r conduct has been useful and upright; we have uniformly manifested that out actions proceed from honest intentions. From such general conduct are, therefore, correlative. An examination of the one implies an examination of the other.