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could possibly do; and it was not till I went to Malta, and had to correspond with official characters myself, that I fully understood the extreme shallowness and ignorance with which men of some note too were able, after a certain fashion, to carry on the government of important departments of the empire. I then quite assented to Oxenstiern's saying, Nescis, mi fili, quam parva sapientia règitur mundus.
Burke was, indeed, a great man. No one ever read history so philosophically as he seems to have done. Yet, until he could associate his general principles with some sordid interest, panic of property, jacobinism, &c., he was a mere dinner bell. Hence you will find so many half truths in his speeches and writings. Nevertheless, let us heartily acknowledge his transcendant greatness. He would have been more influential if he had less surpassed his contemporaries, as Fox and Pitt, men of much inferior minds in all respects.
April 9. 1833.
PROSPECT OF MONARCHY OR DEMOCRACY. – THE REFORMED HOUSE OF COMMONS.
I HAVE a deep, though paradoxical, conviction, that most of the European nations are more or less on their way, unconsciously indeed, to pure monarchy; that is, to a government in which, under circumstances of complicated and subtle control, the reason of the people shall become efficient in the apparent will of the king. * As it seems to me, the wise and good in every country will, in all likelihood, become every day more and more disgusted with the representative form of government, brutalized as it is, and will be, by the predominance of democracy
* This is backing Vico against Spinosa. It must, however, be acknowledged that at present the prophet of democracy has a good right to be considered the favourite. - ED.
in England, France, and Belgium. The statesmen of antiquity, we know, doubted the possibility of the effective and permanent combination of the three elementary forms of government; and, perhaps, they had more reason than we have been accustomed to think.
You see how this House of Commons has begun to verify all the ill prophecies that were made of it — low, vulgar, meddling with every thing, assuming universal competency, flattering every base passion, and sneering at every thing noble, refined, and truly national! The direct and personal despotism will come on by and by, after the multitude shall have been gratified with the ruin and the spoil of the old institutions of the land. As for the House of Lords, what is the use of ever so much fiery spirit, if there be no principle to guide and to sanctify it?
April 10. 1833.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. - CAPTAIN
B. HALL. — NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN STATES. - DEMOCRACY WITH SLAVERY. - QUAKERS.
THE possible destiny of the United States of America, — as a nation of a hundred millions of freemen, — stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, living under the laws of Alfred, and speaking the language of Shakspeare and Milton, is an august conception. Why should we not wish to see it realized ? America would then be England viewed through a solar microscope ; Great Britain in a state of glorious magnification ! How deeply to be lamented is the spirit of hostility and sneering which some of the popular books of travels have shown in treating of the Americans ! They hate us, no doubt, just as brothers hate; but they respect the opinion of an Englishman concerning
themselves ten times as much as that of a native of any other country on earth. A very little humouring of their prejudices, and some courtesy of language and demeanour on the part of Englishmen, would work wonders, even as it is, with the public mind of the Americans.
Captain Basil Hall's book is certainly very entertaining and instructive; but, in my judgment, his sentiments upon many points, and more especially his mode of expression, are unwise and uncharitable. After all, are not most of the things shown up with so much bitterness by him mere national foibles, parallels to which every people has and must of necessity have ?
What you say about the quarrel in the United States is sophistical. No doubt, taxation may, and perhaps in some cases must, press unequally, or apparently so, on different classes of people in a state. In such cases there is a hardship; but, in the long run, the