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in respect of nations. Communities are only individuals associated, and that which is true of man in unity must be true of him in his gregarious affinities. But if we show from the past that nations have had their cycle of alternations as well as individuals, our argument will receive a twofold confirmation by analysis and synthesis, and that in the instance of the highest and most independent order of intelligent creation.
The prudential virtues are essentially conservative and improving. As a general rule men rise by virtue, and sink and deteriorate through vice. Probity of conduct begets trust and confidence; humility conciliates kindness and patronage; persevering industry is cumulative. These forin the ordinary appliances by which men rise into social consideration, power, and affluence. But the prizes won the motives cease, or at least become less urgent. Those need not toil assiduously who are elevated above want or the fear of it. What motive is there to humility if we have no need of favour or service ? Even integrity of character is not so imperative on those who do not require the suffrages of their fellow-citizens, or who command the means for silencing, corrupting, perverting, or defying their opinions. Success in this way places the fortunate under the influence of new motives and conditions of existence. Former virtues no longer yield the same rewards. Enjoyments have become different. The harvest has been sown, grown, and reaped, and the season has arrived for enjoying the sweets of past labours, anxieties, and endurance. Parsimony is folly, meekness and servility preposterous, industry and application uncalled for. Now is the time, if we can only divest ourselves of previous habits and slavery, to riot in the fulness and freedom of an independent existence; in the pleasure of spending, not of saving; in the splendour and ostentation of wealth, not in the meanness of poverty; in dispensing, not in receiving favours; in exacting, not rendering services : in short in doing all that the rich and powerful may do with impunity, pride, and gratification. Circumstances have changed, imposed upon them new duties, and opened to them new sources of delectation in which they may indulge without loss or disparagement. As their happiness really consists in pursuing this altered course with altered means, we may be assured that in general mankind will pursue it, and that they do pursue it, the world is daily affording abundant examples.
The transitions indicated, the revolution in moral regimen, in virtues, pursuits, and enjoyments peculiar to the struggling and the prosperous, are inherent in human nature. No alteration or modification of being or external circumstance can ever divest man's conduct of these contrasted motives and influences. The needy and prostrate will ever be found humble and solicitous; the rich and powerful haughty and independent in bearing. Such opposite aspects and demeanour will always ensue for the reason already assigned---namely, that each have their reward; each pursues the course most suitable, gratifying, and remunerative. The humble rise to affluence, and the affluent enjoy the fruits of past sacrifices in the greater command of luxuries, ease, obedience, and deference. The natural results follow; the virtues of humility are rewarded by prosperity; the vices of the rich, which the seductions of prosperity may induce, also entail their appropriate return in, perhaps, sudden reverses or humiliation of condition, Abundance and power naturally tend to generate waste and prodigality, exemption from the ordinary restraints and responsibilities of life, recklessness of conduct, arrogance, and tyranny.
Such form the ordinary cycle of individuals. The same principles applied to nations present corresponding results. Almost everything great has had a laudable commencement. The Indian chief mostly attains pre-eminence in virtue of superior strength, agility, or prowess. All the royal houses and all the aristocracies of Europe had, doubtless, according to the cotemporary moral standard, virtuous foundations. The most worthy must always command our suffrages; it is contrary to human nature spontaneously to yield precedence to that which is vile, noxious, or undeserving. The institution of Chivalry was noble in conception; it formed an active auxiliary of European civilization; and the knight's vocation to vanquish oppression and redress the injured was a divine mission. All great orders have fallen from the seductions of success. The Knights TEMPLARs are a memorable instance. They began in poverty and exemplary devotion; were the poor of the Holy City, and the valiant defenders of the Holy Sepulchre; their primitive virtues acquired for them the confidence and respect of all Christendom, and a grateful world heaped upon them vast revenues and possessions; but excess of riches, honours, and worship, engendered the common seeds of dissolution. They begat pride, arrogance, and licentiousness, and the Knights Templars fell beneath the proscriptive ban of Europe.
The history of the Jesuits affords another felicitous illustration. Vows of poverty and chastity, of implicit obedience to their chief and the Pope, formed the cement of their union, and the beginning of their power. After the usual policy of new competitors, they put forth extraordinary proposals to win favour; and their pious zeal was not restricted to ordinary sinners, but was especially directed to the conversion of Jews and prostitutes. Their missionary ardour and professions of exemplary disinterestedness soon made them famous; and before the death of Loyola, their founder, they had spread into almost every country in the New and Old World. But the usual fatality of progress attended them ; intoxicated by their vast sway over almost every class of society, they sought a like predominance over courts, princes, and ministers of state. In pursuit of this ambitious aim, it is probable they were guilty of many bad practices, though calumny, as in the case of the Knights Templars, doubtless multiplied and aggravated the atrocity of their crimes. The Provincial Letters' of Pascal inflicted an irreparable blow on their moral reputation; and there is little doubt the order was ripe for dissolution, when it became a general object of suspicion and denunciation on the continent.
The tendency to corruption is not peculiar to the triumph of ecclesiastical societies. It is common to all associations. Gregariously, man is more prone to degeneracy than individually, because the temptation is often greater, and the responsibility less. The history of joint-stock companies and incorporate bodies illustrates the general tendency. All those of regular standing, that is, of natural origin, growth, and maturity, present in their histories the usual cyclical aspects of a virtuous commencement, intermediate or meridian triumph, and evil ending. Commercial companies we pass over, not as exceptions to the general law, but their progress is too familiar and ephemeral to require citation, and shall dwell on the Old CORPORATIONS of Europe. Remains of these still subsist in every European country, and all of them, whether trade-guilds or municipalities, whether chartered for the protection of a handicraft mystery, or the defence and government of a town, were praiseworthy and politic in origin. Security, order, piety, charity, and the promotion and reward of skilled labour, formed the leading objects of their institution. They had their day and their use, their rise and decline, their well-deserved fame and merited opprobrium. The most worthy-the elect of society-doubtless once constituted their members, masters, and directing councils. In their era of purity and strength, the municipal corporations were the refuge and defence of the oppressed against the tyranny of the feudal baronage, which order had itself degenerated from its primitive institution, after describing the usual cycle of social revolution. The guild-companies exercised not less salutary functions; afforded an asylum for the decayed members of their body, helped to improve, extend, and maintain the integrity of their respective occupational arts, and guarded the community from fraud and adulteration. So great became the repute of these fraternities for opulence and worth, that they became the chief trust-bodies of the kingdom, and were mostly selected as the conscience-keepers for the executive administration of eleemosy
nary gifts, and all property bequeathed for pious, charitable, or scholastic uses. How much they have fallen into decay; how much they have degenerated; and how grossly they have been perverted from their first institutes, it is needless to say, since the general corporation of the city of London, with its minor civic companies, form a living and flagrant illustration.
We need not, however, restrict our examples to subordinate communities. From individuals and corporations we may ascend to KINGDOMS and EMPIRES.
These too present, in striking delineation, their cycle of vicissitude; laudable in commencement, culpable in meridian development. Patriotism, which in a state is synonymous with virtue in an individual, and has corresponding exalting results, has been the source of all national greatness. It was the foundation of the power and renown of the Grecian republics, which rose by noble deeds, by wise and just laws, and declined through the turpitude of intestine feuds and unceasing wars, joined to the individual corruption and enervation resulting from eastern luxury and riches. It was heroic virtues that built up and established the sway of imperial Rome, and palpable degeneracy from primitive manners and institutes that sapped the foundation of her strength. Out of her ruins emerged the famous Italian republic of the middle ages. Venice, Genoa, Florence, though of Hetting career, have each had their bright and youthful page of history; their day of dawn, struggle, and upward rising; their annals of sage policy and invincible daring; of commercial and maritime enterprise, and of exemplary internal industry and perseverance. By these they expanded into power, fame, opulence, and splendour; and by the contrary degeneracies, which the intoxication of triumphant success chiefly induced, they collapsed into weakness, poverty, and insignificance.
It is unnecessary to multiply examples of this kind. They are familiar to every student of history. The fall of nations is as necessary as their rise, the catastrophe of inevitable conditions, and constitutes part of the moral economiy of Nature. Had the world continued perpetually and universally Roman, Persian, or Macedonian, such overwhelming dominations would have been obstructive of human improvement and human enjoyment. The vices of great empires, which are inseparable from their extended rule, are the necessary and salutary check of inordinate power, of selfish monopoly, and overtopping oppression. Their dissolution is not the death of the world, but its regeneration, in the birth and efflorescence of new and energetic forms of social organization more favourable to general felicity.
Like conditions enchain the destiny of individuals. Their happiness is in perpetual change, in never being stationary, but VOL. 1.-NO. VII.
perpetually revolving through the prescribed cycle of vicissitudes. That this is really a law of humanity may be inferred from the hurtful tendencies of all conventional attempts to contravene it, to bind either men or nations to an unchangeable status. The institution of castes is a pertinent confirmation, and which, in the concurring estimate of writers, has formed the chief source of the feebleness and degeneracy, of the low moral and physical manifestations of the people of the East. Hope was abstracted, the excitement of emulation and transition, and they have dwindled under the weariness and satiety of an eternal monotony of being. Under the fixity of their usages, the Chinese for ages have been useless to themselves and everybody around them; they have never attained to the common standard capabilities or development of manhood; even their happiness is a negation, is minimized more nearly to that of an oyster or a tortoise than of a rational entity, consisting less in positive pleasure than in the absence of pain; and a great blessing will doubtless be conferred on this huge, undigested, and conceited empire, by bringing it to a consciousness of its wants and existence through the stimulating energies of European intercourse.
By attempting to fix or stereotype any social class, we infallibly impose upon it a condition of deterioration,-abstract it from the wholesome current of existence essential to strength, growth, and conservation. This is attested by the history of every privileged body in Europe, whether regal, noble, or sacerdotal. They all degenerated, and they all degenerated exactly in proportion as they were prescriptively bolstered up: thrown on the beach as it were to dry, wither, and rot in pride, effeminacy, exclusiveness, and isolation. The British peerage has evinced the fewest and most tardy signs of impotence, and seems likely to be the most enduring, simply because it has been the least protected, and kept more in regenerative communion with the other classes of society. But it can hardly be doubted that if all factitious supports were struck away--if primogeniture and entail laws were abolished—if no hereditary pretension to social rank or legislative immunities were recognized--if the folly and presumption of a barbarous age, which vainly sought to govern after death under circumstances that could not be foreseen or appreciated, were eradicated-and if the privileged of every degree were left to find their natural level, subject to the law of perpetual mutation, of flux and reflux, universally pervading: in this case, we repeat, it cannot be doubted a great social melioration would be accomplished both in the individuals equalized and the communities of which they are constituent members. By such arrangement everything