صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

should shed it on the spot: But, alas ! calumny, like the lightning, scars where it strikes! It comes from hell; and leaves a burning wound, which no earthly surgery can heal 1

POPULAR OPINION.

1., The judgment of the world stands upon matter of fortune,

Remark.

The vulgar judge by the event; noble minds by the intention.

Who knows a people, that knows not sudden opinion makes them hope? Which hope, if it be not answered, they fall into hate; choosing and refusing, erecting and overthrowing, according as the presentness of any fancy carries them. Even their hasty drawing to one leader, makes him think they will as hastily be withdrawn from him ; for it is but one ground of inconstancy, soon to take and soon to leave,

Remark.

Vladimir, the first Christian prince of Russia, gave an example in his treatment of trea. son, useful both to kings and subjects. In his war with Yaropolk, prince of Kief, he contrived to bribe Blude, the confidential minister of his enemy, to betray Kief and its sovereign into his hands. It was done ; and the traitor prepared to derive yet higher rewards from his treachery. For three days, Vladimir placed him in the seats of distinction, loaded him with titles of dignity, and on the fourth, called him before the whole court, and thus addressed him I have fulfilled my promise: thy honours exceed thy wishes : Three days I have treated thee as my friend : To-day, as judge, I condemn the traitor and the assassin of his prince !” Having uftered these words, Blude was led out to im. mediate execution.

3. Factions are no longer to be trusted than the factious may be persuaded it is for their good,

Remark.

While interests appear irreconcilable, opia nions will be so to; but the instant the mob are led to scent their own advantage, they care not whether the public derive weal or woe from

their uproar.

- A popular licence, is indeed the many.

headed tyrant.

5.

The people's will, having so many circles

of imagination, can hardly be inclosed in one point.

6. O! weak trust of the many-headed multitude, whom inconstancy only doth by accident guide to well-doing! Who can set confidence there, where company takes away shame; and each may lay the fault upon his fellow?

7. The populace are naturally taken with exterior shews, far more than with inward consideration of material points.

Remark.

We should be at a loss to account for this foolish result of the congregated opinions of a concourse of people (from most of whom, individually, we might expect some wellgrounded judgment), if it were the majority which always carried the verdict on these occasions. But so far from it (as judgment is the consequence of investigation), while they deliberate, the cork-brained minority, ready for any man's battledoor, fly with the wind; they consider nothing, but take the evidence of what they see and hear; the past is obliterated by the present; in vain memory would recal old benefits; new promises, in fine speeches, are more attractive; and any demagogue who can prate of virtue, patriotism, and wealth to come, may put to silence the sober appeal of moderation and desert, and carry away the shouting multitude to pull down or build up, just as their leader bids them. Ignorance is always clamorous : Aware of her want of arguments, she resolves that those of her adversary shall not be heard ; and the moment she makes her election, whether wrong or right, her shouts and uproar stun the crowd; her will is proclaimed by a tumult; and often the quieter sort are misled into thinking it the voice of the people. Such are the beginnings of most popular riots; but at what point they will stop, no wisdom can foresee. The mob is a sort of bear; while your ring is through its nose, it will even dance under your cudgel; but should the

« السابقةمتابعة »