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most criminal motives. All this may shock the sim: pering flatterers of fashionable opinion : it may stay the course of them who covet the honours of an equivocal candour at the cost of the rewards, unearthly and distant, which await the upright. It is easy to demand of us, What ground have we to suspect the principles of men whose political station is high, and whose social sphere removes them far from every corrupt influence and sinister consideration ? We are not scared by all this loud passion, all this towering indignance, this “Ercles' vein.” The civil constitution, under which we live, teaches us that no man is to be trusted. It exempts none, it protects none, from doubt and jealousy, because of certain character and condition. It endures no instance, no plea, no grade, of irresponsibility. Every man is under bail and recognizance and oath to it. It holds light as air, and cheap as dust, all individual professions. It knows no man's person. It takes no man's word. Its genius is that of wholesome scrutiny and precaution. It will be secured. Talk not, then, to us of casting slur and slight upon public men. We abandon the spirit and the rule of our constitution the moment we give credit to men beyond their measures and their liabilities. With the tendency of what they do, we have as much concern as with the naked deed itself. Gladly we acquit motive when we can : but motive may be detected through the transparence of tendency. Capacity for good is capacity for evil. Vigilant and searching ought to be all our investigations. It is an honest thing to diffide. The withholdment of our confidence is neither ungenerous nor unjust. And are not consequences of incomparably greater value to us than forms of present politeness and courtesy? We allow no occasion, in the sharpest severity, for rudeness. We hate invective and scurrility. Our “purpose is necessary, and not envious.”*. But whenever we mark a tendency, we must forecast a result. We cannot find resting-place between. The pause is nothing, seen or unseen, a result is begun. Posse and Esse are to us but one. And when any great bodies, political or ecclesiastical, have acquired the law to educate the people,-enforced by the sanctions, and subsidised by the resources, of the State, —what can alter the tendency, what can arrest the result? Must not both agree in the kind and limit of that education ? Will any body seek an education which may hazard it? Whatever are its principles, will it-not do all to wind them into the public mind? Can it be otherwise in disposition or in effect ? Change human nature, regenerate it by religion, and our fears are only decreased. Infirmity of judgment, partiality of feeling, will cleave to it still. But in its present too common order of things, such å power, simple or composite, is a frightful thing. It is so minute in its penetration, it is so bold in its assumption, as only to be compared to some fabled Polypus of the Deep, with its vast and innumerable antennæ, drawing insatiably
into itself alike the drifted sea-weed and the stateliest ship. Consequences do not unfold themselves at once. It is folly to wait for them. Tendencies are consequences. Crush the egg. Uproot the seed. Utter bold denouncement against the principle. Else shall we be miserably deceived. Men are plausible. Concessions are liberal. None begin tyrants. Exclusiveness is rather shamefaced at the first. But the tyrant grows. Exclusiveness soon becomes the saintly virtue. Agent and plan, may not, indeed, always meditate their own conclusion. They are formed and fashioned by their course. We must, therefore, resolutely stand upon this preparatory ground: Whither do the principles incline, and the circumstances tend ?
Let the State leave the good work of Education alone. Let it not tamper with it. It is rapidly extending. Fuel has, ere now, stifled the fire,-support has riven the arch,—and buttress has thrown down the wall. All popular opinion and information, which is wholesome and enduring, is self-generative. Interference is no longer honourable. It is to claim the glory of an independent Work. When Douglas beheld his rival, Randolph, and a little band, overwhelmed with numbers, he rushed to his aid. But seeing that he had already extricated himself, and beaten back the foe, the generous warrior bade his men to hold and halt. He cried, -—“They have delivered themselves: let us not lessen their victory by affecting to share it.” Interference is now as ungracious as it is unnecessary. Government meddling comes too late either for help or for renown.
There is a freedom, an efficiency, in voluntary education which that of government cannot show. There is in the former an action, a play, of mind, In the other there may be compactness and uniformity, but it is unintelligent and unliving. The compulsory aid is foreign, and stifles rather than sustains. Nature only works from within. Alexander may desire to serve Diogenes, but he can only do so by standing out of his light.
We are commonly pressed with the argument, that a government is always far above the people in purpose and information. If this statement can be established, there might be much plausibility in the assumption of the educational function by the State. It is the fault of the people if it do not lend all its intelligence and virtue to its executive. But when other kinds of rule prevail, the statement is not so demonstrable. They who are the quiet of the land will feel it a very dubious policy to disturb an order of things which generally works for the benefit of the subject. In the mean time, they may see much that they regret. An undercurrent of knowledge and religion may flow on far purer than that which is more prominent and extolled. If the people be always inferior, how is it that their suffrage is so commonly sought and their censure so commonly dreaded ? The image of Pasquin in later Rome, frequently bore the epigram and lampoon which made its Conclave and Inquisition to turn pale. In truth, governments mistake as the community never can. They are more precipitate, and therefore cannot check haste. They are more timid, and therefore cannot chide fear. They are more isolated, and therefore cannot resist prejudice. They are more privileged, and therefore cannot understand opinion. But we ask,little afraid of contradiction, - Where is there such strange delusion, touching the state of the people, as. in cabinets and senates? Where are such egregious blunders spoken, in regard to the religion of different denominations, as in parliament? Does our government lead? Is it not, almost invariably, the last to perceive any political question, the last to allow any moral appeal ? Did it, of itself, as going before the times, --strike the fetters from conscience, reform the representation, abolish slavery, and revise the criminal code? Does it precede the national mind in repealing the taxes upon knowledge? We scarcely blame this tardiness of governments : we can account for it: perhaps it is inevitable. They were never, in the nature of things, intended to be pioneers. But we do reprehend their fawning parasites. It is better for governments to follow a people, than for a people to follow governments. Their leadership we deprecate and disown.