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No government can be truly good which is not administered agreeably to an established constitution and laws. And it inatters liule as to the result, whether it be an individual tyrant, or a tyrannical few, or a tyrannical majority, that tramples on the constitution and governs without law; in either case it is a despotic and not a free or rightful government. When they rise above law and the constitution, the votes of the majority are as tyrannical as the ordinances of the oligarchy, or the edicts of the autocrat. And as the court-atterer in the one case, so the popular demayogue in the other, is usually the real despot, carrying everything in his own way, and making sport and havoc of the true interests of the people. It not un frequently happens, that the constitution is one thing de jure, and quite another thing de facto. Manners prevail over the laws, and the law remains a dead letter; while they who have effected the change become masters of the commonwealth.
Political institutions are best fitted for promoting human happiness, when they are best adapted to the character and sentiments of the people, and to the circumstances of the age and country. No one political system will suit all countries. Government being an arrangement, the best govo ernment is the best arrangement; and the best arrangement is that which the materials to be arranged are best fitted to receive and to preserve. The materials of the statesman are the number and character of the people, and the extent and quality of the country. Pure democracy is suited only to a linnited territory and a uniform population. An agricultural people are most likely to possess this social equality, wbile their babits and pursuits produce also the sound and healthy state of body, mind, and heart, which is essential to the main. tenance of a deinocracy. Aristocracy is suited only to a people where there is a great natural and social inequality between une class and all the others. On the same principle, pure monarchy theoretically requires that one man-if beredo itary, one family-possess a like superiority over all others; though the habit of loyalty and veneration may perpetuate such a distinction in feeling long after it has ceased to exist in fact.
But no government can make a people happy, that are not in a good degree virtuous. No relation of superiority to other nations can make a people happy, that have not the eleinents of happiness in themselves. Wealth, power, prosperity, is not happiness any more than a lyre is music. The happiness of a nation rests on the same basis as the happiness of an individual, viz. virtue-intellectual and moral excellence. Men make governments, not governments men; and by no political arrangements can a happy commonwealth be formed of tyrants or slaves, profligates or cowards, knaves or fools. The virtues of a good citizen and a goud man are not identical, neither are they independent of each other. He will hardly be a good citizen, especially in a republic, who is not also a good man. He can hardly be expected to treat bis country better than he does his neighbors and himself.
That government is the best which most powerfully stimulates the energies of the people to beneficial purposes, and restrains thein from hurtful pursuits. That, in most cases, must be a system of freedom, tempered with order and moderation. Mixed governments, wisely formed and halanced, best correspond to the state of mankind. Democracy, though apparently most agreeable to the rights of men, and perhaps preferable to either of the other simple forins of government, , is not adapted to his waats. It requires more virtue than the mass of mankind can be expected to possess. Besides it is too apt to run into excess. It is at once too precipitate in deliberation and too, tardy in execution., Simple monarehy. and simple aristocracy are equally inexpedient; and being the subjection of the many to the few, are even less just. For these reasons Aristotle recommends a constitution that combines and balances the three forms, as most likely in general to promote the good of society. Such a mixed government would not properly bear the name either of a monarchy; an aristocracy, or a democracy. Aristotle calls it by way of eminence a rolizeia, or a republic. The strength of such a
government lies in the middle classes of citizens-those who are neither very poor nor very rich; and it cannot well be maintained, unless this middle class exceed in number and power either, if not both, of the extremes. The policy of a republic, therefore, is not to cater to the very rich nor the very poor, but to legislate with a chies regard to the middling classes. And, indeed, since this is the best form of government, the wise legislator, keeping it in view as his beau ideal, will always and every where strengthen the middling classes just so far as the peculiar circumstances of his people will allow.
Aristotle makes three departments of the government, corresponding in nature, though not exactly in name, with our Legislative, Judiciary, and Executive ; and he lays down distinctly the doctrine, well enough understood now, though little known in bis day and 100 little practised in ours, that these departments should be kept distinct. The concentration of them all in the same hands, whether it be of one, of the few, or the many, is fatal to liberty and justice.
Laying, as he does, the foundation of political freedom and bappiness in individual intelligence and virtue, Aristotle must of course attach great importance to popular education. His last book is devoted to this subject, which be discusses at length and with great ability. Education, he says, must be universal, uniform, public (under the control of law), and adapted to the genius and institutions of the people. The people must be early taught, not only to understand the political institutions under which they live, but to cherish the corresponding habits and the need ful virtues. The youth of a democracy, for example, should be taught, not, as many suppose, to regard their own will as law, but to honor their superiors, obey their parents, and reverence the laws of the land; for they only are fit to command, who have learned to obey. On the same principle, the noble youth in a monarchy or aristocracy should be disciplined to moderation toward their inferiors.
Aristotle would not allow of marriage till the age of thirtyseven for males and eighteen for females ! Children should be subjected to nu tasks till they are five years of age, and should be educated at home ill the
age of seven. Physical education should precede mental ; and moral discipline should go before that which is purely intellectual. Laborious exertion of the body and the mind ought not to be exacted at the same age, since both task and exhaust the same vital energies. In short, the fundamental principles of this treatise are strikingly coincident with those of the Combes and the Brighams, the Taylors and the Humphreys of our day. It goes for slow development, and home education, and division of labor. It goes against infant schools, (my readers will pardon the apparent anchronism,) and manual labor schools, and boarding schools for babies. And after all the experiments that have been crowded into the last quarter of a century, the judicious part of the American public are coming back to the principles of the Stagirite in education; as we have before seen, they are coming back to the Aristotelian systems of rhetoric and logic.
There are other points in this little treatise on education to wbich we intended to advert, such as the cultivation of music to refine the sentiments, and drawing to form an eye for natural beauty, etc. But we have already extended this notice of his politics far beyond our prescribed limits. The fact is, it is not an easy matter to condense solid gold. In his Politics, the practical good sense of the author shines out with unclouded lustre. How unlike the dreams of Plato! How superior to all the speculations and all the actual experiments of antiquity! How anticipative of the results of modern experience! It is a noble and lasting monument of political sagacity. It could have been reared only by one, who united study with observation. Aristotle proceeds throughout on the principle, that men are depraved and selfish, and so steers clear of all Ulopian projects. He carries this principle too far, however, especially in regard to the masses, whom he is too much inclined to give over to bopeless degradation. At the same time he freely concedes the superior honesty (in intention) of the many, and their superior intelli
gence too, other things being equal. Two eyes, he says, are better than one, and many are better than lwo.
Aristotle's Politics is radically defective in one particular, which we have already mentioned as a serious defect in the Ethics. It has nothing to do with religion-nothing to say of a God. This is a common fault in political treatises ; but it is a fatal one. Socrates would as soon bave recommended a state without a magistrate, as without a God. He would as soon have thought of governing a people well without law, as without religion. And so would any other wise legislator. It is not perhaps to be wondered at, that overlooking this controlling principle, he should despair of the elevation of the masses.
Aristotle could have formed no conception of a republic so vast as ours is. In his view, such a state would have appeared as unwieldy as the ship of two furlongs, which be speaks of in his Politics, and as monstrous as the animal ten thousand stadia long, wbich he imagines in bis Poetic. The principle of representation was not then understood, which gives an indefinite expansibility to republican governinent. Still there are lints in Aristotle about the dangers of too extensive a territory, and too rapid an influx of foreigo population, which are full of truth and signification to us. His Book on the causes of dissolution and means of preservation to governments, (the 5th Book, wbich we have been: obliged to pass over entirely,) is full of instructive facts drawn from the history of a multitude of ancient states. And then grand principles of the science of government, as he has laid them down, will never become obsolete. The experience of ages has served only to establish them. To this day; we know of no political manual which can claim to supersede Aristotle's Politics, on the ground either of a comprehensive induction of facts or a profound in vestigation of principles And it is greatly to be regretted, that it has fallen so extensively into disuse among our statesmen and scholars:
Had we space, we would speak of the Natural History of Aristotle, which is a vast collection of physiological andi.