In the same sense he makes virtue the principle of a republic. We are liable to be misled by the use of this term, in a sense different from that, in which it is commonly received. As the principle of republican government he has therefore defined it

a love of the laws and of our country.”* It is necessary here to observe, that the term “ republic" in its usual acceptation comprehends several kinds of government very diffi rent in their nature and principles; they may, however, be reduced to two principal kinds, an aristocracy, of which oligarchy is a degenerate species; and a democracy, of which a government by representatives, periodically elected by the people, is an improved form. A form of government unknown to the ancients, and which has not been distinguished by an appropriate name.t An aristocracy differs from a monarchy as an aggregate from a sole corporation. The people are under the same slavery, both civil and political, as under a monarchy; and are indeed farther removed from all prospect of honors. A sole monarch is under a necessity, in administering the government, to communicate honors and authority to some of his subjects; but an aristocracy always confines the distribution of honors and authority to its own members and their families. The principle of virtue, the love of the laws and of the country is, in strictness, no more applicable to this kind of government than to a monarchy. Both the monarch and the members of the aristocracy love their country ; they love their people, in a certain sense; because they are the source of their political consequence, and the machines of their power; but as for a love of the laws, they are, in both governments, made for the people, not for the rulers. In a democracy, where the powers of government are retained in the body of the people, and in the representative form, where the powers are vested in delegates periodically elected by the people, and accountable to them, the laws are made for all, as well for the rulers as the people, and are or ought to be, an expression of the will of the society, being an aggregate of the individual wills. Now if the will of the aggregate, in all cases, coincide with each individual will, the observance of the law

to be 56

* Book IV. Chapter 5.


must be as necessary as the power of willing; but this can, perhaps in no instance be the case. The will of the whole, that is the law, is the result of mutual concessions or a compromise of the individual wills, as determined by the majority. Hence the necessity of our author's principle of virtue, which he has appropriated to republican government, and which I have ventured to call a predominant sentiment of attachment to the community, its institutions and laws, which alone can secure for the laws a general acquiescence, and the ready obedience of the individual members. Under this kind of government, no force can be applied in the execution of the laws but what depends on this principle. It is certainly no more entitled to the appropriate appellation of virtue, than other social passions and sentiments common to man; but it has this pre-eminence over the other principles, mentioned above, that it is, when rightly informed, perfectly in harmony with all the other moral and social virtues, and is best promoted by them.

In the following work the term “principle” and “principles of government,” will sometimes, according to the nature of the subject, be used in the appropriate sense of Montesquieu, but more generally, in the same sense, in which it is used in other sciences, as explained above.




Of the first rude state. Whether this is a state of virtue and happiness in

preference to a state of improvement.

That the savage state is a state of nature to man cannot with truth, be denied. There is not, at this day, a people on earth, who may not trace their origin to a race of savages ; some indeed more and some less remote. The Jews, as the writings of Moses and their subsequent historians abundantly prove, are far from being an exception. The question is not, whether a rude unpolished state be ever a natural state to man ;

but whether, in the original constitution of his nature, he is so formed for happiness in this state, as to exclude any benefit to be derived from progressive improvement. We are at a loss, at what period of the progress of society, to fix the precise state of nature intended. Shall we go back to the rude state of the inhabitants of New Holland, who have learned to draw no part of their subsistence from the earth by cultivation, or the inhabitants of Terra-del-Fuego, whose sole dependence, for food, is said to be in the shell fish found in the sand at the ebb of the tide, neither of whom have any notions of honesty or the rights of property, beyond the circles of their little tribes? make a little farther advance and place it among the savages of North America, when first discovered by Europeans, some of whom continue in the same rude state to this day? They are simple, they are honest, as far as the circle of their several

Shall we

tribes. They obtain their food from the river, or the forest, furnished by the bounty of nature, and the little deficiencies are supplied by a scanty cultivation of the earth. The skins of the chase furnish them with coarse, but comfortable clothes, or are exchanged for the products of European looms. They are contented with their present situation, or rather resigned to it as their inevitable lot. All this was true, and still is true of all the American natives, whose manners have not been affected by intercourse with European settlers, who have occupied a large portion of their country; and yet it gives us hardly a glimpse of their character. The savages of America, like other mén, have their predominant passions. They esteem war and hunting almost the only pursuits worthy of a man. Address in these constitutes their highest point of honor, while every other labor of life is imposed on the women, who are no better than slaves. Hence they derive an excessive ferocity of manners : their resentment is keen, and revenge their most darling gratification. This arises from their state of society, in which every one is left to judge in his own cause, and to avenge his own wrongs. As they never forget a favor, so they never forgive an injury. Among the different tribes, the injuries of an individual are resented as national; the possession of a hunting ground is to them the possession of an empire, and these are the sources of frequent wars waged with the most savage serocity. The butchering and scalping of old men, women, and children, the torturing and burning of prisoners in cold blood with the most shocking circumstances of cruelty are among their pastimes. These are not secret acts of violenceare by none considered as wrong; they are public transactions, performed under what is to them, the law of nations. Nor have they been free from ambition of conquest,-from that lust of power, which when acquired, has generally proved the scourge of the human race. The Mexicans, when first visited by the Spaniards, were in possession of an extensive empire acquired by the conquest of neighboring nations and tribes. In later times, the Iroquois, or five nations, formed a powerful confederacy of conquerors, and became the terror even of distant tribes.-Nor were these singular incidents. We find every where among them, traditions and even monuments of powerful

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