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probably fits eafy on thofe who are accuftomed to it. Were it not fo, Providence would be unkind, as the far greater part of men are dependent.
During the infancy of a fociety, punishments must be mild; because government has no fufficient authority over the minds of men to enforce what are severe. But government in time acquires authority; and when its authority is firmly rooted in the minds of the people, punishments more rigorous can be made effectual; and fuch punishments are neceffary among a people not yet well disciplined. When men at laft become regular and orderly under a steady administration, punishments become less and lefs neceffary, and the mildeft are fufficient (a). The Chinese government is extremely mild, and its punishments are in the fame tone. A capital punishment is never inflicted, till the fentence be examined by a fovereign court, and approved by the Emperor. Thus government, after paffing through all the intermediate degrees from extreme mildness
to extreme severity, returns at laft to its original temper of mildness and humanity *.
* An ingenious writer obferves, that as our American settlements are now fo profperous, banishment to these settlements is scarce a punishment. He therefore propofes, that criminals be transported to Hudson's bay, or to some other uncultivated country. My doubt is, that in proportion as manners improve, the severity of punishment ought to be mitigated. Perhaps, the transportation to any of our American colonies, though lefs dreadful than formerly, may however be now a fufficient punishment for theft, or other crime of no deeper dye.
Different Forms of Government compared.
F all governments, democracy is the most turbulent: defpotifm, which benumbs the mental faculties, and relaxes every spring of action, is in the oppofite extreme. Mixed governments, whether monarchical or republican, ftand in the middle they promote activity, but feldom any dangerous excess.
Pure democracy, like that of Athens, Argos, and Carthage, is the very worst form of government, if we make not defpotifm an exception. The people, in whom refides the fovereign power, are infolent in profperity, timid in adverfity, cruel in anger, blind and prodigal in affection, and incapable of embracing fteadily a prudent measure. Thucydides relates (a), that Agis with a gallant army of Spartans furrounded the army of Argos; and, tho' fecure of victory, fuffered them
(a) Lib. 5.
to retreat, upon folemn affurances from Thrafyllus, the Argian general, of terminating all differences in an amicable treaty. Agis, perhaps juftly, was bitterly cenfured for fuffering victory to flip out of his hands but the Argians, dreaming of victory when the danger was over, brought their general to trial, confifcated his effects, and would have ftoned him to death, had he not taken refuge in a temple. Two Athenian generals, after one naval victory, being intent on a second, deputed Theramenes to perform the laft duty to the dead. A violent ftorm prevented Theramenes from executing the trust reposed in him; but it did not prevent the people of Athens from putting their two generals to death, as if they had neglected their duty. The fate of Socrates is a fad inftance of the changeable, as well as violent, difpofition of a democratical ftate. He was condemned to death, for attempting innovations in the established religion the sentence was grofsly unjust : he attempted no innovation; but only, among his friends, expreffed purer notions of the Deity than were common in Greece at that time. But his funeral obfequies
were scarce over, when bitter remorfe feized the people. His accufers were put to death without trial, every perfon banished who had contributed to the fentence pronounced against him, and his ftatue was erected in the most public part of the city. The great Scipio, in his camp near Utica, was furrounded with three Carthaginian armies, which waited only for day-light to fall upon him. He prevented the impending blow, by furprising them in the dead of night; which gave him a complete victory. This misfortune, for it could fcarce be called bad conduct, provoked the democracy of Carthage, to pronounce fentence of death against Afdrubal their general. Great trading towns cannot flourish, if they be not faithful to their engagements, and honeft in their dealings : whence then the fides Punica? A democracy is in its nature rafh, violent, and fluctuating; and the Carthaginians merited the reproach, not as individuals, but as a democratical state.
A commonwealth governed by chofen citizens, is very different from a democracy, where the mob rules. The folid foundation of fuch a commonwealth, is equality