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violence, which to be really valuable and permanent must be accomplished by reason; and to sacrifice to the projected freedom of the whole, too much of the real liberty of the individuals or classes which make up that whole. Something of this in Fletcher often mixes a little pain and blame with our admiration of one, who was so immeasurably superior to the unprincipled sycophants and hypocrites to whom he was opposed, and who are fixed as the eternal shades of his picture, in the history of Scotland.
He was a great schemer: project after project rises upon us all through the volume. There is first a magnificent plan for superseding standing armies by universal training; then for relieving the dreadful distresses, which, at that time, prevailed in Scotland, by reviving domestic slavery, though in a very modified and mitigated form: next, a system of agricultural improvement; after that, his provision for the security of Scottish independence by annual parliaments, &c.; and finally, Utopia on a larger scale, for the benefit of all Europe at least. The practical politician will laugh at all this, and deserve to be laughed at himself when he has done. Let him stick to his last, and cobble up matters as he can with his temporary expedients: no statesman was ever good for much who had not some propensity for theories; and he is most properly said to be guided by experience, who is familiar with history, which is the recorded experience of all nations and ages; and who thence derives wisdom and courage to employ extraordinary means for the accomplishment of extraordinary and benevolent purposes, either of reformation or improvement, of remedy for existing evil, or provision for future good.
The" Discourse of Government with relation to Militias" deserves an earnest recommendation to that timid race of men, who, in their apprehensions of danger to their persons or properties, from internal commotion or external assault, overlook the manifold mischiefs of a complete, or something approximating to a complete, separation of the characters of soldier and citizen. Fletcher has luminously shewn how essential their union is to the freedom of a state; how effective it is for defence; nay, how consistent it may be made with the grandest schemes of conquest. He has accurately marked the great change which took place in the governments of Europe, about the end of the fifteenth century, from limited to arbitrary monarchy; traced the circumstances which obstructed its progress in England and Scotland, and connected it with the transfer of the power of the sword from the aristocracy to the sovereign. So long as the feudal system remained, and royal armies were made up of the retainers of inferior chieftains, holding lands by the tenure of military service, the king and the barons were
mutually dependent, and essential to each other's security and consequence. The impoverishment of the nobility, the emancipation of vassals, the extension of commerce, and consequently increasing importance of the inferior orders in states, destroyed this equipoise. Lands were alienated, and military service ceased. Soldiers were hired, and war became a trade; and the sovereign who had once obtained money to purchase such instruments soon felt their power, to enable him to obtain more. Standing armies and despotism thus came in together. The manly remonstrances of the barons prevented this result in Scotland; and in England the Commons had previously possessed themselves of the purse-strings of the nation. We think Fletcher has greatly underrated the worth of this check on the encroachments of prerogative. The sole right of the Commons to levy taxes, sometimes so clearly recognized by the monarch, and at others so vainly and even fatally contested, has in fact preserved the power of the sword, in this country, to the subject. And if the Commons possess it not so completely as the barons, still we must remember that they hold it on behalf of the whole community, with which they are identified in interest, while the barons only limited the sovereign for their own advantage, and thought their own paternal care an ample provision for their vassals. Should the Commons cease to be what their name implies, the representatives of the people, all check on their behalf, of course, ceases too, and England loses her proud exemption from the general lot. But although the evil of a regular soldiery be thus materially diminished, there can be little doubt that Fletcher's plan is far more favourable to freedom. Generally, at least, the regular soldier is but ill qualified to act the part of a good citizen. His habits of implicit obedience and absolute command are fatal to those feelings which should be strongest in the bosoms of the subjects of a free state. A soldier for life, and one who only is called to bear arms on emergency, and for a limited period, and who then returns to mingle in the mass of citizens, are very different beings; and the military skill of the one is as friendly, as that of the other is hostile, to the liberties of a nation. In fact, necessity has always been pleaded for standing armies. Fletcher demonstrates the delusiveness of the plea by various cases, in which even a hastily raised and ill-formed militia, animated by that sense of right and justice, without which whoever bears arms is only a hired murderer, have beaten veteran troops and able officers. He also appeals to the history of the nations most celebrated for retaining their liberty:
"The militia of ancient Rome, the best that ever was in any government, made her mistress of the world: but standing armies
enslaved that great people, and their excellent militia and freedom perished together. The Lacedemonians continued eight hundred years free, and in great honour, because they had a good militia. The Swisses are at this day the freest, happiest, and the people of all Europe who can best defend themselves, because they have the best militia."
We have intimated, that one of Fletcher's schemes was the revival of domestic slavery, and it would be very unjust to leave this without a little explanation. We think he was decidedly wrong, but not so wrong as the bare mention of the plan may lead the reader to suppose. It is contained in his "Second Discourse on the affairs of Scotland," published in 1698, when three years of scarcity, almost amounting to famine, had produced the most frightful distress. There were, "besides a great many poor families very meanly provided for by the church-boxes, with others who by living upon bad food fell into various diseases, two hundred thousand people begging from door to door." The country was in a state of the greatest misery and consequent demoralization. "Now what I would propose," says our author, " upon the whole matter is, that for some present remedy of so great a mischief, every man of a certain estate in this nation should be obliged to take a proportionable number of those vagabonds, and either employ them in hedging and ditching his grounds, or any other sort of work in town and country; or, if they happen to be children and young, that he should educate them in the knowledge of some mechanical art, that so every man of estate might have a little manufacture at home, which might maintain those servants, and bring great profit to the master, as they did to the ancients, whose revenue, by the manufactures of such servants, was much more considerable than that of their lands." Abuses he thought would be sufficiently guarded against by the following regulations:
"First, then, their masters should not have power over their lives, but the life of the master should go for the life of the servant. The master should have no power to mutilate or torture him; that in such cases the servant should not only have his freedom, (which alone would make him burdensome to the public) but a sufficient yearly pension, so long as he should live, from his said master. That he, his wife and children, should be provided for in clothes, diet, and lodging. That they should be taught the principles of morality and religion; to read, and be allowed the use of certain books: that they should not work upon Sundays, and be allowed to go to church: that in every thing, except their duty as servants, they should not be under the will of their masters, but the protection of the law: that when these servants grow old, and are no more useful to their masters, (lest upon that account they should be ill used) hospitals should be pro
vided for them by the public: that if, for their good and faithful service, any master give them their freedom, he should be obliged to give them likewise wherewithal to subsist, or put them in a way of living without being troublesome to the commonwealth: that they should wear no habit or mark to distinguish them from hired servants: that any man should be punished who gives them the opprobrious name of slave. So, except it were that they could possess nothing, and might be sold, which really would be but an alienation of their service without their consent, they would live in a much more comfortable condition (wanting nothing necessary for life) than those who having a power to possess all things, are very often in want of every thing, to such a degree that many thousands of them come to starve for hunger."
Now all this really is much more humane than the schemes which have recently sprung out of the Malthusian philosophy, for turning the poor absolutely adrift, and telling them that they may go hang or starve, for the poor rates have reached a maximum. And there must be thousands in the united kingdom for whom such a provision, slavery though it be, would, as to the supply of all animal wants, be incalculably more comfortable than any thing they can do for themselves. Still it is slavery. Fletcher shall reply:
"But they must pardon me if I tell them, that I regard not names, but things; and that the misapplication of names has confounded every thing. We are told, there is not a slave in France; that when a slave sets his foot upon French ground, he becomes immediately free and I say, that there is not a freeman in France, because the king takes away any part of any man's property at his pleasure; and that let him do what he will to any man there is no remedy. The Turks tell us, there are no slaves among them, except Jews, Moors, or Christians; and who is there that knows not they are all slaves to the grand seignior, and have no remedy against his will? A slave properly is one, who is absolutely subjected to the will of another man without any remedy; and not one that is only subjected under certain limitations, and upon certain accounts necessary for the good of the commonwealth, though such an one may go under that name. And the confounding these two conditions of men by a name common to both has in my opinion been none of the least hardships put upon those who ought to be named servants. We are all subjected to the laws; and the easier or harder conditions imposed by them upon the several ranks of men in any society, make not the distinction that is between a freeman and a slave."
This distinction is good as far as it goes, but for its completion it is certainly necessary to inquire, Who makes the laws? for, unless they are "the state's collective will," submission to them is but slavery after all; though it is a species of slavery which many think very right and reasonable, who
would start with horror from that which Fletcher proposed to establish. Such are they who maintain, that" the people have nothing to do with the laws, but to obey them."
The evils of his scheme, as relating to the condition of its objects, are, that it would be continually deteriorating into a system of intolerable oppression; the masters would make and execute the laws, with no other check on the dictates of cupidity and cruelty than the fear of an insurrection, which, as they would scarcely trust arms in other hands than their own, would not be very powerful; and also, that the great spur to industry, the prospect of bettering their condition, would be wanting; for a slave would scarcely think of obtaining freedom by exertions which would make him more valuable as a slave. The fact, that the poorest man may rise to opulence, with the conspicuous examples which occasionally happen of such elevation, has made thousands industrious, comfortable, and useful members of society, who yet have never emerged from the station in which they were born.
But religion has well taught us, that "man shall not live by bread alone." The consciousness of freedom is a source of dignity and enjoyment, for which no improvement in the quality of food or clothing is a compensation. Had not Fletcher been blinded for a moment by his reveries, he would have admired, instead of reprobating, that hatred of the very name of slave, from which he anticipated the chief obstacle to the execution of his plan.
"But these things, when once resolved, must be executed with great address, diligence, and severity; for that sort of people is so desperately wicked, such enemies of all work and labour, and, which is yet more amazing, so proud, in esteeming their own condition above that which they will be sure to call slavery, that, unless prevented by the utmost industry and diligence, upon the first publication of any orders necessary for putting in execution such a design, they will rather die with hunger in caves and dens, and murder their young children, than appear abroad to have them and themselves taken into such a kind of service.".
And had they been but "vagabond" Greeks or Romans, instead of Scots, he would have applauded them " to the very echo" for such a determination. Or had his own scheme but been an English measure, how would he have thundered. Such is human nature. How differently he felt and reasoned as to the Union. Had he been convinced, that all the commercial advantages which the warmest supporters of that measure anticipated would infallibly have been realized, how little would his antipathy have abated. He well knew, that national independence and personal liberty were not mere words; but well