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which time has produced in the condition and manners of the different orders of the community..
On these grounds, therefore, I am strongly inclined to agree with Mr. Hume, that " instead of asserting absolutely that the dependence of Parliament, in every degree, is an infringement of British liberty, the country party should have made some concessions to their adversaries, and have only examined what was the proper degree of this dependence, beyond which it became dangerous to liberty."* If this moderate language had been less suited to the purposes of a political party, it would at least have had a fairer chance of being substantially useful to the public.
The further prosecution, however, of this argument would be altogether foreign to my present purpose, as it is not on any speculative or dubious views of the constitution that I would wish to rest its substantial and characteristical merits. I have repeatedly observed, that forms of government are of importance chiefly, as they lead to wise systems of internal policy, or, as I have elsewhere expressed it," the only infallible criterion of the excellence of a constitution is to be found in the detail of its municipal code.”+ Judging by this test, by the actual effect of the government in securing the happiness and promoting the improvement of its subjects, the English Constitution is unquestionably entitled to a preference over all those which have been hitherto realized in the history of mankind. “During the last sixty years,” says Mr. Hume, in an Essay published in 1752, and the remark may be now repeated, with all the additional sanction of our subsequent experience,“ during the last sixty years,” (or rather, we may now say, since the beginning of the last century,) "an uninterrupted harmony has been preserved between our princes and our parliaments. Public liberty, with internal peace and order, has flourished almost without interruption,-trade and manufactures and agriculture have increased, -the arts and sciences and philosophy have been cultivated,
* (Essays, Vol. 1.- Essay, Of the Independence of Parliament.)
+ [Account of the Life and Writinos
of Adam Smith, 1793, sect. iv.; infra, Vol. X. p. 55.]
even religious parties have been necessitated to lay aside their mutual rancour, and the glory of the nation has spread itself all over Europe. . . . So long and so glorious a period no nation can boast of; nor is there another instance in the whole history of mankind, that so many millions of people have, during such a space of time, been held together in a manner so free, so rational, and so suitable to the dignity of human nature."1
I have now finished the plan which I proposed to myself at the opening of this Course of Lectures, and in the last part of it have introduced some discussions concerning various questions of Political Economy,* which I have generally reserved for a more advanced class of students. I could have wished, before taking my leave, to indulge myself in a short retrospect of the principal subjects to which I have endeavoured to draw your attention ; but this it is impossible for me now to attempt, without trespassing more than would be proper on your time and patience. The field we have surveyed together is indeed an ample one, and comprehends the most interesting questions which can possibly employ the human faculties. If my ability to do justice to these questions had corresponded in any degree to my wishes, or to the idea with which I have been uniformly impressed of the peculiar importance of that station which I hold in this University, I should now close the labours of this session, not only with the agreeable recollection of the hours which I have spent in reviewing once more the fundamental principles of a favourite study; but with the satisfaction of having discharged a duty of as extensive an utility as most individuals in the private situations of life can be called on to execute.
And now, gentlemen, when the connexion is to be dissolved which has for some months past subsisted between us, may I not be permitted to express the hope which I am encouraged to entertain by the attention with which you have honoured me: that, long after the period of your academical education, you will recollect with satisfaction these studies of your youth ; and that by fixing in some measure your principles concerning the nature, the duties, and the prospects of man, they may contribute, under the various vicissitudes of fortune that may yet await you, to fortify your virtuous resolutions, to elevate your views above the pursuits of a vulgar ambition, and to cherish in your minds those habitual sentiments of religion, of humanity, of justice, and of fortitude, which can alone render the talents and accomplishments, (to the cultivation of which so many of your early years have been already devoted,) a source of permanent happiness and honour to yourselves, a blessing to your friends, and a pledge to your country for the perpetuity of that political fabric reared by the hands and cemented with the blood of your ancestors, now, alas / standing alone amid the wreck of surrounding establishments, the last asylum and the only remaining bulwark of the liberties of Europe. 18th April 1808.
1 Essays, Vol. 1.-Essay, Of the Pro- at the end of, but in connexion with his testant Succession.
general Course of Moral Philosophy. * [There are extant two conclusions Of these conclusions, the one here given to the Lectures on Politics Proper; is dated 18th April 1808; the other which Lectures, it will be remembered, marked as for the Session 1803-4, will were always delivered by Mr. Stewart be found in the Appendix, p. 459.]