"The question now is," continued Alfred, "as two of the parties, France
and England, have proved so short-sighted, whether the Americans, having
thrown off their allegiance, have not been equally so in their choice of
a democratical government?"
"How far a modern democracy may succeed, I am not prepared to say,"
replied Mr. Campbell; "but this I do know, that in ancient times, their
duration was generally very short, and continually changing to oligarchy
and tyranny. One thing is certain, that there is no form of government
under which the people become so rapidly vicious, or where those who
benefit them are treated with such ingratitude."
"How do you account for that, sir?" said Alfred.
"There are two principal causes. One is, that where all men are declared
to be equal (which man never will permit his fellow to be if he can
prevent it), the only source of distinction is wealth, and thus the
desire of wealth becomes the ruling passion of the whole body, and there
is no passion so demoralizing. The other is, that where the people, or,
more properly speaking, the mob govern, they must be conciliated by
flattery and servility on the part of those who would become their
idols. Now flattery is lying, and a habit equally demoralizing to the
party who gives and to the party who receives it. Depend upon it, there
is no government so contemptible or so unpleasant for an honest man to
live under as a democracy."
"It is my opinion, sir, and I believe a very general one," said Alfred.
"How far the Americans may disprove such an opinion," continued Mr.
Campbell, "remains to be seen; but this is certain, they have commenced
their new form of government with an act of such gross injustice, as to
warrant the assumption that all their boasted virtues are pretense. I
refer to their not liberating their slaves. They have given the lie to
their own assertions in their Declaration of Independence, in which they
have declared all men equal and born free, and we can not expect the
Divine blessing upon those who, when they emancipated themselves, were
so unjust as to hold their fellow-creatures in bondage. The time will
come, I have no doubt, although perhaps not any of us here present may
see the day, when the retribution will fall upon their heads, or rather
upon the heads of their offspring; for the sins of the fathers are
visited upon the children, even to the third and fourth generation.