Front Page Titles (by Subject) II.: On ARISTOCRACY. - A Treatise Concerning Civil Government in Three Parts
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II.: On ARISTOCRACY. - Josiah Tucker, A Treatise Concerning Civil Government in Three Parts 
A Treatise Concerning Civil Government in Three Parts (London: T. Cadell, 1781).
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Nor is an hereditary Aristocracy much more preferable than an absolute Monarchy. For it is subject to several of the same Inconveniences, without that Glare of Glory, which surrounds a Throne, and which, by amusing the Bulk of Mankind, captivates their Imaginations, and attaches them strongly to that Form of Government. However, it must be allowed, that there are Advantages attending an Aristocracy, provided it be a numerous one, which serve to mitigate some of its greatest Evils, and to provide an Antidote against others. For its very Numbers, which occasion so much Faction and Contention, serve as a preventive Remedy against their conniving at each other’s Tyranny and Oppression: So that out of mere Spite to each other, they become a mutual Check on the Conduct of Individuals. Likewise they often enflame each other with an Emulation of doing Good: Hence therefore it is, that in Matters of mere civil Concern, where the Disputes are only between Man and Man in private Life, there we find, that Justice is administered under an Aristocratical Government impartially enough, and that Life, Liberty, and Property, are as well secured under that Form, as under any other. Indeed it must be confessed, that wherever the Aristocratical Power is supposed to interfere with some particular Branch of the People’s Rights, there the whole Body of the Nobles will immediately oppose the Demands or Expectations of the Commons, and act as one Man in keeping them still in Subjection. [Moreover, wherever the Lords have such a personal Jurisdiction over their Vassals, as is distinct and separate from the general Jurisdiction of the State (which is still the unhappy Case in Poland) there Despotism and Tyranny prevail to a shocking Degree, without the Hopes of any Thing to counter-balance, mitigate, or correct them. And I will add, that there cannot be a worse Constitution upon Earth than an Aristocracy of Barons tyrannising over their Vassals;—or, what comes to nearly the same Thing, of Planters amusing themselves with the infernal Pleasure of whipping and slashing their Slaves.]
Therefore, were it to be asked in general, what Degree of Power, Wisdom, and Goodness, naturally belong to an Aristocratic Government,—I think it would not be difficult to give an Answer clear and satisfactory enough.
For as to Power, it is externally very weak, even on the defensive Side, where it ought to have been the strongest, being hardly able to protect itself against Invaders. This Weakness is owing to its numerous Factions and Divisions caballing against, and thwarting each other:—The secret Springs of which are more frequently to be ascribed to foreign Gold successfully applied to the pretended patriotic Leaders of each Party, than to any other Cause. But internally all those Factions and Divisions cease; inasmuch as the poor Subjects are destitute of the Means of making the like Application. Moreover, as they have no Persons particularly appointed to represent them in this Form of Government, they have none to stand forth as their Guardians and Protectors, being left in a Manner without Defence. Here therefore an Aristocracy is the strongest: Because the Nobles will of Course unite against the Plebeians, in maintaining, and perhaps extending, the Dignity and Power of of their own Order.
As to the Wisdom, which may be supposed to be contained in this Institution, it has certainly some Advantages over a Government merely monarchical, or merely popular. For all the Members, of which it is composed, are by then Education, their Rank in Life, and other Circumstances, better qualified than most others, to enact Laws with Judgment, with Prudence, and a Knowledge of the Subject. The Independence of their Station, and Distance from mercantile Connections, prevent them from making Laws respecting Trade and Commerce with a View to some present dirty monopolizing Job: And being Sovereigns themselves, they are not compellable to submit to the arbitrary Will of an ignorant or absurd Tyrant, nor yet to obey the imperious Dictates of a foolish, headstrong, conceited Populace,* who are almost universally bent on gratifying some present destructive Whim, at the Expence of their future Happiness. Moreover as to the executive Part of an Aristocratical State, that, as I observed before, is tolerably free from very gross Abuses;—because it is under little Temptation to act amiss, except in those unfortunate Cases, where the peculiar Interests, Honour, or Dignity of the Patrician Order happen to interfere with the general Welfare of the People.—There indeed, it is much to be feared, that the Quasi-Contract, on the Part of the Nobles, would be made a Sacrifice to their Lust of Power, their Pride, and Ambition.
Having said thus much as to the Power and Wisdom of an Aristocracy, the Reader will of his own Accord suggest to himself every Idea that is necessary, concerning the Goodness or Benevolence of such an Institution.
[* ]During an attentive Observation, and the Experience of 50 Years, sorry I am to say, but Truth obliges me to do it, that I hardly ever knew an unpopular Measure to be in itself a bad one, or a popular one to be truly salutary. Internally the People violently opposed the best of all Schemes for a commercial Nation,—That of warehousing Goods on Importation, and paying the Duties by Degrees. They were also as bitterly averse to the making of Turnpike Roads, to the Use of Broadwheel Waggons, to the enclosing and improving of Lands, to the Freedom of Trade in Cities and Towns corporate, to the Introduction of Machines for abridging Labour, and also to the Admission of industrious Foreigners to settle among them. Nay, they very lately were so absurd as to raise loud Clamours against the Execution of the Act for preserving the public Coin, and their own Property from Debasement and Adulteration. Externally, they are perpetually calling out for new Wars (though against their best Customers) on the most frivolous or unjustifiable Pretences. Moreover, if there was any Convention or Treaty to be broken through or disregarded, (the Observance of which would have restored Peace or prevented Bloodshed) or if there was any new Colony to be planted in a desart Country, or Conquest to be undertaken in a populous one, even in the most distant Part of the Globe.—All these Measures, though totally opposite to a Spirit of Industry at Home, and though the Bane of a commercial Nation, were sure to receive the Applauses and Huzzas of the unthinking Multitude. Such was the Vox Populi for 50 Years last past, which some Persons blasphemously stile Vox Dei.