Page:Federalist, Dawson edition, 1863.djvu/495

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351
The Fœderalist.

the People would carry an implication of some defect in the Government, frequent appeals would, in a great measure, deprive the Government of that veneration which time bestows on everything, and without which perhaps the wisest and freest Governments would not possess the requisite stability. If it be true that all Governments rest on opinion, it is no less true, that the strength of opinion in each individual, and its practical influence on his conduct, depend much on the number which he supposes to have entertained the same opinion. The reason of man, like man himself, is timid and cautious when left alone; and acquires firmness and confidence, in proportion to the number with which it is associated. When the examples which fortify opinion are ancient, as well as numerous, they are known to have a double effect. In a Nation of philosophers, this consideration ought to be disregarded. A reverence for the laws would be sufficiently inculcated by the voice of an enlightened reason. But a Nation of philosophers is as little to be expected as the philosophical race of kings wished for by Plato. And in every other Nation, the most rational Government will not find it a superfluous advantage to have the prejudices of the community on its side.

The danger of disturbing the public tranquillity by interesting too strongly the public passions, is a still more serious objection against a frequent reference of constitutional questions to the decision of the whole society. Notwithstanding the success which has attended the revisions of our established forms of Government, and which does so much honor to the virtue and intelligence of the People of America, it must be confessed, that the experiments are of too ticklish a nature to be unnecessarily multiplied. We are to recollect, that all the existing Constitutions were formed in the midst of a danger which repressed the passions most unfriendly