Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 7.djvu/141

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bility. There in one right existing in our Constitution, that of the active citizen, but the function of an elector is not a right.

I repeat, society has the right to determine its conditions. Those who misunderstand the nature as they do the advantages of representative government, remind us of the governments of Athens and Sparta, ignoring the differences that distinguish them from France, such as extent of territory, population, etc. Do they forget that those countries interdicted representative government? Have they forgotten that the Lacedæmonians had the right to vote in the assemblies only when they held helots? And only by sacrifice of individual rights did the Lacedæmonians, Athenians, and Romans possess any democratic governments! I ask those who remind us of them, if it is at such government that they would arrive? I ask those who profess metaphysical ideas, because they have no practical ones, those who envelop the question in clouds of theory, because they ignore entirely the fundamental facts of a positive government—I ask, is it forgotten that the democracy of a portion of a people could exist only by the entire enslavement of the other portion? A representative government has only one evil to fear, that of corruption. That such a government shall be good, there must be guaranteed the purity and incorruptibility of the lectorate. This body needs the union of three eminent guarantees—first, the light of a fair education and broadened views; secondly, an in-