CONSTITUTION OF FLORENCE, 09 aristocracy is a breakwater against despotism, even if there is no middle class as yet in existence to join them. If they are alone, they cannot generally make head against a tyran- nical government; but if there is a people, this may be within the power of the two classes united. In a limited or mixed monarchy a nobility has been thought to be a kind of media- ting power between the throne and the common mass of peo- ple. There is some truth in this, where the upper class keeps its independence and is sure of its position against democratic violence. The barons of England were not content with wresting from King John privileges for themselves, but in- cluded all free Englishmen ; and the barons in the times of Henry III. called the representatives of shires with those of towns, to parliament. There has always been a party in the nobility against rotten boroughs, and in favor of extending suffrage. But in other countries it took a great while to approach the position where a large number of the English nobility stood even in the fourteenth century. An aristocracy in a republic as it is called, that is, where there is nothing higher than they are, has almost always been a harsh and haughty, or a divided order. Nowhere has aris- tocracy, whether titled or untitled, coalesced with a .strong democracy, but the txvo orders have quarrelled, ami the aris- tocracy has been divided within itself, one part holding with the people. The result was, as we saw in Rome, in the Greek and the Italian aristocracies, a tyranny or a democracy pre- dominant. If the pride of a governing order would permit them to bring within the circle of their privileges all among the commons who distinguished themselves by great achieve- ments, wealth or talents, they might keep their place, al- though tjiey might have to modify their spirit, But a gov- ernment of an aristocracy is so incapable of union, so unequal to^suit itself to the effects of changes in property which time brings with it, so narrow often in the views which circulate among its members, that it seems, for more reasons than one, as we have had occasion to say before, to be the weakest and most uncertain of all governments.