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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.