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POLITICAL  CHANGES.                             595
government, sworn to obey the constitution, was the principal
actor. So long as, in any nation, the upper class does not
believe in constitutional government, and the administration
wants larger poxvers, this clanger must be allowed to be con-
siderable. If such a case should actually occur, it would be,
most probably, the beginning of new revolutions, and might
lead in the end to something in itself very desirable—the
diminution of standing armies on the urgent demand of the
National decline and decay.
The decay of nations and of states is a commonplace of
declamation, and has been constructed into a theory rest-
ing on a sort of resemblance between the human body and
the body politic. As the single man slowly develops into
manhood, and then, if not cut off, sinks into decrepitude and
disappears by death, so the nation grows, reaches its acme,
and ceases to be. The analogy would be closer if every man,
as he grew old, became less capable to govern himself, and
so died through the decay of his moral faculties. If a nation
continued to advance in the capacity for self-government—if
it became freer, nobler, and more enlightened, like some men
in extreme old age, what is there to produce national decay ?
The light truth, moral and political wisdom that has been
collected, can be taken up continually by the new-comers into
the world. The forces that aid political stability continue the
same at least, if they do not grow in influence. Education
may be better and more general; religion in the life more
noble, in doctrine more simple and pure ; family life need not
become corrupt; art may reflect the sentiments of pure minds.
If this is possible, why should society or a polity become
worse through mere continuance ?
- It will probably Be conceded that such considerations as
. National decay not these have some force, and will be said that
inevitable.                      i               .                         -       ,                    ./•                   ^»             t_    j.
decay is not a fatal necessity for a nation ; but
that, as ruined empires and ruined city-states in abundance