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followed by a general one *), which would probably be augmented from time to time, if he were suffered to go on promulgating new laws, on pretence of new occasional revelations of the divine will, till their whole fortunes were devoured, by that aristocracy.
Moses denied the charge of peculation, and his accusers were destitute of proofs to support it; though facts, if real, are in their nature capable of proof. "I have not, said he (with holy confidence in the presence of God.) "I have not taken from this people the value of an ass, nor done them any other injury. But his enemies had made the charge, and with some success among the populace;, for no kind of accusation is so readily made, or easily believed, by knaves, as the accusation of knavery.
In' fine, no less than two hundred and fifty of principal men "famous in the congregation, men of renown, **), heading and exciting the mob, worked them up to such a pitch of phrency, that they called out, stone 'em, stone em, and thereby secure our liberties; and let us choose other captains, that may lead us back into Egypt, in case we do not succeed in reducing the Canaanites.
On the whole, it appears that the Israelites, were a people jealous of their newly acquired liberty, which jealously was in itself no fault; but that, when they suffered it to be worked upon by artful men, pretending public good, with nothing really in view bat private interest, they were led to oppose the establishment of the new constitution, whereby they brought upon them. selves much inconvenience and misfortune. It farther appears, from the same inestimable history, that when, after many ages, the constitution had become old and much abused, and a amendment of it was proposed, the popu. lace, as they had accused Moses of the ambitions of making himself a prince, and cried out, stone him, stone him. so, excited by their highpriests and scribes, they exclaimed against the Messiah, that he aimed at becoming king of the Jews, and cried, crucify him, crucify him. From all which we may gather, that popular opposition to a public measure is no proof of its impropriety, even though the opposition be excited and headed by men of distinction.
To conclude, I beg I may not be understood to infer, that our general convention was divinely inspired when it formed the new federal constitution, merely because that constitution has been unreasonably and vehemently opposed: yet, I must own, I have so much faith in the ge. neral government of the world by Providence, that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous impor
tance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to ex: ist in the posterity of a great nation, should be suffered
*) Exodus, chap. XXX. **) Numbers, chap. XVI.
to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent and beneficent ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live, and move, and have their being.
FINAL SPEECH OF DR. FRANKLIN IN THE LATE FEDERAL CONVENTION.,
MR. PRESIDENT, I confess that I do not entirely approve of this constitution at present: but, Sir, I am not sure I shall never approve it; for having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right,but found to be otherwise. It is, therefore, that, the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judg. ment, and to pay n ore respect to the judgment of others. Most men, indeed, as well as most sects in religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that whenever others differ from them, it is so far error. Steel, a protestant, in a dedication, tells the pope, that "the only difference between our two churches, in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Romish church is infallible, and the church of England never in the wrong. But, though many private persons think almost as higly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain French lady, who, in a little dispute with her sister, said, I don't know how it happens, sister, but I meet with nobody but myself that is always in the right. Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours raison. In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this constitution, with all its fanlts, if they are such, because I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing, if well administered; and I believe farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotisn, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too, whether any other convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better constitution. For when you asscmble a number of men, to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected ? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence
to hear, that our councils are confounded, like those of the builders of Babylon, and that our states are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cntting each other's throats.
Thus i consent, Sir, to this constitution, because I expect no better
and because I am not sure, that this is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us, in returning to our constituents, were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavour to gain partisans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects and great advantages resulting naturally in our favour among foreign nations, as well as among ourselves, from our real or appearent unanimity. Much of the strength and efficiency of any government, in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of that government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its governors.
I hope therefore, that for our own sakes, as part of the people, and for the sake of our posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this constitution, wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts and endeavours to the means of having it well administered.
On the whole, Sir, I cannot help expressing a wish, that every member of the convention, who may still have objections, would with me, on this occasion, doubt a little of his own infallibility, and, to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.
[The motion was then made for adding the last for. mula, viz.
Done in Convention, by the unanimous consent, etc. which has agreed to, and added accordingly.]