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On the Disadvantages of Aristocracy

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On the Disadvantages of Aristocracy
Aristocracy has, in common with monarchy, the evils of an expenditure that depends on representation, the state maintaining little less pomp under aristocrats, than under princes.
It is compelled to maintain itself against the phys ical superiority of numbers also, by military charges that involve heavy personal services, and large expenditures of money.
Being a government of the few, it is in the main, as a necessity of human selfishness, administered in the interests of the few.
The ruled are depressed in consequence of the elevation of their rulers. Information is kept within circumscribed limits, lest the mass should come to a knowledge of their force, for horses would not submit to be put in harness and made to toil for hard taskmasters, did they know as much as men.
Aristocracies partaking of the irresponsible nature of corporations, are soulless, possessing neither the personal feelings that often temper even despotism, nor submitting to the human impulses of popular bodies. This is one of the worst features of an aristocracy, a system that has shown itself more ruthless than any other, though tempered by civilization, for aristocracy and barbarism cannot exist in common.
As there are many masters in an aristocracy, the exactions are proportionably heavy, and this the more so, as they who impose the burthens generally find the means to evade their payment: the apophthegm that "it is better to have one tyrant than many," applying peculiarly to aristocracies, and not to democracies, which cannot permanently tyrannize at all, without tyrannizing over those who rule.
Aristocracies have a natural tendency to wars and aggrandizement, which bring with them the inevitable penalties of taxes, injustice, demoralization and blood-shed. This charge has been brought against republicks generally, but a distinction should be made between a republick with an aristocratical base, and a republick with a democratical base, their characters being as dissimilar as those of any two forms of government known. Aristocracies, feeling less of the better impulses of man, are beyond their influence, while their means of combining are so great, that they oftener listen to their interests than to those sentiments of natural justice that in a greater or less degree always control masses.
Aristocracies usually favor those vices that spring from the love of money, which there is divine authority for believing to be "the root of all evil." In modern aristocracies, the controlling principle is property, an influence the most corrupting to which men submit, and which, when its ordinary temptations are found united to those of political patronage and power, is much too strong for human virtue. Direct bribery, therefore, has been found to be the bane of aristocracies, the influence of individuals supplying the place of merit, services and public virtue. In Rome this system was conducted so openly, that every man of note had his "clients," a term which then signified one who depended on the favor of another for the advancement of his interests, and even for the maintenance of his rights.
Aristocracies wound the sense of natural justice, and consequently unsettle principles, by placing men, altogether unworthy of trust, in high hereditary situations, a circumstance that not only offends morals, but sometimes, though possibly less often than is commonly imagined, inflicts serious injuries on a state.
On this point, however, too much importance must not be attached to theories, for in the practices of states a regard is necessarily paid to certain indispensable principles, and the comparative merits of systems are to be established from their general tendencies, rather than from the accidental exceptions that may occasionally arise: the quality in the personnel of administrations depending quite as much on the general civilization of a nation, as on any other cause.…...

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