The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 3 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 89

and Ulster were in the days of Queen Elizabeth. No body
foretels the dissolution of the Russian monarchy from its extent; yet
I will venture to say, the eastern parts of it are already much more
inaccessible from Petersburgh, than the country on the Mississippi is
from London; I mean, more men, in less time, might be conveyed the
latter than the former distance. The rivers Oby, Jenesea, and Lena,
do not facilitate the communication half so well by their course,
nor are they half so practicable as the American rivers. To this I
shall only add the observation of Machiavel, in his Prince; that a
government seldom long preserves its dominion over those who are
foreigners to it; who, on the other hand, fall with great ease, and
continue inseparably annexed to the government of their own nation:
which he proves by the fate of the English conquests in France. Yet
with all these disadvantages, so difficult is it to overturn an
established government, that it was not without the assistance of
France and England, that the United Provinces supported themselves:
which teaches us, that

[6. _The French remaining in Canada, an encouragement to
disaffections in the British Colonies_.--_If they prove a_ check,
_that check of the most barbarous nature_.]

_If the visionary danger of independence in our colonies is to be
feared; nothing is more likely to render it substantial, than the
neighbourhood of foreigners at enmity with the sovereign governments,
capable of giving either_ aid[47], _or an_ asylum, _as the event
shall require_. Yet against even these disadvantages, did Spain
preserve almost ten provinces, merely through their want of union;
which indeed could never have taken place among the others, but for
causes, some of which are in our case impossible, and others it is
impious to suppose possible.

The Romans well understood that policy, which teaches the security
arising to the chief government from separate states among the
governed; when they restored the liberties of the states of Greece
(oppressed but united under Macedon) by an edict, that every state
should live under its own laws. They did not even name a governor.
Independence of each other, and separate interests (though among a
people united by common manners, language, and I may say religion;
inferior neither in wisdom, bravery, nor their love of liberty, to
the Romans themselves;) was all the security the sovereigns wished
for their sovereignty. It is true, they did not call themselves
sovereigns; they set no value on the title; they were contented
with possessing the thing. And possess it they did, even without
a standing army:

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Whatever was then true in this respect, is true now.
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He never trimmed his sails to popular breezes.