Political Tactics

By Michael James; Cyprian Blamires et al. | Go to book overview
made universally notorious. But particular laws made for one assembly may be constantly visible within it. The method is so easy, it cannot be said to be unknown. There is not a club in England which has not its regulations exhibited in its place of meeting. There is the same foresight in gaming-houses. But the bitter reflection often recurs, that the wisdom displayed in the conduct of human affairs is often in the inverse proportion of their importance. Governments have great progress to make before they will have attained, in the management of public matters, to the prudence which commonly conducts private affairs. The cause+ may be easily pointed out, but not the remedy.
CHAPTER IV. OF WHAT CONCERNS THE MEMBERS PRESENT AT A LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY.

§1. Of the utility of a Distinctive Dress for Members.
THE establishment of a particular dress+ for the members during the hours of sitting, is one of those points upon which it would not be proper to wound national customs. The object, however, is not altogether so unimportant as might be thought at the first glance.
1. A particular dress serves to distinguish the members from the spectators: it may prevent the usurpation of their privilege.
2. Such a dress might attain the end of a sumptuary law, without having its rigour. This apparent equality would defend the poor man of merit from a disadvantageous comparison with the pride of fortune.
3. Such a dress tends in another manner to place the individuals upon a level, by diminishing the disadvantages of those who have to strive against any bodily defect.
4. It produces a certain impression of respect upon the spectators, and places the members themselves in a more distinguished situation--two causes which equally tend to the maintenance of order, and the preservation of decency.
5. In the course of a debate, when parties are nearly balanced, and when intrigue or corruption may be apprehended, the peculiar dress may serve to detect+ the proceedings of the members, and to signalize what passes among them.+ Every communication among them becomes more manifest, and attracts the public attention.

This method, I allow, is not of great force; but if it be possible, without inconvenience, to throw one additional grain into the scale of probity, it ought not to be neglected.

6. In a popular tumult, such as every political assembly is exposed to

-51-

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