V. The legal constitutions of Greece were four - Monarchy, Oligarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy; the illegal, was Tyranny in a twofold shape, viz., whether it consisted in an usurped monarchy or an usurped oligarchy. Thus the oligarchy of the Thirty in Athens was no less a tyranny than the single government of Pisistratus. Even democracy had its illegal or corrupt form - in OCHLOCRACY or mob rule; for democracy did not signify the rule of the lower orders alone, but of all the people - the highest as the lowest. If the highest became by law excluded - if the populace confined the legislative and executive authorities to their own order - then democracy, or the government of a whole people, virtually ceased, and became the government of a part of the people - a form equally unjust and illegitimate - equally an abuse in itself, whether the dominant and exclusive portion were the nobles or the mechanics. Thus in modern yet analogous history, when the middle class of Florence expelled the nobles from any share of the government, they established a monopoly under the name of liberty; and the resistance of the nobles was the lawful struggle of patriots and of freemen for an inalienable privilege and a natural right.
VI. We should remove some very important prejudices from our minds, if we could once subscribe to a fact plain in itself, but which the contests of modern party have utterly obscured - that in the mere forms of their government, the Greek republics cannot fairly be pressed into the service of those who in existing times would attest the evils, or proclaim the benefits, of constitutions purely democratic. In the first place, they were not democracies, even in their most democratic shape: - the vast majority of the working classes were the enslaved population. And, therefore, to increase the popular tendencies of the republic was, in fact, only to increase the liberties of the few. We may fairly doubt whether the worst evils of the ancient republics, in the separation of ranks, and the war between rich and poor, were not the necessary results of slavery. We may doubt, with equal probability, whether much of the lofty spirit, and the universal passion for public affairs, whence emanated the enterprise, the competition, the patriotism, and the glory of the ancient cities, could have existed without a subordinate race to carry on the drudgeries of daily life. It is clear, also, that much of the intellectual greatness of the several states arose from the exceeding smallness of their territories - the concentration of internal power, and the perpetual emulation with neighbouring and kindred states nearly equal in civilization; it is clear, too, that much of the vicious parts of their character, and yet much of their more brilliant, arose from the absence of the PRESS. Their intellectual state was that of men talked to, not written to. Their imagination was perpetually called forth - their deliberative reason rarely; - they were the fitting audience for an orator, whose art is effective in proportion to the impulse and the passion of those he addresses. Nor must it be forgotten that the representative system, which is the proper conductor of the democratic action, if not wholly unknown to the Greeks , and if unconsciously practised in the Spartan ephoralty, was at least never existent in the more democratic states. And assemblies of the whole people are compatible only with those small nations of which the city is the country. Thus, it would be impossible for us to propose the abstract constitution of any ancient state as a warning or an example to modern countries which possess territories large in extent - which subsist without a slave population - which substitute representative councils for popular assemblies - and which direct the intellectual tastes and political habits of a people, not by oratory and conversation, but through the more calm and dispassionate medium of the press. This principle settled, it may perhaps be generally conceded, that on comparing the democracies of Greece with all other contemporary forms of government, we find them the most favourable to mental cultivation - not more exposed than others to internal revolutions - usually, in fact, more durable, - more mild and civilized in their laws - and that the worst tyranny of the Demus, whether at home or abroad, never equalled that of an oligarchy or a single ruler. That in which the ancient republics are properly models to us, consists not in the form, but the spirit of their legislation. They teach us that patriotism is most promoted by bringing all classes into public and constant intercourse - that intellect is most luxuriant wherever the competition is widest and most unfettered - and that legislators can create no rewards and invent no penalties equal to those which are silently engendered by society itself - while it maintains, elaborated into a system, the desire of glory and the dread of shame.