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[192] frontiers of the kingdom, etc., etc.; and all are still nominally in force and actually disobeyed, as I have myself witnessed again and again. The remedy in these cases is to make more decrees, that, from the aggregate of all, obedience enough may be produced to keep the government in motion. There is thus a kind of tacit compromise between the government and its agents, that the king shall issue decrees, and that the people shall be tolerated in disobedience; and in this way disturbances are of course avoided. If, however, on the contrary, the king should attempt to execute even one half of the decrees that are nominally in force, he would, I am persuaded, raise a rebellion in a fortnight.

This system, of course, supposes a certain degree of independence in the officers of government, since it gives them in fact the power of resistance; and this independence leads to such a train of abuses and corruptions as nobody can imagine who has not been in the country, and week after week had them continually pounded into his ears. There is nothing that cannot be done by bribery; and—what is the most extraordinary phenomenon I suspect in legislation—Garay, who as minister did not of course like to see the money that should come to the Treasury stop in the hands of its agents, has by his decree of August 5, 1818, instead of seeking to find a remedy for all these gross abuses, coolly legalized them, and what before were bribes he now calls taxes. Thus, if you want to have a cause examined in the highest tribunal, instead of feeing the servants all round, you pay $750 to the Treasury, and the tribunal must hear you. If a corregidor desired to have two villages under him, which is contrary to ancient usage, to law, and common-sense, he could formerly do it only by bribery; now he pays five hundred ducats to Mr. Garay, and nobody can forbid him. To be a regidor under the age of eighteen, which is of course a solecism, could still be obtained formerly by corruption, but was not therefore the less illegal; now it is legalized for two hundred or four hundred ducats a year. And finally, after fifty individual enumerations, in one sweeping article he declares that the want of ‘any one of the requisites for an office’ shall not be considered as an impediment to holding it, on the payment of one third of its income to the Treasury. In short, there is hardly anything that has ever passed under the name of an abuse of government, that is not legalized and taxed by this extraordinary decree. The very first principles of the social compact, all the political morality that keeps society together, seem to be put up at auction by it, and in any other country a revolution would follow; but here this may be avoided by


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Don M. De Garay (1)
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August 5th, 1818 AD (1)
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