Front Page Titles (by Subject) Dedication: TO JOHN MILNER, ESQ.; OF GREAT RUSSEL-STREET BLOOMSBURY. (Gordon) - Cato's Letters, vol. 1 November 5, 1720 to June 17, 1721 (LF ed.)
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Dedication: TO JOHN MILNER, ESQ.; OF GREAT RUSSEL-STREET BLOOMSBURY. (Gordon) - John Trenchard, Cato’s Letters, vol. 1 November 5, 1720 to June 17, 1721 (LF ed.) 
Cato’s Letters, or Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious, and Other Important Subjects. Four volumes in Two, edited and annotated by Ronald Hamowy (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1995). Vol. 1.
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TO JOHN MILNER, ESQ.; OF GREAT RUSSEL-STREET BLOOMSBURY. (Gordon)
As shy as I know you to be of publick notice and eclat, let me for once draw, if not you, your name at least, from that recess which you value in proportion to the measure of felicity that you derive from it, and to your contempt for the blaze and tumult of publick life: A taste to which I have the pleasure of finding my own so entirely conformable.
Quiet passions and an easy mind constitute happiness; which is never found where these are not, and must cease to be, when these cease to support it. Mighty pomp and retinue, glaring equipages, and the attendance of crowds, are signs, indeed burdens, of greatness, rather than proofs of happiness, which I doubt is least felt where these its appearances are mostseen. The principal happiness which they seem to bring, is, that other peoplethink them marks of it; and very imperfect must be that happiness which a man derives not from what he himself feels, but from what another imagines. We may indeed be happy in our own dreams, but can never be happy by the dreams of others.
Happiest of all men, to me, seems the private man; nor can the opinion of ill-judging crowds make him less happy, because they may think others more so. He who can live alone without uneasiness, who can survey his past life with pleasure, who can look back without compunction or shame, forward without fear or rebuke; he, whose every day hath produced some good, at least is passed with innocence; the silent benefactor, the ready and faithful friend; he who is filled with secret delight, because he feels his heart full of benevolence, who finds pleasure in relieving and assisting; the domestic man, perhaps little talked of, perhaps less seen, beloved by his friends, trusted and esteemed by all that know him, often useful to such as know him not, enjoys such high felicity as the wealth of kingdoms and the bounty of kings cannot confer.
Imaginary happiness is a poor amends for the want of real. Nor can a better reason than this be urged against envying any man's grandeur and state, however mighty it be, however easy it appear. A great lot is ever accompanied with many cares; and whoever stands constantly in the eyes of the world, will be apt to feel a constant concern (perhaps even to anxiety) how to become his station and degree, or how to raise it, or how to keep it from sinking. The more he is set to view, the more glaring will be any blot in his character, and the more magnified: Nay, malignant eyes will be seeing blots where there are none; and ’tis certain, that, with all his grandeur, nay by the means and help of his grandeur, it will be always in the power of very little people to mortify him, when he can no ways in return hurt them: And thus the least man may become an overmatch for the greatest.
Men are more upon a level than is generally believed; or rather the advantage is commonly where ’tis least imagined, if we take our estimate where it ought to be taken, from the state and measure of their passions; since from this source their happiness or misery arises. Greatness accompanied with vexations, is worse than an humble state void of anxiety; and he who aims not at an elevated lot, is happier than he, who, having it, fears to lose it.
Happiness is therefore from within just as much as is virtue; and the virtuous man enjoys the most.
If with this goodness of mind he be also a wise man, and a master of his passions; if to good sense he have joined other laudable accomplishments, a competent acquaintance with books, with a thorough knowledge of the world, and of mankind; if he be a benevolent neighbour, a useful member of society, perfectly disinterested, and justly esteemed; if he have served and saved great numbers; if he be daily protecting the innocent, daily watching and restraining the guilty; his happiness must be complete, and all his reflections pleasing.
Who this happy man is, where this amiable character to be found, is what I pretend not to inform you; though I am persuaded that few that know you, will ask that question. My purpose here is, to desire your permission to prefix your name to the following edition of Cato's Letters, as well as to what I have said of Mr. Trenchard. He esteemed you as much as one man could another: You lived in a long course of intimacy with him: I have long lived, to my great advantage and pleasure, in an equal course of intimacy with you. You saw most of these papers before they came out, and many of them were first left to your perusal and judgment. You know in a great measure which were his, which were mine; and no man else whosoever was concerned or consulted. You know what motives produced them; how remote such motives were from views of interest; and that whilst they continuedin full credit with the publick, they were laid down, purely because it wasjudged that the publick, after all its terrible convulsions, was again become calm and safe.
You can vouch, that, as these letters were the work of no faction or cabal, nor calculated for any lucrative or ambitious ends, or to serve the purposes of any party whatsoever, but that they attacked falsehood and dishonesty in all shapes and parties, without temporizing with any, but doing justice to all, even to the weakest and most unfashionable, and maintaining the principles of liberty against the practices of most parties; so they were dropped without any sordid composition, and without any consideration, save that already mentioned. They had treated of most of the subjects important to the world, and meddled with publick measures and publick men only in great instances.
You know that in the character which I have here given of Mr. Trenchard, I have set him no higher than his own great abilities and many virtues set him; that his failings were small, his talents extraordinary, his probity equal; and that he was one of the worthiest, one of the ablest, one of the most useful men, that ever any country was blessed withal.
You know all the writings which he ever produced, and saw most of them before they were published. You know that whatever he wrote was occasional, the effect of present thought, and for immediate use, and that he never laid up writings in store; an undertaking quite opposite to his turn; and all his acquaintanceknew that he could never submit to such a task.
I mention this last particular in justice to him, that he may not be answerable for any work in which he had no share. Because I have been told that some, who knew nothing, or very little of him, perhaps never saw him, have fathered upon him writings which he never wrote; from no kindness to him, but purely because they were not disposed to let me be the author of a work which found such favourable reception from the world, though it was written several years after that worthy man, my friend, was dead. You, who are one of his executors, and saw all his papers, know, as the other executors perfectly do, that he left no writings at all behind him, but two or three loose papers, once intended for Cato's Letters, and afterwards laid aside; which papers of his, with some of mine of the same sort, you have in your hands.
As you have for many years seen whatever I in tended for the publick, you know by what intervals I translated Tacitus, and when it was that I wrote the discourses upon that author, since you perused both as I produced them, and the discourses prefixed to the first volume were not begun till three years after his death; nor those to the second till two years after the former. You can therefore vouch what an absurd falsehood they are guilty of who would ascribe these discourses to him, to whose valuable name I ever have done, I ever shall do, all honour and exact justice. Had he really written and owned that work, ’tis more than probable, that the same slanderers would have attributed it to somebody else.
I should not have once mentioned this ridiculous falsehood, which you and many others know to be a complete one in all its parts, had it not in some measure concerned the publick. Let this detection be the punishment of the little malicious minds who invented it; nor can there be a greater, if they have one honest passion remaining, that of shame or any other, to represent them to themselves in their own miserable colours, lying, envious, and contemptible. It is a lot sufficiently wretched, to be obliged to hate one's self; and to be hardened against just shame and remorse, is almost as bad. Doubtless it were better to have no soul, than to have a lying and malicious one; better not to be, than to be a false and spiteful being.
Unhappily for these undiscerning slanderers, who, whilst they mean me a reproach, make me a compliment, many of the reflections in the discourses upon Tacitus, are illustrated from books that have been written, and from facts that have happened since Mr. Trenchard's death, some of them long since his death.
It may be proper here to mention another mistake which has generally prevailed; that a noble peer of a neighbouring nation, now dead, had a chief, at least a considerable hand in Cato's Letters. Though what I have already said in this address to you abundantly contradicts this mistake; yet, for the satisfaction of the world, and for the sake of truth and justice, I here solemnly aver (and you well know what I aver to be strictly true) that this noble person never wrote a line of those letters, nor contributed a thought towards them, nor knew who wrote them, till all the world knew; nor was ever consulted about them before or after, nor ever saw any of them till they were published, except one by accident.
I am far from mentioning thus much as any reflection upon that able and learned nobleman, who professed a friendship for Mr. Trenchard and myself, and was so fond of these letters, that, from his great partiality in speaking of them, many people inferred them to be his own. I must add, that he sent once or twice, or oftener, some papers to be published under Cato's name; but as they were judged too particular, and not to coincide with Cato’s design, they were not used. He afterwards published some of them in another form. What heightened the report of his being the author of Cato's Letters, was, that there then came forth a public print of his lordship, with a compliment at the bottom to him, as Cato. I have been told, that this was officiously done by Mr. Toland.
My regard for the memory of Mr. Trenchard obliges me to take notice also of some men, who, since his death, have thought fit to have been very intimate with him; though, to my knowledge and yours, he hardly ever conversed with them, and always strove to shun them, such of them especially as he found to be void of veracity.
Let me add, that these letters are still so well received by the publick, that the last edition has been long since sold off and for above three years past it was scarcely possible to find a set of them, unless in publick auctions. I mention this, that the present edition may not seem owing to the frequent quotations made from them in our late party-hostilities. I flatter myself, that, as these papers contain truths and reasons eternally interesting to human society, they will at all times be found seasonable and useful. They have already survived all the clamour and obloquy of party, and indeed are no longer considered as party- writings, but as impartial lessons of liberty and virtue. Nor would it be a small recommendation of them to the world (if the world knew you as well as I know you) that they have ever had your approbation. I am therefore very proud, upon this publick occasion, to declare, that I have long experienced your faithful friendship; and that I am, with very great and very sincere esteem,
Your most faithful and most humble servant,