Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Preface to the Fourth Collection of Cato' s Letters. - A Collection of Tracts, vol. 2
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The Preface to the Fourth Collection of Cato’ s Letters. - John Trenchard, A Collection of Tracts, vol. 2 
A Collection of Tracts. By the Late John Trenchard, Esq; and Thomas Gordon, Esq; Vol. II. (London: F. Cogan, 1751).
Part of: A Collection of Tracts, 2 vols.
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The Preface to the Fourth Collection of Cato’s Letters.
I Readily comply with the Desire of the Publisher to write a short Preface to the new Collection he has made of my Letters for the last four Months. I am more concerned than surprized, that these Letters should be ill understood, and maliciously apprehended by those, who, having no Principles of their own, are apt to wrest my Principles to favour their own Prejudices.
These Men are Friends to Truth out of Anger or Chance, and not for her own Sake. I am, however, glad that they have been brought to read and approve a general Condemnation of their own Scheme. It is more than ever they did before; and I am not without Hopes, that what they have begun in Passion may end in Conviction: I am happy, if I may have been the Means of bringing those Men to think for themselves, whose Character it has been to let other Men think for them———a Character which is the highest Shame and the greatest Unhappiness of a rational Being. These Papers having opened the Principles of Liberty and Power, and rendered them plain to every Understanding, may, perhaps, have their Share in preventing, for the time to come, such Storms of Zeal for Nonsense and Falshood, as have thrown these Kingdoms more than once into Convulsions. I hope I have helped to cure and remove those monstrous Notions of Government, which were instilled by the crafty Few into the ignorant Many.
For those who profess to entertain the same Sentiments with myself upon this Subject, and yet have been offended; as this their Offence was neither my Fault nor Intention, I can only be sorry, for their Sakes, that the Principles which they avowed at all Times, should happen to displease them at any Time. I am willing to believe that it was not the Doctrine, but the Application that disobliged them.———Nor am I answerable for this; they themselves made it, and often made it wrong. I abhor all Attacks upon the Persons and private Characters of Men, and all little Stories and Calumnies invented or revived to blacken them. These are base and dishonest Practices; the Work and Ambition of little and malicious Minds only. Nor wanted I any such ill-bred and contemptible Artifices to gain Readers. I attended only to general Reasonings about public Virtue and Corruption, unbiassed by Pique or Favour to any Man. I can say this with as much Truth as any Writer ever could. As I have abused no Man’s Person, and courted no Man’s Fortune, I have dreaded no Man’s Resentment.
The Faults found with these Letters are so frivolous and ill grounded, that to mention them is almost sufficient to answer and expose them. The putting some Words in Italics, or different Letters, has given Offence; and I own, in some Instances it has been indiscreet: But though it was none of my Doing, and I have often blamed it, yet I dare answer that it was not maliciously done. However, I have directed it to be altered in this Collection.
Other Letters and Passages and Advertisements in the Journal, have been dishonestly blended with Cato’s Letters; and when they were called Crimes, Cato has been called the Criminal—A wicked and a base Charge! Any intelligent Man may see that Cato has nothing farther to do with the Journal, than the writing those Letters which are signed with his Name.
I know it has been said, and but said, that Cato has spoken disrespectfully, nay insolently, of the King. If this were true, I should be the first to own that all the Clamour raised against me, was just upon me. But the Papers vindicate themselves; and it is certain, that no Prince was ever treated with more Duty and Regard, in any public or private Writings, than his present Majesty has been in these. In Point of Affection and Principle his Majesty has not a better Subject than myself; and if he has any bad ones, they are none of my making. I know that this Nation cannot be saved without this King; and I am still persuaded, that nothing tended more to his Advantage and Popularity, or more to the Credit of the Ministry, or more to the Security of the Subject, than the pursuing, with quick and impartial Vengeance, those Men who were Enemies to all Men. And I have the Votes and Proceedings of Parliament, to shew that that great and honourable Assembly were guided by the same Sentiments, as were the whole Nation.
But it seems I once spoke Latin to his Majesty, and spoke to him in the singular Number——— quis te vituperavit. If this be a Libel, they who make it so, are the Libellers. In itself it is a Panegyric; nor could it be a Satyr in my Mouth, who have ever thought and spoken dutifully of the King, and endeavoured that all others should do so. As to the Word, Te, addressed to his Majesty in the singular Number, which is the Objection, I am told, of some able Lawyers; I would, in answer, acquaint these learned Goths, that the Purity of the Latin Tongue warrants that way of speaking, and no other, and that none but Monks and Pedants practise any other. VOS regere imperium———And hæ VOBIS erunt artes———would be beautiful Emendations in a new Edition of Virgil. But as the above ridiculous Objection was made by no Lawyer of Genius or Politeness, it is no Reflection upon his Brethren.
Thus much I think is more than a sufficient Defence against this Latin Crime; which however I have cancelled, though not for their Sakes who make it one.
In answer to those deep Politicians, who have been long puzzled to know who were meant by Cicero and Brutus; intending to deal candidly with them, and put them out of Pain and Doubt, I assure them that Cicero and Brutus were meant: That I know no present Characters or Story that will fit theirs; and that those Letters were translated for the Service of Liberty in general, without intending by them either Reproof or Praise to any Man living. And if these guessing Sages are in Perplexity about any other Passages in Cato’s Letters, it is ten to one but the same Answer will relieve them.
In Brutus’s Letters it is said, we do not dispute about the Qualifications of a Master; we will have no Master. Which is the genuine Sense of the Latin—Nisi forte non de servitute, sed de conditione serviendi recusandum est a nobis. From hence some have inferred, that, because Brutus was against having a Master, therefore I am against having a King—a strange Construction, and a wild Consequence! As if in translating Brutus’s Letter, I was not to follow the Sense of Brutus; or as if there was no Difference in England between a King and a Master, which are just as opposite as King and Tyrant. In a neighbouring Kingdom, indeed, they say that their Monarch is born Master of the Kingdom, and I believe they feel it too; as they do with a Witness in Turkey———But I hope it is not so here. We have a King made and bound by the Law; Brutus having killed one Usurper, was opposing another, overturning by Violence all Law. Where is the Parity, or Room for it?
It may, perhaps, be expected I should say something here of a late Attempt, to answer this and all other Writings, in a Way that was never before taken, nor heard of———a new Way without a new Occasion! And a Way more terrible to Liberty than to me! Nothing is the best Thing I can say of it; and even for that I deserve the Thanks of the Projectors: May it be for ever covered with Oblivion! A Wish, in which I dare say I have their hearty Concurrence. No Man desires to be remembered but with Honour.
Thus much by way of Preface, I thought might be modesty said, in defence of a Paper which has more Friends and Readers, than any Paper that has hitherto appeared in the World; and for its Foes, they are, as to their Number, inconsiderable.
As to myself, who perhaps have more public Spirit than private Prudence, having done my Duty, I can say with Tully, Quid est, proh deûm hominumque fidem! In quo ego Reip. plas hoc tempore prodesse possim?———Quid est, quod aut populo Rom. gratius esse debeat, aut sociis extcrisq; nationibus optatius esse possit, aut saluti fortunisque omnium accommodatius sit?———Quis tandem esset qui meum concilium aut factum posset reprehendere?
“I appeal to Heaven and Earth, whether I could have done more for the Benefit of the Public in this its woful Distress?———What more agreeable to the Interest and the Wishes of our People at home, what more conducive to our Reputation abroad, or what more desirable for the Security of the universal Rights and Properties of all Men? What Falshood have I uttered, what evil Counsel have I given, and do the Innocent accuse me?