Front Page Titles (by Subject) DISCOURSE I.: Of Faction and Parties. - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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DISCOURSE I.: Of Faction and Parties. - Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust), The Works of Sallust (Gordon’s Discourses, Cicero’s Orations against Catiline) 
The Works of Sallust, translated into English with Political Discourses upon that Author. To which is added, a translation of Cicero’s Four Orations against Catiline (London: R. Ware, 1744).
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Of Faction and Parties.
How easily the People are led into Faction, and kept in it, by their own Heat and Prejudices, and the Arts of their Leaders; how hard they are to be cured; and with what Partiality and Injustice each Side treats the other.
SALLUST observes, ‘That whoever raised Civil Dissentions in the Commonwealth, used plausible Pretences; some seeming to vindicate the Rights of the People; others to exalt the Authority of the Senate; Both Sorts to pursue the public Good; yet all only striving severally to procure Weight and Power to themselves. Neither, in these their Civil Contests, did any of them observe Moderation or Bounds: Whatever Party conquered, still used their Victory with Violence and Inhumanity.’ This, I doubt, is true of all Parties in their Pursuits and Success: I have, therefore, thought it pertinent to discourse here at large upon Faction and Parties.
The People are so apt to be drawn into Faction, and blindly to pursue the Steps of their Leaders, generally to their own special Prejudice, Loss, and Disquiet, if not to their utter Ruin, that he who would sincerely serve them, cannot do it more effectually, than by warning them against such ready and implicit Attachment to Names and Notions, however popular and plausible. From this evil Root have sprung many of the sore Calamities that, almost every-where, afflict Mankind. Without it the World had been happily ignorant of Tyranny and Slavery, the Two mighty Plagues that now haunt and devour the most and best Parts of it; together with the subordinate and introductory Miseries, of national Discord, Devastation, and Civil War.
People, as well as Princes, have been often undone by their Favourites. A great Man amongst them, perhaps, happened to be cried up for his fine Actions, or fine Qualities, both often overrated; and became presently their Idol, and they trusted him without Reserve: For their Love, like their Hate, is generally immoderate; nor from a Man who has done them, or can do them, much Good, have they any Apprehension of Evil; till some Rival for their Affection appear superior to their first Favourite in Art or Fortune; one who persuades them, that the other has abused them, and seeks their Ruin. Then, it is like, they make a sudden Turn, set up the latter against the former; and, having conceived an immoderate Opinion of Him, too, put immoderate Confidence in him; not that they are sure that the other had wronged them, or abused his Trust, but take it for granted, and punish him upon Presumption; trusting to the Arts and Accusations of their new Leader, who probably had deceived and inflamed them.
Thus Themistocles supplants Aristides, and is himself forced to yield to the superior Popularity of Cimon. Not that the People always want Judgment; for they sometimes judge truly, according to the Information which they have; but they are apt to credit Information too suddenly. Sometimes their Favourite preserves himself in their Esteem, in spight of all Rivals and Efforts; and pays them his Thanks for supporting him, by enslaving them. Thus acted Cæsar, Pisistratus, and Agathocles: Thus Alcibiades aimed at acting; and Pericles, in a good Degree, succeeded in his Aim; being a Tyrant without Arms, as one of the antient Writers calls him.
And as the People sometimes think themselves to have erred in their Choice, when they really have not, but are only seduced by false Insinuations; as in the Case of Aristides, who was certainly an upright Man: So when they have been mistaken, they often come to know it when it is too late; as in the Case of Cæsar; who, to fortify himself, had entered into a Confederacy with Pompey and Crassus, and thence formed the first Triumvirate. Upon this Occasion he suffered many popular Insults; and had the Mortification to see the Tide of popular Affection and Applause follow his warmest Opponents. But what availed it? He had carried his Point; and they came to their Senses too late(a) .
They may possibly commit themselves to the Guidance of a Man, who certainly means them well, and seeks no base Advantage to himself: But such Instances are so rare, that the Experiment is never to be tried. Men, especially Men of Ambition, who are the forwardest to grasp at such an Office, do, chiefly, and in the first Place, consider Themselves; and, whilst guided by Partiality for themselves, cannot judge indifferently. Such a Man, measureing Reason and Justice by his Interest, may think, that it is right, that the People should always be deceived, should always be kept low, and under a severe Yoke, to hinder them from judging for Themselves, and throwing off Him, and to prevent their growing wanton and ungovernable. In short, the Fact is, (almost eternally) That their Leader only finds his Account in leading them, and They never, in being led. They make him considerable; that is, throw him into the Way of Power and Profit: This is his Point and End; and, in Consideration of all this, what does do he do for them? At best, he generally leaves them where he found them. Yet this is tolerable, nay, kind, in comparison of what oftener happens: Probably he has raised Feuds and Animosities amongst them, not to end in an Hundred Years; Fuel for intestine Wars; a Spirit of Licentiousness and Rebellion, or of Folly and Slavery.
In the midst of the Heats, and Zeal, and Divisions, into which they are drawn, for This Man against That, are they ever thoroughly apprised of the Merits and Source of the Dispute? Are they Masters of the real Facts, sufficient for accusing one, or for applauding another? Scarce ever. What Information they have, they have generally from interested Men, at best, quite partial and disguised, often utterly false and forged. But the Truth is, they have generally no Information at all; but only a few Cant Words, such as will always serve to animate a Mob; ‘I am for John: He is our Friend, and very honest. I am against Thomas: He is our worst Enemy, and very wicked, and deserves to be punished.’ And so say They who have taken a Fancy to Thomas, and are prejudiced against John. When it is likely, that neither John nor Thomas have done them much Harm, or much Good; or, perhaps, both John and Thomas study to delude and enthral them. But, when Passion prevails, Reason is not heard.
There is a sort of Witchcraft in Party, and in Party Cries, strangely wild and irresistible. One Name charms and composes; another Name, not better nor worse, fires and alarms. I remember when one Party could not hear, with Decency or Temper, the Name of the late Lord Oxford: I likewise remember, when that of the late Lord Godolphin was equally disgustful to another Party. I have lived to see both these Noble Persons mentioned with Applause, at least without Rancour, by many of all Parties indifferently. If one had then told any of those Party-Men, that the Time would come, when they would certainly change their Note, and give these two Ministers very different and favourable Characters, he would not have been believed: For angry Men fansy, that they shall always retain the same angry Ideas; and probably resolve it. They do not consider, that their Blood will not always boil, nor the same Object continue always to inflame them. They would do well, therefore, to reflect, that their present Passion, be it Rancour or Fondness, will certainly, some time or other, subside; and therefore should restrain it, lest it betray them into Inconsistency, and make them say now, what they will, perhaps, contradict hereafter; for then they must allow, that they acted from Warmth and Mistake. Such a Consideration would make Men wary of running headlong into Partialities, and of condemning, or adoring, merely because it is the Cry, and the Fashion; for nothing is so deceitful, and even fleering, as these Cries and Fashions are. It is common to see a Man idolized one Winter, and forgot before the next.
I am far from intending, by what I say, to dissuade People from inquiring into the Condition they are in, or how it fares with the Public. This is a just and necessary Inquiry, and deserves all Encouragement. But let them be sure to inquire conscientiously, and upon solid Grounds, and be thoroughly informed, before they judge, or censure, or applaud. What I blame, is, their swallowing current Lyes, believing Misrepresentations, and false Characters, and thence bearing Ill-will to some, who deserve it not; or entertaining extravagant Fondness for others, who deserve it as little. There is no Reliance upon what Parties say of one another, to the Praise of their Friends, or in Detraction from their Rivals; it is all Satire, or all Praise. This is enough to shew, that it deserves no Credit; since no Party was ever composed of Men altogether good, or altogether bad; all Bodies of Men are mixt, as are the Qualities of particular Men.
It is a special Comfort to us in this Island, that we may be happy, if we will. Convulsions abroad, and restless Spirits amongst our Neighbours, may ruffle our Quiet, and put us to Expence; but, I think, can never bring Ruin, nor even Danger; and none but ourselves can destroy us. Our greatest Hazard seems to arise from the Spite and Folly of our contending Factions, which always gather Strength, by a constant Endeavour to distress and weaken one another. One Party, for Example, has recourse to more Power, to preserve itself from the other, and thence becomes unpopular and suspected, as grasping at too much; whilst the other gathers Popularity, and consequently Strength, by having opposed that invidious Increase of Power, and by being considered as under Persecution and Scorn. Hence they are encouraged, indeed enabled, to make fresh Efforts; and such Efforts furnish their Rivals with a Pretence for seeking further Strength and Security, though by it they often lose Credit, which is the best Strength. Nor does either Side usually refuse any Aid, however unjust, or any Falshood, however glaring, to mortify and vanquish their Opponents. The warm Gracchus, to carry his Point, by dint of Power and Voices, calls in Numbers from all Parts of Italy. The Consul Opimius, a zealous Chief, on the other Side, to ballance and encounter the Strength of Gracchus, went attended with a Body of Candiot Troops. Thus Violence begot and warranted Violence.
In the late Queen’s time, (to go no further back) one Party, in order to get Possession of Power, and to keep it, charged the other with encouraging Looseness, Profaneness, Blasphemy, and with all wicked and all impious Principles, and even with Designs to destroy the Monarchy and Church. A terrible Charge, but notoriously false, yet swallowed by the Vulgar, and by many who, in Condition, were above the Vulgar. From hence arose a furious Ferment, a Spirit of Division, of Hate and Hostility, such as threatened to blow up that very Government, which was pretended to be thus brought out of Danger. And upon this Occasion was revived the monstrous Impiety of Passive Obedience to Oppressors, confidently dressed up in the Style of a Christian Doctrine; a Doctrine, which makes no Difference between the eternal Rights of Englishmen, and the beastly Servitude of Turks: Together with this, became fashionable the other mighty Lye of indefeasible hereditary Right. This Falshood too, unknown to Pagans, a Disgrace to Christians, was fathered upon God and Scripture, and styled Divine. It is but Charity, and, I think, reasonable, to believe, that there were some who laughed at, or rather abhorred such popular Madness, and execrable Tenets; and yet were not so scrupulous, as not to take Advantage from them, to establish themselves, and to remove others; though I fansy, some of them found, that they had raised a Spirit, which they afterwards, when they desired to lay it, could not well lay; like Cromwell, and his Agitators.
They who were then displaced, were many of them as able Men as ever this Nation produced, many of them as honest, as disinterested Men. But, with all the Glory and Triumphs of their Administration, it was attended with an enormous Expence to support a War, which, many then believed, might have been ended much sooner. Such an Opinion, true or false, the Moment it spread, was enough to make any Ministry unpopular, if not odious; nor do I think it possible for Popularity to attend any Minister long, for Reasons which I have not room here to offer.
The Ministry that succeeded those, were, in their Turn, attacked with violent Spirit, and charged with devilish Designs; that, particularly, of bringing in the Pretender; that is to say, Popery and Slavery. For, I think, we cannot expect to have him upon other or better Terms. What some amongst them might design, I know not; perhaps no Good: It is certain there were several, even then, in the highest Stations, utterly remote from any such Views, utterly irreconcilable to such, and even zealous against such.
All Parties have their Follies, and weak Places: But the Character of one Party is rarely to be learned from the other. They make odious Pictures of each other, in their Anger (for Parties imply mutual Wrath); and both Sides are Monsters, in the Opinion of each. How little reciprocal Justice they are apt to practise, is manifest from their caressing and applauding Men, not for their moral Principles, or Integrity of Life, but for their Zeal and Attachment to the Cause. He who is a good Party-Man, is a good Man, let his Conduct be ever so vile, his Actions ever so wicked. On the contrary, let a Man be ever so unblameable, his Behaviour ever so righteous and worthy; all this Merit shall not avail him; nay, with all this Merit, it is odds but he is reviled, ridiculed, and scorned.
How many Dunces, how many Drunkards, Fellows of dirty Morals, and no Understanding, without Address, or common Breeding, or one good Quality, but with a Thousand ill ones, are to be seen of notable Weight and Esteem, for no earthly Consideration, but that of their Bigotry to their Party, and of their Party to them; whilst Men of the most amiable Turn, of the greatest Accomplishments, and finest Talents, are, perhaps, slandered and hunted down; at best, shunned and cursed; only for not being infatuated with the epidemical Madness of Party! Nay, perhaps, for humanely studying to save the Whole, to advance public Happiness in general, and to remove public Mischiefs, Oppression, and Delusion, a Man shall be condemned and undone by one Party, without being defended by the other; whilst the Authors of public Mischiefs, the Oppressors, the Deluders, shall be safe and popular: Wretches shall be adored; the Patriot, the virtuous and benevolent Man, shall be despised, perhaps persecuted.
How apt Parties are to err in the Choice of their Leaders. How little they regard Truth and Morality, when in Competition with Party. The terrible Consequences of all this; worthy Men decried and persecuted; worthless and wicked Men popular and preferred; Liberty oppressed and expiring.
IN most Countries, they who blind and enslave the People, are popular, and reverenced; they who would enlighten and free them, hated and persecuted. For an Attempt to relieve the Spaniards from the horrid Dungeons, Flames, and Tortures of the Inquisition, the Spaniards would, with Zeal and Indignation, surrender you to those very Dungeons, Flames, and Tortures. Is this Encouragement for serving, or striving to save Societies? It must be confessed, that the People, were they otherwise instructed, would act otherwise. They should thereforehear with Patience such as would shew them the Truth, and their own Interest, and never be afraid to enquire and examine, and not run after Names and Notions, which serve only to inflame and divide them, and therefore first mislead and deceive them.
It is with Measures as with Men; they are praised, or condemned, not because they are Right or Wrong, Beneficial or Hurtful, but because they come from this Party, or the other. Evil is turned into Good, and Good into Evil: Truth passes for Falshood; Falshood is dressed up in the Guise of Truth: The best Actions are decried as the worst, if they arise from one Quarter; the worst Actions adored as the best, if from the other. The Resisting of lawless Tyrants, is, at one time, Rebellion and Damnation: To rebel against the most lawful Authority, is, at another time, Duty and Glory. One Year, a Prince, who openly defies Oaths and Law, and violates every Obligation, Sacred and Civil, is still the Lord’s Anointed, still not to be opposed; a wanton Usurper has a Right to all things, the Subject, the most unoffending Subject, a Security for nothing; nor is Law and Right any Defence against Violence and Plunder. Another Year, and for a Course of Years the most solemn Oaths taken to a Government, which, in all things, acts by the Measure of Right, are not binding; and that Government is called Usurpation, though it usurp nothing, but is founded wholly upon Law, and from the Laws only derives its whole Force.
To support such Extremes, to reconcile such wild Contradictions, the Divine Word is boldly called in and misapplied, the Divine Aid promised and invoked. One Scripture is made to justify one extravagant Proposition to Day: To-morrow the same Scripture, or another Scripture, is forced to defend an opposite Proposition, and to destroy the former; and the Supreme Being is always supposed angry or pleased, just as Factions are, adopting the foolish Passions and Partialities of Parties, and shifting his Passions, as Parties shift theirs.
Party, as I have already said, always implies Anger, which is never a fair Reasoner, nor a sure Guide. When Fierceness and Ill-will possess a Man, or Body of Men, Reason has little Power left over them; Complaints grow into Invectives, Representations become Aggravations; and I doubt it is too true, that as under such a Spirit we are very ready to spy Faults, so we are glad to find them; at least prone to aggravate them, and, I fear, even to make them. When we think Men our Enemies, it is too natural to wish them every Quality proper to hate, and to find their Actions as bad as our own Resentment is severe. If, for a Shew of Impartiality, we at any time praise them, it is often either Affectation, or to make them the more guilty and inexcusable.
When we have taken a Fancy to a Man, and chuse or consider him as our Chief and Leader, we are disposed to see all Excellency and no Fault in him, to think him every way able to serve and support us, and quite uncapable of betraying or hurting us, or of ill serving us. We represent him to ourselves, just like ourselves, full of warm Zeal for Us and our Cause, without any Views to himself, or any Motives that are personal; though it is possible, that from such Motives only he became very zealous for us, and very angry at others. Thus we court, thus paint, and trust, and admire the Man who joins with us, and who espouses our Resentments and Disgusts, or seems to espouse them.
To the Man, on the contrary, who is not of our Party, but of the opposite Party, we hardly allow one good Quality, but are ready to impute every ill one. Every thing that he does, is bad and malicious, and all his Intentions are wicked; and though he be charged with doing a World of Mischief, it is odds but he is reckoned void of Parts, and a very silly Fellow. For those who follow, or are supposed to follow him, we have just the same want of common Charity and Complaisance. As all our own Friends and Champions are virtuous, and able, and amiable; all on the other Side are guilty, weak, and hateful. And, just in the same Style, those of the other Side speak and judge of us, from the same Prejudices.
Now, where are the Hopes of Union or Reconciliation, when the Rent is thus wide, and the Rancour thus implacable? Each Party think themselves innocent as Angels, and the other Party as black as Devils. Will Angels ever condescend to treat with Devils, or confederate cordially with them even for a Day? The Breach therefore, instead of healing, widens; mutual Fury and Fierceness are increased by mutual Lyes and Invectives; Reason is lost in Rage; Justice is swallowed up in Revenge, a High-way is raised to Blood and Massacre; and, neither Side expecting from the other fair Usage or Humanity, both betake themselves to Frauds and Cruelty: Both pretend the public Good, both obstruct it, and rend the Public between them. Nay, one Party will risque all, sacrifice the State, and themselves with it, rather than miss Revenge upon the other; and, to this bloody End, call in the inveterate Enemies of their common Country, Savages and Barbarians. This has often happened; and We, even We of this Generation, had like to have seen it happen.
Men, therefore, had need beware of their own Hearts, and to watch over them, as in all Pursuits, so particularly in those of Party; I speak of all Parties: For, in none yet did I ever see Justice and Candour practised between the Individuals of opposite Parties. One is charged as insatiable in his Ambition, another in his Revenge; when, perhaps, better Passions animate both, or at least the former Passions, if they have them, are not near so intense. But, on these Occasions, Men extol or condemn by the Lump, and when they are resolved to hate, must find no Reasons to extenuate their Hatred; no more than their Admiration, when bent upon admiring.
Thus I have seen Wretches the most abject, vicious and silly, idolized; and Men of the most elevated Capacity, virtuous and accomplished, exposed to the Detestation and Reproach of Fools; seen a Fellow, hardly rational, canonized by the Populace for being their Enemy, and an Incendiary; seen one of the grearest Lights of the Age, venerable for his Piety, admired for his Knowledge and Charity, threatened with the Justice of a mad Mob, or with Fire and Faggot; seen a Friend and an Ornament to human Kind, unpopular, in Disgrace and Danger; and a common Disturber, whose Zeal was Lunacy, caressed and adored. Was Mr. Locke, that great Master of Reason, that Light shining amongst Men, that Friend to Conscience and civil Liberty, ever half so popular as many little dirty Dabblers in Party, who had no other Merit than that of promoting Ignorance, Strife, and Disorder? Or, would the ablest and worthiest Man in England carry an Election, by the Strength of his Character, against a popular Fool?
This is terrible and discouraging, a huge Obstruction to all Virtue, to Truth, and Morality. Party Zeal acquires Reputation, even where common Honesty, and common Sense, are wanting; and Attachment to Party is Honesty, and all things. Strange Perversion of Order and Truth, that Men should be deemed Honest without Morality! To be Honest is, with Party, to be of it; and nothing more is required. Thus, very contemptible and very wicked Men make a Figure in Party, and are esteemed by it; since Sense and Honesty are not required, nor any thing else but Zeal; and such Zeal being generally blind, the less Sense, the more Zeal; and Zeal is an Atonement for the want of Morality, and every good Quality.
Party Principles are therefore substituted for moral Principles; the sure way to destroy all Morality, and to confound the Characters of Men, and even those of Good and Evil. In truth, Morality, with Sense, is the only true Standard of Popularity, and the only just Recommendation to it. A virtuous Man can never endanger Liberty, nor hurt Society; nor is a wicked Man ever to be trusted with the Support of either. Yet from this Spirit, this baneful and pestilent Spirit of Party, the ablest and best Men are often precluded from the Service of their Country; the weakest, the worst, and most contemptible, employed in its Service; and the best Men often forced from that Service, to make room for the worst.
Lucullus, one of the greatest Men in Rome, a Man of approved Ability and Honour, was berest of public Employments, though he had sustained them with great Dignity and Worth, greatly to his own Honour, greatly to the Glory and Emolument of Rome; whilst Gabinius, an Upstart, of vile Manners, venal, corrupt, and abandoned, was raised to high Dignities, and all public Lustre: But he was a Creature of Cæsar’s, who then led the People by bribing and flattering them, and thence raised and depressed whom he would. The People were then his Tools, and he afterwards made them his Slaves: They might thank themselves, and could expect no better; though this excuses not him. They believed that all his Views, all his Measures, were for their Honour and Advantage; and for him deserted all their best Friends, who failed not to warn them against the Fate, to which they were hurrying full speed and blindfold; a Race which quickly and naturally ended in Servitude.
Whilst, under this Infatuation, they were hoisting up Cæsar, and his Followers, to all public Honours and Commands, that is, sortifying Him against Themselves; so great a Patriot as Cato, so sincerely attached to their Interest, striving only for the Preservation and Stability of their State, and opposing terrible Innovations, and general Ruin, was never suffered to arrive at the Consulship: Even in gaining subordinate Offices, he met with great Difficulty and Opposition, from the same Spirit of Party and Seduction.
Cicero would not have arrived so soon (if ever) at the supreme Magistracy, had it not been for the terrible Danger then threatening Rome from the Conspiracy of Catiline; a Conjuncture when the great Abilities and Virtue of Cicero were so necessary to save it. In that Conspiracy, which aimed at a general Revolution, and, in order to it, meant to proceed by Conflagration, Massacre, and universal Desolation, some of the great Idols and Leaders of the People were engaged; though Cicero and the Senate thought it not safe to mention them, lest such potent Criminals, once rendered desperate, might have proved an Over-match for their Judges, and public Justice. Yet such Criminals continued afterwards the Idols of the People, who are too apt to credit none but such as they have ever most Reason to suspect, their own Favourites and Demagogues; nor to open their Eyes, till they open them in Chains and Torments.
The Romans, when corrupted from their original Simplicity and Innocence, split into Factions; and, being incensed and governed by ambitious Leaders, generally preferred the most furious and abandoned Candidates to the most innocent and virtuous. Thus they chose, for one of their Tribunes, the wild and bloody Saturninus, in Opposition to Aulus Numius, a Man eminent for Virtue and Integrity; nay, drove the latter first from the Assembly to his own House; then pulled him out, and butchered him(a) . Such was their Complaisance, and mad Zeal for that execrable Incendiary, the Author of such Outrages and Bloodshed.
It was a sad Presage of the Fall of Rome, when all Regard for Integrity and Virtue was gone; when wicked Men swayed all Things, and conferred all Offices; when the Worthy and Accomplished were rejected, only for being worthy and accomplished; when the Worthless and Abandoned were preferred, merely because they were worthless and abandoned; when such an excellent Person as Lucius Lentulus the Priest of Mars, was disappointed of the Consulship by such a worthless Competitor as Afranius; and when such a Wretch as Gabinius, above-mentioned, vicious and infamous as he was, obtained that important Trust. The Reason was, that Lentulus loved his Country: Afranius and Gabinius were the Tools, the abandoned Agents, of Cæsar and Pompey. Gabinius was afterwards condemned as a public Thief, in spight of all the Power and Interposition of his Masters, and banished; till Cæsar, having usurped the Power of Rome, recalled him, as one fit to be employed in his Service and Cause. Cicero reckons Lentulus happy, to have been snatched away, by Death, from being a Witness of the Destruction of his Country, which he dearly loved.
Even the pestilent Catiline had the Confidence to stand for the Consulship, and no small Hopes of carrying it. For he was exceeding popular at Rome, even whilst he was exerting all his Might and Malice to destroy the Roman State, and all the best Men in it.
There is another Consideration, which shews the Spirit of Party to be a most pernicious and lamentable Thing; namely, how much it shakes and lessens the Integrity of Men, otherwise virtuous and honest. Caius Gracchus, so remarkable for the Severity of his Manners, fond of being called the Defender of the Laws, and an avowed Enemy to all who attempted to hurt public Liberty, observed a scandalous Neutrality and Silence, upon an Inquiry into the Death of Scipio his Brother-in-law, and the most illustrious Roman of his Time, found murdered in his Bed; a Fate which Gracchus was supposed to have procured him, as an Enemy to his Schemes and Innovations.
The Athenians, animated by their Orators, who were eternally raising in that City Flames and Ferments, doomed to Execution Six of their own Commanders, even after the Merit of a noble Victory won by them; because a sudden Tempest had made it impossible for them to bury the Bodies of their Slain. This was a copious Topic for these hot Haranguers; a fine Theme for inflaming the People!—‘How! the brave Soldiers, who generously ventured their Lives, and sacrificed them for their Country; they who died conquering; by their Lives had gained Victory; by Victory had secured the State, and honoured it; to be deprived of the Rites of Funeral, the last and common Office of Humanity, often granted even by Enemies; to be denied it by their own Commanders, who, by the Blood of those public Martyrs, had purchased their own Laurels; yet suffered their Coarses, stiff and cold, to lie naked and neglected, exposed to Air, and Beasts of Prey!’—This, probably, was the Style in which they declaimed; and this was enough for the Populace, who were too much heared to hear more than one Side, with Patience; and, therefore, condemned the Innocent, as it were, unheard. For their Plea, though the best in the World, and the truest, was not regarded. They, indeed, were afterwards convinced of their Error and Injustice, and punished some of these prating Demagogues; but it was impotent Justice, and done to the Injured when they were dead. How the same People treated many of their best Citizens, particularly Socrates, the Ornament of their State, with many of their Philosophers and Heroes, all at the Instigation of their Declaimers and Factionists; how they abused the Ostracism, a good Institution in itself, intended for a Remedy against over-powerful and dangerous Subjects, but serving often as a Snare to the best; would be too tedious here to relate.
Party infers public Weakness: Its devilish Spirit, and sirange Blindness: What public Ruin it threatens: The People rarely interested in it; yet how eager and obstinate in it, and bewitched by it.
WHATEVER tends to break Union, and to create Divisions in Society, calls for early Prevention or Removal: Since Unity is Strength; Weakness attends Discord; Desolation often follows both. Indeed, where Parties prevail, the Good of the Whole is little regarded, often postponed and sacrificed; and, whilst each Side pretends to be the only Friends to the Public, both Sides are Enemies to it. Nor Pompey, nor Cæsar, nor the Followers of the Fortune of either, were Friends to Rome; for both had Aims destructive to the Liberty of Rome. The only true Friends to Rome were They who opposed the Power and ambitious Pursuits of both Pompey and Cæsar, and were for preserving their State in its original Freedom, and Independence upon particular Men.
All who follow the Leaders of Parties, are generally lost to the Whole: So that, where the Following on each Side is great, as in the Contention between Marius and Sylla, Cæsar and Pompey, the Leader whose Party prevails is Master of All: For one Party, in order to depress and vanquish the other, for the most part, raise their Chief so high, and invest him with so much Power, that he is Master of them, before they (or rather he) can master the other. They sell themselves to Slavery, that the others may be Slaves: The lower he lays his Enemies, the more Power he has over his Friends; and for having well revenged their Quarrel, founded too often on mere Chimera, or Folly, naturally becomes their Tyrant. Thus Cæsar enslaved his own Party, as well as that of Pompey; just what Pompey would have done, with equal Power and Success. Under the Reigns of the following Cæsars, did there any Distinction continue between the Party of Cæsar and that of Pompey? No: All were Slaves; and Slavery had soon put an End to the Parties themselves, even to that which had chiefly introduced Slavery. Nor could such as were obnoxious to these Tyrants, save themselves by any Merit of their Forefathers, in espousing and advancing the Interest of the first Tyrant.
So much do Parties gain, by adhering implicitly to ambitious Leaders, (as, in truth, all such Leading implies Ambition) and by pursuing Revenge towards each other. One Party cannot ruin the other, without ruining themselves. This terrible Event their own Obstinacy and Passion keeps them from seeing; or, if they see it, they venture it, and generally bring it about.
There is something devilish and horrible in the Spirit and Rage of Party; even universal Distress at home, even inevitable Destruction from abroad, cannot always cure or allay it. The Jews, during the Siege of Jerusalem by Titus Vespasian, instead of taking Warning, and uniting upon so terrible an Emergency, continued their furious Divisions to the last. They were butchering one another, when the Enemy was entering to butcher them all. They were contending, forsooth, about Priority, what Faction should be uppermost, what Leader should prevail, with the Romans at their Gates, prepared to make them all Victims or Captives. When the Turk invested Constantinople, Factions were raging in it, and raged to the last, till the grand Enemy mastered the City, and all its Factions. It is exceeding likely, that these Factions hated one another more heartily than they did the Turk, till the heavy Rod of his Tyranny taught them how foolish, how wicked, they had been, thus to hate and persecute and distress one another, and thence accelerate that Tyranny. They could then see clearly, what they could not, or rather would not, see before, that by seeking to destroy their Opponents, and exalt themselves, they invited and hastened their Own Destruction, and Universal Destruction.
It is extremely strange, and a great Reflection upon rational Beings, that the Majority in Parties seldom know the Reason why they thus hate and mortify one another. By-words, and Sounds, Names, Persons, Modes, and Colours, controul and incense them. They love John: Why? Because he hates Thomas; and they do not love Thomas, because he does not love John. Ask them, Why they thus love and hate these Men, more than other Men? the Answer is, That they are very good, or very bad Men. Ask them, How do they know? They will tell you, That they have been told so. Who told them? Their Leader, or his Creatures; that is, such who study to deceive them. Thus both Sides reason, and seldom can reason better.
Thus a Country comes to be rent into Factions; thus Factions hate one another implicitly, and shun one another like Plagues; find Nick-names for one another, then love or detest these Nick-names, and all that bear them; herd in Cabals, there chiefly to extol their own Side, and abuse the other; to adore their own Chiess as Demigods, to revile the opposite as Demons: They consider the different Party as determined Enemies, then abhor and curse them as such. For it is natural to grow Enemies to our Enemies; and, against an Enemy, every thing is lawful, all sorts of Falshood, Calumny, and Violence. The famous French League, when they had agreed, in a Consultation, to seize the King, to murder the Ministers, and to massacre all who, without regard to Parties, adhered to the public Weal, further agreed to charge the Hugonots with all this Wickedness and Butchery, and thence take Occasion to butcher them too. For whatever the Leaders and Priests gave out, the Populace greedily believed.
When Parties are thus formed, the Spirit of Strife is easily kept up, or rather hard to be extinguished: Accidents fall in to heighten it; Competition for Place and Power, Lyes and Misrepresentations all readily believed, Ignorance never to be cured, Mistakes not to be removed, with the wild Power of Carousals and strong Liquor, or of Superstition, stronger than either. Thenceforward, any mischievous and senseless Cant passes for Argument and Reason; Positions, the most wicked and absurd, for wise and wholsome Conclusions; and the grossest Stupidity, for profound Policy. Faction grows their Delight, the Burden and Subject of Conversation; and they form regular Meetings, and Clubs, to improve themselves in Faction, which becomes their grand Pursuit and Pleasure, to the Bane of Society, of Peace, and Charity.
All Men pretend to love their Country: Surely this is a preposterous Proof of it, this blowing up the Fires of Party, this animating and perpetuating Divisions, which are certainly mischievous to every Country, oftentimes fatal and destructive. They who truly love their Country, will naturally cultivate Concord, and labour to promote its Strength, by procuring its Peace. A Country divided against itself, cannot stand; nor a Country well united, fall. Has a Domestic Enemy an Ambition to usurp the Government? His surest means will be to create Strife, to raise Divisions and Animosities, daily to widen them, and to keep them from healing. These are the Measures which he will take to succeed: Thus Cæsar acted, and thus he succeeded. Does a Foreign Enemy study to invade and inslave a Nation? He will pursue the same Steps. Thus Philip of Macedon was continually embroiling, and consequently weakening, the State of Greece, in order to enthral them: He too succeeded.
How came the Romans to invade the antient Britons? Doubtless, encouraged by their many Parties continually jarring and attacking one another. Probably some of the weaker Factions amongst them, to be revenged on the stronger, invited over the common Enemy. How happened the Romans to subdue, so totally, a People so warlike and brave? Certainly by the same Means, their endless Animosities and Parties.(a) Being eternally at Variance, they never exerted the national Strength, and thus were conquered Piece-meal. In like manner the Gauls were subdued by the same Invaders; in like manner were the Germans; and in like manner will all Nations be liable to be subdued, as many (perhaps, the most) have been.
One would think it an easy Matter to persuade the People to Union and Reconciliation, from Motives of common Security and Interest. They cannot enjoy Place nor Preferment; their only reasonable Aim therefore is Liberty and Protection, with the Advantages and Blessings naturally flowing from these. It becomes them, too, to be jealous of these, and, upon Occasion, bravely to defend them. And Spirit, thus far shewn and exerted, is Zeal, not Faction. But the Misehief is, that by the Artifices and Influence of their Leaders, they are often brought into Measures pernicious to themselves, and baneful to their Liberties; as in the Instances of Cæsar, Pisistratus, and the Duke of Guise. Have we not here in England seen them adoring wretched Demagogues, who were professedly leading them into Chains, and openly haranguing in Behalf of public Bondage? Was not this infamous Blindness and Phrensy? Was it not a Renouncing of their Reason and their Eyes? A little Attention to their own Condition and Interest, a short Examination of the fashionable Opinions, would have discovered these Darlings, these revered Guides of theirs, to have been their mortal Enemies, Impostors worthier of a Gibbet than of Incense.
But the People seldom go to the Bottom and Reason of things, seldom deeper than Shell and Sound. They want Patience and Attention; yet a very Little would serve them, if they would but exercise that Little. If Men of different Parties would but meet and confer cooly, they would hardly fail to agree. But, full of Heat and Prepossession, they hate to meet; or, when they do, instead of reasoning, scold and rail; perhaps, fight. Each Partizan is sure, that he is in the right; and so remains Proof against all new Light and Information. Each protests he means well, and aims at Truth. Perhaps too he does, but misses it by concluding, that he has got it; and, each believing the other a great Knave, (for so Parties almost universally treat one another) they never can come to a candid Conference, nor compare their Thoughts and Aims, which would be found reconcilable enough, were they but mutually known, and candidly construed.
How sternly have I seen two Men, of opposite Parties, stare at one another as Monsters, when, upon the Whole, they differed very little otherwise than in Sounds and Jargon, and in mistaking one another! But the Fewd was to be kept up for the Ends of their Leaders, and they were still destined to live at a Distance, and in mutual Hate: For, were they to have met, they might have explained; and had they explained, they might have agreed. An Event terrible to Demagogues, and therefore to be avoided with Care! else the poor People might be silly enough to grow Wise and Charitable, and to want no Leaders.
Important Facts, and essential Principles, are commonly urged as the Cause of public Divisions. This is generally Grimace, and seldom true. It is certain, that these are always pretended, and thrown out as Baits. But the genuine Strife, amongst the many, is, for the most part, about Names and Men, Marius and Sylla; the Red Rose and the White. What Combustion and Faction, what Bloodshed and Battles, formerly between the Houses of York and Lancaster, each telling a plausible Tale, each claiming Right and Preference, or complaining of Injury and Expulsion? What then? All this, indeed, might affect a few Men of Ambition; but the chief Concern of the People was, Which proved a bad, or which a good King? As to their Primogeniture and Descent, these were Matters of Speculation, fit to be discussed by Lawyers and Genealogists. If the People were well protected, the People need look no further. He who proved a good King, might well be deemed a lawful King: He who declared himself above or against Law, was to be presumed void of Right. He is the Usurper, who reigns by Power against Law: He who deposes him, and squares his Power by the Law, is rightful King. They therefore are the Rebels, who adhere to a Prince, who, in a free Country, would be absolute, let his Genealogy be ever so long, his Succession ever so uninterrupted. No Man’s Race gives him a Right to commit Violence; no Man has a Title to do Injustice: No Man therefore can succeed to a Title which is not.
Are there any Bounds to the Will of Princes? If there be, is it not unjust to break these Bounds? Is it not also just to defend them, and to drive away whoever would destroy them? Are there no Bounds to the Will, and Folly, and Cruelty of a Prince? If there be not, why do we talk of Liberty and Law, of our Birthright and Constitution, or of Breaches committed upon it? A King and Parliament may indeed err; but are they more likely to err, than those Kings who would have no Parliaments, purely because they would err, and would not be controuled by Parliaments, nor have their Errors examined or mended? They who justify any of our Kings, who assumed a Power to dispense with Laws, must justify that dispensing Power, and averr, that we have no Laws but what were at his Mercy, and consequently none, nor therefore Liberty; for, with a Power to dispense with Law, Liberty is utterly inconsistent; and whoever can dispense with Laws, can annul them.
Now, how can such Men, (if there be any such) after this, ever complain, with any Consistency, of Misgovernment, and talk of Danger to Law and Liberty; when, under such a King, there was neither? Have we a Right to these Blessings? Then such a King was an Usurper, and he who deposed him a Deliverer. Have we no Right to them? Then how could we be injured, if they were taken from us? Or, had any King a Right to take them from us? How so? If they belong to us now, they belonged to us then, and always. We are told from the same Quarter, and very truly told, that a Nation deprived of Liberty, is a miserable Nation. Did not their dispensing Kings do this? Then they made, or would have made, this a miserable Nation. How then, and upon what Foot, were they to be again recommended to us? If we were to have them again, we had nothing to do with Liberty: If we claimed Liberty, we had nothing to do with them. The worst that can befal Liberty, is, To be lost. They would have taken it quite away. We have apparently a great deal left; I hope as much as ever we had: We are therefore still a great deal better than under them.
Such Men, therefore, must either give up the Cause of such Kings, or cease to talk of Liberty. They cannot maintain the Cause of both: They are Fire and Water to each other. We can easily remember when, in order to save and recal such a King, they vehemently contended for indefeasible Hereditary Right, for Passive Obedience without Reserve. Did they not then treat Liberty as a Chimera, the Doctrine of Liberty as Sedition, the Defence of Liberty as Rebellion? These were, indeed, Notions terrible to the Public, destructive of all Law, productive of all Tyranny, but truly serviceable to the Interest of that Prince; indeed the only Notions that could serve him. But to contend for Liberty, and mean a dispensing King, or his Cause, was notable Mockery, gross Deceit, and glaring Contradiction. To assert Liberty, in order to support lawless Rule, was to make Liberty unnaturally destroy itself. They must have been extremely stupid, who could not see through such apparent Absurdity.
I am of Opinion, that the People, though not yet free from Party-prejudice and Party-delusions, are yet much cooler and wiser than they were then, at least upon that Head; and would not now run mad after such pernicious Nonsense, after Maxims so pestilent to human Society. In short, none ever swallowed such, except downright Fanatics and Visionaries; none ever propagated such, but Madmen or Impostors. Another way of Thinking now prevails; and therefore the Style of that Party is altered; it is now Liberty, and the Public Good. This is not fair; I doubt it is foolish: Where Liberty is understood and valued, their Idol can never be admitted, nor followed.
Parties are so bewitched to their own Heat and Folly, that they become in Love with it; it grows their daily Theme, and the Pursuit of their Life. Both Sides talk of the Public, and think their own mutual Hate to be Zeal for the Public, whilst they are only weakening and endangering the Public by their eternal Strife. This their Spite to one another, they call Love to their Country. Thus they delude themselves, and often ruin their own private Fortunes to hazard and distress the State, which they imagine themselves to be successfully serving.
Now, when People are thus infatuated, thus drunk with Faction, delighting in Antipathy, and endless Discord, making a Merit of heightening popular Rage and Dissention, what Ear are they likely to afford to Expedients of Peace and Reconciliation? How likely to treat one who studies to calm and mediate? At best, it is a thankless Office, oftener provoking and invidious, sometimes dangerous and fatal. There is even Peril in being quiet and neutral. There is always too much Reason for blaming both Sides; yet, whoever does it, instead of reclaiming and convincing them, is more likely to incense them, to be charged, at best, with Lukewarmness, probably with Treachery and Desertion.
Such was the Situation of Cicero, who dreaded both Cæsar and Pompey; and only followed the latter, because he had some sort of Obligation to him, and believed him the less dangerous Tyrant of the two, as having, indeed, inferior Power and Talents. But though he saw the wrong Measures of Pompey, and foresaw the sad Consequences, he could not avoid following him. When the thing was gone so far, and Parties already drawn out, as it were, against each other, no Man, at least no Man of Name, was suffered to be his own Master, or Director. The Weight of others, and the Power of Faction, must then draw him headlong(a) .
Thus Men come at last to be so involved, that they are sometimes forced to wish for the very Thing which they had at first, and all along, dreaded; as Cicero, at last, wished Success to Cæsar, whom he had so much feared and opposed; for that, having left the opposite Party, he was terribly threatened by them, as were all others, against whom they had the same Objection: Nay, that Party were already sharing, amongst themselves, the Estates and Palaces of all such as joined not with them. Hence Cicero found it perilous, even to be civilly treated by Cæsar. Great, therefore, was his Perplexity, how to behave towards and between the two contending Chiefs: If he followed Pompey, ‘From that Quarter, says he, I foresee, with Horror, a mighty War, most sanguinary and ardent. What terrible Vengeance threatened against the municipal Cities! with an equal Portion against particular Men by Name; nay, against all such as followed him not! How often is he heard to repeat, Such was the Power of Sylla; shall not I shew equal Power?’ In another Place, the same great Author says, ‘Shall I, whom some call the Preserver of Rome, bring against her a Host of barbarous Getes, of Barbarians from Armenia and Colchos? Shall I bring Famine upon my Fellow-Citizens? Shall I bring Desolation upon Italy?’
Such mournful Discouragements he found on the Part of Pompey: And then from Cæsar, whom he treats as ‘an open Tyrant, raging with Ambition; as an abandoned Traitor, a notorious Parricide;’ what could he foresee, what expect, but utter Dissolution and Misrule? They both meditated to plunder and exhaust the World, thence to reward their rapacious Adherents. Cæsar particularly was attended by a dreadful Train and Conflux of Profligates, by all the Desperate and Debauched(a) .
To such a forlorn Crew, the Tumult of Parties was expedient and natural; and public Tranquillity and Concord, matter of Sorrow and Despair. But for the State, for the Body of the People, and for all the Honest, the Industrious and Substantial, a different Situation is necessary. To these, Peace and Unity are perpetual Blessings: By entertaining and encouraging a contrary Spirit, they fight against their own Interest, and are only serving the Purposes of such as deserve Gaols and Gibbets. When Liberty and Property are safe, none but the Desperate and Ambitious can find their Account in Faction, which is always hurtful to those who are neither animated by Ambition nor Despair. When Liberty and Property are attacked, all Men ought to rouse; and then it is not Faction, but Necessity, common Consent and Self-defence.
It is indeed lamentable, that Men, whose common Interest is mutual Good-will and Harmony, should divide, and quarrel, and hate one another, merely because the Leaders and Instruments of Faction find it conducing to their own Self-Ends to set them at Variance. Are not these their common Enemy? Surely they are. Yet they are treated as their Benefactors and Darlings. For, the Moment that Party-heat seizes them, they are blind; so blind, that one of them reckons not a foreign Invader half so terrible as his next Neighbour, who, perhaps, never hurt him, and has nothing terrible about him but an obnoxious Name; which Name too was given him, and derives its Terror, only from Prejudice and Opinion. Yet to grieve this supposed Enemy, and to be revenged upon him, without having been ever injured by him, he is ready to call in a real Enemy, whose Drift is to destroy both.
Are there some Men angry, because they are not in Power? What is that to the Nation, if other Men do as well there? Are some Men zealous to keep their Employments, and to disappoint their Rivals? This too is natural, and why should it offend the People, if it hurt not the Public? Let them contend together: What is all this to the People, who cannot occupy Place, nor enjoy Titles, and therefore ought not to involve themselves in the Contention, or in any Contention foreign to their own Interest and Stability?
[(a) ]Sero enim resistimus ei, quem, per annos decem, aluimus contra nos. Cic. ad Atr.
[(a) ]Ut cæde integerrimi civis facultas adipiscendi potestatis teterrimo daretur; says Val. Maximus.
[(a) ]In commune non consulunt—dum singuli pugnant, omnes vincuntur.
[(a) ]Non potuisse se, cum cupisset, sermones hominum sustinere.
[(a) ]Cave autem putes (says Cicero to Atticus) quenquam hominem in Italia turpem esse, qui hinc absit.