Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECT. I.: 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. - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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SECT. I.: 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. - 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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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.
[(a) ]Sero enim resistimus ei, quem, per annos decem, aluimus contra nos. Cic. ad Atr.