Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECT. II.: 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 - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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SECT. II.: 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 - 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 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.
[(a) ]Ut cæde integerrimi civis facultas adipiscendi potestatis teterrimo daretur; says Val. Maximus.