Front Page Titles (by Subject) DISCOURSE II.: Of Patriots and Parricides. - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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DISCOURSE II.: Of Patriots and Parricides. - 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 Virtue and Vice, public Services, and public Crimes, may be said to bring their own Rewards.
IN the History of Sallust, and in other Roman Histories, as we are shocked to find so many Parricides, Enemies to their Country, it is a sensible Pleasure to find some, I wish I could say so many, Patriots. I therefore bestow the following Discourse upon these opposite Characters.
Men are so prone to comply with every Temptation to Evil, that the surest Way to escape the latter, is to avoid the former; and rather to distrust their own Virtue, than to stand the Trial. It is certainly safer to fly, than to be overcome. But, as a Man, who would shun all the Baits and Allurements of Vice and Evil, must utterly leave the World, which abounds in little else, he who would secure himself against Corruption, must arm himself with Self-denial, must consider his Innocence above all Price, his Virtue as the highest Acquisition of his Life, the Source of all true Glory, and the surest Pledge of lasting Pleasure and Fame. When all other Pleasures fail, this one is more than an Equivalent for the Loss of the rest; and it is often the Want of this, which creates such an eager Pursuit after other Pleasures, if there can be any, where this is not. These Amusements must surely be, at least, very impotent and defective, which only serve to make Men forget for awhile, that they are not Innocent, nor consequently Happy. In spight of all their Amusements, of all their Efforts to beguile themselves, they have a sore Place about them, which will be continually reviving their Memory, or their Memory the sore Place. What Recompence, what Place, or Wealth, or Power, is equal to this, or can atone for it; atone for perpetual Anguish and Self condemnation?
It will, perhaps, be alleged, that Men grow hardened, and their Hearts callous, and then feel no pungent Horrors, nor any Horror, for Iniquity and Baseness. I doubt this is not their Case. Habit may sear and deprave them in some measure, probably in a great measure; but, I believe, never beyond Feeling. I never knew a Man, nor heard of a Man, quite so abandoned, as to speak ill of Honour and Honesty; even the worst Men pretend to some Degree of it, and sometimes exercise it: All of them would be proud of a good Reputation; nor can any of them be absolutely indifferent what all others say of them. I have known Men, notoriously abandoned and decried, make great Court to Men of opposite and approved Characters, when by such Court they could propose no Advantage, but that of gaining some Esteem, by conversing with such as had a great deal.
Men therefore, the most hardened and corrupt Men, would rather be thought virtuous than wicked, honest than unjust; and, perhaps, wish themselves so; would rather chuse to hide their evil Doings than have them exposed, even where the Discovery is attended with no other Penalty than that of Censure and Dispraise. Even Nero and Tiberius had such Reserves, were anxious to conceal their secret Guilt, and mortified when it became exposed. It is, indeed, agreeable to the Idea of God and a Providence, that wicked Men should be haunted with the Terrors of their Enormities, and never taste of Happiness, though ever hunting after it; and that Innocence, however persecuted or threatened, should be attended with Pleasure(a) .
That Men become hardened and insensible to a certain Degree, is undoubtedly true; else, after the first Compunction, which, I believe, naturally follows Crimes, they would not, at least wantonly, repeat them. But even this Insensibility is a terrible Curse and Misfortune; worse than natural Stupidity, or Lunacy. Who would chuse, or rather, who would not dread, such a Turn of Spirit, as weaned him from all Good, and the Paths of Praise, and hurried him continually after Evil and Infamy? For, Infamy will ever be the Issue and Reward of Evil; and Facts will, first or last, appear through all false Colours and Disguises.
A Man would therefore love and pursue Virtue, hate and shun Vice, for his own Sake, since he is sure of a Reward, such a Reward as all the Powers, all the Acquisitions of the World, cannot bestow, even Consciousness of Innocence, and an Heart upright and easy: And the more extensive his Virtue, the more extensive his Happiness. Does he hurt none, and help some? He is a good Man, and happy. Does he assist many, and still injure none? He is more happy. Is he just to Particulars, and also serviceable to All? Does he love his Country, and pursue its Welfare, with all his Might and Zeal? Who can be more happy? He is happy, though he should miscarry; for, having done his best, and faithfully discharged his Duty, he has the Approbation of his own Conscience, with the Applause of all worthy Men. Is any Reward equal to this Reward?
I have therefore always admired, as well as reverenced, the Characters of Patriots; Men of great and good Minds, Friends to Society and to human Kind, Lovers of Liberty and their Country, Enemies to Oppressors and Oppression, and Guardians of public Virtue, and the public Weal. These are the Men who have an unquestionable Title to the Favours and Blessings of the whole Race; nor can there be a greater Reproach upon the World, than that such Men have not been always well used in it. He who loves, and studies to serve All, merits that All should love and serve him. But, as we often see Men oppose their own Good, and flight and abuse their Benefactors, the Patriot has seldom competent Encouragement or Success. Such as have different Hearts and Views, will hate and decry him; and it is likely there will be many such. These, following their natural Bent of Malignity and Falshood, and pursuing a wicked End, will not spare wicked Arts and Means to obtain it. By such Arts and Industry, they will gain Belief and Followers. Malice is more active than Innocence; the latter is apt to confide in itself, which ought, indeed, to be a sure Guard, but is not always so; whilst the former seeks all Supports, and employs every base Artifice. Hence Virtue comes to suffer, being first misrepresented, then persecuted, at last oppressed. Hence it is, that the false Patriot is often more successful and popular than the true, and often triumphs over him.
Still this hinders not, but that Virtue is ever the best Choice. Who would not rather be a Cicero, even in Exile, than a Clodius his Enemy, though triumphing over that virtuous Roman? An Algernoon Sydney, sentenced to die for the everlasting Principles of Truth and Liberty, than a Jefferies, infamously exalted to the Tribunal of Justice, and pronouncing that wicked Sentence?
A suffering Patriot more happy than a successful Parricide: Public Oppressors always unhappy.
MODERN History hardly knows a more venerable Name than that of John Barnevelt, that good Dutchman and Patriot, to whom his Country owed so much. Yet, notwithstanding his great Virtues, his great Services, and his great Age, he had his venerable Head severed from his Body, by a prevailing Faction, who confidently charged him with a Design to betray his Country; when it was apparent, that his great, indeed his only Crime, was, that of serving it too well, and for opposing a wicked Scheme to enslave it.
As he had acted righteously, and died innocent, his End was glorious; and, though his Death was tragical, he was, in one Sense, much less to be lamented, than the venal and guilty Parricides, who murdered him, under the Name of Law, and sacrificed him, and their Consciences, to their own corrupt Ends, and to the Ambition of Prince Maurice: That Prince, who was openly aspiring to enthrall those free Provinces, must needs destroy Barnevelt, his old faithful Friend and Counsellor, as his great Obstacle. Never was honester or wiser Advice, than that good Patriot gave the Prince upon that Occasion: But Ambition had blinded him to all Truth, Reason, and Gratitude, and even to his own Happiness and Interest. Thinking, therefore, that he had sufficiently strengthened himself with a Party of Men fit for such a Trust; that is to say, with Men abundantly profligate and abandoned, he deceived Barnevelt, caressed him, and destroyed him: For Ambition had taught him Falshood, as well as Ingratitude and Cruelty; nor could there be blacker Ingratitude.
Barnevelt was, indeed, the Author and Instrument of his Elevation and Power; and had been the constant Friend and Counsellor of Prince William his Father. Upon the Assassination of this great Prince, when Men were seized with a general Panic, and, seeing themselves bereft of their great Protector and Support, were even deliberating about accepting the Amnesty offered them by their old Enemy the King of Spain, Barnevelt animated them, and recalled their Courage: He told them, that he knew one fit to fill and sustain the Place of the late Prince; and recommended to them Prince Maurice his Son, then studying at Leyden. Thus, by the Counsel and Friendship of this worthy Man, he was taken from a College, and put at the Head of a State, and of Armies.
Had he not Cause to treat him as his Father and Benefactor? He did so for a while, till Ambition changed and mastered him. He afterwards hated Barnevelt, because Barnevelt would not compliment him with the Liberty of his Country. He was so drunk and enchanted with this Passion, to rule without Controul, that he, at last, seemed to think all Art and Dissimulation needless; and went openly from City to City, attended by armed Men, changing their Magistrates by plain Force; by Force abolishing their antient Institutions; and setting up Creatures and Ordinances of his own.
Now what was the Issue to Prince Maurice? What did he gain by all this Violence and Injustice; by destroying or displacing the best Men, and employing the worst, in order to enslave all? He missed his great Point; he suffered the Shame of being defeated in his evil Purpose; he had a thousand Acts of Injustice to reproach his own Heart withal; he had dispatched, removed, and provoked, all his old Friends, and was thwarted and disappointed by his new; he lost that Popularity which had always followed the House of Orange, and had been personal to himself, whilst he was only serving and protecting his Country; and he was now become the Object of popular Jealousy and Hate: He found an universal Coldness; and, instead of being followed by Crouds, as formerly, with kind Looks and Praises, saw himself shunned with all the Marks of Neglect, Resentment, Distrust, and Scorn.
The Tide of popular Passion, whether it be Love or Hate, is apt suddenly to turn upon any great Instance of Cruelty or Mercy. Prince Maurice, from being greatly beloved and applauded, lost at once the Hearts of his Countrymen, by the unjust Doom of Barnevelt, and by his other arbitrary Proccedings. Whilst the late King James was yet beloved, at least not disliked, and whilst the Nation still manifested great Loyalty to his Person, and was really averse to Rebellion; the brutal and sanguinary Behaviour of Jefferies in the West, and his Barbarities to the Followers of Monmouth, made a sudden and terrible Change in the Affections of the People. They began to pity the Sufferers; and, from Pitying to Approving, the Transition is sometimes very quick, especially, amongst the Populace. Besides, in proportion to such Pity was their Aversion; first to the Judge, at last to the King.
Such is the natural Effect of using Power wantonly, and of grasping at too much. There could not be wilder Infatuation, than of Prince Maurice: In labouring to seize the Sovereignty, he laboured to make himself unhappy; to destroy his present Credit, Popularity, and Ease; and so far his Labours were successful. He was, in effect, Sovereign already: He was Captain General: He was Admiral General; that is, Commander in chief by Sea and Land: He created all Governors; he distributed all military Charges: Even in creating Civil Magistrates, he had the last Choice; and, out of Three Candidates, who were presented to him, selected one: He enjoyed all the Power and Privileges that ever the antient Counts of Holland enjoyed, all that the Dukes of Burgundy, nay, all that Charles the Emperor enjoyed: He pardoned all Crimes, and was chargeable with no Punishment.
All this Power, with the intire Affections of the People, was not enough for this Prince; though full as much as mortal Man can discharge or enjoy. For the fantastical and false Splendor of a Name, he forfeited the public Affection, and entailed Unhappiness, and popular Hate, upon his remaining Years. The same Madness has possessed many other Princes, and the same Misery followed it.
Prince Maurice had the Mortification to see even his own Cabal, Fellows whom he had picked out as fit to betray their Country, and sell it to Slavery, disappoint and oppose him. These, when they saw themselves uppermost, and possessed of Places, by the Murder and Removal of their Antagonists, began to adhere to the Constitution. They were then for securing That which would best secure Themselves; and, as they had been wicked Traitors for him, became just Traitors to him. May it ever fare so, with such Men, and such Designs!
It is natural, indeed too natural, for Men to grasp at enormous Power. Is it not as natural for other Men, who would suffer by it, to oppose it? What is the true, the reasonable Purpose and Use of Power, but the Good and Protection of Men? They who only aimed to protect, would seek no more than is necessary for Protection; nor would they care how much they were limited from hutting; nay, would desire to be so limited: But the Truth is, that, in the Pursuit of Power, Men generally consider Themselves only: Should not They, over whom that Power is sought, consider Themselves, too? They ought, indeed, to beware of all aspiring Men: It is seldom for their sakes that such Men aspire; especially, if such a Man will be seeking such Power, as evidently tends to injure, to oppress, and destroy them, they ought to believe that he means it; and, from that Moment, look upon him as an Enemy.
He will, no doubt, disavow any such Design: And who is it that ever does avow any such, even when it is most apparent? All Traitors and Usurpers make fair Professions, and labour to hide their wicked Views; and they who would oppress, will certainly deceive. Even Catiline pretended to love, nay, to serve his Country, when he was going to destroy it. Spurius Melius, by bestowing on the Roman People great Quantities of Corn, in a Time of great Scarcity, was far enough from confessing to them, that he was thus purchasing Dominion over them; though this was manifestly his Drift; and he therefore became their Benefactor, that he might be their Tyrant. Cromwell, that mighty Champion against Monarchy, assumed more Power, than any of our Kings ever had enjoyed, purely to keep us from the terrible Power of Kings. He, good Man! aimed at none, but just what was necessary to preserve public Peace; that is, just as much as he pleased and wanted, enough to put Chains upon Three Kingdoms.
This Reasoning of Cromwell’s was as solid, and full as modest, as that of the Court, after the Restoration; when unlimited Power was claimed to the King, as necessary to save the Nation from relapsing into a Commonwealth, or falling under another Usurper. As if the greatest Curse that could possibly have befallen the Public, had been preferable to one that could not possibly be greater: I will go further, and venture to say, that if such a Calamity had been inevitable, and either King Charles or Oliver must sway the Sceptre uncontrouled, Oliver had been infinitely the better and wiser Choice, as a superior Genius, endowed with more Virtues, and better Principles. An Usurper is not the less one, for haveing been once a lawful King; for every lawful King grows an Usurper, when he assumes what is none of His.
Men often find, even in this Life, a proper, though not a complete Retribution for their Actions; besides that which arises from their own Conscience, which is the strongest and most sensible of all. Prince Maurice had served his Country with great Bravery and Success; and his Recompence was noble: He reaped great Glory and Fame, with public Applause, and all the most glaring and substantial Dignities of the State; nor, with Safety to their Liberties, which that People had so dearly purchased, could they give him more: And was not all that they could give him, Reward enough for doing his Duty? He thought not; but, it had been better for him that he had. If he had gained his Ends, he would have been miserable, because his Ends were wicked; nor could he have expected any thing from this Success but Vexation and Sorrow. But he miscarried; and, from thence, reaped Vexation and Sorrow, in such Abundance, as consumed his Life, as well as his Peace, and embittered and shortened his Days. Different and better was the End of Barnevelt: And, again I repeat it, he died gloriously, because he died for his Country.
To save and serve their Country, is the Duty of all Men. Or if it be just to reward Men who do so, as it certainly is; yet, surely, they must not be left to measure their own Reward: If they be, the Experience of all Times will shew, that Men, upon such Occasions, are not very modest. Some have thought the whole Country no more than a proper Recompence for their Services to it; and, to prove what faithful Servants they have been, and are, to the Public, have made themselves Masters of it.
There have never, in truth, been greater Pests and Felons to their Country, than such as it had most distinguished and ennobled with its highest Dignities. How could such Men afterwards have the Face to complain of Ingratitude, or even of Conspiracies against them, when they had proved the most ungrateful of all Men, and Conspirators against all Men? How could they bear any poor Criminal, who had transgressed for Bread, to suffer, without Shame and Sympathy? Is not a Fellow who robs and binds particular Persons, through Indigence, more intitled to Pity, and Excuses, and Pardon, than one who is already possessed of Preferments and Plenty, yet plunders and oppresses a Nation; that very Nation, to whom he owes his Exaltation, and all Things; yet, from being its Servant, would make himself its Master?
Such a Servant to his Country was Prince Maurice. It is very probable he had no such Design at first: But Power is apt to turn the Head; nor can the Man who has it, trust his own Heart; much less ought the People to trust him; I mean, implicitly. The Passions of Men are progressive; and Ambition was never reckoned the tamest and most moderate Passion. That Prince had, at first, full as much as he could hope for, and, perhaps, for a while, wished for no more; but, finding the States a Check upon him, he grew uneasy under that Check; then wanted to get rid of it. The People, long oppressed and exhausted by War, wanted Peace, which was offered them: He wanted perpetual War and Armies, at their Expence, to support his Grandeur and Eclat. He was, therefore, fierce for continuing the War, and implacable to all who opposed him. Hence he meditated the Death of honest Barnevelt, and the Bondage of all.
Barnevelt was, of all Men, the least qualified to comply with Measures so destructive to his Country; a Man who had done so much to make it independent and free, and so long and successfully served it, in so many Negotiations and Employments. He was Keeper of the Seals and Archives, had been trusted with Six important Embassies to several Courts, and near Forty times with Powers to confer with the Generals of the States, and to concert with them the Operations of War; had procured Succours from our Queen Elizabeth to his distressed Country, and brought several great Potentates, England, Denmark, and France, to own the United Provinces for a Free State. He was, indeed, the ablest Dutchman, and the most trusted. His last Words were; ‘I have been, all my Life, my dear Countrymen, your faithful Fellow-Citizen. Do not believe, I beseech you, that I die a Traitor. I die, only for endeavouring to preserve the Liberty of our common Country.’—What a Dagger must such a Speech, from such a Man, on such an Occasion, have been in the Heart of his Enemies? As cruel as they were, methinks, I pity them as miserable Men; and rejoice over the venerable old Martyr and Patriot, perishing for the Cause of Liberty and Virtue!
Cautions against the Arts and Encroachments of Ambition. The Character of a Patriot, and that of a Parricide. How much it is the Duty, how much the Interest, of all Governors to be Patriots.
WHAT a Fund of Evil and Malice lurks in the Heart of Man, when, to the Gratification of his own Vanity, foolish and pernicious Vanity, he can vow and resolve general Havock, and intail the Plague of Servitude upon Generations to come! Such Things Men have actually done to gain Power, nor will they do less to keep it. Yet some of these Men are said to have been merciful and generous: What Mercy have they shewn? Perhaps to a few Parriculars, when they were, at the same time, slaughtering and oppressing Nations. What Generosity? Profuse, it may be, they were to Favourites; whilst, all the while, they were plundering the World.
These are Considerations abundantly strong, to warn Mankind to watch the Movements of Ambition, and, where-ever they grant Power, to grant it with Reserves. No Man who intends only the Good of others, will desire more than is necessary to procure that Good. Power without Bounds has, ever since the Creation, proved the Misery and Bane of human Society, and of human Race. It is, indeed, utterly repugnant and irreconcilable to social Happiness. This is so true, that whoever knows it not, is a Stranger to the past and present State of the World. He, therefore, who loves and pursues it, must have a very weak Head, or a very wicked Heart. The Patriot flies and abhors it. He sees what horrible Ravages it commits; that it subsists upon the Misery and Depression of Men; that it dreads and destroys whatever is amiable, noble, virtuous, and free in the World; that it courts and employs whatever is wicked, mean, deformed, and ruinous; that it has reduced the loveliest Regions of the Earth to Graves and Desarts, and that it has universally the same swift Tendency to lay desolate and destroy.
Is it not just, is it not amiable and glorious, to prevent or remove a Curse so direful and consuming, with such a shocking Complication of Woes? Is it not wicked and execrable, to continue or introduce that Curse, and those Woes? This is the Work and Character of a Parricide; That, of a Patriot; the one, a Friend and Benefactor to his Species; the other, an Enemy and a Deserter; here, an Ornament and Support of human Nature; there, its Disgrace and Betrayer!
Behold Cicero labouring to save the State, excited by universal Benevolence to his Country; emboldened by the Goodness of his Cause, and the Approbation of his Conscience; supporting the Interest of public Liberty, and supported by it; all good Men his Friends and Assistants, and the worst Lot that could befal him, that of suffering, or dying for his Country; either of them a very glorious Lot, far preferable to that of rising or flourishing by its Detriment or Ruin! Is not this a glorious Situation, a virtuous Spirit, a divine Occupation, worthy and secure of immortal Renown?
See Catiline, on the other Side, meditating the Destruction and Slavery of his native City; conscious of his own hideous Guilt, worried by it, restless and desperate; not an honest, not a humane Sentiment in his Heart; his Soul possessed and gnawed by Revenge, and by every depraved and beastly Passion; an Object of Detestation and Hate; abhorred by every virtuous Citizen; followed by none but the Debauched, the Impious and Abandoned, by the Refuse and Dishonour of Rome; nothing before him but a guilty Death, or more guilty Success, with infamy living, and dying, and dead!
The Patriot has always a good Cause, the Cause of his Country and of Mankind, of all others the most important and interesting. His Aim is virtuous, his Ends noble, and therefore all his Pursuits pleasing. The Integrity and laudable Thoughts of his Heart, are a continual Cordial and Support. A Passion for the Public, and the Welfare of Mankind, animates him; the Sense of his Duty fortifies him. He has the Wishes, the Concurrence and Praises of all worthy Men: Opposition from the Vicious and Unworthy, proves a Justification to him, and inspires him with fresh Vigour. His Views are great, benevolent, elevated, even to promote and defend whatever is lovely, righteous, desirable, and praise-worthy in the World; for, the Root of all this is Liberty: Even to oppose and destroy whatever is baneful, odious, wicked, and afflicting amongst Men; for, the certain Cause of all this is Slavery. In such a Cause, it is glorious to succeed; for such a Cause, it is glorious to die. However, therefore, he may be unfortunate, he can never be unhappy.
Opposite to this, and consequently painful and miserable, is the Cause of the Parricide; terrible and loathsome to all good Men, and to himself a continual Source of Fear and Remorse. His Life is a Course of Falshood and Constraint, and therefore of Pain and Care. He must hide his Heart, because its Devices are evil; and for this his Heart must cruelly reproach him. As he hurts, or intends to hurt, all Men, he has Reason to dread all, and to apprehend Destruction from such as he would destroy. Virtuous Men will detest him; innocent Men will not assist him; he cannot trust to the Aid of wicked Men; and such Aid, when he has it, is infamous. Whatever Opposition is made to him, whatever Attempts are made upon him, he cannot complain, be the same ever so subdolous and violent; because all his own Proceedings are violent and deceitful; and whoever unjustly arms himself against Mankind, does but call all Mankind to arm justly against him.
Can such a Man be Happy? Can he have inward Peace, withour which there is no Happiness? Can that Man have Peace, who would ruin his Country, who would destroy Liberty, and, with it, Truth and Virtue? That Man who would establish Thraldom, and, with It, Vileness and Misery? His Ambition does not extinguish his other Passions which thwart it; it only proves his strongest Passion: But still from the rest, though they prevail not, he must find very painful Resistance. Shame, Compunction, and Fear, are all Emotions natural to the human Soul, and have Force enough to shake and rend it; and the Ambitious and Guilty feel them most. If Pleasure naturally attend Acts of Virtue and Benevolence; and if that Pleasure arise in proportion to the Good which is done, or endeavoured; it must be equally natural for Anguish and Bitterness of Soul to follow Deeds of Injustice and Violence; and the more Iniquity, the more Remorse.
Is it Amiable and Praiseworthy to be friendly and kind to Particulars? How much more so is it to be generous to All, to love our Country and Mankind, and to endeavour their Prosperity? Is it Odious and Hard-hearted, to have Pity upon no Man, to assist and relieve none? How much more base and barbarous is it to distress and oppress our Country and all Men, for selfish and wicked Ends of our own; for one Man to reduce all the rest to Chains and Misery, that he may domineer and riot?
Bulion, Treasurer to Lewis XIII. told his Master, who expressed some Tenderness for the poor People, loaded with Taxes, and devoured by Tax-Masters, ‘That they were not yet reduced to cat Grass.’ Certainly Grass, and common Air, was too good for such a venomous Parricide. Was a Creature, with so black a Heart, and so much Malice, fit to be employed by the supreme Governor and Protector of a Nation? For, he who is not the latter, is unworthy to be the former. I do not find, tht he lost his Employment or Favour for this execrable Declaration; whence may be concluded, that a hard Heart was no ill Qualification then in a French Minister of State.
Let a People be used ever so coarsly, and even unmercifully, by their Governors, yet their Governors always expect from the People signal Loyalty and Affection. They must be thankful under Oppression, be pleased with heavy Chains, and kiss the Iron Rod, which, perhaps, is reckoned Sacred and Adorable; whilst it is only employed to terrify, afflict, and kill. I have known Subjects so wretched, so oppressed and squeezed, so pale, starved and naked, that, as their Existence seemed a Burden and a Curse to them, Death would have appeared a Blessing and Relief: Yet their Prince talked much, and gravely, of his Glory, and of the Zeal and Duty of his Subjects: Duty! For what? For making them as miserable as all the Arts and Malice of Blood-suckers could make them? They were, indeed, tame, and stupid, and patient by Force. But Abjectness and Despair deserves not the Name of Duty. Duty ought to be a rational and voluntary Thing, the Effect of Ease, and fatherly Protection. No Man has a Right to expect Tenderness or Regard from me, if he use me cruelly and contemptuously. Governors who treat not their Subjects like Children, cannot expect to be treated by their Subjects as Fathers.
All Governors ought to be Patriots, the best Patriots, and to set a continual Example of Patriotism to others, and to all Men. Without studying the Happiness of others, they cannot hope for any Glory to themselves; and whoever rules without Glory, is not like to escape Infamy. Their highest and purest Glory is the Freedom and Felicity of their People. To procure this, as it is their Duty and best Ambition, ought to be the Study and Business of their Lives. This is their great Point, and, for their own Sakes, they ought to labour it. What else can concern them so much, and so nearly? No Power is otherwise laudable, than from the Good which it does. Where it does none, it is contemptible; where it does Evil, it is detestable; and is then only lovely, when it blesses, protects, and saves. It is like Fire and Water, two great Benefits to the World, when properly applied, and confined; but equally terrible and pernicious, when they rise to Inundations and devouring Flames.
I am charmed with the Saying and Behaviour of the Chinese Emperor Tai Zung, who carrying the Prince his Son into the Fields, and shewing him the Husbandmen busy at their Labour, ‘See, said he to him, what Pains these poor Men take, all the Year round, to maintain You and Me. I have therefore ever been careful to case and protect these poor People: Without their Labour and Sweat, You and I should have no Kingdom.’ These were Sentiments worthy of a King, who, when he is indeed the Father of his People, and loves and treats them tenderly, is then truly King; and, when he acts not like a Father, is then, in effect, something else, and worse.
These are Sentiments which ought to possess every Man who administers, or has any Share in administring a State; and without such Sentiments as these, no other Qualifications are availing, or to be trusted. The Head generally is led by the Heart, and, if he love any Interest of his own better than that of the State, he will be apt, instead of sacrificing private Interest to that of the Public, to sacrifice the State to his private Interest. This, indeed, is poor Policy, and a narrow View, as well as very wicked; it is Pity it were not more singular.
An Emperor of Turkey, when he was told how much the poor People were harrassed, and how many of them destroyed, by the Hardships which they suffered, in preparing Sport for him daily, and daily attending him in it, was so far from relenting, or feeling Pity, for Wretches thus suffering and perishing for his Diversions, that he answered, with great Scorn, to the merciful Man who gave him this honest Information; ‘Take care of the Dogs; be sure they be well used, and fed.’ Was this poor, great, miserable, lofty, hard-hearted Wretch, a Governor? This Destroyer of Men, a supreme Magistrate? This incarnate Dæmon, God’s Ordinance?
O with how much Nonsense, with how much Wickedness and Misery, this strange World abounds! And how fast and naturally they beget one another! It would be a great Blessing and Advantage gained to Mankind, under such Governments, if they could but compound with their Governors, to forbear doing them Mischief; and, upon that Consideration, chearfully give up all Hopes and Expectancy of any Good or Advantage from them whatsoever. It would, in truth, be a glorious Bargain, and mend the Condition of the World prodigiously; considering at what a sad and barbarous Rate the Government of the World is conducted in most Countries. For it is melancholy to consider, but too true, that generally they who sway the State, are its greatest Enemies: It is therefore no Wonder, that they treat as Traitors, and often destroy, its best Friends.
I have often wondered, how the Governors of a Nation oppressed and poor, could enjoy any Pleasure; how relish Pomp and Luxury, when by it they brought Wretchedness upon Millions! One would think, that, as they are Men, they must find much Bitterness in their Cup, and many anxious Reflections. Can they always avoid remembring, that Despair may produce Outrage and Revolt; and that their Subjects, having been treated without Mercy, may shew none? Or, supposing them ever so Tame, yet, if they are Miserable, is not this a melancholy Consideration to those who make them so? Can all the Pomp, and Luxury, and Flattery in the World, atone for so painful a Thought? What can be more dishonourable and unjust, and therefore more affecting, than to starve and afflict Multitudes, that we may riot and flutter? Multitudes too, whom it is our Duty to love, and assist, and cherish? Is there a real Delight in doing Good, as surely there is? Then equal is, or ought to be, the Pain of being the Cause of Evil; and that Pain must be still greater, and more pungent, if the Evil be done to such as depend upon us, to such as are trusted to our Care and Protection.
It is impossible not to love a Patriot. It is only loving those who love us. Is not this a desirable Character and Reward? It is impossible not to hate a Parricide, because he hates us, and is our Enemy. Who would not dread and avoid such a Situation? Indeed, Patriotism is no more than good Policy; it is the safest and best Choice, as well as the most virtuous and just. The whole State of Venice became, at one time, a State of Patriots, and found their Account gloriously in it.
As they were pressed by the powerful League of Cambray, and convinced, how much it availed them to preserve the Affections of their Subjects, they did a Thing, says the Historian, unexampled in the latter Ages. They published a Decree, by which they engaged to indemnify them for all their Losses, past and to come, during the War, out of the public Treasury. Those who trusted them had no Cause to repent. That State kept their Word religiously with every Particular, and found the good Effects of it; for never did People manifest greater Zeal and Fidelity, under all the Afflictions and Hardships of that terrible and unequal War. In spight of all Dangers, of all the Rage of a foreign Soldiery, and even of Death, that People persisted in their Affections to their State, ran all Risques for it, and even voluntarily served it as Spies. Such had been their merciful and paternal Usage from their Governors, and so generously and affectionately did they return it.
We see by this, that Governments can find Ways to make the People grateful, and even generous, as also what Ways these are. Had that wise State always acted thus wisely, and used their Subjects with equal Justice and Tenderness, they might, in all Likelihood, have been still Sovereigns of the Morea.
The Instance of the Saguntines is famous: They, rather than surrender themselves to the Enemies of Rome, burnt themselves and their City. There was something very remarkable and great in the Spirit and Behaviour of the Corsicans, during their late Revolt; which, I dare say, was not without Provocation: Few Revolts are. Not a Man of them would continue in foreign Service, however good his Appointments were there, when the Cause of his Country called him Home: Not a Man in the Island, not a Frier, was to be found, at any Price, to give Intelligence to the Enemy; and many of them chose to bear Racks, and Torture, and Death in the most terrible Shapes, rather than turn Spies and Traitors to their Country. This was Patriotism, an invincible Love to their native Country, above all Temptation and Terror, above all Price and Corruption.
This firm and generous Conduct of the Corsicans brings into my Mind the fine Answer of the Lacedæmonians to King Philip of Macedon, who, in his Letters to them, threatened, that, ‘He would prevent all their Measures!’ Will he prevent us from dying? replied those brave old Spartans.
Donato Gianotti, Secretary to the State of Florence, whilst it was yet free, could not bear even to live in it, when changed into a despotic Principality, and subjected to the House of Medicis, though he was offered, by the Great Duke, high Dignities and Advantages; all which he utterly rejected, and retired to Venice, to live and die in a free City. He scorned to countenance Tyranny and Usurpation; nor would he stay to see the sad Consequences of so terrible a Change, the best Citizens exiled, or imprisoned, or martyred; at best, awed, neglected, and unpreferred; the worst, caressed and promoted for being so, for their Insensibility of public Servitude, and for their Promptness to bear it; Men of Merit and Figure, lost in Oblivion and Solitude, Objects of Jealousy, and useless to the Public; Pimps and Betrayers, in high Favour, and covered with the Marks of it. He could not bear to see the Laws, and Liberty, and Welfare of his Country, all swallowed up in the Will, and Pride, and Convenience of a late Citizen, and a private Family; nor his Countrymen the Florentines, for so many Ages free, and brave, and impatient of any Yoke, a People who had been their own Masters so late and so long, now reduced to Impotence and Vassalage, cowed and enslaved. This was Proof of a good Spirit in Gianotti, and he made a better Choice. The meanest Retirement is far beyond any Share in Tyranny, beyond all the guilty Glare and Spoils which it can bestow.
Philip Strozzi, that illustrious and wealthy Citizen, of the same City, (one of the richest Subjects in Europe) was so passionate a Lover of public Liberty, and had such an Antipathy to Slavery, that, having tried all Ways of restoring the Freedom of his Country, without Success, he ordered his Children, by his last Will, to remove his Bones from his Grave in Florence, and, carrying them to Venice, interr them there; ‘To the End, says he, that since I had not the Felicity to die in a free State, I may enjoy that Favour after my Death, and my Ashes rest in Peace, out of the Reach and Domination of the Conqueror.’ Strozzi had attempted to restore the Republic, but failed, and was put in Prison; where, apprehending the Application of the Rack, that he might not, by Torture, be brought to betray his Friends, he slew himself. The Motive was noble, if the Act could be justified.
How apt the World is to be deceived with Glare and Outside, to admire prosperous Iniquity, and to slight Merit in Disgrace. Public Spirit the Duty of all Men. The Evils and Folly attending the Want of it.
IT is remarkable enough, and little to the Credit of the Judgment of the World, that Iniquity, if it be but very great and glaring, justifies itself; or rather, it is often justified by the strange Consent of the Gross of Mankind; and what should blacken and blast it, purifies and ennobles it. Can the Earth produce a more pestilent and guilty Creature, than one who enslaves any Part of it? In that one Act of Wickedness is implied every wicked Act whatsoever, Robbery, Murder, Treachery, Inhumanity, the Ravages of Lust and Malice, of Cruelty and Oppression, the Persecution and Exile of Virtue, the Abasement of Justice, and the Introduction to all Sorrow, gross Ignorance, and Bestiality. Yet, whoever passes through this frightful Train of Sin and Villainy with Success, shall have the unaccountable Honour to be admired and courted: He, who would have adorned a Gibbet, with universal Approbation, for attempting any one of them, grows renowned for perpetrating them all; and thenceforth Gibbets and Halters become the Portion and Reward of the Righteous and Innocent, of the Patriot, and the Friend to Virtue. Are not poor Thieves, are not humble Rogues, and small Robbers, notably injured by such partial Judgment, and such an unequal Lot? Ille crucem pretium sceleris tulit, hic diadema.
Man seems to be a Creature formed to be imposed upon, and misled; else the greatest Villain would always be the most decried and unhappy, and the most righteous and benevolent Man would flourish most, be best supported, most adored and applauded. To the Dishonour of our Species, and Misfortune of the World, the Reverse of all this is true. They who ought to rejoice, often weep; they who deserve to weep, often rejoice: The Innocent are generally oppressed, the Well-meaning misled: They who do this, are exalted and revered by those who suffer it; and the miserable Dupes, the Sufferers, often account these their Enemies and Seducers to be their special Friends; nay, are at great Pains and Expence to perpetuate their Misfortunes, under the Name and Notion of notable Advantages: They sometimes reckon him their worst Foe, who would enlighten and relieve them.
This is the Creature who boasts of being Rational! It must be owned, that he is capable of Instruction, as well as of sometimes abusing it: But the Truth is, Instruction is little else but Abuse in most Countries, little else but propagating Falshoods, and wonderful Nonsense, with Antipathy to Truth, to Reason, and to Liberty; a Fondness for Ignorance, which passes for divine Knowlege, and for Bondage, which is styled Obedience. Hence Popes and Tyrants are idolized; hence such as oppose these sacred Parricides, these supreme Curses upon Earth, are reproached, traduced, and mentioned with Horror; and hence, the greatest of all Rebels, he who enslaves his Country, when he has done it, is called Ruler, or some other fine Name; and treats, as Rebels, all who are loyal to their Country, against his Disloyalty and Rebellion.
Such is the ridiculous Force and Witchcraft attending Names, and proceeding from preposterous Education. Much more honourable to me, much more happy, seems the Family of Medicis, whilst yet private Men, and opulent Citizens of a free City, than when raised by Faction, by Force, and by the dirty and corrupted Populace, to be Lords of Injustice over their native State. Nay, I know not whether they were not richer when Subjects, than when Princes; more innocent I am sure they were, as well as more secure. Yet, such is the deceitful Force of a big Word, that they were no sooner called Princes, a Title ill-gotten, and therefore usurped, but great Monarchs intermarried with them. Whilst they were good Citizens and Merchants, these Monarchs, probably, would have despised such an Alliance. Strange Blindness and Injustice! A Merchant may be an honest Man, a Patriot, and a Friend to Mankind; a useful Member of Society he certainly is. Can a Usurper, one who brings Chains and Calamity upon his Country, claim any of these Characters and Commendations?
I see more Glory (and there is more) in being a just and useful Magistrate, in a free Country, even a Burgess in Swisserland, than in exercising the Iron Rod of a Tyrant, with a Title ever so sounding, over a Country ever so charming. Liberty produces Comfort, nay, Plenty and Prosperity, even amongst Rocks; and smileth in the sternest Regions; she blesses in spight of Nature; and, in spight of Nature, Tyranny brings Curses. In Climes, which, for Beauty and Fertility, look like the Pride and Masterpiece of the Creation, Rags and Famine, Nastiness, ghastly Looks, and Misery in all Shapes, are seen to abound; and the forlorn Condition of the wretched People seems to belye and disgrace the Soil. Such, in fact, is the Difference between the Condition of the Swiss Cantons, cold, bleak, and mountainous as they are, and that of some of the finest Regions under the Sun, not far from them.
Can they, who consider this, and are at all solicitous about the State of their Country, ever sufficiently value Liberty, and defend it? Can they prize Patriots, and hate Parricides, too much? Can they too much dread Tyranny, too much detest Slavery? Can they think any Subject upon Earth so worthy of being handled and opened, recommended and enforced? It is the great Theme, the first and principal Concern of Society. What can concern Men so much, as, whether they shall be Happy, or Miserable; Free, or in Chains? Whether they shall enjoy the highest Blessing, or bear the most bitter Curse and Calamity, that this World affords? Cicero esteemed Death and Exile to be Evils far short of Slavery: Mortem & ejectionem quasi majora timemus; quæ multo sunt minora.
Here, therefore, is the Test of the Patriot and the Parricide, and their different Characters. He who has a virtuous and tender Regard for the Public; he who wishes and pursues its Welfare; he who rejoices in its Prosperity, and feels its Misfortunes, and is zealous to remove them; he who is jealous of public Liberty as the great Root of all social Felicity; he who dreads and abhors arbitrary Dominion as the most devouring Plague; He, This is the Patriot, the Friend of his Country, and deserving its Friendship.
Yet all this is no more than one’s Duty, a Duty, which every Man owes to the Public. But it is too true, that such Duties as Virtue alone injoins, are seldom performed, or even considered as such. Men think, that, if they can but escape Censure and Penalties, they do their Duty; and bestow that good Name upon Sordidness and Fear. Such narrow Minds hardly deserve the Care of those who have larger. Besides, Wretches who are destitute themselves of public Spirit, cannot prize it in others, nor be grateful to those who have it. This Insensibility, I doubt, goes often further than the Vulgar, and above them. But where-ever it is found, it is excessively foolish, as well as shocking and criminal: For, as public Spirit is a Duty, from every Man to all the rest, enforced by the eternal Authority of the Law of Nature, whoever obeys it not, is an Offender, a greater Offender than some who are condemned by positive Laws; since he who hurts only one Man, or Particulars, cannot be so guilty as he who offends against all.
The Nature of Society implies the Necessity, and consequently the Duty, of mutual Help and Benevolence; and whatever of this Kind a Man claims from others, others may claim from him. The Right is reciprocal, and therefore so is the Duty. So that he who is indifferent about the Whole, about the general Interest of the Society, makes himself an Alien, and, in fact, forfeits the Favour and Protection of the Whole. He who has this Turn, this strange unfeeling Heart, is a contemptible Being, as well as foolish and short-sighted. When the Society is oppressed, or enslaved, He must be oppressed and enslaved too. For, I speak not now of any great Parricide, who has the Misfortune to be successful, and to subdue all.
When this Spirit of Indifference about the Condition of the Public, becomes general, it is, indeed, terrible; as it is an Encouragement and Opportunity given to Parricides, so to strengthen and exalt themselves, that even the Revival of public Spirit shall have no other Effect, than to furnish Victims to Their Power and Revenge; and the public Bondage, which might have been prevented, only by a little Care and Vigilance, is, perhaps, so fixed, as not to be removed, even by strenuous Resistance, and an Effusion of Blood.
This Sort of Stupor possessed the People of Italy, during the Attempts of Cæsar; even whilst he was already in their Country, openly armed against the Commonwealth. Poor and narrow were the Considerations that swayed them; and they looked no further than just to preserve their Seats and Farms, their Money and Rents. Nihil prorsus aliud curant, nisi agros, nisi viliulas, nisi nummulos, says Cicero.—He adds, in another Letter, Hujus insidiosa clementia delectantur: That artful Clemency of his, which was only a Snare laid for them, delighted them, and laid them asleep. Poor deluded Men! They did not consider, that he was going to have it in his Power to seize for himself, or to surrender to some of his needy Followers, (who only followed him for Rapine) these very darling Seats, and Lands, and Treasures of theirs, whenever he pleased, with Impunity; or that, if He spared them, some of his Successors might take their Fortunes, and their Lives too; as, indeed, they did, without any Ceremony or Mercy.
It is, indeed, amazing, that any Man, who thinks at all of the Public, should be indifferent about it; it is more amazing, that any Man, who has a Stake in it, can avoid thinking of it, or be without Zeal for it: But it is most amazing, that great Men, Men of Dignity and Fortune, of Splendor and Title, all which can only be secure whilst the Public is so, should not always, and in all Countries, be upon perpetual Guard against their own Ruin and Debasement, and continually studying to support public Liberty, which must support them.
Lukewarmness, from such Men, would seem incredible, if it had never happened; and is infamous whenever it happens, as well as the Effect of the most gross Blindness and Infatuation. Yet thus lukewarm were many of the Great Romans, even when they saw Cæsar’s Sword already waving dreadfully over them. Well might Cicero say of them, as he does, with just Severity and Contempt, Ita stulti sunt, ut, amissa republica, piscinas suas salvas fore videntur: ‘They were such Fools to conclude, that, though the Republic were lost, their Fish-ponds would remain secure.’
Fools indeed! When Liberty was gone, no Man could be secure, nor any Man’s Possessions. This Discovery, which a Child might have made at first, they made afterwards; when their not having made it sooner, only served to upbraid and torment them. They, indeed, felt it, and felt it with a Vengeance, under the Triumvirate, when a Price was set upon their Heads, and their Possessions, and darling Fish-ponds, seized by the Tyrants who succeeded their Friend Cæsar, whose Clemency was not perpetuated with his Usurpation. This, too, was very easy to have been foreseen; as also the future State of their Families, which were all persecuted; most of them cut off by the following Tyrants, without any Exception, or Favour to the Descendants of such as had helped to establish the Tyranny.
Here is a Lesson and Warning to all Nations, especially to Men of Name and Figure amongst them, how dearly they ought to prize public Spirit and Patriots; how much it becomes and behoves them to possess and cherish that Spirit; and how nearly it imports all Men to love their Country. It is only Self-love generously applied; and he who loves himself judiciously, will certainly love the Public and Liberty. It is, moreover, virtuous and honourable; and is intitled to solid Fame, to the Affections and Praises of all Men. What other Motive needs there? He who has not this Spirit, may, perhaps, be a harmless Man; but he is a very bad Citizen: He who dislikes or despises it, is an Enemy to his Fellow-Citizens; and must expect a natural Return, that of Hate and Infamy. Is Life, or any thing in Life, worth enjoying upon such melancholy Terms? A virtuous Man may bear Dislike and Obloquy, because he knows that he deserves it not: But Detestation abroad, accompanied with Guilt within, and occasioned by it, is a heavy and a doleful Lot! What does the World produce to atone for it? Guilty Greatness is, at best, but a great Burden and Reproach.
The Love of our Country is such an amiable Quality, indeed such an important Duty, attended with so many Recommendations to enforce it, that it is a Pity, as well as a Wonder, it should not be common. How natural it is, to love and respect a Man of this Spirit! It melts me into Compassion and Sympathy, and fills me with Reverence and Esteem, when I find, in my Reading, such a Character as that of the Sieur Baptist du Mesnil, Advocate General in France, in the time of that Monster in a Diadem Catharine de Medicis. He loved his Country so passionately, that it broke his Heart to see its Misfortunes. This Testimony he has from Monsieur De Thou, that great Historian and Patriot; and this Testimony is a glorious Reward for so virtuous a Mind, for a Grief so pious, and so honest an End.
Cicero used to ask himself, What Men would say of him when he was gone? And was more afraid of the Judgment of future Historians, than of all the common Prate and Censure of the present Time. This was agreeable to the good Sense of Cicero. A Man who loves Fame, will labour to deserve it: If he be indifferent about it, it is a shrewd Presumption, that he is equally indifferent about his Morals: If he utterly despise it, he does as surely despise the Means of acquiring it, even Virtue and worthy Actions. Fame is always the sure Portion of the Patriot, first or last (for sometimes he is eclipsed for awhile); and a glorious Portion it is. Flatterers and Parricides, with the great and small Vulgar, may traduce him; but this only confirms his Merit, and adds to his Renown. The best Lot that can befal the Parricide, is to be forgot: A very comfortless Lot! especially to a Man who has Cause to wish for it. It was a laudable Passion for Glory in Cicero, when he grew jealous, lest the Services done by Pompey to the Republic, might seem, to Posterity, to surpass His.
It is but reasonable, that Men who are employed, and trusted, and paid, by the Public, should study its Interest and Welfare before all Things: If they do not, they dishonour their Employments, and break their Trust. Wretched, and even impious, was the Evasion and Excuse of the Cardinal de Biragues, Chancellor of France, for his abject Compliances with all the vile Devices, Frauds, and Enormities of the Court, in the scandalous Reign of Henry the Third: He said, ‘That he was not Chancellor of France, but Chancellor to the King of France.’ It was an absurd Distinction, as well as false and wicked. If the arbitrary Humour of that Prince had been checked, if his Ministers, instead of basely complying with his rash Will and Caprice, had taught him, as they ought, to measure his Power by the Laws, and to seek his Glory in the Prosperity of his People, he might have died gloriously and lamented. By serving only his Passions, they ruined his Honour and Reputation, and blasted his Reign: He became, first, the Dread; next, the Aversion; at last, the Scorn of his own People, and an Object of Pity or Contempt to Christendom.
This was the blessed Effect of complaisant Counsellors; who made it a great Merit, and Point of Flattery, that they were the King’s Ministers, and not the Ministers of the Kingdom: God knows, they were not; the Kingdom soon discovered it: Whence, too, another Discovery quickly followed, that, neither, was he King of his People, whom he cruelly oppressed, but only of his Favourites, whom, at the Expence of his Subjects, he extravagantly raised and enriched. When he had, by such Ministers and Measures, incensed his People, did these his Favourites retrieve for him the popular Affection? No; they were a dead Weight upon Him, as they were one principal Cause of the public Hate. When the People had revolted, did his Favourites prove his Support? No; he was forced to have recourse for Aid to the poor Protestants, whom he had been constantly butchering, persecuting, and using treacherously. How happy and beloved, and, therefore, how powerful and glorious, might this unfortunate Prince have been, only by following the easiest and honestest Methods of Government; which are always the most honourable and safe! But his Mother, his Monks, and his Minions, all seeking their own particular and base Ends, corrupted his Heart, youthful and voluptuous, by pernicious Maxims and Flattery; and thence brought upon him Ruin and Reproach.
‘It was not the Name of Kings, that created such Aversion in our Forefathers to Monarchy,’ said Tiberius Gracchus to the Roman People: No; ‘It was their Partiality, their profuse and boundless Favours to Particulars; whilst others, of superior Merit, remained in Want and Poverty.’ This was, indeed, unpopular and provoking; an Indication of what they had most at Heart; not the Service or Honour of the Public, but the Gratification of their own Caprice. Nor can any People, even the most stupid, be pleased, to see contemptible Men in Favour; such as Pimps, Barbers, and Buffoons; whilst Men of Merit, Ability, and Virtue, are neglected, discountenanced, and brow-beaten. Where Patriots, or the Spirit of Patriotism governs, that Government can hardly be shaken: And it is only for want of such Governors, and such a Spirit, that most, if not all Governments come to decay and perish: Nor can it be otherwise, when the public Interest is neglected by public Men, or sacrificed to little private Interests of their own. It is very true, that these separate Interests are always ill-judged; and, as they certainly hurt the State, they will, in the End, disappoint, and injure, and dishonour the Man who pursues them at the Expence of the State; upon the Prosperity of which, that of Individuals must always depend: Of which I have already given Instances, and many more might be given.
Considerations upon Two distinguished Romans, Cato and Cæsar; one in the Interest of his Country, the other in his own Interest: With the Fate and Issue of Cæsar’s Ambition, to himself and his Race.
I SHALL finish this Discourse with some Observations upon Two famous Romans, Cato and Cæsar; the first falling by his own Hands, rather than suffer or see the public Bondage; the second by the Hands of others, for having introduced it. Their Characters are drawn ingeniously by Sallust; but not fully. He owns, that, in their Age, Lineage, and Eloquence, there was a near Resemblance; that they possessed equal Greatness of Mind, and gained equal Glory: But he considers them only as Two great Subjects of a free State, serving it, and thence acquiring Fame by different Ways and Qualities; and omits the grand Difference of all, that the one made it the great Study and Labour of his Life, to save and purify the State; whilst the other strove, with all his Might and Art, to corrupt and overthrow it. Cato contended for public Liberty and Virtue; Cæsar for his own Power; and thence promoted all public Abuses and Corruption. In Cato, all virtuous Men, and every righteous Cause, found a sure Patron and Sanctuary: By Cæsar, the Profligate, the Depraved, and Desperate, with every Traitor, and all traiterous Practices, were protected and cherished. Cato endeavoured to recall antient Probity and Innocence; to reclaim or punish Evil-doers; to secure the Public, by upright Measures; and to transmit Liberty and good Government to Generations to come: Cæsar promoted Dissoluteness and Venality; encouraged public Criminals; embroiled, and debauched, and oppressed the State. Cato loved his Country, sought for it, and died for it; and thence left to it an illustrious and affecting Example, of Virtue incorruptible, and of primitive Zeal: Cæsar loved Himself beyond his Country, fought for Himself against his Country, and to Himself enslaved his Country: He intailed Bondage upon That and succeeding Ages; and left a Race of Successors truly worthy of the Inheritance of Tyranny; a Race who were the Scourge and Shame of human Nature, the Pests and Butchers of the Romans, and of all Men.
Such, literally, were the Doings and Character of thy boasted Cæsar, O Rome; these his Atchievments, this his Legacy! If all this make him not a Parricide, the highest Parricide, the Meaning of Words is inverted, Truth and Reason have lost their Course, and Guilt and Innocence are no more. Did he not fill thee, Rome, and all thy wide Regions, with Blood, and Woe, and Chains? He spoke well, he fought well; but for whose sake? and who reaped the Benefit? Was not the Benefit His; the Expence, the Pain, and Sorrow, Thine? Over Thee and thy Liberties was his last Triumph.
Rather boast a Patriot; thy Patriot Cato; one who was a Foe to Thy Foes, thy best Champion, thy true Prophet; one who forewarned thee of all thy impending Calamities; struggled to avert them; and perished, rather than behold them(a) . This is Fame indeed; genuine Fame; great, immortal, and unallayed. Whatever Exploits Cæsar did, whatever fine Qualities he had, still he enslaved his Country; a Consideration that tarnishes and frustrates all his Praise. Cicero treats him as a Madman, and a wretched Being, who had never the least Notion of genuine Glory. Amentem & miserum, qui ne umbram quidem unquam τȣ͂ ϰαλȣ͂ viderit. ‘Does he (says Cicero) do all these Things for the sake of his Honour? Where is his Honour; where his Virtue and Justice? To hold an Army from the Public against the Public? To seize the municipal Cities, in order to usurp Rome itself, and enslave his Country? To cancel all Debts; to pardon all Criminals; to commit a thousand Outrages; all to arrive at Tyranny, which is his highest Deity?’ All this, in the Opinion of that great Roman Patriot and Luminary, was to be most miserable, as well as most wicked; and his great Success was but great Guilt.
Nothing was ever more shameless than his Demands, in order to an Accommodation; in which, however, he was never sincere. I must again borrow the Reasoning of Cicero. ‘How? Grant him what he asks with such enormous Impudence! For, what is more impudent, O Cæsar! Thou hast holden the Province Ten Years; a Term not given thee by the Senate, but given thee by Thyself, and the Force of Faction. Even this Term, one measured not by the Law, but thy own Lust, is elapsed. But grant it to be legitimate: The Senate have decreed thee a Successor. This thou opposest, and criest, Let some Consideration be had for Me. I say, Do Thou have some Consideration for Us. Dost thou keep an Army longer than the Roman People ordained, keep it in Defiance of the Authority of the Senate? There is therefore now no Choice, but either to fight, or to submit.’ In another Letter to Atticus, taking Notice of some plausible Promises from Cæsar, ‘Does Cæsar pretend, says Cicero, to bring good Tidings to all worthy Romans? Where will he find such, unless he hang himself, and go to the other World for them?’
The Clemency of Cæsar is much extolled. In truth, it was absolutely necessary, that he should appear full of Clemency; and therefore it was Policy to proceed by the Ways of Clemency, as long as Clemency would do. He had seen Marius and Sylla detested for their personal Cruelties. But, if mild Methods had failed, will any one say, that a Man, mad with Ambition, would have forgone all his fine Schemes, and ambitious Views, rather than pursue them by Acts of Vengeance and Blood? What Cruelty is so great, as that of making War upon one’s Country, and enslaving it? Did he not do this? Must he not do every thing necessary to such an impious End, even kill and destroy, till he gained it, or was himself destroyed? Would he, who exposed Men to Death and Slaughter by Myriads, have scrupled the Death of Particulars? Did he not tell Cicero roundly, that, if he could not obtain the Concurrence of Cicero and his Friends, he would embrace any Assistance, from whatever Quarter it came, and betake himself to all Courses whatsoever—ad omnia esse descensurum? Did not Curio, his Friend and Adherent, declare of him, that ‘He was not, in his own Nature and Inclination, unpossessed with a Spirit of Cruelty; but thought Clemency a popular Quality; yet, if the Favour of the People failed him, he would certainly prove cruel.’ Cœlius too, the Orator, and a Partizan of Cæsar’s, freely says of him, in a Letter to Cicero, that ‘He meditated nothing but what was Violent and Tragical, nor even spoke in any other Strain.’ Cicero charges him expresly, with a long and constant Design to murder Pompey.
Phalaris, the Tyrant of Agrigentum, whose Name is become proverbial for Cruelty, began his Usurpation with great Mildness, and proceeded in it long: He even manifested great Patience and Forgiveness upon the Discovery of several Attempts and Conspiracies against his Life; but, from the Frequency of such Attempts, he became Vindictive and Bloody, and continued so. He pleaded, ‘That, without being cruel to others, he could not be safe himself.’ A terrible Expedient for Safety, very precarious, and often producing a contrary Effect. Cæsar, in all Probability, must have acted as Phalaris had acted.
Take away Cæsar’s fine Qualities, which, of themselves, merit no Commendation, as he applied them to such evil Purposes, and consider only his Views and Pursuits, which were continually Evil, what a Monster must he appear? Nay, his Crimes are the worse for his fine Qualities. Without doubt, he was a Thousand times worse than Nero, as he did a Thousand times more Mischief to the World. Such Difference does Art, or the Want of it, make in the Characters of Men. Nero wanted Address, to appear a pleasing Devil. Cæsar had it. Besides, it was he, who, by enslaving the Romans, enabled Nero to butcher them.
I shall conclude, with considering the Advantages which this famous Usurper, Cæsar, drew from his Usurpation. It, indeed, cost him very dear: After a troublesome Life, a world of Guilt and Bloodshed, many Perils, and endless Disquiets, he was cut off as a Traitor and a Tyrant. As to Fame and Posterity, he, like all other Usurpers, judged ill about them. From good and wise Men, he, who did such execrable things, in order to the most execrable of All, even the destroying public Liberty, and enslaving his Country, could reap no Fame at all, but eternal Aversion and Reproach: And who would court Fame from the dirty and obscene Rabble?
It fared as ill with his Posterity, as with his Fame. He might, indeed, have left them possessed of great Glory, and a lasting Establishment, by reforming and restoring the State, and thence entailing upon them, and upon all Men, the great Blessing of their antient Liberty. Then, too, his Renown would have been permanent and noble, like that of the first Brutus, and his Descendants, ever dear to the Romans, and ever revered.
This would have been just Ambition, like that recommended by Machiavel, who would have ‘A Prince, or great Man, who aims at Praise and Immortality, to chuse, for the Scene of his Government and Glory, a State which is corrupt and decaying, as one proper for him to rectify and restore.’ This is a Design truly great and princely, benevolent and honourable. Whereas to vitiate and enthral a State, is barbarous, little, and base. Cæsar took not the former virtuous Course; but chose the latter Course, which was altogether impious and destructive, and thence forfeited all just Fame; and, having put Chains upon his Country, left thence a Curse upon his Posterity.
His immediate Successor descended not from him, but from his Sister: He that followed was not of his Family, but left the Empire to one of the Race, where it, however, continued not long. The whole Line, for the most part, proved beastly, bloody, and detested Monsters. Could such contribute to preserve or perpetuate his Fame? They died too, like him, violent Deaths. So little did His or Their overgrown Power serve to secure Him or Them! It, indeed, caused and quickened their tragical Fall. In a few Reigns, all bloody, unfortunate, and accursed, or rather, in a few Years, the Imperial Diadem was rent from his Family for ever. That horrible Cannibal Nero, was the last of it. Augustus, more bloody than he, was the first; I mean, after Julius. The Three who intervened, worthy Depositaries of the Name and Power of Cæsar, were, like the last, the Curse, the Scandal, and the Executioners of human Kind.
But, besides the bloody Fate, regularly overtaking every one of his Family, who wore the Purple, the rest, and the unreigning Branches, were continual Objects of the Jealousy and Cruelty of Him that reigned, who was ever constantly cutting off all of the same Stock, who were conspicuous for Parts, or Person, or Wealth, or any other Advantages, personal or accidental; nay, often only for being of that Stock.
This therefore is the mighty Issue of the mighty Cæsar’s Ambition. To his Country he procured Bondage, and utter Ruin; to Himself, and his Race, a Series of Slaughters, till they had all finally perished, together with the Curses, and universal Hate, of human Kind. These were the Doings, this the Merit of the great Cæsar, one so extolled for his Conduct, for the Wariness of his Measures, and his great Success! He was, indeed, very Artful, as well as very Brave and Successful, in bringing certain Destruction upon Himself, his Country, and his Lineage. For, in short, this was the real Result of all his Policy, of all his Plots, and Eloquence, and Heroism. Was This to be Amiable, This to be Fortunate and Wise?
Is it not natural to ask, How could such a Character be admired? How such a Man be popular? Yet Cæsar was popular; He gained all his Power by his Popularity; he gained all his Popularity by acting the Patriot; and usurped Patriotism on purpose to usurp the Empire: Nor was this Proceeding peculiar to Cæsar: It was the constant Art and Armour of all preceding Parricides, and by it they covered and recommended themselves, always with too much Success, to the credulous Many. In truth, the Efforts, and Frauds, and Management of such Parricides, (for many such there were) make a great Part of the Roman History, from the Foundation of the Republic, to the last Period of Roman Liberty. Cæsar had Parts equal to any of them, though not superior to some of them, with greater Opportunities, and more Success. They had all pretended to be public Benefactors, warm Advocates for the People, zealous Patrons of Liberty. Their fair Professions, false Bounties, and boasted Patriotism, were echoed, with their Names, loudly amongst the Populace: Then followed their popular Direction and Sway, deceitful Speeches, inflammatory Invectives, pleasing and pernicious Laws, with all Attempts to improve popular Phrensy, and, by the Cry of Liberty, to establish Tyranny. Catiline followed the same Road, and perished in it: Cæsar got to the End of it, and perished afterwards. By the Cry and Assistance of the People, he baffled Pompey and the Senate: By an Army, procured for him by the People from the State, he enslaved the People, and usurped the State. He made them giddy with the Sound of Liberty; and, whilst they were under that Infatuation, snatched away the Substance. This had been ever found the safest Way of undermining Liberty; the surest, the most concealed, and most successful Way. Cæsar, that pretended Patriot, that real Parricide, thought it so, and found it so(a) .
[(a) ]Si recludantur Tyrannorum mentes, posse adspici laniatus & ictus.
[(a) ]Ille ea quæ nunc sunt, & futura viderit; &, ne fierint, contenderit; &, facta ne viderit, vitam reliquerit.
[(a) ]I cannot but here remember, with very singular Pleasure, the Place where this Discourse was composed, many Years ago, (about Ten or a Dozen) at Mr. Bathurst’s House, in Clarendon Park; a fine Place, and a worthy Man! my amiable and accomplished Friend, with whom I have passed many instructive Hours, many pleasant Days and Weeks; a Friend, whom I shall ever highly esteem, and who deserves all Esteem, from all good Englishmen, for every desirable Quality, and every sound and virtuous Principle.