Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECT. III.: 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. - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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SECT. III.: 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. - 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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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.