Front Page Titles (by Subject) DISCOURSE IV.: Of the Pride and ill Conduct of the Patricians, after the Expulsion of Kings. - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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DISCOURSE IV.: Of the Pride and ill Conduct of the Patricians, after the Expulsion of Kings. - Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust), The Works of Sallust (Gordon’s Discourses, Cicero’s Orations against Catiline) 
The Works of Sallust, translated into English with Political Discourses upon that Author. To which is added, a translation of Cicero’s Four Orations against Catiline (London: R. Ware, 1744).
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Of the Pride and ill Conduct of the Patricians, after the Expulsion of Kings.
The Roman Commonwealth unequally balanced. The Kingly Power, upon the Expulsion of Tarquin, engrossed, and imperiously exercised, by the Patricians. The ill Policy of this to Themselves, the Injustice of it to the Plebeians.
AS the principal Dissentions and Revolutions in the Roman State, are imputed, by Sallust, to the Abuse of Power, either by the Patricians, or Plebeians, after they had reciprocally gained it, or to their mutual Struggle to gain it; I shall here explain the Mistakes of both, and first, those of the Patricians.
In every Government, where constant Dissentions reign, there must be a great Defect, either in the Institution of it, or in the Administration. Rome, under Kings, seems, to me, to have been better secured against intestine Discord, than it was after their Expulsion; had the last Tarquin, like his best Predecessors, observed the original Laws of the State. As they were trusted with the Administration of the State; as they were chief Commanders in War, and supreme Civil Magistrates, and had the Execution of Justice and Law; they had Power sufficient to check and oblige the Populace; to distinguish, as well as to awe, the Nobility; and to secure their own Station and Dignity. But all this Power and Prerogative not satisfying the mad Ambition of Tarquin, he scorned to possess the Power of Protecting, though this be the only End, and therefore the only Glory, of Reigning, unless he had also the Power of Enthralling and Destroying.
He therefore set up a Model of Government, as frightful as it was new, to that free and brave Nation; and, without consulting People or Senate, Two of the Three Estates, He, who was only the Third, would needs rule alone, according to his Lust. As he had usurped the Throne by the most barbarous Parricide, he tried to maintain himself in it by the most arrogant Tyranny. Hence, not only He, but the Throne itself, became odious and unpopular, and both were degraded and abolished together for ever(a) .
But, though the King was gone, the legal Part of Kingship remained; and the two Consuls could do whatever the Kings could do. They called together the Senate, and presided in it; as they did in the Assemblies of the People, whom they likewise summoned: They bore the chief Magistracy in Rome, and chief Command in War. These, which were the principal Prerogatives and Emoluments of Royalty, became the Portion of these Two Magistrates, and were, consequently, confined to the Senate, from whence they were chosen. It is true, the People chose them Annually, (as they had formerly the Kings for Life) but still the Choice was restrained to Senators.
This Accession of Dignity, and therefore of Pride, to the Nobility, awed now by no Superior, and possessed of all the Authority and Trappings of the State, had its usual Effect upon the Minds of Men, naturally frail and vain, and inspired them with high Conceit of their Blood and Character, both which they accounted Sacred, as they did all beneath them Profane; though most of them sprang originally from the lowest Plebeians, such as they now despised; and they owed their Supremacy at Rome, to nothing but the Tyranny and Expulsion of Tarquin. Such is the Insolence of Man, ever fond of being thought more than Human, and of making himself, what God never made him, of a Texture more Divine than the rest of his Species. I wish that Heathens only were thus apt to exalt themselves, and belye the Godhead, by boldly pretending to a Share of it; a sure Symptom of Imposture, as well as of Insolence, when Men make the worst Qualities cleaving to Humanity, Marks of their Divinity; namely, their Pride, and Passion; their Frauds, and selfish Designs.
Such Use has been made, in all Ages, of the Name of Heaven, by Men who meant to engross and controul this Earth. Thus Emperors and Popes came to be deified; and thus, numberless Fanatics of all Sorts, some Pagan, others falsly called Christian, have roundly claimed an Alliance with the Deity, or Commissions and Immunities from Him; for no other apparent Reason, than that they differed from the rest of the World in Craziness and Conceit, or in the Quaintness of their Titles and Apparel, or in some senseless Forms and Grimaces, pompously practised to promote Superstition, and dignify Folly and Fraud; as if the confident Pretence of One, or a Few, to celestial Attributes and Authority, were sufficient to enforce the Belief and Obedience of all the rest; or, as if certain religious Terms and Fashions, invented by Men, inferred any real Warrant or Power from God to some Men, to guide and govern other Men endowed with equal Faculties, and equally capable of undergoing, or of performing, the same Solemnity; a Task which required no other Ability than that of Voice and Motion, and, perhaps, a demure Look.
Yet this Solemnity, this Exercise of the Auspices, hitherto confined to the Patricians, exclusive of the Plebeians, was one of the best Arguments for excluding the Plebeians from it for ever, and consequently from every considerable Office and Dignity in the State; since, without the Solemnity of the Auspices, no considerable Office could be exercised. This Reasoning in the Nobility was now very strange and unjust, upon several Accounts. For though, during the Monarchy, they enjoyed this exclusive Privilege, which was Part of the Constitution settled under Romulus; yet, when the Monarchy was abolished, the People, by whose Assistance the Change was effected, were intitled to new Advantages and Prerogatives, as well as the Patricians, who, having suffered more than the People in the Tyranny of Tarquin, had not only revenged and secured themselves by his Expulsion, which had been therefore concerted by them, but had gained from it all the Power and Pre-eminence of Royalty intirely to their own Body, as before I have observed. They were therefore become, by the Conjunction of Monarchy and Nobility, more than twice as great and strong as they had Both been whilst they were separate; as there could be no longer any Jarrings or Jealousy between the Claims and Prerogatives of King and Patricians, since the Patricians possessed both.
So that the People, instead of any Profit or Relief (unless such as was altogether precarious and momentary) from this Revolution, which they had readily helped to accomplish, were really in a worse State than before, by being subservient to a higher and more awful Power. Nor could Things last long upon this strange Foot of Inequality in a free City. How, or why, was Tarquin to be kept out by the People, if the People were still to be greater Slaves than they had been under Tarquin? Yet the Nobility had no other Way to keep up the Spirit of the People against Tarquin, and all Kings, but by the constant Cry of popular Liberty, and of the Tyranny of Kingship. Nor had the People much Cause to complain of Contempt, or hard Usage, whilst Tarquin was making constant Efforts to be restored, and forming continual Confederacies, amongst the neighbouring States, against Rome. But when all his Attempts, and those of his Allies, were defeated, as well by the Bravery of the Roman Soldiers, (that is to say, the Roman People) as by the good Conduct of the Patricians, and he and his Family were extinct, the Patricians began to shew, as all Men, and Bodies of Men, almost always do, that Power uncontrouled and enormous will, first or last, be enormously exerted(a) .
The People, whom the Patricians, out of Fear of Tarquin, had persuaded, that they were never free before, and had taught to love Liberty in Hatred to Tyranny, could not but be provoked, to find such, as seemed, hitherto, no more than their Counsellors and Coadjutors in the common Cause, acting, on a sudden, as their Masters; Men, who had lately been the great Orators and Champions for Liberty, setting up and practising Tyranny. The People, who had done more than They, in Defence of public Freedom, thought they had as good a Right to be free Themselves. What was this boasted Revolution to Them, if they derived no Benefit from it? It was exceeding hard, and even barbarous, that They, who exerted so much Bravery, and ventured their Lives, to accomplish it, should still be in a worse Condition than before; possessed of less Liberty; exposed to more Severity and Insults; nay, enthralled by those whom they had rescued from Thraldom. It was, indeed, very ungrateful in the Patricians towards their Deliverers: For what could They have done without the People? It was also unjust; because they imposed upon the People, what they would not suffer the King to impose upon Themselves: And was ill-judged; since how could they expect, that the People, who held in their Hands the Elements of Power; who created all Magistrates, and gave Sanction to all Laws; who were born to Liberty; and, having now redeemed it, expected to enjoy more than ever; who were armed, and brave; all bred Soldiers; and daily fighting for their Rights, Possessions, and Independency; would, all at once, bear Servitude, from such as they had just saved from Servitude; and be oppressed by those who were bound to protect them(a) ?
They bore it, in truth, for some time, with great Tameness: But it was ill Policy to think, that what they suffered for awhile, they would suffer always; and submit to any Degree of Hardship, because they had submitted to many Degrees. Sometimes the Transition is hardly perceiveable, from abused Patience to violent Resentment. It was manifest, from the Change of Behaviour in the Patricians, upon the Death of Tarquin, that their late popular Conduct had been only the Acting of a Part; and their Cry for public Liberty, no more than Cant and Grimace; whilst they were securing and engrossing to Themselves the same Domination which He had lost; but which, whilst He lived, They durst not avow.
When, therefore, they had Him no longer to fear, they no longer used the People with the same Respect and Tenderness; but, as if every Patrician had been a Tarquin, began to treat the People like Slaves, and subject them to Whips and Chains, according to the Extremity of the Law; a Law utterly inconsistent with the Genius of a free and brave People, and fit to have been abolished with the Tyranny of Tarquin, had Tyranny been abolished with the Tyrant. But the reasonable Claims and Redress of the People squared not with the domineering Views of the Nobles; who, bearing all the Names, Ensigns, and Offices of Power, treated the Plebeians as their Vassals, born to bear and obey.
The Plebeians, long oppressed, obtain a Remedy by Force; but a Remedy dangerous to the State.
THE Plebeians, who would have still submitted to the Patricians as their Magistrates, would not tamely suffer them as Oppressors: And, since they had such Heads, who thus unnaturally used and tortured the Limbs, they were advised and resolved to find other Heads, or, which is the same thing, Protectors, who were more nearly interested in the Preservation of the Body.
This will ever be the Case and Event, whilst Men are Men; all who are oppressed, will, where they can, relieve themselves from Oppression. If Magistrates will not be content with their proper Character, the Office of Protecting, but stretch that Office into Rigour and Violence, they who feel it will seek a Remedy, and, perhaps, find and apply one stronger than the Disease; and so cure a great Evil by one as great or greater. This is the natural Progress and Consequence of popular Reformations. The People seldom think of any, till they are quite inflamed; and then they are not fit to make any. The Roman Populace, with all the Merit that any People could have, had suffered as much as People could suffer, before they retired, and held a common Consultation, how to redress themselves. Every body knows the Story of their proposing and carrying the Establishment of Magistrates of their own, Tribunes of the People; Officers who avenged them, indeed, amply upon the Patricians, but who were likewise almost continually misleading them, violating the public Tranquillity; and who, though they helped to aggrandize, yet ruined the State.
This Reward had the Nobles, for their extravagant Pride and Contempt; for their engrossing all Power to Themselves, and exerting it without Bounds over the Commons. It was a strange Error in the Nobles, to think, that the Roman People, who made Laws and Magistrates, would not only remain without any Share in the Execution of the Laws, and any Lot or Advantage in their Choice of Magistrates, but even tamely bear the violent Abuse of Law, from Magistrates of their own Creation. Was it likely, that They, who had the legislative Power, would be content with an intire Exclusion from the Administration; and be Slaves to Officers created by Themselves? Upon the Expulsion of Tarquin, as it was a new State, new and proper Regulations should have been made; and an equal Administration settled, equally interesting to the whole Community; with a Set of Magistrates alike concerned for Nobles and Commons, without exclusive Views and Qualifications, and Names and Offices of Strife; such as the Tribunes of the People proved, extraordinary Officers, vested with the whole Authority of the People, and set up professedly to oppose and controul the whole Administration; which, at last, by this Authority, at first intirely negative, they usurped and swayed.
From hence it appears, that Governments are seldom equally balanced and perfect: They are, for the most part, Patch-work, seldom formed at once upon an honest, universal, and rational Scheme; but, generally, so established, at first, as to answer the ambitious Views of One, or a Few; or altered afterwards, according to present Necessity, and by extemporary Remedies; such as rather serve to give momentary Ease, and remove some glaring Symptoms, than to eradicate the Disease. The People, with whom instant Relief generally passes for a complete Cure, are apt to trust implicitly to the Skill and Management of the State-Physicians of the Time; whilst these Physicians contrive how to make the best Advantage of their Patients, and the Distemper; and, by flattering Medicines, and magnificent Promises, get the intire Direction of their Persons and Purses.
This may, indeed, at last, provoke the People to look out for other Doctors, and other Remedies, when they find themselves still sick and disordered, and, perhaps, worse, rather than better. But, as, where-ever they turn and apply, they must trust Somebody, they are not sure of being better used, or more effectually cured, by their new Physicians and Patrons; who, in order to serve them, must be trusted by them; and will thence have an Opportunity (which they seldom will neglect) of serving themselves at the Expence of such as employ them.
For the People are, generally, gained by the same Snares and Professions; and let them be ever so angry at one Man, or Party of Men, for abusing the Trust which they had reposed in them without Reserve, they are still ready to commit the same Trust, with equal Blindness, to their new Favourites; who, perhaps, have acquired their Confidence by deceiving them, and, in Requital for having acquired it, are determined to deceive them still more.
Thus the Roman People, finding themselves oppressed by Tarquin, heartily concurred with the Patricians in dethroning and expelling him, without taking any due Precautions against Oppression from the Patricians, in whose Hands the Kingly Power still continued. The poor Populace saw no farther than the Name, and the Man; and, both these being gone, they perceived nothing to hurt them, and, therefore, nothing to fear. But, as Power and Ambition seldom sleep, what they perceived not at first, they amply felt afterwards. The Patricians, delivered from the Tyranny of Tarquin, forgetting how insupportable they had found Tyranny to Themselves, as also, by whose Aid and Courage they had shaken it off, began to exercise it over the Plebeians without Mercy or Bounds. The Plebeians, finding, at length, that they had only changed One severe Master for Many, roused by ill Usage, and listening to their own Demagogues, sought Redress and Protection from the Creation of Plebeian Officers; who, afterwards, abused their Power, and, consequently, The People, as much as ever the Patricians had done; as will fully appear, when I come to discourse of the popular Tribunes.
This, however, excuses not the Patricians; who might easily have foreseen what their rigorous Rule would produce, amongst a People so magnanimous and determined. Their bearing it, in many Instances, and for some Time, proved not, that they would always bear it; but only, that they were not yet desperate. They, indeed, wanted but One Spark to set so many inflamed Spirits on a Blaze: This Spark was administered by Volero; and one more effectual could not have happened.
It might have seemed reasonable, that the Roman Soldiers, that is to say, the Commonalty of Rome, who were daily venturing their Lives against the public Enemies, and bringing home continual Victories, should have shared in the good Fortune of the State; and that they, who were the Authors and Instruments of public Safety, and public Honour, should have enjoyed Ease and Esteem at home. But they found a very different Lot and Recompence; and, in Return for Triumphs and Laurels, won by them for the Commonwealth, and as a Reward for Inlargement of her Territory, and Revenue, and Strength, they were treated with Whips and Gaols, and found themselves Slaves, for having, by the Price of their Blood, preserved their Country free. Such just Cause had they to ask as they did, ‘Were we in the Power of our Enemies, whom we have so often vanquished, could They treat us worse than these our Fellow-Citizens treat us?’
In the midst of such bitter Usage on one Side, and of such grievous Complaints on the other, the sad Sight, and mournful Tale, of a miserable Man, in the public Place, whither he had just broke from Chains and Stripes, drew the whole Body of Plebeians thither, and filled up the Measure of their Resentment and Horror: He was an antient Man, covered with all the Marks of Wretchedness, and barbarous Usage; his Apparel old and nasty; his Body emaciated; his Countenance wan and meagre; his Eyes hollow; his Hair matted and staring; all together a Figure frightful and shocking. The doleful Impressions which his Appearance made, were greatly heightened by what he said; ‘That, whilst he was serving his Country, in the War against the Sabines, his Grounds were utterly wasted and ruined by the Enemy, and produced him no Harvest; his Farm itself was burned; all his Goods plundered; and his Stock of Cattle carried off: Besides, having the public Assessment to pay, he had been forced to borrow: To discharge this Debt, increased by monstrous Usury, he had parted, first, with the Estate left him by his Ancestors; then, with what other Effects he had; at last, to complete his Calamity, had surrendered up his Body: That his Creditors, not satisfied with holding him in Servitude, had doomed him to Irons and Torture.’ Next, he made his Back bare, and there shew’d the recent Gashes and Impressions of the Lash; whilst upon his Breast there appeared large Sears of Wounds from the public Enemy, all thus honourable received before. Add, that he was well known by some of the Spectators; who said, that they had seen him bravely engaged as an Officer at the Head of his Men, and distinguished for his noble Exploits in War. Such were the Merits, such the Sufferings, of Volero.
What needed there more to blow up general Discontent into a Flame? Nothing was seen in Rome, but Dissention and Uproar. Yet the Plebeians were quieted, for the present, by some reasonable Condescensions, which were very little observed, and by fair Promises, never made good: So that the old Grievances, returning or continuing, revived the old Complaints and Disaffection; and the People, who would have been satisfied with very moderate Concessions honestly fulfilled, quite weary of trusting to Words, and utterly provoked by false Dealings, insisted upon, and obtained the Creation of such a new Power in the Commonwealth, as, by altering the old Balance, formed as it were another and a new Commonwealth, and terribly diminished the Authority of the Patricians, as well as mortified their Pride. It was but the Course of Things: They who domineer when they are uppermost, cannot be surprised, nor ought to complain, when they are undermost, to find Others domineer over Them. Every Man has a like Right to injure another; that is, no Right at all: But whoever begins the Exercise of Injustice, has the least Right or Pretence to cry out when he suffers it.
[(a) ]Postquam Regum pertæsum, leges maluerunt. Tacit.
[(a) ]Plebi, cui ad eam diem summa ope inservitum est, injuriæ a primoribus fieri sapere. Liv.
[(a) ]Fremebant, se foris pro libertate & imperio dimicantes, domi a civibus captos & oppressos esse.