Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECT. III.: Some Corruptions in the State to be borne, rather than removed by the Introduction of greater. - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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SECT. III.: Some Corruptions in the State to be borne, rather than removed by the Introduction of greater. - 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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Some Corruptions in the State to be borne, rather than removed by the Introduction of greater.
THE Transactions of this World, especially Transactions of State, are more Problematical than is generally thought or considered; and the truest Virtue may, at some Conjunctures, be exerted preposterously. No Man ever questioned that of Cato; his Virtue is become Proverbial. Yet, by carrying it further than the Times would bear, he sometimes hurt what he loved beyond his Life, even Liberty, and his Country. By this means, at one time, he lost to the Public the Body of the Roman Knights; a very powerful Body, and, till then, well disposed to assist against the exorbitant Power of Pompey and Cæsar. This was a great Consideration, superior to all others. But Cato gave is up, rather than allow them some Mitigation in a Bargain, for a Part of the Public Revenue. I forget whether he gained this small Point; sure I am, that, by insisting upon it, he lost a much greater. That great Body, thus piqued, fell instantly into the Arms of the first Triumvirate, who knew how to humour and prize them. So truly might Cicero say of Cato—optimo animo utens & summa fide, nocet interdum Reipub. dicit enim tanquam in πολιτείᾳ Platonis sententiam.
Cato hated all Corruption, Public and Private, and could not bear to see the Commonwealth wronged by the Farmers of her Revenue; nor the Roman Knights, who were such, grow rich at her Expence, and commit notorious Abuse and Oppressions, as they often did, as well as often refuse to comply with the Terms of their own Bargain. It was, in truth, melancholy and affecting, to consider how mercilesly these public Farmers squeezed and devoured the People in the Provinces, and to what cruel Extremities they drove them, even to sell their Children to satisfy the Tax-gatherers. Lucullus therefore deserved immortal Praise, for causing these poor People to be redressed; the more for the powerful Enmity which he incurred for such Mercy and Beneficence. It incensed the whole Equestrian Order, who thenceforward laboured his Downfal. For, Men who gain by Injustice, always think it unjust to be restrained from it. Such Injustice and Baseness in the public Farmers provoked the honest Mind of Cato. But he carried his Honesty further than the Times would bear, and, with an upright Design to assist the State, hastened its Fall.
Just so acted Appius the Censor. He, indeed, exercised that high Office with strict and severe Justice. But, whilst he attended to Justice only, he overlooked Reasons of State, which are often just, though they quadrate not with the simple and exact Ideas of Justice. For, by degrading many Senators of Distinction, though it was what in Strictness they deserved, he notably weakened the Republican Party; that is to say, his own Party, for which he was sincerely zealous; and consequently strengthened that of Cæsar, which he equally hated and opposed. Appius set cordially about the Cure of Corruption; and, by doing it, contributed to bring in universal Corruption, even the Domination of Cæsar, and Perdition to the Commonwealth.
Sylla, to secure himself from future Vengeance, for his present Cruelties and Oppression, made a Law, which excluded from all public Offices, the Children of all such Romans as he had proscribed. What was this but adding one Wickedness to another, and perpetuating his Cruelty? Could there be more apparent Justice, than to abolish that unrighteous and barbarous Law? Yet, when Sylla was dead, the Repeal of it was opposed by such as hated Sylla and his Power, even by the best and wisest Men in Rome; and for wise and just Reasons. For, had the Children of the Proscribed been restored to a Capacity for Employments, they might have been led, by their Resentment, to have cancelled all other Laws, all the useful Laws passed under Sylla, and thence brought great Disorder into the State.
The Abuse of Liberty, by turning it into Licentiousness, is Corruption, such Corruption as threatens, because it often brings, public Ruin; and therefore it is wise and just to cure it, in any Way consistent with Liberty. But it would be a much greater Corruption, to cure popular Licence by establishing Tyranny; that is, by giving absolute Power to one Man to prevent the Abuse of Liberty in many.
Whatever weakens the Power of a State, is Corruption, however righteous and plausible it may appear: Whatever preserves or increases its internal Strength, cannot be Corruption, though it may appear harsh and immoral. It is just to cut off a Limb to save the whole Body; as it would be unjust to expose the Body, to perish for the Sake of saving the Limb. When Spurius Mælius, who attempted to make himself Tyrant of Rome, could not be brought to Justice in the ordinary Way, whilst he was protected by the Multitude, whom he had bought and cheated by deceitful Acts of Liberality; it was necessary, and therefore just, to take away his Life by an extraordinary Power. Yet it was also just, because necessary, to forbear all Inquiry after his Adherents; because they were supposed to be very many; and it was judged rash, to make very many Citizens desperate.
The Rule and Art is, to make the Remedy strong enough for the Disease, without being too strong for the Patient. Cæsar and Crassus were engaged in the Conspiracy of Catiline, and it was just to have arraigned them for it; but it was not expedient, because not safe; for then the Criminals, many and powerful as they were, might have been too strong for the Prosecutors and the State. It was therefore just to spare them, however guilty. Yet it would have sounded well Abroad, and been a notable Topic for railing at Cicero, and charging him with Partiality and Corruption, in having passed by, or rather protected, the most Mighty of all the Traitors, and therefore the most Dangerous. But Cicero, who aimed only at saving his Country, was constrained to connive at some who were leagued to destroy it.
Caius Piso was one of the worst Men in Rome, a powerful and a desperate Incendiary, an Accomplice of Catiline, ready for all public Mischief, and more worthy of a Dungeon than Preferment; yet, was sent into Spain with supreme Command. This must surely seem very wrong and unjustifiable. There were, however, many worthy Citizens, and even Patriots, who approved it, and were pleased with it, for a powerful political Reason; namely, that he was a Man, who, from his Figure, Spirit, and Character, might serve to balance and check the overgrown Power of Pompey, become now altogether formidable.
The purchasing Votes at Rome, for public Employments, was justly restrained by strong and severe Laws; as what had a direct Tendency to ruin any State. Yet that Practice, wicked in most Circumstances, became necessary in some, and countenanced by the most virtuous Romans. Thus, when Cæsar, who had already given so many Proofs of a Genius utterly lawless and aspiring, was suing for the Consulship by Money, and all Methods of Corruption, such as wished well to the Public, and opposed him, thought it no Corruption to oppose him by the like Means, and, by a Contribution of Money, to assist Bibulus his Competitor. Even Cato owned, that bribing the Centuries against him conduced to the Security and Interest of the Commonwealth.
I am far from making, or intending by what I have said, any Apology for Corruption. I hate Corruption as much as I love what it tends to destroy, Liberty, Peace, and Justice. I mean only to shew, that what sounds like Corruption, may not be Corruption; and that it is not so much the Act, as the Characters and Designs of Men, that constitute it. I have owned every such Act to be Corruption in him to whom it is applied; but contend, that it may be otherwise in him who honestly and usefully applies it.
It was Corruption in Catiline, to bribe Men to promote his Interest against the Interest of the State: But it was public Spirit in Cicero, to gain Men by Money to serve the State against the treasonable Designs of Catiline.