Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECT. IV.: How hard to prevent Corruption, where the Means of Corruption are found. - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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SECT. IV.: How hard to prevent Corruption, where the Means of Corruption are found. - 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 hard to prevent Corruption, where the Means of Corruption are found.
SUCH is the Nature of Man, and of Society, that where-ever the Means of Corruption are found, the Exercise of it will soon follow. Rome was at first Virtuous from Necessity, very Poor, almost always in War and Danger. Poverty, and Equality, (which is often the Effect of Poverty, especially in new Establishments, before the Pride of Blood and Lineage begins) proved her Defence for some time against Ambition. She had no Trade, no Money, no Room or Materials for Luxury. Temperance and Frugality naturally followed Necessity. Iron, the best Instrument in forming and preserving their State, was more esteemed than Gold, which Men seldom love, till it has hurt them; that is, taught them by Use to desire more than they want. They had no slavish Dependents; for the Relation of Patron and Client implied no more than a kind Intercourse of Protection and Duty. Each supported Himself; for none were able then to support Many, and thence to draw numerous Dependencies. Liberty was their great Passion; Virtue had all Opportunities of shining, none of being debauched and enervated. But their Habits changed with their Condition; they first grew less Virtuous, then Vicious, at length Abandoned. It is the Course and Fate not of Romans only, but of Men.
Just so it fared with the Saracens, at first Poor, Virtuous, and Self-denying; afterwards, very Voluptuous, from being very Rich. Omar, the second Caliph, was such an Admirer of their former Condition of Meanness in Equipage, Living, and Dress, that in his Progress to the Camp at Jerusalem, besieged by his Army, the same Camel carried him and his Provisions, a Couple of Sacks, one holding Grain, the other Fruits; before him, a great Leathern Bottle of Water; behind him, a large wooden Platter. Thus he travelled more like what he had been, than what he was; a Farmer, than a Prince; and, perceiving some Saracens dressed in rich Silks, the Plunder of Christians, he sorely chastised their Pride, ordered them to be dragged through the Dirt with their Faces downward, and their fine Attire to be rent in Pieces. And though, like all Conquerors, he was cruel to human Race; he was, like some other Conquerors, just and humane to Particulars. He said, to certain of his People, who were punishing a poor Man for not paying, what he was not able to pay, his Tribute; he said, and quoted Mahomet for it, ‘Do not afflict Men; for those who afflict Men, God will afflict, and punish them in Hell-fire on the Day of Judgment.’ Enthusiasm hindered him, as Ambition does others, from seeing how much he himself was afflicting the World, by the Violence of War, in making Conquests, and settling Mahometism.
Such were the first Saracens in Plainness and Frugality; nay, most of the Spoil taken in War, and of the Tribute paid by the conquered Nations, was appropriated to the Use of the Public, untouched by their Princes, who took hardly any Part to themselves, as I have elsewhere observed. But after they had been some time accustomed to Wealth, they found out all its Allurements and worst Uses, and became a most interested and voluptuous Race, both Prince and People. The Ottomans too, who conquered the Saracens, began like them, and ended like them; in the Beginning, Plain and Temperate; at last, Luxurious, Avaricious, and Splendid. The Ottoman Princes, for a long while, like the Saracen Princes, did not appropriate any of the Public Revenue to their own Personal Expence. Afterwards, the Public Revenue scarce sufficed some of their Successors for their Personal Waste and Luxury.
In truth, where-ever Riches come, they never fail to bring along with them their Abuse, as well as Use; and are, next to Superstition, the great and successful Instrument of corrupting human Society. For, as Men are chiefly led by a Passion for Ease and Pleasure, whatever most readily purchases these, will be proportionably esteemed; and, as Riches procure all worldly Things, they will be prized above all such Things. Even Virtue, fine Qualities and Acquirements, will be less valued than Wealth, because Wealth, which can do more than they, will be consequently more popular and potent. When Money, and not Worth, comes to be the Standard of Respect, the most Rich, however Sordid and Vicious, come to be preferred before the most Able and Virtuous; and Profuseness, which is Folly, baffles Merit and Wisdom, upon any Competition for popular Favour.
This is one of the ill Consequences of Riches: They bring Weight and Esteem to the Possessor, though he be otherwise empty, silly, and immoral. Hence Scorn follows Virtue in Poverty; and the great Strife comes to be that of excelling in Wealth, which thus becomes an Equivalent for all Merit, and conceals all want of it. Great Talents are not to be acquired, great Opulence may; and then it stands for Talents, Virtue, and All things. Thus Men come to contend, not for Superiority in Merit, but in Money, which is often the Portion of the Fool, and the Profligate.
Does Money adorn any Man’s Mind? Does it improve the Head, or mend the Heart? What is valuable in a Man, but his Disposition and his Faculties? Is it not They chiefly that set him above Brutes, which, for Symmetry and Strength, often surpass him? Riches make him not less a Beast, where, in his Habits and Propensities, he is one. A Wolf, or a Tyger, lying in Dens full of Gold and Diamonds, would be still a Wolf, or a Tyger; and a worthy Man not less worthy, though he possess neither Diamonds nor Gold. No Man has any Advantages, for which his Person ought to be valued, but what are Personal. Neither Wealth nor Power is so. A Man therefore may be a Wretch, though very rich and powerful.
All Order and Justice comes to be inverted, when Riches bear Sway, or are made the Means of it. This is true Corruption, which then taints and pervades all Things, and grows the Beginning, the Middle, and the End. A Man then, instead of pleading his Services to his Country, or having shewn his Capacity to serve it, need only produce his Money, and shew, That he is rich. It was so at Rome. The worst Men carried popular Elections from the best, by being richer, or by employing their Riches to bribe the People. And, as they gave them Money, they made Money of them: Such giving and receiving Money for Votes, and Votes for Money, was an obvious Bargain, plain Traffick, buying in order to sell. The People see it not at first, nor its Tendency. They conclude, that he who pays them best, can serve them best; or, that he is their best Friend, without once thinking of his Services and Trust: Nor can they believe, that one who is so generous to them, and one to whom they are so kind, can mean them any harm, or would raise himself higher at the Expence of his good Friends, who thus raised him so high. They that are shy in the Beginning, grow less so, as the Thing becomes more common; and become reconciled, by Degrees, to that which had once shocked them. Some, who never approve it, come in the End to practise it, when they judge, that their single Integrity cannot possibly resist a general Contagion; at least, they find this Excuse for what their Integrity cannot but condemn.
Immense were the Sums which it cost the Roman Candidates for Places and Preferments, in bribing and entertaining the People. It is easy to guess, if it were not known, as it notoriously is, what Frauds and Rapine must follow such Prodigality, and what Impunity such Rapine. The Magistrates, who had paid so dear for their Promotion, thought themselves intitled to make Reprizals, and to reimburse themselves, besides making the best of their Employments. Besides, it was but prudent to levy and reserve a good Sum, to convince the Tribunals of their Innocence, and just Administration, in case any clamorous Complainers, whom they had, perhaps, oppressed no more than the rest, should force them to defend themselves there.
Cæsar, besides wasting all his own Substance, ran in Debt near Two Millions of our Money, by bribing the People, and their Tribunes; with what View is apparent. For it is natural to Ambition to make its Advantage, and a Tool, of Avarice. Cæsar did by Bribes what his Sword, without them, never could have done, oppressed the Liberty of his Country. Perhaps he considered the Roman People, as his Property, and that, because he had bought them, he might take them. Neither could they, or any other People who do so, complain, with Decency, of any ill Usage from such as they suffer to purchase them.