Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECT. VII.: When the People are thoroughly corrupt, all true Sense of Liberty is lost. Outrage and Debauchery then pass for Liberty, Defiance of Law for public Spirit, and Incendiaries for Patriots. - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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SECT. VII.: When the People are thoroughly corrupt, all true Sense of Liberty is lost. Outrage and Debauchery then pass for Liberty, Defiance of Law for public Spirit, and Incendiaries for 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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When the People are thoroughly corrupt, all true Sense of Liberty is lost. Outrage and Debauchery then pass for Liberty, Defiance of Law for public Spirit, and Incendiaries for Patriots.
COULD there be more glaring Mockery, than the Sound of Liberty from the Mouth of Clodius? Yet he declared for Liberty, and the Croud believed him; though they heard him, with the same Breath, threaten, what he continually practised, all Acts of Violence, and the Decision of the Sword. Nay, when this wild Tyrant had pulled down Cicero’s House, he erected a Fabric in its room, and consecrated it to Liberty: As if that excellent Roman, who had defeated the bloody Conspiracy of Catiline, which struck at the very Foundation of Liberty and of Rome, had been an Enemy to Liberty; and he, Clodius, acting like another Catiline, its Restorer! Whilst, at the same time, he was marching like a foreign Enemy in a City just taken by Storm, at the Head of his outrageous Cabal, with Fire-brands in their Hands, and in open Day setting Fire to the Houses of all such as had furnished him with Cause of Offence; namely, all such as opposed or disapproved his wild Doings. When these his bloody Followers had fallen upon a Tribune in the Interest of Cicero, and having wounded him in more than Twenty Places, left him for dead; as this Action might displease the People, who accounted their Tribunes sacred, these Blood-hounds resolved to murder a Tribune of their own Faction, that the Guilt might seem equal; as it would then appear done in a sudden Encounter between both Sides. Nay, these Ruffians had a Commission from him to plunder, burn, and kill, at Discretion. Thus was Rome, the Mistress of the World, insulted, and her Laws set aside, or defied, by one detestable Tribune, supported by the Multitude, who always supported the Worst and most Mischievous; insomuch that, for almost half a Year together, she was deprived of the Exercise of Justice, and, as it were, of Government, by the Fury of a popular Incendiary.
In short, all his Doings tended directly to overturn the State, and to introduce Tyranny; but passed with the Commonalty for Measures to increase and confirm Civil Liberty. There was good Policy in the Institution of observing the Heavens by the Augurs, or other Magistrates, during the Assemblies of the People, in order to prevent any wild Result from such Assemblies; since the Appearance of any ill Omen, declared by such Augur, or Magistrate, effectually dissolved them. This good Usage, so necessary at Rome, Clodius abolished by the Authority, and with the Applause, of the People. Of the same Tendency was his abridging the Power of the Censors, who could brand any Senator, or Roman Knight; and, indeed, degrade either: Nay, One of them could do all this; till, by a Law of the execrable Clodius, they were restrained from branding or degrading any, unless first accused before their own Order, and punished by their Concurrence. What was this but an Invitation to open Dissolution of Manners, and bidding Crimes and Debauchery prosper?
Could Madness and Corruption rise possibly higher in Magistrate, or People? And was such a State likely to subsist, such a People to continue free? Their Fondness generally followed the most vicious Men, such as meant to enslave them; and, in order to it, corrupted their Hearts, and humoured their Follies. They were therefore scarce ever under the Direction of wise and worthy Men, Men who would not cheat nor flatter them, not encourage their Idleness, and dissolute Manners. Blinded and bewitched with Cæsar’s Bounty and Complaisance, from his Almsmen they became, naturally enough, his Bondmen. He fed, and charmed, and enslaved them. Were they wiser after the Death of Cæsar, and after the Use which they had seen him make of their Corruption and Folly? No: They must still have some lewd Favourite to abuse and master them, and therefore trust him with their Liberties. Still corrupt and craving, and struck with Cæsar’s Legacy, they went eagerly into the Measures of Antony, who acquainted them with it, and who, under Pretence of avenging the Death of Cæsar, aimed at succeeding him. They therefore desert, nay, turn their Fury against, their true Friends the Tyrannicides, and strengthen the Hands of Antony, though his Success was to be attended with their Bondage, and must necessarily produce it.
Antony, thus set up and espoused by the deluded and ill-judging People, failed not to improve his Fortune with notable Activity and Boldness. The Tyrannicides, through Love of Peace, and Fear of the Army, had agreed with Cæsar’s Friends, that all his Acts and Regulations should remain in full Force(a) : So that he had really more Power now he was dead, than when he was alive. Such was the Oversight of the Tyrannicides, in not improving the first Heat and Spirit, whilst the People were yet with them, as at first they were; and whilst the Creatures and Supports of the late Tyranny were yet terrified and lurking. They might, at least, have confined Antony, and some other Chiefs, and Officers, either at Rome, or conveyed them away instantly to some distant Confinement. But, as they left him (I think weakly, I am sure very unhappily) at Liberty, and in Rome, he soon gained the poor fickle People, and then made the most of the late Stipulations. Amongst Cæsar’s Minutes and Regulations, he inserted and forged whatever he had a Mind to carry, and called it the Appointment of Cæsar. Even without such Pains and Ceremony, he often said, that this, or that, was Cæsar’s Design, and confidently put it in Execution. Thus there often passed, in his Name, such monstrous and daring Things, as, had he been alive, he would not have passed, nor suffered. By Antony’s enormous Demands and Donations from the Treasury, under colour of Cæsar’s Orders, most Part of the mighty Treasure, amassed by Cæsar for the War against Parthia, was exhausted.
So that Antony was first enabled by the People, and then enabled himself, to be a greater Tyrant, in Cæsar’s Name, than Cæsar himself was. By the Money, which he said was thus granted by Cæsar, he influenced the mercenary Spirit of Cæsar’s Army, and gained just as many as he was able to bribe; but, not having enough to bribe all, the rest devoted themselves to Octavius, upon the like sordid Consideration. For, the Roman Armies were become as corrupt as the Roman People. After so many Forgeries in the Name of Cæsar, it was the less Wonder, that Antony impudently forged Decrees in the Name of the Senate. This bold Villainy had been often practised by Cæsar.
Perhaps it may not be improper to take notice here, as a further Instance of the Fickleness and Folly of the Multitude at this very time, that, amongst the public Plays exhibited to the Romans, in the Name of Brutus, as Prætor, after the Death of Cæsar, was the Tragedy of Tereus, which, for the many severe Strokes in it against Tyranny, was extremely applauded by the People. Cicero justly laments, that they thus employed their Hands, not in defending their Liberties, but only in clapping at the Theatre. What I would observe from it, is, that they are naturally fond of Liberty, but generally judge ill about the Means of keeping it; that their Meaning is good, even when their Judgment is wrong; yet they oftener err in following the Sentiments of others, than in following their own.
[(a) ]Ut omnia facta scripta, dicta, promissa, cogitata Cæsaris, plus valerent, quam si ipse viveret.