Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECT. III.: The Virtue of the old Romans, in the Administration of Justice, and Government of Provinces. Their Posterity, and Successors, how unlike them. The wise and righteous Administration of Cicero, with that of the Provincial Governors in China - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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SECT. III.: The Virtue of the old Romans, in the Administration of Justice, and Government of Provinces. Their Posterity, and Successors, how unlike them. The wise and righteous Administration of Cicero, with that of the Provincial Governors in China - 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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The Virtue of the old Romans, in the Administration of Justice, and Government of Provinces. Their Posterity, and Successors, how unlike them. The wise and righteous Administration of Cicero, with that of the Provincial Governors in China.
GREAT Wealth had introduced into Rome, what it everywhere introduces, a blind Passion for Wealth, and endless Corruption. It is a Pleasure to look back to better Times and Men, in that mighty Republic; to review the Characters and Conduct of Scipio Africanus, of Lucius Scipio, of Marcus Marcellus, Titus Flaminius, Paulus Æmilius, and Lucius Mummius, Conquerors of great Kingdoms, their clear Hands at Home and Abroad, and their Benevolence to all Men. When we read their Story, how must we detest Verres, and all Oppressors! When we read the Story of Verres, how we must love the above amiable Names, and all who resemble them!
Lucius Mummius having, when Consul, vanquished and taken Corinth, of all the immense Wealth in that famous City, reserved nothing to himself; and died so poor, as to leave his Daughter, and only Child, without a Fortune. Lucius Scipio was so scrupulous, that, when he had broken his Ring, he ordered the Gold for another to be weighed out publickly to the Goldsmith, that there might be no room to cheat the Treasury which furnished it. Quintus Mutius governed Asia with such Integrity and Beneficence, that the Greeks there, upon his Departure, instituted an annual Festival to his Honour, called the Feast of Mutius.
There were found, to the last, some good Governors of the Roman Provinces; but generally they were very bad. The Julian Law, which obliged the Provincial Towns to supply such as travelled through them, under a public Character, with Hay, Salt, and Wood, was terribly stretched and abused. These Commodities were not only demanded from the Towns in which they lay, but from every Town through which they passed; and for these Advantages, which they wanted not, they took an Equivalent in Money, called perhaps a Perquisite, and, by the Force of a dishonest Word, reckoned lawful, though against Law, at least, the reasonable Meaning of Law.
These Governors found infinite Gain, in another Source of notorious Corruption, by levying great Sums from the several Cities and Districts, for excusing them from furnishing Winter Quarters to the Soldiers. Cyprus alone paid to the Governor of Cilicia, to which that Island was annexed, Two Hundred Attic Talents, computed at near Forty Thousand Pounds Sterling. Doubtless, nothing but the Dread of terrible Vengeance, for refusing so barbarous a Demand, could have brought the Cypriots to submit to it. Nor was the Governor the only Oppressor; his Lieutenants, and all his Officers and Followers, were Oppressors too. Nay, Stripes, with cruel Insults and Contumelies, exercised upon the Persons of the Plundered, never failed to accompany the Plunder. Scaptius, an Officer and Creature of the Governor of Cilicia, beset the Senate of Salamine, in the same Island, with a Body of Horse, and confined them so long together, that Five of them died of Hunger; I suppose, in order to force them into some lusty Boon, as well as into the Payment of a Debt due at Rome, which was the avowed Pretence.
It was not enough, that the Public provided Shipping, and Money, and whatever else was necessary, for the Journey of the Governors of Provinces, to prevent all Pretence of any Demand upon the poor People, sufficiently burdened with public Impositions. The Lust of Gain, and unbridled Rule, proved too hard for Law, and every other Consideration. Nay, what is most remarkable of all, the wretched Asiatics, so much oppressed by that very Governor of Cilicia, were prevailed with to send a solemn Deputation to Rome, at a vast Expence, to thank him publicly there. This extraordinary Practice was, however, not singular: The People of Messina, a great City in Sicily, dispatched the like Deputation to Rome, there publicly to praise that Monster Verres for his good Administration. We may guess how such Deputations were procured.
Cicero was the succeeding Governor in Cilicia; a blessed Change for the People! a public Saviour for a public Plunderer! He found them utterly unable to pay their Taxes: All their Revenues were mortgaged; nothing but Poverty, Groans, and Wailings, with all the Traces of a Government, not exercised by a human Creature over those of his own Kind, but by a wild Beast of Prey, ravaging human Society. No Wonder that they were charmed with the mild and virtuous Administration of Cicero. Yet, his Predecessor, far from being punished for his furious Misrule, was chosen into the most awful Office of the State, and created Censor. He was a Man, indeed, of high Quality, and high Spirit, and, which may seem wonderful, filled that sublime Station with great Integrity, as well as Vigour; indeed more strictly than was expedient for that critical Conjuncture, as I have already elsewhere observed.
From this his very opposite Administration of different Offices, I am inclinable to think, that, when Censor, he acted in his own Person; when Governor, left his Authority in the Hands of his Officers and Followers; as it often happens, that the best Men make the worst Governors, since they exert not their best Qualities, and, bearing only the Name, blindly trust others with the Discharge of their Duty. For, though the Spirit and Behaviour of Men be strangely various, yet it is not usually wont to change so suddenly and intirely, from a constant Course of Violence and Injustice, to a constant Course of invincible Probity and Justice.
Cicero, in his Journey to his Government, travelled wholly at his own Expence, and proved burdensome to none. He would not accept even the Benefit of the Julian Law. All his Retinue observed the same Moderation. He considered himself as employed to procure the Good of Mankind, with the Blessings and Praises of all such as he protected, and even of all whom he oppressed not, nor suffered to be oppressed. Such Virtue was then too rare, but thence the more glorious to him. Like other great and worthy Minds, he scorned to take every base Advantage from his Place. As he behaved himself, so did those about him; observing his Conduct, consulting his Honour, and following his Example. About a corrupt Man, every thing will be corrupt. Cicero was too quick, and attentive, to suffer his Administration to be stained by the Venality, or Oppression, of his Creatures, whilst his own Hands and Heart, and whole Conduct, were so clear, and so virtuously exercised, to procure the Ease and Felicity of the Province. It was therefore a just and honourable Testimony given of him by the famous Cato, ‘That the Excellency of his Government deserved high Praise; and, if public Honours were bestowed upon Virtue, as well as upon Victory, Cicero could never have too many.’
Cicero believed that it was the Duty of all Generals, and Governors of Provinces, to be content with the Glory of a righteous Administration, without any other Advantage. Nihil enim prætor laudem bonis atque innocentibus, neque ex hostibus, neque a sociis repetendum. The Conquests of Marcus Marcellus, in Sicily, were not more glorious to himself and the Commonwealth, than his Faith, and Disinterestedness, and Humanity, towards the Conquered. Such an Administration, brought not only high Glory to Rome, and her Magistrates, but equal Security and Strength. But such good Rule was far from being constant or universal. It grew common for the Roman Rulers, sent to rescue the Provinces from a foreign Enemy, to oppress and plunder them afterwards, with equal Violence, and continue it longer, and turn a small and temporary Deliverance into a severe and lasting Tyranny. A dreadful Circumstance to the Provinces, when they durst neither submit to Invaders, nor apply for Succours against them, nor forbear to apply. Thus the Roman Armies became more terrible than an Enemy’s Army. The Countries suffered less from a merciful Conqueror, than from their Governors afterwards, when they were intitled to Law and Protection. The natural Consequence was, that, when Rome lost her Liberty, the Provinces, long oppressed by her Citizens, readily complied with the Change, and submitted to the Government of the Cæsars.
Rare then were such good Governors from Rome as Cicero proved, and rare the Punishment of bad there. Almost all the great Men were corrupt, and, as in a common Cause, stood by one another. They who were to judge the Criminal, had been either Criminals, or expected to be; and therefore were little disposed to punish him for what they had practised, or were determined to practise, themselves. The lawful Gain of such Governments seemed small, without oppressing for more; and thus most of them undertook them purposely to oppress; for they were generally indigent, or rapacious, or both; and, as they were always Men of great Quality, who are not always the most virtuous, they ever depended upon powerful Protection at home.
Caius Macer, Governor of Asia, when accused for his lawless Administration there, before Cicero, then Prætor, though notoriously guilty, yet trusted so strongly to the Credit and Intercession of the renowned Marcus Crassus, his Kinsman, as boldly to put off his mourning Habit, which Men under Arraignment always wore; nor would he have been condemned by his Judges, notwithstanding all his Guilt, had it not been by the Power and Management of Cicero.
The famous Catiline was roundly acquitted of the like Charge, brought against him by the People of Africa, where he had been Governor; though his Guilt was as glaring as the Sun at Noonday: Nay, he impudently stood Candidate for the supreme Office of the Commonwealth, that of Consul, whilst he was yet under Arraignment.
When the Judges, appointed to try the wild and abandoned Clodius, desired a Guard for their Security; Catulus, who knew that they had been corrupted, asked them, If it was through Fear that the Money, with which they had been bribed, should be taken from them?
Lentulus, he who afterwards conspired with Catiline, having bribed his Judges, and being acquitted by a Majority of Two, declared publicly, that he regretted the Money given to one of them.
Had not, therefore, Caius Gracchus good Grounds to press the People of Rome, to transfer the Tribunals from the Senators to the Equestrian Order, when he urged, with so much Truth, that the Plebeians must never expect Justice, in any Dispute with the Nobility, when the Criminals themselves, or their Friends and Relations, sat as Judges? He alleged two recent Examples, of Cornelius Cotta, and Marcus Acilius, two principal Senators, guilty of scandalous Extortion undeniably proved, but suffered to escape Punishment, through the Corruption and Pattiality of their Judges.
Du Vignau relates a remarkable Instance of Avarice, Corruption, and Oppression, in the prime Vizier Cara Mustapha; that as he took the Tribute of Moldavia in Cattle, chiefly in Goats, such numerous Flocks were driven from thence to Constantinople, that, to make the most of them, he forced that great City to eat no other Meat but Goats Flesh for several Days together, till the Whole was consumed. Nuuman Bashaw, of the famous Family of Kuproli, Grand Vizier to the late deposed Sultan Achmet, had a more merciful Spirit. When that Prince, who was extremely covetous, and void of all Tenderness for his Subjects, had determined to break the Truce with the Czar of Muscovy, as the War could not be carried on without laying new and heavier Taxes upon the People, he ordered such to be forthwith raised. The Vizier first represented, that it was impossible; for that nothing ought to be levied upon the Subjects but what the Law and their Prophet prescribed: Then, perceiving such merciful Counsel to be displeasing to Achmet, he added, boldly, that, if he liked it nor, he must chuse another Vizier better skilled in the Arts of Oppression, like some that he had had not long before.
However great the Power be of the Provincial Mandarins in China, it is not sufficient to support them in the Exercise of their Charge, unless they act with such Benevolence, and public Spirit, as to be reputed the Fathers, as well as Governors, of the People. They therefore strive to enrich their Provinces, and employ the People profitably: They even extend their Cares to all Quarters and Persons. One of the Occupations of these great Mandarins is likewise to instruct the People, which they do with great Assiduity and Gravity twice a Month, upon important moral Subjects, upon all public and private Duties, in a plain Style, by Arguments obvious to their Understandings; without any Terms of Ambiguity and Strife, or distracting the Heads of the poor People with Chimeras, Subtleties, and egregious Nonsense.
The Mandarins are supposed, by such frequent Instructions, so to form the Minds and Morals of the People, as to prevent the Commission of all notable Crimes; and, when such Crimes happen, the Mandarin is answerable for them, or obliged, at least, to find out and punish the Criminals: Nay, he is sometimes turned out of the Government, where such Crimes prevail, merely because they prevail; for that they are supposed to proceed from his little Care in instructing the People.
It is from such Institutions as these, that the Chinese Provinces surpass all the Nations of the Earth in Numbers, as that Government, in general, does in good Policy, and consequently in Felicity; insomuch that, in Compation with the Antiquity and Stability of the Government of China, all the Governments of the Earth besides are but of Yesterday.