Front Page Titles (by Subject) DISCOURSE VIII.: Of Civil Wars. - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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DISCOURSE VIII.: Of Civil Wars. - 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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Who the first Authors of Civil War: What inslames it most, and why it is so hard to be checked.
SALLUST, in recounting the many Causes operating at Rome towards Civil War, mentions the Spirit of Disaffection, like a Contagion, seizing the Minds of Men; some out of Place, eager to be in; others, ill using their Power; many, desperate in their Affairs, and hoping to mend them by the Calamities of the State: The Poverty of the Vulgar, who had Hopes to Win, without Danger of Losing; all Criminals, all vicious, prodigal, and desperate Men, flocking from all Quarters to Rome; Numbers admiring the Times and Usurpation of Sylla, whence common Soldiers were raised to the Dignity of Senators, and to the Riches of Kings; all the Descendents of such whose Estates were then forfeited; all Parties who were angry at the Senate, and would rather see the State in Confusion, than themselves deprived of Sway.
How well the Effects agree with such powerful and discouraging Causes, I hope the following Discourse will shew.
As Faction proves often the Beginning and Cause of Civil War, Civil War, which is the last and highest Effort of Faction, has but one certain Way of curing Faction; that is, by the Extinction of Law and Liberty; of that very Liberty, which, being wantonly stretched and abused, ends in destroying itself. Thus they, who having too much Liberty, and yet still contended for more, as if they that could bear none had not enough, became Slaves in their Pursuit of Freedom. Neither is there a more certain Sign, or more effectual Cause, of Slavery, than Liberty pushed to Licentiousness, which, by making all Men Masters, must soon reduce all Masters to one. So that Anarchy, which is Power assumed by All; and Tyranny, which is all Power exercised by One; though very distant in Sound, are nearer to each other in Effect, than many things that have greater Conformity of Names.
And as they, who under the Pretence of vindicating or supporting Liberty when it is not hurt, nor lessened, nor attacked, incense the People against their lawful Rulers, or disable their lawful Rulers from well governing the People, are the Authors of Faction, and Promoters of a Civil War; so they who are possessed of lawful Power, and abuse it by using it unlawfully, or assume more than they have, and from Magistrates turn Oppressors, are accountable for all the Mischief that follows such public Provocation and Insolence; especially when they persevere in their arbitrary Doings, after all Remonstrances, and in spight of all Warnings; and, by so doing, manifest a settled Intention and Rancour against the People, and their Liberties. For the People, for their own Sakes, ought to try all Expedients with Patience, before they try the Sword, which may serve to cut them off, as well as to save them; and therefore never to trust to it, (for Civil War is a terrible Lottery) till they have full Proof, that they have nothing else to trust to; and then, Woe be to the Aggressors! Let the Merit and Result of all Civil Wars, as also the Pretensions of all Princes, and all People, who have engaged in them, be tried by this Rule.
Power unrestrained, and Liberty uncontrouled, are both apt to make Men wanton and insolent; Magistrates to despise and oppress their People; the People to defy and insult their Magistrates; and therefore both have a direct Tendency to produce Civil Wars. The Magistrate will strive to maintain, and consequently to extend, his Power; as will the People, to secure and increase their Liberty and Independence. He pleads his Authority, they their Rights; both deny each others Claims: He prepares to use Force, they to resist it. Thenceforward he treats them as Rebels; they him as an Usurper: That is, they commence on both Sides open Enemies, and bring the Contest to the Decision of the Sword; which, when it is once drawn, measures Right and Reason only by Success; maintains Justice and Protection by killing and destroying; settles Property by seizing it; and, whoever has the sharpest Weapon, has the best Cause.
Whoever would kindle a Civil War, for whatever Ends, good or bad, needs only set it on Foot; that is, bring the opposite Sides to shed one another’s Blood; and then it will go on of itself but too naturally and freely. Mutual Hatred, which may subsist, at least awhile, without Violence, becomes then mutual Vengeance, ravening after Sacrifices, and human Slaughters; and both Parties, having the same Provocation, and the same furious Pursuit, must needs act implacably, and delight in afflicting, distressing, and butchering one another(a) .
In Wars between Nation and Nation, the Individuals of each, not knowing one another, can have no reciprocal Aversion, or Bitterness, from personal Causes and Distaste; so that the Rage of the Commonalty is chiefly Personal to the opposite Chief; as the English hated Lewis XIV. and the French hated King William III. At least such personal Hate extended no further than a few remarkable Officers in both Armies, such as had distinguished themselves by their Bravery and Success, or, perhaps, by their Cruelty. The Bulk of both Armies were animated towards each other, only by a general Enmity, which has nothing of the Rancour arising from particular Enmities of one Man towards another.
Thus Civil War comes to be more fierce and outrageous than other Wars. In other Wars, the Particulars fight for Pay, or Plunder; but here, Family Animosities are superadded, with the Emulation of Neighbours; and the Dispute is not only between Men and Men, for Rule and Command, which can fall into the Hands of but One, or a Few; but it is a Conflict between Individuals, between Subject and Subject, Thomas and Peter, upon private Antipathy, and for personal Injuries. And whereas Quarrels between Nation and Nation, as they arise upon certain Points, easily known, and not many in Number, may be adjusted by settling, or giving up, these Points; and it is generally in the Power and Option of one Man, or a few of each Nation, so to adjust them; since each Nation leaves it to their Civil Governors, as to begin such Wars, so to end them; it is quite otherwise in Civil Wars: For then the Civil Government is not known, at least not owned, by both the contending Parties; and the Points of Contention are as infinite, as the Caprices, Animosities, Pursuits and Sufferings of particular Men.
The chief Power in a Civil War, vested in the Generals, yet little reverenced by the Soldiers. Both Soldiers and People grow hardened and ungovernable.
IT is not in the Power of any General (for they own no other than that of their General) to satisfy, nor consequently to controul, the Demands of the Subalterns and Soldiers, who, in Civil Wars, have often more Authority than their Commander. For, though his Power, in its Nature, be absolute; yet, as he can exercise none without their Leave and Assistance, they seldom leave him more than squares with their own good Liking. Sylla, as cruel and ambitious as he was, endeavoured to end the Civil War by an Offer of fair Terms: But no Peace could please such as had engaged in it, upon Views altogether immoderate and pernicious.
‘The Generals of the Party, (says Tacitus, speaking of that of Vespasian) Men so vigorous and puissant in kindling the Civil War, were found insufficient to controul the Spirit of Victory.’ When they had conqueted all their Enemies, they could not controul their own Men. The Reason which he assigns, is very just: ‘In exciting public Tumults, even the worst Men have the greatest Sway: But to uphold Peace, righteous Measures, and virtuous Management, are required.’ He had been just recounting the miserable State of Rome, immediately after that Victory; that ‘The Streets were filled with Carnage, and mangled Coarses; the Temples, and Places of public Resort, were dyed and streaming with Blood; and all were butchered, who presented themselves to the destroying Sword. Anon, private Houses were searched, and such as lay hid there were dragged out; and every-where the Tall and Youthful were murdered without Mercy or Exception. This Cruelty, when glutted with Blood and Killing, was strait changed to Rapaciousness; all Places were broken and plundered, and Murder always attended Opposition. The indigent Populace were as busy as cruel, and as rapacious as the Soldiers. Slaves betrayed their Lords; as did one Friend another:—On all Sides Wailing, and the Voice of Anguish, with the miserable Spectacle of a City stormed and sacked; yet they who caused the Calamity, could bring no Relief.’
The Prince, or the General of an Army, may, perhaps, have Authority enough to order any egregious Mischief to be done; such as burning or plundering a City, or putting worthy Men, and innocent People, to the Sword; but have no Power to prevent any, especially the worst Mischiefs from being done; as was the Case of Otho; and the same may be observed of almost all Generals, in all Civil Wars.
It was so even with Cæsar, the most able and most successful Commander in Rome; it was so with Augustus, a Prince, fortunate beyond most that ever reigned; both forced to wink at Sallies of Rage and Excesses in their Officers, which, sometimes at least, they would gladly have prevented: It was the Case of Cromwell, whose Agitators, a Faction raised in the Army by himself, and encouraged by him for Purposes of his own, to represent and assert the Interest of the Soldiery, became at last so formidable to him, that he was forced to venture a bold Stroke, and even his Life, to quell them.
It was also the Case of the Duke of Mayenne with the Junto of Sixteen at Paris, Men selected from the several Quarters of that City, as the ablest and most determined Demagogues, to oppose the Parliament, to inflame the People, and keep up the furious Spirit of the Ligue; and, at first, they did him notable Service, as the Agitators did Cromwell; but as soon as they found their own Strength and Influence, they began to assume sovereign Power, to act for Themselves, and not for Him; committing the most barbarous Injustice and Cruelties upon all Sorts of Men, and dooming Magistrates of the most venerable Character and Rank to the Gallows, and the like ignominious Punishment; amongst others the President Brisson, the great Light of the Law, and of public Justice: Insomuch that the Duke de Mayenne was obliged to have recourse to Violence on His Side too; and executed several of these his own Instruments, and subordinate Leaders.
These Demagogues had even a Chance for continuing their Authority without him, and in spite of him; as, probably, they would, at least for a time, if they and the Army had but agreed to have supported each other; as sometimes, in Civil Dissentions, the People and the Soldiers, that is, the Incendiaries who influence both, agree in Measures of Anarchy and Fury, though seldom in those of equal Righteousness, and common Good. Thus, at Constantinople, the Populace and the Janizaries frequently go Hand in Hand to pull down and butcher their Rulers, both supreme and subordinate, and to set up others; but never once propose, much less concert, any Scheme to secure themselves, and all Men, against the Excesses of their future Rulers; Excesses arising naturally and necessarily from the Frame of their Government, of which they are very fond, and see no Fault in it; nay, despise all other Governments, such, especially, as provide best for public Security, by limiting the Power of the Governors. The Turks daily feel and rue the dreadful Rigour of their own brutal Sovereignty; but see no further than the Men who administer it; and, therefore, aim only at Them, like a Dog that bites the Stone which is thrown at him. They murder and dethrone, without mending their Condition; and satiate their Vengeance, without finding Amends or Restitution.
In former Ages, too, during the Reign of the Greek Emperors, in all the frequent Insurrections, and dethroning of Princes, the common People were as forward as the Soldiers; and no Imperial City was ever more fertile in Revolutions even then: For the Emperors, though the State abounded in Laws, and they professed to rule by Law, yet generally ruled without and against Law; and, supporting unjust Power by Violence, exposed themselves to be used violently; and thence furnished an eternal Source of Revolts, Massacres, and Civil Wars.
Hence, too, from the Frequency of the Evil (and Civil War, which infers all Evils, is, consequently the greatest of all) People grow hardened, lose all Horror of public Calamities and Confusion, and become disposed, if not to encourage, at least not to oppose, what they would otherwise have considered with Dread and Abhorrence, and ventured their Lives to prevent.
In the last Struggle between the Armies of Vitellius and Vespasian, even in the Streets of Rome, the People, instead of being doleful and affrighted Witnesses, instead of bewailing the public Lot, and the Curse of Civil Arms, and of feeling Anguish for their native City, the Pride and Mistress of the Earth, now wallowing and defiled with the Blood of Romans, as well as of Barbarians; instead of Concern for her Property, and the Lives of her Citizens, for her Beauty and Buildings, and even for her Being, all at the Mercy of the Sword and Flames, were so little affected with such Sympathy, and tender Concern, that, ‘They were gathered as curious Spectators about the Combatants; and, as if they had been only attending the Representation of a Sight exhibited for public Amusement and Sport, they favoured and espoused now These, anon Those, with theatrical Shouts and Clappings: Nay, as often as either Side recoiled, and Particulars had fled into Houses, or lay hid in Shops, they insisted upon their being dragged out and slain; and thus came Themselves to enjoy the largest Part of the Prey: For, whilst the Soldiers were only pursuing Blood and Slaughter, the Spoil fell to the Possession of the Commonalty. Tragical and ghastly was the Face of the whole City: In one Place deadly Conflicts, and bleeding Wounds; in another luxurious Bathings, and Feats of Riot; everywhere Blood in Streams, and Carcases in Piles; yet just at Hand wanton Harlots, or such as resembled Harlots; Acts of Debauchery and Voluptuousness, as extravagant as ever were practised during a Season of Luxury and Repose; with all the Barbarities attending the most merciless Captivity: Insomuch that you would have thought the same City, at once, transported with brutal Outrage, and abandoned to sensual Revellings. Rome had before seen contending Armies in her Streets; where Sylla twice remained Conqueror, and once Cinna; nor was there then less Cruelty exercised: But now, amongst Men, there prevailed an Unconcern and Security perfectly inhuman; nor, for a single Moment, were their Pursuits of Pleasure postponed: Nay, as if this Confusion and Carnage had seasonably intervened to heighten the Gaiety of their festival Days, they exulted, they pampered and indulged, to both Parties utterly indifferent, and triumphing in public Miseries.’ This Account we have from Tacitus.
The shocking Corruption, and dissolute Manners, produced by Civil War; with the dreadful Barbarities and Devastations attending it.
AS Civil War hardens the Heart, it likewise debauches all Degrees of Men. It furnishes Men of Ambition with a Prospect of raising themselves to Power; and animates the Avaricious and Indigent with Hopes of Plunder: It enures People to Sights and Acts of Cruelty; and thence banishes or lessens their natural Tenderness and Humanity, and teaches them to despise the Laws, and, consequently, Right and Wrong, by perceiving all these daily trampled under Foot: Insomuch that, at the End of one Civil War, there are always Numbers who wish for another; and always forward to begin it, as a ready way to grow considerable, if they be low; to grow rich, without much Labour, if they be poor and rapacious; to be revenged on their Enemies, if they be vindictive; to live without Restraint, if they be debauched and licentious; and without Fear, if they be obnoxious to Punishment and Restraint, for Debt, and Disorder, and Crimes(a) .
All Revolutions are Seasons of wonderful Latitude and Licence, as well as of strange Vicissitudes, and sudden Turns, where the Wicked are often rewarded, at least saved, and the Harmless punished. Cornelius Aquinas and Fabius Valens, having sollicited Fonteius Capito to rebel against Galba, and Capito (though otherwise a Man far from virtuous) having rejected their Sollicitations, they charged him with the very Treason which he refused to commit, and slew him as a Traitor. The Murderers of Galba boasted of being so, and even craved a Reward; many at once assuming that horrible Merit.
The Evils which any Civil War, however short, produces, are so many and shocking, as to deter every honest and humane Mind from every Step that tends to raise one; as in it neither Life nor Property is secure, but even exposed to continual Peril and Violence: When Innocence is a Snare, and the Laws no longer protect; when Men follow only the Bent of their worst Passions; when the Ties of Morality are dissolved, with those of Society; and even those of Consanguinity and Nature are disregarded; when blind Force dictates, and the Weak and Unoffending must bleed or obey; when the Lowest and Worst Men are daily prospering and rising, merely, perhaps, for being the worst; and the Greatest and Worthiest are destroyed or depressed, probably for that Reason only; when the vilest Instruments are encouraged and supported, and Wealth and Virtue subject to their Malice and Rapine, without Protection or Appeal; when the Magistrate’s Authority is defied by the Officer, that of the Officer by his Men; when the common Soldiers are Masters, and the licentious Rabble fear no Restraint; when the Works and Monuments of Ages, with the noblest Efforts of human Genius, are destroyed in an Hour; and Cities, which gloried in Opulence and Antiquity, reduced at once to Ashes by a few Incendiaries, perhaps in a Whim, or from Mistake, or in a drunken Fit; all their numerous and wealthy Inhabitants either burnt, or begging, or sold to Slavery, or murdered, for Want of Money to redeem them; the old Men dragged about in Derision, then butchered, as useless; the young Men committed to Bonds; the young and virtuous Women forced to bear the Embraces of Brutes yet reeking with the Blood of their Mothers and Fathers and Brothers, shed in their Sight, for endeavouring to save these their dear Children, or Sisters, or Wives, from Brutality and Dishonour; a Lot worse than Death.
It was the Design of the Soldiery, after they had murdered Galba, (for which Murder they had no Pretence, but their own vile Avarice, and his ill-timed Frugality) to have their Hands let loose to general Pillage and Massacte, and to bring to Destruction every able and every worthy Man in the Roman State. Thus they vehemently pressed the Death of Marius Celsus for his Abilities and Virtues; which they dreaded and abhorred as dangerous Crimes.
Guilty Men are always disposed to revolt, like the Soldiers of Nymphidius, Captain of the Prætorian Guards to Nero; like the Soldiers of Vindex in Gaul, and the Armies in Germany. They had all been engaged in treasonable Designs; and, being conscious of such Engagements, continued prone to every Act of Treason. The Soldiery then, having been long accustomed to the base Reign of Nero, came to admire the Vileness and Vices of their Princes, as much as the Armies of old had adored their Virtues; as Tacitus observes. It was, therefore, no Wonder, what otherwise would seem very wonderful, that Two common Soldiers should undertake to transfer the great Roman Empire from one Prince to another; and actually so transferred it, as the Minds of all the rest were before foured and prepared.
In a Civil War, as both Parties are generally implacable, and determined to carry their Point, general Cruelty and Devastation, and even general Destruction, must ensue, till it is ended by a general Victory; which can hardly happen, till after infinite Havock and Misery. Cicero says, ‘The Civil Dissentions between popular and powerful Men (he means the Heads of Parties) never used to have any other Issue than universal Desolation, with the Domination of the Conqueror, and settled Tyranny. Sylla, when Consul, in his Descent very noble, in his Person very brave, had a Contest with the celebrated Marius; each of these was vanquished and sell, yet so that each again became Conqueror, and exercised sovereign Sway. Between the Consul Octavius, and his Collegue Cinna, Discord arose; to both these Fortune, proving propitious, presented absolute Rule; and upon both these Fortune, turning cross, brought their mortal Doom.’
Even during the Peace ensuing these Civil Wars, the Sword continued drawn(a) , and was employed against such as had quietly surrendered. Sylla, for Example, not satisfied with the Slaughter of above Seventy thousand Men at his Entrance into Rome, commanded several Thousand Roman Citizens, submitting to his Power, and unarmed, to be openly massacred in the midst of Rome; besides the Carnage committed every-where by his Men, at their Pleasure; till Furfidius advised them, for their own Sake, to let some live, else they would have none to rule, or rather to domineer over. Then followed the bloody Proscription, the most daring and dreadful Butchery of all, that of Two thousand distinguished Romans, selected from the Senate and Equestrian Order. Nay, shedding their Blood was not enough: Some illustrious Men were torn leisurely Limb from Limb, their Eyes pulled out, their Legs and Arms rent from their Trunks, still breathing, and thus exposed as a Shew. The Destruction of Communities succeeded that of Men, and the most illustrious free Cities in Italy were confiscated, and even sold by Auction, such as Florence, Præneste, Spoletum, &c.
When Fortune had declared for Vitellius, Italy suffered Calamities more oppressive and barbarous than she had during the War. The Soldiers, quartered in the great Towns, let themselves loose to Spoil and Ravage, to Cruelty and Pollution; following Rapine, or compounding at a Price to forbear; sparing neither things Sacred nor Profane. Some assumed the Garb of Soldiers, thus safely to kill their particular Enemies. The Soldiers themselves, marking out for Plunder all the rich Farms, where they met Resistance, devoted both these, and the Owners, to Fire and Sword.—Nor dared their Generals to restrain them, being themselves guilty, and quite awed by their Men. For,
To engage them thoroughly in the Civil War, general Licentiousness was one of the great Baits offered and allowed them by the contending Chiefs: Insomuch that not only the Butchering of all their own Centurions, remarkable for Discipline, was connived at; but they were allowed to chuse others in their Places, and then they always chose the least qualified, and the most seditious. So that it was no Wonder to see the Soldiers no longer under the Controul of their Leaders, nor the Leaders forced headlong by the Fury of the Soldiers(a) .
It is to be observed too, that the less regular and brave Soldiers are, the more licentious, and disobedient, and merciless they are. Tacitus says, that, ‘As, amongst the Soldiers of old, to surpass each other in Modesty, and Feats of Valour, was their only Contention, they at this time (that is, during the Civil War) vied in Impudence and Mutinies.’ Hence they were continually destroying, or demanding the Destruction of, their Commanders. When they themselves had been guilty of any remarkable Violence, or Cowardice, they were sure to punish their Officers, especially the Brave and Innocent: And, if sometimes they became ashamed of their Madness, their wild Fears, and Mistakes, and for a little while relented, their former Fury and Folly soon returned. As, these Outrages were common to whole Legions, one Legion encouraged another in them; and as some Legions thought, that, by the Sedition of others, their own was obliterated, they all rejoiced in repeating their Guilt. Sometimes they were animated to these Acts of Sedition and Blood by one Commander, in order to get rid of others, that the whole Sway and Praise might remain with himself. But whatever was the Cause of such repeated Guilt, they were almost eternally guilty. When they were not doing Mischief in a Body, they crept singly into private Houses, in disguised Habits, as Spies, watching for Matter of Accusation and Ruin, against Men of Wealth and Eminence: So that as no Man was safe at Home, every Man lived in Fear there.
Neither was it against the Insufficiency, or Infidelity, of their Leaders, that they were apt thus to rage. They were often, on the contrary, ready to prompt and encourage such Infidelity. Who was a more able, who a more unblameable, and even admired Commander than Germanicus? Yet, with what Outrage did they use him; drag him from his Bed, and threaten his Life, scorning his Authority, and proceeding to general Mutiny, and Acts of Blood, before his Face; after they had tempted him, in vain, to usurp the Empire himself? Where was there a more loathsome and contemptible Character than that of Vitellius, a Glutton, more resembling a Swine than a Man; yet, in such high Estimation with the Soldiers, that hardly had any Man ever gained such an Interest in their Hearts by worthy Methods, as he had by mere Impotence, Gluttony, and Sloth? We have this Account of him, and them, upon the Authority of Tacitus. All the military Virtues and grand Capacity of that mighty Captain, the great Marshal de Turenne, could not secure to him the Attachment of his Army, when he had declared for the Party of the Slingers, in the Minority of Lewis XIV. against the base Administration of Mazarine. The Cardinal’s Money bribed them all from him in the Space of a Night.
Otho too was the Favourite of the Soldiers, in a very high Degree, by the Force of much Flattery, and profuse Bounty; yet neither Otho nor Vitellius could prevent their Fury and Excesses. In Sight of Vitellius, and in Spight of him, they first besieged, and then burnt, the Capitol, the Glory, and Strength, and Boast of Rome. In spight of Otho, upon a foolish Suspicion and Mistake, some of them drunk, all of them mad for Plunder, they murdered their Officers, and entered Rome like a hostile Army, breathing Destruction to all Men; but especially to the Senate, whom, in express Terms, they professed to butcher. They even burst open the Palace-Doors, to his own great Dread, as well as of all about him; neither could he effectually quell their Fury, even by unmanly Sobs, and Tears, and servile Supplications, till to these he added, what was of more Force, indeed the only Means of Safety and Peace, a Donative. During this dreadful Uproar, Persons of the first Rank in Rome fled by Night for their Lives; Magistrates without their Ensigns and Train; tender Ladies, and antient Noblemen, roaming hither and thither in the Dark, few returning to their own Homes; most seeking lurking Holes amongst the Lowest of their Dependents.
The Soldiery, in a Civil War, only consider themselves: What low Instruments and Causes serve to begin and continue it.
THE Soldiery, in all Civil Wars, generally consider neither the Cause, nor the Commander; but only Themselves, and Licentiousness, and Rapine. When News were brought to the Army in Gaul, that Galba was murdered, and the Sovereignty devolved upon Otho, such News moved not the Spirit of the Soldiery, either with Grief, or Joy; for their Spirit was only intent upon War, without regarding for whom, or for what. Sometimes they committed the most horrid Mischiefs and Cruelties, even without View to Plunder, or any Provocation, or any Passion for Spoil, but from sudden Rage and Madness, and Causes unknown, and thence the harder to be remedied. At Dividurum, a City of Gaul, the Soldiers under Fabius Valens, General to Vitellius, though they were received into it with every Degree of Frankness and Complaisance, were seized with a causeless Frensy, and instantly grasped their Swords to massacre the unoffending Citizens; and, before they could be appeased, slaughtered Four Thousand.
It is always too easy to inflame a Croud; for, whether armed or unarmed, they are alike liable to be deceived, and consequently to commit Acts of Rage; as they are alike apt to listen more to Passion and Lyes, both soon raised, than to Truth and Reason, which, to be successful, require Time, and Temper, and Attention. Any miserable Knave, that can Speak loud, and Lye lustily, or even Whisper craftily, is capable of raising such Mutinies and Insurrections, (especially in Civil Wars) as the best Capacity, and highest Authority, cannot quell; whether he affrighten them with Apprehensions of severer Discipline, or the Want or Reduction of their Pay, or of harder Quarters, or of Stripes or Dismission, or that they are never to be dismissed, or that some of their Brethren, for being just to the Body, have been privately dispatched by the General, or with any other Grievance, however false and improbable, (for, to the Multitude, the most monstrous Absurdities, strongly asserted, appear true, as do the greatest Follies important) they will credit his Forgeries, because they think him their Friend, though he be indeed their worst Enemy, sooner than Truth from an honest Man, whom they are taught to esteem their Enemy, though in reality their Friend.
Any counterfeit Knave, who boldly personates any Prince, or Leader, slain or dead, finds presently Followers; these Followers daily increase; and, more zealous for Deceit than for true Information, will consequently be more eager to restore him, than to forsake him: And thus, for a miserable Lye, Civil Wars have begun, and been carried on with infinite Obstinacy and Blood. This Country, and many others, afford Instances of this Sort.
There can hardly be a greater Example, how easily, and from what small Causes, Civil Wars rise, even to the greatest Height, than the great Revolution which produced the dethroning of Edward IV. and the Restoration of Henry VI. It began from a little Story, in a remote Part of the Kingdom, about defrauding an Hospital of some Corn. The Populace, hearing this Story told, (perhaps maliciously, though truly) fell tumultuously upon the Officers employed to collect it; and their Resentment was so well improved, that what was at first a Riot, from private Passion, whether of Charity or Avarice, became an Insurrection against the State, and overturned it. The great Revolution in China, which brought that mighty State, in 1644 under the Dominion of the Tartars, where it has ever since remained, was so suddenly accomplished, that the capital City was taken, and even the outward Court of the Palace, before the Emperor knew a Word of his own Danger. Matters, indeed, and the Minds of Men, were well prepared by his oppressive Reign, which naturally produced sore Discontents, as these did strong Factions, and Factions did Revolts. An Incident, not great in itself, being altogether of a private Nature, contributed greatly to the first Triumvirate, so fatal to the Roman State. Cæsar intrigued with Mutia, Pompey’s Wife, whom therefore Pompey divorced. This so affronted her Brother Metellus Celer, the Consul, that he opposed all Pompey’s Views, especially of ratifying his Conduct in the War against Mithridates, and of obtaining Lands for his Soldiers. Under this Difficulty he fell into the ruinous League with Cæsar and Crassus.
Old Villeroy says, in his Memoirs, that one of the great Causes of the Mischiefs which befel Henry III. and France under him, his tragical End, the fierce Ligue, and the bloody Civil War, was his changing the Form of expediting Royal Grants and Donations, subject, before that, to be controuled by proper Officers, who could not pass them when not agreeable to old Forms and Regulations, which were an excellent Guard to the Crown, and a Security against the King’s being surprised into extravagant Concessions, to their own great Hurt and Impoverishing, as well as that of their Subjects, and against the Influence and sudden Rise of worthless Favourites and Flatterers. Yet these Favourites and Flatterers had too much Success with a young King, naturally generous, and fond of Rule without Restraint, when they told him, ‘It was beneath a Monarch, to have his Will and Commands controuled by his Subjects.’ The Consequence was, his Profuseness made him poor; his Poverty made him oppress his People: They grew uneasy and discontented. This encouraged ambitious Men, and Demagogues, to incite, and even begin, a Civil War.
Whatever alarms the Populace, and causes Insurrections, be it ever so absurd, or even impossible, such Alarms and Insurrections will rarely want busy Heads to foment, and able Hands to strengthen them. Wretches, too, who pretend to Intelligence from the Stars, or beyond the Stars, Dealers in the Nonsense of Astrology, and false Prophecy, are always of notable Influence, and prove successful Incendiaries, upon such Occasions; belying Heaven, and abusing and inflaming Men. As if the Divinity communicated himself only to Mischief-makers, and only for the Sake of Mischief. Yet, such as belye God, have often the greatest Credit with Men.
Mankind are always prone to Delusion, but most so upon great public Shocks, general Distress, and Changes, when their Hopes and Fears are greatly agitated, and thence continually disposed to gratify these Passions with false Objects; as they always are at the Beginning, and during the Progress, of a Civil War. This therefore is a rare Season for Monks, Astrologers, and all Spiritual Mountebanks and Fanatics, to thrive and multiply in, and to promote, and even perpetuate, Civil Rage. When they have once persuaded their Dupes, that such an Event will happen, it is easy to put them upon Expedients to bring it to pass; and in doing it, such as believe it to be God’s Decree, will thence be notably animated to fulfil it; nay, be proud of being his Instruments. Otho, when he was assured, that he should reign, found no Objection against murdering the reigning Prince. When the Almighty is thought to direct and to sanctify the End, the Means will always be sanctified too, by such as employ them.
How hard to put an End to a Civil War. The Tendency of One, to produce More. How it sharpens the Spirits of Men, shocks the Civil Constitution, and produces Tyranny.
WHILST Civil War subsists, it must be conducted by Soldiers; and then, not the Laws, but the Soldiers govern, often against the Authority of their General, and the Laws of War, almost always against the Laws of the Land: And, when the Civil War ends, it must be ended too by the Soldiers, by their Power and Consent; and they, continuing the principal Power, as they must be, if they are not dismissed, will govern even in Peace, or suffer their Leader to govern, who must govern to their good Liking, or not at all: And then it is at their Option, whether Peace, or at least the Effects of Peace, shall continue or no. ‘Such, says Cicero, has been the constant Issue of our Civil Wars, that not only the Pleasure of the Conqueror was always complied with, but many Concessions were likewise made to those by whose Aid he conquered.’
If the Soldiery, or any great Number of them, be discharged, a Rebellion is to be feared, and thence a Renewal of the War. New Pretences, and new Leaders, will never be wanting. Thus the Prætorian Cohorts, dismissed by Vitellius, betook themselves again to Arms, joined themselves to Vespasian, and proved the Bulwark of his Party. Nay, not satisfied with being still employed, upon the bare Apprehensions of being neglected, or even suffering themselves to be tempted by a vile Price, the Roman Army warring under that brave Captain Vocula, against public Enemies, Foreigners, and Rebels, bargained to renounce their Allegiance to Rome, to swear Fealty to the Gauls, a Nation so often beaten and conquered by them; nay, to give earnest of an Iniquity so huge and flagrant, by shedding the Blood of their General Officers, or by delivering them up under Chains.
But suppose a Civil War totally concluded, the Army disbanded without Mutiny, or retained without Acts of Violence, (which are large Suppositions) with all the Appearances of general Peace; still it is a Miracle but the Constitution has suffered a violent Shock, such as a long Tract of Time is necessary to cure, if it be ever cured. A People, for some time inured to a Life of Licenciousness, to revenge their own Quarrels, to rob and kill one another, will not cordially submit to live in Peace, and under equal Law. Those who have gained Wealth by the War, will be afraid of having it resumed by the first Owners; as the latter will be sollicitous to have it restored. So that between the Plunderers and the Plundered, there must be constant Rancour, and a Bone of Contention. A Man, once of great Fortune, finds himself a Beggar, made so by one who was a Beggar before; but is now enriched, and swaggering in his Spoils. The first is enraged because he is ruined, and abhors the upstart Author of his Ruin: The other hates the Man whom he has ruined, whose Resentment he fears, and whose Scorn provokes him.
Men newly raised, will strive to have the Government modelled to their own Security and good Liking; and, being uppermost, will probably succeed, or try all Expedients, even the most desperate, to do so; and then insult and oppress, in proportion to their Power, or Indignation, or Wantonness. They will still see, or pretend to see, the same old Spirit of Malevolence, or Contumacy, or Resistance, (or whatever else they chuse to call it) in the subdued Party; and still want new Powers to curb and restrain them, perhaps to imprison, enslave, or even to cut them off; and thus prove Tyrants themselves, and oppress all others, for public Good and Tranquillity. Besides their own Strength and Security, and the Gratification of Revenge, they will be apt to relish the Sweets of Fines, Compositions, and Confiscations; and therefore carefully promote them. It will be easy to find Accusations.
If it be in a Commonwealth, they will be said to affect Monarchy. John Barnevelt was accused of a Design to restore the Spanish Government; that is, the best Protestant, and best Commonwealth’s-Man upon Earth, was meditating how to introduce, and live under, Spanish Revenge and Tyranny, and the horrible Cruelties of the Inquisition. Thus the Oliverians charged all whom they disliked, with a Passion for the Government of the Stuarts; that is, as they meant it, Government without Law, and against Law, though that of their Master Oliver was as absolute as his own Will and Passions could make it. Thus again, after the Restoration, all who displeased the hot-headed Cavaliers, were Oliverians; though these Cavaliers wanted to compliment the King with the same boundless Power, which Oliver, with much more Capacity and Attention, had possessed.
Thus the new prevailing Party will rule, or attempt to rule, after a Civil War, by new Laws, or rather by Violence forbidden by the old Laws; and whatever Power they like, will be found necessary. The Party vanquished, groaning under new Burdens, and berest of Protection, will look back with Regret to the old Laws, (which perhaps they too had violated in their turn) would be glad to see them restored, and even ready, perhaps, to lend Assistance towards restoring them. This is Treason, in the Eye of their lofty Rulers, who, construing their own Oppression to be just, as all Oppressors do, judge the Oppressed to be Rebels, because they complain, as all the Oppressed will; and therefore, by the Name of Law, doom them to Whips, and Chains, and Forfeiture, against Law. All this being fresh Oppression, will naturally beget Schemes and Efforts to destroy it, such as, if they are discovered, (for sometimes they presently succeed) will be encountered with other furious Efforts to defeat them; and then, if neither Party be at once disabled and ruined, the Civil War is rekindled.
As Faction implies Contention and Hate, Civil War infers Destruction and Revenge. Both Sides will do their best to prevail, and the prevailing Side to be fully avenged; and as Men in Prosperity are more apt to be wanton than cautious, and to provoke many of their own Party, and thence divide and weaken it, as well as to oppress the undermost, and thence unite and strengthen it, (for common Distress is an admirable Cement and Reconciler) the Weaker will be gaining from the Stronger; even their Sufferings will procure them Pity and Friends; Dissention amongst their Adversaries will increase their Numbers; Leaders, and Orators, and Motives, will soon be found to rouse them to attempt a Deliverance; which, if it succeed, will probably tempt them, in their turn, to the same Insolence, Oppression, Follies, Desertion, and Weakness, which gave them their present Superiority.
In these Struggles and Changes, both Parties proceed without Mercy or Sense, till one or both find, that, for one to get the intire Mastery of the other, it is absolutely necessary to raise up some one Leader to absolute Power, and thus become Slaves themselves to make their Opponents Slaves; as was exemplified in the Roman People, and their Darling Cæsar, to whom we may join Pompey and Crassus, two other Favourites of the Multitude. The Roman People meant not to exalt either of them into Tyrants, but, in the Heat of Faction and Opposition to the Senate, did it effectually; since from this popular Heat and Madness the first Triumvirate arose; a wicked and terrible Combination of Three Men to engross the Roman Power, and enslave the Roman World.
The Roman People, like other People, first blinded with Party-Animosities, then opening their Eyes, when their Sight served but to torment them, perceived into what infamous Bondage they had plunged themselves, and abhorred it. At the public Shews, Pompey was insulted, Cæsar affronted, and Curio, who then opposed both, received with a Thunder-clap of Applause. All Rome resounded with Murmuring, with loud Complaints, and even with bitter Reproaches upon the Administration. Cæsar was hated, his great Opponent Bibulus was adored: Nothing was ever so unpopular as these Three once popular Men. Yet all their Measures, however pestilent and detested, prevailed; nor could Cicero foresee how they could be opposed without risquing a general Massacre. For the Three grand Conspirators had introduced into the City, particularly Cæsar, from his Government of Narbon Gaul, great Numbers of Soldiers, thence to prevent, or conquer, all Opposition: Insomuch that Cæsar, I know not whether with more Impudence or Violence, ordered the great and virtuous Cato, though invested with the sacred Office of Tribune of the People, to be carried to Prison, for discharging the Duty of his Place, and that of a worthy Patriot, by opposing the Law of Vatinius, for continuing that terrible Man in his great Government now inlarged, at the Head of a great Army in the Neighbourhood of Rome, for Five Years longer.
The wretched People might now see Themselves, their Liberties, and their best Citizens, thus scorned, and despitefully used, and grieve, as they did, for it. They themselves had enabled him to do all this; and, having raised him so high, could not pull him down, even whilst he spurned them, and trod upon their Necks.
Thus Cromwell came by his Power; and, having by it got his Masters, who gave it, under his Feet, he kept them there. Their struggling in Chains served only to make their Chains sharper and heavier.
The Evils, and sudden Changes, brought by Civil War upon particular Families, and upon a Country in general; with the fierce Discontents, and Animosities, and ill Morals, which it entails.
AS Violence generally precedes, and begets, and accompanies, a Civil War, so a Civil War generally ends in Violence, in furious Measures, Confiscations, and Executions; that is to say, in such Measures as tend directly to produce a Succession of Civil Wars. Men fight naturally to defend their Lives, and Estates, and Families, where they are attacked, and manifestly threatened; and to recover their Estates, when taken away. If some are fond of Civil War, from a Passion for Prey and Forfeitures; others are so from a Passion as strong, even to retrieve their Losses and Inheritance: And if mean Men be apt to promote public Confusion for the Sake of Titles, and Fortunes, and Dignities; great Men, reduced to Meanness by such a Vicissitude, will be as eager to risque fresh Confusion, in order to divest their Supplanters, and reinstate themselves. He who is a Lord To-day, and abounds in Wealth, will not, if he can help it, bear to be a Slave, or to beg, To-morrow; no more than any turbulent Slave will stand at any Means to soar above Slavery, and to mend his Character and Condition.
What more abetted the many Civil Wars in England formerly, (I still except Oppression, and lawless Rule) than the Bait and Temptation of Forfeitures, whence great Acquisitions were probably to be had, and great Fortunes to be suddenly made or mended, and a continual Propensity in such as were stripped and undone, to be revenged and restored? One got half a County by crowning an Edward; another hoped to recover it with Additions, by re-establishing a Henry. Here was a perpetual Source of Civil Broils and Bloodshed, even where there was no other.
The Truth is, says Cicero, ‘The Seeds and Source of Civil Wars will never be lost or extinguished, so long as desperate and abandoned Men are always remembring, and hoping to see revived, the former barbarous Scenes of Confiscations, such as were displayed under Sylla the Dictator, by his Kinsman Publius; nay, Six-and-thirty Years after, by the same Instrument, then much exalted in his Station, at first a common Notary, afterwards City-Prætor, or Grand Justiciary of Rome, yet pursuing the same horrid Trade of Confiscations, in a Manner still more extensive and merciless. Nor is it possible, that Civil Wars should ever cease, when such mighty Forfeitures and Rewards are always in View to rouse them.’ Cicero de Offic. L. II. He likewise says, in one of his Philippics, that, ‘The Forfeitures made under Cæsar had furnished many wicked Men with Hopes and Confidence; for that they saw Numbers, lately abject and poor, on a sudden wallowing in Wealth: So that all, who with a malignant Eye behold our Estates, (he is speaking to the Senate) are ever longing for such Days of Forfeitures.’
Civil Wars do in the Civil and Moral World, what Earthquakes do in the Natural, confound all things; sink and exalt; change high and low, and unite Extremes; raze down old Piles, which seemed to defy Time, and prop the Sky; and scatter such as possessed them, as effectually, as if neither had ever been; or just leave Ruins enow to indicate their former Grandeur, and the Opulence of the Owners, with the Wretchedness of their Posterity, if any remain; lift new Fabrics, and new Men, both out of the Dust; extinguish Titles; abolish and debase Dignities, perhaps for ever, or transfer them to Grooms and Lacqueys, or to sold Slaves, born to Nakedness and Chains; expose venerable Senators to want and to beg, whilst common Soldiers assume the Rank of Senators; prefer condemned Felons to conduct Armies and possess Countries, while those who doomed them to die, suffer Death by their Command; set Bond men to rule over their late Rulers; and, being now Lords of Life and Death, to award Freemen and Grandees to Prison, and Execution, at Pleasure, or, which is perhaps more shocking, to treat them with Pity; shew a Minion, such as Chrysogonus, once a base Slave, exercised in the lowest and vilest Offices of Life, then the Favourite of an Usurper, living and rioting in the Profusion and Magnificence of an Eastern King, supported in it by the Estates of many illustrious Romans, accumulated upon him by Grants, or feigned Purchases, and the noble Owners butchered, or banished, Vagabonds, and starving; Men who had no Guilt, besides their Estates, executed for their Estates, or punished with Life void of Support.
It sometimes happens, that Men, thus suddenly and wickedly enriched, become, through Waste, and Vanity, and Riot, soon poor again, and then want recourse to the same Means to renew their Fortune. They who lost their Fortunes to the former, have the same Aim and Pursuit: To such, add all that are vicious, and criminal, and indigent, in dread of Gaols and Gibbets, of Creditors, and Want; all that are voluptuous without Property, daring without Honesty, oppressed without Redress, vindictive, but disappointed of Vengeance; all who have Much to hope, and Nothing to lose; all who have great Ambition, and no public Spirit, with whoever thinks a Civil War either necessary or unavoidable, and resolves to follow Fortune, and make the best of it; Officers out of Post, Soldiers out of Pay; every aspiring Man, who has not Preferment, or not enough; every Man void of Humanity, who feels not the public Calamities, nor the Sufferings of others; every Man who is indifferent about public Liberty, interested in general Confusion, and fears no Consequences; together with the needy Rabble, always unsteady and thoughtless, for the most part venal and debauched, generally passionate for Innovations, from whatever Hand or Quarter they come.
When the Civil War is over, its Effects, and even its Spirit, remain, sometimes for Generations; it entails ill Morals upon a Country, as well as Distress and Calamities upon particular Families, and leaves the Laws under Weakness and Scorn.
As a Conclusion of this Discourse, I shall subjoin a summary Account of the Civil Feuds and Outrages that happened at Corsetra, now Corfu, during the War of Peloponnesus, as the same are related at large by Thucydides.
A View of the affecting Horrors, and Calamities, produced by Civil War; taken from the History of Greece.
THE People, who could not live without Submission to Superiors, yet cared not to submit, or were easily persuaded that they ought not, after long and violent Distrust, attack the Senate, and murder most of the Senators, as Enemies to popular Government. The Senate, in Revenge, fall upon the People, as Enemies to all Government, and Rebels to their own: They prevail, and rout the Multitude. The People rally, aided even by the Women, and by the Slaves, now purposely declared Free, and thus put into a Condition to master their late Masters, who, in their Fury, rather risque Tyranny from their Bond-men, than bear Subjection to their legal and natural Rulers. They now vanquish the Senators. The Senators make fresh Efforts: So do the Populace: The Conflict goes on, and dreadful Havock follows it, incessant Cruelty and Devastation, Houses fired, Citizens murdered, public and private Wealth destroyed, and the whole City threatened with Conflagration.
A Reconciliation is patched up, but does not cure mutual Enmity, as it cannot cancel the Memory of mutual Injuries and Provocations. Piques and Suspicions still subsist, and produce fresh Insults: These are returned and multiplied, portending and hastening another Massacre. The People think themselves, and their Liberty, still in Danger, whilst any Senators are left; and therefore butcher all that are to be found. Nor can their own Leaders and Partizans escape their Rage. Whoever is a Friend to Peace, they judge to be a Foe to Them. Their Rage continues and increases, and, besides all that they murder, they frighten Numbers to murder themselves. Their constant Charge against all these Victims was, that they were Enemies to Liberty, to the Interest of the People, and to popular Government, which, by such a Torrent of Phrensy, of Rage, and Barbarity, they thus rescue, and thus recommend.
It may be easily guessed, how fast Slander and Lyes prevailed at this horrid Conjuncture, and how busy and fashionable were all public Incendiaries, and personal Revilers. All Sorts of Immorality prospered; Acts of Treachery and Fraud went Hand in Hand with Acts of Violence. Some committed Murder out of private Revenge: Some discharged their Debts by murdering their Creditors: But it was still Zeal for the People that prompted Murderers, and justified Murder; and whilst Death was seen in all Shapes, and inflicted upon all mean Occasions and Provocations, the same infamous Plea served for all. Many, who thought themselves secure in the Protection of Sanctuaries, were dragged from them, and butchered near them: Many were immured, and perished in them.
Such was the Blindness, as well as Fury, of this Civil Rage, that Good and Evil lost their Names and Application. Good was Evil, Evil was Good; just as Men, in seeing or doing either, were inspired by their Passions: Whatever gratified the worst Passions, was best: The Author of the most Mischief was the greatest Hero. Party-Spirit was the great and uncontroulable Adviser and Defender of all things: Its grossest Misrepresentations were readily believed; its most furious Dictates most chearfully obeyed. Party-Merit outweighed all Regard to Kindred, cancelled all Friendship, extinguished all Gratitude, covered all Crimes, sanctified all Enormities. Law and Obligations, whether Divine or Human, where-ever they interfered with Party, were spurned and trod upon by Party: For, Patty was the Public; and all things must give Way to the Public. It was Mean to Forgive: It was Cowardice not to seek Revenge. Oaths were taken, not to be kept, but to deceive and ensnare: The more Treachery, the more Art and Policy: The higher Cruelty, the higher Heroism. To excel in Fraud, was the highest Excellency. Honesty was Weakness: Deceit and Knavery were Proofs of Ability. A Passion to bear Rule, to gratify Ambition by Avarice, and Avarice by Ambition, was the great and laudable Passion. A selfish Spirit was public Spirit, which it contradicted and destroyed.
All specious Pretences were offered, every plausible Name was assumed, by both Sides. Here the natural Equality and Power of the People were urged and maintained, as the only Source of Justice, and public Liberty, against the Authority of Some over All. There, a steady Government of Chiefs and Representatives, was contended for over the giddy Multitude. Both Parties alleged the Public Good; both Parties obstructed and banished it. Both committed horrible Outrages upon each other; both destroyed Men of moderate Spirits, and reconciling Principles. Fools, by observing no Rule, had the Advantage of Men of Sense, who observed the Rule of Wisdom. Villains were an Overmatch for such as adhered to the Measures of Justice.
I must inform my unlearned Readers, that as the Reign of the Multitude could not be long, popular Fury was at last subdued: The Nobles who escaped, about Six hundred in Number, uniting and returning, soon brought Distress and Misery upon the Populace, burnt their Shipping, robbed the Island, and thus caused a Famine; then raised a Fort above the City, and soon became Masters of the Island itself.
[(a) ]Hoc inter cætera vel pessimum habet crudelitas, quod perseverandum est, nec patet ad meliora regressus. Scelera enim sceleribus tuenda sunt. Quod jam eo infelicius est, cui jam esse malo necesse est. Senec.
[(a) ]Rapere, consumere, sua parvi pendere. Sallust.
[(a) ]Bellum magis desierat, quam pax cæperat.
[(a) ]Periculosa severitas, flagitiosa largitio: seu nihil militi; seu omnia concederentur, in ancipiti republica.