Front Page Titles (by Subject) DISCOURSE IX.: To His Grace ARCHIBALD, Duke of Argyll. Of the Mutability of Government. - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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DISCOURSE IX.: To His Grace ARCHIBALD, Duke of Argyll. Of the Mutability of Government. - 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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To His GraceARCHIBALD, Duke of Argyll. Of the Mutability of Government.
Why Free Governments are more changeable in their Frame, than such as are Single and Arbitrary.
NOTHING which depends upon the changeable Humours and Passions of Men, can be permanent. No Species of Government can, therefore, be so. Time and Accidents, as they alter the human Face and Frame, so do they that of human Society.
Nothing is perfect at once: Government never is so, nor can be; and has been sometimes destroyed by Attempts to make it so. Human Society, like human Life, is liable to Decay; and the latter, as well as the former, is supported by Expedients. Occasional Laws are found as necessary as occasional Medicines; and both Medicines and Laws, though they sometimes help and save, do likewise sometimes hurt and destroy: Nor can the ablest Physicians and Legislators be certain, that their best Rules will always succeed, and their best Directions be salubrious, or even safe; since the best may be perverted, and then become the worst. The best Remedies, applied unseasonably, or in too great Quantities, may destroy Life: The most wholsome Laws may be perverted into Poison to a State. Laws and Physic, thus abused, are worse than none; because they do Mischief by Authority; and warrant, as well as hasten, the Dissolution of human Life, and civil Society.
In every State and Community, there will, I doubt, be found more Vicious than Virtuous, more Weak than Wise. The Cunning will be for ever deceiving the Simple; the Ambitious will be for ever finding Fools, and for ever leading them. No State or Nation was ever without such Instruments, no more than without proper Materials for such Instruments to work on; the Foolish and the Credulous always blindly following the Ambitious and the Cunning. Wherever there are Multitudes, there will be Seducers; and whilst the Many are always ready to be led, they will never want Leaders. Very mean Implements often serve the Purpose: For there are none so low, but they will see, or think they see, many still lower; and from this Superiority, real or sansied, will try to govern the rest. Indeed, many, of all Ranks, are governed by such as surpass them, not in Capacity, but only in Assurance and Deceit. I doubt not but Beggars, as much upon a Level as they seem, have such Degrees and Subordination amongst them; the Imperious, and the Meek; the Directors, and the Directed; the Credulous, and the Imposing. It is the Characteristic of Society, it is the Nature of Man, to guide, and to follow; to dictate, and to obey; to deceive, and to be deceived.
What State is likely to be quiet, where there are such constant Causes of Disquiet? or to be lasting, where there are so many Materials, so many Authors and Causes of Change? No Government is without such; and the freest Governments, which are consequently the best, abound with them more than the worst. Liberty, like many other valuable Things, carries with it the Seeds of Self-destruction: It is ever liable to be turned into Licentiousness; and thence ever in Peril. Many will abuse it, because they may: Some will encourage that Abuse, on purpose to destroy it. It protects even those who attack and undermine it; and often secures them from Punishment for the worst of all Crimes. As it subsists by certain fixt Laws, whoever can evade those Laws, may overthrow it: And where Liberty abounds most, Laws are most easily evaded.
In a free State, a Man may be a notorious Criminal against Law, yet not punishable by Law; which requires there such Evidence for Guilt, as cannot well affect the Innocent; and, therefore, the Guilty, if they be wary, often escape all Punishment. Here is Encouragement given by a free Government against itself, and often taken! It is like a Distemper arising from too much Health: No Wonder that a Disease, so continually and plentifully fed, proves mortal in time; often in a short Time.
In arbitrary Countries, a Man may be innocent, yet punished legally; because the same absolute Will which creates the Guilt, finds the Evidence. Here is an Opportunity and Temptation presented to an absolute Ruler, and too generally accepted by him, to destroy his best Subjects! It is small Surprize, that, under such a Government, one so threatening to Virtue, there are found but few great Men; or that such Men are unprosperous and short-lived.
In arbitrary Countries, it is a Maxim, ‘That it is better to destroy many innocent Persons, than that One guilty should escape:’ A Maxim which, when generally pursued, threatens swift Destruction to All: And it sometimes happens, that Numbers are sacrificed to the furious Suspicion of unbounded Power, where there was no real Guilt to provoke it. Whoever a Tyrant fears, is always guilty. A King of Siam, having lost his Daughter, and fansying that she was poisoned, put most of his Court, great and small, to Death, chiefly by the most exquisite Torture; because it appeared probable to him, that some of them had given her Poison. Thus that savage Prince massacred above Two thousand Persons, mostly of principal Rank; the great Mandarins, their Wives and Children, all first scorched with Fire, and mangled with Knives, before they were admitted to his last Favour of being thrown to the Elephants, to be by them torn or crushed to Pieces, or buried, still alive, with their Heads above-ground.
By such savage Policy, Expedients are sought for the present Safety and Gratification of such a Prince; who, having, for his chief Drift in reigning, the Ease and Security of his Person, makes it his Study and Pleasure, to cut off and destroy whoever has, or he apprehends may, hurt him, or even thwart or ruffle him. When he thinks, that, by Blood, he can establish his Throne, he will not spare to shed it; nor will he make any Difference between Suspicion and Proof; much less prolong his Fears and Danger by Forms and Examination. An Attempt upon his Person is punished not only by the Execution of the Conspirators, but often by the Massacre of their whole Family and Kindred, and the Extinction of their Race. The Vizir Kuproli, to punish the turbulent Janizaries, is thought to have destroyed above Forty thousand of that important Militia, by different Slaughters, and at different times; and thus weakened the Monarchy, for the Safety of the Monarch. The strange bloody Justice of an Indian Prince, mentioned by Monsieur D’estoille, as what he saw, is amazing! ‘That, for Two or Three Robberies, he had caused an Hundred thousand Men to be gibbetted upon Trees.’ So that this Traveller, for many Days together, passed through Regions peopled with the Dead. So readily and wantonly can a Prince, thus arbitrary, execute whoever is obnoxious to him, or suspected by him, without Form or Delay.
Against a Power thus violent, and armed with such Force and Expedients to secure itself, no Number of Persons will easily venture into a Conspiracy, or no such Conspiracy is likely to remain long undiscovered. Though One particular Hand, sufficiently desperate, may destroy the Tyrant, yet it cannot with him destroy the Tyranny. He is seldom without a Successor at Hand; one who, perhaps, employed the Assassin, and reaps the Benefit of the Assassination; though he seem not to like it, and often cuts off the Author of it. Perhaps no further Change is thought of; no Change of the Government, but only of the Governor: Few Countries will bear any other Change; nor is the Trial like to be made. What Number of able and unarmed Men are to be found, under a despotic Prince, willing to trust one another; and to meet, in order to concert a new Frame of Government, and to abolish the present? They are almost sure of being first destroyed themselves: Or, were such a Scheme concerted ever so wisely, it is hardly possible to be executed. Such Countries are hardly to be supposed to be without mercenary Armies, chiefly Strangers; and the Changes made by such Armies are always personal, from one Prince to another. It is not their Turn or Interest to settle a free State, where the Laws must dictate to the Sword. When they find, that they can make and unmake Princes, (a Lesson which they quickly learn) they will as soon learn another Lesson, even to make and unmake Laws.
Besides, no free State can be established without proper Materials; I mean a People disposed to receive and submit to it. The Wisdom of Man could not convert the Turkish Monarchy into a free State: A Parliament there would appear a Monster: Even the People, if they could have it, would not suffer it. The same People, who can bear any Act of Power done by the Sultan, or in his Name, and have no Notion of opposing any such Act, be it ever so outrageous, would not quietly bear any Act of Power, however just and necessary, from any Number of themselves; nor see, with Patience, some of their Neighbours, no better than themselves, and lately no higher, making Laws, and controuling all Things. Indeed no public Change whatsoever can be expected in that Empire, or any other like it, but by the Army; and what, other than a military Government, is to be hoped there from military Men? It is true, they have often destroyed Tyrants; but I do not remember, that they have ever destroyed Tyranny. They have frequently sacrificed Princes, for not being Tyrants, and for not devoting the State, and all in it, to the Will and Lust of the Army. They deposed Nero; but they likewise murdered Galba.
It seems, to me, impossible, for a great Monarchy, extending over many Nations, and ruling a great Empire by great Armies, to fall into a Commonwealth: But I conceive it very possible, for it to break piecemeal into several Governments; some of them, perhaps, Commonwealths. The Weakness of the Head, or a great Revolution, may occasion a Separation of the Members; and each, setting up for itself, may produce several separate Principalities, as well as some Commonwealths. The large inland Provinces will probably preserve the same Form of Government, single and military. The great maritime and trading Cities will naturally aim at governing themselves, upon the Principles of Liberty and Commerce; and be, perhaps, encouraged and supported in their free Government by the neighbouring Princes; who, if they cannot master it themselves, will defend it against one another.
To this Principle some free States, even in Europe, owe their Preservation and Independency; Geneva, the Hans Towns in Germany, and even the High and Mighty States of Holland. I say this of the States, without any Design to derogate from their own genuine and eternal Merit and Firmness, in maintaining their Liberties against that merciless and perjured Tyrant, Philip II. of Spain.
The Danger to Free Government from popular Maxims, and popular Men; with the Advantages it furnishes against itself.
IN free Countries it is a Maxim, That it is better to letseveral guilty Persons escape, than to punish one who is innocent: A benevolent Maxim, but full of Encouragement to Factionists, Traitors, and other Criminals; since all the Laws, and Proceedings of the State, are to be framed and softened agreeably to that Maxim. The Trial of a State Criminal must be slow and solemn; his Character, the Credibility of the Witnesses, Laws and Precedents, must be all coolly and carefully examined. Possibly his great Power and Popularity, and the Tenderness of the Laws, and of those who administer them, make it dangerous to seize him, and difficult to confine him: So that an able Traitor may execute his Treason, before it can be proved that he designed any; and he may still enjoy his own Liberty, whilst he is contriving the Destruction of public Liberty: He may even make himself popular, whilst he is pursuing popular Mischief, and Measures destructive to the People. For as Liberty, amongst its many Advantages, furnisheth great Men, so, amongst its other Disadvantages, it is often weakened, sometimes extinguished, by Heroes of its own forming: It produces false Patriots, as well as true; and the former are frequently too hard for the latter.
It was a strange Declaration to come from a Roman, ‘That Men were mistaken, to think that the Senate (the Roman Senate) had any Power in the Roman Republic.’ It was still more strange from the Mouth of a Senator, and a Consul: Yet the Consul Gabinius was not ashamed to make that strange Declaration in Public. The Truth is, he was the Creature of Cæsar, and the Associate of Clodius, who had purchased him into a League against his Country, by the Bait of a great Government. After this, it can be no Wonder to hear, that the same Gabinius, still in his Consulship, used to celebrate, in his Cups, with Piso his Brother Consul, (no better than himself) the Names, and Memory, and brave Attempts, of Catiline, Cethegus, and the other Conspirators, all executed for Treason.
In a free State, as well as in one not free, whoever has Power to serve it, has Power to hurt it. They who administer it, will often weaken the Power of the State, to keep or increase their own; and will sometimes rather destroy it, than lose their Power in it. The Decemvirate, or College of Ten at Rome, established for a Time limited, with absolute Power, to settle a Body of Laws, attempted to turn that temporary Trust into perpetual Tyranny. The annual Tribunes often made the same Attempts. The Nobles, for a great while, engrossed all Power, and abused it; acted like Masters, and treated the Plebeians like Slaves: The Plebeians, in their turn, seized the Power of the Commonwealth, and exercised it licentiously. Nor was it likely to be otherwise. In popular Governments, such as admit of Appeals to the People, there can be no certain Stability; because the People are always unstable; always subject to be led, and deceived, and inflamed, by Demagogues; such as are never wanting in that sort of Government.
In Rome, for a great while, no Ordinance of the People could pass, without the Authority and Sanction of the Senate; a most reasonable Restraint, to keep popular Passion and Folly from gaining the Force and Terror of Law. Afterwards, by the Violence of popular Faction, this wise Precaution was lost; and the People could make Laws, without the Senate; but the Senate none, without the Consent of the People. Thenceforward, whoever could alarm and mislead the People, governed or misgoverned the State.
Laws extending throughout the Empire, and binding to the whole Roman People, were sometimes passed by a wild Rabble; such was that for the Banishment of Cicero: The Title of the Law was taken from a ragged Profligate, who wanted a Habitation, and a Bed. By the like Rabble, Armies, Treasure, and Provinces, were allotted to their own Favourites; that is, whomsoever any turbulent Tribune recommended to their Choice. All sober and substantial Citizens were, upon such Occasions, kept off by Violence and Arms.
The Government of Carthage was firm and good, till it fell into the Hands of the People: From that Moment it proved violent, fluctuating, and perishing. The Senate was despised; and then, what Anacharsis observed to be the Case in all popular Governments, was the Case there; ‘Wise Men proposed, but Fools disposed.’ The Answer of Lycurgus was lively and sound, to a Fellow-Citizen, who proposed a popular Government for Sparta. ‘Try it, says Lycurgus, in your own House.’ As that great Man judged very wisely upon this Subject, how to reform his native State, fallen, through popular Licentiousness, into Impotence and Decay, he had the Policy to procure a Judgment from the Oracle of Delphos, allowing the Spartans ‘to vote, but not to debate.’ He knew how unfit the Populace were to make Laws; how unfit to propose; how unfit to abrogate. By this wise Negative upon the People, the State of Sparta continued long firm and glorious: For want of it, that of Athens was always tumultuous and unsettled. Lycurgus took Warning from the tragical Fate of the King his Father, murdered by his own Subjects in a Riot, for attempting to quell it. The Spartans had been long used to defy the Government, and been countenanced in it, or, which is the same thing, not checked and discouraged, by their former Kings. ‘The People, says Plutarch, were so far from growing more tractable by such Indulgence, and false Courtesy, (as these Princes hoped they would) that the Government fell under popular Contempt.’ The great Task, and great Merit, of Lycurgus, was to recover its lost Authority; since every Government without Authority must be lost.
It is with the People as with Princes; whatever they have gained upon one another, they both still want to gain more. They both strive to acquire more (call it Liberty, or call it Power) than they can manage or keep; and they lose by seeming to get. Monarchy sometimes produces Tyranny; Tyranny often produces the Destruction of the Tyrant. Popular Government is apt to beget Licentiousness; Licentiousness destroys popular Government. All Power, breaks when stretched too high; and finally sinks, when let down too low.
In the most complete Governments there will be always something to mend, and many to pretend, that many things want mending, even when they do not; or, which is the same thing, cannot be mended, at least with Safety, and without risquing the Whole. Even such State-Physicians as mean well, may be unskilful in the Choice, or in the Application, of the Remedy. Free States particularly are liable to be undone, and have been undone, by Attempts to reform them, at least covered and carried on under that Pretence. Such Attempts too, as they are generally popular, and thence judged to be safe to those who make them, will therefore be often made and repeated. Even the Miscarriage of some, does not always discourage others, but only serves to suggest different and more wary Measures. The Romans, who were frequently making Changes in their Constitution, proceeded at last to one fatal to it, and lost their Liberty by false Measures taken to increase it; Measures chiefly proposed and promoted by the most popular Romans.
Such are the Advantages which a free State furnisheth against itself. In an arbitrary State, every Attempt to mend it is high Treason; and it is secured by continual Jealousy, and sudden Executions; as I have already observed.
It is better to bear some Inconveniences, and even very palpable Faults, than to introduce worse, by endeavouring to remove them. Most Reformations as certainly imply future Danger, as they infer present Defects and Depravity. Whoever has Power to mend a State, hath Power to hurt it, and may do so without designing it. The Populace, particularly, are very insufficient, very rash Reformers; nor can any State be steady or tolerable, where the Populace can sway the State: For, besides their own rapid and incompetent Judgment, they are eternally liable to be charmed, and roused, and seduced, by some dangerous and selfish Prompter, who loudly professes their Interest, and sincerely means his own, though it be ever so irreconcilable to, ever so destructive of, theirs.
In truth, considering the Frailty, and Folly, and Selfishness, of Men, the Arts of some, and the Stupidity of others, it is a Wonder how any good Government should have any Duration. There can be but one effectual Way to secure it; that is, by making it evident to every Man, that it is more the Interest of all Men to preserve it, than to hurt and destroy it; a Felicity, I doubt, never to be attained by any Government. No Government can so convince, and so gratify, all Men; and all Men, disappointed by the best Government, will be apt to see many Faults in it.
Whenever any State judges as favourably of all its Subjects, as each of its Subjects does of himself, and rewards all so, as all think they ought to be rewarded, we may then expect to see what has never yet been seen, a State without Flaw or Complaints. Every State will want reforming, in the Eyes, at least in the Language, of those who are dissatisfied with the State. Even such as seek to destroy it, will pretend to reform it: Such was the horrible Purpose, yet such the plausible Professions, of Catiline.
Whoever can best deceive the People, is the most popular Man, and has most Influence over them. The false Patriots are often louder, often better heard, than the true. In a Competition for the great popular Offices at Rome, the worst Romans frequently carried them from the best. In all popular Projects, in all public Commotions, some one Person will be trusted more than the rest, and than all; and then he may make his own Interest the Measure of the Public Weal; a Consideration of infinite Force (if there were no other) against a Civil War, and whatever tends to produce it, as it naturally throws all into the Hands of a single Person, Marius, Sylla, Cromwell, Cæsar.
I question whether any Civil Government was originally framed upon any well-concerted Scheme, or upon any wise Plan, laid down by competent and disinterested Judges, but rather formed upon Exigences, mended and improved by Accident, as well as always liable to be altered and undone by Accidents. Even those of Theseus and Romulus were adapted to the Genius of the Rustics, their Followers, whose Humours were consulted, and their Habits preserved; else they would not probably have parted with their boundless Freedom, and complied with the Council, or submitted to the Institutions of these, or of any Law-givers. Neither are these Law-givers to be supposed to have been exempt from Ambition, and Views of their own, but to have found their Gratification in leading, as well as in civilizing, the People. They were Men, and they were Heroes, who are not always the most disinterested Men, or the most tender of their Species.
Men like best what they have been accustomed to, and care not to part with what they have long reverenced. The Turks love absolute Monarchy, because they were bred under it: They love the Mahometan Religion, because they were bred in it. It is thus with most Men, at least with all Men brought up in false Religions, and with many who profess the true. In the Settling of Colonies, in the Transmigration of Nations, People carry with them their Customs and Usages, both Domestic and Public. The new State is generally set up upon the Model of that at Home. The Athenian Communities in Asia were popular, like the Mother Community. Those from Sparta were settled upon the Spartan Foot. The Tyrians, who founded Carthage, set up the Government of Tyre. And the many Settlements of the Goths were all Gothic.
Absolute Monarchy, being always the same, and unchanging in its Frame, does, by such Constancy, produce a Constancy in the People towards it. Free States are more subject to vary, and to be altering at least something in their Plan. As there is nothing perfect at once, nor, I doubt, ever can be amongst Men, new Laws will be frequently wanting: Every new Law is, or will be thought, an Alteration in the State: And the Affections of the People are not likely to be fixed to that which is, at least seems to them to be, unfixed. Besides, they may be taught to believe, that the best Laws, and the wisest Changes, are hurtful, and even pernicious, and to clamour for some which literally are so; and thus come to destroy their precious Liberty, by wrong Measures taken to improve and secure it, or by opposing and defeating Measures which are necessary and wholsome.
The signal Power of Enthusiasm, and pious Imposture, in settling, changing, or perpetuating Government.
THE most effectual Way to change Men intirely, and consequently to settle a Government absolutely new, seems to be by religious Imposture. Whoever can mould the Conscience of a Man, can mould the Man. This was the Course taken by Mahomet; by this Course he succeeded, and, from driving Camels, founded an Empire. What can resist armed Enthusiasm, when the Enthusiast thinks himself intitled to both Worlds, and, by being secure of Paradise, claims a Right from Heaven to govern the Earth? He who wields the Sword, both of the Lord and of Gideon, is much more than a Match for those who carry no such awful Weapons. The Saracens were therefore invincible: So were the Round-Heads, who attacked the Cavaliers as impetuously with the Tune of a Psalm, as the Arabs did the Greeks and Asiatics with the Sound of Allah and his Prophet; and as stern a Spirit, though not so extensive, appeared for a Fifth Monarchy, as ever there did for the Monarchy of Mahomet. What this Impostor gained at first by the Force of Delusion, be retained and increased by the Force of Arms; and the finest and richest Parts of the old World, Asia, India, Egypt, and the Coasts of Africa, to the Pillars of Hercules, with the fairest Provinces in Europe, are still darkened and subdued by his gross, but popular and prevailing, Imposture.
Error is not the less forcible for being extremely gross, but rather the more successful for that very Reason. Small and moderate Error, as it is not far removed from Reason, is in Danger of being cured by Reason; but when it is extravagant, and quite monstrous, it is above and out of the Reach of Reason, and thence safe and thriving: The more wonderful it is, the more it is reverenced; and firmly believed, because it is incredible. An Impostor carries his Followers out of the Regions of Nature, and leads and governs them in the Clouds, by Visions too glorious for Eyes which have no more Light than their own, and by Documents too refined for Philosophy and Sense. Thus he forms them his true and devoted Bubbles: They find high Transports in being such, and scorn to change their Happiness and Blindness, for Light and Conviction. Whoever would make them wiser and free, is their mortal Foe, an Enemy to God and his Elect, and They are Enemies to Him.
A Government thus founded, the most disgraceful, as well as the most pestilent of all others, to human Race, is yet the most powerful and permanent of all Governments, if the same Influence do but continue; especially if Force be joined to Fraud, and Heaven and Earth be supposed to combine to support the same Cause. For the Cause of Enthusiasm, with all its celestial Views, and Scorn of worldly Things, has never enough of worldly Succours, not, indeed, of the World itself, all for heavenly Purposes. How many Millions of Men have been Slaves in their Persons, as well as in their Faculties, to an Impostor, only for his good Word to the Deity in their Behalf! and yielded up their whole Property to a Cheat, purely for teaching them to despise it! In truth, whoever can effectually awe Men by the Dread of eternal Torture, or charm them with Assurance of eternal Bliss, will be Omnipotent amongst Men, and controul and engross this World, by being thought Master of the World to come. It will then be very easy for him to introduce that never-failing Maxim, amongst all worldly Saints, (that is, Men more holy than other Men, and therefore striving to govern all Men) ‘That Dominion is founded in Grace;’ a Maxim of more Force than any in Politics, and always adopted by every able pious Impostor.
It is indeed equally true, that whenever common Sense takes Place, there is an End of all his fairy Influence, and mock Terrors, though perhaps not of his present and temporal Dread. But, alas! common Sense, which is treated as his common Enemy, and depressed by all the Engines of Art and Fury, may be persecured, banished, and extinct, for many Ages together. Who has dared, in Turkey, to dispute Mahomet’s divine Mission, or his lewd and voluptuous Paradise, during a Thousand Years past? Who has ventured (at least without incurring a terrible Doom) to question the Pope’s fanatic Supremacy over Heaven and Earth; or his wealthy Heirship to the poor Apostles; or the Kindred of a miserable Frier to the Deity; or his Power of damning and saving Souls for Money, or for want of it; or of drawing Holiness, and Miracles, and Treasures, out of dead Dust, and rotten Bones; or his Title to the Keys of St. Peter; or his Right to a tributary Purgatory, or to his Toll from Souls released from it by his Command; or to his Lease of Provinces from the Emperor Constantine, who gave him none? Yet all these shocking Forgeries, all these blasphemous Impieties, were, for many Centuries, Sacred throughout Christendom, and still are so in Italy, Spain, and other Countries, cowed by Superstition, and blind with Bigotry.
This Sort of Government therefore is as lasting, as it is dreadful and infamous. Enthusiasm is perfectly satisfied with itself, and its Situation; nor will Enthusiasts venture their Soul by venturing upon a Change, or upon inquiring whether a Change be expedient. Great is the Charm of being deceived; great the Pleasure, as well as the Profit, of deceiving! Few good Governments have lasted like that of Mahomet, and of Popery; both founded upon the Delusion, upon the Misery and Affliction of Men, all with the Consent of Men, enslaving and destroying them with their own Assistance.
So that the Means of annoying the best Governments are much more successful, as well as much more readily found, than those of restraining the worst.
The surprising, despotic, but pacific Government, established by the Jesuits, by the Force of Imposture, in Paraguay.
THE Settlement made by the Jesuits, upon the River Paraguay in America, is extremely remarkable. These good Fathers, every-where indefatigable in improving their apostolic Talents, and turning Souls into ecclesiastical Traffick and Power, began there, by drawing together, into one fixed Habitation, about Fifty Families of wandering Indians, whom they had persuaded to take their Word implicitly for whatever they told them: For, this is what they call Conversion; and is, indeed, the true Art of making Catholics, who have no other Ground for their Faith, but the Assertions of their Priests.
From this Beginning, and such Encouragement, the assiduous Fathers, ranging the Country, and dazling the stupid Savages with their shining Beads, charming them with their pious Tales and Grimaces, their tuneful Devotions, and high Professions, made such a Harvest of Converts, as to form a Commonwealth, or rather an Empire, of Souls. For every Convert is a Subject most blindly obedient.
The holy Fathers, not Fifty in Number, are thus Sovereigns of a noble Country, larger than some Kingdoms, and better peopled. It is divided into several large Districts, each of them governed by a single Jesuit, who is, as it were, a provincial Prince; but more powerful and revered, and better obeyed, than any European, or even any Eastern Monarch. His Word is not only a Law, but an Oracle; his Nod infers supreme Command: He is absolute Lord of Life, and Death, and Property; may inflict capital Punishment for the lightest Offence, and is more dreaded, therefore more obeyed, than the Deity. His first Ministers and Officers, Civil and Military, are doomed by him to the meanest Punishments, and whipped, not only like common Slaves, but like common Felons. Nor is this all their Punishment, at least all their Abasement, which, to a Man of Spirit, is the worst Punishment: Whilst they are yet marked and mangled with the Lash, they run, Colonels and Captains run, and kneel before their holy Sovereign; condemn themselves for having incurred his pious Displeasure; and, humbly kissing his reverend Sleeve, thank him for the fatherly Honour he has done them, in correcting them like Dogs.
So much Tameness and Vassalage is Part, and an important Article, of their Conversion. They are even pleased with their Servitude, and care not what they do and suffer here, for the mighty Treasures of Joy and Liberty which are ensured to them hereafter by the good Father, who gives them all that He has to give in the Next World, and, by way of Barter and Amends, takes all that They have in the Present.
The poor Indians cultivate the Ground; dig and plow, and reap and sow: They make Stuffs, and other Manufactures; they rear Fowls, they breed Cattle, they carry Burdens, and labour hard above Ground, as well as under it, where, in Sweat and Darkness, and in Peril of perishing, they drudge in the Mines. Yet, with all this Industry, they earn nothing; nothing for themselves: All their Earnings, all the Profit and Advantages, appertain not to them, but solely to the good Father, their spiritual Sovereign, who rewards them to the full with what costs him nothing; Blessings, and Masses, and distant Prospects. Their Grain and Manufactures are all carried into his Warehouses, their Cattle and Fowls into his Yards, their Gold and Silver into his Treasury. They dare not wear a Rag of their own Spinning, nor taste a Grain of their own Sowing, nor a Bit of Meat of their own Feeding, nor touch the Metal of their own producing, nor so much as an Egg from the Hens they rear. They themselves are fed and subsisted, from Day to Day, by a limited Allowance, furnished them by the Appointment, and at the Mercy, of their great Lord, a small Priest.
Yet, under all these Discouragements, which are none to them, who seem to have sacrificed their Feeling, as well as their Reason, to the Sorcery of Superstition, they are diligent and laborious to the last Degree, and vye with one another for the high Price and Distinction bestowed by the Father upon such as excel most in their Work and Industry; even the bewitching Honour of kissing his Sleeve. The second Commandment, in their Table of Duties, is, To fear the Jesuit, and obey him; as the two next are much akin to it, and of like Tendency, even, To study Humility, and to contemn all worldly Goods. The Precept, of fearing God, seems to be prefixed for Form, and in Policy only; since it is impossible there should be any Knowledge of God, where the Exercise of Reason is not known nor permitted: Nor can God be said to be regarded by those who use the Images of God like Beasts.
All these Stores and Warehouses, so much Grain, so many Manufactures, so much Gold and Silver, so many Commodities from so fine, so large, and so plentiful a Country; abounding in Mines, in Rivers and Meadows, full of Horses, and Sheep, and Black Cattle, of Timber and Fruit-trees, of Flax and Indigo, Hemp and Cotton, Sugar, Drugs and Medicinal Herbs; must enable these good Fathers, who have renounced all Wealth, and the World itself, to carry on an infinite and most lucrative Trade, in which, though they have vowed Poverty, they are extremely active; and consequently must make that Jesuitical Government a most Powerful one. It hath Advantages which no other Government ever had, an absolute independency upon its People, or their Purses; the whole Wealth of the Country in its present Possession; the People absolutely submissive, and resigned to its good Pleasure and all its Calls; no Factions, not a Malecontent; an Army of Sixty thousand Men, all tame and tractable, devoted to blind Obedience, commanded in chief by a Jesuit, and obstinately averse to be commanded by any other General; a vast Revenue of many Millions; no Trouble in Taxing, no Time lost in collecting Taxes.
Such a Government, whilst it proceeds upon the same Principles, is unchangeable. No wonder these Jesuits are extremely jealous and tender, not only in keeping the poor Indians Slaves to Ignorance and Bigotry, in order to keep them Slaves to themselves, but in concealing so much Empire and Wealth from all the World; especially from Spain, from whence they were sent, at the Expence of that Crown, to convert the Indians, and make them Subjects to the Spanish Monarchy. The good Fathers are so far from meaning any such thing, that they not only carefully avoid teaching them the Spanish Tongue, but press it upon them, as a Point of Conscience, not to converse with the Spaniards. If any Spaniard happen to come amongst them, a Thing which the Jesuits are so far from encouraging, that they care not to see it, he is indeed civilly used, but carefully confined within the Walls of their holy Citadel, the Presbytery; or if, by earnest Intreaty, he obtain leave to walk through the Town, he is closely guarded by the Jesuit at his Side, and sees not an Indian in the Streets. For the Indians are ordered to shut themselves up, and fasten their Doors, upon any such Occasion.
Besides, these vigilant Fathers keep Five or Six thousand Men, employed in several Detachments, (Apostolic Troops!) to watch and scour the Frontiers, in order to cut off all Intercourse with the neighbouring Countries, not yet subjected to the good Fathers. Towards one of their Frontiers particularly, lest the rich Mines in it might invite a Settlement from Abroad, they have destroyed all the Horses, in order to discourage any such Settlement. For these self-denying Friers, who are sworn to Poverty, have an ardent Zeal to secure all these wealthy Mines to themselves, for religious Uses.
These poor, rich, humble, sovereign Missionaries, as they are Masters of such immense Wealth, all consecrated to their own Use, that is, to the Use of Religion, make a proper Display of it. The Churches are spacious, magnificent in their Structure, and set off with all Pomp and Decorations; grand Porticos and Colonnades, rich Altars adorned with Bas-reliefs, Pictures in Frames of massy Gold, and Saints of solid Silver, the Foot and Sides covered with Cloth of Gold, and the Pedestals with Plates of Gold; the Tabernacle made of Gold; the Pyx (or Box for the Sacrament) of Gold, set round with Emeralds, and other Jewels; the Vessels and Candlesticks made of Gold; the Whole, when illuminated, making a Shew almost beyond Belief: A proper Bait for the Eyes of deluded Indians, who, by such fine Sights, and the pious Mountebankery attending them, are retained in due Awe and Wonder!
The Princely Person of the Poor Jesuit is suitably lodged in a spacious Palace, containing grand Apartments, furnished with many Pictures and Images, with proper Lodgings for his Train of Officers and Domestics; the Quadrangles and Gardens all in proportion; the whole Court making a Square of some Miles. Observe, that all the many opulent Warchouses, belonging to the Holy Disinterested Man, are contained in it!
Such is the Situation, such the State, and inimitable Authority, of every Jesuit in Paraguay. There are but Forty odd of these Monks in all that great Tract of Country; and in it they have above a Million of Souls, not only to obey them, but to worship them: Nor do these their sightless and abject Slaves know any other God: For where the true God is ever so little known, no Man will worship Friers; who always paint Him as like Themselves, as They themselves are, in Reality, unlike Him.
The inevitable Danger of trusting Ecclesiastical Persons with any Worldly Power, or any Share in Government.
THIS Government of the Jesuits in America, the most monstrous, and the most tyrannical, that ever the World saw, is yet the most quiet. It owes its Security to the same Principles, to which it owes its Foundation; Two very short, and very simple Principles: First, that the Jesuits come commissioned from God, to declare His Will to the Indians; then, that the Indians are to submit in All Things, and to give up All Things, to the Jesuits: And these Two Principles are sufficient, nay, necessarily tend, to introduce and perpetuate the most complete Tyranny; a Consideration which ought to be an eternal Warning to all Nations, and all Governments, never to suffer any Man, or Body of Men, to make Religion a Stalking-Horse to Power or Property; since, thenceforward, all the Property and Power of the World will be found too little for any Man, or Body of Men, who pretend to preside and dictate in religious Matters: Witness the Pope, and Mahomet, and the Jesuits in Paraguay.
It seemed to be a pertinent and prophetic Conjecture in the Abyssinians, concerning the Churches erected amongst them by the Romish Missionaries, ‘That they were Forts, raised to master and bridle the Country.’ The Missionaries in Japan had such Confidence in the blind Bigotry of their Converts, who believed the Fathers to be all Vice-gods, and the Will and Wisdom of the Fathers to be the Will and Wisdom of God, that they thought themselves able to form a powerful Army, of these their bewitched Tools, against their natural Lord the Emperor; to make them Traitors and Rebels, out of Zeal for Jesuitism, abusefully called Christianity; and to sacrifice their Lives, to make these Reverend Pedants Masters of the Empire. For, had they conquered, they must have assumed the sovereign Sway, or committed it to some nominal Prince to sway it for them: And then Japan must have felt the Fate of America; namely, a Course of Barbarity, Massacre, and Desolation, with whatever was afflicting and dreadful to human Nature; all to spread Darkness and Delusion over the human Soul, for the Benefit of inhuman Deceivers. The Jesuit Xavier, who is sainted, and called, The Apostle of the Indies, made a Declaration, worthy, indeed, of his Order, but nothing savouring of an Apostle, that Missionaries without Musquets were never successful in making Converts. What a Romish Missionary in Japan owned to that Emperor, was enough to alarm him. The Emperor asked him, How the King of Spain came by such vast Territories in America? The Father replied, in the Simplicity of his Heart, ‘That the Catholic King sent over Missionaries to convert the Americans, and then Troops to master them.’
It cannot be forgot, how precariously Princes reigned formerly in Christendom, whilst the Pope presumed to guide and command; nay, to curse and depose Princes. Doubtless he was then the Monarch of Christendom; and those who were called Christian Monarchs, were, under that mock Name, no other than his Vassals and Tributaries. He published Laws binding to Prince and People, taxed their Subjects, levied Money upon them, armed them against their Sovereign, and often dethroned their Sovereign. Were not all these Demonstrations, that he was Sovereign over them All? His magic Monarchy was therefore not only the most impious, and most complete Tyranny, but the most formed for Continuance, as long as Imposture was swallowed and revered for Religion.
Dominion, founded thus in the Soul, is absolute, and ought to teach all Princes, and States, never to suffer those who profess to direct in Religion, to possess Power; since, where-ever these two are blended together, one of them must perish. It is easy to guess, because it has been always seen, which of the Two will prevail; and then worldly Ambition, covered and recommended by a holy Name, animated by the worst Passions, acting from the worst Motives, and pursuing the worst Ends, will monopolize, or taint and confound, All things, Conscience and Property, Law and Reason, sell and belye Heaven, engross and oppress the Earth. The Priests of Egypt, of old, supreme in the State, as well as in Religion, making the most of these mixt Characters, not only made and unmade Kings, not only deposed and slaughtered them, but ordered the King to slaughter himself, whenever they told him he was unfit to reign. Indeed, the more qualified he was for reigning, the less he answered their Purpose, and was the more proper Victim to holy Jealousy. It was therefore from sound and necessary Policy, that the Sophis, or Sovereigns of Persia, assumed the Headship of the Church, as well as of the State, and were as absolute in Religion as in Government. The Great Turk, without claiming the same Title, assumes the same Right, and exercises the same Authority, by making and unmaking the Mufti, or Chief Pontif, at Pleasure.
The De la Lami is not only Chief Pontif of the Eastern Tartars, but treated like a Deity, and stiled Everlasting Father. What may not an Impostor, so important, so adored, and thought to be Almighty and Immortal, undertake and accomplish? It is no Wonder, that the Tartar Princes are never crowned till they have his Blessing, which may be presumed to mean his Permission. They even eat his Dung as sanctified Dainties.
The Talapois, in the Kingdom of Lao, or Langia, in the East, are so formidable, even to the King, that when they commit the most outrageous Crimes, Robbery, Treason, Rapes, and Murder, he dare not punish them, nor suffer them to be punished. He fears, that, were he to chastise or restrain them, they would make his People, over whom they are Omnipotent, destroy him, or would destroy him themselves. He therefore excuses, or will not see, their most shocking Enormities. If they counterfeit the Coin, ‘The poor Men, says he, were in want, and found this ingenious Contrivance to relieve themselves: Besides, it was pious in them, thus to support their Temples and Convents; and their Accusers are to blame.’ Once, one of these Reverend Friers was, upon full and ocular Evidence, convicted, before the King, for having broke, by Night, into the Apartment of two Sisters, Women of Condition, and murdered them for their Jewels. The Fact was plain, the Evidence undeniable, yet the Murderer innocent. ‘An evil Spirit, says his Majesty, hath done the Murder, under the Form of a Talapoi, to bring Disgrace upon these holy Men.’ Thus that King reigns with their Leave, and they tyrannize without his.
This is, indeed, a very surprising Account; but it is still more surprising, that it comes from the European Missionaries, though it be probably very true. Have not European, Catholic Talapois opposed Princes, their natural Princes, rebelled against Princes, cursed their Princes, deposed their Princes, poisoned and stabbed their Princes? And do they not still claim to be independent of their natural Sovereign every-where, and subject only to their own Jurisdiction, and to the Sovereignty of the Pope?
The Profession of the Missionaries Abroad; how notoriously insincere, and contradictory to their Tenets and Practices at Home.
THE above strange Boldness and Inconsistency in the Missionaries lead one into many Reflections. When I think particularly of the mighty Empire of China, that, in Numbers of Inhabitants, in good Policy, and consequently in Felicity, it surpasses all the other great Empires of the Earth, past and present; when I consider, what raised it so high, what preserved it so long, as also, what would sink and ruin it for ever; I cannot but wonder at the marvelous Assurance of these Missionaries, in trying to propagate and establish their shocking System of Absurdities and Impieties there; a System, as repugnant to the Simplicity of Christianity, as to that of rational Heathens! When the Moment their History, and Conduct, and Maxims, are known, all reasonable Chineses must abhor them; abhor their History, fraught with Acts of Fraud and Sedition; abhor their Conduct, black with Persecution and Cruelty; abhor their Maxims, levelled against all Conscience and common Sense, full of Blasphemy against the Deity, full of Contradiction to Reason and Figures; all intirely selfish, framed only to exalt themselves, by cheating, impoverishing, and depressing all others.
Can any sensible Chinese, without Resentment and Scorn, hear himself persuaded to renounce his Reason, as the first Step to Happiness; to stifle that Light which certainly comes from God, and to follow what flatly contradicts that Light; to take extravagant Traditions, and Fairy Tales, and Dreams, for the Will and Word of God; to believe Impossibilities as Divine Truths; to practise wonderful Fooleries, as Duties commanded by the God of Wisdom; to esteem the God of the Universe addicted to personal Fondnesses and Favourites; influenced, or rather governed, by a Mother and Kindred; subject to Caprice and Passions; nay, shifting his Passions, and even his Purposes and Decrees, upon every Request and Whim of his Creatures; unaccountably fond of one Sect, however little and obscure, generally Slaves and Vagabonds, and often, in spight of Him, and all his Menaces, obstinate Idolaters; yet, for their Sake, hating, or neglecting, all the rest of the World?
Can a rational Chinese think, that the Almighty and Impartial Being more readily hears a Prayer made by one Man, than the same Prayer made by another Man; that he regards Coats, or Colours, or Names, or Distinctions, or has given Power to particular Men to prevail with himself in Behalf of all the rest (just as a weak Prince does to his Mistress, or his Barber); though these particular Men can in no earthly or visible Thing shew, that they have any Power, or any Faculties, superior to those of the most ordinary Men; when the Morals of the most ordinary Men are, indeed, generally better than theirs, and when such Morals are the only Recommendation of Men in Society? For, God wants no Human Help, no more than he does Grimace and Flattery.
If the Chineses knew further, that these holy Strollers, professing at first only a Desire to be heard, only to instruct them, to pray for them, and to propose to them the meek Principles of the Gospel; contending for no Power, but that of Persuasion; for no Authority, but that of blaming Vice; for no Revenue, hardly for daily Bread, would yet assume a very different Style, when they had once gained sufficient Numbers of Bigots to follow and support them; that they would then boldly claim a public Establishment, and public Rents, amounting to a large Proportion of the Public Wealth; besides all that they could procure by cheating and frightening private Consciences; that they would haughtily assert an absolute Power in Spirituals, that is, in whatever they pleased to call so; even a Power to excommunicate the whole Empire, and the Prince himself with it; that is, to dethrone him, if he submitted not blindly to them, especially in sinking his Sovereignty, or employed it not in setting them above himself, and in persecuting, burning, and exterminating his best and most conscientious Subjects; namely, such as they could not force to give up all Conscience, at the Word of Command, nor to believe Lyes, nor to reverence marvelous Folly and Inhumanity; that they would raise popular Ferments, Tumults, Bloodshed, and Civil Wars, about Bowings, and Tables, and Legerdemain; would promote continual Strife, about mere Words, and dry Names, and internal, involuntary Motions of the Mind; nay, kill and destroy, for such scandalous Considerations; or, where they were not suffered to go so far, at least make these the Subjects of everlasting Strife and Rancour, to the constant Disturbance and Ruin of Society; that they would curse, and oppress, in Defence of the most shocking Blasphemy; maintaining, that the One only God, He who made all things, He who fills all Space, and, in Power and Greatness, is utterly Incomprehensible, might be eaten and multiplied; that they could damn, and save, human Souls, and open the Gates of Heaven and Hell, though they could not, without human Means, command the smallest Leaf from a Bush, or the smallest Candle to burn, or be extinguished; and that such poor weak Creatures, who had not Power to controul the Motions of a Fly, or award the lowest Insect to a common Death, would yet most impiously presume to influence, nay, to direct and determine, the God of infinite Wisdom and Power:
I say, if any Chinese knew all these frightful Truths, concerning the Missionaries, (and Truths they are, too glaring to be denied) would he not wonder at their Boldness, pity the unhappy Countries where such pestilent Instruments bore Sway, rejoice that his own had escaped them, and study to preserve it for ever from them? Indeed, there cannot be a surer Sign, that all monkish Pretensions whatsoever, to propagate Divine Worship and Opinions, by the Aids of Wealth and Power, by Terrors and Penalties, whether Positive or Negative, are utterly repugnant to the benevolent Christian Religion, and to the merciful Will of God, the common Father of all Men, than that they are found certainly baneful to Society, certainly tending to make People ignorant and slavish, utterly uncharitable, and therefore utterly unsociable, as well as few and poor.
There could not therefore be a surer Method of reducing the mighty Numbers of People in China, with all their mighty Wealth, Trade, and Happiness, than by establishing a monkish Hierarchy there, or any such Hierarchy as considers only Itself, and All things For itself.
The Duration of Tyrannical single Governments, and the changeable Nature of such as are Popular and Free, further considered and illustrated.
WHEN Virtue and good Sense become more prevalent in the World than Vice and Folly, it will be a Wonder indeed, to see the worst Government more permanent than the best. People are generally more constant in evil Habits than in good, more persevering in Grossness and Stupidity than in the Exercise of Reason, and in useful Pursuits. In truth, the more foolish their Habits, the more wild their Tenets are, the more they are prized. The absurd Customs, and extravagant Notions, almost every-where prevailing in the World, shew this to be, in general, the Character of the World, and of most Men in it. They are rarely disposed to change for the Better; or if they be, they almost always mistake the Means: And though they did not, they will find unsurmountable Difficulties thrown in their Way, by those who have Power to do it, and Interest in doing it. Whoever is hurt by the Change, will oppose it, however advantageous it may be to the Whole; as they who gain by the worst Change, will advance the worst; and, in both Cases, the People may be sometimes either so awed as not to attempt the best Change, or so deceived as not to wish for it: At other times, they may be so managed, so seduced and inflamed, as to be hurried into a Passion for the worst.
Where such public Agitations prevail, and in the freest Governments they will always prevail most, the Government itself is constantly threatened with a Revolution, and, at length, with Dissolution, as happened to that of Rome, and had before to that of Athens; which, after all the Laws and Regulations of Solon, still continued turbulent and raging, and hastening to a Downfal. He himself owned, that the Government was bad; but said, the People would bear no better. It is a Wonder, that that of Rome held so long, under such a continual Course of Struggles, between the Leaders of the Senate, and the Leaders of the People. Sallust says expresly, ‘That they (that is, those Leaders) would rather see the State in Convulsions, than lose their superior Sway in it. The Tribunes engaged the People, nay, bribed them, and incensed them against the Senate; all to gain Influence and Popularity, and thence Power and Command, to themselves. Against the Tribunes the Nobility exerted all their Force; in Appearance, for the Authority of the Senate; in Reality, for their own Grandeur. One Side was loud for the Rights of the People; the other, for supporting the Dignity of the Senate; both pleading the Public Good, both struggling for their own particular Pre-eminence. Not was there any End, or Bounds, to this terrible Competition.’
The Faction which prevailed, must, in all good Policy, disable the defeated Faction from recovering: They would rather therefore try a new Constitution, that is, a new Government, than hazard the Re-admission of the late Governors; and risque the utter Change of the State, than lose the Rule of it.
The Romans got rid of the Tyranny of Kings, but fell under the Tyranny of Party. The History of the Commonwealth is little else but the History of Party. Even their Foreign Wars, and Conquests, arose from the continual Struggle of Parties at Home; a Struggle that early presaged the Overthrow of the Commonwealth, which fell finally under that great Party-Man, Cæsar, who, by the Force and Improvement of Party, put an End to Liberty. Sylla and Marius had shewn the Thing to be feasible: Many others had attempted it. Cæsar accomplished it; he oppressed Liberty, and oppressed it for ever.—A sad Consideration, that when Liberty is once lost, it is hardly ever to be recovered; it is the more sad, as Liberty naturally furnishes Enemies against Itself. Great Liberty always produces Faction: Faction is always dangerous, often pernicious to Liberty.
Faction, if it be not formed by some particular Head, will at least soon find a Head; or a Head will soon find the Faction. Then, as He will stick at nothing to humour Them, They will stick at nothing to exalt Him, even so as to enable Him to destroy the State, and Themselves with it. If Catiline fail, so must his Followers. They therefore desperately concur with him, in all his most desperate Measures, to destroy the Government with Fire and Sword, and, by the same dreadful Means, to set up another Government. The whole Faction were so devilishly determined, that not a Man of them, amongst so many Thousands, all desperate and poor, would betray any of the rest, though tempted to it by the Offer of Pardon, and a great Reward; as I have elsewhere observed. They even blaspheme the sacred Name of Liberty, and use it as a Stale to their savage Treason; prostitute it, yet complain of the want of it; and pretend to restore it, whilst they are extirpating it.
Indeed, by the Sound of Liberty, every enterprising Tribune could shake and endanger the State; and his most pernicious Projects were sometimes the most popular: Sicinius Dentatus proposed, upon the Conquest of the City and Territory of Veii, to divide the whole Roman People, and to send One-half of all Degrees thither: A Proposal which, had it succeeded, would have put a Period to the Roman State; yet the People, ever fond of Novelties, and popular Projects, rejoiced in the Proposal, and were hardly kept from executing it.
It was thus the worst Men made themselves popular, by offering popular Laws, and bewailing popular Grievances; Laws which were really wanted, but sometimes could not be obtained, or were attempted to be obtained in such a Way, upon such Terms, and by such Instruments, as made the Execution of them more mischievous than the Want of them; Grievances that could not be removed, without introducing worse. What seemed more reasonable, what more wanted, than the Distribution of the public Lands amongst the Roman People, who had conquered them? What more reasonable, what more just, than an Agrarian Law; limiting the monstrous Wealth of some particular Subjects, and supplying the miserable Wants of All? But, besides the great Difficulty in gaining and executing such a Law, those who were loudest and most active in pushing it, meant only their own Grandeur, and to enthrall the People with their own Consent. They knew that any popular Cry would be followed with popular Applause, with popular Confidence, and popular Authority.
Even the extravagant and enslaving Scheme of the Tribune Rullus was applauded by the People, because he declared it to be for the Benefit of the People; though nothing was ever more obviously destructive of their Liberty, and of the very Being of the State. By it, ‘He and Nine Confederates more, were to be invested, during Five Years, with absolute Power over the Commonwealth, over all its Forces and Revenues, over all the Lands and Fortunes of particular Subjects; Power to settle Colonies, to distribute the public Treasure to the People at Discretion, and to alter and transfer Property at Pleasure.’ A Scheme, which, at first View, declared these Ten to be uncontroulable Tyrants over the Republic, and All in it to be absolute Slaves to these Ten Tyrants; yet, so pleasing to the People, that it required all the Credit, all the Address and Eloquence, of Cicero, to undeceive them, and prevail with them to reject it.
There never was any human Society, which did not want something: In every Society, there will be many Men wanting many Things. These, as they will be apt to complain, will like such as pity them, and join with them in their Complaints. Such who pretend to relieve them, will be still more dear to them. The same Spirit, and the same Materials, which produce Mountebanks and false Teachers, produce false Patriots and Reformers, who, in order to gain popular Influence, must practise and promote popular Deceit; as I have already largely illustrated.
The great Unsteadiness, and, consequently, the great Insecurity, of popular Governments, as well as the sudden Gusts of Rage and Injustice, to which they are subject, is signally exemplified in the Commonwealth of the Grisons. Whenever the Peasants are heated by any malevolent Report against any Man, though it be only whispered, perhaps to be traced to no Author, or the Author never to be discovered, they flock in Crouds to the Diet, and demand a Chamber of Justice, or rather command it. For they are Masters, and this, nor any thing else, must be denied to their Fury, be their Fury ever so groundless. The Person accused, however innocent, is put upon proving himself not guilty. For the Charge is without Proof, and supported only by popular Jealousy, raised by any Incendiary, and Artizan of Falshood. Be the Person ever so guiltless, he must be tortured; and the Torture often produces Confession of false Guilt, which is followed by real Execution. Such as can stand the Rack, are indeed acquitted, but live ever afterwards bereft of their Limbs. So that here is certain Punishment, without any certain Crime, or for none: The Innocent may die by false Confession: The most Guilty may escape by making none. No Wonder, that upon such popular Alarms, such as any spiteful Slanderer may wantonly raise, the Gentry fly: For the Peasants are both Judges and Accusers; and there is no Safety, though there be no Crime. Some Sacrifices must be made, generally many are made, to asswage popular Rage, which, when it is most blind, is most carnivorous.
Here is a Republic, where, first, any Malecontent, any Incendiary, may, by any spiteful Device or Forgery, rouse the People to Insurrections and Massacre; and where, secondly, all the principal Men, who are thus least safe in it, are under a continual Temptation to abolish such popular Licentiousness, and to introduce a quieter Government, for their own Security. Besides, we have an Instance from the same Country, how easily, and readily, and madly, the People themselves are drawn to change the most popular Government, and to submit to absolute Tyranny. A Community of the Grisons, under the gentlest Yoke in the World, without any Grievance to complain of, but that their Magistrates were now-and-then of a different Religion, and that Protestants were tolerated amongst them, were such surprising Bigots, as to throw off their just and mild Governors, cut the Throats of their unoffending Neighbours, and cast themselves into the Hands of the Spaniards, the most terrible Masters in the World.
Upon the Whole, Free Governments are indeed difficult to be conquered, but subject to change; and it is scarce possible to frame, or even to conceive, one of them free from the Materials of Change, and internal Dissolution. They may conquer great Monarchies: The Roman Republic conquered many, but, at last, conquered itself, by the very Means and Instruments of its Conquests, even its own victorious Armies and Commanders. That State, like others, equally Popular and Free, produced Great Men: Those Great Men often threatened, at last effected, the Ruin of the State. They proved equally dangerous at the Head of Factions, as at the Head of Armies; and frequently came to lead Armies, by having led Factions.
Great absolute Monarchies cannot properly be called Government, because they can never be well and equally administred, even where the Monarch most sincerely intends it; a Case which seldom happens, or can be presumed. He who directs All, cannot be exactly acquainted how All is executed, and cannot answer for the Virtue and Sufficiency of all the infinite Instruments employed by him, and under him. Absolute Power is generally absolute Misrule, a Train of public Spoilers, preying upon one another, certainly upon all others; and, under the Name of Protecting, in fact, Distressing and Consuming Men.—Yet this Sort of Monarchy is generally lasting; it is subject indeed to be conquered, but is obnoxious, within itself, to no essential Change. The Monarch himself is frequently changed, and for ever liable to be so; to be dethroned, imprisoned, slain: But such Changes, however frequent, are but Personal: The Power and Policy is the same, and continues. Civil Wars and Revolutions have been frequent in India, Persia, and Turkey; but, in all of them, the Constitution remains unvaried; and the Successor of an Emperor, deposed for abusing his Power, is still at Liberty to abuse it as much.
There never was a freer, or a braver People, under the Sun, than the Cossacks. Oppression at Home from their Polish Lords, drove them to seek Shelter in the Ukrain, from their Courage, and into a League of mutual Defence. It is wonderful, what great Defeats small Bands of them have given to great Armies, and what amazing Exploits they have performed against the Turks, upon the Black Sea, where, in small open Boats, without the Help or Possibility of Ordnance, they have awed, surprised, and beaten, the Turkish Navy, and often taken and destroyed their proud Gallies, full of Men and Artillery. But their Government is too free to be steady and lasting. Their Hetman, or Chief, is elective; and a terrible Station he holds; since, upon every public Disaster and Miscarriage, which must frequently happen from their frequent and desperate Excursions, he is almost sure to be cut to pieces, however able and faultless he be. Yet this Honour, which no Wise Man would chuse, the Wisest Man dare not refuse. If he do, he is as surely cut to pieces for Not serving, as if he had served ever so Ill. So that any factions Member, may, from private Spite or Ambition, propose his Enemy, or Rival, to be their Chief, on purpose to have him staughtered. Thus daily Commotions, and continual Tragedies, are to be apprehended amongst them; and the Chief is under constant Temptations to save his Life, and consult his own Security, by conspiring against that of the Public, and by betraying the State to some powerful Neighbour, able to protect him against his own People; and many such Neighbours there are, ready to combine with and encourage him, in Moscovy, Turkey, Tartary, and Poland.
Crotona, an antient Greek City in Italy, famous for the Birth of Pythagoras, was a Commonwealth, administered by a Council of a Thousand: That of Locris had one as numerous: The Seres, a People in Scythia, had one of Five thousand. What Union, what Peace and Secrecy, could be expected in such tumultuous Councils? We may guess, and indeed find, by their History, to what Factions and Struggles, to what intestine Changes and Calamities, these popular States were subject; what Scope and Encouragement was given to Demagogues; what Danger attended their best Magistrates, what evil Constructions the best Measures; and, thence, what Temptation to these Magistrates to make themselves independent; and thus introduce a Single Tyranny, or that of a Few.
Syracuse was the proudest and most opulent of all the Greek Cities; till the People, wanton with Plenty and Prosperity, and impatient of any Restraint upon their Liberty, (though, without Restraint, no Liberty can subsist) ruined All, Themselves, their Liberty, and their State, by setting up a popular Government; which, whilst it lasted, was little better than Anarchy, and naturally produced, what, from the Beginning, it naturally tended to produce, Single Tyranny. The Multitude made War and Peace; gave and resumed Governments, and military Command; made and abolished Treaties; were Masters of Life and Death; declared and pardoned Criminals; despised real Merit, and exalted Favourites without Merit.
This popular Liberty, or rather this Madness, this wild Power in the Many, could not hold, when every loud Son of the Rabble was first heard; and, minding only his own little Interest, trusted most in those who flattered him best. All lived in a continual Intercourse of deceiving, and being deceived: He who could best deceive All, was in a Way to be Master of All. Dionysius proved to be the Man; a Man ever since renowned and detested, by the Name of the Tyrant. He cajolled the Multitude, and the Multitude adored him. For Their sake, and for his Attachment to them, he told Them, (and this was Argument enough to gain their Belief) that he went in hourly Peril of his Life; and begged them to appoint him a Guard: They readily granted him what he wanted, and he readily took what they had thus helped him to; even the Prerogative of putting Chains upon them All. He even entailed the Tyranny upon his Son. When they were released from this Second crazy and contemptible Tyrant, by the virtuous Timoleon, the People, bewitched with the Notions of unbounded Liberty, (a Thing which can never last; and, whilst it does, is in continual Combination against itself) struggling for the old popular Government, Agathocles, once a Pathic, a Haunter of Brothels, then a common Soldier, now an Officer, adopting the fashionable Cry for Liberty and the People, charmed them, cheated them, enslaved them, and then butchered them by Centuries.
Sybaris was a populous and thriving State; the City contained Three hundred thousand Inhabitants. The Government was popular and unsteady. The People, provoked and deceived by one Telys, a designing Citizen, banished Five hundred Citizens at once, the most wealthy of the Whole; Men whom He disliked, and whom he taught the Populace to hate. The Exiles were protected and patronized by the Crotonians; a War ensued; an Army of Three hundred thousand Sybarites were utterly routed and slaughtered, by a Third of the Number of Crotonians, commanded by the famous Wrestler Milo. The City itself of Sybaris was sacked, and laid desolate: It was not rebuilt for almost Sixty Years; and then again razed by the Crotonians. The fugitive Sybarites, assisted by a Colony from Athens, built another City, with another Name; and, using the New-comers insolently, lost the chief Sway to them. So much they got and lost, by their Possession of popular Liberty, and by their Faith in Telys their popular Leader.
The Populace at Argos, in one wild Sedition, destroyed most of the considerable Argives, without other Evidence, than the Insinuations and bold Calumnies of their Orators. All the Rich were accused; all the Accused were found guilty; all the Guilty were put to Death. Even the inhuman Orators were, at last, terrified with such infinite Executions, no less than 1600 in a Train; and, growing slack in their Pursuit of more, became thence suspected; Suspicion was Guilt enough; and they were themselves slaughtered; they who were the Authors of so much Slaughter!
An Aristocracy, or a Government of the Nobles, is more secure, as it is more steady, than a popular Government; and though generally very strict and severe, yet nothing so terrible as absolute Monarchy. That of Sparta lasted many Ages, after it was rescued, by the Wisdom and Courage of Lycurgus, from the Weakness and Violence of Popularity, into which it had lapsed; and was therefore hastening to Dissolution, as I have before observed. One Part of the Spartan Policy seems extremely unjust and cruel: As the genuine Spartans were not very numerous, all bred only to Arms; the Grounds were cultivated, and all servile Offices were performed, by the Helotes, their Slaves, the Natives of the Country, first conquered by the Heraclides. These Slaves were very numerous, and presumed not to be well-affected to their proud Masters; who therefore used, from time to time, to employ the most trusty Spartan Youth on secret and nightly Expeditions, to massacre quietly such of these Slaves, as were most obnoxious for Strength, Capacity, and Spirit; even Two thousand at a time.
The Venetians, with all their Experience and Refinements, their great Council, their Senate, and their College; with all their Checks, Rotations, and Ballotings; their extraordinary Maxims, and Jealousy; could not boast much Security and Permanence, but for the supreme and unaccountable Authority of the Council of Ten; the constant Terror of all turbulent Subjects, and the great Bulwark of the Commonwealth.
The Government of the Argives was, in a great measure, the same with that of Sparta; but through One Defect, I mean the Want of a Senate, like that of the Ephori there, was subject to terrible Agitations and Insurrections. Any popular Jealousy and Rage, always easily raised by any evil Instruments amongst the Populace, for want of such a Council to intercept it, discharged itself directly upon the King, and ended not, but in his Murder, or Deposition. It was therefore just Policy in one of the Kings of Sparta, to institute the Ephori; for, though that Institution checked the Royal Authority, as his Queen weakly upbraided him, it secured and prolonged it: And the Spartan Government, which lasted so long, might have lasted still longer, but for its Attempts to make Conquests; which introduced new Maxims, with the Means and Examples of Luxury; let loose the Ambition of particular Spartans, and unsettled all Things. It was admirably framed for Self-preservation, but not for Inlargement.
The Roman Government was itself enslaved by the same Spirit and Instruments, by which it enslaved so many other Nations; I mean, by popular Heroes and Armies. Thenceforwards the Roman Government could not be said to exist, even with a Roman Emperor at the Head of it. It was lost in Imperial Frolic and Fury; in the Humour, Whim, or Appetite, of a Fool, or a Madman, Claudius, or Nero. Neither could the wisest Prince alter it, much less restore it: This was, indeed, impossible; and some such were destroyed for attempting it; not could the best do more, than shew their Pity and Generosity, by particular Acts of Justice and Benevolence, which died with them. The best Reigns were only Intervals of Violence, Robbery, and Bloodshed. Yet this Tyranny, this Inversion and Suppression of Government, proved lasting. The Tyrants were frequently destroyed, but the Tyranny never.
This is the Lot and Curse of Tyrants, without bringing Relief to the People; unless, perhaps, it prove some Consolation to them, to see, that their grand Oppressor, that the proudest Ruler, holds a more precarious Life, and is hourly threatened with a more ignominious Death, than his meanest Slave. There are eternal Changes in such Government, but never of it; and the same Hands which preserve the Monarchy unchangeable, may change the Monarch every Day.
The Prætorian Bands, the Turkish Janizaries, the Russian Strelitzes, as they can make and unmake Sovereigns, are rather the Masters, than the Servants, of their Sovereigns: And a Prince, thus at the Mercy of his Soldiery, must, to save Himself, give up All to their Mercy; his Subjects, his Revenue, his Prerogative, his Ministers, and his Favourites. Sometimes, after all these Sacrifices, he is sacrificed Himself. A dreadful Situation, both for Princes and Subjects; the more dreadful, as it never, never mends. It is a Sort of Government which destroys Government, and all Things; Princes, as well as People; but is Itself never destroyed, till it hath destroyed All. It may change its Name, from Roman to Greek, from Greek to Saracen, from Saracen to Turkish, from Persian to Parthian; but its Nature doth not change: It is still military; still arbitrary and violent; perpetual, and unchangeable.
A free People may conquer an absolute Monarchy: The Romans conquered many; indeed all that they attacked. But the same Way that leads to foreign Conquest, leads to domestic Slavery; and where Slavery is so established, it is established for ever; as it was at Rome: Vestigia nulla retrorsum. It is not likely, that the Soldiers will let the Laws govern the King, when They cannot govern the Laws. With them, the Opportunity of making Princes infers the Power of doing it: Power is Right; Right is perpetual and sacred. The Roman Emperors continued to be made by them, or were deposed and destroyed by them, to the last. Where the Son succeeded the Father, he did it by their Fiat and Approbation.
In Turky, Superstition has confined the Janizaries, in the Choice of their Princes, to the Line of Othman: But they have dethroned, imprisoned, and butchered their Princes, as freely as if they had been chosen from the Army, or the Rabble. It must be owned, too, that History furnishes not such an able and brave Race of Princes, as have been found of that Line. For Three hundred Years they were all Heroes: A Wonder indeed! The greatest Wretches are commonly the Descendents of the greatest Heroes. Such, literally, were those of Cæsar, of Sesostris, of Cyrus, of Tamerlane, and Charlemagne. Yet, during the Successors of these great Princes, the Dread and Infamy of their several Reigns put no Period to their dreadful Form of Reigning, though it often did to their Lives. Sometimes the immediate Successor is only conspicuous for being unworthy of his Ancestors: Witness Edward II. the weak and unhappy Son of Edward I. Richard II. the hopeful Heir of Edward III. Also Henry VI. the wretched Son and Successor of Henry V.
This Consideration is alone sufficient to expose the horrid Nature and Claim of despotic Sway in any one Man. For, Once that it falls into the Hands of an able Prince, it may fall Ten times into the Hands of Fools; who consider the Country as their Estate, and Men as their Cattle. In this Light the Emperor Severus (one of the best, too, that the Romans knew) seems to have considered the Roman Empire, and the Romans themselves: His last Advice to his Two Sons was, To fill the Treasury; (without limiting them to any honest Methods of doing it) To feed and gratify the Soldiery; and to take no further Care or Concern for any thing else. He did not so much as name the Roman People, or Senate: He even knew, that these very Youths were likely to rend and waste the Empire; for they hated one another mortally, and were already in a State of War; and the Elder had attempted to poison, then to assassinate his Father. Soon after his Father’s Death he butchered his Brother, even in the Arms of their common Mother; proved a Tyrant, and a Butcher, to the Romans, but a liberal Slave to the Army; agreeably to the Advice of his Father. He died, however, in Blood, as became such a bloody Man. His Successor proved worse than He, and had the like Fate; which, in a long Succession, scarce any escaped.
But though the Imperial Tyrants were still falling, the Imperial Tyranny stood still firm. The Soldiers would brook no other: How should they? Whenever they murdered one Emperor, they were sure of being well paid for setting up another; and then murdered Him, too, when they had left him no more to give them. It was a fine Government to Them: From it they had the Spoils of the World.
Why did the free Romans, why did the free Greeks, hate Monarchy, and despise Monarchs, but because they were lawless, absolute Tyrants; their Subjects absolute Slaves, and their great Armies for ever defeated, by Handfuls of Men born free, and therefore brave? An Athenian valued himself more upon being the Son of an Athenian, than upon the Blood he derived, by his Mother, from the Kings of Thrace: And the Daughter of a Roman Citizen refused to be the Wife of a King.
An Inquiry, Which is the most Equal and Perfect Government: Our own proved to be so.
THE most equal and perfect Government amongst the Romans, was their First Government; that of King, Senate, and People, and it is the most perfect of all Governments.
Absolute Power, in the People, is Madness, naturally and hastily running into the Hands of One Man, where it is Madness still; but more dangerous, as it is then harder to be removed: In the Hands of a Few, it is the Tyranny of a Few. Now, what can controul either a governing Multitude, or a Cabal that governs the Multitude, or one Man who dictates to all?
Power divided between the People and the Nobility, produces Distrust, Faction, and Civil Feuds, threatening to all Government; as in Rome during the Commonwealth, which perished by them.
Power divided between King and Nobles, besides the infinite Distrust between Him and Them, as in Poland, infers absolute Slavery in the Populace; nor can there be more miserable Slaves than the Poles, who are worked and sold like Cattle, and often killed by their Lords, with as much Wantonness, and as little Ceremony; almost with equal Impunity: A Ducat compensates for the Life of a Subject: Sometimes no Inquiry is made, and consequently no Forfeiture.
Power, divided between a King and the People, produces equal or more Distrusts; and as there is no Check nor Mediator, where both are equal, he must either enslave them, or be deposed by them. The Athenians banished Theseus; and Pisistratus mastered the Athenians. I have above mentioned the defective Policy of the Argives, their Struggles against their Kings, and their barbarous Usage of them. As Power, when it is no longer limited, is no longer Government, but only the Sallies and Outrages of Passion and Folly; Liberty, when it is no longer confined, no longer exists. Both Liberty and Power are known and justified by their Bounds.
The Form of Three Estates is the most perfect Form, as it comprehends every material Interest in a Country, and balances all. Four would be too many; since a Misunderstanding is more likely to happen amongst Four than amongst Three. More would but still create more Discord, Distress, and Confusion.
A little Observation, without much Reasoning, or any Refinement, will serve to satisfy any unprejudiced Man of the Truth of what I say, and of the superior Excellency of Three Estates to any other Form whatsoever.
In all the English Reigns, from the Conquest to the Reformation, the Liberty of England was very defective, and therefore the English Government was imperfect. In all the Struggles between the King and the Barons, it was only for absolute Power to the Crown, or absolute Independency in the Barons: The People were never further considered, than as they joined one Side, or the other; the King, or the Nobles; and the chief Use that either made of them, was to draw them into their particular Quarrels, to spill their Blood, oppress their Persons, and exhaust their Property. The Commons had no Share in the Legislature, at least no equal and proportionable Share. There were only Two Estates, the King and the Nobles; no Third to balance them; and therefore frequent Struggles and Wars between these Two. Neither did it proceed from any Virtue in either the Crown or the Lords, but only from the Wealth and Strength of the Commons, that a Third Estate, that of the Commons, was established with proper Weight and Authority.
These Three Estates constitute the most free, the most equal, and the most happy Government yet known in the World, or that ever can be known. It is the Government which Tacitus mentions as the most complete, but the rarest to be found, and the hardest to be formed.—Cunctas nationes & urbes populus, aut primores, aut singuli regunt: Delecta ex his & constituta Reipub. forma, laudari facilius quam evenire; vel, si evenit, haud diuturna esse potest. ‘All Nations and Communities are governed by the People, by the Nobility, or by single Rulers: A Constitution framed of each, and comprehending all Three, is easier admired than accomplished; or, if accomplished, is not lasting.’
As this Power, in the Hands of One, makes all Men Slaves; in the Hands of a Few, it makes so many Tyrants; in the Hands of All, it confounds All: But in the joint Hands of One, of Several, and of Many, that is, in the Hands of the Populus, Primores, and Singuli; King, Lords, and Commons, all constituting one mixt Legislature; it is a complete System, including all Ranks, and salutary to All. This is our Constitution, such a one as yields more Security, both to the Governors and the Governed, than any that has yet appeared in the World, and more than any other can. In it, all the Three Parts are equally bound and interested to preserve one another, and each is only safe, where the other Two are so. Without a King, one of the Two Estates would soon swallow up, or abolish, the other: A King, without the other Two Estates, would be in Danger of abolishing himself.
The Experiment hath been tried. The Suppression of the Royal Power was followed by that of the Nobility: No King, No Lords. The King had before attempted to abolish both Lords and Commons; an Attempt against Nature and Duty, impotent and odious, subversive of his own Power, and fatal to his Person. They had as good a Right to rule without Him, as He without Them; and sad Experience taught both Him and Them, that they could not rule without One Another.
No other Scheme can be pursued in England, without pernicious Consequences to the Whole, and even to those who pursue it. No absolute Monarchy can be settled without a Civil War: And many Civil Wars would probably follow one another. If a Civil War should end in absolute Monarchy, it is not probable, that he who aimed at it, would enjoy it: If it should end in a Commonwealth, it is likely the same Instrument that set it up, would pull it down, and raise himself upon its Fall.
The only Hope and Aim therefore, amongst all reasonable, all suffering Subjects, after all the Efforts and Bloodshed of a Civil War, would be, to recover the former Government: An Event, which, howeve salutary to the Whole, would be ruinous to the Innovators. The haughty assuming Prince, who would submit to no Law, would not be again trusted to administer the Laws. Such as would not submit to a limited Monarchy, must then square their Allegiance to it, or suffer for refusing.
Can there be stronger Motives to a Prince to govern justly, or to Subjects to behave dutifully? This is the only sure Policy in both Governors and Governed; this the only certain Rule to preserve good Government.
I might inquire next, how far the Judgment of Tacitus may be prophetic, when applied to the Stability of this our Constitution: But I chuse not to enter into such an Inquiry, perhaps neither satisfactory to myself, nor to my Reader. I own there is Danger; I think I see the Causes of it, but cannot see the Cure. I doubt the greatest Danger is little known, or apprehended.
I shall end this Discourse with the same excellent Observations, with which Sir Walter Raleigh ends his History of the World; Observations worthy of that great and masterly Genius, perhaps as great as ever England, or human Nature, produced.
‘By this which we have already set down, is seen the Beginning and End of the Three First Monarchies of the World; whereof the Founders and Erectors thought, that they could never have ended. That of Rome, which made the Fourth, was also at this Time almost at the Highest(a) . We have left it flourishing in the Middle of the Field; having rooted up, or cut down, all that kept it from the Eyes and Admiration of the World. But, after some Continuance, it shall begin to lose the Beauty it had; the Storms of Ambition shall beat her great Boughs and Branches one against another; her Leaves shall fall off, her Limbs wither, and a Rabble of barbarous Nations enter the Field, and cut her down.’
‘Now, these great Kings, and conquering Nations, have been the Subject of those antient Histories, which have been preserved, and yet remain among us; and withal, of so many tragical Poets, as in the Persons of powerful Princes, and other mighty Men, have complained against Infidelity, Time, Destiny; and, most of all, against the variable Success of worldly Things, and Instability of Fortune. To these Undertakings, these great Lords of the World have been stirred up, rather by the Desire of Fame, which ploweth up the Air, and soweth in the Wind, than by the Affection of bearing Rule, which draweth after it so much Vexation, and so many Cares. And that this is true, the good Advice of Cineas to Pyrrhus proves: And, certainly, as Fame hath often been dangerous to the Living, so it is to the Dead of no Use at all, because separate from Knowledge; which, were it otherwise, and the extreme ill Bargain of buying this lasting Discourse understood by them which are dissolved, they themselves would, then, rather have wished to have stolen out of the World without Noise, than to be put in mind, that they have purchased the Report of their Actions in the World, by Rapine, Oppression, and Cruelty; by giving in Spoil the innocent and labouring Soul to the idle and insolent; and by having emptied the Cities of the World of their antient Inhabitants, and filled them again with so many and so variable Sorts of Sorrows.
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‘For the rest, if we seek a Reason of the Succession and Continuance of this boundless Ambition in mortal Men, we may add to that which hath been already said, that the Kings and Princes of the World have always laid before them the Actions, but not the Ends, of those great Ones which preceded them. They are always transported with the Glory of the one, but they never mind the Misery of the other, till they find the Experience in themselves: They neglect the Advice of God, whilst they enjoy Life, or hope it; but they follow the Counsel of Death, upon his first Approach. It is He that puts into Man all the Wisdom of the World, without speaking a Word; which God, with all the Words of his Law, Promises or Threats, doth infuse. Death, which hateth and destroyeth Man, is believed; God, which hath made him, and loves him, is always deferred. I have considered (saith Solomon) all the Works that are underthe Sun; and, behold, all is Vanity, and Vexation of Spirit. But who believes it, till Death tells it us? It was Death, which, opening the Conscience of Charles V. made him injoin his Son Philip to restore Navarre; and King Francis I. of France, to command, that Justice should be done upon the Murderers of the Protestants in Merindol and Cabrieres; which, till then, he neglected. It is, therefore, Death alone that can suddenly make Man to know himself. He tells the Proud and Insolent, that they are but Abjects, and humbles them at the Instant; makes them cry, complain, and repent; yea, even to hate their fore-past Happiness: He takes the Account of the Rich, and proves him a Beggar, a naked Beggar, which hath Interest in nothing, but the Gravel which fills his Mouth. He holds a Glass before the Eyes of the most Beautiful, and makes them see therein their Deformity and Rottenness; and they acknowlege it.
‘O eloquent, just, and mighty Death! whom None could advise, Thou hast persuaded: What None have dared, Thou hast done: And whom all the World hath flattered, Thou only hast cast out of the World, and despised: Thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched Greatness, all the Pride, Cruelty, and Ambition, of Man; and covered it all over with these Two narrow Words, Hic jacet.’
[(a) ]Sir Walter ends his History with the Victory of Paulus Æmilius over Perseus King of Macedon; Anno Urbis 585.