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THE First Epistle of SALLUST TO CAIUS JULIUS CÆSAR: CONCERNING THE Regulation of the Commonwealth. - Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust), The Works of Sallust (Gordon’s Discourses, Cicero’s Orations against Catiline) 
The Works of Sallust, translated into English with Political Discourses upon that Author. To which is added, a translation of Cicero’s Four Orations against Catiline (London: R. Ware, 1744).
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THE First Epistle of SALLUST TO CAIUS JULIUS CÆSAR: CONCERNING THE Regulation of the Commonwealth.
Some think, not without Ground, that these Epistles are placed and called wrong; that this is the Second, and the other should come First. It is questioned too, by some good Judges, whether they be genuine. It is my own Opinion, that they are. The Latin is pure, and appears to be that of Sallust; and the Strains in both are, like his, severe Invectives, many of them too true, but all very virulent, against the Administration before the Usurpation of Cæsar; many high Compliments, full of Flattery, upon that Usurper; and many Strokes of Self-sufficiency and Praise.
IT heretofore prevailed as an established Truth, that Kingdoms and Empires, and whatever other Objects Men eagerly pursue, were only the Gifts of Fortune; since they were often capriciously bestowed upon the Undeserving, and never enjoyed by any, without a sensible Diminution and Decay. But Experience has since convinced us, that Appius the Poet was not mistaken, when he said, that ‘Every Man is the Architect of his own Fortune.’ In you especially, Cæsar, is this Maxim verified; in you, who have so far surpassed all others, that sooner were Men wearied in celebrating your glorious Actions, than you in performing them. But still, as in the finished Works of Architecture, so in the Acquisitions of Heroic Virtue, the utmost Attention is required; if they are neglected, their Beauty will soon be impaired; or, for want of Care to support them, the noble Structures may fall to Ruin. For it is not without Reluctance, that any Man submits to the sovereign Authority of another; and, however just and mild he may be in the Exercise of such Power, still we are apt to be under Apprehensions of Oppression from him, whose Situation enables him to oppress when he pleases. Nor are such Apprehensions without Foundation; for those who get the Reins of Government into their Hands, are, in their Conduct, generally influenced by an absurd Maxim, ‘That the more base and degenerate the People are, the more secure is the Power of the Sovereign.’ But far different ought to be your Measures, Cæsar; and, as you yourself are Virtuous and Brave, who are to give Laws, it is highly expedient to make the People so, who are to receive them. For the worst of Men are always found the most impatient under the Restraints of Government.
Indeed, when I consider, that the Exercise of your Power, in the Course of the War, has been more gentle than that of others in the Times of Peace; when I see your victorious Troops demanding the Gratification of plundering the Conquered; and when I consider, that the Conquered are your Fellow-Citizens; I must confess, that these Difficulties, which you have to encounter in settling your Conquests, are greater than Any, before you, have met with. But out of these Difficulties you must resolve to extricate yourself, and settle the Commonwealth upon a firm Establishment for the future; an Undertaking to be effected, not so much by the Force of Arms, or by Triumphs over the Enemies, as by a Method much more noble, as well as difficult; by the wholsome Institutions of Laws, and the Sanctions of Discipline and Peace. An Affair, therefore, of such high Importance calls upon all, as well those of eminent Abilities, as those who are less distinguished, to communicate their Sentiments, and offer the best Advice in their Power: For it is my Opinion, that the future Happiness or Misery of Rome intirely depends upon the Methods you take in settling your Victories.
That this great End may be the more easily and effectually accomplished, I beg your Attention to the few Things, which occur to my Thoughts upon this Occasion.
You have been engaged, illustrious General, in a War against an eminent Adversary, a Man of immense Wealth, and boundless Ambition; but more distinguished by his Fortune, than any Prudence or Sagacity in his Conduct. Amongst his Adherents, some few followed his Arms, whose Enmity to you had no other Foundation, than the Injustice they had done you: Others were drawn to his Party by the Tye of Affinity, or some personal Obligation. Not one of them had any Share in his Power; for, could he have submitted to a Participation of Dominion, the whole World would not have felt the Shock of a devouring War. The rest of his Party; the vast Multitudes of the common People, that were in his Camp, were drawn thither, not so much by their own Judgment, as by the prevailing Example of others, whom they looked upon as more discerning than themselves. In this Juncture, a Set of Wretches, whose infamous Luxury had left nothing unpolluted, encouraged by malicious Reports, with the Hopes of seizing the Commonwealth, came over to your Camp, and there, without any Reserve, threatened Death and Rapine, and all the Miseries of unrestrained Licentiousness, to those who engaged in neither Party. But many of them, when they found you would neither cancel their Debts, nor suffer your Fellow-Citizens to be treated as public Enemies, withdrew from your Camp. Some few of them, indeed, still remained, imagining they should enjoy greater Ease and Security there, than they could in the City: So terrible an Apprehension had they of the Power and Rage of Creditors.
It is almost incredible what Numbers, and what Men of high Rank and Distinction, went over to Pompey also, upon the very same Motives; and, during the whole Course of the War, adhered to him, as a sacred and inviolable Sanctuary to People under such Difficulties and Distresses.
Now, as the Success of your Arms has made you the Arbiter of War and Peace; that you may put such an End to the one, as may be a Demonstration of your Regard to your Fellow-Citizens, and make the other as honourable and lasting as possible; consider well, what are the most adviseable Steps for the Regulation of your own Conduct; since it is on you only that this Affair intirely depends. It is my Opinion, that the rigid Exercise of Power tends rather to render it vexatious and uneasy, than firm and lasting: Nor is it possible for any Man to make himself an Object of Dread to the Many, but, at the same time, a reciprocal Dread of the Many must recoil upon himself. And to be in such a Situation, is to be eternally involved in a State of Warfare, on all Sides perilous: For, to whatever Quarter you betake yourself, no Security is to be found, surrounded as you are with continual Dangers, and alarmed with terrible Apprehensions. Very different is the Situation of those, whose Power is tempered with Mildness, and moderated by Humanity and Benevolence! Every thing around them appears fair, flourishing, and happy; and the very Enemies of the Nation shew them more Favour and Esteem, than those of a contrary Character meet with from their own Citizens. And can any one say, that I am prompted to give this Advice, by a partial Regard to the conquered Party, or a sinister View to detract from the Glory of your Triumphs? No doubt I deserve this Censure, for declaring, that such Treatment as foreign Nations, Nations naturally our Foes, have met with from us, and our Ancestors, ought not to be denied to our Fellow-Citizens; and that we Romans should not, like savage Barbarians, insist upon the Retaliation of Blood and Slaughter.
Have they then forgot the Reproaches they lately cast upon Pompey, and upon Sylla’s cruel Use of Victory? how Domitius, Carbo, and Brutus, with several others, were slain; that they fell not when under Arms in the Field, not in the Heat of Battle, by the common Calamity of War; but, after that was over, even when they were supplicating Mercy, they were most inhumanly murdered? Have they forgot how the People of Rome were, like so many Cattle, butchered in the Field of Mars? Bloody and inhuman has been the Use other Conquerors, before You, have made of their Victories! Dreadful were the Scenes of private Slaughters, unexpected Massacres, Women flying into the Bosoms of their Children, and Children into the Bosoms of their Parents, and, in all Quarters, our Habitations plundered and demolished! The very Men, who acted this bloody Part, would now persuade You to pursue the same Measures: As if the only Motive of the War had been, whether You, or Pompey, should have an arbitrary Power of oppressing Mankind; as if You had not restored the Commonwealth, but seized it as a Prey of your successful Arms; and as if the Flower of our Army, and the Choicest of our veteran Troops, took up Arms against Brethren and Parents, and some even against their own Off-spring, from this Motive only, that the most abandoned of Men might, from the Calamities of others, procure means to indulge their insatiable Appetites, or that their enormous Lives might reflect Dishonour on the worthy Men engaged in the same Cause, and so stain the Glory of their Conquests. I venture to speak thus, because I am persuaded you are no Stranger to the Conduct of every Individual amongst them; and how far they observed the Rules of Moderation, even when the Event of the War was yet uncertain; and how some of them gave such a Loose to Debauchery, and licentious Festivity, in the very Field of Battle, as Men of their Years could not have indulged themselves in, without a Blemish to their Reputation, even in a Time of Peace and Tranquillity.
I see no Occasion to say any more of the Disposition of Military Affairs.
As to the Establishing of Peace, since that is the great Point You and your Friends have in View; consider, in the first Place, I beseech you, the Nature of the Affair now under Deliberation: For thus, by distinctly separating the Arguments on both Sides, you will, of course, open a Way to right Measures. I own, when I reflect with myself, that whatever had a Beginning, has naturally a determined Period, I am persuaded, that whenever the fatal Destruction of Rome’s Empire approaches, it can only happen, when her Citizens are harrassed with intestine Wars: In that critical Juncture, when their Strength is enfeebled, and their Spirits exhausted, they will fall a Prey to some foreign Prince or State. But, were it possible to preserve Harmony amongst ourselves, the whole World, all the Nations of the Earth in Confederacy, would not be able to demolish or shake this mighty Empire. Therefore, to secure all the Advantages of Unanimity, and to remove and prevent all the Mischiefs of Divisions and Dissentions, is the great Point that requires your perpetual Attention. The best Way to effect this, is, to give a Check to the fashionable Vices of licentious Profuseness and Rapine; not by reinforcing those obsolete Laws, which the Depravity of the Times has rendered contemptible; but by obliging every Man to live within the Limits of his Fortune. For now a prevailing Custom has taught the Roman Youth, to look upon it as laudable and gallant Behaviour, to squander away, not only their own, but other Mens Fortunes; and to deny themselves, or their Dependents, no Sort of Gratification whatsoever. This they call Manly Conduct; this, true Greatness of Soul; whilst Modesty passes for Stupidity; and Moderation, as the Property of an abject inactive Spirit. Possessed with such Notions, when once engaged in a profligate Course, they run on with unbridled Fury; and no sooner do their old Supplies fail them, but they fall with impetuous Violence, sometimes upon our Allies, sometimes upon their Fellow-Citizens, disturb the Order and Tranquillity of Government, and, from the Ruins of the Old, would raise a new Constitution(a) .
Since, therefore, this is the present Situation of our Affairs, it seems to me absolutely necessary to crush the Power of the Usurers, that every Man may take upon him the Management of his own Affairs. To effect this, the only true and natural Method would be, to oblige the Magistrates, in their judicial Proceedings, to promote rather the Interest of the People in general, than to favour the narrow Interest of the Creditors, and to establish their Glory and Reputation upon their Endeavours to add Strength to the Commonwealth, and not on such Measures as tend to diminish it.
I am very sensible, what Disgust the first Advances in this Reformation will give, to those especially, who, after Victory, expected rather greater Latitude to their licentious Inclinations, than any stricter Discipline and Restraints. But if you regard more the true Interest, than the loose Desires of these Men, you will prevent their outrageous Intentions, and settle both Them, and Us, and all our Allies, in a firm State of Peace and Tranquillity. But, if the Youth are permitted to go on in their present Pursuits, then will Cæsar’s exalted Glory soon fall to the Ground; and Rome itself will fall with Cæsar. Give me leave to add, that it is with a View of procuring Peace, that Men of Sense and Understanding enter into War, and, under all the Toils and Hardships attending it, they are supported by the Prospect of future Tranquillity. If this great End be not effectually accomplished, what does it avail, whether you conquer, or are conquered?
Wherefore, in the Name of the immortal Gods, take upon you the Care and Protection of the Commonwealth, and bravely push through all Difficulties, with your wonted Vigour and Resolution: For either You, Cæsar; can heal the wounded State, or it will be in vain for any other to attempt the Cure. And what is that we now require at your Hands? You are not called to bloody Executions, to cruel and rigorous Proceedings; Methods which would sooner depopulate the State, than correct its Manners; but only to give a Check to the base Practices, and licentious Debauchery, of the Roman Youth. This, this only is the true Notion of Clemency; to prevent such Vices as deserve the Punishment of Expulsion; to put a Stop to extravagant Follies, and the Pursuits of false Pleasures; and to establish Union and Harmony in the State: Clemency it cannot be justly esteemed, to indulge the People in vile Courses, or to allow them the Gratification of a present Enjoyment, which is sure to be followed with future Misery.
I must confess here, I am sensible, that the Greatness of this important Undertaking raises Doubts and Fears in other Men; but, to me it gives the strongest Assurances of Success: For Matters of small Moment are below the Notice of so exalted a Genius. Great indeed is the Task, and great will be the Reward, if you accomplish it!
Now, one grand Point which demands your Attention, is, that the People, whose Minds are at present corrupted with Gifts of Corn, and other public Largesses, apply themselves to their respective Occupations: Such an Application would divert their Thoughts from giving any Disturbance to the Government: The Youth, also, should be taught to turn their Pursuits from riotous Expence, and the Thirst of Riches, to a Course of Industry, and the Study of Virtue. And this great End you will accomplish, by putting an effectual Stop to the Use which Men now make of Money, and stripping that fruitful Source of Evils, of the Esteem it has gained in the World. For, whenever I have examined by what Steps illustrious Heroes rose to the Height of Magnificence and Renown, by what Means any People inlarged their Conquests, and to what Causes the Ruin of mighty Kingdoms and States was to be ascribed; in either Case, I always discovered the same good or evil Cause, constantly producing the same good or evil Effect; and that the Successful were such as held Riches in Contempt, the Unsuccessful, such as coveted and admired them(a) . Nor, indeed, is there any possible Method to rise to Glory and immortal Fame, but by subduing the Thirst of Riches and sensual Pleasures, and giving a free Scope to the Exercise of the Mind; not fondly soothing and gratifying the Demands of unreasonable and corrupt Inclinations; but by inuring it to Labour and Patience, to wholsome Discipline, and valiant Exploits. A Man may raise a magnificent Palace in the Town, or Villa in the Country; he may furnish them with pompous Hangings and Statues, with other expensive Ornaments, and thus make every thing in them conspicuous, but himself; yet, from the Richness of such Decorations, he is so far from deriving any Honour or Glory, that he himself casts a Blemish upon their Lustre. And, as for such as are so abandoned, that they pass not a Day without twice overcharging their Stomachs, not a Night without dishonouring their Bed with polluted. Embraces; when once the Mind, designed by Nature to govern and controul, is thus become a Slave to degenerate Passions, in vain will they attempt to rouse her up to Exercise, when her Vigour is decayed, and her Faculties impaired. Men of this Character, having neither Spirit nor Abilities, must unavoidably confound and destroy themselves, and every Scheme they engage in. Now these, and all other Evils which afflict the State, together with the high Value and Esteem that is set upon Riches, would be effectually cured, if neither the Offices of Magistracy, nor any other things which are the Objects of Mens eager Pursuits, can hereafter be obtained by the Influence of Money. Proper Care should, at the same time, be taken, that Italy, and the Provinces, be put in a more secure Situation; an Affair which requires no great Penetration to accomplish: The same Remedy will answer, where the Evil is the same; for there too, as well as in the City, the public Ravagers have plundered and seized every thing they met with, forsaking their own Habitations, and, in Violation of all Justice and Equity, possessing those of other People. It is no less necessary to put a Stop to that unjustifiable Partiality, which has hitherto prevailed in our Army, where some of the People have been forced to bear the Fatigue of Warfare for Thirty Years, whilst others have been intirely excused from the Service. It is likewise my Opinion, that the Corn, which has hitherto been usually the Reward of the Worthless and Inactive, should be sent to our municipal Towns and Colonies, and there distributed to the Soldiers, when they return home, after their Discharge from the Service.
I have now, as briefly as the Case would admit, laid before you such Regulations, as appear to me, most conducive to the Good of the Commonwealth, as well as your own Reputation and Glory: And, I apprehend, it will not be improper for me, to add a Word or two in relation to this my Undertaking. There is scarce any Man, who does not believe himself furnished with all the Faculties, that make up a true and distinguishing Judgment; or, at least, endeavours to make the World believe so: But, certainly, all Men in general have so violent a Propensity to blast and condemn the Performances of others, that the Faculties of Speech are too flow, to utter the quick Suggestions of their Hearts. That I have laid myself open to such Men, is a Consideration, that does not, in the least, afflict me: Had I been silent on such an Occasion, I should have been less able to have borne the Reflection. For, whether you pursue the Methods I have pointed out, or others occur, which may be thought more adviseable, still I have the Pleasure of reflecting, that I have given the best Advice I was capable of, and contributed my utmost Assistance, towards the Regulation of the Commonwealth.
I have now nothing more to do, but to follow you with my earnest Wishes, that whatever Measures you pursue, may be attended with Approbation, and crowned with Success by the immortal Gods.
[(a) ]Res novas veteribus acquirit. See Cat. Conspiracy. Vetera odere, nova exoptant. To which the Author seems here to allude. But if res novas be not here applicable to the State, then it may be translated thus, And by any means, whatsoever, would raise a new Fortune to repair the Ruins of the old one.
[(a) ]Or, That the Conquerors were Men who held Riches in Contempt; the Conquered, eager Lovers of them.