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THE PREFACE - Robert Molesworth, An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor 
An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor, Edited and with an Introduction by Justin Champion (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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Health and Liberty are without dispute the greatest natural Blessings Mankind is capable of enjoying; I say natural, because the contrary states are purely accidental, and arise from Nature debauched, depraved or enforced. Yet these Blessings are seldom sufficiently valued whilst enjoy’d; like the daily advantages of the Sun and Air, they seem scarce regarded because so common, by those that are in possession of them.
But as an Italian that passes a Winter in Groenland, will soon be convinc’d through his want of the kind Influences of that glorious Planet, how much Misery he endures, in comparison of those who dwell in his Native Country, so he that knows by Experience the trouble of a languishing Sickness, or the loss of his Liberty, will presently begin to have a right esteem of that which formerly he scarce thought worth his notice.
This Experience is either what a Man learns by that which befalls himself, or by making Observations on the condition of other People. The first is the common guide to the generality of Mankind, who are not apt to look beyond themselves, unless with St. Thomas they feel as well as see, they will not believe. Thus in the instance of bodily Health, we find those that have been always accustom’d to it, have scarce any Notion of the Misery of the contrary state, and therefore are careless in shunning those Excesses which might bring Diseases upon them; the sad Examples seen every day of miserable sick Debauchées, being not sufficient to deter others from lewdness. But the second sort of Experience is the Instructress of wise Men: For the Prudent will not fail to benefit themselves by the Accidents that befall others, both in their Health and Liberty, by avoiding the occasions of them: And this is one of the great Advantages of Society, that not only the Assistance, but even the Misfortunes of others, may be of use to us.
Want of Liberty is a Disease in any Society or Body Politick, like want of Health in a particular Person; and as the best way to understand the nature of any Distemper aright, is to consider it in several Patients, since the same Disease may proceed from different causes, so the disorders in Society are best perceived by observing the Nature and Effects of them in our several Neighbours: Wherefore Travel seems as necessary to one who desires to be useful to his Country, as practising upon other Mens Distempers is to make an able Physician. For although a Man may see too frequently the Misery of such as are depriv’d of Health without quitting his own Country, yet (thanks to Providence) he must go out of these Kingdoms who would know experimentally the want of Publick Liberty. He that Travels into a Climate infected with this Disease (and he can find few that are not) does not only see, but in some measure feel the Grievances occasioned by it in the several Inconveniencies of living, in some proportion with the Natives; so as to relish better upon his return (which we suppose depends upon his choice) the freedom and ease of his own home Constitution; and may make good use of this Experience without having paid too dear for it. But a Man cannot transmigrate himself for a while into a distemper’d Body as he may Travel into an Enslaved Country, with equal facility of getting rid of each of them again.
Thus ’tis a great, yet rare advantage to learn rightly how to prize Health without the expense of being Sick, but one may easily and cheaply grow sensible of the true value of Liberty by Travelling into such Countries for a Season as do not enjoy it.
And this can be done by no Nation in the World so commodiously as the English: The affluence of their Fortunes and Easiness in their private Affairs are evidently greater than those of other People of Europe; so that generally speaking, none are in a condition to spend more freely, or may propose to reap greater benefit by Travel, and yet none have practised it less.
In other Countries some Princes and Men of the first quality may have Purses strong enough to bear the expense, but few of the middling sort venture upon it; and those are commonly either Military Men, who have other designs in view than the knowledge of the World; or the Unfortunate, who chuse it as a diversion or a refuge, and who have their Heads too full of their own Miseries, to be at leisure to make their Observations on others. And besides, we often see the like Arbitrary Practices at home (they having been always train’d up in Servitude) do so far vitiate their Reason, as to put them out of a capacity of judging aright; for ’tis not only possible, but very usual, that People may be so season’d to and hardened in Slavery, as not only to have lost the very Taste of Liberty, but even to love the contrary State: as Men over-run with the Spleen take pleasure in their Distemper.
But in England there are very many Gentlemen, whose Estates will afford them either to travel in Person, or to send abroad such of their Sons for four or five Years as have the most solid Judgments, in which time they may acquire such Manners, and make such Observations as shall render them useful to their Country; and thereby advance their private Fortunes, more than what is saved by keeping them at home would amount to.
The Method which has been generally follow’d by us in sending young Gentlemen to Travel can hardly answer any of these ends: on the contrary it has hitherto been so mischievous, that ’tis well travelling has been so little in fashion. We send them abroad Children, and bring them home great Boys, and the returns they make for the Expenses laid out by their Parents, are suitable to their Age. That of the Languages is the very best, but the most common is an affected Foppishness, or a filthy Disease, for which they sometimes exchange their Religion: Besides, the Pageantry, Luxury, and Licentiousness of the more Arbitrary Courts have bribed them into an Opinion of that very Form of Government: Like Idiots, who part with their Bread for a glittering piece of Tinsel, they prefer gilded Slavery to coarse domestick Liberty, and exclaim against their old fashion’d Country-men, who will not reform their Constitution according to the new foreign Mode. But the Travelling recommended here is that of Men, who set out so well stock’d with the Knowledge of their own Country, as to be able to compare it with others, whereby they may both supply it where they find it wanting, and set a true value on it where it excels. With this help such Travellers could not fail of becoming serviceable to the Publick, in contributing daily towards the bettering of our Constitution, though without doubt it be already one of the best in the World.
For it were as fond to imagine we need not go abroad, and learn of others, because we have perhaps better Laws and Customs already than Foreigners, as it were not to Trade abroad, because we dwell in one of the plentifullest Parts of the World. But as our Merchants bring every day from barren Countries many useful things, which our own good one does not produce; so if the same care were taken to supply us with exact Accounts of the Constitutions, Manners, and Condition of other Nations, we might without doubt find out many things for our purpose, which now our mere Ignorance keeps us from being sensible that we want. The Athenians, Spartans, and Romans did not think themselves too wise to follow this Method, they were at great Expense to procure the Laws of other Nations, thereby to improve their own: and we know they throve by it, since few Governments are so ill constituted, as not to have some good Customs. We find admirable Regulations in Denmark, and we read of others among the Savage Americans fit to serve for Models to the most civilized Europeans.
But although the Constitution of our Government were too perfect already to receive any Improvement, yet the best Methods conducing to the peaceable Conservation of its present Form, are well worth every Englishman’s enquiry; neither are these so easily to be found in this Age, which were judged so difficult, (if not altogether impracticable) by the greatest of Politicians in his time.3 ’Tis true, the Wisdom of our Ancestors, or their good Fortune, has hitherto made these our Kingdoms an Exception to his general Maxim; yet we all know how many grievous Tempests (which as often threatened Shipwrack) this Vessel of our Commonwealth has undergone. The perpetual Contests between the Kings and the People (whilst those endeavour’d to acquire a greater Power than was legally due, and these to preserve or recover their just Liberties) have been the contending Billows that have kept it afloat; so that all we pretended to by the late Revolution (bought with so great Expense, yet not too dearly paid for) was to be as we were, and that every one should have his own again; the effecting of which may be called a piece of good Luck, and that’s the best can be said of it. But must frequent Blood-lettings be indispensibly necessary to preserve our Constitution? Is it not possible for us to render vain and untrue that Sarcasm of Foreigners, who object to us that our English Kings have either too little Power, or too much, and that therefore we must expect no settled or lasting Peace? Shall we for ever retain the ill Character they give us of the most mutable and inconstant Nation of the World? Which however we do not deserve, no more than England does that of Regnum Diabolorum,4 so common in unconsidering Foreigners Mouths? Methinks a Method to preserve our Commonwealth in its legal State of Freedom, without the necessity of a Civil War once or twice every Age, were a benefit worth searching for, though we went to the furthest Corners of the World in quest of it.
Besides the Knowledge of the present State of our Neighbour Nations (which is best acquired by Travel) is more incumbent on the Gentlemen of England than any others; since they make so considerable a part of our Government in Parliament, where foreign Business comes frequently under Consideration, and at present more than ever.
’Tis none of the smallest Advantages which his Majesty has procured us by his accession to the Crown, that we make a greater Figure in the World than formerly; we have more foreign Alliances, are become the Head of more than a Protestant League, and have a right to intermeddle in the Affairs of Europe, beyond what we ever pretended to in any of the preceding Reigns: For ’tis a true, though but a Melancholy Reflexion, that our late Kings half undid us, and bred us up as narrow spirited as they could, made us consider our selves as proscribed from the World; in every sense toto divisos orbe Britannos.5 And indeed they had withdrawn us from the World so long till the World had almost overlooked us; we seldom were permitted to cast an Eye farther than France or Holland, and then too we were carefully watched: But at present Matters are otherwise; we have a Prince that has raised us to our natural Station, the Eyes of most parts of the World are now upon us, and take their Measures from our Councels: We find every day occasion to inform our selves of the Strength and Interests of the several Princes of Europe. And perhaps one great reason why we live up no better to the mighty Post we are advanced to, nor maintain our Character in it with great Reputation, is because our Education has been below it, and we have been too much lock’d up at home, when we should have been acquainting our selves with the Affairs of the World abroad.
We have lately bought the Experience of this Truth too dear, not to be now sensible of it. ’Tis not very long ago since nothing was more generally believed (even by Men of the best sense) than that the Power of England was so unquestionably establish’d at Sea, that no Force could possibly shake it, that the English Valour and Manner of Fighting was so far beyond all others, that nothing was more desirable than a French War. Should any one have been so regardless of his Reputation, as at that time to have represented the French an overmatch for the united Forces of England and Holland; or have said that we should live to see our selves insulted on our own Coasts, and our Trade indanger’d by them, that we should be in Apprehensions every Year of an Invasion and a French Conquest; such a venturesome Man must have expected to have pass’d for a very Traveller, or at best for an ill-natur’d or unthinking Person, who little consider’d what the irresistible Force of an English Arm was; But our late Experience has reclaim’d us from these Mistakes; our Fathers and Grandfathers told us indeed these things when they were true, when our Yeomanry and Commonalty were every day exercised in drawing the Longbow and handling the Brown-bill, with other Weapons then in use, wherein we excell’d all the World; but we have liv’d upon the Credit of those Times too long, and superciliously neglected our formidable Neighbour and Enemy, whilst he was improving his Strength, and we through the Encouragement, and by design of our late Rulers were enervating our own.
The Ecclesiasticks of most Religions, who are allow’d to understand and prosecute their own Interests best of any People, though they be generally Persons whose Function obliges them to a sedentary and studious Course of Life, have not omitted to draw such Advantages from Travel as conduce to their Honour and Profit. These Men, whose conversing with Books makes them know more than others, have yet found their Account in sending some of the most judicious of their Members and Fraternities to fetch home Knowledge and Experience from the remotest parts of the World. The College De propaganda fide was establish’d under pretence indeed of serving Religion, but we know the Founders of it are no farther slaves to Religion than ’twill be serviceable to them, neither was it so much through zeal for Conversions, as to increase their Revenues, and learn Foreign Policies in Church and State Affairs. The Jesuits have brought several Maxims, as well as Sums, from as far off as China and Japan, thereby improving their Knowledge, so as to outwit their Friends at home, and by following their Example in this, I am sure we can run no hazard, at least of passing for Fools. These Men (whose firm adherence to the most exquisite Tyranny is manifest by their indefatigable endeavours in behalf of the French King’s Interests, as formerly of the House of Austria’s, whilst it was in its height) have by these Arts ingrossed to themselves the Education of the Youth in all Popish Countries. The Lutheran Priests (who have an entire dependence on their Kings and Princes) are intrusted with the like in those Countries which observe the Confession of Augsburg. They also send abroad some of their hopefullest young Students, several of which may be met with at Oxford, Cambridge, and Paris: The use they make of Travel being not only to improve their Knowledge in Sciences, but to learn fit Methods to please their Sovereigns at the expense of the People’s Liberties. Now in former Ages, whilst the Ecclesiasticks were both ignorant and scandalously wicked, they were not esteemed by the Laity, and consequently had not so much power to do mischief: But since that through a Reformation of Manners, and Knowledge of the World, they have recover’d credit, and that the restored Learning of Europe is principally lodg’d among them, they have gained a much greater influence both on the Opinions and Practices of their Disciples, and promoted a pernicious Doctrine with all the success they themselves could desire. But the same Travel will afford the best Antidote for this Poison, and teach a Gentleman, who makes right use of it, by what steps Slavery has within these last 200 Years crept upon Europe, most of the Protestant, as well as Popish Countries having in a manner quite lost the precious Jewel, Liberty. This cannot be attributed to any more probable cause than the enslaving the Spirits of the People, as a preparative to that of their Bodies; for since those Foreign Princes think it their Interest that Subjects should obey without Reserve, and all Priests, who depend upon the Prince, are for their own sakes obliged to promote what he esteems his Interest; ’tis plain, the Education of Youth, on which is laid the very Foundation Stones of the publick Liberty, has been of late years committed to the sole management of such as make it their business to undermine it; and must needs do so, unless they will be false to their Fortunes, and make the Character of Priest give place to that of true Patriot.
’Tis confest that in their Schools and Universities, excellent Rules for attaining Languages and Sciences are made use of with greater success than any heretofore: Those Youths especially, who have been bred among the Jesuits, are justly remarked to excel others of equal Parts instructed elsewhere: But still this is only a training up in the knowledge of Words and Languages, whereof there is seldom any occasion, as if the Pupils were intended to be made School-masters; whilst the weightier Matters of true Learning, whereof one has occasion every hour; such as good Principles, Morals, the improvement of Reason, the love of Justice, the value of Liberty, the duty owing to one’s Country and the Laws, are either quite omitted, or slightly passed over. Indeed they forget not to recommend frequently to them what they call the Queen of all Virtues, viz. Submission to Superiors, and an entire blind Obedience to Authority, without instructing them in the due measures of it, rather teaching them that ’tis without all bounds: Thus the Spirits of Men are from the beginning inured to Subjection, and deprived of the right Notion of a generous and legal Freedom, which few among them (so hardly are the prejudices of Education shaken off) grow sensible of, till they become of some Age and Maturity, or have unlearn’d by good Company and Travel those dangerous passive Doctrines they suck’d in at the Schools and Universities. But most have the Misfortune to carry these slavish Opinions with them to their Graves.
Had these Countries, whilst they were free, committed the Government of their Youth to Philosophers instead of Priests, they had in all probability preserv’d themselves from the Yoak of Bondage to this day, whereas now they not only endure it, but approve of it likewise: tantum relligio potuit.6
The Greeks and Romans instituted their Academies to quite another purpose, the whole Education of their Youth tended to make them as useful to the Society they lived in as possible. There they were train’d up to Exercise and Labour, to accustom them to an active Life: No Vice was more infamous than Sloth, nor any Man more contemptible than him that was too lazy to do all the Good he could; the Lectures of their Philosophers served to quicken them up to this. They recommended above all things the Duty to their Country, the preservation of the Laws and the publick Liberty; subservient to which they preach’d up Moral Virtues, such as Fortitude, Temperance, Justice, a contempt of Death, etc. Sometimes they made use of pious Cheats, as Elysian Fields, and an Assurance of Future Happiness, if they died in the Cause of their Country; and even deceived their Hearers into Greatness: Hence proceeded all those Noble Characters wherewith their Histories are so stock’d: Hence it was that their Philosophers were deservedly look’d upon as Supports of the State, they had their dependence wholly upon it; and as they could have no Interest distinct from it, they laid out themselves towards the advancing and promoting the good of it, insomuch that we find the very good Fortune of their Commonwealths often lasted no longer than they did. The managers of our modern Education have not been quite so publick Spirited, for it has been, as I have shewn, for the most part in the hands of Men who have a distinct Interest from the publick; therefore ’tis not to be wondered at, if like the rest of the World, they have been byassed by it, and directed their principal Designs towards the advancing their own Fortunes.
Good Learning as well as Travel is a great Antidote against the Plague of Tyranny. The Books that are left us of the Ancients (from whence, as from Fountains, we draw all that we are now Masters of) are full of Doctrines, Sentences, and Examples exhorting to the Conservation or Recovery of the publick Liberty, which was once valued above Life. The Heroes there celebrated are for the most part such as had destroyed or expelled Tyrants; and though Brutus be generally declaimed against by modern School-boys, he was then esteemed the true Pattern and Model of exact Virtue. Such was Cato of Utica, with others of like stamp. The more any person is conversant with good Books, the more shall he find the practices of these Great Men in this particular founded upon Reason, Justice, and Truth; and unanimously approv’d of by most of the succeeding Wise-men which the World has produc’d.
But instead of Books which inform the Judgment, those are commonly read in the Schools abroad, wherein an Elegancy of Latin and Greek Style is more sought after than the matter contained in them: So that such as treat a little boldly of publick Liberty occur to the reading of few, and those grown Men, rather through Chance or their Curiosity, than the recommendation of their Instructors.
’Twas not to learn Foreign Languages that the Graecian and Roman Youths went for so long together to the Academies and Lectures of their Philosophers. ’Twas not then, as now with us, when the Character of a Scholar is to be Skilled in Words; when one who is well versed in the dark Terms and Subtilties of the Schools passes for a profound Philosopher, by which we seem so far to have perverted the Notion of Learning, that a Man may be reputed a most extraordinary Scholar, and at the same time be the most useless Thing in the World; much less was it to learn their own Mother Tongues, the Greek and Latin, which we hunt after so eagerly for many Years together, (not as being the Vehicles of good Sense, but as if they had some intrinsick Virtue). ’Twas to learn how and when to speak pertinently, how to act like a Man to subdue the Passions, to be publick Spirited, to despise Death, Torments, and Reproach, Riches and the Smiles of Princes, as well as their Frowns, if they stood between them and their Duty. This manner of Education produced Men of another stamp than appears now upon the Theatre of the World; such as we are scarce worthy to mention, and must never hope to imitate, till the like manner of Institution grows again into Reputation; which in Enslaved Countries ’tis never likely to do, as long as the Ecclesiasticks, who have an opposite Interest, keep not only the Education of Youth, but the Consciences of old Men in their Hands.
To serve by-ends, and because Priests thought they should find their own account in it, they calculated those unintelligible Doctrines of Passive Obedience and Jus Divinum; that the People ought to pay an absolute Obedience to a limited Government; fall down and worship the work of their own Hands, as if it dropt from Heaven; together with other as profitable Doctrines, which no doubt many are by this time ashamed of, tho’ they think it below them to condescend so far as to confess themselves to have been in the wrong. For this Notion of Jus Divinum of Kings and Princes was never known in these Northern Parts of the World till these latter Ages of Slavery: Even in the Eastern Countries, though they adore their Kings as Gods, yet they never fancied they received their Right to Reign immediately from Heaven. The single Example in Scripture so much insisted on, viz. the Reign of Saul over the Jews, and Samuel’s Description of what a King would be, not what he lawfully might be; proves either nothing at all, or the contrary to what some would have it; for besides that there are many Relations of Fact in the Old Testament, not condemned there, which it would not be only inconvenient, but sinful for us to imitate: Whoever peruses the whole Story of Saul and his Successor, will therein find more substantial Arguments against the Jus Divinum and Non Resistance, than for it: But we shall leave this, both as being too large an Argument for the compass of a Preface, and as being already fully handled by more able Pens.
All Europe was in a manner a free Country till very lately insomuch that the Europeans were, and still are, distinguish’d in the Eastern Parts of the World by the name of Franks. In the beginning small Territories, or Congregations of People, chose valiant and wise Men to be their Captains or Judges, and as often Deposed them upon Mis-management. These Captains (doing their Duty well and faithfully) were the Originals of all our Kings and Princes, which at first, and for a long time were every where Elective. According to their own Warlike Temper, or that of the People which they govern’d, they (upon the Score of Revenge, Ambition, or being over-thronged with Multitudes at home) encroached upon their Neighbours; till from petty Principalities their Countries waxed to mighty Kingdoms. Spain alone consisting of twelve or thirteen till t’other day, and one part of our Island of no less than seven: Each of these was at first made through an Union of many petty Lordships. Italy from several small Commonwealths was at length swallowed up by the Emperors, Popes, Kings of Spain, Dukes of Florence, and other lesser Tyrants. Yet ’tis to be remark’d that the ancient State of Europe is best preserved in Italy even to this day, notwithstanding the Encroachments which have been there made on the People’s Liberties; of which one Reason may be, that the Republicks, which are more in number and quality in that Spot of Ground than in all Europe besides, keep their Ecclesiasticks within their due bounds, and make use of that natural Wit which Providence and a happy Climate has given them, to curb those, who if they had Power would curb all the World.
Every one ought to know how great the Rights of the People were very lately in the Elective Kingdoms of Sweden and Denmark; how Germany was freer than any other part of Europe, till at length ’twas Lorded by Captains, who (in process of time grew Princes and Electors) and by Bishops with Temporal Authority, who may thank Charles the Great (a very bigotted Prince) for their double Sword of Flesh and Spirit.
If it be objected, that Princes have acquired a Right to be absolute and arbitrary where the Subjects have given up their Liberties, there are some in the World who venture to answer, That no People in their right Wits, (that is) not guided by Fear or Tumult, can be supposed to confer an absolute Dominion, or to give away the Freedom of themselves and their Posterity for all Generations; that such a Donation ought to be esteemed of no greater validity than the Gift of an Estate by a Child or a Madman from his lawful Successor; that the People can no more part with their legal Liberties, than Kings can alienate their Crowns: That nothing which even the Representative Body of the People does, which shall afterwards tend to the detriment of the Universality can then be obligatory, because many things good and profitable at the time of making those Laws may be the quite contrary afterwards, and as soon as any Law grows apparently mischievous to the whole Body that made it, or their Successors, it ought by them to be repealed, and would certainly be so in Countries where frequent free Assemblies of the States are in use. That if these Assemblies be hindered, or corrupted by sinister Practices, the obliging quality of such a Law determines of it self through its own nature, it being supposed that the true Representatives of the People would have annull’d it, had they been permitted to meet and act freely: That the Acts of one general Parliament, though a free one, are not perpetually obliging, since that as well as particular Persons is liable to mistakes; but the Acts of an eternal Succession of Parliaments, who make, confirm, change, or repeal Laws at their pleasure.
These are hard Sayings in the Opinion of many; but thus much we are sure of, whoever goes about to destroy or diminish the Right of the People in the disposal of the Crown, at the same time subverts their Majesty’s Title to it. ’Tis therefore seasonable now or never to assert both; notwithstanding the prevarication of those who dare act under and receive benefit by this Revolution which they contributed nothing to, but which the People through God’s Assistance procured for themselves; yet will not dive into the Merits of the Cause, nor own the Lawfulness of the Fact; but either cautiously avoid the Argument, or if it comes cross their way, mumble it as tenderly as the Ass did the Thistle, which caused the Philosopher to laugh, who never did it in his Life but that once; so this manner of Behaviour would move both the Laughter and Indignation of all understanding Persons, Lovers of their Countries legal Liberties, for none are forced to fall under greater Absurdities, or to make more terrible Blunders in Divinity, Politicks, and good Sense, than such as would fain reconcile present Interest to their old beloved Maxims: res est ridicula & nimis jocosa.7 But Heaven be praised, the Nation is almost freed from the gross Error of that slavish Doctrine, in spite of the Endeavours of such as would keep it alive, like hot Embers cover’d over with Ashes, ready to be blown up again into a flame upon the first occasion.
In Russia and Muscovy the Government is as Tyrannical as in any of the more Eastern Monarchies. The Priests there have very much contributed both to make and keep it so. To the end that the People may be kept in the requisite Temper of Obedience, none are permitted to Travel upon pain of Death, except such as have special License, which are exceeding few; neither are any Gentlemen of those Countries to be met with abroad, but publick Ministers and their Retinue: The Cause of this severe Prohibition is, lest such Travellers should see the Liberty of other Nations, and be tempted to covet the like for themselves at home, which might occasion Innovations in the State. The same reason which induces Tyrants to prohibit Travelling, should encourage the People of free Countries to practice it, in order to learn the Methods of preserving that which once lost is very difficultly recover’d; for Tyranny usually steals upon a State by degrees, and is (as a wise Man said) like a hectick Fever, which at first is easie to be cured, but hardly can be known; after ’tis thoroughly known it becomes almost incurable. Now travel best of all other Methods discovers (at least expense) the Symptoms of this pernicious Disease, as well as its dismal Effects when grown to a head; and ’tis certainly of greater Importance to understand how to preserve a sound Constitution, than how to repair a crazed one, though this also be a beneficial piece of Knowledge.
In our own Universities, which are without controversy the best in the World, whether we consider their Revenues, their Buildings, or their Learning, there are travelling Fellowships establish’d; which in a Country where the Clergy’s Interest is not distinct from that of the Laity, is so far from being prejudicial to the legal Liberties of the People, that it tends to the Conservation of them; for such worthy Men as are employ’d abroad, may bring home generous Notions of Liberty, and make admirable Remarks on the contrary State; which being inculcated from the Pulpit, and enforced by the learned Arguments of able Divines, must needs overthrow those servile Opinions, which of late have been too much back’d by God’s Authority, almost to the ruin of a Free People.
I do not hereby mean to reflect on the Order which generally has the government of our Youth; we have had the Experience of many among them who have given proof of a freer Education and useful Learning: And without question the chief Posts of the Gown of both kinds were never better fill’d than at present. I only lament the ill Contrivance of their Constitution, for while Interest draws one way, and Honesty another, when a Man may make his Fortune by forgetting his Duty to his Country, but shall always stick at Mark while he serves it; ’tis scarcely to be hoped Men should hold out against such Temptations, unless they be more gifted with Honesty than the generality of Mankind are. And since they continue still upon the same bottom, it must be expected the same, or other as mischievous Doctrines will every day be broach’d: whereas if they were once set upon the same foot the Philosophers of old were, if Honesty and the Duty to their Country were made their private Interest, and the way to thrive; we should soon see them shift hands, and the Spirit of those Philosophers revive again in them.
The Constitution of our Universities, as to Learning, seems as unfortunately regulated as it is to Politicks. We receive the directions of our Studies there, from Statutes made by those who understood nothing of the Matter, who had a quite different Notion and Taste of Learning from what the World has at present: It seems as ridiculous to take Patterns for the gentile Learning of this Age from the old fashion’d Learning of the Times wherein the University Statutes were compiled, as it would be for one who would appear well dress’d at Court, to make his Cloaths after the Mode in Henry the VIII’s day: But ’tis of infinitely worse consequence; for the Prejudices and wrong Notions, the stiffness and positiveness in Opinion, the litigiousness and wrangling, all which the old Philosophy breeds, besides the narrow Spiritedness, and not enduring of Contradiction, which are generally contracted by a Monastick Life, require a great deal of time to get rid of, and until they be filed off by Conversation in the World abroad, a Man’s Learning does but render him more useless and unfit for Society.
I dare appeal to common Experience, whether those excellent Men that of late Years have been preferred in our Church (than which Set of Divines England scarce ever knew a better) be not for the most part such as have been very conversant with the World; and if they have not all travell’d out of this Kingdom, have at least spent the best part of their days in this Epitome of the World, the City of London, where they have learnt Christian Liberty as well as other Christian Virtues. The great difference between these and others of narrow Opiniastre Tempers caus’d by their Monk-like Education is discernable by every Body, and puts it out of all doubt, that such who have seen most, of what Profession soever they be, prove the most honest and virtuous Men, and fittest for Humane Society: these embrace better Notions relating to the Publick, weigh Opinions before they adhere to them, have a larger Stock of Charity, a clearer Manner of distinguishing between Just and Unjust, understand better the Laws of our own Land, as well as the Privileges and Frailties of Human Nature; And all this in a degree far excelling the most zealous learned religious Person who has been brought up in his Cell, and is therefore what we call a Bigot, stiff in an Opinion, merely because he has been used to it, and is ashamed to be thought capable of being deceived.
Lawyers, whose manner of Breeding is much abroad in the World, and who are used to promiscuous Conversation, have been observed in most places to be great Favourers of Liberty, because their knowledge of ancient Practice, and the just Title which the People have to their Privileges (which they meet with every where in their course of Reading) makes them less scrupulous of committing what some Divines miscall a Sin in those that endeavour to preserve or recover them; the Oversights of some few Gentlemen of this honourable Profession are therefore the less excusable; for I must confess, among other things, that Motto, A Deo Rex, à Rege Lex,8 wherein the Divine Right of the impious Will of a Tyrant is as strongly asserted as could be in the compass of a Ring, has occasioned frequent Reflections, not much in favour of those that made use of it.
Thus I have touch’d upon the Manner of Education necessary to the beginning and finishing a Gentleman, who is to be useful to his Country, which I suppose ought to be the principal end of it. And I can’t but believe, if in our Schools our Youth were bred up to understand the Meaning of the Authors they are made to read, as well as the Syntax of the Words. If there were as much care taken to inculcate the good Maxims, and recommend the noble Characters the old Historians are so full of, as there is to hammer into their Heads the true Grammar of them, and the fineness of the Phrase: If in our Universities a proportionable Care were taken to furnish them with noble and generous Learning: If after this they were duly informed in the Laws and Affairs of their own Country, trained up in good Conversation and useful Knowledge at home, and then sent abroad when their Heads began to be well settled, when the heat of Youth was worn off, and their Judgments ripe enough to make Observation: I say, I cannot but believe that with this manner of Institution a very moderate Understanding might do wonders, and the coming home fully instructed in the Constitutions of other Governments, would make a Man but the more resolute to maintain his own.
For the advantage of a free Government above its contrary needs no other help to make it appear, than only to be exposed to a considerate View with it: The difference may be seen written in the very Faces of the several People, as well as in their manner of Living; and when we find nothing but Misery in the fruitfullest Countries subject to Arbitrary Power, but always a Face of plenty and Chearfulness in Countries naturally unfruitful, which have preserv’d their Liberties, there is no further room left for Argument, and one cannot be long in determining which is most eligible. This Observation is so obvious that ’tis hard for any that Travels not to make it; therefore ’tis a sufficient reason why all our Gentry should go abroad. An English Man should be shewn the Misery of the enslaved Parts of the World, to make him in Love with the Happiness of his own Country; as the Spartans exposed their drunken Servants to their Children, to make them in love with Sobriety.
But the more polish’d and delicious Countries of France, Spain, or Italy, are not the places where this Observation may be made to greatest advantage; the Manner of Living, Goodness of the Air and Diet, the Magnificence of the Buildings, Pleasantness of the Gardens, pompous Equipage of some great Persons, dazzle the Eyes of most Travellers, and cast a disguise upon the Slavery of those Parts; and as they render this Evil more supportable to the Natives, so they almost quite hide it from the view of a Cursory Traveller, amusing him too much from considering the Calamities which accompany so much Splendour, and so many Natural Blessings: or from reflecting how much more happy the Condition of the People would be with better usage. But in the Northern Kingdoms and Provinces there appears little or nothing to divert the Mind from contemplating Slavery in its own Colours, without any of its Ornaments. And since, for that reason, few of our Gentlemen find temptation enough to Travel into those Parts, and we have hardly any tolerable Relation of them extant, though we have frequent occasions of being concerned with them, I thought it might be of use to publish the following Account of Denmark, which I took care to be informed of upon the place with the greatest Exactness possible, and have related fairly and impartially, which may save the Curious the labour and expense of that Voyage.
That Kingdom has often had the Misfortune to be govern’d by French Counsels. At the time when Mr. Algernon Sydney was Ambassador at that Court, Monsieur Terlon, the French Ambassador, had the Confidence to tear out of the Book of Motto’s in the King’s Library, this Verse, which Mr. Sydney (according to the liberty allowed to all noble Strangers) had written in it: manus haec inimica tyrannis Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem.9 Though Monsieur Terlon understood not a word of Latin, he was told by others the Meaning of that Sentence, which he considered as a Libel upon the French Government, and upon such as was then a setting up in Denmark by French Assistance, or Example.
To conclude; A considering English Traveller will find by experience, that at present nothing is so generally studied by the Sovereign Princes of the World, as the Arts of War, and the keeping of their own Countries in the desired Subjection. The Arts of Peace, whereby the Encrease and Prosperity of their Subjects might be promoted, being either intirely neglected or faintly prosecuted; he will further be convinced what great reason he has to bless Providence for his being born, and continuing yet a Freeman: He will find that the securing this inestimable Blessing to himself, and transmitting it to late Posterity, is a Duty he owes to his Country; the right performance of which does in a great measure depend upon a good Education of our Youth, and the Preservation of our Constitution upon its true and natural Basis, The Original Contract. All other Foundations being false, nonsensical, and rotten; derogatory to the present Government, and absolutely destructive to the legal Liberties of the English Nation. Salus populi suprema lex esto.10
[3. ]There is a marginal note here from Tacitus, Annals, bk. 4, chap. 33 (Loeb 4:57): “Cunctas Nationes & Urbes populus aut primores aut singuli regunt; delecta ex his, & constituta Reipublicae forma, laudari, facilus quam evenire, vel si evenit haud diuturna esse potest.” Translation: “The people, or chiefs, or individuals, govern all nations and cities; and the constituted form of a commonwealth chosen from them is more easily praised than practiced; or if it be so (constituted) it cannot long exist.”
[4. ]“Kingdom of devils.”
[5. ]From Virgil, Eclogues, 1.67: “to the Britons, cut off from the whole world.”
[6. ]A fragment of Lucretius [de rerum natura, 1. 101] commonly cited by Montaigne, translated as “so great are the evils Religion has encouraged.” Sometimes religio is translated as “superstition.” The 1738 edition includes an exclamation mark.
[7. ]Catullus, The Carmina of Caius Valerius Catullus 56, “To Cato.” The phrase translates as “the thing is ridiculous, and laughable beyond measure.”
[8. ]A favorite motto of James I: “The King is from God, the law from the King.” See E. Kantarowitz, The King’s Two Bodies (Princeton, 1957), p. 415. The 1738 edition has a margin note that reads, “In January 1683, 35 Car. II there was a call of sixteen sargeants at law, who gave rings with this motto.”
[9. ]“This hand an enemy to tyrants seeks with the sword calm peace in freedom.” This became the motto of the state of Massachusetts.
[10. ]“The safety of the people is the supreme law.”