Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER IV. - The Works of Vicesimus Knox, vol. 5
LETTER IV. - Vicesimus Knox, The Works of Vicesimus Knox, vol. 5 
The Works of Vicesimus Knox, D.D. with a Biographical Preface. In Seven Volumes (London: J. Mawman, 1824). Vol. 5.
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- To the Right Honourable Charles James Fox.
- Personal Nobility Or , Letters to a Young Noble Man
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- The Spirit of Despotism.
- Section I.: Introductory.
- Section II. Oriental Manners, and the Ideas Imbibed In Youth, Both In the West and East Indies, Favourable to the Spirit of Despotism.
- Section III. Certain Circumstances In Education Which Promote the Spirit of Despotism.
- Section IV. Corruption of Manners Has a Natural Tendency to Promote the Spirit of Despotism.
- Section V. An Abhorrence of Despotism and an Ardent Love of Liberty Perfectly Consistent With Order and Tranquillity; and the Natural Consequence of Well-informed Understandings and Benevolent Dispositions.
- Section VI. On the Venality of the Press Under the Influence of the Despotic Spirit, and Its Effects In Diffusing That Spirit.
- Section VII. The Fashionable Invectives Against Philosophy and Reason, a Proof of the Spirit of Despotism.
- Section VIII. Of Loyalty, and Certain Mistaken Ideas of It.
- Section IX. On Taking Advantage of Popular Commotions, Accidental Excesses, and Foreign Revolutions, to Extend Prerogative and Power, and Encroach On the Liberties of the People.
- Section X. When Human Life Is Held Cheap, It Is a Symptom of a Prevailing Spirit of Despotism.
- Section XI. Indifference of the Middle and Lower Classes of the People to Public Affairs, Highly Favourable to the Encroachments of the Tory Principle, and Therefore to the Spirit of Despotism.
- Section XII. The Despotic Spirit Is Inclined to Discourage Commerce, As Unfavourable to Its Purposes.
- Section XIII. The Spirit of Despotism Displaying Itself In Private Life, and Proceeding Thence to Avail Itself of the Church and the Military.
- Section XIV. The Despotic Spirit Inclined to Avail Itself of Spies, Informers, False Witnesses, Pretended Conspiracies, and Self-interested Associations Affecting Patriotism.
- Section XV. The Manners of Tory Courtiers, and of Those Who Ape Them, As People of Fashion, Inconsistent With Manliness, Truth, and Honesty; and Their Prevalence Injurious to a Free Constitution, and the Happiness of Human Nature.
- Section XVI. The Spirit of Truth, Liberty, and Virtue, Public As Well As Private, Chiefly to Be Found In the Middle Ranks of the People.
- Section XVII. On Debauching the Minds of the Rising Generation and a Whole People, By Giving Them Military Notions In a Frée and Commercial Country.
- Section XVII. Levity, Effeminacy, Ignorance, and Want of Principle In Private Life, Inimical to All Public Virtue, and Favourable to the Spirit of Despotism.
- Section XIX. Certain Passages In Dr. Brown’s “estimate” Which Deserve the Serious Consideration of All Who Would Oppose the Subversion of a Free Constitution By Corruption of Manners and Principles, and By Undue Influence.
- Section XX. On Several Subjects Suggested By Lord Melcombe’s Diary; Particularly the Practice of Bartering the Cure of Souls For the Corruption of Parliament.
- Section XXI. On Choosing Rich Men, Without Parts, Spirit, Or Liberality, As Representatives In the National Council.
- Section XXII. Of the Despotic Influence of Great Merchants Over Their Subalterns, of Customers Over Their Tradesmen, and Rich Trading Companies Over Their Various Dependents, In Compelling Them to Vote For Court Candidates For Seats In Parliment, Merely T
- Section XXIII. Of the Pageantry of Life; That It Originates In the Spirit of Despotism; and Contributes to It, Without Advancing Private Any More Than Public Felicity.
- Section XXIV. Insolence of the Higher Orders to the Middle Ranks and the Poor; With Their Affected Condescension, In Certain Circumstances, to the Lowest of the People.
- Section XXV. Of a Natural Aristocracy.
- Section XXVI. The Excessive Love of Distinction and Power Which Prevails Wherever the Spirit of Despotism Exists, Deadens Some of the Finest Feelings of the Heart, and Counteracts the Laws of Nature.
- Section XXVII. On the Opinion That the People Are Annihilated Or Absorbed In Parliament; That the Voice of the People Is No Where to Be Heard But In Parliament; and On Similar Doctrines, Tending to Depreciate the People.
- Section XXVIII. The Fashionable Contempt Thrown On Mr. Locke, and His Writings In Favour of Liberty; and On Other Authors and Books Espousing the Same Cause.
- Section XXIX. Of the Despotism of Influence; While the Forms of a Free Constitution Are Preserved.
- Section XXX. The Spirit of Despotism Delights In War Or Systematic Murder.
- Section XXXI. On the Idea That We Have Arrived At Perfection In Politics, Though All Other Sciences Are In a Progressive State.
- Section XXXII. On Political Ethics; Their Chief Object Is to Throw Power Into the Hands of the Worst Part of Mankind, and to Render Government an Institution Calculated to Enrich and Aggrandize a Few, At the Expense of the Liberty, Property, and Lives of
- Section XXXIII. On Trafficking With the Cure of Souls, (cura Animarum,) For the Purposes of Political, I. E. Moral, Corruption.
- Section XXXIV. Of Mr. Hume’s Idea, That Absolute Monarchy Is the Easiest Death, the True Euthanasia of the British Constitution.
- Section XXXV. The Permission of Lawyers By Profession, Aspiring to Honours In the Gift of the Crown, to Have the Greatest Influence In the Legislature, a Circumstance Unfavourable to Liberty.
- Section XXXVI. Poverty, When Not Extreme, Favourable to All Virtue, Public and Private, and Consequently to the Happiness of Human Nature; and Enormous Riches, Without Virtue, the General Bane.
- Section XXXVII. On the Natural Tendency of Making Judges and Crown Lawyers, Peers; of Translating Bishops and Annexing Preferments to Bishoprics, In, What Is Called Commendam.
- Section XXXVIII. That All Opposition to the Spirit of Despotism Should Be Conducted With the Most Scrupulous Regard to the Existing Laws, and to the Preservation of Public Peace and Good Order.
- Section XXXIX. The Christian Religion Favourable to Civil Liberty, and Likewise to Equality Rightly Understood.
- Section Xl. the Pride Which Produces the Spirit of Despotism Conspicuous Even On the Tombstone. It Might Be Treated With Total Neglect, If It Did Not Tend to the Oppression of the Poor, and to Bloodshed and Plunder.
- Section Xli.: Conclusion.
- Antipolemus; Or, the Plea of Reason, Religion, and Humanity, Against War. a Fragment; Translated From the Latin of Erasmus.
- Preface. By the Translator.
- Antipolemus; Or, the Plea of Reason, Religion, and Humanity, Against War.
Your lordship expressed a wish in your last letter, that I would be more explicit on the plan which I advised you to pursue. I am happy in finding you desirous of information, and wish it may be in my power to offer such as you may experience to be truly useful.
I think it right, my lord, to lay the foundation of your future improvements, in that kind of elegant and pleasing learning, which the French call the Belleslettres; the English, classical learning; and the ancients, the studies of humanity. You have already made a very considerable progress in this department under your tutor. But it must be confessed, that you have read the classics hitherto, rather for the sake of acquiring the ancient languages, and exemplifying the rules of grammar, than of refining your taste, and of extending your knowledge of life and manners.
You will do right to re-peruse the most celebrated of the classics with more liberal views. Procure the best variorum editions of them all, for the sake of referring to them when difficulties arise. Begin with Virgil, and read him in the edition of Heyne. Do not trouble yourself at first with the variantes lectiones, nor with all those discourses which the ingenious editor entitles excursus; but read all his notes at the bottom of the pages. They will give you a just idea of Virgil's excellence, in many passages where the beauties may at first not strike your taste. Finish all the works of Virgil, before you enter on any other classic. You will soon read him with interest; which is seldom the case when a classic is read chiefly to analyze the construction, in short interrupted portions, as at school, or under a private tutor.
From thus studying and relishing Virgil, you will receive an improvement in your taste, which will enable you to discover those charms which captivate the classical reader in all the celebrated authors of the Augustan age.
Let Homer's Iliad be read immedi Æneis. Read him without notes; for no author writes more perspicuously, and notes only distract attention when they are not necessary. Read him in the Oxford edition, without a Latin translation; having at the same time, in a separate volume, a Latin translation to refer to occasionally; and to save the trouble of turning over a lexicon. After a careful reading of the two or three first books, you will find little difficulty in the language. The few that may arise, will be easily removed by the translation. I wish you could proceed entirely without a translation; but as this is more perhaps than I ought reasonably to expect, I recommend one, merely to avoid the toil of turning over the lexicon. Not that I think the toil useless; but I fear it will be more troublesome than you will choose to submit to, especially as editions with literal translations abound, in which the meaning of every word is accurately discovered with little labour.
By an attentive perusal of Virgil and Homer, you will not only have acquired a perfect acquaintance with those first-rate writers, but at the same time a great knowledge of mythology, and of that poetical history which tends to facilitate the study of the classics of all ages and all countries. Other authors are to be read indeed in due order, but Virgil and Homer should be first digested. They will furnish a solid corner-stone for the future edifice, however massy or magnificent the design. Not to weary or alarm you with requiring too much at once, I shall pursue the subject in subsequent letters, if, amid your other employments, you deem what I have already proposed, not impracticable.
But lest you should think that I have lost sight of the plan of which I spoke, I must remind you that the Belles Lettres constitute the first part of it. It will be followed by logic, ethics, metaphysics, physics, mathematics, history, philosophy, and general literature.
I am, &c.