Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER IX. - The Works of Vicesimus Knox, vol. 5
LETTER IX. - 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.
As oratory is very properly the object of your present studies, I must conduct you from Cicero to Demosthenes. You have Greek enough to read him, with very little assistance either from lexicons or translations. Condescend to resume, during your earlier studies, the edition which you used under your tutor. I think it was Mounteney's; in which, though there are but few orations, there are enough to give an appetite for more, and to lead you to the edition of Taylor.
Every common-place critic talks of the vehemence of Demosthenes; but vehemence alone is a slight recommendation of oratory. Vehemence is the quality which marks the rhetoric of a scold. You may hear it in great perfection in the streets and the market-places. The peculiar excellence of Demosthenes is a solidity of reasoning, expressed with a force of style; and both united, command assent and conviction. He fights with a weapon at once sharp, polished, and massy. It cuts like a two-edged sword, and falls with the force of a battle-axe. I will not however enter into a general encomium of an author whom all commend, and who is now seated in such eminent rank, that praise can no longer aggrandize, nor dispraise depreciate, his character.
But his beauties are not of that sort which display themselves on a cursory perusal. His solid ore must be dug for with persevering labour. I do not mean that his subject-matter is difficult of comprehension, for it was addressed to the lowest of the people; but the excellence of his diction cannot be understood by a modern, who is unacquainted with the curious art of the ancients, in the formation of their style. The nicety with which they examined the structure of sentences, exceeds all that the moderns ever attempted in studying the beauties of composition. Perhaps the inharmonious languages of the moderns cannot easily admit of it.
I do not desire you at present to enter into the minute inquiries of a critical anatomist. But you will not taste the style of Demosthenes, till you shall have formed an idea of the ancient rhythmus, and tuned your ear to the finished periods of an Athenian orator.
I know not how this can be better effected, than by habituating yourself to pronounce aloud, whole paragraphs from the orations of Demosthenes, with all the fire and animation which you will feel from warmly entering into the cause. Pronounce them repeatedly in your study, till you perceive the full force and harmony of every period. Imitate the musician who practises a new piece of music till he discovers its excellence; not desponding because at first it presents nothing but discord, but persevering till he catches the very spirit and idea of the composer.
When you have discovered the proper pauses or cœsurœ, mark them with your pencil. Then observe how one part of a period corresponds with the other in beautiful proportion. You will thus not only feel the pleasure of his fine style, but see the cause of it, and become at once a judge and an artist. You will find that every word has its place, like the stones in a beautiful piece of architecture; from which, if it should be removed, the symmetry will be deranged, and the graceful result of the whole diminished or destroyed. Observe the same method in reading all authors who excel in style.
Read aloud, observing the rhythmus, and the close of every sentence. Let the groves of your father's park resound with Roman and Athenian eloquence; nor be afraid of disturbing the Dryads. The young men who make a figure nowhere but in the chase, at the gaming-table, and over the bottle, may call you mad, if they should overhear you; but time will discover that you were hunting nobler game than they knew how to pursue. What figure will they make in the house of lords, when every peer shall be hanging on your lips, and admiring in you, the sound philosopher, the intelligent statesman, and the nervous orator?
I have before hinted, that you must be well armed against the assaults of ridicule, if you aspire at uncommon excellence. The knowing young men have no weapon to assail you but ridicule.
I am, &c.