Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XIV. - The Works of Vicesimus Knox, vol. 5
LETTER XIV. - 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.
In the study of rhetoric, unlike a professor of anatomy, who presents to you a skeleton, rather than a beautiful living body, I advise you to contemplate the finished master-pieces of eloquence produced by genius, polished by art, and brought, as far as human nature will allow, to consummate perfection. The dry books of rhetoric which starve the genius by their meagre diet, I leave to students who talk of eloquence in the schools; but who will have no opportunity, as you will, of displaying it in the senate or at the bar. You, my lord, will spend your valuable time of preparation better than in talking about it and about it. You will imbibe as much of theory as is necessary, and no more; and then plunge into the practice. Have courage; and I venture to predict, that you will swim without corks, while the rhetoricians from the schools shall scarcely be able to keep their heads above water.
But if there is any author on the art of rhetoric less dreary than the scholastic rhetoricians, and you choose to read him, by all means pursue your inclination. If there is any rhetorician with the genius of an orator, I exhort you to study him; and what think you of Longinus? Panegyric has been lavish in his praise. But to speak the truth, I think you will learn more from his example than his precepts. He teaches little by rule; but his style is fine, his sentiments noble. Plotinus calls Longinus a philologer; not a philosopher. Longinus certainly bears no resemblance to Aristotle, and indeed very little to Quintilian. Read Longinus, as I have advised you to read Demosthenes, aloud; for he is in truth an orator, in the shape of a critic. Catch his spirit; and it will ennoble your eloquence, it will ennoble your heart, more than the blood of the Tudors. His treatise on the sublime, or rather on preeminent excellence, for so I might entitle it, is but short; and if you have a good appetite, you may devour and digest the whole in a fortnight.
Mr. Toup's edition of Longinus, so far as concerns the state of the text, is far superior to that of Bishop Pearce. It was subsequent to it; and Mr. Toup, I believe, was a far better Greek scholar than the good bishop, whose merit, however, ought not to be lightly esteemed. The bishop's notes are well worth your attention; but read the text in Toup's edition. Remember my old and repeated advice. Let the text of your authors occupy the first and greatest share of your attention. Many scholars actually take more delight in the notes than the text; and seem to have forgotten their author, while they are immersed in the commentary. Pray beware of these Lethæan waters. The notes in Tollius's edition are too numerous, and frequently little to the purpose. Toup's and Rhunkenius's notes chiefly concern the correctness of the text, and the collation of manuscripts; and therefore, though very valuable, are not adapted to the nature of your lordship's liberal studies, which are to terminate in life and action, and not to be confined to the shade of a cloister. You will be thankful to the verbal critics for giving you a corrected text; but you will not trouble yourself about the means by which they were enabled to correct it. That was their affair, and they have discharged the duty faithfully. They have fully evinced their learning, ingenuity, and industry. The world knows their excellence; and you, my Lord, will, for the present, give them credit for it, without troubling yourself to examine the testimonies. Your business is with the master, and not with his servile retinue.
The English translation of Longinus by Dean Smith, has been in great repute. It is certainly the best translation of him in English; but I do not think your Lordship will be able to form from it a just idea of the animated style of Longinus. Besides, as the Dean was under the necessity of following Pearce's text, which is not very correct, he has in some places misrepresented Longinus, which he would not have done, had Mr. Toup's edition been published when he wrote.
I mention the imperfections of translations, chiefly to induce your lordship to have recourse to the originals; and not to acquiesce, through mere indolence, in a faint copy. And I do it the more solicitously, because many sensible men, who have forgotten their school attainments, contend, that to read the original languages is now an unnecessary trouble, and mere pedantry; since all that is valuable in them may be read more compendiously in excellent translations in our own language. I must not close my letter without desiring you to read, as a preparation for Longinus, the learned dissertation of Schardam prefixed by Toup to his edition. I regret that an edition from so accurate a critic, and from an university press, should not be free from gross typographical errata. You will be aware of them, and correct as you read.
I am, &c.