Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XVI. - The Works of Vicesimus Knox, vol. 5
LETTER XVI. - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
- To the Right Honourable Charles James Fox.
- Personal Nobility Or , Letters to a Young Noble Man
- Letter I.
- Letter II.
- Letter III.
- Letter IV.
- Letter V.
- Letter VI.
- Letter VII.
- Letter VIII.
- Letter IX.
- Letter X.
- Letter XI.
- Letter XII.
- Letter XIII.
- Letter XIV.
- Letter XV.
- Letter XVI.
- Letter XVII.
- Letter XVIII.
- Letter XIX.
- Letter XX.
- Letter XXI.
- Letter XXII.
- Letter XXIII.
- Letter XXIV.
- Letter XXV.
- Letter XXVI.
- Letter XXVII.
- Letter XXVIII.
- Letter XXIX.
- Letter XXX.
- Letter XXXI.
- Letter XXXII.
- Letter XXXIII.
- Letter XXXIV.
- Letter XXXV.
- Letter XXXVI.
- Letter XXXVII.
- Letter XXXVIII.
- Letter XXXIX.
- Letter Xl.
- Letter Xli.
- Letter Xlii.
- Letter Xliii.
- Letter Xliv.
- Letter Xlv.
- Letter Xlvi.
- Letter Xlvii.
- Letter Xlviii.
- Letter Xlix.
- Letter L.
- Letter Li.
- Letter Lii.
- Letter Liii.
- Letter Liv.
- Letter Lv.
- Letter Lvi.
- Letter Lvii.
- 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 happiness is the ultimate scope of our studies, as well as of all our other activity, if there is any mode of prosecuting them likely to disturb happiness, it ought to be relinquished, though in itself it may be a right mode, and highly conducive to the particular end proposed. But you are sensible, that no happiness can be enjoyed without health; and it will avail you little, to become a scholar, a philosopher, and an orator, to the essential detriment of your constitution.
Therefore, my Lord, as your sincere friend, who wishes your happiness above every thing, and recommends study only so far as it is productive of it, I think it my duty to advise a great attention to the preservation of your health in the conduct of your studies.
Have regard to the attitude in which you read or write. Vary it as much as you can: sit, stand, and walk, alternately. Continue not the same studies after a languor seizes you. Make use of weights, such as were used in the Skiamachia. Use a swing for your hands, suspended from the ceiling of your book-room. Adopt every contrivance which the ingenious mechanic has devised to counteract the effects of a sedentary life.
Let your diet be simple; but at the same time plentiful. Abstemiousness has been carried to a pernicious extreme by the present age. Dr. Cheyne's books contributed to introduce it, and Dr. Cadogan's pamphlet on the gout rendered it universal among valetudinarians. Asthenic or nervous diseases have in course multiplied.
But the diseases of inanition are less easily cured than those of repletion. You will, in this, as in every thing else, observe the golden mean; following, in great measure, the dictates of nature, the suggestions of unprovoked appetite, your own feelings, and your own constitution. As a student, in some degree sedentary, you require a generous, though a frugal diet. Be not afraid of growing too corpulent. Many young men and women have ruined their health by endeavours to emaciate their persons, for the sake of a genteel figure. It is vain to contend against nature; we may destroy her strength, but we cannot alter her course, without doing ourselves an irreparable injury.
Beware of tampering with medicine. There are books which pretend to render every man his own physician; and they have done great mischief to the weak and valetudinary. Seek the best advice under disease, and follow it. Assist it by a careful attention to diet, fresh air, and moderate exercise. The non-naturals are the best physic.
Read little or nothing very late in the evening: spend the hours before you retire to rest in cheerful conversation, and take care to retire early. You will thus be inclined to rise early, and the morning air will brace and invigorate you for the business of the day. In the management of your body, approach as much as possible to nature and simplicity. Never fail, in fine weather, to use two hours' exercise before dinner. Let not your exercise be very violent, or long protracted. The present age seems to have run into an extreme with respect to exercise, as well as abstemiousness. Exercise has been rendered hard labour, and abstemiousness downright starving. No wonder, that the poor frail machine is soon worn out with constant friction, and with scarcely any oil to supply its waste, and facilitate its motion.
These few hints on the subject of your health, I thought it right to submit to you, before we proceed any farther in our correspondence; but I must add caution upon caution. In taking care of your health, be upon your guard lest you become fanciful; and suspect yourself to be ill when you are in perfect health. Fanciful maladies have the ill effect of real ones, and frequently produce them. Remember the famous inscription on the tomb of an imaginary valetudinarian, “I was well, I would be better, and here I am.”
You have youth and a good constitution. You may therefore confide in it, so long as you do not abuse it by excess either of indulgence or of self-denial. It has been said, that it is better to wear out, than to rust out. And indeed indolence, an uncomfortable and dishonourable state in itself, is also the fruitful parent of diseases, both real and fanciful.
Be gentle and moderate in every thing which concerns your regimen; and thus will your health and your diligence last the longer.
I am, &c.