Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XL. - The Works of Vicesimus Knox, vol. 5
LETTER XL. - 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.
You tell me that you again incurred the derision of your company. They laughed at the downfal of nobility in England. They think it so unlikely as to be next to impossible; and they treated with contempt your wish that they would unite with you in rendering it more respectable in the eyes of the public. They sent you, as you express it, to Coventry; they called you a pedant, and pretended to think you a fool.
These nobles, your companions, perhaps three or four years ago, would have laughed at the idea of the dethronement of the Grand Monarque, and the abolition of nobility in France. They once would have laughed at the idea of American independence. Ridicule is entertaining; but furnishes no argument. You see facts, my Lord, equally or perhaps more unlikely, than the abolition of nobility in England, have taken place in other countries. It never can be unwise to take timely precautions. All who understand the real state of this country, know that there are many in it who wish to see the order of nobility abolished. They are no less indefatigable than sagacious in pursuing their objects; and the spirit of the times, and the great events which have recently happened, are certainly favourable to their purposes.
What remains but that the nobility prove to the world that their order is really beneficial to society? And how can they do this more effectually, than by rendering themselves as superior in public virtue, and useful learning, as they are in civil preeminence? Personal merit is a claim to superiority, which the most clamorous leveller cannot dispute. Insignificance, crowned with a coronet, dwelling in a magnificent house, riding in a splendid coach, with arms on the side, and attended with crowds of liveried hirelings, will, in this age, be despised by all who are not in some mode or other paid for their obeisance; and when this contempt becomes general, what shall support an order of men originally raised above their fellows, by an opinion of the superior worth and virtue of their ancestors?
Let your merry companions laugh as they please, they must in their hearts esteem you, and all, who like you, are endeavouring to equal or to exceed the first founders of their family. Go on then confidently. If any thing can save the tottering fabric from falling, it is such a column, at once graceful and massy, as I hope you will one day appear in the eyes of all men.
Who knows not that human affairs, after our best endeavours, will ever remain far below perfection? Who requires to be told that man, however elevated, is still an infirm, frail, erring creature; and that noblemen are still subject to all the frailties flesh is heir to? Yet society will always expect, that those who enjoy peculiar privileges should, in the main, and upon the whole, notwithstanding a few exceptions, appear to deserve them, by returning services for advantages enjoyed, and distinctions claimed. What is society the better because certain men are adorned with titles, and eat more delicately, and dwell more sumptuously, and ride more splendidly, and reclining in haughtiness and lazy luxury, look down with contempt on the virtuous and industrious tribes, who, by their labours, are really increasing the comforts of life, and diminishing its evils? Noblemen, regardless of themselves and the public, and degenerated to grooms and gamesters and gluttons, will not be for ever tolerated in a country where taxes are high and the press free. Therefore, if the maintenance of the order is desirable to themselves, they must shake off a most dishonourable indolence, and become what their ancestors were supposed to have been, when they were separated by privileges from the mass of citizens.
Independently of all political considerations, and all regard to the honour and duration of their order, I am sure that as men they will feel themselves happier, by a life of active virtue and extensive beneficence. There is every reason to urge them to labour in improving their minds and exalting their nature. And as the corruption of the best things becomes the worst, degenerate nobility is infinitely baser than plebeian depravity or vulgar insignificance.
I am, &c.