Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XLI. - The Works of Vicesimus Knox, vol. 5
LETTER XLI. - 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 mention of those companions, who laugh at your regular application to letters, and your generous aspirations after every excellence, leads me to consider the importance of associating with men of enlightened minds and respectable characters.
A nobleman like you, enjoys the inestimable privilege of selecting his company from the mixed multitude. You are right indeed to select pleasant companions; for as men meet in society for mutual delight, the very purpose of their meeting would be frustrated by associating with the morose.
But be assured that the pleasantness of a companion does not always depend upon his levity. Mirth and jollity may pass away a vacant hour in thoughtlessness; but good sense, information, taste and wit, are necessary to give society its highest relish. Remember too, that your company should have the advantage of character, if you value your own.
I hope therefore, that you will not give yourself up, like some whom the public speaks of freely, to the society of men whose knowledge is confined to jockeyship, making of bets, feasting, playing, boxing, cock-fighting, cricketing, and other frivolous amusements, from which the people at large can receive no advantage; which often promote riot and disorder; which produce no good and mitigate no evil. Are noblemen allowed exclusive privileges, and loaded with riches and honours, that they may patronise and countenance those whom the middle rank, occupied in honest industry, consider as little better than vagabonds and outcasts of society? They may be pleasant, honest fellows in their way, but the public despises them; and they will involve those of the nobility who are always seen with them, in that contempt into which themselves have fallen, never more to rise.
It is said that very great men often delight in the company of very little men, and that princes and nobles are remarkable for their attachment to worthless company. What can be the causes? Among others, this perhaps is one. Nobles, not furnished with personal merit corresponding with their elevation, are afraid of sinking in the presence of persons who are distinguished by great talents natural and acquired. To preserve their rank at the convivial table, they think it best to associate with men whose humble acquirements and contemptible characters do not encroach upon their self-importance. But this is a double misfortune; a misfortune to themselves, who are thus excluded from the pleasure and advantage of company really good; and a misfortune to men of merit, who are suffered to live unpatronised and unnoticed by those, who lavish all their favours on their contemptible parasites. There is no conduct of the nobility which exasperates the honest and independent part of the people more, than this degrading predilection for men, who, however pleasing they may be as buffoons, are devoid of all qualities which excite public respect, and promote public benefit.
Such is my opinion of your good sense, and of the taste of excellence which you have imbibed from a voluntary perusal of the best authors, that I hope and think my admonitions on this subject may be unnecessary. But the example of young men of your own rank is seducing, and I am unwilling to omit any topic that may be beneficial.
Let me then exhort you to form a habit of association with men of letters and science, with men eminent in the liberal professions, with men whom the public esteems, and on whose account the public will esteem you, if you are known to seek and to enjoy their conversation.
“The feast of reason,” is one of the most delightful pleasures allowed to man in this imperfect state. Invite guests who are able to bring their share of the entertainment. Keep open house for all who come recommended by indubitable merit. But take care not to admit forward pretenders, who will be the first to rush in, to the entire exclusion of modest unpresuming men, who must be drawn with a kind of gentle violence from their obscurity.
Patronise real worth. How few among the nobility are patrons of illustrious merit? There are who pretend to be so, and bestow their favours on doubtful claims; on men who are chiefly remarkable for a mean obsequiousness, and whom the public scarcely recognise as men of any merit at all. There is an honest pride in real worth which delights in independence, and scorns to solicit favours of the unworthy. This pride, though really estimable, offends the little minds of narrow nobility. Men of great merit are therefore kept at a distance; while sycophantic pretenders, favoured by the ignorance as well as mean spirit of titled persons, (for to call them noble would be a misnomer,) enjoy the hospitality, the conversation, and the lucrative appointments of those who are raised to higher ground, that they may see, and seeing, may reward all real virtue in the vale beneath them.
As you must have observed how this conduct degrades individual noblemen, and disgraces the order, you will, notwithstanding the force of example, carefully avoid it. Mæcenas, though a coxcomb, had sense enough to patronise such men as Horace; and their merit has ennobled with immortality of fame his native insignificance.
I am, &c.