Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XLVI. - The Works of Vicesimus Knox, vol. 5
LETTER XLVI. - 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.
Pride often affects to despise, and may sometimes really despise, popularity. But it is a silly pride: for what is popularity but the favour, the love, and the esteem of the people; those of our fellow-creatures who are destined to exist on this globe at the same time with ourselves, and who have it greatly in their power to render our lives comfortable or uncomfortable, honourable or disgraceful? Next to the approbation of our God and our consciences, is the esteem of our fellow-creatures.
Every nobleman should endeavour to be popular. If his disposition lead him to rural retirement, yet he should become the favourite of his neighbourhood, beloved by the poor, and esteemed by all. Is this commonly the case? Go into countries where mansion-houses of the nobility abound; ask the neighbours their opinion of the lord at the great house. A shake of the head often speaks eloquently, when the tongue, through fear of the great man's persecution, is compelled to be silent. But, in general, the neighbours neither love nor fear the great man, and are loquacious enough at his expense. “My Lord is very strict about the game,” says one. “My Lord does but little good with his great fortune,” says another. “My Lord is scarcely ever here,” says a third, “but always in London, or at a watering-place.”—“So much the better,” cry they all, “for he gives nothing away, and associates with few but gamblers, who follow him into the country, as the crow follows the carrion.” The great man brings London with him to the sweet village retreat, where nature and simplicity once reigned, but whence they are driven by false refinement, or gross luxury. The pleasures he enjoys there are all selfish, or confined to a circle of companions whom the country-people view with contempt or hatred. What becomes of his popularity? He despises it—he is above it. The low people in his neighbourhood, even those who are what his ancestor was, are beneath his notice. The contempt is reciprocal. His lordship will do them no good, and he can do them no hurt; but they have it in their power to injure him deeply, by speaking of him on all occasions disrespectfully. Thus, his character suffers; and his honour, one of the most valuable possessions of a nobleman, is sullied by foul aspersion. The very order is held in contempt on his account; and, however he may despise this evil, yet let him be assured, that it is in its consequences of considerable magnitude. The contempt spreads, from a rural neighbourhood, to the whole community; as the undulating circles, caused by the falling of a pebble into a pond, extend themselves gradually to its remotest margin.
I advise you therefore, my Lord; you, who are willing to retard the degradation of nobility, to reside at your provincial mansion in a style of magnificence adequate to your rank and fortune, and with an hospitality and beneficence that may compel envy herself to acknowledge, that you are no less noble in your nature, than by the accident of primogeniture in a patrician family.
The English are still attached to illustrious birth, and if it is accompanied with any virtue, pay it great respect. How unfortunate, that some nobles do all they can to eradicate the prejudices, which the people retain for them, by showing that they have no pretensions to distinction or superiority, but the wretched ones of an hereditary fortune, which they dissipate in mischief; and an hereditary title, to which they are a disgrace!
A nobleman in the country should be looked up to by the vulgar with admiration, by the gentlemen and clergy with esteem and affection, and considered by all, as the universal friend; and this, not for the paltry purposes of a county or borough election, but for the sake of supporting the dignity which the laws of his country have consented that he shall inherit or possess, certainly not for his own good only, but for the good of the society. Why should I agree, says a free citizen, to exalt my fellow-creature above me, unless I am to enjoy the benefit of his protection, his bounty, or his good example?
Largesses bestowed for the sake of influencing votes, or condescension shown at the approach, or at the time of an election, gain no permanent popularity: they are seen through, and known to proceed from selfishness, meanness, and a contemptuous opinion of the very persons to whom they are offered. They are a cheap and dishonourable way of purchasing favours that cannot be bought and sold without betraying the country. Your kindness will proceed from true generosity; noble in your sentiments, noble in your actions, noble in your family, you will show your compeers what it is to be right honourable. The people, instead of divesting you, will wish to bind your brows with a brighter diadem than the coronet. I trust to your natural disposition, and to your education, that even if nobility is to be abolished, the historian, who records the event, will express regret that you could not be exempted from the degradation. Indeed, you cannot be degraded. Your title may be withdrawn, your armorial ensigns effaced, but such nobility as yours will emblazon itself. It will, if any thing can, redeem the whole order. Such, I know, is your ambition. Indulge it; and thus emulate, equal, and surpass, the ancestor who founded your house.
I am, &c.