Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER L. - The Works of Vicesimus Knox, vol. 5
LETTER L. - 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.
Since the first institution of nobility, a new race of nobles (pardon my calling them so) has arisen among us, unknown and unforeseen by our early progenitors. Commerce, manufactures, and our East Indian connections, have raised great numbers to princely opulence, and princely state, whom the ancient nobility would have retained in the humblest obscurity as vassals; whom too many among the modern nobility would, if possible, keep down by contempt and neglect. I say, if possible; but really, my Lord, it is impossible. Wealth, in a free country, will give power; and power, every real privilege of nobility, but the title, a poor claim to universal respect. What, then, of substantial superiority have the ancient nobility, if they do not rebuild the honour of their houses on the basis of their own personal merit? In wealth they are excelled by multitudes. In external pomp, in equipages, in mansions and attendants, in all that fascinates the vulgar, they are exceeded. Nothing exclusive remains, but the fancied advantage of patrician blood flowing in their veins; an advantage, if it be one, which does the public no service, and administers to little else but an empty pride. Personal merit, however, united to this fancied advantage, and the distinction of a title, will come recommended strongly to the prejudices of mankind; and there appears to me no other method of restoring the lustre of the coronet, than by adding to the number of its real jewels. False glitter will no longer pass undetected. Intellectual attainments, and patriotic exertions, will still keep the rich plebeians, who are treading upon the heels of nobility, at a convenient distance. But the purpose cannot be served by insolence and haughtiness, without merit, those common and contemptible shifts of little minds in stations too big for them.
The nobility in England have often treated the rich plebeian with a contempt which rouses a dangerous spirit of indignation. In their country retreats they often scorn the private gentleman of moderate but independent fortune, who yet possesses great influence by constant residence, and by familiar, kind, behaviour among the tenantry. They can return no visits, but among their equals; unless at the approach of a general election, when their selfish condescension is seen through, and despised as an insult; though, for the sake of private interest, it may be generally connived at and patiently borne.
The distinction which formerly subsisted between nobility and private gentlemen, or plebeians, is now lessened, not only by the more equal distribution of property, but by the dissemination of knowledge. The lower orders have frequently the advantage of patricians in education. They are compelled to submit to a discipline in their youth, to which the rich and great cannot, or rather will not conform. With conscious knowledge usually arises a certain degree of spirit, or, if you please, pride. This spirit, or pride, seems to yield with reluctance to claims of superiority founded only on hereditary titles, and unacquired property. It feels peculiar indignation when treated with contempt by those who have no natural claims to honour. It must, tacitly at least, wish to depress an artificial grandeur, which seems to operate, like overgrown weeds on salubrious plants, in keeping down the growth of real virtue.
To prevent the enmity of the powerful and very numerous men of property and personal merit in the middle ranks, I recommend to your Lordship great affability to them. Visit them, show peculiar favour to the most esteemed among them, and take care, by the improvements of your mind, and the generosity of your heart, to convince them that your superiority is founded not only on your ancestor's merit, but on your own; and that, if you had not been born a nobleman, you would still have been preeminent among private gentlemen by your abilities and your virtues. This desirable object is the aim of my correspondence; and I wish to see a nobility so evidently useful and conspicuously honourable, that, in spite of envy herself, the public voice may with one accord exclaim, “Esto perpetua.” Unless supported by great exertions, (I do not mean of military power,) the nobility of civil establishment must yie ldto the nobility of nature and virtue.
I am, &c.