Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER LI. - The Works of Vicesimus Knox, vol. 5
LETTER LI. - 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.
Nothing has of late militated more powerfully against nobility than the publication of Lord Chesterfield's Letters. They opened the eyes of the people, and taught them to look unhurt, and with a naked eye, at that splendour, which formerly dazzled like the sun. They led men to believe, that this fascinating superiority, which at a distance appeared so glorious, was but an imposition on mankind, like the mimic suns and moons, thunder and lightning, in the theatre. The man who is admitted behind the scenes, and sees of what these are composed, laughs at the admiring audience.
Lord Chesterfield has let us all behind the scenes: he invites us to see the peer dress for public exhibition. There is copper instead of gold-leaf stamped on the leathern robe; glass instead of diamonds on the crown; paint, instead of health's fine tints, on the meagre cheek; and a variety of masks and disguises at hand, for all the purposes of selfish and knavish deceit. The plain honest Englishman learns to consider them who claim to be his superiors by birth and title, as founding their superiority in little else than the meanest and most contemptible cunning. Is this the wisdom of nobility? superficial attainments, a contempt for the whole species, especially the female part, a neglect of religion, a want of all public spirit, and a most anxious attention to self-interest, aggrandizement, and gratification. If man is so poor a creature, and human affairs so contemptible, and all that is passing on this globe mere juggling, then why put a coronet on any man's head, unless to mock him, as they put a cap on fools? A woollen nightcap, or a plain beaver, will afford warmth and shelter. Who would place a jewelled diadem on an ape's head, and a star on the breast of a baboon, unless to show him at a fair? If Lord Chesterfield's principles are well founded, then, in the first instance, blot out his escutcheon, abolish his title, and let him take his rank where common sense would place him, on a line with private gentlemen, unadorned and unprivileged by their country.
It is true, indeed, that Lord Chesterfield's son, to whom the letters were addressed, was not a nobleman. But Lord Chesterfield probably drew forth for his use the choicest treasures of his wisdom; and from them the plebeian orders are to form their ideas of that which was considered as wisdom by one of the most celebrated noblemen of his time. They are led to suspect, that similar sentiments on men and manners may prevail in others of the peerage, who display the graces with few of the virtues; and the consequence of such a suspicion is, a growing contempt for the order. They are led to think, that what they have usually admired, as all-accomplished, has been mere varnish, spread on a rotten or worthless substance. It would have been policy, in those who have nothing but the externals of nobility, to have suppressed, if possible, the letters of this graceful nobleman, whose principles have given weight to Pope's assertion,
An honest man's the noblest work of God.
A nobleman should from his heart abhor all simulation and dissimulation, as the poor shifts of ignoble meanness and cowardice. Should we venerate the lion, if he had the craft of the fox? The old Romans were true noblemen; bold, open, generous, manly; daring any thing but deceit and knavery: how would a Scipio sink in our esteem, if we saw him descending to the arts, artifices, and tricks of a Chesterfield, all for his own interest, regardless of men in general, and of his own particular society! The very dregs of the people of Rome thought and spoke nobly.
Then, my Lord, be not a Chesterfieldian. Be assured that an opener and manlier character is more pleasing to the people of England. Even supposing you to study nothing but the art of pleasing, it is the best mode to adopt such a character. Something of heroic virtue is expected in a nobleman. Honour without honesty, (and how can there be honesty in simulation and dissimulation?) is a contradiction. Such honour, like a counterfeit guinea, will not bear the touchstone.
I am, &c.