Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER LIV. - The Works of Vicesimus Knox, vol. 5
LETTER LIV. - 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.
Whatever revolutions on the face of this little globe may be effected by the wonderful dispensations of providence, you will never repent that you have devoted your youth to the improvement of your mind, and the formation of a character that will appear great, like the columns of some ancient city in ruins, amid the wreck of empire. The British constitution at present stands firm on the hearts of the people; but even if it should unfortunately be shaken, personal merit cannot lose its honours, and must be called forth by the exigencies of the times to honourable action and distinction.
But even in the shade of retirement, if adversity should drive you to its shelter, the knowledge you will have accumulated, and the dignity of mind you will have acquired, must render your retreat illustrious. These will furnish you with a pleasure, of which no political revolution can deprive you, in solitude and in old age.
Short is the time allotted us in this life; shorter still the period of our activity. May we be wiser than to add misery to the short duration of our existence, by cruel tumults, by discord, by hatred, and by shedding the blood of our poor fellow-creatures, for rights, some of which are imaginary, but which, if real and possessed, would add but little to the solid comforts of each individual! Join with me in the wish, my Lord, that we may duly preserve the national happiness we enjoy; that our reforms may be temperate, the result of the maturest deliberation; and that the pen and the tongue may supersede the necessity of the sword among creatures pretending to reason. Peace be within our walls, and plenteousness within our palaces, and our cottages also. May science, arts, agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and religion, employ our minds during our short pilgrimage, and preserve us from attempts at unnecessary changes, which, whatever influence they may have on posterity, are sure to destroy the peace and comfort of the present generation! May the great never oppress the middle and lowest ranks, and may the middle and lowest ranks never oppose the great through envy!
I adjure you, my Lord, by the honour of your ancestry, and your own, to stand forth yourself, with your compeers by your side, in defence of the constitution. But think not that to retain all its abuses and corruptions, is to defend it. Recal it to its first principles; and where it has grown sickly or infirm by age, let it be restored to rejuvenescence. Let it be put into Medea's caldron; but destroy it not; because the testimony of time and experience has pronounced that it is favourable to the happiness and improvement of human nature. Science, arts, commerce, liberty, have flourished under it in a degree envied by all Europe. Why may they not continue to flourish unhurt; especially when new health and vigour shall be infused into it by the political physicians in consultation? The horrid barbarism of civil war must banish every thing grateful and pleasant from the land. Rational creatures must improve society by reason. A sword is a disgrace to human nature. If we must decide our contests by brute-force, let us pull down our houses, disperse our cities, take up our abode in the woods, and feed upon acorns. In countries pretending to civilisation there should be no war, much less intestine war, which may be justly called political suicide.
They are Goths and Vandals in mind, however splendid their appearance, who delight in war. You, my Lord, have softened your disposition by the study of the fine arts, and must view with disapprobation, as well as pity, thousands and tens of thousands of poor short-lived mortals drawn up on a plain, ready to cut each other's throats for hire, at the command of a mortal as wretched as themselves, but clothed in a little brief authority. Plough-shares and pruning-hooks, axes and hammers—these are the arms of a happy, enlightened, and Christian people. Use the influence which your birth and rank give you; exert the abilities with which God and your education have furnished you, in deriving on yourself the blessing pronounced on the peace-makers.
I am, &c.