Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE LORD MAYOR, ALDERMEN, SHERIFS, AND COMMON COUNCIL OF LONDON. - The Oceana and Other Works
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TO THE LORD MAYOR, ALDERMEN, SHERIFS, AND COMMON COUNCIL OF LONDON. - James Harrington, The Oceana and Other Works 
The Oceana and Other Works of James Harrington, with an Account of His Life by John Toland (London: Becket and Cadell, 1771).
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TO THE LORD MAYOR, ALDERMEN, SHERIFS, AND COMMON COUNCIL OF LONDON.
IT is not better known to you, most worthy magistrats, that government is the preserving cause of all societys, than that every society is in a languishing or flourishing condition, answerable to the particular constitution of its government: and if the goodness of the laws in any place be thus distinguishable by the happiness of the people, so the wisdom of the people is best discern’d by the laws they have made, or by which they have chosen to be govern’d. The truth of these observations is no where more conspicuous than in the present state of that most antient and famous society you have the honor to rule, and which reciprocally injoys the chearful influence of your administration. ’Tis solely to its government that London ows being universally acknowleg’d the largest, fairest, richest, and most populous city in the world; all which glorious attributes could have no foundation in history or nature, if it were not likewise the most free. ’Tis confest indeed that it derives infinite advantages above other places from its incomparable situation, as being an inland city, seated in the middle of a vale no less delicious than healthy, and on the banks of a noble river, in respect of which (if we regard how many score miles it is navigable, the clearness and depth of its channel, or its smooth and even course) the Seine is but a brook, and the celebrated Tyber it self a rivulet: yet all this could never raise it to any considerable pitch without the inestimable blessings of Liberty, which has chosen her peculiar residence, and more eminently fixt her throne in this place. Liberty is the true spring of its prodigious trade and commerce with all the known parts of the universe, and is the original planter of its many fruitful colonys in America, with its numberless factorys in Europe, Asia, and Africa: hence it is that every sea is cover’d with our ships, that the very air is scarce exemted from our inventions, and that all the productions of art or nature are imported to this common storehouse of mankind; or rather as if the whole variety of things wherwith the earth is stockt had bin principally design’d for our profit or delight, and no more of ’em allow’d to the rest of men, than what they must necessarily use as our purveyors or laborers. As Liberty has elevated the native citizens of London to so high a degree of riches and politeness, that for their stately houses, fine equipages, and sumtuous tables, they excede the port of som foren princes; so is it naturally becom every man’s country, and the happy refuge of those in all nations, who prefer the secure injoyment of life and property to the glittering pomp and slavery, as well as to the arbitrary lust and rapine of their several tyrants. To the same cause is owing the splendor and magnificence of the public structures, as palaces, temples, halls, colleges, hospitals, schools, courts of judicature, and a great many others of all kinds, which, tho singly excel’d where the wealth or state of any town cannot reach further than one building, yet, taking them all together, they are to be equal’d no where besides. The delicat country seats, and the large villages crouded on all hands around it, are manifest indications how happily the citizens live, and makes a stranger apt to believe himself in the city before he approaches it by som miles. Nor is it to the felicity of the present times that London is only indebted: for in all ages, and under all changes, it ever shew’d a most passionat love of Liberty, which it has not more bravely preserv’d than wisely manag’d, infusing the same genius into all quarters of the land, which are influenc’d from hence as the several parts of the animal body are duly supply’d with blood and nourishment from the heart. Whenever therfore the execrable design was hatcht to inslave the inhabitants of this country, the first attemts were still made on the government of the city, as there also the strongest and most successful efforts were first us’d to restore freedom: for we may remember (to name one instance for all) when the late king was fled, and every thing in confusion, that then the chief nobility and gentry resorted to Guildhall for protection, and to concert proper methods for settling the nation hereafter on a basis of liberty never to be shaken. But what greater demonstration can the world require concerning the excellency of our national government, or the particular power and freedom of this city, than the Bank of England, which, like the temple of Saturn among the Romans, is esteem’d so sacred a repository, that even soreners think their treasure more safely lodg’d there than with themselves at home; and this not only don by the subjects of absolute princes, where there can be no room for any public credit, but likewise by the inhabitants of those commonwealths where alone such banks were hitherto reputed secure. I am the more willing to make this remark, because the constitution of our bank is both preferable to that of all others, and comes the nearest of any government to Harrington’s model. In this respect a particular commendation is due to the city which produc’d such persons to whose wisdom we owe so beneficial an establishment: and therfore from my own small observation on men or things I fear not to prophesy, that, before the term of years be expir’d to which the bank is now limited, the desires of all people will gladly concur to have it render’d perpetual. Neither is it one of the last things on which you ought to value your selves, most worthy citizens, that there is scarce a way of honoring the deity known any where, but is either already allow’d, or may be safely exercis’d among you; toleration being only deny’d to immoral practices, and the opinions of men being left as free to them as their possessions, excepting only Popery, and such other rites and notions as directly tend to disturb or dissolve society. Besides the political advantages of union, wealth, and numbers of people, which are the certain consequents of this impartial liberty, ’tis also highly congruous to the nature of true religion; and if any thing on earth can be imagin’d to ingage the interest of heaven, it must be specially that which procures it the sincere and voluntary respect of mankind. I might here display the renown of the city for military glory, and recite those former valiant atchievments which our historians carefully record; but I should never finish if I inlarg’d on those things which I only hint, or if I would mention the extraordinary privileges which London now injoys, and may likely possess hereafter, for which she well deserves the name of a New Rome in the West, and, like the old one, to becom the soverain mistress of the universe.
The government of the city is so wisely and completely contriv’d, that Harrington made very few alterations in it, tho in all the other parts of our national constitution he scarce left any thing as he found it. And without question it is a most excellent model. The lord mayor, as to the solemnity of his election, the magnificence of his state, or the extent of his authority, tho inferior to a Roman consul (to whom in many respects he may be fitly compar’d) yet he far outshines the figure made by an Athenian archon, or the grandeur of any magistrat presiding over the best citys now in the world. During a vacancy of the throne he is the chief person in the nation, and is at all times vested with a very extraordinary trust, which is the reason that this dignity is not often confer’d on undeserving persons; of which we need not go further for an instance than the Right Honorable Sir Richard Levet, who now so worthily fills that eminent post, into which he was not more freely chosen by the suffrages of his fellow-citizens, than he continues to discharge the functions of it with approv’d moderation and justice. But of the great caution generally us’d in the choice of magistrats, we may give a true judgment by the present worshipful sherifs, Sir Charles Duncomb and Sir Jeffery Jefferies, who are not the creatures of petty factions and cabals, nor (as in the late reigns) illegally obtruded on the city to serve a turn for the court, but unanimously elected for those good qualitys which alone should be the proper recommendations to magistracy; that as having the greatest stakes to lose they will be the more concern’d for securing the property of others, so their willingness to serve their country is known not to be inferior to their zeal for king William; and while they are, for the credit of the city generously equalling the expences of the Roman prætors, such at the same time is their tender care of the distrest, as if to be overseers of the poor were their sole and immediat charge. As the common council is the popular representative, so the court of aldermen is the aristocratical senat of the city. To enter on the particular merits of those names who compose this illustrious assembly, as it must be own’d by all to be a labor no less arduous than extremely nice and invidious, yet to pass it quite over in such a manner as not to give at least a specimen of so much worth, would argue a pusillanimity inconsistent with Liberty, and a disrespect to those I wou’d be always understood to honor. In regard therfore that the eldest alderman is the same at London with what the prince of the senat was at Rome, I shall only presume to mention the honorable Sir Robert Clayton as well in that capacity, as by reason he universally passes for the perfect pattern of a good citizen. That this character is not exaggerated will be evident to all those who consider him, either as raising a plentiful fortune by his industry and merit, or as disposing his estate with no less liberality and judgment than he got it with honesty and care: for as to his public and privat donations, and the provision he has made for his relations or friends, I will not say that he is unequal’d by any, but that he deserves to be imitated by all. Yet these are small commendations if compar’d to his steddy conduct when he supply’d the highest stations of this great city. The danger of defending the liberty of the subject in those calamitous times is not better remember’d than the courage with which he acted, particularly in bringing in the bill for excluding a Popish successor from the crown, his brave appearance on the behalf of your charter, and the general applause with which he discharg’d his trust in all other respects; nor ought the gratitude of the people be forgot, who on this occasion first stil‘d him the father of the city, as Cicero for the like reason was the first of all Romans call’d the father of his country. That he still assists in the government of London as eldest alderman, and in that of the whole nation as a member of the high court of parlament, is not so great an honor as that he deserves it; while the posterity of those familys he supports, and the memory of his other laudable actions, will be the living and eternal monuments of his virtue, when time has consum’d the most durable brass or marble.
To whom therfore shou’d I inscribe a book containing the rules of good polity, but to a society so admirably constituted, and producing such great and excellent men? that elsewhere there may be found who understand government better, distribute justice wiser, or love liberty more, I could never persuade myself to imagin: nor can the person wish for a nobler address, or the subject be made happy in a more suitable patronage than THE SENAT AND PEOPLE OF LONDON; to whose uninterrupted increase of wealth and dignity, none can be a heartier welwisher, than the greatest admirer of their constitution, and their most humble servant,