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The Second Part of the Preliminarys. - 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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The Second Part of the Preliminarys.
IN the second part I shall endeavor to shew the rise, progress, and declination of modern prudence.
The date of this kind of policy is to be computed, as was shewn, from those inundations of Goths, Vandals, Huns, and Lombards, that overwhelm’d the Roman empire. But as there is no appearance in the bulk or constitution of modern prudence, that it should ever have bin able to com up and grapple with the antient, so somthing of necessity must have interpos’d, wherby this came to be enervated, and that to receive strength and incouragement. And this was the execrable reign of the Roman emperors taking rise from (that fælix scelus) the arms of Cæsar, in which storm the ship of the Roman commonwealth was forc’d to disburden itself of that precious fraight, which never since could emerge or raise its head but in the gulf of Venice.
The transition of antient into modern prudence.It is said in Scripture, Thy evil is of thyself, O Israel! To which answers that of the moralists,*None is hurt but by himself, as also the whole matter of the politics; at present this example of the Romans, who, thro a negligence committed in their Agrarian laws, let in the sink of luxury, and forfeited the inestimable treasure of liberty for themselves and their posterity.
The Agrarian laws of the Romans.Their Agrarian laws were such, wherby their lands ought to have bin divided among the people, either without mention of a colony, in which case they were not oblig’d to change their abode; or with mention and upon condition of a colony, in which case they were to change their abode; and leaving the city, to plant themselves upon the lands so assign’d.Sigonius de Ant. Ro. The lands assign’d, or that ought to have bin assign’d in either of these ways, were of three kinds: such as were taken from the enemy and distributed to the people; or such as were taken from the enemy, and under color of being reserv’d to the public use, were thro stealth possest by the nobility; or such as were bought with the public money to be distributed. Of the laws offer’d in these cases, those which divided the lands taken from the enemy, or purchas’d with the public money, never occasion’d any dispute; but such as drove at dispossessing the nobility of their usurpations, and dividing the common purchase of the sword among the people, were never touch’d but they caus’d earthquakes, nor could they ever be obtain’d by the people; or being obtain’d, be observ’d by the nobility, who not only preserv’d their prey, but growing vastly rich upon it, bought the people by degrees quite out of those shares that had been confer’d upon them. This the Gracchi coming too late to perceive, found the balance of the commonwealth to be lost; but putting the people (when they had least force) by forcible means upon the recovery of it, did ill, seeing it neither could nor did tend to any more than to shew them by worse effects, that what the wisdom of their leaders had discover’d was true. For (quite contrary to what has happen’d in Oceana, where, the balance falling to the people, they have overthrown the nobility) that nobility of Rome, under the conduct of Sylla, overthrew the people and the commonwealth: seeing Sylla first introduc’d that new balance, which was the foundation of the succeding monarchy, in the plantation of military colonys, instituted by his distribution of the conquer’d lands, not now of enemys, but of citizens, to forty-seven legions of his soldiers; so that how he came to be PERPETUAL DICTATOR, or other magistrats to succede him in like power, is no miracle.Military colony.
The balance of the Roman empire.These military colonys (in which manner succeding emperors continu’d, as Augustus by the distribution of the Veterans, wherby he had overcom Brutus and Cassius, to plant their soldiery) consisted of such as I conceive were they that are call’d milites beneficiarii; in regard that the tenure of their lands was by way of benefices, that is, for life, and upon condition of duty or service in the war upon their own charge. These benefices Alexander Severus granted to the heirs of the incumbents, but upon the same conditions. And such was the dominion by which the Roman emperors gave their balance. But to the beneficiarys, as was no less than necessary for the safety of the prince, a matter of eight thousand by the example of Augustus were added, which departed not from his sides, but were his perpetual guard, call’d Pretorian bands; tho these, according to the incurable flaw already observ’d in this kind of government, became the most frequent butchers of their lords that are to be found in story. Thus far the Roman monarchy is much the same with that at this day in Turky, consisting of a camp, and a horse-quarter; a camp in regard of the Spahys and Janizarys, the perpetual guard of the prince, except they also chance to be liquorish after his blood; and a horse-quarter in regard of the distribution of his whole land to tenants for life, upon condition of continual service, or as often as they shall be commanded at their own charge by timars, being a word which they say signifys benefices, that it shall save me a labor of opening the government.
But the fame of Mahomet and his prudence, is especially founded in this, that wheras the Roman monarchy, except that of Israel, was the most imperfect, the Turkish is the most perfect that ever was. Which happen’d in that the Roman (as the Israelitish of the sanhedrim and the congregation) had a mixture of the senat and the people; and the Turkish is pure. And that this was pure, and the other mix’d, happen’d not thro the wisdom of the legislators, but the different genius of the nations; the people of the eastern parts, except the Israelits, which is to be attributed to their agrarian, having bin such as scarce ever knew any other condition than that of slavery; and these of the western having ever had such a relish of liberty, as thro what despair soever could never be brought to stand still while the yoke was putting on their necks, but by being fed with som hopes of reserving to themselves som part of their freedom.
Wherfore Julius Cæsar (saith*Suetonius) contented himself in naming half the magistrats, to leave the rest to the suffrage of the people.Dion. And Mæcenas, tho he would not have Augustus to give the people their liberty, would not have him take it quite away‡ . Whence this empire being neither hawk nor buzzard, made a flight accordingly; and the prince being perpetually tost (having the avarice of the soldiery on this hand to satisfy upon the people, and the senat and the people on the other to be defended from the soldiery) seldom dy’d any other death than by one horn of this dilemma, as is noted more at large by Machiavel.P. cap. 19. But the Pretorian bands, those bestial executioners of their captain’s tyranny upon others, and of their own upon him, having continued from the time of Augustus, were by Constantin the Great (incens’d against them for taking part with his adversary Maxentius) remov’d from their strong garison which they held in Rome, and distributed into divers provinces. The benefices of the soldiers that were hitherto held for life and upon duty, were by this prince made hereditary: so that the whole foundation wherupon this empire was first built being now remov’d, shews plainly, that the emperors must long before this have found out som other way of support; and this was by stipendiating the Goths, a people that, deriving their roots from the northern parts of Germany, or out of Sweden, had (thro their victorys obtain’d against Domitian) long since spred their branches to so near a neighbourhood with the Roman territorys, that they began to overshadow them. For the emperors making use of them in their armys (as the French do at this day of the Switz) gave them that under the notion of a stipend, which they receiv’d as tribute, coming (if there were any default in the payment) so often to distrein for it, that in the time of Honorius they sack’d Rome, and possest themselves of Italy. And such was the transition of antient into modern prudence; or that breach which being follow’d in every part of the Roman empire with inundations of Vandals, Huns, Lombards, Franks, Saxons, overwhelm’d antient languages, learning, prudence, manners, citys, changing the names of rivers, countrys, seas, mountains, and men; Camillus, Cæsar, and Pompey, being com to Edmund, Richard, and Geoffrey.Machiavel.
The Gothic balance.To open the groundwork or balance of these new politicians: Feudum, says Calvin the lawyer, is a Gothic word of divers significations; for it is taken either for war, or for a possession of conquer’d lands, distributed by the victor to such of his captains and soldiers as had merited in his wars, upon condition to acknowledge him to be their perpetual lord, and themselves to be his subjects.
Institution of feudatory principalitys.Of these there were three kinds or orders: the first of nobility, distinguish’d by the titles of dukes, marquisses, earls; and these being gratified with the citys, castles, and villages of the conquer’d Italians, their feuds participated of royal dignity, and were call’d regalia, by which they had right to coin mony, create magistrats, take toll, customs, confiscations, and the like.
Feuds of the second order were such as, with the consent of the king, were bestow’d by these feudatory princes upon men of inferior quality, call’d their barons, on condition that next to the king they should defend the dignitys and fortunes of their lords in arms.
The lowest order of feuds were such as being confer’d by those of the second order upon privat men, whether noble or not noble, oblig’d them in the like duty to their superiors; these were call’d vavasors. And this is the Gothic balance, by which all the kingdoms this day in Christendom were at first erected; for which cause, if I had time, I should open in this place the empire of Germany, and the kingdoms of France, Spain, and Poland: but so much as has bin said being sufficient for the discovery of the principles of modern prudence in general, I shall divide the remainder of my discourse, which is more particular, into three parts.
The first shewing the constitution of the late monarchy of Oceana.
The second, the dissolution of the same. And
The third, the generation of the present commonwealth.
The constitution of the late monarchy of Oceana is to be consider’d in relation to the different nations by whom it has bin successively subdu’d and govern’d. The first of these were the Romans, the second the Teutons, the third the Scandians, and the fourth the Neustrians.
The government of the Romans, who held it as a province, I shall omit, because I am to speak of their provincial government in another place; only it is to be remember’d here, that if we have given over running up and down naked, and with dappl’d hides, learn’d to write and read, and to be instructed with good arts, for all these we are beholden to the Romans, either immediatly, or mediatly by the Teutons: for that the Teutons had the arts from no other hand, is plain enough by their language, which has yet no word to signify either writing or reading, but what is deriv’d from the Latin. Furthermore, by the help of these arts so learn’d, we have bin capable of that religion which we have long since receiv’d; wherfore it seems to me, that we ought not to detract from the memory of the Romans, by whose means we are, as it were, of beasts becom men, and by whose means we might yet of obsoure and ignorant men (if we thought not too well of our selves) becom a wife and a great people.
For the proof of the ensuing discourse out of records and antiquities see Selden’s titles of honor from pag. 593, to pag. 837.TheRomans having govern’d Oceana provincially, the Teutons were the first that introduc’d the form of the late monarchy. To these succeeded the Scandians, of whom (because their reign was short, as also because they made little alteration in the government as to the form) I shall take no notice. But the Teutons going to work upon the Gothic balance, divided the whole nation into three sorts of feuds, that of ealdorman, that of kings thane, and that of middle thane.
The Teuton monarchy.When the kingdom was first divided into precincts will be as hard to shew, as when it began first to be govern’d; it being impossible that there should be any government without som division. The division that was in use with the Teutons, was by countys, and every county had either its ealdorman, or high reeve. The title of ealdorman came in time to eorl, or erl, and that of high reeve to high sheriff.
Earls.Earl of the shire or county denoted the king’s thane, or tenant by grand serjeantry or knights service, in chief or in capite; his possessions were somtimes the whole territory from whence he had his denomination, that is, the whole county, somtimes more than one county, and somtimes less, the remaining part being in the crown. He had also somtimes a third, or som other customary part of the profits of certain citys, boroughs, or other places within his earldom. For an example of the possessions of earls in antient times, Ethelred had to him and his heirs the whole kingdom of Mercia, containing three or four countys; and there were others that had little less.
King’s thane.King’sthane was also an honorary title, to which he was qualify’d that had five hides of land held immediatly of the king by service of personal attendance; insomuch that if a churl or countryman had thriven to this proportion, having a church, a kitchen, a belhouse (that is, a hall with a bell in it to call his family to dinner) a boroughgate with a seat (that is, a porch) of his own, and any distinct office in the king’s court, then was he the king’s thane. But the proportion of a hide land, otherwise call’d caruca, or a plow land, is difficult to be understood, because it was not certain; nevertheless it is generally conceiv’d to be so much as may be manag’d with one plow, and would yield the maintenance of the same, with the appurtenances in all kinds.
Middle thane.Themiddle thane was feudal, but not honorary; he was also call’d a vavasor, and his lands a vavasory, which held of som mesn lord, and not immediatly of the king.
Possessions and their tenures, being of this nature, shew the balance of the Teuton monarchy; wherin the riches of earls were so vast, that to arise from the balance of their dominion to their power, they were not only call’d reguli or little kings, but were such indeed; their jurisdiction being of two sorts, either that which was exercis’d by them in the court of their countrys, or in the high court of the kingdom.
Shiremoot.In the territory denominating an earl, if it were all his own, the courts held, and the profits of that jurisdiction were to his own use and benefit. But if he had but som part of his county, then his jurisdiction and courts (saving perhaps in those possessions that were his own) were held by him to the king’s use and benefit; that is, he commonly supply’d the office which the sheriffs regularly executed in countys that had no earls, and whence they came to be call’d viscounts.Viscounts. The court of the county that had an earl was held by the earl and the bishop of the diocess, after the manner of the sheriffs turns to this day; by which means both the ecclesiastical and temporal laws were given in charge together to the country. The causes of vavasors or vavasorys appertain’d to the cognizance of this court, where wills were prov’d, judgment and execution given, cases criminal and civil determin’d.
Halymoot.The king’s thanes had the like jurisdiction in their thane lands, as lords in their manors, where they also kept courts.
Besides these in particular, both the earls and king’s thanes, together with the bishops, abbots, and vavasors, or middle thanes, had in the high court or parlament in the kingdom, a more public jurisdiction, consisting first of deliberative power for advising upon, and assenting to new laws: secondly, of giving counsil in matters of state: and thirdly, of judicature upon suits and complaints.Weidenagemoots. I shall not omit to inlighten the obscurity of these times (in which there is little to be found of a methodical constitution of this high court) by the addition of an argument, which I conceive to bear a strong testimony to it self, tho taken out of a late writing that conceals the author. “It is well known, says he, that in every quarter of the realm a great many boroughs do yet send burgesses to the parlament, which nevertheless be so antiently and so long since decay’d and gon to nought, that they cannot be shew’d to have bin of any reputation since the conquest, much less to have obtain’d any such privilege by the grant of any succeding king: wherfore these must have had this right by more antient usage, and before the conquest, they being inable now to shew whence they deriv’d it.”
This argument (tho there be more) I shall pitch upon as sufficient to prove; first, that the lower sort of the people had right to session in parlament during the time of the Teutons. Secondly, that they were qualify’d to the same by election in their boroughs, and, if knights of the shire (as no doubt they are) be as antient in the countrys. Thirdly, if it be a good argument to say, that the commons during the reign of the Teutons were elected into parlament, because they are so now, and no man can shew when this custom began; I see not which way it should be an ill one to say, that the commons during the reign of the Teutons constituted also a distinct house, because they do so now; unless any man can shew that they did ever sit in the same house with the lords. Wherfore to conclud this part, I conceive for these, and other reasons to be mention’d hereafter, that the parlament of the Teutons consisted of the king, the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons of the nation, notwithstanding the stile of divers acts of parlament, which runs as that of magna charta in the king’s name only, seeing the same was nevertheless enacted by the king, peers, and commons of the land, as is testify’d in those words by a subsequent act.25 Edw. 3. c. 1.
Monarchy of the Neustrians.The monarchy of the Teutons had stood in this posture about two hundred and twenty years; when Turbo duke of Neustria making his claim to the crown of one of their kings that dy’d childless, follow’d it with successful arms; and being possest of the kingdom, us’d it as conquer’d, distributing the earldoms, thane lands, bishoprics and prelacys of the whole realm among his Neustrians. From this time the earl came to be call’d comes, consul, and dux (tho consul and dux grew afterward out of use) the king’s thanes came to be call’d barons, and their lands baronys; the middle thane holding still of a mean lord, retain’d the name of vavasor.
Their earls.Theearl or comes continu’d to have the third part of the pleas of the county paid to him by the sheriff or vice-comes, now a distinct officer in every county depending upon the king; saving that such earls as had their countys to their own use, were now counts palatin, and had under the king regal jurisdiction; insomuch that they constituted their own sheriffs, granted pardons, and issu’d writs in their own names; nor did the king’s writ of ordinary justice run in their dominions till a late statute, wherby much of this privilege was taken away.27 H. 8.
Their barons.Forbarons they came from henceforth to be in different times of three kinds; barons by their estates and tenures, barons by writ, and barons created by letters patent. From Turbo the first to Adoxus the seventh king from the conquest, barons had their denomination from their possessions and tenures. And these were either spiritual or temporal; for not only the thane lands, but the possessions of bishops, as also of som twenty-six abbats, and two priors, were now erected into baronys, whence the lords spiritual that had suffrage in the Teuton parlament as spiritual lords, came to have it in the Neustrian parlament as barons, and were made subject (which they had not formerly bin) to knights service in chief.Barons by their possessions.Barony coming henceforth to signify all honorary possessions as well of earls as barons, and baronage to denote all kinds of lords as well spiritual as temporal having right to sit in parlament, the baronys in this sense were somtimes more, and somtimes fewer, but commonly about 200 or 250, containing in them a matter of sixty thousand feuda militum, or knights fees, wherof some twenty-eight thousand were in the clergy. It is ill luck that no man can tell what the land of a knight’s fee (reckon’d in som writs at 40 l. a year, and in others at 10) was certainly worth; for by such a help we might have exactly demonstrated the balance of this government.Coke 11 inst. pag. 596. But, says Coke, it contain’d twelve plow lands, and that was thought to be the most certain account. But this again is extremely uncertain; for one plow out of som land that was fruitful, might work more than ten out of som other that was barren.Balance of the Neustrian monarchy. Nevertheless, seeing it appears by Bracton, that of earldoms and baronys it was wont to be said, that the whole kingdom was compos’d; as also, that these consisting of 60,000 knights fees, furnish’d 60,000 men for the king’s service, being the whole militia of this monarchy, it cannot be imagin’d that the vavasorys or freeholds in the people amounted to any considerable proportion. Wherfore the balance and foundation of this government was in the 60,000 knights fees, and these being possest by the 250 lords, it was a government of the few, or of the nobility; wherin the people might also assemble, but could have no more than a mere name. And the clergy holding a third of the whole nation, as is plain by the parlament roll; it is an absurdity (seeing the clergy of France came first thro their riches to be a state of that kingdom) to acknowlege the people to have bin a state of this realm, and not to allow it to the clergy,4 Rich. 2. who were so much more weighty in the balance, which is that of all other whence a state or order in a government is denominated.Numb. 13. Wherfore this monarchy consisted of the king, and of the three (ordines regni, or) estates, the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons: it consisted of these I say as to the balance, tho during the reign of som of these kings, not as to the administration.
Administration of the Neustrian monarchy during the reign of the first kings.For the ambition of Turbo, and som of those that more immediately succeded him, to be absolute princes, strove against the nature of their foundation, and, inasmuch as he had divided almost the whole realm among his Neustrians, with som incouragement for a while. But the Neustrians while they were but foren plants, having no security against the natives, but in growing up by their princes sides, were no sooner well rooted in their vast dominions, than they came up according to the infallible consequence of the balance domestic, and, contracting the national interest of the baronage, grew as fierce in the vindication of the antient rights and liberties of the same, as if they had bin always natives: whence, the kings being as obstinat on the one side for their absolute power, as these on the other for their immunitys, grew certain wars which took their denomination from the barons.
This fire about the middle of the reign of Adoxus began to break out.Barons by writ. And wheras the predecessors of this king had divers times bin forc’d to summon councils resembling those of the Teutons, to which the lords only that were barons by dominion and tenure had hitherto repair’d, Adoxus seeing the effects of such dominion, began first not to call such as were barons by writ (for that was according to the practice of antient times) but to call such by writs as were otherwise no barons; by which means striving to avoid the consequence of the balance, in coming unwillingly to set the government streight, he was the first that set it awry. For the barons in his reign, and his successors, having vindicated their antient authority, restor’d the parlament with all the rights and privileges of the same, saving that from thenceforth the kings had found out a way wherby to help themselves against the mighty, by creatures of their own, and such as had no other support but by their favor. By which means this government, being indeed the masterpiece of modern prudence, has bin cry’d up to the skys, as the only invention wherby at once to maintain the soverainty of a prince, and the liberty of the people. Wheras indeed it has bin no other than a wrestling match, wherin the nobility, as they have bin stronger, have thrown the king; or the king, if he has bin stronger, has thrown the nobility; or the king, where he has had a nobility, and could bring them to his party, has thrown the people, as in France and Spain; or the people where they have had no nobility, or could get them to be of their party, have thrown the king, as in Holland, and of later times in Oceana.49 H. 3. But they came not to this strength but by such approaches and degrees, as remain to be further open’d. For wheras the barons by writ (as the sixty-four abbats, and thirty-six priors that were so call’d) were but pro tempore,Dicotome being the twelfth king from the conquest, began to make barons by letters patent, with the addition of honorary pensions for the maintenance of their dignitys to them and their heirs; so that they were hands in the king’s purse, and had no shoulders for his throne.Barons by letters patent. Of these when the house of peers came once to be full, as will be seen hereafter, there was nothing more empty. But for the present, the throne having other supports, they did not hurt that so much as they did the king: for the old barons taking Dicotome’s prodigality to such creatures so ill, that they depos’d him, got the trick of it, and never gave over setting up and pulling down their kings according to their various interests, and that faction of the white and red, into which they have bin thenceforth divided, till Panurgus the eighteenth king from the conquest, was more by their favor than his right advanc’d to the crown.Dissolution of the late monarchy of Oceana. This king thro his natural subtilty reflecting at once upon the greatness of their power, and the inconstancy of their favor, began to find another flaw in this kind of government, which is also noted by Machiavel, namely that a throne supported by a nobility, is not so hard to be ascended, as kept warm. Wherfore his secret jealousy, lest the dissension of the nobility, as it brought him in, might throw him out, made him travel in ways undiscover’d by them, to ends as little foreseen by himself: while to establish his own safety, he by mixing water with their wine, first began to open those sluces that have since overwhelm’d not the king only, but the throne. For wheras a nobility strikes not at the throne without which they cannot subsist, but at som king that they do not like; popular power strikes thro the king at the throne, as that which is incompatible with it. Now that Panurgus in abating the power of the nobility, was the cause whence it came to fall into the hands of the people, appears by those several statutes that were made in his reign, as that for population, those against retainers, and that for alienations.
By the statute of population, all houses of husbandry that were us’d with twenty acres of ground and upwards, were to be maintain’d, and kept up for ever with a competent proportion of land laid to them, and in no wise, as appears by a subsequent statute, to be sever’d. By which means the houses being kept up, did of necessity inforce dwellers; and the proportion of land to be till’d being kept up, did of necessity inforce the dweller not to be a begger or cottager, but a man of som substance, that might keep hinds and servants, and set the plow a going. This did mightily concern (says the historian of that prince) the might and manhood of the kingdom, and in effect amortize a great part of the lands to the hold and possession of the yeomanry or middle people, who living not in a servil or indigent fashion, were much unlink’d from dependence upon their lords, and living in a free and plentiful manner, became a more excellent infantry; but such a one upon which the lords had so little power, that from henceforth they may be computed to have bin disarm’d.
And as they lost their infantry after this manner, so their cavalry and commanders were cut off by the statute of retainers: for wheras it was the custom of the nobility to have younger brothers of good houses, metal’d fellows, and such as were knowing in the feats of arms about them; they who were longer follow’d with so dangerous a train, escap’d not such punishments, as made them take up.
Henceforth the country-lives, and great tables of the nobility, which no longer nourish’d veins that would bleed for them, were fruitless and loathsom till they chang’d the air, and of princes became courtiers; where their revenues, never to have bin exhausted by beef and mutton, were found narrow, whence follow’d racking of rents, and at length sale of lands: the riddance thro the statute of alienations being render’d far more quick and facil than formerly it had bin thro the new invention of intails.
To this it happen’d, that Coraunus the successor of that king dissolving the abbys, brought with the declining state of the nobility so vast a prey to the industry of the people, that the balance of the commonwealth was too apparently in the popular party, to be unseen by the wise council of queen Parthenia, who converting her reign thro the perpetual lovetricks that past between her and her people into a kind of romance, wholly neglected the nobility. And by these degrees came the house of commons to raise that head, which since has bin so high and formidable to their princes, that they have look’d pale upon those assemblys. Nor was there any thing now wanting to the destruction of the throne, but that the people, not apt to see their own strength, should be put to feel it; when a prince, as stiff in disputes as the nerve of monarchy was grown slack, receiv’d that unhappy incouragement from his clergy which became his utter ruin, while trusting more to their logic than the rough philosophy of his parlament, it came to an irreparable breach; for the house of peers, which alone had stood in this gap, now sinking down between the king and the commons, shew’d that Crassus was dead, and the isthmus broken. But a monarchy devested of its nobility, has no refuge under heaven but an army. Wherfore the dissolution of this government caus’d the war, not the war the dissolution of this government.
Of the king’s success with his arms it is not necessary to give any further account, than that they prov’d as ineffectual as his nobility; but without a nobility or an army (as has bin shew’d) there can be no monarchy. Wherfore what is there in nature that can arise out of these ashes, but a popular government, or a new monarchy to be erected by the victorious army?
To erect a monarchy, be it never so new, unless like Leviathan you can hang it, as the country-fellow speaks, by geometry, (for what else is it to say, that every other man must give up his will to the will of this one man without any other foundation?) it must stand upon old principles, that is, upon a nobility or an army planted on a due balance of dominion. Aut viam inveniam aut faciam, was an adage of Cæsar; and there is no standing for a monarchy unless it finds this balance, or makes it. If it finds it, the work’s don to its hand: for, where there is inequality of estates, there must be inequality of power; and where there is inequality of power, there can be no commonwealth. To make it, the sword must extirpat out of dominion all other roots of power, and plant an army upon that ground. An army may be planted nationally or provincially. To plant it nationally, it must be in one of the four ways mention’d, that is, either monarchically in part, as the Roman beneficiarii; or monarchically, in the whole, as the Turkish timariots; aristocatrically, that is, by earls and barons, as the Neustrians were planted by Turbo; or democratically, that is, by equal lots, as the Israelitish army in the land of Canaan by Joshua. In every one of these ways there must not only be confiscations, but confiscations to such a proportion as may answer to the work intended.
Confiscation of a people that never fought against you, but whose arms you have born, and in which you have bin victorious, and this upon premeditation, and in cold blood, I should have thought to be against any example in human nature, but for those alleg’d by Machiavel of Agathocles, and Oliverettodi Fermo: the former wherof being captain general of the Syracusans, upon a day assembl’d the senat and the people, as if he had somthing to communicat with them, when at a sign given he cut the senators in pieces to a man, and all the richest of the people, by which means he came to be king. The proceedings of Oliveretto in making himself prince of Fermo, were somwhat different in circumstances, but of the same nature. Nevertheless Catilin, who had a spirit equal to any of these in his intended mischief, could never bring the like to pass in Rome. The head of a small commonwealth, such a one as was that of Syracusa or Fermo, is easily brought to the block; but that a populous nation, such as Rome, had not such a one, was the grief of Nero. If Sylvia or Cæsar attain’d to be princes, it was by civil war, and such civil war as yielded rich spoils, there being a vast nobility to be confiscated; which also was the case in Oceana, when it yielded earth by earldoms and baronys to the Neustrian, for the plantation of his new potentates. Where a conqueror finds the riches of a land in the hands of the few, the forfeitures are easy, and amount to vast advantage; but where the people have equal shares, the confiscation of many coms to little, and is not only dangerous, but fruitless.
TheRomans in one of their defeats of the Volsci found among the captives certain Tusculans, who, upon examination, confest that the arms they bore were by command of their state; wherupon information being given to the senat by the general Camillus, he was forthwith commanded to march against Tusculum; which doing accordingly, he found the Tusculan fields full of husbandmen, that stir’d not otherwise from the plow, than to furnish his army with all kind of accommodations and victuals: drawing near to the city, he saw the gates wide open, the magistrats coming out in their gowns to salute and bid him welcom: entring, the shops were all at work, and open; the streets sounded with the noise of schoolboys at their books; there was no face of war. Whereupon Camillus causing the senat to assemble, told them, That tho the art was understood, yet had they at length found out the true arms wherby the Romans were most undoubtedly to be conquer’d, for which cause he would not anticipat the senat, to which he desir’d them forthwith to send, which they did accordingly; and their dictator with the rest of their embassadors being found by the Roman senators as they went into the house standing sadly at the door, were sent for in as friends, and not as enemys: where the dictator having said, If we have offended, the fault was not so great as is our penitence and your virtue; the senat gave them peace forthwith, and soon after made the Tusculans citizens of Rome.
But putting the case, of which the world is not able to shew an example, that the forfeiture of a populous nation, not conquer’d, but friends, and in cool blood, might be taken; your army must be planted in one of the ways mention’d. To plant it in the way of absolute monarchy, that is, upon feuds for life, such as the Timars, a country as large and fruitful as that of Greece, would afford you but sixteen thousand Timariots, for that is the most the Turc (being the best husband that ever was of this kind) makes of it at this day: and if Oceana, which is less in fruitfulness by one half, and in extent by three parts, should have no greater a force, whoever breaks her in one battel, may be sure she shall never rise; for such (as was noted by Machiavel) is the nature of the Turkish monarchy, if you break it in two battels, you have destroy’d its whole militia; and the rest being all slaves, you hold it without any further resistance. Wherfore the erection of an absolute monarchy in Oceana, or in any other country that is no larger, without making it a certain prey to the first invader, is altogether impossible.
To plant by halves, as the Roman emperors did their beneficiarys, or military colonys, it must be either for life; and this an army of Oceaners in their own country (especially having estates of inheritance) will never bear; because such an army so planted is as well confiscated as the people; nor had the Mamalucs bin contented with such usage in Egypt, but that they were foreners, and daring not to mix with the natives, it was of absolute necessity to their being.
Or planting them upon inheritance, whether aristocratically as the Neustrians, or democratically as the Israelits, they grow up by certain consequence into the national interest: and this, if they be planted popularly, coms to a commonwealth; if by way of nobility, to a mix’d monarchy, which of all other will be found to be the only kind of monarchy, wherof this nation, or any other that is of no greater extent, has bin or can be capable: for if the Israelits (tho their democratical balance, being fix’d by their agrarian, stood firm) be yet found to have elected kings, it was because, their territory lying open, they were perpetually invaded, and being perpetually invaded, turn’d themselves to any thing which thro the want of experience they thought might be a remedy; whence their mistake in election of their kings (under whom they gain’d nothing, but on the contrary lost all they had acquir’d by their commonwealth, both estates and libertys) is not only apparent, but without parallel. And if there have bin (as was shewn) a kingdom of the Goths in Spain, and of the Vandals in Asia, consisting of a single person and a parlament (taking a parlament to be a council of the people only, without a nobility) it is expresly said of those councils, that they depos’d their kings as often as they pleas’d: nor can there be any other consequence of such a government, seeing where there is a council of the people, they do never receive laws, but give them; and a council giving laws to a single person, he has no means in the world wherby to be any more than a subordinat magistrat, but force: in which case he is not a single person and a parlament, but a single person and an army, which army again must be planted as has bin shewn, or can be of no long continuance.
It is true, that the provincial balance being in nature quite contrary to the national, you are no way to plant a provincial army upon dominion. But then you must have a native territory in strength, situation, or government, able to overbalance the foren, or you can never hold it. That an army should in any other case be long supported by a mere tax, is a mere phansy as void of all reason and experience, as if a man should think to maintain such a one by robbing of orchards: for a mere tax is but pulling of plumtrees, the roots wherof are in others mens grounds, who suffering perpetual violence, com to hate the author of it: and it is a maxim, that no prince that is hated by his people can be safe. Arms planted upon dominion extirpat enemys, and make friends: but maintain’d by a mere tax, have enemys that have roots, and friends that have none.
To conclude, Oceana, or any other nation of no greater extent, must have a competent nobility, or is altogether incapable of monarchy: for where there is equality of estates, there must be equality of power: and where there is equality of power, there can be no monarchy.
The generation of the commonwealth.To com then to the generation of the commonwealth; it has bin shewn how thro the ways and means us’d by Panurgus to abase the nobility, and so to mend that flaw which we have asserted to be incurable in this kind of constitution, he suffer’d the balance to fall into the power of the people, and so broke the government: but the balance being in the people, the commonwealth (tho they do not see it) is already in the nature of* them. There wants nothing else but time (which is slow and dangerous) or art (which would be more quick and secure) for the bringing those native arms (wherwithal they are found already) to resist they know not how every thing that opposes them, to such maturity as may fix them upon their own strength and bottom.
What prudence is.But wheras this art is prudence; and that part of prudence which regards the present work, is nothing else but the skill of raising such superstructures of government, as are natural to the known foundations: they never mind the foundation, but thro certain animosities (wherwith by striving one against another they are infected) or thro freaks, by which, not regarding the course of things, nor how they conduce to their purpose, they are given to building in the air, com to be divided and subdivided into endless partys and factions, both civil and ecclesiastical: which briefly to open, I shall first speak of the people in general, and then of their divisions.
A People (says Machiavel) that is corrupt, is not capable of a commonwealth. But in shewing what a corrupt people is, he has either involv’d himself, or me; nor can I otherwise com out of the labyrinth, than by saying, the balance altering a people, as to the foregoing government, must of necessity be corrupt: but corruption in this sense signifys no more than that the corruption of one government (as in natural bodys) is the generation of another. Wherfore if the balance alters from monarchy, the corruption of the people in this case is that which makes them capable of a commonwealth. But wheras I am not ignorant, that the corruption which he means is in manners, this also is from the balance. For the balance leading from monarchical into popular, abates the luxury of the nobility, and, inriching the people, brings the government from a more privat to a more public interest; which coming nearer, as has bin shewn, to justice and right reason, the people upon a like alteration is so far from such a corruption of manners, as should render them incapable of a commonwealth, that of necessity they must therby contract such a reformation of manners as will bear no other kind of government. On the other side, where the balance changes from popular to oligarchical or monarchical, the public interest, with the reason and justice included in the same, becoms more privat; luxury is introduc’d in the room of temperance, and servitude in that of freedom; which causes such a corruption of manners both in the nobility and people, as, by the example of Rome in the time of the Triumvirs, is more at large discover’d by the author to have bin altogether incapable of a commonwealth.
But the balance of Oceana changing quite contrary to that of Rome, the manners of the people were not therby corrupted, but on the contrary adapted to a commonwealth. For differences of opinion in a people not rightly inform’d of their balance, or a division into partys (while there is not any common ligament of power sufficient to reconcile or hold them) is no sufficient proof of corruption. Nevertheless, seeing this must needs be matter of scandal and danger, it will not be amiss, in shewing what were the partys, to shew what were their errors.
The partys into which this nation was divided, were temporal, or spiritual: and the temporal partys were especially two, the one royalists, the other republicans: each of which asserted their different causes, either out of prudence or ignorance, out of interest or conscience.
For prudence, either that of the antients is inferior to the modern (which we have hitherto bin setting face to face, that any one may judg) or that of the royalist must be inferior to that of the commonwealthsman.The royalist. And for interest, taking the commonwealthsman to have really intended the public (for otherwise he is a hypocrit and the worst of men) that of the royalist must of necessity have bin more privat. Wherfore the whole dispute will com upon matter of conscience: and this, whether it be urg’d by the right of kings, the obligation of former laws, or of the oath of allegiance, is absolv’d by the balance.
For if the right of kings were as immediatly deriv’d from the breath of God as the life of man, yet this excludes not death and dissolution. But, that the dissolution of the late monarchy was as natural as the death of a man, has bin already shewn. Wherfore it remains with the royalists to discover by what reason or experience it is possible for a monarchy to stand upon a popular balance; or, the balance being popular, as well the oath of allegiance, as all other monarchical laws, imply an impossibility, and are therfore void.
The commonwealthsman.To the commonwealthsman I have no more to say, but that if he excludes any party, he is not truly such; nor shall ever found a commonwealth upon the natural principle of the same, which is justice. And the royalist for having not oppos’d a commonwealth in Oceana (where the laws were so ambiguous that they might be eternally disputed, and never reconcil’d) can neither be justly for that cause excluded from his full and equal share in the government; nor prudently, for this reason, that a commonwealth consisting of a party will be in perpetual labor of her own destruction: whence it was that the Romans having conquer’d the Albans, incorporated them with equal right into the commonwealth. And if the royalists be flesh of your flesh, and nearer of blood than were the Albans to the Romans, you being also both Christians, the argument’s the stronger. Nevertheless there is no reason that a commonwealth should any more favor a party remaining in fix’d opposition against it, than Brutus did his own sons. But if it fixes them upon that opposition, it is its own fault, not theirs; and this is done by excluding them. Men that have equal possessions, and the same security for their estates and their libertys that you have, have the same cause with you to defend both: but if you will be trampling, they fight for liberty, tho for monarchy; and you for tyranny, tho under the name of a commonwealth: the nature of orders in a government rightly instituted being void of all jealousy, because, let the partys which it imbraces be what they will, its orders are such as they neither would resist if they could, nor could if they would, as has bin partly already shewn, and will appear more at large by the following model
Religious partys.The partys that are spiritual are of more kinds than I need mention; some for a national religion, and others for liberty of conscience, with such animosity on both sides, as if these two could not consist together, and of which I have already sufficiently spoken, to shew, that indeed the one cannot well subsist without the other. But they of all the rest are the most dangerous, who, holding that the saints must govern, go about to reduce the commonwealth to a party, as well for the reasons already shewn, as that their pretences are against Scripture, where the saints are commanded to submit to the higher powers, and to be subject to the ordinance of man. And that men, pretending under the notion of saints or religion to civil power, have hitherto never fail’d to dishonor that profession, the world is full of examples, whereof I shall confine myself at present only to a couple, the one of old, the other of new Rome.
In old Rome the patricians or nobility pretending to be the godly party, were question’d by the people for ingrossing all the magistracys of that commonwealth, and had nothing to say why they did so, but* that magistracy requir’d a kind of holiness which was not in the people† : at which the people were fill’d with such indignation as had com to cutting of throats, if the nobility had not immediatly laid by the insolency of that plea; which nevertheless when they had don, the people for a long time after continu’d to elect no other but patrician magistrats.
The example of new Rome in the rise and practise of the hierarchy (too well known to require any further illustration) is far more immodest.
This has bin the course of nature: and when it has pleas’d or shall please God to introduce any thing that is above the course of nature, he will, as he has always don, confirm it by miracle; for so in his prophecy of the reign of Christ upon earth, he expressly promises: seeing that the souls of them that were beheaded forJesus,shall be seen to live and reign with him; which will be an object of sense, the rather, because the rest of the dead are not to live again till the thousand years be finish’d. And it is not lawful for men to persuade us that a thing already is, tho there be no such object of our sense, which God has told us shall not be till it be an object of our sense.
The saintship of a people as to government, consists in the election of magistrats fearing God, and hating covetousness, and not in their confining themselves, or being confin’d to men of this or that party or profession. It consists in making the most prudent and religious choice they can; yet not in trusting to men, but, next God, to their own orders. Give us good men, and they will make us good laws, is the maxim of a demagog, and is (thro the alteration which is commonly perceivable in men, when they have power to work their own wills) exceeding fallible. But give us good orders, and they will make us good men, is the maxim of a legislator, and the most infallible in the politics.
But these divisions (however there be some good men that look sadly on them) are trivial things; first as to the civil concern, because the government, wherof this nation is capable, being once seen, takes in all interests. And, secondly, as to the spiritual; because as the pretence of religion has always bin turbulent in broken governments, so where the government has bin sound and steddy, religion has never shew’d it self with any other face than that of the natural sweetness and tranquillity: nor is there any reason why it should; wherfore the errors of the people are occasion’d by their governors.The errors of the people are from their governors. If they be doubtful of the way, or wander from it, it is because their guides misled them; and the guides of the people are never so well qualify’d for leading by any virtue of their own, as by that of the government.
The government of Oceana (as it stood at the time wherof we discourse, consisting of one single council of the people, exclusively of the king and the lords) was call’d a parlament: nevertheless the parlaments of the Teutons and of the Neustrians consisted, as has bin shewn, of the king, lords and commons; wherfore this under an old name was a new thing: a parlament consisting of a single assembly elected by the people, and invested with the whole power of the government, without any covenants, conditions, or orders whatsoever. So new a thing, that neither antient nor modern prudence can shew any avow’d example of the like. And there is scarce any thing that seems to me so strange as that (wheras there was nothing more familiar with these counsillors, than to bring the Scripture to the house) there should not be a man of them that so much as offer’d to bring the house to the Scripture, wherin, as has bin shewn, is contain’d that original, wherof all the rest of the commonwealths seem to be copys. Certainly if Leviathan (who is surer of nothing than that a popular commonwealth consists but of one council) transcrib’d his doctrin out of this assembly, for him to except against Aristotle and Cicero for writing out of their own commonwealths, was not so fair play; or if the parlament transcrib’d out of him, it had been an honor better due to Moses. But where one of them should have an example but from the other, I cannot imagin, there being nothing of this kind that I can find in story, but the oligarchy of Athens, the thirty tyrants of the same, and the Roman decemvirs.
Lib. 8.For the oligarchy, Thucydides tells us, that it was a senat or council of four hundred, pretending to a balancing council of the people consisting of five thousand, but not producing them; wherin you have the definition of an oligarchy, which is a single council both debating and resolving, dividing and chusing; and what that must com to, was shewn by the example of the girls, and is apparent by the experience of all times: wherfore the thirty set up by the Lacedemonians (when they had conquer’d Athens) are call’d tyrants by all authors, Leviathan only excepted, who will have them against all the world to have bin an aristocracy; but for what reason I cannot imagin, these also, as void of any balance, having been void of that which is essential to every commonwealth, whether aristocratical or popular; except he be pleas’d with them, because that, according to the testimony of Xenophon, they kill’d more men in eight months, than the Lacedemonians had don in ten years; oppressing the people (to use Sir Walter Raleigh’s words) with all base and intolerable slavery.
The usurp’d government of the decemvirs in Rome was of the same kind. Wherfore in the fear of God let Christian legislators (setting the pattern given in the mount on the one side, and these execrable examples on the other) know the right hand from the left; and so much the rather, because those things which do not conduce to the good of the govern’d, are fallacious, if they appear to be good for the governors. God, in chastising a people, is accustom’d to burn his rod. The empire of these oligarchys was not so violent as short, nor did they fall upon the people, but in their own immediat ruin. A council without a balance is not a commonwealth, but an oligarchy; and every oligarchy, except it be put to the defence of its wickedness or power against som outward danger, is factious. Wherfore the errors of the people being from their governors (which maxim in the politics bearing a sufficient testimony to it self, is also prov’d by Machiavel) if the people of Oceana have bin factious, the cause is apparent: but what remedy?
The generalsIn answer to this question, I com now to the army; of which the most victorious captain, and incomparable patriot, Olphaus Megaletor, was now general: who being a much greater master of that art wherof I have made a rough draught in these preliminarys, had such sad reflections upon the ways and procedings of the parlament, as cast him upon books, and all other means of diversion, among which he happen’d on this place of Machiavel: “Thrice happy is that people which chances to have a man able to give them such a government at once, as without alteration may secure them of their libertys; seeing it was certain that Lacedemon, in observing the laws of Lycurgus, continu’d about eight hundred years without any dangerous tumult or corruption.” My Lord General (as it is said of Themistocles, that he could not sleep for the glory obtain’d by Miltiades at the battel of Maratho) took so new and deep an impression at these words of the much greater glory of Lycurgus, that, being on this side assaulted with the emulation of his illustrious object, and on the other with the misery of the nation, which seem’d (as it were ruin’d by his victory) to cast itself at his feet, he was almost wholly depriv’d of his natural rest, till the debate he had within himself came to a firm resolution, that the greatest advantages of a commonwealth are, first, that the legislator should be one man: and, secondly, that the government should be made all together, or at once.Des. B. 1. c. 9. For the first, It is certain, says Machiavel, that a commonwealth is seldom or never well turn’d or constituted, except it has bin the work of one man; for which cause a wise legislator, and one whose mind is firmly set, not upon privat but the public interest, not upon his posterity but upon his country, may justly endeavour to get the soverain power into his own hands; nor shall any man that is master of reason blame such extraordinary means as in that case will be necessary, the end proving no other than the constitution of a well-order’d commonwealth.That a legislator is to be one. The reason of this is demonstrable: for the ordinary means not failing, the commonwealth has no need of a legislator; but the ordinary means failing, there is no recourse to be had but to such as are extraordinary. And, wheras a book or a building has not bin known to attain to its perfection, if it has not had a sole author or architect; a commonwealth, as to the fabric of it, is of the like nature.That a commonwealth is to be made at once. And thus it may be made at once; in which there be great advantages: for a commonwealth made at once, takes security at the same time it lends mony; and trusts not itself to the faith of men, but lanches immediatly forth into the empire of laws: and being set streight, brings the manners of its citizens to its rule; whence follow’d that uprightness which was in Lacedemon. But manners that are rooted in men, bow the tenderness of a commonwealth coming up by twigs to their bent; whence follow’d the obliquity that was in Rome, and those perpetual repairs by the consuls axes, and tribuns hammers, which could never finish that commonwealth but in destruction.
My Lord General being clear in these points, and of the necessity of som other course than would be thought upon by the parlament, appointed a meeting of the army, where he spoke his sense agreable to these preliminarys with such success to the soldiery, that the parlament was soon after depos’d; and he himself (in the great hall of the pantheon or palace of justice, situated in Emporium the capital city) was created by the universal suffrage of the army, Lord Archon, or sole legislator of Oceana: upon which theatre you have, to conclude this piece, a person introduc’d, whose fame shall never draw its curtain.
The Lord Archon being created, fifty select persons to assist him (by laboring in the mines of antient prudence, and bringing its hidden treasures to new light) were added, with the stile also of legislators, and sat as a council, wherof he was the sole director and president.
The Council of Legislators.
OF this piece, being the greater half of the whole work, I shall be able at this time to give no farther account, than very briefly to shew at what it aims.
My Lord Archon, in opening the council of legislators, made it appear how unsafe a thing it is to follow phansy in the fabric of a commonwealth; and how necessary that the archives of antient prudence should be ransack’d before any counsillor should presume to offer any other matter in order to the work in hand, or towards the consideration to be had by the council upon a model of government. Wherfore he caus’d an urn to be brought, and every one of the counsillors to draw a lot. By the lots as they were drawn,
These contain’d in them all those excellencys wherof a commonwealth is capable; so that to have added more, had bin to no purpose. Upon time given to the counsillors, by their own studys and those of their friends, to prepare themselves, they were open’d in the order, and by the persons mention’d at the council of legislators, and afterwards by order of the same were repeated at the council of the prytans to the people: for in drawing of the lots, there were about a dozen of them inscrib’d with the letter P. wherby the counsillors that drew them became prytans.
Theprytans were a committee or council sitting in the great hall of Pantheon, to whom it was lawful for any man to offer any thing in order to the fabrick of the commonwealth: for which cause, that they might not be opprest by the throng, there was a rail about the table wher they sat, and on each side of the same a pulpit; that on the right hand for any man that would propose any thing, and that on the left for any other that would oppose him. And all partys (being indemnify’d by proclamation of the Archon) were invited to dispute their own interests, or propose whatever they thought fit (in order to the future government) to the council of the prytans, (who having a guard of about two or three hundred men, lest the heat of dispute might break the peace) had the right of moderators, and were to report from time to time such propositions or occurrences as they thought fit, to the council of legislators sitting more privatly in the palace call’d Alma.
This was that which made the people (who were neither safely to be admitted, nor conveniently to be excluded in the framing of the commonwealth) verily believe when it came forth, that it was no other than that wherof they themselves had bin the makers.
Moreover, this council sat divers months after the publishing, and during the promulgation of the model to the people; by which means there is scarce any thing was said or written for or against the said model, but you shall have it with the next impression of this work, by way of oration addrest to, and moderated by the prytans.
By this means the council of legislators had their necessary solitude and due aim in their greater work, as being acquainted from time to time with the pulse of the people, and yet without any manner of interruption or disturbance.
Wherfore every commonwealth in its place having bin open’d by due method, that is, first, by the people; secondly, by the senat; and, thirdly, by the magistracy; the council upon mature debate took such results or orders out of each, and out of every part of each of them, as upon opening the same they thought fit; which being put from time to time in writing by the clerk or secretary, there remain’d no more in the conclusion, than putting the orders so taken together, to view and examin them with a diligent ey, that it might be clearly discover’d whether they did interfere, or could any wise com to interfere or jostle one with the other. For as such orders jostling, or coming to jostle one another, are the certain dissolution of the commonwealth; so taken upon the proof of like experience, and neither jostling, nor shewing which way they can possibly come to jostle one another, they make a perfect, and (for aught that in human prudence can be foreseen) an immortal commonwealth.
And such was the art wherby my Lord Archon (taking council of the commonwealth of Israel, as of Moses; and of the rest of the commonwealths, as of Jethro) fram’d the model of the commonwealth of Oceana.
[* ]Nemo nocetur nisi ex se.
[* ]Comitia cum populo sortitus est.
[‡ ]Neque id existimare debes autorem me tibi esse, ut tyrannidem in S. P. Q. R. in servitutem redactum teneas: quod neque dicere meum, neque facere tuum est.
[* ]Cornua nota prius vitulo, quám frontibus extant.
[* ]Quòd nemo plebeius auspicia haberet.
[† ]Piebs ad d maximâ indignatione exa[Editor: illegible character]sit quod auspicari, tanquam invisi Diis immortalibus, negarentur posse. T. Liv. 4. 8.