Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XII.: Whether Courses or a Rotation be necessary to a well-order'd Commonwealth. In which is contain'd the Courses or Parembole of Israel before the Captivity, together with the Epitome of Athens and Venice. - The Oceana and Other Works
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CHAP. XII.: Whether Courses or a Rotation be necessary to a well-order’d Commonwealth. In which is contain’d the Courses or Parembole of Israel before the Captivity, together with the Epitome of Athens and Venice. - 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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Whether Courses or a Rotation be necessary to a well-order’d Commonwealth. In which is contain’d the Courses or Parembole of Israel before the Captivity, together with the Epitome of Athens and Venice.
ONE bout more and we have don: this (as reason good) will be upon wheels or rotation: for,
Oceana, p. 51.As the agrarian answers to the equality of the foundation or root, so dos rotation to the equality of the superstructures or branches of a commonwealth.
Equal rotation is equal vicissitude in, or succession to magistracy confer’d for equal terms, injoining such equal vacations, as cause the government to take in the body of the people, by parts succeding others, thro the free election or suffrage of the whole.
The contrary wherto is prolongation of magistracy, which, trashing the wheel of rotation, destroys the life or natural motion of a commonwealth.
The prevaricator, whatever he has don for himself, has don this for me, that it will be out of doubt whether my principles be capable of greater obligation or confirmation, than by having objections made against them. Nor have I bin altogether ingrateful, or nice of my labor, but gon far (much farther than I needed) about, that I might return with the more valuable present to him that sent me on the errand: I shall not be short of like proceeding upon the present subject, but rather over.
Rotation in a commonwealth is of the magistracy, of the senat, of the people; of the magistracy and the people; of the magistracy and the senat; or of the magistracy, of the senat, and of the people: which in all com to six kinds.
For example of rotation in the magistracy, you have the judg of Israel, call’d in Hebrew Shophet.Grot. The like magistracy after the kings Ithobal and Baal came in use with the Tyrians; from these, with their posterity the Carthaginians, who also call’d their supreme magistrats, being in number two, and for their term annual, shophetim, which the Latins by a softer pronunciation render suffetes.
Theshophet or judg of Israel was a magistrat, not, that I can find, oblig’d to any certain term, throout the book of Judges; nevertheless, it is plain, that his election was occasional, and but for a time, after the manner of a dictator.
True it is, that Eli and Samuel rul’d all their lives; but upon this such impatience in the people follow’d, thro the corruption of their sons, as was the main cause of the succeding monarchy.
The magistrats in Athens (except the Areopagits, being a judicatory) were all upon rotation. The like for Lacedemon and Rome, except the kings in the former, who were indeed hereditary, but had no more power than the duke in Venice, where all the rest of the magistrats (except the procuratori, whose magistracy is but mere ornament) are also upon rotation.
Pol. l. 2. c. 7.For the rotation of the senat you have Athens, the Achæans, Ætolians, Lycians, the Amphictionium; and the senat of Lacedemon reprov’d, in that it was for life, by Aristotle:Chap. XII. modern examples of like kind are the diet of Switzerland, but especially the senat of Venice.
For the rotation of the people, you have first Israel, where the congregation (which the Greecs call ecclesia; the Latins, comitia, or concio) having a twofold capacity; first, that of an army, in which they were the constant guard of the country; and secondly, that of a representative, in which they gave the vote of the people, at the creation of their laws, or election of their magistrats, was monthly.1 Chron. 27. 1.Now the children of Israel after their number, to wit, the chief fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds, and their officers that serv’d the king in any matter of the courses, which came in, and went out month by month, throout all the months of the year, of every course were twenty and four thousand.
Grot. ad loc.Such a multitude there was of military age, that without inconvenience, four and twenty thousand were every month in arms, whose term expiring, others succeded, and so others; by which means the rotation of the whole people came about in the space of one year. The tribuns, or commanders of the tribes in arms, or of the prerogative for the month, are nam’d in the following part of the chapter, to the sixteenth verse; where begins the enumeration of the princes (tho Gad and Ashur, for what reason I know not, be omitted) of the tribes, remaining in their provinces, where they judg’d the people, and as they receiv’d orders, were to bring or send such farther inforcement or recruits as occasion requir’d to the army: after these, some other officers are mention’d. There is no question to be made but this rotation of the people, together with their prerogative or congregation, was preserv’d by the monthly election of two thousand deputys in each of the twelve tribes, which in all came to four and twenty thousand; or let any man shew how otherwise it was likely to be don, the nature of their office being to give the vote of the people, who therfore sure must have chosen them. By these the vote of the people was given to their laws, and at elections of their magistrats.
1 Chron. 13.To their laws, as where David proposes the reduction of the ark: andDavidconsulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. AndDavidsaid to all the congregation of Israel, If it seems good to you, and it be of the Lord God, let us send abroad to our brethren every where (the princes of tribes in their provinces) that are left in the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites, which are in the citys and suburbs, that they may gather themselves to us; and let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we inquir’d not at it in the days ofSaul.And all the eongregation (gave their suffrage in the affirmative) said that they would do so; for the thing was right in the eys of the people.Grot. e Tertul.Nulla lex sibi soli conscientiam justitiæ suæ debet, sed eis a quibus obsequium expectat. Now that the same congregation or representative gave the vote of the people also in the election of priests, officers and magistrats;1 Chron. 25.moreoverDavidand the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons ofAsaph,and ofHeman,and ofJethudun,who should prophesy with harps, with psalterys, and with cymbals.1 Chron. 28. 2. But upon the occasion to which we are more especially beholden for the preservation and discovery of this admirable order (David having propos’d the business in a long and pious speech) the congregation madeSolomonthe son ofDavidking the second time,1 Chron. 29. 22.and anointed him to the Lord to be chief governor, andZadokto be priest.1 Kings 1. For as to the first time that Solomon was made king, it happen’d, thro the sedition of Adonijah, to have been don in hast and tumultuously by those only of Jerusalem; and the reason why Zadok is here made priest, is, that Abiathar was put out for being of the conspiracy with Adonijah.
I may expect (by such objections as they afford me) it should be alleg’d, that to prove an order in a commonwealth, I instance in a monarchy; as if there were any thing in this order monarchical, or that it could, if it had not bin so receiv’d from the commonwealth, have bin introduc’d by the kings, to whom in the judgment of any sober man (the prevaricator only excepted, who has bin huckling about som such council for his prince) no less could have follow’d upon the first frown of the people, than did in Rehoboam, who having us’d them roughly, was depos’d by the congregation, or the major part.1 Kings 12. It is true, that while Israel was an army, the congregation, as it needed not to assemble by way of election or representative, so I believe it did not; but that by all Israel assembl’d to this end, should be meant the whole people after they were planted upon their lots, and not their representative, which in a political sense is as properly so call’d, were absurd and impossible. Nor need I go upon presumtion only, be the same never so strong, seeing it is said in Scripture of the Korathites, that they were keepers of the gates of the tabernacle, and their fathers being over the host of the Lord, were keepers of the entry:1 Chron. 9. 29. that is, (according to the interpretation of Grotius) the Korathites were now keepers of the gates, as it appears in the book of Numbers, their ancestors the Kohathites had bin in the camp, or while Israel was yet an army.Numb. 4. But our translation is lame in the right foot, as to the true discovery of the antient manner of this service, which according to the Septuagint and the vulgar Latin was thus, they were keepers of the gates of the tabernacle (ϗ πατέρες ἀυτων ἐπὶ τῆς παρεμβολῆς, & familiæ eorum per vices) and their fathers by turns, or rotation. So that offices and services by courses, turns, or rotation, are plainly more antient than kings in the commonwealth of Israel, tho it be true that when the courses or rotation of the congregation or representative of the people were first introduc’d, is as hard to shew, as it would be how, after the people were once planted upon their lots, they could be otherwise assembl’d. If writers argue well and lawfully from what the sanhedrim was in the institution by Jehosaphat, to what it had more antiently bin; to argue from what the congregation was in the institution by David, to what it had more antiently bin, is sufficiently warranted.
These things rightly consider’d, there remains little doubt but we have the courses of Israel for the first example of rotation in a popular assembly. Now to com from the Hebrew to the Grecian prudence, the same is approv’d by Aristotle, which he exemplifys in the commonwealth of Thales Milesius, where the people, he says, assembl’d (το ϰατα μέρ[Editor: illegible character], ἀλλὰ μὴ πάντας ἀθρόους) by turns or rotation.Pol. l. 4. c. 14. Nor is the Roman prudence without som shadow of the like proceding, where the prerogative (pro tempore) with the jure vocatæ being made by lot, gave frequently the suffrage of the whole people. But the Gothic prudence in the policy of the third state, runs altogether upon the collection of a representative by the suffrage of the people (tho not so diligently regulated, by terms and vacations, as to a standing assembly were necessary, by turns, rotation, parembole or courses) as in the election of the late house of commons, and the constitutive vicissitude of the knights and burgesses, is known by sufficient experience.
When the rotation of a commonwealth is both in the magistracy and the people, I reckon it to be of a fourth kind, as in Israel, where both the judg and the congregation were so elected.
The fifth kind is when the rotation of a commonwealth is in the magistracy and the senat, as in those of Athens, of the Achæans, of the Ætolians, of the Lycians, and of Venice; upon which examples, rather for the influence each of them, at least Athens, may have upon the following book, than any great necessity from the present occasion, I shall inlarge in this place.
The commonwealth of Athens, was thus administer’d:
Epitome of the Athenia commonwealth.Thesenat of the bean being the proposing assembly (for that of the Areopagits, call’d also a senat, was a judicatory) consisted of four hundred citizens chosen by lot, which was perform’d with beans. These were annually remov’d all at once: by which means Athens became frustrated of the natural and necessary use of an aristocracy, while neither her senators were chosen for their parts, nor remain’d long enough in this function to acquire the right understanding of their proper office. These thus elected, were subdivided by lot into four equal parts, call’d Prytanys, each of which for one quarter of the year was in office. The Prytany, or Prytans in office, elected ten presidents, call’d proedri, out of which proedri or presidents they weekly chose one provost of the council, who was call’d the epistata. The epistata and the proedri were the more peculiar proposers to the Prytans, and to the Prytans it belong’d especially to prepare business (ϖρὸ της βȣλῆς ϗ ϖρὸ τῆς ἐϰϰλησίας) for the senat.Petit. de Leg. Att. They gave also audience to any that would propose any thing concerning the commonwealth, which if, when reported by the Prytans, it were approv’d by the senat, the party that propos’d might promulgat the business; and promulgation being made, the congregation assembl’d, and determin’d of it.Cic. pro Flac.Sic data concio Lælio est, processit ille, & Græcus apud Græcos non de culpa sua dixit, sed de pœna questus est; porrexerunt manus, Psephisma natum est.
ThePrytans and their magistrats had right to assemble the senat, and propose to them; and what the senat determin’d upon such a proposition, if forthwith to be offer’d to the people, as in privat cases, was call’d proboulema; but if not to be propos’d till the people had a year’s trial of it, as was the ordinary way in order to laws to be enacted, it was call’d psephisma; each of which words, with that difference, signifys a decree. A decree of the senat in the latter sense had for one year the power of a law, after which trial it belong’d to the thesmothetæ (προγράϕειν) to hang it in writing upon the statues of the heros, and assemble the congregation.Ulpian ad These magistrats were of the number of the Archons, which in all were nine;Phil. 1. the chief, more peculiarly so call’d, was Archon Eponymus,Poll. l. 8. c. 8. he by whose name the year was reckon’d or denominated (his magistracy being of a civil concernment) the next was the king (a magistrat of a spiritual concernment) the third the polemarch (whose magistracy was of a military concernment) the other six were the thesmothetæ, who had several functions common with the nine; others peculiar or proper to themselves, as (προγϱάφειν) to give the people (by placarts) notice when the judicatorys were to assemble, that is, when the people were to assemble in that capacity, and to judg according to the law made; or, when the senat or the people were to assemble upon an ἀισα｢γελία, a crime that was not provided against by the law, as that of Alcibiades (the wits about that time in Athens being most of them Atheists) for laughing at Ceres, discovering her secrets, and shaving of the Mercurys. If an Archon or Demagog was guilty of such a crime, it belong’d to the cognizance of the senat, otherwise to that of the people whom the thesmothetæ were also in like manner to warn, when they were to com to the suffrage.L. 8. c. 16.
These six, like the electors in Venice, presided at all elections of magistrats whether made by the lot as the judges, or by suffrage as the new archons, the strategus or general, and most of the rest. They also had the hearing and introducing of all causes into the judicatorys.
But the right of assembling the ecclesia or congregation belong’d to the Prytans, by whom the senat propos’d to the people.
The congregation consisted of all them that were upon the roll of the lexiarcha, that is to say, of the whole people having right to the city The Prytans seated upon a tribunal, were presidents of this assembly; the assembly having sacrific’d and made oath of fidelity to the commonwealth, the proedri or presidents of the Prytans propos’d by authority of the senat to the people in this manner: July the 16th Policlesbeing archon, and the tribe of Pandion in the prytaneat,Demosthenes Pæaneusthought thus, or was of this opinion. The same custom wherby the first proposer subscribes his opinion or part with his name, is at this day in Venice. Proposition being made, such of the people as would speak were call’d to the pulpit; they that were fifty years of age, or upwards, were to com first, and the younger afterwards; which custom of prating in this manner made excellent orators or demagogs, but a bad commonwealth.
From this, that the people had not only the result of the commonwealth, but the debate also, Athens is call’d a democracy; and this kind of government is oppos’d to that of Lacedemon, which, because the people there had not the power of debate, but of result only, was call’d an aristocracy, somtimes an oligarchy: thus the Greecs commonly are to be understood, to distinguish these two; while according to my principles, if you like them, debate in the people makes anarchy; and where they have the result and no more, the rest being manag’d by a good aristocracy it makes that which is properly and truly to be call’d democracy, or popular government. Neither is this opinion of mine new, but according to the judgment of som of the Athenians themselves; for says Isocrates in his oration to the areopagits for reformation of the Athenian government, I know the main reason why the Lacedemonians flourish to be, that their commonwealth is popular. But to return. As many of the people as would, having shew’d their eloquence, and with these the demagogs, who were frequently brib’d, conceal’d their knavery; the epistata, or provost of the proedri, put the decree or question to the vote, and the people gave the result of the commonwealth by their chirotonia, that is, by holding up their hands: the result thus given, was the law or psephisma of the people.
Dem. Phil. 1.Now for the functions of the congregation, they were divers; as first, election of magistrats (ὀυϰ ἐχειϱοτονεῖτε δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν ἀυτῶν δέϰα Ταξιάρχους ϗ Στρατηγοὺς ϗ Φυλάϱχους, ϗ Ἱππάρχους δύο;) namely, the archons, the strategus or general, the field officers, the admirals, with divers others, all, or the chief of them annual, and commonly upon terms and vacations; tho it be true, as Plutarch has it, that Phocion was strategus four years together, having that honor still put upon him by the congregation, without his seeking. The next office of this assembly was to elect judges into five courts or judicatorys; for the people being in the bulk too unwieldy a body for the performance of this duty, they exercis’d the supreme judicature by way of representative, into which election was made by lottery, in such a manner that five hundred, one thousand, or 1500 of them (according to the importance of the occasion) being above thirty years of age, and within the rest of the qualifications in that case provided by the law, became the soverain judicatory, call’d the heliæa. In all elections, whether by lot or suffrage, the thesmothetæ were presidents, and order’d the congregation. Furthermore, if they would amend, alter, repeal, or make a law, this also was don by a representative, of which no man was capable that had not bin of the heliæa, for the rest elected out of the whole people: this amounting to one thousand, was call’d the nomothetæ or legislators. No law receiv’d by the people could be abrogated but by the nomothetæ; by these any Athenian, having obtain’d leave of the senat, might abrogat a law, provided withal he put another in the place of it. These laws the proedri of the Prytans were to put to the suffrage.
First, the old, whether it agreed with the Athenian people, or not? then the new; and whether of these happen’d to be chirotoniz’d or voted by the nomothetæ, was ratify’d, according to that piece of the Athenian law cited by Demosthenes against Timocrates, ὁϖότεϱον δ’ ἀν τῶν νόμων χειϱοτονήσωσιν ὁι νομοϑέται, τ[Editor: illegible character]τον ϰύϱιον εἶναι. What has bin said of the commonwealth of Athens, in relation to the present purpose, amounts to thus much, that not only the senat and the magistracy in this policy was upon rotation, but even the people also, at least as to the nomothetæ, or their legislative power, and the supreme judicatory of the heliæa, each of these being a representative, constituted of one thousand, or fifteen hundred citizens.
But for what follows in the second book, it is necessary that I observe in this place the proceding of certain divines, who indeavour to make use of this commonwealth for ends of their own, as particularly Dr. Seaman; who in his book call’d Four Propositions, argues after this manner:
CHIROTONIA (as Suidas has it) signifys both plebiscitum, a law made by the people, and psephisma. Now, say he, psephisma is the ordinary word us’d in the Attic laws, and in Demosthenes for senatusconsultum, a law made by the senat: whence he draws this conclusion; as, when the people make a law, they are said to chirotonize; so may the rulers, in like manner, in those laws that are made by themselves alone.
These ways with divines are too bad. The words of Suidas are these (χειροτονία, ἐϰλογη, ϖάντων ϰύρωσις) chirotonia is election or ratification by the many: which expresly excludes the few or the senat from being otherwise contain’d by the word chirotonia, than a part is by the whole. Nor has the author the word psephisma, or plebiscitum in the place. I would fain know what other word there is in Greec for plebiscitum but psephisma; and yet the doctor puts it upon Suidas, that he distinguishes between these two, and taking that for granted where he finds psephisma in Demosthenes and the Attic laws, will have it to signify no more than a decree of the senat. It is true that som decrees of the senat were so call’d, but those of the people had no other name; and whenever you find psephisma in Demosthenes or the Attic laws, for a law, there is nothing more certain than that it is to be understood of the people: for to say that a law in a popular commonwealth can be made without the people, is a contradiction.
Poll. lib. 8. c. 9.The second passage is a What think you of these words of Pollux, ἰδία δὲ ὅι μὲν ϑετμοϑέται προγράφȣσι, ϖότε δεῖ διϰάζειν τὰ διϰαστήρια, ϗ τὰς εισαґγελίας εἰσαґγέλλȣσιν εἰς τον δῆμον ϗ τας χειροτονίς. Which the doctor having english’d in this manner, the thesmothetæ do privatly prescribe when judgment is to be given, and promulge public accusations and suffrages to the people, asks you whose suffrages were these, if not the rulers? by which strange construction, where Pollux having first related in what part the function of the thesmothetæ was common with that of the nine archons, coms (ἰδία δὲ) to shew you what was peculiar to themselves, namely, to give notice when the heliæa or other judicatorys were to assemble; the doctor renders it, they do privatly prescribe: as if the session of a court of justice, and such a one as contain’d a thousand judges, being the representative of the whole people, were to be privatly prescrib’d. Then to this privat prescribing of justice, he adds, that they do publicly promulge (εἰσαґγελίας) citations upon crimes not within the written law: as if privat prescription and public promulgation could stand together. Next, wheras promulgation in the very nature of the word signifys an act before a law made, he presumes the law to be first made by the rulers, and then promulgated by the thesmothetæ to the people, kim kam to the experience of all commonwealths, the nature of promulgation, and the sense of his author, whose words, as I shew’d before, declare it to have bin the proper or peculiar office of the thesmothetæ to give the people notice when they were to assemble for judicature, or when for giving their chirotonia or suffrage, by promulgation of the cause (εἰς τὸν δῆμον) upon which they were to determin.
For the fourth passage, the doctor quoting a wrong place for these words, χειϱοτονήσωσιν ὁι νομοϑεται, that the nomothetæ (being a representative, as I shew’d, of the whole people, chosen by lot, and in number one thousand) chirotoniz’d, or gave the legistative suffrage; thence infers, that the rulers chirotoniz’d, voted or made laws by themselves without the people: which is as if one should say, that the prerogative tribe in Rome, or the house of commons in England, gave their vote to such or such a law, therfore it was made by the rulers alone, and not by the people of Rome or of England.
For the fourth passage, Stephanus quotes Demosthenes at large in these words, ὄυτε βȣλῆς, ὄυτε δήμȣ χειροτονήσαντος ἀυτόν. This the doctor interprets of an officer; to which I shall say more, when he shews me where the sentence is, or what went before: for as yet I do not know of an officer in any commonwealth, whose election was indifferently made, either by the senat or by the people; nor do I think the doctor has look’d further for this than Stephens, who has not interpreted it.
The fifth passage is, that a decree of the senat in Athens had the force of a law for one year, without the people. So had the edicts of the prætors in Rome: but I would fain know, whence the senat in Athens, or the prætors in Rome, originally deriv’d this right (which was no more than that such laws might be probationers, and so better understood when they came to the vote) but from the chirotonia, or suffrage of the people.
The sixth passage stops the mouths of such as having nothing to say to the matter of my writing, pick quarrels with the manner or freedom of it, the liberty I take in the defence of truth; seeing the doctor takes a greater liberty upon other terms, while he bids his antagonist (one that defended the cause now in my hand) go and consult his authors, namely Stephens and Budæus again: for, says he, you wrong those learned men, while you would have us believe that they were as ignorant of the Greec story as yourself, or that things are to be found in them which are not. To which confidence I have better leave to say, that the doctor should do well to take no worse counsil than he gives.
But what is becom of my prevaricator? I have quite lost him, else I should have intreated him to compare his notes out of my sermon, with these out of the doctors; or retract that same affectation, in saying, I know not how, but Mr.Harringtonhas conceiv’d a great unkindness for the clergy. As if these their stratagems, with which they make perpetual war against the unwary people, did not concern a man that has undertaken the cause of popular government.
The policy of the Achæans consisted of divers commonwealths under one, which was thus administer’d. The citys sent their deputys twice every year of course, and oftner if they were summon’d by their strategus, or their demiurges, to the place appointed. The strategus was the supreme magistrat both military and civil, and the demiurges being ten, were his council, all annual magistrats elected by the people. This council thus constituted, was call’d the synarchy, and perform’d like dutys, in relation to the senat, consisting of the deputys sent by their peculiar soveraintys or citys, as the Prytans to that in Athens. The policys of the Ætolians and Lycians are so near the same again, that in one you have all. So both the senats and the magistracy of these commonwealths were upon rotation. To conclude with Venice.
Epitome of the commonwealth of Venice.The commonwealth of Venice consists of four parts; the great council, the senat, the college, and the signory.
The great council is the aggregat body of the whole people, or citizens of Venice, which, for the paucity of their number,The great council. and the antiquity of their extraction, are call’d gentlemen, or noble Venetians. Every one of them at five and twenty years of age has right of session and suffrage in this council; which right of suffrage, because throout this commonwealth, in all debates and elections, it is given by the ballot, is call’d the right of balloting, wherby this council being the soverain power, creates all the rest of the orders, councils, or magistracys; and has constitutively the ultimat result, both in cases of judicature, and the constitution of laws.
The senat.The senat, call’d also the pregati, consists of sixty senators properly so stil’d, wherof the great council elects six on a day, beginning so long before the month of October, that these being all chosen by that time, then receive their magistracy: it consists also of sixty more, call’d the junta, which are elected by the scrutiny of the old senat, that is, by the senat proposing, and the great council resolving; the rest of their creation is after the same manner with the former. In the sixty of the senat, there cannot be above three of any one kindred or family, nor in the junta so many, unless there be fewer in the former. These magistracys are all annual, but without interval, so that it is at the pleasure of the great council, whether a senator having finish’d his year, they will elect him again.
The college.The college is a council consisting more especially of three orders of magistrats call’d in their language savi; as the savi grandi, to whose cognizance or care belong the whole affairs of sea and land; the savi di terra ferma, to whose care and cognizance belong the affairs of the land; and the savi di mare, to whose cognizance appertain the affairs of the sea, and of the ilands. These are elected by the senat, not all at once, but for the savi grandi, who are six, by three at a time, with the interposition of three months; and for the savi di terra ferma, and the savi di mare, who are each five, after the same manner, save only that the first election consists of three, and the second of two. Each order of the savi elects weekly one provost, each of which provosts has right in any affair belonging to the cognizance of his order, to propose to the college. Audience of embassadors, and matters of foren negotiation, belong properly to this council.
The signory.The signory consists of the duke and of his counsillors. The duke is a magistrat created by the great council for life, to whom the commonwealth acknowleges the reverence due to a prince, and all her acts run in his name; tho without the counsillors he has no power at all, while they can perform any function of the signory without him. The counsillors, whose magistracy is annual, are elected by the scrutiny of the senat, naming one out of each tribe (for the city is locally divided into six tribes) and the great council approving; so the counsillors are six, whose function in part is of the nature of masters of requests, having withal power to grant certain privileges: but their greatest preeminence is, that all, or any one of them may propose to any council in the commonwealth.
Certain rights of the councils.The signory has session and suffrage in the college, the college has session and suffrage in the senat, and the senat has session and suffrage in the great council. The signory, or the provosts of the savi, have power to assemble the college, the college has power to assemble the senat, and the senat has power to assemble the great council; the signiori, but more peculiarly the provosts of the savi, in their own offices and functions, have power to propose to the college, the college has power to propose to the senat, and the senat has power to propose to the great council. Whatever is thus propos’d and resolv’d, either by the senat (for somtimes thro the security of this order, a proposition gos no further) or by the great council, is ratify’d, or becoms the law of the commonwealth. Over and above these orders, they have three judicatorys, two civil and one criminal, in each of which forty gentlemen elected by the great council are judges for the term of eight months; to these judicatorys belong the avogadori and the auditori, who are magistrats, having power to hear causes apart, and, as they judge fitting, to introduce them into the courts.
If a man tells me, that I omit many things, he may perceive I write an epitome, in which no more should be comprehended, than that which understood may make a man understand the rest. But of these principal parts consists the whole body of admirable Venice.
Theconsiglio de’ dieci, or council of ten, being that which partakes of dictatorian power, is not a limb of her, but as it were a sword in her hand. This council (in which the signory has also session and suffrage) consists more peculiarly of ten annual magistrats, created by the great council, who afterwards elect three of their own number by lot, which so elected are call’d capi de’ dieci, their magistracy being monthly: again, out of the three capi, one is taken by lot, whose magistracy is weekly: this is he, who over against the tribunal in the great council sits like another duke, and is call’d the provost of the dieci. It belongs to these three magistrats to assemble the council of ten, which they are oblig’d to do weekly of course, and oftner as they see occasion. The council being assembled, any one of the signory, or two of the capi may propose to it: the power which they now exercise (and wherin for their assistance they create three magistrats call’d the grand inquisitors) consists in the punishment of certain heinous crimes, especially that of treason; in relation wherto they are as it were sentinels, standing upon the guard of the commonwealth: but constitutively (with the addition of a junta, consisting of other fifteen, together with some of the chief magistrats having right in cases of important speed or secrecy to this council) they have the full and absolute power of the whole commonwealth as dictator.
ThatVenice either transcrib’d the whole and every part of her constitution out of Athens and Lacedemon, or happens to be fram’d as if she had so don, is most apparent. The result of this commonwealth is in the great council, and the debate in the senat; so was it in Lacedemon. A decree made by the senat of Athens had the power of a law for one year without the people, at the end wherof the people might revoke it: a decree of the senat of Venice stands good without the great council, unless these see reason to revoke it. The Prytans were a council preparing business for the senat; so is the Collegio in Venice: the presidents of the Prytans were the ten Proedri; those of the Collegio are the three provosts of the Savi. The archons or princes of Athens being nine, had a kind of soverain inspection upon all the orders of the commonwealth; so has the signory of Venice, consisting of nine besides the duke. The quarancys in Venice are judicatorys of the nature of the Heliæa in Athens; and as the Thesmothetæ heard and introduc’d the causes into that judicatory, so do the Avogadori and the Auditori into these. The Consiglio de’ Dieci in Venice is not of the body, but an appendix of the commonwealth; so was the court of the Ephori in Lacedemon: and as these had power to put a king, a magistrat, or any delinquent of what degree soever to death, so has the Consiglio de’ Dieci. This again is wrought up with the Capi de’ Dieci, and the weekly provost, as were the Prytans with the Proedri, and the weekly Epistata; and the ballot is lineally descended from the bean: yet is Venice in the whole, and in every part, a far more exquisit policy than either Athens or Lacedemon.
A political is like a natural body. Commonwealths resemble and differ, as men resemble and differ; among whom you shall not see two faces, or two dispositions, that are alike. Peter and Thomas in all their parts are equally men, and yet Peter and Thomas of all men may be the most unlike; one may have his greater strength in his arms, the other in his legs; one his greater beauty in his soul, the other in his body; one may be a fool, the other wise; one valiant, the other cowardly. These two, which at a distance you will not know one from the other, when you look nearer, or com to be better acquainted with, you will never mistake. Our considerer (who in his epistle would make you believe that Oceana is but a mere transcription out of Venice) has companions like himself; and how near they look into matters of this nature is plain, while one knows not Jethro from Moses, and the other takes a state of civil war to be the best model of a civil government.
Let a man look near, and he shall not find any one order in Oceana (the ballot only excepted) that has not as much difference from, or resemblance to any one order in Rome or Venice, as any one order in Rome or Venice has from, or to any one order in Athens or Lacedemon: which different temper of the parts must of necessity in the whole yield a result, a soul or genius, altogether new in the world, as imbracing both the arms of Rome, and the counsils of Venice; and yet neither obnoxious to the turbulency of the one, nor the narrowness of the other.
But the sum of what has bin said of Venice, as to the business in hand, coms to no more than that the senat and the magistracy of this commonwealth are upon rotation. No more: nay I am well if it coms to so much. For the prevaricator catching me up, where I say, that for all this the greater magistracys in Venice are continually wheel’d thro a few hands, tells me, that I have confest it to be otherwise.Consid. p. 93. I have indeed confest, that tho the magistracys are all confer’d for certain terms, yet those terms do not necessitat vacations; that is, the term of a magistracy being expir’d, the party that bore it is capable upon a new election of bearing it again without interval or vacation: which does not altogether frustrat the rotation of the commonwealth, tho it renders the same very imperfect. This infirmity of Venice derives from a complication of causes, none of which is incident to a commonwealth consisting of the many: wherfore there lys no obligation upon me to discover the reason in this place. But on the contrary, seeing, let me shew things never so new, they are slighted as old, I have an obligation in this place, to try whether I may get esteem by concealing something. What is said, every body knew before; this is not said, who knows it?
A riddle.Riddle me, riddle me, what is this? The magistracys in Venice (except such as are rather of ornament than of power) are all annual, or at most biennial. No man whose term is expir’d, can hold his magistracy longer, but by a new election. The elections are most of them made in the great council, and all by the ballot, which is the most equal and impartial way of suffrage. And yet the greater magistracys are perpetually wheel’d thro a few hands.
If I be worthy to give advice to a man that would study the politics, let him understand Venice; he that understands Venice right, shall go nearest to judg (notwithstanding the difference that is in every policy) right of any government in the world. Now the assault of the considerer deriving but from som pique or emulation which of us should be the abler politician, if the council of state had the curiosity to know either that, or who understands Venice, this riddle would make the discovery; for he that cannot easily unfold this riddle, dos not understand her.
The sixth kind of rotation is when a commonwealth gos upon it in all her orders, senat, people, and magistracy. Such a one taking in the many, and being fix’d upon the foot of a steady agrarian, has attain’d to perfect equality. But of this an example there is none, or you must accept of Oceana.
Rotation of Oceana.The rotation of Oceana is of two parts, the one of the electors which is annual, and the other of the elected which is triennial.
Speaking of electors in this sense, I mean as the great council in Venice are electors of all other orders, councils or magistrats. But the commonwealth of Oceana taking in the whole people, cannot, as dos the great council of Venice (wherin they that have right are but a few) attain to this capacity at one step: for which cause she takes three steps; one at the parishes, where every fifth elder is annually elected by the whole people. There is no doubt but there was som such order in Israel wherby the monthly rotation of her congregation or prerogative, by election of two thousand in each tribe, was preserv’d. The next step she takes is at the hundred, where by election of officers and magistrats, the troops chosen at the parishes, are very near form’d. Her third step is at the tribe, where the whole body of her deputys are in an exact form, disciplin and function, headed by proper officers and magistrats, these all together consisting of one fifth part of the whole people. This rotation being in itself annual, coms in regard of the body of the people to be quinquennial, or such as in the space of five years give every man his turn in the power of election.
But tho every man be so capable of being an elector, that he must have his turn; yet every man is not so capable of being elected into those magistracys that are soverain, or have the leading of the whole commonwealth, that it can be safe to lay a necessity that every man must take his turn in these also; but it is enough that every man, who in the judgment and conscience of his country is fit, may take his turn. Wherfore upon the conscience of the electors, so constituted as has bin shewn, it gos to determin who shall partake of soverain magistracy, or be at the assembly of a tribe elected into the senat or prerogative; which assemblys are so triennial, that one third part of each falling every year, and another being elected, the parlament is therby perpetuated.
Consid. p. 90.Such was the constitution of those councils which the prevaricator has confest he always thought admirable, but now the toy takes him to be quite of another mind; for, says he, That antient republics have thro a malicious jealousy (let them take it among them) made it unlawful even for persons of the clearest merit to continue long in command, but have by perpetual vicissitude substituted new men in the government, is manifest enough; but with what success they did this, will best appear byVeturius, Varro,andMancinus. He is still admirable: one would wonder what he means; if it be that there were but three weak or unfortunat generals in the whole course of Rome, how strange is it to urge this as an argument against rotation, which is as strong a one as can be urg’d for rotation? If the Romans by this way of election having experience of an able general, knew ever after where to have him; or lighting upon one they found not so fit for their purpose, could in the compass of one year be rid of him of course, without dishonor or reproach to him, taking therby a warning to come no more there; was this a proceeding to favor malice? or such a one as, removing the cause of malice, left no root for such a branch or possibility of like effect? Certainly by this assertion the prevaricator has jolted his presumptuous head not only against the prudence of antient commonwealths, but of God himself in that of Israel.Veturius, Varro, and Mancinus (tho som of them cannot be at all points excus’d) by this mark upon them, may be thought hardlier of than is needful; for which cause there being that also in their storys, which is neither unpleasant nor unprofitable, I shall indeavor to make the reader somwhat better acquainted with them.Liv. l. 9. One of the greatest blows Rome ever receiv’d was by Pontius, captain general of the Samnits, who having drawn her consuls, Posthumius and Veturius, by stratagem into the straits of Caudium, a vally of narrow entrance, and shut up the mouth of it by possessing himself of the only passage, the rest being inviron’d with insuperable rocks, the Samnit came to have both the armys, and so upon the matter the whole strength (in those days) of Rome inevitably at his discretion. Hereupon, having leisure, and being desirous (in a matter of such moment) of good advice, he dispatch’d a messenger to his father Herennius, the ablest counsillor in Samnium, to know what might be his best course with the Romans now inavoidably at his mercy, who answer’d, that he should open the pass and let them return untouch’d. The young general, amaz’d at this counsil, desir’d farther direction: wherupon Herennius for the second time made answer, that he should cut them off to a man. But the general, upon the strange disagreement of such opinions, having his father’s age (for he was very old) in suspicion, took a third course, which neither (according to the first advice of wise Herennius) making friends, nor, according to the second, destroying enemys, became, as he prophesy’d, the utter ruin of the commonwealth of Samnium. For the Romans being dismist safe, but ignominiously, the senat upon their return fell into the greatest strait and consternation that had bin known among them. On the one side, to live and not revenge such an affront was intolerable; on the other, to revenge it was against the faith of the consuls, whose necessity (the loss of two armys depending upon it) had in truth forc’d them to accept of a dishonorable league with the Samnits. Now not the armys, but the senat it self was in Caudium, not a man of them could find the way out of this vale inviron’d with rocks, but he only that could not find it out of the other; Posthumius, who having first shew’d, that neither war nor peace could be so made, as to ingage the commonwealth (injuffu populi) without the command of the people, declar’d that the senat returning the consuls, with such others as had consented to so wicked and dishonorable a peace, naked, and bound to the Samnits; were free: nor ceas’d he till the senat (therto prest by the necessity of the commonwealth) resolving accordingly, he, Veturius, and som of the tribuns were deliver’d to the Samnits; who, nevertheless, to hold the Romans to their league, dismist them with safety. The disputes on either side that arose hereupon, and, coming to arms, ended with the destruction of Samnium, I omit. That which as to the present occasion is material, is the reputation of the consuls; and Veturius, tho he were not the leading man, being for the rest as deep in the action as Posthumius, the people were so far from thinking themselves deceiv’d in this choice, that the consuls were more honour’d in Rome for having lost, than Pontius in Samnium for having won the day at Caudium.
I do not rob graves, nor steal windingsheets; my controversys are not but with the living, with none of these that have not shew’d themselves best able for their own defence; nor yet with such, but in the prosecution of truths oppos’d by them to the damage of mankind: yet the prevaricator accuses me of rude charges. What are his then in defence of falshood, and against such as cannot bite? or whether of these is the more noble?
For Varro, who being consul of Rome, lost the battel of Cannæ to Hannibal, captain general for the Carthaginians, tho without cowardice, yet by rashness, he is not so excusable.
Florus, l 2. c. 18.But for Mancinus, brought (as was Posthumius by the Samnits) to dishonorable conditions by Megera, captain general of the Numantins, there be excuses: as first, the Numantins, for their number not exceeding four thousand fighting men, were the gallantest of so many, on which the sun ever shone.
Fourteen years had their commonwealth held tack with the Romans, in courage, conduct, and virtue, having worsted Pompey the Great, and made a league with him, when she might have made an end of him, e’er ever Mancinus (of whom Cicero gives a fair character) came in play: so his misfortunes, having great examples, cannot want som excuse. But suppose none of them deserv’d any excuse, what is it at which these examples drive? against a commonwealth? sure the Samnits, the Carthaginians, the Numantins were as well commonwealths as the Romans; and so wherever the advantage gos, it must stay upon a commonwealth: or if it be rotation that he would be at (for we must guess) granting Pontius the Samnit, and Megera the Numantin, to have bin no more upon rotation, than Hannibal the Carthaginian; yet it is plain that Rome upon her rotation overcame not only Pontius, Hannibal and Megera, but Samnium, Carthage, and Numantia.Consid. p. 91. So much for Rome; but, says he, no less appears by the rabble of generalsoften made use of by the Athenians, while men of valor and conduct have lain by the walls.
A rabble of generals did I never hear of before; but not to meddle with his rhetoric, wheras each of his objections has at least som one contradiction in it, this has two (one à priori, another à posteriori) one in the snout, another in the tail of it. For had there bin formerly no rotation in Athens, how should there have bin men of valor and conduct to ly by the walls? and if rotation thenceforth should have ceas’d, how could those men of valor and conduct have don otherwise than ly by the walls? so this inavoidably confesses, that rotation was the means wherby Athens came to be stor’d with persons of valor and conduct, they to be capable of imployment, and the commonwealth to imploy the whole virtue of her citizens: and it being, in his own words, an argument of much imperfection in a government not to dare to employ the whole virtue of the citizens, this wholly routs a standing general; for the government that dares imploy but the virtue of one, dares not imploy the virtue of all. Yet he jogs one.
Consid. p. 91.THOSE orders must needs be against nature, which, excluding persons of the best qualifications, give admission to others, who have nothing to commend them but their art in canvassing for the suffrage of the people. He never takes notice that the ballot bars canvassing beyond all possibility of any such thing; but we will let that go. Canvassing, it is confest, was more frequent in Rome and Athens than is laudable, where nevertheless it is the stronger argument for the integrity of popular suffrage, which, being free from any aid of art, produc’d in those commonwealths more illustrious examples (if a man gos no further than Plutarch’s lives) than are to be found in all the rest of story.
Consid. p. 91.YET, says he, this law has bin as often broken as a commonwealth has bin brought into any exigence; for the hazard of trusting affairs in weak hands then appearing, no scruple has been made to trample upon this order, for giving the power to some able man at that time render’d incapable by the vacation this law requires. The continuation of the consulship ofMariusis sufficient to be alleg’d for the proof of this, tho if occasion were, it might be back’d by plenty of examples. His choice confutes his pretended variety, who jests with edg’d tools: this example above all will cut his fingers; for by this prolongation of magistracy, or, to speak more properly, of empire (for the magistracy of the consul was civil, and confer’d by the people centuriatis comitiis, but his empire was military, and confer’d curiatis) Rome began to drive those wheels of her rotation heavily in Marius, which were quite taken off in Cæsar.
I have heretofore in vain persuaded them upon this occasion, to take notice of a chapter in Machiavel, so worthy of regard, that I have now inserted it at length, as follows:
Mach. Dis. cor. b. 3 c. 24.THE proceedings of the Roman commonwealth being well consider’d, two things will be found to have bin the causes of her dissolution. The contention that happen’d thro the indeavor of the people (always oppos’d or eluded by the nobility) to introduce an agrarian, and the damage that accru’d from the prolongation of empire, which mischiefs, had they bin foreseen in due time, the government by application of fit remedys might have bin of longer life and better health. The diseases which this commonwealth, from contention about the agrarian, contracted, were acute and tumultuous; but those being flower and without tumult which she got by promulgation of empire, were chronical, and went home with her, giving a warning by her example, how dangerous it is to states that would injoy their liberty, to suffer magistracy (how deservedly soever confer’d) to remain long in the possession of the same man. Certainly if the rest of the Romans, whose empire happen’d to be prolong’d, had bin as virtuous and provident as Lucius Quintius, they had never run into this inconvenience. Of such wholsom example was the goodness of this man, that the senat and the people, after one of their ordinary disputes being com to som accord, wheras the people had prolong’d the magistracy of their present tribuns, in regard they were persons more fitly oppos’d to the ambition of the nobility, than by a new election they could readily have found; when hereupon the senat (to shew they needed not be worse at this game) would have prolong’d the consulat to Quintius, he refus’d his consent, saying, that ill examples were to be corrected by good ones, and not incourag’d by others like themselves; nor could they stir his resolution, by which means they were necessitated to make new consuls. Had this wisdom and virtue, I say, bin duly regarded, or rightly understood, it might have sav’d Rome, which thro this neglect came to ruin. The first whose empire happen’d to be prolong’d was Publilius Philo, his consulat expiring at the camp before Palæpolis, while it seem’d to the senat that he had the victory in his hand (actum cum tribunis plebis est, ad populum ferrent ut cum Philo consulatu abiisset, proconsul rem gereret) they sent him no successor, but prolong’d his empire, by which means he came to the first proconsul.Liv. l. 8. An expedient (tho introduc’d for the public good) that came in time to be the public bane: for by how much the Roman armys march’d further off, by so much the like course seeming to be the more necessary, became the more customary; whence insu’d two pernicious consequences: the one, that there being fewer generals, and men of known ability for conduct, the art with the reputation of the same came to be more ingrost, and obnoxious to ambition: the other, that a general standing long, got such hold upon his army, as could take them off from the senat, and hang them on himself. Thus Marius and Sylla could be follow’d by the soldiery to the detriment of the commonwealth, and Cæsar to her perdition. Wheras had Rome never prolong’d empire, she might perhaps not so soon have arriv’d at greatness or acquisition, but would have made less haste to destruction.
All the dilemma that Machiavel observes in these words, is, that if a commonwealth will not be so slow in her acquisition as is requir’d by rotation, she will be less sure than is requisit to her preservation.Consid. p. 92. But the prevaricator (not vouchsafing to shew us upon what reasons or experience he grounds this maxim) is positive, that the dilemma into which a commonwealth is in this case brought, is very dangerous; for either she must give her self a mortal blow by gaining the habit of insringing such orders as are necessary for her preservation, or receive one from without.
Mamercus apud Liv. l. 4.This same is another parakeetism: these words are spoken by me, after Machiavel, in relation to dictatorian power, in which they are so far from concluding against rotation, that this in case of a dictator is more especially necessary (maxima libertatis custodia est, ut magna imperia diuturna non sint, & temporis modus imponatur, quibus juris imponi non potest) which could not be more confirm’d than by him, who in the example of Marius shews that the contrary course spoil’d all.
TheRomans, if they had sent a successor to Publius Philo at Palæpolis, it may be might have let the victory slip out of his hands, it may be not; however this had bin no greater wound to the commonwealth, than that her acquisition would have bin slower, which ought not to com in competition with the safety of a government, and therfore amounts not to a dilemma, this being a kind of argument that should not be stub’d of one horn, but have each of equal length and danger. Nor is it so certain that increase is slower for rotation, seeing neither was this interrupted by that, nor that by this, as the greatest actions of Rome, the conquest of Carthage by Scipio Africanus, of Macedon by Flaminius, and of Antiochus by Asiaticus, are irrefragable testimonys.
I would be loth to spoil the considerer’s preferment; but he is not a safe counsillor for a prince, whose providence not supplying the defect of rotation, whether in civil or military affairs, with somthing of like nature, exposes himself if not his empire as much to danger as a commonwealth.2 Sam. 3. 39. Thus the sons of Zerviah, Joab captain of the host, and Abishai his brother, were too strong for David; thus the kings of Israel and of Juda fell most of them by their captains or favorits, as I have elsewhere observ’d more particularly. Thus Brutus being standing captain of the guards, could cast out Tarquin; thus Sejanus had means to attempt against Tiberius; Otho to be the rival of Galba, Casperius Ælianus of Nerva, Cassius of Antoninus, Perennis of Commodus, Maximinus of Alexander, Philippus of Gordian, Æmilianus of Gallus; Ingebus Lollianus, Aureolus, of Gallienus; Magnesius of Constantius, Maximus of Gratian, Arbogastes of Valentinian, Ruffinus of Arcadius, Stilico of Honorius. Go from the west into the east: upon the death of Marcianus, Asparis alone, having the command of the arms, could prefer Leo to the empire; Phocas deprive Mauritius of the same; Heraclius depose Phocas; Leo Isaurias do as much to Theodosius Adramyttenus; Nicephorus to Irene, Leo Armenius to Michael Curopalates, Romanus Lagapenus to Constantin, Nicephorus Phocas to Romanus Puer, Johannes Zismisces to Nicephorus Phocas, Isaac Comnenus to Michael Stratioticus, Botoniates to Michael the son of Ducas, Alexius Comnenus to Botoniates: which work continu’d in such manner till the destruction of that empire. Go from the east to the north: Gustavus attain’d to the kingdom of Sweden, by his power and command of an army: and thus Secechus came near to supplant Boleslaus the third of Poland. If Wallestein had liv’d, what had becom of his master? in France the race of Pharamond was extinguish’d by Pipin; and that of Pipin in like manner, each by the major of the palace, a standing magistracy of exorbitant trust. Go to the Indys: you shall find a king of Pegu to have bin thrust out of the realm of Tangu by his captain general. Nay, go where you will, tho this be pretty well, you shall add more than one example. But as to the prevaricator, if he was not given to make such mouths, as eat up nothing else but his own words, I needed not have brought any other testimony to absolve a commonwealth of malice in this order than his own, where he says, that when som person overtops the rest in commands, it is a disease of monarchy which easily admits of this cure, that he be reduc’d to a less volum, and level’d to an equality with the rest of his order.Consid. p. 47. 48. Now a prince can no otherwise level a nobleman, that excels the rest thro command, to equality with his order, than by causing those of the same order to take their turns in like command. Good wits have ill memorys.Consid. p. 93.But, says he, I know not what advantage Mr.Harringtonmay foresee from the orders of this rotation, for my part, I can discover no other effect of it than this, that in a commonwealth like that of Oceana, taking in the many (for in Venice he confesses it to be otherwise) where every man will press forward towards magistracy, this law, by taking off at the end of one year som officers, and all at the end of three, will keep the republic in a perpetual minority: no man having time allow’d him to gain that experience, which may serve to lead the commonwealth to the understanding of her true interest either at home or abroad.
What I have confest to be otherwise in Venice, I have shewn already at least so far as concerns the present occasion, the causes of that defect being incompatible with a commonwealth consisting of the many; otherwise why was not the like found in Athens or Rome? where tho every man prest forward towards magistracy, yet the magistrats were, for illustrious examples, more in weight and number than are to be found in all the rest of the world.
If where elections were the most expos’d to the ambition of the competitor, and the humors of the people, they yet fail’d not to excel all others that were not popular, what greater vindication can there be of the natural integrity of popular suffrage even at the worst? but this, where it is given by the baliot, is at the best, and free from all that pressing for magistracy in the competitor, or faction of the people that can any ways be laid to the former: or let the considerer consider again, and tell me by what means either of these in such a state can be dangerous or troublesom; or if at worst the orders for election in Oceana must not perform that part, better than a croud and a sherif. Well; but putting the case the elections which were not quarrel’d much withal be rightly stated, yet this law for terms and vacations, by taking off at the end of one year som officers, and all at the end of three, will keep the republic in perpetual minority, no man having time allow’d him to gain that experience, which may serve to lead the commonwealth to the understanding of her true interest at home or abroad. Because every man will press forward for magistracy, therfore there ought not to be terms and vacations, lest these should keep the commonwealth in perpetual minority. I would once see an argument that might be reduc’d to mode and figure. The next objection is, that these orders take off at the end of one year som officers, which is true, and that at the end of three years they take off all, which is false; for wheras the leaders of the commonwealth are all triennial, the orders every year take off no more than such only as have finish’d their three years term, which is not all, but a third part. Wherfore let him speak out; three years is too short a term for acquiring that knowlege which is necessary to the leading of a commonwealth. To let the courses of Israel which were monthly, and the annual magistracys of Athens and Rome go; if three years be too short a term for this purpose, what was three months? a parlament in the late government was rarely longer liv’d than three months, nor more frequent than once in a year; so that a man having bin twelve years a parlament-man in England, could not have born his magistracy above three years, tho he were not necessarily subject to any vacation. Wheras a parlament in Oceana may in twelve years have born his magistracy six, notwithstanding the necessity of his vacations. Now which of these two are most straiten’d in the time necessary to the gaining of due experience or knowledge for the leading of a commonwealth? nevertheless the parlament of England was seldom or never without men of sufficient skill and ability; tho the orders there were more in number, less in method, not written, and of greater difficulty than they be in Oceana. There, if not the parlament man, the parlament itself was upon terms and vacations, which to a council of such a nature is the most dangerous thing in the world, seeing dissolution, whether to a body natural or political, is death. For if parlaments happen’d to rise again and again, this was not so much coming to themselves (seeing a council of so different genius has not bin known) as a new birth; and a council that is every year new born indeed must keep a commonwealth in perpetual minority, or rather infancy, always in danger of being overlaid by her nurse, or strangl’d by her guardian: wheras an assembly continu’d by succession, or due rotation regulated by terms, giving sufficient time for digestion, grows up, and is like a man, who tho he changes his flesh, neither changes his body nor his soul. Thus the senat of Venice changing flesh, tho not so often as in a commonwealth consisting of the many were requisit, yet oftenest of any other in the world, is, both in body and soul, or genius, the most unchangeable council under heaven. Flesh must be chang’d, or it will stink of it self; there is a term necessary to make a man able to lead the commonwealth to her interest, and there is a term that may inable a man to lead the commonwealth to his interest. In this regard it is, that, according to Mamercus, the vacations are (maxima libertatis custodia) the keepers of the libertys of Oceana.
The three regions into which each of the leading councils is divided, are three forms, as I may say, in the school of state: for them of the third, tho there be care in the choice, it is no such great matter what be their skill; the ballot which they practis’d in the tribe being that in the performance wherof no man can be out: and this is all that is necessary to their novitiat or first year, during which time they may be auditors. By the second, they will have seen all the scenes, or the whole rotation of the orders, so facil, and so intelligible, that at one reading a man understands them as a book, but at once acting as a play; and so methodical, that he will remember them better. Tell me then what it is that can hinder him for the second year from being a speaker; or why for the third, should he not be a very able leader.
The senat and the prerogative, or representative of the people, being each of like constitution, drop annually four hundred, which in a matter of ten years amount to four thousand experienc’d leaders, ready upon new elections to resume their leading.
Another thing which I would have consider’d is, whether our most eminent men found their parts in parlament, or brought them thither. For if they brought them, think you not the military orders of the youth, the disciplin of the tribes, the eight years orbs of the embassadors, the provincial armys of Oceana, likely to breed men of as good parts, as to such matters? nor have astronomers that familiarity with the stars, which men without these orbs will have with such as are in them. He is very dull, who cannot perceive that in a government of this frame the education must be universal, or diffus’d throout the whole body. Another thing which is as certain as comfortable, is, that the pretended depth and difficulty in matters of state is a mere cheat. From the beginning of the world to this day, you never found a commonwealth where the leaders having honesty enough, wanted skill enough to lead her to her true interest at home or abroad: that which is necessary to this end, is not so much skill as honesty; and let the leaders of Oceana be dishonest if they can. In the leading of a commonwealth aright, this is certain, wisdom and honesty are all one: and tho you shall find defects in their virtue, those that have had the fewest, have ever bin and for ever shall be, the wisest.
ROME was never ruin’d, till her balance being broken, the nobility forsaking their antient virtue, abandon’d themselves to their lusts; and the senators, who, as in the case of Jugurtha, were all brib’d, turn’d knaves; at which turn all their skill in government (and in this never men had bin better skill’d) could not keep the commonwealth from overturning. Cicero, an honest man, labor’d might and main; Pomponius Atticus another, despair’d; Cato tore out his own bowels; the poignards of Brutus and Cassius neither consider’d prince nor father: but the commonwealth had sprung her planks, and split her ballast; the world could not save her.
Consid. p. 36. p. 94.For the close, the prevaricator, who had judg’d before, that there was much reason to expect som of the clergy (against all of whom Mr. Harrington has declar’d war) would undertake the quarrel, tells me in the last line, that there be to whom he has recommended the disquisition of the Jewish commonwealth.
It is a miserable thing to be condemn’d to the perpetual budget; once turn an honest man to me. In the mean time, that it may be further seen, how much I am delighted in fair play, since some divines, it may be, are already at work with me, and I have not so fully explain’d my self upon that point, which with them is of the greatest concernment, that they can yet say, they have peep’d into my hand, or seen my game; as I have won this trick, gentlemen, or speak, so I play them out the last card in the next book for up.
An Advertisment to the Reader, or a Direction contain’d in certain Querys, how the Commonwealth of Oceana may be examin’d or answer’d by divers Sorts of Men, without spoiling their high Dance, or cutting off any Part of their Elegance, or Freeness of Expression.
THE SECOND BOOK; OR, A POLITICAL DISCOURSE CONCERNING ORDINATION:
Optat Aprum aut fulvum descendere monte Leonem.
Advertisment to the READER.
BOOKS, especially whose Authors have got themselves Names, are Leaders; wherfore in case any of these err in Leading, it is not only lawful, but Matter of Conscience to a Man that perceives it, as far as he is able, to warn others. This were Apology enough for my writing against Dr. Hammond and Dr. Seaman; and yet I have happen’d to be brought under a farther Obligation to this Enterprise, their Books have bin sent me by way of Objection against what I have formerly said of Ordination, and am daily more and more confirm’d I shall make good. However, there can be no great Hurt in this Essay, Truth being, like Venison, not only the best Quarry, but the best Game.
Order of the Discourse.
TO manage the present controversy with the more clearness, I have divided my discourse into five parts or chapters.
THE first, explaining the words chirotonia and chirothesia, paraphrastically relates the story of the perambulation made by the apostles Paul and Barnabas thro the citys of Lycaonia, Pisidia, &c. by way of introduction.
THE second shews those citys, or most of them, at the time of this perambulation, to have bin under popular government. In which is contain’d the whole administration of a Roman province.
THE third shews the deduction of the chirotonia from popular government, and of the original right of ordination from the chirotonia. In which is contain’d the institution of the sanhedrim or senat of Israel by Moses, and of that at Rome by Romulus.
THE fourth shews the deduction of the chirothesia from monarchical or aristocratical government, and the second way of ordination from the chirothesia. In which is contain’d the commonwealth of the Jews as it stood after the captivity.
THE fifth debates whether the chirotonia, us’d in the citys mention’d, was (as is pretended by Dr. Hammond, Dr. Seaman, and the authors they follow) the same with the chirothesia, or a far different thing. In which are contain’d the divers kinds of church-government introduc’d and exercis’d in the age of the apostles.
I am entring into a discourse to run much, for the words, upon a language not vulgar, which therfore I shall use no otherwise than by way of parenthesis, not obstructing the sense; and for the things, upon customs that are foren, which therfore I shall interpret as well as I can. Now so to make my way into the parts of this discourse, that (wheras they who have hitherto manag’d it in English, might in regard of their readers have near as well written it in Greec) I may not be above the vulgar capacity, I shall open both the names wherof, and the things wherupon we are about to dispute, by way of introduction.
A POLITICAL DISCOURSE CONCERNING ORDINATION.