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CHAP. IV.: Containing the Provincial Part of this Model, propos’d practicably. - 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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Containing the Provincial Part of this Model, propos’d practicably.
THE word province is with Roman authors of divers significations. By these it is taken sometimes for magistracy; as that of the consul, which is call’d his province: somtimes for any religion or country, in which a Roman captain or general was commanded to make war; but specially for such a country as was acquir’d and held by arms, or by provincial right.Esth. 1. 1. The word is of the like different use in Scripture; as where it is said, That Ahasuerusreign’d over a hundred and seven provinces; by which are understood as well the divisions of the native, as those of the acquir’d territorys.Ezra 5. 8. But where Tanais the governor writes to the king of Assyria concerning the province of Judea, it is understood a country acquir’d and held by arms; which coms to the usual signification of the word with the Romans, it being in this sense that the governor Felix ask’d Paul of what province he was, and came to understand that he was of Cilicia, then a province of the Roman empire:Acts 23. 34. and this signification is that in which I take the word throout this chapter.
The mighty load of empire which happen’d to the commonwealth of Rome thro the acquisition of many and vast provinces, is that wherto the songs of poets, and the opinions of more serious writers attribute the weight which they say oversway’d her. But this judgment, tho in itself right, is not in the manner they take it to be swallow’d without chewing. For how probable it is that the succeding monarchy was able to support a weight in this kind, which the commonwealth could not bear, may at this distance be discern’d, in that the provinces were infinitely more turbulent in the reign of the emperors, than in that of the commonwealth, as having a far stronger interest, thro ambition of attaining to the whole, to tear the empire in pieces: which they did, while divers provinces made divers emperors, which before could not hope to make divers commonwealths, nor to acquire safety by retreat to a petty government.Plutarch in Gracch. But in this, the acquisition of provinces devour’d the commonwealth of Rome, that, she not being sufficiently fortify’d by agrarian laws, the nobility, thro’ the spoil of provinces, came to eat the people out of their popular balance or lands in Italy by purchases; and the lands that had been in the hands of the many, coming thus into the hands of the few, of natural and necessary consequence there follows monarchy.
Now that England, a monarchy, has bin seiz’d of provinces (one of them, while France was such, being as great as any one of the Roman) is a known thing; and that the militia propos’d by the present model, contains all the causes of greatness that were in that of Rome, is to such as are not altogether strangers to the former no less than obvious. Now of like causes not to presume like effects, were unreasonable. The safety therfore of the foregoing agrarian, as hitherto propos’d, or that lands be divided in their descent, must in this case be none at all, unless there be som stop also given in their accumulation by way of purchase; lest otherwise the spoil of som mighty province be still sufficient to eat out the people by purchase.
To submit therfore in this place (for ought I perceive) to inevitable necessity, it is propos’d,
5 Additional propositions to the agrarian.THAT (great commonwealths having bin overthrown by the spoil of provinces) an estate of two thousand pounds a year in land, be incapable of any accumulation by way of purchase.
Donations and inheritances will be fewer than to be dangerous; and as some fall, others will be dividing in their descent. But to resume the discourse upon the agrarian laws, which, because they were not till in this proposition complete, remains imperfect. That to agrarian laws som standard is necessary, appears plainly enough. This standard in a well-founded monarchy, must bar recess; and in a well-founded commonwealth must bar increase. For certain it is, that otherwise each of the policys dos naturally breed that viper which eats out the bowels of the mother: as monarchy, by pomp and luxury, reduces her nobility thro debt to poverty, and at length to a level with the people, upon which no throne ever stood or can stand: such was the case of this nation under her latter princes. And a commonwealth by her natural ways of frugality, of fattening and cockering up of the people, is apt to bring estates to such excess in som hands, as eating out the rest, bows the neck of a free state or city to the yoke, and exposes her to the goa of a lord and master, which was the case of Rome under her perpetual dictators. But why yet must this standard of land in the present case, be neither more nor less than just two thousand pounds a year? truly, where som standard was necessary to be nam’d, I might as well ask why not this as well as any other? yet am I not without such reasons why I have pitch’d upon this rather than any other, as I may submit to the judgment of the reader in the following computation or comparison of the divers effects or consequences of so many different standards, as by the rules of proportion may give sufficient account of the rest.
Let the dry rent of England (that is, at the rate a man may have for his land without sweating) be computed at ten millions: this presum’d, if you set the standard at ten thousand pounds a year, the whole territory can com into no fewer than one thousand hands. If you set it at five thousand pounds a year, it can com into no fewer than two thousand hands; and if you set it at two thousand pounds a year, it can com into no fewer than five thousand hands. It will be said, in which way you please, it will never com into so few hands as are capable of having it; which is certain: yet because the effects in their approaches would be such as may be measur’d by their extremes, I shall pitch upon these as the readiest way to guide my computation. The balance in a thousand hands might affect the government with a hankering after monarchy; in two thousand hands it might usurp it, as did the Roman nobility, and therby occasion a feud between the senat and the people. These not only in the extremes, but with much of a like nature in the approaches.
But letting these pass, as also the numbers or compass necessary to the rotation of such a commonwealth (none of which inconveniences are incident to the standard of two thousand pounds a year, as that wherby land can com into no fewer than five thousand proprietors) we will suppose these standards to be each of them, as to the safety of the government, indifferently practicable.
Yet it is recorded by experience, and wise authors, that the true cause whence England has bin an overmatch in arms for France, lay in the communication or distribution of property to the lower sort; and for the same cause let it be consider’d, if the commonwealth upon the standard of two thousand pounds a year (cæteris paribus) must not necessarily be an overmatch in the potency of its militia for the other two. Such are the advantages, such is the glory of the like moderation to the public. Mony (says the lord Verulam) is like muck, not good except it be spread. Much rather in popular government is this holding as to land, the latter having upon the state a far stronger influence, at least in larger territorys, than mony: for in such, mony, while scarce, cannot overbalance land; and were silver and gold as plentiful as brass or iron, they would be no more, nor would land be less worth. And for privat men, were it not that it is easier to fill the belly of a glutton than his eys, not only virtue, but the beatitude of riches, would be apparently consistent in a mean. But what need I play the divine or the philosopher upon a doctrin, which is not to diminish any man’s estate, not to bring any man from the customs to which he has bin inur’d, nor from any emergent expectation he may have; but regards only the generation to com, or the children to be born seven years after the passing such a law? whence it must needs follow, that putting the case this agrarian be introduc’d, it is to our age as if there were none; and if there be no agrarian, it is to our age as if there was one. The difference is no more, than that in the one way the commonwealth is at all points secur’d, and in the other it is left to its fortune even in the main. Of such soverain effect are the like laws, that I would go yet farther, and propose,
60. Agrarian for Scotland and Ireland.THAT in Scotland the standard be set at five hundred pounds a year; in Ireland at two thousand pounds a year in land; the rest for each as for England.
Narrowness of an agrarian for Scotland, being a martial country, would make the larger provision of a good auxiliary militia; and largeness of an agrarian for Ireland, being less martial, would cast a sop into the jaws of the avarice of those who should think it too much confin’d in England. And lest the provincials in this case should think themselves worse dealt with than the citizens themselves, the sum of the agrarian laws being cast up together, any man in the three nations may hold four thousand five hundred pounds a year in land; and any small parcel of land, or mere residence in England, makes a provincial a citizen. Should the commonwealth increase in provinces, the estates at this rate both of the citizens and provincials would be more and greater than ever were those of the antient nobility of these nations; and without any the least hazard to liberty. For he, who considering the whole Roman story, or that only of the Gracchi in Plutarch, shall rightly judg, must confess, that had Rome preserv’d a good agrarian but in Italy, the riches of its provinces could not have torn up the roots of its liberty, but on the contrary must have water’d them. It may be said, What need then of putting an agrarian upon the provinces? I answer: for two reasons: first is indulgence to the provincials and the second, advantage to the commonwealth. For the first, it is with small foresight apparent enough, that the avarice of the citizen being bounded at home, and having no limits in the provinces, would in a few years eat up the provincials, and bring their whole countrys (as the Roman patricians did Italy) to sound in their fetters, or to be till’d by their slaves or underlings. And so, for the second, the commonwealth would by such means lose an auxiliary militia, to be otherwise in Scotland only more worth than the Indys. The things therfore thus order’d, it is propos’d,
61. Provincial councils.THAT upon the expiration of magistracy in the senat, or at the annual recess of one third part of the same, there be elected by the senat out of the part receding, into each provincial council, four knights for the term of three years; therby to render each provincial council (presuming it in the beginning to have bin constituted of twelve knights, divided after the manner of the senat by three several lists or elections) of annual, triennial, and perpetual revolution or rotation.
62. Provincial governors or generals.THAT out of the same third part of the senat annually receding, there be to each province one knight elected for the term of one year. That the knight so elected be the provincial general or governor. That a provincial governor or general receive annually in April at his rendevouz appointed, the youth or recruits elected in the precedent month to that end by the tribes, and by their conductors deliver’d accordingly. That he repair with the said youth or recruits to his province, and there dismiss that part of the provincial guard or army whose triennial term is expir’d. That each provincial governor have the conduct of affairs of war and of state in his respective province, with advice of the provincial council; and that he be president of the same.
63. Provincial provosts.THAT each provincial council elect three weekly proposers, or provosts, after the manner, and to the ends already shewn in the constitution of senatorian councils; and that the provost of the senior list, during his term, be president of the council in absence of the general.
THAT each provincial council procede according to instructions receiv’d from the council of state, and keep intelligence with the same by any two of their provosts, for the government of the province, as to matters of war or state.64. Subordination and function of provincial councils. That upon levys of native or proper arms by the senat, and the people, a provincial council (having to that end receiv’d orders) make levys of provincial auxiliarys accordingly. That auxiliary arms upon no occasion whatsoever excede the proper or native arms in number. That for the rest, the provincial council maintain the provincials, defraying their peculiar guards and council, by such a known proportion of tributs, as on them shall be set by the senat and the people, in their proper rights, laws, libertys and immunitys, so far as upon the merits of the cause wherupon they were subdu’d, it seem’d good to the senat and the people to confirm them. And that it be lawful for the provincials to appeal from their provincial magistrats, councils, or generals, to the people of England.
In modelling a commonwealth, the concernment of provincial government coms in the last place; for which cause I conceive any long discourse upon these orders to be at present unnecessary: but certain things there are in the way which I am unwilling to let slip without pointing at them.
Whether men or mony be the nerve of war.Som will have men, som will have mony to be the nerve of war; each of which positions, in proper cases, may be a maxim: for if France, where the main body of the people is imbas’d; or Venice, which stands upon a mercenary militia, want mony, they can make no war. But it has heretofore bin otherwise with commonwealths. Roman historians (as is observ’d by Machiavel) in their military preparations or expeditions, make no mention of mony, unless what was gain’d by the war, and brought home into the treasury; as the spoil of Macedon by Emilius Paulus, being such, as the people for som years after were discharg’d of their tribute. Not that their wars were made altogether without mony: for if so, why should the people at any time before have paid tribute? or why upon this occasion were they excus’d? but that the mony in which their wars stood them, was not considerable in comparison of that which is requisit where mony may be counted the nerve of war; that is, where men are not to be had without it. But Rome, by virtue of its orders, could have rais’d vaster numbers of citizens and associats than perhaps it ever did, tho during the consulat of Pappus and Regulus, she levy’d in Italy only seventy thousand horse, and seven hundred thousand foot. Should we conceive the nerve of this motion to have bin mony, we must reckon the Indys to have bin exhausted before they were found; or so much brass to have bin in Italy, as would have made stones to be as good as mony. A well-order’d commonwealth dos these things not by mony, but by such orders as make of its citizens the nerve of its wars. The youth of the commonwealth propos’d are esteem’d in all at five hundred thousand. Of these there is an annual band, consisting of one hundred thousand. Of this one hundred thousand there is a standing army consisting of thirty thousand foot and ten thousand horse, besides such as being above thirty years of age, shall offer themselves as voluntiers: of which the number is in no wise likely to be few. To the standing army the provinces, or that only of Scotland, being both populous and martial, can afford at any time an equal number of auxiliarys.
These orders, thus sum’d up together, render this commonwealth ordinarily able to wage war with fourscore thousand men; a force which, it is known, not any prince in Christendom is able to match in virtue, number, or disciplin. For these the commonwealth in her sea guard has always at hand sufficient waftage, or at least such a sufficient convoy as may make any vessels at hand a sufficient transportation: all this, I say, by virtue of orders. Not but that the march, the equipage, the waftage of so great an army must cost mony; but that it will com to no account in comparison of a lingring war made by a matter of thirty thousand mercenarys, the very consumtion of a state: wheras fourscore thousand men so disciplin’d and so furnish’d, as has bin shewn, being once transported, must suddenly com to be no charge, or make the war defray it self.
But ’tis objected, that to reckon upon such a militia were to suppose a large country capable of being a commonwealth; wheras we hold them learn’d, who say that no commonwealth has consisted of more than som one city or town.Whether a commonwealth has confisted of more than one city or town. But in what language or in what geography, are the twelve tribes of Israel; the (δήμοι) peopledoms or prytanys of Athens, which Theseus gather’d into one body; the tribes and linages in Lacedemon instituted by Lycurgus; the five and thirty Roman tribes planted between the rivers Vulturnus and Arno, or between the citys now call’d Capua and Florence; the 13 cantons of the Switzers; the seven united provinces of the low countrys, understood to have bin or to be but one city or town? whether were not the people of Israel under their commonwealth six hundred thousand? what reason can be given why the government that could take in six hundred thousand, might not as well take in twice that number? how much short came the country, planted by the Roman tribes, of 150 miles square? or how much over is England? and what reason can be given why a government, taking in 150 miles square, might not as well take in twice that compass? whether was our house of commons under monarchy not collected from the utmost bounds of the English territory? and whether had the laws by them enacted not their free course to the utmost limits of the same? and why should that be impossible or impracticable to a representative of the people in a commonwealth, which was so facil and practicable to a representative of the people under monarchy?
It is a wonder how the commonwealth of Rome, which held as it were the whole world by provinces, should be imagin’d by any man to have consisted but of one town or city.
But to return: it is alleg’d by others, and as to provincial government very truly, that a commonwealth may be a tyranny: nor do I think that Athens, in this point, came short of any prince: Rome, on the other side, was (according to the merits of the cause) as frequent in giving liberty as in taking it away. The provinces of Venice and of Switzerland would not change their condition with the subjects of the best prince. However, the possibility in a commonwealth of tyrannizing over provinces, is not to be cur’d; for be the commonwealth or the prince a state or a man after God’s own heart, there is no way of holding a province but by arms.
The thirteenth parallel.WHEN the Syrians of Damascus came to succor Hadadezer king of Zobah, David slew of the Syrians two and twenty thousand men: then David put garisons in Syria of Damascus, and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts; and the Lord preserv’d David whithersoever he went.2 Sam. 8. 5, 6.
With this parallel I draw the curtain, and close (be it comedy to such as are for tragedy) the model; appealing to the present, or the next age, whether throout I have not had God himself for my vouchee.See the corollary of Oceana. In the mean time, there is nothing hereby propos’d which may not stand with a supreme magistrat.