Thomas Gordon believes that bigoted Princes are subject to the “blind control” of other “Directors and Masters” who work behind the scenes (1737)

Thomas Gordon

Thomas Gordon, one of the co-authors of Cato’s Letters, introduced his multi-volume translation of the works of Tacitus with a number of Discourses supposedly on Tacitus but which he also used to criticize the behavior of the contemporary British government:

Bigotry in a weak Prince, or in any Prince, is always one of his worst and most dangerous weaknesses, generally ruinous to his People, often to himself; as it subjects him to the blind controul of narrow-spirited and designing Guides (for all Bigots must have Directors and Masters) who in manageing his conscience seldom forget their own interest, and to that interest often sacrifice the Public and all things.

Thomas Gordon was one of the authors of the very popular Cato’s Letters (1723) which circulated widely in the American colonies before the revolution. He was also well known for his commentaries on Tacitus who chronicled the corruption and tyranny of the Roman Empire. It was obvious to the colonists that he was also indirectly taking about the British Empire. His point here is that behind every “bigoted prince” there lies a “director” or “master” who really controls what is going on.