Thomas Gordon, Tyranny, Empire, War, and Corruption: The Political Discourses on Tacitus and Sallust (1728-1744)

Thomas Gordon (c. 1691–1750)  

 

Source

This is a compilation of Thomas Gordon's "Political Discourses" which he wrote as introductions to his translations of the works of Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust) (86 – c. 35 BC) and Publius Cornelius Tacitus (c. AD 56 – c.120).

For the original volumes see The Works of Tacitus (1728, 1737) [HTML] and The Works of Sallust (1744) [HTML].

 


 

Table of Contents

Gordon's Political Discourses on Sallust

Gordon's Discourses on Tacitus - Part 1, volume I

Gordon's Discourses on Tacitus - Part 2, volume III

 

 


 

Gordon's Political Discourses on Sallust

TO His ROYAL HIGHNESS THE Duke of CUMBERLAND.

SIR,

OBSERVATIONS upon Government, if they be just, cannot be unacceptable to a Great Subject so nearly related to Sovereignty. Whether the following be so, I humbly leave to Your Discernment; as I do to Your Good-nature, to forgive what was honestly designed, though it should be found weakly executed. All Minds truly Great are truly Humane: I am therefore sure, that though I cannot instruct Your Royal Highness, I shall not offend You.

As it is incumbent upon all Men, especially the Greatest, to support the best Government, Your Royal Highness has convinced all Men how well qualified You are to support Ours. That Ours is the best, I not only sincerely believe, but think demonstrable: Not that it is free from Faults; none ever was: Faults, I doubt, imply Decay, as Decay does a Tendency to perish. Bad Governments are scarce ever to be mended: Good Government, once overthrown, is generally overthrown for ever. What can be a greater Call to prevent such Overthrow, and whatever tends to produce it?

Your Royal Highness has acquired from many Languages, Antient and Modern, whatever becomes a Prince to have acquired: Such exact Care hath been taken of Your Education, such Your own Capacity, and such the Ability of those who were honoured with that important Trust. You can therefore readily perceive, whether my Reasoning, upon the following important Subjects, be useful and solid.

You have always become the high Rank in which You were born; You have adorned it, and shewn how eminently You are like to be, what all Men of distinguished Figure in a great State ought to be, but what too few are, an Ornament to it, and a Champion for it. Few, Sir, of Your high Rank have found at Your Years, fewer have embraced, fewer still have improved, an Opportunity of displaying military Talents, and earned such military Renown.

It hath been the Character of Your illustrious Ancestors, to be warlike: It hath been their Glory to engage young in War, and to defend Right against Violence. The King Your Father distinguished himself at Your Years, as You have done. The King Your Grandfather, in his Fifteenth Year, fought by the Side of the Prince his Father, at the Battle of Treves, where that brave Prince commanded the Confederate Cavalry, animated as well as commanded them, rallied them in Person, vanquished at their Head a Marshal of France, and routed a French Army. In that War that Prince lost many of his Family, and several Brothers, all brave Patriots like himself, exposing their Lives to rescue their common. Country from Usurpation.

That War was like This War. As Your Progenitors behaved, You have behaved; and the same Spirit which fired Them, fired You. Yet, whatever Courage then inspired You, I appeal, Sir, to Your own Heart, whether the chearful Persuasion of a righteous Cause, of relieving the Oppressed, and humbling insolent Oppressors, did not heighten as well as justify Your Ardour in the Day of Battle? This is the genuine Character, This the glorious Employment, of military Virtue: What Pity that it should ever be otherwise employed?

I congratulate You, Sir, upon Your engaging so young, in so just, so interesting a Cause. In Your first Battle You defended Justice, set invaded Nations free, crushed wanton Usurpers, and gained Glory without one Check from Your own Breast, without one Stain upon Your Fame. This was a Pursuit truly Heroic, and suitably crowned with Victory. It was a Cause of final Concernment to all Europe, a Cause worthy of Your princely Zeal, worthy of the Magnanimity of Your Royal Father, worthy of the Spirit with which He, with which You, animated by His Example, espoused it, and made it triumph. If ever Lives so important are to be exposed, it should be upon such an animating, such an alarming Occasion; To assert national Independence, to scatter Intruders, and break general Bondage.

The inglorious Cause of the War on one Side blazoned the Glory of the other, and consequently Your Glory; when all the Outrages of War were committed under Professions of Friendship; a War in Defiance of all the awful Appeals to God and Man, of private Conscience, and public Infamy; a War renewed just after Peace had been purchased at a great Price; a War pushed on, yet the Price of Peace still retained.

I question whether History ever recorded, or the World ever saw, such a daring Insult upon all public Faith and Shame; unless, perhaps, from the same Quarter, where the most solemn Engagements were never binding, Negotiations ever turned into Snares, and Treaties into Mockery.

From the same Quarter it is no Wonder to see Insincerity, and the most pernicious Morals, spread, with melancholy Success, over all Countries who sottishly derive their Modes and Maxims from thence. What can be a greater Source of ill Morals in all Shapes, than an open Contempt of all the Bonds that restrain, of all the Principles that awe, the human Soul? Surely, a People famous for Vanity and want of Truth, afford but a scandalous Pattern for Imitation: Their meanest Actions are Marvels; every Officer a Hero, every Prince more than Man, and their Monarchs Deities. Some of them, who never won a Laurel with their own Sword, have, by the inimitable Flattery of their Subjects, been crowned with more than ever graced the Head of Cæsar, or any of the antient Heroes. When, by Surprize, they had beaten their weaker Neighbours, and made some guilty Acquisitions, more by great Want of Faith, than even by great Armies; all their Depredations have been extolled and hallowed by a hireling Army of Panegyrists, as the Conquests of a Hero, nay, of a Deity.

A Hero without Heroism can only be created by Flatterers without Shame: A King void of Faith can pass for a Hero with none, but Sycophants void of Conscience. Praise not merited, but bought, rarely lives so long as the Buyer, even though he be constantly buying: If it be ingenious Praise, it will rather be the Portion of the Seller: At all Events, it will be for ever stained with the Reproach of being Sold.

I have heard of a Prince represented as sufficient upon Earth to do all that even the Divine Being could do there. The Monks and Poets scarce left Almighty God the Possession of his own Throne, with Ability to rule the Skies. They prophesied, or rather threatened, that their Grand Idol would, one Day, be at least his Coadjutor even Above.

After this, (and this was but One, of a Thousand such Excesses) no Strain of Flattery can be surprising, not even that of Divine Worship publicly paid to his Statue, erected with all the Pomp of Idolatry and holy Ceremonies, Genuflexion, and even devout Prostrations; the Courtiers, the Citizens, the Soldiers, solemnly attending, and awfully adoring this perishable Divinity. This Mockery of Omnipotence was so far from shocking Him whom it most ought to have shocked, that the foremost Idolater in the impious Worship paid to human Frailty was rewarded with a Profusion of Bounty and Honours. Such is the Intoxication of Flattery, when it is most incredible, and even blasphemous! The Title of Immortal was but a moderate Compliment, in Comparison with the rest, and very aukwardly claimed by such who always kept far from Danger.

Such Princes seem to have been insensible, that they were formed of the same Mould with other Men; that their Blood was of the same Colour; themselves liable to the same Infirmities; that with all their Power, however boasted and boundless, they could not prolong Life, much less vanquish Death; that it was their Duty, and best Glory, to shew Tenderness and Benignity to those, who, in the Grave, and beyond it, would be upon a Level with Them; that Flattery is not Fame; that a Throne is only so far glorious, as he who possesseth it acts with general Beneficence; that the most exalted Thrones have been often filled with such as were a Bane and Disgrace to human Nature; that Folly is contemptible, Iniquity detestable, even under the Blaze of a Crown.

Does not Your Royal Highness still find something very instructive, even from these offensive Characters, of Princes swoln to an enormous Size in their own Conceit, by the Poison of Flattery? Such Instances shew, what immoderate Pride may attend moderate Parts; how confidently a human Creature may claim Attributes more than human; that a vehement Appetite for Praise, is no Proof that Praise is due; that a warlike Spirit is not always necessary to do warlike Mischief; and that the World may be greatly disturbed by the meanest Characters in it; a melancholy Consideration, too apparent at most Times, never more than at this Time!

By what You have been doing, and by what You are going to do, Your Royal Highness has convinced the World, that You esteem Royal Birth, without a Display of Royal Qualities, no genuine Warrant for Fame. You know, that Virtue first made Men noble; that it is with Royalty as with Nobility (Royalty being only the most exalted Nobility); when it renounces its Foundress, it debases itself: That the Distinctions of High and Low are not produced from human Nature, but from the Nature of Society; and that the Protection and Defence of Society are the most amiable Grounds of Title and Elevation: That none but a useful and benevolent Character, can be a moral Character; that none but a moral Character, can be truly a great one: That even Courage, without Benevolence and Justice, is as great a Solecism, as Religion without Virtue.

To be brave, is a praise-worthy Character in a Prince; nor is a Prince without Resolution, fit for a princely Place: To be just and brave, is a glorious Character; glorious in a King, glorious in the Son of a King. This Island can boast such Characters, and from them the pleasing Hopes of what may be expected from the rest of the same Stock. Their greatest Danger, and consequently ours, is their being too brave.

It is no Pedantry to quote Latin to one who so well understands it. Non te fortem esse dicimus, sed querimur, was a just Complaint and Caution offered to our glorious King William. I hope his present Majesty, I hope Your Royal Highness, will not disregard the same Caution. That fine Genius, Dr. Thomas Burnet, thought it no Compliment to that great Hero, that he was brave; but complains of him as too brave, by exposing that precious Life, which endangered or secured the Lives of all, as it was itself secure, or in Danger.

Dr. Burnet knew the Value of that Heroic Prince; though All did not. The Malevolence of Party, which distressed his Reign, clouded his living Glory, but hath not been able to contaminate his Fame. Is not this, Sir, a pleasing Reflection, that Justice and Praise, if they do not meet, will, first or last, overtake, solid Merit; and false Merit, however exalted, will, sooner or later, be despised? The Memory of King William fares, as that of great and good Princes ought to fare: It lives in the Voice of Fame; whilst the Memory of despicable Men, great only in Rank and Vanity, however flattered, and even worshiped, in their Life-time, will be despicable, or lost.

I could mention another Instance of the Justice of Time to great and good Characters, but that it might too nearly affect Your Royal Highness: It is that of a great Princess deceased, whose Fame hath grown with Time, and still grows: The sure Sign of high Merit! They who spoke not well of her some Years ago, do it now: They who speak with Indifference of her now, will praise her some Years hence.

The worthless Dead, as they could not expect, neither can they bear Remembrance. True Worth gains by the Grave. The Good which they did, is remembred: The little and great Falsities, raised about them, are forgotten; personal Envy ceases; the Clamour of Party is heard no more: Justice is restored, Truth prevails, and that Virtue, which stands in no Man’s Way, is by all Men applauded.

After Death, Characters are better known. The Good stand the Test of Posterity. The Great and Virtuous continue to be loved and praised. The Great and Bad are hated and blasted. Nero and Messalina are Names of Reproach and Horror, at the End of Seventeen hundred Years: Scipio and Portia are Names still celebrated, at a greater Distance of Time. They themselves indeed feel neither Obloquy, nor Praise: But they will ever live in Record, and reap eternal Renown, or eternal Infamy. It cannot but be a Pleasure to the Public, to see what laudable Claims Your Royal Highness already has to the Favour of Posterity.

Great Heroes, when they prove just Rulers, are a matchless Blessing. Such were Aristides, Epaminondas, the two Scipio’s, with many other Antients. Such was Henry IV. of France: Such was our Edward III. Such our King William. Such Blessing is the more valuable, as it is exceeding rare. Few Heroes prove just Magistrates, and therefore are imperfect Heroes, whatever Custom and Flattery may call them: They generally as little regard the Rights as the Lives of Men. A late celebrated Prince in the North, as warlike a Spirit as ever alarmed or wasted the World, had small Tenderness for Magistracy and Laws, and as little Feeling for human Calamities. Cromwell had great Talents for Government: So had Cæsar. But they were Usurpers; and as the Laws were against Them, They were against the Laws. Demetrius Poliorcetes was a Hero, at least a complete Warrior; but had utter Contempt for the civil Tribunal, and regular Administration of Justice: He knew no Decision of Property, but by the Sword, and was a Soldier in the Seat of Judgment.

Your Royal Highness will own, that the most comprehensive, the most amiable Qualities of a Prince are Justice and Fortitude. Aristotle, I think, places the latter foremost in the Rank of moral Virtues; probably because it implies a Defence of the rest. People, therefore, under a King thus qualified, have reason to think themselves happy: It is a dangerous Symptom where they do not. The best Rulers do not escape popular Censure, however poorly founded. The Athenians reproached the virtuous Cymon for having bad Wine; as the Romans did the great Scipio Africanus for sleeping, having no other Fault to find with him: The Enemies of Pompey upbraided him, for using but one Finger in scratching his Head. Plutarch, who observes this, adds, that the People, growing tired with their old Rulers, often incline to worse, out of pure Wantonness, and from a Taste utterly depraved.

For myself, Sir, I sincerely believe, that as no Prince ever oppressed or wronged his Subjects, without suffering bitter Retribution in some Shape; I am equally persuaded, that no People ever proved ungrateful to a good Prince, without paying dear for it, and punishing themselves. I hope Your Royal Highness will never see Either Case tried; I am satisfied You will contribute to Neither, but (were there Occasion) always delight to prevent Both.

I have great Pleasure in subscribing myself, as I do, with very zealous and very profound Respect,

SIR,                                        

Your most Dutiful,                

Most Obedient, and        

Most Humble Servant,

T. Gordon.

INTRODUCTION.

THE following Translation of Sallust was not the earliest Part of the following Work. Most of the Discourses were begun, several of them finished, before the Translation was attempted. They consist of such Observations as occurred to me from reading Sallust, and from the signal Pravity of those Times, of that People and Government; a licentious People, a crazy Government, and therefore terrible Times; a Government generally enfeebled by a loose Administration; sometimes severely attacked, when best administred; always labouring under some dangerous Disorder and Defect; for the most part hurt by Attempts to reform it; frequently oppressed by such who professed to support it; at last, overthrown by insidious Reformers: The boldest and most pernicious Schemes often best received, and the best Men least heard, in most Peril, generally undone, for opposing the worst. The virtuous Cato dragged, like a Criminal, from the Forum, for thwarting the pestilent Projects of Cæsar; Cicero, the Saviour of the State, banished, for punishing Criminals combined to destroy the State.

In discoursing upon Tacitus, I had affecting Subjects, the Rage, the Madness, the sanguinary Politics of the first Cæsars, with all the Horrors of Imperial Jealousy, and unbounded Will; one weak, or wicked Man, grinding, exhausting, and butchering the Roman World; himself, at last, naturally butchered, to make Way for a Rival; who, unwarned by his Fate, follows his Example, perishes like him, and leaves a Successor not wiser nor happier, living a Tyrant, and dying a Victim to Tyranny; the best Princes murdered for being so; Liberty extinct, Virtue persecuted, all Attempts to retrieve either, unpardonable and fatal.

The Subjects furnished by Sallust are equally interesting, and near as affecting; the mutual Rage and Iniquity of embittered Factions; the furious Struggles between the Nobles and Commons; both oppressing, both oppressed, in their turns, with equal Wantonness and Injustice; and the Consequences equally destructive to both: Prevailing Corruption in the State; shocking Venality in the Courts of Justice, Rapine in the Provinces, barefaced Iniquity in the Senate; Parricides prospering, Patriots perishing, Liberty prostituted and expiring; Conspiracies, Usurpation, and Wars, both Civil and Foreign.

The only two intire Pieces which remain of the Works of Sallust, are Catiline’s Conspiracy, and the Jugurthine War; the latter much earlier in Time, but the former first composed; both written with Spirit, and fine Style; but the Jugurthine War the most regular, the most connected, and the most masterly Performance.

Sallust had great Talents for History, and where he adheres to it, and pursues the Thread of it, does it with great Clearness and Ability; engages, leads, and pleases his Readers; but is apt to balk them by starting from his Subject; and his Digressions, however ingenious, are too declamatory; and much good Sense is blended with much Self-sufficiency. His Prefaces have remarkably this Turn: They are more eloquent than pertinent, full indeed of curious Speculations, of high Panegyrics upon Virtue, of keen Invectives against Folly and Vice, but replete with Compliments to himself, and the Importance of his own Character and Studies, to which these Prefaces seem Introductions, rather than to his History. In them he takes care to keep the Attention of his Readers as much upon himself as upon the Subject; and, in arraigning ill Rule, and ill Rulers, his public Zeal seems heightened by private Pique. He publishes his own Picture, and Discontents, before his Works; hurts himself with his Readers, by displaying not only the Vanity, but the Sourness and Resentment of the Writer; impairs Truth by Strokes of Ostentation and Satire, the Dignity of History by Invective, and the Impartiality of an Historian by personal Disgusts.

Whatever Faults the Government had, (and great ones they were, God knows!) it is likely that he would not have railed at it, had he been in it. He flatters the Usurper Cæsar as copiously, as he inveighs against the former free Administration; and, in accepting the Rule of a Province from that Usurper, made it appear; by his insatiable and infamous Administration in it, how much he had wanted such Preferment, how unfit he was for it, how unworthy of it. He plundered Numidia without Bowels; nor amongst all the corrupt, all the rapacious provincial Rulers ever sent from Rome, did the worst of them prove more rapacious and corrupt, than this Declaimer against corrupt Rulers. His Conduct in Numidia was so flagitious and black, that even his partial Patron Cæsar, the Promoter and Defender of guilty Magistrates, and of all guilty Men, could not support him: He was forced to retire, and lived in Voluptuousness and Disgrace, upon the infinite Spoils of his inhuman Magistracy. This makes the other public Charge probable, that he had formerly dishonoured the Quæstorship by the like unbounded Corruption and Venality, had been thence doomed to public Punishment, and seems never to have forgiven the State for inflicting it.

There are other Charges against him; but, as they were not of so public a Nature, I omit them. His Affectation of old Words and Phrases is but a small Charge, and he seldom incurs it. Language is always flowing, never sixes. Yet every Generation believe their own to be just then in its Perfection; nor, when it is fallen ever so low, will they perceive it, much less suffer it to be reduced to a better Standard. The Modes of Speaking, like other prevailing Modes, seem always best, and are always most pleasing to the Many. The Ear is no more infallible than the Eye. Whoever deviates from the Phrases and Pronunciation in Fashion, is thought as absurd as if he crossed the Fashion in his Dress. The English Language seems to me, to have come to Perfection in Queen Elizabeth’s Time: It hath since received some Improvements, as well as suffered some Decay; and is still in Danger of decaying further, chiefly by following the French Language, which is itself fallen, and its Spirit greatly sunk. The learned and judicious Monsieur Pasquier, in his Recherches de la France, complains of this Decay in his Time, One hundred and Fifty Years ago; not only that many good Words were difused, and worse introduced, but the same Words were altered for the worse, and lost their Force for Glibness. He makes the same Observations of the Italian Tongue. Monsieur Passerat, Professor of Rhetoric at Paris, an able Critic, acquits Sallust from the Imputation of reviving old Words, or rather commends him for it, upon the same Principles.

His Language, upon the Whole, is pleasing and pathetic, his Narration natural, his Speeches strong and persuasive, his Descriptions exact and beautiful, the Reflections curious and poignant, the Characters striking and just; his own, that of a noble and instructive Historian, a great Writer, not without great Faults in his Writings; I do not mean only his Flattery and Partiality to Cæsar; his Prejudices to Cicero are apparent and unpardonable. He speaks very sparingly of that great Man, by Right the Hero of his History: He treats him with the Contempt of a few civil Epithets, and says of him just what he must say, in order to explain the Progress and Issue of the Conspiracy. Though he is apt to go out of his Way, in order to display his own lively Talents in drawing Characters, he exercises none of them upon that of Cicero, where there was such a loud Call for it, so much Scope for the most brilliant Colours, and such a Crime in omitting them.

This is not only a Defect, but a Stain, in his History of the Conspiracy. He gives us an accurate Portraiture of Catiline, is copious in the Display of his Abilities, as well as of his Crimes; and, not content with declaring him a great Master of Eloquence, presents us two large Specimens of his great Power in Speaking. He gives us an artful and able Speech of Cæsar’s to save the Conspirators, without owning that Cæsar meant to save them, much less that he was one of them; nay, takes Pains to justify him, and afterwards draws a pompous and amiable Character of that dangerous and guilty Man. He makes no Attempt to draw that of Cicero, who, though well known to the Romans, was not better known than Cæsar. He illustrates the Character of Memmius, by an admirable Speech of Memmius, which yet he might have spared without laming the Story. But in recounting the Defeat of a most dreadful Conspiracy, by the Vigilance and divine Abilities of Cicero, he makes Cicero do nothing but what any plain sensible Magistrate, of common Integrity and Spirit, might have done. The Consul indeed encourages the Confederates of Catiline to betray Catiline: He takes the ordinary Precautions, is pressed with Difficulties, calls the Senate, and makes them a Speech, which Sallust owns to have been a vigorous and a seasonable one, but produces not a Sentence of it. It is true, he adds, that Cicero afterwards published it: And may we not suppose, that those of Cæsar and Cato were likewise published? The Argument and Substance of both were kept, as usual, in the Journals of the Senate.

This dry and narrow Treatment of Cicero is a Notable Failing in his History, and, considering the Talents of the Historian, a Malicious Failing.

It is the Part of an Historian, and his Duty, as to cover Traitors with Detestation, and Treason with Horror, so to throw all Lustre upon public Merit, and to brighten the Character of a public Saviour. Sallust sets Catiline in a fuller Light, than he does the illustrious and immortal Consul, who conquered Catiline, and all his formidable Train. Suppose Cæsar had been in Cicero’s Place, and done what Cicero did; how differently and splendidly would he have shone in the warm and brilliant Strains of his Friend and Admirer, the Historian! Sallust should at least have given us a Summary of Cicero’s first Speech to the Senate, where the Consul encounters Catiline with such Spirit. He ought to have made an Extract of the Consul’s other Speeches, where the Consul recounts the dark Doings of him and his Accomplices, with as much Clearness as Sallust does, and adds some material Circumstances, not found in Sallust.

Cicero’s Account of the Examination of the Conspirators before the Senate, in his third Oration, is as pertinent as any thing in Sallust, and more curious. So is his Detail of the several Characters and Ranks of Men engaged with the Conspirators, in his second Oration. So is his Summary of the Civil Disorders past, compared with the present Conspiracy: So is his Relation of the Proceedings of the Senate, with the high and unparallelled Honours there decreed to himself, but not once mentioned by Sallust: So is his Character of Catiline. Indeed these Orations against Catiline furnish such essential Lights to that tremendous Conspiracy, that, as soon as I had translated Sallust, I translated Them, on purpose to supply the Defects of Sallust.

The Historian should have told us, with what masterly Address the wise Consul managed both People and Senate, and with what different Strains he addressed to each. The Historian should have exhibited at large the fourth Oration, where the Orator so artfully sooths Cæsar, and so dexterously turns to his own Purpose the artful Reasoning of Cæsar. Not a Word of all this in Sallust; an Author so fond of repeating long Speeches, even some that suspend his Narration, and hinder historical Connection.

As the Mind of Man, engaged in an interesting Story, and earnestly pressing towards the Issue, is never to be diverted but by such Incidents and Characters as tend to produce it: Equal too is the Impatience of the Readers, when they find the Historian defective, or dry, in his Display of the principal Actors, and of the Parts which they act; when they perceive him loth to represent, or malevolent in representing, or omitting to represent, such Persons and Parts. Such a Discovery provokes the Reader, and depreciates the Writer.

In Sallust you see Catiline, you see Jugurtha, at full Length, their untameable Spirit, their superior Genius, their many Qualifications, their infinite Resources, their unwearied Application, their prevailing Address: You see the dreadful Probability of their Success, and the Proximity of Ruin to the State; you rejoice in its Escape, and in their just Doom. To other great Names he does the same copious Justice. Metellus, Marius, Sylla, are all represented in sine and full Light, and their Characters and Praise minutely and impartially set before the Reader. The Story and Sufferings of the unhappy Atherbal are affectingly told, particularly from his own Mouth, in that most moving Speech of his to the Senate, one of the sinest and most interesting in History.

But the glorious Conduct of Cicero, his high Courage, his Penetration, his wise Schemes, his Address and Temporizing, his various and prevailing Eloquence, are so far from being set in a glorious Light by Sallust, that all which Cicero does and says there, is no more than what might have been done and said by a very inferior Senator. He gives you Cicero for a Man of Sense, Experience, and Credit. But in him you behold not Cicero, the consummate Statesman, the inimitable Orator, the determined Patriot, nor any Traces of a sublime and superlative Genius.

So many unnatural Omissions, and the Prejudices of the Historian against the Orator, are probably the chief Cause why the History of Catiline’s Conspiracy is so loose and defective a Performance. There are many complete Things in it, Speeches, Characters, Recitals; but the History itself is not complete. Nor was it possible he could have composed it as he ought, without giving such a Brilliancy to the great Name, and unparallelled Services, of Cicero, as a prejudiced Pen could not give. It is a Performance certainly far inferior to the History of Jugurtha.

A fine Genius doubtless he had: It is by the Strength of this, that he hides, recommends, and even dignifies his Faults; and generally rouses and delights his Readers by the Sprightliness of his Thoughts and Phrases, even when he carries his Readers out of the Way.

I found it very difficult to translate him, though not so difficult as to translate Tacitus. Neither do I think him an Author equal to Tacitus, nor to possess the same Majesty and Depth. Besides, in Tacitus you find no Traces of Conceit, no Self-praise. All his Pomp is natural, the Effect of the Subject upon his Spirit, and of his Spirit upon his Pen. Sallust studies to be eloquent: He flourishes to please himself, and to make his Reader pleased with him, and seems to enjoy his own Performance. He was a fine Genius; Tacitus a great one.

Sallust, I own, is more in the general Taste, and has more Readers, than Tacitus, because he is more easily understood, and therefore in more Hands. He is a School-Book: Boys learn him together with the Latin Tongue; and, valuing themselves for understanding Him, they value Him as the first and best Historian. Tacitus is understood by very few; it is incredible by how few: Yet all pretend to judge of his Character, and, taking his Faults upon Trust, hand the trite Exceptions against him, with notable Confidence, from one to another. There is nothing more absurd than most of these Exceptions; as I have at large shewn in my Apology for him and his Writings(a): The greatest is, that he dives malignantly into the Hearts of Princes for malignant Strokes of Policy there. But the Instances which they give, confute the Charge; not only as such Instances are natural and probable, but mentioned by other Historians no-wise suspected of Refining, or want of Veracity.

The other Exceptions against him are equally ill-grounded, perhaps started by some sage Pedant, who did not understand him, then believed, and handed down by such as could not read him. All the Objections against him are new: He was highly admired by the great and learned Men, his Cotemporaries, who found great Excellencies in his Works, without any Flaws. Nor do I find, that he had any Censurers, as a Writer, for near Fifteen hundred Years. Are modern Critics likely to judge better of his Character or Language? Yet many such Critics there are, most of them superficial and misled. Even a false Critic, of any Reputation, is usually followed by Numbers, who deserve none.

In the Translation of Sallust, I have, throughout, used my usual Style, and hope it will not be found altogether unsuitable to the Style of Sallust. In that of Tacitus, I went into some Variations: And I believe there are few that understand Tacitus, but will own they were necessary: It is no Wonder, that such as understood him not, found fault with them. Though such Variations occur but here and there, chiefly in his Speeches and Reflections, and are nowise obscure to any intelligent Reader; they were by some confidently said to run through the Whole, and the English to be as obscure as the Latin. Such is the Truth and Candour to be found in vulgar Critics, of all Ranks, even when they can be confuted in every Bookseller’s Shop. To comply with the common Taste, I made many Alterations in the second Edition; and cased several Sentences, which were reckoned stiff. And this I did directly against the Opinion of the late Duke of Argyll, a most accomplished Judge, and of some other great Persons still amongst us, of equal Taste and Abilities, and, from their Knowlege of Men and Business, best qualified for understanding Tacitus: But the public Cry is sometimes to be humoured, even when it is ill-grounded.

In the present Translation, I have fully avoided all such Cause of Complaint. In conveying the Sense of Sallust, I do not pretend to tell all my Readers, learned or unlearned, that I have not sometimes mistaken it. I took all possible care to find it; and were I to take theirs, where they differ from me, I probably should find others, besides myself, to differ from them.

I doubt not but it is possible to find Ten Persons, all tolerable Judges, who would translate so many Sentences of Sallust, or any other Antient, Ten different Ways. Every Judge, good or bad, is apt to take himself for a competent Judge. I shall be nowise piqued against any Man for differing from me: I hope for the same reasonable Allowance and Treatment from all Men. As we are all liable to be mistaken, it is both indecent and unfair to insult over the Mistakes of one another; especially to insult falsly, when there may, perhaps, be no real Mistake, but only one raised by our own Self-sufficiency and Heat.

A Friend of mine, some Years ago, brought me a Weekly Paper, where I was treated with great Outrage, by an angry Man, for mistaking so egregiously (as He thought I did) a Passage in Tacitus. It is where Germanicus tells his mutinous Legions, that Cæsar had once reclaimed his seditious Army by a single Word, Quirites vocando: I translate it, by calling them Townsmen. ‘No, says the well-bred Fault-finder, This is not the Sense, and a School-Boy would have been whipped for so turning it. I, says he, would have translated it thus; He called them Romans, and all was quiet.’ Observe how confidently this blind Observer perverts Cæsar’s Words! It was not a Compliment, but a Rebuke: Quirites vocando; They were no longer Soldiers; he disowned them for such, declared them discharged, and called them what they now were, so many of the Populace, Townsmen, a Multitude.

The Fact and the Consent of Historians about it, of Dio, Plutarch, Suetonius, confirm this to be the Meaning of the Words; Quirites vocando, in other Words, solutos Militia, dismissed from the Service.—In Lucan’s Paraphrase it tuns

———Discedite Castris:

Tradite nostra viris, ignavi, signa, Quirites.

From these Words, and the whole Speech, may be seen, that, instead of soothing them, he treats them with sovereign Scorn and Indignation. Rowe translates these Lines thus:

For you, ye vulgar Herd, in Peace return:

My Ensigns shall by manly Hands be borne.

Lampridius, in the Life of Alexander Severus, explains the Word just as I have done. Severitatis autem tantæ fuit in milites, ut sæpe legiones integras exauctoravit, ex militibus Quirites appellans. ‘Such was his Severity in Discipline, that he often dismissed whole Legions; calling them (instead of Soldiers) Townsmen; Quirites appellans.’ The same choleric Writer asks, What Discoveries I had made about Tacitus? My Answer is, That I have discovered the Meaning of Tacitus; a Discovery which, it is plain, He had not made.

I should have taken no Notice of such vain Censure; but some of my Friends told me, that they heard it quoted in a Coffee-House (perhaps by the Author) with Approbation. It will serve too as an Example, what Confidence attends Ignorance; how prone People, especially coarse People, are to censure; what ridiculous and scurrilous Attacks an Author is liable to, for being in the Right; and with this View only I mention it.

I shall quote another Censure upon my Translation of Tacitus, a very general Censure. Tacitus says, in the Reign of Augustus, Tranquillæ res Romæ. I translate these Words, ‘In profound Tranquillity were Things at Rome.’ Is not that the Sense of the Words? Yes, say the Critics; but the Sentence is forced and transposed: It should have been, Things at Rome were in Tranquillity. The Truth is, either Way does; but the first Way is at least as common as the other amongst all our best Writers, and, in my Taste, is the best Way.

A Person of a learned Profession, who ought to be learned, for he lives by it, roundly asserted in Company, That I did not understand Tacitus. A Gentleman present, provoked at such an ungenerous Assertion, asked the Assertor, Whether he was sure, that he himself understood Tacitus? He added, That he had read both the Original and the Translation, and found such a Charge to be utterly unjust: Therefore, Sir, says he, I will send the Boy of the Coffee-House for a Tacitus, that you may convince us, that you do, or do not, understand him. The candid Critic left the Room, for fear it should come; but so Crest-fallen as to own, that he did not understand every Part of Tacitus. He did not stay to convince the Company, that he understood any Part of him.

I have carefully examined, and re-examined, every Sentence of Sallust, frequently revised the Whole, always compared it with the Original, and have had it under my Eye for many Years. There is surely great Difficulty in any such Undertaking. The Languages, the Times, and the Taste, are all so remote and different from ours, that it is next to impossible to convert antient Terms and Transactions into any modern Language, at least so to convert them, as to make them please equally with the Original; especially Works of Genius, where the Translator has not only the hard Task of conceiving and forming the same Images, of seeing them in the same Light, of animating them with the same Spirit, as his Author (a Tacitus, or a Horace) saw, formed, and conceived and animated them: He has another Task still as hard, that of finding equivalent Phrases to clothe, convey, and recommend them, in a Language of very different Idioms and Contexture, a patched Gothic Language, full of Particles and Monosyllables, so inconsistent with Harmony and Sound; and hobbling with auxiliary Verbs, so repugnant to Brevity and Force. It is small Wonder, that many Men should differ one with another about the Meaning of Words in a dead Language, when so few agree in the precise Ideas to be annexed to many Words in their own?

It is a bold Undertaking to translate any Author of Genius into any other Tongue, even a modern Author into a modern Tongue; though so many of the modern Tongues resemble and depend upon each other; and such Authors are generally mangled and cut, rather sunk and perverted, than translated. It must therefore be a very bold Attempt to undertake one of the great Antients, who are rarely to be known in a new Dress, in which their Spirit is generally degraded into Pertness, their Dignity evaporated in Bombast, their Ease lost in Flatness, and their Fluency in Chitchat. It is an Attempt I never intended to have made, and was indeed drawn into it. My first View was to write Discourses upon Tacitus, as an Author of wonderful Wisdom and Parts, who had long delighted me, and filled me with a Thousand Reflections, which I had a mind to connect and publish.

I had no Thoughts of translating him, till I was told by a Gentleman in the City(a), how ill he was translated; and he persuaded me to translate him, as well as comment upon him. Upon Examination, I found the English Translations of him to be such as I have represented them in the first Discourse prefixed to him.

I should have been extremely glad to have found a good Translation of Sallust. But that which we have of him is dry and tasteless, cold and heavy, full of Mistakes and vulgar Phrases, nothing of the Vivacity, or Fire, or Elevation, of Sallust; the Style knotty, harsh, and perplexed, so opposite to the round, perspicuous, and slowing Periods of Sallust. The Translator, far from warmed, much less inspired, by his Author, does not seem to feel him.

I therefore thought it necessary to make a new Translation, and no hard Task to make a better, however short of the Original. I thought mine the fittest to accompany the Discourses written upon him.

The great Point in translating, is to pursue, or, if possible, rather to assume and possess, the Spirit and Character of the Author. To render him Word for Word, will be insipid: Though it may be exact, it can never be just, unless the Sensation of the Author be conveyed, as well as his Words, and grammatical Meaning.

An able Writer not only gives, but enforces, his own Meaning: His Manner is as significant as his Words, and therefore becomes Part of his Sentiments. It is thus in Speaking as well as Writing: The liveliest Speech in the World, rehearsed by a heavy Man, will sound heavily. What moved, and sired, and charmed the Audience, out of one Mouth, would put them to Sleep out of another. An Oration of Demosthenes, repeated like a Lease by a Clerk; or one of Cicero’s, pronounced by a Pedant; instead of Rage and Terror, would rouse Laughter and Impatience.

Who can discover the Ardour and Vivacity of Horace, in the Version of Monsieur D’Acier? Yet D’Acier knew, as well as any Man, the Meaning of every Word in Horace, with all his Figures, Allusions, and References.

Plutarch, the entertaining judicious Plutarch, is a dry Writer, as translated by the same D’Acier, though accurately translated: Plutarch, translated by Amyot, is an entertaining, a pleasing Author: Yet, in Amyot’s Translation, there are numberless Mistakes: A French Critic, and a very learned Man, Monsieur Meziriac, reckons them at Two thousand, all very gross ones. D’Acier’s is an exact Translation of Plutarch’s Words: Amyot is a Copy of Plutarch himself; resembles his Author, and writes as well. Amyot is a Genius: D’Acier is a learned Man.

I am much concerned to see so learned and useful a Writer as Plutarch, make so ill a Figure in English: Most of his Lives are poorly Englished; nor is bad Language the worst Fault: They are full of egregious Blunders. Several of them are ill translated from Amyot, by such as understood not French. Many of the instructive Pieces, called his Morals, have fared as ill. A good Translation of all his Works would be a valuable Performance.

Who would not rather read a Discourse of Archbishop Tillotson’s upon any ordinary Subject, though ever so full of Inaccuracies, than a learned Dissertation of the correct Mr. Thomas Hearn upon the best Subject?

I doubt no Work of Genius can be well translated, but by an Author of Genius; and therefore, there can never be many tolerable Translations in the World. Cicero, in translating the noblest Greek Writers, has excelled them all: Cicero was a good Translator, because he was a great Genius.

Terence is only a Translator; but he had fine Taste, Politeness, and Parts, and a Genius for Comedy and genteel Conversation. This was his great Qualification: His Knowledge of the two Languages only helped him to shew it. He might have had great Skill in both, without Success, or Fame, as a Comic Poet. Terence translated Comedy with Applause, because he had a fine Genius for Comedy. He himself is shamefully travestied by Sir Roger L’Estrange, and Dr. Echard, and much gross Ribaldry fathered upon so pure and polite a Writer.

Mr. Hobbes has translated the Historian Thucydides well; for Mr. Hobbes had equal Talents for History: But he has ill translated Homer, though he well understood Homer; for he had not equal Talents for Poetry. Mr. Dryden, with all his Faults, and many unwarrantable Freedoms, has made a fine Translation of Virgil, because he was as great a Poet as Virgil; indeed, a great and various Poet: We have Poems of his, such as, I think, Virgil could not write; one Ode particularly, equal, if not superior, to any in Antiquity.

Many of the Speeches and brightest Passages in Lucan, are rendered by Mr. Row with equal Force, in a Language so unequal, because he had a Genius as warm and poetical as Lucan; though Lucan, with infinite Sinkings, has infinite Elevation, and many glorious Lines.

I have often wished, that such a fine Genius as Dr. Burnet of the Charter-house, had translated Livy. He had grave and grand Conceptions, with harmonious flowing Periods, equal to those of the great Roman Historian. Sir Walter Raleigh would have still done it better, as he was a wonderful Master of such Subjects, and wonderfully qualified to represent them. Many Parts of his History of the World are hardly to be matched, never to be exceeded; particularly his Relation of the second Punic War; where he recounts the Conduct of the Roman and Carthaginian Commonwealths, and of their several Commanders, especially of Hannibal, with surprising Capacity, Clearness, and Force.

There occurs to me one Passage out of the English Livy, which will shew what Justice we have done that noble and elegant Writer. A great Officer says to a Roman General in the Field, (I think he calls him Sir, too) ‘Whilst you stand Shilly-shally here, as a Man may say, the Enemy will tread upon your Toes.’ Could a Groom of that General have used meaner Language to a Fellow Groom? I give the Passage upon Memory—The Words are either Shilly-shally, or with your Hands in your Pockets, or both.

A Writer of Genius, translated by one who has none, or a mean one, will appear meanly. Even the Meaning of every Word may be conveyed, yet the Meaning of the Writer missed or mangled. It is in Translating, as in Painting: Where the Air, the Spirit, and Dignity of the Original are wanting, Resemblance is wanting. To be able to translate, a Man must be able to do something like what he translates.

What can be more unlike, what more unworthy of Virgil than Hannibal Caro’s Translation of Virgil’s Æneis into Italian? Dryden justly calls it scandalously mean, and adds, that he is a Foot-Poet, ‘and lacquies by the Side of Virgil at best, but never mounts behind him.’ Yet Hannibal Caro was far from being unacquainted with Virgil’s Meaning. He saw plainly what Virgil had done, but could not do like him, though he thought that he could: Ogilby too knew the Words and Grammar in Virgil; and only wanted Capacity to write like Virgil.

Sir Samuel Garth coming one Morning to visit the late Duke of Argyll, with a Book in his Hand, the Duke asked him what it was. The Knight told him, that it was a Philosophical Work of Tully’s, translated by a very Reverend Divine, and named Mr. Collyer. The Duke asked him, How Mr. Collyer had done it? ‘Gad, my Lord Duke, replied the Knight, he makes the Orator chatter very smartly.

I have not examined, whether Sir Samuel’s Joke was as true as it was bitter: But surely, if Mr. Collyer’s Cicero chattered, he was no longer Marcus Tullius Cicero.

It hath been generally believed, upon the Credit, I suppose, of Grammarians and Commentators, Lipsius, I think, is one of them, that Tacitus imitates Sallust: A Discovery which I could never make; unless all Authors of Spirit and masterly Expression imitate one another. There is such Painting in Tacitus, as comes from no Pencil but his own. I cannot find that he imitates any Writer. I do not know any Writer that can be said to imitate Him; nor can any Writer, who has a Manner of his own, be properly said to imitate any other. Whom does Horace imitate? It cannot be Pindar; for, in my Opinion, he exceeds Pindar; though he compliments Pindar with being inimitable. Whom does Lucretius imitate? He had his Subject and System from Epicurus: His Style and Conceptions were his own. I know one who has written like Sallust, and equalled him both in Expression and Spirit; I mean Paterculus: It is true, he is much less read; for he wrote only an Abridgment of the History of the Romans; a Sort of Work never so taking as a History at Length, equally executed. Besides, he destroyed his moral Character, by his boundless Flattery to Tiberius, and his Minister Sejanus, and has been ever since discredited by the concurring Testimony of other Historians.

The Characters of Princes are, in a great measure, in the Power of Authors. Julius Cæsar and Augustus have derived fine Characters from fine, but flattering Writers, particularly from the Poets. Tiberius bears a terrible one from the Historians; though the Evil he did was but minute and contemptible, in Comparison with what Julius and Augustus did. He dispatched particular Romans: They slaughtered the Romans by Myriads.

For myself, I am far from pretending to write like Sallust, or to be so fit, as I ought, to translate him. I think I am not vain in saying, that I have done him more Justice, than hath been yet done him in English, I hope as much as is done him in any other Language. Nor am I afraid of Criticism. Where it is just and decent, (and, without Decency, it cannot be just) I shall chearfully submit to it, and be thankful for it. Where it is gross, or false, or angry, I shall not answer what I cannot retaliate. Criticism is never to be feared, merely from the Ill-will of the Critic. Detestable is that Criticism which Ill-will dictates. It is the more harmless, by its evident Bent to do Harm.

Spire and Outrage are Signs of a bad Cause, as well as Disqualifications for managing a good. No able Man wants the Aid of Scurrility; no good Man can use such Aid. Were Grossness and Abuse to be admitted into Criticism and Controversy, the foolishest Man would have the greatest Advantage, and be victorious over the Wisest. No wise Man (a Character always implying Temper and Manners) can excel in what he never can learn: No wise Man, no good-tempered Man, can therefore vye with Champions in Railing and Contumely. Foolish Men, (a Character which takes in even tolerable Parts, governed by violent Passions; I say, foolish Men) are ever the greatest Masters in this Sort of Style and Behaviour. The basest People are best qualified to give the basest Language.

It yields us some Consolation, that bitter and malevolent Tempers punish themselves: They are not always gratified; never so thoroughly as they wish, and therefore become Fuel to their own Malice. A spiteful Man is an unhappy Man, as well as an odious Character: If he would preserve Esteem, or hope for it, he must hide his Heart. He preys upon himself as much as he would upon others, and suffers under the Agnoies he would make others suffer, often under stronger Agonies. His bitter Wishes bring him more Anguish than he can inflict elsewhere; and, as he delights to hurt others, it must delight them to see him revenge them upon himself. At best, he is a wretched Being; the most he can hope for is Pity; and he is the more wretched, as he deserves none.

It is the Wisdom, it is the Goodness and Justice of Providence, to make malevolent Hearts their own Tormentors, and bad Men actually hurt themselves by wishing hurt to others. They earn and pre-occupy the Pain and Misery, which they study to inflict, and make Retribution to the Innocent and Deserving, for hating and reviling them. Envy is blasted by its own Breath; and injurious Censure turns to Praise. Who would chuse to possess the Bane of a rancorous Spirit? Who would seed the Torture of Envy? Who would burn with raging Rancour? Whoever hates any Man, pays dear for his Hate: Whoever is cursed with a revengeful Heart, needs no other Curse.

Whatever comes Abroad tolerably written, and gains Attention and Esteem, is sure to be attacked by the common Herd of Writers, who are generally foolish, malignant Men, and mad with Vanity. Amongst them there is no such Thing as a common Writer. They are all Men of Genius: A middling Poet, and a middling Painter, is not to be found; much less a bad Poet, or a bad Painter, or any bad Writer, in their own Opinion. Such as have the least Parts, boast the highest. Yet whilst they claim every Sufficiency to themselves, they will allow none elsewhere. They who want the most Indulgence, grant none. They who most try the Patience of others, exercise no Patience. Or if they have good Parts, with ill Nature, they have little to boast of: A good natured Fool is a better Character.

I have had great Experience of the Gentlemen of this Cast. I have had above an Hundred Antagonists, as great a Secret as the World would make of their Labours; to use the Words of a witty Man, very unjustly applied to a very great Man; I mean by Dr. Swift to Mr. Dryden. I found their Civility such as I could not return, and their Arguments such as needed no Answer. I have been abused most by such of them as I had most served; and thence found, that there are some Tempers so black as to be provoked with kind Usage. I have found some so vain, that no good Treatment could reach their Merit; some so craving, as only to be beholden for Favours to come; others, who having praised me too copiously, without any Court or Temptation from me, have abused me as plentifully, without being once offended by me: Others, so little scrupulous as to revile me for Writings which I never wrote: Others, who, after the highest Advantages received by my Means and Recommendation, chose me out for the chief Object of their Hate and Slander: Others, whom I have saved, with great Difficulty and Pains, from Disgrace and Ruin, have taken equal Pains to injure and asperse me. I can produce as high a Panegyric as ever was made upon Man, and as vile a Libel, both in Print, and both from the same Author; the former, without my ever having seen him, the latter, without ever having wronged him; nay, after I had done him a Thousand good Offices: And all his infinite and virulent Abuse was founded upon a crazy Mistake of his own. I have supported an Author for a whole Winter, and have had his Thanks next Summer in a furious printed Invective, whilst he was still writing me Letters full of Acknowledgement and high Professions.

The common Fraternity of Writers (a most unbrotherly Fraternity) furnish a Swarm of Critics. For, almost all Writers are Critics, in the rigorous but wrong Sense of the Word; and are therefore ready to damn and run down all superior Productions, and to shew the least Mercy to the most Merit. If any Work merit Praise, this is to them sufficient Provocation to decry it. I have known some of them appear fond of a Book, till they saw it succeed, then grow mad at its Success, and wonder at the foolish Taste of the Town. As I have received many Proofs of their Good-will, I know their Candour. I hope my Readers will judge for themselves. I have made my Thoughts clear to every understanding Reader: Foolish Readers will never understand, yet are sometimes the readiest to find Fault.

The smallest Writer has it in his Power, one Way, to imitate the greatest, with Success, by being modest and civil: If he cannot banish Spite, he may conceal it; if he shew none, he will have the Credit of having none: Whenever it appears, it brings Reproach; and he must needs be a very miserable and low Author, who produces nothing but his own Disgrace and Condemnation. To produce nothing Good, may be pardoned, if the Intention appear to be Good: To produce nothing but what deserves Reproach, is utterly unpardonable.

Ill-nature, or coarse Language, from Men of Parts, always impairs, sometimes ruins, their Character. Dr. Bentley was a most learned Man; a most sagacious and discerning Critic, though too bold a Guesser in Criticism. Had it not been for his rough Behaviour, his apparent Scorn and Contempt for all Men, particularly for those who differed from him, he would have been the most formidable Critic of his Time. His Self-sufficiency and coarse Manners sunk him, and disgraced a very extraordinary Character. This smothered his many Excellencies, and made all his Faults so glaring. Those who conquered him in Politeness, had the Applause; whilst he who conquered them in Argument, had none; as was manifestly the Case in the famous Dispute about the Epistles of Phalaris. His Name is vulgarly become a Name of Derision and Mirth, instead of Praise and Esteem. He who behaved like a Savage to all Men, was treated by all Men as a Savage. Thus he behaved, thus he wrote, and thus he fared. Though he was still formidable to those who knew his Strength; yet, many witty Men severely rallied him, and every Witling laughed at him; nay, they laughed with the World on their Side, even in Instances where he could have crushed all the Witlings in it. So much did he gain by defying all Men, and so little will every Man gain who does it. A stern dictating Pedant, whatever Learning he may have, has no Friends: Weak Men may fear him, and so may some very able Men, who care not to be exposed to Dirt and Invective; but no Man loves him.

What can smaller Writers, Men of inferior Genius, with equal Insolence and Brutality, expect, but to be as low in Contempt as they are high in Arrogance. All Authors of great and unmixed Fame, have been signal for Civility, for Candour, and Humanity, Mr. Locke, Dr. Tillotson, with another eminent Prelate now living, and Mr. Bayle: All great Names, all furiously attacked, but never returning the most furious Attacks with Fury; all engaged in Controversy, yet all exempt from controversial Sourness and Pedantry.

Mr. Bayle had more able Antagonists than ever Man had, with many who were very bitter and hot; yet, with all their Bitterness and Heat, he was never provoked to lose his Temper: He still preserved the Coolness and Dignity of a great Genius, perhaps, one of the most surprising that ever was in the World, joining so much Temper to so much Vivacity, such infinite Learning to such infinite Parts, such strong Reasoning to such delicate Raillery. As no Writings so bulky as his ever spread more, hardly so much, none will be more lasting, or deserve to be. I have always considered him and one of his snappish Antagonists, as two Animals of one Species, but as different in Temper as in Dignity and Size: With what Rage and Clamour does the Small one fly at the Great one? With what Unconcern, and Marks of Scorn, does the Great one treat the Small?

So much concerning Writers, and the Folly of Malice and Scurrility in Writings; how detrimental they are to themselves, how offensive to Readers; and how amiable and advantageous the contrary Conduct.

The Fragments of Sallust, containing some curious Tracts and Pieces of Eloquence, were translated by a Clergyman of my Acquaintance, at my Request: I knew him to be a Gentleman of polite Taste and Style, and a perfect Judge of both Languages; as his Performance will easily convince his Reader.

I have already mentioned, and shall hereafter mention, the Orations of Cicero against Catiline, translated in the following Work. I must here acquaint the Reader, that he is beholden, in a great measure, for the Translation of one of them, to one of the first Men of the Age, for Eloquence, Knowledge, and the Conduct of Affairs, and suitably distinguished in one of the first Stations in the Government.

Before I finish, I must inform my Readers, that I have more Service to offer them. I have been some Years engaged in the History of England, and intend to pursue it. They have hitherto used me well, and will, I hope, continue to do so, if I do not use them worse. So much Favour from my Readers in general, was what, I doubt, chiefly foured and disturbed some particular Readers, such especially, as, being themselves Writers, had not what they thought they deserved, equal kind Usage. It is the Lot of Writers: Whoever pleases many, is sure to offend many; and the more Approbation, the more Censure. All who can write themselves, though ever so ill, or fancy that they can, are Judges of Writing, often the severest Judges. Every peevish and conceited Reader, nay, such as cannot read, claim the same Privilege, and are ready to find many Faults, without a Capacity to discover any.

My first Intention was to write the Life of Cromwell only: But as I found, that in order to describe his Times, it was necessary to describe the Times which preceded and introduced his, and that I could not begin even at the Reformation, without recounting many public Incidents before the Reformation; I have begun at the Conquest, and gone through several Reigns, some of them seen and approved by the ablest Judges; such Judges as would animate the slowest Ambition. Half of it will probably appear a few Years hence: The Whole will conclude with the History of Cromwell.

POSTSCRIPT.

THOUGH I have, in general, blamed the Translation of Plutarch, I own there are some of his Lives translated very well.

The ill-natured and unjust Sneer I have quoted, as thrown at Mr. Dryden in the Tale of a Tub, I find, upon looking into the Book, to be applied to Mr. Tate, the Poet Laureat: But there presently follows something as bitter, said without Truth, of Mr. Dryden.

The Inscription of the last Discourse to a most noble Person, may create Inquiry, why nothing more is said to him, or of him, though there was Room for so much. I will only add, Something further would have been said, but for his express Commands to the contrary.

Endnotes

 [(a) ] See the Second Discourse prefixed to the Annals of Tacitus.

 [(a) ] Mr. Pate, the Woollen-draper, who knows more of the Character and Excellencies of the Classics than many who profess Languages and Science, and bear learned Appellations. He said, pleasantly, ‘That Tacitus was indeed unclassicked, but not translated.

 


 

Political Discourses UPON SALLUST.

DISCOURSE I. Of Faction and Parties.

SECT. I. How easily the People are led into Faction, and kept in it, by their own Heat and Prejudices, and the Arts of their Leaders; how hard they are to be cured; and with what Partiality and Injustice each Side treats the other.

SALLUST observes, ‘That whoever raised Civil Dissentions in the Commonwealth, used plausible Pretences; some seeming to vindicate the Rights of the People; others to exalt the Authority of the Senate; Both Sorts to pursue the public Good; yet all only striving severally to procure Weight and Power to themselves. Neither, in these their Civil Contests, did any of them observe Moderation or Bounds: Whatever Party conquered, still used their Victory with Violence and Inhumanity.’ This, I doubt, is true of all Parties in their Pursuits and Success: I have, therefore, thought it pertinent to discourse here at large upon Faction and Parties.

The People are so apt to be drawn into Faction, and blindly to pursue the Steps of their Leaders, generally to their own special Prejudice, Loss, and Disquiet, if not to their utter Ruin, that he who would sincerely serve them, cannot do it more effectually, than by warning them against such ready and implicit Attachment to Names and Notions, however popular and plausible. From this evil Root have sprung many of the sore Calamities that, almost every-where, afflict Mankind. Without it the World had been happily ignorant of Tyranny and Slavery, the Two mighty Plagues that now haunt and devour the most and best Parts of it; together with the subordinate and introductory Miseries, of national Discord, Devastation, and Civil War.

People, as well as Princes, have been often undone by their Favourites. A great Man amongst them, perhaps, happened to be cried up for his fine Actions, or fine Qualities, both often overrated; and became presently their Idol, and they trusted him without Reserve: For their Love, like their Hate, is generally immoderate; nor from a Man who has done them, or can do them, much Good, have they any Apprehension of Evil; till some Rival for their Affection appear superior to their first Favourite in Art or Fortune; one who persuades them, that the other has abused them, and seeks their Ruin. Then, it is like, they make a sudden Turn, set up the latter against the former; and, having conceived an immoderate Opinion of Him, too, put immoderate Confidence in him; not that they are sure that the other had wronged them, or abused his Trust, but take it for granted, and punish him upon Presumption; trusting to the Arts and Accusations of their new Leader, who probably had deceived and inflamed them.

Thus Themistocles supplants Aristides, and is himself forced to yield to the superior Popularity of Cimon. Not that the People always want Judgment; for they sometimes judge truly, according to the Information which they have; but they are apt to credit Information too suddenly. Sometimes their Favourite preserves himself in their Esteem, in spight of all Rivals and Efforts; and pays them his Thanks for supporting him, by enslaving them. Thus acted Cæsar, Pisistratus, and Agathocles: Thus Alcibiades aimed at acting; and Pericles, in a good Degree, succeeded in his Aim; being a Tyrant without Arms, as one of the antient Writers calls him.

And as the People sometimes think themselves to have erred in their Choice, when they really have not, but are only seduced by false Insinuations; as in the Case of Aristides, who was certainly an upright Man: So when they have been mistaken, they often come to know it when it is too late; as in the Case of Cæsar; who, to fortify himself, had entered into a Confederacy with Pompey and Crassus, and thence formed the first Triumvirate. Upon this Occasion he suffered many popular Insults; and had the Mortification to see the Tide of popular Affection and Applause follow his warmest Opponents. But what availed it? He had carried his Point; and they came to their Senses too late(a).

They may possibly commit themselves to the Guidance of a Man, who certainly means them well, and seeks no base Advantage to himself: But such Instances are so rare, that the Experiment is never to be tried. Men, especially Men of Ambition, who are the forwardest to grasp at such an Office, do, chiefly, and in the first Place, consider Themselves; and, whilst guided by Partiality for themselves, cannot judge indifferently. Such a Man, measureing Reason and Justice by his Interest, may think, that it is right, that the People should always be deceived, should always be kept low, and under a severe Yoke, to hinder them from judging for Themselves, and throwing off Him, and to prevent their growing wanton and ungovernable. In short, the Fact is, (almost eternally) That their Leader only finds his Account in leading them, and They never, in being led. They make him considerable; that is, throw him into the Way of Power and Profit: This is his Point and End; and, in Consideration of all this, what does do he do for them? At best, he generally leaves them where he found them. Yet this is tolerable, nay, kind, in comparison of what oftener happens: Probably he has raised Feuds and Animosities amongst them, not to end in an Hundred Years; Fuel for intestine Wars; a Spirit of Licentiousness and Rebellion, or of Folly and Slavery.

In the midst of the Heats, and Zeal, and Divisions, into which they are drawn, for This Man against That, are they ever thoroughly apprised of the Merits and Source of the Dispute? Are they Masters of the real Facts, sufficient for accusing one, or for applauding another? Scarce ever. What Information they have, they have generally from interested Men, at best, quite partial and disguised, often utterly false and forged. But the Truth is, they have generally no Information at all; but only a few Cant Words, such as will always serve to animate a Mob; ‘I am for John: He is our Friend, and very honest. I am against Thomas: He is our worst Enemy, and very wicked, and deserves to be punished.’ And so say They who have taken a Fancy to Thomas, and are prejudiced against John. When it is likely, that neither John nor Thomas have done them much Harm, or much Good; or, perhaps, both John and Thomas study to delude and enthral them. But, when Passion prevails, Reason is not heard.

There is a sort of Witchcraft in Party, and in Party Cries, strangely wild and irresistible. One Name charms and composes; another Name, not better nor worse, fires and alarms. I remember when one Party could not hear, with Decency or Temper, the Name of the late Lord Oxford: I likewise remember, when that of the late Lord Godolphin was equally disgustful to another Party. I have lived to see both these Noble Persons mentioned with Applause, at least without Rancour, by many of all Parties indifferently. If one had then told any of those Party-Men, that the Time would come, when they would certainly change their Note, and give these two Ministers very different and favourable Characters, he would not have been believed: For angry Men fansy, that they shall always retain the same angry Ideas; and probably resolve it. They do not consider, that their Blood will not always boil, nor the same Object continue always to inflame them. They would do well, therefore, to reflect, that their present Passion, be it Rancour or Fondness, will certainly, some time or other, subside; and therefore should restrain it, lest it betray them into Inconsistency, and make them say now, what they will, perhaps, contradict hereafter; for then they must allow, that they acted from Warmth and Mistake. Such a Consideration would make Men wary of running headlong into Partialities, and of condemning, or adoring, merely because it is the Cry, and the Fashion; for nothing is so deceitful, and even fleering, as these Cries and Fashions are. It is common to see a Man idolized one Winter, and forgot before the next.

I am far from intending, by what I say, to dissuade People from inquiring into the Condition they are in, or how it fares with the Public. This is a just and necessary Inquiry, and deserves all Encouragement. But let them be sure to inquire conscientiously, and upon solid Grounds, and be thoroughly informed, before they judge, or censure, or applaud. What I blame, is, their swallowing current Lyes, believing Misrepresentations, and false Characters, and thence bearing Ill-will to some, who deserve it not; or entertaining extravagant Fondness for others, who deserve it as little. There is no Reliance upon what Parties say of one another, to the Praise of their Friends, or in Detraction from their Rivals; it is all Satire, or all Praise. This is enough to shew, that it deserves no Credit; since no Party was ever composed of Men altogether good, or altogether bad; all Bodies of Men are mixt, as are the Qualities of particular Men.

It is a special Comfort to us in this Island, that we may be happy, if we will. Convulsions abroad, and restless Spirits amongst our Neighbours, may ruffle our Quiet, and put us to Expence; but, I think, can never bring Ruin, nor even Danger; and none but ourselves can destroy us. Our greatest Hazard seems to arise from the Spite and Folly of our contending Factions, which always gather Strength, by a constant Endeavour to distress and weaken one another. One Party, for Example, has recourse to more Power, to preserve itself from the other, and thence becomes unpopular and suspected, as grasping at too much; whilst the other gathers Popularity, and consequently Strength, by having opposed that invidious Increase of Power, and by being considered as under Persecution and Scorn. Hence they are encouraged, indeed enabled, to make fresh Efforts; and such Efforts furnish their Rivals with a Pretence for seeking further Strength and Security, though by it they often lose Credit, which is the best Strength. Nor does either Side usually refuse any Aid, however unjust, or any Falshood, however glaring, to mortify and vanquish their Opponents. The warm Gracchus, to carry his Point, by dint of Power and Voices, calls in Numbers from all Parts of Italy. The Consul Opimius, a zealous Chief, on the other Side, to ballance and encounter the Strength of Gracchus, went attended with a Body of Candiot Troops. Thus Violence begot and warranted Violence.

In the late Queen’s time, (to go no further back) one Party, in order to get Possession of Power, and to keep it, charged the other with encouraging Looseness, Profaneness, Blasphemy, and with all wicked and all impious Principles, and even with Designs to destroy the Monarchy and Church. A terrible Charge, but notoriously false, yet swallowed by the Vulgar, and by many who, in Condition, were above the Vulgar. From hence arose a furious Ferment, a Spirit of Division, of Hate and Hostility, such as threatened to blow up that very Government, which was pretended to be thus brought out of Danger. And upon this Occasion was revived the monstrous Impiety of Passive Obedience to Oppressors, confidently dressed up in the Style of a Christian Doctrine; a Doctrine, which makes no Difference between the eternal Rights of Englishmen, and the beastly Servitude of Turks: Together with this, became fashionable the other mighty Lye of indefeasible hereditary Right. This Falshood too, unknown to Pagans, a Disgrace to Christians, was fathered upon God and Scripture, and styled Divine. It is but Charity, and, I think, reasonable, to believe, that there were some who laughed at, or rather abhorred such popular Madness, and execrable Tenets; and yet were not so scrupulous, as not to take Advantage from them, to establish themselves, and to remove others; though I fansy, some of them found, that they had raised a Spirit, which they afterwards, when they desired to lay it, could not well lay; like Cromwell, and his Agitators.

They who were then displaced, were many of them as able Men as ever this Nation produced, many of them as honest, as disinterested Men. But, with all the Glory and Triumphs of their Administration, it was attended with an enormous Expence to support a War, which, many then believed, might have been ended much sooner. Such an Opinion, true or false, the Moment it spread, was enough to make any Ministry unpopular, if not odious; nor do I think it possible for Popularity to attend any Minister long, for Reasons which I have not room here to offer.

The Ministry that succeeded those, were, in their Turn, attacked with violent Spirit, and charged with devilish Designs; that, particularly, of bringing in the Pretender; that is to say, Popery and Slavery. For, I think, we cannot expect to have him upon other or better Terms. What some amongst them might design, I know not; perhaps no Good: It is certain there were several, even then, in the highest Stations, utterly remote from any such Views, utterly irreconcilable to such, and even zealous against such.

All Parties have their Follies, and weak Places: But the Character of one Party is rarely to be learned from the other. They make odious Pictures of each other, in their Anger (for Parties imply mutual Wrath); and both Sides are Monsters, in the Opinion of each. How little reciprocal Justice they are apt to practise, is manifest from their caressing and applauding Men, not for their moral Principles, or Integrity of Life, but for their Zeal and Attachment to the Cause. He who is a good Party-Man, is a good Man, let his Conduct be ever so vile, his Actions ever so wicked. On the contrary, let a Man be ever so unblameable, his Behaviour ever so righteous and worthy; all this Merit shall not avail him; nay, with all this Merit, it is odds but he is reviled, ridiculed, and scorned.

How many Dunces, how many Drunkards, Fellows of dirty Morals, and no Understanding, without Address, or common Breeding, or one good Quality, but with a Thousand ill ones, are to be seen of notable Weight and Esteem, for no earthly Consideration, but that of their Bigotry to their Party, and of their Party to them; whilst Men of the most amiable Turn, of the greatest Accomplishments, and finest Talents, are, perhaps, slandered and hunted down; at best, shunned and cursed; only for not being infatuated with the epidemical Madness of Party! Nay, perhaps, for humanely studying to save the Whole, to advance public Happiness in general, and to remove public Mischiefs, Oppression, and Delusion, a Man shall be condemned and undone by one Party, without being defended by the other; whilst the Authors of public Mischiefs, the Oppressors, the Deluders, shall be safe and popular: Wretches shall be adored; the Patriot, the virtuous and benevolent Man, shall be despised, perhaps persecuted.

SECT. II. How apt Parties are to err in the Choice of their Leaders. How little they regard Truth and Morality, when in Competition with Party. The terrible Consequences of all this; worthy Men decried and persecuted; worthless and wicked Men popular and preferred; Liberty oppressed and expiring.

IN most Countries, they who blind and enslave the People, are popular, and reverenced; they who would enlighten and free them, hated and persecuted. For an Attempt to relieve the Spaniards from the horrid Dungeons, Flames, and Tortures of the Inquisition, the Spaniards would, with Zeal and Indignation, surrender you to those very Dungeons, Flames, and Tortures. Is this Encouragement for serving, or striving to save Societies? It must be confessed, that the People, were they otherwise instructed, would act otherwise. They should thereforehear with Patience such as would shew them the Truth, and their own Interest, and never be afraid to enquire and examine, and not run after Names and Notions, which serve only to inflame and divide them, and therefore first mislead and deceive them.

It is with Measures as with Men; they are praised, or condemned, not because they are Right or Wrong, Beneficial or Hurtful, but because they come from this Party, or the other. Evil is turned into Good, and Good into Evil: Truth passes for Falshood; Falshood is dressed up in the Guise of Truth: The best Actions are decried as the worst, if they arise from one Quarter; the worst Actions adored as the best, if from the other. The Resisting of lawless Tyrants, is, at one time, Rebellion and Damnation: To rebel against the most lawful Authority, is, at another time, Duty and Glory. One Year, a Prince, who openly defies Oaths and Law, and violates every Obligation, Sacred and Civil, is still the Lord’s Anointed, still not to be opposed; a wanton Usurper has a Right to all things, the Subject, the most unoffending Subject, a Security for nothing; nor is Law and Right any Defence against Violence and Plunder. Another Year, and for a Course of Years the most solemn Oaths taken to a Government, which, in all things, acts by the Measure of Right, are not binding; and that Government is called Usurpation, though it usurp nothing, but is founded wholly upon Law, and from the Laws only derives its whole Force.

To support such Extremes, to reconcile such wild Contradictions, the Divine Word is boldly called in and misapplied, the Divine Aid promised and invoked. One Scripture is made to justify one extravagant Proposition to Day: To-morrow the same Scripture, or another Scripture, is forced to defend an opposite Proposition, and to destroy the former; and the Supreme Being is always supposed angry or pleased, just as Factions are, adopting the foolish Passions and Partialities of Parties, and shifting his Passions, as Parties shift theirs.

Party, as I have already said, always implies Anger, which is never a fair Reasoner, nor a sure Guide. When Fierceness and Ill-will possess a Man, or Body of Men, Reason has little Power left over them; Complaints grow into Invectives, Representations become Aggravations; and I doubt it is too true, that as under such a Spirit we are very ready to spy Faults, so we are glad to find them; at least prone to aggravate them, and, I fear, even to make them. When we think Men our Enemies, it is too natural to wish them every Quality proper to hate, and to find their Actions as bad as our own Resentment is severe. If, for a Shew of Impartiality, we at any time praise them, it is often either Affectation, or to make them the more guilty and inexcusable.

When we have taken a Fancy to a Man, and chuse or consider him as our Chief and Leader, we are disposed to see all Excellency and no Fault in him, to think him every way able to serve and support us, and quite uncapable of betraying or hurting us, or of ill serving us. We represent him to ourselves, just like ourselves, full of warm Zeal for Us and our Cause, without any Views to himself, or any Motives that are personal; though it is possible, that from such Motives only he became very zealous for us, and very angry at others. Thus we court, thus paint, and trust, and admire the Man who joins with us, and who espouses our Resentments and Disgusts, or seems to espouse them.

To the Man, on the contrary, who is not of our Party, but of the opposite Party, we hardly allow one good Quality, but are ready to impute every ill one. Every thing that he does, is bad and malicious, and all his Intentions are wicked; and though he be charged with doing a World of Mischief, it is odds but he is reckoned void of Parts, and a very silly Fellow. For those who follow, or are supposed to follow him, we have just the same want of common Charity and Complaisance. As all our own Friends and Champions are virtuous, and able, and amiable; all on the other Side are guilty, weak, and hateful. And, just in the same Style, those of the other Side speak and judge of us, from the same Prejudices.

Now, where are the Hopes of Union or Reconciliation, when the Rent is thus wide, and the Rancour thus implacable? Each Party think themselves innocent as Angels, and the other Party as black as Devils. Will Angels ever condescend to treat with Devils, or confederate cordially with them even for a Day? The Breach therefore, instead of healing, widens; mutual Fury and Fierceness are increased by mutual Lyes and Invectives; Reason is lost in Rage; Justice is swallowed up in Revenge, a High-way is raised to Blood and Massacre; and, neither Side expecting from the other fair Usage or Humanity, both betake themselves to Frauds and Cruelty: Both pretend the public Good, both obstruct it, and rend the Public between them. Nay, one Party will risque all, sacrifice the State, and themselves with it, rather than miss Revenge upon the other; and, to this bloody End, call in the inveterate Enemies of their common Country, Savages and Barbarians. This has often happened; and We, even We of this Generation, had like to have seen it happen.

Men, therefore, had need beware of their own Hearts, and to watch over them, as in all Pursuits, so particularly in those of Party; I speak of all Parties: For, in none yet did I ever see Justice and Candour practised between the Individuals of opposite Parties. One is charged as insatiable in his Ambition, another in his Revenge; when, perhaps, better Passions animate both, or at least the former Passions, if they have them, are not near so intense. But, on these Occasions, Men extol or condemn by the Lump, and when they are resolved to hate, must find no Reasons to extenuate their Hatred; no more than their Admiration, when bent upon admiring.

Thus I have seen Wretches the most abject, vicious and silly, idolized; and Men of the most elevated Capacity, virtuous and accomplished, exposed to the Detestation and Reproach of Fools; seen a Fellow, hardly rational, canonized by the Populace for being their Enemy, and an Incendiary; seen one of the grearest Lights of the Age, venerable for his Piety, admired for his Knowledge and Charity, threatened with the Justice of a mad Mob, or with Fire and Faggot; seen a Friend and an Ornament to human Kind, unpopular, in Disgrace and Danger; and a common Disturber, whose Zeal was Lunacy, caressed and adored. Was Mr. Locke, that great Master of Reason, that Light shining amongst Men, that Friend to Conscience and civil Liberty, ever half so popular as many little dirty Dabblers in Party, who had no other Merit than that of promoting Ignorance, Strife, and Disorder? Or, would the ablest and worthiest Man in England carry an Election, by the Strength of his Character, against a popular Fool?

This is terrible and discouraging, a huge Obstruction to all Virtue, to Truth, and Morality. Party Zeal acquires Reputation, even where common Honesty, and common Sense, are wanting; and Attachment to Party is Honesty, and all things. Strange Perversion of Order and Truth, that Men should be deemed Honest without Morality! To be Honest is, with Party, to be of it; and nothing more is required. Thus, very contemptible and very wicked Men make a Figure in Party, and are esteemed by it; since Sense and Honesty are not required, nor any thing else but Zeal; and such Zeal being generally blind, the less Sense, the more Zeal; and Zeal is an Atonement for the want of Morality, and every good Quality.

Party Principles are therefore substituted for moral Principles; the sure way to destroy all Morality, and to confound the Characters of Men, and even those of Good and Evil. In truth, Morality, with Sense, is the only true Standard of Popularity, and the only just Recommendation to it. A virtuous Man can never endanger Liberty, nor hurt Society; nor is a wicked Man ever to be trusted with the Support of either. Yet from this Spirit, this baneful and pestilent Spirit of Party, the ablest and best Men are often precluded from the Service of their Country; the weakest, the worst, and most contemptible, employed in its Service; and the best Men often forced from that Service, to make room for the worst.

Lucullus, one of the greatest Men in Rome, a Man of approved Ability and Honour, was berest of public Employments, though he had sustained them with great Dignity and Worth, greatly to his own Honour, greatly to the Glory and Emolument of Rome; whilst Gabinius, an Upstart, of vile Manners, venal, corrupt, and abandoned, was raised to high Dignities, and all public Lustre: But he was a Creature of Cæsar’s, who then led the People by bribing and flattering them, and thence raised and depressed whom he would. The People were then his Tools, and he afterwards made them his Slaves: They might thank themselves, and could expect no better; though this excuses not him. They believed that all his Views, all his Measures, were for their Honour and Advantage; and for him deserted all their best Friends, who failed not to warn them against the Fate, to which they were hurrying full speed and blindfold; a Race which quickly and naturally ended in Servitude.

Whilst, under this Infatuation, they were hoisting up Cæsar, and his Followers, to all public Honours and Commands, that is, sortifying Him against Themselves; so great a Patriot as Cato, so sincerely attached to their Interest, striving only for the Preservation and Stability of their State, and opposing terrible Innovations, and general Ruin, was never suffered to arrive at the Consulship: Even in gaining subordinate Offices, he met with great Difficulty and Opposition, from the same Spirit of Party and Seduction.

Cicero would not have arrived so soon (if ever) at the supreme Magistracy, had it not been for the terrible Danger then threatening Rome from the Conspiracy of Catiline; a Conjuncture when the great Abilities and Virtue of Cicero were so necessary to save it. In that Conspiracy, which aimed at a general Revolution, and, in order to it, meant to proceed by Conflagration, Massacre, and universal Desolation, some of the great Idols and Leaders of the People were engaged; though Cicero and the Senate thought it not safe to mention them, lest such potent Criminals, once rendered desperate, might have proved an Over-match for their Judges, and public Justice. Yet such Criminals continued afterwards the Idols of the People, who are too apt to credit none but such as they have ever most Reason to suspect, their own Favourites and Demagogues; nor to open their Eyes, till they open them in Chains and Torments.

The Romans, when corrupted from their original Simplicity and Innocence, split into Factions; and, being incensed and governed by ambitious Leaders, generally preferred the most furious and abandoned Candidates to the most innocent and virtuous. Thus they chose, for one of their Tribunes, the wild and bloody Saturninus, in Opposition to Aulus Numius, a Man eminent for Virtue and Integrity; nay, drove the latter first from the Assembly to his own House; then pulled him out, and butchered him(a). Such was their Complaisance, and mad Zeal for that execrable Incendiary, the Author of such Outrages and Bloodshed.

It was a sad Presage of the Fall of Rome, when all Regard for Integrity and Virtue was gone; when wicked Men swayed all Things, and conferred all Offices; when the Worthy and Accomplished were rejected, only for being worthy and accomplished; when the Worthless and Abandoned were preferred, merely because they were worthless and abandoned; when such an excellent Person as Lucius Lentulus the Priest of Mars, was disappointed of the Consulship by such a worthless Competitor as Afranius; and when such a Wretch as Gabinius, above-mentioned, vicious and infamous as he was, obtained that important Trust. The Reason was, that Lentulus loved his Country: Afranius and Gabinius were the Tools, the abandoned Agents, of Cæsar and Pompey. Gabinius was afterwards condemned as a public Thief, in spight of all the Power and Interposition of his Masters, and banished; till Cæsar, having usurped the Power of Rome, recalled him, as one fit to be employed in his Service and Cause. Cicero reckons Lentulus happy, to have been snatched away, by Death, from being a Witness of the Destruction of his Country, which he dearly loved.

Even the pestilent Catiline had the Confidence to stand for the Consulship, and no small Hopes of carrying it. For he was exceeding popular at Rome, even whilst he was exerting all his Might and Malice to destroy the Roman State, and all the best Men in it.

There is another Consideration, which shews the Spirit of Party to be a most pernicious and lamentable Thing; namely, how much it shakes and lessens the Integrity of Men, otherwise virtuous and honest. Caius Gracchus, so remarkable for the Severity of his Manners, fond of being called the Defender of the Laws, and an avowed Enemy to all who attempted to hurt public Liberty, observed a scandalous Neutrality and Silence, upon an Inquiry into the Death of Scipio his Brother-in-law, and the most illustrious Roman of his Time, found murdered in his Bed; a Fate which Gracchus was supposed to have procured him, as an Enemy to his Schemes and Innovations.

The Athenians, animated by their Orators, who were eternally raising in that City Flames and Ferments, doomed to Execution Six of their own Commanders, even after the Merit of a noble Victory won by them; because a sudden Tempest had made it impossible for them to bury the Bodies of their Slain. This was a copious Topic for these hot Haranguers; a fine Theme for inflaming the People!—‘How! the brave Soldiers, who generously ventured their Lives, and sacrificed them for their Country; they who died conquering; by their Lives had gained Victory; by Victory had secured the State, and honoured it; to be deprived of the Rites of Funeral, the last and common Office of Humanity, often granted even by Enemies; to be denied it by their own Commanders, who, by the Blood of those public Martyrs, had purchased their own Laurels; yet suffered their Coarses, stiff and cold, to lie naked and neglected, exposed to Air, and Beasts of Prey!’—This, probably, was the Style in which they declaimed; and this was enough for the Populace, who were too much heared to hear more than one Side, with Patience; and, therefore, condemned the Innocent, as it were, unheard. For their Plea, though the best in the World, and the truest, was not regarded. They, indeed, were afterwards convinced of their Error and Injustice, and punished some of these prating Demagogues; but it was impotent Justice, and done to the Injured when they were dead. How the same People treated many of their best Citizens, particularly Socrates, the Ornament of their State, with many of their Philosophers and Heroes, all at the Instigation of their Declaimers and Factionists; how they abused the Ostracism, a good Institution in itself, intended for a Remedy against over-powerful and dangerous Subjects, but serving often as a Snare to the best; would be too tedious here to relate.

SECT. III. Party infers public Weakness: Its devilish Spirit, and sirange Blindness: What public Ruin it threatens: The People rarely interested in it; yet how eager and obstinate in it, and bewitched by it.

WHATEVER tends to break Union, and to create Divisions in Society, calls for early Prevention or Removal: Since Unity is Strength; Weakness attends Discord; Desolation often follows both. Indeed, where Parties prevail, the Good of the Whole is little regarded, often postponed and sacrificed; and, whilst each Side pretends to be the only Friends to the Public, both Sides are Enemies to it. Nor Pompey, nor Cæsar, nor the Followers of the Fortune of either, were Friends to Rome; for both had Aims destructive to the Liberty of Rome. The only true Friends to Rome were They who opposed the Power and ambitious Pursuits of both Pompey and Cæsar, and were for preserving their State in its original Freedom, and Independence upon particular Men.

All who follow the Leaders of Parties, are generally lost to the Whole: So that, where the Following on each Side is great, as in the Contention between Marius and Sylla, Cæsar and Pompey, the Leader whose Party prevails is Master of All: For one Party, in order to depress and vanquish the other, for the most part, raise their Chief so high, and invest him with so much Power, that he is Master of them, before they (or rather he) can master the other. They sell themselves to Slavery, that the others may be Slaves: The lower he lays his Enemies, the more Power he has over his Friends; and for having well revenged their Quarrel, founded too often on mere Chimera, or Folly, naturally becomes their Tyrant. Thus Cæsar enslaved his own Party, as well as that of Pompey; just what Pompey would have done, with equal Power and Success. Under the Reigns of the following Cæsars, did there any Distinction continue between the Party of Cæsar and that of Pompey? No: All were Slaves; and Slavery had soon put an End to the Parties themselves, even to that which had chiefly introduced Slavery. Nor could such as were obnoxious to these Tyrants, save themselves by any Merit of their Forefathers, in espousing and advancing the Interest of the first Tyrant.

So much do Parties gain, by adhering implicitly to ambitious Leaders, (as, in truth, all such Leading implies Ambition) and by pursuing Revenge towards each other. One Party cannot ruin the other, without ruining themselves. This terrible Event their own Obstinacy and Passion keeps them from seeing; or, if they see it, they venture it, and generally bring it about.

There is something devilish and horrible in the Spirit and Rage of Party; even universal Distress at home, even inevitable Destruction from abroad, cannot always cure or allay it. The Jews, during the Siege of Jerusalem by Titus Vespasian, instead of taking Warning, and uniting upon so terrible an Emergency, continued their furious Divisions to the last. They were butchering one another, when the Enemy was entering to butcher them all. They were contending, forsooth, about Priority, what Faction should be uppermost, what Leader should prevail, with the Romans at their Gates, prepared to make them all Victims or Captives. When the Turk invested Constantinople, Factions were raging in it, and raged to the last, till the grand Enemy mastered the City, and all its Factions. It is exceeding likely, that these Factions hated one another more heartily than they did the Turk, till the heavy Rod of his Tyranny taught them how foolish, how wicked, they had been, thus to hate and persecute and distress one another, and thence accelerate that Tyranny. They could then see clearly, what they could not, or rather would not, see before, that by seeking to destroy their Opponents, and exalt themselves, they invited and hastened their Own Destruction, and Universal Destruction.

It is extremely strange, and a great Reflection upon rational Beings, that the Majority in Parties seldom know the Reason why they thus hate and mortify one another. By-words, and Sounds, Names, Persons, Modes, and Colours, controul and incense them. They love John: Why? Because he hates Thomas; and they do not love Thomas, because he does not love John. Ask them, Why they thus love and hate these Men, more than other Men? the Answer is, That they are very good, or very bad Men. Ask them, How do they know? They will tell you, That they have been told so. Who told them? Their Leader, or his Creatures; that is, such who study to deceive them. Thus both Sides reason, and seldom can reason better.

Thus a Country comes to be rent into Factions; thus Factions hate one another implicitly, and shun one another like Plagues; find Nick-names for one another, then love or detest these Nick-names, and all that bear them; herd in Cabals, there chiefly to extol their own Side, and abuse the other; to adore their own Chiess as Demigods, to revile the opposite as Demons: They consider the different Party as determined Enemies, then abhor and curse them as such. For it is natural to grow Enemies to our Enemies; and, against an Enemy, every thing is lawful, all sorts of Falshood, Calumny, and Violence. The famous French League, when they had agreed, in a Consultation, to seize the King, to murder the Ministers, and to massacre all who, without regard to Parties, adhered to the public Weal, further agreed to charge the Hugonots with all this Wickedness and Butchery, and thence take Occasion to butcher them too. For whatever the Leaders and Priests gave out, the Populace greedily believed.

When Parties are thus formed, the Spirit of Strife is easily kept up, or rather hard to be extinguished: Accidents fall in to heighten it; Competition for Place and Power, Lyes and Misrepresentations all readily believed, Ignorance never to be cured, Mistakes not to be removed, with the wild Power of Carousals and strong Liquor, or of Superstition, stronger than either. Thenceforward, any mischievous and senseless Cant passes for Argument and Reason; Positions, the most wicked and absurd, for wise and wholsome Conclusions; and the grossest Stupidity, for profound Policy. Faction grows their Delight, the Burden and Subject of Conversation; and they form regular Meetings, and Clubs, to improve themselves in Faction, which becomes their grand Pursuit and Pleasure, to the Bane of Society, of Peace, and Charity.

All Men pretend to love their Country: Surely this is a preposterous Proof of it, this blowing up the Fires of Party, this animating and perpetuating Divisions, which are certainly mischievous to every Country, oftentimes fatal and destructive. They who truly love their Country, will naturally cultivate Concord, and labour to promote its Strength, by procuring its Peace. A Country divided against itself, cannot stand; nor a Country well united, fall. Has a Domestic Enemy an Ambition to usurp the Government? His surest means will be to create Strife, to raise Divisions and Animosities, daily to widen them, and to keep them from healing. These are the Measures which he will take to succeed: Thus Cæsar acted, and thus he succeeded. Does a Foreign Enemy study to invade and inslave a Nation? He will pursue the same Steps. Thus Philip of Macedon was continually embroiling, and consequently weakening, the State of Greece, in order to enthral them: He too succeeded.

How came the Romans to invade the antient Britons? Doubtless, encouraged by their many Parties continually jarring and attacking one another. Probably some of the weaker Factions amongst them, to be revenged on the stronger, invited over the common Enemy. How happened the Romans to subdue, so totally, a People so warlike and brave? Certainly by the same Means, their endless Animosities and Parties.(a) Being eternally at Variance, they never exerted the national Strength, and thus were conquered Piece-meal. In like manner the Gauls were subdued by the same Invaders; in like manner were the Germans; and in like manner will all Nations be liable to be subdued, as many (perhaps, the most) have been.

One would think it an easy Matter to persuade the People to Union and Reconciliation, from Motives of common Security and Interest. They cannot enjoy Place nor Preferment; their only reasonable Aim therefore is Liberty and Protection, with the Advantages and Blessings naturally flowing from these. It becomes them, too, to be jealous of these, and, upon Occasion, bravely to defend them. And Spirit, thus far shewn and exerted, is Zeal, not Faction. But the Misehief is, that by the Artifices and Influence of their Leaders, they are often brought into Measures pernicious to themselves, and baneful to their Liberties; as in the Instances of Cæsar, Pisistratus, and the Duke of Guise. Have we not here in England seen them adoring wretched Demagogues, who were professedly leading them into Chains, and openly haranguing in Behalf of public Bondage? Was not this infamous Blindness and Phrensy? Was it not a Renouncing of their Reason and their Eyes? A little Attention to their own Condition and Interest, a short Examination of the fashionable Opinions, would have discovered these Darlings, these revered Guides of theirs, to have been their mortal Enemies, Impostors worthier of a Gibbet than of Incense.

But the People seldom go to the Bottom and Reason of things, seldom deeper than Shell and Sound. They want Patience and Attention; yet a very Little would serve them, if they would but exercise that Little. If Men of different Parties would but meet and confer cooly, they would hardly fail to agree. But, full of Heat and Prepossession, they hate to meet; or, when they do, instead of reasoning, scold and rail; perhaps, fight. Each Partizan is sure, that he is in the right; and so remains Proof against all new Light and Information. Each protests he means well, and aims at Truth. Perhaps too he does, but misses it by concluding, that he has got it; and, each believing the other a great Knave, (for so Parties almost universally treat one another) they never can come to a candid Conference, nor compare their Thoughts and Aims, which would be found reconcilable enough, were they but mutually known, and candidly construed.

How sternly have I seen two Men, of opposite Parties, stare at one another as Monsters, when, upon the Whole, they differed very little otherwise than in Sounds and Jargon, and in mistaking one another! But the Fewd was to be kept up for the Ends of their Leaders, and they were still destined to live at a Distance, and in mutual Hate: For, were they to have met, they might have explained; and had they explained, they might have agreed. An Event terrible to Demagogues, and therefore to be avoided with Care! else the poor People might be silly enough to grow Wise and Charitable, and to want no Leaders.

Important Facts, and essential Principles, are commonly urged as the Cause of public Divisions. This is generally Grimace, and seldom true. It is certain, that these are always pretended, and thrown out as Baits. But the genuine Strife, amongst the many, is, for the most part, about Names and Men, Marius and Sylla; the Red Rose and the White. What Combustion and Faction, what Bloodshed and Battles, formerly between the Houses of York and Lancaster, each telling a plausible Tale, each claiming Right and Preference, or complaining of Injury and Expulsion? What then? All this, indeed, might affect a few Men of Ambition; but the chief Concern of the People was, Which proved a bad, or which a good King? As to their Primogeniture and Descent, these were Matters of Speculation, fit to be discussed by Lawyers and Genealogists. If the People were well protected, the People need look no further. He who proved a good King, might well be deemed a lawful King: He who declared himself above or against Law, was to be presumed void of Right. He is the Usurper, who reigns by Power against Law: He who deposes him, and squares his Power by the Law, is rightful King. They therefore are the Rebels, who adhere to a Prince, who, in a free Country, would be absolute, let his Genealogy be ever so long, his Succession ever so uninterrupted. No Man’s Race gives him a Right to commit Violence; no Man has a Title to do Injustice: No Man therefore can succeed to a Title which is not.

Are there any Bounds to the Will of Princes? If there be, is it not unjust to break these Bounds? Is it not also just to defend them, and to drive away whoever would destroy them? Are there no Bounds to the Will, and Folly, and Cruelty of a Prince? If there be not, why do we talk of Liberty and Law, of our Birthright and Constitution, or of Breaches committed upon it? A King and Parliament may indeed err; but are they more likely to err, than those Kings who would have no Parliaments, purely because they would err, and would not be controuled by Parliaments, nor have their Errors examined or mended? They who justify any of our Kings, who assumed a Power to dispense with Laws, must justify that dispensing Power, and averr, that we have no Laws but what were at his Mercy, and consequently none, nor therefore Liberty; for, with a Power to dispense with Law, Liberty is utterly inconsistent; and whoever can dispense with Laws, can annul them.

Now, how can such Men, (if there be any such) after this, ever complain, with any Consistency, of Misgovernment, and talk of Danger to Law and Liberty; when, under such a King, there was neither? Have we a Right to these Blessings? Then such a King was an Usurper, and he who deposed him a Deliverer. Have we no Right to them? Then how could we be injured, if they were taken from us? Or, had any King a Right to take them from us? How so? If they belong to us now, they belonged to us then, and always. We are told from the same Quarter, and very truly told, that a Nation deprived of Liberty, is a miserable Nation. Did not their dispensing Kings do this? Then they made, or would have made, this a miserable Nation. How then, and upon what Foot, were they to be again recommended to us? If we were to have them again, we had nothing to do with Liberty: If we claimed Liberty, we had nothing to do with them. The worst that can befal Liberty, is, To be lost. They would have taken it quite away. We have apparently a great deal left; I hope as much as ever we had: We are therefore still a great deal better than under them.

Such Men, therefore, must either give up the Cause of such Kings, or cease to talk of Liberty. They cannot maintain the Cause of both: They are Fire and Water to each other. We can easily remember when, in order to save and recal such a King, they vehemently contended for indefeasible Hereditary Right, for Passive Obedience without Reserve. Did they not then treat Liberty as a Chimera, the Doctrine of Liberty as Sedition, the Defence of Liberty as Rebellion? These were, indeed, Notions terrible to the Public, destructive of all Law, productive of all Tyranny, but truly serviceable to the Interest of that Prince; indeed the only Notions that could serve him. But to contend for Liberty, and mean a dispensing King, or his Cause, was notable Mockery, gross Deceit, and glaring Contradiction. To assert Liberty, in order to support lawless Rule, was to make Liberty unnaturally destroy itself. They must have been extremely stupid, who could not see through such apparent Absurdity.

I am of Opinion, that the People, though not yet free from Party-prejudice and Party-delusions, are yet much cooler and wiser than they were then, at least upon that Head; and would not now run mad after such pernicious Nonsense, after Maxims so pestilent to human Society. In short, none ever swallowed such, except downright Fanatics and Visionaries; none ever propagated such, but Madmen or Impostors. Another way of Thinking now prevails; and therefore the Style of that Party is altered; it is now Liberty, and the Public Good. This is not fair; I doubt it is foolish: Where Liberty is understood and valued, their Idol can never be admitted, nor followed.

Parties are so bewitched to their own Heat and Folly, that they become in Love with it; it grows their daily Theme, and the Pursuit of their Life. Both Sides talk of the Public, and think their own mutual Hate to be Zeal for the Public, whilst they are only weakening and endangering the Public by their eternal Strife. This their Spite to one another, they call Love to their Country. Thus they delude themselves, and often ruin their own private Fortunes to hazard and distress the State, which they imagine themselves to be successfully serving.

Now, when People are thus infatuated, thus drunk with Faction, delighting in Antipathy, and endless Discord, making a Merit of heightening popular Rage and Dissention, what Ear are they likely to afford to Expedients of Peace and Reconciliation? How likely to treat one who studies to calm and mediate? At best, it is a thankless Office, oftener provoking and invidious, sometimes dangerous and fatal. There is even Peril in being quiet and neutral. There is always too much Reason for blaming both Sides; yet, whoever does it, instead of reclaiming and convincing them, is more likely to incense them, to be charged, at best, with Lukewarmness, probably with Treachery and Desertion.

Such was the Situation of Cicero, who dreaded both Cæsar and Pompey; and only followed the latter, because he had some sort of Obligation to him, and believed him the less dangerous Tyrant of the two, as having, indeed, inferior Power and Talents. But though he saw the wrong Measures of Pompey, and foresaw the sad Consequences, he could not avoid following him. When the thing was gone so far, and Parties already drawn out, as it were, against each other, no Man, at least no Man of Name, was suffered to be his own Master, or Director. The Weight of others, and the Power of Faction, must then draw him headlong(a).

Thus Men come at last to be so involved, that they are sometimes forced to wish for the very Thing which they had at first, and all along, dreaded; as Cicero, at last, wished Success to Cæsar, whom he had so much feared and opposed; for that, having left the opposite Party, he was terribly threatened by them, as were all others, against whom they had the same Objection: Nay, that Party were already sharing, amongst themselves, the Estates and Palaces of all such as joined not with them. Hence Cicero found it perilous, even to be civilly treated by Cæsar. Great, therefore, was his Perplexity, how to behave towards and between the two contending Chiefs: If he followed Pompey, ‘From that Quarter, says he, I foresee, with Horror, a mighty War, most sanguinary and ardent. What terrible Vengeance threatened against the municipal Cities! with an equal Portion against particular Men by Name; nay, against all such as followed him not! How often is he heard to repeat, Such was the Power of Sylla; shall not I shew equal Power?’ In another Place, the same great Author says, ‘Shall I, whom some call the Preserver of Rome, bring against her a Host of barbarous Getes, of Barbarians from Armenia and Colchos? Shall I bring Famine upon my Fellow-Citizens? Shall I bring Desolation upon Italy?

Such mournful Discouragements he found on the Part of Pompey: And then from Cæsar, whom he treats as ‘an open Tyrant, raging with Ambition; as an abandoned Traitor, a notorious Parricide;’ what could he foresee, what expect, but utter Dissolution and Misrule? They both meditated to plunder and exhaust the World, thence to reward their rapacious Adherents. Cæsar particularly was attended by a dreadful Train and Conflux of Profligates, by all the Desperate and Debauched(a).

To such a forlorn Crew, the Tumult of Parties was expedient and natural; and public Tranquillity and Concord, matter of Sorrow and Despair. But for the State, for the Body of the People, and for all the Honest, the Industrious and Substantial, a different Situation is necessary. To these, Peace and Unity are perpetual Blessings: By entertaining and encouraging a contrary Spirit, they fight against their own Interest, and are only serving the Purposes of such as deserve Gaols and Gibbets. When Liberty and Property are safe, none but the Desperate and Ambitious can find their Account in Faction, which is always hurtful to those who are neither animated by Ambition nor Despair. When Liberty and Property are attacked, all Men ought to rouse; and then it is not Faction, but Necessity, common Consent and Self-defence.

It is indeed lamentable, that Men, whose common Interest is mutual Good-will and Harmony, should divide, and quarrel, and hate one another, merely because the Leaders and Instruments of Faction find it conducing to their own Self-Ends to set them at Variance. Are not these their common Enemy? Surely they are. Yet they are treated as their Benefactors and Darlings. For, the Moment that Party-heat seizes them, they are blind; so blind, that one of them reckons not a foreign Invader half so terrible as his next Neighbour, who, perhaps, never hurt him, and has nothing terrible about him but an obnoxious Name; which Name too was given him, and derives its Terror, only from Prejudice and Opinion. Yet to grieve this supposed Enemy, and to be revenged upon him, without having been ever injured by him, he is ready to call in a real Enemy, whose Drift is to destroy both.

Are there some Men angry, because they are not in Power? What is that to the Nation, if other Men do as well there? Are some Men zealous to keep their Employments, and to disappoint their Rivals? This too is natural, and why should it offend the People, if it hurt not the Public? Let them contend together: What is all this to the People, who cannot occupy Place, nor enjoy Titles, and therefore ought not to involve themselves in the Contention, or in any Contention foreign to their own Interest and Stability?

DISCOURSE II. Of Patriots and Parricides.

SECT. I. How Virtue and Vice, public Services, and public Crimes, may be said to bring their own Rewards.

IN the History of Sallust, and in other Roman Histories, as we are shocked to find so many Parricides, Enemies to their Country, it is a sensible Pleasure to find some, I wish I could say so many, Patriots. I therefore bestow the following Discourse upon these opposite Characters.

Men are so prone to comply with every Temptation to Evil, that the surest Way to escape the latter, is to avoid the former; and rather to distrust their own Virtue, than to stand the Trial. It is certainly safer to fly, than to be overcome. But, as a Man, who would shun all the Baits and Allurements of Vice and Evil, must utterly leave the World, which abounds in little else, he who would secure himself against Corruption, must arm himself with Self-denial, must consider his Innocence above all Price, his Virtue as the highest Acquisition of his Life, the Source of all true Glory, and the surest Pledge of lasting Pleasure and Fame. When all other Pleasures fail, this one is more than an Equivalent for the Loss of the rest; and it is often the Want of this, which creates such an eager Pursuit after other Pleasures, if there can be any, where this is not. These Amusements must surely be, at least, very impotent and defective, which only serve to make Men forget for awhile, that they are not Innocent, nor consequently Happy. In spight of all their Amusements, of all their Efforts to beguile themselves, they have a sore Place about them, which will be continually reviving their Memory, or their Memory the sore Place. What Recompence, what Place, or Wealth, or Power, is equal to this, or can atone for it; atone for perpetual Anguish and Self condemnation?

It will, perhaps, be alleged, that Men grow hardened, and their Hearts callous, and then feel no pungent Horrors, nor any Horror, for Iniquity and Baseness. I doubt this is not their Case. Habit may sear and deprave them in some measure, probably in a great measure; but, I believe, never beyond Feeling. I never knew a Man, nor heard of a Man, quite so abandoned, as to speak ill of Honour and Honesty; even the worst Men pretend to some Degree of it, and sometimes exercise it: All of them would be proud of a good Reputation; nor can any of them be absolutely indifferent what all others say of them. I have known Men, notoriously abandoned and decried, make great Court to Men of opposite and approved Characters, when by such Court they could propose no Advantage, but that of gaining some Esteem, by conversing with such as had a great deal.

Men therefore, the most hardened and corrupt Men, would rather be thought virtuous than wicked, honest than unjust; and, perhaps, wish themselves so; would rather chuse to hide their evil Doings than have them exposed, even where the Discovery is attended with no other Penalty than that of Censure and Dispraise. Even Nero and Tiberius had such Reserves, were anxious to conceal their secret Guilt, and mortified when it became exposed. It is, indeed, agreeable to the Idea of God and a Providence, that wicked Men should be haunted with the Terrors of their Enormities, and never taste of Happiness, though ever hunting after it; and that Innocence, however persecuted or threatened, should be attended with Pleasure(a).

That Men become hardened and insensible to a certain Degree, is undoubtedly true; else, after the first Compunction, which, I believe, naturally follows Crimes, they would not, at least wantonly, repeat them. But even this Insensibility is a terrible Curse and Misfortune; worse than natural Stupidity, or Lunacy. Who would chuse, or rather, who would not dread, such a Turn of Spirit, as weaned him from all Good, and the Paths of Praise, and hurried him continually after Evil and Infamy? For, Infamy will ever be the Issue and Reward of Evil; and Facts will, first or last, appear through all false Colours and Disguises.

A Man would therefore love and pursue Virtue, hate and shun Vice, for his own Sake, since he is sure of a Reward, such a Reward as all the Powers, all the Acquisitions of the World, cannot bestow, even Consciousness of Innocence, and an Heart upright and easy: And the more extensive his Virtue, the more extensive his Happiness. Does he hurt none, and help some? He is a good Man, and happy. Does he assist many, and still injure none? He is more happy. Is he just to Particulars, and also serviceable to All? Does he love his Country, and pursue its Welfare, with all his Might and Zeal? Who can be more happy? He is happy, though he should miscarry; for, having done his best, and faithfully discharged his Duty, he has the Approbation of his own Conscience, with the Applause of all worthy Men. Is any Reward equal to this Reward?

I have therefore always admired, as well as reverenced, the Characters of Patriots; Men of great and good Minds, Friends to Society and to human Kind, Lovers of Liberty and their Country, Enemies to Oppressors and Oppression, and Guardians of public Virtue, and the public Weal. These are the Men who have an unquestionable Title to the Favours and Blessings of the whole Race; nor can there be a greater Reproach upon the World, than that such Men have not been always well used in it. He who loves, and studies to serve All, merits that All should love and serve him. But, as we often see Men oppose their own Good, and flight and abuse their Benefactors, the Patriot has seldom competent Encouragement or Success. Such as have different Hearts and Views, will hate and decry him; and it is likely there will be many such. These, following their natural Bent of Malignity and Falshood, and pursuing a wicked End, will not spare wicked Arts and Means to obtain it. By such Arts and Industry, they will gain Belief and Followers. Malice is more active than Innocence; the latter is apt to confide in itself, which ought, indeed, to be a sure Guard, but is not always so; whilst the former seeks all Supports, and employs every base Artifice. Hence Virtue comes to suffer, being first misrepresented, then persecuted, at last oppressed. Hence it is, that the false Patriot is often more successful and popular than the true, and often triumphs over him.

Still this hinders not, but that Virtue is ever the best Choice. Who would not rather be a Cicero, even in Exile, than a Clodius his Enemy, though triumphing over that virtuous Roman? An Algernoon Sydney, sentenced to die for the everlasting Principles of Truth and Liberty, than a Jefferies, infamously exalted to the Tribunal of Justice, and pronouncing that wicked Sentence?

SECT. II. A suffering Patriot more happy than a successful Parricide: Public Oppressors always unhappy.

MODERN History hardly knows a more venerable Name than that of John Barnevelt, that good Dutchman and Patriot, to whom his Country owed so much. Yet, notwithstanding his great Virtues, his great Services, and his great Age, he had his venerable Head severed from his Body, by a prevailing Faction, who confidently charged him with a Design to betray his Country; when it was apparent, that his great, indeed his only Crime, was, that of serving it too well, and for opposing a wicked Scheme to enslave it.

As he had acted righteously, and died innocent, his End was glorious; and, though his Death was tragical, he was, in one Sense, much less to be lamented, than the venal and guilty Parricides, who murdered him, under the Name of Law, and sacrificed him, and their Consciences, to their own corrupt Ends, and to the Ambition of Prince Maurice: That Prince, who was openly aspiring to enthrall those free Provinces, must needs destroy Barnevelt, his old faithful Friend and Counsellor, as his great Obstacle. Never was honester or wiser Advice, than that good Patriot gave the Prince upon that Occasion: But Ambition had blinded him to all Truth, Reason, and Gratitude, and even to his own Happiness and Interest. Thinking, therefore, that he had sufficiently strengthened himself with a Party of Men fit for such a Trust; that is to say, with Men abundantly profligate and abandoned, he deceived Barnevelt, caressed him, and destroyed him: For Ambition had taught him Falshood, as well as Ingratitude and Cruelty; nor could there be blacker Ingratitude.

Barnevelt was, indeed, the Author and Instrument of his Elevation and Power; and had been the constant Friend and Counsellor of Prince William his Father. Upon the Assassination of this great Prince, when Men were seized with a general Panic, and, seeing themselves bereft of their great Protector and Support, were even deliberating about accepting the Amnesty offered them by their old Enemy the King of Spain, Barnevelt animated them, and recalled their Courage: He told them, that he knew one fit to fill and sustain the Place of the late Prince; and recommended to them Prince Maurice his Son, then studying at Leyden. Thus, by the Counsel and Friendship of this worthy Man, he was taken from a College, and put at the Head of a State, and of Armies.

Had he not Cause to treat him as his Father and Benefactor? He did so for a while, till Ambition changed and mastered him. He afterwards hated Barnevelt, because Barnevelt would not compliment him with the Liberty of his Country. He was so drunk and enchanted with this Passion, to rule without Controul, that he, at last, seemed to think all Art and Dissimulation needless; and went openly from City to City, attended by armed Men, changing their Magistrates by plain Force; by Force abolishing their antient Institutions; and setting up Creatures and Ordinances of his own.

Now what was the Issue to Prince Maurice? What did he gain by all this Violence and Injustice; by destroying or displacing the best Men, and employing the worst, in order to enslave all? He missed his great Point; he suffered the Shame of being defeated in his evil Purpose; he had a thousand Acts of Injustice to reproach his own Heart withal; he had dispatched, removed, and provoked, all his old Friends, and was thwarted and disappointed by his new; he lost that Popularity which had always followed the House of Orange, and had been personal to himself, whilst he was only serving and protecting his Country; and he was now become the Object of popular Jealousy and Hate: He found an universal Coldness; and, instead of being followed by Crouds, as formerly, with kind Looks and Praises, saw himself shunned with all the Marks of Neglect, Resentment, Distrust, and Scorn.

The Tide of popular Passion, whether it be Love or Hate, is apt suddenly to turn upon any great Instance of Cruelty or Mercy. Prince Maurice, from being greatly beloved and applauded, lost at once the Hearts of his Countrymen, by the unjust Doom of Barnevelt, and by his other arbitrary Proccedings. Whilst the late King James was yet beloved, at least not disliked, and whilst the Nation still manifested great Loyalty to his Person, and was really averse to Rebellion; the brutal and sanguinary Behaviour of Jefferies in the West, and his Barbarities to the Followers of Monmouth, made a sudden and terrible Change in the Affections of the People. They began to pity the Sufferers; and, from Pitying to Approving, the Transition is sometimes very quick, especially, amongst the Populace. Besides, in proportion to such Pity was their Aversion; first to the Judge, at last to the King.

Such is the natural Effect of using Power wantonly, and of grasping at too much. There could not be wilder Infatuation, than of Prince Maurice: In labouring to seize the Sovereignty, he laboured to make himself unhappy; to destroy his present Credit, Popularity, and Ease; and so far his Labours were successful. He was, in effect, Sovereign already: He was Captain General: He was Admiral General; that is, Commander in chief by Sea and Land: He created all Governors; he distributed all military Charges: Even in creating Civil Magistrates, he had the last Choice; and, out of Three Candidates, who were presented to him, selected one: He enjoyed all the Power and Privileges that ever the antient Counts of Holland enjoyed, all that the Dukes of Burgundy, nay, all that Charles the Emperor enjoyed: He pardoned all Crimes, and was chargeable with no Punishment.

All this Power, with the intire Affections of the People, was not enough for this Prince; though full as much as mortal Man can discharge or enjoy. For the fantastical and false Splendor of a Name, he forfeited the public Affection, and entailed Unhappiness, and popular Hate, upon his remaining Years. The same Madness has possessed many other Princes, and the same Misery followed it.

Prince Maurice had the Mortification to see even his own Cabal, Fellows whom he had picked out as fit to betray their Country, and sell it to Slavery, disappoint and oppose him. These, when they saw themselves uppermost, and possessed of Places, by the Murder and Removal of their Antagonists, began to adhere to the Constitution. They were then for securing That which would best secure Themselves; and, as they had been wicked Traitors for him, became just Traitors to him. May it ever fare so, with such Men, and such Designs!

It is natural, indeed too natural, for Men to grasp at enormous Power. Is it not as natural for other Men, who would suffer by it, to oppose it? What is the true, the reasonable Purpose and Use of Power, but the Good and Protection of Men? They who only aimed to protect, would seek no more than is necessary for Protection; nor would they care how much they were limited from hutting; nay, would desire to be so limited: But the Truth is, that, in the Pursuit of Power, Men generally consider Themselves only: Should not They, over whom that Power is sought, consider Themselves, too? They ought, indeed, to beware of all aspiring Men: It is seldom for their sakes that such Men aspire; especially, if such a Man will be seeking such Power, as evidently tends to injure, to oppress, and destroy them, they ought to believe that he means it; and, from that Moment, look upon him as an Enemy.

He will, no doubt, disavow any such Design: And who is it that ever does avow any such, even when it is most apparent? All Traitors and Usurpers make fair Professions, and labour to hide their wicked Views; and they who would oppress, will certainly deceive. Even Catiline pretended to love, nay, to serve his Country, when he was going to destroy it. Spurius Melius, by bestowing on the Roman People great Quantities of Corn, in a Time of great Scarcity, was far enough from confessing to them, that he was thus purchasing Dominion over them; though this was manifestly his Drift; and he therefore became their Benefactor, that he might be their Tyrant. Cromwell, that mighty Champion against Monarchy, assumed more Power, than any of our Kings ever had enjoyed, purely to keep us from the terrible Power of Kings. He, good Man! aimed at none, but just what was necessary to preserve public Peace; that is, just as much as he pleased and wanted, enough to put Chains upon Three Kingdoms.

This Reasoning of Cromwell’s was as solid, and full as modest, as that of the Court, after the Restoration; when unlimited Power was claimed to the King, as necessary to save the Nation from relapsing into a Commonwealth, or falling under another Usurper. As if the greatest Curse that could possibly have befallen the Public, had been preferable to one that could not possibly be greater: I will go further, and venture to say, that if such a Calamity had been inevitable, and either King Charles or Oliver must sway the Sceptre uncontrouled, Oliver had been infinitely the better and wiser Choice, as a superior Genius, endowed with more Virtues, and better Principles. An Usurper is not the less one, for haveing been once a lawful King; for every lawful King grows an Usurper, when he assumes what is none of His.

Men often find, even in this Life, a proper, though not a complete Retribution for their Actions; besides that which arises from their own Conscience, which is the strongest and most sensible of all. Prince Maurice had served his Country with great Bravery and Success; and his Recompence was noble: He reaped great Glory and Fame, with public Applause, and all the most glaring and substantial Dignities of the State; nor, with Safety to their Liberties, which that People had so dearly purchased, could they give him more: And was not all that they could give him, Reward enough for doing his Duty? He thought not; but, it had been better for him that he had. If he had gained his Ends, he would have been miserable, because his Ends were wicked; nor could he have expected any thing from this Success but Vexation and Sorrow. But he miscarried; and, from thence, reaped Vexation and Sorrow, in such Abundance, as consumed his Life, as well as his Peace, and embittered and shortened his Days. Different and better was the End of Barnevelt: And, again I repeat it, he died gloriously, because he died for his Country.

To save and serve their Country, is the Duty of all Men. Or if it be just to reward Men who do so, as it certainly is; yet, surely, they must not be left to measure their own Reward: If they be, the Experience of all Times will shew, that Men, upon such Occasions, are not very modest. Some have thought the whole Country no more than a proper Recompence for their Services to it; and, to prove what faithful Servants they have been, and are, to the Public, have made themselves Masters of it.

There have never, in truth, been greater Pests and Felons to their Country, than such as it had most distinguished and ennobled with its highest Dignities. How could such Men afterwards have the Face to complain of Ingratitude, or even of Conspiracies against them, when they had proved the most ungrateful of all Men, and Conspirators against all Men? How could they bear any poor Criminal, who had transgressed for Bread, to suffer, without Shame and Sympathy? Is not a Fellow who robs and binds particular Persons, through Indigence, more intitled to Pity, and Excuses, and Pardon, than one who is already possessed of Preferments and Plenty, yet plunders and oppresses a Nation; that very Nation, to whom he owes his Exaltation, and all Things; yet, from being its Servant, would make himself its Master?

Such a Servant to his Country was Prince Maurice. It is very probable he had no such Design at first: But Power is apt to turn the Head; nor can the Man who has it, trust his own Heart; much less ought the People to trust him; I mean, implicitly. The Passions of Men are progressive; and Ambition was never reckoned the tamest and most moderate Passion. That Prince had, at first, full as much as he could hope for, and, perhaps, for a while, wished for no more; but, finding the States a Check upon him, he grew uneasy under that Check; then wanted to get rid of it. The People, long oppressed and exhausted by War, wanted Peace, which was offered them: He wanted perpetual War and Armies, at their Expence, to support his Grandeur and Eclat. He was, therefore, fierce for continuing the War, and implacable to all who opposed him. Hence he meditated the Death of honest Barnevelt, and the Bondage of all.

Barnevelt was, of all Men, the least qualified to comply with Measures so destructive to his Country; a Man who had done so much to make it independent and free, and so long and successfully served it, in so many Negotiations and Employments. He was Keeper of the Seals and Archives, had been trusted with Six important Embassies to several Courts, and near Forty times with Powers to confer with the Generals of the States, and to concert with them the Operations of War; had procured Succours from our Queen Elizabeth to his distressed Country, and brought several great Potentates, England, Denmark, and France, to own the United Provinces for a Free State. He was, indeed, the ablest Dutchman, and the most trusted. His last Words were; ‘I have been, all my Life, my dear Countrymen, your faithful Fellow-Citizen. Do not believe, I beseech you, that I die a Traitor. I die, only for endeavouring to preserve the Liberty of our common Country.’—What a Dagger must such a Speech, from such a Man, on such an Occasion, have been in the Heart of his Enemies? As cruel as they were, methinks, I pity them as miserable Men; and rejoice over the venerable old Martyr and Patriot, perishing for the Cause of Liberty and Virtue!

SECT. III. Cautions against the Arts and Encroachments of Ambition. The Character of a Patriot, and that of a Parricide. How much it is the Duty, how much the Interest, of all Governors to be Patriots.

WHAT a Fund of Evil and Malice lurks in the Heart of Man, when, to the Gratification of his own Vanity, foolish and pernicious Vanity, he can vow and resolve general Havock, and intail the Plague of Servitude upon Generations to come! Such Things Men have actually done to gain Power, nor will they do less to keep it. Yet some of these Men are said to have been merciful and generous: What Mercy have they shewn? Perhaps to a few Parriculars, when they were, at the same time, slaughtering and oppressing Nations. What Generosity? Profuse, it may be, they were to Favourites; whilst, all the while, they were plundering the World.

These are Considerations abundantly strong, to warn Mankind to watch the Movements of Ambition, and, where-ever they grant Power, to grant it with Reserves. No Man who intends only the Good of others, will desire more than is necessary to procure that Good. Power without Bounds has, ever since the Creation, proved the Misery and Bane of human Society, and of human Race. It is, indeed, utterly repugnant and irreconcilable to social Happiness. This is so true, that whoever knows it not, is a Stranger to the past and present State of the World. He, therefore, who loves and pursues it, must have a very weak Head, or a very wicked Heart. The Patriot flies and abhors it. He sees what horrible Ravages it commits; that it subsists upon the Misery and Depression of Men; that it dreads and destroys whatever is amiable, noble, virtuous, and free in the World; that it courts and employs whatever is wicked, mean, deformed, and ruinous; that it has reduced the loveliest Regions of the Earth to Graves and Desarts, and that it has universally the same swift Tendency to lay desolate and destroy.

Is it not just, is it not amiable and glorious, to prevent or remove a Curse so direful and consuming, with such a shocking Complication of Woes? Is it not wicked and execrable, to continue or introduce that Curse, and those Woes? This is the Work and Character of a Parricide; That, of a Patriot; the one, a Friend and Benefactor to his Species; the other, an Enemy and a Deserter; here, an Ornament and Support of human Nature; there, its Disgrace and Betrayer!

Behold Cicero labouring to save the State, excited by universal Benevolence to his Country; emboldened by the Goodness of his Cause, and the Approbation of his Conscience; supporting the Interest of public Liberty, and supported by it; all good Men his Friends and Assistants, and the worst Lot that could befal him, that of suffering, or dying for his Country; either of them a very glorious Lot, far preferable to that of rising or flourishing by its Detriment or Ruin! Is not this a glorious Situation, a virtuous Spirit, a divine Occupation, worthy and secure of immortal Renown?

See Catiline, on the other Side, meditating the Destruction and Slavery of his native City; conscious of his own hideous Guilt, worried by it, restless and desperate; not an honest, not a humane Sentiment in his Heart; his Soul possessed and gnawed by Revenge, and by every depraved and beastly Passion; an Object of Detestation and Hate; abhorred by every virtuous Citizen; followed by none but the Debauched, the Impious and Abandoned, by the Refuse and Dishonour of Rome; nothing before him but a guilty Death, or more guilty Success, with infamy living, and dying, and dead!

The Patriot has always a good Cause, the Cause of his Country and of Mankind, of all others the most important and interesting. His Aim is virtuous, his Ends noble, and therefore all his Pursuits pleasing. The Integrity and laudable Thoughts of his Heart, are a continual Cordial and Support. A Passion for the Public, and the Welfare of Mankind, animates him; the Sense of his Duty fortifies him. He has the Wishes, the Concurrence and Praises of all worthy Men: Opposition from the Vicious and Unworthy, proves a Justification to him, and inspires him with fresh Vigour. His Views are great, benevolent, elevated, even to promote and defend whatever is lovely, righteous, desirable, and praise-worthy in the World; for, the Root of all this is Liberty: Even to oppose and destroy whatever is baneful, odious, wicked, and afflicting amongst Men; for, the certain Cause of all this is Slavery. In such a Cause, it is glorious to succeed; for such a Cause, it is glorious to die. However, therefore, he may be unfortunate, he can never be unhappy.

Opposite to this, and consequently painful and miserable, is the Cause of the Parricide; terrible and loathsome to all good Men, and to himself a continual Source of Fear and Remorse. His Life is a Course of Falshood and Constraint, and therefore of Pain and Care. He must hide his Heart, because its Devices are evil; and for this his Heart must cruelly reproach him. As he hurts, or intends to hurt, all Men, he has Reason to dread all, and to apprehend Destruction from such as he would destroy. Virtuous Men will detest him; innocent Men will not assist him; he cannot trust to the Aid of wicked Men; and such Aid, when he has it, is infamous. Whatever Opposition is made to him, whatever Attempts are made upon him, he cannot complain, be the same ever so subdolous and violent; because all his own Proceedings are violent and deceitful; and whoever unjustly arms himself against Mankind, does but call all Mankind to arm justly against him.

Can such a Man be Happy? Can he have inward Peace, withour which there is no Happiness? Can that Man have Peace, who would ruin his Country, who would destroy Liberty, and, with it, Truth and Virtue? That Man who would establish Thraldom, and, with It, Vileness and Misery? His Ambition does not extinguish his other Passions which thwart it; it only proves his strongest Passion: But still from the rest, though they prevail not, he must find very painful Resistance. Shame, Compunction, and Fear, are all Emotions natural to the human Soul, and have Force enough to shake and rend it; and the Ambitious and Guilty feel them most. If Pleasure naturally attend Acts of Virtue and Benevolence; and if that Pleasure arise in proportion to the Good which is done, or endeavoured; it must be equally natural for Anguish and Bitterness of Soul to follow Deeds of Injustice and Violence; and the more Iniquity, the more Remorse.

Is it Amiable and Praiseworthy to be friendly and kind to Particulars? How much more so is it to be generous to All, to love our Country and Mankind, and to endeavour their Prosperity? Is it Odious and Hard-hearted, to have Pity upon no Man, to assist and relieve none? How much more base and barbarous is it to distress and oppress our Country and all Men, for selfish and wicked Ends of our own; for one Man to reduce all the rest to Chains and Misery, that he may domineer and riot?

Bulion, Treasurer to Lewis XIII. told his Master, who expressed some Tenderness for the poor People, loaded with Taxes, and devoured by Tax-Masters, ‘That they were not yet reduced to cat Grass.’ Certainly Grass, and common Air, was too good for such a venomous Parricide. Was a Creature, with so black a Heart, and so much Malice, fit to be employed by the supreme Governor and Protector of a Nation? For, he who is not the latter, is unworthy to be the former. I do not find, tht he lost his Employment or Favour for this execrable Declaration; whence may be concluded, that a hard Heart was no ill Qualification then in a French Minister of State.

Let a People be used ever so coarsly, and even unmercifully, by their Governors, yet their Governors always expect from the People signal Loyalty and Affection. They must be thankful under Oppression, be pleased with heavy Chains, and kiss the Iron Rod, which, perhaps, is reckoned Sacred and Adorable; whilst it is only employed to terrify, afflict, and kill. I have known Subjects so wretched, so oppressed and squeezed, so pale, starved and naked, that, as their Existence seemed a Burden and a Curse to them, Death would have appeared a Blessing and Relief: Yet their Prince talked much, and gravely, of his Glory, and of the Zeal and Duty of his Subjects: Duty! For what? For making them as miserable as all the Arts and Malice of Blood-suckers could make them? They were, indeed, tame, and stupid, and patient by Force. But Abjectness and Despair deserves not the Name of Duty. Duty ought to be a rational and voluntary Thing, the Effect of Ease, and fatherly Protection. No Man has a Right to expect Tenderness or Regard from me, if he use me cruelly and contemptuously. Governors who treat not their Subjects like Children, cannot expect to be treated by their Subjects as Fathers.

All Governors ought to be Patriots, the best Patriots, and to set a continual Example of Patriotism to others, and to all Men. Without studying the Happiness of others, they cannot hope for any Glory to themselves; and whoever rules without Glory, is not like to escape Infamy. Their highest and purest Glory is the Freedom and Felicity of their People. To procure this, as it is their Duty and best Ambition, ought to be the Study and Business of their Lives. This is their great Point, and, for their own Sakes, they ought to labour it. What else can concern them so much, and so nearly? No Power is otherwise laudable, than from the Good which it does. Where it does none, it is contemptible; where it does Evil, it is detestable; and is then only lovely, when it blesses, protects, and saves. It is like Fire and Water, two great Benefits to the World, when properly applied, and confined; but equally terrible and pernicious, when they rise to Inundations and devouring Flames.

I am charmed with the Saying and Behaviour of the Chinese Emperor Tai Zung, who carrying the Prince his Son into the Fields, and shewing him the Husbandmen busy at their Labour, ‘See, said he to him, what Pains these poor Men take, all the Year round, to maintain You and Me. I have therefore ever been careful to case and protect these poor People: Without their Labour and Sweat, You and I should have no Kingdom.’ These were Sentiments worthy of a King, who, when he is indeed the Father of his People, and loves and treats them tenderly, is then truly King; and, when he acts not like a Father, is then, in effect, something else, and worse.

These are Sentiments which ought to possess every Man who administers, or has any Share in administring a State; and without such Sentiments as these, no other Qualifications are availing, or to be trusted. The Head generally is led by the Heart, and, if he love any Interest of his own better than that of the State, he will be apt, instead of sacrificing private Interest to that of the Public, to sacrifice the State to his private Interest. This, indeed, is poor Policy, and a narrow View, as well as very wicked; it is Pity it were not more singular.

An Emperor of Turkey, when he was told how much the poor People were harrassed, and how many of them destroyed, by the Hardships which they suffered, in preparing Sport for him daily, and daily attending him in it, was so far from relenting, or feeling Pity, for Wretches thus suffering and perishing for his Diversions, that he answered, with great Scorn, to the merciful Man who gave him this honest Information; ‘Take care of the Dogs; be sure they be well used, and fed.’ Was this poor, great, miserable, lofty, hard-hearted Wretch, a Governor? This Destroyer of Men, a supreme Magistrate? This incarnate Dæmon, God’s Ordinance?

O with how much Nonsense, with how much Wickedness and Misery, this strange World abounds! And how fast and naturally they beget one another! It would be a great Blessing and Advantage gained to Mankind, under such Governments, if they could but compound with their Governors, to forbear doing them Mischief; and, upon that Consideration, chearfully give up all Hopes and Expectancy of any Good or Advantage from them whatsoever. It would, in truth, be a glorious Bargain, and mend the Condition of the World prodigiously; considering at what a sad and barbarous Rate the Government of the World is conducted in most Countries. For it is melancholy to consider, but too true, that generally they who sway the State, are its greatest Enemies: It is therefore no Wonder, that they treat as Traitors, and often destroy, its best Friends.

I have often wondered, how the Governors of a Nation oppressed and poor, could enjoy any Pleasure; how relish Pomp and Luxury, when by it they brought Wretchedness upon Millions! One would think, that, as they are Men, they must find much Bitterness in their Cup, and many anxious Reflections. Can they always avoid remembring, that Despair may produce Outrage and Revolt; and that their Subjects, having been treated without Mercy, may shew none? Or, supposing them ever so Tame, yet, if they are Miserable, is not this a melancholy Consideration to those who make them so? Can all the Pomp, and Luxury, and Flattery in the World, atone for so painful a Thought? What can be more dishonourable and unjust, and therefore more affecting, than to starve and afflict Multitudes, that we may riot and flutter? Multitudes too, whom it is our Duty to love, and assist, and cherish? Is there a real Delight in doing Good, as surely there is? Then equal is, or ought to be, the Pain of being the Cause of Evil; and that Pain must be still greater, and more pungent, if the Evil be done to such as depend upon us, to such as are trusted to our Care and Protection.

It is impossible not to love a Patriot. It is only loving those who love us. Is not this a desirable Character and Reward? It is impossible not to hate a Parricide, because he hates us, and is our Enemy. Who would not dread and avoid such a Situation? Indeed, Patriotism is no more than good Policy; it is the safest and best Choice, as well as the most virtuous and just. The whole State of Venice became, at one time, a State of Patriots, and found their Account gloriously in it.

As they were pressed by the powerful League of Cambray, and convinced, how much it availed them to preserve the Affections of their Subjects, they did a Thing, says the Historian, unexampled in the latter Ages. They published a Decree, by which they engaged to indemnify them for all their Losses, past and to come, during the War, out of the public Treasury. Those who trusted them had no Cause to repent. That State kept their Word religiously with every Particular, and found the good Effects of it; for never did People manifest greater Zeal and Fidelity, under all the Afflictions and Hardships of that terrible and unequal War. In spight of all Dangers, of all the Rage of a foreign Soldiery, and even of Death, that People persisted in their Affections to their State, ran all Risques for it, and even voluntarily served it as Spies. Such had been their merciful and paternal Usage from their Governors, and so generously and affectionately did they return it.

We see by this, that Governments can find Ways to make the People grateful, and even generous, as also what Ways these are. Had that wise State always acted thus wisely, and used their Subjects with equal Justice and Tenderness, they might, in all Likelihood, have been still Sovereigns of the Morea.

The Instance of the Saguntines is famous: They, rather than surrender themselves to the Enemies of Rome, burnt themselves and their City. There was something very remarkable and great in the Spirit and Behaviour of the Corsicans, during their late Revolt; which, I dare say, was not without Provocation: Few Revolts are. Not a Man of them would continue in foreign Service, however good his Appointments were there, when the Cause of his Country called him Home: Not a Man in the Island, not a Frier, was to be found, at any Price, to give Intelligence to the Enemy; and many of them chose to bear Racks, and Torture, and Death in the most terrible Shapes, rather than turn Spies and Traitors to their Country. This was Patriotism, an invincible Love to their native Country, above all Temptation and Terror, above all Price and Corruption.

This firm and generous Conduct of the Corsicans brings into my Mind the fine Answer of the Lacedæmonians to King Philip of Macedon, who, in his Letters to them, threatened, that, ‘He would prevent all their Measures!’ Will he prevent us from dying? replied those brave old Spartans.

Donato Gianotti, Secretary to the State of Florence, whilst it was yet free, could not bear even to live in it, when changed into a despotic Principality, and subjected to the House of Medicis, though he was offered, by the Great Duke, high Dignities and Advantages; all which he utterly rejected, and retired to Venice, to live and die in a free City. He scorned to countenance Tyranny and Usurpation; nor would he stay to see the sad Consequences of so terrible a Change, the best Citizens exiled, or imprisoned, or martyred; at best, awed, neglected, and unpreferred; the worst, caressed and promoted for being so, for their Insensibility of public Servitude, and for their Promptness to bear it; Men of Merit and Figure, lost in Oblivion and Solitude, Objects of Jealousy, and useless to the Public; Pimps and Betrayers, in high Favour, and covered with the Marks of it. He could not bear to see the Laws, and Liberty, and Welfare of his Country, all swallowed up in the Will, and Pride, and Convenience of a late Citizen, and a private Family; nor his Countrymen the Florentines, for so many Ages free, and brave, and impatient of any Yoke, a People who had been their own Masters so late and so long, now reduced to Impotence and Vassalage, cowed and enslaved. This was Proof of a good Spirit in Gianotti, and he made a better Choice. The meanest Retirement is far beyond any Share in Tyranny, beyond all the guilty Glare and Spoils which it can bestow.

Philip Strozzi, that illustrious and wealthy Citizen, of the same City, (one of the richest Subjects in Europe) was so passionate a Lover of public Liberty, and had such an Antipathy to Slavery, that, having tried all Ways of restoring the Freedom of his Country, without Success, he ordered his Children, by his last Will, to remove his Bones from his Grave in Florence, and, carrying them to Venice, interr them there; ‘To the End, says he, that since I had not the Felicity to die in a free State, I may enjoy that Favour after my Death, and my Ashes rest in Peace, out of the Reach and Domination of the Conqueror.’ Strozzi had attempted to restore the Republic, but failed, and was put in Prison; where, apprehending the Application of the Rack, that he might not, by Torture, be brought to betray his Friends, he slew himself. The Motive was noble, if the Act could be justified.

SECT. IV. How apt the World is to be deceived with Glare and Outside, to admire prosperous Iniquity, and to slight Merit in Disgrace. Public Spirit the Duty of all Men. The Evils and Folly attending the Want of it.

IT is remarkable enough, and little to the Credit of the Judgment of the World, that Iniquity, if it be but very great and glaring, justifies itself; or rather, it is often justified by the strange Consent of the Gross of Mankind; and what should blacken and blast it, purifies and ennobles it. Can the Earth produce a more pestilent and guilty Creature, than one who enslaves any Part of it? In that one Act of Wickedness is implied every wicked Act whatsoever, Robbery, Murder, Treachery, Inhumanity, the Ravages of Lust and Malice, of Cruelty and Oppression, the Persecution and Exile of Virtue, the Abasement of Justice, and the Introduction to all Sorrow, gross Ignorance, and Bestiality. Yet, whoever passes through this frightful Train of Sin and Villainy with Success, shall have the unaccountable Honour to be admired and courted: He, who would have adorned a Gibbet, with universal Approbation, for attempting any one of them, grows renowned for perpetrating them all; and thenceforth Gibbets and Halters become the Portion and Reward of the Righteous and Innocent, of the Patriot, and the Friend to Virtue. Are not poor Thieves, are not humble Rogues, and small Robbers, notably injured by such partial Judgment, and such an unequal Lot? Ille crucem pretium sceleris tulit, hic diadema.

Man seems to be a Creature formed to be imposed upon, and misled; else the greatest Villain would always be the most decried and unhappy, and the most righteous and benevolent Man would flourish most, be best supported, most adored and applauded. To the Dishonour of our Species, and Misfortune of the World, the Reverse of all this is true. They who ought to rejoice, often weep; they who deserve to weep, often rejoice: The Innocent are generally oppressed, the Well-meaning misled: They who do this, are exalted and revered by those who suffer it; and the miserable Dupes, the Sufferers, often account these their Enemies and Seducers to be their special Friends; nay, are at great Pains and Expence to perpetuate their Misfortunes, under the Name and Notion of notable Advantages: They sometimes reckon him their worst Foe, who would enlighten and relieve them.

This is the Creature who boasts of being Rational! It must be owned, that he is capable of Instruction, as well as of sometimes abusing it: But the Truth is, Instruction is little else but Abuse in most Countries, little else but propagating Falshoods, and wonderful Nonsense, with Antipathy to Truth, to Reason, and to Liberty; a Fondness for Ignorance, which passes for divine Knowlege, and for Bondage, which is styled Obedience. Hence Popes and Tyrants are idolized; hence such as oppose these sacred Parricides, these supreme Curses upon Earth, are reproached, traduced, and mentioned with Horror; and hence, the greatest of all Rebels, he who enslaves his Country, when he has done it, is called Ruler, or some other fine Name; and treats, as Rebels, all who are loyal to their Country, against his Disloyalty and Rebellion.

Such is the ridiculous Force and Witchcraft attending Names, and proceeding from preposterous Education. Much more honourable to me, much more happy, seems the Family of Medicis, whilst yet private Men, and opulent Citizens of a free City, than when raised by Faction, by Force, and by the dirty and corrupted Populace, to be Lords of Injustice over their native State. Nay, I know not whether they were not richer when Subjects, than when Princes; more innocent I am sure they were, as well as more secure. Yet, such is the deceitful Force of a big Word, that they were no sooner called Princes, a Title ill-gotten, and therefore usurped, but great Monarchs intermarried with them. Whilst they were good Citizens and Merchants, these Monarchs, probably, would have despised such an Alliance. Strange Blindness and Injustice! A Merchant may be an honest Man, a Patriot, and a Friend to Mankind; a useful Member of Society he certainly is. Can a Usurper, one who brings Chains and Calamity upon his Country, claim any of these Characters and Commendations?

I see more Glory (and there is more) in being a just and useful Magistrate, in a free Country, even a Burgess in Swisserland, than in exercising the Iron Rod of a Tyrant, with a Title ever so sounding, over a Country ever so charming. Liberty produces Comfort, nay, Plenty and Prosperity, even amongst Rocks; and smileth in the sternest Regions; she blesses in spight of Nature; and, in spight of Nature, Tyranny brings Curses. In Climes, which, for Beauty and Fertility, look like the Pride and Masterpiece of the Creation, Rags and Famine, Nastiness, ghastly Looks, and Misery in all Shapes, are seen to abound; and the forlorn Condition of the wretched People seems to belye and disgrace the Soil. Such, in fact, is the Difference between the Condition of the Swiss Cantons, cold, bleak, and mountainous as they are, and that of some of the finest Regions under the Sun, not far from them.

Can they, who consider this, and are at all solicitous about the State of their Country, ever sufficiently value Liberty, and defend it? Can they prize Patriots, and hate Parricides, too much? Can they too much dread Tyranny, too much detest Slavery? Can they think any Subject upon Earth so worthy of being handled and opened, recommended and enforced? It is the great Theme, the first and principal Concern of Society. What can concern Men so much, as, whether they shall be Happy, or Miserable; Free, or in Chains? Whether they shall enjoy the highest Blessing, or bear the most bitter Curse and Calamity, that this World affords? Cicero esteemed Death and Exile to be Evils far short of Slavery: Mortem & ejectionem quasi majora timemus; quæ multo sunt minora.

Here, therefore, is the Test of the Patriot and the Parricide, and their different Characters. He who has a virtuous and tender Regard for the Public; he who wishes and pursues its Welfare; he who rejoices in its Prosperity, and feels its Misfortunes, and is zealous to remove them; he who is jealous of public Liberty as the great Root of all social Felicity; he who dreads and abhors arbitrary Dominion as the most devouring Plague; He, This is the Patriot, the Friend of his Country, and deserving its Friendship.

Yet all this is no more than one’s Duty, a Duty, which every Man owes to the Public. But it is too true, that such Duties as Virtue alone injoins, are seldom performed, or even considered as such. Men think, that, if they can but escape Censure and Penalties, they do their Duty; and bestow that good Name upon Sordidness and Fear. Such narrow Minds hardly deserve the Care of those who have larger. Besides, Wretches who are destitute themselves of public Spirit, cannot prize it in others, nor be grateful to those who have it. This Insensibility, I doubt, goes often further than the Vulgar, and above them. But where-ever it is found, it is excessively foolish, as well as shocking and criminal: For, as public Spirit is a Duty, from every Man to all the rest, enforced by the eternal Authority of the Law of Nature, whoever obeys it not, is an Offender, a greater Offender than some who are condemned by positive Laws; since he who hurts only one Man, or Particulars, cannot be so guilty as he who offends against all.

The Nature of Society implies the Necessity, and consequently the Duty, of mutual Help and Benevolence; and whatever of this Kind a Man claims from others, others may claim from him. The Right is reciprocal, and therefore so is the Duty. So that he who is indifferent about the Whole, about the general Interest of the Society, makes himself an Alien, and, in fact, forfeits the Favour and Protection of the Whole. He who has this Turn, this strange unfeeling Heart, is a contemptible Being, as well as foolish and short-sighted. When the Society is oppressed, or enslaved, He must be oppressed and enslaved too. For, I speak not now of any great Parricide, who has the Misfortune to be successful, and to subdue all.

When this Spirit of Indifference about the Condition of the Public, becomes general, it is, indeed, terrible; as it is an Encouragement and Opportunity given to Parricides, so to strengthen and exalt themselves, that even the Revival of public Spirit shall have no other Effect, than to furnish Victims to Their Power and Revenge; and the public Bondage, which might have been prevented, only by a little Care and Vigilance, is, perhaps, so fixed, as not to be removed, even by strenuous Resistance, and an Effusion of Blood.

This Sort of Stupor possessed the People of Italy, during the Attempts of Cæsar; even whilst he was already in their Country, openly armed against the Commonwealth. Poor and narrow were the Considerations that swayed them; and they looked no further than just to preserve their Seats and Farms, their Money and Rents. Nihil prorsus aliud curant, nisi agros, nisi viliulas, nisi nummulos, says Cicero.—He adds, in another Letter, Hujus insidiosa clementia delectantur: That artful Clemency of his, which was only a Snare laid for them, delighted them, and laid them asleep. Poor deluded Men! They did not consider, that he was going to have it in his Power to seize for himself, or to surrender to some of his needy Followers, (who only followed him for Rapine) these very darling Seats, and Lands, and Treasures of theirs, whenever he pleased, with Impunity; or that, if He spared them, some of his Successors might take their Fortunes, and their Lives too; as, indeed, they did, without any Ceremony or Mercy.

It is, indeed, amazing, that any Man, who thinks at all of the Public, should be indifferent about it; it is more amazing, that any Man, who has a Stake in it, can avoid thinking of it, or be without Zeal for it: But it is most amazing, that great Men, Men of Dignity and Fortune, of Splendor and Title, all which can only be secure whilst the Public is so, should not always, and in all Countries, be upon perpetual Guard against their own Ruin and Debasement, and continually studying to support public Liberty, which must support them.

Lukewarmness, from such Men, would seem incredible, if it had never happened; and is infamous whenever it happens, as well as the Effect of the most gross Blindness and Infatuation. Yet thus lukewarm were many of the Great Romans, even when they saw Cæsar’s Sword already waving dreadfully over them. Well might Cicero say of them, as he does, with just Severity and Contempt, Ita stulti sunt, ut, amissa republica, piscinas suas salvas fore videntur: ‘They were such Fools to conclude, that, though the Republic were lost, their Fish-ponds would remain secure.’

Fools indeed! When Liberty was gone, no Man could be secure, nor any Man’s Possessions. This Discovery, which a Child might have made at first, they made afterwards; when their not having made it sooner, only served to upbraid and torment them. They, indeed, felt it, and felt it with a Vengeance, under the Triumvirate, when a Price was set upon their Heads, and their Possessions, and darling Fish-ponds, seized by the Tyrants who succeeded their Friend Cæsar, whose Clemency was not perpetuated with his Usurpation. This, too, was very easy to have been foreseen; as also the future State of their Families, which were all persecuted; most of them cut off by the following Tyrants, without any Exception, or Favour to the Descendants of such as had helped to establish the Tyranny.

Here is a Lesson and Warning to all Nations, especially to Men of Name and Figure amongst them, how dearly they ought to prize public Spirit and Patriots; how much it becomes and behoves them to possess and cherish that Spirit; and how nearly it imports all Men to love their Country. It is only Self-love generously applied; and he who loves himself judiciously, will certainly love the Public and Liberty. It is, moreover, virtuous and honourable; and is intitled to solid Fame, to the Affections and Praises of all Men. What other Motive needs there? He who has not this Spirit, may, perhaps, be a harmless Man; but he is a very bad Citizen: He who dislikes or despises it, is an Enemy to his Fellow-Citizens; and must expect a natural Return, that of Hate and Infamy. Is Life, or any thing in Life, worth enjoying upon such melancholy Terms? A virtuous Man may bear Dislike and Obloquy, because he knows that he deserves it not: But Detestation abroad, accompanied with Guilt within, and occasioned by it, is a heavy and a doleful Lot! What does the World produce to atone for it? Guilty Greatness is, at best, but a great Burden and Reproach.

The Love of our Country is such an amiable Quality, indeed such an important Duty, attended with so many Recommendations to enforce it, that it is a Pity, as well as a Wonder, it should not be common. How natural it is, to love and respect a Man of this Spirit! It melts me into Compassion and Sympathy, and fills me with Reverence and Esteem, when I find, in my Reading, such a Character as that of the Sieur Baptist du Mesnil, Advocate General in France, in the time of that Monster in a Diadem Catharine de Medicis. He loved his Country so passionately, that it broke his Heart to see its Misfortunes. This Testimony he has from Monsieur De Thou, that great Historian and Patriot; and this Testimony is a glorious Reward for so virtuous a Mind, for a Grief so pious, and so honest an End.

Cicero used to ask himself, What Men would say of him when he was gone? And was more afraid of the Judgment of future Historians, than of all the common Prate and Censure of the present Time. This was agreeable to the good Sense of Cicero. A Man who loves Fame, will labour to deserve it: If he be indifferent about it, it is a shrewd Presumption, that he is equally indifferent about his Morals: If he utterly despise it, he does as surely despise the Means of acquiring it, even Virtue and worthy Actions. Fame is always the sure Portion of the Patriot, first or last (for sometimes he is eclipsed for awhile); and a glorious Portion it is. Flatterers and Parricides, with the great and small Vulgar, may traduce him; but this only confirms his Merit, and adds to his Renown. The best Lot that can befal the Parricide, is to be forgot: A very comfortless Lot! especially to a Man who has Cause to wish for it. It was a laudable Passion for Glory in Cicero, when he grew jealous, lest the Services done by Pompey to the Republic, might seem, to Posterity, to surpass His.

It is but reasonable, that Men who are employed, and trusted, and paid, by the Public, should study its Interest and Welfare before all Things: If they do not, they dishonour their Employments, and break their Trust. Wretched, and even impious, was the Evasion and Excuse of the Cardinal de Biragues, Chancellor of France, for his abject Compliances with all the vile Devices, Frauds, and Enormities of the Court, in the scandalous Reign of Henry the Third: He said, ‘That he was not Chancellor of France, but Chancellor to the King of France.’ It was an absurd Distinction, as well as false and wicked. If the arbitrary Humour of that Prince had been checked, if his Ministers, instead of basely complying with his rash Will and Caprice, had taught him, as they ought, to measure his Power by the Laws, and to seek his Glory in the Prosperity of his People, he might have died gloriously and lamented. By serving only his Passions, they ruined his Honour and Reputation, and blasted his Reign: He became, first, the Dread; next, the Aversion; at last, the Scorn of his own People, and an Object of Pity or Contempt to Christendom.

This was the blessed Effect of complaisant Counsellors; who made it a great Merit, and Point of Flattery, that they were the King’s Ministers, and not the Ministers of the Kingdom: God knows, they were not; the Kingdom soon discovered it: Whence, too, another Discovery quickly followed, that, neither, was he King of his People, whom he cruelly oppressed, but only of his Favourites, whom, at the Expence of his Subjects, he extravagantly raised and enriched. When he had, by such Ministers and Measures, incensed his People, did these his Favourites retrieve for him the popular Affection? No; they were a dead Weight upon Him, as they were one principal Cause of the public Hate. When the People had revolted, did his Favourites prove his Support? No; he was forced to have recourse for Aid to the poor Protestants, whom he had been constantly butchering, persecuting, and using treacherously. How happy and beloved, and, therefore, how powerful and glorious, might this unfortunate Prince have been, only by following the easiest and honestest Methods of Government; which are always the most honourable and safe! But his Mother, his Monks, and his Minions, all seeking their own particular and base Ends, corrupted his Heart, youthful and voluptuous, by pernicious Maxims and Flattery; and thence brought upon him Ruin and Reproach.

‘It was not the Name of Kings, that created such Aversion in our Forefathers to Monarchy,’ said Tiberius Gracchus to the Roman People: No; ‘It was their Partiality, their profuse and boundless Favours to Particulars; whilst others, of superior Merit, remained in Want and Poverty.’ This was, indeed, unpopular and provoking; an Indication of what they had most at Heart; not the Service or Honour of the Public, but the Gratification of their own Caprice. Nor can any People, even the most stupid, be pleased, to see contemptible Men in Favour; such as Pimps, Barbers, and Buffoons; whilst Men of Merit, Ability, and Virtue, are neglected, discountenanced, and brow-beaten. Where Patriots, or the Spirit of Patriotism governs, that Government can hardly be shaken: And it is only for want of such Governors, and such a Spirit, that most, if not all Governments come to decay and perish: Nor can it be otherwise, when the public Interest is neglected by public Men, or sacrificed to little private Interests of their own. It is very true, that these separate Interests are always ill-judged; and, as they certainly hurt the State, they will, in the End, disappoint, and injure, and dishonour the Man who pursues them at the Expence of the State; upon the Prosperity of which, that of Individuals must always depend: Of which I have already given Instances, and many more might be given.

SECT. V. Considerations upon Two distinguished Romans, Cato and Cæsar; one in the Interest of his Country, the other in his own Interest: With the Fate and Issue of Cæsar’s Ambition, to himself and his Race.

I SHALL finish this Discourse with some Observations upon Two famous Romans, Cato and Cæsar; the first falling by his own Hands, rather than suffer or see the public Bondage; the second by the Hands of others, for having introduced it. Their Characters are drawn ingeniously by Sallust; but not fully. He owns, that, in their Age, Lineage, and Eloquence, there was a near Resemblance; that they possessed equal Greatness of Mind, and gained equal Glory: But he considers them only as Two great Subjects of a free State, serving it, and thence acquiring Fame by different Ways and Qualities; and omits the grand Difference of all, that the one made it the great Study and Labour of his Life, to save and purify the State; whilst the other strove, with all his Might and Art, to corrupt and overthrow it. Cato contended for public Liberty and Virtue; Cæsar for his own Power; and thence promoted all public Abuses and Corruption. In Cato, all virtuous Men, and every righteous Cause, found a sure Patron and Sanctuary: By Cæsar, the Profligate, the Depraved, and Desperate, with every Traitor, and all traiterous Practices, were protected and cherished. Cato endeavoured to recall antient Probity and Innocence; to reclaim or punish Evil-doers; to secure the Public, by upright Measures; and to transmit Liberty and good Government to Generations to come: Cæsar promoted Dissoluteness and Venality; encouraged public Criminals; embroiled, and debauched, and oppressed the State. Cato loved his Country, sought for it, and died for it; and thence left to it an illustrious and affecting Example, of Virtue incorruptible, and of primitive Zeal: Cæsar loved Himself beyond his Country, fought for Himself against his Country, and to Himself enslaved his Country: He intailed Bondage upon That and succeeding Ages; and left a Race of Successors truly worthy of the Inheritance of Tyranny; a Race who were the Scourge and Shame of human Nature, the Pests and Butchers of the Romans, and of all Men.

Such, literally, were the Doings and Character of thy boasted Cæsar, O Rome; these his Atchievments, this his Legacy! If all this make him not a Parricide, the highest Parricide, the Meaning of Words is inverted, Truth and Reason have lost their Course, and Guilt and Innocence are no more. Did he not fill thee, Rome, and all thy wide Regions, with Blood, and Woe, and Chains? He spoke well, he fought well; but for whose sake? and who reaped the Benefit? Was not the Benefit His; the Expence, the Pain, and Sorrow, Thine? Over Thee and thy Liberties was his last Triumph.

Rather boast a Patriot; thy Patriot Cato; one who was a Foe to Thy Foes, thy best Champion, thy true Prophet; one who forewarned thee of all thy impending Calamities; struggled to avert them; and perished, rather than behold them(a). This is Fame indeed; genuine Fame; great, immortal, and unallayed. Whatever Exploits Cæsar did, whatever fine Qualities he had, still he enslaved his Country; a Consideration that tarnishes and frustrates all his Praise. Cicero treats him as a Madman, and a wretched Being, who had never the least Notion of genuine Glory. Amentem & miserum, qui ne umbram quidem unquam τoupergr kappavαλoupergr viderit. ‘Does he (says Cicero) do all these Things for the sake of his Honour? Where is his Honour; where his Virtue and Justice? To hold an Army from the Public against the Public? To seize the municipal Cities, in order to usurp Rome itself, and enslave his Country? To cancel all Debts; to pardon all Criminals; to commit a thousand Outrages; all to arrive at Tyranny, which is his highest Deity?’ All this, in the Opinion of that great Roman Patriot and Luminary, was to be most miserable, as well as most wicked; and his great Success was but great Guilt.

Nothing was ever more shameless than his Demands, in order to an Accommodation; in which, however, he was never sincere. I must again borrow the Reasoning of Cicero. ‘How? Grant him what he asks with such enormous Impudence! For, what is more impudent, O Cæsar! Thou hast holden the Province Ten Years; a Term not given thee by the Senate, but given thee by Thyself, and the Force of Faction. Even this Term, one measured not by the Law, but thy own Lust, is elapsed. But grant it to be legitimate: The Senate have decreed thee a Successor. This thou opposest, and criest, Let some Consideration be had for Me. I say, Do Thou have some Consideration for Us. Dost thou keep an Army longer than the Roman People ordained, keep it in Defiance of the Authority of the Senate? There is therefore now no Choice, but either to fight, or to submit.’ In another Letter to Atticus, taking Notice of some plausible Promises from Cæsar, ‘Does Cæsar pretend, says Cicero, to bring good Tidings to all worthy Romans? Where will he find such, unless he hang himself, and go to the other World for them?’

The Clemency of Cæsar is much extolled. In truth, it was absolutely necessary, that he should appear full of Clemency; and therefore it was Policy to proceed by the Ways of Clemency, as long as Clemency would do. He had seen Marius and Sylla detested for their personal Cruelties. But, if mild Methods had failed, will any one say, that a Man, mad with Ambition, would have forgone all his fine Schemes, and ambitious Views, rather than pursue them by Acts of Vengeance and Blood? What Cruelty is so great, as that of making War upon one’s Country, and enslaving it? Did he not do this? Must he not do every thing necessary to such an impious End, even kill and destroy, till he gained it, or was himself destroyed? Would he, who exposed Men to Death and Slaughter by Myriads, have scrupled the Death of Particulars? Did he not tell Cicero roundly, that, if he could not obtain the Concurrence of Cicero and his Friends, he would embrace any Assistance, from whatever Quarter it came, and betake himself to all Courses whatsoever—ad omnia esse descensurum? Did not Curio, his Friend and Adherent, declare of him, that ‘He was not, in his own Nature and Inclination, unpossessed with a Spirit of Cruelty; but thought Clemency a popular Quality; yet, if the Favour of the People failed him, he would certainly prove cruel.’ Cœlius too, the Orator, and a Partizan of Cæsar’s, freely says of him, in a Letter to Cicero, that ‘He meditated nothing but what was Violent and Tragical, nor even spoke in any other Strain.’ Cicero charges him expresly, with a long and constant Design to murder Pompey.

Phalaris, the Tyrant of Agrigentum, whose Name is become proverbial for Cruelty, began his Usurpation with great Mildness, and proceeded in it long: He even manifested great Patience and Forgiveness upon the Discovery of several Attempts and Conspiracies against his Life; but, from the Frequency of such Attempts, he became Vindictive and Bloody, and continued so. He pleaded, ‘That, without being cruel to others, he could not be safe himself.’ A terrible Expedient for Safety, very precarious, and often producing a contrary Effect. Cæsar, in all Probability, must have acted as Phalaris had acted.

Take away Cæsar’s fine Qualities, which, of themselves, merit no Commendation, as he applied them to such evil Purposes, and consider only his Views and Pursuits, which were continually Evil, what a Monster must he appear? Nay, his Crimes are the worse for his fine Qualities. Without doubt, he was a Thousand times worse than Nero, as he did a Thousand times more Mischief to the World. Such Difference does Art, or the Want of it, make in the Characters of Men. Nero wanted Address, to appear a pleasing Devil. Cæsar had it. Besides, it was he, who, by enslaving the Romans, enabled Nero to butcher them.

I shall conclude, with considering the Advantages which this famous Usurper, Cæsar, drew from his Usurpation. It, indeed, cost him very dear: After a troublesome Life, a world of Guilt and Bloodshed, many Perils, and endless Disquiets, he was cut off as a Traitor and a Tyrant. As to Fame and Posterity, he, like all other Usurpers, judged ill about them. From good and wise Men, he, who did such execrable things, in order to the most execrable of All, even the destroying public Liberty, and enslaving his Country, could reap no Fame at all, but eternal Aversion and Reproach: And who would court Fame from the dirty and obscene Rabble?

It fared as ill with his Posterity, as with his Fame. He might, indeed, have left them possessed of great Glory, and a lasting Establishment, by reforming and restoring the State, and thence entailing upon them, and upon all Men, the great Blessing of their antient Liberty. Then, too, his Renown would have been permanent and noble, like that of the first Brutus, and his Descendants, ever dear to the Romans, and ever revered.

This would have been just Ambition, like that recommended by Machiavel, who would have ‘A Prince, or great Man, who aims at Praise and Immortality, to chuse, for the Scene of his Government and Glory, a State which is corrupt and decaying, as one proper for him to rectify and restore.’ This is a Design truly great and princely, benevolent and honourable. Whereas to vitiate and enthral a State, is barbarous, little, and base. Cæsar took not the former virtuous Course; but chose the latter Course, which was altogether impious and destructive, and thence forfeited all just Fame; and, having put Chains upon his Country, left thence a Curse upon his Posterity.

His immediate Successor descended not from him, but from his Sister: He that followed was not of his Family, but left the Empire to one of the Race, where it, however, continued not long. The whole Line, for the most part, proved beastly, bloody, and detested Monsters. Could such contribute to preserve or perpetuate his Fame? They died too, like him, violent Deaths. So little did His or Their overgrown Power serve to secure Him or Them! It, indeed, caused and quickened their tragical Fall. In a few Reigns, all bloody, unfortunate, and accursed, or rather, in a few Years, the Imperial Diadem was rent from his Family for ever. That horrible Cannibal Nero, was the last of it. Augustus, more bloody than he, was the first; I mean, after Julius. The Three who intervened, worthy Depositaries of the Name and Power of Cæsar, were, like the last, the Curse, the Scandal, and the Executioners of human Kind.

But, besides the bloody Fate, regularly overtaking every one of his Family, who wore the Purple, the rest, and the unreigning Branches, were continual Objects of the Jealousy and Cruelty of Him that reigned, who was ever constantly cutting off all of the same Stock, who were conspicuous for Parts, or Person, or Wealth, or any other Advantages, personal or accidental; nay, often only for being of that Stock.

This therefore is the mighty Issue of the mighty Cæsar’s Ambition. To his Country he procured Bondage, and utter Ruin; to Himself, and his Race, a Series of Slaughters, till they had all finally perished, together with the Curses, and universal Hate, of human Kind. These were the Doings, this the Merit of the great Cæsar, one so extolled for his Conduct, for the Wariness of his Measures, and his great Success! He was, indeed, very Artful, as well as very Brave and Successful, in bringing certain Destruction upon Himself, his Country, and his Lineage. For, in short, this was the real Result of all his Policy, of all his Plots, and Eloquence, and Heroism. Was This to be Amiable, This to be Fortunate and Wise?

Is it not natural to ask, How could such a Character be admired? How such a Man be popular? Yet Cæsar was popular; He gained all his Power by his Popularity; he gained all his Popularity by acting the Patriot; and usurped Patriotism on purpose to usurp the Empire: Nor was this Proceeding peculiar to Cæsar: It was the constant Art and Armour of all preceding Parricides, and by it they covered and recommended themselves, always with too much Success, to the credulous Many. In truth, the Efforts, and Frauds, and Management of such Parricides, (for many such there were) make a great Part of the Roman History, from the Foundation of the Republic, to the last Period of Roman Liberty. Cæsar had Parts equal to any of them, though not superior to some of them, with greater Opportunities, and more Success. They had all pretended to be public Benefactors, warm Advocates for the People, zealous Patrons of Liberty. Their fair Professions, false Bounties, and boasted Patriotism, were echoed, with their Names, loudly amongst the Populace: Then followed their popular Direction and Sway, deceitful Speeches, inflammatory Invectives, pleasing and pernicious Laws, with all Attempts to improve popular Phrensy, and, by the Cry of Liberty, to establish Tyranny. Catiline followed the same Road, and perished in it: Cæsar got to the End of it, and perished afterwards. By the Cry and Assistance of the People, he baffled Pompey and the Senate: By an Army, procured for him by the People from the State, he enslaved the People, and usurped the State. He made them giddy with the Sound of Liberty; and, whilst they were under that Infatuation, snatched away the Substance. This had been ever found the safest Way of undermining Liberty; the surest, the most concealed, and most successful Way. Cæsar, that pretended Patriot, that real Parricide, thought it so, and found it so(a).

DISCOURSE III. Of the Resignation of SYLLA.

SECT. I. His Policy in Resigning; his Motives and Encouragement to resign.

THE Name of Sylla occurs so often in Sallust, his Usurpation is so frequently referred to, and his Abdication has been so long considered as a profound Mystery in Politics, that I shall here bestow some Thoughts upon it. His Resignation hath been reckoned a surprising Step, very hard to be explained. I cannot help differing from such as think it so, since I can account for it from obvious and probable Causes. But they who seek only for deep and abstruse Reasons, will always overlook or despise plain ones. It was surely the greatest, as well as the wisest of all the Actions of his Life, and had as much Sense as Boldness in it. Had Cæsar followed his Example, he too might have avoided a tragical End; as Sylla, had he not resigned, might have met with Cæsar’s Fate.

The People are naturally Forgiving, as well as naturally Violent; and the Restoring of public Liberty, was, to the Romans, who ardently loved it, such an Act of Benignity, as gained their Hearts in general. His assuming the Dictatorship admitted of an Excuse from the Struggle of Parties, as a Measure of Self-defence, necessary to secure him, and the Nobility, against the Violence of Marius, and his Associates, at the Head of the Commons. This Consideration served to justify, at least to palliate, many Acts of Cruelty and Power; and his Abdication passed, with the Public, for a Compensation for all. His Usurpation was then ascribed to Necessity; his Resignation appeared to flow from Benignity and popular Spirit.

If Sylla, therefore, resigned only in order to be quiet and safe, it fully answered his Ends. Or, if he was supposed to have done it from Greatness of Mind; such an Opinion was sufficient to procure him high Applause, as one animated by something more noble than Ambition, or, at least, governed by the best Ambition; such Ambition, as made him prefer the public Interest and Welfare, to all the Glare and Charms of absolute Power, and seek personal Glory from the general Good, the only just and genuine Glory! All other Glory is falsly so called, groveling, selfish, and contemptible. Does the debasing and enslaving of all Men, that One may swagger, and, by tyrannizing over all, hurt all, entitle that Man to any Share of Glory? No: Whoever introduces universal Infamy, is universally infamous. He may pretend to Glory, because none dare contradict him; but none will support that Pretence but such as dread him, and court him, or are misled by them that do so.

Besides, Sylla had Proofs, and Warnings, that his absolute Power, even his Dictatorship, did not render him absolutely secure, nor procure him absolute Submission. His Friend Pompey, and some other young Patricians, who were become popular by their Address, and gallant Actions, had gained such Credit at Rome, that they were become powerful enough to thwart and disappoint him upon very important Occasions, so as to carry popular Elections against him. For he did not, I believe he durst nor, carry even the dictatorial Power so far as to abolish annual Magistracies. Cæsar did not carry it so far: He only controuled them by his Influence.

Sylla judged well, in not provoking all Men, especially such Men who had Courage and Interest to make a terrible Party against him; Men who were already grown too strong for him, and Men who might have been soon able to have forced him to resign. A voluntary Resignation was far preferable, as it was more safe. Had they gone so far, as to have forced him to resign, they would, perhaps, have found it necessary to have gone farther, and to have taken away his Life, for the Security of their own. A voluntary Resignation neither prompted Him to meditate Vengeance against Them, nor Them to use Precautions against Vengeance from Him.

It is likewise reasonable to believe, that Pompey, and other great Men, glad to get rid of him, in order to share at least in that Power which he possessed intire, had either explicitly engaged to him for the future Security of his Person, or were understood by him to have been so engaged, from Reasons of State. By an Ordinance already made, all his Acts and Regulations, many of them very tyrannical and barbarous, but many of them conducing to public Peace and Order, and most of them in Favour of the Nobility, against the Power of the People, and their Tribunes, were declared Legal, and made the standing Laws of the Commonwealth: They were even preserved and obeyed, not only after his Resignation, but after his Death.

As he therefore well knew the Situation of Things, and the Interest and Views of the leading Men, his Resignation was not altogether the Effect of Magnanimity. All this will account for the Tranquillity of his Mind, and for his bold and unconcerned Behaviour, after he had resigned; for his walking securely in the Forum; for his Forwardness in meddling still with public Affairs; and, for his causing a Man to be put to Death, in his Presence, for railing at him, when he was no longer Dictator. So that, whatever he might declare in resigning his Power, he trusted not altogether to his Genius, and the Felicity of his Fortune.

SECT. II. What Measures, and Precautions, he had taken for his Security, after his Resignation.

SYLLA could not, in the full Possession of all his tremendous Power, defend himself against the Attempts of any single desperate Man: No Monarch can. What Security he wanted, was, against the Violence of the People, against public Prosecution, and being made accountable to the Republic, for what he had done against the Republic, especially against the popular Part of it. This Security he had procured to himself, from the Condition in which he left the Republic, the People depressed, the Patricians in full Sway, and his own Friends, at least such as from Policy would not see him hurt, at the Head of Affairs.

He had got rid of all his most formidable Enemies; first, by conquering them, then by destroying them; nor had he spared any Measure or Manner of Cruelty; insomuch that, by the Sword, Proscription, Banishment, and Confiscation, he doomed a Hundred Thousand Roman Citizens to perish, with near a Hundred Senators, and almost Three Thousand Roman Knights. Such Enemies as remained alive, especially all the Children of the Proscribed, continued disabled, by the Law, from being restored; a Law, which continued in Force after Sylla was dead, for a Reason which will be found in these Discourses.

It must be owned, that many of his Regulations were wholsome and necessary: Many of them, too, contributed largely to the Safety of his Retreat; as I shall here shew in several Instances.

He had bestowed all the best Colonies, and great municipal Towns in Italy, which had taken Part against him, upon his faithful legionary Soldiers. So that in them he had a great and experienced Army, which cost him nothing, ready, at all Events, to espouse his Quarrel, and fight for him.

At Rome he had complimented Ten Thousand Slaves (such as had belonged to those whom he had proscribed) with their Freedom, on Pretence of supplying the City with a Body of Freemen, after so many destroyed in the Civil War. Here was a Band of Men, all his own Creatures, thoroughly engaged to him, distinguished by him with the Title of Cornelians, after his own Name, and answering the Purpose of a Body-guard to him at Rome.

As he had seized immense Wealth, from all whom he disliked or suspected, he distributed it so as to make by it many powerful Friends; and, by preferring his own Creatures to all Places of Power and Trust in the Provinces, he had made himself strong there.

He had secured himself from all popular Attacks, by retrenching, and, indeed, sinking the Power of the popular Tribunes, those formidable Officers, who had so lately and so long awed the Senate, swayed the People, and acted as Masters in Rome. By an Ordinance of his, none but Patricians could be Tribunes of the People; nor could they, after that Office, rise to any of the great Offices of the State, that of Consul, or of Prætor. They were likewise restrained from inflaming and haranguing the People, and from arguing before them, as usual, for, or against, any new Law. He had, moreover, taken the Administration of the Tribunals, that is, the Execution of all legal Justice, both Civil and Criminal, out of the Hands of the Roman Knights, and committed it wholly to the Patricians: A Change of high Moment to Him, as well as to Them!

He had done many great and popular Actions, highly to the Honour and Advantage of Rome; new conquered Greece, recovered Macedonia, subdued Thrace, vanquished Mithridates, that terrible and inveterate Enemy to the Romans, and rescued, from his Tyranny, the Cities and Coast of Asia.

He was brave, prosperous, handsome, and eloquent; all popular Qualities! He brought great Wealth, as well as great Honour, to Rome. His Triumph was splendid and dazling, over foreign Enemies only, not over any of the Roman Chiefs, his Rivals, nor for his Success in the Civil War; and he always modestly ascribed all his prosperous Events to good Fortune.

He entertained the People with magnificent Shews and Diversions, made them grand Feasts, gave them great Largesses; all mighty Engines of Popularity! His last great popular Action was his Resignation, the most popular of all; indeed, the most noble and virtuous: For which he was highly celebrated at Rome to the End of his Life, and his Death followed with the highest popular Honours.

DISCOURSE IV. Of the Pride and ill Conduct of the Patricians, after the Expulsion of Kings.

SECT. I. The Roman Commonwealth unequally balanced. The Kingly Power, upon the Expulsion of Tarquin, engrossed, and imperiously exercised, by the Patricians. The ill Policy of this to Themselves, the Injustice of it to the Plebeians.

AS the principal Dissentions and Revolutions in the Roman State, are imputed, by Sallust, to the Abuse of Power, either by the Patricians, or Plebeians, after they had reciprocally gained it, or to their mutual Struggle to gain it; I shall here explain the Mistakes of both, and first, those of the Patricians.

In every Government, where constant Dissentions reign, there must be a great Defect, either in the Institution of it, or in the Administration. Rome, under Kings, seems, to me, to have been better secured against intestine Discord, than it was after their Expulsion; had the last Tarquin, like his best Predecessors, observed the original Laws of the State. As they were trusted with the Administration of the State; as they were chief Commanders in War, and supreme Civil Magistrates, and had the Execution of Justice and Law; they had Power sufficient to check and oblige the Populace; to distinguish, as well as to awe, the Nobility; and to secure their own Station and Dignity. But all this Power and Prerogative not satisfying the mad Ambition of Tarquin, he scorned to possess the Power of Protecting, though this be the only End, and therefore the only Glory, of Reigning, unless he had also the Power of Enthralling and Destroying.

He therefore set up a Model of Government, as frightful as it was new, to that free and brave Nation; and, without consulting People or Senate, Two of the Three Estates, He, who was only the Third, would needs rule alone, according to his Lust. As he had usurped the Throne by the most barbarous Parricide, he tried to maintain himself in it by the most arrogant Tyranny. Hence, not only He, but the Throne itself, became odious and unpopular, and both were degraded and abolished together for ever(a).

But, though the King was gone, the legal Part of Kingship remained; and the two Consuls could do whatever the Kings could do. They called together the Senate, and presided in it; as they did in the Assemblies of the People, whom they likewise summoned: They bore the chief Magistracy in Rome, and chief Command in War. These, which were the principal Prerogatives and Emoluments of Royalty, became the Portion of these Two Magistrates, and were, consequently, confined to the Senate, from whence they were chosen. It is true, the People chose them Annually, (as they had formerly the Kings for Life) but still the Choice was restrained to Senators.

This Accession of Dignity, and therefore of Pride, to the Nobility, awed now by no Superior, and possessed of all the Authority and Trappings of the State, had its usual Effect upon the Minds of Men, naturally frail and vain, and inspired them with high Conceit of their Blood and Character, both which they accounted Sacred, as they did all beneath them Profane; though most of them sprang originally from the lowest Plebeians, such as they now despised; and they owed their Supremacy at Rome, to nothing but the Tyranny and Expulsion of Tarquin. Such is the Insolence of Man, ever fond of being thought more than Human, and of making himself, what God never made him, of a Texture more Divine than the rest of his Species. I wish that Heathens only were thus apt to exalt themselves, and belye the Godhead, by boldly pretending to a Share of it; a sure Symptom of Imposture, as well as of Insolence, when Men make the worst Qualities cleaving to Humanity, Marks of their Divinity; namely, their Pride, and Passion; their Frauds, and selfish Designs.

Such Use has been made, in all Ages, of the Name of Heaven, by Men who meant to engross and controul this Earth. Thus Emperors and Popes came to be deified; and thus, numberless Fanatics of all Sorts, some Pagan, others falsly called Christian, have roundly claimed an Alliance with the Deity, or Commissions and Immunities from Him; for no other apparent Reason, than that they differed from the rest of the World in Craziness and Conceit, or in the Quaintness of their Titles and Apparel, or in some senseless Forms and Grimaces, pompously practised to promote Superstition, and dignify Folly and Fraud; as if the confident Pretence of One, or a Few, to celestial Attributes and Authority, were sufficient to enforce the Belief and Obedience of all the rest; or, as if certain religious Terms and Fashions, invented by Men, inferred any real Warrant or Power from God to some Men, to guide and govern other Men endowed with equal Faculties, and equally capable of undergoing, or of performing, the same Solemnity; a Task which required no other Ability than that of Voice and Motion, and, perhaps, a demure Look.

Yet this Solemnity, this Exercise of the Auspices, hitherto confined to the Patricians, exclusive of the Plebeians, was one of the best Arguments for excluding the Plebeians from it for ever, and consequently from every considerable Office and Dignity in the State; since, without the Solemnity of the Auspices, no considerable Office could be exercised. This Reasoning in the Nobility was now very strange and unjust, upon several Accounts. For though, during the Monarchy, they enjoyed this exclusive Privilege, which was Part of the Constitution settled under Romulus; yet, when the Monarchy was abolished, the People, by whose Assistance the Change was effected, were intitled to new Advantages and Prerogatives, as well as the Patricians, who, having suffered more than the People in the Tyranny of Tarquin, had not only revenged and secured themselves by his Expulsion, which had been therefore concerted by them, but had gained from it all the Power and Pre-eminence of Royalty intirely to their own Body, as before I have observed. They were therefore become, by the Conjunction of Monarchy and Nobility, more than twice as great and strong as they had Both been whilst they were separate; as there could be no longer any Jarrings or Jealousy between the Claims and Prerogatives of King and Patricians, since the Patricians possessed both.

So that the People, instead of any Profit or Relief (unless such as was altogether precarious and momentary) from this Revolution, which they had readily helped to accomplish, were really in a worse State than before, by being subservient to a higher and more awful Power. Nor could Things last long upon this strange Foot of Inequality in a free City. How, or why, was Tarquin to be kept out by the People, if the People were still to be greater Slaves than they had been under Tarquin? Yet the Nobility had no other Way to keep up the Spirit of the People against Tarquin, and all Kings, but by the constant Cry of popular Liberty, and of the Tyranny of Kingship. Nor had the People much Cause to complain of Contempt, or hard Usage, whilst Tarquin was making constant Efforts to be restored, and forming continual Confederacies, amongst the neighbouring States, against Rome. But when all his Attempts, and those of his Allies, were defeated, as well by the Bravery of the Roman Soldiers, (that is to say, the Roman People) as by the good Conduct of the Patricians, and he and his Family were extinct, the Patricians began to shew, as all Men, and Bodies of Men, almost always do, that Power uncontrouled and enormous will, first or last, be enormously exerted(a).

The People, whom the Patricians, out of Fear of Tarquin, had persuaded, that they were never free before, and had taught to love Liberty in Hatred to Tyranny, could not but be provoked, to find such, as seemed, hitherto, no more than their Counsellors and Coadjutors in the common Cause, acting, on a sudden, as their Masters; Men, who had lately been the great Orators and Champions for Liberty, setting up and practising Tyranny. The People, who had done more than They, in Defence of public Freedom, thought they had as good a Right to be free Themselves. What was this boasted Revolution to Them, if they derived no Benefit from it? It was exceeding hard, and even barbarous, that They, who exerted so much Bravery, and ventured their Lives, to accomplish it, should still be in a worse Condition than before; possessed of less Liberty; exposed to more Severity and Insults; nay, enthralled by those whom they had rescued from Thraldom. It was, indeed, very ungrateful in the Patricians towards their Deliverers: For what could They have done without the People? It was also unjust; because they imposed upon the People, what they would not suffer the King to impose upon Themselves: And was ill-judged; since how could they expect, that the People, who held in their Hands the Elements of Power; who created all Magistrates, and gave Sanction to all Laws; who were born to Liberty; and, having now redeemed it, expected to enjoy more than ever; who were armed, and brave; all bred Soldiers; and daily fighting for their Rights, Possessions, and Independency; would, all at once, bear Servitude, from such as they had just saved from Servitude; and be oppressed by those who were bound to protect them(a)?

They bore it, in truth, for some time, with great Tameness: But it was ill Policy to think, that what they suffered for awhile, they would suffer always; and submit to any Degree of Hardship, because they had submitted to many Degrees. Sometimes the Transition is hardly perceiveable, from abused Patience to violent Resentment. It was manifest, from the Change of Behaviour in the Patricians, upon the Death of Tarquin, that their late popular Conduct had been only the Acting of a Part; and their Cry for public Liberty, no more than Cant and Grimace; whilst they were securing and engrossing to Themselves the same Domination which He had lost; but which, whilst He lived, They durst not avow.

When, therefore, they had Him no longer to fear, they no longer used the People with the same Respect and Tenderness; but, as if every Patrician had been a Tarquin, began to treat the People like Slaves, and subject them to Whips and Chains, according to the Extremity of the Law; a Law utterly inconsistent with the Genius of a free and brave People, and fit to have been abolished with the Tyranny of Tarquin, had Tyranny been abolished with the Tyrant. But the reasonable Claims and Redress of the People squared not with the domineering Views of the Nobles; who, bearing all the Names, Ensigns, and Offices of Power, treated the Plebeians as their Vassals, born to bear and obey.

SECT. II. The Plebeians, long oppressed, obtain a Remedy by Force; but a Remedy dangerous to the State.

THE Plebeians, who would have still submitted to the Patricians as their Magistrates, would not tamely suffer them as Oppressors: And, since they had such Heads, who thus unnaturally used and tortured the Limbs, they were advised and resolved to find other Heads, or, which is the same thing, Protectors, who were more nearly interested in the Preservation of the Body.

This will ever be the Case and Event, whilst Men are Men; all who are oppressed, will, where they can, relieve themselves from Oppression. If Magistrates will not be content with their proper Character, the Office of Protecting, but stretch that Office into Rigour and Violence, they who feel it will seek a Remedy, and, perhaps, find and apply one stronger than the Disease; and so cure a great Evil by one as great or greater. This is the natural Progress and Consequence of popular Reformations. The People seldom think of any, till they are quite inflamed; and then they are not fit to make any. The Roman Populace, with all the Merit that any People could have, had suffered as much as People could suffer, before they retired, and held a common Consultation, how to redress themselves. Every body knows the Story of their proposing and carrying the Establishment of Magistrates of their own, Tribunes of the People; Officers who avenged them, indeed, amply upon the Patricians, but who were likewise almost continually misleading them, violating the public Tranquillity; and who, though they helped to aggrandize, yet ruined the State.

This Reward had the Nobles, for their extravagant Pride and Contempt; for their engrossing all Power to Themselves, and exerting it without Bounds over the Commons. It was a strange Error in the Nobles, to think, that the Roman People, who made Laws and Magistrates, would not only remain without any Share in the Execution of the Laws, and any Lot or Advantage in their Choice of Magistrates, but even tamely bear the violent Abuse of Law, from Magistrates of their own Creation. Was it likely, that They, who had the legislative Power, would be content with an intire Exclusion from the Administration; and be Slaves to Officers created by Themselves? Upon the Expulsion of Tarquin, as it was a new State, new and proper Regulations should have been made; and an equal Administration settled, equally interesting to the whole Community; with a Set of Magistrates alike concerned for Nobles and Commons, without exclusive Views and Qualifications, and Names and Offices of Strife; such as the Tribunes of the People proved, extraordinary Officers, vested with the whole Authority of the People, and set up professedly to oppose and controul the whole Administration; which, at last, by this Authority, at first intirely negative, they usurped and swayed.

From hence it appears, that Governments are seldom equally balanced and perfect: They are, for the most part, Patch-work, seldom formed at once upon an honest, universal, and rational Scheme; but, generally, so established, at first, as to answer the ambitious Views of One, or a Few; or altered afterwards, according to present Necessity, and by extemporary Remedies; such as rather serve to give momentary Ease, and remove some glaring Symptoms, than to eradicate the Disease. The People, with whom instant Relief generally passes for a complete Cure, are apt to trust implicitly to the Skill and Management of the State-Physicians of the Time; whilst these Physicians contrive how to make the best Advantage of their Patients, and the Distemper; and, by flattering Medicines, and magnificent Promises, get the intire Direction of their Persons and Purses.

This may, indeed, at last, provoke the People to look out for other Doctors, and other Remedies, when they find themselves still sick and disordered, and, perhaps, worse, rather than better. But, as, where-ever they turn and apply, they must trust Somebody, they are not sure of being better used, or more effectually cured, by their new Physicians and Patrons; who, in order to serve them, must be trusted by them; and will thence have an Opportunity (which they seldom will neglect) of serving themselves at the Expence of such as employ them.

For the People are, generally, gained by the same Snares and Professions; and let them be ever so angry at one Man, or Party of Men, for abusing the Trust which they had reposed in them without Reserve, they are still ready to commit the same Trust, with equal Blindness, to their new Favourites; who, perhaps, have acquired their Confidence by deceiving them, and, in Requital for having acquired it, are determined to deceive them still more.

Thus the Roman People, finding themselves oppressed by Tarquin, heartily concurred with the Patricians in dethroning and expelling him, without taking any due Precautions against Oppression from the Patricians, in whose Hands the Kingly Power still continued. The poor Populace saw no farther than the Name, and the Man; and, both these being gone, they perceived nothing to hurt them, and, therefore, nothing to fear. But, as Power and Ambition seldom sleep, what they perceived not at first, they amply felt afterwards. The Patricians, delivered from the Tyranny of Tarquin, forgetting how insupportable they had found Tyranny to Themselves, as also, by whose Aid and Courage they had shaken it off, began to exercise it over the Plebeians without Mercy or Bounds. The Plebeians, finding, at length, that they had only changed One severe Master for Many, roused by ill Usage, and listening to their own Demagogues, sought Redress and Protection from the Creation of Plebeian Officers; who, afterwards, abused their Power, and, consequently, The People, as much as ever the Patricians had done; as will fully appear, when I come to discourse of the popular Tribunes.

This, however, excuses not the Patricians; who might easily have foreseen what their rigorous Rule would produce, amongst a People so magnanimous and determined. Their bearing it, in many Instances, and for some Time, proved not, that they would always bear it; but only, that they were not yet desperate. They, indeed, wanted but One Spark to set so many inflamed Spirits on a Blaze: This Spark was administered by Volero; and one more effectual could not have happened.

It might have seemed reasonable, that the Roman Soldiers, that is to say, the Commonalty of Rome, who were daily venturing their Lives against the public Enemies, and bringing home continual Victories, should have shared in the good Fortune of the State; and that they, who were the Authors and Instruments of public Safety, and public Honour, should have enjoyed Ease and Esteem at home. But they found a very different Lot and Recompence; and, in Return for Triumphs and Laurels, won by them for the Commonwealth, and as a Reward for Inlargement of her Territory, and Revenue, and Strength, they were treated with Whips and Gaols, and found themselves Slaves, for having, by the Price of their Blood, preserved their Country free. Such just Cause had they to ask as they did, ‘Were we in the Power of our Enemies, whom we have so often vanquished, could They treat us worse than these our Fellow-Citizens treat us?’

In the midst of such bitter Usage on one Side, and of such grievous Complaints on the other, the sad Sight, and mournful Tale, of a miserable Man, in the public Place, whither he had just broke from Chains and Stripes, drew the whole Body of Plebeians thither, and filled up the Measure of their Resentment and Horror: He was an antient Man, covered with all the Marks of Wretchedness, and barbarous Usage; his Apparel old and nasty; his Body emaciated; his Countenance wan and meagre; his Eyes hollow; his Hair matted and staring; all together a Figure frightful and shocking. The doleful Impressions which his Appearance made, were greatly heightened by what he said; ‘That, whilst he was serving his Country, in the War against the Sabines, his Grounds were utterly wasted and ruined by the Enemy, and produced him no Harvest; his Farm itself was burned; all his Goods plundered; and his Stock of Cattle carried off: Besides, having the public Assessment to pay, he had been forced to borrow: To discharge this Debt, increased by monstrous Usury, he had parted, first, with the Estate left him by his Ancestors; then, with what other Effects he had; at last, to complete his Calamity, had surrendered up his Body: That his Creditors, not satisfied with holding him in Servitude, had doomed him to Irons and Torture.’ Next, he made his Back bare, and there shew’d the recent Gashes and Impressions of the Lash; whilst upon his Breast there appeared large Sears of Wounds from the public Enemy, all thus honourable received before. Add, that he was well known by some of the Spectators; who said, that they had seen him bravely engaged as an Officer at the Head of his Men, and distinguished for his noble Exploits in War. Such were the Merits, such the Sufferings, of Volero.

What needed there more to blow up general Discontent into a Flame? Nothing was seen in Rome, but Dissention and Uproar. Yet the Plebeians were quieted, for the present, by some reasonable Condescensions, which were very little observed, and by fair Promises, never made good: So that the old Grievances, returning or continuing, revived the old Complaints and Disaffection; and the People, who would have been satisfied with very moderate Concessions honestly fulfilled, quite weary of trusting to Words, and utterly provoked by false Dealings, insisted upon, and obtained the Creation of such a new Power in the Commonwealth, as, by altering the old Balance, formed as it were another and a new Commonwealth, and terribly diminished the Authority of the Patricians, as well as mortified their Pride. It was but the Course of Things: They who domineer when they are uppermost, cannot be surprised, nor ought to complain, when they are undermost, to find Others domineer over Them. Every Man has a like Right to injure another; that is, no Right at all: But whoever begins the Exercise of Injustice, has the least Right or Pretence to cry out when he suffers it.

DISCOURSE V. Of the Institution and Power of the popular Tribunes.

SECT. I. The blind Confidence of the People in the Tribunes: The Ambition, and violent Attempts, of those popular Leaders.

THE Roman People, who had hitherto suffered too much, seem now to have gained too much. For, though these their Tribunes were vested with a negative Power only, yet, as they exerted and applied it, (as it was easy to foresee they would) it was the Exercise of Government over the Government; since, whenever they pleased, they could (at least they did) by one short Word, suspend and interdict the whole Administration; command the great Council of the State to stand still, and not only oppose, but imprison the supreme Magistrates, alter their Titles and Number, dictate to the Grandees of the State, and even force the greatest of them, the Dictator himself, to abdicate his Charge. It was, indeed, owing to Accident, to the Stratagems, Reputation, and Spirit of the Nobility; to their superior Address, and Temporizing, and to the inveterate Reverence of the People towards the Patricians, that these popular Tribunes did not very early quite abolish the old Government, and set up another. At best, there was thenceforward but little, or short-lived Concord at Rome; much Strife, or the Seeds of Strife, continually subsisting: And as the Nobles, by wronging and oppressing the Plebeians, had driven them to Extremities, and unwisely put them upon trying their own Strength; the Plebeians made the Patricians soon feel that Strength, and with it that Resentment, which they had too long despised. It is the Consequence of Justice long delayed, and of Misery forced to seek its own Relief. They who are ill used, and denied just Relief, when thus driven upon finding it themselves, may likewise find the Means of returning it, perhaps twofold; nor is it to be wondered at, if they make that Return; neither are they to be blamed for it, any further than when, in doing it, they hurt Themselves in order to mortify Others, and enable the Instruments of their Vengeance to become the Instruments of their Oppression.

It is very true, that these many Feuds, and the continual Efforts of the popular Tribunes, occasioned many Wars and Conquests, and thence contributed to the Grandeur of Rome, as well as to furnish out many able Commanders and Statesmen. But this was an accidental Advantage, arising out of a real Evil; such as might have produced, and was often near producing, and did at last produce, utter Ruin and Dissolution. For a long while, neither Side could quite subdue the other, though engaged in a continual Struggle: And as soon as one came to be enslaved, it was by such means as enslaved the other too. Sylla, at the Head of the Nobility, mastered the Plebeian Party with Marius at their Head, but was also full as much Master of the Nobles. Cæsar, the Idol of the Commonalty, subdued Pompey and the Senate, but equally subdued the Commonalty too.

Parties are too angry, and consequently too blind, (for surely nothing is more blinding than Rage) to see any Designs in their Leader to their Disadvantage. It is only public Spirit that prompts him, and their Interest alone is the Measure of his Conduct. All his Professions are sincere, all his Harangues convincing, his Steps disinterested, and his Lyes and Flatteries so many Marks of Love and Truth. Thus they dance after their Demagogues to Bondage, and all the while cry Liberty, repeating it after Him, till He has carried Them (perhaps for ever) out of the Reach of Liberty, and made use of the Sound utterly to destroy the Substance. Spurius Melius, Marcus Manlius Capitolinus, and Spurius Cassius, all driving at Tyranny by the Cry of Liberty, were all popular, all beloved, and believed. Catiline had Liberty, Roman Liberty, in his Mouth, whilst his traiterous Heart was panting after Tyranny and Massacre, and the utter Extinction of the Roman State. And Cæsar, out of Fear and Tenderness for public Liberty, was zealous to save the bloody Accomplices of Catiline, even after the fullest Conviction, such as even the Arts and Eloquence of Cæsar could not baffle nor evade. That Catiline was popular, Sallust shews; and how popular Cæsar was, the World knows, as the Roman Commonwealth did, to her Sorrow and Subversion.

The Tribunes applied themselves early to the same Arts, with great Popularity and Success, cheating the People almost continually with deceitful Baits, inflaming them by seditious Harangues, and keeping them ever idle and turbulent. In truth, considering the ambitious Attempts and Views of the Tribunes, with their great Boldness in misleading and inflaming the People, and the great Credulity of the People, and their Proneness to be misled and inflamed; I cannot see, but that some extraordinary Revolution must have soon ensued, if, out of their own Number, a Remedy had not been found for their Fury, by gaining One, which it was not always hard to do out of Ten, to oppose, and consequently frustrate, the extravagant Projects of the rest. Though this Remedy was once afterwards taken away, in an extraordinary and violent Manner, by one of the famous Gracchi.

SECT. II. Reflections on the plausible Professions, and dangerous Conduct, of the Gracchi. Public Reformations, how cautiously to be attempted.

HAD these two illustrious Brothers, the Gracchi, proceeded much further, however virtuous at first their Motives may have been, and however crying the Injustice of the Nobles, I think the State must have been turned upside down, and some sudden Tyranny must have been the Lot of Rome; or, which is generally introductive of Tyranny, a cruel Civil War, with Invasion, and probably Conquest, from so many warlike Nations, exasperated against the Romans, for having been vanquished by them. It is certain, that the Spirits of Men, on both Sides, were furiously heated, and disposed to think no Measures, which promised Success or Assistance, unjust, or too sanguinary. When Things go this Length, as both Parties will always like their own Cause best, they will judge all Means lawful to support it; and, as Fury and Madness will be called Zeal, Calumny and Lyes will obtain Credit; Violence and Outrage will pass for Self-defence; Bloodshed and Massacre will bear the Title of Punishment; and all Wickedness and Barbarity will be done under the softest Names, and for the best Ends: As I have more fully explained in my Discourse upon Civil Wars.

Suppose the two Gracchi, whose Virtues and great Talents I honour, whose tragical Ends I lament and abhor, but whose Conduct seems to me to have had a very terrible Aspect and Tendency; I say, suppose them to have had the best Intentions upon Earth; it is most certain, that their Measures were such, as rendered each of them successively absolute Master of the Republic; a Situation, than which nothing can be more terrible to a free State; for it was then at his Mercy, whether it should be a State, or no; a plain Proof, that it was not free! Besides, they gave such alarming Proofs of their violent Spirit, as well as of their tremendous Power, that they seemed as little Masters of their own Temper and Ambition, as the State was of its own Authority. It is a dreadful Medicine, which is as likely to kill as to cure; and if there be certain Disorders incident to the Body, which cannot be extirpated without the Extirpation of Life, and are therefore to be endured; is it not more eligible to suffer certain Diseases in the Body Politic, even certain great Diseases, than attempt to remove them, by an Expedient much more likely to destroy than to reform it; or which, if it reform one Abuse, yet tends to introduce the most horrible of all Evils and Abuses, even Tyranny and Servitude?

Now, what is it that introduces this greatest of all Corruptions and Calamities, but the Power of one Man to do what he pleases? And was not Tiberius Gracchus that Man? Was not his Brother Caius, after him, such another Man? Their Professions were plausible; and the open and daring Abuses of the Nobility furnished them with fair Pretences. But who knows their Intentions, the Intentions of two very able and very powerful Men, animated by Vengeance, as well as by Justice, and aiming avowedly at the Abasement, probably at the Destruction, of the Senate, as well as at the Relief of the poor Plebeians? Were they, or could they be, Masters of their own Intentions? As they could not foresee all Difficulties, neither could they foresee what Expedients they must be forced upon to overcome them. For they seemed determined to carry their Point at all Adventures, and therefore to try every Means proper for such a Purpose.

Now, suppose nothing less than the Power of Sylla, and of Cæsar, would have been found sufficient, namely, Power absolute and continued, that is, downright Tyranny; would they have submitted, and dropped their Point? I cannot see, from their obstinate Behaviour, and violent Measures, that they would. Or, if they had openly assumed the supreme Power in Form, as they did in Effect, they would have said, (and perhaps then might have meant what they said) that there was no other Way of humbling the Nobles, and restoring the Commons; and that when they had accomplished this End, they would lay it down: And yet would have found afterwards, full as good Reasons for prolonging it, even for their own Ambition and Security, and that of their new Establishments; that is to say, for ever. It was the Plea and Practice of Cromwell. He made Reformation a Stale for Usurpation: When he had mounted the Throne, he found it unsafe, as well as unpleasant, to descend; never pretended to hold his Power always, but only till a Godly thorough Settlement was made; how soon, or how late, He only was to judge; and in the mean time, retained his sovereign Authority to keep the Peace, and carry on the Work of Reformation.

I dread all such Reformations, as are only to be effected by the arbitrary Will, and unaccountable Humour, of one Man, by a Power too nor delegated, but taken. I would rather see many Abuses subsist, than a Cromwell, a Pisistratus, a Cæsar, or (it you will) a Gracchus, assuming lawless Power to redress them. Indeed, in all Revolutions, the most necessary and best, there are Evils and Inconveniencies more than enow(a).

The Provocation given by the Nobles was, indeed, very great, and their Oppressions shocking; as They were, in the Face and Defiance of all Law and Compassion, possessed of all that Portion of the conquered Lands, which was appointed for the Subsistence of the poor Plebeians, who had carned them with their Swords. The Usurpers were rioting in overgrown Wealth, Pomp, and Luxury; whilst the poor Romans, who daily exposed their Lives for the Safety and Aggrandizing of these their Oppressors, by being deprived of their Property, wanted Bread. There could therefore be nothing more just, nothing more equitable, or more conducing to mutual Peace amongst Fellow-Citizens, and to the Equality so necessary in a free State, where the overgrown Riches, and consequently Power, of One, or a Few, tend directly to the Enthralling of All, than the Ascertaining the Agrarian Law, and Restoring the usurped Lands to the injured and necessitous Proprietors.

But the Evil was inveterate, and far spread; all the great Men in the Commonwealth were engaged in Pride and Interest to support it, and to oppose every Remedy: Since whatever removed That, must reduce Them; and terribly shorten their Property, their Figure, and Authority.

Lælius, that accomplished Roman, the celebrated Friend of the great Scipio Africanus, as virtuous and public-spirited a Man as either of the Gracchi, and, I think, more wise, was sensibly touched with the same Grievances, which so much piqued Them, and, whilst he was Tribune of the People, conceived a Design to cure them; but gave it over, upon a View of its extreme Difficulty and Peril. Had he seen any Prospect of succeeding, by Methods that were not desperate, and threatening to the Commonwealth, it is likely he would have pursued his Intention. Surely the Temptation was great to an honest and humane Mind, to make the Rich and Wanton restore the Bread, which they had robbed from the Poor and Innocent, to cut up daring Oppression by the Roots, to restore the baffled Laws to their former Force, and to establish a just and equal Administration in a free Commonwealth. But he would not attempt what he foresaw no Man could accomplish, without making himself Master of all the rest; and particular Acts of Injustice, perhaps, seemed to him more tolerable than the Tyranny, that is, the Power, of One over All. The Gracchi actually assumed and exercised that Power, which, had not They been destroyed, would, in all Likelihood, have destroyed the Republic. Machiavel observes, that whenever the People are brought to admire and extol a Man, only because he has Power to punish their Enemies; if he prove but selfish and able, their Liberty is lost, and he may usurp the supreme Power when he pleases. For, by the Assistance of the People, he may master the Nobility; and, when the Nobility are depressed, it will not be difficult to him to enslave the People; who will then have no Resource of Succour or Support.

The Gracchi breathed the true Spirit of the Tribunitial Power, ever turbulent and aspiring, ever producing popular Tyrants. It was a Power which seemed very small at first, since they who had it appeared lower than the lowest Magistrates, and were, indeed, without any Mark or Name of Magistracy, without Jurisdiction over their Fellow-Citizens, and without any Tribunal, or particular Habit, or the Power of calling Assemblies. They were dressed like common Men, sat without the Senate, attended by one Serjeant; and their sole Business and Authority was, to observe, that nothing passed there contrary to the Interest of the Plebeians. So that their whole Power was Negative, and comprised in one short Word, I forbid; a Word capable of being terribly extended; as, indeed, it soon, and always was.

SECT. III. The boundless Power assumed by the Tribunes: With what Boldness and Iniquity they exercise it. The People still their Dupes.

THE Power of the Tribunes grew so enormous, that, under that Title, the Emperors, afterwards, held and maintained their Usurpation, which they chose to call by the Name of the Tribunitial Power, as the greatest Power known to the free State, and moreover familiar, and even acceptable, to the People. This was one of the Arts of Augustus, and practised, by all his Successors, down to Constantine. The Title of King, and that of Dictator, were odious: That therefore of the Tribuneship, comprehending full as much Power, was adjudged more safe; besides that, it was declared, from the Beginning; sacred and inviolable. This shews to what a Height and Immensity this Office must have grown, when Princes, usurping and arbitrary Princes, entertained so high a Conceit of it, and esteemed it sufficient to denote and support their lawless Power.

The Tribunes began early to manifest what copious Authority they meant to draw from their short Commission. They assembled the People, harangued, governed, and inflamed them; commanded the Senate to meet, controuled, interrupted, and insulted it; arraigned the highest Patricians, and ordered the Consuls (the supreme Magistrates of the State) into Custody. All this oppressive, and indeed destructive Power, they found in an Office instituted only to prevent Oppression. They would mend the Government by Misrule, protect the Plebeians by oppressing the Nobility, and lead the People by misguiding and oppressing them(a). Their greatest Credit consisted in fomenting continual Misunderstanding between the People and Senate; and, as the People would scarce ever receive Information but from their Tribunes; the Tribunes seldom gave them any Information that was true, and thus became their Favourites for deceiving them. A Case by no means new in the World, nor likely to grow old.

They seemed to think themselves created to crush and persecute the Patricians, whom they were only to check and balance; and to alarm and deceive the Commons, whose great Interest it was to be quiet and free. The Senate, the great Council, and one of the two Limbs of the State, was to be lopped off, or laid aside, or rendered intirely useless, and the State itself to be disabled and mutilated, and consequently the Constitution changed, to make Way, not for a popular Government, but for the furious and unnatural Sway of a few Demagogues, naturally and necessarily ending in the Tyranny of One. The unrepresented Multitude never can govern; and a few Individuals, representing and governing the Multitude, generally govern for Themselves, against the Interest of the Whole, and cannot hold long; but must either be all removed, or will soon remove each other, and leave the Whole in the Hands of One; and then the Multitude, who at first were Principals, and gave all the Power, will be Slaves to the Power of One.

Popular Sovereignty (I mean the Populace not duly represented) is popular Licentiousness, which is destructive of regular Liberty; and tends directly to what it seems, at least sounds, least like, the lawless Sovereignty of a single Man. So that he, who, with this View, takes off all Bonds and Restraints from the People, will soon have an Opportunity to bring them under the most severe and strongest of all, even the Bonds of Servitude. Anarchy can never last long any-where, and is always more likely to end in the Government of Will than that of Laws. During such a State, the People are too mad to be well advised, and are therefore fit to be mastered. Though the Many have no Art, some Few amongst them may have a great deal; and amongst these Few, One may have more Cunning, or more Success, than the Rest. Now, as Anarchy generally ends in Tyranny, great Licentiousness produces Anarchy.

How could popular Tranquillity, and consequently civil Liberty, which delights in Quiet, be secured at Rome where these popular Leaders were, for their own Ends and Importance, continually transporting and affrighting the People? Soon after their Creation, two of them, Brutus and Sicinius, took Occasion from a public Calamity, (a proper Conjuncture for raising popular Tumults) to publish a mischievous Lye, ‘That the Patricians, by keeping their Granaries full, had caused the Dearth, and consequently the Famine, that prevailed, as it furnished them with an Opportunity of selling Corn at an exorbitant Price.’ For this, they represented the Patricians as Extortioners, and hard-hearted Tyrants, who thus aimed at swallowing up what small Portions yet remained of Land and Substance to the poor Plebeians, or at starving all the Plebeians in general. For this Famine there was an obvious Cause, as the Tribunes well knew, even the wilful Idleness and Neglect of the People themselves, who, when they retired from Rome with an Intention to settle elsewhere, had left their Fields uncultivated, and occasioned their own want of Bread. But the Tribunes were sensible, that any Falshood, however gross, would pass with the Multitude, who were starving and credulous. These Sons of Sedition traduced and decried the Government with one only View, even that they themselves might come to be Governors.

Indeed, these Tribunes carried most of their Points by downright Impudence, and by Lyes, confidently spread to terrify the People, and incense them against the Senate. The Tribune Volscius procured Cæso, Son of the famous Quintus Cincinnatus, that brave old Captain, and frequent Deliverer of his Country, to be condemned for a Fact which he never committed; as was afterwards fully proved, when the vile Falsifier was punished with perpetual Exile for having forged it. This lying Accuser charged Cæso, before the People, with having killed a Brother of his. For this the credulous People, deceived and exasperated by their Tribune, doomed Cæso to Banishment, and a Fine; and to pay this Fine, the venerable old Patriot, so often Consul and Dictator, sold the best Part of his Estate, and was forced to retire to a poor Hovel beyond the Tiber, and there cultivate, with his own Hands, Five Acres of Ground for his Subsistence.

When the Tribunes found, that the blind Croud swallowed greedily every Lye against the Senate, they contrived a Plot to destroy the greatest Part of that venerable Body at once, by accusing them of a sham Conspiracy to destroy a great Part of the People. This pretended Plot of the Senate against the People, and their Magistrates the Tribunes, was carefully imparted to the Populace, who believed it all, though it was all a most mischievous Fiction. Nay, the Tribunes had the Assurance to repair to the Senate, and, in a formal and pathetic Speech, to represent it to the Fathers. But both in the Senate, and before an Assembly of the People, the pretended Conspiracy was finely and successfully exposed, and the Absurdity and Improbability of it so fully demonstrated, that it turned highly to the Disgrace of the Framers. But, though all People of Sense and Condition were abundantly convinced, the Rabble, ever stupid and deluded, persisted in believing it, without once suspecting it to be, what it really was, a shocking Device of these their Idols, to increase and confirm their Dominion over them. So that they were not Magistrates, but eternal Fomenters of Discord; a Character which destroys that of a Magistrate.

It was evident, that their noisy Zeal for the People, and the Liberties of the People, was Grimace; when they were doing what was ruinous to popular Liberty, by raising continual Seditions, and attempting, as they often did, sometimes avowedly, to perpetuate themselves in their Office. But still the Multitude were convinced, that all these pestilent Doings and Designs were for their Benefit. If the Tribune Sextius had not known them to be the grossest Dupes in Nature, he could not have treated them with such egregious Insult and Scorn as he did, by declaring to their Faces, when, having been once disappointed of the Consulship, he sued for it a second time; ‘If We, the Tribunes, obtain not the Consulship by your Help, you shall never obtain the Division of the Lands, nor the Discharge of your Debts, by ours.’ But even this selfish Declaration cured not the People of their wild Partiality for Sextius; though by it he forfeited all Title to Modesty and public Spirit, and all just Pretence to Popularity.

It may not, perhaps, be impertinent to observe here, that these Declaimers, who filled Rome with their Assemblies, their Swaggering, and their Harangues, Men, so bold at the Head of a Multitude, and professing such Vigilance for the public Weal, never once shewed their Faces, nor were their Names mentioned, when the brave Coriolanus, driven from Rome by their Invectives, was returned thither at the Head of an Army, to take Vengeance on them. It was much safer to abuse him in the Forum, than to meet him in the Field; and whilst he was pursuing, and might have effected, the Destruction of the Republic, the Tribunes, whose Tongues could not then avail them, yet had now recourse to no better Weapon; that is to say, To none; and expected the Event with Submission and Silence. When they had escaped that terrible Blow, not by any Address or Prowess of theirs, instead of blushing for their late Behaviour, and retiring till it might be forgot, they soon resumed their old Strains and Practice of Pertness and Sedition. Indeed, they proposed some things that were reasonable and just; as the worst Tyrants have sometimes made good Laws, whilst their Conduct upon the Whole was lawless and violent.

Nor did the Tribunes lose any Opportunity of boasting their popular Services, and heightening their own Merit. They likewise took all Occasions, to depreciate and revile the Senate and Magistracy, to represent them in constant Combination against the Commonalty, and themselves as their great Protectors. So that the People were kept by them in an everlasting Ferment, in a Flame of various Passions, Partiality, Aversion, Fear, and Jealousy. Neither is it to the Reputation of these Tribunes with Posterity, that they were assiduous to procure Information of the Transactions and Passages in private Families, (the sure Sign of a mean and spiteful Spirit!) whence to raise and aggravate ill-natured Reports; all to make the Patricians odious, or contemptible.

Was Rome, thus constituted, thus agitated and tumultuous, a well composed State, properly balanced and secure?

DISCOURSE VI. Of Public Corruption; particularly that of the Romans.

SECT. I. The Interest of Virtue, and of the Public, every Man’s Interest.

THERE are, in Sallust, so many Reflections about public Corruption, such strong Instances of it at Rome, not only in the People, but amongst the great Men, who ought to have been the soundest of all, and Patterns of Probity to the rest of the Commonwealth; especially of their Venality, during the Jugurthine War; and public Corruption is in itself of such fatal Effect; that I shall take it into large Consideration in the following Discourse.

Whoever would cure public Evils and Corruption, can never do it so effectually, as by convincing such who promote them, that whatever is injurious to their Country is likewise prejudicial to Themselves; whether they consider their Innocence, or their Fame, or the Permanence and Stability of their Family and Fortune. This seems, to me, so true, that I cannot, in all History, recollect an Instance which does not confirm it. That no Man can be called happy, who betrays public Trust, or enslaves his Country, is as certain, as that there is such a Thing as Happiness or Unhappiness, such a Thing as Honour or Dishonour, in the World: Where there is no Virtue, there can be no Merit nor Praise; neither can there be any Breach of Trust, or Failure of Duty, without Reproach and Infamy: Besides that, it is often accompanied, as it ought to be, with personal Peril and Ruin: But this Peril is not the greatest Peril; that of losing Honour and Reputation, and inward Peace, is by much the most terrible. Virtue, and a good Name, is the best Wealth: It is Wealth which cannot perish; and he who is rich in Virtue, can never be poor: Whereas the Man who is rich without it, still labours under the worst of all Poverty, and is liable withal to lose his Treasures and Revenues; and, when these are gone, what remains to comfort or support him? In his highest Pomp and Prosperity; all Men of Sense and Probity despise him; and, when deserted by Fortune, even the Vulgar ridicule and scorn him. This was the Fate of that miserable Voluptuary the Emperor Vitellius; who had earned such Infamy by the Vileness of his Life, that the Manner of his Death, though very sad and tragical, procured him no Compassion. So true is that Maxim of the Philosopher’s, ‘That only is miserable, which is base and dishonest.’

The good, the upright Man, he whose Heart is pure, whose Hands are clean, has a continual Resource in himself, out of the Reach of Power or Fortune. The Man who keeps his Integrity, and does his Duty, is always sure of one Reward, even when he is oppressed, persecuted, and ungratefully used. To be conscious of having acted virtuously, is a Reward for Virtue; such a Reward as the Power and Malice of Men cannot obstruct nor diminish. And where this Recompence is wanting, any other Recompence, however splendid and sounding, is but Farce and Mockery, Satire and Reproach: It is like melted Gold poured down the Throat of a Miser; it is like loading a Traitor with Bags of Money, till he expire under the Wages of his Treason.

There have been Men distinguished with very high Titles and Preferments, for Actions which merited Gibbets and Dungeons: But what Man of Sense or Honour would have chosen their miserable Lot? Their unnatural Exaltation only added to the former Detestation of their Persons and Crimes; and they were considered as double Criminals, for having usurped and defiled the Rewards only due to Merit, to cover their Deformity, and adorn their Guilt. Had they any Pleasure in such bloated Greatness? Then they were stupid, and in the Condition of the lowest and most unperceiving Quadrupeds; a Situation not to be envied; indeed, to a reasonable Being, worse, and more wretched, than Non-existence. At best, they were seared, and had hardened their Hearts with such a continual Bent to Vice, to depraved Habits, and the Repetition of Crimes, as to be insensible, that Wickedness was wicked, and that Crimes were criminal.

Can a higher, or more shocking Curse than this befall a Man, to become an habitual Enemy to Virtue, and, consequently, to Men, and human Society; and to be continually abandoned to a Passion for Evil and Mischief? This is the Character and Curse of a Dæmon; yet it is a Character which is too often found amongst the Sons of Men: And if they find no Delight at all in these their unsuitable Trappings, but still feel their own pungent Guilt, in the midst of all that Glare intended to hide it from others, then are these Trappings only fresh Burdens; which, by being wickedly obtained, do but bring new Guilt and Pain; and their Dignities and Distinctions are so many importunate Monitors and Remembrances, how little they deserve them, and how much they deserve another and an opposite Lot.

Prosperity, Wealth, and Power, cast a false Lustre upon Characters, and disguise Crimes and Defects, especially from the Eyes of the Rabble: But when that faise Lustre is lost in the Loss of what caused it; that is to say, when the Prosperity of the Guilty ceases; such Crimes and Defects become apparent, exposed, and hated. All Men then see, what wise Men always saw, that where there was no real Merit, there could be no real Honour or Fame. Imagine any Two Men, one vicious and criminal, but continually prosperous; the other virtuous and innocent, but always unfortunate, or rather unsuccessful; which of these Two Characters would appear the more eligible to a wise Man? Undoubtedly the latter, at first Sight; for Vice and Wickedness are the highest Misfortune; and Virtue brings Felicity, even in Distress.

SECT. II. The fatal Tendency of public Corruption. The Public sometimes served by encouraging private Corruption. Other Means of Corruption, beside that of Money. Corruption sometimes practised by such who rail at it; in some Instances, by good Men, who hate it.

BY all that I have said in the foregoing Section, I mean only to introduce a Discourse upon Corruption, which is the Subject I purpose to pursue; an interesting Subject, since, by Corruption, every thing is changed, and, at last, consumed. Even War and Violence do not bring Ruin with more Certainty, nor, indeed, with so much Certainty: For Violence may be resisted and bassled; but Corruption, by continually wasting and weakening the Parts, must, without a Cure, infallibly, at last, destroy the Whole. Corruption, moreover, invites Violence; since such is the Nature of Man, that there are ever too many ready to seize and usurp whatever is destitute of Defence; and thus tempts their Ambition, or Avarice, with a Prospect of Success. This World, which has been so full of Revolutions ever since the Beginning of it, at least, since the Beginning of Records, would, perhaps, have afforded very few, had the several States in it been administered with constant Virtue and Probity, had the Magistrates done their Duty with Capacity, Vigilance, and Vigour.

This is the Method, these the Qualifications, for rendering a State prosperous and secure: And where these are wanting in any State, that State will certainly grow impotent and contemptible; and thence the Prey of some bold domestic Traitor, or of some foreign Invader. Nations the most populous and rich, when debased by Corruption, have never proved a Match for a People, however small and poor a People, who still possessed their primirive Integrity and Spirit. Happy is that Nation, where the Government is so formed, as to admit no Corruption! A Happiness, I doubt, not be hoped for; and, therefore, happy is that People, who, though they be in a good measure corrupt, yet preserve their civil Liberties long, as some such People have done; those of Athens, and some others: Yet, even there, Liberty was daily declining, according to the Progress of Corruption, and always sure to be utterly lost at last.

No doubt, there is great Analogy between private Morals and the Morals of a State; and, consequently, between public and private Corruption; yet they are far from being universally the same; since sometimes the Public is helped, and even saved, by encouraging private Acts of Dishonesty; such as bribing secret or public Enemies with Money, or (which is the same thing) with Promises, to betray their Trust, and to discover the Secrets of their Country or Party, contrary to their Honour, and, perhaps, their Oath. If this be a great Breach upon private Conscience, and private Morals, to encourage Perjury and Falshood, it would be a greater Breach of public Conscience and Morals, to risque the State, or any great public Advantage, for want of it; and, in the Casuistry of a State, the greater Good cancels the smaller Evil: Nor does he who practises it, sin, though he make others sin. It is immoral and cruel, causlesly to take away the Life of a single Citizen; but it is justifiable, to expose many thousand Lives for the Defence of the Public, and the Whole; because the Care of the Whole, which is better than a Part, is the Business and Duty of Governors, who would be unworthy of that Character, if, out of a false Tenderness for Blood, they should venture All, rather than Some. It is the same with Ministers who hire Spies; that is, People to lye and cheat for them, and bribe foreign Ministers and Generals to betray Counsels and Armies to them. Without such Practices they could not serve their Country as they ought; and what is their Duty cannot be a Crime, nor omitted without a Crime.

The same Reasoning holds, when applied to the secret and subdolous means of frustrating domestic Traitors and Treason; namely, the Hiring some to betray the rest, and misleading them all, by fair Speeches, and false Appearances: How, else, are any hostile Designs from Abroad, or any close Conspiracy at Home, to be detected and prevented? What other Part had Cicero to take with the dreadful Conspiracy of Catiline? Was he ever blamed by any Man of Candour or Honesty, for gaining over one of the Conspirators, by great Promises, and great Sums of Money, to betray the rest; or for persuading the Allobrogian Deputies to express a violent Passion for the Conspiracy, and to promise copiously to the Conspirators? Or was he ever censured for bribing Antonius, his Collegue, with a Government better than that which he kept to Himself, in order to secure to the State a Man very corrupt, and otherwise wavering, or rather inclining to dangerous Courses? For this, too, is the Duty of Governors, when public Men will not do their Duty to the Public, or are, perhaps, disposed to betray their Trust, and the Public too, and yet cannot be removed or secured, to apply even to their worst Passions, and hire them to be honest, since they value not Honesty, and love Hire.

Whatever tends to save or secure the Public, or to mend its Condition, is not Corruption; even though it may be effected by the Assistance of corrupt Men, and by Means that are called corrupt, and may be so in Him to whom they are applied, but cannot be so in Him that thus profitably applies them; because, by such Men, and such Means, he serves, nay, often saves, the State. It is Corruption, true and terrible Corruption, whatever is practised to save the Guilty and the Corrupt, (except where they have been the Instruments of public Good) to set some above the Law, to deprive others of its Protection, and to destroy the Force of the Laws. But it cannot be Corruption in a just Man, to hire a venal Man to do his Duty, and serve the Public, if nothing but Hire will induce him. If corrupt Men will not save nor serve their Country, without corrupt Motives, the just Ministers of the Public are not corrupt, but still just, in furnishing them with such Motives. He to whom they apply them is, indeed, corrupt; but though they hate Corruption, and corrupt Men, ever so much, yet, in Justice to their Country, they must procure Men to serve it how they can. It is great Pity, that this should ever be the Case; but I fear it is often so.

In all Events, none but virtuous, none but public-spirited Men are to be vested with such a tender Trust. A corrupt Man, employed in corrupt Measures, is more likely to apply them to hurt the State, than to save it; and what is continually hutting it, will, at last, destroy it. It is, indeed, a terrible Sign, when Men, especially public Men, refuse to serve or assist the State without private Considerations, which, upon such Occasions, are always sordid Considerations. Whoever will not act for the Public, when his Duty calls him to it, without a Reward, will be presumed ready to act against the Public for a Reward: And he who has the Distribution of such Rewards, is Master of all such venal Spirits, and consequently of the Public. Though even these venal Men may not at first mean to distress, much less to ruin their Country, yet an able Man, who has gained their Confidence; and purchased their Affections, may so far blind and engage them, that they will, they must, go all and the worst Lengths. Many of Cæsar’s Creatures, many of Cromwell’s, never dreamed of seeing the one Protector, or the other perpetual Dictator.

Corruption in a State is a Deviation from our Duty to the Public, upon private Motives. Nor are such Motives confined to Money, or Place, or Favour. Whoever prefers his Anger, or his Ambition, or his Hopes, or his Popularity, to his Duty to the Public, is as corrupt as he who postpones the Public to Gain; and Avarice, as distasteful and sordid a Passion as it is, does not more Hurt than other Passions with more pleasing Names, such as Liberality, Clemency, and the Love of Applause. Cæsar was not reckoned avaricious; Crassus was. But Cæsar corrupted Rome more by his Liberality, than Crassus did, or could, by Avarice; since Avarice only corrupts the Heart that entertains it, and therefore avaricious Men cannot be terrible to a State, otherwise than by plundering it, which they seldom have Credit enough to do. But, as Liberality is popular, the liberal Man is the most likely Man to rob his Country, as Cæsar actually did.

Sometimes Corruption is boldly charged upon others, by those who are themselves exceedingly corrupt. Thus Marius grew popular at Rome, by accusing the Patricians as corrupt, which, indeed, was true; and by railing at Corruption, for which there was ample Cause. But it ill suited his Mouth; for he himself proved as corrupt a Knave, as he did a bloody and a revengeful Savage, false, ungrateful, and void of Faith. He first railed at Bribery, and afterwards procured the Consulship, especially his latter Consulships, by Bribes; and, by Force of Bribing, kept Metellus, that excellent Person, Patriot, and Commander, from being Consul.

Catiline complained of Corruption in the Administration, at the very Time when he was corrupting all the Youth at Rome, with all his debauched and deluded Followers there, to destroy the Roman State. Indeed, most of the Traitors, and the greatest Incendiaries in Rome, professed Zeal and Concern for their Country, and charged the best Friends to it with Corruption, whilst they themselves were meditating Destruction to their Country, and all its best Friends. Nay, some of them, such as Titus Manlius, Spurius Cassius, and Spurius Mælius, even when they were doomed to die, as Enemies to their Country, appealed to the People, with notable Confidence, in the Style of their Patrons and Friends; as if they had been Victims only for the Sake of the Multitude, for whom they were preparing the Bitterest of all Calamities to a Roman, even Bondage!

SECT. III. Some Corruptions in the State to be borne, rather than removed by the Introduction of greater.

THE Transactions of this World, especially Transactions of State, are more Problematical than is generally thought or considered; and the truest Virtue may, at some Conjunctures, be exerted preposterously. No Man ever questioned that of Cato; his Virtue is become Proverbial. Yet, by carrying it further than the Times would bear, he sometimes hurt what he loved beyond his Life, even Liberty, and his Country. By this means, at one time, he lost to the Public the Body of the Roman Knights; a very powerful Body, and, till then, well disposed to assist against the exorbitant Power of Pompey and Cæsar. This was a great Consideration, superior to all others. But Cato gave is up, rather than allow them some Mitigation in a Bargain, for a Part of the Public Revenue. I forget whether he gained this small Point; sure I am, that, by insisting upon it, he lost a much greater. That great Body, thus piqued, fell instantly into the Arms of the first Triumvirate, who knew how to humour and prize them. So truly might Cicero say of Cato—optimo animo utens & summa fide, nocet interdum Reipub. dicit enim tanquam in πολιτείaypogr Platonis sententiam.

Cato hated all Corruption, Public and Private, and could not bear to see the Commonwealth wronged by the Farmers of her Revenue; nor the Roman Knights, who were such, grow rich at her Expence, and commit notorious Abuse and Oppressions, as they often did, as well as often refuse to comply with the Terms of their own Bargain. It was, in truth, melancholy and affecting, to consider how mercilesly these public Farmers squeezed and devoured the People in the Provinces, and to what cruel Extremities they drove them, even to sell their Children to satisfy the Tax-gatherers. Lucullus therefore deserved immortal Praise, for causing these poor People to be redressed; the more for the powerful Enmity which he incurred for such Mercy and Beneficence. It incensed the whole Equestrian Order, who thenceforward laboured his Downfal. For, Men who gain by Injustice, always think it unjust to be restrained from it. Such Injustice and Baseness in the public Farmers provoked the honest Mind of Cato. But he carried his Honesty further than the Times would bear, and, with an upright Design to assist the State, hastened its Fall.

Just so acted Appius the Censor. He, indeed, exercised that high Office with strict and severe Justice. But, whilst he attended to Justice only, he overlooked Reasons of State, which are often just, though they quadrate not with the simple and exact Ideas of Justice. For, by degrading many Senators of Distinction, though it was what in Strictness they deserved, he notably weakened the Republican Party; that is to say, his own Party, for which he was sincerely zealous; and consequently strengthened that of Cæsar, which he equally hated and opposed. Appius set cordially about the Cure of Corruption; and, by doing it, contributed to bring in universal Corruption, even the Domination of Cæsar, and Perdition to the Commonwealth.

Sylla, to secure himself from future Vengeance, for his present Cruelties and Oppression, made a Law, which excluded from all public Offices, the Children of all such Romans as he had proscribed. What was this but adding one Wickedness to another, and perpetuating his Cruelty? Could there be more apparent Justice, than to abolish that unrighteous and barbarous Law? Yet, when Sylla was dead, the Repeal of it was opposed by such as hated Sylla and his Power, even by the best and wisest Men in Rome; and for wise and just Reasons. For, had the Children of the Proscribed been restored to a Capacity for Employments, they might have been led, by their Resentment, to have cancelled all other Laws, all the useful Laws passed under Sylla, and thence brought great Disorder into the State.

The Abuse of Liberty, by turning it into Licentiousness, is Corruption, such Corruption as threatens, because it often brings, public Ruin; and therefore it is wise and just to cure it, in any Way consistent with Liberty. But it would be a much greater Corruption, to cure popular Licence by establishing Tyranny; that is, by giving absolute Power to one Man to prevent the Abuse of Liberty in many.

Whatever weakens the Power of a State, is Corruption, however righteous and plausible it may appear: Whatever preserves or increases its internal Strength, cannot be Corruption, though it may appear harsh and immoral. It is just to cut off a Limb to save the whole Body; as it would be unjust to expose the Body, to perish for the Sake of saving the Limb. When Spurius Mælius, who attempted to make himself Tyrant of Rome, could not be brought to Justice in the ordinary Way, whilst he was protected by the Multitude, whom he had bought and cheated by deceitful Acts of Liberality; it was necessary, and therefore just, to take away his Life by an extraordinary Power. Yet it was also just, because necessary, to forbear all Inquiry after his Adherents; because they were supposed to be very many; and it was judged rash, to make very many Citizens desperate.

The Rule and Art is, to make the Remedy strong enough for the Disease, without being too strong for the Patient. Cæsar and Crassus were engaged in the Conspiracy of Catiline, and it was just to have arraigned them for it; but it was not expedient, because not safe; for then the Criminals, many and powerful as they were, might have been too strong for the Prosecutors and the State. It was therefore just to spare them, however guilty. Yet it would have sounded well Abroad, and been a notable Topic for railing at Cicero, and charging him with Partiality and Corruption, in having passed by, or rather protected, the most Mighty of all the Traitors, and therefore the most Dangerous. But Cicero, who aimed only at saving his Country, was constrained to connive at some who were leagued to destroy it.

Caius Piso was one of the worst Men in Rome, a powerful and a desperate Incendiary, an Accomplice of Catiline, ready for all public Mischief, and more worthy of a Dungeon than Preferment; yet, was sent into Spain with supreme Command. This must surely seem very wrong and unjustifiable. There were, however, many worthy Citizens, and even Patriots, who approved it, and were pleased with it, for a powerful political Reason; namely, that he was a Man, who, from his Figure, Spirit, and Character, might serve to balance and check the overgrown Power of Pompey, become now altogether formidable.

The purchasing Votes at Rome, for public Employments, was justly restrained by strong and severe Laws; as what had a direct Tendency to ruin any State. Yet that Practice, wicked in most Circumstances, became necessary in some, and countenanced by the most virtuous Romans. Thus, when Cæsar, who had already given so many Proofs of a Genius utterly lawless and aspiring, was suing for the Consulship by Money, and all Methods of Corruption, such as wished well to the Public, and opposed him, thought it no Corruption to oppose him by the like Means, and, by a Contribution of Money, to assist Bibulus his Competitor. Even Cato owned, that bribing the Centuries against him conduced to the Security and Interest of the Commonwealth.

I am far from making, or intending by what I have said, any Apology for Corruption. I hate Corruption as much as I love what it tends to destroy, Liberty, Peace, and Justice. I mean only to shew, that what sounds like Corruption, may not be Corruption; and that it is not so much the Act, as the Characters and Designs of Men, that constitute it. I have owned every such Act to be Corruption in him to whom it is applied; but contend, that it may be otherwise in him who honestly and usefully applies it.

It was Corruption in Catiline, to bribe Men to promote his Interest against the Interest of the State: But it was public Spirit in Cicero, to gain Men by Money to serve the State against the treasonable Designs of Catiline.

SECT. IV. How hard to prevent Corruption, where the Means of Corruption are found.

SUCH is the Nature of Man, and of Society, that where-ever the Means of Corruption are found, the Exercise of it will soon follow. Rome was at first Virtuous from Necessity, very Poor, almost always in War and Danger. Poverty, and Equality, (which is often the Effect of Poverty, especially in new Establishments, before the Pride of Blood and Lineage begins) proved her Defence for some time against Ambition. She had no Trade, no Money, no Room or Materials for Luxury. Temperance and Frugality naturally followed Necessity. Iron, the best Instrument in forming and preserving their State, was more esteemed than Gold, which Men seldom love, till it has hurt them; that is, taught them by Use to desire more than they want. They had no slavish Dependents; for the Relation of Patron and Client implied no more than a kind Intercourse of Protection and Duty. Each supported Himself; for none were able then to support Many, and thence to draw numerous Dependencies. Liberty was their great Passion; Virtue had all Opportunities of shining, none of being debauched and enervated. But their Habits changed with their Condition; they first grew less Virtuous, then Vicious, at length Abandoned. It is the Course and Fate not of Romans only, but of Men.

Just so it fared with the Saracens, at first Poor, Virtuous, and Self-denying; afterwards, very Voluptuous, from being very Rich. Omar, the second Caliph, was such an Admirer of their former Condition of Meanness in Equipage, Living, and Dress, that in his Progress to the Camp at Jerusalem, besieged by his Army, the same Camel carried him and his Provisions, a Couple of Sacks, one holding Grain, the other Fruits; before him, a great Leathern Bottle of Water; behind him, a large wooden Platter. Thus he travelled more like what he had been, than what he was; a Farmer, than a Prince; and, perceiving some Saracens dressed in rich Silks, the Plunder of Christians, he sorely chastised their Pride, ordered them to be dragged through the Dirt with their Faces downward, and their fine Attire to be rent in Pieces. And though, like all Conquerors, he was cruel to human Race; he was, like some other Conquerors, just and humane to Particulars. He said, to certain of his People, who were punishing a poor Man for not paying, what he was not able to pay, his Tribute; he said, and quoted Mahomet for it, ‘Do not afflict Men; for those who afflict Men, God will afflict, and punish them in Hell-fire on the Day of Judgment.’ Enthusiasm hindered him, as Ambition does others, from seeing how much he himself was afflicting the World, by the Violence of War, in making Conquests, and settling Mahometism.

Such were the first Saracens in Plainness and Frugality; nay, most of the Spoil taken in War, and of the Tribute paid by the conquered Nations, was appropriated to the Use of the Public, untouched by their Princes, who took hardly any Part to themselves, as I have elsewhere observed. But after they had been some time accustomed to Wealth, they found out all its Allurements and worst Uses, and became a most interested and voluptuous Race, both Prince and People. The Ottomans too, who conquered the Saracens, began like them, and ended like them; in the Beginning, Plain and Temperate; at last, Luxurious, Avaricious, and Splendid. The Ottoman Princes, for a long while, like the Saracen Princes, did not appropriate any of the Public Revenue to their own Personal Expence. Afterwards, the Public Revenue scarce sufficed some of their Successors for their Personal Waste and Luxury.

In truth, where-ever Riches come, they never fail to bring along with them their Abuse, as well as Use; and are, next to Superstition, the great and successful Instrument of corrupting human Society. For, as Men are chiefly led by a Passion for Ease and Pleasure, whatever most readily purchases these, will be proportionably esteemed; and, as Riches procure all worldly Things, they will be prized above all such Things. Even Virtue, fine Qualities and Acquirements, will be less valued than Wealth, because Wealth, which can do more than they, will be consequently more popular and potent. When Money, and not Worth, comes to be the Standard of Respect, the most Rich, however Sordid and Vicious, come to be preferred before the most Able and Virtuous; and Profuseness, which is Folly, baffles Merit and Wisdom, upon any Competition for popular Favour.

This is one of the ill Consequences of Riches: They bring Weight and Esteem to the Possessor, though he be otherwise empty, silly, and immoral. Hence Scorn follows Virtue in Poverty; and the great Strife comes to be that of excelling in Wealth, which thus becomes an Equivalent for all Merit, and conceals all want of it. Great Talents are not to be acquired, great Opulence may; and then it stands for Talents, Virtue, and All things. Thus Men come to contend, not for Superiority in Merit, but in Money, which is often the Portion of the Fool, and the Profligate.

Does Money adorn any Man’s Mind? Does it improve the Head, or mend the Heart? What is valuable in a Man, but his Disposition and his Faculties? Is it not They chiefly that set him above Brutes, which, for Symmetry and Strength, often surpass him? Riches make him not less a Beast, where, in his Habits and Propensities, he is one. A Wolf, or a Tyger, lying in Dens full of Gold and Diamonds, would be still a Wolf, or a Tyger; and a worthy Man not less worthy, though he possess neither Diamonds nor Gold. No Man has any Advantages, for which his Person ought to be valued, but what are Personal. Neither Wealth nor Power is so. A Man therefore may be a Wretch, though very rich and powerful.

All Order and Justice comes to be inverted, when Riches bear Sway, or are made the Means of it. This is true Corruption, which then taints and pervades all Things, and grows the Beginning, the Middle, and the End. A Man then, instead of pleading his Services to his Country, or having shewn his Capacity to serve it, need only produce his Money, and shew, That he is rich. It was so at Rome. The worst Men carried popular Elections from the best, by being richer, or by employing their Riches to bribe the People. And, as they gave them Money, they made Money of them: Such giving and receiving Money for Votes, and Votes for Money, was an obvious Bargain, plain Traffick, buying in order to sell. The People see it not at first, nor its Tendency. They conclude, that he who pays them best, can serve them best; or, that he is their best Friend, without once thinking of his Services and Trust: Nor can they believe, that one who is so generous to them, and one to whom they are so kind, can mean them any harm, or would raise himself higher at the Expence of his good Friends, who thus raised him so high. They that are shy in the Beginning, grow less so, as the Thing becomes more common; and become reconciled, by Degrees, to that which had once shocked them. Some, who never approve it, come in the End to practise it, when they judge, that their single Integrity cannot possibly resist a general Contagion; at least, they find this Excuse for what their Integrity cannot but condemn.

Immense were the Sums which it cost the Roman Candidates for Places and Preferments, in bribing and entertaining the People. It is easy to guess, if it were not known, as it notoriously is, what Frauds and Rapine must follow such Prodigality, and what Impunity such Rapine. The Magistrates, who had paid so dear for their Promotion, thought themselves intitled to make Reprizals, and to reimburse themselves, besides making the best of their Employments. Besides, it was but prudent to levy and reserve a good Sum, to convince the Tribunals of their Innocence, and just Administration, in case any clamorous Complainers, whom they had, perhaps, oppressed no more than the rest, should force them to defend themselves there.

Cæsar, besides wasting all his own Substance, ran in Debt near Two Millions of our Money, by bribing the People, and their Tribunes; with what View is apparent. For it is natural to Ambition to make its Advantage, and a Tool, of Avarice. Cæsar did by Bribes what his Sword, without them, never could have done, oppressed the Liberty of his Country. Perhaps he considered the Roman People, as his Property, and that, because he had bought them, he might take them. Neither could they, or any other People who do so, complain, with Decency, of any ill Usage from such as they suffer to purchase them.

SECT. V. Venal Men, with what ill Grace they complain of any ill Conduct, or Corruption, in him who bought them: People once corrupted, how abandoned to all Corruption.

THOSE who have sold themselves, ought no longer to consider themselves as their Own: No; they are His who bought them. What is it that gives us Property in a Bondman, but paying the Price for him; and then he is ours, whether he consents to be so, or no? When People set themselves to Sale, the Title will be presumed still clearer, as Consent at least strengthens Property. For what do they take Money? Is it for their Votes? Then, he who has bought them, means to make the best of his Bargain; since for this End only he made it. They may mean what they please; but thus, generally, the Purchaser will reason, and thus act. He will not reckon himself beholden to Them, but to his Money; he will not consider himself entering upon a Trust, but taking Possession of a Purchace; and that, if He had not made it, Another would. He who commits a Trust, parts only with the Administration, and is intitled to a just Account how it is administred. But he who sells a Trust, parts with it intire, and for ever; at least, he is at the Mercy of the Buyer, and leaves him Power to raise his Money again how he can, and with whatever Improvements he pleases. He who hath got Possession, is the strongest Man; and it is odds but he will argue and behave like the strongest.

Others, indeed, such as are uncorrupt, may justly blame and reproach him, for taking such dishonest Advantages even of venal Men: But they, whose Venality have enabled him to oppress them, cannot well wonder at It, nor upbraid Him for it. What was the Multitude to Him? Perhaps he knew not One in a Thousand amongst them: He wanted only their Votes, for which they took his Money; and, as They applied That to their own Use, so did He Those to his. It was not in his Thoughts, to impoverish Himself merely to enrich Them; nor yet to purchase Leave, at a great Price, to drudge in carrying on their Interest and Affairs, or to be continually annoyed with their Noise and Folly: No; he bought their Voices, in order to ride upon their Necks; to make them the Instruments of his Fortune, and to set him above wanting them any more.

Caius Pontius the Samnite was so sensible, that a State of Corruption was a State of Decay, and saw it so evidently in the Roman Commonwealth, that he wished, ‘That Fortune had appointed him his Time of Life in those Days when the Roman People began first to take Gifts and Bribes: For then, said he, I would have borne their Empire no longer.’ He seems to have judged soundly; for, as they were longer in subduing the Little free State of the Samnites, than in conquering all the Great Kings in Europe, Asia, and Africa, it is almost demonstrable, that, had their Love to their Country, and, consequently, their Bravery in fighting for it, been weakened by Venality, the Samnites must have vanquished them.

‘I ask, (says Cicero) whether they who left us this Commonwealth so gloriously established, seem to have had one Thought towards feeding Avarice, by the Gratifications of Gold and Silver; or Vanity, by splendid Furniture; or Voluptuousness, by delicious Banquets; or a Passion for Pleasure, by Indulgence and Luxury?’ But the Vices of the Romans were then as glaring and common, as the Virtues of their Ancestors formerly had been; and they were not ashamed to be boasting of their Ancestors, and quoting the Examples of their Forefathers, whilst they were doing every thing unworthy of their Forefathers, and disgraceful and ruinous to themselves: Nor were they ever louder in their Cries for Liberty, than when they were following Those, selling themselves to Those, who purposed to enthrall them, and to destroy their boasted Liberty: Nay, such as meditated nothing but absolutely to rule them, and, consequently, to enslave them, were always most popular with them. Whoever fed them with Money, or Provision, or Flattery, was their Darling; though, by all his Bounty, and Soothing, and Noise for Liberty, he aimed only at being their Tyrant. Even the detestable Catiline was popular, and considered by them as a great Champion for Liberty, because he talked loudly about it, and was a known Enemy to those who were then uppermost in the State; Men who, whatever Faults they had, were, in comparison with him, virtuous and unblameable.

Even whilst Cicero was Consul, one of the ablest and most upright Magistrates that ever honoured or protected any Government; and whilst that Parricide continued to pursue his inhuman Conspiracy against Rome, and all that was valuable and sacred in it; the People, tho’ they could have no Objection to Cicero, but that he was in the Interest of the Senate, that is, was for preserving the Senate, and his Country, yet still admired and followed Catiline, till, by the Discovery of his Plot and Designs, it appeared that he was about to have extirpated, by the universal Rage of Fire and Sword, the very Being of their City and Commonwealth. Then, indeed, they were shocked, and cried, Horror! They had all along imagined, that he only meant to have changed the Magistrates, whom they disliked; or, at worst, to have begun a Civil War, in which they had little to lose, and a Chance to get (which Chance was dearer to them, than public Tranquillity, and their Country): But, in the Burning and Destruction of Rome, they would have met their own Destruction; and so far they detested the Views of Catiline.

That the Roman Populace were governed, upon this Occasion, by a Spirit of Corruption and Blindness, (two Qualities generally following one another) and not by Judgment or Honesty, appears from hence; that Catiline, whom they applauded, and from whom they hoped so much, was, and ever had been, a notorious Profligate, black with all Crimes, detestable in his private Life, abandoned, corrupt, and lawless, in Office: So that, if they expected from him nothing but public Disorders and Revolutions, (as what else could they expect?) they were corrupt, utterly corrupt, and lost to all Public Spirit, to all Sense of Honour and Virtue: If they depended upon him for any public Good or Reformation, they were blind. It is, in truth, evident, that they considered him as a public Plague, as a ready Instrument of general Confusion and War; and, as such, warmly espoused and encouraged him. Sallust declares it explicitly: Omnino cuncta plebes, novarum rerum studio, Catilinæ incepta probabat. Id adeo, &c.

‘The Commonalty, in a Body, from a Passion for public Changes, approved the Pursuits of Catiline; and, in doing so, seemed but to follow their usual Bent: For, in this our City, all they who are destitute of Place and Substance, ever repine at the Enjoyments and Distinction of virtuous Men; ever extol the Vicious; hate the old Ways; long for Noveltics and Change; and, from Disgust to their own Condition, labour to introduce universal Confusion. In popular Commotions and Discord, they find their Subsistence without Pains and Care; since Poverty, which never has any thing to lose, is, upon such Occasions, readily supported.’

Now such Fondness for Civil Disorders, and for the wicked Authors of such, is, by this Account, intirely derived from the depraved Spirit and Disposition of the People; and not imputable to the Misconduct of the Magistrates, however faulty they might be: Nay, the best, the most strict and steady Administration must have been the most disliked and unpopular, when the People were passionate for the worst Calamities, such as Civil Dissentions and War; and for the wickedest Men, such as promoted those Calamities, and because they promoted them; even for Catiline, Cethegus, and every great Traitor and Incendiary.

Could there be a more tempting Opportunity than this, offered to the Ambition of Cæsar, for pursiting the great Aim of his Life, that of usurping the Government of Rome? And, perhaps, it is the most plausible Defence that can be made for him, (for no solid Defence will his Crimes bear) that, seeing them the Dupes and blind Followers of every audacious and desperate Demagogue, He, who was a more powerful and able, at least a more fortunate Demagogue, than all the rest, judged it politic to enslave them Himself, rather than let any other enslave Them and Him too; though the more honourable Task would have been, what was also his Duty, to have rescued and reformed them, and to have struggled against their extravagant Corruption and Folly: This would have been an Undertaking worthy of his great Abilities, and indefatigable Spirit, had his Heart been as good as his Head: But he found them bad, and made them worse, in order to make them his own.

SECT. VI. Amongst a corrupt People, the most debauched and desperate Leaders are the most popular.

IF only bad Government had displeased the Roman People, the excellent Government of Cicero, one so wise, fatherly, uncorrupt, and meritorious, a Government which saved them and their State, would have removed their Displeasure, and reconciled them to the State, and their own ‘Safety under it.’ But it had not that Effect; at least till they saw, that Catiline’s Designs threatened Themselves with immediate Destruction. Till then, they continued to love and follow him, as one that was to present them with, what they earnestly wished, public Uproar, Civil War, and Rapine; all which implied an Overthrow of the Government, which they foresaw, and rejoiced in; and, therefore, could see no Merit in Cicero, as a general Preserver of the State; but must have sound great Fault with him for disappointing Catiline, and their best Views, had not the Discovery produced more than they expected.

Was this a People worthy of Liberty? or was public Liberty, in such keeping, likely to last long? Long before this, indeed very early, the Roman People were prone to Corruption, and zealously attached to such as corrupted them, by whatever Means it was attempted; whether by false Munificence, or by Faction, or by the never-failing Bait and Cry of Liberty. So that they were always corrupted, and consequently most abused, by their greatest Champions and Favourites; that is, by their real and worst Enemies; as the false Friend is ever the most dangerous Foe.

Spurius Mælius, whilst he cheated them with false Bounties and fair Speeches, was extremely popular, and even their Idol, though he only fed them, and flattered them, in order to enslave them. But the Character and Appearance of a Benefactor covered and recommended the Traitor; and the People, like other Animals, not seeing the Hook, greedily swallowed the Bait. Nor would they have ever discovered his horrid Designs, till they had been accomplished, had not others, even such as they suspected and disliked, discovered and exposed them. For, their daily Watchmen and Orators, in whose Zeal and Sagacity they generally put blind Trust, had sold themselves, and their Trust; that is, sold the People to Mælius; so that whilst he was pursuing Kingship, they were silent and assisting. When the Traitor was put to Death, they expressed much Regret for his Fate, and their Loss of him, remembring his perfidious Courtship and Liberality, and forgetting or disbelieving his Treason.

Just such another Deceiver, false Friend, and real Enemy, they had in Marcus Manlius Capitolinus. For the People are ever the servile Tools of such as know how to blind them with false Tales and Appearances. He was, indeed, a brave Soldier, had nobly defended the Capitol against the Gauls, and done many signal Exploits in War; but, full of Ambition, and envying the famous Camillus, attempted Royalty by the Means of Popularity; and, in order to gain the People, took such Measures as will ever gain them: He deceived them with magnificent Professions and Undertakings, and corrupted them by bribing them; and as he was profuse in his Gifts and Caresses, they were equally extravagant in their Zeal and Adoration. Whilst he was giving Money to many, or paying their Debts; becoming Security for some, and even assisting and rescuing others by downright Violence; whilst he was continually proposing popular Schemes, popular Projects, and popular Largesses; it never entered into their credulous Heads, that a Benefactor, so infinitely liberal and zealous, could possibly intend them any Harm, much less Misery and Chains. Yet it was obvious to common Sense, that either Manlius, or the Government, must fall; especially when he came to be constantly guarded by the Croud, and to bid Defiance to the Magistrates. But the People, corrupted even to Blindness, either saw no Danger to the State, or regarded Manlius more than the State, or perhaps as the best Friend to the State; and much Difficulty there was in securing the State against him, by depriving him of Life. His Friends, the Multitude, who strove to rescue him from Justice, loudly lamented him for having suffered it; and, as the Plague happened soon after, they said, that it was a Judgment, sent by Jupiter, to avenge the innocent Blood of Manlius, the Defender of his Temple the Capitol. For, as they were perpetually infatuated by the Projects and Harangues of their Tribunes and Demagogues, they were always sauntering in the Forum, and reasoning about Matters of Government. Thus they neglected their Labour, and the Manuring of their Lands; and, when Famine followed, which was very natural, they railed at their Governors.

The extraordinary Conflux of People from all Parts of Italy to Rome, upon the Return of Cicero from Banishment, raised the Price of Provisions. This public Inconvenience furnished a Colour to the Tribune Clodius, his implacable Enemy, for traducing him to the Rabble, as the Cause of it; and for charging him with it, as a Crime. The Rabble gave full Credit to their Oracle the Tribune, and called licentiously upon Cicero for Bread; nay, taught their Children the same seditious Cry. In their Fury they insulted and scared away the Audience at the Theatre, attacked the House of the Prætor, who presided at the public Plays; besieged the Senate in the Temple of Concord; fell upon one of the Consuls with Stones, and wounded him. In the Mouth of this Rabble, animated by the most abandoned of all Profligates, and led by two notorious Criminals, one an Assassin, another a Creature and Instrument of Catiline’s, the Name of Cicero, so justly dear to the Romans, was a Name of Reproach.

What could argue higher Corruption than such raging Licentiousness, and such desperate Acts of Sedition, as well as such a blind Propensity to follow and obey the most debauched and lawless Leaders, to defy all Law and Restraint, and to assault the Government itself? When the giddy Populace, or, which is the same thing, when such as lead them, (for the Populace will ever be led) can controul all Things, the Government is, in effect, dissolved, or near its Dissolution, and must either be utterly lost in Anarchy, a Case which hardly can happen; or, which is more likely, be seized by a foreign Invader; or, which is most likely, by a domestic Usurper. This was the Condition and the Fate of Rome; a Fate which often threatened her, a Fate which she several times felt, and a Fate which at last thoroughly mastered her, and mastered her for ever.

Her warlike Spirit and Atchievements, the Dignity and Freedom of her Government, her Laws and Magistrates, all of her own creating, with the boasted Rights of Roman Citizens, and their many Immunities; her numerous Conquests, her universal Sway and Command, Laurels about her Head, the Globe under her Feet; I say, Rome, thus exhibited and arrayed, made a splendid Appearance, full of Majesty, full of Strength; and, in this Light, one is apt to wonder, as well as to gtieve, that ever she should perish, or even shrink and fade. But upon a nearer View of her Frame, of the Materials that composed it, and the Machines that conducted it, we may cease to wonder at her Decay and Overthrow; when we see a numerous and swarming People forming a Legislature, not by Representatives chosen from amongst them, but every Man, in a vast Nation, a Legislator, and possessing a deliberative Voice; and the Whole of them swayed and controuled by a few bold or crafty Men, perhaps by one, who could well harangue them, or deceive them, or feast them, or buy them; here, a popular Sycophant winning them with Flattery; there, an artful Speaker, charming them by Eloquence; a bold Lyar, imposing upon their Credulity; an Incendiary, terrifying them with groundless Jealousies; a Merchant, bribing them into Slavery by Doles of Corn; a Bully, with the same View, rescuing them from their Creditors, and both likely to succeed: When, in short, we see them passionate for Schemes calculated to undo them, for Laws destructive of the State, and for Men who were their worst Enemies, for Catiline and Clodius!

The latter was their Darling a great while, though one of the worst Men that ever infested Society; implacable, unjust, mercenary, impious, and lawless; a Pathic, Incestuous; a Fire-brand in the Army, a Fury in the State, a Tyrant in Office; plundering the Public and Particulars; selling Places and Provinces, and the Friendship of the Roman People; forging Wills, suborning Witnesses, and oppressing Right by Violence. But his Laws, however wicked, and even pernicious, were popular and pleasing, as particularly that for distributing Corn gratis to the Populace; by which Law a Fifth of the Public Revenue was cut off, and consequently so much of the public Strength and Security. For this and the like Extravagances, fatal to the Republic, and destructive to its best Members, this Madman was adored and followed as a public Benefactor, and went guarded by the Rabble, and a Band of Profligates, who never failed to insult and abuse every Man not in his Favour; that is to say, every worthy Roman. They particularly fell upon so great a Man as Hortensius, and had well nigh murdered that great Orator, because he appeared for Cicero. Such as remained of the desperate Followers of Catiline, were now very naturally Followers of Clodius.

SECT. VII. When the People are thoroughly corrupt, all true Sense of Liberty is lost. Outrage and Debauchery then pass for Liberty, Defiance of Law for public Spirit, and Incendiaries for Patriots.

COULD there be more glaring Mockery, than the Sound of Liberty from the Mouth of Clodius? Yet he declared for Liberty, and the Croud believed him; though they heard him, with the same Breath, threaten, what he continually practised, all Acts of Violence, and the Decision of the Sword. Nay, when this wild Tyrant had pulled down Cicero’s House, he erected a Fabric in its room, and consecrated it to Liberty: As if that excellent Roman, who had defeated the bloody Conspiracy of Catiline, which struck at the very Foundation of Liberty and of Rome, had been an Enemy to Liberty; and he, Clodius, acting like another Catiline, its Restorer! Whilst, at the same time, he was marching like a foreign Enemy in a City just taken by Storm, at the Head of his outrageous Cabal, with Fire-brands in their Hands, and in open Day setting Fire to the Houses of all such as had furnished him with Cause of Offence; namely, all such as opposed or disapproved his wild Doings. When these his bloody Followers had fallen upon a Tribune in the Interest of Cicero, and having wounded him in more than Twenty Places, left him for dead; as this Action might displease the People, who accounted their Tribunes sacred, these Blood-hounds resolved to murder a Tribune of their own Faction, that the Guilt might seem equal; as it would then appear done in a sudden Encounter between both Sides. Nay, these Ruffians had a Commission from him to plunder, burn, and kill, at Discretion. Thus was Rome, the Mistress of the World, insulted, and her Laws set aside, or defied, by one detestable Tribune, supported by the Multitude, who always supported the Worst and most Mischievous; insomuch that, for almost half a Year together, she was deprived of the Exercise of Justice, and, as it were, of Government, by the Fury of a popular Incendiary.

In short, all his Doings tended directly to overturn the State, and to introduce Tyranny; but passed with the Commonalty for Measures to increase and confirm Civil Liberty. There was good Policy in the Institution of observing the Heavens by the Augurs, or other Magistrates, during the Assemblies of the People, in order to prevent any wild Result from such Assemblies; since the Appearance of any ill Omen, declared by such Augur, or Magistrate, effectually dissolved them. This good Usage, so necessary at Rome, Clodius abolished by the Authority, and with the Applause, of the People. Of the same Tendency was his abridging the Power of the Censors, who could brand any Senator, or Roman Knight; and, indeed, degrade either: Nay, One of them could do all this; till, by a Law of the execrable Clodius, they were restrained from branding or degrading any, unless first accused before their own Order, and punished by their Concurrence. What was this but an Invitation to open Dissolution of Manners, and bidding Crimes and Debauchery prosper?

Could Madness and Corruption rise possibly higher in Magistrate, or People? And was such a State likely to subsist, such a People to continue free? Their Fondness generally followed the most vicious Men, such as meant to enslave them; and, in order to it, corrupted their Hearts, and humoured their Follies. They were therefore scarce ever under the Direction of wise and worthy Men, Men who would not cheat nor flatter them, not encourage their Idleness, and dissolute Manners. Blinded and bewitched with Cæsar’s Bounty and Complaisance, from his Almsmen they became, naturally enough, his Bondmen. He fed, and charmed, and enslaved them. Were they wiser after the Death of Cæsar, and after the Use which they had seen him make of their Corruption and Folly? No: They must still have some lewd Favourite to abuse and master them, and therefore trust him with their Liberties. Still corrupt and craving, and struck with Cæsar’s Legacy, they went eagerly into the Measures of Antony, who acquainted them with it, and who, under Pretence of avenging the Death of Cæsar, aimed at succeeding him. They therefore desert, nay, turn their Fury against, their true Friends the Tyrannicides, and strengthen the Hands of Antony, though his Success was to be attended with their Bondage, and must necessarily produce it.

Antony, thus set up and espoused by the deluded and ill-judging People, failed not to improve his Fortune with notable Activity and Boldness. The Tyrannicides, through Love of Peace, and Fear of the Army, had agreed with Cæsar’s Friends, that all his Acts and Regulations should remain in full Force(a): So that he had really more Power now he was dead, than when he was alive. Such was the Oversight of the Tyrannicides, in not improving the first Heat and Spirit, whilst the People were yet with them, as at first they were; and whilst the Creatures and Supports of the late Tyranny were yet terrified and lurking. They might, at least, have confined Antony, and some other Chiefs, and Officers, either at Rome, or conveyed them away instantly to some distant Confinement. But, as they left him (I think weakly, I am sure very unhappily) at Liberty, and in Rome, he soon gained the poor fickle People, and then made the most of the late Stipulations. Amongst Cæsar’s Minutes and Regulations, he inserted and forged whatever he had a Mind to carry, and called it the Appointment of Cæsar. Even without such Pains and Ceremony, he often said, that this, or that, was Cæsar’s Design, and confidently put it in Execution. Thus there often passed, in his Name, such monstrous and daring Things, as, had he been alive, he would not have passed, nor suffered. By Antony’s enormous Demands and Donations from the Treasury, under colour of Cæsar’s Orders, most Part of the mighty Treasure, amassed by Cæsar for the War against Parthia, was exhausted.

So that Antony was first enabled by the People, and then enabled himself, to be a greater Tyrant, in Cæsar’s Name, than Cæsar himself was. By the Money, which he said was thus granted by Cæsar, he influenced the mercenary Spirit of Cæsar’s Army, and gained just as many as he was able to bribe; but, not having enough to bribe all, the rest devoted themselves to Octavius, upon the like sordid Consideration. For, the Roman Armies were become as corrupt as the Roman People. After so many Forgeries in the Name of Cæsar, it was the less Wonder, that Antony impudently forged Decrees in the Name of the Senate. This bold Villainy had been often practised by Cæsar.

Perhaps it may not be improper to take notice here, as a further Instance of the Fickleness and Folly of the Multitude at this very time, that, amongst the public Plays exhibited to the Romans, in the Name of Brutus, as Prætor, after the Death of Cæsar, was the Tragedy of Tereus, which, for the many severe Strokes in it against Tyranny, was extremely applauded by the People. Cicero justly laments, that they thus employed their Hands, not in defending their Liberties, but only in clapping at the Theatre. What I would observe from it, is, that they are naturally fond of Liberty, but generally judge ill about the Means of keeping it; that their Meaning is good, even when their Judgment is wrong; yet they oftener err in following the Sentiments of others, than in following their own.

SECT. VIII. The swift Progress of Corruption in the Roman Republic. Its final Triumph in the Dissolution of the State.

CAN it seem at all strange, that, when the Roman People were become so debauched, so idle, credulous, venal, and corrupt, their popular Meetings should prove, as they did, rather Tumults than regular Assemblies? They met, not to make equal and just Laws, or to prefer able and worthy Men; but to sell themselves, to form Factions, often to exalt the most wicked and dangerous of all Men, often to depress, or to disappoint, the most virtuous Patriots. Their Assemblies were no longer formed with Deliberation, according to the Laws, but in a Heat and Hurry; insomuch that popular Decrees, which had never passed, came to be forged: Several such were made, when only a few of the People, the Simplest, and the Worst, were present; some only by the lowest and vilest Rabble, where not a Man of Sense, or Honour, or Weight, was present. Nay, popular Decrees, of the highest Moment, then passed, such as conferred Legions, public Treasure, nay, the Government of Provinces, and the Command of Armies; vacuo non solum a bonis, sed etiam a liberis, atque inani foro, ignaro populo Rom. quid ageretur. The Candidates for public Employments came at last, in spight of all the penal Laws, to bribe openly, and were chosen sometimes by Arms, as well as Money.

In the Senate, things were not always carried much better, sometimes Decrees of great Consequence were made, when very few Senators were there, and sometimes such Decrees were forged; as I have lately observed. Sometimes the Leaders of the People, and those of the Senate, agreed, (when it suited their particular Interests) the former, to publish fictitious Ordinances of the People; the latter, to frame false Decrees of Senate.

Could there be more crying Corruption than this, blacker Imposture, or a more terrible Prospect? When Laws were made, not by the Legislature, but by private Knaves, in a Corner, for dirty Self-ends, yet binding all Men, and changing, or perverting, the Course of the Government? Who now can wonder at the Fall of Rome? Enfeebled by continual Faction and Corruption, (Two potent Engines to destroy a State!) and thence ripe for an absolute Master, she fell into the Hands of many Masters, Marius, Sylla, Saturninus, Cinna, Clodius, and many others, all occasional Tyrants; that is, sovereign Controllers of the Multitude, and the Laws; till, at last, Cæsar seized her; and, after he was slain, when she might have re-assumed her Liberty, at least, for some time, (And surely, as Cato expresses it in the Tragedy,

A Day, an Hour, of virtuous Liberty

Is worth a whole Eternity in Bondage)

she refused the invaluable Blessing, joined with his Friends, that is, her Enemies; and thus transferred herself to a Series of Tyrants for ever.

The Balance was never properly nor equally fixed between the Patricians and People; and it was the constant Pursuit of each to destroy all Balance; not to govern in Conjunction, but of one to govern the other. The Senate, which had the most Power at first, exercised it too rigorously; and, upon all Occasions, manifested great Contempt, and often great Bitterness, towards the People; and forced them to seek a Remedy in the Institution of popular Tribunes, who, under the Mask of protecting the People, sought and acquired enormous Power to themselves. For the People will be ever the Tools and Dupes of their false Friends, and pretended Patrons. These Tribunes fed them with continual Jealousies, dressed up the Senate as a Bugbear of Tyranny, and still wanted new Authority to themselves, all for the Benefit of the People against the Patricians. The Patricians too, studying their own Defence, sometimes used unrighteous Means to defeat unrighteous Designs. The Struggle, going still on, produced some temporary Tyrannies; whilst single Men, usurping and abusing the Authority of Magistrates, enslaved both Parties, to be avenged of one. At last, in a few Years, the Tyranny became lasting and settled. Then the two Factions had Leisure to look back upon their own blind Phrensy; when, by struggling who should be Masters, they were both become Slaves: Nor did they seem to have reflected upon the Tendency of their pernicious Corruption, of their mad and fatal Feuds, till such Reflection could only serve to reproach and distract them.

It were well, that all Parties, all People, would grow wise by the Example of those at Rome, nor suffer a Passion for Party, or for Money, to drive them on to such Mistakes, and hasty Measures, as Reason cannot afterwards retract or cure. Party is Corruption, as well as it is Folly. The Revenge which they seek, often falls as heavy, sometimes heaviest, upon themselves; and what they call Redress proves Destruction. But Rage considers nothing but present Gratification. The Plebeians, piqued at the Patricians, who had used them ill, set up, for their Head, the savage Marius; at first, against Rules; afterwards, in Defiance of Law. The Patricians, to stem the Fury of the bloody Marius, exalt Sylla, or enable him to exalt himself, as their Patron and Champion, a Man no less bloody. Both Marius and Sylla play the Tyrant in their Turn, and both Parties are, by one or the other, enslaved and slaughtered by turns.

DISCOURSE VII. Of the Corruption in the Roman Seats of Justice, and the Oppression in the Provinces.

SECT. I. Of the extreme Difficulty in procuring Justice at Rome, against any considerable Criminal.

IN a State where Corruption so exceedingly prevailed, both by Faction and Bribery, (for Party corrupts as powerfully as Money) it is no Wonder, to find the Parts resembling the Whole, all tainted by the general Contagion; the People sordid, as well as seditious; the Senators rapacious, as well as profuse; Justice sold, because the Seats of Justice were bought; the Provinces, having cost their Governors great Sums to purchase them, plundered and scraped to the Bone, that the Purchasers might repay themselves Tensold; Oppressors safe; since, having payed a Price for oppressing, they claimed a Right to oppress; and the greatest Criminal never found so, till he was found, first, poor.

Did a distressed Prince or State, even such as were under the Protection of the Roman Commonwealth, apply to the Roman Senate for Relief? It availed little, if the Offender could but prove his Innocence by large Bribes. At best, an Admonition is sent to him to forbear; that is, in Effect, an Order to send fresh Fees to his Judges; and not to forget their Deputies, that these may make a favourable Report. Perhaps, after repeated Complaints and Representations of his barbarous Outrages, and Acts of Tyranny, he is summoned to appear in Person, and to answer the Charge: Still he may deny all, and be believed, (for, why should a Man be condemned upon the Accusation of his Enemies?) if he do but confirm his Denial by more Treasure. Though his Deeds be black as Hell, his Guilt as apparent as the Day, the Suit may depend, and he be safe, for many Years, provided he has large Presents to urge in his Defence.

Whose Crimes were or could be more black, manifest, unprovoked, and crying, than those of Jugurtha? Yet he wanted not many Advocates in the Senate, who, for ready Money, or the Hopes of it, boldly denied them to have been done; or defended them, as done in his own Defence. Such, whom he had traiterously murdered, or whose Murder he was openly pursuing, were said to have laid Plots to murder Him; and, whilst at the Head of a great Army, in the Face of the Sun, he was usurping and ravaging the Dominions of a poor weak Prince, who only fled before him; nay, when he had already usurped those Dominions, still the poor suffering Prince was the Aggressor, and the bloody Jugurtha was vindicated, as forced to Arms, for his own Security against the terrible Attempts of his persecuted, desolate, and forlorn Enemy; whom, having stripped him of all but Life, he soon bereft of That, with all the Circumstances of savage Cruelty.

All this will be fully and finely illustrated in Sallust’s Account of the Jugurthine War.

SECT. II. The wonderful Guilt and Enormities of Verres in Sicily, confidently committed, from Assurance of Impunity. Cicero’s Character of the Judges: Their bold and constant Venality.

WE may be sure, where the Root was so corrupt, the Branches were not sound. If the People were mercenary, if the Senate was venal, and the Government of the Republic vicious and depraved at home, that of the Provinces must be, at least, as bad, or rather much worse. Let us take a View of the Administration of Verres in Sicily.

From the Moment he entered that Island, whither he was sent by the Republic as Governor, to protect the People in their Lives; Properties, and Laws, he applied himself, with all his Might and Malice, with all possible Arts and Violence, to seize their Property, in spite of their Laws; and to destroy both their Laws and Lives, in order to come at their Property. His Government was, literally, a merciless Course of Hostility and Plunder: He beggared the Rich; starved the common People; murdered such as threatened to complain; and, to shew himself an impartial Oppressor, spared neither the Public nor Individuals; but plundered even the Temples of all their Treasure, Statues, and magnificent Furniture; stripped Men of Fortune to the Skin, nay, hanged and whipped them, though Men of the first Dignity, for not consenting to all his Felonies and Plunder.

His Way of spoiling the religious Edifices was not quite so open: He sent Bands of Villains, by Night, to break into them, and carry off their Gold, their Images, and all their curious Ornaments. I forget whether the Statue of Hercules escaped; a Statue so adored in his Temple at Agrigentum, that his Mouth and Beard were worn away with the devout Kisses of his Worshippers: Probably it did not; since it was charged against him, (nor do I remember the Charge to have been denied) that, in all Sicily, an Island so rich, so large, so populous, so abounding in all Curiosities, wonderful Works of Art, and in all sorts of Luxury, he left not one Vase of Silver, or Corinthian Metal; not a Pearl, or Precious-stone; not a single Piece curiously wrought, either in Gold or Ivory; not a Statue of Brass or Marble; not a fine Picture, either painted, or in Tapestry; not a Piece of nice or antique Armour.

When a Pitate-Ship was seized upon the Coasts, Verres, instead of executing the Crew, as by Law and Justice he ought, claudestinely sold and disposed of all that were well-favoured, and all that were Artists among them; them executed, in their room, so many innocent Men, no Matter whom, as if They had been the Pirates.

By such hideous Oppression, this Governor Verres desolated and wasted Sicily, more than any soreign and hostile Army ever had done; more than ever Asdrubal had done, with all his fierce Africans and Mercenaries; more than ever Athenion had done, with all his cruel Host of Vagabonds and Banditti; and the Oppression of Verres proved more consuming than foreign Arms; drove away and destroyed more of the People; nay, utterly discouraged such as remained, from cultivating the Ground; since not they themselves, but a barbarous Magistrate, and his Blood-suckers, were to reap the Harvest. Nay, when the Government of Verres, or, more properly, his Period of plundering, was over, and he gone, it was a hard Task, to engage the poor broken-hearted Sicilians to manure their Fields any more: Indeed, many of them were fled, and could hardly be brought back again: Several, made desperate by his Violence, and the Rapine of his Harpies, to escape Him and Them, laid violent Hands upon themselves; and preferred the Rope, and the Dagger, to the Mercy and Justice of their Governor.

If any Man, under this insupportable Tyranny, dared to appeal to the Law, Verres, who still had the matchless Assurance to talk of Law and Justice, was provided with a Set of proper Judges; all his own Domestics and Freedmen; such as his Physician, his Augur, his Painter, and his Crier. He had the Impudence to declare to some, who seemed determined to stand a Trial, that, if they were condemned, (as he was sure and resolved they should be, by his faithful Knaves the Judges) they should be scourged till they perished under the Lash.

There is no such thing, as a Governor acting the Oppressor and Plunderer, without the Assistance of trusty Knaves and Confidents; such as those of Verres; his Apronius, his Arthemedorus, and many others. Apronius, particularly, a useful Implement, and in proportionable Favour, had always some of the Pillage for himself, for procuring all the rest to his Master. This is a Condition always understood, though not always stipulated, between the Great Thief and his Subaltern Thieves; who sometimes cheat him, if not always; and get as much, perhaps more than He. Nor is there, I believe, an Instance of any ravening Magistrate who was not the Dupe, if not the Property and Slave, of some Creature and Slave of his own: Nor doth it avail, that he is; but it is melancholy and unnatural, to see a great Magistrate, extremely honest and well-meaning, surrounded with dirty Fellows, and governed by them; sometimes very silly Fellows. This often happens, though he knows it not, when all others do; and seldom fails to be the Misfortune of all who possess great Power, together with great Credulity, and great Indolence; since it is a Misfortune, which, I doubt not, will, in some degree, attend the most active and most vigilant great Man. I could name a great and able Minister, famous for sound Judgment, and clean Hands; yet ingrossed, at his Leisure-hours, by Harpy Gamesters, and Jockies of the same Spirit, and miserable Morals; but for the high Honour I have for his Memory.

Verres, amongst his other bad Instruments, entertained Two Artists and Connoisseurs, and employed them to find out Prey for him. They were two Brothers, Tlepolimus and Hiero, Rogues who had fled from their Country for public Robbery; and proved such active Agents for Verres, that no other Way was found of saving any thing valuable from them, but that of bribeing them to dispraise it to their Master.

Verres was not such a Changeling, not to know what he did.----He was well apprised, that it was all against Law and Trust; and played the Tyrant with his Eyes open. What he depended upon was, either to escape Accusation, (for All guilty Magistrates were not tried, though Some were) or to escape Punishment by corrupting his Judges. The Truth is, the Tribunals of Justice were then become infamous: For, by the Power of Sylla, they had been taken from the Roman Knights, who had administered them for Fifty Years without Reproach; and committed to Senators, who were altogether venal. This gave Hopes to Verres; who, being Three Years Prætor or chief Governor of Sicily, proposed to keep the First Year’s Rapine to Himself; to employ that of the Second amongst his Patrons and Defenders; and that of the Third to bribe his Judges.

Was it not glorious Merit, to implead and pursue such a dareing Parricide, and to patronize such as he had oppressed; especially as he was furnished with powerful Advocates, and appeared to have mighty Interest? Yes, such a shocking Parricide, so glareing a Criminal as Verres, one of the blackest that ever lived, had Protectors, many, and able, and potent Protectors: Nor was it any longer a Wonder, when that bloody Usurper Jugurtha, one of the guiltiest Men that ever the World saw, had, by the Force of Gold, engaged so many Grandees; and thence eluded Chastisement for so many Years. Even the famous Orator Hortensius, otherwise a worthy Roman, was not ashamed to plead for Verres; though, according to Cicero, neither Crassus nor Antonius, nor any of the antient Orators, would have appeared in Behalf of such a notorious Profligate. So corrupt were the Romans then grown, particularly the Senators, that it was difficult, indeed scarce possible, to procure common Justice against a Plunderer of their Order, or of any Order, if he had Money enough. Upon this Verres relied; but the Attack of Cicero was so strong, the Charge so heinous, so horrible, and so well proved, that the People took Fire, and his Judges durst not save him.

Justly, therefore, might that great Orator, and invaluable Citizen, say, in his first Discourse against Verres; ‘How can I, at this Conjuncture, become more useful to the State? What can be more acceptable to the People of Rome; what more to the Wishes of our Allies, and even of strange Nations? What more suitable to human Society, and the Felicity of all Men? The Provinces are ravaged, distressed, nay, totally ruined: The confederate, the tributary Countries are squeezed, harrassed, and reduced to Misery, without Hopes of Deliverance; and only hope for some Ease in this their Desolation.’

He deals honestly and frankly with the Judges; and tells them, ‘There is no longer any Integrity, no longer any Conscience, in our Judgments. We (Senators) are considered as nothing: The Roman People scorn and contemn us; and we have been long decried.’ And, as the blackest Parricides were daily acquitted, he exhorts them, ‘To redeem their Order from that Infamy, that public Indignation and Shame, which they had thus drawn upon themselves.’ He adds, that, ‘When Pompey, upon being designed Consul, began, in his Speech to the People, to declare, that he would restore the Tribunals of Justice to their primitive Credit, he was heard with a pleasing Murmur of Applause: But, when he proceeded to complain, that the Provinces were ravaged and undone, the Decisions of the Judges unjust and scandalous; and that, by his Consular Authority, he would remedy these Evils; it was no longer in a low Murmur, but with loud Acclamations, that all the People of Rome expressed their Sentiments and Joy.

‘In this Accusation, and the Result of it, You (says Cicero to them) will judge Verres; but the Roman People will judge You: And Verres will serve for an Example, whether a Man who is extremely guilty, but extremely rich, can be condemned, when Senators are his Judges. So that, if he be acquitted, no Reasons will be found for it, but such as are most infamous and reproachful.’ He adds, that ‘They had now an Opportunity of obliterating that Blemish and Odium, with which, for several Years, the Order of Senators had been branded.’

The Friends of Verres seem to have judged him in no Danger, notwithstanding all his infinite Guilt and Excesses. Timarchides, directing his Brother Freedman Apronius how to act, namely, so as to save their common Master Verres, advised him to offer to All whatever was found expedient; and declares his Opinion, that, to succeed, he need only be liberal.

It appears from hence, how prevalent such Practices then were; and that a corrupt Man thinks no Man incorruptible; though, surely, there are always some such. Worthy was the Answer of Epaminondas to Diomedon of Cyzicus; who had undertaken, to Artaxerxes, to gain over that extraordinary Theban Magistrate and Commander by the Force of Money; and, for that Purpose, came to Thebes with a mighty Sum: ‘There is no need of Money (said Epaminondas): If the King of Persia aim at such Measures as are for the Interest of the Thebans, I am ready to comply with them, without any Reward: If he aim at contrary Measures, All his Wealth suffices not: Nor will I, for the Riches of the Universe, forego my Affection to my Country. At thy Offer I wonder not: Thou hast tried me, because thou didst not know me, and thoughtest me like Thyself. Hasten, however, from hence, lest thou corrupt Others, though thou didst fail in thy Attempt upon Me.’

It might have been easily foreseen, with what Equity Verres was like to govern Sicily, from his Conduct at Rome, during his Prætorship there. In it he sold All things, as well as Justice and Decrees; every Place, every Charge; even Rank, and Order, and Speech; for he exacted great Sums for Liberty of Pleading. He robbed whatever he could reach, not only Silver and Gold, but Ivory and Stone, Pictures, Statues, Cabinets, Furniture, Stuffs, Cloths, Corn, &c. Even Hyrondilla, his Mistress, (a Bond-woman) was then absolute at Rome. To her, Men of the greatest Worth and Quality were forced to make Application, and Presents: Insomuch that, at her House, a great Court was kept, for the Buying of Business, and the Purchase of Pardons and Injustice. Here, says Cicero, new Decrees were daily solicited, with new Laws, and new Judgments. ‘I come, says one, to have Possession granted me. I beg, says another, that Possession may not be taken from me. I, adds a Third, pray, that Process be not issued out against me. And my Suit, says the next, is, that my Effects may be adjudged to me.’ Thus they severally addressed and petitioned. Some payed ready Money; others signed Notes; and her House was crouded with such a Number of Suitors, that it appeared rather like an Exchange, than the Lodgings of a Courtezan.

SECT. III. The Virtue of the old Romans, in the Administration of Justice, and Government of Provinces. Their Posterity, and Successors, how unlike them. The wise and righteous Administration of Cicero, with that of the Provincial Governors in China.

GREAT Wealth had introduced into Rome, what it everywhere introduces, a blind Passion for Wealth, and endless Corruption. It is a Pleasure to look back to better Times and Men, in that mighty Republic; to review the Characters and Conduct of Scipio Africanus, of Lucius Scipio, of Marcus Marcellus, Titus Flaminius, Paulus Æmilius, and Lucius Mummius, Conquerors of great Kingdoms, their clear Hands at Home and Abroad, and their Benevolence to all Men. When we read their Story, how must we detest Verres, and all Oppressors! When we read the Story of Verres, how we must love the above amiable Names, and all who resemble them!

Lucius Mummius having, when Consul, vanquished and taken Corinth, of all the immense Wealth in that famous City, reserved nothing to himself; and died so poor, as to leave his Daughter, and only Child, without a Fortune. Lucius Scipio was so scrupulous, that, when he had broken his Ring, he ordered the Gold for another to be weighed out publickly to the Goldsmith, that there might be no room to cheat the Treasury which furnished it. Quintus Mutius governed Asia with such Integrity and Beneficence, that the Greeks there, upon his Departure, instituted an annual Festival to his Honour, called the Feast of Mutius.

There were found, to the last, some good Governors of the Roman Provinces; but generally they were very bad. The Julian Law, which obliged the Provincial Towns to supply such as travelled through them, under a public Character, with Hay, Salt, and Wood, was terribly stretched and abused. These Commodities were not only demanded from the Towns in which they lay, but from every Town through which they passed; and for these Advantages, which they wanted not, they took an Equivalent in Money, called perhaps a Perquisite, and, by the Force of a dishonest Word, reckoned lawful, though against Law, at least, the reasonable Meaning of Law.

These Governors found infinite Gain, in another Source of notorious Corruption, by levying great Sums from the several Cities and Districts, for excusing them from furnishing Winter Quarters to the Soldiers. Cyprus alone paid to the Governor of Cilicia, to which that Island was annexed, Two Hundred Attic Talents, computed at near Forty Thousand Pounds Sterling. Doubtless, nothing but the Dread of terrible Vengeance, for refusing so barbarous a Demand, could have brought the Cypriots to submit to it. Nor was the Governor the only Oppressor; his Lieutenants, and all his Officers and Followers, were Oppressors too. Nay, Stripes, with cruel Insults and Contumelies, exercised upon the Persons of the Plundered, never failed to accompany the Plunder. Scaptius, an Officer and Creature of the Governor of Cilicia, beset the Senate of Salamine, in the same Island, with a Body of Horse, and confined them so long together, that Five of them died of Hunger; I suppose, in order to force them into some lusty Boon, as well as into the Payment of a Debt due at Rome, which was the avowed Pretence.

It was not enough, that the Public provided Shipping, and Money, and whatever else was necessary, for the Journey of the Governors of Provinces, to prevent all Pretence of any Demand upon the poor People, sufficiently burdened with public Impositions. The Lust of Gain, and unbridled Rule, proved too hard for Law, and every other Consideration. Nay, what is most remarkable of all, the wretched Asiatics, so much oppressed by that very Governor of Cilicia, were prevailed with to send a solemn Deputation to Rome, at a vast Expence, to thank him publicly there. This extraordinary Practice was, however, not singular: The People of Messina, a great City in Sicily, dispatched the like Deputation to Rome, there publicly to praise that Monster Verres for his good Administration. We may guess how such Deputations were procured.

Cicero was the succeeding Governor in Cilicia; a blessed Change for the People! a public Saviour for a public Plunderer! He found them utterly unable to pay their Taxes: All their Revenues were mortgaged; nothing but Poverty, Groans, and Wailings, with all the Traces of a Government, not exercised by a human Creature over those of his own Kind, but by a wild Beast of Prey, ravaging human Society. No Wonder that they were charmed with the mild and virtuous Administration of Cicero. Yet, his Predecessor, far from being punished for his furious Misrule, was chosen into the most awful Office of the State, and created Censor. He was a Man, indeed, of high Quality, and high Spirit, and, which may seem wonderful, filled that sublime Station with great Integrity, as well as Vigour; indeed more strictly than was expedient for that critical Conjuncture, as I have already elsewhere observed.

From this his very opposite Administration of different Offices, I am inclinable to think, that, when Censor, he acted in his own Person; when Governor, left his Authority in the Hands of his Officers and Followers; as it often happens, that the best Men make the worst Governors, since they exert not their best Qualities, and, bearing only the Name, blindly trust others with the Discharge of their Duty. For, though the Spirit and Behaviour of Men be strangely various, yet it is not usually wont to change so suddenly and intirely, from a constant Course of Violence and Injustice, to a constant Course of invincible Probity and Justice.

Cicero, in his Journey to his Government, travelled wholly at his own Expence, and proved burdensome to none. He would not accept even the Benefit of the Julian Law. All his Retinue observed the same Moderation. He considered himself as employed to procure the Good of Mankind, with the Blessings and Praises of all such as he protected, and even of all whom he oppressed not, nor suffered to be oppressed. Such Virtue was then too rare, but thence the more glorious to him. Like other great and worthy Minds, he scorned to take every base Advantage from his Place. As he behaved himself, so did those about him; observing his Conduct, consulting his Honour, and following his Example. About a corrupt Man, every thing will be corrupt. Cicero was too quick, and attentive, to suffer his Administration to be stained by the Venality, or Oppression, of his Creatures, whilst his own Hands and Heart, and whole Conduct, were so clear, and so virtuously exercised, to procure the Ease and Felicity of the Province. It was therefore a just and honourable Testimony given of him by the famous Cato, ‘That the Excellency of his Government deserved high Praise; and, if public Honours were bestowed upon Virtue, as well as upon Victory, Cicero could never have too many.’

Cicero believed that it was the Duty of all Generals, and Governors of Provinces, to be content with the Glory of a righteous Administration, without any other Advantage. Nihil enim prætor laudem bonis atque innocentibus, neque ex hostibus, neque a sociis repetendum. The Conquests of Marcus Marcellus, in Sicily, were not more glorious to himself and the Commonwealth, than his Faith, and Disinterestedness, and Humanity, towards the Conquered. Such an Administration, brought not only high Glory to Rome, and her Magistrates, but equal Security and Strength. But such good Rule was far from being constant or universal. It grew common for the Roman Rulers, sent to rescue the Provinces from a foreign Enemy, to oppress and plunder them afterwards, with equal Violence, and continue it longer, and turn a small and temporary Deliverance into a severe and lasting Tyranny. A dreadful Circumstance to the Provinces, when they durst neither submit to Invaders, nor apply for Succours against them, nor forbear to apply. Thus the Roman Armies became more terrible than an Enemy’s Army. The Countries suffered less from a merciful Conqueror, than from their Governors afterwards, when they were intitled to Law and Protection. The natural Consequence was, that, when Rome lost her Liberty, the Provinces, long oppressed by her Citizens, readily complied with the Change, and submitted to the Government of the Cæsars.

Rare then were such good Governors from Rome as Cicero proved, and rare the Punishment of bad there. Almost all the great Men were corrupt, and, as in a common Cause, stood by one another. They who were to judge the Criminal, had been either Criminals, or expected to be; and therefore were little disposed to punish him for what they had practised, or were determined to practise, themselves. The lawful Gain of such Governments seemed small, without oppressing for more; and thus most of them undertook them purposely to oppress; for they were generally indigent, or rapacious, or both; and, as they were always Men of great Quality, who are not always the most virtuous, they ever depended upon powerful Protection at home.

Caius Macer, Governor of Asia, when accused for his lawless Administration there, before Cicero, then Prætor, though notoriously guilty, yet trusted so strongly to the Credit and Intercession of the renowned Marcus Crassus, his Kinsman, as boldly to put off his mourning Habit, which Men under Arraignment always wore; nor would he have been condemned by his Judges, notwithstanding all his Guilt, had it not been by the Power and Management of Cicero.

The famous Catiline was roundly acquitted of the like Charge, brought against him by the People of Africa, where he had been Governor; though his Guilt was as glaring as the Sun at Noonday: Nay, he impudently stood Candidate for the supreme Office of the Commonwealth, that of Consul, whilst he was yet under Arraignment.

When the Judges, appointed to try the wild and abandoned Clodius, desired a Guard for their Security; Catulus, who knew that they had been corrupted, asked them, If it was through Fear that the Money, with which they had been bribed, should be taken from them?

Lentulus, he who afterwards conspired with Catiline, having bribed his Judges, and being acquitted by a Majority of Two, declared publicly, that he regretted the Money given to one of them.

Had not, therefore, Caius Gracchus good Grounds to press the People of Rome, to transfer the Tribunals from the Senators to the Equestrian Order, when he urged, with so much Truth, that the Plebeians must never expect Justice, in any Dispute with the Nobility, when the Criminals themselves, or their Friends and Relations, sat as Judges? He alleged two recent Examples, of Cornelius Cotta, and Marcus Acilius, two principal Senators, guilty of scandalous Extortion undeniably proved, but suffered to escape Punishment, through the Corruption and Pattiality of their Judges.

Du Vignau relates a remarkable Instance of Avarice, Corruption, and Oppression, in the prime Vizier Cara Mustapha; that as he took the Tribute of Moldavia in Cattle, chiefly in Goats, such numerous Flocks were driven from thence to Constantinople, that, to make the most of them, he forced that great City to eat no other Meat but Goats Flesh for several Days together, till the Whole was consumed. Nuuman Bashaw, of the famous Family of Kuproli, Grand Vizier to the late deposed Sultan Achmet, had a more merciful Spirit. When that Prince, who was extremely covetous, and void of all Tenderness for his Subjects, had determined to break the Truce with the Czar of Muscovy, as the War could not be carried on without laying new and heavier Taxes upon the People, he ordered such to be forthwith raised. The Vizier first represented, that it was impossible; for that nothing ought to be levied upon the Subjects but what the Law and their Prophet prescribed: Then, perceiving such merciful Counsel to be displeasing to Achmet, he added, boldly, that, if he liked it nor, he must chuse another Vizier better skilled in the Arts of Oppression, like some that he had had not long before.

However great the Power be of the Provincial Mandarins in China, it is not sufficient to support them in the Exercise of their Charge, unless they act with such Benevolence, and public Spirit, as to be reputed the Fathers, as well as Governors, of the People. They therefore strive to enrich their Provinces, and employ the People profitably: They even extend their Cares to all Quarters and Persons. One of the Occupations of these great Mandarins is likewise to instruct the People, which they do with great Assiduity and Gravity twice a Month, upon important moral Subjects, upon all public and private Duties, in a plain Style, by Arguments obvious to their Understandings; without any Terms of Ambiguity and Strife, or distracting the Heads of the poor People with Chimeras, Subtleties, and egregious Nonsense.

The Mandarins are supposed, by such frequent Instructions, so to form the Minds and Morals of the People, as to prevent the Commission of all notable Crimes; and, when such Crimes happen, the Mandarin is answerable for them, or obliged, at least, to find out and punish the Criminals: Nay, he is sometimes turned out of the Government, where such Crimes prevail, merely because they prevail; for that they are supposed to proceed from his little Care in instructing the People.

It is from such Institutions as these, that the Chinese Provinces surpass all the Nations of the Earth in Numbers, as that Government, in general, does in good Policy, and consequently in Felicity; insomuch that, in Compation with the Antiquity and Stability of the Government of China, all the Governments of the Earth besides are but of Yesterday.

DISCOURSE VIII. Of Civil Wars.

SECT. I. Who the first Authors of Civil War: What inslames it most, and why it is so hard to be checked.

SALLUST, in recounting the many Causes operating at Rome towards Civil War, mentions the Spirit of Disaffection, like a Contagion, seizing the Minds of Men; some out of Place, eager to be in; others, ill using their Power; many, desperate in their Affairs, and hoping to mend them by the Calamities of the State: The Poverty of the Vulgar, who had Hopes to Win, without Danger of Losing; all Criminals, all vicious, prodigal, and desperate Men, flocking from all Quarters to Rome; Numbers admiring the Times and Usurpation of Sylla, whence common Soldiers were raised to the Dignity of Senators, and to the Riches of Kings; all the Descendents of such whose Estates were then forfeited; all Parties who were angry at the Senate, and would rather see the State in Confusion, than themselves deprived of Sway.

How well the Effects agree with such powerful and discouraging Causes, I hope the following Discourse will shew.

As Faction proves often the Beginning and Cause of Civil War, Civil War, which is the last and highest Effort of Faction, has but one certain Way of curing Faction; that is, by the Extinction of Law and Liberty; of that very Liberty, which, being wantonly stretched and abused, ends in destroying itself. Thus they, who having too much Liberty, and yet still contended for more, as if they that could bear none had not enough, became Slaves in their Pursuit of Freedom. Neither is there a more certain Sign, or more effectual Cause, of Slavery, than Liberty pushed to Licentiousness, which, by making all Men Masters, must soon reduce all Masters to one. So that Anarchy, which is Power assumed by All; and Tyranny, which is all Power exercised by One; though very distant in Sound, are nearer to each other in Effect, than many things that have greater Conformity of Names.

And as they, who under the Pretence of vindicating or supporting Liberty when it is not hurt, nor lessened, nor attacked, incense the People against their lawful Rulers, or disable their lawful Rulers from well governing the People, are the Authors of Faction, and Promoters of a Civil War; so they who are possessed of lawful Power, and abuse it by using it unlawfully, or assume more than they have, and from Magistrates turn Oppressors, are accountable for all the Mischief that follows such public Provocation and Insolence; especially when they persevere in their arbitrary Doings, after all Remonstrances, and in spight of all Warnings; and, by so doing, manifest a settled Intention and Rancour against the People, and their Liberties. For the People, for their own Sakes, ought to try all Expedients with Patience, before they try the Sword, which may serve to cut them off, as well as to save them; and therefore never to trust to it, (for Civil War is a terrible Lottery) till they have full Proof, that they have nothing else to trust to; and then, Woe be to the Aggressors! Let the Merit and Result of all Civil Wars, as also the Pretensions of all Princes, and all People, who have engaged in them, be tried by this Rule.

Power unrestrained, and Liberty uncontrouled, are both apt to make Men wanton and insolent; Magistrates to despise and oppress their People; the People to defy and insult their Magistrates; and therefore both have a direct Tendency to produce Civil Wars. The Magistrate will strive to maintain, and consequently to extend, his Power; as will the People, to secure and increase their Liberty and Independence. He pleads his Authority, they their Rights; both deny each others Claims: He prepares to use Force, they to resist it. Thenceforward he treats them as Rebels; they him as an Usurper: That is, they commence on both Sides open Enemies, and bring the Contest to the Decision of the Sword; which, when it is once drawn, measures Right and Reason only by Success; maintains Justice and Protection by killing and destroying; settles Property by seizing it; and, whoever has the sharpest Weapon, has the best Cause.

Whoever would kindle a Civil War, for whatever Ends, good or bad, needs only set it on Foot; that is, bring the opposite Sides to shed one another’s Blood; and then it will go on of itself but too naturally and freely. Mutual Hatred, which may subsist, at least awhile, without Violence, becomes then mutual Vengeance, ravening after Sacrifices, and human Slaughters; and both Parties, having the same Provocation, and the same furious Pursuit, must needs act implacably, and delight in afflicting, distressing, and butchering one another(a).

In Wars between Nation and Nation, the Individuals of each, not knowing one another, can have no reciprocal Aversion, or Bitterness, from personal Causes and Distaste; so that the Rage of the Commonalty is chiefly Personal to the opposite Chief; as the English hated Lewis XIV. and the French hated King William III. At least such personal Hate extended no further than a few remarkable Officers in both Armies, such as had distinguished themselves by their Bravery and Success, or, perhaps, by their Cruelty. The Bulk of both Armies were animated towards each other, only by a general Enmity, which has nothing of the Rancour arising from particular Enmities of one Man towards another.

Thus Civil War comes to be more fierce and outrageous than other Wars. In other Wars, the Particulars fight for Pay, or Plunder; but here, Family Animosities are superadded, with the Emulation of Neighbours; and the Dispute is not only between Men and Men, for Rule and Command, which can fall into the Hands of but One, or a Few; but it is a Conflict between Individuals, between Subject and Subject, Thomas and Peter, upon private Antipathy, and for personal Injuries. And whereas Quarrels between Nation and Nation, as they arise upon certain Points, easily known, and not many in Number, may be adjusted by settling, or giving up, these Points; and it is generally in the Power and Option of one Man, or a few of each Nation, so to adjust them; since each Nation leaves it to their Civil Governors, as to begin such Wars, so to end them; it is quite otherwise in Civil Wars: For then the Civil Government is not known, at least not owned, by both the contending Parties; and the Points of Contention are as infinite, as the Caprices, Animosities, Pursuits and Sufferings of particular Men.

SECT. II. The chief Power in a Civil War, vested in the Generals, yet little reverenced by the Soldiers. Both Soldiers and People grow hardened and ungovernable.

IT is not in the Power of any General (for they own no other than that of their General) to satisfy, nor consequently to controul, the Demands of the Subalterns and Soldiers, who, in Civil Wars, have often more Authority than their Commander. For, though his Power, in its Nature, be absolute; yet, as he can exercise none without their Leave and Assistance, they seldom leave him more than squares with their own good Liking. Sylla, as cruel and ambitious as he was, endeavoured to end the Civil War by an Offer of fair Terms: But no Peace could please such as had engaged in it, upon Views altogether immoderate and pernicious.

‘The Generals of the Party, (says Tacitus, speaking of that of Vespasian) Men so vigorous and puissant in kindling the Civil War, were found insufficient to controul the Spirit of Victory.’ When they had conqueted all their Enemies, they could not controul their own Men. The Reason which he assigns, is very just: ‘In exciting public Tumults, even the worst Men have the greatest Sway: But to uphold Peace, righteous Measures, and virtuous Management, are required.’ He had been just recounting the miserable State of Rome, immediately after that Victory; that ‘The Streets were filled with Carnage, and mangled Coarses; the Temples, and Places of public Resort, were dyed and streaming with Blood; and all were butchered, who presented themselves to the destroying Sword. Anon, private Houses were searched, and such as lay hid there were dragged out; and every-where the Tall and Youthful were murdered without Mercy or Exception. This Cruelty, when glutted with Blood and Killing, was strait changed to Rapaciousness; all Places were broken and plundered, and Murder always attended Opposition. The indigent Populace were as busy as cruel, and as rapacious as the Soldiers. Slaves betrayed their Lords; as did one Friend another:—On all Sides Wailing, and the Voice of Anguish, with the miserable Spectacle of a City stormed and sacked; yet they who caused the Calamity, could bring no Relief.’

The Prince, or the General of an Army, may, perhaps, have Authority enough to order any egregious Mischief to be done; such as burning or plundering a City, or putting worthy Men, and innocent People, to the Sword; but have no Power to prevent any, especially the worst Mischiefs from being done; as was the Case of Otho; and the same may be observed of almost all Generals, in all Civil Wars.

It was so even with Cæsar, the most able and most successful Commander in Rome; it was so with Augustus, a Prince, fortunate beyond most that ever reigned; both forced to wink at Sallies of Rage and Excesses in their Officers, which, sometimes at least, they would gladly have prevented: It was the Case of Cromwell, whose Agitators, a Faction raised in the Army by himself, and encouraged by him for Purposes of his own, to represent and assert the Interest of the Soldiery, became at last so formidable to him, that he was forced to venture a bold Stroke, and even his Life, to quell them.

It was also the Case of the Duke of Mayenne with the Junto of Sixteen at Paris, Men selected from the several Quarters of that City, as the ablest and most determined Demagogues, to oppose the Parliament, to inflame the People, and keep up the furious Spirit of the Ligue; and, at first, they did him notable Service, as the Agitators did Cromwell; but as soon as they found their own Strength and Influence, they began to assume sovereign Power, to act for Themselves, and not for Him; committing the most barbarous Injustice and Cruelties upon all Sorts of Men, and dooming Magistrates of the most venerable Character and Rank to the Gallows, and the like ignominious Punishment; amongst others the President Brisson, the great Light of the Law, and of public Justice: Insomuch that the Duke de Mayenne was obliged to have recourse to Violence on His Side too; and executed several of these his own Instruments, and subordinate Leaders.

These Demagogues had even a Chance for continuing their Authority without him, and in spite of him; as, probably, they would, at least for a time, if they and the Army had but agreed to have supported each other; as sometimes, in Civil Dissentions, the People and the Soldiers, that is, the Incendiaries who influence both, agree in Measures of Anarchy and Fury, though seldom in those of equal Righteousness, and common Good. Thus, at Constantinople, the Populace and the Janizaries frequently go Hand in Hand to pull down and butcher their Rulers, both supreme and subordinate, and to set up others; but never once propose, much less concert, any Scheme to secure themselves, and all Men, against the Excesses of their future Rulers; Excesses arising naturally and necessarily from the Frame of their Government, of which they are very fond, and see no Fault in it; nay, despise all other Governments, such, especially, as provide best for public Security, by limiting the Power of the Governors. The Turks daily feel and rue the dreadful Rigour of their own brutal Sovereignty; but see no further than the Men who administer it; and, therefore, aim only at Them, like a Dog that bites the Stone which is thrown at him. They murder and dethrone, without mending their Condition; and satiate their Vengeance, without finding Amends or Restitution.

In former Ages, too, during the Reign of the Greek Emperors, in all the frequent Insurrections, and dethroning of Princes, the common People were as forward as the Soldiers; and no Imperial City was ever more fertile in Revolutions even then: For the Emperors, though the State abounded in Laws, and they professed to rule by Law, yet generally ruled without and against Law; and, supporting unjust Power by Violence, exposed themselves to be used violently; and thence furnished an eternal Source of Revolts, Massacres, and Civil Wars.

Hence, too, from the Frequency of the Evil (and Civil War, which infers all Evils, is, consequently the greatest of all) People grow hardened, lose all Horror of public Calamities and Confusion, and become disposed, if not to encourage, at least not to oppose, what they would otherwise have considered with Dread and Abhorrence, and ventured their Lives to prevent.

In the last Struggle between the Armies of Vitellius and Vespasian, even in the Streets of Rome, the People, instead of being doleful and affrighted Witnesses, instead of bewailing the public Lot, and the Curse of Civil Arms, and of feeling Anguish for their native City, the Pride and Mistress of the Earth, now wallowing and defiled with the Blood of Romans, as well as of Barbarians; instead of Concern for her Property, and the Lives of her Citizens, for her Beauty and Buildings, and even for her Being, all at the Mercy of the Sword and Flames, were so little affected with such Sympathy, and tender Concern, that, ‘They were gathered as curious Spectators about the Combatants; and, as if they had been only attending the Representation of a Sight exhibited for public Amusement and Sport, they favoured and espoused now These, anon Those, with theatrical Shouts and Clappings: Nay, as often as either Side recoiled, and Particulars had fled into Houses, or lay hid in Shops, they insisted upon their being dragged out and slain; and thus came Themselves to enjoy the largest Part of the Prey: For, whilst the Soldiers were only pursuing Blood and Slaughter, the Spoil fell to the Possession of the Commonalty. Tragical and ghastly was the Face of the whole City: In one Place deadly Conflicts, and bleeding Wounds; in another luxurious Bathings, and Feats of Riot; everywhere Blood in Streams, and Carcases in Piles; yet just at Hand wanton Harlots, or such as resembled Harlots; Acts of Debauchery and Voluptuousness, as extravagant as ever were practised during a Season of Luxury and Repose; with all the Barbarities attending the most merciless Captivity: Insomuch that you would have thought the same City, at once, transported with brutal Outrage, and abandoned to sensual Revellings. Rome had before seen contending Armies in her Streets; where Sylla twice remained Conqueror, and once Cinna; nor was there then less Cruelty exercised: But now, amongst Men, there prevailed an Unconcern and Security perfectly inhuman; nor, for a single Moment, were their Pursuits of Pleasure postponed: Nay, as if this Confusion and Carnage had seasonably intervened to heighten the Gaiety of their festival Days, they exulted, they pampered and indulged, to both Parties utterly indifferent, and triumphing in public Miseries.’ This Account we have from Tacitus.

SECT. III. The shocking Corruption, and dissolute Manners, produced by Civil War; with the dreadful Barbarities and Devastations attending it.

AS Civil War hardens the Heart, it likewise debauches all Degrees of Men. It furnishes Men of Ambition with a Prospect of raising themselves to Power; and animates the Avaricious and Indigent with Hopes of Plunder: It enures People to Sights and Acts of Cruelty; and thence banishes or lessens their natural Tenderness and Humanity, and teaches them to despise the Laws, and, consequently, Right and Wrong, by perceiving all these daily trampled under Foot: Insomuch that, at the End of one Civil War, there are always Numbers who wish for another; and always forward to begin it, as a ready way to grow considerable, if they be low; to grow rich, without much Labour, if they be poor and rapacious; to be revenged on their Enemies, if they be vindictive; to live without Restraint, if they be debauched and licentious; and without Fear, if they be obnoxious to Punishment and Restraint, for Debt, and Disorder, and Crimes(a).

All Revolutions are Seasons of wonderful Latitude and Licence, as well as of strange Vicissitudes, and sudden Turns, where the Wicked are often rewarded, at least saved, and the Harmless punished. Cornelius Aquinas and Fabius Valens, having sollicited Fonteius Capito to rebel against Galba, and Capito (though otherwise a Man far from virtuous) having rejected their Sollicitations, they charged him with the very Treason which he refused to commit, and slew him as a Traitor. The Murderers of Galba boasted of being so, and even craved a Reward; many at once assuming that horrible Merit.

The Evils which any Civil War, however short, produces, are so many and shocking, as to deter every honest and humane Mind from every Step that tends to raise one; as in it neither Life nor Property is secure, but even exposed to continual Peril and Violence: When Innocence is a Snare, and the Laws no longer protect; when Men follow only the Bent of their worst Passions; when the Ties of Morality are dissolved, with those of Society; and even those of Consanguinity and Nature are disregarded; when blind Force dictates, and the Weak and Unoffending must bleed or obey; when the Lowest and Worst Men are daily prospering and rising, merely, perhaps, for being the worst; and the Greatest and Worthiest are destroyed or depressed, probably for that Reason only; when the vilest Instruments are encouraged and supported, and Wealth and Virtue subject to their Malice and Rapine, without Protection or Appeal; when the Magistrate’s Authority is defied by the Officer, that of the Officer by his Men; when the common Soldiers are Masters, and the licentious Rabble fear no Restraint; when the Works and Monuments of Ages, with the noblest Efforts of human Genius, are destroyed in an Hour; and Cities, which gloried in Opulence and Antiquity, reduced at once to Ashes by a few Incendiaries, perhaps in a Whim, or from Mistake, or in a drunken Fit; all their numerous and wealthy Inhabitants either burnt, or begging, or sold to Slavery, or murdered, for Want of Money to redeem them; the old Men dragged about in Derision, then butchered, as useless; the young Men committed to Bonds; the young and virtuous Women forced to bear the Embraces of Brutes yet reeking with the Blood of their Mothers and Fathers and Brothers, shed in their Sight, for endeavouring to save these their dear Children, or Sisters, or Wives, from Brutality and Dishonour; a Lot worse than Death.

It was the Design of the Soldiery, after they had murdered Galba, (for which Murder they had no Pretence, but their own vile Avarice, and his ill-timed Frugality) to have their Hands let loose to general Pillage and Massacte, and to bring to Destruction every able and every worthy Man in the Roman State. Thus they vehemently pressed the Death of Marius Celsus for his Abilities and Virtues; which they dreaded and abhorred as dangerous Crimes.

Guilty Men are always disposed to revolt, like the Soldiers of Nymphidius, Captain of the Prætorian Guards to Nero; like the Soldiers of Vindex in Gaul, and the Armies in Germany. They had all been engaged in treasonable Designs; and, being conscious of such Engagements, continued prone to every Act of Treason. The Soldiery then, having been long accustomed to the base Reign of Nero, came to admire the Vileness and Vices of their Princes, as much as the Armies of old had adored their Virtues; as Tacitus observes. It was, therefore, no Wonder, what otherwise would seem very wonderful, that Two common Soldiers should undertake to transfer the great Roman Empire from one Prince to another; and actually so transferred it, as the Minds of all the rest were before foured and prepared.

In a Civil War, as both Parties are generally implacable, and determined to carry their Point, general Cruelty and Devastation, and even general Destruction, must ensue, till it is ended by a general Victory; which can hardly happen, till after infinite Havock and Misery. Cicero says, ‘The Civil Dissentions between popular and powerful Men (he means the Heads of Parties) never used to have any other Issue than universal Desolation, with the Domination of the Conqueror, and settled Tyranny. Sylla, when Consul, in his Descent very noble, in his Person very brave, had a Contest with the celebrated Marius; each of these was vanquished and sell, yet so that each again became Conqueror, and exercised sovereign Sway. Between the Consul Octavius, and his Collegue Cinna, Discord arose; to both these Fortune, proving propitious, presented absolute Rule; and upon both these Fortune, turning cross, brought their mortal Doom.’

Even during the Peace ensuing these Civil Wars, the Sword continued drawn(a), and was employed against such as had quietly surrendered. Sylla, for Example, not satisfied with the Slaughter of above Seventy thousand Men at his Entrance into Rome, commanded several Thousand Roman Citizens, submitting to his Power, and unarmed, to be openly massacred in the midst of Rome; besides the Carnage committed every-where by his Men, at their Pleasure; till Furfidius advised them, for their own Sake, to let some live, else they would have none to rule, or rather to domineer over. Then followed the bloody Proscription, the most daring and dreadful Butchery of all, that of Two thousand distinguished Romans, selected from the Senate and Equestrian Order. Nay, shedding their Blood was not enough: Some illustrious Men were torn leisurely Limb from Limb, their Eyes pulled out, their Legs and Arms rent from their Trunks, still breathing, and thus exposed as a Shew. The Destruction of Communities succeeded that of Men, and the most illustrious free Cities in Italy were confiscated, and even sold by Auction, such as Florence, Præneste, Spoletum, &c.

When Fortune had declared for Vitellius, Italy suffered Calamities more oppressive and barbarous than she had during the War. The Soldiers, quartered in the great Towns, let themselves loose to Spoil and Ravage, to Cruelty and Pollution; following Rapine, or compounding at a Price to forbear; sparing neither things Sacred nor Profane. Some assumed the Garb of Soldiers, thus safely to kill their particular Enemies. The Soldiers themselves, marking out for Plunder all the rich Farms, where they met Resistance, devoted both these, and the Owners, to Fire and Sword.—Nor dared their Generals to restrain them, being themselves guilty, and quite awed by their Men. For,

To engage them thoroughly in the Civil War, general Licentiousness was one of the great Baits offered and allowed them by the contending Chiefs: Insomuch that not only the Butchering of all their own Centurions, remarkable for Discipline, was connived at; but they were allowed to chuse others in their Places, and then they always chose the least qualified, and the most seditious. So that it was no Wonder to see the Soldiers no longer under the Controul of their Leaders, nor the Leaders forced headlong by the Fury of the Soldiers(a).

It is to be observed too, that the less regular and brave Soldiers are, the more licentious, and disobedient, and merciless they are. Tacitus says, that, ‘As, amongst the Soldiers of old, to surpass each other in Modesty, and Feats of Valour, was their only Contention, they at this time (that is, during the Civil War) vied in Impudence and Mutinies.’ Hence they were continually destroying, or demanding the Destruction of, their Commanders. When they themselves had been guilty of any remarkable Violence, or Cowardice, they were sure to punish their Officers, especially the Brave and Innocent: And, if sometimes they became ashamed of their Madness, their wild Fears, and Mistakes, and for a little while relented, their former Fury and Folly soon returned. As, these Outrages were common to whole Legions, one Legion encouraged another in them; and as some Legions thought, that, by the Sedition of others, their own was obliterated, they all rejoiced in repeating their Guilt. Sometimes they were animated to these Acts of Sedition and Blood by one Commander, in order to get rid of others, that the whole Sway and Praise might remain with himself. But whatever was the Cause of such repeated Guilt, they were almost eternally guilty. When they were not doing Mischief in a Body, they crept singly into private Houses, in disguised Habits, as Spies, watching for Matter of Accusation and Ruin, against Men of Wealth and Eminence: So that as no Man was safe at Home, every Man lived in Fear there.

Neither was it against the Insufficiency, or Infidelity, of their Leaders, that they were apt thus to rage. They were often, on the contrary, ready to prompt and encourage such Infidelity. Who was a more able, who a more unblameable, and even admired Commander than Germanicus? Yet, with what Outrage did they use him; drag him from his Bed, and threaten his Life, scorning his Authority, and proceeding to general Mutiny, and Acts of Blood, before his Face; after they had tempted him, in vain, to usurp the Empire himself? Where was there a more loathsome and contemptible Character than that of Vitellius, a Glutton, more resembling a Swine than a Man; yet, in such high Estimation with the Soldiers, that hardly had any Man ever gained such an Interest in their Hearts by worthy Methods, as he had by mere Impotence, Gluttony, and Sloth? We have this Account of him, and them, upon the Authority of Tacitus. All the military Virtues and grand Capacity of that mighty Captain, the great Marshal de Turenne, could not secure to him the Attachment of his Army, when he had declared for the Party of the Slingers, in the Minority of Lewis XIV. against the base Administration of Mazarine. The Cardinal’s Money bribed them all from him in the Space of a Night.

Otho too was the Favourite of the Soldiers, in a very high Degree, by the Force of much Flattery, and profuse Bounty; yet neither Otho nor Vitellius could prevent their Fury and Excesses. In Sight of Vitellius, and in Spight of him, they first besieged, and then burnt, the Capitol, the Glory, and Strength, and Boast of Rome. In spight of Otho, upon a foolish Suspicion and Mistake, some of them drunk, all of them mad for Plunder, they murdered their Officers, and entered Rome like a hostile Army, breathing Destruction to all Men; but especially to the Senate, whom, in express Terms, they professed to butcher. They even burst open the Palace-Doors, to his own great Dread, as well as of all about him; neither could he effectually quell their Fury, even by unmanly Sobs, and Tears, and servile Supplications, till to these he added, what was of more Force, indeed the only Means of Safety and Peace, a Donative. During this dreadful Uproar, Persons of the first Rank in Rome fled by Night for their Lives; Magistrates without their Ensigns and Train; tender Ladies, and antient Noblemen, roaming hither and thither in the Dark, few returning to their own Homes; most seeking lurking Holes amongst the Lowest of their Dependents.

SECT. IV. The Soldiery, in a Civil War, only consider themselves: What low Instruments and Causes serve to begin and continue it.

THE Soldiery, in all Civil Wars, generally consider neither the Cause, nor the Commander; but only Themselves, and Licentiousness, and Rapine. When News were brought to the Army in Gaul, that Galba was murdered, and the Sovereignty devolved upon Otho, such News moved not the Spirit of the Soldiery, either with Grief, or Joy; for their Spirit was only intent upon War, without regarding for whom, or for what. Sometimes they committed the most horrid Mischiefs and Cruelties, even without View to Plunder, or any Provocation, or any Passion for Spoil, but from sudden Rage and Madness, and Causes unknown, and thence the harder to be remedied. At Dividurum, a City of Gaul, the Soldiers under Fabius Valens, General to Vitellius, though they were received into it with every Degree of Frankness and Complaisance, were seized with a causeless Frensy, and instantly grasped their Swords to massacre the unoffending Citizens; and, before they could be appeased, slaughtered Four Thousand.

It is always too easy to inflame a Croud; for, whether armed or unarmed, they are alike liable to be deceived, and consequently to commit Acts of Rage; as they are alike apt to listen more to Passion and Lyes, both soon raised, than to Truth and Reason, which, to be successful, require Time, and Temper, and Attention. Any miserable Knave, that can Speak loud, and Lye lustily, or even Whisper craftily, is capable of raising such Mutinies and Insurrections, (especially in Civil Wars) as the best Capacity, and highest Authority, cannot quell; whether he affrighten them with Apprehensions of severer Discipline, or the Want or Reduction of their Pay, or of harder Quarters, or of Stripes or Dismission, or that they are never to be dismissed, or that some of their Brethren, for being just to the Body, have been privately dispatched by the General, or with any other Grievance, however false and improbable, (for, to the Multitude, the most monstrous Absurdities, strongly asserted, appear true, as do the greatest Follies important) they will credit his Forgeries, because they think him their Friend, though he be indeed their worst Enemy, sooner than Truth from an honest Man, whom they are taught to esteem their Enemy, though in reality their Friend.

Any counterfeit Knave, who boldly personates any Prince, or Leader, slain or dead, finds presently Followers; these Followers daily increase; and, more zealous for Deceit than for true Information, will consequently be more eager to restore him, than to forsake him: And thus, for a miserable Lye, Civil Wars have begun, and been carried on with infinite Obstinacy and Blood. This Country, and many others, afford Instances of this Sort.

There can hardly be a greater Example, how easily, and from what small Causes, Civil Wars rise, even to the greatest Height, than the great Revolution which produced the dethroning of Edward IV. and the Restoration of Henry VI. It began from a little Story, in a remote Part of the Kingdom, about defrauding an Hospital of some Corn. The Populace, hearing this Story told, (perhaps maliciously, though truly) fell tumultuously upon the Officers employed to collect it; and their Resentment was so well improved, that what was at first a Riot, from private Passion, whether of Charity or Avarice, became an Insurrection against the State, and overturned it. The great Revolution in China, which brought that mighty State, in 1644 under the Dominion of the Tartars, where it has ever since remained, was so suddenly accomplished, that the capital City was taken, and even the outward Court of the Palace, before the Emperor knew a Word of his own Danger. Matters, indeed, and the Minds of Men, were well prepared by his oppressive Reign, which naturally produced sore Discontents, as these did strong Factions, and Factions did Revolts. An Incident, not great in itself, being altogether of a private Nature, contributed greatly to the first Triumvirate, so fatal to the Roman State. Cæsar intrigued with Mutia, Pompey’s Wife, whom therefore Pompey divorced. This so affronted her Brother Metellus Celer, the Consul, that he opposed all Pompey’s Views, especially of ratifying his Conduct in the War against Mithridates, and of obtaining Lands for his Soldiers. Under this Difficulty he fell into the ruinous League with Cæsar and Crassus.

Old Villeroy says, in his Memoirs, that one of the great Causes of the Mischiefs which befel Henry III. and France under him, his tragical End, the fierce Ligue, and the bloody Civil War, was his changing the Form of expediting Royal Grants and Donations, subject, before that, to be controuled by proper Officers, who could not pass them when not agreeable to old Forms and Regulations, which were an excellent Guard to the Crown, and a Security against the King’s being surprised into extravagant Concessions, to their own great Hurt and Impoverishing, as well as that of their Subjects, and against the Influence and sudden Rise of worthless Favourites and Flatterers. Yet these Favourites and Flatterers had too much Success with a young King, naturally generous, and fond of Rule without Restraint, when they told him, ‘It was beneath a Monarch, to have his Will and Commands controuled by his Subjects.’ The Consequence was, his Profuseness made him poor; his Poverty made him oppress his People: They grew uneasy and discontented. This encouraged ambitious Men, and Demagogues, to incite, and even begin, a Civil War.

Whatever alarms the Populace, and causes Insurrections, be it ever so absurd, or even impossible, such Alarms and Insurrections will rarely want busy Heads to foment, and able Hands to strengthen them. Wretches, too, who pretend to Intelligence from the Stars, or beyond the Stars, Dealers in the Nonsense of Astrology, and false Prophecy, are always of notable Influence, and prove successful Incendiaries, upon such Occasions; belying Heaven, and abusing and inflaming Men. As if the Divinity communicated himself only to Mischief-makers, and only for the Sake of Mischief. Yet, such as belye God, have often the greatest Credit with Men.

Mankind are always prone to Delusion, but most so upon great public Shocks, general Distress, and Changes, when their Hopes and Fears are greatly agitated, and thence continually disposed to gratify these Passions with false Objects; as they always are at the Beginning, and during the Progress, of a Civil War. This therefore is a rare Season for Monks, Astrologers, and all Spiritual Mountebanks and Fanatics, to thrive and multiply in, and to promote, and even perpetuate, Civil Rage. When they have once persuaded their Dupes, that such an Event will happen, it is easy to put them upon Expedients to bring it to pass; and in doing it, such as believe it to be God’s Decree, will thence be notably animated to fulfil it; nay, be proud of being his Instruments. Otho, when he was assured, that he should reign, found no Objection against murdering the reigning Prince. When the Almighty is thought to direct and to sanctify the End, the Means will always be sanctified too, by such as employ them.

SECT. V. How hard to put an End to a Civil War. The Tendency of One, to produce More. How it sharpens the Spirits of Men, shocks the Civil Constitution, and produces Tyranny.

WHILST Civil War subsists, it must be conducted by Soldiers; and then, not the Laws, but the Soldiers govern, often against the Authority of their General, and the Laws of War, almost always against the Laws of the Land: And, when the Civil War ends, it must be ended too by the Soldiers, by their Power and Consent; and they, continuing the principal Power, as they must be, if they are not dismissed, will govern even in Peace, or suffer their Leader to govern, who must govern to their good Liking, or not at all: And then it is at their Option, whether Peace, or at least the Effects of Peace, shall continue or no. ‘Such, says Cicero, has been the constant Issue of our Civil Wars, that not only the Pleasure of the Conqueror was always complied with, but many Concessions were likewise made to those by whose Aid he conquered.’

If the Soldiery, or any great Number of them, be discharged, a Rebellion is to be feared, and thence a Renewal of the War. New Pretences, and new Leaders, will never be wanting. Thus the Prætorian Cohorts, dismissed by Vitellius, betook themselves again to Arms, joined themselves to Vespasian, and proved the Bulwark of his Party. Nay, not satisfied with being still employed, upon the bare Apprehensions of being neglected, or even suffering themselves to be tempted by a vile Price, the Roman Army warring under that brave Captain Vocula, against public Enemies, Foreigners, and Rebels, bargained to renounce their Allegiance to Rome, to swear Fealty to the Gauls, a Nation so often beaten and conquered by them; nay, to give earnest of an Iniquity so huge and flagrant, by shedding the Blood of their General Officers, or by delivering them up under Chains.

But suppose a Civil War totally concluded, the Army disbanded without Mutiny, or retained without Acts of Violence, (which are large Suppositions) with all the Appearances of general Peace; still it is a Miracle but the Constitution has suffered a violent Shock, such as a long Tract of Time is necessary to cure, if it be ever cured. A People, for some time inured to a Life of Licenciousness, to revenge their own Quarrels, to rob and kill one another, will not cordially submit to live in Peace, and under equal Law. Those who have gained Wealth by the War, will be afraid of having it resumed by the first Owners; as the latter will be sollicitous to have it restored. So that between the Plunderers and the Plundered, there must be constant Rancour, and a Bone of Contention. A Man, once of great Fortune, finds himself a Beggar, made so by one who was a Beggar before; but is now enriched, and swaggering in his Spoils. The first is enraged because he is ruined, and abhors the upstart Author of his Ruin: The other hates the Man whom he has ruined, whose Resentment he fears, and whose Scorn provokes him.

Men newly raised, will strive to have the Government modelled to their own Security and good Liking; and, being uppermost, will probably succeed, or try all Expedients, even the most desperate, to do so; and then insult and oppress, in proportion to their Power, or Indignation, or Wantonness. They will still see, or pretend to see, the same old Spirit of Malevolence, or Contumacy, or Resistance, (or whatever else they chuse to call it) in the subdued Party; and still want new Powers to curb and restrain them, perhaps to imprison, enslave, or even to cut them off; and thus prove Tyrants themselves, and oppress all others, for public Good and Tranquillity. Besides their own Strength and Security, and the Gratification of Revenge, they will be apt to relish the Sweets of Fines, Compositions, and Confiscations; and therefore carefully promote them. It will be easy to find Accusations.

If it be in a Commonwealth, they will be said to affect Monarchy. John Barnevelt was accused of a Design to restore the Spanish Government; that is, the best Protestant, and best Commonwealth’s-Man upon Earth, was meditating how to introduce, and live under, Spanish Revenge and Tyranny, and the horrible Cruelties of the Inquisition. Thus the Oliverians charged all whom they disliked, with a Passion for the Government of the Stuarts; that is, as they meant it, Government without Law, and against Law, though that of their Master Oliver was as absolute as his own Will and Passions could make it. Thus again, after the Restoration, all who displeased the hot-headed Cavaliers, were Oliverians; though these Cavaliers wanted to compliment the King with the same boundless Power, which Oliver, with much more Capacity and Attention, had possessed.

Thus the new prevailing Party will rule, or attempt to rule, after a Civil War, by new Laws, or rather by Violence forbidden by the old Laws; and whatever Power they like, will be found necessary. The Party vanquished, groaning under new Burdens, and berest of Protection, will look back with Regret to the old Laws, (which perhaps they too had violated in their turn) would be glad to see them restored, and even ready, perhaps, to lend Assistance towards restoring them. This is Treason, in the Eye of their lofty Rulers, who, construing their own Oppression to be just, as all Oppressors do, judge the Oppressed to be Rebels, because they complain, as all the Oppressed will; and therefore, by the Name of Law, doom them to Whips, and Chains, and Forfeiture, against Law. All this being fresh Oppression, will naturally beget Schemes and Efforts to destroy it, such as, if they are discovered, (for sometimes they presently succeed) will be encountered with other furious Efforts to defeat them; and then, if neither Party be at once disabled and ruined, the Civil War is rekindled.

As Faction implies Contention and Hate, Civil War infers Destruction and Revenge. Both Sides will do their best to prevail, and the prevailing Side to be fully avenged; and as Men in Prosperity are more apt to be wanton than cautious, and to provoke many of their own Party, and thence divide and weaken it, as well as to oppress the undermost, and thence unite and strengthen it, (for common Distress is an admirable Cement and Reconciler) the Weaker will be gaining from the Stronger; even their Sufferings will procure them Pity and Friends; Dissention amongst their Adversaries will increase their Numbers; Leaders, and Orators, and Motives, will soon be found to rouse them to attempt a Deliverance; which, if it succeed, will probably tempt them, in their turn, to the same Insolence, Oppression, Follies, Desertion, and Weakness, which gave them their present Superiority.

In these Struggles and Changes, both Parties proceed without Mercy or Sense, till one or both find, that, for one to get the intire Mastery of the other, it is absolutely necessary to raise up some one Leader to absolute Power, and thus become Slaves themselves to make their Opponents Slaves; as was exemplified in the Roman People, and their Darling Cæsar, to whom we may join Pompey and Crassus, two other Favourites of the Multitude. The Roman People meant not to exalt either of them into Tyrants, but, in the Heat of Faction and Opposition to the Senate, did it effectually; since from this popular Heat and Madness the first Triumvirate arose; a wicked and terrible Combination of Three Men to engross the Roman Power, and enslave the Roman World.

The Roman People, like other People, first blinded with Party-Animosities, then opening their Eyes, when their Sight served but to torment them, perceived into what infamous Bondage they had plunged themselves, and abhorred it. At the public Shews, Pompey was insulted, Cæsar affronted, and Curio, who then opposed both, received with a Thunder-clap of Applause. All Rome resounded with Murmuring, with loud Complaints, and even with bitter Reproaches upon the Administration. Cæsar was hated, his great Opponent Bibulus was adored: Nothing was ever so unpopular as these Three once popular Men. Yet all their Measures, however pestilent and detested, prevailed; nor could Cicero foresee how they could be opposed without risquing a general Massacre. For the Three grand Conspirators had introduced into the City, particularly Cæsar, from his Government of Narbon Gaul, great Numbers of Soldiers, thence to prevent, or conquer, all Opposition: Insomuch that Cæsar, I know not whether with more Impudence or Violence, ordered the great and virtuous Cato, though invested with the sacred Office of Tribune of the People, to be carried to Prison, for discharging the Duty of his Place, and that of a worthy Patriot, by opposing the Law of Vatinius, for continuing that terrible Man in his great Government now inlarged, at the Head of a great Army in the Neighbourhood of Rome, for Five Years longer.

The wretched People might now see Themselves, their Liberties, and their best Citizens, thus scorned, and despitefully used, and grieve, as they did, for it. They themselves had enabled him to do all this; and, having raised him so high, could not pull him down, even whilst he spurned them, and trod upon their Necks.

Thus Cromwell came by his Power; and, having by it got his Masters, who gave it, under his Feet, he kept them there. Their struggling in Chains served only to make their Chains sharper and heavier.

SECT. VI. The Evils, and sudden Changes, brought by Civil War upon particular Families, and upon a Country in general; with the fierce Discontents, and Animosities, and ill Morals, which it entails.

AS Violence generally precedes, and begets, and accompanies, a Civil War, so a Civil War generally ends in Violence, in furious Measures, Confiscations, and Executions; that is to say, in such Measures as tend directly to produce a Succession of Civil Wars. Men fight naturally to defend their Lives, and Estates, and Families, where they are attacked, and manifestly threatened; and to recover their Estates, when taken away. If some are fond of Civil War, from a Passion for Prey and Forfeitures; others are so from a Passion as strong, even to retrieve their Losses and Inheritance: And if mean Men be apt to promote public Confusion for the Sake of Titles, and Fortunes, and Dignities; great Men, reduced to Meanness by such a Vicissitude, will be as eager to risque fresh Confusion, in order to divest their Supplanters, and reinstate themselves. He who is a Lord To-day, and abounds in Wealth, will not, if he can help it, bear to be a Slave, or to beg, To-morrow; no more than any turbulent Slave will stand at any Means to soar above Slavery, and to mend his Character and Condition.

What more abetted the many Civil Wars in England formerly, (I still except Oppression, and lawless Rule) than the Bait and Temptation of Forfeitures, whence great Acquisitions were probably to be had, and great Fortunes to be suddenly made or mended, and a continual Propensity in such as were stripped and undone, to be revenged and restored? One got half a County by crowning an Edward; another hoped to recover it with Additions, by re-establishing a Henry. Here was a perpetual Source of Civil Broils and Bloodshed, even where there was no other.

The Truth is, says Cicero, ‘The Seeds and Source of Civil Wars will never be lost or extinguished, so long as desperate and abandoned Men are always remembring, and hoping to see revived, the former barbarous Scenes of Confiscations, such as were displayed under Sylla the Dictator, by his Kinsman Publius; nay, Six-and-thirty Years after, by the same Instrument, then much exalted in his Station, at first a common Notary, afterwards City-Prætor, or Grand Justiciary of Rome, yet pursuing the same horrid Trade of Confiscations, in a Manner still more extensive and merciless. Nor is it possible, that Civil Wars should ever cease, when such mighty Forfeitures and Rewards are always in View to rouse them.’ Cicero de Offic. L. II. He likewise says, in one of his Philippics, that, ‘The Forfeitures made under Cæsar had furnished many wicked Men with Hopes and Confidence; for that they saw Numbers, lately abject and poor, on a sudden wallowing in Wealth: So that all, who with a malignant Eye behold our Estates, (he is speaking to the Senate) are ever longing for such Days of Forfeitures.’

Civil Wars do in the Civil and Moral World, what Earthquakes do in the Natural, confound all things; sink and exalt; change high and low, and unite Extremes; raze down old Piles, which seemed to defy Time, and prop the Sky; and scatter such as possessed them, as effectually, as if neither had ever been; or just leave Ruins enow to indicate their former Grandeur, and the Opulence of the Owners, with the Wretchedness of their Posterity, if any remain; lift new Fabrics, and new Men, both out of the Dust; extinguish Titles; abolish and debase Dignities, perhaps for ever, or transfer them to Grooms and Lacqueys, or to sold Slaves, born to Nakedness and Chains; expose venerable Senators to want and to beg, whilst common Soldiers assume the Rank of Senators; prefer condemned Felons to conduct Armies and possess Countries, while those who doomed them to die, suffer Death by their Command; set Bond men to rule over their late Rulers; and, being now Lords of Life and Death, to award Freemen and Grandees to Prison, and Execution, at Pleasure, or, which is perhaps more shocking, to treat them with Pity; shew a Minion, such as Chrysogonus, once a base Slave, exercised in the lowest and vilest Offices of Life, then the Favourite of an Usurper, living and rioting in the Profusion and Magnificence of an Eastern King, supported in it by the Estates of many illustrious Romans, accumulated upon him by Grants, or feigned Purchases, and the noble Owners butchered, or banished, Vagabonds, and starving; Men who had no Guilt, besides their Estates, executed for their Estates, or punished with Life void of Support.

It sometimes happens, that Men, thus suddenly and wickedly enriched, become, through Waste, and Vanity, and Riot, soon poor again, and then want recourse to the same Means to renew their Fortune. They who lost their Fortunes to the former, have the same Aim and Pursuit: To such, add all that are vicious, and criminal, and indigent, in dread of Gaols and Gibbets, of Creditors, and Want; all that are voluptuous without Property, daring without Honesty, oppressed without Redress, vindictive, but disappointed of Vengeance; all who have Much to hope, and Nothing to lose; all who have great Ambition, and no public Spirit, with whoever thinks a Civil War either necessary or unavoidable, and resolves to follow Fortune, and make the best of it; Officers out of Post, Soldiers out of Pay; every aspiring Man, who has not Preferment, or not enough; every Man void of Humanity, who feels not the public Calamities, nor the Sufferings of others; every Man who is indifferent about public Liberty, interested in general Confusion, and fears no Consequences; together with the needy Rabble, always unsteady and thoughtless, for the most part venal and debauched, generally passionate for Innovations, from whatever Hand or Quarter they come.

When the Civil War is over, its Effects, and even its Spirit, remain, sometimes for Generations; it entails ill Morals upon a Country, as well as Distress and Calamities upon particular Families, and leaves the Laws under Weakness and Scorn.

As a Conclusion of this Discourse, I shall subjoin a summary Account of the Civil Feuds and Outrages that happened at Corsetra, now Corfu, during the War of Peloponnesus, as the same are related at large by Thucydides.

SECT. VII. A View of the affecting Horrors, and Calamities, produced by Civil War; taken from the History of Greece.

THE People, who could not live without Submission to Superiors, yet cared not to submit, or were easily persuaded that they ought not, after long and violent Distrust, attack the Senate, and murder most of the Senators, as Enemies to popular Government. The Senate, in Revenge, fall upon the People, as Enemies to all Government, and Rebels to their own: They prevail, and rout the Multitude. The People rally, aided even by the Women, and by the Slaves, now purposely declared Free, and thus put into a Condition to master their late Masters, who, in their Fury, rather risque Tyranny from their Bond-men, than bear Subjection to their legal and natural Rulers. They now vanquish the Senators. The Senators make fresh Efforts: So do the Populace: The Conflict goes on, and dreadful Havock follows it, incessant Cruelty and Devastation, Houses fired, Citizens murdered, public and private Wealth destroyed, and the whole City threatened with Conflagration.

A Reconciliation is patched up, but does not cure mutual Enmity, as it cannot cancel the Memory of mutual Injuries and Provocations. Piques and Suspicions still subsist, and produce fresh Insults: These are returned and multiplied, portending and hastening another Massacre. The People think themselves, and their Liberty, still in Danger, whilst any Senators are left; and therefore butcher all that are to be found. Nor can their own Leaders and Partizans escape their Rage. Whoever is a Friend to Peace, they judge to be a Foe to Them. Their Rage continues and increases, and, besides all that they murder, they frighten Numbers to murder themselves. Their constant Charge against all these Victims was, that they were Enemies to Liberty, to the Interest of the People, and to popular Government, which, by such a Torrent of Phrensy, of Rage, and Barbarity, they thus rescue, and thus recommend.

It may be easily guessed, how fast Slander and Lyes prevailed at this horrid Conjuncture, and how busy and fashionable were all public Incendiaries, and personal Revilers. All Sorts of Immorality prospered; Acts of Treachery and Fraud went Hand in Hand with Acts of Violence. Some committed Murder out of private Revenge: Some discharged their Debts by murdering their Creditors: But it was still Zeal for the People that prompted Murderers, and justified Murder; and whilst Death was seen in all Shapes, and inflicted upon all mean Occasions and Provocations, the same infamous Plea served for all. Many, who thought themselves secure in the Protection of Sanctuaries, were dragged from them, and butchered near them: Many were immured, and perished in them.

Such was the Blindness, as well as Fury, of this Civil Rage, that Good and Evil lost their Names and Application. Good was Evil, Evil was Good; just as Men, in seeing or doing either, were inspired by their Passions: Whatever gratified the worst Passions, was best: The Author of the most Mischief was the greatest Hero. Party-Spirit was the great and uncontroulable Adviser and Defender of all things: Its grossest Misrepresentations were readily believed; its most furious Dictates most chearfully obeyed. Party-Merit outweighed all Regard to Kindred, cancelled all Friendship, extinguished all Gratitude, covered all Crimes, sanctified all Enormities. Law and Obligations, whether Divine or Human, where-ever they interfered with Party, were spurned and trod upon by Party: For, Patty was the Public; and all things must give Way to the Public. It was Mean to Forgive: It was Cowardice not to seek Revenge. Oaths were taken, not to be kept, but to deceive and ensnare: The more Treachery, the more Art and Policy: The higher Cruelty, the higher Heroism. To excel in Fraud, was the highest Excellency. Honesty was Weakness: Deceit and Knavery were Proofs of Ability. A Passion to bear Rule, to gratify Ambition by Avarice, and Avarice by Ambition, was the great and laudable Passion. A selfish Spirit was public Spirit, which it contradicted and destroyed.

All specious Pretences were offered, every plausible Name was assumed, by both Sides. Here the natural Equality and Power of the People were urged and maintained, as the only Source of Justice, and public Liberty, against the Authority of Some over All. There, a steady Government of Chiefs and Representatives, was contended for over the giddy Multitude. Both Parties alleged the Public Good; both Parties obstructed and banished it. Both committed horrible Outrages upon each other; both destroyed Men of moderate Spirits, and reconciling Principles. Fools, by observing no Rule, had the Advantage of Men of Sense, who observed the Rule of Wisdom. Villains were an Overmatch for such as adhered to the Measures of Justice.

I must inform my unlearned Readers, that as the Reign of the Multitude could not be long, popular Fury was at last subdued: The Nobles who escaped, about Six hundred in Number, uniting and returning, soon brought Distress and Misery upon the Populace, burnt their Shipping, robbed the Island, and thus caused a Famine; then raised a Fort above the City, and soon became Masters of the Island itself.

DISCOURSE IX. To His Grace ARCHIBALD, Duke of Argyll. Of the Mutability of Government.

SECT. I. Why Free Governments are more changeable in their Frame, than such as are Single and Arbitrary.

NOTHING which depends upon the changeable Humours and Passions of Men, can be permanent. No Species of Government can, therefore, be so. Time and Accidents, as they alter the human Face and Frame, so do they that of human Society.

Nothing is perfect at once: Government never is so, nor can be; and has been sometimes destroyed by Attempts to make it so. Human Society, like human Life, is liable to Decay; and the latter, as well as the former, is supported by Expedients. Occasional Laws are found as necessary as occasional Medicines; and both Medicines and Laws, though they sometimes help and save, do likewise sometimes hurt and destroy: Nor can the ablest Physicians and Legislators be certain, that their best Rules will always succeed, and their best Directions be salubrious, or even safe; since the best may be perverted, and then become the worst. The best Remedies, applied unseasonably, or in too great Quantities, may destroy Life: The most wholsome Laws may be perverted into Poison to a State. Laws and Physic, thus abused, are worse than none; because they do Mischief by Authority; and warrant, as well as hasten, the Dissolution of human Life, and civil Society.

In every State and Community, there will, I doubt, be found more Vicious than Virtuous, more Weak than Wise. The Cunning will be for ever deceiving the Simple; the Ambitious will be for ever finding Fools, and for ever leading them. No State or Nation was ever without such Instruments, no more than without proper Materials for such Instruments to work on; the Foolish and the Credulous always blindly following the Ambitious and the Cunning. Wherever there are Multitudes, there will be Seducers; and whilst the Many are always ready to be led, they will never want Leaders. Very mean Implements often serve the Purpose: For there are none so low, but they will see, or think they see, many still lower; and from this Superiority, real or sansied, will try to govern the rest. Indeed, many, of all Ranks, are governed by such as surpass them, not in Capacity, but only in Assurance and Deceit. I doubt not but Beggars, as much upon a Level as they seem, have such Degrees and Subordination amongst them; the Imperious, and the Meek; the Directors, and the Directed; the Credulous, and the Imposing. It is the Characteristic of Society, it is the Nature of Man, to guide, and to follow; to dictate, and to obey; to deceive, and to be deceived.

What State is likely to be quiet, where there are such constant Causes of Disquiet? or to be lasting, where there are so many Materials, so many Authors and Causes of Change? No Government is without such; and the freest Governments, which are consequently the best, abound with them more than the worst. Liberty, like many other valuable Things, carries with it the Seeds of Self-destruction: It is ever liable to be turned into Licentiousness; and thence ever in Peril. Many will abuse it, because they may: Some will encourage that Abuse, on purpose to destroy it. It protects even those who attack and undermine it; and often secures them from Punishment for the worst of all Crimes. As it subsists by certain fixt Laws, whoever can evade those Laws, may overthrow it: And where Liberty abounds most, Laws are most easily evaded.

In a free State, a Man may be a notorious Criminal against Law, yet not punishable by Law; which requires there such Evidence for Guilt, as cannot well affect the Innocent; and, therefore, the Guilty, if they be wary, often escape all Punishment. Here is Encouragement given by a free Government against itself, and often taken! It is like a Distemper arising from too much Health: No Wonder that a Disease, so continually and plentifully fed, proves mortal in time; often in a short Time.

In arbitrary Countries, a Man may be innocent, yet punished legally; because the same absolute Will which creates the Guilt, finds the Evidence. Here is an Opportunity and Temptation presented to an absolute Ruler, and too generally accepted by him, to destroy his best Subjects! It is small Surprize, that, under such a Government, one so threatening to Virtue, there are found but few great Men; or that such Men are unprosperous and short-lived.

In arbitrary Countries, it is a Maxim, ‘That it is better to destroy many innocent Persons, than that One guilty should escape:’ A Maxim which, when generally pursued, threatens swift Destruction to All: And it sometimes happens, that Numbers are sacrificed to the furious Suspicion of unbounded Power, where there was no real Guilt to provoke it. Whoever a Tyrant fears, is always guilty. A King of Siam, having lost his Daughter, and fansying that she was poisoned, put most of his Court, great and small, to Death, chiefly by the most exquisite Torture; because it appeared probable to him, that some of them had given her Poison. Thus that savage Prince massacred above Two thousand Persons, mostly of principal Rank; the great Mandarins, their Wives and Children, all first scorched with Fire, and mangled with Knives, before they were admitted to his last Favour of being thrown to the Elephants, to be by them torn or crushed to Pieces, or buried, still alive, with their Heads above-ground.

By such savage Policy, Expedients are sought for the present Safety and Gratification of such a Prince; who, having, for his chief Drift in reigning, the Ease and Security of his Person, makes it his Study and Pleasure, to cut off and destroy whoever has, or he apprehends may, hurt him, or even thwart or ruffle him. When he thinks, that, by Blood, he can establish his Throne, he will not spare to shed it; nor will he make any Difference between Suspicion and Proof; much less prolong his Fears and Danger by Forms and Examination. An Attempt upon his Person is punished not only by the Execution of the Conspirators, but often by the Massacre of their whole Family and Kindred, and the Extinction of their Race. The Vizir Kuproli, to punish the turbulent Janizaries, is thought to have destroyed above Forty thousand of that important Militia, by different Slaughters, and at different times; and thus weakened the Monarchy, for the Safety of the Monarch. The strange bloody Justice of an Indian Prince, mentioned by Monsieur D’estoille, as what he saw, is amazing! ‘That, for Two or Three Robberies, he had caused an Hundred thousand Men to be gibbetted upon Trees.’ So that this Traveller, for many Days together, passed through Regions peopled with the Dead. So readily and wantonly can a Prince, thus arbitrary, execute whoever is obnoxious to him, or suspected by him, without Form or Delay.

Against a Power thus violent, and armed with such Force and Expedients to secure itself, no Number of Persons will easily venture into a Conspiracy, or no such Conspiracy is likely to remain long undiscovered. Though One particular Hand, sufficiently desperate, may destroy the Tyrant, yet it cannot with him destroy the Tyranny. He is seldom without a Successor at Hand; one who, perhaps, employed the Assassin, and reaps the Benefit of the Assassination; though he seem not to like it, and often cuts off the Author of it. Perhaps no further Change is thought of; no Change of the Government, but only of the Governor: Few Countries will bear any other Change; nor is the Trial like to be made. What Number of able and unarmed Men are to be found, under a despotic Prince, willing to trust one another; and to meet, in order to concert a new Frame of Government, and to abolish the present? They are almost sure of being first destroyed themselves: Or, were such a Scheme concerted ever so wisely, it is hardly possible to be executed. Such Countries are hardly to be supposed to be without mercenary Armies, chiefly Strangers; and the Changes made by such Armies are always personal, from one Prince to another. It is not their Turn or Interest to settle a free State, where the Laws must dictate to the Sword. When they find, that they can make and unmake Princes, (a Lesson which they quickly learn) they will as soon learn another Lesson, even to make and unmake Laws.

Besides, no free State can be established without proper Materials; I mean a People disposed to receive and submit to it. The Wisdom of Man could not convert the Turkish Monarchy into a free State: A Parliament there would appear a Monster: Even the People, if they could have it, would not suffer it. The same People, who can bear any Act of Power done by the Sultan, or in his Name, and have no Notion of opposing any such Act, be it ever so outrageous, would not quietly bear any Act of Power, however just and necessary, from any Number of themselves; nor see, with Patience, some of their Neighbours, no better than themselves, and lately no higher, making Laws, and controuling all Things. Indeed no public Change whatsoever can be expected in that Empire, or any other like it, but by the Army; and what, other than a military Government, is to be hoped there from military Men? It is true, they have often destroyed Tyrants; but I do not remember, that they have ever destroyed Tyranny. They have frequently sacrificed Princes, for not being Tyrants, and for not devoting the State, and all in it, to the Will and Lust of the Army. They deposed Nero; but they likewise murdered Galba.

It seems, to me, impossible, for a great Monarchy, extending over many Nations, and ruling a great Empire by great Armies, to fall into a Commonwealth: But I conceive it very possible, for it to break piecemeal into several Governments; some of them, perhaps, Commonwealths. The Weakness of the Head, or a great Revolution, may occasion a Separation of the Members; and each, setting up for itself, may produce several separate Principalities, as well as some Commonwealths. The large inland Provinces will probably preserve the same Form of Government, single and military. The great maritime and trading Cities will naturally aim at governing themselves, upon the Principles of Liberty and Commerce; and be, perhaps, encouraged and supported in their free Government by the neighbouring Princes; who, if they cannot master it themselves, will defend it against one another.

To this Principle some free States, even in Europe, owe their Preservation and Independency; Geneva, the Hans Towns in Germany, and even the High and Mighty States of Holland. I say this of the States, without any Design to derogate from their own genuine and eternal Merit and Firmness, in maintaining their Liberties against that merciless and perjured Tyrant, Philip II. of Spain.

SECT. II. The Danger to Free Government from popular Maxims, and popular Men; with the Advantages it furnishes against itself.

IN free Countries it is a Maxim, That it is better to letseveral guilty Persons escape, than to punish one who is innocent: A benevolent Maxim, but full of Encouragement to Factionists, Traitors, and other Criminals; since all the Laws, and Proceedings of the State, are to be framed and softened agreeably to that Maxim. The Trial of a State Criminal must be slow and solemn; his Character, the Credibility of the Witnesses, Laws and Precedents, must be all coolly and carefully examined. Possibly his great Power and Popularity, and the Tenderness of the Laws, and of those who administer them, make it dangerous to seize him, and difficult to confine him: So that an able Traitor may execute his Treason, before it can be proved that he designed any; and he may still enjoy his own Liberty, whilst he is contriving the Destruction of public Liberty: He may even make himself popular, whilst he is pursuing popular Mischief, and Measures destructive to the People. For as Liberty, amongst its many Advantages, furnisheth great Men, so, amongst its other Disadvantages, it is often weakened, sometimes extinguished, by Heroes of its own forming: It produces false Patriots, as well as true; and the former are frequently too hard for the latter.

It was a strange Declaration to come from a Roman, ‘That Men were mistaken, to think that the Senate (the Roman Senate) had any Power in the Roman Republic.’ It was still more strange from the Mouth of a Senator, and a Consul: Yet the Consul Gabinius was not ashamed to make that strange Declaration in Public. The Truth is, he was the Creature of Cæsar, and the Associate of Clodius, who had purchased him into a League against his Country, by the Bait of a great Government. After this, it can be no Wonder to hear, that the same Gabinius, still in his Consulship, used to celebrate, in his Cups, with Piso his Brother Consul, (no better than himself) the Names, and Memory, and brave Attempts, of Catiline, Cethegus, and the other Conspirators, all executed for Treason.

In a free State, as well as in one not free, whoever has Power to serve it, has Power to hurt it. They who administer it, will often weaken the Power of the State, to keep or increase their own; and will sometimes rather destroy it, than lose their Power in it. The Decemvirate, or College of Ten at Rome, established for a Time limited, with absolute Power, to settle a Body of Laws, attempted to turn that temporary Trust into perpetual Tyranny. The annual Tribunes often made the same Attempts. The Nobles, for a great while, engrossed all Power, and abused it; acted like Masters, and treated the Plebeians like Slaves: The Plebeians, in their turn, seized the Power of the Commonwealth, and exercised it licentiously. Nor was it likely to be otherwise. In popular Governments, such as admit of Appeals to the People, there can be no certain Stability; because the People are always unstable; always subject to be led, and deceived, and inflamed, by Demagogues; such as are never wanting in that sort of Government.

In Rome, for a great while, no Ordinance of the People could pass, without the Authority and Sanction of the Senate; a most reasonable Restraint, to keep popular Passion and Folly from gaining the Force and Terror of Law. Afterwards, by the Violence of popular Faction, this wise Precaution was lost; and the People could make Laws, without the Senate; but the Senate none, without the Consent of the People. Thenceforward, whoever could alarm and mislead the People, governed or misgoverned the State.

Laws extending throughout the Empire, and binding to the whole Roman People, were sometimes passed by a wild Rabble; such was that for the Banishment of Cicero: The Title of the Law was taken from a ragged Profligate, who wanted a Habitation, and a Bed. By the like Rabble, Armies, Treasure, and Provinces, were allotted to their own Favourites; that is, whomsoever any turbulent Tribune recommended to their Choice. All sober and substantial Citizens were, upon such Occasions, kept off by Violence and Arms.

The Government of Carthage was firm and good, till it fell into the Hands of the People: From that Moment it proved violent, fluctuating, and perishing. The Senate was despised; and then, what Anacharsis observed to be the Case in all popular Governments, was the Case there; ‘Wise Men proposed, but Fools disposed.’ The Answer of Lycurgus was lively and sound, to a Fellow-Citizen, who proposed a popular Government for Sparta. ‘Try it, says Lycurgus, in your own House.’ As that great Man judged very wisely upon this Subject, how to reform his native State, fallen, through popular Licentiousness, into Impotence and Decay, he had the Policy to procure a Judgment from the Oracle of Delphos, allowing the Spartans ‘to vote, but not to debate.’ He knew how unfit the Populace were to make Laws; how unfit to propose; how unfit to abrogate. By this wise Negative upon the People, the State of Sparta continued long firm and glorious: For want of it, that of Athens was always tumultuous and unsettled. Lycurgus took Warning from the tragical Fate of the King his Father, murdered by his own Subjects in a Riot, for attempting to quell it. The Spartans had been long used to defy the Government, and been countenanced in it, or, which is the same thing, not checked and discouraged, by their former Kings. ‘The People, says Plutarch, were so far from growing more tractable by such Indulgence, and false Courtesy, (as these Princes hoped they would) that the Government fell under popular Contempt.’ The great Task, and great Merit, of Lycurgus, was to recover its lost Authority; since every Government without Authority must be lost.

It is with the People as with Princes; whatever they have gained upon one another, they both still want to gain more. They both strive to acquire more (call it Liberty, or call it Power) than they can manage or keep; and they lose by seeming to get. Monarchy sometimes produces Tyranny; Tyranny often produces the Destruction of the Tyrant. Popular Government is apt to beget Licentiousness; Licentiousness destroys popular Government. All Power, breaks when stretched too high; and finally sinks, when let down too low.

In the most complete Governments there will be always something to mend, and many to pretend, that many things want mending, even when they do not; or, which is the same thing, cannot be mended, at least with Safety, and without risquing the Whole. Even such State-Physicians as mean well, may be unskilful in the Choice, or in the Application, of the Remedy. Free States particularly are liable to be undone, and have been undone, by Attempts to reform them, at least covered and carried on under that Pretence. Such Attempts too, as they are generally popular, and thence judged to be safe to those who make them, will therefore be often made and repeated. Even the Miscarriage of some, does not always discourage others, but only serves to suggest different and more wary Measures. The Romans, who were frequently making Changes in their Constitution, proceeded at last to one fatal to it, and lost their Liberty by false Measures taken to increase it; Measures chiefly proposed and promoted by the most popular Romans.

Such are the Advantages which a free State furnisheth against itself. In an arbitrary State, every Attempt to mend it is high Treason; and it is secured by continual Jealousy, and sudden Executions; as I have already observed.

It is better to bear some Inconveniences, and even very palpable Faults, than to introduce worse, by endeavouring to remove them. Most Reformations as certainly imply future Danger, as they infer present Defects and Depravity. Whoever has Power to mend a State, hath Power to hurt it, and may do so without designing it. The Populace, particularly, are very insufficient, very rash Reformers; nor can any State be steady or tolerable, where the Populace can sway the State: For, besides their own rapid and incompetent Judgment, they are eternally liable to be charmed, and roused, and seduced, by some dangerous and selfish Prompter, who loudly professes their Interest, and sincerely means his own, though it be ever so irreconcilable to, ever so destructive of, theirs.

In truth, considering the Frailty, and Folly, and Selfishness, of Men, the Arts of some, and the Stupidity of others, it is a Wonder how any good Government should have any Duration. There can be but one effectual Way to secure it; that is, by making it evident to every Man, that it is more the Interest of all Men to preserve it, than to hurt and destroy it; a Felicity, I doubt, never to be attained by any Government. No Government can so convince, and so gratify, all Men; and all Men, disappointed by the best Government, will be apt to see many Faults in it.

Whenever any State judges as favourably of all its Subjects, as each of its Subjects does of himself, and rewards all so, as all think they ought to be rewarded, we may then expect to see what has never yet been seen, a State without Flaw or Complaints. Every State will want reforming, in the Eyes, at least in the Language, of those who are dissatisfied with the State. Even such as seek to destroy it, will pretend to reform it: Such was the horrible Purpose, yet such the plausible Professions, of Catiline.

Whoever can best deceive the People, is the most popular Man, and has most Influence over them. The false Patriots are often louder, often better heard, than the true. In a Competition for the great popular Offices at Rome, the worst Romans frequently carried them from the best. In all popular Projects, in all public Commotions, some one Person will be trusted more than the rest, and than all; and then he may make his own Interest the Measure of the Public Weal; a Consideration of infinite Force (if there were no other) against a Civil War, and whatever tends to produce it, as it naturally throws all into the Hands of a single Person, Marius, Sylla, Cromwell, Cæsar.

I question whether any Civil Government was originally framed upon any well-concerted Scheme, or upon any wise Plan, laid down by competent and disinterested Judges, but rather formed upon Exigences, mended and improved by Accident, as well as always liable to be altered and undone by Accidents. Even those of Theseus and Romulus were adapted to the Genius of the Rustics, their Followers, whose Humours were consulted, and their Habits preserved; else they would not probably have parted with their boundless Freedom, and complied with the Council, or submitted to the Institutions of these, or of any Law-givers. Neither are these Law-givers to be supposed to have been exempt from Ambition, and Views of their own, but to have found their Gratification in leading, as well as in civilizing, the People. They were Men, and they were Heroes, who are not always the most disinterested Men, or the most tender of their Species.

Men like best what they have been accustomed to, and care not to part with what they have long reverenced. The Turks love absolute Monarchy, because they were bred under it: They love the Mahometan Religion, because they were bred in it. It is thus with most Men, at least with all Men brought up in false Religions, and with many who profess the true. In the Settling of Colonies, in the Transmigration of Nations, People carry with them their Customs and Usages, both Domestic and Public. The new State is generally set up upon the Model of that at Home. The Athenian Communities in Asia were popular, like the Mother Community. Those from Sparta were settled upon the Spartan Foot. The Tyrians, who founded Carthage, set up the Government of Tyre. And the many Settlements of the Goths were all Gothic.

Absolute Monarchy, being always the same, and unchanging in its Frame, does, by such Constancy, produce a Constancy in the People towards it. Free States are more subject to vary, and to be altering at least something in their Plan. As there is nothing perfect at once, nor, I doubt, ever can be amongst Men, new Laws will be frequently wanting: Every new Law is, or will be thought, an Alteration in the State: And the Affections of the People are not likely to be fixed to that which is, at least seems to them to be, unfixed. Besides, they may be taught to believe, that the best Laws, and the wisest Changes, are hurtful, and even pernicious, and to clamour for some which literally are so; and thus come to destroy their precious Liberty, by wrong Measures taken to improve and secure it, or by opposing and defeating Measures which are necessary and wholsome.

SECT. III. The signal Power of Enthusiasm, and pious Imposture, in settling, changing, or perpetuating Government.

THE most effectual Way to change Men intirely, and consequently to settle a Government absolutely new, seems to be by religious Imposture. Whoever can mould the Conscience of a Man, can mould the Man. This was the Course taken by Mahomet; by this Course he succeeded, and, from driving Camels, founded an Empire. What can resist armed Enthusiasm, when the Enthusiast thinks himself intitled to both Worlds, and, by being secure of Paradise, claims a Right from Heaven to govern the Earth? He who wields the Sword, both of the Lord and of Gideon, is much more than a Match for those who carry no such awful Weapons. The Saracens were therefore invincible: So were the Round-Heads, who attacked the Cavaliers as impetuously with the Tune of a Psalm, as the Arabs did the Greeks and Asiatics with the Sound of Allah and his Prophet; and as stern a Spirit, though not so extensive, appeared for a Fifth Monarchy, as ever there did for the Monarchy of Mahomet. What this Impostor gained at first by the Force of Delusion, be retained and increased by the Force of Arms; and the finest and richest Parts of the old World, Asia, India, Egypt, and the Coasts of Africa, to the Pillars of Hercules, with the fairest Provinces in Europe, are still darkened and subdued by his gross, but popular and prevailing, Imposture.

Error is not the less forcible for being extremely gross, but rather the more successful for that very Reason. Small and moderate Error, as it is not far removed from Reason, is in Danger of being cured by Reason; but when it is extravagant, and quite monstrous, it is above and out of the Reach of Reason, and thence safe and thriving: The more wonderful it is, the more it is reverenced; and firmly believed, because it is incredible. An Impostor carries his Followers out of the Regions of Nature, and leads and governs them in the Clouds, by Visions too glorious for Eyes which have no more Light than their own, and by Documents too refined for Philosophy and Sense. Thus he forms them his true and devoted Bubbles: They find high Transports in being such, and scorn to change their Happiness and Blindness, for Light and Conviction. Whoever would make them wiser and free, is their mortal Foe, an Enemy to God and his Elect, and They are Enemies to Him.

A Government thus founded, the most disgraceful, as well as the most pestilent of all others, to human Race, is yet the most powerful and permanent of all Governments, if the same Influence do but continue; especially if Force be joined to Fraud, and Heaven and Earth be supposed to combine to support the same Cause. For the Cause of Enthusiasm, with all its celestial Views, and Scorn of worldly Things, has never enough of worldly Succours, not, indeed, of the World itself, all for heavenly Purposes. How many Millions of Men have been Slaves in their Persons, as well as in their Faculties, to an Impostor, only for his good Word to the Deity in their Behalf! and yielded up their whole Property to a Cheat, purely for teaching them to despise it! In truth, whoever can effectually awe Men by the Dread of eternal Torture, or charm them with Assurance of eternal Bliss, will be Omnipotent amongst Men, and controul and engross this World, by being thought Master of the World to come. It will then be very easy for him to introduce that never-failing Maxim, amongst all worldly Saints, (that is, Men more holy than other Men, and therefore striving to govern all Men) ‘That Dominion is founded in Grace;’ a Maxim of more Force than any in Politics, and always adopted by every able pious Impostor.

It is indeed equally true, that whenever common Sense takes Place, there is an End of all his fairy Influence, and mock Terrors, though perhaps not of his present and temporal Dread. But, alas! common Sense, which is treated as his common Enemy, and depressed by all the Engines of Art and Fury, may be persecured, banished, and extinct, for many Ages together. Who has dared, in Turkey, to dispute Mahomet’s divine Mission, or his lewd and voluptuous Paradise, during a Thousand Years past? Who has ventured (at least without incurring a terrible Doom) to question the Pope’s fanatic Supremacy over Heaven and Earth; or his wealthy Heirship to the poor Apostles; or the Kindred of a miserable Frier to the Deity; or his Power of damning and saving Souls for Money, or for want of it; or of drawing Holiness, and Miracles, and Treasures, out of dead Dust, and rotten Bones; or his Title to the Keys of St. Peter; or his Right to a tributary Purgatory, or to his Toll from Souls released from it by his Command; or to his Lease of Provinces from the Emperor Constantine, who gave him none? Yet all these shocking Forgeries, all these blasphemous Impieties, were, for many Centuries, Sacred throughout Christendom, and still are so in Italy, Spain, and other Countries, cowed by Superstition, and blind with Bigotry.

This Sort of Government therefore is as lasting, as it is dreadful and infamous. Enthusiasm is perfectly satisfied with itself, and its Situation; nor will Enthusiasts venture their Soul by venturing upon a Change, or upon inquiring whether a Change be expedient. Great is the Charm of being deceived; great the Pleasure, as well as the Profit, of deceiving! Few good Governments have lasted like that of Mahomet, and of Popery; both founded upon the Delusion, upon the Misery and Affliction of Men, all with the Consent of Men, enslaving and destroying them with their own Assistance.

So that the Means of annoying the best Governments are much more successful, as well as much more readily found, than those of restraining the worst.

SECT. IV. The surprising, despotic, but pacific Government, established by the Jesuits, by the Force of Imposture, in Paraguay.

THE Settlement made by the Jesuits, upon the River Paraguay in America, is extremely remarkable. These good Fathers, every-where indefatigable in improving their apostolic Talents, and turning Souls into ecclesiastical Traffick and Power, began there, by drawing together, into one fixed Habitation, about Fifty Families of wandering Indians, whom they had persuaded to take their Word implicitly for whatever they told them: For, this is what they call Conversion; and is, indeed, the true Art of making Catholics, who have no other Ground for their Faith, but the Assertions of their Priests.

From this Beginning, and such Encouragement, the assiduous Fathers, ranging the Country, and dazling the stupid Savages with their shining Beads, charming them with their pious Tales and Grimaces, their tuneful Devotions, and high Professions, made such a Harvest of Converts, as to form a Commonwealth, or rather an Empire, of Souls. For every Convert is a Subject most blindly obedient.

The holy Fathers, not Fifty in Number, are thus Sovereigns of a noble Country, larger than some Kingdoms, and better peopled. It is divided into several large Districts, each of them governed by a single Jesuit, who is, as it were, a provincial Prince; but more powerful and revered, and better obeyed, than any European, or even any Eastern Monarch. His Word is not only a Law, but an Oracle; his Nod infers supreme Command: He is absolute Lord of Life, and Death, and Property; may inflict capital Punishment for the lightest Offence, and is more dreaded, therefore more obeyed, than the Deity. His first Ministers and Officers, Civil and Military, are doomed by him to the meanest Punishments, and whipped, not only like common Slaves, but like common Felons. Nor is this all their Punishment, at least all their Abasement, which, to a Man of Spirit, is the worst Punishment: Whilst they are yet marked and mangled with the Lash, they run, Colonels and Captains run, and kneel before their holy Sovereign; condemn themselves for having incurred his pious Displeasure; and, humbly kissing his reverend Sleeve, thank him for the fatherly Honour he has done them, in correcting them like Dogs.

So much Tameness and Vassalage is Part, and an important Article, of their Conversion. They are even pleased with their Servitude, and care not what they do and suffer here, for the mighty Treasures of Joy and Liberty which are ensured to them hereafter by the good Father, who gives them all that He has to give in the Next World, and, by way of Barter and Amends, takes all that They have in the Present.

The poor Indians cultivate the Ground; dig and plow, and reap and sow: They make Stuffs, and other Manufactures; they rear Fowls, they breed Cattle, they carry Burdens, and labour hard above Ground, as well as under it, where, in Sweat and Darkness, and in Peril of perishing, they drudge in the Mines. Yet, with all this Industry, they earn nothing; nothing for themselves: All their Earnings, all the Profit and Advantages, appertain not to them, but solely to the good Father, their spiritual Sovereign, who rewards them to the full with what costs him nothing; Blessings, and Masses, and distant Prospects. Their Grain and Manufactures are all carried into his Warehouses, their Cattle and Fowls into his Yards, their Gold and Silver into his Treasury. They dare not wear a Rag of their own Spinning, nor taste a Grain of their own Sowing, nor a Bit of Meat of their own Feeding, nor touch the Metal of their own producing, nor so much as an Egg from the Hens they rear. They themselves are fed and subsisted, from Day to Day, by a limited Allowance, furnished them by the Appointment, and at the Mercy, of their great Lord, a small Priest.

Yet, under all these Discouragements, which are none to them, who seem to have sacrificed their Feeling, as well as their Reason, to the Sorcery of Superstition, they are diligent and laborious to the last Degree, and vye with one another for the high Price and Distinction bestowed by the Father upon such as excel most in their Work and Industry; even the bewitching Honour of kissing his Sleeve. The second Commandment, in their Table of Duties, is, To fear the Jesuit, and obey him; as the two next are much akin to it, and of like Tendency, even, To study Humility, and to contemn all worldly Goods. The Precept, of fearing God, seems to be prefixed for Form, and in Policy only; since it is impossible there should be any Knowledge of God, where the Exercise of Reason is not known nor permitted: Nor can God be said to be regarded by those who use the Images of God like Beasts.

All these Stores and Warehouses, so much Grain, so many Manufactures, so much Gold and Silver, so many Commodities from so fine, so large, and so plentiful a Country; abounding in Mines, in Rivers and Meadows, full of Horses, and Sheep, and Black Cattle, of Timber and Fruit-trees, of Flax and Indigo, Hemp and Cotton, Sugar, Drugs and Medicinal Herbs; must enable these good Fathers, who have renounced all Wealth, and the World itself, to carry on an infinite and most lucrative Trade, in which, though they have vowed Poverty, they are extremely active; and consequently must make that Jesuitical Government a most Powerful one. It hath Advantages which no other Government ever had, an absolute independency upon its People, or their Purses; the whole Wealth of the Country in its present Possession; the People absolutely submissive, and resigned to its good Pleasure and all its Calls; no Factions, not a Malecontent; an Army of Sixty thousand Men, all tame and tractable, devoted to blind Obedience, commanded in chief by a Jesuit, and obstinately averse to be commanded by any other General; a vast Revenue of many Millions; no Trouble in Taxing, no Time lost in collecting Taxes.

Such a Government, whilst it proceeds upon the same Principles, is unchangeable. No wonder these Jesuits are extremely jealous and tender, not only in keeping the poor Indians Slaves to Ignorance and Bigotry, in order to keep them Slaves to themselves, but in concealing so much Empire and Wealth from all the World; especially from Spain, from whence they were sent, at the Expence of that Crown, to convert the Indians, and make them Subjects to the Spanish Monarchy. The good Fathers are so far from meaning any such thing, that they not only carefully avoid teaching them the Spanish Tongue, but press it upon them, as a Point of Conscience, not to converse with the Spaniards. If any Spaniard happen to come amongst them, a Thing which the Jesuits are so far from encouraging, that they care not to see it, he is indeed civilly used, but carefully confined within the Walls of their holy Citadel, the Presbytery; or if, by earnest Intreaty, he obtain leave to walk through the Town, he is closely guarded by the Jesuit at his Side, and sees not an Indian in the Streets. For the Indians are ordered to shut themselves up, and fasten their Doors, upon any such Occasion.

Besides, these vigilant Fathers keep Five or Six thousand Men, employed in several Detachments, (Apostolic Troops!) to watch and scour the Frontiers, in order to cut off all Intercourse with the neighbouring Countries, not yet subjected to the good Fathers. Towards one of their Frontiers particularly, lest the rich Mines in it might invite a Settlement from Abroad, they have destroyed all the Horses, in order to discourage any such Settlement. For these self-denying Friers, who are sworn to Poverty, have an ardent Zeal to secure all these wealthy Mines to themselves, for religious Uses.

These poor, rich, humble, sovereign Missionaries, as they are Masters of such immense Wealth, all consecrated to their own Use, that is, to the Use of Religion, make a proper Display of it. The Churches are spacious, magnificent in their Structure, and set off with all Pomp and Decorations; grand Porticos and Colonnades, rich Altars adorned with Bas-reliefs, Pictures in Frames of massy Gold, and Saints of solid Silver, the Foot and Sides covered with Cloth of Gold, and the Pedestals with Plates of Gold; the Tabernacle made of Gold; the Pyx (or Box for the Sacrament) of Gold, set round with Emeralds, and other Jewels; the Vessels and Candlesticks made of Gold; the Whole, when illuminated, making a Shew almost beyond Belief: A proper Bait for the Eyes of deluded Indians, who, by such fine Sights, and the pious Mountebankery attending them, are retained in due Awe and Wonder!

The Princely Person of the Poor Jesuit is suitably lodged in a spacious Palace, containing grand Apartments, furnished with many Pictures and Images, with proper Lodgings for his Train of Officers and Domestics; the Quadrangles and Gardens all in proportion; the whole Court making a Square of some Miles. Observe, that all the many opulent Warchouses, belonging to the Holy Disinterested Man, are contained in it!

Such is the Situation, such the State, and inimitable Authority, of every Jesuit in Paraguay. There are but Forty odd of these Monks in all that great Tract of Country; and in it they have above a Million of Souls, not only to obey them, but to worship them: Nor do these their sightless and abject Slaves know any other God: For where the true God is ever so little known, no Man will worship Friers; who always paint Him as like Themselves, as They themselves are, in Reality, unlike Him.

SECT. V. The inevitable Danger of trusting Ecclesiastical Persons with any Worldly Power, or any Share in Government.

THIS Government of the Jesuits in America, the most monstrous, and the most tyrannical, that ever the World saw, is yet the most quiet. It owes its Security to the same Principles, to which it owes its Foundation; Two very short, and very simple Principles: First, that the Jesuits come commissioned from God, to declare His Will to the Indians; then, that the Indians are to submit in All Things, and to give up All Things, to the Jesuits: And these Two Principles are sufficient, nay, necessarily tend, to introduce and perpetuate the most complete Tyranny; a Consideration which ought to be an eternal Warning to all Nations, and all Governments, never to suffer any Man, or Body of Men, to make Religion a Stalking-Horse to Power or Property; since, thenceforward, all the Property and Power of the World will be found too little for any Man, or Body of Men, who pretend to preside and dictate in religious Matters: Witness the Pope, and Mahomet, and the Jesuits in Paraguay.

It seemed to be a pertinent and prophetic Conjecture in the Abyssinians, concerning the Churches erected amongst them by the Romish Missionaries, ‘That they were Forts, raised to master and bridle the Country.’ The Missionaries in Japan had such Confidence in the blind Bigotry of their Converts, who believed the Fathers to be all Vice-gods, and the Will and Wisdom of the Fathers to be the Will and Wisdom of God, that they thought themselves able to form a powerful Army, of these their bewitched Tools, against their natural Lord the Emperor; to make them Traitors and Rebels, out of Zeal for Jesuitism, abusefully called Christianity; and to sacrifice their Lives, to make these Reverend Pedants Masters of the Empire. For, had they conquered, they must have assumed the sovereign Sway, or committed it to some nominal Prince to sway it for them: And then Japan must have felt the Fate of America; namely, a Course of Barbarity, Massacre, and Desolation, with whatever was afflicting and dreadful to human Nature; all to spread Darkness and Delusion over the human Soul, for the Benefit of inhuman Deceivers. The Jesuit Xavier, who is sainted, and called, The Apostle of the Indies, made a Declaration, worthy, indeed, of his Order, but nothing savouring of an Apostle, that Missionaries without Musquets were never successful in making Converts. What a Romish Missionary in Japan owned to that Emperor, was enough to alarm him. The Emperor asked him, How the King of Spain came by such vast Territories in America? The Father replied, in the Simplicity of his Heart, ‘That the Catholic King sent over Missionaries to convert the Americans, and then Troops to master them.’

It cannot be forgot, how precariously Princes reigned formerly in Christendom, whilst the Pope presumed to guide and command; nay, to curse and depose Princes. Doubtless he was then the Monarch of Christendom; and those who were called Christian Monarchs, were, under that mock Name, no other than his Vassals and Tributaries. He published Laws binding to Prince and People, taxed their Subjects, levied Money upon them, armed them against their Sovereign, and often dethroned their Sovereign. Were not all these Demonstrations, that he was Sovereign over them All? His magic Monarchy was therefore not only the most impious, and most complete Tyranny, but the most formed for Continuance, as long as Imposture was swallowed and revered for Religion.

Dominion, founded thus in the Soul, is absolute, and ought to teach all Princes, and States, never to suffer those who profess to direct in Religion, to possess Power; since, where-ever these two are blended together, one of them must perish. It is easy to guess, because it has been always seen, which of the Two will prevail; and then worldly Ambition, covered and recommended by a holy Name, animated by the worst Passions, acting from the worst Motives, and pursuing the worst Ends, will monopolize, or taint and confound, All things, Conscience and Property, Law and Reason, sell and belye Heaven, engross and oppress the Earth. The Priests of Egypt, of old, supreme in the State, as well as in Religion, making the most of these mixt Characters, not only made and unmade Kings, not only deposed and slaughtered them, but ordered the King to slaughter himself, whenever they told him he was unfit to reign. Indeed, the more qualified he was for reigning, the less he answered their Purpose, and was the more proper Victim to holy Jealousy. It was therefore from sound and necessary Policy, that the Sophis, or Sovereigns of Persia, assumed the Headship of the Church, as well as of the State, and were as absolute in Religion as in Government. The Great Turk, without claiming the same Title, assumes the same Right, and exercises the same Authority, by making and unmaking the Mufti, or Chief Pontif, at Pleasure.

The De la Lami is not only Chief Pontif of the Eastern Tartars, but treated like a Deity, and stiled Everlasting Father. What may not an Impostor, so important, so adored, and thought to be Almighty and Immortal, undertake and accomplish? It is no Wonder, that the Tartar Princes are never crowned till they have his Blessing, which may be presumed to mean his Permission. They even eat his Dung as sanctified Dainties.

The Talapois, in the Kingdom of Lao, or Langia, in the East, are so formidable, even to the King, that when they commit the most outrageous Crimes, Robbery, Treason, Rapes, and Murder, he dare not punish them, nor suffer them to be punished. He fears, that, were he to chastise or restrain them, they would make his People, over whom they are Omnipotent, destroy him, or would destroy him themselves. He therefore excuses, or will not see, their most shocking Enormities. If they counterfeit the Coin, ‘The poor Men, says he, were in want, and found this ingenious Contrivance to relieve themselves: Besides, it was pious in them, thus to support their Temples and Convents; and their Accusers are to blame.’ Once, one of these Reverend Friers was, upon full and ocular Evidence, convicted, before the King, for having broke, by Night, into the Apartment of two Sisters, Women of Condition, and murdered them for their Jewels. The Fact was plain, the Evidence undeniable, yet the Murderer innocent. ‘An evil Spirit, says his Majesty, hath done the Murder, under the Form of a Talapoi, to bring Disgrace upon these holy Men.’ Thus that King reigns with their Leave, and they tyrannize without his.

This is, indeed, a very surprising Account; but it is still more surprising, that it comes from the European Missionaries, though it be probably very true. Have not European, Catholic Talapois opposed Princes, their natural Princes, rebelled against Princes, cursed their Princes, deposed their Princes, poisoned and stabbed their Princes? And do they not still claim to be independent of their natural Sovereign every-where, and subject only to their own Jurisdiction, and to the Sovereignty of the Pope?

SECT. VI. The Profession of the Missionaries Abroad; how notoriously insincere, and contradictory to their Tenets and Practices at Home.

THE above strange Boldness and Inconsistency in the Missionaries lead one into many Reflections. When I think particularly of the mighty Empire of China, that, in Numbers of Inhabitants, in good Policy, and consequently in Felicity, it surpasses all the other great Empires of the Earth, past and present; when I consider, what raised it so high, what preserved it so long, as also, what would sink and ruin it for ever; I cannot but wonder at the marvelous Assurance of these Missionaries, in trying to propagate and establish their shocking System of Absurdities and Impieties there; a System, as repugnant to the Simplicity of Christianity, as to that of rational Heathens! When the Moment their History, and Conduct, and Maxims, are known, all reasonable Chineses must abhor them; abhor their History, fraught with Acts of Fraud and Sedition; abhor their Conduct, black with Persecution and Cruelty; abhor their Maxims, levelled against all Conscience and common Sense, full of Blasphemy against the Deity, full of Contradiction to Reason and Figures; all intirely selfish, framed only to exalt themselves, by cheating, impoverishing, and depressing all others.

Can any sensible Chinese, without Resentment and Scorn, hear himself persuaded to renounce his Reason, as the first Step to Happiness; to stifle that Light which certainly comes from God, and to follow what flatly contradicts that Light; to take extravagant Traditions, and Fairy Tales, and Dreams, for the Will and Word of God; to believe Impossibilities as Divine Truths; to practise wonderful Fooleries, as Duties commanded by the God of Wisdom; to esteem the God of the Universe addicted to personal Fondnesses and Favourites; influenced, or rather governed, by a Mother and Kindred; subject to Caprice and Passions; nay, shifting his Passions, and even his Purposes and Decrees, upon every Request and Whim of his Creatures; unaccountably fond of one Sect, however little and obscure, generally Slaves and Vagabonds, and often, in spight of Him, and all his Menaces, obstinate Idolaters; yet, for their Sake, hating, or neglecting, all the rest of the World?

Can a rational Chinese think, that the Almighty and Impartial Being more readily hears a Prayer made by one Man, than the same Prayer made by another Man; that he regards Coats, or Colours, or Names, or Distinctions, or has given Power to particular Men to prevail with himself in Behalf of all the rest (just as a weak Prince does to his Mistress, or his Barber); though these particular Men can in no earthly or visible Thing shew, that they have any Power, or any Faculties, superior to those of the most ordinary Men; when the Morals of the most ordinary Men are, indeed, generally better than theirs, and when such Morals are the only Recommendation of Men in Society? For, God wants no Human Help, no more than he does Grimace and Flattery.

If the Chineses knew further, that these holy Strollers, professing at first only a Desire to be heard, only to instruct them, to pray for them, and to propose to them the meek Principles of the Gospel; contending for no Power, but that of Persuasion; for no Authority, but that of blaming Vice; for no Revenue, hardly for daily Bread, would yet assume a very different Style, when they had once gained sufficient Numbers of Bigots to follow and support them; that they would then boldly claim a public Establishment, and public Rents, amounting to a large Proportion of the Public Wealth; besides all that they could procure by cheating and frightening private Consciences; that they would haughtily assert an absolute Power in Spirituals, that is, in whatever they pleased to call so; even a Power to excommunicate the whole Empire, and the Prince himself with it; that is, to dethrone him, if he submitted not blindly to them, especially in sinking his Sovereignty, or employed it not in setting them above himself, and in persecuting, burning, and exterminating his best and most conscientious Subjects; namely, such as they could not force to give up all Conscience, at the Word of Command, nor to believe Lyes, nor to reverence marvelous Folly and Inhumanity; that they would raise popular Ferments, Tumults, Bloodshed, and Civil Wars, about Bowings, and Tables, and Legerdemain; would promote continual Strife, about mere Words, and dry Names, and internal, involuntary Motions of the Mind; nay, kill and destroy, for such scandalous Considerations; or, where they were not suffered to go so far, at least make these the Subjects of everlasting Strife and Rancour, to the constant Disturbance and Ruin of Society; that they would curse, and oppress, in Defence of the most shocking Blasphemy; maintaining, that the One only God, He who made all things, He who fills all Space, and, in Power and Greatness, is utterly Incomprehensible, might be eaten and multiplied; that they could damn, and save, human Souls, and open the Gates of Heaven and Hell, though they could not, without human Means, command the smallest Leaf from a Bush, or the smallest Candle to burn, or be extinguished; and that such poor weak Creatures, who had not Power to controul the Motions of a Fly, or award the lowest Insect to a common Death, would yet most impiously presume to influence, nay, to direct and determine, the God of infinite Wisdom and Power:

I say, if any Chinese knew all these frightful Truths, concerning the Missionaries, (and Truths they are, too glaring to be denied) would he not wonder at their Boldness, pity the unhappy Countries where such pestilent Instruments bore Sway, rejoice that his own had escaped them, and study to preserve it for ever from them? Indeed, there cannot be a surer Sign, that all monkish Pretensions whatsoever, to propagate Divine Worship and Opinions, by the Aids of Wealth and Power, by Terrors and Penalties, whether Positive or Negative, are utterly repugnant to the benevolent Christian Religion, and to the merciful Will of God, the common Father of all Men, than that they are found certainly baneful to Society, certainly tending to make People ignorant and slavish, utterly uncharitable, and therefore utterly unsociable, as well as few and poor.

There could not therefore be a surer Method of reducing the mighty Numbers of People in China, with all their mighty Wealth, Trade, and Happiness, than by establishing a monkish Hierarchy there, or any such Hierarchy as considers only Itself, and All things For itself.

SECT. VII. The Duration of Tyrannical single Governments, and the changeable Nature of such as are Popular and Free, further considered and illustrated.

WHEN Virtue and good Sense become more prevalent in the World than Vice and Folly, it will be a Wonder indeed, to see the worst Government more permanent than the best. People are generally more constant in evil Habits than in good, more persevering in Grossness and Stupidity than in the Exercise of Reason, and in useful Pursuits. In truth, the more foolish their Habits, the more wild their Tenets are, the more they are prized. The absurd Customs, and extravagant Notions, almost every-where prevailing in the World, shew this to be, in general, the Character of the World, and of most Men in it. They are rarely disposed to change for the Better; or if they be, they almost always mistake the Means: And though they did not, they will find unsurmountable Difficulties thrown in their Way, by those who have Power to do it, and Interest in doing it. Whoever is hurt by the Change, will oppose it, however advantageous it may be to the Whole; as they who gain by the worst Change, will advance the worst; and, in both Cases, the People may be sometimes either so awed as not to attempt the best Change, or so deceived as not to wish for it: At other times, they may be so managed, so seduced and inflamed, as to be hurried into a Passion for the worst.

Where such public Agitations prevail, and in the freest Governments they will always prevail most, the Government itself is constantly threatened with a Revolution, and, at length, with Dissolution, as happened to that of Rome, and had before to that of Athens; which, after all the Laws and Regulations of Solon, still continued turbulent and raging, and hastening to a Downfal. He himself owned, that the Government was bad; but said, the People would bear no better. It is a Wonder, that that of Rome held so long, under such a continual Course of Struggles, between the Leaders of the Senate, and the Leaders of the People. Sallust says expresly, ‘That they (that is, those Leaders) would rather see the State in Convulsions, than lose their superior Sway in it. The Tribunes engaged the People, nay, bribed them, and incensed them against the Senate; all to gain Influence and Popularity, and thence Power and Command, to themselves. Against the Tribunes the Nobility exerted all their Force; in Appearance, for the Authority of the Senate; in Reality, for their own Grandeur. One Side was loud for the Rights of the People; the other, for supporting the Dignity of the Senate; both pleading the Public Good, both struggling for their own particular Pre-eminence. Not was there any End, or Bounds, to this terrible Competition.’

The Faction which prevailed, must, in all good Policy, disable the defeated Faction from recovering: They would rather therefore try a new Constitution, that is, a new Government, than hazard the Re-admission of the late Governors; and risque the utter Change of the State, than lose the Rule of it.

The Romans got rid of the Tyranny of Kings, but fell under the Tyranny of Party. The History of the Commonwealth is little else but the History of Party. Even their Foreign Wars, and Conquests, arose from the continual Struggle of Parties at Home; a Struggle that early presaged the Overthrow of the Commonwealth, which fell finally under that great Party-Man, Cæsar, who, by the Force and Improvement of Party, put an End to Liberty. Sylla and Marius had shewn the Thing to be feasible: Many others had attempted it. Cæsar accomplished it; he oppressed Liberty, and oppressed it for ever.—A sad Consideration, that when Liberty is once lost, it is hardly ever to be recovered; it is the more sad, as Liberty naturally furnishes Enemies against Itself. Great Liberty always produces Faction: Faction is always dangerous, often pernicious to Liberty.

Faction, if it be not formed by some particular Head, will at least soon find a Head; or a Head will soon find the Faction. Then, as He will stick at nothing to humour Them, They will stick at nothing to exalt Him, even so as to enable Him to destroy the State, and Themselves with it. If Catiline fail, so must his Followers. They therefore desperately concur with him, in all his most desperate Measures, to destroy the Government with Fire and Sword, and, by the same dreadful Means, to set up another Government. The whole Faction were so devilishly determined, that not a Man of them, amongst so many Thousands, all desperate and poor, would betray any of the rest, though tempted to it by the Offer of Pardon, and a great Reward; as I have elsewhere observed. They even blaspheme the sacred Name of Liberty, and use it as a Stale to their savage Treason; prostitute it, yet complain of the want of it; and pretend to restore it, whilst they are extirpating it.

Indeed, by the Sound of Liberty, every enterprising Tribune could shake and endanger the State; and his most pernicious Projects were sometimes the most popular: Sicinius Dentatus proposed, upon the Conquest of the City and Territory of Veii, to divide the whole Roman People, and to send One-half of all Degrees thither: A Proposal which, had it succeeded, would have put a Period to the Roman State; yet the People, ever fond of Novelties, and popular Projects, rejoiced in the Proposal, and were hardly kept from executing it.

It was thus the worst Men made themselves popular, by offering popular Laws, and bewailing popular Grievances; Laws which were really wanted, but sometimes could not be obtained, or were attempted to be obtained in such a Way, upon such Terms, and by such Instruments, as made the Execution of them more mischievous than the Want of them; Grievances that could not be removed, without introducing worse. What seemed more reasonable, what more wanted, than the Distribution of the public Lands amongst the Roman People, who had conquered them? What more reasonable, what more just, than an Agrarian Law; limiting the monstrous Wealth of some particular Subjects, and supplying the miserable Wants of All? But, besides the great Difficulty in gaining and executing such a Law, those who were loudest and most active in pushing it, meant only their own Grandeur, and to enthrall the People with their own Consent. They knew that any popular Cry would be followed with popular Applause, with popular Confidence, and popular Authority.

Even the extravagant and enslaving Scheme of the Tribune Rullus was applauded by the People, because he declared it to be for the Benefit of the People; though nothing was ever more obviously destructive of their Liberty, and of the very Being of the State. By it, ‘He and Nine Confederates more, were to be invested, during Five Years, with absolute Power over the Commonwealth, over all its Forces and Revenues, over all the Lands and Fortunes of particular Subjects; Power to settle Colonies, to distribute the public Treasure to the People at Discretion, and to alter and transfer Property at Pleasure.’ A Scheme, which, at first View, declared these Ten to be uncontroulable Tyrants over the Republic, and All in it to be absolute Slaves to these Ten Tyrants; yet, so pleasing to the People, that it required all the Credit, all the Address and Eloquence, of Cicero, to undeceive them, and prevail with them to reject it.

There never was any human Society, which did not want something: In every Society, there will be many Men wanting many Things. These, as they will be apt to complain, will like such as pity them, and join with them in their Complaints. Such who pretend to relieve them, will be still more dear to them. The same Spirit, and the same Materials, which produce Mountebanks and false Teachers, produce false Patriots and Reformers, who, in order to gain popular Influence, must practise and promote popular Deceit; as I have already largely illustrated.

The great Unsteadiness, and, consequently, the great Insecurity, of popular Governments, as well as the sudden Gusts of Rage and Injustice, to which they are subject, is signally exemplified in the Commonwealth of the Grisons. Whenever the Peasants are heated by any malevolent Report against any Man, though it be only whispered, perhaps to be traced to no Author, or the Author never to be discovered, they flock in Crouds to the Diet, and demand a Chamber of Justice, or rather command it. For they are Masters, and this, nor any thing else, must be denied to their Fury, be their Fury ever so groundless. The Person accused, however innocent, is put upon proving himself not guilty. For the Charge is without Proof, and supported only by popular Jealousy, raised by any Incendiary, and Artizan of Falshood. Be the Person ever so guiltless, he must be tortured; and the Torture often produces Confession of false Guilt, which is followed by real Execution. Such as can stand the Rack, are indeed acquitted, but live ever afterwards bereft of their Limbs. So that here is certain Punishment, without any certain Crime, or for none: The Innocent may die by false Confession: The most Guilty may escape by making none. No Wonder, that upon such popular Alarms, such as any spiteful Slanderer may wantonly raise, the Gentry fly: For the Peasants are both Judges and Accusers; and there is no Safety, though there be no Crime. Some Sacrifices must be made, generally many are made, to asswage popular Rage, which, when it is most blind, is most carnivorous.

Here is a Republic, where, first, any Malecontent, any Incendiary, may, by any spiteful Device or Forgery, rouse the People to Insurrections and Massacre; and where, secondly, all the principal Men, who are thus least safe in it, are under a continual Temptation to abolish such popular Licentiousness, and to introduce a quieter Government, for their own Security. Besides, we have an Instance from the same Country, how easily, and readily, and madly, the People themselves are drawn to change the most popular Government, and to submit to absolute Tyranny. A Community of the Grisons, under the gentlest Yoke in the World, without any Grievance to complain of, but that their Magistrates were now-and-then of a different Religion, and that Protestants were tolerated amongst them, were such surprising Bigots, as to throw off their just and mild Governors, cut the Throats of their unoffending Neighbours, and cast themselves into the Hands of the Spaniards, the most terrible Masters in the World.

Upon the Whole, Free Governments are indeed difficult to be conquered, but subject to change; and it is scarce possible to frame, or even to conceive, one of them free from the Materials of Change, and internal Dissolution. They may conquer great Monarchies: The Roman Republic conquered many, but, at last, conquered itself, by the very Means and Instruments of its Conquests, even its own victorious Armies and Commanders. That State, like others, equally Popular and Free, produced Great Men: Those Great Men often threatened, at last effected, the Ruin of the State. They proved equally dangerous at the Head of Factions, as at the Head of Armies; and frequently came to lead Armies, by having led Factions.

Great absolute Monarchies cannot properly be called Government, because they can never be well and equally administred, even where the Monarch most sincerely intends it; a Case which seldom happens, or can be presumed. He who directs All, cannot be exactly acquainted how All is executed, and cannot answer for the Virtue and Sufficiency of all the infinite Instruments employed by him, and under him. Absolute Power is generally absolute Misrule, a Train of public Spoilers, preying upon one another, certainly upon all others; and, under the Name of Protecting, in fact, Distressing and Consuming Men.—Yet this Sort of Monarchy is generally lasting; it is subject indeed to be conquered, but is obnoxious, within itself, to no essential Change. The Monarch himself is frequently changed, and for ever liable to be so; to be dethroned, imprisoned, slain: But such Changes, however frequent, are but Personal: The Power and Policy is the same, and continues. Civil Wars and Revolutions have been frequent in India, Persia, and Turkey; but, in all of them, the Constitution remains unvaried; and the Successor of an Emperor, deposed for abusing his Power, is still at Liberty to abuse it as much.

There never was a freer, or a braver People, under the Sun, than the Cossacks. Oppression at Home from their Polish Lords, drove them to seek Shelter in the Ukrain, from their Courage, and into a League of mutual Defence. It is wonderful, what great Defeats small Bands of them have given to great Armies, and what amazing Exploits they have performed against the Turks, upon the Black Sea, where, in small open Boats, without the Help or Possibility of Ordnance, they have awed, surprised, and beaten, the Turkish Navy, and often taken and destroyed their proud Gallies, full of Men and Artillery. But their Government is too free to be steady and lasting. Their Hetman, or Chief, is elective; and a terrible Station he holds; since, upon every public Disaster and Miscarriage, which must frequently happen from their frequent and desperate Excursions, he is almost sure to be cut to pieces, however able and faultless he be. Yet this Honour, which no Wise Man would chuse, the Wisest Man dare not refuse. If he do, he is as surely cut to pieces for Not serving, as if he had served ever so Ill. So that any factions Member, may, from private Spite or Ambition, propose his Enemy, or Rival, to be their Chief, on purpose to have him staughtered. Thus daily Commotions, and continual Tragedies, are to be apprehended amongst them; and the Chief is under constant Temptations to save his Life, and consult his own Security, by conspiring against that of the Public, and by betraying the State to some powerful Neighbour, able to protect him against his own People; and many such Neighbours there are, ready to combine with and encourage him, in Moscovy, Turkey, Tartary, and Poland.

Crotona, an antient Greek City in Italy, famous for the Birth of Pythagoras, was a Commonwealth, administered by a Council of a Thousand: That of Locris had one as numerous: The Seres, a People in Scythia, had one of Five thousand. What Union, what Peace and Secrecy, could be expected in such tumultuous Councils? We may guess, and indeed find, by their History, to what Factions and Struggles, to what intestine Changes and Calamities, these popular States were subject; what Scope and Encouragement was given to Demagogues; what Danger attended their best Magistrates, what evil Constructions the best Measures; and, thence, what Temptation to these Magistrates to make themselves independent; and thus introduce a Single Tyranny, or that of a Few.

Syracuse was the proudest and most opulent of all the Greek Cities; till the People, wanton with Plenty and Prosperity, and impatient of any Restraint upon their Liberty, (though, without Restraint, no Liberty can subsist) ruined All, Themselves, their Liberty, and their State, by setting up a popular Government; which, whilst it lasted, was little better than Anarchy, and naturally produced, what, from the Beginning, it naturally tended to produce, Single Tyranny. The Multitude made War and Peace; gave and resumed Governments, and military Command; made and abolished Treaties; were Masters of Life and Death; declared and pardoned Criminals; despised real Merit, and exalted Favourites without Merit.

This popular Liberty, or rather this Madness, this wild Power in the Many, could not hold, when every loud Son of the Rabble was first heard; and, minding only his own little Interest, trusted most in those who flattered him best. All lived in a continual Intercourse of deceiving, and being deceived: He who could best deceive All, was in a Way to be Master of All. Dionysius proved to be the Man; a Man ever since renowned and detested, by the Name of the Tyrant. He cajolled the Multitude, and the Multitude adored him. For Their sake, and for his Attachment to them, he told Them, (and this was Argument enough to gain their Belief) that he went in hourly Peril of his Life; and begged them to appoint him a Guard: They readily granted him what he wanted, and he readily took what they had thus helped him to; even the Prerogative of putting Chains upon them All. He even entailed the Tyranny upon his Son. When they were released from this Second crazy and contemptible Tyrant, by the virtuous Timoleon, the People, bewitched with the Notions of unbounded Liberty, (a Thing which can never last; and, whilst it does, is in continual Combination against itself) struggling for the old popular Government, Agathocles, once a Pathic, a Haunter of Brothels, then a common Soldier, now an Officer, adopting the fashionable Cry for Liberty and the People, charmed them, cheated them, enslaved them, and then butchered them by Centuries.

Sybaris was a populous and thriving State; the City contained Three hundred thousand Inhabitants. The Government was popular and unsteady. The People, provoked and deceived by one Telys, a designing Citizen, banished Five hundred Citizens at once, the most wealthy of the Whole; Men whom He disliked, and whom he taught the Populace to hate. The Exiles were protected and patronized by the Crotonians; a War ensued; an Army of Three hundred thousand Sybarites were utterly routed and slaughtered, by a Third of the Number of Crotonians, commanded by the famous Wrestler Milo. The City itself of Sybaris was sacked, and laid desolate: It was not rebuilt for almost Sixty Years; and then again razed by the Crotonians. The fugitive Sybarites, assisted by a Colony from Athens, built another City, with another Name; and, using the New-comers insolently, lost the chief Sway to them. So much they got and lost, by their Possession of popular Liberty, and by their Faith in Telys their popular Leader.

The Populace at Argos, in one wild Sedition, destroyed most of the considerable Argives, without other Evidence, than the Insinuations and bold Calumnies of their Orators. All the Rich were accused; all the Accused were found guilty; all the Guilty were put to Death. Even the inhuman Orators were, at last, terrified with such infinite Executions, no less than 1600 in a Train; and, growing slack in their Pursuit of more, became thence suspected; Suspicion was Guilt enough; and they were themselves slaughtered; they who were the Authors of so much Slaughter!

An Aristocracy, or a Government of the Nobles, is more secure, as it is more steady, than a popular Government; and though generally very strict and severe, yet nothing so terrible as absolute Monarchy. That of Sparta lasted many Ages, after it was rescued, by the Wisdom and Courage of Lycurgus, from the Weakness and Violence of Popularity, into which it had lapsed; and was therefore hastening to Dissolution, as I have before observed. One Part of the Spartan Policy seems extremely unjust and cruel: As the genuine Spartans were not very numerous, all bred only to Arms; the Grounds were cultivated, and all servile Offices were performed, by the Helotes, their Slaves, the Natives of the Country, first conquered by the Heraclides. These Slaves were very numerous, and presumed not to be well-affected to their proud Masters; who therefore used, from time to time, to employ the most trusty Spartan Youth on secret and nightly Expeditions, to massacre quietly such of these Slaves, as were most obnoxious for Strength, Capacity, and Spirit; even Two thousand at a time.

The Venetians, with all their Experience and Refinements, their great Council, their Senate, and their College; with all their Checks, Rotations, and Ballotings; their extraordinary Maxims, and Jealousy; could not boast much Security and Permanence, but for the supreme and unaccountable Authority of the Council of Ten; the constant Terror of all turbulent Subjects, and the great Bulwark of the Commonwealth.

The Government of the Argives was, in a great measure, the same with that of Sparta; but through One Defect, I mean the Want of a Senate, like that of the Ephori there, was subject to terrible Agitations and Insurrections. Any popular Jealousy and Rage, always easily raised by any evil Instruments amongst the Populace, for want of such a Council to intercept it, discharged itself directly upon the King, and ended not, but in his Murder, or Deposition. It was therefore just Policy in one of the Kings of Sparta, to institute the Ephori; for, though that Institution checked the Royal Authority, as his Queen weakly upbraided him, it secured and prolonged it: And the Spartan Government, which lasted so long, might have lasted still longer, but for its Attempts to make Conquests; which introduced new Maxims, with the Means and Examples of Luxury; let loose the Ambition of particular Spartans, and unsettled all Things. It was admirably framed for Self-preservation, but not for Inlargement.

The Roman Government was itself enslaved by the same Spirit and Instruments, by which it enslaved so many other Nations; I mean, by popular Heroes and Armies. Thenceforwards the Roman Government could not be said to exist, even with a Roman Emperor at the Head of it. It was lost in Imperial Frolic and Fury; in the Humour, Whim, or Appetite, of a Fool, or a Madman, Claudius, or Nero. Neither could the wisest Prince alter it, much less restore it: This was, indeed, impossible; and some such were destroyed for attempting it; not could the best do more, than shew their Pity and Generosity, by particular Acts of Justice and Benevolence, which died with them. The best Reigns were only Intervals of Violence, Robbery, and Bloodshed. Yet this Tyranny, this Inversion and Suppression of Government, proved lasting. The Tyrants were frequently destroyed, but the Tyranny never.

This is the Lot and Curse of Tyrants, without bringing Relief to the People; unless, perhaps, it prove some Consolation to them, to see, that their grand Oppressor, that the proudest Ruler, holds a more precarious Life, and is hourly threatened with a more ignominious Death, than his meanest Slave. There are eternal Changes in such Government, but never of it; and the same Hands which preserve the Monarchy unchangeable, may change the Monarch every Day.

The Prætorian Bands, the Turkish Janizaries, the Russian Strelitzes, as they can make and unmake Sovereigns, are rather the Masters, than the Servants, of their Sovereigns: And a Prince, thus at the Mercy of his Soldiery, must, to save Himself, give up All to their Mercy; his Subjects, his Revenue, his Prerogative, his Ministers, and his Favourites. Sometimes, after all these Sacrifices, he is sacrificed Himself. A dreadful Situation, both for Princes and Subjects; the more dreadful, as it never, never mends. It is a Sort of Government which destroys Government, and all Things; Princes, as well as People; but is Itself never destroyed, till it hath destroyed All. It may change its Name, from Roman to Greek, from Greek to Saracen, from Saracen to Turkish, from Persian to Parthian; but its Nature doth not change: It is still military; still arbitrary and violent; perpetual, and unchangeable.

A free People may conquer an absolute Monarchy: The Romans conquered many; indeed all that they attacked. But the same Way that leads to foreign Conquest, leads to domestic Slavery; and where Slavery is so established, it is established for ever; as it was at Rome: Vestigia nulla retrorsum. It is not likely, that the Soldiers will let the Laws govern the King, when They cannot govern the Laws. With them, the Opportunity of making Princes infers the Power of doing it: Power is Right; Right is perpetual and sacred. The Roman Emperors continued to be made by them, or were deposed and destroyed by them, to the last. Where the Son succeeded the Father, he did it by their Fiat and Approbation.

In Turky, Superstition has confined the Janizaries, in the Choice of their Princes, to the Line of Othman: But they have dethroned, imprisoned, and butchered their Princes, as freely as if they had been chosen from the Army, or the Rabble. It must be owned, too, that History furnishes not such an able and brave Race of Princes, as have been found of that Line. For Three hundred Years they were all Heroes: A Wonder indeed! The greatest Wretches are commonly the Descendents of the greatest Heroes. Such, literally, were those of Cæsar, of Sesostris, of Cyrus, of Tamerlane, and Charlemagne. Yet, during the Successors of these great Princes, the Dread and Infamy of their several Reigns put no Period to their dreadful Form of Reigning, though it often did to their Lives. Sometimes the immediate Successor is only conspicuous for being unworthy of his Ancestors: Witness Edward II. the weak and unhappy Son of Edward I. Richard II. the hopeful Heir of Edward III. Also Henry VI. the wretched Son and Successor of Henry V.

This Consideration is alone sufficient to expose the horrid Nature and Claim of despotic Sway in any one Man. For, Once that it falls into the Hands of an able Prince, it may fall Ten times into the Hands of Fools; who consider the Country as their Estate, and Men as their Cattle. In this Light the Emperor Severus (one of the best, too, that the Romans knew) seems to have considered the Roman Empire, and the Romans themselves: His last Advice to his Two Sons was, To fill the Treasury; (without limiting them to any honest Methods of doing it) To feed and gratify the Soldiery; and to take no further Care or Concern for any thing else. He did not so much as name the Roman People, or Senate: He even knew, that these very Youths were likely to rend and waste the Empire; for they hated one another mortally, and were already in a State of War; and the Elder had attempted to poison, then to assassinate his Father. Soon after his Father’s Death he butchered his Brother, even in the Arms of their common Mother; proved a Tyrant, and a Butcher, to the Romans, but a liberal Slave to the Army; agreeably to the Advice of his Father. He died, however, in Blood, as became such a bloody Man. His Successor proved worse than He, and had the like Fate; which, in a long Succession, scarce any escaped.

But though the Imperial Tyrants were still falling, the Imperial Tyranny stood still firm. The Soldiers would brook no other: How should they? Whenever they murdered one Emperor, they were sure of being well paid for setting up another; and then murdered Him, too, when they had left him no more to give them. It was a fine Government to Them: From it they had the Spoils of the World.

Why did the free Romans, why did the free Greeks, hate Monarchy, and despise Monarchs, but because they were lawless, absolute Tyrants; their Subjects absolute Slaves, and their great Armies for ever defeated, by Handfuls of Men born free, and therefore brave? An Athenian valued himself more upon being the Son of an Athenian, than upon the Blood he derived, by his Mother, from the Kings of Thrace: And the Daughter of a Roman Citizen refused to be the Wife of a King.

SECT. VIII. An Inquiry, Which is the most Equal and Perfect Government: Our own proved to be so.

THE most equal and perfect Government amongst the Romans, was their First Government; that of King, Senate, and People, and it is the most perfect of all Governments.

Absolute Power, in the People, is Madness, naturally and hastily running into the Hands of One Man, where it is Madness still; but more dangerous, as it is then harder to be removed: In the Hands of a Few, it is the Tyranny of a Few. Now, what can controul either a governing Multitude, or a Cabal that governs the Multitude, or one Man who dictates to all?

Power divided between the People and the Nobility, produces Distrust, Faction, and Civil Feuds, threatening to all Government; as in Rome during the Commonwealth, which perished by them.

Power divided between King and Nobles, besides the infinite Distrust between Him and Them, as in Poland, infers absolute Slavery in the Populace; nor can there be more miserable Slaves than the Poles, who are worked and sold like Cattle, and often killed by their Lords, with as much Wantonness, and as little Ceremony; almost with equal Impunity: A Ducat compensates for the Life of a Subject: Sometimes no Inquiry is made, and consequently no Forfeiture.

Power, divided between a King and the People, produces equal or more Distrusts; and as there is no Check nor Mediator, where both are equal, he must either enslave them, or be deposed by them. The Athenians banished Theseus; and Pisistratus mastered the Athenians. I have above mentioned the defective Policy of the Argives, their Struggles against their Kings, and their barbarous Usage of them. As Power, when it is no longer limited, is no longer Government, but only the Sallies and Outrages of Passion and Folly; Liberty, when it is no longer confined, no longer exists. Both Liberty and Power are known and justified by their Bounds.

The Form of Three Estates is the most perfect Form, as it comprehends every material Interest in a Country, and balances all. Four would be too many; since a Misunderstanding is more likely to happen amongst Four than amongst Three. More would but still create more Discord, Distress, and Confusion.

A little Observation, without much Reasoning, or any Refinement, will serve to satisfy any unprejudiced Man of the Truth of what I say, and of the superior Excellency of Three Estates to any other Form whatsoever.

In all the English Reigns, from the Conquest to the Reformation, the Liberty of England was very defective, and therefore the English Government was imperfect. In all the Struggles between the King and the Barons, it was only for absolute Power to the Crown, or absolute Independency in the Barons: The People were never further considered, than as they joined one Side, or the other; the King, or the Nobles; and the chief Use that either made of them, was to draw them into their particular Quarrels, to spill their Blood, oppress their Persons, and exhaust their Property. The Commons had no Share in the Legislature, at least no equal and proportionable Share. There were only Two Estates, the King and the Nobles; no Third to balance them; and therefore frequent Struggles and Wars between these Two. Neither did it proceed from any Virtue in either the Crown or the Lords, but only from the Wealth and Strength of the Commons, that a Third Estate, that of the Commons, was established with proper Weight and Authority.

These Three Estates constitute the most free, the most equal, and the most happy Government yet known in the World, or that ever can be known. It is the Government which Tacitus mentions as the most complete, but the rarest to be found, and the hardest to be formed.—Cunctas nationes & urbes populus, aut primores, aut singuli regunt: Delecta ex his & constituta Reipub. forma, laudari facilius quam evenire; vel, si evenit, haud diuturna esse potest. ‘All Nations and Communities are governed by the People, by the Nobility, or by single Rulers: A Constitution framed of each, and comprehending all Three, is easier admired than accomplished; or, if accomplished, is not lasting.’

As this Power, in the Hands of One, makes all Men Slaves; in the Hands of a Few, it makes so many Tyrants; in the Hands of All, it confounds All: But in the joint Hands of One, of Several, and of Many, that is, in the Hands of the Populus, Primores, and Singuli; King, Lords, and Commons, all constituting one mixt Legislature; it is a complete System, including all Ranks, and salutary to All. This is our Constitution, such a one as yields more Security, both to the Governors and the Governed, than any that has yet appeared in the World, and more than any other can. In it, all the Three Parts are equally bound and interested to preserve one another, and each is only safe, where the other Two are so. Without a King, one of the Two Estates would soon swallow up, or abolish, the other: A King, without the other Two Estates, would be in Danger of abolishing himself.

The Experiment hath been tried. The Suppression of the Royal Power was followed by that of the Nobility: No King, No Lords. The King had before attempted to abolish both Lords and Commons; an Attempt against Nature and Duty, impotent and odious, subversive of his own Power, and fatal to his Person. They had as good a Right to rule without Him, as He without Them; and sad Experience taught both Him and Them, that they could not rule without One Another.

No other Scheme can be pursued in England, without pernicious Consequences to the Whole, and even to those who pursue it. No absolute Monarchy can be settled without a Civil War: And many Civil Wars would probably follow one another. If a Civil War should end in absolute Monarchy, it is not probable, that he who aimed at it, would enjoy it: If it should end in a Commonwealth, it is likely the same Instrument that set it up, would pull it down, and raise himself upon its Fall.

The only Hope and Aim therefore, amongst all reasonable, all suffering Subjects, after all the Efforts and Bloodshed of a Civil War, would be, to recover the former Government: An Event, which, howeve salutary to the Whole, would be ruinous to the Innovators. The haughty assuming Prince, who would submit to no Law, would not be again trusted to administer the Laws. Such as would not submit to a limited Monarchy, must then square their Allegiance to it, or suffer for refusing.

Can there be stronger Motives to a Prince to govern justly, or to Subjects to behave dutifully? This is the only sure Policy in both Governors and Governed; this the only certain Rule to preserve good Government.

I might inquire next, how far the Judgment of Tacitus may be prophetic, when applied to the Stability of this our Constitution: But I chuse not to enter into such an Inquiry, perhaps neither satisfactory to myself, nor to my Reader. I own there is Danger; I think I see the Causes of it, but cannot see the Cure. I doubt the greatest Danger is little known, or apprehended.

I shall end this Discourse with the same excellent Observations, with which Sir Walter Raleigh ends his History of the World; Observations worthy of that great and masterly Genius, perhaps as great as ever England, or human Nature, produced.

‘By this which we have already set down, is seen the Beginning and End of the Three First Monarchies of the World; whereof the Founders and Erectors thought, that they could never have ended. That of Rome, which made the Fourth, was also at this Time almost at the Highest(a). We have left it flourishing in the Middle of the Field; having rooted up, or cut down, all that kept it from the Eyes and Admiration of the World. But, after some Continuance, it shall begin to lose the Beauty it had; the Storms of Ambition shall beat her great Boughs and Branches one against another; her Leaves shall fall off, her Limbs wither, and a Rabble of barbarous Nations enter the Field, and cut her down.’

‘Now, these great Kings, and conquering Nations, have been the Subject of those antient Histories, which have been preserved, and yet remain among us; and withal, of so many tragical Poets, as in the Persons of powerful Princes, and other mighty Men, have complained against Infidelity, Time, Destiny; and, most of all, against the variable Success of worldly Things, and Instability of Fortune. To these Undertakings, these great Lords of the World have been stirred up, rather by the Desire of Fame, which ploweth up the Air, and soweth in the Wind, than by the Affection of bearing Rule, which draweth after it so much Vexation, and so many Cares. And that this is true, the good Advice of Cineas to Pyrrhus proves: And, certainly, as Fame hath often been dangerous to the Living, so it is to the Dead of no Use at all, because separate from Knowledge; which, were it otherwise, and the extreme ill Bargain of buying this lasting Discourse understood by them which are dissolved, they themselves would, then, rather have wished to have stolen out of the World without Noise, than to be put in mind, that they have purchased the Report of their Actions in the World, by Rapine, Oppression, and Cruelty; by giving in Spoil the innocent and labouring Soul to the idle and insolent; and by having emptied the Cities of the World of their antient Inhabitants, and filled them again with so many and so variable Sorts of Sorrows.

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‘For the rest, if we seek a Reason of the Succession and Continuance of this boundless Ambition in mortal Men, we may add to that which hath been already said, that the Kings and Princes of the World have always laid before them the Actions, but not the Ends, of those great Ones which preceded them. They are always transported with the Glory of the one, but they never mind the Misery of the other, till they find the Experience in themselves: They neglect the Advice of God, whilst they enjoy Life, or hope it; but they follow the Counsel of Death, upon his first Approach. It is He that puts into Man all the Wisdom of the World, without speaking a Word; which God, with all the Words of his Law, Promises or Threats, doth infuse. Death, which hateth and destroyeth Man, is believed; God, which hath made him, and loves him, is always deferred. I have considered (saith Solomon) all the Works that are under the Sun; and, behold, all is Vanity, and Vexation of Spirit. But who believes it, till Death tells it us? It was Death, which, opening the Conscience of Charles V. made him injoin his Son Philip to restore Navarre; and King Francis I. of France, to command, that Justice should be done upon the Murderers of the Protestants in Merindol and Cabrieres; which, till then, he neglected. It is, therefore, Death alone that can suddenly make Man to know himself. He tells the Proud and Insolent, that they are but Abjects, and humbles them at the Instant; makes them cry, complain, and repent; yea, even to hate their fore-past Happiness: He takes the Account of the Rich, and proves him a Beggar, a naked Beggar, which hath Interest in nothing, but the Gravel which fills his Mouth. He holds a Glass before the Eyes of the most Beautiful, and makes them see therein their Deformity and Rottenness; and they acknowlege it.

‘O eloquent, just, and mighty Death! whom None could advise, Thou hast persuaded: What None have dared, Thou hast done: And whom all the World hath flattered, Thou only hast cast out of the World, and despised: Thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched Greatness, all the Pride, Cruelty, and Ambition, of Man; and covered it all over with these Two narrow Words, Hic jacet.

POSTSCRIPT.

I Add what follows, for the Information of such, who entertain Notions of Liberty inconsistent with those of Government; and I do it, because I have met with many such, who were otherwise reasonable and well-meaning Men.

In every State there must be unbounded Power somewhere. The free Romans had it as much as the tyrannical Roman Emperors had it afterwards; nor can there be any Safety to a State, where the Power of the State is bounded. The Romans, whilst yet free, found it necessary, upon some Conjunctures, to invest the Magistrates with unlimited Authority, where the Roman Government did not furnish a present Remedy against present and unforeseen Danger: The Magistrates, upon such Occasions, were charged to provide, ‘that no Evil befel the Republic;’ and the Means of doing it were left to their own Discretion.

The English Government is as absolute as that of Turky; that is, it is supreme, as every Government must be. The Difference is, that, in Turky, the sole Will of the Sultan is Law: In England, the Law is the Will of King, Lords, and Commons; and the English Constitution claims the same Power over the Lives, Liberties, Persons, and Properties of the English Subjects, as that of Turky does over those of the Turks.

It is the necessary and indispensable Privilege of every independent State, to oblige every Man in it to serve it upon its own Terms; and to punish, as it pleases, such as refuse to comply. No less Power will suffice, to serve or to save a State; otherwise the Governed would be too strong for the Governors; and the Governors unable to protect the Governed: A Case which infers the Subjection of Sovereignty, and the Sovereignty of Subjects; and, consequently, the Dissolution of Government and Society.

They who execute Laws, are, indeed, limited; but the Lawmakers know no Limitation. The Power of the Three States is, therefore, unbounded; and Subjects are only so far free, as the Legislative permits. Laws are no longer Laws, when Subjects dare refuse to obey them. They are even worse than none; as they then only serve to declare, that the Power of the Subject is stronger than that of the Sovereign: Indeed Liberty doth not only imply Limitation, but can never be secure, where it is not limited. Liberty without Limits is Licentiousness, which is Popular Tyranny; as unbounded Power in the Prince is Single Tyranny.

Endnotes

 [(a) ] Sero enim resistimus ei, quem, per annos decem, aluimus contra nos. Cic. ad Att.

 [(a) ] Ut cæde integerrimi civis facultas adipiscendi potestatis teterrimo daretur; says Val. Maximus.

 [(a) ] In commune non consulunt—dum singuli pugnant, omnes vincuntur.

 [(a) ] Non potuisse se, cum cupisset, sermones hominum sustinere.

 [(a) ] Cave autem putes (says Cicero to Atticus) quenquam hominem in Italia turpem esse, qui hinc absit.

 [(a) ] Si recludantur Tyrannorum mentes, posse adspici laniatus & ictus.

 [(a) ] Ille ea quæ nunc sunt, & futura viderit; &, ne fierint, contenderit; &, facta ne viderit, vitam reliquerit.

 [(a) ] I cannot but here remember, with very singular Pleasure, the Place where this Discourse was composed, many Years ago, (about Ten or a Dozen) at Mr. Bathurst’s House, in Clarendon Park; a fine Place, and a worthy Man! my amiable and accomplished Friend, with whom I have passed many instructive Hours, many pleasant Days and Weeks; a Friend, whom I shall ever highly esteem, and who deserves all Esteem, from all good Englishmen, for every desirable Quality, and every sound and virtuous Principle.

 [(a) ] Postquam Regum pertæsum, leges maluerunt. Tacit.

 [(a) ] Plebi, cui ad eam diem summa ope inservitum est, injuriæ a primoribus fieri sapere. Liv.

 [(a) ] Fremebant, se foris pro libertate & imperio dimicantes, domi a civibus captos & oppressos esse.

 [(a) ] Omnes rerum mutationes cædem, sugam, aliaque hostilia portendant.

 [(a) ] Ut denique omnia quæ improbi fingebant, magis vera existimarent, quam quæ vere facta erant, & a nobis doccbantur.

 [(a) ] Ut omnia facta scripta, dicta, promissa, cogitata Cæsaris, plus valerent, quam si ipse viveret.

 [(a) ] Hoc inter cætera vel pessimum habet crudelitas, quod perseverandum est, nec patet ad meliora regressus. Scelera enim sceleribus tuenda sunt. Quod jam eo infelicius est, cui jam esse malo necesse est. Senec.

 [(a) ] Rapere, consumere, sua parvi pendere. Sallust.

 [(a) ] Bellum magis desierat, quam pax cæperat.

 [(a) ] Periculosa severitas, flagitiosa largitio: seu nihil militi; seu omnia concederentur, in ancipiti republica.

 [(a) ] Sir Walter ends his History with the Victory of Paulus Æmilius over Perseus King of Macedon; Anno Urbis 585.

 


 

Gordon's Discourses on Tacitus - Part 1

TO The Right Honourable Sir Robert Walpole,

First Commissioner of the Treasury, Chancellor and Under-Treasurer of the Exchequer, one of his Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, and Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

SIR,

AS You were the first who promoted the following Work in a public manner, I take liberty to present it to the Public under your name, and to do an act of acknowledgment for one of generosity. Be pleased to be the Patron of a Book which under your Patronage was composed. It is natural and common for men who profess Letters, to seek the countenance and protection of Men of Power; and from such of them as to greatness of fortune were happy enough to join greatness of mind, they have not sought in vain.

Power without Politeness and Complacency, is at best distasteful, often hated; amiable when it knows how to condescend. It is thus that men in high stations avoid envy from such as stand below them. He who cannot rise to their height, finds a sort of retaliation and amends in their coming down to him. No Man is pleased with a behaviour which represents him as contemptible. To make us think well of ourselves, by another’s shewing us that we are well thought of by him, is a generous and artful civility: a lesson which stately and rebuking men want to learn. A mean man of great quality and figure (for such incongruities we often meet) teaches others to scorn him, by his shewing that he scorns them. Affability therefore, accompanied with good sense, which will always guard it from exceeding, is the art of keeping great Splendor from growing offensive to the rest of the world.

It must be owned, that no Affability, even the most flowing; no Genius, even the most elevated, can escape particular distastes; and from the dislike of Persons to that of Actions the transition is easy and too common. Men do not easily discern good qualities and intentions in one, to whom they do not wish well. All men, even those of the most unexceptionable Characters, are apt to form their judgment over-hastily, when their passions are warmed: and from this cause it has often proceeded, that the inevitable misfortunes of times and accidents have been charged upon such, whose interest and study it was to prevent them. This is one of the evils and uneasinesses inseparably attending every Administration. When a State is under heavy burdens and difficulties, the means to relieve and support it will be, almost always, proportionably heavy: and as whatever proves heavy, however necessary, is easily called Oppression; so the hand, which administers a remedy, may, merely because it is felt, be easily styled oppressive.

Besides the reason which I have already given for this Address, I have another; one taken from the Character of my Author. As he was a Man of Affairs, a great Minister, I chuse to present him to another; to one who having been long engaged in public Life, having had long experience of men, seen far into their bent and foibles, and been conversant with the mysteries and primary operations of Government; can thence readily judge whether Tacitus has refined too much in his Politics, or been over-severe in his Censures upon mankind: or whether this charge has not been chiefly raised by men of speculation, who, however furnished with Learning, were yet unacquainted with the transactions of States, and ignorant of human nature; or perhaps willing to do honour to it, or to themselves, at the expence of Truth. Men are to be known, not by Theories taken up in closets, but by Commerce with men; and best of all in those great scenes of public Life, where You, Sir, have sustained, for so many years, a high and important part, and gained eminent experience as well as the just opinion of great sufficiency.

I could here, agreeably to the usual style and purpose of Dedications, say a great many advantageous things, without risquing the usual censure incurred by Dedicators. But such things I would much rather say of you, than to you. In this place, I shall only profess to be, what I intirely am, with perfect truth, and high regard,

SIR, Your most obliged, and most obedient humble Servant,

T. GORDON.

 


 

DISCOURSES UPON TACITUS.

DISCOURSE I.

Upon the former English Translations of Tacitus.

Sect. I. Of the Translation by Greenway and Sir H. Savill.

I AM going to offer to the publick the Translation of a Work, which for wisdom and force, is in higher fame and consideration, than almost any other that has yet appeared amongst men; a Work often translated into many Languages, seldom well into any, into ours worst of all. The first was done in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, the Annals by one Greenway, and four Books of the History by Sir Henry Savill, a man exceeding learned, and esteemed for his critical notes upon Tacitus, as well as for those upon St. Chrysostom, of whose works he has published an elaborate edition. But though he was an able Grammarian, and understood the Antiquities in Tacitus, and his words, his Translation is a mean performance; his stile is stiff, spiritless, and obscure; he drops many of his Author’s ideas, preserves none of his turns, and starves his meaning even where he best conveys it. ’Tis a mere Translation, that rather of one word into another, than that of a dead tongue into a living, or of sense into sense. The Roman idiom is forced and wire-drawn into the English, a task altogether impossible; and not adopted and naturalized, a thing possible enough; and out of a Book prosuse in eloquence, fine spirit and images, he has drawn a work harsh, halting and barren. Ogilby is not more unlike Virgil. Greenway is still worse than Savill; he had none of his learning, he had all his faults and more: The former has at least performed like a school-master, the latter like a school-boy.

Sect. II.   Of the English Translation by several hands.

ABOUT a hundred years after them another English Translation was undertaken by several hands, Mr. Dryden and others. Dryden has translated the first Book; but done it almost literally from Mr. Amelot de la Houssaye, with so much haste and little exactness, that besides his many mistakes, he has introduced several Gallicisms: he follows the French author servilely, and writes French English, rather than trust him out of his eye. It is true, la Houssaye is an honest Translator, and one of the foremost: He has gone as far as the thirteenth Annal inclusive; but his phrases are often weak and trifling, and he is subject to all that faintness and circumlocution for which the French tongue is noted. Dryden copies his manner as well as his meaning. It was pure hurry and want of application; for he was a fine writer, had a copious imagination, a good ear, and a flowing stile. Strike away all that is bad in his works, enough will remain to shew him a great Poet, a man of parts and a master of language. Even his many enemies and opposers shew the considerableness of the man; but his excellencies in many things excuse not his faults in others; his Translation of Tacitus is poor and languid, no where derived from the original, generally full of mistakes; at best it is only the French Translator ill translated, or ill imitated.

Sect. III.   Of the last Translation of the first Annal.

TACITUS talking of the latter end of Augustus his reign, says, domi res tranquillæ. Eadem magistratuum vocabula. These are two sentences independent of each other; yet Mr. Dryden translates, “all things at Rome being in a settled peace, the Magistrates still retained their former names;” as if the one was all the cause of the other. This blunder is owing to la Houssaye ill understood: tout étoit tranquille à Rome, les Magistrats avoient les mêmes noms: if instead of avoient, he had said ayant, the translation would have come pretty near the French. But the English Translator does not seem to understand French, though he has no other guide, else how could he so miserably mistake, pars multo maxima imminentis dominos variis rumoribus disserebant; as to render it, “the greater part employed their time in various discourses of future matters?” From this it is plain he never looked into the original, or understood it not. He was misled by the French which he appears here to have as little understood; la plus part se plaisoient à faire divers jugemens de ceux qui aloient devenir leurs Maitres.

But more wretched still is what follows: Tacitus represents the Romans discoursing, during the decline of Augustus, concerning the next successors in view, Agrippa Posthumus and Tiberius, and makes them say of Livia the Empress; accedere matrem muliebri impotentia: serviendum feminæ, &c. “His mother of a violent and imperious nature, according to the sex themselves, subjected to the slavery of a woman.” This is jargon and nonsense, tho’ the author seems to have followed the French; qui (Tibere) a une mere imperieuse & violente, selon la coutume du sexe, à laquelle il faudra obéir en esclaves. Well may he be said to follow the French Translator blindly; and less is the wonder that he adopts his Gallicisms where he happens to understand him.

When Drusus, the son of Tiberius, entred the camp of the seditious Legions in Pannonia, and the mutinous soldiery were gathered round him; Tacitus makes a charming and strong description of their behaviour, with the several vicissitudes of their passions, which shifted strangely according as they dreaded his person and authority, or recalled their grievances, and surveyed their own numbers and strength; and he concludes the whole, according to his custom, with a fine reflection: Illi, quotiens oculos ad multitudinem retulerant, vocibus truculentis strepere; rursum, viso Cæsare, trepidare. Murmur incertum, atrox clamor, & repente quies; diversis animorum motibus, pavebant, terrebantque. This is all pretty well translated by La Houssaye. I shall only quote the last clause or reflection: par des mouvemens tout differens, ils prenoient l’epouvante, & la donnoient; and this I quote only to shew how impotently the English Translator hangs by the French phrase and takes it literally: “by their different motions, says he, they gave and took terror in their turns.”

Is not this pithy and sounding? There are numbers of such instances both as to language and strength; insomuch that I have been sometimes tempted to think it not to be Dryden’s: but I have many assurances of its being his. I take it for granted it was a jobb for the Booksellers, carelessly performed by one, who wanted no capacity, but only pains or encouragement to have done it much better, perhaps very well.

Sect. IV.   Of the last Translation of the second Annal.

THE next Annal is translated by another hand, less negligently, but with small taste and vigour; no resemblance of the original, where in every sentence almost there occur surprizing images and turns, which no where appear in the Translation. ’Tis not the fire of Tacitus, but his embers quenched with English words cold and Gothick. Let any one read particularly the two speeches of Arminius and Maroboduus to their different armies just before they engaged, cap. 45. and 46. and he will find that between Tacitus and his Translator, there is just as much difference as between a living soul and a cold carcase. Yet the lifeless Translation of this Annal compared with that of the third by a different hand, is an able performance.

Sect. V.   Of the last Translation of the third Annal.

THIS translation is in truth wretched beyond belief; ’tis below drollery, and a sort of a middle between bad sense and good nonsense. Tacitus says of the arrival of the fleet, which brought Agrippina from Asia with her husband’s funeral urn, and her children now fatherless; classis paulatim successit, non alacri, ut adsolet, remigio, sed cunctis ad tristitiam compositis, An. 3. c. 1. “The fleet (says the Translator) came in, not rowing briskly, as they used to do, but slowly, and with sorrow in their countenances;” a translation worthy of one who could make Tacitus say elsewhere, “Drusus left the City to enquire his fortune:” Would not one think that he went to some remote country to consult a cunning man? Or meant the Translator to joke upon the religion and solemnities of the Romans? The words of Tacitus which he thus perverts, or rather quite drops, are, Drusus urbe egressus repetendis auspiciis:Drusus went without the gates, to repeat the formality of the auspices.”

Tacitus at the end of his discourse upon laws, says, Cæsar Augustus, potenliæ securus, quæ Triumviratu jusserat, abolevit, deditque jura, quis pace & Principe uleremur: acriera ex eo vincla, inditi custodes, & lege Papia Poppæa præmiis inducti, ut si &c. sed altius penetrabant, (custodes, scil.) Urbemque & Italiam, & quod usquam civium, corripuerant, multorumque excisi status; & terror omnibus intentabatur, nisi Tiberius statuendo remedio, &c. Now observe the sorce, and elegance, and truth, with which this is rendered by the Translator; “Augustus Cesar being settled in his authority, he abolished those things he commanded in the Triumvirate, and gave new laws to be observed in time of peace, and under a Monarch. And that they might be the better kept, he appointed some to look after them:” [as if the laws had been a flock of sheep] “The law Papia Poppea provided, &c. But the informers went farther, not only in the City, but thro’ all Italy, where any citizens were, ruined many families and frightened all. To remedy which Tiberius,&c. A little farther Tacitus says, adversis animis acceptum, quod filio Claudii socer Sejanus destinaretur: polluisse nobilitatem familiæ videbantur, suspectumque jam nimiæ spei Sejanum ultro extulisse. “There were (says the Translator) great discontents upon Claudius’s son’s being to marry Sejanus’s daughter as a disparagement to him, [to what him? Sejanus was the last named.] “But Sejanus, whose ambition was suspected, was much exalted upon it.”

Tacitus discoursing of the revolt of Florus and Sacrovir, and representing the sentiments of the people upon that and other alarms, says, increpabant Tiberium, quod in tanto rerum motu, libellis accusatorum insumeret operam. An Julium Sacrovirum majestatis crimine reum in Senatu fore? Extitisse tandem viros, qui cruentas epistolas armis cohiberent: miseram pacem vel bello bene mutari. Tanto impensius in securitatem compositus, neque loco, neque vultu mutato, sed ut solitum per illos dies egit: altitudine animi, an compererat modica esse & vulgatis leviora. Hear how this is translated. Blaming “Tiberius for employing himself in reading informers accusations where there was so great commotions. What, said they, have the Senate found Julius Sacrovir guilty of treason? Some have had the courage to suppress by arms the bloody libels of a Tyrant; war is a good change for a miserable peace. But he neither changed place nor countenance; affecting to shew he was not afraid, either through courage, or that he knew things to be less than they were reported.” Was ever good sense so vilely burlesqued? were one to study to ridicule Tacitus, what more miserable stuff, void of all sense and sound, could one make him utter? It puts me in mind of a notable compliment in an address from a learned Society to the late King; “We perceive that you are one that is not afraid that posterity should make mention of you;” or words of the like force and beauty. Neither have I picked out these passages invidiously, as the worst: I have read the whole Annal, and I know no part of it better done.

Sect. VI.   Of the last Translation of the fourth, fifth, and sixth Annal.

THE fourth, fifth, and sixth Annals are done by another hand, and poorly done. In him you find little of the true meaning of Tacitus; of his spirit and manner nothing at all; but frequent deviations from his sense, and even from all sense. Tacitus in the Character of Sejanus, says; intus summa apiscendi libido, ejusque causa modo largitio & luxus, sæpius industria ac vigilantia, haud minus noxiæ, quotiens parando regno finguntur. Who but the Translator would have discovered, that by these words Tacitus meant to declare, that “virtues are as dangerous as vices, when they meet with a turbulent spirit aspiring to Empire?” Yet the Translation of this passage is as just as that of many others. Sometimes he drops whole phrases and passages, such as he knows not what to make of, and oftner loses out of sight the meaning of others however plain.

Tacitus says, ut series futuri in Agrippinam exitii inciperet, Claudia Pulchra sobrina ejus postulatur, accusante Domitio Afro. Is recens prætura, modicus dignationis, & quoquo facinore properus clarescere, crimen impudicitiæ, adulterum Furnium, veneficia in Principem, & devotiones objectabat. “To begin the ruin of Agrippina, [how insipid and defective!] Domitius Afer lately Pretor [not a word of modicus dignationis] and ready to engage in any thing to gain himself credit [observe the force!] accuses Claudia Pulchra of adultery with Furnius [the words sobrina ejus, which explain the rest, and the word impudicitiæ, one of the articles of the charge, are omitted] “and to have a design on the life of that Prince with her charms and person:” What Prince? Furnius was none; Tiberius has not been mentioned in several pages: it is nonsense; and “a design on his life with her charms and person,” multiplies the nonsense.

What follows fares not much better: Agrippina semper atrox, tum & periculo propinquo accensa, pergit ad Tiberium.Agrippina always of a violent temper, but at present extremely enraged, runs immediately to Tiberius, &c.” He drops periculo propinquæ, as useless words.

Tacitus says, that amongst other reasons assigned why Tiberius retired from Rome, some alledged the authority assumed by his mother; who having persuaded Augustus, contrary to his inclinations, to postpone Germanicus and adopt Tiberius, did afterwards upbraid Tiberius with so signal a service, and even challenged the Empire as her own: idque Augusta exprobrabat, reposcebat. “The Empress (says the Translator) seemed to reproach him with that favour, and requested it for her son.” What gibberish! she had but one son, and he had it. She, forsooth, reproached her son Tiberius for having given him the Sovereignty, and from the same Tiberius claimed it for the same Tiberius. Sejanus, once when a cave fell in upon Tiberius and his company, covered the Emperor with his own body: major ex eo, says Tacitus. “This admirable and undoubted fidelity,” says the Translator; which Tacitus never said nor meant. How miserably too does he translate, ingentium bellorum cladem æquavit malum improvisum: ejus initium simul & finis exstitit. “Happened a calamity in which we sustained as great a loss as in the greatest defeats, though it was all done in an instant.” I will venture to say, that this is as well done as any other part of all the three Books.

Sect. VII.   Of the last Translation of the eleventh Annal.

THE eleventh Annal is translated by another Gentleman; but not with another spirit: it is like the rest, full of feebleness and mistakes and low phrases. I shall here give some instances. The Pleaders, in a speech to the Emperor Claudius, in defence of taking fees, and in answer to Silius, who alledged against them the example of certain great Orators of the former age who had never taken any; say, facile Asinium & Messalam, inter Antonium & Augustum bellorum præmiis refertos, &c. c. 7. “Asinius and Messala, who feathered their nests well in the Civil Wars ’twixt Anthony,&c. This is the Language of a chairman, but of a piece with the rest, such as, a King’s aplaying the good fellow; btrumping up Arminiuss title; cbeing equipped with money; dhis reputation began to exert itself far and near; esaw but one poor snake; fmore bloody than he ought to be; Senators gsquabling in the house; A silver mine hwhich bled but a little; iIt was not come to that yet; kAdvice hurts not the guiltless; lMen had recourse to impudence when their ill actions came to be discovered: mothers were in the same predicament with them in that matter; nClaudius as he was easily angry, so he was easily pleased; oMatrimony the last comfort of those who give themselves to lewdness; pAssidavits of her lewdness; qThe vast treasures given to Silius for his drudgery. Such cant, jargon, and ill-favoured nonsense, is called the Translation of Tacitus.

Sect. VIII.   Of the last Translation of the twelfth and thirteenth Annals.

THE two succeeding Annals are Englished by another hand, and miserably Englished they are; rather worse than the former. ’Tis all wretched tittle-tattle, unmeaning and ill-bred; nor could any number of words thrown together at random, without thought or idea, be more shallow or vulgar, more destitute of ornament or sound. To pass by his top Orators; Knack of speaking; Staving off a war any ways. — He being rectine. — The Emperor himself their worthy. Yea, Gentlemen and Senators do make no other original to themselves but from thence; and the like gibberish which occurs in every sentence: I shall here transcribe a passage where he seems to aim at a meaning and to exceed himself: “rThe power his mother had over him “(Nero) dwindled away by degrees, and Nero fell in love with Acte, a freed-woman, and made Otho and Claudius Senecio the confidents of his new Amour, one of which (to wit) Otho, was of a consular family, but Senecio, a son of one of Cesar’s freed-men; who at first without the mother’s knowledge, and since in spite of all she could do, worked himself by degrees into the Prince’s affections, by luxury and secret ways, that no body knew, which the best friends he had, indulged him in, and were pleased to see him take up and content himself with that woman, a thing which did no body an injury: for he had the misfortune to dislike his wife Octavia (whether it be that we naturally slight what we can have, and eagerly pursue what is forbidden) of an illustrious family, and of an unspotted virtue, and ’twas feared he might fall into a vein of debauching women of quality, if he was checked in that intrigue: but Agrippina could not bear that a freed-woman should nose her,” &c. That “a freed-woman should beard her,” says the old Translation.

How clear, how strong, and how just! This is in the thirteenth Book: take one or two samples more out of the twelfth. “s’Twas enacted that if they (women) married (to slaves) without their master’s consent, they should remain such” [who should, the women or the slaves? the former were none, and could not remain what they were not; and to say it of the latter, is nonsense.] “Barea Soranus, Consul elect, moved that Pallas (whom Cesar said was the first that brought it into the House) should have the Pretorial honours, and fifteen millions of Sesterces, and, that Scipio Cornelius might have the Thanks of the House, for that being descended from the Kings of Arcadia, he forgot his birth and quality to serve the publick, and was contented to be one of the Prince’s servants. Claudius assured them, that Pallas, satisfied with the honour the Senate had done him, would live as retiredly as he used to do. In short an act was made,” &c.

These two passages are as brightly translated as any in the two Books, indeed beyond most passages.

I shall quote one more; it is in the thirteenth Annal, cap. 26. It was importunately urged in the Senate that such freedmen as by abusing their Lords, had shewn themselves unworthy of their liberty, should remain at the mercy of the said Lords, and be subject to their former chains, nec deerant qui censerent, says Tacitus, sed Consules relationem incipere non ausi ignaro principe (i. e.) “There were Senators too ready to have voted for such a Decree; but the Consuls durst not propose it to the vote without acquainting the Emperor.” Of all this plain matter the Translator understood not one word. He says, “neither were there those wanting who would censure them (nec deerant qui censerent) but the Consuls durst not, without the Emperor’s knowledge, determine the matter.”

I cannot omit one polite phrase more out of this Book. Suilius Senecam increpans, says Tacitus. “He laid it in Seneca’s dish,” says the Translator, c. 42. “laying it in Seneca’s dish,” says the old Translation. He indeed has stolen all he knew of Tacitus from the old Translation, with all its blunders and stupidity, and improved both notably. Behold another specimen. “At Rome he cheated men of their legacies, and wronged the fatherless, who were deluded by himt.” The words of Tacitus are, Romæ testamenta & orbos, velut indagine ejus capi, c. 42.

Sect. IX.   Of the last Translation of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth Annals.

A Fresh hand has undertaken the three following Annals, and by good fortune such a hand as has preserved an eminent uniformity with the foregoing; only he is somewhat more gross. Tacitus says, it was reported that when Agrippina studied to draw Nero her son into an incestuous commerce with herself, Senecam contra muliebres inlecebras subsidium a femina petivisse: immissamque Acten libertam.Seneca (says the Translator) soon brought in Acte, Nero’s beloved woman, to expel one whore with another.”

When Agrippina had escaped the first attempt upon her life, she dissembled, and seemed not to think it designed, nor to entertain any future apprehensions: simulata securitate: “Under the appearance of security,” (says the Translator.) But as Acerronia one of her maids had perished in that attempt, she ordered her Will to be found, and all her effects to be sealed up. This she did, says Tacitus, without any dissimulation; id tantum non per simulationem, c. 6. “She takes all necessary care (says the Translator) for the cure of her wound; the Testament of Acerronia to be looked out, her coffers to be sealed up, and all things necessary to be done without the least dissimulation:” How nicely he understands the original, and how grammatical is his English! Here however there seems to be some meaning aimed at; in what follows, even that is wanting: “The image of the villains who were stained with the guilt of this parricide, still haunted him.” The words of the original are observabanturque maris illius & litorum gravis adspectus, c. 10.

In truth, to expose the insipidness and nonsense of these Annals, were to transcribe them. In some places he is so gross, that his words will not bear repeating; as particularly where one of Octavia’s maids tells Tigellinus, castiora esse muliebria Octaviæ quam os ejus. His Translation of this is abominable, as well as ridiculous and false; and many such like instances there are in him. I beg leave to quote one short passage more out of this Annal. When that Lady was by the Tyrant divorced, and banished into Campania under a guard; inde crebri questus, says Tacitus, nec occulti per vulgum, cui minor sapientia, & ex mediocritate fortunæ, pauciora pericula sunt, c. 60. This is a fine reflection; observe how execrably it is rendred: “Upon the clamour of the people (who having nothing to lose, are commonly fearless, not out of any love or relenting at his severity) this was remitted.”

The fifteenth Annal is done just like the fourteenth, wretchedly. Here follows a specimen: Corbulo and Cesennius Petus commanded in the East: sed neque Corbulo æmuli patiens (says Tacitus); & Pætus, cui satis ad gloriam erat, si proximus haberetur, despiciebat gesta, nibil cædis aut prædæ, usurpatas nomine tenus urbium expugnationes, dictitans: se tributa ac leges, & pro umbra Regis Romanum jus victis impositurum, c. 6. The misfortune was, (says the Translator) “the one was impatient of a rival, and the other could not endure a superior; and Petus, who ought to have contented himself in being second to Corbulo, ever took pleasure to diminish the glory of his actions, upbraiding him that his victory in taking of towns was imaginary, without conquest or plunder. That he would impose laws and demand contributions, introduce the Roman power in the place of their Knights, and render them a meer shadow.”

He often seems to be without the least glimmering of Tacitus’s meaning, or any meaning, and puts down a parcel of words at random. How clearly does he English, provisis exemplis Caudinæ ac Numantinæ cladis; “resolving to follow the example of Numantian, and the Caudine defeat, which practice they thought they might justify, since the Parthians were at this time more powerful than the Carthaginians or Samnites:” [were they in truth? what a discovery is here?] neque eandem vim Samnitibus Italico populo, aut Pœnis Romani imperii æmulis. He goes on: They were now beginning to talk that the Antients were always commended for their address in suiting all things to the times, and securing a safe retreat when fortune should frown upon them. This is another discovery which he has made from these words: validam quoque & laudatam antiquitatem, quotiens fortuna contra daret, saluti consuluisse, c. 13; that is, “these same venerable Antients, so very stubborn and invincible, and so much adored, always consulted self-preservation, as often as pressed by the assaults of a calamitous fortune.”

When Petus had submitted to such shameful conditions from the Parthians, he, amongst the rest, made a bridge over the river Arsanias, and to hide his disgrace, pretended it was to shorten his own march; when in truth, it was done in obedience to the commands of the Parthians, as a monument of their superiority and conquest: namque iis usui fuit; nostri per diversum iere, c. 15. “It being commodious to them, (quoth the Translator) and not in any manner to molest us.” Were ever two meanings more remote? He often adds words of his own to those of Tacitus, and often drops many more of the original, sometimes whole sentences. Tacitus says, there prevailed then a pestilent custom of making fraudulent Adoptions, by such Candidates for Offices as had no children of their own; and as soon as the Election was over, they instantly dismissed such as they had occasionally adopted. This abuse raised a storm from such as were real parents; who, having applied to the Senate with warm representations against such fallacious dealings in others, and such injury done to themselves, add, sibi promissa legum diu expectata, in ludibrium verti, quando quis sine solicitudine parens, sine luctu orbus, longa patrum vota repente adæquaret, c. 19. All this is dropped by the Translator, and the following jargon of his own inserted: “They took children to quit them at their fancy in contempt of those laws, while they had a great many privileges, for care or sorrow, the other with ease enjoyed the same.”

I am afraid I have tired my reader, as I have done my self, with such a dull deduction of stupidities. I did not at first intend to say any thing of the former Translations: I took it for granted that every man who had seen them, must have condemned them, and found them as pitiful and bad as they really are. But when upon publishing my Proposals, I found that some, who by their titles and profession should be learned, others who by their high quality, ought to have taste and elegance, had commended the former Translation, and uttered their despair of seeing a better; I found it necessary to give some account of that performance, which I think to be as low, defective, and wretched as any thing in print; neither language, nor sense, nor decency, and as much unlike Tacitus the Historian, as the meanest slave of Tacitus the Consul, was unlike his master. It is much worse than the old Translation, which is exceeding bad. It is in my own defence, as well as in defence of Tacitus, that I have censured it, and against my inclination. It looks indeed as if the Translators themselves had no opinion of it, since they have not, as is usual, said one word about it by way of Preface. This is what Mr. Dryden particularly never used to omit doing; why did he omit it now in the Translation of a work of such name and weight? As far as the sixth Annal there is a Translation too of la Houssaye’s Notes, but done with great ignorance and errors.

 


 

DISCOURSE II.

Upon Tacitus and his Writings.

Sect. I. The Character of Tacitus.

AS to the Character of Tacitus and his writings; he was the greatest Orator, Statesman, and Historian of his time; he had long frequented the Bar; he had passed through all the high offices of State: he was Edile, Pretor, Consul; and after long acquaintance with business and men, he applied himself to collect observations, and to convey the fruits of his knowledge to posterity, under the agreeable dress of a History. For this task he was excellently qualified: No man had seen more, scarce any man had ever thought so much, or conveyed his thoughts with greater force and vivacity; a mighty genius, for which no conception or design was too vast; a powerful Orator, who abounds in great sentiments and description: yet a man of consummate integrity, who, though he frequently agitates the passions, never misleads them: a masterly Historian, who draws events from their first sources; and explains them with a redundancy of images, and a frugality of words: a profound Politician who takes off every disguise, and penetrates every artifice: an upright Patriot, zealous for publick Liberty and the welfare of his Country, and a delared enemy to Tyrants and to the instruments of Tyranny; a lover of human-kind; a man of virtue, who adores Liberty and Truth, and every where adorns and recommends them; who abhors falshood and iniquity, despises little arts, exposes bad ones; and shews, upon all occasions, by the fate and fall of great wicked men, by the anxiety of their souls, by the precariousness of their power, by the uncertainty or suddenness of their fate, what a poor price greatness obtained is for goodness lost; and how infinitely, persecuted virtue is preferable to smiling and triumphant wickedness. Germanicus under all his hardships and disfavour, is a happier man than Tiberius with all his power and Empire; happier in peace of mind, happier in his fame and memory. Tigellinus is a great favourite with Nero, but detested by all the rest of the world and fearful of all men. Seneca is disliked by the Emperor, but universally beloved and regretted. Tacitus is a fine Gentleman, who suffers nothing pedantick or low, nothing that is trifling or indecent to fall from his pen. He is also a man of wit; not such a one as is fond of conceits and the quaintness of words, but a wit that is grave, majestick, and sublime; one that blends the solemnity of truth with the fire of imagination, and touches the heart rather than the fancy; yet for the better reception of truth, pleases and awakens the fancy.

The telling of truth is dry and unaffecting; but to enliven it with imagery, is describing it: and every one knows the advantages that Description has over bare Narration. Hence the force of fine painting; though, in my opinion, the Orator has the advantage of the Painter, as words can multiply ideas better than the pencil, throw them thicker together, and inflame them more. What piece of Apelles could have animated the Athenians against Phlip of Macedon, like one of Demosthenes’s Orations? What picture of Love can equal the description of that passion by Lucretius, the noblest wit of all the Latin Poets? It is hardly, I believe, possible for colours to carry images higher than they are by Michael Angelo carried, in his piece of the Last Day: yet I believe it not only possible, but easy to make a description of that day more affecting than the sight of that celebrated piece.

Sect. II.   How much he excells in Description and Force.

PAINTING in words is the strongest painting; and in that art Tacitus excells to amazement. His images are many, but close and thick; his words are few, but pointed and glowing; and even his silence is instructive and affecting.

How justly does he represent that noble sullenness and disdain of the wife of Arminius, when brought with other captives before Germanicus? Inerant & feminæ nobiles, inter quas uxor Arminii, eademque filia Segestis, mariti magis quam parentis animo, neque victa in lacrymas, neque voce supplex, compressis intra sinum manibus gravidum uterum intuens, A. 1. c. 57. A circumstance of distress more moving than this last, could not be devised; and what words, or exclamations, or tears could raise compassion so effectually, as the representation of a spirit too great to weep or complain; of a grief too mighty to be uttered?

The March of Germanicus and his Army to the Forest of Teutburg, to bury the bones of Varus and his Legions, there massacred by the Germans; the description of that Camp, with the revival of the circumstances of that tragical event; and the sympathy and resentments of the Soldiers, are all beautifully displayed with great force and brevity, with equal tenderness and horror.

Permoto ad miserationem omni qui aderat exercitu, ob propinquos, amicos, denique ob casus bellorum, & sortem hominum. Incedunt mœstos locos, visuque ac memoria deformes. Prima Vari castra lato ambitu, & dimensis principiis, trium legionum manus ostentabant: dein semiruto vallo, humili fossa, accisæ jam reliquiæ consedisse intelligebantur: medio campi albentia ossa, ut fugerant, ut restiterant, disjecta vel aggerata: adjacebant fragmina telorum, equorumque artus, simul truncis arborum antefixa ora; lucis propinquis barbaræ aræ, apud quas tribunos ac primorum ordinum centuriones mactaverant. Cladis ejus superstites pugnam aut vincula elapsi, referebant, hic cecidisse legatos, illic raptas aquilas; primum ubi vulnus Varo adactum, ubi infelici dextra, & suo ictu mortem invenerit; quo tribunali concionatus Arminius; quot patibula captivis, quæ scrobes; utque signis & aquilis per superbiam inluserit. Igitur Romanus qui aderat exercitus, sextum post cladis annum, trium Legionum ossa, nullo noscente alienas reliquias an suorum humo tegeret, omnes ut conjunctos, ut consanguineos, auctâ in hostem irâ, mœsti simul & infensi condebant, An. 1. c. 61, 62.

Here is eloquence and description! What can be added, what can be taken away? His stile is every where warm and pathetick, and he never informs the understanding, or entertains the imagination, but he kindles the affections. You are not only convinced by his sentiments, but governed by them, charmed with them, and grow zealous for them. This is a trial of the power and skill of a writer: this the drift and glory of persuasion and eloquence; and this the talent of Tacitus.

To display Tyrants and Tyranny he chuses the strongest words and figures: facinora ac flagitia sua ipsi quoque in supplicium verterant. Si recludantur tyrannorum mentes, posse adspici laniatus & ictus; quando ut corpora verberibus, ita sævitia, libidine, malis consultis, animus dilaceretur: quippe Tiberium non fortuna, non solitudines, protegebant, quin tormenta pectoris suasque ipse pœnas fateretur, An. 6. c. 6.

It was his business and design to lay open the iniquity and horrors of their mis-rule; sæva jussa, continuas accusationes, fallaces amicitias, perniciem innocentium. You see the bloody hands of the executioners, Rome swimming in the blood of her own Citizens, and all the rage of unrelenting Tyranny; undantem per domos sanguinem, aut manus carnificum. You see the bands of accusers let loose, nay hired to destroy, and breathing death and exile; sævitiam oratorum accusationes minitantium: delatores per præmia eliciebantur. You see the barbarous outrages of an insolent and merciless soldiery; cuncta sanguine, ferro, flammisque miscent. You see madmen bear rule, these mad rulers governed and made worse by slaves, villains, and harlots; yet all these monsters adored, their persons, wickedness, and even their fury sanctified; iniquity exalted, virtue trod under foot, laws perverted, righteousness and truth depressed and banished; every worthy man doomed to scaffolds, rocks, and dungeons; the basest of all men pronouncing that doom, and making a prey or a sacrifice of the best; fear and distrust and treachery prevailing; the destroyers themselves haunted with the perpetual dread of destruction, at last overtaken by it, yet seldom leaving better in their room.

All these melancholy scenes you see exposed in colours strong and moving: the thoughts are great, the phrase elevated, and the words chaste and few. It is all a picture: whatever he says, you see, and all that you see affects you. It puzzles one to give instances, because there are so many in every page. How many affecting images are there in these few words near the beginning of the first Annal; Quotusquisque reliquus qui rempublicam vidisset? How mournful too and expressive, yet how plain are these which immediately follow! Igitur verso civitatis statu, nihil usquam prisci & integri moris; as well as those a little before; rebus novis aucti tuta & præsentia, quam vetera & periculosa mallent.

With what thunder and vehemence does Arminius rouse the Cheruscans, his country-men, to arms, when his wife became a captive to the Romans, and his child a slave though yet unborn? Egregium patrem! magnanimum imperatorem! fortem exercitum! quorum tot manus unam mulierculam avexerint: sibi tres Legiones, totidem legatos procubuisse: non enim se proditione, neque adversus feminas gravidas, sed palam adversus armatos bellum tractare. Cerni adhuc Germanorum in lucis signa Romana. Coleret Segestes victam ripam, redderet filio sacerdotium, &c. In how few words does he comprise a long and perplexed debate in the council held by Germanicus, how to proceed with the mutinous Legions! Augebat metum gnarus (superior exercitus) Romanæ seditionis, & si omitteretur ripa, invasurus hostis; ac si auxilia & socii adversum abscedentes Legiones armarentur, civile bellum suscipi: periculosa severitas, flagitiosa largitio: seu nihil militi, seu omnia concederentur, in ancipiti Respublica. Igitur, &c. An. 1.

Sect. III.   Further instances of the justness of his Genius, and of his great Thoughts.

HIS account of the persecutions of Germanicus, with his last words and amiable Character, makes a fine Tragedy; so does the Death of Seneca; so does that of the Conspirators against Nero. With what magnanimity and calmness does Sulpitius Asper the Centurion answer the brutal Tyrant, when asked, why he had conspired against his life? non aliter tot flagitiis ejus subveniri potuisse. With what silence and firmness did the Consul Vestinus die? though he was Nero’s old companion and friend, and unconcerned in the conspiracy, and no crime nor accuser against him: vigens adbuc balneo infertur, calida aqua mersatur, nulla edita voce qua se miseraretur. How beautiful, how deep, and just are his observations upon human nature! Molles in calamitate humani animi: mobiles ad superstitionem perculsæ semel mentes: cupidine ingenii humani lubentius obscura credi: neque morum spernendus, nisi quod paupertatem præcipuum malorum credebat. Vivorum ut magna admiratio, ita censura difficilis: eandem virtutem admirantibus cui irascebantur: manebat admiratio viri & fama, sed oderant. Beneficia eo usque læta sunt dum videntur exsolvi posse; ubi multum antecessere, pro gratia odium redditur. Exacto per scelera die, novissimum malorum fuit lætitia. Rumore populi, qui neminem sine æmulo sinit: minore spe veniæ, crescit vinculum sceleris: populus novarum rerum cupiens pavidusque: vulgus eadem pravitate interfectum insectatur, qua viventem foverat.

How masterly and profound are those upon Government! Primas dominandi spes in arduo: ubi sis ingressus adesse studia & ministros. Arduum eodem loci potentiam & concordiam esse. Potentia cautis consiliis tutius habetur. Major e longinquo reverentia. Principibus præcipua rerum ad famam dirigendo. Insociabile regnum: cupido regni fratre & filia potior. Scaurum cui implacabilius irascebatur (Tiberius) silentio tramisit. Intelligebantur artes, sed pars obsequii in eo, ne deprehenderentur. In summa fortuna æquius quod validius. These I do not quote as the finest Thoughts in Tacitus, but only such as occur to me.

He paints Thoughts and Faculties, Men and Passions, Tyranny and Slaves. His imagination is boundless, yet never out-runs his judgment; his wisdom is solid and vast, yet always enlivened by his imagination. His designing is great, his drawing just, his colouring beautiful. See the description of a Pestilence at Rome, An. 16. c. 13. Domus corporibus exanimis, itinera funeribus complebantur. Non sexus, non ætas periculo vacua. Servitia perinde ac ingenua plebes raptim extingui, inter conjugum & liberorum lamenta, qui dum assident, dum deflent, sæpe eodem rogo cremabantur. Equitum Senatorumque interitus quamvis promiscui, minus flebiles erant, tanquam communi mortalitate sævitiam Principis prævenirent. Under a Tyrant, a Plague was a blessing.

Who but Tacitus could have said as he does of the antient Germans: Argentum & aurum propitii an irati Dii negaverint, dubito? or that afterwards of the same people: mira diversitate naturæ, cum iidem homines sic ament inertiam, quietem oderint? or that of the Sitones, a particular Clan of Germans, who were under the Government of a Woman; in tantum non modo a libertate, sed etiam a servitute degenerant? These are such instances of discernment, sagacity and happy expression, as few Writings can shew. By them and a thousand more, it is manifest that Tacitus saw every thing in a true and uncommon light: and his reflections are like mirrours where human nature and government are exhibited in their proper size and colours.

I cannot help thinking That to be a bold and gallant Saying of Boiocalus to the Roman General, who refused him a mansion for himself and his people in the vacant lands of Frizia; and thence provoked him to implore the Sun and Stars: quasi coram interrogabat, vellentne contueri inane solum? potius mare superfunderent adversus terrarum ereptores. Deesse nobis terram in qua vivamus; in qua moriamur non potest. What a sublime thought is that of his concerning the Fennians? The most savage and wretched race this of all the wild Germans; their cloathing, skins; their bed, the earth; their food, the grass; destitute of horses, houses, and arms; the thick branches of trees their only shelter against tempests and the ravening beasts: Here they find cradles and protection for their babes; here live the old men, and hither resort the young. Yet this miserable life they prefer to that of sweating at the plough, and to the pains of rearing houses: they thirst not after the fortunes of others; they have no anxiety about preserving their own; so that they hoped for nothing that was not theirs, and having nothing of their own, could fear to lose nothing; securi (says Tacitus) adversus homines, securi adversus deos, rem difficillimam adsecuti sunt, ut illis ne voto quidem opus sit.

Sect. IV. The Morality of Tacitus, and his spirit virtuous and humane.

AS obvious too as his other great qualities, is his love of Mankind, of Civil Liberty, and of private and publick Virtue. His Book is a great tablature of the ugliness and horrors of Tyranny; of the scandal and infamy of servitude and debasement; of the loveliness of virtue and a free spirit; of the odiousness of vice and sycophancy. Such was his sympathy for the sufferings and severe lot of the Romans under Tiberius, that he is glad of a digression from home, and keeps thence as long as he can, to relieve his soul from attending to domestick evils; duabus æstatibus gesta conjunxi, quo requiesceret animus a domesticis malis. He grieves for the slavish spirit, for the stupid tameness of the Romans under the Tyranny of the detestable Nero. So much Roman blood wantonly shed by that monster, is a load upon his soul, and oppresses it with sorrow. Patientia servilis, tantumque sanguinis domi perditum, fatigant animum, & mæstitia restringunt.

He delights in good times, in publick Liberty and virtuous Reigns, and delights to praise them; such as those of Nerva and Trajan; rara temporum felicitate, ubi sentire quæ velis, & quæ sentias dicere licet. In what a different strain does he speak of the foregoing Emperors? Nobilitas, opes, omissi gestique honores pro crimine, & ob virtutes certissimum exitium. He glories however that the worst and most faithless times produced many instances of friendship and generous fidelity; non tamen adeo virtutum sterile seculum, ut non & bona exempla prodiderit.

He is fond of a virtuous Character; as that of Labeo: Labeo incorrupta libertate & ob id fama celebratior: such as that of Lepidus; hunc ego Lepidum temporibus illis, gravem & sapientem virum fuisse comperio: nam plæraque ab sævis adulationibus aliorum, in melius flexit: and that of L. Piso chief Pontiff; nulliu servilis sententiæ sponte auctor. How amiable are the Death and last words of L. Arruntius, like those of a Patriot, and a Prophet! But how vile every where, and even miserable and insecure, are Tyrants, Flatterers and the Ministers of Iniquity? What he says of the first I have quoted above: and against the other hear his honest indignation: tempora infecta, & adulatione sordida fuere. Fædaque & nimia censerent. Adulatio perinde anceps si nulla, & ubi nimia est. Delatores genus hominum in exitium publicum repertum, perniciem aliis, ac postremo sibi invenere. What an odious insect is Vatinius; what a horrible villain Tigellinus; what infamous sycophants are Capito and Vitellius; and what a shocking paricide is Serenus, the accuser of his father and a general accuser?

Sect. V. The Stile of Tacitus, how pertinent and happy: his Obscurity, a charge of the moderns only.

BESIDES the grandeur and dignity of his phrase, he is remarkable for a surprising brevity: but let his words be ever so few, his thought and matter are always abundant. His expression is like the dress of Poppæa Sabina, described by himself; velata parte oris ne satiaret aspectum,vel quia sic decebat. He starts the Idea, and leaves the Imagination to pursue it. The sample he gives you is so fine, that you are presently curious to see the whole piece, and then you have your share in the merit of the discovery; a compliment which some able Writers have forgot to pay to their Readers. I cannot help thinking Mr. Locke a great deal too wordy, and that the plainness of his propositions, as well as their strength, suffers often by an explanation over-diffuse. Dr. Tillotson’s stile is much better, indeed very fine, but takes up too much room; it is likely he chose it as fit for popular discourses; since it is plain from the vivacity of his Parts, and the many fine turns found in his Writings, that he could have been very sententious. These two great names are by no man reverenced more than I reverence them, and without malignity I mention them, as I do that of the worthy Lord Clarendon, whose language is weighty, and grave, but encumbred and even darkened, I might say flattened, with a multiplication of words.

Stile is a part of Genius, and Tacitus had one peculiar to himself, a sort of a language of his own, one fit to express the amazing vigour of his spirit, and that redundancy of reflections which for force and frequency are to be equalled by no Writer before or since. Besides, the course and fluency of his Narration, is almost every where broken by persons whom he introduces speaking and debating; insomuch that a great part of his History comes out of the mouths of other people, and in expressions suitable to their several Characters. It is plain too that the older he grew, the more he pruned and curtailed his Stile; for his Histories are much more copious and flowing than his Annals: and thus what has been by others reckoned a fault, was in him the effect of his judgment. Neither were his Works intended for the populace; but for such as governed States, or such as attended to the conduct of Governors; nor, were the Stile and Latin ever so plain, would they ever be understood by such as do not. As Plutarch came to understand the Roman Tongue by understanding their Affairs; Tacitus is to be known by knowing human nature, and the elements and mechanism of Government.

It is madness to wish for the manner and redundancy of Livy in the Writings of Tacitus. They wrote at different times, and of Governments differently formed. Tacitus had transactions of another sort to describe, and other sorts of men; (for by Government men are changed); the crooked arts of policy, the false smiles of power, the jealousy, fury and wantonness of Princes uncontrolled; the flattery of the grandees; the havock made by the accusers, and universal debasement of all men: matter chiefly for reflection, complaints and rebuke! Nobis in arto, & inglorius labor: mœstæ urbis res, &c. Livy had another field and more scope; the History of a Commonwealth rising, forming and conquering; perpetual victories and matter of panegyrick; and his pen flowed like the prosperity of the State. Ingentia bello, expugnationes urbium, fusos captosque reges, discordias Consulum adversus Tribunos, agrarias frumentariasque leges, plebis & optimatium certamina, libere egressu memorabat, An. 4. 32. Doubtless he could have adopted another Stile if he would, perhaps the stile of Livy, as I think this very quotation shews; but Tacitus had another view and different topicks; nor would another stile, the easy and numerous stile of Livy, have answered his purpose. I fancy too that no body who knows Tacitus, would wish him to have written in a strain different from what he has done. There are charms in his manner and words, as well as in his thoughts, and he wears the only dress that would become him.

It is amazing that this obscurity of his should never be mentioned by any of the Antients who mention him. It is a fault discovered by the Moderns, though, in my opinion, common to him with other Classical Writers; nor has he puzzled the Commentators more than Horace, Cicero, Pliny, Sallust, &c. His Latin is truly pure and classical; he has few or no words which had not been used by approved writers, nor does he often give new ideas to old words. If his Works were no wise obscure to men of sense when he composed them, as we have no reason to think; it is insolence and folly in us to reckon his obscurity a fault. It is a dead language which he writes in, and he wrote seventeen hundred years ago. When Tacitus the Emperor directed copies of his Books to be placed in all the Libraries, and for their better preservation, to be transcribed ten times every year, he ordered no Grammarian to explain his abstruse places; though the Historian had been then dead near two hundred years. Great Writers are in their manner and phrase a Law and Authority to themselves; and not confined to the Rules that fill the heads or grammars of small wits and pedants. Milton has a stile of his own, and rules for writing of his own; and who that tastes his genius would wish him more fashionable and exact, or to have written otherwise. I am even pleased with the jarrings of Milton’s phrases. But here I chiefly mean his poetical style. Of his prose I shall make mention hereafter.

When the subject varies, so should the stile: that of Tacitus is marvellously suited to his subject and design; had it been more familiar, it had neither been so just nor so beautiful. To me nothing is more so than the manner of Tacitus; his words and phrases are admirably adapted to his matter and conceptions, and make impressions sudden and wonderful upon the mind of man. The doleful condition of the Emperor Vitellius, when deserted by his fortune and all men, is strong and tragical as imagination and words can make it. Terret solitudo & tacentes loci; tentat clausa; inhorrescit vacuis; fessusque misero errore, & pudenda latebra semet occultans, à Tribuno protrahitur. Vinctæ pone tergum manus; laniata veste, fædum spectaculum ducebatur, multis increpantibus, he adds, nullo inlachrymante; and the reason he gives for this, is judicious and fine; deformitas exitus misericordiam abstulerat. What follows is in the same affecting strain; as are the first sensible approaches of his calamity. Vitellius, capta urbe, Aventinum in domum uxoris cellula defertur, ut si diem latebra vitavisset Terracinam—perfugeret: dein mobilitate ingenii, & quæ natura pavoris est, cum omnia metuenti, præsentia maxime displicerent, in palatium regreditur, vastum desertumque; dilapsis etiam infimis servorum, aut occursum ejus declinantibus.

Who would blame Tacitus for a paucity of words, when he conveys so many images in so few? Is habitus animorum fuit, ut pessimum facinus auderent pauci, plures vellent, omnes paterentur? Where can there be a happier expression than that concerning Galba, when the Empire was already rent from him, and he knew it not? Ignarus interim Galba & sacris intentus, fatigabat alieni jam imperii deos. When Otho, proclaimed Emperor by no more than three and twenty Soldiers, was advancing to the Camp, & paucitate salutantium trepidus; the behaviour and acquiescence of those he met in his way are accounted for with surprising brevity and justness; alii conscientia, plerique miraculo; pars clamore & gladiis, pars silentio, animum ex eventu sumpturi. There is infinite pathos in what he says of the Omens and Phænomena, which were observed during the Civil Wars, and the strife of Princes; cœlo terraque prodigia, & fulminum monitus, & futurorum præsagia læta, tristia, ambigua, manifesta. What can be more solemn, sounding and sublime, even in Lucretius? When Nero was disgracing himself and the Roman State, by debasing his person to that of a player upon the publick Stage; how pathetically is the behaviour and spirit of Burrus described in a few words; adstabat Burrus mærens & laudans!

Sect. VI.   A general Character of his Works.

THERE is no end of specimens and examples; it is all over a wonderful Book, full of wisdom, full of virtue; of astonishing strokes of genius and superior sense. Yet he seems not to value himself upon his great thoughts; the finest things fall from him like common things; he says them naturally, and never dwells upon one, because he has always more to utter. When he has struck your imagination, and you want to stand still and ruminate, you have no time; he draws, or rather forces you forward, and the next thought strikes you as much; so does the third, and all of them; and you go on reading and wondering, yet wishing for leisure to ponder and recollect. But he gives you none; for from first to last the present reflection is always the best.

’Tis all of it eternal good sense, and will bear an eternity of time and censure. It is no wise akin to your pretty trifles of humour and fancy, that just tickle the imagination, but go no deeper, and please for a day. His beauties are solid, and upon the strictest examination discover no paint or tinsel; his wisdom and instruction are inexhaustible, and his works consequently an everlasting feast. I have seen several performances of tolerable length and notable reputation, all derived from so many short sentences of Tacitus, well wiredrawn and paraphrased. He is indeed a fund for Writers who have discretion and stile, but want depth.

There is a fine short Character of Tacitus in Owen’s Epigrams;

Veracem fecit probitas, natura sagacem,

Obscurum brevitas te, gravitasque brevem. Ep. 157.

Sect. VII. Tacitus vindicated from the imputation of deriving events from counsels too subtle and malevolent.

HE is accused too of over-much subtilty and refining, and of deriving the actions of his Princes, even the most innocent and plausible, from crooked designs, and a base heart; and of imputing to craft and politicks what was often no more than the effect of inclination and passion: A charge in my opinion intirely groundless. Tacitus describes things and men as they are, shews particulars acting agreeably to their characters, their situation and views; and represents counsels flowing from such sources only as were likely to produce them. Let us examine his reign of Tiberius for which he is chiefly censured.

The first feat of this reign, was the murder of Agrippa, the grandson of Augustus. Tiberius ordered it, and denied it, and threatned the Centurion who was the executioner, that he should answer for it to the Senate. This is the account given by Tacitus, and the same is given by Suetonius; the former adds, that it was done from jealousy of State, and for the removal of a Rival; and what other reason is to be given? for he had shewn how improbable it was that the same had been ordained by Augustus, though this was pretended, as Suetonius too testifies. Nor was any thing more natural than his apprehensions of Germanicus, a young Prince popular above all men, and at the head of a great army, who wanted him for their Emperor in the room of Tiberius. This is matter of fact, and well attested. Now where is the extreme refining, to represent Tiberius as contriving to remove such a dangerous man, one of such good pretences and powerful interest, first from his faithful Legions, and then from home, for ever; though at the same time he flattered him, extolled him, and heaped honours upon him? All this is but the common road of such Courts, when they have the same designs and fears. Is it not usual in Turkey to load a Bashaw with Imperial Presents, to bestow upon him some great Government, and to murder him before he arrive at it?

Is not power a jealous and artificial thing, full of fears and wiles; and is not Tiberius allowed by all men to have been a Prince of infinite distrust, craft, and cruelty? What meant he by making great men Governors of Provinces, and yet never suffering them to go thither for a course of years, nor even out of Rome, though they still held the name? What meant he by continuing others in the actual possession of Provinces for a long tract of years, nay frequently to the end of their life? Was it not his distrust of the former; and that as to the latter, he could not make a safer choice, and therefore was afraid to choose any? Yet Tacitus, far from diving into his Politicks in this matter, or being subtle and dogmatical about it, gives you the sentiments of others; alii lædio novæ curæ, semel placita pro æternis servavisse. Quidam, invidia, ne plures fruerentur. Sunt qui existimant, ut callidum ejus ingenium, ita anxium judicium; neque enim eminentis virtutes sectabatur, & rursum vitia oderat: ex optimis periculum sibi; a pessimis dedecus publicum metuebat. Never was any thing said more impartial, never any thing more just and solid. From the doubles and even contradictions that possess the heart of man, the conduct of men will be perplexed and contradictory. It is allowed that alieni appetens, sui profusus, was a just branch in the Character of Catiline, and is reckoned one of the beauties and strong places in Sallust. Without peradventure, as beautiful, and strong, and just, is this of Tacitus; neque eminentis virtutis sectabatur, & rursum vitia oderat; the reason too assigned for it, is equally just and fine; ex optimis periculum sibi; a pessimis dedecus publicum metuebat. Is not this accounting, from the principles of nature and self-preservation, for the conduct and politicks of Tiberius? Many of his actions and measures, recounted by Tacitus, are supported by collateral evidence, by Suetonius, Pliny, Dion Cassius, and others; many by them omitted are by him related, with such probability, and so perfectly resemble the rest of his conduct, that we must deny Tiberius to have been such a Prince as all men agree he was, or believe the account of him given by Tacitus.

His dissimulation was constant and notorious. In the very beginning, while he confidently acted as Emperor, with all the pomp and might of Majesty, he openly refused the Empire; Principatum (says Suetonius) quamvis neque occupare confestim, neque agere dubitasset, vi & specie dominationis assumpta, diu tamen recusavit impudentissimo animo; Such severe language as this is not given him by Tacitus.

Does Tacitus represent him as hating and fearing the great Romans, and illustrious Senators? And do not other Historians; do not the facts themselves prove it? Was he not continually destroying them, till they were almost all destroyed? Of the twenty Grandees particularly (principum Civitatis) whom he desired of the Senate, for his Confidents and Counsellors, he left not above two or three alive; all the rest were by treachery and feigned crimes cut off by him: Horum omnium vix duos aut tres incolumes præstitit; cæteros, alium alia de causa perculit, says Suetonius. Is Tacitus therefore too refined, in discovering what facts demonstrate? Is it not Suetonius too who says, Multa specie gravitatis, ac morum corrigendorum, sed magis naturæ obtemperans, sæve & atrociter factitavit? “It was usual with him, to do actions exceeding barbarous and merciless, yet all under shew of Justice, and the reforming of Manners; but in reality from the instigation of his own cruel spirit.” Is Suetonius also over subtle, the Historian in the world the most plain, and seldom aiming at a reflection? For what reason did he suffer the boundaries of the Empire to be invaded, and Provinces to be seized by the Barbarians, but from fear of trusting any great Officer with the conduct of the War?

That he affected to derive all power from the Senate, yet left them but the shadow of authority, and was even jealous of that shadow, is sacredly true. It was even natural; and wanted no resining, to discover it. Did not Cromwel do the same? And are not all men willing to have their power, however lawless, legitimated, and the odium of their acts of violence transferred upon others? Will any one say, that the Senate liked his acts of Sovereignty, his frequent impeachments of their Members, often the best and most innocent, and his obliging them to condemn, (for he that dares not refuse is forced to consent) and his leaving every particular in continual dread of being the next; which was a farther motive in each to hatred and complaisance? He knew he had earned their hate, reputante sibi publicum odium. Is it likely now that he loved them, or that there was or could be sincerity or confidence on either side? What did his retirement in the Isle of Capreæ, with his perpetual absence from Rome, infer, but continual distrust of the Senate and People? Just before he expired, he was hastening from a ramble upon the Continent, back to his Den, non temere quidquam nisi ex tuto ausurus; to take measures of vengeance against the Senate, for that he had read in their acts, that they had discharged certain persons accused, though he had writ to the Senate, that they were only named by the informer; pro contempto se habitum fremens, repetere Capreas quoque modo destinavit, non temere, &c. This too is related by Suetonius. It is certain the Senate were to all these Tyrants a constant mark of jealousy and hate; and some of them, particularly Caligula and Nero, had proposed to extirpate that venerable Assembly, by murdering the whole Body.

Sect. VIII. More Proofs of the Candour and Veracity of Tacitus.

TACITUS makes Tiberius no worse than he was, hardly so bad. That he doomed almost his whole family to exile, famine, or the executioner; that his cruel suspicion and distrust extended even to women, even to his mother, nay to children, relations and strangers, to names, nobility, and all men, is undeniable. Nor does Tacitus relate any part of the conduct or politicks of Tiberius, but what evidently results either from the nature of the man, or the nature of his power. He frequently speaks well of that Prince; and ill he could not avoid speaking, if he spoke of him at all. Nay the whole sixth chapter of the fourth Annal, is a fine panegyrick upon the moderation and wisdom of his Government for eight years before: publica negotia, & privatorum maxima, apud patres tractabantur; dabaturque primoribus disserere, & in adulationem lapsos cohibebat ipse; mandabatque honores, nobilitatem majorum, claritudinem militiæ, inlustres domi artes spectando: ut satis constaret non alios potiores fuisse. Sua consulibus, sua prætoribus species; minorum quoque magistratuum exercita potestas; legesque, si majestatis quæstio eximeretur, bono in usu, &c.

What can be fairer than this? and do not other Historians agree that he grew worse and worse: that he had long smothered his vices, and was, first and last, a complete dissembler? And is it just upon Tacitus, to accuse him of displaying the subtleties and craft of a Prince, who was all craft and subtlety? Does he not give us the good and bad of his character, and frequently defend it? Does he not say of him, in opposition to popular opinion and report, non crediderim ad ostentandam sævitiam, movendasque populi offensiones concessam filio materiam; quanquam id quoque dictum est? An. 1. c. 76.

Does he not represent Tiberius elsewhere as mollifying a rigorous sentence of the Senate, for banishing a criminal to a barren and desolate Island, and arguing that to whomsoever they granted life, they ought to grant the conveniences of life; dandos vitæ usus, cui vita concederetur? Does he not represent him in another place absolutely refusing a new accession of power, and arguing against it, like a Republican; yet charges him there with no dissimulation?

In Tacitus you have no false colouring, no true worth blemished, no bad qualities disguised; but fair representations and equal justice. Tiberius is a dangerous Prince, extremely false, extremely cruel; but he has many abilities, and some good qualities. He is prudent in moderating the excesses of others, where he was not instigated by his own personal anger; prudens moderandi, ubi propriâ irâ non impelleretur. He loved power without bounds; yet was constant and resolute in rejecting pompous honours; spernendis honoribus validus: a great Tyrant, but a Prince observing the rules of primitive parcimony; antiquæ parcimoniæ princeps: furiously jealous of prerogative; yet the laws, where processes of treason interfered not, were in proper force; leges, si majestatis quæstio eximeretur, bono in usu. He is inflexible in his vengeance, and where-ever his jealousy or anger centers, there terrible tragedies are sure to follow; yet the popular imputation of his poisoning his son, is by Tacitus exposed as incredible and fabulous; with many the like instances of eminent impartiality. He gives fair quarter to the Man, but none to the Tyrant.

To Claudius, a stupid Prince, and almost a changeling, who had no judgment, no aversion of his own, but only such as were insused and managed by others, he allows a share of sense at intervals; allows that he did some reasonable things, gave good advice to the Prince of Parthia; and wanted not elegance in his speeches, when his speeches were premeditated. He owns the spirit of Sovereignty to be jealous and unsociable; but as an exception from this rule, mentions the amiable friendship and union between Germanicus and Drusus, in the Court of Tiberius, though their different interests had rent the whole Court into factions. He owns the friendship of Drusus, for the children of Germanicus; though the participation of power, and the union of hearts, are seldom compatible.

The same fair temper and truth he observes in the Conduct and Character of Galba, Otho, and even of Nero and Vitellius; and it was his business and design to lay open the iniquity and horrors of their misrule.

These are some of the objections made to the Writings of Tacitus, and I think with extreme injustice. His Critics are more subtle than he; they are false refiners, who for the reputation of sagacity, make singular remarks, and serve him as they say he did Tiberius; they pervert and blacken his designs, and are too curious to be equitable. Tacitus, with a masterly discernment, unravels the mysterious conduct of Tiberius; it is from awe of his Mother, it is from fear of Germanicus, it is from jealousy of the Grandees, and with design to amuse and humour, or to deceive them all, that he rules and acts with such temper and moderation, against the bent and pride of his nature always imperious and tyrannical. But when he had well established himself; when Germanicus was dead; when his Mother too was gone; when he had crushed some of the Grandees, and terrified all; and especially when he was far from the eyes of Rome, is it not most true, that he then gave a loose to all the excesses of vileness and cruelty? cuncta simul vitia, male diu dissimulata, tandem profudit. It is not Tacitus who says this.

Was he not continually mocking and deluding the Senate? First he would by no means accept the Empire, at a time when he was actually in possession; sometimes he was weary of it, and would needs resign at every turn. Before he quitted the City, he was for visiting the Provinces, and for this purpose many preparations were made, and high expectation raised; then, when he had retired to Capreæ, he was continually amusing them with his immediate return to Rome, nay begged one of the Consuls to guard him. He carried the deceit so far, that he often visited the Continent, and the very Walls and Gardens about Rome; but never once returned to Rome, nor visited the Provinces, nor had a thought of resigning. The Commonwealth was always in his mouth, even when he was acting the Tyrant most; he professed eminent moderation while he was meditating acts of cruelty; and in instances of injustice and rigour, pleaded law and mercy.

His malice in leaving so wicked a Successor appears more from Suetonius than from Tacitus, who allows him to have had some thoughts of appointing another; but the former testifies expresly, that Tiberius was wont to foretel what a devouring Dragon he reared for the Roman people, and what a Phaeton or incendiary to the whole earth. Tacitus is vouched by Suetonius in what he says was reported for the motive which determined Augustus to adopt Tiberius; ambitione tractum, ut tali successore considerabilior ipse quandoque fieret. Suet. in Tiber. c. 21. The same too is testified by Dion Cassius.

Sect. IX. Mr. Bayles unjust censure of Tacitus; and how well the latter knew and observed the Laws of History.

MR. Bayle in his Dictionary in the Article of Tacitus, quotes some passages out of a Book entitled Anonymiana, (a very foolish book) where Tacitus is criticized as above, and approves those passages. This is the less matter of wonder to me, for that Mr. Bayle, with all his immense learning, acuteness, and candour, had a strange and unnatural biass to absolute Monarchy, though he had fled from the fury of it, and taken refuge in a free State. A proof this that great weakness cleaves to the greatest minds; and who can boast an exemption from prejudices, when a spirit so signally disinterested and philosophical as that of Bayle was not exempted? He himself says of Tacitus, qu’il y a bien à reprendre dans l’affectation de son langage, & dans celle de rechercher les motifs secrets des actions, & de les tourner vers le criminel. That this charge is groundless I have already proved. Much less to be regarded is the authority of Mr. St. Evremond in his censure upon Tacitus: his observations are without depth, to say no worse; nor have I found in his Works any political observations remarkable for solidity and force. What he has said of the Romans, is superficial, and often wrong.

Tacitus knew perfectly the Laws of History, and blames the passionate and partial accounts given by those who described the same reigns; since those of them which were written during the lives of the Princes, were falsified through dread of their Tyranny, and when dead, through detestation of their late cruelties. He had no motive to be partial; free as he was from affection, free from resentment. He knew that truth uncorrupted was the Business of an Historian, and that personal affection and hate should have no share in the work; nec amore quisquam, & sine odio dicendus est. Of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius he says, that to him they were known by no mark either of favour or diskindness. The same is true of Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. He shews how the truth was corrupted, first by flattery, then by resentment; and professes to be far from either. I think he is as good as his word.

Sect. X. An Apology for the wrong account by Tacitus given of the Jews and Christians, and for his disregard of the Religion then received.

THERE are other accusations against Tacitus: he has misrepresented the Jews and Christians, and wanted Religion.

Concerning the Jews, he followed the tradition and accounts current amongst the Romans. He tells you what different relations there were, and neither adds any thing, nor misrepresents things maliciously. It was an obscure State, generally enslaved to some greater power; to the Assyrians, Ægyptians, Grecians, and then to the Romans; and contemned by all, as much as they themselves hated all. They had not common mercy or charity toward the Gentiles and uncircumcised; and being persuaded that the Almighty loved only themselves, they fancied that he abhorred, and therefore they abhorred, the whole human race besides: so that it was said by Tacitus too truly, adversus omnes alios hostile odium. They were likewise ever solicitous to hide their mysteries from the eyes of the Heathens, and could not blame them for not knowing what was not to be known. Yet he was not ill informed in some instances, especially in their spiritual notions of the Deity, with their aversion to Images, and to the adoration of the Emperors: nulla simulacra urbibus suis; non regibus hæc adulatio, non Cæsaribus honor.

Of the Gospel it is manifest he knew nothing; he could not else have made so ugly a picture of those who professed it; for it is not likely that the Christians were yet so degenerated as to disgrace the Christian Religion. Tacitus wanted an opportunity to be better informed. That Religion, as it began among the lower sort of people, had not probably hitherto gained many proselytes of name and quality, to countenance and recommend it to men of figure. Tacitus considered it like a Statesman, as a new Sect inconsistent with the Laws of Rome, and threatning civil tumults and innovations. It is probable too he had heard and credited the calumnies then usually thrown upon the manners and meetings of that people. Nor after the best instruction could he have become a Believer without the illumination of the Spirit; which, it is plain, was withheld from him: and, without a change of heart, it was impossible for him to conceive the Resurrection of the dead, and the Crucifixion of the Son of God. Yet he does them the justice to vindicate them from the obloquy of Nero, and exposes the barbarity of their treatment by that Tyrant.

For his disregarding the Religion then received, when I consider what sorts of absurdities the Pagans held for Religion, I cannot so much blame him. It was a worship paid to Deities altogether frantick and impure, by sacrifices and follies ridiculous and vain; and both their Worship and their Gods were invented by the cunning or delusion of men. It consisted in no purification of heart, nor amendment of morals; the things which men and societies require; but in sounds, gesticulation, and the blood of beasts; not in truth and sense, in benevolence and rectitude of mind; but in lying oracles, unaccountable mysteries, and a raving imagination; sometimes in professed acts of lewdness; often in those of fury and madness; always in such as were foreign from real virtue, and the restraining of the passions. Public calamities were never thought to be brought down by public depravity and vice, nor to be averted or removed by public reformation. The Gods were not offended but by the omission, or wrong performance of some ceremony or grimace; and by grimace and ceremony they were to be appeased. And when the Deities were deemed to be endowed with the peevishness and caprices of children and apes, or the phrenzy of lunatics, what man of sense could reverence them, or believe in them? It would not have redounded to the reputation of his sense, if he had. Where Religion is pure Superstition, and the belief of it absolutely groundless and blind; where its Rites are fanciful, foolish, and unmanly, as the Religion, and Gods, and Worship of the Pagans were; it would have been a revolt from common Reason to have had any such Religion. We know how freely Cicero deals with their Gods.

It is true that these great men of Rome, who either had no notion of Religion, or one quite opposite to that publicly received and practised, regarded it as far as it was interwoven with the constitution of the State, and subservient to the ends of Government: yet they suffered their Poets, especially the dramatic Poets, to treat their Gods with severe jests and satire. They seemed to be of Tiberius’s mind, Deorum injurias diis curæ; that is, to leave to the Gods the avenging of indignities done to the Gods. Men were punished for their libelling particulars, people of condition, and especially Magistrates; but to ridicule and lampoon the Deities, Jupiter himself, even upon the Stage, was a matter of impunity and diversion.

Their Religion therefore consisting in Rituals, a man might be very religious with a very debauched and libertine Spirit. Cultor deorum parcus & infrequens, is a complaint made by Horace of himself, but does not seem to infer much heavenly-mindedness, nor a departure from his impure pleasures. One might, on the contrary, be exactly good and just, nay the pattern of Virtue, and a public patriot, without any tincture of their Religion. Such was Cato the Censor, such Epicurus, and such was Tacitus. He thought that either there was no Providence (for his mind wavered between the doctrine of necessity and that of chance) or such a Providence as he could have well spared; non esse curæ Deis securitatem nostram, esse ultionem. But this bold reproach upon the Deities, he uttered after his heart, zealous for the good of his Country, had been heated by a terrible detail of her Calamities.

Nor indeed, according to the ideas conceived of these odd Beings, so easily humoured and provoked, could one say much good of them, or expect it from them. In the reign of Nero he enumerates many presages, from which, as from signals divinely sent, great changes for the better were inferred; but all vanished into air and disappointment; prodigia crebra & inrita intercessere, &c. Hence he argues, that all these omens happened so apparently without any direction or interposition of the Gods, that, for many years after, Nero rioted in power and wickedness.

Whatever were the speculations of our Author about Religion, his Morality is strong and pure, full of benevolence to human society, full of every generous passion, and every noble principle; a terrible rebuke to iniquity, vice and baseness, in all stations and shapes; and one continued lesson of wisdom and virtue. These are the excellencies which in civil life recommend Books and Men; these the excellencies which recommend Tacitus; excellencies which he has carried as high as the utmost efforts of human genius could carry them. Mr. Bayle says, Ses Annales & son Histoire sont quelque chose d’admirable, & l’un des plus grands efforts de l’esprit humain; soit que l’on y considere la singularité du stile, soit que l’on s’attache à la beauté des penses, & à cet heureux pinceau avec lequel il a sçu peindre les disguisemens & les fourberies des politiques, & le foible des passions.

Nor does he shew more abilities than probity, as astonishing as his abilities were; and having so much, what more did he want for his design? or what more could we wish in him? Which is the better instructor, he who has store of saith, but wants virtue, and abounds not in good sense; or he who wants the first, but abounds in knowledge and the rules of righteousness? It is for this we consult Tacitus, not for his Theological Speculations. How do his metaphysical notions impede his excellencies as an Historian and Politician; or his mistakes in one thing, lessen his discernment and veracity in another?

According to the accounts of our best Travellers concerning China, the Mandarins who are the Nobility of the country, the Learned, and such as hold the Magistracy, have no religion at all, their governing principle is publick spirit; their principal study the good of the State; and they are noted for politeness and virtue. The Bonzes or Priests, on the contrary, pretend to extraordinary devotion; but are vicious, sordid, base, and void of every virtue private or public. Here is an instance of a Monarchy the most thriving of any upon earth, or that ever was upon earth; an Empire that contains more people than half the rest of the globe, these people full of industry and arts; yet administred by men who are of no particular Religion, or Sect, but are guided by the natural lights of Reason and Morality; nor knows it a greater blot and disgrace than the vile lives of its Priests and Religious.

Against this instance set another, that of the Pope’s Dominions, the center of the Romish Religions; where holy men sway all things, and have engrossed all things; where tortures and flames keep out Infidels and Heretics, and every man who thinks awry; and where the champions for devotion, so called, protect the Church, and feed themselves. Now where but here should one look for the marks of opulence, ease, and plenty, and public happiness, if by an Administration of Priests and Devotees, public happiness were advanced? But behold a different and melancholy scene! Countries fertile, but desolate; the people ignorant, idle, and starving, and all the marks and weight of Misery!

Does not this merit reflection, that a Church blended and debauched with excessive wealth and power, is worse, a thousand times worse than none; and that the mere light of nature and reason is many degrees more conducive to the temporal welfare of humankind, than a Religion or Church which is purely lucrative and selfish? Were the Romish Church, or any other Church that teaches pains and penalties; any that exalts Ecclesiastics into power, and leaves them the sword, or wields it for them, once established in China; there would in a little time be an end of their incredible numbers; and it would soon feel the cruel curse attending the change. In this sentiment I am vouched by that polite Writer, and candid Prelate, Dr. Tillotson: “Better it were, says he, there were no revealed Religion, and that human nature were left to the conduct of its own principles and inclinations, which are much more mild and merciful, much more for the peace and happiness of human society; than to be acted by a Religion that inspires men with so wild a fury, and prompts them to commit such outrages.” Serm. Vol. I. p. 206.

Make another comparison between two particuculars, a Heathen guided by reason, and a Christian by passion and false zeal; between Tacitus and St. Jerom; behold the politeness, candour, eternal truth, and good sense in the one; mark the rashness and enthusiasm, the fierceness and falshood of the other. So much stronger were the passions and insincerity of this great Saint, than the impressions of the Christian Religion, which is all meekness and candour; nay, he often makes it a stale for his fury, forgeries, and implacable vengeance. I meddle not with his strange maxims, some foolish, some mad, many impracticable, and others turbulent and seditious. In Tacitus you have the good sense and breeding of a Gentleman; in the Saint the rage and dreams of a Monk. Does the religion of the latter recommend his reveries and bitter spirit; or the want of it in Tacitus, weaken the shining truths that are in him?

When a Writer relates facts, or reasons from principles, his good sense and veracity only are to be regarded; and we have no more to do with his speculations or mistakes in other matters, than with his person or complection. Pliny and Aristotle are reckoned Atheists; but what is this to their fine parts and learning? With small spirits and bigots every thing that is noble and free, is Atheism and Blasphemy. The littleness and sourness of their own hearts, is the measure of all things. Nerva, Trajan, and Marcus Aurelius were Heathen Princes; but they had virtue and benevolence, and their administration was righteous: what more did their subjects want from them? Justinian, Constantius, John Basilowitz, John Galeas, and Lewis the eleventh were Christian Princes, and men pretending to high Devotion; some of them great contenders for Orthodoxy, and great builders of Churches; but all barbarous and consuming Tyrants. What were the people or themselves the better for their Religion, without good nature and probity? Nay, they made Religion one of the principal machines for Tyranny; as Religion in a Tyrant or Impostor is little else but an impious bargain and composition with God for abusing men.

Such in truth is the situation of things below, such the frame and foible of men, that it depends in a great measure upon Civil Government, whether Religion shall in this world do good or harm. Is a country filled with oppression, the happier for being filled too with Churches and Priests, as were Greece and Italy by Justinian? Or can a country that abounds in virtue, and happiness, and good Laws, want any more to all the purposes of social life; like Lacedæmon and Rome in their best ages? Let us praise all who have true Religion, full of mercy, and void of bigotry; but let us not condemn such as, for want of the same lights and revelation which we have been blessed with, are, without any forms of Religion, virtuous and wise. Certainly worse, much worse than none, is that Religion which inspires pride, bigotry, and fierceness, and hath not charity for all men.

To conclude this head, I shall here subjoin what I have said elsewhere to the like purpose; “That black is not white, and that two and two make four, is as true out of the mouth of an Atheist, as out of the mouth of an Apostle. A penny given by an Atheist to a beggar, is better alms than a half-penny given by a Believer; and the good sense of an Atheist is preferable to the mistakes of a good Christian. In short, whatever reputed Atheists do well, or speak truly, is more to be imitated and credited, than what the greatest Believers do wickedly, or say falsely. Even in the business of bearing testimony, or making a report, in which cases the credit or reputation of the witness gives some weight, or none, to what he says; more regard is to be had to the word of an Unbeliever, who has no interest on either side, than to the word of a Believer, who has; neither are the good or bad actions of an Atheist worse, with respect to the world at least, for his being one; though the sin of a Saint is more sinful than that of a Pagan. It is the greatest folly to think that any man’s crimes are the less for him who commits them; or that truth is less or more truth, for the ill or good name of him who speaks it.”

Sect. XI. The foolish censure of Boccalini and others upon Tacitus.

THE censure passed upon Tacitus by Boccalini and some of the other Commentators, as if he maliciously taught lessons of Tyranny; is so senseless and absurd, that it merits no notice, much less consutation. As well may they say that Luther and father Paul display the encroachments and frauds of the Church of Rome, on purpose to teach that or other Churches how to oppress and deceive; or that Livy, as great a Republican as ever lived, exposed the usurpations and Tyranny of Tarquin, in order to instruct Usurpers to support themselves and extinguish public liberty. Tacitus represents Tyrants as odious to all men, and even to themselves. But what answer could one give to a man who should advance that Grotius wrote his Book of the Truth of Christianity, with a view to promote and confirm Paganism?

Sect. XII. Of the several Commentators and Translators of Tacitus.

IT were almost endless to mention all who have written upon Tacitus, and their success; numbers have done it, many as Critics, some politically; and several of the former with sufficiency and applause, such as Lipsius, Freinshemius, old Gronovius, and Ryckius. From the edition published by this last I have made my Translation; the text is very correct, and his notes are judicious and good. Of all those who have commented upon his Politics, I can commend but very few; I mean such as I have seen; many of them are worse than indifferent; tedious compilations of common places, or heavy paraphrases upon the original, where its vigour is lost in superfluous explications; and the lively thoughts of Tacitus converted into lifeless maxims; frequently wrong converted; frequently trifling and affected; often such discoveries as are obvious to every peasant or child; or puffy declamations, tedious, laboured and uninstructive. Of one or the other sort are the Commentaries of Boccalini, Annibal Scoti, Forstnerus, Schildus, and divers others.

Mr. Amelot De La Houssaye has made a large collection of political observations upon Tacitus, as far as the thirteenth Annal inclusive; some of them pertinent and useful; but many of them insipid, and little worth. The very first which he makes, is flat and poor; dés que la Roïauté commence a degénérer en tyrannie, le peuple aspire à la liberté. Little better is this; quand un Prince commence à devenir infirme, ou cassé, tout le monde tourne les yeux vers le soleil levant, c’est à dire, vers son successeur; or this; les refus du Prince doivent être assaisonnez de douceur & de courtoisie; or this; ceux même qui ont renoncé à leur honneur, & qui font gloire de leur sceleratesse, s’offensent d’etre appellez traitres; or this; un bon General ne doit jamais hazarder une bataille, qu’il n’ait mis bon ordre par tout; this too; il n’y a rien dont un Favori, ou un premier Ministre, doive se mettre plus en peine, que de bien connoitre l’humeur de son Prince; this too; un Prince dépoüillé de ses Etats ne reste pas volontiers entre les mains de celui qui en est emparé. All this is trite, void of force and instruction.

The Spanish Translation by Don Alamos De Barrientos, is accompanied with numerous Annotations, by him stiled Aforismos, which are as indifferent and impotent as the Translation it self is good and strong. His observation upon, cuncta discordiis civilibus fessa, nomine principis sub imperium accepit, is, Quando alguno se viniere a hazer Senor de una grande, y poderosa cividad libre, lo mas ordinario serà despues de una larga guerra civil; “the opportunity for any one to become master of a great and powerful free City, is most commonly at the end of a great civil war.” Tacitus says that Augustus left the first Lords of the Senate his heirs in the third degree, though most of them were hated by him; plerosque invisos sibi, sed jactantia gloriaque ad posteros. Don Alamos observes upon this; El principe muchas vezes haze honra a las personas que aborrece, para gagnar fama de modestia y sufrimiento; “a Prince often confers honours on those he hates, purely for the reputation of moderation and temper.” Tacitus says of Germanicus, anxius occultis in se patrui aviæque odiis, quorum caussæ acriores, quia iniquæ; El hombre inocente y bueno, (says Don Alamos by way of Annotation) de ninguna cosa recibe tanta congoxa, como de los secretos aborrecimientos que sabe le tienen sus parientos, sin merecerlo; “a worthy and innocent man feels so much anguish from nothing as from the secret hate which he knows his parents bear him, without deserving it.”

OF small value are such reflections, and small thought they cost to produce them; the less is the wonder that Don Alamos has vented such a myriad. Canini, an Italian, has however translated them into his own language, with high encomiums, and published them with the Italian Translation of Politi, a Translation which reads well, but hampers the thoughts of Tacitus, and from an affectation to be as concise as the original, loses much of its weight and spirit. Don Alamos, on the contrary, opens the sentiments of Tacitus fully, often over-fully, by supplemental parentheses, that are sometimes perfectly needless, and always mar and embarrass the reading.

These are the only Spanish and Italian Versions which I have seen of Tacitus. There are two more of the former, by Sueyro and Coloma, both well esteemed; and as many more Italian by Dati and Davanzati, not at all commended. Of French Translations there are five or six, all, except two, good for little, some of them good for nothing. These two are by Mr. D’Harlay De Chanvallon, who has done the whole, Mr. Amelot De La Houssaye, who has only gone as far as the thirteenth Annal. The former is vigorous and just, like that of a man of sense and observation; nor has the latter any advantage over him, save that his French is more modern, if that be any. Ablancourt is likewise one of the French Translators of Tacitus, a man of name and of a flowing stile; but if he has abused other Authors as he has abused and transformed Tacitus, it is fit they were all done over again. There is some life in him, and harmony, but no justness nor strength. All the force and fine ideas of Tacitus are lost in Ablancourt.

Sect. XIII.   A Conjecture concerning the modern Languages, more largely concerning the English.

OF the French Tongue itself I may venture to say, after better judges than my self, that from a laxness and effeminacy essential to it, it cannot naturalize the strong expressions of the Ancients, without spreading and weakening them considerably. It has a number of relatives, particles and monosyllables that return incessantly, and flatten the sense, and tire the ear. The English Language has indeed many words more harsh than the French; but it has likewise many more spirituous and sounding; and though it be also loaded with relatives, particles and words of one syllable, yet I think not to the same degree, nor do those we have return so often; and we can frequently drop the particles, and leave them to be understood, as well as the relatives.

In this respect the Latins had an advantage over the Greeks; as those two Languages have over every other that is now in the world, or perhaps ever was. We are infinitely behind them in significancy and sound, and, with all our adventitious words and refinements, are still crude and gothick to them. Nearest in Language to the Ancients come the Spaniards and Italians, though still far behind; yet they stand over the heads of the English and French, and walk while we creep. The Spanish is the more sonorous and lofty; the Italian the more sweet and gliding; and both excel in harmony, numerosity, and the pomp of words. The Italians seem to have spoiled their Tongue, by wild hyperboles, and phrases of mere sound and compliment; whether it be from the turn of the nation to Love and Music; whether it be from the Legends of their Saints, and their extravagant Panegyrics upon them, or from their Slavery to Churchmen, or the Severity of their Government, or from what other cause, I do not pretend to determine.

The French profess to have greatly refined their Tongue; and it is indeed brought to be exceeding glib and perspicuous; but whether the refiners have not pared away its strength to make it more shapely and regular, has been doubted. Some refinements we also have made in ours, perhaps by imitating the French; though I hope we have better preserved its force. Easy writing has been studied to affectation; a sort of writing, which, where the thoughts are not close, the sense strong, and the phrase genteel, is of all others the most contemptible. Such were the productions of Sir Roger L’Estrange, not fit to be read by any who have taste or good breeding; they are full of technical terms, of phrases picked up in the street from apprentices and porters, and nothing can be more low and nauseous. His sentences, besides their grossness, are lively nothings, which can never be translated (a sure way to try language) and will hardly bear repetition. Between hawk and buzzard: clawed him with kindness: alert and frisky: guzzling down tipple: would not keep touch: a queer putt: lay cursed hard upon their gizzard: cram his gut: conceited noddy: old chuff: and the like, are some of Sir Roger’s choice flowers. Yet this man was reckoned a Master, nay a Reformer of the English Language; a man who writ no Language; nor does it appear that he understood any; witness his miserable Translations of Cicero’s Offices and Josephus. That of the latter is a Version full of mistakes, wretched and low, from an easy and polite one of Monsieur D’Andilly.

Sir Roger is one amongst the several hands who attempted Tacitus, and the third Book of the History is said to be done by him. He knew not a word of it but what he has taken from Sir Henry Savill, and him he has wretchedly perverted and mangled. Out of the wise and grave mouth of Tacitus he brings such quaint stuff as this; to cast the point upon that issue: — sneaking departure of Vitellius:at the rate of a man at his wit’s end: — sottish multitude never went beyond bawling: — an Emperor lugg’d out of his hole: — the sexton of the Capitol: — the Government dropt into Vespasian’s mouth: — not cut out for a soldier: — went not a sneaking way to work:Valens in the interim with his dissolute train of capons: [into this senseless cant word Sir Roger elegantly changes that of Eunuchs used by Sir H. Savill; for I dare say he neither saw nor knew the original, agmine spadonum]: the Emperor guzzling and gormandizing like a beast.

Such jargon is hardly good enough for a Puppet-shew. Sir Roger had a genius for buffoonry and a rabble, and higher he never went; his stile and his thoughts are too vulgar for a sensible artificer. To put his Books into the hands of youth or boys, for whom chiefly Æsop, by him burlesqued, was designed, is to vitiate their taste, and to give them a poor low turn of thinking; not to mention the vile and slavish principles of the man. He has not only turned Æsop’s plain Beasts, from the simplicity of nature, into Jesters and Bussoons; but out of the mouths of animals inured to the boundless freedom of air and desarts, has drawn doctrines of servitude, and a defence of Tyranny.

The taste and stile of the Court is always the standard of the public. At the Restoration, a time of great festivity and joy, the formal and forbidding gravity of the preceding times, became a fashionable topic of ridicule; a manner different and opposite was introduced; jest and waggery were encouraged; and the King himself delighted in drollery, and low humour. Hence the Language became replete with ludicrous phrases; archness and cant grew diverting; the writings of witlings passed for wit; and if they were severe upon the Sectaries, as the fashion was, they pleased the Court. By this means L’Estrange got his character. It is very true that there appeared at the same time men of just wit, and polite stile; but it cannot be denied but that the other manner was prevalent; the greatest wits sometimes fell into it.

This humour ended not with that Reign, nor the next, but was continued after the Revolution by L’Estrange, Tom Brown, and other delighters in low jests, their imitators; and such witlings have contributed considerably to debauch our Tongue. If we go so high as Queen Elizabeth’s time, we shall find that a good stile began then to be used, agreeably to the good sense of that Princess, and her Court; and we have the Language of that age in Sir Walter Raleigh, whose genius was too just and strong to go into the miserable pedantry of the next reign. Many of the productions then, and particularly the Royal productions, are wretched beyond measure; (I wish the honour and politics of those days had been better) nor could so considerable a man as Sir Francis Bacon escape the infection.

The next Prince affected a high and rigid gravity, and a pomp and solemnity of stile became common; yet the Language began to recover, when the cant and enthusiasm ensuing, gave it a new turn extremely insipid and offensive. But between the reign of King James and the Restoration, several Writers appeared eminently happy in their stile: such particularly was Mr. Chillingworth, whose language is flowing, and free as his own candid spirit. The same character is due to the excellent Lord Falkland, and Mr. Hales of Eaton. Mr. Hobbes’s English is beautiful almost, if not altogether, beyond example; nothing can be finer than his way of expressing his thoughts; his stile is as singularly good, charming and clear, as many of his principles are dangerous and false. Under this character of his stile I do not comprize his Translation of Thucydides; as it does not, however just it be, resemble his other Works. Hence I am inclinable to believe what I have heard, that it was done by some of his disciples, and by him revised; yet it far excels most of our Translations. Milton’s English Prose is harsh and uncouth, though vigorous and expressive. The stile of Selden and Hammond is rugged and perplexed.

Sect. XIV.   A Conjecture concerning the present state of the English Tongue, with an account of the present Work.

OF the Character of Writing in our own time, were I to give my opinion, I should be apt to say, that in general it comes too near to talking; a method which will hardly make it delightful or lasting; no words upon paper will have the same effect as words accompanied with a voice, looks and action; hence the thoughts and language should be so far raised as to supply the want of those advantages; but indeed this is impossible, and therefore there is the greater cause for heightening the stile; now because laboured periods are offensive, and flat ones are insipid, the excellency lies between pomp and negligence. Let it be as easy as you please, but let it be strong; two advantages that are very compatible, and often found in the same writer. Livy is remarkable for both; it is his eloquence and ornaments which have preserved him in such esteem, as much as his matter and good sense. The late Lord Shaftesbury, though he has been perhaps too anxious and affected in forming his phrase to easiness and fluency, has yet had good success; since it is manifest that his soft alluring stile has multiplied his Readers, and helped powerfully to recommend his Works. Dr. Burnet of the Charter-House wrote with great eloquence and majesty, yet easy and unaffected. Dr. Tillotson’s stile is plain and pleasant, enlivened too with fine images, and strong sense; yet many, while they strove to imitate him, have written very poorly. This has happened to some of our Divines, who, studying his manner, but wanting his genius, have uttered a flow of words, which sound not ill, but lack spirit and matter. I have looked over whole pages of Bishop Blackal’s Sermons, without finding any thing which offended the ear, or pleased the imagination, or informed the understanding. I cannot help mentioning here another Writer, who has gained great reputation for Stile, without deserving any; I mean Dr. Sprat, Bishop of Rochester. His expression is languishing and insipid, full of false pomp, full of affectation. He is always aiming at harmony and wit, but succeeds ill; for his manner is starched and pedantic. With much greater justice has the Stile of Dr. Atterbury, his successor, been admired.

Our Tongue is naturally cold, and the less force our words have, the more they must be multiplied; this multiplying of words is tedious; thence the remedy is as bad as the disease. The Latin phrases, on the contrary, are short and lively, and a few words convey many images. These difficulties, with many others, I found in this Translation very sensibly. I wanted new words, but have rarely coined any, as the creating of words is generally thought affected and vain; yet I have sometimes ventured upon a new phrase, and a way of my own, upon drawing the English idiom as near as possible to that of the Latin, and to the genius of my Author; by leaving the beaten road, dropping particles, transposing words, and sometimes beginning a sentence where it is usual to end it. I have studied to imitate the spirit, eloquence and turns of Tacitus, as far as I could, assisted by a Language weak in its sounds, and loose in its contexture. This manner of writing, I own, would be strange and even ridiculous in plain and familiar subjects; but where the subject is high and solemn, there must be a conformity of stile.

In the political Discourses following, I have likewise taken a method of my own, in reasoning largely upon topics which to me seemed of the most moment to this free Nation, and giving an idea of the politics of the Cæsars; of the vis, artes, & instrumenta regni, as they are called by Tacitus. I have vindicated the principles of civil Liberty; I have examined the defences made for Cæsar and Augustus; I have displayed the genius of these Usurpers; the temper and debasement of the people; with the conduct and tyranny of their successors, to the end of the Annals. In my Translation of the History I have done the same. I have little troubled myself with the strife and guesses of Commentators, and various Readings. I have chosen the best editions, and where the meaning was dubious, taken the most probable; for, after all, there is a good deal of guess-work and uncertainty; difficulties not peculiar to Tacitus.

I was persuaded to this undertaking several years ago by a friend of mine, a Gentleman of Letters in the City; for then I had never seen the English Translation, and knew not but it was a good one. Mr. Trenchard approved the design with his usual zeal for every thing which favoured public Liberty. My Lord Carteret, who understands Tacitus perfectly, and admires him, was pleased to think me not unfit for it, and gave me many just lights about the manner of doing it; that particularly of allowing my self scope and freedom, without which I am satisfied every Translation must be pedantic and cold. A Translation ought to read like an Original. The Duke of Argyll espoused it generously, with that frankness which is natural to him, agreeably to his knowledge and taste of polite Learning, and to his sincere love of Liberty. So did my Lord Townshend. Sir Robert Walpole encouraged me in the pursuit of it in a manner eminently to my credit; and to many Gentlemen of my acquaintance I am much obliged upon this occasion. I own I have been long about this Translation; that I was so, is to be ascribed not so much to idleness, as to diffidence. It was done a long while before I put it to the press; after all my care and many revises, I continued apprehensive that much fault might be found, and many objections made; a misfortune which I still doubt I shall not be able to escape, and wish I may not deserve. I therefore rely more on the candour of my Readers, than on my own sufficiency. Those of them who understand Tacitus in the original, will easily make allowances for the difficulty of making him speak any other Language. I have been chiefly careful not to mistake the sentiments of my Author about human Nature and Government; and I will venture to say, that no man who has not accustomed himself to think upon these two subjects, can ever make tolerable sense of Tacitus, let him be as learned in other things as he will. For the same reason, no man that is merely Learned, can ever be pleased with a free Translation, however faithful and just; for his chief attachment will ever be to Words and Criticism. Who had more Learning than Sir H. Savill? ’tis plain he abounded beyond most men; but I suppose Learning was his chief accomplishment; and thence his Translation is a very poor one. The fault cannot be ascribed to the time; for at that time the polite world wrote and spoke well; and if Sir Walter Raleigh had then translated it, no body I believe would have ever attempted to mend it.

 


 

DISCOURSE III.

Upon Cæsar the Dictator.

Sect. I. Of Cæsar’s Usurpation, and why his Name is less odious than that of Catiline.

NOTHING has been hitherto found a sufficient check and barrier to the exorbitant passions of men; neither kindness nor severity; nor mulcts nor pain; nor honour; nor infamy; nor the terrors of death. A proof how far human malice or ambition is an over-match for human wisdom; since Laws and Constitutions framed by the best and wisest men, have, first or last, become the sport and conquest of the worst, sometimes of the most foolish. Could wise Establishments have ensured the stability of a State, that of Rome had been immortal. Besides adopting all the best Institutions of the free States of Greece,a her principal struggle and employment for some Centuries, was the subduing of foreign enemies by Arms, and the securing of domestic Liberty by wholsome Laws; and for Laws and Arms she was the wonder and the glory of the earth. But she, whose force and policy no power could withstand, not that of Greece nor of Carthage, nor of the World, fell by the corruption, and perfidiousness, and violence of her own Citizens. The only sword that could hurt her, was her own; with that she trusted Cæsar, and that he turned unnaturally upon his own mother, and by it enslaved her.

Catiline’s conspiracy and crime every man detests; yet Cæsar accomplished what Catiline only intended. Had he better qualities than Catiline? he was so much the worse, and able to do higher mischiefs. See how infatuation prevails! the same men who abhor Catiline, admire Cæsar, who actually did more evil than ever the wicked heart of Catiline had conceived. But Catiline had no success, nor consequently flatterers. Had he succeeded, had he entailed Rome upon his race, and such as would have been concerned to have guarded his fame; there would not have been wanting flattering Poets and Historians to have echoed his Praises and Genius divine, his Eloquence, Courage, Liberality and Politics, and how much the degeneracy of Rome wanted such a Reformer, with every other topic urged in defence of Cæsar. But Catiline failed, and is owned to have been a Traitor. Cæsar’s iniquity was triumphant, so was his name; and after-ages have continued to reverence him by the force of habit, and of superstition which swallows every thing, examines nothing. When popular opinion has consecrated a man or a name, all that man’s actions, however wicked or foolish, and every thing done under that name, are sure to be consecrated too. The force of authority is irresistible and infatuating, and reason and truth must yield to prejudice and words.

Sect. II. Of the publick Corruption by Cæsar promoted or introduced; with his bold and wicked Conduct.

WAS the Commonwealth become disjointed and corrupt; as in truth it was deeply and dangerously? who had contributed so much as Cæsar to that wicked work? From his first appearance in the world he confederated with every public Incendiary, with every troubler of the peace of the State, with every Traitor against his Country: insomuch that he was divested of the dignity of Prætor by a solemn Decree of Senate: and when he sollicited for the Consulship, his ambition and violent designs were so much apprehended in that supreme Officeb, that to check him with a proper Collegue, the Senators contributed a great sum of money; nor did even Cato deny but that such contribution, however against Law, was necessary then to save the Statec.

He began that Office with violent acts of power; by violence dispossessed his Collegue of all Share in the Administration; and, during the whole term, he raised and pulled down, gave and took away by mere will and power, whatsoever and whomsoever he would; terrified some, imprisoned others; forged

plots, suborned lying accusers, and then murdered them, and trampled upon all Faith and Law.

To escape punishment for all these outrages, he corrupted and bribed the people, to chuse his own creatures into the Magistracy, or bribed the Magistrates after they were chosen. He went so far as even to engage some of them, by oath and writing, never to call him to account, nor suffer him to be called.

By the same wicked methods he obtained for his lot the province of Gaul, and kept it for ten years, committing fresh treason every day; making war of his own head, right or wrong, upon friend and foe; insomuch that it was proposed in Senate to deliver him up to the enemy; but faction and bribery saved him, and from the most extensive rapine he derived his power of bribing. He feasted the people; he gave them largesses; he gained the Senators by money, the soldiers by donatives; nay, the favourite servants and lowest slaves of considerable men, were bribed by him. Every prodigal, every expensive youth, every man indebted and desperate, every criminal, found in him a ready support and protector; and when their expences, debts, and crimes, were so excessive as to admit of no relief from him, to such he was wont to preach the absolute necessity of a Civil War.

Nor did foreign Kings and Nations escape his court and gifts; upon them he bestowed aids, and arms, and captives, all belonging to the Roman people, and without their authority; thus to purchase foreign friendship against a day of usurpation and need. To do all this he robbed the Provinces, plundered Towns, pillaged Temples, even the Capitol he plundered, whence he stole a vast quantity of gold, and placed so much gilt brass in the room of it, and put whole Kingdoms and Provinces under contribution to his privy purse.

How many thousand deaths did this man deserve, even before he had committed his capital iniquity! It was he who thus principally corrupted the State, and embroiled it, and unsettled it in all its parts.

He offered indeed to disband his forces, if Pompey would do so too; but even this offer was giving law to Rome. The Senate was to judge, and not Cæsar, what armies were to be disbanded, what to be retained. Besides, even that proposal was justly suspected to have been faithless and hollow; since, had he executed the same, it had been easier for him to have re-assembled upon occasion his veteran soldiers, than for Pompey his troops lately levied.

Had there been no corruption in the State, such a man was enough to introduce it. From his infancy he was thought to have meditated the enslaving of his Country, and in order to enslave it, created corruption, or improved it. To commit the blackest treason and iniquity that the malice of man could devise, he stuck at no other, but by a Babel of crimes accomplished the highest.

Sect. III. Cæsar might have purified and reformed the State; but far different were his intentions. His Art, good Sense, and continued ill Designs.

DID the State want reforming? why did not Cæsar reform and restore it? This would have been true glory, the only true use of his absolute power, and the only amends for having assumed it. The work too was practicable; the wisest and greatest men in Rome thought it so, even after all the poison and depravity introduced by him. Brutus, Cicero, and the Senate thought so; else he would never have been put to Death by those who did it. If the State had been deemed irretrievable, and an Usurper a necessary evil, they could not have had a better than Cæsar. But they judged otherwise, and for some time Liberty was actually restored. Why it subsisted no longer, was owing to casualties and the faithlessness of Octavius. No human wisdom can take in all incidents and possibilities at one view; to see them by succession is often to see them too late; and against what is not foreseen no remedy can be provided. Cicero who swayed the Senate, in hatred to Anthony, trusted Octavius too much, and raised him too high, and was by that false creature given up to the slaughter, to satiate the vengeance of Anthony, to cement their late union, and to begin the bloody Tragedy which they had meditated against their Country and her Liberty, by the murder of so signal a Patriot. What followed was horrible, continued massacres and the rage of the sword, the people armed against one another, two thirds of them destroyed, and Augustus established Sovereign over the rest. He too thought it possible to resettle the old free State, by proposing once or twice to resign; however insincere he were, it was a confession that he thought it to be practicable; and Drusus, his wife’s son, declared his own purpose to effect it; nay, it was what Tiberius, after he was Emperor, pretended to do.

Cæsar was said to have foretold the public Calamities and Civil Wars to ensue: Why did he not prevent them? By his Dictatorial power he might have removed what enormities, and made what regulations he would, suppressed the insolence of particulars, revived the force of the Laws, and reduced the Commonwealth to her first principles and firmness. Instead of this, he continued, more and more, to break her remaining balance, to weaken and debauch the people, and to destroy every Law of Liberty.

Liberty and the Republic were a jest to Cæsar; he treated the very name with ridicule and contemptd; he punned upon Sylla for resigning his usurped power. He had nothing in his head or heart but absolute rule, a Diadem, the title of King, and controuling the world according to his luste; nay, to have his very words go for Lawsf; and as a proof that he meant to entail all this pompous Dominion upon his Race, he had a Law ready to be proposed for a privilege of taking as many Wives as he thought fit, and of what quality and condition he thought fit. His acts of Tyranny were indeed so many, so high and insupportable, that even his dear friends the populace, notwithstanding all his bounties, his feasts and shews, and all his other arts to sooth and debauch them, grew sullen and discontented; they declaimed against such usurpation, in their houses and in the Forum; they called aloud for avengers, and gave him public affronts.

By the Laws of Rome the Dominion of one, and consequently the dominion of Cæsar, was detestable and accursed, and any man was warranted to slay the Tyrantg: Nor was there any valid reason against killing Cæsar, but that somewhat as bad or worse was to follow. Now the best and ablest Romans judged otherwise, as I have shewn; and who was better qualified to judge? As to Cæsar’s prophecy of worse times, it was deciding in his own favour, and not to be credited; and there was policy in it as well as vanity.

The accomplishments of Cæsar, the mildness of his administration, and mercy to his enemies, have been much magnified. It is certain he had exquisite abilities and address; but how did he apply them? Was it not to be the Master of mankind? and was not this, interest and self-love? What could be more interested, what more selfish, than to take the world to himself? Cæsar had good sense and experience; he knew that particular acts of cruelty and revenge were odious, even more odious than the slaughter of thousands, under the title of war and conquest, however unprovoked and unjust: So much more quarter from the world has ambition than cruelty, though the former is often the more mischievous passion. He knew, that, while general acts of blood would pass for Heroism, fit to be distinguished with praise and laurels, a particular life, taken away in anger, would pass for barbarity. Such fallacy is there in sounds, and in the imaginations of men! We judge not of evil by its quantity, the true medium of judging, but by its name, and the quality of the doer or sufferer; hence the foolish causes of popularity without merit and innocence. Acts of rage, the execution of particulars, and a vindictive Reign, would have diminished the Hero, and tarnished his fame, as much as his generosity to enemies, his noble contempt of fear and offenders, blazoned his glory, and begot admirers.

Sect. IV.   The probability of his waxing more cruel, had he reigned much longer.

THE generous, the forgiving temper of Cæsar, was no sure warrant, that he would not have broke out into personal cruelties; for, of his public cruelty, Rome and the world were the theatre and the witnesses: He must have acted agreeably to the necessities and jealousy of power, broken those necks which would not bend, and destroyed such as he could not but constantly fear. I own there came after him some Emperors who reigned without many acts of blood; but the sovereignty was then thoroughly established, and they had no high spirits to fear, bred in the notions and possession of Liberty, as were all the Romans in his time. Nor, even after servitude had been begun, and for some time suffered under Cæsar, could the second Triumvirate think themselves secure, till they had destroyed at once by Proscription a whole army of illustrious Romans, such as they conceived would oppose and even extirpate their domination. Nor did this tragical precaution and general barbarity, put an end to barbarity in particular instances; Augustus, for the first years of his Reign, was making almost daily sacrifices of noble blood to his fears and safety.

Power of it self makes men wanton, distrustful and cruel; Cæsar lived not long enough in purple to shew what he would prove; five months were but a short term for trialh. It would be rash to assert, that he who had shed the blood of Nations and Armies, without provocation, without authority; he who had violated Liberty and Law, and put chains upon his Country, and the race of men, would have spared particular lives, when from particular lives he came to apprehend danger and revolt. He that could be piqued even to folly and ridicule, because Aquila the Tribune did not rise as he passed by; he who could not put up this, nor forget it, nor cease mentioning it upon every occasion for a long while after, nor even forbear scolding at it, must have been capable of carrying his resentment very far, as well as of sudden anger; nay, been full of capricious and childish humours. How far such humours, and vanity, and anger might have carried him, he lived not to shew. But he had amply shewn, that his Ambition was dearer to him than Rome and the whole earth, and to this private passion of his, every public regard had yielded; the genuine mark this of a Tyrant, who rules the State for his own sake, and, rather than not rule it, enthralls it! Cæsar, who had committed all wickedness to gain power, would have committed more to have kept it, as soon as he found more to be necessaryi.

What avails the fair behaviour of one who may do what he pleases? What avail his fair promises, which he may break when he pleases? The worst of the Roman Emperors began their Reigns well, many of them excellently well; as Nero, Claudius, Caligula, Domitiank; some of them reigned well for some years. Cæsar was generous, magnificent, and humane to affectation, butl every passion, every sentiment must yield to the ardent lust of reigning. Had it not been for his great and acceptable qualities, he could not have introduced public bondage; the Hero, the Orator, and the fine Gentleman, hid the Usurper, and palliated at least the Usurpation.

Let any man consider Cæsar as a Subject of the State, altogether private; one who never bore Office or Authority; as a Physician, a Scribe or an Artist, or as one just started out of obscurity, or come from another Country; and then ask himself, What has this man, this private unknown man, to do with governing all men against Laws established by all? His being once Consul, his commanding of Armies, and appearing in a great public light; gave him no more right to do what he did, than the quality of an Artist, a Scribe, Physician, Upstart, or Stranger would have given him. Public trusts betrayed were aggravations of his crime, horrible aggravations! so were his excellent parts impiously applied.

Sect. V. Cæsar no lawful Magistrate, but a public Enemy.

OF Cæsar, his Usurpation and Death, I have reasoned largely elsewherem, and shall here abridge part of that reasoning. “He had no sort of Title, but success, gained by violence and all wicked means. The acquiring and exercising of Power by force is Tyranny, nor is success any proof of right. If the person of Cæsar was sacred, so is the person of every Usurper and Tyrant; and if all the privileges and impunity belonging to a lawful Magistrate, do also appertain to a lawless Intruder and public Oppressor, then all these blessed consequences follow: There is an utter end of all right and wrong, public and private; every Usurper is a lawful Magistrate; every Magistrate may be a lawless Tyrant; It is unlawful to resist the greatest human evil; the necessary means of self-preservation are unlawful: Though it be lawful and expedient to destroy little Robbers, who are so for subsistence, it is impious and unlawful to oppose great Robbers, who destroy nations out of lust and ambition. Public mischief is defended by giving it a good name, since Tyranny may be practised with impunity, if it be but called Magistracy; and the execrable Authors of it are sacred, if they but call themselves Magistrates; Though it be unlawful to be a public destroyer, yet it is unlawful to destroy him, and to prevent or punish that which is most impious and unlawful. In fine, any man who has wickedness and force enough to destroy or enslave the whole world, may do it, and be safe.

“If Cæsar was a lawful Magistrate, every powerful villain may make himself one, and lawful Magistrates may become such by mere force and iniquity. But if lawful Magistracy be not acquired by violence and butchery, Cæsar was none: if he was not, how came he by the rights and impunity of such?

Against lawless force every man has a right to use force. Cæsar had no more right than Alarick, Attila, or Brennus, who were foreign Invaders; his crime? was greater, as, to that of usurpation, he added those of ingratitude and treachery. It is owned that when he first made war upon his Country, his Country had a right to make war upon him; How came that right to cease, when he had heightened that iniquity by success? Is it lawful to resist a Robber before he has robbed you, but not after? Is a wickedness lessened by aggravations? Cæsar had forfeited his life by all the Laws of Rome; was it not as lawful to take it away by thirty men as by thirty thousand; in the Senate as in the field?

“A private man in society, even capitally injured, must not be his own judge, but leave revenge to the more impartial Law; but a capital offender against all, who sets himself above Law and Judgment, is a public enemy; and violence is the proper remedy for violence, when no other is left. In a State of Nature, every man has a right to vindicate himself; when Society is dissolved, the same right returns. Men can never be deprived of both public protection and private defence.

Cæsar had violated every tye that can bind the human soul; Oaths, Trust, and Law; he had violated every thing dear to human kind, their Peace, Liberty, Rights and Possessions: He did all this by means the most black and flagitious; by Plots, Faction, Corruption, Robbery, Devastation, Sacrilege, and Slaughter.

What was lest to the oppressed Romans to do, under the bonds of the Oppressor with his sword at their throat? Law and Appeals were no more; a Tyrant was their Master; the Will of a Tyrant their Law. Because he had slaughtered and destroyed one half of the people, had he thence a right to govern the rest? There was no public force to oppose him; he had destroyed many of the Armies of the State, and appropriated the rest to himself against the State; it would have been madness to have thought of judicial process. In short, there was no other way of abolishing his Tyranny, but by dispatching the Tyrant.

Sect. VI. Of the share which Casualties had, in raising the Name and Memory of Cæsar. The Judgment of Cicero concerning him.

PEOPLE suffer their own imaginations to abuse and mislead them. The sound of Cæsar’s Name; the superstitious reverence paid to it, his great employments, great victories, and even his great usurpation, are all pompous images that dazzle the eyes, and give a false lustre to the blackest iniquity and imposture. Nay, it proved an advantage to the fame and defence of Cæsar, that he was assassinated. Hence so much popular pity and lamentation for him; hence so much rage and obloquy upon the Tyrannicides. A violent death or violent sufferings, often pass for great merit, often atone for great crimes; and in the compassion for the doom of criminals the abhorrence of their villainies is often extinguished; malefactors the most barbarous, who never shewed any mercy in their lives, are bewailed at their execution, only because they are executed.

There were circumstances also in his Death favourable to his fame; he died with decency and a manly spirit, and he fell by the hands of his friends. These circumstances, and his bloody shirt displayed to a mob, with an artful melting speech from Anthony, inflamed them with sorrow and fury; two gross passions which do not reason but feel. The same topics have ever since furnished undiscerning Declaimers with big words and vehemence, in behalf of so fine a man, slain for no fault but that of Usurpation and Tyranny; a small crime, that of being the enemy of human kind!

As to the glory and prosperous fortune of this mighty Conqueror, Cicero says, with great truth, “that Felicity is nothing else but good fortune assisting righteous Counsels; nor can he whose purposes are not upright, be, from any success, esteemed in any-wise happy. Hence it is, that from the impious and abandoned pursuits of Cæsar, no true felicity could flow: happier, in my judgment, was Camillus under exile from his Country, than Manlius his co-temporary had been, though he had acquired over his Country that Tyranny which he lusted aftern.” The same wise man says elsewhere, “that he would have preferred the last day of Antonius the Orator, tragical as it was, to the usurped rule of Cinna, by whom that worthy Roman was barbarously murdered.” I cannot admire Cæsar’s ambition; he would rather have been Lord of a poor Village, than the second man in Rome. To me it appears more glory to be the Member of a free State, especially of the greatest State upon earth, than a Lord of Slaves, the biggest Lord.

Sect. VII.   How vain it is to extol any Designs of his for the Glory of the Roman people.

IT is said, that Cæsar was meditating great and glorious things for the Roman people, when he was cut off. He might indeed have gathered empty Laurels for himself by more wars at the expence of the people; but how this would have redounded to their advantage, I cannot see. I can easily see, that all the future strength he could have acquired, must have been acquired to himself, and over them; and every accession of power must, by raising his Tyranny higher, have sunk them lower, and streightened their chains. He wanted to fight the Parthians, but first he wanted to be King; and for this purpose a Prophecy was forged, that none but a King could conquer them. Was this impudent forgery too, and the design of it, for the glory of the people who were abused by it? In short, he could have done nothing beneficial or glorious for the Roman people, but to have restored them to their ancient and substantial glory, that of their Liberty and Laws. This too would have been the highest glory of his own life, which, to those who consider things as they are, stripped of foolish fair names and disguises, is, without this, all over black and infamous.

No man’s life can be said to be detestable, if his was not; seeing all the malefactors condemned since there were men and crimes, did not half the mischief which he did. It was even currently believed (and what worse could be believed of him than he had done?) that he meant to translate the seat of Empire, with all its strength, to Ilium, or to Alexandria; and having exhausted all Italy by great levies, (that she might never recover herself) he would have begun, probably, a new sort of Sovereignty upon his own model, exempt from the names and appearances of the old Constitution and Laws, which still had reverence paid them at Rome, and consequently were so many grievances to him. Rome he intended to have left to the dominion of his creatures. It is probable he thought himself not safe at Rome, nor in any place which had ever known the governance of Laws, nor any where but at the head of Armies. He had reason for his fear; the severest oppressor can never tye the hands of all the oppressed, nor put chains upon their resentments.

Sect. VIII.   Of his Death; and the rashness of ascribing to divine Vengeance the fate of such as slew him.

IN the midst of his farther designs, whatever they were, a bloody doom overtook this man of blood, and he was lawfully slain, though not by the forms of Lawo; his lawless power had made this impossible. It is true, they who slew him, were themselves slain. The righteousness of a cause does not always ensure its success; too seldom, God knows; but they who perish in defence of the Laws, are slain against Law. Such was the difference between his death and theirs. They were vanquished and slain in a great Civil War, at a time when Courage, and Virtue, and Patriotism were capital and proscribed.

Did none of those who destroyed Cæsar die a natural death? no more did Cæsar, who destroyed the State. If this was not a judgment upon him, why should theirs be one upon them? What rule have we to know a judgment, but from the justice or iniquity of a cause? If so, Cesar fell by the appointment of Heaven; Brutus and his brethren by the malice of Men. But if there be no rule, or if judgments, like parties, take different sides; how dare we pronounce? How many of the Cæsars his successors died naturally? Not one, if we will believe the Historians and probability, from Cæsar the Dictator to the Emperor Vespasian. Augustus was poisoned by Livia his wife; Tiberius smothered by Macro his favourite, to make way for Caligula, who was slain with the sword by the officers of his guard. Agrippina poisoned her husband Claudius; Nero stabbed himself; Galba was murdered by the soldiers, so was Vitellius. Otho fell by his own hands.

 


 

DISCOURSE IV.

Upon Octavius Cæsar, afterwards called Augustus.

Sect. I.   Of the base and impious Arts by which he acquired the Empire.

BY the death of the Usurper, Liberty was restored, but lasted nota; and Octavius succeeded Cæsar, by no superior genius, by no military prowess or magnanimity; for tricking and deceit constituted his chief parts, and though he was bold in council, he was a coward in the field. But he usurped the Empire by methods so low and vile, as brought disgrace even upon Usurpation; by a thousand frauds, and turns suddenly made, without the common appearances of decency or shame; by thousands of murders deliberately committed, without process or provocation; by multiplied treacheries, assassinations, and acts of ingratitude; by employing ruffians, and being himself one; and by destructive wars conducted by the bravery of others.

He levied forces without authority; and, under a lying pretence of defending Liberty, got to be employed by the State against Anthony. He then robbed the Commonwealth of her Armies; and was thought to have murdered both her chief Magistrates, the Consuls Hirtius and Pansa; the former by his own hand in the hurry of battle, the other after it, by causing poison to be poured into his wound by Glyco his Physician. It is certain, that the Physician was suspected, seized, and even doomed to the torture, but saved by the credit of his master Octavius; whose villainy had these farther aggravations, that he was generally believed to have been a Pathic to Hirtius for hire; and Pansa had ever a tender regard for him, a regard superior to that which he owed his Country, as he manifested by the advice which he gave him before he expired under agonies caused by the hard-hearted contrivance of that his beloved and perfidious friend.

With this very Army of the Commonwealth he turned head upon the Commonwealth, marched in an hostile manner to Rome, and sent a deputation of Officers to his Masters the Senate, to demand the Consulship in the name of the Legions: and, upon some hesitation shewn by that venerable Body, one of these armed Embassadors laid his hand upon his sword, and told them, “If you will not make him Consul, this shall.” For his first credit with the Senate he was beholden to Cicero, at whose suit he was trusted with command in conjunction with the Consuls, and dignified with the title of Proprætor. We see how he requited the Senate, we see how he served the Consuls; and Cicero his father in Counsel, and the father of the Republic, he delivered up to be murdered and mangled by his implacable enemy.

Sect. II. Of the vindictive spirit of Octavius, and his horrid Cruelties.

IN the Battle of Philippi, Octavius was beaten out of the field, his Camp seized, and, but for the fortune and valour of Anthony, the day must have been lost. After the victory he shewed as much insolence and cruelty, as he had wanted courage in it. He could not forbear manifesting cowardly spite to the dead body of Brutus, before whom he had a little before fled for his life, and sent the head of that excellent person to Rome, to be laid ignominiously at the feet of the Statue of Cæsar. Different was the treatment shewn by Anthony, who had saved Octavius, and beat Brutus. Anthony beheld his Corpse with grief and tears, covered it with his own armour, and treated it with respect and tenderness. Octavius had not greatness of heart enough for such generous humanity; but treated every illustrious captive with bitter words and cowardly insults, and put them to death without mercyb; says Suetonius. To one of these, imploring the privilege of burial, the base Tyrant answered, “That the fowls of the air would soon regulate that matter.” When a father begged mercy for his son, and the son for the father, the merciful Octavius commanded the father and son to fight for the survivorship. This barbarous fight he beheld, beheld the son slay his father, and then himself for having done it. Had not the remaining Prisoners reason, when they were brought before Anthony and him, to salute the former with the honourable title of Imperator, and the latter with invectives and contempt?

With the same cruel spirit he behaved himself after the siege of Perusia. All who applied to him, whether they pleaded innocence, or begged mercy, had one and the same merciless answerc, “Death is the lot of you all;” and they had it. Three hundred of the chief, comprizing their Nobility and Magistrates, were carried in chains to an Altar raised to Julius Cæsar, and there butchered like cattle, as victims to his ghost, upon the Ides of March, the Anniversary of his Assassination. The City itself he delivered to the lust and plunder of his soldiers, contrary to articles, and his faith given. Never was a more tragical and horrible scene. After killing, robbing and ravishing, what the sword could not destroy, the fire did; and that great and beautiful City, one of the fairest in Italy, was reduced to ashes. There were Historians, who asserted, that the quarrel between him and Lucius Antonius, who had shut himself up in that City, was all feigned, and a contrivance between them, for two reasons; first, to try who were real friends, and who were covered enemies; and then, by the conquest and confiscation of such, to find a fund for paying the Veterans their promised largess.

From the citizens of Nursia he took all that they had, their substance and even their city, and sent them forth to wander and starve; for no other crime but that, for their fellow citizens, slain at the siege of Modena, they had raised a Monument with an Inscription, “that they died for the public liberty;” though he had but just before fought and declared for the same side.

It is impossible to paint the horrors of the Proscription; by it every considerable man in the Roman world, who was disliked, or suspected by the Triumvirate to disapprove their Tyranny, was doomed to die; it was death to conceal or to help them, and rewards were given to such as discovered and killed them. Many were betrayed and butchered by their slaves and freedmen; many by their treacherous hosts and relations; and many fled with their wives and tender children to the howling wilderness, and lived or perished amongst woods and wolves. Nothing was to be seen but blood and slaughter; the streets ware covered with carcasses; the heads of the illustrious dead were exposed upon the Rostra, and their bodies upon the pavement, denied the mercy of burial, other than such as they found in the entrails of devouring dogs and ravenous birds. This looked like dooming Rome to perish at once; and when the other two were satiated with so many butcheries, Octavius, who never had blood enough, still persisted to shed more. No sort of men escape his cruelty, nor Nobles, nor Knights, strangers nor acquaintance, nay, nor his confidents, and favourite freedmen; nor even his old companion and tutor, Toranius, no one knows why, unless for being an honest man, and a lover of his Country.

These victims continued daily for a course of years; the slightest suspicions, the vilest forgeries, were grounds for slaughters, for illustrious slaughters. Nor could the great quality and venerable station of Quintus Gellius the Prætor, nor his innocence, exempt him from the bloody hands of the executioner; nor was execution the worst part of his doom; he was by a band of soldiers seized in his seat of justice, hurried away and subjected to the torture, like the meanest slave; but confessed nothing. Nor did all this injustice and barbarity satisfy the gentle Augustus, so much renowned for moderation and clemency; he had the brutal baseness to dig out the eyes of that Magistrate with his own hands, before he allowed him the mercy of being murdered outright. One of his favourite Ministers shewed his sentiments of the clemency of Augustus plainly enough, upon the following occasion. That Prince was judging some criminals, and giving himself over to revenge, and bloody decrees, without check or compassion, when the Minister, who abhorred to see him engaged in such feats of cruelty, sent him a note, told him, “he was a butcher,” and bad him “come down from his Tribunal.”

Sect. III. Of the treachery, ingratitude, and further cruelties of Octavius. That the same were wanton and voluntary.

THE conduct of Octavius in regard to Anthony, was, like the rest of his conduct, all one train of perfidiousness. First he made court to Anthony, then suborned rogues to murder him; then made war upon him with the arms of the State; then joined with him against the State; then by the bravery of Anthony he conquered the Empire, and then by plots, and the valour of Agrippa, he conquered Anthony; then he was devising ways to destroy Agrippa, and, but for an expedient offered by Mæcenas, had destroyed him.

Was it strange that against such a Prince conspiracies were frequent? As he was an Usurper he could not escape some; his falshood and cruelties begot others; and, from considerations public as well as personal, there was abundant cause for many. To punish one plot with exceeding violence, is a sure way to produce more; and, when there is no safety found in innocence, further methods will be tried.

It is a poor defence for Augustus, to say, that it was from necessity, and to serve himself, that he shed so much blood; for, besides that his cruelty was natural, wanton and unnecessary, why did he seek to be in a station where acts of blood were necessary? why did he usurp the state? why did he make himself a mark for public and private vengeance? was it not by ambition, was it not by treachery, that he assumed Sovereignty? was he not a public Traitor? and was it not his choice to be so? why did he wilfully commit crimes so flagitious, that in their defence he must commit more? Can one horrible iniquity efface another? Is a subject justified, who, because he has deserved the pains of treason, raises a rebellion against his Prince, nay, kills him, to be safe? No villainy ever was, or ever can be perpetrated, which such reasoning will not justify.

When some were bold and honest enough to talk to Oliver Cromwel about his excesses and usurpation, he asked them, What would you have one in my station do? He was well answered: Sir, We would have no body in your station. To vindicate murder from the necessity of committing it, in order to conceal robbery; is to argue like a murderer and a robber; but it is honest Logic, to reply; “Do not rob, and then you need not be tempted to murder; but if you will do one, and consequently both, remember that punishment does or ought to follow crimes, and the more crimes the more punishment. If, by a repetition of crimes, you become too mighty to be punished, you must be content to be accursed and abhorred as an enemy to human race; you must expect to have all men for your enemies, as you are an enemy to all men; and since you make sport of the lives and liberties of men, you must not wonder, nor have you a right to complain, if they have all of them memories and feeling, and some of them courage and swords.”

Sect. IV. Of the popular Arts and Accidents which raised the Character of Augustus.

MANY things concurred to favour the same of Augustus, and to obliterate his reproach. He reigned very long, and established a lasting peace; a special blessing and refreshment after a Civil War so long and ruinousd. For, though that war was the child of his ambition, yet, in a series of ensuing tranquillity, it was forgot. Nay, the greatness of the public calamities was a reason for forgetting them; the generation who felt them, were almost all cut off by them; and the next generation, which had not suffered, did not remembere: what the people had not seen, they did not lament. When he died there were scarce any living who had beheld the old free Statef. The people too were deceived into a belief that they still enjoyed their old Government, because their Magistrates had still their old names, though with just as much power as he thought fit to leave them. This was the advice of Mæcenas, that to the Officers of the State, the same names, pomp and ornaments should be continued, with all the appearances of authority without powerg. They were to have no military command during their term, but to possess the old jurisdiction of adjudging all causes finally, except such as were capital; and though some of these last were left to the Governor of Rome, an Officer newly created by the Emperor, yet the chief were reserved.

Moreover Augustus paid great court to the people: the very Name that covered his Usurpation was a compliment to them: he affected to call it the Power of the Tribuneship, an Office first created purely for their protection, and as the strongest effort and barrier of popular Liberty. It was for their sake and security, he pretended to assume this power, though by it he acted as absolutely as if he had called it the Dictatorial power; such energy there is in words! The Office itself was erected as a bulwark against Tyranny; and by the name of it Tyranny is now supported. In the same manner he used and perverted the Consulship; another Magistracy peculiar to the Commonwealth, but by him abused to the ends of his Monarchy.

He likewise won the hearts of the people by filling their bellies, by cheapness of provisions, and plentiful markets. This has infinite effect. If people have plenty at home, they will not be apt to discover many errors or much iniquity in the public, which will always be at quiet when particulars are so. But famine, or the fear of it, children crying for bread, mothers weeping for their children, and husbands and fathers unable to stop their tears, and find the necessaries of life for themselves, and such dear relations; all these are terrible materials for tumults, sedition, and even for revolutions. But people in ease and plenty are under no temptation to be inquiring into the title of their Prince, or to resent acts of power which they do not immediately feel.

He frequently entertained them with Shews and Spectacles; a notable means to produce or continue good humour in the populace, to beget kind wishes and zeal for the author of so much joy, and to make them forget Usurpation, Slavery, and every public evil. These were indeed used for the ends of corruption and servitude; they rendred the people idle, venal, vicious, insensible of private virtue, insensible of public glory or disgrace; but the things were liked, and the ends not seen, or not minded, so that they had their thorough effect; and the Roman people, they who were wont to direct mighty wars, to raise and depose great Kings, to bestow or take away Empires, they who ruled the world, or directed its rule, were so sunk and debauched, that if they had but bread and shews, their ambition went no higher.

By the same arts Cardinal Mazarin began to soften and debase the minds of the French; and after his death the like methods for promoting of idleness and luxury were pursued; shews, debauchery, wantonness and riot were encouraged and became common; and after the Restoration, England adopted the modes of France, her worst modes. There were some, too many, who, unworthy, of their own happiness and Liberty, came to admire her Government and misfortune; and laboured, with the spirit of Parricides, though without their punishment, to bring ours to the model of that.

I cannot omit observing here, that by the same means that Cæsar and Augustus acquired the Empire, they destroyed its force. In the Civil Wars great part of the people perished, and the rest they debauched. They had utterly drained or corrupted that source of men which furnished soldiers who conquered the earth; henceforth the plebs ingenua became a mere mob, addicted to idleness and their bellies, void of courage, void of ambition, and careless of renown. Armies were with difficulty raised amongst them; when raised, not good, or apt to corrupt the rest. It was such who excited the sedition in the German Legions, after the death of Augustush: “the recruits lately raised in Rome, men accustomed to the softness and gaieties of the City, and impatient of military labour and discipline, inflamed the simple minds of all the rest by seditious infusions, and harangues, &c.” Indeed the Roman Armies (so chiefly in name) were mostly composed of foreigners.

To engage new creatures and dependencies, he created many new Offices; as the multitude of Offices in France is reckoned a great support of the Authority Royal. He raised many public buildings, repaired many old, and to the City added many edifices and ornaments. He attended business, reformed enormities, shewed high regard for the Roman name; was sparing in admitting foreigners to the rights of Citizens; preserved public peace; procured public abundance, promoted public pleasure and festivity; often appeared in person at the public diversions, and in all things studied to render himself dear to the populace. In truth, when he had done all the mischief he could, or all that he wanted, and more, he ceased his cruelty and ravages. This too was imputed to him for merit. He was reckoned very good, because he began to do less mischief. It was a rational saying of that madman Caligula, “that calamitous and tragical to the Roman people were the boasted Victories of his great grandfather Augustus;” and therefore he forbad them to be solemnized annually for the future.

Sect. V. Though Augustus courted the people, and particular Senators, he continued to depress public Liberty, and the Senate.

BUT, amidst all these acts of popularity and beneficence, and this plausible behaviour of Augustus, the root of the evil remained and spread; the bulwarks of Liberty were daily broken down, and having lulled the public asleep, he was sowing his tares. The best of his Government was but the sunshine of Tyrannyk. Augustus was become the centre and measure of all things; he was the Senate, Magistracy and Laws; the arms of the Republic he had wrested out of her hands; those who had wielded them for her, he had slainl. The armies of the State were now the armies of Augustus, and every Province where Legions were kept or necessary, he reserved to himself; such as were unarmed he left to the Senate and people; in kindness forsooth to them; for he studied to relieve them from all anxiety and fatigue, and to leave them nothing to do; but would take all the care and trouble to himself. Italy, the original soil of Liberty and Freemen, he utterly disarmed, agreeably to the Maxims of absolute Monarchy. The Roman people and the Roman Senate he had reduced to cyphers and carcassesm. Hence all the submission and duty formerly paid to the free State, were, with her power, transferred to the Emperor, and certain wealth and preferment were the rewards of ready servility and acquiescencen.

This shews that, however he depressed the power of the Senate, he paid great court to particular Senators; and it is too true, that as men generally love themselves better than their Country, they too easily postpone the public interest to their own.o

Sect. VI.   What Fame he derived from the Poets and other flattering Writers of his time.

THE Renown of Augustus was also notably blazoned by the Historians and Poets of his time; men of excellent wit, but egregious flatterers. According to them, Augustus had all the accomplishments to be acquired by men, the magnanimity of Heroes, the perfections and genius of the Deity, and the innocence peculiar to the primitive race of men. After so many instances of his cruelty, revenge, selfishness, excessive superstition, and defect in courage; after all the crying calamities and afflictions, all the oppression and vassalage, that his ambition had brought upon his Country and the globe, one would think that such praises must have passed for satire and mockery. But ambition, successful ambition, is a credulous passion; or whether he believed such praises or no, he received them graciously, and caressed the Authors. Hence so much favour to Virgil and Horace, and to such other wits as knew how to be good Courtiers; and hence every admirer of those charming Poets, is an admirer of Augustus, who was so generous to them, and is the chief burden of their Panegyrics.

Suppose he had miscarried; suppose the Commonwealth restored, and him punished as a Traitor instead of gaining the Sovereignty; would not the Historians, would not the Poe tshave then spoke as the Law spoke, that Law by which he had certainly forfeited his life? would not Brutus and Cassius have then filled their mouths with Panegyrics, as the Saviours of the State? would they have lamented that the Usurpation failed, and extolled the Usurper? Is Catiline extolled, or are the Usurpations of Cinna, Sylla, or Marius? nor was the conduct and domination of either, half so barbarous and tragical as was that of Augustus for a course of years. The truth is, their Tyranny was shortlived, unsuccessful, or resigned.

Iniquity unprosperous or punished, no man praises; but wickedness exceeding great and triumphant, almost all men do, as well as decry virtuous attempts defeated. Cæsar and Augustus succeeded; and their flattery continued, because their government and race did; pSycophancy is ever a constant attendant upon greatness, says Paterculus, who was himself a scandalous flatterer, and has in his History, miserably perverted truth, or utterly suppressed it, that he might lye for the Cæsars. When Truth was treason, who would venture to speak it? and when Flattery bore a vogue and a price, there were enough found to court it, and take it. Hence the partiality or silence of Poets and Historiansq.

Sect. VII. Of the false Glory sought and acquired by Augustus, from the badness of his Successors.

ANOTHER signal advantage to the name and memory of Augustus, was the badness of his Successors; and for his posthumous lustre he was indebted to the extreme misery of the Roman people. In proportion as Tiberius, Caligula, &c. were detested, Augustus was regretted; yet who but Augustus was to be thanked for these monsters of cruelty? They were legacies by him entailed upon that great State, and he was even suspected to have surrendered the Roman people to the Tyranny of Tiberius, purely to enhance his own praise with posterity, by the comparison and opposition of their Reignsr. He sought renown from a counsel for which he deserved abhorrence. He had made a feint or two to abdicate the Sovereignty; had he been in earnest, he might at least have contrived, that his Usurpation should last no longer than his life, and have left for a legacy to the Roman people that Liberty of which he had robbed them; that dominion over themselves, which none but themselves had any right to exercise. The truth is, his power and name were dearer to him than the Roman people or human race; he made provision by a long train of successors against any possible relapse into Libertys. When he had no longer any heir of his own blood, or none that he liked, he adopted the sons of his wife; and even the worst of them was destined to the successiont.

If it be said that by such adoption he fortified himself, and considered heirs asu the stays and security of his domination; this still shews what was uppermost in his views, that he meant to perpetuate slavery. If he had studied the good of Rome, why was not Tiberius, whom he knew to be tyrannical and arrogant, postponed? why was not his brother Drusus, the most accomplished and popular man in the Empire, preferred? or (after his death) Germanicus his son, one equally deserving, and equally beloved? It is even said that he loved Drusus, loved Germanicus, and was suspected to have hated and despised Tiberius; yet Tiberius was preferred, and had the world bequeathed to him. Was it done to please his wife? then he loved her better than the Roman people, nay, preferred her caprice to the felicity of human kind. Drusus had declared his purpose to restore the Commonwealth; the same intention is supposed to have been in Germanicus. This perhaps was the reason for setting them asidew; as was said of Tiberius.

Sect. VIII. The Character of Augustus.

AS to the Character of Augustus, he was a man of Sense and Art; his courage below his capacity, his capacity below his fortune, yet his fortune below his fame; because his fame was the child of able flattery as well as of propitious fortune. He was a cunning man, not a great genius; dextrous to apply the abilities of others to his own ends, and had ability enough to be counselled by such as had more; his designs were rather incidental and progressive, than vast and conceived at once; and he cannot be said to have mastered fortune, but to have been led by it. In the times of the Republic he would have made but a middling figure; in the station and pursuits of Julius Cæsar, none at all. It is not in the least likely that he would have thought or attempted what Cæsar accomplished. He wanted Cæsar’s masterly spirit, the eclat of that consummate Warrior, his boundless Liberality, his enchanting Eloquence. For the Eloquence of Augustus, which was easy and flowing, such as became a Prince, was quite different from that torrent of Language, and power of speaking necessary to agitate and controul the spirit of Republicans, and came far short of the talent of Julius, who stood in rank with the most distinguished Orators. I know not whether the vices of the Dictator had not more popular charms than the virtues of Augustus. Cæsar made his way to the Throne, Augustus found it already made, or, where difficulties occurred, was conducted by the superior lights and force of others, whom he rewarded with all the meanness of ingratitude, and even cruelty, and did many things which the great heart of Cæsar would have scorned. No great mind ever delighted in petty mischiefs; though to do mighty evil an elevated genius is not always necessary.

Sect. IX. Of the Helps and Causes which acquired and preserved the Empire to Augustus. His great Power and Fortune no proof of extraordinary Ability.

THAT Augustus acquired the Empire, is not a proof of talents grand and surprizing; a thousand things concurred to it, times and accidents, friends and enemies, the living and the dead, fought and contrived for him; Cæsar, Anthony, the authority of the Senate, the folly and corruption of the people, the eloquence and abilities of Cicero, seasonable conjunctures, the opposition of some, the compliance or intoxication of others, nay, the charms of Cleopatra, and his own treachery and fears: All these coincided to push him forwards, and to hoist him into Sovereignty; nor indeed wanted he dexterity to improve opportunities; for he was a notable man, judged well, and had a turn for business.

Nor did it require much genius to hold the Empire, when he had got it. All who could oppose him were slain or subdued. He had Armies and Guards; and the people were disarmed and enslaved; the State was so thoroughly mastered, the Roman spirit so entirely brokenx, that any the most contemptible wretch among men, provided he were but vouched by the Armies, and called Cæsar, might rule, insult, and lay waste the Roman world at his pleasurey. What was Caligula, what were Nero and Claudius? were they not monsters, who but for shape and speech, were utterly disjoined from humanity? and yet were not these monsters suffered, nay adored, and deified, while they were wallowing in the blood of men, and making spoil of the creation? Nor were the savages cut off by any effort of the Roman people, but by the instruments of their own cruelty, their wives, soldiers and slaves.

Thus it was possible to be Masters of mankind, not only without common sense, and common mercy and compassion, but even armed with intense and settled hate against the race of men, and daily exerting it. The rule and havock of a Lion, or any other beast of prey, would have been less pernicious, and less disgraceful to the Roman people, though he had required for his sustenance a vessel of human blood every day. Nay, had the imperial Lion kept about him a Court and Guard of subordinate Lions for his Instruments and Counsellors, they could not have worried and devoured faster than did the Accusers, Freedmen, Poisoners, and Assassins of the Emperors. Cruelty, inspired by hunger, ceases when hunger is asswaged; but cruelty, created by fear and malice, is never satiated, nor knows any bounds. So much less dangerous and pernicious are the jaws and rapaciousness of a Tyger, than the jealousy and rage of a Tyrant, his flatterers and executioners.

Now where was the difficulty to Augustus, where the necessity of high wisdom, to maintain the Sovereignty, when such despicable wretches could maintain themselves in it for a course of years? The Romans, who were masters of mankind, were become the tame property, the vassals and victims of creatures equal to no office in a State, even the meanest and most contemptible office; creatures void of understanding, void of courage. Such, without aggravation, were the Lords of Rome for several successive reigns. Such as were a scandal to human Nature, trod upon the necks and wantoned in the blood of human kind; nay, delegated this work, and the disposal of the Romans life and property, to the vilest of their domestics and dependants, their spies, informers, and bond-slaves.

 


 

DISCOURSE V.

Of Governments free and arbitrary, more especially that of the Cæsars.

Sect. I.   The Principle of God’s appointing and protecting Tyrants, an Absurdity not believed by the Romans.

I Do not find that a servitude so beastly and ignominious was borne by the Romans out of Principle. Their Religion, as vain and superstitious as it was, had never offered such an insult to common sense, as to teach them that their Deities, as capricious as they thought them, warranted Tyranny, and sanctified Tyrants; that the brutal and bloody Caligula, was the beloved and Vicegerent of Jove, almighty, all-wise and all-merciful; that the worst of men had a commission from Heaven to oppress all men, and to destroy the best; that murder, rapine and mis-rule were Government, and such lawless and bloody robbers were Governors divinely appointed; that Society had no remedy against devouring lust, and the raging sword, which were destroying all the ends of Society, and Society it self. These are Absurdities below Paganism and all its chimeras; even the Superstition of Pagans never broached such blasphemies and indignities to God and Man; never propagated Doctrines which would have turned men into idiots, destitute of reflection and feeling, nay, into beasts of burden, and beasts for sacrifice; turned the Deities into Devils; human society into a chaos of blood and carcasses, and this earth into a place of torments. It never entered into the heart of a Greek or a Roman, nor into any heart which felt the sentiments of virtue and humanity, that it was unlawful to defend Law; a crime to ward against murder, barbarity, and desolation; and an impiety to do the most godlike action which can be done on this side Heaven, that of disarming a Tyrant, and saving one’s Country from perishing. It is true, that the Romans flattered their Tyrants, as Tyrants ever will be flattered; but as the names and appearances of the old Government still subsisted, they pretended to believe that none but the old Laws were exercised; and by the old Laws the Emperors still pretended to act. For several generations after the State was enslaved, and even during the Reigns of the worst of the Cæsars, the Romans expressed high contempt for Nations who were avowedly slaves, and for Kings who were avowedly arbitrary; and it then continued usual to behold foreign Monarchs attending the levee and train of the Roman Magistrates and Governors of Provinces; nay, they were sometimes denied access, and treated with great scorn.

Government is doubtless a sacred thing, and justly claims all reverence and duty; but in the idea of Government is implied that of public Protection and Security; that it is the terror of evil doers, and the encouragement of such as do well. But when what was Government ceases; and what is called Government, is, in reality, general oppression, havock, and spoil; when a power prevails which is swayed by evil doers to the destruction of all who do well; when law and righteousness are banished, lust and iniquity triumph; property is violently invaded, and lives are wantonly destroyed; is this Government too? If it be, I should be glad to know what is not Government.

Sect. II.   The reasonableness of resisting Tyrants asserted, from the Ends of Government, and the Nature of the Deity. Opinions the most impious and extravagant, why taught, and how easily swallowed.

IT is certainly unlawful to resist Government; but it is certainly lawful to resist the deviation from Government, to resist what destroys Government and men. To resist the abuse of Government, is to assist Government. It is allowed to be just to help our protectors; but it is equally just to oppose our enemies, madmen and spoilers. Now what was Nero, what Caligula and Claudius? one a bloody idiot, the other an inhuman madman; the first like the second, and all of them public robbers and butchers. If their course of cruelties and oppression was Government, so are plagues, tempests and inundations; but if their lives and actions were altogether pernicious and detestable; the exterminating of such monsters from amongst men, would have been a service to the whole race. Was Tarquin half so black and odious? yet who has ever blamed his expulsion? was the Insolence and Tyranny of Tarquin the Ordinance of God? what then was the succeeding Government of the People and Senate? if this was the Ordinance of God too; then every Government good and bad, or rather Mis-government as well as Government, public robbery and ruin, as well as public security and protection, may be equally said to be his Ordinance; and there are Ordinances of his that combat one another, like the two Angels contending in one of the Prophets. But if the Tyranny of Tarquin was, and the establishing of the free State was not the Ordinance of God, then are not the Patrons of this opinion obliged to say, and to maintain this gross and blasphemous absurdity, that the divine Being disapproves of good Government, Equity and Laws, and delights in injustice, cruelty and confusion; not in the rule of equal justice, but in the ravages of lust and iniquity?

To say that all Governments, the good and the bad, are alike to him, equally inviolable, is to say that he takes no cognizance of things below; and at this rate, there is, in his sight, no such thing as guilt and innocence. To alledge that that Government which is best for men, is disliked by him; and the rule of lust is preferable to that of Laws; is to make him worse than indifferent, the patron of wantonness and oppression; a foe to order and benevolence, fonder of one man’s caprice and violence, than of the happiness of millions; nay a professed advocate for iniquity, a professed adversary to all public righteousness. If it be said, that he approves not of Tyranny himself, and yet would not have it resisted by others; this is nonsense added to prophaneness; since what he neither checks nor allows to be checked, he may be said to approve. If I see a man going to commit murder, and by terrible threatning and penalties restrain such as would restrain him, will it not be construed, that I chose to have the murder perpetrated? It makes him besides a hard-hearted being, who forbids to remedy the highest human evil, nay, wilfully dooms human kind to the severest misery.

I never heard that he has forbid under any penalty the use of Medicines against the Plague, and I think I have found the reason why I never heard it; the Plague has no treasures, nor dignities to recompence flatterers. Had it been worth while to have made such prohibition a Doctrine of Religion; that is, had it been pleasing to Power, and the way to favour, I doubt not but it would have gained ground, and many followers, as other doctrines equally absurd have done, where the gain and craft of a few have been followed and defended by the superstition and zeal of many; witness Transubstantiation, Purgatory, Auricular Confession, blind Obedience under the rod of Tyranny, &c. The Turks out of bigotry to that of Predestination, forbear all precautions against the Plague, when raging on every side of them. It is impossible to invent a Doctrine so monstrous and mischievous, but it will meet with partizans and admirers, provided the inventors have convenient names and habiliments, without which the most illustrious and benevolent truths will hardly pass with a multitude bewitched with the magic of words and superstition.

It is impossible for the hearts of men to contrive a principle more absurd and wicked, than that of annexing divine and everlasting vengeance to the resisting of the most flagrant mischief which can possibly befal the sons of men; yet it has found inventors and vouchers. It is plain from this instance, and from a thousand more, that there is no wickedness of which the hearts of men are not capable, and that the wretchedness of the whole race weighs not so much with them as their own profit and pleasure. It would seem from hence, as if we had lived in the dregs and barbarism of time, since to the late age (at least here in Christendom) was reserved the infamy of hatching a Monster so horrible, that to its birth was sacrificed all Sense and Humanity, all the considerations, and even the essence of Truth, Order and Liberty.

The advocates for this impious tenet, which represents the great and good God as incensed with men for striving to remove their chains and sorrows, are, by defending Tyranny, so much worse than Tyrants, as a Scheme of Barbarity coolly and deliberately contrived or defended, is more heinous than particular acts of barbarity committed in the heat and hurry of passion, and as Murder is a greater crime than Manslaughter.

What avail Laws and Liberty, ever so excellently framed, when they are at the mercy of lawless rage and caprice? If we are forbid by God to defend Laws, why do we make them? Is it not unlawful to make what it is unlawful to defend? What else is the end of Government, but the felicity of men; and why are some raised higher in Society than others, but that all may be happy? Has God ever interposed against the establishment of Society upon a good foot? If he has not, but wills the good of Society, and of men, how comes he to interpose against the defence of an Establishment which he nowhere forbids, and against that good which he is said to will? What more right had Nero to take away the lives of innocent men than any other Assassin; what more title to their fortune than any other Robber; what better right to spill their blood than any Tyger? And is it unlawful to resist Robbers, and Assassins, and Beasts of Prey? Did the Almighty ever say of that beastly Tyrant, “Touch not Nero my Anointed, nor do his Ruffians any harm?” Did Nero’s station lessen or abrogate his crimes?

What idea does it give of God, the Father of mercies and of men, to represent him screening that enemy to God and man, as a person sacred and inviolable, and holding his authority from himself; the merciful and holy Jehovah protecting an inhuman Destroyer! What more relation could there be between God and Nero, than between God and an Earthquake, God and a Conflagration or Massacre? The very phrase is shocking to the soul! Is such representation likely to make the name and nature of God amiable to men, likely to excite them to love and reverence him? Satan is said to be delighted with the miseries and calamities of men; and, to suppose that wicked Being concerned for the security of a Tyrant, whose office it is to debase and afflict human race, is natural and consistent with his Character. But I wish men would not father upon the Author of all good such counsels and inclinations, as can only suit the father of cruelties and lies.

Sect. III.   The danger of slavish Principles to such as trust in them, and the notorious insecurity of lawless Might.

NEITHER have Tyrants and Oppressors been much obliged to this enslaving Doctrine, which has generally filled them with false confidence and security; it has always made them worse, seldom safer; and, without doing any good, been the cause of much evil to their poor subjects. The Turks hold it as an Article of Faith, and it is one worthy of Turkish grossness and barbarity! yet where has the deposing and murdering of Princes been so common as in Turkey? The Monarch is told he may do what he pleases; their Religion tells him so, the holy Mufti, who explains it, tells him so, and from God he tells him so; but notwithstanding all these holy Authorities, this person so sacred, and guarded with securities human and divine, is often butchered with less form than a common male-factor, and even with the Mufti’s consent and assistance. Thus it has happened to several in a Century; had not their power been so great, their security would have been greater.

aAn absolute Prince is of all others the most insecure; as he proceeds by no rule of Law, he can have no rule of Safety. He acts by violence, and violence is the only remedy against him. Now violence which is confined to no rule, but as various and unlimited as the passions and devices of men, can never be parried by any certain provision or defence. His acts of cruelty upon particulars, whether done for revenge or prevention, do but alarm other particulars to save themselves by destroying him. Men who apprehend their lives to be in danger, will venture any thing to preserve them; or if they do more than apprehend and be already become desperate, we know to what lengths despair will push them. Thus Caligula, thus Domitian and Commodus, were slaughtered by those whom they had doomed to slaughter. Nor Armies nor Guards can prevent the machinations and efforts of a secret enemy; even amongst his Armies and Guards such a one may be found, nay, in his Houshold, in his Bed-chamber, amongst his Kindred, nay, amongst his Children.

When Princes act by Law, in case of hardship upon particulars, there is a remedy to be sought from the Law; and when the Law fairly administered will afford none, they will acquiesce; or, if they blame any thing, they will blame the Law, but a remedy they will be apt to seek; and, when they suffer not from Law, but from mere violence, they will have recourse to violence. Neither can a people be ever so sunk or deadened by Oppression, but much provocation, some management and a skilful leader, will find or raise some spirit in them, often enough to accomplish great Revolutions; witness Sicily under the French, Swisserland under the Yoke of Austria, and the Low Countries under that of Spain; nay, the most consummate and professed slaves, those of Turkey, often rouse themselves, and casting their proud rider to the earth, trample him to death.

Indeed slaves enraged are the most dangerous populace; because having no other resource against oppression, they repel violence with outrage; a little spark often raises a great flame; and a flame soon spreads to a Conflagration, where materials are prepared, as they almost eternally are in Governments that are absolute or aiming to be so. The Commotions at Paris, during the Minority of the late King, were followed by others all over France, though the whole Kingdom had been for a great while before, by the Tyranny of the Administration, frightened, despairing, and even lethargic; but the resentment and convulsions that followed this false calm, had like to have overset the Monarchy. Nor can any public calm be certain, or any Government secure, where the people are pillaged and oppressed. People that are used like beasts, will act like beasts; and be mad and furious, when buffeted and starved.

Sect. IV.   Princes of little and bad Minds, most greedy of Power. Princes of large and good Minds chuse to rule by Law and Limitations.

IT is poor and contemptible ambition in a Prince, that of swelling his Prerogative, and catching at advantages over his People; it is separating himself from the tender relation of a Father and Protector, a Character which constitutes the Glory of a King; and assuming that of a foe, and an ensnarerb. This is what a Prince of a great and benevolent spirit will consider; not himself as a lordly Tyrant, nor them as his Property and Slaves; but himself and them under the amiable and engaging ties of Magistrate and fellow Citizens. Such was the difference between a Queen Elizabeth and a Richard the second; how glorious and prosperous the Reign of the one, how infamous and unhappy that of the other! what renown accompanies her memory, what scorn his! It is indeed apparent from our History, that those of our Princes who thirsted most violently after arbitrary rule, were chiefly such as were remarkable for poor spirit, and small genius, Pedants, Bigots, the timorous and effeminate.

The French Historians observe that the worst and weakest of their Kings were fondest of Dominion, and their best and wisest contented with stinted Power, and the rule of Laws. Lewis the eleventh, says Cardinal De Retz, was more crafty than wise. He was in truth a genuine Tyrant; he trampled upon the Laws of the Kingdom, and the lives of his Subjects, pillaged and oppressed all manner of ways, and followed no Counsel but that of his Lust and Caprice. But what advantage or content, what security or fame did he draw from his exorbitant encroachments and power? No man ever lived under a blacker series of fears, and cares, and suspicions, or died in greater misery and terrors; and in his life, and death, and memory he is equally detestablec. Lewis the thirteenth, a man naturally harmless, but silly, was jealous of his authority, purely because he was ignorant about it; but Henry the fourth, who was born with a Soul great and generous, never distrusted the Laws, because he trusted in the uprightness of his own Designs. Il ne se defioit pas des loix, parce qu’il se fioit en lui même, says De Retz. Another French Monarch of great name, loved and enjoyed unbridled Dominion, but had no greatness of mind or genius answerable to the measure of his ambition. He had a sort of stiffness and perseverance, by his flatterers stiled Fortitude and Firmness, but in reality arising from arrogance or obstinacy; qualities found in the weakest women, and eminently in his mother. In Religion he was a bigot; in Politics false, suspicious, and timid; in Government insolent and oppressive; the property of his Mistresses, the Pupil of his Confessors, the Dupe of his Ministers; a sore Plague to his Neighbours; a sorer to his own People; vainly addicted to War without the talents of a Warrior; a dishonourable Enemy, a faithless Ally; and, with small Abilities, a great Troubler of the World.

It was natural to such an Imperial Wolf as Caligula, to delight in power as savage as his own bloody spirit, and to boast that he had an unlimited privilege to do whatever his will or fury suggestedd; but worthy of the benevolent and humane heart of Trajan, were the words by him used to his chief Officers, when he presented them with the sword. “This sword, this badge of Authority, you hold from me; but turn it, if I deserve it, against mee.” Now, did the challenging and exercise of this monstrous power secure Caligula; or did the disavowing of it lessen the security of Trajan? quite otherwise; the former was abhorred and assassinated as a Tyrant; the latter was adored living, and died lamented, as a public Father and Guardian: Trajan knew no other purpose of Imperial Prerogative, but that of protecting the People; nor indeed is there any other use of Emperors and Prerogatives upon earth.

Cardinal De Retz says, that with all the arguments and pains he could use, he could never bring the Queen Regent to understand the meaning of these words, the Public. She thought that to consult the interest of the People was to be a Republican, and had no notion that the Government of a Prince was any thing else but Royal Will and Authority, rampant and without bounds. Was it any wonder, that the people of France gasped under Oppressions and Taxes, when the Government was swayed by such a Woman, herself blindly governed by Mazarine, a public Thief, if ever there was any; one convicted to have stollen from the Finances nine millions in a few years; one who had spent his younger years in low rogueries; who had no maxims of rule but such as were adapted to the severest Tyranny in Italy, that of the Pope; and one, who, in the highest post of first Minister, could never help shewing the base spirit of a little Sharper. Le vilain cæur paroissoit toûjours au travers, says De Retz: the Duke of Orleans called him un Scelerat, & Ministre incapable & abhorré du genre humain; un Menteur fieffé.

Sect. V.   The Wisdom and Safety of ruling by standing Laws, to Prince and People.

IT was a fine answer of Theopompus King of Lacedæmon to his wife, who reproached him that he would leave the Kingship diminished to his sons, by creating the Ephori: Yes, says he, I shall leave it smaller, but I shall leave it more permanent. Valerius Maximus explains this by a very just reflection; “Theopompus’s reason was full of pertinency and force; for, in reality, that Authority which bounds itself, and offers no injuries, is exposed to none. The king therefore by restraining Royalty within the just limits of Laws, did as much endear it to the Affections of his Countrymen, as he pruned it of all Licentiousness and Terrorf.”

It is as rare for a Prince limited by Laws, and content with his power, to reign in sorrow, or to die tragically, as it is uncommon for those who have no bounds set them, or will suffer none, to escape a miserable Reign, and unbloody end. The power of the Roman Kings was, from the first establishment, very short; they had no negative voice in the Senate, and could neither make War nor Peace. What Tacitus says of Romulusg, can only mean his administring justice, as the chief Magistrate, between man and man, or perhaps his encroachments upon the Senate towards his latter end, for which, it is thought, he paid dear.

Where the Government is arbitrary and severe, the oppressed people will be apt to think that no change can make their condition worse; and therefore will be ready to wish for any, nay, to risque a Civil War, risque fresh evils and calamities, to get rid of the present, and to be revenged on their Oppressor. Such was the temper of the Romans upon the revolt of Sacrovir; they even rejoiced in it, and, in hatred to Tiberius, wished success to the public enemyh. People will be quiet and patient under burdens, however heavy, which Law lays on; for they suppose that laws are founded upon reason and necessity; but impositions the most reasonable will be apt to appear unreasonable and tyrannical, where they proceed from the will of one. Mere will is supposed to act without reason, and to be only the effect of wantonness; hence the acquiescence of a free people however taxed, and from their acquiescence, the safety of their Governors. Hence too the industry and wealth, and consequently the peaceableness of the country; for industry and wealth are things exceeding quiet and tame, and only aim at securing themselves; whereas idleness and indigence are uneasy, tumultuous, and desperate. Besides, he who pays twenty shillings in a free Government, and pays it chearfully, would not perhaps, were the Government changed, pay willingly ten, nay, perhaps be unable to pay it, though by the change no new taxes were added. While the Law requires it, he will imagine that no more than enough is required; and as the same Law leaves him all the rest to himself, he will be industrious to acquire more, and as much as he can; but when the quantity of his Tax depends upon the caprice or avarice of one; when the more he is worth, the more he will be taxed, or even fancies that he will be, he will grow idle, discontented and desponding, and rather live poor and lazy, than labour to make his Taxmaster rich. Not to mention the furious Monarchies of the East destructive of all Diligence and Arts; the Comte De Boulainvilliers in his Elat de la France, says, that in some Provinces in France the soil is left uncultivated, and several trades and professions are disused; because the labour of the Husbandman, and the skill and application of the Artist, are rendered abortive by rigorous impositions. They chuse rather to starve in idleness, than to work and starve.

Sect. VI.   The Condition of free States, how preferable to that of such as are not free.

NO arbitrary Prince upon earth could have raised from the States of Holland the fifth part of what they have, as a free State, paid to their own Magistrates, nor could have sound whence to have raised it. I will venture to say the same of England. Under a Monarchy of the late King James’s model, was it possible to have supported two wars so long and consuming as the two last, or to have raised sums so immense to carry them on? It would be madness to assert it. By this time numbers of our people would have been driven from their Country, much of our Soil been waste, many of our Manufactures laid aside, our Trade sunk, our Wealth fled, and the condition of England have resembled that of France, as well as our Government theirs, and for the same reason. It is in vain boasted of the House of Medicis, that in a long course of years they had laid no new tax upon a country where their power was absolute; since the Cities and Territories, under their Sovereignty, are by it reduced from great wealth and populousness to such miserable desolation and poverty, that it is downright oppression to oblige them to pay any considerable part of the old, much more all.

To reason from experience and examples, is the best reasoningi. Compare any free State with any other that is not free. Compare the former and present condition of any State formerly free; or once enslaved, and now free. Compare England with France; Holland with Denmark; or the seven Provinces under the States, with the same seven Provinces under Philip the second; you will find in these and every other instance, that happiness and wretchedness are the exact tallies to Liberty and Bondage.

Florence was a Commonwealth ill framed at first, and consequently subject to frequent convulsions, factions, parties, and subdivision of parties; yet by the mere blessing and vigour of Liberty, she flourished in people, riches and arms, till with her Liberty she lost all spirit and prosperity; and became languishing, little and contemptible under a small Prince with a great name. She has been long cured of all her former frolicks and tumults, by an effectual remedy, servitude; and beggary, the child of servitude; and by depopulation, the offspring of bothk. All arguments for absolute Power, are confuted by facts; no Country governed by mere will was ever governed well; passion governs the will, the will becomes the measure of right and wrong and of all things, and caprice the ballance of the will; and I know not but it may be maintained that a free State the worst constituted, as was that of Florence, is, with all its disorders, factions, and tumults, preferable to any absolute Monarchy, however calml.

Sect. VII.   The Misery and Insecurity of the Cæsars from their overgrown Power.

THESE Emperors of Rome, who had sacrificed their country and all things to their supreme power, found little ease and security from its being supreme. From Cæsar the Dictator, who had sacrificed public Liberty, and was himself sacrificed to her manes, till Charlemain, above thirty of them were murdered, and four of them murdered themselves; the soldiery were their masters, and upon every pique put them to death. If the Prince was chosen by the Senate, this was reason enough for shedding his blood by the Armies; or if the Armies chose him, this choice of their own never proved an obstacle against shedding it. It was the soldiers that dispatched the Emperor Pertinax, after he had been forced to accept the Empire. These lofty Sovereigns having trodden under foot the Senate, People and Laws, the best supports of legitimate Power, held their scepter and their lives upon the courtesy of their masters the soldiers. He who swayed the Universe, was a slave to his own mercenaries.

Though Augustus had reigned so long, and so thoroughly enfeebled or extinguished the maxims of Liberty, and introduced and settled those of Monarchy; Tiberius his immediate Successor, thought himself so little safe, that he lived in perpetual vassalage to his own fears. By making all men slaves, he could not make himself free, and was only the most overgrown and gaudy slave in the Empire; so much do Princes gain by being above Law! They who will be content with no terms of reigning, but such as make all men fear them, will find reasons to fear all men. Tiberius did so, and the many sacrifices which he made to his fear, far from lessening, did but encrease it, as such sacrifices did but multiply enemies and terrors.

First he dreaded Agrippa Posthumus, and murdered him; but the murder ensured not his repose, even from that quarter; for a slave of that Prince personated his master, and alarmed Tiberius more than Agrippa had done. He dreaded Germanicus, and when that excellent person was dead (by no fair means, it was supposed) he dreaded Agrippina his wife, and her little children; and when by all manner of treachery and cruelty he had oppressed them, he was seized with new dread from Sejanus, the greatest and justest of all; nor ceased his dread after the execution of Sejanus; insomuch, that he commanded a general Massacre of all his Family, Friends, and Adherents. Next, his fears still continuing, he doomed to the most barbarous death his own grandsons by Germanicus; for their being already under miserable imprisonment and exile, did not suffice. And when the Family of Germanicus was destroyed; he had remaining fears from the Friends and Dependants of that House; these were the next objects of his Vengeance, which he executed fiercely. Nor small was the Terror which he entertained of his own Mother; and when she was gone, he let loose his rage upon the Favourites and Adherents of his Mother.

Now after all these precautions, so many and so bloody, did his suspicions abate? No; they were rather whetted and inflamedm. Of the great Lords of the Senate he was under perpetual apprehensions, and making daily victims; their wealth and race, nay, their poverty, names, and qualities frightened him; he feared friends and enemies. Those who advised him in council, those who diverted him at his leisure hours; his Confidents, Counsellors, and Bottle-companions, were all Martyrs to his Jealousy and Fury. He was so afraid of considerable men, or giving them employments which made them so, that some who were appointed Governors of Provinces, were never permitted to go thither, and great Provinces, for a course of years, left destitute of their Governors; and though he dreaded stirs and innovations above all thingsn; yet he suffered the loss and devastation of Provinces, the insults and invasion of enemies, rather than trust any one with the power of avenging the State, and repulsing the public foe. Thus he left Armenia to be seized by the Parthians, Mœsia by the Dacians and other barbarians, and both the Gauls to be ravaged by the Germanso, says Suetonius.

Sect. VIII. A representation of the Torments and Horrors under which Tiberius lived.

WHAT joy, what tranquillity did Tiberius reap from his great and unaccountable Sovereignty? Did it exempt him from disquiet, or could all his efforts, all the terrors of his Power, prevent or remove his own? Did his numerous Armies protect him from the assaults of fear and apprehension? Did he sleep the sounder for his Prætorian Bands? Did the Rocks of Capreæ, hardly accessible to men, keep off those horrors of mind which haunted him at Rome, and on the Continent? Or rather, with all the eclat of Empire, with all his Policy and all his Guards, was he not the most miserable Being in his Dominions? Doubtless he was; other particulars, the most obnoxious and threatened, had but some things and some persons to fear; Tiberius dreaded all men and every thing. Was his Power unlimited? so was his Misery; the more he made others suffer, the faster he multiplied his own torments. He himself confessed, that all the anger of the Deities could not doom him to more terrible anguish than that under which he felt himself perishing daily.

Imagine this great Prince, this Sovereign of Rome, in hourly fear of secret Assassins; daily dreading and expecting the news of Armies revolted, a new Emperor created, and himself deposed: imagine him fixed upon a high rock, and watching there from day to day, with a careful eye and an anxious and boding heart, for signals from the Continent, whether he must stay or fly: imagine him every moment ready to commit himself to the waves and tempests, and to escape whither he could for life and shelter: imagine him, even after a Conspiracy suppressed, lurking for nine months together in one lodge, under such terrors as not to dare to venture an airing even in his beloved Capreæ, however walled with Rocks and defended with Guards. In short, he feared every thing but to do evil, which yet was the sole cause of his fears. Such was his situation and life, and such the blessing of lawless might! “To Tiberius not his Imperial fortune, not his gloomy and inaccessible solitude could ensure repose, nor keep him from feeling nor even from avowing the rack in his breast and the avenging furies that pursued him.” His Death too, was, like his life and reign, tragical and bloody.

Sect. IX.   The terrible Operation of lawless Power upon the minds of Princes; and how it changes them.

TIBERIUS was an able man; he had talents for Affairs; he had eminent sufficiency in War; during the Commonwealth he would have well supported the Dignity of a Senator; he would have filled the first Offices of the State; he would have probably been zealous for public Liberty. He had even under Augustus, while he was yet a Subject, acquired a signal name and estimation. Nay it is likely he might have left behind him a high reputation and applause; for he had Art enough to have hid or suppressed the ill qualities which were naturally in him; so that he might have lived happy and admired, and died in renown. But being, unhappily for himself and his Country, invested with Power without controul, he let loose all his Passions, and he, who might have proved an excellent and useful Member of a free State, became a Prince altogether merciless and pernicious; a terrible Tyrant, void of natural affection for his own Blood and Family, void of all regard and tenderness for his People, and possessed with intense hate towards the Senate and Nobility. One of his discernment was not to be deceived by Flattery; he knew that, whatever submissions and even prostrations were made him, the Yoke of Sovereignty was grating and grievous to the Romans, and he sought revenge upon their persons for hating his Usurpation. This conduct made him more hated, and this hatred enraged him so, that at last, renouncing all shame, and throwing away his beloved Arts of Dissimulation, he commenced, as it were, an open Enemy to his People, surrendered himself over to every act of Cruelty, and to every abomination, even to Rapaciousness and Plunder, a vice to which for a long time he seemed to have no biass.

But what is not to be apprehended from Power without controul, and who is to be trusted with it, when a man of such strong parts and long experience as Tiberius, was so entirely mastered and perverted by it? It is a task too mighty for the soul of man, and fit for none but God, who cannot change, cannot act passionately, cannot be mistaken, and is omnipresent. There are few instances of men who have not been corrupted and intoxicated with it, and many, of whom the highest hopes were conceived, have degenerated notoriously under it. When men are once above fear of punishment, they soon grow to be above shame. Besides, the genius and abilities of men are limited, but their passions and vanity boundless; hence so few can be perfectly good, and so many are transcendently evil. They mistake good fortune for great merit, and are apt to rise in their own conceit as high at least as fortune can raise them. Galba was, in the opinion of all men, worthy of Empire, and that opinion would have ever continued, had he never been tried; and Vespasian was, till then, the only instance of an Emperor by power changed for the betterp.

Sect. X. The wretched Fears accompanying the Possession of arbitrary Power, exemplified in Caligula and other Roman Emperors.

NOR was this anguish and these fears peculiar to Tiberius, his Successors felt them eminently; as did every one who reigned as he reigned. Caligula was so haunted by inward horrors, and his imagination so terrified, that he became almost a stranger to sleep, and used to roam about the palace while others slept, afraid of the night, and invoking the return of day. Upon an alarm from Germany, he prepared to run away from Rome; and was always provided with exquisite poison against an exigency. Claudius scarce lived a moment of his Reign free from affrights and suspicions; nor was there any accident so trivial, or any Man, Woman, or Slave, or Child so contemptible, as not to dismay him and set him upon sanguinary precautions and punishments; he was several times almost frighted out of his Sovereignty, and willing to creep away into safety and solitude. Even before the Senate, which upon the sight of a dagger, he had summoned in great haste and earnestness, the poor unmanly wretch burst into tears and howling, bewailed his perillous condition, that in no place or circumstance could he be out of the way of danger. His whole life was governed by fears, and his fears by his wives and freedmen; hence his excessive cruelty, according to the measure of his own timidity, or of their ambition, vindictiveness, and rapacity. The Horrors of Nero’s guilt never forsook him; they were sometimes so violent, that every joint about him trembled; he dreaded his Mother’s Ghost as much as he had her living Spirit, and made doleful complaints, that the Furies pursued him with Stripes, and Rage, and burning Torches: and that he was alarmed with horrid shrieks and groans from his Mother’s Tomb. What else did Heliogabalus apprehend but a violent death, when he went always provided with a silken halter and a golden poignard, as expedients to escape death by the hand of an enemy? For the like purpose Caracalla made himself a copious provision of poisons. This barbarous Parricide was wont to complain that the Ghost of his Father, and that of his Brother by him murdered, terrified and pursued him with drawn swords. So sorely did the bloody Horrors of their Crimes and Infamy, haunt these men of Blood, and became their Executioners! What availed their Power and Armies against the alarms of their Conscience? Could all their Titles and Might, all the Guards at their gate, scare away reflection, or rescue them from the agonies and goreings of their own breasts?

Sect. XI.   What it is that constitutes the Security and Glory of a Prince; and how a Prince and People become estranged from each other.

WHAT then is it that a Prince may rely on for the security of his Person, and the quiet of his Soul? Hear the opinion of a great and a good Prince, Marcus Antoninus, delivered to his Friends and Counsellors just before he expired: “Verily it is neither the influence of Revenue and Treasures, nor the multitude of Guards, that can uphold a Prince, or assure him of obedience, unless with the duty of obedience, the zeal and affections of his People do concur. Surely, only long and secure is the Reign of such a one as by actions of benignity stamps upon the hearts of his People the impressions of love; not those of fear by acts of cruelty.” He adds, “that a Prince has nothing to fear from his People, as long as their obedience flows from Inclination, and is not constained by Servitude; and that Subjects will never refuse obedience, when they are not treated with contumely and violenceq.

A man who means no ill would not seek the Power to do it, and he who seeks that Power, or has it, will be eternally suspected to mean no good. Now the only way to obviate such suspicion, is, to act by known rules of Law; he who rules by consent is obnoxious to no blame. Such restraint may probably at some times keep a just Prince from doing good, but it certainly withholds a bad one from doing much greater mischief. An arbitrary Prince who can do what he will, is for ever liable to be suspected of willing all that he can; hence his people mistrust him; hence his indignation for their mistrust, and hence the root of eternal jealousy and uneasiness between him and them.

The People likewise expect complaisance from the Prince, expect to have their sentiments and humours considered; while the Prince probably thinks that they have no right to form any judgment of public matters, or to make any demands upon him; but, on the contrary, requires of them blind reverence and obedience to his Authority; and acquiescence in his superior Conduct and Skill; that all his doings should pass for just; himself for a person altogether sacred and unaccountable; and his words for Laws. If their behaviour towards him do not happen to square exactly with these his sovereign notions and high conceit of himself, he will be apt to think, or some officious flatterer will be ready to persuade himr, “his Royal Authority is set at nought, the People are revolted; and what remains but that they take Arms?” To punish therefore their Disobedience, he proceeds to violence, and exercises real severity for imaginary guilt. Mischief is prolific; violence in him begets resentment in them; the People murmur and exclaim; the Prince is thence provoked, and studies vengeance; when one act of vengeance is resented and exposed, as it ever will be, more will follow. Thus things go on. Affection is not only lost, but irrecoverable on either side; hatred is begun on both; and Prince and People consider themselves no longer as Magistrate and Subjects, but one another as Enemies. Hence perhaps Caligula’s inhuman wish, that he could murder all his People at a blow. The sequel of all this is easy to be guessed; he is continually destroying them; they are continually wishing him destroyed.

Sect. XII.   How nearly it behoves a Prince to be beloved and esteemed by his Subjects. The terrible Consequences of their mutual Mistrust and Hatred.

HOW much does it import Princes to preserve the good opinion of their People! when it is once lost, it is scarce ever to be recalled. When once they come to believe ill of their Prince, there is nothing so ill that they will not believe; as in the instance of Tiberius, of whom things the most improbable and horrid were believed. It is hardly possible for any merit, the most genuine and exalted, to preserve popular favour for a long time; accidents and disasters will be falling in, to sour the spirits of the populace; or some fresh merit, more new or more glaring, may appear, and lessen or intercept their admiration of the other; or the same person may not always have the same opportunities to oblige them; so that the best care and conduct can only serve to retain it to a certain degree; and this by good conduct is certainly and always to be done. But when the reputation of the Prince with his Subjects is entirely gone, something worse than the bare want of it will ensue. Between a Prince’s forfeiting the public Affection and his incurring the public Hatred, there is scarce any medium, and even that medium is a terrible one, since to be scorned is not much better than to be hated, and often infers it.

Would a Prince live in security, ease and credit? let him live and rule by a standard certain and fixed, that of Laws, nor grasp at more than is given him. Many by seeking too much have lost all, and forfeited their Crown through the wantonness and folly of loading it with false and invidious ornaments. While nothing would serve them but lawless Power, even their legitimate Authority grew odious, and was rent from them. They set their People the example of assuming what was none of theirs, to do acts of violence in defense of violated Laws, to judge for themselves, and to sanctify by the title of Right whatever they could accomplish by force. Rather than live upon bad terms, people will be apt to make their own terms, and think no fealty is due where no saith is kept. Who would not rejoice more in a free gift than in plunder? for such is the difference between Power conferred and Power usurped. What new Prerogative acquired to the Crown, or what new Revenue can make amends for the Hearts of the People estranged and embittered? This is such a loss, as no acquisition, no pomp of Power whatsoever, can atone for. We have seen under what gloom, asfright, and despair the Cæsars lived and swayed, though their sway was without check and bounds. Machiavel says, that when a Prince has once incurred the public hate, there is no person nor thing which he ought not to dread.

He who does no ill, fears none; but such as are continually creating terrors and calamities to others, have abundant reason to be under continual apprehensions themselves. How much more desirable, how much more just, and easy, and safe is the condition of a Prince, who lives and rules by Laws over a free People by their own consent? both People and Laws are his guard, and what secures them, secures him. They seel that he loves them; and he is conscious that they ought to love him. This is Government, and the effects of it; not the triumph of boundless arrogance or folly; not the insults of one over all, nor consequently his distrust of them, nor their slavish dread of him; but the equal administration of eternal Righteousness, and stated Laws; an endearing intercourse of fatherly care and protection, and of filial gratitude and duty. How amiable must it be, how refreshing to a generous Spirit, to oblige and solace a whole People, to have a whole People adore and bless him! What master of Slaves, even the highest and most unbounded master, can boast so much of himself and his slaves? The Grandeur of such a Prince is all false and tinsel, painted and hollow; he is never secure, because he is not innocent; he is not innocent, because he is an Oppressor.

To rule by mere Will, is to rule by Violence, and violence is War. He who puts himself in a state of Hostility with his Subjects, invites Hostility from them, as did the late King James, who having no Confidence in the Laws, which he had violated, nor in his People, whom he had oppressed, put himself in a posture of War against his Subjects; so that when they too had recourse to arms, they did but stand in their own defence. They had no quarrel to that King James, who had taken an Oath to rule by Law; but when that King assumed another person, and, in spite of Oaths and Laws, would oppress and spoil, they who owed this man of violence no Allegiance, opposed Might to Might, since he would abide by no Law. It was not their Prince therefore that they resisted, but their Enemy and Spoiler: he in truth, had no more Right to what the Law gave him not, than the great Turk had; they therefore opposed not an English Monarch, but an Invader and a Tyrant. Nor do I know of any People who threw off their Monarchy wantonly; and if they did it through Oppression, the Oppressor might blame himselfs. Had he conquered his Subjects, what would he have gained, but the detestable Glory of a triumphant Oppressor; of seeing a rich Country reduced by servitude to poverty, and of bearing the curses of a free People oppressed? Whoever has beheld the condition of a great neighbouring Kingdom, naturally the finest in Europe, has seen in the condition of the Inhabitants, poor, pale, nasty, and naked, what genuine Glory their Princes have reaped, by reducing all the Laws of their Country into one short one, that of Royal Will and Pleasure.

Sect. XIII.   Public Happiness only then certain, when the Laws are certain and inviolable.

IT is allowed that amongst the Roman Emperors, there were some excellent ones. But was not all this chance? They might have proved like the rest, who were incredibly mischievous and vile. They had nothing but their own Inclinations to restrain them; and is human Society to depend for security and happiness upon uncertain Inclinations and Will? They were good by conformity to the Laws, as Laws are the only defense against such as are bad. The bad ones had almost sunk the Empire to a chaos, before there appeared one Prince of tolerable capacity and virtue to retrieve it. Insomuch that Vespasian declared it to be absolutely necessary to raise a fund of above three hundred millions of money (of our money) purely to save the State from absolute ruin, and dissolutiont. After Domitian there succeeded five good Reigns, during which Law and Righteousness prevailed, and the Emperors took nothing, neither power nor money, but what Laws long established gave them, and professed to derive every thing from the Law, and to occupy nothing in their own Name. But as the Emperor might still be a Tyrant if he would, that wild Prince Commodus resumed the old measures of violence, and, becoming a second Caligula, dissipated and overturned, in a few years, all the treasure, wise provisions and establishments, contrived and gathered by his Predecessors during the best part of a Century.

To conclude, if Princes would never encroach, Subjects would hardly ever rebel; and if the sormer knew that they would be resisted, they would not encroach. Every Subject knows that if he resist against Law, he will die by Law. It is certain mischief to both Prince and People, to assert slavish Doctrines, and no security to either; since nature oppressed will depart from passive principle. But to assert the reasonableness of vindicating violated Laws, is no more than asserting that Laws ought not to be violated, as they ever will be where there is no penalty annexed. The least attempt upon public Liberty is therefore alarming; if it is suffered once, it will be apt to be repeated often; a few repetitions create a habit; habit claims prescription and right. Such also is the nature of man, that when public Affairs are once disconcerted, it is hard, sometimes impossible, to restore them to their first firmness; numbers become engaged in the corruption, and will be trying all their Arts and Power to support it. Where it grows extensive and general, the public Authority will probably espouse and defend it; and even where that authority is against it, the torrent may be so strong as to bear down Authority itself. How many great and good men have fallen themselves while they strove to restore the State? attempts to reform the Soldiery, to reform the Clergy, to reform the Civil Administration, have often drawn down a tragical doom upon the authors of them. It is much easier to prevent than to cure.

 


 

DISCOURSE VI.

Of the old Law of Treason by the Emperors perverted and extended.

Sect. I. The antient Purpose of that Law; the Politics of Augustus in stretching it.

I Proceed now to shew by what Arts and Supports the Tyranny was preserved and exerted; how the old Laws, especially that of Treason, were perverted, and to explain the instrumenta regni. “This Law, says Tacitus, in the days of our Ancestors, had indeed the same Name, but implied different arraignments and crimes, namely those against the State; as when an army was betrayed abroad, when seditions were raised at home; in short, when the public was faithlesly administered, and the Majesty of the Roman People was debased. These were Actions; and Actions were punished, but Words were free. Augustus was the first who brought Libels under the penalties of this wrested Lawa.”

In that sense of this Law (and doubtless it is the true sense) the Emperors were the criminals; they who had enslaved Senate and People, usurped and destroyed the State. But they had got the Power of interpreting Laws, or of directing those who did, and consequently were become the Law-makers. As Laws observed had defended Liberty; Laws wrested secured the Usurpers. Hence the old Law of Treason was degraded and perverted to involve in its penalties the Authors of Lampoons and Pasquinades. This Law of Majesty was so much and so long prostituted and abused; so much bloodshed and oppression was committed by the succeeding Emperors under its name, that at last every sentence and punishment, however just, which was pronounced by virtue of it, was thought unlawful and cruel; so that out of detestation to this abused Law, many other good Laws perished.

Doubtless Reputation is a tender thing, and ought no more to be violated than property or life; and they who attack and blacken it, are as vile Offenders as they who rob and steal. But there was no better pretence for making it treasonable, than for construing any other offence against particulars, to be an offence against the public. In truth, Augustus could have no other view in this, than the suppressing of that Freedom of Speech which was an effect of the freedom of the antient Government, and inconsistent with his Usurpation. When words were made Treason, it was time to be wary of one’s expressions; especially when the construction of them was merely arbitrary, and the Law that made them so, was utterly silent about them, there remained no sort of rule to know when they were otherwise; nor had he who was to be judge any rule but his own suspicion, anger and partiality. For every word, for every action, men were involved in process for Treason, provided there appeared but an informer to charge him, and call it so.

It is to no purpose to say that Augustus sometimes overlooked or pardoned invectives against himself. It was all grimace and false generosity; since, after this Law was so terribly inverted, there was little likelihood that men would run such capital risques. If contumelies upon private persons were high Treason, what must it be to meddle with the Prince or his Administration? He took care of himself without seeming to do so; he found his own sanctuary in providing one for others; and regulations made for his own defence and gratification, had an appearance of a spirit altogether public and disinterested. But it was a downright insult upon the sense of mankind, to convert a petulant imagination and a few wanton words, into a crime against the State. He who exposed the gallantries of a Lady of Quality, or the faults and foibles of a Patrician, was, forsooth, deemed to bear hostile purposes against the Commonwealth: for this is the construction of Treason by the Lawyers. Yet Augustus himself had made obscene Libels, particularly upon Fulvia the wife of Anthony. This multiplying of Treasons from Words and Writings, had a melancholy aspect; for, besides that Treasons multiplied are the bulwarks and engines of Tyranny; looks at last became treasonable, as did natural sympathy and sorrow, nay, sighs and silence.

Augustus was cunning enough to know the advantages of Treasons multiplied to his own domination, and wrested adultery also into a crime of State. His daughter and her daughter were prostitutes, and all their gallants, according to this merciful Monarch, were Traytors, and because these sort of Traytors were very numerous, as well as considerable for quality and credit, he had here a good pretence to get rid of many considerable Romans, who gave him uneasiness and jealousy. With death or banishment therefore he punished their gallants. For to a crime common between men and women, he gave the grievous name of Treason and Sacrilege, and trod upon the moderation of Antiquity. Nor was this sort of Treason limited to the Reigning House and the blood of the Cæsars; it was universal, and every Adulterer was a Traytor; by which he made himself the greatest Traytor in Rome, as he was the most universal Adulterer; nor were his own severe Laws any check upon him, no more than the sacred ties of friendship; for he spared not the wife of his own Favourite, and faithful Counsellor Mæcenas. This was not extreme prudence in so great a Politician, to be daily violating institutions of his own making, especially when by the rigour of the penalties, and the formidable name which he had given to the crime, he had shewn how important and unpardonable he thought it; unless, like the Princes of Italy in Machiavel’s time, he broke penal Laws, to encourage others to do so, on purpose to ensnare delinquents, and gain confiscations.

Sect. II.   The Deification of the Emperors, what an engine of Tyranny, and snare to the Roman People.

THE Deification of Augustus and his usurping even in his life-time the Attributes and Prerogatives of a Deity, was another snare for Power and Crimes. Henceforth every offence offered to this new Deity was high Treason against the Gods; for he was a God as well as the best of them, and indeed more to be dreaded than all of them. It became a high crime to swear falsly by his name, the same as if the name of Jupiter had been falsified; nay, to sell his Statue in the sale of a house or gardens; and the citizens of Cyzicus, notwithstanding their faithful adherence and strenuous services to the Romans in the Mithridatic War, were bereft of their freedom for neglecting the worship of the deified Augustus. The name of Apidius Merula was razed from the list of Senators, because he had not sworn upon the Acts of the deified Augustus. One of the articles charged against C. Silanus, Proconsul of Asia, was, that he violated the Deity of Augustus. Varilia, in the opinion of Tiberius, deserved to be condemned, if she had uttered aught irreligiously concerning the deified Augustus; for this was Treason and Blasphemy. Such was the awe and reverence paid to this fresh Deity; and such care had he taken to tie up the tongues of men from censuring him living or dead; he was instar omnium deorum; you might say what you would of other Gods, but beware of injuring a deified Emperor. He had done more mischief, committed higher oppressions, spilt more human blood than all the men in the world, and was made a Deity!

Nor was it out of any principle of Superstition, that Tiberius guarded the fame and Godhead of Augustus with such severe sanctions; for he little mattered the Gods and godly Rites, being himself a Fatalist, and only infatuated with notions of Astrology. Neither was it from any regard to Augustus (who was suspected to have been poisoned to make way for him) and whose Blood and Posterity he was daily destroying; a proceeding inconsistent with the adorations and sacrifices which he affected to offer him, as Agrippina truly told him. But he did it to promote Superstition in others, and rivet the public Slavery; since in religious devotion paid to a Prince, civil submission was included and enforced. It in truth imported him nearly to have all the Laws and doings of Augustus pass for sacred, and to set an example himself that he thought them so. Augustus had left him (as he pretended) his Successor, and it behoved him that Augustus should pass for a Prince of consummate wisdom; for had he erred in other great counsels and events, he might have erred in that; besides, Augustus was a popular Prince, and it would have been unpopular to have neglected him, or rescinded his deeds.

Nero too acquired the Sovereignty by the murder of Claudius, and, to keep it, murdered his Children and Kindred; yet he at first treated his memory with high regard, vindicated the Reign, and even extolled the parts and prudence of this deified fool; for Claudius too was listed amongst the Gods; he who had been the most stupid, cowardly, and bloody Idiot that could possibly wear and disgrace a Diadem. This strange animal or human monster, just begun by nature, but never finished, as his mother used to say, was utterly unfit for any Office in the Empire or private life, yet came to be an Emperor and a God. So that to bear sovereign rule, or to be exalted to a God, no qualification at all was necessary. His grandmother Livia contemned him even to loathing; she could not bear to speak to him. His nephew Caligula, when he had butchered many of his kindred, saved Claudius purely to keep him for a laughing-stock. He was held in the same scorn by his sister Livilla, by Augustus and all his family. He was the jest of the Courtb. The kindest word Augustus gave him was that of misellus, wretching.

Sect. III.   The Images of the Emperors, how sacred they became, and how pernicious.

AS flattery begot servitude, so it was by servitude propagated, and whatever tended to sink and debase the spirit of the people, as sycophancy did, exalted the Tyrants; nay, their Images and Statues became sacred and revered; and any villain or profligate might offer what outrage he pleased to every worthy man, every slave insult his Lord, every criminal escape justice, by sheltering himself under the Emperor’s Statue, or by carrying his Effigies about him. Nor could so considerable a man as a Senator of Rome, even in the face of the Tribunal, and in the very portal of the Senate, escape the insults and menaces of a profligate woman, who thus defended herself with the Image of Tiberius, though he had legally convicted her of forgery; so far was he from daring to bring her to judgment. So that in this impious reverence to a silent Stone, all Law, and punishment, and protection was swallowed up. This gives probability to what Philostratus tells us in the life of Apollonius Tyaneus, that a master was condemned, as one sacrilegious and accursed, for having chastized a slave, who happened to have about him a small coin impressed with the Effigies of Tiberius. So vastly had servitude grown upon the Romans so early as the Reign of Tiberius, and in the best part of his Reign, even while he yet kept tolerable measures with Law and Liberty, and warily avoided all excesses of power and cruelty. Yet in his second year, Granius Marcellus being arranged of high Treason, it was one of the Articles, that the Statue of Marcellus stood higher than that of the Cæsars, and from that of Augustus the head had been taken off, and the head of Tiberius put on. At the recital of this Tiberius waxed into such a flame and fury, that, departing from his wonted caution and silence, he cried aloud, he would vote in this cause himself under the tie of an oath. He was excellently answered by Cneius Piso, who asked him; “In what place, Cæsar, will you chuse to vote? if first, I shall have your example to follow; if last, I fear, through ignorance, I may happen to differ from you.” Hence the reflection of Tacitus, that there even then remained some faint traces of expiring Libertyc.

It is not strange, however hideous, to find afterwards these Statues, these dead representatives of the dead, invested with such extravagant and inviolable sanctity, that it was death without redemption for a master to chastize his slave near the picture or image of Augustus; death, to change one’s garments there; death, to carry a coin or a ring with his Image into the Privy or into the Stews; death, to drop a word that seemed to censure any action or any saying of his; and death was the portion of that unhappy man, who suffered some public honour to be decreed him by his Colony, on the Anniversary of the same day, when Augustus had once public honours decreed to him.

The execrable Caligula, who was a professed foe to the human race, a monster gorged with blood, and dyed in it, assumed Godhead as well as the rest, and claimed all the apparatus of Divinity, a Temple and Altars, Worship and choice Sacrifices. It is incredible what dreadful punishments he inflicted upon many even of principal fashion, for no other crime, than that they had never invoked his celestial Genius by an Oath. This was capital, it was Majesty violated; and for it the offenders, after they had been first torn and mangled with stripes, were doomed to the mines, or to the drudgery of mending the public roads, or to be thrown to wild beasts; and some were sawed asunder. A bloody Deity! Had he been omnipotent, the race of men must have been extinct. All his own murders, all the efforts of his malice and rage, were not able to accomplish it, and he wished to derive the Glory of his Reign from some signal Calamities happening in it; as if the monster himself had not been curse and calamity enough! He envied Augustus the happiness of an Army massacred, and Tiberius the sad disaster at Fidenæ, where fifty thousand souls were maimed, or perished outright by the fall of the Amphitheatre there. Hence he longed passionately for the blessing of some public Calamities great and dreadful, the Slaughter of great Armies, Famine, Pestilence, Conflagrations and Earthquakes. The acclamations of the crowd in the Theatre differing from his, he uttered a Godlike wish, “That the whole Roman People had but one common neck; for then one execution would have dispatched them all.” To complete the Character of this benevolent Deity, he boasted, that of all his great Qualities, none delighted him so much as his defiance of all shamed.

These celestial Titles and Worship divine, were sometimes bestowed upon the wives of the Emperors, their sisters, harlots, and infants. Caligula was wont to swear by the Divinity of Drusilla his sister and concubine. Claudius had divine Honours decreed to Livia his grandmother. Nero’s daughter by Poppæa was deified; Worship, Priest, and Chapel were assigned her; and it was one of the crimes imputed to Thrasea Pætus, that he did not believe Poppæa herself to be a Divinity. Nay, it would seem as if Nero’s Voice had been created a Divinity, since I think, it was Treason never to have sacrificed to it; a crime imputed to the same Thrasea. Domitian likewise adjudged himself a God, and proved much such another as Caligula.

Sect. IV.   What a destructive Calamity the Law of Majesty grew, and how fast Treasons multiplied under its Name.

I Have said so much of this humour of deifying Princes living or dead, not so much to expose it, as to shew the wicked effects it had upon Liberty and the State. It opened a new Source of flattery, and accusations, and punishments, and strengthened the hand of Tyranny; of this I have given sufficient instances, and many more might be given, all manifestly proving with what impudence and cruelty the Law of Majesty was stretched and embittered. In this Law all Laws were swallowed up, and therefore all crimes brought under the article of Treason, as Treason was the highest crimee, as in the case of C. Silius, whose chief offence was overmuch service done to Tiberius; thence that refined observation of Tacitus; “That benefits are only fo far acceptable, as it seems possible to discharge them; but when once they have exceeded all retaliation, hatred is returned for gratitude.” Under Tiberius, says Suetonius, every fault passed for Capital, even that of Words, however few and undesigning. When C. Silanus was arraigned for male-administration in Asia, Tacitus says, that besides all the other methods of artifice and violence, manifold and barbarous, used to destroy him; that none of his relations might dare to aid him and plead for him in his trial, articles of Treason were subjoined, a sure bar to all assistance, and a seal upon their lips. One of the great charges against Libo Drusus was, that he asked the fortune-tellers, whether he should not one day be immensely rich. This too was the sin of Majesty violated, and for it he was pursued to death and his estate seized. Note, that these were two men of high quality, akin to the Cæsars, and obnoxious to Tiberius. This seems to have been their real crime. Cesius Cordus was accused of Rapine in his Government of Crete; but to make sure of the criminal, he was likewise charged with the crime of violated Majesty; a charge, says Tacitus, which in those days proved the sum and bulwark of all accusations whatsoever.

It was Treason in Cremutius Cordus to have inserted in his History the praises of Brutus; Treason, to have stiled Cassius the last of the Romans, though in doing it he only quoted the words of Brutus; Treason in Titius Sabinus to have been a follower of Germanicus, and after his death, a faithful friend to his wife and children; Treason in Pompeia Macrina, Treason in her Father and Brother, the former an illustrious Roman Knight, the latter once Prætor, to have been descended from Theophanes of Mitylene, a noble Greek, in great confidence with Pompey the Great; Treason in L. Ennius a Roman Knight, to have turned the Effigies of the Emperor into money; Treason in Lutorius Priscus, another Roman Knight, to have composed during the illness of Drusus, a Poem for an Elegy, in case he died; Treason in Mamercus Scaurus, an illustrious Orator nobly born, that in a Tragedy by him composed, there were certain Verses capable of two meanings; Treason in Torquatus Silanus, a Nobleman of the first rank in Rome, to live splendidly, and entertain several principal servants; another Silanus his Nephew died soon after for the very same sort of Treason. In another Nobleman it was Treason, to have preserved the Image of Cassius amongst those of his Ancestors; Treason in the two brothers sirnamed Petræ, both illustrious Roman Knights, to have dreamed something about Claudius; Treason in Appius Silanus, that Messalina the Empress, and Narcissus the freedman, had forged a dream concerning him; and, to add no more, it was Treason, it was Majesty violated, for a poor distressed Lady to have bewailed the blood of her son, spilt to satiate an implacable Tyrant incensed by his gay raillery. This was Fusius Geminus lately Consul; and his ancient mother was murdered for bewailing the murder of her childf.

 


 

DISCOURSE VII.

Of the Accusations, and Accusers under the Emperors.

Sect. IV.   The pestilent Employment of these Men, their Treachery and Encouragement.

FROM Law thus perverted there arose encouragement more than enough for Informers and Accusers, and a plentiful harvest: a sort of men, says Tacitus, born for the destruction of mankind, and by no terrors or penalties ever sufficiently restrained; yet by the Emperor such sons of perdition were sought out and invited by great rewards. Tiberius had the front to tell the Senate, that these insects, enemies to Law and Liberty, were the Guardians and Defenders of the Laws. They were his Defenders, if he pleased; the Champions of Imperial Violence and Lust; but the Pests of the Public; dogs of Prey thirsting after the blood and fortunes of every worthy and every wealthy man. That Prince who does not punish Informers, encourages them, said Domitian; but this he said in the beginning of his Reign while he yet retained the appearances of benevolence and humanity; afterwards when the disguise was taken off, and he followed the bent of his brutal nature, it was enough to ruin, any man, if he were but charged to have done some deed, or spoke some word, no matter what, against the Majesty of the Prince. Men were then capitally arraigned, and the estates were seized of both the living and the dead, for any fault whatsoever, upon the credit of any Accuser whatsoever; and inheritances, to which he could have no possible title or pretence upon earth, were usurped by him, if there was but one Person, one Informer, who could say, that he heard the deceased declare Cæsar to be his heir. The same pretence served Caligula; nay, when people had out of fear named him amongst their heirs, he wondered at their impudence to keep him out of his share by living afterwards, and for that offence poisoned many such. In short the chief and most frequent incidents in the Reigns of almost all the Cæsars, were but the bloody efforts and success of the Accusers; and the groundwork and support of all accusations, was the perverted Law of violated Majesty, which came to signify every thing which the Accusers averred and the Emperors disliked.

In the beginning of Tiberius’s Reign, L. Piso, one of the boldest men then surviving, owned himself so much intimidated by the merciless pursuits of the Impleaders, who breathed nothing but terror and accusations, that he threatned in open Senate to relinquish Rome and retire into some distant corner of the earth. He had reason for his complaint and fears, he was afterwards marked out as a victim and prey by one of the tribe, and arraigned for certain words secretly dropped against the Majesty of the Prince. These accusations were no other or better than the cruel Proscription continued; by the latter, Senators and Knights, Patriots obnoxious to the Usurpers, were butchered in the lump; afterwards, under the process of the Accusers, they perished piece-meal, but were incessantly perishinga, often a great many at a time. Every Law of the old free State, and every man who loved his Country and her Laws, were repugnant to the reigning Tyranny; hence as the Republic was swallowed up in the Sovereignty of the Cæsars, all her laws were made to center in that of Majesty, and all men who adhered or were suspected to adhere to the ancient Constitution, were either destroyed by this new Law (rather an old Law turned into a new snare) or at the mercy of its Guardians and Accusers. And all this new violence was committed under old names and constitutionsb; so that the Commonwealth was made to cut her own throat; just as cruel and ambitious men justify Persecution and Oppression by the authority of the Gospel, which abhors it. The Church of Rome calls every thing that displeases her, Heresy and Blasphemy; this is the Lex Majestatis of some Churchmen, and by cruelties committed under that name they have more than vied with the Nero’s and Domitian’s. Thus, after a solemn murder committed by the Senate, to gratify Tiberius, he sent them a Letter of thanks, for punishing a person who was an enemy to the Commonwealth; as if the Republic had been then subsisting and vindicating her own wrongs.

The Accusers were the agents and tools of Tyranny, and by the Tyrants upheld and animated with open countenance and high rewards; their business was to hunt down and destroy every man signal for blood, or wealth, or dignity, or virtue; because all such men were obnoxious to imperial Jealousy and Displeasure. Had a noble Roman sustained public Offices? he was a dangerous man; had another refused to bear them? he was equally dangerous; and for public Offices either exercised or declined, he was sure to be attacked as a criminal of State; and if he were conspicuous for any notable ability or virtue, his doom was inevitablec. Valerius Asiaticus perished because he had delightful Gardens, which tempted the avidity of Messalina; as did Statilius Taurus, for the same reason, by the avarice and subornation of Agrippina; so did Sextus Marius for his immense Wealth and gold Mines, under Tiberius. This gives one an idea of the terrible spirit of the Emperors as well as of the Accusers; how much the former feared and hated, and how fast they destroyed every thing that was noble, good, or amiable amongst men; and what a pestilent employment was that of an Accuser! Was it any wonder that to carry on so detestable a trade, they were to be tempted with lucrative earnings? In truth, their recompences were so public and ample, that they were detested not more for their Iniquities than for the Wages of their Iniquities.

These Pests of Rome were, for being so, frequently raised to the highest Offices in the Roman State; and that Imperial City, the Mistress of the Earth, saw her public Dignities, those of the Pontificate, and of the Consulship, bestowed as spoils upon Parricides for spilling her best blood, and tearing her vitals. With the Prince their credit was high, as their merit was infamous; some were preferred to be Governors of the Provinces, others taken to be his chief Confidents and Counsellors in the Palace. And thus, vested with credit and sway, exerting all their terrors, and pursuing their hate, they controuled and confounded all thingsd. After the tragical Death of Libo Drusus, procured by execrable Artifices, Falshoods, Horrors and wrested Laws, all the substance of that noble Patrician was divided amongst his Accusers; and such of them as were Senators were created Prætors, even without the regular method of election. The four Senators who ensnared Titius Sabinus, by trapanning, lurkking, feigned friendship, and by a series of treachery the most infamous and cruel that could be practised amongst men, and afterwards accused him, engaged in all this meritorious villainy purely to gain the Consulship, to which there was no possible access but through Sejanus, nor without villainy was the favour of Sejanus to be sought or purchased.

But besides rewarding of the Accusers out of the fortune of the Accused, (for where they had not all, they still went shares with his children) they had frequently excessive sums out of the public Treasury; Capito Cossutianus had near a hundred and thirty thousand Crowns, for accusing Thrasea Petus; Eprius Marcellus had as much, for the same good service; for Nero, after he had long wallowed in the blood of eminent men, and butchered them without number, was in hopes by the murder of Thrasea and Soranus, to extirpate Virtue, name and essence, from the face of the earth. Ostorius Sabinus, the Accuser of Soranus, had indeed a less reward in money, that of thirty thousand Crowns; but the reward was enhanced by the ornaments of the Quæstorship presented with it. “These Incendiaries were animated, and such crying calamities to the public were excited by the Minions of the Court, who, as it were, sounded the Trumpet to Arraignments and Confiscations; on purpose, that out of the fortunes of the condemned they might raise or increase their own;” says Am. Marcellinus. Aquilius Regulus, an upstart and a mischievous Accuser under Nero, was distinguished with two Consulships, and the dignity of Pontiff; and had premiums in money to the value of more than two hundred thousand Crowns; as if he had been burying the Commonwealth, and for this merit had afterwards gathered her spoils, says Tacitus.

Sect. II.   The traiterous Methods taken to circumvent and convict Innocence. The spirit of accusing how common, the dread of it how universal; and the misery of the Times.

AS upon these bloody occasions, it was necessary to find or feign some crime; so any crime served the turn, as I have largely shewn; witnesses also must be had; but any witnesses were good witnesses; and where they did not offer themselves, they were bought with money, or frightened with the torture. Slaves were suborned against the life of their Lords; clients and freedmen against their Patrons; and he who had no enemy, was betrayed and undone by his friendse. Now, because, by the old Roman laws, slaves could not be witnesses against their masters, the crafty Tiberius found a trick to evade that law without seeming to violate it; he contrived to have the slaves upon such occasion sold; and then they might be evidence against their late Lord. This perfidious subtilty was begun by Augustus, as is largely shewn by Dion Cassius. Nay, when a man had no other to accuse him, he was accused by his own son. Dreadful times! even, all rewards and incitements apart, fear for themselves made men treacherous to others; falshood and cruelty reigned uncontrouled. If you would please the Prince, you must gratify his bloody spirit; to do that, you must offer victims and exercise the trade of accusing; if you were ill with him, no man, no innocence could protect you; and to be well with him, you must make all other men detest you. To make your own fortune you must ruin that of others, and shed blood to get money.

To this vile employment men of the highest Quality descended, and those of the first note for Eloquence and Civil Accomplishments; such was Cotta Messalinus, a man nobly born, but the foremost in every sanguinary motion; such was Publius Dolabella, who sprung from Ancestors the most illustrious, yet debased his Nobility, and engaged in the occupation of an Accuser, even against those of his own blood. When men of such Quality set such example, what wonder if numbers followed it? Many pursued it for money; others because they would not become obnoxious by appearing slack. The question was not about right or wrong, Law or Magistracy; but how to please and humour, to satiate the Emperor, and to escape his suspicion and fury. It was the plea of the Accusers afterward, when they were brought to answer for their crimes, that they were obliged by the Emperors, or their wives, to undertake and prosecute accusations: this Suilius pleaded, and urged the imperious orders of Messalina. Nay, men of figure were sometimes called upon by the Emperor in person to undertake Accusations. This, says Tacitus, was one of the most baneful and deadly evils of those times, that the first Lords of the Senate degraded themselves to the office of the vilest Informers; some impudently in the face of the sun; others in the dark ways of treachery; no distinction of kindred from strangers, of friends from such as were unknown; none between things lately transacted, and such as were covered by a course of years in oblivion; for words spoken in the Forum, spoken at an entertainment, and about what subject soever spoken, the speaker was accused; every one hastening to be foremost in the accusation, and to prevent his fellows; some for their own safety, many, as it were, struck with the contagion, and smitten with the disease of accusing.

This universal treachery begot apprehension in all men equally universal. When villainy was thus rewarded, or thus necessary, and thus every-where practised by high and low, every man was fearful of finding every man a villain. Hence the mournful anguish and terror which seized the City; people were afraid to converse, nay, afraid to meet; they distrusted all alike, their acquaintance as well as the unknown; even things mute and inanimate were dreaded; and roofs and walls created terror and circumspection; nay, they were apprehensive that guilt might be found in these their apprehensions, and thence came to dread this very thing, that they had shewn dreadf.

Sect. III.   Plots feigned or true, an ample field for Accusations and Cruelty; and upon what miserable Evidence Executions were decreed.

BUT the best market for Accusations, and the best opportunity for the Emperor to exert Tyranny, and consume men, was the detection of any Conspiracy forged or real. How prodigious and merciless was the slaughter committed by Constantius after the death of Magnentius, and by his bloody instrument Paulus, sirnamed Catena from his dexterity in calumny and accusations! Thus too, upon the detection of the designs of Sejanus against Tiberius, who at one time, for a course of years, had destroyed every man that was obnoxious to this execrable Favourite of his, and afterwards destroyed every man who had been well with his Favourite; thus when those of Piso against Nero came to be discovered, the whole business of the State was that of accusing, imprisoning and executing. Rome was dyed, deformed, and filled with blood, and death, and funerals; and as many as were hated, or disliked, or worth destroying upon any account, were sure to have been Conspirators, and to be doomed to the pains annexed to Conspiracy. Tiberius caused a general slaughter to be made of all that were in prison, under accusation of intelligence with Sejanus. Any thing upon earth, the lightest, the most fortuitous and foolish thing, served for proof of such intelligence. Pomponius Secundus was arraigned of Treason, for that there were some signs (but not shewn by him neither) of friendship between him and Aetius Gallus, who was a friend to Sejanus, who was a Traytor. Gallus, upon the execution of Sejanus, had retired into the Gardens of Pomponius: this was all; yet this was the doughty argument used by his Accuser, for proving this worthy and accomplished man a Traytor, one who had violated Majesty. Yet his Accuser Considius was a man considerable enough to have been Prætor: it was thus, I suppose, he shewed how well he deserved Imperial Favour, and one of the highest Dignities in the State.

The Emperor Constantius was as cruel and as credulous: with him it was death to be accused, and every Accusation, however doubtful, or false, or even whispered, was convincing proof of guilt; nay, the least rumour, however groundless, the smallest hint, however spiteful, created Treason and death without redemption; and by no better proof men of the first quality and merit were doomed to confiscation, or banishment, or execution. The bare saying that such a one was in the Conspiracy, or a friend to the Conspirators, was conviction in abundance for taking away Estates and Lives. Nero, whose chief and only purpose was to afflict and destroy, created guilt wheresoever he found distaste. His own hatred or fear was crime enough, and reason sufficient to destroy the object. Some were sacrificed without being once accused, or named; some punished ere they knew they were accused; and the least defamation was full conviction. Nothing was more common than to charge any great man, doomed beforehand to destruction, with designs against the State. This was the charge upon Libo Drusus. All the guilt that could be proved upon him, though to prove it, and indeed to create it, the most villainous arts were used, was, that he had consulted the Fortune-tellers, and dealt in Charms. This was conspiring against the State, it was Treason; and because the Romans were much addicted to such sort of Superstition, this became a very convenient Treason, and very fertile; yet Tiberius himself was, as much as any, addicted to Astrology. In the accusations particularly against great Ladies, who for blood, or wealth, or beauty, merited Imperial Wrath, it was a constant article, that they had dealt with the Chaldeans, or practised the rites of Magic: and for this many great Ladies were doomed to deathg.

Sect. IV. What ridiculous Causes produced capital Guilt. The spirit of the Emperor Constantius; with somewhat of his Father Constantine.

THIS humour of consulting the Astrologers, still encreasing with Superstition and Tyranny, administered an inexhaustible fund of crimes and accusations: the noise of a Mouse in a wall, or the sight of a Weasel, became matters of omen and consultation, and consequently matters of Treason and Blood: so did the use of an old Woman’s Charm for aches: so did the counting the Vowels upon one’s Fingers, as a remedy against the Colic: so did the wearing of an Amulet for an Ague: so did the casual dropping of any Word or Joke, that bore any analogy to the Empire, or the Emperor’s name, or to any matter of State and Power: so did the frequenting of Sepulchres, and carrying away the bones or habiliments of the dead: so did any Dream dreamt about any such subject, or construed to be so dreamed.

Under Constantius there was one Mercurius, a Persian, who was a favourite of the Emperor, and a spy for Dreams; insomuch that he had the title of Somniorum comes. This blessed instrument, a fellow of a malicious spirit, and fawning behaviour, used to creep into all companies and banquets, to fish out Dreams from particulars; and whatever he there learned of this kind, after he had, with all his invention, dressed it up in ugly and formidable colours, he carried instantly to the Emperor, whose ears were ever open wide to such mischievous infusions; and this Dreaming, thus represented, was a crime to be expiated only by the blood of the Criminal, I should say, Dreamer, and so a terrible process was formed. This terror spread so much, that people, far from telling their Dreams, durst scarce own that they slept: nay, it was lamented by some, that they had not been born upon Mount Atlas, where, according to tradition, people never dream.

To complain too of the badness of the times, was high Treason; for this was arraigning the Government, and punished capitally. But Death itself, however unjust, was not always the most formidable woe. The accused were often not allowed the benefit of Death, till they were first barbarously racked and mangled by torture; and to gratify the inhuman Vengeance of the Prince, their Agonies were continued as long as life could continue under themh. This is testified by Ammianus Marcellinus of Constantius the second Christian Emperor, more cruel than Nero and Caligula; a consideration which confirms what I have said before, that where the Government is bad, even the best Religion can do little good. Constantius was a Christian, and even zealous in Church Matters, and Religious Disputes, and by fostering them did miserably afflict Christianity and the Empire. But he was so far from being improved or bettered by this zeal, that the most cruel Tyrants that went before him, such monsters as Caligula, Domitian, and Commodus, were but babes to him in crueltyi.

I wish much better things could be boasted of his Father, the first Emperor who embraced Christianity, and stiled Constantine the great. All the Princes, even the persecuting Princes who went before him, hurt not Religion so much as he did; by blending it unnaturally with Politics and Power, by laying the foundations of a spiritual Tyranny, and enabling the Bishop of Rome, and other great Prelates, to exert the domineering spirit, which before they had but ill concealed; a spirit which has almost extinguished that of the Gospel. In his Civil Administration, he was rapacious, profuse, and oppressive; and in his Family barbarous and sanguinary; however his partial and flattering Historian, Eusebius, has extolled him, and concealed the iniquities of his Reign. But, in barbarity, and the excesses of Power, his son and Successor Constantius exceeded him. What just reason had Ammianus to say, that under the lying pretence of guarding Imperial Majesty, numerous and horrible were the butcheries then committedk!

Sect. V. The black and general carnage made under Constantius, by his bloody Minister Paulus Catena, for certain Acts of Superstition and Curiosity.

CONSTANTIUS surrendered at one time a great part of the Roman World to the merciless hands of Accusers, Torturers and Executioners; and certain causes, in themselves frivolous and contemptible, but magnified with the swelling imputation of Majesty violated, produced all the uproar and calamity attending a great Civil War. The trumpets sounded to try and slayl.

An Egyptian Deity, named Besa, was noted for uttering Oracles, and telling fortunes, and thence much frequented, adored and consulted by all the Countries round about. As many consulted him in person, others did it in writing: this occasioned, that several of the billets thus sent, continued in the Temple after the answer was returned. Some of these were maliciously transmitted to the Emperor, a Prince of a poor spirit, suspicious, and bitter. He now waxed fierce and wrathful, and instantly dispatched his execrable instrument, Paulus Catena, into the East, armed with Powers equal to those given to some famous Captain for carrying on a mighty war. Paulus was authorized to hear and determine discretionally, and proceeded to his charge, breathing nothing but rage, and bloody zeal. Universal accusation and calumny being thus licensed and encouraged, numbers of all degrees were dragged from far and near, as it were, out of the several quarters of the world, to this barbarous Tribunal, and exposed to the mercy of a butcher, who only pursued blood and prey. Some came with their joints excoriated with fetters, others crushed and spent in carts made for carrying criminals; no distinction made between the noble and vulgar. The process was long and tragical; in short, confiscations, exiles, tortures worse than death, death under tedious torments, and every evil painful or destructive to human nature, was there exerted and suffered. As for Paulus, the lives, and fortunes, and fate of multitudes depended upon his nod, a man skilled in the Arts of cruelty, aad openly professing them; a savage who made a market of the rack and the wheel; one, fed, as it were, with human carcasses mangled, and enriched by butchery and rapine; a fellow who avowed the trade of accusing and killing, and studied to ensnare and devour innocence, lives, and property. This was the man in high favour and trust under the pious Constantius. It will be a relief to the Reader to know that this monster, bloated with blood and crimes, was burnt alive under Julian, a Prince of very different parts and spirit.

Sect. VI.   The Ravages of the Accusers continued; their Credit with the Emperors; yet generally meet their Fate. The Falsehood of these Princes. The melancholy State of those Times.

THE Reigns of these following Princes, Constantius, Constans, Gallus, Valentinian, Valens, were spent in a continual war upon their people, under colour of their Majesties being violated.

Crying and tragical were the ravages committed at Rome by that bloody man Maximinus, where, under pretence of Majesty violated, poisonings, and acts of lewdness, some few real, more imputed, were used as a stale for killing, torturing, and destroying. Every man, or woman, that was obnoxious to him or the Accusers, was put to death; and to private malice or rapaciousness a sea of Roman blood was spilt. I think it was this Maximinus, who persuaded certain persons accused to confess and discover others, and in that case promised they should undergo no punishment either by sword or fire. They did so, trusting to his faith, and confessed crimes never committed; he then, for a salvo, doomed them to die under leaden hammers. He was executed himself under Gratian.

Against the defence of innocence accused, against the most evident truth and justice, and all honest information, the ears of the Emperor were eternally shut; but calumny whispered by any malighant, had equal weight with real crimes proved by authentic witnesses; says Ammianus. Falsehood and flattery, envy and rapaciousness passed for evidence; justice was converted into cruelty, and judgment into rage; the Tribunals erected for justice, and preservation of life and property, were become shambles, and what had the names of pains and penalties, was in truth robbery and assassination.

As there was never any lack of Accusers, there was none of Criminals; and the accused, the more they were destroyed, the faster they multiplied; like witches in former days, daily executed, and daily increasing. They were the food and revenue of the Accusers, who while they could speak and lie, could never want occupation or wages, as long as there were Tyrants and men. Marcellus was charged with having uttered disaffected words concerning Tiberius, and the Accuser collecting every thing which was detestable in the manners of that Prince, alledged the same as the imputations of the accused. A large field for accusations, and well cultivated by the Accusers! you could say nothing of these Emperors that was true, but what was Treason; such bloody monsters were they all! and the worst you could have said being actually true, you were easily believed to have actually said it. What a blessed lot it must have been to have lived in those Reigns, under monsters unchained, and rogues let loose; when virtue and property were proscribed, villains caressed and guarded!

The persons of Accusers came to be considered as sacred and inviolable; the more they were detested by the public, the more they were protected by the Emperor; and in proportion as they merited death and ignominy, had countenance and preferment. Their vilest forgeries, convicted and owned, against the lives and fortunes of the greatest men, drew down no doom or penalty upon them. The crimes charged upon Fonteius, late Proconsul of Asia, by Serenus, were proved to have been by him forged; yet he escaped punishment. Nay, the more the man was abhorred by all men, the more Tiberius considered and protected him. This Serenus was a villain of exalted merit; he had falsly accused his own father of Treason, an old man, and already in exile: but Tiberius owed him a spite, and the son studied to oblige Tiberius, who had been offended with the elder Serenus for once upbraiding him with some wicked service unrewarded; nor had an interval of eight years pacified the Prince. Yet it generally so happened, that their reign was but temporary; first or last most of them found the genuine wages of their fraud and iniquity, and suffered the same doom which they had made others suffer; a doom much more bitter, as it was just, accompanied also with universal hatred of their persons, and with a guilty and upbraiding conscience. This was the fate of Suilius, Cassius Severus, and others.

Now as it was the custom, to find high Treason in harmless words, impertment vanities, and even in ridiculous follies, deserving rather pity than punishment, such as were those charged upon Libo; so it was the purpose and policy of the Emperor never to prevent any guilt of this kind: on the contrary, he was glad of guilt, and when he knew it was begun, let it run on, till it was ripe, and evidence and Accusers were ready. Tiberius knew that Libo dealt with the Astrologers, with every thing done or said by him; yet at no time had he caressed Libo more, than at the time when he was meditating his destruction. He preferred him to the Prætorship; he entertained him at his table; shewed no strangeness in his countenance, no resentment in his words; so deeply had he smothered his vengeance! and when he might have restrained all the dangerous Speeches and Practices of Libo, he chose rather to permit them, in order to punish him for them. The crafty Tyrant did not only lull asleep his destined victim by these excessive civilities; but meant by them to deceive the world, as if Libo’s crimes were a surprize upon him, at a juncture when he would seem to have meant all kindness to Libo. But he was mistaken, and his dissimulation only served to heighten the opinion of his malice; for craft discovered is worse than folly, as folly never creates hatred. Cunning is only then complete, when it cannot be detected, which seldom happens. Nero caressed and flattered Seneca, while he was devising all methods to destroy him. When he meant to murder his mother, never was there such a scene of false fondness as that which he played. He was formed by nature, says Tacitus, and by habit nurtured, to hide his hate under insidious blandishments. Domitian used to treat with the utmost good humour and tenderness such as he intended to murder; nor was there any warning or interval between his caressing you and delivering you to the Executioner; nor a more certain sign that a tragical doom awaited you, than the Prince’s gentle behaviour towards you. Well might Suetonius say, that his cruelty was not only excessive, but sly, and instantaneous.

Now under such a torrent of Accusations, under Laws perverted, Informers busy, employed, protected and rewarded, when all things were crimes, and all men were feared, nay, when fear itself was a crime, (for when Caligula murdered his brother, he gave it for a reason, that the youth was afraid of being murdered) when servants and neighbours, nay, acquaintance and kindred, were all justly to be suspected; we need not admire that all offices of friendship and compassion were suspended amongst men, and compassion itself, as it were, extinguished. When Libo Drusus, so often already mentioned, upon his arraignment for Treason, went in mourning from house to house to sollicit the interposition of his relations (as all the great families in Rome were so) and to pray their aid, when his life and all was at stake; they all declined it to a man, each alledging a reason of his own, but every one in reality from the same cause, namely, their fear of the Emperorm.

People must not only shew no sorrow or sympathy for their murdered relations, but they must testify joy, unless they had a mind to be murdered themselves; as under Nero, many, whose nearest relations had been murdered by him, repaired to the Temples with thanksgiving and offerings, and when the City was filled with corps, so was the Capitol with victims. In that mighty carnage made by Tiberius of the friends and followers of Sejanus at once; when the pavements were covered with single carcasses, or filled with carcasses in piles, those of every sex and age, many that were noble, many that were mean, all cast abroad promiscuously; neither their acquaintance nor kindred were allowed to approach them, or to bewail them, or even at last to behold them. About the coarses spies were placed, to watch countenances, and the signs of sorrow: and when, after they became putrified and noisome, and were thrown into the Tiber, whether they floated in the stream, or were cast upon the banks, none would touch them, none durst bury or burn them. The force of Fear had cut off all the commerce and offices of Humanity; and the more Tyranny raged, the more human compassion was extinguishedn. Even the outrageous Caligula had so well learned to hide his heart, that when by the cruelty of Tiberius, his mother and both his brothers were condemned and banished, not a word escaped him; nor a groan; though all arts were used to draw words and resentment from him. Octavia too, the wife of Nero, when her little innocent brother was murdered before her face, by the direction of the Tyrant her husband, had even then learned, young as she was, to smother all symptoms of tenderness and sorrow, and every affection of the soul; nay, Agrippina, with all her courage and high spirit, laboured to hide her surprize and dread, and every other emotion, upon that occasion.

Sect. VII.   The increase of Tyranny. Innocence and Guilt not measured by the Law, but by the Emperor’s Pleasure and Malice.

ONE would think that Tyranny had by this time gone as far as it could go, and that after this, human cruelty and terrors could be strained no higher. But this is a mistake, Flatterers and Accusers were ingenious villains, and Tyranny is a monster never glutted; it is still craving for new butchery and victims; its purveyors therefore are ever studying to humour and pamper ito. Who could have imagined any thing upon earth more intensely cruel than Tiberius? yet his Successors exceeded him and one another in cruelties, for number and quality; and Domitian committed such as had escaped even the preceding monsters. Hence Tacitus says; “As our fore-fathers had seen the ultimate point and last efforts of public Liberty; it was reserved to us of this generation to behold the utmost weight and severity of public Bondage; since by the terrors of State Inquisitors, we were even bereft of the common intercourse of Civil Life, that of discoursing ourselves, and of listening to the discourse of others:” he adds, “we should have also lost the use of memory, as well as the habit of speaking, had it been equally in our power to forget as to be silent.”

The trial of persons for Treason went on generally in the old form, but in effect, was all resolvable into the breast and good pleasure of the Prince. According to hints from him, persons were condemned or acquitted; sometimes by his interposing the Tribunitial Power, they were not admitted to be accused; sometimes Treason was found in one man’s words and actions, which in another were not allowed to be criminal. Thus men were sentenced, or absolved, or not accused, not according to their guilt or innocence, but to their degree of grace or dislike with the Emperor, who had the Prerogative to coin guilt and innocence, and invert one into the other, as he pleased. Thus Tiberius pursued Vestilius to death, his brother’s antient friend and his own, for suspicion of having lampooned his Nephew Caligula; but would not allow Cotta Messalinus to be a criminal for the same offence and for many more. But Cotta had merit, he was always foremost in every bloody Counsel; all his wickedness and crimes were so many services, and so much merit. In those days there was no sure guilt but that of worth and of virtue, and innocence; hence the security of all men egregiously mischievous. The known cruelty of the Prince, was no terror to those who took care to escape it, by the vileness of their lives; especially if they were active to feed his cruelty by noble sacrifices; like Haterius Agrippa, who meditated in the midst of his cups and harlots the destruction of illustrious men. The worst and vilest men in the Empire, became the securest, and often the highest, by destroying the best.

Sect. VIII. What Tacitus means by Instrumenta regni.

BESIDES the Accusers, who were the Imperial Bloodhounds, to hunt men down for words, conjectures, signs, and appearances, by ridiculous pleas, forced constructions, and wrested Laws; the Emperors had other pestilent tools called by Tacitus Instrumenta regni, the Instruments of Imperial Rule. These were the Poisoners and Assassins. When there was no room or pretence to accuse a person signal for worth or opulence, or on any account obnoxious, and thence fit to be destroyed; or when it was unsafe to accuse him; recourse was had to a dose or dagger. Such were P. Celer, and Ælius the Freedman, they who poisoned Julius Silanus, by the appointment of Agrippina: such was Anicetus, who murdered Nero’s Mother, by the direction of her son: such was Locusta, who administred the poison to Claudius, a woman famous for many feats in poisoning, and long retained for this talent, amongst the implements of Court; it was she who prepared this poison as well as that which destroyed young Britannicus: such was Xenophon, Physician to Claudius; one who helped to dispatch his master: such were they who by the procurement of Livia, made away the descendants of Augustus. After the assassination of Caligula, in his apartment was found a chest filled with all sorts of poisons, so rapid, that when they were thrown into the sea, they proved baneful to the fish; and numbers were by the tide cast dead upon the shore. Such also were the Tribunes and Centurions, and even the Captain of the Prætorian Guards; who whenever they were ordered to seize and kill, never failed to obey, without any reason but the word of command. Thus Posthumus Agrippa was dispatched by a Centurion under Tiberius: thus Gerelanus the Tribune, was, at the head of a band of soldiers, by Nero employed to see the execution of Vestinus the Consul, a man charged with no guilt; but Nero, who hated and feared him, having neither crime nor accuser against him, and being therefore unable to assume even the false guise of a Judge, betook himself to the violence of a Tyrant.

In truth, the whole body of Prætorian Guards were kept by these Tyrants as their Assassins, to murder for them, or to secure others who did. The Turk too has his Mutes and Poisoners in the Seraglio, as well as soldiers, to execute his fury secretly, or openly. Lewis the eleventh entertained other secret Ruffians to stab and drown, besides his trusty murderer the Provost Tristan. Queen Katherine and her son Charles the Ninth, kept an Assassin, to dispatch privately such men of rank as they could find no other means to destroy; and as dark as the proceedings in the Bastile are kept, it is known what helps have been administered to the miserable prisoners there, to get rid of life, besides that of nature. Under the Reign of Lewis the fourteenth the trade of poisoning was brought to great perfection; and was suspected, with too much appearance, to have been part of the Politics of some French Ministers, as well as the bane of others.

Sect. IX.   How much these Emperors hated, and how fast they destroyed all great and worthy Men. Their dread of every Man for any Reason.

THE destruction of every man who was great or good, was so common and almost certain in those tragical Reigns, that Tacitus reckons as a wonder the natural death of L. Piso, chief Pontiffp. Eminent men, and eminent merit, are the dread of Tyrants. That merit and those talents which, during the old Republic, would have certainly recommended a man to public Favour and public Honours, did afterwards expose him as certainly, to Imperial jealousy and persecution, generally to ruin and death; and those pestilent Accusers, Instruments of public Servitude, the sons of rapine and blood, who were now the men of fashion and favour, and cloathed with the spoils of their Country, for afflicting and mangling her, and devouring her vitals, would have been then treated as public Enemies and Beasts of prey, and doomed to the pains of Murder and Treason, with universal consent and abhorrence.

Such a barbarous and unnatural inversion of all Order, Law, and Righteousness, accompanied the Sovereignty of the Cæsars. Augustus, reckoned the best and wisest of them, though he affected to love and countenance men of parts and accomplishments, yet limited his favours to such of them as were devoted to Flattery and the Usurpation. Hence the public Honours conferred by him upon Ateius Capito, a new man, one of signal Abilities, but a notorious Flatterer; nay, the Emperor raised him in opposition to Antistius Labeo, one who excelled in the same acquirements; one who never departed from a laudable freedom of speech and spirit, and thence more applauded than the other, by the public voice: whereas, the suppleness and submission of Capito rendered him more acceptable to those who bore rule. The latter by this merit gained the dignity of Consul; the other, for having too much, was never suffered to rise higher than that of Prætor. How much must the spirit of Imperial Jealousy encrease afterwards?

Every thing gave these Tyrants fear and offence. Was a man nobly born and popular? He withdrew the affections of the People, rivalled the Prince, and threatened a Civil Warq. Was he akin to Augustus? He had his eye upon the Sovereigntyr. Had he a reputation for Arms? He was a living terror to the Princes. Was a great man afraid of popularity, and lived retired? He gained fame by shunning it, and still was an eyesoret; and his best fate was to leave his Countryu; but where the exile was a considerable man, the executioner generally followed. Was he virtuous, and his life and morals exact? He was another Brutus, and by the purity of his manners, upbraided the vitious behaviour of the Emperorw. Was a man sad? It was because the administration prosperedx. Did he indulge himself in gayety and feasting? It was because the Emperor was ill, and his end thought to be neary. Was he rich? He was too wealthy for a subject, and great wealth in private hands boded ill to Princesz. Was he poor? He was thence the more enterprizing and desperatea. Was he a dull man, and unactive; He only put on the guise of stupidity and sloth, till he found room for some bloody purposeb. Or had he a different character, and was a lively and active man? Then it was plain he did not so much as feign a desire of private life and recess, but avowed a bustling Republican Spirit, and to be meddling with the Statec. Did he live in pomp and magnificence? He studied to overshadow the Emperor in seats and grandeurd. Was he accomplished in science, a Philosopher, or master of Eloquence, and thence esteemed? The lustre of his Fame gave umbrage to the Princee.

In short, no man could possess any advantage or quality that rendered him acceptable to God or man, a blessing to his Country, to his friends, or to himself, but such quality and advantage was sure to awaken the jealousy and vengeance of these Tyrants, and procure his doomf.

Sect. X. Reflections upon the Spirit of a Tyrant. With what Wantonness the Roman Emperors shed the blood of the Roman People. The blindness of such as assisted the Usurpation of Cæsar and Augustus.

HOW miserable must be the reflections of a Tyrant, if he has any reflections, that numbers must be wretched (for what wretchedness is not produced by Tyranny?) that he may make a hideous figure, unsafe and detested? Every step he takes for his grandeur and security, renders him more contemptible or abhorred, and therefore more insecure; and the bloody end of most, abundantly shews, that numerous Guards and Armies are so far from secureing him, that from them his greatest dread accrues. What a curse it is upon a thinking Being, to consider himself as an obstacle to every thing lovely and desirable amongst men: to the Virtue, Liberty and Happiness of all men, to his own peace and stability, to his own innocence and true glory: that for every chain he puts upon his People, he multiplies terrors and contempt upon his own head; and having forfeited their affections, and living in distrust of those whom he ought chiefly to confide in, relies for his life upon hirelings, the sons of vice and idleness, or forced from their honest labour to be made so, and often picked out of streets and gaols? He dreads every man who is great and brave; and one who fights for him, conquers for him, and saves him, does but expose himself to jealousy, indignity and martyrdom. His own slaves, spiritless and cowardly, cannot serve him, and a man truly valiant is undone by serving him. The people are apt to admire and magnify military virtue, and thence the Tyrant hates and dreads such as have it. Charles the fifth held it a greater honour, to be Count of Catalonia, than King of the Romans: he had reason; the Catalans were free men and valiant; the Romans poor monk-ridden slaves.

But I shall find another place in the course of these Observations to discourse more sully of Armies and Conquests: I shall here only observe with what wantonness these Tyrants shed the blood of Roman Citizens; Citizens whose lives were once so valuable, fenced and secured by Laws so numerous, so sacred, and strong; lives so precious that nothing against the life and fortune of the meanest Roman could be determined, but by the Romans in general, assembled in Centuries. These Romans who, while free, became the masters of mankind, were, by losing their Liberty, become daily victims to their own domestic Traitors, and miserable Traitors they were; to a Claudius, a Caligula, a Nero. By the ancient Constitution and Laws of Rome, these Usurpers were the only persons liable to be put to death, without process, or form, or penalty. See the Lex Valeria in Livy, and Cicero Pro domo sua.

Had such as were Champions for the exaltation of Cæsar and Augustus, foreseen what their race and descendants were to suffer under the Successors of these Usurpers, would it not have quenched their zeal, would it not have struck them with horror? Had they foreseen their offspring stooping and groaning under a beastly bondage, not to the Emperor only, but to his slaves and strumpets; living a precarious life at the mercy of sycophants; under continual terrors of the Accusers, or themselves exercising the execrable occupation of such; some endangered by the lustre of their name; some by that of their virtue and capacity, others from that of their wealth; many become Pimps, Pathics, and Parasites to the Prince; several, upon his authority, prostituting their persons and quality upon the public Stage; numbers doomed to exile upon desolate rocks and islands; numbers slain outright, their carcases exposed and denied the privilege of burial, their fortunes seized from their families; and all of them liable to the like tragical fate; their wives withal daily exposed to the lust of the Tyrant, and afterwards made the subject of his Imperial Sport and Drollery, even before their injured and blushing husbands, nay, prostituted in the Palace as in the public Stews, and such as passed by invited in to lie with these illustrious Ladies, as with common harlots, for money.

Had the Partizans of Usurpation foreseen these woful consequences to their families from it, would it not have changed their hearts and their conduct? Yet what was easier to be foreseen than the fury and ravages of a madman or fool unlimited, where chance, and not law, directed the blind Succession; as did blind will, and not reason, the Administration? But with the heat of party and present impulse, cool reflection and foresight are incompatible: it scarce ever happens, that, for future considerations, however wise, the instant passion, however foolish, is smothered. The Adherents of Cæsar and Augustus had an immediate view of greatness, and would not disturb so pleasing an imagination by anxious care or fear for things future. All the world goes well with those that are well; and before men can be brought to believe prophecies of misery, they must begin to feel it. What a child is Man! what a name is Reason! The most frequent use we make of it, is to reason ourselves out of it, and from it to borrow arms against itself: just as we have seen Laws quoted to vindicate the subversion of Law, and the Holy Gospel of Peace and Love urged in defence of Persecution and Enmity.

Sect. XI.   Why under such Tyrants, the Senate continued to subsist.

IT may be inquired why Tyrants so jealous and precipitate, did not abolish the Senate; and it was once the purpose of Caligula, as it was afterwards that of Nero, to have murdered all the Senators: but in truth it would have been an enterprize of infinite difficulty and danger, to have attempted the suppression of that body. It is incredible what stubbornness and force there is in established Names, Customs and Forms, which often are harder to destroy than realities and substances; and signs and titles frequently remain, when the things signified and denominated by them are gone. Thus Popery has extirpated Christianity, and is called Christianity; and Evangelical Humility and Forbearance are preached and extolled in the midst of Pride and Flames.

As the Popes pretend to derive all power from the Gospel, which they pervert and suppress, so did the other Roman Tyrants theirs from the Senate; as if the ancient free State had still subsisted, and to have destroyed the Senate, would have been to have abrogated their own title to Sovereignty. They must likewise have destroyed the Consulship, which was still reckoned summum Imperium, the supreme Magistracy: with the Office of Prætor, and every Office, great and small, in the State, with the title and stile of every Law of Rome, and every Tribunal of Justice there: for, every Law and every Office depended upon the Senate, or upon the Senate and People. They must have abolished Learning, History, Records, all Process and Memory; nay, the very Military Titles, and Laws of War and Negotiation; those about the Colonies and Provinces, Customs and Trade; and have introduced absolute Oblivion, a new Language, and a new Creation.

Now what Power, what Genius upon earth, was equal to such a prodigious design, that of vacating at once regulations and usages so infinitely numerous, so long established, become a great part of the public Language, grown, as it were, to the minds and memories of men, and essential to Speech and Conversation, as well as to business and protection; and then to supply such an immense void, with Ordinances, Offices, Terms and manner of Process, so as to answer all the ends of Society in so vast an Empire? This was not to be done, nor was it needful: they found their account sufficiently in breaking the Power and Spirit of the Senate, in reducing it to a skeleton and a name, and in exercising under that name all their own violences and exorbitances. The Senate and the People had a venerable sound, and served as a cloak for power when they themselves had none, and the Emperor had allg. The registering of Edicts by the Parliament of Paris is become a matter of form; but without that form, the Court, as uncontrouled as it is, does not care to execute an Edict. The Romans still preserved a veneration for their Senate and Magistrates, and the same was often found in the Armies; insomuch that as late as the Reign of Commodus, the soldiers were so enraged at the insolence of Perennis, his Favourite and Minister, for discharging from their military commands such as were Patricians and Senators, and for placing in their room others of Equestrian Rank, that they cut him in pieces.

Time, however, with the continuance of Tyranny, and Barbarity its inseparable companion, cancelled by degrees the old names and forms, after the essence had been long cancelled; and introduced a cloud of offices and words, of rumbling sounds, and swelling titles, suitable to the genius of absolute Rule, and as different from the purity of the old Republican Language, as are Liberty and Politeness from grossness and bondage.

Sect. XII. How the unrelenting Cruelty of the Emperors hastened the Dissolution of the Empire. The bad Reigns of Constantine and Constantius. The good Reign of Julian. The indiscreet behaviour of the Christians. Continued Tyranny; and end of the Empire.

TO resume once more the subject of Accusations and the abused Law of Majesty; They were cankers in the heart of the Empire, which at last hastened its Dissolution. The Emperors, to gratify their own cruelty, were continually wasting the public Strength by sacrifices noble and many; and, to satiate their avarice or that of their creatures, encouraged endless seizures and confiscations. This crying Oppression was by the Emperor Constantine, before mentioned, carried higher than any of the Pagan Emperors had ever carried it. Besides his own rapine, which was merciless and excessive, he glutted his Favourites and Grandees with the spoil and fortunes of others; as Marcellinus witnessesh. His son Constantius followed his example, and was a more consuming Tyrant than the Father. I have already said something of his Character and Reign, which was chiefly conducted by inhuman villains, whose heads and hands were eternally engaged in the plunder and blood of his People. Such were his Counsellors, such his Governors of Provinces, which were sucked and devoured to the bone, and might say with truth, what a noble Dalmatian once told Tiberius; “Instead of sending us Shepherds to protect our flocks, you send us Wolves to devour them.” How many Governors in all Countries have deserved to be hanged, before they reached their Governments, because they went with design to rob and oppress?

These depredations were restrained during the Reign of Julian, who had as much capacity, as many virtues and accomplishments, as could well adorn private life, or a crown: he was brave, generous, wise, and humane; a Hero, a Philosopher, a Politician, a Friend and Father to mankind. It is pity such an amiable Character should have any blots; his had two; he was superstitious even to weakness, and had conceived an aversion to the Christians altogether unsuitable to his remarkable candor and equity; an aversion which they themselves improved too much, by a behaviour unworthy of so great a Prince, much more unworthy of so meek a Religion. They indeed treated him with eminent spite and outrage, traduced him, libelled him, and even mobbed him. Nothing could be a sharper Satire upon them, for such brutish conduct, than the singular meekness with which he bore it. The truth is, the Christians were then strangely degenerated from the primitive peaceableness and purity, become licentious and turbulent to the last degree, and perpetually instigated by the arrogance and ambition of the Bishops, who were come to contend with arms as well as curses, for the possession of opulent Churches. It was not uncommon with these ambitious men, to affront and revile the Emperors to their faces, to publish Invectives against them, to break the public Peace and to raise frequent Tumults and Seditions. As they were the most complaisant Courtiers when pleased; so they were the most implacable Incendiaries when disgusted. All this was enough to alarm any Prince, and to awaken resentment in the most flegmatic. Moreover a great part of the wealth and revenue, which used to go towards the public Charge, particularly to defend the Frontiers against the Barbarians, was diverted and appropriated to maintain the grandeur and pomp of the great Prelates; sacerdotes specie religionis fortunas omnes effundebant, as Tacitus says, upon another occasion.

As some parts of the behaviour of that great Prince, one wise and good in most things, but mistaken and even unjust in others, chiefly towards the Christians, ought to be censured and condemned; the behaviour of the Christians towards him can never be justified. They insulted him intolerably, with all the excesses of bitterness and ill-breeding, while he lived, and slandered and blackened him shamefully when dead; as much as some of them basely flattered and extolled other Emperors, who, though complaisant and liberal to the Ecclesiastics, were consuming Tyrants.

It is the business of Truth and of true Religion, to give even enemies their due, and friends no more than their due. To give Julian his; if we lay aside his Religion, I doubt whether we can find upon record one Prince that excelled him, or three that equalled him. He is indeed a pattern to princes, in spite of the anger and obloquy of Writers who were apparently animated by a spirit then too common, a spirit altogether narrow, monkish, and vindictive; such a one as the charitable Religion of Jesus disclaims, and wants not. To his benevolent Gospel and Precepts I sincerely wish all men to conform; but fewer signs of such conformity, or rather greater signs of the want of it, have I no where seen, than in the Conduct, Discourses, and Writiengs of such as have railed at others for their religious sentiments, real or imputed. I wish too that a temper so barbarous and Antichristian had been entirely confined to the Days of that Emperor, whose Administration will for ever recommend him to all calm and impartial men, as an astonishing example of virtue and parts.

The Reign of Jovian, whose intention seems to have been honest and good, was but short, and followed by those of Valentinian and Valens; Princes exceeding furious, suspicious and sanguinary. Under them the old Accusations, Confiscations and Carnage were revived without mercy, and continued thenceforward, with few intervals, till the Roman Empire was quite overthrown. The people in every part of it being quite harrassed and consumed, finding no relaxation from Oppressors and Accusations, no protection from Law, no refuge in the Clemency of the Emperors, grew desperate, and revolted to the Goths, Huns, Vandals, and other Invaders.

Sect. XIII.   The Excellency of a limited Monarchy, especially of our own.

I Think it is Machiavel who observes, that two or three weak and bad Princes succeeding each other, are sufficient to ruin a State, where they govern by mere Will; but it may survive a long succession of foolish Princes limited by good Laws. Vespasian found three hundred millions (of our money) wanting to restore the Empire to a condition of subsisting. Monarchy, according to Plato, is the best Government, or the worst: to which opinion I subscribe; as I do to that of Philip De Comines, that England is the place in the world, where the Public is most equally administered, and where the people suffer the least violence. We are blessed with that form of Government which Tacitus mentions as the most perfect, and thinks the hardest to be framed; that happy ballance and mixture of interests which comprehends every interesti.

An English Monarch has one advantage which sets him above any arbitrary Monarch upon earth; he obliges his subjects by being obliged to them. As he protects them by defending their Property and Laws; so they, by supporting him, enable him to do it: while they give by choice, and not by force, they give chearfully. Princes who take all themselves, and leave nothing to their people to give, can never be beloved by their people. If it be true that we hate those whom we have hurt, it is equally true, that we are apt to love those whom we have obliged. Hence God is said, not only to love doing good, but to love the good that he does.

Arbitrary Princes would doubtless chuse to have the love and affections of their people, were the same to be acquired by furious and unaccountable Rule; but this is impossible. Hence dread of their power is all the share they can expect in the hearts of their subjects; and this is a compliment which their subjects pay to things the most hideous and vile; to Serpents; to mad and wild Beasts; to Plagues and Satan; to Pain and Poverty. But even this miserable compliment is not always paid to such princes: they are not always dreaded. When their terrors are become habitual, they cease, in a good measure, to be terrors; the people grow hardened and desperate; they themselves become scorned; and contempt, the most abject lot in life, becomes the portion of those who possess the highest. When Nero asked Subrius Flavius, one of the Conspirators against his life, from what motives he had renounced his Allegiance; “It was because I abhorred thee,” said he. The Consul Vestinius too was known to Nero, to despise his vile and unmanly spirit; and in the whole detection of that Conspiracy, and the punishment of the conspirators, nothing was so signal as the series of contempt poured upon that brutal Tyrant, in the heighth of his Power, and amidst the terrors of his Tyranny. Nothing, says Tacitus, mortified him so much. But when the Monster was deposed, he incurred such sovereign scorn, that he was doomed to be stripped naked, and scourged to death like a slave, with his head fastened in a pillory; his carcass to be cast afterwards from the Tarpeian Rock, and with a hook in his nose to be dragged to the Tiber.

Nor could the great reputation of Julius Cæsar, or that of Augustus, and all their Power, secure them from popular insults and despight. The mœchum calvum, and videsne ut cinædus orbem digito temperet; were contumelies which even their greatness could not escape. Mithridates King of Armenia, when despoiled of his Kingdom, experienced by the behaviour of his People, how much they reverenced him; they even assaulted him with reproaches and blowsk. When the Emperor Vitellius was led along to the slaughter, with his hands bound behind him, his habit all torn, and himself a filthy spectacle; he found much the like usage. Numbers wounded him with reproaches; but none was found to bewail him; and the populace railed at him when dead, with the same baseness of heart, with which they had flattered him livingl.

 


 

DISCOURSE VIII.

Of the general Debasement of Spirit and Adulation which accompany Power unlimited.

Sect. I.   The motives of Flattery considered. Its vileness, and whence it begins.

I SHALL now say something of the extreme Debasement of the Romans under the Emperors. Flattery ever rises in proportion to Power and Fear. Where Law and Liberty reign, and men hold not their Property and Lives at the mercy of one or a few; this security begets in them a pride and stubbornness inconsistent with Servility and Adulation. Men do not flatter such as they dare own to be no better than themselves, or such as have no power to hurt them; nor will they pay over-much reverence to great Titles which are not accompanied with great Power, nor supported by Superstition. For Superstition enslaves as effectually as real Power, and therefore confers it; nor is Tyranny ever so complete as when the chief Magistrate is chief Pontiff, as were the Soldans of Egypt and Bagdat; or, which is the next thing, can create and depose him, as do the Turkish Emperors. But where men hold their fortunes and lives at the mere mercy of another, they will fear him as much as they love themselves, and flatter him, as much as they fear hima. If his Power be limited, their Flattery will be limited; but boundless, if his Authority be so. Thus court and sycophancy prevail less under a mixed Monarchy, than under one that is despotic; in an Aristocracy less than there; and less still in a popular State. Perfect equality quite destroys it; complete Sovereignty raises it to the highest.

The more foolish and wicked a Prince is, the more Incense he will have; it is the surest way of pleasing a Tyrant, as it sanctifies his Iniquities, and represents him to himself as worthy of all his Grandeur and equal to all the highest Offices of Empire. Tiberius, who was a Prince of great penetration, hated Flattery, because he knew it to be so; as he knew that they who paid him most, the Senate and Grandees, dreaded, and therefore hated his Power; as he, who understood perfectly the nature and blessing of Liberty, would have dreaded and hated any man in his place, had he been in theirs. He knew that Flattery and Hate often go together; so that they who possess the greatest Hate, profess the greatest Affection. It is as much as their lives are worth, to manifest any tokens of Aversion; and the stronger it is, it will require the more Art and Assiduity to hide it. Julius Cæsar was loaded with all sorts and every excess of Honours, some that were divine, with design to make him odious, while they who conferred them abhorred him, and were concerting schemes to destroy him. With the same view the like artifices were practised by the Senate towards his Successor Octavius, afterwards Augustus, concerning whom the equivocal saying of Cicero, could not but be remembered by Tiberiusb, “they should extol the Youth, and take him off.” Hence though Tiberius was irreconcileable to public Liberty, he abominated Flatteryc. He saw that Flattery was the mere effect of Bondage, and suiting only with the spirit of Slaves; and though he would not part with the Sovereignty (notwithstanding he often talked of it, as well as pretended great backwardness to accept it) yet he was ashamed of the vile and slavish abjectness of the Romansd.

But neither under Tiberius was there any security in abstaining from Flattery; he was a Prince infinitely jealous, and could brook no sort of opposition, nor even independence; and it was both necessary and dangerous to flatter him; but, in my opinion, not so dangerous as necessary: I mean, to such as purely consulted their own safety, and to escape the rage of the Tyrant. It is true, he despised Flatterers; but he hurt them not; and it was natural for him to think (suspicious as he was) that such as would not flatter him, scorned him. It is certain he never forgave free speakers, never could endure men of bold spirit, but, first or last, pursued them to destruction. It was perillous, says Tacitus, to practise no Flattery, and perillous to practise too muche. L. Piso had inveighed against the corruptions of the State, particularly against the pestilent pursuits of the Impleaders, who were daily arraigning, and circumventing, and menacing all men; he even threatened to quit Rome. Tiberius bore this calmly, nay, he descended to mollify him with kind words. But in a soul like his, brooding over Vengeance, though he had suppressed the sallies of Wrath, the deep impressions remained; Piso was a good while afterwards charged with Treason, and, but for a natural death, which opportunely intervened, must have suffered the pains of Treason. Asinius Gallus incurred his rage for a motion in Senate which had really a compliment in it. Tiberius had in a Letter to the Fathers complained, that from the plots and snares of his enemies, he led a life full of dread and apprehensions. Gallus proposed to address the Prince, that he would explain his fears to the Senate, and permit them to remove the causes; this incensed him. Gallus too had piqued him before, and was suspected by him of aspiring views; and though he had notoriously flattered him, he could not by it redeem his life.

As all Corruptions in a State begin commonly from the Grandees (or rather they are beginners of all Corruption) so the Grandees are the most signal Flatterers; they are most in the eye of a Prince, they are the most obnoxious to his jealousy, and thence the most prone to flatter himf. A Prince who governs or would govern by mere Will, must countenance and employ such as ask no reasons for what he does; but commend all he does; and the more they have to get or lose, the lower they must stoop, the more they must praiseg. For this vile servitude of theirs they make reprisals upon the people, and are as terrible to those below them, as fawning to those above them; for the most prostitute Slaves, are the most insolent Tyrants, and it is from the same baseness of spirit that men oppress and flatter; it was truly said of Caligula, “that there never lived a more complaisant Slave, nor a more cruel and detestable Master.” Thus Flattery is propagated, and infects all degrees of men. The Prince awes the Grandees, and by the Grandees is flattered; the Grandees oppress and terrify the people; and thence the people dread and adore the Grandees. The Bashaws are slaves to the great Turk; the people slaves to the Bashaws.

The insolence of slavish spirits is by Tacitus exemplified in Vitellius, among many other instances. He was always the foremost in Flattery; ever assaulting every worthy Patriot with reproaches, and ever struck silent when repulsed; agreeably to the genius of Sycophants, to be both insulting and cowardly. This man, however, prospered by Prostitution. He had great employments under Tiberius, he was a great Favourite in the two succeeding Reigns, he was thrice Consul and once Censor. Nor did the man want good talents and qualifications; in the Government of Provinces, says Tacitus, he exercised the integrity of a primitive Roman. But his dread of Caligula, and complaisance to Claudius, changed him into a filthy Slave, and he is handed down to posterity as a pattern of the most infamous Flattery: The just reward of his servile submission. His first and best actions were forgot; his last and worst remembered; and the excellencies of his younger years obliterated by an old age drenched in servitude and iniquity. Besides his adoring Claudius as a God, he carried one of Messalina’s sandals in his bosom continually, frequently kissed it; and amongst his houshold Gods placed golden Statues of Pallas and Narcissus, the Emperor’s freed slaves. This man was, I think, farther to Vitellius afterwards Emperor. Such men such Princes delight in; regibus boni quam mali suspectiores sunt, semperque his aliena virtus formidolosa est: says Sallust.

Sect. II.   Men of elevated Minds irreconcileable to Arbitrary Power, and thence suspected by it. The Court paid to it always insincere, sometimes expedient, but seldom observes any bounds.

AGRIPPA told Augustus, according to Dion Cassius, that it was impossible for a man of great spirit and resolution, to be other than a lover of Liberty, and an enemy in his heart to an absolute master. Agrippa himself was that sort of man; he had courage enough to advise that Prince to resign the Sovereignty, and restore public Liberty; such in truth was his credit and bravery, that Augustus thought himself no otherwise safe, than either by killing him, or taking him for his son-in-law. The Emperor did more than give him his daughter; he assumed him partner in the Tribunitial Power, which, as that Usurper and his Successors managed it, was, in effect, the Dictatorial Power. The other great men of Rome he suspected and hated; though in vanity and for the praise of Posterity, he left them his heirs in the third degreeh; Augustus and Tiberius judged too well, to imagine that the illustrious Senators and Chiefs of Rome, men who had scorned the alliance and affinity of Kings, nay, treated Kings as their creatures and dependents, could like a blind dependence upon one of their own Citizens, who by usurpation and violence had made himself an enemy to all. Even in the Reign of Tiberius there were Romans who thought themselves as good as him; Cneius Piso, for example, scarce gave place to him, and despised his sons, as men far beneath himself. But his haughty spirit cost him his life; for though Tiberius used him as a proper instrument to thwart and overthrow Germanicus, he afterwards turned that very service to the destruction of Piso.

Affection can never accompany a submission which is forced, nor men submit willingly to a Power which they think they have themselves a right to exercise. Hence the compliments and praises of these eminent Romans towards the Emperors, are generally by Tacitus derived from Flattery; though sometimes necessary, and sometimes well intended; necessary, when used for their own preservation; and well intended, when employed to instil into the Prince virtuous lessons of Government. Marcus Terentius was perhaps justifiable, when in defence of his life, which was at stake, he made that high-flown compliment to Tiberius; “To thee the Gods have granted the supreme disposal of things, and to us have left the glory of obedience.” The Senators also did well in magnifying some popular Acts of Nero, that his youthful mind being thus incited by the Glory arising from light things, might court it in things which were greater. And Thrasea Petus was justifiable, when in his speech about Antistius the Prætor, arraigned for Treason for lampooning the Emperor, he extolled that Prince’s mercy, in order to make him merciful.

But as that which is only good in some certain degrees and exigences, seldom stops there; so this same Flattery, no wise blameable under some circumstances, grew scandalous and excessive; it kept pace with all the phrenzy and cruelties of these outrageous and inhuman Tyrants; and by it their cruelties and phrenzy were encouraged. The more mischievous and vile they were, the more they were adored. Dread of their fury had seized the souls of men; nor was any remedy sought against their fury but that of Flattery. Men of slavish minds always began the detestable rout; their example drew others after them; the lovers of liberty found it impossible to resist the many, and unsafe to distinguish themselves by opposition. Interest swayed some, example others, fear all, and at last it became a common strife who should be foremost in the race to Servitude. All public spirit, all regard to the glory and good of Rome, the inseparable characteristic of the old free Romans, was now lost and forgot; it was converted into fear and anxiety of every man for himself. This will ever be the case when a Prince, armed with sufficient Powers, sets up his own interest against that of the State; particulars having no longer any thing to do with the public, will study only to secure themselves.

Sect. III.   The excessive Power of the Imperial freed Slaves; with the scandalous Submission and Honours paid them by the Romans.

AS Tyranny produces abject fear and anxiety in particulars for themselves, so from this selfish fear and anxiety come the beginning and progress of universal Servitude, the extinction of all Patriotism and honest zeal, the power of corruption, and the symptoms of a State hastening to ruin and desolation. All the good or evil which could befal any Roman, lay wholly in the breast and option of the Prince; and hence the study of every man to humour the Prince, or the Slaves who governed him; for governed he generally was by slaves the vilest and most pestilent; yes, the whole Empire, that Empire that contained a great share of the Globe, and terrified almost the whole, was swayed, sold, oppressed, and exhausted by slaves bought from the chain and the oar. Claudius not only declared that affairs adjudged by his Receivers should be held equally valid with those adjudged by himself, but got the same established by a solemn Decree of Senate. Now these Receivers of the Emperors were his manumized Slaves, who under that title often governed Provinces; he raised the authority of these vermin to a pitch equal with that of the Sovereign and the Laws. Felix Governor of Judea was a freed slave, the husband of three Queens, and the brother of Pallas another freed slave, who controlled the Emperor, lay with the Empress, and was master of the Empire; so that Nero said pertinently of him, when he turned him out of office, “that Pallas went to abdicate the Sovereignty.”

Behold the debasement of the great and venerable Roman Senate! It is not enough that they flatter the Emperor, and heap upon him Powers and Honours so great and manifold, that at last they have none for themselves, hardly any for him; they must likewise adore, and enrich, and exalt the fugitives and off-scourings of the earth, insects naturally doomed to the vilest offices of the kitchen, stable, and privies. The Romans, Lords of the World, must put their necks under the feet of the dregs of human race. For a contemptible project of that same Pallas, about punishing Ladies who married slaves, Bareas Soranus Consul elect, the first Magistrate in the Roman world, moved the Senate to reward him with the ornaments of Prætor, the next Civil Office in the State, and a present of near an hundred thousand pounds. To this motion it was added by Cornelius Scipio, that Pallas should have public thanks, that he who was descended from the old Kings of Arcadia, should to the service of the public thus postpone that his ancient Nobility, and deign to be reckoned amongst the Emperor’s Ministers. But Claudius averred, that Pallas would rest content with the honours of the Prætorship, and, rejecting the present, chuse to live in his usual poverty. The Decree passed, was engraved in brass, and publicly hung up; a pompous Decree, in which a fellow, lately a baresooted slave, now worth near eight millions, was magnified for observing the laudable self-denial and parcimony of the primitive ages. Observe the strange inversion of all order and sense! dignity debased; infamy exalted; how low the awful authority of the Senate descended! how vilely the function of a Consul prostituted! how ignominiously the glorious name of Scipio employed! how abominably the ornaments of Magistracy defiled! an ordinance of State, big with servitude and lies! what stupidity in the Emperor, what insolence in the slave, and what a melancholy failure of all Virtue, Truth, and Liberty amongst all degrees of men! It was, in truth, a compliment made to a slave by a body of slaves, as Pliny well observes. We may guess at the villainy and evil deeds of the man by the enormous Honours that were paid him, though we had no other rule or proof, as we have proofs enough. No such violent court was ever paid to Seneca; and Tigellinus had much more weight and authority than Burrus.

Real goodness and merit beget in all good men real friendship and affection; and real affection is never so loud nor shewy as affection assumed. Where we sincerely like and esteem, we are not afraid of suspicion in the person esteemed, nor spend much breath and ceremony to convince him. But where we are conscious of our own insincerity, our professions are pompous and wordy. It was absolutely impossible that these vile Upstarts should love the Senate, or any great men, great in blood, or fortune, or virtue; or the Senate or any great Roman could love such vile Upstarts; but we see what disguises fear and falshood can put on! Impartial posterity, which neither fears the Senate nor Pallas, can perceive nothing in the Honours by them conferred upon him, but the infamy of both perpetuated. Nor was Claudius the only Emperor who was thus led in bondage by his franchised bondmen; others submitted to the same vassalage, to the same infamous Counsellors; Plerique principes (says Pliny) libertorum erant servi; borum consiliis, borum nutu regebantur. Was not the world finely governed, and humankind completely happy; when the universal Lord was swayed by the lust and nod of creatures just redeemed from the infamy of whips and fetters? The mighty Cæsar, to whom the Romans owed all their ensuing misery and bondage, began the exaltation of such sons of earth; and, in contempt of censure, declared, that, “if he had employed Highwaymen and Assassins to support his grandeur, he would in return have honoured them with the same favour.” A true confession, but methinks not very politic; we have seen already whether his worthy Successors did not actually do so, and what were the Instrumenta regni, the bloody tools and machinery of absolute Rule. Polycletus, a manumized slave of Nero’s, when sent by his master to inspect the State of Britain, travelled with such an immense train, that he was a burden to great nations, even those of Italy and Gaul.

Sect. IV.   The excessive Flattery of the Senate, how ill judged.

THERE was no mean in the Flattery of the Senate. They might have been good Courtiers, without being so abandoned Courtiers. There are instances of their carrying questions against the spirit of the Court and the efforts of Favourites, in the worst Reigns. Thus, in spight of all the power and caballing of Agrippina, they expelled Tarquitius Priscus, a creature of hers, from the Senate, in detestation of his base attack upon the life of Statilius Taurus, in subserviency to the Empress, who yearned after the Wealth and fine Gardens of that illustrious Senator. Thus too in the case of Antistius the Prætor, who had composed some virulent Verses against Nero, and exposed them at a great entertainment; though he was impleaded of Treason by Cossutianus Capito son-in-law to that powerful minion Tigellinus, and though Junius Marullus, the Consul elect, moved that he might be doomed to die after the rigorous manner of antiquity; the Senate followed the milder motion of Thrasea Petus for confiscation and exile. Nor would they depart from the sentence even after they had received Nero’s Letter about it, though in it he manifested high indignation.

They might have made some other efforts of this kind, where they made none; on the contrary, they gave away their Liberties and Voices faster than they could have been taken. But the honest boldness of Thrasea broke the bondage which hung upon the minds of others; so much can the example of one worthy man do even in an assembly devoted to corruption and servitude! It is true, Thrasea paid a severe after-reckoning, and it was the apprehension of that which stopped the mouths of others, or opened them only to fawn. But who would not chuse the reputation, and integrity of a Patriot, that of a Thrasea, even at the expence of his fate; rather than the fortune and favour of the sycophant Vitellius, with the abjectness of his life, and infamy of his name?

Sect. V.   The free Judgment of Posterity a powerful warning to Princes, to reign with moderation and to detest Flatterers. The Name and Memory of the Roman Tyrants how treated.

ALL men have some vanity, and thence some fondness for fame; if they would acquire it, and avoid infamy, they must square their actions to the judgment of Posterity. With Posterity, little evasions, false colourings, and chicane will not pass for reasons, though they may with our cotemporaries, who are often influenced by friendships, often engaged in parties, often warmed and misled by passion and partiality. Death and Time destroy all artifices, dissipate all mists, and unveil mysteries; the intentions of men with all their motives and pursuits are then scanned and laid open. The flights of Flattery, will not then be termed fondness for the Prince, nor the efforts of Ambition miscalled public zeal. Claudius and Pallas, Tiberius and Sejanus, Nero and Tigellinus; men so caressed, applauded and worshipped during their life and power, men who then employed all tongues in their praises, do now fill, and have long filled the mouths of all men with detestation, and their hearts with abhorrence. What avail now their craft and subornations, their power and high posts? Does the awe of purple, or the violence of the sword, do Prætorian Guards and perverted Laws, secure their memory, as they did their persons? Do I, for example, fear their charges of Treason, or the vile breath of their Informers, while I treat them as sanguinary Monsters, as the Tyrants, Pests and Oppressors of the earth, as public Curses, and Murderers in cold blood?

These Tyrants and their Flatterers, though they pushed both Tyranny and Flattery as far as they would go, have not been able, with all their Arts and Terrors, to stifle the memory of men, nor restrain the speech. They are handed down to us under their proper titles. The Emperor Nero we seldom say; but the Tyrant Nero is in every one’s mouth; and the idea of a sycophant ever accompanies the name of Vitellius. His great credit and offices are forgot, or remembered only to his infamy. What a check must History and the Censure of Posterity be to a Prince that has any reflection! Had Tiberius, Claudius, Caligula, and other Imperial Monsters considered what frightful lights they were like to be drawn in to future times, it would have spoiled their pleasure in tyrannizing, and made them hate their Flatterers, who persuaded them that all men, at least the best men, spoke of them as they themselves spoke. With regard to Fame and Posterity it had been better for these wretches that they had never been born, as well as happy for human-kind; yet no man was ever a greater drudge for Fame than Nero; Erat illi æternitatis perpetuæque famæ cupido, sed inconsulia, says Suetonius. Witness his laborious fatigues in the Theatre and Circus, continued day after day, and often nights and days, for the reputation of a good Singer, Harper, and Coachman. Caligula aspired to the like glory, and was a notable Fencer and assiduous Dancer, as well as a Charioteeri. Laudable Ambition for a Prince, and as just and high as that of many others!

Tiberius also wished and prayed for the praises and affectionate remembrance of posterityk. How well he succeeded, we all know. He is detested as one of the most dangerous, false, and deliberate Tyrants that ever afflicted men; nay, he was no sooner known to be dead, than the people broke forth into joy and execrations; some cried, “Into the Tiber with Tiberius: others besought mother earth and the infernal Gods to allot him no mansion but amongst the damned and accursed:” others threatened to drag his body with hooks to the charnel of malefactors. And when his corps was going to be removed from Misenum to Rome, every one cried aloud, that it should rather be carried to the town of Atella, to be in the Amphitheatre there thrown into a fire, till it were half burned. Such were the marks of remembrance he had, and deserved, from the people! The other two are treated as frantic butchers, or rather as two mad dogs delighted with carnage and worrying, bent and active to kill and destroy. What is it to us that they were Princes and Emperors? Men of sense find no magic in names, but regard Monsters as Monsters, whatever titles Fortune or Flatterers gave them, or they themselves took.

It is thus Tyrants suffer the vengeance of afterages; and terrible vengeance it is to such as are tender of their Renown, and seek Immortality, as most Princes do; and indeed have it forced upon them, since they stand too high, and do too much not to be remembered. Hence they ought to be more afraid of future censure, which is generally well grounded and will certainly last, than of temporary praise, which is often false, consequently fleeting, at best to be suspected.

Sect. VI.   How lamentably Princes are debauched and misled by Flatterers.

NOW if Tyrants are abhorred, how much abhorrence is due to Flatterers, who often change Princes into Tyrants, and make Tyrants worse than they would be? Tiberius assumed the Sovereignty with great diffidence; and his natural wariness would have probably made him mild against his nature, had not the Romans so readily offered him their necks and their persons to bondage. But when he found them devoted to Slavery, he used them like Slaves, and having nothing to fear from them, he only followed the vile bent of his own spiritl.

Domitian rejoiced when he found that Agricola had left him coheir with his wife and daughter; he vainly thought it done out of judgment and choice, and in pure regard to his person. So much was he corrupted and blinded by continual Flattery, as to be utterly ignorant, that no Prince, but a bad one, was ever by a father tender of his issue and family, assumed into heirship with them, as Pliny the younger well observes.

Nero was in terrible agonies after he had murdered his Mother; he dreaded the soldiery, the Senate, and the people; but when, instead of danger and resentment, he met with flattering speeches from the Officers, flattering Decrees from the Senate, popular Processions, Applauses, public Devotions paid to all the Deities, and universal acquiescence; his native insolence became more swelled; and, from this general Servitude, assuming the pride of victory, he ascended the Capitol, offered sacrifices, and thenceforth surrendered himself to the full sway of all his exorbitant lusts. When he had caused these two noble Romans, Plautus and Sylla, to be assassinated, he wrote to the Senate without mentioning the execution, only that they were two men of turbulent spirits, and what mighty care it cost him to secure the State. Instantly the obsequious fathers degraded from the Senate these dead Senators, and ordained public Prayers and Sacrifices. Nero, upon the receiving of this Decree, and finding that all his brutal iniquities and acts of blood passed for so many feats of renown, grew emboldened to do a thing which even Nero till then durst not do, and turned away the virtuous Octavia his wife, her by whom he held the Empirem. Nay, when soon after the Imperial butcher had ordered the blood of that illustrious Innocent to be shed, thanks and oblations were again presented to the Deities, by an ordinance of Senate. A particular, says Tacitus, which with this view I recount, that whoever reads the events of those times in this or any other History, may take it for granted, that as often as the Emperors commanded acts of cruelty, banishments and assassinations, so often thanks and sacrifices were decreed to the Gods; and those Solemnities which were of old the marks and consequences of public victories and public felicity, were now so many sad marks of public slaughter and desolationn.

This was remarkably verified afterwards as well as now; when Nero, upon the discovery of Piso’s conspiracy, had spilt rivers of blood, and slain men by heaps; the fuller the city was of executions and funerals, the fuller too were the Temples of sacrifices. One had lost a son, one a brother, or kinsman, or friend in this general butchery; and the greater their loss, the more gayety they shewed, adorned their houses with Laurel, frequented Temples with Thanksgiving, embraced the knees of the Tyrant, and worried his hand with kisses. Nero took all this for so many sincere tokens of affection and joy; when, in truth, their Congratulations and Flattery were just in proportion to their severe sorrow.

Sect. VII.   The pestilent tendency of flattering Counsels, and the Glory of such as are sincere.

WHAT a poisonous thing is Flattery? By it Princes are misled into a persuasion that all their measures of Oppression, all their acts of Frenzy and Rage, are just measures of Government, that forced praise is real affection, that they themselves are popular when they are abhorred; and thus they are kept from repenting or amending, because, relying upon the assurances of Flatterers, they cannot find that they have done amiss, or see any thing to be mended. The Flatterers of Nero ridiculed Seneca, and railed at him, and persuaded that Prince he wanted no Tutors. The same did the Flatterers of Commodus in relation to the old Counsellors; which had been his father’s. Nero and Commodus followed the advice of their Flatterers, and reigned mischievously, and died tragically, and their memories are abhorred. Thus they are kept hoodwinked and secure, till the first thing they open their eyes upon, is their Throne tottering or overturned, and perhaps an executioner’s knife at their breast; and even when things are come to that extremity, there will be those to misrepresent and flatter, as in the case of Galba; a few moments before he was massacred, he was soothed with false assurances of securityo.

How pernicious too is such falsification even to those that practise it; since though they mean it out of selfishness and for security, yet by sanctifying upon all occasions the Oppression and Destruction of others, they do but invite their own! Whereas were matters laid honestly before Princes, that this measure is a Grievance, that an Oppression, and that whatever is unjust to others is dangerous to themselves, they would prefer caution with safety, to humour and wilfulness accompanied with peril; they would grow into a habit of doubting, deliberateing and enquiring; of submitting their own judgment to that of others; of remembering that they are what they are for the sake of their People, and that they ought to have no Will, nor Interest, but the public Will and the public Interest.

Had Nero pursued the good Rules of Government dictated by Seneca and Burrus, and proposed by himself in his first Speech to the Senate; had he avoided the counsels of that bloody and detestable sycophant Tigellinus, and of others like him, he might have ended his reign with as much renown as he began it, and left a memory revered as much as it is now detested. And would the Confidents of Princes, instead of debasing themselves into the characters of Parasites, instead of abusing their trust, and bringing infamy upon their masters and themselves; would they, instead of this, give upright counsel, such as conduced to the good of all men, they would, besides the praise of well-doing, take the best method to secure themselves, their fortunes and families in the general security: or, should they be rewarded with disgrace, or even with death, they would have the approbation of their own Consciences, the applauses of the Living, and the praises of Posterity. But while they sooth the Prince in his jealousies and violence, and encourage him in destroying such as he, or such as they fear or dislike, they set him a lesson and example for turning the edge of his fury upon themselves, whenever he becomes prompted by his humour or caprice; a case often happening, and always to be apprehended. The Courtiers and Flatterers of the Emperor Caracalla, to humour him, concurred with him in the murder of his brother Geta; and, after that murder, though committed by his own hand, were themselves murdered for their wicked complaisance, and amongst them Letus his Favourite and Confident. Yet he was so far from remorse for shedding his brother’s blood, that he massacred every friend and adherent to his brother, to the number of twenty thousand, in a short time. Tiberius, of all his Friends, Confidents and Counsellors, scarce let one escape a violent end, unless where by a natural death they prevented it: and they who had been the Ministers of his Tyranny, hardly ever failed to fall by it. He indeed protected them from the resentment and prosecution of others; but he generally poured vengeance upon them himselfp. Vescularius Atticus and Julius Marinus, were two of his most ancient intimates; they had accompanied him during his retirement at Rhodes, and never forsook him in his retreat at Capreæ; they had abetted his Tyranny, and assisted him in his cruel Counsels, nor does it appear that they had ever offended him by any good Counsel. Vescularius was his manager and inter-agent in the perfidious plot to destroy that noble Roman Libo Drusus; and by the co-operation of Marinus, Sejanus had worked the overthrow of Curtius Atticus. Was not all this merit enough, at least, to have redeemed their own lives? It was not; they fell themselves victims to his cruelty, as to satiate his cruelty they had made others fall: ad mortem aguntur: quo lætius acceptum, says Tacitus, sua exempla in consultores recidisse; their tragical end was followed with the more joy, for that upon their own heads had thus recoiled the precedents of their own traiterous devising. In truth, these instruments of cruelty are generally abhorred by the Princes that use them. Anicetus Admiral of the Gallies to Nero, conducted and perpetrated the murder of his mother Agrippina, and for a short space continued in some small favour with the Prince; but was afterwards held in greater aversion; for, says Tacitus, the Ministers of evil Counsels are by Princes beheld as men whose looks continually upbraid themq. Such too was the fate of Cleander under Commodus, who loved him, was governed by him, and cut off his head. How differently related is the fate of Burrus, suspected to have been poisoned by Neror: Mighty and lasting was the sorrow of Rome for his death, for the Romans remembered his virtues; and a little befores, While the calamities of the Public were growing daily more heavy and bitter, the resources of the Public were diminished, and Burrus died. How nobly too is the tragedy of Seneca recounted! it is too long to find room here.

I shall end this Discourse with observing, that as Flattery is the effect of dread and falshood; as the most tyrannical Princes are most flattered, and men of the falsest minds are the greatest Flatterers; this consideration should be a lesson to Princes and great men, to weigh the actions they do against the praises they receive; and if they find themselves righteous, they may conclude their panegyrics to be sincere. Let them reflect upon their acts of benevolence or oppression, and how they have used their people. They would also do well to examine what sort of men they are who praise them; whether men of virtue and honour, lovers of truth, lovers of their Country, and of human-kind; or whether they are those unlimited Sycophants, whose custom and rule it is to extol at random all the sayings and doings of Princes, worthy and unworthyt.

 


 

DISCOURSE IX.

Upon Courts.

Sect. I.   Of Freedom of Speech; and how reasonable it is.

TO the foregoing Discourse upon Flattery, I thought it might not be unsuitable to subjoin another upon Courts, the place where that pestilent and unmanly practice is wont chiefly to prevail.

During those Reigns which I have been describing, when Power was established in Terrors, and Subjection converted into Abasement, small was the wonder that restraint upon speech was no inconsiderable link in the public chain, and care taken that such as presumed to breathe aught but vassalage, should not breathe at all. This was wretched policy, barbarous, and impossible to be practised. The passions are not to be extinguished but with life; and to forbid people, especially a suffering people, to speak, is to forbid them to feel.

It is not indeed to be expected that men should be suffered to meet together tumultuously, in order to publish their mutual Discontents and Wrongs, and to inflame one another; but complaints uttered in their families, or dropped occasionally, or communicated to a friend, can never affect Authority. The more men express of their hate and resentment, perhaps the less they retain; and sometimes they vent the whole that way; but these passions, where they are smothered, will be apt to fester, to grow venomous, and to discharge themselves by a more dangerous organ than the mouth, even by an armed and vindictive hand. Less dangerous is a railing mouth, than a heart filled and enflamed with bitterness and curses; and more terrible to a Prince ought to be the secret execrations of his people than their open revilings, or than even the assaults of his enemies. Of all the blood spilt under Tiberius and the following Tyrants for Words (and for no greater cause a deluge was spilt) how small a part conduced to their security? none that I remember; but every drop was an indelible stain upon their persons and upon their Government; every drop derived hatred, and consequently weakness and danger, upon it. Rigorous punishment for small faults, or for such as in the common opinion pass for none, is a mark of ill politics; it makes the spirit of the Administration look hideous and dreadful, and it renders every man who finds himself liable to the like faults, a capital enemy. Surely it ought to be a maxim in Government, that errors which can have no consequences, ought to have no punishment.

Oliver Cromwell, who seems to have seen far into the heart of man, was little affected with the hard words and invectives of particulars, and as high as he carried Authority, left people to talk and rail. The same is true of the late Regent of France, one who well knew human nature, and the nature of power; it was then common to see Frenchmen swagger and storm as freely as an old Roman would have done against an unpopular Magistrate. In truth, where no liberty is allowed to speak of Governors, besides that of praising them, their praises will be little believed. Their tenderness and aversion to have their conduct examined, will be apt to prompt people to think their conduct guilty or weak, to suspect their management and designs to be worse than perhaps they are, and to become turbulent and seditious, rather than be forced to be silent. When nothing but incense and applause will be accepted or borne; all plain dealing, all honest counsel and true information, will be at an end, and banished, to make room for deceitful adorations, for pleasing and pernicious falshoods. If Princes whose memory is disliked, had allowed their subjects and co-temporaries to have spoken truth to them, or of them, probably Posterity would not have spoke so much ill, as it is probable they would not then have deserved it; and I am apt to believe, that it had been better for all of them to have permitted all that could have been said, than to have missed hearing what it imported them to have heard; better to have heard the disgusts and railings of their people, than that their people were armed against them, or revolted from them; a fate which has befallen some of them, who, having had Courtiers over-complaisant, or ears over-tender, learnt that they were dethroned before they had learnt that they were not beloved; and found scarce any interval between the acclamations of Flatterers and the strokes of an Executioner. Such is the genius of Courts, where ill tidings are generally concealed or disguised; such too often the silence and soothings of Courtiers, who tell only or chiefly what is pleasing; and such sometimes the pride and impatience of Princes, that they will suffer nothing which ruffles their passions, to approach their understanding.

Sect. II.   The Spirit of Courtiers what; some good ones.

IT is something else than zeal for telling truth, that carries men to Court, and keeps them in it; to raise an interest, or to preserve it, is the more prevailing passion. And because whoever sets his foot there with any view to place and favour, is always sure of competitors, be his person or pretences what they will, ever so considerable or inconsiderable; his chief care will be to conquer opposers, and secure himself; and as there ever will be some opposition, real or apprehended, that care will be constant. Hence the spirit of a Court, selfish, suspicious and unfriendly; and hence the supple spirit of Courtiers, to love and hate, court and avoid, praise and persecute the same person with notable suddenness, just as he is promoted or disgraced, and can help or hurt, or is to be deprived of all capacity to do either. To be well with the subsisting Power, with him who holds the reins of Authority, and distributes, or causes to be distributed the blessings and terrors of Power, is the main pursuit; his motions are chiefly watched, his affections and aversions are studied and adopted; and thus a smile or a frown from the Throne, or from one who is next the Throne, is eagerly catched up, seizes the faces of a whole drawing-room in an instant, and is handed down, with signal uniformity, through all classes of men, from a Grandee to the lowest Clerk in an Office.

A Court is a great Exchange, where one or a few have favours to dispose of, where many resort to procure them, and where all therefore strive to outgo in the ways of pleasing every one who has the same aim, and study every method to render themselves acceptable. Hence their obsequious Countenances, Flattery, Insinuations, and Zeal, some passions concealed, some disguised, and others personated; hence too their attachment to such as can help to promote them, and their neglect of such as cannot; hence with them good fortune, however unworthily placed, always passes for merit, and abilities ever sink with power; and hence their falsehood, ingratitude and courteous behaviour.

That this is true of the herd of Courtiers, I believe will be allowed. Without doubt there are exceptions, and men of great honour, disinterestedness and friendship are often to be found there; men who scorn treachery and baseness, and would risk all, rather than do a mean thing. Such were Manius Lepidus, Seneca, and Burrus; such Cocceius Nerva and Julius Agricola, and such were the Chancellor de L’Hospital, Chancellor Hyde, and the Earl of Southampton; all these great men were Courtiers, and lived in Courts full of corruption and dangerous designs; all practised some degrees of suppleness, submitted their opinions to the necessity of the times, and, by defeating many evil measures, were the Authors of much good, though not of all that they would.

Cardinal Richelieu makes heavy complaints of the opposition which he found to his best designs from the credit and intrigues of Women, and the whispers and ill offices of malevolent Courtiers. These great men abovementioned were likewise often wronged; bad counsels which they had heartily opposed, were imputed to them; and, when they concurred with some excesses to obviate much greater, just allowances were not made, and their motives were spitefully construed. Thus the Chancellor De L’Hospital was severely censured by the Hugonots for passing the Edict of Romorantin, which bore hard upon them; though by that Edict he prevented their utter extirpation, and the misery of all France, by hindering the introduction and establishment of that monstrous and bloody Tribunal the Inquisition; in which design the Court and Parliament were already agreed, and I think the Edict for that detestable purpose was ready. For such signal and glorious service the Protestants first railed at him, and the Papists afterwards cursed him. Lord Clarendon too was reproached with the sale of Dunkirk, and for many other exorbitancies which the sincere heart of that upright Minister abhorred. Nor could the good counsels of Seneca secure him from much envy and defamation; and many great Ministers, thought to be the Authors of evil counsels, have fallen into disgrace, or perished, for daring to offer such as were benevolent and uprighta.

Sect. III.   The Arts of Courtiers; their Cautiousness, and its Causes.

PLausibleness and guises are inseparable from Courts; men must not seem to understand all that they apprehend or know, no more than they must speak all that they think or feelb. Princes often dissemble with their Subjects, their Ministers with them, and all with one another; and every one talks, as he appears, to the best advantage. Some dissimulation there, is absolutely necessary, and therefore lawful. Men are not obliged upon all occasions to speak the truth, though whatever they speak upon any occasion ought to be true. Nor ought any one to be blamed for hiding his passions and sentiments, when the discovery would only serve to hurt himself. But few people in private life can be trusted with secrets, which published would lessen one’s peace or same; and in Courts there are much fewer, perhaps none. Particular interests and passions are often shifting there; men who were once close united, become widely divided; friendships old and long, are turned into bitter and vindictive enmity; and he who would once have risqued his life for the preferment of his friend, would venture as much, upon a disgust, to bring him to a scaffold. This might be exemplified by a thousand instances in all Times and Histories. Nothing keeps the passions more awake than the pursuit of power; nothing touches the pride of man more sensibly, than neglect or disappointment in that pursuit, and nothing is more tender and suspicious than pride. Few have got so much as not to aim at more, or have had ever so much assistance but they expect further, even where the same is unreasonable or perhaps impossible; and from disappointment ensues disgust. Too rarely seen is that Gratitude which looks backward, and generously subsists upon favours past, without fresh claims and aliment; how much more common is that which must be kept up by daily benefits, and, when bereft of such food, expires? Nor is the ceasing of gratitude the worst that is to be apprehended from selfish and ungenerous men; the room of it is too often supplied by spite and revenge; and if it be natural to hate such as we have injured, this hate must be great in proportion to the injury done; and what injury can be greater than that of being barbarous to benefactors?

These considerations are sufficient to make such as frequent Courts and know men, slow and wary in confiding, and to put them under considerable reserves even where they confide most. No one cares to be at the mercy of a friend, that may be an enemy; hence, in the making of friendship any where, it ought to be one of the first considerations, whether there be any probable causes which threaten a rupture; whether the business of love, or power, or fame, or anger, or interest, be never likely to interfere, and produce the most bitter of all enmities, that of friends.

This wariness at Court extends even to words and looks. The conversing with great men and great affairs, naturally produces secresy and silence; for, since such is the folly of the world, that whatever a great man says, however light or accidental, shall be deemed deep and mysterious, if it has the least allusion to the transactions of the times, and since they who hear it will be apt, through vanity, to quote it; great men seldom say any thing upon such subjects; and even when they hear the talk and sentiments of others, they take care that neither their answers, nor their countenance, shall betray their own. Sometimes a word thoughtlessly dropped, or an unseasonable smile, or some mark of surprize, has given light into an important design, and marred it intirely. The like circumspection they observe in their discourse upon particulars, because their discourse may be easily altered and poisoned by the malice or folly of such as hear it; a practice as usual at Court, as in any country village; and many a man has been disgraced by his own words, whispered and altered by a virulent breath; nay, the very same thing reported with a different tone and action, has had the same effect; and where the alteration of the words was considerable, those of them which were forged and criminal have been believed, because the rest that were true and innocent, were well attested.

I shall illustrate this by the story of young Nero (the son of Germanicus) in the Court of Tiberius. It excellently shews the jealousies of Princes, and the spirit of Courts. That young Prince was intirely beloved of the Roman People, who had adored his father; hence the distaste and dark suspicions of the Emperor, his great uncle and grandfather by adoption. Sejanus, who had already poisoned the Emperor’s son Drusus, and was ploting the overthrow of the whole reigning House, fed the hate and apprehensions of the old Prince, by malignant reports and infusions concerning the young, now the next in Succession. This he did by the inter-agency of hollow whispers and tale-bearers, who related and blackened every thing that escaped Nero, who was also hard used and brow-beaten, on purpose to extort from him severe and unwary complaints, such as might fill up the charge against him. Moreover his domestics and retainers, impatient to see him in power that they might shine in its trappings, were continually exciting him to rouse his courage and exert himself, to meet the zeal of the people, to gratify the passionate wishes of the army; as the only expedients to daunt and repulse the insolence of Sejanus, who now despised him as a boy, and his grandfather as superannuated.

The young Prince, however naturally modest, was yet by so many instigations transported beyond the circumspection which the station that he was in, and the many eyes that were upon him, required; and thence gave vent to words, which, though they betrayed no sign of any treasonable purpose, yet, being ill-guarded and savouring of contumacy, were, by the spies purposely placed about him, carried instantly, well heightened and imbittered, to Tiberius. Nor, under all these imputations and aspersions, was he warned or admitted to vindicate himself, but beset, on the contrary, with several melancholy and boding appearances. Some of the Court carefully shunned to meet him; others just greeted him, and then instantly left him; many with whom he had begun a conversation, broke it off abruptly; while the creatures and adherents of Sejanus looked on with a malicious laugh. Tiberius too always received him sternly, or with a hollow and upbraiding smile; and, whether the youth spoke, or said nothing, there were crimes in his words, crimes in his silence. Neither did his bed-chamber and the shades of night secure him from his Enemies and Accusers, for even his restlessness and watchings, nay, his sighs and dreams, were by his wife divulged to her mother Livia, and by her to her adulterer Sejanus. Drusus also, his younger brother, was, by this wicked politician, drawn to combine against him as one who stood between himself and the Empire, and was better beloved by their common mother Agrippina; a fresh cause of emulation and prejudice. Yet at that very time was Sejanus laying a design against the life of this same Drusus, whom he knew to be of a spirit tempestuous and fiery, and thence the more obnoxious to snares. Thus he began the Tragedy of these two youths, and that of their mother; but before he had finished theirs, suffered his own, which was abundantly bloody, but abundantly just. Their brother Caligula was a better Courtier; he studied the temper and manner of Tiberius, and in all things conformed to it; but was particularly a complete scholar of his in dissimulationc. Upon the condemnation of his mother, upon the exile of his brothers, not a word, not a groan escaped him, nor any symptom of resentment or pity. The passions are no where more agitated than at Court; yet no where are the signs of perturbation more suppressed.

Sect. IV.   Of Slanderers and Tale-bearers in Courts. The Folly of Craft.

THE occupation of slander and whispering, will, like other occupations, always thrive according to the encouragement given to it, and being easily exercised, will be ever engaging fresh adventurers. What requires less labour and conscience than to find out, or frame, or invenom a story to the prejudice of another, especially when he is not to be heard in his own defence, nor suffered to confront his Accuser, nor perhaps even knows that he has one? There is an endless appetite in mankind for Intelligence and secret History; and in proportion to that appetite, they who feed it are well received and encouraged. But of all places they fare best in Courts. Great men are in the power of such people much more than they themselves imagine or mean; these assiduous shadows of theirs, who have their ear, and know their tempers, watch their unwary moments, and observe when they are gay and open, when disobliged and angry, when full of thought and business; and will be sure to improve the present temper and opportunity. They know the Characters of men; know whom their Patron loves, whom he dislikes, to whom he is altogether indifferent, with what is likely to be believed of each. They extoll some, decry others, flatter him, misrepresent all; and sooth, or alarm, or divert him, just as his humour and their drift requires. If with this they can play the droll, and make dry and malicious jests, they are accomplished in their way; but most villainous is that talent which is good for nothing but to do hurt; it is like death and poison, fit only to take away life. Vatinius was a buffoon of this pestilent cast, and, from working in a stall, taken to Court, at first for jest and diversion; but having a malicious spirit and a sarcastical turn, soon became a terror to every worthy and illustrious man; insomuch that in wealth and favour, and in power to do mischief, he grew to exceed all the other Ministers of inquity in Nero’s Court.

In all Courts there are many who rise into notice and preferment for no greater merit than that of officiousness, buffoonery and tale-bearing; and Courts are the places in the world where bad and worthless people can do the most harm; a Barber, a Porter, a Valet de Chambre, and even a Child, are all capable of doing notable mischief there. Those instruments, let them be ever so mean, will find some or other to hear them; these will find others; and a story that has run through a hundred hands, and can be traced to no original, or to a very low one, perhaps the idle Prattle of a Chambermaid, may, for all that, have no mean influence.

But whatever reason men have, upon all these accounts, to keep a guard upon their lips and behaviour at Court; there is still room for great frankness and candour, and no necessity of illusion and deceiving, though it be often necessary to let people deceive themselves, and would be often imprudent and dangerous to undeceive them. It is certain, that in the transacting of great Affairs, the rules of morality admit of some relaxation; this is to be lamented, but not to be helped. Such frequently are the exigencies of a State, and such always the crookedness and depravity of the heart of man, that were you to deal openly, to tell all that you mean, all that you know, and all that you aim at, you would expose your Country to ruin, and yourself to scorn, perhaps to the block. The most that can be done is to save appearances, and be wary of what expressions are used; for, upon these occasions, and many others, men are not to be upbraided for their silence. I know some who have gone through nice Embassies, some who have concluded intricate Negotiations, others who have administered the highest Offices, and still preserved the character of high Honour, and untainted Veracity. This shews the thing to be possible; and a promise or assurance, just given to serve a turn, and therefore not observed afterwards, does often more injury to him who made it, than the serving that turn did good. Cardinal Richelieu was not liberal of money nor promises; but he always performed more than he undertook; hence the zeal and firm adherence of all who depended upon him. Cardinal Mazarin denied nothing, performed nothing, was believed in nothing, and his ill faith was become proverbial; hence no man was ever more hated, no man in his station more despised; he could never rely upon any party, for he deceived all parties and all particulars; and nothing could support him but the blind obstinacy of the Queen Regent, and the mere weight of Royal Power armed in his defence; but in spite of the Queen and the Authority Royal, he was forced to run and sculk for his life. The Parliament set a price upon his head, and issued ordinances to the people to fall upon him as a public Enemy. Yet he had never carried Sovereign Power so high as his Predecessor, nor ever exerted it so terribly; but he had no faith nor honour, and therefore no personal friends. To this hour, Richelieu is considered as a Minister, who, though arbitrary and severe, was yet an elevated genius, and a man of veracity to particulars; Mazarin, as a man not rigorous indeed, nor vindictive, but sordid, addicted to low cunning and lyes, and with all the eclat of a great Minister unable to hide the little tricking Italian.

Craftiness is a despicable quality, and undoes itself; he who has it, and acts by it, can never disguise it long; and when it becomes apparent, it becomes impotent, arms every body against it, brings hatred or ridicule, at best is perfectly useless; and the man, even when he deals uprightly, is suspected to mean knavishly. What gained Tiberius by all his profound subtlety and wiles, but to have his best actions ill construed, and his sincerest professions to be disbelievedd? What gained Philip the second of Spain by that strange and intricate scene of false Politics, concerted to transfer his own guilt upon the head of his Minister Antonio Perez; but to bring home the just imputation of that guilt to his own door, and to produce full proof, where before there was only suspicion? Sincerity is very consistent with human prudence, and often a part of it, considering the reputation that always attends it; and men even in Courts may be very upright, without being unguarded; nor can Courtiers ever do business with one another without some openness and candour. I have seen it asserted somewhere, that people are oftner deceived by distrust than by acts of confidence. I have observed as plain dealing in Courtiers as in any other sort of men in the world. It is ridiculous to carry reserve and deepness into every thing. I know not a more contemptible sort of men than such as mimic business and mystery; I have seen some subaltern Courtiers look as important, demure and wary, as if they had carried great matters, and even the weight of the State upon their shoulders. This affectation serves to raise their credit amongst their servants and artificers in town, and in the country amongst their tenants and neighbours, and diverts better judges. There ar