|James Harrington (1611–1677)|
Note: This is part of the Leveller Collection of Tracts and Pamphlets.
T.317 [1659.08] James Harrington, Politicaster, or a Comical Discourse in Answer to Mr. Wren's Book intitled Monarchy Asserted, against Mr. Harrington’s OCEANA (1659).
This HTML version comes from the 1771 edtiion edited by John Toland: The Oceana and Other Works of James Harrington, with an Account of His Life by John Toland (London: Becket and Cadell, 1771).
TT E.2112 (Aug. 1659).
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
Ad populum phaleras, ego te intus et in cute novi.
THEY say well, that a man who hath written should not trouble himself with such as write against him; but let the world hear on both ears, and then judge. That this in time would do well enough in my case, I make as little doubt as another. Nevertheless, where through silence there may be damage, at the tenderest point or season, I hold my self obliged forthwith to answer the present book, though it be but meer raillery or jest: and for this cause, if I also be merry, you will have me excused. Another instigation or spur to this laudable adventure, is, that as gloves which have lain in Spanish skins give notice of themselves in fair assemblies, so hath some book by having lain in some man’s pocket. For order, though where there are but two speakers, I shall scarce observe the laws of a play, yet the best method I can upon this occasion fit my self withal, will be by distributing my discourse into acts and scenes. The acts, as well because I have not taken my degrees, as that multitudes of university scholars (they say, soberly and seriously) profess themselves to be converted by Mr. Wren, shall not be dramatical, but university acts: and to these, being the scholars slight me for a law-giver, I will for once give such laws, as, let them do what they can, they shall never evade. The same shall be done in such manner, as, if they cannot answer nor get loose from my first act, then will I thereupon declare my self a batchelor of arts: if they cannot answer or get loose from my second act, then will I be undeniably a master of arts: the third shall make me in like manner a batchelor of law; the fourth, a doctor of law, and perhaps of divinity. For without confutation by divines or lawyers, there will be no reason why my exercises are not sufficiently performed; and these being sufficiently performed, why have not I legitimately acquired my degrees? then in the latter end, I will do something to go out orator; and in the last place, shall I stand to be poet laureat. But you must think that a man may as lawfully be two years, if he have nothing else to do, about business of such importance, as Mr. Wren hath been about less matters. Be then attentive: for the present you shall have the first act; and what you find Mr. Wren or me to be in this, I here engage my reputation, that the respect characters shall be made good throughout.
But now upon occasion of these acts, I warrant you we shall have my antagonist go pitifully complaining unto Dr. Wilkins, of disingenuous contumely thrown upon the university. Goodness! what is an university, at least one where they can call such a writer as Mr. Wren ingenious; and such trumpery as his writings, full satisfaction or conviction, that it should be unlawful for any man, though but a ballad-singer, to laugh such a white mother into red cheeks!
March 20, 1656.
GENTLE Mr. Wren, (sine ira & obsequio) without passion or partiality, give me your hand, and let me as it were by some familiar and unstudied discourse, treat with you upon the contents of that same book you call Monarchy asserted, and so forth.
Sir, for method, I shall take those places which are most material, in the order you have borrowed for them, and so bestowed upon them; omitting none that is not implied in the answer I shall give unto these: you shall not find me skipping, as you do, whole pages and chapters. And whereas you (upon my taking that liberty which is every man’s right, of using a libel without a name, as he thinks fit) have appealed in the conclusion unto my lords, the provosts of Oceana, as if I had given you ill language; and have also in divers and sundry places of your work, as it were, dared my muse; I shall at leisure (it may be within two years) add a piece of oratory, addressed unto the said lords, the provosts of the academy in Oceana, and some poems not abhorring from your desires or provocations, not in the thunder-thumping way of grandsire Virgil, but in the sugar’d speech of mine uncle Chaucer. If you please by the way to take a lick of it, I shall at this distance from the Opera, insert the prologue.
What Chaucer ho, ye han the English key,
Of the high rock Parnas with the tow’rs twey,
Your sooten gab, so ken I well thus far,
Of courtely the yate till me unspar.
But here be babius in the way I traw,
All to be prickle like urchiu, hi ho.
Forth come wi brond, gin ye na bren em green
Me more they keepen out that nere were in.
Pray, Sir, ha’ me commended to them that say, your book is unanswerable, and let them know, it is to them that the prologue is spoken. The body of the work is heroick; the title thereof bequeathed by famous Selden, runneth thus: The wars of the makers of mouse-traps against Inigo Jones; and it beginneth in this wise.
Leif Mistress Margery Melpomene,
Out how ye snorten! sooth it been brede day
Ne Mother Midnight sit in sky, ne duskin,
For shame now buckle on your bloodred buskin:
Or if ye like your case, sweet lady Meg,
Of womanhood, lend me your lethren leg:
And gin, I lig it not about square caps
That meet in hugger for to make mouse-traps,
And wagen war anenst Inigo Jones
That harpen, like Amphion, till huge stones
And maken rise in new of kerson people
Into the element, and sit on steeple.
Mote I ne tack ye mere by the small fute
When ye mount Pegasus in crimson bute.
Look you there now, is not this fair? you have the length of my weapon. Moreover, I have manifested unto you the whole order of my work. Now to my tackling.
Noble Mr. Wren, you have declared your self to be of an assembly of men who are known both at home and abroad to be of the most learned persons of this age: and some suspect it to have been under their eye, that you have been about two years in answering my last book; an enterprise in which you have performed, seeing you now own the former, your second adventure in like chivalry; yet where I vouch Aristotle, Machiavel, and like authors for the undoubted right, which a private man may claim in treating upon the politicks, or upon the nature of government, you tell me, that this privilege is not to be extended unto every little writer. I, against whom one of the assembly, known both at home and abroad to be of the most learned persons of this age, hath written twice, and been so long about it, a little writer! Sir, you forgot your self.
Again, the testimony of Machiavel throughout his works, is, that he intendeth not carelesly to start some philosophical opinion, but applieth every thing home and expresly unto Italy, though not without some despair, yet with the ardour, or, if you will have it so, with the heat and passion belonging unto so noble a design. Wherefore for you to adoperate this testimony quite contrary to the truth of it, as a proof that my way of writing hath no affinity with this author’s, is subornation of a witness.
W. p. 107.But, good Mr. Wren, is your proposition of German-horse, or, which is all one, of a mercenary army for a standing government, such as professeth to have any fiction or romance, while you enter not into despair (as you say) of living to enjoy your share of the felicities which will belong unto the subjects of such a government, or adapted to the occasions or necessities of a particular juncture? is it such as in so many fair compliments wherewith you interweave me nominally, is proposed with the temper and moderation becoming a philosophical opinion, and not with the heat and passion belonging to a design? was my book which named no man, a libel or a pasquin; and are both yours, each page whereof is endued with my name, most serious tracts, and true history? alas, that ever I fell into the hands of such an historian: what will become of my name, preserved in such sugar’d eloquence to future ages?Hen. VII. but notwithstanding you are a great historian, Mr. Wren, yet as concerning Christopher Columbus, and because you will go to that, as concerning Sebastian Gabato likewise,Page 188. I appeal unto my lord Verulam, whether they first framed not designs or cards before they found out their discoveries; or if discoveries cannot be made but by design or chance, what need I appeal to any man for this, seeing it is known that they made their previous contracts with princes, before they undertook their adventures? what mean you then to say, that they who understand that Christopher Columbus must first have been at the Indies, before he could make a card to teach others the way thither, will go near to suspect Mr. Harrington’s abilities in modelling a commonwealth, till he have spent some years in the ministry of state?
Good Sir, besides the trick you put upon your reader, in your antecedent, you are quite out in your consequence. For how many years, I pray you, had Lycurgus, or Numa Pompilius spent in the ministry of state before they modelled their governments? or what modelling of government hath been bequeathed unto the world, by all the ministers of state in France, since the dissolution of the three estates, the ancient model of that government; or by all the ministers of state since Henry the Seventh in England; or have not these rather been the ruin of the English model? Mr. Wren, if you will believe me, the main, nay the whole ability of modelling a commonwealth, lyeth in two things; the one, in being well versed in ancient prudence; the other, in being disengaged from all parties: neither of which qualifications is common with ministers of state.
Talk not to me of French taylors; to model is not so easy a thing as you take it for, if we may but count our late changes of government: when the king left the parliament, and the two houses governed without a king, there was one change. When the peers were excluded, and the commons governed without king and peers, there was two: when the commons were excluded, and the general governed alone, there were three: when the general governed with a convention of his own making, there were four: when by the major-generals, there were five: when the protector governed by the instrument, there were six: when he governed by the petition and advice, there were seven; the present should be the eighth: nor hitherto hath there been any model at all, or any such as the makers themselves have approved of. I hope I give no offence; for I say but as they say: but you are such a man, you can shew me no body so good at modelling as I, except it be your self; who I am sure have had as little ministry; and yet the next dung-hill, which is your own sweet book, you think fittest to be my magazine. Why seeing you will have it so, come your ways.
FOUGH! this same mixen in the stirring, is like pepper in the nose; but he faith it is hellebore for to purge heads.
Now as concerning purging of heads, Mr. Wren, there seemeth already to peep out a question. Do your universities (gentle Sir) derive their learning from Nimrod, from the kings of China, from the monarchies? (to be equally with Macedon, I doubt, as to this point, passed over in wise silence) Are they descended (do you understand me?) from the times in Greece called by Thucydides, The imbecillity of ancient times; from those in Rome, called by Florus, The childhood of that government? or speak out, is their whole stock of learning, without which they had not had any kind of thing whereupon to set up, derived from the Hebrew, the Greek, and the Roman commonwealths? if so, Mr. Wren, whether I pray you call you not now that stock of learning ancient learning, albeit they could not call it so then? and if politicians have no other pedigree of prudence, than the same that you have of learning, why is not that prudence, which they have received in the like manner, ancient prudence, albeit those commonwealths could not call it so then?
To shift these things which are thus plain, you are in this chapter a wonderful artificer; yet cometh all but to this, that neither Thucydides nor Florus divide prudence into ancient and modern. Why, Mr. Wren, neither did the commonwealths mentioned divide learning into ancient and modern. This distinction belongs unto latter times, in regard of some modern learning that is of latter invention. So, Mr. Wren, in regard of some modern prudence, which first I tell you what it is, namely, government by king, lords and commons: and secondly, how it came in, namely, by the Goths and Vandals. I call the prudence (do you mark?) of those ancient commonwealths, ancient prudence; and the prudence remaining unto us from these Goths and Vandals, modern prudence. What could you desire more? nay, and this is according unto the plain sense of Janotti too: for, saith he, as to his two limits or periods of time, of the former, or that wherein Rome was opposed by the arms of Cæsar, came the second, or that when Italy was overrun by the Huns, Goths, Vandals and Lombards; and of the second came all that alteration, which hath given unto the world the face in which we now see it, and utterly lost it that face which it had in the time of the Romans. Wherein relation unto the two governments (the one popular, which was the more ancient; and the other by king, lords and commons, which is the more modern) is so plain, that you are put unto a shift, who can say no more than that I make Janotti author of the division of prudence into ancient and modern. How dare you for your reputation do thus, Mr. Wren? while first by your own acknowledgment I infer this division from more ancient authors, as Thucydides and Florus: and secondly, my words relating unto Janotti do no where from him derive the division of prudence into ancient and modern, as to those terms, upon which runneth your equivocation; but fortify this division of my own, by the two periods of time by him observed, and that are of like sense with these terms.
But, Mr. Wren, there was never the like of you! whereas the question by me proposed, was, whether prudence be not rightly divided into ancient and modern, you have conveyed it into a question, whether monarchy be not a more ancient government than a commonwealth? this have I hitherto not disputed, as that which concerneth not the present controversy.De cor. polit. But seeing it may be for your service, I do flatly deny that monarchy is the more ancient government; not that Mr. Hobbs holdeth democracy to be of all governments the first in order of time; but first, because upon the place where it is said, that Nimrod was a mighty hunter before the Lord, it is resolved by divines that Nimrod was the first monarch.Gen x. 8. Now, Sir, Nimrod began his reign about the one thousand eight hundredth year of the world: whence I conclude thus: either the world had no government till Nimrod, or a commonwealth may be above a thousand years elder than monarchy: nay, unless you can find some government that was neither a commonwealth nor a monarchy, must have been no less. I know what you will say, That the government till Nimrod was by fathers of families. Why so, I hope, you will yield it was afterwards, at least in the line of Shem. Now let us compute from Noah, and consider in the posterity of Shem, what judgment may be made of the government by fathers of families; or whether this were indeed, as divines affirm, monarchical, or may not much rather be esteemed popular.
Gen. xi.Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham and Japhet; of Shem, by Arphaxad and others, descended Reu; of Reu, Serug; of Serug, Nahor; of Nahor, Terah; of Terah, Abram; of Abram, Isaac; of Isaac, Jacob; and of Jacob descended the commonwealth of Israel. So much for the elder brother, which was Shem. Now, Sir, for the second son of Noah, that is Ham:Gen. x. of Ham descended Cush, and of Cush, Nimrod: by which, plain it is at the first sight, that the commonwealth, as to precedence in dignity, is of the elder house; and as to precedence in time, unless you can shew the descendants of Shem to have been under monarchy, must also have been the more ancient government, that is, if government by fathers of families were popular.Gemara Babylonia ad tit. Sunhedrim. Now as to this, it is a tradition with the Rabbins, that there were seven precepts delivered to the children of Noah: 1. Concerning judicatories: 2. Concerning blasphemy: 3. Concerning perverse worship: 4. Concerning uncovering of nakedness: 5. Concerning the shedding of man’s blood: 6. Concerning rapine or thest: 7. Concerning eating of things strangled, or of a member torn from a living creature. This tradition throughout the Jewish government is undoubted: for to such as held these precepts, and no more, they gave not only, as I may say, toleration, but allowed them to come so near unto the temple as the gates, and called them proselytes of the gates. Nor do I think the proof in Scripture of these precepts, though not set down together, to be obscure:Levit. xviii. 6. 24. as where it is said, None of you shall approach to any that is near kin to him, to uncover their nakedness:—for in all these the nations (that is, the Canaanites) are defiled, which I cast out before you. The Canaanites were descended from Ham; and that in these words it must be implied that they had violated the foregoing precepts, is in my judgment evident, seeing there is nothing in the law of nature why a man might not approach in this manner unto one that is near of kin to him.
Gen. ix.Again, that two other of these precepts were given by God unto Noah, the Scripture is plain, where he saith, Flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall you not eat. And whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. Whence it must follow, that either fathers of families were not subject unto this law, which because it is given generally and without any exception, were absurd to think; or else that during patriarchal government, they subjected themselves unto some common judicatories, according unto the first of the seven precepts. Of which saith Maimonides, By this the sons of Noah constituted judges in every city, to judge of the other six precepts, and to govern the people; and the Gemara Babylonia saith, That this was done after the manner that Moses commanded Judges to be set in the gates throughout the tribes. By the advice of Jethro to Moses, the like should have been the custom of the Midianites, who, (as also the Gibeonites, descended of the same line with the monarchy of Nimrod, and for ought perhaps to the contrary, of as ancient standing) were a commonwealth. But above all, it should seem by some of the Rabbins, that there was a consistory or senate instituted by Shem, which was of use with his posterity. Now if patriarchal government was exercised by or under the common ligament of a senate or consistory, then was the government of the patriarchs of a popular nature, or a commonwealth; at least these, Mr. Wren must be disproved by them, who will have monarchy out of all controversy to be the more ancient government.
Good Sir, I do not know, nor do I think that this same way (do you see?) of disputation hath any predecessor.W. preface. What do you tell me then, that you have cause to think by the last or any book of mine, that my stores of reason and arguments are brought very low? you see already that it is far otherwise. Tell not me in this place, that Doderus is as good a book as the bible; nor let divines (for a thing that I know) run here as they do from the Scripture unto Heathen authors. It is confest that Diodorus Siculus; Aristotle, Cicero, Salust and Trogus say, That in the beginning of things and of nations, the power was in monarchs. But then the Heathen stories know nothing beyond Nimrod, or his successor Belus; which is no excuse to you, while the Scripture is so much a more ancient record; much less to divines, at least such of them as preach against the squaring of government according to the rule of Heathen authors. Mr. Wren, (to be plain) there are of these that have a strange kind of frowardness: if a commonwealth be described out of Heathen authors, they will undertake to prove that of Israel to have been a government of king, lords and commons. And if a commonwealth be out of this of Israel described unanswerably otherwise, then they run to Aristotle, Trogus, and the rest of the Heathens, for the antiquity of monarchy. When none of this will do, they fall flatly upon conjuring the people to take heed how they hearken unto men of wit, reason, or learning, and not in any wise to be led but by grace, and such grace only as is without any mixture of wit, reason, or learning. Mr. Wren, I desire them but to tell us once, what they mean by such grace as is without any mixture of wit, reason, or learning; and you in the mean time to consider, that Heathen authors, though they give monarchy the precedence in time, are very far from giving it the van in prudence.Pol. lib. [Editor: illegible character]. Nay, for this matter you will find them so much of one mind, that we need hear no more of them than Aristotle, who divides monarchy into two kinds; the one whereof he calleth barbarous,cap. 10, 11. and in this he relates to your Nimrod, or your Eastern monarchs; the other heroick, in which he relates expresly to principality in a commonwealth, and namely, that of the Lacedemonian kings. Say you then, to which giveth he the van in dignity; to the heroick, or to the barbarous prudence? but it is no matter, strike up and let us have the rodomontado, which it pleaseth you shall be of or belong unto the present scene: this (say you, for you may as well say it of this as of any thing else) approaches very near unto raving, and gives me cause to suspect I have taken a wrong course of curing Mr. Harrington’s political distempers. For whereas I think to do it by giving him more light, knowing men (and known to be of the learnedest in this age) are of opinion, that I ought to have shut up the windows, and so forth. Now very passing good indeed-law!
THE readiest way, Mr. Wren, of dispatch with the present question, will be to shew how far you and I are at length agreed; and we are agreed, that law proceeds from the will of man, whether a monarch or a people; that this will must have a mover; and that this mover is interest.
Now, Sir, the interest of the people is one thing; it is the publick interest; and where the publick interest governeth, it is a government of laws, and not of men. The interest of a king or of a party, is another thing; it is a private interest; and where private interest governeth, it is a government of men, and not of laws. What ails ye! if in England there have ever been any such thing as a government of laws, was it not magna charta? well, and have not our kings broken magna charta some thirty times? I beseech you, Sir, did the law govern when the law was broken? or was that a government of men? on the other side, hath not magna charta been as often repaired by the people? and the law being so restored, was it not a government of laws, and not of men? I think you are wild! why have our kings in so many statutes or oaths engaged themselves to govern by law, if there were not in kings a capacity of governing otherwise? and if so, then by every one of those oaths or statutes it is agreed both by king and people that there is a government by laws, and a government by men. Why goodness, Mr. Wren! is there not a government of men, and a government of laws? where do you dwell! such as have laid people in lavender for the late great man and his government, it is now thought will be left unto the law and her government. Come, come; divines and lawyers are indeed good men to help a prince at a dead lift; but they are known well enough: for they will no sooner have set him up, than if he do not govern by their laws, they will be throwing sticks at him. But do you hear? if a prince would be intirely freed of such danger, let him get a parliament of mathematicians.
What miracles hath Mr. Hobbes done in this kind! and how many more are there will make you a king by geometry? but I shall at this time content myself, Sir, to let them pass, and consider only your grand mathematical demonstration, with the nooks, crooks, angles and appertenances of the same. You gentlemen of lower forms, be attentive; it hath past the trial and test of the doctor’s academy, consisting of men known to be of the learnedest of this age; and the manner thereof is as followeth:
TO be plain (and rouzing) if the declared will of the supreme power be considered as the immediate cause of government, then a monarchy is as much as a commonwealth, an empire of laws and not of men. If we look farther back, and consider the person whose will is received as law, a commonwealth is, as much as a monarchy, an empire of men, and not of laws.
(Here, Sir, is your cast for the game: now, Sir, for your shout.)
THIS is so manifest, and yet Mr. Harrington so firmly resolved not to understand it, that considering his temper, I must needs applaud his resolution of having nothing to do with the mathematicks; for half this obstinacy would be enough to keep him from apprehending, that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles.
Mr. Wren, you spit crooked pins; you should be exorcised. For pray now hear me, did you ever see ’em choose knights of the shire? Those same people, the high shoone, as you call them, expect not, I conceive, that angels should come down there to ride upon their shoulders: nor, I doubt if the truth were known, do they greatly care for saints; they are most for men that drink well, or at least for such as eat good meat in their houses. Nor have I found by my reading, that those same high shoone have at any time set the worthy gentleman on foot, and taken his horse upon their backs: by which it is manifest, that they do not conceive their laws to be made by any thing above the nature of man, as angels; or below the nature of man, as horses. Now, Sir, all you have proved by your wonderful mathematicks, is, that laws are neither made by angels nor by horses, but by men; therefore the high shoone are as good mathematicians as your self. The voice of the people is as much the voice of men, as the voice of a prince is the voice of a man; and yet the voice of the people is the voice of God, which the voice of a prince is not, no not as to law-giving, the voice of the prince who was a man after God’s own heart:1 Chron. xiii. for thus David proposeth unto the congregation of Israel: If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the Lord our God—let us bring the ark to us. David, in matter of law-giving, maketh not himself, but the people judge of what was of God; and the government of laws, saith Aristotle, is the government of God.
Liv. li. 2.Mr. Wren, were you contented to be no wiser that Titus Livius, (who in passing from the government of the Roman kings unto that of the commonwealth, hath this transition; I come now unto the empire of laws more powerful than that of men) some who conceive the said Titus to have done passing well, would think you the better politician, for not taking the upper hand of him. You will not find that Augustus Cæsar, in whose time this author wrote, did set any Mr. Wren upon him; which is a shrewd suspicion that princes in that age either wanted such a wit as you are, or would scarce have thanked you for your subtil argument, somewhat too mercurial to stay even in your own head.W. p. 171. For do not you yourself say in another place, that a commonwealth having no eyes of her own, (as if this of all other were a mark of blindness) is forced to resign her self to the conduct of laws? What imply you in this, less than that a monarch is not forced to resign himself unto the conduct of laws? Or what less can follow from this confession of your own, than that a commonwealth is a government of laws and not of men, and that a monarchy is a government of a man, or some few men, and not of laws?W. p. 172. Nay, Mr. Wren, nor is it once that your mind misgives you; for soon after you are at it again, in shewing what you fancy befals a commonwealth as she is a government of laws.
But now, for joy, let me my cap up throw;
For one thing I have said, is sense, I trow.
Sir, for this rhime I have some reason; seeing in a monarchy, that the laws being made according to the interest of one man or a few men, must needs be more private and partial, than suits with the nature of justice; and in a commonwealth, that laws being made by the whole people, must come up to the publick interest, which is common right and justice; are propositions, which Mr. Wren can confess to have indeed some sense in them. But this milk, alas! is kick’d down again, while you add, that they have not any more truth than those other which wanted sense. Now this is a sad case; yet such, as you say, will be apparent, if we examine the different tempers of a single person, and a multitude acting laws.
Are we no farther yet? I verily believed that the different temper of a single person, and of a popular assembly, had been long since considered in the propositions already granted, in as much as the single person is tempered by a private, the multitude by the publick interest: which were heretofore by your self acknowledged to be the first movers of will, and so the efficient causes of law. If your mathematicks, or what shall I call them? would but hold to any thing, we might have some end. But for the discovery of these different tempers, you forget all that is past, and begin a-new in this manner.
When a monarch acts the legislator’s part, he ought to be so far from partiality, or respecting his own private interest, that he is then chiefly to direct his thoughts to the common good, and take the largest prospect of publick utility, in which his own is so eminently included.
This proposition then of yours is opposed to mine, or those in which you say there is some sense, but no truth: so in this, both the sense and the truth should be apparent. But, Mr. Wren, if I should say, that the father of a family, in giving rules to the same, ought to be so far from respecting his private interest, or the regard of keeping his whole estate and command unto himself, and holding the servants that live upon him, short, or in necessity to obey him, and work for him, that he were to take a larger, nay, the largest prospect of what is the publick utility of the men that serve him, which is to attain unto means whereby to live of themselves: should I say that a father of a family would find the common and natural interest of his servants, which is to be free, that wherein his own interest, which is to have servants, is eminently included; I am confident you would neither allow this assertion to be truth or sense. The like I say to your monarchy, whether it be by a single person, or by a nobility. A monarchy not keeping the people in servitude, is no monarchy; therefore either servitude must be the interest of the people, or the interest of the people is not that, to which a monarch ought chiefly to direct his thoughts. Yet can you not believe that there are many examples to be produced of princes, who in enacting laws have considered their own private personal interest? You are costive of belief, Mr. Wren: consider the Turkish and Eastern monarchies, and shew me any one of their laws from any other principle. It is true, in monarchies by a nobility, or by parliaments, princes have not in enacting laws been able to make so thorough work: for which cause, lest laws so enacted should give check unto this private interest so essential to monarchy, they have still been breaking them. But neither can you believe that laws have been broken by any prince, seeing that in buying aud selling, and other private contracts, princes are content to tie themselves up to the same rules which they prescribe to others. Rare! A king that plays fair at piquet, can never break Magna Charta. Cæsar paid no less for an horse than another man; therefore Cæsar’s monarchy was a lawful purchase. O! but such laws, as upon that occasion were made by Cæsar, were necessary to attaining the ends of government. Good! and so that which is necessary unto a private interest, or a single person, towards the attaining unto the ends of government, the same cometh up to the publick interest, which is common right and justice. Is this disputing, Mr. Wren, or is it fidling? Yet again: A prince breaketh not the law, but for the publick tranquillity. Wonderful! not the tinkers that fight, but the constable breaks the peace. That the posse comitatus is according unto the laws; or that there is a war in the law for the maintenance of the publick peace, I have heard; but that the publick peace is in any case, by the breach of the publick peace, whereof the laws only are the bond, to be defended, in good earnest I have not formerly heard. Yet take heed, I pray. On this side of yours, there must be no fond imagination: but on the other side, say you, there can be no fonder imagination, than to think that (in the republick of Israel framed by God or Moses, in the four hundred thousand that judged Benjamin, in all, in any of the commonwealths) or when any multitude is assembled to enact laws, it is necessary their resolutions (though those of a single person must) should be consonant to publick justice. I have a weary life with you, Mr. Wren, and with such of your admirers, as if at their pleasure I pick not straws, can soberly and seriously resolve you to be conqueror of Mr. Harrington; what is that? nay, of Moses, of Solon, and Lycurgus. The straw that is your first lance in this encounter, is, that a great part of this multitude (so you will have it called, though politicians understand not a people under orders by the word multitude, but the contrary) will not, for want of capacity, comprehend what this justice and interest is.
Sir, if a man know not what is his own interest, who should know it? And that which is the interest of the most particular men, the same, being summed up in the common vote, is the publick interest. O! but the abler sort will presently be divided into factions and junctos; and under pretence of publick interest, will prosecute their own designs.
But, good Sir, if these abler sort act as a council under a single person, what should hinder them from doing the like, except they debate only, and propose unto the prince, who only may resolve? Wherefore, if in popular government the senate or council of the people have no more than the debate, and the result remain wholly unto a popular council having no power to debate; how can the abler sort any more divide into junctos or factions under popular government, than under monarchical? Speak your conscience; the interest of the people being as you say, that justice be impartially administred, and every man preserved in the enjoyment of his own; whether think you the more probable way unto this end, that a council, or the abler sort, propose, and a single interest, that is, a single person, resolve; or that the abler sort propose, and the common interest, that is, the whole people, have the result? O! but take heed; for it is to be remembred, that the greatest part of laws concerns such matters as are the continual occasion of controversy between the people of a nation, such as regard regulation of trade, privileges of corporations, &c. Sweet Mr. Wren! are there more corporations in England, than distinct sovereignties in the United Provinces? Have those people no trade in comparison of ours? Or what quarrels have they about it? Persuade them to have a king; and to this end be sure you tell them, that if we had not had kings in England, there had certainly, instead of the barons wars, been wars between the tanners and clothiers; and instead of those of York and Lancaster, others between the shoemakers and the hosiers. Say, if you have any ingenuity, do you not make me pick straws? But the longest straw comes here after all, say you.
IT being essential to popular assemblies, that the plurality of votes should oblige the whole body, those laws which lay claim to the consent of all, are very often the resolutions of but a little more than half, and must consequently go less in their pretensions to publick interest.
Gentlemen, here are forty of you, whereof five and twenty see in yonder grove a rook’s-nest, which the other fifteen of you see not; now, gentlemen, is that less a rook’s-nest for this? Or do these five and twenty see farther than those fifteen? If so it be with every thing that is to be seen, felt, heard, or understood, how cometh the world to be resolved otherwise upon any thing, than that, quod pluribus visum id valeat, which appeared unto the most, is most authentick? And what can you desire more of certainty in a government, than all that certainty which can be had in the world?
It was even now that we came from the prince to the people; now from the people to the prince again. Good Mr. Wren, why do you say, or whoever said the like, that those laws which are reputed the people’s greatest security against injustice and oppression, have been established by the authority of some prince? Do you find any such thing in Israel, Athens, Lacedemon, Rome, Venice, Holland, Switz? But you equivocate; as to authority in princes, magistrates, or sole legislators, in matter of law-giving, you well know that I am for it; but not as you impose upon this term for their power. Thus be it granted, that Alfred, Edward, Lewis, Alphonso, have been excellent legislators; what is this to power, or to your purpose, seeing the laws proposed by authority of these princes, were enacted no otherwise than as Poining’s laws, by the power of the people, or assemblies of their three estates? But above all, say you, several of the Roman emperors, and chiefly Justinian, have fabricated those laws so much admired for their reason and equity, which have stretched themselves farther than ever the Roman legions were able to march, and which are still embraced by those people, who have long since ceased to acknowledge the Roman empire. Herein you have paid your self to some purpose: for most eloquent Mr. Wren, who but your self saith, that Justinian fabricated those laws you speak of? I have heard indeed, that he compiled them; and surely, Sir, in that work of his, he did but new vamp the old boots of the people of Rome. Nay, good Mr. Wren, your Roman emperors at the gallantest were no better; for the full proof whereof, I need go no foot farther than your own sweet self; for do not you give out of Justinian this very definition of a law, Lex est, quod populus Romanus senatorio magistratu interrogante (veluti consule) constituebat?W. p. 59. How say you then, that Justinian fabricated these laws, which he plainly telleth you were proposed by the senate, and resolved by the people of Rome? Do you see what your emperors themselves acknowledged to have been a government of laws, and more excellent than a government of men, though they themselves were the men that governed? And you your self have said enough to confirm, that the justice of the dead people went farther than the arms of the living emperors; nay, and that such laws as are yet of the greatest treasures in the world, are still extant of the Roman people, though of the emperors there remain nothing that is good.
But say you, on the other side (you may please to say as you will, but it is on the same side yet) those commonwealths that have been most celebrated for their laws, have received them from the hands of a sole legislator; which both words and things, though you list not to acknowledge it, every body knows that I taught you. Now let us see how you can hit me with my own weapon; therefore it may be doubted, whether these people of Athens and Lacedemon thought so well of themselves, as Mr. Harrington seems to do of popular assemblies. Why, do not I say, that a popular assembly, as to the formation or fabricating of government, through the want of invention, must of necessity have some sole legislator? What fault do you find with Mr. Harrington? Why, that with such repeated confidence he asserts, that the people never fail to judge truly of the publick interest, where (the legislator) the senate discharge their duty. And what have you been saying all this while in these examples of Solon and Lycurgus, whose laws being by them prudently proposed unto the people, were as prudently judged, and thereupon enacted by the people? So likewise for the Roman decemvirs: for if you think that these did any more than propose to the people, or that any law of theirs was otherwise good than as voted and commanded by the people, you should go to school. Yet that if the legislator or the senate divide well, the people shall be sure to make a good choice, you must confess is too hard for your faith. Why, if it be matter of faith, you might have let it alone. But do you think it right in civil matters, that the tenderness of faith should supply the want of sense in you? or what is the scruple can yet remain in your conscience? Goodness! the observation which Anacharsis made, who said of the popular assemblies in Greece, that wise men propounded matters, and fools decided them. Why, Mr. Wren, Anacharsis would not lose his jest, and you cannot find it. Do you think that the commonwealths of Greece thought Anacharsis, for this fine thing, wiser than Lycurgus, Solon, or themselves? Why, Mr. Wren, in this earnest you make yourself the jester. But let you alone, you will be the Gascon still; that which is thrown out of the windows where-ever you come, is no less than the whole house; or if you leave any thing, it is but that you are weary to discover all the weak arguments and false inferences of Mr. Harrington, as a work to others of small profit, and to your self of little glory. Poor Mr. Harrington! He will now leave you a while to take breath, and confer a little with your patron.
Doctor Wilkins having laughed so much as is suggested in the epistle, should not methinks be altogether left out of our game. He in his book called Mathematical Magic, pretends to a balance too.B. 1. c. 14. And his balance is made for all the world like a jack; the whole force of which engine consisteth in two double pullies, twelve wheels and a sail; the sail is instead of the crest of the jack, at which a fellow stands blowing; and by blowing in this manner, the said author pretendeth to demonstrate mathematically, that the said fellow, with the said jack, shall tear you up the strongest oak by the roots. This, to men who know that some ships in a storm will break the strongest anchor that is made of iron, and the strongest cable that is made of hemp, must needs be wonderful: of what then must this jack and this string be made, that it break not before it fetch up this oak? Nay, how can any man blow a million of years together?Ch. 16. Or if he could, where would the oak or the jack be? And in a less time the oak, it is confest, could not by this means be removed one inch. This nevertheless must be a mathematical demonstration. Goodness! what stuff is here for mathematicians, upon which to usurp demonstration in such wise, that it must be forbidden unto all the rest of mankind?
Mr. WREN, I have Du Moulin, and Sanderson; will you deny these authors to be good logicians? Upon the credit of my two eyes, in all their examples of demonstration, they have not one that is mathematical. Are not they clearly on my side then, that there may be demonstration, and yet not mathematical? Why sure there may, Sir; nay, and such a demonstration may be every whit as valid and convincing, as if it were mathematical. For this I appeal to Mr. Hobbes: All true ratiocination, saith he, which taketh its beginning from true principles, produceth science, and is true demonstration.Elements, p. 63. This afterwards he declares in all sorts of doctrines or arts, and consequently in the politicks, to be holding. Wherefore, say I, if we commonwealthsmen have nothing that can be so strong or holding as this same jack and jack-line of Doctor Wilkins’s, let us e’en with patience turn the spit, while our salary men eat the roast meat.
But now, Sir, mark me well: What was always so and no otherwise, and still is so and no otherwise, the same shall ever be so and no otherwise. What think you of this for a principle? A principle which is right and straight, should be such as admitteth of as little proof or denial, as that the fire burns. I can no more prove the one than the other: wherefore if you can no more deny the one than the other, by the leave of your mathematicians, this principle is no less sure and certain than the best in their art: and what ratiocination I use in my politicks, that taketh not its beginning, or is not legitimately and undeniably derived from this principle, I am contented should go for nothing. What would you have more? Or, why must I be hit in the teeth with the want of demonstration? Stand away, I will demonstrate that’s certain: but here is the mischief; not every man that pretends unto understanding in the politicks, hath conversed with them; and so in these, through mere want of understanding, a man will confidently deny, what in other conversation, where he is more skilled, he would be ashamed to question. For this cause I will not fall full butt upon the politicks at first dash, but begin fairly and softly, puris naturalibus.
That conversation, which with men is most general, I apprehend, to be with women: and so here I come with my first demonstration.
WHAT was always so, and not otherwise, and still is so, and not otherwise, the same shall ever be so, and not otherwise.
BUT, Sir, women have been always some handsome, and some unhandsome, and not otherwise, and women still are some handsome, and some unhandsome, and not otherwise.
THEREFORE, women shall ever be some handsome, and some unhandsome, and not otherwise.
Mr. WREN, the reason why I begin to demonstrate in this manner, or in something merely natural and known to every body, is, that otherwise I should never stave men off from saying, that what was always so, and not otherwise, and still is so, and not otherwise, must ever be so, and not otherwise, must needs be true; that is, except a man can give a reason why it may be otherwise. This is that when I come unto the politicks, things not less natural, but only more remote from men’s knowledge or acquaintance, which they will be all sure enough to return. Wherefore let them begin here to shew me such reason as hereafter they will ask, that is, why women, notwithstanding what is past or present, may for the future be all handsome. Would not the undertaking of such an adventure be a notable ridiculous piece of knight-errantry? in sooth, Mr. Wren, though men will not so easily see it, it is no otherwise in the politicks, which are not to be erected upon fancy, but upon the known course of nature; and therefore are not to be confuted by fancy, but by the known course of nature. Remember, Sir, anatomy is an art; but he that demonstrates by this art, demonstrates by nature, and is not to be contradicted by fancy, but by demonstration out of nature. It is no otherwise in the politicks. These things therefore being duly considered, I proceed.
WHAT always was so, and still is so, and not otherwise, the same shall ever be so, and not otherwise.
BUT where the senate was upon rotation, and had not the ultimate result, there was not any feud between the senate and the people; and where the senate is upon rotation, and hath not the ultimate result, there is no feud between the senate and the people.
THEREFORE, where the senate shall be upon rotation, and not have the ultimate result, there shall be no feud between the senate and the people.
I know the humour of these times: though any thing that will patch be now called prudence, it will be known that what is after this manner undeniably deducible from the major of these propositions, is prudence or policy, and no other.
τι.But Mr. Wren, true it is that the demonstration given is but hoti, that is, from the effect; which tho a certain effect imply a certain cause, and come after that manner to be as good and undeniable a proof as the other demonstration; yet because this is not so honourable an argument as the other, I shall now give you the same, dihoti, or from the cause.διοτ
WHERE the senate hath no interest distinct or divided from the interest of the people, there can be no feud between the senat and the people.
BUT where the senate is upon rotation, and hath not the ultimate result, there the senate can have no interest distinct or divided from the interest of the people.
THEREFORE, where the senate is upon rotation, and hath not the ultimate result, there can be no feud between the senate and the people.
Sir, this I say is dihoti: and seeing it is a custom with you to give my things a turn over the tongue, I am resolved hereafter to hoti them and dihoti them in such manner, as shall make you take your teeth. You will say, that I am a passionate gentleman. But what hath any man to do in this place to tell me of the feuds between the senate and the people of Rome, or those of the states in regulated or Gothick monarchies? did I ever undertake to hoti or dihoti any of these? if they break loose, let them look to that whom it concerneth. Nevertheless, I say, that laws, whether in commonwealths, or regulated monarchies, are made by consent of the senate and the people, or by consent of the states, or lords and commons. And I pray you Mr. Wren, what is in your allegation to confute this saying? your words are these:
IF any one of these states have, in case of difference, a just power to force the obedience of the other, it is all one as if they were private persons; but if no one of them be acknowledged to have such power, then it comes in case of disagreement to a state of war.
But doth this prove, that in case of a senate upon rotation, there may be feud between them and the people? or that laws in regulated monarchy are not enacted by the lords or commons? you might as well have argued thus, Mr. Wren: these same lords and commons have power enough to disagree, or make wars; therefore they have no power to agree or to make laws: or what doth this concern me?
But now for the jig at parting. Mr. Hobbes saith, that Aristotle and Cicero wrote not the rules of their politicks from the principles of nature, but transcribed them into their book out of the practice of their own commonwealths, as Grammarians describe the rules of language out of the practice of the times. Mr. Wren, if I had answered Mr. Hobbes thus; that the whole force of his argument amounted but to this, that because Grammarians describe the rules of language out of the practice of the times, therfore Aristotle and Cicero did so in their discourses of government; what would you have said? but because Mr. Hobbes doth not prove, but illustrate what he saith by way of similitude; therefore I answer him by way of similitude in this manner: “That for Mr. Hobbes to say, Aristotle and Cicero wrote not the rules of their politicks from the principles of nature, but transcribed them into their book out of the practice of their own commonwealths, is as if a man should say of the famous Harvey, that he transcribed his circulation of the blood, not out of the principles of nature, but out of the anatomy of this or that body.” Yet you answer me, that the whole force of this objection amounteth but to this; that because Harvey in his circulation hath followed the principles of nature, therefore Aristotle and Cicero have don so in their discourses of government. Mr. Wren, I have complained of you for repeating me fraudulently, but not so often as I might: for whereas upon this occasion I told you, “that a similitude is brought for illustration, or to shew how a thing is, not to prove that it is so:” you repeat me thus: Mr. Harrington assured me in his last book, that he produced this only as a similitude, and never intended that any man should look for reason or argument in it. Sir, though a similitude have not that proof in it, which may draw a man, yet it hath such inducement in it as may lead a man. But, why should I be troubled, seeing in the close you heartily crave my pardon? good Mr. Wren, abundantly enough: nay, no more, no more, I beseech you. Look you, do what I can, he will be making reparation too. Well then, if it must be so, what is it? why, say you, by way of reparation to Mr. Harrington, I make here a solemn declaration, that for the future he shall have no cause to accuse me for expecting reason or argument in any of his discourses. O ingenuity! he confesseth that he hath taken my similitude for an argument, my goose for my pig; and the satisfaction promised comes to this, that he will take my arguments for similitudes: when he should be shooing my goose, he is soling my pig? for which he will make, as ye shall find hereafter, this amends, that when he should be soling my pig, he will be shooing my goose. Mr. Wren, good night.
The next is the balance. Gentlemen, to-morrow we play Hunks that bears thirty dogs.
Hunks of the hear-garden to be feared if he come nigh one.