We have already seen, that the patriarchical power resembles not the regal in principle or practice: that the beginning and continuance of regal power was contrary to, and inconsistent with the patriarchical: that the first fathers of mankind left all their children independent on each other, and in an equal liberty of providing for themselves: that every man continued in this liberty, till the number so increased, that they became troublesome and dangerous to each other; and finding no other remedy to the disorders growing, or like to grow among them, joined many families into one civil body, that they might the better provide for the conveniency, safety, and defence of themselves and their children. This was a collation of every man's private right into a publick stock; and no one having any other right than what was common to all, except it were that of fathers over their children, they were all equally free when their fathers were dead; and nothing could induce them to join, and lessen that natural liberty by joining in societies, but the hopes of a publick advantage.
Such as were wise and valiant procured it, by setting up regular governments, and placing the best men in the administration; whilst the weakest and basest fell under the power of the most boisterous and violent of their neighbours. Those of the first sort had their root in wisdom and justice, and are called lawful kingdoms or commonwealths; and the rules by which they are governed, are known by the name of laws. These governments have ever been the nurses of virtue: The nations living under them have flourished in peace and happiness, or made wars with glory and advantage: whereas the other sort springing from violence and wrong, have ever gone under the odious title of tyrannies; and by fomenting vices, like to those from whence they grew, have brought shame and misery upon those who were subject to them. This appears so plainly in Scripture, that the assertors of liberty want no other patron than God himself; and his word so fully justifies what we contend for, that it were not necessary to make use of human authority, if our adversaries did not oblige us to examine such as are cited by them. This, in our present case, would be an easy work, if our author had rightly marked the passages he would make use of, or had been faithful in his interpretation or explication of such as he truly cites; but failing grossly in both, 'tis hard to trace him.
He cites the 16th chapter of the third book of Aristotle's Politicks , and I do not find there is more than twelve; or tho that wound might be cured, by saying the words are in the twelfth, his fraud in perverting the sense were unpardonable, tho the other mistake be passed over. 'Tis true that Aristotle doth there seem to doubt whether there be any such thing as one man naturally a lord over many citizens, since a city consists of equals: but in the whole scope of that chapter, book, and his other writings, he fully shews his doubt did not arise from an imagination that one man could naturally inherit a right of dominion over many not descended from him; or that they were born under a necessity of being slaves to him (for such fancies can proceed only from distemper'd brains) but that civil societies aiming at the publick good, those who by nature were endowed with such virtues or talents as were most beneficial to them, ought to be preferred. And nothing can be more contrary to the frantick whimsy of our author, who fancies an hereditary prerogative of dominion inherent in a person as father of a people, or heir, or to be reputed heir of the first father, when 'tis certain he is not, but that either he or his predecessor came in by election or usurpation, than to shew that 'tis only wisdom, justice, valour, and other commendable virtues, which are not hereditary, that can give the preference; and that the only reason why it should be given, is, that men so qualified can better than others accomplish the ends for which societies are constituted: For tho, says he, all are equally free, all are not equally endowed with those virtues that render liberty safe, prosperous, and happy. That equality which is just among equals, is just only among equals; but such as are base, ignorant, vicious, slothful, or cowardly, are not equal in natural or acquired virtues, to the generous, wise, valiant, and industrious; nor equally useful to the societies in which they live: they cannot therefore have an equal part in the government of them; they cannot equally provide for the common good; and 'tis not a personal, but a publick benefit that is sought in their constitution and continuance. There may be a hundred thousand men in an army, who are all equally free; but they only are naturally most fit to be commanders or leaders, who most excel in the virtues required for the right performance of those offices; and that, not because 'tis good for them to be raised above their brethren, but because 'tis good for their brethren to be guided by them, as 'tis ever good to be governed by the wisest and the best. If the nature of man be reason, detur digniori , in matters of this kind, is the voice of nature; and it were not only a deviation from reason, but a most desperate and mischievous madness, for a company going to the Indies, to give the guidance of their ship to the son of the best pilot in the world, if he want the skill required to that employment, or to one who was maliciously set to destroy them; and he only can have a right grounded upon the dictates of nature, to be advanced to the helm, who best knows how to govern it, and has given the best testimonies of his integrity and intentions to employ his skill for the good of those that are embarked. But as the work of a magistrate, especially if he be the supreme, is the highest, noblest, and most difficult that can be committed to the charge of a man, a more excellent virtue is required in the person who is to be advanced to it, than for any other; and he that is most excellent in that virtue, is reasonably and naturally to be preferred before any other. Aristotle having this in his view, seems to think, that those who believed it not to be natural for one man to be lord of all the citizens, since a city consists of equals, had not observed that inequality of endowments, virtues and abilities in men, which render some more fit than others, for the performance of their duties, and the work intended; but it will not be found, as I suppose, that he did ever dream of a natural superiority, that any man could ever have in a civil society, unless it be such a superiority in virtue, as most conduces to the publick good.
He confirms this in proceeding to examine the different sorts of governments, according to the different dispositions of nations; and is so bold to say, that a popular government is the best for a people, who are naturally generous and warlike: that the government of a few suits best with those, among whom a few men are found to excel others in those virtues that are profitable to societies; and that the government of one is good, when that one does so far surpass all others in those virtues, that he hath more of them than all the rest of the people together: and for the same reason that induced him to believe that equality is just amongst equals, he concludes inequality of power to be most unjust, unless there be inequality of merit; and equality of power to be so also, when there is inequality of virtue, that being the only rule by which every man's part ought to be regulated.
But if it be neither reasonable nor just that those who are not equal in virtue should be made equal in power, or that such as are equal in virtue should be unequal in power, the most brutal and abominable of all extravagancies is to make one or a few, who in virtue and abilities to perform civil functions are inferior to others, superior to all in power; and the miseries suffered by those nations, who inverting the laws of nature and reason, have placed children, or men of no virtue in the government, when men that excelled in all virtues were not wanting, do so far manifest this truth, that the pains of proving it may be spared.
'Tis not necessary for me to inquire, whether it be possible to find such a man as Aristotle calls naturâ regent, or whether he intended to recommend Alexander to the world, for the man designed by God and nature to be king over all, because no man was equal to him in the virtues that were beneficial to all. For pursuing my position, that virtue only can give a just and natural preference, I ingenuously confess, that when such a man, or race of men as he describes, shall appear in the world, they carry the true marks of sovereignty upon them: We ought to believe, that God has raised them above all, whom he has made to excel all: It were an impious folly to think of reducing him into the ordinary level of mankind, whom God has placed above it. 'Twere better for us to be guided by him, than to follow our own judgment; nay, I could almost say, 'twere better to serve such a master, than to be free. But this will be nothing to the purpose, till such a man, or succession of men do appear; and if our author would persuade us, that all mankind, or every particular, is obliged to a perpetual subjection to one man or family, upon any other condition, he must do it by the credit of those who favour his design more than Aristotle.
I know not who that will be, but am confident he will find no help from Plato: for if his principles be examined, by which a grave author's sense is best comprehended, it will appear, that all his books of laws, and of a commonwealth, are chiefly grounded upon this, that magistrates are chosen by societies, seeking their own good; and that the best men ought to be chosen for the attaining of it: whereas his whole design of seeking which is the best form of government, or what laws do most conduce to its perfection and permanency (if one rule were by nature appointed for all, and none could justly transgress it; if God had designed an universal lord over the whole world, or a particular one over every nation, who could be bound by no law), were utterly absurd; and they who write books concerning political matters, and take upon them to instruct nations how to govern themselves, would be found either foolishly to misspend their time, or impiously to incite people to rebel against the ordinance of God. If this can justly be imputed to Plato, he is not the wise man he is supposed to have been; and can less deserve the title of divine, which our author gives him: but if he remain justly free from such censures, it must be confessed, that whilst he seeks what is good for a people, and to convince them by reason that it is so, he takes it for granted, that they have a liberty of chusing that which appears to be the best to them. He first says, that this good consists in the obtaining of justice; but farther explaining himself, he shews that under the name of justice, he comprehends all that tends to their perfection and felicity; in as much as every people, by joining in a civil society, and creating magistrates, doth seek its own good; and 'tis just, that he or they who are created, should, to the utmost of their power, accomplish the end of their creation, and lead the people to justice, without which there is neither perfection nor happiness: That the proper act of justice is to give to everyone his due; to man that which belongs to man, and to God that which is God's. But as no man can be just, or desire to be so, unless he know that justice is good; nor know that it is good, unless he know that original justice and goodness, through which all that is just is just, and all that is good is good, 'tis impossible for any man to perform the part of a good magistrate, unless he have the knowledge of God; or to bring a people to justice, unless he bring them to the knowledge of God, who is the root of all justice and goodness. If Plato therefore deserve credit, he only can duly perform the part of a good magistrate, whose moral virtues are ripened and heightened by a superinduction of divine knowledge. The misery of man proceeds from his being separated from God: This separation is wrought by corruption; his restitution therefore to felicity and integrity, can only be brought about by his reunion to the good from which he is fallen. Plato looks upon this as the only worthy object of man's desire; and in his Laws and Politicks he intends not to teach us how to erect manufactures, and to increase trade or riches; but how magistrates may be helpful to nations in the manner before-mentioned, and consequently what men are fit to be magistrates. If our author therefore would make use of Plato's doctrine to his end, he ought to have proved that there is a family in every nation, to the chief of which, and successively to the next in blood, God does ever reveal and infuse such a knowledge of himself, as may render him a light to others; and failing in this, all that he says is to no purpose.
The weakness in which we are born, renders us unable to attain this good of ourselves: we want help in all things, especially in the greatest. The fierce barbarity of a loose multitude, bound by no law, and regulated by no discipline, is wholly repugnant to it: Whilst every man fears his neighbour, and has no other defence than his own strength, he must live in that perpetual anxiety which is equally contrary to that happiness, and that sedate temper of mind which is required for the search of it. The first step towards the cure of this pestilent evil, is for many to join in one body, that everyone may be protected by the united force of all; and the various talents that men possess, may by good discipline be rendered useful to the whole; as the meanest piece of wood or stone being placed by a wise architect, conduces to the beauty of the most glorious building. But every man bearing in his own breast affections, passions, and vices that are repugnant to this end, and no man owing any submission to his neighbour; none will subject the correction or restriction of themselves to another, unless he also submit to the same rule. They are rough pieces of timber or stone, which 'tis necessary to cleave, saw, or cut: This is the work of a skillful builder, and he only is capable of erecting a great fabrick, who is so: Magistrates are political architects; and they only can perform the work incumbent on them, who excel in political virtues. Nature, in variously framing the minds of men, according to the variety of uses in which they may be employ'd, in order to the institution and preservation of civil societies, must be our guide, in allotting to every one his proper work. And Plato observing this variety, affirms, that the laws of nature cannot be more absurdly violated, than by giving the government of a people to such, as do not excel others in those arts and virtues that tend to the ultimate ends for which governments are instituted. By this means those who are slaves by nature, or rendered so by their vices, are often set above those that God and nature had fitted for the highest commands; and societies which subsist only by order, fall into corruption, when all order is so preposterously inverted, and the most extreme confusion introduced. This is an evil that Solomon detested: Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low places: I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth. They who understand Solomon's language, will easily see, that the rich, and the princes he means, are such only who are rich in virtue and wisdom, and who ought to be preferred for those qualities: And when he says, a servant that reigneth is one of the three things the earth cannot bear , he can only mean such as deserve to be servants; for when they reign, they do not serve, but are served by others: which perfectly agrees with what we learn from Plato, and plainly shews, that true philosophy is perfectly conformable with what is taught us by those who were divinely inspired. Therefore tho I should allow to our author, that Aristotle, in those words, It seems to some, not to be natural for one man to be lord of all the citizens, since the city consists of equals, did speak the opinion of others rather than his own; and should confess that he and his master Plato, did acknowledge a natural inequality among men, it would be nothing to his purpose: for the inequality, and the rational superiority due to some, or to one, by reason of that inequality, did not proceed from blood or extraction, and had nothing patriarchical in it; but consisted solely in the virtues of the persons, by which they were rendered more able than others to perform their duty, for the good of the society. Therefore if these authors are to be trusted, whatsoever place a man is advanced to in a city, 'tis not for his own sake, but for that of the city; and we are not to ask who was his father, but what are his virtues in relation to it. This induces a necessity of distinguishing between a simple and a relative inequality; for if it were possible for a man to have great virtues, and yet no way beneficial to the society of which he is, or to have some one vice that renders them useless, he could have no pretence to a magistratical power more than any other. They who are equally free, may equally enjoy their freedom; but the powers that can only be executed by such as are endowed with great wisdom, justice and valour, can belong to none, nor be rightly conferred upon any, except such as excel in those virtues. And if no such can be found, all are equally by turns to participate of the honours annexed to magistracy; and law, which is said to be written reason, cannot justly exalt those, whom nature, which is reason, hath depressed, nor depress those whom nature hath exalted. It cannot make kings slaves, nor slaves kings, without introducing that evil, which, if we believe Solomon, and the spirit by which he spoke, the earth cannot bear. This may discover what lawgivers deserve to be reputed wise or just; and what decrees or sanctions ought to be reputed laws. Aristotle proceeding by this rule, rather tells us, who is naturally a king, than where we should find him; and after having given the highest praises to this true natural king and his government, he sticks not to declare that of one man, in virtue equal or inferior to others, to be a mere tyranny, even the worst of all, as it is the corruption of the best (or, as our author calls it, the most divine), and such as can be fit only for those barbarous and stupid nations, which, tho bearing the shape of men, are little different from beasts. Whoever therefore will from Aristotle's words infer, that nature has designed one man, or succession of men, to be lords of every country, must shew that man to be endowed with all the virtues, that render him fit for so great an office, which he does not bear for his own pleasure, glory or profit, but for the good of those that are under him; and if that be not done, he must look after other patrons than Aristotle for his opinion.
Plato does more explicitly say, that the civil or politick man, the shepherd, father, or king of a people, is the same, designed for the same work, enabled to perform it by the excellency of the same virtues, and made perfect by the infusion of the divine wisdom. This is Plato's monarch, and I confess, that wheresoever he does appear in the world, he ought to be accounted as sent from God for the good of that people. His government is the best that can be set up among men; and if assurance can be given, that his children, heirs or successors, shall forever be equal to him in the above-mentioned virtues, it were a folly and a sin to bring him under the government of any other, or to an equality with them, since God had made him to excel them all; and 'tis better for them to be ruled by him, than to follow their own judgment. This is that which gives him the preference: He is wise through the knowledge of the truth, and thereby becomes good, happy, pure, beautiful and perfect. The divine light shining forth in him, is a guide to others; and he is a fit leader of a people to the good that he enjoys. If this can be expressed by words in fashion, this is his prerogative; this is the royal charter given to him by God; and to him only, who is so adapted for the performance of his office. He that should pretend to the same privileges, without the same abilities to perform the works for which they are granted, would exceed the folly of a child, that takes upon him a burden which can only be borne by a giant; or the madness of one who presumes to give physick, and understands not the art of a physician, thereby drawing guilt upon himself, and death upon his patient. It were as vain to expect that a child should carry the giant's burden, and that an ignorant man should give wholsome physick, as that one who lives void of all knowledge of good, should conduct men to it. Whensoever therefore such a man, as is above-described, does not appear, nature and reason instruct us to seek him or them who are most like to him; and to lay such burdens upon them as are proportionable to their strength; which is as much as to say, to prefer every man according to his merit, and assign to every one such works as he seems able to accomplish.
But that Plato and Aristotle may neither be thought unreasonably addicted to monarchy; nor, wholly rejecting it, to have talked in vain of a monarch, that is not to be found; 'tis good to consider that this is not a fiction. Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and others, were such as they define; and were made to be such, by that communion with God which Plato requires: And he in all his writings, intending the institution of such a discipline as should render men happy, wise and good, could take no better way to bring his countrymen to it, than by shewing them that wisdom, virtue, and purity only could make a natural difference among men.
'Tis not my work to justify these opinions of Plato and his scholar Aristotle: They were men, and, tho wise and learned, subject to error. If they erred in these points, it hurts not me, nor the cause I maintain, since I make no other use of their books, than to shew the impudence and prevarication of those, who gather small scraps out of good books, to justify their assertions concerning such kings as are known amongst us; which being examined, are found to be wholly against them; and if they were followed, would destroy their persons and power.
But our author's intention being only to cavil, or to cheat such as are not versed in the writings of the ancients, or at least to cause those who do not make truth their guide, to waver and fluctuate in their discourses, he does in one page say, That without doubt Moses his history of the Creation guided these philosophers in finding out this lineal subjection : And in the next affirms, That the ignorance of the Creation, occasioned several amongst the heathen philosophers to think that men met together as herds of cattle: Whereas they could not have been ignorant of the Creation, if they had read the books that Moses writ; and having that knowledge, they could not think that men met together as herds of cattle. However, I deny that any of them did ever dream of that lineal subjection, derived from the first parents of mankind, or that any such thing was to be learnt from Moses. Tho they did not perhaps justly know the beginning of mankind, they did know the beginnings and progress of the governments under which they lived; and being assured that the first kingdoms had been those, which they called heroum regna , that is, of those who had been most beneficial to mankind; that their descendants in many places degenerating from their virtues, had given nations occasion to set up aristocracies; and they also falling into corruption, to institute democracies, or mixed governments; did rightly conclude, that every nation might justly order their own affairs according to their own pleasure, and could have neither obligation nor reason to set up one man or a few above others, unless it did appear to them that they had more of those virtues, which conduce to the good of civil societies, than the rest of their brethren.
Our author's cavil upon Aristotle's opinion, That those who are wise
in mind are by nature fitted to be lords, and those who are strong of body
ordained to obey, deserves no answer; for he plainly falsifies the
text: Aristotle speaks only of those qualities which are required for every
purpose; and means no more, than that such as are eminent in the virtues
of the mind deserve to govern, tho they do not excel in bodily strength;
and that they who are strong of body, tho of little understanding, and
incapable of commanding, may be useful in executing the commands of others:
But is so far from denying that one man may excel in all the perfections
of mind and body, that he acknowledges him only to be a king by nature
who does so, both being required for the full performance of his duty.
And if this be not true, I suppose that one who is like Agrippa Posthumus,
viribus stolidé ferox, may be fit to govern many nations; and
Moses or Samuel, if they naturally wanted bodily strength, or that it decayed
by age, might justly be made slaves, which is a discovery worthy our author's
This may have been the opinion of Suarez: but I can hardly believe such a notion, as, that Adam in process of time might have servants, could proceed from any other brain than our author's; for if he had lived to this day, he could have had none under him but his own children; and if a family be not compleat without servants, his must always have been defective; and his kingdom must have been so too, if that has such a resemblance to a family as our author fancies. This is evident, that a hard father may use his children as servants, or a rebellious, stubborn son may deserve to be so used; and a gentle and good master may shew that kindness to faithful and well-deserving servants, which resembles the sweetness of a fatherly rule: but neither of them can change their nature; a son can never grow to be a servant, nor a servant to be a son. If a family therefore be not compleat, unless it consist of children and servants, it cannot be like to a kingdom or city, which is composed of freemen and equals: Servants may be in it, but are not members of it. As truth can never be repugnant to justice, 'tis impossible this should be a prejudice to the paternal rule, which is most just; especially when a grateful remembrance of the benefits received, doth still remain, with a necessary and perpetual obligation of repaying them in all affection and duty: whereas the care of ever providing for their families, as they did probably increase in the time of our first long living fathers, would have been an insupportable burden to parents, if it had been incumbent on them. We do not find that Adam exercised any such power over Cain, when he had slain Abel, as our author fancies to be regal: The murderer went out, and built a city for himself, and called it by the name of his first-born. And we have not the least reason to believe, that after Adam's death Cain had any dominion over his brethren, or their posterity; or any one of them over him and his. He feared that whosoever saw him would kill him, which language does not agree with the rights belonging to the haughty title of heir apparent to the dominion of the whole earth. The like was practiced by Noah and his sons, who set up colonies for themselves: but lived as private men in obscure places, whilst their children of the fourth or fifth generation, especially of the youngest and accursed son, were great and powerful kings, as is fully proved in the first chapter.
Tho this had been otherwise, it would have no effect upon us; for no
argument drawn from the examples of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, if they and
their children had continued under the dominion of Noah as long as he lived,
can oblige me to resign myself and all my concernments absolutely into
the hands of one who is not my father. But when the contrary is evidently
true in them, and their next ensuing generations, 'tis an admirable boldness
in our author to think of imposing upon us for an eternal and universal
law (when the knowledge of our first progenitors is utterly extinguished)
that which was not at all regarded by those, who could not be ignorant
of their own original, or the duty thereby incumbent upon them, or their
immediate fathers then living, to whom the rights must have belonged, if
there had been any such thing in nature, or that they had been of any advantage
to them: whereas in truth, if there had been such a law in the beginning,
it must have vanished of itself, for want of being exercised in the beginning,
and could not possibly be revived after four thousand years, when no man
in the world can possibly know to whom the universal right of dominion
over the whole world or particular nations does belong; for 'tis in vain
to speak of a right, when no one man can have a better title to it than
any other. But there being no precept in the Scripture for it, and the
examples directed or approved by God himself and his most faithful servants,
being inconsistent with, and contrary to it, we may be sure there never
was any such thing; and that men being left to the free use of their own
understanding, may order and dispose of their own affairs as they think
fit. No man can have a better title than another, unless for his personal
virtues; every man that in the judgment of those concerned excels in them,
may be advanced: and those nations that through mistake set up such as
are unworthy, or do not take right measures in providing for a succession
of men worthy, and other things necessary to their welfare, may be guilty
of great folly, to their own shame and misery; but can do no injustice
to any people, in relation to an hereditary right, which can be naturally
His second error is no less gross and mischievous than the first; and that absolute power to which he would exalt the chief magistrate, would be burdensome, and desperately dangerous if he had it. The highest places are always slippery: Men's eyes dazzle when they are carried up to them; and all falls from them are mortal. Few kings or tyrants, says Juvenal, go down to the grave in peace; and he did not imprudently couple them together, because in his time few or no kings were known who were not tyrants. Dionysius thought no man left a tyranny, till he was drawn out by the heels. But Tacitus says, Nescit quam grave & intolerandum sit cuncta regendi onus. Moses could not bear it: Gideon would not accept of any resemblance of it. The moral sense of Jotham's wise parable is eternal: The bramble coveted the power, which the vine, olive and fig tree refused. The worst and basest of men are ambitious of the highest places, which the best and wisest reject; or if some, who may be otherwise well qualified [...]
[In this place two pages are wanting in the original manuscript .]
[...] as the fittest to be followed by mankind. If these philosophers
and divines deserve credit, Nimrod, Ninus, Pharaoh, and the rest of that
accursed crew, did not commit such excesses as were condemned by God, and
abhorred by good men; but gaining to themselves the glorious character
of his vicegerents, left their practices as a perpetual law to all succeeding
generations; whereby the world, and every part of it, would be forever
exposed to the violence, cruelty and madness of the most wicked men that
it should produce. But if these opinions comprehend an extravagancy of
wickedness and madness, that was not known among men, till some of these
wretches presumed to attempt the increase of that corruption under which
mankind groans, by adding fuel to the worst of all vices; we may safely
return to our propositions, that God having established no such authority
as our author fancies, nations are left to the use of their own judgment,
in making provision for their own welfare: That there is no lawful magistrate
over any of them, but such as they have set up; that in creating them,
they do not seek the advantage of their magistrate, but their own: and
having found that an absolute power over a people, is a burden which no
man can bear; and that no wise or good man ever desired it; from thence
conclude, that it is not good for any to have it, nor just for any to affect
it, tho it were personally good for himself; because he is not exalted
to seek his own good, but that of the publick.
Yet if the Apostle had not declared himself so fully in this point, we might easily have seen that Adam and Noah did leave their children in that equality; for fathers are ever understood to embrace all their children with equal affection, till the discovery of personal virtues or vices make a difference. But the personal virtues, that give a reasonable preference of one before another, or make him more fit to govern than the others, cannot appear before he is, nor can be annexed to any one line: Therefore the father cannot be thought to have given to one man, or his descendants, the government of his brethren and their descendants.
Besides, tho the law of England may make one man to be sole heir of his father, yet the laws of God and nature do not so. All the children of Noah were his heirs: The land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was equally divided among their children. If the children of Joseph made two tribes, it was not as the first born, but by the will of Jacob, who adopted Ephraim and Manasseh; and they thereby became his sons, and obtained an inheritance equal to that of the other tribes. The law allowed a double portion to the first-begotten; but this made a difference between brothers only in proportion, whereas that between lord and servant, is in specie, not in degree. And if our author's opinion might take place, instead of such a division of the common inheritance between brothers, as was made between the children of Jacob, all must continue forever slaves to one lord; which would establish a difference in specie between brethren, which nature abhors.
If nature does not make one man lord over his brethren, he can never come to be their lord, unless they make him so, or he subdue them. If he subdue them, it is an act of violence, contrary to right, which may consequently be recovered: If they make him lord, 'tis for their own sakes, not for his; and he must seek their good, not his own, lest, as Aristotle says, he degenerate from a king into a tyrant. He therefore who would persuade us, that the dominion over every nation, does naturally belong to one man, woman or child, at a venture; or to the heir, whatsoever he or she be, as to age, sex, or other qualifications, must prove it good for all nations to be under them. But as reason is our nature, that can never be natural to us that is not rational. Reason gives paria paribus, equal power to those who have equal abilities and merit: It allots to everyone the part he is most fit to perform; and this fitness must be equally lasting with the law that allots it. But as it can never be good for great nations, having men amongst them of virtue, experience, wisdom and goodness, to be governed by children, fools, or vicious and wicked persons; and we neither find that the virtues required in such as deserve to govern them, did ever continue in any race of men, nor have reason to believe they ever will, it can never be reasonable to annex the dominion of a nation to any one line. We may take this upon Solomon's word, Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning: And I wish the experience of all ages, did not make this truth too evident to us. This therefore can never be the work, much less the law of nature; and if there be any such thing in the world, as the dominion over a nation, inseparably united to a man and his family, it can have no other root, than a civil or municipal law, which is not the subject of our discourse.
Moreover, every father's right must cease, when he ceases to be, or be transmitted to those, who being also fathers, have the same title to it. And tho the contrary method of annexing the whole inheritance to one person, or exposing all his brethren to be destroyed by his rage, if they will not submit, may conduce to the enlargement of a proud and violent empire, as in Turkey; where he that gains the power, usually begins his reign with the slaughter of his brothers and nephews: yet it can never agree with the piety, gentleness and wisdom of the patriarchs, or the laws of God and nature.
These things being agreed, we need not trouble ourselves with the limits or definition of a family, and as little with the titles given to the head of it: 'Tis all one to us, whether it be confined to one roof and fire, or extended farther; and none but such as are strangers to the practice of mankind, can think that titles of civility have a power to create a right of dominion. Every man in Latin is called dominus, unless such as are of the vilest condition, or in a great subjection to those who speak to them; and yet the word strictly taken, relates only to servus, for a man is lord only of his servant or slave. The Italians are not less liberal of the titles of signore and padrone , and the Spaniards of señor; but he would be ridiculous in those countries, who thereupon should arrogate to himself a right of dominion over those who are so civil. The vanity of our age seems to carry this point a little higher, especially among the French, who put a great weight upon the word prince; but they cannot change the true signification of it; and even in their sense, prince du sang signifies no more than a chief man of the royal blood, to whom they pay much respect, because he may come to the crown; as they at Rome do to cardinals, who have the power of chusing popes, and out of whose number, for some ages, they have been chosen. In this sense did Scaevola, when he was apprehended by Porsenna, say, Trecenti conjuravimus Romanae juventutis principes; which was never otherwise understood, than of such young citizens as were remarkable amongst their companions. And nothing can be more absurd than to think, if the name of prince had carried an absolute and despotical power with it, that it could belong to three hundred in a city, that possessed no more than a ten miles territory; or that it could have been given to them, whilst they were young, and the most part of their fathers, as is most probable, still living.
I should, like our author, run round in a circle, if I should refute what he says of a regal power in our first parents; or shew, that the regal, where it is, is not absolute as often as he does assert it. But having already proved, that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, &c. enjoyed no such power; transmitted to every one of their sons that which they had, and they became fathers of many great nations, who always continued independent on each other, I leave to our author to prove, when and by what law the right of subdividing the paternal power was stopped, and how any one or more of their descendants came to have that power over their brethren, which none of their immediate children had over theirs.
His question to Suarez, how and when sons become free, savours more of Jesuitical sophistry, than anything said by the Jesuit; but the solution is easy: for if he mean the respect, veneration and kindness proceeding from gratitude, it ceases only with the life of the father to whom it is due, and the memory of it must last as long as that of the son; and if they had been possessed of such an absolute power as he fancies, it must have ceased with the reasons upon which it was grounded.
First, because the power, of which a father would probably have made a wise and gentle use, could not be rightly trusted in the hands of one who is not a father; and that which tended only to the preservation of all the children, could not be turned to the increase of the pride, luxury and violence of one, to the oppression of others who are equally heirs.
In the second place, societies cannot be instituted, unless the heads of the families that are to compose them, resign so much of their right as seems convenient into the publick stock, to which everyone becomes subject: But that the same power should, at the same time, continue in the true father, and the figurative father, the magistrate; and that the children should owe entire obedience to the commands of both, which may often cross each other, is absurd.
Thirdly, it ceases when it cannot be executed; as when men live to see four or five generations, as many do at this day; because the son cannot tell whether he should obey his father, grandfather, or great-grandfather, and cannot be equally subject to them all; most especially, when they live in divers places, and set up families of their own, as the sons of the patriarchs did: which being observed, I know no place where this paternal power could have any effect, unless in the fabulous Island of Pines; and even there it must have ceased, when he died, who by the inventor of the story, is said to have seen above ten thousand persons issued of his body.
And if it be said, that Noah, Shem, Abraham, &c. consented that their children should go where they thought fit, and provide for themselves; I answer, that the like has been done in all ages, and must be done forever. 'Tis the voice of nature, obeyed, not only by mankind, but by all living creatures; and there is none so stupid as not to understand it. A hen leaves her chickens, when they can seek their own nourishment: A cow looks after her calf no longer, than till it is able to feed: A lion gives over hunting for his whelps, when they are able to seek their own prey, and have strength enough to provide what is sufficient for themselves. And the contrary would be an insupportable burden to all living creatures, but especially to men; for the good order that the rational nature delights in, would be overthrown, and civil societies, by which it is best preserved, would never be established.
We are not concerned to examine, whether the political and oeconomical
powers be entirely the same, or in what they differ: for that absolute
power which he contends for, is purely despotical, different from both,
or rather inconsistent with either as to the same subject; and that which
the patriarchs exercised, having been equally inherited by their children,
and consequently by every one of their posterity, 'tis as much as is required
for my purpose of proving the natural, universal liberty of mankind; and
I am no way concerned in the question, whether the first parents of mankind
had a power of life and death over their children, or not.
Thus we find that a few men assembling together upon the banks of the Tiber, resolved to build a city, and set up a government among themselves: And the multitude that met at Babylon, when their design of building a tower that should reach up to heaven failed, and their language was confounded, divided themselves, as our author says, into seventy two parcels, and by the same right might have divided into more, as their descendants did, into almost an infinite number before the death of their common father Noah. But we cannot find a more perfect picture of freemen, living according to their own will, than in Abraham and Lot; they went together into Canaan, continued together as long as was convenient for them, and parted when their substance did so increase, that they became troublesome to each other. In the like manner Ishmael, Isaac, and Abraham's six sons by Keturah, might have continued together and made one nation; Isaac and Esau, Moab and Ammon might have done so too; or all of them that came of the same stock might have united together; but they did not; and their descendants by the same rule might have subdivided perpetually, if they had thought it expedient for themselves: and if the sons of Jacob did not do the like, 'tis probable they were kept together by the hope of an inheritance promised to them by God, in which we find no shadow of a despotical dominion, affected by one as father or heir to the first father, or reputed to be the heir; but all continued in that fraternal equality, which according to Abraham's words to Lot they ought to do. There was no lord, slave or vassal; no strife was to be among them: They were brethren; they might live together, or separate, as they found it convenient for themselves. By the same law that Abraham and Lot, Moab and Ammon, Ishmael, Isaac, and the sons of Keturah, Jacob, Esau, and their descendants, did divide and set up several governments, every one of their children might have done the like: and the same right remained to their issue, till they had by agreement engaged themselves to each other. But if they had no dependence upon each other, and might live together in that fraternal equality which was between Abraham and Lot; or separate, and continue in that separation, or reunite; they could not but have a right of framing such conditions of their reunion as best pleased themselves. By this means every number of men, agreeing together and framing a society, became a compleat body, having all power in themselves over themselves, subject to no other human law than their own. All those that compose the society, being equally free to enter into it or not, no man could have any prerogative above others, unless it were granted by the consent of the whole; and nothing obliging them to enter into this society, but the consideration of their own good; that good, or the opinion of it, must have been the rule, motive and end of all that they did ordain. 'Tis lawful therefore for any such bodies to set up one, or a few men to govern them, or to retain the power in themselves; and he or they who are set up, having no other power but what is so conferred upon them by that multitude, whether great or small, are truly by them made what they are; and by the law of their own creation, are to exercise those powers according to the proportion, and to the ends for which they were given.
These rights, in several nations and ages, have been variously executed, in the establishment of monarchies, aristocracies, democracies, or mixed governments, according to the variety of circumstances; and the governments have been good or evil, according to the rectitude or pravity of their institution, and the virtue and wisdom, or the folly and vices of those to whom the power was committed: but the end which was ever proposed, being the good of the publick, they only performed their duty, who procured it according to the laws of the society, which were equally valid as to their own magistrates, whether they were few or many.
This might suffice to answer our author's question; but he endeavours further to perplex it, by a fiction of his own brain, That God gave this power to the whole multitude met, and not to every particular assembly of men: And expects a proof, That the whole multitude met, and divided this power which God gave them in gross, by breaking it into parcels, and by appointing a distinct power to each commonwealth. He also fathers it upon the assertors of liberty; and does not see, as he says, how there can be an election of a magistrate by any commonwealth, that is not an usurpation upon the privilege of the whole world, unless all mankind had met together, and divided the power into parcels which God had given them in gross. But before I put myself to the trouble of answering that which is but an appendix to a whimsy of his own, I may justly ask, what hurt he finds in usurpation, who asserts, that the same obedience is due to all monarchs, whether they come in by inheritance, election or usurpation? If usurpation can give a right to a monarch, why does it not confer the same upon a people? Or rather, if God did in gross confer such a right upon all mankind, and they neither did, nor can meet together by consent to dispose of it for the good of the whole; why should not those who can, and do consent to meet together, agree upon that which seems most expedient to them for the government of themselves? Did God create man under the necessity of wanting government, and all the good that proceeds from it; because at the first all did not, and afterwards all could not meet to agree upon rules? Or did he ever declare, that unless they should use the first opportunity of dividing themselves into such parcels as were to remain unalterable, the right of reigning over everyone shall fall to the first villain that should dare to attempt it? Is it not more consonant to the wisdom and goodness of God, to leave to every nation a liberty of repairing the mischiefs fallen upon them through the omission of their first parents, by setting up governments among themselves, than to lay them under a necessity of submitting to any that should insolently aspire to a domination over them? Is it not more just and reasonable to believe, that the universal right not being executed, devolves upon particular nations, as members of the great body, than that it should become the reward of violence or fraud? Or is it possible that any one man can make himself lord of a people, or parcel of that body, to whom God had given the liberty of governing themselves, by any other means than violence or fraud, unless they did willingly submit to him? If this right be not devolved upon any one man, is not the invasion of it the most outrageous injury that can be done to all mankind, and most particularly to the nation that is enslaved by it? Or if the justice of every government depends necessarily upon an original grant, and a succession certainly deduced from our first fathers, does not he by his own principles condemn all the monarchies of the world, as the most detestable usurpations, since not one of them that we know do any way pretend to it? Or, tho I, who deny any power to be just that is not founded upon consent, may boldly blame usurpation, is it not an absurd and unpardonable impudence in Filmer, to condemn usurpation in a people, when he has declared that the right and power of a father may be gained by usurpation; and that nations in their obedience are to regard the power, not the means by which it was gained? But not to lose more time upon a most frivolous fiction, I affirm, that the liberty which we contend for is granted by God to every man in his own person, in such a manner as may be useful to him and his posterity, and as it was exercised by Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, &c. and their children, as has been proved, and not to the vast body of all mankind, which never did meet together since the first age after the Flood, and never could meet to receive any benefit by it.
His next question deserves scorn and hatred, with all the effects of either, if it proceed from malice; tho perhaps he may deserve compassion, if his crime proceed from ignorance: Was a general meeting of a whole kingdom , says he, ever known for the election of a prince? But if there never was any general meetings of whole nations, or of such as they did delegate and entrust with the power of the whole, how did any man that was elected come to have a power over the whole? Why may not a people meet to chuse a prince, as well as any other magistrate? Why might not the Athenians, Romans, or Carthaginians, have chosen princes as well as archons, consuls, dictators or suffetes, if it had pleased them? Who chose all the Roman kings, except Tarquin the Proud, if the people did not; since their histories testify, that he was the first who took upon him to reign sine jussu populi? Who ever heard of a king of the Goths in Spain, that was not chosen by the nobility and people? Or, how could they chuse him, if they did not meet in their persons, or by their deputies, which is the same thing, when a people has agreed it should be so? How did the kings of Sweden come by their power, unless by the like election, till the crown was made hereditary, in the time of Gustavus the First, as a reward of his virtue and service, in delivering that country from the tyranny of the Danes? How did Charles Gustavus come to be king, unless it was by the election of the nobility? He acknowledged by the act of his election, and upon all occasions, that he had no other right to the crown than what they had conferred on him. Did not the like custom prevail in Hungary and Bohemia, till those countries fell under the power of the House of Austria? and in Denmark till the year 1660? Do not the kings of Poland derive their authority from this popular election, which he derides? Does not the style of the oath of allegiance used in the kingdom of Aragon, as it is related by Antonio Perez secretary of state to Philip 2d, shew, that their kings were of their own making? Could they say, We who are as good as you, make you our king, on condition that you keep and observe our privileges and liberties; and if not, not; if he did not come in by their election? Were not the Roman emperors in disorderly times chosen by the soldiers; and in such as were more regular, by the senate, with the consent of the people?
Our author may say, the whole body of these nations did not meet at their elections; tho that is not always true, for in the infancy of Rome, when the whole people dwelt within the walls of a small city, they did meet for the choice of their kings, as afterwards for the choice of other magistrates. Whilst the Goths, Franks, Vandals and Saxons, lived within the precincts of a camp, they frequently met for the election of a king, and raised upon a target the person they had chosen: but finding that to be inconvenient, or rather impossible, when they were vastly increased in number, and dispersed over all the countries they had conquered, no better way was found, than to institute gemotes, parliaments, diets, cortes, assemblies of estates, or the like, to do that which formerly had been performed by themselves; and when a people is, by mutual compact, joined together in a civil society, there is no difference as to right, between that which is done by them all in their own persons, or by some deputed by all, and acting according to the powers received from all.
If our author was ignorant of these things, which are the most common in all histories, he might have spared the pains of writing upon more abstruse points; but 'tis a stupendous folly in him, to presume to raise doctrines depending upon the universal law of God and nature, without examining the only law that ever God did in a publick manner give to man. If he had looked into it, he might have learnt, that all Israel was, by the command of God, assembled at Mizpeh to chuse a king, and did chuse Saul: He being slain, all Judah came to Hebron, and made David their king; after the death of Ishbosheth, all the tribes went to Hebron, and anointed him king over them, and he made a covenant with them before the Lord. When Solomon was dead, all Israel met together in Shechem, and ten tribes disliking the proceedings of Rehoboam, rejected him, and made Jeroboam their king. The same people in the time of the judges, had general assemblies, as often as occasion did require, to set up a judge, make war, or the like: and the several tribes had their assemblies to treat of businesses relating to themselves. The histories of all nations, especially of those that have peopled the best parts of Europe, are so full of examples in this kind, that no man can question them, unless he be brutally ignorant, or maliciously contentious. The great matters among the Germans were transacted omnium consensu. De minoribus consultant principes; de majoribus omnes. The mickelgemote among the Saxons was an assembly of the whole people: The baronagium is truly said to be the same, in as much as it comprehended all the freemen, that is, all the people; for the difference between civis and seruus is irreconcilable; and no man, whilst he is a servant, can be a member of a commonwealth; for he that is not in his own power, cannot have a part in the government of others. All the forementioned northern nations had the like customs among them: The governments they had were so instituted. The utmost that any now remaining pretends to, is, to derive their right from them: If, according to Filmer, these first assemblies could not confer it upon the first, they had none: Such as claim under them, can inherit none from those that had none; and there can be no right in all the governments we so much venerate; and nothing can tend more to their overthrow than the reception of our author's doctrine.
Tho any one instance would be sufficient to overthrow his general negative proposition (for a rule is not generally true, if there be any just exception against it) I have alleged many, and find it so easy to increase the number, that there is no nation, whose original we know, out of whose histories I will not undertake to produce the like: but I have not been solicitous precisely to distinguish, which nations have acted in their own persons, and which have made use of delegates; nor in what times they have changed from one way to the other: for if any have acted by themselves, the thing is possible; and whatsoever is done by delegated powers, must be referred to their principals; for none can give to any a power which they have not in themselves.
He is graciously pleased to confess, That when men are assembled by a human power, that power that doth assemble them, may also limit the manner of the execution of that power, &c. But in assemblies that take their authority from the law of nature, it is not so; for what liberty or freedom is due to any man by the law of nature, no inferior power can alter, limit or diminish: No one man, or multitude of men, can give away the natural right of another, &c. These are strong lines, and such as, if there be any sense in them, utterly overthrow all our author's doctrine; for if any assembly of men did ever take their authority from the law of nature, it must be of such, as remaining in the entire fruition of their natural liberty, and restrained by no contract, meet together to deliberate of such matters as concern themselves; and if they can be restrained by no one man, or number of men, they may dispose of their own affairs as they think fit. But because no one of them is obliged to enter into the society that the rest may constitute, he cannot enjoy the benefit of that society unless he enter into it: He may be gone, and set up for himself, or set up another with such as will agree with him. But if he enter into the society, he is obliged by the laws of it; and if one of those laws be, that all things should be determined by the plurality of voices, his assent is afterwards comprehended in all the resolutions of that plurality. Reuben or Simeon might, according to the laws of nature, have divided themselves from their brethren, as well as Lot from Abraham, or Ishmael and the sons of Keturah from Isaac; but when they, in hopes of having a part in the inheritance promised to their fathers, had joined with their brethren, a few of their descendants could not have a right, by their dissent, to hinder the resolutions of the whole body, or such a part of it as by the first agreement was to pass for an act of the whole. And the Scripture teaches us, that when the lot was fallen upon Saul, they who despised him were styled men of Belial; and the rest, after his victory over the Ammonites, would have slain them if he had permitted. In the like manner, when a number of men met together to build Rome, any man who had disliked the design, might justly have refused to join in it; but when he had entered into the society, he could not by his vote invalidate the acts of the whole, nor destroy the rights of Romulus, Numa, and the others, who by the senate and people were made kings; nor those of the other magistrates, who after their expulsion were legally created.
This is as much as is required to establish the natural liberty of mankind in its utmost extent, and cannot be shaken by our author's surmise, That a gap is thereby opened for every seditious multitude to raise a new commonwealth: For till the commonwealth be established, no multitude can be seditious, because they are not subject to any humane law; and sedition implies an unjust and disorderly opposition of that power which is legally established; which cannot be when there is none, nor by him who is not a member of the society that makes it; and when it is made, such as entered into it, are obliged to the laws of it.
This shewing the root and foundation of civil powers, we may judge of the use and extent of them, according to the letter of the law, or the true intentional meaning of it; both which declare them to be purely human ordinances, proceeding from the will of those who seek their own good; and may certainly infer, that since all multitudes are composed of such as are under some contract, or free from all, no man is obliged to enter into those contracts against his own will, nor obliged by any to which he does not assent: Those multitudes that enter into such contracts, and thereupon form civil societies, act according to their own will: Those that are engaged in none, take their authority from the law of nature; their rights cannot be limited or diminished by any one man, or number of men; and consequently whoever does it, or attempts the doing of it, violates the most sacred laws of God and nature.
His cavils concerning proxies, and the way of using them, deserve no answer, as relating only to one sort of men amongst us, and can have no influence upon the laws of nature, or the proceedings of assemblies, acting according to such rules as they set to themselves. In some places they have voted all together in their own persons, as in Athens: In others by tribes, as in Rome: Sometimes by delegates, when the number of the whole people is so great, that no one place can contain them, as in the parliaments, diets, general assemblies of estates, long used in the great kingdoms of Europe. In other parts many cities are joined together in leagues, as anciently the Achaeans, Aetolians, Samnites, Tuscans; and in these times the states of Holland, and cantons of Switzerland: but our author not regarding such matters, in pursuance of his folly, with an ignorance as admirable as his stupidity, repeats his challenge, I ask, says he, but one example out of the history of the whole world; let the commonwealth be named, wherever the multitude, or so much as the major part of it, consented either by voice or procuration to the election of a prince; not observing, that if an answer could not be given, he did overthrow the rights of all the princes that are, or ever have been in the world: for if the liberty of one man cannot be limited or diminished by one, or any number of men, and none can give away the right of another, 'tis plain that the ambition of one man, or of many a faction of citizens, or the mutiny of an army, cannot give a right to any over the liberties of a whole nation. Those who are so set up, have their root in violence or fraud, and are rather to be accounted robbers and pirates, than magistrates. Leo Africanus observing in his history, that since the extinction of Mahomet's race (to whom his countrymen thought God had given the empire of the world) their princes did not come in by the consent of those nations which they governed, says, that they are esteemed thieves; and that on this account, the most honourable men among the Arabians and Moors, scorn to eat, drink, or make alliances with them: and if the case were as general as that author makes it, no better rule could be anywhere followed by honourable and worthy men. But a good cause must not be lost by the fault of an ill advocate; the rights of kings must not perish, because Filmer knows not how to defend, or does maliciously betray them. I have already proved that David, and divers of the judges, were chosen by all Israel; Jeroboam by ten tribes; all the kings of Rome, except Tarquin the Proud, by the whole city. I may add many examples of the Saxons in our own country: Ine and Offa were made kings, omnium consensu: These all are expressed plainly by the words, archiepiscopis, episcopis, abbatibus, senatoribus, ducibus & populo terrae. Egbert and Ethelward came to the crown by the same authority, omnium consensu rex creatur. Ethelwolf the Monk, necessitate cogente factus est rex, & consensus publicus in regem dari petiit . Ethelstan, tho a bastard, electus est magno consensu optimatum, & a populo consalutatus. In the like manner Edwin's government being disliked, they chose Edgar, unanimi omnium conspiratione; Edwino dejecto, eligerunt Deo dictante Edgarum in regem, & annuente populo; And in another place, Edgarus ab omni Anglorum populo electus est. Ironside being dead, Canute was received by the general consent of all; Juraverunt illi, quod eum regem sibi eligere vellent: foedus etiam cum principibus & omni populo ipse, & illi cum ipso percusserunt,
Whereupon, omnium consensu super totam Angliam Canutus coronatur.
gaudenter ab omnibus suscipitur & electus est. The same author
says that Edward the Confessor
electus est in regem ab omni populo:
omnium electione in Edwardum concordatur. Tho the name
of Conqueror be odiously given to William the Norman, he had the same title
to the crown with his predecessors, in magna exultatione a clero &
populo susceptus, & ab omnibus rex acclamatus. I cannot recite
all the examples of this kind, that the history of almost all nations furnishes,
unless I should make a volume in bulk not inferior to the book of martyrs:
But those which I have mentioned out of the sacred, Roman, and English
history, being more than sufficient to answer our author's challenge, I
take liberty to add, that tho there could not be one example produced of
a prince, or any other magistrate, chosen by the general consent of the
people, or by the major part of them, it could be of no advantage to the
cause he has undertaken to maintain: For when a people hath either indefinitely,
or under certain conditions and limitations, resigned their power into
the hands of a certain number of men; or agreed upon rules, according to
which persons should, from time to time, be deputed for the management
of their affairs, the acts of those persons, if their power be without
restrictions, are of the same value as the acts of the whole nation, and
the assent of every individual man is comprehended in them. If the power
be limited, whatsoever is done according to that limitation, has the same
authority. If it do therefore appear (as is testified by the laws and histories
of all our northern nations) that the power of every people is either wholly,
or to such a degree as is necessary for creating kings, granted to their
several gemotes, diets, cortes, assemblies of estates, parliaments, and
the like, all the kings that they have anywhere, or at any time chosen,
do reign by the same authority, and have the same right, as if every individual
man of those nations had assented to their election. But that these gemotes,
diets, and other assemblies of state, have everywhere had such powers,
and executed them by rejecting or setting up kings; and that the kings
now in being among us have received their beginning from such acts, has
been fully proved, and is so plain in itself, that none but those who are
grossly stupid or impudent can deny it: which is enough to shew that all
kings are not set up by violence, deceit, faction of a few powerful men,
or the mutinies of armies; but from the consent of such multitudes, as
joining together, frame civil societies; and either in their own persons
at general assemblies, or by their delegates, confer a just and legal power
upon them; which our author rejecting, he does, as far as in him lies,
prove them all to be usurpers and tyrants.
'Tis not therefore the bare sufferance of a government when a disgust is declared, nor a silent submission when the power of opposing is wanting, that can imply an assent, or election, and create a right; but an explicit act of approbation, when men have ability and courage to resist or deny. Which being agreed, 'tis evident that our author's distinction between eligere and instituere signifies nothing: tho, if the power of instituting were only left to nations, it would be sufficient; for he is in vain elected who is not instituted; and he that is instituted is certainly elected; for his institution is an election. As the Romans who chose Romulus, Numa, and Hostilius to be kings; and Brutus, Valerius, or Lucretius to be consuls, did make them so, and their right was solely grounded upon their election. The text brought by our author against this doth fully prove it, Him shah thou set king over thee whom the Lord shall chuse; for God did not only make the institution of a king to be purely an act of the people, but left it to them to institute one or not, as should best please themselves; and the words, whom the Lord shall chuse, can have no other signification, than that the people resolving to have a king, and following the rules prescribed by his servant Moses, he would direct them in their choice; which relates only to that particular people in covenant with God, and immediately under his government, which no other was. But this pains might have been saved, if God by a universal law had given a rule to all. The Israelites could not have been three hundred years without a king, and then left to the liberty of making one, or not, if he by a perpetual law had ordained that every nation should have one; and it had been as well impertinent as unjust to deliberate who should be king, if the dominion had by right of inheritance belonged to one: They must have submitted to him whether they would or not: No care was to be taken in the election or institution of him, who by his birth had a right annexed to his person that could not be altered: He could not have been forbidden to multiply silver or gold, who by the law of his creation might do what he pleased: It had been ridiculous to say, he should not raise his heart above his brethren, who had no brethren, that is, no equals; but was raised above all by God, who had imposed upon all others a necessity of obeying him. But God, who does nothing in vain, did neither constitute or elect any till they desired it, nor command them to do it themselves, unless it so pleased themselves; nor appoint them to take him out of any one line: Every Israelite might be chosen: None but strangers were excluded; and the people were left to the liberty of chusing and instituting any one of their brethren.
Our author endeavouring by Hooker's authority to establish his distinction between eligere and instituere, destroys it, and the paternal right, which he makes the foundation of his doctrine. Heaps of Scripture are alleged, says he, concerning the solemn coronation and inauguration of Saul, David, Solomon and others, by nobles, ancients, and people of the commonwealth of Israel: which is enough to prove that the whole work was theirs; that no other had any title more than what they bestowed upon him: They were set up by the nobles, ancients, and people: Even God did no otherwise intervene than by such a secret disposition of the lots by his Providence, as is exercised in the government of all the things in the world; and we cannot have a more certain evidence, that a paternal right to dominion is a mere whimsy, than that God did not cause the lot to fall upon the eldest, of the eldest line, of the eldest tribe; but upon Saul, a young man, of the youngest tribe: and afterwards, tho he had designed David, Solomon, Jeroboam, and others, who had no pretence to the paternal right to be kings, he left both the election and institution of them to the elders and people.
But Hooker being well examined, it will appear that his opinions were as contrary to the doctrine of our author, as those we have mentioned out of Plato and Aristotle. He plainly says, It is impossible that any should have a compleat lawful power over a multitude consisting of so many families, as every politick society doth, but by consent of men, or immediate appointment from God: Because not having the natural superiority of fathers, their power must needs be usurped, and then unlawful; or if lawful, then either granted or consented unto by them over whom they exercise the same, or else given extraordinarily by God. And tho he thinks kings to have been the first governors so constituted, he adds, That this is not the only regiment that hath been received in the world. The inconveniences of one kind have caused sundry others to be devised. So that in a word, all publick regiment, of what kind soever, seemeth evidently to have risen from deliberate advice, consultation and composition between men, judging it convenient and behoofeful. And a little below, Man's nature standing therefore as it doth, some kind of regiment the law of nature doth require; yet the kinds thereof being many, nature tyeth not to any one, but leaveth the choice as a thing arbitrary. And again, To live by one man's will, became all men's misery: This constrained them to come unto laws, &c. But as those laws do not only teach that which is good, but enjoin it, they have in them a constraining force. To constrain men to anything inconvenient seemeth unreasonable: Most requisite therefore it is that to devise laws, which all men should be forced to obey, none but wise men should be admitted. Moreover that which we say concerning the power of government must here be applied unto the power of making laws, whereby to govern; which power God hath over all; and by the natural law, whereunto he hath made all subject, the lawful power of making laws to command whole politick societies of men, belongeth so properly unto the same entire societies, that for any prince or potentate, of what kind soever upon earth, to exercise the same of himself, and not either by express commission immediately from God, or else by authority derived at the first from their consent, upon whose persons they impose laws, it is no better than mere tyranny. Laws therefore they are not, which publick consent hath not made so. The humour of our age considered, I should not have dared to say so much; but if Hooker be a man of such great authority, I cannot offend in transcribing his words, and shewing how vilely he is abused by Filmer; concluding, that if he be in the right, the choice and constitution of government, the making of laws, coronation, inauguration, and all that belongs to the chusing and making of kings, or other magistrates, is merely from the people; and that all power exercised over them, which is not so, is usurpation and tyranny, unless it be by an immediate commission from God; which if any man has, let him give testimony of it, and I will confess he comes not within the reach of our reasonings, but ought to be obeyed by those to whom he is sent, or over whom he is placed.
Nevertheless, our author is of another opinion; but scorning to give
us a reason, he adds to Hooker's words, As if these solemnities were
a kind of deed, whereby the right of dominion is given; which strange,
untrue, and unnatural conceits are set abroad by seedsmen of rebellion;
and a little farther, Unless we will openly proclaim defiance unto all
law, equity, and reason, we must say (for there is no remedy) that in kingdoms
hereditary, birthright giveth a right unto sovereign dominion, &c.
Those solemnities do either serve for an open testification of the inheritor's
right, or belong to the form of inducing him into the possession. These
are bold censures, and do not only reach Mr. Hooker, whose modesty and
peaceableness of spirit is no less esteemed than his learning; but the
Scriptures also, and the best of human authors, upon which he founded his
opinions. But why should it be thought a strange, untrue, or unnatural
conceit, to believe that when the Scriptures say Nimrod was the first that
grew powerful in the earth long before the death of his fathers, and could
consequently neither have a right of dominion over the multitude met together
at Babylon, nor subdue them by his own strength, he was set up by their
consent; or that they who made him their governor, might prescribe rules
by which he should govern? Nothing seems to me less strange, than that
a multitude of reasonable creatures, in the performance of acts of the
greatest importance, should consider why they do them. And the infinite
variety which is observed in the constitution, mixture, and regulation
of governments, does not only shew that the several nations of the world
have considered them; but clearly prove that all nations have perpetually
continued in the exercise of that right. Nothing is more natural than to
follow the voice of mankind: The wisest and best have ever employed their
studies in forming kingdoms and commonwealths, or in adding to the perfections
of such as were already constituted; which had been contrary to the laws
of God and nature, if a general rule had been set, which had obliged all
to be forever subject to the will of one; and they had not been the best,
but the worst of men who had departed from it. Nay, I may say, that the
law given by God to his peculiar people, and the commands delivered by
his servants in order to it, or the prosecution of it, had been contrary
to his own eternal and universal law; which is impossible. A law therefore
having been given by God, which had no relation to, or consistency with
the absolute paternal power; judges and kings created, who had no pretence
to any preference before their brethren, till they were created, and commanded
not to raise their hearts above them when they should be created; the wisdom
and virtue of the best men in all ages shewn in the constitution or reformation
of governments; and nations in variously framing them, preserving the possession
of their natural right, to be governed by none, and in no other way than
they should appoint: The opinions of Hooker, That all publick regiment,
of what kind soever, ariseth from the deliberate advice of men seeking
their own good, and that all other is mere tyranny , are not untrue
and unnatural conceits set abroad by the seedsmen of rebellion;
but real truths grounded upon the laws of God and nature, acknowledged
and practiced by mankind. And no nation being justly subject to any, but
such as they set up, nor in any other manner than according to such laws
as they ordain, the right of chusing and making those that are to govern
them, must wholly depend upon their will.
If this variety be denied, I desire to know whether the kings of Sparta and Persia had the same power over their subjects; if the same, whether both were absolute, or both limited; if limited, how came the decrees of the Persian kings to pass for laws? if absolute, how could the Spartan kings be subject to fines, imprisonment, or the sentence of death; and not to have power to send for their own supper out of the common hall? Why did Xenophon call Agesilaus a good and faithful king, obedient to the laws of his country, when upon the command of the ephori, he left the war that he had with so much glory begun in Asia, if he was subject to none? How came the ephori to be established to restrain the power of kings, if it could no way be restrained, if all owed obedience to them, and they to none? Why did Theopompus his wife reprove him for suffering his power to be diminished by their creation, if it could not be diminished? Or why did he say he had made the power more permanent in making it less odious, if it was perpetual and unalterable? We may go farther, and taking Xenophon and Plutarch for our guides, assert that the kings of Sparta never had the powers of war or peace, life and death, which our author esteems inseparable from regality, and conclude either that no king has them, or that all kings are not alike in power. If they are not in all places the same, kings do not reign by an universal law, but by the particular laws of each country; which give to every one so much power, as in the opinion of the givers conduces to the end of their institution, which is the publick good.
It may be also worth our inquiry how this inherited power came to be hereditary. We know that the sons of Vespasian and Constantine inherited the Roman empire, tho their fathers had no such title; but gaining the empire by violence, which Hooker says is mere tyranny that can create no right, they could devolve none to their children. The kings of France of the three races have inherited the crown; but Meroveus, Pepin, and Hugh Capet could neither pretend title nor conquest, or any other right than what was conferred upon them by the clergy, nobility, and people; and consequently whatsoever is inherited from them can have no other original; for that is the gift of the people which is bestowed upon the first, under whom the successors claim, as if it had been by a peculiar act given to every one of them. It will be more hard to shew how the crown of England is become hereditary, unless it be by the will of the people; for tho it were granted that some of the Saxon kings came in by inheritance (which I do not, having, as I think, proved them to have been absolutely elective) yet William the Norman did not, for he was a bastard, and could inherit nothing. William Rufus and Henry did not; for their elder brother Robert by right of inheritance ought to have been preferred before them: Stephen and Henry the second did not; for Maude the only heiress of Henry the first was living when both were crowned: Richard, John, and those who followed, did not, for they were bastards born in adultery. They must therefore have received their right from the people, or they could have none at all; and their successors fall under the same condition.
Moreover, I find great variety in the deduction of this hereditary right. In Sparta there were two kings of different families, endowed with an equal power. If the Heraclidae did reign as fathers of the people, the Aeacidae did not; if the right was in the Aeacidae, the Heraclidae could have none; for 'tis equally impossible to have two fathers as two thousand. 'Tis in vain to say that two families joined, and agreed to reign jointly: for 'tis evident the Spartans had kings before the time of Hercules or Achilles, who were the fathers of the two races. If it be said that the regal power with which they were invested did entitle them to the right of fathers, it must in like manner have belonged to the Roman consuls, military tribunes, dictators, and praetors; for they had more power than the Spartan kings; and that glorious nation might change their fathers every year, and multiply or diminish the number of them as they pleased. If this be most ridiculous and absurd, 'tis certain that the name and office of king, consul, dictator, or the like, does not confer any determined right upon the person that hath it: Everyone has a right to that which is allotted to him by the laws of the country by which he is created.
As the Persians, Spartans, Romans or Germans, might make such magistrates, and under such names as best pleased themselves, and accordingly enlarge or diminish their power; the same right belongs to all nations, and the rights due unto, as well as the duties incumbent upon everyone, are to be known only by the laws of that place. This may seem strange to those who know neither books nor things, histories nor laws, but is well explain'd by Grotius; who denying the sovereign power to be annexed to any man, speaks of divers magistrates under several names that had, and others that under the same names had it not; and distinguishes those who have the summum imperium summo modo, from those who have it modo non summo: and tho probably he looked upon the first sort as a thing merely speculative, if by that summo modo, a right of doing what one pleases be understood; yet he gives many examples of the other, and among those who had liberrimum imperium, if any had it, he names the kings of the Sabaeans; who nevertheless were under such a condition, that tho they were, as Agatharchides reports, obeyed in all things, whilst they continued within the walls of their palace, might be stoned by any that met them without it. He finds also another obstacle to the absolute power, cum rex partem habeat summi imperii, partem senatus, sive populus; which parts are proportioned according to the laws of each kingdom, whether hereditary or elective, both being equally regulated by them.
The law that gives and measures the power, prescribes rules how it should be transmitted. In some places the supreme magistrates are annually elected, in others their power is for life; in some they are merely elective, in others hereditary under certain rules or limitations. The ancient kingdoms and lordships of Spain were hereditary; but the succession went ordinarily to the eldest of the reigning family, not to the nearest in blood. This was the ground of the quarrel between Corbis the brother, and Orsua the son of the last prince, decided by combat before Scipio. I know not whether the Goths brought that custom with them when they conquered Spain, or whether they learnt it from the inhabitants; but certain it is, that keeping themselves to the families of the Balthi, and Amalthi, they had more regard to age than proximity; and almost ever preferred the brother, or eldest kinsman of the last king before his son.
The like custom was in use among the Moors in Spain and Africa, who according to the several changes that happened among the families of Almohades, Almoravides, and Benemerini, did always take one of the reigning blood; but in the choice of him had most respect to age and capacity. This is usually called the law of tanistty; and, as in many other places, prevailed also in Ireland, till that country fell under the English government.
In France and Turkey the male that is nearest in blood, succeeds; and I do not know of any deviation from that rule in France, since Henry the First was preferred before Robert his elder brother, grandchild to Hugh Capet: but notwithstanding the great veneration they have for the royal blood, they utterly exclude females, lest the crown should fall to a stranger; or a woman that is seldom able to govern herself, should come to govern so great a people. Some nations admit females, either simply, as well as males; or under a condition of not marrying out of their country, or without the consent of the estates, with an absolute exclusion of them and their children if they do; according to which law, now in force among the Swedes, Charles Gustavus was chosen king upon the resignation of Queen Christina, as having no title; and the crown settled upon the heirs of his body, to the utter exclusion of his brother Adolphus, their mother having married a German. Tho divers nations have differently disposed their affairs; all those that are not naturally slaves, and like to beasts, have preferred their own good before the personal interests of him that expects the crown, so as upon no pretence whatever to admit of one, who is evidently guilty of such vices as are prejudicial to the state. For this reason the French, tho much addicted to their kings, rejected the vile remainders of Meroveus his race, and made Pepin the son of Charles Martel king: And when his descendants fell into the like vices, they were often deposed, till at last they were wholly rejected, and the crown given to Capet and to his heirs male as formerly. Yet for all this Henry his grandchild, being esteemed more fit to govern than his elder brother Robert, was, as is said before, made king, and that crown still remains in his descendants; no consideration being had of the children of Robert, who continued dukes of Burgundy during the reigns of ten kings. And in the memory of our fathers, Henry of Navarre was rejected by two assemblies of the estates, because he differed in religion from the body of the nation, and could never be received as king, till he had renounced his own, tho he was certainly the next in blood; and that in all other respects he excelled in those virtues which they most esteem.
We have already proved, that our own history is full of the like examples, and might enumerate a multitude of others, if it were not too tedious: and as the various rules, according to which all the hereditary crowns of the world are inherited, shew, that none is set by nature, but that every people proceeds according to their own will; the frequent deviations from those rules do evidently testify, that salus populi est lex suprema; and that no crown is granted otherwise, than in submission to it.
But tho there were a rule, which in no case ought to be transgressed, there must be a power of judging to whom it ought to be applied. 'Tis perhaps hard to conceive one more precise than that of France, where the eldest legitimate male in the direct line is preferred; and yet that alone is not sufficient. There may be bastardy in the case: Bastards may be thought legitimate, and legitimate sons bastards. The children born of Isabel of Portugal during her marriage with John the Third of Castile were declared bastards; and the title of the house of Austria to that crown, depends upon that declaration. We often see that marriages which have been contracted, and for a long time taken to be good, have been declared null; and the legitimation of the present king of France, is founded solely upon the abolition of the marriage of Henry the Fourth with Marguerite of Valois, which for the space of twenty seven years was thought to have been good. Whilst Spain was divided into five or six kingdoms, and the several kings linked to each other by mutual alliances, incestuous marriages were often contracted, and upon better consideration annulled; many have been utterly void, through the preengagement of one of the parties. These are not feigned cases, but such as happen frequently; and the diversity of accidents, as well as the humours of men, may produce many others, which would involve nations in the most fatal disorders, if everyone should think himself obliged to follow such a one who pretended a title, that to him might seem plausible, when another should set up one as pleasing to others, and there were no power to terminate those disputes to which both must submit, but the decision must be left to the sword.
This is that which I call the application of the rule, when it is as plain and certain as humane wisdom can make it; but if it be left more at large, as where females inherit, the difficulties are inextricable: and he that says, the next heir is really king when one is dead, before he be so declared by a power that may judge of his title, does, as far as in him lies, expose nations to be split into the most desperate factions, and every man to fight for the title which he fancies to be good, till he destroy those of the contrary party, or be destroyed by them. This is the blessed way proposed by our author to prevent sedition: But, God be thanked, our ancestors found a better. They did not look upon Robert the Norman as king of England after the death of his father; and when he did proudly endeavour, on pretence of inheritance, to impose himself upon the nation, that thought fit to prefer his younger brothers before him, he paid the penalty of his folly, by the loss of his eyes and liberty. The French did not think the grandchild of Pharamond to be king after the death of his father, nor seek who was the next heir of the Merovingian line, when Childeric the third was dead; nor regard the title of Charles of Lorraine after the death of his brother Lothair, or of Robert of Burgundy eldest son of King Robert; but advanced Meroveus, Pepin, Capet and Henry the first, who had no other right than what the nobility and people bestowed upon them. And if such acts do not destroy the pretences of all who lay claim to crowns by inheritance, and do not create a right, I think it will be hard to find a lawful king in the world, or that there ever have been any; since the first did plainly come in like Nimrod, and those who have been everywhere since histories are known to us, owed their exaltation to the consent of nations, armed or unarmed, by the deposition or exclusion of the heirs of such as had reigned before them.
Our author not troubling himself with these things, or any other relating to the matter in question, is pleased to slight Hooker's opinions concerning coronation and inauguration, with the heaps of Scripture upon which he grounds them; whereas those solemnities would not only have been foolish and impertinent, but profane and impious, if they were not deeds by which the right of dominion is really conferred. What could be more wickedly superstitious, than to call all Israel together before the Lord, and to cast lots upon every tribe, family and person, for the election of a king, if it had been known to whom the crown did belong by a natural and unalterable right? Or if there had been such a thing in nature, how could God have caused that lot to fall upon one of the youngest tribe forever to discountenance his own law, and divert nations from taking any notice of it? It had been absurd for the tribe of Judah to chuse and anoint David, and for the other tribes to follow their example after the death of Ishbosheth, if he had been king by a right not depending on their will. David did worse in slaying the sons of Rimmon, saying, they had killed a righteous man lying upon his bed, if Ishbosheth, whose head they presented, had most unrighteously detained from him, as long as he lived, the dominion of the ten tribes: The king, elders and people, had most scornfully abused the most sacred things, by using such ceremonies in making him king, and compleating their work in a covenant made between him and them before the Lord, if he had been already king, and if those acts had been empty ceremonies conferring no right at all.
I dare not say that a league does imply an absolute equality between both parties; for there is a foedus inequale, wherein the weaker, as Grotius says, does usually obtain protection, and the stronger honour; but there can be none at all, unless both parties are equally free to make it, or not to make it. David therefore was not king, till he was elected, and those covenants made; and he was made king by that election and covenants.
This is not shaken by our author's supposition, that the people would not have taken Joash, Manasseh or Josiah, if they had had a right of chusing a king; since Solomon says, Woe unto the kingdom whose king is a child. For, first, they who at the first had a right of chusing whom they pleased to be king, by the covenant made with him whom they did chuse, may have deprived themselves of the farther execution of it, and rendered the crown hereditary even to children, unless the conditions were violated upon which it was granted. In the second place, if the infancy of a king brings woe upon a people, the government of such a one cannot be according to the laws of God and nature; for governments are not instituted by either for the pleasure of a man, but for the good of nations; and their weal, not their woe, is sought by both: and if children are anywhere admitted to rule, 'tis by the particular law of the place, grounded perhaps upon an opinion, that it is the best way to prevent dangerous contests; or that other ways may be found to prevent the inconveniences that may proceed from their weakness. Thirdly, It cannot be concluded that they might not reject children, because they did not: such matters require positive proofs, suppositions are of no value in relation to them, and the whole matter may be altered by particular circumstances. The Jews might reasonably have a great veneration for the house of David: they knew what was promised to that family; and whatever respect was paid, or privilege granted on that account, can be of no advantage to any other in the world. They might be farther induced to set up Joash, in hope the defects of his age might be supplied by the virtue, experience and wisdom of Jehoiada. We do not know what good opinion may have been conceived of Manasseh when he was twelve years old; but much might be hoped from one that had been virtuously educated, and was probably under the care of such as had been chosen by Hezekiah: and tho the contrary did fall out, the mischiefs brought upon the people by his wicked reign, proceeded not from the weakness of his childhood, but from the malice of his riper years. And both the examples of Joash and Josiah prove, that neither of them came in by their own right, but by the choice of the people. Jehoiada gathered the Levites out of all the cities of Judah, and the chief of the fathers of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem: And all the congregation made a covenant with the king in the house of God, and brought out the king's son, and put upon him the crown, and gave him the testimony, and made him king; whereupon they slew Athaliah. And when Ammon was slain, the people of the land slew them that had conspired against King Ammon; and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his stead: which had been most impertinent, if he was of himself king before they made him so. Besides, tho infancy may be a just cause of excepting against, and rejecting the next heir to a crown, 'tis not the greatest or strongest. 'Tis far more easy to find a remedy against the folly of a child (if the state be well regulated) than the more rooted vices of grown men. The English, who willingly received Henry the sixth, Edward the fifth and sixth, tho children, resolutely opposed Robert the Norman: And the French, who willingly submitted to Charles the ninth, Lewis the thirteenth and fourteenth in their infancy, rejected the lewd remainders of Meroveus his race; Charles of Lorraine with his kindred descended from Pepin, Robert duke of Burgundy with his descendants, and Henry of Navarre, till he had satisfied the nobility and people in the point of religion. And tho I do not know that the letter upon the words, Vae regno cujus rex puer est, recited by Lambarde was written by Eleutherius bishop of Rome; yet the authority given to it by the Saxons, who made it a law, is much more to be valued than what it could receive from the writer; and whoever he was, he seems rightly to have understood Solomon's meaning, who did not look upon him as a child that wanted years, or was superannuated, but him only who was guilty of insolence, luxury, folly and madness: and he that said, A wise child was better than an old and foolish king," could have no other meaning, unless he should say, it was worse to be governed by a wise person than a fool; which may agree with the judgment of our author, but could never enter into the heart of Solomon.
Lastly, tho the practice of one or more nations may indicate what laws,
covenants or customs were in force among them, yet they cannot bind others:
The diversity of them proceeds from the variety of men's judgments, and
declares, that the direction of all such affairs depends upon their own
will; according to which every people for themselves forms and measures
the magistracy, and magistratical power; which, as it is directed solely
for the good, hath its exercises and extent proportionable to the command
of those that institute it; and such ordinances being good for men, God
makes them his own.
Nevertheless I cannot but commend him in the first place for introducing God speaking so modestly, not declaring his will, but his opinion. He puts haughty and majestick language into the mouth of kings. They command and decide, as if they were subject to no error, and their wills ought to be taken for perpetual laws; but to God he ascribes an humble delivery of his opinion only, as if he feared to be mistaken. In the second place, I deny that there is any such general propensity in man or beast, or that monarchy would thereby be justified tho it were found in them. It cannot be in beasts, for they know not what government is; and being incapable of it, cannot distinguish the several sorts, nor consequently incline to one more than another. Salmasius his story of bees is only fit for old women to prate of in chimney corners; and they who represent lions and eagles as kings of birds and beasts, do it only to show, that their power is nothing but brutish violence, exercised in the destruction of all that are not able to oppose it, and that hath nothing of goodness or justice in it: which similitude (tho it should prove to be in all respects adequate to the matter in question) could only shew, that those who have no sense of right, reason or religion, have a natural propensity to make use of their strength, to the destruction of such as are weaker than they; and not that any are willing to submit, or not to resist it if they can, which I think will be of no great advantage to monarchy. But whatever propensity may be in beasts, it cannot be attributed generally to men; for if it were, they never could have deviated from it, unless they were violently put out of their natural course; which in this case cannot be, for there is no power to force them. But that they have most frequently deviated, appears by the various forms of government established by them. There is therefore no natural propensity to anyone, but they chuse that which in their judgment seems best for them. Or, if he would have that inconsiderate impulse, by which brutish and ignorant men may be swayed when they know no better, to pass for a propensity; others are no more obliged to follow it, than to live upon acorns, or inhabit hollow trees, because their fathers did it when they had no better dwellings, and found no better nourishment in the uncultivated world. And he that exhibits such examples, as far as in him lies, endeavours to take from us the use of reason, and extinguishing the light of it, to make us live like the worst of beasts, that we may be fit subjects to absolute monarchy. This may perhaps be our author's intention, having learnt from Aristotle, that such a government is only suitable to the nature of the most bestial men, who being incapable of governing themselves, fall under the power of such as will take the conduct of them: but he ought withal to have remembered, that according to Aristotle's opinion, this conductor must be in nature different from those he takes the charge of; and if he be not, there can be no government, nor order, by which it subsists: Beasts follow beasts, and the blind lead the blind to destruction.
But tho I should grant this propensity to be general, it could not be
imputed to God, since man by sin is fallen from the law of his creation.
wickedness of man (even in the first ages) was great in the world:
All the imaginations of his heart are evil, and that continually. All men
are liars: There is none that doth good, no not one. Out of the heart proceed
evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies,
&c. These are the fruits of our corrupted nature, which the Apostle
observing, does not only make a difference between the natural and the
spiritual man, whose proceeding only can be referred to God, and that only
so far as he is guided by his spirit; but shews, that the natural man is
in a perpetual enmity against God, without any possibility of being reconciled
to him, unless by the destruction of the old man, and the regenerating
or renewing him through the spirit of grace. There being no footsteps of
this in our author's book, he and his master Heylyn may have differed from
the Apostle, referring that propensity of nature to God, which he declares
to be utter enmity against him; and we may conclude, that this propensity,
however general it may be, cannot be attributed to God as the author of
nature, since it cannot be more general than the corruptions into which
we are fallen.
But waiving the opinions of men, 'tis good to see what we can learn from the Scripture, and enquire if there be any precept there expressly commanding them to make a king; or any example that they did so whilst they continued obedient to the word of God; or anything from whence we may reasonably infer they ought to have done it: all which, if I mistake not, will be found directly contrary.
The only precept that we find in the law concerning kings, is that of Deuteron. 17. already mentioned; and that is not a command to the people to make, but instructions what manner of king they should make if they desired to have one: There was therefore none at all.
Examples do as little favour our author's assertions. Moses, Joshua, and the other judges, had not the name or power of kings: They were not of the tribe to which the scepter was promised: They did not transmit the power they had to their children, which in our adversary's opinion is a right inseparable from kings; and their power was not continued by any kind of succession, but created occasionally, as need required, according to the virtues discovered in those who were raised by God to deliver the nation in the time of their distress; which being done, their children lay hid among the rest of the people. Thus were Ehud, Gideon, Jephthah, and others set up: Whosoever will give battle (say the princes and people of Gilead) to the children of Ammon, shall be head over the inheritance of Gilead: and finding Jephthah to be such a man as they sought, they made him their chief, and all Israel followed them. When Othniel had shew'd his valour in taking Kirjath-Sepher, and delivering his brethren from Cushan-Rishathaim, he was made judge: When Ehud had killed Eglon; when Shamgar and Samson had destroyed great numbers of the Philistines; and when Gideon had defeated the Midianites, they were fit to be advanced above their brethren. These dignities were not inherent in their persons or families, but conferred upon them; nor conferred, that they might be exalted in riches and glory, but that they might be ministers of good to the people. This may justify Plato's opinion, that if one man be found incomparably to excel all others in the virtues that are beneficial to civil societies, he ought to be advanced above all: but I think it will be hard from thence to deduce an argument in favour of such a monarchy as is necessarily to descend to the next in blood, whether man, woman, or child, without any consideration of virtue, age, sex, or ability; and that failing, it can be of no use to our author. But whatever the dignity of a Hebrew judge was, and howsoever he was raised to that office, it certainly differ'd from that of a king. Gideon could not have refused to be a king when the people would have made him so, if he had been a king already; or that God from the beginning had appointed that they should have one: The elders and people could not have asked a king of Samuel, if he had been king; and he could not without impiety have been displeased with them for asking for such a one as God had appointed; neither would God have said to him, They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me that I should not reign over them, if he had ordained what they desired.
They did not indeed reject God with their mouths: They pretended to use the liberty he had given them to make a king; but would have such a one as he had forbidden: They drew near to him with their lips, but their hearts were far from him; and he seeing their hypocrisy, severely chastised them in granting their ill conceived request; and foretold the miseries that should thereupon befall them, from which he would not deliver them, tho they should cry to him by reason of what they suffered from their king: He was their creature, and the mischiefs thereby brought upon them were the fruits of their own labour.
This is that which our author calls God's institution of kings; but the prophet explains the matter much better, I gave them kings in my anger, and took them away in my wrath: in destroying them God brought desolation upon the people that had sinned in asking for them, and following their example in all kind of wickedness. This is all our author has to boast of: but God who acknowledges those works only to be his own, which proceed from his goodness and mercy to his people, disowns this; Israel hath cast off the thing that is good (even the government that he had established) the enemy shall pursue him: They have set up kings, but not by me; and princes, but I know them not. As if he sought to justify the severity of his judgments brought upon them by the wickedness of their kings, that they, not he, had ordained.
Having seen what government God did not ordain, it may be seasonable to examine the nature of the government which he did ordain; and we shall easily find that it consisted of three parts, besides the magistrates of the several tribes and cities. They had a chief magistrate, who was called judge or captain, as Joshua, Gideon, and others, a council of seventy chosen men, and the general assemblies of the people.
The first was merely occasional, like to the dictators of Rome; and as the Romans in times of danger frequently chose such a man as was much esteemed for valour and wisdom, God's peculiar people had a peculiar regard to that wisdom and valour which was accompanied with his presence, hoping for deliverance only from him.
The second is known by the name of the great Sanhedrin, which being instituted by Moses according to the command of God, continued, till they were all save one slain by Herod. And the third part, which is the assembly of the people, was so common, that none can be ignorant of it, but such as never looked into the Scripture. When the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half that of Manasseh had built an altar on the side of Jordan, The whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered together at Shiloh to go up to war against them, and sent Phineas the son of Eliezer, and with him ten princes , &c. This was the highest and most important action that could concern a people, even war or peace, and that not with strangers, but their own brethren. Joshua was then alive: The elders never failed; but this was not transacted by him or them, but by the collected body of the people; for they sent Phineas. This democratical embassy was democratically received: It was not directed to one man, but to all the children of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, and the answer was sent by them all; which being pleasing to Phineas, and the ten that were with him, they made their report to the congregation, and all was quiet.
The last eminent act performed by Joshua was the calling of a like assembly to Shechem, composed of elders, heads of families, judges, officers, and all the people, to whom he proposed, and they agreeing made a covenant before the Lord.
Joshua being dead, the proceedings of every tribe were grounded upon counsels taken at such assemblies among themselves for their own concernments, as appears by the actions of Judah, Simeon, &c. against the Canaanites; and when the Levite complained that his wife had been forced by those of Gibeah, the whole congregation of Israel met together at Mizpah from all parts, even from Dan to Beersheba, as one man, and there resolved upon that terrible war which they made against the tribe of Benjamin. The like assembly was gathered together for the election of Saul, every man was there: and tho the elders only are said to have asked a king of Samuel, they seem to have been deputed from the whole congregation; for God said, Hearken to the voice of the people. In the same manner the tribe of Judah, and after that the rest chose and anointed David to be their king. After the death of Solomon all Israel met together to treat with Rehoboam; and not receiving satisfaction from him, ten of the tribes abrogated his kingdom.
If these actions were considered singly by themselves, Calvin might have given the name of a democracy to the Hebrew government, as well as to that of Athens; for without doubt they evidently manifest the supreme power to have been in the supreme manner in these general assemblies; but the government (as to its outward order) consisting of those three parts, which comprehend the three simple species, tho in truth it was a theocracy; and no times having been appointed, nor occasions specified, upon which judges should be chosen, or these assemblies called; whereas the Sanhedrin, which was the aristocratical part, was permanent, the whole might rightly be called an aristocracy, that part prevailing above the others: and tho Josephus calls it a theocracy, by reason of God's presence with his people; yet in relation to man he calls it an aristocracy, and says that Saul's first sin by which he fell from the kingdom was, that gubernationem optimatum sustulit; which could not be, if they were governed by a monarch before he was chosen.
Our author taking no notice of these matters, first endeavours to prove the excellency of monarchy from natural instinct; and then begging the question, says, that God did always govern his people by monarchy; whereas he ought in the first place to have observed that this instinct (if there be any such thing) is only an irrational appetite, attributed to beasts, that know not why they do anything; and is to be followed only by those men who being equally irrational, live in the same ignorance: and the second being proved to be absolutely false by the express words of the Scripture, There was then no king in Israel, several times repeated, and the whole series of the history, he hath no other evasion than to say, That even then the Israelites were under the kingly government of the fathers of particular families.
It appears by the forementioned text cited also by our author, that in the assembly of the people, gathered together to take counsel concerning the war against Benjamin, were four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword: They all arose together, saying, Not a man of us shall go to his tent. So all the men of Israel were gathered together against the city . This is repeated several times in the relation. The Benjaminites proceeded in the like manner in preparing for their defence; and if all these who did so meet to consult and determine were monarchs, there were then in Israel and Benjamin four hundred and twenty six thousand, seven hundred monarchs or kings, tho the Scriptures say there was not one.
If yet our author insist upon his notion of kingly government, I desire to know who were the subjects, if all these were kings; for the text says, that the whole congregation was gathered together as one man from Dan to Beersheba. If there can be so many kings without one subject, what becomes of the right of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that was to have been devolved upon one man as heir to them, and thereby lord of all? If every man had an equal part in that inheritance, and by virtue of it became a king, why is not the same eternally subdivided to as many men as are in the world, who are also kings? If this be their natural condition, how comes it to be altered, till they do unthrone themselves by consent to set up one or more to have a power over them all? Why should they divest themselves of their natural right to set up one above themselves, unless in consideration of their own good? If the 426,700 kings might retain the power in themselves, or give it to one, why might they not give it to any such number of men as should best please themselves, or retain it in their own hands, as they did till the days of Saul; or frame, limit, and direct it according to their own pleasure? If this be true, God is the author of democracy; and no asserter of human liberty did ever claim more than the people of God did enjoy and exercise at the time when our author says they were under the kingly government; which liberty being not granted by any peculiar concession or institution, the same must belong to all mankind.
'Tis in vain to say the 426,700 men were heads of families; for the Scripture only says, They were footmen that drew the sword, or rather all the men of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, who were able to make war. When six hundred Benjaminites did only remain of the 26,700, 'tis plain that no more were left of that tribe, their women and children having been destroyed in the cities after their defeat. The next chapter makes the matter yet more plain; for when all that were at the congregation in Mizpah were found to have sworn, they would not give their daughters to any of the tribe of Benjamin, no Israelite was free from the oath, but the men of Jabesh-Gilead, who had not been at the assembly: All the rest of Israel was therefore comprehended; and they continuing to govern in a popular way with absolute power, sent twelve thousand of their most valiant men to destroy all the males of Jabesh-Gilead, and the women that had lain by man, reserving the virgins for the Benjaminites. This is enough for my purpose: for the question is not concerning the power that every householder in London hath over his wife, children, and servants; but whether they are all perpetually subject to one man and family; and I intend not to set up their wives, prentices, and children against them, or to diminish their rights, but to assert them, as the gift of God and nature, no otherwise to be restrained than by laws made with their consent.
Reason failing, our author pleases himself with terms of his own invention: When the people begged a king of Samuel, they were governed by a kingly power: God out of a special love and care to the house of Israel, did chuse to be their king himself, and did govern them at that time by his viceroy Samuel and his sons. The behaviour of the Israelites towards Samuel has been thought proud, perverse, and obstinate; but the fine court word begging was never before applied to them; and their insolent fury was not only seen against Samuel, but against God; They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me. And I think Filmer is the first who ever found that beggars in begging did reject him of whom they begged: Or if they were beggars, they were such as would not be denied; for after all that Samuel had said to dissuade them from their wicked design, they said, nay, but we will have a king.
But lest I should be thought too much inclined to contradict our author,
I confess that once he hath happened to be in the right. God out of
a special love to the house of Israel chose to be their king: He gave them
laws, prescribed a form of government, raised up men in a wonderful manner
to execute it, filled them with his spirit, was ever present when they
called upon him: He gave them counsel in their doubts, and assistance in
all their extremities: He made a covenant with them, and would be exalted
by them. But what is this to an earthly monarch? Who can from hence
derive a right to any one man to play the lord over his brethren, or a
reason why any nation should set him up? God is our lord by right of creation,
and our only lord, because he only hath created us. If any other were equal
to him in wisdom, power, goodness, and beneficence to us, he might challenge
the same duty from us. If growing out of ourselves, receiving being from
none, depending on no providence, we were offered the protection of a wisdom
subject to no error, a goodness that could never fail, and a power that
nothing could resist; it were reasonable for us to enter into a covenant,
submit ourselves to him, and with all the faculties of our minds to addict
ourselves to his service. But what right can from hence accrue to a mortal
creature like to one of us, from whom we have received nothing, and who
stands in need of help as much as we? Who can from hence deduce an argument
to persuade us to depend upon his wisdom, who has as little as other men?
To submit to his will who is subject to the same frailties, passions, and
vices with the rest of mankind? Or to expect protection and defence from
him whose life depends upon as slender threads as our own; and who can
have no power but that which we confer upon him? If this cannot be done,
but is of all things the most contrary to common sense, no man can in himself
have any right over us; we are all as free as the four hundred twenty six
thousand seven hundred Hebrew kings: We can naturally owe allegiance to
none; and I doubt whether all the lusts that have reigned amongst men since
the beginning of the world, have brought more guilt and misery upon them
than that preposterous and impudent pretence of imitating what God had
instituted. When Saul set himself most violently to oppose the command
of God, he pretended to fulfill it: When the Jews grew weary of God's government,
and resolved to reject him, that he should not reign over them, they used
some of Moses his words, and asked that king of God, whom they intended
to set up against him: But this king had not been set up against God, the
people had not rejected God, and sinned in asking for him, if every nation
by a general law ought to have one, or by a particular law one had been
appointed by him over them. There was therefore no king amongst them, nor
any law of God or nature, particular or general, according to which they
ought to have one.
Aristotle having declared his mind concerning government, in the books
expressly written on that subject, whatsoever is said by the by in his
moral discourses, must be referred to and interpreted by the other: And
if he said (which I do not find) that monarchy is the best form of government,
and a popular state the worst, he cannot be thought to have meant otherwise,
than that those nations were the most happy, who had such a man as he thinks
fit to be made a monarch; and those the most unhappy, who neither had such
a one, nor a few, that any way excelled the rest; but all being equally
brutish, must take upon them the government they were unable to manage:
for he does nowhere admit any other end of just and civil government, than
the good of the governed; nor any advantage due to one or a few persons,
unless for such virtues as conduce to the common good of the society. And
as our author thinks learning makes men seditious, Aristotle also acknowledges,
that those who have understanding and courage, which may be taken for learning,
or the effect of it, will never endure the government of one or a few that
do not excel them in virtue: but nowhere dispraises a popular government,
unless the multitude be composed of such as are barbarous, stupid, lewd,
vicious, and incapable of the happiness for which governments are instituted;
who cannot live to themselves, but like a herd of beasts must be brought
under the dominion of another; or who, having amongst themselves such an
excellent person as is above described, will not submit to him, but either
kill, banish, or bring him to be equal with others, whom God had made to
excel all. I do not trouble myself, or the reader, with citing here or
there a line out of his books, but refer myself to those who have perused
his moral and political writings, submitting to the severest censures,
if this be not the true sense of them; and that virtue alone, in his opinion,
ought to give the preeminence. And as Aristotle following the wise men
of those times, shews us how far reason, improved by meditation, can advance
in the knowledge and love of that which is truly good; so we may in Filmer,
guided by Heylyn, see an example of corrupted Christians, extinguishing
the light of religion by their vices, and degenerating into beasts, whilst
they endeavour to support the personal interest of some men, who being
raised to dignities by the consent of nations, or by unwarrantable ways
and means, would cast all the power into the hands of such as happen to
be born in their families; as if governments had not been instituted for
the common good of nations, but only to increase their pride, and foment
their vices; or that the care and direction of a great people were so easy
a work, that every man, woman, or child, how young, weak, foolish or wicked
soever, may be worthy of it, and able to manage it.
But I do not more wonder that Filmer should look upon absolute monarchy to be the nurse of virtue, tho we see they did never subsist together, than that he should attribute order and stability to it; whereas order doth principally consist in appointing to everyone his right place, office, or work; and this lays the whole weight of the government upon one person, who very often does neither deserve, nor is able to bear the least part of it. Plato, Aristotle, Hooker, and (I may say in short) all wise men have held, that order required that the wisest, best, and most valiant men, should be placed in the offices where wisdom, virtue and valour are requisite. If common sense did not teach us this, we might learn it from the Scripture. When God gave the conduct of his people to Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and others, he endowed them with all the virtues and graces that were required for the right performance of their duty. When the Israelites were oppressed by the Midianites, Philistines and Ammonites, they expected help from the most wise and valiant. When Hannibal was at the gates of Rome, and had filled Italy with fire and blood; or when the Gauls overwhelmed that country with their multitudes and fury, the senate and people of Rome put themselves under the conduct of Camillus, Manlius, Fabius, Scipio, and the like; and when they failed to chuse such as were fit for the work to be done, they received such defeats as convinced them of their error. But if our author say true, order did require that the power of defending the country should have been annexed as an inheritance to one family, or left to him that could get it, and the exercise of all authority committed to the next in blood, tho the weakest of women, or the basest of men.
The like may be said of judging, or doing of justice; and 'tis absurd to pretend that either is expected from the power, not the person of the monarch; for experience doth too well shew how much all things halt in relation to justice or defence, when there is a defect in him that ought to judge us, and to fight our battles. But of all things this ought least to be alleged by the advocates for absolute monarchy, who deny that the authority can be separated from the person, and lay it as a fundamental principle, that whosoever hath it may do what he pleases, and be accountable to no man.
Our author's next work is to shew, that stability is the effect of this good order; but he ought to have known, that stability is then only worthy of praise, when it is in that which is good. No man delights in sickness or pain, because it is long, or incurable; nor in slavery and misery, because it is perpetual: much less will any man in his senses commend a permanency in vice and wickedness. He must therefore prove, that the stability he boasts of is in things that are good, or all that he says of it signifies nothing.
I might leave him here with as little fear, that any man who shall espouse his quarrel, shall ever be able to remove this obstacle, as that he himself should rise out of his grave and do it: but I hope to prove, that of all things under the sun, there is none more mutable or unstable than absolute monarchy; which is all that I dispute against, professing much veneration for that which is mixed, regulated by law, and directed to the publick good.
This might be proved by many arguments, but I shall confine myself to two; the one drawn from reason, the other from matters of fact.
Nothing can be called stable, that is not so in principle and practice, in which respect human nature is not well capable of stability; but the utmost deviation from it that can be imagined, is, when such an error is laid for a foundation as can never be corrected. All will confess, that if there be any stability in man, it must be in wisdom and virtue, and in those actions that are thereby directed; for in weakness, folly and madness there can be none. The stability therefore that we seek, in relation to the exercise of civil and military powers, can never be found, unless care be taken that such as shall exercise those powers, be endowed with the qualities that should make them stable. This is utterly repugnant to our author's doctrine: He lays for a foundation, that the succession goes to the next in blood, without distinction of age, sex, or personal qualities; whereas even he himself could not have the impudence to say, that children, and women (where they are admitted) or fools, madmen, and such as are full of all wickedness, do not come to be the heirs of reigning families, as well as of the meanest. The stability therefore that can be expected from such a government, either depends upon those who have none in themselves, or is referred wholly to chance, which is directly opposite to stability.
This would be the case, tho it were (as we say) an even wager, whether the person would be fit or unfit, and that there were as many men in the world able, as unable to perform the duty of a king; but experience shewing that among many millions of men, there is hardly one that possesses the qualities required in a king, 'tis so many to one, that he upon whom the lot shall fall, will not be the man we seek, in whose person and government there can be such a stability as is asserted. And that failing, all must necessarily fail; for there can be no stability in his will, laws or actions, who has none in his person.
That we may see whether this be verified by experience, we need not search into the dark relations of the Babylonian and Assyrian monarchies: Those rude ages afford us little instruction; and tho the fragments of history remaining do sufficiently show, that all things there were in perpetual fluctuation, by reason of the madness of their kings, and the violence of those who transported the empire from one place or family to another, I will not much rely upon them, but slightly touching some of their stories, pass to those that are better known to us.
The kings of those ages seem to have lived rather like beasts in a forest than men joined in civil society: they followed the example of Nimrod the mighty hunter; force was the only law that prevailed, the stronger devoured the weaker, and continued in power till he was ejected by one of more strength or better fortune. By this means the race of Ninus was destroy'd by Belochus: Arbaces rent the kingdom asunder, and took Media to himself. Morodach extinguished the race of Belochus, and was made king: Nebuchadnezzar like a flood overwhelmed all for a time, destroy'd the kingdoms of Jerusalem and Egypt, with many others, and found no obstacle, till his rage and pride turned to a most bestial madness: And the Assyrian empire was wholly abolish'd at the death of his grandchild Belshazzar; and no stability can be found in the reigns of those great kings, unless that name be given to the pride, idolatry, cruelty and wickedness in which they remained constant. If we examine things more distinctly, we shall find that all things varied according to the humour of the prince. Whilst Pharaoh lived, who had received such signal services from Joseph, the Israelites were well used: but when another rose up who knew him not, they were persecuted with all the extremities of injustice and cruelty, till the furious king persisting in his design of exterminating them, brought destruction upon himself and the nation. Where the like power hath prevailed, it has ever produced the like effects. When some great men of Persia had persuaded Darius, that it was a fine thing to command, that no man for the space of thirty days should make any petition to God or man, but to the king only, Daniel the most wise and holy man then in the world must be thrown to the lions. When God had miraculously saved him, the same sentence was passed against the princes of the nation. When Haman had filled Ahasuerus his ears with lies, all the Jews were appointed to be slain; and when the fraud of that villain was detected, leave was given them, with the like precipitancy, to kill whom they pleased. When the Israelites came to have kings, they were made subject to the same storms, and always with their blood suffer'd the penalty of their prince's madness. When one kind of fury possessed Saul, he slew the priests, persecuted David, and would have killed his brave son Jonathan: When he fell under another, he took upon him to do the priest's office, pretended to understand the word of God better than Samuel, and spared those that God had commanded him to destroy: Upon another whimsy he killed the Gibeonites, and never rested from finding new inventions to vex the people, till he had brought many thousands of them to perish with himself and his sons on Mount Gilboa. We do not find any king, in wisdom, valour and holiness, equal to David; and yet he falling under the temptations that attend the greatest fortunes, brought civil wars and a plague upon the nation. When Solomon's heart was drawn away by strange women, he filled the land with idols, and oppressed the people with intolerable tributes. Rehoboam's folly made that rent in the kingdom which could never be made up. Under his successors the people served God, Baal or Ashtaroth, as best pleased him who had the power; and no other marks of stability can be alleged to have been in that kingdom, than the constancy of their kings in the practice of idolatry, their cruelty to the prophets, hatred to the Jews, and civil wars producing such slaughters as are reported in few other stories: The kingdom was in the space of about two hundred years possessed by nine several families, not one of them getting possession otherwise than by the slaughter of his predecessor, and the extinction of his race; and ended in the bondage of the ten tribes, which continues to this day.
He that desires farther proofs of this point, may seek them in the histories of Alexander of Macedon, and his successors: He seems to have been endow'd with all the virtues that nature improved by discipline did ever attain, so that he is believed to be the man meant by Aristotle, who on account of the excellency of his virtues was by nature framed for a king; and Plutarch ascribes his conquests rather to those, than to his fortune: But even that virtue was overthrown by the successes that accompanied it: He burnt the most magnificent palace of the world, in a frolick, to please a mad drunken whore: Upon the most frivolous suggestions of eunuchs and rascals, he kill'd the best and bravest of his friends; and his valour, which had no equal, not subsisting without his other virtues, perished when he became lewd, proud, cruel and superstitious; so as it may be truly said, he died a coward. His successors did not differ from him: When they had killed his mother, wife and children, they exercised their fury against one another; and tearing the kingdom to pieces, the survivors left the sword as an inheritance to their families, who perished by it, or under the weight of the Roman chains.
When the Romans had lost that liberty which had been the nurse of their virtue, and gained the empire in lieu of it, they attained to our author's applauded stability. Julius being slain in the senate, the first question was, whether it could be restored, or not? And that being decided by the battle of Philippi, the conquerors set themselves to destroy all the eminent men in the city, as the best means to establish the monarchy. Augustus gained it by the death of Antonius, and the corruption of the soldiers; and he dying naturally, or by the fraud of his wife, the empire was transferred to her son Tiberius; under whom the miserable people suffer'd the worst effects of the most impure lust and inhuman cruelty: He being stifled, the government went on with much uniformity and stability; Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius regularly and constantly did all the mischief they could, and were not more like to each other in the villainies they committed, than in the deaths they suffered. Vespasian's more gentle reign did no way compensate the blood he spilt to attain the empire: And the benefits received from Titus his short-liv'd virtue, were infinitely overbalanced by the detestable vices of his brother Domitian, who turned all things into the old channel of cruelty, lust, rapine and perfidiousness. His slaughter gave a little breath to the gasping perishing world; and men might be virtuous under the government of Nerva, Trajan, Antoninus, Aurelius, and a few more; tho even in their time religion was always dangerous. But when the power fell into the hands of Commodus, Heliogabalus, Caracalla, and others of that sort, nothing was safe but obscurity, or the utmost excesses of lewdness and baseness. However, whilst the will of the governor passed for a law, and the power did usually fall into the hands of such as were most bold and violent, the utmost security that any man could have for his person or estate, depended upon his temper; and princes themselves, whether good or bad, had no longer leases of their lives, than the furious and corrupted soldiers would give them; and the empire of the world was changeable, according to the success of a battle.
Matters were not much mended when the emperors became Christians: Some favour'd those who were called Orthodox, and gave great revenues to corrupt the clergy. Others supported Arianism, and persecuted the Orthodox with as much asperity as the pagans had done. Some revolted, and shewed themselves more fierce against the professors of Christianity, than they that had never had any knowledge of it. The world was torn in pieces amongst them, and often suffered as great miseries by their sloth, ignorance and cowardice, as by their fury and madness, till the empire was totally dissolved and lost. That which under the weakness and irregularity of a popular government, had conquer'd all from the Euphrates to Britain, and destroyed the kingdoms of Asia, Egypt, Macedon, Numidia, and a multitude of others, was made a prey to unknown barbarous nations, and rent into as many pieces as it had been composed of, when it enjoy'd the stability that accompanies divine and absolute monarchy.
The like may be said of all the kingdoms in the world; they may have their ebbings and flowings according to the virtues or vices of princes or their favorites; but can never have any stability, because there is, and can be none in them: Or if any exception may be brought against this rule, it must be of those monarchies only which are mixed and regulated by laws, where diets, parliaments, assemblies of estates or senates, may supply the defects of a prince, restrain him if he prove extravagant, and reject such as are found to be unworthy of their office, which are as odious to our author and his followers, as the most popular governments, and can be of no advantage to his cause.
There is another ground of perpetual fluctuation in absolute monarchies; or such as are grown so strong, that they cannot be restrained by law, tho according to their institution they ought to be, distinct from, but in some measure relating to the inclinations of the monarch, that is, the impulse of ministers, favorites, wives or whores, who frequently govern all things according to their own passions or interests. And tho we cannot say who were the favorites of every one of the Assyrian or Egyptian kings, yet the examples before-mentioned of the different method follow'd in Egypt before, and after the death of Joseph, and in Persia whilst the idolatrous princes, and Haman, or Daniel, Esther and Mordecai were in credit; the violent changes happening thereupon, give us reason to believe the like were in the times of other kings: and if we examine the histories of later ages, and the lives of princes that are more exactly known, we shall find that kingdoms are more frequently swayed by those who have power with the prince, than by his own judgment: So that whosoever hath to deal with princes concerning foreign or domestick affairs, is obliged more to regard the humour of those persons, than the most important interests of a prince or people.
I might draw too much envy upon myself, if I should take upon me to cite all the examples of this kind that are found in modern histories, or the memoirs that do more precisely shew the temper of princes, and the secret springs by which they were moved. But as those who have well observed the management of affairs in France during the reigns of Francis the First, Henry the Second, Francis the Second, Charles the Ninth, Henry the Third, Henry the Fourth, and Lewis the Thirteenth, will confess, that the interests of the dukes of Montmorency and Guise, Queen Catherine de Medici, the duke of Epernon, La Fosseuse, Madame de Guiche, de Gabriele, d' Entragues, the Marechal d'Ancre, the Constable de Luines, and the Cardinal de Richelieu, were more to be consider'd by those who had any private or publick business to treat at court, than the opinions of those princes, or the most weighty concernments of the state; so it cannot be denied, that other kingdoms where princes legally have, or wrongfully usurp the like power, are governed in the like manner; or if it be, there is hardly any prince's reign that will not furnish abundant proof of what I have asserted.
I agree with our author, that good order and stability produce strength . If monarchy therefore excel in them, absolute monarchies should be of more strength than those that are limited according to the proportion of their riches, extent of territory, and number of people that they govern; and those limited monarchies in the like proportion more strong than popular governments or commonwealths. If this be so, I wonder how a few of those giddy Greeks who, according to our author, had learning enough only to make them seditious, came to overthrow those vast armies of the Persians as often as they met with them; and seldom found any other difficulty than what did arise from their own countrymen, who sometimes sided with the barbarians. Seditions are often raised by a little prating; but when one man was to fight against fifty, or a hundred, as at the battles of Salamis, Plataea, Marathon, and others, then industry, wisdom, skill and valour was required; and if their learning had not made them to excel in those virtues, they must have been overwhelmed by the prodigious multitudes of their enemies. This was so well known to the Persians, that when Cyrus the younger prepar'd to invade his brother Artaxerxes, he brought together indeed a vast army of Asiaticks; but chiefly relied upon the counsel and valour of ten thousand Grecians, whom he had engaged to serve him. These giddy heads, accompanied with good hands, in the great battle near Babylon, found no resistance from Artaxerxes his army; and when Cyrus was killed by accident in the pursuit of the victory they had gained, and their own officers treacherously murder'd, they made good their retreat into Greece under the conduct of Xenophon, in despite of above four hundred thousand horse and foot, who endeavour'd to oppose them. They were destitute of horse, money, provisions, friends and all other help, except what their wisdom and valour furnished them; and thereupon relying, they passed over the bellies of all the enemies that ventur'd to appear against them in a march of a thousand miles. These things were performed in the weakness of popular confusion; but Agesilaus not being sensible of so great defects, accompanied only with six and thirty Spartans, and such other forces as he could raise upon his personal credit, adventured without authority or money to undertake a war against that great king Artaxerxes; and having often beaten Pharnabazus and Tissaphernes his lieutenants, was preparing to assault him in the heart of his kingdom, when he was commanded by the ephori to return for the defence of his own country.
It may in like manner appear strange, that Alexander with the forces of Greece, much diminished by the Phocaean, Peloponnesian, Theban, and other intestine wars, could overthrow all the powers of the East, and conquer more provinces than any other army ever saw; if so much order and stability were to be found in absolute monarchies, and if the liberty in which the Grecians were educated did only fit them for seditions: and it would seem no less astonishing, that Rome and Greece, whilst they were free, should furnish such numbers of men excelling in all moral virtues, to the admiration of all succeeding ages; and thereby become so powerful that no monarchs were able to resist them; and that the same countries since the loss of their liberty, have always been weak, base, cowardly and vicious, if the same liberty had not been the mother and nurse of their virtue, as well as the root of their power.
It cannot be said that Alexander was a monarch in our author's sense;
for the power of the Macedonian kings was small. Philip confessed the people
were freemen, and his son found them to be so, when his fortune had overthrown
his virtue, and he fell to hate and fear that generosity of spirit which
it creates. He made his conquests by it, and lov'd it as long as he deserved
to be lov'd. His successors had the same fortune: When their hearts came
to be filled with barbarick pride, and to delight only in rendering men
slaves, they became weak and base, and were easily overthrown by the Romans,
whose virtue and fortune did also perish with their liberty. All the nations
they had to deal with, had the same fate. They never conquer'd a free people
without extreme difficulty: They received many great defeats, and were
often necessitated to fight for their lives against the Latins, Sabines,
Tuscans, Samnites, Carthaginians, Spaniards; and in the height of their
power found it a hard work to subdue a few poor Aetolians: But the greatest
kings were easily overcome. When Antiochus had insolently boasted that
he would cover Greece and Italy with the multitude of his troops, Quintus
Flaminius ingeniously compared his army of Persians, Chaldeans, Syrians,
Mesopotamians, Cappadocians, Arabians, and other base Asiatic slaves, to
a supper set before him by a Grecian friend, which seeming to be of several
sorts of venison, was all cut out of one hog, variously dress'd; and not
long after was as easily slaughter'd as the hog had been. The greatest
danger of the war with Mithridates was to avoid his poisons and treacheries;
and to follow him through the deserts where he fled. When Lucullus with
less than twenty thousand men had put Tigranes with two hundred thousand
to flight, the Roman soldiers who for a while had pursued the chase, stood
still on a sudden, and fell into loud laughter at themselves for using
their arms against such wretched cowardly slaves. If this be not enough
to prove the falsehood of our author's proposition, I desire it may be
consider'd whether good order or stability be wanting in Venice: Whether
Tuscany be in a better condition to defend itself since it fell under the
power of the Medicis, or when it was full of free cities: Whether it were
an easy work to conquer Switzerland: Whether the Hollanders are of greater
strength since the recovery of their liberty, or when they groaned under
the yoke of Spain: And lastly, whether the entire conquest of Scotland
and Ireland, the victories obtained against the Hollanders when they were
in the height of their power, and the reputation to which England did rise
in less than five years after 1648, be good marks of the instability, disorder,
and weakness of free nations: And if the contrary be true, nothing can
be more absurdly false than our author's assertion.
It were ridiculous to impute this to chance, or to think that fortune, which of all things is the most variable, could for so many ages continue the same course, unless supported by virtue; or to suppose that all these monarchies which are so much extoll'd, could have been destroyed by that commonwealth, if it had wanted strength, stability, virtue, or good order. The secret counsels of God are impenetrable; but the ways by which he accomplishes his designs are often evident: When he intends to exalt a people, he fills both them and their leaders with the virtues suitable to the accomplishment of his end; and takes away all wisdom and virtue from those he resolves to destroy. The pride of the Babylonians and Assyrians fell through the baseness of Sardanapalus; and the great city was taken while Belshazzar lay drunk amongst his whores: The empire was transported to the Persians and Grecians by the valor of Cyrus, Alexander, and the brave armies that follow'd them. Histories furnish us with innumerable examples of this kind: But I think none can be found of a cowardly, weak, effeminate, foolish, ill disciplin'd people, that have ever subdued such as were eminent in strength, wisdom, valor, and good discipline; or that these qualities have been found or subsisted anywhere, unless they were cultivated and nourished by a well order'd government. If this therefore was found among the Romans, and not in the kingdoms they overthrew, they had the order and stability which the monarchies had not; and the strength and virtue by which they obtained such success was the product of them. But if this virtue and the glorious effects of it did begin with liberty, it did also expire with the same. The best men that had not fallen in battle were gleaned up by the proscriptions, or circumvented for the most part by false and frivolous accusations. Mankind is inclin'd to vice, and the way to virtue is so hard, that it wants encouragement; but when all honours, advantages and preferments are given to vice, and despised virtue finds no other reward than hatred, persecution, and death, there are few who will follow it. Tacitus well describes the state of the empire, when the power was absolutely fallen into the hands of one: Italia novis cladibus, vel post longam seculorum seriem repetitis, afflicta; urbs incendiis vastata, consumptis antiquissimis delubris, ipso Capitolio civium manibus incenso; pollutae ceremoniae; magna adulteria; plenum exiliis mare; infecti caedibus scopuli; atrocius in urbe saevitum; nobilitas, opes, omissi vel gesti honores pro crimine, & ob virtutes certissimum exitium. His following words shew, that the rewards of these abominations were not less odious than the things themselves: The highest dignities were bestowed upon the delatores, who were a kind of rogues like to our Irish witnesses, or those that by a new coin'd word we call trepanners. This is not a picture drawn by a vulgar hand, but by one of the best painters in the world; and being a model that so much pleases our author, 'tis good to see what it produced. The first fruit was such an entire degeneracy from all good, that Rome may be justly said never to have produced a brave man since the first age of her slavery. Germanicus and Corbulo were born expirante libertate; and the recompence they received did so little encourage others to follow their example, that none have been found in any degree like to them; and those of the most noble families applied themselves to sleep, laziness, and luxury, that they might not be suspected to be better than their masters. Thrasea, Soranus, and Helvidius were worthy men, who resolved to persist in their integrity, tho they should die for it; but that was the only thing that made them eminent; for they were of unknown families, not Romans by birth, nor ever employ'd in war: And those emperors who did arrive to any degree of virtue, were Spaniards, Gauls, Africans, Thracians, and of all nations, except Romans. The patrician and plebeian families, which for many ages had fill'd the world with great commanders, and such as excelled in all virtues, being thus extinguished or corrupted, the common people fell into the lowest degree of baseness: Plebs sordida circo & theatris sueta. That people which in magnanimity surpassed all that have been known in the world; who never found any enterprize above their spirit to undertake, and power to accomplish, with their liberty lost all their vigour and virtue. They who by their votes had disposed of kingdoms and provinces, fell to desire nothing but to live and see plays.
Duas tantum res anxius optat,
Pattern & circenses.
Whether their emperors were good or bad, they usually rejoic'd at their
death, in hopes of getting a little money or victuals from the successor.
Tho the empire was by this means grown weak and bloodless, yet it could
not fall on a sudden: So vast a body could not die in a moment: All the
neighbouring nations had been so much broken by their power, that none
was able to take advantage of their weakness; and life was preserved by
the strength of hungry barbarians, allured by the greatness of the pay
they received to defend those, who had no power left to defend themselves.
This precarious and accidental help could not be durable. They who for
a while had been contented with their wages, soon began to think it fit
for them rather to fight for themselves, than for their weak masters; and
thereupon fell to set up emperors depending on themselves, or to seize
upon the naked provinces, where they found no other difficulty than to
contend with other strangers, who might have the like design upon the same.
Thus did the armies of the East and West set up emperors at their pleasure;
and tho the Goths, Vandals, Huns, Sueves, Alans, and others had cruel wars
among themselves, yet they feared and suffered little or nothing from the
Romans. This state of things was so soon observed, that in the beginning
of Tiberius his reign they who endeavoured to excite the Gauls to take
arms, used no other arguments than such as were drawn from the extreme
weakness of the Romans, Quam inops Italia, plebs urbana imbellis, nihil
in exercitibus validum praeter externum. It was evident that after
the battles of Philippi and Actium, the strength of the Roman armies consisted
of strangers; and even the victories that went under their name were gained
by those nations which in the time of their liberty they had subdued. They
had nothing left but riches gather'd out of their vast dominions; and they
learnt by their ruin, that an empire acquir'd by virtue could not long
be supported by money. They who by their valour had arrived at such a height
of glory, power, greatness, and happiness as was never equalled, and who
in all appearance had nothing to fear from any foreign power, could never
have fallen, unless their virtue and discipline had decay'd, and the corruption
of their manners had excited them to turn their victorious swords into
their own bowels. Whilst they were in that flourishing condition, they
thought they had nothing more to desire than continuance: but if our author's
judgment is to be followed, there was nothing of good in it, except
the shortness of its continuance ; they were beholden to those who
wrought the change, they were the better for the battles of Pharsalia,
Philippi, Munda, and Actium; the destruction of two thirds of the people,
with the slaughter of all the most eminent men among them was for their
advantage: The proscriptions were wholesome remedies: Tacitus did not understand
the state of his own country, when he seems to be ashamed to write the
history of it, Nobis in arcto & inglorius labor; when instead
of such glorious things as had been achieved by the Romans, whilst either
the senate, or the common people prevailed, he had nothing left to relate,
but saeva jussa, continuas accusationes, fallaces amicitias, perniciem
innocentium. They enjoy'd nothing that was good from the expulsion
of the Tarquins to the reestablishment of divine absolute monarchy in the
persons of those pious fathers of the people, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius,
Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, &c. There was no virtue in the Junii,
Horatii, Cornelii, Quintii, Decii, Manlii; but the generous and tender-hearted
princes before-mentioned were perfect examples of it: Whilst annual magistrates
governed, there was no stability; Sejanus, Macro, and Tigellinus introduced
good order: Virtue was not esteemed by the ancient senate and people; Messalina,
Agrippina, Poppaea, Narcissus, Pallas, Vinius, and Laco knew how to put
a just value upon it: The irregularities of popular assemblies, and want
of prudence in the senate, was repaired by the temperate proceedings of
the German, Pannonian and Eastern armies, or the modest discretion of the
Praetorian bands: The city was delivered by them from the burden of governing
the world, and for its own good frequently plunder'd, fired; and at last,
with the rest of desolated Italy, and the noblest provinces of Europe,
Asia, and Africa, brought under the yoke of the most barbarous and cruel
nations. By the same light we may see that those who endeavour'd to perpetuate
the misery of liberty to Rome, or lost their lives in the defence of it,
were the worst, or the most foolish of men, and that they were the best
who did overthrow it. This rectifies all our errors; and if the highest
praises are due to him that did the work, the next are well deserved by
those who perished in attempting it: and if the sons of Brutus, with their
companions the Vitellii and Aquilii; Claudius Appius the decemvir; those
that would have betrayed the city to Porsenna; Spurius Maelius, Spur. Cassius,
Manlius Capitolinus, Saturninus, Catiline, Cethegus, Lentulus, had been
as fortunate as Julius Caesar, they might as well have deserved an apotheosis.
But if all this be false, absurd, bestial, and abominable, the principles
that necessarily lead us to such conclusions are so also; which is enough
to shew, that the strength, virtue, glory, wealth, power, and happiness
of Rome proceeding from liberty, did rise, grow, and perish with it.
1. That no change of magistracy, as to the name, number, or form, doth testify irregularity, or bring any manner of prejudice, as long as it is done by those who have a right of doing it, and he or they who are created continue within the power of the law to accomplish the end of their institution; many forms being in themselves equally good, and may be used as well one as another, according to times and other circumstances.
2. In the second place, 'tis a rare thing for a city at the first to be rightly constituted: Men can hardly at once foresee all that may happen in many ages, and the changes that accompany them ought to be provided for. Rome in its foundation was subject to these defects, and the inconveniences arising from them were by degrees discover'd and remedi'd. They did not think of regulating usury, till they saw the mischiefs proceeding from the cruelty of usurers; or setting limits to the proportion of land that one man might enjoy, till the avarice of a few had so far succeeded, that their riches were grown formidable, and many by the poverty to which they were reduced became useless to the city. It was not time to make a law that the plebeians might marry with the patricians, till the distinction had raised the patricians to such pride, as to look upon themselves to have something of divine, and the others to be inauspicati or profane, and brought the city into danger by that division; nor to make the plebeians capable of being elected to the chief magistracies, till they had men able to perform the duties of them. But these things being observed, remedies were seasonably applied without any bloodshed or mischief, tho not without noise and wrangling.
3. All human constitutions are subject to corruption, and must perish, unless they are timely renewed, and reduced to their first principles: This was chiefly done by means of those tumults which our author ignorantly blames: The whole people by whom the magistracy had been at first created, executed their power in those things which comprehend sovereignty in the highest degree, and brought everyone to acknowledge it: There was nothing that they could not do, who first conferr'd the supreme honours upon the patricians, and then made the plebeians equal to them. Yet their modesty was not less than their power or courage to defend it: and therefore when by the law they might have made a plebeian consul, they did not chuse one in forty years; and when they did make use of their right in advancing men of their own order, they were so prudent, that they cannot be said to have been mistaken in their elections three times, whilst their votes were free: whereas, of all the emperors that came in by usurpation, pretence of blood from those who had usurped, or that were set up by the soldiers, or a few electors, hardly three can be named who deserved that honour, and most of them were such as seemed to be born for plagues to mankind.
4. He manifests his fraud or ignorance in attributing the legislative power sometimes to the senate, and sometimes to the people; for the senate never had it. The style of senatus censuit, populus jussit, was never alter'd; but the right of advising continuing in the senate, that of enacting ever continued in the people.
5. An occasion of commending absolute power, in order to the establishment of hereditary monarchy, is absurdly drawn from their custom of creating a dictator in time of danger; for no man was ever created, but such as seemed able to bear so great a burden, which in hereditary governments is wholly left to chance. Tho his power was great, it did arise from the law; and being confin'd to six months, 'twas almost impossible for any man to abuse it, or to corrupt so many of those who had enjoy'd the same honour, or might aspire to it, as to bring them for his pleasure to betray their country: and as no man was ever chosen who had not given great testimonies of his virtues, so no one did ever forfeit the good opinion conceived of him. Virtue was then honour'd, and thought so necessarily to comprehend a sincere love and fidelity to the commonwealth, that without it the most eminent qualities were reputed vile and odious; and the memory of former services could no way expiate the guilt of conspiring against it. This seeming severity was in truth the greatest clemency: for tho our author has the impudence to say, that during the Roman liberty the best men thrived worst, and the worst best, he cannot allege one example of any eminent Roman put to death (except Manlius Capitolinus) from the expulsion of the Tarquins to the time of the Gracchi, and the Civil Wars not long after ensuing; and of very few who were banished. By these means crimes were prevented; and the temptations to evil being removed, treachery was destroy'd in the root; and such as might be naturally ambitious, were made to see there was no other way to honour and power than by acting virtuously.
But lest this should not be sufficient to restrain aspiring men, what
power soever was granted to any magistrate, the sovereignty still remained
in the people, and all without exception were subject to them. This may
seem strange to those who think the dictators were absolute, because they
are said to have been sine provocation; but that is to be only understood
in relation to other magistrates, and not to the people, as is clearly
proved in the case of Q. Fabius, whom Papirius the dictator would have
put to death: Tribunos plebis appello, says Fabius Maximus his father,
& provoco ad populum, eumque tibi fugienti exercitus tui, fugienti
senatus judicium, judicem fero; qui certe unus plusquam tua dictatura potest
polletque: videro, cessurusne sis provocationi, cui Tullus Hostilius cessit.
And tho the people did rather intercede for Fabius than command his deliverance,
that modesty did evidently proceed from an opinion that Papirius was in
the right; and tho they desired to save Fabius, who seems to have been
one of the greatest and best men that ever the city produced, they would
not enervate that military discipline, to which they owed, not only their
greatness, but their subsistence; most especially when their sovereign
authority was acknowledged by all, and the dictator himself had submitted.
This right of appeals to the people was the foundation of the Roman commonwealth,
laid in the days of Romulus, submitted to by Hostilius in the case of Horatius,
and never violated, till the laws and the liberty which they supported
were overthrown by the power of the sword. This is confirmed by the speech
of Metellus the tribune, who in the time of the second Carthaginian War,
causelessly disliking the proceedings of Q. Fabius Maximus then dictator,
in a publick assembly of the people said, Quod si antiquus animus plebi
Romanae esset, se audacter laturum de abrogando Q. Fabii imperio; nunc
modicam rogationem promulgaturum, de aequando magistri equitum & dictatoris
jure: which was done, and that action, which had no precedent, shews
that the people needed none, and that their power being eminently above
that of all magistrates was obliged to no other rule than that of their
own will. Tho I do therefore grant that a power like to the dictatorian,
limited in time, circumscribed by law, and kept perpetually under the supreme
authority of the people, may, by virtuous and well-disciplin'd nations,
upon some occasions, be prudently granted to a virtuous man, it can have
no relation to our author's monarch, whose power is in himself, subject
to no law, perpetually exercised by himself, and for his own sake, whether
he have any of the abilities required for the due performance of so great
a work, or be entirely destitute of them; nothing being more unreasonable
than to deduce consequences from cases, which in substance and circumstances
are altogether unlike: but to the contrary, these examples shewing that
the Romans, even in the time of such magistrates as seemed to be most absolute,
did retain and exercise the sovereign power, do most evidently prove that
the government was ever the same remaining in the people, who without prejudice
might give the administration to one or more men as best pleased themselves,
and the success shews that they did it prudently.
Summisque negatum Stare diu;
and all that our author blames, is not to be imputed to their constitution, but their departing from it. All men were ever subject to error, and it may be said that the mistaken people in the space of about three hundred years did unjustly fine or banish five or six men; but those mistakes were so frankly acknowledged, and carefully repair'd by honours bestow'd upon the injured persons, as appears by the examples of Camillus, Livius Salinator, Aemilius Paulus, and others, that they deserve more praise than if they had not failed.
If for the above-mentioned time seditions were harmless or profitable, they were also absolutely exempted from civil wars. Those of Apulia and Greece were revolts of conquer'd nations, and can no way fall under that name: But 'tis most absurdly applied to the servile and gladiatorian wars; for the gladiators were slaves also, and civil wars can be made only by those who are members of the civil society, which slaves are not. Those that made the bellum sociale, were freemen, but not citizens; and the war they made could not be called civil. The Romans had three ways of dealing with conquered nations.
1. Some were received into the body of the city, civitate donati, as the Latins by Romulus; the Albans by Hostilius; the Privernates when their ambassador declared, that no peace could be durable unless it were just and easy; and the Senate said, se viri & liberi vocem audivisse, talesque dignos esse ut Romani fiant; and the like favour was shewn to many others.
2. By making leagues with them, as Livy says, populum Romanum devictos bello populos, malle societate & amicitia habere conjunctos, quam tristi subjectos servitio: Of which sort were the Samnites, who not liking their condition, joined with Hannibal; and afterwards, under the conduct of the brave Telesinus, with other nations that lived under the condition of socii, made an unprosperous attempt to deliver themselves.
3. Those who after many rebellions were in provinciam redacti, as the Capuans, when their city was taken by Appius Claudius, and Q. Fulvius Flaccus.
We often hear of wars made by those of the two latter sorts; but of none that can be called civil, till the times of Marius, Sulla, and Catiline: and as they are to be esteemed the last strugglings of expiring liberty, when the laws, by which it had subsisted, were enervated: so those that happened between Caesar and Pompey, Octavius and Antonius, with the proscriptions, triumvirate, and all the mischiefs that accompanied them, are to be imputed wholly to the monarchy for which they contended, as well as those between Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian, that hardly ever ceased till the empire was abolished; for the name of a commonwealth continued to the end; and I know not why Tiberius or Nero might not use it as well as Sulla or Marius.
Yet if our author be resolved to impute to popular government all that
passed before Caesar made himself perpetual dictator, he will find no more
than is seen in all places. We have known few small states, and no great
one free from revolts of subjects or allies; and the greatest empire of
the East was overthrown by the rebellion of the Mamelukes their slaves.
If there is any difference to be observed between what happened at Rome,
'tis chiefly, that whilst there was any shadow of liberty, the slaves,
gladiators, subjects or allies, were always beaten and suppressed; whereas
in the time of the emperors, the revolt of a province was sufficient to
give a new master to the best part of mankind; and he having no more power
than was required for a present mischief, was for the most part, in a short
time, destroy'd by another. But to please our author, I will acknowledge
a second defect, even that wantonness to which he ascribes all their disorders;
tho I must withal desire him to consider from whence wantonness doth proceed.
If the people of Turkey or France did rebel, I should think they were driven
to it by misery, beggary, or despair; and could lay wantonness only to
the charge of those who enjoy'd much prosperity. Nations that are oppress'd
and made miserable, may fall into rage, but can never grow wanton. In the
time of the Roman emperors, the praetorian cohorts, or the armies that
had the liberty of ravaging the richest provinces, might be proud of their
strength, or grow wanton through the abundance of their enjoyments: The
Janizaries in later ages may, for the same reasons, have fallen into the
like excesses; but such as have lost their liberty are in no danger of
them. When all the nobility of Rome was destroyed, and those who excelled
in reputation or virtue, were fallen in the wars, or by the proscriptions;
when two thirds of the people were slain, the best cities and colonies
burnt, the provinces exhausted, and the small remains left in them oppressed
with a most miserable slavery, they may have revolted, and sometimes did,
as the Britains, Batavians, and others mentioned in the Roman history:
But they were driven to those revolts by fury and necessity, arising from
the miseries and indignities they suffer'd under an insupportable tyranny;
and wantonness had no part in them. The people of Rome, when they were
a little freed from the terror of the soldiers, did sometimes for the same
reasons conspire against the emperors; and when they could do no more,
expressed their hatred by breaking their statues: But after the battles
of Pharsalia, Philippi, and the proscriptions, they never committed any
folly through wantonness. In the like manner Naples and Sicily have revolted
within these few years; and some who are well acquainted with the state
of those kingdoms, think them ready again to do the like; but if it should
so happen, no man of understanding would impute it to wantonness. The pressures
under which they groan, have cured them of all such diseases: and the Romans
since the loss of their liberty could never fall into them. They may have
grown wanton when their authority was reverenced, their virtue admired,
their power irresistible, and the riches of the world were flowing in upon
them, as it were, to corrupt their manners, by enticing them to pleasure:
But when all that was lost, and they found their persons expos'd to all
manner of violence from the basest of men; their riches exhausted by tributes
and rapine, whilst the treasures of the empire were not sufficient to supply
the luxury of their masters; the misery they suffer'd, and the shame of
suffering it, with the contemptible weakness to which they were reduc'd,
did too strongly admonish them, that the vices of wantonness belonged only
to those who enjoy'd a condition far different from theirs; and the memory
of what they had lost, sharpened the sense of what they felt. This is the
state of things which pleases our author; and, by praising that government,
which depriv'd those who were under it of all that is most desirable in
the world, and introduc'd all that ought to be detested, he sufficiently
shews, that he delights only in that which is most abominable, and would
introduce his admir'd absolute monarchy, only as an instrument of bringing
vice, misery, devastation and infamy upon mankind.
1. That the first monarchy of Rome was not absolute: The kings were made by the people without regard to any man's title, or other reason than the common good, chusing him that seemed most likely to procure it; setting up at the same time a senate consisting of a hundred of the most eminent men among them; and, after the reception of the Sabines into the city, adding as many more to them, and committing the principal part of the government to their care, retaining the power of making those laws to which the kings who reigned by their command were subject, and reserving to themselves the judgment of all great matters upon appeal. If any of their kings deserved to be called a monarch, according to Filmer's definition, it was the last Tarquin; for he alone of all their kings reigned not jussu populi, but came in by treachery and murder. If he had continued, he had cured the people of all vices proceeding from wantonness; but his farthest conquest was of the small town of Gabii ten miles distant from Rome, which he effected by the fraud of his detestable son; and that being then the utmost limit of the Roman empire, must deserve to be called the world, or the empire of it was not gained by their kings.
2. The extent of conquests is not the only, nor the chief thing that ought to be consider'd in them; regard is to be had to the means whereby they are made, and the valour or force that was employ'd by the enemy. In these respects not only the overthrow of Carthage, and the conquests of Spain, but the victories gained against the Sabines, Latins, Tuscans, Samnites, and other valiant nations of Italy, who most obstinately defended their liberty, when the Romans had no forces but their own, shew more virtue, and deserve incomparably more praise, than the defeats of any nations whatsoever, when they were increased in number, riches, reputation and power, and had many other warlike people instructed in their discipline, and fighting under their ensigns. But I deny that the Romans did ever make any considerable acquisition after the loss of their liberty. They had already subdued all Italy, Greece, Macedon, the islands of the Mediterranean Sea, Thracia, Illyrium, Asia the Less, Pontus, Armenia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, Gaul and Spain. The forces of Germany were broken; a bridge laid over the Rhine, and all the countries on this side subdued. This was all that was ever gained by the valour of their own forces, and that could bring either honour or profit. But I know of no conquest made after that time, unless the name of conquest be given to Caligula's expedition, when he said he had subdued the sea, in making an useless bridge from Puteoli to Baiae; or that of the other fool, who entered Rome in triumph, for having gathered shells on the sea-shore. Trajan's expedition into the East, was rather a journey than a war: He rambled over the provinces that Augustus had abandoned as not worth keeping, and others that had nothing to defend them, but ill-armed and unwarlike barbarians: Upon the whole matter, he seems to have been led only by curiosity; and the vanity of looking upon them as conquests, appears in their being relinquish'd as soon as gained. Britain was easily taken from a naked and unskillful, tho a brave people; hardly kept, and shamefully lost. But tho the emperors had made greater wars than the commonwealth, vanquished nations of more valour and skill than their Italian neighbours, the Grecians or Carthaginians; subdued and slaughter'd those that in numbers and ferocity had exceeded the Cimbri, Gauls and Teutons, encountered captains more formidable than Pyrrhus and Hannibal, it might indeed increase the glory of him that should have done it, but could add nothing of honour or advantage to the Roman name: The nobility was extirpated long before, the people corrupted and enslaved, Italy lay desolate, so as a Roman was hardly to be found in a Roman army, which was generally composed of such, as fighting for themselves or their commander, never thought of anything less than the interest of Rome: And as it is impossible that what is so neglected and betray'd, should be durable, that empire which was acquired by the valour and conduct of the bravest and best disciplin'd people of the world, decay'd and perished in the hands of those absolute monarchs, who ought to have preserved it.
3. Peace is desirable by a state that is constituted for it, who contenting themselves with their own territories, have no desires of enlarging them: Or perhaps it might simply deserve praise, if mankind were so framed, that a people intending hurt to none, could preserve themselves; but the world being so far of another temper, that no nation can be safe without valour and strength, those governments only deserve to be commended, which by discipline and exercise increase both, and the Roman above all, that excelled in both. Peace therefore may be good in its season, and was so in Numa's reign; yet two or three such kings would have encouraged some active neighbours to put an end to that aspiring city, before its territory had extended beyond Fidenae. But the discipline that best agreed with the temper and designs of a warlike people, being renew'd by his brave successors, the dangers were put on their enemies; and all of them, the last only excepted, persisting in the same way, did reasonably well perform their duty. When they were removed, and the affairs of the city depended no longer upon the temper or capacity of one man, the ends for which the city was constituted were vigorously pursued, and such magistrates annually chosen, as would not long continue in a universal peace, till they had gotten the empire to which they aspir'd, or were by ill fortune brought to such weakness, as to be no longer able to make war. Both of these happened in the so much magnified reign of Augustus. He found the empire so great, that all additions might rationally be rejected as useless or prejudicial; and Italy so exhausted, that wars could only be carried on by the strength of strangers: It was time to lie still when they had no power to act; and they might do it safely, whilst the reputation gained by former victories preserved them from foreign invasions. When Crassus, Pompey, and Caesar, who had torn the commonwealth into three monarchies, were kill'd, and the flower of the Roman nobility and people destroyed with them, or by them: When Cato's virtue had prov'd too weak to support a falling state, and Brutus with Cassius had perished in their noble attempt to restore the liberty: When the best part of the senate had been exposed for a prey to the vultures and wolves of Thessaly, and one hundred and thirty of those who deserved the hatred of tyrants, and had escaped the fury of war, had been destroy'd by the proscriptions: When neither captains nor soldiers remained in the desolate city; when the tyrant abhorr'd and fear'd all those who had either reputation or virtue, and by the most subtle arts endeavoured so to corrupt or break the spirits of the remaining people, that they might not think of their former greatness, or the ways of recovering it, we ought not to wonder that they ceased from war. But such a peace is no more to be commended, than that which men have in the grave; as in the epitaph of the Marquess Trivultio seen at Milan, Qui nunquam quievit, quiescit, tace. This peace is in every wilderness: The Turks have established it in the empty provinces of Asia and Greece. Where there are no men, or if those men have no courage, there can be no war. Our ancestors the Britains observed, that the peace which in that age the Romans established in the provinces, consisted in the most wretched slavery and solitude: Miserrimam servitutem pacem appellant. And in another place, solitudinem faciunt, pacem vocant. This is the peace the Spaniards settled in their dominions of the West-Indies, by the destruction of forty millions of souls. The countries were very quiet, when wild beasts only were left to fight in them, or a few miserable wretches, who had neither strength nor courage to resist their violence. This was the peace the Romans enjoyed under Augustus: A few of those who made themselves subservient to his pleasure, and ministers of the publick calamities, were put into a flourishing condition; but the rest pined, withered, and never recovered. If yet our author will have us to think the liberty and people of Rome obliged to Augustus, who procured such a peace for them, he ought to remember, that besides what they suffered in settling it, they paid dear for it even in the future; for Italy was thereby so weakened, as never to recover any strength or virtue to defend itself; but depending absolutely upon barbarous nations, or armies composed of them, was ravaged and torn in pieces by every invader.
4. That peace is only to be valued which is accompanied with justice; and those governments only deserve praise, who put the power into the hands of the best men. This was wholly wanting during the reigns of Augustus and his successors. The worst of men gained the sovereignty by alliance, fraud or violence, and advanced such as most resembled themselves. Augustus was worse in the beginning than in the latter end of his reign; but his bloody and impure successor, grew every day more wicked as long as he lived: Whilst he sat upon the rocks at Capri with his Chaldeans, he meditated nothing but lust or mischief, and had Sejanus and Macro always ready to execute his detestable designs. Caligula could find none equal to himself in all manner of villainies; but favour'd those most who were likest to him. Claudius his stupidity, drunkenness, and subjection to the fury of two impudent strumpets and manumised slaves, proved as hurtful to the empire, as the savage fury of his predecessor. Tho Nero was a monster that the world could not bear, yet the raging soldiers kill'd Galba, and gave the empire to Otho for no other reason, than that he had been the companion of his debauches, and of all men was thought most to resemble him: With them all evils came in like a flood; and their successors finding none so bad as themselves, but the favourites, whores and slaves that governed them, would suffer no virtue to grow up; and filled the city with a base, lewd, and miserable rabble, that cared for nothing beyond stage-plays and bread. Such a people could not be seditious; but Rome had been desolate, if they had not thus filled it. And tho this temper and condition of a people may please our author; yet it was an incurable wound to the state, and in consequence to the best part of the world.
When the city had been burnt by the Gauls, it was soon restored: The defeats of Ticinum, Trebia, Trasimene, and Cannae were repair'd with equal or greater victories: The war of the allies ended in their overthrow: The fury of the gladiators was extinguished with their blood: The commonwealth lost battles, but was never conquer'd in any war; and in the end triumphed over all that had contended with them. Whilst liberty continued, it was the nurse of virtue; and all the losses suffered in foreign or civil wars, were easily recovered: but when liberty was lost, valour and virtue was torn up by the roots, and the Roman power proceeding from it, perished.
I have not dwelt so long upon this point to expose the folly of our author, but to show that the above mention'd evils did proceed from a permanent cause, which will always produce the like effects; and histories testify, that it has done the same in all places. Carthage was rebuilt, after it had been destroy'd by Scipio, and continued to be a rich city for almost a thousand years, but produced no such men as Hamilcar, Hasdrubal and Hannibal: Cleomenes and Euclidas were the last that deserved to be called Spartans: Athens never had an eminent man, after it felt the weight of the Macedonian yoke; and Philopoemen was the last of the Achaeans. Tho the commonwealths of Italy in later ages, having too much applied themselves to the acquisition of money, and wanted that greatness of spirit which had reigned in their ancestors, yet they have not been without valour and virtue. That of Pisa was famous for power at sea, till the Genoese overthrew them. Florence had a brave nobility, and a stout people. Arezzo, Pistoia, Cortona, Siena, and other small towns of Tuscany, were not without strength, tho for the most part unhappily exercised in the factions of Ghibellines and Guelphs, Neri and Bianchi, that divided all Italy; but since the introduction of Filmer's divine absolute monarchy, all power, virtue, reputation and strength, is utterly perished from among them, and no man dares to oppose the publick mischiefs. They usually decide private quarrels by assassination or poison; and in other respects they enjoy the happiness of that peace which is always found within empty walls and desolated countries: And if this be according to the laws of God and nature, it cannot be denied, that weakness, baseness, cowardice, destruction and desolation are so likewise. These are the blessings our well-natur'd author would confer upon us; but if they were to be esteemed so, I cannot tell why those that felt them, complained so much of them. Tacitus reciting what passed in his time, and somewhat before (for want of a Christian spirit) in the bitterness of his soul says, nec unquam atrocioribus populi Romani cladibus, magisque; justis indiciis probatum est, non esse curae deis securitatem nostram, esse ultionem. Some thought that no punishments could be justly deserved by a people that had so much favour'd virtue; others, that even the gods they ador'd, envied their felicity and glory; but all confess'd they were fallen from the highest pitch of human happiness into the lowest degree of infamy and misery: And our author being the first that ever found they had gained by the change, we are to attribute the discovery of so great a secret to the excellency of his wisdom. If, suspending my judgment in this point, till it be proved by better authority than his word, I in the meantime follow the opinion of those who think slavery doth naturally produce meanness of spirit, with its worst effect, flattery, which Tacitus calls foedum servitutis crimen; I must believe, that the impudence of carrying it to such a height, as to commend nothing in the most glorious liberty, that made the most virtuous people in the world, but the shortness of its continuance, and to prefer the tyranny of the basest of men, or worst of monsters, is peculiar to Filmer; and that their wickedness, which had never been equalled, is surpassed by him, who recommends as the ordinance of God, the principles that certainly produce them.
But, says our author, tho Rome was for a while miraculously upheld in glory by a greater prudence than its own, yet in a short time, after manifold alterations, she was ruined by her own hand. But 'tis absurd to say, that the overthrow of a government, which had nothing of good in it, can be a ruin; or that the glory in which it continued, had nothing of good in it; and most of all, that it could be ruin'd by no hands but its own, if that glory had not been gained, and immediately or instrumentally supported by such virtue and strength as is worthily to be preferr'd before all other temporal happiness, and does ever produce it. This shews that liars ought to have good memories. But passing over such foolish contradictions, I desire to know, how that prudence, greater than its own (which till I am better inform'd, I must think to be inseparably united to justice and goodness) came miraculously to support a government, which was not only evil in itself, as contrary to the laws of God and nature; but so perpetually bent against that monarchy, which he says is according to them, as to hate all monarchs, despite all that would live under them, destroy as many of them as came within their reach; and make a law by which any man was authorised to kill him, who should endeavour to set up this divine power among them. Moreover, no human prudence preserved the Roman glory but their own: the others directly set themselves to oppose it, and the most eminent fell under it. We know of no prudence surpassing the human, unless it be the divine: But the divine prudence did never miraculously exert itself, except to bear witness to the truth, and to give authority to those that announced it. If therefore the glory of this popular government was miraculously supported by a more than human prudence, it was good in itself; the miracles done in favour of it did testify it, and all that our author says against it is false and abominable.
If I lay aside the word miraculous, as put in by chance, 'twill be hard to know how God (who in the usual course of his providence guides all things by such a gentle and undiscerned power, that they seem to go on of themselves) should give such virtue to this popular government, and the magistrates bred up under it, that the greatest monarchs of the earth were as dust before them, unless there had been an excellency in their discipline, far surpassing that of their enemies; or how that can be called ill in its principle, and said to comprehend no good, which God did so gloriously support, and no man was ever able to resist. This cannot be better answer'd than by our author's citation, suis & ipsa Roma viribus ruit; That city which had overthrown the greatest powers of the world must, in all appearance, have lasted forever, if their virtue and discipline had not decay'd, or their forces been turned against themselves. If our author therefore say true, the greatest good that ever befell the Romans, was the decay of their virtue and discipline; and the turning of their own arms against themselves, was not their ruin but their preservation.
When they had brought the warlike nations of Italy into subjection, or association; often repressed the fury of the Gauls, Cimbri and Teutons; overthrown the wealth, power and wit of Carthage supported by the skill, industry, and valour of Hannibal and his brave relations; almost extirpated the valiant Spaniards, who would no other way be subdued; defeated Philip, Perseus, Antiochus, Gentius, Syphax and Jugurtha; struck an awe into Ptolemy; avoided the snares and poisons of Mithridates; followed him in his flights, reveng'd his treacheries, and carried their victorious arms beyond his conquer'd kingdoms to the banks of Tigris: When neither the revolt of their Italian associates, nor the rebellion of their slaves led by Spartacus (who in skill seems to have been equal to Hannibal, and above him in courage) could put a stop to their victories: When Greece had been reduced to yield to a virtue rather than a power greater than their own, we may well say that government was supported by a more than human prudence, which led them through virtue to a height of glory, power and happiness, that till that day had been unknown to the world, and could never have been ruined, if by the decay of that virtue they had not turned their victorious arms against themselves. That city was a giant that could die by no other hand than his own; like Hercules poison'd and driven into madness, after he had destroy'd thieves, monsters and tyrants, and found nothing on the earth able to resist him. The wisest of men in ancient times, looking upon this as a point of more than human perfection, thought or feigned to think, that he was descended from the gods, and at his death received into their number, tho perhaps Filmer would prefer a weak, base and effeminate slave before him. The matter will not be much different, if we adhere to the foremention'd similitude of the athletick habit ; for the danger proceeds only from the perfection of it, and he who dislikes it, must commend that weakness and vice which may perish, but can never be changed into anything worse than itself, as those that lie upon the ground can never fall. However this fall of the Romans, which our author, speaking truth against his will, calls their ruin, was into that which he recommends as the ordinance of God: Which is as much as to say, that they were ruin'd when they fell from their own unnatural inventions to follow the law of God and of nature; that luxury also through which they fell, was the product of their felicity; and that the nations that had been subdued by them, had no other way of avenging their defeats, than by alluring their masters to their own vices: This was the root of their civil wars. When that proud city found no more resistance, it grew wanton.
Luxuria incubuit, victumque; ulciscitur orbem
Honest poverty became uneasy, when honours were given to ill-gotten
riches. This was so monarchical, that a people infected with such a custom
must needs fall by it. They who by vice had exhausted their fortunes, could
repair them only by bringing their country under a government that would
give impunity to rapine; and such as had not virtues to deserve advancement
from the senate and people, would always endeavour to set up a man that
would bestow the honours that were due to virtue, upon those who would
be most abjectly subservient to his will and interests. When men's minds
are filled with this fury, they sacrifice the common good to the advancement
of their private concernments. This was the temper of Catiline expressed
by Sallust, luxuria principi gravis, paupertas vix à privato
toleranda; and this put him upon that desperate extremity to say, incendium
meum mind extingtiam. Others in the same manner being filled with the
same rage, he could not want companions in his most villainous designs.
'Tis not long since a person of the highest quality, and no less famous
for learning and wit, having observed the state of England, as it stood
not many years ago, and that to which it has been reduc'd since the year
sixty, as is thought very much by the advice and example of France, said,
that they now were taking a most cruel vengeance upon us for all the overthrows
received from our ancestors, by introducing their most damnable maxims,
and teaching us the worst of their vices. 'Tis not for me to determine
whether this judgment was rightly made or not; for I intend not to speak
of our affairs: but all historians agreeing, that the change of the Roman
government was wrought by such means as I have mentioned; and our author
acknowledging that change to have been their ruin, as in truth it was,
I may justly conclude, that the overthrow of that government could not
have been a ruin to them, but good for them, unless it had been good; and
that the power which did ruin it, and was set up in the room of it, cannot
have been according to the laws of God or nature, for they confer only
that which is good, and destroy nothing that is so; but must have been
most contrary to that good which was overthrown by it.
Germany is at this day governed by an emperor, the princes or great lords in their several precincts, the cities by their own magistrates, and by general diets, in which the whole power of the nation resides, and where the emperor, princes, nobility, and cities have their places in person, or by their deputies. All the northern nations, which upon the dissolution of the Roman empire possessed the best provinces that had composed it, were under that form which is usually called the Gothick polity: They had king, lords, commons, diets, assemblies of estates, cortes, and parliaments, in which the sovereign powers of those nations did reside, and by which they were exercised. The like was practised in Hungary, Bohemia, Sweden, Denmark, Poland; and if things are changed in some of these places within few years, they must give better proofs of having gained by the change than are yet seen in the world, before I think myself obliged to change my opinion.
Some nations not liking the name of king, have given such a power as kings enjoy'd in other places to one or more magistrates, either limited to a certain time, or left to be perpetual, as best pleased themselves: Others approving the name, made the dignity purely elective. Some have in their elections principally regarded one family as long as it lasted: Others consider'd nothing but the fitness of the person, and reserved to themselves a liberty of taking where they pleased. Some have permitted the crown to be hereditary as to its ordinary course; but restrained the power, and instituted officers to inspect the proceedings of kings, and to take care that the laws were not violated: Of this sort were the ephori of Sparta, the maires du palais, and afterwards the constable of France; the justicia in Aragon; Rijckshofmeister in Denmark; the high steward in England; and in all places such assemblies as are before-mentioned under several names, who had the power of the whole nation. Some have continued long, and it may be always in the same form; others have changed it: Some being incensed against their kings, as the Romans exasperated by the villainies of Tarquin, and the Tuscans by the cruelties of Mezentius, abolished the name of king: Others, as Athens, Sicyon, Argos, Corinth, Thebes, and the Latins, did not stay for such extremities; but set up other governments when they thought it best for themselves, and by this conduct prevented the evils that usually fall upon nations, when their kings degenerate into tyrants, and a nation is brought to enter into a war by which all may be lost, and nothing can be gained which was not their own before. The Romans took not this salutary course; the mischief was grown up before they perceived, or set themselves against it; and when the effects of pride, avarice, cruelty and lust were grown to such a height, that they could no longer be endured, they could not free themselves without a war: and whereas upon other occasions their victories had brought them increase of strength, territory, and glory; the only reward of their virtue in this was, to be delivered from a plague they had unadvisedly suffered to grow up among them. I confess this was most of all to be esteemed; for if they had been overthrown, their condition under Tarquin would have been more intolerable than if they had fallen under the power of Pyrrhus or Hannibal; and all their following prosperity was the fruit of their recover'd liberty: But it had been much better to have reformed the state after the death of one of their good kings, than to be brought to fight for their lives against that abominable tyrant. Our author in pursuance of his aversion to all that is good, disapproves this; and wanting reasons to justify his dislike, according to the custom of impostors and cheats, hath recourse to the ugly terms of a back-door, sedition and faction; as if it were not as just for a people to lay aside their kings when they receive nothing but evil, and can rationally hope for no benefit by them, as for others to set them up in expectation of good from them. But if the truth be examin'd, nothing will be found more orderly than the changes of government, or of the persons and races of those that govern'd, which have been made by many nations. When Pharamond's grandson seemed not to deserve the crown he had worn, the French gave it to Meroveus, who more resembled him in virtue: In process of time when this race also degenerated, they were rejected, and Pepin advanced to the throne; and the most remote in blood of his descendants having often been preferred before the nearest, and bastards before the legitimate issue, they were at last all laid aside; and the crown remains to this day in the family of Hugh Capet, on whom it was bestow'd upon the rejection of Charles of Lorraine. In like manner the Castilians took Don Sancho surnamed the Brave, second son to Alfonso the Wise, before Alfonso el Desheredado, son of the elder brother Ferdinand. The states of Aragon preferred Martin, brother to John the first, before Mary his daughter married to the Count de Foix, tho females were not excluded from the succession; and the house of Austria now enjoys that crown from Joan daughter to Ferdinand. In that and many other kingdoms, bastards have been advanced before their legitimate brothers. Henry Count of Trastamara, bastard to Alfonso the II king of Castile, received the crown as a reward of the good service he had done to his country against his brother Peter the Cruel, without any regard had to the house of La Cerda descended from Alfonso el Desheredado, which to this day never enjoy'd any greater honour than that of duke de Medina Celi. Not long after the Portuguese conceiving a dislike of their King Ferdinand, and his daughter married to John king of Castile, rejected her and her uncle by the father's side, and gave the crown to John a knight of Calatrava, and bastard to an uncle of Ferdinand their king. About the beginning of this age the Swedes deposed their King Sigismund for being a papist, and made Charles his uncle king. Divers examples of the like nature in England have been already mentioned. All these transportations of crowns were acts performed by assemblies of the three estates in the several kingdoms, and these crowns are to this day enjoy'd under titles derived from such as were thus brought in by the deposition or rejection of those, who according to descent of blood had better titles than the present possessors. The acts therefore were lawful and good, or they can have no title at all; and they who made them, had a just power so to do.
If our author can draw any advantage from the resemblance of regality that he finds in the Roman consuls and Athenian archons, I shall without envy leave him the enjoyment of it; but I am much mistaken if that do not prove my assertion, that those governments were composed of the three simple species: for if the monarchical part was in them, it cannot be denied that the aristocratical was in the senate or areopagi , and the democratical in the people. But he ought to have remembered that if there was something of monarchical in those governments when they are said to have been popular, there was something of aristocratical and democratical in those that were called regal; which justifies my proposition on both sides, and shews that the denomination was taken from the part that prevail'd; and if this were not so, the governments of France, Spain, and Germany might be called democracies, and those of Rome and Athens monarchies, because the people have a part in the one, and an image of monarchy was preserved in the other.
If our author will not allow the cases to be altogether equal, I think
he will find no other difference, than that the consuls and archons were
regularly made by the votes of the consenting people, and orderly resign'd
their power, when the time was expir'd for which it was given; whereas
Tarquin, Dionysius, Agathocles, Nabis, Phalaris, Caesar, and almost all
his successors, whom he takes for compleat monarchs, came in by violence,
fraud, and corruption, by the help of the worst men, by the slaughter of
the best, and most commonly (when the method was once establish'd) by that
of his predecessor, who, if our author say true, was the father of his
country and his also. This was the root and foundation of the only government
that deserves praise: this is that which stamped the divine character upon
Agathocles, Dionysius and Caesar, and that had bestow'd the same upon Manlius,
Marius, or Catiline, if they had gain'd the monarchies they affected. But
I suppose that such as God has bless'd with better judgment, and a due
regard to justice and truth, will say, that all those who have attained
to such greatness as destroys all manner of good in the places where they
have set up themselves by the most detestable villainies, came in by a
door; and that such magistrates as were orderly chosen by a willing
people, were the true shepherds who came in by the gate of the sheepfold,
and might justly be called the ministers of God, so long as they performed
their duty in providing for the good of the nations committed to their
Again, other great alterations have happened within the same kingdom: The races of kings four times wholly changed: Five kings deposed in less than 150 years after the death of Charles the Great: The offices of maire du palais, and constable, erected and laid aside: The great dukedoms and earldoms, little inferior to sovereign principalities, establish'd and suppress'd: The decision of all causes, and the execution of the laws, placed absolutely in the hands of the nobility, their deputies, seneschals, or vice-seneschals, and taken from them again: Parliaments set up to receive appeals from the other courts, and to judge sovereignly in all cases, expressly to curb them: The power of these parliaments, after they had crushed the nobility, brought so low, that within the last twenty years they are made to register, and give the power of laws, to edicts, of which the titles only are read to them; and the general assemblies of estates, that from the time of Pepin had the power of the nation in their hands, are now brought to nothing, and almost forgotten.
Tho I mention these things, 'tis not with a design of blaming them,
for some of them deserve it not; and it ought to be consider'd that the
wisdom of man is imperfect, and unable to foresee the effects that may
proceed from an infinite variety of accidents, which according to emergencies,
necessarily require new constitutions, to prevent or cure the mischiefs
arising from them, or to advance a good that at the first was not thought
on: And as the noblest work in which the wit of man can be exercised, were
(if it could be done) to constitute a government that should last forever,
the next to that is to suit laws to present exigencies, and so much as
is in the power of man to foresee: And he that should resolve to persist
obstinately in the way he first entered upon, or to blame those who go
out of that in which their fathers had walked, when they find it necessary,
does as far as in him lies, render the worst of errors perpetual. Changes
therefore are unavoidable, and the wit of man can go no farther than to
institute such, as in relation to the forces, manners, nature, religion
or interests of a people and their neighbours, are suitable and adequate
to what is seen, or apprehended to be seen: And he who would oblige all
nations at all times to take the same course, would prove as foolish as
a physician who should apply the same medicine to all distempers, or an
architect that would build the same kind of house for all persons, without
considering their estates, dignities, the number of their children or servants,
the time or climate in which they live, and many other circumstances; or,
which is, if possible, more sottish, a general who should obstinately resolve
always to make war in the same way, and to draw up his army in the same
form, without examining the nature, number, and strength of his own and
his enemies' forces, or the advantages and disadvantages of the ground.
But as there may be some universal rules in physick, architecture and military
discipline, from which men ought never to depart; so there are some in
politicks also which ought always to be observed: and wise legislators
adhering to them only, will be ready to change all others as occasion may
require, in order to the publick good. This we may learn from Moses, who
laying the foundation of the law given to the Israelites in that justice,
charity and truth, which having its root in God is subject to no change,
left them the liberty of having judges or no judges, kings or no kings,
or to give the sovereign power to high priests or captains, as best pleased
themselves; and the mischiefs they afterwards suffer'd, proceeded not simply
from changing, but changing for the worse. The like judgment may be made
of the alterations that have happen'd in other places. They who aim at
the publick good, and wisely institute means proportionable and adequate
to the attainment of it, deserve praise; and those only are to be dislik'd,
who either foolishly or maliciously set up a corrupt private interest in
one or a few men. Whosoever therefore would judge of the Roman changes,
may see, that in expelling the Tarquins, creating consuls, abating the
violence of usurers, admitting Plebeians to marry with the patricians,
rendering them capable of magistracies, deducing colonies, dividing lands
gained from their enemies, erecting tribunes to defend the rights of the
commons, appointing the decemviri to regulate the law, and abrogating their
power when they abused it, creating dictators and military tribunes with
a consular power, as occasions requir'd; they acted in the face of the
sun for the good of the public; and such acts having always produced effects
suitable to the rectitude of their intentions, they consequently deserve
praise. But when another principle began to govern, all things were changed
in a very different manner: Evil designs, tending only to the advancement
of private interests, were carried on in the dark by means as wicked as
the end. If Tarquin when he had a mind to be king, poison'd his first wife
and his brother, contracted an incestuous marriage with his second by the
death of her first husband, murder'd her father and the best men in Rome,
yet Caesar did worse: He favour'd Catiline and his villainous associates;
bribed and corrupted magistrates; conspir'd with Crassus and Pompey; continued
in the command of an army beyond the time prescribed by law, and turned
the arms with which he had been entrusted for the service of the commonwealth,
to the destruction of it; which was rightly represented by his dream, that
he had constuprated his mother: In the like manner when Octavius, Antonius
and Lepidus, divided the empire, and then quarrelled among themselves;
and when Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian set up parties in several
provinces, all was managed with treachery, fraud and cruelty; nothing was
intended but the advancement of one man, and the recompence of the villains
that served him: And when the empire had suffered infinite calamities by
pulling down or rejecting one, and setting up another, it was for the most
part difficult to determine who was the worst of the two; or whether the
prevailing side had gained or lost by their victory. The question therefore
upon which a judgment may be made to the praise or dispraise of the Roman
government, before or after the loss of their liberty, ought not to be,
whether either were subject to changes, for neither they nor anything under
the sun was ever exempted from them; but whether the changes that happened
after the establishment of absolute power in the emperors, did not solely
proceed from ambition, and tend to the publick ruin: whereas those alterations
related by our author concerning consuls, dictators, decemviri, tribunes
and laws, were far more rare, less violent, tending to, and procuring the
publick good, and therefore deserving praise. The like having been proved
by the examples of other kingdoms, and might be farther confirmed by many
more, which on account of brevity I omit, is in my opinion sufficient to
manifest, that whilst the foundation and principle of a government remains
good, the superstructures may be changed according to occasions, without
any prejudice to it.
1. To this end we are in the first place to consider, whether Xenophon speaks of popular governments simply, or comparatively: if simply, 'tis confess'd that a pure democracy can never be good, unless for a small town; if comparatively, we must examine to what he compares it: We are sure it was not to absolute monarchy; there was no such thing amongst the Greeks established by law: The little tyrants who had enslaved their own countries, as Jason, Phaereus, Phalaris, and the like, had no pretence to it, and were accounted as the worst of beasts: None but such as in all bestiality were like to them, did ever speak or think well of them: Xenophon's opinion in this point, may be easily found out by what pass'd between his master Plato and the Sicilian tyrant; and the matter will not be mended by referring to his own experience: He had seen the vast monarchy of Persia torn in pieces by the fury of two brothers, and more than a million of men brought to fight upon their private quarrel: Instead of that order, stability and strength which our author ascribes to absolute monarchy as the effect of wisdom and justice, he knew, that by filling one man with pride and cruelty, it brought unspeakable miseries upon all others, and infected them with all the vices that accompany slavery: Men lived like fishes; the great ones devour'd the small; and as appeared by Tissaphernes, Pharnabazus, and others with whom he had to deal, the worst and basest were made to be the greatest: The satraps insulted over those of meaner rank, with an insolence and cruelty that equal'd the depth of their servile submission to their proud master. Luxury and avarice reigned in all: many great nations were made to live for the service of one man, and to foment his vices. This produced weakness and cowardice; no number of those slaves were able to stand against a few free Grecians. No man knew this better than Xenophon, who after the death of Cyrus the younger, and the treacherous murder of Clearchus, and other officers that commanded the Greeks who had served him, made his retreat from Babylon to the Hellespont with ten thousand foot, and passed over the bellies of all that dared to oppose him. He would never have spent his life in exciting his countrymen to attempt the conquest of Asia, nor persuaded Agesilaus to put himself at the head of the enterprize, if he had thought there was such admirable order, stability and strength in that monarchy, and in the Greeks nothing but giddiness of spirit, and so much learning as made them seditious: Nor could he, being a wise man and an excellent captain, have conceived such a design, if he had not by experience found that liberty inspir'd his countrymen with such solid virtue, and produced such stability, good order and strength, that with small numbers of them he might hope to overthrow the vain pomp of the barbarians, and to possess himself of their riches, tho they could bring more than a hundred men to fight against one; which design being interrupted in his time by domestick wars, was soon after his death accomplished by Alexander.
But that Xenophon's meaning may be better understood, 'tis good to consider, that he spoke of such governments as were then in use among the Greeks; which tho mixed, yet took their denomination from the prevailing part: so that the Dorians, who placed the power chiefly in the hands of a few chosen men, were said to be governed aristocratically; and the lonians giving more power to the common people, democratically: And he, tho an Ionian, either through friendship to Agesilaus, conversation with the Spartans, or for other reasons best known to himself, preferr'd the government of Sparta, or some other which he thought he could frame, and desir'd to introduce, before that of Athens; as Cimon, Thucydides, and many other excellent men of that city are said to have done: And if I acknowledge they were in the right, and that Athens was more subject to disorder, and had less stability than Sparta, I think it will be of little advantage to absolute monarchy.
2. The Athenians did banish some worthy men, and put others to death; but our author, like the Devil, never speaking truth, unless to turn it into a lie, prevaricates in his report of them. The temporary banishment which they called ostracism, was without hurt or dishonour, never accounted as a punishment, nor intended for any other end, than to put a stop to the too eminent greatness of a man, that might prove dangerous to the city; and some excellent persons who fell under it, were soon recalled and brought home with glory. But I am not solicitous whether that reason be sufficient to justify it or not: We are upon a general thesis relating to the laws of God and nature; and if the Athenians, by a fancy of their own, did make an imprudent use of their liberty, it cannot prejudice the publick cause. They who make the worst of it can only say, that by such means they, for a time, deprived themselves of the benefits they might have received from the virtues of some excellent men, to the hurt of none but themselves; and the application of it as an injustice done to Themistocles is absolutely false: He was a man of great wit, industry and valour, but of uncertain faith, too much addicted to his own interest, and held a most dangerous correspondence with the Persians, who then threatened the destruction of Greece. Through envy and spite to Aristides, and to increase his own power, he raised dangerous factions in the city; and being summoned to render an account of his proceedings, he declined the judgment of his country, fled to their enemies, and justly deserved the sentence pronounc'd against him. Some among them were unjustly put to death, and above all Socrates; but the people, who, deceived by false witnesses (against whom neither the laws of God or man have ever prescrib'd a sufficient defence), had condemned him, did so much lament their crime, when the truth was discovered to them, that I doubt whether a more righteous judgment had given better testimony of their righteous intentions. But our author's impudence appears in the highest excess, in imputing the death of Phocion to the popular state of Athens: Their forces had been broken in the Sicilian War; the city taken, and the principal men slain by Lysander; the remains of the most worthy destroy'd by the thirty tyrants set up by him; their ill-recovered liberty overthrown by the Macedonians, and the death of Phocion compassed by Polyperchon, who with foreign soldiers, slaves, vagabonds, and outlaws, overpower'd the people.
The proceedings of Rome may be more compleatly justified: Coriolanus was duly condemn'd, he set too great a price upon his own valour, and arrogated to himself a power in Rome, which would hardly have been endur'd in Corioli: His violence and pride overbalanced his services; and he that would submit to no law, was justly driven out from the society which could subsist only by law. Quintius was not unlike him, and Manlius Capitolinus far worse than either. Their virtues were not to be consider'd when they departed from them. Consideration ought to be had of human frailty, and some indulgence may be extended to those who commit errors, after having done important services; but a state cannot subsist, which compensating evil actions with good, gives impunity to the most dangerous crimes, in remembrance of any services whatever. He that does well, performs his duty, and ought always to do so: Justice and prudence concur in this; and 'tis no less just than profitable, that every action be considered by itself, and such a reward or punishment allotted to it, as in nature and proportion it doth best deserve.
This, as I suppose, is enough for their cases; but relates not to those of Mamercus, Camillus, Livius Salinator, and Aemilius Paulus; their virtue was compleat, they were wrongfully sentenc'd. But the best princes, senate or people that ever was in the world, by the deceit of evil men, may and have been drawn out of the way of justice: Yet of all the states that are known to us, none was ever so free from crimes of malice and wilful injustice; none was ever guilty of so few errors as that of Rome; and none did ever give better testimonies of repentance, when they were discovered, than the Romans did by the veneration they shew'd to those worthy persons, and the honours they conferr'd upon them afterwards. Mamercus was made dictator, to repair the unjust mark of infamy laid upon him by the censors. Camillus being recall'd from his banishment, often enjoyed the same honour, and died the most reverenced man that had ever been in that city. Livius Salinator was not only made consul after he had been fined, but the people (as it were to expiate the guilt of having condemn'd him) suffer'd that asperity of speech and manners, which might have persuaded such as had been less confident of his virtue and their own, that he desir'd to be reveng'd, tho it were with the ruin of the city. They dealt in the like manner with Aemilius Paulus, repairing the injury of a fine unduly impos'd. Their generosity in leaving the tribunes in the forum, with their accusation against Scipio Africanus, and following him to celebrate an annual sacrifice in the capitol, in commemoration of his victory against Hannibal, was no less admirable than the greatness of his mind, who thought his virtue should be so well known, that no account ought to be expected from him; which was an error proceeding from a noble root, but not to be borne in a well-govern'd commonwealth. The laws that aim at the publick good, make no distinction of persons; and none can be exempted from the penalties of them, otherwise than by approved innocence, which cannot appear without a trial: He that will not bend his mind to them, shakes off the equality of a citizen, and usurps a power above the law, to which no man submits upon any other condition, than that none should be exempted from the power of it. And Scipio being the first Roman that thus disdained the power of the law, I do not know whether the prejudice brought upon the city by so dangerous an example, did not outweigh all the services he had done: Nevertheless the people contented with his retirement to his own house, and afterwards convinc'd of his innocence, would probably (if he had not died in a few months) have brought him back with the honours that fate reserved for his ashes.
I do not at present remember any other eminent men, who can be said in any respect to have thrived ill, whilst the people and senate of Rome acted freely; and if this be not sufficient to clear the point, I desire to know the names of those worst men that thrived best . If they may have been judged to thrive, who were frequently advanced to the supreme magistracies, and enjoy'd the chief honours; I find no men so eminent as Brutus, Publicola, Quinctius Cincinnatus, and Capitolinus, the two Fabii surnamed Maximi, Corvinus, Torquatus, Camillus, and the like: and if these were the worst men that Rome produced in those ages, valour, wisdom, industry in the service of their country, and a most entire love to it must have been the worst of qualities; and I presume our author may have thought them so, since they were invincible obstacles to the introduction of that divine monarchy which Appius Claudius the decemvir, Manlius Capitolinus, Spurius Cassius, Sp. Maelius, and some others may be thought to have affected.
However, these instances are not to be understood as they are simply in themselves, but comparatively with what has happen'd in other places under absolute monarchies: for our inquiry is not after that which is perfect, well knowing that no such thing is found among men; but we seek that human constitution which is attended with the least, or the most pardonable inconveniences. And if we find that in the space of three hundred years, whilst the senate, people, and legally created magistrates governed Rome, not one worthy man was put to death, not above five or six condemned to fines by the beguiled people, and those injuries repair'd by the most honourable satisfaction that could be given; so that virtue continued ever flourishing; the best men that could be found were put into the chief commands, and the city was filled with more excellent men than were ever known to be in any other place: And on the other side, if the emperors so soon as the government was changed, made it their business to destroy the best, and so far succeeded in their design, that they left none; and never failed to advance the worst, unless it fell out as to Queen Catherine de Medici, who is said never to have done any good but by mistake, and some few may have proved better than was intended; it will appear, that our author's assertions are in the utmost degree false. Of this we need no better witness than Tacitus. The civil wars, and the proscriptions upon which he touches, are justly to be attributed to that monarchy which was then setting up, the only question being who should be the monarch, when the liberty was already overthrown. And if any eminent men escaped, it was much against the will of those who had usurped the power: He acknowledges his histories to be a continued relation of the slaughter of the most illustrious persons, and that in the times of which he writes, virtue was attended with certain destruction. After the death of Germanicus and his eldest children, Valerius Asiaticus, Seneca, Corbulo, and an infinite number more who were thought most to resemble them, found this to be true at the expence of their lives: Nero, in pursuance of the same tyrannical design, murder'd Helvidius and Thrasea, that he might tear up virtue by the roots: Domitian spared none willingly that had either virtue or reputation; and tho Trajan, with perhaps some other, might grow up under him in the remote provinces, yet no good man could escape who came under his eye, and was so eminent as to be observed by him. Whilst these, who were thought to be the best men that appear'd in the Roman empire, did thrive in this manner, Sejanus, Macro, Narcissus, Pallas, Tigellinus, Icetus, Vinius, Laco, and others like to them, had the power of the empire in their hands. Therefore, unless mankind has been mistaken to this day, and that these, who have hitherto been accounted the worst of villains, were indeed the best men in the world, and that those destroy'd by them, who are thought to have been the best, were truly the worst, it cannot be denied that the best men, during the liberty of Rome, thrived best; that good men suffer'd no indignity, unless by some fraud imposed upon the well-meaning people; and that so soon as the liberty was subverted, the worst men thrived best. The best men were exposed to so many calamities and snares, that it was thought a matter of great wonder to see a virtuous man die in his bed: and if the account were well made, I think it might appear, that every one of the emperors before Titus shed more noble and innocent blood than Rome and all the commonwealths in the world have done whilst they had the free enjoyment of their own liberty. But if any man in favour of our author seek to diminish this vast disproportion between the two differing sorts of government, and impute the disorders that happen'd in the time of the Gracchi, and others, whilst Rome was struggling for her liberty, to the government of a commonwealth, he will find them no more to be compar'd with those that fell out afterwards, than the railings of a turbulent tribune against the senate, to the villainies and cruelties that corrupted and dispeopled the provinces from Babylon to Scotland: And whereas the state never fail'd to recover from any disorders, as long as the root of liberty remain'd untouch'd, and became more powerful and glorious than ever, even after the wars of Marius and Sulla; when that was destroy'd, the city fell into a languishing condition, and grew weaker and weaker, till that and the whole empire was ruin'd by the barbarians.
3. Our author, to shew that his memory is as good as his judgment, having
represented Rome in the times of liberty as a publick slaughterhouse, soon
after blames the clemency of their laws; whereas 'tis impossible that the
same city could at the same time be guilty of those contrary extremities;
and no less certain, that it was perfectly free from them both. His assertion
seems to be grounded upon Caesar's speech (related by Sallust) in favour
of Lentulus and Cethegus companions of Catiline: but tho he there endeavoured
to put the best colour he could upon their cause, it signified only thus
much, that a Roman citizen could not be put to death, without being heard
in publick; which law will displease none that in understanding and integrity
may not be compared to Filmer and his followers. 'Tis a folly to extend
it farther; for 'tis easily proved that there was always a power of putting
citizens to death, and that it was exercised when occasion required. The
laws were the same in the time of the kings, and when that office was executed
by consuls, excepting such changes as are already mention'd. The
perduellionis cited by Livy in the case of Horatius who had kill'd
his sister, continued in force from the foundation to the end of that government:
the condemnation was to death, the words of the sentence these, caput
obnubito, infelici arbore reste suspendito; verberato intra pomaerium vel
extra pomaerium. He was tried by this law upon an appeal made to the
people by his father, and absolved
admiratione magis virtutis quam jure
causae; which could not have been, if by the law no citizen might be
put to death. The sons of Brutus were condemn'd to death in publick, and
executed with the Aquilii and Vitellii their companions in the same conspiracy:
Manlius Capitolinus was put to death by the vote of the people: Titus Manlius
by the command of his father Torquatus, for fighting without order: Two
legions were decimated by Appius Claudius: Spurius Maelius refusing to
appear before the dictator, was killed by Servilius Ahala general of the
horse, and pronounced jure caesum: Quintus Fabius was by Papirius
the dictator condemn'd to die, and could not have been saved but by the
intercession and authority of the people. If this be not so, I desire to
be informed what the senate meant by condemning Nero to be put to death
majorum, if more majorum no citizen might be put to death: Why
the consuls, dictators, military tribunes, decemviri, caused rods and axes
to be carried before them, as well within as without the city, if no use
was to be made of them. Were they only vain badges of a power never to
be executed; or upon whom was the supreme power signified by them, to be
exercised within and without the city, if the citizens were not subject
to it? 'Tis strange that a man who had ever read a book of matters relating
to the affairs of Rome, should fancy these things; or hope to impose them
upon the world, if he knew them to be foolish, false, and absurd. But of
all the marks of a most supine stupidity that can be given by a man, I
know no one equal to this of our author, who in the same clause wherein
he says no citizen could be put to death or banished, adds, that the magistrates
were upon pain of death forbidden to do it; for if a magistrate might be
put to death for banishing a citizen, or causing him to be executed, a
citizen might be put to death; for the magistrates were not strangers,
but citizens. If this was not so, he must think that no crime was capital,
but the punishment of capital crimes; or that no man was subject to the
supreme power, but he that was created for the execution of it. Yet even
this will not stop the gap; for the law that condemned the magistrate to
die, could be of no effect, if there were no man to execute it; and there
could be none if the law prohibited it, or that he who did it was to die
for it: And this goes on to infinity. For if a magistrate could not put
a citizen to death, I suppose a citizen could not put to death a magistrate;
for he also is a citizen. So that upon the whole matter we may conclude,
that malice is blind, and that wickedness is madness. 'Tis hard to say
more in praise of popular governments than will result from what he says
against them: his reproaches are praises, and his praises reproaches. As
government is instituted for the preservation of the governed, the Romans
were sparing of blood, and are wisely commended by Livy for it: Nulli
unquam populo mitiores placuere poenae; which gentleness will never
be blamed, unless by those who are pleased with nothing so much as the
fury of those monsters, who with the ruin of the best part of mankind,
usurp'd the dominion of that glorious city. But if the Romans were gentle
in punishing offences, they were also diligent in preventing them: the
excellence of their discipline led the youth to virtue, and the honours
they received for recompence confirmed them in it. By this means many of
them became laws to themselves; and they who were not the most excellent,
were yet taught so much of good, that they had a veneration for those they
could not equal, which not only served to incite them to do well according
to their talents, but kept them in such awe as to fear incurring their
ill opinion by any bad action, as much as by the penalty of the law. This
integrity of manners made the laws as it were useless; and whilst they
seemed to sleep, ignorant persons thought there were none: But their discipline
being corrupted by prosperity, those vices came in which made way for the
monarchy; and wickedness being placed in the throne, there was no safety
for any but such as would be of the same spirit, and the empire was ruined
As to the principle, the above-mentioned vices may be profitable to private men, but they can never be so to the government, if it be popular or mixed: No people was ever the better for that which renders them weak or base; and a duly created magistracy, governing a nation with their consent, can have no interest distinct from that of the publick, or desire to diminish the strength of the people, which is their own, and by which they subsist. On the other side, the absolute monarch who governs for himself, and chiefly seeks his own preservation, looks upon the strength and bravery of his subjects as the root of his greatest danger, and frequently desires to render them weak, base, corrupt, and unfaithful to each other, that they may neither dare to attempt the breaking of the yoke he lays upon them, nor trust one another in any generous design for the recovery of their liberty. So that the same corruption which preserves such a prince, if it were introduced by a people, would weaken, if not utterly destroy them.
Again, all things have their continuance from a principle in nature suitable to their original: all tyrannies have had their beginnings from corruption. The histories of Greece, Sicily, and Italy shew that all those who made themselves tyrants in several places, did it by the help of the worst, and the slaughter of the best: Men could not be made subservient to their lusts whilst they continued in their integrity; so as their business was to destroy those who would not be corrupted. They must therefore endeavour to maintain or increase the corruption by which they attain their greatness: If they fail in this point, they must fall as Tarquin, Pisistratus, and others have done; but if they succeed so far that the vicious part do much prevail, the government is secure, tho the prince may be in danger. And the same thing doth in a great measure accidentally conduce to the safety of his person: For they who for the most part are the authors of great revolutions, not being so much led by a particular hatred to the man, as by a desire to do good to the publick, seldom set themselves to conspire against the tyrant, unless he be altogether detestable and intolerable, if they do not hope to overthrow the tyranny.
The contrary is seen in all popular and well-mixed governments: they are ever established by wise and good men, and can never be upheld otherwise than by virtue: The worst men always conspiring against them, they must fall, if the best have not power to preserve them. Wheresoever therefore a people is so governed, the magistrates will obviate afar off the introduction of vices, which tend as much to the ruin of their persons and government, as to the preservation of the prince and his. This is evidenced by experience. 'Tis not easy to name a monarch that had so many good qualities as Julius Caesar, till they were extinguished by his ambition, which was inconsistent with them: He knew that his strength lay in the corruption of the people, and that he could not accomplish his designs without increasing it. He did not seek good men, but such as would be for him; and thought none sufficiently addicted to his interests, but such as stuck at the performance of no wickedness that he commanded: he was a soldier according to Caesar's heart who said,
Pectore si fratris gladium juguloque parentis
Condere me jubeas, gravidaeve in viscera partu
Conjugis, invita peragam tamen omnia dextra.
And lest such as were devoted to him should grow faint in villainy, he industriously inflamed their fury:
Vult omnia Caesar
A se saeva peti, vult praemia Martis amari.
Having spread this poison amongst the soldiers, his next work was by corrupting the tribunes to turn the power to the destruction of the people, which had been erected for their preservation; and pouring the treasures he had gained by rapine in Gaul into the bosom of Curio, made him an instrument of mischief, who had been a most eminent supporter of the laws. Tho he was thought to have affected the glory of sparing Cato, and with trouble to have found that he despised life when it was to be accounted his gift; yet in suspecting Brutus and Cassius, he shew'd he could not believe that virtuous men who loved their country could be his friends. Such as carry on the like designs with less valour, wit, and generosity of spirit, will always be more bitterly bent to destroy all that are good, knowing that the deformity of their own vices is rendered most manifest, when they are compared with the good qualities of those who are most unlike them; and that they can never defend themselves against the scorn and hatred they incur by their vices, unless such a number can be infected with the same, and made to delight in the recompences of iniquity that foment them, as may be able to keep the rest of the people in subjection.
The same thing happens even when the usurpation is not so violent as that of Agathocles, Dionysius, or the last king of Denmark, who in one day by the strength of a mercenary soldiery overthrew all the laws of his country: and a lawfully created magistrate is forced to follow the same ways as soon as he begins to affect a power which the laws do not confer upon him. I wish I could say there were few of these; but experience shews that such a proportion of wisdom, moderation of spirit, and justice is requir'd in a supreme magistrate, to render him content with a limited power, as is seldom found. Man is of an aspiring nature, and apt to put too high a value upon himself; they who are raised above their brethren, tho but a little, desire to go farther; and if they gain the name of king, they think themselves wronged and degraded, when they are not suffer'd to do what they please.
Sanctitas, pietas, fides
Privata bona sunt: qua juvat reges eant.
In these things they never want masters; and the nearer they come to a power that is not easily restrained by law, the more passionately they desire to abolish all that opposes it: and when their hearts are filled with this fury, they never fail to chuse such ministers as will be subservient to their will: and this is so well known, that those only approach them who resolve to be so. Their interests as well as their inclinations incite them to diffuse their own manners as far as they can, which is no less than to bring those who are under their power to all that wickedness of which the nature of man is capable; and no greater testimony can be given of the efficacy of these means towards the utter corruption of nations, than the accursed effects we see of them in our own and the neighbouring countries.
It may be said that some princes are so full of virtue and goodness, as not to desire more power than the laws allow, and are not obliged to chuse ill men, because they desire nothing but what the best are willing to do. This may be, and sometimes is: the nation is happy that has such a king: but he is hard to find, and more than a human power is required to keep him in so good a way. The strength of his own affections will ever be against him: Wives, children, and servants will always join with those enemies that arise in his own breast to pervert him: if he has any weak side, any lust unsubdued, they will gain the victory. He has not search'd into the nature of man, who thinks that anyone can resist when he is thus on all sides assaulted: Nothing but the wonderful and immediate power of God's spirit can preserve him; and to allege it will be nothing to the purpose, unless it can be proved that all princes are blessed with such an assistance, or that God hath promised it to them and their successors forever, by what means soever they came to the crowns they enjoy.
Nothing is farther from my intention than to speak irreverently of kings; and I presume no wise man will think I do so, if I profess, that having observed as well as I can what history and daily experience teach us concerning the virtues and religions that are or have been from the beginning of the world encouraged and supported by monarchs, the methods they have follow'd since they have gone under the name of Christians, their moral as well as their theological graces, together with what the Scriptures tell us of those who in the last days will principally support the throne of Antichrist; I cannot be confident that they are generally in an extraordinary manner preserved by the hand of God from the vices and frailties to which the rest of mankind is subject. If no man can shew that I am in this mistaken, I may conclude, that as they are more than any other men in the world exposed to temptations and snares, they are more than any in danger of being corrupted, and made instruments of corrupting others, if they are no otherwise defended than the rest of men.
This being the state of the matter on both sides, we may easily collect, that all governments are subject to corruption and decay; but with this difference, that absolute monarchy is by principle led unto, or rooted in it; whereas mixed or popular governments are only in a possibility of falling into it: As the first cannot subsist, unless the prevailing part of the people be corrupted; the other must certainly perish, unless they be preserved in a great measure free from vices: and I doubt whether any better reason can be given, why there have been and are more monarchies than popular governments in the world, than that nations are more easily drawn into corruption than defended from it; and I think that monarchy can be said to be natural in no other sense, than that our depraved nature is most inclined to that which is worst.
To avoid unnecessary disputes, I give the name of popular governments to those of Rome, Athens, Sparta, and the like, tho improperly, unless the same may also be given to many that are usually called monarchies, since there is nothing of violence in either; the power is conferr'd upon the chief magistrates of both by the free consent of a willing people, and such a part as they think fit is still retained and executed in their own assemblies; and in this sense it is that our author seems to speak against them. As to popular government in the strictest sense (that is pure democracy, where the people in themselves, and by themselves, perform all that belongs to government), I know of no such thing; and if it be in the world, have nothing to say for it. In asserting the liberty, generally, as I suppose, granted by God to all mankind, I neither deny, that so many as think fit to enter into a society, may give so much of their power as they please to one or more men, for a time or perpetually, to them and their heirs, according to such rules as they prescribe; nor approve the disorders that must arise if they keep it entirely in their own hands: And looking upon the several governments, which under different forms and names have been regularly constituted by nations, as so many undeniable testimonies, that they thought it good for themselves and their posterity so to do, I infer, that as there is no man who would not rather chuse to be governed by such as are just, industrious, valiant and wise, than by those that are wicked, slothful, cowardly and foolish; and to live in society with such as are qualified like those of the first sort, rather than with those who will be ever ready to commit all manner of villainies, or want experience, strength or courage, to join in repelling the injuries that are offer'd by others: So there are none who do not according to the measure of understanding they have, endeavour to set up those who seem to be best qualified, and to prevent the introduction of those vices, which render the faith of the magistrate suspected, or make him unable to perform his duty, in providing for the execution of justice, and the publick defence of the state against foreign or domestick enemies. For as no man who is not absolutely mad, will commit the care of a flock to a villain, that has neither skill, diligence, nor courage to defend them, or perhaps is maliciously set to destroy them, rather than to a stout, faithful, and wise shepherd; 'tis less to be imagined that any would commit the same error in relation to that society which comprehends himself with his children, friends, and all that is dear to him.
The same considerations are of equal force in relation to the body of every nation: For since the magistrate, tho the most perfect in his kind, cannot perform his duty, if the people be so base, vicious, effeminate and cowardly, as not to second his good intentions; those who expect good from him, cannot desire so to corrupt their companions that are to help him, as to render it impossible for him to accomplish it. Tho I believe there have been in all ages bad men in every nation, yet I doubt whether there was one in Rome, except a Catiline or a Caesar, who design'd to make themselves tyrants, that would not rather have wished the whole people as brave and virtuous as in the time of the Carthaginian Wars, than vile and base as in the days of Nero and Domitian. But 'tis madness to think, that the whole body would not rather wish to be as it was when virtue flourished, and nothing upon earth was able to resist their power, than weak, miserable, base, slavish, and trampled under foot by any that would invade them; and forced as a chattel to become a prey to those that were strongest. Which is sufficient to shew, that a people acting according to the liberty of their own will, never advance unworthy men, unless it be by mistake, nor willingly suffer the introduction of vices: Whereas the absolute monarch always prefers the worst of those who are addicted to him, and cannot subsist unless the prevailing part of the people be base and vicious.
If it be said, that those governments in which the democratical part
governs most, do more frequently err in the choice of men or the means
of preserving that purity of manners which is required for the well-being
of a people, than those wherein aristocracy prevails; I confess it, and
that in Rome and Athens the best and wisest men did for the most part incline
to aristocracy. Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, Livy, Tacitus,
Cicero, and others, were of this sort: But if our author there seek patrons
for his absolute monarchy, he will find none but Phalaris, Agathocles,
Dionysius, Catiline, Cethegus, Lentulus, with the corrupted crew of mercenary
rascals, who did, or endeavour'd to set them up. These are they quibus
ex honesto nulla est spes; they abhor the dominion of the law, because
it curbs their vices, and make themselves subservient to the lusts of a
man who may nourish them. Similitude of interests, manners, and designs,
is a link of union between them: Both are enemies to popular and mixed
government; and those governments are enemies to them, and by preserving
virtue and integrity, oppose both; knowing, that if they do not, they and
their governments must certainly perish.
The like was seen in Rome: When Brutus, Valerius, and other virtuous citizens had thrown out the lewd Tarquins, they trusted to their own innocence and reputation; and thinking them safe under the protection of the law, contented themselves with such honours as their countrymen thought they deserved. This would not satisfy the dissolute crew that us'd to be companions to the Tarquins. Sodales adolescentium Tarquiniorum assueti more regio vivere, earn tum aequato jure omnium licentiam quaerentes libertatem aliorum in suam vertisse servitutem conquerebantur. Regem hominem esse, à quo impetres ubijus, ubi injuria opus sit. Esse gratiae locum, esse beneficio: & irasci & ignoscere posse. Leges rem surdam esse & inexorabilem, salubriorem inopi quam potenti: nihil laxamenti nec veniae habere, si modum excesseris: periculosum esse in tot humanis erroribus sola innocentia vivere. I cannot say that either of these sought a liberty without restraint; for the virtuous were willing to be restrained by the law, and the vicious to submit to the will of a man, to gain impunity in offending. But if our author say true, the licentious fury of these lewd young men, who endeavour'd to subvert the constitution of their country, to procure the impunity of their own crimes would have been more natural, that is more reasonable than the orderly proceedings of the most virtuous, who desir'd that the law might be the rule of their actions, which is most absurd.
The like vicious wretches have in all times endeavour'd to put the power into the hands of one man, who might protect them in their villainies, and advance them to exorbitant riches or undeserved honours; whilst the best men trusting in their innocence, and desiring no other riches or preferments, than what they were by their equals thought to deserve, were contented with a due liberty, under the protection of a just law: and I must transcribe the histories of the world, or at least so much of them as concerns the tyrannies that have been set up or cast down, if I should here insert all the proofs that might be given of it. But I shall come nearer to the point, which is not to compare democracy with monarchy, but a regular mixed government with such an absolute monarchy, as leaves all to the will of that man, woman, or child, who happens to be born in the reigning family, how ill soever they may be qualified. I desire those who are lovers of truth to consider, whether the wisest, best, and bravest of men, are not naturally led to be pleased with a government that protects them from receiving wrong, when they have not the least inclination to do any? Whether they who desire no unjust advantage above their brethren, will not always desire that a people or senate constituted as that of Rome, from the expulsion of Tarquin to the setting up of Caesar, should rather judge of their merit, than Tarquin, Caesar, or his successors? Or whether the lewd or corrupted Praetorian bands, with Macro, Sejanus, Tigellinus, and the like, commanding them, will not ever, like Brutus his sons, abhor the inexorable power of the laws, with the necessity of living only by their innocence, and favour the interest of princes like to those that advanced them? If this be not sufficient, they may be pleased a little to reflect upon the affairs of our own country, and seriously consider whether H-de, Cl-f-d, F-lm-th, Arl-ng-n and D-nby, could have pretended to the chief places, if the disposal of them had been in a free and well-regulated parliament? Whether they did most resemble Brutus, Publicola, and the rest of the Valerii, the Fabii, Quintii, Cornelii, &c. or Narcissus, Pallas, Icetus, Laco, Vinius, and the like? Whether all men, good and bad, do not favour that state of things, which favours them and such as they are?
Whether Cl-v-l-d, P-rtsm-th, and others of the same trade, have attained
to the riches and honours they enjoy by services done to the commonwealth?
And what places Chiffinch, F-x and Jenkins, could probably have attained,
if our affairs had been regulated as good men desire? Whether the old arts
of begging, stealing and bawding, or the new ones of informing and trepanning,
thrive best under one man who may be weak or vicious, and is always subject
to be circumvented by flatterers, or under the severe scrutinies of a senate
or people? In a word, whether they who live by such arts, and know no other,
do not always endeavour to advance the government under which they enjoy,
or may hope to obtain the highest honours, and abhor that, in which they
are exposed to all manner of scorn and punishment? Which being determined,
it will easily appear why the worst men have ever been for absolute monarchy,
and the best against it; and which of the two in so doing can be said to
desire an unrestrained liberty of doing that which is evil.
To this end 'twill not be amiss to examine our author's words: Thus, says he, do they paint to the life this beast with many heads: Let me give the cypher of their form of government: as it is begot by sedition, so it is nourish'd by crimes: It can never stand without wars, either with an enemy abroad, or with friends at home; And in order to this I will not criticize upon the terms, tho the cypher of a form, and war with friends, may be justly called nonsense; but coming to his assertions, that popular or mixed governments have their birth in sedition, and are ever afterwards vexed with civil or foreign wars, I take liberty to say, that whereas there is no form appointed by God or nature, those governments only can be called just, which are established by the consent of nations. These nations may at the first set up popular or mixed governments, and without the guilt of sedition introduce them afterwards, if that which was first established prove unprofitable or hurtful to them; and those that have done so, have enjoy'd more justice in times of peace, and managed wars, when occasion requir'd, with more virtue and better success, than any absolute monarchies have done. And whereas he says, that in popular governments each man hath a care of his particular, and thinks basely of the common good; They look upon approaching mischiefs as they do upon thunder, only every man wisheth it may not touch his own person: I say that men can no otherwise be engaged to take care of the publick, than by having such a part in it, as absolute monarchy does not allow; for they can neither obtain the good for themselves, posterity and friends, that they desire, nor prevent the mischiefs they fear, which are the principal arguments that persuade men to expose themselves to labours or dangers. 'Tis a folly to say, that the vigilance and wisdom of the monarch supplies the defect of care in others; for we know that no men under the sun were ever more void of both, and all manner of virtue requir'd to such a work, than very many monarchs have been: And, which is yet worse, the strength and happiness of the people being frequently dangerous to them, they have not so much as the will to promote it; nay, sometimes set themselves to destroy it. Ancient monarchies afford us frequent examples of this kind; and if we consider those of France and Turkey, which seem most to flourish in our age, the people will appear to be so miserable under both, that they cannot fear any change of governor or government; and all, except a few ministers, are kept so far from the knowledge of, or power in the management of affairs, that if any of them should fancy a possibility of something that might befall them worse than what they suffer, or hope for that which might alleviate their misery, they could do nothing towards the advancement of the one, or prevention of the other. Tacitus observes, that in his time no man was able to write what passed, inscitia reipublicae ut alienae. They neglected the publick affairs in which they had no part. In the same age it was said, that the people, who whilst they fought for their own interests, had been invincible, being enslaved, were grown sordid, idle, base, running after stage-plays and shows; so as the whole strength of the Roman armies consisted of strangers. When their spirits were depressed by servitude, they had neither courage to defend themselves, nor will to fight for their wicked masters; and least of all to increase their power, which was destructive to themselves: The same thing is found in all places. Tho the Turk commands many vast provinces, that naturally produce as good soldiers as any, yet his greatest strength is in children that do not know their fathers; who not being very many in number, may perish in one battle, and the empire by that means be lost, the miserable nations that groan under that tyranny having neither courage, power, nor will to defend it. This was the fate of the Mamelukes. They had for the space of almost two hundred years domineer'd in Egypt, and a great part of Asia; but the people under them being weak and disaffected, they could never recover the defeat they received from Selim near Tripoli, who pursuing his victory, in a few months utterly abolished their kingdom.
Notwithstanding the present pride of France, the numbers and warlike inclinations of that people, the bravery of the nobility, extent of dominion, convenience of situation, and the vast revenues of their king, his greatest advantages have been gained by the mistaken counsels of England, the valour of our soldiers unhappily sent to serve him, and the strangers of whom the strength of his armies consists; which is so unsteady a support, that many who are well versed in affairs of this nature, incline to think he subsists rather by little arts, and corrupting ministers in foreign courts, than by the power of his own armies; and that some reformation in the counsels of his neighbours might prove sufficient to overthrow that greatness which is grown formidable to Europe; the same misery to which he has reduced his people, rendering them as unable to defend him, upon any change of fortune, as to defend their own rights against him.
This proceeds not from any particular defect in the French government, but that which is common to all absolute monarchies. And no state can be said to stand upon a steady foundation, except those whose strength is in their own soldiery, and the body of their own people. Such as serve for wages, often betray their masters in distress, and always want the courage and industry which is found in those who fight for their own interests, and are to have a part in the victory. The business of mercenaries is so to perform their duty, as to keep their employments, and to draw profit from them; but that is not enough to support the spirits of men in extreme dangers. The shepherd who is a hireling, flies when the thief comes; and this adventitious help failing, all that a prince can reasonably expect from a disaffected and oppressed people is, that they should bear the yoke patiently in the time of his prosperity; but upon the change of his fortune, they leave him to shift for himself, or join with his enemies to avenge the injuries they had received. Thus did Alfonso and Ferdinand kings of Naples, and Lodovico Sforza duke of Milan fall, in the times of Charles the Eighth and Louis the Twelfth kings of France. The two first had been false, violent, and cruel; nothing within their kingdom could oppose their fury: but when they were invaded by a foreign power, they lost all, as Guicciardini says, without breaking one lance; and Sforza was by his own mercenary soldiers delivered into the hands of his enemies.
I think it may be hard to find examples of such as proceeding in the same way have had better success: But if it should so fall out, that a people living under an absolute monarchy, should through custom, or fear of something worse (if that can be) not only suffer patiently, but desire to uphold the government; neither the nobility, nor commonalty can do anything towards it. They are strangers to all publick concernments: All things are govern'd by one or a few men, and others know nothing either of action or counsel. Filmer will tell us 'tis no matter; the profound wisdom of the prince provides for all. But what if this prince be a child, a fool, a superannuated dotard, or a madman? Or if he does not fall under any of these extremities, and possesses such a proportion of wit, industry, and courage as is ordinarily seen in men, how shall he supply the office that indeed requires profound wisdom, and an equal measure of experience and valour? 'Tis to no purpose to say a good council may supply his defects; for it does not appear how he should come by this council, nor who should oblige him to follow their advice: If he be left to his own will to do what he pleases, tho good advice be given to him; yet his judgment being perverted, he will always incline to the worst: If a necessity be imposed upon him of acting according to the advice of his council, he is not that absolute monarch of whom we speak, nor the government monarchical, but aristocratical. These are imperfect fig-leaf coverings of nakedness. It was in vain to give good counsel to Sardanapalus; and none could defend the Assyrian empire, when he lay wallowing amongst his whores without any other thought than of his lusts. None could preserve Rome, when Domitian's chief business was to kill flies, and that of Honorius to take care of his hens. The monarchy of France must have perished under the base kings they call les roys faineants, if the scepter had not been wrested out of their unworthy hands. The world is full of examples in this kind: and when it pleases God to bestow a just, wise, and valiant king as a blessing upon a nation, 'tis only a momentary help, his virtues end with him; and there being neither any divine promise nor human reason moving us to believe that they shall always be renewed and continued in his successors, men cannot rely upon it; and to allege a possibility of such a thing is nothing to the purpose.
On the other side, in a popular or mixed government every man is concerned: Every one has a part according to his quality or merit; all changes are prejudicial to all: whatsoever any man conceives to be for the publick good, he may propose it in the magistracy, or to the magistrate: the body of the people is the publick defence, and every man is arm'd and disciplin'd: The advantages of good success are communicated to all, and everyone bears a part in the losses. This makes men generous and industrious; and fills their hearts with love to their country: This, and the desire of that praise which is the reward of virtue, raised the Romans above the rest of mankind; and wheresoever the same ways are taken, they will in a great measure have the same effects. By this means they had as many soldiers to fight for their country as there were freemen in it. Whilst they had to deal with the free nations of Italy, Greece, Africa, or Spain, they never conquer'd a country, till the inhabitants were exhausted: But when they came to fight against kings, the success of a battle was enough to bring a kingdom under their power. Antiochus upon a ruffle received from Acilius at Thermopylae, left all that he possessed in Greece; and being defeated by Scipio Nasica, he quitted all the kingdoms and territories of Asia on this side Taurus. Aemilius Paulus became master of Macedon by one prosperous fight against Perseus. Syphax, Gentius, Tigranes, Ptolemy, and others were more easily subdued. The mercenary armies on which they relied being broken, the cities and countries not caring for their masters, submitted to those who had more virtue and better fortune. If the Roman power had not been built upon a more sure foundation, they could not have subsisted. Notwithstanding their valour, they were often beaten; but their losses were immediately repair'd by the excellence of their discipline. When Hannibal had gained the battles of Trebia, Ticinum, Trasimene, and Cannae; defeated the Romans in many other encounters, and slain above two hundred thousand of their men, with Aemilius Paulus, C. Servilius, Sempronius Gracchus, Quintius, Marcellus, and many other excellent commanders: When about the same time the two brave Scipio's had been cut off with their armies in Spain, and many great losses had been sustain'd in Sicily and by sea, one would have thought it impossible for the city to have resisted: But their virtue, love to their country, and good government was a strength that increased under all their calamities, and in the end overcame all. The nearer Hannibal came to the walls, the more obstinate was their resistance. Tho he had kill'd more great captains than any kingdom ever had, others daily stepp'd up in their place, who excell'd them in all manner of virtue. I know not, if at any time that conquering city could glory in a greater number of men fit for the highest enterprises, than at the end of that cruel war, which had consumed so many of them; but I think that the finishing victories by them obtained, are but ill proofs of our author's assertion, that they thought basely of the common good, and sought only to save themselves. We know of none except Caecilius Metellus, who after the battle of Cannae had so base a thought as to design the withdrawing himself from the publick ruin; but Scipio (afterwards surnamed Africanus) threatening death to those who would not swear never to abandon their country, forced him to leave it. This may in general be imputed to good government and discipline, with which all were so seasoned from their infancy, that no affection was so rooted in them, as an ardent love to their country, and a resolution to die for it, or with it; but the means by which they accomplished their great ends, so as after their defeats to have such men as carried on their noblest designs with more glory than ever, was their annual elections of magistrates, many being thereby advanc'd to the supreme commands, and every one by the honours they enjoy'd, fill'd with a desire of rendering himself worthy of them.
I should not much insist upon these things, if they had been seen only in Rome: but tho their discipline seems to have been more perfect, better observed, and to have produc'd a virtue that surpassed all others; the like has been found, tho perhaps not in the same degree, in all nations that have enjoyed their liberty, and were admitted to such a part of the government, as might give them a love to it. This was evident in all the nations of Italy. The Sabines, Volsci, Aequi, Tuscans, Samnites and others were never conquer'd, till they had no men left. The Samnites alone inhabiting a small and barren province, suffer'd more defeats before they were subdued, than all the kingdoms of Numidia, Egypt, Macedon, and Asia; and, as 'tis exprest in their embassy to Hannibal, never yielded, till they who had brought vast numbers of men into the field, and by them defeated some of the Roman armies, were reduced to such weakness, that they could not resist one legion. We hear of few Spartans who did not willingly expose their lives for the service of their country; and the women themselves were so far inflamed with the same affection, that they refused to mourn for their children and husbands who died in the defence of it. When the brave Brasidas was slain, some eminent men went to comfort his mother upon the news of his death; and telling her he was the most valiant man in the city, she answer'd, that he was indeed a valiant man, and died as he ought to do, but that through the goodness of the gods, many others were left as valiant as he.
When Xerxes invaded Greece, there was not a citizen of Athens able to bear arms, who did not leave his wife and children to shift for themselves in the neighbouring cities, and their houses to be burnt when they embarked with Themistocles; and never thought of either till they had defeated the barbarians at Salamis by sea, and at Plataea by land. When men are thus spirited, some will ever prove excellent; and as none did ever surpass those who were bred under this discipline in all moral, military and civil virtues; those very countries where they flourished most, have not produced any eminent men since they lost that liberty which was the mother and nurse of them.
Tho I should fill a volume with examples of this kind (as I might easily
do) such as our author will say, that in popular governments men look upon
mischiefs as thunder, and only wish it may not touch themselves: But leaving
them to the scorn and hatred they deserve by their impudence and folly,
I conclude this point with the answer, that Trajano Boccalini puts into
the mouth of Apollo, to the princes who complained that their subjects
had not that love to their countries, as had been, and was daily seen in
those who lived under commonwealths; which did amount to no more than to
tell them, that their ill government was the cause of that defect, and
that the prejudices incurr'd by rapine, violence, and fraud were to be
repaired only by liberality, justice, and such a care of their subjects,
that they might live happily under them.
The cities of Rome, Sparta, Thebes, and all the associations of the Aetolians, Achaeans, Sabines, Latins, Samnites, and many others that anciently flourish'd in Greece and Italy, seem to have intended nothing but the just preservation of liberty at home, and making war abroad. All the nations of Spain, Germany, and Gaul sought the same things. Their principal work was to render their people valiant, obedient to their commanders, lovers of their country, and always ready to fight for it: And for this reason when the senators of Rome had kill'd Romulus, they persuaded Julius Proculus to affirm, that he had seen him in a most glorious form ascending to heaven, and promising great things to the city, proinde rem militarem colant. The Athenians were not less inclined to war, but applied themselves to trade, as subservient to that end, by increasing the number of the people, and furnishing them with the means of carrying it on with more vigour and power. The Phoenician cities, of which Carthage was the most eminent, followed the same method; but knowing that riches do not defend themselves, or scorning slothfully to enjoy what was gained by commerce, they so far applied themselves to war, that they grew to a power, which Rome only was able to overthrow. Venice, Florence, Genoa, Lucca, and some other cities of Italy seem chiefly to have aimed at trade; and placing the hopes of their safety in the protection of more powerful states, unwillingly enter'd into wars, especially by land; and when they did, they made them by mercenary soldiers.
Again, some of those that intended war desir'd to enlarge their territories by conquest; others only to preserve their own, and to live with freedom and safety upon them. Rome was of the first sort; and knowing that such ends cannot be accomplished without great numbers of men, they freely admitted strangers into the city, senate, and magistracy. Numa was a Sabine: Tarquinius Priscus was the son of a Grecian: One hundred of those Sabines who came with Tatius were admitted into the senate: Appius Claudius of the same people came to Rome, was made a member of the senate, and created consul. They demolished several cities, and brought the inhabitants to their own; gave the right of citizens to many others (sometimes to whole cities and provinces) and cared not how many they received, so as they could engraft them upon the same interest with the old stock, and season them with the same principles, discipline, and manners. On the other side the Spartans desiring only to continue free, virtuous, and safe in the enjoyment of their own territory; and thinking themselves strong enough to defend it, framed a most severe discipline, to which few strangers would submit. They banished all those curious arts, that are useful to trade; prohibited the importation of gold and silver; appointed the Helots to cultivate their lands, and to exercise such trades as are necessary to life; admitted few strangers to live amongst them; made none of them free of their city, and educated their youth in such exercises only as prepared them for war. I will not take upon me to judge whether this proceeded from such a moderation of spirit, as placed felicity rather in the fullness and stability of liberty, integrity, virtue, and the enjoyment of their own, than in riches, power, and dominion over others; nor which of these two different methods deserves most to be commended: But certain it is that both succeeded according to the intention of the founders.
Rome conquer'd the best part of the world, and never wanted men to defend what was gained: Sparta lived in such happiness and reputation, that till it was invaded by Epaminondas, an enemy's trumpet had not been heard by those within the town for the space of eight hundred years, and never suffer'd any great disaster, till receding from their own institutions, they were brought by prosperity to affect the principality of Greece, and to undertake such wars as could not be carried on without money, and greater numbers of men than a small city was able to furnish; by which means they were obliged to beg assistance from the barbarians, whom they scorned and hated, as appears by the stories of Callicratidas, Lysander, and Agesilaus, and fell into such straits as were never recovered.
The like variety has been observed in the constitutions of those northern nations that invaded the Roman empire; for tho all of them intended war, and looked upon those only to be members of their commonwealths, who used arms to defend them, yet some did immediately incorporate themselves with those of the conquer'd countries. Of this number were the Franks, who presently became one nation with the Gauls; others kept themselves in a distinct body, as the Saxons did from the Britains: And the Goths for more than three hundred years that they reigned in Spain, never contracted marriages, or otherwise mixed with the Spaniards, till their kingdom was overthrown by the Moors.
These things, and others of the like nature, being weighed, many have doubted whether it were better to constitute a commonwealth for war or for trade; and of such as intend war, whether those are most to be praised who prepare for defence only, or those who design by conquest to enlarge their dominions. Or, if they admit of trade, whether they should propose the acquisition of riches for their ultimate end, and depend upon foreign or mercenary forces to defend them; or to be as helps to enable their own people to carry on those wars, in which they may be frequently engaged.
These questions might perhaps be easily decided, if mankind were of a temper to suffer those to live in peace, who offer no injury to any; or that men who have money to hire soldiers when they stand in need of them, could find such as would valiantly and faithfully defend them, whilst they apply themselves to their trades. But experience teaching us that those only can be safe who are strong; and that no people was ever well defended, but those who fought for themselves; the best judges of these matters have always given the preference to those constitutions that principally intend war, and make use of trade as assisting to that end: and think it better to aim at conquest, rather than simply to stand upon their own defence; since he that loses all if he be overcome, fights upon very unequal terms; and if he obtain the victory, gains no other advantage, than for the present to repel the danger that threatened him.
These opinions are confirmed by the examples of the Romans, who prosper'd much more than the Spartans: And the Carthaginians, who made use of trade as a help to war, raised their city to be one of the most potent that ever was in the world: Whereas the Venetians having relied on trade and mercenary soldiers, are always forced too much to depend upon foreign potentates; very often to buy peace with ignominious and prejudicial conditions; and sometimes to fear the infidelity of their own commanders, no less than the violence of their enemies. But that which ought to be valued above all in point of wisdom as well as justice, is, the government given by God to the Hebrews, which chiefly fitted them for war, and to make conquests. Moses divided them under several captains, into thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens: This was a perpetual ordinance amongst them: In numbering them, those only were counted, who were able to bear arms: Every man was obliged to go out to war, except such as had married a wife, or upon other special occasions were for a time excused; and the whole series of the sacred history shews that there were always as many soldiers to fight for their country as there were men able to fight. And if this be taken for a picture of a many-headed beast delighting in blood, begotten by sedition, and nourished by crimes, God himself was the drawer of it.
In this variety of constitutions and effects proceeding from them, I can see nothing more justly and generally to be attributed to them all, than that love to their country, which our author impudently affirms to be wanting in all. In other matters their proceedings are not only different, but contrary to each other: yet it cannot be said that any nations have enjoyed so much peace as some republicks. The Venetians' too great inclination to peace is accounted to be a mortal error in their constitution, and they have not been less free from domestick seditions than foreign wars; the conspiracies of the Falerii and Tiepoli were extinguished by their punishment, and that of La Cueva crushed before it was ripe. Genoa has not been altogether so happy: the factions of the Guelphs and Ghibellines that spread themselves over all Italy, infected that city; and the malice of the Spaniards and French raised others under the Fregosi and Adorni; but they being composed, they have for more than a hundred and fifty years rested in quiet.
There is another sort of commonwealth composed of many cities associated together, and living aequo jure; every one retaining and exercising a sovereign power within itself, except in some cases expressed in the act of union, or league made between them. These I confess are more hardly preserved in peace. Disputes may arise among them concerning limits, jurisdiction, and the like. They cannot always be equally concerned in the same things. The injuries offer'd to one do not equally affect all. Their neighbours will sow divisions among them; and not having a mother city to decide their controversies by her authority, they may be apt to fall into quarrels, especially if they profess Christianity; which having been split into variety of opinions ever since it was preached, and the papists by their cruelty to such as dissent from them, shewing to all, that there is no other way of defending themselves against them, than by using the same, almost every man is come to think he ought (as far as in him lies) to impose his belief on others, and that he can give no better testimony of his zeal, than the excess of his violence on that account. Nevertheless the cantons of the Switzers, tho accompanied with all the most dangerous circumstances that can be imagined, being thirteen in number, independent on each other, governed in a high degree popularly, professing Christianity differing in most important points; eight of them much influenced by the Jesuits, and perpetually excited to war against their brethren by the powerful crowns of Spain and France, have ever since they cast off the insupportable yoke of the earls of Hapsburg, enjoy'd more peace than any other state of Europe, and from the most inconsiderable people, are grown to such a power, that the greatest monarchs do most solicitously seek their friendship; and none have dared to invade them, since Charles duke of Burgundy did it to his ruin: and he who for a long time had been a terror to the great, dangerous, and subtle king of France, gave by the loss of three armies and his own life a lasting testimony of his temerity in assaulting a free and valiant, tho a poor people, fighting in their own quarrel. Comines well relates that war; but a vast heap of bones remaining to this day at Muret with this inscription, Caroli fortissimi Burgundiorum ducis exercitus Muretum obsidens ab Helvetiis caesus, hoc sui monumentum reliquit, best shews the success of it. Since that time their greatest wars have been for the defence of Milan; or such as they have undertaken for pay under the ensigns of France or Spain, that by the use of arms they may keep up that courage, reputation, and experience which is requir'd for the defence of their own country. No government was ever more free from popular seditions; the revolts of their subjects have been few, weak, and easily suppressed; the dissension raised by the Jesuits between the cantons of Zurich and Lucerne was as soon composed as the rebellion of the county of Vaux against the canton of Bern; and those few of the like nature that have happened among them have had the like success: So that Thuanus in the history of his time, comprehending about fifty years, and relating the horrid domestick and foreign wars, that distracted Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Flanders, England, Scotland, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, Transylvania, Muscovy, Turkey, Africa, and other places, has no more to say of them than to shew what arts had been in vain used to disturb their so much envied quiet. But if the modest temper of the people, together with the wisdom, justice, and strength of their government, could not be discomposed by the measures of Spain and France, by the industry of their ambassadors, or the malicious craft of the Jesuits, we may safely conclude that their state is as well settled as anything among men can be, and can hardly comprehend what is like to interrupt it. As much might be said of the cities of the Hanseatick Society, if they had an entire sovereignty in themselves: But the cities of the united provinces in the Low Countries being every one of them sovereign within themselves, and many in number, still continuing in their union in spite of all the endeavours that have been used to divide them, give us an example of such steadiness in practice and principle, as is hardly to be parellel'd in the world, and that undeniably prove a temper in their constitutions directly opposite to that which our author imputes to all popular governments: and if the death of Barneveldt and De Witt, or the preferment of some most unlike to them be taken for a testimony that the best men thrive worst, and the worst best, I hope it may be consider'd that those violences proceeded from that which is most contrary to popularity, tho I am not very willing to explain it.
If these matters are not clear in themselves, I desire they may be compared
with what has happen'd between any princes that from the beginning of the
world have been joined in league to each other, whether they were of the
same or of different nations. Let an example be brought of six, thirteen,
or more princes or kings who enter'd into a league; and for the space of
one or more ages, did neither break it, nor quarrel upon the explication
of it. Let the states of the Switzers, Grisons, or Hollanders, be compared
with that of France, when it was sometimes divided between two, three,
or four brothers of Meroveus' or Pepin's races; with the heptarchy of England;
the kingdoms of Leon, Aragon, Navarre, Castile and Portugal, under which
the Christians in Spain were divided; or those of Cordoba, Seville, Malaga,
Granada, and others under the power of the Moors; and if it be not evident,
that the popular states have been remarkable for peace among themselves,
constancy to their union and fidelity to the leagues made with their associates;
whereas all the abovementioned kingdoms, and such others as are known among
men to have been joined in the like leagues, were ever infested with domestick
rebellions and quarrels arising from the ambition of princes, so as no
confederacy could be so cautiously made, but they would find ways to elude
it, or so solemn and sacred, but they would in far less time break through
it: I will confess, that kingdoms have sometimes been as free from civil
disturbances; and that leagues made between several princes, have been
as constantly and religiously observed, as by commonwealths. But if no
such thing do appear in the world, and no man who is not impudent or ignorant
dare pretend it, I may justly conclude, that tho every commonwealth hath
its action suitable to its constitution, and that many associated together
are not so free from disturbances, as those that wholly depend upon the
authority of a mother city; yet we know of none that have not been, and
are more regular and quiet than any principalities; and as to foreign wars,
they seek or avoid them according to their various constitutions.
If it be said that the wise father mention'd by me endeavours to secure his patrimony by law, not by force; I answer, that all defence terminates in force; and if a private man does not prepare to defend his estate with his own force, 'tis because he lives under the protection of the law, and expects the force of the magistrate should be a security to him: but kingdoms and commonwealths acknowledging no superior, except God alone, can reasonably hope to be protected by him only; and by him, if with industry and courage they make use of the means he has given them for their own defence. God helps those who help themselves; and men are by several reasons (suppose to prevent the increase of a suspected power) induced to succour an industrious and brave people: But such as neglect the means of their own preservation, are ever left to perish with shame. Men cannot rely upon any league: The state that is defended by one potentate against another becomes a slave to their protector: Mercenary soldiers always want fidelity or courage, and most commonly both. If they are not corrupted or beaten by the invader, they make a prey of their masters. These are the followers of camps who have neither faith nor piety, but prefer gain before right. They who expose their blood to sale, look where they can make the best bargain, and never fail of pretences for following their interests.
Moreover, private families may by several arts increase their wealth, as they increase in number; but when a people multiplies (as they will always do in a good climate under a good government) such an enlargement of territory as is necessary for their subsistence can be acquired only by war. This was known to the northern nations that invaded the Roman empire; but for want of such constitutions as might best improve their strength and valour, the numbers they sent out when they were overburden'd, provided well for themselves, but were of no use to the countries they left; and whilst those Goths, Vandals, Franks, and Normans enjoyed the most opulent and delicious provinces of the world, their fathers languished obscurely in their frozen climates. For the like reasons, or through the same defect, the Switzers are obliged to serve other princes; and often to employ that valour in advancing the power of their neighbours, which might be used to increase their own. Genoa, Lucca, Geneva, and other small commonwealths, having no wars, are not able to nourish the men they breed; but sending many of their children to seek their fortunes abroad, scarce a third part of those that are born among them die in those cities; and if they did not take this course, they would have no better than the nations inhabiting near the River Niger, who sell their children as the increase of their flocks.
This does not less concern monarchies than commonwealths; nor the absolute less than the mixed: All of them have been prosperous or miserable, glorious or contemptible, as they were better or worse arm'd, disciplin'd, or conducted. The Assyrian valour was irresistible under Nebuchadnezzar, but was brought to nothing under his base and luxurious grandson Belshazzar: The Persians who under Cyrus conquer'd Asia, were like swine exposed to slaughter when their discipline failed, and they were commanded by his proud, cruel, and cowardly successors. The Macedonian army overthrown by Aemilius Paulus was not less in number than that with which Alexander gained the empire of the East; and perhaps had not been inferior in valour, if it had been as well commanded. Many poor and almost unknown nations have been carried to such a height of glory by the bravery of their princes, that I might incline to think their government as fit as any other for disciplining a people to war, if their virtues continued in their families, or could be transmitted to their successors. The impossibility of this is a breach never to be repaired; and no account is to be made of the good that is always uncertain, and seldom enjoy'd. This disease is not only in absolute monarchies, but in those also where any regard is had to succession of blood, tho under the strictest limitations. The fruit of all the victories gained by Edward the first and third, or Henry the fifth of England, perished by the baseness of their successors: the glory of our arms was turned into shame; and we, by the loss of treasure, blood, and territory, suffer'd the punishment of their vices. The effects of these changes are not always equally violent; but they are frequent, and must fall out as often as occasion is presented. It was not possible for Lewis the 13th of France to pursue the great designs of Henry the Fourth: Christina of Sweden could not supply the place of her brave father; nor the present king in his infancy accomplish what the great Charles Gustavus had nobly undertaken: and no remedy can be found for this mortal infirmity, unless the power be put into the hands of those who are able to execute it, and not left to the blindness of fortune. When the regal power is committed to an annual or otherwise chosen magistracy, the virtues of excellent men are of use, but all does not depend upon their persons: One man finishes what another had begun; and when many are by practice rendered able to perform the same things, the loss of one is easily supplied by the election of another. When good principles are planted, they do not die with the person that introduced them; and good constitutions remain, tho the authors of them perish. Rome did not fall back into slavery when Brutus was killed, who had led them to recover their liberty: Others like to him pursued the same ends; and notwithstanding the loss of so many great commanders consumed in their almost continual wars, they never wanted such as were fit to execute whatever they could design. A well-governed state is as fruitful to all good purposes, as the seven-headed serpent is said to have been in evil; when one head is cut off, many rise up in the place of it. Good order being once established, makes good men; and as long as it lasts, such as are fit for the greatest employments will never be wanting. By this means the Romans could not be surprised: No king or captain ever invaded them, who did not find many excellent commanders to oppose him; whereas they themselves found it easy to overthrow kingdoms, tho they had been established by the bravest princes, through the baseness of their successors.
But if our author say true, 'tis of no advantage to a popular state to have excellent men; and therefore he imposes a necessity upon every people to chuse the worst men for being the worst, and most like to themselves; lest that if virtuous and good men should come into power, they should be excluded for being vicious and wicked, &c. Wise men would seize upon the state, and take it from the people. For the understanding of these words, 'tis good to consider whether they are to be taken simply, as usually applied to the Devil and some of his instruments, or relatively, as to the thing in question: If simply, it must be concluded that Valerius, Brutus, Cincinnatus, Capitolinus, Mamercus, Aemilius Paulus, Nasica, and others like to them, were not only the worst men of the city; but that they were so often advanced to the supreme magistracies, because they were so: if in the other sense relating to magistracy and the command of armies, the worst are the most ignorant, unfaithful, slothful, or cowardly; and our author to make good his proposition, must prove, that when the people of Rome, Carthage, Athens, and other states had the power of chusing whom they pleased, they did chuse Camillus, Corvinus, Torquatus, Fabius, Rullus, Scipio, Hamilcar, Hannibal, Hasdrubal, Pelopidas, Epaminondas, Pericles, Aristides, Themistocles, Phocion, Alcibiades, and others like to them, for their ignorance, infidelity, sloth, and cowardice; and on account of those vices, most like to those who chose them. But if these were the worst, I desire to know what wit or eloquence can describe or comprehend the excellency of the best; or of the discipline that brings whole nations to such perfection, that worse than these could not be found among them? And if they were not so, but such as all succeeding ages have justly admir'd for their wisdom, virtue, industry, and valour, the impudence of so wicked and false an assertion ought to be rejected with scorn and hatred.
But if all governments whether monarchical or popular, absolute or limited, deserve praise or blame as they are well or ill constituted for making war; and that the attainment of this end do entirely depend upon the qualifications of the commanders, and the strength, courage, number, affection, and temper of the people out of which the armies are drawn; those governments must necessarily be the best which take the best care that those armies may be well commanded; and so provide for the good of the people, that they may daily increase in number, courage, and strength, and be so satisfied with the present state of things, as to fear a change, and fight for the preservation or advancement of the publick interest as of their own. We have already found that in hereditary monarchies no care at all is taken of the commander: He is not chosen, but comes by chance; and does not only frequently prove defective, but for the most part utterly incapable of performing any part of his duty; whereas in popular governments excellent men are generally chosen; and there are so many of them, that if one or more perish, others are ready to supply their places. And this discourse having (if I mistake not) in the whole series, shewn, that the advantages of popular governments, in relation to the increase of courage, number, and strength in a people, out of which armies are to be formed, and bringing them to such a temper as prepares them bravely to perform their duty, are as much above those of monarchies, as the prudence of choice surpasses the accidents of birth, it cannot be denied that in both respects the part which relates to war is much better perform'd in popular governments than in monarchies.
That which we are by reason led to believe, is confirmed to us by experience. We everywhere see the difference between the courage of men fighting for themselves and their posterity, and those that serve a master who by good success is often render'd insupportable. This is of such efficacy, that no king could ever boast to have overthrown any considerable commonwealth, unless it were divided within itself, or weakened by wars made with such as were also free; which was the case of the Grecian commonwealths when the Macedonians fell in upon them. Whereas the greatest kingdoms have been easily destroy'd by commonwealths; and these also have lost all strength, valour, and spirit after the change of their government. The power and virtue of the Italians grew up, decayed and perished with their liberty. When they were divided into many commonwealths, every one of them was able to send out great armies, and to suffer many defeats before they were subdued; so that their cities were delivered up by the old men, women, and children, when all those who were able to bear arms had been slain: And when they were all brought under the Romans, either as associates or subjects, they made the greatest strength that ever was in the world.
Alexander of Epirus was in valour thought equal, and in power little inferior to Alexander of Macedon: but having the fortune to attack those who had been brought up in liberty, taught to hazard or suffer all things for it, and to think that God has given to men hands and swords only to defend it, he perished in his attempt; whilst the other encountering slavish nations, under the conduct of proud, cruel, and for the most part unwarlike tyrants, became master of Asia.
Pyrrhus seems to have been equal to either of them; but the victories he obtain'd by an admirable valour and conduct, cost him so dear, that he desir'd peace with those enemies who might be defeated, not subdued.
Hannibal wanting the prudence of Pyrrhus, lost the fruits of all his victories; and being torn out of Italy, where he had nested himself, fell under the sword of those whose fathers he had defeated or slain; and died a banish'd man from his ruin'd country.
The Gauls did once bring Rome, when it was small, to the brink of destruction; but they left their carcasses to pay for the mischiefs they had done; and in succeeding times their invasions were mention'd as tumults rather than wars.
The Germans did perhaps surpass them in numbers and strength, and were equal to them in fortune as long as Rome was free. They often enter'd Italy, but they continued not long there, unless under the weight of their chains. Whereas the same nations, and others like to them, assaulting that country, or other provinces under the emperors, found no other difficulty than what did arise upon contests among themselves who should be master of them. No manly virtue or discipline remain'd among the Italians: Those who govern'd them, relied upon tricks and shifts; they who could not defend themselves, hired some of those nations to undertake their quarrels against others. These trinklings could not last: The Goths scorning to depend upon those who in valour and strength were much inferior to themselves, seized upon the city that had commanded the world, whilst Honorius was so busy in providing for his hens, that he could not think of defending it. Arcadius had the luck not to lose his principal city; but passing his time among fiddlers, players, eunuchs, cooks, dancers, and buffoons, the provinces were securely plunder'd and ransack'd by nations, that are known only from their victories against him.
'Tis in vain to say that this proceeded from the fatal corruption of that age; for that corruption proceeded from the government, and the ensuing desolation was the effect of it. And as the like disorder in government has been ever since in Greece and the greatest part of Italy, those countries which for extent, riches, convenience of situation, and numbers of men, are equal to the best in the world, and for the wit, courage, and industry of the natives, perhaps justly preferable to any, have since that time been always exposed as a prey to the first invader. Charles the Eighth of France is by Guicciardini, and other writers, represented as a prince equally weak in body, mind, money, and forces; but as an ill hare is said to make a good dog, he conquer'd the best part of Italy without breaking a lance. Ferdinand and Alfonso of Aragon, kings of Naples, had governed by trepanners, false witnesses, corrupt judges, mercenary soldiers, and other ministers of iniquity; but these could afford no help against an invader; and neither the oppressed nobility, nor people, concerning themselves in the quarrel, they who had been proud, fierce, and cruel against their poor subjects, never durst look an enemy in the face; and the father dying with anguish and fear, the son shamefully fled from his ill governed kingdom.
The same things are no less evident in Spain. No people ever defended themselves with more obstinacy and valour than the Spaniards did against the Carthaginians and Romans, who surpassed them in wealth and skill. Livy calls themgentem ad bella gerenda & reparanda natam, and who generally kill'd themselves when they were master'd and disarm'd, nullam sine armis vitam esse rati. But tho the mixture of Roman blood could not impair their race, and the conjunction of the Goths had improved their force; yet no more was requir'd for the overthrow of them all, than the weakness and baseness of the two lewd tyrants Witiza and Rodrigo, who disdained all laws, and resolved to govern according to their lust. They who for more than two hundred years had resisted the Romans, were entirely subdued by the vile, half naked Moors, in one slight skirmish; and do not to this day know what became of the king who brought the destruction upon them. That kingdom after many revolutions is with many others come to the house of Austria, and enjoys all the wealth of the Indies; whereupon they are thought to have affected an universal monarchy. Sed ut sunt levia aulicorum ingenia, this was grounded upon nothing except their own vanity: They had money and craft; but wanting that solid virtue and strength which makes and preserves conquests, their kings have nothing but Milan that did not come to them by marriage: And tho they have not received any extraordinary disasters in war, yet they languish and consume through the defects of their own government, and are forced to beg assistance from their mortal and formerly despis'd enemies. These are the best hopes of defence that they have from abroad; and the only enemy an invader ought to fear in their desolate territories is that want and famine which testifies the good order, strength and stability of our author's divine monarchy; the profound wisdom of their kings in subtly finding out so sure a way of defending the country; their paternal care in providing for the good of their subjects; and that whatsoever is defective in the prince, is assuredly supplied by the sedulity of a good council.
We have already said enough to obviate the objections that may be drawn
from the prosperity of the French monarchy. The beauty of it is false and
painted. There is a rich and haughty king, who is bless'd with such neighbours
as are not likely to disturb him, and has nothing to fear from his miserable
subjects; but the whole body of that state is full of boils, and wounds,
and putrid sores: There is no real strength in it. The people is so unwilling
to serve him, that he is said to have put to death above fourscore thousand
of his own soldiers within the space of fifteen years, for flying from
their colours; and if he were vigorously attack'd, little help could be
expected from a discontented nobility, or a starving and despairing people.
If to diminish the force of these arguments and examples, it be said that
in two or three thousand years all things are changed; the ancient virtue
of mankind is extinguished; and the love that everyone had to his country
is turned into a care of his private interests: I answer, that time changes
nothing, and the changes produced in this time proceed only from the change
of governments. The nations which have been governed arbitrarily, have
always suffer'd the same plagues, and been infected with the same vices;
which is as natural, as for animals ever to generate according to their
kinds, and fruits to be of the same nature with the roots and seeds from
which they come. The same order that made men valiant and industrious in
the service of their country during the first ages, would have the same
effect, if it were now in being: Men would have the same love to the publick
as the Spartans and Romans had, if there was the same reason for it. We
need no other proof of this than what we have seen in our own country,
where in a few years good discipline, and a just encouragement given to
those who did well, produced more examples of pure, compleat, incorruptible,
and invincible virtue than Rome or Greece could ever boast; or if more
be wanting, they may easily be found among the Switzers, Hollanders and
others: but 'tis not necessary to light a candle to the sun.
1. By searching into the causes from whence they may, or usually do arise.
2. Which kind has actually been most frequently and dangerously disturbed by them.
To the first: Seditions, tumults, and wars do arise from mistake, or from malice; from just occasions, or unjust: from mistake, when a people thinks an evil to be done or intended, which is not done nor intended, or takes that to be evil which is done, tho in truth it be not so. Well regulated cities may fall into these errors. The Romans being jealous of their newly recover'd liberty, thought that Valerius Publicola designed to make himself king, when he built a house in a place that seemed too strong and eminent for a private man. The Spartans were not less suspicious of Lycurgus; and a lewd young fellow in a sedition put out one of his eyes: but no people ever continued in a more constant affection to their best deserving citizens, than both the Romans and Spartans afterwards manifested to those virtuous and wrongfully suspected men.
Sometimes the fact is true, but otherwise understood than was intended. When the Tarquins were expelled from Rome, the patricians retained to themselves the principal magistracies; but never thought of bringing back kings, or of setting up a corrupt oligarchy among themselves, as the plebeians imagin'd: And this mistake being discover'd, the fury they had conceived, vanished; and they who seemed to intend nothing less than the extirpation of all the patrician families, grew quiet. Menenius Agrippa appeased one of the most violent seditions that ever happened amongst them (till civil interests were pursued by armed troops) with a fable of the several parts of the body that murmur'd against the belly: and the most dangerous of all was composed by creating tribunes to protect them. Some of the patrician young men had favour'd the decemviri, and others being unwilling to appear against them, the people believed they had all conspired with those new tyrants: but Valerius and Horatius putting themselves at the head of those who sought their destruction, they perceived their error, and looked upon the patricians as the best defenders of their liberties: Et inde, says Livy, auram libertatis captare, unde servitutem timuissent. Democratical governments are most liable to these mistakes: In aristocracies they are seldom seen, and we hear of none in Sparta after the establishment of the laws by Lycurgus; but absolute monarchies seem to be totally exempted from them. The mischiefs design'd are often dissembled or denied, till they are past all possibility of being cured by any other way than force: and such as are by necessity driven to use that remedy, know they must perfect their work or perish. He that draws his sword against the prince, say the French, ought to throw away the scabbard; for tho the design be never so just, yet the authors are sure to be ruin'd if it miscarry. Peace is seldom made, and never kept, unless the subject retain such a power in his hands, as may oblige the prince to stand to what is agreed; and in time some trick is found to deprive them of that benefit.
Seditions proceeding from malice, are seldom or never seen in popular governments; for they are hurtful to the people, and none have ever willingly and knowingly hurt themselves. There may be, and often is malice in those who excite them; but the people is ever deceiv'd, and whatsoever is thereupon done, ought to be imputed to error, as I said before. If this be discovered in time, it usually turns to the destruction of the contriver; as in the cases of Manlius Capitolinus, Spurius Maelius, and Sp. Cassius: if not, for the most part it produces a tyranny, as in those of Agathocles, Dionysius, Pisistratus, and Caesar. But in absolute monarchies, almost all the troubles that arise, proceed from malice; they cannot be reformed, the extinction of them is exceeding difficult, if they have continued long enough to corrupt the people; and those who appear against them, seek only to set up themselves, or their friends. Thus we see that in the civil wars of the East, the question was, whether Artaxerxes or Cyrus, Phraates or Bardanes, should reign over the Persians and Parthians: The people suffer'd equally from both whilst the contests lasted; and the decision left them under the power of a proud and cruel master. The like is seen in all places. After the death of Brutus and Cassius, no war was ever undertaken in the Roman empire upon a better account than one man's private concernments: The provinces suffer'd under all; and he, whom they had assisted to overthrow one wicked tyrant, very often proved worse than his predecessor. And the only ground of all the dissensions with which France was vexed under the princes of Meroveus's and Pepin's races, were, which of them should reign, the people remaining miserable under them all.
The case is not much different in mixed monarchies: Some wars may be undertaken upon a just and publick account, but the pretences are commonly false: a lasting reformation is hardly introduced, an entire change often disliked. And tho such kingdoms are frequently and terribly distracted, as appears by the beforemention'd examples of England, Spain, &c. the quarrels are for the most part begun upon personal titles, as between Henry the First and Robert; Stephen and Maude; or the houses of Lancaster and York: and the people who get nothing by the victory which way soever it fall, and might therefore prudently leave the competitors to decide their own quarrels, like Theorestes and Polynices, with their own swords, become cruelly engaged in them.
It may seem strange to some that I mention seditions, tumults, and wars, upon just occasions; but I can find no reason to retract the term. God intending that men should live justly with one another, does certainly intend that he or they who do no wrong, should suffer none; and the law that forbids injuries, were of no use, if no penalty might be inflicted on those that will not obey it. If injustice therefore be evil, and injuries forbidden, they are also to be punished; and the law instituted for their prevention, must necessarily intend the avenging of such as cannot be prevented. The work of the magistracy is to execute this law; the sword of justice is put into their hands to restrain the fury of those within the society who will not be a law to themselves, and the sword of war to protect the people against the violence of foreigners. This is without exception, and would be in vain if it were not. But the magistrate who is to protect the people from injury, may, and is often known not to have done it: he sometimes renders his office useless by neglecting to do justice; sometimes mischievous by overthrowing it. This strikes at the root of God's general ordinance, that there should be laws; and the particular ordinances of all societies that appoint such as seem best to them. The magistrate therefore is comprehended under both, and subject to both, as well as private men.
The ways of preventing or punishing injuries, are judicial or extrajudicial. Judicial proceedings are of force against those who submit or may be brought to trial, but are of no effect against those who resist, and are of such power that they cannot be constrained. It were absurd to cite a man to appear before a tribunal who can awe the judges, or has armies to defend him; and impious to think that he who has added treachery to his other crimes, and usurped a power above the law, should be protected by the enormity of his wickedness. Legal proceedings therefore are to be used when the delinquent submits to the law; and all are just, when he will not be kept in order by the legal.
The word sedition is generally applied to all numerous assemblies, without or against the authority of the magistrate, or of those who assume that power. Athaliah and Jezebel were more ready to cry out treason than David; and examples of that sort are so frequent, that I need not allege them.
Tumult is from the disorderly manner of those assemblies, where things can seldom be done regularly; and war is that decertatio per vim, or trial by force, to which men come when other ways are ineffectual.
If the laws of God and men are therefore of no effect, when the magistracy is left at liberty to break them; and if the lusts of those who are too strong for the tribunals of justice, cannot be otherwise restrained than by sedition, tumults and war, those seditions, tumults, and wars, are justified by the laws of God and man.
I will not take upon me to enumerate all the cases in which this may be done, but content myself with three, which have most frequently given occasion for proceedings of this kind.
The first is, when one or more men take upon them the power and name of a magistracy, to which they are not justly called.
The second, when one or more being justly called, continue in their magistracy longer than the laws by which they are called do prescribe.
And the third, when he or they who are rightly called, do assume a power, tho within the time prescribed, that the law does not give; or turn that which the law does give, to an end different and contrary to that which is intended by it.
For the first; Filmer forbids us to examine titles: he tells us, we must submit to the power, whether acquired by usurpation or otherwise, not observing the mischievous absurdity of rewarding the most detestable villainies with the highest honours, and rendering the veneration due to the supreme magistrate as father of the people, to one who has no other advantage above his brethren, than what he has gained by injuriously dispossessing or murdering him that was so. Hobbes fearing the advantages that may be taken from such desperate nonsense, or not thinking it necessary to his end to carry the matter so far, has no regard at all to him who comes in without title or consent; and denying him to be either king or tyrant, gives him no other name than hostis & latro, and allows all things to be lawful against him, that may be done to a publick enemy or pirate: which is as much as to say, any man may destroy him how he can. Whatever he may be guilty of in other respects, he does in this follow the voice of mankind, and the dictates of common sense: for no man can make himself a magistrate for himself, and no man can have the right of a magistrate, who is not a magistrate. If he be justly accounted an enemy to all, who injures all; he above all must be the publick enemy of a nation, who by usurping a power over them, does the greatest and most publick injury that a people can suffer: For which reason, by an established law among the most virtuous nations, every man might kill a tyrant; and no names are recorded in history with more honour, than of those who did it.
These are by other authors called tyranni sine titulo, and that name is given to all those who obtain the supreme power by illegal and unjust means. The laws which they overthrow can give them no protection; and every man is a soldier against him who is a publick enemy.
The same rule holds tho they are more in number, as the magi who usurped the dominion of Persia after the death of Cambyses; the thirty tyrants at Athens overthrown by Thrasybulus; those of Thebes slain by Pelopidas; the decemviri of Rome, and others: for tho the multitude of offenders may sometimes procure impunity, yet that act which is wicked in one, must be so in ten or twenty; and whatsoever is lawful against one usurper, is so against them all.
2. If those who were rightly created, continue beyond the time limited by the law, 'tis the same thing. That which is expir'd, is as if it had never been. He that was created consul for a year, or dictator for six months, was after that a private man; and if he had continued in the exercise of his magistracy, had been subject to the same punishment as if he had usurped it at the first. This was known to Epaminondas, who finding that his enterprize against Sparta could not be accomplished within the time for which he was made boeotarch, rather chose to trust his countrymen with his life than to desist, and was saved merely through an admiration of his virtue, assurance of his good intentions, and the glory of the action.
The Roman decemviri, tho duly elected, were proceeded against as private men usurping the magistracy, when they continued beyond their time. Other magistrates had ceased; there was none that could regularly call the senate or people to an assembly: but when their ambition was manifest, and the people exasperated by the death of Virginia, they laid aside all ceremonies. The senate and people met, and exercising their authority in the same manner as if they had been regularly called by the magistrate appointed to that end, they abrogated the power of the decemviri, proceeded against them as enemies and tyrants, and by that means preserved themselves from utter ruin.
3. The same course is justly used against a legal magistrate, who takes upon him (tho within the time prescribed by the law) to exercise a power which the law does not give; for in that respect he is a private man, Quia, as Grotius says, eatenus non habet imperium; and may be restrain'd as well as any other, because he is not set up to do what he lists, but what the law appoints for the good of the people; and as he has no other power than what the law allows, so the same law limits and directs the exercise of that which he has. This right naturally belonging to nations, is no way impair'd by the name of supreme given to their magistrates; for it signifies no more, than that they do act sovereignly in the matters committed to their charge. Thus are the parliaments of France called cours souveraines; for they judge of life and death, determine controversies concerning estates; and there is no appeal from their decrees: but no man ever thought, that it was therefore lawful for them to do what they pleased; or that they might not be opposed, if they should attempt to do that which they ought not. And tho the Roman dictators and consuls were supreme magistrates, they were subject to the people, and might be punished as well as others if they transgressed the law. Thuanus carries the word so far, that when Barlotta, Giustiniano, and others who were but colonels, were sent as commanders in chief of three or four thousand men upon an enterprize, he always says, summum imperium et delatum. Grotius explains this point, by distinguishing those who have the summum imperium summo modo, from those who have it modo non summo. I know not where to find an example of this sovereign power, enjoy'd without restriction, under a better title than occupation; which relates not to our purpose, who seek only that which is legal and just. Therefore laying aside that point for the present, we may follow Grotius in examining the right of those who are certainly limited: Ubi partem imperii habet rex, partem senatus sive populus; in which case he says, regi in partem non suam involanti, vis justa opponi potest, in as much as they who have a part, cannot but have a right of defending that part. Quia data facultate, datur jus facultatem tuendi, without which it could be of no effect.
The particular limits of the rights belonging to each, can only be judged by the precise letter, or general intention of the law. The dukes of Venice have certainly a part in the government, and could not be called magistrates if they had not. They are said to be supreme; all laws and publick acts bear their names. The ambassador of that state speaking to Pope Paul the 5th, denied that he acknowledged any other superior than God. But they are so well known to be under the power of the law, that divers of them have been put to death for transgressing it; and a marble gallows is seen at the foot of the stairs in St. Mark's palace, upon which some of them, and no others, have been executed. But if they may be duly opposed, when they commit undue acts, no man of judgment will deny, that if one of them by an outrageous violence should endeavour to overthrow the law, he might by violence be suppressed and chastised.
Again, some magistrates are entrusted with a power of providing ships, arms, ammunition, and victuals for war; raising and disciplining soldiers, appointing officers to command in forts and garrisons, and making leagues with foreign princes and states. But if one of these should embezzle, sell, or give to an enemy those ships, arms, ammunition or provisions; betray the forts; employ only or principally, such men as will serve him in those wicked actions; and, contrary to the trust reposed in him, make such leagues with foreigners, as tend to the advancement of his personal interests, and to the detriment of the publick, he abrogates his own magistracy; and the right he had, perishes (as the lawyers say) frustratione finis. He cannot be protected by the law which he has overthrown, nor obtain impunity for his crimes from the authority that was conferred upon him, only that he might do good with it. He was singulis major on account of the excellence of his office; but universis minor, from the nature and end of his institution. The surest way of extinguishing his prerogative, was by turning it to the hurt of those who gave it. When matters are brought to this posture, the author of the mischief, or the nation must perish. A flock cannot subsist under a shepherd that seeks its ruin, nor a people under an unfaithful magistrate. Honour and riches are justly heaped upon the heads of those who rightly perform their duty, because the difficulty as well as the excellency of the work is great. It requires courage, experience, industry, fidelity and wisdom. The good shepherd, says our Saviour, lays down his life for his sheep: The hireling who flies in time of danger, is represented under an ill character; but he that sets himself to destroy his flock, is a wolf. His authority is incompatible with their subsistence; and whoever disapproves tumults, seditions or war, by which he may be removed from it, if gentler means are ineffectual, subverts the foundation of all law, exalts the fury of one man to the destruction of a nation; and giving an irresistible power to the most abominable iniquity, exposes all that are good to be destroy'd, and virtue to be utterly extinguished.
Few will allow such a preeminence to the dukes of Venice or Genoa the avoyers of Switzerland, or the burgomasters of Amsterdam. Many will say these are rascals if they prove false, and ought rather to be hang'd, than suffer'd to accomplish the villainies they design. But if this be confess'd in relation to the highest magistrates that are among those nations, why should not the same be in all others, by what name soever they are called? When did God confer upon those nations the extraordinary privilege of providing better for their own safety than others? Or was the gift universal, tho the benefit accrue only to those who have banished great titles from among them? If this be so, 'tis not their felicity, but their wisdom that we ought to admire and imitate. But why should any think their ancestors had not the same care? Have not they, who retain'd in themselves a power over a magistrate of one name, the like over another? Is there a charm in words, or any name of such efficacy, that he who receives it should immediately become master of those that created him, whereas all others do remain forever subject to them? Would the Venetian government change its nature, if they should give the name of king to their prince? Are the Polanders less free since the title of king is conferr'd upon their dukes; or are the Muscovites less slaves, because their chief magistrate has no other than that of duke? If we examine things but a little, 'twill appear that magistrates have enjoy'd large powers, who never had the name of kings; and none were ever more restrained by laws than those of Sparta, Aragon, the Goths in Spain, Hungary, Bohemia, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, and others, who had that title.
There is therefore no such thing as a right universally belonging to a name; but everyone enjoys that which the laws, by which he is, confer upon him. The law that gives the power, regulates it; and they who give no more than what they please, cannot be obliged to suffer him to whom they give it, to take more than they thought fit to give, or to go unpunished if he do. The agreements made are always confirmed by oath, and the treachery of violating them is consequently aggravated by perjury. They are good philosophers and able divines, who think this can create a right to those who had none; or that the laws can be a protection to such as overthrow them, and give opportunity of doing the mischiefs they design. If it do not, then he that was a magistrate, by such actions returns into the condition of a private man; and whatever is lawful against a thief who submits to no law, is lawful against him.
Men who delight in cavils may ask, who shall be the judge of these occasions? and whether I intend to give to the people the decision of their own cause? To which I answer, that when the contest is between the magistrate and the people, the party to which the determination is referred, must be the judge of his own case; and the question is only, whether the magistrate should depend upon the judgment of the people, or the people on that of the magistrate; and which is most to be suspected of injustice: That is, whether the people of Rome should judge Tarquin, or Tarquin judge the people. He that knew all good men abhorred him for the murder of his wife, brother, father-in-law, and the best of the senate, would certainly strike off the heads of the most eminent remaining poppies; and having incurr'd the general hatred of the people by the wickedness of his government, he feared revenge; and endeavouring to destroy those he feared (that is the city) he might easily have accomplish'd his work, if the judgment had been referred to him. If the people judge Tarquin, 'tis hard to imagine how they should be brought to give an unjust sentence: They loved their former kings, and hated him only for his villainies: They did not fancy, but know his cruelty. When the best were slain, no man that any way resembled them could think himself secure. Brutus did not pretend to be a fool, till by the murder of his brother he found how dangerous a thing it was to be thought wise. If the people, as our author says, be always lewd, foolish, mad, wicked, and desirous to put the power into the hands of such as are most like to themselves, he and his sons were such men as they sought, and he was sure to find favourable judges: If virtuous and good, no injustice was to be feared from them, and he could have no other reason to decline their judgment, than what was suggested by his own wickedness. Caligula, Nero, Domitian, and the like, had probably the same considerations: But no man of common sense ever thought that the senate and people of Rome did not better deserve to judge, whether such monsters should reign over the best part of mankind to their destruction, than they to determine whether their crimes should be punished or not.
If I mention some of these known cases, every man's experience will suggest others of the like nature; and whosoever condemns all seditions, tumults and wars raised against such princes, must say, that none are wicked, or seek the ruin of their people, which is absurd; for Caligula wish'd the people had but one neck, that he might cut it off at a blow: Nero set the city on fire, and we have known such as have been worse than either of them: They must either be suffer'd to continue in the free exercise of their rage, that is, to do all the mischief they design; or must be restrain'd by a legal, judicial, or extrajudicial way; and they who disallow the extrajudicial, do as little like the judicial. They will not hear of bringing a supreme magistrate before a tribunal, when it may be done. They will, says our author, depose their kings. Why should they not be deposed, if they become enemies to their people, and set up an interest in their own persons inconsistent with the publick good, for the promoting of which they were erected? If they were created by the publick consent, for the publick good, shall they not be removed when they prove to be of publick damage? If they set up themselves, may they not be thrown down? Shall it be lawful for them to usurp a power over the liberty of others, and shall it not be lawful for an injur'd people to resume their own? If injustice exalt itself, must it be forever established? Shall great persons be rendered sacred by rapine, perjury and murder? Shall the crimes for which private men do justly suffer the most grievous punishments, exempt them from all, who commit them in the highest excess, with most power, and most to the prejudice of mankind? Shall the laws that solely aim at the prevention of crimes be made to patronize them, and become snares to the innocent whom they ought to protect? Has every man given up into the common store his right of avenging the injuries he may receive, that the publick power which ought to protect or avenge him, should be turned to the destruction of himself, his posterity, and the society into which they enter, without any possibility of redress? Shall the ordinance of God be rendered of no effect; or the powers he hath appointed to be set up for the distribution of justice, be made subservient to the lusts of one or a few men, and by impunity encourage them to commit all manner of crimes? Is the corruption of man's nature so little known, that such as have common sense should expect justice from those, who fear no punishment if they do injustice; or that the modesty, integrity, and innocence, which is seldom found in one man, tho never so cautiously chosen, should be constantly found in all those who by any means attain to greatness, and continue forever in their successors; or that there can be any security under their government, if they have them not? Surely if this were the condition of men living under government, forests would be more safe than cities; and 'twere better for every man to stand in his own defence, than to enter into societies. He that lives alone might encounter such as should assault him upon equal terms, and stand or fall according to the measure of his courage and strength; but no valour can defend him, if the malice of his enemy be upheld by a publick power. There must therefore be a right of proceeding judicially or extrajudicially against all persons who transgress the laws; or else those laws, and the societies that should subsist by them, cannot stand; and the ends for which governments are constituted, together with the governments themselves, must be overthrown. Extrajudicial proceedings by sedition, tumult, or war, must take place, when the persons concern'd are of such power, that they cannot be brought under the judicial. They who deny this, deny all help against an usurping tyrant, or the perfidiousness of a lawfully created magistrate, who adds the crimes of ingratitude and treachery to usurpation. These of all men are the most dangerous enemies to supreme magistrates: for as no man desires indemnity for such crimes as are never committed, he that would exempt all from punishment, supposes they will be guilty of the worst; and by concluding that the people will depose them if they have the power, acknowledge that they pursue an interest annexed to their persons, contrary to that of their people, which they would not bear if they could deliver themselves from it. This shewing all those governments to be tyrannical, lays such a burden upon those who administer them, as must necessarily weigh them down to destruction.
If it be said that the word sedition implies that which is evil; I answer, that it ought not then to be applied to those who seek nothing but that which is just; and tho the ways of delivering an oppressed people from the violence of a wicked magistrate, who having armed a crew of lewd villains, and fatted them with the blood and confiscations of such as were most ready to oppose him, be extraordinary, the inward righteousness of the act doth fully justify the authors. He that has virtue and power to save a people, can never want a right of doing it. Valerius Asiaticus had no hand in the death of Caligula; but when the furious guards began tumultuously to enquire who had kill'd him, he appeased them with wishing he had been the man. No wise man ever asked by what authority Thrasybulus, Harmodius, Aristogiton, Pelopidas, Epaminondas, Dion, Timoleon, Lucius Brutus, Publicola, Horatius, Valerius, Marcus Brutus, C. Cassius, and the like, delivered their countries from tyrants. Their actions carried in themselves their own justification, and their virtues will never be forgotten whilst the names of Greece and Rome are remembered in the world.
If this be not enough to declare the justice inherent in, and the glory that ought to accompany these works, the examples of Moses, Aaron, Othniel, Ehud, Barak, Gideon, Samuel, Jephthah, David, Jehu, Jehoiada, the Maccabees, and other holy men raised up by God for the deliverance of his people from their oppressors, decide the question. They are perpetually renowned for having led the people by extraordinary ways (which such as our author express under the names of sedition, tumult, and war) to recover their liberties, and avenge the injuries received from foreign or domestick tyrants. The work of the apostles was not in their time to set up or pull down any civil state; but they so behaved themselves in relation to all the powers of the earth, that they gained the name of pestilent, seditious fellows, disturbers of the people; and left it as an inheritance to those, who in succeeding ages by following their steps should deserve to be called their successors; whereby they were exposed to the hatred of corrupt magistrates, and brought under the necessity of perishing by them, or defending themselves against them: and he that denies them that right, does at once condemn the most glorious actions of the wisest, best, and holiest men that have been in the world, together with the laws of God and man, upon which they were founded.
Nevertheless, there is a sort of sedition, tumult, and war proceeding from malice, which is always detestable, aiming only at the satisfaction of private lust, without regard to the publick good. This cannot happen in a popular government, unless it be amongst the rabble; or when the body of the people is so corrupted, that it cannot stand; but is most frequent in, and natural to absolute monarchies. When Abimelech desir'd to make himself king, he raised a tumult among the basest of the people: He hired light and vain persons, some translations call them lewd vagabonds, kill'd his brethren, but perished in his design; the corrupt party that favour'd him not having strength enough to subdue the other, who were more sincere. Sp. Maelius, Sp. Cassius, and Manlius attempted the like in Rome: they acted maliciously, their pretences to procure the publick good were false. 'Tis probable that some in the city were as bad as they, and knew that mischief was intended; but the body of the people not being corrupted, they were suppressed. It appear'd, says Livy, nihil esse minus populare quam regnum: they who had favour'd Manlius, condemned him to death when it was proved, that egregias alioqui virtutes foeda regni cupidine maculasset. But when the people is generally corrupted, such designs seldom miscarry, and the success is always the erection of a tyranny. Nothing else can please vain and profligate persons, and no tyranny was ever set up by such as were better qualified. The ways of attaining it have always been by corrupting the manners of the people, bribing soldiers, entertaining mercenary strangers, opening prisons, giving liberty to slaves, alluring indigent persons with hopes of abolishing debts, coming to a new division of lands, and the like. Seditions raised by such men always tend to the ruin of popular governments; but when they happen under absolute monarchies, the hurt intended is only to the person, who being removed the promoters of them set up another; and he that is set up, subsisting only by the strength of those who made him, is obliged to foment the vices that drew them to serve him; tho another may perhaps make use of the same against him.
The consequence of this is, that those who uphold popular governments, look upon vice and indigence as mischiefs that naturally increase each other, and equally tend to the ruin of the state. When men are by vice brought into want, they are ready for mischief: there is no villainy that men of profligate lives, lost reputation, and desperate fortunes will not undertake. Popular equality is an enemy to these; and they who would preserve it must preserve integrity of manners, sobriety, and an honest contentedness with what the law allows. On the other side, the absolute monarch who will have no other law than his own will, desires to increase the number of those who through lewdness and beggary may incline to depend upon him; tho the same temper of mind, and condition of fortune prepare them also for such seditions as may bring him into danger; and the same corruption which led them to set him up, may invite them to sell him to another that will give them better wages.
I do not by this conclude that all monarchs are vicious men; but that whoever will set up an absolute power, must do it by these means; and that if such a power be already established, and should fall into the hands of a person, who by his virtue and the gentleness of his nature should endeavour to render the yoke so easy, that a better disciplin'd people might be contented to bear it; yet this method could last no longer than his life, and probably would be a means to shorten it; that which was at first established by evil arts always returning to the same: That which was vicious in the principle, can never be long upheld by virtue; and we see that the worst of the Roman emperors were not in greater danger from such good men as remained undestroy'd, than the best from the corrupt party that would not be corrected, and sought such a master as would lay no restriction upon their vices. Those few who escaped the rage of these villains, only gave a little breathing time to the afflicted world, which by their children or successors was again plunged into that extremity of misery, from which they intended to deliver it. An extraordinary virtue was required to keep a prince in a way contrary to the principles of his own government; which being rarely found, and never continuing long in a family or succession of men, the endeavours of the best became ineffectual, and either they themselves perished in them, or after their death all things returned into the old polluted channel.
Tho the power of the Hebrew kings was not unlimited, yet it exceeded the rules set by God, and was sufficient to increase the number of the worst of men, and to give them opportunities of raising perpetual disturbances. On the king's side there were flatterers and instruments of mischief: On the other side there were indebted and discontented persons. Notwithstanding the justice of David's cause, the wisdom, valour, and piety of his person, none would follow him, except a few of his own kindred (who knew what God had promised to him) and such as were uneasy in their worldly circumstances. After the death of Saul there was a long and bloody war between Ishbosheth and David. The former being killed, the slightest matters were sufficient to put the whole nation into blood. Absalom with a few fair words was able to raise all Israel against his father: Sheba the son of Bichri with as much ease raised a more dangerous tumult: David by wisdom, valour, and the blessing of God surmounted these difficulties, and prepared a peaceable reign for Solomon; but after his death they broke out into a flame that was never quenched till the nation was so dispersed that no man knew where to find his enemies. Solomon by his magnificence had reduced Israel to such poverty, as inclined them to revolt upon the first offer of an opportunity by Jeroboam. From that time forward Israel was perpetually vexed with civil seditions and conspiracies, or wars with their brethren of Judah. Nine kings with their families were destroyed by the first, and the latter brought such slaughters upon the miserable people as were never suffer'd by any who were not agitated by the like fury; and the course of these mischiefs was never interrupted, till they had brought the nation into captivity, and the country to desolation. Tho God according to his promise did preserve a light in the house of David, yet the tribe of Judah was not the more happy. Joash was slain by a private conspiracy, and Amaziah (as is most probable) by publick authority, for having foolishly brought a terrible slaughter upon Judah. Athaliah destroyed the king's race, and was killed herself by Jehoiada, who not having learnt from our author to regard the power only, and not the ways by which it was obtained, caused her to be dragg'd out of the Temple, and put to a well-deserved death. The whole story is a tragedy: and if it be pretended that this proceeded rather from the wrath of God against his people for their idolatry, than from such causes as are applicable to other nations; I answer, that this idolatry was the production of the government they had set up, and most suitable to it; and chusing rather to subject themselves to the will of a man, than to the law of God, they deservedly suffer'd the evils that naturally follow the worst counsels. We know of none who, taking the like course, have not suffer'd the like miseries. Notwithstanding the admirable virtue and success of Alexander, his reign was full of conspiracies, and his knowledge of them prompted him to destroy Parmenio, Philotas, Clitus, Callisthenes, Hermolaus, and many more of his best friends. If he escaped the sword, he fell by poison. The murder of his wives, mother, and children, by the rage of his own soldiers; the fury of his captains employed in mutual slaughters, till they were consumed; his paternal kingdom after many revolutions transferred to Cassander his most mortal enemy; the utter extinction of his conquering army, and particularly the famous Argyraspides, who being grown faithless and seditious, after the death of Eumenes were sent to perish in unknown parts of the East, abundantly testify the admirable stability, good order, peace, and quiet that is enjoy'd under absolute monarchy. The next government of the like nature that appeared upon the stage of the world was that of Rome, introduced by wars that consumed two thirds of the people; confirmed by proscriptions, in which all that were eminent for nobility, riches, or virtue, perished. The peace they had under Augustus was like that which the Devil allow'd to the child in the Gospel, whom he rent sorely, and left as dead. The miserable city was only cast into a swoon: after long and violent vexations by seditions, tumults, and wars, it lay as dead; and finding no helper like to him who cured the child, it was delivered to new devils to be tormented, till it was utterly destroy'd. Tiberius was appointed as a fit instrument for such a purpose. It was thought that those who should feel the effects of his pride, cruelty, and lust, would look upon the death of Augustus as a loss. He performed the work for which he was chosen; his reign was an uninterrupted series of murders, subornations, perjuries, and poisonings, intermixed with the most detestable impurities, the revolts of provinces, and mutinies of armies. The matter was not mended by his successors: Caligula was kill'd by his own guards: Claudius poison'd by his wife: Spain, Gaul, Germany, Pannonia, Moesia, Syria, and Egypt, revolted at once from Nero; the people and senate followed the example of the provinces. This I think was, in our author's sense, sedition with a witness. Nero being dead by the hand of a slave, or his own to prevent that of the hangman, Galba enter'd the city with blood and slaughter; but when his own soldiers found he would not give the money for which they intended to sell the empire, they killed him: and to shew the stability of absolute monarchy, it may be observed, that this was not done by the advice of the senate, or by a conspiracy of great men; Suscepêre duo manipulares populi Romani imperium transferendum, & transtulerunt. Two rascals gave the empire to Otho, and the whole senate was like to be butcher'd for not being so ready to follow their venerable authority as they ought to have been, and hardly escaped the fury of their mad and drunken companions. As a farther testimony that these monarchies are not subject to seditions and tumults, he had at once only two competitors against whom he was to defend the well-acquired empire: His army was defeated at Brescia, he kill'd himself; and his successor Vitellius was soon after thrown into the common shore. The same method still continued: Rome was fill'd with blood and ashes; and to recite all the publick mischiefs would be to transcribe the history: For as Pyrrhus being asked who should succeed him, answered, he who has the sharpest sword; that was the only law that governed in the following ages. Whoever could corrupt two or three legions, thought he had a good title to the empire; and unless he happen'd to be kill'd by treachery, or another tumult of his own soldiers, he seldom receded from it without a battle, wherein he that was most successful, had no other security than what the present temper of the soldiers afforded him; and the miserable provinces having neither virtue nor force, were obliged slavishly to follow the fury or fortune of those villains. In this state did Rome dedicate to Constantine the triumphal arch that had been prepared for Maxentius; and those provinces which had set up Albinus and Niger submitted to Septimius Severus. In the vast variety of accidents that in those ages disturbed the world, no emperor had a better title than what he purchased by money or violence; and enjoyed it no longer than those helps continued, which of all things were the most uncertain. By this means most of the princes perished by the sword, Italy was made desolate, and Rome was several times sacked and burnt. The mistress of the world being made a slave, the provinces which had been acquir'd by the blood of her ancient virtuous citizens, became part of an usurper's patrimony, who without any regard to the publick good, distributed them to his children according to their number, or his passion. These either destroy'd one another, or fell under the sword of a third who had the fortune of their father, the greatest part most commonly falling to the share of the worst. If at any time the contrary happened, the government of the best was but a lucid interval. Well-wishing men grew more extremely to abhor the darkness that follow'd when they were gone. The best of them could do no more than suspend mischief for a while, but could not correct the corrupt principle of their government; and some of them were destroyed as soon as they were thought to intend it: And others who finished their days in peace, left the empire to such persons of their relations as were most unlike to them. Domitian came in as brother to Titus. Commodus and Heliogabalus were recommended by the memory of those virtues that had been found in Antoninus and Aurelius. Honorius and Arcadius, who by their baseness brought utter ruin upon the Western and Eastern empires, were the sons of the brave Theodosius. They who could keep their hands free from blood, and their hearts from malice, covetousness, and pride, could not transmit their virtues to their successors, nor correct the perverseness that lay at the root and foundation of their government. The whole mass of blood was vitiated: the body was but one vast sore, which no hand but that of the Almighty could heal; and he who from an abhorrence of iniquity had declared he would not hear the cries of his own people, when they had chosen the thing that was not good, would not shew mercy to strangers who had done the same thing.
I have insisted upon the Hebrew, Macedonian and Roman histories, because they are the most eminent and best known to us: We are in the dark concerning the Babylonian, Assyrian, Chaldean, Bactrian, and Egyptian monarchies: We know little more of them than the Scripture occasionally relates concerning their barbarous cruelty, bestial pride, and extravagant folly. Others have been like to them, and I know not where to find a peaceable monarchy unless it be in Peru, where the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega says, that a man and a woman, children of the sun and the moon, appearing amongst a barbarous people living without any religion or law, established a government amongst them, which continued in much peace and justice for twelve generations: But this seeming to be as fabulous as their birth, we may pass it over, and fix upon those that are better known; of which there is not one that has not suffer'd more dangerous and mischievous seditions, than all the popular governments that have been in the world: And the condition of those kingdoms which are not absolute, and yet give a preference to birth, without consideration of merit or virtue, is not much better.
This is proved by the reasons of those seditions and tumults, as well as from the fact itself.
The reasons do arise from the violence of the passions that incite men to them, and the intricacy of the questions concerning succession.
Every man has passions; few know how to moderate, and no one can wholly extinguish them. As they are various in their nature, so they are governed by various objects; and men usually follow that which is predominant in them, whether it proceed from anger or desire, and whether it terminate in ambition, covetousness, lust, or any other more or less blamable appetite. Every manner of life furnishes something, that in some measure may foment these; but a crown comprehends all that can be grateful to the most violent and vicious. He who is covetous, has vast revenues, besides what he may get by fraud and rapine, to satisfy his appetite. If he be given to sensuality, the variety of pleasures, and the facility of accomplishing whatever he desires, tends farther to inflame that passion. Such as are ambitious, are incited by the greatness of their power to attempt great matters; and the most sottish or lazy may discharge themselves of cares, and hope that others will be easily hired to take the burden of business upon them whilst they lie at ease. They who naturally incline to pride and cruelty, are more violently tempted to usurp dominion; and the wicked advices of flatterers, always concurring with their passions, incite them to exercise the power they have gotten with the utmost rigor, to satiate their own rage, and to secure themselves against the effects of the publick hatred, which they know they have deserved. If there be, as our author says, no other rule than force and success, and that he must be taken for the father of a people who is in possession of a power over them; whoever has the one, may put the other to a trial. Nay, even those who have regard to justice, will seldom want reasons to persuade them that it is on their side. Something may be amiss in the state; injuries may be done to themselves and their friends. Such honours may be denied as they think they deserve; or others of less merit, as they suppose, may be preferred before them. Men do so rarely make a right estimate of their own merits, that those who mean well may be often deceived: and if nothing but success be requir'd to make a monarch, they may think it just to attempt whatever they can hope to accomplish. This was the case of Julius Caesar; he thought all things lawful, when the consulate, which he supposed he had deserved, was denied.
Viribus utendum est quas fecimus: arma tenenti
Omnia dat qui justa negat.
These enterprizes seem to belong to men of great spirits; but there are none so base not to be capable of undertaking, and (as things may stand) of bringing them to perfection. History represents no man under a more contemptible character of sottish laziness, cowardice, and drunkenness, than Vitellius; no one more impure and sordid than Galba: Otho was advanced for being in his manners like to Nero: Vespasian was scorned for his avarice; till the power fell into such hands as made the world believe none could be unworthy of the empire; and in the following ages the worst men by the worst means most frequently obtained it.
These wounds are not cured by saying, that the law of God and nature prevents this mischief, by annexing the succession of crowns to proximity of blood; for mankind had not been continually afflicted with them if there had been such a law, or that they could have been prevented by it: and tho there were such a law, yet more questions would arise about that proximity, than any wise man would dare to determine. The law can be of no effect, unless there be a power to decide the contests arising upon it: But the fundamental maxim of the great monarchies is, that there can be no interregnum: The heir of the crown is in possession, as soon as he who did enjoy it is dead. Le mort, as the French say, saisit le vif: There can be therefore no such law, or it serves for nothing. If there be judges to interpret the law, no man is a king till judgment be given in his favour; and he is not king by his own title, but by the sentence given by them. If there be none, the law is merely imaginary, and every man may in his own case make it what he pleases. He who has a crown in his view, and arms in his hand, wants nothing but success to make him a king; and if he prosper, all men are obliged to obey him.
'Tis a folly to say the matter is clear, and needs no decision; for every man knows that no law concerning private inheritances can be so exactly drawn, but many controversies will arise upon it, that must be decided by a power to which both parties are subject: and the disputes concerning kingdoms are so much the more difficult, because this law is nowhere to be found; and the more dangerous, because the competitors are for the most part more powerful.
Again, this law must either be general to all mankind, or particular to each nation. If particular, a matter of such importance requires good proof, when, where, how, and by whom it was given to everyone. But the Scriptures testifying to the contrary, that God gave laws to the Jews only, and that no such thing as hereditary monarchy, according to proximity of blood, was prescribed by them, we may safely say, that God did never give any such law to every particular, nor to any nation. If he did not give it to any one, he did not give it to all, for every one is comprehended in all; and if no one has it, 'tis impossible that all can have it; or that it should be obligatory to all, when no man knows or can tell, when, where, and by what hand it was given, nor what is the sense of it: all which is evident by the various laws and customs of nations in the disposal of hereditary successions: And no one of them, that we know, has to this day been able to shew that the method follow'd by them, is more according to nature than that of others.
If our author pretend to be God's interpreter, and to give the solution of these doubts, I may ask which of the five following ways are appointed by God, and then we may examine cases resulting from them.
1. In France, Turkey, and other places, the succession comes to the next male, in the straight eldest line, according to which the son is preferr'd before the brother of him who last enjoy'd the crown (as the present king of France before his uncle the duke of Orleans), and the son of the eldest before the brothers of the eldest; as in the case of Richard the second of England, who was advanced preferably to all the brothers of the Black Prince his father.
2. Others keep to the males of the reigning family, yet have more regard to the eldest man than to the eldest line: and representation taking no place among them, the eldest man is thought to be nearest to the first king; and a second son of the person that last reigned, to be nearer to him than his grandchild by the eldest son: according to which rule, any
one of the sons of Edward the third remaining after his death, should have been preferr'd before Richard the second who was his grandchild.
3. In the two cases beforementioned, no manner of regard is had to females, who being thought naturally incapable of commanding men, or performing the functions of a magistrate, are, together with their descendants, utterly excluded from the supreme as well as from the inferior magistracies; and in Turkey, France, and other great kingdoms, have no pretence to any title: But in some places, and particularly in England, the advantages of proximity belong to them as well as to males; by which means our crown has been transported to several families and nations.
4. As in some places they are utterly rejected, and in others received simply without any condition; so those are not wanting, where that of not marrying out of the country, or without the consent of the estates, is imposed, of which Sweden is an example.
5. In some places proximity of blood is only regarded, whether the issue be legitimate or illegitimate; in others bastards are wholly excluded.
By this variety of judgments made by several nations upon this point, it may appear, that tho it were agreed by all that the next in blood ought to succeed, yet such contests would arise upon the interpretation and application of the general rule, as must necessarily be a perpetual spring of irreconcilable and mortal quarrels.
If any man say, the rule observed in England is that which God gave to mankind; I leave him first to dispute that point with the kings of France, and many others, who can have no right to the crowns they wear, if it be admitted; and in the next place to prove that our ancestors had a more immediate communication with God, and a more certain knowledge of his will than others, who for anything we know, may be of authority equal to them: but in the meantime we may rationally conclude, that if there be such a rule, we have had no king in England for the space of almost a thousand years, having not had one who did not come to the crown by a most manifest violation of it; as appears by the forecited examples of William the first and second; Henry the first, Henry the second and his children; John, Edward the third, Henry the fourth, Edward the fourth and his children; Henry the seventh, and all that claim under any of them. And if possession or success can give a right, it will I think follow, that Jack Straw, Wat Tyler, Perkin Warbeck, or any other rascal, might have had it if he had been as happy as bold in his enterprize. This is no less than to expose crowns to the first that can seize them, to destroy all law and rule, and to render right a slave to fortune. If this be so, a late earl of Pembroke, whose understanding was not thought great, judged rightly when he said his grandfather was a wise man tho he could neither write nor read, in as much as he resolved to follow the crown, tho it were upon a coalstaff. But if this be sufficient to make a wise man, 'tis pity the secret was no sooner discovered, since many, who for want of it liv'd and died in all the infamy that justly accompanies knavery, cowardice and folly, might have gained the reputation of the most excellent men in their several ages. The bloody factions with which all nations subject to this sort of monarchy have been perpetually vexed, might have been prevented by throwing up cross or pile, or by battle between the competitors body to body, as was done by Corbis and Orsua, Cleorestes and Polynices, Ironside and Canute; it being most unreasonable, or rather impiously absurd for any to venture their lives and fortunes, when their consciences are not concern'd in the contest, and that they are to gain nothing by the victory.
If reason teaches, that till this expeditious way of ending controversies be received, the ambition of men will be apt to embroil nations in their quarrels, and others judging variously of those matters, which can be reduced to no certain rule, will think themselves in conscience obliged to follow the party that seems to them to be most just; experience manifests the same, and that ambition has produced more violent mischiefs than all the other desires and passions that have ever possessed the hearts of men. That this may appear, it will not be amiss to divide them into such as proceed from him who is in possession of the power, through jealousy of state, as they call it, to prevent the enterprizes of those who would dispossess him, and such as arise between competitors contending for it.
Tarquin's counsel concerning the poppies, and Periander's heads of corn, is of the first sort. The most eminent are always most feared as the readiest to undertake, and most able to accomplish great designs. This eminence proceeds from birth, riches, virtue, or reputation, and is sometimes wrought up to the greatest height by a conjunction of all these. But I know not where to find an example of such a man, who could long subsist under absolute monarchy. If he be of high birth, he must, like Brutus, conceal his virtue, and gain no reputation, or resolve to perish, if he do not prevent his own death by that of the tyrant: All other ways are ineffectual; the suspicions, fears, and hatred thereupon arising, are not to be removed: Personal respects are forgotten, and such services as cannot be sufficiently valued, must be blotted out by the death of those who did them. Various ways may be taken, and pretences used according to the temper of times and nations; but the thing must be done; and whether it be colour'd by a trick of law, or performed by a mute with a bowstring, imports little. Henry the fourth was made king by the Earl of Northumberland, and his brave son Hotspur; Edward the fourth by the valiant Earl of Warwick; Henry the seventh by Stanley: but neither of them could think himself safe, till his benefactor was dead. No continued fidelity, no testimonies of modesty and humility can prevent this. The modesty of Germanicus in rejecting the honours that were offer'd to him, and his industry in quieting the mutinied legions, accelerated his ruin: When 'twas evident he might be emperor if he pleased, he must be so, or die: There was no middle station between the throne and the grave. 'Tis probable that Caligula, Nero, and other beasts like to them, might hate virtue for the good which is in it; but I cannot think that either they, their predecessors or successors, would have put themselves upon the desperate design of extirpating it, if they had not found it to be inconsistent with their government; and that being once concluded, they spared none of their nearest relations. Artaxerxes killed his son Darius: Herod murder'd the best of his wives, and all his sons except the worst. Tiberius destroy'd Agrippa Posthumus, and Germanicus with his wife and two sons. How highly soever Constantine the Great be commended, he was polluted with the blood of his father-in-law, wife, and son. Philip the second of Spain did in the like manner deliver himself from his fears of Don Carlos; and 'tis not doubted that Philip the fourth, for the same reasons, dispatched his brother Don Carlos, and his son Balthasar. The like cases were so common in England, that all the Plantagenets, and the noble families allied to them being extinguish'd, our ancestors were sent to seek a king in one of the meanest in Wales. This method being known, those who are unwilling to die so tamely, endeavour to find out ways of defending themselves; and there being no other than the death of the person who is in the throne, they usually seek to compass it by secret conspiracy, or open violence; and the number of princes that have been destroy'd, and countries disturb'd by those who through fear have been driven to extremities, is not much less than of those who have suffer'd the like from men following the impulse of their own ambition.
The disorders arising from contests between several competitors, before any one could be settled in the possession of kingdoms, have been no less frequent and bloody than those above-mention'd, and the miseries suffer'd by them, together with the ruin brought upon the empires of Macedon and Rome, may be sufficient to prove it; however to make the matter more clear, I shall allege others. But because it may be presumption in me to think I know all the histories of the world, or tedious to relate all those I know, I shall content myself with some of the most eminent and remarkable: And if it appear that they have all suffer'd the same mischiefs, we may believe they proceed not from accidents, but from the power of a permanent cause that always produces the same or the like effects.
To begin with France. The succession not being well settled in the time of Meroveus, who dispossess'd the grandchildren of Pharamond, he was no sooner dead than Gillon set up himself, and with much slaughter drove Chilperic his son out of the kingdom; and he after a little time returning with like fury, is said to have seen a vision, first of lions and leopards, then of bears and wolves, and lastly of dogs and cats, all tearing one another to pieces. This has been always accounted by the French to be a representation of the nature and fortune of the three races that were to command them, and has been too much verified by experience. Clovis their first Christian and most renowned king, having by good means or evil exceedingly enlarged his territories, but chiefly by the murders of Alaric and Ragnacaire, with his children, and suborning Sigismond of Metz to kill his father Sigebert, left his kingdom to be torn in pieces by the rage of his four sons, each of them endeavouring to make himself master of the whole; and when, according to the usual fate of such contests, success had crown'd Clothaire, who was the worst of them all, by the slaughter of his brothers and nephews, with all the flower of the French and Gaulish nobility, the advantages of his fortune only resulted to his own person. For after his death the miserable nations suffer'd as much from the madness of his sons, as they had done by himself and his brothers. They had learnt from their predecessors not to be slow in doing mischief, but were farther incited by the rage of two infamous strumpets, Fredegonde and Brunehaud, which is a sort of vermin that, I am inclin'd to think, has not usually govern'd senates or popular assemblies. Chilperic the second, who by the slaughter of many persons of the royal blood, with infinite numbers of the nobility and people, came to be master of so much of the country, as procured him the name of king of France, killed his eldest son on suspicion that he was excited against him by Brunehaud, and his second, lest he should revenge the death of his brother: he married Fredegonde, and was soon after kill'd by her adulterer Landry. The kingdom continued in the same misery through the rage of the surviving princes, and found no relief, tho most of them fell by the sword; and that Brunehaud who had been a principal cause of those tragedies, was tied to the tails of four wild horses, and suffer'd a death as foul as her life. These were lions and leopards. They involved the kingdom in desperate troubles; but being men of valour and industry, they kept up in some measure the reputation and power of the nation, and he who attain'd to the crown defended it. But they being fallen by the hands of each other, the poisonous root put forth another plague more mortal than their fury. The vigour was spent, and the succession becoming more settled, ten base and slothful kings, by the French called les roys faineants, succeeded. Some may say, They who do nothing, do no hurt; but the rule is false in relation to kings. He that takes upon him the government of a people, can do no greater evil than by doing nothing, nor be guilty of a more unpardonable crime, than by negligence, cowardice, voluptuousness, and sloth, to desert his charge. Virtue and manhood perish under him; good discipline is forgotten; justice slighted; the laws perverted or rendered useless; the people corrupted; the publick treasures exhausted; and the power of the government always falling into the hands of flatterers, whores, favorites, bawds, and such base wretches as render it contemptible, a way is laid open for all manner of disorders. The greatest cruelty that has been known in the world, if accompanied with wit and courage, never did so much hurt as this slothful bestiality; or rather these slothful beasts have ever been most cruel. The reigns of Septimius Severus, Mahomet the second, or Selim the second, were cruel and bloody; but their fury was turned against foreigners, and some of their near relations, or against such as fell under the suspicion of making attempts against them: The condition of the people was tolerable; those who would be quiet might be safe; the laws kept their right course; the reputation of the empire was maintained, the limits defended, and the publick peace preserved. But when the sword passed into the hands of lewd, slothful, foolish, and cowardly princes, it was of no power against foreign enemies, or the disturbers of domestic peace, tho always sharp against the best of their own subjects. No man knew how to secure
himself against them, unless by raising civil wars; which will always be frequent, when a crown defended by a weak hand is proposed as a prize to any that dare invade it. This is a perpetual spring of disorders; and no nation was ever quiet, when the most eminent men found less danger in the most violent attempts, than in submitting patiently to the will of a prince, that suffers his power to be managed by vile persons, who get credit by flattering him in his vices. But this is not all; such princes naturally hate and fear those who excel them in virtue and reputation, as much as they are inferior to them in fortune; and think their persons cannot be secured, nor their authority enlarged, except by their destruction. 'Tis ordinary for them, inter scorta & ganeas principibus viris perniciem machinare, and to make cruelty a cover to ignorance and cowardice. Besides the mischiefs brought upon the publick by the loss of eminent men, who are the pillars of every state, such reigns are always accompanied with tumults and civil wars, the great men striving with no less violence who shall get the weak prince into his power, when such regard is had to succession, that they think it not fit to divest him of the title, than when with less respect they contend for the sovereignty itself. And whilst this sort of princes reigned, France was not less afflicted with the contests between Grimbauld, Ebroin, Grimoald, and others, for the mayoralty of the palace, than they had been before by the rage of those princes who had contested for the crown. The issue also was the same: After many revolutions, Charles Martel gained the power of the kingdom, which he had so bravely defended against the Saracens; and having transmitted it to his son Pepin, the general assembly of estates, with the approbation of mankind, conferred the title also upon him. This gave the nation ease for the present; but the deep-rooted evil could not be so cured; and the kingdom, that by the wisdom, valour, and reputation of Pepin, had been preserved from civil troubles during his life, fell as deeply as ever into them so soon as he was dead. His sons, Carloman and Charles, divided the dominions, but in a little time each of them would have all. Carloman fill'd the kingdom with tumult; raised the Lombards, and marched with a great army against his brother, till his course was interrupted by death, caused, as is supposed, by such helps as princes liberally afford to their aspiring relations. Charles deprived his two sons of their inheritance, put them in prison, and we hear no more of them. His third brother Griffon was not more quiet, nor more successful; and there could be no peace in Gascony, Italy or Germany, till he was kill'd. But all the advantages which Charles, by an extraordinary virtue and fortune, had purchased for his country, ended with his life. He left his son Lewis the Gentle in possession of the empire, and kingdom of France, and his grandson Bernard king of Italy: But these two could not agree, and Bernard falling into the hands of Lewis, was deprived of his eyes, and some time after kill'd. This was not enough to preserve the peace: Lothair, Lewis and Pepin, all three sons to Lewis, rebelled against him; called a council at Lyons, deposed him, and divided the empire amongst themselves. After five years he escaped from the monastery where he had been kept, renew'd the war, and was again taken prisoner by Lothair. When he was dead, the war broke out more fiercely than ever between his children: Lothair the emperor assaulted Lewis king of Bavaria and Charles king of Rhaetia; was defeated by them, and confined to a monastery, where he died. New quarrels arose between the two brothers, upon the division of the countries taken from him, and Lorraine only was left to his son. Lewis died soon after, and Charles getting possession of the empire and kingdom, ended an inglorious reign in an unprosperous attempt to deprive Hermingrade, daughter to his brother Lewis, of the kingdom of Aries, and other places left to her by her father. Lewis his son, call'd the Stutterer, reigned two years in much trouble; and his only legitimate son, Charles the Simple, came not to the crown till after the death of his two bastards Lewis and Carloman, Charles le Gros, and Eudes duke of Anjou. Charles le Gros was deposed from the empire and kingdom, stripp'd of his goods, and left to perish through poverty in an obscure village. Charles the Simple, and the nations under him, thrived no better: Robert duke of Anjou raised war against him, and was crown'd at Rheims; but was himself slain soon after in a bloody battle near Soissons. His son-in-law, Hebert earl of Vermandois, gathered up the remains of his scatter'd party, got Charles into his power, and called a general assembly of estates, who deposed him, and gave the crown to Raoul duke of Burgundy; tho he was no otherwise related to the royal blood than by his mother, which in France is nothing at all. He being dead, Lewis son to the deposed Charles was made king; but his reign was as inglorious to him, as miserable to his subjects. This is the peace which the French enjoy'd for the space of five or six ages under their monarchy; and 'tis hard to determine whether they suffer'd most by the violence of those who possessed, or the ambition of others who aspired to the crown; and whether the fury of active, or the baseness of slothful princes was most pernicious to them: But upon the whole matter, through the defects of those of the latter sort, they lost all that they had gained by sweat and blood under the conduct of the former. Henry and Otto of Saxony, by a virtue like that of Charlemagne, deprived them of the empire, and settled it in Germany, leaving France only to Lewis surnamed Outremer, and his son Lothair. These seemed to be equally composed of treachery, cruelty, ambition, and baseness: They were always mutinous, and always beaten: Their frantick passions put them always upon unjust designs, and were such plagues to their subjects and neighbours, that they became equally detested and despised. These things extinguished the veneration due to the memory of Pepin and Charles; and obliged the whole nation rather to seek relief from a stranger, than to be ruin'd by their worthless descendants. They had tried all ways that were in their power, deposed four crowned kings within the space of a hundred and fifty years; crowned five who had no other title than the people conferred upon them, and restored the descendants of those they had rejected, but all was in vain: Their vices were incorrigible, the mischiefs produc'd by them intolerable; they never ceased from murdering one another in battle, or by treachery, and bringing the nation into civil wars upon their wicked or foolish quarrels, till the whole race was rejected, and the crown placed upon the head of Hugh Capet. These mischiefs raged not in the same extremity under him and his descendants, but the abatement proceeded from a cause no way advantageous to absolute monarchy. The French were by their calamities taught more strictly to limit the regal power; and by turning the dukedoms and earldoms into patrimonies, which had been offices, gave an authority to the chief of the nobility, by which that of kings was curbed; and tho by this means the commonalty was exposed to some pressures, yet they were small in comparison of what they had suffer'd in former times. When many great men had estates of their own that did not depend upon the will of kings, they grew to love their country; and tho they cheerfully served the crown in all cases of publick concernment, they were not easily engaged in the personal quarrels of those who possessed it, or had a mind to gain it. To preserve themselves in this condition, they were obliged to use their vassals gently; and this continuing in some measure till within the last fifty years, the monarchy was less tumultuous, than when the king's will had been less restrained. Nevertheless they had not much reason to boast; there was a root still remaining, that from time to time produced poisonous fruit: Civil wars were frequent among them, tho not carried on with such desperate madness as formerly; and many of them upon the account of disputes between competitors for the crown. All the wars with England, since Edward II married Isabella daughter, and, as he pretended, heir of Philip Le Bel, were of this nature. The defeats of Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt, with the slaughters and devastations suffer'd from Edward III the Black
Prince, and Henry V were merely upon contests for the crown, and for want of an interpreter of the law of succession, who might determine the question between the heir male, and the heir general. The factions of Orleans and Burgundy, Orleans and Armagnac, proceeded from the same spring; and the murders that seem to have been the immediate causes of those quarrels, were only the effects of the hatred growing from their competition. The more odious, tho less bloody contests between Lewis the 11th, and his father Charles the 7th, with the jealousy of the former against his son Charles the 8th, arose from the same principle. Charles of Bourbon prepared to fill France with fire and blood upon the like quarrel, when his designs were overthrown by his death in the assault of Rome. If the dukes of Guise had been more fortunate, they had soon turned the cause of religion into a claim to the crown, and repair'd the injury done, as they pretended, to Pepin's race, by destroying that of Capet: And Henry the third thinking to prevent this by the slaughter of Henry le Balafré, and his brother the cardinal de Guise, brought ruin upon himself, and cast the kingdom into a most horrid confusion. Our own age furnishes us with more than one attempt of the same kind attended with the like success. The duke of Orleans was several times in arms against Lewis the 13th his brother; the Queen-Mother drew the Spaniards to favour him; Montmorency perished in his quarrel; Fontrailles reviv'd it by a treaty with Spain, which struck at the king's head as well as the cardinal's, and was suppress'd by the death of Cinq Mars and de Thou. Those who understand the affairs of that kingdom, make no doubt that the count de Soissons would have set up for himself, and been follow'd by the best part of France, if he had not been kill'd in the pursuit of his victory at the battle of Sedan. Since that time the kingdom has suffer'd such disturbances as show, that more was intended than the removal of Mazarin: And the marechal de Turenne was often told, that the check he gave to the prince of Condé at Gien, after he had defeated Hocquincourt, had preserved the crown upon the king's head. And to testify the stability, good order, and domestick peace that accompanies absolute monarchy, we have in our own days seen the house of Bourbon often divided within itself; the duke of Orleans, the count de Soissons, the princes of Condé and Conti in war against the king; the dukes of Angoulême, Vendome, Longueville, the count de Moret, and other bastards of the royal family following their example; the houses of Guise, D'Elbeuf, Bouillon, Nemours, Rochefoucault, and almost all the most eminent in France, with the parliaments of Paris, Bourdeaux, and some others, joining with them. I might allege many more examples, to shew that this monarchy, as well as all others, has from the first establishment
been full of blood and slaughter, through the violence of those who possessed the crown, and the ambition of such as aspired to it; and that the end of one civil war has been the beginning of another: but I presume upon the whole these will be thought sufficient to prove, that it never enjoyed any permanent domestick quiet.
The kingdoms of Spain have been no less disturbed by the same means; but especially that of Castile, where the kings had more power than in other places. To cite all the examples, were to transcribe their histories; but whoever has leisure to examine them will find, that after many troubles, Alfonso the II, notwithstanding his glorious surname of Wise, was deposed by means of his ambitious son: Don Alfonso, surnamed El Desheredado, supplanted by his uncle Don Sancho el bravo: Peter the Cruel cast from the throne, and killed by his bastard brother the conde de Trastamara. From the time of the above-named Alfonso to that of Ferdinand and Isabella, containing about two hundred years, so few of them passed without civil wars, that I hardly remember two together that were free from them: And whosoever pretends that of late years that monarchy has been more quiet, must, if he be ingenuous, confess their peace is rather to be imputed to the dexterity of removing such persons as have been most likely to raise disturbances (of which number were Don John of Austria, Don Carlos son to Philip the second, another of the same name son to Philip the third, and Don Balthazar son to Philip the fourth) than to the rectitude of their constitutions.
He that is not convinced of these truths by what has been said, may come nearer home, and see what mischiefs were brought upon Scotland by the contests between Baliol and Bruce, with their consequences, till the crown came to the Stuart family; the quiet reigns and happy deaths of the five Jameses, together with the admirable stability and peace of the government under Queen Mary, and the perfect union in which she lived with her husband, son and people, as well as the happiness of the nation whilst it lasted.
But the miseries of England, upon the like occasions, surpass all. William the Norman was no sooner dead, but the nation was rent in pieces by his son Robert, contesting with his sons William and Henry for the crown. They being all dead and their sons, the like happen'd between Stephen and Maud: Henry the second was made king to terminate all disputes, but it proved a fruitless expedient. Such as were more scandalous, and not less dangerous, did soon arise between him and his sons; who besides the evils brought upon the nation, vexed him to death by their rebellion. The reigns of John and Henry the third were yet more tempestuous. Edward the second's lewd, foolish, infamous and detestable government ended in his deposition and death, to which he was brought by his wife and son. Edward the third employ'd his own and his subjects' valour against the French and Scots; but whilst the foundations were out of order, the nation could never receive any advantage by their victories: All was calculated for the glory, and turned to the advantage of one man. He being dead, all that the English held in Scotland and in France was lost through the baseness of his successor, with more blood than it had been gained; and the civil wars raised by his wickedness and madness, ended as those of Edward the second had done. The peace of Henry the fourth's reign was interrupted by dangerous civil wars; and the victory obtained at Shrewsbury had not perhaps secured him in the throne, if his death had not prevented new troubles. Henry the fifth acquired such reputation by his virtue and victories, that none dared to invade the crown during his life; but immediately after his death the storms prepared against his family, broke out with the utmost violence. His son's weakness encouraged Richard duke of York to set up a new title, which produced such mischiefs as hardly any people has suffer'd, unless upon the like occasion: For besides the slaughter of many thousands of the people, and especially of those who had been accustom'd to arms, the devastation of the best parts of the kingdom, and the loss of all that our kings had inherited in France, or gained by the blood of their subjects, fourscore princes of the blood, as Philippe de Comines calls them, died in battle, or under the hand of the hangman. Many of the most noble families were extinguished; others lost their most eminent men. Three kings and two presumptive heirs of the crown were murder'd, and the nation brought to that shameful exigence, to set up a young man to reign over them, who had no better cover for his sordid extraction than a Welsh pedigree, that might shew how a tailor was descended from Prince Arthur, Cadwallader and Brutus. But the wounds of the nation were not to be healed with such a plaster. He could not rely upon a title made up of such stuff, and patch'd with a marriage to a princess of a very questionable birth. His own meanness inclin'd him to hate the nobility; and thinking it to be as easy for them to take the crown from him, as to give it to him, he industriously applied himself to glean up the remainders of the house of York, from whence a competitor might arise, and by all means to crush those who were most able to oppose him. This exceedingly weakened the nobility, who held the balance between him and the commons, and was the first step towards the dissolution of our ancient government: but he was so far from settling the kingdom in peace, that such rascals as Perkin Warbeck and Simnel were able to disturb it. The reign of Henry the eighth was turbulent and bloody; that of Mary furious, and such as had brought us into subjection to the most powerful, proud and cruel nation at that time in the world, if God had not wonderfully protected us. Nay, Edward the sixth, and Queen Elizabeth, notwithstanding the natural excellency of their dispositions, and their knowledge of the truth in matters of religion, were forced by that which men call jealousy of state, to foul their hands so often with illustrious blood, that if their reigns deserve to be accounted amongst the most gentle of monarchies, they were more heavy than the government of any commonwealth in time of peace; and yet their lives were never secure against such as conspired against them upon the account of title.
Having in some measure shew'd what miseries have been usually, if not perpetually brought upon nations subject to monarchies by the violence of some princes, and the baseness, folly, and cowardice of others, together with what they have suffer'd in contests for the several crowns, whilst men divided into divers factions, strive with as much vehemency to advance the person they favour, as if they or their country were interested in the quarrel, and fight as fiercely for a master as they might reasonably do to have none, I am not able to determine which of the two evils is the most mortal. 'Tis evident the vices of princes result to the damage of the people; but whether pride and cruelty, or stupidity and sloth be the worst, I cannot tell. All monarchies are subject to be afflicted with civil wars; but whether the most frequent and bloody do arise from the quarrels of divers competitors for crowns before any one gain the possession of them, or afterwards through the fears of him that would keep what he has gained, or the rage of those who would wrest it from him, is not so easily decided. But commonwealths are less troubled with those distempers. Women, children, or such as are notoriously foolish or mad, are never advanced to the supreme power. Whilst the laws, and that discipline which nourishes virtue is in force, men of wisdom and valor are never wanting; and every man desires to give testimony of his virtue, when he knows 'twill be rewarded with honour and power. If unworthy persons creep into magistracies, or are by mistake any way preferr'd, their vices for the most part turn to their own hurt; and the
state cannot easily receive any great damage by the incapacity of one who is not to continue in office above a year; and is usually encompassed with those who having born, or are aspiring to the same, are by their virtue able to supply his defects; cannot hope for a reward from one unable to corrupt them, and are sure of the favour of the senate and people to support them in the defence of the publick interest. As long as this good order continues, private quarrels are suppress'd by the authority of the magistrate, or prove to be of little effect. Such as arise between the nobles and commons frequently produce good laws for the maintenance of liberty, as they did in Rome for above three hundred years after the expulsion of Tarquin; and almost ever terminated with little or no blood. Sometimes the errors of one or both parties are discovered by the discourse of a wise and good man; and those who have most violently opposed one another become the best friends, everyone joining to remove the evil that causes the division. When the senate and people of Rome seemed to be most furiously incensed against each other, the creation of tribunes, communications of honours and marriages between the patrician and plebeian families, or the mitigation of usury composed all; and these were not only harmless things, but such as gave opportunities of correcting the defects that had been in the first constitution of the government, without which they could never have attained to the greatness, glory, and happiness they afterwards enjoy'd. Such as had seen that people meeting in tumult, running through the city, crying out against the kings, consuls, senate, or decemviri, might have thought they would have filled all with blood and slaughter; but no such thing happened. They desired no more than to take away the kingdom which Tarquin had wickedly usurped; and never went about so much as to punish one minister of the mischiefs he had done, or to take away his goods, till upon pretence of treating his ambassadors by a new treachery had cast the city into greater danger than ever. Tho the decemviri had by the like villainies equally provoked the people, they were used with the like gentleness: Appius Claudius and Oppius having by voluntary death substracted themselves from publick punishment, their colleagues were only banished, and the magistracies of the city reduced to the former order without the effusion of more blood. They who contended for their just rights, were satisfied with the recovery of them; whereas such as follow the impulse of an unruly ambition never think themselves safe, till they have destroyed all that seem able to disturb them, and satiated their rage with the blood of their adversaries. This makes, as well as shews the difference between the tumults of Rome, or the secession of the common people to Mount Aventine, and the battles of Towton, Tewkesbury, Eveshal, Lewes, Hexham, Barnet, St. Albans, and Bosworth. 'Tis in vain to say these ought rather to be compared to those of Pharsalia, Actium, or Philippi; for when the laws of a commonwealth are abolish'd, the name also ceases. Whatever is done by force or fraud to set up the interests and lusts of one man in opposition to the laws of his country, is purely and absolutely monarchical. Whatsoever passed between Marius, Sulla, Cinna, Catiline, Caesar, Pompey, Crassus, Augustus, Antonius, and Lepidus, is to be imputed to the contests that arise between competitors for monarchy, as well as those that in the next age happened between Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian: Or, which is worse, whereas those in commonwealths fight for themselves when there is occasion, and if they succeed, enjoy the fruits of their victory, so as even those who remain of the vanquished party, partake of the liberty thereby established, or the good laws thereupon made; such as follow'd the ensigns of these men who sought to set up themselves, did, rather like beasts than men, hazard and suffer many unspeakable evils to purchase misery to themselves and their posterity, and to make him their master, who increasing in pride, avarice, and cruelty, was to be thrown down again with as much blood as he had been set up.
These things, if I mistake not, being in the last degree evident, I
may leave to our author all the advantages he can gain by his rhetorical
description of the tumults of Rome, when blood was in the marketplace
sucked up with sponges, and the jakes stuffed with carcasses; to which
he may add the crimes of Sulla's life, and the miseries of his death: but
withal I desire to know what number of sponges were sufficient to suck
up the blood of five hundred thousand men slain in one day, when the houses
of David and Jeroboam contended for the crown of Israel, or of four hundred
thousand who fell in one battle between Joash and Amaziah on the same occasion;
what jakes were capacious enough to contain the carcasses of those that
perished in the quarrels between the successors of Alexander, the several
competitors for the Roman empire; or those which have happened in France,
Spain, England, and other places upon the like occasions. If Sulla for
some time acted as an absolute monarch, 'tis no wonder that he died like
one, or that God punished him as Herod, Philip the second of Spain, and
some others, because the hand of his fellow-citizens had unjustly spar'd
him. If when he was become detestable to God and man, he became also miserable,
his example ought to deter others from the crimes that are avenged by a
power which none can escape, and to encourage those who defend, or endeavour
to recover their violated liberties, to act vigorously in a cause that
God does evidently patronize.
Again, corruption will always reign most where those who have the power do most favour it, where the rewards of such crimes are greatest, easiest, and most valued, and where the punishment of them is least feared.
1. For the first, we have already proved that liberty cannot be preserved, if the manners of the people are corrupted, nor absolute monarchy introduced where they are sincere; which is sufficient to shew that those who manage free governments ought always to the utmost of their power to oppose corruption, because otherwise both they and their government must inevitably perish; and that on the other hand, the absolute monarch must endeavour to introduce it, because he cannot subsist without it. 'Tis also so natural for all such monarchs to place men in power who pretend to love their persons, and will depend upon their pleasure, that possibly 'twould be hard to find one in the world who has not made it the rule of his government: And this is not only the way to corruption, but the most dangerous of all. For tho a good man may love a good monarch, he will obey him only when he commands that which is just; and no one can engage himself blindly to do whatever he is commanded, without renouncing all virtue and religion; because he knows not whether that which shall be commanded is consistent with either, or directly contrary to the laws of God and man. But if such a monarch be evil, and his actions such as they are too often found to be, whoever bears an affection to him, and seconds his designs, declares himself an enemy to all that is good; and the advancement of such men to power does not only introduce, foment, and increase corruption, but fortifies it in such a manner, that without an entire renovation of that state it cannot be removed. Ill men may possibly creep into any government; but when the worst are plac'd nearest to the throne, and raised to honors for being so, they will with that force endeavour to draw all men to a conformity of spirit with themselves, that it can no otherwise be prevented, than by destroying them and the principle in which they live.
2. To the second; man naturally follows that which is good, or seems to him to be so. Hence it is that in well-govern'd states, where a value is put upon virtue, and no one honoured unless for such qualities as are beneficial to the publick, men are from the tenderest years brought up in a belief, that nothing in this world deserves to be sought after, but such honors as are acquired by virtuous actions: By this means virtue itself becomes popular, as in Sparta, Rome, and other places, where riches (which with the vanity that follows them, and the honors men give to them, are the root of all evil) were either totally banished, or little regarded. When no other advantage attended the greatest riches than the opportunity of living more sumptuously or deliciously, men of great spirits slighted them. When Aristippus told Cleanthes, that if he would go to court and flatter the tyrant, he need not seek his supper under a hedge; the philosopher answer'd, that he who could content himself with such a supper, need not go to court, or flatter the tyrant. Epaminondas, Aristides, Phocion, and even the Lacedaemonian kings, found no inconvenience in poverty, whilst their virtue was honour'd, and the richest princes in the world feared their valour and power. It was not difficult for Curius, Fabricius, Quintius Cincinnatus, or Aemilius Paulus, to content themselves with the narrowest fortune, when it was no obstacle to them in the pursuit of those honours which their virtues deserved. 'Twas in vain to think of bribing a man who supped upon the coleworts of his own garden. He could not be gained by gold, who did not think it necessary. He that could rise from the plow to the triumphal chariot, and contentedly return thither again, could not be corrupted; and he that left the sense of his poverty to his executors, who found not wherewith to bury him, might leave Macedon and Greece to the pillage of his soldiers, without taking to himself any part of the booty. But when luxury was brought into fashion, and they came to be honor'd who liv'd magnificently, tho they had in themselves no qualities to distinguish them from the basest of slaves, the most virtuous men were exposed to scorn if they were poor: and that poverty which had been the mother and nurse of their virtue, grew insupportable. The poet well understood what effect this change had upon the world, who said,
Nullum crimen abest facinusque libidinis, ex quo
Paupertas Romana perit.
When riches grew to be necessary, the desire of them which is the spring of all mischief, follow'd. They who could not obtain honours by the noblest actions, were oblig'd to get wealth to purchase them from whores and villains, who exposed them to sale: and when they were once entered into this track, they soon learnt the vices of those from whom they had received their preferment, and to delight in the ways that had brought them to it. When they were come to this, nothing could stop them: All thought and remembrance of good was extinguish'd. They who had bought the commands of armies or provinces, from Icetus or Narcissus, sought only how to draw money from them, to enable them to purchase higher dignities, or gain a more assured protection from those patrons. This brought the government of the world under a most infamous traffick, and the treasures arising from it were, for the most part, dissipated by worse vices than the rapine, violence and fraud with which they had been gotten. The authors of those crimes had nothing left but their crimes, and the necessity of committing more, through the indigence into which they were plung'd by the extravagance of their expences. These things are inseparable from the life of a courtier; for as servile natures are guided rather by sense than reason, such as addict themselves to the service of courts, find no other consolation in their misery, than what they receive from sensual pleasures, or such vanities as they put a value upon; and have no other care, than to get money for their supply by begging, stealing, bribing, and other infamous practices. Their offices are more or less esteemed according to the opportunities they afford for the exercise of these virtues; and no man seeks them for any other end than for gain, nor takes any other way than that which conduces to it. The usual means of attaining them are, by observing the prince's humour, flattering his vices, serving him in his pleasures, fomenting his passions, and by advancing his worst designs, to create an opinion in him that they love his person, and are entirely addicted to his will. When valour, industry and wisdom advanced men to offices, it was no easy matter for a man to persuade the senate he had such qualities as were requir'd, if he had them not: But when princes seek only such as love them, and will do what they command, 'tis easy to impose upon them; and because none that are good will obey them when they command that which is not so, they are always encompassed by the worst. Those who follow them only for reward, are most liberal in professing affection to them, and by that means rise to places of authority and power. The fountain being thus corrupted, nothing that is pure can come from it. These mercenary wretches having the management of affairs, justice and honours are set at a price, and the most lucrative traffick in the world is thereby established. Eutropius when he was a slave, used to pick pockets and locks; but being made a minister, he sold cities, armies and provinces: and some have undertaken to give probable reasons to believe, that Pallas, one of Claudius his manumised slaves, by these means brought together more wealth in six years, than all the Roman dictators and consuls had done from the expulsion of the kings to their passage into Asia. The rest walked in the same way, used the same arts, and many of them succeeded in the same manner. Their riches consisted not of spoils taken from enemies, but were the base product of their own corruption. They valued nothing but money, and those who could bribe them, were sure to be advanc'd to the highest offices; and whatever they did, feared no punishment. Like effects will ever proceed from the like causes. When vanity, luxury and prodigality are in fashion, the desire of riches must necessarily increase in proportion to them: And when the power is in the hands of base mercenary persons, they will always (to use the courtiers' phrase) make as much profit of their places as they can. Not only matters of favour, but of justice too, will be exposed to sale; and no way will be open to honours or magistracies, but by paying largely for them. He that gets an office by these means, will not execute it gratis: he thinks he may sell what he has bought; and would not have entered by corrupt ways, if he had not intended to deal corruptly. Nay, if a well-meaning man should suffer himself to be so far carried away by the stream of a prevailing custom, as to purchase honours of such villains, he would be obliged to continue in the same course, that he might gain riches to procure the continuance of his benefactors' protection, or to obtain the favour of such as happen to succeed them: And the corruption thus beginning in the head, must necessarily diffuse itself into all the members of the commonwealth. Or, if anyone (which is not to be expected) after having been guilty of one villainy, should resolve to commit no more, it could have no other effect than to bring him to ruin; and he being taken away, all things would return to their former channel.
Besides this, whosoever desires to advance himself, must use such means as are suitable to the time in which he lives, and the humour of the persons with whom he is to deal. It had been as absurd for any man void of merit to set himself up against Junius Brutus, Cincinnatus, Papirius Cursor, Camillus, Fabius Maximus, or Scipio; and by bribing the senate and people of Rome, think to be chosen captain against the Tarquins, Tuscans, Latins, Samnites, Gauls or Carthaginians, as for the most virtuous men by the most certain proofs of their wisdom, experience, integrity and valour, to expect advancement from Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, or the lewd wretches that govern'd them. They hated and feared all those that excelled in virtue, and setting themselves to destroy the best for being the best, they placed the strength of the government in the hands of the worst, which produced the effects beforementioned. This seems to have been so well known, that no man pretended to be great at court, but those who had cast off all thoughts of honour and common honesty: Revertar cum leno, meretrix, scurra, cinaedus ero, said one who saw what manners prevailed there; and wheresoever they do prevail, such as will rise, must render themselves conformable in all corruption and venality. And it may be observed, that a noble person now living amongst us, who is a great enemy to bribery, was turned out from a considerable office, as a scandal to the court; for, said the principal minister, he will make no profit of his place, and by that means casts a scandal upon those that do.
If any man say, this is not generally the fate of all courts, I confess it; and that if the prince be just, virtuous, wise, of great spirit, and not pretending to be absolute, he may chuse such men as are not mercenary, or take such a course as may render it hard for them to deserve bribes, or to preserve themselves from punishment, if they should deflect from his intention. And a prince of this age speaking familiarly with some great men about him, said, he had heard much of vast gains made by those who were near to princes, and asked if they made the like? One of them answer'd, that they were as willing as others to get something, but that no man would give them a farthing; for everyone finding a free admittance to his majesty, no man needed a solicitor: And it was no less known that he did of himself grant those things that were just, than that none of them had so much credit as to promote such as were not so. I will not say such a king is a phoenix; perhaps more than one may be found in an age; but they are certainly rare, and all that is good in their government proceeding from the excellency of their personal virtues, it must fail when that virtue fails, which was the root of it. Experience shews how little we can rely upon such a help; for where crowns are hereditary, children seldom prove like to their fathers; and such as are elective have also their defects. Many seem to be modest and innocent in private fortunes, who prove corrupt and vicious when they are raised to power. The violence, pride and malice of Saul, was never discover'd till the people had placed him in the throne. But where the government is absolute, or the prince endeavours to make it so, this integrity can never be found: He will always seek such as are content to depend upon his will, which being always unruly, good men will never comply; ill men will be paid for it, and that opens a gap to all manner of corruption. Something like to this may befall regular monarchies, or popular governments. They who are placed in the principal offices of trust may be treacherous; and when they are so, they will always by these means seek to gain partizans and dependents upon themselves. Their designs being corrupt, they must be carried on by corruption; but such as would support monarchy in its regularity, or popular governments, must oppose it, or be destroy'd by it. And nothing can better manifest how far absolute monarchies are more subject to this venality and corruption than the regular and popular governments, than that they are rooted in the principle of the one, which cannot subsist without them; and are so contrary to the others, that they must certainly perish unless they defend themselves from them.
If any man be so far of another opinion, as to believe that Brutus, Camillus, Scipio, Fabius, Hannibal, Pericles, Aristides, Agesilaus, Epaminondas or Pelopidas, were as easily corrupted as Sejanus, Tigellinus, Vinius or Laco: That the senate and people of Rome, Carthage, Athens, Sparta or Thebes, were to be bought at as easy rates as one profligate villain, a slave, an eunuch or a whore; or tho it was not in former ages, yet it is so now: he may be pleased to consider by what means men now rise to places of judicature, church-preferment, or any offices of trust, honour or profit under those monarchies which we know, that either are or would be absolute. Let him examine how all the offices of justice are now disposed in France; how Mazarin came to be advanced; what traffick he made of abbies and bishopricks, and what treasures he gained by that means: Whether the like has not continued since his death, and as a laudable example been transmitted to us since his majesty's happy restoration: Whether bawds, whores, thieves, buffoons, parasites, and such vile wretches as are naturally mercenary, have not more power at Whitehall, Versailles, the Vatican, and the Escurial, than in Venice, Amsterdam, and Switzerland: Whether H-de, Arl-ng-t-n, D-nby, their Graces of Cleveland and Portsmouth, S-nd-rl-nd, Jenkins or Chiffinch, could probably have attained such power as they have had amongst us, if it had been disposed by the suffrages of the parliament and people: Or lastly, whether such as know only how to work upon the personal vices of a man, have more influence upon one who happens to be born in a reigning family, or upon a senate consisting of men chosen for their virtues and quality, of the whole body of a nation.
But if he who possesses or affects an absolute power be by his interest
led to introduce that corruption which the people, senate, and magistrates
who uphold popular governments abhor, as that which threatens them with
destruction: if the example, arts, and means used by him and his dependents
be of wonderful efficacy towards the introduction of it: if nothing but
an admirable virtue, which can hardly be in one that enjoys or desires
such a power, can divert him from that design; and if such virtue never
did, nor probably ever will continue long in any one family, we cannot
rationally believe there ever was a race of men invested with, or possessing
such a power, or that there will ever be any who have not, and will not
endeavour to introduce that corruption, which is so necessary for the defence
of their persons, and most important concernments, and certainly accomplish
their great design, unless they are opposed or removed.
The like may be said of Italy: Whilst it was inhabited by nations governing themselves by their own will, they fell sometimes into domestick seditions, and had frequent wars with their neighbours. When they were free, they loved their country, and were always ready to fight in its defence. Such as succeeded well, increased in vigor and power; and even those that were the most unfortunate in one age, found means to repair their greatest losses if their government continued. Whilst they had a propriety in their goods, they would not suffer the country to be invaded, since they knew they could have none if it were lost. This gave occasion to wars and tumults; but it sharpened their courage, kept up a good discipline, and the nations that were most exercised by them, always increased in power and number; so that no country seems ever to have been of greater strength than Italy was when Hannibal invaded it: and after his defeat, the rest of the world was not able to resist their valour and power. They sometimes killed one another; but their enemies never got anything but burying-places within their territories. All things are now brought into a very different method by the blessed governments they are under. The fatherly care of the king of Spain, the pope, and other princes, has established peace amongst them. We have not in many ages heard of any sedition among the Latins, Sabines, Volsci, Aequi, Samnites, or others. The thin, half-starv'd inhabitants of walls supported by ivy, fear neither popular tumults, nor foreign alarms; and their sleep is only interrupted by hunger, the cries of their children, or the howling of wolves. Instead of many turbulent, contentious cities, they have a few scatter'd silent cottages; and the fierceness of those nations is so temper'd, that every rascally collector of taxes extorts without fear from every man, that which should be the nourishment of his family. And if any of those countries are free from that pernicious vermin, 'tis through the extremity of their poverty. Even in Rome a man may be circumvented by the fraud of a priest, or poison'd by one who would have his estate, wife, whore, or child; but nothing is done that looks like tumult or violence. The governors do as little fear Gracchus as Hannibal; and instead of wearying their subjects in wars, they only seek, by perverted laws, corrupt judges, false witnesses, and vexatious suits, to cheat them of their money and inheritance. This is the best part of their condition. Where these arts are used, there are men, and they have something to lose; but for the most part the lands lie waste, and they who were formerly troubled with the disorders incident to populous cities, now enjoy the quiet and peaceable estate of a wilderness.
Again, there is a way of killing worse than that of the sword: for as Tertullian says upon a different occasion, prohibere nasci est occidere; those governments are in the highest degree guilty of blood, which by taking from men the means of living, bring some to perish through want, drive others out of the country, and generally dissuade men from marriage, by taking from them all ways of subsisting their families. Notwithstanding all the seditions of Florence, and other cities of Tuscany, the horrid factions of Guelphs and Ghibellines, Neri and Bianchi, nobles and commons, they continued populous, strong, and exceeding rich; but in the space of less than a hundred and fifty years, the peaceable reign of the Medicis is thought to have destroyed nine parts in ten of the people of that province. Amongst other things 'tis remarkable, that when Philip the second of Spain gave Siena to the duke of Florence, his ambassador then at Rome sent him word, that he had given away more than six hundred and fifty thousand subjects; and 'tis not believ'd there are now twenty thousand souls inhabiting that city and territory. Pisa, Pistoia, Arezzo, Cortona, and other towns that were then good and populous, are in the like proportion diminished, and Florence more than any. When that city had been long troubled with seditions, tumults, and wars, for the most part unprosperous, they still retain'd such strength, that when Charles the eighth of France being admitted as a friend with his whole army, which soon after conquer'd the kingdom of Naples, thought to master them, the people taking arms, struck such a terror into him, that he was glad to depart upon such conditions as they thought fit to impose. Machiavelli reports, that in that time Florence alone, with the Val d'Arno, a small territory belonging to that city, could, in a few hours, by the sound of a bell, bring together a hundred and thirty five thousand well arm'd men; whereas now that city, with all the others in that province, are brought to such despicable weakness, emptiness, poverty and baseness, that they can neither resist the oppressions of their own prince, nor defend him or themselves if they were assaulted by a foreign enemy. The people are dispers'd or destroy'd, and the best families sent to seek habitations in Venice, Genoa, Rome, Naples, and Lucca. This is not the effect of war or pestilence; they enjoy a perfect peace, and suffer no other plague than the government they are under. But he who has thus cured them of disorders and tumults, does, in my opinion, deserve no greater praise than a physician, who should boast there was not a sick person in a house committed to his care, when he had poison'd all that were in it. The Spaniards have established the like peace in the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, the West-Indies, and other places. The Turks by the same means prevent tumults in their dominions. And they are of such efficacy in all places, that Mario Chigi brother to Pope Alexander the seventh, by one sordid cheat upon the sale of corn, is said within eight years to have destroy'd above a third part of the people in the Ecclesiastical State; and that country which was the strength of the Romans in the time of the Carthaginian Wars, suffer'd more by the covetousness and fraud of that villain, than by all the defeats receiv'd from Hannibal.
'Twere an endless work to mention all the places where this peaceable solitude has been introduc'd by absolute monarchy; but popular and regular governments have always applied themselves to increase the number, strength, power, riches, and courage of their people, by providing comfortable ways of subsistence for their own citizens, inviting strangers, and filling them all with such a love to their country, that every man might look upon the publick cause as his own, and be always ready to defend it. This may sometimes give occasion to tumults and wars, as the most vigorous bodies may fall into distempers: When everyone is solicitous for the publick, there may be difference of opinion, and some by mistaking the way may bring prejudice when they intend profit: But unless a tyrant do arise, and destroy the government which is the root of their felicity; or they be overwhelm'd by the irresistible power of a virtue or fortune greater than their own, they soon recover, and for the most part rise up in greater glory and prosperity than before. This was seen in the commonwealths of Greece and Italy, which for this reason were justly called nurseries of virtue, and their magistrates preservers of men; whereas our author's peace-making monarchs can deserve no better title than that of enemies and destroyers of mankind.
I cannot think him in earnest when he exaggerates Sulla's cruelties
as a proof that the mischiefs suffer'd under free states are more universal
than under kings and tyrants: For there never was a tyrant in the world
if he was not one, tho through weariness, infirmity of body, fear, or perhaps
the horror of his own wickedness, he at length resigned his power; but
the evil had taken root so deep, that it could not be removed: There was
nothing of liberty remaining in Rome: The laws were overthrown by the violence
of the sword: the remaining contest was who should be lord; and there is
no reason to believe that if Pompey had gained the battle of Pharsalia,
he would have made a more modest use of his victory than Caesar did; or
that Rome would have been more happy under him than under the other. His
cause was more plausible because the senate follow'd him, and Caesar was
the invader; but he was no better in his person, and his designs seem to
have been the same. He had been long before suarum legum auctor &
eversor. He gave the beginning to the first triumvirate; and 'twere
folly to think that he who had been insolent when he was not come to the
highest pitch of fortune, would have proved moderate if success had put
all into his hands. The proceedings of Marius, Cinna, Catiline, Octavius,
and Antonius were all of the same nature. No laws were observ'd: No publick
good intended; the ambition of private persons reigned; and whatsoever
was done by them, or for their interests, can no more be applied to popular,
aristocratical or mix'd governments, than the furies of Caligula and Nero.
Many princes not having in themselves power to destroy their people, have stirred up foreign nations against them, and placed the only hopes of their safety in the publick calamity; and lawful kings when they have fallen into the first degree of madness, so as to assume a power above that which was allowed by the law, have in fury proved equal to the worst usurpers. Cleonymus of Sparta was of this sort: He became, says Plutarch, an enemy to the city, because they would not allow him the absolute power he affected; and brought Pyrrhus, the fiercest of their enemies, with a mighty and excellently well disciplin'd army to destroy them. Vortigern the Britain call'd in the Saxons with the ruin of his own people, who were incensed against him for his lewdness, cruelty, and baseness. King John for the like reasons offer'd the kingdom of England to the Moors, and to the pope. Peter the Cruel, and other kings of Castile brought vast armies of Moors into Spain to the ruin of their own people, who detested their vices, and would not part with their privileges. Many other examples of the like nature might be alleged; and I wish our own experience did not too well prove that such designs are common. Let him that doubts this, examine the causes of the wars with Scotland in the years 1639, 1640; the slaughters of the Protestants in Ireland 1641; the whole course of alliances and treaties for the space of fourscore years; the friendship contracted with the French; frequent quarrels with the Dutch, together with other circumstances that are already made too publick: if he be not convinced by this, he may soon see a man in the throne, who had rather be a tributary to France than a lawful king of England, whilst either parliament or people shall dare to dispute his commands, insist upon their own rights, or defend a religion inconsistent with that which he has espoused; and then the truth will be so evident as to require no proof.
Grotius was never accused of dealing hardly with kings, or laying too much weight upon imaginary cases; nevertheless amongst other reasons that in his opinion justify subjects in taking arms against their princes, he alleges this, propter immanem saevitiam, and quando rex in populi exitium fertur; in as much as it is contrary to, and inconsistent with the ends for which governments are instituted; which were most impertinent, if no such thing could be; for that which is not, can have no effect. There are therefore princes who seek the destruction of their people, or none could be justly opposed on that account.
If King James was of another opinion, I could wish the course of his government had been suited to it. When he said that whilst he had the power of making judges and bishops, he would make that to be law and gospel which best pleased him, and filled those places with such as turned both according to his will and interests, I must think that by overthrowing justice, which is the rule of civil and moral actions, and perverting the Gospel which is the light of the spiritual man, he left nothing unattempted that he durst attempt, by which he might bring the most extensive and universal evils upon our nation that any can suffer. This would stand good, tho princes never erred, unless they were transported with some inordinate lusts; for 'tis hard to find one that does not live in the perpetual power of them. They are naturally subject to the impulse of such appetites as well as others, and whatever evil reigns in their nature is fomented by education. 'Tis the handle by which their flatterers lead them; and he that discovers to what vice a prince is most inclin'd, is sure to govern him by rendering himself subservient. In this consists the chief art of a courtier, and by this means it comes to pass that such lusts as in private men are curbed by fear, do not only rage as in a wild beast, but are perpetually inflamed by the malice of their own servants: their hatred to the laws of God or men that might restrain them, increases in proportion with their vices, or their fears of being punished for them. And when they are come to this, they can set no limits to their fury, and there is no extravagance into which they do not frequently fall. But many of them do not expect these violent motives: the perversity of their own nature carries them to the extremities of evil. They hate virtue for its own sake, and virtuous men for being most unlike to themselves. This virtue is the dictate of reason, or the remains of divine light, by which men are made beneficent and beneficial to each other. Religion proceeds from the same spring, and tends to the same end; and the good of mankind so entirely depends upon these two, that no people ever enjoyed anything worth desiring that was not the product of them; and whatsoever any have suffer'd that deserves to be abhorr'd and feared, has proceeded either from the defect of these, or the wrath of God against them. If any prince therefore has been an enemy to virtue and religion, he must also have been an enemy to mankind, and most especially to the people under him. Whatsoever he does against those that excel in virtue and religion, tends to the destruction of the people who subsist by them. I will not take upon me to define who they are, or to tell the number of those that do this: but 'tis certain there have been such; and I wish I could say they were few in number, or that they had liv'd only in past ages. Tacitus does not fix this upon one prince, but upon all that he writes of; and to give his readers a taste of what he was to write, he says, that nobility and honours were dangerous, but that virtue brought most certain destruction; and in another place, that after the slaughter of many excellent men, Nero resolved to cut down virtue itself, and therefore kill'd Thrasea Paetus and Barea Soranus. And whosoever examines the Christian or ecclesiastical histories, will find those princes to have been no less enemies to virtue and religion than their predecessors, and consequently enemies to the nations under them, unless religion and virtue be things prejudicial or indifferent to mankind.
But our author may say, these were particular cases; and so was the slaughter of the prophets and apostles, the crucifixion of Christ, and all the villainies that have ever been committed; yet they proceeded from a universal principle of hatred to all that is good, exerting itself as far as it could, to the ruin of mankind: And nothing but the over-ruling power of God, who resolved to preserve to himself a people, could set bounds to their rage, which in other respects had as full success as our author, or the Devil could have wished.
Dionysius (his other example of justice) deserves observation: More falsehood, lewdness, treachery, ingratitude, cruelty, baseness, avarice, impudence and hatred to all manner of good, was hardly ever known in a mortal creature. For this reason, Diogenes seeing him at Corinth, tho in a poor and contemptible condition, said, he rather deserved to have continued in the misery, fears and villainies of his tyranny, than to be suffer'd peaceably to converse with honest men. And if such as these are to be called observers of justice, it must be concluded that the laws of God and of men, are either of no value, or contrary to it; and that the destruction of nations is a better work than their preservation. No faith is to be observed: temples may be justly sack'd; the best men slain for daring to be better than their masters; and the whole world, if it were in the power of one man, rightly torn in pieces and destroy'd.
His reasons for this are as good as his doctrine: It is, saith he, the multitude of people and abundance of riches, that are the glory and strength of every prince: the bodies of his subjects do him service in war, and their goods supply his wants. Therefore if not out of affection to his people, yet out of natural love unto himself, every tyrant desires to preserve the lives and goods of his subjects. I should have thought that princes, tho tyrants, being God's vicegerents, and fathers of their people, would have sought their good, tho no advantage had thereby redounded to themselves, but it seems no such thing is to be expected from them. They consider nations, as grazers do their herds and flocks, according to the profit that can be made of them: and if this be so, a people has no more security under a prince, than a herd or flock under their master. Tho he desire to be a good husband, yet they must be delivered up to the slaughter when he finds a good market, or a better way of improving his land; but they are often foolish, riotous, prodigal, and wantonly destroy their stock, tho to their own prejudice. We thought that all princes and magistrates had been set up, that under them we might live quietly and peaceably, in all godliness and honesty: but our author teaches us, that they only seek what they can make of our bodies and goods, and that they do not live and reign for us, but for themselves. If this be true, they look upon us not as children, but as beasts, nor do us any good for our own sakes, or because it is their duty, but only that we may be useful to them, as oxen are put into plentiful pastures that they may be strong for labour, or fit for slaughter. This is the divine model of government that he offers to the world. The just magistrate is the minister of God for our good: but this absolute monarch has no other care of us, than as our riches and multitude may increase his own glory and strength. We might easily judge what would be the issue of such a principle, when the being of nations depending upon his will, must also depend upon his opinion, whether the strength, multitude and riches of a people do conduce to the increase of glory and power, or not, tho histories were silent in the case; for these things speak of themselves. The judgment of a single man is not to be relied upon; the best and wisest do often err, the foolish and perverse always; and our discourse is not of what Moses or Samuel would do, but what may come into the fancy of a furious or wicked man who may usurp the supreme power, or a child, a woman, or a fool, that may inherit it. Besides, the proposition upon which he builds his conclusion, proves often false: for as the riches, power, number and courage of our friends is for our advantage, and that of our enemies threatens us with ruin; those princes only can reasonably believe the strength of their subjects beneficial to them, who govern so as to be assured of their affection, and that their strength will be employ'd for them: But those who know they are, or deserve to be hated, cannot but think it will be employ'd against them, and always seek to diminish that which creates their danger. This must certainly befall as many as are lewd, foolish, negligent, imprudent, cowardly, wicked, vicious, or any way unworthy the places they obtain; for their reign is a perpetual exercise of the most extreme and ruinous injustice: Every man that follows an honest interest, is prejudic'd: Everyone who finds the power that was ordained for his good, to be turned to his hurt, will be angry and hate him that does it: If the people be of uncorrupted manners, this hatred will be universal, because every one of them desires that which is just; if composed of good and evil, the first will always be averse to the evil government, and the others endeavouring to uphold it, the safety of the prince must depend upon the prevalence of either party. If the best prove to be the strongest, he must perish: and knowing himself to be supported only by the worst, he will always destroy as many of his enemies as he can; weaken those that remain; enrich his creatures with their spoils and confiscations; by fraud and rapine accumulate treasures to increase the number of his party, and advance them into all places of power and trust, that by their assistance he may crush his adversaries; and every man is accounted his adversary, who has either estate, honor, virtue or reputation. This naturally casts all the power into the hands of those who have no such dangerous qualities, nor anything to recommend them, but an absolute resignation of themselves to do whatever they are commanded. These men having neither will nor knowledge to do good, as soon as they come to be in power, justice is perverted, military discipline neglected, the publick treasures exhausted, new projects invented to raise more; and the prince's wants daily increasing, through their ignorance, negligence, or deceit, there is no end of their devices and tricks to gain supplies. To this end swarms of spies, informers and false witnesses are sent out to circumvent the richest and most eminent men: The tribunals are fill'd with court-parasites of profligate consciences, fortunes and reputation, that no man may escape who is brought before them. If crimes are wanting, the diligence of well-chosen officers and prosecutors, with the favour of the judges, supply all defects; the law is made a snare; virtue suppress'd, vice fomented, and in a short time honesty and knavery, sobriety and lewdness, virtue and vice, become badges of the several factions; and every man's conversation and manners shewing to what party he is addicted, the prince who makes himself head of the worst, must favour them to the overthrow of the best, which is so straight a way to an universal ruin, that no state can prevent it, unless that course be interrupted.
These things consider'd, no general judgment can be made of a magistrate's
counsels, from his name or duty. He that is just, and become grateful to
the people by doing good, will find his own honour and security in increasing
their number, riches, virtue, and power: If on the other side, by doing
evil, he has drawn upon himself the publick hatred, he will always endeavour
to take from them the power of doing him any hurt, by bringing them into
the utmost weakness, poverty, and baseness. And whoever would know whether
any particular prince desires to increase or destroy the bodies and goods
of his subjects, must examine whether his government be such as renders
him grateful or odious to them; and whether he do pursue the publick interest,
or for the advancement of his own authority set up one in himself contrary
to that of his people; which can never befall a popular government, and
consequently no mischief equal to it can be produced by any such, unless
something can be imagined worse than corruption and destruction.
The Grecian virtue had the same fate, and expired with liberty: instead of such soldiers as in their time had no equals, and such generals of armies and fleets, legislators and governors, as all succeeding ages have justly admired, they sent out swarms of fiddlers, jesters, chariot-drivers, players, bawds, flatterers, ministers of the most impure lusts; or idle, babbling, hypocritical philosophers not much better than they. The emperors' courts were always crowded with this vermin; and notwithstanding the necessity our author imagines that princes must needs understand matters of government better than magistrates annually chosen, they did for the most part prove so brutish as to give themselves and the world to be governed by such as these, and that without any great prejudice, since none could be found more ignorant, lewd, and base than themselves.
'Tis absurd to impute this to the change of times; for time changes nothing; and nothing was changed in those times but the government, and that changed all things. This is not accidental, but according to the rules given to nature by God, imposing upon all things a necessity of perpetually following their causes. Fruits are always of the same nature with the seeds and roots from which they come, and trees are known by the fruits they bear: As a man begets a man, and a beast a beast, that society of men which constitutes a government upon the foundation of justice, virtue, and the common good, will always have men to promote those ends; and that which intends the advancement of one man's desires and vanity, will abound in those that will foment them. All men follow that which seems advantageous to themselves. Such as are bred under a good discipline, and see that all benefits procured to their country by virtuous actions, redound to the honour and advantage of themselves, their children, friends, and relations, contract from their infancy a love to the publick, and look upon the common concernments as their own. When they have learnt to be virtuous, and see that virtue is in esteem, they seek no other preferments than such as may be obtained that way; and no country ever wanted great numbers of excellent men, where this method was established. On the other side, when 'tis evident that the best are despised, hated, or mark'd out for destruction; all things calculated to the humour or advantage of one man, who is often the worst, or govern'd by the worst; honours, riches, commands, and dignities disposed by his will, and his favour gained only by a most obsequious respect, or a pretended affection to his person, together with a servile obedience to his commands, all application to virtuous actions will cease; and no man caring to render himself or his children worthy of great employments, such as desire to have them will by little intrigues, corruption, scurrility and flattery endeavour to make way to them; by which means true merit in a short time comes to be abolish'd, as fell out in Rome as soon as the Caesars began to reign.
He who does not believe this, may see whether the like did not happen in all the other commonwealths of Italy and Greece; or if modern examples are thought to be of more value, let him examine whether the noblemen of Venice, who are born and bred in families that never knew a master, who act for themselves, and have a part in all the good or evil that befalls the commonwealth, and know that if it be destroy'd, they must perish, or at least that all changes are to their prejudice, do neglect the publick interests, as thinking that the whole not depending upon any one of them, things will be well enough governed, tho they attend only their private benefit. Let it be observed whether they do better understand the common concernments, than the great men of France or Spain, who never come to the knowledge of anything, unless they happen to be favour'd by the king or his ministers, and know themselves never to be more miserable than when their master is most prosperous. For my own part, I cannot think it necessary to allege any other proof of this point than that when Maximilian the emperor, Lewis the twelfth of France, the fierce Pope Julius the second, and Ferdinand the subtle, powerful, and bold king of Spain, had by the league of Cambray combin'd against the Venetians, gained the battle of La Ghirad'adda, taken Alviano their general prisoner, deprived them of all their dominion on the terra firma, and prepared to assault the city, it was, under God, solely preserved by the vigour and wisdom of their nobility, who tho no way educated to war, unless by sea, sparing neither persons nor purses, did with admirable industry and courage first recover Padua, and then many other cities, so as at the end of that terrible war they came off without any diminution of their territories. Whereas Portugal having in our age revolted from the house of Austria, no one doubts that it had been immediately reduced, if the great men of Spain had not been pleased with such a lessening of their master's power, and resolved not to repair it by the recovery of that kingdom, or to deprive themselves of an easy retreat when they should be oppressed by him or his favourites. The like thought was more plainly express'd by the mareschal de Bassompierre, who seeing how hardly Rochelle was pressed by Lewis the 13th, said, he thought they should be such fools to take it: but 'tis believ'd they would never have been such fools; and the treachery only of our countrymen did enable the Cardinal Richelieu to do it (as for his own glory, and the advancement of the popish cause he really intended) and nothing is to this day more common in the mouth of their wisest and best men, tho papists, than the acknowledgment of their own folly in suffering that place to fall, the king having by that means gotten power to proceed against them at his pleasure. The brave Monsieur de Turenne is said to have carried this to a greater height in his last discourse to the present king of France: "You think, said he, you have armies, but you have none; the one half of the officers are the bawdy-house companions of Monsieur de xxx, or the creatures of his whore Madam de xxx: the other half may be men of experience, and fit for their employments; but they are such as would be pleased with nothing more than to see you lose two or three battles, that coming to stand in need of them, you might cause them to be better used by your ministers than of late they have been." It may easily be imagin'd how men in such sentiments do serve their master; and nothing is more evident than that the French in this age have had so great advantages, that they might have brought Europe, and perhaps Asia, under their power, if the interest of the nation had been united to that of the government, and the strength, vigour, and bravery of the nobility employ'd that way. But since it has pleased God to suffer us to fall into a condition of being little able to help ourselves, and that they are in so good terms with the Turk as not to attack him, 'tis our happiness that they do not know their own strength, or cannot without ruin to themselves turn it to our prejudice.
I could give yet more pregnant testimonies of the difference between men fighting for their own interests in the offices to which they had been advanced by the votes of numerous assemblies, and such as serve for pay, and get preferments by corruption or favour, if I were not unwilling to stir the spleen of some men by obliging them to reflect upon what has passed in our own age and country; to compare the justice of our tribunals within the time of our memory, and the integrity of those who for a while manag'd the publick treasure; the discipline, valour, and strength of our armies and fleets; the increase of our riches and trade; the success of our wars in Scotland, Ireland, and at sea, the glory and reputation not long since gained, with that condition into which we are of late fallen. But I think I shall offend no wise or good man, if I say, that as neither the Romans nor Grecians in the time of their liberty ever performed any actions more glorious than freeing the country from a civil war that had raged in every part, the conquest of two such kingdoms as Scotland and Ireland, and crushing the formidable power of the Hollanders by sea; nor ever produced more examples of valor, industry, integrity, and in all respects compleat, disinterested, unmoveable and incorruptible virtue, than were at that time seen in our nation: So neither of them upon the change of their affairs did exceed us in weakness, cowardice, baseness, venality, lewdness, and all manner of corruption. We have reason therefore not only to believe that all princes do not necessarily understand the affairs of their people, or provide better for them than those who are otherwise chosen; but that, as there is nothing of greatness, power, riches, strength, and happiness, which we might not reasonably have hoped for, if we had rightly improved the advantages we had, so there is nothing of shame and misery which we may not justly fear, since we have neglected them.
If any man think that this evil of advancing officers for personal respects, favour or corruption, is not of great extent, I desire him to consider, that the officers of state, courts of justice, church, armies, fleets and corporations, are of such number and power as wholly to corrupt a nation when they themselves are corrupted; and will ever be corrupt, when they attain to their offices by corruption. The good management of all affairs, civil, military, and ecclesiastical, necessarily depends upon good order and discipline; and 'tis not in the power of common men to reform abuses patronized by those in authority, nor to prevent the mischiefs thereupon ensuing; and not having power to direct publick actions to the publick good, they must consequently want the industry and affection that is required to bring them to a good issue. The Romans were easily beaten under the decemviri, tho immediately before the erection, and after the extinction of that power, none of their neighbours were able to resist them. The Goths who with much glory had reigned in Spain for about three hundred years, had neither strength nor courage under their lewd and odious King Rodrigo, and were in one day subdued with little loss of blood by the Saracens, and could not in less than eight hundred years free their country from them. That brave nation having of late fallen under as base a conduct, has now as little heart or power to defend itself: Court-parasites have rendered valour ridiculous; and they who have ever shew'd themselves as much inclin'd to arms as any people of the world, do now abhor them, and are sent to the wars by force, laid in carts, and bound like calves brought to the shambles, and left to starve in Flanders as soon as they arrive. It may easily be judged what service can be expected from such men, tho they should happen to be well commanded: but the great officers, by the corruption of the court, think only of enriching themselves; and increasing the misery of the soldiers by their frauds, both become equally useless to the state.
Notwithstanding the seeming prosperity of France, matters there are not much better managed. The warlike temper of that people is so worn out by the frauds and cruelties of corrupt officers, that few men list themselves willingly to be soldiers; and when they are engaged or forced, they are so little able to endure the miseries to which they are exposed, that they daily run away from their colours, tho they know not whither to go, and expect no mercy if they are taken. The king has in vain attempted to correct this humour by the severity of martial law; but mens' minds will not be forced, and tho his troops are perfectly well arm'd, cloth'd, and exercised, they have given many testimonies of little worth. When the prince of Condé had by his own valour, and the strength of the king's guards, broken the first line of the prince of Orange's army at the battle of Seneffe, and put the rest into disorder, he could not make the second and third line of his own army to advance and reinforce the first, by which means he lost all the fair hopes he had conceived of an entire victory. Not long after, the marechal de Crequi was abandoned by his whole army near Trier, who ran away, hardly striking a stroke, and left him with sixteen horse to shift for himself. When Monsieur de Turenne, by the excellency of his conduct and valour, had gain'd such a reputation amongst the soldiers, that they thought themselves secure under him, he did not suffer such disgraces; but he being kill'd, they return'd to the usual temper of forced and ill-used soldiers: half the army was lost in a retreat, little differing from a flight; and the rest, as they themselves confess, saved by the bravery of two English regiments. The prince of Condé was soon after sent to command; but he could not with all his courage, skill and reputation, raise their fallen spirits, nor preserve his army any other way, than by lodging them in a camp near Schlestadt, so fortified by art and nature that it could not be forc'd.
To these we may add some examples of our own. In our late war the Scots foot, whether friends or enemies, were much inferior to those of the parliament, and their horse esteemed as nothing. Yet in the year 1639 and 1640, the king's army, tho very numerous, excellently armed and mounted, and in appearance able to conquer many such kingdoms as Scotland, being under the conduct of courtiers, and affected as men usually are towards those that use them ill, and seek to destroy them, they could never resist a wretched army commanded by Leven; but were shamefully beaten at Newborn, and left the northern counties to be ravaged by them.
When Van Tromp set upon Blake in Foleston-Bay, the parliament had not
above thirteen ships against threescore, and not a man that had ever seen
any other fight at sea, than between a merchant ship and a pirate, to oppose
the best captain in the world, attended with many others in valour and
experience not much inferior to him. Many other difficulties were observ'd
in the unsettled state: Few ships, want of money, several factions, and
some who to advance particular interests betray'd the publick. But such
was the power of wisdom and integrity in those that sat at the helm, and
their diligence in chusing men only for their merit was blessed with such
success, that in two years our fleets grew to be as famous as our land
armies; the reputation and power of our nation rose to a greater height,
than when we possessed the better half of France, and the kings of France
and Scotland were our prisoners. All the states, kings and potentates of
Europe, most respectfully, not to say submissively, sought our friendship;
and Rome was more afraid of Blake and his fleet, than they had been of
the great king of Sweden, when he was ready to invade Italy with a hundred
thousand men. This was the work of those, who, if our author say true,
basely of the publick concernments; and believing things might be well
enough managed by others, minded only their private affairs. These were
the effects of the negligence and ignorance of those, who being suddenly
advanced to offices, were removed before they understood the duties of
them. These diseases which proceed from popular corruption and irregularity,
were certainly cured by the restitution of that integrity, good order and
stability that accompany divine monarchy. The justice of the war made against
Holland in the year 1665; the probity of the gentleman, who without partiality
or bribery, chose the most part of the officers that carried it on; the
wisdom, diligence and valour manifested in the conduct, and the glory with
which it was ended, justifies all that our author can say in its commendation.
If any doubt remains, the subtlety of making the king of France desire
that the Netherlands might be an accession to his crown; the ingenious
ways taken by us to facilitate the conquest of them; the industry of our
ambassadors in diverting the Spaniards from entering into the war till
it was too late to recover the losses sustain'd; the honourable design
upon the Smyrna fleet, and our frankness in taking the quarrel upon ourselves;
together with the important figure we now make in Europe, may wholly remove
it; and in confirmation of our author's doctrine, shew, that princes do
better perform the offices that require wisdom, industry and valour, than
annual magistrates; and do more seldom err in the choice of officers, than
senates and popular assemblies.
This is as much as is necessary to be said to the general proposition; for it is false, if it be not always true; and no conclusion can be made upon it. But I need not be so strict with our author, there being no one sound part in his assertion. Many children come to be kings when they have no experience, and die, or are depos'd before they can gain any. Many are by nature so sottish that they can learn nothing: Others falling under the power of women, or corrupt favorites and ministers, are persuaded and seduced from the good ways to which their own natural understanding or experience might lead them; the evils drawn upon themselves or their subjects, by the errors committed in the time of their ignorance, are often grievous, and sometimes irreparable, tho they should be made wise by time and experience. A person of royal birth and excellent wit, was so sensible of this as to tell me, "That the condition of kings was most miserable, in as much as they never heard truth till they were ruin'd by lies, and then everyone was ready to tell it to them, not by way of advice, but reproach, and rather to vent their own spite, than to seek a remedy to the evils brought upon them and the people." Others attain to crowns when they are of full age, and have experience as men, tho none as kings; and therefore are apt to commit as great mistakes as children: And upon the whole matter all the histories of the world shew, that instead of this profound judgment and incomparable wisdom which our author generally attributes to all kings, there is no sort of men that do more frequently and entirely want it.
But tho kings were always wise by nature, or made to be so by experience, it would be of little advantage to nations under them, unless their wisdom were pure, perfect, and accompanied with clemency, magnanimity, justice, valour and piety. Our author durst hardly have said, that these virtues or graces are gained by experience, or annexed by God to any rank of men or families. He gives them where he pleases without distinction. We sometimes see those upon thrones, who by God and nature seem to have been designed for the most sordid offices; and those have been known to pass their lives in meanness and poverty, who had all the qualities that could be desir'd in princes. There is likewise a kind of ability to dispatch some sort of affairs, that princes who continue long in a throne may to a degree acquire or increase. Some men take this for wisdom, but K. James more rightly called it by the name of kingcraft; and as it principally consists in dissimulation, and the arts of working upon mens' passions, vanities, private interests or vices, to make them for the most part instruments of mischief, it has the advancement or security of their own persons for object, is frequently exercised with all the excesses of pride, avarice, treachery and cruelty; and no men have been ever found more notoriously to deflect from all that deserves praise in a prince, or a gentleman, than those that have most excelled in it. Pharasmenes king of Iberia, is recorded by Tacitus to have been well vers'd in this science. His brother Mithridates king of Armenia had married his daughter, and given his own daughter to Rhadamistus son of Pharasmenes. He had some contests with Mithridates, but by the help of these mutual alliances, nearness of blood, the diligence of Rhadamistus, and an oath, strengthen'd with all the ceremonies that amongst those nations were esteemed most sacred, not to use arms or poison against him, all was compos'd; and by this means getting him into his power, he stifled him with a great weight of clothes thrown upon him, kill'd his children, and not long after his own son Rhadamistus also. Louis the eleventh of France, James the third of Scotland, Henry the seventh of England, were great masters of these arts; and those who are acquainted with history, will easily judge how happy nations would be if all kings did in time certainly learn them.
Our author, as a farther testimony of his judgment, having said that kings must needs excel others in understanding, and grounded his doctrine upon their profound wisdom, imputes to them those base and panick fears which are inconsistent with it, or any royal virtue: and to carry the point higher, tells us, There is no tyrant so barbarously wicked, but his own reason and sense will tell him, that tho he be a god, yet he must die like a man; and that there is not the meanest of his subjects, but may find a means to revenge himself of the injuries offered him ; and from thence concludes, that there is no such tyranny as that of a multitude which is subject to no such fears. But if there be such a thing in the world, as a barbarous and wicked tyrant, he is something different from a king, or the same; and his wisdom is consistent or inconsistent with barbarity, wickedness, and tyranny. If there be no difference, the praises he gives, and the rights he ascribes to the one belong also to the other: and the excellency of wisdom may consist with barbarity, wickedness, tyranny, and the panick fears that accompany them; which hitherto have been thought to comprehend the utmost excesses of folly and madness: and I know no better testimony of the truth of that opinion, than that wisdom always distinguishing good from evil, and being seen only in the rectitude of that distinction, in following and adhering to the good, rejecting that which is evil, preferring safety before danger, happiness before misery, and in knowing rightly how to use the means of attaining or preserving the one, and preventing or avoiding the other, there cannot be a more extravagant deviation from reason, than for a man, who in a private condition might live safely and happily, to invade a principality: or if he be a prince, who by governing with justice and clemency might obtain the inward satisfaction of his own mind, hope for the blessing of God upon his just and virtuous actions, acquire the love and praises of men, and live in safety and happiness amongst his safe and happy subjects, to fall into that barbarity, wickedness, and tyranny, which brings upon him the displeasure of God, and detestation of men, and which is always attended with those base and panick fears, that comprehend all that is shameful and miserable. This being perceiv'd by Machiavelli, he could not think that any man in his senses would not rather be a Scipio than a Caesar; or if he came to be a prince, would not rather chuse to imitate Agesilaus, Timoleon, or Dion, than Nabis, Phalaris, or Dionysius; and imputes the contrary choice to madness. Nevertheless 'tis too well known that many of our author's profound wise men in the depth of their judgment, made perfect by use and experience, have fallen into it.
If there be a difference between this barbarous wicked tyrant, and a king, we are to examine who is the tyrant, and who the king; for the name conferred or assumed cannot make a king, unless he be one. He who is not a king, can have no title to the rights belonging to him who is truly a king: so that a people who find themselves wickedly and barbarously oppressed by a tyrant, may destroy him and his tyranny without giving offence to any king.
But 'tis strange that Filmer should speak of the barbarity and wickedness of a tyrant, who looks upon the world to be the patrimony of one man; and for the foundation of his doctrine, asserts such a power in everyone that makes himself master of any part, as cannot be limited by any law. His title is not to be questioned; usurpation and violence confer an incontestable right: the exercise of his power is no more to be disputed than the acquisition: his will is a law to his subjects; and no law can be imposed by them upon his conduct. For if these things be true, I know not how any man could ever be called a tyrant, that name having never been given to any unless for usurping a power that did not belong to him, or an unjust exercise of that which had been conferred upon him, and violating the laws which ought to be a rule to him. 'Tis also hard to imagine how any man can be called barbarous and wicked, if he be obliged by no law but that of his own pleasure; for we have no other notion of wrong, than that it is a breach of the law which determines what is right. If the lives and goods of subjects depend upon the will of the prince, and he in his profound wisdom preserve them only to be beneficial to himself, they can have no other right than what he gives, and without injustice may retain when he thinks fit: If there be no wrong, there can be no just revenge; and he that pretends to seek it, is not a free man vindicating his right, but a perverse slave rising up against his master. But if there be such a thing as a barbarous and wicked tyrant, there must be a rule relating to the acquisition and exercise of the power, by which he may be distinguish'd from a just king; and a law superior to his will, by the violation of which he becomes barbarous and wicked.
Tho our author so far forgets himself, to confess this to be true, he seeks to destroy the fruits of it by such flattery as comprehends all that is most detestable in profaneness and blasphemy, and gives the name of gods to the most execrable of men. He may by such language deserve the name of Heylyn's disciple; but will find few among the heathens so basely servile, or so boldly impious. Tho Claudius Caesar was a drunken sot, and transported with the extravagance of his fortune, he detested the impudence of his predecessor Caligula (who affected that title), and in his rescript to the procurator of Judea, gives it no better name than turpem Can insaniam. For this reason it was rejected by all his pagan successors, who were not as furiously wicked as he: yet Filmer has thought fit to renew it, for the benefit of mankind, and the glory of the Christian religion.
I know not whether these extreme and barbarous errors of our author are to be imputed to wickedness or madness; or whether, to save the pains of a distinction, they may not rightly be said to be the same thing; but nothing less than the excess of both could induce him to attribute anything of good to the fears of a tyrant, since they are the chief causes of all the mischiefs he does. Tertullian says they are metu quam furore saeviores; and Tacitus, speaking of a most wicked king, says, that he did saevitiam ignaviae obtendere; and we do not more certainly find that cowards are the crudest of men, than that wickedness makes them cowards; that every man's fears bear a proportion with his guilt, and with the number, virtue, and strength of those he has offended. He who usurps a power over all, or abuses a trust reposed in him by all, in the highest measure offends all; he fears and hates those he has offended, and to secure himself, aggravates the former injuries: When these are publick, they beget a universal hatred, and every man desires to extinguish a mischief that threatens ruin to all. This will always be terrible to one that knows he has deserved it; and when those he dreads are the body of the people, nothing but a publick destruction can satisfy his rage, and appease his fears.
I wish I could agree with Filmer, in exempting multitudes from fears; for they having seldom committed any injustice, unless through fear, would, as far as human fragility permits, be free from it. Tho the Attick ostracism was not an extreme punishment, I know nothing usually practised in any commonwealth, that did so much favour of injustice: but it proceeded solely from a fear that one man, tho in appearance virtuous, when he came to be raised too much above his fellow citizens, might be tempted to invade the publick liberty. We do not find that the Athenians, or any other free cities, ever injur'd any man, unless through such a jealousy, or the perjury of witnesses, by which the best tribunals that ever were, or can be establish'd in the world, may be misled; and no injustice could be apprehended from any, if they did not fall into such fears.
But tho multitudes may have fears as well as tyrants, the causes and
effects of them are very different. A people, in relation to domestick
affairs, can desire nothing but liberty, and neither hate or fear any but
such as do, or would, as they suspect, deprive them of that happiness:
Their endeavours to secure that seldom hurt any except such as invade their
rights; and if they err, the mistake is for the most part discovered before
it produce any mischief; and the greatest that ever came that way, was
the death of one or a few men. Their hatred and desire of revenge can go
no farther than the sense of the injury received or feared, and is extinguished
by the death or banishment of the persons; as may be gathered from the
examples of the Tarquins, decemviri, Cassius, Maelius, and Manlius Capitolinus.
He therefore that would know whether the hatred and fear of a tyrant, or
of a people, produces the greater mischiefs, needs only to consider, whether
it be better that the tyrant destroy the people, or that the people destroy
the tyrant: or at the worst, whether one that is suspected of affecting
the tyranny should perish, or a whole people, amongst whom very many are
certainly innocent; and experience shows that such are always first sought
out to be destroy'd for being so: Popular furies or fears, how irregular
or unjust soever they may be, can extend no farther; general calamities
can only be brought upon a people by those who are enemies to the whole
body, which can never be the multitude, for they are that body. In all
other respects, the fears that render a tyrant cruel, render a people gentle
and cautious; for every single man knowing himself to be of little power,
not only fears to do injustice because it may be revenged upon his person,
by him, or his friends, kindred and relations that suffers it; but because
it tends to the overthrow of the government, which comprehends all publick
and private concernments, and which every man knows cannot subsist unless
it be so easy and gentle, as to be pleasing to those who are the best,
and have the greatest power: and as the publick considerations divert them
from doing those injuries that may bring immediate prejudice to the publick,
so there are strict laws to restrain all such as would do private injuries.
If neither the people nor the magistrates of Venice, Switzerland, and Holland,
commit such extravagances as are usual in other places, it does not perhaps
proceed from the temper of those nations different from others, but from
a knowledge, that whosoever offers an injury to a private person, or attempts
a publick mischief, is exposed to the impartial and inexorable power of
the law; whereas the chief work of an absolute monarch is to place himself
above the law, and thereby rendering himself the author of all the evils
that the people suffer, 'tis absurd to expect that he should remove them.
1. It seems absurd to speak of kings admitting the nobility or people to part of the government: for tho there may be, and are nations without kings, yet no man can conceive a king without a people. These must necessarily have all the power originally in themselves; and tho kings may and often have a power of granting honors, immunities, and privileges to private men or corporations, he does it only out of the publick stock, which he is entrusted to distribute; but can give nothing to the people, who give to him all that he can rightly have.
2. 'Tis strange that he who frequently cites Aristotle and Plato, should unluckily acknowledge such only to be kings as they call tyrants, and deny the name of king to those, who in their opinion are the only kings.
3. I cannot understand why the Scripture should call those kings whose powers were limited, if they only are kings who are absolute; or why Moses did appoint that the power of kings in Israel should be limited (if they resolved to have them) if that limitation destroy'd the being of a king.
4. And lastly, how he knows that in the kingdoms which have a shew of popularity, the power is wholly in the king.
The first point was proved when we examined the beginning of monarchies, and found it impossible that there could be anything of justice in them, unless they were established by the common consent of those who were to live under them; or that they could make any such establishment, unless the right and power were in them.
Secondly, neither Plato nor Aristotle acknowledge either reason or justice in the power of a monarch, unless he has more of the virtues conducing to the good of the civil society than all those who compose it; and employ them for the publick advantage, and not to his own pleasure and profit, as being set up by those who seek their own good, for no other reason than that he should procure it. To this end a law is set as a rule to him, and the best men, that is such as are most like to himself, made to be his assistants, because, say they, Lex est mens sine affectu, & quasi Deus; whereas the best of men have their affections and passions and are subject to be misled by them: Which shews, that as the monarch is not for himself nor by himself, he does not give, but receive power, nor admit others to the participation of it, but is by them admitted to what he has. Whereupon they conclude, that to prefer the absolute power of a man, as in those governments which they call barbarorum regna, before the regular government of kings justly exercising a power instituted by law, and directed to the publick good, is to chuse rather to be subject to the lust of a beast than to be governed by a god. And because such a choice can only be made by a beast, I leave our author to find a description of himself in their books which he so often cites.
But if Aristotle deserve credit, the princes who reign for themselves and not for the people, preferring their own pleasure or profit before the publick, become tyrants; which in his language is enemies to God and man. On this account Boccalini introduces the princes of Europe raising a mutiny against him in Parnassus, for giving such definitions of tyrants as they said comprehended them all; and forcing the poor philosopher to declare by a new definition, that Tyrants were certain men of ancient times whose race is now extinguished. But with all his wit and learning he could not give a reason why those who do the same things that rendered the ancient tyrants detestable, should not be so also in our days.
In the third place, the Scriptures declare the necessity of setting bounds to those who are placed in the highest dignities. Moses seems to have had as great abilities as any man that ever lived in the world; but he alone was not able to bear the weight of the government, and therefore God appointed seventy chosen men to be his assistants. This was a perpetual law to Israel; and as no king was to have more power than Moses, or more abilities to perform the duties of his office, none could be exempted from the necessity of wanting the like helps. Our author therefore must confess that they are kings who have them, or that kingly government is contrary to the Scriptures. When God by Moses gave liberty to his people to make a king, he did it under these conditions. He must be one of their brethren: They must chuse him: he must not multiply gold, silver, wives, or horses: he must not lift up his heart above his brethren. And Josephus paraphrasing upon the place, says, He shall do nothing without the advice of the Sanhedrin; or if he do, they shall oppose him. This agrees with the confession of Zedekiah to the princes (which was the Sanhedrin) The king can do nothing without you; and seems to have been in pursuance of the law of the kingdom, which was written in a book, and laid up before the Lord; and could not but agree with that of Moses, unless they spake by different spirits, or that the spirit by which they did speak was subject to error or change: and the whole series of God's law shews, that the pride, magnificence, pomp and glory usurped by their kings was utterly contrary to the will of God. They did lift up their hearts above their brethren, which was forbidden by the law. All the kings of Israel, and most of the kings of Judah utterly rejected it, and every one of them did very much depart from the observation of it. I will not deny that the people in their institution of a king intended they should do so: they had done it themselves, and would have a king that might uphold them in their disobedience; they were addicted to the idolatry of their accursed neighbours, and desired that government by which it was maintained amongst them. In doing this they did not reject Samuel; but they rejected God that he should not reign over them. They might perhaps believe that unless their king were such as the law did not permit, he would not perform what they intended; or that the name of king did not belong to him, unless he had a power that the law denied. But since God and his prophets give the name of king to the chief magistrate, endow'd with a power that was restrain'd within very narrow limits, whom they might without offence set up, we also may safely give the same to those of the same nature, whether it please Filmer or not.
4. The practice of most nations, and (I may truly say) of all that deserve imitation, has been as directly contrary to the absolute power of one man as their constitutions: or if the original of many governments lie hid in the impenetrable darkness of antiquity, their progress may serve to shew the intention of the founders. Aristotle seems to think that the first monarchs having been chosen for their virtue, were little restrain'd in the exercise of their power; but that they or their children falling into corruption and pride, grew odious; and that nations did on that account either abolish their authority, or create senates and other magistrates, who having part of the power might keep them in order. The Spartan kings were certainly of this nature; and the Persian, till they conquer'd Babylon. Nay, I may safely say, that neither the kings which the frantick people set up in opposition to the law of God, nor those of the bordering nations, whose example they chose to follow, had that absolute power which our author attributes to all kings as inseparable from the name. Achish the Philistine lov'd and admir'd David; he look'd upon him as an angel of God, and promised that he should be the keeper of his head forever; but when the princes suspected him, and said he shall not go down with us to battle, he was obliged to dismiss him. This was not the language of slaves, but of those who had a great part in the government; and the king's submission to their will, shows that he was more like to the kings of Sparta, than to an absolute monarch who does whatever pleases him. I know not whether the Spartans were descended from the Hebrews, as some think; but their kings were under a regulation much like that of the 17 of Deut. tho they had two: Their senate of twenty eight, and the ephori, had a power like to that of the Sanhedrin; and by them kings were condemned to fines, imprisonment, banishment, and death, as appears by the examples of Pausanias, Cleonymus, Leonidas, Agis, and others. The Hebrew discipline was the same; Reges Davidicae stirpis , says Maimonides,judicabant & judicabantur. They gave testimony in judgment when they were called, and testimony was given against them: Whereas the kings of Israel, as the same author says, were superbi, corde elati, & spretores legis, nec judicabant, nec judicabantur; proud, insolent, and contemners of the law, who would neither judge, nor submit to judgment as the law commanded. The fruits they gathered were suitable to the seed they had sown: their crimes were not left unpunish'd: they who despised the law were destroy'd without law; and when no ordinary course could be taken against them for their excesses, they were overthrown by force, and the crown within the space of few years transported into nine several families, with the utter extirpation of those that had possess'd it. On the other hand, there never was any sedition against the Spartan kings; and after the moderate discipline according to which they liv'd, was established, none of them died by the hands of their subjects, except only two, who were put to death in a way of justice: the kingdom continued in the same races, till Cleomenes was defeated by Antigonus, and the government overthrown by the insolence of the Macedonians. This gave occasion to those bestial tyrants Nabis and Machanidas to set up such a government as our author recommends to the world, which immediately brought destruction upon themselves, and the whole city. The Germans who pretended to be descended from the Spartans, had the like government. Their princes according to their merit had the credit of persuading, not the power of commanding; and the question was not what part of the government their kings would allow to the nobility and people, but what they would give to their kings; and 'tis not much material to our present dispute, whether they learnt this from some obscure knowledge of the law which God gave to his people, or whether led by the light of reason which is also from God, they discovered what was altogether conformable to that law. Whoever understands the affairs of Germany, knows that the present emperors, notwithstanding their haughty title, have a power limited as in the days of Tacitus. If they are good and wise, they may persuade; but they can command no farther than the law allows. They do not admit the princes, noblemen, and cities to the power which they all exercise in their general diets, and each of them within their own precincts; but they exercise that which has been by publick consent bestow'd upon them. All the kingdoms peopled from the north observed the same rules. In all of them the powers were divided between the kings, the nobility, clergy, and commons; and by the decrees of councils, diets, parliaments, cortes, and assemblies of estates, authority and liberty were so balanced, that such princes as assumed to themselves more than the law did permit, were severely punished; and those who did by force or fraud invade thrones, were by force thrown down from them.
This was equally beneficial to kings and people. The powers, as Theopompus king of Sparta said, were most safe when they were least envied and hated. Lewis the nth of France was one of the first that broke this golden chain; and by more subtle arts than had been formerly known, subverted the laws, by which the fury of those kings had been restrain'd, and taught others to do the like; tho all of them have not so well saved themselves from punishment. James the third of Scotland was one of his most apt scholars; and Buchanan in his life says, That he was precipitated into all manner of infamy by men of the most abject condition; that the corruption of those times, and the ill example of neighbouring princes, were considerable motives to pervert him: for Edward the fourth of England, Charles of Burgundy, Lewis the nth of France, and John the second of Portugal, had already laid the foundations of tyranny in those countries; and Richard the third was then most cruelly exercising the same in the kingdom of England.
This could not have been, if all the power had always been in kings, and neither the people nor the nobility had ever had any: For no man can be said to gain that which he and his predecessors always possessed, or to take from others that which they never had; nor to set up any sort of government, if it had been always the same. But the foresaid Lewis the nth did assume to himself a power above that of his predecessors; and Philippe de Comines shews the ways by which he acquir'd it, with the miserable effects of his acquisition both to himself and to his people: Modern authors observe that the change was made by him, and for that reason he is said by Mezeray, and others, to have brought those kings out of guardianship: they were not therefore so till he did emancipate them. Nevertheless this emancipation had no resemblance to the unlimited power of which our author dreams. The general assemblies of estates were often held long after his death, and continued in the exercise of the sovereign power of the nation. Davila, speaking of the general assembly held at Orleans in the time of Francis the second, asserts the whole power of the nation to have been in them. Monsieur de Thou says the same thing, and adds, that the king dying suddenly, the assembly continued, even at the desire of the council, in the exercise of that power, till they had settled the regency, and other affairs of the highest importance, according to their own judgment. Hotman a lawyer of that time and nation, famous for his learning, judgment and integrity, having diligently examin'd the ancient laws and histories of that kingdom, distinctly proves that the French nation never had any kings but of their own chusing; that their kings had no power except what was conferr'd upon them; and that they had been removed, when they excessively abused, or rendered themselves unworthy of that trust. This is sufficiently clear by the forecited examples of Pharamond's grandchildren, and the degenerated races of Meroveus and Pepin; of which many were deposed, some of the nearest in blood excluded; and when their vices seemed to be incorrigible, they were wholly rejected. All this was done by virtue of that rule which they call the Salic Law: And tho some of our princes pretending to the inheritance of that crown by marrying the heirs general, denied that there was any such thing, no man can say that for the space of above twelve hundred years, females, or their descendants, who are by that law excluded, have ever been thought to have any right to the crown: And no law, unless it be explicitly given by God, can be of greater authority than one which has been in force for so many ages. What the beginning of it was is not known: But Charles the sixth receding from this law, and thinking to dispose of the succession otherwise than was ordained by it, was esteemed mad, and all his acts rescinded. And tho the reputation, strength and valour of the English, commanded by Henry the fifth, one of the bravest princes that have ever been in the world, was terrible to the French nation; yet they opposed him to the utmost of their power, rather than suffer that law to be broken. And tho our success under his conduct was great and admirable; yet soon after his death, with the expence of much blood and treasure, we lost all that we had on that side, and suffer'd the penalty of having unadvisedly entered into that quarrel. By virtue of the same law, the agreement made by King John when he was prisoner at London, by which he had alienated part of that dominion, as well as that of Francis the first, concluded when he was under the same circumstances at Madrid, were reputed null; and upon all occasions that nation has given sufficient testimony, that the laws by which they live are their own, made by themselves, and not imposed upon them. And 'tis as impossible for them who made and deposed kings, exalted or depressed reigning families, and prescribed rules to the succession, to have received from their own creatures the power, or part of the government they had, as for a man to be begotten by his own son. Nay, tho their constitutions were much changed by Lewis the 11th, yet they retained so much of their ancient liberty, that in the last age, when the house of Valois was as much depraved as those of Meroveus and Pepin had been, and Henry the third by his own lewdness, hypocrisy, cruelty and impurity, together with the baseness of his minions and favorites, had rendered himself odious and contemptible to the nobility and people; the great cities, parliaments, the greater and (in political matters) the sounder part of the nation declared him to be fallen from the crown, and pursued him to the death, tho the blow was given by the hand of a base and half-distracted monk.
Henry of Bourbon was without controversy the next heir; but neither the nobility nor the people, who thought themselves in the government, would admit him to the crown, till he had given them satisfaction that he would govern according to their laws, by abjuring his religion which they judged inconsistent with them.
The later commotions in Paris, Bordeaux, and other places, together with the wars for religion, shew, that tho the French do not complain of every grievance, and cannot always agree in the defence and vindication of their violated liberties, yet they very well understand their rights; and that, as they do not live by, or for the king, but he reigns by, and for them; so their privileges are not from him, but that his crown is from them; and that, according to the true rule of their government, he can do nothing against their laws, or if he do, they may oppose him.
The institution of a kingdom is the act of a free nation; and whoever denies them to be free, denies that there can be anything of right in what they set up. That which was true in the beginning is so, and must be so forever. This is so far acknowledged by the highest monarchs, that in a treatise published in the year 1667, by authority of the present king of France, to justify his pretensions to some part of the Low-Countries, notwithstanding all the acts of himself, and the king of Spain to extinguish them, it is said, That kings are under the happy inability to do anything against the laws of their country. And tho perhaps he may do things contrary to law, yet he grounds his power upon the law; and the most able and most trusted of his ministers declare the same. About the year 1660, the Count d'Aubijoux, a man of eminent quality in Languedoc, but averse to the court, and hated by Cardinal Mazarin, had been tried by the Parliament of Toulouse for a duel, in which a gentleman was kill'd; and it appearing to the court (then in that city) that he had been acquitted upon forged letters of grace, false witnesses, powerful friends, and other undue means, Mazarin desired to bring him to a new trial: but the chancellor Seguier told the Queen-Mother it could not be; for the law did not permit a man once acquitted to be again question'd for the same fact; and that if the course of the law were interrupted, neither the Salic Law, nor the succession of her children, or anything else could be secure in France.
This is farther proved by the histories of that nation. The kings of Meroveus and Pepin's races, were suffer'd to divide the kingdom amongst their sons; or, as Hotman says, the estates made the division, and allotted to each such a part as they thought fit. But when this way was found to be prejudicial to the publick, an act of state was made in the time of Hugh Capet, by which it was ordain'd, that for the future the kingdom should not be dismembered; which constitution continuing in force to this day, the sons or brothers of their kings receive such an apanage (they call it) as is bestow'd on them, remaining subject to the crown as well as other men. And there has been no king of France since that time (except only Charles the sixth) who has not acknowledged that he cannot alienate any part of their dominion.
Whoever imputes the acknowledgment of this to kingcraft, and says, that they who avow this, when 'tis for their advantage, will deny it on a different occasion, is of all men their most dangerous enemy. In laying such fraud to their charge, he destroys the veneration by which they subsist, and teaches subjects not to keep faith with those, who by the most malicious deceits show, that they are tied by none. Human societies are maintained by mutual contracts, which are of no value if they are not observ'd. Laws are made, and magistrates created to cause them to be performed in publick and private matters, and to punish those who violate them. But none will ever be observed, if he who receives the greatest benefit by them, and is set up to oversee others, give the example to those who of themselves are too much inclin'd to break them. The first step that Pompey made to his own ruin was, by violating the laws he himself had proposed. But it would be much worse for kings to break those that are established by the authority of a whole people, and confirmed by the succession of many ages.
I am far from laying any such blemishes on them, or thinking that they deserve them. I must believe the French king speaks sincerely, when he says he can do nothing against the laws of his country: And that our King James did the like, when he acknowledged himself to be the servant of the commonwealth; and the rather, because 'tis true, and that he is placed in the throne to that end. Nothing is more essential and fundamental in the constitutions of kingdoms, than that diets, parliaments, and assemblies of estates should see this perform'd. 'Tis not the king that gives them a right to judge of matters of war or peace, to grant supplies of men and money, or to deny them; and to make or abrogate laws at their pleasure: All the powers rightly belonging to kings, or to them, proceed from the same root. The northern nations seeing what mischiefs were generally brought upon the eastern, by referring too much to the irregular will of a man; and what those who were more generous had suffer'd, when one man by the force of a corrupt mercenary soldiery had overthrown the laws by which they lived, feared they might fall into the same misery; and therefore retained the greater part of the power to be exercised by their general assemblies, or by delegates, when they grew so numerous that they could not meet. These are the kingdoms of which Grotius speaks, where the king has his part, and the senate or people their part of the supreme authority; and where the law prescribes such limits, that if the king attempt to seize that part which is not his, he may justly be opposed: Which is as much as to say, that the law upholds the power it gives, and turns against those who abuse it.
This doctrine may be displeasing to court-parasites; but no less profitable to such kings as follow better counsels, than to the nations that live under them: the wisdom and virtue of the best is always fortified by the concurrence of those who are placed in part of the power; they always do what they will, when they will nothing but that which is good; and 'tis a happy impotence in those, who through ignorance or malice desire to do evil, not to be able to effect it. The weakness of such as by defects of nature, sex, age or education, are not able of themselves to bear the weight of a kingdom, is thereby supported, and they together with the people under them preserved from ruin; the furious rashness of the insolent is restrained; the extravagance of those who are naturally lewd, is aw'd; and the bestial madness of the most violently wicked and outrageous, suppress'd. When the law provides for these matters, and prescribes ways by which they may be accomplished, every man who receives or fears an injury, seeks a remedy in a legal way, and vents his passions in such a manner as brings no prejudice to the commonwealth: If his complaints against a king may be heard, and redressed by courts of justice, parliaments, and diets, as well as against private men, he is satisfied, and looks no farther for a remedy. But if kings, like those of Israel, will neither judge nor be judged, and there be no power orderly to redress private or publick injuries, every man has recourse to force, as if he liv'd in a wood where there is no law; and that force is always mortal to those who provoke it: No guards can preserve a hated prince from the vengeance of one resolute hand; and they as often fall by the swords of their own guards as of others: Wrongs will be done, and when they that do them cannot or will not be judged publickly, the injur'd persons become judges in their own case, and executioners of their own sentence. If this be dangerous in matters of private concernment, 'tis much more so in those relating to the publick. The lewd extravagancies of Edward and Richard the second, whilst they acknowledged the power of the law, were gently reproved and restrained with the removal of some profligate favourites; but when they would admit of no other law than their own will, no relief could be had but by their deposition. The lawful Spartan kings, who were obedient to the laws of their country, liv'd in safety, and died with glory; whereas 'twas a strange thing to see a lawless tyrant die without such infamy and misery, as held a just proportion with the wickedness of his life: They did, as Plutarch says of Dionysius, many mischiefs, and suffer'd more. This is confirmed by the examples of the kingdom of Israel, and of the empires of Rome and Greece; they who would submit to no law, were destroy'd without any. I know not whether they thought themselves to be gods, as our author says they were; but I am sure the most part of them died like dogs, and had the burial of asses rather than of men.
This is the happiness to which our author would promote them all. If a king admit a people to be his companions, he ceaseth to be a king, and the state becomes a democracy. And a little farther, If in such assemblies, the king, nobility, and people, have equal shares in the sovereignty, then the king hath but one voice, the nobility likewise one, and the people one; and then any two of these voices should have power to overrule the third: Thus the nobility and commons should have a power to make a law to bridle the king, which was never seen in any kingdom. We have heard of nations that admitted a man to reign over them (that is, made him king) but of no man that made a people. The Hebrews made Saul, David, Jeroboam, and other kings: when they returned from captivity, they conferred the same title upon the Asmonean race, as a reward of their valour and virtue: the Romans chose Romulus, Numa, Hostilius, and others to be their kings; the Spartans instituted two, one of the Heraclidae, the other of the Aeacidae. Other nations set up one, a few, or more magistrates to govern them: and all the world agrees, that qui dat esse, dat modum esse; he that makes him to be, makes him to be what he is: and nothing can be more absurd than to say, that he who has nothing but what is given, can have more than is given to him. If Saul and Romulus had no other title to be kings, than what the people conferred upon them, they could be no otherwise kings than as pleased the people: They therefore did not admit the people to be partakers of the government; but the people who had all in themselves, and could not have made a king if they had not had it, bestow'd upon him what they thought fit, and retained the rest in themselves. If this were not so, then instead of saying to the multitude, Will ye have this man to reign? they ought to say to the man, Wilt thou have this multitude to be a people? And whereas the nobles of Aragon used to say to their new made king, We who are as good as you, make you our king, on condition you keep and maintain our rights and liberties, and if not, not; he should have said to them, I who am better than you, make you to be a people, and will govern you as I please. But I doubt whether he would have succeeded, till that kingdom was joined to others of far greater strength, from whence a power might be drawn to force them out of their usual method.
That which has been said of the governments of England, France, and other countries, shows them to be of the same nature; and if they do not deserve the name of kingdoms, and that their princes will by our author's arguments be persuaded to leave them, those nations perhaps will be so humble to content themselves without that magnificent title, rather than resign their own liberties to purchase it: and if this will not please him, he may seek his glorious sovereign monarchy among the wild Arabs, or in the island of Ceylon; for it will not be found among civiliz'd nations.
However more ignorance cannot be express'd, than by giving the name of democracy to those governments that are composed of the three simple species, as we have proved that all the good ones have ever been: for in a strict sense it can only suit with those, where the people retain to themselves the administration of the supreme power; and more largely, when the popular part, as in Athens, greatly overbalances the other two, and that the denomination is taken from the prevailing part. But our author, if I mistake not, is the first that ever took the ancient governments of Israel, Sparta and Rome, or those of England, France, Germany and Spain, to be democracies, only because every one of them had senates and assemblies of the people, who in their persons, or by their deputies, did join with their chief magistrates in the exercise of the supreme power. That of Israel, to the time of Saul, is called by Josephus an aristocracy. The same name is given to that of Sparta by all the Greek authors; and the great contest in the Peloponnesian War was between the two kinds of government; the cities that were governed aristocratically, or desired to be so, following the Lacedaemonians; and such as delighted in democracy taking part with the Athenians. In like manner Rome, England, and France, were said to be under monarchies; not that their kings might do what they pleased, but because one man had a preeminence above any other. Yet if the Romans could take Romulus, the son of a man that was never known, Numa a Sabine, Hostilius and Ancus Marcius private men, and Tarquinius Priscus the son of a banished Corinthian, who had no title to a preference before others till it was bestowed upon them; 'tis ridiculous to think, that they who gave them what they had, could not set what limits they pleased to their own gift.
But, says our author, The nobility will then have one voice, and the people another, and they joining may overrule the third, which was never seen in any kingdom. This may perhaps be a way of regulating the monarchical power, but it is not necessary, nor the only one: There may be a senate, tho the people be excluded; that senate may be composed of men chosen for their virtue, as well as for the nobility of their birth: The government may consist of king and people without a senate; or the senate may be composed only of the people's delegates. But if I should grant his assertion to be true, the reasonableness of such a constitution cannot be destroy'd by the consequences he endeavours to draw from it; for he who would instruct the world in matters of state, must show what is, or ought to be, not what he fancies may thereupon ensue. Besides, it does not follow, that where there are three equal votes, laws should be always made by the plurality; for the consent of all the three is in many places required: and 'tis certain that in England, and other parts, the king and one of the estates cannot make a law without the concurrence of the other. But to please Filmer, I will avow, that where the nobles and commons have an equal vote, they may join and over-rule or limit the power of the king: and I leave any reasonable man to judge, whether it be more safe and fit, that those two estates comprehending the whole body of the nation in their persons, or by representation, should have a right to over-rule or limit the power of that man, woman, or child, who sits in the throne; or that he or she, young or old, wise or foolish, good or bad, should overrule them, and by their vices, weakness, folly, impertinence, incapacity, or malice, put a stop to their proceedings; and whether the chief concernments of a nation may more safely and prudently be made to depend upon the votes of so many eminent persons, amongst whom many wise and good men will always be found if there be any in the nation, and who in all respects have the same interest with them, or upon the will of one, who may be, and often is as vile, ignorant, and wretched as the meanest slave; and either has, or is for the most part made to believe he has an interest so contrary to them, that their suppression is his advancement. Common sense so naturally leads us to the decision of this question, that I should not think it possible for mankind to have mistaken, tho we had no examples of it in history: and 'tis in vain to say, that all princes are not such as I represent; for if a right were annexed to the being of a prince, and that his single judgment should over-balance that of a whole nation, it must belong to him as a prince, and be enjoy'd by the worst and basest, as well as by the wisest and best, which would inevitably draw on the absurdities above-mention'd: But that many are, and have been such, no man can deny, or reasonably hope that they will not often prove to be such, as long as any preference is granted to those who have nothing to recommend them, but the families from whence they derive; a continual succession of those who excel in virtue, wisdom, and experience, being promised to none, nor reasonably to be expected from any. Such a right therefore cannot be claimed by all; and if not by all, then not by any, unless it proceed from a particular grant in consideration of personal virtue, ability, and integrity, which must be proved: and when anyone goes about to do it, I will either acknowledge him to be in the right, or give the reasons of my denial.
However this is nothing to the general proposition: nay, if a man were to be found, who had more of the qualities requir'd for making a right judgment in matters of the greatest importance, than a whole nation, or an assembly of the best men chosen out of it (which I have never heard to have been, unless in the persons of Moses, Joshua, or Samuel, who had the spirit of God for their guide) it would be nothing to our purpose; for even he might be biased by his personal interests, which governments are not established principally to promote.
I may go a step farther, and truly say, that as such vast powers cannot be generally granted to all who happen to succeed in any families, without evident danger of utter destruction, when they come to be executed by children, women, fools, vicious, incapable or wicked persons, they can be reasonably granted to none, because no man knows what anyone will prove till he be tried; and the importance of the affair requires such a trial as can be made of no man till he be dead. He that resists one temptation may fall under the power of another; and nothing is more common in the world, than to see those men fail grossly in the last actions of their lives, who had passed their former days without reproach: Wise and good men will with Moses say of themselves, / cannot bear the burden: and every man who is concern'd for the publick good, ought to let fools know they are not fit to undergo it, and by law to restrain the fury of such as will not be guided by reason. This could not be denied, tho governments were constituted for the good of the governor. 'Tis good for him that the law appoints helps for his infirmities, and restrains his vices: but all nations ought to do it tho it were not so, in as much as kingdoms are not established for the good of one man, but of the people; and that king who seeks his own good before that of the people, departs from the end of his institution.
This is so plain, that all nations who have acted freely, have some way or other endeavoured to supply the defects, or restrain the vices of their supreme magistrates; and those among them deserve most praise, who by appointing means adequate to so great a work, have taken care that it might be easily and safely accomplished: Such nations have always flourished in virtue, power, glory, and happiness, whilst those who wanted their wisdom, have suffer'd all manner of calamities by the weakness and injustice of their princes, or have had their hands perpetually in blood to preserve themselves from their fury. We need no better example of the first, than that of the Spartans, who by appointing such limits to the power of their kings as could hardly be transgress'd, continued many ages in great union with them, and were never troubled with civil tumults. The like may be said of the Romans from the expulsion of the Tarquins, till they overthrew their own orders, by continuing Marius for five years in the consulate, whereas the laws did not permit a man to hold the same office two years together; and when that rule was broken, their own magistrates grew too strong for them, and subverted the commonwealth. When this was done, and the power came to be in the hands of one man, all manner of evils and calamities broke in like a flood: 'Tis hard to judge, whether the mischiefs he did, or those he suffer'd were the greater: he who set up himself to be lord of the world, was like to a beast crowned for the slaughter, and his greatness was the forerunner of his ruin. By this means some of those who seem not to have been naturally prone to evil, were by their fears put upon such courses to preserve themselves, as being rightly estimated, were worse than the death they apprehended: and the so much celebrated Constantine the Great died no less polluted with the blood of his nearest relations and friends, than Nero himself. But no place can show a more lively picture of this, than the kingdoms of Granada, and others possessed by the Moors in Spain; where there being neither senate nor assemblies of the nobility and people, to restrain the violence and fury of their kings, they had no other way than to kill them when their vices became insupportable; which happening for the most part, they were almost all murder'd; and things were brought to such extremity, that no man would accept a crown, except he who had neither birth nor virtue to deserve it."
If it be said that kings have now found out more easy ways of doing what they please, and securing themselves; I answer, that they have not proved so to them all, and it is not yet time for such as tread in the same steps to boast of their success: many have fallen when they thought their designs accomplished; and no man, as long as he lives, can reasonably assure himself the like shall not befall him. But if in this corrupted age, the treachery and perjury of princes be more common than formerly; and the number of those who are brought to delight in the rewards of injustice, be so increased, that their parties are stronger than formerly: this rather shows that the balance of power is broken, or hard to be kept up, than that there ought to be none; and 'tis difficult for any man, without the spirit of prophesy, to tell what this will produce. Whilst the ancient constitutions of our Northern kingdoms remain'd entire, such as contested with their princes sought only to reform the governments, and by redressing what was amiss, to reduce them to their first principles; but they may not perhaps be so modest, when they see the very nature of their government chang'd, and the foundations overthrown. I am not sure that they who were well pleased with a moderate monarchy, will submit to one that is absolute; and 'tis not improbable, that when men see there is no medium between tyranny and popularity, they who would have been contented with the reformation of their government, may proceed farther, and have recourse to force, when there is no help in the law. This will be a hard work in those places where virtue is wholly abolished; but the difficulty will lie on the other side, if any sparks of that remain: if vice and corruption prevail, liberty cannot subsist; but if virtue have the advantage, arbitrary power cannot be established. Those who boast of their loyalty, and think they give testimonies of it, when they addict themselves to the will of one man, tho contrary to the law from whence that quality is derived, may consider, that by putting their masters upon illegal courses they certainly make them the worst of men, and bring them into danger of being also the most miserable. Few or no good princes have fallen into disasters, unless through an extremity of corruption introduced by the most wicked; and cannot properly be called unhappy, if they perished in their innocence; since the bitterness of death is assuaged by the tears of a loving people, the assurance of a glorious memory, and the quiet of a well satisfied mind. But of those who have abandoned themselves to all manner of vice, followed the impulse of their own fury, and set themselves to destroy the best men for opposing their pernicious designs, very few have died in peace. Their lives have been miserable, death infamous, and memory detestable.
They therefore who place kings within the power of the law, and the
law to be a guide to kings, equally provide for the good of king and people.
Whereas they who admit of no participants in power, and acknowledge no
rule but their own will, set up an interest in themselves against that
of their people, lose their affections, which is their most important treasure,
and incur their hatred, from whence results their greatest danger.
If I had to do with a man that sought after truth, I should think he had been led into this extravagant opinion by the terms ordinarily used in patents and charters granted to particular men; and not distinguishing between the proprietor and the dispenser, might think kings had given, as their own, that which they only distribute out of the publick treasury, and could have had nothing to distribute by parcels, if it had not been given to them in gross by the publick. But I need not use our author so gently. The perversity of his judgment, and obstinate hatred to truth is sufficient to draw him into the most absurd errors without any other inducement; and it were not charity, but folly to think he could have attributed in general to all princes, without any regard to the ways by which they attain to their power, such an authority as never justly belonged to any.
This will be evident to all those who consider, that no man can confer upon others that which he has not in himself: If he be originally no more than they, he cannot grant to them or any of them more than they to him. In the 7th, 8th, 9th and subsequent sections of the first chapter, it has been proved that there is no resemblence between the paternal right, and the absolute power which he asserts in kings: that the right of a father, whatever it be, is only over his children; that this right is equally inherited by them all when he dies: that everyone cannot inherit dominion; for the right of one would be inconsistent with that of all others: that the right which is common to all is that which we call liberty, or exemption from dominion: that the first fathers of mankind after the Flood had not the exercise of regal power; and whatsoever they had was equally devolved to every one of their sons, as appears by the examples of Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their children: that the erection of Nimrod's kingdom was directly contrary to, and inconsistent with the paternal right, if there was any regality in it: that the other kingdoms of that time were of the same nature: that Nimrod not exceeding the age of threescore years when he built Babel, could not be the father of those that assisted him in that attempt: that if the seventy two kings, who, as our author says, went from Babylon upon the confusion of languages, were not the sons of Nimrod, he could not govern them by the right of a father; if they were, they must have been very young, and could not have children of their own to people the kingdoms they set up: that whose children soever they were, who out of a part of mankind did within a hundred and thirty two years after the flood, divide into so many kingdoms, they shewed that others in process of time might subdivide into as many as they pleased; and kingdoms multiplying in the space of four thousand years since the 72, in the same proportion they did in one hundred and thirty two years into seventy two, there would now be as many kings in the world as there are men; that is, no man could be subject to another: that this equality of right and exemption from the domination of any other is called liberty: that he who enjoys it cannot be deprived of it, unless by his own consent, or by force: that no one man can force a multitude, or if he did, it could confer no right upon him: that a multitude consenting to be governed by one man, doth confer upon him the power of governing them; the powers therefore that he has, are from them, and they who have all in themselves can receive nothing from him, who has no more than every one of them, till they do invest him with it. This is proved by sacred and profane histories. The Hebrews in the creation of judges, kings, or other magistrates, had no regard to paternity, or to any who by extraction could in the least pretend to the right of fathers: God did never direct them to do it, nor reprove them for neglecting it: If they would chuse a king, he commanded them to take one of their brethren, not one who called himself their father: When they did resolve to have one, he commanded them to chuse him by lot, and caused the lot to fall upon a young man of the youngest tribe: David and the other kings of Israel or Judah had no more to say for themselves in that point than Saul: All the kings of that nation before and after the Captivity, ordinarily or extraordinarily set up, justly or unjustly, were raised without any regard to any prerogative they could claim or arrogate to themselves on that account. All that they had therefore was from their elevation, and their elevation from those that elevated them: 'Twas impossible for them to confer anything upon those from whom they received all they had; or for the people to give power to kings, if they had not had it in themselves; which power universally residing in everyone, is that which we call liberty. The method of other nations was much like to this. They placed those in the throne who seemed best to deserve so great an honour, and most able to bear so great a burden: The kingdoms of the heroes were nothing else but the government of those who were most beneficent to the nations amongst whom they lived, and whose virtues were thought fit to be raised above the ordinary level of the world. Tho perhaps there was not any one Athenian or Roman equal to Theseus or Romulus in courage and strength, yet they were not able to subdue many or if any man should be so vain to think that each of them did at first subdue one man, then two, and so proceeding by degrees conquered a whole people, he cannot without madness ascribe the same to Numa, who being sent for from a foreign country, was immediately made king of a fierce people, that had already conquer'd many of their neighbours, and was grown too boisterous even for Romulus himself. The like may be said of the first Tarquin, and of Servius; they were strangers: and tho Tullus Hostilius and Ancus Marcius were Romans, they had as little title to a dominion over their fellow-citizens, or means of attaining to it, as if they had come from the farthest parts of the earth. This must be in all places, unless one man could prove by a perfect and uninterrupted genealogy that he is the eldest son of the eldest line of Noah, and that line to have continued perpetually in the government of the world: for if the power has been divided, it may be subdivided into infinity; if interrupted, the chain is broken, and can never be made whole. But if our author can perform this for the service of any man, I willingly surrender my arms, and yield up the cause I defend. If he fail, 'tis ridiculous to pretend a right that belongs to no man, or to go about to retrieve a right which for the space of four thousand years has lain dormant; and much more to create that which never had a subsistence. This leads us necessarily to a conclusion, that all kingdoms are at the first erected by the consent of nations, and given to whom they please; or else all are set up by force, or some by force and some by consent: If any are set up by the consent of nations, those kings do not confer liberties upon those nations, but receive all from them, and the general proposition is false. If our author therefore, or his followers, would confute me, they must prove that all the kingdoms of the world have their beginning from force, and that force doth always create a right; or if they recede from the general proposition, and attribute a peculiar right to one or more princes, who are so absolute lords of their people, that those under them have neither liberty, privilege, property or part in the government, but by their concessions, they must prove that those princes did by force gain the power they have, and that their right is derived from it. This force also must have been perpetually continued; for if that force be the root of the right that is pretended, another force by the same rule may overturn, extinguish or transfer it to another hand. If contracts have interven'd, the force ceases; and the right that afterwards doth accrue to the persons, must proceed from, and be regulated according to those contracts.
This may be sufficient to my purpose: For as it has been already proved, that the kingdoms of Israel, Judah, Rome, Sparta, France, Spain, England, and all that we are concerned in, or that deserve to be examples to us, did arise from the consent of the respective nations, and were frequently reduced to their first principles, when the princes have endeavour'd to transgress the laws of their institution; it could be nothing to us, tho Attila or Tamerlane had by force gained the dominions they possess'd. But I dare go a step further, and boldly assert, that there never was or can be a man in the world that did, or can subdue a nation; and that the right of one grounded upon force is a mere whimsey. It was not Agathocles, Dionysius, Nabis, Marius, Sulla or Caesar, but the mercenary soldiers, and other villains that joined with them, who subdued the Syracusans, Spartans or Romans: And as the work was not performed by those tyrants alone, if a right had been gained by the violence they used, it must have been common to all those that gained it; and he that commanded them could have had no more than they thought fit to confer upon him. When Miltiades desired leave to wear an olive garland, in commemoration of the victory obtained at Marathon, an Athenian did in my opinion rightly say, "If you alone did fight against the Persians, it is just that you only should be crowned; but if others did participate in the victory, they ought also to have a part in the honour." And the principal difference that I have observ'd between the most regular proceedings of the wisest senates or assemblies of the people in their persons or delegates, and the fury of the most dissolute villains, has been, that the first seeking the publick good, do usually set up such a man, and invest him with such powers as seem most conducing to that good: whereas the others following the impulse of a bestial rage, and aiming at nothing but the satisfaction of their own lusts, always advance one from whom they expect the greatest advantages to themselves, and give him such powers as most conduce to the accomplishment of their own ends: but as to the person 'tis the same thing. Caesar and Nero did no more make themselves what they were, than Numa; and could no more confer any right, liberty or privilege upon the army, that gave them all they had, than the most regular magistrate can upon the senate or people that chose them.
This also is common to the worst as well as the best, that they who set up either, do, as into a publick treasury, confer upon the person they chuse, a power of distributing to particular men, or numbers of men, such honors, privileges and advantages, as they may seem, according to the principles of the government, to deserve. But there is this difference, that the ends of the one being good, and those of the other evil, the first do for the most part limit the powers, that something may remain to reward services done to the publick, in a manner proportion'd to the merit of everyone, placing other magistrates to see it really performed, so as they may not, by the weakness or vices of the governor, be turned to the publick detriment: the others think they never give enough, that the prince having all in his power, may be able to gratify their most exorbitant desires, if by any ways they can get his favour; and his infirmities and vices being most beneficial to them, they seldom allow to any other magistrate a power of opposing his will, or suffer those who for the publick good would assume it. The world affords many examples of both sorts, and every one of them have had their progress suitable to their constitution. The regular kingdoms of England, France, Spain, Poland, Bohemia, Denmark, Sweden, and others, whether elective or hereditary, have had high stewards, constables, mayors of the palace, reichshofmeisters, parliaments, diets, assemblies of estates, cortes, and the like, by which those have been admitted to succeed who seemed most fit for the publick service; the unworthy have been rejected; the infirmities of the weak supplied; the malice of the unjust restrained; and when necessity required, the crown transferr'd from one line or family to another. But in the furious tyrannies that have been set up by the violence of a corrupted soldiery, as in the ancient Roman empire, the kingdoms of the Moors and Arabians, the tyrannies of Ezzelino of Padua, those of the Visconti and Sforzeschi of Milan, Castruccio Castracani of Lucca, Cesare Borgia, and others, there was nothing of all this. The will of the prince was a law; all power was in him, and he kept it, till another stept up and took it from him, by the same means that he had gain'd it. This fell out so frequently, that tho all the Roman emperors endeavour'd to make their power hereditary, it hardly continued three generations in one line from Augustus to Augustulus, unless in that of Constantine, and that with extreme confusion and disorder. They who had madly set up a man to be their head, and exposed so much of the world as was under their power, to be destroy'd by him, did by the like fury throw him down, and never ceased till they had brought the empire to utter ruin.
But if this paternal sovereignty be a mere fiction that never had any
effect; that no nation was ever commanded by God to make it their rule,
nor any reproved for the neglect of it; none ever learnt it from the light
of nature, nor were by wise men taught to regard it: The first fathers
claimed no privilege from it when every man's genealogy was known; and
if there were such a thing in nature, it could be of no use at this day,
when the several races of men are so confused, that not one in the world
can prove his own original; and that the first kingdoms, whether well or
ill constituted, according to the command of God, or the inventions of
men, were contrary to, and incompatible with it; There can have been no
justice in any, if such a rule was to have been observed; the continuance
of an unjust usurpation can never have created a right, but aggravated
the injustice of overthrowing it: No man could ever by his own strength
and courage subdue a multitude, nor gain any other right over them if he
did, than they might have to tear it from him; whoever denies kingdoms
or other magistracies to have been set up by men, according to their own
will, and from an opinion of receiving benefit by them, accuses all the
governments that are, or ever have been in the world, of that outrageous
injustice in their foundation which can never be repair'd. If there be
therefore, or ever was, any just government amongst men, it was constituted
by them; and whether their proceedings were regular or violent, just or
unjust, the powers annexed to it were their donation: The magistracies
erected by them, whether in one or more men, temporary or perpetual, elective
or hereditary, were their creatures; and receiving all from them, could
confer nothing upon them.
Besides, if every people may govern, or constitute and chuse one or more governors, they may divide the powers between several men, or ranks of men, allotting to every one so much as they please, or retaining so much as they think fit. This has been practised in all the governments, which under several forms have flourished in Palestine, Greece, Italy, Germany, France, England, and the rest of the world. The laws of every place show what the power of the respective magistrate is, and by declaring how much is allowed to him, declare what is denied; for he has not that which he has not, and is to be accounted a magistrate whilst he exercises that which he has.
If any doubts do hereupon arise, I hope to remove them, proving in the first place, that several nations have plainly and explicitly made contracts with their magistrates.
2. That they are implicit, and to be understood, where they are not plainly expressed.
3. That they are not dreams, but real things, and perpetually obliging.
4. That judges are in many places appointed to decide the contests arising from the breach of these contracts; and where they are not, or the party offending is of such force or pride that he will not submit, nations have been obliged to take the extremest courses.
To the first: I suppose it will not be denied, that the annual magistrates of divers commonwealths are under some compact, and that there is a power of constraining them to perform the contents, or to punish them for the violation. The modest behaviour of the Roman consuls and dictators (as long as their laws were in force) might not probably proceed from their good nature. Tho the people had not been, as our author says, mad, foolish, and always desirous to chuse the worst men for being most like to themselves, but admirably wise and virtuous, 'tis not to be imagined that in the space of three or four hundred years they should never have fallen upon one who would have transgressed, if he could have done it safely, tho they had used the utmost caution in their choice. But the power of the consuls being only for a year, that of the dictator for six months at most, and the commission that he should take care the commonwealth might suffer no damage, show the end and condition upon which they were chosen; and tho their power is by some thought to have been absolute, yet the consuls were frequently opposed and brought into order by the senate, tribunes, or people, and sometimes the dictator himself. Camillus in his fourth dictatorship was threatened by the tribunes with a great fine, and by that means obliged to abdicate his magistracy. I have already mention'd Marcus Fabius Maximus, who in the behalf of his son Quintus condemned to die by Papirius the dictator, appealed to the people: And when the conduct of Fabius in the war against Hannibal was not approved, Naenius the tribune thought he made a very modest proposition, in that he did not desire his magistracy should be abrogated; but that the master of the horse should be made equal to him in power, which was done accordingly. 'Tis agreed by all, that the consuls were in the place of kings, and that the power of the dictator was at the least equal to what theirs had been. If they therefore were under such a rule, which they could not transgress, or might be reduced to order if they did, and forced to submit to the people as the kings had done, the kings were also made upon the same conditions, and equally obliged to perform them.
The Scripture is more clear in the case. The judges are said to have been in power equal to kings; and I may perhaps acknowledge it, with relation to the Deuteronomical king, or such as the people might have chosen without offending God. The Gileadites made a covenant with Jephthah, that he should be their head and captain: He would not return to his country till they had done it. This was performed solemnly before the lord in Mizpeh, and all Israel followed them. They might therefore make a covenant with their kings, for the difference of name does not increase or diminish the right. Nay, they were in duty obliged to do it: The words of the 17th of Deuter. He shall not multiply wives, &c. that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, can have no other signification, than that they should take care he did it not, or, as Josephus says, hinder him if he attempt it; for the law was not given to the king who was not, but to those who might make him if they thought fit. In pursuance of this law --
[The rest of this chapter is wanting in the original manuscript.]
2dly. There was no absurdity in this, tho it was their own case; but to the contrary, because it was their own case: that is, concerning themselves only, and they had no superiour. They only were the competent judges, they decided their controversies, as every man in his own family doth, such as arise between him and his children, and his servants. This power hath no other restriction, than what is put upon it by the municipal law of the country, where any man [lives], and that hath no other force, than as he is understood to have consented unto it. Thus in England every man (in a degree) hath a right of chastising them; and in many places (even by the law of God) the master hath a power of life and death over his servant: It were a most absurd folly, to say, that a man might not put away, or in some places kill an adulterous wife, a disobedient son, or an unlawful servant, because he is party and judge; for the case doth admit of no other, unless he hath abridged his own right by entering into a society, where other rules are agreed upon, and a superiour-judge constituted, there being none such between king and people: That people must needs be the judge of things happening between them and him whom they did not constitute that [he] might be great, glorious, and rich; but that [he] might judge them, and fight their battles; or otherwise do good unto them as they should direct. In this sense, he that is singulis major, ought to be [obeyed] by every man, in his just and lawful commands tending to the publick good: And must be suffered to do nothing against it, nor in any respect more than the law doth allow.
For this reason Bracton saith, "that the king hath three superiours, to wit, Deum legem, & parliament"; that is, the power originally in the people of England, is delegated unto the parliament. He is subject unto the law of God as he is a man; to the people that makes him a king, in as much as he is a king: the law sets a measure unto that subjection, and the parliament judges of the particular cases thereupon arising: He must be content to submit his interest unto theirs, since he is no more than any one of them, in any other respect than that he is by the consent of all, raised above any other.
If he doth not like this condition, he may renounce the crown; but if he receive it upon that condition (as all magistrates do the power they receive), and swear to perform it, he must expect that the performance will be exacted, or revenge taken by those that he hath betrayed.
If this be not so, I desire to know of our author, how one or more men can come to be guilty of treason against the king, as lex facit ut sit rex. No man can owe more unto him than unto any other, or he unto every other man by any rule but the law; and if he must not be judge in his own case, neither he nor any other by power received from him, would ever try any man for an offence against him, or the law.
If the king, or such as he appoints, cannot judge him, he cannot be judged by the ways ordinarily known amongst us. If he or other by authority from him may judge, he is judge in his own case, and we fall under that which he accounts the utmost of all absurdities: if a remedy be found for this, he must say that the king in his own case may judge the people, but the people must not judge the king, because it is theirs; that is to say, the servant entertained by the master may judge him, but the master must not judge the servant whom he took only for his own use. The magistrate is bound by no oath or contract to the people that created him, but the people is bound to its own creature, the magistrate.
This seems to be the ground of all our author's follies; he cannot comprehend that magistrates are for or by the people, but makes this conclusion, as if nations were created by or for the glory or pleasure of magistrates; and after such a piece of nonsense, it ought not to be thought strange if he represent, as an absurd thing, that the headless multitude may shake off the yoke when they please. But I would know how the multitude comes under the yoke; it is a badge of slavery. He says that the power of kings is for the preservation of liberty and property. We may therefore change or take away kings without breaking any yoke, or that [is] made a yoke, which ought not to be one; the injury is therefore in making or imposing, and there can be none in breaking it.
That if there be not an injury, there may perhaps be an inconvenience; if the headless multitude may shake off the yoke. I know not why the multitude should be concluded to be headless; it is not always so. Moses was head of the multitude that went out of Egypt; Othniel led them against the king of Mesopotamia; under the conduct of Phoebidas; they obtain'd a victory against the Moabites; they had the like success under Shamgar, Barak, Gideon, Jephthah, Samuel, Samson, and others against Canaanites, Midianites, Philistines and others; the multitude that opposed Saul and Ishbosheth had David for its head: and the ten tribes that rejected Rehoboam chose unto themselves [Jeroboam]; the Athenians rising against the thirty tyrants had Thrasybulus; those that drave [Archias] from Thebes were conducted by Pelopidas: when the Romans drave out the Tarquins, they chose Brutus and Publicola, and they destroyed the decemviri under Horatius and Valerius. All the multitudes that afterwards revolted from them under Mauritius, Telerius, Spartanus, and others, were not headless; and we know of none that were, but all either found heads, or made them. The Germans set up Arminius; the Britains, and others in latter times; the Castilians, that rose against Peter the Cruel, had the Lord de Trastamara.
The French, when they grew weary of the corrupted races of Pharamond and Pepin, [had] the same Pepin and Hugh Capet: The Scots when they slew James the Third, had his son to be their head; and when they deposed and imprisoned Queen Mary, the earl of Murray and others supplied the want of age that was in her son: And in all the revolutions we have had in England, the people have been headed by the parliament, or the nobility and gentry that composed it; and when the kings failed of their duties, by their own authority called it. The multitude therefore is not ever headless, but doth either find or create heads unto itself, as occasion doth require; and whether it be one man, or a few, or more, for a short or a longer time, we see nothing more regular than its motions. But they may, saith our author, shake off the yoke; and why may they not, if it prove uneasy or hurtful unto them? Why should not the Israelites shake off the yoke of Pharaoh, Jabin, Sisera, and others that oppressed them?
When pride had changed Nebuchadnezzar into a beast, what should persuade the Assyrians not to drive him out amongst beasts, until God had restored unto him the heart of a man? When Tarquin had turned the legal monarchy of Rome into a most abominable tyranny, why should they not abolish it? And when the Protestants of the Low-Countries were so grievously oppressed by the power of Spain, under the proud, cruel and savage conduct of the duke of Alva, why should they not make use of all the means that God had put into their hands for their deliverance? Let any man who sees the present state of the provinces that then united themselves, judge whether it is better for them to be as they are, or in the condition unto which his fury would have reduced them, unless they had, to please him, renounced God and their religion: Our author may say, they ought to have suffered: The king of Spain by their resistance lost those countries; and that they ought not to have been judges in their own case. To which I answer, That by resisting they laid the foundation of many churches, that have produced multitudes of men, eminent in gifts and graces; and established a most glorious and happy commonwealth, that hath been since its first beginning, the strongest pillar of the Protestant cause, now in the world, and a place of refuge unto those who in all parts of Europe have been oppressed for the name of Christ: Whereas they had slavishly, and, I think I may say, wickedly as well as foolishly, suffered themselves to be butchered, if they had left those empty provinces under the power of Antichrist, where the name of God is no otherwise known than to be blasphemed.
If the king of Spain desired to keep his subjects, he should have governed them with more justice and mercy; when contrary unto all laws both human and divine, he seeks to destroy those he ought to have preserved, he can blame none but himself, if they deliver themselves from his tyranny: and when the matter is brought to that, that he must not reign, or they over whom he would reign, must perish; the matter is easily decided, as if the question had been asked in the time of Nero or Domitian, Whether they should be left at liberty to destroy the best part of the world, as they endeavoured to do, or it should be rescued by their destruction? And as for the peoples being judges in their own case, it is plain, they ought to be the only judges, because it is their own, and only concerns themselves.
Writings of Algernon Sidney