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wise enough to govern us all,” and “ If it be liberty to live under such a government, I desire to know what is meant by slavery :" yet also, “he who takes upon himself the government of a people can do no greater evil than by doing nothing." In the deaf wisdom, the equal and inflexible restraint of law, he sternly rejoices, and Grotius evidently inspires many an illumined passage. But he owns no unreasoned submission. “ Laws are made to keep things in good order without recourse to force ;" and they were “made by our ancestors according to the light they had, and their present occasions.” “We are not so much to enquire after what is most ancient, as to that which is best, and most conducing to the ends for which it was directed.” He foreruns the volonté de tous : " 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."
He is in favour then of a kind of aristocratic republicanism based on private virtue ; and though well aware that those fittest to exercise power are usually slow to seek it, yet affirms with Plato that heaven-sent rulers carry the true marks of sovereignty upon them, and no country ever lacked great numbers of excellent men where excellence is held in honour. “Rome conquered the best part of the world and never wanted men to defend what was gained." Sometimes a grim touch occurs. “ From which it will appear whose throne he seeks to advance, and whose servant he is, while he pretends to serve the king." " There is not in the world a piece of wood out of which a Mercury cannot be made,” or : “The peace that the Romans had under Augustus was like that which the devil allowed to the child in the gospel, whom he rent sorely and left as dead.” But his mind is evidently most in such clear sayings as “God is constant to himself; and no consequences can destroy any truth.”
Sidney and Milton may be accounted types, in letters as in politics, of a character not uncommon in that century, but singularly rare in our own. Noble in style because full of sustained purpose and intellectual self-respect ; unenfeebled by effeminate sentiment, stoical in private and public fortitude ; not seldom exalted, as though granite were burning, by passion and awe.
F. H. TRENCH.
THE DEGRADATION OF ITALY
WHILST Italy was inhabited by nations governing themselves by their own will, they fell sometimes into domestic 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 vigour and power ; and even those who were the most unfortunate in one age found means to repair their greatest losses, if their government continued. While they had a property 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 among them.
We have not in many ages heard of any sedition among the Latins, Sabines, Volsci, Equi, Samnites, or others. The thin, half-starved 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 scattered, silent cottages ; and the fierceness of those nations is so tempered, 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 these pernicious vermin, it is through the extremity of their poverty. Even in Rome a man may be circumvented by the fraud of a priest, or poisoned 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 be waste ; and they, who were formerly troubled with the disorders incident to populous cities, now enjoy the quiet and peaceable estate of a wilderness.
(From Discourses on Government.)
THE WISDOM OF FLEXIBLE CONSTITUTIONS
It ought to be considered, 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 of. 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 for ever, the next to that is to suit laws to present exigencies, and so much as is in the power of man to foresee. He that would 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. 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 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 physic, architecture, and military discipline, from which men ought never to depart, so there are some in politics 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 public good.
(From the Same.)
THE VIRTUES OF LIBERTY
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 valour of Cyrus, Alexander, and the brave armies that followed them. Histories furnish us with innumerable examples of this kind : but I think none can be found of a cowardly, weak, effeminate, foolish, illdisciplined people, that have ever subdued such as were eminent in strength, wisdom, valour, and good discipline; or that those qualities have been found or subsisted anywhere, unless they were cultivated and nourished by a well-ordered government. therefore, were 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 also expired 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
If this, inclined 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.
(From the Same.)
FOLLY OF HEREDITARY KINGSHIP
Though it may be fit to use some ceremonies, before a man be admitted to practise physic, or set up a trade, it is his own skill that makes him a doctor, or an artificer, and others do but declare it. An ass will not leave his stupidity, though he be covered with scarlet ; and he, that is by nature a slave, will be so still, though a crown be put upon his head. And it is hard to imagine a more violent inversion of the laws of God and nature, than to raise him to the throne, whom nature intended for the chain ; or to make them slaves to slaves, whom God hath endowed with the virtues required in kings. Nothing can be more preposterous, than to impute to God the frantic domination, which is often exercised by wicked, foolish, and vile persons, over the wise, valiant, just, and good ; or to subject the best to the rage of the worst. If there be any family therefore in the world, which can by the law of God and nature, distinct from the ordinance of man, pretend to an hereditary right of dominion over any people, it must be one that never did, and never can produce any person, who is not free from all the infirmities and vices, which render him unable to exercise the sovereign power; and is endowed with all the virtues required to that end; or at least a promise from God verified by experience, that the next in blood shall ever be able and fit for that work. But since we do not know, that any such has yet appeared in the world, we have no reason to believe that there is, or ever was any such ; and consequently none, upon whom God has conferred the rights that cannot be exercised without them.
(From the Same.)