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though 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 conferred 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. As to popular government, in the strict 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,
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 public treasures exhausted, and the power of the govern ment always falling into the hands of flatterers, whores, favourites, 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
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 answered, that they were as willing as others to get something, but that no man would give them a farthing; for every one finding a free admittance to his Majesty, no man needed a solicitor: and it was no less known, that he himself did 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 innocent and modest, in private fortunes, who prove corrupt and vicious when they are raised to power. The violence, pride, and malice of Saul, was never discovered till the people had placed him on the throne.
WE cannot distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, or know what obedience we owe to the magistrate, or what we may justly expect from him, unless we know what he is, why he is, and by whom he is made to be what he is. These, perhaps, may be called mysteries of state, and some would persuade us they are to be esteemed arcana; but whosoever confesses himself to be ignorant of them, must acknowledge that he is uncapable of giving any judgment upon things relating to the superstructure.
WE see princes of all sorts; they are born as other men: the vilest flatterer dares not deny that they are wise or foolish, good or bad, valiant or cowardly, like other men; and the crown doth neither bestow extraordinary qualities, ripen such as are found in princes sooner than in the meanest, nor preserve them from the decays of age, sickness, or other accidents, to which all men are subject: and, if the greatest king in the world, fall into them, he is as uncapable of that mysterious knowledge, and his judgment is as little to be relied on, as that of the poorest peasant.
This matter is not mended by sending us to seek those virtues in the ministers, which are wating in the prince. The ill effects of Rehoboam's folly could not be corrected by the wisdom of Solomon's counsellors; he rejected them, and such as are like to him will always do the same thing.
Nero advised with none but musicians, players, chariot-drivers, or the abominable ministers of his pleasures and cruelties. Arcadius his senate was chiefly composed of buffoons and cooks, influenced by an old rascally eunuch and it is an eternal truth, that a weak or wicked prince can never have a wise council, nor receive any benefit by one that is imposed upon him, unless they have a power of acting without him, which would render the government, in effect, aristocratical. Good and wise counsellors do not grow up like mushrooms; great judgment is required in choosing and preparing them. If a weak or vicious prince should be so happy to find them chosen to his hand, they would avail him nothing. There will ever be variety of opinions amongst them; and he that is of a perverted judgment, will always choose the worst of those that are proposed, and favour the worst men, as most like to himself.
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 po account is to be made of the good that is always uncertain,
and seldom enjoyed. This disease is not only in absolute monarchies, but in those also where any regard is had to the succession of blood, though under the strictest limitations. The fruit of all the victories gained by Edward I. and III. or Henry V. 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, suffered 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.
WHY should kings not be deposed, if they become enemies to their people, and set up an interest in their own persons inconsistent with the public good, for the promoting of which they were erected? If they were created by the public consent, for the public good, shall they not be removed when they prove to be of public 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 injured people to resume their own? If injustice exalt itself, must it be for ever 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