« PreviousContinue »
seen, that men once placed, take in with the contrary faction to that by which they enter: thinking, belike,1 that they have their first sure, and now are ready for a new purchase. The traitor in faction lightly2 goeth away with it, for when matters have stuck long in balancing, the winning of some one man casteth them, and he getteth all the thanks. The even carriage between two factions proceedeth not always of3 moderation, but of a trueness to a man's self, with end to make use of both. Certainly, in Italy, they hold it a little suspect * in popes, when they have often in their mouth, 'Padre commune ;'s and take it to be a sign of one that meaneth to refer all to the greatness of his own house. Kings had need beware how they side* themselves, and make themselves as of a faction or party; for leagues within the State are ever pernicious to monarchies; for they raise an obligation paramount to obligation of sovereignty, and make the king 'tanquam unus ex nobis;'7 as was to be seen in the league of France. When factions are carried too high and too violently, it is a sign of weakness in princes, and much to the prejudice both of their authority and business. The motions of factions under kings ought to be like the motions (as the astronomers speak) of the inferior orbs, which may have their proper motions, but yet still are quietly carried by the higher motion of 'primum mobile.'8
Bacon's remark, that a prince ought not to make it his policy to 'govern according to respect to factions,' suggests a strong ground of preference of hereditary to elective sovereignty. For when a Chief—whether called King, Emperor, President, or by whatever name—is elected (whether' for life, or for a term of years), he can hardly avoid being the head of a party. 'He who is elected will be likely to feel aversion towards those who have voted against him: who may be, perhaps, • nearly half of his subjects. And they again will be likely to regard him as an enemy, instead of feeling loyalty to him as their prince.
1 Belike. Probably. 'That good Earl of Huntingdon, who well esteemed my father; having belike, heard some better words of me than I could deserve; mado earnest enquiry after me.'—Bishop Hall.
2 Lightly. Easily; readily.
'Believe 't not lightly that your son
3 Of. From. See page 289.
4 Suspect. Suspicious.
'Cortes, it is to mee suspect.'—Chaucer. ''Common Father.'
'Side. To take a side. 'As soon as discontents drove men into siding.'
'And those again who have voted for him, will consider him as being under an obligation to them, and expect him to show them more favour than to the rest of his subjects; so that he will be rather the head of a party than the king of a people.
'Then, too, when the throne is likely to become vacant— that is, when the king is old, or is attacked with any serious illness,—what secret canvassing and disturbance of men's minds will take place. The king himself will most likely wish that his son, or some other near relative or friend, should succeed him; and he will employ all his patronage with a view to such an election; appointing to public offices, not the fittest men, but those whom he can reckon on as voters. And others will bo exerting themselves to form a party against him; so that the country will bo hardly ever tranquil, and very seldom wellgoverned.
'If, indeed, men were very different from what they are, there might be superior advantages in an elective royalty; but in the actual state of things, the disadvantages will in general greatly outweigh the benefits.
'Accordingly most nations have seen the advantage of hereditary royalty, notwithstanding the defects of such a constitution.''
'Kings had need beware how they side themselves.'
The observation, that kings who make themselves members of a party, 'raise an obligation paramount to obligation of sovereignty'—that is, are likely to substitute party-spirit for public-spirit,—is one which applies in a great degree to all pirtisans, and to all parties, whether political or ecclesiastical. We see in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War (and the like has been seen in many ages and regions) how much the attachment to the democratic or the oligarchical parties prevailed over Patriotism. And, in religious concerns, attachment to some party will often be found overcoming that to a Church; so that men belonging to different, and even avowedly opposed Churches, will sometimes be found combined in bitter hostility against other members of their own respective Churches, who are not of their religious party.
1 Lesson I., On the Jirilish ConsUtutwn, pp. lj, 16.
On any point, indeed, which the State, or the Church, has left as an open question, allowing each person to judge and act therein as he may think fit,—on such a point, a man may perhaps find himself differing from some individuals who belong to his own community, and in agreement with some who do not; and he is not precluded from joining with these latter in forwarding some definite object in which they agree. For instance, the question of 'Free-trade or Protection' is not involved in the British Constitution, and is one on which loyal subjects may differ. And any one who advocates Free-trade might allowably join with some foreigners of the same opinion, in circulating tracts in favour of it. So also, a member of some Protestant Church might chance to agree with the late Pope Gregory on the subject of Slavery, disagreeing on that point with some fellow-members of his own Church, which has pronounced no decision thereon : and he may, accordingly, join with some Eoman-catholics in discountenancing Slavery.
But most watchful care is requisite, to guard against being imperceptibly led on, without any such design originally, into enrolling oneself in a party, properly so called, (in Bacon's language, a 'faction') ; that is, a combination formed indefinitely for the advocacy of certain general principles, and the promotion of a certain class of objects, without a distinct specification of each precise object to be arrived at, and of the means to be employed; so that the members of the party do, in fact, place themselves under the guidance of their leaders, without any exact knowledge whither they will be led.1
1 See the Essay,' Of Unity in Religion.' Sec also, Essay III., 4th Series, § 3, on 'Party Spirit.' See also Thoughts on tlie Evangelical Alliance,
'The even carriage between two factions proceedeth not always of moderation, but of a trueness to a man's self, with end to make use of both.'
And thorough-going partizans usually attribute this to every one who keeps aloof from Party; or else they suspect him of seeking to set up some new party, in which he may be a leader; or they regard him as a whimsical Being, who differs in opinion from everybody.
A zealous anti-Calvinist at Oxford denounced as Calvinistic a series of Discourses delivered there some years ago, because they were not Arminian: and when those same Discourses were afterwards published, a Reviewer spoke of the author as Arminian because he was not a Calvinist: 'since every one,' he said, 'must be supposed to be either the one or the other.'
A large portion of mankind enrol themselves in the ranks of a party, to be saved the trouble of examining for themselves each of a great number of particular points. They like to have a ready-made set of opinions; like a lot of goods at an auction. And they conclude that others must do the like. Moreover, Man is a classifying animal. It is a convenience to be able to refer each individual to a Class, whose name describes him, instead of going through all the particulars of his opinions. And one who cannot be so described,—though perhaps he does not differ more from his neighbours than many of them do from each other—is an inconvenient individual;—a kind of odd volume on a library-table, for which we cannot find a place on any of the shelves. He is one who refuses to say 'I am of Paul, or I, of Apollos, or I, of Cephas, or, of Luther, or Calvin, or Arminius.' And those, therefore, who prefer convenience to accuracy, will be likely to place him in the ranks of some Party, according to their fancy; or else they will denounce him as ' eccentric,' and affecting 'singularity.'
And as I have- observed^ above (in the Annotations on the Essay on 'Custom') that a prudent man who is no partizan will never trust those who decidedly belong to a party, so, these will never fully trust any one who does not. They may perhaps gladly co-operate with him in some particular matter in which he agrees with them: but they cannot rely on him for going along with them throughout . In some other matter he may perhaps be opposed to them; because he means to use his own judgment in each case; and what the decision of that judgment may be, they cannot foresee with any certainty. They set him down therefore as a man who may chance to be sometimes useful, but who is 'one not to be depended on.' And they usually attribute to him, as Bacon has observed, motives of pure self-interest.
From one or other of the above-mentioned causes, he is likely to be regarded by the most zealous party-men, with at least as much hostility as those of an opposite party. And accordingly, Thucydides, in describing the party-contests at Corcyra and other Greek States, remarks that'those who held a middle course were destroyed by both parties.'
And it is remarkable that party-spirit tends so much to lower the moral standard, that it makes men regard with less abhorrence what is wrong, not only on their own side, but even on the opposite. Their feelings towards those of the opposed party are very much those of a -soldier towards the soldiers of the hostile army. He fires at them for that reason alone, and expects that they should fire at him. If they fight bravely, or if they out-manceuvre him, he admires their courage or their skill. He does not think the worse of them for reckless plundering, ravaging, and slaughtering, just as he would do in their place, and as he does on the opposite side. Even so, the most thorough-going partizans attribute to every one who is, or is supposed to be (often without any good grounds) a member of the opposite party, such conduct as is in reality unjustifiable, without thinking at all the worse of him for it. It is only what they would do in his plaee: and though they dislike him for being of the opposite party, they dislike him for nothing eke.
And as there is often a strong resemblance in character between the soldiers of two hostile armies, so, those whom some perhaps slight circumstance has enrolled in the ranks of opposite parties, will often be found to be very much alike in the most essential points of personal character. Thus, two similar mountain-streams near the summit of the great mountainridges which divide Europe, will sometimes be separated by a small fragment of rock, which sends the waters of the one into the Atlantic, and of the other into the Mediterranean.
And not only are the feelings of zealous party-men hostile