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Court of Nero a Person of Learning, of unquestioned Merit, and of unsuspected Loyalty, was put to Death for no other Reason than that he had a pedantick Countenance which displeased the Emperor. This very Monster of Mankind appeared in the B.-ginning of his Reign to bs a person os Virtue. Many cf the greatest Tyrants on the Rxcords of History have begun their Reigns in the fail est Manner. But the Truth is, this unnatural Power corrupts both the Heart, and the Understanding. And to prevent the least Hope of Amendment, a King is ever surrounded by a Crowd of infamous Flatterers, who find their Account in keeping him from the least Light of Reason, till all Ideas of Rectitude and Justice aie utterly erased frem his Mind. When Alexander had, in his Fury, inhumanly butchered one of his best Friends, and bravest Captains; on the Return of Reason he began to conceive an Horror suitable to the Guilt of such a Mu.der. In this Juncture,, His Council came to his Assistance. But what did his Council? They found him out a Philosopher who gave him Comforr. Aud in what Manner did this Philosopher comfort him for the Lose of such a Man, and heal his Conscience, flagrant with the Smart of such a C.ime? You have the Matter at Length in Plutarch. He told him; " that let a sovereign do "what he mill, all his oftijtts ci'e jus! and Liiful, "because they are I is." The Palaces cf all Princes abound with such courtly Philosophers. The Consequence was such as might be expected. He giew .every Day a Monster more abandoned to unnatural Lust, to Debauchery, to Drunkenness and to MurD 3 dsr
der. And yet this was originally a great Man, of uncommon Capacity, and a strong Propensity to Virtue. But unbounded Power proceeds Step by Step, until it has eradicated every laudible Principle. It has been remarked, that there is no Prince so bad, whose Favourites and Ministers are not worse. There is hardly any Prince without a Favourite, by whom he is governed in as arbitrary a Manner as he governs the Wretches subjected to him. Here the Tyranny is doubled. There are two Courts, and two Interests; both very different from the Interests of the People. The Favourite knows that the Regard of a Tyrant is as unconstant and capricious as that of a Woman; and concluding his Time to be short, he makes haste to fill up the Measure of his Iniquity, in Rapine, in Luxury, and in Revenge. Every Avenue to the Throne is shut up. He oppresses, and ruins the People, whilst he persuades the Prince, that those Murmurs, raised by his own Oppression, are the Effects of Disaffection to the Prince's Government. Then is the natural Violence of Despotism inflamed, and aggravated by Hatred and Revenge. To deserve well of the State is a Crime against the Prince. To be popular, and to be a Traitor, are considered as synonimous Terms. Even Virtue is dangerous, as an aspiring Quality, that claims an Esteem by itself, and independent of the Countenance of the Cpurt. What has been said of the chief, is true of the inferior Officers of this Species of Government; each in his Province exercising the fame Tyranny, and grinding the People by an Oppression, the more severely felt, as it is near
them, them, and exercised by base and subordinate Persons. For the Gross of the People; they are considered as a mere Herd of Cattle; and really in a little Time become no better; all Principle of honest Pride, all Sense of the Dignity of their Nature, is lost in their Slavery. The Day, fays Homer, which makes a Man a Slave, takes away half his Worth; and In fact, he loses every Impulse to Action, but that low and base one of Fear.—In this kind of Government human Nature is not only abused, and insulted, but it is actually degraded and funk into a Species of Brutality. The Consideration of this made Mr. Lode fay, with great Justice, that a Government of this kind was worse than Anarchy j indeed it is so abhorred, and detested by all who live under Forms that have a milder Appearance, that there is scarce a rational Man in Europe, that would not prefer Death to Jstatick Despotism. Here then we have the Acknowledgment of a great Philosopher, that an irregular State of Nature is preferable to such a Government; we have the Consent of all sensible and generous Men, who carry it yet further, and avow tint Death itself is preferable; and yet this Species of Government, so justly condemned, and so generally detested, is what infinitely the greater Part of Mankind groan under, and have groaned under from the Beginning, So that by sure and uncontested Principles, the greatest Part of the Governments on Earth must be concluded Tyrannies, Impostures, Violations of the Natural Rights of Mankind, and worse than the most disorderly Anarchies. How D 4 muck much other forms exceed this, we shall consider inv?
In all Parts of the World, Mankind, however debased, ictains still the Sense of Feeling; the Weight of Tyranny, at last, becomes insupportable; but the Remedy is not so easy; in general, the only Remedy by which they attempt to cure the Tyranny, is to change the Tyrant. This is, and always was the Cafe for the greater Part. In some Countries however, were found Men of more Penetration; who discovered, " that to live by one Man's « Willy was the Cause of all Men's Misery." They therefore changed their former Method, and assembling the Men in their several Societies, the most respectable for their Understanding and Fortunes, they confided to them the Ciiarge of the public Welfare. This ci iginally formed wbat is called an Aristocracy. They hoped, it vvoulci be impossible that such a Number could ever join in any Design against the general Good; and they promised themselves a great deal cf Security and Happiness, from the united Counsels of so many able and experienced Persons. But it is now found by abundant Experience, that an /frisltcracy, a Despotism differ but in Name; and that a People, who are in general excluded from any Share of ihe Legislative, are to all Intents and Purposes, as much Slaves, when twenty, independent of them, govern, as when but one domineers. The Tyranny is even more felt, as every Individual, of the Nobles has the Haughtiness of a Sultan; the People are more miserable, as they seem on the Vprge of Liberty, from which they are for ever debarred; this fallacious Idea of Liberty, whilst it presents a vain Shadow of Happiness to the Subject, binds faster the Chains of his Subjection. What is left undone, by the natural Avarice and Pride of those who are raised above the others, is compleated by their Suspicions, and their Dread of losing an Authority, which has no Support in the common Utility of the Nation. A Genoese, or a Venetian Republick, is a concealed Despotism; where you find the fame Pride of the Rulers, the fame base Subjection of the People, the same bloody Maxims of a suspicious Polity. In one respect the Aristocracy is worse than the Despotism. A Body Politick, whilst it retains its Authority, never changes its Maxims; a Despotism, which is this Day horrible to a supreme Degree, by the Caprice natural to the Heart of Man, may, by the same Caprice otherwise exerted, be as lovely the next; in a Succession, it is possible to meet with some good Princes. If there have been Tiberius's, Caligula's, Nero's, there have been likewise the serener Days of Vespastan's, Titus's, Trajan's, and Antonine's; but a Body Politick is not influenced by Caprice or Whim; it proceeds in a regular Manner; its Succession is insensible; and every Man as he enters it, either has, or soon attains the Spirit of the whole Body. Never was it known, that an Aristocracy, which was haughty and tyrannical in one Century, became easy and mild in the-next. In effect, the Yoke of this Species of Government is so galling, that whenever the People have got the least Power, they have shaken it off with the utmost