Page images

precipitately into the field, and to encounter an enemy with mere physical force has somewhat in it that is barbarous and brutal. When the occasion, however, and its necessity compel it, we should resist with force, and prefer death to slavery or dishonor.

XXIV. But with regard to overthrowing and plundering of cities, great consideration is required that nothing be done rashly, nothing cruelly. And this is the part of a great man, after he has maturely weighed all circumstances, to punish the guilty, to spare the many; and in every state of fortune not to depart from an upright, virtuous conduct. For, as you find (as I have already observed) men who prefer military to civil duties, so will you find many of that cast who look upon dangerous and violent resolutions to be more splendid and more dignified than calm and digested measures. We should never so entirely avoid danger as to appear irresolute and cowardly; but, at the same time, we should

ate if he can not accomplish more than ho can understand. Is not this frequently, when brought to the practical test, the state of a mind not disposed in general to undervalue its own judgment ?"-Foster's Essay "On Decision of Character," Letter 2.

1 "If,” says Paley, “the cause and end of war be justifiable, all the means that appear necessary to the end are justifiable also. This is the principle which defends those extremities to which the violence of war usually proceeds; for, since war is a contest by force between parties who acknowledge no common superior, and since it includes not in its idea the supposition of any convention which should place limits to the operations of force, it has naturally no boundary but that in which force terminates the destruction of the life against which the force is directe cd. Let it be observed, however, that the license of war authorizes no acts of hostility but what are necessary or conducive to the end and object of the war. Gratuitous barbarities borrow no excuse from this plea: of which kind is every cruelty and every insult that serves only to exasperate the sufferings, or to incense the hatred, of an enemy, without weakening his strength, or in any manner tending to procure his submission; such as the slaughter of captives, the subjecting of them to indignities or torture, the violation of women, the profanation of temples, the demolition of public buildings, libraries, statues, and in general the destruction or defacing of works that conduce nothing to annoyance or defense. These enormities are prohibited not only by the practice of civil. ized nations, but by the law of nature itself, as having no proper tendcncy to accelerate the termination, or accomplish the object of the war, and as containing that which in peace and war is equally unjustifiable ultimate and gratuitous mischief."-"Moral and Political Philosophy," hook 6, chap. 12.

avoid unnecessarily exposing ourselves to danger, than which nothing can be more foolish.

In encountering dangers, therefore, we are to imitate the practice of the physicians who apply to gentle illnesses gentle medicines, but are forced to apply more desperate and more doubtful cures to more dangerous diseases. It is the part of a madman to wish for an adverse tempest in a calm, but of a wise man to find relief against the tempest by whatever means; and the rather if one incurs more advantage by accomplishing the matter than disadvantage by keeping it in suspense. Now the conducting of enterprises is dangerous sometimes to the undertakers, and sometimes to the state; and hence some are in danger of losing their lives, some their reputation, and some their popularity. But we ought to be more forward to expose our own persons than the general interests to danger, and to be more ready to fight for honor and reputation than for other advantages.

Though many have been known cheerfully to venture not only their money but their lives for the public; yet those very men have refused to suffer the smallest loss of glory even at the request of their country. For instance, Callicratidas, who, after performing many gallant actions at the head of the Lacedæmonian armies, during the Peloponnesian war, at last threw every thing into confusion by refusing to obey the directions of those who were for removing the fleet from Arginuse, and not for fighting the Athenians; to whom his answer was, that if the Lacedæmonians lost that fleet they could fit out another, but that he could not turn his back without dishonor to himself. 'Tis true, the blow that followed upon this was not very severe to the Lacedæmonians ; but it was a deadly one, when, from a fear of public odium, Cleombrotus fought with Epamonidas, and the power of the Lacedæmonians perished. How preferable was the conduct of Quintus Maximus, of whom Ennius says :

“The man who saved his country by delay,

No tales could move him, and no envy sway;
And thus the laurels on his honored brow,

In age shall flourish, and with time shall grow.” The verses quoted here by Ennius seem to have been in high reputation with the Romans; for Virgil has borrowed the first of them, and applied it, as our author does, to the conduct of Fabius Maximus against Liannibal.

This is a species of fault which ought also to be avoided in civil matters; for there are some men who, from a dread of unpopularity, dare not express their opinions however excellent they may be.

XXV. Ali who hope to rise in a state ought strictly to observe two rules of Plato. The first is, that they so keep in view the advantage of their fellow-citizens as to have reference to it in whatever they do, regardless of their individual interest. The second is, that their cares be applied to the whole of the state, lest while they are cherishing one part they abandon the others. For the administration of government, like a guardianship, ought to be directed to the good of those who confer, and not of those who receive the trust. Now, they who consult the interests of one part of

1 "Political power is rightly exercised only when it subserves the wel. fare of the community. The community, which has the right to withhold power, delegates it of course for its own advantage. If in any case its advantage is not consulted, then the object for which it was delegated is frustrated; or, in simple words, the measure which does not promoto the public welfare is not right. It matters nothing whether the community have delegated specifically so much power for such and such purposes; the power, being possessed, entails the obligation. Whether a sovereign derives absolute authority by inheritance, or whether a president is intrusted with limited authority for a year, the principles of their duty are the same. The obligation to employ it only for the public good is just as real and just as great in one case as in the other. The Russian and the Turk have the same right to require that the power of their rulers shall be so empioyed as the Englishman or American. They may not be able to assert this right, but that does not affect its existence, nor tho ruler's duty, nor his responsibility to that Almighty Being before whom he must give an account of his stewardship. These reasonings, if they needed confirmation, derive it from the fact that the Deity imperatively requires us, according to our opportunities to do good to man."-Eymond's Essay 3, cap. 2

2 “Political powers (says Dymond) is rightlr possessed only when it is possessed by the consent of the community.”-Ibid.

The doctrine of the essential sovereignty of the people, and the delegated power of all governors is thus laid down by Milton: “It is thus manifest that the power of kings and magistrates is nothing else but what is only derivative, transferred, and committed to them in trust from the people to the common good of them all, in whom the power yet remains fundamentally, and can not be taken from them without a violation of their natural birthright; and from hence Aristotle, and the best of political writers, have defined a king, ‘him who governs to the good and profit of his people, and not for his own ends.' ' - Milton's "Tenuro of Kings and Magistrates." And again: “It follows that since the king or magistrate holds his authority of the people, both originally and nat

a community and neglect another, introduce into the state the greatest of all evils, sedition and discord. From this partiality some seem to court the people, some each great man, but few the whole. Hence the great discords among the Athenians, and in our government not only seditions but the most destructive wars, which every worthy and bravo citizen who deserves to rise in the state will avoid and detest; he will give himself entirely up to the service of his country, without regard to riches or to power, and he will watch over the whole so as to consult the good of all. He will even be far from bringing any man into hatred or disgrace, by ill-grounded charges, and he will so closely attach himself to the rules of justice and virtue, that huwever he may give offense he will preserve them, and incar death itself rather than swerve from the principles I have laid down.

Of all evils, ambition and the disputes for public posts are the most deplorable. Plato, likewise, on this subject, says very admirably, “ that they who dispute for the management of a state, resemble mariners wrangling about who should direct the helm.” He then lays down as a rule that we ought to look upon those as our enemies who take arms against the public, and not those who want to have public affairs directed by their judgment. For instance, Publius Africanus and Quintus Metellus differed in opinion, but without animosity.

Nor, indeed, are those to be listened to who consider that we ought to cherish a bitter resentment against our enemies. and that this is characteristic of a high-minded and bravo man ; for nothing is more noble, nothing more worthy of a great and a good man, than placability and moderation.' urally, for their good in the first place, and not his own, then may the people, as oft as they shall judge it for the best, either choose him or reject him, retain him or depose him, though no tyrant, merely by the liberty and right of free-born men to be governed as seems to them best. This, though it can not but stand with plain reason, shall be made good also by Scripture: When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations about me.'--Deut. xvii. 14. These words confirm us that the right of choosing, yea of changing their own government, is by the grant of God himself in the people.”—Ibid.

"It is impossible not to remark how far the popular standard of duty, and the modern laws of honor, fall below this high and almost Christian morality of Cicero.

Nay, amid freo nations and equality of rights, an cquability and loftiness of temper is necessary, to prevent our falling into an idle, disagreeable peevishness, when we are irritated by persons approaching us unseasonably, or preferring to 13 unreasonable requests. Yet this politeness and moderatio? ought to be so tempered, that for the sake of the interests of the state severity should be employed, otherwise public busi-, ness could not be carried on. Meanwhile, all reprimands and punishments ought to be inflicted without abuse, without regard to the party so punishing or reprimanding, but to the good of the state.

We ought, likewise, to take care that the punishment be proportioned to the offense,' and that some be not punished for doing things for which others are not so much as called to account. Above all things, in punishing we ought to guard against passion; for the man who is to pronounce a sentence of punishment in a passion, never can preserve that mean between what is too much and too little, which is so

justly recommended by the Peripatetics, did they not too much commend the passion of anger, by asserting it to be a useful property of our nature. For my part, I think that it ought to be checked under all circumstances ;' and it were to be wished that they who preside in government were like

1" A slight perusal of the laws by which the measures of vindictivo and coercive justice are established, will discover so many disproportions between crimes and punishments, such capricious distinctions of guilt, and such confusion of remissness and severity, as can scarcely be believed to have been produced by public wisdom, sincerely and calmly studious of public happiness.”—Dr. Johnson.

3"Be yo angry, and sin not;" therefore, all anger is not sinful; I suppose because some degree of it, and upon some occasions, is inevitable. It becomes sinful, or contradicts, however, the rule of Scripture, when it is conceived upon slight and inadequate provocation, and when it continues long.–Paley's “Moral and Political Philosophy," book 3, chap. 7.

“From anger in its full import, protracted into malevolence, and exertcd in revenge, arise, indeed, many of the evils to which the life of man is exposed. By anger operating upon power are produced the subversion of cities, the desolation of countries, the massacre of nations, and all those dreadful and astonishing calamities which fill the histories of the world, and which could not be read at any distant point of time, when the passions stand neutral, and every motive and principle are left to its natural force, without some doubt of the truth of the relation, did we not see the same causes still tending to the same effects, and only acting with less vigor for want of the same concurrent opportunities."-Dr. Johnson.

« PreviousContinue »