Abbildungen der Seite

company with Folly. They were frequent guests of Wealth, and from that mo. ment inseparable. Diffidence, in the mean time, not daring to approach the great house, accepted of an invitation from POVERTY, one of the tenants; and entering the cottage, found Wisdom and Virtue, who being repulsed by the landlord, had retired thither. Virtue took compassion of her, and Wisdom found, from her temper, that she would easily improve : So they admitted her into their society. Accordingly, by their means, she altered in a little time somewhat of her manner, and becoming much more amiable and engaging, was now called by the name of Modesty. As ill company has a greater effect than good, Confidence, tho' more refractory to counsel and example, degenerated so far by the society of Vice and Folly, as to pass by the name of Impudence. Mankind, who saw these societies as JUPITER first joined them, and know nothing of these mutual desertions, are thereby led into strange mistakes; and wherever they see Impudence, make account of Virtue and Wisdom, and wherever they observe Modesty, call herattendants Vice and Folly.



IT is a great question with several, Whether there be any essential difference be1 twixt one form of government and another? and, whether every form may not become good or bad, according as it is well or ill administred * Were it once admitted, that all governments are alike, and that the only difference consists in the character and conduct of the governors, most political disputes would be at an end, and all Zeal for one constitution above another, must be esteemed mere bigotry and folly. But, tho' a friend to Moderation, I cannot forbear condemning this sentiment, and should be sorry to think, that human affairs admit of no greater stability, than what they receive from the casual humors and characters of particular men.

'Tis true, those who maintain, that the goodness of all government consists in the goodness of the administration, may cite many particular instances in history, where the very same government, in different hands, has varied suddenly into the two opposite extremes of good and bad. Compare the French government under Henry III. and under HENRY IV. Oppression, levity, artifice on the part of the rulers ; faction, fedition, treachery, rebellion, disloyalty on the part of the subjects: These compose the character of the former miserable æra. But when the patriot and heroic prince, who succeeded, was once firmly seated on the throne, the government, the people, every thing seemed to be totally changed ; and all from the difference of the temper and sentiments of these two sovereigns. An equal difference of a contrary kind, may be found on comparing the reigns of

s change reignsions of

* For forms of government let fools contest:
Whate'er is best adminisier'd is best, .

C 2

Essay on Man, Book 3.7


ELIZABETH and JAMES, at least with regard to foreign affairs : and instances of this kind may be multiplied, almost without number, from ancient as well as modern history.

But here I would beg leave to make a distinction. All absolute governments (and such that of ENGLAND was, in a great measure, till the middle of the last century, notwithstanding the numerous panegyrics on ancient ENGLISH liberty) must very much depend on the administration; and this is one of the great inconveniences of that form of government. But a republican and free government would be a most obvious absurdity, if the particular checks and controls, provided by the constitution, had really no influence, and made it not the interest, even of bad men, to operate for the public good. Such is the intention of these forms of government, and such is their real effect, where they are wisely constituted: As, on the other hand, they are the sources of all disorder, and of the blackest crimes, where either skill or honesty has been wanting in their original frame and institution.

So great is the force of laws, and of particular forms of government, and so little-dependence have they on the humors and temper of men, that consequences almost as general and certain may be deduced from them, on most occasions, as any which the mathematical sciences afford us.

THE ROMAN government gave the whole legislative power to the commons, without allowing a negative either to the nobility or consuls. This unbounded power the commons poflessed in a collective, not in a representative body. The consequences were : When the people, by success and conquest, had become very numerous, and had spred themselves to a great distance from the capital, the citytribes, tho' the most contemptible, carried almost every vote : They were, therefore, most cajoled by every one who affected popularity : - they were supported in idleness by the general distribution of corn, and by particular bribes, which they received from almost every candidate : By this means they became every day more licentious, and the CAMPUS MARTIUS was a perpetual scene of tumult and sedition: armed slaves were introduced among these rascally citizens ; so that the whole government fell into anarchy, and the greatest happiness which the Ro. MANS could look for, was the despotic power of the CÆSARS. Such are the effects of democracy without a representative.

A NOBILITY may polless the whole, or any part of the legisative power of a state, in two different ways. Either every nobleman shares the power as part of the whole body, or the whole body enjoys the power as composed of parts, which have each a distinct power and authority, The VENETIAN nobility are an inftance of the first kind of government: The Polish of the second. In the VENETIAN government the whole body of nobility posteffes the whole power, and no nobleman has any authority which he receives not from the whole. In the Polish government every nobleman, by means of his fiefs, has a peculiar hereditary authority over his vassals, and the whole body has no authority but what it receives from the concurrence of its parts. The distinct operations and tendencies of these two species of government might be made moft apparant even a priori. A VENETIAN nobility is infinitely preferable to a Polish, let the humors and education of men be ever so much varied. A nobility, who possess their power in common, will preserve peace and order, both among themselves, and their subjects; and


no member can have authority enough to control the laws for a moment. The nobles will preserve their authority over the people, but without any grievous tyranny, or any breach of private property ; because such a tyrannical government promotes not the interest of the whole body, however it may that of some individuals. There will be a distinction of rank between the nobility and people, but this will be the only distinction in the state. The whole nobility will form one body, and the whole people another, without any of those private feuds and animosities, which spread ruin and defolation every where. 'Tis easy to see the disadvantages of a Polish nobility in every one of these particulars.

'Tis possible fo to constitute a free government, as that a single person, call him duke, prince, or king, shall possess a very large share of power, and shall form a proper balance or counterpoise to the other parts of the legislature. This chief magistrate may be either eleflive or hereditary ; and tho' the fornier inftitution may, to a superficial view, appear the most advantageous; yet a more accurate inspection will discover in it greater inconveniencies than in the latter, and such as are founded on causes and principles eternal and immutable. The filling of the throne, in such a government, is a point of too great and too general interest, not to divide the whole people into factions: From whence a civil war, the greatest of ills, may be apprehended, almost with certainty, upon every vacancy. The prince elected must be either a Foreigner or a Native : The former will be ignorant of the people whom he is to govern; suspicious of his new subjects, and suspected by them; giving his confidence entirely to strangers, who will have no other care but of enriching themselves in the quickest manner, while their master's favor and authority are able to support them. A native will carry into the throne all his private animosities and friendships, and will never be regarded, in his elevation, without exciting the sentiments of envy in those, who formerly considered him as their equal. Not to mention, that a crown is too high a reward ever to be given to merit alone, and will always induce the candidates to employ force, or money, or intrigue, to procure the votes of the electors : So that such an election will give no better chance for superior merit in the prince, than if the state had trusted to birth alone for determining their sovereign.

It may therefore be pronounced as an universal axiom in politics, That an hereditary prince, a nobility without vasals, and a people voting by their representatives, forin the best MONARCHY, ARISTOCRACY, and DEMOCRACY, But in order to prove more fully, chat policics admit of general truths, which are invariable by the humor or education either of subject or sovereign, it may not be amiss to observe some other principles of this science, which may seem to deserve that character.

It may easily be observed, that tho’ free governments have been commonly the most happy for those who partake of their freedom ; yet are they the most ruinous and oppressive for their provinces : And this observation may, I believe, be fixed as a maxim of the kind we are here fpeaking of. When a monarch extends his dominions by conquest, he foon learns to consider his old and his new fubjects as on the same footing; because, in reality, all his subjects are to him the fame, except the few friends and favorites, with whom he is personally acquainted. He does not, therefore, make any distinction betwixt them in his general laws ; and, at the same tine, is no less careful to prevent all particular acts of oppression on the one as on the other. But a free state necessarily makes a great distinction, and must always do so, till men learn to love their neighbors as well as them. selves. The conquerors, in such a government, are all legislators, and will be sure fo to contrive matters, by restrictions of trade, and by taxes, as to draw fome private, as well as public, advantage from their conquests. Provincial governors have also a better chance in a republic, to escape with their plunder, by means of bribery or interest, and their fellow-citizens, who find their own state to be inriched by the spoils of the subject-provinces, will be the more inclined to tolerate such abuses. Not to mention, that it is a necessary precaution in a free state to change the governors frequently; which obliges these temporary tyrants to be more expeditious and rapacious, that they may accumulate sufficient wealth before they give place to their successors. What cruel tyrants were the Romans over the world during the time of their commonwealth ! 'Tis true, they had laws to prevent oppression in their provincial magistrates; but Cicero informs us, that the Romans could not better consult the interest of the provinces than by repealing these very laws. For, says he, in that case, our magistrates, having entire impunity, would plunder no more than would satisfy their own rapaciousness : Whereas, at present, they must also satisfy that of their judges, and of all the great men of Rome, whose protection they stand in need of. Who can read of the cruelties and oppressions of VERRES without horror and astonishment ? And, who is not touched with indignation to hear, that after Cicero had exhausted on that abandoned criminal all the thunders of his eloquence, and had prevailed so far as to get him condemned to the utmost extent of the laws; yet that cruel tyrant lived pe..ceably to old age, in opulence and ease, and, thirty years afterward, was put into the proscription by MARK ANTHONY, on account of his exorbitant wealth, where he fell, with Cicero himself, and all the most virtuous men of Rome? After the dissolution of the commonwealth, the ROMAN yoke became easier upon the provinces, as Tacitus informs us *; and it may be observed, that many of the worst emperors, DOMITIAN t, for instance, were very careful to prevent all oppression of the provinces. In I Tiberius's time, Gaul was esteemed richer than ITALY itself: Nor, do I find, during the whole time of the Roman monarchy, that the empire became less rich or populous in any of its provinces ; though indeed its valor and military discipline were always upon the decline. The oppreslion and tyranny of the CARTHAGINIANS over their subject states in AFRICA went so far, as we learn from POLYBIUS |, that not contented with exacting the balf of all the product of the ground, which of itself was a very high rent, they also loaded them with many other taxes. If we pass from antient to modern times, we shall find the same observation to hold. The provinces of absolute monarchies are always better treated than those of free states. Compare the Païs conquis of FRANCE with IRELAND, and you will be convinced of this truth; tho' this latter kingdom being, in a good measure, peopled from ENGLAND, possesses so many rights and privileges as should naturally make it challenge better treatment than chat of a conquered province. CORSICA is also an obvious instance to the same purpose. * Ann. lib 1. cap. 2.


plebs, nihil validum in exercitibus, nisi quod exter. + Suet. in vita Domit.

num cogitarent. Tacit. Ann. lib. 3. I Egregium resumen de libertati tempus, fi ipfi file. Lib1. cap. 72. rentes, quam inop's ITALIA, quam impellis urbana


There is an observation of MACHIAVEL, with regard to the conquests of ALEXANDER the Great, which, I think, may be regarded as one of those eternal political truths which no time nor accidents can vary. It may seem strange, fays chat politician, that such sudden conquests, as those of ALEXANDER, should be poflefled so peaceably by his fucceflors, and that the PERSIANS, during all the confusions and civil wars of the Greeks, never made the smallest eforts towards the recovery of their former independent government. To satisfy us concerning the cause of this remarkable event, we may consider, that a monarch may govern his subjects in two different ways. He may either follow the maxims of the eastern princes, and stretch his power so far as to leave no distinction of ranks among his subjects, but what proceeds immediately from himself; no advantages of birth ; no hereditary honors and possessions; and, in a word, no credit among the people, except from his commission alone. Or a monarch may exert his power after a milder manner, like our EUROPEAN princes ; and leave other sources of honor, beside his smile and favor: Birth, titles, poffeffions, valor, integrity, knowlege, or great and fortunate atchievements. In the former species of government, after a conquest, 'tis impossible ever to shake off the yoke ; since no one possesses, among the people, so much personal credit and authority as to begin such an enterprize : Whereas, in the latter, the least misfortune, or discord of the victors, will encourage the vanquished to take arms, who have leaders ready to prompt and conduct them in every undertaking *

* I have taken it for granted, according to the Cotys his ally, and the daughter of Spiturrsupposition of MACHIAVEL, that the ancient PER- DATES a PERSIAN of rank,who had deserted to him, SIANS had no nobility; tho' there is reason to first asks Cotys what family SPITHRIDAtes is of. suspect, that the FLORENTINE secretary, who One of the most considerable in PERSIA, says Cotys. seems to have been better acquainted with the Ro. ARIÆUS, when offered the sovereignty by CleMAN than the Greek authors, was mistaken in ARCHUS and the ten thousand GREEKS, refused this particular. The more antient PERSIANS, it as of too low a rank, and said, that so many whose manners are described by XENOPHON, were eminent PERSIANS, would never endure his rule. a free people, and had nobility. Their ophotomo Id. de exped. lib. 2. Some of the families, dewere preserved even after the extending of their scended from the seven PERSIANS abovementioned conquests and the consequent change of their go- - remained during all ALEXANDER's successors; and vernment. ARIAN mentions them in DARIUS's MITHRIDATES, in ANTIOCHUS' time, is said by tiine, De exped. Alex. lib. 2. Historians also POLYbius to be descended from one of them, lib. fpeak often of the persons in command as men of 5. cap. 43. ARTA BAZUS was esteemed, as family. TYGRANES, who was general of the ARIAN says, Ev T015 TEWTON Ilezo wa lib. 3. And MEDEs under Xerxes, was of the race of AcHÆ- when ALEXANDER married in one day so of his MENES, HEROD. lib. 7. cap. 62. ARTACHÆES, captains to PERSIAN women, his intention plainly who directed the cutting of the canal about mount was to ally the MACEDONIANS with the molt emi. ATHOS, was of the same family. Id. cap. 117. nent PERSIAN families. Id. lib. 7. DIODORUS MEGABYZUS was one of the seven eminent Per- Siculus says they were of the most noble birth SIANS who conspired against the Magi. His son, in PERSIA, lib. 17. The government of Persia ZOPYRUS, was in the highest command under was despotic, and conducted, in many respects, afDARIUS, and delivered BABYLON to him. His ter the eastern manner, but was not carried so far grandson, MEGABYZUS, commanded the army, as to extirpate all nobility, and confound all ranks defeated at MARATHON. His great grandson and orders. It left men who were still great, by ZOPYRUS, was also eminent, and was banished themselves and their family, independent of their PERSIA. HEROD. lib. 3. Thuc. lib. 1. Ro- office and commillion. And the reason why the SACES, who commanded an army in Ægypt un- MACEDONIANS kept so easily dominion over them der ARTAXERXES, was also descended from one was owing to other causes easy to be found in the of the seven conspirators, Diod. Sic. lib. 16. historians; tho' it must be owned that MaAGESILAUS, in XENOPHON, Hift. GRÆC. lib. 4. CHIAVEL's reasoning is, in itself, jult, however being defirous of making a marriage betwixt king doubtful its application to the present cafe.


« ZurückWeiter »