Thoughts on civil liberty: on licentiousness, and faction. By the author of Essays on the characteristics, &c.
—Sed in Vitium Libertas excidit, et VimDignam Lege regi.—
- SECT. I. The Deſign. Page 9.
- SECT. II. Of the Nature of civil Liberty. p. 11.
- SECT. III. Of Licentiouſneſs and Faction. p. 14.
- SECT. IV. Unaſſiſted Laws no permanent Foundation of civil Liberty. p. 15.
- SECT. V. Virtuous Manners and Principles the only permanent Foundation of civil Liberty. p. 26.
- [Page 4] SECT. VI. An Objection conſidered. Page 36.
- SECT. VII. A Confirmation of theſe Principles, drawn from the Hiſtory of free States. 1ſt of Sparta. p. 42.
- SECT. VIII. Of the Republic of Athens. p. 61.
- SECT. IX. Of the Commonwealth of Rome. p. 67.
- SECT. X. How far theſe Facts can properly be apply'd to the political State of Great Britain. p. 78.
- SECT. XI. Of the general State of Manners and Principles, about the Time of the Revolution. p. 88.
- [Page 5] SECT. XII. Of the Changes in Manners and Principles, through the ſucceeding Times. Page 94.
- SECT. XIII. Among what Ranks, Licentiouſneſs and Faction may moſt probably be expected. p. 108.
- SECT. XIV. Of the moſt effectual Means of detecting Licentiouſneſs and Faction. p. 115.
- SECT. XV. Of the characteriſtic Marks of Liberty. p. 118.
- SECT. XVI. Of the firſt characteriſtic Mark of Licentiouſneſs and Faction. p. 120.
- [Page 6] SECT. XVII. A ſecond Mark of Licentiouſneſs and Faction. Page 124.
- SECT. XVIII. A third Mark of Licentiouſneſs and Faction. p. 126.
- SECT. XIX. A fourth Mark of Licentiouſneſs and Faction. p. 127.
- SECT. XX. A fifth Mark of Licentiouſneſs and Faction. p. 131.
- SECT. XXI. A ſixth Mark of Licentiouſneſs and Faction. 134.
- SECT. XXII. Some Objections obviated. p. 137.
- [Page 7] SECT. XXIII. Of the Remedies againſt Licentiouſneſs and Faction. The firſt Remedy. Page 140.
- SECT. XXIV. A ſecond Remedy. p. 142.
- SECT. XXV. Some concomitant Remedies. p. 149.
- SECT. XXVI. Of the chief and eſſential Remedy. p. 156.
- SECT. XXVII. The Concluſion. p. 160.
THOUGHTS ON CIVIL LIBERTY, &c.
THERE are two Cauſes, eſſentially diſtinct, though often interwoven, by which a free State may periſh. Theſe are, external and internal Violence: Invaſions from Abroad, or Diſſentions at Home: The Rage of foreign War, or domeſtic Faction.
After a dangerous and exhauſting War, Victory hath at length reſtored Peace to our bleeding Country. But in vain the [Page 10] Sword of War is ſheathed, if in Time of Peace the Poignard of Licentiouſneſs and Faction is drawn, and madly level'd by many of our Countrymen, at the Breaſts of their Fellow-Subjects.
To prevent the fatal Conſequences of this deluded or deluding Spirit, is the Purpoſe of this Eſſay: In which the Writer will endeavour to trace the preſent State of Things to its general Foundations: By pointing out the real Baſis and genuine Characteriſtics of true Liberty; by unmaſquing the Pretences, and laying open the ſecret Sources and diſtinctive Marks of Licentiouſneſs and Faction.
As the political Principles here laid down and inforced, will be found ſtrictly connected with Religion and Morals; no Apology will be made for endeavouring to eſtabliſh the public Happineſs of Mankind on the ſolid Baſis of Virtue, which is the End of Religion itſelf.—In this Point the Writer confirms himſelf on the Authority of an excellent and learned Prelate, whoſe [Page 11] political Reſearches were of like Tendency. ‘"As the Sum of human Happineſs is ſuppoſed to conſiſt in the Goods of Mind, Body, and Fortune, I would fain make my Studies of ſome Uſe to Mankind, with Regard to each of theſe three Particulars; and hope it will not be thought faulty or indecent in any Man, of what Profeſſion ſoever, to offer his Mite towards improving the Manners (I will add, the Religion) Health, and Proſperity of his Fellow-Creatures. *"’
[Page 12] Yet the Writer eſteems it a neceſſary though obvious Taſk: Not only that he may appeal to his Idea of it, thus eſtabliſhed; but alſo, becauſe in the Conduct (at leaſt) if not in the Writings of his Countrymen, it ſeems to have been ſometimes miſtaken.
The natural Liberty of Man, conſidered merely as a ſolitary and ſavage Individual, would generally lead him to a full and unbounded Proſecution of all his Appetites. Some Savages there are, though few, who live nearly, if not altogether, in this brutal State of Nature.
Theſe laſt Expreſſions, it muſt be confeſſed, are inadequate to their Subject: For ſuch a State of Man is worſe than that of Brutes, and in the ſtrict Senſe, is alſo contrary to Nature. For Brutes are endowed with unerring Inſtincts, which Man poſſeſſeth not: Therefore ſuch a ſolitary and wretched State is ſtrictly unnatural; becauſe it prevents the Exertion of thoſe Powers, which his Nature is capable of attaining: [Page 13] But thoſe Powers Society alone can call forth into Action.
Man is therefore formed for Society: That is, Man is formed for Intercourſe with Man: Hence, through the natural Developement of the human Powers, a Variety of new Wants, a Neceſſity for mutual Aids and diſtinct Properties, muſt ariſe: From theſe, a new Acceſſion, as well as a frequent Diſagreement and Claſhing of Deſires muſt inevitably enſue. Hence the Neceſſity of curbing and fixing the Deſires of Man in the ſocial State; by ſuch equal Laws, as may compel the Appetites of each Individual to yield to the common Good of all.
From this ſalutary Reſtraint, civil Liberty is derived. Every natural Deſire which might in any Reſpect be inconſiſtent with the general Weal, is given up as a voluntary Tax, paid for the higher, more laſting, and more important Benefits, which we reap from ſocial Life.
FROM the Nature of civil Liberty, thus delineated, the Nature of Licentiouſneſs will eaſily be fixed: Being indeed no other than ‘"Every Deſire carry'd into Action, which in any Reſpect violates thoſe equal Laws, eſtabliſhed for the common Benefit of the Whole."’
THESE Remarks are obvious; and clear to every Man poſſeſſed of the common Degrees of Underſtanding. Let us now conſider, ‘"What are the permanent Foundations of civil Liberty:"’That is, in other Words, ‘"What are the effectual Means by which every Member of Society may be uniformly ſway'd, impelled, or induced, to ſacrifice his private Deſires or Appetites, to the Welfare of the Public."’—This is a Subject, which deſerves a particular Elucidation, becauſe in our own Country, and our own Times, it ſeems to have been much and dangerouſly miſtaken.
It hath been affirmed as a firſt Principle by certain Writers, and hath been artfully or weakly ſuggeſted by others, ‘"that the [Page 16] coercive Power of human Laws is ſufficient to ſuſtain itſelf: That the Legiſlator or Magiſtrate hath properly no Concern with the private Opinions, Sentiments, or Operations of the Mind: And that Actions alone fall under the legal Cognizance of thoſe in Power."’
The Author of the Fable of the Bees hath boldly laid down this; which, as a ruling Principle, pervades his whole Work. He profeſſes himſelf the Friend of Liberty: He derides private Virtue, as the Offspring of Flattery, begotten upon Pride: He diſcards Religion, as a political Fable; he treats the Principle of Honour, as an empty Chimera; he recommends private Vices as public Benefits; * and having thus level'd the whole Fabric of Manners and Principles; what, do you think, is the grand Arcanum of his Policy, for the Prevention of ſuch Crimes as would indanger the Grandeur and Stability of the State? Why;—‘"ſevere [Page 17] Laws, rugged Officers, Pillories, Whipping-Poſts, Jails, and Gibbets."’ *
This Principle, of the Sufficiency of human Laws to ſuſtain their own Efficacy and Power, without Regard to the Opinions or Principles of Men, hath been, at leaſt, indirectly held forth by other Writers.
An Author, who although a ſincere, was certainly an imprudent Friend of Liberty, ſpeaks in the following ambiguous Stile; which, if not deſigned to impreſs the Principle here called in Queſtion, is at leaſt very liable to be interpreted into it. ‘"It is fooliſh to ſay, that Government is concerned to meddle with the private Thoughts and Actions of Men, while they injure neither the Society, nor any of its Members. Every Man is in Nature and Reaſon, the Judge and Diſpoſer of his own domeſtic Affairs; and according to the Rules of Religion and [Page 18] Equity, every Man muſt carry his own Conſcience: So that neither has the Magiſtrate a Right to direct the private Behaviour of Men; nor has the Magiſtrate, or any Body elſe, any Manner of Power to model People's Speculations, no more than their Dreams. Government being intended to protect Men from the Injuries of one another, and not to direct them in their own Affairs; in which no one is intereſted but themſelves, it is plain, that their Thoughts and domeſtic Concerns are exempted entirely from its Juriſdiction: In Truth, Men's Thoughts are not ſubject to their own Juriſdiction." ’
‘ —"Let People alone, and they will take Care of themſelves, and do it beſt: And if they do not, a ſufficient Puniſhment will follow their Neglect, without the Magiſtrate's Interpoſition and Penalties. It is plain, that ſuch buſy Care and officious Intruſion into the perſonal Affairs, or private Actions, Thoughts, and Imaginations of Men, has in it more Craft than [Page 19] Kindneſs:—To quarrel with any Man for his Opinions, Humours, or the Faſhion of his Cloaths, is an Offence taken without being given."’—‘"True and impartial Liberty is therefore the Right of every Man, to purſue the natural, reaſonable, and religious Dictates of his own Mind: To think what he will, and act as he thinks, provided he acts not to the Prejudice of another. *"’
Theſe Expreſſions are crude, inaccurate, and ambiguous; leaving the thoughtful Reader at a Loſs for the Author's preciſe and determined Meaning. For, firſt, they may poſſibly imply, ‘"that the Magiſtrate hath no Right to violate the Laws of what is commonly called religious Toleration or chriſtian Liberty; but that every Man hath an unalienable Right to worſhip God in that Manner which accords to the Dictates of his own Conſcience."’—In this Senſe they are rational and true: [Page 18] [...] [Page 19] [...] [Page 20] And to this Truth the Writer hath more than once born public Teſtimony. *
But, ſecondly, they may imply, ‘"that Thoughts, Speculations, Opinions, Principles, however received and imbibed by the Mind of Man, have no Connexion with his Actions; at moſt, no Connexion ſo neceſſary and ſtrong as to give the Magiſtrate a Right to regulate them by any Means whatever. That no Direction is to be given either to the grown or the infant Mind; that as every Member of Society hath a Right to hold what Opinions and Principles he pleaſeth, ſo he hath the ſame Privilege to communicate them to his Family and Children: That they are to think what they will, becauſe Thoughts and Opinions are a private and perſonal Affair: That the Magiſtrate is only concerned to regulate their Actions."’
[Page 21] This is not only a poſſible Interpretation, but in all Appearance, the more natural of the two. For it is not here once ſuggeſted by this Author, that Opinions have any Influence on Actions; but rather, that they concern nobody but Him who holds them. 'Tis true, he ſpeaks of them as being reaſonable, and religious: But if they be the mere Reſult of private and fortuitous Thought, unaided by the Regulations of civil Policy, I ſee not why they may not more probably be unreaſonable and irreligious: Becauſe they are more likely to be model'd by ruling Appetites than rational Deduction.
At the ſame Time, it is but Juſtice to this Author to ſay, that he certainly meant not (like the Author of the Fable of the Bees) to diſcard all moral Principles as groundleſs and chimerical; whatever his Intentions were with Regard to Religion. But his Expreſſions are ambiguous, and have been laid hold of by Men of the moſt libertine Opinions: Therefore in [Page 22] whatever Senſe they were written, it is neceſſary to oppoſe them, in that Senſe in which they have been received.
And farther, this is certain: That the Principle implied in this ſecond Interpretation hath paſſed into a general Maxim in this Kingdom, among thoſe who pique themſelves on unlimited Freedom of Thought. Theſe Men have long and openly derided every Regulation of Opinion and Principle; have diſcarded all moral and religious Inſtruction, under the deſpiſed Idea, of Prejudice of Education; have laid it down as their fundamental Maxim, ‘"that you are to think what you will: Only to act honeſtly."’ Not attending to that eſſential Connexion which ſubſiſts between Thoughts, Opinions, Principles, and ACTIONS.
Doubtleſs, any Society of Men, aiming at the Eſtabliſhment of civil Liberty, have a Right to unite themſelves on what Conditions they pleaſe. But it is the Purpoſe of this Eſſay, to prove, by Reaſonings confirmed by Facts, that a free Community [Page 23] built on the Maxims above delivered, cannot be of long Duration: That the mere coercive Power of human Laws is not ſufficient to ſuſtain itſelf: That there is a ſtrong and unalterable Connexion between Opinions and Actions: That a certain Regulation of Principles is neceſſary to check the ſelfiſh Paſſions of Man; and prevent Liberty from degenerating into Licentiouſneſs: And that ‘"a certain Syſtem of Manners and Principles, mutually ſupporting each other, and pervading the whole Community, are the only permanent Foundation on which true civil Liberty can ariſe."’
The natural Appetites, Paſſions, and Deſires of Man, are the univerſal Fountain of his Actions: Without the Impulſe which he receives from thoſe, he would be at once unfeeling and inactive. Conſequently, according to the State and Character of his Deſires, his Actions will naturally be good or evil; innocent, uſeful, or deſtructive.
Whatever Means, therefore, are moſt effectual in curbing and ſubduing the ſelfiſh Deſires of Man, are the moſt effectual Means of regulating his Actions, and eſtabliſhing civil Liberty on its moſt permanent Foundations.
It cannot produce private Happineſs to the Individual, becauſe while it leaves his Mind open to be infeſted by every unruly [Page 25] Paſſion that may ariſe, it forbids him the Gratification: Thus it ſets the diſtracted Soul at Variance with itſelf. The beſt Conſequence that can be hoped for, is a continued Conflict of Fear and Appetite; of a Dread of human Laws, warring with inordinate and ſelſiſh Paſſions.
It cannot be a permanent Foundation of public Liberty; becauſe while the Paſſions are thus left without an inward Controul, they will often be too ſtrong for Fear, even where a legal Puniſhment is the certain Conſequence: For as they are ſuffered to ſubſiſt in their full Vigour, and when kindled in the Soul are blind and headlong, they will often carry away the whole Man; will bear him down in their Gratification, even to unavoidable Deſtruction.
Still farther, and chiefly: Human Power cannot penetrate the ſecret Receſſes of the Soul, nor reach the dark Intentions of the Heart of Man, nor always be of Weight to combat the Strength of Individuals: [Page 26] Hence Cunning will often evade, and Force will often defy, the coercive Power of the beſt-formed Laws. Thus public Wiſdom muſt give Way to private Gratification, the Innocent muſt become a Prey to the Guilty; that is, in other Words, Liberty muſt be deſtroyed, and Licentiouſneſs muſt triumph.
WHAT, then, are the permanent Foundations, on which perfect Liberty can ariſe?—I anſwer, it can only ariſe on the Power of ſuch a Syſtem of Manners and Principles effectually impreſſed on the human Mind, as may be an inward Curb to every inordinate Deſire; or rather, ſuch as may ſo frame and model the Human Heart, that its ruling Deſires [Page 27] may correſpond, coincide, or coaleſce, with all the great and eſſential Appointments of public Law.
The Nature of Man admits of this Improvement, though not in a perfect, yet in a conſiderable Degree. He is born with Appetites ſuited to his own Preſervation, and the Continuance of his Species: Beyond this, he is by Nature at once ſelfiſh and ſocial; compaſſionate and reſentful; docile, either to Good or Evil; and hence, capable of acquiring new Habits, new Paſſions, new Deſires, either to the Welfare or Deſtruction of his Fellow-Creatures.
Virtuous Manners are a permanent Foundation for civil Liberty, becauſe they [Page 28] lead the Paſſions and Deſires themſelves to coincide with the Appointments of public Law. The infant Mind is pregnant with a Variety of Paſſions: But it is in the Power of thoſe who are intruſted with the Education of Youth, in a conſiderable Degree, to determine the Bent of the naſcent Paſſions; to fix them on ſalutary Objects, or let them looſe to ſuch as are pernicious or deſtructive.
Here, then, lie the firſt Foundations of civil Liberty: In forming the Habits of the youthful Heart, to a Coincidence with the general Welfare: In checking every riſing Appetite that is contrary to This, and in forwarding every Paſſion that may promote the Happineſs of the Community: In implanting and improving Benevolence, Self-Controul, Humility, Integrity, and Truth; in preventing or ſuppreſſing the contrary Habits of Selfiſhneſs, Intemperance, Pride, Diſhoneſty, and Falſehood: In teaching the young Mind to delight, as far as is poſſible, in [Page 29] every Virtue for its own Sake: In a Word, in ſo forming the Pleaſures and Diſpleaſures of the opening Heart, that they may coaleſce and harmonize with the Laws of public Freedom.
Above all, This will give Stability to civil Liberty, if the ſocial Paſſions of Individuals can be ſo far extended, as to include the Welfare of the whole Community, as their chief and primary Object. This Affection is diſtinguiſhed by the Name of public Spirit, or the Love of our Country; the higheſt Paſſion that can ſway the human Heart, conſidered as a permanent Foundation of true Liberty.
But in ſome Minds the ſelfiſh Paſſions are ſtrong, and the ſocial ones weak or wanting: And in the beſt formed Heart incidental Temptations may ariſe, and overturn its pre-eſtabliſhed Habits: Therefore it is a neceſſary Meaſure for the Security of private Virtue and public Freedom, that virtuous Principles be likewiſe implanted in the Heart. Such Principles, [Page 30] I mean, as may ſtrengthen the good Habits of Thought and Action already contracted, by ſuperinducing the Idea of Duty.
Of theſe there are but three, which can ſway the Manners of Men, and confirm the Foundation of civil Liberty. Theſe are Religion, Honour, and natural Conſcience. The firſt has the Deity for its Object; the ſecond, the Applauſe of Men; the third, the Approbation of our own Heart. The Frame and Situation of Man admits of no other Principle, from whence the Idea of Duty can ariſe.
The Principle of Religion tends to this End of confirming civil Liberty, as it induces the Idea of Duty; and urges the Performance of it, on the Belief of a juſt, omnipotent, and all-ſeeing GOD; who approves and condemns, will reward or puniſh, according as our Thoughts and Actions are Good or Evil.
But, as the Means of rendering Religion, a firm Ally and Support of Liberty, [Page 31] it is neceſſary that their Dictates ſhould be coincident: That is, that the Thoughts and Actions which Religion preſcribes as Duties, and forbids as Sins, ſhould coincide with the Dictates and Appointments of public Law. In free Countries, this is the natural State of Religion; which commonly either bends to the eſtabliſhed Laws of the Community, or moulds them into its own Genius and Complexion.
The Principle of Honour affords a concomitant Support of civil Liberty, when properly directed. It works by a powerful and univerſal Paſſion, ‘"our Fondneſs for the Applauſe of Men:"’ But in free Countries, this Principle is much more liable to abuſe than that of Religion: Becauſe it is apt be be warped by the faſhionable and ruling Manners of the Times: For whatever is faſhionable is apt to draw Reſpect and Applauſe: Whatever is unfaſhionable is for the preſent intitled only to Contempt. Hence the Principle of Honour becomes fluctuating and uncertain [Page 32] in its Nature, and therefore in its Effects: A Regulation of this Principle, therefore, is of the moſt important Conſequence; becauſe, if left to its own fantaſtic Dictates, it will often endanger inſtead of ſtrengthening the Foundations of public Freedom.
The third Principle, that of natural Conſcience, which tends to confirm the Eſtabliſhment of Liberty, is founded in the Approbation of our own Heart. This Principle is in one Reſpect independent on the other two, but in another Reſpect ſeems to ſtand intimately related to them. It is independent of them, as it neither looks out for the Approbation of God, nor the Applauſe of Men: It ſeems intimately related to them, becauſe on a ſtrict Examination of the human Frame, as well as the Hiſtory of Mankind, it appears generally to be the Reſult of the one, or other, or both. We tranſplant the acknowledged Approbation of Heaven and the Applauſe of Men into our own Heart; [Page 33] and from this, through the fertile Power of Aſſociation, ſprings a new Principle of Self-Approbation and Self-Reproof, as an additional Regulator of our Thoughts and Actions.
'Tis true, many Writers have reſolved the particular Dictates of natural Conſcience into an unchangeable Principle of Right and Wrong, ariſing univerſally in the human Heart. There is no Doubt, but the general Principle of Self-Approbation or Self-Rebuke ariſeth in an univerſal Manner, in ſome Degree or other: But as it appears from the Hiſtory of human Nature, that the particular Dictates of this Conſcience vary with the other received Principles of the Mind, it is not neceſſary to debate or dwell on this ſpeculative Point: We may take it as a Truth confirmed by Facts, that the particular Dictates of natural Conſcience will generally be founded on thoſe of Religion and Honour.
[Page 34] Hence, then, it appears, that this Principle of Conſcience ſtands in Need of a Guide, in the ſame Degree as thoſe Principles on which it is founded. If it be founded on the Religion of a free State, it will generally coincide with the Principles of Freedom: If its Foundations are laid in the mere Principle of Honour, its Dictates will be fantaſtic as thoſe of its Parent; and will therefore require a parallel Regulation.
Each of theſe Principles, ſingly taken, is of Power, in ſome Degree or other, to ſtrengthen the Baſis of civil Liberty. On their united Influence, added to the Force of pre-eſtabliſhed Habits of Thought and Manners, public Freedom might ſeem to ariſe on immoveable and everlaſting Foundations.
But as the Nature of Man, even in his moſt virtuous State, is imperfect and inconſiſtent; ſo, in Spite of the moſt ſalutary Inſtitutions, ſome Defects will intrude. Hence, from an unavoidable Alloy of [Page 35] Vice, civil Liberty muſt ever be imperfect: A certain Degree of Licentiouſneſs (that is, of private Will, oppoſing the Public) will always mix itſelf, and in ſome Degree contaminate the Purity of every Commonwealth.
But in Proportion as theſe Manners and Principles decay, and their Contraries riſe into Power and Action, public Freedom muſt neceſſarily decline. For in that Caſe, the Paſſions and Powers of the human Mind are all ſet in Conſpiracy againſt the Dictates of public Law. Hence unbridled Paſſions will have their Courſe; every Man's Heart and Hand will be ſet againſt his Brethren; and the general Cement of Society, which bound all together, being thus diſſolved; even without any external Violence offered, the Commonwealth through its internal Corruption muſt fall in Pieces.
DOubtleſs, it will be objected (nay, it hath been objected) by the Patrons of unlimited Freedom of Thought, that This is indeed a Syſtem of Slavery; that it is building civil Liberty on the Servitude of the Mind, and ſhackling the infant Soul with early Prejudice.
In Anſwer to this plauſible Objection, the Writer replies (what he hath elſewhere advanced * ‘"That a Prejudice doth not imply, as is generally ſuppoſed, the Falſehood of the Opinion inſtilled, but only that it is taken up, and held, without its proper Evidence. Thus the infant Mind may be prejudiced in Favour of Truth as well as Falſehood; and neither can the one or the other, thus inſtilled, be properly called more than an Opinion." ’
[Page 37] Farther: The infant Mind cannot remain in a State of Indifference and Inaction, either with Regard to Habits of Conduct, or Principles and Opinions. Habits, Impreſſions, Beliefs, Principles, of one Kind or other, the growing Mind will inevitably contract, from its Communication with Mankind: If therefore rational Habits and Principles be not infuſed, in order to preclude Abſurdities; it is Odds, but Abſurdities will get the Start, and preclude all rational Habits and Opinions. The Paſſions and the Reaſon of a Child will put themſelves in Action, however wretched and inconſiſtent; in the ſame Manner, as his Limbs will make an Effort towards walking, however awkward and abſurd. The ſame Objection, therefore, that lies againſt inſtilling ſalutary Habits and Principles, will ariſe againſt teaching him to walk erect: This being indeed a Violation of the natural Freedom of the Body, as the other is of the natural Liberty of the Paſſions and [Page 38] the Mind. The Conſequences, too, are of the ſame Nature: For ſure, a Child left to the Direction of his own Appetites and Reaſon would ſtand the ſame Chance to grovel in Abſurdities, as to crawl on Hands and Knees, and wallow in the Mire.
Neither is there any Difference, with Reſpect to the real and internal Freedom of the Mind, between Opinions inſtilled, and Opinions caught by Accident. For in Truth, the Mind cannot be compelled to receive any Habit of Thought, Principle, or Opinion. Theſe may indeed be offered to the infant Mind, but the Reception of them is its own voluntary Act; and is equally ſo, whether they be preſented by fortuitous Incidents, or deſigned Inſtruction. All the Difference is, that in the firſt Caſe ſuch a Syſtem of Habits and Opinions will certainly ariſe, as tend to the Deſtruction of Society: In the ſecond, ſuch a Syſtem of Habits and Opinions may be infuſed into the free Mind, as [Page 39] will lay a ſure and laſting Foundation of public Liberty and Happineſs.
Nay, if any Difference could ariſe, with Reſpect to the true Freedom of the Mind; ſurely, That Mind ought, in the Eye of Reaſon, to be adjudged moſt free, which adopts a Syſtem of Thought and Action, founded on the Wiſdom of the agreeing Society; rather than That which is ſuffered to be incurably tainted with the vague and random Conceptions of untutor'd Infancy.—This, at le [...]ſt, is conſonant with the old Stoic Principle, that ‘"The wiſe Man alone is free. *"’
Much hath been ſaid in our Times, indeed, concerning the Force of unaſſiſted human Reaſon: The Writer would not willingly either flatter or degrade its Powers. But to Him it appears, that they are ſuperficially informed of the Frame and Tenor of the human Mind, who think that mere Reaſon (as it exiſts in Man) is more than a Power of diſcerning [Page 40] and chuſing the propereſt Means for obtaining his deſired Ends, whether theſe Ends be Good or Evil. The Paſſions, pre-eſtabliſhed Habits, and infuſed Principles of the Soul are the univerſal Motives to human Action. Where theſe point not to an End deſired, Reaſon may indolently exerciſe its Eye; but can never find nor create an Object, of Force ſufficient to put the Powers of the Soul and Body in Motion. Hence, human Reaſon muſt always receive its particular Caſt and Colour from the pre-eſtabliſhed Paſſions, Habits, and Principles; will ever form its ruling Ideas of Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, Juſt and Unjuſt, from theſe great Fountains of human Action.
The Hiſtory of human Nature confirms this Truth: Hence it is, that this boaſted human Reaſon is indeed ſo poor and unprofitable a Poſſeſſion; being warped and moulded into that particular Form, which the varying Accidents of Climate, Soil, eſtabliſhed Manners, Religion, [Page 41] Policy, bodily Frame, or prevailing Paſſions and Principles, chance to give it.
Hence, then, it appears, that the private Freedom of the infant Mind is not violated but only directed to its beſt End, by early and ſalutary Inſtruction. Hence it appears to be the proper Deſtination of Man, that he ſhall not be left to the Follies of his own weak Underſtanding and naſcent Paſſions; that he ſhall not be left fortuitouſly to imbibe the Maxims of corrupt Times and Manners; Maxims which, ſetting aſide all Regard to their ſpeculative Truth or Falſehood, do lead to the Diſſolution of Law and Freedom: But that he ſhall be conducted voluntarily to adopt thoſe Habits and Principles, which have been conſecrated by the Approbation of the beſt and wiſeſt Men, in every Age and Nation; ſuch, in particular, as are ſuitable to the Laws, the Cuſtoms, the Genius, of his own free Country; ſuch, in a Word, as are a ſecure Foundation of public Liberty.
7. SECT. VII. A Confirmation of theſe Principles, drawn from the Hiſtory of free States.
1ſt. Of Sparta.
THESE Reaſonings, founded on the Nature and Conſtitution of Man, will receive a ſtrong and unanſwerable Confirmation from the Hiſtory of free States. Hence we ſhall obtain the cleareſt Evidences of Fact, that while virtuous Manners and Principles retained their Efficacy and Power, civil Liberty remained unſhaken: That as theſe decayed, Liberty declined: That as ſoon as theſe were loſt, Liberty was no more; Licentiouſneſs crept in; Faction triumphed; and overwhelmed theſe degenerate States in one common Ruin.
To this Purpoſe I ſhall briefly analyze the Genius of the three moſt eminent [Page 43] Republics that are recorded in Story: Thoſe of SPARTA, ATHENS, and ROME. The Events are ſufficiently known to thoſe who are converſant in ancient Hiſtory: But the fundamental and leading Cauſes of theſe Events deſerve a particular Inveſtigation: They will form a concurrent Proof of the Principles here given.
The Republic of SPARTA claims the firſt Place; both on Account of its Antiquity, and Perfection. By its Perfection is meant, not the moral Perfection of its particular Inſtitutions, but of the Means and Principles by which Theſe Inſtitutions were ſecured.
1. He eſtabliſhed a Senate of twenty-eight, as an intermediate Power between that of Prince and People... 2. He made an equal Partition of Lands and Goods, among the free Members of the Community... 3. He introduced the Uſe of Iron Money, inſtead of Gold and Silver... 4. He baniſhed or [Page 44] prevented all the Arts of Commerce, Elegance, and Luxury... 5. He ordained, that all the Members of the Society ſhould eat together, and partake alike of the ſame coarſe Fare... 6. He eſtabliſhed an occaſional Community of Wives: So that a Wife was not ſo much the Property of her Huſband, as of the Republic, to the End of Population... 7. With a parallel View, he ordained a Kind of Community of Children: By This, no Father had the Care of his own Child; which, on its Birth, was immediately delivered over to the Officers of the State; and was either preſerved or deſtroyed according to their Decree... 8. A continued Attention to the Preſervation of the State, and an unremitted Preparation and Readineſs for defenſive War, formed the chief Employment of the Spartan State... 9. He committed the Cultivation of their Lands to a large Body of Slaves, who dwelt in the ſurrounding Country, were deprived of all the natural Rights [Page 45] of Men, and were often laid in Wait for, and butchered in cold Blood by the young Men of SPARTA. *
Theſe were the public and eſſential Inſtitutions of the Spartan Republic: Many of them ſtrange in their Nature: Yet formed for long Duration, through the Means and Principles on which they were eſtabliſhed: Which we ſhall find to be conſiſtent with, and corroborative of the Principles of civil Liberty above laid down.
The firſt and beſt Security of civil Liberty, hath been ſhewn to conſiſt ‘"in impreſſing the infant Mind with ſuch Habits of Thought and Action, as may correſpond with and promote the Appointments of public Law."’—This Security was laid by LYCURGUS, in the [Page 46] deepeſt and moſt effectual Manner, by the Mode of Education which he preſcribed to the Spartan Youth.
No Father had a Right to educate his Children according to the Caprice of his own Fancy. They were delivered to public Officers, who initiated them early in the Manners, the Maxims, the Exerciſes, the Toils, in a Word, in all the mental and bodily Acquirements and Habits, which correſponded with the Genius of the State. Family Connexions had no Place: The firſt and leading Object of their Affection, was the general Welfare. This Tuition was carefully continued, till they were enrolled in the Liſt of Men: To ſecure the Manners thus acquired, they were prohibited from travelling into other Countries, leſt they ſhould catch Infection from ill Example: On the ſame Foundation, all Viſits from Strangers were forbidden. * Thus were they ſtrongly and [Page 47] unalterably poſſeſſed with the Love of their Country.
The Principle of Religion laid at the very Foundation of the State: For LYCURGUS expreſsly modeled his Commonwealth on the Pretence of a divine Authority. He declared to the People, that its eſſential Inſtitutions were given him by the Oracle of DELPHI, which he went on Purpoſe to conſult. * Again, after he had modeled his Republic, he repaired once more to the ſacred Tripod; and enquired, ‘"whether the God approved of the Laws he had eſtabliſhed."’ The Anſwer was in the Affirmative: And this Reply LYCURGUS ſent to SPARTA. †
This Principle was ſo intimately blended with that of the State, that their Kings were at the ſame Time the High Prieſts of the Community. ‡—The Religion [Page 48] and Power of an Oath was ſo ſtrongly impreſſed on their Minds, that LYCURGUS truſted the future Execution of his Laws, to That Oath which the People took, on his laſt Departure from the City: *—An Oath, which proves, that the Religion of the Country was not at Variance with the Appointments of the State; becauſe it obliged them never to depart from the Inſtitutions of LYCURGUS.
The Principle of Honour was not at Variance, but co-operated with and ſuſtained That of Religion. PLUTARCH is very particular, on their early and continued Encouragement of this Principle. Their Songs (which made a Part of their Education) tended to inflame their Minds with honeſt Ambition. ‘"Their Subject was generally the Praiſe of ſuch Men as had dy'd in Defence of their Country; or in Deriſion of Thoſe who had ſhrunk from the public Service. The old Men talked high of what they had [Page 49] done: The younger Part echo'd back their Song; declaring their Reſolution, not to diſgrace the Valour of their Forefathers. *"’
The Principle of natural Conſcience was ſo intimately interwoven with thoſe of their Religion and Honour, that it affords a ſtriking Proof how far natural Conſcience depends on theſe other Principles. If natural Conſcience were in itſelf a well-regulated and ſufficient Guide; could any Thing have been more odious to its Dictates, than Proſtitution, Adultery, Thieving, and Aſſaſſination? Yet all theſe did the ſevere Spartans practiſe, not only without Remorſe, but with Self-Approbation; the infant Mind being before-hand modeled to this prepoſterous Syſtem of imagined Duty. For, on the very ruling Principles of the State, their Daughters were debauched, their Wives were common, their Victuals were ſtolen, their Slaves were murdered. †
[Page 50] Thus was the famed Republic of Sparta ſtrongly fortify'd, by the united and concurrent Power of Manners and Principles, all pointing to the ſame End, the Strength and Duration of the State: Of Manners and Principles, which in their particular Application, ſeemed to ſacrifice the Happineſs of Individuals to the Preſervation of the Whole: And while they were moſt abhorrent from the Maxims of improved human Nature, ſecured the Inſtitutions of a ſavage Policy.
1. It hath been Matter of Surprize to thoſe who have written on this famed Republic, ‘"by what Means LYCURGUS ſhould be able to perſwade the Spartans, not only to change the Form of their Government, but to quit their private Poſſeſſions, their Manner of Life, the Uſe of Money, the Advantages of Commerce, the Property of their Wives, [Page 51] the Care of their Children; and adopt a contrary Syſtem, ſo abhorrent from the Deſires of civilized Man."’ And indeed, ſuppoſing the Fact, it ſhould ſeem a Paradox utterly unaccountable.—The true Solution ſeems of a quite different Nature.—PLUTARCH leads me to it.—‘"There is ſo much Uncertainty (ſaith he) in the Accounts which Hiſtorians have left us of LYCURGUS, that ſcarce any Thing is aſſerted by one, which is not contradicted by others. Their Sentiments are quite different as to the Family he came of, the Voyages he undertook, the Place and Manner of his Death: But moſt of all, when they ſpeak of the Laws he made, and the Commonwealth he founded.—They cannot be brought to agree, as to the very Age when he lived.—TIMAEUS conjectures, that there were two of his Name, and in different Times; but that the one being more famous than the other, Men gave to Him the Glory of both their Exploits. [Page 52] *"’—Hence it appears, that the true Hiſtory of this Lawgiver was loſt in the Darkneſs of fabulous and obſcure Ages: And that, as to the Beginnings of this Commonwealth, we have nothing to depend on, but the traditionary Rumours of a barbarous and lying Period. Now this ſeems to be fairly weighed down by the internal Evidence ariſing from the Nature of the Eſtabliſhment itſelf. For it was indeed ‘"the Eſtabliſhment of barbarous Manners, carried into Permanency by political Inſtitutions."’ That Mankind ſhould be carry'd back to This, from a State of Humanity and Civilization;—that they ſhould quit private Property, Money, Commerce, Decency, domeſtic Comforts, Wives and Children, and give them up to the Poſſeſſion of the Public, is a Contradiction to all the known Powers and Paſſions of the human Mind. To effect a Change of Government only, is a Work ſufficient for the Abilities of [Page 53] the greateſt Legiſlator: But to overturn all the pre-eſtabliſhed Habits of the Head and Heart, to deſtroy or reverſe all the fixed Aſſociations, Maxims, Manners, and Principles, of a whole civilized Community; were a Labour, which might well be ranked among the moſt extravagant Legends of fabulous GREECE.
On the other Hand, to bring forward a Tribe of untaught Savages one Degree towards Civilization, and there to fix them;—to aſſign equal Portions of Land to thoſe among whom Lands laid in Common;—to introduce Iron Money, where no Money had been in Uſe;—to prohibit Commerce, where Commerce was almoſt unknown;—to make the Girls dance naked in Public, where they had never known the decent Uſe of Cloaths;—to allow of Theft and Homicide under certain Limitations, where Both had been practiſed without Limitation;—to make Wives at Times a public Property, where promiſcuous Concubinage had prevailed; [Page 54] to give Children a public Education, where no Education had taken Place;—Theſe might all ſeem the natural and practicable Efforts of a Pagan Legiſlator.
Thus, the Formation of the Spartan Republic ſeems clearly accounted for. A Tribe of untaught Savages, were brought forward by LYCURGUS one Degree towards Civilization and Humanity, and There fixed by ſevere Inſtitutions.
The Fate of AGIS, their patriot King, confirms this Solution. He, with a Degree of public Virtue ſeldom ſeen in any Station, attempted to bring back the corrupt State to its firſt rigorous Inſtitutions. But That which LYCURGUS could eſtabliſh among untaught Savages, AGIS found impracticable, among a corrupted People. He was ſeized, impriſoned, and murdered by a Faction, in his Attempt to reſtore Freedom to a degenerate Republic.
2. If the Argument here alledged be juſt, concerning the firſt Inſtitution of this [Page 55] Republic; it follows (what, indeed, ſeems probable in its own Nature) that the ſtrongeſt political Inſtitutions may be formed on the ſavage State of Man. In this Period the Legiſlator hath few or no prior Inſtitutions to contend with; and therefore can form a Syſtem of Legiſlation conſiſtent with itſelf in all its Parts. While the Lawgiver who reforms a State already modeled and corrupted, muſt content himſelf with ſuch partial Regulations, as the Force of prior Eſtabliſhments and public Habits will admit.
3. The long united State of this Republic afford a Proof againſt a political Maxim commonly received, ‘"That Diviſions are neceſſary to a free State; and that inward Tranquillity is a certain Symptom of its approaching Ruin."’ For, from the Hiſtory of SPARTA, it appears, that during the Space of at leaſt five hundred Years, inteſtine Diviſions were unknown. This common and miſtaken Maxim (adopted by almoſt all political [Page 56] Writers *) hath been founded on a Suppoſition, that where Opinion is free, it muſt ever be divided. The Spartan Commonwealth preſents a clear Proof of the Reverſe: That Opinion may be free, yet ſtill united. But this free Union can only be the happy Effect of an early and rigorous Education; by which the growing Minds of the Community are voluntarily led, by public Inſtitutions, into one common Channel of Habit, Principle, and Action. . . PLUTARCH tells us, that the Effect of this entire Union was ſo conſpicuous in SPARTA, that ‘"the Commonwealth reſembled one great and powerful Perſon, actuated by one Soul, rather than a State compoſed of many Individuals. †"’
4. It appears, that the Inſtitutions of the Spartan Republic were admirably calculated for each other's Support, while [Page 57] their perfect Union was maintained: And further, that when an Inroad was made into any one of them, the Ruin of the Whole was inevitable.
‘"Its Inſtitutions were admirably calculated for each other's Support, while their perfect Union was maintained."’ Becauſe they tended ſtrongly to prevent the firſt Inroads of Temptation to the Mind, the very firſt Impulſes of ſelfiſh Paſſion. The equal Partition of Lands and Goods took away all Hope of Superiority in Wealth: The Introduction of Iron Money rendered Wealth cumberſome and untractable: The Prohibition of Commerce prevented the Materials of Luxury: The Baniſhment of elegant Arts prevented the firſt Conception of them. Their public Meals eaten in common, cut off the Hope, nay, prevented the Deſire of all private Indulgence of the Palate, the Diſorders of Intemperance. To ſecure theſe rigid Inſtitutions, the public Education of their Children was ordained, leſt private Paſſion [Page 58] ſhould mix its Alloy, with the rigorous Appointments of the State. Thus the Republic was ſo round and compact in all its Parts, that it might ſeem to defy the Attacks of the moſt powerful Enemy.
‘"But ſuppoſing an Inroad made into any one of its capital Inſtitutions, the Ruin of the Whole was inevitable."’ For its ſeveral Parts receiving their Strength from each other, were therefore mutually dependent; and the Whole being an auſtere Contradiction to the natural Appetites of Man, the leaſt Inroad of Indulgence naturally led on to more forcible Temptations. Thus, Inequality of Poſſeſſions brought in Wealth and Poverty. Wealth brought in Luxury: Poverty gave Birth to Envy and Avarice. Licentiouſneſs and Faction thus crept in; and the Fall of SPARTA was inevitable.
Yet even amidſt the Decays of this Republic, the Force of a rigorous Education eſſentially mixed with the Principles of [Page 59] the State, was ſtill conſpicuous. The Power of Manners and Maxims thus imbibed was ſo untractable, even in the declining Periods of the Spartan Commonwealth, that PHILOPAEMEN, after many fruitleſs Attempts to annihilate its Influence, declared, ‘"that the only effectual Method of deſtroying SPARTA, muſt be in diſſolving the Education of their Youth. *"’
This Analyſis is clearly confirmed by PLUTARCH in the following Paſſages. ‘"Since we may blame the Legiſlators of common Rank, who, through Want of Power or Wiſdom, commit Miſtakes in the Formation of fundamental Laws; how much more may we cenſure the Conduct of NUMA, who for the Reputation of his Wiſdom only, being called by the general Voice of an unſettled People to be their King, did not in firſt Place conſtitute Laws for the Education of Children, and Diſcipline of [Page 60] Youth? For Want of which, Men become ſeditious and turbulent, and live not peaceable in their Families and Tribes: But when they are inured from their Cradle to good Principles, and imbibe from their Infancy the Rules of Morality, they receive ſuch Impreſſions of Virtue, as convinces them of that Advantage which mutual Concord brings to a Commonwealth. This, with many others, was one of the Policies of LYCURGUS: And was of ſingular Force in the Confirmation and Eſtabliſhment of his Laws:"’— ‘"Hence the Spartans having ſucked in theſe Principles with their Milk, were poſſeſſed with a moſt reverend Eſteem of all his Inſtitutions: So that the Fundamentals of his Laws continued in Force for above five hundred Years, without any Violation. *"’
Such then was the Force of concurrent Manners and Principles, all centering on one Point, impreſſed on the infant Mind, [Page 61] and continued by a Variety of rigorous Inſtitutions.—Thus, the Strength of the Spartan Republic, like the firm-compacted Weight of the Macedonian Phalanx, bore down every oppoſing Power.
WE have ſeen the Force of Manners Principles in the ſtrong Formation, the Unanimity, and Continuance of the Spartan State. We ſhall now ſee the Effects of the Want of Manners and Principles, in the weak Eſtabliſhment, the unceaſing Factions, and early Diſſolution of the Commonwealth of ATHENS.
It appears above, that LYCURGUS, probably forming his People in the firſt and earlieſt Period of Civilization, was thus enabled to eſtabliſh a perfect Republic. SOLON, on the contrary, having a corrupted [Page 62] People to reform, could only inſtitute ſuch a Kind of Government, as their pre-eſtabliſhed Habits, Vices, and Forms of Polity could admit.
Here we diſcover the Foundation of that ſtriking Remark of SOLON himſelf. ‘"That he gave not the Athenians the beſt Laws that could be given, but the beſt they were capable of receiving. *"’
The firſt and ruling Defect in the Inſtitution of this Republic ſeems to have been ‘"the total Want of an eſtabliſhed Education, ſuited to the Genius of the State."’ There appears not to have been any public, regular, or preſcribed Appointment of this Kind, beyond what Cuſtom had accidentally introduced. 'Tis true, that the Parents often had Maſters to inſtruct their Children in the gymnaſtic Arts, and in Muſic. Which laſt, in the ancient Acceptation of the Word, included Poem as well as Melody: 'Tis farther true, that the Poems thus taught [Page 63] their Children, included often the great Actions, but withal, the Vices of Gods and ancient Heroes. * Yet in this firſt and ruling Circumſtance, in the Inſtitution of a free State, the Parents were much at Liberty, to do as ſeemed good to them. Hence, a diſſimilar and diſcordant Syſtem of Manners and Principles took Place; while ſome youthful Minds were imbibed with proper and virtuous Principles, ſome with no Principles, and ſome with vicious Principles; with ſuch as muſt, therefore, on the Whole, tend to ſhake the Foundations of true Freedom.
The ſecond ruling Defect in the Conſtitution of this Republic, was the Eſtabliſhment of an unmixed and abſolute Democracy. This naturally aroſe from the licentious State of Manners and Prinples, which SOLON found already prevalent among the People. A virtuous People would have been content to have [Page 64] ſhared the legiſlative Power with the higher Ranks of the Commonwealth. But a licentious People naturally graſped the Whole, as the liklieſt Means (in their deluded Eye) of gratifying their own unbridled Paſſions. From this partial Diſtribution of Power, the State was blindly ruled by the Dregs of the Community. For All who were of Ability to maintain a Horſe, were admitted to the Rank of Magiſtracy: * And all who were admitted to the Rank of Magiſtracy were excluded from any Share in the legiſlative Power. † Hence it followed, that ‘"All they who poſſeſſed the Legiſlative Power, were ſuch as were not of Ability to maintain a Horſe." ’—‘"Do not you deſpiſe (ſaid SOCRATES to his Pupil ALCIBIADES, who was afraid to ſpeak in Preſence of the Athenian People) do not you deſpiſe That Cobler? I do, reply'd the Youth. Do not you (rejoyned the Philoſpher) equally contemn that Cryer, and yon [Page 65] Tent-Maker? ALCIBIADES confeſſing that he did; then ſaid SOCRATES, "Is not the Body of the Athenian People compoſed of Men like theſe? And therefore, when you deſpiſe the Individuals, why ſhould you fear the Whole? *"’—A hopeful Tribe of Legiſlators! and ſuch as might naturally be ſuppoſed to give Riſe to that Licentiouſneſs, Diſcord, and Ruin, in which they were ſoon ſwallowed up.
From this weak and imperfect Eſtabliſhment, founded on the Caprices of an ignorant, unprincipled, and licentious Populace, all the ſubſequent Factions, which ended in the Ruin of this Republic, are clearly derived.
Even SOLON, the original Legiſlator, outlived the Commonwealth he had formed. On his Departure from ATHENS, Factions immediately aroſe. PISISTRATUS, the firſt ruling Demagogue, led the People; obtained a Guard; ſeized the Caſtle; and eſtabliſhed a Tyranny. †
[Page 66] We need go no farther into the Hiſtory of this Republic, for a Diſcovery of the Cauſes of its final Ruin. It is true, that an imperfect Semblance of Liberty often appeared, amidſt the Factions of ſucceeding Times: It is true, that Wealth and Luxury contributed to haſten the Fall of ATHENS: It is true, that PERICLES and ALCIBIADES, in their Turn, while they ſeemed to poliſh the Manners, inflamed the Vices of the Populace; and led them on to the certain Deſtruction of the State. But for the Ruin of this Commonwealth, we need not have Recourſe to the Inroads of Wealth or Luxury, as the Cauſes of its Diſſolution. It reſembled a beautiful Edifice founded in Sand and Rubbiſh: Where an uneducated, an unprincipled, a licentious Populace, ruled the State; That State was deſtined to the convulſive Struggles of Faction while it lived, and then to a ſpeedy Death.
LET us now paſs to a Review of the Commonwealth of ROME: In the Hiſtory and Fate of which, we ſhall find moſt abundant Proof of the Truths here laid down, concerning the Power of Manners and Principles, in the Preſervation or the Diſſolution of public Freedom.
MONTESQUIEU remarks finely, in his Diſcourſe on this Republic, that ‘"more States have periſhed, thro' a Violation of Manners, than thro' a Violation of Laws *"’ The Reaſon (though he does not aſſign it) appears evident on the Principles here given. He who violates eſtabliſhed Manners, ſtrikes at the general Foundation; he who violates Law, ſtrikes only at a particular Part of the Superſtructure of the State.
[Page 68] In the Republic of SPARTA, we have ſeen the original State of Manners and Principles conſpiring ſtrongly to the Preſervation of the Republic: In that of ATHENS, we have ſeen the original State of Manners and Principles tending no leſs clearly to its Diſſolution.
In analyſing the original State of Manners and Principles in the Roman Commonwealth, we ſhall find a different and intermediate State of Things; mixing the Strength of the Spartan, with the Weakneſs of the Athenian Inſtitutions; tending firſt to enlarge and aggrandize the Republic, and in the End to corrupt and deſtroy it.
The Manners and Principles of early ROME, which tended to enlarge and aggrandize the Republic, were 1. A Love of their Country inſtilled into their riſing Youth: Formed chiefly on the Power of Cuſtom; and more particularly on the warlike Genius of the State. Their Annals abound with ſo many Inſtances of this grand Paſſion, that preſent Times ſtand amazed, and with Difficulty credit their Story.
[Page 69] 2. This Paſſion, founded on an early, though not a preſcribed Education, was ſo ſtrengthened by their religious Syſtem, that till the fatal Entrance of the Doctrine of EPICURUS, no Roman was ever known to have violated his Oath. *
3. Their Principle of Honour coincided with that of their Religion. It was ſo ſtrong, at the Time of the firſt Formation of the Republic, that the Puniſhment of Diſgrace was judged ſufficient to deter the People from a Violation of the Laws. ‘"When a Delinquent was cited before the People (ſaith LIVY) the Valerian Law ordained only, that he ſhould be branded as infamous. †"’
4. From the Truths laid down above, it appears, that the Principle of natural Conſcience muſt of Courſe co-operate with theſe, for the Confirmation of civil Freedom. The Force of this Principle is no leſs conſpicuous in the early Periods of [Page 70] Roman Liberty: It aroſe even into a ferocious Pride of Virtue, independent of all outward Teſtimony, which hath diſtinguiſhed the great Names of ancient ROME, from Thoſe of every other People upon Earth.
5. To theſe we muſt add the Equality of Property, the Mediocrity of Poſſeſſion, the Simplicity of Life, which prevailed in early ROME; all theſe were the Outworks that guarded the internal Strength of Manners and Principles; and ſeemed, like the Inſtitutions of SPARTA, to promiſe an Eternity of Freedom.
But in Spite of all theſe Foundations of civil Liberty, there were three fatal Circumſtances, admitted into the very Eſſence of the Republic, which contained the Seeds of certain Ruin: While the Tree ſeemed to flouriſh in its full Growth and Vigour, Theſe, like Canker-Worms, lay eating at the Root.
The firſt of theſe was the Neglect of inſtituting public Laws, by which the [Page 71] Education of their Children might have been aſcertained. This is juſtly charged by PLUTARCH, as a capital Defect in NUMA's Legiſlation: * This Defect, when once admitted into the Eſſence of the State, could not eaſily be rectify'd in ſucceeding Times: The Principle could only have been effectually infuſed, at the general Formation of the whole Maſs. In Conſequence of this Error in the firſt Concoction, the ſupporting Principles of Freedom were vague and fluctuating: For Want of this preventing Power, the incidental Vices of a Parent were naturally tranſmitted to his Children, and thence to future Ages. The rigorous Education of SPARTA was a ſtrong Check to the Proneneſs of human Nature towards Degeneracy and Corruption: Through This, every incidental Vice dy'd with its firſt Poſſeſſor: While the more lax Inſtitution of the Roman Republic, ſuffered every original Taint in Manners [Page 72] and Principles to be transfuſed into, and to contaminate ſucceeding Times.
The ſecond of theſe was ‘"Their Principle of unlimited Conqueſt." ’ Their early Paſſion for War aroſe from their Neceſſities. On their firſt Eſtabliſhment, they had neither Territory nor Commerce: They lived by Plunder: Hence, the ruling Genius of the State was warlike: Their warlike Genius was unchecked by any other Principle: Hence, unremitted Exerciſes, unceaſing Improvements in Diſcipline, increaſing Valour and Ferocity aroſe. Thus they attempted to ſubdue, and thus they ſubdued the World.
But ſuch an Empire is utterly untenable: Valour may acquire, but cannot maintain it. The Body of ſuch a State is too enormous to be effectually animated by the Soul. This is a Cauſe of Ruin ſo clear, that it hath met every Writer's Obſervation; and therefore needs no farther Proof.
[Page 73] The third Principle of inevitable Deſtruction, which ſeems to have been inwrought into the very Eſſence of the Roman Republic, was the fatal Principle of Change: This is a Cauſe not ſo obvious; and therefore may require a farther Inveſtigation.
MONTESQUIEU hath juſtly obſerved, that one Cauſe of the Roman Greatneſs was ‘"their adopting any Inſtitution or Cuſtom of other Nations whom they conquer'd, provided it was better than their own. *"’ It ſeems to have eſcaped the Obſervation of this great Writer, that the ſame Principle of Adoption, carried through every Period of the Republic, led the Way to its final Ruin.
For altho' in the early Periods, when Manners were ſimple, and concurrent Principles were ſtrong, this Spirit of Adoption was confined to Cuſtoms that were better than their own; yet in the ſucceeding Periods, [Page 74] when Manners grew more relaxed, and Principles were weakened, the ſame Spirit of Adoption opened a Door for the Admiſſion of Cuſtoms that were pernicious.
The ſagacious Romans ſoon found the Conſequences of this Defect: They ſaw, that through a Want of original, preventive, and ſalutary Inſtitutions, bad Manners were creeping inſenſibly on the State. Hence the Creation of the Cenſors had its Riſe: An Office, which immediately took Cognizance of the Manners of the Citizens.
But this high Office was ineffectual in its End; becauſe it had not Power univerſally to prevent, but only in Part to remedy the Evil. Hence, while particular and detected Offences only, could be puniſhed by the Cenſor, the Hearts and Manners of the People were laid open to a general Corruption, [Page 75] from the fatal Principle of Novelty and Adoption.
The Danger ariſing from this Principle manifeſtly increaſed with the increaſing Empire: That Identity and Integrity of Manners and Principles, which is the Soul and Security of every free State, gave Way to Manners and Principles wholly diſſimilar. New Maxims of Life, new Principles of Religion and Irreligion, of Honour and Diſhonour, of Right and Wrong, picked up indiſcriminately among the Nations which they conquered, by Degrees infuſed themſelves into the Heads and Hearts of the Roman Citizens.
Here, then, we ſee the original Foundation of all the Miſery and Ruin which enſued. On the Conqueſt of the luxurious, immoral, and unprincipled Tribes of GREECE, the Romans, having no preventive Remedy in the Eſſence of their State, of Courſe adopted the Luxury, the Immoralities, the Irreligion, of the conquered People.
[Page 76] ‘"It ſeems to me (ſays the excellent MONTESQUIEU) that the Epicurean Sect, which made its Way into ROME towards the Cloſe of the Republic, contributed much to corrupt the Hearts of the Romans. The Greeks had been infatuated with it before them; accordingly, they were ſooner corrupt. POLYBIUS tells us, that in His Time, no Greek could be truſted, on the Security of his Oath; whereas, a Roman was inevitably bound by it. *"’—He adds, ‘"CYNEAS having diſcourſed on the Epicurean Syſtem at the Table of PYRRHUS, FABRICIUS wiſhed that all the Enemies of ROME might hold the Principles of ſuch a Sect. †"’
Thus, as in the early Periods of the Commonwealth, they had adopted the Virtues, in the later Times they aſſumed the Vices of the conquered Nations. Thus, by unperceived Gradations, the ſame Principle, ‘ [Page 77] "The Admiſſion of Change, firſt led to the Greatneſs, and then to the Ruin of the Republic."’
All the particular Conſequences that followed, were occaſional and inevitable. The Rapacity, the Factions, the civil Wars; the enormous Profligacy of Individuals, the horrible Calamities of the State;—All theſe are finely purſued by MONTESQUIEU; and were no more than the natural and incidental Effects of this general Cauſe, ‘"The Loſs of Manners and Principles."’
THOUGH the Study of Hiſtory be often inſtructive and uſeful, yet, in one Reſpect, it becomes the Source of frequent Error, even when it is written with Impartiality and Truth. This ariſeth from a miſtaken Application of hiſtorical Facts. Errors of this Kind are apt to creep into all Reaſonings, on every Subject, where Men and Manners are concerned: But they are liable to infect political Reaſonings, above all others.
As the political Intereſts of Men form the principal Subject of Hiſtory, the Reaſoner on this Subject hath Recourſe to Facts, as the beſt Support of his Argument. Yet, the Politician ſeems, of all others, moſt liable to be miſtaken in the Application of Hiſtory to his own [Page 79] Purpoſe; becauſe the political Connexions and Intereſts of Men are, above all others, complicated and various.
Hence, as no two political Conſtitutions were ever the ſame in all their Circumſtances, though ſimilar in many; ſo, all Arguments drawn from a partial Reſemblance, muſt be inadequate and inconcluſive; unleſs when it appears, that no other Circumſtances took Place, by which That partial Reſemblance might be counteracted, and its Effects deſtroyed.
Yet, it hath been a Practice too common among political Reaſoners, from a partial Reſemblance between two States, to infer a total one; and becauſe they have been like in ſome Reſpects, to draw Concluſions, as if they had been like in all.
Much Caution, therefore, is neceſſary, in the Application of hiſtorical Facts: Without This, we ſhall run into perpetual Error. Let us, then, remark ſome of the moſt eſſential Circumſtances, in which the Conſtitution of the Britiſh State [Page 80] differs from thoſe of SPARTA, ATHENS, and ROME; and then draw ſuch Concluſions, as may be conſiſtent with theſe Diſtinctions.
1. We may lay it down as a fundamental Truth generally acknowledged, that the political Conſtitution of GREAT BRITAIN, in its main Outline, is better modeled than thoſe of SPARTA, ATHENS, or ROME. The legiſlative and executive Powers are more equally balanced, and more clearly diſtinguiſhed. Now, if Laws could ſupport themſelves, it would follow, that this political State muſt therefore be of longer Duration. But as it hath been made appear, that the Duration of free States depends not ſo much on their mere Form, as on the Manners and Principles which ſupport them; ſo, nothing can be decided concerning the Duration of the Britiſh State, from its mere external Model.
2. The Chriſtian Religion, eſtabliſhed in BRITAIN, is, in its own Nature, far [Page 81] ſuperior to that of theſe ancient Commonwealths. The abſolute Perfection and glorious Attributes of the Deity; the great Principle of univerſal Charity; the particular Duties of Man to Man, thence reſulting; the Sanctions of future Reward and Puniſhment; all theſe tend to purify and exalt the Soul, far beyond the Rites of ancient Paganiſm: For This, even in its beſt Forms, was ever built on the Hiſtory and Examples of deify'd Men, whoſe Lives had often been blotted with the moſt flagrant Crimes; and therefore, could never exalt the Heart of Man, beyond this weak Principle of Elevation.—But as the Power of a Religion depends, not only on its excellent Genius, but on its being effectually impreſſed on the Mind; ſo, no Conſequence can be juſtly drawn, from the mere un-apply'd Excellence of its Nature.
3. That Self-Conſiſtence, and perfect Unity of Parts which diſtinguiſhed the Republic of SPARTA, cannot be expected nor [Page 82] found in that of BRITAIN. For the firſt was the entire Work of a ſingle Legiſlator, ſtruck out at one Heat; all its Inſtitutions conſpiring to one End, and centering (like the Radii of a Circle) in one ſingle Point: To This, the outward Form of Government, the internal State of Education, of Religion, Manners and Principles, were uniformly ſubordinate. But at the Time of the Revolution, which was the firſt Aera of BRITAIN'S Freedom, many prior Inſtitutions and Eſtabliſhments, both in Religion and Policy, Manners and Principles, had taken Place: Theſe had been formed on the fortuitous Events of Time; and had reſulted from a Variety of contending Parties; of Power, fluctuating at different Periods, between the Kings, the Nobles, the Prieſthood, and the People. All theſe it was impoſſible for human Art to remove and new-model, without ſhaking the State to its Foundations: Hence, though the Form of the Britiſh Conſtitution, civil and religious, be of [Page 83] unrivaled Excellence; yet in its very Birth it came attended with unalterable Weakneſs.—It wanted that general Self-Conſiſtence, that entire Unity of Parts, as well as of eſtabliſhed Habits, Manners and Principles, ſuited to the Genius of the State, which was the very Spirit and Support of the Spartan Commonwealth. In this Circumſtance, it appears likewiſe inferior to the Roman Commonwealth; yet, perhaps, ſuperior to that of Athens.
4. The Britiſh Syſtem of Polity and Religion, perfect in its leading Parts, but imperfectly united and ſupported, is not upheld in its native Power (like that of SPARTA) by correſpondent and effectual Rules of Education. The Fundamental Laws of our Country, the Principles and Duties of Chriſtianity, are indeed occaſionally explained and taught, in a certain Manner and Degree: But it is in the Power of every Private Man to educate his Child, not only without a Reverence for Theſe, but in an abſolute Contempt [Page 84] of them. It is much in every Parent's Option, whether he will impreſs his Childrens Hearts with ſuch Habits and Principles as accord to the Genius of the State, or with Impunity ſuffer them to contract ſuch Manners and Opinions as tend to its Diſſolution. A Circumſtance pregnant with Danger to this free State: For hence, Manners and Principles, its chief Support, are liable to be incurably perverted in the Heart, at that Time of Life, in which alone they can be effectually impreſſed.
5. In the important Circumſtance of ‘"the Admiſſion of Change," ’ or the ‘"Principle of Adoption," ’ the Britiſh Conſtitution is contrary to That of SPARTA; and nearly on a Level with Thoſe of ATHENS and ROME.—Foreign Commerce, foreign Travel, new Manners, new Principles, new Modes of Dreſs, of Amuſement, of Luxury, are here adopted with a Degree of Avidity almoſt unbounded.—Happy would the Writer eſteem his [Page 85] Labours; if this Principle, which in ſome Reſpects hath tended ſo much to the Improvement of his Country, could in any Degree be checked by his weak Admonitions, from degenerating into a Cauſe of its Deſtruction.
In Point of Knowledge and Ability, the Difference was great between the Nobles and the People, in theſe ancient States: In BRITAIN, the Nobles and the People (in their legiſlative Capacity) are fairly on a Level. When ALCIBIADES addreſſed the legiſlative Body of the Athenian People, he addreſſed Coblers, Braſiers, Tanners, Tent-Makers. When the People of ROME retired in Diſcontent to the ſacred Mountain, they were appeaſed by the Fable of the Belly, Head, and Hands. A Lord of Parliament would make but a ſorry Figure, [Page 86] who ſhould come armed with ſuch an Apologue, for the Conviction of a Britiſh Houſe of Commons.
Again: In each of theſe ancient Republics, the collective Body of the People were much of one uniform Character; being Inhabitants of the ſame City, and nearly on a Level with Reſpect to Employment and Property. In ATHENS, they were all Artiſans or Tradeſmen: In SPARTA and ROME, they were all Soldiers. A low Degree of Knowledge was their general Lot: For much Knowledge can only be acquired by much Leiſure; which their Occupations did not allow. The People of SPARTA were intentionally virtuous: Thoſe of ATHENS were corrupt: Thoſe of ROME were of a mixed Character. As theſe free States voted not by Repreſentatives, the Preſence of the People was neceſſary, in all Deciſions of a public Nature: Hence, ſuch a People from their Ignorance, Wants, collective Preſence, and Pride of Power, muſt ever and ſuddenly be [Page 87] ſwayed by the Eloquence of public Demagogues.
But the collective Body of the People of BRITAIN are of a Nature and Character leſs uniform, and eſſentially different. They may properly be divided into two Claſſes; ‘"The People of the Kingdom;" ’ and ‘"the Populace of its Cities." ’
The Populace of its Cities reſemble Thoſe of ATHENS in moſt Things; except only, that they are not poſſeſſed of the legiſlative Power. For the People of ATHENS were ‘"a Body of Labourers and Mechanics, who earned their Bread with the Sweat of their Brows; too generally ignorant and ill-educated; too generally proſligate in Manners, and void of Principle."’
But the People of this Kingdom, in their collective Body, are upon the Whole, of a quite different Character. For under this Title are properly comprehended ‘"all Thoſe who ſend Repreſentatives for the Counties to Parliament."’ This Catalogue [Page 88] will include the landed Gentry, the beneficed Country Clergy, many of the more conſiderable Merchants and Men in Trade, the ſubſtantial and induſtrious Freeholders or Yeomen: A collective Body of Men, with all their incidental Failings, as different in Character from the Populace of any great City, as the Air of RICHMOND HILL from that of BILLINGSGATE or WAPPING.
AT this famed Period, it is evident, that the Manners and Principles of the Nation did, upon the Whole, tend to the Eſtabliſhment of Liberty; otherwiſe, Liberty had not been eſtabliſhed. This Revolution was perhaps the nobleſt public Reform that ever was made in any State: And ſuch a Reform, nothing but the Prevalence [Page 89] of upright Manners and Principles could have effected.
The religious Principle of Proteſtant Chriſtianity ſeems to have taken the Lead, even of the Love of civil Freedom. The Dread of Popery was, at leaſt, equal to That of arbitrary Power: The national Honour and Conſcience (on the whole) coincided with, and confirmed the Chriſtian Principle: Theſe three united Powers raiſed Liberty to the brighteſt Throne ſhe ever ſat on: A Throne which nothing but their Contraries can ſhake.
Yet notwithſtanding the unrivaled Excellence of this civil and religious Eſtabliſhment, there could be little Hope of its immediate and perfect Efficacy. Declaimers may expreſs their Wonder, that a Syſtem ſo perfect ſhould not at once attain its End: But they who take a nearer View of the Manners and Principles of thoſe Times, will rather ſay, that the Tumults and Diſſentions which inſtantly aroſe, were in their own Nature inevitable.
[Page 90] The Manners of the Times, tho' in the Main favourable to Liberty, were mixed with a groſs Alloy of private Licentiouſneſs: And hence, factious Meaſures of Courſe aroſe, from the Proſpect of Power or Gain. * The preceding Age had caught a ſtrong Tincture of Vice, from the prevalent Example of a debauched Court. The Education of Children was ſtill left in an imperfect State: This great Revolution having confined itſelf to the Reform of public Inſtitutions; without aſcending to the firſt great Fountain of political Security, ‘"the private and effectual Formation of the infant Mind."’
The religious Principle, though chiefly conſonant with the new Conſtitution, and indeed its leading Support, was in Part at Variance with it.—A numerous Body of Papiſts held a whole Syſtem of Principles diametrically oppoſite to its moſt eſſential Dictates.—Another Body of Proteſtant [Page 91] Jacobites were at War with the Principles of the State: For they held an hereditary and unalienable Right of Kings, founded on certain miſtaken Paſſages of the ſacred Scriptures.—A third Body of Men, though they allowed the Neceſſity and Juſtice of the Revolution, on the Principle of an Abdication, yet ſtill retained an Opinion at Variance with the State: They aſſerted an independent Hierarchy, vindicated a religious Intolerance, and on ſome miſconſtrued Paſſages of Scripture, affirmed the Duty of a paſſive Obedience without Limitation.—A fourth Body was That of ſome bigoted Diſſenters, who not content with a religious Toleration which had been juſtly granted them, aimed, on a miſtaken Principle of Religion, to erect their own Syſtem upon the Ruins of the eſtabliſhed Church.—All theſe Parties held religious Principles at Variance with the Laws of Freedom.
[Page 92] The Principle of Honour, tho' in many, and great Inſtances, co-operating with that of Religion; yet when not founded on it, was often at Variance with it. This Principle, as it hath appeared in modern Times, was in its Origin chiefly Military. Hence it hath generally taken Cognizance of Actions, not as they are juſt or unjuſt, but merely as they are ſplendid or mean, brave or cowardly: Thus, it overlooks all Laws, both human and divine: Hence unbounded Contempt of Enemies, furious Party-Rage, unlimited Reſentment and Revenge, were and ſtill are its favourite Dictates. Thus it hath come to paſs, that Honour often forbids what Religion approves; and approves what Religion forbids. This uncontrouled and dangerous Principle mixed itſelf with the licentious Manners of the Times: Hence, Attachments, Reſentments, and Party-Rage, aroſe and were perſiſted in, eſſentially contradictory to the Principles of Freedom.
[Page 93] Conſonant with what hath been above delivered, the Principle of Conſcience did not correct, but followed one or other of theſe various Principles, according to their Predominance and Power. And Theſe being incurably diſcordant among themſelves, the national Ideas of Right and Wrong, Juſt and Unjuſt, which were formed on Theſe, could not but prove themſelves of the like motley and diſagreeing Complexion.
Here, then, we behold the natural and unavoidable Source of all the Diſſentions that diſgraced the Reigns of King WILLIAM and Queen ANNE. And while ſome affect to wonder, how ſo generous a Syſtem of Religion and Polity, ſo noble a Conſtitution in Church and State, could fail to produce private Virtue and public Happineſs; we now obtain an additional Proof of the irreſiſtable Power of pre-eſtabliſhed Manners and Principles, when at Variance with the Laws of Freedom: We may ſee, even to Demonſtration, [Page 94] that the Animoſities of Thoſe Times were not incidental, but inevitable.
THE Acceſſion of GEORGE the Firſt ſeemed the Aera of perfect Freedom. And if an excellent King, at the Head of an unrivaled Conſtitution, could have ſecured Liberty; it had now been fixed on immoveable Foundations.
The Alloy of licentious Manners and contradictory Principles which had tarniſhed the preceding Reign, ſtill maintained their Influence: But the declared and zealous Advocates for Liberty now aſſumed the Reins of Power, and began more effectually to combat thoſe falſe Principles which were at Enmity with the State.
[Page 95] Would to God, theſe intentional Friends of public Liberty had been as much the Friends of private Virtue and Religion! They would not, then, have undermined the Foundations, while they were building the Superſtructure of civil Freedom.
The Seeds of Irreligion had for ſome Time been privately fermenting: But they did not break forth into open Growth till about this Period.—'Tis remarkable, that BURNET, * enumerating the Dangers by which the State was threatened in the Year 1708, makes no Mention of Irreligion, as an Evil worth being obviated. But ſoon after, this Peſtilence came on, with a terrible Swiftneſs and Malignity.
The ſlaviſh Principle of abſolute Non-Reſiſtance, and an independent Hierarchy, were ſtill prevalent in Part, eſpecially among the Clergy. To combat theſe, and expoſe them to the public Contempt, certain Writers were encouraged by Thoſe [Page 96] in Power. A vigorous and effectual Attack was made on the Advocates for Deſpotiſm. But in their Zeal againſt Tyranny, theſe Writers ſupplanted Freedom.
They aſſailed Superſtition with ſuch Weapons as deſtroyed Religion: They oppoſed Intolerance by Arguments and Ridicule which tended to ſweep away all public Eſtabliſhments: While they only aimed (perhaps) to contend for Freedom of Thought, they unwarily ſapped the Foundation of all ſalutary Principles. *
CATO's Letters, and the Independent Whig, among many other Tracts of leſs Note, ſeem palpable Inſtances of this Truth: The one was written in Defence of civil, the other, of religious Liberty. Yet both tended, in their general Tour, to relax thoſe Principles by which alone Freedom, either civil or religious, can be ſuſtained: By their intemperate Inſults on religious Inſtitutions; by their public and [Page 97] avowed Contempt of all Opinions, Principles, (or, if you pleaſe) Prejudices, inſtilled into the infant Mind, as the neceſſary Regulators of human Conduct: By exalting unaided human Reaſon, far beyond the Rank ſhe holds in Nature: By debaſing all thoſe Aſſiſtances which the Wiſdom of Ages had preſcribed and conſecrated, as the neceſſary Means of correcting her vague and wandering Dictates.
While Theſe Authors made this illjudged, and perhaps undeſigned Attack, on the Foundations of civil Liberty; others made a ſtill bolder and more fatal Inroad; and opened a wider Door for Licentiouſneſs, by an Attack on Chriſtianity itſelf.
In this Liſt of Enemies to their Country, it muſt be a Mortification to every Friend of Virtue and Liberty, to find the noble Author of the Characteriſtics. His Morals were unblemiſhed, his Love of Virtue and Freedom indiſputable: But by confounding two Things, which he ſaw accidently united, though in their Nature [Page 98] eſſentially diſtinguiſhed, he polluted his Arguments againſt Intolerance, with the groſſeſt Buffoonries on Chriſtianity.
There is no Doubt, but that the current Reaſonings of the Times had brought him to a Habit of Belief, that all This was harmleſs Paſtime. To this Purpoſe he ſeems to ſpeak himſelf. ‘"'Tis certain, that in Matters of Learning and Philoſophy, the Practice of pulling down is pleaſanter, and affords more Entertainment, than that of building and ſetting up.—In the literate warring World, the ſpringing of Mines, the blowing up of Towers, Baſtions, and Ramparts of Philoſophy, with Syſtems, Hypotheſes, Opinions, and Doctrines into the Air, is a Spectacle of all other the moſt naturally rejoicing. *"’
Theſe intemperate Sallies of Gaiety may ſerve as a Comment on the Paſſage already cited from CATO's Letters. They are a clear and concurrent Indication of the [Page 99] ruling Principle of the Times; when Opinions and Doctrines began to be derided as Things indifferent. The noble Writer was naturally led to embrace this growing Error of the Times, by a too flattering Opinion which he had imbibed concerning unaſſiſted human Nature; as being ſufficient of itſelf to eſtabliſh the unerring Practice of Virtue, unleſs beforehand ſophiſticated by ſervile Inſtitutions.
The noble Writer, indeed, attempts a Vindication of this licentious Conduct, by an Appeal to the Practice of ancient GREECE and ROME. There, he tells us, ‘ "Philoſophy had a free Courſe, and was permitted as a Balance againſt Superſtition. And while ſome Sects, ſuch as the Pythagorean and latter Platonic, joined in with the Superſtition and Enthuſiaſm of the Times; the EPICUREAN, the Academic, and others, were allowed to uſe all the Force of Wit and Raillery againſt it. *"’—This hath a plauſible [Page 100] Appearance: Yet I am perſwaded, the noble Author would have looked grave, had he been put in Mind of the Remark which FABRICIUS made on the Epicurean Sect, ‘"that he wiſhed ſuch Principles to all the Enemies of ROME. *"’ Or had he recollected, that when the irreligious Syſtem of EPICURUS prevailed in GREECE and ROME, theſe unprincipled and profligate States were on the Eve of their Deſtruction.
Soon after the Author of the Characteriſtics, another more diſſolute Writer appeared on the public Stage. I mean, the Author of ‘"The Fable of the Bees."’ This Gentleman, as hath been obſerved above, leveled his Artillery on the whole Fabric of Morals and Religion. His Syſtem was diametrically oppoſite to that of Lord SHAFTESBURY: The one was founded on the unaided Excellence, the other on the incurable Depravity of human Nature. But now the vagrant Spirit of Irreligion [Page 101] was Abroad; and the moſt inconſiſtent Productions were greedily ſwallowed, provided only they diſgraced CHRISTIANITY.
The Avidity with which theſe Compoſitions were received, ſoon emboldened a ſucceeding Writer, to make a formal Attack on the Religion of his Country: Chriſtianity as old as the Creation now appeared: In which the Goſpel was groſly miſrepreſented, inſulted, and diſgraced; and in Compliance with the ruling Malady of the Times, that poor and ſickly Creature, ‘"unaſſiſted Human Reaſon," ’ was vainly exalted to the Throne of ETERNAL TRUTH!
In a ſucceeding Period, and down to the preſent Time, the Evil hath increaſed, and been compleated. For now, not only revealed but natural Religion hath been publicly attacked, in the Writings [Page 102] of Lord BOLINGBROKE: An Author who ſtands convicted of deſigned Profligacy, even on his own Confeſſion. ‘"Some Men there are, the Peſts of Society I think them, who pretend a great Regard to Religion in general, but who take every Opportunity of declaiming publicly againſt that Syſtem of Religion, or at leaſt that Church Eſtabliſhment, which is received in BRITAIN. *"’—You See, this patriot Writer proclaims his Abhorrence even of Thoſe who aſſault the Out-Works of Religion: And then, with Modeſty unparallel'd, proceeds to blow up the Citadel.
The laſt of theſe patriot Worthies, by which the preſent Age ſtands diſtinguiſhed, is the Author of ‘"Eſſays philoſophical and moral:"’ Who, diſdaining the vulgar Practice of a particular Attack, undermines all the Foundations of Religion, revealed and natural; and with a Pen truly Epicurean, diſſolves at once all [Page 103] the Fears of the Guilty, the Comforts of the Afflicted, and the Hopes of the Virtuous.
Such, then, hath been the Progreſs of this public Evil; which hath proceeded almoſt without Cognizance from the Magiſtrate: Inſtead of That, it is well known, that ſome of theſe public Enemies of their Country and Mankind were formerly penſioned, and others privately encouraged by Thoſe in Power. How This came to paſs, and aggravated the growing Evil, it is now neceſſary to point out.
We have ſeen above, that a Foundation was laid for this, in an ill-conducted Oppoſition to the Enemies of Freedom. They who were employed to ſweep away falſe Principles, imprudently ſtruck at all Principles.
But beyond This, a famous Miniſter aſſumed, and long held the Reins of Power. There ſeems not the leaſt Foundation for the Charge laid againſt him by his Enemies, ‘"That his Deſign was to inſlave his Country."’ Neither had he any [Page 104] natural Inclination to corrupt Practices: Yet he rather choſe to rule by Theſe, than to reſign his Power. Nay, perhaps he thought this corrupt Syſtem the only one, which, under the Circumſtances of Thoſe Times, could ſupport that illuſtrious Family, which was brought in, as the happy Support of Liberty. Farther, perhaps, he judged This the only poſſible Expedient for prolonging a Peace, which He thought neceſſary, till Time ſhould wear out the falſe Principles, on which the expelled Family ſtill held their Influence in the Minds of the People.—From ſome or all of theſe Motives, He not only gave Way to Corruption, but encouraged it. To this End, Religion was diſcountenanced: And Chriſtian Principle, which would have been the firmeſt Friend of Liberty, was diſcarded, as the Enemy of Corruption.
In the mean Time, Trade, Wealth, and Luxury increaſed: Theſe, in their Extreme, having an unalterable Tendency [Page 105] to a Diſſolution of Manners and Principles, went Hand in Hand with the Progreſs of Corruption; which, in its moſt improved State, this miſtaken Miniſter left, as a laſting Legacy to his Country. *
That powerful Correctreſs, NECESSITY, gave a temporary Union to all Parties, and a temporary Reſtoration to the State. † But from the Deduction of Cauſes here given, it was natural to expect, that as ſoon as Danger ceaſed, Faction would ariſe.
It follows alſo, that it muſt ariſe on Foundations widely different from Thoſe in the Reigns of WILLIAM and ANNE. For the Diſſentions of theſe paſt Times were chiefly founded in falſe Principles: [Page 106] Thoſe of the preſent Age, on a Want of Principle.
For the falſe Principles which diſgraced the Proteſtants of the laſt Age, are vaniſhed. The miſtaken Interpretations of Scripture, on which the Jacobite, the Tory, the bigoted Diſſenter, founded their various Pretenſions and Attempts, are now held in general Deriſion: A Preacher, of whatever religious Congregation, who ſhould now advance theſe obſolete State-Heterodoxies, would be the Contempt of his wiſer Audience.
Nay, what is more, theſe falſe Principles tending to Deſpotiſm, are generally baniſhed, even from the Breaſts of the Clergy; except only a very few of the moſt aged. For the Biſhops being appointed by the Patrons of Liberty, have been ſuch, as held Principles conſiſtent with the Freedom of the State: And much Caution having been required of them, and uſed by them, in the Appointments of their Clergy, the general Complexion [Page 107] of this Body hath changed from That of being the Enemies, to That of being the Friends of Freedom.
Much it were to be wiſhed, that along with the Tares, the Wheat had not alſo periſhed. But the general Syſtem of Manners being relaxed though refined; * and Education ſtill left more and more imperfect; the Principle of Religion being unhappily deſtroyed among certain Ranks, and weakened among others; †—That of Honour being thus left to its own falſe and fantaſtic Dictates; ‡—and Conſcience naturally following the Whims of its untutored Parent;—Licentiouſneſs and Faction, founded on a Want of Principle, cannot but ariſe, and ſtand among the ‘ "leading Characters of the preſent Times." ’
And, that we may give as little Offence as poſſible, while we ſpeak the Truth; let it be obſerved, that all Orders of Men being born with an equal Tendency to Virtue or Vice; their adopting the One, or falling into the Other, depends chiefly on the Temptations to which their Rank expoſes them.
Wealth and Power give Opportunities of Indulgence; Indulgence naturally inflames Appetite.—Flattery awakens contempt; and Contempt weakens the Fear [Page 109] of Offence or Shame.—Laws which bind little Men, are often too weak for Great ones.—Leiſure, when not dignify'd by ſuitable Accompliſhments, ends in Idleneſs; and Idleneſs is the Parent and the Nurſe of licentious Folly. To ſuch Temptations do the Great ſtand expoſed, in the important Article of Manners.
With Reſpect to the Principle of Religion, their preſent Situation is no leſs unfavourable. Diſſolute Opinions flatter their diſordered Paſſions: Nor will they ever want Sycophants, to preſent this alluring Bait to their Deſires.—The Maxims of Irreligion are now ſo generally eſtabliſhed among Thoſe with whom the young Men of Faſhion converſe, that they muſt be peculiarly fortunate, if they eſcape the Infection. Wherever This Taint is given, the Principles of Honour and Conſcience become vague and ineffectual, if conſidered as the Supports of Liberty. Certain Delicacies of perſonal Conduct they may produce; but can never riſe to an [Page 110] unbiaſſed and ſteady Proſecution of the public Welfare.
Another Circumſtance unfavourable to the public Virtue of the higher Ranks preſents itſelf. Their Situation leads them to expect, and to claim, the great and lucrative Offices of the State. I need not here point out, how ſtrongly This tends to betray them into the Extremes of ſelfiſh Views, Ambition, Party-Rage, Licentiouſneſs, and Faction. *
Add to all theſe Conſiderations, their frequent and long-continued Meetings in the Capital: A Circumſtance which, from the powerful Effects of free Communication, cannot but inflame all theſe Cauſes of political Diſſention.
If we next examine the State of the Populace of the great Cities, we ſhall find that Their Situation naturally expoſes them to ſuch Temptations as lead to factious Conduct, when not early fortify'd by a virtuous Education. They [Page 111] are often urged by Want; of which, Diſcontent and Envy are the inevitable Effects. They are let looſe to every Impulſe of Appetite, by frequent Opportunity and Secrecy of Action: They are tempted by wicked Examples; inflamed by evil Communication and intoxicating Liquors: And though the induſtrious Mechanic may ſometimes eſcape the Infection; yet the Life of the uninſtructed Poor in great Cities, is too commonly a horrid Compound of Riot and Diſtreſs, Rapacity and Thieving, Proſtitution and Robbery, Wickedneſs and Deſpair.
Now if this Body of Men be indeed, what Candour itſelf cannot deny, ‘"too generally ignorant and ill-educated; too generally profligate in Manners, and void of Principle;"’ it follows, that like ‘"the Athenian Populace of old, they muſt be liable to the Seduction of artful Men;’ the ready Tools of every unprincipled Leader, who may chooſe to miſguide them, to the Ends of Licentiouſneſs and Faction.
[Page 112] But ‘ "The PEOPLE of GREAT BRITAIN, as above diſtinguiſhed, * are of a Character eſſentially different from both Theſe. The landed Gentry, the Country Clergy, the more conſiderable Merchants and Men in Trade, the ſubſtantial and induſtrious Freeholders and Yeomen," ’ poſſeſs a middle State of Life, which guards them from many of thoſe Temptations that ſurround the higher and the lower Ranks. Their imaginary Wants are fewer than thoſe of the Great: Their real Wants are fewer than thoſe of the Poor: Hence Their Appetites are leſs inflamed to Evil.—Their Education generally ſeconds this happy Situation, in a certain Degree: Though imperfect, it is commonly more conſiſtent with the main Outlines of public Law, than that of the ſuperior or inferior Ranks.—Their Principles of Religion confirm this Education: They ſtand not generally expoſed to the Infection of diſſolute Opinions. [Page 113] Their Sentiments of Honour and Conſcience are moſt commonly built on the Doctrines of Chriſtianity.—Their Numbers and their Station conſpire to exclude them from a general Claim to the lucrative Offices of the State. Their collective Knowledge is of ſufficient Reach to prevent their general Seduction to the Purpoſes of Licentiouſneſs: Their Diſperſion, and rural Life, prevent thoſe continued and unreſtrained Communications, which are alike fatal to private and public Virtue.
Let not the Writer be miſunderſtood. There are Examples of Integrity and Diſhonour, of Virtue and Vice, among all Degrees of Men. He only points out the Circumſtances which naturally tend, upon the Whole, to form the ſeveral Ranks into theſe diſtinct Characters.
From this View of the ſeveral Ranks, it follows, that although ‘"The People of this Kingdom"’ muſt inevitably partake of the various Manners and Principles of the Great and the Populace, with which [Page 114] they at Times communicate; though they be ſubject to the common Failings of Men, and to the incidental Inroads of Licentiouſneſs from higher and lower Life;—yet upon the Whole, and conſidered as one collective Body, they ſtand comparatively clear of many Temptations to Vice; and therefore muſt naturally be leaſt expoſed to the Influence of Licentiouſneſs and Faction.
One Conſequence, ariſing from their Diſperſion, muſt not paſs unnoticed. It not only prevents the general Depravation of their Manners and Principles, but likewiſe prevents their uniting in large Bodies, upon all ſlight Occaſions. Hence, though they are apt to doubt, nay to be alarmed, on the factious Clamours of the Capital; yet they are not rowzed into Action, but on ſingular and important Emergencies.
To conclude: They are a great, but quieſcent Power; on whoſe collective Knowledge and Integrity, the Freedom and Fate of this Nation muſt finally depend. In [Page 115] the laſt Age, through the Influence of falſe Principles, pre-eſtabliſhed or infuſed, they had well-nigh ſhaken the Foundations of Liberty: * In the preſent, theſe miſtaken Principles being no more, They are now ‘"the firmeſt Bulwark of BRITAIN's Freedom." ’
WHERE Faction is founded on falſe Principles, it is eaſily detected, becauſe it is generally avowed. It implies no moral Depravity, but only an Error of the Mind: And he who holds this Error, is not naturally aſhamed of it, becauſe he holds it as a Truth.
But where Faction is founded on Licentiouſneſs and Want of Principle, it [Page 116] cannot be ſo eaſily detected: For as it implies a moral Depravity, it will naturally attempt to veil itſelf; and to this End, will aſſume the Garb and Appearance of Freedom.
The favourite Subject of its Clamours will be the Miſconduct of Thoſe who govern. And in a Country where Liberty is juſtly ranked among the greateſt national Bleſſings, the moſt plauſible Pretence of Faction will be, ‘"to load the executive Power with the Charge of Deſpotiſm."’
In every free State there will frequently occur certain Subjects and Meaſures, ‘"of doubtful Expediency." ’ Theſe, in the wide Field of political Contention, may juſtly be ſtiled ‘"the debateable Grounds." ’ On theſe doubtful Points, even the Friends of Liberty may ſometimes differ: Therefore the Patrons of Faction will naturally lay hold on theſe, as the moſt ſucceſsful and effectual Means of State Diſtraction: Becauſe Thus they may hope to mingle [Page 117] with, and to paſs for the Friends of Freedom.
When therefore ſuch doubtful Meaſures become the Subject of political Contention; it may be difficult to determine, from the mere Circumſtance of Opinion, who are the Friends of Liberty, and who the Abettors of Faction: Becauſe, in theſe Points, there may be an incidental Difference of Opinion, even among the Friends of Liberty themſelves.
A much ſurer Determination may be formed on the Manner and Conduct of the diſſenting Party: For the Friend of Liberty, having no ſelfiſh Views, will be rational, honeſt, equitable, in the Proſecution of his Wiſhes. He who is actuated by the Spirit of Licentiouſneſs and Faction, will be irrational, diſhoneſt, iniquitous.
Let us, then, endeavour to particularize theſe diſtinctive Marks or Characters: Thus ſhall we beſt be able to determine, ‘ "who are the Friends of Liberty, and who the Abettors of Licentiouſneſs and Faction." ’
THESE which follow, are perhaps ſome of the cleareſt Characteriſtics of the Spirit of Liberty: By which the Friends of public Freedom, though diſſentient from any Meaſure of Government, will be evidently diſtinguiſhed.—Each of theſe Marks may ſeem deciſive, even when ſeparately viewed: But to do Juſtice to this Argument, it will be neceſſary to conſider and weigh them in Union; becauſe as they in Part depend on each other, they will illuſtrate each other, and at once receive and give additional Confirmation.
1. ‘"The Friend of Liberty will endeavour to preſerve that juſt Balance of divided Power, eſtabliſhed by Law, for the Security of Freedom."’—Becauſe the public Welfare is the leading Object of his Wiſhes; and can only be effectually [Page 119] obtained by the Preſervation of ſuch a Balance.
3. ‘"He will be generally ſelf-conſiſtent, both in Speech and Action."’—Becauſe, the public Welfare being the uniform Object of his Purſuits, This can only be ſteadily and effectually promoted, on clear and uniform Principles.
5. ‘"His Debates, either in the Senate, or from the Preſs, will be void of undiſtinguiſhing [Page 120] and injurious Imputations on any whole Bodies of Men, who may differ from him in Opinion."’ Becauſe, Truth and the public Welfare being his deſired End, he will clearly ſeé, that others have the ſame Right of approving, as Himſelf hath of diſapproving, the Meaſures of Government.
6. ‘"He will not induſtriouſly and indiſcriminately defame the private Characters of the Individuals who differ from him in Opinion."’—Becauſe Calumny thrown on Individuals is a ſtill more aggravated Crime, than That which is promiſcuouſly aimed at Bodies of Men.
THOUGH we have ſeen, that the Patrons of Faction will attempt to mix and confound themſelves with the [Page 121] Friends of Liberty; yet, in Spite of their Pretences, they will be detected by the following characteriſtic Marks, which will ſtand in clear Oppoſition to Thoſe of Freedom.
Theſe, like the former, may ſeem ſufficiently deciſive, even when ſeparately viewed: But to do Juſtice to this Argument, it will in the ſame Manner be neceſſary to conſider and weigh them in Union: Becauſe, as they in Part depend on each other, they will illuſtrate each other, and at once receive and give additional Confirmation.
1. ‘"The Leaders of Faction (being naturally of the higher Ranks *) would aim to eſtabliſh an ariſtocratic Power; and inſlave both Prince and People to their own Avarice and Ambition."’
Thus, if any Set of Men had in former Times been in Power; and while in Power, had oppreſſed embarraſſed Majeſty; [Page 122] had threatened the Prince with a general Reſignation; had thus intimidated him to their own Purpoſes; had by theſe Means uſurped the legal Prerogatives of the Crown; and apply'd them rather to the Support of their own Influence, than to the public Welfare:—
If the legal Privileges of the People had fared no better in their Hands:—If Theſe, too, had been ſwallowed up, in the great Gulph of ariſtocratic Power:—If the Members of the lower Houſe, while they ſeemed to be the free Repreſentatives of the People, had been in Truth, a great Part of them, no more than the commiſſioned Deputies of their reſpective Chiefs, whoſe Sentiments they declared, and whoſe Intereſts they purſued:—
If ſuch a Set of Men, as ſoon as they had loſt their Influence, ſhould now rail at the Privileges of the Crown, as the Engines of Deſpotiſm, though they had been formerly allowed by the Wiſdom of the State, as the occaſional Securities of Freedom:—
[Page 123] If they ſhould now abſurdly magnify and exalt the Privileges of the lower Houſe, beyond the Limits preſcribed by a free Conſtitution:—If their Pretence ſhould be the Vindication of the People's Rights; while their real Motive was ‘"the Reſtoration of their own exorbitant Power, founded on an expected Majority of their own Dependents:" ’
Such would be their main End or Purpoſe: And this End would be purſued by ſuitable Means: Theſe Means, conſidered in Union, would ſtill farther confirm and illuſtrate the End they aimed at: And theſe Means would be ſuch as follow.
If the ſame Men, when formerly in Power, ſhould have obſtinately adhered to each other in every public Debate and Opinion; ſhould have execrated every Man, as the Enemy of his Country, who diſſented even in the ſlighteſt Article of political Belief:—
If on any ſudden Change in the Fountain of Power, a more generous Syſtem of Government ſhould have taken Place:—If the Sovereign had aimed to unite all honeſt Men of all Parties, and had invited them to co-operate for the Welfare of their Country:—
If on This, the Clamours of their attendant Populace ſhould ariſe; * and for the Sake of the public Tranquillity, Overtures ſhould be made by the Prince to the Diſcontented:—If the ſame Principle ſhould ſtill predominate, and Demands in Favour of Men ſhould be the leading Object of Accommodation:—
If theſe Demands ſhould be not only irrational in their Kind, but exorbitant and oppreſſive in their Degree; requiring a general Reſtoration of All the Diſcontented, and a general Diſmiſſion of all who were in Power, tho' of known Fidelity to their King and Country:—
Thus, if the Exerciſe of a Privilege ſhould be quietly allowed to one Officer of State, and by the ſame Perſons ſhould be clamoured againſt in his Succeſſor: The Perſons thus acquieſcing and clamouring by Turns, would ſtand convicted of a ſelf-contradictory and inconſiſtent Conduct: And without deciding on the Propriety or Impropriety of the Privilege in Queſtion, would carry upon them a clear Mark of Licentiouſneſs and Faction.
Again, if a certain Mode of political Influence on Dependents was generally exerciſed among all the Ranks of a free Country:—If the ſame Perſons already [Page 127] characterized, ſhould now condemn This as a deſpotic Meaſure in the Servants of the Crown, which They themſelves formerly exerciſed when in Power, and ſtill continue to exerciſe towards their private Dependents:—Theſe Gentlemen would betray a very notable Inconſiſtence in their Conduct: And therefore, without any Deciſion on the Rectitude of ſuch a general Practice, would ſtand convicted of an undeniable Mark of Licentiouſneſs and Faction.
A blind and unprincipled Populace have ever been the moſt effectual Engines of Sedition: And above all, Thoſe of the [Page 128] Capital, being near to the grand Scene of political Contention, muſt ever be a ready and dangerous Engine in the Hands of Licentiouſneſs and Faction.
But in a Nation like this, to make the Populace of the Capital a more ſucceſsful Inſtrument of Sedition, a Degree of Art would be neceſſary. For it appears above, that the People of this Kingdom, and the Populace of its Cities, are of a Character eſſentially oppoſite to each other: That the one is collectively knowing and upright; the other, collectively ignorant and immoral. *—The firſt Step, therefore, that Faction would take, as the ſureſt Method for Succeſs, would be to confound the one with the other; and dignify ‘"the Clamour of the Populace," ’by ſtiling it ‘ "the VOICE of the PEOPLE."’
[Page 129] If an Order of the Senate ſhould be given for the Burning of a Paper legally declared ſeditious; ſuch a Populace would be incited to reſcue it from the Fire: And they who had thus incited them would boaſt, that it was reſcued by the Hands of ‘ "the PEOPLE."’
Every talking Demagogue, who ſhould oppoſe the Meaſures of Government, would be artfully and indiſcriminately obtruded on ſuch an ignorant Populace, as a Patriot or a Heroe. And They who had thus obtruded him would boaſt, that he was the Favourite of ‘ "the PEOPLE."’
Every diſtinguiſhed Friend to the Meaſures of Government would be artfully obtruded on ſuch a Populace, as the Enemy of his Country: And They who had thus obtruded him would boaſt, that he was the Deteſtation of ‘ "the PEOPLE."’
Every Act of the Legiſlature, which contradicted the Paſſions or partial Intereſts of ſuch a Populace or their Leaders, would be branded by them, as arbitrary [Page 130] and oppreſſive: And they would boaſt, that it was branded by the Voice of ‘ "the PEOPLE."’
If daily or periodical Papers of Intelligence were circulated from the Capital through the Nation, and Theſe were open to the Admiſſion of every Thing which private Pique, Paſſion, or Intereſt, might ſuggeſt; they would of Courſe become the general Repoſitories of popular Slander: And as Malice is always more eager to accuſe, than injured Innocence to defend, theſe Slanders would often ſeem to preponderate in the public Ear: And hence, would be boaſted by Thoſe who raiſed them, as the prevailing Voice of ‘ "the PEOPLE."’
Thus, hatched by Licentiouſneſs, FACTION would attain to its enormous Growth: The unprincipled among the Great would form the Head, the unprincipled among the Populace would form the Body, of this rapacious Monſter.
Thus if any miſtaken Principle had formerly been maintained, but was now generally forſaken and derided; a Faction could not be detected by any clearer Mark, than by its Attempt to conjure up the Ghoſt of this departed Principle, in order to alarm and terrify not only the Populace, but the PEOPLE.
[Page 132] If on This Pretence, any Men ſhould attempt to revive Animoſities which Time had bury'd;—ſhould attempt to divide and diſtract the Subjects of an united Kingdom, whoſe common Welfare depended on their Union;—ſhould revile all Men without Diſtinction, who were born in a certain Diſtrict; and indiſcriminately endeavour to exclude them from a Participation of thoſe public Truſts, Honours, and Emoluments, to which, with the reſt of their Fellow-Subjects, they might ſtand intitled by their Capacity or Virtue:—Who would not diſcover, in this unequal Conduct, a clear and diſtinctive Mark of Licentiouſneſs and Faction?
Again: If ever there had been a Time, when All who preſumed to diſſent in any Degree from thoſe in Power, were indiſcriminately and unjuſtly branded with the Name of Jacobite or Tory;—and if Theſe very Men who had beſtowed ſuch Appellations ſhould now deal them as freely round, on All who aſſent to Thoſe [Page 133] in Power:—This were ſurely a clear Indication, that the Spirit of Faction were abroad.
But if, in the Courſe of political Revolutions, ſome of theſe Men's former Adherents ſhould now be their Adverſaries; and ſome former Adverſaries ſhould now be their Adherents; another characteriſtic Circumſtance would ariſe: For Thoſe whom they had once reviled, they would now applaud, as being the Friends of Liberty; and Thoſe whom they had formerly applauded, they would now revile, as having become Jacobites or Tories.—Such a Conduct, and ſuch Names thus arbitrarily impoſed, however ſpeciouſly coloured over by the Pretence and Cry of Liberty, might ſeem to ſtand, with all impartial Judges, as a clear Mark of Licentiouſneſs and Faction.
The Views of ſuch Men would be ſtill more apparent, ſhould they inſinuate, that the Prince received Thoſe very Men as his Miniſters and Favourites, whoſe Principles [Page 134] tended to the Subverſion of his Throne and Family. This Inſinuation, indeed, would not ſo much merit Deteſtation, as Contempt and Ridicule.
It was the juſt Obſervation of an ancient Writer, that ‘"the Wicked is an Abomination to the Righteous, and the Righteous an Abomination to the Wicked."’—Yet the Meaſures which theſe two Parties take, in their Treatment of each other, are eſſentially different.—The good Man never maliciouſly ſtabs the Reputation of his Neighbour: The wicked Man, [Page 135] on the contrary, delights in this moſt practicable, but moſt atrocious of all Miſchiefs.—Invenomed Hints, ambiguous Imputations, private Crimes darkly alledged, but void of all Foundation:—Theſe are the deadly Weapons of the abandoned but cunning Defamer.
If the Servants of the Crown, and Members of the Legiſlature, who had legally exerted themſelves in Defence of their injured Sovereign, ſhould in their private Character be impudently vilify'd, miſrepreſented, and abuſed; and even their unoffending Families traduced with ſtudy'd and unexampled Virulence:—
If neither Age nor Virtue ſhould be a Security againſt the Arrows of public Calumny:—If a MAN of the moſt diſtinguiſhed Worth in private Life, a known and zealous Friend of public Liberty, one of the Ornaments of his Age and Country, ſhould be overwhelmed by a Load of the moſt unprovoked and malicious Slander; merely becauſe he had dared to aſſert [Page 137] his own Right of private Judgment, in Oppoſition to the Opinion of another:—
If theſe Outrages ſhould be publicly committed by ſome; and winked at or countenanced, or patronized by others;— ſurely, all honeſt Men ought to joyn, in declaring their Abhorrence of ſuch atrocious Acts of Licentiouſneſs and Faction, perpetrated in Defiance of All Laws, both human and divine.
SHOULD it be objected to the Writer, that while he blames the Practice in others▪ He indiſcriminately characterizeth whole Bodies of Men who diſſent from public Meaſures; he would reply, that the Accuſation is groundleſs: For he hath expreſsly diſtinguiſhed Thoſe who diſſent on Principles of Liberty, from ſuch as [Page 138] diſſent on Motives of Licentiouſneſs and Faction.
Should it be objected, that he hath attacked even private Characters, in the Way of indirect Deſcription: This Accuſation would be equally ill-founded. For all perſonal Peculiarities are avoided, ſave only the ſingle Facts alluded to, as the Proofs of his Allegations: Theſe were eſſentially neceſſary for the Support of the Argument; and relate not to private Life, but to public and political Conduct.
Should it be objected, that ſome of theſe characteriſtic Marks may ſeem to involve Men of good Morals in private Life: He would reply, that the Affections of good Men in private Life may not always extend to the Public.
[Page 139] Should it be objected, that ſome of theſe characteriſtic Marks may ſeem to involve Men, who have been eminently ſerviceable to their Country in public Stations: He would reply, that He ever hath been, and ever will be proud to do Juſtice to Merit, when exerciſed in any public Station.
Should it be objected, that he queſtions the Conduct of Thoſe only who are now out of Power: He would reply, that he formerly queſtioned their Conduct with the ſame Freedom, when in the Fulneſs of their Power: And that his Reaſons in both Inſtances were the ſame; becauſe in both Inſtances he judged their general Conduct to be eſſentially ill-founded, narrow, ſelfiſh, reprehenſible.
THUS the Writer hath endeavoured to lay open the Foundations and Characters of Licentiouſneſs and Faction: He now proceeds to conſider the moſt effectual Means of checking them in their Progreſs; of reſtoring internal Uhanimity; and ſecuring public Freedom.
'Tis evident, then, that the firſt Advance towards a Cure of this national [Page 141] Evil muſt ariſe from the ſteady Conduct of the Prince. For Faction, unoppoſed, and led on by the higher Ranks, will never ceaſe in its Demands, till it terminates in the Poſſeſſion of an unbounded ariſtocratic Power: This is a Power, which nothing but the Courage and Steadineſs of the Prince can poſſibly contend with: Becauſe the final Object of ſuch a Faction will always be, ‘"Thoſe high and lucrative Offices of State, which are in His ſole Diſpoſal." ’
If a Sovereign once gives Way to the Storms in which ſuch a Faction will involve him, his Peace and Freedom, together with Thoſe of his People, are inevitably deſtroyed. On the contrary, if amidſt all the Tumults of Sedition, he diſcovers an unalterable Firmneſs and Fortitude, founded in upright Intentions and real Virtue; the Rage of hopeleſs Faction will by Degrees ſubſide; and a Proſpect of better Times will open upon Him and his People. This general Truth might [Page 142] be commented on: But at preſent, the Writer can with Satisfaction leave it to the impartial Public, to find a more inſtructive and LIVING COMMENT.
A plauſible Objection, then, is here to be obviated: For a late Writer hath very calmly and ſyſtematically attempted to prove the univerſal and unconditional Neceſſity of political Corruption, in all free Governments. *
[Page 143] What follows is the Foundation of his Argument. ‘"All human Government is the Offspring of Violence and Corruption; and muſt inherit the Imperfection of both its Parents. *"’ ‘"All Governments muſt be adminiſtered by the ſame Violence and Corruption, to which they are indebted for their Origin. †"’ ‘"Corruption (therefore) muſt always increaſe in due Proportion to the Decreaſe of arbitrary Power; ſince where there is leſs Power to command Obedience, there muſt be more Bribery to purchaſe it; or there can be no Government carry'd on at all. ‡"’
There have been two different Pictures given of Man, by different Writers, diametrically oppoſite to each other. By ſome, the human Species hath been repreſented [Page 144] as a natural Society of Angels; by others, as a Crew of Devils. Both theſe Repreſentations have ariſen from a partial View of Mandkind▪ One Party regarding his ſocial Qualities only; the other overlooking Theſe, and fixing on the Appetites which are commonly called the felfiſh.
Were Mankind of the firſt of theſe Characters, they would need no Law! Were they of the latter, no Law could unite or bind them. The Truth is, they are a Mixture of Both. As they have the ſeveral Modes of Self-Love, for the Preſervation of the Individual; ſo, by proper Culture, they gain Habits of Benevolence, Religion, ſocial Prudence, the Love of honeſt Reputation, and ſometimes even a Regard for the general Welfare of the Society to which they belong. As theſe ſocial Paſſions and Regards are ſtrong or weak, frequent or uncommon; the Character of a Nation is good or bad, honeſt or corrupt, upright or profligate. [Page 145] A Variety of Proofs hath been given of theſe different Degrees of moral Character, in the preceding Parts of this Eſſay. *
But that we may not ſeem to build on a Principle which this Author admits not, we hear him virtually declaring all This himſelf in another Part of his Book. ‘"Here He (Man) has an Opportunity given him of improving or debaſing his Nature, in ſuch a Manner as to render himſelf fit for a Rank of higher Perfection and Happineſs; or to degrade himſelf to a State of greater Imperfection and Miſery. †"’ Again, he ſpeaks of a Reformation of Manners, as a Thing practicable: And recommends it, as the only Remedy for political Evil. ‡
But while he treats of the abſolute Neceſſity of political Corruption, all the better Part of Man is hid; his Imperfections and Vices alone are ſet in View. During the Progreſs of this Argument, if it deſerves that [Page 146] Name, we hear of nothing but ‘"ſuch imperfect and vicious Creatures as Men, tyrannizing over others as imperfect and vicious as themſelves: *"’ We have nothing preſented to us, but ‘"Pride, Avarice, and Cruelty on one Side; Envy, Ignorance, and Obſtinacy on the other; Injuſtice and Self-Intereſt on both. †"’ In a Word, Mankind are repreſented as an abandoned and incurable Race, utterly void of all good Qualities; and ſuch as ‘"muſt be always bribed or beat into Obedience. ‡"’
Here, then, this Maxim of the abſolute and unconditional Neceſſity of Political Corruption appears in all its Nakedneſs and Deformity: For it is founded on ‘"the ſuppoſed incurable Wickedneſs of Man:"’ An Error too glaring to need a Confutation; and which there is ſtill the leſs Occaſion to confute, becauſe this Author himſelf admits the contrary.
[Page 147] It follows then, that his leading Propoſition is as falſe in itſelf, as it is pernicious to Society, that ‘"Corruption muſt always increaſe in due Proportion to the Decreaſe of arbitrary Power:"’ Becauſe Virtue and Religion, upright Manners and Principles, properly inſtilled, may much better ſupply Corruption's Place. *
On this Foundation, therefore, it appears, that every upright Miniſter ought, as far as poſſible, to check the Progreſs of Corruption: And tho' at Times he may be embaraſſed, and under a political [Page 148] Neceſſity of yielding; 'tis clearly both his Duty and his Intereſt to oppoſe this dangerous and encroaching Spirit, in the leading Outlines of his public Conduct.
It is his Duty; both becauſe Corruption can only flouriſh on the Ruins of Virtue and Religion, good Morals and Principles, without which public Liberty is eſſentially deſtroy'd; and becauſe Corruption tends inevitably and invariably to weaken the public Adminiſtration of Government, by filling every high Department with the Venal, the Ignorant, the Selfiſh, the Diſhoneſt. *
It is both his Duty and Intereſt; becauſe Licentiouſneſs, and its Attendants, Venality and Faction, are of an inſatiable Appetite. The more the Venal are fed, they grow more importunate: If you gorge one of Theſe to the full, and thus lay him to ſleep; ten will riſe in his Place, every one more clamourous than the firſt.
[Page 149] The Miniſter, therefore, both in Conſideration of his own Peace, and the public Welfare, ought as far as poſſible, to obviate this Evil in its Beginnings; fortify Himſelf, as well as the State, with the Honeſt, the Firm, and the Capable; reſiſt, to the utmoſt, the exorbitant Demands of Venality: Thus Faction will either bark itſelf aſleep; or die deſpairing.
1. 'Tis generally acknowledged, that Power naturally follows Property. Therefore exorbitant Property in Individuals muſt always be unfavourable to civil Liberty; muſt always tend to produce Licentiouſneſs and Faction; becauſe it throws [Page 150] exorbitant Power into the Hands of Individuals: And the greater the Inequality between the Poor and Rich, the more the one will ever be under the Influence of the other.
It ſhould ſeem, then, to be the particular Intereſt even of the moſt Wealthy, if they be the real Friends of Liberty,—'tis certainly the general Intereſt of a free Community; that ſome legal Limitation of Property ſhould take Place. I ſpeak not of the Probability, but the Expediency of ſuch a Meaſure.
2. It follows, that ſome Regulation in Reſpect to Boroughs would be of great Importance. For in Boroughs, contrary to all ſound Policy, ‘"Power is lodged without annexed Property."’The natural Conſequence is, that ‘"this ill-placed Power will be ſeized by Thoſe who are poſſeſſed of exorbitant Property."’ Thus Power ſettles on its natural Foundation: But a Foundation, in this Inſtance, moſt dangerous to Freedom; as it leads to the [Page 151] Eſtabliſhment of an Ariſtocracy. In This Inſtance, too, I ſpeak not of the Probability, but the Expediency of the Meaſure.
3. The Limitation of extended Conqueſt and Empire might ſeem an Object worthy the Attention of the higheſt Powers.—ROME periſhed by its Avidity of unbounded Empire. Colonies, when peopled beyond a certain Degree, become a Burthen to the Mother Country: They exhauſt her Numbers; they diſtract her Attention; they divide her compacted Strength. Such Extent of Colonies, as may be neceſſary to maintain the Empire of the Seas, will always be a juſt Object of Britiſh Regard. More than this, ſound Policy perhaps could hardly dictate.
4. This Limitation is of more Importance, as it would naturally ſet Bounds to another Exceſs: I mean, That of Trade and Wealth. This, the Writer knows, is of all other Topics the moſt unpopular: Notwithſtanding which, he preſumes to perſiſt in what appears to Him a demonſtrative [Page 152] Truth, that ‘"exorbitant Trade and Wealth are moſt dangerous to private Virtue and therefore to public Freedom."’ The Topic is too large, to be here inſiſted on. He therefore refers to what he hath already written on this Subject; * which hath been much clamoured againſt, indeed; but never confuted. †
To this End, if the growing Spirit of Novelty and Adoption could by any Means be checked, it would be a Work attended with the moſt ſalutary Conſequences. The Writer would not willingly be thought chimerically to adopt all the Rigours of the Spartan State: But could wiſh to ſee a Law enacted, parallel to That of LACEDAEMON, by which their raw and unexperienced Youth were prohibited from bringing Home the new Follies and Vices of foreign Countries, picked up in a premature and too early Travel. *
He would by no Means diſcourage the Freedom of the Preſs: Yet, ſure, its Licentiouſneſs might ſeem an Object of the Magiſtrate's Regard. The Search of Truth is good: But to ſearch for This in the [Page 154] Hoards of Irreligion, is like ſearching for Hope in PANDORA'S Box; where the ſole Reward of Induſtry can only be Peſtilence, Deſpair and Death. National Virtue never was maintained, but by national Religion: He, therefore, who ſhakes the eſſential Principles of Religion, undermines the Virtue of his Fellow-Subjects; and therefore deſerves to feel the Rigour of the Law, as a determined Enemy of his Country.—This may ſeem a practicable Remedy: But how to deſtroy thoſe irreligious Writings, which already lie expoſed on Stalls and Counters, or depoſited in private Libraries, like ſo many Heaps of Poiſon, for the Gratification of Vice, and the Deſtruction of Virtue:—Or how to pluck from the Minds of Men thoſe poiſoned Arrows, which theſe Authors have already planted there!—That were a Taſk indeed!—The Shaft is already flown; and cannot be recalled: And this Nation, thro' ſucceeding Times will have Cauſe to ſay,‘—"Haeret Lateri lethalis Arundo."’
Perſonal Defamation, or Calumny thrown on private Characters, is another Evil, which ſeems riſing at preſent with unheard-of Aggravations. Two ſlagrant Inſtances of This Enormity the Writer will paſs unnoticed, leſt he ſhould ſeem to inſult over the Exiled or the Dead. *
ALL theſe may be regarded as temporary and concomitant Supports of Freedom. But the chief and eſſential Remedy to Licentiouſneſs and Faction, the fundamental Means of the laſting and ſecure Eſtabliſhment of civil Liberty, can only ‘"lie in a general and preſcribed Improvement of the Laws of Education."’
We have ſeen above, that upright Manners and Principles are the only Baſis of true Liberty; that the infant Mind, if left to its own untutored Dictates, inevitably wanders into ſuch Follies and Vices, as tend to the Deſtruction of itſelf and others. We have ſeen, that the early and continued Culture of the Heart can alone produce ſuch upright Manners and Principles, as are neceſſary to check and ſubdue the ſelfiſh Paſſions of the Soul; and that Liberty [Page 157] can only ariſe from a general Subordination of Theſe, to the public Welfare. We have ſeen theſe Truths confirmed, by an Appeal to the State of three famed Republics, which by Turns aroſe and fell, on the very Principles here delivered. We have ſeen the Defects, as well as Excellencies, of our own public Conſtitution, both civil and religious: That its Form is excellent and unrivaled; but that the practical Application of this unrivaled Excellence is attended with Defects incurable: That it hath all along been inevitably counterworked by Manners and Principles diſcordant with its Genius, and diſcordant with each other: That for Want of a preſcribed Code of Education, to which all the Members of the Community ſhould legally ſubmit, the Manners and Principles on which alone the State can reſt, are ineffectually inſtilled, are vague, fluctuating, and ſelf-contradictory.
Nothing, then, is more evident, than that ſome Reform in this great Point, is [Page 158] neceſſary, for the Security of public Freedom. Till this be effected, in Spite of all temporary Remedies, Licentiouſneſs and Faction, tho' checked for a Time, will ever be gathering new Strength, and returning to the Charge with redoubled Fury.
This Reform, to ſome, may appear eaſy to effect: By others it will be derided, as wholly impracticable. Perhaps the Truth may lie between theſe two Opinions: To throw the Manners and Principles of a Nation into any new Channel, is certainly a Work of no ſmall Difficulty.—On the other Hand, we ſeem to have many Materials lying round us, ready to be converted into the Means of this great Work. A pure and rational Religion; a generous Syſtem of Policy, founded on that Religion; Manners, tho' apparently degenerating, yet by no Means generally profligate; much true Religion, Integrity, and Honour among the middle Ranks; many Inſtances of domeſtic Worth among the higher; and in Spite of the [Page 159] Temptations that ſurround the Great, true Piety, and the moral Virtues adorning the moſt exalted Station.
Therefore, without dreaming of the perfect Republic of PLATO;—and fairly acknowledging the incurable Defect of our political State, in not having a correſpondent and adequate Code of Education inwrought into its firſt Eſſence;—we may yet hope, that in a ſecondary and inferior Degree, ſomething of this Kind may be ſtill inlaid: It cannot have that perfect Efficacy, as if it had been originally of the Piece: Yet, if well conducted, it may ſtrengthen the weak Parts; and alleviate Defects, though not compleatly remove them.
Among what Ranks, in the Writer's Opinion, theſe Defects in Education chiefly lie, may be ſufficiently collected from ſome of the preceding Sections. But as to the moſt effectual Methods of relieving theſe Defects, he pretends not at preſent to attempt ſo great a Subject.
[Page 160] This, however, he is well perſwaded of; that till ſomething of the Kind be attempted and performed; all the laboured Harangues that can be given from the Bench, the Pulpit, or the Preſs, will be of little Avail: They may tend occaſionally to obviate ſome of the Evils of Licentiouſneſs; but never can radically cure them.
THESE Remedies, however juſt in their Nature, can only be effectual through a proper Application: And this can only lie ‘"in a zealous and unfeigned Union of the Honeſt among all Ranks and Parties, for the Accompliſhment of theſe Ends, againſt the Patrons and Inſtruments of Licentiouſneſs and Faction."’
Among the Great, this rational Union is often counteracted by the Ties of falſe Honour; a dangerous Principle, which we have already noted, as being productive of Party-Rage and Faction. * This Principle, even in honeſt Minds, will ſometimes prevail over the Dictates of Religion and private Virtue. On this falſe Foundation, political Connexions are often maintained, in Defiance of a juſt Senſe of public Utility: While the unhappy Man who acts on this miſtaken Motive, is inwardly rent by two contrary and contending Powers. Severe Moraliſts may perhaps diſcard ſuch a Character from the Liſt of the Honeſt: But it ſhould ſeem, that he is rather an Object of Clemency than Indignation. Remove but the unhappy Prejudice from his Breaſt; [Page 162] And ſuch a Character would preſs forward among the firſt, towards the Goal of public Virtue.
Again: This rational and ſalutary Union may be retarded by Connexions of Friendſhip, Gratitude, or Blood. This Cauſe tends to confirm and extend the Influence of the former. Fathers, powerful Friends, and Patrons, connect themſelves with Parties, and cleave to them on a miſtaken Principle: Sons, obliged Friends, and Dependents, are naturally inliſted in their Party; and are rivetted in it, not only by falſe Honour, but Education, Gratitude, Affection. How peculiarly unfortunate is this Circumſtance; that the generous Paſſions ſhould ever become the Adverſaries of public Virtue!
The ſame falſe Attachment to Friends, Patrons, and Relations, naturally prevails, in a certain Proportion, among the middle Ranks of the Kingdom. Their Intereſts, Paſſions, and Prejudices, are not ſo immediately concerned as Thoſe of the higher Ranks; and therefore 'tis natural [Page 163] to ſuppoſe, that their mutual Attachments of miſtaken Honour or private Affection, will upon the Whole be more moderate and leſs culpable. Yet ſtill, while theſe falſe Attachments are prevalent among the Great, the People muſt in ſome Degree catch the Infection, from the various Relations which they bear to their Superiors. Hence untractable Prejudices ariſe, and are maintained: While Meaſures are leſs regarded, than the Party which adopts them.
But beſides This, another Circumſtance ariſeth, which inevitably tends to diſunite, and diſtract the Honeſt among the People; even when their perſonal Attachments are conquered by their Integrity. Their Diſperſion in the Country hath already been remarked, as a Circumſtance worthy of Attention. Here it meets us again, as a Cauſe of their frequent Diſunion. We have ſeen how naturally (under the preſent State of Things) every factious Clamour that riſeth in the Capital, is tranſmitted with aggravated Circumſtances, through the [Page 164] whole Kingdom. * And the People of the Villages being eaſy of Belief, becauſe not ſuſpecting the abandoned Profligacy of theſe Town-Defamers, are apt to receive every inſinuated perſonal Slander, as a Truth. Theſe Calumnies being ſeldom contradicted by the injured Party, take Root in the Minds of the leſs knowing. Hence Doubts ariſe; Surmiſes and Diſlikes are ſpread; Facts, though void of all Foundation, are alledged and perſiſted in; the more credulous Part are miſled: Thus an honeſt People are divided; and not only a Province or a Village, but even an Houſe often ſet at Variance within itſelf.
Theſe Contentions ſometimes ariſe to a Degree which is ridiculous: And have formerly been ſo deſcribed without Exception, by the Tools of Faction. Notwithſtanding This, every Friend of Liberty ought to grieve, if a free, an honeſt, and a ſenſible PEOPLE ſhould ever deſiſt (were it poſſible) [Page 165] to debate on Affairs of Government. Tho' they may be occaſionally alarmed and miſled on ſlight Occaſions, yet their mature and collective Judgment on important Subjects, will ſeldom be erroneous. On this Foundation, MONTESQUIEU'S Remark is ſolid: ‘"Tell me not, that ſuch a People will ſometimes reaſon ill:" ’ 'Tis ſufficient, ‘"that they reaſon. *"’
The Guilt and ill Conſequences, then, ariſe from the malevolent Clamours of the Capital, tranſmitted thence to the Provinces. Theſe Clamours, though not of Power to ſeduce an honeſt PEOPLE into actual Sedition, are yet often ſufficient to alarm and divide them. †
Much Caution, therefore, ought to be uſed by the Inhabitants of the Country, how they give Credit to the political Rumours of the Town; which are ſeldom ſpread without Deſign; and are in general ſpread moſt induſtriouſly by the Malevolent. They who act on good Principles, [Page 166] are apt to truſt to the native Force of Truth: The Patrons of Falſehood are conſcious of a Defect here; and therefore endeavour to ſupply it by a miſapply'd Diligence and Cunning.
One Mark of Licentiouſneſs and Faction is peculiarly applicable to theſe Clamours from the Metropolis: If they are fraught with perſonal Calumny, and attack private Characters, they aſſuredly come from the Enemies of Virtue and Freedom.
All Theſe, therefore, a ſenſible and honeſt PEOPLE will learn to ſuſpect and deride. This Foundation once laid, they will not be far from a general Union againſt the hidden Deſigns of Licentiouſneſs and Faction.
In Concluſion, therefore, let the Honeſt among every Rank and Party recollect; that their firſt and higheſt Obligations are to God, their King, and Country. That every ſubordinate Connexion ought to yield to Theſe: That true Honour can never be at Variance with the Laws of Religion and [Page 167] Virtue: That if any Deſertion be ſhameful, it is the Deſertion from Truth and the Welfare of their Country: If any Attachment be honourable, it is an impartial Attachment to the public Weal, unbiaſſed by private Affections and Regards. If any Acknowledgment be the certain Mark of a great and ingenuous Mind, it is the Acknowledgment of its own Errors, or thoſe of a Patron, Friend, or Anceſtor.
Theſe Remarks the Writer ſubmits to the Impartiality and Candor of his Countrymen; deſiring that they may be regarded as his Mite, thrown in towards the Accompliſhment of the Sovereign's Wiſh, on his Acceſſion to the Throne; that of ‘"founding the Liberty and Happineſs of this Kingdom on the ſolid Baſis of Religion and Virtue, and uniting ALL HONEST MEN in the ſteady Proſecution of this great Purpoſe.’