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of party, and, with all that, a coward. Would it be any won. der then, when Lepidus was ruined, if he, in his familiar correspondence, had expressed himself with bitterness against Les pidus and all that belonged to him ? Would it be any wonder, if such a man had rejoiced and exulted in the misfortune of his adversary; or if his fears had carried him even to with deAruction and extirpation to a family, whose recovery might have proved the ruin of him and his ! But, after all this, Cicero is an author who should be quoted with some care ; for, whether from these reasons, or any other, as his public conduct was a scene of contradictions, so he contradicts himself in his writings too. Of this, I recollect an instance to the very point: In his book De Natura Deorum, he positively says, that no man could bear to live in a country, where the fon and the grandfon should be punished for the crimes of their grandfather and father. If, therefore, I should allow the Honourable Gentleman, that his letter to Brutus was (as it is not) a genuine letter, which would be the best authority? Cicero, in a familiar letter,, in an únguarded, heated, fearful ftate? Or Cicero in his study, writing upon the most serious subject, and upon the express subject; and using the utmost care, and the utmost res flection, to deliver down a system of religion or morality to future ages?
The learned Gentleman then goes on to inform us, that the laws of Greece bore hard upon the innocent; and that the children of Themistocles were disinherited and banished for the crimes of their father. First, as to this, there is no example upon earth will ever weigh with a reasonable man to do that which is, in itself, either cruel or unjust. And next, as to the laws of Greece, the Gentleman means, and must mean chiefly, the laws of the Athenians; for of the laws of the other Grecian states we know but little ; and as to these laws of the Athenians, they have been universally considered, in all ages, as the most severe and unjust that ever any people eve lived under, excepting those of their neighbours, the MacedoR2
nians and the Perfians, who extirpated whole families for the crime of one single offender. But even here, as to Themistocles, the learned Gentleman is again mistaken; for the children of Themistocles were not banished for their father's crime. Themiftocles was accused of a misprision of treason, in not divulging what he knew of the conspiracy of Paufanius against the Greeks in favour of the Persians. Whether he was guilty of this crime or not, did never appear; for he was never tried for it. He fled, his children Aed to him, and so became participes crimines. They abandoned their own country, and were therefore punished for their own fault; they retired to Persia, and made themselves fubject to another State, where they obtained distinguished privileges and great eftates. Plutarch particularly tells us this, and that their descendants particularly enjoyed these privileges in Magnesia which they received of Xerxes, even in his own time, which was near fix hundred years after.
I now come to speak of our ancient and modern Constitu-tion, with which the Honourable Gentleman fays this clause is perfeElly consistent. Perhaps I may be thought too venturous, when I contest this point with a Gentleman so eminent in his profession ; but, Sir, I think I am well founded in maintaining the contrary. As to our Constitution, we seldom hear it talked of with common sense. You inay find, in what men commonly call our Constitution, arguments and examples for any thing you will. Nothing is so vague and unsettled as our Constitution was for many centuries. If a man stands up for the prerogative, he may quote you powerful precedents from the reigns of Richard the IId, and other Princes like him :. another man, to enforce popular and romantic projects of reformation, may quote upon you things equally extravagant on another side, by turning his eye upon our histories in times when popular fury has overborne this Government. For my own part, therefore, I never knew how to ascertain the Constitution of this Country in any degree, but in two periods; the Saxon times before the Conquest; the present Æra fince
the Revolution. The intervening space between these two was all confusion ; a chaos of contradictions in the regulations of this State ; an eternal struggle for uncertain power between the Barons and the Crown, the Crown and the people, of the people against both.
Lord Perceval, May 3, 1744. ·
Men will always be more governed by their passions than their reason; and it is so difficult to foresee and determine what is most for the public good, that men are apt to determine that, to be the most for the public good, which best suits with their own private views and passions. This is the cause, that where the people have too great a share of the Government in their hands, the peace of the State must always be disturbed with parties and factions : and as the vulgar, great as well as small, have generally very little foresight, and are violent in the pursuit of every passion, this always, at last, furnishes the leader of some party or faction, with means to overturn the constitution of their Government, and to usurp to himself a sole and arbitrary power.
I could demonstrate this theorem, Sir, from observations upon the history of almost all the Commonwealths that ever had a being, and are now no more; but as the Roman History is best known, and most adapted to this purpose, I shall confine my observations to this history alone. After the expulsion of their Kings, and the establishment of a republican form of government, the people got, it is true, immediately, a very great share in the government, by the law that introduced an appeal to the people ; for which the chief promoter got the name of Publicola. By this, and by the election of their annual Magistrates, the people had, I say, a very great share of the government : but for many years it was in appearance only; for the Senate and chief Patricians, even after the Tria bunes of the people were instituted, had so much influence among the people, that they preserved in their own hands the whole of the Administration, by getting the people to chuse
kuch Magiftrates as they directed, and to make such decrees upon appeals as they thought proper and just : but the people, spirited up by popular leaders, were every day aiming at getting more and more power into their hands; and by the fame means the influence of the Senate and the chief Patricians, grew every day less and less. The first conquest the people made upon the Senate, was that of obtaining the establishment of the Tribunes, with most extraordinary powers : and the next they made was, the obtaining a law for the allowing of marriages between Patricians and Plebeians. About the same time, they got introduced the custom of chusing Military Tribunes in the place of Confuls, because the Patricians would not allow that any Plebeian could be chosen a Consul, wltereas a Plebeian might be chosen a Military Tribune; and by means of this dispute, the Commonwealth came to be governed for many years by Military Tribunes instead of Consuls ; though such was the modefty of the people, that for above fifty years after this fort of magiftracy was first introduced, no Plebeian could get himself chosen a Military Tribune. But the greatest conquest which the People of Rome ever obtained over the Senate and Patricians, was the law for rendering a Plebeian capable of being chosen a Consul; for from that time the influence of the Senate diminished very fast, and the people began to grow every day more licentious. · Thus, Sir, a way being opened for popular leaders, whether Patrician or Plebeian, to arrive at the chief dignities and magiftracies of the State, and the people having got almost entirely into their own hands the conferring of those honours, and ree peating them as often as they pleased, a popular leader at laft put an end to the liberties of the people for a time, and foon after him, another popular leader put an end to them for ever. When I say this, every Gentleman must fuppofe, I mean Caias Marius, and Julius Cæsar, names well known to those who are versed in the Roman History. Marius, though of mean extraction, even among the Plebeians, raised himfélf to such
favour among the people of Rome, by his success in war, and by patronizing every popular law proposed, that he was chosen Conful for three years fucceffively, which enabled him to continue himself by force or corruption in the same high office for three years more, in spite of all that the Nobles of Rome could do against him. I say Nobles, Sir; for by admitting Plebeians into all high offices, the distinction between Patricians and Plebeians had by this time begun to be forgot, and the distinction that came in its place, was that of the Nobles and the People. It is true, the Nobles, by the help of Sylla's army, got the better of Marius, and drove him into exile in Africa ; but the very next year; Sylla being gone with his army into Greece, against Mithridates, Marius returned, and joining with Cinna, after a terrible slaughter of the Nobles, he seized upon the city and government by an armed force, which his party held by the fame means after his death, till Sylla returned with his army from Asia; and after several victories, destroyed all the heads of that party, and restored what was called the party of the Nobles, referving, however, to himself a dictatorial power.
Did these misfortunes, Sir, render the people of Rome more wise ? Did they from thence learn not to aim at more power than · they knew how to make use of, or not to put more confidence in their pretended patriots than they deserved ? No, Sir, prefently after Sylla's death, Julius Cæfar, though he was of noble extraction, put himself at the head of the popular party, and patronized every proposition that tended to increase the power of the people : because from the experience of what happened in Sylla's time, he faw, that that was the only party that would support him in, as well as raise him to arbitrary power. By patronizing Agrarian, and such other laws, be recommended himself to great favour amongst the people ; and as he knew that military glory and a good army were necessary to raise him to the highest pinnacle of power, he made use of that favour for obtaining the government of Transalpine Gaul; to which he got, by the fame favour, the provinee of Cisalpino Gaul after