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and services to the commonwealth; nor had they more credit than others for any other reason, than they shewed themselves most forward in procuring the public good, and by their valour and conduct best able to promote it.
Whatsoever happened after the overthrow of their liberty, belongs not to my subject, for there was nothing of popularity in the judgments that were made. One tyrant destroyed another; the same passions and vices for the most part reigned in both; the last was often as bad as his predecessor whom he had overthrown and one was sometimes approved by the people for no other reason, than that it was thought impossible for him to be worse than he who was in possession of the power. But if one instance can be of force amongst an infinite number of various accidents, the words of Valerius Asiaticus, who, by wishing he had been the man that had killed Caligula, did, in a moment, pacify the fury of the soldiers, who were looking for those that had done it, shew, that as long as men retain any thing of that reason which is truly their nature, they never fail of judging rightly of virtue and vice; whereas violent and ill princes have always done the contrary, and even the best do often deflect from the rules of justice, as appears not only by the examples of Edward the First and Third, who were brought to confess it, but even those of David and Solomon.
Moreover, to shew that the decision of these controversies cannot belong to any king, but to the peo
ple, we are only to consider, that as kings and all other magistrates, whether supreme or subordinate, are constituted only for the good of the people, the people only can be fit to judge whether the end be accomplished. A physician does not exercise his art for himself but for his patients; and when I am, or think I shall be, sick, I send for him of whom I have the best opinion, that he may help me to recover, or preserve, my health; but I lay him aside if I find him to be negligent, ignorant, or unfaithful; and it would be ridiculous for him to say, I make myself judge in my own case, for I only, or such as I shall consult, am fit to be the judge of it. He may be treacherous, and through corruption or malice, endeavour to poison me; or have other defects that render him unfit to be trusted; but I cannot by any corrupt passion be led wilfully to do him injustice, and if I mistake, it is only to my own hurt. The like may be said of lawyers, stewards, pilots, and generally of all that do not act for themselves, but for those who employ them. And if a company going to the Indies should find, that their pilot was mad, drunk, or treacherous, they whose lives and goods are concerned, can only be fit to judge, whether he ought to be trusted or not, since he cannot have a right to destroy those he was chosen to preserve ; and they cannot be thought to judge perversely, because they have nothing to lead them but an opinion of truth, and cannot err but to their own prejudice. In the like manner, not only Solon and Draco, but Romulus, Numa, Hostilius, the consuls, dictators, and decemviri, were not distinguished from others,
that it might be well with them, "sed ut bonum, felix, faustumque fit populo Romano," but that the prosperity and happiness of the people might be procured; which being the thing always intended, it were absurd to refer the judgment of the performance to him who is suspected of a design to overthrow it, and whose passions, interests, and vices, if he has any, lead him that way. If king James said any thing contrary to this, he might be answered with some of his own words :* "I was," says he, "sworn to maintain the laws of the land, and therefore had been perjured if I had broken them." It may also be presumed, he had not forgotten what his master Buchanan had taught in the books he wrote chiefly for his instruction, that the violation of the laws of Scotland could not have been so fatal to most of his predecessors, kings of that country (nor as he himself had made them to his mother) if kings were above them.
* Speech in Star-chamber, 1616.
De jure reg. apud Scot.
↑ Hist. Scot.
THAT KINGS WILL
A GENERAL PRESUMPTION
"BUT," says our author, "yet will they rule their subjects by the law; and a king governing in a settled kingdom, leaves being king, and degenerates into a tyrant, so soon as he ceases to rule according unto his laws: yet where he sees them rigorous or doubtful, he may mitigate or interpret." This is therefore an effect of their goodness; they are above laws, but will rule by law, we have Filmer's word for it. But I know not how nations can be assured their princes will always be so good: goodness is always accompanied with wisdom, and I do not find those admirable qualities to be generally inherent or entailed upon supreme magistrates. They do not seem to be all alike, and we have not hitherto found them all to live in the same spirit and principle. I can see no resemblance between Moses and Caligula, Joshua and Claudius, Gideon and Nero, Samson and Vitellius, Samuel and Otho, David and Domitian; nor indeed between the best of these and their own children. If the sons of Moses and Joshua had been like to them in wisdom, valour, and integrity, it is probable they had been chosen to succeed
them; if they were not, the like is less to be presumed of others. No man has yet observed the moderation of Gideon to have been in Abimelech; the piety of Eli in Hophni and Phinehas; the purity and integrity of Samuel in Joel and Abiah, nor the wisdom of Solomon in Rehoboam. And if there was so vast a difference between them and their children, who doubtless were instructed by those excellent men in the ways of wisdom and justice, as well by precept as example, were it not madness to be confident, that they who have neither precept nor good example to guide them, but, on the contrary, are educated in an utter ignorance or abhorrence of all virtue, will always be just and good? or to put the whole power into the hands of every man, woman, or child, that shall be born in governing families, upon a supposition, that a thing will happen, which never did? or that the weakest and worst will perform all that can be hoped, and was seldom accomplished, by the wisest and best, exposing whole nations to be destroyed without remedy, if they do it not? And if this be madness in all extremity, it is to be presumed, that nations never intended any such thing, unless our author proves, that all nations have been mad from the beginning, and must always continue to be so. To cure this, he says, "they degenerate into tyrants ;" and if he meant as he speaks, it would be enough. For a king cannot degenerate into a tyrant by departing from that law, which is only the product of his own will. But if he does degenerate, it must be by departing from that, which does not depend upon his will, and is a