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stitutions? The Republic of Plato, the principality of Hobbes, the Rotation of Oceana*, have been all indicted, and found guilty of many faults, or of great infirmities. Nay, the very kinds of government have never yet been out of dispute, but equal faults have by some or other been laid to the charge of them all. An absolute monarchy ruins the people; a limited one endangers the prince; an aristocracy is subject to the emulation of the great, and oppressions of the meaner sort; a democracy to popular tumults and convulsions; and as tyranny commonly ends in popular tumults, so do these often in tyranny, whilst factions are so violent that they will trust any thing else rather than one another. So that a perfect scheme of government, seems as endless and useless a search, as that of the universal medicine or the philosophers' stone, never any of them out of our fancy, never any like to be in our possession.

Could we even suppose a body politic, framed perfect in its first conception or institution, yet it must fall into decays, not only from the force of accidents, but even from the very rust of time, and at certain periods, must be furbished up, or reduced to its first principles, by the ap

*Alluding to Harrington's treatise on government.

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pearance and exercise of some great virtues, or some great severities. This the Florentines in their Republic termed, Ripigliare il Stato; and the Romans often attempted by introducing Agrarian laws, but could never achieve it; they rather inflamed their dissensions by new feuds between the richer and poorer sort.

This one universal division in all states, which is, between the innocent and criminal: and another between such as are in some measure contented with what they possess by inheritance, or what they expect from their own abilities, industry, or parsimony; and others, who, dissatisfied with what they have, and not trusting to those innocent ways of acquiring more, must fall to others, and pass from just to unjust, from peaceable to violent. The first desire safety, and to keep what they have; the second are content with dangers, in hopes to get what others legally possess; one loves the present state and government, and endeavours to secure it, and the other desires to end this game, and shuffle for a new one one loves fixed laws, and the other arbitrary power; yet the last, when they have gained enough by factions and disorders, by rapine and violence, then change their principles with their fortunes, and grow friends to established orders and fixed laws. So the

Normans of old, when they had divided the spoils of the English lands and possessions, grew bold defenders of the antient Saxon customs, or common laws of the kingdom, against the encroachments of their own kings. So of later days, it was observed that Cromwell's officers in the army, who were at first for burning all records, for levelling lands while they had none of their own; yet when afterwards they were grown rich and landed men, they fell into the praise of the English laws, and cried up Magna Charta, as our ancestors had done with much better grace.

But laws serve to keep men in order, when they are first well agreed and instituted, and afterwards continue to be well executed. Discontents, disorders, and civil dissensions, much more frequently arise from want or miscarriage in the latter, than in the former. Some excellent lawgiver or senate, may invent and frame some excellent constitution of government; but none can provide, that all magistrates or officers necessary to conduct or support it, shall be wise men or good, or if they are both, shall have such care and industry, such application and vigour as their offices require. Now were the constitution of any government never so perfect, the laws never so just; yet if the administration be ill, ignorant, or corrupt, too rigid, or too remiss,

too negligent, or too severe, there will be more just occasions given of discontent and complaint, than from any weakness or fault in the original conception or institution of government. For it may perhaps be concluded, with as much reason as other themes of the like nature, that those are generally the best governments, where the best men govern; and let the sort or scheme be what it will, those are ill governments, where ill men govern, and are generally employed in the offices of state. Yet this is an evil, to which all things under the sun are subject; not only by accident, but even by natural dispositions, which can hardly be altered.

How can a prince always chuse well such as he employs, when men's dispositions are so easily mistaken, and their abilities too? How deceitful are appearances! How false are their


fessions! How hidden are their hearts! How disguised their principles! How uncertain their humours! Many men are good and esteemed when they are private, ill and hated when they are in office; honest and contented when they are poor, covetous and violent when they grow rich. They are bold one day, and cautious another; active at one time of their lives, and lazy the rest; sometimes pursue their ambition, and sometimes their pleasure; nay, among soldiers,

some are brave one day, and cowards another, as great captains have told me on their own experience and observation. Gravity often passes for wisdom, wit for ability; what men say for what they think, and boldness of talk for boldness of heart; yet they are often found to be very different. Nothing is so easily cheated, or so commonly mistaken, as vulgar opinion; and many men come out, when they come into great and public employments, the weakness of whose heads or hearts would never have been discovered, if they had kept within their private spheres of life.

Besides, princes or states cannot run into every corner of their dominions, to look out persons fit for their service, or that of the public: they cannot see far with their own eyes, nor hear with their own ears, and must, for the most part, do both with those of other men, or else chuse among such smaller numbers as are most in their way; and these are such generally, as make their court or give their attendance, in order to advance themselves to honours, to fortunes, to places and employments; and are usually the least worthy of them, and better servants to themselves than to the government. The needy, the ambitious, the half-witted, the proud, the covetous, are ever restless to get into public P 2


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