« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
should govern as he would desire to be governed, if he were a subject, so every subject should obey as he would desire to be obeyed, if he were a prince; since this moral principle of doing as you would be done by, is certainly the most undisputed and universally allowed of any other in the world, how ill soever it may be practised by particular men.
It would be hard to leave princes and states with so ill prospects and presages of ease or success in the administration of their governments, as these reflections must afford them; and therefore I will not end this Essay, without some offer at their safety, by fixing some marks like lights upon a coast, by which their ship may avoid at least known rocks or sands, where wrecks or dangers have been usually observed; for to those that come from Heaven by storms, or the fatal periods decreed above, all the world must submit.
The first safety of princes and states lies in avoiding all councils or designs of innovation in antient and established forms and laws, especially those concerning liberty, property, and religion, (which are the possessions men will ever have most at heart.) and thereby leaving the channel of known and common justice clear and undisturbed.
The second, in pursuing the true and common interest of the nation they govern, without espousing those of any party or faction; or if these are so formed in a state, that they must incline to one or other, then to chuse and favour that which is most popular, or wherein the greatest or strongest part of the people appear to be engaged. For as the end of government seems to be the salus populi, (welfare of the people), so the strength of government is the consent of the people; which made that maxim of vox populi, vox Dei, (the voice of the people, the voice of God). That is, the governors, who are few, will ever be forced to follow the strength of the governed, who are many, let them be either people or armies, by which they govern.
A third, is to countenance and introduce, as far as is possible, the customs and habits of industry and parsimony into the countries they govern; for frugal and industrious men are usually safe and friendly to the established government, as the idle and expensive are dangerous from their humours or necessities.
The last consists in preventing dangers from abroad, for foreign dangers raise fears at home; and fears among the people, raise jealousies of the prince or state, and give them ill opinions, either of their abilities, or their good intentions.
Men are apt to think well of themselves and of their nation, of their courage and of their strength, and if they see it in danger, they lay the fault upon the weakness, ill conduct, or corruption of their governors; the ill orders of the state, ill choice of officers, or ill discipline of armies; and nothing makes a discontent or sedition so fatal at home, as an invasion, or the threats and prospect of one from abroad.
Upon these four wheels the chariot of state may in all appearance drive easy and safe, or at least not be too much shaken by the usual roughness of ways, unequal humours of men, or any common accidents. Farther is not to be provided; for though the beginnings of great fires are often discovered, and thereby others easily prevented with care, yet some may be thrown in from engines far off, and out of sight, others may fall from Heaven. In such cases, when the flame breaks out, all that can be done is to remove as fast as can be all materials that are like to increase it, and to employ all ways and methods of quenching it, to repair the breaches and losses it has occasioned, and to bear with patience what could not be avoided, or cannot be remedied.
(Sir Wm. Temple.)
I CANNOT leave this subject of Popular Discontents, without reflecting and bewailing, how much and how often our unfortunate country has been infested by them, and their fatal consequences in the miseries, and deplorable effects of so many foreign and civil wars as these have occasioned, and seem still to threaten. How often they have ruined or changed the crown: how much blood they have drawn of the bravest subjects: how much they have ravaged and defaced the noblest island of the world, and which seems from the happy situation, the temper of the climate, the fertility of soil, the numbers and native courage of the inhabitants, to have been destined by God and nature, for the greatest happiness and security at home, and to give
laws, or balance at least, to all their neighbours abroad.
These popular discontents, with the factions and dissensions they have raised, made way for the Roman, Saxon, and Norman conquests. These drew so much blood, and made so great desolations in the Barons' wars, during the reigns of several kings, till the time of Edward the Third, upon disputes between prerogative and liberty, or the rights of the crown, and those of the subject. These involved the nation in perpetual commotions or civil wars, from the reign of Richard the Second, to Henry the Seventh, upon disputes of right and title to the crown, between the two houses, or the races, of York and Lancaster, while the popular discontents made way for the succession of a new pretender, more than any regard of right or justice in their title, which served only to cover the bent and humour of the people to such a change.
In the time of Henry the Eighth began the differences of religion, which tore the nation into two mighty factions, and under the names of Papist and Protestant, struggled in their bowels with many various events, and many consequences; many fatal effects, and more fatal dangers, till the Spanish invasion in 1588. After which, the balance of the parties grew so unequal in