Jean Paul Marat
TO increase their power, Princes increase the number of placemen.
Under those Princes of the Austrian House who mounted the Spanish throne, the number of civil and military places was prodigious. There were thousands of titulars, and scarcely any man of some consideration without an office, or dignity *.
Hitherto the attempts made against liberty have not alarmed the subjects. As these changes have been gradual, and as these new manners have taken place without offending the minds of the people; far from entertaining any sinister suspicion, they believe their well-being to be augmented. But an alteration is soon to follow. Already there are no more public feasts, no more mirthful shews. Sad scenes succeed, the subjects feel their grievous situation, and futurity offers them but an afflicting perspective.
Full of himself, and conscious of his force, the Prince grows every day impatient at the idea of his dependency, and hastes to rid himself of it.
PRINCES cannot alone ruin liberty, they absolutely want some aid; and as their ministers are to be their chief tools of tyranny, they commit the execution of their dark designs to crafty men, to men without honour, honesty, and conscience. Some of the most artful confer no office, no place of any authority, but to men of new families, who being sensible that they owe every thing to royal favour, are content to support the power of the crown, though at the expense of justice and national privileges; and the better to secure their projects, they even admit but few into the cabinet.
Henry VII. ever ruled by a faction, and that by the lesser faction. To give full scope to his tyrannical rapacity, he nominated for his ministers Empson and Dudley, two profligate men, equally enabled by their knowledge in the law to pervert the forms of justice to the oppression of the innocent, and perfectly qualified to prey upon the defenceless people.
Louis XI. trusted none with the first places of government, but men that were corrupt and of base extraction: these were his sole confidents, and the ministers of his ambitious designs.
To become absolute, Charles II. established a cabinet council, known by the name of the Cabal, composed but of few men, equally destitute of honour, and virtue, even boasting of their own vices.
When we consider what sort of men Princes generally make choice of for
their servants, what are we to think of the masters themselves ?
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FAVOUR always proves sufficient to render ministers zealous, but impunity alone renders them audaciously enterprising. Princes take care therefore to protect them against the laws, and free them from punishment, whatever be the crimes they are guilty of.
Henry VIII granted to Wolsey the following pardon:
"THAT THE KING, OUT OF HIS MERE MOTION AND ESPECIAL FAVOUR, DID PARDON ALL AND ALL MANNER OF TREASON, MISPRISION OF TREASON, MURDERS, FELONIES, AND OUTRAGES WHATSOEVER, BY THE SAID WOLSEY COMMITTED, OR TO BE HEREAFTER COMMITTED."
Such was the pardon granted to the Earl of Somerset by James I. and such the pardon granted to the Earl of Danby by Charles II.
What did not Charles I. to free Strafford from punishment ? At first he refused to sign the death-warrant; next he interceded by tears and supplications; then demanded that the punishment should be commuted into perpetual imprisonment; afterwards prayed for a respite, and in fine reluctantly submitted.
Has not Louis XV. lately snatched out of the hands of justice the Duc
d'Aguillon, charged with having made an attempt to poison that troublesome
patriot - M. de la Chalotaye ?
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LIBERTY is established on the laws alone; but as the laws ever speak by the mouths of men, in order to render them delusive and useless, Princes set on the benches corrupted judges, or they corrupt those who are sitting.
The constant policy of Henry VII. consisted in nominating to every place of trust, churchmen, lawyers, and new men, who were all more dependant on him than the great.
Louis XI. studiously filled all the departments of government with men of base extraction.
Under James I. the Star-Chamber, the Council of York, the High Commission-court, etc. were wholly composed of the King's creatures, and all causes of any concern brought before them.
Charles I. bribed the judges of the high-court of justice; and not content with this, under colour of reforming abuses, granted a commission to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and other members of the privy-council, for regulating the jurisdiction of all the courts of judicature in the kingdom. These commissioners were to examine all questions, controversies, and debates, arising about the jurisdiction of the courts, civil and ecclesiastical. They were constituted with power to call before them, as often as they would, any of the judges of the said courts, or contending parties; to examine upon oath the officers and clerks; to hear and debate the questions and causes; to consider and advice on the subject: then to lay before the King the said considerations, that he might determine by his authority the matter in dispute *.
After the dissolution of the parliament held in 1634, all the magistrates, judges, justices of peace, governors and lords-lieutenants, were changed, and the most violent tories put in their places.
Charles II. used to closet the judges, to serve him his own way +.
The accounts of Graham and Burton, the wicked solicitors of James the Second's illegal prosecutions, having been inspected by the committee appointed in relation to the state prisoners, it appeared, "that, from the year 1679 to the year 1688, they had received near 40,000 pounds out of the Exchequer, which they alleged to have paid to witnesses, jurors, solicitors, counsellors, and other persons concerned in their prosecutions of indictments, informations, and trials of persons in capital and other pretended criminal causes, and in the name and on behalf of the King."
WHILST the subjects abandon themselves to dissipation, the Prince, seeing himself surrounded with men careless of watching his motions, attempts to attack liberty. But he first drops some proposals calculated to support his secret views. If the proposals pass they form a basis upon which he hastens to build. If they pass not, and yet the opposition be not strong, he takes advantage of the circumstance, has recourse to craft, endeavours to varnish over his designs with the pretence of promoting the public good *, and begs they would rely on is word; then, without being ashamed of basely perjuring himself, he takes God to witness the uprightness of his intentions, and his reverence for the laws he is about to infringe: and the people are so silly as to trust to such protestations.
At other times, those at the helm induce some of their tools to propose, in the name of the public, the projects in view; deceived by appearance, the people again fall into the snare.
Thus the ministry, during Pitt's administration, had proposed, by some pretended patriots, the settling of the militia; and the project was executed.
Thus the Court has since proposed, by other pretended patriots, the settling of the militia on the same footing with regular troops; but God forbid that this project should likewise be put in execution.
The Prince, being about to make an open attempt, in order to cast a mist before the eyes of the public, repeats feasts and shews; he gains the public confidence by performing some engagement of his own, or he keeps up the spirit of gaming *.
In order to prepare the people to receive Mazarin, the very day that this minister was to return to Paris, Louis XIV. issued out a proclamation, commanding the immediate payment of all arrears on the rentes viagères sur l'Hotel de Ville +.
The very day of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, this monarch exhibited a magnificent tournament ++; and he used to be lavish of feasts and shews, whenever he intended to invade some important branch of government, or to incroach upon the subjects.
If the Prince is making any hazardous attempt, he is ever careful to reserve some means of justification.
Charles II. having formed a design of rendering himself absolute, engaged, through the intrigues of the Duke of Lauderdale, the parliament of Scotland, held in 1669, to pass an act approving the raising of the militia, and ordering that it might be employed in any county of the crown's dominions, without any application to the king for his express order; and that it should be obliged to obey any order from the Scotch council. Thus, taking in appearance the militia out of the royal hands to put it into those of the council, it was in the king's power to order them whenever he had occasion for them, without his appearing openly to call them into England; and any complaint, in case of a miscarriage, would be brought against the council *.
IN no political constitution are the rights of the people well enough established, to prevent the arbitrary proceedings of administration: In no political constitution has the legislature been wary enough to render innovations unnecessary; and it is by means of these innovations that Princes lay the foundation of tyranny.
On any plausible pretence they begin by creating some office, some dignity, or erecting a new court of justice. At first they have this court regulated as the old ones, they then alter its form of proceeding and gradually make it arbitrary.
The power of creating peers without the ascent of parliament was contrary to the ancient laws of the realm: this power was usurped by Henry III. +
Under colour of clearing the kingdom of banditti, Edward I. established the Commission of Trial-Baton, with a power to research and punish all kind of disorders and crimes. These commissioners took their turn in the several counties, and without distinguishing the innocent from the guilty, they prosecuted on the most trifling suspicion, condemned on the slightest charge, and filled the gaols with pretended malefactors, who were permitted afterwards to redeem their liberty by paying heavy fines, with which the king's treasury was filled ++.
Under the specious pretence of easing those subjects, who had no money to prosecute their suits in the courts of Westminster, Henry VIII. without any authority from parliament, erected a council at York, the judicature of which extended over several shires. At first this unconstitutional court acted according to the rules of other criminal courts; but James I. from the very beginning of his reign, made it dependant on the King's instructions. Charles I. afterwards made it independant of every rule of law in the kingdom, and ordered those who should fly from that bloody tribunal to be dragged before it from any part of the realm.
If the Prince erects no court of justice, he changes the established forms of law, alters the tenure by which the judges hold their places, sets them above the censure of the legislative powers, makes their judgements arbitrary, and calls before them all causes.
In a statute of Henry IV. it is enacted, that the judgements given in the King's courts shall not be examined in Parliament or elsewhere unless * made by attaint and error.
Having made the power of the Star-Chamber arbitrary, Charles I. ordered all civil causes between himself and his subjects to be brought before that court: - a bloody tribunal, where right and courage were useless; where bribery and villainy were seated on the bench, holding the balance of justice; where resentment and ferocity quenched their thirst in the blood of innocent victims.
It is not however, by open and violent attacks that Princes commonly begin
to overturn the constitution; they rather undermine it; they innovate by
degrees, and make things yield insensibly to their will. If sometimes they
follow violent measures, it is only in relation to some notorious villain,
whose punishment, though arbitrarily inflicted, is always agreeable to the
people, more mindful of their own interests than jealous of their liberty,
and ever ready to confirm the unjust power which is at last to oppress them.
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TO become absolute, craft without force avails but little *.
In a free country, it is with his subjects as volunteers, that the Prince attacks the enemy; with them he makes a conquest or defends the state. But at the head of men wedded to their country he dares not make any attempt against liberty; mercenary troops are therefore thought necessary to subvert the government. Princes accordingly have all laboured, as soon as it was in their power, to have such troops; and in order to succeed, they have employed many artifices.
Charles VII. of France, availing himself of the reputation which he had acquired in expelling the English out of his kingdom, and taking advantage of the impression of terror which the enemy had left on the minds of his subjects, effected the * establishement of a standing army. Under pretence of putting the state in a posture of defence on any sudden invasion, he retained in his service a body of sixteen thousand infantry and nine thousand cavalry; he appointed officers to command them, and stationed them at his pleasure in different parts of the kingdom. Thus, instead of the auxiliary tenants of the barons, attached only to the chieftain whose banner they followed, and accustomed to obey no other command, the King had troops that were taught to acknowledge a master, to obey his orders, and expect from him the reward of their services.
Under the pious pretence of keeping always on foot a force sufficient to oppose the frequent incursions of the Moors from Africa and to resist the progress of the infidels, Ximenes, regent of Castile, issued out a proclamation commanding every city in that kingdom to enrol a certain number of its burgesses; he ordered them to be trained to the use of arms, engaged officers to command them, and took this new militia into his service *.
While we were under feudal government, the military power was lodged in the hands of the barons; but as it always proved but very little serviceable to the crown, and sometimes dangerous, Henry V. exchanged, * under various pretences, military service for pecuniary contribution, and substituted to the military tenants of the nobles a new militia, much more disposed to execute his orders. Henry's successors pursued his plan; some of them even attempted to have a standing army, and at last succeeded. Immediately after Monmouth's invasion, James II. demanded a subsidy for keeping on foot some regular troops, under pretence of being ready at any time to face a new danger +. But a standing army, properly speaking, was unknown in England till the accession of the house of Brunswick. Through the very earnest desire of George I. a considerable body of troops was taken into constant pay, to maintain the tranquillity of the kingdom, and answer the ends of the treaty of Hanover.
In the other states of Europe, the scheme of standing armies has likewise been pursued with eagerness, and executed with such success, that, the Swiss excepted, there are no patriotic soldiery; every where mercenaries stand armed by tyranny against liberty.
As these troops are raised under the specious pretence of defending the state, men tied to their country by some establishment were at first enrolled. Such soldiers proved but little submissive: in order to get soldiers more devoted, Princes were sensible that their armies ought to be composed of men, who having no property, no principle, might be ever as ready to march against their countrymen as against the enemy.
In proportion as industry increases and commerce flourishes, inequality extends itself; part of the people swallows up all the riches, the remainder abased by misery or contemptible employments, subsists only by the vices or follies of the opulent, and posses an industry which weds them to no country. Of this abject populace, destitute of all knowledge, of every virtue, of every principle of honour, without patrimony, and ashamed of their indigence, Princes compose their armies.
But as if national mercenaries were not sufficiently devoted to tyranny, Princes, to oppress their subjects, have resource to foreigners.
In France, there are in the regal armies, Swiss, Corsicans, Italians, Scotch, Irish, etc.
In Spain, there are Italians, Swiss, Germans, etc.
In Prussia, half of the troops are French or Polish.
In England, there are indeed no foreign soldiery, but several Scotch regiments are constantly stationed there, and from the good harmony which reigns between the two nations, the king resigns to them the odious part of oppressing his English subjects.
Some Princes are not satisfied with having at their command foreign soldiers, but will even keep no others.
In their expeditions, offensive or defensive, the senate of Venice have avoided, with the greatest care arming the citizens, even on the most urgent occasions *.
Most Princes have carried their policy so far as to disarm their subjects on different pretences; fearing they should ever be made sensible of their own force, and should use it to repel opression.
Under colour of public safety the regency of Spain in 1669, issued out a proclamation, forbidding the citizens of Madrid keeping fire-arms +.
In France the peasants have been disarmed under pretence of preventing their hunting; and in the whole kingdom, the capital excepted, only noblemen, military men, and honory officers of the king are permitted to wear arms.
At Venice, the wearing of arms is prohibited by the most severe law.
Thus Princes, having armed mercenary troops against the people, under pretence of securing public tranquillity, tie the hands of their subjects, the more easily to enslave them.
TO establish standing
armies avails but little, if the means of keeping them are wanting.
Accordingly Princes, whilst they laboured to get mercenary troops, have
applied themselves to appropriate funds for the regular payment of them; and
they needed only the same pretences.
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THE Prince, having now grounded his authority, forms attempts upon liberty with less caution. As it is seldom the case that a whole nation is concerned for an injured subject *, the Prince attacks the privileges of the people by incroaching upon the rights of individuals.
If the injured parties make any expostulation about the violence offered them, awed by power, too feeble to contest with the minister, or unable to bear the charges of a law-suit; they are obliged to suffer the injury, and submit to oppression. Thus the question not being determined, the outrages of the Prince pass unrepressed; and, instead of appearing firmly in support of those who suffer in the public cause, the others basely desert them, and the unfortunate fall like victims devoted to their ill fate.
If the Prince has to do with men able to contest with him, he attempts to prevail over them. If his efforts prove unsuccessful, he lets slip no opportunity to weary the adverse parties by formality, adjournment and expenses; he is intent in perplexing them by cavilling at law, in order, if possible, to prevent the matter being finally decided.
When he cannot dismiss the adverse parties, he sometimes makes an attempt upon their lives.
If sword and poison prove ineffectual, how many resources still remain ? Interest, fear, hope, pride, prejudice, craft, seduction, calumny, perjury, all are in favour of the man arrayed with honours and constituted in power.
To defend his own rights, a private man has no resource but to make application to a court of judicature, almost always presided over, and oftentimes wholly composed of ministerial tools *. Let his claim be ever so legal; justice and law, too weak against power and secret practises, are impotent supporters of his rights. Even those who argue, generally restrained by fear or respect, are not so bold as to make good his title with spirit +; whilst the counsel of the adverse party, safe under the royal banners, and emboldened by favour, extenuate it, or put upon it a false construction. Cunning is opposed to justice, sophism to reason, falsehood to truth; no pains are wanting to seduce the judges in favour of tyranny. The judges themselves, seduced or corrupted, run into oppressive vengeance; and, to gratify their interested views, prostitute justice to power ++. So that the unhappy sufferer is almost always, not only deprived of redress, but meets with new oppression, even sometimes without having been suffered to offer any thing in his defence +++.
In the causes brought before the high courts of justice against the crown under the Stuarts, the sword was always lifted up on the head of those who dared to defend the rights of the people; whilst those who were for regal prerogative, safe under the banners of the crown, urged with effrontery the most palpable falsehoods.
Thus men, fated to command, crush those who have spirit enough to inform against arbitrary acts of power; make * sophistry and clamour triumph over the most sacred privileges, and rashly complete, under the form of justice, the destruction of their enemies.
Would the evil had been circumscribed here ! But these acts of injustice soon produce many others: whilst any newly injured person complains against oppression, he is ironically answered, What do you complain of ? We do you no wrong. - See the precedents. Thus outrages pass into use; and, as if tyranny became lawful because it remained unpunished, they alledge ancient usurpations as sacred prerogatives, and plead violences formerly offered to the laws in vindication of those violences which are now offered to them *.
THE people seldom foresee their fate. Render their birthrights illusive, undermine their liberty; they perceive their miserable servitude only when they feel it, when they hear the names of the proscribed, when they see the blood of their fellow subjects, or when crushed under the yoke, they, trembling, expect the punishment they are to undergo.
The subjects, in order to maintain their liberty, ought to watch the motions of the ministry with a jealous eye. Men are never so easily undone, as when they suspect no danger; and too great security in a nation is almost always the forerunner of slavery.
But as a continual attention to public affairs is above the reach of the
multitude; in a state jealous of its liberty, there never should be wanting
some men to watch the transactions of the ministers, unveil their ambitious
projects, give an alarm at the approach of the storm, rouse the people from
their lethargy, disclose the abyss open before them, and point out those
on whom the public indignation ought to fall. The greatest misfortune,
therefore, which can attend a free country, where the Prince is powerful and
enterprising, is, that no party, no commotion, no faction agitate the minds of
the subjects. All is undone, when the people are unconcerned for public
affairs; on the contrary, liberty constantly springs up out of the fires of
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BUT in order that the efforts of watchful patriots may be attended with success, great care ought to be taken, not to alarm the people causelessly; - made dupes to many false alarms, they become at last unconcerned at real dangers.
Great care ought to be taken likewise not to alarm them upon slight occasions. If the grievances are not so apparent as to be universally assented to, there is but little hope of seeing them redressed: since the multitude are persuaded by evidence alone, and by the efforts of the multitude only are the projects of tyranny confounded.
Great care ought to be taken chiefly not to incite them to the pursuit of a
false, or even doubtful object. When the subjects proceed so far as to put
themselves in a posture of defending their rights, it is of great concern to
liberty that they be not overcome. By checks, the victory of administration is
only delayed; but by checks, the people is disheartened and abased.
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WHEN administration is censured, the charges against it ought constantly to be supported by incontrovertible facts. If the subjects, in a cause, make any inconsiderate step, it suffices to ruin their affairs. The Prince, who at first trembled under the lash of the malcontents, while they confined themselves within the bounds of prudence, triumphs as soon as they go beyond; he complains in his turn, he prosecutes those who have handled the pen; and leaving the public grievances for his private injuries, he oftentimes succeeds in making the people lose sight of the principal object. Thus the friends of liberty, who, by cautious proceedings, might have been victorious lose by a single act of imprudence the fruit of their past efforts.
Of this truth we have a convincing proof before us. While the author of
the North Briton contented himself with censuring the government, with
disclosing the secret views of the favourite, with pursuing and prosecuting
him closely, he kept the ministry in perpetual alarm, and made them tremble
under the lash of his spirited writings. But when he disgraced his pen, by
employing it in grossly aspersing the character of certain Princess, instead
of attacking arbitrary power, he furnished his enemies with weapons to his
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THE manner in which the cause of the public is defended, is not of little concern to liberty.
When tyranny is complained of, let it be always in a grave animated stile. Satirical writers attack indeed the tyrant, but not tyranny; and far from reminding him of his duty, they mortally wound his pride, they exasperate and incense him the more.
Satirical strokes avail not but to promote servitude: and although sensible men might look upon them not as upon exaggerated charges, they go not the less against the aim intended. For by affording fuel to public malignity *, they ease the peoples griefs, weaken the sense of their injuries, and prevent their resentment; they make them laugh at their own misfortunes, and patiently suffer tyranny.
THE instant of decency
likewise prejudices the cause of the public. Gross invectives indispose
peaceable men, scandalise well bred men, and alienate all those cool patriots,
who are tied but by a thread to the cause of liberty.
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IF it is of great concern
that the public cause be not defended but in a serious style, it is of no less
concern that it be pleaded in a masterly manner. All those stupid writers, who
stand forth as the champions of liberty, only prejudice it. Their languid
productions do not awaken, do not persuade, do not animate the reader; and
the languor they inspire prevents any spirited attempt.
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IT has been said, that in a state jealous of its liberty, some men ought never to be wanting to reclaim the laws when violated by the Prince, to rouse the people from their lethargy, to guide them in difficult cases, and bring them back to their rights. But as the human mind, when too long, intent upon any object, becomes weary of it; all is undone, if in exciting the patriotic zeal of the people, their spirits be exhausted, and their zeal rendered extinct.
This unfortunately has happened to us in our late dissensions. Plagued with
so many writings, and exhausted by our own efforts, we are at present reduced
to such an apathy that nothing is able to fix our attention.
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TO overturn the constitution Princes commonly undermine it, they innovate by degrees, seldom in a flagrant manner. But the people are neither attentive nor sagacious enough to observe those innovations, nor foresee the consequences of them; and if they were, they have not spirit enough to oppose them. The first innovations, however, ought to be strongly opposed, in order to maintain liberty. When once abuses are grown inveterate, with the more difficulty are they reformed, they even many times admit of no remedy.
To maintain themselves free, the people ought readily to espouse the cause of any individual oppressed by the Prince. When subjects separate their interests, they are subdued one after another, and liberty is undone. Far from being ready to protect the rights of others, every one must have seen his own rights many times flagrantly attacked, before he resolves to defend them; and it is difficult to conceive how great advantage the government takes from that want of spirit to oppose its criminal attempts, and how much it concerns liberty that subjects be not so patient.
When Charles I. began to put his impure hands into the purses of his subjects, or to offer them the shocking scene of a savage cruelty in the persons of the unfortunate wretches who were doomed to destruction, had the people taken arms, marched against the tyrant, and condemned the ministers of his vengeance to the scaffold, they never had so long groaned under the most odious oppression.
Yet I would not advise a people to have recourse at every instant to violent measures: but under colour of not disturbing the public tranquillity, quiet men do not perceive that they gain nothing by their indulgence, but to be oppressed with more impunity; that they encourage tyranny, and that when they at last undertake to stop its progress, it often proves too late.
The sacrilegious ambition of Princes prompts them to make attempts upon liberty; but the cowardice of the people alone permits their fetters to be forged. Ambitious as they are, Princes would be less enterprising if they were always to make themselves a way to absolute power by force and violence. When we peruse attentively the history of despotism, we sometimes behold with astonishment an handful of men *, keeping in awe a whole nation. That inconsiderate moderation of the people, that timidity, that fatal propensity to separate their common interests are the true causes of this surprising phenomenon; for where is the voice of the public, when every one continues silent ?
WHEN the clamours of the oppressed subjects are at length excited, the Prince strives to prevent the voice of the public from being heard: he sends his emissaries every where to seduce the meanest class of the people, and engage them to present flattering addresses, which are artfully put in opposition to the just remonstrances of the nation; then adding mockery to injury, he boasts of the lenity of his government, and endeavours to make the multitude of the malcontents pass for an handful of illminded people *.
But the better to conceal national grievances, the Prince kindly receives those addresses which approve of his conduct, and distinguishes the bringers with particular marks of favour; whilst those who venture to present addresses in a contrary style are received with evident * tokens of displeasure, if they are not even denied admittance.
Not satisfied with discouraging those who might have presented disagreeable addresses, the Prince silences the printers of news who are not devoted to him, whilst others are allowed to publish daily invectives against the patriotic party, and bestow encomiums on the administration.
If these measures do not succeed, the leaders of the malcontents are bribed, and engaged to extinguish the zeal of their own adherents +.
IT is a maxim in the cabinet, that the injuries offered to the people, if they remain unredressed, acquire to the crown the prerogative of offering them new ones. Accordingly, when public grievances are brought before a supreme tribunal, the prince makes use of every possible artifice to prevent this taking cognisance of them; he attempts to divert therefrom the attention of the judges, by laying before them new objects +, or prevails upon the president to dissolve the assembly when about taking any spirited resolution ++.
If these artifices prove abortive, he labours to set the senate at variance, by exciting jealousies among its * members, by bribing some and intimidating others +.
If this proves not sufficient, he removes the patriotic members by nominating them to places *, which incapacitate them from having a seat in the senate; or if there be no other mean, he stops all proceedings by proroguing the session.
When the Prince dares not prorogue it, from a consideration of the administration being charged with misdemeanours, if called to an account, he attempts to clear himself, endeavours to extend a veil over all his illegal transactions, by exempting his ministers from appearing before any judge +.
If the Prince entertains some suspicious of his creatures, lest they should reveal the fatal secret they have been trusted with, he is before-hand with them, and himself charges them with misdemeanours ++.
If any fatal discovery is made, the Prince throws all the blame upon bad counsellors, and requests the judges to be tender of his honour. To prepare them in his favour, he affects to reform his administration *, endeavours to clear himself, promises redress of grievances, entreats them to confide in his word, and without shame of being guilty of perjury, calls God to witness the sincerity of his intentions +.
If they refuse to yield to his vague promises, he offers some equivalent to the desired satisfaction, or makes some specious concessions.
After so many fruitless attempts to prevent the redress of public grievances, if the Prince is at last obliged to yield, he submits; but as soon as he discovers the consequence of his concessions, he endeavours to recall what has been done +, and again gives full scope to his illegal proceedings.
THE subjects, to keep themselves free, have no other means but watchfulness, spirit and virtue; the Prince, to subdue them, has so many means that he is embarrassed only in his choice of them: that, however, which he mostly makes use of is cunning. People are easily deceived in many things, and those at the helm take advantage of it.
When the oppressed subjects are about taking some resolution in order to oppose the progress of tyranny, they always meet with some obstacle. Let them form what design they please, the Prince prevents the execution of it immediately. Let them entreat the redress of grievances, their petitions are fruitless; the Prince alledges his scruples, refuses to comply, and oftentimes returns mockery to their complaints; he answers, "That he is always ready to hear the grievances of his subjects; that he is never so much concerned as about the well-being of his people," and dismisses them with fair words.
If the subjects persist in their resolution, the Prince persists in his conduct. Ever applying their minds to the maxims of a fraudulent policy, those at the helm learn the art of not being disheartened by difficulties, of taking advantage of the weakness of men, of cajolling into acquiescence the easy multitude; and as it is their method, when they mean to prevail over the people, to promise them every thing, with a view of performing none; whilst the malcontents are earnest in their request, the Prince amuses their credulity with fair promises, and without any shame of breaking his word, repeats this mean artifice.
In the time of la Fronde, public safety having been attacked by many arbitrary exiles and imprisonments, the parliament of Paris at last obtained from the king a law * for securing the liberty of the subject; but soon after this law was infringed in the person of Chavigni. When the parliament remonstrated against this infraction, they were answered by the Queen Regent, "That the imprisonment complained of ought to deter no body, that she passed her word for public safety, and that her word would be inviolable." She broke, however, that inviolable word not long after, in respect to the Princes of Condé and Conti. The parliament remonstrated again, and again the Regent assured them, "That for the future the law should be strictly observed +." Thus Princes mock the people.
If incensed at so many false promises, and weary with seeing their hopes so many times baffled, the malcontents exclaim loudly for justice, the Prince even then attempts to delay; he sends them deputies to amuse them, he stops the provoked multitude, diverts their fury, or cools it by vain consultations, till the moment when he can without danger encounter them +.
If he is forced to treat, he at first makes them such offers as he knows will be rejected, next he makes proposals more reasonable but expressed in a vague manner, calculated to conceal his duplicity, and which binding him to no particular obligations, leaves him always master of the terms of accommodation; or he adds to clear concessions some obscure clause which renders them void, if false engagements rather are not taken.
Alarmed at the secession of the people to the Sacred Mount, the senate of Rome seeing themselves obliged to treat, made it their only business to stipulate in a vague manner the rights of the tribunes who had been just elected, in order to make no grant to the Plebeians, or rather to secure a pretence for recovering their grants at more favourable junctures.
In 1641, Charles I. wanting to find, for the legislative body, employment of such consequence as should engross their whole attention, and make the people believe he was willing to consent to whatever should be productive of a perfect reconciliation between him and his parliament, whilst he was making preparations to vindicate his own terms, sent them the following message: "That they would with all speed fall into consideration of all those particulars which they should hold necessary, as well for the upholding and maintaining his Majesty's just and regal authority, and for the settling his revenues, as for the present and future establishment of their privileges, the free and quiet enjoying their estates and fortunes, the liberty of their persons, the security of the true religion now professed in the Church of England, and the settling of ceremonies in such a manner as should take away all just cause of offence. Which when they had digested and composed into one entire body, that so his Majesty and themselves might be able to make the more clear judgement on them, it should then appear, by what his Majesty should do, how far he had been from intending and designing any of those things which the too great fears and jealousies of some persons apprehended, and how ready he would be to exceed the greatest examples of the most indulgent Princes in their acts of grace and favour to their people *"
In the insurrection of 1647 at Naples, as the people entreated the delivery of the charter of their privileges, the Viceroy, solely intent on dissipating the impending storm, ordered a copy of it to be forged, which he tendered for the original +.
To the fury of the insurgents empty sounds only are oftentimes opposed. Some men, skilled in the art of seducing the people, preach to them, and the easy multitude yielding to fair words, become the sport of a few florid orators.
Even a single tale is sometimes sufficient to baffle the designs of revolted subjects.
Weary of the oppression of the Senate, the Roman people had just abandoned their Lares to go in search of an asylum far from their cruel country, when Menennius Agrippa, by command of the senate, goes to the malcontents on the Sacred Mount, delivers them a tale, and brings them back to their native city *.
TO defeat the people, the Prince sometimes opposes to them even their own supporters.
Considering the esteem of the public for their leaders as destructive of his projects, mercenary scribblers are engaged for attempting to vindicate the proceedings of administration, for aspersing popular men, and defaming those who are so spirited as to oppose the villainous attempts of power. A prostituted multitude are directed to go from place to place to spread rumours calculated to excite the people to entertain suspicions of the popular leaders, and ruin the confidence of the public towards them +.
Sometimes attempts are made to engage the popular leaders to disgrace themselves.
As Manlius incited the Romans to set themselves free from the tyranny of the Senate, the Senators had him apprehended; but being obliged to set him at liberty in order to suppress the sedition, they laboured to make him appear odious to the people. Accordingly they charged him with aspiring to royalty, they raised him several accusers from among the populace, and thus turned his adherents into judges and enemies *.
During the minority of Louis XIV. as the parliament of Paris exclaimed aloud against the odious exactions made on the subjects; with a view of engaging the magistrates to defend for the future their own interests only, and thus to disgrace and ruin themselves in the minds of the people, the Regent encroached upon their rights, by appropriating to government for a while their salaries +.
When Barnevelt set himself against Maurice of Nassau, who attempted to assume a monarchic power over Holland, Maurice caused him to be charged with being the head of the Arminians; and under that pretence had him dragged into a prison by his ungrateful fellow citizens, and thence to a scaffold.
Another extraordinary artifice sometimes made use of by Princes, in order to confound the designs of the subjects, is the setting against popular leaders some corrupted men, who, by going much beyond the request of the leaders, labour to make them appear endowed with but little patriotic zeal.
With a view of delivering the people from the oppression of the Nobles, the Tribune C. Gracchus proposed a law advantageous to the plebeians; but the Senate abstained with great care from any opposition; on the contrary, they engaged L. Drusus to go beyond the request of his colleague, and to publish, in the: mean while, that Caius was only the tool of the Senate. Deceived by such artifice, the Romans were at a loss to know which they ought to adhere to, and thus had their hands tied by that false protestor *.
THE Prince has a thousand means for attacking liberty, the subjects but few for defending it; and it is not easy to imagine how narrow is the way whereon they can walk with safety. Whom he commits with impunity so many outrages upon the laws; they, on the contrary, are ruined by the least fault. If the people show themselves but little resolute, they are insulted without pity. If they give proofs of great resolution, they are provoked beyond the bounds of prudence. If they pass over those bounds, they are attacked even in their very entrenchments. The Prince in his turn vents complains; he has recourse to the courts of justice, drags before them those malcontents who prove the most audacious, and cries for vengeance.
Then, too weak against power and secret practices,
justice avails them nothing; and the Prince completes
the destruction of his enemies, by the very laws which
were intended to protect them.
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Jean Paul Marat