Jean Paul Marat
THERE is no artifice, however strange, which those at the helm have not made use of to ruin liberty, even turning against the subjects their noblest sentiments.
When the Prince foresees that he will be overpowered, he sometimes feigns to lay down arms, he expresses much concern for the public distractions, makes a shew of disinterestedness, demands leave to resign; and oftentimes the easy multitude, deceived by this act of hypocrisy, yield to their generous emotions. The Prince being then entreated to continue to hold the reins of empire, at first wavers, affects reluctance, asks time to consider it, then accepts upon certain terms, and at last lays new chains upon the people or adds to their former ones.
IF,when the people loudly reclaim their rights, the Prince has been obliged to make some concession in order to disperse the storm, he no sooner discovers a favourable turn to his affairs, but he begins to alter his tone, he complains that his justice, his religion, and his conscience have been imposed upon, he refuses to fulfil his engagements, and, though the subjects are evidently in the right, he attempts to recall affairs into dispute. In proportion as his party increases or diminishes, he says Yes or No, and without shame, without scruple, without remorse, acts that part, till his projects are secured.
The French administration seeing the bad state of the finances, the alienations, even the mortgaging of the crown-lands, was reduced during the disturbances of la Fronde, to have recourse to new ways of oppression: but as the people refused to pay the taxes, as the provinces were ready to rise, as the confederates, for want of money, were on the point of breaking off, as the enemy threatened the borders, and the regal army was in want of every thing, the regency entreated the parliament of Paris, that had complained loudly of the late vexations, to consider the times, and resolve on the means of providing for the necessities of the government. In such junctures the parliament stipulated something in favour of public liberty. But no sooner had the news of the victory of Lens reached the Court, but the regency broke their engagements, and thought only of being revenged of those members of the parliament who were the most popular *.
After the Scots had revolted against the oppressive government of Charles I. they sent him, at York, a petition for redress of grievances, to which the king answered, "That he required the petitioners to express the particulars of their desires, he having been always ready to redress their grievances." But in the mean while he was studious to make a trial of the affection of the Yorkshire gentlemen, he endeavoured to incense them, by false insinuations, against the Scots, and attempted to call together the lords of England in order to obtain a subsidy. Obliged finally to treat, he ordered his commissioners not to stipulate any important article, he wasted the time in long, preliminaries, demanded that both armies should be disbanded, or at least reduced, kept secret intelligence with the enemy's party by means of the traitorous Montrose, and concluded not till reduced to the last extremity. His perfidious duplicity did not end here. Scarcely had the parliament of England met, but Charles entreated them to declare themselves against the Scots; he solemnly assured them, that he was resolved to gain the affection of his English subjects, and promised redress of national grievances. In fine, all his measures proving abortive, he returned to the Scots, laboured to bribe the army, to draw them to London, in order to seize the Tower and make themselves masters of the parliament *.
James II. alarmed at the designs of the Prince of Orange, attempted a reconciliation with the Church of England. In a proclamation, he invited his subjects to lay aside all prejudices, jealousies and animosities; and, in order to regain their affections, he restored the bishop of London to his fee, and returned to this city the charter of its privileges. In proportion as his fears increased, he took, with reluctancy, some other steps towards the redress of grievances, he dissolved the High Commission Court, ordered the bishop of Winchester to restore Magdalen college according to its statutes, commanded the lord lieutenants of the several counties to inform of the abuses committed on the late regulation of corporations, restored to corporations their ancient charters; Popish justices of peace, mayors, recorders, and other magistrates were removed, and Protestants put in their places. Thus actuated by necessity, he destroyed with his own hands the work which himself had raised, a reform which continued no longer than his danger. Upon the news of the dispersion of the Prince's fleet by a tempest, he revoked some of his acts of grace granted to his subjects. The bishop of Winchester was recalled on some frivolous pretence, and the restoration of the college deferred. When the Dutch army had landed, the King, having great confidence in the superiority of his own forces, upon hearing that the city of London were preparing to address him for an accommodation with the Prince of Orange, declared publicly, that he would look upon all those as his enemies, who should pretend to give him such advice. But the Prince's troops being joined by a multitude of subjects, and some lords petitioning him to call a free parliament, he returned answer, "That he most passionately desired what they asked, and promised, upon the faith of a king, that he would have a parliament, and such a one as they asked for, as soon as ever the Prince of Orange had quitted this realm." He then published a proclamation for calling a free parliament; but repenting his resolution, he caused the writs that were to be issued to be burnt, and imagining that it would not be possible to call a lawful parliament without his concurrence, he threw the great seal into the Thames, that nothing might be done legally in his absence, then left his dominions to go and implore foreign assistance against his people *.
If Princes prepare themselves to subdue their subjects by force, they complain of being obliged to have recourse to violence, as if they had at heart only the welfare of the people: then, to get time for securing their projects, they propose some ways of accommodation +.
+ Whilst Charles I. levied war against his people, alarmed at the weakness of his party, he attempted to delay till he had increased his forces: accordingly, in order to amuse the parliament, he sent them the following message: "That the king had, with unspeakable grief of heart, long beheld the distraction of his kingdom, that his soul was full of anguish, till he could find some remedy to prevent the miseries of a civil war, which were ready to overwhelm the nation:" he proposed to them to appoint persons to treat with a like number authorised by him, that nothing should be wanting on his part that might contribute to secure the laws of the land. Parl. Hist. vol. xi.
But when once they are conscious of their superiority, they assume the imperious tone of masters, they have in their mouths only the words - duty and passive obedience, they require that the people should confide in their promises, and yield without terms, never willing to allow them to be free, but at their pleasure *.
If they meet with opposition, they order troops to enforce obedience to their tyrannical laws, and but too often exert severe revenge on their unhappy subjects +.
The Queen Regent, having so many times violated public faith by breaking her word, resolved to be revenged on the Frondeurs, by entirely overturning their city. But in order not to be involved in the storm she had gathered, the court left Paris. Twenty five thousand men were ordered to block up that city, and every term of accommodation was refused ++.
In the revolt of 1647 at Naples, the victory availing himself of the treaty concluded with Thomaso Aniello, artfully took out of the hands of the people the ammunition and provisions necessary for supplying the castles; then, instead of the confirmation of the treaty agreed on, he got from Spain a body of troops, and, in concert with Don John of Austria, on a sudden assaulted the Neapolitans, and entered their city, carrying every where fire and sword *.
Philip IV. having wasted the immense treasures of India, in order to carry on the bloody war he had kindled, alienated part of his dominions, and exhausted Castile; as the Catalans refused to submit to his exactions, under pretence that they were useless to the crown, he demanded vast sums of them. Incensed at such a violation of their privileges, some of their representatives had resolution enough to present a spirited address to the king; but they were immediately arrested. Upon the arrival of the news of their imprisonment, the inhabitants of Barcelona took arms, excited an insurrection in the other parts of the kingdom, and put some Castilians to the sword. Then breathing only revenge, Philip commanded a numerous body of troops into Catalonia, with orders to burn down the houses, to root up the trees, to butcher all men upwards of fifteen years of age, to mark women with an hot iron on both cheeks: and these cruel orders were executed with the most shocking barbarity *.
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DESPOTISM owes its support greatly to ignorance.
It is ignorance which, by obstructing the sight of the people, prevents them from being acquainted. with their own rights, and vindicating, them.
It is ignorance which, concealing from them the ambitious designs, the secret practices, the low artifices of Princes, presents them from obviating tyranny, from stopping the progress of lawless power, and ruining it entirely.
It is ignorance which, enforcing obedience to many false maxims, ties the hands of the people, subjects their necks to the yoke, and makes them submit with reverence to arbitrary commands.
It is ignorance, in a word, which induces the people to pay willingly to tyrants all those duties they arrogantly require, and the credulous vulgar to reverence them as if they were Gods.
In order to subdue his subjects, the Prince labours to blind them. Conscious of the unlawfulness of his own designs, and sensible of what he has to fear from clear-sighted men, he endeavours to deprive the people of every means of acquiring knowledge.
How many crafty devices have not Princes employed to oppose the progress of learning ? Some banish science out of their dominions; others prohibit their subjects from travelling into * foreign countries; others again divert the people from reflecting, by continually entertaining them + with feasts and shews, or keeping up among them the spirit of gaming +; and all stand up against men of spirit, who dedicate either their voice or their pen to defend the cause of liberty.
When Princes cannot restrain the people from freely speaking or writing, they oppose error to truth. If any exclaim against their outrageous enterprises, they at first endeavour to bribe the clamorous patriots, and to extinguish their zeal by gifts, but chiefly by promises.
If the virtue of the patriots be incorruptible, they oppose to them prostituted scribblers, who, ever ready to vindicate tyranny, abuse, from their obscure cells, the friends of liberty, exert all their malice in blackening the views of the supporters of the rights of the people, and causing them to be looked upon as disturbers of the public tranquillity.
If these artifices prove ineffectual, in order to silence the protectors of liberty, the most horrid expedients are made use of - dungeons, sword, poison.
To silence the malcontents is indeed to prevent the people from awaking out of their lethargy; but the chief point is to remove the means of extending the complaints, by suppressing all correspondence between the several parts of the state: Princes accordingly labour to restrain the liberty of the press.
At first, not daring to attack it openly, they wait till the subjects have furnished a plausible pretence for it; and as soon as such a pretence is offered, they seize it eagerly.
When a book contains very striking notions respecting the rights of the people, any bold reflections on the bounds of the regal power, some violent strokes against tyranny, they immediately prohibit the reading or selling of it, under pretence that it contains pernicious maxims against religion and good manners *.
They rise up against writings calculated to keep up the spirit of liberty and denominate libels all performances wherein is attempted to disclose the mysteries of administration, and under colour of repressing licentiousness *, prosecute authors of spirit. They go farther: in order to keep the people in ignorance, and to leave no way open to important truths, they appoint inspectors, censors, revisors, licensers of the press; - those base Arguses who constantly guard tyranny.
When any writings against their oppressive government appear in foreign countries, Princes cause the edition of them + to be suppressed, and let no book be exposed to sale in their dominions ++, unless it has been previously examined by their creatures.
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IN proportion as knowledge disappears, despotism makes its progress.
If the want of a true idea of liberty be a cause of slavery, the want of a true idea of tyranny is likewise a cause of it.
History ought to celebrate only the moderation of Princes, their wisdom, their steadiness in enforcing obedience to the laws, zeal in promoting public happiness, and tenderness for the people; but it celebrates almost always only their magnificent follies, their villainous attempts and their outrages. History ought to bestow encomiums on those Princes alone who are studious of governing the people in peace; but it seldom applauds any but Princes skilled in the art of desolating the world.
Abased by fear, seduced by hope, or corrupted by avarice, those who write history inculcate no aversion to absolute power, excite in us no horror against tyranny; they expatiate on the undertakings of a prince, when great or bold, however pernicious they be to the welfare of mankind, and however wickedly supported; they bestow encomiums on deeds for which the voice of all ages should brand with infamy the names of the authors, and basely insinuate the maxims of slavery *.
When they treat of governments, they declaim against the popular and extol the monarchical. They represent the people in a democracy, as being ever ready to yield to the seditious speeches of orators earnest in deceiving them for private views, and the state as ship without anchor on a stormy sea, continually tossed by contrary winds; whilst they compare the subjects of a powerful monarch, as a numerous family, which rests happy under the wings of a good father.
When it so happens that a province shakes off the yoke, they term the inhabitants, rebels, or revolted slaves, who ought to be again put into fetters. They describe the spirited efforts of a people against oppressions a rebellion, a guilty revolt, and the friends of liberty as perturbators of the public peace; they wrest the views of good patriots, blast their reputation, and brand their memory instead of respecting their virtues *.
If a bad Prince is informed against by a virtuous minister, according to them, he is an unfortunate master, betrayed by a perfidious servant +.
But on the Prince whose actions they record they always bestow exaggerated praises; they emphatically speak of his little deserts, extol his pretended penetration, his concern for the glory of the state, and his liberalities; they account a conquest as a very fortunate event, and describe it as the greatest epoch of his reign. Whilst writing the history of a great villain, although from the mere force of truth, they make now and then some disagreeable concessions; they ever speak so faintly of his defects, they so greatly palliate his vices, so artfully extenuate his criminal attempts, that from their descriptions no one can distinguish the tyrant who so much disgraced human nature.
The miseries of the people, during any fatal reign, they generally attribute, not to the follies or outrages of those who command, but to the irresistible influence of destiny *.
They never give to things the real names. They term the art of governing, that of spreading everywhere terror and desolation; they call magnificence pageantry and odious prodigality; they cover usurpations under the fair names of extension of power, addition of privileges, and new prerogatives acquired by the crown; extortions, rapacity, robberies, under that of conquest; craft, duplicity, treachery, perfidiousness, treason, under that of the art of negotiating; and outrages, murders, poisoning, under that of acts of great policy. Thus they succeed in destroying that impression of horror, which the bare sight of those actions ever excites in the spectator.
But as if the false pictures offered in history were not sufficient, there is every where a multitude of writers who, actuated by their base passions, are ever ready to vindicate tyranny. Authors in their dedications, poets in their verses, orators in their speeches, every one with emulation basely offers his incense; they give Princes the most flattering appellations, they call them fathers of the people, benefactors of mankind, the glory of the age, and we are so silly as to credit them.
It is not my design here to unveil the gross impostures of those writers, it is sufficiently obvious to readers not prepossessed; but I shall offer a few words on their ignorance or insincerity in those very encomiums, which even men of sense have credited.
Popular government is represented by pensioned sophists as ever stormy and unsettled. A people is restless and seditious only when leading an idle life, as the Greeks and Romans did; because, for want of private affairs, men are then always prompted to meddle with matters of state: but men, wholly engaged in private employments, are unfortunately already but too much unconcerned about the affairs of administration.
However, let this false assertion pass. Undoubtedly there are now and then some disturbances in a democratical government; but is there none in aristocratical and monarchical ones ?
Besides, these disturbances arise less from a popular constitution than from its corruption; for if the people are generally inconsiderate, if they oftentimes engage themselves in false steps, and sometimes eagerly pursue their misery, they are likewise, when not bribed, always ready to yield to men whose virtue and judgement they respect. It is the fault of the constitution if such men are not constantly set at the helm, if subjects are deprived of the means of being acquainted with their true interests, and if any individual is permitted to be powerful enough to bribe a multitude.
We are told of the frequent factions, seditions, and rebellions, in popular governments; but has a people ever took arms but to secure their liberty, to oppose the pernicious designs of ambitious men, and to free themselves from oppression ?
We are terrified at public dissensions. From the fires of discord, however, all those laws, which were made formerly at Rome in favour of liberty, took their origin; and from the fires of discord liberty has arisen among us.
Men are too easily imposed upon by the noise of civil discords. During the long disturbances which agitated Rome from the Tarquins to the Gracchi, there were but few banishments, but few imprisonments, and almost no blood shed; but from those tranquil reigns, which are so much boasted of, let as long a period less fertile in tragic scenes be pointed out; how many were incomparably more so! What mischiefs were ever caused at Rome by the dissensions of the Forum, to be compared with the horrors of the calm reigns of Tiberius, Nero, Caligula? What evils were ever suffered by any people under popular government, to be compared with those we suffered under Henry VIII. Mary, Charles I. and James II. And that so much extolled calm of monarchical states, what is it, but the sad silence of unfortunate people, who dare not vent their griefs ?
Thus the praises bestowed on governments, where the Prince is too powerful, are so many traits which point out their deformity.
Conquests are ever represented as to the most happy events in a reign. But not to speak of those acts of violence and injustice which are inseparable therefrom, what generally are conquests, but the ruin of nations, even of conquerors themselves? How dear the conquest of a new province to the ancient ones? If the pride of a monarch is sometimes indulged by the glory of being accounted a conqueror, how much is the well-being of the subjects lessened thereby! Let the benefits that a state receives from that vain glory be put in comparison with the evils it is productive of.
What did the ambition of a Charles V. avail, but to desolate Europe, to ruin his subjects, to see the conquered provinces wrested from his hands, and to force him at last to bury in a monastery his grief and shame?
What the ambition of a Philip II. but to kindle war every where, to shed torrents of the blood of his subjects, to cause the ocean to swallow up his numerous fleets, to allow no rest to his people, to squander the immense treasures of Spain and India, to ruin his extensive dominions, and to bury with himself the eclat of his crown.
What the ambition of a Charles XII. but to carry terror over Europe, to enlarge his empire, to lose in a few hours the fruits of nine years victories, and to abandon his own dominions to the sword of the enemy ?
Such are almost constantly the fruits of the ambition of Princes: - a plague the most fatal with which Heaven punishes those nations that dare not free themselves therefrom.
Writers emphatically praise the magnificence and liberalities of monarchs; why not rather censure those odious prodigalities, which in order that pageantry be displayed, and that a few individuals may abound in riches, oblige the greatest part of the nation to live sparingly, or linger in misery. But even were the people the constant objects of royal munificence, how is it possible to give them much without taking much more from them ?
Writers exhaust themselves in praising the generosity of Princes; but can Princes even possess that virtue ? What are gifts which cost nothing but the trouble of a command ?
That which is gained with difficulty and labour; or deducted from conveniency and necessity, when given with discernment; that alone, I say, is to be accounted a valuable gift. But let Princes be ever so much lavish of their favours, are they the less at ease for it ? Do they repose the less on the pillows of luxury ? Are they the less clad with purple ? Is their table the less delicate? Are their palaces the less magnificent? their groves the less voluptuous ?
When an hungry scribbler gets a pension, all is well; but the oppressed multitude groan in silence: and whilst the sighs of the unhappy sufferers remain inclosed within the walls of their wretched habitations, the praises given to bad Princes by prostituted sycophants fly through every climate on the wings of Fame.
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IT is not possible to consider the progress of power to despotism, without considering at the same time the force of opinion. How great its influence on the human mind !
Opinion formerly made the intrepid Roman shiver at the sight of the sacred chickens refusing to cat.
Opinion, penetrating the Pagan with the fear of the Gods, made him tremble, when looking at the idol he had just framed.
Opinion, reflecting the Stoick within himself, surrounds his heart with ice, prevents it from palpitating with joy amidst pleasures, from being moved to pity at the hearing of doleful cries, from shaking for fear among dangers; it consenters all his passions in pride, and, confirming him in his passive virtue, causes him to live without ties, and die without weakness.
Opinion, in a word, obstructing our sight with the bandage of superstition, subjects our necks to the yoke of priests; and its power Princes make use of in order to enchain us.
If we turn our sight upon antiquity, we shall every where see the Prince labouring to make the subjects look upon himself as upon a favourite of Heaven. Zoroaster published his law under the name of Oromasis; Trismegistes, under that of Mercury; Minos made use of the name of Jupiter; Lycurgus that of Apollo; Numa that of Egeria, etc. etc.
Every polity has some Deity at its head, and how many times has a ridiculous respect for the Gods again plunged the people into slavery * ?
In order to re-enter the citadel of Athens, whence he had been expelled, Pisistratus dressed a woman like Minerva, then mounted on a chariot with that goddess of his own making, he traversed the city, whilst she, holding him by the hand, cried aloud to the people, "Here is Pisistratus; I bring him back to you, and I command you to receive him:" hearing these words, the Athenians again submitted to the tyrant.
At present few Princes affect to be inspired; but many have recourse to the voice of the ministers of religion to subdue their subjects.
Ambitious, timid, or ignorant priests, cause Princes to be looked upon as the representatives of Deity on the earth, at whose feet other men ought to prostrate themselves in silence; then confounding obedience to the laws with obedience to arbitrary mandates, they continually preach in the name of the Gods passive submission and servitude.
Thus, to stamp on their authority a sacred character, and secure their empire, all Princes cause Heaven to interpose.
EVERY religion countenances despotism, but none so much as the Christian.
Instead of being connected with the political system, the Christian religion is universal in its principle; it has nothing exclusive, nothing more peculiar to any country than to another; it embraces equally all mankind in its charity, takes away the bar which separates nations, and unites all Christians in a fraternity. - Such is the true spirit of the gospel.
Liberty depends on the love of the patria; but the reign of Christians is not of this world; their patria is in heaven, and to them earth is a place of pilgrimage only. How then can a people, longing but for things above, be concerned for things below ?
All human institutions are grounded on human passions, and supported by them only; the love of liberty is united to that of well-being, to that of temporal enjoyments: but the Christian doctrine inspires us with an aversion for those enjoyments, and is continually combating our terrestrial inclinations. Wholly engrossed by another life, men are but little concerned about this.
To maintain themselves free, the people must have an eye ever upon government; they must watch all its motions, oppose all its illegal attempts, and curb its audacity. How can men, whom religion prohibits being suspicious, be thus watchful; how can they put a stop to the secret practices of the enemies to liberty, how detect them, how even suppose that such men exist ? Without suspicion, without cunning, without wrath, without resentment, a true christian is at the discretion of the first who forms an attempt upon him.
The spirit of the gospel is a spirit of lenity, of charity *, of peace; its disciples are full of patience and love for their enemies. When struck on one cheek, they must offer the other; when striped of their grown, they must give their cloak besides; when forced to march a league, they must march two; when persecuted, they must bless their persecutors: they are not allowed even to protect their own lives. Dragged to the altar of death, they have teas only to to oppose to their tyrant. Ever resigned, they suffer in silence, they melt into compassion for their enemies, and pray for their executioner. Patience, tears, prayers, blessings, are their only arms, and whatever is attempted against them, they never disgrace themselves with revenge; they groan, and humble themselves under the hand which strikes them. How then would they take up arms against the disturbors of public peace, how combat the usurpers of their own rights, how repel by force the enemies of liberty, how spill their blood for the sake of their country? To so many dispositions contrary to those of a good patriot, add the express command of obeying the supreme powers, good or bad, as being established by God +.
"NOTHING is more necessary to a King, than being religious, says Aristotle in his Politics, for the subjects approve of every thing as being, just, which is ordered by a godly Prince, and the malcontents are not so bold as to attempt upon one, whom they believe to be under the protection of the Gods." Accordingly most Princes endeavour to be accounted pious.
The statue of Fortune, was ever in the room of the Roman Emperors; in order to persuade the people that the Goddess watched for their safety.
From a desire of regaining the affection of his people, Henry II. affected an extreme devotion to the ashes of Becket, whom he had persecuted: and victory, crowning soon after his arms against the Scots, caused this Prince to be looked upon as a favourite of Heaven, and the audacity of opposing him, to he considered as a sacrilege *.
BUT as if it did not suffice, that the subjects should learn from the Gospel to kiss the rod of power with devotion, in order to render them more servile from principle, there is a confederacy between priests and Princes. These borrow the tongue of the divine, to subject the people to despotism: the others borrow the arm of the magistrate, to subject them to superstition.
Under the Princes of the house of Stuart who mounted the throne of England, priests were instructed to teach speculative despotism, and graft on religious affections systems of civil tyranny.
In 1622, orders were given by James I. "That no preacher, of what title or denomination soever, from henceforth should presume in any auditory within this kingdom, to declare, limit or bound out by way of positive doctrine, the power, prerogative, and jurisdiction of sovereigns, or otherwise meddle with matters of state, and the differences between Princes and the people, than as they are instructed by precedents in the homilies of obedience."
In order to render his authority absolute in Scotland, Charles I. restored episcopacy; and by his command, priests published several canons containing superstitious and arbitrary matter; among which some asserted "That the king's power and prerogative were in every thing equal to those of the Jewish kings, absolute and unlimited; that no one should teach schools without a licence from the bishop of the diocese, and that no person should be admitted into holy orders, or perform any ecclesiastical function, without first subscribing these canons."
A conformity to such doctrines was exacted through the whole kingdom, and disobedience was liable to be punished by the High-Commission Court, with deprivation, fines, confiscation, imprisonment, etc.
Any word or writing which tended towards schism was punished by the Commissioners. These inquisitons were not limited to proceed by legal information; rumour, and suspicions were sufficient grounds. To the party cited before them they administered an oath by which they were bound to answer any question that should be proposed to them, and a refusal was punished with imprisonment.
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MEAN while despotism makes its progress, and the chains of slavery become heavier.
Where despotism establishes itself by slow steps, the longer it is established, the less it is felt: it at last arrives, however, to such a degree as to force the people to open their eyes. Whenever the Prince audaciously attacks rights sacred to all * mankind; whenever he tramples under foot the objects of public veneration, or exhibits too frequently scenes of blood, the minds of men are affected with indignation, sighs are changed into complaints, a refractory spirit prevails among persons of all ranks, confusion begins to reign, and murmurs, clamours, and seditious speeches are to be heard every where. Then the authority of government every instant diminishes, its orders are disregarded, in these moments of confusion no act seems illicit, and the Prince in appearance retains a vain title only. But how many means still remain to support his overgrown power ?
If the subjects, driven to despair, at length take a tragic resolution, it seldom avails but to expose them. Whilst the insurgents loudly crave justice, the Prince in his turn sends his complaints against them, sends them deputies, magistrates, satellites, has the most audacious apprehended, treats them as disturbers of the public peace, and oftentimes the disorder is hereby suppressed.
The efforts made by the people for securing their liberty are commonly fruitless *. When the violent symptoms of universal dissatisfaction break out, unless the insurgents be headed by some great personage, unless the measures of an unruly and fluctuating multitude be planned by wise men, and carried into execution by spirited and audacious ones, the insurrection instead of being a revolt, is but a sedition - ever easily suppressed, and ever unsuccessful.
But the engaging as a leader of the insurgents is dangerous; to head a faction is to draw upon oneself all the storm; and the uncertainty of the success or the apprehensions of a miscarriage, always restrain the most resolute *.
Besides, how difficult oftentimes to excite a people to take up arms ! When Manlius endeavoured to free the Romans from the oppression of the Senate, full of zeal as long as danger was remote, they displayed the greatest audacity; but no sooner was Manlius apprehended and brought before the dictator, but they lost all resolution. In vain did this unfortunate leader entreat their assistance; neither the sight of those wounds he had received for the sake of their country, neither the view of the capitol he had delivered, neither reverence for those temples which he had prevented being prophaned, nor piety for the gods, moved them; they remained inactive spectators, and beheld calmly their chief dragged into a dungeon.
If much is ever wanting to excite an insurrection, very little is commonly wanted to suppress it.
When the Sicilians, weary of groaning under the oppressive domination of the viceroy Los Velos, had revolted; the inhabitants of Palermo placed at their head one Alexis; but terrified by the warlike preparations of Spain, they basely attempted to purchase their pardon by murdering their captain.
On the day of the first Barricades, as the populace flocked together to surround the hotel of the president Molé, - a traitor to his country, and prepared to break open his doors; Molé himself immediately had them opened, and without emotion appeared before the insurgents. Amazed at this bold step, they retired without noise, and suffered themselves to be disarmed *.
He must be very little acquainted with history who knows no instance of such want of courage in almost every revolt.
When subjects prove so little resolute, the Prince disregards their clamours, or rather silences their complaints by persisting in the same conduct which raised them; and their resentment exhales in vain murmurs.
But suppose the subjects want not resolution, their rising avails little, unless it be general. When a city takes arms to defend its privileges, if its example is not followed by the rest of the nation, mercenary troops subdue it, the Prince treats the inhabitants as rebels, and they feel their yoke lay heavier upon them *.
Notwithstanding the insurrection be general, yet how seldom is there any union between the subjects ? Commonly the people is divided into many parties, and this want of union is one of the greatest resources of tyranny. The Prince then counterbalances the respective forces of the different parties by each other, he equally avails himself of their weakness and jealousies, and crushes them with their own hands.
If the people is not divided into factions, it is the craft of administration to sow discord among them, and foment dissention.
When the representatives of the people of Venice usurped the supreme authority, as the most powerful families were divided between empire and servitude, and this usurpation had raised a spirit of universal dissatisfaction, to disunite the malcontents, the usurpers opened anew the door of the council to several families that had been shut out, restrained many others by hope, and then audaciously faced the rest.
When the Castilians took arms to vindicate their rights violated by their deputies in the Cortes assembled in Gallicia, and to obtain satisfaction for the outrages committed by the Flemish ministers, Charles V. with a view of dividing the malcontents, issued circular letters to all the cities of Castile that had revolted, exhorting them in most gentle terms to lay down their arms, published a general amnesty, promised such cities as had continued faithful, or should return to obedience, not to exact from them the subsidy granted in the late Cortes, and engaged that no office of government should be conferred for the future upon foreigners. On the other hand, he wrote to the nobles, exciting them to appear with vigour in defence of their own rights, against the exorbitant claims of the people, and instigating them, by a mean jealousy of that spirit of independence which they saw rising among the commons, to vindicate the prerogative of the crown *.
In the Commotions of la Fronde, Mazarine managed for the king, by his intrigues with the marshall d'Aumont, the party of the great army, and engaged them to depute the earl of Quincé to assure his Majesty, in the name of all the officers, of their devotion to his commands *.
In our civil wars of the last century, it was the constant artifice of the court, to sow dissention among the tories and whigs; among papists, anglicans and presbyterians.
If the intrigues of the cabinet to set the malcontents at variance prove fruitless; the measures fixed upon by the malcontents themselves to secure their liberties, oftentimes produce the desired effect. For although the subjects be all united against tyranny, all have not the same views. Every class among them has peculiar claims, the several provinces, even the towns of the same province have peculiar interests. And all these different pretencions are so many sources of discord +.
Subjects, though united against tyranny, agree very seldom in the choice of a chief; but what is more surprising, that which ought to render them unanimous, serves oftentimes to set them at variance; and this want of harmony ever ruins the interests of the people ++.
Let us suppose, however, that the malcontents are unanimous in their choice, and that they make a good one; how many resources still remain against the people ?
At first attempts are made to bribe their leaders, which are always successful, unless they be proof against every temptation.
If they prove incorruptible, the Prince endeavours to have them delivered up to him, or labours to seduce their adherents; and how many times have insurgents attempted to obtain pardon, or regain favour, with the head of their chief in their hands ?
If these measures are fruitless, Princes are acquainted with others, - sword and poison *.
Not satisfied exterminating the leaders, some Princes have involved even the whole party in the same fate.
Charles IX. of France, by incessantly persecuting his protestant subjects, forced them to revolt: as their party increased every day, and terrified the tyrant, too pusillanimous to encounter the insurgents at the head of his army, he took the resolution of exterminating them any way, and meditated this horrid project for two years. Having at last fixed on the measures to carry it into execution, he concluded with them a fraudulent peace, amused their chiefs by false caresses, neglected no pains to lull them into a fatal security, and had them, with sixty thousand of their adherents, murdered on the night of St. Bartholomew.
Popular leaders themselves sometimes ruin their own party. The great care they take to repress licentiousness, and to prevent pillaging, ever renders them odious to the rabble, who having thus no profit by the revolt, are soon weary of bearing arms for the sake of liberty alone *.
If a popular leader has much to dread from his severity, he has no less to dread from his unsuccess. The people, who obeyed hit with zeal as long as his efforts were successful, lose their spirits, and desert him as soon as fortune declares against him.
But supposing the leaders of the malcontents well manage their party, and victory befriends them, yet this avails little, unless they take advantage of every juncture.
Delay constantly ruins bold undertakings. When once the moment which was to fix fortune is let slip, all is lost; the enemy has time for recovering from his fears, and preparing himself against the intended stroke; and, even in these critical moments, the party of tyranny has great advantage over the party of liberty.
Although the Prince has levied war against his people, if he finds himself unable to attack them, in order to get time, he makes proposals of accommodation, and, whilst preparing to crush them, complains of being compelled to have recourse to violence, makes the most solemn protestations of love for the public, and displays marks of concern for the national disturbances *. The people, still dazzled by some remains of respect for royal Majesty, or seduced by an appearance of grief, almost always feel a return of affection, and oftentimes, as children who dare not lift up the hand against their parent, let their arms fall out of their hands. The Prince, on the contrary, has scarcely ever the tender mercy of a father; but considering his opposing subjects as revolted slaves, as soon as he has the power in his hands, he makes them feel the most terrible effects of his vengeance.
To avail themselves of favourable junctures is not yet enough, unless the insurgents unite their councils and arms.
When Charles V. ascended the Spanish throne, notwithstanding the spirit of dissatisfaction which universally prevailed, as the inhabitants of the different kingdoms in Spain still maintained the prejudices of their ancient rivalship, and as the remembrance of their long hostilities was still recent, their national antipathy prevented their acting in concert. Each kingdom choosing rather to depend on its own efforts, formed a separate plan, followed separate measures, and each party combated for its own liberties. Thus, for want of harmony, all their efforts proved impotent *.
Nay, although the patriots all unite in a common plan, their party is not always triumphant. Who would believe, had not experience proved it, that subjects oftentimes combat with less courage for their patria, than mercenary soldiers for a tyrant ?
If subjects oftentimes combat with less courage for their patria than mercenary soldiers for a tyrant, they generally combat with less success +; for with what disadvantage must undisciplined citizens, under chiefs unexperienced in war, take the field against regular troops, under experienced captains ?
But was the Prince's party defeated, all resources are not exhausted.
Subjects, seldom animated with a high sense of their rights, fight but to free themselves from actual oppression; never willing to purchase dearly the inestimable advantages of liberty ++. Hence oftentimes, after a few efforts, they lay down their arms; soon tired of their own agitations, they long lor repose, and, in the tranquil leisure they are permitted to enjoy, they recollect liberty but with the ideas of heavy contributions, fatigues and slaughter, the Prince, on the contrary, ever animated with a violent desire of securing his power and enlarging his authority, combats with steadiness, and stands till the last extremity.
The efforts made by the people to secure their liberty, when fruitless, serve only to confirm their servitude +++.
Notwithstanding his repeated defeats, the Prince oftentimes loses nothing. Though vanquished and at the mercy of his subjects, he maintains that haughtiness, that imperious air, that arrogance, which he displays in his prosperity; he speaks only of his prerogatives, he still presumes to give law, and generally the people suffer themselves to be deprived of the fruits of their victory *. But if once vanquished, how different the fate of subjects ! After many vain attempts to shake off their yokes, they are treated as subdued enemies; the unmerciful Prince dictates his orders with a menacing tone, and the unfortunate wretches ever patiently suffer themselves to be enslaved; they oftentimes present their necks to the yoke, and are earnest to regain the favour of their Master by ignominious submissions +.
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Jean Paul Marat