Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

unsafe for us to draw their actions into examples, except we had likewise their justifications to alledge.

The other objection is, that there being now no opposition made to the government of his highness, that the people following their callings and traffick at home and abroad, making use of the laws, and appealing to his highness's courts of justice: That all this argues the people's tacit consent to the government; and that there. fore now it is to be reputed lawful, and the people’s obedience voluntary.

To the first I answer with learned Milton, that if God com. manded these things, it is a sign they were lawful, and are commend. able. But secondly, as I observed in the relations themselves : Neither Samson nor Samuel alledged any other cause or reason for what they did, but retaliation, and the apparent justice of the actions themselves. Nor had God appeared to Moses in the bush, when he slew the Egyptian; nor did Jehoiada atledge any prophetical authority or other call to do what he did, but that common call which all men have, to do all actions of justice that are within their power, when the ordinary course of justice ceases.

To the second my answer is, that if commerce and pleadings were enough to argue the people's consent, and give tyranny the name of government; there was never yet any tyranny of many weeks standing in this world. Certainly, we then extremely wrong Cali. gula and Nero in calling them tyrants, and they were rebels that conspired against them; except we will believe, that all the while they reigned, in Rome they kept their shops shut, and opened not their temples, or their courts. We are likewise with no less absur. dity to imagine, that the whole eighteen years time, which Israel served Eglon, and six years that Athaliah reigned, the Israelites quite desisted from traffick, pleadings, and all publick acts ; other. wise Ehud and Jehoiada were both traitors, the one for killing his king, the other his queen.

Having shewed what a tyrant is, his marks and practices, I can scarce persuade myself to say any thing to that I made my third question, whether the removing him is like to prove of advantage to the commonwealth or not? For methinks it is to inquire whether it is better the man die, or the imposthume be lanced, or the gangrened limb be cut off? But yet there be some whose cowardice and avarice, furnish them with some arguments to the contrary; and they would fain make the world believe, that to be base and degenerate is to be cautious aud prudent; and what is in truth a servile fear, they falsly call a christian patience. It will not be therefore amiss to make appear that there is indeed that necessity, which we think there is, of saving the vineyard of the commonwealth, if possible, by de stroying the wild boar that is broke into it. We have already shewed that it is lawful, and now we shall see whether it is expedient. First, I have already told you, that to be under a tyrant is not to be a commonwealth, but a great family, consisting of master and slaves. Vir bone, servorum nulla est unquam civitas, says an old poet, "a number of slaves makes not a city,' So that, whilst this

а

[ocr errors]

a

monster lives, we are not members of a commonwealth, but only his living tools and instruments, which he may employ to what use he pleases. Servi tua est fortuna, ratio ad te nihil, says another;

thy condition is a slave's, thou art not to inquire a reason;' nor must we think we can continue long in the condition of slaves, and not degenerate into the habits and temper that are natural to that condition; our minds will grow low with our fortune, and by being accustomed to live like slaves, we shall become unfit to be any thing

Etiam fera animalia, si clausa teneas, virtutis obliviscuntur, says Tacitus: The fiercest creatures, by long constraint, lose their courage. And, says Sir Francis Bacon, “The blessing of Issachar and

6 thatof Judah fall not upon one people, to be asses couching under bur. • dens, and to have the spirit of lions.' And with their courage it is no wonder, if they lose their fortune, as the effect with the cause, and act as ignominiously abroad, as they suffer at home. It is Machiavel's observation, that the Roman armies that were always victorious under consuls, all the while they were under the slavery of the Decemviri, never prospered. And certainly people have reason to fight but faintly, where they are to gain the victory against themselves; when every success shall be a confirmation of their slavery, and a new link to their chain.

But we shall not only lose our courage, which is a useless and an unsafe virtue under a tyrant, but by degrees we shall, after the example of our master, all turn perfidious, deceitful, irreligious, flatterers and whatever else is villainous and infamous in mankind. See but to what degree we are come already. Can there any oath be found so fortified by all religious ties, which we easily find not a distinction to break, when either profit or danger persuades us to it? Do we remember any engagements, or if we do, have we any shame to break them? Can any man think with patience upon what we have professed, when he sees what we wildly do, and tamely suffer? What have we of nobility amongst us but the name, the lux. ury, and the vices of it? Poor wretches, these that now carry that title, are so far from having any of the virtues, that should grace, and indeed give them their titles, that they have not so much as the generous vices that attend greatness, they have lost all ambition and indignation. As for our ministers *; what have they, or in. deed desire they, of their calling but the tythes ? How do these horrid prevaricators search for distinctions to piece contrary oaths ? How do they rake scriptures for flatteries, and impudently apply them to his monstrous highness? What is the city but a great tame beast, that eats and carries, and cares not who rides it? What is the thing called a parliament, but a mock; composed of a people that are only suffered to sit there, because they are known to have no virtue, after the exclusion of all others that were but suspected to have any? What are they but pimps of tyranny, who are only employed to draw in the people to prostitute their liberty? What will not the army fight for? What will they not fight against? What

• Dr. Locker, Dr. Owen, Ms. Jenkins, &c.

are they but janisaries, slaves themselves, and making all others so ? What are the people in general but knaves, fools, and cowards, principled for ease, vice, and slavery ? This is our temper, this ty. ranny hath brought us to already; and if it continues, the little vir. tue that is yet left to stock the nation' must totally extinguish; and then his highness hath compleated his work of reformation; and the truth is, till then, his highness cannot be secure. He must not endure virtue, for that will not endure him. He that will maintain tyranny must kill Brutus, says Machiavel. A tyrant, says Plato, must dispatch all virtuous persons, or he cannot be safe; so that he is brought to that unhappy necessity, either to live amongst base and wicked persons, or not to live at all.

Nor must we expect any cure from our patience: Inxanno si gli huomini, say Machiavel, credendo con la humilita vincere la superbia. Men deceive themselves that think to mollify arrogancy with humility; a tyrant is never modest but when he is weak; it is in the winter of his fortune, when this serpent bites not; we must not therefore suffer ourselves to be cozened with hopes of his amend. ment; for, Nemo unquam * imperium flagitio quæsitum bonis artibus exercuit, Never did any man manage the government with justice that got it by villainy. The longer the tyrant lives, the more the tyrannical humour increases in him, says Plato, like those beasts that grow more cursed as they grow old. New occasions daily happen that necessitate them to new mischiefs; and he must defend one vil. lainy with another.

But suppose the contrary of this, and that his highness were vi dominationis convulsus, & mutatus, changed to the better by great fortune, of which he gives no symptoms, what, notwithstanding, could be more miserable than to have no other security for our liberty, no other law for our safety, than the will of a man, though the most just living? We have all our beast within us; and whosoever, says Aristotle, is governed by a man without a law, is governed by a man and by a beast, Etiam si non sit molestus Dominus; tamen est miserrimum posse si velit,' says Tully ; 'though a master does not tyrannise, yet it is a most miserable thing, that it is in his power to do so if he will.' If he be good, so was Nero for five years; and how shall we be secure that he will not change ? Besides the power, that is allowed to a good man, we may be sure will be claimed and taken by an ill; and therefore it hath been the custom of good princes to abridge their own power, it may be distrusting themselves, but certainly fearing their successors, to the chance of whose being virtuous, they would not hazard the welfare of their people. An unlimited power therefore is to be trusted to none, which, if it does not find a tyrant, commonly makes one; or, if one uses it modestly, it is no argument that others will; and therefore Augustus Cæsar must have no greater power given him than you would have Tiberius take. And Cicero's moderation is to be trusted with a consideration, that there are others to be consuls as well as he.

• Tacit. Hist. Lib. i.

a

а

But before I press this business farther, if it needs be any farther pressed, that we should endeavour to rescue the honour, the virtue, and liberty of our nation, I shall answer to some few objections that have occurred to me. This I shall do very briefly.

Some I find of a strange opinion, that it were a generous and a noble action to kill his highness in the field; but to do it privately they think it unlawful, but know not why; as if it were not gene. rous to apprehend a thief till his sword were drawn, and he in a pos. ture to defend himself and kill me. But these people do not consider that whosoever is possessed of power, any time, will be sure to en. gage so many either in guilt, or profit, or both, that to go abont to throw him out, by open force, will very much hazard the total ruin of the commonwealth. A tyrant is a devil, that tears the body in the exorcising, and they are all of Caligula's temper, that if they could, they would have the whole frame of nature fall with them. It is an opinion that deserves no other refutation than the manifest absurdity of itself ; that it should be lawful for me to destroy a tyrant with hazard, blood, and confusion, but not without.

Another objection, and more common, is the fear of what may succeed, if his highness were removed. One would thing the world were bewitched. I am fallen into a ditch where I shall certainly perish if I lie; but I refuse to be helped out for fear of falling into another. I suffer a certain misery for fear of a contingent one, and let the disease kill me, because there is a hazard in the cure. Is not this that ridiculous policy, ne moriare, mori, to die for fear of dying? Sure it is frenzy not to desire a change, when we are sure we cannot be worse : et non incurrere in pericula, ubi quies centi paria metu. untur* ; and not then to hazard, when the danger and the mischiefs are the same in lying still.

Hitherto I have spoken in general to all Englishmen. Now I ad. dress my discourse particularly to those that certainly best deserve that name, ourselves, that have fought, however unfortunately for our liberties, under this tyrant; and in the end, cozened by his oaths and tears, have purchased nothing but our slavery with the price of our blood. To us particularly it belongs to bring this monster to justice, whom he hath made the instruments of his villainy, and sharers in the curse and detestation that is due to himself from all good men; others only have their liberty to vindicate, we our liberty and our honour. We engaged to the people with him, and to the people for him, and from our hands they may justly expect a satisfaction of punishment, seeing they cannot have that of performance. What the people at present endure, and posterity shall sufler, will be all laid at our doors; for only we, under God, have the power to pull down this Dagon which we have set up; and, if we do it not, all mankind will repute us approvers of all the villainies he hath done, and authors of all to come. Shall we that would not endure a king attempting tyranny, shall we suffer a professed tyrant? we that

• Seneca.

[ocr errors]

a

resisted the lion assailing us, shall we submit to the wolf tearing us ? If there be no remedy to be found, we have great reason to exclaim, Utinam te potius, Carole, retinuissemus quam hunc habuissemus,

non quod ulla sit optanda servitus, sed quod ex dignitate domini minus turpis est conditio servi. We wish we had rather endur. ed thee, 0 Charles, than have been condemned to this mean

tyrant; not that we desire any kind of slavery, but that the • quality of the master something graces the condition of the slave.'

But if we consider it rightly, what our duty, our engagements, and our honour exact from us, both our safety and our interest ob. lige us to; and it is as unanswerable, in us, to discretion as it is to virtue, to let this viper live ; for first, he knows very well it is only we that have the power to hurt him, and therefore of us he will take any course to secure himself; he is conscious to himself how falsly and persidiously he hath dealt with us; and therefore he will always fear that from our revenge, which he knows he hath so well de. served.

Lastly, He knows our principles, how directly contrary they are to that arbitrary power he must govern by, and therefore he may reasonably suspect, that we that have already ventured our lives against tyranny, will always have the will, when we have the opportus nity to do the same again.

These considerations will easily persuade him to secure himself of us, if we prevent him not, and secure ourselves of him. He reads in his practice of piety, * chi diviene patron, &c. “He that makes him.

# • self master of a city, that hath been accustomed to liberty, if he de.

stroys it not, he must expect to be destroyed by it.' And we may read too in the same author, and believe him, that those that are the occasion that one becomes powerful, he always ruins them, if they want the wit and courage to secure themselves.

Now, as to our interest, we must never expect that he will ever trust those that he hath provoked, and fears; he will be sure to keep us down, lest we should pluck down him. Tis the rule that tyrants observe when they are in power, never to make much use of those that helped them to it. And indeed it is their interest and security not to do it; for those that have been the authors of their greatness, being conscious of their own merit, they are bold with the tyrant, and less industrious to please him; they think all he can do for them is their due, and still they expect more; and, when they fail in their expectations (as it is impossible to satisfy them) their disappointments make them discontented, and their discontents dangerous. Therefore all tyrants follow the example of Dionysius, who was said to use his friends as he did his bottles: when he had use for them, he kept them by him; when he had none, that they should not trouble him and lie in his way, he hung them up.

But to conclude this already over-long paper, let every man, to whom God hath given the spirit of wisdom and courage, be persuaded by his honour, his safety, his own good and his country's, and indeed

Mach. Pr. cap. b.

« ElőzőTovább »