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bles of the times are not to be attributed wholly to wilfulness or faction-neither to the misgovernment of the prince nor the stubbornness of the people; but to a change in the balance of property, which since Henry the Seventh's time has been daily falling into the scale of the commons, from that of the king and the lords.
This is a distinct statement of the principle (which is developed in his work) that “Empire follows the balance of property"--a principle of fundamental importance in politics, and for the discovery of which we are indebted to Harrington. Ever intent upon giving currency to his principles, he was member of a club called the Rota, which met in the evening in New Palace Yard, Westminster, where he delivered discourses on topics connected with his particular systein of politics.
After the restoration, Harrington was visited. among others, by a noted royalist, probably with an insidious design, who solicited him to draw up instructions for the king, by which he might be enabled to govern, with satisfaction to the people and safety to himself. This was performed; but the spirit of these instructions
ill accorded with the selfish views of some of the courtiers; and on the 28th of December, 1661, he was seized parsuant to an order from his majesty, by sir William Poultney and others, for treasonable designs and practices, and committed to the Tower. He was afterwards examined concerning a plot he was said to have contrived against his majesty's person and government; but no proof appearing against him, he was ultimately released. He died in 1677.
The Oceana (by which England is designated) is a political Romance, divided into four parts. 1. The Preliminaries, shewing the principles of government. 2. The Council of Legislators, shewing the art of making a commonwealth. 3. The Model of the Commonwealth of Oceana, shewing the effect of such an art. 4. The Corollary, shewing some consequences of such a government.
In the following passages we have a statement of his general principles.
There is a common right law of nature, or interest of the whole ; which is more excellent, and so acknowledged to be by the agents themselves, than the right or interest of the parts only. “Wherefore,
though it may be truly said, that the creatures are naturally carried forth to their proper utility or profit, that ought not to be taken in too general a sense; seeing divers of them abstain from their own profit, either in regard of those of the same kind, or at least of their young*.”
Mankind then must either be less just than the creature, or acknowledge also his common interest to be common right. And if reason be nothing else but interest, and the interest of mankind be the right interest, then the reason of mankind must be right reason. Now compute well; for if the interest of popular government come the nearest to the interest of mankind, then the reason of popular government must come the nearest to right reason.
But it may be said, that the difficulty remains yet ; for be the interest of popular government right reason, a man does not look upon reason as it is right or wrong in itself, but as it makes for him or against him. Wherefore, unless you can show such orders of a government, as like those of God in nature, shall be able to constrain this or that creature, to shake off that inclination which is more peculiar to it, and take up that which regards the common good or interest ; all this is to no more end, than to persuade every man in a popular government not to carve himself of that which he desires most, but to be mannerly at the public table, and give the best from himself to decency and the common interest, But that such orders may be established, as may, nay, must give the upper hand in all cases to common right or interest, notwithstanding the nearness of that wbich sticks to every man in private, and this in a way of equal certainty and facility, is known even to girls, being no other than those that are of common practice with them in divers cases. For example, two of them have a cake yet undivided, which was given between them : that each of them therefore may have that which is due, divide, says one to the other, and I will chuse; or let me divide, and you shall chuse. If this be but once agreed upon, it is enough; for the divident, dividing unequally, loses, in regard that the other takes the better half; wherefore she divides equally, and so both have right. O the depth of the wisdom of God! and yet by the mouths of babes and sucklings has he set forth his strength; that which great philosophers are disputing upon in vain, is brought to light by two harmless girls, even the whole mystery of a commonwealth, which lies only in dividing and chusing. Nor has God (if his works in nature be understood) left so much to mankind to dispute upon, as who shall divide and who shall choose, but distri, buted them for ever into two orders, whereof the
one has the natural right of dividing, and the other of chusing. For example: ...
The Orders of Popular Gorernment in Nature.
A commonwealth is but a civil society of men : let us take any number of men (as twenty) and immea diately niake a commonwealth. Twenty men (if they be not all idiots, perhaps if they be) can never come so together, but there will be such a difference in them, that about a third will be wiser, or at least less foolish, than the rest; these upon acquaintance, though it be but small, will be discovered, and (as stags that have the largest heads) lead the herd: for while the six discoursing and arguing one with another, shew-the eminence of their parts, the fourteen discover things that they never thought on; or are cleared in divers truths which had formerly perplexed them. Wherefore in matter of common concernment, difficulty, or danger, they hang upon their lips as children upon their fathers; and the influence thus acquired by the six, the eminence of whose parts is found to be a stay and comfort to the fourteen, is (authoritas patrum) the authority of the fatherş. Wherefore this can be no other than a natural aristocracy, diffused by God throughout the whole body of mankind, to this end and purpose ; and therefore such as the people have not only a nao