Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

he loses his real liberty to enjoy the shadow ; and the more he studies to dislike the government, under which he lives, the farther he is off his real freedom.

While he is modeling governments he forgets that no government was ever made by model ; for they are not built as houses are, but grow as trees do; and as some trees thrive best in some soil, some in another, so do governments; though none equally in any, but all generally, where they are most naturally produced: and, therefore, it is probable, that the state of Venice would be no more the same in any other country, if introduced, than the trade of glass making*. To avoid this, he calculates his model to the elevation of a particular clime, but with the same success (if put in practice) as almanack makers do, to serve only for a year; and his predictions of success would be according, but nothing so certain as their fair and foul weather. He has not judgment enough to observe, that all governments are merely Utopian, which have no territory but in books, nor subjects but in hot heads and strong fancies; that Plato's republic is much wiser than any of his size, and yet it has been a long while in the world quite out of employment, and is like to continue so, till his great year, a sad discouragement to a state projector. But his republic is like to have a harder province; for without a previous rebellion nothing is to be expected, and then that is to prosper, or else all is lost; pext the nation is to fall into ruin and confusion, just in the order which he has designed, otherwise it will be to no purpose. Then nothing is to intervene; but after so many alterations the sume persons are to out-live all, and continue still in the same mind, especially those in power, and their interests to be the very same as they are at present, else nothing is to be done. Aster all this, if nothing else interpose but the will of God, a model of a republic may, if the times will bear it, be proposed; and if it be thought to go no further, the proposers shall be thanked, and be told, that it shall be taken into consideration, or is so already; and then things will remain as they are now. And this is all the possible rotation our speculative state botcher can in reason promise to himself, to make those of his party who have any sense, to believe. He has a fancy (for it is no more) to a commonwealth, because he has seen the picture of it; which no matter whether it be true or false, it pleases his humour, though it be nothing but a great corporation : for it is but calling the mayors of a good town, consuls; the aldermen, senators;

* Venice was celebrated for its manufacture of glass.

the churchwardens, ædiles; and the parson Pontifex Maximus, and lo! the thing is done. Most persons of this sort are haranguers, who will hold any argument, rather than their tongues, and like this government more than any

ther, because every man has a voice, and the greatest orators prove the ablest statesmen.

Qur republican has a mind to be a piece of a prince, though bis own whole share of highness will not amount to the value of a pepper-corn yearly if it be demanded: Howsoever it will serve to entitle him to a share in the government to which he aspires, and which he considers himself as able to manage, though that be an ill sign; for commonly those who desire it most, are most unfit.

Of all state fanatics he is the most foolish, and furthest off from any of his ends, unless it be the gallows.

If he could but find out a way to hold intelligence with the subtle inhabitants of the air, he might in probability establish his government among them, much sooner than here, where so many experiments have been made to no purpose.

Democracy is but the effect of a crazy brain ; it is like the intelligible world, where the models and ideas of all things are, but no things; and it will never go any further. Republicans are state recusants, politic nonconformists, who from tenderness of humour cannot comply with the government under which they live, nor be obedient to the laws of the land with a safe fancy. They were all freeborn in fairy land, but changed in the cradle; and so not being patives here, the air of the government does not agree with them. They are silenced ministers of state, who hold forth sedition in conventicles, and spread new governments erroneous both in doctrine and discipline. They make governments, as children do dirt pies, only to busy and please themselves, but to no purpose,

They derive the pedigree of government from universals, that por'uet nothing; and suppose the right of it to be only in t! ose who are incapable of using it, that is ALL men, which is the same as No man; for that wilich is every where is no where.

A republican will undertake to preveni civil wars by proving that wankind were born to nothing else, and reduce them to subjection and obedience by maintaining that nature made them all EQUAL. He pretends to secure the right of princes by proving that whosoever can wrest their power from them has a right to it, and persuade them and their subjects to observe imaginary contracts, because invalid as soon as made. He has as wise disputes about the original of governments, as the Rosicrucians have about the beginning of the world; when it would puzzle both him and them to find out, how the first hammer was made; but he would fain bave governments made by laws, because laws are made by them, as if the child begot the parent.

In fine he is a state-quack, that mounts his stage in some obscure nook, and vapours about his cures on the body politic; when all his skill will not serve to cure his own itch of novelty and vain-glory. All his governors are ideots, and will never be admitted to the administration of their own estates, nor come to years of discre

tion *.

* This portrait of a Republican in this essay, may appear to many an exaggerated picture; but it must be considered that Butler had too deeply experienced the fatal mischiefs of that democracy, which after overthrowing the throne and the altar, had ended in the despotism of Cromwell, not to paint them as strongly as he felt them. Dryden, also, who witnessed the triumph of the same republican faction, represents it in scarce less glowing colours, though in a different light. The remarks of two such acute and discerning men, justified by recent experience, cannot fail of being read with interest and advantage. And, therefore, we have inserted them to gether.

« ZurückWeiter »