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I told him, that a chief or first minister of state, who was the person I intended to describe, was a creature wholly exempt from joy and grief, love and hatred, pity and anger; at least makes use of no other passions, but a violent desire of wealth, power, and titles; that he applies his words to all uses, except to the indication of his mind; that he never tells a truth but with an intent that you should take it for a lie; nor a lie, but with a design that you should take it for a truth; that those he speaks worst of behind their backs are in the surest way of preferment; and whenever he begins to praise you to others, or to yourself, you are from that day forlorn. The worst mark you can receive is a promise, especially when it is confirmed with an oath; after which every wise man retires, and gives over all hopes.
There are three methods by which a man may rise to be chief minister. The first is by knowing how with prudence to dispose of a wife, a daughter, or a sister. The second by betraying or undermining his predecessor: and the third is by a furious zeal in public assemblies against the corruptions of the court. But a wise prince would chuse rather to employ those, who practise the last of these methods; because such zealots prove always the most obsequious aud subservient to the will and passions of their master. These ministers, having all employments at their disposal, preserve themselves in power by bribing the majority of a senate or great council; and at last by an expedient called an act of indemnity they secure themselves from after
reckonings, and retire from the public laden with the spoils of the nation.
The palace of a chief minister is a seminary to · breed up others in his own trade; the pages, lacquies, and porter, by imitating their master, become ministers of state in their several districts, and learn to excel in the three principal ingredients, of insolence, lying, and bribery. Accordingly they have a subaltern court paid to them by persons of the best rank; and sometimes, by the force of dexterity and impudence arrive through several gradations to be successors to their lord.
He is usually governed by a decayed wench, or favourite footman, who are the tunnels through which all graces are conveyed, and may properly be called, in the last resort, the governors of the kingdom.
MINISTERS and favourites are a sort of people who have a state prisoner in their custody, the whole management of whose understanding and actions they can easily engross. This they completely effect with a weak and credulous master, nor can the most cautious and penetrating elude their machinations:
Gulliver's Travels, part iv. cb. vi.
Ministers become a sort of miniature kings in their turn. The king has been used to hear those things only which were adapted to give him pleasure, and it is with a grating and uneasy sensation that he listens to communications of a different He has been used to unhesitating compli
ance and it is with difficulty he can digest expostulation and opposition. The temporising politician expects the same pliability in others that he exhibits in himself; and the fault which he can least forgive is an ill timed and inauspicious scrupulosity.
Expecting this compliance from all the coadjutors and instruments of his designs, he soon comes to it up as a standard by which to judge of the merits of all other men. He is deaf to every recommendation but that of a fitness for the secret service of government, or a tendency to promote his interest, and extend the sphere of his influence. The worst man with this argument in his favour will seem worthy of encouragement; the best man who has no advocate but virtue to plead for him will be treated with superciliousness and neglect.To obtain honour, it will be necessary to pay a seryile court to administration, to bear with unaltered patience their contumely and scorn, to flatter their vices, and render ourselves useful to their private gratification. To obtain honours, it will be necessary, by assiduity and intrigue, to make to ourselves a party, to procure the recommendation of lords and the good word of women of pleasure, and clerks in office. To obtain honour, it will be necessary to
merit disgrace. The whole scene consists in hollowness, duplicity, and falsehood. The minister speaks -fair to the man he despises, and the slave pretends a generous attachment, while he thinks of nothing but his personal interest.
i buk2f% GODWIN.
Political Justice, b. v. cb. v.
Hegessippus, that he might seize Protesilaus, [the prime minister] without delay, went immediately to his house. It was not so large as the palace, but it was better designed both for convenience and pleasure; the architecture was in a better taste, and it was decorated with a profusion of expence, which the most cruel oppression had supplied. He was then in a marble saloon that opened to his baths, reclining negligently upon a couch, that was covered with purple embroidered with gold: he appeared to be weary, an even exhausted with his labours; there was a gloom of discontent upon his brow, and his eye expressed a kind of agitation and ferocity not to be described. The principal persons of the kingdom sat round him upon carpets, watching his looks even to the slightest glance of his eye, and reflecting every expression of his countenance from their own: if he opened his mouth, all was extacy and admiration ; and before he had uttered a word, they vied with each other which should be the loudest in the praise of what he had to say. One of them regaled him with an account of the services he had rendered to the king, heightened with the most ridiculous exaggeration; another declared that his mother had conceived him by Jupiter in the likeness of her husband, and that he was son to the father of the gods. In some verses that were recited by a poet, he was said to have been instructed by the muses, and to have rivalled Apollo in all the works of imagination and wit; and another poet, still more servile and shameless, celebrated him as the inven
tor of the polite arts, and the father of a people among whom he had scattered plenty and happiness, from the horn of Amalthea, with a liberal hand.
Protesilaus heard all this adulation with a cold, negligent, and disdainful air, as if he thought his merit was without bounds, and that he honoured those too much from whom he condescended to reteive praise. Among other flatterers, there was one who took the liberty to whisper some jest upon the new regulations that were taking place under the direction of Mentor: the countenance of Protesilaus relaxed into a smile; and immoderate laughter immediately shook the whole company, though the greatest part knew nothing of what had been said. The countenance of Protesilaus became again haughty and severe, and every one immediately shrunk back into timidity and silence: all watched for the happy moment in which he would turn his eye upon them, and permit them to speak; and each having some favour to ask, discovered the greatest agitation and perplexity. Their supplicatory posture supplied the want of words; and they seemed to be impressed with the same humni-. lity and reverence as a mother who petitions the gods, at their altar, for the life of an only son.Every countenance expressed a tender complacency and admiration; but every heart concealed the most malignant envy, and implacable hatred.
At this moment Hegesippus entered the saloon; and seizing the sword of Protesilaus, acquainted