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sociation they would mutually conduce to the advantage and happiness of each other. This is the real purpose, the genuine basis of their intercourse; and as far as this purpose is answered, so far does society answer the end of its institution.
THE simplest form of government is despotism, where all the inferior orbs of power are moved merely by the will of the supreme, and all that are subjected to them, directed in the same manner, merely by the occasional will of the magistrate. This form, as it is the most simple, so it is infinitely the most general. Scarce any part of the world is exempted from its power. And in those few places where men enjoy what they call liberty, it is continually in a tottering situation, and makes greater and greater strides to that gulph of despotism which at last swallows up every species of government. This manner of ruling being directed merely by the will of the weakest, and generally the worst man in the society, becomes the most foolish and capricious thing, at the same time that it is the most terrible and destructive that can well be conceived. In a despotism the principal person finds, that let the want, misery, and indigence of his subjects be what they will, he can yet possess abundantly of every thing to gratify his most insatiable wishes. He does more. He finds that these gratifications increase
increase in proportion to the wretchedness and slavery of his subjects. Thus encouraged, both by passion and interest, to trample on the public welfare, and by his station placed above both shame and fear, he proceeds to the most horrid and shocking outrages upon mankind. Their persons become victims of his suspicions. The slightest displeasure is death and a disagreeable aspect is often as great a crime as high-treason. In the court of Nero, a person of learning, of unquestionable merit, and of unsuspected loyalty, was put to death for no other reason than that he had a pedantic countenance which displeased the emperor. This very monster of mankind, appeared in the beginning of his reign to be a person of virtue. Many of the greatest tyrants on the records of history have begun their reigns in the fairest manner. But the truth is, this unnatural power corrupts both the heart and the understanding. And to prevent the least hope of amendment, a king is surrounded by a crowd of infamous flatterers, who find their account in keep ing him from the least light of reason, till all ideas of rectitude and justice are utterly erased from his mind. When Alexander had in his fury inhumanly butchered one of his best friends, and bravest captains; on the return of reason he began to conceive an horror suitable to the guilt of such a murder. In this juncture, his council came to his assistance. But what did his council? They found him out a philosopher who gave him comfort. And in what manner did this philosopher
losopher comfort him for the loss of such a man, and heal his conscience, flagrant with the smart of such a crime? You have the matter at length in Plutarch. He told him; "that let a sovereign " do what he will, all his actions are just and lawful, because they are his." The palaces of all princes abound with such courtly philosophers. The consequence was such as might be expected. He grew every day a monster more abandoned to unnatural lust, to debauchery, to drunkenness, and to murder. And yet this was originally a great man, of uncommon capacity, and a strong propensity to virtue. But unbounded power proceeds step by step, until it has eradicated every laudable principle. It has been reniarked, that there is no prince so bad, whose favourites and ministers are not worse. There is hardly any prince without a favourite, by whom he is governed in as arbitrary a manner as he governs the wretches subjected to him. Here the tyranny is doubled. There are two courts, and two interests; both very different from the interests of the people. The favourite knows, that the regard of a tyrant is as unconstant and capricious as that of a woman;
and concluding his time to be short, he makes haste to fill up the measure of his iniquity, in rapine, in luxury, and in revenge. To deserve well of the state is a crime against the prince. To be popular, and to be a traitor, are consideredas synonimous terms. Even virtue is dangerous, as an aspiring quality, that claims an esteem by itself, and independent of the countenance of the court.
What has been said of the chief, is true of the inferior officers of this species of government; each in his province exercising the same tyranny, and grinding the people by an oppression, the more severely felt, as it is near them and exercised by base and subordinate persons. For the gross of the people, they are considered as a mere herd of cattle; and really in a little time become no better; all principle of honest pride, all sense of the dignity of their nature, is lost in their slavery. The day, says Homer, which makes a man a slave, takes away half his worth; and in fact he loses every impulse to action, but that low and base one of fear. In this kind of government human nature is not only abused and insulted, but it is actually degraded and sunk into a species of brutality. The consideration of this made Mr. Locke say, with great justice, that a government of this kind was worse than anarchy; indeed it is so abhorred and detested by all who live under forms that have a milder appearance, that there is scarce a rational man in Europe, that would not prefer death to Asiatic despotism. Here then we have the acknowledgment of a great philosopher, that an irregular state of nature is preferable to such a government; we have the consent of all sensible and generous men, who carry it yet farther, and avow that death itself is preferable; and yet this species of government so justly condemned, and so generally detested, is what infinitely the greater part of mankind