« PředchozíPokračovat »
The chief purpose of these Notes and Illustrations, is to verify some of the more important views contained in the foregoing Historical Sketch. The errors into which I have frequently been led by trusting to the information of writers, who, in describing philosophical systems, profess to give merely the general results of their researches, unauthenticated by particular references to the original sources, have long convinced me of the propriety, on such occasions, of bringing under the eye of the reader, the specific authorities on which my statements proceed. Without such a check, the most faithful historian is perpetually liable to the suspicion of accommodating facts to bis favorite theories; or of unconsciously blending with the opinions he ascribes to others, the glosses of his own imagination. The quotations in the following pages, selected principally from books not now in general circulation, may, I hope, at the same time, be useful in facilitating the labors of those who shall hereafter resume the same subject, on a scale more susceptible of the roinuteness of lite erary detail.
For a few short biographical digressions, with which I have endeavoured to give somewhat of interest and relief to the abstract and unattractive topics which occupy 80 great a part of my discourse, I fatter myself that no apology is necessary; more especially, as these digressions will, in general, be found to throw some additional light on the philosophical or the political principles of the individuals to whom they relate.
Note (A.) page 28. Sir Thomas More, though, towards the close of his life, he became " a persecutor even unto blood, defiling with cruelties those hands which were never polluted with bribes,' was, in his earlier and better days, eminently distinguished by the humanity of his temper, and the liberality of his opinions. Abundant proofs of this may be collected from his letters to Erasmus ; and from the sentiments, both religious and political, indirectly inculcated in his Utopia. In contempt for the ignorance and profligacy of the monks, he was not surpassed by his correspondent; and against various superstitions of the Romish church, such as the celibacy of priests, and the use of images in worship, he has expressed himself more decidedly than could well have been expected from a man placed in his circumstances. But these were not the whole of his merits. His ideas on Criminal Law are still quoted with respect by the advocates for a milder code than has yet been introduced into this country; and, on the subject of toleration, no modern politician has gone farther than his Utopian Legislators.
The disorders occasioned by the rapid progress of the Reformation, having completely shaken his faith in the sanguine speculations of his youth, seem at length, by alarming his fears as to the fate of existing establishments, to have unhinged his understanding, and perverted his moral feelings. The case was somewhat the same with his friend Erasmus, who (as Jortin remarks) “ began in his old days to act the zealot and the missionary with an ill grace, and to maintain, that there were certain heretics, who might be put to death as blasphemers and rioters." (pp. 428, 481.)
In the mind of Erasmus, other motives, it is not improbable, concurred; his biographer and apologist being forced to acknowledge that“ be was afraid lest Francis, and Charles, and Ferdinand, and George, and Henry VIII. and other persecuting princes, should suspect that he condemned their cruel conduct.” Ibid. p. 481.
Something, it must at the same time be observed, may be alleged in behalf of these two illustrious persons; not, indeed, in extenuation of their unpardonable defection from the cause of religious liberty, but of their estrangement from some of their old friends, who scrupled not to consider, as apostates and traitors, all those who, while they acknowledged the expediency of ecclesiastical reform, did not approve of the violent measures employed for the accomplishment of that object. A very able and candid argument on this point may be found in Bayle, Article Castellan, Note Q.
Note (B.) page 30. The following short extract will serve to convey a general idea of Calvin's argument upon the subject of usury.
“ Pecunia non parit pecuniam. Quid mare ? quid domus, ex cujus locatione pensionem percipio ? an ex tectis et parietibus argentum proprie nascitur ? Sed et terra producit, et mari advehitur quod pecuniam deinde producat, et habitationis commoditas cum certâ pecuniâ parari commutarive solet. Quod si igitur plus ex negotiatione lucri percipi possit, quam ex fundi cujusvis proventu: an feretur qui fundum sterilem fortasse colono locaverit ex quo mercedem vel proventum recipiat sibi, qui ex pecuniâ fructum aliquem perceperit, non feretur ? et qui pecuniâ fundum acquirit, annon pecuniâ illâ generat alteram annuam pecuniam ? Unde vero mercatoris lucrum? Ex ipsius, inquies, diligentiâ atque industriâ. Quis dubitat pecuniam vacuam inutilem omnipo esse? neque qui à me mutuam rogat, vacuam apud se habere à me acceptam cogitat. Non ergo ex pecuniâ illâ lucrum accedit, sed ex proventu. Illæ igitur rationes subtiles quidem sunt, et speciem quandam habent, sed ubi propius expenduntur, reipsâ concidunt. Nunc igitur concludo, judicandum de usuris esse, non ex particulari aliquo Scripturæ loco, sed tantum ex æquitatis regulâ.” Calvini Epistola.
Note (C.) page 41. The prevailing idea among Machiavel's contemporaries and immediate successors certainly was, that the design of the Prince was hostile to the rights of mankind; and that the author was either entirely unprincipled, or adapted his professed opinions to the varying circumstances of his own eventful life. The following are the words of Bodinus, born in 1530, the very year when Machiavel died; an author whose judgment will have no small weight with those who are acquainted with his political writings : “ Machiavel s'est bien fort mésconté, de dire que l'estat populaire est le meilleur . * et néantmoins ayant oublié sa première opinion, il a tenu en un autre lieu,t que pour restituer l'Italie en sa liberté, il faut qu'il n'y ait qu'un Prince ; et de fait, il s'est efforcé de former un estat le plus tyrannique du monde : et en autre lieu | il confesse, que l'estat de Vénice est le plus beau de tous, lequel est une pure Aristocratie, s'il en fût onques: tellement qu'il ne sçait à quoi se tenir." (De la République, Liv. vi. chap. iv. Paris, 1576.) In the Latin version of the above passage, the author applies to Machiavel the Homo levissimus ac nequissimus.
One of the earliest apologists for Machiavel was Albericus Gentilis, an Italian author, of whom some account will be given afterwards. His words are these : “Machiavel, a warm panegyrist and keen assertor of democracy; born, educated, promoted under a republican government, was in the highest possible degree hostile to tyranny. The scope of his work, accordingly, is not to instruct tyrants; but, on the contrary, by disclosing their secrets to their oppressed subjects, to expose them to public view, stripped of all their trappings.” He afterwards adds, that “ Machiavel's real design was, under the mask of giving lessons to sovereigns, to open the eyes of the people; and that he assumed this mask in the hope of thereby securing a freer circulation to his doctrines.”. (De Legationibus, Lib. iii. c. ix. Lond. 1585.) The same idea was afterwards adopted and zealously contended for by Wicquefort, the author of a noted book entitled the Ambassador ; and by many other writers of a
• Discourses upon Livy. | Discourses upon Livy.
† Prince, Book i. c. 9.
later date. Bayle, in his Dictionary, has stated ably and impartially the arguments on both sides of the question ; evidently leaning, however, very decidedly, in his own opinion, to that of Machiavel's apologists.
The following passage from the excellent work of M. Simonde de Sismondi on the Literature of the South, appears to me to approach very near to the truth, in the estimate it contains both of the spirit of the Prince, and of the character of the author. “ The real object of Machiavel cannot have been to confirm upon the throne a tyrant whom he detested, and against whom he had already conspired; nor is it more probable, that he had a design to expose to the people the maxims of tyranny, in order to render them odious. Üniversal experience made them at that time suffi. ciently known to all Italy; and that infernal policy, which Machiavel reduced to prin. ciples, was, in the sixteenth century, practised by every government. There is rather, in his manner of treating it, a universal bitterness against mankind; a contempt of the whole human race; which makes him address them in the language to which they had debased themselves. He speaks to the interests of men, and to their selfish calculations, as if he thought it useless to appeal to their enthusiasm or to their moral feelings.”
I agree perfectly with M. de Sismondi in considering the two opposite hypotheses referred to in the above extract, as alike untenable; and have only to add to his remarks, that, in writing the Prince, the author seems to have been more under the influence of spleen, of ill humor, and of blasted hopes, than of any deliberate or sys. tematical purpose, either favorable or adverse to human happiness. The prevailing sentiment in his mind probably was, Si populus vult decipi, decipiatur.*
According to this view of the subject, Machiavel's Prince, instead of being considered as a new system of political morality, invented by himself
, ought to be regarded merely as a digest of the maxims of state policy then universally acted upon in the Italian courts. If I be not mistaken, it was in this light that the book was regarded by Lord Bacon, whose opinion concerning it being, in one instance, somewhat ambiguously expressed, has been supposed by several writers of note (particularly Bayle and Mr. Roscoe) to have coincided with that quoted above from Albericus Gentilis. To me it appears, that the very turn of the sentence appealed to on this occasion is rather disrespectful than otherwise to Machiavel's character. « Est itaque quod gratias agamus Machiavellio et hujusmodi scriptoribus, qui aperte et indissimulanter proferunt, quid homines facere soleant, non quid debeant.” (De Aug. Scient. Lib. vii. cap. 2.) The best comment, however, on these words, is to be found in another passage of Bacon, where he has expressed his opinion of Machiavel's moral demerits in terms as strong and unequivocal as language can furnish. “ Quod enim ad malas artes attinet; si quis Machiavellio se dederit in disciplinam; qui præcipit,” &c. &c. &c. See the rest of the paragraph (De Aug. Scient. Lib. viii. cap. 2.) See also a passage in Book vii. chap. 8, beginning thus : “An non et hoc verum est, juvenes multo minus Politicæ quam Ethicæ auditores idoneos esse, antequam religione et doctrinâ de moribus et officiis plene imbuantur: ne forte judicio depravati et corrupti, in eam opinionem veniant, non esse rerum differentias morales veras et solidas, sed omnia ex utilitate.-Sic enim Machiavellio dicere placet, Quod si contigisset Cæsarem bello superatum fuisse, Catilinâ ipso fuisset odiosior," &c. &c. After these explicit and repeated declarations of his sentiments on this point, it is hard that Bacon should have been numbered among the apologists of Machiavel, by such high authorities as Bayle, and the excellent biographer of Lorenzo de Medicis.
Note (D.) p. 50. The charge of plagiarism from Bodin has been urged somewhat indelicately against Montesquieu, by a very respectable writer, the Chevalier de Filangieri. “On a cru, et l'on croit peut-être encore, que Montesquieu a parlé le premier de l'influence du climat. Cette opinion est une erreur. Avant lui, le délicat et ingénieux Fontenelle s'étoit exercé sur cet objet. Machiavel, en plusieurs endroits de ses ouvrages, parle aussi de cette influence du climat sur le physique et sur le moral des peuples. Chardin, un de ces voyageurs qui savent observer, a fait beaucoup de reflexions sur l'influence physique et moral des climats. L'Abbé Dubos a soutenu et développé les
Many traces of this misanthropic disposition occur in the historical and even in the dramatic works of Machiavel. It is very justly observed by M. de Sismondi, that " the pleasantry of his comedies is almost always mingled with gall. His laughter at the human race is but the laughter of contempt.”
pensées de Chardin ; et Bodin, qui peut-être avoiç la dans Polybe que le climat détermine les formes, la couleur, et les meurs des peuples, en avoit déjà fait, cent cinquante ans auparavant, la base de son système, dans son livre de la République, et dans sa Méthode de l'Histoire. Avant tous ces écrivains, l'immortel Hippocrate avoit traité fort au long cette matière dans son fameux ouvrage de l'air, des eaux, et des lieux. L'Auteur de l’Esprit des Lois, sans citer un seul de ces philosophes, établit à son tour un système ; mais il ne fit qu’altérer les principes d'Hippocrate, et donner une plus grande extension aux idées de Dubos, de Chardin, et de Bodin. Il voulut faire croire au public qu'il avoit eu le premier quelques idées sur ce sujet ; et le public l'on crut sur sa parole." La Science de la Législation, ouvrage traduit de l'Italien. Paris, 1786. Tom. I. p. 225, 226.
The enumeration here given of writers whose works are in every body's hands, might have satisfied Filangieri, that, in giving his sanction to this old theory, Montesquieu had no wish to claim to himself the praise of originality. It is surprising, that, in the foregoing list, the name of Plato should have been omitted, who con. cludes his fifth book, De Legibus, with remarking, that “all countries are not equal. ly susceptible of the same sort of discipline; and that a wise legislator will pay a due regard to the diversity of pational character, arising from the influence of climate and of soil.” It is not less surprising, that the name of Charron should have been overlooked, whose observations on the moral influence of physical causes, discover as much originality of thought as those of any of his successors, See De la Sagesse, Livre i. chap. 37,
Note (E.) p. 53. Innumerable instances of Luther's credulity and superstition are to be found in a book entitled Martini Lutheri Colloquia Mensalia, &c. first published (according to Bayle) in 1571. The only copy of it which I have seen, is a translation from the German into the English tongue by Captain Henrie Bell, (London, 1652.) This work, in which ware gathered up the fragments of the divine discourses which Luther beld at his table with Philip Melancthon, and divers other learned men,” bears to have been originally collected “out of his holy mouth" by Dr. Anthony Lauterbach, and to have been afterwards “ digested into commonplaces" by Dr. Aurifaber. Although not sanctioned with Luther's name, I do not know that the slightest doubts of its details have been suggested, even by such of his followers as have regretted the indiscreet communication to the public, of his unreserved table talk with his confidential companions. The very accurate Seckendorff has not called in question its authenticity ; but, on the contrary, gives it his indirect sanction, by remarking, that it was collected with little prudence, and not less impru. dently printed: “Libro Colloquiorum Mensalium minus quidem cautè composito et vulgato." (Bayle, Article Luther, Note L.) It is very often quoted as an authority by the candid and judicious Dr. Jortin.
In confirmation of what I have said of Luther's credulity, I shall transcribe, in the words of the English translator, the substance of one of Luther's Divine Discourses, “ concerning the devil and his works." “ The devil," said Luther, “ can transform himself into the shape of a man or a woman, and so deceiveth people ; insomuch that one thinketh he jeth by a right woman, and yet is no such matter; for, as St. Paul saith, the devil is strong by the child of unbelief. But insomuch as children or devils are conceived in such sort, the same are very horrible and fearful examples. Like unto this it is also with what they call the Nis in the water, who draweth people unto him as maids and virgins, of whom he begetteth devil's chil. dren. The devil can also steal children away; as sometimes children within the space of six weeks after their birth are lost, and other children called supposititii, or changelings, laid in their places. Of the Saxons they were called Killcrops.
“ Eight years since,” said Luther, “at Dessau, I did see and touch such a changed child, which was twelve years of age ; he had his eyes, and all members, like another child; he did nothing but feed, and would eat as much as two clowns were able to eat. 'I told the Prince of Anhalt, if I were prince of that country, I would venture homicidium thereon, and would throw it into the river Moldaw. I admonished the people dwelling in that place devoutly to pray to God to take away the devil. The same was done accordingly, and the second year after the changeling died.
“ In Saxony, near unto Halberstad, was a man that also had a killerop, who sucked the mother and five other women dry, and besides devoured very much. This man was advised that he should, in bis pilgrimage at Halberstad, make a
promise of the killcrop to the Virgin Mario, and should cause him there to be rocked. This advice the man followed, and carried the changeling thither in a basket. But going over a river, being upon the bridge, another devil that was below in the river, called and said, ' Killcrop ! Killerop!' Then the child in the basket (which never before spake one word) answered, · Ho, ho.' The devil in the water asked further, Whither art thou going ?' The child in the basket said, I am going towards Hocklestad to our loving mother, to be rocked.' The man being much affrighted thereat, threw the child, with the basket, over the bridge into the water. Whereupon the two devils flew away together, and cried, "Ho, ho, ha,' tumbling themselves over one another, and so vanished.” (pp. 386, 387.)
With respect to Luther's Theological Disputes with the Devil, see the passages quoted by Bayle, Art. Luther, Note U.
Facts of this sort, so recent in their date, and connected with the history of so great a character, are consolatory to those, who, amid the follies and extravagancies of their contemporaries, are sometimes tempted to despair of the cause of truth, and of the gradual progress of human reason.
Note (F.) page 72. Ben Jonson is one of the few contemporary writers by whom the transcendent genius of Bacon appears to have been justly appreciated, and the only one I know of, who has transmitted any idea of his forensic eloquence; a subject on which, from his own professional pursuits, combined with the reflecting and philosophical cast of his mind, Jonson was peculiarly qualified to form a competent judgment. “ There happened,” says he, « in my time, one noble speaker, who was full of gravity in his speaking: No man ever spoke more neatly, more pressly, more weightily, or suffered less emptiness, less idleness in what he uttered. No member of his speech but consisted of its own graces. His hearers could not cough, or look aside from him without loss. He commanded where he spoke, and had his judges angry and pleased at his devotion. The fear of every man that heard him was, that he should make an end." No finer description of the perfection of this art is to be found in any author, ancient or modern.
The admiration of Jonson for Bacon (whom he appears to have known intimately) * seems almost to have blinded him to those indelible shades in his fame, to which, even at this distance of time, it is impossible to turn the eye without feelings of sorrow and humiliation. Yet it is but candid to conclude, from the posthumous praise lavished on him by Jonson and by Sir Kenelm Digby,t that the servility of the courtier, and the laxity of the judge, were, in the relations of private life, redeemed by many estimable and amiable qualities. That man must surely have been marked by some rare features of moral as well as of intellectual greatness, of whom, long after his death, Jonson could write in the following words:
“My conceit of his person was never increased toward him by his place or honors; but I have and do reverence him, for the greatness that was only proper to himself, in that he seemed to me ever, by his works, one of the greatest men, and most worthy of admiration, that had been in many ages. In his adversity, I ever prayed that God would give him strength, for greatness he could not want. Neither could I condole in a word or syllable for him, as knowing no accident could do harın to virtue, but rather help to make it manifest.”
In Aubrey's anecdotes of Bacon, there are several particulars not unworthy of the attention of his future biographers. One expression of this writer is more peculiarly striking: “In short, all that were great and good loved and honored him.” When it is considered, that Aubrey's knowledge of Bacon was derived chiefly through the medium of Hobbes, who had lived in habits of the most intimate friendship with both, and whose writings show that he was far from being an idolatrous admirer of Bacon's philosophy, it seems impossible for a candid mind, after reading the foregoing short but comprehensive eulogy, not to feel a strong inclination
* Jonson is said to have translated into Latin great part of the books De Aug. mentis Scientiarum. Dr. Warton states this (I do not know on what authority) as an undoubted fact. (Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope.)
| See his letters to M. de Fermat, printed at the end of Fermat's Opera Mathea matica, Tolosæ, 1679.
| Lately published in the extracts from the Bodļeian library.