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I am not one of those oriental slaves who deem it unlawful presumption to look their kings in the face; neither am I swayed by my Lord Bacon's authority to think this custom good and reasonable in its meaning, though it savours of barbarism in its institution. Ritu quidem barbarus, sed significatione bonus. Much otherwise. It seems to me that no secrets are so important to be known, no hearts deserve to be pried into with more curiosity and atttention than those of princes.
I find myself so occupied by those grand affairs which the philosophers call absurdities, that I have not yet leisure to think when I please, which is the only real good of life. I imagine that the deity created asses, doric pillars, and kings, to bear the burthens of this world; in which so many cther beings are created to enjoy the good he has bestowed. Here am I arguing with twenty Machiavels, all more or less dangerous. One talks to me of limits, another of claims, a third of indemnification, a fourth of auxiliaries, marriage
contracts, debts to be paid, intrigues to begin, &c. &c.
KING OF PRUSSIA. Correspondence witb Voltaire, let, clos.
If servitude be a state of wretchedness, there can be no happiness in royalty : for royalty is nothing more than servitude in disguise.
He that desires royalty does not know the duties which royalty requires ; and by him that does not know them they can never be fulfilled. Such a man desires regal authority only to gratify himself; but regal authority should be intrusted with him only who would not accept it but for the love of others.
Telemaque, liv. vi. A PRINCE is an individual whose conduct the whole world is perpetually employed to watch, and disposed to condemn. He is judged with the utmost rigour by those who can only guess at his situation; who have not the least sense of the difficulties that attend it; and who expect that, to answer their ideas of perfection, he should be no longer a man. A king, however, can be no more : his goodness and his wisdom are bounded by his nature; he has humours, passions, and habits, which it is impossible he should always surmount; he is continually beset by self-interest and cunning; he never finds the assistance that he seeks; he is perpetually led into mistakes, sometimes by his own passions, and sometimes by those of his ininisters, and can scarce repair one fault before he falls into another, and the longest and best reign is too short, and too defective to correct at the end, what has undesignedly been done amiss in the beginning. Such evils are inseparable from royalty, and human weakness must sink under such a load. Kings should be pitied and excused.Should not they be pitied who are called to the government of an innumerable multitude, whose wants are infinite, and who cannot but keep every faculty of those who would govern them well upon the stretch ? or to speak freely, are not men to be pitied, for their necessary subjection to a mortal like themselves? A god only can fulfil the duties of dominion. The prince, however, is not less to be pitied than the people,
Ib. lib xii..
Of all men that king is the most unhappy who believes he shall become happy by rendering others miserable. His wretchedness is doubled by his ignorance, for as he does not know whence it proceeds, he can apply no remedy: he is indeed afraid to know, and he suffers a crowd of sycophants to surround him, that keep truth at a distance. He is a slave to his own passions, and an utter stranger to his duty. He has never tasted the pleasure of doing good, nor been warmed to sensibility by the charms of virtue. He is wretched, but the wretchedness that he suffers he deserves, and his misery, however great, is perpetually increasing.
Ib, liv. V. SOLON AND PISISTRATUŞ. Solon. What pleasure could you enjoy in such a power? What can be the charms of tyranny?
Pisistratus. To be able to do every thing, to be feared by every body, and at the same time to stand in awe of no one.
Solon. Senseless man! you had reason to stand in awe of every one; and you experiened it when you fell from the height of your fortune, and found so much difficulty in rising again : you experienced it a second time in the
your children. Who had most reason to fear, the Athenians or you? The Athenians, who, bearing the yoke of statery, heli you in abhorrence; or you, who ought to have apprehended every moment the being betrayed, dethroned, and punished for your usurpation? You certainly then had more reason to fear than this captive people, to whom you had made yourself so formidable.
Pisistratus. I confess it, and' own that I never found in tyranny any solid pleasure; yet I had not the courage to lay it down : had I lost
autho. sity, I conceived that I could infallibly have pined to death.
Solon. Acknowledge, then, that tyranny is as destructive to the tyrant as to the people.
Dialogues de: Morts. DAMOCLES, one of the courtiers of Dionysius, was perpetually extolling with rapture his treasures, grandeur, the number of his troops, the extent of his dominions, the magnificence of his palaces, and the universal abundance of all good things and enjoyments in his possession, always tepeating that never man was happier than Diony
sius. “ Since you are of that opinion,” said the tyrant to him one day, you taste and make “ proof of my felicity in person?” The offer was accepted with joy. Damocles was placed upon a golden bed, covered with carpets of inestimable value. The sideboards were loaded with vessels of gold and silver. The most beautiful slaves in the most splendid habits stood around, watching the least signal to serve him. The most exquisite essences and perfumes had not been spared. The table was spread with proportionate magnificence. Damocles was all joy, and looked upon himself as the happiest inan in the world; when unfortunately casting up
he beheld over his head the point of a sword which hung from the roof only by a single horse hair. He was immediately seized with a cold sweat; every thing disappeared in an instant; he could see nothing but the sword, nor think of any thing but his danger. In the height of his fear he desired permission to retire, and declared he would be happy no longer. A very narural image of the life of a tyrant.
Rolin. Antient History, b. xi. ch. i. sect. iv. It is a miserable state of mind to have few things to desire, and many things to fear: and
yet that commonly is the case of kings, who being at the highest want matter of desire, which makes their minds more languishing; and have many representations of peril, which make their minds less clear. And this is one reason also of that effect which the scripture spenketh of, ihat the king's