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selves? You, you sow the fruits of the earth, that he may waste them; you furnish your houses, that he may pillage them; you rear your daughters, that they may glut his wantonness, and your sons, that he may lead them at the best to his wars, or that he may send them to execution, or make them the instruments of his concupiscence, the ministers of his revenge. You exhaust your bodies with labour, that he may revel in luxury, or wallow in base and vile pleasures; you weaken yourselves, that he may become more strong, and better able to hold you in check. And yet from so many indignities, that the beasts themselves, could they be conscious of them, would not endure, you may deliver yourselves, if you but make an effort, not to deliver yourselves, but to show the will to do it. Once resolve to be no longer slaves, and you are already free. I do not say that you should assail him, or shake his seat; merely support him no longer, and you will see that, like a great Colossus, whose basis has been removed from beneath him, he will fall by his own weight, and break to pieces.
25. These bursts of a noble patriotism, which no one who is in the least familiar with the history of that period will think inexcusable, are much unlike what we generally expect from the French writers. La Boetie, in fact, is almost a single instance of a thoroughly republican character till nearly the period of the Revolution. Montaigne, the staunchest supporter of church and state, excuses his friend, "the greatest man, in my opinion, of our age," assuring us that he was always a loyal subject, though, if he had been permitted his own choice, "he would rather have been born at Venice than at Sarlat." La Boetie died young, in 1561; and his Discourse was written some years before; he might have lived to perceive how much more easy it is to inveigh against the abuses of government than to bring about any thing better by rebellion.
26. The three great sources of a free spirit in politics, admiration of antiquity, zeal for religion, and per- Buchanan, suasion of positive right, which separately had Regni. animated La Boetie, Languet, and Hottoman, united their
Le Contr'Un of La Boetie is published at the end of some editions of Montaigne.
streams to produce, in another country, the treatise of George Buchanan (De Jure Regni apud Scotos), a scholar, a Protestant, and the subject of a very limited monarchy. This is a dialogue elegantly written, and designed, first, to show the origin of royal government from popular election; then, the right of putting tyrannical kings to death, according to Scripture, and the conditional allegiance due to the crown of Scotland, as proved by the coronation oath, which implies that it is received in trust from the people. The following is a specimen of Buchanan's reasoning, which goes very materially farther than Languet had presumed to do:-"Is there, then," says one of the interlocutors, "a mutual compact between the king and the people? M. Thus it seems.-B. Does not he who first violates the compact, and does anything against his own stipulations, break his agreement? M. He does.-B. If, then, the bond which attached the king to the people is broken, all rights he derived from the agreement are forfeited? M. They are forfeited.-B. And he who was mutually bound becomes as free as before the agreement? M. He has the same rights and the same freedom as he had before.— B. But if a king should do things tending to the dissolution of human society, for the preservation of which he has been made, what name should we give him? M. We should call him a tyrant.-B. But a tyrant not only possesses no just authority over his people, but is their enemy? M. He is surely their enemy.-B. Is there not a just cause of war against an enemy who has inflicted heavy and intolerable injuries upon us? M. There is.-B. What is the nature of a war against the enemy of all mankind, that is, against a tyrant? M. None can be more just.-B. Is it not lawful in a war justly commenced, not only for the whole people, but for any single person, to kill an enemy? M. It must be confessed.-B. What, then, shall we say of a tyrant, a public enemy, with whom all good men are in eternal warfare? may not any one of all mankind inflict on him every penalty of war? M. I observe that all nations have been of that opinion, for Theba is extolled for having killed her husband, and Timoleon for his brother's and Cassius for his son's death.""
" P. 96.
27. We may include among political treatises of this class some published by the English and Scottish Poynet, on exiles during the persecution of their religion by Power. the two Maries. They are, indeed, prompted by circumstances, and in some instances have too much of a temporary character to deserve a place in literary history. I will, however, give an account of one, more theoretical than the rest, and characteristic of the bold spirit of these early Protestants, especially as it is almost wholly unknown except by name. This is in the title-page, "A Short Treatise of Politique Power, and of the true obedience which subjects owe to kings and other civil governors, being an answer to seven questions:-1. Whereof politique power groweth, wherefore it was ordained, and the right use and duty of the same? 2. Whether kings, princes, and other governors have an absolute power and authority over their subjects? 3. Whether kings, princes, and other politique governors be subject to God's laws, or the positive laws of their countries? 4. In what things and how far subjects are bound to obey their princes and governors? 5. Whether all the subject's goods be the emperor's or king's own, and that they may lawfully take them for their own? 6. Whether it be lawful to depose an evil governor and kill a tyrant? 7. What confidence is to be given to princes and potentates?""
28. The author of this treatise was John Poynet, or Ponnet, as it is spelled in the last edition, bishop Its liberal of Winchester under Edward VI., and who had a theory. considerable share in the Reformation. It was first published in 1558, and reprinted in 1642, "to serve,” says Strype, "the turn of those times." "This book," observes truly the same industrious person, "was not over favourable to princes." Poynet died very soon afterwards, so that we cannot determine whether he would have thought it expedient to speak as fiercely under the reign that was to come. The place of publication of the first edition I do not know, but I presume it was at Geneva or Frankfort. It is closely and vigorously written, deserving, in many parts, a high place among the English prose of that
age, though not entirely free from the usual fault-vulgar and ribaldrous invective. He determines all the questions stated in the title-page on principles adverse to royal power, contending, in the sixth chapter, that "the manifold and continual examples that have been, from time to time, of the deposing of kings and killing of tyrants, do most certainly confirm it to be most true, just, and consonant to God's judgment. The history of kings in the Old Testament is full of it; and, as Cardinal Pole truly citeth, England lacketh not the practice and experience of the same; for they deprived King Edward II., because, without law, he killed the subjects, spoiled them of their goods, and wasted the treasures of the realm. And upon what just causes Richard II. was thrust out, and Henry IV. put in his place, I refer it to their own judgment. Denmark also now, in our days, did nobly the like act, when they deprived Christiern the tyrant, and committed him to perpetual prison.
29. "The reasons, arguments, and laws, that serve for the deposing and displacing of an evil governor, tyrannicide. will do as much for the proof that it is lawful to kill a tyrant, if they may be indifferently heard. As God hath ordained magistrates to hear and determine private men's matters, and to punish their vices, so also willeth he that the magistrates' doings be called to account and reckoning, and their vices corrected and punished by the body of the whole congregation or commonwealth: as it is manifest by the memory of the ancient office of the High Constable of England, unto whose authority it pertained, not only to summon the king personally before the parliament, or other courts of judgment, to answer and receive according to justice, but also upon just occasion to commit him unto ward. Kings, princes, and governors have their authority of the people, as all laws, usages, and policies do declare and testify. For in some places and countries they have more and greater authority; in some places less; and in some the people have not given this authority to any other, but retain and exercise it themselves. And is any man so unreasonable to deny that the
It is scarcely necessary to observe that this is an impudent falsehood.
whole may do as much as they have permitted one member to do, or those that have appointed an office upon trust have not authority upon just occasion (as the abuse of it) to take away what they gave? All laws do agree that men may revoke their proxies and letters of attorney when it pleaseth them, much more when they see their proctors and attorneys abuse it.
30. "But now, to prove the latter part of this question affirmatively, that it is lawful to kill a tyrant, there is no man can deny, but that the Ethnics, albeit they had not the right and perfect true knowledge of God, were endued with the knowledge of the law of nature-for it is no private law to a few or certain people, but common to all —not written in books, but grafted in the hearts of men, not made by men, but ordained of God, which we have not learned, received, or read, but have taken, sucked, and drawn it out of nature, whereunto we are not taught, but made, not instructed, but seasoned ; and, as St. Paul saith, 'Man's conscience bearing witness of it,'" &c. He proceeds in a strain of some eloquence (and this last passage is not ill-translated from Cicero) to extol the ancient tyrannicides, accounting the first nobility to have been "those who had revenged and delivered the oppressed people out of the hands of their governors. Of this kind of nobility was Hercules, Theseus, and such like." It must be owned the worthy bishop is a bold man in assertions of fact. Instances from the Old Testament, of course, follow, wherein Jezebel and Athalia are not forgotten, for the sake of our bloody queen.
31. If too much space has been allowed to so obscure a production, it must be excused on account of the The tenets illustration it gives to our civil and ecclesiastical swayed by history, though of little importance in literature. stances. It is also well to exhibit an additional proof that the tenets of most men, however general and speculative they may appear, are espoused on account of the position of those who hold them, and the momentary consequences that they may produce. In a few years' time the Church of England, strong in the protection of that royalty which
Sic. The Latin in Cic. pro Mil. is imbuti.
' P. 49.