Page images

experiment, for there custom forsakes him. Those are happy men whose natures sort with their vocations, otherwise they may say “my soul is a sojourner in a strange land,” when they converse in those things which they do not affect.

In studies, whatsoever a man con mands himself, let him set hours for it, but whatsoever is agreeable to his nature, let him take no care for any set times; for his thoughts will fly to it of themselves, so that the intervals of other business or studies will suffice. A man's nature runs either to herbs or weeds; therefore let him seasonably water the one and destroy the other.



(Lord Clarendon.)

LIBERTY is the charm, which mutinous aud seditious persons' use, to pervert and corrupt the affections of weak and wilful people, and to lead them into rebellion against their princes and lawful superiors: En illa quam sæpe optastis libertas ! * said Cataline, when he would draw the people into a conspiracy against the commonwealth. And in that transportation, men are commonly so weak and wilful, that they insensibly submit to conditions of more restraint and compulsion, and in truth to more and heavier penalties for the vindication of their liberty, than they were ever liable to in the highest violation of their liberty of which they complain ; by how much more the articles of war are more severe and hard to be observed, than the strictest ii. junctions under any peaceable government.

* Behold that liberty which you have often courted.

However, no age has been without dismal and bloody examples of this fury, when the very sound of liberty, (which may be well called a charm) hath hurried those who sacrifice to it to do and to suffer all the acts of tyranny imaginable, and io make themselves slaves that they may be free. There is no one thing that the mind of man may lawfully desire and take delight in, that is less understood and more fatally mistaken, than the word liberty, which though none are so mad as to say, it consists in being absolved from all obligations of law, (which would give every man liberty to destroy his neighbour), yet they do in truth think it to be nothing else than not to be subject to those laws which restrain them.

Whoever is carried away upon that seditious invitation, has set his heart upon some liberty which he affects, a liberty for revenge, a liberty for rapine, or the like ; which if owned and gratịfied would seduce very few, but being concealed, all men gratify themselves with such an image of liberty as they respectively worship, and so concur together to overthrow the government that is inconvenient to them all, though disliked by very few in one and the same respect. The strength of rebellion therefore consists in the private gloss which every man makes to himself upon the declared argument of it, not upon the reasons published and vowed, however specious and popular; and from thence it comes to pass, that most rebellions expire in a general detestation of their first promoters by those who kept them company in the prosecution, and discover their ends to be very different from their professions. *

True and precious liberty, which is only to be valued, is nothing else but that we may not be compelled to do any thing which the law has left in our choice, nor hindered from doing any thing which the law has given us liberty to do. Compulsion and force in either of these cases is an act of violence and injustice against our right, and ought to be repelled by the sovereign power, and

may be resisted so far by ourselves as the law permits. This law is the standard and guardian of our liberty; it circumscribes and defends it; but to imagine liberty without a law, is to imagine every man with his sword in bis hand to destroy him who is weaker than bimself; no pleasant prospect even for those who

* This is a truth confirmed by the cvents of recent as well as past revolutions. VOL. I.


cry out most for liberty. Those men, however great their name and authority, who first advanced the opinion, that nature produced us in a state of war; and that order and government were the effects of experience and contract, (by which man surrendered his natural right, to avoid that violence which every man might exercise


another) have been the authors of much mischief in the world. They have infused into the hearts of mankind a wrong opinion of the institution of government; as if it was lawful to exonerate themselves from the ill bargains that their ancestors made for that liberty which nature gave them; and they ought only to have engaged their own interest and what concerned themselves; but that it is most unreasonable and unjust to bind their posterity by their ill made and unskilful contracts.

From this resentment and murmur, war and rebellion have arisen, which commonly leave men under a condition worse than that to which they were subjugated by the compacts of their forefathers. Nor is it strange that philosophers who imagined that the world could be no otherwise made than by a lucky conjunction and convention of atoms, and could satisfy not their own curiosity in any rational conjecture on the origin of man, or from wbat omnipotency he could be

« PreviousContinue »