James Harrington. The Commonwealth of Oceana (1656)
FOR the rest (says Plutarch, closing up the story of Lycurgus) when he saw that his government had taken root, and was in the very plantation strong enough to stand by itself, he conceived such a delight within him, as God is described by Plato to have done when he had finished the creation of the world, and saw his own orbs move below him: for in the art of man (being the imitation of nature, which is the art of God) there is nothing so like the first call of beautiful order out of chaos and confusion, as the architecture of a well-ordered commonwealth. Wherefore Lycurgus, seeing in effect that his orders were good, fell into deep contemplation how he might render them, so far as could be effected by human providence, unalterable and immortal. To which end he assembled the people, and remonstrated to them: That for aught he could perceive, their policy was already such, and so well established, as was sufficient to entail upon them and theirs all that virtue and felicity whereof human life is capable: nevertheless that there being another thing of greater concern than all the rest, whereof he was not yet provided to give them a perfect account, nor could till he had consulted the oracle of Apollo, he desired that they would observe his laws without any change or alteration whatsoever till his return from Delphos; to which all the people cheerfully and unanimously engaged themselves by promise, desiring him that he would make as much haste as he could. But Lycurgus, before he went, began with the kings and the senators, and thence taking the whole people in order, made them all swear to that which they had promised, and then took his journey. Being arrived at Delphos, he sacrificed to Apollo, and afterward inquired if the policy which he had established was good and sufficient for a virtuous and happy life?
By the way, it has been a maxim with legislators not to give checks to the present superstition, but to make the best use of it, as that which is always the most powerful with the people; otherwise, though Plutarch, being a priest, was interested in the cause, there is nothing plainer than Cicero, in his book "De Divinatione” has made it, that there was never any such thing as an oracle, except in the cunning of the priests. But to be civil to the author, the god answered to Lycurgus that his policy was exquisite, and that his city, holding to the strict observation of his form of government, should attain to the height of fame and glory. Which oracle Lycurgus causing to be written, failed not of transmitting to his Lacedaemon. This done, that his citizens might be forever inviolably bound by their oath, that they would alter nothing till his return, he took so firm a resolution to die in the place, that from thenceforward, receiving no manner of food, he soon after performed it accordingly. Nor was he deceived in the consequence; for his city became the first in glory and excellency of government in the whole world. And so much for Lycurgus, according to Plutarch.
My Lord Archon, when he beheld not only the rapture of motion, but of joy and harmony, into which his spheres (without any manner of obstruction or interfering, but as if it had been naturally) were cast, conceived not less of exultation in his spirit; but saw no more necessity or reason why he should administer an oath to the Senate and the people that they would observe his institutions, than to a man in perfect health and felicity of constitution that he would not kill himself. Nevertheless whereas Christianity, though it forbids violent hands, consists no less in self-denial than any other religion, he resolved that all unreasonable desires should die upon the spot; to which end that no manner of food might be left to ambition, he entered into the Senate with a unanimous applause, and having spoken of his government as Lycurgus did when he assembled the people, he abdicated the magistracy of Archon. The Senate, as struck with astonishment, continued silent, men upon so sudden an accident being altogether unprovided of what to say; till the Archon withdrawing, and being almost at the door, divers of the knights flew from their places, offering as it were to lay violent hands on him, while he escaping, left the Senate with the tears in their eyes, of children that had lost their father and to rid himself of all further importunity, retired to a country house of his, being remote, and very private, insomuch that no man could tell for some time what was become of him.
Thus the law-maker happened to be the first object and reflection of the law made; for as liberty of all things is the most welcome to a people, so is there nothing more abhorrent from their nature than ingratitude. We, accusing the Roman people of this crime against some of their greatest benefactors, as Camillus, heap mistake upon mistake; for being not so competent judges of what belongs to liberty as they were, we take upon us to be more competent judges of virtue. And whereas virtue, for being a vulgar thing among them, was of no less rate than jewels are with such as wear the most, we are selling this precious stone, which we have ignorantly raked out of the Roman ruins, at such a rate as the Switzers did that which they took in the baggage of Charles of Burgundy. For that Camillus had stood more firm against the ruin of Rome than her capitol, was acknowledged; but on the other side, that he stood as firm for the patricians against the liberty of the people, was as plain; wherefore he never wanted those of the people that would die at his foot in the field, nor that would withstand him to his beard in the city. An example in which they that think Camillus had wrong, neither do themselves right, nor the people of Rome; who in this signify no less than that they had a scorn of slavery beyond the fear of ruin, which is the height of magnanimity.
The like might be shown by other examples objected against this and other popular governments, as in the banishment of Aristides the Just from Athens, by the ostracism, which, first, was no punishment, nor ever understood for so much as a disparagement; but tended only to the security of the commonwealth, through the removal of a citizen (whose riches or power with a party was suspected) out of harm’s way for the space of ten years, neither to the diminution of his estate or honor. And next, though the virtue of Aristides might in itself be unquestioned, yet for him under the name of the Just to become universal umpire of the people in all cases, even to the neglect of the legal ways and orders of the commonwealth, approached so much to the prince, that the Athenians, doing Aristides no wrong, did their government no more than right in removing him; which therefore is not so probable to have come to pass, as Plutarch presumes, through the envy of Themistocles, seeing Aristides was far more popular than Themistocles, who soon after took the same walk upon a worse occasion. Wherefore as Machiavel, for anything since alleged, has. irrefragably proved that popular governments are of all others the least ungrateful, so the obscurity, I say, into which my Lord Archon had now withdrawn himself caused a universal sadness and clouds in the minds of men upon the glory of his rising commonwealth.
Much had been ventilated in private discourse, and the people (for the nation was yet divided into parties that had not lost their animosities), being troubled, bent their eyes upon the Senate, when after some time spent in devotion, and the solemn action of thanksgiving, his Excellency Navarchus de Paralo in the tribe of Dorean, lord strategus of Oceana (though in a new commonwealth a very prudent magistrate) proposed his part or opinion in such a manner to the Council of State, that, passing the ballot of the same with great unanimity and applause, it was introduced into the Senate, where it passed with greater. Wherefore the decree being forthwith printed and published, copies were returned by the secretaries to the phylarchs (which is the manner of promulgation) and the commissioners of the seal, that is to say, the Right Honorable Phosphorus de Auge in the tribe of Eudia, Dolabella d’Enyo in the tribe of Turmae, and Linceus de Stella in the tribe of Nubia, being elected proposers pro tempore, bespoke of the tribunes a muster of the people to be held that day six weeks, which was the time allowed for promulgation at the halo.
The satisfaction which the people throughout the tribes received upon promulgation of the decree, loaded the carriers with weekly letters between friend and friend, whether magistrates or private persons. But the day for proposition being come, and the prerogative upon the place appointed in discipline, Sanguine de Ringwood in the tribe of Saltum, captain of the Phoenix, marched by order of the tribunes with his troop to the piazza of the Pantheon, where his trumpets, entering into the great hall, by their blazon gave notice of his arrival; at which the sergeant of the house came down, and returning, in formed the proposers, who descending, were received at the foot of the stairs by the captain, and attended to the coaches of state, with which Calcar de Gilvo in the tribe of Phalera, master of the horse, and the ballotins upon their great horses, stood waiting at the gate.
The proposers being in their coaches, the train for the pomp, the same that is used at the reception of ambassadors, proceeded in this order. In the front marched the troop with the cornet in the van and the captain in the rear; next the troop came the twenty messengers or trumpets, the ballotins upon the curvet with their usher in the van, and the master of the horse in the rear; next the ballotins, Bronchus de Rauco, in the tribe of Bestia, king of the heralds, with his fraternity in their coats-of-arms, and next to Sir Bronchus, Boristhenes de Holiwater in the tribe of Ave, master of the ceremonies; the mace and the seal of the chancery went immediately before the coaches, and on either side, the doorkeepers or guard of the Senate, with their pole-axes, accompanied with some 300 or 400 footmen belonging to the knights or senators, the trumpeters, ballotins, guards, postilions, coachmen and footmen, being very gallant in the liveries of the commonwealth, but all, except the ballotins, without hats, in lieu whereof they wore black velvet calots, being pointed with a little peak at the forehead. After the proposers came a long file of coaches full of such gentlemen as use to grace the commonwealth upon the like occasions. In this posture they moved slowly through the streets (affording, in the gravity of the pomp and the welcomeness of the end, a most reverend and acceptable prospect to the people all the way from the Pantheon, being about half a mile) and arrived at the halo, where they found the prerogative in a close body environed with scaffolds that were covered with spectators. The tribunes received the proposers, and conducted them into a seat placed in the front of the tribe, like a pulpit, but that it was of some length, and well adorned by the heralds with all manner of birds and beasts, except that they were ill-painted, and never a one of his natural color. The tribunes were placed at a table that stood below the long seat, those of the horse in the middle, and those of the foot at either end, with each of them a bowl or basin before him, that on the right hand being white, and the other green: in the middle of the table stood a third, which was red. And the housekeepers of the pavilion, who had already delivered a proportion of linen balls or pellets to every one of the tribe, now presented boxes to the ballotins. But the proposers as they entered the gallery, or long seat, having put off their hats by way of salutation, were answered by the people with a shout; whereupon the younger commissioners seated themselves at either end; and the first, standing in the middle, spoke after this manner:
“MY LORDS, THE PEOPLE OF OCEANA:
“While I find in myself what a felicity it is to salute you by this name, and in every face, anointed as it were with the oil of gladness, a full and sufficient testimony of the like sense, to go about to feast you with words, who are already filled with that food of the mind which, being of pleasing and wholesome digestion, takes in the definition of true joy, were a needless enterprise. I shall rather put you in mind of that thankfulness which is due, than puff you up with anything that might seem vain. Is it from the arms of flesh that we derive these blessings? Behold the Commonwealth of Rome falling upon her own victorious sword. Or is it from our own wisdom, whose counsels had brought it even to that pass, that we began to repent ourselves of victory? Far be it from us, my lords, to sacrifice to our own nets, which we ourselves have so narrowly escaped! Let us rather lay our mouths in the dust, and look up (as was taught the other day when we were better instructed in this lesson) to the hills with our gratitude. Nevertheless, seeing we read how God upon the neglect of his prophets has been provoked to wrath, it must needs follow that he expects honor should be given to them by whom he has chosen to work as his instruments. For which cause, nothing doubting of my warrant, I shall proceed to that which more particularly concerns the present occasion, the discovery of my Lord Archon’s virtues and merit, to be ever placed by this nation in their true meridian.
“My lords, I am not upon a subject which persuades me to balk, but necessitates me to seek out the greatest examples. To begin with Alexander, erecting trophies common to his sword and the pestilence: to what good of mankind did he infect the air with his heap of carcasses? The sword of war, if it be any otherwise used than as the sword of magistracy, for the fear and punishment of those that do evil, is as guilty in the sight of God as the sword of a murderer; nay more, for if the blood of Abel, of one innocent man, cried in the ears of the Lord for vengeance, what shall the blood of an innocent nation? Of this kind of empire, the throne of ambition, and the quarry of a mighty hunter, it has been truly said that it is but a great robbery. But if Alexander had restored the liberty of Greece, and propagated it to mankind, he had done like my Lord Archon, and might have been truly called the Great. Alexander cared not to steal a victory that would be given; but my Lord Archon has torn away a victory which had been stolen, while we went tamely yielding up obedience to a nation reaping in our fields, whose fields he has subjected to our empire, and nailed them with his victorious sword to their native Caucasus.
"Machiavel gives a handsome caution: ‘Let no man,’ says he, ‘be circumvented with the glory of Caesar, from the false reflection of their pens, who through the longer continuance of his empire in the name than in the family, changed their freedom for flattery. But if a man would know truly what the Romans thought of Caesar, let them observe what they said of Catiline.’” And yet by how much he who has perpetrated some heinous crime is more execrable than he who did but attempt it, by so much is Caesar more execrable than Catiline. On the contrary, let him that would know what ancient and heroic times, what the Greeks and Romans would both have thought and said of my Lord Archon, observe what they thought and said of Solon, Lycurgus, Brutus, and Publicola. And yet by how much his virtue, that is crowned with the perfection of his work, is beyond theirs, who were either inferior in their aim, or in their performance; by so much is my Lord Archon to be preferred before Solon, Lycurgus, Brutus, and Publicola.
“Nor will we shun the most illustrious example of Scipio: this hero, though never so little less, yet was he not the founder of a commonwealth; and for the rest, allowing his virtue to have been of the most untainted ray in what did it outshine this of my Lord Archon? But if dazzling the eyes of the magistrates it overawed liberty, Rome might be allowed some excuse that she did not like it, and I, if I admit not of this comparison: for where is my Lord Archon? Is there a genius, how free soever, which in his presence would not find itself to be under power? He is shrunk into clouds, he seeks obscurity in a nation that sees by his light. He is impatient of his own glory, lest it should stand between you and your liberty “
Liberty! What is even that, if we may not be grateful? And if we may, we have none: for who has anything that he does not owe? My lords, there be some hard conditions of virtue: if this debt were exacted, it were not due; whereas being cancelled, we are all entered into bonds. On the other side, if we make such a payment as will not stand with a free people, we do not enrich my Lord Archon, but rob him of his whole estate immense glory.
“These particulars had in due deliberation and mature debate, according to the order of this commonwealth, it is proposed by authority of the Senate, to you my lords the people of Oceana:
“I. That the dignity and office of Archon, or protector of the commonwealth of Oceana, be and are hereby conferred, by the Senate and the people of Oceana, upon the most illustrious Prince and sole legislator of this commonwealth, Olphaus Megaletor, pater patrioe, whom God preserve, for the term of his natural life. yet remaining of the ancient “
“II. That £350,000 per annum revenue, be estated upon the said illustrious Prince, or Lord Archon, for the said term, and to the proper and peculiar use of his Highness.
“III. That the Lord Archon have the reception of all foreign ambassadors, by and with the Council of State, according to the orders of this commonwealth.
“IV. That the Lord Archon have a standing army of 12,000 defrayed upon a monthly tax, during the term of three years, for the protection of this commonwealth against dissenting parties, to be governed, directed, and commanded by and with the advice of the Council of War, according to the orders of this commonwealth.
“V. That this commonwealth make no distinction of persons or parties, but every man being elected and sworn, according to the orders of the same, be equally capable of magistracy, or not elected, be equally capable of liberty, and the enjoyment of his estate free from all other than common taxes.
“VI. That a man putting a distinction upon himself, refusing oath upon election, or declaring himself of a party not conformable to the civil government, may within any time of his the three years’ standing of the army transport himself and his estate, without molestation or impediment, into any other nation.
“VII. That in case there remains any distinction of parties not conforming to the civil government of this commonwealth, after the three years of the standing army being expired, and the commonwealth be thereby forced to prolong the term of the said army, the pay from henceforth of the said army be levied upon the estates of such parties so remaining unconformable to the civil government.”
The proposer having ended his oration, the trumpets sounded; and the tribunes of the horse being mounted to view the ballot, caused the tribe (which thronging up to the speech, came almost round the gallery) to retreat about twenty paces, when Linceus de Stella, receiving the propositions, repaired with Bronchus de Rauco the herald, to a little scaffold erected in the middle of the tribe, where he seated himself, the herald standing bare upon his right hand. The ballotins, having their boxes ready, stood before the gallery, and at the command of the tribunes marched, one to every troop on horseback, and one to every company on foot, each of them being followed by other children that bore red boxes: now this is putting the question whether the question should be put. And the suffrage being very suddenly returned to the tribunes at the table, and numbered in the view of the proposers, the votes were all in the affirmative, whereupon the red or doubtful boxes were laid aside, it appearing that the tribe, whether for the negative or affirmative, Was clear in the matter. Wherefore the herald began from the scaffold in the middle of the tribe, to pronounce the first proposition, and the ballotins marching with the negative or affirmative only, Bronchus, with his voice like thunder, continued to repeat the proposition over and over again, so long as it was in balloting. The like was done for every clause, till the ballot was finished, and the tribunes assembling, had signed the points, that is to say, the number of every suffrage, as it was taken by the secretary upon the tale of the tribunes, and in the sight of the proposers; for this may not be omitted: it is the pulse of the people. Now whereas it appertains to the tribunes to report the suffrage of the people to the Senate, they cast the lot for this office with three silver balls and one gold one; and it fell upon the Right Worshipful Argus de Crookhorn, in the tribe of Pascua, first tribune of the foot. Argus, being a good sufficient man in his own country, was yet of the mind that he should make but a bad spokesman, and therefore became something blank at his luck, till his colleagues persuaded him that it was no such great matter, if he could but read, having his paper before him. The proposers, taking coach, received a volley upon the field, and returned in the same order, save that, being accompanied with the tribunes, they were also attended by the whole prerogative to the piazza of the Pantheon, where, with another volley, they took their leaves. Argus, who had not thought upon his wife and children all the way, went very gravely up: and everyone being seated, the Senate by their silence seemed to call for the report, which Argus, standing up, delivered in this wise:
“RIGHT HONORABLE LORDS AND FATHERS ASSEMBLED IN PARLIAMENT:
“So it is, that it has fallen to my lot to report to your excellencies in the votes of the people, taken upon the 3d instant, in the first year of this commonwealth, at the halo; the Right Honorable Phosphorus de Auge in the tribe of Eudia, Dolabella d’Enyo in the tribe of Turmae, and Linceus de Stella in the tribe of Nubia, lords commissioners of the great seal of Oceana, and proposers pro temporibus, together with my brethren the tribunes, and myself being present. Wherefore these are to certify to your fatherhoods, that the said votes of the people were as follows, that is to say:
To the first proposition, nemine contradicente; To the second, nemine
To the third, the like;
To the fourth, 211, above half;
To the fifth, 201, above half;
To the sixth, 150, above half, in the affirmative;
To the seventh, nemine contradicente again, and so forth.
“My Lords, it is a language that is out of my prayers, and if I be out at it, no harm ”
“But as concerning my Lord Archon (as I was saying) these are to signify to you the true-heartedness and goodwill which are in the people, seeing by joining with you, as one man, they confess that all they have to give is too little for his highness. For truly fathers, if he who is able to do harm, and does none, may well be called honest; what shall we say to my Lord Archon’s highness, who having had it in his power to have done us the greatest mischief that ever befell a poor nation, so willing to trust such as they thought well of, has done us so much good, as we should never have known how to do ourselves? Which was so sweetly delivered by my Lord Chancellor Phosphorus to the people, that I dare say there was never a one of them could forbear to do as I do-and, it please your fatherhoods, they be tears of joy. Aye, my Lord Archon shall walk the streets (if it be for his ease I mean) with a switch, while the people run after him and pray for him; he shall not wet his foot; they will strew flowers in his way; he shall sit higher in their hearts, and in the judgment of all good men, than the kings that go upstairs to their seats; and one of these had as good pull two or three of his fellows out of their great chairs as wrong him or meddle with him; he has two or three hundred thousand men, that when you say the word, shall sell themselves to their shirts for him, and die at his foot. His pillow is of down, and his grave shall be as soft, over which they that are alive shall wring their hands. And to come to your fatherhoods, most truly so called, as being the loving parents of the people, truly you do not know what a feeling they have of your kindness, seeing you are so bound up, that if there comes any harm, they may thank themselves. And, alas! poor souls, they see that they are given to be of so many minds, that though they always mean well, yet if there comes any good, they may thank them that teach them better. Wherefore there was never such a thing as this invented, they do verily believe that it is no other than the same which they always had in their very heads, if they could have but told how to bring it out. As now for a sample: my lords the proposers had no sooner said your minds, than they found it to be that which heart could wish. And your fatherhoods may comfort yourselves, that there is not a people in the world more willing to learn what is for their own good, nor more apt to see it, when you have showed it them. Wherefore they do love you as they do their own selves; honor you as fathers; resolve to give you as it were obedience forever, and so thanking you for your most good and excellent laws, they do pray for you as the very worthies of the land, right honorable lords and fathers assembled in Parliament.”
Argus came off beyond his own expectation; for thinking right, and speaking as he thought, it was apparent by the house and the thanks they gave him, that they esteemed him to be absolutely of the best sort of orators; upon which having a mind that till then misgave him, he became very crounse, and much delighted with that which might go down the next week in print to his wife and neighbors. Livy makes the Roman tribunes to speak in the same style with the consuls, which could not be, and therefore for aught in him to the contrary, Volero and Canuleius might have spoken in no better style than Argus. However, they were not created the first year of the commonwealth; and the tribunes of Oceana are since become better orators than were needful. But the laws being enacted, had the preamble annexed, and were delivered to Bronchus, who loved nothing in the earth so much as to go staring and bellowing up and down the town, like a stag in a forest, as he now did, with his fraternity in their coats-of-arms, and I know not how many trumpets, proclaiming the act of parliament; when, meeting my Lord Archon, whom from a retreat that was without affectation, as being for devotion only and to implore a blessing by prayer and fasting upon his labors, now newly arrived in town, the herald of the tribe of Bestia set up his throat, and having chanted out his lesson, passed as haughtily by him as if his own had been the better office, which in this place was very well taken, though Bronchus for his high mind happened afterward upon some disasters, too long to tell, that spoiled much of his embroidery.
My Lord Archon’s arrival being known, the signory, accompanied by the tribunes, repaired to him, with the news he had already heard by the herald, to which my lord strategus added that his highness could not doubt upon the demonstrations given, but the minds of men were firm in the opinion that he could be no seeker of himself in the way of earthly pomp and glory, and that the gratitude of the Senate and the people could not therefore be understood to have any such reflection upon him. But so it was, that in regard of dangers abroad, and parties at home, they durst not trust themselves without a standing army, nor a standing army in any man’s hands but those of his highness.
The Archon made answer, that he ever expected this would be the sense of the Senate and the people; and this being their sense, he should have been sorry they had made choice of any other than himself for a standing general; first, because it could not have been more to their own safety, and secondly because so long as they should have need of a standing army, ‘his work was, not done, that he would not dispute against the judgment of the Senate and the people, nor ought that to be. Nevertheless, he made little doubt but experience would show every party their own interest in this government, and that better improved than they could expect from any other; that men’s animosities should overbalance their interest for any time was impossible, that humor could never be lasting, nor through the constitution of the government of any effect at the first charge. For supposing the worst, and that the people had chosen no other into the Senate and the prerogative than royalists, a matter of 1,400 men must have taken their oaths at their election, with an intention to go quite contrary not only to their oaths so taken, but to their own interest; for being estated in the sovereign power, they must have decreed it from themselves (such an example for which there was never any experience, nor can there be any reason), or holding it, it must have done in their hands as well every wit as in any other. Furthermore, they must have removed the government from a foundation that apparently would hold, to set it upon another which apparently would not hold; which things if they could not come to pass, the Senate and the people consisting wholly of royalists, much less by a parcel of them elected. But if the fear of the Senate and of the people derived from a party without, such a one as would not be elected, nor engage themselves to the commonwealth by an oath; this again must be so large, as would go quite contrary to their own interest, they being as free and as fully estated in their liberty as any other, or so narrow that they could do no hurt, while the people being in arms, and at the beck of the strategus, every tribe would at any time make a better army than such a party; and there being no parties at home, fears from abroad would vanish. But seeing it was otherwise determined by the Senate and the people, the best course was to take that which they held the safest, in which, with his humble thanks for their great bounty, he was resolved to serve them with all duty and obedience.
A very short time after the royalists, now equal citizens, made good the Archon’s judgment, there being no other that found anything near so great a sweet in the government. For he who has not been acquainted with affliction, says Seneca, knows but half the things of this world.
Moreover they saw plainly, that to restore the ancient government they must cast up their estates into the hands of 300 men; wherefore in case the Senate and the prerogative, consisting of 1,300 men, had been all royalists, there must of necessity have been, and be forever, 1,000 against this or any such vote. But the Senate, being informed by the signory that the Archon had accepted of his dignity and office, caused a third chair to be set for his Highness, between those of the strategus and the orator in the house, the like at every council; to which he repaired, not of necessity, but at his pleasure, being the best, and as Argus not vainly said, the greatest prince in the world; for in the pomp of his court he was not inferior to any, and in the field he was followed with a force that was formidable to all. Nor was there a cause in the nature of this constitution to put him to the charge of guards, to spoil his stomach or his sleep: insomuch, as being handsomely disputed by the wits of the academy, whether my Lord Archon, if he had been ambitious, could have made himself so great, it was carried clear in the negative; not only for the reasons drawn from the present balance, which was popular, but putting the case the balance had been monarchical. For there be some nations, whereof this is one, that will bear a prince in a commonwealth far higher than it is possible for them to bear a monarch. Spain looked upon the Prince of Orange as her most formidable enemy; but if ever there be a monarch in Holland, he will be the Spaniard’s best friend. For whereas a prince in a commonwealth derives his greatness from the root of the people, a monarch derives his from one of those balances which nip them in the root; by which means the Low Countries under a monarch were poor and inconsiderable, but in bearing a prince could grow to a miraculous height, and give the glory of his actions by far the upper hand of the greatest king in Christendom. There are kings in Europe, to whom a king of Oceana would be put a petit companion. But the Prince of this commonwealth is the terror and judge of them all.
That which my Lord Archon now minded most was the agrarian, upon which debate he incessantly thrust the Senate and the Council of State, to the end it might be planted upon some firm root, as the main point and basis of perpetuity to the commonwealth.
And these are some of the most remarkable passages that happened in the first year of this government. About the latter end of the second, the army was disbanded, but the taxes continued at £30,000 a month, for three years and a half. By which means a piece of artillery was planted, and a portion of land to the value of £50 a year purchased for the maintenance of the games, and of the prize arms forever, in each hundred.
With the eleventh year of the commonwealth, the term of the excise, allotted for the maintenance of the Senate and the people and for the raising of a public revenue, expired. By which time the Exchequer, over and above the annual salaries, amounting to £300,000 accumulating every year out of £1,000,000 income, £700,000 in banco, brought it with a product of the sum, rising to about £8,000,000 in the whole: whereby at several times they had purchased to the Senate and the people £400,000 per annum solid revenue; which, besides the lands held in Panopea, together with the perquisites of either province, was held sufficient for a public revenue. Nevertheless, taxes being now wholly taken off, the excise, of no great burden (and many specious advantages not vainly proposed in the heightening of the public revenue), was very cheerfully established by the Senate and the people, for the term of ten years longer, and the same course being taken, the public revenue was found in the one-and-twentieth year of the commonwealth to be worth £1,000,000 in good land. Whereupon the excise was so abolished for the present, as withal resolved to be the best, the most fruitful and easy way of raising taxes, according to future exigencies.
But the revenue being now such as was able to be a yearly purchaser, gave a jealousy that by this means the balance of the commonwealth, consisting in private fortunes, might be eaten out, whence this year is famous for that law whereby the Senate and the people, forbidding any further purchase of lands to the public within the dominions of Oceana and the adjacent provinces, put the agrarian upon the commonwealth herself. These increases are things which men addicted to monarchy deride as impossible, whereby they unwarily urge a strong argument against that which they would defend. For having their eyes fixed upon the pomp and expense, by which not only every child of a king, being a prince, exhausts his father’s coffers, but favorites and servile spirits, devoted to the flattery of those princes, grow insolent and profuse, returning a fit gratitude to their masters, whom, while they hold it honorable to deceive, they suck and keep eternally poor: it follows that they do not see how it should be possible for a commonwealth to clothe herself in purple, and thrive so strangely upon that which would make a prince’s hair grow through his hood, and not afford him bread. As if it were a miracle that a careless and prodigal man should bring £10,000 a year to nothing, or that an industrious and frugal man brings a little to £10,000 a year. But the fruit of one man’s industry and frugality can never be like that of a commonwealth; first, because the greatness of the increase follows the greatness of the stock or principal; and, secondly, because a frugal father is for the most part succeeded by a lavish son; whereas a commonwealth is her own heir.
This year a part was proposed by the Right Honorable Aureus de Woolsack in the tribe of Pecus, first commissioner of the Treasury, to the Council of State, which soon after passed the ballot of the Senate and the people, by which the lands of the public revenue, amounting to £1,000,000, were equally divided into £5,000 lots, entered by their names and parcels into a lot-book preserved in the Exchequer. And if any orphan, being a maid, should cast her estate into the Exchequer for £1,400, the Treasury was bound by the law to pay her quarterly £200 a year, free from taxes, for her life, and to assign her a lot for her security; if she married, her husband was neither to take out the principal without her consent (acknowledged by herself to one of the commissioners of the Treasury, who, according as he found it to be free, or forced, was to allow or disallow of it), nor any other way engage it than to her proper use. But if the principal were taken out, the Treasury was not bound to repay any more of it than £1,000, nor might that be repaid at any time, save within the first year of her marriage: the like was to be done by a half or quarter lot respectively.
This was found to be a great charity to the weaker sex, and as some say, who are more skilful in the like affairs than myself, of good profit to the commonwealth.
Now began the native spleen of Oceana to be much purged, and men not to affect sullenness and pedantism. The elders could remember that they had been youths. Wit and gallantry were so far from being thought crimes in themselves, that care was taken to preserve their innocence. For which cause it was proposed to the Council for Religion by the Right Honorable Cadiscus de Clero, in the tribe of Stamnum, first censor, that such women as, living in gallantry and view about the town, were of evil fame, and could not show that they were maintained by their own estates or industry. or such as, having estates of their own, were yet wasteful in ‘their way of life, and of ill-example to others, should be obnoxious to the animadversion of the Council of Religion, or of the censors: in which the proceeding should be after this manner. Notice should be first given of the scandal to the party offending, in private: if there were no amendment within the space of six months, she should be summoned and rebuked before the said Council or censors; and, if after other six months it were found that neither this availed, she should be censored not to appear at any public meetings, games, or recreations, upon penalty of being taken up by the doorkeepers or guards of the Senate, and by them to be detained, till for every such offence £5 were duly paid for her enlargement.
Furthermore, if any common strumpet should be found or any scurrility or profaneness represented at either of the theatres, the prelates for every such offence should be fined £20 by the said Council, and the poet, for every such offence on his part, should be whipped. This law relates to another, which was also enacted the same year upon this occasion.
The youth and wits of the Academy having put the business so home in the defence of comedies that the provosts had nothing but the consequences provided against by the foregoing law to object, prevailed so far that two of the provosts of the Council of State joined in a proposition, which after much ado came to a law, whereby £100,000 was allotted for the building of two theatres on each side of the piazza of the halo: and two annual magistrates called prelates, chosen out of the knights, were added to the tropic, the one called the prelate of the buskin, for inspection of the tragic scene called Melpomene; and the other the prelate of the sock, for the comic called Thalia, which magistrates had each £500 a year allowed out of the profits of the theatres; the rest, except £800 a year to four poets, payable into the Exchequer. A poet laureate created in one of these theatres by the strategus, receives a wreath of £500 in gold, paid out of the said profits. But no man is capable of this creation that had not two parts in three of the suffrages at the Academy, assembled after six weeks’ warning and upon that occasion.
These things among us are sure enough to be censured, but not know the nature of a commonwealth; that they are free, and yet to curb the genius in a lawful recreation to which they are naturally is to tell a tale of a tub. I have heard the Protestant ministers in France, by men that were wise and of their own profession, much blamed in that they forbade dancing, a recreation to which the genius of that air is so inclining that they lost many who would not lose that: nor do they less than blame the former determination of rashness, who now gently connive at that which they had so roughly forbidden. These sports in Oceana are so governed, that they are pleasing for private diversion, and profitable to the public: for the theatres soon defrayed their own charge, and now bring in a good revenue. All this is so far from the detriment of virtue, that it is to the improvement of it, seeing women that heretofore made havoc of their honor that they might have their pleasures are now incapable of their pleasures if they lose their honor.
About the one-and-fortieth year of the commonwealth, the censors, according to their annual custom, reported the pillar of Nilus, by which it was found that the people were increased very near one-third. Whereupon the Council of War was appointed by the Senate to bring in a state of war, and the treasurers the state of the Treasury. The state of war, or the pay and charge of an army, was soon after exhibited by the Council in this account:
THE FIELD PAY OF A PARLIAMENTARY ARMY
The lord strategus, marching £10,000 Polemarches ”
General of the horse... 2,000
General of the artillery.... 1,000
Two adjutants to the major-general... 1,000
Forty colonels..... 40,000
100 captains of horse, at £500 a man... 50,000
300 captains of foot, at £300 a man... 90,000
100 cornets, at £100 a man.... 10,000
300 ensigns, at £50 a man.... 15,000 800
Quartermasters, Sergeants, Trumpeters, Drummers, 20,000
10,000 horse, at 2s 6d per day each... 470,000
30,000 foot, at 1s per day each.... 500,000
Chirurgeons... 400 40,000 auxiliaries, amounting to within a
little as much... 1,100,000
The charge of mounting 20,000 horse.. 300,000
The train of artillery, holding a 3d to the whole 900,000
Sum total £3,514,400
Arms and ammunition are not reckoned, as those which are furnished out of the store or arsenal of Emporium: nor wastage, as that which goes upon the account of the fleet, maintained by the customs; which customs, through the care of the Council for Trade and growth of traffic, were long since improved to about £1,000,000 revenue. The house being thus informed of a state of war, the commissioners brought in ”
THE STATE OF THE TREASURY THIS PRESENT YEAR, BEING THE ONE-AND-FORTIETH OF THE COMMONWEALTH
Received from the one-and-twentieth of the commonwealth:
By £700,000 a year in bank, with the product of the sum rising..............
Expended from the one-and-twentieth of this commonwealth:
Imprimis, for the addition of arms for 100,000 men to the arsenal, or tower of Emporium.........
For the storing of the same with artillery...
For the storing of the same with ammunition...
For beautifying the cities, parks, gardens, public walks,
and places for recreation of Emporium and Hiera, with
public buildings, aqueducts, statues,
and fountains, etc......
Remaining in the Treasury, the salaries of the
Exchequer being defalked.......
By comparison of which accounts if a war with an army of 80,000 men were to be made by the penny, yet was the commonwealth able to maintain such a one above three years without levying a tax. But it is against all experience, sense, and reason that such an army should not be soon broken, or make a great progress; in either of which cases, the charge ceases; or rather if a right course be taken in the latter, profit comes in: for the Romans had no other considerable way but victory whereby to fill their treasury, which nevertheless was seldom empty. Alexander did not consult his purse upon his design for Persia: it is observed by Machiavel, that Livy, arguing what the event in reason must have been had that King invaded Rome, and diligently measuring what on each side was necessary to such a war, never speaks a word of money. No man imagines that the Gauls, Goths, Vandals, Huns, Lombards, Saxons, Normans, made their inroads or conquests by the strength of the purse; and if it be thought enough, according to the dialect of our age, to say in answer to these things that those times are past and gone: what money did the late Gustavus, the most victorious of modern princes, bring out of Sweden with him into Germany? An army that goes upon a golden leg will be as lame as if it were a wooden one; but proper forces have nerves and muscles in them, such for which, having £4,000,000 or £5,000,000, a sum easy enough, with a revenue like this of Oceana, to be had at any time in readiness, you need never, or very rarely, charge the people with taxes. What influence the commonwealth by such arms has had upon the world, I leave to historians, whose custom it has been of old to be as diligent observers of foreign actions as careless of those domestic revolutions which (less pleasant it may be, as not partaking so much of the romance) are to statesmen of far greater profit; and this fault, if it be not mine, is so much more frequent with modern writers, as has caused me to undertake this work; on which to give my own judgment, it is performed as much above the time I have been about it, as below the dignity of the matter.
But I cannot depart out of this country till I have taken leave of my Lord Archon, a prince of immense felicity who having built as high with his counsels as he digged deep with his sword, had now seen fifty years measured with his own unerring orbs.
Timoleon (such a hater of tyrants that, not able to persuade his brother Timophanes to relinquish the tyranny of Corinth, he slew him) was afterward elected by the people (the Sicilians groaning to them from under the like burden) to be sent to their relief: whereupon Teleclides, the man at that time of most authority in the Commonwealth of Corinth, stood up, and giving an exhortation to Timoleon, how he should behave himself in this expedition, told him that if he restored the Sicilians to liberty, it would be acknowledged that he destroyed a tyrant; if otherwise, he must expect to hear he had murdered a king. Timoleon, taking his leave with a very small provision for so great a design, pursued it with a courage not inferior to, and a felicity beyond, any that had been known to that day in mortal flesh, having in the space of eight years utterly rooted out of all Sicily those weeds of tyranny, through the detestation whereof men fled in such abundance from their native country that whole cities were left desolate, and brought it to such a pass that others, through the fame of his virtues and the excellency of the soil, flocked as fast from all quarters to it as to the garden of the world: while he, being presented by the people of Syracuse with his town-house and his country retreat, the sweetest places in either, lived with his wife and children a most quiet, happy, and holy life; for he attributed no part of his success to himself, but all to the blessing and providence of the gods. As he passed his time in this manner, admired and honored by mankind, Laphistius, an envious demagogue, going to summon him upon some pretence or other to answer for himself before the assembly, the people fell into such a mutiny as could not be appeased but by Timoleon, who, understanding the matter, reproved them, by repeating the pains and travel which he had gone through, to no other end than that every man might have the free use of the laws. Wherefore when Daemenetus, another demagogue, had brought the same design about again, and blamed him impertinently to the people for things which he did when he was general, Timoleon answered nothing, but raising up his hands, gave the gods thanks for their return to his frequent prayers, that he might but live to see the Syracusans so free, that they could question whom they pleased.
Not long after, being old, through some natural imperfection, he fell blind; but the Syracusans by their perpetual visits held him, though he could not see, their greatest object: if there arrived strangers, they brought him to see this sight. Whatever came in debate at the assembly, if it were of small consequence, they determined it themselves; but if of importance, they always sent for Timoleon, who, being brought by his servants in a chair, and set in the middle of the theatre, there ever followed a great shout, after which some time was allowed for the benedictions of the people; and then the matter proposed, when Timoleon had spoken to it, was put to the suffrage; which given, his servants bore him back in his chair, accompanied by the people clapping their hands, and making all expressions of joy and applause, till, leaving him at his house, they returned to the despatch of their business. And this was the life of Timoleon, till he died of age, and dropped like a mature fruit, while the eyes of the people were as the showers of autumn.
The life and death of my Lord Archon (but that he had his senses to the last, and that his character, as not the restorer, but the founder of a commonwealth, was greater) are so exactly the same, that (seeing by men wholly ignorant of antiquity I am accused of writing romance) I shall repeat nothing: but tell you that this year the whole nation of Oceana, even to the women and children, were in mourning, where so great or sad a funeral pomp had never been seen or known. Some time after the performance of the obsequies a Colossus, mounted on a brazen horse of excellent fabric, was erected in the piazza of the Pantheon, engraved with this inscription on the eastern side of the pedestal:
And on the wester with the following:
Piae et Perpetuae Memorie
LORD ARCHON, AND SOLE LEGISLATOR
Invincible in the Field The Greatest of Captains
Inviolable in his Faith The Best of Princes
Unfeigned in his Zeal The Happiest of Legislators
Immortal in his Fame The Most Sincere of Christians
Who setting the Kingdoms of Earth at Liberty, Took the Kingdom of the Heavens by Violence.
Anno AEtat. suoe 116
Hujus Reipub. 50
DESCRIPTION OF OCEANA
OCEANA is saluted by the panegyrist after this manner: “O the most blessed and fortunate of all countries, Oceana! how deservedly has nature with the bounties of heaven and earth endued thee! Thy ever fruitful womb not closed with ice nor dissolved by the raging star; where Ceres and Bacchus are perpetual twins: thy woods are not the harbor of devouring beasts, nor thy continual verdure the ambush of serpents, but the food of innumerable herds and flocks presenting thee, their shepherdess, with distended dugs or golden fleeces. The wings of thy night involve thee not in the horror of darkness, but have still some white feather; and thy day is (that for which we esteem life) the longest.” But this ecstasy of Pliny, as is observed by Bertius, seems to allude as well to Marpesia and Panopea, now provinces of this commonwealth, as to Oceana itself.
To speak of the people in each of these countries. This of Oceana, for so soft a one, is the most martial in the whole world. “Let States that aim at greatness,” says Verulamius, “take heed how their nobility and gentlemen multiply too fast, for that makes the common subject grow to be a peasant and base swain driven out of heart, and in effect but a gentleman’s laborer; just as you may see in coppice woods, if you leave the staddels too thick, you shall never have clean underwood, but shrubs and bushes; so in countries, if the gentlemen be too many, the commons will be base; and you will bring it to that at last, that not the hundreth poll will be fit for a helmet, specially as to the infantry, which is the nerve of an army, and so there will be great population and little strength. This of which I speak has been nowhere better seen than by comparing of Oceana and France, whereof Oceana, though far less in territory and population, has been nevertheless an overmatch, in regard the middle people of Oceana make good solders, which the peasants in France do not.” In which words Verulamius, as Machiavel has done before him, harps much upon a string which he has not perfectly tuned, and that is, the balance of dominion or property, as it follows more plainly, in his praise “of the profound and admirable device of Panurgus, King of Oceana, in making farms and houses of husbandry of a standard; that is, maintained with such a proportion of land to them as may breed a subject to live in convenient plenty, and no servile condition, and to keep the plough in the hands of the owners, and not mere hirelings. And thus, indeed,” says he, “you shall attain to Virgil’s character which he gives of ancient Italy.” But the tillage, bringing up a good soldiery, brings up a good commonwealth; which the author in the praise of Panurgus did not mind, nor Panurgus in deserving that praise; for where the owner of the plough comes to have the sword, too, he will use it in defence of his own; whence it has happened that the people of Oceana, in proportion to their property, have been always free. And the genius of this nation has ever had some resemblance with that of ancient Italy, which was wholly addicted to commonwealths, and where Rome came to make the greatest account of her rustic tribes, and to call her consuls from the plough; for in the way of parliaments, which was the government of this realm, men of country lives have been still intrusted with the greatest affairs, and the people have constantly had an aversion to the ways of the court. Ambition, loving to be gay and to fawn, has been a gallantry looked upon as having something in it of the livery; and husbandry, or the country way of life, though of a grosser spinning, as the best stuff of a commonwealth, according to Aristotle, such a one being the most obstinate assertress of her liberty and the least subject to innovation or turbulency. Wherefore till the foundations, as will be hereafter shown, were removed, this people was observed to be the least subject to shakings and turbulency of any; whereas commonwealths, upon which the city life has had the stronger influence, as Athens, have seldom or never been quiet, but at the best are found to have injured their own business by overdoing it. Whence the urban tribes of Rome, consisting of the Turba forensis, and libertines that had received their freedom by manumission, were of no reputation in comparison of the rustics. It is true that with Venice it may seem to be otherwise, in regard the gentlemen (for so are all such called as have a right to that government) are wholly addicted to the city life; but then the Turba forensis, the secretaries, Cittadini, with the rest of the populace, are wholly excluded. Otherwise a commonwealth consisting but of one city would doubtless be stormy, in regard that ambition would be every man’s trade; but where it consists of a country, the plough in the hands of the owner finds him a better calling, and produces the most innocent and steady genius of a commonwealth, such as is that of Oceana.
Marpesia, being the northern part of the same island, is the dry-nurse of a populous and hardy nation, but where the staddels have been formerly too thick, whence their courage answered not their hardiness, except in the nobility, who govern much after the manner of Poland, but that the King was not elective till the people received their liberty; the yoke of the nobility being broken by the commonwealth of Oceana, which in grateful return is thereby provided with an inexhaustible magazine of auxiliaries.
Panopea, the soft mother of a slothful and pusillanimous people, is a neighbor island, anciently subjected by the arms of Oceana; since almost depopulated for shaking the yoke, and at length replanted with a new race. But, through what virtues of the soil or vice of the air soever it be, they come still to degenerate. Wherefore seeing it is neither likely to yield men fit for arms, nor necessary it should, it had been the interest of Oceana so to have disposed of this province, being both rich in the nature of the soil, and full of commodious ports for trade, that it might have been ordered for the best in relation to her purse, which in my opinion, if it had been thought upon in time, might have been best done by planting it with Jews, allowing them their own rites and laws; for that would have brought them suddenly from all parts of the world, and in sufficient numbers. And though the Jews be now altogether for merchandise, yet in the land of Canaan (except since their exile from whence they have not been landlords) they were altogether for agriculture; and there is no cause why a man should doubt, but having a fruitful country and excellent ports, too, they would be good at both. Panopea, well peopled, would be worth a matter of £4,000,000 dry-rents; that is, besides the advantage of the agriculture and trade, which, with a nation of that industry, come at least to as much more. Wherefore Panopea, being farmed out to the Jews and their heirs forever, for the pay of a provincial army to protect them during the term of seven years, and for £2,000,000 annual revenue from that time forward, besides the customs, which would pay the provincial army, would have been a bargain of such advantage, both to them and this commonwealth, as is not to be found otherwise by either. To receive the Jews after any other manner into a commonwealth were to maim it; for they of all nations never incorporate, but taking up the room of a limb, are of no use office to the body, while they suck the nourishment which would sustain a natural and useful member.
If Panopea had been so disposed of, that knapsack, with the Marpesian auxiliary, had been an inestimable treasure; the situation of these countries being islands (as appears by Venice how advantageous such a one is to the like government) seems to have been designed by God for a commonwealth. And yet that, through the straitness of the place and defect of proper arms, can be no more than a commonwealth for preservation; whereas this, reduced to the like government, is a commonwealth for increase, and upon the mightiest foundation that any has been laid from the beginning of the world to this day.
“Illam arcta capiens Neptunus compede stringit:
Hanc autem glaucis captus complectitur ulnis.”
The sea gives law to the growth of Venice, but the growth of Oceana gives law to the sea.
These countries, having been anciently distinct and hostile kingdoms, came by Morpheus the Marpesian, who succeeded by hereditary right to the crown of Oceana, not only to be joined under one head, but to be cast, as it were by a charm, into that profound sleep, which, broken at length by the trumpet of civil war, has produced those effects that have given occasion to the preceding discourse, divided into four parts.