To depend upon the Will of a Man is Slavery.

THIS, as he thinks, is farther sweetened, by asserting, that he doth not inquire what the rights of a people are, but from whence; not considering, that whilst he denies they can proceed from the laws of natural liberty, or any other root than the grace and bounty of the prince, he declares they can have none at all. For as liberty solely consists in an independency upon the will of another, and by the name of slave we understand a man, who can neither dispose of his person nor goods, but enjoys all at the will of his master; there is no such thing in nature as a slave, if those men or nations are not slaves, who have no other title to what they enjoy, than the grace of the prince, which he may revoke whensoever he pleaseth. But there is more than ordinary extravagance in his assertion, that the greatest liberty in the world is for a people to live under a monarch,[1] when his whole book is to prove, that this monarch hath his right from God and nature, is endowed with an unlimited power of doing what he pleaseth, and can be restrained by no law. If it be liberty to live under such a government, I desire to know what is slavery. It has been hitherto believed in the world, that the Assyrians, Medes, Arabs, Egyptians, Turks, and others like them, lived in slavery, because their princes were masters of their lives and goods: Whereas the Grecians, Italians, Gauls, Germans, Spaniards, and Carthaginians, as long as they had any strength, virtue or courage amongst them, were esteemed free nations, because they abhorred such a subjection. They were, and would be governed only by laws of their own making: Potentiora erant legum quam hominum imperia.[2] Even their princes had the authority or credit of persuading, rather than the power of commanding. But all this was mistaken: These men were slaves, and the Asiaticks were freemen. By the same rule the Venetians, Switsers, Grisons, and Hollanders, are not free nations: but liberty in its perfection is enjoyed in France, and Turkey. The intention of our ancestors was, without doubt, to establish this amongst us by Magna Charta, and other preceding or subsequent laws; but they ought to have added one clause, That the contents of them should be in force only so long as it should please the king. King Alfred, upon whose laws Magna Charta was grounded, when he said the English nation was as free as the internal thoughts of a man, did only mean, that it should be so as long as it pleased their master. This it seems was the end of our law, and we who are born under it, and are descended from such as have so valiantly defended their rights against the encroachments of kings, have followed after vain shadows, and without the expence of sweat, treasure, or blood, might have secured their beloved liberty, by casting all into the king's hands.

We owe the discovery of these secrets to our author, who after having so gravely declared them, thinks no offence ought to be taken at the freedom he assumes of examining things relating to the liberty of mankind, because he hath the right which is common to all: But he ought to have considered, that in asserting that right to himself, he allows it to all mankind. And as the temporal good of all men consists in the preservation of it, he declares himself to be a mortal enemy to those who endeavour to destroy it. If he were alive, this would deserve to be answered with stones rather than words. He that oppugns the publick liberty, overthrows his own, and is guilty of the most brutish of all follies, whilst he arrogates to himself that which he denies to all men.

I cannot but commend his modesty and care not to detract from the worth of learned men;[3] but it seems they were all subject to error, except himself, who is rendered infallible through pride, ignorance, and impudence. But if Hooker[4] and Aristotle were wrong in their fundamentals concerning natural liberty, how could they be in the right when they built upon it? Or if they did mistake, how can they deserve to be cited? or rather, why is such care taken to pervert their sense? It seems our author is by their errors brought to the knowledge of the truth. Men have heard of a dwarf standing upon the shoulders of a giant, who saw farther than the giant; but now that the dwarf standing on the ground sees that which the giant did overlook, we must learn from him. If there be sense in this, the giant must be blind, or have such eyes only as are of no use to him. He minded only the things that were far from him: These great and learned men mistook the very principle and foundation of all their doctrine. If we will believe our author, this misfortune befell them because they too much trusted to the Schoolmen. He names Aristotle, and I presume intends to comprehend Plato, Plutarch, Thucydides, Xenophon, Polybius, and all the ancient Grecians, Italians, and others, who asserted the natural freedom of mankind, only in imitation of the Schoolmen, to advance the power of the pope; and would have compassed their design, if Filmer and his associates had not opposed them. These men had taught us to make the unnatural distinction between royalist and patriot, and kept us from seeing, that the relation between king and people is so great, that their well being is reciprocal. If this be true, how came Tarquin to think it good for him to continue king at Rome, when the people would turn him out? or the people to think it good for them to turn him out, when he desired to continue in? Why did the Syracusians destroy the tyranny of Dionysius, which he was not willing to leave, till he was pulled out by the heels? How could Nero think of burning Rome? Or why did Caligula wish the people had but one neck, that he might strike it off at one blow, if their welfare was thus reciprocal? Tis not enough to say, these were wicked or mad men; for other princes may be so also, and there may be the same reason of differing from them. For if the proposition be not universally true, 'tis not to be received as true in relation to any, till it be particularly proved; and then 'tis not to be imputed to the quality of prince, but to the personal virtue of the man.

I do not find any great matters in the passages taken out of Bellarmine, which our author says, comprehend the strength of all that ever he had heard, read, or seen produced for the natural liberty of the subject:[5] but he not mentioning where they are to be found, I do not think myself obliged to examine all his works, to see whether they are rightly cited or not; however there is certainly nothing new in them: We see the same, as to the substance, in those who wrote many ages before him, as well as in many that have lived since his time, who neither minded him, nor what he had written. I dare not take upon me to give an account of his works, having read few of them; but as he seems to have laid the foundation of his discourses in such common notions as were assented to by all mankind, those who follow the same method have no more regard to Jesuitism and popery, tho he was a Jesuit and a cardinal, than they who agree with Faber[6] and other Jesuits in the principles of geometry which no sober man did ever deny.

[1] [Patriarcha, ch. 1.]

[2] C. Tacit. []

[3] [Patriarcha, ch. 1.]

[4] []

[5] [Patriarcha, ch. 2.]


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