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principle thus laid down by Thucydides is not intended to give a scientific explanation of the manner in which government is conducted, for in this case he would have enounced an identical proposition; but it is intended to enforce the doctrine, that whenever one community has the power of reducing another community to subjection, it will invariably exercise that power; and that the exercise of power under such circumstances is a universal law of human nature.('')
Machiavel, in his Prince, lays it down that men in general are wicked and faithless, whence he infers that any ruler who relies on other men keeping faith with him is sure to be deceived, and that it is necessary for him to anticipate the treachery of others, by his own constant use of deceit and falsehood. (9)
Something similar to these general affirmations respecting the conduct which all men are likely to pursue, under certain circumstances, is the proposition, that all men act according to their interest; from which it has been attempted to deduce a general theory of government.(**) But propositions such as those which have been just adduced, namely, that the strong always reduce the weak to subjection—that all men are bad, and violate their promises and engagements—that all men act according to their own exclusive interest,(*) unless they are so limited and attenuated by verbal interpretations, as to become nearly identical propositions, and to lose their obvious meaning-cannot be taken as absolute and universal truths. In many cases,
.(41) Conquest and power over neighbours are the end of some constitutions, according to Aristot. Pol. vii. 2: map evious dè kai tñs modereias ουτος όρος των νόμων, όπως δεσπόζωσι των πελας. The Cretan laws were framed merely with reference to war, according to Plat. Leg. iv. 2, p. 705. Compare Aristot. Pol. ij. 9.
(42) ' Non può pertanto un Signore prudente, nè debbe, osservare la fede, quando tale osservanzia gli torni contro, e che sono spente le cagioni che la fecero promettere. E se li uomini fussero tutti buoni, questo precetto saria buono; ma perchè sono tristi, e non l'osserverebbero a te, tu ancora non l'hai da osservare a loro.'— Principe, c. 18.
(43) See Mill's System of Logic, b. vi. c. 8.
(44) • It is very unsafe to assume that nations will always pursue their true political interest, where present temptations of vanity or ambition intervene.'-Grote, Hist. of Gr. vol. vii. p. 258.
sometimes in the majority of cases, they may prove true ; but in many other cases they prove false. Men do not always act in the manner which these propositions describe. Nor even when they do violate engagements, and act for their own exclusive advantage, to the detriment of others, do they always carry their breaches of faith, and their pursuit of their interest, to the same length, or seek to attain their ends by the same means. Propositions of this extent, if taken as practical guides in politics, in their full acceptation and literal construction, without qualification or adjustment to circumstances, and recognised as descriptive of a universal fact, are sure to mislead. In following the successive events of political history, and in tracing the operation of political causes, much will doubtless occur to show the predominance of the bad part of human nature; but the political philosopher, as well as the practical politician, must beware of looking on mankind with the eye of the satirist, and of seeing only the vices of men and communities, and the follies or oppressions of governments. Speculative and practical error may as well arise from assuming men to be worse, as from assuming them to be better, than they really are. The sarcasms of Swift or Larochefoucauld, must not be mistaken for a true account of universal human nature.
Many other apophthegms or general propositions concerning man, similar to those just mentioned, occur in the works of historians and politicians, and are accepted as truths in political discussion. Such, for example, is the saying of Bias, that the possession of political power shows a man's true character and capacity:'() According to Tacitus, it is a characteristic of
(45) ápxò ävdpa delkrvoi. See Aristot. Eth. Nic. v. 2; Diogenian, Prov. ü. 94, cum not. Compare Bacon, Essay xi. • Of Great Place.'
The same thought occurs in Télémaque : 'La condition privée, quand on y joint un peu d'esprit pour bien parler, couvre tous les défauts naturels, relève des. talents éblouissants, et fait paraître un homme digne de toutes les places dont il est éloigné. Mais c'est l'autorité qui met tous les talents à une rude épreuve, et qui decouvre de grands défauts.'-liv. x. Hence the wellknown remark of Tacitus respecting Galba : 'Omnium consensu capax imperii nisi imperasset.'—Hist. i. 49.
human nature to hate those whom you have injured :(*) also, that those who have endured ill usage from others should themselves be cruel.(67) It has been remarked, that a common danger draws
together the bitterest enemies :(48) that he whom many fear, must * fear many :(69) that the maintenance of faith on one side produces
a disposition to maintain it on the other : that soldiers fight best in a just cause :(60) that expressions of hatred against men in power are more often sincere than professions of friendship.(01) The mutability and inconstancy of a large multitude—its proneness to
pass from one extreme of feeling to another, from servility to insolence, from exultation to depression, from anger to pity, and its moveability by external influences, have often been remarked. (63) On the other hand, it has been maintained that
(46) • Proprium humani ingenii est odisse, quem læseris.' — Tacit. Agric. c. 42. See Sen. de Irå, i. 33, § 1: oi d'eŮ TETTOINKÓTES Piloñol kaì ảyan@ol toùs eŮ TETOVOótas.--Aristot. Eth. N. ix. 7.
(47) Rufus, an old soldier who had risen from the ranks : Vetus operis ac laboris, et eo immitior quia toleraverat.' - Ann. i. 20. Les hommes extrêmement heureux, et les hommes extrêmement malheureux, sont également portés à la dureté, témoin les moines et les conquérants. Il n'y a que la mediocrité, et le mélange de la bonne et de la mauvaise fortune, qui donnent de la douceur et de la pitié.'— Montesquieu, Esprit des Lois, vi. 9. Also Juvenal, of the great :
• Rarus enim ferme sensus communis in illâ
viii. 73. The remark of Tacitus appears to be oftener true than that of Juvenal.
(48) συνάγει τους εχθίστους ο κοινός φόβος.-Aristot. Pol. ν. 5.
(49) Necesse est multos timeat, quem multi timent.-Publ. Syr. v. 448 ; and Seneca de Irá, ii. 11.
(50) Vult sibi quisque credi, et habita fides ipsam plerumque obligat fidem.—Livy, xxii. 22.
Frangit et attollit vires in milite caussa,
Quæ nisi justa subest, excutit arma pudor.'—Propert. iv. 6, 51. (51) 'Sensit, vetus regnandi, falsos in amore, odia non fingere.'—Tacit. Ann. vi. 44.
(52) * Hæc natura multitudinis est; aut servit humiliter aut superbe dominatur.'—Livy, xxiv. 25. Multitudo omnis, sicut natura maris, per se immobilis est, venti et auræ cient.'—Ib. xxviii. 27. Compare Solon, Fr. 26, ed. Bergk ; Babrius, Fab. 71; and the verses of a comic poet, cited in Dio. Chrysost. Or. xxxii. § 23, p. 424, ed. Emper. :
δημος άστατον κακόν,
popular bodies are not fickle in their attachments to persons;(**) and Mr. Macaulay says that the common people are constant to their favourites, but chuse them ill.(4)
All treatises of descriptive ethics, all collections of apophthegms and proverbs, contain propositions of this sort, which profess to state generally how men act in a certain set of circumstances. (5) It is true, for example, in general, that parents love their children, and that children love their parents; that husbands love their wives, and that wives love their husbandsthough these propositions are not universally true. In all general reasoning, even for practical purposes, such propositions may be assumed as representing the ordinary and prevalent state of things, but in individual action, such general presumptions must, where it is possible, be corrected by positive testimony as to the actual facts of the case. For example, in framing a law with respect to the testamentary disposition of property for an entire nation, it may be assumed that parents are desirous of providing for and benefiting their children; but if Sir Robert Walpole, in his political conduct, had applied the general presumption of a friendly relation between father and son to the special case of George the Second and Frederick Prince of Wales, without in
pronum in misericordiam quam immodicum sævitiâ.'-Tacit. Hist. i. 69. * Ut vero deformis et flens et præter spem incolumis valens process it, gaudium, miseratio, favor; versi in lætitiam, ut est vulgus utroque immodicum.' -16. ii. 29. Speaking of the military system of Augustus, Gibbon says:
The troops professed the fondest attachment to the house of Cæsar ; but the attachments of the multitude are capricious and inconstant.'— Decline and Fall, c. 3, vol. i. p. 95. Nihil tam incertum nec tam inæstimabile est, quam animi multitudinis.'-Livy, xxxi. 34. (53) Grote, Hist. of Gr. vol. iv.
504. (54) History of Eng. vol. i. p. 631. The variety of opinions expressed by eminent writers on the subject of popular fickleness may perhaps be somewhat diminished by the remark, that insincerity has sometimes been mistaken for instability, and that the withdrawal of popular favour from the fallen may be owing rather to meanness than to change of opinion. Hence Juvenal :
Sequitur fortunam ut semper, et odit
x. 73. See Plutarch, Demetr. 30.
(55) The Politica, or Civilis Doctrina, of Lipsius (Opera, tom. iv.), contains a large collection of general sentences from the classical writers upon all branches of politics.
quiring into the actual facts, he would have committed serious practical errors.
General presumptions respecting the operation of the moral sentiments likewise require to be modified, not only according to persons, but also according to time and place, as will be shown more at length in the next chapter. Feelings which operate with intensity in one state of civilization, and in one community, sometimes act feebly in another state of civilization and in another community.
§ 5 Another class of propositions belonging to the same head, are those which attempt to lay down universal affirmations respecting the character and influence of political power, and of certain political forms or institutions.
Taking for granted the definitions of positive politics, and assuming that we know what a government is, what are its parts, organs, and functions—in short, that we know of the body politic what a physiologist teaches us of the body natural—we may proceed to ask what is the character and operation of a government constituted in a certain manner, or composed of persons belonging to a certain class ? what is the operation of a law making certain enactments, prohibiting or permitting certain things? what are the practical effects of such and such a tax? what general propositions can be laid down concerning the actual working of government? With respect to the operation of political power, and the character of persons invested with or affected by it, there are such general propositions as the following:
• That no man is a good governor unless he has previously been a subject.?(50)
* That political power is easily retained by the same arts as those by which it was originally acquired.()
(56) διό και λέγεται και τούτο καλώς, ως ουκ έστιν εν άρξαι μη αρχθέντα.Aristot. Pol. iii. 4. Qui bene imperat, paruerit aliquando necesse est.'Cic. de Leg. iii. 2. Nemo regere potest, nisi qui et regi.'—Seneca de Irå, ii. 15.
(57) Imperium facile his artibus retinetur, quibus initio partum est.' -Sallust. Bell. Cat. c. 2.