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the ambition of private men; who thus become, indeed, the great instruments for deciding of such quarrels, and at last are sure to seize on the prize. But, no man that fees a flock of vultures hovering over two armies ready to engage, can justly charge the blood drawn in the battle to them, though the carcases fall to their share. For, while the balance of power is equally held, the ambition of private men, whether orators or great commanders, gives neither danger nor fear, nor can possibly enslave their country; but, that once broken, the divided parties are forced to unite each to its head ; under whose conduct or fortune, one fide is at first victorious, and at last both are flaves. And, to put it paft dispute, that this entire subversion of the Roman liberty and constitution was altogether owing to those measures, which had broke the balance between the patricians and plebeians, whereof the ambition of particular men was but an effect and consequence; we need only consider, that, when the uncorrupted part of the fenate had, by the death of Cæsar, made one great effort to restore their former state and liberty, the success did not answer their hopes ; but that whole assembly was so sunk in its authority, that those patriots were forced to fly, and give way to the madness of the people, who, by their own dispositions, stirred up with the harangues of their orators, were now whoily bent upon single and despotic lavery. Else, how could such a profligate as Antony, or a boy of eighteen, like Octavius, ever dare to dream
of giving the law to such an empire and people? wherein the latter succeeded, and entailed the vilest tyranny, that heaven, in its anger, ever inflicted on a corrupt and poisorred people. And this, with so little appearance, at Ca sar's death, that, when Cicero wrote to Brutus, how he had prevailed, by his credit with Octavius, to promise him (Brutus] pardon and security for his person, that great Roman received the notice with the utmost indignity, and returned Cicero an answer, yet upon record, full of the highest resentment and contempt for such an offer, and from such a hand.
Here ended all shew or shadow of liberty in Rome. Here was the repofitory of all the wise contentions and struggles for power between the nobles and commons, lapped up fafely in the bofom of a Nero and a Caligula, a Tiberius and a Domitian.
Let us now fee, from this deduction of particular impeachments, and general diffenfions in Greece and Rome, what conclusions may naturally be formed for the instruction of any other state, that may, haply, upon many points, labour under the like circumstances.
CHA P. IV.
ITPON the subject of impeachments, we may
observe, that the custom of accusing the nobles to the people, either by themselves or their orators, (now styled an impeachment in the name of the commons ) hath been very ancient, both in Greece and Rome, as well as Carthage; and VOL. II.
therefore, therefore, may seem to be the inherent right of a free people, nay, perhaps it is really so: but then, it is to be considered, first, that this custom was peculiar to republics, or such states where the administration lay principally in the hands of the commons, and ever raged more or less, according to their encroachments upon absolute power; having been always looked upon, by the wisest men and best authors of those times, as an effect of licentiousness, and not of liberty; a distinction, which no multitude, either represented or collective, hath been, at any time, very nice in observing. However, perhaps this custom, in popular states, of impeaching particular men, may seem to be nothing else but the peoples chusing, upon occafion, to exercise their own jurisdiction in person ; as if a king of England should fit as chief justice in his court of King's Bench; which, they say, in former times, he sometimes did. But in Sparta, which was called a kingly government, though the people were perfectly free, yet, because the administration was in the two kings and the ephori, with the assistance of the senate, we read of no impeachments by the people ; nor was the process against great men, either upon account of ambition or ill conduct, though it reached fometimes to kings themselves, ever formed that way, as I can recollect;. but only passed through those hands, where the administration lay. So likewise, during the regal government in Rome, though it was instituted a mixed monarchy, and the people made great advances in power, yet, I
do not remember to have read of one impeachment from the commons against a patrician, until the consular state began, and the people had made great encroachments upon the administration.
Another thing to be considered, is, that, allowing this right of impeachment to be as inherent as they please, yet, if the commons have been perpetually mistaken in the merits of the causes and the persons, as well as in the consequences of such impeachments upon the peace of the state, we cannot conclude less, than that the commons in Greece and Rome (whatever they may be in other states) were by no means qualified, either as prosecutors or judges in such matters ; and therefore, that it would have been prudent, to have reserved these privileges dormant, never to be produced but upon very great and urging occasions, where the state is in apparent danger, the universal body of the people in clamours against the administration, and no other remedy in view. But, for a few popular orators or tribunes, upon the score of personal piques ; or to employ the pride they conceive in seeing themselves at the head of a party; or as a method for advancement ; or moved by certain powerful arguments that could make Demofthenes philippize : for such men, I say, when the state would, of itself, gladly be quiet, and hath, besides, affairs of the last importance upon the anvil, to impeach Miltiades*, Z 2
* Though, in other passages, Lord Orford's character is supposed to be drawn under the name of Themistocles, yet be
after a great noval victory, for not pursuing the Persian fleet ; to impeach Aristides, the person moft versed among them in the knowledge and practice of their laws, for a blind fufpicion of his acting in an arbitrary qvay (that is, as they expound it, not in concert with the people ;) to impeach Pericles, ofter all his services, for a few inconsiderable accounts, or to impeach Phocion, who had been guilty of no on ther crime but negotiating a treaty for the peace and security of his country: what could the continuance of such proceedings end in, but the utter discouragement of all virtuous actions and persons, and consequently, in the ruin of a state? Therefore, the historians of those ages seldom fail to set this · matter in all its lights, leaving us the highest and most honourable ideas of those persons, who suffered by the persecution of the people, together with the fatal consequences they had, and how the persecutors feldom failed to repent, when it Wis too late.
These impeachments, perpetually falling upon many of the best men, both in Greece and Rome, are a cloud of witnesses, and examples enow, to discourage men of virtue and abilities from engaging in the service of the public; and help, on the other side, to introduce the ambitious, the covetous, the superficial, and the ill-designing; who are as apt to be bold, and forward, and meddling, as the former are to be cautious, and modest, and reserved. This was so well
feems to be represented by Miltiades here ; for Themistocles was not impeached at all. See p. 242. Hawkes,