Chap 3-4: Republican Governments

Chap 3: How Republican Governments were introduced

  • We have considered the original principles of government and its progress in early society.
  • We have found [22] it to be democratic in general.
  • We now consider how republican governments were introduced.

 

  • Generally, the following make a country favourable to the introduction of a republican government:
    • a country’s situation, and
    • its improvement in agriculture and trade.
  • There is little probability that republican governments will ever be introduced into Tartary or Arabia, because their country cannot be improved.
    • Most part of its lands are hills and deserts.
      • These cannot be cultivated and is only fit for pasture.
      • They are generally dry and do not have any big rivers.
  • The opposite of this are those countries where republican governments have been established, particularly in Greece.
    • 2/3 of Attica are surrounded by sea.
      • The other side is surrounded by high mountains.
    • Because of this, they can communicate with neighbouring countries by sea.
      • At the same time, they are secured from their neighbours.
  • Most of the European countries have most of the same advantages.
    • They are divided by rivers and branches of the sea.
    • They are naturally fit for cultivation and other arts.

We shall now see how favourable this is to the reception of a republican government.

  • We may suppose that the progress of government in early Attica to have been the same with that in Tartary.
  • In reality, it was in the same situation during the Trojan war.
    • There was little or no cultivation then.
    • Cattle were the principal part of their property.
      • All the contests about property in Homer regard cattle.
    • Here, as in every other country in the same period, the [23] chieftain’s influence was very considerable.

 

  • When its land was divided and cultivated, its people would naturally dispose of their surplus among their neighbours.
    • This would spur their industry.
    • But at the same time, it would tempt their neighbours to attack them.
  • Therefore, they find some way:
    • to secure themselves from danger, and
    • to preserve what it formerly cost them so much trouble to procure.

 

It would be easier to fortify a town in a convenient place than to fortify the frontiers of the whole country.

  • Accordingly, they chose this method.
  • They built fortified towns in the most convenient places.
  • Whenever they were invaded, they took shelter in them with their flocks and moveable goods.
  • They cultivated the arts and sciences there.
  • Theseus fortified Athens and made the Atticans carry into it all their goods.
    • This increased:
      • his power over them and
      • the authority of Athens above other states.

 

When people agreed to live in towns, the chieftains would soon lose their authority.

  • The government would turn republican, because their revenue:
    • was small, and
    • could not make them so distinguished above others to retain them in dependence.
  • The citizens gradually increased in riches.
    • They came nearer the chieftain’s level.
    • They become jealous of his authority.
  • Theseus himself was turned out.
    • After this nine regents were set up who were at first to have authority for life, but were afterwards continued only for 10 years.
  • Thus, Athens, and in [24] all the Greek states went from a chieftainship to something like monarchy, and from thence to aristocracy.
    • In general, the revenue becomes insufficient to support the authority of many chieftains.
    • But a few getting superior wealth, form an aristocracy.

 

  • There is a considerable difference between the ancient and modern aristocracies.
    • In the modern republics of Venice, Milan, etc., the government is entirely in the hands of the hereditary nobility.
    • They have all the three powers of government.
  • In modern and ancient aristocracies, the people had the choice of those in authority.
    • But the difference is this, that only the nobility could be elected in modern times.
  • The institution of slavery caused this difference.
    • When the free men had all their work done by slaves, they could attend public deliberations.
    • But when the ground came to be cultivated by free men, the lower sort could not have it in their power to attend, but, consulting their interest, they would try to avoid it.
  • At Venice, the people wanted to be free of it.
    • In the same way, the towns in Holland voluntarily gave it up to the town council, which was thus vested with the whole power.

 

  • Nothing like this happened in the Greek and Roman republics.
  • In the early ages of these states, the people had the whole power.
    • But they were called aristocracies because they always chose their magistrate from the nobility.
  • They were not hindered by any express law to do otherwise.
    • But it was customary [25to do so, because the lower classes were maintained by the rich.
    • The lower classes:
      • became dependent on the rich and
      • gave their vote to him whose bounty they shared.
  • The nobility might differ among themselves about elections.
    • But they would never propose the election of plebeians.
    • Thus the nobility’s influence was the law, and not any express prohibition.

 

  • At Athens, Solon enacted that:
    • none of the lower of the four classes should be elected, and
    • afterwards, magistrates were elected out of all classes.
  • The government became democratic.

 

  • At Rome, it was long before the power of being elected extended to the people.
    • After decemvirs were appointed, the power of the people began to encroach more and more on the nobles.
    • It encroached still more when they got military tribunes elected.
  • This was caused by the improvement of arts and manufactures.
    • When a man can spend on domestic luxury what formerly supported 100 retainers, his power and influence naturally decrease.
    • Besides, the great usually had every trade done by their own slaves.
    • Therefore, the tailors and shoemakers were no longer dependent on them.
      • They would not give them their votes.
  • The popular leaders then tried to get laws passed by which they might be allowed to be elected magistrates.
    • It was long before the generality even of the plebeians would consent to this,
      • Because they thought it disagreeable to have their equals so far above them.
  • In time, however, they got it enacted that there should be in authority an equal number of patricians and plebeians, viz., a consul chosen out of each.

[26]


 

Chap 4: How Liberty was lost

  • We have shown:
    • how republics arose, and
    • how they again became democratic.
  • We next show how:
    • this liberty was lost, and
    • how monarchy was introduced.

 

  • The republics mentioned must either:
    • confine themselves within their ancient boundaries, or
    • enlarge their territory by conquest.
  • They must either be a defensive republic or a conquering one.
    • The Greek states are a good example of a defensive republic.
    • Rome and Carthage are examples of conquering republics.
  • We first show how the defensive states lost their liberty.

 

  • When a country arrives at a certain degree of refinement, it becomes less fit for war.
    • When the arts arrive at a certain degree of improvement, the population increases, yet that of fighting men becomes less.
  • In a state of shepherds the whole nation can go out to war.
    • They can send out a great number even when:
      • it becomes more refined,
      • the division of labour takes place, and
      • everyone has a small farm.
    • In such an age, their campaigns are always in summer.
    • From seed time until harvest, their young men have nothing to do but to serve in them.
    • The whole business at home can be performed by the old men and women.
      • Even these sometimes have beaten the enemy in the absence of their soldiers.

 

In a state where arts are carried on, and which consists chiefly of manufacturers, there cannot be sent out such numbers, [27] because if a weaver or tailor be called away, nothing is done in his absence.

  • Scarce one in an hundred can be spared from Britain and Holland.
    • Of 100 people, 50 are women.
    • Of 50 men, 25 are unfit for war.
  • In the last war, Britain could not spare so many.
    • One just needs to reflect if he had missed 1 out of 25 of his acquaintances to be convinced of this.
  • According to this principle, Athens could once send out 30,000 fighting men, even if it were a small state.
    • But after the improvement of arts, they could not send out more than 10,000.
  • Britain can still send out a very formidable army, despite its refinement from the size of its territories.
    • But a small state necessarily declines.

However, there is one, and only one, advantage of slavery in a small republic.

  • It retards their decline.
  • At Rome and Athens, the arts were done by slaves.
  • The Lacedaemonians went so far as not to allow any freeman to be brought up to mechanic employments, because they imagined that they hurt the body.
  • At the battle of Chaeronea, the Athenians became considerably refined.
    • They were able to send out many men because all their trades were done by slaves.
  • In the Italian republics, there was no slavery.
    • They soon lost their liberty.

When, a state becomes opulent because of the improvement of arts, going out to war is thought as a great hardship.

  • Whereas among our ancestors, it was not inconvenient to take the field.
  • A knight was no more than a horseman.
    • A foot-soldier was a farmer.
    • They were inured to hardships at home.
    • Therefore, a campaign [28] appeared not dreadful.

 

But when opulence and luxury increased, the rich would take the field only on the most urgent account.

  • It became necessary to employ mercenaries to serve in war.
  • Such persons could never be trusted in war unless they were:
    • reduced to the form of a standing army, and
    • subjected to rigid discipline.
  • Their private interest was but little concerned.
    • Therefore, without such treatment they could not be expected to be very resolute in their undertakings.
  • Gentlemen may carry on a war without much discipline.
    • But this a mob can never do.
  • The Greeks thought it below them to bear arms.
    • They entrusted the republic to mercenaries.
    • Their military force was reduced.
    • Consequently, their government could fall.

 

Another cause of their decline was the improvement of the art of war.

  • This rendered everything precarious.
  • In early ages, it was very difficult to take a city.
    • It could only be done by a long blockade.
  • The siege of Troy lasted 10 years.
    • Athens once could withstand for two years a siege by land and sea.
    • In modern times the besiegers have an advantage over the besieged.
    • A good engineer can force almost any town to surrender in six weeks.
  • But it was not so once.
    • Philip of Macedon made great improvements in this art.
    • This caused:
      • the dissolution of all the Greek governments and
      • their subjection to foreign powers.

 

Rome stood out much longer than Greece, because its population was increasing daily.

  • At Rome, anyone could be made a citizen.
  • But at Athens the right of citizenship was given to very few, since it was small.
  • However, Rome itself after opulence and luxury increased, shared the fate of other republics, though the event was brought about in a different way.
    • Until the time of Marius, the better sort of free men went out [29] to the field.
  • Marius was the first to recruit slaves.
    • He gathered the freed slaves into his army.
    • He established a rigid military discipline.
      • That army which before had consisted of farmers was now made up of runaway slaves and the lowest of the people.
      • With such an army, Marius conquered and kept the provinces in awe.
      • He had the disposal of all offices and posts in this army.
        • Every one among them owed his rise to him
        • Consequently they were dependent on him.

 

  • Whenever such a general was affronted, he would naturally apply to his army for relief.
    • They would easily side with their general against their own nation.
    • This was the very expedient that Marius used.
  • By the influence of Sylla he was banished from Rome in his absence.
    • A price set on him.
    • Marius applied to his army.
      • It then marched to Rome when Sylla was abroad on an expedition against Mithridates.
      • They took possession of the government and vanquished Sylla’s party.
  • Marius died soon after.
    • Sylla returned to Rome after conquering Mithridates.
    • He then beat the Marian party.
    • He changed the government into a monarchy.
    • He made himself perpetual Dictator.
      • He afterwards had the generosity and magnanimity to resign it.

Around 40 years after, the same thing happened between Caesar and Pompey.

  • Caesar, just like Sylla, made himself perpetual Dictator.
    • But did not have enough of public spirit to resign it.
  • His veteran troops were settled in Italy.
    • They were mindful of the favours he conferred on them.
    • After his death, they gathered about Octavius, his adopted son.
    • They invested him with the supreme authority.
  • Much the same thing happened in our own country with respect to Oliver Cromwell.
    • When the Parliament became jealous of him and disbanded the army, he applied to them.
    • He got the Parliament turned out and a new [30] one appointed more suitable to his mind, with the whole authority vested in himself.

 

  • Thus we have seen how small conquering or defensive republics were dissolved by the improvements in:
    • mechanic arts,
    • commerce, and
    • the arts of war.

 

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