Monday, August 1, 2011

Brief thoughts on Gordon's Discourses on Tacitus

Thanks to The Liberty Fund and my Sony Reader (thanks again, honey!), I've recently had the privilege to read the following passages:
An absolute Prince is of all others the most insecure; as he proceeds by no rule of Law, he can have no rule of Safety. He acts by violence, and violence is the only remedy against him. (p. 145)
It is indeed apparent from our History, that those of our Princes who thirsted most violently after arbitrary rule, were chiefly those as were remarkable for poor spirit, and small genius, Pedants, Bigots, the timorous and effeminate. (p.148)
When men are once above fear of punishment, they soon grow to be above shame. Besides, the genius and abilities of men are limited, but their passions and vanity boundless; hence so few can be perfectly good, and so many are transcendently evil. They mistake good fortune for good merit, and are apt to rise in their own conceit as high at least as fortune can take them. (p.162)
Would a Prince live in security, ease, and credit? let him live and rule by a standard certain and fixed, that of Laws, nor grasp at more than is given him. Many by seeking too much have lost all, and forfeited their Crown through the wantonness and folly of loading it with false and invidious ornaments. While nothing would serve them but lawless Power, even their legitimate Authority grew odious, and was rent from them. (p.168)
The lessons set forth here apply equally well whether one considers the example of (in the realm of drama) Macbeth, or (in the realm of history) the C├Žsars, or...more recent exemplars.

No comments:

Post a Comment