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ance would there be of any compact, what new engagement, if he were no further tied by any decrees of the society than he himself thought fit, and did actually consent to? This would be still as great a liberty as he himself had before his compact, or any one else in the state of nature hath, who may submit himself, and consent to any acts of it if he thinks fit.
For if the consent of the majority shall not, in reason, be received as the act of the whole, and conclude every individual, nothing but the consent of every individual can make any thing to be the act of the whole : but such a consent is next to impossible ever to be had, if we consider the infirmities of health, and avocations of business, which in a number, though much less than that of a commonwealth, will necessarily keep many away from the public assembly. To which if we add the variety of opinions, and contrariety of interest, which unavoidably happen in all collections of men, the coming into society upon such terms would be only like Cato's coming into the theatre,-only to go out again. Such a constitution as this would make the mighty leviathan of a shorter duration than the feeblest creatures, and not let it outlast the day it was born in : which cannot be supposed, till we can think that rational creatures should desire and constitute societies only to be dissolved; for where the majority cannot conclude the rest, there they cannot act as one body, and consequently will be immediately dissolved again.
Whosoever, therefore, out of a state of nature unite into a community, must be understood to give up all the power, necessary to the ends for which they unite into society, to the majority of the community, unless they expressly agreed in any number greater than the majority. And this is done by barely agreeing to unite into one political society, which is all the compact that is, or needs be, between the individuals that enter into or make up a commonwealth. And thus that which begins and actually constitutes any political society, is nothing but the consent of any number of freemen capable of a majority, to unite and incorporate into such a society. And this is that, and that only, which did, or could, give beginning to any lawful government in the world.
To this I find two objections made.
First, “That there are no instances to be found in story of a company of men, independent and equal one amongst another, that met together, and in this way began and set up a government."
Secondly, “ It is impossible, of right, that men should do so, because all men being born under government, they are to submit to that, and are not at liberty to begin a new one.”
To the first there is this to answer, That it is not at all to be wondered that history gives us but a very little account of men that lived together in the state of nature. The inconveniencies of that condition, and the love and want of society, no sooner brought any number of them together, but they presently united and incorporated, if they designed to continue together. And if we may not suppose men ever to have been in the state of nature, because we hear not much of them in such a state, we may as well suppose the armies of Salmanasser or Xerxes were never children, because we hear little of them till they were men, and embodied in armies. Government is everywhere antecedent to records, and letters seldom come in amongst a people till a long continuation of civil society has, by other more necessary arts, provided for their safety, ease, and plenty; and then they begin to look after the history of their founders, and search into their original, when they have outlived the memory of it: for it is with commonwealths as with particular persons, they are commonly ignorant of their own births and infancies; and if they know anything of their original, they are beholden for it to the accidental records that others have kept of it. And those that we have of the beginning of any politics in the world, excepting that of the Jews, where God himself immediately interposed, and which favours not at all paternal dominion, are all either plain instances of such a beginning as I have mentioned, or at least have manifest footsteps of it.
He must show a strange inclination to deny evident matter of fact, when it agrees not with his hypothesis, who will not allow that the beginnings of Rome and Venice were by the uniting together of several men free and independent one of another, amongst whom there was no natural superiority or subjection. And if Josephus Acosta's word may be taken, he tells us that in many parts of America there was no government at all. “There are great and apparent conjectures (says he), that these men (speaking of those of Peru), for a long time had neither kings nor commonwealths, but lived in troops, as they do this day in Florida, the Cheriquanas, those of Brazil, and many other nations, which have no certain kings, but as occasion is offered, in peace or war, they choose their captains as they please” (lib. i., cap. 25). If it be said, that every man there was born subject to his father, or the head of his family ; that the subjection due from a child to a father took not away his freedom of uniting into what political society he thought fit, has been already proved. But be that as it will, these men, it is evident, were actually free ; and whatever superiority some politicians now would place in any of them, they themselves claimed it not, but by consent were all equal, till by the same consent they set rulers over themselves. So that their politic societies all began from a voluntary union, and the mutual agreement of men freely acting in the choice of their governors and forms of government.
And I hope those who went away from Sparta with Palantus, 3mentioned by Justin (lib. iii. cap. 4), will be allowed to have been freemen, independent one of another, and to have set up a government over themselves by their own consent. Thus I have given several examples out of history, of people free and in the state of nature, that being met together, incorporated and began a commonwealth. And if the want of such instances be an argument to prove
governments were not, nor could not be so begun, I suppose the contenders for paternal empire were better let it alone than urge it against natural liberty; for if they can give so many instances out of history, of governments begun upon paternal right, I think (though at best an argument from what has been, to what should of right be, has no great force) one might, without any great danger, yield them the
But if I might advise them in the case, they would do well not to search too much into the original of governments, as they have begun de facto ; lest they should find, at the foundation of most of
them, something very little favourable to the design they promote, and such a power as they contend for.
But to conclude: reason being plain on our side that men are naturally free, and the examples of history showing that the governments of the world, that were begun in peace, had their beginning laid on that foundation, and were made by the consent of the people; there can be little room for doubt, either where the right is, or what has been the opinion or practice of mankind, about the first erecting of governments.
I will not deny, that if we look back as far as history will direct us towards the original of commonwealths, we shall generally find them under the government and administration of one man. And I am also apt to believe, that where a family was numerous enough to subsist by itself, and continued entire together, without mixing with others, as it often happens where there is much land and few people, the government commonly began in the father : for the father having, by the law of nature, the same power with every man else to punish, as he thought fit, any offences against that law, might thereby punish his transgressing children, even when they were men and out of their pupilage ; and they were very likely to submit to his punishment, and all join with him against the offender, in their turns, giving him thereby power to execute his sentence against any transgression, and so in effect make him the law maker and governor over all that remained in conjunction with his family. He was fittest to be trusted; paternal affection secured their property and interest under his care; and the custom of obeying him, in their childhood, made it easier to submit to him, rather than to any other. If, therefore, they must have one to rule them, as government is hardly to be avoided amongst men that live together, who so likely to be the man as he that was their common father ; unless negligence, cruelty, or any other defect of mind or body, made him unfit for it? But when either the father died, and left his next heir, for want of age, wisdom, courage, or any other qualities, less fit for rule ; or where several families met and consented to continue together; there it is not to be doubted but they used their natural freedom to set up him whom they judged the
ablest, and most likely to rule well over them. Conformable hereunto we find the people of America, who (living out of the reach of the conquering swords and spreading domination of the two great empires of Peru and Mexico) enjoyed their own natural freedom, though, caeteris paribus, they commonly prefer the heir of their deceased king, yet, if they find him any way weak or incapable, they pass him by, and set up the stoutest and bravest man for their ruler.
Thus, though looking back as far as records give us any account of peopling the world, and the history of nations, we, commonly find the government to be in one hand, yet it destroys not that which I affirm, viz., that the beginning of politic society depends upon the consent of the individuals, to join into, and make one society ; who, when they are thus incorporated, might set up what form of government they thought fit. But this having given occasion to men to mistake, and think that by nature government was monarchical, and belonged to the father, it may not be amiss here to consider why people in the beginning generally pitched upon this form ; which though perhaps the father's pre-eminency might, in the first institution of some commonwealth, give rise to, and place in the beginning the power in one hand, yet it is plain that the reason that continued the form of government in a single person was not any regard or respect to paternal authority ; since all petty monarchies, that is, almost all monarchies near their original, have been commonly, at least upon occasion, elective.
First, then, in the beginning of things, the father's government of the childhood of those sprung from him, having accustomed them to the rule of one man, and taught them that where it was exercised with care and skill, with affection and love to those under it, it was sufficient to procure and preserve to men all the political happiness they sought for in society; it was no wonder that they should pitch upon, and naturally run into, that form of government, which from their infancy they had been all accustomed to, and which, by experience, they had found both easy and safe. To which if we add, that monarchy being simple, and most obvious to men whom neither experience had instructed in forms of government, nor the ambition