Edmund Burke

A Vindication of Natural Society
by Edmund Burke
Hogeye Condensed Version

unedited version here

In theses notes I will discuss the points and themes that are important to anarchist thought, and relate how Burke's ideas have been modified and expanded by later theorists.

As an introduction to libertarianism, you can't do much better than this. "A Vindication of Natural Society" is the first explicitly anarchist essay ever written. Its powerful polymic against the State still resonates; one can't read this essay without applying it to our modern welfare-warfare States.

For more about the satire or not question, see Edmund Burke, Anarchist by Murray N. Rothbard, and Rothbard and Burke vs. the Cold War Burkeans by Joseph R. Stromberg.
There is controvery regarding whether Vindication was intended by Burke to be serious or satire. For our purpose here, that is irrelevant. It is a fact that many reasonable and learned men did take it quite seriously. Burke's themes were recalled and elaborated in many later writings on political philosophy; among those people influenced by Vindication were such anarchist luminaries as William Godwin and Benjamin Tucker.

Whether Burke was giving his own point of view, or providing his opponents with vital intellectual ammunition, his main points are still made today in debates about the legitimacy and proper extent of the State. Of course, it is ironic that the man who was to become the legendary "father of conservatism" wrote the seminal treatise on anarchism. This sort of thing happens when a man critically "examines a received Opinion with all that Freedom and Candour which we owe to Truth wherever we find it, or however it may contradict our own Notions, or oppose our own Interests."

Burke identifies the "unbiased arbiter" problem in the State of Nature, as Locke did.

He sees the state of nature in a rather negative way. Where he sees refusal to cooperate ("want of union, want of mutual assistance"), later anarchists would see a spontaneous voluntary form of "mutual aid"(Kropotkin) and "economic harmony" (Bastiat), with man naturally possessing a moral faculty and evolving "positive beneficence" (Herbert Spencer.)
In the State of Nature, without question, Mankind was subjected to many and great Inconveniencies. Want of Union, Want of mutual Assistance, Want of a common Arbitrator to resort to in their Differences. These were Evils which they could not but have felt pretty severely on many Occasions. The mutual Desires of the Sexes uniting their Bodies and Affections, and the Children, which were the Results of these Intercourses, introduced first the Notion of Society, and taught its Conveniences. This Society, founded in natural Appetites and Instincts, and not in any positive Institution, I shall call Natural Society.

Natural Society - Society founded in natural Appetites and Instincts, and not in any positive Institution
Political Society - a Union of many Families bound by the force of positive law

>Man found a considerable Advantage by this Union of many Persons to form one Family; he therefore judged that he would find his Account proportionably in an Union of many Families into one Body politick. And as Nature has formed no Bond of Union to hold them together, he supplied this Defect by Laws.

Later writers would theorize on how states evolved from hunter-gatherer groups. Burke simply points out that States do exist, under which virtually "all Mankind" has "fallen."

Throughout this piece, Burke reiterates that he is simply a truth-seeker, so please don't blame him for uncomfortable or politically incorrect implications. He is, as we say, covering his ass. Later, when he ran for Parliament, Burke renounced this essay, claiming it was satire.

This is Political Society. And hence the Sources of what are usually called States, civil Societies, or Governments; into some Form of which, more extended or restrained, all Mankind have gradually fallen. And since it has so happened, and that we owe an implicit Reverence to all the Institutions of our Ancestors, we shall consider these Institutions with all that Modesty with which we ought to conduct ourselves in examining a received Opinion; but with all that Freedom and Candour which we owe to Truth wherever we find it, or however it may contradict our own Notions, or oppose our own Interests.

Government necessarily involves submission to an artificial religion. Is Burke referring to "religions" like patriotism, nationalism, militarism, and imperialism?

Civil Government borrows a Strength from ecclesiastical; and artificial Laws receive a Sanction from artificial Revelations. The Ideas of Religion and Government are closely connected; and whilst we receive Government as a thing necessary, or even useful to our Well-being, we shall in spite of us draw in, as a necessary, tho' undesirable Consequence, an artificial Religion of some kind or other. To this the Vulgar will always be voluntary Slaves; and even those of a Rank of Understanding superior, will now and then involuntarily feel its Influence.

Is the State "a Protector, a Nurse, and Increaser of Blessings"? Or does it exacerbate the "natural evils" it purports to protect men against.

Burke is going to compare the State to Natural Society. Which is a more just society? Has the State been successful in protecting people's rights? Or has it caused even more death and destruction than would otherwise have been the case? Burke walks us through the State's long, bloody, authoritarian history, and argues that people would have been better off in Natural Society.

It is therefore of the deepest Concernment to us to be set right in this Point; and to be well satisfied whether civil Government be such a Protector from natural Evils, and such a Nurse and Increaser of Blessings, as those of warm Imaginations promise. I freely enquire from History and Experience, how far Policy has contributed in all Times to alleviate those Evils which Providence, that perhaps has designed us for a State of Imperfection, has imposed; how far our physical Skill has cured our constitutional Disorders; and whether, it may not have introduced new ones, cureable perhaps by no Skill.

In looking over any State to form a Judgment on it; it presents itself in two Lights, the external and the internal. The first, that Relation which it bears in point of Friendship or Enmity to other States. The second, that Relation its component Parts, the Governing, and the Governed, bear to each other.

external - relations with other States
internal - relations with subjects

The State's external relations are characterized by war.
The glaring Side is that of Enmity. War is the Matter which fills all History, and consequently the only, or almost the only View in which we can see the External of political Society, is in a hostile Shape; and the only Actions, to which we have always seen, and still see all of them intent, are such, as tend to the Destruction of one another. War, says Machiavelli, ought to be the only Study of a Prince; and by a Prince, he means every sort of State however constituted.

The powerful and poignant anti-war polemic in the next few pages hits even harder today; Burke lived before the massive death-tolls, weapons of mass destruction, and genocide of the 20th century.

All Empires have been cemented in Blood; and in those early Periods when the Race of Mankind began first to form themselves into Parties and Combinations, the first Effect of the Combination, and indeed the End for which it seems purposely formed, and best calculated, is their mutual Destruction. All ancient History is dark and uncertain. One thing however is clear. There were Conquerors, and Conquests, in those Days; and consequently, all that Devastation, by which they are formed, and all that Oppression by which they are maintained.

[Omitted: Burke details wars and mass-murders throughout history.]

Burke calculates that States through history have slaughtered roughly seventy times the number of people living in the world.

But I do not write to the Vulgar, nor to that which only governs the Vulgar, their Passions. I go upon a naked and moderate Calculation, just enough, without a pedantical Exactness, to give your Lordship some Feeling of the Effects of political Society. I charge the whole of these Effects on political Society. I avow the Charge, and I shall presently make it good to your Lordship's Satisfaction. The Numbers I particularized are about thirty-six Millions. Besides those killed in Battles I have something, not half what the Matter would have justified, but something I have said, concerning the Consequences of War even more dreadful than that monstrous Carnage itself which shocks our Humanity, and almost staggers our Belief. So that allowing me in my Exuberance one way, for my Deficiencies in the other, you will find me not unreasonable. I think the Numbers of Men now upon Earth are computed at 500 Millions at the most. Here the Slaughter of Mankind, on what you will call a small Calculation, amounts to upwards of seventy times the Number of Souls this Day on the Globe. A Point which may furnish matter of Reflection to one less inclined to draw Consequences than your Lordship.

The violence of States (war, occupation, slavery, and genocide) dwarfs the sporadic violence of Natural Society.

I now come to shew, that Political Society is justly chargeable with much the greatest Part of this Destruction of the Species. To give the fairest Play to every side of the Question, I will own that there is a Haughtiness, and Fierceness in human Nature, which will cause innumerable Broils, place Men in what Situation you please; but owning this, I still insist in charging it to political Regulations, that these Broils are so frequent, so cruel, and attended with Consequences so deplorable. In a State of Nature, it had been impossible to find a Number of Men, sufficient for such Slaughters, agreed in the same bloody Purpose; or allowing that they might have come to such an Agreement, (an impossible Supposition) yet the Means that simple Nature has supplied them with, are by no means adequate to such an End; many Scratches, many Bruises undoubtedly would be received upon all hands; but only a few, a very few Deaths.

States favor war technology - improved methods of killing - exacerbating the violence.

Society, and Politicks, which have given us these destructive Views, have given us also the Means of satisfying them. From the earliest Dawnings of Policy to this Day, the Invention of Men has been sharpening and improving the Mystery of Murder, from the first rude Essays of Clubs and Stones, to the present Perfection of Gunnery, Cannoneering, Bombarding, Mining, and all these Species of artificial, learned, and refined Cruelty, in which we are now so expert, and which make a principal Part of what Politicians have taught us to believe is our principal Glory.

The violence of States is worse than the violence of wild animals.

How far mere Nature would have carried us, we may judge by the Examples of those Animals, who still follow her Laws, and even of those to whom she has given Dispositions more fierce, and Arms more terrible than ever she intended we should use. It is an incontestable Truth, that there is more Havock made in one Year by Men, of Men, than has been made by all the Lions, Tygers, Panthers, Ounces, Leopards, Hyenas, Rhinoceroses, Elephants, Bears, and Wolves, upon their several Species, since the Beginning of the World; though these agree ill enough with each other, and have a much greater Proportion of Rage and Fury in their Composition than we have. But with respect to you, ye Legislators, ye Civilizers of Mankind! ye Orpheuses, Moseses, Minoses, Solons, Theseuses, Lycurguses, Numas! with Respect to you be it spoken, your Regulations have done more Mischief in cold Blood, than all the Rage of the fiercest Animals in their greatest Terrors, or Furies, have ever done, or ever could do!

The evils of State are a necessary result of its defining characteristic. Once the State machinery and bureaucracy is set up, men and special interests will use it for nefarious purposes. Patriotic "wretches" will enthusiastically march to the State's banner.

These Evils are not accidental. Whoever will take the pains to consider the Nature of Society, will find they result directly from its Constitution. For as Subordination, or in other Words, the Reciprocation of Tyranny, and Slavery, is requisite to support these Societies, the Interest, the Ambition, the Malice, or the Revenge, nay even the Whim and Caprice of one ruling Man among them, is enough to arm all the rest, without any private Views of their own, to the worst and blackest Purposes; and what is at once lamentable and ridiculous, these Wretches engage under those Banners with a Fury greater than if they were animated by Revenge for their own proper Wrongs.

The artificial borders of States lead to division and dissention. It is divisive to label fellow human beings as Englishmen, Frenchmen, or Turk. This irrational bigotry dividing man is fomented and utilized by State. The State rulers "need no other Trumpet to kindle us to War."

It is no less worth observing, that this artificial Division of Mankind, into separate Societies, is a perpetual Source in itself of Hatred and Dissention among them. The Names which distinguish them are enough to blow up Hatred, and Rage. Examine History; consult present Experience; and you will find, that far the greater Part of the Quarrels between several Nations, had scarce any other Occasion, than that these Nations were different Combinations of People, and called by different Names; - to an Englishman, the Name of a Frenchman, a Spaniard, an Italian, much more a Turk, or a Tartar, raise of course Ideas of Hatred, and Contempt. If you would inspire this Compatriot of ours with Pity or Regard, for one of these; would you not hide that Distinction? You would not pray him to compassionate the poor Frenchman, or the unhappy German. Far from it; you would speak of him as a Foreigner, an Accident to which all are liable. You would represent him as a Man: one partaking with us of the same common Nature, and subject to the same Law.

Divisive language can often be defused by simply replacing it with more inclusive terminology, e.g. "Mexican" to "immigrant," "German" to "foreigner," or using the terms "Man" or "mankind."

There is something so averse from our Nature in these artificial political Distinctions, that we need no other Trumpet to kindle us to War, and Destruction. But there is something so benign and healing in the general Voice of Humanity, that maugre all our Regulations to prevent it, the simple Name of Man applied properly, never fails to work a salutary Effect.

Burke now moves on to the interior (domestic) behavior of the State. He gives several reasons the State is deficient.

This natural unpremediated Effect of Policy on the unpossessed Passions of Mankind, appears on other Occasions. The very Name of a Politician, a Statesman, is sure to cause Terror and Hatred; it has always connected with it the Ideas of Treachery, Cruelty, Fraud and Tyranny; and those Writers who have faithfully unveiled the Mysteries of State-freemasonry, have ever been held in general Detestation, for even knowing so perfectly a Theory so detestable.

First, he points out how power corrupts. He refers to Machiavelli, who wrote the classic book on political expediency and Realpolitik - The Prince (1532.)
The Case of Machiavelli seems at first sight something hard in that Respect. He is obliged to bear the Iniquities of those whose Maxims and Rules of Government he published. His Speculation is more abhorred than their Practice.

Governments frequently "infringe the Rules of Justice to support themselves," and lie to support "the reigning Interest." This is rationalized or covered up in the name of "reasons of State" or national security.

But if there were no other Arguments against artificial Society than this I am going to mention, methinks it ought to fall by this one only. All Writers on the Science of Policy are agreed, and they agree with Experience, that all Governments must frequently infringe the Rules of Justice to support themselves; that Truth must give way to Dissimulation; Honesty to Convenience; and Humanity itself to the reigning Interest. The Whole of this Mystery of Iniquity is called the Reason of State.

There is a contradiction. The State cannot protect Man's Rights by abrogating individual men's rights; it cannot enforce justice by violating justice.

It is a Reason, which I own I cannot penetrate. What Sort of a Protection is this of the general Right, that is maintained by infringing the Rights of Particulars? What sort of Justice is this, which is inforced by Breaches of its own Laws? These Paradoxes I leave to be solved by the able heads of Legislators and Politicians. For my part, I say what a plain Man would say on such an Occasion. I can never believe, that any Institution agreeable to Nature, and proper for Mankind, could find it necessary, or even expedient in any Case whatsoever to do, what the best and worthiest Instincts of Mankind warn us to avoid. But no wonder, that what is set up in Opposition to the State of Nature, should preserve itself by trampling upon the Law of Nature.

Burke lists some of the intruments of torture and abuse which the State has used on its subjects.

To prove, that these Sort of policed Societies are a Violation offered to Nature, and a Constraint upon the human Mind, it needs only to look upon the sanguinary Measures, and Instruments of Violence which are every where used to support them.

If an institution requires such means, then it is illegitimate.

Let us take a Review of the Dungeons, Whips, Chains, Racks, Gibbets, with which every Society is abundantly stored, by which hundreds of Victims are annually offered up to support a dozen or two in Pride and Madness, and Millions in an abject Servitude, and Dependence.

There was a Time, when I looked with a reverential Awe on these Mysteries of Policy; but Age, Experience, and Philosophy have rent the Veil; and I view this Sanctum Sanctorum, at least, without any enthusiastick Admiration. I acknowledge indeed, the Necessity of such a Proceeding in such Institutions; but I must have a very mean Opinion of Institutions where such Proceedings are necessary.

Now Burke proposes that we use our natural moral faculty (or what's left of it after government indoctrination) to examine the three main forms of government (as given by Aristotle): despotism, aristocracy, and democracy.

It is a Misfortune, that in no Part of the Globe natural Liberty and natural Religion are to be found pure, and free from the Mixture of political Adulterations. Yet we have implanted in us by Providence Ideas, Axioms, Rules, of what is pious, just, fair, honest, which no political Craft, nor learned Sophistry, can entirely expel from our Breasts. By these we judge, and we cannot otherwise judge of the several artificial Modes of Religion and Society, and determine of them as they approach to, or recede from this Standard.

These days, we would call it "dictatorship" instead of "despotism." In Burke's time, the main example was absolute monarchy, which as he notes was the most common form of government then.

The simplest form of Government is Despotism, where all the inferior Orbs of Power are moved merely by the Will of the Supreme, and all that are subjected to them, directed in the same Manner, merely by the occasional Will of the Magistrate. This Form, as it is the most simple, so it is infinitely the most general. Scarce any Part of the World is exempted from its Power. And in those few Places where Men enjoy what they call Liberty, it is continually in a tottering Situation, and makes greater and greater Strides to that Gulph of Despotism which at last swallows up every Species of Government.

The despot can get what he wants while ignoring the people.

This Manner of ruling being directed merely by the Will of the weakest, and generally the worst Man in the Society, becomes the most foolish and capricious Thing, at the same time that it is the most terrible and destructive that well can be conceived. In a Despotism the principal Person finds, that let the Want, Misery, and Indigence of his Subjects, be what they will, he can yet possess abundantly of every thing to gratify his most insatiable Wishes. He does more.

He satisfies his whims at the expense of everyone else, and "proceeds to the most horrid and shocking Outrages upon Mankind."

He finds that these Gratifications increase in proportion to the Wretchedness and Slavery of his Subjects. Thus encouraged both by Passion and Interest to trample on the publick Welfare, and by his Station placed above both Shame and Fear, he proceeds to the most horrid and shocking Outrages upon Mankind. Their Persons become Victims of his Suspicions. The slightest Displeasure is Death; and a disagreeable Aspect is often as great a Crime as High-treason. In the court of Nero a Person of Learning, of unquestioned Merit, and of unsuspected Loyalty, was put to Death for no other Reason than that he had a pedantick Countenance which displeased the Emperor. This very Monster of Mankind appeared in the Beginning of his Reign to be a Person of Virtue.

More about how power corrupts.

The roles of "flatterers" and "favorites," now more often called court intellectuals, court historians, policy experts or political cronies.

Many of the greatest Tyrants on the Records of History have begun their Reigns in the fairest Manner. But the Truth is, this unnatural Power corrupts both the Heart, and the Understanding. And to prevent the least Hope of Amendment, a King is ever surrounded by a Crowd of infamous Flatterers, who find their Account in keeping him from the least Light of Reason, till all Ideas of Rectitude and Justice are utterly erased from his Mind. When Alexander had in his Fury inhumanly butchered one of his best Friends, and bravest Captains; on the Return of Reason he began to conceive an Horror suitable to the Guilt of such a Murder. In this Juncture, his Council came to his Assistance. But what did his Council? They found him out a Philosopher who gave him Comfort. And in what Manner did this Philosopher comfort him for the Loss of such a Man, and heal his Conscience, flagrant with the Smart of such a Crime? You have the Matter at Length in Plutarch. He told him; "that let a Sovereign do what he will, all his actions are just and lawful, because they are his." The Palaces of all Princes abound with such courtly Philosophers. The Consequence was such as might be expected. He grew every Day a Monster more abandoned to unnatural Lust, to Debauchery, to Drunkenness, and to Murder. And yet this was originally a great Man, of uncommon Capacity, and a strong Propensity to Virtue. But unbounded Power proceeds Step by Step, until it has eradicated every laudable Principle.

The point about high time-preferrence for favorites applies quite well to elected officials in a democracy. As Hans-Hermann Hoppe has argued, at least monarchs had incentive to maintain the capital value of their kingdom. Short-timers like politicians and "favorites" have every incentive to plunder quickly, while in office, and not worry about the long-term effects of policy.

It has been remarked, that there is no Prince so bad, whose Favourites and Ministers are not worse. There is hardly any Prince without a Favourite, by whom he is governed in as arbitrary a Manner as he governs the Wretches subjected to him. Here the Tyranny is doubled. There are two Courts, and two Interests; both very different from the Interests of the People. The Favourite knows that the Regard of a Tyrant is as unconstant and capricious as that of a Woman; and concluding his Time to be short, he makes haste to fill up the Measure of his Iniquity, in Rapine, in Luxury, and in Revenge. Every Avenue to the Throne is shut up. He oppresses, and ruins the People, whilst he persuades the Prince, that those Murmurs raised by his own Oppression are the Effects of Disaffection to the Prince's Government. Then is the natural Violence of Despotism inflamed, and aggravated by Hatred and Revenge.

The authoritarianism seeps down through the petty-tyrants and government bureaucrats to the people. To the State - to the ruler - the people are little more than a "Herd of Cattle."

To deserve well of the State is a Crime against the Prince. To be popular, and to be a Traitor, are considered as synonymous Terms. Even Virtue is dangerous, as an aspiring Quality, that claims an Esteem by itself, and independent of the Countenance of the Court. What has been said of the chief, is true of the inferior Officers of this Species of Government; each in his Province exercising the same Tyranny, and grinding the People by an Oppression, the more severely felt, as it is near them, and exercised by base and subordinate Persons. For the Gross of the People; they are considered as a mere Herd of Cattle; and really in a little Time become no better; all Principle of honest Pride, all Sense of the Dignity of their Nature, is lost in their Slavery.

Burke cites the ultimate source on political theory: John Locke. Locke wrote that despotism is worse than the State of Nature ("Anarchy.") Burke also notes that most men claim to prefer death to despotism.

The Consideration of this made Mr. Locke say, with great Justice, that a Government of this kind was worse than Anarchy; indeed it is so abhorred, and detested by all who live under Forms that have a milder Appearance, that there is scarce a rational Man in Europe, that would not prefer Death to Asiatick Despotism.

Conclusion - The State of Nature (Anarchy) is better than despotism.

Here then we have the Acknowledgement of a great Philosopher, that an irregular State of Nature is preferable to such a Government; we have the Consent of all sensible and generous Men, who carry it yet further, and avow that Death itself is preferable; and yet this Species of Government, so justly condemned, and so generally detested, is what infinitely the greater Part of Mankind groan under, and have groaned under from the Beginning. So that by sure and uncontested Principles, the greatest Part of the Governments on Earth must be concluded Tyrannies, Impostures, Violations of the Natural Rights of Mankind, and worse than the most disorderly Anarchies. How much other Forms exceed this, we shall consider immediately.

Moving on to the second form of government: Aristocracy.

There is no easy cure for despotism. History shows that changing tyrants is not a cure.

Aristocracy - Charging the Public Welfare to the "Men in their several Societies" most respected for "their Understanding and Fortunes." This is roughly what we today would call a republic. In modern times, the "men in their several societies" are politicians in political parties, allied with special interests.

In all Parts of the World, Mankind, however debased, retains still the Sense of Feeling; the Weight of Tyranny, at last, becomes insupportable; but the Remedy is not so easy; in general, the only Remedy by which they attempt to cure the Tyranny, is to change the Tyrant. This is, and always was the Case for the greater Part. In some Countries however, were found Men of more Penetration; who discovered, “that to live by one Man’s Will, was the Cause of all Men’s Misery.” They therefore changed their former Method, and assembling the Men in their several Societies, the most respectable for their Understanding and Fortunes, they confided to them the Charge of the publick Welfare. This originally formed what is called an Aristocracy.

The hope is that several rulers will offset each other, resulting in less tyranny, and less capricious use of power.

They hoped, it would be impossible that such a Number could ever join in any Design against the general Good; and they promised themselves a great deal of Security and Happiness, from the united Counsels of so many able and experienced Persons.

Unfortunately, being ruled by many is essentially no different than being ruled by one.

But it is now found by abundant Experience, that an Aristocracy and a Despotism differ but in Name; and that a People, who are in general excluded from any Share of the Legislative, are to all Intents and Purposes, as much Slaves, when twenty, independent of them, govern, as when but one domineers.

Under aristocracy, people often seek a counterfeit freedom - freedom to aid, influence or choose rulers, but not freedom of action. If the subject buys into this "fallacious Idea of Liberty," it "binds faster the Chains of his Subjection." This sounds a lot like today's popular idolatry of "democracy" and electoral politics.
The Tyranny is even more felt, as every Individual of the Nobles has the Haughtiness of a Sultan; the People are more miserable, as they seem on the Verge of Liberty, from which they are for ever debarred, this fallacious Idea of Liberty, whilst it presents a vain Shadow of Happiness to the Subject, binds faster the Chains of his Subjection. What is left undone, by the natural Avarice and Pride of those who are raised above the others, is compleated by their Suspicions, and their Dread of losing an Authority, which has no Support in the common Utility of the Nation.

An aristocracy is worse than a depotism, since an aristocracy is more consistent in its authoritarianism. While it's possible get a good "Prince," it's almost impossible to get a good oligarchy.

A Genoese, or a Venetian Republick, is a concealed Despotism; where you find the same Pride of the Rulers, the same base Subjection of the People, the same bloody Maxims of a suspicious Policy. In one respect the Aristocracy is worse than the Despotism. A Body Politick, whilst it retains its Authority, never changes its Maxims; a Despotism, which is this Day horrible to a Supreme Degree, by the Caprice natural to the Heart of Man, may, by the same Caprice otherwise exerted, be as lovely the next; in a Succession, it is possible to meet with some good Princes. If there have been Tiberiuses, Caligulas, Neros, there have been likewise the serener Days of Vespasians, Tituses, Trajans, and Antonines; but a Body Politick is not influenced by Caprice or Whim; it proceeds in a regular Manner; its Succession is insensible; and every Man as he enters it, either has, or soon attains the Spirit of the whole Body.

"Never was it known, that an Aristocracy which was haughty and tyrannical in one Century, became easy and mild in the next."

Aristocracies usually become so tyrannical that eventually people rebel, and install one of "the two Evils" democracy or despotism.

Never was it known, that an Aristocracy which was haughty and tyrannical in one Century, became easy and mild in the next. In effect, the Yoke of this Species of Government is so galling, that whenever the People have got the least Power, they have shaken it off with the utmost Indignation, and established a popular Form. And when they have not had Strength enough to support themselves, they have thrown themselves into the Arms of Despotism, as the more eligible of the two Evils.

Thus aristocracy is even worse than despotism. (And despotism, as we've already seen, is worse than Natural Society.)
Thus, my Lord, we have pursued Aristocracy through its whole Progress; we have seen the Seeds, the Growth, and the Fruit. It could boast none of the Advantages of a Despotism, miserable as those Advantages were, and it was overloaded with an Exuberance of Mischiefs, unknown even to Despotism itself. In effect, it is no more than a disorderly Tyranny. This Form therefore could be little approved even in Speculation, by those who were capable of thinking, and could be less borne in Practice by any who were capable of feeling.

Next we examine democracy.

Democracy - "the People transact all publick Business, or the greater Part of it, in their own Persons: their Laws were made by themselves."

However, the fruitful Policy of Man was not yet exhausted. He had yet another Farthing-candle to supply the Deficiencies of the Sun. This was the third Form, known by political Writers under the Name of Democracy. Here the People transacted all publick Business, or the greater Part of it, in their own Persons: their Laws were made by themselves, and upon any Failure of Duty, their Officers were accountable to themselves, and to them only. In all appearance, they had secured by this Method the Advantages of Order and good Government, without paying their Liberty for the Purchace.

The democracy of Athens. How it degraded into tyranny and slavery: "An artful Man became popular." Democracy puts people at the mercy of demogogues.

Now, my Lord, we are come to the Master-piece of Grecian Refinement, and Roman Solidity, a popular Government. The earliest and most celebrated Republic of this Model, was that of Athens. It was constructed by no less an Artist, than the celebrated Poet and Philosopher, Solon. But no sooner was this political Vessel launched from the Stocks, than it overset, even in the Lifetime of the Builder. A Tyranny immediately supervened; not by a foreign Conquest, not by Accident, but by the very Nature and Constitution of a Democracy. An artful Man became popular, the People had Power in their Hands, and they devolved a considerable Share of their Power upon their Favourite; and the only Use he made of this Power, was to plunge those who gave it into Slavery.

Men of ability are often oppressed in a democracy. The "shameful" treatment of Socrates is an example of this.

Accident restored their Liberty, and the same good Fortune produced Men of uncommon Abilities and uncommon Virtues amongst them. But these Abilities were suffered to be of little Service either to their Possessors or to the State. Some of these Men, for whose Sakes alone we read their History, they banished; others they imprisoned; and all they treated with various Circumstances of the most shameful Ingratitude. Republicks have many Things in the Spirit of absolute Monarchy, but none more than this; a shining Merit is ever hated or suspected in a popular Assembly, as well as in a Court; and all Services done the State, are looked upon as dangerous to the Rulers, whether Sultans or Senators.

"The giddy People" (democratic masses) soon tyranize their neighbors and "enter into Wars rashly and wantonly," blaming failures on "Ministers" and "Generals." Democratic States usually end up repelling talented people.

The Ostracism at Athens was built upon this Principle. The giddy People, whom we have now under consideration, being elated with some Flashes of Success, which they owed to nothing less than any Merit of their own, began to tyrannize over their Equals, who had associated with them for their common Defence. With their Prudence they renounced all Appearance of Justice. They entered into Wars rashly and wantonly. If they were unsuccessful, instead of growing wiser by their Misfortune, they threw the whole Blame of their own Misconduct on the Ministers who had advised, and the Generals who had conducted those Wars; until by degrees they had cut off all who could serve them in their Councils or their Battles.

The results of Athenian democracy:

The Athenians made a very rapid Progress to the most enormous Excesses. The People under no Restraint soon grew dissolute, luxurious, and idle. They renounced all Labour, and began to subsist themselves from the publick Revenues. They lost all Concern for their common Honour or Safety, and could bear no Advice that tended to reform them. At this time Truth became offensive to those Lords the People, and most highly dangerous to the Speaker. The Orators no longer ascended the Rostrum, but to corrupt them further with the most fulsome Adulation. These Orators were all bribed by foreign Princes on the one Side or the other. And besides its own Parties, in this City there were Parties, and avowed ones too, for the Persians, Spartans, and Macedonians, supported each of them by one or more Demagogues pensioned and bribed to this iniquitous Service.

"… the People of this Republick banishing or murdering their best and ablest Citizens, dissipating the publick Treasure with the most senseless Extravagance …"

When you see the People of this Republick banishing or murdering their best and ablest Citizens, dissipating the publick Treasure with the most senseless Extravagance, and spending their whole Time, as Spectators or Actors, in playing, fiddling, dancing, and singing, does it not, my Lord, strike your Imagination with the Image of a sort of a complex Nero? And does it not strike you with the greater Horror, when you observe, not one Man only, but a whole City, grown drunk with Pride and Power, running with a Rage of Folly into the same mean and senseless Debauchery and Extravagance? But if this People resembled Nero in their Extravagance, much more did they resemble and even exceed him in Cruelty and Injustice.

The whole History of this celebrated Republick is but one Tissue of Rashness, Folly, Ingratitude, Injustice, Tumult, Violence, and Tyranny, and indeed of every Species of Wickedness that can well be imagined. This was a City of Wisemen, in which a Minister could not exercise his Functions; a warlike People amongst whom a General did not dare either to gain or lose a Battle; a learned Nation, in which a Philosopher could not venture on a free Enquiry. This was the City which banished Themistocles, starved Aristides, forced into Exile Miltiades, drove out Anaxagoras, and poisoned Socrates. This was a City which changed the Form of its Government with the Moon; eternal Conspiracies, Revolutions daily, nothing fixed and established.

Democracy is unstable, and shifts into despotism and aristocracy. With democracy, you get "every Species of Government ... in the worst Form."

A Republick, as an ancient Philosopher has observed, is no one Species of Government, but a Magazine of every Species; here you find every Sort of it, and that in the worst Form. As there is a perpetual Change, one rising and the other falling, you have all the Violence and wicked Policy, by which a beginning Power must always acquire its Strength, and all the Weakness by which falling States are brought to a complete Destruction.

Later democracies basically follow the Athenian model:

"You find the same Confusion, the same Factions, the same Tumults, the same Revolutions, and in fine, the same Slavery."

Rome has a more venerable Aspect than Athens; and she conducted her Affairs, so far as related to the Ruin and Oppression of the greatest Part of the World, with greater Wisdom and more Uniformity. But the domestic Oeconomy of these two States was nearly or altogether the same. An internal Dissention constantly tore to Pieces the Bowels of the Roman Commonwealth. You find the same Confusion, the same Factions which subsisted at Athens, the same Tumults, the same Revolutions, and in fine, the same Slavery. If perhaps their former Condition did not deserve that Name altogether as well. All other Republicks were of the same Character. Florence was a Transcript of Athens. And the modern Republicks, as they approach more or less to the Democratick Form, partake more or less of the Nature of those which I have described.

All three forms of Artificial Society - despotism, aristocracy, and democracy - amount to nothing more than tyranny.

We are now at the Close of our Review of the three simple Forms of artificial Society, and we have shewn them, however they may differ in Name, or in some slight Circumstances, to be all alike in effect; in effect, to be all Tyrannies. But suppose we were inclined to make the most ample Concessions; let us concede Athens, Rome, Carthage, and two or three more of the ancient, and as many of the modern Commonwealths, to have been, or to be free and happy, and to owe their Freedom and Happiness to their political Constitution. Yet allowing all this, what Defence does this make for artificial Society in general, that these inconsiderable Spots of the Globe have for some short Space of Time stood as Exceptions to a Charge so general?

Even granting that there existed some societies that were free for some, for a time; these were slave societies where most people were not free.

But when we call these Governments free, or concede that their Citizens were happier than those which lived under different Forms, it is merely ex abundanti. For we should be greatly mistaken, if we really thought that the Majority of the People which filled these Cities, enjoyed even that nominal political Freedom of which I have spoken so much already. In reality, they had no Part of it. In Athens there were usually from ten to thirty thousand Freemen: This was the utmost. But the Slaves usually amounted to four hundred thousand, and sometimes to a great many more. The Freemen of Sparta and Rome were not more numerous in proportion to those whom they held in a Slavery, even more terrible than the Athenian.

The vast majority of human beings were and are oppressed under States.

Therefore state the Matter fairly: The free States never formed, though they were taken all together, the thousandth Part of the habitable Globe; the Freemen in these States were never the twentieth Part of the People, and the Time they subsisted is scarce any thing in that immense Ocean of Duration in which Time and Slavery are so nearly commensurate. Therefore call these free States, or popular Governments, or what you please; when we consider the Majority of their Inhabitants, and regard the Natural Rights of Mankind, they must appear in Reality and Truth, no better than pitiful and oppressive Oligarchies.

Burke feels he has proved his case: that Natural Society is better than Artificial Society - anarchy is better than statism.

After so fair an Examen, wherein nothing has been exaggerated; no Fact produced which cannot be proved, and none which has been produced in any wise forced or strained, while thousands have, for Brevity, been omitted; after so candid a Discussion in all respects; what Slave so passive, what Bigot so blind, what Enthusiast so headlong, what Politician so hardened, as to stand up in Defence of a System calculated for a Curse to Mankind? a Curse under which they smart and groan to this Hour, without thoroughly knowing the Nature of the Disease, and wanting Understanding or Courage to apply the Remedy.

Burke pleads for the supremacy of reason and truth. He notes that it is unpopular to deny the legitimacy of the State, and that he does not intend to make his anarchism public for the time being. The essay was published anonymously, hinting that it was written by the late great Lord Bolingbroke.

I need not excuse myself to your Lordship, nor, I think, to any honest Man, for the Zeal I have shewn in this Cause; for it is an honest Zeal, and in a good Cause. I have defended Natural Religion against a Confederacy of Atheists and Divines. I now plead for Natural Society against Politicians, and for Natural Reason against all three. When the World is in a fitter Temper than it is at present to hear Truth, or when I shall be more indifferent about its Temper; my Thoughts may become more publick. In the mean time, let them repose in my own Bosom, and in the Bosoms of such Men as are fit to be initiated in the sober Mysteries of Truth and Reason.

H. L. Mencken had a similar wry observation:

"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right."

My Antagonists have already done as much as I could desire. Parties in Religion and Politics make sufficient Discoveries concerning each other, to give a sober Man a proper Caution against them all. The Monarchic, Aristocratical, and Popular Partizans have been jointly laying their Axes to the Root of all Government, and have in their Turns proved each other absurd and inconvenient.

It's not simply abuse of government that is the problem; it is government institution itself.

In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!

The defenders of statism are correct in saying that security is valuable to men, but they err in assuming only a State provide adequate security. Statism runs into the age old problem of who guards the guardians. Statism results in even less security than Natural Society.

Observe, my Lord, I pray you, that grand Error upon which all artificial legislative Power is founded. It was observed, that Men had ungovernable Passions, which made it necessary to guard against the Violence they might offer to each other. They appointed Governors over them for this Reason; but a worse and more perplexing Difficulty arises, how to be defended against the Governors? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Recap: Whether ruled by one or several or many, the State has terrible results.

In vain they change from a single Person to a few. These few have the Passions of the one, and they unite to strengthen themselves, and to secure the Gratification of their lawless Passions at the Expence of the general Good. In vain do we fly to the Many. The Case is worse; their Passions are less under the Government of Reason, they are augmented by the Contagion, and defended against all Attacks by their Multitude.

Now Burke takes up mixed forms of government, i.e. governments with branches and attempts at separation of power.

I have purposely avoided the mention of the mixed Form of Government, for Reasons that will be very obvious to your Lordship. But my Caution can avail me but little. You will not fail to urge it against me in favour of Political Society. You will not fail to shew how the Errors of the several simple Modes are corrected by a Mixture of all of them, and a proper Ballance of the several Powers in such a State.

Burke, pretending to be Bolingbroke, tells about his mistaken past. (Bolingbroke was a late well-known smooth-talking politician, who, after retirement, attempted philosophy.)
I confess, my Lord, that this has been long a darling Mistake of my own; and that of all the Sacrifices I have made to Truth, this has been by far the greatest. When I confess that I think this Notion a Mistake, I know to whom I am speaking, for I am satisfied that Reasons are like Liquors, and there are some of such a Nature as none but strong Heads can bear.

Point 1:
A complex mechanism tends to have a lot of problems. "Such a Government must be liable to frequent Cabals, Tumults, and Revolutions." This decreases people's security.

First then, all Men are agreed, that this Junction of Regal, Aristocratic, and Popular Power, must form a very complex, nice, and intricate Machine, which being composed of such a Variety of Parts, with such opposite Tendencies and Movements, it must be liable on every Accident to be disordered. To speak without Metaphor, such a Government must be liable to frequent Cabals, Tumults, and Revolutions, from its very Constitution. These are undoubtedly as ill Effects, as can happen in a Society; for in such a Case, the Closeness acquired by Community, instead of serving for mutual Defence, serves only to increase the Danger. Such a System is like a City, where Trades that require constant Fires are much exercised, where the Houses are built of combustible Materials, and where they stand extremely close.

Point 2:
Mixed governments are inefficient. Time and energy is wasted settling jurisdictional issues rather than solving problems.

In the second Place, the several constituent Parts having their distinct Rights, and these many of them so necessary to be determined with Exactness, are yet so indeterminate in their Nature, that it becomes a new and constant Source of Debate and Confusion. Hence it is, that whilst the Business of Government should be carrying on, the Question is, who has a Right to exercise this or that Function of it, or what Men have Power to keep their Offices in any Function. Whilst this Contest continues, and whilst the Ballance in any sort continues, it has never any Remission; all manner of Abuses and Villanies in Officers remain unpunished, the greatest Frauds and Robberies in the publick Revenues are committed in Defiance of Justice; and Abuses grow, by Time and Impunity, into Customs.

Point 3:
Justice is subordinated to power games and political maneuvering. Right and wrong are drowned out by identity politics, special interest lobbying, and power-grabbing ploys.

Thirdly, the several Parts of this Species of Government, though united, preserve the Spirit which each Form has separately. Kings are ambitious; the Nobility haughty; and the Populace tumultuous and ungovernable. Each Party, however in appearance peaceable, carries on a Design upon the others; and it is owing to this, that in all Questions, whether concerning foreign or domestick Affairs, the Whole generally turns more upon some Party-Matter than upon the Nature of the Thing itself; whether such a Step will diminish or augment the Power of the Crown, or how far the Privileges of the Subject are like to be extended or restricted by it. And these Questions are constantly resolved, without any Consideration of the Merits of the Cause, merely as the Parties who uphold these jarring Interests may chance to prevail.

Party politics is ''"the Spirit of Ambition, of Self-Interest, of Oppression, and Treachery,"'' the opposite of the humanity natural to man.

The great Instrument of all these Changes, and what infuses a peculiar Venom into all of them, is Party. It is of no Consequence what the Principles of any Party, or what their Pretensions are, the Spirit which actuates all Parties is the same; the Spirit of Ambition, of Self-Interest, of Oppression, and Treachery. This Spirit entirely reverses all the Principles which a benevolent Nature has erected within us; all Honesty, all equal Justice, and even the Ties of natural Society, the natural Affections.

We have become accustomed to party politics, identity politics, and factions; it no longer surprises us.

In a word, my Lord, we have all seen, and if any outward Considerations were worthy the lasting Concern of a wise Man, we have some of us felt, such Oppression from Party Government as no other Tyranny can parallel. We behold daily the most important Rights, Rights upon which all the others depend; we behold these Rights determined in the last Resort, without the least Attention even to the Appearance or Colour of Justice; we behold this without Emotion, because we have grown up in the constant View of such Practice.

Burke acknowledges that he's being too politically incorrect and hitting too close to home, so he will tread lightly here and not argue full strength.

These and many more Points I am far from spreading to their full Extent. You are sensible that I do not put forth half my Strength; and you cannot be at a Loss for the Reason. A Man is allowed sufficient Freedom of Thought, provided he knows how to chuse his Subject properly. You may criticise freely upon the Chinese Constitution, and observe with as much Severity as you please upon the Absurd Tricks, or destructive Bigotry of the Bonzees. But the Scene is changed as you come homeward, and Atheism or Treason may be the Names given in Britain, to what would be Reason and Truth if asserted of China. I submit to the Condition, and though I have a notorious Advantage before me, I wave the Pursuit.

Burke elaborates on how political parties ("factions") are hypocritical, corrupt, and shallow.

For else, my Lord, it is very obvious what a Picture might be drawn of the Excesses of Party even in our own Nation. I could shew, that the same Faction has in one Reign promoted popular Seditions, and in the next been a Patron of Tyranny; I could shew, that they have all of them betrayed the publick Safety at all Times, and have very frequently with equal Perfidy made a Market of their own Cause, and their own Associates. I could shew how vehemently they have contended for Names, and how silently they passed over Things of the last importance. And I could demonstrate, that they have had the Opportunity of doing all this Mischief, nay, that they themselves had their Origin and Growth from the Complex Form of Government which we are wisely taught to look upon as so great a Blessing.

He points out that there's scarcely a president who hasn't violated the Constitution, or a legislator who has not exceeded his limits. Liberty is "precariously fluctuating and unsettled."

We scarce ever had a Prince, who by Fraud, or Violence, had not made some Infringement on the Constitution. We scarce ever had a Parliament which knew, when it attempted to set Limits to the Royal Authority, how to set Limits to its own. Evils we have had continually calling for Reformation, and Reformations more grievous than any Evils. Our boasted Liberty sometimes trodden down, sometimes giddily set up, ever precariously fluctuating and unsettled; it has been only kept alive by the Blasts of continual Feuds, Wars, and Conspiracies.

Burke has used history - consequentialism - to argue against the high-minded planning and social engineering of political elites and their court intellectuals. While the "Abetors of artificial Society" imagine ''planned order'', Burke averred that the emergent ("spontaneous") order of Natural Society is better.

I have done with the Forms of Government. During the Course of my Enquiry you may have observed a very material Difference between my Manner of Reasoning and that which is in Use amongst the Abetors of artificial Society. They form their Plans upon what seems most eligible to their Imaginations, for the ordering of Mankind. I discover the Mistakes in those Plans, from the real known Consequences which have resulted from them.

"They have inlisted Reason to fight against itself …" Burke seems to be saying that reason is used by social planners to usurp the reason of individuals. Authority violates people's right to figure things out for themselves and make their own decisions. As Robert Wolff put it in "In Defense of Anarchism", moral autonomy and authority are in conflict: "Anarchism is the only political doctrine consistent with the virtue of autonomy."

They have inlisted Reason to fight against itself, and employ its whole Force to prove that it is an insufficient Guide to them in the Conduct of their Lives. But unhappily for us, in proportion as we have deviated from the plain Rule of our Nature, and turned our Reason against itself, in that Proportion have we increased the Follies and Miseries of Mankind. The more deeply we penetrate into the Labyrinth of Art, the further we find ourselves from those Ends for which we entered it. This has happened in almost every Species of Artificial Society, and in all Times.

Government court systems, being monopolies, are not very efficient at what they do. Decreed/legislated law is more capricious than common law or traditional law.

We found, or we thought we found, an Inconvenience in having every Man the Judge of his own Cause. Therefore Judges were set up, at first with discretionary Powers. But it was soon found a miserable Slavery to have our Lives and Properties precarious, and hanging upon the arbitrary Determination of any one Man, or Set of Men. We flew to Laws as a Remedy for this Evil. By these we persuaded ourselves we might know with some Certainty upon what Ground we stood. But lo! Differences arose upon the Sense and Interpretation of these Laws. Thus we were brought back to our old Incertitude.

The biggest "civil rights" issue in Burke's time was freedom of religion; Should certain religious forms be imposed ("artificial religion") or should each person worship (or not) in their own chosen way ("natural religion"). This is the terminology of religious dissenters. Burke is extending the dissenter's argument for religious freedom to the political realm.

The Professors of Artificial Law have always walked hand in hand with the Professors of Artificial Theology. As their End, in confounding the Reason of Man, and abridging his natural Freedom, is exactly the same, they have adjusted the Means to that End in a Way entirely similar. The Divine thunders out his Anathemas with more Noise and Terror against the Breach of one of his positive Institutions, or the Neglect of some of his trivial Forms, than against the Neglect or Breach of those Duties and Commandments of natural Religion, which by these Forms and Institutions he pretends to enforce.

The inefficacy of monopoly government law.

The Lawyer has his Forms, and his positive Institutions too, and he adheres to them with a Veneration altogether as religious. The worst Cause cannot be so prejudicial to the Litigant, as his Advocate's or Attorney's Ignorance or Neglect of these Forms. A Law-suit is like an ill-managed Dispute, in which the first Object is soon out of Sight, and the Parties end upon a Matter wholly foreign to that on which they began.

Decreed "positive" law of Artificial Society vs. traditional law, mutual aid, and common sense in Natural Society.

Let us expostulate with these learned Sages, these Priests of the sacred Temple of Justice. Are we Judges of our own Property? By no means. You then, who are initiated into the Mysteries of the blindfold Goddess, inform me whether I have a Right to eat the Bread I have earned by the Hazard of my Life, or the Sweat of my Brow? The grave Doctor answers me in the Affirmative. The reverend Serjeant replies in the Negative; the learned Barrister reasons upon one side and upon the other, and concludes nothing. What shall I do? An Antagonist starts up and presses me hard. I enter the Field, and retain these three Persons to defend my Cause. My Cause, which two Farmers from the Plough could have decided in half an Hour, takes the Court twenty Years.

A Rawlsian argument: the worst-off members of society would be better off with a Natural Society legal system than with an Artificial Society legal system.

Ask of Politicians the End for which Laws were originally designed; and they will answer, that the Laws were designed as a Protection for the Poor and Weak against the Oppression of the Rich and Powerful. But surely no Pretence can be so ridiculous; a Man might as well tell me he has taken off my Load, because he has changed the Burthen. If the poor Man is not able to support his Suit, according to the vexatious and expensive manner established in civilized Countries, has not the Rich as great an Advantage over him as the Strong has over the Weak in a State of Nature?

But we will not place the State of Nature, which is the Reign of God, in competition with Political Society, which is the absurd Usurpation of Man. In a State of Nature, it is true, that a Man of superior Force may beat or rob me; but then it is true, that I am at full Liberty to defend myself, or make Reprisal by Surprize or by Cunning, or by any other way in which I may be superior to him. But in Political Society, a rich Man may rob me in another way. I cannot defend myself; for Money is the only Weapon with which we are allowed to fight. And if I attempt to avenge myself, the whole Force of that Society is ready to complete my Ruin.

Artificial Society nurtures vices which would not be facilitated in a Natural Society.

Consider the Ravages committed in the Bowels of all Commonwealths by Ambition, by Avarice, Envy, Fraud, open Injustice, and pretended Friendship; Vices which could draw little Support from a State of Nature, but which blossom and flourish in the Rankness of political Society. Revolve our whole Discourse; add to it all those Reflections which your own good Understanding shall suggest, and make a strenuous Effort beyond the Reach of vulgar Philosophy, to confess that the Cause of Artificial Society is more defenceless even than that of Artificial Religion.

Artificial society is even worse than artificial religion.

Burke extends the analogy between the dissenter argument against artificial religion and the anarchist dissenter against artificial society.

If pretended Revelations have caused Wars where they were opposed, and Slavery where they were received, the pretended wise Inventions of Politicians have done the same. But the Slavery has been much heavier, the Wars far more bloody, and both more universal by many Degrees. Shew me any Mischief produced by the Madness or Wickedness of Theologians, and I will shew you an hundred, resulting from the Ambition and Villainy of Conquerors and Statesmen. Shew me an Absurdity in Religion, I will undertake to shew you an hundred for one in political Laws and Institutions. If you say, that Natural Religion is a sufficient Guide without the foreign Aid of Revelation, on what Principle should Political Laws become necessary? Is not the same Reason available in Theology and in Politics? If the Laws of Nature are the Laws of God, is it consistent with the Divine Wisdom to prescribe Rules to us, and leave the Enforcement of them to the Folly of human Institutions? Will you follow Truth but to a certain Point?

Burke is playing the part of a dying Bolingbroke, writing to an unnamed young lord. Attributing the essay to Bolingbroke was no doubt intentionally ironic. Bolingbroke was a lifelong professional politician, and a well-known icon of statesmanship; for him to recant his statism on his deathbed and write a deep philosophical essay would be unthinkable.

The nearer we approach to the Goal of Life, the better we begin to understand the true Value of our Existence, and the real Weight of our Opinions. We set out much in love with both; but we leave much behind us as we advance. We first throw away the Tales along with the Rattles of our Nurses; those of the Priest keep their Hold a little longer; those of our Governors the longest of all. But the Passions which prop these Opinions are withdrawn one after another; and the cool Light of Reason at the Setting of our Life, shews us what a false Splendor played upon these Objects during our more sanguine Seasons. Happy, my Lord, if instructed by my Experience, and even by my Errors, you come early to make such an Estimate of Things, as may give Freedom and Ease to your Life. I am happy that such an Estimate promises me Comfort at my Death.


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