Letters on the Study and Use of History

Letters on the Study and Use of History

第36章 LETTER 5(9)

But the reflection is too general.In governments so arbitrary by their constitution,that the will of the prince is not only the supreme,but the sole law,it is so far from being a duty,that it may be dangerous,and must be impertinent in men,who are not called by the prince to the administration of public affairs,to concern themselves about it,or to fit themselves for it.The sole vocation there is the favor of the court;and whatever designation God makes by the talents he bestows,though it may serve,which it seldom ever does,to direct the choice of the prince,yet I presume that it cannot become a reason to particular men,or create a duty on them,to devote themselves to the public service.Look on the Turkish government.See a fellow taken,from rowing in a common passage-boat,by the caprice of the prince:see him invested next day with all the power the soldans took under the caliphs,or the mayors of the palace under the successors of Clovis:see a whole empire governed by the ignorance,inexperience,and arbitrary will of this tyrant,and a few other subordinate tyrants,as ignorant and unexperienced as himself.

In France indeed,though an absolute government,things go a little better.

Arts and sciences are encouraged,and here and there an example may be found of a man who has risen by some extraordinary talents,amidst innumerable examples of men who have arrived at the greatest honors and highest posts by no other merit than that of assiduous fawning,attendance,or of skill in some despicable puerile amusement:in training wasps,for instance,to take regular flights like hawks,and stoop at flies.The nobility of France,like the children of tribute among the ancient Saracens and modern Turks,are set apart for wars.They are bred to make love,to hunt,and to fight:

and,if any of them should acquire knowledge superior to this,they would acquire that which might be prejudicial to themselves,but could not become beneficial to their country.The affairs of state are trusted to other hands.

Henry St John Bolingbroke