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The Commonwealth of Oceana by James Harrington

Part 3 out of 6

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force and vigor and yet so distributed that it is impossible you
should be blown up by your own magazine? Let them who will have
it, that power if it be confined cannot be sovereign, tell us,
whether our rivers do not enjoy a more secure and fruitful reign
within their proper banks, than if it were lawful for them, in
ravaging our harvests, to spill themselves? whether souls, not
confined to their peculiar bodies, do govern them any more than
those of witches in their trances? whether power, not confined to
the bounds of reason and virtue, has any other bounds than those
of vice and passion? or if vice and passion be boundless, and
reason and virtue have certain limits, on which of these thrones
holy men should anoint their sovereign? But to blow away this
dust, the sovereign power of a commonwealth is no more bounded,
that is to say straitened, than that of a monarch; but is
balanced. The eagle mounts not to her proper pitch, if she be
bounded, nor is free if she be not balanced. And lest a monarch
should think he can reach further with his sceptre, the Roman
eagle upon such a balance spread her wings from the ocean to
Euphrates. Receive the sovereign power; you have received it,
hold it fast, embrace it forever in your shining arms. The virtue
of the loadstone is not impaired or limited, but receives
strength and nourishment, by being bound in iron. And so giving
your lordships much joy, I take my leave of this tribe."

The orator descending, had the period of his speech made with
a vast applause and exultation of the whole tribe, attending him
for that night to his quarter, as the phylarch with some
commanded troops did the next day to the frontiers of the tribe,
where leave was taken on both sides with more tears than grief.

So a tribe is the third division of land occasioned by the
third collection of the people, whose functions proper to that
place are contained in the five foregoing orders.

The institution of the commonwealth was such as needed those
props and scaffolds which may have troubled the reader; but I
shall here take them away, and come to the constitution which
stands by itself, and yields a clearer prospect.

The motions, by what has been already shown, are spherical;
and spherical motions have their proper centre, for which cause
(ere I proceed further) it will be necessary, for the better
understanding of the whole, that I discover the centre whereupon
the motions of this commonwealth are formed.

The centre, or basis of every government, is no other than
the fundamental laws of the same.

Fundamental laws are such as state what it is that a man, and
what the means may call his own, that is to say, property; be
whereby a man may enjoy his own, that is to say, protection. The
first is also called dominion, and the second empire or sovereign
power, whereof this (as has been shown) is the natural product of
the former, for such as is the balance of dominion in a nation,
such is the nature of its empire.

Wherefore the fundamental laws of Oceana, or the centre of
this commonwealth, are the agrarian and the ballot: the agrarian
by the balance of dominion preserving equality in the root; and
the ballot by an equal rotation conveying it into the branch, or
exercise of sovereign power, as, to begin with the former,
appears by --

The thirteenth order, "Constituting the agrarian laws of
Oceana, Marpesia, and Panopea, whereby it is ordained, first, for
all such lands as are lying and being within the proper
territories of Oceana, that every man who is at present
possessed, or shall hereafter be possessed, of an estate in land
exceeding the revenue of œ2,000 a year, and having more than one
son, shall leave his lands either equally divided among them, in
case the lands amount to above œ2,000 a year to each, or so near
equally, in case they come under, that the greater part or
portion of the same remaining to the eldest exceed not the value
of œ2,000 revenue. And no man, not in present possession of lands
above the value of œ2,000 by the year, shall receive, enjoy
(except by lawful inheritance) acquire, or, purchase to himself
lands within the said territories, amounting, with those already
in his possession, above the said revenue. And if a man has a
daughter or daughters, except she be an heiress or they be
heiresses, he shall not leave or give to any. One of them in
marriage, or otherwise, for her portion, above the value of
œ1,500 in lands, goods, and moneys. Nor shall any friend,
kinsman, or kinswoman add to her or their portion or portions
that are so provided for, to make any one of them greater. Nor
shall any man demand or have more in marriage with any woman.
Nevertheless an heiress shall enjoy her lawful inheritance, and a
widow, whatsoever the bounty or affection of her husband shall
bequeath to her, to be divided in the first generation, wherein
it is divisible according as has been shown.

"Secondly, for lands lying and being within the territories
of Marpesia, the agrarian shall hold in all parts as it is
established in Oceana, except only in the standard or proportion
of estates in land, which shall be set for Marpesia, at œ500.

"Thirdly, for Panopea, the agrarian shall hold in all parts,
as in Oceana. And whosoever possessing above the proportion
allowed by these laws, shall be lawfully convicted of the same,
shall forfeit the overplus to the use of the State."

Agrarian laws of all others have ever been the greatest
bugbears, and so in the institution were these, at which time it
was ridiculous to see how strange a fear appeared in everybody of
that which, being good for all, could hurt nobody. But instead of
the proof of this order, I shall out of those many debates that
happened ere it could be passed, insert two speeches that were
made at the Council of legislators, the first by the Right
Honorable Philautus de Garbo, a young man, being heir-apparent to
a very noble family, and one of the councillors, who expressed
himself as follows:

"May it please your Highness, my Lord Archon of Oceana.

"If I did not, to my capacity, know from how profound a
councillor I dissent, it would certainly be no hard task to make
it as light as the day. First, that an agrarian is altogether
unnecessary; secondly, that it is dangerous to a commonwealth;
thirdly, that it is insufficient to keep out monarchy; fourthly,
that it ruins families; fifthly, that it destroys industry; and
last of all, that though it were indeed of any good use, it will
be a matter of such difficulty to introduce in this nation, and
so to settle that it may be lasting, as is altogether invincible.

"First, that an agrarian is unnecessary to a commonwealth,
what clearer testimony can there be than that the commonwealths
which are our contemporaries (Venice, to which your Highness
gives the upper hand of all antiquity, being one) have no such
thing? And there can be no reason why they have it not, seeing it
is in the sovereign power at any time to establish such an order,
but that they need it not; wherefore no wonder if Aristotle, who
pretends to be a good commonwealths man, has long since derided
Phaleas, to whom it was attributed by the Greeks, for his

"Secondly, that an agrarian is dangerous to a commonwealth is
affirmed upon no slight authority seeing Machiavel is positive
that it was the dissension which happened about the agrarian that
caused the destruction of Rome; nor do I think that it did much
better in Lacedaemon, as I shall show anon.

"Thirdly, that it is insufficient to keep out monarchy cannot
without impiety be denied, the holy Scriptures bearing witness
that the Commonwealth of Israel, notwithstanding her agrarian,
submitted her neck to the arbitrary yoke of her princes.

"Fourthly, therefore, to come to my next assertion, that it
is destructive to families: this also is so apparent, that it
needs pity rather than proof. Why alas, do you bind a nobility
(which no generation shall deny to have been the first that
freely sacrificed their blood to the ancient liberties of this
people) on an unholy altar? Why are the people taught that their
liberty, which, except our noble ancestors had been born, must
have long since been buried, cannot now be born except we be
buried? A commonwealth should have the innocence of the dove. Let
us leave this purchase of her birth to the serpent, which eats
itself out of the womb of its mother.

"Fifthly but it may be said, perhaps, that we are fallen from
our first love, become proud and idle. It is certain, my lords,
that the hand of God is not upon us for nothing. But take heed
how you admit of such assaults and sallies upon men's estates, as
may slacken the nerve of labor, and give others also reason to
believe that their sweat is vain; or else, whatsoever be
pretended, your agrarian (which is my fifth assertion) must
indeed destroy industry. For, that so it did in Lacedaemon is
most apparent, as also that it could do no otherwise, where every
man having his forty quarters of barley, with wine
proportionable, supplied him out of his own lot by his laborer or
helot; and being confined in that to the scantling above which he
might not live, there was not any such thing as a trade, or other
art, except that of war, in exercise. Wherefore a Spartan, if he
were not in arms, must sit and play with his Angers, whence
ensued perpetual war, and, the estate of the city being as little
capable of increase as that of the citizens, her inevitable ruin.
Now what better ends you can propose to yourselves in the like
ways, I do not so well see as I perceive that there may be worse;
for Lacedaemon yet was free from civil war: but if you employ
your citizens no better than she did, I cannot promise you that
you shall fare so well, because they are still desirous of war
that hope that it may be profitable to them; and the strongest
security you can give of peace, is to make it gainful. Otherwise
men will rather choose that whereby they may break your laws,
than that whereby your laws may break them. Which I speak not so
much in relation to the nobility or such as would be holding, as
to the people or them that would be getting; the passion in these
being so much the stronger, as a man's felicity is weaker in the
fruition of things, than in their prosecution and increase.

"Truly, my lords, it is my fear, that by taking of more
hands, and the best from industry, you will farther endamage it,
than can be repaired by laying on a few, and the worst; while the
nobility must be forced to send their sons to the plough, and, as
if this were not enough, to marry their daughters also to

"Sixthly, but I do not see (to come to the last point) how it
is possible that this thing should be brought about, to your good
I mean, though it may to the destruction of many. For that the
agrarian of Israel, or that of Lacedaemon, might stand, is no
such miracle; the lands, without any consideration of the former
proprietor, being surveyed and cast into equal lots, which could
neither be bought, nor sold, nor multiplied: so that they knew
whereabout to have a man. But in this nation no such division can
be introduced, the lands being already in the hands of
proprietors, and such whose estates lie very rarely together, but
mixed one with another being also of tenures in nature so
different, that as there is no experience that an agrarian was
ever introduced in such a case, so there is no appearance how or
reason why it should: but that which is against reason and
experience is impossible."

The case of my Lord Philautus was the most concerned in the
whole nation; for he had four younger brothers, his father being
yet living, to whom he was heir of œ10,000 a year. Wherefore
being a man both of good parts and esteem, his words wrought both
upon men's reason and passions, and had borne a stroke at the
head of the business, if my Lord Archon had not interposed the
buckler in this oration:


"My Lord Philautus has made a thing which is easy to seem
hard; if the thanks were due to his eloquence, it would be worthy
of less praise than that he owes it to his merit, and the love he
has most deservedly purchased of all men: nor is it rationally to
be feared that he who is so much beforehand in his private,
should be in arrear in his public, capacity. Wherefore, my lord's
tenderness throughout his speech arising from no other principle
than his solicitude lest the agrarian should be hurtful to his
country, it is no less than my duty to give the best satisfaction
I am able to so good a patriot, taking every one of his doubts in
the order proposed. And,

"First, whereas my lord, upon observation of the modern
commonwealths, is of opinion that an agrarian is not necessary:
it must be confessed that at the first sight of them there is
some appearance favoring his assertion, but upon accidents of no
precedent to us. For the commonwealths of Switzerland and
Holland, I mean of those leagues, being situated in countries not
alluring the inhabitants to wantonness, but obliging them to
universal industry, have an implicit agrarian in the nature of
them: and being not obnoxious to a growing nobility (which, as
long as their former monarchies had spread the wing over them,
could either not at all be hatched, or was soon broken) are of no
example to us, whose experience in this point has been to the
contrary. But what if even in these governments there be indeed
an explicit agrarian? For when the law commands an equal or near
equal distribution of a man's estate in land among his children,
as it is done in those countries, a nobility cannot grow; and so
there needs no agrarian, or rather there is one. And for the
growth of the nobility in Venice (if so it be, for Machiavel
observes in that republic, as a cause of it, a great mediocrity
of estates) it is not a point that she is to fear, but might
study, seeing she consists of nothing else but nobility, by
which, whatever their estates suck from the people, especially if
it comes equally, is digested into the better blood of that
commonwealth, which is all, or the greatest, benefit they can
have by accumulation. For how unequal soever you will have them
to be in their incomes, they have officers of the pomp, to bring
them equal in expenses, or at least in the ostentation or show of
them. And so unless the advantage of an estate consists more in
the measure than in the use of it, the authority of Venice does
but enforce our agrarian; nor shall a man evade or elude the
prudence of it, by the authority of any other commonwealth.

"For if a commonwealth has been introduced at once, as those
of Israel and Lacedaemon, you are certain to find her underlaid
with this as the main foundation; nor, if she is obliged more to
fortune than prudence, has she raised her head without musing
upon this matter, as appears by that of Athens, which through her
defect in this point, says Aristotle, introduced her ostracism,
as most of the democracies of Greece. But, not to restrain a
fundamental of such latitude to any one kind of government, do we
not yet see that if there be a sole landlord of a vast territory,
he is the Turk? that if a few landlords overbalance a populous
country, they have store of servants? that if a people be in an
equal balance, they can have no lords? that no government can
otherwise be erected, than upon some one of these foundations?
that no one of these foundations (each being else apt to change
into some other) can give any security to the government, unless
it be fixed? that through the want of this fixation, potent
monarchy and commonwealths have fallen upon the heads of the
people, and accompanied their own sad ruins with vast effusions
of innocent blood? Let the fame, as was the merit of the ancient
nobility of this nation, be equal to or above what has been
already said, or can be spoken, yet have we seen not only their
glory but that of a throne, the most indulgent to and least
invasive for so many ages upon the liberty of a people that the
world has known, through the mere want of fixing her foot by a
proportionable agrarian upon her proper foundation, to have
fallen with such horror as has been a spectacle of astonishment
to the whole earth. And were it well argued from one calamity,
that we ought not to prevent another? Nor is Aristotle so good a
commonwealths man for deriding the invention of Phaleas as in
recollecting himself, where he says that democracies, when a less
part of their citizens overtop the rest in wealth, degenerate
into oligarchies and principalities; and, which comes nearer to
the present purpose, that the greater part of the nobility of
Tarentum coming accidentally to be ruined, the government of the
few came by consequence to be changed into that of the many.

"These things considered, I cannot see how an agrarian, as to
the fixation or security of a government, can be less than
necessary. And if a cure be necessary, it excuses not the
patient, his disease being otherwise desperate, that it is
dangerous; which was the case of Rome, not so stated by
Machiavel, where he says, that the strife about the agrarian
caused the destruction of that commonwealth. As if when a senator
was not rich (as Crassus held) except he could pay an army, that
commonwealth could expect nothing but ruin whether in strife
about the agrarian, or without it. 'Of late,' says Livy, 'riches
have introduced avarice, and voluptuous pleasures abounding have
through lust and luxury begot a desire of lasting and destroying
all good orders.' if the greatest security of a commonwealth
consists in being provided with the proper antidote against this
poison, her greatest danger, must be from the absence of an
agrarian, which is the whole truth of the Roman example. For the
Laconic, I shall reserve the further explication of it, as my
lord also did, to another place; and first see whether an
agrarian proportioned to a popular government be sufficient to
keep out monarchy. My lord is for the negative, and fortified by
the people of Israel electing a king. To which I say that the
action of the people therein expressed is a full answer to the
objection of that example; for the monarchy neither grew upon
them, nor could; by reason of the agrarian, possibly have invaded
them, if they had not pulled it upon themselves by the election
of a king. Which being an accident, the like whereof is not to be
found in any other people so planted, nor in this till, as it is
manifest, they were given up by God to infatuation (for says he
to Samuel, 'They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected
me, that I should not reign over them,), has something in it
which is apparent, by what went before, to have been besides the
course of nature, and by what followed.

"For the King having no other foundation than the calamities
of the people, so often beaten by their enemies, that despairing
of themselves they were contented with any change, if he had
peace as in the days of Solomon, left but a slippery throne to
his successor, as appeared by Rehoboam. And the agrarian,
notwithstanding the monarchy thus introduced, so faithfully
preserved the root of that commonwealth, that it shot forth
oftener and by intervals continued longer than any other
government, as may be computed from the institution of the same
by Joshua, 1,465 years before Christ, to the total dissolution of
it, which happened in the reign of the emperor Adrian, 135 years
after the incarnation. A people planted upon an equal agrarian,
and holding to it, if they part with their liberty, must do it
upon good-will, and make but a bad title of their bounty. As to
instance yet further in that which is proposed by the present
order to this nation, the standard whereof is at œ2,000 a year;
the whole territory of Oceana being divided by this proportion,
amounts to 5,000 lots. So the lands of Oceana being thus
distributed, and bound to this distribution, can never fall to
fewer than 5,000 proprietors. But 5,000 proprietors so seized
will not agree to break the agrarian, for that were to agree to
rob one another; nor to bring in a king, because they must
maintain him, and can have no benefit by him; nor to exclude the
people, because they can have as little by that, and must spoil
their militia. So the commonwealth continuing upon the balance
proposed, though it should come into 5,000 hands, can never
alter, and that it should ever come into 5,000 hands is as
improbable as anything in the world that is not altogether

"My lord's other considerations are more private, as that,
this order destroys families; which is as if one should lay the
ruin of some ancient castle to the herbs which usually grow out
of them, the destruction of those families being that indeed
which naturally produced this order. For we do not now argue for
that which we would have, but for that which we are already
possessed of, as would appear if a note were but taken of all
such as have at this day above œ2,000 a year in Oceana. If my
lord should grant (and I will put it with the most) that they who
are proprietors in land, exceeding this proportion, exceed not
300, with what brow can the interest of so few be balanced with
that of the whole nation? or rather, what interest have they to
put in such a balance? they would live as they had been
accustomed to do; who hinders them? they would enjoy their
estates; who touches them? they would dispose of what they have
according to the interest of their families; it is that which we
desire. A man has one son, let him be called; would he enjoy his
father's estate? it is his, his son's, and his son's son's after
him. A man has five sons, let them be called; would they enjoy
their father's estate? It is divided among them; for we have four
votes for one in the same family, and therefore this must be the
interest of the family, or the family knows not its own interest.
If a man shall dispute otherwise, he must draw his arguments from
custom and from greatness, which was the interest of the
monarchy, not of the family; and we are now a commonwealth. If
the monarchy could not bear with such divisions because they
tendered to a commonwealth, neither can a commonwealth connive at
such accumulations because they tend to a monarchy. If the
monarchy might make bold with so many for the good of one, we may
make bold with one for the good of so many, nay, for the good of

"My lords, it comes into my mind, that which upon occasion of
the variety of parties enumerated in our late civil wars, was
said by a friend of mine coming home from his travels, about the
latter end of these troubles; that he admired how it came to
pass, that younger brothers, especially being so many more in
number than their elder did not unite as one man against a
tyranny, the like whereof has not been exercised in any other
nation. And truly, when I consider that our countrymen are none
of the worst-natured, I must confess I marvel much how it comes
to pass that we should use our children as we do our puppies --
take one, lay it in the lap, feed it with every good bit, and
drown five; nay, yet worse, forasmuch as the puppies are once
drowned, whereas the children are left perpetually drowning.
Really, my lords, it is a flinty custom! and all this for his
cruel ambition, that would raise himself a pillar a golden pillar
for his monument, though he has children, his own reviving flesh,
and a kind of immortality. And this is that interest of a family,
for which we are to think ill of a government that will not
endure it. But quiet ourselves; the land through which the river
Nilus wanders in one stream, is barren; but where it parts into
seven, it multiplies its fertile shores by distributing, yet
keeping and improving, such a propriety and nutrition, as is a
prudent agrarian to a well-ordered commonwealth.

"Nor (to come to the fifth assertion) is a political body
rendered any fitter for industry by having one gouty and another
withered leg, than a natural. It tends not to the improvement of
merchandise that there be some who have no need of their trading,
and others that are not able to follow it. If confinement
discourages industry, an estate in money is not confined, and
lest industry should want whereupon to work, land is not
engrossed or entailed upon any man, but remains at its devotion.
I wonder whence the computation can arise, that this should
discourage industry. Two thousand pounds a year a man may enjoy
in Oceana, as much in Panopea, œ500 in Marpesia; there be other
plantations, and the commonwealth will have more. Who knows how
far the arms of our agrarian may extend themselves? and whether
he that might have left a pillar, may not leave a temple of many
pillars to his more pious memory? Where there is some measure in
riches, a man may be rich, but if you will have them to be
infinite, there will be no end of starving himself, and wanting
what he has: and what pains does such a one take to be poor
Furthermore, if a man shall think that there may be an industry
less greasy or more noble, and so cast his thoughts upon the
commonwealth, he will have leisure for her and she riches and
honors for him; his sweat shall smell like Alexander's. My Lord
Philautus is a young man who, enjoying his œ10,000 a year, may
keep a noble house in the old way, and have homely guests; and
having but two, by the means proposed, may take the upper hand of
his great ancestors; with reverence to whom, I may say, there has
not been one of them would have disputed his place with a Roman

"My lord, do not break my heart; the nobility shall go to no
other ploughs than those which we call our consuls. But, says he,
it having been so with Lacedaemon, that neither the city nor the
citizens were capable of increase, a blow was given by that
agrarian, which ruined both. And what are we concerned with that
agrarian, or that blow while our citizens and our city (and that
by our agrarian) are both capable of increase? The Spartan, if he
made a conquest, had no citizens to hold it; the Oceaner will
have enow. The Spartan could have no trade; the Oceaner may have
all. The agrarian in Laconia, that it might bind on knapsacks,
forbidding all other arts but that of war, could not make an army
of above 30,000 citizens. The agrarian in Oceana, without
interruption of traffic, provides us in the fifth part of the
youth an annual source or fresh spring of 100,000, besides our
provincial auxiliaries, out of which to draw marching armies; and
as many elders, not feeble, but men most of them in the flower of
their age, and in arms for the defence of our territories. The
agrarian in Laconia banished money, this multiplies it; that
allowed a matter of twenty or thirty acres to a man, this 2,000
or 3,000; there is no comparison between them. And yet I differ
so much from my lord, or his opinion that the agrarian was the
ruin of Lacedaemon, that I hold it no less than demonstrable to
have been her main support. For if, banishing all other
diversions, it could not make an army of above 30,000, then,
letting in all other diversions, it must have broken that army.
Wherefore Lysander, bringing in the golden spoils of Athens,
irrevocably ruined that commonwealth; and is a warning to us,
that in giving encouragement to industry, we also remember that
covetousness is the root of all evil. And our agrarian can never
be the cause of those seditions threatened by my lord, but is the
proper cure of them, as Lucan notes well in the state of Rome
before the civil wars, which happened through the want of such an

"Why then are we mistaken, as if we intended not equal
advantages in our commonwealth to either sex, because we would
not have women's fortunes consist in that metal which exposes
them to cutpurses? If a man cuts my purse I may have him by the
heels or by the neck for it; whereas a man may cut a woman's
purse, and have her for his pains in fetters. How brutish, and
much more than brutish, is that commonwealth which prefers the
earth before the fruits of the womb? If the people be her
treasure, the staff by which she is sustained and comforted, with
what justice can she suffer them, by whom she is most enriched,
to be for that cause the most impoverished? And yet we see the
gifts of God, and the bounties of heaven in fruitful families,
through this wretched custom of marrying for money, become their
insupportable grief and poverty. Nor falls this so heavy upon the
lower sort, being better able to shift for themselves, as upon
the nobility or gentry. For what avails it in this case, from
whence their veins have derived their blood; while they shall see
the tallow of a chandler sooner converted into that beauty which
is required in a bride? I appeal, whether my Lord Philautus or
myself be the advocate of nobility; against which, in the case
proposed by me, there would be nothing to hold the balance. And
why is a woman, if she may have but œ1,500, undone? If she be
unmarried, what nobleman allows his daughter in that case a
greater revenue than so much money may command? And if she marry,
no nobleman can give his daughter a greater portion than she has.
Who is hurt in this case? -- nay, who is not benefited? If the
agrarian gives us the sweat of our brows without diminution; if
it prepares our table; if it makes our cup to overflow, and above
all this, in providing for our children, anoints our heads with
that oil which takes away the greatest of worldly cares; what
man, that is not besotted with a covetousness as vain as endless,
can imagine such a constitution to be his poverty? Seeing where
no woman can be considerable for her portion, no portion will be
considerable with a woman; and so his children will not only find
better preferments without his brokage, but more freedom of their
own affections.
"We are wonderful severe in laws, that they shall not marry
without our consent, as if it were care and tenderness over them;
but is it not lest we should not have the other œ1,000 with this
son, or the other œ100 a year more in jointure for that daughter?
These, when we are crossed in them, are the sins for which we
water our couch with tears, but not of penitence. Seeing whereas
it is a mischief beyond any that we can do to our enemies, we
persist to make nothing of breaking the affection of our
children. But there is in this agrarian a homage to pure and
spotless love, the consequence whereof I will not give for all
your romances. An alderman makes not his daughter a countess till
he has given her œ20,000, nor a romance a considerable mistress
till she be a princess; these are characters of bastard love. But
if our agrarian excludes ambition and covetousness, we shall at
length have the care of our own breed, in which we have been
curious as to our dogs and horses. The marriage-bed will be truly
legitimate, and the race of the commonwealth not spurious.
"But (impar magnanimis ausis, imparque dolori) I am hurled from
all my hopes by my lord's last assertion of impossibility, that
the root from whence we imagine these fruits should be planted or
thrive in this soil. And why? Because of the mixture of estates
and variety of tenures. Nevertheless, there is yet extant in the
Exchequer an old survey of the whole nation; wherefore such a
thing is not impossible. Now if a new survey were taken at the
present rates, and the law made that no man should hold hereafter
above so much land as is valued therein at œ2,000 a year, it
would amount to a good and sufficient agrarian. It is true that
there would remain some difficulty in the different kind of
rents, and that it is a matter requiring not only more leisure
than we have, but an authority which may be better able to bow
men to a more general consent than is to be wrought out of them
by such as are in our capacity. Wherefore as to the manner, it is
necessary that we refer it to the Parliament; but as to the
matter, they cannot otherwise fix their government upon the right

"I shall conclude with a few words to some parts of the
order, which my lord has omitted. As first to the consequences of
the agrarian to be settled in Marpesia, which irreparably breaks
the aristocracy of that nation; being of such a nature, as
standing, it is not possible that you should govern. For while
the people of that country are little better than the cattle of
the nobility, you must not wonder if, according as these can make
their markets with foreign princes, you find those to be driven
upon your grounds. And if you be so tender, now you have it in
your power, as not to hold a hand upon them that may prevent the
slaughter which must otherwise ensue in like cases, the blood
will lie at your door. But in holding such a hand upon them, you
may settle the agrarian; and in settling the agrarian, you give
that people not only liberty, but lands; which makes your
protection necessary to their security; and their contribution
due to your protection, as to their own safety.

"For the agrarian of Panopea, it allowing such proportions of
so good land, men that conceive themselves straitened by this in
Oceana, will begin there to let themselves forth, where every
citizen will in time have his villa. And there is no question,
but the improvement of that country by this means must be far
greater than it has been in the best of former times. "I have no
more to say, but that in those ancient and heroic ages (when men
thought that to be necessary which was virtuous) the nobility of
Athens, having the people so much engaged in their debt that
there remained no other question among these than which of those
should be king, no sooner heard Solon speak than they quitted
their debts, and restored the commonwealth; which ever after held
a solemn and annual feast called the Sisacthia, or Recision, in
memory of that action. Nor is this example the phoenix; for at
the institution by Lycurgus, the nobility having estates (as ours
here) in the lands of Laconia, upon no other valuable
consideration than the commonwealth proposed by him, threw them
up to be parcelled by his agrarian. But now when no man is
desired to throw up a farthing of his money, or a shovelful of
his earth, and that all we can do is but to make a virtue of
necessity, we are disputing whether we should have peace or war.
For peace you cannot have without some government, nor any
government without the proper balance. Wherefore if you will not
fix this which you have, the rest is blood, for without blood you
can bring in no other."

By these speeches made at the institution of the agrarian you
may perceive what were the grounds of it. The next is --

The fourteenth order, "Constituting the ballot of Venice, as
it is fitted by several alterations, and appointed to every
assembly, to be the constant and only way of giving suffrage in
this commonwealth, according to the following scheme."

I shall endeavor by the following figure to demonstrate the
manner of the Venetian ballot (a thing as difficult in discourse
or writing, as facile in practice) according to the use of it in
Oceana. The whole figure represents the Senate, containing, as to
the house or form of sitting, a square and a half; the tribunal
at the upper end being ascended by four steps. On the uppermost
of these sit the magistrates that constitute the signory of the
commonwealth, that is to say, A the strategus; B the orator; C
the three commissioners of the great seal; D the three
commissioners of the Treasury, whereof one, E, exercises for the
present the office of a censor at the middle urn, F To the two
upper steps of the tribunal answer G, G-G, G, the two long
benches next the wall on each side of the house; the outwardmost
of which are equal in height to the uppermost step, and the
innermost equal in height to the next. Of these four benches
consists the first seal; as the second seat consists in like
manner of those four benches H, H-H, H, which being next the
floor, are equal in height to the two nethermost steps of the
throne. So the whole house is distributed into two seats, each
consisting of four benches.

This distribution causes not only the greater conveniency; as
will be shown, to the senators in the exercise of their function
at the ballot, but a greater grace to the aspect of the Senate.
In the middle of the outward benches stand I, 12 the chairs of
the censors, those being their ordinary places, though upon
occasion of the ballot they descend, and sit where they are shown
by K, K at each of the outward urns L, L. Those M, M that sit
with their tables, and the bowls N, N before them, upon the
halfspace or second step of the tribunal from the floor, are the
clerks or secretaries of the house. Upon the short seats O, O on
the floor (which should have been represented by woolsacks) sit:
P, the two tribunes of the horse. Q, the two tribunes of the
foot; and R, R-R, R the judges, all which magistrates are
assistants, but have no suffrage. This posture of the Senate
considered, the ballot is performed as follows:

First, whereas the gold balls are of several suits, and
accordingly marked with several letters of the alphabet, a
secretary presents a little urn (wherein there is one ball of
every suit or mark) to the strategus and the orator; and look
what letter the strategus draws, the same and no other is to be
used for that time in the middle urn F; the like for the letter
drawn by the orator is to be observed for the side urns L, L,
that is to say if the strategus drew a ball with an A, all the
gold balls in the middle urn for that day are marked with the
letter A; and if the orator drew a B, all the gold balls in the
side urn for that day are marked with the letter B, which done
immediately before the ballot, and so the letter unknown to the
ballotants, they can use no fraud or juggling; otherwise a man
might carry a gold ball in his hand, and seem to have drawn it
out of an urn. He that draws a gold ball at any urn, delivers it
to the censor or assessor of that urn, who views the character,
and allows accordingly of his lot.

The strategus and the orator having drawn for the letters,
the urns are prepared accordingly by one of the commissioners and
the two censors. The preparation of the urns is After this
manner. If the Senate be to elect, for example, the list called
the tropic of magistrates, which is this:

1. The Lord Strategus;

2. The Lord Orator;

3. The Third Commissioner of the Great Seal;

4. The Third Commissioner of the Treasury;

5. The First Censor;

6. The Second Censor;

this list or schedule consists of six magistracies, and to every
magistracy there are to be four competitors; that is, in all
four-and-twenty competitors proposed to the house. They that are
to propose the competitors are called electors, and no elector
can propose above one competitor: wherefore for the proposing of
four-and-twenty competitors you must have four-and-twenty
electors; and whereas the ballot consists of a lot and of a
suffrage, the lot is for no other use than for the designation of
electors; and he that draws a gold ball at the middle urn is an
elector. Now, as to have four-and-twenty competitors proposed,
you must have four-and-twenty electors made, so to have
four-and-twenty electors made by lot, you must have
four-and-twenty gold balls in the middle urn; and these (because
otherwise it would be no lot) mixed with a competent number of
blanks, or silver balls. Wherefore to the four-and-twenty gold
balls cast six-and-twenty silver ones, and those (reckoning the
blanks with the prizes) make fifty balls in the middle urn. This
done (because no man can come to the middle urn that has not
first drawn a gold ball at one of the side urns) and to be sure
that the prizes or gold balls in this urn be all drawn, there
must come to it fifty persons; therefore there must be in each of
the side urns five-and-twenty gold balls, which in both come to
fifty; and to the end that every senator may have his lot, the
gold balls in the side urns are to be made up with blanks equal
to the number of the ballotants at either urn; for example, the
house consisting of 300 senators, there must be in each of the
side urns 125 blanks and twenty-five prizes, which come in both
the side urns to 300 balls. This is the whole mystery of
preparing the urns, which the censors having skill to do
accordingly, the rest of the ballot, whether the parties
balloting understand it or not must of necessary consequence come
right; and they can neither be out, nor fall into any confusion
in the exercise of this art.

But the ballot, as I said, is of two parts, lot and suffrage,
or the proposition and result. The lot determines who shall
propose the competitors; and the result of the Senate, which of
the competitors shall be the magistrates. The whole, to begin
with the lot, proceeds in this manner:

The first secretary with an audible voice reads first the
list of the magistrates to be chosen for the day, then the oath
for fair election, at which the senators hold up their hands;
which done, another secretary presents a little urn to the
strategus, in which are four balls, each of them having one of
these four inscriptions: "First seat at the upper end," "First
seat at the lower end," "Second seat at the upper end," "Second
seat at the lower end." And look which of them the strategus
draws, the secretary pronouncing the inscription with a loud
voice, the seat so called comes accordingly to the urns: this in
the figure is the second seat at the upper end. The manner of
their coming to the side urns is in double files, that being two
holes in the cover of each side urn, by which means two may draw
at once. The senators therefore S, S-S, S are coming from the
upper end of their seats H, H-H, H to the side urns L, L. The
senators T T-T are drawing. The senator V has drawn a gold ball
at his side urn, and is going to the middle urn F, where the
senator W, having done the like at the other side urn, is already
drawing. But the senators X, X-X, X having drawn blanks at their
side urns, and thrown them into the bowls Y Y standing at the
feet of the urns, are marching by the lower end into their seats
again; the senator a having done the like at the middle urn, is
also throwing his blank into the bowl b and marching to his seat
again: for a man by a prize at a side urn gains no more than
right to come to the middle urn, where, if he draws a blank, his
fortune at the side urn comes to nothing at all; wherefore he
also returns to his place. But the senator C has had a prize at
the middle urn, where the commissioner, having viewed his ball,
and found the mark to be right, he marches up the steps to the
seat of the electors, which is the form d set across the
tribunal, where he places himself, according as he was drawn,
with the other electors e, e, e drawn before him. These are not
to look back, but sit with their faces toward the signory or
state, till their number amount to that of the magistrates to be
that day chosen, which for the present, as was shown, are six:
wherefore six electors being made, they are reckoned according as
they were drawn: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, in
their order, and the first six that are chosen are the first
order of electors.

The first order of electors being made, are conducted by a
secretary, with a copy of the list to be chosen, out of the
Senate, and into a committee or council-chamber, being neither
suffered by the way, nor in their room (till the ballot be
ended), to have conference with any but themselves; wherefore the
secretary, having given them their oath that they shall make
election according to the law and their conscience, delivers them
the list, and seats himself at the lower end of the table with
his pen and paper, while another secretary keeps the door.

By such time as the first order of electors are thus seated,
the second order of electors is drawn, who, with a second copy of
the same list, are conducted into another committee-chamber, by
other secretaries performing the same office with the former.

The like exactly is done by the third and by the fourth
orders (or hands, as the Venetians call them) of electors, by
which means you have the four-and-twenty electors divided
according to the four copies of the same list, by six, into four
hands or orders; and every one of these orders names one
competitor to every magistracy in the list; that is to say, the
first elector names to the first magistracy, the second elector
to the second magistracy, and so forth. But though the electors,
as has been shown, are chosen by mere lot, yet the competitors by
them named are not chosen by any lot, but by the suffrage of the
whole order for example, the first elector in the first order
proposes a name to be strategus, which name is balloted by
himself and the other five electors, and if the name so balloted
attain not to above half the suffrages, it is laid aside, and the
first elector names another to the same magistracy and so in case
this also fails, another, till one he has named, whether it be
himself, or some other, has attained to above half the suffrages
in the affirmative; and the name so attaining to above half the
suffrages in the affirmative is written to the first magistracy
in the list by the secretary which being done, the second elector
of the first order, names to 'the second magistracy till one of
his nomination be chosen to the same. The like is done by the
rest of the electors of the first order, till one competitor be
chosen, and written to every magistracy in their list. Now the
second, third, and fourth orders of electors doing exactly after
the same manner, it comes to pass that one competitor to every
magistracy being chosen in each order, there be in all four
competitors chosen to every magistracy.

If any controversy arises in an order of electors, one of the
censors (these being at this game the groom-porters) is
advertised by the secretary who brings him in, and the electors
disputing are bound to acquiesce in his sentence. For which cause
it is that the censors do not ballot at the urns; the signory
also abstains, lest it should deform the house: wherefore the
blanks in the side urns are by so many the fewer. And so much for
the lot, which is of the greater art but less consequence,
because it concerns proposition only: but all (except the
tribunes and the judges, which being but assistants have no
suffrage) are to ballot at the result, to which I now come.

The four orders of electors having perfected their lists, the
face of the house is changed: for the urns are taken away, and
every senator and magistrate is seated in his proper place,
saving the electors, who, having given their suffrages already,
may not stir out of their chambers till the house have given
theirs, and the rest of the ballot be performed; which follows in
this manner:

The four lists being presented by the secretaries of each
council of electors to the signory, are first read, according to
their order, to the house, with an audible voice; and then the
competitors are put to the ballot or suffrage of the whole Senate
in this manner: A, A named to be strategus in the first order,
whereupon eight ballotins, or pages, such as are expressed by the
figures f, f, take eight of the boxes represented, though rudely,
by the figures g, g, and go four on the one and four on the other
side of the house, that is, one to every bench, signifying "A, A
named to be the strategus in the first order.." and every
magistrate or senator (beginning by the strategus and the orator
first) holds up a little pellet of linen, as the box passes,
between his finger and his thumb, that men may see he has but
one, and then puts it into the same. The box consisting in the
inner part of two boxes, being painted on the outside white and
green, to distinguish the affirmative from the negative side, is
so made that when your hand is in it, no man can see to which of
the sides you put the suffrage, nor hear to which it falls,
because the pellet being linen, makes no noise. The strategus and
the orator having begun, all the rest do the like.

The ballotins having thus gathered the suffrages, bring them
before the signory, in whose presence the outward boxes being
opened, they take out the inner boxes, whereof the affirmative is
white, and the negative green, and pour the white in the bowl N
on the right hand, which is white also, and the green into the
bowl N on the left, which is also green. These bowls or basins
(better represented at the lower end of the figure by h, i) being
upon this occasion set before the tables of the secretaries at
the upper end N, N, the white on the right hand, and the green on
the left, the secretaries on each side number the balls, by
which, if they find that the affirmatives amount not to above
one-half, they write not the name that was balloted, but if they
amount to above one-half, they write it, adding the number of
above half the suffrages to which it attained. The first name
being written, or laid aside, the next that is put is BB named to
be strategus in the second order; the third CC, named to be
strategus in the third order; the fourth DD, named to be
strategus in the fourth order and he of these four competitors
that has most above half in the affirmative, is the magistrate;
or if none of them attain to above half, the nomination for that
magistracy is to be repeated by such new electors as shall be
chosen at the next ballot. And so, as is exemplified in the first
magistracy, proceeds the ballot of the rest; first in the first,
then in the second, and so in the third and fourth orders.

Now whereas it may happen that AA, for example, being named
strategus in the first order, may also be named to the same or
some one or more other magistracies in one or more of the other
orders; his name is first balloted where it is first written,
that is to the more worthy magistracy, whereof if he misses, he
is balloted as it comes in course for the next, and so for the
rest, if he misses of that, as often as he is named.

And because to be named twice, or oftener, whether to the
same or some other magistracy, is the stronger recommendation,
the note must not fail to be given upon the name, at the
proposition in this manner: AA named to be strategus in the
first, and in the second order, or AA named to be strategus in
the first and the third, in the first and the fourth, etc. But if
he be named to the same magistracy in the first, second, third,
and fourth orders, he can have no competitor; wherefore attaining
to above half the suffrages, he is the magistrate. Or thus: AA
named to be strategus in the first, to be censor in the second,
to be orator in the third, and to be commissioner of the seal in
the fourth order, or the like in more or fewer orders, in which
cases if he misses of the first magistracy, he is balloted to the
second; if he misses of the second, to the third; and if he
misses of the third, to the fourth.

The ballot not finished before sunset, though the election of
the magistrates already chosen be good, voids the election of
such competitors as being chosen are not yet furnished with
magistracies, as if they had never been named (for this is no
juggling-box, but an art that must see the sun), and the ballot
for the remaining magistracies is to be repeated the next day by
new orders of electors, and such competitors as by them shall be
elected. And so in the like manner, if of all the names proposed
to the same magistracy, no one of them attains to above half the
suffrages in the affirmative.

The senatorian ballot of Oceana being thus described, those
of the parish, of the hundred, and of the tribe, being so little
different, that in this they are all contained, and by this may
be easily understood, are yet fully described, and made plain
enough before in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and
tenth orders.

This, therefore, is the general order, whence those branches
of the ballot, some whereof you have already seen, are derived;
which, with those that follow, were all read and debated in this
place at the institution. When my Lord Epimonus de Garrula, being
one of the councillors, and having no further patience (though
the rulers were composed by the agent of this commonwealth,
residing for that purpose at Venice) than to hear the direction
for the parishes, stood up and made way for himself in this


"Under correction of Mr. Peregrin, Spy, our very learned
agent and intelligencer, I have seen the world a little, Venice,
and (as gentlemen are permitted to do) the great Council
balloting. And truly I must needs say, that it is for a dumb show
the goodliest that I ever beheld with my eyes. You should have
some would take it ill, as if the noble Venetians thought
themselves too good to speak to strangers, but they observed them
not so narrowly. The truth is, they have nothing to say to their
acquaintance; or men that are in council sure would have tongues:
for a council, and not a word spoken in it, is a contradiction.
But there is such a pudder with their marching and
countermarching, as, though never a one of them draw a sword, you
would think they were training; which till I found that they did
it only to entertain strangers, I came from among them as wise as
I went thither But in the Parliament of Oceana you had no balls
nor dancing, but sober conversation; a man might know and be
known, show his parts, and improve them. And now if you take the
advice of this same fellow, you will spoil all with his whimsies.
Mr. Speaker -- cry you mercy, my Lord Archon, I mean -- set the
wisest man of your house in the great Council of Venice, and you
will not know him from a fool. Whereas nothing is more certain
than that flat and dull fellows in the judgment of all such as
used to keep company with them before, upon election into our
house, have immediately chitted like barley in the vat, where it
acquires a new spirit, and flowed forth into language, that I am
as confident as I am here, if there were not such as delight to
abuse us, is far better than Tully's; or, let anybody but
translate one of his orations, and speak it in the house, and see
if everybody do not laugh at him.

"This is a great matter, Mr. Speaker; they do not cant it
with your book-learning, your orbs, your centres, your prime
magnitudes, and your nebulones, things I profess that would make
a sober man run stark mad to hear them; while we, who should be
considering the honor of our country and that it goes now or
never upon our hand, whether it shall be ridiculous to all the
world, are going to nine-holes or trow madam for our business,
like your dumb Venetian, whom this same Sir Politic your
resident, that never saw him do anything but make faces, would
insinuate to you, at this distance, to have the only knack of
state. Whereas if you should take the pains, as I have done, to
look a little nearer, you would find these same wonderful things
to be nothing else but mere natural fopperies, or capriccios as
they call them in Italian, even of the meanest, of that nation.
For, put the case you be travelling in Italy, ask your contadino,
that is, the next country-fellow you meet, some question, and
presently he ballots you an answer with a nod, which is
affirmative; or a shake with his head, which is the negative box;
or a shrug with his shoulder, which is the bossolo di non
sinceri. Good! You will admire Sandys for telling you, that
grotta di cane is a miracle: and I shall be laughed at, for
assuring you, that it is nothing else but such a damp (continued
by the neighborhood of certain sulphur mines) as through
accidental heat does sometimes happen in our coalpits. But
ingratitude must not discourage an honest man from doing good.
There is not, I say, such a tongue-tied generation under heaven
as your Italian, that you should not wonder if he makes signs.
But our people must have something in their diurnals; we must
ever and anon be telling them our minds; or if we be at it when
we raise taxes, like those gentlemen with the finger and the
thumb, they will swear that we are cutpurses. Come, I know what I
have heard them say, when some men had money that wrought hard
enough for it; and do you conceive they will be better pleased
when they shall be told that upon like occasions you are at
mumchance or stool-ball?

"I do not speak for myself; for though I shall always
acknowledge that I got more by one year's sitting in the house
than by my three years' travels, it was not of that kind. But I
hate that this same Spy, for pretending to have played at
billiards with the most serene Commonwealth of Venice, should
make such fools of us here, when I know that he must have had his
intelligence from some corn-cutter upon the Rialto; for a noble
Venetian would be hanged if he should keep such a fellow company.
And yet if I do not think he has made you all dote, never trust
me, my Lord Archon is sometimes in such strange raptures. Well,
good my lord, let me be heard as well as your apple squire.
Venice has fresh blood in her cheeks, I must confess, yet she is
but an old lady. N or has he picked her cabinet; these he sends
you are none of her receipts, I can assure you; he bought them
for a Julio at St. Mark's of a mountebank. She has no other wash,
upon my knowledge, for that same envied complexion of hers but
her marshes, being a little better scented, saving your presence,
than a chamber-pot. My lords, I know what I say, but you will
never have done with it, that neither the great Turk, nor any of
those little Turks her neighbors, have been able to spoil her!
Why you may as well wonder that weasels do not suck eggs in
swans' nests. Do you think that it has lain in the devotion of
her beads; which you that have puked so much at popery, are now
at length resolved shall consecrate M. Parson, and be dropped by
every one of his congregation, while those same whimsical
intelligences your surveyors (you will break my heart) give the
turn to your primum mobile! And so I think they will; for you
will find that money is the primum mobile) and they will turn you
thus out of some œ300,000 or œ400,000: a pretty sum for urns and
balls, for boxes and pills, which these same quacksalvers are to
administer to the parishes; and for what disease I marvel! Or how
does it work? Out comes a constable, an overseer, and a
churchwarden! Mr. Speaker, I am amazed!"

Never was there goose so stuck with lard as my Lord
Epimonus's speech with laughter, the Archon having much ado to
recover himself in such a manner as might enable him to return
these thanks:

"In your whole lives, my lords, were you never entertained
with so much ingenuity, my Lord Epimonus having at once mended
all the faults of travellers. For, first, whereas they are
abominable liars, he has not told you (except some malicious body
has misinformed him concerning poor Spy) one syllable of
falsehood. And, secondly, whereas they never fail to give the
upper hand in all their discourses to foreign nations, still
jostling their own into the kennel, he bears an honor to his
country that will not dissolve in Cephalonia, nor be corrupted
with figs and melons, which I can assure you is an ordinary
obligation; and therefore hold it a matter of public concern that
we be to no occasion of quenching my lord's affections, nor is
there any such great matter between us, but, in my opinion, might
be easily reconciled, for though that which my lord gained by
sitting in the house, I steadfastly believe, as he can affirm,
was got fairly yet dare I not, nor do I think, that upon
consideration he will promise for other gamesters, especially
when they were at it so high, as he intimates not only to have
been in use, but to be like enough to come about again. Wherefore
say I, let them throw with boxes, for unless we will be below the
politics of an ordinary, there is no such bar to cogging. it is
known to his lordship that our game is most at a throw, and that
every cast of our dice is in our suffrages, nor will he deny that
partiality in a suffrage is downright cogging.

If the Venetian boxes be the most sovereign of all remedies
against this same cogging, is it not a strange thing that they
should be thrown first into the fire by a fair gamester? Men are
naturally subject to all kinds of passions; some you have that
are not able to withstand the brow of an enemy, and others that
make nothing of this, are less proof against that of a friend. So
that if your suffrage be barefaced, I dare say you shall not have
one fair cast in twenty. But whatever a man's fortune be at the
box, he neither knows whom to thank, nor whom to challenge.
Wherefore (that my lord may have a charitable opinion of the
choice affection which I confess to have, above all other
beauties, for that of incomparable Venice) there is in this way
of suffrage no less than a demonstration that it is the most
pure, and the purity of the suffrage in a popular government is
the health, if not the life of it, seeing the soul is not
otherwise breathed into the sovereign power than by the suffrage
of the people. Wherefore no wonder if Postellus be of opinion
that this use of the ball is the very same with that of the bean
in Athens, or that others, by the text concerning Eldad and
Medad, derive it from the Commonwealth of Israel. There is
another thing, though not so material to us, that my lord will
excuse me if I be not willing to yield, which is, that Venice
subsists only by her situation. it is true that a man in time of
war may be more secure from his enemies by being in a citadel,
but not from his diseases; wherefore the first cause, if he lives
long, is his good constitution, without which his citadel were to
little purpose, and it is not otherwise with Venice."

With this speech of the Archon I conclude the proof of the
agrarian and the ballot, being the fundamental laws of this
commonwealth, and come now from the centre to the circumferences
or orbs, whereof some have been already shown; as how the
parishes annually pour themselves into the hundreds, the hundreds
into the tribes, and the tribes into the galaxies; the annual
galaxy of every tribe consisting of two knights and seven
deputies, whereof the knights constitute the Senate; the
deputies, the prerogative tribe, commonly called the people; and
the Senate and people constitute the sovereign power or
Parliament of Oceana. Whereof to show what the Parliament is, I
must first open the Senate, and then the prerogative tribe.

To begin with the Senate, of which (as a man is differently
represented by a picture drawer and by an anatomist) I shall
first discover the face or aspect, and then the parts, with the
use of them. Every Monday morning in the summer at seven, and in
the winter at eight, the great bell in the clock-house at the
Pantheon begins, and continues ringing for the space of one hour;
in which time the magistrates of the Senate, being attended
according to their quality, with a respective number of the
ballotins, doorkeepers, and messengers, and having the ensigns of
their magistracies borne before them, as the sword before the
strategus, the mace before the orator, a mace with the seal
before the commissioners of the chancery, the like with the purse
before the commissioners of the treasury, and a silver wand, like
those in use with the universities, before each of the censors,
being chancellors of the same. These, with the knights, in all
300, assemble in the house or hall of the Senate.

The house or hall of the Senate being situated in the
Pantheon or palace of justice, is a room consisting of a square
and a half. In the middle of the lower end is the door, at the
upper end hangs a rich state overshadowing the greater part of a
large throne, or half-pace of two stages; the first ascended by
two steps from the floor, and the second about the middle rising
two steps higher. Upon this stand two chairs, in that on the
right hand sits the strategus, in the other the orator adorned
with scarlet robes, after the fashion that was used by the dukes
in the aristocracy. At the right end of the upper stage stand
three chairs, in which the three commissioners of the seal are
placed; and at the other end sit the three commissioners of the
treasury, every one in a robe or habit like that of the earls. Of
these magistrates of this upper stage consists the signory. At
either end of the lower stage stands a little table, to which the
secretaries of the Senate are set with their tufted sleeves in
the habit of civil lawyers. To the four steps, whereby the two
stages of the throne are ascended, answer four long benches,
which successively deriving from every one of the steps, continue
their respective height, and extend themselves by the side walls
toward the lower end of the house, every bench being divided by
numeral characters into the thirty-seven parts or places. Upon
the upper benches sit the censors in the robes of barons; the
first in the middle of the right hand bench, and the second
directly opposite to him on the other side. Upon the rest of the
benches sit the knights, who, if they be called to the urns,
distributing themselves by the figures, come in equal files,
either by the first seat, which consists of the two upper benches
on either side; or by the second seat, consisting of the two
lower benches on either side, beginning also at the upper or at
the lower ends of the same, according to the lot whereby they are
called; for which end the benches are open, and ascended at
either end with easy stairs and large passages.

The rest of the ballot is conformable to that of the tribe;
the censors of the house sitting at the side urn, and the
youngest magistrate of the signory at the middle, the urns being
placed before the throne, and prepared according to the number of
the magistrates to be at that time chosen by the rules already
given to the censors of the tribes. But before the benches of the
knights on either side stands one being shorter, and at the upper
end of this sit the two tribunes of the horse. At the upper end
of the other the two tribunes of the foot in their arms, the rest
of the benches being covered by the judges of the land in their
robes. But these magistrates have no suffrage, nor the tribunes,
though they derive their presence in the Senate from the Romans,
nor the judges, though they derive theirs from the ancient Senate
of Oceana. Every Monday this assembly sits of course; at other
times, if there be occasion, any magistrate of the house, by
giving order for the bell, or by his lictor or ensign-bearer,
calls a senate. And every magistrate or knight during his session
has the title, place, and honor of a duke, earl, baron, or knight
respectively And every one that has borne the same magistracy by
his third session, has his respective place and title during the
term of his life, which is all the honor conferred by this
commonwealth, except upon the master of the ceremonies, the
master of the horse, and the king of the heralds, who are knights
by their places. And thus you have the face of the Senate, in
which there is scarce any feature that is not Roman or Venetian;
nor do the horns of the crescent extend themselves much unlike
those of the Sanhedrim, on either hand of the prince, and of the
father of that Senate. But upon beauty, in which every man has
his fancy, we will not otherwise philosophize than to remember
that there is something more than decency in the robe of a judge,
that would not be well spared from the bench; and that the
gravest magistrate to whom you can commit the sword of justice,
will find a quickness in the spurs of honor, which, if they be
not laid to virtue, will lay themselves to that which may rout a

To come from the face of the Senate to the constitution and
use of the parts: it is contained in the peculiar orders. And the
orders which are peculiar to the Senate, are either of election
or instruction.

Elections in the Senate are of three sorts: annual, biennial,
and extraordinary.

Annual elections are performed by the schedule called the
tropic; and the tropic consists of two parts: the one containing
the magistrates, and the other the councils to be yearly elected.
The schedule or tropic of the magistrates is as follows in --

The fifteenth order requiring, "That upon every Monday next
ensuing the last of March, the knights of the annual galaxies
taking their places in the Senate, be called the third region of
the same; and that the house having dismissed the first region,
and received the third, proceed to election of the magistrates
contained in the first part of the tropic, by the ensuing

The lord strategus,
The lord orator,
the first censor,
The second censor,

Annual magistrates,

The third commissioner of the seal,
The third commissioner of the Treasury,

Triennal magistrates.

"The annual magistrates (provided that no one man bears above one
of those honors during the term of one session) may be elected
out of any region. But the triennial magistrates may not be
elected out of any other than the third region only, lest the
term of their session expire before that of their honor; and (it
being unlawful for a man to bear magistracy any longer than he is
thereto qualified by the election of the people) cause a fraction
in the rotation of this commonwealth.

"The strategus is first president of the Senate, and general
of the army, if it be commanded to march; in which case there
shall be a second strategus elected to be first president of the
Senate, and general of the second army, and if this also be
commanded to march, a third strategus shill be chosen, and so on,
as long as the commonwealth sends forth armies.

"The lord orator is the second and more peculiar president of
the Senate to whom it appertains to keep the house to orders.

"The censors, whereof the first, by consequence of his
election, is chancellor of the University of Clio, and the second
of that of Calliope, are presidents of the Council for Religion
and magistrates, to whom it belongs to keep the house to the
order of the ballot. They are also inquisitors into the ways and
means of acquiring magistracy, and have power to punish indirect
proceedings in the same, by removing a knight or magistrate out
of the house, under appeal to the Senate.

"The commissioners of the seal being three, whereof the third
is annually chosen out of the third region, are judges in

"The commissioners of the Treasury being three, whereof the
third is annually chosen out of the third region, are judges in
the exchequer, and every magistrate of this schedule has right to
propose to the Senate.

"But the strategus with the six commissioners is the signory
of this commonwealth, having right of session and suffrage in
every council of the Senate, and power either jointly or
severally to propose in all or any of them."

I have little in this order to observe and prove but that the
strategus is the same honor both in name and thing that was
borne, among others, by Philopemen and Aratus in the Commonwealth
of the Achaeans; the like having been in use also with the
AEtolians. The orator, called otherwise the speaker, is, with
small alteration, the same that had been of former use in this
nation. These two, if you will, may be compared to the consuls in
Rome, or the suffetes in Carthage, for their magistracy is scarce

The censors derive their power of removing a senator from
those of Rome, the government of the ballot from those of Venice,
and that of animadversion upon the ambitus, or canvass for
magistracy, from both.

The signory, with the whole right and use of that magistracy
to be hereafter more fully explained, is almost purely Venetian.

The second part of the tropic is directed by --

The sixteenth order" Whereby the constitution of the councils
being four; that is to say, the Council of State, the Council of
War, the Council of Religion, and the Council of Trade, is
rendered conformable in their revolutions to that of the Senate.
As: First, by the annual election of five knights out of the
first region of the Senate into the Council of State, consisting
of fifteen knights, five in every region. Secondly, by the annual
election of three knights out of the third region of the Council
of State, to be proposed by the provosts, and elected by that
council, into the Council of War, consisting of nine knights,
three in every region, not excluded by this election from
remaining members also of the Council of State. The four tribunes
of the people have right of session and suffrage in the Council
of War. Thirdly, by the annual election of four knights out of
the third region of the Senate into the Council of Religion,
consisting of twelve knights, four in every region; of this
council the censors are presidents. Fourthly, by the annual
election of four knights out of the third region of the Senate
into the Council of Trade, consisting of twelve knights, four in
every region. And each region, in every one of these councils
thus constituted, shall weekly and interchangeably elect one
provost whose magistracy shall continue for one week; nor shall
he be re-elected into the same till every knight of that region
in the same council has once borne the same magistracy. And the
provosts being one in every region, three in every council, and
twelve in all, beside their other capacities, shall assemble and
be a council, or rather an Academy apart, to certain ends and
purposes to be hereafter further explained with those of the rest
of the councils."

This order is of no other use than the frame and turn of the
councils, and yet of no small one; for in motion consists life,
and the motion of a commonwealth will never be current unless it
be circular. Men that, like my Lord Epimonus, not enduring the
resemblance of this kind of government to orbs and spheres, fall
on physicking and purging it, do no more than is necessary; for
if it be not in rotation both as to persons and things, it will
be very sick. The people of Rome, as to persons, if they had not
been taken up by the wheel of magistracy, had overturned the
chariot of the Senate. And those of Lacedaemon, as to things, had
not been so quiet when the Senate trashed their business, by
encroaching upon the result, if by the institution of the ephors
they had not brought it about again. So that if you allow not a
commonwealth her rotation, in which consists her equality, you
reduce her to a party, and then it is necessary that you be
physicians indeed, or rather farriers; for you will have strong
patients, and such as must be haltered and cast, or yourselves
may need bone-setters. Wherefore the councils of this
commonwealth, both in regard of their elections, and, as will be
shown, of their affairs, are uniform with the Senate in their
revolutions; not as whirlpits to swallow, but to bite, and with
the screws of their rotation to hold and turn a business (like
the vice of a smith) to the hand of the workman. Without engines
of which nature it is not possible for the Senate, much less for
the people, to be perfect artificers in a political capacity. But
I shall not hold you longer from --

The seventeenth order, "Directing biennial elections, or the
constitution of the orb of ambassador-in-ordinary, consisting of
four residences, the revolution whereof is performed in eight
years, and preserved through the election of one ambassador in
two years by the ballot of the Senate to repair to the Court of
France, and reside there for the term of two years; and the term
of two years being expired, to remove from thence to the Court of
Spain, there to continue for the space of two years, and thence
to remove to the State of Venice, and after two years' residence
in that city to conclude with his residence at Constantinople for
a like term of time, and so to return. A knight of the Senate, or
a deputy of the prerogative, may not be elected
ambassador-in-ordinary, because a knight or deputy so chosen must
either lose his session, which would cause au unevenness in the
motion of this commonwealth, or accumulate magistracy, which
agrees not with equality of the same. Nor may any man be elected
into this capacity that is above five-and-thirty years of age,
lest the commonwealth lose the charge of his education, by being
deprived at his return of the fruit of it, or else enjoy it not
long through the defects of nature."

This order is the perspective of the commonwealth, whereby
she foresees danger; or the traffic, whereby she receives every
two years the return of a statesman enriched with eight years'
experience from the prime marts of negotiation in Europe. And so
much for the elections in the Senate that are ordinary; such as
are extraordinary follow in --

The eighteenth order, "Appointing all elections upon emergent
occasions, except that of the dictator, to be made by the
scrutiny, or that kind of election whereby a council comes to be
a fifth order of electors. For example, if there be occasion of
an ambassador-extraordinary, the provosts of the Council of
State, or any two of them, shall propose to the same, till one
competitor be chosen by that council; and the council having
chosen a competitor, shall bring his name into the Senate, which
in the usual way shall choose four more competitors to the same
magistracy; and put them, with the competitor of the council, to
the ballot of the house, by which he of the five that is chosen
is said to be elected by the scrutiny of the Council of State. A
vice-admiral, a polemarch, or field officer, shall be elected
after the same manner, by the scrutiny of the Council of War. A
judge or sergeant-at-law, by the scrutiny of the commissioners of
the seal. A baron, or considerable officer of the Exchequer, by
the scrutiny of the commissioners of the Treasury: Men in
magistracy, or out of it, are equally capable of election by the
scrutiny; but a magistrate or officer elected by the scrutiny to
a military employment, if he be neither a knight of the Senate
nor a deputy of the prerogative, ought to have his office
confirmed by the prerogative, because the militia in a
commonwealth, where the people are sovereign, is not lawful to be
touched injussu populi.

The Romans were so curious that, though their consuls were
elected in the centuriate assemblies, they might not touch the
militia, except they were confirmed in the parochial assemblies;
for a magistrate not receiving his power from the people, takes
it from them, and to take away their power is to take away their
liberty. As to the election by the scrutiny, it is easily
perceived to be Venetian, there being no such way to take in the
knowledge; which in all reason must be best in every council of
such men as are most fit for their turns, and yet to keep them
from the bias of particular affection or interest under that
pretence; for the cause why the great Council in Venice scarce
ever elects any other than the name that is brought in by the
scrutiny, is very probable to be, that they may... This election
is the last of those appertaining to the Senate. The councils
being chosen by the orders already shown, it remains that we come
to those whereby they are instructed and the orders of
instruction to the councils are two: the first for the matter
whereupon they are to proceed, and the second for the manner of
their proceeding. The matter of the councils is distributed to
them by --

The nineteenth order "Distributing to every council such
businesses as are properly to belong to their cognizance, whereof
some they shall receive and determine, and others they shall
receive, prepare, and introduce into the house: as, first,

"The Council of State is to receive all addresses,
intelligences, and letters of negotiation; to give audience to
ambassadors sent to, and to draw up instructions for such as
shall be sent by, this commonwealth; to receive propositions
from, and hold intelligence with, the provincial councils; to
consider upon all laws to be enacted, amended, or repealed, and
upon all levies of men or money, war or peace, leagues or
associations to be made by this commonwealth, so far forth as is
conducible to the orderly preparation of the same to be
introduced by them into the Senate; provided, that all such
affairs, as otherwise appertaining to the Council of State, are,
for the good of the commonwealth, to be carried with greater
secrecy, be managed by the Council of War, with power to receive
and send forth agents, spies, emissaries, intelligencers,
frigots, and to manage affairs of that nature, if it be necessary
without communication to the Senate, till such time as it may be
had without detriment to the business. But they shall have no
power to engage the commonwealth in a war without the consent of
the Senate and the people. It appertains also to this council to
take charge of the fleet as admiral, and of all storehouses,
armories, arsenals, and magazines appertaining to this
commonwealth. They shall keep a diligent record of the military
expeditions from time to time reported by him that was strategus
or general, or one of the polemarchs in that action; or at least
so far as the experience of such commanders may tend to the
improvement of the military discipline, which they shall digest
and introduce into the Senate; and if the Senate shall thereupon
frame any article, they shall see that it be observed, in the
musters or education of the youth. And whereas the Council of War
is the sentinel or scout of this commonwealth, if any person or
persons shall go about to introduce debate into any popular
assembly of the same, or otherwise to alter the present
government, or strike at the root of it, they shall apprehend, or
cause to be apprehended, seized, imprisoned, and examine,
arraign, acquit, or condemn, and cause to be executed any such
person or persons, by their proper power and authority and
without appeal.

The Council of Religion, as the arbiter of this commonwealth
in cases of conscience more peculiarly appertaining to religion,
Christian charity, and a pious life, shall have the care of the
national religion, and the protection of the liberty of
conscience with the cognizance of all causes relating to either
of them. And first as to the national religion: they shall cause
all places or preferments of the best revenue in either of the
universities to be conferred upon no other than such of the most
learned and pious men as have dedicated themselves to the study
of theology. They shall also take a special care that, by such
augmentations as be or shall hereafter be appointed by the
Senate, every benefice in this nation be improved at least to the
value of œ100 a year. And to the end that there be no interest at
all, whereby the divines or teachers of the national religion may
be corrupted, or corrupt religion, they shall be capable of no
other kind of employment or preferment in this commonwealth. And
whereas a directory for the administration of the national
religion is to be prepared by this council, they shall in this
and other debates of this nature proceed in manner following: a
question arising in matter of religion shall be put and stated by
the council in writing, which writing the censors shall send by
their beadles (being proctors chosen to attend them) each to the
university whereof he is chancellor, and the vice-chancellor of
the same receiving the writing, shall call a convocation of all
the divines of that university being above forty years of age.
And the universities, upon a point so proposed, shall have no
manner of intelligence or correspondence one with another, till
their debates be ended, and they have made return of their
answers to the Council of Religion by two or three of their own
members, that they may clear their sense, if any doubt should
arise, to the council, which done, they shall return, and the
council, having received such information, shall proceed
according to their own judgments, in the preparation of the whole
matter for the Senate: that so the interest of the learned being
removed, there may be a right application of reason to Scripture,
which is the foundation of the national religion.

"Secondly, this council, as to the protection of the liberty
of conscience, shall suffer no coercive power in the matter of
religion to be exercised in this nation; the teachers of the
natural religion being no other than such as voluntarily
undertake that calling, and their auditors or hearers no other
than are also voluntary. Nor shall any gathered congregation be
molested or interrupted in their way of worship (being neither
Jewish nor idolatrous), but vigilantly and vigorously protected
and defended in the enjoyment, practice, and profession of the
same. And if there be officers or auditors appointed by any such
congregation for the introduction of causes into the Council of
Religion, all such causes so introduced shall be received, heard,
and determined by the same, with recourse had, if need be, to the

"Thirdly, every petition addressed to the Senate, except that
of a tribe, shall be received, examined, and debated by this
council; and such only as they, upon such examination and debate
had, shall think fit, may be introduced into the Senate.

"The Council of Trade being the vena porta of this nation,
shall hereafter receive instructions more at large. For the
present, their experience, attaining to a right understanding of
those trades and mysteries that feed the veins of this
commonwealth, and a true distinction of them from those that suck
or exhaust the same, they shall acquaint the Senate with the
conveniences and inconveniences, to the end that encouragement
may be applied to the one, and remedy to the other.

"The Academy of the provosts, being the affability of the
commonwealth, shall assemble every day toward the evening in a
fair room, having certain withdrawing-rooms thereto belonging;
and all sorts of company that will repair thither for
conversation or discourse, so it be upon matters of government,
news, or intelligence, or to propose anything to the councils,
shall be freely and affably received in the outer chamber, and
heard in the way of civil conversation, which is to be managed
without any other awe or ceremony than is thereto usually
appertaining, to the end that every man may be free, and that
what is proposed by one, may be argued or discoursed by the rest,
except the matter be of secrecy; in which case the provosts, or
some of them, shall take such as desire audience into one of the
withdrawing-rooms. And the provosts are to give their minds that
this academy be so governed, adorned, and preserved, as may be
most attractive to men of parts and good affections to the
commonwealth, for the excellency of the conversation.

"Furthermore, if any man, not being able or willing to come
in person, has any advice to give which he judges may be for the
good of the commonwealth, he may write his mind to the Academy of
the provosts, in a letter signed or not signed, which letter
shall be left with the doorkeeper of the Academy. Nor shall any
person delivering such a letter be seized, molested, or detained,
though it should prove to be a libel. But the letters so
delivered shall be presented to the provosts; and in case they be
so many that they cannot well be perused by the provosts
themselves, they shall distribute them as they please to be read
by the gentlemen of the Academy, who, finding anything in them
material, will find matter of discourse; or if they happen upon a
business that requires privacy, return it with a note upon it to
a provost. And the provosts by the secretaries attending shall
cause such notes out of discourses or letters to be taken as they
please, to the end that they may propose, as occasion serves,
what any two of them shall think fit out of their notes so taken
to their respective councils; to the end that not only the ear of
the commonwealth be open to all, but that men of such education
being in her eve, she may upon emergent elections or occasions be
always provided of her choice of fit persons.

"Every council being adorned with a state for the signory,
shall be attended by two secretaries, two doorkeepers, and two
messengers-in-ordinary, and have power to command more upon
emergencies, as occasion requires. And the Academy shall be
attended with two secretaries, two messengers, and two
doorkeepers; this with the other councils being provided with
their further conveniences at the charge of the State.

"But whereas it is incident to commonwealths, upon
emergencies requiring extraordinary speed or secrecy, either
through their natural delays or unnatural haste, to incur equal
danger, while holding to the slow pace of their orders, they come
not in time to defend themselves from some sudden blow; or
breaking them for the greater speed, they but haste to their own
destruction; if the Senate shall at any time make election of
nine knights-extraordinary, to be added to the Council of War, as
a juncta for the term of three months, the Council of War with
the juncta so added, is for the term of the same Dictator of
Oceana, having power to levy men and money, to make war and
peace, as also to enact laws, which shall be good for the space
of one year (if they be not sooner repealed by the Senate and the
people) and for no longer time, except they be confirmed by the
Senate and the people. And the whole administration of the
commonwealth for the term of the said three months shall be in
the Dictator, provided that the Dictator shall have no power to
do anything that tends not to his proper end and institution, but
all to the preservation of the commonwealth as it is established,
and for the sudden restitution of the same to the natural channel
and common course of government. And all acts, orders, decrees,
or laws of the Council of War with the junota being thus created,
shall be signed,


This order of instructions to the councils being (as in a
matter of that nature is requisite) very large, I have used my
best skill to abbreviate it in such manner as might show no more
of it than is necessary to the understanding of the whole, though
as to the parts, or further duties of the councils, I have
omitted many things of singular use in a commonwealth. But it was
discoursed at the council by the Archon in this manner:


"Your councils, except the Dictator only, are proper and
native springs and sources, you see, which (hanging a few sticks
and straws, that, as less considerable, would otherwise be more
troublesome, upon the banks of their peculiar channels) derive
the full stream of business into the Senate, so pure, and so far
from the possibility of being troubled or stained (as will
Undeniably appear by the course contained in the ensuing order)
with any kind of private interest or partiality, that it shall
never be possible for any assembly hearkening to the advice or
information of this or that worthy member (either instructed upon
his pillow, or while he was making himself ready, or by the
petition or ticket which he received at the door) to have half
the security in his faith, or advantage by his wisdom; such a
Senate or council being, through the uncertainty of the winds,
like a wave of the sea. Nor shall it otherwise mend the matter by
flowing up into dry ditches, or referring businesses to be better
examined by committees, than to go further about with it to less
purpose; if it does not ebb back again with the more mud in it.
For in a case referred to an occasional committee, of which any
member that is desirous may get himself named, and to which
nobody will come but either for the sake of his friend or his own
interest; it fares little better as to the information of the
Senate, than if it had been referred to the parties. Wherefore
the Athenians being distributed into four tribes, out of which by
equal numbers they annually chose 400 men, called the Senate of
the Bean, because the ballot at their election was performed by
the use of beans, divided them by fifties into eight parts. And
every fifty in their turn, for one-eighth part of the year, was a
council apart called the Prytans.

"The Prytans in their distinct council receiving all comers,
and giving ear to every man that had anything to propose
concerning the commonwealth, had power to debate and prepare all
the businesses that were to be introduced into the Senate. The
Achaeans had ten selected magistrates called the demiurgs,
constituting a council apart called the synarchy, which, with the
strategus, prepared all the business that was introduced into
their Senate. But both the Senate of the Athenians, and that of
the Achaeans, would have wondered if a man had told them that
they were to receive all comers and discourses, to the end that
they might refer them afterward to the Prytans or the synarchy,
much less to an occasional committee, exposed to the catch that
catch may of the parties interested. And yet Venice in this, as
in most of her orders, excels them all by the constitution of her
councils, that of the College, and the other of the Dieci, or
Council of Ten. The course of the College is exactly described in
the ensuing order: and for that of the Dieci, it so little
differs from what it has bestowed upon Our Dictator, that I need
not make any particular description of it. But to dictatorian
power in general, and the use of it (because it must needs be of
difficult digestion to such as, puking still at ancient prudence,
show themselves to be in the nursery of mother-wit); it is no
less than necessary to say something. And, first, in a
commonwealth that is not wrought up, or perfected, this power
will be of very frequent, if not continual, use; wherefore it is
said more than once, upon defects of the government, in the book
of Judges, 'that in those days there was no king in Israel.' Nor
has the translator, though for 'no king, he should have said 'no
judge,' abused you so much; seeing that the Dictator (and such
was the Judge of Israel) or the dictatorian power being in a
single person, so little differs from monarchy, which followed in
that, that from the same cause there has been no other effect in
any commonwealth: as in Rome was manifest by Sylla and Caesar,
who to make themselves absolute or sovereign, had no more to do
than to prolong their magistracy, for the dictatorian power was
reputed divine, and therefore irresistible.

"Nevertheless, so it is, that without this power, which is so
dangerous, and subject to introduce monarchy, a commonwealth
cannot be safe from falling into the like dissolution; unless you
have an expedient in this case of your own, and bound up by your
providence from recoiling. Expedients in some cases you must not
only have, but be beholden for them to such whom you must trust
at a pinch, when you have not leisure to stand with them for
security; which will be a thousand times more dangerous. And
there can never be a commonwealth otherwise than by the order in
debate wrought up to that perfection; but this necessity must
sometimes happen in regard of her natural slowness and openness,
and the suddenness of assaults that may be made upon her, as also
the secrecy which in some cases may be of absolute necessity to
her affairs. Whence Machiavel concludes it positively, that a
commonwealth unprovided of such a refuge, must fall to ruin; for
her course is either broken by the blow in one of those cases, or
by herself, while it startles her out of her orders. And indeed a
commonwealth is like a greyhound, which, having once coasted,
will never after run fair, but grow slothful; and when it comes
to make a common practice of taking nearer ways than its orders,
it is dissolved: for the being of a commonwealth consists in its
orders. Wherefore at this list you will be exposed to danger, if
you have not provided beforehand for the safety of your resort in
the like cases: nor is it sufficient that your resort be safe,
unless it be as secret and quick; for if it be slow or open, your
former inconveniences are not remedied.

"Now for our imitation in this part, there is nothing in
experience like that of the Council of Ten in Venice; the benefit
whereof would be too long to be shown in the whole piece, and
therefore I shall take but a pattern out of Janotti. In the war,
says he, which the Venetians had with Florence in Casentin, the
Florentines, finding a necessity in their affairs far from any
other inclination in themselves to ask their peace, sent
ambassadors about it to Venice, where they were no sooner heard,
than the bargain was struck up by the Council of Ten: and
everybody admiring (seeing this commonwealth stood upon the
higher ground) what should be the reason of such haste, the
council upon the return of the ambassadors imparted letters to
the Senate, whereby it appeared that the Turks had newly launched
a formidable fleet against their State, which, had it been
understood by the Florentines, it was well enough known they
would have made no peace. Wherefore the service of the Ten was
highly applauded by the Senate, and celebrated by the Venetians.
Whereby may appear not only in part what use there is of
dictatorian power in that government, but that it is assumed at
the discretion of that Council; whereas in this of Oceana it is
not otherwise intrusted than when the Senate, in the election of
nine knights-extraordinary, gives at once the commission, and
takes security in a balance, added to the Council of War, though
securer before by the tribunes of the people than that of Venice,
which yet never incurred jealousy; for if the younger nobility
have been often girding at it, that happened not so much through
the apprehension of danger in it to the commonwealth, as through
the awe of it upon themselves. Wherefore the graver have
doubtlessly shown their prudence in the law whereby the
magistracy of these councillors being to last till' their
successors be created, the council is established."

The instructions of the councils for their matter being
shown, it remains that I show the instructions for the manner of
their proceeding, as they follow in --

The twentieth order, "Containing the method of debates to be
observed by the magistrates and the councils successively in
order to a decree of the Senate.

"The magistrates of the signory, as councillors of this
commonwealth, shall take into their consideration all matters of
state or of government; and, having right to propose in any
council, may, any one or more of them, propose what business he
or they please in that council to which it most properly belongs.
And, that the councils may be held to their duty, the said
magistrates are superintendents and inspectors of the same, with
right to propose to the Senate.

"The censors have equal power with these magistrates, but in
relation to the Council of Religion only.

"Any two of the three provosts in every council may propose
to, and are the more peculiar proposers of, the same council; to
the end that there be not only an inspection and superintendency
of business in general, but that every work be also committed to
a peculiar hand.

"Any one or more of the magistrates, or any two of the
provosts respectively having proposed, the council shall debate
the business so proposed, to which they of the third region that
are willing shall speak first in their order; they of the second,
next; and they of the first, last; and the opinions of those that
proposed or spoke, as they shall be thought the most considerable
by the council, shall be taken by the secretary of the same in
writing, and each of them signed with the name of the author.

"The opinions being thus prepared, any magistrate of the
signory, the censors, or any two of the provosts of that council,
upon this occasion may assemble the Senate.

"The Senate being assembled, the opinions (for example, if
they be four) shall be read in their order, that is, according to
the order or dignity of the magistrates or councillors by which
they were signed. And being read, if any of the council
introducing them will speak, they, as best acquainted with the
business, shall have precedence; and after them the senators
shall speak according to their regions, beginning by the third
first, and so continuing till every man that will has spoken; and
when the opinions have been sufficiently debated, they shall be
put all together to the ballot after this manner:

"Four secretaries, carrying each of them one of the opinions
in one hand, with a white box in the other, and each following
the other, according to the order of the opinions, shall present
his box, naming the author of his opinion to every senator; and
one secretary or ballotin with a green box shall follow the four
white ones; and one secretary or ballotin with a red box shall
follow the green one; and every senator shall put one ball into
some one of these six boxes. The suffrage being gathered and
opened before the signory, if the red box or non-sincere had
above half the suffrages, the opinions shall be all cast out, for
the major part of the house is not clear in the business. If no
one of the four opinions had above half the suffrages in the
affirmative, that which had fewest shall be cast out, and the
other three shall be balloted again. If no one of the three had
above half, that which had fewest shall be cast out, and the
other two shall ballot again. If neither of the two had above
half, that which had fewest shall be cast out, and the remaining
opinion shall be balloted again. And if the remaining opinion has
not above half, it shall also be cast out. But the first of the
opinions that arrives at most above half in the affirmative, is
the decree of the Senate. The opinions being all of them cast out
by the non-sincere, may be reviewed, if occasion permits, by the
council, and brought in again. If they be cast out by the
negative, the case being of advice only; the house approves not,
and there is an end of it: the case being necessary, and
admitting delay, the council is to think again upon the business,
and to bring in new opinions; but the case being necessary, and
not admitting delay, the Senate immediately electing the juncta
shall create the Dictator. 'And let the Dictator,' as the Roman
saying is, 'take care that the commonwealth receives no harm.'"

This in case the debate concludes not in a decree. But if a
decree be passed, it is either in matter of state or government
according to law enacted already, and then it is good without
going any further. or it is in matter of law to be enacted,
repealed, or amended; and then the decree of the Senate,
especially if it be for a war, or for a levy of men or money, is
invalid, without the result of the commonwealth, which is in the
prerogative tribe, or representative of the people.

"The Senate having prepared a decree to be proposed to the
people, shall appoint their proposers; and no other may propose
for the Senate to the people but the magistrates of the house;
that is to say, the three commissioners of the seal, or any two
of them; the three of the Treasury, or any two of them; or the
two censors.

"The Senate having appointed their proposers, shall require
of the tribunes a muster of the people at a set time and place:
and the tribunes or any two of them having mustered the people
accordingly, the proposers shall propose the sense or decree of
the Senate by clauses to the people. And that which is proposed
by the authority of the Senate, and resolved by the command of
the people, is the law of Oceana." To this order, implicitly
containing the sum very near of the whole civil part of the
commonwealth, my Lord Archon spoke thus in council:


"There is a saying, that a man must cut his coat according to
his cloth. When I consider what God has allowed or furnished to
our present work, I am amazed. You would have a popular
government; he has weighed it to you in the present balance, as I
may say, to a drachm; you have no more to do but to fix it. For
the superstructures of such a government they require a good
aristocracy: and you have, or have had a nobility or gentry the
best studied, and the best writers, at least next that of Italy,
in the whole world; nor have they been inferior, when so
exercised, in the leading of armies. But the people are the main
body of a commonwealth; show me from the treasuries of the snow
(as it is in Job) to the burning zone a people whose shoulder so
universally and so exactly fits the corselet. Nevertheless, it
were convenient to be well provided with auxiliaries. There is
Marpesia, through her fruitfulness, inexhaustible of men, and men
through her barrenness not only enured to hardship, but in your
arms. It may be said that Venice, excepting only that she takes
not in the people, is the most incomparable situation of a
commonwealth. You are Venice, taking in your people and your
auxiliaries too. My lords, the children of Israel were makers of
brick before they were builders of a commonwealth; but our brick
is made, our mortar tempered, the cedars of Lebanon are hewed and
squared to our hands. Has this been the work of man? Or is it in
man to withstand this work? 'Shall he that contends with the
Almighty instruct him? He that reproves God, let him answer it.'
For our parts, everything is so laid that when we come to have
use of it, it is the next at hand; and unless we can conceive
that God and nature do anything in vain, there is no more for us
to do but to despatch. The piece which we have reached to us in
the foregoing orders, is the aristocracy. Athens, as has been
shown, was plainly lost through the want of a good aristocracy.

"But the sufficiency of an aristocracy goes demonstrably upon
the hand of the nobility or gentry; for that the politics can be
mastered without study, or that the people can have leisure to
study, is a vain imagination; and what kind of aristocracy
divines and lawyers would make, let their incurable running upon
their own narrow bias and their perpetual invectives against
Machiavel (though in some places justly reprovable, yet the only
politician, and incomparable patron of the people) serve for
instruction. I will stand no more to the judgment of lawyers and
divines in this work, than to that of so many other tradesmen;
but if this model chances to wander abroad, I recommend it to the
Roman speculativi (the most complete gentlemen of this age) for
their censure; or with my Lord Epimonus his leave, send 300 or
400 copies to your agent at Venice to be presented to the
magistrates there; and when they have considered them, to be
proposed to the debate of the Senate, the most competent judges
under heaven, who, though they have great affairs, will not
refuse to return you the oracle of their ballot. The councillors
of princes I will not trust; they are but journeymen. The wisdom
of these later times in princes' affairs (says Verulamius) is
rather fine deliveries and shiftings of dangers when they be
near, than solid and grounded courses to keep them off. Their
councillors do not derive their proceedings from any sound root
of government that may contain the demonstration, and assure the
success of them, but are expedient-mongers, givers of themselves
to help a lame dog over a stile; else how comes it to pass that
the fame of Cardinal Richelieu has been like thunder, whereof we
hear the noise, but can make no demonstration of the reason? But
to return: if neither the people, nor divines and lawyers, can be
the aristocracy of a nation, there remains only the nobility; in
which style, to avoid further repetition, I shall understand the
gentry also, as the French do by the word noblesse.

"Now to treat of the nobility in such sort as may be less
obnoxious to mistake, it will be convenient, and answerable to
the present occasion, that I divide my discourse into four parts:

"The first treating of nobility, and the kinds of it;

"The second, of their capacity of the Senate;

"The third. of the divers kinds of senates;

"The fourth, of the Senate, according to the foregoing

"Nobility may be defined divers ways; for it is either
ancient riches, or ancient virtue, or a title conferred by a
prince or a commonwealth.

"Nobility of the first kind may be subdivided into two
others, such as hold an overbalance in dominion or property to
the whole people, or such as hold not an overbalance. in the
former case, a nobility (such was the Gothic, of which sufficient
has been spoken) is incompatible with popular government; for to
popular government it is essential that power should be in the
people, but the overbalance of a nobility in dominion draws the
power to themselves. Wherefore in this sense it is that Machiavel
is to be understood, where he says, that these are pernicious in
a commonwealth; and of France, Spain, and Italy, that they are
nations which for this cause are the corruption of the world: for
otherwise nobility may, according to his definition (which is,
'that they are such as live upon their own revenues in plenty,
without engagement either to the tilling of their lands, or other
work for their livelihood '), hold an underbalance to the people;
in which case they are not only safe, but necessary to the
natural mixture of a well-ordered commonwealth.

"For how else can you have a commonwealth that is not
altogether mechanic? or what comparison is there of such
commonwealths as are, or come nearest to mechanic -- for example,
Athens, Switzerland, Holland, to Lacedaemon, Rome, and Venice,
plumed with their aristocracies? Your mechanics, till they have
first feathered their nests, like the fowls of the air whose
whole employment is to seek their food, are so busied in their
private concernments that they have neither leisure to study the
public, nor are safely to be trusted with it, because a man is
not faithfully embarked in this kind of ship, if he has no share
in the freight. But if his share be such as gives him leisure by
his private advantage to reflect upon that of the public, what
other name is there for this sort of men, being a leur aise, but
(as Machiavel you see calls them) nobility? Especially when their
families come to be such as are noted for their services done to
the commonwealth, and so take into their ancient riches ancient
virtue, which is the second definition of nobility, but such a
one as is scarce possible in nature without the former. 'For as
the baggage,' says Verulamius, 'is to an army, so are riches to
virtue; they cannot be spared nor left behind, though they be
impediments, such as not only hinder the march, but sometimes
through the care of them lose or disturb the victory.' Of this
latter sort is the nobility of Oceana; the best of all others
because they, having no stamp whence to derive their price, can
have it no otherwise than by their intrinsic value. The third
definition of nobility, is a title, honor, or distinction from
the people, conferred or allowed by the prince or the
commonwealth. And this may be two ways, either without any stamp
or privilege, as in Oceana; or with such privileges as are
inconsiderable, as in Athens after the battle of Plataea, whence
the nobility had no right, as such, but to religious offices, or
inspection of the public games, to which they were also to be
elected by the people; or with privileges, and those considerable
ones, as the nobility in Athens before the battle of Plataea, and
the patricians in Rome each of which had right, or claimed it, to
the Senate and all the magistracies; wherein for some time they
only by their stamp were current.

"But to begin higher, and to speak more at large of nobility
in their several capacities of the Senate. The phylarchs, or
princes of the tribes of Israel, were the most renowned, or, as
the Latin, the most noble of the congregation, whereof by
hereditary right they had the leading and judging. The
patriarchs, or princes of families, according as they declared
their pedigrees, had the like right as to their families; but
neither in these nor the former was there any hereditary right to
the Sanhedrim: though there be little question but the wise men
and understanding, and known among their tribes, which the people
took or elected into those or other magistracies, and whom Moses
made rulers over them, must have been of these, seeing they could
not choose but be the most known among the tribes, and were
likeliest by the advantages of education to be the most wise and

"Solon having found the Athenians neither locally nor
genealogically, but by their different ways of life, divided into
four tribes -- that is, into the soldiery, the tradesmen, the
husbandmen, and the goatherds -- instituted a new distribution of
them, according to the sense or valuation of their estates, into
four classes: the first, second, and third consisting of such as
were proprietors in land, distinguished by the rate of their
freeholds, with that stamp upon them, which making them capable
of adding honor to their riches, that is to say, of the Senate,
and all the magistracies, excluded the fourth, being the body of

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