The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 2/A Discourse of the Contests and Dissensions between the Nobles and the Commons in Athens and Rome

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A DISCOURSE

OF THE

CONTESTS AND DISSENSIONS

BETWEEN THE

NOBLES and the COMMONS

IN

ATHENS AND ROME;

WITH THE CONSEQUENCES THEY HAD UPON BOTH THOSE STATES.


——— Si tibi vera videtur,
Dede manus, & si falsa est, accingere contra.Lucr.


First printed for J. Nutt in the Year 1701.


THE following discourse is a kind of remonstrance in behalf of king William and his friends, against the proceedings of the House of Commons; and was published during the recess of parliament in the summer of 1701, with a view to engage them in milder measures, when they should meet again.

At this time Lewis XIV, was making large strides toward universal monarchy, plots were carrying on at St. Germains; the Dutch had acknowledged the duke of Anjou as king of Spain; and king William was made extremely uneasy by the violence with which many of his ministers and chief favourites were pursued by the Commons. The king, to appease their resentment, had made several changes in his ministry, and removed some of his most faithful servants from places of the highest trust and dignity: this expedient, however, had proved ineffectual, and the Commons persisted in their opposition. They began by impeaching William Bentinck, earl of Portland, groom of the stole; and proceeded to the impeachment of John Somers, baron Somers of Evesham, first lord-keeper, afterwards lord chancellor; Edward Russel, earl of Orford, lord treasurer of the navy, and one of the lords commissioners of the Admiralty; and Charles Mountague, earl of Halifax, one of the commissioners of the Treasury, and afterward chancellor of the Exchequer. Its general purport is to damp the warmth of the Commons, by showing that the measures they pursued had a direct tendency to bring on the tyranny, which they professed to oppose; and the particular cases of the impeached lords are paralleled in Athenian characters. Hawkesworth.

The whole treatise is full of historical knowledge, and excellent reflections. It is not mixed with any improper sallies of wit, or any light aim at humour; and, in point of style and learning, is equal, if not superiour, to any of Swift's political Works. Orrery.



  • Chap. I.
  • II. Of the Dissensions in Athens, between the Few and the Many
  • III. Of the Dissension between the Patricians and Plebeians in Rome, with the Consequences they had upon that State
  • IV. On the Subject of Impeachments
  • V. Remarks on the present Posture of Affairs and Dispositions in this Kingdom