ON LOYALTY. FROM CATO'S LETTERS.
NO good prince will pretend that there is any loyalty due to him further, than he himself is loyal to the law, and observant of his people, the makers of kings and of laws. If any man mis∣led by sound and delusion, doubt this, let him con∣sider what is the design of magistracy, and what the duty of magistrates; and if he has reason in him, he will find that his duty is only due to those who perform theirs. That protection and allegiance are reciprocal; that every man has a right to de∣fend what no man has a right to take: That the di∣vine right of kings, if they had it, can only warrant them in doing actions that are divine, and cannot protect them in cruelty, depredation and oppres∣sion: That a divine right to act wickedly, is a con∣tradiction and blasphemy, as it is Maledictio Supremi Numinis, a reproach upon the Deity, as if he gave Page 87any man a commission to be a devil: That a king in comparison with the universe, is not so much as a mayor of a town in comparison of a kingdom; and that, were Mr. Mayor, called king, it would give him no new right; or, if a king were only called Mr. Mayor, it would not lesson nor abro∣gate his old jurisdiction: That they are both civil officers, and that an offence in the lesser is more pardonable than an offence in the greater. That the doctrines of unbroken hereditary right, and blind obedience, are the flights and forgeries of flatterers, who belie Heaven, and abuse men, to make their own court to power, and that not one of them will stand the trial himself; in fine, that government, honest and legal government, is im∣perium legum non hominum, the authority of law, and not of lust.
These are the principles upon which our go∣vernment stands, the principles upon which every free government must stand: and that we Britons, dare tell such truths, and publish such principles is a glorious proof of our civil and religious free∣dom: They are truths which every Briton ought to know, even children and servants; They are eternal truths, that will remain for ever, though in too many countries they are dangerous or useless or little known.
Before I have done, I would take notice of another mistake very common, concerning loyal∣ty: It is indeed a trick more than a mistake; I mean of those who would assert or rather create a sort of LOYALTY TO MINISTERS, and make every thing which they do not like, an offence against their master.