De Cive

by Thomas Hobbes

Chapter XIII.

Concerning the duties of them who bear Rule

I. By what hath hitherto been said, the duties of Citizens and in any kind of government whatsoever, and the Power of the supreme Ruler over them are apparent; but we have as yet said nothing of the duties of Rulers, and how they ought to behave themselves towards their Subjects; We must then distinguish between the Right, and the exercise of supreme authority, for they can be divided; as for example, when he who hath the Right, either cannot, or will not be present in judging trespasses, or deliberating of affaires: For Kings sometimes by reason of their age cannot order their affaires, sometimes also though they can doe it themselves, yet they judge it fitter, being satisfied in the choyce of their Officers and Counsellors, to exercise their power by them. Now where the Right and exercise are severed, there the government of the Commonweale, is like the ordinary government of the world, in which God, the mover of all things, produceth naturall effects by the means of secondary causes; but where he, to whom the Right of ruling doth belong, is himselfe present in all judicatures, consultations, and publique actions, there the administration is such, as if God beyond the ordinary course of nature, should immediately apply himself unto all matters. We will therefore in this Chapter summarily and briefly speak somewhat concerning their duties, who exercise authority, whether by their own or others Right. Nor is it my purpose to descend into those things, which being divers from others, some Princes may doe, for this is to be left to the Politicall Practices of each Common weale.

II. Now all the duties of Rulers are contained in this one sentence, The safety of the people is the supreme Law; for although they who among men obtain the chiefest Dominion, cannot be subject to Lawes properly so called, that is to say, to the will of men, because to be chief, and subject, are contradictories; yet is it their duty in all things, as much as possibly they can, to yeeld obedience unto right reason, which is the naturall, morall, and divine Law. But because dominions were constituted for Peaces sake, and Peace was sought after for safeties sake, he, who being placed in authority, shall use his power otherwise than to the safety of the people, will act against the reasons of Peace, that is to say, against the Lawes of nature; Now as the safety of the People dictates a Law by which Princes know their duty, so doth it also teach them an art how to procure themselves a benefit; for the power of the Citizens, is the power of the City, that is to say, his that bears the chief Rule in any state.

III. By the people in this place we understand, not one civill Person, namely the City it selfe which governs, but the multitude of subjects which are governed; for the City was not instituted for its own, but for the subjects sake; and yet a particular care is not required of this or that man; for the Ruler (as such) provides no otherwise for the safety of his people, than by his Lawes, which are universall; and therefore he hath fully discharged himselfe, if he have throughly endeavoured by wholesome constitutions, to establish the welfare of the most part, and made it as lasting as may be; and that no man suffer ill, but by his own default, Or by some chance which could not be prevented; but it sometimes conduces to the safety of the most part, that wicked men doe suffer.

IV. But by safety must be understood, not the sole preservation of life in what condition soever, but in order to its happines. For to this end did men freely assemble themselves, and institute a government, that they might, as much as their humane condition would afford, live delightfully. They therefore who had undertaken the administration of power in such a kinde of government, would sinne against the Law of nature (because against their trust who had committed that power unto them) if they should not study, as much as by good Laws could be effected, to furnish their subjects abundantly, not only with the good things belonging to life, but also with those which advance to delectation. They who have acquired Dominion by arms, doe all desire that their subjects may be strong in body and mind, that they may serve them the better; wherefore if they should not endeavour to provide them, not only with such things whereby they may live, but also with such whereby they may grow strong and lusty, they would act against their own scope and end.

V. And first of all, Princes doe beleeve that it mainly concerns eternall salvation, what opinions are held of the Deity, and what manner of worship he is to be adored with; which being supposed, it may be demanded, whether chief Rulers, and whosoever they be, whether one or more, who exercise supreme authority, sin not against the Law of nature, if they cause not such a doctrine, and worship, to be taught and practised (or permit a contrary to be taught and practised) as they beleeve necessarily conduceth to the eternall salvation of their subjects? It is manifest that they act against their conscience, and that they will, as much as in them lies, the eternall perdition of their subjects; for if they willed it not, I see no reason why they should suffer, (when being supreme they cannot be compelled) such things to be taught and done, for which they beleeve them to be in a damnable state. But we will leave this difficulty in suspence.

VI. The benefits of subjects respecting this life only, may be distributed into foure kindes. 1. That they be defended against forraign enemies. 2. That Peace be preserved at home. 3. That they be enrich't as much as may consist with publique security. 4. That they enjoy a harmelesse liberty; For supreme Commanders can conferre no more to their civill happinesse, than that being preserved from forraign and civill warres, they may quietly enjoy that wealth which they have purchased by their own industry.

VII. There are two things necessary for the Peoples defence; To be warned, and to be forearmed; for the state of Common-wealths considered in themselves, is natural, that is to say, hostile; neither if they cease from fighting, is it therefore to be called Peace, but rather a breathing time, in which one enemy observing the motion and countenance of the other, values his security not according to the Pacts, but the forces and counsels of his adversary; And this by naturall Right, as hath been shewed in the second Chapter, 10. Artic. from this, that contracts are invalid in the state of nature, as oft as any just fear doth intervene; It is therefore necessary to the defence of the City, First, that there be some who may as near as may be, search into, and discover the counsels and motions of all those who may prejudice it. For discoverers to Ministers of State, are like the beames of the Sunne to the humane soule, and we may more truly say in vision politicall, than naturall, that the sensible, and intelligible Species of outward things, not well considered by others, are by the ayre transported to the soule, (that is to say to them who have the Supreme Authority) and therefore are they no lesse necessary to the preservation of the State, than the rayes of the light are to the conservation of man; or if they be compared to Spiders webs, which extended on all sides by the finest threds, doe warn them, keeping in their small holds, of all outward motions; They who bear Rule can no more know what is necessary to be commanded for the defence of their Subjects without Spies, than those Spiders can when they shall goe forth, and whether they shall repair, without the motion of those threds.

VIII. Farthermore, its necessarily requisite to the peoples defence, that they be fore-armed. Now to be fore-armed is to be furnisht with Souldiers, Armes, Ships, Forts and Monies, before the danger be instant; for the listing of Souldiers, and taking up of Armes after a blow is given, is too late at least, if not impossible. In like manner, not to raise Forts, and appoint Garrisons in convenient places, before the Frontiers are invaded, is to be like those Country Swains (as Demosthenes said) who ignorant of the art of Fencing, with their Bucklers guarded those parts of the body where they first felt the smart of the strokes. But they who think it then seasonable enough to raise Monies for the maintenance of Souldiers, and other Charges of War, when the danger begins to shew it self, they consider not surely how difficult a matter it is to wring suddainly out of close-fisted men so vast a proportion of Monies; for almost all men, what they once reckon in the number of their goods, doe judge themselves to have such a right and propriety in it, as they conceive themselves to be injured whensoever they are forced to imploy but the least part of it for the publique good. Now a sufficient stock of monies to defend the Country with Armes, will not soon be raised out of the treasure of Imposts, and Customes; we must therefore, for fear of War, in time of Peace hoord up good summs, if we intend the safety of the Common-weal. Since therefore it necessarily belongs to Rulers for the Subjects safety to discover the Enemies Counsell, to keep Garrisons, and to have Money in continuall readinesse, and that Princes are by the Law of Nature bound to use their whole endeavour in procuring the welfare of their Subjects, it followes, that its not onely lawfull for them to send out Spies, to maintain Souldiers, to build Forts, and to require Monies for these purposes, but also, not to doe thus, is unlawfull. To which also may be added, whatsoever shall seeme to conduce to the lesning of the power of forraigners whom they suspect, whether by sleight, or force. For Rulers are bound according to their power to prevent the evills they suspect, lest peradventure they may happen through their negligence.

IX. But many things are required to the conservation of inward Peace, because many things concur (as hath been shewed in the foregoing Chapter) to its perturbation. We have there shewed, that some things there are which dispose the minds of men to sedition, others which move and quicken them so disposed. Among those which dispose them, we have reckoned in the first place certaine perverse doctrines. Its therefore the duty of those who have the chief Authority; to root those out of the mindes of men, not by commanding, but by teaching; not by the terrour of penalties, but by the perspicuity of reasons; the Lawes whereby this evill may be withstood are not to be made against the Persons erring, but against the Errours themselves. Those errours which in the foregoing Chapter we affirmed were inconsistent with the quiet of the Common-weal, have crept into the mindes of ignorant men, partly from the Pulpit, partly from the daily discourses of men, who by reason of little employment, otherwise, doe finde leasure enough to study; and they got into these mens mindes by the teachers of their youth in publique schooles. Wherefore also, on the other side, if any man would introduce sound Doctrine, he must begin from the Academies: There, the true, and truly demonstrated foundations of civill Doctrine are to be laid, wherewith young men being once endued, they may afterward both in private and publique instruct the vulgar. And this they will doe so much the more cheerfully, and powerfully, by how much themselves shall be more certainly convinced of the truth of those things they profess, and teach; for seeing at this day men receive propositions, though false, and no more intelligible, than if a man should joyne together a company of termes drawn by chance out of an urne, by reason of the frequent use of hearing them; how much more would they for the same reason entertain true doctrines suitable to their own understandings, and the nature of things? I therefore conceive it to be the duty of Supreme Officers to cause the true elements of civill Doctrine to be written, and to command them to be taught in all the Colledges of their severall Dominions.

X. In the next place we shewed that grief of mind arising from want did dispose the Subjects to Sedition, which want, although deriv'd from their own luxury, and sloth, yet they impute it to those who govern the Realm, as though they were drained and opprest by publique Pensions. Notwithstanding it may sometimes happen that this complaint may be just, namely, when the burthens of the Realm are unequally imposed on the Subjects; For that which to all together is but a light weight, if many withdraw themselves, it wil be very heavy, nay, even intollerable to the rest: Neither are men wont so much to grieve at the burthen it self, as at the inequality. With much earnestnes therefore men strive to be freed from taxes, & in this conflict the lesse happy, as being overcome, do envy the more fortunate. To remove therefore all just complaint, its the interest of the publique quiet, and by consequence it concernes the duty of the Magistrate, to see that the publique burthens be equally born. Furthermore, since what is brought by the subjects to publick use, is nothing else but the price of their bought Peace, its reason good, that they who equally share in the peace, should also pay an equall part either by contributing their Monies, or their labours to the Common-weal. Now it is the Law of Nature (by the 15. Article of the 3. Chapter) that every man in distributing right to others, doe carry himself equall to all; wherefore Rulers are by the naturall Law obliged to lay the burthens of the Common-weal equally on their Subjects.

XI. Now in this place we understand an equality, not of Money, but of Burthen, that is to say, an equality of reason between the Burthens, and the Benefits. For although all equally enjoy Peace, yet the benefits springing from thence, are not equall to all; for some get greater possessions, others lesse; and againe, some consume lesse, others more. It may therefore be demanded whether Subjects ought to contribute to the publique, according to the rate of what they gain, or of what they spend, that is to say, whether the persons must be taxt, so as to pay contribution according to their wealth, or the goods themselves, that every man contribute according to what he spends. But if we consider, where Monies are raised according to wealth, there they who have made equall gain, have not equall possessions, because that one preserves what he hath got by frugality, another wastes it by luxury, and therefore equally rejoycing in the benefit of Peace, they doe not equally sustaine the Burthens of the Common-weal: and on the other side, where the goods themselves are taxt, there every man, while he spends his private goods, in the very act of consuming them he undiscernably payes part due to the Common-weal, according to, not what he hath, but what by the benefit of the Realm he hath had. It is no more to be doubted, but that the former way of commanding monies is against equity, and therefore against the duty of Rulers, the latter is agreeable to reason, and the exercise of their authority.

XII. In the third place, we said that that trouble of minde which riseth from ambition was offensive to publique Peace. For there are some who seeming to themselves to be wiser than others, and more sufficient for the managing of affaires than they who at present doe govern, when they can no otherwise declare how profitable their vertue would prove to the Common-weale, they shew it, by harming it; but because ambition and greedinesse of honours cannot be rooted out of the mindes of men, its not the duty of Rulers to endeavour it; but by constant application of rewards, and punishments, they may so order it, that men may know that the way to honour is, not by contempt of the present government, nor by factions, and the popular ayre, but by the contraries. They are good men who observe the Decrees, the Lawes and Rights of their Fathers; if with a constant order we saw these adorned with honours, but the factious punisht, and had in contempt by those who bear command, there would be more ambition to obey, than withstand. Notwithstanding it so happens sometimes, that as we must stroke a horse by reason of his too much fiercenesse, so a stiffe-neckt subject must be flatter'd for fear of his power; but as that happens when the rider, so this, when the Commander is in danger of falling. But we speak here of those, whose authority and power is intire. Their duty (I say) it is to cherish obedient subjects, and to depresse the factious all they can; nor can the publique power be otherwise preserved, nor the subjects quiet without it.

XIII. But if it be the duty of Princes to restrain the factious, much more does it concern them to dissolve and dissipate the factions themselves. Now I call a faction, a multitude of subjects gathered together, either by mutuall contracts among themselves, or by the power of some one, without his or their authority who bear the supreme Rule: A faction therefore is as it were a City in a City; for as by an Union of men in the state of nature a City receives its being, so by a new union of subjects, there ariseth a faction. According to this definition, a multitude of subjects who have bound themselves simply to obey any forreign Prince, or Subject, or have made any Pacts, or Leagues of mutuall defence between themselves against all men, not excepting those who have the supreme power in the City, is a faction. Also favour with the vulgar if it be so great, that by it an Army may be rais'd, except publique caution be given, either by hostages, or some other pledges, contains faction in it; The same may be said of private wealth, if it exceed, because all things obey mony. Forasmuch therefore as it is true, that the state of Cities among themselves is naturall, and hostile, those Princes who permit factions, doe as much as if they received an enemy within their walls, which is Contrary to the subjects safety, and therefore also against the Law of nature.

XIV. There are two things necessary to the enriching of Subjects, Labour and thrift; there is also a third which helps, to wit the naturall increase of the earth and water; and there is a fourth too, namely the Militia, which sometimes augments, but more frequently lessens the subjects stock. The two first are only necessary. For a City constituted in an Island of the Sea, no greater than will serve for dwelling, may grow rich without sowing, or fishing, by merchandize, and handicrafts only; but there is no doubt if they have a territory, but they may be richer with the same number, or equally rich, being a greater number. But the fourth, namely the Militia, was of old reckoned in the number of the gaining Arts, under the notion of Booting or taking Prey; and it was by mankind, (disperst by families) before the constitution of civill societies, accounted just and honourable; for preying, is nothing else but a warre waged with small forces; And great Common-weales, namely that of Rome, and Athens, by the spoyles of warre, forraigne tribute, and the territories they have purchased by their armes, have sometimes so improved the Common-wealth, that they have not onely not required any publique monies from the poorer sort of subjects, but have also divided to each of them both monies and lands. But this kind of increase of riches, is not to be brought into rule and fashion: For the Militia in order to profit, is like a Dye wherewith many lose their estates, but few improve them. Since therefore there are three things only, the fruits of the earth and water, Labour and Thrift, which are expedient for the enriching of subjects, the duty of Commanders in chief, shall be conversant onely about those three. For the first, those lawes will be usefull which countenance the arts that improve the increase of the earth, and water, such as are husbandry, and fishing. For the second, all Lawes against idlenesse, and such as quicken industry, are profitable; the art of Navigation (by help whereof the commodities of the whole world, bought almost by labour only, are brought into one City) and the Mechanicks, (under which I comprehend all the arts of the most excellent workmen) and the Mathematicall sciences, the fountains of navigatory and mechanick employments, are held in due esteem and honour. For the third, those lawes are usefull, whereby all inordinate expence, as well in meats, as in clothes, and universally in all things which are consumed with usage, is forbidden. Now because such lawes are beneficiall to the ends above specified, it belongs also to the Office of supreme Magistrates, to establish them.

XV. The liberty of subjects consists not in being exempt from the Lawes of the City, or that they who have the supreme power cannot make what Laws they have a mind to; but because all the motions and actions of subjects, are never circumscribed by Lawes, nor can be, by reason of their variety, it is necessary that there be infinite cases, which are neither commanded, nor prohibited, but every man may either doe, or not doe them, as he lists himselfe. In these, each man is said to enjoy his liberty, and in this sense liberty is to be understood in this place, namely, for that part of naturall Right, which is granted and left to Subjects by the civill Lawes. As water inclosed on all hands with banks, stands still and corrupts; having no bounds, it spreds too largely, and the more passages it findes, the more freely it takes its current; so subjects, if they might doe nothing without the commands of the Law would grow dull, and unwildly, if all, they would be disperst, and the more is left undetermined by the Lawes, the more liberty they enjoy. Both extremes are faulty, for Lawes were not invented to take away, but to direct mens actions, even as nature ordained the banks, not to stay, but to guide the course of the streame. The measure of this liberty is to be taken from the subjects, and the Cities good. Wherefore in the first place it is against the charge of those who command, and have the authority of making lawes, that there should be more lawes than necessarily serve for good of the Magistrate, and his Subjects; for since men are wont commonly to debate what to do, or not to do, by naturall reason, rather than any knowledge of the Lawes, where there are more Lawes than can easily be remembred, and whereby such things are forbidden, as reason of it selfe prohibites not of necessity, they must through ignorance, without the least evill intention, fall within the compasse of Lawes, as gins laid to entrap their harmelesse liberty, which supreme Commanders are bound to preserve for their subjects by the Lawes of nature.

XVI. It is a great part of that liberty, which is harmlesse to civill government, and necessary for each subject to live happily, that there be no penalties dreaded, but what they may both foresee, and look for; and this is done, where there are either no punishments at all defined by the Lawes, or greater not required than are defined. Where there are none defined, there he that hath first broken the Law, expects an indefinite or arbitrary punishment, and his feare is supposed boundlesse, because it relates to an unbounded evill; now the Law of nature commands them who are not subject to any civill Lawes, (by what we have said in the third Chapter, Artic. 11.) and therefore supreme Commanders, that in taking revenge and punishing, they must not so much regard the past evill, as the future good, and they sin, if they entertain any other measure in arbitrary punishment than the publique benefit. But where the punishment is defined, either by a Law prescribed, as when it is set down in plain words, that he that shall doe thus, or thus, shall suffer so and so; or by practice, as when the penalty, (not by any Law prescribed, but arbitrary from the beginning) is afterward determined by the punishment of the first delinquent (for naturall equity commands that equall transgressors be equally punished); there to impose a greater penalty than is defined by the Law, is against the Law of nature. For the end of punishment is not to compell the will of man, but to fashion it, & make it such as he would have it who hath set the penalty. And deliberation is nothing else but a weighing, as it were in scales, the conveniencies, and inconveniencies of the fact we are attempting; where, that which is more weighty, doth necessarily according to its inclination prevaile with us. If therefore the Legislator doth set a lesse penalty on a crime, than will make our feare more considerable with us, than our lust; that excesse of lust above the feare of punishment, whereby sinne is committed, is to be attributed to the Legislator (that is to say) to the supreme; and therefore if he inflict a greater punishment, than himselfe hath determined in his Lawes, he punisheth that in another, in which he sinned himselfe.

XVII. It pertaines therefore to the harmlesse and necessary liberty of subjects, that every man may without feare, enjoy the rights which are allowed him by the Lawes; for it is in vain to have our own distinguisht by the Lawes from anothers, if by wrong judgement; robbery, theft, they may bee again confounded. But it falls out so, that these doe happen where Judges are corrupted; for the fear whereby men are deterred from doing evill, ariseth not from hence, namely, because penalties are set, but because they are executed; for we esteeme the future by what is past, seldome expecting what seldome happens. If therefore Judges corrupted either by Gifts, Favour, or even by pitty it self, do often forbear the execution of the Penalties due by the Law, and by that meanes put wicked men in hope to passe unpunisht: honest Subjects encompast with murtherers, theeves and knaves, will not have the liberty to converse freely with each other, nor scarce to stirre abroad without hazard; nay, the City it self is dissolved, and every mans right of protecting himself at his own will returnes to him. The Law of Nature therefore gives this precept to Supreme Commanders, that they not onely doe righteousnesse themselves, but that they also by penalties cause the Judges, by them appointed, to doe the same; that is to say, that they hearken to the complaints of their Subjects; and as oft as need requires, make choice of some extraordinary Judges, who may hear the matter debated concerning the ordinary ones.


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