In the common way of thinking, it is a situation sufficient in all conscience to satisfy a reasonable ambition, for a private person to command the forces, the laws, the revenues of a great kingdom, to reward and advance his followers and flatterers as he pleases, and to keep his enemies (real or imaginary) in the dust. In such an exaltation, why should he be at the trouble to make use of fools to sound his praises, (because I always thought the lion was hard set, when he chose the ass for his trumpeter) or knaves to revenge his quarrels, at the expense of innocent men’s reputations?
With all those advantages, I cannot see why persons, in the height of power, should be under the least concern on account of their reputation, for which they have no manner of use; or to ruin that of others, which may perhaps be the only possession their enemies have left them. Supposing times of corruption, which I am very far from doing, if a writer displays them in their proper colours, does he do anything worse than sending customers to the shop? “Here only, at the sign of the Brazen Head, are to be sold places and pensions: beware of counterfeits, and take care of mistaking the door.”
For my own part, I think it very unnecessary to give the character of a great minister in the fulness of his power, because it is a thing that naturally does itself, and is obvious to the eyes of all mankind; for his personal qualities are all derived into the most minute parts of his administration. If this be just, prudent, regular, impartial, intent upon the public good, prepared for present exigencies, and provident of the future; such is the director himself in his private capacity: If it be rapacious, insolent, partial, palliating long and deep diseases of the public with empirical remedies, false, disguised, impudent, malicious, revengeful; you shall infallibly find the private life of the conductor to answer in every point; nay, what is more, every twinge of the gout or gravel will be felt in their consequences by the community. As the thief-catcher, upon viewing a house broke open, could immediately distinguish, from the manner of the workmanship, by what hand it was done.
It is hard to form a maxim against which an exception is not ready to start up: So, in the present case, where the minister grows enormously rich, the public is proportionably poor; as, in a private family, the steward always thrives the fastest when his lord is running out.
* * * * * * * * * *
AN ACCOUNT OF THE COURT AND EMPIRE OF JAPAN.
Regoge was the thirty-fourth emperor of Japan, and began his reign in the year 341 of the Christian era, succeeding to Nena, a princess who governed with great felicity.