Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
Folly of Hereditary Kingship
By Algernon Sidney (16231683)
From Discourses on Government
THOUGH it may be fit to use some ceremonies, before a man be admitted to practise physic, or set up a trade, it is his own skill that makes him a doctor, or an artificer, and others do but declare it. An ass will not leave his stupidity, though he be covered with scarlet; and he, that is by nature a slave, will be so still, though a crown be put upon his head. And it is hard to imagine a more violent inversion of the laws of God and nature, than to raise him to the throne, whom nature intended for the chain; or to make them slaves to slaves, whom God hath endowed with the virtues required in kings. Nothing can be more preposterous, than to impute to God the frantic domination, which is often exercised by wicked, foolish, and vile persons, over the wise, valiant, just, and good; or to subject the best to the rage of the worst. If there be any family therefore in the world, which can by the law of God and nature, distinct from the ordinance of man, pretend to an hereditary right of dominion over any people, it must be one that never did, and never can produce any person, who is not free from all the infirmities and vices, which render him unable to exercise the sovereign power; and is endowed with all the virtues required to that end; or at least a promise from God verified by experience, that the next in blood shall ever be able and fit for that work. But since we do not know, that any such has yet appeared in the world, we have no reason to believe that there is, or ever was any such; and consequently none, upon whom God has conferred the rights that cannot be exercised without them.