37."I have often on other occasions thought a democracy incapable of dominion over others, but most of all now for this your repentance concerning the Mytilenaeans.
For through your own mutual security and openness, you imagine the same also in your confederates and consider not that when at their persuasion you commit an error or relent upon compassion, you are softened thus to the danger of the commonwealth not to the winning of the affections of your confederates;nor do you consider that your government is a tyranny and those that be subject to it are against their wills so and are plotting continually against you, and obey you not for any good turn, which to your own detriment you shall do them, but only for that you exceed them in strength, and for no good will.
But the worst mischief of all is this, that nothing we decree shall stand firm and that we will not know that a city with the worse laws, if immoveable, is better than one with good laws when they be not binding, and that a plain wit accompanied with modesty is more profitable to the state than dexterity with arrogance, and that the more ignorant sort of men do, for the most part, better regulate a commonwealth than they that are wiser.
For these love to appear wiser than the laws and in all public debatings to carry the victory as the worthiest things wherein to show their wisdom, from whence most commonly proceeds the ruin of the states they live in.Whereas the other sort, mistrusting their own wits, are content to be esteemed not so wise as the laws and not able to carp at what is well spoken by another, and so, making themselves equal judges rather than contenders for mastery, govern a state for the most part well.
We therefore should do the like and not be carried away with combats of eloquence and wit to give such counsel to your multitude as in our own judgments we think not good.
The English works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. Thucydides. Thomas Hobbes. translator. London. Bohn. 1843.
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