— Algernon Sidney
Context: If these rules have not been well observed in the first constitution, or from the changes of times, corruption of manners, insensible encroachments, or violent usurpations of princes, have been rendered ineffectual, and the people exposed to all the calamities that may be brought upon them by the weakness, vices, and malice of the prince, or those who govern him, I confess the remedies are more difficult and dangerous; but even in those cases they must be tried. Nothing can be feared that is worse than what is suffered, or must in a short time fall upon those who are in this condition. They who are already fallen into all that is odious, shameful, and miserable, cannot justly fear. When things are brought to such a pass, the boldest counsels are the most safe; and if they must perish who lie still, and they can but perish who are most active, the choice is easily made. Let the danger be never so great, there is a possibility of safety, whilst men have life, hands, arms, and courage to use them; but that people must certainly perish, who tamely suffer themselves to be oppressed, either by the injustice, cruelty, and malice of an ill magistrate, or by those who prevail upon the vices and infirmities of weak princes. It is in vain to say, that this may give occasion to men of raising tumults, or civil war; for tho' these are evils, yet they are not the greatest of evils. Civil war, in Macchiavel's account, is a disease; but tyranny is the death of a state. Gentle ways are first to be used, and it is best if the work can be done by them; but it must not be left undone, if they fail. It is good to use supplications, advices, and remonstrances; but those who have no regard to justice, and will not hearken to counsel, must be constrained. It is folly to deal otherwise with a man who will not be guided by reason, and a magistrate who despises the law; or rather, to think him a man, who rejects the essential principle of a man; or to account him a magistrate, who overthrows the law by which he is a magistrate. This is the last result; but those nations must come to it, which cannot otherwise be preserved.
Ch. 3, Sect. 3.