new this month
the Apotheosis of John Howard
from the Apocrypha of Tacitus
...and, it was at about this time that, following upon the demise of
Sir Phillip Lynch, one John Howard succeeded to the Treasury. As yet
little known to the populace, he united in his person both the
detriments of a mean origin, and an ill countenance only exceeded by
the malignity of his disposition.
Needy, obscure, and restless, he spurned the faction of his forbears
and, in hubris, clutched at the party of oligarchy, deriving great
benefit from early servility until his pride swelled beyond measure.
Upon loss of power and, with growing ambition seemingly watered by the
tears of his departing leader, Howard contended with one Andrew Peacock
for leadership of the forces of opposition, despite the contempt of the
populace for his rapacious conduct and notorious failures of policy.
Formed by nature and trained by habit to hide his hatred
under delusive flattery, Howard apparently returned
to early servility, following his failure to secure
leadership but, his overweening pride nourished in secret
a personal following even more corrupt in habit than
himself. Playing upon the very essence of oligarchy,
which sees long-continued license for wrong as if it
were right and justice, he suborned the arrogant youth
of his faction into abandoning the obligations of natural
wealth for blind rapacity, and a heedlessness for the
good of the state which at times even exceeded his own.
As one who screened himself while attacking others, he then swayed his
faction to undermine the leadership, whilst cloaking his lust for
supremacy in the affectation of humility. Cringing and imperious,
Howard was widely distrusted amongst the virtuous in opposition, whose
every rebuff he stored away. For he would twist a word or a look into a
crime, and treasure it up in his memory.
Preparing himself for fresh iniquities as the term of
government drew to a close, Howard divided the opposition,
turning its strengths to feud and bitterness, sacrificing
all chance of success in his inordinate quest for personal
power. And, as in all campaigns, it was the force under
divided leadership which was driven ignominiously from
the field. Without pause, he then turned upon the leader
his cunning and hypocricy had betrayed, and vilely built
his own success upon the other’s failure. The
leadership of opposition was his.
Meanwhile, it is necessary to first detail the conduct of government in
this period. Whilst proclaiming their loyalty to the commons, the party
of labour heeded the hypocritical importunities of usury and market
power, fatally weakening the restraints upon such evils, then basking
in their chorus of loathsome flattery. Even good faith could not be
upheld in its integrity, and men looked only to the greatness of their
gains. It is in times such as these that men such as Howard, deaf to
all claims of virtue, and heeding merely propriety and self-interest,
gain the repute of an honesty they know not, for veiling their lusts
and working in secret, like the worms that gnaw at the roots of trees.
Emboldened by the acts of those claiming to represent
labour, Howard then gave licence to those of his faction
who had cast aside all care for justice and, under the
banner of free debate, undermined all disinterested
claims of the liberal tradition. Resentful by nature
and hating all good, yet not fearing discovery amidst
the politics of greed, he plotted anew the destruction
of those illustrious men who had scorned him, casting
their virtue in the language of insult and despite.
With honour at such a low ebb in the actions of political men, all were
united in praise for the idols of new wealth, who strove to surpass
each other in vulgarity of display and constant business, building
empires of paper upon the corpses of genuine endeavour. But, formed for
malice rather than mateship, Howard remained shunned by these new gods,
and he failed to reap full benefit in an age when mere show counted
above the rewards of further greed. For, although deriving nothing from
their slavish associations but what was low and degrading, the party of
labour yet retained the name of power, although all true rule had
passed to those who had grasped at wealth.
In defeat, many empowered by Howard’s schemes turned upon him, in
emulation of his own treachery, to raise his old rival anew. But, the
power they extended was a mockery, designed merely to mask the
unchanging viciousness of their plans, and they continued to drive the
virtuous out, seeking only those most debased by greed and hatred to
join their counsels. Now consumed by his lust for supremacy. Howard
joined with this purge, striving to rebuild anew his dominance. Torn by
expulsions, and eaten from within by secret rivalry, the party of
opposition endured its fourth defeat with little grace, striking down
for a second time the Peacock. But, dwelling upon failure with more
resentment than fortitude, they had no stomach for the past, and no
time for John Howard.
Casting aside he who had led all in iniquity, they searched out one
John Hewson, who had profited much from greed, and confounded vilest
slavery with freedom, yet expounded this paradoxical creed with the
composure of true belief. So, whilst the party of labour shamelessly
indulged in the vices of long rule, with egotism and excess weaning
hubris on its own flesh in the struggle for domination, opposition
nurtured a plan born of previous policy, but which in scope beggared
all the previous infamies of this degenerate age.
There occurred too a thick series of portents, which
signified nothing. In the north, a woman gave birth
to a snake which, speaking, arose from the dead. And
the sun was suddenly darkened over a city then suffering
from its laws, as it had hitherto suffered from its
vices. The opposition took heart from these signs, though
none could clearly interpret their true import, and
each strove to surpass all others in expounding the
rigour and purity of their creed.
In this struggle, Howard distinguished himself, though the severity of
the measures he proposed, it was suspected, were more to glut one man’s
cruelty than destroy an iniquitous growth. These suspicions greatly
contributed to the fifth loss which the public, wearied of labour’s
rule, yet inflicted upon the party of opposition.
A period of turmoil then ensued within the faction,
as leadership faltered, and a strange woman roamed the
land, turning to her glory every incident, however trivial.
Unmasked, she fell swiftly, yet not so swift as to fail
to carry the enfeebled leader with her. Howard, meantimes,
was almost ready, his schemes nurtured in secrecy whilst
hypocritically proclaiming his innocence. But, unsated
with newness, Alexander Downer and Peter Costello were
chosen, seemingly that these two might have double the
chance for failure.
Perpetually under the lash of popular talk, the new died virtually
stillborn, yet were sustained by Howard’s treachery, which would not
allow such a fall until his plans were fully ripe. Seemingly called
reluctantly, he hid his febrile lust for domination under a mask grown
more seamless as his infamy aged, so that the conspirator was now
hailed as peacemaker, whilst few outside his inner circle suspected the
Remarkably, to all but those who were aware of the depth of his
perfidy, the party of opposition now were united under Howard, other
contenders both divided and inexpert at secret planning. Applying the
same methods as had served him well within the party, he then sought to
bring all events under unfavourable regard, prepared to sacrifice any
good to satisfy the lust of domination, which inflamed his heart beyond
all other passions.
Seeming to have left his cruelty behind him, Howard then played the
slave to make himself the master. Nothing was to be done under his rule
that had not already received sanction, and new devices in wickedness
were veiled under ancient names, that none should forsee their advent.
Relieved of all fears of change, the populace then took their
long-delayed revenge upon the government of labour, looking more to
punishment than reward in their choice of Howard’s rule.
But...all composure was short-lived, as there was more grand sentiment
than faith in Howard’s claims to conserve. Inimical to all measures he
did not originate, he persisted in private animosities to the public
ruin, yet cloaking all under the figures of a sybil whose advice,
though heeded by all, had yet to bring other than hardship and despair,
save to those sunken in venality.
His foul and infamous character forgotten by most, Howard found the
usual substitute in awaiting the folly of others, charging his
subordinates with the prosecution of his malice, and basking in a
chorus of vile flatteries as his slavish following burned, despoiled,
and plundered, as amongst enemies, whilst his duplicity, honed in
opposition, rose to new heights in government, where his hatreds were
well-concealed by pleas of necessity.
Whilst it is not so easy to determine what is best to be done, under
Howard it was sure that what was done would be the very worst which
could be shielded under benign prospect. For, what others call crimes
he calls reforms and, by similar misnomers, he speaks of strictness
instead of barbarity, and of economy instead of avarice, whilst the
cruelties and affronts he inflicts upon you he calls discipline. To
such a man, ill-omened, and delighting in the debasement of others, we
have repeatedly entrusted the rule of our commonwealth. Disgrace we
have exhausted in such a selection: only virtue remains unplumbed in
the policy of today. That such a one should gain luster from the
perfidy of others speaks to a failure of memory, and a depth of
treachery, that are only now beginning to be revealed...
John Henry Calvinist