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The Declaration of the Freeholders of Great Britain,
in answer to that of the Pretender. WE, by the mercy of God, freeholders of Great Britain, to the Popish Pretender, who styles himself King of Scotland and England, and defender of our faith, DEFIANCE. Having seen a libel, which you have lately published against the king and people of these realms, under the title of a DECLARATION, We, in justice to the sentiments of our own hearts, have thought fit to return you the following answer; wherein we shall endeavour to reduce to method the several particulars, which you have contrived to throw together with much malice, and no less confusion.
We believe you sincere in the first part of your declaration, where you own it would be a great satisfaction to you to be placed upon the throne by our endeavours: but you discourage us from making use of them, by declaring it to be your right both by the laws of God and man. As for the laws of God, we should think ourselves great transgressors of them, should we for your sake rebel against a prince, who, under God, is the most powerful defender of that religion which we think the most pleasing to him; and as for the laws of man, we conceive those to be of that kind, which have been enacted from time to time for near thirty years past, against you and your pretensions, by the legislature of this kingdom.
You afterwards proceed to invectives against the royal family: which we do assure you is a very unpopular topic, except to your few deluded friends
among the rabble.
You call them aliens to our country, not considering that King George has lived above a year longer in England than ever you did. You say they are distant in blood, whereas no body ever doubted that King George is great grandson to King James the First, though many believe that you are not son to King James the Second. Besides, all the world acknow
ledges he is the nearest to our crown of Protestant blood, of which you cannot have one drop in your veins, unless you derive it from such parents as you do not care for owning
Your next argument against the royal family, is, that they are strangers to our language; but they must be strangers to the British court who told you so. However, you must know, that we plain men should prefer a king who was a stranger to our language, before one who is a stranger to our laws and religion; for we could never endure French sentiments, though delivered in our native dialect; and should abhor an arbitrary prince, though he tyrannised over us in the finest English that ever was spoken. For these reasons, Sir, we cannot bear the thought of hearing a man, that has been bred up in the politics of Louis the Fourteenth, talk intelligibly from the British throne especially when we consider, however he may boast of his speaking English, he says his prayers in an unknown tongue.
We come now to the grievances, for which, in your opinion, we ought to take up arms against our present sovereign. The greatest you seem to insist upon, and which is most in the mouths of your party, is the union of the two kingdoms; for which his majesty ought most certainly to be deposed, because it was made under the reign of her, whom you call your dear sister of glorious memory.
Other grievances which you hint at under his majesty's administration, are, the murder of King Charles the First, who was beheaded before King George was born; and the sufferings of King Charles the Second, which perhaps his present majesty cannot wholly clear himself of, because he came into the world a day before his restoration.
As on the one side you arraign his present majesty by this most extraordinary retrospect, on the other hand you condemn his government by what we may call the spirit of second sight. You are not content to draw into his reign those mischiefs that were done Vol. IV.
a hundred years ago, unless you anticipate those that may happen a hundred years hence. So that the keenest of your arrows either fall short of him, or fly over his head. We take it for a certain sign that you are at a loss for present grievances, when you are thus forced to have recourse to your future prospects and future miseries. Now, Sir, you must know, that we freeholders have a natural aversion to hanging, and do not know how to answer it to our wives and families, if we should venture our necks upon the truth of your prophecies. In our ordinary way of judging, we guess at the king's future conduct by what we have seen already; and therefore beg you will excuse us if for the present we defer entering into a rebellion, to which you so graciously invite us. When we have as bad a prospect of our King George's reign, as we should have of yours, then will be your time to date another declaration from your court at Commerci: which, if we may be allowed to prophecy in our turn; cannot possibly happen before the hundred and fiftieth year of your reign.
Having considered the past and future grievances mentioned in your declaration, we come now to the present; all of which are founded upon this supposition, That whatever is done by his majesty or his ministers, to keep you out of the British throne, is a grievance. These, Sir, may be grievances to you, but they are none to us. On the contrary, we look upon them as the greatest instances of his majesty's care and tenderness for his people. To take them in order: the first relates to the ministry; who are chosen, as you observe very rightly, out of the worst, and not the best of your subjects. Now, Sir, can you in conscience think us to be such fools as to rebel' against the king, for having employed those who are his most eminent friends, and were the greatest sufferers in his cause before he came to the crown; and for having removed a general who is now actually in arms against him, and two secretaries of state, both of whom have listed themselves in your service; or because he chose to substitute in their places such men who had distinguished themselves by their zeal against you, in the most famous battles, negotiations, and debates.
The second grievance you mention, is, that the glory of the late queen has suffered, who, you insinuate, had secured to you the enjoyment of that inheritance, out of which you had been so long kept. This may indeed be a reason why her memory should be precious with you: but you may be sure we shall think never the better of her, for her having your good word. For the same reason it makes us stare, when we hear it objected to his present majesty, that he is not kind to her faithful servants; since, if we can believe what you yourself say, it is impossible they should be his faithful servants. And by the way, many of your private friends here wish you would forbear babbling at that rate: for, to tell you a secret, we are very apt to suspect that any Englishman, who deserves your praise, deserves to be hanged.
The next grievance, which you have a mighty mind to redress among us, is the parliament of Great Britain, against whom you bring a stale accusation, which has been used by every minority in the memory of man; namely, that it was procured by unwarrantable influences and corruptions. We cannot indeed blame you for being angry at those who have set such a round price upon your head. Your accusation of our high court of parliament puts us in mind of a story, often told among us freeholders, concerning a rattlebrained young fellow, who, being indicted for two or three pranks upon the highway, told the judge he would swear the peace against him, for putting him in fear of his life.
The next grievance is such a one, that we are amazed how it could come into your head. Your words are as follow: Whilst the principal powers, engaged in the late wars, do enjoy the blessings of peace, and are attentive to discharge their debts, and ease their people, Great Britain, in the midst of peace, feels all the load of war. New debts are contracted, new armies are raised at home, Dutch forces are brought into these kingdoms. What, in the name of wonder, do you mean? Are you in earnest, or do you design to banter us? Whom is the nation obliged to for all this load of war that it feels ? Had
you been wise enough to have slept at Bar-le-duc in a whole skin, we should not have contracted new debts, raised new ar-. mies, or brought over Dutch forces. to make an exam-,
ple of you.
The most pleasant grievance is still behind, and indeed a most proper one to close up this article. “King Ģeorge has taken possession of the duchy of Bremen, whereby a door is opened to let in an inundation of foreigners from abroad, and to reduce these nations to the state of a province to one of the most inconsiderable provinces of the empire.' And do you then really believe the mob story, that King George designs to make a bridge of boats from Hanover to Wapping? We would have you know that some of us read Baker's Chronicle, and do not find that William the Conqueror ever thought of making England a province to his native duchy of Normandy, notwithstanding it lay so much more convenient for that purpose: nor that King James the First had ever any thoughts of reducing this nation to the state of a province to his ancient kingdom of Scotland, though it lies upon the same continent. But, pray, how comes it to pass that the electorate of Hanover is become all of a sudden one of the most inconsiderable provinces of the empire? If you undervalue it upon the account of its religion, you have some reason for what you say; though you should not think we are such strangers to maps, and live so much out of the world, as to be ignorant that it is, for power and extent, the second Protestant state in Germany; and whether you know it or no, the Protestant religion in the empire is looked upon as a sufficient balance against popery. Besides,