« ForrigeFortsæt »
when it was the duty of every Briton to contribute his utmost assistance to the government, in a manner suitable to his station and abilities. All services, which had a tendency to this end, had a degree of merit in them in proportion as the event of that cause which they espoused was then doubtful. But at present they might be regarded, not as duties of private men to their endangered country, but as insults of the successful over their defeated enemies.
Our nation, indeed, continues to be agitated with confusions and tumults; but, God be thanked, these are only the impotent remains of an unnatural rebellion, and are no more than the after-tossings of a sea when the storm is laid. The enemies of his present majesty, instead of seeing him driven from his throne, as they vainly hope, find him in a condition to visit his dominions in Germany, without any danger to himself or to the public; whilst his dutiful subjects would be in no ordinary concern upon this occasion, had they not the consolation to find themselves left under the protection of a prince, who makes it his ambition to copy out his royal father's example; and who, by his duty to his majesty, and affection to his people, is so well qualified to be the guardian of the realm.
It would not be difficult to continue a paper of this kind, if one were disposed to resume the same subjects, and weary out the reader with the same thoughts in a different phrase, or to ramble through the cause of Whig and Tory without any certain aim or method, in every particular discourse, Such a practice, in political writers, is like that of some preachers, taken notice of by Dr. South, who, being prepared only upon two or three points of doctrine, run the same round with their audience, from one end of the year to the other, and are always forced to tell them, by way
of preface, ‘These are particulars of so great importance, that they cannot be sufficiently inculcated.' To avoid this method of tautology, I have endeavoured to make every paper a distinct essay upon some particular subject, without deviating into points foreign to the tenor of each discourse. They are, indeed, most of them essays upon government, but with a view to the present situation of affairs in Great Britain; so that if they have the good fortune to live longer than works of this nature generally do, future readers may see in them, the complexion of the times in which they were written. However, as there is no employment so irksome, as that of transcribing out of one's self, next to that of transcribing out of others, I shall let drop the work, since there do not occur to me any material points arising from our present situation, which I have not already touched upon.
As to the reasonings in these several papers, I must leave them to the judgment of others. I have taken particular care that they should be conformable to our constitution, and free from that mixture of violence and passion, which so often creeps into the works of political writers.
A good cause doth not want any bitterness to support it, as a bad one cannot subsist without it. It is, indeed, observable, that an author is scurrilous in proportion as he is dull; and seems rather to be in a passion, because he cannot find out what to say for his own opinion, than because he has discovered any pernicious absurdities in that of his antagonists. A man, satirised by writers of this class, is like one burnt in the hand with a cold iron: there may be ignominious terms and words of infamy in the stamp, but they leave no impression behind them.
It would, indeed, have been an unpardonable insolence for a fellow subject to treat in a vindictive and cruel style, those persons whom his majesty has endeavoured to reduce to obedience by gentle methods, which he has declared from the throne to be most agreeable to his inclinations. May we not hope that all of this kind, who have the least sentiments of honour or gratitude, will be won over to their duty by so many instances of royal clemency, in the midst of so
many repeated provocations ! May we not expect that Cicero's words to Cæsar, in which he speaks of those who were Cæsar's enemies, and of his conduct towards them, may be applied to his majesty: 'Omnes enim qui fuerunt, aut sua pertinaciâ vitam amiserunt, aut tủa misericordia retinuerunt; ut aut nulli supersint de inimicis, aut qui superfuerunt, amicissimi sint. -Quare gaude tuo isto tam excellenti bono, et fruere cum fortunâ et gloria, tum etiam natura, et moribus tuis. Ex quo quidem maximus est fructus, jucunditasque sapienti- Nihil habet nec fortuna tua majus, quàm ut possis, nec natura tua melius, quàm ut velis, quamplurimos conservare.'
As for those papers of a gayer turn, which may be met with in this collection, my reader will of himself, consider how requisite they are to gain and keep up an audience to matters of this nature; and will, per-. haps, be the more indulgent to them, if he observes, that they are none of them without a moral, nor contain any thing but what is consistent with decency and good manners.
It is obvious that the design of the whole work has been to free the people's minds from those prejudices conveyed into them, by the enemies to the present establishment, against the king and royal family, by opening and explaining their real characters; to set forth his majesty's proceedings, which have been very grossly misrepresented, in a fair and impartial light; to show the reasonableness and necessity of our opposing the Pretender to his dominions, if we have any regard to our religion and liberties; and, in a word, to incline the minds of the people to the desire and enjoyment of their own happiness. There is no question, humanly speaking, but these great ends will be brought about insensibly, as men will grow weary of a fruitless opposition; and be convinced, by experience, of a necessity to acquiesce under a government which daily gathers strength, and is able to disappoint the utiņost efforts of its enemies. In the mean while, I
would recommend to our malecontents, the advice given by a great moralist to his friend upon another occasion; that he would show it was in the power of wisdom to compose his passions; and let that be the work of reason which would certainly be the effect of time.
I shall only add, that if any writer shall do this paper so much honour, as to inscribe the title of it to others, which may be published upon the laying down of this work; the whole praise or dispraise of such a performance, will belong to some other author; this fifty-fifth being the last paper that will come from the hand of the Freeholder.