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The freedom and happiness of our British ladies is so singular, that it is a common saying in foreign countries, “ If a bridge were built across the seas, all the women in Europe would flock into England.” It has been observed, that the laws relating to them are so favourable, that one would think they themselves had given votes in enacting them. All the honours and indulgences of society are due to them by our customs; and, by our constitution, they have all the privileges of English-born subjects, without the bur. dens. I need not acquaint my fair fellow-freeholders, that every man who is anxious for our sacred and civil rights, is a champion in their cause; since we enjoy in common a religion agreeable to that reasonable nature, of which we equally partake; and since, in point of property, our law makes no distinction of sexes.
We may, therefore, justly expect from them, that they will act in concert with us for the preservation of our laws and religion, which cannot subsist, but under the government of his present Majesty; and would necessarily be subverted, under that of a person bred up in the most violent principles of Popery and arbitrary power. Thus may the fair sex contribute to fix the peace of a brave and generous people, who, for many ages, have disdained to bear any tyranny but theirs ; and be as famous in history, as those illustrious matrons, who, in the infancy of Rome, reconciled the Romans and the Sabines, and united the two contending parties under their new king.
No. 5. FRIDAY, JANUARY 6.
Omnium Societatum nulla est gravior, nulla carior, quam ea quæ cum
republica est unicuique nostrum : cari sunt parentes, cari liberi, propinqui, familiares : sed omnes omnium caritates patria una complexa est: pro qua quis bonus dubitet mortem oppetere, si ei sit profuturus ?
Cic. THERE is no greater sign of a general decay of virtue in a nation, than a want of zeal in its inhabitants for the good of their country. This generous and public-spirited passion has been observed of late years to languish and grow cold in this our island; where a party of men have made it their business to represent it as chimerical and romantic, to destroy in the minds of the people the sense of national glory, and to turn into ridicule our natural and ancient allies, who are united to us by the common interests both of religion and policy. It may not, therefore, be unseasonable to recommend to this present generation, the practice of that virtue, for which their ancestors were particularly famous, and which is called, "The love of one's country.” This love to our country, as a moral virtue, is a fixed disposition of mind to promote the safety, welfare, and reputation of the community in which we were born, and of the constitution under which we are protected. Our obligation to this great duty may appear to us from several considerations.
In the first place, we may observe, that we are directed to it by one of those secret suggestions of nature, which go under the name of Instinct, and which are never given in vain. As self-love is an instinct planted in us, for the good and safety of each particular person, the love of our country is impressed on our minds for the happiness and preservation of the community. This instinct is so remarkable, that we find examples of it in those who are born in the most uncomfortable climates, or the worst of governments. We read of an inhabitant of Nova Zembla, who, after having lived some time in Denmark, where he was clothed and treated with the utmost indulgence, took the first opportunity of making his escape, though with the hazard of his life, into his native regions of cold, poverty, and nakedness. We have an instance of the same nature among
Hottentots. One of these savages was brought into England, taught our language, and, in a great measure, polished out of his natural barbarity: but, upon being carried back to the Cape of Good Hope, (where it was thought he might have been of advantage to our English traders, he mixed, in a kind of transport, with his countrymen, brutalized with them in their habit and manners, and would never again return to his foreign acquaintance. I need not mention the common opinion of the negroes in our plantations, who have no other notion of a future state of bappiness, than that after death they shall be conveyed back to their native country. The Swiss are so remarkable for this passion, that it often turns to a disease among them ; for which there is a particular name in the German language, and which the French call “The distemper of the country;" for nothing is more usual, than for several of their common soldiers, who are listed into a foreign service, to have such violent hankerings after their home, as to pine away, even to death, unless they have a permission to return; which, on such an occasion, is generally granted them. I shall only add under this head, that, since the love of one's country is natural to every man, any particular nation, who, by false politics, shall endeavour to stifle or restrain it, will not be upon a level with others.
As this love of our country is natural to every man, so it is likewise very reasonable ; and that, in the first place, because it inclines us to be beneficial to those who are and ought to be dearer to us than any others. It takes in our families, relations, friends, and acquaintance, and, in short, all whose welfare and security we are obliged to consult more than that of those who are strangers to us.
For this reason, it is the most sublime and extensive of all social virtues : especially, if we consider that it does not only promote the well-being of these who are our contemporaries, but likewise of their children and their posterity. Hence it is, that all casuists are unanimous in determining, that when the good of their country interferes even with the life of the most beloved relation, dearest friend, or greatest benefactor, it is to be preferred without exception.
Further, though there is a benevolence due to all mankind, none can question but a superior degree of it is to be paid to a father, a wife, or child. In the same manner, though our love should reach to the whole species, a greater proportion of it should exert itself towards that community in which Providence has placed us. This is our proper sphere of action, the province allotted us for the exercise of our civil virtues, and in which alone we have opportunities of expressing our good-will to mankind. I could not but be pleased, in the accounts of the late Persian embassy into France, with a particular ceremony of the ambassador; who, every morning, before he went abroad, religiously saluted a turf of earth dug out of his own native soil, to remind him, that in all the transactions of the day, he was to think of his country, and pursue its advantages. If, in the several districts and divisions of the world, men would thus study the welfare of those respective communities, to which their power of doing good is limited, the whole race of reasonable crea
tures would be happy, as far as the benefits of society car make them so. At least, we find so many blessings naturally flowing from this noble principle, that in proportion as it prevails, every nation becomes a prosperous and flourishing people.
It may be yet a further recommendation of this particular virtue, if we consider, that no nation was ever famous for its morals, which was not, at the same time, remarkable for its public spirit: patriots naturally rise out of a Spartan or Roman virtue : and there is no remark more common among the ancient historians, than that, when the state was corrupted with avarice and luxury, it was in danger of being betrayed,
To the foregoing reasons for the love which every good man owes to his country, we may add, that the actions which are most celebrated in history, and which are read with the greatest admiration, are such as proceed from this principle. The establishing of good laws, the detecting of conspiracies, the crushing of seditions and rebellions, the falling in battle, or the devoting of a man's self to certain death for the safety of his fellow-citizens, are actions that always warm the reader, and endear to him persons of the remotest ages and the most distant countries.
And as actions that proceed from the love of one's country, are more illustrious than any others in the records of time; so we find, that those persons who have been eminent in other virtues, have been particularly distinguished by this. It would be endless to produce examples of this kind out of Greek and Roman authors. To confine myself, therefore in so wide and beaten a field, I shall choose some instances from holy writ, which abounds in accounts of this nature as much as any other history whatsoever. And this I do the more willingly, because, in some books lately written, I find it objected against revealed religion, that it does not inspire the love of one's country. Here I must premise, that as the sacred author of our religion chiefly inculcated to the Jews those parts of their duty wherein they were most defective, so there was no need of insisting upon this; the Jews being remarkable for an attachment to their own country, even to the exclusion of all common humanity to strangers. We see, in the behaviour of this Divine person, the practice of this virtue in conjunction with all others. He deferred work. ing a miracle in the behalf of a Syro-Phænician woman, until he had declared his superior good-will to his own nation; and was prevailed upon to heal the daughter of a Roman centurion, by hearing from the Jews, that he was one who loved their nation, and had built them a synagogue. But, to look out for no other instance, what was ever more moving, than his lamentation over Jerusalem, at his first approach to it, notwithstanding he had foretold the cruel and unjust treatment he was to meet with in that city! for he foresaw the destruction, which, in a few years, was to fall upon that people ; a destruction not to be paralleled in any nation, from the beginning of the world to this day; and in the view of it melted into tears. His followers have, in many places, expressed the like sentiments of affection for their countrymen, among which, none is more extraordinary than that of the great convert, who wished himself might be made a curse, provided it might turn to the happiness of his nation; or, as he words it, “ of his brethren and kinsmen who are Israelites.” This instance naturally brings to mind the same heroic temper of soul in the great Jewish lawgiver, who would have devoted himself in the same manner, rather than see his people perish. It would, indeed, be difficult to find out any man of extraordinary piety, in the sacred writings, in whom this virtue is not highly conspicuous. The reader, however, will excuse me, if I take notice of one passage, because it is a very fine one, and wants only a place in some polite author of Greece or Rome, to have been admired and celebrated. The king of Syria lying sick upon his bed, sent Hasael, one of his great officers, to the prophet Elisha, to inquire of him, whether he should recover.
The prophet looked so attentively on this messenger, that it put him into some confusion; or, to quote this beautiful circumstance, and the whole narrative, in the pathetic language of Scripture, “ Elisha settled his countenance stedfastly upon him, until he was ashamed: and Hasael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he said, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong-holds wilt thou set on fire, and their men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child. And Hasael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The Lord hath showed me, that thou shalt be king over Syria.”