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fute an adversary, the shortest way is to libel him; and to endeavour at the making his person odious, when they cannot represent his notions as absurd.
The Examiner was a paper, in the last reign, which was the favourite work of the party. It was ushered into the world by a letter from a secretary of state, setting forth the great genius of the author, the usefulness of his design, and the mighty consequences that were to be expected from it. It is said to have been written by those among them whom they looked upon as their most celebrated wits and politicians, and was dispersed into all quarters of the nation with great industry and expense. Who would not have expected, that at least the rules of decency and candour would be observed in such a performance ? but, instead of this, you saw all the great men, who had done eminent services to their country but a few years before, draughted out one by one, and baited in their turns. No sanctity of character, or privilege of sex, exempted persons from this barbarous usage. Several of our prelates were the standing marks of public raillery, and many ladies of the first quality branded by name for matters of fact, which as they were false, were not heeded, and if they had been true, were innocent. The dead themselves were not spared. And here I cannot forbear taking notice of a kind of wit which has lately grown into fashion among the versifiers, epigrammatists, and other authors, who think it sufficient to distinguish themselves by their zeal for what they call the high church, while they sport with the most tremendous parts of revealed religion. Every one has seen epigrams upon the deceased fathers of our church, where the whole thought was turned upon hell-fire. Patriots, who ought to be remembered with honour by their posterity, have been introduced as speakers in a state of torments. There is something dreadful even in repeating these execrable pieces of wit, which no man who really believes another life, can peruse without fear and trembling. It is astonishing to see readers who call themselves Christians, applauding such diabolical mirth, and seeming to rejoice in the doom which is pronounced against their enemies, by such abandoned scribblers. A wit of this kind may, with great truth, be compared to the fool in the Proverbs, "who plays with arrows, fire-brands, and death, and says, Am I not in sport!" I must, in justice to the more sober and considerate of
that party, confess, that many of them were highly scandalized at that personal slander and reflection which was flung out so freely by the libellers of the last reign, as well as by those profane liberties which have been since continued. And as for those who are either the authors or admirers of such compositions, I would have them consider with themselves, whether the name of a good church-man can atone for the want of that charity which is the most essential part of Christianity. They would likewise do well to reflect, how, by these methods, the poison has run freely into the minds of the weak and ignorant: heightened their rage against many of their fellow-subjects; and almost divested. them of the common sentiments of humanity.
In the former part of this paper, I have hinted that the design of it is to oppose the principles of those who are enemies to the present government, and the main body of that party who espouse those principles. But even in such general attacks there are certain measures to be kept, which may have a tendency rather to gain, than to irritate those who differ with you in their sentiments. The Examiner would not allow such as were of a contrary opinion to him, to be either Christians or fellow-subjects. With him they were all atheists, deists, or apostates, and a separate commonwealth among themselves, that ought either to be extirpated, or, when he was in a better humour, only to be banished out of their native country. They were often put in mind of some approaching execution, and therefore all of them advised to prepare themselves for it, as men who had then nothing to take care of, but how to die decently. In short, the Examiner seemed to make no distinction between conquest and destruction.
The conduct of this work has hitherto been regulated by different views, and shall continue to be so; unless the party it has to deal with draw upon themselves another kind of treatment. For if they shall persist in pointing their batteries against particular persons, there are no laws of war that forbid the making of reprisals. In the mean time, this undertaking shall be managed with that generous spirit which was so remarkable among the Romans, who did not subdue a country in order to put the inhabitants to fire and sword, but to incorporate them into their own community, and make them happy in the same government with themselves.
No. 20. MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27.
Privatus illis census erat brevis,
It is very unlucky for those who make it their business to raise popular murmurs and discontents against his Majesty's government, that they find so very few and so very improper occasions for them. To show how hard they are set in this particular, there are several, who for want of other materials, are forced to represent the bill which has passed this session, for laying an additional tax of two shillings in the pound upon land, as a kind of grievance upon the subject. If this be a matter of complaint, it ought in justice to fall upon those who have made it necessary. Had there been no rebellion, there would have been no increase of the land-tax : so that in proportion as a man declares his aversion to the one, he ought to testify his abhorrence of the other. But it is very remarkable that those, who would persuade the people that they are aggrieved by this additional burden, are the very persons who endeavour, in their ordinary conversation, to extenuate the heinousness of the rebellion, and who express the greatest tenderness for the persons of the rebels. They show a particular indulgence for that unnatural insurrection which has drawn this load upon us, and are angry at the means which were necessary for suppressing it. There needs no clearer proof of the spirit and intention with which they act; I shall, therefore, advise my fellow-freeholders to consider the character of any person who would possess them with the notion of a hardship that is put upon the country by this tax. If he be one of known affection to the present establishment, they may imagine there is some reason for complaint. But if, on the contrary, he be one who has shown himself indifferent as to the success of the present rebellion. or is suspected as a private abettor of it, they may take it for granted, his complaint against the land-tax is either the rage of a disappointed man, or the artifice of one who would alienate their affections from the present government.
The expense which will arise to the nation from this rebellion, is already computed at near a million. And it is a melancholy consideration for the freeholders of Great Bri
tain, that the treason of their fellow-subjects should bring upon them as great a charge as the war with France. At the same time every reasonable man among them will pay a tax with at least as great cheerfulness for stifling a civil war in its birth, as for carrying on a war in a foreign country. Had not our first supplies been effectual for the crushing of our domestic enemies, we should immediately have beheld the whole kingdom a scene of slaughter and desolation: whereas, if we had failed in our first attempts upon a distant nation, we might have repaired the losses of one campaign by the advantages of another, and after several victories gained over us, might still have kept the enemy from our gates.
As it was thus absolutely necessary to raise a sum that might enable the government to put a speedy stop to the rebellion, so could there be no method thought of for raising such a sum more proper, than this of laying an additional tax of two shillings in the pound upon land.
In the first place: this tax has already been so often tried, that we know the exact produce of it, which in any new project is always very doubtful and uncertain. As we are thus acquainted with the produce of this tax, we find it is adequate to the services for which it is designed, and that the additional tax is proportioned to the supernumerary expense, which falls upon the kingdom this year by the unnatural rebellion, as it has been above stated.
In the next place: no other tax could have been thought
of, upon which so much money would have been immediately
advanced as was necessary in so critical a juncture for pushing our successes against the rebels, and preventing the attempts of their friends and confederates both at home and abroad. Nobody cares to make loans upon a new and untried project; whereas men never fail to bring in their money upon a land-tax, when the premium or interest allowed them, is suited to the hazard they run by such loans to the government. And here one cannot but bewail the misfortune of our country, when we consider, that the House of Commons had last year reduced this interest to four per cent., by which means there was a considerable saving to the nation; but that this year they have been forced to give six per cent., as well knowing the fatal consequences that might have ensued, had there not been an interest allowed,
which would certainly encourage the lender to venture, in such a time of danger, what was indispensably necessary for the exigences of the public.
Besides; this is a method for raising a sum of money, that, with the ordinary taxes, will in all probability defray the whole expense of the year: so that there is no burden laid upon our posterity, who have been sufficiently loaded by other means of raising money; nor any deficiency to be hereafter made up by ourselves; which has been our case in so many other subsidies.
To this we may add; that we have no example of any other tax, which in its nature would so particularly affect the enemies of his Majesty's government. Multitudes of Papists and Nonjurors will be obliged to furnish a double proportion out of their revenues towards the clearing of that expense, which by their open and secret practices they have been instrumental in bringing upon their fellow-subjects.
I shall only mention one consideration more; that no other tax is so likely to cease as this is, when there is no further occasion for it. This tax is established by a House of Commons, which, by virtue of an act of parliament passed a few years ago, must consist for the most part of landed men; so that a great share of the weight of it must necessarily fall upon the members of their own body. As this is an instance of their public spirit, so we may be sure they would not have exerted it, had there not been an absolute necessity: nor can we doubt, that for the same reasons, when this necessity ceases, they will take the first opportunity of easing themselves in this particular, as well as those whom they represent. It is a celebrated notion of a patriot, who signally distinguished himself for the liberties of his country, that a House of Commons should never grant such subsidies as are easy to be raised, and give no pain to the people, lest the nation should acquiesce under a burden they did not feel, and see it perpetuated without repining. Whether this notion might not be too refined, I shall not determine; but by what has been already said, I think we may promise ourselves, that this additional tax of two shillings in the pound will not be continued another year, because we may hope the rebellion will be entirely ended in this.
And here, I believe, it must be obvious to every one's reflection, that the rebellion might not have concluded so soon,