Page images

10 each other's bowels, for the diversion of their good neighbours. Then either a commonwealth will ensue, or else a second Cromwell. One must be; but it cannot be determined which, King W- or King Mob.

“ But that case is not parallel with this.” It is not, in all particulars. In many respects it is widely different. As, First, with regard to the king himself. Few will affirm the character of King Charles, even allowing the account given by Lord Clarendon to be punctually true in every respect, to be as faultless as that of King George. But other passions, as well as love, are blind. So that when these are raised to a proper height, especially when Junius has thrown a little more of his magic dust into the eyes of the people, and convinced them, that what are virtues in others, are mere vices in him, the good patriots will see no manner of difference between a King George and King Charles, or even a Nero.

The case is also widely different, Secondly, with regard to the ministry. King George has no such furious drivers about him as poor King Charles had. But a skilful painter may easily add a few features either to one or the other, and by a little colouring make Lord North the very picture of Lord Strafford, and Archbishop Cornwallis of Archbishop Laud.

How different likewise is the case, Thirdly, with regard to the administration of public affairs ! The requiring tonnage and poundage, the imposing ship money, the prosecutions in the bishops' courts, in the high commission court, and in the star chamber, were real and intolerable grievances. But what is there in the present administration which bears any resemblance to these? Yet if you will view even such an affair as the Middlesex election through Mr. Horne's magnifying glass, it will appear a more enormous instance of oppression than a hundred star chambers put together.

The parallel does not hold, Fourthly, with regard to the opposers of the king and his ministry. Is Mr. Burke the same calm, wise, disinteresied man that Mr. Hampden was? And where shall we find twenty noblemen and twenty gentlemen (to name no more) in the present opposition, whom any impartial man will set on a level with the same nurnber of those that opposed King Charles and his ministry?

Nor does the parallel hold, Fisthly, in this respect: That was in great measure a contest about religion; at least, about rites, and ceremonies, and opinions, which many supposed to be religion. But all religion is out of the question now: This is generally allowed, both by the one side and the other, to be so very a trifle, that they do not give themselves the least concern about it.

In one circumstance more there is an obvious difference. The parliament were then the king's enemies: Now they are his firmest friends. But indeed this difference may easily be removed. Let the king only lake Mr. Wilkes's advice, and dissolve parliament. The parliament of 1640, the first which sat after the troubles began, although many therein were much dissatisfied with the measures which had been taken, yet would never have been prevailed upon to join in the schemes which afterward prevailed. But when that parliament was so seasonably dissolyed, and a few men, wise in their generation, practising with Vol. VI.


unwearied industry on the heated spirits of the people, had procured a new parliament to be chosen after their own heart; then it was not long ere the train took fire, and the whole constitution was blown up!

But, notwithstanding the disparity between the present and past times in the preceding respects, yet how surprisingly does the parallel hold in various particulars! 1. A handful of people laid a scheme, which few would have believed had a man then declared it unto them; though indeed it is probable that at the beginning they had no settled scheme at all. 2. These professed great zeal for the good of their country, were vehement contenders for liberty, cried aloud against evil ministers and the evil measures which they pursued, and were continually declaiming against either real or imaginary grievances. 3. They were soon joined by men eminent for probity as well as for understanding, who undoubtedly were what the others appeared, lovers of their king and country, and desired nothing but the removal of bad ministers, and the redress of real grievances. 4. The spirits even of these were gradually sharpened and embittered against the king. And they were drawn farther and farther by the art of their leaders, till they had gone so far, they knew not how to retreat; yea, till they, passively at least, concurred in those measures which at first their very souls abhorred. 5. Meantime, the nation in general was inflamed with all possible diligence, by addresses, petitions, and remonstrances, admirably well devised for the purpose ; which were the most effectual libels that could be imagined against the king and government, and were continually spread throughout the land, with all care and assiduity. 6. Among the most inflamed and embittered in all England were the people of London, as the managers had the best opportunity of practising upon them. 7. All this time they professed the highest regard for the king, for his honour as well as safety; an authentic monument whereof we have in the Solemn League and Covenant. And these professions they continued with equal vehemence till within a short time of the cutting off his head!

Now, what man that has the least degree of understanding may not see, in the clearest light, how surprisingly the parallel holds in all these circumstances ?

“ But do not you think it is in the power of the king to put an end to all these commotions, by only sending his mother away, changing his ministers, and dissolving the parliament ?" He may send his mother away; and so he may his wife, if they please to rank her among his evil counsellors. He may put out his present ministers, and desire the lord mayor to put others in their place. He may likewise dissolve the present parliament, (as King Charles did that of 1640,) and exchange it for one chosen, animated, and tutored by Mr. Wilkes and his friends. But can you really believe this would mend the matter? would put an end to all these commotions ? Certainly the sending his mother to the Indies would avail nothing, unless he removed his ministers too. Nor would the putting out these, yea, every man of them, avail any thing, unless at the same time he put in every man whom Lord Chatham chose. But neither would this avail, unless he struck the finishing stroke, by dissolving the parliament. Then indeed he would be as perfectly safe as the "sheep that had given up their dogs.”

It would puzzle the wisest man alive to tell what the king can do. What can he do, that will still the raging of the sea, or the madness of the people? Do you imagine it is in his power to do any thing which will please all parties? Can he do any thing that will not displease one as much as it will please the other? Shall he drive his mother out of the land? (This was wrote before the princess dowager went abroad.) Will this then please all parties ? Nay, will not some be apt to inquire, “ How has she deserved it at his hands?” Why, she is an evil counsellor.” How does this appear? Who are the witnesses of it? Indeed we have read as grave and formal accounts of the conferences at Carlton House, as if the relater had stood all the time behind the curtain, and taken down the whole matter in short-hand. But what shadow of proof of all this? No more than of the conferences related in Tristram Shandy.

“ But she is a bad woman.” Who ever said or thought so, even while she was in the flower of her age? From the time she first set foot in England, was there a more faultless character in the nation? Nay, was not her whole behaviour as a wife, as a mother, as a mistress, and as a princess, not only blameless but commendable in the highest degree, till that period of time arrived, when it was judged proper, in order to blacken her (supposed) favourite, to asperse her too? And then she was illud quod dicere nolo ! (what I will not express !] One would think that even the ignobile vulgus, “ the beasts of the people,” the lowest, basest herd who wore the human form, would be ashamed of either advancing or crediting so senseless, shameless a tale. Indeed I can hardly think it is credited by one in a hundred even of those who foul their mouths with repeating it. Let it die and be forgotten! Let it not be remembered, that ever any Englishman took so dirty a slander into his mouth.

“However, become what will of his mother, let him put away his bad ministers.” Suppose they really are bad, do you know where he can find better? Where can he find twenty men, we will not say of Christian but of Roman integrity? Point them out,-men of sound judgment, of clear apprehension, of universal benevolence, lovers of mankind, lovers of their country, lovers of their king; men attached to no party, but simply pursuing the general good of the nation; not haughty or overhearing, not addicted to passion, not of a revengeful temper; superior to covetousness on the one hand, free from profuseness on the other. I say, show me the men, only this small number; or rather, show them to his majesty. Let clear and satisfactory proof be given that this is their character; and if these worthy men are not employed . in the place of the unworthy ones, you will then have some reason to stretch your throat against evil ministers.

“ But if the matter were wholly left to him, would not Lord immediately employ twenty such ?” That may bear some doubt. It is not certain that he would; perhaps he knows not where to find them. And it is not certain to a demonstration, that he would employ them if he did. It is not altogether clear, that he is such himself, that he perfectly answers this character. Is he free from pride ; from any thing haughty in his temper, or overbearing in his behaviour? Is he neither passionate nor revengeful? Is it indisputably plain, that he is equally clear of covetousness on the one hand, and profuseness on the other? Is he steady and uniform in his conduct; always one thing? Is he

attached to no party, but determined at all events singly to pursue the general good of the nation? Is he a lover of the king? Is he remarkably grateful to him, from whom he has received no common favours ? If not, though he has a strong understanding, and a large share of manly eloquence, still it may be doubted, whether he and his friends would behave a jot better than the ministers we have already.

And suppose the king were to dissolve the parliament, what hope is there of having a better, even though the nation were as quiet and peaceable as it was ten years ago ? Are not the present members, generally speaking, men of the greatest property in the land? And are they not, the greater part of them at least, as honest and wise as their neighbours? How then should we mend ourselves at any time ; but especially at such a time as this? If a new parliament were chose during this epidemic madness, what probability of a better than the present? Have we not all the reason in the world to apprehend it would be a much worse ? that it would be the parliament of 1641, instead of the parliament of 1640? Why, this is the very thing we want, the very point we are aiming at. Then would Junius and his friends quickly say, “ Sir King, know your place! Es et ipse lignum. [You are but a log.] Take your choice! Be king log, or to the block !!

Does it not then appear, upon the whole, that it is by no means in the power of the king, by any step which he can possibly take, to put a stop to the present commotions; that especially he cannot make con cessions without making a bad matter worse; that the way he has taken the standing his ground, was as wise a method as he could take, and as likely to restore the peace of the nation, as any the wit of man could devise? If any is more likely, would it not be, vigorously to execute the laws against incendiaries; against those who, by spreading all manner of lies, inflame the people even to madness; to teach them, that there is a difference between liberty, which is the glory of Englishmen, and licentiousness, a wanton abuse of liberty, in contempt of all laws, divine and human? Ought they not to feel, if they will not see, that scandalum regis, “ scandalizing the king," is as punishable as scan. dalum magnatum? [scandalizing nobles ?) that for the future none may dare to slander the king, any more than one of his nobles ; much less to print and spread that deadly poison among his majesty's liege subjects? Is not this little less than high treason? Is it not sowing the seeds of rebellion?

It is possible this might restore peace, but one cannot affirm it would. Perhaps God has “a controversy with the land,” for the general neglect, nay, contempt, of all religion. Perhaps he hath said,

“ Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this ?” And if this be the case, what can avail, unless his anger be turned away from us? Was there ever a time in which there was a louder call for them that fear God to humble themselves before him? if haply general humiliation and repentance may prevent general destruction!


I scorn to have my free born toe
Dragcon'd into a wooden shoe.--PRIOR.

1. All men in the world desire liberty; whoever breathes, breathes after this, and that by a kind of natural instinct antecedent to art or education. Yet at the same time all men of understanding acknowledge it is a rational instinct. For we feel this desire, not in opposition to, but in consequence of, our reason. Therefore it is not found, or in a very low degree, in many species of brutes, which seem, even when they are left to their choice, to prefer servitude before liberty.

2. The love of liberty is then the glory of rational beings; and it is the glory of Britons in particular. Perhaps it would be difficult to find any nation under heaven, who are more tenacious of it; nay, it


be doubted if any nation ever was; not the Spartans, not the Athenians ; no, not the Romans themselves, who have been celebrated for this very thing by the poets and historians of all ages.

3. Was it not from this principle, that our British forefathers so violently opposed all foreign invaders; that Julius Cæsar himself, with his victorious legions, could make so little impression upon them; that the generals of the succeeding emperors sustained so many losses from them; and that, when at length they were overpowered, they rather chose to lose all they had than their liberty ; to retire into the Cambrian or Caledonian mountains, where, if they had nothing else, they might at lcast enjoy their native freedom?

4. Hence arose the vehement struggles of the Cambro Britons through so many generations against the yoke, which the Saxons first, and afterward the English, strove to impose upon them; hence the struggles of the English barons against several of their kings, lest they should lose the blessing they had received from their forefathers ; yea, the Scottish nobles, as all their histories show, would no more bear to be enslaved than the Romans. All these therefore, however differing from each other in a thousand other respects, agreed in testifying the desirableness of liberty, as one of the greatest blessings under the sun.

5. Such was the sense of all our ancestors, even from the earliest ages. And is it not also the general sense of the nation at this day? Who can deny, that the whole kingdom is panting for liberty? Is not the

cry for it gone forth, not only through every part of our vast metropolis,-from the west end of the city to the east, from the north to the south, so that instead of no complaining in our streets, there is nothing but complaining,—but likewise into every corner of our land, borne by all the four winds of heaven! Liberty ! Liberty! sounds through every county, every city, every town, and every hamlet!

6. Is it not for the sake of this, that the name of our great patriot (perhaps not so admirable in his private character as the man of Ross, or so great a lover of his country as Codrus or old Curtius) is more celebrated than that of any private man has been in England for these thousand years; that his very picture is so joyfully received in every

« PreviousContinue »