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with a ring of servants and other people always about them; where Ned explained his texts so full and clear to the capacity of his audience, and shewed the insignificancy of his adversary's cant to the meanest understanding, that he got the whole country on his side, and the farmer was cured of his itch of disputation for ever after.
The worst of it is, that this sort of outrageous party-writers I have spoken of above, are like a couple of makebates, who inflame small quarrels by a thousand stories, and by keeping friends at a distance, hinder them from coming to a good understanding; as they certainly would, if they were suffered to meet and debate between themselves : for let any one examine a reasonable honest man, of either side, upon those opinions in religion and government, which both parties daily buffet each other about, he shall hardly find one material point in difference between them. I would be glad to ask a question about two great men * of the late ministry, How they came to be Whigs? and by what figure of speech, half a dozen others, lately put into great employments, can be called Tories? I doubt, whoever would suit the definition to the persons, must make it directly contrary to what we understood it at the time of the Revolution.
In order to remove these misapprehensions among us, I believe it will be necessary, upon occasion, to detect the malice and falsehood of some popular maxims, which those idiots scatter from the press twice a-week, and draw a hundred absurd consequences from them.
* The Duke of Marlborough, and Lord Godolphin, who commenced their political career as Tories, and only became Whigs through the necessity of identifying their own principles with that of the party which supported their power.
For example ; I have heard it often objected, as a great piece of insolence in the clergy and others, to say or hint, that the church was in danger, when it was voted otherwise in parliament some years ago; and the queen herself, in her last speech, did openly condemn all such insinuations. Notwithstanding which, I did then, and do still believe the church has, since that vote, been in very imminent danger; and I think I might then have said so, without the least offence to her majesty, or either of the two Houses. The queen's words, as near as I can remember, mentioned the church being in danger from her administration ; and whoever says or thinks that, deserves, in my opinion, to be hanged for a traitor : but that the church and state may be both in danger, under the best princes that ever reigned, and without the least guilt of theirs, is such a truth, as a man must be a great stranger to history and common sense, to doubt. The wisest prince on earth may be forced, by the necessity of his affairs, and the present power of an unruly faction; or deceived by the craft of ill-designing men. One or two ministers, most in his confidence, 'may at first have good intentions, but grow corrupted by time, by avarice, by love, by ambition, and have fairer terms offered them to gratify their passions or interests, from one set of men than another, until they are too far involved for a retreat; and so be forced to take seven spirits more wicked than themselves. This is a very possible case ; and will not the last state of such men be worse than the first ? that is to say, will not the public, which was safe at first, grow in danger by such proceedings as these? And shall a faithful subject, who foresees and trembles at the consequences, be called disaffected, because he delivers his opinion, although the prince declares, as he justly
may, that the danger is not owing to his administration ? or shall the prince himself be blamed, when, in such a juncture, he puts his affairs into other hands, with the universal applause of his people? As to the vote against those who should affirm the church was in danger, I think it likewise referred to danger from, or under the queen's administration; for I neither have it by me, nor can suddenly have recourse to it; but, if it were otherwise, I know not how it can refer to any dangers but what were past, or at that time present; or how it could affect the future, unless the senators were all inspired, or at least that majority which voted it: neither do I see it is any crime, farther than ill manners, to differ in opinion from a majority of either, or both Houses, and that ill manners, I must confess, I have been often guilty of for some years past, although I hope I never
shall again. Another topic of great use to these weekly inflamers is, the young Pretender in France, to whom their whole party is in a high measure indebted for all their greatness ; and whenever it lies in their power, they may perhaps return their acknowledgments, as, out of their zeal for frequent revolutions, they were ready to do to this supposed father ; which is a piece of secret history, that I hope will one day see the light; and I am sure it shall, if ever I am master of it, without regarding whose ears may tingle. *
But at present, the word Pretender is a
* The Duke of Marlborough was more than once suspected of being engaged in schemes for a counter-revolution. Sir John Dalrymple affirms, on the authority of Principal Gordon of the Scotch College, that the Earl of Oxford had obtained possession of a letter of the Duke of Marlborough, when Lord Churchill, addressed to James II., and giving him information of the projected attempt upon Brest in 1694 ; and that the Duke, perceiving
term of art in their profession. A secretary of state cannot desire leave to resign, but the Pretender is at bottom; the queen cannot dissolve a parliament, but it is a plot to dethrone herself and bring in the Pretender; half-a-score stock-jobbers are playing the knave in Exchange-alley, and there goes the Pretender with a sponge. One would be apt to think, they bawl out the Pretender so often, to take off the terror, or tell so many lies about him to slacken our caution, that when he is really coming, by their connivance, we may not believe them, as the boy served the shepherds about the coming of the wolf; or perhaps they scare us with the Pretender, because they think he may be like some diseases that come with a fright. Do they not believe that the queen's present ministry love her majesty at least as well as some loved the church? And why is it not as great a mark of disaffection now, to say the queen is in danger, as it was some months ago to affirm the same of the church? Suppose it be a false opinion, that the queen's right is hereditary and indefeasible; yet how is it possible that those who hold and believe such a doctrine, can be in the Pretender's interest ? His title is weakened by every argument that strengthens hers: it is as plain as the words of an act of parliament can make it, that her present majesty is heir to the survivor of the late king and queen her sister : is not that an hereditary right? What need we explain it any farther? I have known an article of faith expound
his life was in the hands of his enemy, consented to his voluntary exile to Brussels. He also relates, that the Duke had a private meeting with Lord Oxford at Thomas Harley's, to which he came by a back door, and that, in consequence of what then passed, he immediately left England. But this piece of private history rests upon slight and traditional foundation.
ed in much looser and more general terms, and that by an author, whose opinions are very much followed by a certain party. Suppose we go farther, and examine the word indefeasible, with which some writers of late have made themselves so merry; confess it is hard to conceive how any law, which the supreme power makes, may not by the same power be repealed; so that I shall not determine, whether the queen's right be indefeasible or not. But this I will maintain, that whoever affirms it is so, is not guilty of a crime; for in that settlement of the crown after the Revolution, where her present majesty is named in remainder, there are (as near as I can remember) these remarkable words, “ to which we bind ourselves and our posterity for ever.” Lawyers may explain this, or call them words of form as they please; and reasoners may argue, that such an obligation is against the nature of government; but a plain reader, who takes the words in their natural meaning, may be excused in thinking a right so confirmed is indefeasible; and if there be an absurdity in such an opinion, he is not to answer for it.
P.S. When this paper was going to the press, the
printer brought me two more Observators, wholly taken up in my Examiner upon lying, which I was at the pains to read; and they are just such an answer, as the two others I have mentioned. This is all I have to say on that matter.