페이지 이미지

the farmers and shopkeepers of Yorkshire and Cuma berland know or care how Middlesex is represented? instead of wandering thus round the county to exas. perate the rage of party, and darken the suspicions of ignorance, it is the duty of men like you, who have leisure for inquiry, to lead back the people to their honest labour; to tell them, that submission is the duty of the ignorant, and content the virtue of the poor; that they have no skill in the art of government, nor any interest in the dissensions of the great; and when you meet with any, as some there are, whose understandings are capable of conviction, it will become you to allay this foaming ebullition, by showing them that they have as much happiness as the condition of life will easily receive, and that a government, of which an erroneous or unjust representation of Middlesex is the greatest crime that interest can discover, or malice can upbraid, is government approaching nearer to perfection, than any that experience has known, or history related.

The drudges of sedition wish to change their ground, they hear him with sullen silence, feel conviction without repentance, and are confounded but not abashed; they go forward to another door, and find a kinder reception from a man enraged against the government, because he has just been paying the tax upon his windows.

That a petition for a dissolution of the parliament will at all times have its favourers, may be easily imagined. The people indeed do not expect that one House of Commons will be much honester or much wiser than another ; they do not suppose that


the taxes will be lightened; or though they have been so often taught to hope it, that soap and candles will be cheaper; they expect no redress of grievances, for of no grievances but taxes do they complain; they wish not the extension of liberty, for they do not feel any restraint ; about the security of privilege or property they are totally careless, for they see no property invaded, nor know, till they are told, that any privilege has suffered violation.

Least of all do they expect, that any future parliament will lessen its own powers, or communicate to the people that authority which it has once obtained.

Yet a new parliament is sufficiently desirable. The year of election is a year of jollity; and what is still more delightful, a year of equality. The glutton now eats the delicacies for which he longed when he could not purchase them, and the drunkard has the pleasure of wine without the cost. The drone lives a while without work, and the shopkeeper, in the flow of money, raises his price. The mechanick that trembled at the presence of Sir Joseph, now bids him come again for an answer; and the poacher whose gun has been seized, now finds an opportunity to reclaim it. Even the honest man is not displeased to see himself important, and willingly resumes in two years that power which he had resigned for seven.

Few love their friends so well as not to desire superiority by unexpensive benefaction.

Yet notwithstanding all these motives to compliance, the promoters of petitions have not been successful. Few could be persuaded to lament evils which they did not suffer, or to solicit for redress which they do not want. The petition has been, in some places, rejected ; and perhaps in all but one, signed only by the meanest and grossest of the people.

Since this expedient, now invented or revived to distress the government, and equally practicable at all times by all who shall be excluded from power and from profit, has produced so little effect, let us consider the opposition as no longer formidable. The great engine has recoiled upon them. They thought that the terms they sent were terms of weight, which would have amazed all and stumbled many; but the consternation is now over, and thei foes stand upright, as before.

With great propriety and dignity the king has, in his speech, neglected or forgotten them. He might easily know, that what was presented as the sense of the people, is the sense only of the profligate and dissolute ; and that whatever parliament should be convened, the same petitioners would be ready, for the same reason, to request its dissolution.

As we once had a rebellion of the clowns, we have now an opposition of the pediars. The quiet of the nation has been for years disturbed by a faction, against which all factions ought to conspire; for its original principle is the desire of levelling; it is only animated under the name of zeal, by the natural malignity of the mean against the great.

When in the confusion which the English invasions produced in France, the villains, imagining that they had found the golden hour of emancipation, took arms in their hands, the knights of both nations considered the cause as common, and, suspending the general hostility, united to chastise thens.

nations disdain

The whole conduct of this despicable faction is distinguished by plebeian grossness, and savage indecency. To misrepresent the actions and the principles of their enemies is common to all parties ; but the insolence of invective, and brutality of reproach which have lately prevailed, are peculiar to this.

An infallible characteristick of meanness is cruelty. This is the only faction that has shouted at the condemnation of a criminal, and that, when his innocence procured his pardon, has clamoured for his blood.

All other parties, however enraged at each other, have agreed to treat the throne with decency ; but these low-born railers have attacked not only the authority, but the character of their sovereign, and have endeavoured, surely without effect, to alienate the affections of the people from the only king, who, for almost a century, has much appeared to desire, or much endeavoured to deserve them. They have insulted him with rudeness and with menaces, which were never excited by the gloomy sullenness of William, even when half the nation denied him their allegiance ; nor by the dangerous bigotry of Jumes, unless when he was finally driven from his palace; and with which scarcely the open hostilities of rebellion ventured to vilify the unhappy Charles, eyen in the remarks on the cabinet of Naseby.

It is surely not unreasonable to hope that the nation will consult its dignity, if not its safety, and

[ocr errors]

disdain to be protected or enslaved by the declaimers or the plotters of a city-tavern. Had Rome fallen by the Catilinarian conspiracy, she might have consoled her fate by the greatness of her destroyers; but what would have alleviated the disgrace of England, had her government been changed by Tiler or by Ket?

One part of the nation has never before contended with the other, but for some weighty and apparent interest, If the means were violent, the end was great. The civil war was fought for what each army called and believed the best religion, and the best government. The struggle in the reign of Anne, was to exclude or restore an exile king. We are now disputing, with almost equal animosity, whether Middlesex shall be represented or not by a criininal from a jail.

The only comfort left in such degeneracy is, that a lower state can be no longer possible,

In this contemptuous censure, I mean not to include every single man. In all lead, says the chemist, there is silver; and in all copper there is gold. But mingled masses are justly denominated by the greater quantity, and when the precious particles are not worth extraction, a faction and a pig must be melted down together to the forms and offices that chance allots them.

Fiunt urceoli, pulves, sartago, patella.

A few weeks will now show whether the government can be shaken by empty noise, and whether the faction which depends upon its influence, has not deceived alike the Publick and itself. That it should

« 이전계속 »