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guard against those specious reforming requisitions, which, however reasonable they may be, when abstractedly considered, are always to be distrusted when they make their appearance in unreasonable times, in times of heat and of clamour, like the present. I speak of this spirit of innovation with reference to our happy constitution : in other places it may be justified by other circumstances; but while we sit under the shade of our own laws, and feel all the cherishing benignity of our own government, it is fair almost to look with distrust and prejudice on all projects of change whatever, and to regard them as necessarily involving much hazard and danger.
In a constitution so complicated as ours, and composed of so many minute parts which require a sound knowledge of human affairs to understand their subserviency to the whole, it is not for every pretender to tell us what we can spare, or what props are necessary to an edifice which has not been erected at once on mathematical principles, or after any pre-concerted plan or model, but has grown and spread with time, occasion, and emergency; and has been pieced and parcelled into various apartments, more with a view to accommodation than grace, to capacity than proportion, to interior comfort than outward symmetry and order. A constitution so mysteriously wrought, so fashioned to the changing condition of the human mind, so pliable to the wants and demands of our nature, however slow in finishing, has a higher claim to our regard, than if it had been woven at once in the brains of a single set of men, or in the revolution of a single æra, to fit with scrupulous adjustment the philosophy of the times, or a transitory crisis of popular opinion.
It is enough for us to know that our constitution has been sealed with the sanction of time and successive generations; that it has been found answerable to all the purposes of national aggrandisement; that fighting under its banners .we have gloriously conquered; that under its protection we have maintained our religion; that we have found its spirit-congenial to commerce, and friendly to the progress of knowledge and humanity: it is enough to know this, without troubling ourselves to inquire into the nature of its origin, or its qualifications of birth.
If our constitution, whole as it is, had no original foundation in the free consent of a people; if we do not enjoy it as the entire gift of a solemn confederation; there is nevertheless no part of it that has not been tried in all its points, and all its bearings; that has not many times over been weighed in the balance by contending interests; that has not been examined, in times of trouble and in times of repose, with jealous scrupulosity; and that has not come down to us, marked with no particular humour of a particular juncture, but bearing in its aspect the reverend authority of time, the different subscriptions of difierent ages, and the broad testimony of human nature at large.
Those, therefore, of your majesty's subjects, who are so pleased with discovering that our government is no constitution, because they are unable to trace it back to any general association and consent of the people, are solicitous about formalities that have no natural ground in human affairs, which proceed by an involuntary course of incidental progression and improvement. Secure in the actual blessings of political freedom, we need not contend about forms and titles: we will not make war upon these verbal politicians, in vindication of our right to the name of constitution, if they, on their part, will not insist on
our - razing this our structure of happiness to the ground, because the first stone was laid without the due decorums of ceremony and punctilio.
If these Rights of Man, which have taken such hold of some men's fancies, be so encumbered with formality; if their tendency be to dissolve all governments, whether good or bad, supposing them to have proceeded in formally; I have no compunction in declaring, that these rights of man are inconsistent with his social character, are inimical to his true interests, and subversive of his civil freedom; but may serve, to the end of time, as the stale pretence of revolutions; and afford to factious leaders a language unintelligibly imposing to the gaping vulgar, and rich in the unideal terms of a raving philosophy.
Let not such flimsy reasoners disturb your majesty's peace, or shake your faith in the loyalty of the good people of England, who love you, not merely as their king, but as an integral part of a great whole, in which their security is involved, and as the bond and pledge of perpetuity to these our political blessings. We look upon you, sir, as one of the system with us; as sharing in all its wholesome restraints, and as feeling a fellowship with your people in all the benefits it diffuses. Look then, with confidence, to the depth, and breadth, and solidity, of the scheme of our government, as a sufficient defence against the irregular attacks of a political banditti.
A parliament-house may be burned with all its journals and records; but who shall burn out of our hearts those witnesses and documents of freedom which are lodged and cherished there? The riots of the capital may be renewed; but what sudden fury shall prevail against the rocky frame of our distrust may
constitution, of which no man's mind has furnished the model, but which time and the hour have raised with an insensible progress, and have built of materials that blows and buffets only serve to indurate? The sense of the nation may subside, and alarm and
take a sudden possession of their minds; but what efforts of disappointed malice shall prevail against the seated prosperity of the country, the evidence of actual enjoyment, and the strong arguments of fact and feeling?
Should it, however, be your majesty's fate to see some disturbances ere you sink into the tomb of your ancestors, you have been taught how to combat with ills, and to wrestle with calamity. Your brother of France was fostered in the lap of indulgence, and spoiled in the nursery of despotism. To an absolute monarch, his subjects are his playthings while he lies in his cradle, and the sport of his passions when he sits upon his throne; but the kings of England are tutored, and corrected, and lessoned, and catechised by the people at an early age: and your majesty especially has been brought up in the school of disappointment, and has been exercised in trouble and in sorrow.
We doubt not, therefore, but that you will stand firm, should any severer trials befall you;- you will not be wanting to your affectionate subjects, who desire to be told how to serve you ;you will consider yourself as pledged for the maintenance of our free government;-you will make a severe, but chaste use of your authority ;-you will yield to no galling requisitions, which may force you into disgraceful dilemmas, and induce you to tamper with your sacred honour;-and you will attempt no illegal stretch of prerogative, to shame your faithful and loyal subjects.
With this constancy of mind, your majesty is prepared to encounter the worst that can happen ; and with its natural support, our constitution is able to sustain the secret or open assaults of its enemies. Did it rest on a single point, like the old sovereignty of France, standing on its pinnacle like an inverted cone, every passing wind might make it totter to its fall; but the monumental pyramid of our government, seated on its natural base, which is the people, shall require no common convulsion of nature to shake its foundations.
But although there is nothing in the present aspect of things to fill your majesty's mind with gloomy presages, yet let not this rooted firmness of your throne induce you to contemplate, with a bosom of apathy, the agitations of your people, however partial they may be. Every little alarm has a claim upon your feelings, and demands on your part a solicitous paternal attention. In times of seditious machinations, it is to you that the virtuous part will turn, as to the spring of their consolation, and the guide of their activity. The throne is the central object of their trust and their fears; it is the point of union to the different members of the constitution; it compacts, settles, and holds together in a mysterious combination, the various virtues of various communities, which time has operated to blend together in this favoured country, it is the refuge of our hopes, it is the anchorage of our freedom, it is the haven of our constitution.
Thus held up to the view of your people, and thus important to the safety of our liberties and laws, your majesty cannot be inactive in the state, without great reproach to your sensibility and your understanding; you will not content yourself with thundering out bulls and proclamations, which may cut off a branch or so, while they strengthen the root of