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and each link of the chain examined with scrupu. lous but unbiassed severity. The plot of the piece is not so new as the winding up of the catastrophe threatens to be alarming. The general utility then of tracing events to their causes, of viewing them in their immediate effects, and following them through their remote operations, becomes in the present period interesting to the country beyond measure or precedent.
It has been reserved for the punishment of the present generation to undergo the fatal experiment of reducing the theory of modern philosophy* into practice. The baneful emanations from Pandora's box were but faint presages of its direful effects. Since the fatal eruption from this philofophic receptacle of modern doctrines, the political system of Europe seems to have undergone a gene. ral change. The old and true principles are derided, denied, or abandoned: new and falfe maxims are adopted and supported. Folly, fear, and malice operate variously upon the multitude, and in the general alarm and confusion the voice of truth is nearly stifled.
France had long been the seat of modern philo
* By this term I mean the aggregate of the doctrines of Rouffeau, Voltaire, Diderot, &c. who, improving upon their freethinking predeceffors, have devoted their lives to seducing mankind into the mockery of Christian Revelation, and the adoption of a system of Atheism and Licentiousness. 3
sophy; fophy; and, unfortunately for that country, and for the world at large, its theories had convinced but few, of the dreadful evils which its practice and success have caused all to lament. The destructive infection was beginning to spread abroad, before the full effects of the grand experiment had been completely known at home. In the delusion of its visionary success, some infatuated zealots were found daring enough to attack the very existence of the British Constitution, though fortunately they were not sufficiently aftute to disguise their design. Their publications produced various effects in an unsettled state of the public mind. To some they represented the Constitution as a system of absurdity and inconsistency; to others, of despoe tism and tyranny; in some they created contempt, in others hatred ; in most they raised doubts, in all alarms. It is difficult to determine whether the progress of the evil were more forwarded by the ill-judged exertions of individuals to oppose it, or by the impunity with which for a time it was permitted to spread.
In the early season of this political ferment, I applied my retired thoughts to an impartial investigation of the origin, nature, and effects of our Constitution, and in the cool study of her lineaments, form, and features; I traced in her a simplicity congenial with nature, a structure calculated to
furvive the ravages of time, and a harmony productive of every human blessing.
My admiration begat a love for the Constitution; and when I beheld her so rudely affailed by Mr. Paine, I could not resist the impulse of raising even my feeble hand in her defence. I entered the lifts clad with no other than the simple defensive armour of civil freedom ; for such only is to be found in the arsenal of the British Constitution. Yet I beheld with astonishment and with alarm my fellow-combatants rush forth against the enemy, encumbered with foreign arms and weapons, which for the last happy century had been disused by Britons. I dreaded the return of their unruly coursers and scythed chariots amongst their own ranks. And henceforth, I pledge to my countrymen my most determined efforts to exterminate for ever the fatal use of these anti-conftitutional weapons of destruction.
When I lately published the book which I entituled Jura Anglorum, I did it with the immediate and direct view of representing the Constitution in its genuine colours. I deemed no other defence of it necessary against a man who would ridicule it by denying its very existence. In that work I have fully committed niyself to my country upon the true principles of its constitution, and have thereby contracted a duty to maintain and vindicate them to my latest breath.
Mr. Burke in the year 1770 most judiciously observed*, “ That in the filent lapse of events, as « material alterations have been insensibly brought « about in the policy and character of governments " and nations, as those which have been marked
by the tumult of public revolutions.” That there has lately been brought about a material alteration in the policy and character of this government and this nation, the most obstinate blindness alone will not discover. Nec tam pertinaces fore arbitror, ut clariffimum folem Janis atque patentibus oculis videre se negent. What the ultimate effects of such alteration may be, I will not even hazard a conjecture. I know too well that the task of denouncing future evils is often dangerous, generally fruitless, and always invidious. But as far as the alteration has hitherto been operative, every man must sooner or later see the events which it has produced ; for
every man by being somehow affected must feel their consequences, and it therefore behoves every man to form a right judgment upon them. To this end have I undertaken to submit to the dispassionate review of my countrymen, the system and detail of measures carried on during the last twenty months, as the most important period of our national existence. In taking up our history from the month of May, 1792, I shall chiefly rest upon
* Cause of the present Discontents : viz. in 1770, B 3
such events as may affect in their consequences the fate of the Constitution of the Country, more than the actual adminiftration of its Government: and as this period comprises the time from the publication of ny Jura Anglorum, which was a mere exposition of the actual state of the Constitution when its very existence was called in question; so it throws upon me the necessity of examining into the caufes of every appearance of deviation in practice from the theory of those principles, which I there laid down as its true basis.
I haye always conceived the British Constitution to be founded upon a democratic basis, the free will and consent of the people *: that the monarchy and aristocracy, the other two component parts of that Constitution, are emanations and creatures of that original source of human power : and from this bafe alone can I view a narchy or an aristocracy either take root, or acquire vigour and permanency. The democratic part of the Constitution, which voluntarily for the most wise and falutary purposes, shared its power
with the monarchy and aristocracy, will ever feel an interest in preserving that which it so providently
* Not so Mr. Burke: who fays, that the democratic and aristocratic parts of our Conftitution are founded upon the Crown as their effential bafis : from the Crown do they originate, and by the energy of that main spring alone mus they be set in action. Vid, Appeal, p. 46.