« PreviousContinue »
breast, thàn the most extravagant tyrant in the universe. He is very fearful of being made a Nave, but is very desirous of being a Nave-maker; for whenever he crys out for liberty, he is endeavouring to destroy it; and never thinks himself a compleat free-man, till the nation he lives in, has no religion to guide him, no law to punith him ; for his chief aim is to pull down all, when the madness of the common people gives him a fair opportunity. In all conditions, he is as rest. less as a froward infant, whilft breeding of his teeth; will please no government, and with no government be pleased. He is as tem, pestuous, as the ocean, that swells into rage with every gale, that happens, and seldom reconciles himself to a calm, till like that he has been the occasion of some remarkable mischief,"
I shall not attempt to wound the feelings of those of my countrymen, whose minds want no conviction, by a painful rehearsal of the tragical catastrophe of our late fovereign king Charles the First: *« who was given up to the violent outrages of wicked men, to be despitefully used, and at last murdered by
• Vid. Book of Common Prayer: Form of Prayer for the 30th of January. R94
them. And, though we cannot reflet upon so foul an aɛt but with borror and astonishment,” yet too true is it, that even in this enlightened age is the commemoration of this day kept up by many in a spirit widely different from that, which the church and * parliament of England countenance and recommend.
On the bringing of king Charles a prisoner to London, in my opinion, there was sufficient cause for triumph. The 30th of January was (to use a phrase of admiral Keppel's) a proud day for England, as well as the 14th of July for France; and it will be remembered as such by the latest pos
Dr. P: exultat
• The act of parliament, which, as already observed, binds every individual unexceptionably in this community, is of the same tenure and spirit as the service of the church. I mention this to prove how little any set of individuals are authorized, upon the universal principles of all governments, to vilify, resist, and counteract the most folemn religious and legislative acts of the majority, « The horrid and execrable murder of your majesty's royal father, our late most gracious sovereign Charles the First, of ever blessed and glorious memory, hath been committed by a party of wretched men, desperately wicked, and hardened in their impiety, who having first plotted and contrived the ruin and destruction of this excellent monarchy, and with it of the true reformed protestant religion, which had been so long protected by it and flourished under it.” 12 Car. II. c. xxx.
+ Dr. Priestley's Fifth Letter to Mr. Burke, pab. lished last year,
terity of freemen.” Little furely does it be-
*“ The several unheard of insolencies, The true and which this excellent prince was forced to ments upon the
death of king submit to, at the other times he was brought Charlės. before that odious judicatory; his majestic behaviour, and resolute insisting upon his own dignity, and defending it by manifest authorities in the law, as well as by the clearest deductions from reason; the pronouncing that horrible sentence upon the most innocent person in the world; the execution of that fentence by the most execrable murther, that was ever committed since that of our blessed Saviour, and the circumstances thereof; the application and interposition, that was used by some noble persons to prevent that woful .murther, and the hypocricy, with which that interposition was eluded; the faint-like behaviour of that blessed martyr, and his chriltian courage and patience at his death, are all particulars so well known, and have been
ť Clarendon's Hift. of the Civil War, vol. jii. lib. xi. P. 197.
of the rebel. Jion.
so much enlarged upon in a treatise peculiarly writ: to that purpose, that the farther mentioning it in this place would but afflict and grieve the reader, and make the relation itself odious, as well as needless, and therefore no more shall be said here of that deplo.. rable tragedy, so much to the dishonour of the nation, and the religion profeffed by it,
though undeservedly.” . Reasons for not. The publisher of Lord Clarendon's history the particulars has furnished me with a reason, which fully
warrants me in passing over the particular scenes, which were effected by the levelling party of the last century. *“ It is a difficult province to write the history of the civil wars of a great and powerful nation, where the king was engaged with one part of his subjects against the other, and both sides were fufficiently inflamed, and the necessity of speaking the truth of several great men, that were engaged in the quarrel on either fide, who may still have considerable relations descended from them now alive, makes the task invi. dious as well as difficult.” .
The avowed purport of this publication is to prove that the present establishment of our
• Preface to the History of the Civil War, p. 11, fol. Edition of Oxford.
conftitution and government is admirably calculated to ensure the subordination, and preserve the welfare and happiness of all British subjects. I hope the philosophers and politicians of the present illuminated day will again forgive me for recurring (after the example of Mr. Burke *) to the sentiments of the last century.
* Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, p. 84. « It is current, that these old politicians knew little of the rights of men; that they lost their way by groping about in the dark, and fumbling among rotten parchments and musty records. Great lights, they fay, are lately obtained in the world; and Mr. Burke, instead of shrowding himself in exploded ignorance, ought to have taken advantage of the blaze of illumination, which has been spread about him. It may be fo. The enthusiasts of this time, it seems, like their predecessors in another faction of fana.' ticism, deal in lights. Hudibras pleasantly says of them,
curren; that thbling amongey say, 11 of Browdin antage
Have lights, where better eyes are blind,
As pigs are said to see the wind. “ The author of the Reflections has heard a great deal concerning the modern lights; but he has not yet had the good fortune to see much of them. He has read more than he can justify to any thing but the spirit of curiosity, of the works of thefe illuminators of the world. He has learned nothing from the far greater number of them, than a full certainty of their shallowness, levity, pride, petulancé, presumption, and ignorance. Where the old. authors, whom he has read, and the old men, whom he has conversed with, have left him in the dark, he is in the dark ftill. If others however have obtained any of this extraordinary light, they will use it to guide them in their researches and their conduct.”