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now receive as axioms, and without hesita- Dr. Priestley
recomar ends " tion act upon them,” says Dr. Priestley, the adoption of after having laid down, what he supposes to but hesitation be the fundamental or first principles of goverment, according to Somers, Locke, and Hoadley. However, this sort of unquestioning deference in the blind adoption of principles is pointedly reprobated by Mr. Locke * « Such as are careful (as they call Mr. Locke res it) to principle children well (and few there probates it
. be, who have not a set of those principles “ for them, which they believe in) instil into
unwary, and as yet unprejudiced understanding (for white
any " characters) those doctrines, they would have " them retain and possess.
Thefe being taught them, as soon as they have any ap
prehension, and still, as they grow up, con"firmed to them, either by the open profes"sion or tacit consent of all they have to do
or at least by those, of whose wisdom, knowledge, and piety, they have an opi"nion, who never suffer these propositions "to be otherwise mentioned, but as the basis " and foundation, on which they build their
religion or manners, come by these means
† Locke upon the Human Understanding, 1. 1. p. 21.
in the folio edition.
“ to have the reputation of unquestionable, “ self-evident, and innate truths.
“ This is evidently the case of all chil« dren and young folk; and custom, a greater
power than nature, seldom failing to make “ them worship for divine, what she hath « inured them to bow their minds and sub« mit their understandings to, it is no won“ der that grown men, either perplexed in “ the necessary affairs of life, or hot in the “ pursuit of pleasures, should not feriously fit “ down to examine their own tenets, espe
cially as one of their principles is, that
principles ought not to be questioned. “ And had men leisure, parts, and will, who “ is there almost, that dare shake the foun" dation of all his past thoughts and actions, “ and endure to bring upon himself the « shame of having been a long time wholly « in mistake and error? Who is there hardy enough to contend with the reproach, which
every where prepared for those, who dare “ to venture to dissent from the received opi« nions of their country or party ?”
Thus doth this great philosopher not only recommend, but infilt upon, the necessity of every one's freely examining the principles of his own political and civil conduct. And
affect to illumia
when I enter upon the awful task, I shield myself under the duty of patriotism, against the disheartening efforts of opposition, and the galling taunts of arrogance and presumption. I am fully aware of the hackneyed af- Modern writers fectation, with which many modern writers nate mankind, assume the exclusive privilege of illuminating mankind; as if our predecessors had worked through their lives, like moles in the dark, and had never risen into the light, but by the chance of their own blind direction, or to injure the ground, through which they had emerged from their dark recesses. Impressed, I presume, with this idea, did the late Dr. Price thus address himself to his audience, in a discourse, which has been fince printed * : “ Why are the nations of the world so “ patient under despotism? Why do they “ crouch to tyrants, or submit to be treated, « as if they were a herd of cattle? Is it not “ because they are kept in darkness, and
want knowledge?-Enlighten them, and you will elevate them; shew them they
are men, and they will act like men; give “ them just ideas of civil government, and
let them know, that it is an expedient for
* Dr. Price's Discourse on the Love of our Country, p. 12.
zation is to al
gaining protection against injury, and de
fending their rights, and it will be impossi« ble for them to submit to governments, “ which, like most of those now in the world,
are usurpations on the rights of men, and “ little better than contrivances for enabling
" the few to oppress the many. The true prin
The first principle of the true equalization ciple of equali- of inankind is to assume no right to ourwhat we claim selves, which we deny to others. As, there
fore, I am unwilling to submit my own assent to any principles, or doctrines grounded upon them, without previous investigation and difcussion ; eso do I presume and admit the same right in others, in the most unexceptionable latitude. To them I allow the most unbiassed freedom of judgment, because the fame I claim to myself. And as I experience no small degree of indignation, when the difference of my opinion from that of others is attributed to ignorance; fo do I feel an equal degree of indelicacy, in ascribing the disagreement of that of others from my own to ignorance of the question in agitation be
Truth to be
and fought impartially from all important subject of the Rights of Man, I
have endeavoured to draw knowledge and iiformation from every source, from which
I thought it likely to spring. Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri, I as readily admit of a true proposition laid down by a tory, as by a whig, by a puritan as by a church-man, by a leveller as by a royalist. If my labours, and researches do in the smallest degree contribute to settle the minds of my countrymen upon the subject, that reward will satisfy my proudest expectations.
* Whenever " the interests of truth and liberty are at“ tacked, it is to be wished, that some would
in their defence, whether they acquit themselves better, than their prede“ cessors in the same good old cause or not. “ New books, in defence of any principles
whatever, will be read by many persons, “who will not look into old books for the
proper answers to them.”
We are affured, from the unerring authority of the holy Bible, that the days of man have been much curtciled, since he was first formed by his creator ; and we may rationally infer, that the natural strength, vigor, and power of that body, which was to last many hundred years, were greater, than what are merely requisite to support it through a tenth part of that period; but I can no where
* Preface to Dr. Prie.lley's Exay on the First Principles of Government.