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INTRODUCTORY

CONSIDERATION S.

W

his own.

HEN I profess to have undertaken The impor

the arduous task of discussing the subject. Rights of Englishmen, I shudder at every view, which presents itself, in the vast variety of difficulties, that threaten me in the execution of the design. The magnitude and importance of the subject call aloud for the exertions of every man, who makes his country's cause

No subject so deeply affects us as citizens; no subject, in fo short a period, ever produced such a variety of discussions, differtations, and arguments; and I fear, that I am but too fully warranted in asserting, that no subject has ever been more misconceived, more misrepresented, more misapplied.

WI we see men of the most enlightened minds differ so widely upon principles apparently clear and uncontrovertible; when we read works of great erudition and strength of argument written

upon these principles, to inculcate doctrines the most repugnant and

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contradictory; when, in the various revolutions of empires, we see the most opposite

effects produced by these very principles, Misconception,

what other conclusion can be drawn, than misrepresenta that the principles themselves have been mifthe principles. conceived, misrepresented, and misapplied ?

It would derogate from the dignity of the subject under our confideration, were I to descend into personal altercation or controversy with the different persons, who have already, by their publications, taken a decifive part in the agitation of the question: a question the most elevated, dignified, and important, that can employ the mind of man, as it most essentially affects his hap

piness, welfare, and existence, in this state of Apology for

mortality. An eloquent writer has afforded this publication.

me a most confolatory apology for offering to the public my humble efforts, after the exertion of so many others of superior talents, information, and experience*. “Too many “ minds cannot be employed on a contro“ versy so immense, as to present the most « various aspects to different understandings, “ and so important, that the more correct « statement of one fact, or the more success“ ful illustration of one argument, will ar

* Mr. Macintosh's Advertisement to his Vindiciæ Gallicæ.

“ least

Chancellor

alted ideas of

" least rescue a book from the imputation of

having been written in vain.”

In the combination of the political cira cumstances of the present day, I know not how I can render a more effential service to my country, than by endeavouring faithfully to represent, and strongly to impress the minds of my countrymen with the true genuine principles of the Rights of Man ; for

upon this bafis hath been raised the most brilliant and stupendous work of human economy, the blessed and glorious constitution of the British empire. The great Chancellor Fortescue entertained so sublime an Fortescue's ex. idea of it, as early as in the fourteenth cen- our laws. tury, that he said *: « And for the same “ reason it is, that + St. Thomas is supposed

to wish, that all the kingdoms and nations " in the world were governed, in the politi" cal way, as we are.” And the same learned Chancellor, in the instructions, which

gave to his royal pupil Prince Edward, the eldest son of King Henry the Sixth, carries his encomium of our laws and constitution to the very highest possible hyperbole I:

Rejoice, therefore, my good Prince, that
* De Laud. Leg. Ang. c. xxxvii. p. 86:

+ This idea of St. Thomas Aquinas is taken from his
book De Regimine Principum.
1 De Laud. Leg. Ang. c. ix. p. 18.
B 2.

< such

he

Reasons for avoiding any foreign matter.

such is the law of the kingdom, which you

are to inherit, because it will afford both « to yourself and subjects the greatest secu“ rity and satisfaction. With such a law, " says the same St. Thomas, all mankind « would have been governed, if in paradise

they had not transgressed the law of God.” The preference and superiority, which our conftitution claims over every other known political form of government, will confine my considerations solely to mine own country. The introduction of foreign matter, besides diverting our minds from the proper attention to ourselves, would argue an inadequacy in our establishment to elucidate and enforce the fundamental principles of our constitution, which are, in fact no other, than those of the Rights of Man.

Enlightened as the present age is, or pretends to be, it must appear highly paradoxical, that there should exist a question of difference upon principles apparently so clear and perspicuous, that, like other first principles in philosophy, they are to be taken upon credit, and submitted to without hesitation; for perspicua non funt probanda. * “What our “ predecessors took great pains to prove, we

• Third Letter to Mr. Burke, p. 23.

now

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