Imágenes de páginas

First, I always declared myself against a Popish fuccessor to the crown, whatever title he might have by the proximity of blood: neither did I ever regard the right line, except upon two accounts: first, as it was established by law; and secondly, as it hath much weight in the opinions of the people. For necessity inay abolish any law, but cannot alter the sentiments of the vulgar; right of inheritance being perhaps the most popular of all topics; and therefore in great changes when that is broke, there will remain much heartbúrning and discontent among the meaner people; which (under a weak prince and corrupt adıninistration) may have the worst consequences upon the peace

of any state.

As to what is called a revolution. principle, my opinion was this: That whenever those evils whiclı usually attend and follow a violent change of govern ment, were not in probability so pernicious as the grievance we suffer under a present power, then the public good will justify such a revolution. And this I took to have been the case in the Prince of Orange's expedition, although in the consequences it produced some very bad effects, which are likely to stick long enough by us.

I had likewise in those days a mortal antipathy against standing armies in times of peace: because I always took standing armies to be only servants hired by the master of the family for keeping his own chil. dren in Clavery; and because I conceived, that a prince, who could not think himself secure without mercenary troops, must needs have a separate interest from that of his subjects. Although I am not ignorant of those artificial necessities which a corrupted ministry


[ocr errors]

can create, for keeping up forces to support a faction against the public interest.

As to parliaments, I adored the wisdom of that Gothic institution, which made them annual: and was confident our liberty could never be placed upon a firm soundation, until that ancient law were restored among us. For who sees not, that while such allemblies are perınitted to have a longer duration, there grows up a commerce. of corruption between the ministry and the deputies, wherein they both find their accounts, to the manifest danger of liberty? which traffic would neither answer the design nor expense, if parliaments met once a year.

I ever abominated that scheme of politics, (now about thirty years old), of setting up a moneyed interest in opposition to the landed. For I conceived, there could not be a truer maxim in our government than this, That the pofleflors of the soil are the best judges of what is for the advantage of the kingdom. If others had thought the same way, funds of credit and South - sea projects would neither have been felt nor heard of.

I could never discover the necessity of suspending any law upon which the liberty of the most innocent persons depended; neither do I think this practice hath 'made the taste of arbitrary power so agreeable, as that we should defire to see it repeated. Every rebellion Tubdued and plot discovered, contribute to the firmer establishment of the prince : in the latter case, the knot of confpirators is entirely broke, and they are to begin their work anew under à thousand disadvantages; fo. that those diligent inquiries into remote and problematical guilt, with a new power of enforcing them bý

I 5


chains and dungeons to every person, whose face a minister thinks fit to dislike, are not only opposite to that inaxim, which declareth it better, that ten guilty men should escape, than one innocent fuffer; but likewise leave a gate wide, open' to the whole tribe of infor: mers, the most accursed, and prostitute, and abandoned race,

that God ever permitted to plague znankind:


It is true, the Romans had a custom of chusing a dictator, during whose administration the power of other magistrates was suspended; but this was done upon the greatest emergencies; a war near their doors, or some civil dillension: for arinies must be governed by arbitrary, power. But when the virtue of that cominonwealth gave place to luxury and anıbition, this very office of dictator became perpetual in the persons of the Caesars and their successors, the most infamous tyrants tha: have anywhere appeared in story. ,

These are some of the sentiments I had relating to public affairs, while I was in the world : what they are at present, is of little importance either to that or inyself; neither can I truly say I have any at all, or, if I had, I dare not venture to publish thein: for however orthodox they may be while I am now writing, they inay become criminal enough to bring me into trouble before mid - Suinmer. And indeed I have often wished for some time past, that a political catechilm night be published by authority four times a-year, in order to instruct us how we are to speak, write, and act, during the curring quarter. I have by experience felt the want of such an instructor: for, intending to make my court to some people on the prevailing lide by advancing certain old whigs fh prin


[ocr errors]

ciples, which, it seems, had been exploded a month before, I have passed for a disaffected person. I am not ignorant how idle a thing it is, for a man in obscurity to attempt defending his reputation as a writer, while the spirit of faction hath so universally possessed the minds of men, that they are not at leisure to attend to any thing else. They will just give themselves time to libel and accuse ane, but cannot (pare a minute to hear my defence. So in a plot-discovering age, I have often known an innocent man seized and imprisoned, and forced to lie several months in chains, while the mninisters were not at leifure to hear his petition, until.they'had prosecuted and hanged the number they proposed.

All I can reasonably hope for by this letter, is to convince my friends, and others who are pleased to wish me well, that I have neither been so ill a subject, nor so stupid an author, as I have been represented by the virulence of libellers, whose malice hath taken the same train in both, by fathering dangerous principles in government upon me, which I never maintained, and infipid productions, which I am not capable of writing. For, however I may have been soured by personal ill-treatment, or by melancholy prospects for the public, I am too inuch a politician to expose my own safety by offensive words. And, if my genius and fpirit be sunk by increasing years, I have at least enough discretion left, not to mistake the measure of my own abilities, by attempting subjects where those talents are necellary, which perhaps I inay have lost with my youth.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Nit der ansehnlichen und vorhandigen Ausgabe seiner Ges. dichte,'welche Grap's vertrauter Freund, william Jiaron, im Jahr 1775 veranstaltete, berband derfelbe die Denkovärdigkeiten seines Lebens, die auch ins Deutsche überseßt find. Unter dens felben befinden fich mehrere schön geschriebene Briefe des für Geschmack und stunst invigft fühlenden Mannes, die größten . theils mährend seiner Reise durch die Schweiz und Italien ges fchrieben, und so angenehmen als unterrichtenden Inhalts find. Von dieser Art ist der zweite 'hier abgedruckte Brief; und der erfte aus seinen frühern Jahren, berråth fchon den poetischen Gesichtspunkt, aus welchem Gray, noch ein junger Studiren: per, die ihm damals nahen und gewähulichen Gegenfånde anjah.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

You must know that I do not take degrees, and, after this term, shall have nothing more of college impertipencies to undergo, which I trust will be some pleasure to you, as it is a great one to me. I have endured lectures daily and hourly since I came last, supported by the hopes of being shortly at full liberty to give myself up to my friends and classical companions, who, poor souls! though I see them fallen into great contempt with most people here, yet I cannot help sticking to them, and out of a spirit of obstinacy (I think) love



« AnteriorContinuar »