Imatges de pÓgina

Neceflity of forming our principles of policy.

portant fubject; not being fenfible of any
biafs to mislead me in my inquiries, and con-
fcious of the uprightnefs of my intentions, I
freely fubmit my thoughts to the examination
of all impartial judges, and the friends of their
and of mankind. They, who know
the fervour of generous feelings, will be fen-
fible, that I have expreffed myself with no
more warmth, than the importance of the
fubject neceffarily prompted, in a breast not
naturally the coldeft; and that to have ap-
peared more indifferent, I could not have
been fincere."


I am fenfible, that I have undertaken a very perilous tafk; periculofe plenum opus alea. From the open and boafted wishes, and the actual attempts of many individuals to alter or fubvert the prefent form of our government, I have found it incumbent upon me to examine and regulate my fubordinate civil duties upon fome fixt principles of immutable policy. I entered upon the task with much earneftnefs, and perfectly unbiaffed by any party; in my progress I have seen and trembled at many rocks, againft which whole. parties have appeared to me blindly and voluntarily to have run; by varying my course, I flatter myself I have avoided them; and if my difcoveries be juft, I know of no confideration,

consideration, that can dispense with my submitting to my countrymen a new chart of that coast, upon which fo many of them have unfortunately perished.

Whatever divifions of parties have existed in our country for these three laft centuries, whether between the retainers and reformers of the old religion, between the church and the prefbytery, the round heads and the royalifts, the whigs and the tories, the nonjurors and the revolutionifts, the original efficient caufes of the several divifions into party have ceafed or nearly disappeared in the variety and change of circumftances, which the kingdom has fince experienced. Such (if any) of these parties as ftill fubfift, feem rather to have received a mere nominal existence by hereditary defcent, than to retain any of their conftituent parts or fundamental properties. The nation, in fact, at prefent appears to me to be divided into two parties only, which have abforbed all the other; the contents with the prefent establishment, and the non-contents. The former far exceed the latter in numbers; and from the nature of the divifion, the majority must be actuated by a more uniform principle, than the minority. For the approbation of the particular conftitution and government, which


Little remains

of the old fpirit of different par


Prefent parties non-contents.

of contert, and

motives of the wahontents.

the nation has received from their ancestors, retains the majority in one body; whereas, the diflike of the whole, or part of the fame conftitution and government; the preference of any other, than the established religion and Principles and government; the averfion from any church or ftate establishment whatever; the withes and expectancies of the indigent and diftreffed to profit by a system of equalization; the allurements of a fcramble to luft, avarice, and ambition; the perfonal envy, jealoufy, hatred, infult, injury, difappointment, or loffes of individuals, are amongst the multifarious motives, reafons, and inducements, which bring together a fet of difcordant individuals, who, from the moment, and by the terms of their engagement, facrifice their several heterogeneous principles to the common erected ftandard of difcontent; for in the political, as well as in the phyfical fyftem, the moft oppofite ingredients may, like vinegar and oil, be fo incorporated as to bear the appearance of a perfect coalition. When, therefore, I fhall in future confider or speak of this oppofite party, which I fhall in general call the minority, I fhall drop every idea of the nature of their original component parts, and distinguish them only from their opponents by that common quality, which confti


[ocr errors]

tutes them a party of malcontents, in oppo-
fition to the majority of the community, who
are happy under, and therefore wifh and
intend to preserve the prefent form of their
conftitution and government..

Whoever views with perfect impartiality
the prefent internal political ftate of this
country, will, I am confident, readily admit,
that it would be a fruitless attempt to fingle
out one individual from the whole minority,
who fides with that party, merely from the
motives, which distinguished one of the old
parties of this country from the other, at the
time of their original formation.

I may, perhaps, be fingular, (this publication will prove how far I am warrantable) in attributing the formation, the continuance and the encreafe of all fuch parties, as have at different times divided our country, to the inconfiderate and hafty, though, perhaps, well meant denial of true principles. It is no lefs fingular than true, that the churchman, the royalist, and the tory, admitting and withing to preferve the true conftitutional form of the government in being, were so blinded in their zeal, as to deny the truth of firft principles, upon which the puritan, the independant, and the republican, unwarrantably engrafted the falfeft doctrines. Instead of 9 fhewing,

arife from the

Greatest evils inconfiderate principles.

denial of true

[ocr errors]

fhewing, that these doctrines were not confequences deducible from the principles, (for every confequence is virtually contained in its premises), they denied abfolutely the principles, which were true, because they difapproved of doctrines, which were falfe, and which, confequently, could not be fairly drawn from true principles. Thus, when the alterations and differences of the oppofite parties came to be publicly agitated, they feldom went further, than the truth or falfity of the principles themselves; in which contefts the strength of the argument was.neceffarily with thofe, who contended for the principles; and whilft that party had the addrefs to keep up the controverfy upon this ground only, they were fure of making profelytes of all thofe, who had refolution or ability to form a judgment of their own.

The misfortunes, which have heretofore happened to our unhappy country, from the contests of these oppofite parties, are of too ferious a nature not to rouze every true patriot to the exertion of his utmost efforts to prevent a repetition of them. Nothing can be more certain, than that a party of no inconfiderable number of malcontents does at this moment exift in this country; nothing more evident, than that the party will gain



« AnteriorContinua »