« PreviousContinue »
cline one way
rally approves, thou
powers; which own. But this libert
with the very
few occasion ance, and then only
forhis own fide another and more public me
& innocency of a frien or our own conscienc or interest of a party our heads or our he be. Yet this very practice is the very fundamental law of each faction among us; as may be obvious to any, who will impartially, and without engagement, be at the pains to examine their actions : which, however, is not so easy a talk; for it seems a principle in human nature, to inH 3
and vieleńce, which subsisted in those times between the contending factions of Whig and Tery; and perhaps to recommend, in the place of that abominable rancour and malice, which had broken all the laws of charity and hospitality among human kind, those candid fàlutary principles, with respect to religion and government, which, if rightly comprehended, and vigorously pursued, might certainly preserve the whole constitution, both of church and state, for ten thousand generations. Swift.
This appears to be an apology for the Tories, and a justification of them against the misrepresentations of the Whigs, who were then in the ministry, and used every artifice to perpetuate their power. Mr. Harley, afterwards Lord Oxford, had, by the influence of the Duke of Marlborough, and Lord Treasurer Godolphin, been lately removed from his post of Principal Secretary of State; and Mr. St. John, afterwards Lord Bolingbroke, resigned his place of Secretary at War, and Sir Slinon Harcourt that of Attorney-General. Hawked
more than another, even in matwe are wholly unconcerned. And it mon observation, that in reading a his
facts done a thousand years ago, or standby at play among those who are perfect strangers to us, we are apt to find our hopes and wishes engaged on a sudden in favour of one side more than another. No wonder then that we are all fo ready to interest ourselves in the course of public affairs, where the most inconsiderable have fome real thare, and, by the wonderful importance which every man is of to himself, a very great imaginary one.
And, indeed, when the two parties that divide the whole commonwealth, come once to a rupture, without any hopes left of forming a third with better principles, to balance the others, it feens every man's duty to chuse one of the two fides, though he cannot entirely approve of either; and all pretences to neutrality are justly exploded by both, being too stale and obvious; only intending the safety and ease of a few indi- widuals, while the public is embroiled. This was the opinion and practice of the latter Cato, whom I efteem to have been the wifest and best of all the Romans. * But before things proceed to open violence, the truest service a private man may hope to do his country, is by unbiaffing his mind as much as poflible, and then endeavouring to moderate between the rival powers; which muft needs be owned a fair proceeding with the world; because it is, of all others, the least confistent with the common design of making a fortune by the merit of an opinion.
ing * One of the fextumvirate in Gulliver, part 3. chap. 7... vol. V.
I have gone as far as I am able, in qualifying myself to be such a moderator. I believe I am no bigot in religion, and I am sure I am none in government. I converse in full freedom with many considerable men of both parties; and if not in equal number, it is purely accidental and personal, as happening to be near the court, and to have made acquaintance there, more under one miniftry than another. Then I am not under the necessity of declaring myself by the prospect of an employment. And, lastly, if all this be not sufficient, I industriously conceal my name, which wholly exempts me from any hopes and fears in delivering my opinion.
In consequence of this free use of my reason, I cannot possibly think so well or so ill of either party, as they would endeavour to persuade the world of each other, and of themselves. For inftance, I do not charge it upon the body of the Whigs or the Tories, that their several principles lead them to introduce Presbytery, and the religion of the church of Rome, or a commonwealth, and arbitrary power. For why should any party be accused of a principle, which they folemnly disown and protest against ? But, to this, they have a mutual answer ready: they both assure us, that their adversaries are not to be believed ; tbat they disown their principles out of fear, which are manifeft enough, when we examine their practices. To prove this, they will produce instances, on one side, either of avowed Presbyterians, or persons of libertine and atheistical tenets; and on the other, of profeffed Papists, or such as are openly in the interest of the abdicated family. Now, it is very natural for all subordinate fects and denominations in a state, to side with some general party, and to chuse that which they find to agree with themselves in fome general principle. Thus, at the restoration, the Prefbyterians, Anabaptifts, Independents, and other fects, did all, with very good reason, unite and folder up their several schemes to join against the church; who, without regard to their distinctions, treated them all as equal adversaries. Thus our present diflenters do very naturally clofe in with the Whigs, who profess moderation ; declare they abhor all thoughts of persecution, and think it hard, that those who differ only in a few ceremonies and speculations, should be denied the privilege and profit of serving their country in the highest employments of state. Thus, the atheists, libertines, despisers of religion and revelation in general; that is to say, all those who usually pass under the name of Free-thinkers, do properly joïn with the fame body; because they likewise preach up moderation, and are not so over-nice to distinguish between an unlimited liberty of confci
that ences ou's
ence, and an unlimited freedom of opinion. Then, on the other fide, the profeffed firmness of the Tories for Episcopacy, as an apostolical institution; their aversion to those sects who ly under the reproach of having once destroyed their conftitution, and who, they imagine, by too indiscreet a zeal for reformation, have defaced the primitive model of the church; next, their moderation for monarchical government in the common course of succession, and their hatred to republican schemes: these, I say, are principles which not only the nonjuring zealots profess, but even papists themselves fall readily in with. And every extreme here mentioned, flings a general scandal upon the whole body it pretends to adhere to.
But furely no man whatsoever ought, in justice or good manners, to be charged with principles he actually difowns, unless his practices do openly, and without the least room for doubt, contradict his profession; not upon small furmifes, or becaufe he has the misfortune to have ill men sometimes agree with him in a few general fentiments. However, though the extremes of Whig and Tory seem, with little justice, to have drawn religion into their controversies, wherein they have small concern; yet they both have borrowed one leading principle from the abuse of it; which is, to have built their feveral systems of political faith, not upon enquiries after truth, but upon opposition to each other; upon injuri