Page images

second time, and this even against those who first tried it upon them. I know not whether this opportunity I have mentioned could have been prevented by any care, without straining a very tender point; which those chiefly concerned avoided by all means, because it might seem a counterpart of what they had so much condemned in their predecessors; although it is certain the two cases were widely different; and if policy had once got the better of good nature, all had been safe, for there was no danger in view; but the consequences of this were foreseen from the beginning; and those who kept the watch had early warning of it. It would have been a masterpiece of prudence, in this case, to have made a friend of an enemy. But whether that were possible to be compassed, or whether it were ever attempted, is now too late to inquire. All accommodation was rendered desperate, by an unlucky proceeding some months ago at Windsor, which was a declaration of war, too frank and generous for that situation of affairs; and I am told was not approved of by a certain great minister *. It was obvious to suppose, that in a particular, where the honour and interest of a husband + were so closely united with those of a wife t, he might be sure of her utmost endeavours for his protection, although she neither loved nor esteemed him. The danger of losing power, fa◄ vour, profit, and shelter from domestick tyranny, were strong incitements to stir up a working brain, early practised in all the arts of intriguing. Neither is it safe to count upon the weakness of any man's understanding, who is thoroughly possessed with the spirit of revenge, to sharpen his invention: nothing else is required beside obsequiousness and assiduity; which, as they are often the talents of those who have

The lord treasurer. N.

+ The duke and duchess of Somerset. N.

no better, so they are apt to make impressions upon the best and greatest minds.

It was no small advantage to the designing party, that since the adventure at Windsor, the person on whom we so much depend*, was long absent by sickness; which hindered him from pursuing those measures, that ministers are in prudence forced to take, to defend their country and themselves against an irritated faction. The negotiators on the other side, improved this favourable conjuncture to the utmost; and by an unparalleled boldness, accompanied with many falsehoods, persuaded certain lords (who were already in the same principle, but were afraid of making a wrong step, lest it should lead them out of their coaches into the dirt) that voting in appearance against the court, would be the safest course to avoid the danger they most ap prehended, which was that of losing their pensions; and their opinions, when produced, by seemingly contradicting their interest, have an appearance of virtue into the bargain. This, with some arguments of more immediate power, went far in producing that strange unexpected turn we have so lately seen, and from which our adversaries reckoned upon such wonderful effects; and some of them, particu larly my lord chief justice, began to act as if all were already in their power.

But although the more immediate causes of this desertion were what I have above related, yet I am apt to think it would hardly have been attempted, of at least not have succeeded, but for a prevailing opinion, that the church party and the ministers had different views, or at least were not so firmly united as they ought to have been. It was commonly said, and I suppose not without some ground of truth, that many gentlemen of your club were dis

The lord treasurer. N

contented to find so little done; that they thought it looked as if the people were not in earnest; that they expected to see a thorough change with respect to employments; and although every man could not be provided for, yet when all places were filled with persons of good principles, there would be fewer complaints, and less danger from the other party; that this change was hoped for all last summer, and even to the opening of the session, yet nothing done. On the other hand, it was urged by some, in favour of the ministry, that it was impossible to find employments for one pretender in twenty; and therefore in gratifying one, nineteen would be disobliged; but while all had leave to hope, they would all endeavour to deserve: but this again was esteemed a very shallow policy, which was too .easily seen through, must soon come to an end, and would cause a general discontent, with twenty other objections to which it was liable: and indeed, considering the short life of ministers in our climate, it was, with some reason, thought a little hard, that those for whom any employment was intended, should by such a delay, be probably deprived of half their benefit; not to mention, that a ministry is best confirmed, when all inferiour officers are in its in

- terest.

I have set this cause of complaint in the strongest light, although my design is to endeavour that it should have no manner of weight with you, as I am confident our adversaries counted upon, and do still -expect to find mighty advantages by it.

But it is necessary to say something to this objec tion, which, in all appearance, lies so hard upon the present ministry. What shall I offer upon sq tender a point? how shall I convey an answer that none will apprehend, except those for whom I intend it? I have often pitied the condition of great ministers, upon several accounts; but never so much VOL. V.


upon any, as when their duty obliges them to bear the blame and envy of actions, for which they will not be answerable in the next world, though they dare not convince the present, till it is too late. This letter is sent you, gentlemen, from no mean hand, nor from a person uninformed, though, for the rest, as little concerned in point of interest for any change of ministry, as most others of his fellowsubjects. I may therefore assume so much to myself, as to desire you will depend upon it, that a short time will make manifest, how little the defect you complain of ought to lie at that door, where your enemies would be glad to see you place it. The wisest man, who is not very near the spring of affairs, but views them only in their issues and events, will be apt to fix applauses and reproaches in the wrong place; which is the true cause of a weakness, that I never yet knew great ministers without; I mean, their being deaf to all advice: for, if a person of the best understanding offers his opinion in a point where he is not master of all the circumstances, (which perhaps are not to be told) 'tis a hundred to one but he runs into an absurdity: whence it is, that ministers falsely conclude themselves to be equally wiser than others in general things, where the common reason of mankind ought to be the judge, and is probably less biassed than theirs. I have known a great man of excellent parts, blindly pursue a point of no importance, against the advice of every friend he had, till it ended in his ruin. I have seen great abilities rendered utterly useless, by unaccountable and unnecessary delay, and by difficulty of access, by which a thousand opportunities are suffered to escape. I have observed the strongest shoulders sink under too great a load of business, for want of dividing a due proportion among others. These, and more that might be named, are very obvious failings, which every rational man may be allowed to discern, as

well as lament; and wherein the wisest minister may receive advice from others, of inferiour understanding. But in those actions where we are not thoroughly informed of all the motives and circumstances, it is hardly possible that our judgment should not be mistaken. I have often been one of the company, where we have all blamed a measure taken, which has afterward proved the only one that could possibly have succeeded. Nay, I have known those very men, who have formerly been in the secret of affairs, when a new set of people hath come in, offering their refinements and conjectures in a very plausible manner upon what was passing, and widely err in all they advanced.

Whatever occasions may have been given for complaints that enough has not been done, those complaints should not be carried so far, as to make us forget what hath been done; which, at first, was a great deal more than we hoped, or thought prac ticable; and you may be assured, that so much cou rage and address were not employed in the beginning of so great a work, without a resolution of carrying it through, as fast as opportunities would offer. Any of the most sanguine gentlemen in your club, would' gladly have compounded two years ago, to have been assured of seeing affairs in the present situation: it is principally to the abilities of one great person, that you, gentlemen, owe the happiness of meeting together, to cultivate the good principles, and form yourselves into a body for defending your country, against a restless and dangerous faction. It is to the same we all owe that mighty change in the most important posts of the kingdom; that we see the sacred person of our prince encompassed by those, whom' we ourselves would have chosen, if it had been left to our power and if every thing besides that you could wish, has not been hitherto done, you will

« PreviousContinue »