« PreviousContinue »
<< were imputed to herself: fo that at "this time fhe has hardly a place in the "world to retire to. One would wonder "what ftrange qualities this daughter must "poffefs, fufficient to blaft the influence "of fo divine a mother, and the rest of her "children. She always affected to keep mean and fcandalous company; valuing "no body, but juft as they agreed with "her in every capricious opinion she thought fit to take up; and rigorously "exacting compliance, though fhe chang"ed her fentiments ever fo often. Her great employment was to breed difcord among friends and relations, and make up "monftrous alliances between thofe, whofe difpofitions leaft refembled each other. "Whoever offered to contradict her, though " in the most infignificant trifle, she would "be fure to distinguish by fome ignominious appellation, and allow them to have "neither honour, wit, beauty, learning, honesty, or common fenfe. She intruded "into all companies at the most unseason"able times; mixed at balls, affemblies, "and other parties of pleasure, haunted every coffee-house and bookfeller's fhop, and P 4
by her perpetual talking filled all places "with disturbance and confufion: fhe "buzzed about the merchant in the Ex"change, the divine in his pulpit, and the Shopkeeper behind his counter. Above all, "The frequented publick affemblies, where "fhe fat in the shape of an obscene, ominous bird, ready to prompt her friends as they fpoke.'
If I understand this fable of FACTION right, it ought to be applied to thofe, who fet themselves up against the true interest and conftitution of their country; which I wish the undertakers for the late ministry would please to take notice of, or tell us by what figure of speech they pretend to call fo great and unforced a majority, with the queen at their head, by the name of the faction; which is not unlike the phrase of the nonjurors, who dignifying one or two deprived bishops and half a score clergymen of the fame ftamp with the title of the church of England, exclude all the rest as fchifmaticks; or like the prefbyterians laying the fame accufation, with equal juftice, against the established religion.
And here it may be worth enquiring, what are the true characteristicks of a faEtion; or how it is to be diftinguished from that great body of the people, who are friends to the constitution? The heads of a faction are usually a fett of upftarts, or men ruined in their fortunes, whom fome great change in a government did at firft out of their obfcurity produce upon the ftage. They affociate themselves with those who diflike the old establishment, religious and civil. They are full of new schemes in politicks and divinity; they have an incurable hatred against the old nobility, and ftrengthen their party by dependents raised from the lowest of the people. They have feveral ways of working themfelves into power; but they are fure to be called, when a corrupt administration wants to be fupported against those who are endeavouring at a reformation; and they firmly observe that celebrated maxim of preferving power by the fame arts, by which it is attained. They act with the spirit of thofe, who believe their time is but short; and their first care is to heap up immenfe riches at the publick expence; in which they have two ends
befides that common one of infatiable avarice, which are to make themselves neceffary, and to keep the commonwealth in dependence. Thus they hope to compafs their defign, which is, inftead of fitting their principles to the conftitution, to alter and adjust the constitution to their own pernicious principles.
It is eafy determining by this teft, to which fide the name of faction most properly belongs. But however, I will give them any system of law or regal government, from William the conqueror to this present time, to try whether they can tally it with their late models; excepting only that of Cromwell, whom perhaps they will reckon for a monarch.
If the present ministry, and so great a majority in the parliament and kingdom, be only a faction, it must appear by fome actions, which answer the idea we ufually conceive from that word. Have they abufed the prerogative of the prince, or invaded the rights and liberties of the subject? Have they offered at any dangerous innovations in church or ftate? Have they broached any doctrine of herefy, rebellion,
or tyranny? Have any of them treated their fovereign with infolence, engroffed and fold all her favours, or deceived her by base, grofs mifreprefentations of her moft faithful fervants? These are the arts of a faction, and whoever hath practifed them, they and their followers must take up with the name.
It is ufually reckoned a whig principle to appeal to the people; but that is only when they have been fo wife as to poifon their understandings beforehand. Will they now ftand to this appeal, and be determined by their vox populi, to which fide their title of faction belongs? And that the people are now left to the natural freedom of their understanding and choice, I believe our adverfaries will hardly deny. They will now refufe this appeal, and it is reasonable they fhould; and I will farther add, that, if our people refembled the old Grecians, there might be danger in fuch a trial. A pragmatical orator told a great man at Athens, that whenever the people were in their rage, they would certainly tear him to pieces; Yes, fays the other, and they will do the fame to you, when