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dangerous: which, in the present circle of fcriblers, from twelve-pence to a halfpenny, I could easily foresee would not very frequently occur. But here again I am forced to dispense with my
resolution, although it be only to tell my reader, what measures I am like to take on such occasions for the future. I was told, that the paper called The Observator was twice filled last week with remarks upon a late Examiner. These I read with the first opportunity, and to speak in the newswriters phrase, they give me occasion for many speculations. Í observed with singular pleasure the nature of those things, which the owners of them usually call Answers, and with what dexterity this matchless author had fallen into the whole art and cant of them. To transcribe here and there three or four detached lines of least weight in a discourse, and by a foolish comment mistake every syllable of the meaning, is what I have known many of a superior class to this formidable adversary entitle an Answer. This is what he hath exactly done in about thrice as many words as my whole discourse; which is so mighty an advantage over me, that I shall by no means engage in so unequal a combat; but, as far as I can judge of my own temper, entirely dismiss him for the future; heartily wishing he had a match exactly of his own fize to meddle with, who should only have the odds of truth and honesty, which, as I take it, would be an effectual way to silence him for ever. Upon this occasion I cannot forbear a short story of a fanatick farmer, who lived in my neighbourhood, and was so great a disputant in religion, that the servants in all the families thereabouts reported, how he had confuted the bishop and all his clergy. I had then a footman, who was fond of reading the Bible; and I borrowed a comment for him, which he studied so close, that in a month or two I thought him a match for the farmer. They disputed at several houses with a ring of servants and other people always about them; where Ned explained his texts fo full and clear to the capacity of his audience, and shewed the insignificancy of his adversary’s cant to the meanest understanding, that he got the whole country
of his side, and the farmer was cured of his itch of disputation for ever after.
The worst of it is, that this sort of outrageous party-writers I have spoke of above, are like a couple of make-bates, who inflame small quarrels by a thousand ftories, and by keeping friends at a distance hinder them from coming to a good understanding; as they certainly would, if they were suffered to meet and debate between themselves : for let any one examine a reasonable honest man of either side upon those opinions in religion and government, which both parties daily buffet each other about; he shall hardly find one material point in difference between them. I would be glad to ask a question about two great men of the late ministry, How they came to be Whigs? And, by what figure of speech half a dozen others, lately put into great employments, can be called Tories? I doubt whoever would suit the definition to the persons, must make it directly contrary to what we understood it at the time of the revolution.
In order to remove these misapprehenfions among us, I believe, it will be neces
fary upon occasion to detect the malice and failhood of some popular maxims, which those idiots scatter from the press twice a week, and draw an hundred absurd consequences from them.
For example; I have heard it often objected as a great piece of insolence in the clergy and others to say or hint, that the church was in danger, when it was voted otherwise in parliament some years ago; and the queen herself, in her last speech, did openly condemn all such insinuations. Notwithstanding which, I did then, and do still, believe the church hath, since that vote, been in very imminent danger; and I think I might then have said so without the least offence to her majesty, or either of the two houses. The queen's words, as near as I can remember, mentioned the church being in danger from her adminiftration; and whoever says or thinks that, deserves, in my opinion, to be hanged for a traitor : but, that the church and state may be both in danger under the best princes that ever reigned, and without the least guilt of theirs, is such a truth, as a man must be a great stranger to history
and common sense to doubt. The wifeft prince on earth may be forced by the necessity of his affairs, and the present power of an unruly faction, or deceived by the craft of ill-designing men. One or two ministers, most in his confidence, may at first have good intentions, but grow corrupted by time, by avarice, by love, by ambition, and have fairer terms offered them to gratify their passions or interests from one sett of men than another, until they are too far involved for a retreat ; and so be forced to take seven Spirits more wicked than themselves. This is a very possible case; and will not the last state of such men be worse than the first? that is to say, will not the publick, which was safe at first, grow in danger by such proceedings as these? And shall a faithful subject, who forfees and trembles at the confequences, be called disaffeeted, because he delivers his opinion, although the prince declares, as he justly may, that the danger is not owing to his administration ? Or shall the prince himself be blamed, when, in such a juncture, he puts his affairs into other hands with the uuiversal applause of