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Liberty never had a more weak and feeble advocate! The truth is, that throughout this whole chapter, whenever Mr. Locke argues clearly, ably, and satisfactorily, he argues in defence of the fyltem of Necessity, or of those principles which have an intimate and inseparable connection with it: whenever, on the other hand, he argues loosely, obscurely, and inconsistently, it is in defence of Liberty: and his embarrassment is so apparent, that it leads to an irresistible fufpicion that he was not unconscious of the futility of his own reasonings ; and his conduct can be accounted for, only by supposing that he had himself imbibed a great share of the popular dread and abhorrence of the system of Necessity, on account of its supposed dangerous and pernicious consequences, or that he resolved to sacrifice in this instance to popular prejudice, in order to render his work more generally acceptable and useful. Perhaps both motives might concur to influence him, but neither of them were worthy of so great a man; for truth ought not to be sacrificed to any views of temporary utility : and in this case, I am of opinion that the truth is highly beneficial, and that it deserves a very vourable and welcome reception. The dangerous consequences which many respectable persons are fo apprehensive of, I regard as entirely chimerical: It is evident that the doctrine of Necessity cannot, like the doctrine of Predestination or Fatalism, have any dangerous influence upon the bulk of mankind, for it is perfectly consistent with the popular ideas of Liberty, with the use of human endea: vours, of promises, threatenings, exhortations, rewards, and punishments. The Liberty of doing as they please, is the only Liberty which mankind in general can ever be brought to comprehend; fo that the doctrine of Philosophical Liberty, if true, as to them, is useless; and it must be allowed likewise upon the same grounds, that the doctrine of Philofophical Neceflity, if true, is as to them perfectly harmless : but to those who are capable of investigating the question, and who are induced by arguments of which they really comprehend the force, to embrace this opinion, it is not only harmless but highly beneficial : it opens new and extensive views of the divine government and administration; it enforces reverence to God, and benevolence to man, by motives far more powerful than any other system can possibly supply; and it excites the most animating expectations of a happy termination of all those mournful and calamitous scenes with which we are at present surrounded; and exhibits to our intellectual view a' glorious, however distant, prospect of a state in which, to use the beautiful language of holy writ, 6 God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes : and there shall be no more death, neither forrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain ; for the former things are passed away, and be: hold! all things are become new.”
E S S A Y XVI.
Review of the REIGN of CHARLES II.
N a former Essay I have endeavoured to exhibit
a juft, however general, view of the means by which a great and magnanimous Princess, who acceded to the crown in a crisis of peculiar difficulty and danger, extricated herself from her political embarrassments, and attained to the summit of temporal fame and prosperity. It may not, perhaps, be entirely useless to reverse the picture, and fhew how a Monarch, who was placed in a situation beyond all comparison more favourable at the commencement of his reign, became an object of fcorn and detestation long before the close of it. Charles II. was endowed by nature with qualities which gave him a just title to popularity; and his wonderful restoration to the crown of his ancestors, amidst the universal acclamations of his subjects, after twenty years of calamity and confusion, feemed to prognosticate a reign of unexampled felicity and glory. Adversity has been styled the School of Princes; and he poffessed a capacity which might have enabled him to derive the most essential benefits from its discipline. His knowledge, though'not extensive, or profound,
was of that species which in public life is of the highest importance; and which, if it had been rightly applied, would have conferred an honourable distinction upon his character. He was well acquainted with history and politics; he understood the interests of his country, and well knew the rank she was entitled to hold amongst the powers of Europe. He was poffeffed of the most infinuating and graceful address; and without departing from the dignity of his station, he knew how to charm all who approached his person, by the unaffected condescension and engaging affability of his manners. Notwithstanding, however, the flattering appearances which raised so high the hopes of his subjects, and the expectations of the world, without being chargeable with or even suspected of those enormous crimes which blacken the character of a Nero or a Caligula, or in modern times of a Christian II. an Alexander VI. or a Richard III. he incurred before the conclusion of his reign the indignation, the odium, and con. tempt friend of liberty and of virtue.
The declaration from Breda, the appointment of the Earl of Clarendon to the post of Prime Minister, the admission of Annefley, Ashley-Cooper, Hollis, Robarts, and Manchester, the leaders of the Presbyterian party, to the Royal Counsels, and the act of indemnity which was passed by the convention-parliament, were all measures of government well calculated to conciliate the affections of the nation, and to restore peace, order,
and general harmony: nay, the behaviour of the King, respecting the act of indemnity, seemed to exhibit a degree of generosity, to which the whole course of his future reign furnishes no similar instance. When the Earl of Bristol moved an exception to the proposed indemnity, of such a nature as in a great measure to defeat the design of it, the King came to the House of Peers, and, in very explicit terms, expressed his disapprobation of this step; and, in confequence of the royal interposition, the act passed without any farther de. lay or alteration. During the sitting of the Convention Parliament, in which the presbyterian interest predominated, and which regarded the proceedings of the government with a watchful and jealous eye, affairs were conducted with prudence and moderation. That assembly was disfolved in December 1660; and in May 1661, a new parliament was convened, which quickly appeared to be of a complexion very different from the preceding one, and from which the perfidy of the King, and the violent and wretched bigotry of the Earl of Clarendon, might expect the highest encouragement and applause. That celebrated minister was certainly possessed of very shining virtues, both in public and private life: his capacity, if not of the first rate, was however not inadequate to his elevated station; and his integrity and probity are universally acknowledged: he had the interests, not only of the King, but of the kingdom, really at heart; and though the measures