Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

wantonly stigmatized our backs, and chalked us out for laughing-stocks? Have they not lifted their hands against the peers of the realm? Have they not, without judge or jury, burned one of them in sarcastic effigy ? Have they not insulted the prime minister in sight of the senate-house? Have they not mobbed the first magistrate of the city of London, in the Mansion-house? And almost mobbed the king himself in his own palace? And all this under pretence of liberty! O Sir, if this be the beginning of liberty, how dreadful will be the end! Is not the tyrannical Scylla, upon whom you so eagerly push us, more dreadful than even the Charybdis, from which you fancy we are in so great danger? What

prejudiced citizen would not prefer the light yoke of the present government, to the ponderous yoke of such anarchy? And what undesigning Briton will not (upon second thoughts) choose to honour King George, rather than to tremble and fall down before king mob?

Should you do these observations justice, I hope, Sir, you will see, that to overdo, in Constitutional doctrines, is as dangerous to the State, as to overdo, in Evangelical doctrines, is perilous to the Church. If we miss the medium of wisdom and moderation, it little matters whether we miss it, by going out of the way on the right hand, or on the left; it does not signify which of the two we countenance in the church;-Pharisaism, or Antinomianism: It is indifferent which of the two we set up in the State an arbitrary king, or an arbitrary mob. Nay, I repeat it; of the two political extremes, the latter is so much worse than the former, as it is more dreadful to be under the dominion of millions of lawless tyrants, whom you may meet every where, and who inflame, screen, and hide one another; than to be under the dominion of one lawless tyrant, who can be but in one place at once, and who stands so exposed to public view, that he cannot, without folly, hope to conceal his enormities.

But thanks be to Divine Providence, and to the wisdom of our ancestors, our Constitution (defective as you

high, monarchical extreme; and the high, republic extreme: It equally guards against the opposite erro of Dr. Sacheverel and Oliver Cromwell. For the libe ties of mankind are alternately struck at, on the rig hand, by lawless kings; and on the left, by lawle mobs: But the balance is wisely kept by our two house of parliament, whose most important and delicate bus: ness is (if I mistake it not) to hinder the scale of th king from unconstitutionally outweighing that of th people, as arbitrary monarchs could wish: And to pre vent the scale of the people from making that of th king kick the beam, as tyrannical mobs desire. Th present king follows the laws, as his royal ancestor: have done before him. He takes no capital step withou his parliament; and therefore, at present, we are under no danger on his side. But I cannot say this of the people; they are inflamed by designing or enthusiastical republicans; they avowedly break the laws-they glory in doing it; they take up arms against the king and parliament; they commit outrages. Therefore all our danger is, at present, from king mob; and this danger is so much the greater, as some Dissenters among us, who were quiet in the late reign, and thought themselves happy under the protection of the Toleration-act, grow restless, begin openly to countenance their dissatisfied brethren in America, and make it a point of conscience to foment divisions in the kingdom. Whether they do it merely from a brotherly regard to the Colonists, who chiefly worship God according to the dissenting plan; or whether they hope that a revolution on the continent would be naturally productive of a revolution in England; that a revolution in the State here, would draw after it a revolution in the Church; and that, if the Church of England were once shaken, the dissenting Churches among us might raise themselves upon her ruins; whether, I say, there is something of this under the cry of slavery and robbery, which you set up, is a question, which, I said, in the preceding editions, you could determine far better than I : But now I recal it; because, though I may consider that part of the contro

versy in that unfavourable light as a Politician; yet, as a Christian, I ought to think and hope the best.

It is the custom of most controvertists, to raise a variety of objections against the system of their opponents, whilst they overlook the greatest difficulties which attend their own system. Lest you should think, Sir, that I follow this disingenuous method, I will now answer the grand question which you propose to Mr. Wesley : "If every man who is taxed without his consent is not a slave, wherein consists the difference between slavery and liberty ?"

If you mean by a slave, one who is bought with money, as the Negroes are by the Colonists, your question is unwise; for every body knows, that such slaves, having nothing at all, can never be taxed. When they work, their masters receive the wages; when they bear children, they bear them for their masters: Their own body is the property of another. Since, therefore, they have no property, to talk of their being taxed with, or without their consent, is absurd.

But if, by a slave, you mean a subject oppressed by a tyrannical Sovereign: I reply, that the difference between such slaves and the subjects of Great Britain, who have no share in the legislature, is prodigious. A slave, in this sense of the word, is not only taxed as happy subjects are, but he is taxed without proportion, without judgment, and without mercy. The taxes laid on him are so many, and so heavy, that he can hardly bear the burden, supposing he does not quite sink under it. If he dissent from the established mode of worship, he cannot serve God according to his conscience, without being disturbed and insulted by a profane populace, who are countenanced and encouraged by persecuting magistrates. Nay, it is well, if he be not prosecuted, fined, imprisoned, or put to death. If he be committed to gaol, he can never be bailed out on any occasion.-If he be sent to prison ever so unjustly, he can recover no damages for false imprisonment; if he be wronged of his property, in a variety of cases, at the peril of his

of his good name, he cannot recover it by law, togeth with suitable damages. If his bed be defiled, he c get no satisfaction for that capital injury: His hou can be forcibly entered into at any time; he is oblige to work so long for the Sovereign gratis, that he cann mind his own business; if he be wantonly struck by great man, there is no law for him, and the wisest thin which he can do, is to say nothing; if he be murdered little or no notice is taken of it; a plebeian assassin ca easily make his escape, and nobody dares prosecute noble murderer. If he freely speak his mind, eithe upon religious subjects, or political affairs, he is sum moned before an ecclesiastical and civil inquisitor; and it is well if he escape with the reprimand, which a chie magistrate in a mild republic gave to a gentleman of my acquaintance, who modestly hinted at a method of redressing an avowed grievance: "Who has appointed you, Sir, a teacher of your sovereigns? They know their business: Learn to know your own." But what is worst of all, if he be capitally accused, his accusers are perhaps his judge and jury. He is put in a dungeon, without knowing why; his witnesses are not suffered to speak for him; he is kept so long on the rack, that he is perhaps obliged to turn false accuser against himself. He is tried secretly. His fortune and life lie, possibly, at the mercy of two or three judges only. Nay, he may fall a sacrifice to the prejudice, caprice, envy, hatred, or hurry of one single man. Being tried by his peers, or by twelve of his fellow-citizens, is an invaluable blessing, of which he has not the least idea.

Not so the happy subjects of Great Britain. Whether they have a freehold or not, they all enjoy this advantage: And, if the law be put in force, they are partakers of all the branches of civil and religious liberty, which are opposed to the above-described branches of hard vassalage. And (what is most wonderful) the poor enjoy these blessings as well as the rich-the plebeian shares them with the nobleman. Hence it is, that the subjects of Great Britain are the freest of all the men, who live under any civil government in the world.

And hence it appears, that when you assert, there is no difference between having no share in legislation, and being an absolute slave, you display an amazing unaequaintedness with the civil governments of Europe; you betray an astonishing want of gratitude to God and the Sovereign, for the civil and religious liberty which we enjoy; and you verify the observation of an ingenious foreigner, who has lately written upon the British Constitution, and who intimates, The blessings of liberty are so familiar to the English, that they neither relish nor know them. They may, in this respect, be compared to the children of princes, who, being born and educated in a palace, are so accustomed to its elegance and grandeur, and so unacquainted with the sordidness of cottages, and the gloominess of dungeons, that they never heighten their happiness, and excite their gratitude, by comparing the blessings they enjoy with the hardships that others endure.

Just as this comparison may be, with respect to you, Sir, it can however hardly suit the case of many of the Colonists. Some of them, alas! know too well what tyranny and cruel servitude are. When poor, naked, bleeding slaves, ready to expire under the repeated strokes of a cutting whip, are obliged to keep their groans, and stifle their sighs, for fear of raising the cruelty of their tyrants to a higher pitch of fierceness: -When this is the case, I say; of all the men upon earth, it least becomes the hard masters-the domestic sovereigns of these poor creatures, to complain of the mild government they are under, and to scream, Tyranny! slavery! robbery! murder! And why?-Truly because some of them are enjoined to pay taxes, about thirty times lighter than those which millions of their fellow subjects, who have no votes, cheerfully pay in England: Because the Parliament will not suffer them to destroy, with impunity, the property of our merchants; and because the king will not have the collectors of the public revenue to be in continual danger of being murdered among them. O Partiality, how high is thy

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »