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fection, may impose a while on the world ; but a little sooner or a little later the mystery will be revealed, and nothing will be found to be couched under it but á thread of pitiful expedients, the ultimate end of which never extended farther than living from day to day.
The following are some extracts from the conclusion of the Letter :
The exile of the royal family, under Cromwell's usurpation, was the principal cause of all those misfortunes in which Britain has been involved, as well as of many of those which have happened to the rest of Europe, during more than half a century.
The two brothers, Charles and James, became then infected with popery to such degrees as their different characters admitted of. Charles had parts; and his good understanding served as an antidote to repel the poison. James, the simplest man of his time, drank off the whole chalice. The poison met, in his composition, with all the fear, all the credulity, and all the obstinacy of temper proper to increase its virulence, and to strengthen its effect. The first had always a wrong bias upon liim : he connived at the establishment, and indirectly contributed to the growth, of that power, which afterwards disturbed the peace and threatened the liberty of Europe so often; but he went no farther out of the way. The opposition of his parliaments and his own reflections stopped him here. The prince and the people were indeed mutually jealous of one another, from which much present disorder flowed, and the foundation of future evils was laid ; but, his good and his bad principles combating still together, he maintained, during a reign of more than twenty years, in some tolerable degree, the authority of the crown and the flourishing estate of the nation. The last, drunk with superstitious and even enthusiastic zeal, ran headlong into his own ruin whilst he endeavoured to precipitate ours. His parliament and his people did all they could to save themselves by winning him. But all was vain: he had no principle on which they could take hold. Even his good qualities worked against them, and his love of his country went halves with his bigotry. How he succeeded we have heard from our fathers. The revolution of one thousand six hundred and eighty-eight saved the nation, and ruined the king.
Now the Pretender's education has rendered him infinitely less fit than his uncle, and at least as unfit as his father, to be king of Great Britain. Add to this, that there is no resource in his understanding. Men of the best sense find it hard to overcome religious prejudices, which are of all the strongest; but he is a slave to the weakest. The rod hangs like the sword of Damocles over his head, and he trembles before his mother and his priest. What, in the name of God, can any member of the Church of England promise himself from such a character ? Are we by another revolution to return into the same state from which we were delivered by the first? Let us take example from the Roman Catholics, who act very reasonably in refusing to submit to a Protestant prince. Henry the Fourth had at least as good a title to the throne of France as the Pretender has to
His religion alone stood in his way, and he had never been king if he had not removed that obstacle. Shall we submit to a popish prince, who will no more imitate Henry the Fourth in changing his religion, than he will imitate those shining qualities which rendered him the honestest gentleman, the bravest captain, and the greatest prince of his age ?
It may be said, and it has been urged to me, that if the Chevalier was restored, the knowledge of his character would be our security; foenum habet in cornu ;* there would be no pretence for trusting him, and by consequence it would be easy to put such restrictions on the exercise of the regal power as might hinder him from invading and sapping our religion and liberty. But this I utterly deny. Experience has shown us how ready men are to court power and profit; and who can
* He has a wisp of straw (the mark of a vicious animal) on his horn.-Horace.
determine how far either the Tories or the Whigs would comply in order to secure to themselves the enjoyment of all the places in the kingdom ? Suppose, however, that a majority of true Israelites should be found whom no temptation could oblige to bow the knee to Baal ; in order to preserve the government on one hand, must they not destroy it on the other ? The necessary restrictions would in this case be so many, and so important, as to leave hardly the shadow of a monarchy, if he submitted to them ; and, if he did not subnit to them, these patriots would have no resource left but in rebellion. Thus, therefore, the affair would turn, if the Pretender was restored. We might most probably lose our religion and liberty by the bigotry of the prince and the corruption of the people. We should have no chance of preserving them, but by an entire change of the whole frame of our government, or by another revolution. What reasonable man would voluntarily reduce himself to the necessity of making an option among such melancholy alternatives ?
Whilst the Pretender and his successors forbore to attack the religion and liberty of the nation, we should remain in the condition of those people who labour under a broken constitution, or who carry about with them some chronical distemper. They feel a little pain at every moment; or a certain uneasiness, which is sometimes less tolerable than pain, hangs continually on them, and they languish in the constant expectation of dying, perhaps in the severest torture.
But, if the fear of hell should dissipate all other fears in the Pretender's mind, and carry him, which is frequently the effect of that passion, to the most desperate undertakings ; if among his successors a man bold enough to make the attempt should arise, the condition of the British nation would be still more deplorable. The attempt succeeding, we should fall into tyranny; for a change of religion could never be brought about by consent; and the same force that would be sufficient to enslave our consciences would be sufficient for all other purposes of arbitrary power. The attempt failing, we should fall into anarchy; for there is no medium when disputes between a prince and his people are arrived at a certain point: he must either be submitted to or deposed.
In one of the passages in which he commemorates the friendship of Swift, Atterbury, and Bolingbroke, Pope records also the encouragement his earliest performances in rhyme received from a poet and man of wit of the opposite party, “ well-natured Garth."* Sir Samuel Garth, who was an eminent physician and a zealous Whig, is the author of various poetical pieces published in the reigns of William and Anne, of which the one of greatest pretension is that entitled The Dispensary, a mock epic, in six short cantos, on the quarrels of his professional brethren, which appeared in 1699. The wit of this slight performance may have somewhat evaporated with age, but it cannot have been at any time very pungent. A much more voluminous, and als bitious, Whig poet of this Augustan age, as it is sometimes called, of our literature, was another physician, Sir Richard Blackmore. Blackmore made his debut as a poet so early as the year 1696, by the publication of his Prince Arthur, which was followed by a succession of other epics, or long poems of a serious kind, each in six, ten, or twelve books, under the names of King Arthur, King Alfred, Eliza, the Redeemer, the Creation, &c., besides a Paraphrase of the Book of Job, a new version of the Psalms, a Satire on Wit, and various shorter effusions both in verse and prose. The indefatigable rhymester—" the everlasting Blackmore," as Pope calls him-died at last in 1729. Nothing can be conceived exceeding in absurdity this incessant discharge of epics ; but Blackmore, whom Dryden charged with writing “ to the rumbling of his coach's wheels,” may be pronounced, without any undue severity, to have been not more a fool than a blockhead. His Creation, indeed, has been praised both by Addison and Johnson; but the politics of the author may be supposed to have blinded or mollified the one critic, and his piety the other; at least the only thing an ordinary reader will be apt to discover in this his chef d'ouvre, that is not the flattest common-place, is an occasional outbreak of the most ludicrous extravagance and bombast. Altogether this knight, droning away at his epics for above a quarter of a century, is as absurd a phenomenon as is presented to us in the history of literature. Pope has done him no more than justice in assigning him the first place among the contending “brayers” at the immortal games instituted by the goddess of the Dunciad :
* See Prologue to the Satires, 135, &c.
But far o'er all, sonorous Blackmore's strain :
courts to courts return it round and round;
The Whigs, however, had to boast of one great writer of prose fiction, if, indeed, one who, although taking a frequent and warm part in the discussion of political sub