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The kind of anniversary sermons, to which a great part of what I write refers, if men are not shamed out of their present course, in commemorating the fact, will cheat many out of the principles, and deprive them of the benefits of the Revolution they commemorate. I confess to you, Sir, I never liked this continual talk of refistance and revolution, or the practice of making the extreme medicine of the constitution its daily bread. It renders the habit of society dangerously valetudinary: it is taking periodical doses of mercury sublimate, and swallowing down repeated provocatives of cantharides to our love of liberty.
This distemper of remedy, grown habitual, relaxes and wears out, by a vulgar and prostituted use, the spring of that spirit which is to be exerted on great occasions. It was in the most patient period of Roman servitude that themes of tyrannicide made the ordinary exercise of boys at school—cum perimit sævos classis numerosa tyrannos. In the ordinary state of things, it produces in a country like ours the worst effects, even on the cause of that liberty which it abuses with the dissoluteness of an extravagant speculation. Almost all the high-bred republicans of my time have, after a short space, become the most decided, thorough-paced courtiers; they soon left the business of a tedious, moderate, but practical resistance to those of us whom, in the pride and intoxication of their theories, they have nighted, as not much better than tories. Hypocrisy, of course, delights in the
most sublime speculations; for, never intending to go beyond speculation, it costs nothing to have it magnificent. But even in cases where rather levity than fraud was to be suspected in these ranting speculations, the issue has been much the same. These professors, finding their extreme principles not applicable to cases which call only for a qualified, or, as I may say, civil and legal resistance, in such cases employ no resistance at all. It is with them a war or a revolution, or it is nothing. Finding their schemes of politics not adapted to the state of the world in which they live, they often come to think lightly of all public principle; and are ready, on their part, to abandon for a very trivial interest what they find of very trivial value. Some ins: deed are of more steady and persevering natures; but these are eager politicians out of parliament, who have little to tempt them to abandon their favourite projects. They have some change in the church or state, or both, con stantly in their view.
When that is the case, they are always bad citizens, and perfectly unsure connexions. For, considering their speculative designs as of infinite value, and the actual arrangement of the state as of no estimation, they are at best indifferent about it. They see 'no merit in the good, and no fault in the vicious management of public affairs; they rather rejoice in the latter, as more propitious to revolution. They see no merit or denierit in any man, or any action, or any political principle, any further than as they may forward or retard their design
of change: they therefore take up, one day, the most violent and stretched prerogative, and another time the wildest democratic ideas of freedom, and pass from the one to the other without any fort of regard to cause, to person, or to party.
In France you are now in the crisis of a revolution, and in the transit from one form of government to another-- you cannot see that character of men exactly in the same situation in which we see it in this country. With us it is militant; with you it is triumphant; and you know how it can act when its power is commensurate to its will. I would not be supposed to confine those observations to any description of men, or to comprehend all men of any description within them—No! far from it. I am as incapable of that injustice, as I am of keeping terms with those who profess principles of extremes ; and who under the name of religion teach little else than wild and dangerous politics. The worst of these poli. tics of revolution is this ; they temper and harden the breast, in order to prepare it for the desperate strokes which are sometimes used in extreme occasions. But as these occasions may never arrive, the mind receives a gratuitous taint; and the moral sentiments suffer not a little, when no political purpose is served by the depravation. This sort of people are so taken
with their theories about the tights of man, that they have totally forgot his nature. Without opening one new avenue to the understanding, they have succeeded in topping up those that lead to the heart. They have per
verted in themselves, and in those that attend to thein, all the well placed sympathies of the human breast.
This famous sermon of the Old Jewry breathes nothing but this spirit through all the political part. Plots, massacres, assassinations, seem to some people a trivial price for obtaining a revolution. A cheap, bloodless reformation, a guiltless liberty, appear flat and vapid to their taste. There must be a great change of scene; there must be a magnificent stage effect; there must be a grand spectacle to rouze the imagination, grown torpid with the lazy enjoyment of sixty years security, and the still unanimating repose of public prosperity. The Preacher found them all in the French revolution. This inspires a juvenile warmth through his whole fraine. His enthusiasın kindles as he advances; and when he arrives at his peroration, it is in a full blaze. Then viewing, from the Pisgah of his pulpit, the free, moral, happy, flourishing, and glorious state of France, as in a bird-eye landscape of a promised land, he breaks out into the following rapture :
“ What an eventful period is this ! I am " thankful that I have lived to it; I could al“ most say, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant de
part in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salva« tion.--I have lived to see a diffusion of knowa “ ledge, which has undermined superstition and
error.--I have lived to see the rights of men « better understood than ever ; and nations pant« ing for liberty which seemed to have lost the " idea of it.—I have lived to see Thirty Millions
< of People, indignant and resolute, spurning at
Navery, and demanding liberty with an irre« fistible voice. Their King led in triumph, and
an arbitrary monarch surrendering himself to his subjects *.”
Before I proceed further, I have to remark, that Dr. Price seems rather to over-value the great acquisitions of light which he has obtained and diffused in this age. The last century appears to me to have been quite as much enlightened. It had, though in a different place, a triumph as memorable as that of Dr. Price; and some of the great preachers of that period partook of it as eagerly as he has done in the triumph of France. On the trial of the Rev. Hugh Peters for high treason, it was deposed, that when King Charles was brought to London for his trial, the Apostle of Liberty in that day conducted the triumph. “ I saw," says the witness, “ his majesty in the coach with six “horses, and Peters riding before the king
triumphing." Dr. Price, when he talks as if he had made a discovery, only follows a precedent; for, after the commencement of the king's trial, this precursor, the same Dr. Peters. concluding a long prayer at the royal chapel at Whitehall,
* Another of these reverend gentlemen, who was witness to some of the spectacles which Paris has lately exhibitedexpresses himself thus, “ A king dragged in fibmili ve iriumph
by his conquering subjects is one of those arpearances of
grandear which seldom rise in the prospect of human af“ fairs, and which, during the remainder of my life, I shall " think of with wonder and gratification.” These gentlemen agree marvellously in their feelings.