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POLITICAL

TRACT S.

Fallitur, egregio quisquis sub principe credit
Servitium, nunquam Libertas gratior extat
Quam sub Rege pio.

CLAUDIANUS.

í THE

FALSE AL A R M.

(1770.]

ONE

NE of the chief advantages derived by the pre

fent generation from the improvement and diffusion of philosophy, is deliverance from unnecessary terrours, and exemption from false alarms. The unusual appearances, whether regular or accidental, which once spread consternation over ages of ignorance, are now the recreations of inquisitive security. The sun is no more lamented when it is eclipsed, than when it sets; and meteors play their coruscations without prognostick or prediction.

The advancement of political knowledge may be expected to produce in time the like effects. Causeless discontent and feditious violence will grow less frequent, and less formidable, as the science of government is better ascertained, by a diligent study of the theory of man.

It is not indeed to be expected, that physical and political truth should meet with equal acceptance, or gain ground upon the world with equal facility. The notions of the naturalist find mankind in a state of neutrality, or at worst have nothing to encounter but prejudice and vanity, prejudice without malignity, VOL. VIII.

F

and

and vanity without interest. But the politician's improvements are opposed by every passion that can exclude conviction or suppress it; by ambition, by avarice, by hope, and by terrour, bý publick faction, and private animosity.

It is evident, whatever be the cause, that this nation, with all its renown for speculation and for learning, has yet made little proficiency in civil wisdom. We are still so much unacquainted with our own state, and so unskilful in the pursuit of happiness, that we shudder without danger, complain without grievances, and suffer our quiet to be disturbed, and our commerce to be interrupted, by an opposition to the government, raised only by interest, and supported only by clamour, which yet has so far prevailed upon ignorance and timidity, that many favour it as reasonable, and many dread it as powerful.

What is urged by those who have been fo induftrious to spread suspicion, and incite fury from one end of the kingdom to the other, may be known by perusing the papers which have been at once presented as pétitions to the king, and exhibited in print as remonftrances to the people. It may therefore not be improper to lay before the Publick the reflec

ons of a man who cannot favour the opposition, for he thinks it wicked, and cannot fear it, for he thinks it weak.

The grievance which has produced all this tempest of outrage, the oppreffion in which all other op pressions are included, the invasion which has left us no property, the alarm that suffers i no patriot to fleep in quiet, is comprifed in a vote of the House

of

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