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which they did not suffer, or to solicit for redress which they do not want. The petition has been, in some places, rejected; and perhaps in all but one, signed only by the meanest and groffest of the people.
Since this expedient now invented or revived to distress the government, and equally practicable at all times by all who shall be excluded from power and from profit, has produced so little effect, let us consider the opposition as no longer formidable. The great engine has recoiled upon them. They thought that the terms they sent were terms of weight, which would have amazed all and stumbled many ; but the consternation is now over, and their foes stand upright, as before.
With great propriety and dignity the king has, in his speech, neglected or forgotten them. He might easily know, that what was presented as the sense of the people, is the sense only of the profligate and disfolute ; and that whatever parliament should be convened, the fame petitioners would be ready, for the same reason, to request its diffolution.
As we once had a rebellion of the clowns, we have now an opposition of the pedlars. The quiet of the nation has been for years disturbed by a faction, against which all factions ought to conspire ; for its original principle is the desire of levelling; it is only animated under the name of zeal, by the natural malignity of the mean against the great.
When in the confusion which the Englis invasions produced in France, the villains, imagining that they had found the golden hour of emancipation, took arms in their hands, the knights of both nations considered
the cause as common, and, fufpending the general hoftility, united to chastise them.
The whole conduct of this despicable faction is disa tinguished by plebeian groffness, and favage indecency. To misrepresent the actions and the principles of their enemies is common to all parties; but the infolence of invective, and brutality of reproach, which have lately prevailed, are peculiar to this.
An infallible characteristick of meannefs is cruelty. This is the only faction that has fhouted at the condemnation of a criminal, and that, when his innocence procured his pardon, has clamoured for his blood.
All other parties, however enraged at each other, have agreed to treat the throne with decency; but these low-born railers have attacked not only the authority, but the character of their sovereign, and have endeavoured, surely without effect, to alienate the affections of the people from the only king, who, for almost a century, has much appeared to desire, or much endeavoured to deserve them. They have insulted him with rudeness and with menaces, which were never excited by the gloomy sullen ness of William, even when half the nation denied him their allegiance ; nor by the dangerous bigotry of James, unless when he was finally driven from his palace; and with which scarcely the open hoftilities of rebellion ventured to vilify the unhappy Charles, even in the remarks on the cabinet of Naseby.
It is surely not unreasonable to hope that the na- tion will consult its dignity, if not its safety, and disdain to be protected or enslaved by the declaimers or the plotters of a city-tavern. Had Rome fallen by
the Catilinarian conspiracy, she might have consoled her fate by the greatness of her destroyers ; but what would have alleviated the disgrace of England, had her government been changed by Tiler or by Ket?
One part of the nation has never before contended with the other, but for some weighty and apparent interest. If the means were violent, the end was great. The civil war was fought for what each army called and believed the best religion, and the best government. The struggle in the reign of Anne, was to exclude or restore an exile king. We are now disputing, with almost equal animosity, whether Middlesex shall be represented or not by a criminal from a jail.
The only comfort left in such degeneracy is that a lower state can be no longer possible.
In this contemptuous censure, I mean not to include every fingle man. In all lead, says the chemist, there is silver; and in all copper there is gold. But mingled masses are justly denominated by the greater quantity, and when the precious particles are not worth extraction, a faction and a pig must be melted down together to the forms and offices that chance allots them.
Fiunt urceoli, pulves, fartago, patella.
A few weeks will now show whether the government can be shaken by empty noise, and whether the faction which depends upon its influence, has not deceived alike the Publick and itself. That it should have con. tinued till now, is sufficiently shameful. None can indeed wonder that it has been supported by the fectaries, the natural fomenters of fedition, and con
federates of the rabble, of whose religion little now remains but hatred of establishments, and who are angry to find separation now only tolerated, which was once rewarded; but every honest man must lament, that it has been regarded with frigid neutrality by the tories, who, being long accustomed to signalize their principles by opposition to the court, do not yet consider that they have at last a king who knows not the name of party, and who wishes to be the common father of all his people.
As a man inebriated only by vapours, soon recovers in the open air ; a nation discontented to madness, without any adequate cause, will return to its wits and its allegiance when a little pause has cooled it to reflection. Nothing, therefore, is neceffary, at this alarming crisis, but to consider the alarm as false. To make conces fions, is to encourage encroachment. Let the court despise the faction, and the disappointed people will foon deride it.
To proportion the eagerness of contest to its im
portance seems too hard a tak for human wifdom. The pride of wit has kept ages busy in the discussion of useless questions, and the pride of power has destroyed armies to gain or to keep unprofitable poffeffions.
Not many years have passed since the cruelties of war were filling the world with terror and with forrow; rage was at last appeased, or strength exhausted, and to the harassed nations peace was restored, with its pleasures and its benefits. Of this state all felt the happiness, and all implored the continuance; but what continuance of happiness can be expected, when the whole system of European empire can be in danger of a new concussion, by a contention for a few spots of earth, which, in the deserts of the ocean, had almost escaped human notice, and which, if they had not happened to make a sea-mark, had perhaps never had a name?