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torius, and the council which condemned them, were the same in effect. I only produce this remote fact to prove that ancient times do not alter.. the truth of our principle.
When James II. was so strenuous an advocate for toleration and liberty of conscience in removing the test act, this enlightened principle of government was only a pretext with that monk-ridden monarch ; it is well known that the cause was to introduce and make the catholics predominant in. his councils and government. The result, which that eager and blind politician hurried on too fast, and which therefore did not take place, would have been, that“ liberty of conscience” would soon have become an “overt act of treason,” before an inquisition of his Jesuits !
In all political affairs drop the pretexts and strike at the causes; we may thus understand what the heads of parties may choose to conceal..
POLITICAL FORGERIES AND FICTIONS.
A WRITER. whose learning gives value to his eloquence, in his Bampton Lectures has censured, with that liberal spirit so friendly to the cause of truth, the calumnies and rumours of parties, which are still industriously retailed, though they have been often confuted. Forged documents are still referred to, or tales unsupported by evidence are confidently quoted. Mr. Heber's subject confined his inquiries to theo. logical history; he has told us that “ Augustine is not ashamed, in his dispute with Faustus, to take advantage of the popular slanders against the followers of Manes, though his own experience, for he had himself been of that sect, was sufficient to detect this falshood.” The Romanists, in spite of satisfactory answers, have continued to urge against the English protestant the romance of Parker's consecration; while the protestant persists in falsely imputing to the catholic public formularies, the systematic omission of the second commandment. " The calumnies of Rimius and Stinstra against the Moravian brethren are cases in point,” continues Mr. Heber. “No one now believes them, yet they once could deceive even Warburton!” We may also add the obsolete calumny of Jews crucifying boys-of which a monument raised to Hugh of Lincoln perpetuates the memory, and which a modern historian records without any scruple of doubt; several authorities, which are cited on this occasion, amount only to the single one of Matthew Paris, who gives it as a popular rumour. Such accusations usually happened when the Jews were too rich and the king was too poor!
The falshoods and forgeries raised by parties are overwhelming! It startles a philosopher, in the calm of his study, when he discovers how writers, who, we may presume, are searchers after truth, should, in fact, turn out to be searchers after the grossest fictions. This alters the habits of the literary man: it is an unnatural depravity of his pursuits--and it proves that the personal is too apt to predominate over the literary character.
I have already touched on the main point of
the present article in the one on “ Political Nicknames." I have there shown how political calumny appears to have been reduced into an art; one of its branches would be that of converting forgeries and fictions into historical authorities.
When one nation is at war with another, there is no doubt that the two governments connive at, and often encourage the most atrocious libels on each other, to madden the people to preserve their independence, and contribute cheerfully to the expenses of the war. France and England formerly complained of Hollandthe Athenians employed the same policy against the Macedonians and Persians. Such is the origin of a vast number of supposititious papers and volumes, which sometimes, at a remote date, confound the labours of the honest historian, and too often serve the purposes of the dishonest, with whom they become authorities. The crude and suspicious libels which were drawn out of their obscurity in Cromwell's time against James the First have over-loaded the character of that monarch, yet are now eagerly referred to by party writers, though in their own days they were obsolete and doubtful. During the civil wars of Charles the First, such spurious documents exist in the forms of speeches which were never spoken; of letters never written by the names subscribed; printed declarations never declared; battles never fought, and victories never obtained! Such is the language of Rushworth, who complains of this evil spirit of partyforgeries, while he is himself suspected of having rescinded or suppressed whatever was not agreeable to his patron Cromwell. A curious, and, perhaps, a necessary list might be drawn up of political forgeries of our own, which have been sometimes referred to as genuine, but which are the inventions of wits and satirists! Bayle ingeni. ously observes, that at the close of every century such productions should be branded by a skilful discriminator, to save the future inquirer from errors he can hardly avoid.