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ous and offensive. A hard dilemma this for a writer! The best counsel I can administer in such a case, to avoid both inconveniences, is to watch conjunctures. These will always produce something that a sagacious observer may turn to his purpose. A topic that would scarce be listened to at one period of time, may become the sole object of attention at another. Alas! what are the affairs of this world, but continual flux and revolution! All is change and instability. Moment after moment sees innumerable beings exist and disappear. Events of the greatest import, the fate of kingdoms and of kings, the weal or woe of thousands, may hang on that mere instant of time, that vanished ere I spoke. What then is permanent and immutable? He, only He who made, sustains, regulates, and pervades this universal frame.
Oh thou eternal self-existing, self-supported Being; whose pure unsearchable essence excludes all shadow of variation; who art the same to-clay, yesterday and forever! corroborate my soul with stability and perseverance. Abstract me from this world and all its tinsel vanities! Teach me to raise my hopes and affections to thee the sovereign good, that I may not be moved nor shaken by the events of this transitory scene, but look continually forward to that grand and awful period, when time and change and suffering shall be no more.
But, forgive me, gentlemen, these sudden ejaculations, which a view of the endless vicissitudes of this life naturally excited—I was recommending to you an attention to conjunctures and circumstances, to enable you at once to instruct and please your rea , ders. By this means you will secure one great point, that of rousing the attention, and will be at greater liberty to bestow your pains upon the other two; namely, to please the imagination and satisfy the understanding; which three requisites constitute the whole merit and essence of literary composition. While you keep these ends in view, even your lighter and more humorous essays will have some useful moral couched in them, agreeably to the fine precept of Horace.
Omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit utile dulci. But though I have mentioned the rocks and difficulties that beset religious and political subjects; yet, gentlemen, as you avow yourselves the friends of mankind, no circumstances ought to deter you from your duty in this respect. There are times and occasions when to be silent on these topics would be criminal and base in the highest degree. There are times and occasions when you ought to lift up your voice like a trumpet, in the cause of your God and your country; and call all the man, all the patriot, and all the Christian forth!
In such a grand cause much circumspection will be required, and there are innumerable ways by which it may be betrayed. Ignorance may be fatal to it. An over-heated zeal or timid caution may equally hurt it. Power may controul or seduce you; the fumes of popularity may intoxicate you; or should your virtue be proof against these trials, yet conjunctures may happen, so critically circumstanced, as to puzzle the ablest head and soundest heart. Tyranny may sometimes wear the face of justice; licentiousness may assume the mask of freedom; hypocrisy may put on the garb of religion; and the vilest designs that faction, discord, or ambition ever planned, may veil themselves in the cloak of patriotism and public spirit!
How, then, gentlemen, must an honest writer, uninfluenced by party rage or any other motive but a genuine love of truth and liberty, develope the cheat and shew it in its proper colours to the world? I who employ my thoughts on far other subjects than the mysteries of state, or the subtleties of the human heart, am very unfit for such a task. Buried in this humble, silent, and sequestered hut, I have industriously explored, and resolutely extinguished every > spark of ambition in my own soul. Like one that has happily gained some port of safety, after being long tossed on the stormy ocean, I here ruminate on the past and look forward to the future, without busying myself in the affairs of men; being little more than a spectator in this world
I hear the tumult of the distant throng,
But, gentlcmen, though this be the present frame of my mind, and though my whole care be to hush each boisterous passion into repose, and maintain an intercourse with Him whose eyes are too pure to behold iniquity; yet there was a time when my bo
som, like yours, glowed with the concerns of this world. And ambition hath had its turn with me as well as with others. My pen and my tongue have heretofore been embarked in the cause of liberty and truth; and while I breathe, my heart shall oun no subject preferable to these, excepting my great Creator's praise. In this view, then, I presume to point out to you the conduct you should pursue, for the detection of masked Tyranny and sanctified Imposture.
1. Consider the religion of your country as that of the blessed Jesus, flowing uncorrupted from his sacred oracles; a religion whose essence is charity and its fruit good works and assurance forever!
2. Consider the government of your country as a government of laws, founded on reciprocal obligations between the governors and governed; where your liberty and your life depend not on the arbitrary will of one man, nor of a set of men, but on the known and established rules of justice; even your peers being your judges.
Possessed of this idea of British religion and British government, let no motive on earth ever induce you tamely to suffer them to be infringed. Cry aloud and spare not on every approach of danger, that may threaten their subversion. Arguments will scarcely be wanting if you are truly inflamed in such a cause, and whatever you may suffer in the prosecution of it, will redound to your glory either in this world or the next. It has indeed been the constant endeavour of all wicked men to stop the avenues of knowledge and tie up the mouths of those whom they judged capable of unmasking their iniquitous designs. For where truth can once be extinguished, slavery will soon prevail. But the man who considers liberty as his birth-right, will never be a silent spectator of the approaching misery. He will think it his duty to shew a manly and intrepid spirit on the occasion; and should bonds or imprisonment be his fate, yet even from the dark mansions of a dungeon his tongue will sound forth lessons of wisdom, and his bosom beat for his country's good. He will feel the force of the five following great maxims of English Liberty, founded on Magna Charta, and taken from our history; which should be laid before your readers in the most conspicuous characters, viz.
1. No freeman of England can be imprisoned, or otherwise restrained, without cause shewn, for which, by the law, he ought to be so imprisoned.
2. To him that is imprisoned, may not be de. nied a writ of Habeas Corpus, if it be desired; which brings him speedily to a trial.
3. If no cause of imprisonment be alleged, and the same be returned upon an Habeas Corpus, the prisoner must be set at liberty.
4. No freeman can be tried but by his peers, nor condemned, but by the laws of the land, or by an act of parliament.
5. Whatever power is above law, is burdensome and tyrannical, and should be reduced by every prudent and possible method.”