« VorigeDoorgaan »
bribing the Princess of Wales; that the King is grasping at arbitrary power; and that because the French in the new conquests enjoy their own laws, there is a design at Court of abolishing in England the trial by juries.
Still less does the true patriot circulate opinions which he knows to be false. No man, who loves his country, fills the nation with clamorous complaints, that the Protestant religion is in danger, because popery is established in the extensive province of Quebec, a falsehood so open and shameless, that it can need no confutation among those who know that of which it is almost impossible for the most unenlightened zealot to be ignorant,
That Quebec is on the other side of the Atlan. tick, at too great a distance to do much good or harm to the European world :
That the inhabitants, being French, were always Papists, who are certainly more dangerous as enemies than as subjects:
That though the province be wide, the people are few, probably not so many as may be found in one of the larger English counties :
That persecution is not more virtuous in a Protestant than a Papist ; and that, while we blame Lewis the Fourteenth for his dragoons and his gallies, we ought, when power comes into our hands, to use it with greater equity:
That when Canada with its inhabitants was yielded, the free enjoyment of their religion was stipulated ; a condition, of which King William, who was no propagator of Popery, gave an example nearer home, at the surrender of Limerick : Vol. X.
That in an age, where every mouth is open for liberty of conscience, it is equitable to shew some regard to the conscience of a Papist, who may be supposed, like other men, to think himself safest in his own religion ; and that those at least, who enjoy a toleration, ought not to deny it to our new subjects.
If liberty of conscience be a natural right, we have no power to withhold it ; if it be an indulgence,
may be allowed to Papists, while it is not denied to other sects.
A patriot is necessarily and invariably a lover of the people.
But even this mark may sometimes deceive us.
The people is a very heterogeneous and confused mass of the wealthy and the poor, the wise and the foolish, the good and the bad. Before we confer on a man, who caresses the people, the title of patriot, we must examine to what part of the people he directs his notice. It is proverbially said, that he who dissembles his own character, may be known by that of his companions.
If the candidate of patriotism endeavours to infuse right opinions into the higher ranks, and by their influence to regulate the lower ; if he consorts chiefly with the wise, the temperate, the regular, and the virtuous, his love of the people may be rational and honest. But if his first or principal application be to the indigent, who are always inflammable ; to the weak, who are naturally suspicious ; to the ignorant, who are easily misled; and to the prolgate, who have no hope but from mischief and confusion ; let his love of the people be no longer boasted. No man can reasonably be thought a lover of his country, for roasting an ox, or burning a boot, or attending the meeting at Mile End, or registering his name in the Lumber Troop. He may, among the drunkards, be a bearty fellow, and among sober handicraftsmen, a free-spoken gentleman ; but he must have some better distinction before he is a patriot.
A patriot is always ready to countenance the iust claims, and animate the reasonable hopes of the people ; he reminds them frequently of their rightsand stimulates them to resent encroachments, and to multiply securities.
But all this may be done in appearance, without real patriotism. He that raises false hopes to serve a present purpose, only makes a way for disappointment and discontent. He whu promises to endeavour, what he knows his endeavours unable to effect, means only to delude his followers by an empty clamour of ineffectual zeal.
A true patriot is no lavish promiser : he undertakes not to shorten Parliaments; to repeal laws ; or to change the mode of representation, transmitted by our ancestors : he knows that futurity is not in his power, and that all times are not alike favourable to change.
Much less does he make a vague and indefinite promise of obeying the mandates of his constituents. He knows the prejudices of faction, and the inconstancy of the multitude. He would first inquire, how the opinion of his constituents shall be taken. Popular instructions are commonly the work, not of the wise and steady, but the violent and rash; meetings held for directing representatives are seldom attended but by the idle and the dissolute ; and he is not without suspicion, that of his constituents, as of other numbers of men, the smaller part may often be the wiser.
He considers himself as deputed to promote the publick good, and to preserve his constituents, with the rest of his countrymen, not only from being hurt by others, but from hurting themselves.
The common marks of patriotism having been examined, and shewn to be such as artifice may counterfeit, or folly misapply, it cannot be improper to consider, whether there are not some characteristical modes of speaking or acting, which may prove a man to be not a patriot.
In this inquiry, perhaps clearer evidence may be discovered, and firmer persuasion attained; for it is commonly easier to know what is
than what is right ; to find what we should avoid, than what we should
pursue. As war is one of the heaviest of national evils, a calamity in which every species of misery is involved; as it sets the general safety to hazard, suspends commerce, and desolates the country ; as it exposes great numbers to hardships, dangers, captivity, and death; no man, who desires the publick prosperity, will infame general resentment by aggravating minute injuries, or enforcing disputable rights of little importance.
It may therefore be safely pronounced, that those men are no patriots, who when the national honour was vindicated in the sight of Europe, and the Spaniards, having invaded what they call their own, had shrunk to a disavowal of their attempt, and a relaxation of their claim, would still have in.
stigated us to a war for a bleak and barren spot in the Magellanick ocean, of which no use could be made, unless it were a place of exile for the hypocrites of patriotism.
Yet let it not be forgotten, that by the howling violence of patriotick rage the nation was for a time exasperated to such madness, that for a barren rock, under a stormy sky, we might have now been fighting and dying, had not our competitors been wiser than ourselves; and those who are now courting the favour of the people by noisy professions of publick spirit, would, while they were counting the profits of their artifice, have enjoyed the patriotick pleasure of hearing sometimes, that thousands had been slaughtered in a battle, and sometimes that a navy had been dispeopled by poisoned air and corrupted food.
He that wishes to see his country robbed of its rights, cannot be a patriot.
That man therefore is no patriot, who justifies the ridiculous claims of American usurpation; who endeavours to deprive the nation of its natural and lawful authority over its own colonies ; those colonies, which were settled under English protection, were constituted by an English charter; and have been defended by English arms.
To suppose, that by sending out a colony, the nation established an independent power ; that when, by indulgence and favour, emigrants are become rich, they shall not contribute to their own defence, but at their own pleasure ; and that they shall not be included, like millions of their fellowsubjects, in the general system of representation;