Page images

and lastly reyere yourfelf; and, after having endured fa many fufferings, and encountered fo many perils for the fake of liberty, do not fuffer it, now it is obtained, either to be violated by yourfelf, or in any one inftance impaired by others. You cannot be truly free unlefs we are free too; for fuch is the nature of things, that he, who en trenches on the liberty of others, is the first to lose his own and become a flave. But, if you, who have hitherto been the patron and tutelary genius of liberty, if you, who are exceeded by no one in justice, in piety and goodnefs, fhould hereafter invade that liberty, which you have defended, your conduct must be fatally operative, not only against the cause of liberty, but the general interefts of piety and virtue. Your integrity and virtue will appear to have evaporated, your faith in religion to have been fmall; your character with pofterity will dwindle into infignificance, by which a moft deftructive blow will be levelled against the happiness of mankind. The work which you have undertaken is of incalculable moment, which will thoroughly fift and expofe every principle and fenfation of your heart, which will fully difplay the vigour and genius of your character, which will evince whether you really poffefs thofe great qualities of piety, fidelity, juftice, and felf-denial, which made us believe that you were elevated by the fpecial direction of the Deity to the highest pinnacle of power. At once wifely and difcreetly to hold the fceptre over three powerful nations, to perfuade people to relinquifh inveterate and corrupt for new and more bencficial maxims and inftitutions, to penetrate into the remoteft parts of the country, to have the mind present and operative in every quarter, to watch against furprise, to provide against danger, to reject the blandifhments of pleasure and pomp of power;-these are exertions compared with which the labour of war is mere paftime; which will require every energy and employ every faculty that you poffefs; which demand a man fupported from above, and almost inftructed by immediate infpiration. These and more than thefe are, no doubt, the objects which occupy your attention and engross your foul; as well as the means by which you may accomplish these important ends, and render our liberty at once more



ample and more secure. And this you can, in my opinion, in no other way fo readily effect, as by affociating in your councils the companions of your dangers and your toils; men of exemplary modefty, integrity and courage; whose hearts have not been heardened in cruelty and rendered infenfible to pity by the fight of fo much ravage and fo much death, but whom it has rather infpired with the love of justice, with a refpect for religion and with the feeling of compaffion, and who are more zealously interested in the prefervation of liberty, in proportion as they have encountered more perils in its defence. They are not strangers or foreigners, a hireling rout fcraped together from the dregs of the people, but for the most part, men of the better conditions in life, of families not difgraced if not ennobled, of fortunes either ample or moderate, and what if fome among them are recommended by their poverty? for it was not the luft of ravage which brought them into the field; it was the calamitous afpect of the times, which, in the moft critical circumftances, and often amid the most difaftrous turns of fortune, roused them to attempt the deliverance of their country from the fangs of defpotifm. They were men prepared, not only to debate but to fight; not only to argue in the fenate, but to engage the enemy in the field. But unless we will continually cherish indefinite and illufory expectations, I fee not in whom we can place any confidence, if not in these men and fuch as thefe. We have the furest and most indubitable pledge of their fidelity, in this, that they have already expofed themfelves to death in the fervice of their country; of their piety in this, that they have been always wont to afcribe the whole glory of their fucceffes to the favour of the Deity, whofe help they have fo fuppliantly implored, and fo confpicuously obtained; of their juftice in this, that they even brought the king to trial, and when his guilt was proved, refused to fave his life; of their moderation in our own uniform experience of its effects, and because, if by any outrage, they fhould disturb the peace which they have procured, they themselves will be the first to feel the miseries which it will occafion, the first to meet the havoc of the fword, and the first again to risk their


lives for all thofe comforts and diftinctions which they
have fo happily acquired; and laftly, of their fortitude
in this, that there is no inftance of any people who ever
recovered their liberty with fo much courage and fuccefs;
and therefore let us not fuppofe, that there can be any
perfons who will be more zealous in preferving it. I now
feel myself irrefiftibly compelled to commemorate the
names of fome of thofe who have moft confpicuoufly
fignalized themselves in thefe times; and first, thine
O Fleetwood! whom I have known from a boy, to the
prefent blooming maturity of your military fame, to
have been inferior to none in humanity, in gentleness, in
benignity of difpofition, whofe intrepidity in the combat,
and whofe clemency in victory have been acknowledged.
even by the enemy: next thine, O Lambert! who, with
a mere handful of men, checked the progrefs, and fuf-
tained the attack of the Duke of Hamilton, who was at-
tended by the whole flower and vigour of the Scottish
youth; next thine, O Defborough! and thine, O Haw-
ley! who waft always confpicuous in the heat of the com-
bat, and the thickeft of the fight; thine, O Overton!
who haft been moft endeared to me now for fo many
years by the fimilitude of our ftudies, the fuavity of
your manners, and the more than fraternal fympathy of
our hearts; you, who, in the memorable battle of Marf-
ton More, when our left wing was put to the rout,
were beheld with admiration, making head against the
enemy with your infantry and repelling his attack, amid
the thickeft of the carnage; and laftly you, who in the
Scotch war, when under the aufpices of Cromwell, occu-
pied the coaft of Fife, opened a paffage beyond Stirling,
and made the Scotch of the weft, and of the north, and
even the remoteft Orkneys confefs your humanity, and
fubmit to your power. Befides thefe, I will mention
fome as celebrated for their political wifdom and their
civil virtues, whom you, fir, have admitted into your coun-
cils, and who are known to me by friendfhip or by fame.
Whitlocke, Pickering, Strickland, Sydenham, Sydney,
(a name indiffolubly attached to the interefts of liberty,)
Montacute, Laurence, both of highly cultivated minds
and polished tafte; befides many other citizens of fingu-



[ocr errors]

lar merit, fome of whom were diftinguished by their exertions in the fenate, and others in the field. To these men, whose talents are fo fplendid, and whofe worth has been fo thoroughly tried, you would without doubt do right to trust the protection of our liberties; nor would it be easy to fay, to whom they might more fafely be entrusted. Then, if you leave the church to its own government, and relieve yourfeif and the other public functionaries from a charge fo onerous, and fo incompatible with your functions; and will no longer fuffer two powers, fo different as the civil and the ecclefiaftical, to commit fornication together, and by their mutual and delufive aids in appearance to strengthen, but in reality to weaken and finally to fubvert each other; if you fhall remove all power of perfecution out of the church, (but perfecution will never ceafe, fo long as men are bribed to preach the gofpel by a mercenary falary, which is forcibly extorted, rather than gratuitoufly beftowed, which ferves only to poifon religion and to ftrangle truth), you will then effectually have caft thofe money-changers out of the temple, who do not merely truckle with doves but with the dove itfelf, with the Spirit of the Moft High. Then, fince there are often in a republic, men who have the fame itch for making a multiplicity of laws, as fome poetafters have for making many verfes, and fince laws are ufually worse in proportion as they are more numerous, if you fhall not enact fo many new laws as you abolifh old, which do not operate fo much as warnings againft evil, as impediments in the way of good; and if you fhall retain only thofe, which are neceffary, which do not confound the distinctions of good and evil, which, while they prevent the frauds of the wicked, do not prohibit the innocent freedoms of the good, which punish crimes, without interdicting those things which are lawful, only on account of the abufes to which they may occafionally, be expofed. For, the intention of laws is to check the commiffion of vice, but liberty is the best fchool of virtue, and affords the ftrongest encouragements to the practice. Then if you make a better provifion for the education of our youth than has hitherto been made, if. you prevent the promifcuous inftruction of the docile,


and the indocile, of the idle and the diligent, at the public coft, but reserve the rewards of learning for the learned, and of merit for the meritorious. If you permit the free difcuffion of truth without any hazard to the author, or any fubjection to the caprice of an individual, which is the best way to make truth flourish and knowledge abound, the cenfure of the half-learned, the envy, the pufillanimity or the prejudice which measures the difcoveries of others, and in fhort every degree of wisdom by the measure of its own capacity, will be prevented from doling out information to us according to their own arbitrary choice. Laftly, if you fhall not dread to hear any truth, or any falfehood, whatever it may be, but if you fhall leaft of all liften to thofe, who think that they can never be free, till the liberties of others depend on their caprice, and who attempt nothing with fo much zeal and vehemence, as to fetter, not only the bodies but the minds of men, who labour to introduce into the state the worst of all tyrannies, the tyranny of their own depraved habits and pernicious opinions; you will always be dear to those, who think not merely that their own fect or faction, but that all citizens of all defcriptions fhould enjoy equal rights and equal laws. If there be any one, who thinks that this is not liberty enough, he appears to me to be rather inflamed with the luft of ambition, or of anarchy, than with the love of a genuine and well regu lated liberty; and particuarly fince the circumstances of the country, which has been fo convulfed by the ftorms of faction, which are yet hardly still, do not permit us to adopt a more perfect or desirable form of government.

For it is of no little confequence, O citizens, by what principles you are governed, either in acquiring liberty, or in retaining it when acquired. And unless that liberty, which is of fuch a kind as arms can neither procure nor take away, which alone is the fruit of piety, of justice, of temperance and unadulterated virtue, fhall have taken deep root in your minds and hearts, there will not long be wanting one who will fnatch from you by treachery what you have acquired by arms. War has made many great whom peace makes fmall. If after being released from the toils of war, you neglect the arts of peace, if your


« PreviousContinue »