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this ftate. To me, who am but a plain man, the proceeding looks a little too refined, and too ingenious; it has too much the air of a political ftratagem, adopted for the fake of giving, under an high-founding name, an importance to the public declarations of this club, which, when the matter came to be clofely infpe&ted, they did not altogether fo well deferve. It is a policy that has very much the complexion of a fraud.

I flatter myself that I love a manly, moral, regulated liberty as well as any gentleman of that fociety, be he who he will; and perhaps I have given as good proofs of my attachment to that caufe, in the whole courfe of my public conduct. I think I envy liberty as little as they do, to any other nation. But I cannot ftand forward, and give praife or blame to any thing which relates to human actions, and human concerns, on a fimple view of the object, as it ftands ftripped of every relation, in all the nakedness and folitude of metaphyfical abftraction. Circumftances (which with some gentlemen pafs for nothing) give in reality to every political principle its diftinguishing colour, and difcriminating effect. The circumftances are what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to mankind. Abstractedly speaking, government, as well as liberty, is good; yet could I, in common fenfe, ten years ago, have felicitated France on her enjoyment of a government (for she then had a govern ment) without enquiry what the nature of that government was, or how it was administered? Can I now congratulate the fame nation upon its freedom? Is it becaufe liberty in the abstract may be claffed amongst the bleffings of mankind, that I am ferioufly to felicitate a madman, who has escaped from the protecting restraint and wholefome darkness of his cell, on his restoration to the enjoy ment of light and liberty? Am I to congratulate an highwayman and murderer, who has broke prifon, upon the recovery of his natural rights? This would be to act over again the scene of the criminals condemned to the gallies, and their heroic deliverer, the metaphyfic Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance.

When I fee the fpirit of liberty in action, I see a strong principle at work; and this, for a while, is all I can



poffibly know of it. The wild gas, the fixed air is plainly broke loo'e: but we ought to fufpend our judgment until the first efferve cence is a little fubfided, till the liquor is cleared, and until we fee fomething deeper than the agitation of a troubled and frothy furface. I must be tolerably fure, before I venture publicly to congratulate men upon a bleffing, that they have really received one. Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver; and adulation is not of more fervice to the people than to kings. I fhould therefore fufpend my congratulations on the new liberty of France, until I was informed how it had been combined with government; with public force; with the difcipline and obedience of armies; with the collection of an effective and well-diftributed revenue; with morality and religion; with the folid ty of property; with peace and order; with civil and focial manners. All thefe (in their way) are good things too; and, without them, liberty is not a benefit whilst it lafts, and is not likely to continue long. The effect of liberty to individuals is, that they may do what they please: We ought to fee what it will please them to do, before we riíque congratulations, which may be foon turned into complaints. Prudence would dictate this in the cafe of feparate infulated private men; but liberty, when men act in, is power. Confiderate people before they declare themselves will obferve the ufe which is made of power; and particularly of fo trying a thing as new power in new perfons, of whofe principles, tempers, and difpofitions, they have little or no experience, and in fituations where thofe who appear the most stirring in the scene may poffibly not be the real movers.

All these confiderations however were below the trancendental dignity of the Revolution Society. Whilft I continued in the country, from whence I had the honor of writing to you, I had but an imperfect idea of their tranfa&t ons. On my coming to town, I fent for an account of their proceedings, which had been published by their authority, containing a fermon of Dr. Pric,- with the Duke de Rochefaucault's and the Archbishop of Aix's letter, and feveral other documents annexed. The whole of that publication, with the manifeft dcfign of connecting the affairs of France with thofe of England, by drawing


us into an imitation of the conduct of the National Affembly, gave me a confiderable degree of uneafine.s. The effect of that conduct upon the power, credit, prosperity, and tranquility of France, became every day more evident. The form of conftitution to be settled, for its future polity, became more clear. We are now in a condition to difcern, with tolerable exactnefs, the true nature of the object held up to our imitation. If the prudence of referve and decorum dictates filence in fome c.rcumftances, in others prudence of an higher order may juftify us in speaking our thoughts. The beginnings of confufion with us in England are at prefent feeble enough; but with you, we have seen an infancy ftill more feeble, growing by moments into a strength to heap mountains upon mountains, and to wage war with Heaven it elf. Whenever our neighbour's houfe is on fire, it cannot be amifs for the engines to play a little on our own. Better to be defpifed for too anxious apprehenfions, than ruined by too confident a fecurity.

Solicitous chiefly for the peace of my own country, but by no incans unconcerned for your's, I wish to communicate more largely, what was at firft intended only for your private fatisfaction. I fhall still keep your affairs in my eye, and continue to addrefs my felf to you. Indulging myself in the freedom of epiftolary intercourfe, I eg leave to throw out my thoughts, and exprefs my feelings, just as they arife in my mind, with very little attention to formal method. I fet out with the proceedings of the Revolution Society; but I fhall not confine myself to them. Is it poffible I fhould? It lecks to me as if I were in a great crifis, not of the affairs of France alone, but of all Europe, perhaps of more than Europe. All circumftances taken together, the French revolution is the most afton fhing that has hitherto happened in the world. The mott wonderful things are brought about in many inftances by means the most absurd and ridiculous; in the most ridiculous modes; and apparently, by the most contemptible inftruments. Every thing feems out of nature in this strange chaos of levity and ferocity, and of all forts of crimes jumbled together with all torts of follies. In viewing this monftrous tragi-comic fcene, the most oppofite


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paffions neceffarily fucceed, and fometimes mix with each other in the mind; alternate contempt and indig at.on; alternate laughter and tears; alternate fcorn and horror.

It cannot however be denied, that to fome this ftrange fcene appeared in quite another point of view. Into them it infpired no other fentiments than thofe of exultation and rapture. They faw nothing in what has been done in France, but a firm and temperate exertion of freedom; fo confiftent, on the whole, with morals and with p.ety, as to make it deferving not only of the fecular applaufe of dafhing Machiavelian politicians, but to render it a fit theme for all the devout effufions of facred eloquence.

On the forenoon of the 4th of November laft, Doctor Richard Price, a non-conforming minifter of eminence, preached at the diffenting meeting-houfe of the Old Jewry, to his club or fociety, a very extraordinary mifcellaneous fermon, in which there are fome good moral and religious fentiments, and not ill expreffed, mixed up in a fort of porridge of various political opinions and reflections: but the revolution in France is the grand ingredient in the cauldron. I confider the addrefs tranfmitted by the Revolution Society to the National Affembly, through Earl Stanhope, as originating in the principles of the fermon, and as a corollary from them. It was moved by the preacher of that difcourfe. It was paffed by those who came reeking from the effect of the fermon, without any cenfure or qualification, expreffed or implied. If, however, any of the gentlemen concerned fhall wish to feparate the fermon from the resolution, they know how to acknowledge the one, and to difavow the other. They may do it; Į


For my part, I looked on that fermon as the public declaration of a man much connected with literary caballers, and intriguing philofophers; with political theologians, and theological politicians, both at home and abroad. I know they fet him up as a fort of oracle; because, with the best intentions in the world, he naturally philippizes, and chaunts his prophetic song in exact unison with their defigns.

That fermon is in a strain which I believe has not been heard in this kingdom, in any of the pulpits which are



tolerated or encouraged in it, fince the year 1648, when a predeceffor of Dr. Price, the Reverend Hugh Peters, made the vault of the king's own chapel at St. James's ring with the honour and privilege of the Saints, who, with the high praifes of God in their mouths, and a "two-edged fword in their hands, were to execute judge"ment on the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron." Few harangues from the pulpit, except in the days of your league in France, or in the days of our folemn league and covenant in England, have ever breathed lefs of the fpirit of moderation than this lecture in the Old Jewry. Suppofing, however, that fomething like moderation were vifible in this political fermon; yet politics and the pulpit are terms that have little agreement. No found ought to be heard in the church but the healing voice of Christian charity. The caufe of civil liberty and civil government gains as little as that of religion by this confufion of duties. Those who quit their proper character, to affume what does not belong to them, are, for the greater part, ignorant both of the character they leave, and of the character they affume. Wholly unacquainted with the world in which they are fo fond of meddling, and inexperienced in all its affairs, on which they pronounce with fo much confidence, they have nothing of politics but the paffions they excite. Surely the church is a place where one day's truce ought to be allowed to the diffenfions and animofities of mankind.

This pulpit ftyle, revived after fo long a difcontinuance, had to me the air of novelty, and of a novelty not wholly without danger. I do not charge this danger equally to every part of the difcourfe. The hint given to a noble and reverend lay-divine, who is fuppofed high in office in one of our universities, and to other lay-divines "" of ❝ rank and literature," may be proper and feasonable, though fomewhat new. If the noble Seekers fhould find nothing to fatisfy their pious fancies in the old staple of the national church, or in all the rich variety to be found

Pfalm cxlix.


Difcourfe on the Love of our Country, Nov. 4, 1789, by Dr. Richard Price, 3d edition, p. 17 and 18.

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