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the founder of that school of writers, who, setting truth at defiance, impose the most audacious misrepresentations upon a credulous public, and seasoning sophistry with slander, carry into literary and political disquisition a spirit of personal malevolence. He too was the first writer since the Restoration who set an example of traducing the sovereign, insulting the chief magistrate as an individual, while he laboured to bring the measures of his government into hatred and contempt.
M. Simond traces the American war with all its consequences to a personage, who, in the part which he acted upon the political stage, had certainly no other object than that of repairing his own ruined fortunes.
* Our new world,' says the Gallo-American traveller, ' has generally the credit of having first lighted the torch which was to illuminate and soon set in a blaze the finest part of Europe : yet I think the fint was struck, and the first spark elicited by the patriot John Wilkes, a few years before. In a time of profound peace, the restless spirits of men, deprived of other objects of public curiosity, seized with avidity on those questions which were then agitated with so much violence in England, touching the rights of the people and of the government, and the nature of power. The end of the political drama was in favour of what was called, and in some respect was, 'the liberty of the people. "Encouraged by the success of this great comedian, the curtain was no sooner dropt on the scene of Europe, than new-actors hastened to raise it again in America, and to give the world a new play, infinitely more interesting and more brilliant than the first.' 30 Franklin was in London during the Saturnalia of Wilkes's tricumph.
'Tis really,' he says, ' an extraordinary event to see an outlaw and exile, of bad personal character, not worth a farthing, come over from France, set himself up as candidate for the capital of the kingdom, miss his election only by being too late in his application, and immediately carrying it for the principal county. All respect to law and
government seems to be lost among the common people, who are moreover continually inflamed by seditious scribblers to trample on authority, and every thing that used to keep them in order.—What the event will be, God only knows. But some punishment seems preparing for a people who are ungratefully abusing the best constitution and the best king any nation was ever blest with
These were the remarks of Franklin, made at the time and on the spot, and he will not be suspected of undervaluing popular rights and popular feelings. He describes the people as intent on nothing but luxury, licentiousness, power, places, pensions and plunder ;' and the ministry as divided in their counsels
, worried by perpetual oppositions, in continual apprehension of changes, and intent on securing popularity in case they should lose favour.'
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Titus Oates had been the first Roi des Halles in EnglandDr. Sacheverel was the second ; and to him, after an interregnum of threescore years, John Wilkes succeeded. After Wilkės, there was a shorter interreign till the accession of Lord George Gordov : during the last twenty years the succession has been interrupted, and the distinguished office was filled by Mr. Hunt, when he was suddenly shorn of his beams by the Act against Seditious Meetings Wilkes was very far the ablest man upon this notable list of worthies, the government by its mis-management placed the laws on bis side, and thus unfortunately provoked a host of generous feelings in aid of one of the greatest profligates of a profligate age. M. Simond is : right in reckoning him among what Mr. Clarkson would call the forerunners and co-adjutors of the American and French Revolutions: beyond a doubt the seeds of disaffection and insubordination were scattered at that time wherever the affairs of England were canvassed; and they took root in America as well as at home. But the ground was ready for the sower. Wilkes would have pro duced little effect if the public mind had not been apt at the time to receive such influences. Concerning America, suffice it in this place to observe, that every thing in the history, habits, institutions and circumstances of that country tended surely and inevitably toward Republicanism. At home there was a great body of latent discontent; it was developed at this time by Wilkes, it was fostered by Juvius and the writers of that school, and it was brought into full action by the American war.
Some influence must be attributed to the leaven which Jaca i bitism had left behind. The Jacobites, indeed, no longer existed as a faction, their hopes having no longer an object whereon to fix; but when disloyalty had ceased, disaffection would in very many instances remain; and men who had been trained up to regard the reigning family with dislike, and desire their overthrow, would be disposed to unite with any party in whom they could find the mere synpathy of opposition. If a generation of perfect tranquillity had intervened, this feeling would have worn out; and all the adherents of the old family would gradually and impercepti, bly have transferred their entire allegiance, as many unquestionably did. But there was no such interval; and it is a curious fact that the last man in England who was a professed Jacobite became a furious Jacobine.
Intinitely more effect is attributable to the state of religion, and the progress of what are called liberal opinions. The American war made the Dissenters feel once more as a political party in the state. New England was more the country of their hearts than the England wherein they were born and bred; and when the flag of Republicanism was hoisted, it awakened hopes which were
lying dormant, and brought forth their old opinions with increased strength.“ England had never been without some few speculative republicans since the time of the Restoration; their tenets had ben come to a certain degree fashionable in the early part of the pre- .. sent reign. The most distinguished poet of his age breathed a spirit of Grecian freedom throughout his writings with an impass sioned and stately eloquence which was at once adapted to elevate youthful minds and impress youthful imaginations. Books were printed with the cap of liberty in the title-page, and a lady favoured the world withi what she was pleased to call a History of England, written upon republican principles,- for which the rector of St. Stephen's, Wallbrook, placed her statue while she was yet living in the chancel of his church. All persons who partook of these opinions wished well of course to the Americans in their resistance to the mother-country. In that Life of Washington which was compiled from his own papers, it is said, that at the commencement of the resistance the popular leaders were greatly encouraged by their zealous friends in England, who exaggerated the divisions and discontents at home, eshorted them to persevere, and assured them that perseverance would crown their patriotic efforts with success! Thus they were stimulated to proceed, in expectation that government must yield, till they were actually engaged in a war, from the thought of which in the first instance they would have shrunk with horror." During the progress of that war Washington constantly enumerated English disturbances among his grounds of hope, dwell ing upon this when he had almost ceased to hope; and there was a secret committee in America empowered by Congress to correspond with their friends in Great Britain and Ireland. Some of the treason which was committed during that war may perhaps appear hereafter when other collections of American state-papers shall be published: -that it existed to a great degree is beyond all doubt.
As there were some persons who favoured the American cause on account of their republican predilections, there were many more who acquired a predilection for republicanism because they favoured the American cause. Indeed it was scarcely possible to consider the character of Washington without feeling some degree of prepossession for whatever opinions might be entertained by so wise and excellent a'man. The Constitution of the United States was extolled as the noblest work of human intellect, and it was believed that all which philosophers had devised in their ideal fábrics of society was realized in America. Little did the enthusiasts who thought thus know what was passing in the mind of Washington himtowards licentiousness and anarchy, confessed to his friends his fears that the great cause in which they had embarked would be dis
honoured and betrayed, and the last and fairest experiment in favour of the rights of human nature turned against them.
An American officer of distinction who had served during the war with La Fayette and Kosciusko, and came to Europe with them in the same vessel after peace had been concluded, wvben he took leave of the latter at Paris, said to bim, I suppose you are going to see what can be done in your own country?' The Pole shook his head, and replied, that the people were not in a fit state for such a revolution. Well had it been for France if La Fayette had had the same wisdom ! But the intellectual atmosphere had received its taint: and as an influenza beginning in Tartary travels from China throughout the whole inhabited part of the old continent, so was this moral pestilence to run its course.. " The trumpet had sounded—Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of earth! and the vial of wrath was poured out.'
If it had been proposed to establish kingdoms in America, and introduce hereditary nobility, with all those gradations of rank which have grown out of the feudal system, and been softened and matured into their present form, men would have perceived the unfitness and impossibility of creating such an order of things in agricultural and commercial colonies. They would have seen that it was as absurd as to erect a modern citadel upon the plan of a baronial castle, or build a cotton-mill upon the model of a cathedral: but they saw no absurdity in reducing Europe to the standard of America, plucking up all her venerable institutions by the roots, and levelling the whole platform of society by the role and line of trans-Atlantic equality. This was a portentous error, though in its origin not altogether without excuse: for the evils of inequality in Europe, from causes which will presently be adverted to, were every day becoming more grievous and more glaring. No generous heart could contemplate those evils without an ardent desire of relieving, and if possible removing them. But men fell into the strange mistake of believing that the facilities of subsistence in America were owing to its form of government, and that the abolition of the privileged orders was all that was needful for placing us in the same condition with the inhabitants of a new country, where hands were wanting to till the ground, and consequently where the wealth of every family was in some degree in proportion to its numbers. Under this delusion, they mistook the means of bettering the condition of the poor, and supposed that the best way to elevate and improve the lower classes was to pull doven all above them.
When these principles began to spread, it so happened that our literary journals were almost wholly in the hands of dissenters, and unore particularly of those dissenters who prided themselves upon the
freedom of their opinions. No sooner had the genuine philosophy. of the fathers of the English church given place to the flimsy metaphysics of the material school, than it was evinced, by the growth of heretical opinions, with what wisdom our ancestors had asserted sound and orthodox learning to be the same. The old religious disputes related almost exclusively to the discipline, the rites, or the ceremonies of the church;--episcopacy or presbytery, adult or infapt baptism, the mode of administering the sacrament,--the use of the cross in baptism, the surplice and the altar, with other such points of controversy, in which the disputants argued from the same premises, and held the same essential faith. Even when doctrines were disputed, they were such as in no ways affected the fundamental principles of Christianity. It was otherwise when Arianism, which, for more than a thousand years, had disappeared from the Christian world, was revived in England. In the Establishment it called forth able defenders of the established truth, and the question there was laid at rest. But among the dissenters, say their historians,
the case was widely different. The people concerned themselves as much about religion as their teachers, and many of them understood as well the doctrines of the Gospel. When the heresy found an entrance here, it created a convulsion in the body, and produced in the adherents to the ancient faith paroxysms of horror and anguish, and roused their most vigorous energies to expel the poison.'
Yet these historians admit that during this period. error was the destroying angel of dissenting congregations. They impute the revival of Arianism to the devil hinself. When it filled the pulpit,' they say, “it invariably emptied the pews. This was the case not only where a part of the congregation, alarmed by the sound of heresy, fled from the polluted house to a separate society, but where no opposition, was made, and all remained without a murmur in the original place. In numerous instances the preacher, full of the wisdom of the serpent, sought, by hiding the monster from their view, to draw them over by stealth to the new theo. logy; and, unveiled his sentiments only as the people were able to bear them without a frown. Though at last his wishes were crowned with success, yet the decay gradually consumed the growth, the strength and the life of the society, till a large congregation was reduced to a handfull. When Socinianism found an entrance, its operations were quicker than those of the Arian creed, and more effectual :: flourishing societies were reduced to a few families, which, being animated with zeal for the new opinions, or indifferent about any, chose to continue to support the mode of worship to which, from education, or use, they were attached. In many places, Socinianism was the abomination of desolation, and consigned what had been formerly the house of prayer, and of the