HISTORIANS OF QUEEN ANNE'S REIGN--SCOTLAND--IRELAND--CONTINENTAL POWERS--"REHEARSAL"--LOCKE, ETC.--MINISTERS AT CLACKMANNON--PROCESSION AT EDINBURGH--PLAYHOUSE--SUPPLEMENTS--EXTRACTS FROM "REHEARSAL."
A GREAT desideratum is a good history of Queen Anne's reign, an exciting and most important period of English history, and none less so than its second quarter. It gave a strong bias to the course of events during succeeding ages, and the effects are still in operation. Volumes, professedly undertaken to serve this purpose, are obviously defective or objectionable in various respects, but more especially because written with such undisguised partiality. Beyer, Tindal, Hallam, Burnet, Mahon, Burton, have all pursued the same track of indiscriminate animosity towards Tories and High Churchmen as one odious class, though these were by no means all united in sympathies or objects. Tindal the copious plagiarist, and Hallam the affected philosopher, are simply Whig Deists of the old school, betraying, in their scorn of religion, a latent fear it might after all be true. Burnet's incurable prejudices and personal antipathies against all who did not stand upon the latitudinarian platform are quite as conspicuous, or else his unpolished narrative is more pleasant reading, and contains more information. Boyer is very dull as well as partial, and Burton over-fond of many-syllabled words to clothe ordinary ideas wanders into byways of remote connection with the subject or title of his work, apparently out of his depth from an incapacity to understand English ways of thought upon religious subjects or their controversies, any more than Scotch Calvinism is intelligible to the ordinary English mind. Mahon's history of Queen Anne is the weakest performance of all, and might more accurately be termed a life of Alexander Stanhope from the prominence afforded him in its pages. ["Queen Anne," vol. ii., passim.] Whig conceptions are rended down without clearing them of their grosser particles, and his notion of the Church in England resembles that of old-fashioned upholsterers concerning a piece of furniture to serve the double purpose of a family chest or bed for a stranger. The Whig cause against Tories and High Churchmen had something in it originally strong and effective; here it is represented in a modern Conservative and Erastian style of far less attractive description. Till a comprehensive and impartial work can be produced, or a qualified advocate shall undertake to defend the un-presented side of the question, one who wishes to ascertain the exact truth must be content to pick his steps cautiously, and leave much that he reads under a Scotch verdict, "not proven." For the purpose of this biography it is not necessary to have more than a general authentic sketch of the state of the nation from time to time, and of those questions in which our subject particularly interested himself. Both at home and abroad events had occurred to strain attention to the highest pitch, but unfortunately the country was divided into parties and factions which could not agree upon any one. They distrusted and opposed each other with a virulence which they did not feel or pretend towards foreigners. The Pretender and France in reality were but names and pretexts under cover of which Whigs and Dissenters sought excuse for inveighing with untiring pertinacity against Tories or High Churchmen, Jacobites or Nonjurors. These, on the other hand, at heart as little inclined to the French, and bitterly regretting the enforced exile of the rightful sovereign from among them, yet were tempted to conceal their pain and affect indifference upon the subject, in consequence of the taunts and grievances daily experienced from their own countrymen.
They were content to leave the question of right in abeyance till the queen's occupation of the throne should terminate in the course of nature. No doubt many sanguinely trusted her feelings would more and more gradually incline to her own family as that time drew nearer, and a chapter of accidents facilitate her brother's succession. Her ambiguous silence helped to encourage such hopes, for which no blame can be justly attributed, as hers was a very novel and peculiar position, and the faintest syllable uttered on the subject liable to exaggeration or misconstruction which might have done irreparable mischief. "Blood is thicker than water," and she had betrayed qualms of conscience, though she could not have felt any very warm affection for a brother she had almost never even seen, whose birth she had regarded as a misfortune, and contributed to render it suspected more than anybody else. To suppose she would secretly desire to repair that wrong, is to give her credit for remorse rather than repentance, without a vestige of proof. On the other hand, she could have no affection for the Hanover family; they were alien to her kindred and personally unacquainted with her. Yet, again, she had an invincible repugnance to Popery, in which her brother had been educated; and they were Protestants of some sort, ready, moreover, to embrace the Church of England for the sake of a crown. The probability is that, though swayed at times by varying emotions like other people, and provoked or flattered into a seeming tacit acquiescence to hints and insinuations dropped on behalf of her brother in conversation, she never once seriously entertained any idea of trying to set aside the Act of Settlement. It would have been dishonourable, because only on the faith of that engagement had the Whig party in power secured her easy accession, without whose support it would have been impossible. Whatever her impenetrable silence really meant, it was the only safe policy to maintain from first to last, and was the highest stretch of wisdom so narrow an intellect was capable of developing without assistance. If Jacobites and Nonjurors misunderstood it, as most of them did, all the better for her purpose of remaining in undisturbed possession, and that was their own affair. Some in Scotland could not be so easily satisfied as those in England to wait upon Providence.
During the years 1703 and 1704 communications passed between them and S. Germain, the general intention of which could not reasonably be doubted, and Sir John Maclean, a man named Kirk, and a few other persons were arrested upon charges of treasonable correspondence which very nearly cost them their lives. Fortunately the business of examination became a bone of contention between the two Houses of Parliament; and the Duke of Queensberry, in over eagerness to exhibit his astuteness, foiled his own game of a grand conspiracy being detected, for proofs were wanting, and the prisoners had at last to be released. He studied the Presbyterian interest in that country as the stronger, so that the Episcopalians were exposed to fresh acts of persecution, and more galling measures against the bare profession of their faith than ever. By a strange irony of fate, under a queen professing the same, it was more severely inhibited than had been the practice under William, who, if anything at all in religion, was a Calvinist like the Presbyterians themselves. Queensberry, with all his servile submission to them, was caught in his own snare, and became as unpopular in the Scotch Parliament as he had feared a just and honourable policy might make him. To what height their intolerance could reach appeared on a proposal to carry the Succession Act there. It was demanded that the Royal prerogative should be limited, all public appointments vested in the Privy Council, and, as if this reduction of sovereignty to a bare shadow were not sufficient, upon pretence of an apprehended invasion, persons suspected of any Jacobite tendency were to be disarmed. Whereas forty thousand standard of arms from the Tower of London were to be dispatched for distribution among her Majesty's loyal subjects professing the Covenant, yet of these a large part had repudiated her title to the crown at a public meeting.
In Ireland the Duke of Ormond had superseded in the vice-royalty Lord Rochester, the queen's uncle, who preferred to live nearer the throne, and desired to have more control over public affairs. However, as he continued much the same line of action, his government gave little more satisfaction to Presbyterians or Romanists. The Test Act had been introduced there with a view of more rigorous exclusion of the latter from any civil office or post of honour, with the strong support of the former. But it was much more cruelly and intolerantly framed than in England, because it also enacted that estates of Papists should be equally divided among their children, except any one of the family should join the communion of the English Church; a very unfair method of reducing the wealth and influence of Romanists, and a very base bribe to apostasy. But the artifice recoiled upon its Presbyterian promoters, for a clause was slyly introduced analogous to the bill against Occasional Conformity, which, of course, served as effectively to cripple themselves by exclusion from the power and influence in public affairs they so much craved for, in order to become predominant in the country after a while. But such are the double-edged weapons which religious and political factions so often inconsiderately manufacture to wound themselves, while aiming to deprive opponents of all liberty of conscience. High and Low Church could find no acceptance as terms descriptive of parties there at that date, because Protestantism among members of the Church of England inclined so invariably downwards. But Whigs and Tories found at once a cordial welcome, and speedily echoed and re-echoed it with . a warmth which showed they had been transplanted to a congenial soil.
Europe continued to be drenched with blood, while crowned heads moved their pieces on its chess-board, and generals sought for fresh laurels. Louis, King of France, lost nothing of his chivalrous bearing because fortune seemed to have turned against him. His generals began to lose heart under defeats, but he maintained an imperturbable show of confidence. The Dutch dare not think of peace, lest they should be submerged behind their own dykes. So long also as they could lay the chief burden of the war upon England, and insist that their troops should not be carried far from their own territory. The emperor was in a very awkward plight. Hungary in a state of half revolt, and Vienna threatened with a siege.
The King of Poland was deposed, his own sons being concerned in the conspiracy, to make room for a mere adventurer, Stanislaus, whose usurpation, however, did not last long. The King of Portugal and the Duke of Savoy both joined the Alliance; but their support meant simply that their pecuniary resources were exhausted, and thai; they desired retaining fees from England for loyalty in future.
Flushed with conquest on several fields of battle, the Duke of Marlborough sought for fresh opportunities of displaying his marvellous military capacity. He had suddenly lost his only son by small-pox; but, after a brief retirement, set out again to drown his grief amid the stirring scenes of the camp and the roar of artillery. Schillenburg, Ingoldstadst, Hocksteedt, or Blenheim (as it came to be called, more euphoniously if less accurately, by Englishmen), Triers, and Landau, one after another, were inscribed upon the brilliant roll of his successes; and the gallant Prince Eugene scarcely acted a less distinguished part, with a generous cordiality rendered more conspicuous by contrast with the pitiful jealousy and incompetence of the Prince of Baden. The one blot upon Marlborough's escutcheon was his utter disregard of the enormous cost to his country at which his victories were purchased, while insatiably eager for self-aggrandizement. His avarice and cupidity were amazing, and his beautiful and tempestuous duchess was as grasping as himself. Ten days after the great battle of Blenheim Sir George Rook bombarded Gibraltar, which the efforts of Spaniards failed to recover, and defeated the French fleet; so that both by sea and land the arms of England were triumphant almost beyond any former experience. But the practical results were nothing. Neither the gravity of these affairs drew off attention from the old subjects of dispute at home, nor put English parties in good humour with each other; nay, rather served to inflame their resentments. The war was as eagerly recommended by Whigs as peace was demanded by Tories; and while the former sedulously depreciated the naval achievements of Sir George Rook because he had the credit of being a High Churchman, the latter put him for much the same reason on a par with Marlborough.
Such, then, in brief, was the state of affairs generally, when Leslie assumed a new character, not without misgivings or reluctance, as the editor of a weekly paper entitled the Rehearsal, in opposition to the many which were published in the Whig interest, such as the Observator, the Review, the Flying Post, and the Mercury. None of them were newspapers in the modern acceptation of the term, for only a small portion of their columns was devoted to the supply of general information about occurrences or affairs taking place either at home or abroad. They mainly-consisted of discussions upon the favourite subjects of contention, highly flavoured to suit the popular palate; and when anything in the shape of news was detailed, it was generally some scandal or story upon which to hang a leading article to the praise or prejudice of a party. Tories and Churchmen had been unrepresented up to 1704 by any regular organ, and accordingly were placed at considerable disadvantage with their opponents, when he volunteered to fill up the gap in some measure. Many of his friends and acquaintances had deplored the want of an antidote to the poisonous literature industriously circulated among the masses, but shrank from the task of providing it, either from a consciousness of their incapacity, or disinclination to brave the odium sure to be incurred. The writer's name could hardly be expected to remain a secret, and his attempt was very like disturbing a wasps' nest. However, Leslie's spirit was stirred within him continually by what he saw and heard of the mischief done by these papers being read in coffee-houses, and recited by hired readers to crowds of eager listeners in the streets, generally poor ignorant people who believed what they heard, when coarse and calumnious attacks were directed against the Church or persons in high office; and the coarser and more calumnious they were, the more adapted to the taste of a mob audience. He did not conceal from himself nor underrate either the difficulty or disagreeableness of his undertaking. No pleasure or profit could possibly accrue to himself from condescending to meet scurrilous opponents on their own ground, and fight them with their own blunt, unpolished weapons of plain language and broad humour, such as the commonalty would appreciate. But this he designed to do, so far as he could, without falling into and imitating the viciousness of their style. De Foe and a man named Tutchin, who had been engaged in Monmouth's rebellion like him and had escaped the heavier penalty of treason with the loss of his ears and a barbarous whipping, were the most notorious of these scribblers. The one conducting almost single-handed several of the above-named papers at the same time, or in succession; the other manager or proprietor of the Observator, a journal formerly edited upon exactly opposite principles by the brilliant Roger Lestrange. It could not be wondered at, if an implacable resentment burned in the breasts of these two men against the party naturally associated in their minds with the cruel punishment inflicted upon them. But their wrongs afforded little palliation or excuse for the indecencies of abuse and slander in which their revenge frequently indulged against clergy and gentry, who personally had never in the most indirect manner been concerned in any offence towards either.
Leslie's hope was, by adopting a plain and humorous style, to gain the ear of the public at first; then, when he had disabused it of common fallacies and misrepresentations, to elevate the tone of thought and win attention to convincing argument on higher and more serious topics; in which endeavour he soon succeeded beyond his expectation. Though some, who approved of the enterprise, regarded it as hopeless; and others as beneath the dignity of any one of ability and character to pit himself against such adversaries as he had to encounter. Some had even ventured to designate themselves accurately enough as the Scandalous Club, but with defiant imprudence; for English people, even when supporting a bad cause or bad advisers, have seldom been so lost to self-respect or a sense of the fitness of things as to relish the appearance of approving scandal only because it is scandalous. His own conscience afforded the answer to these objections, though he fully appreciated their weight under other circumstances; and, as he said himself, he "was content to be a servant of Christ and abase himself to the lowest degree if thereby he might do good," and contribute in any measure to popularize the cause of truth and righteousness, taking for his motto tilt-admirable old maxim, "Magna est veritas et prsevalebit," which, however, cannot be said to be confirmed by universal experience. [Apoc., Esdras iv. 35, 41.] The title "Rehearsal" was adopted to indicate in a general way his purpose of innocent ridicule and banter, from a very famous and successful play, acted in 1671, and published the next year. It was a joint composition of several wits--namely, Butler, author of "Hudibras;" Villiers, Duke of Buckingham; Dr. Sprat, afterwards Bishop of Rochester; and Martin Clifford, highly eulogized by Sprat as a critic, but leaving nothing to justify this reputation among posterity, unless it has been his share in the "Rehearsal" which has never been defined. Originally this farce was intended against Davenant, but afterwards understood to be directed against Dryden, in parody of his "Conquest of Granada," and other plays. Johnson has pointed out an objection to this view, that these were not published till after the "Rehearsal;" and several personal allusions, which suited Sir William Davenant, who had been a soldier and friend of Milton, have no application whatever to Dryden. But it is enough to say, in reply to this, that he took it to himself in his dedication of the translation of Juvenal. Much of the satire, which is now unintelligible for loss of reliable references, was supposed to be well understood at that time, and Leslie had derived great amusement from its perusal, as appears from many allusions besides the use of the title. Dryden declared "the author sate to himself, and was the very Bayes of his own farce, and therefore scorned to reply." But he felt its sting severely, while he met with scant sympathy, because most people deemed his conversion to Rome an act of hypocrisy of a piece with some other unpleasant passages of his history. The first number of the Rehearsal appeared in print upon Saturday, August 5, 1704; commencing by way of introduction with some remarks upon a fictitious number of the Observator assailing "Cassandra," and in the form of a dialogue, which was retained during the continuance of its publication. Then its earlier pages were chiefly occupied with a discussion about Sir George Rook's merits as a naval commander. Writers since have been as much divided upon the question as his contemporaries. It appears plainly enough that at that time his political and religious character gave most of its warmth to the dispute, and that had this borne a different complexion he would have been spared the greater part of the censures, taunts, and complaints heaped upon him. Two great generals, Schomberg and Wellington, have asserted the inaccuracy of most descriptions of battles ventured by historians; and the probability is that none but professional men are competent to criticize either naval or military achievements. It is well known they are not exempt from jealousies and partialities, but at least they possess that technical acquaintance with their subject, the want of which must deprive the comments of mere outsiders of any great value; just as they are ill qualified for pronouncing peremptory decrees upon ecclesiastical subjects to which some nevertheless are very prone. His admirer showed a lack of discretion in exalting his services in a manner which seemed rather to disparage the magnitude of Marlborough's victories; for, though it failed to excite any unpleasant rivalry between the two heroes themselves. it manifestly provoked Sir George's adversaries to more violent reproaches. Leslie defended him warmly, but in a more prudent manner, by reciting his previous exploits and the praise bestowed upon them by high authorities At the same time, he fully admitted the justice of all which was said in praise of the duke, and of Sir Cloudeslex Shovel, another commander who was being extolled for the same ungenerous purpose of depreciating his superior officer in these engagements at sea. He objected to am comparisons being drawn between the merits of such men and exposed the real source of Sir George's unpopularity among Whigs and Dissenters; while, to prevent any imputation on his own motives, he carefully announced that, so far from being his friend, he had no personal acquaintance with him, nor even knew him by sight. Such a dispassionate and impartial testimony proved more effective in discountenancing clamour than many extravagant eulogies. After these heats had somewhat subsided, or other victims were found for attack by partisan writers, one thing remained which all persons in England could regard without any semblance of satisfaction; that was--Gibraltar itself. It has remained a source of satisfaction ever since; but whether, like Calais or Dunkirk, some government of the future will not surrender it for a consideration, or the carrying out of a grand policy to legitimate issues, appears within the range of speculation already, and England hold no more the key of the Mediterranean.
Our Rehearser by no means espoused Tory schemes and proposals of Tories with undiscriminating zeal, but considered each one simply on its own merits. When, therefore, the Earl of Rochester proposed that the Electress of Hanover or her son should be invited over to this country, it met from him uncompromising resistance. Such an idea had originated with the Whigs, who intended to have at hand a counter-irritation and camp of intrigue, whilst the queen sided with their opponents. When her influence began to be thrown into the opposite scale, and her ministry to change its character, then Rochester thought to trump the Whig card by this strange alteration of front. It was a disingenuous manoeuvre, the object of which was obvious beyond all concealment, and therefore Whigs were justified in their immediate change and withdrawal from their former position. Leslie opposed it from first to last as a most injudicious proceeding, whether supported by one party or another, naturally calculated to cause uneasiness to the queen, to intensify political dissensions and strengthen the revolutionary principle of making regal dignity elective, and the throne dependent upon the will of the people. He pointed out distinctly and emphatically the dangerous issues involved in the proposal, and how badly it had worked when such an experiment had been tried before in English history.
Few can doubt the force of his reasoning, that a prince placed in such a position necessarily becomes the leader of a party, and a rival of the sovereign in possession; while the people become inured to that fatal, injurious doctrine, "the worse title the better king," because he must be more subservient to their wishes in proportion, as he is dependent upon their favour. That doctrine, as insisted upon with unceasing vehemence and pertinacity in the Observator and other papers, need have claimed no more than a cursory notice had it not been borrowed from and supported by champions of far higher calibre, such as Algernon Sidney and John Locke, both men of great intellectual power. It was, therefore, to these and their arguments upon several topics, especially the latter's, that an elaborate reply was addressed in many numbers of the Rehearsal. Locke attained high eminence among men of letters entirely by his own talents and untiring assiduity, but never received from his party that reward to which his services entitled him, though he had shared exile and misfortune with some of its leaders. If his religious opinions were widely apart from true Christianity, yet that could have been no offence or excuse for neglect in their eyes, while his private character was unblemished, and his disposition kind and liberal. But the theory he propounded in his two "Treatises on Government" will not stand the test of Scripture, to which himself appealed. One is not bound to adopt the rival scheme of Filmer in its integrity, or any other, in order to arrive at this conclusion, for his premises are inconsistent with plain facts, and texts are strained to convey a meaning which they cannot reasonably bear. Still he laboured carefully to substantiate his idea of the origin of government by evidences convincing to his own mind, instead of adopting the much easier plan of "summarily brushing aside" the arguments of opponents with the lofty disdain of professedly merciful critics of a modern date. [Stephen, "English Thought," ii. 135.] It should be remembered that the refutation contained in the Rehearsal had to be written in simple and homely language according to the author's original plan; yet substantially it was complete and convincing. Tutchin and De Foe were glad to drop the subject, while numbers of persons among the uneducated classes who had imbibed their notions openly avowed a change of opinion. Those who care to form a just conception of the whole controversy ought to read both Locke's treatises and the Rehearsal together; a labour which will well repay the time and attention it requires by the clearness of thought produced, whichever view they may adopt, upon a subject of permanent interest. But a majority of readers will be content with a slight specimen of our author's arguments in his own words, which have not lost their native force because a revolution succeeded in overthrowing an hereditary monarchy two centuries ago, only to establish a new one in its place upon a different basis. The really important question remains for consideration--what system of government, if any, has the better claim to divine authority? Comparisons between particular sovereigns and royal houses do not touch the one point in debate; nor that other question introduced to escape a plain issue--what remedy subjects may justly have recourse to, when a tyrannical or vicious monarch persists in disregarding the teaching of reason and religion to the detriment of a whole kingdom.
Many topics fully treated in the Rehearsal have frequently recurred to be discussed in newspapers and public circles with an amusing air of novelty, as if they had only just sprung up and nothing ever been said about them before. Errors and blunders and misstatements are repeated by speakers and writers, quite unconscious that they have been completely exposed and refuted long ago; whilst on the other hand, with an equally charming simplicity, weapons from time to time are produced in defence of truth as of the most recent manufacture in clever heads, which, after doing good service, had been laid by and gone to rest in the libraries of our forefathers. Terms of communion or separation; the argument for an Established Church; the relative position and use of the Thirty-nine Articles; popular preaching, its use and abuse;--few persons would readily admit that there is not a great deal to be said upon any one of these. Nevertheless they would find by turning over the pages of the first volume of this journal they might save trouble, and could hardly more effectually strengthen their position at least on the orthodox side, than by simply reproducing what has there been stated. There is nothing new under the sun except men and women themselves. Their imaginations, devices, ways of thought, philosophy, and discoveries are all old, for the most part poor imitations and repetitions of what went before.
Leslie managed to procure early and authentic information, which often took his opponents by surprise and greatly disconcerted them; sometimes also effectually unravelling the falsehood of reports which their papers disseminated. Yet he had no regular staff of assistants or correspondents, but simply relied upon friends and voluntary communications for the trustworthiness of his statements or corrections; and never in a single instance was he convicted of any material error concerning a matter of fact, the reverse of which was notorious with the other side. And the plain reason of this difference lay in his honesty of purpose and design. He had no desire to supply news, detail scandal, false or true, against individuals, or wound private feelings; but to discuss public questions so far as they involved the Church's welfare, and carry on a crusade against principles which he deemed pernicious and dangerous to society. In prosecution of this purpose he did not hesitate to condemn proceedings whether of persons or parties in any public place. Such, for instance, was a sermon preached by a Presbyterian minister at Clackmannon, in 1705, who told his poor ignorant hearers that Christmas Day, which in Scotland is called "Yule," was observed only in memory of a dog which had been hung upon a tree for six hours, but when taken down as dead ran away yelping and "yuiling" in a strange manner. The name and place were distinctly specified to give room for inquiry or disproof, if possible; but the story was fully confirmed. That such an incident should not have elicited a single expression of regret, reproof, or apology from Presbyterians, illustrates unmistakably the prevalent spirit amongst them. Indeed, it was no such exceptional sort of occurrence as to demand much attention; and when exposed, the only surprise expressed in Scotland being that English people should disturb themselves about the matter, while some deemed it a good joke. Nor was that the worst instance of profane jesting. A procession passed through the streets of Edinburgh, wherein were the public hangman and prison officials dressed up to represent priests, with crosses on their caps, a Bible, a chalice, and the Holy Sacrament, taken from an altar, in their hands, together with a picture of the blessed Saviour upon the point of an halberd, which then were burnt in a bonfire! Now, this profane exhibition was no sudden freak or excess of a mob under circumstances of some extraordinary excitement, but deliberately ordered and executed under the authority of the Privy Council as a protest against Popery and prelacy. All that was uttered in defence of the proceeding was by De Foe in the Flying Post, who did not venture to deny the accuracy of the narrative as a whole; but quibbled about the certainty of a Bible being included in the conflagration, because it was a copy of the Latin Vulgate, and the terming of the sacred Host our Lord's body. That Presbyterians might not feel themselves outdone by their brethren in Scotland, since the anniversary of King Charles's martyrdom happened to fall upon a Tuesday, 'which was the weekly lecture day at two of their meetinghouses in London, they sang by way of thanksgiving this rendering of Psalm cxviii. 23, 24--
"This was the mighty work of God,
This was the Lord's own act,
And it is wondrous to behold
With eyes that noble fact."
The same party who sanctioned and united in these things were they who pleaded the virtue of moderation, and complained of being suspected of sympathy with those regicides of 1641! Then there was the Playhouse, built and opened with great ceremony under the auspices of the Kitcat Club, an institution precisely similar to the Calves'-head, and to which the queen was unhappily induced to give her name, at the time when S. Paul's Cathedral languished in a condition of most unseemly neglect for want of funds to repair it. These are only a few out of many proceedings of the same party condemned in the Rehearsal. And surely it was a noble enterprise to undertake, before the nation should be hopelessly saturated again by principles, the terrible result of which was burnt into Leslie's mind by his own remembrance and his father's sufferings for nearly twenty years? No amount of obloquy turned him from his path, so that by the close of 1705 his No paper had a circulation equal to any of its contemporaries, with a far higher reputation. This success suggested an insinuation by the Observator that he was--though his identity could only be shrewdly guessed at as yet--hired by a party to write for them. It came with cool assumption from Tutchin, who himself occupied that very position, as well as De Foe; but he could with the greatest sincerity assure his readers that he had not pocketed a single penny by his performance; and if inquiry had been pushed further, the publisher could have testified, with equal or greater satisfaction, that he was losing nothing by his venture. Beyond, however, his reasonable remuneration, all the profits accruing from publication went towards the increase of its circulation; and De Foe's accusation, repeated by one of his venomous biographers, of "being busy about raising contributions," had not a shadow of foundation, though a very innocent charge if it had been true. That Nonjurors and Tories distributed copies gratis is very probable, but without any concert or even acquaintance with its author. They did so simply in self-defence, and to promote their own principles, therefore the fact serves only as an additional testimony to the paper's value in public estimation. Nor was support long required, for so soon as it became sufficiently known it paid its way. If subscriptions had been required, they could have been easily procured, or even secret-service money such as De Foe received at the hands of Harley, who had succeeded in ousting Lord Nottingham and installing himself in the ministry. But Leslie could not have accepted either one or other, because he had no intention of crippling the freedom of his pen, or adapting his principles to the exigencies of any party by becoming their tool or hireling. Indeed, a little attention to the selection of his subjects of discussion ought to have obviated the necessity of any denial; for nothing would have been more easy and acceptable to the popular taste than discussions about elections and various matters of gossip, or a column for a rival scandal club, which were rigorously excluded, because inconsistent with the author's single aim. Neither was any pen engaged in the composition but his own--except, perhaps, his son Robert's occasionally. As he said, "politics were not his talent, nor his taste, but to write and converse upon argument and reason, fact and Holy Scripture, except so far as the best politics had a foundation, and were involved in these." An illustration of this lay in a matter already noticed--the proposal to bring over to reside in this country a member of the house of Hanover during Queen Anne's lifetime. If he had wished to cultivate the goodwill of the Tory party in Parliament, no finer opportunity could have been sought. For the changing of both sides from their former professions on the question rendered the charge of inconsistency no heavier against the one than the other; and this artifice of Lord Rochester met too ready an approval as a fine piece of policy against the court and the Whigs. But his disclaimer, with that of other honourable men, was so decided as to give great offence to some in high position, whose friendship could have been of service, and even to win an expression of admiration from the lips of his adversary, Dr. Burnet. He alluded now in terms of the utmost respect to the queen, even of regard; though she never noticed him, nor was he prepared to accept a favour. This proceeded not only from a chivalrous disinclination to disturb her reign, but also--for he knew she saw the Rehearsal--that he might remind her of her own solemn professions of affection and assurances of support to the Church of England. Dr. Drake, an able writer, was employed to defend the Tory change of front, on the ground that now was a seasonable time for that which was improper before. Leslie did not know for certain who the author was or his design, while he expressed a high opinion of him if being the person reputed as such. At the same time, he begged to disclaim this poor pretext on behalf of High Churchmen as advanced upon mere Whig principles, nor, if otherwise, allowable when distasteful to her Majesty. Further, he declared himself no enemy to the succession of the house of Hanover "in God's own time, and if His providence should make way for it according to truth and right," in the Act of Succession lately passed, though he could wish the queen had issue of her own. Not, indeed, that he meant to imply that any change of feeling and opinion had come over him since the death of James II. But for the present he stood released from any necessity of actual service in behalf of the Heir of the Stuart family, until he might be reconciled to the nation, and give a satisfactory pledge to govern according to law. His admissions, however, so far from smoothing the irritation of either party, were only distorted into reflections upon the House of Hanover, and presuming to limit Providence, with a view of course of prejudicing him with that family, for it kept a keen eye upon the various currents of opinion in England. This he dismissed with a curt denial, but replied more warmly to another charge against him as a Nonjuror of "belonging to some other Church than that which the rubrics and canons appoint and establish." His answer is worthy of attention, because it defines the attitude which he assumed, and wished to be understood to assume at that date. "When did I distinguish myself from that Church which the rubrics and canons appoint? I'm sure I never had any other Church, and I hope I never shall, unless she be taken from us. I'm resolved, with the grace of God, to keep close to her while one rag of hers is left together. And now I'll tell you freely, sir, if I have any scruples concerning the Church of England, it is that she may leave me and not I her; that is, that she may die before me, which God of His infinite mercy prevent." Once more, also, he repelled the accusation borrowed from Dr. Burnet of inventing the distinction of High and Low Church in these vigorous terms. "You cannot but know that in all I have wrote I have constantly declared my abhorrence of it, and said that it was set up by the Whigs and Dissenters on purpose to have a handle, under the name of High Church, to blacken the whole Church. ... If by adopting you mean using it, you do so too on speaking against it. It is now become the language of the nation, and a man would not be understood if he did not use it."
I. Set Forms of Prayer.--Are we not to sing with the Spirit as well as pray with the Spirit? Are they not both in the same text, I Cor xiv. 15? Then, if by the spirit be meant extempore, we must sing extempore psalms, and to extempore tunes. It is the spirit of devotion which is here meant, not the spirit of extempore effusions, or ready invention and turning of words, which is gained by art and custom, as we see even in schoolboys. Forms of prayer are no more an hindrance to devotion than a form of psalms and set tunes; rather a great furtherance and help in easing the speaker from the labour of invention, and the hearers from expectance and curiosity of what comes next: which is a set form to them, without the security of proper matter and words. So that all the choice left to hearers of any sort is only this--whether they would have a form of sound words, which they know beforehand to be such, as the Lord's Prayer, etc., or a form as to them, whatever it be with the speaker, wherein there is great hazard, and frequent experience of both words and matter being very undigested, unseemly, and even unsound. The alternative is whether they would have a good form or a bad one, since form it must be; and whether they should sing well or ill, if singing they will have.
2. A Church Establishment, and Terms of Communion.--It seems as impossible for any country to profess a religion without having some Church established, as for a State to exist without a government established. The Church (so now let me call it, for I speak not of true or false) which was established among the heathen as well as among Jews and Christians, was always a part of the State, and the principal part of it; all contravention to it was reckoned an infraction upon the State. Even in Holland, that place of toleration, they have an Established Church, and so guarded that none of any other communion have access to magistracy or share in the government.
When Christ our Lord founded His religion, He established a Church, not upon secular power, but to show its independency and prerogative above all others, with authority in the governors the apostles, and their successors the bishops, to the end of the world, to admit into and govern this society, and to exclude out of it and from al the privileges of it, both in this world and that to come. Without a Church no religion can be preserved, therefore the Christian Church is called the pillar and ground of the truth. No man can be excommunicated or turned out of an opinion, or the privileges of it; but he may out of a society. Therefore the Church is a society, with governors, rules, and privileges; not a company of professors only, far less of mere thinkers without restraint or limitation.
When any man has a mind to come into a Church, and inquires what are the terms of communion, the meaning is, what are particular to that Church, and not used elsewhere. And of this sort I know none in the Church of England but the Apostles' Creed, which is required at baptism. To be reconciled to the Church of Rome, one must subscribe to the Creed of Pope Pius IV., which includes the twelve new articles of Trent, which that council added to the twelve of the Apostles' Creed. Therefore they make these properly terms of communion. For the Church of England the Thirty-nine Articles, Canons, and Homilies, are required only from the clergy as a test of their doctrine, that they all may teach the same thing, and to prevent various and erroneous opinions being preached among the people to their distraction. No such subscriptions are asked of any layman. And in all Churches and societies there are other tests required from the officers who are entrusted with the affairs of the society, than from the common members.
Indifferent things, about which Dissenters make such a stir, were not imposed upon them as terms of communion, for they were fixed and established before they broke off from the Church, and were complied with by them as well as by others. Therefore, when they broke off, they made those indifferent things terms of separation; but they were never made by the Church any terms, of communion, nor are at this day. Dissenters quarrel with them because they can find no other cause of quarrel;-that is, indeed, no cause at all, for none yet ever held that an indifferent thing was a sufficient ground to embroil a Church or State. Let such a principle into an army, what fine work it would make! It would be like the fellow at Bothwell Bridge, a Covenanter, who at exercising never budged a foot at the word of command to the right, left, or about, but stood musing like a stake; and when his captain bade him mind, he said, "No, he didn't approve of his way of exercise." "Why?" said the captain. "Because," said he, "we are fighting against set forms, and it is a set form."
3. Canonization.--The Church of England canonizes none, nor keeps the memorials of any but who are recorded for saints in Holy Scripture. Putting a man in heaven is something like it, if we cannot take him out again, as Dissenters have done. Baxter, who bragged that he had "spent gallons of blood fighting against the king (Charles I.)," in his "Saints' Everlasting Rest," edition 1649, translated those of the regicides then dead straight into heaven, and named several of them--as Brook and Pirn, Hampden and White, and Twiss, who was "Moderator" of the "Assembly of Divines." And he described heaven in the form of a Parliament, and called it the "blessed Parliament "--he meant it in that form which which was then, that is without a king. Having canonized these, he again riveted and confirmed his grant to them in the next edition, 1652. Yet, after all, he took them out of heaven, or dropt them; for they were left out in the new editions of his book after the Restoration, 1660. He was then ashamed of his saints, or afraid to own them, and left them to shift for themselves, lest he might have been sent to bear them company, which for all his assurance he had no mind to do.
A word about one of these saints, respecting the manner of his translation. Lord Brook favoured the Parliament against the king; we must suppose trusting for his reward to Baxter's Parliament of heaven. On March 2 (day of S. Chad, the bishop who built Lichfield Cathedral) this man was seated in his chamber in the town, out of all danger, and exercising his "talent of praying" publicly, though his chaplains were present; for the pale of the Church was then broken down. All men and women acted the priest, and took heaven literally by violence. He prayed that "if the cause he was in were not right and just, he might be presently cut off." Presently he was shot in the eye with a bullet from the close, by a common soldier, and instantly died. Whence Mr. Baxter sent him to that heaven governed by a Parliament. It had been better to have followed the ingenious Milton, who, in his "Paradise Lost," makes Lucifer to have called a Parliament in hell, himself the first speaker, to assert their "rights and liberties" against the "arbitrary" government of the king.
4. Mr. Locke's Treatise on Government.--" Concerning the infirmities of health and avocations of business, which in a number, though much less than that of a commonwealth, will necessarily keep many away from the public assembly: and the variety of opinions and contrariety of interests, which unavoidably happen in all collections. 'Tis next to impossible (that the consent of every individual should ever be had)."--Locke, vol. ii. 318. Yet, in the very page before, he makes the consent of every individual to be necessary, and the foundation of all political society. If it "never" could be had, then not upon one occasion more than another. Nor can any occasion be mentioned more likely to create variety of opinions and contrariety of interests than the contrivance of government and the choice of- governors. So that Locke himself is plainly shown to confuse himself, owning that the foundation of popular government is nonsense and an impossibility.
Legislative power, wherever it is placed, in any sort of government is, and must be, arbitrary and absolute; it is impossible to be otherwise, and every man sees this in all governments upon the face of the earth. The legislature is not bound to its own laws, but may repeal them at leisure; or before repeal may dispense with them, or leap over them and act contrary to them. In short, may do what they will, and make what they will to be law, for their will is the law. Therefore if, as Mr. Locke say, she has proved "no man can subject himself to the arbitrary power of another," no man can subject himself to any government, of what sort or size so ever. Nor can there be such a thing as government kept up in the world. And if, as he says, "no man has power over the life or property of another," then the whole community cannot force upon any single individual who shall gainsay their constitution, nor compel him to leave them or his native country and birthright. If, as he says again, "no man can transfer to another more power than he has in himself, and that no body has power to destroy his own life," then how came any government to have power of life and death? Mr. Locke confesses the individuals could not give it. Who else was there to give it? I doubt a little divine right must come in here. What else can give to another that power over my life which I have not myself? Again, "He is in a much worse condition that is exposed to the arbitrary power of one man who has the command of 100,000, than he that is exposed to the arbitrary power of 100,000 single men." This is so very senseless (with all respect to Mr. Locke's judgment) that it is even a shame to answer it. A general or a king may command hard things, as to march upon the mouth of a cannon and hang a man for a very small matter, stepping out of his rank or taking an egg, though he were starving and had not a penny to pay for it, or for asking his pay though it be due to him; yet, with all this arbitrariness, is not this a better state of things for these 100,000 men than anarchy. and letting them all loose, upon one another, to rob, plunder, and kill at discretion? [These iniquities here instanced were actually perpetrated William the usurper.] If the number be greater, as of millions in a kingdom, the confusion and destruction would be proportionably greater; and if the whole world were in this supposed "state of nature," it would be one Aceldama. and nothing but hell could equal the wild uproar. Yet Mr. Locke thinks this much preferable to living under the absolute government either of a king or a commonwealth.
In ch. xix. p. 422, he says, that "if a government be arbitrary it is dissolved, and the people are restored to their original state of nature;" but he does not "suppose the people will continue in that state, but may choose a new legislature for themselves, in what form or manner they think fit." Suppose, according to him, the government dissolved, and all the individuals of England and Scotland rendered wholly independent of each other, in his supposed state of nature, all and every one of them upon a level I dare say it would be doomsday in the afternoon before they could frame any sort of government whatever, upon the free vote and consent of every individual. Besides what is said above of investing the government with the power of life and death, which Locke confesses they could not give as not having it in themselves, and which would be much worse than the state of nature or pure anarchy.
I have quoted Locke thus particularly on purpose to show that the most acute and celebrated of the Whig writers can speak no more sense upon this subject than John Tutchin, etc.
5. Vox Populi vox Dei.--Whatever founds government must be superior to it. Government must derive its original and whole authority from it, be accountable to it, and dissolvable whenever it thinks fit. Government among men cannot be derived from mere human authority. This is so very obvious, that all governments whatever, of whatever sort, and among all nations and religions, do pretend to a divine right. Whigs and commonwealth men do. Their maxim is, "Vox populi vox Dei," that the voice of the people is the voice of God; so that whomsoever the people set up is set up by God, is God's anointed vice-regent, etc. The heathens pleaded a divine right, but, not knowing the Holy Scriptures, groped in the dark after it. On all hands it is confessed that no government can stand without a divine original right and authority; for what else can give one man power over another, over his life, liberty, and property? Besides, it is utterly impossible for any government to have been set up by the free vote of every individual, which is the foundation of Mr. Locke's and all republican schemes. So that if I should allow their maxim, and by the voice of the people mean the voice of every individual, fairly and truly collected, without force, fear, or any other collision, I need not be afraid of the divine right of any such act of the people, since they never did any act whatever, from the beginning of the world, much less so material an act as the contriving and erecting of government, by any such free and unanimous consent. In histories, and even in Holy Scripture, it is said the people did so and so, by which phrase is not meant every individual, but the greater part. Belial put that notion, of the generality of the people being the voice of God, into the heads of his sons, whom he stirred up to vindicate their "liberty" against David, and to set up his son, a vain young man, in his stead. This is the first instance we have of "Vox populi vox Dei." After this, ten tribes rebelled against the house of David, and became a distinct kingdom, and their kings were elected by the people. This case is determined by the mouth of God Himself (Hosea viii. 4): "They have set up kings, but not by Me; they have made princes, and I knew it not." To conclude this point, was the voice of the people the voice of God when they preferred Barabbas to our blessed Saviour, and their voice prevailed with Pilate to condemn Him? Go through all the histories and instances, you will find it oftener the voice of the devil, especially in matters of government; for God ordained the people to be governed, and when they usurp the office, they invert the institution of God and are actual rebels against Him, and enlist themselves under the banner of Belial, whose service, instead of God's, they take to be perfect freedom. In the kingdom of Judah, the hereditary right of succession being preserved, the people were in quiet, and the kingdom prospered until the Babylonish captivity. In the other of Israel, where little regard was had to succession, what else is to be met with but seditions, murders, and destruction? As their kings mounted the throne by blood of their predecessors, and were not removed without blood, so the people that chose them were continually butchering and destroying one another.
6. The Original State of Nature one of Government, not Independency.--Government is dependency when one depends upon another. It is superiority when one is superior and another inferior. Therefore they who would have the original of government in the people are obliged to suppose a state of independency among all mankind, when no man in the world had any dependence upon any other, and when no man was superior to another. This they call the state of nature; and if such a state cannot be shown, their whole scheme falls to the ground. They happened ill to call this the state of nature among a race of mankind who all came into the world by generation. Nature has imprinted nothing more strongly upon all mankind than the duty and dependence of children towards their parents, and the superiority of parents over their children. Where either parents or children offend against this law of nature, the parents in not taking care of and providing for their children, or the children in not returning duty and obedience to their parents, such are called unnatural. This is the common sentiment of all mankind; therefore this supposed independent statement must be looked for among the pre-Adamites. Or we must suppose a shower of men dropping out of the clouds without fathers or mothers, all upon the level. Or that men were created in multitudes like the beasts, etc. Then, indeed, two men created at the same time, and not deduced the one from the other, would be independent as to nature. Without that, the independent cannot be the state of nature, but contrary to it. Now let us observe how God, designing man for government, expressed it in the economy of His creation, and founded it in very nature. He created but one man, and did not create the woman at the same time, lest she might have pleaded independency; but made her afterwards out of the man, which showed her dependency on him, and she was made for his use as a helpmeet for him. The apostle argues the authority of the man over the woman from his being first created (i Tim. ii. 12, 13).
Mr. Locke laughs at this argument, which, having been urged by Sir Robert Filmer, he answers thus: "This argument will make the lion have as good a title to government as Adam, and certainly the ancienter." Could this pass from a schoolboy? It is answered like a merry-andrew, besides the utter contempt of and burlesquing the Holy Scriptures. But we must suppose Mr. Locke (like the rest of the Commonwealth men) little conversant with those sacred oracles, otherwise he, who pretended to sobriety and a character, would not have attacked the argument of the apostle in the person of Sir R. Filmer. God did not leave it wholly to nature, but added His positive command and instruction for government between Adam and Eve (Gen. iii. 16; i Cor. xiv. 34). Otherwise Eve-might have disputed it with Adam, as some of her daughters have done since. Honour and obedience are due from children to their mothers as well as to their fathers, but insubordination to him, if their commands should interfere with his, must take place. The supreme power is only in the Father. Therefore, when He asserts His supreme authority over us, He calls Himself our Father and never our mother. The common way of all the earth from Adam to this day has been that the firstborn son should succeed in the power and government of the father upon his decease. The way of the whole earth is the surest rule we have to know what we call the law of nature. But it is a yet surer indication of matter of fact that this was the method from the beginning, when we see not its beginning or institution set up as a new thing in after or later ages, but to have come down in full currency from the beginning.
The first commonwealths that ever were in the world were those of Greece, which began by rebellions of soldiers. And the whole curse of them while they lasted was confusion and contest about their new schemes of government which they had invented. Before that time the way and manner of the whole earth, without any exception, was hereditary monarchy. This rule of hereditary succession was broken sometimes by the special command of God, who is Master of His own rules; but we are not. Christ is called our "Elder Brother;" and the Church triumphant "the Church of the Firstborn." Mr. Locke, the oracle of the Whigs, says that "the power of the husband is founded on contract." Suppose the husband should make a contract to obey, and the wife to command. Such promises are frequently made in wooing. Would that cancel the original institution? At this rate the duty of wives would be very different. Mr. Locke is so gracious indeed as to suppose that this contract did not begin till it could begin, and that age and reason loosen the bonds of this subjection as children grow up, and leave them at their own free disposal. These bonds are not temporary because they do not exist, if by that he meant any sense of duty towards our parents, for children in swaddling-clothes cannot have that sense. They could not come before age and reason, which wear them quite off; so they never were at all!