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our British government, more than any other sovereignty in Europe ; as, in the first place, there is no other nation which is so equally divided into two opposite parties, whom it is impossible to please at the same time. Our notions of the public good, with relation both to ourselves and foreigners, are of so different a nature, that those measures which are extolled by one half of the kingdom, are naturally decryed by the other. Besides, that in a British administration, many acts of government are absolutely necessary, in which one of the parties must be favoured and obliged, in opposition to their antagonists. So that the most perfect administration, conducted by the most consummate wisdom and probity, must unavoidably produce opposition, enmity, and defamation, from multitudes who are made happy by it.
Farther, it is peculiarly observed of our nation, that almost every man in it is a politician, and hath a scheme of his own, which he thinks preferable to that of any other person. Whether this may proceed from that spirit of liberty which reigns among us, or from those great numbers of all ranks and conditions, who from time to time are concerned in the British legislature, and by that means are let into the business of the nation, I sball not take upon me to determinc. But for this reason it is certain, that a British ministry must expect to meet with many censurers, even in their own party, and ought to be satisfied, if, allowing to every particular man that his private scheme is wisest, they can persuade him that next to his own plan that of the government is the most eligible.
Besides, we have a set of very honest and well meaning gentlemen in England, not to be met with in other countries, who take it for granted they can never be in the wrong, so long as they oppose ministers of state. Those whom they have admired through the whole course of their lives for their honour and integrity, though they still persist to act in their former character,
and change nothing but their stations, appear to them in a disadvantageous light, as soon as they are placed upon state emi
Many of these gentlemen have been used to think there is a kind of slavery in concurring with the measures of great men, and that the good of the country is inconsistent with the inclinations of the court : by the strength of these prejudices, they are apt to fancy a man loses his honesty, from the very moment that he is made the most capable of being useful to the public; and will not consider that it is every whit as honourable to assist a good minister as to oppose a bad one.
In the last place, we may observe, that there are greater numbers of persons who solicit for places, and perhaps are fit for them, in our own country, than in any other. To which we must add that, by the nature of our constitution, it is in the power of more particular persons in this kingdom, than in any other, to distress the government when they are disobliged. A British minister must, therefore, expect to see many of those friends and dependants fall off from him, whom he cannot gratify in their de mands upon him; since to use the phrase of a late statesman, who knew very well how to form a party, 'the pasture is not large enough.
Upon the whole : the condition of a British minister labours under so many difficulties, that we find in almost every reign since the conquest, the chief ministers have been new mcn, or such as have raised themselves to the greatest posts in the gov. ernment, from the state of private gentlemen. Several of them neither rose from any conspicuous family, nor left any behind them, being of that class of eminent persons, whom Sir Francis Bacon speaks of, who, like comets or blazing stars, draw upon them the whole attention of the age in which they appear, though nobody knows whence they came, nor where they are lost. Persons of hereditary wealth and title have not been over-forward
to engage in so great a scene of cares and perplexities, nor to run all the risks of so dangerous a situation. Nay, many whose greatness and fortune were not made to their hands, and had sufficient qualifications and opportunities of rising to these high posts of trust and honour, have been deterred from such pursuits by the difficulties that attend them, and chose rather to be easy than powerful : or, if I may use the expression, to be carried in the chariot than to drive it.
As the condition of a minister of state in general is subject to many burdens and vexations; and as that of a British minister in particular is involved in several hazards and difficulties peculiar to our own country; so is this high station exposed more than ordinary to such inconveniences in the present juncture of affairs; first, as it is the beginning of a new establishment among us; and, secondly, as this establishment hath been disturbed by a dangerous rebellion.
If we look back into our English history, we shall always find the first monarch of a new line received with the greatest opposition, and reconciling to himself, by degrees, the duty and affection of his people. The government, on such occasions, is always shaken before it settles. The inveteracy of the people's prejudices, and the artifices of domestic enemies, compelled their rulers to make use of all means for reducing them to their allegiance, which perhaps, after all, was brought about rather by time than by policy. When commotions and disturbances are of an extraordinary and unusual nature, the proceedings of the government must be too. The remedy must be suited to the evil, and I know no juncture more difficult to a minister of state, than such as requires uncommon methods to be made use of, when, at the same time, no other can be made use of than what are prescribed by the known laws of our constitution. Several measures may be absolutely necessary in such a juncture, which may be represented as hard and severe, and would not be
in time of public peace and tranquillity. In this case Virgil's excuse, which he puts in the mouth of a fictitious sovereign, upon a complaint of this nature, hath the utmost force of reason and justice on its side.-Res dura et regni novitas me talia cogunt. The difficulties that I meet with in the beginning of my reign make such a proceeding necessary.'
In the next place, as this establishment has been disturbed by a dangerous rebellion, the ministry has been involved in many additional and supernumerary difficulties. It is a common remark, that English ministers never fare so well as in a time of war with a foreign power, which diverts the private feuds and animosities of the nation, and turns their efforts upon the common enemy.
As a foreign war is favourable to a ministry, a rebellion is no less dangerous; if it succeeds, they are the first persons who must fall a sacrifice to it; if it is defeated, they naturally become odious to all the secret favourers and abettors of it. Every method they make use of for preventing or suppressing it, and for deterring others from the like practices for the future, must be unacceptable and displeasing to the friends, relations, and accomplices of the guilty. In cases where it is thought necessary to make examples, it is the humour of the multitude to forget the crime, and remember the punishment. However, we have already seen, and still hope to see, so many instances of mercy in his Majesty's government, that our chief ministers have more to fear from the murmurs of their too violent friends, than from the reproaches of their enemies.
No. 49. FRIDAY, JUNE 8.
- jam nunc sollennes ducere pompas Ad delubra jugat- --VIRG.
YESTERDAY was set apart as a day of public thanksgiving for the late extraordinary successes, which have secured to us every thing that can be esteemed, and delivered us from every thing that can be apprehended, by a Protestant and a free people. I cannot but observe, upon this occasion, the natural tendency in such a national devotion, to inspire men with sentiments of religious gratitude, and to swell their hearts with inward transports of joy and exultation.
When instances of divine favour are great in themselves, when they are fresh
memory, when they are peculiar to a certain country, and commemorated by them in large and solemn assemblies; a man must be of a very cold or degenerate temper, whose heart doth not burn within him in the midst of that praise and adoration, which arises at the same hour in all the different parts of the nation, and from the many thousands of the people.
It is impossible to read of extraordinary and national acts of worship, without being warmed with the description, and feeling some degree of that divine enthusiasm, which spreads itself among a joyful and religious multitude. A part of that exuberant devotion, with which the whole assembly raised and animated one another, catches a reader at the greatest distance of time, and inakes him a kind of sharer in it.
Among all the public solemnities of this nature, there is none in history so glorious as that under the reign of King Solomon, at the dedication of the Temple. Besides the great officers of state, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, all the elders and heads of tribes, with the whole body of the people ranged under them, from one end of the kingdom to the other, were summoned to as