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NOTES ON ADDISON'S FREEHOLDER.
“ The Freeholder, it must be remembered, was a kind of political Spectator, published periodioally, with the purpose of reconciling the people of England to the accession of the House of Hanover. These papers, while they exhibit the exquisite humour and solid sense peculiar to the author, shew also, even amid the strength of party, that philanthropy and gentleness of nature, which were equally his distinguishing attributes. None of these qualities would have conciliated his great opponent Swift, had the field of combat yet remained open to him. But as he withdrew from it in sullen indignation, he seems to have thrown out the following flashes of satire, as brief examples of what he would have done had the hour of answer been yet current. "-Scott.
The following MS. Notes were transcribed from the original, in
Swift's own hand, in Addison's Freeholder, which belonged to Dr. Bernard, late Bishop of Limerick.
FREEHOLDER, No. 2.- Character of George I.
“ It was by this (this firmness of mind) that he surmounted those many difficulties which lay in the way to his succession.”What difficulties were those, or what methods did he take to surmount them ? Swift.
“ It is observed by Sir William Temple, that the English are particularly fond of a king who is valiant : upon which account his majesty has a title to all the esteem that can be paid to a most warlike prince; though, at the same time, for the good of his subjects, he studies to decline all occasions of military glory." -This seems to be a discovery. S.
" I might here take notice of his majesty's more private virtues, but have rather chosen to remind my countrymen of the public parts of his character.”—This is prudent. S.
"But the most remarkable interpositions of Providence in favour of him, have appeared in removing those seemingly invincible obstacles to his succession; in taking away, at so critical a juncture, the person who might have proved a dangerous enemy, &c.”—False, groundless, invidious, and ungrateful. Was that person the
? S. No. 3.—Ludicrous Account of the Principles of the Northumberland Insurgents, and the Causes of their taking Arms.Could this author, or his party, offer as good reasons for their infamous treatment of our blessed queen's person, government, and majesty ? S.. The same.
“Having been joined by a considerable reinforcement of Roman Catholics, whom we could rely upon, as knowing them to be the best Tories in the nation, and avowed enemies to Presbyterianism." —By this irony, the best Whigs are professed friends to fanatics. S. The same.
“But before we could give the word, the trainbands, taking advantage of our delay, fled first."-An argument for a standing army. S.
No. 6.—On the Oath of Allegiance.—" Though I should be unwilling to pronounce the man who is indolent or indifferent in the cause of his prince, to be absolutely perjured, I may venture to affirm, that he falls very short of that allegiance to which he is obliged by oath."-Suppose a king grows a beast, or a tyrant, after I have taken an oath: a 'prentice takes an oath; but, if his master useth him barbarously, the lad may be excused if he wishes for a better. S.
No. 7. "If we may credit common report, there are several remote parts of the nation in which it is firmly believed, that all the churches in London are shut up, and that if any clergyman walks the streets in his habit, it is ten to one but he is knocked down by some sturdy schismatic."--Nobut treated like a dog. S.
No. 8.—Exhortation to the Ladies to be loyal to George 1.“It is to be hoped that every fine woman will make this laudable use of her charms; and that she may not want to be frequently reminded of this great duty, I will only desire her to think of her country every time she looks in her glass." —By no means, for if she loves her country, she will not be pleased with a man the sight. S.
· Every wife ought to answer for her man. If the husband be engaged in a seditious club, or drinks mysterious healths, let her look to him," &c.—Will they hang a man for that ? S.
No. 9.-Declaration of the Freeholders, in Answer to that of the Pretender.-" Can you in conscience think us to be such fools as to rebel against the king-for having removed a general, (the Duke of Ormond,) who is now actually in arms against him ?”—Driven out by tyranny, malice, and faction. S.
“ The next grievance which you have a mighty mind to redress among us, is, the Parliament of Great Britain, against whom you bring a stale accusation, which has been used by every minority in the memory of man; namely, that it was procured by unwarrantable influences and corruptions.”—The freeholders will never sign this paragraph. S.
“How comes it to pass that the Electorate of Hanover is become all of a sudden one of the most considerable provinces of the empire ? ”—It is indeed grown considerable by draining of England. S.
No. 12.-On Rebellions.—“ The present rebellion (1715) is formed against a king, who has not been charged with one illegal proceeding."—Are you serious ? S.
No. 13. “In such a juncture, (a rebellion) though a man may
be innocent of the great breach which is made upon government, he is highly culpable, if he does not use all the means that are suitable to his station for reducing the community into its former state of peace and good order.”—He speaks at his ease, but those who are ill used will be apt to apply what the boy said to his mother, who told him the enemy was approaching. S.
" The law (in Athens) made it necessary for every citizen to take his party, because it was highly probable the majority would espouse that cause, which was most agreeable to the public weal.” -No—for, in England, a faction that governs a weak, or honours a wicked prince, will carry all against a majority in the kingdom, as we have seen by sad experience. S.
No. 14.- The Tory's Creed.-"Article 13. That there is an unwarrantable faction in this island, consisting of King, Lords, and Commons.”—This article is too true, with a little alteration. The same.
" Article 15. That an act of parliament to empower the king to secure suspected persons in times of rebellion, is the means to establish the sovereign on the throne, and consequently a great infringement of the liberties of the subject.” No_but to destroy liberty. S.
No. 21.- On the Princess of Wales.--"When this excellent princess was in her father's court, she was so celebrated for the beauty of her person,” &c.—I have bad eyes. S.
“ There is no part of her royal highness's character which we observe with greater pleasure, than that behaviour by which she has so much endeared herself to his majesty."—What would he say now ? S.*
* The prince and his father, George I., were now at variance.
“To this, we may add, that submissive deference of his royal highness, both from duty and inclination, to all the measures of his royal father.”_Which still continues. S.
“There is no question but his majesty will be as generally valued and beloved in his British, as he is in his German domin. ions, when he shall have time to make his royal virtues equally known among us.”—How long time does he require ? S.
"Several inconveniencies which those must undergo who have not yet surrendered to the government.”— Would he pimp for the court ? S.
No. 29. “ Those of our fellow-subjects who are sensible of the happiness they enjoy in his majesty's accession to the throne, are obliged, by all the duties of gratitude, to adore that Providence which has so signally interposed in our behalf, by clearing a way to the Protestant succession through such difficulties as seemed insuperable.”—I wish he had told us any one of those difficulties. S.
“ It is the duty of an honest and prudent man to sacrifice a doubtful opinion to the concurring judgment of those whom he believes to be well intentioned to their country, and who have better opportunities of looking into all its most complicated interests."—A motion to make men go every length with their party. I am sorry to see such a principle in this author. S.
No. 31.- On the Treatment of the Persons concerned in the Rebellion, in Answer to a Pamphlet, entitled “An Argument to prove the Affections of the People of England to be the best Security of the Government,” fc.—“This middle method (of tempering justice with mercy) has hitherto been made use of by our sovereign."-In trifies. S.
“Would it be possible to imagine, that of the several thousands openly taken in arms, and liable to death by the laws of their country, not above forty have yet suffered ? "-A trifle ! S.