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We will not, however, be insulted and fooled out of our existence, or of our undertanding. « Our sentence is for open war,” till we can be safe. England is still prepared, and alert, and vigorous, and opulent, and generous, and bold, and undismayed. She has not caft away her confidence. Among the bands and associated energies of England I also, in my degree and very limited capacity, will struggle for the principle of her life. I feel, in common with the wise and refleding, that the constitution of Great Britain, even with its real or apparent defeas, is worthy of continuance, and I hope of perpetuity. Our ancestors, 'in 1688, once adopted the words of the aged Patriarch,“ We have blessed it, yea, and it hall be “ blessed.” In this one response, I trust we shall all be orthodox; and with one heart and voice condemn all the heresies of Gallic policy, in the words of the Alexandrian Liturgy of old; Των αιρεσιων καταλυσον τα φρυαγματα. (d.)
Government and Literature are now more than ever intimately connected. The history of the last thirty years proves it beyond a controversy. Still it is difficult to roufe the attention of men, and to persuade them of the fac. But I have attempted it. I thought it juft and right to fet before them excellence opposed to excellence, le) as well as error contrafted to error. In the present change of manners, opinions, government, and learning, you may remember I gave it as my opinion, in which, after fome reflection, you concurred, that a variation is now required in the mode of condu&ing satirical writing. I mean, by
(d) Liturgia Sancti Gregorii Alexandrina. Liturg. Oriental. Colle&t. Vol. 1. p. 107. Edit. Paris. 1716.
(e) Ayales ayabos arriberalio. Dion. Halicarn. ad Cne. Pompeium dę Platonc Epift. p.757. Sed. 1. Vol. 6. Ed. Reike. 1777.
calling in the reciprocal assistance of poetry and prose in the fame work, for the great end; if it is designed for general perusal, and an extended application. I think this work is the first attempt of the kind, in the sense which I propose.
(Αρχιλοχε) φωνημα και οφρυοεσσαν αοιδην
I know not whether I am mistaken, but as it appears 10 me, the power of legitimate Satire thus extended, and strengthened with the rampart of profe, and fully understood, is the best, if not the only literary support left. I am sure it cannot be construed into an hired service. It has nothing in it of professional labour: and as to interested views of personal profit or promotion, how can they be consistent with it? It is as true in our time, as in that of Dryden, (I will give you his own words,) that " the " common libellers of the day, are as free from the impu• tation of wit, as of morality.” Satire has another tone and another character.
All public men, however dirtinguished, must, in their turns, submit to it, if necessary to the welfare of the state. The altar and the throne, the minister and the statesman, may feel and own its influence. I would express myself with diffidence of any Satirist ; yet of the office itself, and of its higher funcions, I would speak as becomes its dignity and the excellency of its ancient character. Magnificabo apasiolatum meum.
In my opinion, the office of a Satirist is by no means pleasant or desirable, but in times like the present it is peculiarly necesary. It is indeed difficult to exercise the talent without an appearance of severity in the character and disposition. Even playfulness and humour are called
(J) Adapted from the Anthologia, p. 393. Ed. Brodzei. Fol.
by other appellations. Learning is oftentation, censure is malignity, and reprehension is abuse. There remains a more formidable objeâion. On a first and partial view, it might deter any man from engaging in Satire; at least any man who feels himself (and who does not feel himself, if he examines his own heart?) unworthy and wretched before The unerring judgment. It is said to be incompa. tible, if not with the profession, yet certainly with the pra&ice of Christianity. I am sure, if that is true, the praise of wit, or learning, or talents, is nothing worth. If private malignity is the motive, it is effentially contrary to the precepts and practice of that religion. It cannot be defended for a moment. But if Satire is an instrument, and a powerful inftrument, to maintain and enforce publick order, morality, religion, literature, and good manners, in those cases, in which the pulpit and the courts of law can seldom interfere, and rarely with effect; the community may authorize and approve it. The authorised instruments of lawful war are lawful.
Satire never can have effed, without a personal application. It must come home to the bosonis, and often to the offences of particular men. It never has its full force, if the author of it is known or stands forth; for the unworthiness of any man lessens the strength of his objections. This is a full answer to those who require the name of a satirical poet. What I have written is delivered to the publick in this spirit. If I had any private end or malignity in any part of it, I would have burned the work with indignation before it should have appeared. I make no idle appeal to you, or to any man for the truth of my assertion; it is enough for me to feel that I speak truth in the sincerity of my heart. If I am believed, lam believed.
But I may ask with confidence; Is there, in this work on the Parsuits of Literature, any sentence or any sentiment, by which the mind may be depraved, degraded, or corrupted? Is there a principle of clausical criticism in any part of it, which is not just and defensible by the greatest masters of antient and legitimate composition ? Is there any passage which pandars to the vitiated state, or to the polluted affections and paflions of bad men ? On the contrary; Are not the heart and the understanding fortified unto virtue, and exalted into independence? Is there any idle, depreciating declamation against the real and solid advantages of birth, fortune, learning, wit, talents and high ftation? Is there any do&rine, which a teacher of morality, I mean Christian morality, might refuse to fan&ion? A moralist and a divine have not the fame office with the satirist: personality is foreign to them. But it is not fufficiently attended to, or believed, that when the understanding is enervated, when it once loses, what one of the Fathers (8) calls emphatically, the
595 pgomotas Cone xam TEHUNYOjektov, when that folid, tena| cious power of the mind is dissolved, it is then open to all
manner of deception, and to the impreslions of sophistry in literature, government, philosophy and religion. On this account, many works and many aâions must be confidered, wholly unworthy of reprehension, or notice in any other point of view.
Ignorant men will cry out, it is a vexatious suit, when it is a just prosecution at the tribunal of public opinion. They who would consider my reprehensions of Authors
6) Bafil. Archiepisc. Cæfareæ. Op. vol. 2. p. 698. Ed. Par. 161&.
and of the tendency of their writings, as libels, or as libellous matter, are as ignorant of common law, as they are forgetful of common sense, or common integrity and candour. With such men, every piece of criticism is a fpecies of libel. If they are inclined to indiet any part of my work as libellous, it will be incumbent on them to contradia the great fage of the law, (b) who declares, that “ In a
CRIMINAL PROSECUTION, the tendency which all libels “ bave 10 create animofities and disturb the publick peace,
IS THE WHOLE which the law considers.” I am content to be at issue with them on this point. If any part of
my work is “ blasphemous, immoral, treasonable, fchifmatical, seditious, or scandalous,” let it be produced publickly, and publickly punished. But I maintain that, under these reftri&ions, I have an undoubted right to lay my sentiments before the world, on publick books, in any manner I think proper. If I am denied this right, there is an end to the freedom of the press, and of the rational and guarded liberty of England. If the matter of my book is criminal, let it be shewn. I appeal to the Courts and the Sages of the Law. But I will not be intimidated by the war-whoop of Jacobins and democratick writers, or by the feeble shrieks of witlings and poetasters. While I have power, I will plead in behalf of learning, and in the cause of my country. In this work I have not violated the precepts of Christianity, or the law of the land ; and till I have done both or either, it is not in the power of any man to degrade my character and reputation with my country. If I have drawn any supposed characters, without a name or designation, I have done no more than Theophrastus or La
(1) Blackstone Comment. B. 4. Chap. 11.