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Title: Remarks on the Importance of the Study of Political Pamphlets, Weekly Papers, Periodical Papers, Daily Papers, Political Music, &c.

Dubious author: Thomas Barrow

Release date: April 15, 2022 [eBook #67836]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: W. Nicoll, 1765

Credits: Charlene Taylor and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)




Importance of the Study


Political Pamphlets, Weekly Papers, Periodical Papers, Daily Papers, Political Music, &c.

Libertas, et speciosa nomina prætexuntur; nec quisquam, alienum servitium, et dominationem sibi concupivit, ut non eadem ista vocabula usurparet.


Printed for W. Nicoll, in St. Paul’s Church-yard,

[Pg 1]


On the Importance of the Study of


There cannot be a surer proof of ignorance and folly than impertinence, whether it betrays itself in the pertness of a coxcomb, or in the solemnity of a fop; provokes with the petulance of wit; stupifies with the dullness of narration; insults with the arrogance of superior birth, fortune, or learning; fatigues with frothy declamation, or stuns with the clamour of dispute; in private and in public, over a dish of tea, or over a bottle; from the pulpit, or the bar, or in the senate, it is always offensive and ridiculous.

The humble and obscure writer of a Pamphlet cannot, however, if he happens to mistake his talents, be justly blamed for impertinence. He may be pitied for his[Pg 2] misfortune; but for his faults as an author, he is answerable to no man: for there is scarce any man, who has dealt in this sort of reading, that has not had fair warning; it being more than an hundred to one, that he has bought an impertinent Pamphlet, some time, or other, in the course of his studies. He cannot well fail of knowing that such things are sometimes published; neither the writer nor the bookseller compels him to buy; and if he suffers himself to be imposed on by a title-page, he can have no good reason to complain of either. Besides, no Pamphlet can fairly be said to be wholly useless: it may be always made to serve, at least, some purpose; whereas I believe there is hardly any body but may remember to have been present, perhaps once in their lives, at a conversation, or a pleading, or a speech, or a sermon, that could serve no manner of purpose but to tire the audience, and make the speaker ridiculous: and this must be allowed to be a very unpardonable sort of impertinence; for a man may throw aside a Pamphlet, if he pleases, at the first[Pg 3] page, or the first line; but he cannot decently get out of a company, or out of the senate, or out of a church, whenever he may have a mind.

I do not mean this, as an apology for authors in general: the accidental writer of a Pamphlet, or a Paper, hardly deserves so respectable an appellation. On the contrary, every man who wantonly and vainly usurps that sacred profession, without being possessed of a moderate share at least, either of genius, or wit, or learning, or knowledge, besides the indispensable qualifications and ingredients of common honesty, sincerity, and benevolence, is guilty, in my opinion, of the highest degree of impertinence.

But in this land of liberty, of general wealth, curiosity, and idleness, where there is scarce a human creature so poor that it cannot afford to buy or hire a Paper or a Pamphlet, or so busy that it cannot find leisure to read it; where every man, woman, and child, is, by instinct, birth, and inheritance, a politician; where the ordinary subjects of common conversation turn[Pg 4] not, as in most countries, upon the impertinent trivial occurrences of the week or the day, nor on the small concerns, offices, and duties of private and social life; but on the greater and the more important objects of war, negociations, peace, laws, and the public and general weal; where men are more solicitous about the integrity and abilities of a lord commissioner of the treasury, or of a secretary of state, than the fidelity of their own wives, the chastity of their daughters, their sons, or their own honour and virtue; and where, like the virtuous citizens of Rome and Sparta, they unreluctantly offer up all the slenderer ties of blood, the endearments of love, the connexions of friendship, and the obligations of private gratitude, daily sacrifices and victims to the commonwealth; in such a country, the dullest Pamphlet may have a fair chance of gaining some readers, provided it be a political Pamphlet; whilst a treatise on religion or philosophy, unless the writer of it should happen to be thoroughly master of his subject, and know how to treat it with[Pg 5] uncommon genius and learning, would meet with the fate it deserved, and be received with universal neglect.

These are dry insipid studies, fit only for the drudgery of a school or a college. They are commonly laid aside with the accidence or the grammar, are of little use to a man in his commerce with the world, and contribute rather to obstruct the advancement of his interests and his fortunes, than to promote them. There are, besides, few men so unreasonably inquisitive about these matters, as not to be fully satisfied with the stock they have already laid in, or who would not even sooner consent perhaps, to forget half they had ever learned, than to take the useless or the dangerous pains of acquiring more. The works of a Tillotson, or of a Shaftesbury, of a Seneca, or a Marcus Antoninus, may possibly be found amongst the lumber of a bookseller’s warehouse; may serve, like the works of the Fathers, to fill up the vacant shelves of a large library; or may, now and then, assist a clergyman who happens to be ill, or engaged on a Saturday;[Pg 6] but they are of little other use at present. Formerly, indeed, they seem to have been read and approved by here and there a man; and some small encouragement was not wanting to writers, even of this stamp; but this was in quiet and peaceful times, times of good government and perfect security, when men were not universally called upon by the superior duties they owe to their country, when the constitution was in its full vigour, and wanted not the zealous and united efforts of whole legions of political labourers, to vindicate and assert its invaluable privileges.

In those days, if they were threatened with no invasion from abroad, nor with popery nor arbitrary power at home; if magna charta, the declaration of rights, habeas corpus, and other fundamental laws of the realm, remained unrepealed in full force and exertion, they never gave themselves any farther concern about the public, but minded what they called their own affairs such as their respective trades, arts, callings, professions, thereby to be enabled to feed, clothe, and lodge themselves[Pg 7] and their families, and provide for their children. If they could contrive to live in peace and plenty at home, and pass among their customers, their neighbours, and their friends, for honest, industrious, good-humoured folks, they thought themselves at liberty to employ their leisure-hours in what studies they pleased, and looked no further. They had no notion of political refinements, of those delicate and nicer sensations we feel for the public. It never entered into their heads to be perpetually making earnest and anxious enquiries about the state of the nation; if the body politic was, upon the whole, sound and in good health, they were no more alarmed at every little complaint, than at a slight cold, or an accidental head-ach. They had not indeed the same opportunities of hearing complaints: the book of knowledge fair, was but half open to them; the sources of information and instruction were then neither so frequent nor so abundant; every remote corner of the kingdom was not, as it happily is now, plentifully supplied with political, pure,[Pg 8] refreshing streams, flowing without intermission, during the whole year, to the great delight and emolument of the whole kingdom. Neither were they rich enough to join in large voluntary contribution for the feeding, clothing, and support of such a numerous body of sturdy penmen as are now in constant pay. Those trusty guardians of our liberties, oraculous as the priestess of Apollo; jealous as Argus of the fair privileges committed to their care; watchful of our golden treasures as the green dragons of the Hesperides; faithful and fierce as the bellua centiceps of Pluto; alarming as the sacred birds that saved the Capitol; zealously attached to our service; equally vigilant in times of security as in danger, in peace as in the midst of war; ready at a moment’s warning, on every alarm, to attack or defend; intrepidly sacrificing to the public every consideration that the timidity of other men calls dear to mankind; like well-disciplined troops, scorning to loiter away their time in rusty idleness, daily exercising their arms, performing all their marches and counter-marches,[Pg 9] evolutions, and firings, with the same skill and alertness as if the enemy were upon them.

These advantages were unknown to our ancestors, and were reserved, among many other peculiar blessings, for their posterity. Not that genius, wit, and learning, appear to have been scarce commodities in those days; but they laid on their owner’s hands, for want of purchasers. When the Daily Advertiser, the St. James’s Evening-Post, and the Gentleman’s Magazine, were as much as they could afford to buy, many thousand hands were lying idle for want of employers, and many a strenuous and faithful subject, amply qualified, both from his talents and his virtues, for the service of his country, was shut out from the higher employments which nature had formed him for; confined, for mere want of bread, to the narrow sphere of a shop-board or a counter, or condemned perhaps for life to the sordid drudgery of some laborious handicraft trade.

The times are now changed; merit is no longer in danger of pining in obscurity;[Pg 10] the high road to wealth and fame is open to all their votaries; whether a political writer be inspired by the genuine spirit of patriotism, inflamed with a fervent zeal for the honour of his king and his country; whether he aspires to high dignities, places, pensions, or reversions; or whether he be a simple candidate for food and raiment, it is his own misfortune or fault, not the public’s, if he fails: for it is notorious to every man of common observation, that the arts and sciences, the children of genius and learning, thrive and increase in proportion to the increase of our manufactures, trade, and commerce; which enable a rich, indulgent, and munificent public to cherish, support, and honour them. The immense wealth acquired by these means within these few years, and scattered with generous profusion over the whole kingdom, is not more remarkable, nor more amazing, than the rapid progress which the arts of painting, sculpture, building, gardening, music, engraving, &c. have made in the same period. Our artists begin already to rival[Pg 11] and surpass the most celebrated artists of Europe, and bid fair to confer on their country as much honour and renown, as those in the ages of Leo X. and Lewis XIV. did on France and Italy.

Hitherto, however, they have not reached that lofty summit; being rather subordinate arts, the arts of elegance and ornament, than of real and intrinsic use: they are neither held in such general estimation, nor so liberally rewarded; and are therefore not cultivated with the same zeal and assiduity, as others of more immediate benefit and importance to society.

Excudent alii spirantia mollius aera, &c.
Tu regere imperio populos Romane memento.
Hæ tibi erunt artes,——

was an ingenious compliment paid by Virgil to his countrymen; a grave, serious, sober, virtuous people, like ourselves, devoted to the great interests of their country, absorbed in public affairs, and preferring the study of government, or the art of politics, to all other arts whatever: to this art they were indebted for their prudence,[Pg 12] generosity, fortitude, and magnanimity; for their excellent laws and institutions; for their admirable skill in negociations; for the treaties they made, the victories they gained, and for their conquests, in almost every corner of the known world; for all which they are so deservedly celebrated and renowned. Part of the Roman, and even part of the Grecian art of politics, happily escaped the injuries of time and accident, and continued, for many hundred years, the constant theme, admiration, and example of all writers on politics; but as we lament the irreparable loss of the greater part of the productions of those wise and venerable ancients in philosophy, history, poetry, &c. so we must despair of recovering the most valuable part of their writings on the art of politics. The Anticatones of Cæsar; the Acta Diurna, which Cicero expressly mentions to have read daily, with great delight and instruction, as containing, Senatus consulta, edicta, fabulæ, rumores, &c. and ten thousand writings of the same kind, are all lost in one common ruin; and of all[Pg 13] these daily Papers and Pamphlets, not one, that I know of, is remaining, to discover to us the stupendous genius and art with which they must have been composed, to produce the astonishing effects they manifestly appear to have done, especially in the latter times of these republics; such as, by a sort of magic, to fascinate the understandings and passions of the people, to wield at their pleasure that unwieldy body the multitude; to compel them, as it were, to choose or to dismiss what ministers the authors of them thought proper; to enact or to repeal what laws they pleased; to provoke them to war, or cajole them into peace; in short, to persuade them that Scipio was a knave and a traitor, Aristides a common cheat, Cato a coward, and Socrates a sodomite and an impostor; whereas all the historians, biographers, philosophers, and poets of those countries, agree in representing them as the justest, the greatest, and the wisest men of the times in which they lived, or indeed in the times that succeeded. It is manifest, likewise, that the very people themselves had, for[Pg 14] many years together, possessed the same opinion of them; that they were universally beloved, honoured, and revered, until they were dismissed or had resigned, and that after their executions or deaths, they were as universally and sincerely lamented.

If the great affairs of the world were uniform and consistent, the opinions of the people would, no doubt, have been suffered to remain so too; but they being, from their very nature, subject to perpetual change and fluctuation, the political writers of those days saw that it was their business and duty to adjust themselves to accidents and events, and to the times which they strived to reform; to have recourse, like Proteus, to every art, and to assume every imaginable shape. Now it is well known, that it was no uncommon thing among their countrymen, chearfully to sacrifice their own fortunes, or the fortunes of other men, their own or other people’s mothers, wives, children, friends, or acquaintances, nay, themselves, as often as the more important affairs of the state required it: thus,[Pg 15] when it became indispensably necessary for the preservation of liberty and the constitution, or for the immediate salvation of their country, they very gravely persuaded and prevailed on the people to impeach Scipio and Aristides, to banish Cicero, to poison Socrates, dissolve the union they had so eagerly courted with Sparta or Arpinum, to curse the very memories of all those able and upright counsellors who had advised it, to revile and insult every Lacedemonian or Samnite that had been invited to their hospitality, and at length to drive them out of their houses, and out of their cities.

There are people who pretend, that the Clouds, a dramatic performance of Aristophanes, is a specimen of the art of writing of which I have been speaking. In my own opinion, however, whether considered as a mere comedy, or as a political composition, it is such a pert insipid piece of buffoonery, written so much in the true spirit of our Grub-street, that it could have no manner of chance to produce the effect it is supposed to have designed,[Pg 16] and does not at all account for the problem, being, in every respect, much inferior to our own writings of that kind, the Nonjuror, and Beggar’s Opera. We know, in short, as little of their art of political writing as of their music; the rise, progress, and perfection of both seem to have been owing to the same causes.

In arbitrary and despotic governments, fear, as Montesquieu justly remarks, is the principal engine of government; there the sophi, or the grand seignior, or the dey, is the sole legislator; the only person who has studied the art of politics, being the only person who is called upon by his country to practise it. This sort of writing being principally applied to the great purposes of provoking or of appeasing the people; of awaking them, or laying them asleep; of blinding them, or restoring them to sight at pleasure, is wholly useless in a country where it is the sovereign’s business to command; the subjects duty to act, to suffer, and to obey.

[Pg 17]

But in the free governments of Greece and Rome, all ranks, degrees, and orders of men, patricians and plebeians, from the highest birth, alliance, and properties, down even to tinkers and coblers, were all either immediately or remotely perpetually employed, and at work upon the constitution; busily and anxiously examining into every part of it; repairing any breaches that might have been made in it by time or neglect; framing new laws, or repealing old ones; appointing ministers, statesmen, generals, admirals, &c. for all the various departments of peace and war; choosing faithful, eloquent, zealous tribunes, the great defenders of the liberties of the plebeians; voting for peace or for war, &c. By this means the arts of politics and music (of which latter I shall speak hereafter) became the immediate business, employment, and duty of every individual; as they both had been found, from long experience, indispensably necessary for the repose, security, and duration of the state. The constitution and the inhabitants of Great Britain in these present times, very much[Pg 18] resemble those of which I have been speaking. The same instruments of government, therefore, are as necessary here as they were there; now as they were then: no encouragement, of course, has been wanting to these arts; and I cannot, upon this occasion, forbear to congratulate with my countrymen upon the happy progress that has been made in them, even within these very few years; more especially as our professors had no examples of such sort of writing before them for their imitation. It would be no difficult matter to produce an hundred proofs, both of their skill and their success. There are, for instance, few people, at this time of day, so infatuated as to doubt that it is to them we are indebted that this our native land, with all her revenues, dignities, honours, employments, posts, pensions, reversions, &c. was not seized, three or four years ago, by the violent hands of Scotchmen, who, according to the prophecy of a late holy prophet, had formed, like the Goths and Vandals, and other fierce and enterprizing people of the North, the bold design of a general emigration, had already (as it was[Pg 19] currently reported) begun their flight, and were descried at a great distance (as appeared from many affidavits made at that time by men of known veracity) like a huge cloud extending from East to West, from North to South, hovering over the fair harvests of our lands and our labours, and ready to settle and devour them! As the task assigned to our guardian polemists, upon this occasion, was difficult and arduous, so the services they performed were signal and eminent. The Genius of England had been, at no time, more confident of repose, nor had ever fallen into a profounder sleep: it required the loud roarings and shrieks of a multitude to awaken him; and when at length he awoke, it called for the united efforts of argument, wit, eloquence, eager affirmation, positive assertion, repeated oaths, and imprecations, to make him listen for a moment to a report, which he treated most imprudently and unwarily with contempt and laughter. The greater part of his most faithful counsellors were unhappily under the same fatal delusion, and heard it with the same scorn and neglect.

[Pg 20]

Strange as this dangerous confidence and supineness will appear to posterity, yet it was not altogether unaccountable; for as the inhabitants of the South and of the North of Great Britain had been accustomed to live together, for a great number of years before, in such perfect harmony and mutual affection, that it was no easy matter to distinguish the one from the other, either by their stature, complexion, language, dress, modes, education, manners, arts, sciences, religion, principles of morals, or of government; as the injuries and devastations of their former wars with each other, which, as well as I can remember, they equally and reciprocally suffered and offered, were mutually forgotten and forgiven, and had left little traces, but in history and on record; as they had shewn the same zeal for civil and religious liberty; had rushed foremost, and begun the first attack upon the common enemies to both; had enabled us, by engaging first as principals, and afterwards as confederates, to oppose their furious and dangerous invasions, to repel them as often as they were attempted, and[Pg 21] finally to rout and discomfit them for ever; as they had lent us their assistance likewise, with the same alacrity, in raising that curious and wonderful fabric which we built on the ruins of the ancient structure; venerable and awful as the Capitol, and composed of more durable materials, which, in the course of many centuries, had by turns been often secretly undermined, treacherously betrayed, and openly and violently battered, and by turns, as often as we had opportunity or abilities, recovered and repaired. As it was reared with their hands, and cemented with their blood, as well as with our own, they were invited, by the advice of our counsellors, most renowned for their gravity, penetration, wisdom, and virtue, to all the advantages of its protection; but they had a Capitol of their own, which, although it was neither so splendid, nor so magnificent, nor so vast, yet they had that superstitious love and veneration for it which is common to all nations, and which nature, education, and habit, has deeply implanted in the hearts of all honest men and good citizens, and were unwilling to quit it.[Pg 22] We knew by experience that they were powerful allies; we thought them faithful friends, and we had found on record, mortifying as it was to remember it, that as often as they had been provoked or insulted, they had been formidable and dangerous enemies. We plainly saw that it was our interest they should be united to us for ever; and all our political arts and resources were employed to convince them it was theirs too. At last, after large promises and assurances of honours, riches, and everlasting love; they were prevailed on, although reluctantly, to consent. The advantages we derived from this union, by the abilities and virtues of their statesmen, the valour, skill, thirst of glory, and spirit of enterprize of their sailors and soldiers; the genius, wit, taste, eloquence, and learning of their divines, philosophers, historians, poets, lawyers, physicians, &c., the inventions of their artists; the industry of their merchants, &c. had been, until lately, manifest to all men, and were freely acknowledged by all men, who possessed or pretended to candor and impartiality.

Men, indeed, conversant with history,[Pg 23] knew well enough that the Goths, Vandals, Huns, Saracens, Turks, and Moors, had been invited to an alliance, in times of emergency and extreme danger; some of them by the Romans, others by the Spaniards, Italians, &c. that they, at first, fought for them, and defended them against their enemies; but turned, at last, their arms against the very people who had called them in, invaded their properties, usurped their governments, and finally destroyed their constitution. But they reflected at the same time that these people were not formed to live long together on any good terms of mutual friendship, and confidence, being neither born under the same climate, nor of the same colour, nor educated in the same principles of manners, morals, nor government, nor speaking the same language, nor worshipping the same god. There could not, therefore, be any stable principle of union in so heterogeneous a mixture: the interest of the one was to disband them like mercenaries, when the service was over; the policy of the other, to use the opportunity their arms had given[Pg 24] them to remain where they were, and seize all they could get.

Some few politicians, nevertheless, there were among us (the very politicians I have so justly extolled) of deeper penetration and more enlarged views, who scrupled not to give shrewd hints, that the alliance between England and Scotland teemed with the same mischief; but these insinuations were supposed to be the effects of private interest, or of a malignant disposition; or, at the best, the mere pleasantries of idle wags. Nor indeed (if what has been said of the North Britons be admitted) ought it to pass for matter of wonder that what we emphatically call the Union, should appear to vulgar eyes totally different from the alliance between the people of whom I have been speaking. It was, therefore, the prevailing and common opinion, that an Englishman might, with equal reason, be jealous of a man born in another country or city, or of his next door neighbour, or of his brother, as of a Scotchman. Now no man can be found so foolish as to own such a jealousy, how much soever he may feel it; all men being agreed to allow, that there cannot be a surer mark[Pg 25] of a shallow understanding, and a wicked temper; yet it sometimes happens in private families, that the elder son, either from the vanity or overweening fondness which people feel for their first productions, or from novelty, or the ambition of transmitting to posterity their names, titles, and possessions, is dandled and cockered in his infancy, pampered in his childhood, flattered in his follies, and indulged in his vices; during his youth exempted from the drudgery of reading and study, from the labours and anxieties of trade, and from the fatigues and dangers of war; secured from want by the liberality of his parents, and from all solicitude about the future, but for the speedy removal of one only obstacle to the accomplishment of all his wishes; carefully trained, indeed, to those noble principles which create authority and distinction in the great scenes of pleasure and idleness; but instructed in no other. The fate of his younger brother is frequently very different: if he be fed, cloathed, and taught, it is all he has a right to expect; he must be flogged to his books; his passions, follies, and vices, must be perpetually controuled, that they may not obstruct his fortune[Pg 26] in the world; and he must be, after all this, compelled to some profession, art, or business, to keep him from starving, when his parents cannot or will not contribute any longer to his support. Now if he should chance, in the course of such an education, to learn the habits of temperance, frugality, and industry, and qualify himself, after the hard labour of many years, for the employment or profession of a divine, a statesman, a lawyer, a physician, an artist, a merchant, &c. one would naturally suppose that his elder brother would rejoice in his success; and being himself totally ignorant and incapable of all these matters, would court his assistance, as often as his business, his pleasures, his affairs, his health, his own preservation, or the safety and interest of his country required. Something of this sort does now-and-then happen, I believe, among the numerous families in Great Britain; and although there are not wanting even multitudes of elder brothers, of the highest distinction and eminence in every acquisition, accomplishment, talent, and virtue, yet they have not been found so abundant as to answer all the exigencies either of private or public[Pg 27] life; recourse, therefore, must be had to somebody: by this means the younger brothers came to be employed occasionally; sometimes the elder and the younger were employed indiscriminately; but the preference was commonly shewn to the elder, according to that prevailing alacrity with which most men fly to the aid of the rich and the powerful.

This, as far as I have been able to discover, was supposed to be pretty much the case with the South and the North Britons, until of late.

When his present majesty (the first of our kings born in this country since the Union) succeeded to the throne, he was most graciously pleased to assure his subjects, that, among many other peculiar felicities of his reign, he gloried in the name of Briton. The name of Briton was impartial, general, and comprehensive in its meaning, and most equitable in its intention. The prudent and wise application of it, on that great occasion, was acknowledged by all men (and all good men united in their hopes) that the time was now come when all distinctions, excepting the eternal distinctions[Pg 28] of vice and virtue, would be buried in oblivion; when every honest man, and every good citizen, should be intitled to his majesty’s protection; and if his talents happened to be useful to the state, to his royal favour and bounty. No prince had ever ascended the throne of these kingdoms so universally beloved and revered. His dominions every where resounded with mutual congratulations, with the praises of so excellent a monarch; and the breasts of all his subjects were filled with the most exulting hopes of a long and glorious reign. These halcyon days were soon succeeded by a furious tempest, that had well nigh overwhelmed us (in the very bosom of repose and tranquillity)! A most execrable and horrid plot was said to be discovered (which had been long formed) concealed with the same secrecy, and designed to have been executed with more universal and fatal effect, than the famous gunpowder plot. Much pains has been taken to get at the bottom of this plot; but no exact information, at least that I know of, has yet been obtained of it, or of the conspirators. Some pronounced it a democratical plot, others affirmed it to[Pg 29] be an aristocratical plot; some pretended it was a tory plot, others protested it was a whiggish plot; many offered large betts that they would prove it to be a jacobite plot, some archly squinted at it as a popish plot; but the true and zealous friends of their country swore by G—d it was a Scottish plot: there were, indeed, a few, who insinuated that it was no plot at all; but as these latter were known to be inveterate enemies to all such names and denominations, they were of course supposed to bear no good-will to their countrymen; there not being more than one in a thousand of them who does not call himself by one or other of these names: so that their opinion was almost universally treated with the contempt and scorn it deserved. The opinion that it was a Scottish plot I think, prevailed very generally in that part of Great Britain called England, and in Berwick upon Tweed. Then it began gradually to be doubted, then to be wholly disbelieved, for even a considerable time: happily it is now at this very day revived; and, by the fervent zeal and marvellous skill of those faithful guardians of our liberties,[Pg 30] whom I have formerly spoken of, the eyes of all men are at length opened, and nobody is found so mad as to doubt it. For notwithstanding all I have said, and said most innocently, of our brethren of Scotland (an appellation we fondly gave them in times of our great distress) for the truth of which I beg leave to appeal to the honour and consciences of all my countrymen, who have ever happened to see them, converse with them, employ them, serve with them, in the navy or the army; hear them in the pulpit, at the bar, or in either houses of parliament; observe their buildings, engravings, and other arts; or read their productions; yet no true lovers of liberty can be too circumspect nor too vigilantly on their guard against the danger even of possibilities; it being an established maxim among all politicians of free countries, that Credulity is the mother of Danger, as she is the daughter of Stupidity and Ignorance, and has been the total ruin of many nations: for proof of which they produce examples from the histories of all countries; such as the secret machinations of many the most[Pg 31] illustrious patricians and wealthiest plebeians against the constitution of Rome, in the times of Marius, Sylla, Catiline, Pompey, and Cæsar, which, by the credulity of the people, lurked for a long while undiscovered and unsuspected, until it burst forth on a sudden in open and violent attacks, and ended in the total ruin of it; yet all these were Romans. The same wicked designs were said to have been formed, not long since, by the Jesuits in France and Portugal, and to have been almost ripe for execution; but were happily discovered before it was too late, and prevented; yet these Jesuits were all Frenchmen or Portuguese. Neither are there wanting examples of this sort, even in the history of our own country, in the reigns of Charles I., Charles II. and James II. The greater part of the nobility, gentry, divines, and lawyers, were detected in a conspiracy against the lives and properties of their fellow-subjects, and the religion and liberty of this kingdom was dragged to the very brink of destruction; yet these conspirators appear, to the best of my remembrance of the histories of those times,[Pg 32] to have been all, with the exception of a few Scotchmen, Englishmen. These undeniable facts are sufficient to warn us against the fatal consequences of credulity, and the danger of trusting to the outward appearances I have been describing, however fair. Let us not, therefore, shut our ears to the cries of the streets, nor turn away our eyes from the lamentations of the news-papers. Let us not be cozened by the arts of crafty and designing men, who maliciously and falsely represent them as the counterfeit tears, the groans and wailings of hired mourners; the snarling, roaring, and howling, of ravenous faction; or the hooting, cackling, and braying, of a wayward and deluded mob: they are the generous and noble calls of liberty; the genuine voice of the venerable and sacred multitude, neither provoked by private resentment, nor bribed by promises, nor awed by fear, nor urged by hunger, nor sold for gain.

I have read almost every Pamphlet and Paper that has been published within these five years on political subjects, with equal delight and astonishment at the deep and[Pg 33] comprehensive judgment, wit, spirit, and humour, with which many of them are manifestly written; and I congratulate with my countrymen, on the rapid progress we are making in this art. Their erudition I have not mentioned, it having been discovered to be of no use at all in the knowledge or exercise of this art. It is an observation of the great lord Bacon, that a man will never get to the end of his journey, if he happens to mistake the way, and go the wrong road; which he has clearly proved in his immortal treatises, Novum Organum, and De Augmentis Scientiarum. Now, men had been taught to believe, until very lately, before the discovery of a direct road, and a short cut, that the composition of a professed politician required as many and as great a variety of ingredients, as Cicero’s orator, or the knight-errant of Don Quixote: accordingly the great baron Montesquieu confesseth, That after the hardy study and drudgery of twenty-five years, by day and by night, consumed in the production of two small volumes; he believed them, on[Pg 34] mature revisal, unworthy of the public; in a fit of despair dashed them against the wall; and had not the wall, as he affirms, returned them, they would never have been heard of. Since this discovery was made, which I shall explain hereafter, it has been found out, to the saving of much labour, that the study of ancient and modern history, laws, treaties, political systems, &c. is mere loss of time, and downright pedantry. There are very few of our modern politicians to be seen now adays, bestrewed with learned dust, like Pope’s politician; or smelling of the lamp, like Demosthenes; or lean, like Cassius, with constant meditation; or pale and blind with poring over Tacitus, Aristotle, Plato, Montesquieu, Harrington, Sidney, or Locke. They have heard that these books contain nothing more than a parcel of crude maxims, or the idle dreams of unpractised pedants and schoolmen; declamations on liberty, which any man in this country may learn at his leisure, in the first company he chances to meet, over a dish of coffee, or over a bottle; general arguments[Pg 35] in behalf of the rights of mankind, which, according to Cicero, every man is taught by instinct; Est igitur hæc judices non scripta, sed nata lex, quam non didicimus, accipimus, legimus; verùm ex naturâ ipsâ, arripuimus, hausimus, expressimus; and the visions of vain projectors, stuffed with ridiculous notions, and impracticable doctrines; such as that it may not be altogether safe nor proper for the whole body of a great nation, any more than for any private person, to eat or drink, or sleep, or dress, or sing, or dance, or game too much: that it is possible, even for a maritime power, to carry on too much trade: that drunkenness, adultery, bribing, and perjury, at elections, are not very commendable practices: that even annual parliaments, nevertheless, may be more eligible than septennial ones, especially as many of its members may happen to learn as much of the business of the senate at the end of six months as at the conclusion of seven years: that a standing army, in time of peace, may be dangerous to liberty, unless it should be voted by[Pg 36] the legislative power, although the officers who composed it were forty times more valiant than the rest of their fellow-subjects, and just as honest and virtuous as ninety-nine in a hundred of them; tamen miserrimum est posse si velit: that a militia cannot well be too numerous, even though the consumption of silk, or velvet, or lace, or ribbands, or trinkets, should be thereby considerably diminished, and even though it should be necessary to discipline it on the seventh day of every week: that it may be possible in the nature of things for large fleets to transport armies an hundred miles, and land them safely within sixty miles of a great, unwarlike, and defenceless capital: that the king, even of a free people, may be legally and constitutionally possessed of certain instruments, engines, and powers, of unfailing efficacy, in times of general depravity; by means of which, if he chance, instead of being the friend and father of his people, to be wicked, an usurper, and a tyrant, he may gain over, to any purpose he pleases, the souls and bodies of three-fourths[Pg 37] of them: that a free people, not clearly discerning the reciprocal duties of protection and obedience, and prone to confound the frenzy of sedition with the modesty of true liberty, may, peradventure, tumultuously and violently obstruct the execution of the known laws of the land, madly insult, in the public streets, a prince devoted to their happiness, threaten to blow out the brains of his friends and servants, and attempt to overawe the senate, in the very midst of their public deliberations: that some care should be taken to prevent such enormities from creeping into a free state: in short, as there never had been any man, according to the unanimous opinion of all divines and philosophers, who had ever written on virtue, so perfectly good, but he might still be made somewhat better; so all these politicians agreed, that no constitution was ever so nicely and exactly framed, but it might possibly admit some addition or amendment; turpiterque desperatur quicquid fieri potest. Such (with many other wild projects and strange fancies of the like sort) were the whimsical contents of these famous writings, that had[Pg 38] once made so much noise in the world. They are now universally neglected and exploded; they may cry aloud, but no man regardeth them. As lord Bacon was the first who shewed the right way to the study of natural philosophy, so Machiavel, a man of the most abundant invention, the most magnanimous resolution, and the most consummate abilities, was the first of all the moderns who discovered and pointed out the direct and short road to the art of political writing: and as the Whole Duty of Man was calculated for the service and benefit of private families, so Il Principe, that transcendant composition, that master-piece of the human genius, was designed, by its immortal author, for the instruction of royal families only, as the title of it implies, and consecrated to the use of kings and princes. It had no sooner made its appearance among them, than it was beheld with admiration, read with avidity, applied with success, and became the standing rule of politics among all the potentates of Europe, even among the kings of Great Britain, until the Revolution; at which time, by means of[Pg 39] certain innovations, and the introduction of some new-fangled opinions, it lost all credit with them, and has never recovered it to this day; nevertheless, as every man in this kingdom is intitled to some share in the government of it, it becomes his duty likewise to inform himself in what manner it may be best governed; and in researches of this kind, these golden rules, which the king had overlooked, or neglected, or despised, his subjects happily discovered, adopted, and practised. That this discovery has been made, is plain to every body who has read the Prince of Machiavel, and the writings of our modern politicians. Many a man too may remember how much he was surprized at the novelty of a book, which, with the most mortifying scorn, contradicted every opinion and principle that he had imbibed from his mother, or had been taught by his father, or his schoolmaster; the avowed design of it being to prove, that dissimulation, hypocrisy, fraud, lying, cruelty, treachery, assassination, and massacres, were not only commodious and expedient, on certain occasions, but that[Pg 40] they were moral, political, and positive duties: that all men who did not believe in these unerring rules, were either fools, or madmen; and that all nations who had not, or did not, put them in constant practice, had been, or must be, infallibly undone. He did not, indeed, expressly include slander and defamation by name; conceiving, probably, that they were fully comprehended under the articles of lying and assassination, and that it was a mere matter of indifference, to ninety-nine men in an hundred, whether you plundered them of the characters of honest men, and good citizens, or knocked out their brains. Happily for this deluded nation, we have now among us many disciples of this renowned politician, of considerable eminence and proficiency: to their united and zealous efforts for the common weal, we are indebted (perhaps before it is too late) for many useful and salutary discoveries; such as that ********, under all the fair appearances of candor and humanity; the sacred semblance of unblemished truth, justice, and mercy; the specious[Pg 41] disguise of the most unambitious and unaffected love of all his fellow-creatures, concealed the dark and dangerous designs of a Tiberius: that *****, who had been called from retirement and the study of philosophy to the instruction of his ****, and who had cajoled all that knew him into an obstinate belief that he was a nobleman of distinguished honour and virtue, an accomplished scholar, a munificent patron of learning and the arts, an upright counsellor, an eloquent senator, and an able statesman, was at the bottom a knave, a dunce, a traitor, a bashaw, a Gaveston, a Wolsey, a Buckingham, a Sejanus: that *****, who had passed almost universally for a patrician of a most amiable, unreserved, and generous nature, beloved by his friends and his equals, for his noble and ingenuous manners; as courteous and affable to his inferiors, as if his high birth and fortune had not given him a right of prescription to insult them; of great humanity, kindness, and beneficence; a citizen warmly attached to the interests of his country; a statesman who had executed, during half a century, the highest employments of government with zeal and[Pg 42] integrity; had sat in the councils, and joined in the suffrages of our patriot ministers, in the most illustrious period of our annals, and had spent his whole life in the uniform support of liberty; that this very patrician could hardly prove a single claim either to the virtues of social life, the merit of public services, the authority of experience, or even to the common privileges of age, and deserved to be treated as a very drunkard, a glutton, and an old woman: that ****, the arch-magician, who, by virtue of irresistible spells and incantations, and by the powers of certain wonderful and stupendous operations, unknown to all but himself, and the great magicians of ancient times, had palmed himself upon the universal people, not only of Great Britain, but of almost the whole globe, as the deliverer of his country, the colossus of the age; as a philosopher, statesman, and patriot of the first magnitude; possessing the genius, experience, eloquence, and consummate abilities of Pericles, and the virtues of Epaminondas; the decus imperii, the spes suprema senatus; was, after all, an impudent babbler, a profligate villain, a[Pg 43] shameless turncoat, a pensioned hireling, a fawning minion, a common bully, a pernicious and treacherous counsellor, a prodigal squanderer of the blood and treasures of his fellow-subjects; in short, a madman, and the perdition of his country. These and many other discoveries of the same kind, equally new and important, are known and familiar to all men, who have studied the works of our modern politicians, and sufficiently evince the progress we have made in this art; yet it appears to be still far short of the perfection to which it was carried by the ancients, as I have already lamented; otherwise, with half the honest pains they have taken to accomplish it, the **** would have been d——d long ago; his friends and servants torn in pieces one after another, like the De Witts, and other betrayers of their country, and their names, like theirs, consigned to perpetual infamy. As our political writings unhappily have not yet reached that last perfection, neither has our music. To such as have never happened to read the works of Aristotle, Plato, Quinctilian, and others of the ancients, what I have to say[Pg 44] about the latter art, may possibly appear somewhat extraordinary. It is, nevertheless, very certain, they all considered music not only as an important, but as an indispensable part of the qualifications of a politician; Non igitur, frustra, Plato civili viro, quem politicon vocant, necessariam musicen credidit, says Quinctilian. It was one of the fundamental laws of the republic of Arcadia, that every man should learn music until he was thirty years of age. Themistocles the Athenian was treated as a vain boaster, for pretending that he could make a great kingdom of a small one, without availing himself of its assistance. The rigid and austere lawgiver of Sparta carefully mingled it with the composition of his renowned government, used it on all occasions with incredible efficacy, and by this means preserved it from corruption, for seven hundred years. The wise Socrates studied it with uncommon assiduity and success: and Pythagoras boldly declared, that the great system of the universe was framed on its principles, and governed by its powers; in short, that it was all in all. Music, in their acceptation of the word, indeed, had somewhat[Pg 45] of a more comprehensive meaning than it has at present; including not only stringed instruments, wind instruments, rope instruments, parchment instruments, bone and iron instruments, but poetry likewise, and many other sorts of harmony. Of this marvellous art we have hitherto but imperfect ideas. Shakespear just hints at it, and freely gives it as his opinion, that the man who knows it not, must be a traitor, a villain, and a murderer. Mr. Pope too conceived that the music of Mr. Handel had a remarkable influence over the passions and affections. Handel learned the little he knew of this art from the Romans, who, according to Quinctilian, surpassed all the nations of the world in their martial music, as much as they excelled them in their military achievements; Quid, autem aliud in nostris legionibus, cornua, ac tubæ faciunt? Quorum concentus, quanto est vehementior, tantum Romana in bellis gloria cæteris præstat. And at this day the Roman or Italian music, depraved, corrupted, and enervated as it is become in the course of two thousand years, has no inconsiderable power over the minds of[Pg 46] our legislators, statesmen, and warriors. The force of it has been felt in France, a country not much renowned for this art. M. Voltaire insinuates, that a song in the time of Calvin, the burden of which was, O Moines, O Moines, &c. contributed more than any thing to the noble struggle a part of that country made, for forty years, in defence of their religious liberty. So well aware was our Edward I. of its universal power, that he could never assure himself of the perfect and lasting conquest of Wales, until he had murdered all the Welsh bards. If I mistake not, he attempted to do the same by the bards of Scotland: the immortal Ossian escaped him; and his music, calculated with the most consummate political art to inspire the breasts of all his countrymen with every passion, affection, sentiment, and principle of heroic virtue, that might make them happy at home, beloved and respected by their friends, and terrible to their enemies, the Norwegians, Irish, or English, was reserved until some great occasion should call it forth; and accordingly did not make its appearance until very lately. Something[Pg 47] of the same kind was immediately attempted by our English bards, with the wise and benevolent intention of inspiring and instructing their countrymen; but not, I believe, with quite the same success. Some compositions, however, we have that are not without a considerable share of merit; among which there is, for instance, a well-known jig, I cannot name, that is observed to produce a very sensible effect upon our young men and women. Our sportsmen never cease to shout at, “With hounds, and with horn.” All men kindle at, “Britons strike home,” “Britannia rule the waves,” &c. Every man must have remarked the unusual loyalty which never fails to appear in the countenances of a whole audience at the excellent music of, “God save great George our king. Happy,” &c. Lullybylero, according to bishop Burnet, was sung by every man, woman, and child, throughout the whole kingdom, until the very person of every Irishman was contemptible and odious for near half a century. And I do not despair that some able[Pg 48] and skilful bard may hereafter arise, truly penetrated and inspired by the patriot love we bear our country, and thoroughly inflamed with that manly and generous indignation we feel at the very name of a Scot, who, by means of a song or a ballad, may awaken the fury of an angry people, dissolve the union, and cut the throat of every North Briton in the kingdom.



For capital, p. 21. l. 8. from the bottom, read Capitol.

Transcriber’s Notes

Minor errors in punctuation have been fixed.

The Erratum has been applied.