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A, LATE PUBLICATION, . ...
THE PRESENT STATE OF THE NATION.
PARTY divisions, whether on the whole ope1 rating for good or evil, are things inseparable from free government. This is a truth which, I believe, admits little dispute, having been established by the uniform experience of all ages. The part a good citizen ought to take in these divi: fions, has been a matter of much deeper contro.. versy. But God forbid; that any controversy relating to our eflential morals should admit of nô decision. It appears to me, that this question, like most of the others, which regard our duties in life, is to be determined by our station in it. Private men may be wholly neutral, and entirely innocent; but they who are legally invested with publick trust, or stand on the high ground of rank and dignity, which is trust implied, can hardly in any cafe remain indifferent, without the certainty of finking into insignificance; and thereby in
effect deserting that post in which, with the fullest authority, and for the wiseft purposes, the laws and institutions of their country have fixed them. However, if it be the office of those who are thus circumstanced, to take a decided part, it is no less their duty that it should be a sober one. It ought to be circumscribed by the same laws of decorum, and balanced by the fame temper, which bound and regulate all the virtues. In a word, we ought to act in party with all the moderation which does not absolutely enervate that vigour, and quench that fervency of spirit, without which the best wishes for the publick good must evaporate in
empty speculation. . It is probably from some fuch motives that the
friends of a very respectable party in this kingdom have been hitherto filent. For these two years past, from one and the same quarter of politicks, a continual fire has been kept upon them; fometimes from the unwieldy column of quartos and octavos; sometimes from the light fquadrons of occafional pamphlets and flying sheets. Every month has brought on its periodical calumny. The abuse has taken every shape. which the ability of the writers could give it; plain invective, clumsy raillery, misrepresented anecdote*. No method of
* History of the Minority, History of the Repeal of the Stamp-act. Considerations on Trade and Finance. Political Register, &c. &c.
vilifying the meatures, the abilities, the intentions, or the persons which compofe that body, has been omitted.
On their part nothing was opposed but patience and character. It was a matter of the inost terious and indignant affliction to pertons, who thought themselves in conscience bound to oppose a ministry, dangerous from its very conftitution, as well as its measures, to find themselves, whenever they faced their adversaries, continually attacked on the rear by a set of men, who pretended to be actuated by motives similar to theirs. They saw that the plan long pursued with but too fatal a success, was to break the strength of this kingdom; by frittering down the bodies which compose it; by fomenting bitter and fanguinary animofities, and by difsolving every tie of social affection and publick truft. These virtuous men, such I am warranted by publick' opinion to call them, were resolved rather to endure every thing, than co-operate in that design. A diversity of opinion upon almoft every principle of politicks had indeed drawn a ftrong line of separation between them and some others. However, they were desirous not to extend the misfortune by unnecessary bitterness, they wished to prevent a difference of opinion on the commonwealth from festering into rancorous and incurable hostility. Accordingly they endeaYoured that all past controverbes fould be for
gotten ; and that enough for the day should be the evil thereof. There is however a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. Men may tolerate injuries, whilst they are only personal to themselves. But it is not the first of vir tues to bear with moderation the indignities that are offered to our country. A piece has at length appeared, from the quarter of all the former attacks, which upon every publick consideration demands an answer. Whilft persons more equal to this business may be engaged in affairs of greater moment, I hope I shall be excused, if, in a few hours of a time not very important, and from such materials as I have by me (more than enough however for this purpose), I undertake to set the facts and arguments of this wonderful performance in a proper light. I will endeavour, to state what this piece is; the purpose for which I take it to have been written; and the effects (fuppofing it should have any effect at all) it must neceffarily produce. 9; This piece is called, The present State of the Nation. It may be considered as a sort of digest of the avowed maxims of a certain political school, the effects of whose doctrines and practices this country will feel long and severely. It is made up of a farrago of almost every topick which has been agitated in parliamentary debate, or private conversation, on national affairs, for these last seven