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conspiracies were fortunately disappointed, and produced no other consequence than to exhibit fresh instances of the courage and magnanimity so conspicuous in the character of that prince, and to excite in the nation a grateful sense of the dangers which he so cheerfully encountered for the preservation of English liberty.
The extensive enterprises in which the crown was involved immediately after the revolution; the settlement of Britain, the reduction of Ireland, the prosecution of the war with France; all these operations were productive of much greater expense than the nation expected, or than parliament could be . persuaded to defray. As ministers, therefore, were unable, by the yearly produce of taxes, to answer the demands of government, they were forced to anticipate the supplies, by borrowing money from individuals. To those creditors they granted securities, both for the interest and capital, on branches of the public revenue, believed to be sufficient, in a few years to repay the loan, and so clear off the incumbrance. Such were the necessities of the crown, that the national debt, contracted
in this manner, had risen, before the peace of Ryswick, to above twenty millions; a burden which, at that period, appeared so enormous, that it was thought to threaten the nation with immediate bankruptcy, and became a topic of much clamour, and of bitter invective against the government.
Some politicians, by an over-refinement, affected to consider this national debt as an advantage to the crown, by creating in the inonied interest a dependence upon government for the security of their funds. And hence it was inferred, that the procuring of such effectual support had been the great object of William in contracting those burdens. But it is not likely that a king, any more than a private man, is ever induced to borrow, from the consideration that his creditor may become his protector; especially when he must expect that his creditor, as the price of his protection, will acquire over him the authority of a master and governor. The practice of contracting national debt arose from the same causes in Britain, and in all the other opulent nations of Europe; from the dissipation and extravagance which are the usual effects of wealth
and luxury; from an increase of activity and ambition, producing enterprises of greater extent than the ordinary revenues of the state are capable of supporting; and, above all, from the facility of borrowing, occasioned by that great circulation of capital which is the natural consequence of extensive trade and manufactures.
When we contemplate, in every point of view, the important revolution accomplished by the prince of Orange, the hazardous nature of the undertaking, the prudence and vigour with which it was conducted, the solid advantages which have resulted from it to Britain, and to all Europe, we must ever look up to our great deliverer with admiration and with gratitude. It may be questioned who, among statesmen and heroes, have displayed the greatest genius and abilities: it is yet more difficult, perhaps, to determine, who has been actuated by the most pure and genuine principles of patriotism : but who is the monarch that has conferred the most extensive benefits upon mankind, will hardly be doubted; while the actions of William III. shall hold a place in the annals of the world. Had it not been
for the active, the persevering, and the single exertions of this prince, it is more than probable, that Britain would have been subjected both to an ecclesiastical and civil tyranny; that Lewis XIV.would have subdued Holland, and the estates in alliance with the Dutch; and the protestant interest would, in a short timě have been annihilated; and that the greater part of Europe would either have been reduced to a vast, unwieldy despotism, like that of ancient Rome, or parceled out among a few absolute sovereigns, who, in the general struggle for dominion, had been able to retain their independence. But the vigorous defence of the United Provinces, against the attacks of the French king, gave time for opening the eyes of many European princes. The revolution in England broke off at once the connexion of the kingdom with France, and with the church of Rome; it not only secured her a free government at home, but united her under the same head with the other great maritime state which had arisen in Europe, and this powerful combination was followed by such alliances, and by such military operations as were sufficient to restore the balance of power, and to frustrate those ambitious de
signs that were so hostile to the peace and tranquillity of Europe. In fine, the revolution in England kept alive that spark which kindled the flame of liberty in other countries, and is now likely to glide insensibly over the whole habitable globe.
The character of William has been scrutinized and censured with a severity and malignity corresponding to the rage and disappointment of that royal family, and of their numerous and zealous adherents, whose power and projects he overthrew. From the circumstances however, which his enemies have laid hold of, as a handle for detraction, we may discover the worst lights in which his conduct was capable of being represented, and thus obtain the most satisfactory evidence of his real integrity and merit.
He obtained the crown of England by dethroning the person who was at the same time his uncle and his father-in-law. Those who form their ideas from the habits acquired in the inferior walks of society are apt to conceive that the domestic affections should have the same influence in the government of kingdoms as in the scenes of private life; not considering,