« FöregåendeFortsätt »
ple that admitted of no taint, that was incapable of any bias or perversion from private interests or affections; we must still be compelled to draw the same inference. Such promises and pretensions have been often employed to amuse and delude the populace in past times, and perhaps never more successfully or mischievously than in our own; which should put every good citizen upon his guard against them, and dispose him to listen or unite himself only to such modest and unassuming men, who invite his confidence more by their performances than their professions..
(3.) Temperate in its measures. As there are individuals in private life, so there are parties in the state, that are fair-spoken, yet violent in their conduct. Like Simeon and Levi in their carriage towards the Shechemites, they will speak peace, and meditate war* ; or like a famous body of men in our own land, under the reign of the first Charles; they will respectfully use the king's name, in opposition to his person and
* Gen. ch. xxxiv.
government. Whether this last was a warrantable measure, or whether such extreme measures are in all cases to be condemned, is not here the question : certainly, in the first instance, they constitute a most legitimate prejudice against any party; and of such violent confederacies every prudent citizen will be disposed to say with good old Jacob respecting his two sons abovementioned, My soul come not thou into their secret ; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united. A firm and enlightened moderation is an essential character of true patriotism : and it is around this standard that every man should rally, who wishes to conduct himself as a true friend to his country.
2. Another rule I would suggest is, Not lightly to desert or to change a party after it has been once chosen.
(1.) When a well-meaning man joins himself to any party in the state, it implies his favourable opinion of its tendency to promote the public good. Should he afterwards withdraw his support, it would seem
to imply that his opinion was changed, or, at least, that it was become less favourable. Again, should he proceed to engage himself in a different party, it would still further tend to throw disgrace on the former; and, without clear and satisfactory reasons for his conduct, there would be some ground to complain of his injustice towards his first associates, if not likewise of his injustice towards the public, by transferring his credit and assistance to those who might be less disposed or capable to advance the general welfare.
(2.) The consideration last suggested may deserve a more distinct notice. The world in general is very liberal in promise, but very sparing in performance. When an honest citizen contemplates some patriotic band at a distance, nothing can be more flattering to his wishes, as nothing can appear more favourable to the welfare of his country. Purity of principle, disinterested views, unanimous counsels, are the prominent features which attract his attention, and cominand his reverence; he hastens to
list himself under such a standard; but then the scene is changed. Instead of the immaculate and compacted body of patriotism which he had imagined, he finds corruption of principle, interested views, and divided counsels; or if there be one point in which the whole confederacy is agreed, it is, to turn out the present administration, and to occupy their places. Disgusted and repelled by the discovery, he betakes himself to a second or a third party, where he still finds the same selfish and jarring principles at work, and perhaps with increased depravity. All this should warn him against a shifting humour, and dispose him to abide by the party in which he is already engaged; at least not to change it for another; without very strong grounds to believe that he shall change for the better.
(3.) Again : A frequent change of party is too much for an ordinary citizen to support; it must destroy his credit with every party, and also with the public at large. It is only, as we have observed, for a few eminent men, whose dignity and influence is from themselves, to sustain such a conduct. Such men indeed can never properly be ranked with any party, though they may lend themselves occasionally to all; they shed a lustre on others which they receive from none, and, whether separate or associated, shine the same in their own brightness. This honourable distinction the common patriot should not seek to emulate; he must shine with a borrowed light; alone and insulated he shines no more. It ought therefore to be his business, as a public man, to choose well his party; to co-operate with it in the manner which he judges most conducive to the general benefit; and never to desert it upon rash'or interested considerations. Thus will he act with a degree of credit to himself, and with most advantage to his country.