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CHAP. distinction. When the controversy began to be
more accurately examined, and more distinctly understood, the Jacobites continued faithful in adversity to their ancient prejudices; and the last writers of an expiring faction have struggled hard to derive a fallacious triumph from the perversion of almost every historical fact. Even at present, when those party prejudices have nearly subsided, men of lively imagination, and of acute feelings, wish, and are therefore easily persuaded, to regard Mary as innocent, in consequence of the commiseration naturally excited by her long imprisonment, her aggravated sufferings, and her tragical death. Men, however, of cool judgment, and more accurate observation, who distinguish between her misfortunes and her crimes, are impressed with a just and durable conviction of ber guilt. The same distinction may be remarked among the disputants themselves. The suffering innocence of Mary is a theme appropriated to tragedy and romance; and ber vindication consists entirely of popular arguments, and the misrepresentation of facts; of declamation, fiction, invective, ribaldry, and the grossest abuse. But the sober voice of impartial history, from Thuanus to Hume and Robertson, has deduced her guilt from the moral evidence which her conduct affords, and from a calm and accurate investigation of facts. The present Dissertation was undertaken to vindicate the conclu
sions formed by those great historians, and to in- CHAP. troduce some final certainty into a question long contested, and perplexed beyond any former dispute. Popular arguments I have ever despised; but in a Dissertation strictly controversial, I have avoided the discussion even of those probable motives of human conduct, upon which the sagacity of historians is so properly, and so successfully exerted, to discover the remote, and latent causes of human events. I have spared no pains to discover, and, wherever they were accessible, to examine the original documents in person ; and if the conclusions which I have drawn, are consistent with those historical facts to which I have uniformly appealed, the participation of Mary in the murder of her husband, must rest hereafter as an established truth.