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impossible for such a system as the British Constitution to work well, or to continue to subsist at all. The King may put his veto on a Bill which has passed both Houses ; and when this is done, the Public will refuse supplies; and so, the government must come to a dead lock. Or, the King may create a great batch of Peers, and bribe a majority of the Coinmons, and so make himself absolute. Or again, the King may pardon all criminals, and thus nullify the administration of justice. Or again, he may appoint to all the Bishopricks, and to a great number of livings, men of Socinian or Romish tendencies, who will explain away all our formularies, and wholly subvert the system of our Church.
The institution of an Order of persons called Parochial Visitors, having the office of assisting and acting under the Minister of each parish, and serving as a medium of communication between him and the parishioners, and standing in a relation to each, analogous to that of the attendants in an hospital towards the physician and the patients—this has been assailed in a similar way by cavillers. “Are these Visitors, it was said, “to have the cure of souls ? Are they to expound Scripture to the people, and give them religious instruction and admonitions, just as the pastor does ? If so, they ought to be regularly ordained clergymen; and should be called curates. Or, are they merely to be the bearers of communications between the people and the pastor, and not to venture, without his express orders, to read a passage of Scripture to a sick man, or to explain to him the meaning of such words as “Publican' or Pharisee ?' In that case they will fall into contempt as triflers.'
If you answer that they are not to be so rigidly restricted as that; but are to reserve for the Minister any important or difficult points; the caviller will reply—“And who is to be the judge what are the most important and difficult points, and what the easier and more obvious ? If this is to be left to the discretion of the Visitor himself, he will take everything into his own hands; but if it is to be referred to the Minister, then, the Visitor will be nothing but a mere messenger.' In like manner it might be asked, whether the nurse in an hospital is to administer or withhold medicines, and perform surgical operations, at discretion, and, in short, to usurp all the functions of the physician, or whether she is not to be allowed to smooth a
patient's pillow, or moisten his lips, or wipe his brow without a written order from the doctor.
The Israelites in the Wilderness were perverse enough, no doubt; but if there had been cavillers among them, it would have been easy to find plausible objections to the appointment by Moses of the seventy Elders, who were to decide all small matters, and to reserve the weightier ones for him. Who is to be the judge,' it might have been said, which are the weightier causes? If, the Elders themselves, then they may keep all matters in their own hands, and leave no jurisdiction at all in Moses : but if he is to be consulted on each point, he will not be saved any trouble at all ; because every case will have to be laid before him.'
Nevertheless the plan did seem on the whole to work well; and so it was found, in practice, with the institution of Parochial Visitors; and so, with the British Constitution.
One course generally adopted by the caviller, with respect to any proposal that is brought forward, is, if it be made in general terms, to call for detailed particulars, and to say, "explain distinctly what kind of regulations you wish for, and what are the changes you think needful, and who are the persons to whom you would entrust the management of the matter,' &c. If again, any of these details are given, it will be easy to find some plausible objection to one or more of these, and to join issue on that point, as involving the whole question. Sancho Panza's Baratarian physician did not at once lay down the decision that his patient was to have no dinner at all; but only objected to each separate dish to which he was disposed to help himself.
The only way to meet a caviller is to expose the whole system of cavilling, and say, 'If I had proposed so and so, you would have had your cavil ready ; just as you have now.'
But in proposing any scheme, the best way is, to guard, in the first instance, against cavils on details, and establish, first that some thing of such and such a character is desirable; then proceeding to settle each of the particular points of detail, one by one. And this is the ordinary course of experienced men; who, as it were, cut a measure into mouthfuls, that it may be the more readily swallowed ; dividing the whole measure into a series of resolutions; each of which will perhaps pass by a large majority, though the whole at once, if proposed at once as a
ere, cut a measa dividing the wholes pass by a large
whole, might have been rejected. For, supposing it to consist of four clauses, A, B, C, and D, if out of an assembly of one hundred persons, twenty are opposed to clause A, and eighty in favour of it, and twenty others are opposed to clause B, which is supported by all the rest, and the like with C, and D, then, if the whole were put to the vote at once, there would be a strong majority against it: whereas, if divided, there would be that majority in favour of it.
It is fairly to be required, however, that a man should really have—though he may not think it wise to produce it in the first instance-some definite plan for carrying into effect whatever he proposes. Else, he may be one of another class of persons as difficult to negotiate with, and as likely to baffle any measure, as the preceding. There are some, and not a few, who cast scorn on any sober practical scheme by drawing bright pictures of a Utopia which can never be realized ; either from their having more of imagination than judgment, or from a deliberate design to put one out of conceit with everything that is practicable, in order that nothing may be done.
E. g. . What is wanted, is, not this and that improvement in the mode of electing Members of Parliament,—but a Parliament consisting of truly honest, enlightened, and patriotic men. It is vain to talk of any system of Church-government, or of improved Church-discipline, or any alterations in our Services, or revision of the Bible-translation; what we want is a zealous and truly evangelical ministry, who shall assiduously inculcate on all the People pure Gospel-doctrine. It is vain to cast cannon and to raise troops; what is wanted, for the successful conduct of the war, is a large army of well-equipped and well-disciplined men, under the command of generals who are thoroughly masters of the art of war,' &c. And thus one may, in every department of life, go on indefinitely making fine speeches that can lead to no practical result, except to create a disgust for everything that is practical.
When in 1832) public attention was called to the enormous mischiefs arising from the system of Transportation, we were told in reply, in a style of florid and indignant declamation, that the real cause of all the enormities complained of, was, a ‘want of sufficient fear of God; (!) and that the only remedy wanted was, an increased fear of God! As if, when the unhealthiness of some locality had been pointed out, and a suggestion had been thrown out for providing sewers, and draining marshes, it had been replied that the root of the evil was, a prevailing want of health ;—that it was strange, this—the true causeshould have been overlooked ;—and that the remedy of all would be to provide restored health!
As for the penal colonies, all that is required to make them efficient, is, we must suppose, to bring in a Bill enacting that • Whereas, &c., be it therefore enacted, that from and after the first of January next ensuing, all persons shall fear God!''
It is such Utopian declaimers that give plausibility to the objections of the cavillers above noticed.
It is but fair, after one has admitted (supposing it is what ought to be admitted) the desirableness of the end proposed, to call on the other party to say whether he knows, or can think of, any means by which that end can be attained.
• In dealing with cunning persons, we must ever consider
their ends. It is a most important caution, never to allow yourself to be entrapped into a confidence. A person will perhaps tell you the particulars of some delicate and important matter, and, at the end, will say of course you will not mention to any one what I have been saying. I trust to your honour not to violate the confidence reposed in you. And if you then give a hasty assent (as the young and unwary are not unlikely to do) you are thenceforward bound by an engagement which perhaps will prove a very troublesome one. The prudent course will be, to reply, 'I have made no promise of secrecy, nor will I make any. If you wished to impart a secret, you should have told me so at the outset; and I should then have considered maturely whether it were advisable to take on me the office of a FatherConfessor. As it is, I am free to use my own discretion. I do not say that I will, or that I will not, divulge what you have told me. I will act as I may see occasion. But I will not submit to have a confidence forced on me.'
i See Letters to Earl Grey; and also Lectures on Political Economy.
ESSAY XLVIII. OF FOLLOWERS AND
MOSTLY followers are not to be liked, lest, while a man U maketh his train longer, he make his wings shorter. I reckon to be costly, not them alone which charge the purse, but which are wearisome and importunel in suits. Ordinary followers ought to challenge no higher conditions than countenance, recommendation, and protection from wrongs. Factious followers are worse to be liked, which follow not upon o affection to him with whom they range themselves, but upon discontentment conceived against some other; whereupon commonly ensueth that ill intelligence that we many times see between great personages. Likewise glorious: followers, who make themselves as trumpets of the commendation of those they follow, are full of inconvenience ; for they taint business through want of secrecy; and they export honour from a man, and make him a return in envy. There is a kind of followers, likewise, which are dangerous, being indeed espials, which inquire the secrets of the house, and bear tales of them to others; yet such men many times are in great favour, for they are officious," and commonly exchange tales. The following by certain estates 8 of
· Importune. Importunate. • More shall thy penytent sighs, his endlesse mercy please; Than their importune suits which dreame that wordes God's wrathe appease.'
Surrey. ? Upon. In consequence of. Upon pity they were taken away; upon ignorance they were again demanded.' — Hayvoard.
3 Discontentment. Discontent. •Tell of your enemies, and discontentments.' State Trials, 1600.
* Ill intelligence. Bad terms. "He lived rather in a fair intelligence, than in any friendship with the favourites.'--Clarendon. 5 Glorious. Boastful.
We have not
A glorious lazy drone.”—Massinger.
• Yet, not to earth are those bright luminaries
Officious ; but to thee, earth's habitant.'— Milton. $ Estates of men. Orders of men. See page 218.