Page images

Were the following Instance of theharsh and odious Disposition in Gentlement to sit determined, before hearing, the Concern only of me and mine, it would not be worth troubling the World with so many Words on the Occasion; but neither what I now write, or what you much better spoke, is a Case of so little Consequence; and when you undertook it, you knew you were pleading for the Rights and Liberties of the Commons of England; and I will take upon me to fay, that there never was a greater Infuit on the Constitution than this, except one practised by the same Person without the least Deference to the Order of things, the common Sense of Mankind, the Honour of the Crown, or the Property of the Subject.

It needs not be said what this greater Impudence was, nor who had so little Grace as to be guilty of it: It was he who was born in our Days for the Chastisement and Dishonour of them, a Tool whose Insignificancy makes Sorrow, occasioned by him, the Subject of Laughter, takes all Dignity from Distress, and readers Calamity ridiculous.

As to my own Part under the fantastical Tyranny of the Demagogue's Administration, could what you said in the House be communicated to the Publick, 1 should have no need of this Defence; but since I have not here the Assistance of your Eloquence, I beg the Advantage of your Name and Character: For I know it will be an Argument with every honest Man that my Cause was good, that you so zealously espoused it; for that admirable Talent of speaking of which you are Master, has

never never been prostituted to serve dishonest Purposes; and you have too candid a Spirit not to esteem it a Praise, rather than Disparagement of your Eloquence, that the Cause for which you have at any Time pleaded needed no Art but from the Iniquity of its Opposers.

The happy Ability of explaining the most difficult Parts of Business to Men wholly unacquainted with Negociation, has been as useful to the Publick as honourable to your Self. As you have detected the Artful, so you have helped the Ignorant of your very Adversaries, according to their Inteution to abuse or serve their Country.

It has been said, That the greatest Art is to hide Art; but you have a much better Instrument towards Perswasion, the having nothing to conceal; for Truth is as certainly the greatest Eloquence, as Honesty is the best Policy. L,et those who speak or act against their Conscience, obtain their little Purposes and Applauses; be it ever your Commendation to despise Artisice and practise Uprightness. A long Course of suffering for your Zeal in an honest Cause, has gained you the Character of an open honest Englijh Gentleman, with a Capacity which takes off the Imputation of Weakness from Simplicity of Manners, aud adds the Dignity of Knowledge to the Beauty of Innocence.

As 1 never entered into Political Debates with ambitious Views, but have brought my Desires within the Necessaries and decent Conveniencies of Life, I am the more jealously tenacious of the little I eipect of the World, which is only to accept of my Service to the best of my Ability, without loading me with unjust Reproach. In this reasonable Expectation Mr. IValpole generously lent me his Protection; and though he could not persuade my Judges to do me Justice, he convinced them I deserved a disferent Sentence from what they pronounced. But, alas, they had learn'd, by long Practice, to do shameful Things without being asham'd; and tho' your Arguments could command their Assent, it could not make them utter it in my Favour. You sent them away, I thank you, with the same Thoughts of themselves, which you had of them; and whatever Force and Oppression determinedi so the Eye of Reason and Conscience the Judges were convict, and the accused Man found innocent.

I humbly thank you for your eminent Part fir this Affair, and congratulate you on receiving the Favour of your Prince for your Service to your Country.

As doing Good to thePublick is the Motive of conferring Favours, it is, with such as you, the Rule in enjoying them. I wish you the Possession of all your frank Heart desires; and am, with great Respect,


Tour most Obliged,
Most Obedient,

and most Humble Servant,

Richard Steele.



CT'HJS Defence was printed before the Death * of Her late Majesty; but upon that Accident the Publication was deferred, lest some Handle might be taken to interrupt the Business of the Nation, by an Offence given to Persons who were principally guilty of the Oppression here represented. They might possibly have attempted to borrow another Cast of Conscience in their Favour; and it was to be feared, that the fame Tyranny, which punijhed a Man for a thing in which he ought to have been encouraged andfupported,would have gone on to condemn the least Murmur against its Determination I havesaid Tyranny, because to resolve or ac? against'Justice,Trutb,or commouienfe, is as much Tyranny in an Ajfembly as a single Person. But J must do the Majority of the House which expelled me the Justice to own, that they carried themselves as Men conscious they were doing wrong; and no one appeared affive in it but professed Slaves and Hirelings, that is to fay, such as I have called in the following Narrative the Messengers of the Treasury: Members of the House who were immediately dependant upon or

related related to a noble Lord whom I need not name, that fuse Orders by his Kinsman to turn a Commoner of England out of Parliament, because it was not his Lordship's good Pleasure he should fit there any longer. When a Man is out of Povier, it is usual to detract" from the Fame of his high Talents and Qualifications': But I cannot he guilty of such Injustice to this great Man; fur never was Minister since the Creation more thoroughly Master of that great Necessary in him who meditates vast Designs, the Choice of Instruments. Machiavel, in some Part of-bis precious Writings, advises against the Choice of raw Mnrderers, for such are apt to utter some soft Word flowing from Compassion, or other Weakness, for want of the Habit of Blood/bed, which might spoil the whole Design. Our Heroe cannot be accused of being injudicious this way; and J have a thousand times sate in deep Admiration of his Choice of Agents, who if they had been the least Grain more rich, more poor, more fooli/h, more wife, more tall, more Jhort. more Knaves, or more Fools, had been unfit for the work in hand. Had any Man against his Measures in either of the Assemblies more Eloquence, more Penetration, or more Credit than comes to a single Member's Share, letsuch a one open his Mouth, heshould be attacked with one who had as much Right to speak as himself, with so firm Absurdity, and then seconded by One just one Degree worse than him, and a third Half Fool pin up the Mutter with an Assertion still wilder, to the utter Confusion of the Man in his Senses, whofe noble Faculty of adorning the Cause of Truth should be immediately reduced to an Interjection of Sorrow, and down he must fit. Such was our Herat's Manner of demolishing

« PreviousContinue »