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proof of the assertion; but I think a full investigation of that business of great importance. The cabinet certainly interfere in the affairs of this country, and I wish to know upon what principle it should do so, more than the parliament of this country? I have been told that I endanger Ireland by such an inquiry; but I wish to know who most endangers it—I, who respect both that country and this, as much as any man in this house, or those who conduct themselves as if they had no regard to the interest of either, when in competition with their own power?
The right honorable gentleman says that my conduct, if not counteracted, tends to lower the dignity of this country. That a man who has himself so lowered the dignity of this country, who has brought it to the verge of ruin by the obstinacy and madness of his conduct, should presume to think that any man else could lower it more than he has, is, I own, rather extraordinary. I desire to know, and I ask the minister to inform me, if he can—I ask any man in this house to inform me—when it was that I endeavored to lower the dignity of this country? I allude to the present war —what has been my conduct, and what did I advise this house upon that subject? I would have offered reasonable terms to France before the war commenced; and for that purpose I proposed a negociation: he affected to disdain it. What has been the event? Will even he himself attempt to say that there is a chance of making as good a peace now as there was then? Does he even hope he can ever negociate with the French in a situation less dishonorable to us than the present? I would have negociated with them before a fight. He must negociate after a fight, and after a defeat too, if he negotiates at all. I would have negotiated with them while we were rich in our rescources, and our commerce entire. He must negotiate when both are desperately impaired. I would have negotiated before our allies were defeated, and while they were yet supposed to be in union. He must negotiate after victory has declared in favor of the enemy, and the allies have been deserting us, and abandoning one another. After this, that such a man could possibly suppose that he is supporting the dignity of the country, and that he should put himself on a footing with any gentleman who has not
the misfortune to be in the present administration, is an extraordinary thing; but it is an assumption of merit which is peculiar to his majesty's present council. In the mean time it is with heart-felt satisfaction, I reflect, that in everything I ever proposed, I have supported the dignity of this country; I regard it as a circumstance of good fortune to me, that I never gave an opinion by which one drop of British blood was shed, or any of its treasure squandered. The right honorable gentleman has insinuated, that neither I nor those with whom I act, ever mention the glory of the British arms. The fact is notoriously otherwise, we have been proud to praise them. Is it endurable, then, to hear a man accuse others of endeavoring to lower the dignity of this country, when we are doing all we can to save it; and are calling for an inquiry into the conduct of that man who has brought us to the last stake, with which we are now contending for our existence? And shall it be still a question, who is the best friend of the honor of Great Britain? But I wish again to ask, if this committee be not granted, what am I to say to my constituents if they ask—who are the allies of this country— what is our relative situation with Prussia—what with the emperor —what has been the conduct of administration with regard to the war—what is the situation of Ireland? To all these questions I can only answer, I cannot tell you any of these things. The house of commons would not grant me an inquiry; they went hand in hand with the minister.
ON THE AGE OF REASON.
This publication appears to me to be as cruel and mischievous in its effects, as it is manifestly illegal in its principles; because it strikes at the best— sometimes, alas! the only refuge and consolation amidst the distresses and afflictions of the world. The poor and humble, whom it affects to pity, may be stabbed to the heart by it—They have more occasion for firm hopes beyond the grave, than the rich and prosperous, who have other comforts to render life delightful. I can conceive a distressed, but virtuous man, surrounded by his children, looking up to him for bread when he has none to give them; sinking under the last day's labor, and unequal to the next, yet still supported by confidence in the hour when all tears shall be wiped from the eyes of affliction, bearing the burden laid upon him by a mysterious providence which he adores, and anticipating with exultation the revealed promises of his Creator, when he shall be greater than the greatest, and happier than the happiest of mankind. What a change in such a mind might be wrought by such a merciless publication!
But it seems this is an age of reason, and the time and the person are at last arrived, that are to dissipate the errors which have overspread the past generations of ignorance. The believers in Christianity are many: but it belongs to the few that are wise, to correct their credulity. Belief is an act of reason, and superior reason may, therefore, dictate to the weak. In contemplating the long list of sincere and devout Christians, I cannot help lamenting that Newton had not lived to this day, to have had his shallowness filled up with this new flood of light. But the subject is too awful for irony. I will speak plainly and directly. Newton was a Christian! Newton, whose mind burst forth from the fetters fastened by nature upon our finite conceptions — Newton, whose science was truth, and the foundation of whose knowledge of it was philosophy — not those visionary and arrogant presumptions which too often usurp its name; but philosophy resting upon the basis of mathematics, which, like figures, cannot lie—Newton, who carried the line and rule to the utmost barriers of creation, and explored the principles by which all created matter is held together, and exists. But this extraordinary man, in the mighty reach of his mind, overlooked, perhaps the errors, which n minuter investigation of the created things of this earth might have taught him. What shall then be said of the great Boyle, who looked into the organic structure of all matter, even to the inanimate substances which the foot treads upon? Such a man may be supposed to have been equally qualified with Paine, to look up, through nature to nature's God. Yet the result of all his contemplations, was the most confirmed and devout belief in all which the other holds in contempt as despicable and drivelling superstition. But this error might, perhaps, arise from a want of due attention to the foundations of human judgment, and the structure of that understanding which God has given us for the investigation of truth. Let that question be answered by Locke, who, to the highest pitch of devotion and adoration, was a christian —Locke, whose office was to detect the errors of thinking, by going up to the very fountains of thought; and to direct into the proper track of reasoning, the devious mind of man, by showing him its whole process, from the first perceptions of sense to the last conclusions of ratiocination; putting a rein upon false opinion, by practical rules for the conduct of human judgment.
But these men, it may be said, were only deep thinkers, and lived in their closets,, unaccustomed to the traffic of the world, and to the laws which practically regulate mankind. Gentlemen, in the place where you now sit to administer the justice of this great country, the never-to-be-forgotten Sir Matthew Hale presided—whose faith in Christianity is an exalted commentary upon its truth and reason, and whose life was a glorious example of its fruits; whose justice, drawn from the pure fountain of the Christian dispensation, will be, in all ages, a subject of the highest reverence and admiration. But it is said by the author, that the Christian fable is but the tale of the more ancient superstitions of the world, and may be easily detected by a proper understanding of the mythologies of the Heathens. Did Milton understand those mythologies? Was he less versed than Paine in the superstitions of the world? No: they were the subject of his immortal song; and though shut out from all recurrence to them, he poured them forth from the stores of a memory rich with all that man ever knew, and laid them in their order as the illustrations of real and exalted faith, the unquestionable source of that fervid genius, which has cast a kind of shade upon all the other works of man—
"He pass'd the bounds of flaming space,
But it was the light of the body only that was extinguished; the Celestial Ught shone inward, and enabled him to "justify the ways of God to man ".
Thus you find all that is great, or wise, or splendid, or illustrious, amongst created beings — all the minds gifted beyond ordinary nature, though divided by distant ages, and by clashing opinions, yet joining, as it were, in one sublime chorus, to celebrate the truths of Christianity, and laying upon its holy altars, the neverfading offerings of their immortal wisdom. • Erskine.
IN DEFENCE OF CAPTAIN BAILLTE.
Such, my Lords, is the case. The defendant—not a disappointed malicious informer, prying into official abuses, because without office himself, but himself a man in office;—not troublesomely inquisitive into other men's departments, but conscientiously correcting his own; doing it pursuant to the rules of law, and, what heightens the character, doing it at the risk of his office, from which the effrontery of power has already suspended him without proof of his guilt; a conduct not only unjust and illiberal, but highly disrespectful to this court, whose judges sit in the double capacity of ministers of the law, and governors of this sacred and abused institution. Indeed, Lord Sandwiche has, in my opinion, acted such a part * * * (Here, Lord Mansfield observing the counsel heated with his subject, and growing personal on the First Lord of the Admiralty, told him that Lord Sandwiche was not before the court.) I know that he is not formally before the court, but, for that very reason, I will bring him before the court: he has placed these men in the front of the battle, in hopes to escape under their shelter, but I will not join in battle with them: their vices, though screwed up to the highest pitch of human depravity, are not of dignity enough to vindicate the combat with me. I will drag him to the light, who is the dark mover behind this scene of iniquity.