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doctrine of passive obedience, &c. &c. the intrepidity as well as disinterestedness of his behaviour proves,” says Mr. Hume, “that whatever his speculative principles were, his heart was elevated far above the meanness and abject submission of a slave.” Undoubtedly it does : this observation of Mr. Hume is very just, and therefore it is more incumbent upon me, as your lecturer, to impress upon your minds the importance of your political principles, that you may endeavour to be wise, as well as virtuous. It is but too plain from the historian's own account, that men of the most noble feelings and honourable character, (such as the bishop is here supposed by Mr. Hume to have been) may on public occasions act upon principles and enforce political doctrines, which can have no tendency but to make their fellow creatures base and servile, (whatever they may be themselves) by injuring and destroying the only source of ali elevated character in a people, the free principles of the constitution of their government. It is of little consequence that men may not have, themselves, the feelings of slaves, if they propagate doctrines that will practically and in the result make a nation of slaves around them.

But to return to Hume. Gilbert Stuart, a very able though somewhat impetuous inquirer into the earlier parts of our history, has pronounced his opinion upon the work of Mr. Hume in the following words: “From its beginning to its conclusion, it is chiefly to be regarded as a plausible defence of prerogative. As an elegant and a spirited composition, it merits every commendation. But no friend to humanity, and to the freedom of this kingdom, will consider his constitutional inquiries, with their effect on his narrative, and compare them with the ancient and venerable monuments of our story, without feeling a lively surprise, and a patriot indignation."

This opinion, however severe, is not very different from that which is in general entertained by others, who from previous study are competent to decide; and this, while the literary merits of the history are universally acknowledged. The student will therefore read, with more than ordinary care, what he is told is so fitted at once to charm his taste and to mislead his understanding.

Since I drew up this lecture, a work has been published

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by Mr. Brodie, of Edinburgh; it is not well written in point of style, and the author must be considered as a writer on the popular side, but he is a man of research and independence of mind. It is a work of weight and learning, and it appears to me for ever to have damaged, and most materially damaged, the character of Mr. Hame as an accurate historian. It justifies the opinion I have just alluded to, as pronounced by Gilbert Stuart, and maintained by others competent to decide.

I must observe, before I conclude, that it is the general effect of the narrative of this able historian that is of so much importance. Particular passages might be drawn from his work of every description, favourable as well as unfavourable to the privileges of the subject. But the sentiment conveyed by such particular passages, taken singly, do in fact stand opposed to the general impression that results from the whole.

Were a popular writer to seek for observations favourable to the cause of the liberties of England, he would often find them no where better expressed; but their being found in the history of Hume is a circumstance quite analogous to what constantly obtains, in every literary performance, where the author has (on whatever account) a general purpose to accomplish, which the nature of his subject does not in strict reason allow. Truth is then continually mixed up with misrepresentation, and the whole mass of the reasoning, which in its final impression is materially wrong, is so interspersed with observations, which are in themselves perfectly right, that the reader is at no time sufficiently on his guard, and is at last betrayed into conclusions totally unwarrantable, and at variance with his best feelings and soundest opinions.

Observe the writings of Rochefoucault or Mandeville ; you will there see what I am describing, as indeed you may in every work, where the author is deceived himself or is deceiving others.

One word more and I conclude, one word as an estimate of the whole subject between Mr. Hume and his opponents.

In the first place, we may agree with Mr. Hume, that the whole of our history during the period from Edward I. to Henry VIII. was a scene of irregularity and of great occa


sional violence; that the laws could neither be always maintained, nor could the principles of legislation be ever said to be well understood; we must admit, therefore, that it is not fair to imagine, as Mr. Hume complains we do, that all the princes, who were unfortunate in their government, were necessarily tyrannical in their conduct, and that resistance to the monarch always proceeded from some attempt on his part to invade the privileges of the subject. This we must admit.

But, in the second place, it must be observed that the struggle between the subject and the crown was constantly kept up in the times of the most able, as well as of the weakest monarchs: that they, who resisted the prerogative, never did it, without producing those maxims and without asserting those principles of freedom, which are necessary to all rational government; which are by no means fitted in themselves to produce anarchy, and by no means inconsistent with all those salutary prerogatives of the crown, which are requisite to the regular protection of the subject.

In the third place, that if these maxims and principles had not been from time to time asserted, and sometimes with success, that the result must have been, that our constitution would have degenerated; like that of France and of every other European state, into a system of monarchical power, unlimited and unrestrained by the interference of any legislative assemblies.

And that therefore in the last place, Mr. Hume tells the story of England without giving sufficient praise to those patriots who preserved and transmitted those general habits of thinking on political subjects which have always distinguished this country, and to which alone every Englishman owes, at this day, all that makes his life a blessing and his existence honourable.

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shewing you that in the consideration of its history we soon arrived at the same points as in the history of the rest of Europe, I mentioned to you, that there were before you the facts of our history and the philosophy of it; that you were to acquire a knowledge of the one, but that you must endeavour to understand the other; above all, that the constitutional history of your country must be your great object of inquiry; that Rapin, Hume, and Millar must be your authors; at the same time I referred you to other sources of information and other historians.

Next, I stated to you, that a difference in the opinions of men had existed and always must exist in every mixed form of government; that there must be always those who favour the monarchical and those who favour the popular part of it; that through the whole of our history, down to 1688, there had been maintained a struggle between prerogative and privilege; and that no thoroughly impartial historian of our annals could be found.

Lastly, I attempted to give you some general description of the merits of Hume, the most popular and the most able, and therefore the most important of our historians.

I endeavoured to protect you, or rather to enable you to protect yourselves, from the mistakes into which you might fall if you depended on his representations, if you rested upon them with that confidence, which his evident good sense and apparent calmness and impartiality would naturally inspire.

His references, as I then shewed you, do not always bear him out in his statements; and his omissions must be taken

into account as well as his misrepresentations—this is the first point.

But he ascribes to those who acted in the earlier scenes of our history sentiments and opinions which belong only to his own philosophic mind—this is the second.

On the whole he does not tell the story of our constitutional history fairly.

He must in his facts be compared with Rapin ; if necessary with original authorities : and in his philosophy with Millar and others.

And now I must digress for a moment, to offer you a remark, which I hope you will hereafter not think very unnatural for me to have made on the present occasion.

It is wonderful then, I must observe, it is wonderful to see men like Mr. Hume, of peaceful babits, and of benevolent affections, men at the same time of improved minds and of excellent sense, it is wonderful to see them so indifferent to the popular privileges of the community.

Yet is this a sort of phenomenon that we witness every day. Such men would not in practice vindicate themselves from oppression, by rising up in arms against their arbitrary governors ; they are not of a temperament to set their lives upon a cast. What possible chance, then, have they for the security of their property, for the very freedom of their persons, above all, for the exercise of their minds, but the existence of popular privileges ? To them, above all men, civil freedom is every thing.

Civil freedom cannot indeed exist without the existence at the same time of executive power, that is, of prerogative. Men must be protected from the multitude. But surely it can still less exist, without the existence of popular privileges; because society must be protected from the few, as well as from the many; from the insolence, injustice, and caprice of the high, as of the low. The mistake that is made seems to be, that it is supposed popular privileges will always lead to disorder, and render the government insecure.

The very reverse is the fact; so much so, that certain privileges may be trusted, not merely to legislative bodies, men of property and education (which is the first and main point to be contended for), but even to the lowest orders of

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