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and on every
preparing for political annoyance. This ground was also taken by Burke. He had, at the commencement of the American war,
other occasion, endeavoured to impress on the house and nation the aspiring views of France,—that the supremacy over Europe and its dependencies was the object;
that Britain was the most formidable opponent to her aggrandizement; that the humiliation of Britain was considered as the necessary, and, indeed, only means of certainly accomplishing her ends; that the animosity of rivalship inspirited the operations of ambition; that the mutual action and re-action of these principles had, on every opportunity, manifested themselves. The doctrine he held before, the doctrine he held then, the doctrine he held since, the doctrine he held always, was the sameTrust no friendly protestations from France: --France hates Britain ; France would subject Britain ; FRANCE HAS THE WILL TO CONQUER BRITAIN, BUT WANTS THE POWER. LET US GUARD AGAINST INCREASING HER
POWER AND INFLUENCE, THROUGH SUPINE
NESS OR CREDULITY, WHOSE INTENTIONS ARE SO MALIGNANT. A few months afforded a striking instance, that while her professions were friendly, her intentions were hostile; that she was employing every effort of policy to dętach from us our natural ally; and was preparing to second her intrigues by force, when the vigour of the British cabinet and the activity of Prussian troops defeated her machinations.
In Mr. Pitt's motion for the consolidation of the Customs Opposition unanimously acquiesced, and Burke betowed on it very high praise.
March 28, 1787, a motion was made for repealing the Test-Act. Although Burke had been, in 1772, favourable to a similar motion in behalf of the Dissenters (though a motion not altogether to the same extent) he did not support * the repeal. His detractors charged him with inconsistency for
He withdrew from the house without voting.
this conduct.* But if we examine the real circumstances of the case, we shall find no inconsistency in the support at one time, disapprobation at another; and that both were guided by liberal and sound policy. Indulgence to a part was wise and benevolent, when not interfering with the good of the whole. In 1772, there were among the Dissenters no known principles inimical to our establishment. Before 1787, principles ụnfavourable to the constitution of our state had been published by their leading men, and had been reprobated, às was before shewn, by Burke ; not only principles, but designs hostile to our church establishment had been avowed by a most distinguished person among them.
They were,' Dr. Priestley informed the public, in a pamphlet,
wisely placing, as it were, grain by grain, a train of gunpowder, to which the match would one day be laid to blow up the fabric of error, which could never be again raised
• * In the Monthly Review for October, 1798, there is a letter to me on this subject; my answer is in the Anti-Jacobin for November, 1798. R. B.
upon the same foundation. This declaration by a MINER was a sufficient reason and prudence for keeping him and his connections at such a distance from our fabric as to prevent the intended explosion. * From their recent conduct and declarations, Burke saw a danger in encouraging the Dissenters, which he could not have seen at a former period, because it did not exist.
Pitt, although he, from the philosophical enlargement of an enlightened mind, had been friendly to the Dissenters, when he
* The sanguineness of Priestley's temper here prevailed over his wisdom. It was certainly very unwise to tell the supporters of the Church, who were by far the more powerful body, that he designed to subdue them; he could not hope thereby to intimidate them to submission, but might expect to put them on their guard. The loquacious exultation of anticipated success is often a most powerful obstacle to its attainment. Conspiracies, that would have eluded the penetration of wisdom, have been exposed by the premature triumph of ringleaders and accomplices; no doubt such exposure, though even by the most ingenious and learned
man, is foolish. Hence we may learn how absurd their reasoning is, who in any case infer innocence, merely because the alledged operation of guilt would imply folly.
considered the differences between them and the Church as being merely about speculative points, yet, when he saw proceedings. intended to subvert so important a part
of our polity, thought circumspection and vigilance absolutely necessary. When there was an avowed design to sap the fortress, it became the duty of the garrison to secure the out-posts. Lord North, in opposing the appeal, besides the consideration of general expediency, by which men of such minds as Burke and Pitt are influenced in political conduct, had the additional motives of particular notions. He was, though not a bigotted, * a strenuous high churchman, had uniformly opposed the Dissenters merely when maintaining articles contrary to his belief, without cherishing designs subversive of the constitution, which he supported.
As Lord North and Burke were both men of great classical erudition, and very frequently introduced quotations from ancient
Ile was too mild and benevolent for a bigot.