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standing the Couonation Oath ? And has not the legislature itself conscientiously given a sanction to this doctrine ? *
It is greatly to be lamented, that Judge Blackstone should at all have spoken in favour of our penal laws, when it is evident, even to candour itself, that his better feelings flowed from a purer source. A constitutional king should distinguish, as constitutional lawyers do, a Commentator on the Laws of England looking towards the Bench. For Blackstone, when he wrote his Com. mentaries, was only looking to be a judge; and this is the true key to his inconsistencies.
To guard what has been said, let it be observedl, that it is not denied,—it has been granted,—that before and at the time when Magna Charta was granted, church and state formed one consti. tution : in those times the civil and ecclesiastical courts were united, though separated, for state-reasons, at the Conquest. To those times Hooker's observation well applies : “ The church of England and the people of England were the same people.” It is, however, still true, that Magna Charta has nothing doctrinal in it; and no less true, that Hooker's maxim does not apply to the times since the Reformation, Men, exercising their own faculties, and following the dictates of their consciences, have formed different opinions on doctrinal articles and church government; and philosophy, more unshackled from bigotry, has breathed something of the empyrean of liberty : Experiments have proved to be true, what bigots and politicians denied.
Civil and religious liberty, and nothing else, is the true cement of the English Constitution : penal laws are wedges driven violently into it, and keep the parts wide asunder: these were never genuine parts of it, and wherever they appear are sophisms intermingled with eternal truths. It is time that these sophisms were untwisted: we should revert to fundamentals, and distinguish what is merely legal from what is constitutional. As to the old Coronation Oaths, they were administered when the nation was anited in one faith; the new, when the nation was split into reli, gious sections: and if by maintaining the true profession of the Gospel any thing more is meant than professing the reformed religion, and giving its teachers a civil sanction, it goes
further than any civil magistrate is authorized to go by that Gospel; it is contrary to right reason as well as to true policy, and may be, come,a trap to a conscientious king, no less than an insult to those of his subjects who have any conscience. No oath, that binds a king to the will of the majority, can authorize him to resist the will of the majority; and no government could, consti. tutionally, impose such an oath on an English king.
* On the Act of Patronage in Scotland, see an Inquiry into the Principles of Ecclesiastical Patronage and Presentation, p. 29.
Conscience is that secret council-chamber erected in the breas: of man by the Great Power that formed him-a mysterious vicegerency, that brings nigh to human beings that Presence which fills the universe. Kings as well as subjects are under its dominion; and for their religious feelings and apprehensions are accountable to that tribunal alone. A king is bound by his religion, in his personal character, in foro conscientiæ, as much as a subject; a subject as much a king. But does a subject forego his civil rights by embracing religious opinions? Or can a king, in his political character, be released from his obligation to protect a citizen in his natural rights and civil privileges; that being the very end of political society;—the only just foundation of civil government ? Liberty of conscience is every man's inalienable birthright,-a franchise, of which no being on earth has a right to disinherit him; and for the peaceable enjoyment of which he should forfeit none of the common advantages of civil society.
5. As to the People at large, it should seem but a principle of moderation to say, that in a cause which concerns every individual, no individual should be wholly indifferent. For though individuals may ask, what good can we do? Yet, as it is reasonable that every man should know something of his birthrights, it will be natural for him sometimes to talk of them. Is it not also agreeable ? Love of liberty is a natural passion : like all natural passions, the very feeling of it is delight, and to converse about it refreshes the spirits. He who is a stranger to the feeling is scarce a man.
The Liberty of the Press is a scyon of the good old tree of English liberty; and although liable to some luxuriancy, it bears much wholesome fruit. True it is, it may be prurient, but it must not be lopped off. The art of printing itself has been the means of propagating some errors--some absurdities,--some ma. lignities; but by leading to truth and philosophy, it has been favourable to human happiness. And the liberty of the press, though that press may occasionally be licentious, is by its general tendencies naturally salutary, and more abundantly beneficial to mankind.
Thus the public papers, which may be considered as a kind of registers of the times, often lead mankind to much important truth; for though they frequently subserve people's particular interests or passions, and lead far enough from liberty and truth, yet, when directed by wise and well-principled men, they conduct to much good,--they bring out much political information; and their very oppositions often produce elucidations; for as stone strụck against flint elicits sparks, so do the contentions of gentle. men, playing at cross-purposes with one another, often throw out a light which keeps the unprejudiced in the right way. The debates of the House of Commons, as reported in these papers, have the same tendency; for though they sometimes are at variance with the liberties of the country, and are sometimes made with more of gladiatorial prowess and violence, than of legislatorial dignity and principle, yet when men of generous, disinterested feelings, bear testimony to the best principles of the Constitution, their words, like seeds borne by the wind and carried to a distant soil, are conveyed far and wide to many an unsophisticated heart; and taking deep root, they produce the most solid, ever-growing advantages.
T'ime would fail me to notice particular persons, who in their private capacities have felt agreeable employment in distributing useful pamphlets on the principles of English Liberty, or to point out the worth of those pamphlets illustrated by them ; but their ardour is entitled to much praise. One example I cannot fore bear noticing :-It is of a private gentleman, who, after travelling in foreign countries, sat down quiet and delighted in his own; and who, admiring the best principles of the English Constitution, as unfolded in the political writings of Sidney, Milton, Marvel, and Locke, published them at his own expence. Portions of these were selected for a wider circulation. The complete copies were distributed among private friends, or deposited in various public libraries throughout England and Scotland. Nor was his zerl confined to his own country : copies of these works were conveyed, under his direction and at his expence, to public libraries in North America, in Holland, and Switzerland, A testimony this, worthy of a true Englishman, honourable to his nation, and highly honourable to himself,-beneficial to his own countrymen, and no doubt singularly beneficial to mankind at large ! *
Societies have been formed with similar views, to convey con, stitutional information, more enlarged views of our representative system, and to support the liberty of the press: some composed of simple citizens, others combining with them members of both Ilouses of Parliament. That effects proportioned to their wishes and plans were not produced, was owing, in part, to the intere position of government, in part, to other causes not so obvious to a hasty survey. That nothing good was effected, by no means follows. The full influence of useful truths, no less than of pernicious doctrines, is not to be calculated by immediate effects. It is not the mere depositing of seed in the bosom of the earth, that can cause it to grow: that seed takes a new place --it must strike root,--undergo a chemical process, by means of other box dies, with which it comes into contact, and depends on other influences, independent of the power of individuals, or societies of agriculturists : what retards its growth may perhaps strengthen its
Memoirs of John Hollis, Esq.
exclusively attended to, the crime is comparatively nothing. But when we see these things represented, the acts which they do are comparatively every thing, their impulses nothing. The state of sublime emotion into which we are elevated by those images of night and horror which Macbeth is made to utter, that solemn prelude with which he entertains the time till the bell shall strike which is to call him to murder Duncan,—when we no longer read it in a book, when we have given up that vantage-ground of abstraction which teading possesses over seeing, and come to see a man in his bodily shape before our eyes actually preparing to commit a murder, if the acting be true and impressive, as I have witnessed it in Mr. K.'s performance of that part, the painful anxiety about the act, the natural longing to prevent it while it yet seems unperpetrated, the too close pressing semblance of reality, give a pain and an uneasiness which totally destroy all the delight whieh the words in the book convey, where the deed doing never presses upon us with the painful sense of presence: it rather seems to belong to history,—to something past and in. evitable, if it has any thing to do with time at all. The sublime images, the poetry alone, is that which is present to our minds in the reading.
So to see Lear acted to see an old man tottering about the stage with a walking-stick, turned out of doors by his daughters in a rainy night, has nothing in it but what is painful and disgusting. We want to take him into shelter and relieve him. That is all the feeling which the acting of Lear ever produced in me. But the Lear of Shakspeare cannot be acted. The con. temptible machinery by which they mimic the storm which he goes out in, is not more inadequate to represent the horrors of the real elements, than any actor can be to represent Lear: they might more easily propose to personate the Satan of Milton upon a stage, or one of Michael Angelo's terrible figures. The greatness of Lear is not in corporal dimension, but in intelleca tual : the explosions of his passion are terrible as a volcano : they are storms turning up and disclosing to the bottom that sea, his mind, with all its vast riches. It is his mind which is laid bare. This case of flesh and blood seems too insignificant to be thought on; even as he himself neglects it. On the stage we see nothing but corporal infirmities and weakness, the impotence of rage: while we read it, we see not Lear, but we are Leary--we are in his mind, we are sustained by a grandeur which baffles the malice of daughters and storms; in the aberrations of his reason, we dis. cover a mighty irregular power of reasoning, immethodized from the ordinary purposes of life, but exerting its powers, as the wind blows where it listeth, at will upon the corruptions and abuses of mankind. What have looks, or tones, to do with that sublime
identification * It is observable that we fall into this confusion only in dramatic recitations,
Though, like the bard himself, in night they lay,
It would be an insult to my readers' understandings to attempt any thing like a criticism on this farrago of false thoughts and noile
But the reflection it led me into was a kind of wonder, how, from the days of the actor here celebrated to our own, it should have been the fashion to compliment every performer in his turn, that has had the luck to please the town in any of the great characters of Shakspeare, with the notion of possessing a mind congenial with the poet's : how people should come thus unaccountably to confound the power of originating poetical images and conceptions with the faculty of being able to read or recite the same when put into words ;* or what connection that absolute mastery over the heart and soul of man, which a great dramatic poet possesses, has with those low tricks
car, which a player by observing a few general elects, which some common passion, as grief, anger, &c. usually has upon the gestures and exterior, can so easily compass. To know the internal workings and movements of a great mind, of an Othello or a lIamlet for instance, the when and the why and the how far they should be moved; to what pitch a passion is becoming; to give the reins and to pull in the ciirb exactly at the moment when the drawing in or the slackening is most graceful; seems to demand a reach of in. tellect of a vastly different extent from that which is employed upon the bare imitation of the signs of these passions in the countenance or gesture, which signs are usually observed to be most lively and emphatic in the weaker sort of minds, and which signs can after all but indicate some passion, as I said before, anger, or grief, generally; but of the motives and grounds of the passion, wherein it differs from the same passion in low and vulgar natures, of these the actor can give no more idea : by his face or gesture than the eye (without a metaphor) can speak, or the muscles utter intelligible sounds. But such is the instantaneous nature of the ima pressions which we take in at the eye and ear at a play-house, come pared with the slow apprehension oftentimes of the understanding
We never dream that the gentleman who reads Lucretius in public with great applause, is therefore a great poet and philosopher ; nor do we find that Toin Davies, the bookseller, who is recorded to have recited the Paradise Lost better than any man in England in his day (though I cannot help thinking there must be some mistake in this tradition) was therefore, by bis intimate friends, set upon a level with Milton,