« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
It was in consequence of publishing this and the succeeding tract that the first breach, or rather coolness, arose between Swift and his original friends of the Whig party. He had already stated to Lord Somers, about 1707-8, that, although he felt himself inclined to be a Whig in politics, he was, as to clerical rights, a high churchman, and did not conceive how it was possible that one who wore the habit of a clergyman should be otherwise. Swift, therefore, stated the impolicy of the connivance or encouragement given by the Whigs to those authors who attacked the clerical order, and urged the high probability that their conduct would unite the church as one man to oppose them. In the following tract, he attempts to recommend to the public an union between a high and rigid regard for the church establishment on the one hand,
and the principles of civil liberty on the other. He failed, however, in his appeal to the nation, as well as in his private advice to the Whig Ministers. It was, indeed, impossible it should be otherwise. High Church and Low Church formed, at this period, the discriminating banners under which Whigs and Tories respectively arranged themselves, and under which ensigns alone each expected to meet his enemies or his friends. All attempt at reconciling High Church politics to Whiggish principles soon appeared to be desperate ; and the interests of his order prevailed with Swift over his favour for the political principles of Somers and Godolphin.
CHURCH OF ENGLAND MAN,
WITH RESPECT TO
RELIGION AND GOVERNMENT.
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1708.
WHOEVER has examined the conduct and proceedings of both parties, for some years past, whether in or out of power, cannot well conceive it possible to go far toward the extremes of either, without offering some violence to his integrity, or understanding. A wise and a good man may indeed be sometimes induced to comply with a number, whose opinion he generally approves, though it be perhaps against his own. But this liberty should be made use of upon very few occasions, and those of small importance, and then only with a view of bringing over his own side, another time, to something of greater and more public moment. But to sacrifice the innocency of a friend, the good of our country, or our own conscience, to the humour, or passion, or interest of a party, plainly shows, that either our heads or our hearts are not as they should be: yet this very practice is the fundamental law of each faction among us, as may be obvious to any, who will impartially, and without engagement, be at the pains to examine their actions, which however is not so easy a task : for it seems a principle in human nature, to incline one way more than another, even in matters where we are wholly unconcerned. And it is a common observation, that in reading a history of facts done a thousand years ago, or standing by at play among those, who are perfect strangers to us, we are apt to find our hopes and wishes engaged on a sudden in favour of one side more than another. No wonder then that we are all so ready to interest ourselves in the course of public affairs, where the most inconsiderable have some real share, and, by the wonderful importance which every man is of to himself, a very great imaginary one.
And indeed, when the two parties, that divide the whole commonwealth, come once to a rupture, without any hopes left of forming a third, with better principles, to balance the others, it seems every man's duty to choose one of the two sides, though he cannot entirely approve of either; and all pretences to neutrality, are justly exploded by both, being too stale and obvious, only intending the safety and ease of a few individuals, while the public is embroiled. This was the opinion and practice of the latter Cato, whom I esteem to have been the wisest and best of all the Romans. But before things proceed to open violence, the truest service a private man may hope to do his country, is, by unbiassing his mind as much as possible, and then endeavouring to moderate between the rival powers; which must needs be owned a fair proceeding with the world, because it is, of all others, the least consistent with the common de