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a worthy magistrate urged, by throwing the blame upon the pen; his worship never thought of stating it as a proof of his honesty.
Now, the late King's authority being only entitled to deference in respect of his acuteness and wisdom, and there being no more reason in the world for adopting his opinion on the Catholic question, because he was once king, than for imitating his method of composition—what was there, let us calmly ask, in his Majesty's mental constitution, that should give him any peculiar claim to the character of extraordinary sense and discernment-or to that sound, and, above all, that calm practical judgment, which lends authority to the opinions, and even invests, with a title to veneration, the recorded sayings of deceased men ? He was a good father-when not under the influence of prejudice, a kind and a just father; when under such guidance, a most harsh parent, as witness his very unfair treatment of the present King, whose filial conduct was marked, on the most trying occasions of his life, by the most exemplary respect and forbearance, and against whom, in this respect, no one ever brought any charge, except that he would not abandon his friends and his opinions, to humour that father's prejudices. He was a faithful husband, and of very retired and domestic habits; an early riser, punctual in his dealings, and a good man of business, after a regular every-day fashion. All these qualities add much, no doubt, to a man's respectability; and make his example useful in a moral point of view, if he is in a high station. But what weight do they give his opinions upon matters in Church and State ? What force do they lend to his arguments? While actually reigning, while backed by fleets and armies, while able to win his way to the heart, through the treasure at his disposal and the patronage in his gift, the strength of reasoning which he brings to bear on any point may be of little consequence, because men do not, in general, much care to combat a logician who is master of many legions: But when he is gone to his account, and expectant beneficiaries come forth with posthumous adulation, or, under pretence of paying tribute to the memory of the departed Prince, fawn upon the living Prelate, and pursue their calling, at the risk of even vilifying the reigning monarch, and his chosen advisers,—we must plainly and frankly tell them, that the value of George the Third's doctrines now, is exactly in proportion to his sense and calmness of mind as a man, and not to either his moral virtues or his station as a sovereign. Now, what rank did the late King occupy in this scale? A very humble one assuredly.
George the Third had, from nature, strong feelings; a plain and good, but very ordinary understanding : and a turn to
wards obstinacy, which, in any one, is inimical to instruction, but in a prince, is apt both to increase with time, and to prevent all mental improvement. His education was of the most narrow description; and he was bred up in prejudices of the most ordinary and illiberal kind, which strengthened with his years, and, at length, left his reason no room to play upon any matter of real importance. For the greater were the occasion to exercise deliberate wisdom, and to argue any point, the more prone was he to consider the subject as above or beyond the reach of discussion ; to regard it as a matter of feeling, or conscience, or fixed principle, and therefore to view it as a ground from which all argument was excluded, and which was sacred to the dominion of preconceived prejudices alone. This is a very ordinary cast of understanding : And they who, from obstinacy of disposition, limited comprehension, or defective tuition, are the victims of it, never fail to regard as an enemy, or a designing traitor, every one who would open their eyes to the light of the truth. " Let me live and die contented and ignorant," says one.
“ None of your refinements !” echoes another." These are
points on which I will suffer no subtleties to raise doubts," says this country gentleman.—“ Away with your special-plead
ing niceties,” cries his sapient neighbour.—” The subject is “ too sacred for human reason,” adds a reverend Justice.—“Our " conscience, thank God, is beyond the reach of sophistry—of “ what the liberal call reasoning," shout the whole chorus.So when the late Lord Melville ventured to show his late Majesty that there was a gross absurdity in supposing the Coronation Oath could bind any one for ever against doing his duty to the country, with the sanction of Parliament, or could apply at all to a new state of the law and the commonwealth, he is said to have been met by these memorable words, “ None of your “ Scotch metaphysicks!”
Such was his late Majesty, in the vigour of his faculties, and the prime of life. But Dr Phillpotts is not content with this, his best authority—these his weightiest dicta. He must needs give currency to the unfortunate King's lucubrations in the decline of life, when his reason was clouded, nay, when his faculties were on the eve, if not under the obscuration of the eclipse which, in 1801, darkened the royal understanding. The time which he judiciously selects, in his late Majesty's life, for trying his intellects in conflict with those of Mr Pitt, is the month of March 1801, immediately before the minister resigned in the prime of his faculties, and his royal master was consigned to medical care for the last of human calamities—the greatest deprivatic
hich either monarchs or their subjects can be visited.
be said, that the responses, without reasoning,
of a mind so morbid. as to become wholly alienated when pressed upon a certain topic, are not of the highest authority-particularly on that topic; that to consult one labouring under such a calamitous dispensation, upon any nice point, but especially upon the very point which forms the subject of the malady, argues anything rather than a very sound judgment in him who so consults. The late King's understanding was of so ordinary a cast, his prejudices so strong, and his reasoning powers naturally so little exercised, that his opinion, when age and disease had done nothing to impair those faculties which nature had bestowed with no very lavish hand, and education had very scantily improved, would have been of very little weight with reasonable men. Upon any matter of mere feeling in either public or private affairs, the sentiments were well worth having of so right-hearted a man, one whose good dispositions in domestic life were so much less sophisticated by the follies of a court, or perverted by the corruptions of power, than almost any other sovereigns of whom we have had recent experience. But, at the best, his notions upon government and policy were of a limited and contracted cast, and so often under the dominion of incurable prejudice and personal feeling, that no reliance at all could be placed on their justness. Why should we confine the use of his name to one question alone, and that the question, of a mixed nature religious as well as political, which was most likely to excite his strongest prejudices, and most unregulated feelings? Let us try the soundness of this test by consulting the responses of the same oracle on other subjects.
If the late King's opinion had been infallible, nay, if any weight whatever had been allowed to it, no advances could ever have been made towards peace, either with the republic or the Emperor of France. Possibly some may agree in this love of eternal war, rather than treat with illegitimate authorities: But the same creed would have denounced all acknowledgment of the independence of South America, as the last of national crimes,—and all from a personal motive-because the late King's first misadventure was a disastrous war with his own colonies. To the gratification of this pique,—the prejudice arising from a mere sense of personal affront,—the Sovereign was ready to sacrifice every consideration of public policy; and his wish—his deliberate judgment, if consulted, must have led to everlasting hostility with all revolted colonies. He had a strong prejudice, too, against the abolition of the Slave Trade; and though he never interfered actively to prevent it, yet, had he been followed as an authority, the most righteous and glorious measure of his long reign never would have been carried. Does any one doubt that his opinion
would have held the Navigation Act sacred, in every letter of every clause ? Does any man question his disposition to keep everything in our Criminal law, the worst as well as the best parts of it, for ever in the self-same condition in which it bad come down to him from the Tudors and the Plantagenets? That we are to regard as the oracles of perfect wisdom, all the notions of a prince whose views were a century behind the present day, -because in moral and domestic demeanour, he far excelled most of his exalted rank, is really a position so extravagant that we should never have dreamt of combating it, had not the publication before us proceeded upon the full adoption of it.
But if the late King's authority, at the best period of his life, was little to be regarded, merely as an authority, what shall be said of those who give it forth as very wisdom, when the monarch was in the decline of his life-and when his reason was bowed, or at least bending under disease! Such, however, is the period when the most important of the documents before us were prepared, and used by his late Majesty, in his communications with his servants. The use covertly made of the late King's authority, has done so much harm to the Catholic question, that we, its warm supporters, could have desired no greater boon than such an exposition of the weakness of that ground, as its avowed enemies have, in this publication, furnished by their indiscreet and unthinking zeal. But we owe them, on behalf of that great cause, a more lasting obligation. They have put forth the King's prejudice,—it can hardly be called his opinion,-in all the nakedness of such an authority unsupported by argument; and they have placed by its side, not merely the far higher authority of Mr Pitt, but his reasons, his unanswerable reasons, for espousing the opinion which he always strenuously maintained, and to which he once sacrificed his office. The tract before us acquires a very high value from this circumstance.
It opens in a solemn strain with the Coronation Oath, carefully copied from the Statute and the Liturgy. This is fair and candid; and it puts an end to the whole question. It is quite decisive of the whole crotchet-argument we cannot call it-put into the late good old King's head by some wily intriguing courtiers for their own sinister purposes, and which Lord Liverpool himself, with all his No Popery violence, could not gravely defend, but abandoned as stark nonsense. The Archbishop says:-“ Will
you solemnly promise and swear to govern the people of this “ kingdom of England and the dominions thereto belonging, “ (according to the statutes in Parliament agreed on, and the laws " and customs of the sume?” The King's answer is,-" I so" lemnly promise to do so." Now, no man-not certainly the
late King, who gave his assent to acts unnumbered, repealing the old laws and customs of the realm, nor the Duke of York, who supported those changes-ever could maintain that this involves a promise to govern by the statutes then in being, but only by such statutes as should at any time be agreed on. Then comes a similar promise to execute law and justice in mercy, subject to the former promise, of course, and only implying an administering justice and law in mercy, according to whatever law may be established. Next is the promise in dispute: “ Will “ the utmost of your power, maintain the laws of God, the true “ profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant reformed religion “ established by law; and will you preserve unto the Bishops “ and Clergy of this realm, and to the churches committed to " their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do OR “ SHALL appertain unto them or any of them ?" The answer is, “ All this I promise to do.” This really should seem as if the crotchet had been foreseen by the wise framers of the oath, so excellently are the words contrived to prevent it. Not only does the first promise ride over the whole; the promise to execute the law mercifully, whatever the law may at any time be, as well as the promise to preserve the established religion and hierarchybut even if this third promise be taken by itself, its language is so clear as to be incapable of misconstruction, without wilful blindness, and the most perverse and wrongheaded ingenuity. The thing promised is, to support the religion established by law ; the rights and privileges promised to be preserved, are those which are or shall be given to the Church - by law.” The oath plainly applies to the conduct
of the King in his executive capacity, not as a branch of the Legislature; it binds him to reign according to law in his conduct as King; it forbids him either to hang men without lawful judgment, or to attack the church illegally; or to take from religion its lawful sanction; or to take from the church its lawful rights. If this be not the construction, how could George the Third, with a safe conscience, take from parsons the right of non-residence, by one law, and force them, by another, to pay their curates a certain sum? But how, above all, could he emancipate the Catholics, in respect of four-fifths of their disabilities; giving them the right to vote for members of Parliament, while he only withheld the right to sit in that assembly ? Giving the publication of the very words of the oath, is candid and useful in the controversy; for the unlettered reader, who sees the Reverend Editor's preface, and the Royal Author's doubts, would be apt to suppose that the latter had, in the year 1761, sworn to refuse his assent