« PreviousContinue »
of the sword and fagot, with a more lasting and tedious torment,-I mean, the hunger and distresses of thousands. They have renewed and perpetuated the torments invented by the former princes of Tuscany. They make the living expire in the arms of the dead.
The liberality of the times, the interest of the kingdom, the wisdom and humanity of our rulers, every thing cries aloud for the repeal of laws enacted on the score of 'conscience If subordination and policy require what, in every country, is called a religion of state, though in fact an encroachment on the natural rights of man, when it excludes him from the privileges to which he is entitled by nature: yet this happy system of toleration could be introduced by excluding in this kingdom the Catholics from any high offices under the crown : secondly, from the privilege of sitting in the senate: thirdly, if the use of arms gives any umbrage, from the privilege of carrying them, except to such as have a mind to serve their country in the army, or 'such persons as are possessed of a real or personal estate, amounting to whatever value the legifiature thinks fit : all other laws, heretofore enacted, to be null and void. The kingdom would soon flourish : and the brilliant example, fet to such princes as have not as yet thrown open the gates of toleration, would refcue 'mankind from the heavy yoke which
F 2 misconstrued
misconstrued religion has laid on their necks.
The Author of nature intended men for society; and entitles every man to the advantages of that'condition, who is free from all principles and practices injurious to the civil
good ofisociety. The great Giver alone can'
repeal the universal charter. He has not done it :.and 'I hope that I have sufficiently proved that he has not delegated that power to any of his creatures.
The rulers of the earth, whether Catholicsor Protestants, owe all social benefits to their loyal subjects of every denomination. If one of the.e powers withhold' their people's native rights, it is no excuse for the other, that their conduct is countenanced by their neighbour's example. Honour, humanity, and the rights of mankind, should suggest to modern legiflators to repair the losses, caused by their predevcessors misguided zeal. And as the clergy of all denominations, consider themselves as the ldelegates of heaven, and invested with the come mitlion to prescribe a mode of worship to man, let them propose it in a manner that may secure its triumph over the heart; brighten it up
with the genial rays of humanity, benevolence, *
and love, and not cloud it with the sullen
vgloom of severity, oppression, and distress. For
Christ who is the Creator of all, has not declared in his gospel, that one should be'exeluded from the protection of the laws, and persecuted for his worship, and the other authorized to famish, starve, and insult the weak. ness of a fellow creature.
S E V E R A L persons requested I 'would give a history of the London riots: I promisecl to vundertake the task, and. in consequence began to digest my materials. I asterwards reflected, that the duty of the historian, bound him to arraign at the impartial tribunal of truth, both men and actions ; unmask the leading characters ; examine into their motives ; lay open the hidden springs of proceedings, whether worthy of applause, or delervi'ng to 'be doomed to censure; embellish his narrative with suitable reflexions ; and, by spreading the wide theatre, without respect to time or persons, inform the living, and become the monitor of the unborn. I afterwards considered my own state, exposed in consequence of the penal laws, to the insult of every ruffian z and, comparing the desenceless situation of the priest with the duty of the historian, I dropped the attempt.
No person is obliged to write a history ; but when he writes it he must tell the truth: and when we tell the truth in talking of the living, it is hard to avoid giving offence.
If my correspondents be not satisfied with this apology, let them point out a method whereby I can remove the difficulty, and I shall publish a history of the riots, in London itself, with my name to it : for I disclairn anonymous productions.