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lities of individuals on the public events and transactions of this latter period.

The great influence which personal character had formerly on events, together with other causes, occasions the reign of Charles the first, in which the contest for political power commenced, to form the most interesting period of English history, whether we are disposed to triumph with the conquering party, or to espouse and commiserate the cause of high honour and suffering loyalty. The frequent and remarkable changes of government during the interregnum, as well as the singular and energetic character of the protector Cromwell, secure the attention of every reader. The disputes, which arose between an unprincipled, but good humoured monarch, regardless alike of his own honour and the national interest, and a restless, violent, and merciless faction, are subjects of deep concern, on account of their melancholy results. At the same time, the mind feels consolation in the virtues of Ormond, Clarendon, and Southampton. And, notwithstanding the enormities of courtiers and anticourtiers, we reflect with pleasure on the freedom then first securely enjoyed, from every species of arbitrary taxation, and from extrajudicial imprisonment; on the provision made for the meeting of parliament once in three years at the least; in a word, on the possession of a constitution, which king William admired so much, that he professed himself afraid to improve it. The gloom of the next reign, overcast and ruined as its prospects were by folly and oppression, and finally closed by means of intrigue, falsehood, and intimidation, is in part enlivened by a view of the courageous and disinterested conduct of Sancroft, Hough, Dundee, Craven, and a few others. Some of these persons, desirous of a parliamentary redress of grievances, thought, that instead of the force put upon the person of the king, an accommodation might and ought to have been effected with him; as he had a little before, when threatened with the just and open hostility of his subjects for his perversion of law, and maintenance of a standing army, made very important concessions. Yet it may reasonably be doubted, whether a composition with a prince of his disposition and feeble judgment, whatever good qualities he was otherwise possessed of, would eventually have been lasting, or even reducible to practice. The appeal made by him to his subjects immediately after his retreat to another country, was signed by a secretary of state employed contrary to law.

Times had now passed, which were chequered with great virtues and vices: but the reigns of William and Anne exhibit to the reader one uniform scene of venality and corruption; and the mind, instead of being interested, is disgusted with the contests of two parties for the government of the country, assuming, as it best suited their selfish purposes, each others' principles. The long contemplated change in the executive government was at length effected; its power being virtually transferred to combinations of persons possessed of great influence in parliamentary elections, and in parliament itself. Hence what has been called the practice of the constitution differed widely from its theory; and to this depression of the crown and of its direct power, occasioned by the seeming necessity for the almost constant sitting of parliament, were added maxims totally annihilating the will of the single person, and, in conjunction with other causes, finally subversive of all dutiful and affectionate attachment to authority. These maxims, not recognised as constitutional by Clarendon, Hale, or Locke, were advanced in order to colour and justify the alteration. A wider and more extensive field was now opened for the exertion of talents, serviceable indeed to the advancement of the individual, but full as often pernicious as useful to the public. In these reigns also, contrary to every principle of justice, were laid the deep and broad foundations of a debt, which no other than the political system then adopted could have entailed on a nation. It ought still however to be remembered, that at, or soon after the revolution, a solemn recognition was made of the liberties of Englishmen; the power of dispensing with the laws was abrogated in all cases; the judges were no longer dismissible at the sole pleasure of the crown; a provision was made against the long continuance of parliaments; freedom of religious worship was secured to the great body of protestant dissenters; the important and necessary measure of a union with Scotland was effected; the liberty of the press established; trials for treason better regulated; and a more exact and impartial administration of justice generally introduced in the kingdom. Which blessings, together with all other constitutional rights, may God's providence, and a virtuous and independent spirit, continue to us! THE

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HISTORY

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MY OWN TIMES.

VOL. I.

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