A DEFENCE OF THE ROCKINGHAM PARTY, &c. &c. &c.
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The present reign will certainly appear to our posterity full of the noblest materials for history. Many circumstances seem to have pointed it out as a very critical period. The general diffusion of science has, in some degree, enlightened the minds of all men; and has cleared such, as have any influence upon the progress of manners and society, from a thousand unworthy pre-possessions. The dissipation and luxury that reign uncontrouled have spread effiminacy and irresolution every where.—The grand defection of the United States of America from the mother country, is one of the most interesting events, that has engaged the attention of Europe for centuries. And the number of extraordinary geniuses that have distinguished themselves in the political world, gives a dignity to the scene. They pour a lustre over the darkest parts of the story, and bestow a beauty upon the tragedy, that it could not otherwise have possessed.
At a time like this, when the attention of mankind has been kept alive by a series of the most important events, we cease to admire at things which would otherwise appear uncommon, and wonders almost lose their name. Even now, however, when men were almost grown callous to novelty, and the youngest of us had, like Cato in the play, lived long enough to be "surprised at nothing," a matter has occurred which few expected, and to which, for that reason, men of no great strength of mind, of no nerve of political feeling, scarcely know how to reconcile themselves. I refer to the coalition between the friends of the late marquis of Rockingham and the noble commoner in the blue ribbon.
The manner of blaming this action is palpable and easy. The censure is chiefly directed against that wonderful man, whom, at least in their hearts, his countrymen, I believe, have agreed to regard as the person of brightest genius, and most extensive capacity, that now adorns the British senate. Has not this person, we are asked, for years attacked the noble lord in the most unqualified manner? Is there any aspersion, any insinuation, that he has not thrown out upon his character? Has he not represented him as the weakest man, and the worst minister, to whom the direction of affairs was ever committed? Has he not imputed to his prerogative principles, and his palpable misconduct, the whole catalogue of our misfortunes? If such men as these are to unite for the detested purposes of ambition, what security can we have for any thing valuable, that yet remains to us? Is not this the very utmost reach of frontless profligacy? What dependence after this is to be placed in the man, who has thus given the lie to all his professions, and impudently flown in the face of that honest and unsuspecting virtue, which had hitherto given him credit for the rectitude of his intentions?
I do not mean for the present to enter into a direct answer to these several observations. I leave it to others, to rest the weight of their cause upon sounding exclamations and pompous interogatories....