Abbildungen der Seite





year 1841 presented to the public a novel from the pen of Mr. Ward, which, even without making allowances for the afflictions and infirm health, of which the foregoing letters afford such clear witness, would be a remarkable production from the pen of a man of seventy-six, who had led the active life that had been ever his fate.

It was received with much favour by the public, to whose indulgence occasional allusions will be found in the letters that follow. I should first, however, notice, that the same year too produced from his

prolific and varied genius a work of an entirely different character, on the Revolution of 1688. Instead of introducing any criticism of my own, I cannot do what will be more welcome to my readers than present that which was addressed to the author by the Right Hon. Charles Wynn (to whom it had been dedicated), so long a high authority on constitutional questions.

[blocks in formation]

Rt. Hon. Charles Wynn to R. P. Ward, Esq.

“ May 5. 1838. “ My dear Ward,

“ I am quite ashamed to have so long delayed sending you the observations which you so kindly wished me to make on the essays which you did me the honour of addressing to me. I regret to say, that though I have repeatedly intended to devote an adequate time to the task, nay, sat down in execution of my intention, the pressure of the business of the day, which from my having much to write for my brother on account of his own inability, besides my necessary attendance upon my poor invalid at home, has been unusually heavy, has constantly intervened to prevent me from proceeding beyond a few short notes not worthy of your attention.

“ The point upon which I principally differ from you is, that I think you hardly state with sufficient strength the grounds which justify the conduct both of William and his English supporters in effecting the revolution.

“ You state the proposition as if a difference of opinion on foreign politics between a king and his subjects were argued to be a reason to justify insur

but that difference of opinion was resistance to what was believed to be a deliberate plan for the overthrow of the independence and political liberty of every state in Europe, and what the subjects of James saw to be particularly directed to the extirpation of the Protestant religion. You must always bear in


mind the violent persecution then carried on in France by the monarch whom the English saw to have established not only a close alliance, but an overruling influence over their own sovereign, who was acting for the same object though in a less open manner.

You seem to consider the oath enacted by the 13th and 14th Charles II. as only forswearing resistance against lawful commands; now it seems to me that it expressly declares that it is not lawful to bear arms against the king under any pretence whatever, and that such an oath therefore was 'in collision with the rights and obligations of the subject in a limited monarchy.' So it was understood by the framers of the oath, and so it was constantly expounded from the pulpit, that a sovereign violating the laws was to be left to the punishment of heaven.

“ Let me also observe that you scarcely make sufficient allowance, in construing Mackintosh, for an unfinished fragment, which never was revised or corrected by its author, edited and continued by a person of the most opposite principles.

" It seems to me, for instance, that in the passage quoted in page 8., Mackintosh speaks only with reference to our own revolution, and does not mean to argue that the attainment of Utopian perfection of laws is a justifiable ground of waging war in subjects, but the preservation of their ancient laws and institutions from being placed on the tenure of the duration of the sovereign pleasure.

“ I do not think that, in general, persons sufficiently appreciate the just causes for alarm which existed

through the latter part of the reign of Charles II., and the whole of that of James II. It is even at the present moment, with the advantage of all that has since come to light, impossible to ascertain what the real extent of the Popish Plot was, but we cannot doubt that it was at that time universally and naturally believed. Connect that belief with the connection with France, which had even then transpired, with the new modelling the army in Ireland so as to place it in the hands of Catholics, the commencement of the same measure in England, and I think that


will be of opinion that the time for resistance was come, lest by further delay it should become impossible to resist with effect; and this, in truth, must always be the main consideration which determines the legitimate time for resistance. The highest Tory of modern days will, like Dr. Johnson, admit that, if the abuse be enormous, nature must rise up, and claiming her original rights, overturn a corrupt political system!!' but those who are more reasonable will also allow, that the breaking down the securities which we possess against enormous abuse confers the same privilege.

“ You seem to censure the popular party in the two last parliaments of Charles II., for refusing the limitations which he proposed on a Popish successor, and insisting on the Exclusion Bill. Now to me the course which they followed appears the only one which could maintain the British constitution. What would have been the consequence of enacting those limitations ? Probably that they would have been

set aside either by the King's prerogative, or by a subservient Parliament immediately on his accession. But if they had remained in force, they would have converted our ancient monarchy into a republic.

“ I have dwelt only on points on which our opinions do not exactly coincide, because, if I adverted to those infinitely more numerous on which we perfectly agree, it would occupy much more time and weary out your patience.

Believe me ever,
“ Most faithfully yours,

" C. W. WILLIAMS Wynn."

R. Plumer Ward, Esq., to the Countess of Mulgrave.

“ Okeover Hall, Jan. 26. 1841. “ My dear Sister,

“I thank you for the interest you take in my new work, which will not be out, I think, before March. I hope, and even venture to believe, that


will like it, being much less dry than the last; in fact, a regular love story, like “Tremaine;' this also, like · Tremaine,' mixed with plenty of moral dissertation. Think of a gentleman of seventy-six writing a love story! and yet I shall not be afraid to hazard it, for all Colburn's critics say it is as good as “Tremaine’and ‘De Vere.' Succeed or fail, it has already repaid me a high price in the absorbing and pleasing interest it has shed over this my last retreat, where I have so forgotten all worldly pursuits, that I never was so independent, and never more happy. To be sure I have a powerful

« ZurückWeiter »