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648 The Church[& Kırk), RELIGIOUS MONOPOLIES. [Defoe
Gentlemen, who are making an Exclusive Company of the Church, and a Monopoly of Religion, would remember that these things are what they themselves will, one day, cast off as a deformity in practice, and a deviation from the great Rule of original Charity. But of this hereafter.
I shall end this Preface with this short remark on the Work in general. The title is, A Review of the State of the British Nation. I cannot pursue this Title, and make the outside and inside agree, unless I always plainly animadvert upon everything, on either side, which appears inconsistent with you all, as a British Nation: that is, as an united Nation.
I have been a witness to the great Transaction of the Union. I know the warmth with which England pursued it. I know the difficulty with which Scotland complied with it. I acknowledge, it lies upon England, to convince the Scots that when they opposed it, they stood in their own light, and opposed their own Wealth, Freedom, Safety and Prosperity: and this can only be done by endeavouring to assist them in Trade, encouraging them in Improvements, supporting them in their just Liberties, and taking off their ancient chains of bondage.
And if this be omitted, you must expect to be told of it, by this Author, as long as he has a tongue to speak or a hand to write, whether it shall please you, or provoke you.
The Preface to the Sixth Volume of the Review.
(1710.) Am now come to the conclusion of the Sixth Volume of this Work: though like a teeming woman, I have thought every Volume should be the last. Where it will end now, and when; God only knows ! and time only will discover. As for me, I know nothing of it!
This particular Paper, though written at
the end of the Work, carries the title of the Preface, more because it is placed by the bookseller at the frontispiece, than that is anything of an Introduction to the
D. Defoe.] Papist, JACOBITE, & High-CHURCH MADMEN. 649
Volume: for it is really written at the close of the whole, and its subject is very particular.
We have had a most distracting turbulent time for the last two months of this year, occasioned by the Prosecution and Defence of a High Flying Clergyman (Doctor SACHEVERELL) who has undertaken, in the teeth of the very Parliament, as well as of the Nation, to justify and defend the exploded ridiculous doctrine of Non-Resistance.
This Defence has been carried on with all possible heat, fury, and violence among the Party, and a strong conjunction of Papist, Jacobite, and High-Church madmen has appeared in it, which has made them seem very formidable to the World. Rabbles, tumults, plundering houses, destroying Meeting-houses; insulting Gentlemen in the streets, and honest men in their dwellings, have been the necessar appendices of this Affair.
And, after all, I must own, though the man has been condemned, his Principles censured, and his Sermon burnt ; yet it has not been without most fatal consequences over the whole nation: as it has revived the heats, feuds, and ani. mosities which were among us, and which, by the blessed example and exhortation of Her Majesty, began to be laid asleep in the nation.
I have been endeavouring to shew you the mischief of these tumults, the bloody designs of the persons that have raised them, and how they have differed from all that went before them. I have given you instances of their most villanous designs, such as rifling the Bank, demolishing the Meeting-houses, and murdering the (Dissenting] Ministers : all which they openly professed to be their design. GOD deliver this Nation from the pernicious effect of the present fermentation, which we are now generally in on all sides!
I have, however, faithfully discharged, what I thought myself obliged to, as a debt to Peace and in duty to the present Constitution, to speak plainly in these cases, whatever risk I ran, and at whatever hazard these Truths are to be told. I have not been afraid “to bear my testimony" as some call it, to the Liberties of Britain, against the reviving mischiefs of tyranny: and have, in the midst of all your mobs and rabbles, openly declared Non-Resistance to be damned by Parliament; and English (now British) Liberty 650 THE BUILDING, THE RE-EDIFIER, TIE TOPSTONE. [Defoe.
to be built upon the Foundation of the Claim of Right, and of the Revolution ; of which the Protestant Succession, which sets by, the more immediate heirs, is the great exemplication. The great King WILLIAM was the Re-edifier of the Building, the collective Body of the People were the great and happy Original, and the Union is the Topstone.
I am none of those that boast of their adventures, and love to tell long stories of the dangers they run. I am not always to be frighted with threatening letters and shams of assassinations. I ever thought those people that talk so much of killing folks, never do it! Though I am none of those you call Fighting Fellows: yet I am none of those that are afraid to see themselves die ! and I may, I hope, without being taxed with vanity, profess not to practise Non-Resistance.
I have by me, about fifteen letters, from Gentlemen of more anger than honour, who have faithfully promised me to come and kill me by such and such a day : nay, and some have descended to tell me the very manner.
Yet not one of them has been so good as his word.
Once I had the misfortune to come into a room, where five Gentlemen had been killing me a quarter of an hour in their way! and yet, to the reproach of their villanous design, as well as of their courage, durst not, all together, own it to a poor naked [unarmed] single man that gave them opportunity enough, and whom they had too much in their power. In short, I here give my testimony from my own experience, and I note it for the instruction of the five assassins above, that their Cause is villanous ! and that makes the Party cowardly. A man, that has any honour in him, is really put to more difficulty how to speak, than how to act! In the case of murders and assassinations, he is straitened between the extremes of shewing too much courage, or too much fear.
Should I tell the World the repeated cautions given me by friends, not to appear! not to walk the streets! not to shew myself ! letters sent me, to bid me remember Sir EDMUNDBURY GODFREY, JOHN Tutchin, and the like; I must talk myself up for a madman that dares go abroad! Should I let you know, how I have been three times beset, and waylaid for the mischief designed, but that still I live; you would wonder what I mean !
For my part, I firmly believe, the villains that insulted
D. Defoe.] High-FLYING, TYRANNY, BLOOD. 651
honest SUTHERLAND's house, robbed and frighted his wife, and with naked swords bullied the poor woman, threatening that they would murder her husband whenever they met him ! knew well enough he was not at home, and never will meet him when he is.
Wherefore, my brief resolution is this. I, while I live, they may be assured, I shall never desist doing my duty, in exposing the doctrines that oppose GOD and the Revolution ; such as Passive Submission to tyrants, and Non-Resistance in cases of oppression ; if the gentlemen, being at a loss for arguments, are resolved to better their cause by violence and blood, I leave the issue to GOD's Providence and must do as well with them as I can.
As to defence, I have had some thoughts to stay at home in the night, and by day to wear a piece of armour on my back. The first, because I am persuaded, these murderers will not do their work by daylight; and the second, because I firmly believe, they wil never attempt it so fairly, to my face, as to give occasion of armour anywhere else.
I confess, there may be some reasons for me to apprehend this Wicked Party, and therefore, as I thank GOD! I am without a disturbing fear, so I am not perfectly secure, or without caution. The reasons are such as these :
That truly assassination and murder is something more suitable to the High-Flying Cause, and has been more in use among their Party, than in other cases, and with other people. It is the Cause of Tyranny, and Tyranny always leads to Blood ! Oppression goes hand-in-hand with Violence; and he that would invade my Liberty, will invade my Life! as he has opportunity. And had their rabble got a little more head, we might have come again into the laudable practice of cutting of throats, and cold blood murders—and by the same rule, their downfall being so apparent, this desperate cure may be thought needful to their desperate cause.
But I cannot see, why they should be so exasperated at the poor Review, "a sorry despised Author," to use the words of one of their Party, whom nobody gives heed to.
Well, Gentlemen, then let your anger be pointed at some more significant animal, that is more capable to wound you ! And do not own this author to be so considerable as to
652 DEFOE'S SHARE OF THE HIGH-CHURCH MOB. [
engage your resentment, lest you prove the unanswerable force of what he says, by the concern you are at to suppress him. What will the World say to this way of dealing ? You should first answer the argument ! that is the best way of murdering the author! To kill him first, is to own you could not answer him. If your doctrine of Non-Resistance will subsist, if it will uphold itself! You have advantage enough; writing against it will be of no force, even the House of Commons must fall before it, for Truth will not prevail. But if not, if this author, and all that open their mouths against it, were to be sacrificed by your impious hands, Truth would never want champions to defend it against this absurd error. And killing the Review would be like cutting off the monster's head, when a hundred rise up in the room of it.
Upon these accounts, I go on perfectly easy, as to the present threats I daily meet with from this cowardly and abominable Party. If I am attacked by multitude, I must fall, as Abner fell, before wicked men. If I am fairly and honourably attacked, I hope I shall fairly resist; for I shall never practise the notion I condemn, and every honest man ought to go prepared for a villain.
This, though it is irksome to me to say, and no man that fights loves to talk of it; yet I thought it proper for me to let you all see, that I have my share of this High-Church Mob. And that whatever may happen to me, the World may know whence it comes.
I might, and ought indeed to speak a word or two to three Gentlemen, besides those mentioned before, who have been pleased personally to threaten my life—with abundance of preambles and justification of themselves about it. What I shall say to them is, I shall demonstrate my being perfectly unconcerned at the matter, by refusing the advice given me, even by their own friends, of binding them to the peace. It seems a little unnatural to me, and what I shall never practise, to go to law with a man for beating me, much less for threatening me: and least of all, when the persons are such harmless creatures as these! Wherefore, all the Answer I shall give them is this, with the utmost contempt of their folly, The cur that barks is not the cur that bites !
These things regard particular men, and I know, the