No. 384. Wednesday, May 21, 1712. Steele.

Hague, May 24. N. S.

The same Republican Hands, who have so often since the Chevalier de St. George's Recovery killed him in our publick Prints, have now reduced the young Dauphin of France to that desperate Condition of Weakness, and Death it self, that it is hard to conjecture what Method they will take to bring him to Life again. Mean time we are assured by a very good Hand from Paris, That on the 2Oth Instant, this young Prince was as well as ever he was known to be since the Day of his Birth. As for the other, they are now sending his Ghost, we suppose, (for they never had the Modesty to contradict their Assertions of his Death) to Commerci in Lorrain, attended only by four Gentlemen, and a few Domesticks of little Consideration. The Baron de Bothmar having delivered in his Credentials to qualify him as an Ambassador to this State, (an Office to which his greatest Enemies will acknowledge him to be equal) is gone to Utrecht, whence he will proceed to Hanover, but not stay long at that Court, for fear the Peace should be made during his lamented Absence.

Post-Boy, May 20.

I should be thought not able to read, should I overlook some excellent Pieces lately come out. My Lord Bishop of St. Asaph has just now published some Sermons, the Preface to which seems to me to determine a great Point. [1]--He has, like a good Man and a good Christian, in opposition to all the Flattery and base Submission of false Friends to Princes, asserted, That Christianity left us where it found us as to our Civil Rights. The present Entertainment shall consist only of a Sentence out of the Post-Boy, and the said Preface of the Lord of St. Asaph. I should think it a little odd if the Author of the Post-Boy should with Impunity call Men Republicans for a Gladness on Report of the Death of the Pretender; and treat Baron Bothmar, the Minister of Hanover, in such a manner as you see in my Motto. I must own, I think every Man in England concerned to support the Succession of that Family.

The publishing a few Sermons, whilst I live, the latest of which was preached about eight Years since, and the first above seventeen, will make it very natural for People to enquire into the Occasion of doing so; And to such I do very willingly assign these following Reasons.

First, From the Observations I have been able to make, for these many Years last past, upon our publick Affairs, and from the natural Tendency of several Principles and Practices, that have of late been studiously revived, and from what has followed thereupon, I could not help both fearing and presaging, that these Nations would some time or other, if ever we should have an enterprising Prince upon the Throne, of more Ambition than Virtue, Justice, and true Honour, fall into the way of all other Nations, and lose their Liberty.

Nor could I help foreseeing to whose Charge a great deal of this dreadful Mischief, whenever it should happen, would be laid, whether justly or unjustly, was not my Business to determine; but I resolved for my own particular part, to deliver my self, as well as I could, from the Reproaches and the Curses of Posterity, by publickly declaring to all the World, That although in the constant Course of my Ministry, I have never failed, on proper Occasions, to recommend, urge, and insist upon the loving, honouring, and the reverencing the Prince's Person, and holding it, according to the Laws, inviolable and sacred; and paying all Obedience and Submission to the Laws, though never so hard and inconvenient to private People: Yet did I never think my self at liberty, or authorized to tell the People, that either Christ, St. Peter, or St. Paul, or any other Holy Writer, had by any Doctrine delivered by them, subverted the Laws and Constitutions of the Country in which they lived, or put them in a worse Condition, with respect to their Civil Liberties, than they would have been had they not been Christians. I ever thought it a most impious Blasphemy against that holy Religion, to father any thing upon it that might encourage Tyranny, Oppression, or Injustice in a Prince, or that easily tended to make a free and happy People Slaves and Miserable. No: People may make themselves as wretched as they will, but let not God be called into that wicked Party. When Force and Violence, and hard Necessity have brought the Yoak of Servitude upon a People's Neck, Religion will supply them with a patient and submissive Spirit under it till they can innocently shake it off; but certainly Religion never puts it on. This always was, and this at present is, my Judgment of these Matters: And I would be transmitted to Posterity (for the little Share of Time such Names as mine can live) under the Character of one who lov'd his Country, and would be thought a good Englishman, as well as a good Clergyman.

This Character I thought would be transmitted by the following Sermons, which were made for, and preached in a private Audience, when I could think of nothing else but doing my Duty on the Occasions that were then offered by God's Providence, without any manner of design of making them publick: And for that reason I give them now as they were then delivered; by which I hope to satisfie those People who have objected a Change of Principles to me, as if I were not now the same Man I formerly was. I never had but one Opinion of these Matters; and that I think is so reasonable and well-grounded, that I believe I never can have any other. Another Reason of my publishing these Sermons at this time, is, that I have a mind to do my self some Honour, by doing what Honour I could to the Memory of two most excellent Princes, and who have very highly deserved at the hands of all the People of these Dominions, who have any true Value for the Protestant Religion, and the Constitution of the English Government, of which they were the great Deliverers and Defenders. I have lived to see their illustrious Names very rudely handled, and the great Benefits they did this Nation treated slightly and contemptuously. I have lived to see our Deliverance from Arbitrary Power and Popery, traduced and vilified by some who formerly thought it was their greatest Merit, and made it part of their Boast and Glory, to have had a little hand and share in bringing it about; and others who, without it, must have liv'd in Exile, Poverty, and Misery, meanly disclaiming it, and using ill the glorious Instruments thereof. Who could expect such a Requital of such Merit? I have, I own it, an Ambition of exempting my self from the Number of unthankful People: And as I loved and honoured those great Princes living, and lamented over them when dead, so I would gladly raise them up a Monument of Praise as lasting as any thing of mine can be; and I chuse to do it at this time, when it is so unfashionable a thing to speak honourably of them.

The Sermon that was preached upon the Duke of Gloucester's Death was printed quickly after, and is now, because the Subject was so suitable, join'd to the others. The Loss of that most promising and hopeful Prince was, at that time, I saw, unspeakably great; and many Accidents since have convinced us, that it could not have been over-valued. That precious Life, had it pleased God to have prolonged it the usual Space, had saved us many Fears and Jealousies, and dark Distrusts, and prevented many Alarms, that have long kept us, and will keep us still, waking and uneasy. Nothing remained to comfort and support us under this heavy Stroke, but the Necessity it brought the King and Nation under, of settling the Succession in the House of HANNOVER, and giving it an Hereditary Right, by Act of Parliament, as long as it continues Protestant. So much good did God, in his merciful Providence, produce from a Misfortune, which we could never otherwise have sufficiently deplored.

The fourth Sermon was preached upon the Queen's Accession to the Throne, and the first Year in which that Day was solemnly observed, (for, by some Accident or other, it had been overlook'd the Year before;) and every one will see, without the date of it, that it was preached very early in this Reign, since I was able only to promise and presage its future Glories and Successes, from the good Appearances of things, and the happy Turn our Affairs began to take; and could not then count up the Victories and Triumphs that, for seven Years after, made it, in the Prophet's Language, a Name and a Praise among all the People of the Earth. Never did seven such Years together pass over the head of any English Monarch, nor cover it with so much Honour: The Crown and Sceptre seemed to be the Queen's least Ornaments; those, other Princes wore in common with her, and her great personal Virtues were the same before and since; but such was the Fame of her Administration of Affairs at home, such was the Reputation of her Wisdom and Felicity in chusing Ministers, and such was then esteemed their Faithfulness and Zeal, their Diligence and great Abilities in executing her Commands; to such a height of military Glory did her great General and her Armies carry the British Name abroad; such was the Harmony and Concord betwixt her and her Allies, and such was the Blessing of God upon all her Counsels and Undertakings, that I am as sure as History can make me, no Prince of ours was ever yet so prosperous and successful, so beloved, esteemed, and honoured by their Subjects and their Friends, nor near so formidable to their Enemies. We were, as all the World imagined then, just ent'ring on the ways that promised to lead to such a Peace, as would have answered all the Prayers of our religious Queen, the Care and Vigilance of a most able Ministry, the Payments of a willing and obedient People, as well as all the glorious Toils and Hazards of the Soldiery; when God, for our Sins, permitted the Spirit of Discord to go forth, and, by troubling sore the Camp, the City, and the Country, (and oh that it had altogether spared the Places sacred to his Worship!) to spoil, for a time, this beautiful and pleasing Prospect, and give us, in its stead, I know not what--Our Enemies will tell the rest with Pleasure. It will become me better to pray to God to restore us to the Power of obtaining such a Peace, as will be to his Glory, the Safety, Honour, and the Welfare of the Queen and her Dominions, and the general Satisfaction of all her High and Mighty Allies.

May 2, 1712.


[Footnote 1: Dr. William Fleetwood, Bishop of St. Asaph, had published Four Sermons.

  1. On the death of Queen Mary, 1694.

  2. On the death of the Duke of Gloucester, 1700.

  3. On the death of King William, 1701.

  4. On the Queen's Accession to the Throne, in 1702, with a Preface. 8vo. London, 1712.

The Preface which, says Dr. Johnson, overflowed with Whiggish principles, was ordered to be burnt by the House of Commons. This moved Steele to diffuse it by inserting it in the Spectator, which, as its author said in a letter to Burnet, conveyed about fourteen thousand copies of the condemned preface into people's hands that would otherwise have never seen or heard of it. Moreover, to ensure its delivery into the Queen's hands the publication of this number is said to have been deferred till twelve oclock, her Majesty's breakfast hour, that no time might be allowed for a decision that it should not be laid, as usual, upon her breakfast table.

Fleetwood was born in 1656; had been chaplain to King William, and in 1706 had been appointed to the Bishopric of St. Asaph without any solicitation. He was translated to Ely in 1714, and died in 1723.]

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