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1808.

LONDON:

PRINTED BY J. M'CREERY, FLEET-STREET,

FOR T. CADELL, AND W. DAVIES, STRAND.

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PREFACE.

THAT the exercise of private judg
ment, and the privilege of expressing that
judgment on public men and public mea-
sures, are inseparable from the nature, and
indispensible to the continuance of our free
constitution, few persons will be found
hardy enough to deny. Without the ex-
ercise of this right, we should, as Britons,
have nothing to contend for, and might
be properly classed with the most oppressed
vassals on the continent, under either their
former or their present tyrants. If this be
the fact, it will follow, as an unavoidable
consequence, that the more critical and ha-
zardous the situation of the country is, the
more necessary is it that such a right should
be freely and fearlessly exercised. To what
purpose would it be that the people should
enjoy such a privilege, a privilege not
granted to them, but retained by them in the

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very principle of their political union, and never relinquished even in the worst of times, if, at the very season when the use of it is of the most vital importance, its exercise should be discountenanced, or its existence denied? So far, however, is this from being admissible, that the necessity of the public attention increases with the increase of the public dangers; and that manifestation of opinion which in times of security and repose may be a matter of indifference, becomes, in situations of hazard, a matter of duty.

It ought however to be fully understood, that notwithstanding the people may differ in opinion as to the nature or expediency of a war, yet, in all measures that are calculated for the defence of the country and the effectual carrying on of that war, they must chearfully and unanimously concur. But although this be our first and most indispensible duty, it is not the whole of our duty. To presume it to be so, would be to reduce mankind to the level of brutes, that know no termination of their violence but in their mutual destruction. War, amongst civilized nations, can only be justified when it becomes the sole means of providing for the general safety, and of securing a just and

honourable peace. At what period the opportunity of accomplishing this may occur, is a question on which the sovereign is to decide; but upon which the people, as on all other subjects of government, have a right to express their opinion. On this point considerate persons may differ, not only according to their different talents, temper, and interests, but according to the different degree of information which they may have been able to obtain; and hence it must happen, that discussions on the subject of peace are the continual concomitants of a state of warfare.

Such appear to be the sacred rights to which, as subjects of a free state and a limited monarchy, we are indisputably entitled, and such the precautions and boundaries within which the exercise of that right ought to be confined. This however opens a field sufficiently large for the exercise of the greatest talents. In contemplating the history of past ages, we are attracted by the feelings common to all our kind. Man, in every situation and at every period, is, to man, an interesting object of inquiry. But in the events of the present day, we feel a much

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