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I am astonished, therefore, to find that any one can express the least dissatisfaction at it; nor can account for such a behaviour any other way, than that, expecting a great number of holidays, and consequently fresh matter of discourse for a long time after they were over, is such a disappointment as you cannot brook without chagrin.
Strange, unnatural propensity!-I am loth to say what such a disposition resembles; but what it does not, even the meanest and most illiterate among you is not so ignorant as not to know, how much soever you may attempt to palliate it.
Mercy, you confess yourselves, is the darling attribute of heaven; and if the king, heaven's delegate, and who, it must also be acknowledged, had much more reason to be offended than any of his subjects can pretend to be; if he, I say, discovered an inclination to extend it, I cannot help being of opinion, that it was a presumption, both to heaven and to the king, to urge too much on the side of justice; as by the same parity of reason, it would be equally unjustifiable in any one to entertain a hard thought of his majesty for refusing clemency in some The law, it is true, condemns; but it is the king's undoubted prerogative to save, and indeed the richest jewel in his crown. The
author of Hudibras was a man of great humour, but his sentiments were always allowed to be extreměly just, as well as elegant, whenever he has a mind to be serious: what he delivers on the subject now upon the tapis, are not, I think, less so than any in his poem; for which reason I take the liberty to repeat them.
The laws that are inanimate,
And feel no sense of love or hate,
I observe, however, and with very great pleaşure, that the noble and genteel part of the town are far from being so rigid: many of the former have used their utmost endeavours to excite that compassion which has since been found; and a great number of the latter testify their satisfaction at its being accomplished. It is only your little authors, hackneys for the publishers of newspapers, who by their writings would fain influence the low and unthinking part of their readers, to imagine that his majesty does an in
jury both to himself and people, in pardoning even any one of those who have been led astray from their duty, however the circumstances which induced them to it either really are, or may have been, represented to him.
These remonstrances, as well as the papers they contribute to the filling up, will soon be buried in oblivion; but if they should have any weight, as I hope they never will, I could wish they might be immortalized to the shame and confusion of the authors; since I can never be brought to believe they write in this manner, inspired by any true affection to his majesty's person or government; but rather that so unseasonable a zeal is calculated to serve purposes, neither for the glory of the one, or true interest of the other.
The number, however, of those who preach this doctrine of severe justice, is but small, to those who are unwarily seduced by it. To them I therefore speak at this time, and should think myself happy if I could prevail on them to see the fallacy of it.
I would not have you imagine, that, because I have mentioned those who have been convicted of high treason, I mean to particularize them as the most proper objects of compassion: no, I abhor, equally with yourselves, a crime of
so black and heinous a nature: it was only as at present they engross the attention of the town (and places were advertised to be let out to such as were desirous of beholding the execution, and were actually hired for that purpose by some persons whom it would better have become to have employed their time and money in a different manner), that I took the liberty of expressing my sentiments of the matter; for, in truth, it is not the fate of the guilty, but the humour of such who testify an impatience and kind of fondness for being eye-witnesses of it, that gives me the most concern. The meanest and most common malefactors, who are condemned every sessions, are yet your fellowcreatures,, have the same share in futurity with yourselves; and that depravity of human nature which has brought them to so sad an end, should, methinks, rather excite in you emotions of shame and sorrow, than any of a contrary
It is not therefore this person, nor that crime, be the one never so dangerous, or the other never so detestable, that, according to my way of thinking, can excuse beholding the punishment with any sort of pleasure, or even with indifference. Besides, as I believe there is no one so wholly void of natural affection, as to be a wil-.
ling spectator of any of his kindred's fate in this manner, though never so justly incurred; the running to behold that of others, denotes such a selfishness, such an unconcern for every body in whose life or honour you have no immediate interest, as you ought, methinks, to be ashamed of testifying; and would take off great part of the pity all calamities have a right to claim, should any person of this stamp meet with the same incident that one, who took too much delight in such shows, did a few years ago.
A poor labouring man in the west of Eng land had a son, who, when he came to be about eleven or twelve years of age, discovered a quickness of apprehension and ready wit beyond what could be expected in a boy that had never been at any school, and could neither write nor read: the smart answers he gave whenever he was asked any questions, and many things were told of him, made him be taken notice of by a neighbouring gentleman of a good estate, who, when he saw him with his father in the field, would often call to him and talk to him.
This worthy person thought it a pity that a lad of so good a capacity should be brought up to follow the plough; he therefore took him from his father, clothed him in clean, decent