Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Vindication Of The Licensers Of The Stage
by [?]

[A complete vindication of the licensers of the stage from the malicious and scandalous aspersions of Mr. Brooke, author of Gustavus Vasa; with a proposal for making the office of licenser more extensive and effectual.]

BY AN IMPARTIAL HAND.[A]

It is generally agreed by the writers of all parties, that few crimes are equal, in their degree of guilt, to that of calumniating a good and gentle, or defending a wicked and oppressive administration.

It is, therefore, with the utmost satisfaction of mind, that I reflect how often I have employed my pen in vindication of the present ministry, and their dependants and adherents; how often I have detected the specious fallacies of the advocates for independence; how often I have softened the obstinacy of patriotism; and how often triumphed over the clamour of opposition.

I have, indeed, observed but one set of men, upon whom all my arguments have been thrown away; whom neither flattery can draw to compliance, nor threats reduce to submission; and who have, notwithstanding all expedients that either invention or experience could suggest, continued to exert their abilities in a vigorous and constant opposition of all our measures.

The unaccountable behaviour of these men, the enthusiastick resolution with which, after a hundred successive defeats, they still renewed their attacks; the spirit with which they continued to repeat their arguments in the senate, though they found a majority determined to condemn them; and the inflexibility with which they rejected all offers of places and preferments, at last excited my curiosity so far, that I applied myself to inquire, with great diligence, into the real motives of their conduct, and to discover what principle it was that had force to inspire such unextinguishable zeal, and to animate such unwearied efforts.

For this reason I attempted to cultivate a nearer acquaintance with some of the chiefs of that party, and imagined that it would be necessary, for some time, to dissemble my sentiments, that I might learn theirs.

Dissimulation, to a true politician, is not difficult, and, therefore, I readily assumed the character of a proselyte; but found, that their principle of action was no other, than that which they make no scruple of avowing in the most publick manner, notwithstanding the contempt and ridicule to which it every day exposes them, and the loss of those honours and profits from which it excludes them.

This wild passion, or principle, is a kind of fanaticism by which they distinguish those of their own party, and which they look upon as a certain indication of a great mind. We have no name for it at court; but, among themselves, they term it by a kind of cant phrase, “a regard for posterity.”

This passion seems to predominate in all their conduct, to regulate every action of their lives, and sentiment of their minds: I have heard L—- and P—- [2], when they have made a vigorous opposition, or blasted the blossom of some ministerial scheme, cry out, in the height of their exultations, “This will deserve the thanks of posterity!” And when their adversaries, as it much more frequently falls out, have outnumbered and overthrown them, they will say, with an air of revenge and a kind of gloomy triumph, “Posterity will curse you for this.”

It is common among men, under the influence of any kind of phrensy, to believe that all the world has the same odd notions that disorder their own imaginations. Did these unhappy men, these deluded patriots, know how little we are concerned about posterity, they would never attempt to fright us with their curses, or tempt us to a neglect of our own interest by a prospect of their gratitude.

But so strong is their infatuation, that they seem to have forgotten even the primary law of self-preservation; for they sacrifice, without scruple, every flattering hope, every darling enjoyment, and every satisfaction of life, to this ruling passion, and appear, in every step, to consult not so much their own advantage, as that of posterity.