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No. 384 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

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.]