Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
Truth and Trimmers
By George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (16331695)
From The Character of a Trimmer
OUR Trimmer adores the Goddess Truth, tho in all ages she has been scurvily used, as well as those that worshipped her. Tis of late become such a ruining virtue, that mankind seems to be agreed to commend and avoid it; yet the want of practice, which repeals the other laws, has no influence upon the law of Truth, because it has root in heaven, and an intrinsic value in itself that can never be impaired: she shows her greatness in this, that her enemies, even when they are successful, are ashamed to own it. Nothing but power full of truth has the prerogative of triumphing, not only after victories, but in spite of them, and to put conquest herself out of countenance. She may be kept under and suppressed, but her dignity still remains with her, even when she is in chains. Falsehood, with all her impudence, has not enough to speak ill of her before her face; such majesty she carries about her, that her most prosperous enemies are fain to whisper their treason; all the power upon the earth can never extinguish her; she has lived in all ages; and let the mistaken zeal of prevailing authority christen any opposition to it with what name they please, she makes it not only an ugly and an unmannerly, but a dangerous thing to persist. She has lived very retired indeed, nay, sometimes so buried, that only some few of the discerning parts of mankind could have a glimpse of her; with all that, she has eternity in her, she knows not how to die, and from the darkest clouds that shade and cover her, she breaks from time to time with triumph for her friends, and terror to her enemies.
Our Trimmer, therefore, inspired by this divine virtue, thinks fit to conclude with these assertions: that our climate is a Trimmer, between that part of the world where men are roasted, and the other where they are frozen; that our church is a Trimmer, between the phrenzy of Platonic visions, and the lethargic ignorance of popish dreams; that our laws are Trimmers, between the excess of unbounded power, and the extravagance of liberty not enough restrained; that true virtue has ever been thought a Trimmer, and to have its dwelling in the middle between the two extremes; that even God Almighty Himself is divided between His two great attributes, His mercy and His justice.