|Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916.|
Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
|Upon Political Jealousies|
|By Benjamin Hoadly (16761761)|
From Letters signed Britannicus
THE MISERY of it is, that men, in their reproaches upon others, are very apt to forget the condition they themselves are in. It is not only he that is a tool, who blindly does what he is directed to do, either by a courtier or an anti-courtier: but every man is a tool likewise, who is a slave to his own passion, ill-nature, discontent, personal resentment, ambition, pride, or to any distemper of mind, which is his master, and leads and governs him in all he does. There may be tools to these dispositions within men, as well as to courts, or leaders of parties, without them: and these are as dangerous tools to the public, as well as infamous in themselves, as any of the other sort can possibly be. For these, and the like distempers of mind, are of that force, that they can absolutely hinder men from at all regarding, or even seeing, what is the interest of the public; nay, can make them take those good words in their mouths, to carry on those purposes of their hearts, in which the love of their country, the very essence of patriotism, has but little part. Yet, how common as well as pleasant is it, to see the tool of passion insulting over the tool (as he calls him) of a court; and the man whose public spirit bears date from some known points of disappointment and anger, exalting himself above the other; appropriating to himself the name of patriot, and setting himself out as the very pattern of all patriotism: whilst he either does not feel the bias which his own resentment struck upon his soul; or hopes that it may be hid from all other eyes, and the view or remembrance of it lost in that cloud of smoke and dust which he raises all around him. But if many of the strongest oppositions have been manifestly begun upon these principles, and are always, in part, carried on upon them; there is but little reason for those to be casting the infamous name of tools in the teeth of others, who may find so much place for it amongst themselves. All this is no argument (nor is it so designed) to any one, against being always upon his guard, or for a blind compliance with any ministry: but it may, and ought to show us effectually, that virtue and public-spiritedness are not necessarily there, where the noise of them is most heard; and that true patriotism does not depend upon names and sounds; but often is not where it is most pretended to be; and as often is, where the prejudices of men, and their mistaken notions of things, will not allow us to suppose it so much as possible to be.