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to higher scenes than these-conduct him to his seat in parliament, and describe his behaviour in the councils of his country.
He lived in the crisis of honesty, when, as Sir William Temple well expressed it, a brave man had a hard part to act, and it was dishonourable at Court to have truth and integrity. He lived when party rage and priestly pride ran high: when the church was in danger, and the rabble were
Great Socrates but vainly try'd,
orthodox: when religious mobbings and factious incendiaries laboured to overthrow the constitution, and prevailed against an Administration, great in their abilities and uncommon success; a Ministry the boast of our nation, the glory of their own times, and the veneration of these. Nor did the faction stop at this; they even shocked the fucceffion itself; and that illustrious Family, now on our throne, had a doubtful
prospect whilst we were so divided a people.
The widow, pining for her dear,
And here the worthy person, to whom we pay deferved honours, rose with noble courage in that dangerous conjuncture: he thought inactivity infamous whilst all was at stake; and his private interest was below his regard, when his country's happiness became precarious : he did not, like little temporizing patriots, stay till his place was taken from him, he bravely resigned it before he commenced his opposition ; and his Letter to the then Lord Treasurer, since pub. lished to the world *, may thew how much he disdained any interest which might biass his judgement, or pervert his duty to the publick.
And her cold alhes kindly place
The ladies, pleas’d with thee to dwell,
Maintain, great Sage, thy deathless name,
In this proceeding he acted worthy of himself; he spoke in parliament, and appeared from the press, with a warm and generous freedom : he differed from those in authority, without libelling their persons; no scandalous parallels, no ungentlemanlike invectives, or womanish railings, are to be found in his writings: he spoke to facts, and things of public concern; nor invented, nor revived any little stories to blacken the reputation of others : in short, he was at war with no man's fortunes or places; and he greatly despised all lucrative considerations.
Add this to his character, he had an enthusiasm of honour, insomuch, that he was always most ready to appear for the truth when it was most difficult and dangerous : he thought himself obliged to stand in the breach when no man else would; and his intrepidity was a public advantage.
Witness his memorable Address to the Clergy in defence of the Revolution *; I mean his
Crisis," for which he was immortalized by the resentment of his enemies, and by the noble stand he made against them in his brave defence: For this he was expelled the House of Commons, whilst he triumphed in the judgement of his country; and raised such a spirit in the people by his writings, as greatly contributed to
* See p. 390.
save our declining liberties, and establish the precarious succession.
Such was his conduct, such his character, which was invariably honest; he flattered not his friends in their power, nor insulted his enemies in their distress: he opposed any measures which he could not approve, and exactly adhered to that excellent sentence, fari quæ fentiat.
This, indeed, was his principle ; and if ever man always acted inviolably by his opinion, or dared to preserve his integrity upon all occafions, Sir Richard Steele was the person.
And here we leave our common friend, here we drop the sacred pall on his last remains. It is not our business to shew his foibles, or expose the blemishes of an excellent nian to whoni we owe so much; those who loved him less will be fond of this : but we have pronounced his elogium, and . honoured his virtues. Let his warm heart for liberty and virtue, his great benevolence, that never saw distress without compassion, or spared to lend his hand when he could give affiftance—Let these engage our attention, and become our great example. Vice and Folly are always to be lamented; we heartily with them out of the world, and can have no delight to lay them to the charge of our departed friends, whose actions should only survive them whilst they may influence posterity in the pursuits of Virtue.