And by decision more embroiled the fray’?
Should Uniformity have the same pedigree, Malachi Malagrowther proclaims her ‘a hawk of a very bad nest.’
The universal opinion of a whole kingdom, founded upon a century’s experience, ought not to be lightly considered as founded in ignorance and prejudice. I am something of an agriculturist; and in travelling through the country I have often had occasion to wonder that the inhabitants of particular districts had not adopted certain obvious improvements in cultivation. But, upon inquiry, I have usually found out that appearances had deceived me, and that I had not reckoned on particular local circumstances, which either prevented the execution of the system I should have theoretically recommended, or rendered some other more advantageous in the particular circumstances.
I do not therefore resist theoretical innovation in general; I only humbly desire it may not outrun the suggestions arising from the experience of ages. I would have the necessity felt and acknowledged before old institutions are demolished—the evident utility of every alteration demonstrated before it is adopted upon mere speculation. I submit our ancient system to the primary knife of the legislature, but would not willingly see our reformers employ a weapon, which, like the sword of Jack the Giant-Killer, cuts before the point.
It is always to be considered, that in human affairs, the very best imaginable result is seldom to be obtained, and that it is wise to content ourselves with the best which can be got. This principle speaks with a voice of thunder against violent innovation, for the sake of possible improvement, where things are already well. We ought not to desire better bread than is made of wheat. Our Scotch proverb warns us to Let weel bide; and all the world has heard of the untranslatable Italian epitaph upon the man, who died of taking physic to make him better, when he was already in health.—I am, Mr. Journalist, yours,
Since writing these hasty thoughts, I hear it reported that we are to have an extension of our precarious reprieve, and that our six months are to be extended to six years. I would not have Scotland trust to this hollow truce. The measure ought, like all others, to be canvassed on its merits, and frankly admitted or rejected; it has been stirred and ought to be decided. I request my countrymen not to be soothed into inactivity by that temporising, and, I will say, unmanly vacillation. Government is pledged to nothing by taking an open course; for if the bill, so far as applicable to Scotland, is at present absolutely laid aside, there can be no objection to their resuming it at any period, when from change of circumstances, it may be advantageous to Scotland, and when, for what I know, it may be welcomed as a boon.