If I consulted my reputation as ’a writer, which your lordship’s partiality is so kind as to allot me, I should wait a few days till my granary is fuller of stock, which probably it would be by the end of next week; but, in truth, I had rather be a grateful, and consequently a punctual correspondent, than an ingenious one; as I value the honour of your lordship’s friendship more than such tinsel bits of fame as can fall to my share, and of which I am particularly sick at present, as the Public Advertiser dressed me out t’other day with a heap of that dross which he had pillaged from some other strolling playwrights, who I did not desire should be plundered for me.
Indeed, when the Parliament does meet, I doubt, nay hope, it will make less sensation than usual. The orators of Dublin have brought the flowers of Billingsgate to so high perfection, that ours comparatively will have no more scent than a dead dandelion. If your lordship has not seen the speeches of Mr. Flood and Mr. Grattan,(511) you may perhaps still think that our oyster-women can be more abusive than members of parliament. Since I began my letter, I hear that the meeting of the delegates from the Volunteers is adjourned to the first of February.(512) This seems a very favourable circumstance. I don’t like a reformation begun by a Popish army! Indeed, I did hope that peace would bring us peace, at least not more than the discords incidental to a free ,government: but we seem not to have attained that era yet! I hope it will arrive, though I may not see it. I shall not easily believe that any radical alteration of a constitution that preserved us so long, and carried us to so great a height, will recover our affairs. There is a wide difference between correcting abuses and removing landmarks. Nobody disliked more than I the strides that were attempted towards increasing the prerogative; but as the excellence of our constitution, above all others, consists in the balance established between the three powers of King, Lords, and Commons, I wish to see that equilibrium preserved. No single man, nor any private junta, has a right to dictate laws to all three. In Ireland, truly,’ a still worse spirit I apprehend to be at bottom; in short, it is frenzy or folly to suppose that an army composed of three parts of Catholics can be intended for any good purposes.
These are my sentiments, my dear lord, and, you know, very disinterested. For myself, I have nothing to wish but ease and tranquillity for the rest of my time. I have no enmities to avenge. I do hope the present administration will last, as I believe there are more honest men in it than in any set that could replace them, though I have not a grain of partiality more than I had for their associates. Mr. Fox I think by far the ablest and soundest head in England, and am persuaded that the more he is tried the greater man he will appear.