Page:Omniana.djvu/172

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154
OMNIANA.

when the new standard was first hoisted on board the Royal William at Spithead, after the Union with Ireland. A gale of wind blew it from the mast-head, and the flag was lost. It was said, that when her sheet-anchor was weighed after the gale, the flag was found twined round its flukes. This was a pious fraud: they who invented it, endeavoured to counteract a superstition in others, which they were conscious of in themselves.

These omens, which are not generally known, deserve to be recorded; the first because it has been fulfilled, the second because it will not be. The winds may do their will with the standard of Great Britain, but it is safe from the power of man.

Statesmen have derided omens; but they do not deserve to be derided; for popular feeling is sometimes a barometer which perceives the change of atmosphere before it is visible. An historian, therefore, ought not to discard them.