The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 3/The Examiner
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 1710.
—— longa est injuria, longæ
Ambages; sed summa sequar fastigia rerum.
The tale is intricate, perplex'd, and long:
Hear then, in short, the story of her wrong.
IT is a practice I have generally followed, to converse in equal freedom with the deserving men of both parties; and it was never without some contempt, that I have observed persons wholly out of employment, affect to do otherwise. I doubted, whether any man could owe so much to the side he was of, although he were retained by it; but without some great point of interest, either in possession or prospect, I thought it was the mark of a low and narrow spirit.
It is hard that for some weeks past, I have been forced, in my own defence, to follow a proceeding that I have so much condemned in others. But several of my acquaintance among the declining party, are grown so insufferably peevish and splenetic, profess such violent apprehensions for the publick, and represent the state of things in such formidable ideas, that I find myself disposed to share in their afflictions; although I know them to be groundless and imaginary, or, which is worse, purely affected. To offer them comfort one by one, would be not only an endless, but a disobliging task. Some of them, I am convinced, would be less melancholy, if there were more occasion. I shall therefore, instead of hearkening to farther complaints, employ some part of this paper for the future, in letting such men see, that their natural, or acquired fears, are ill-founded, and their artificial ones, as ill-intended; that all our present inconveniences, are the consequence of the very counsels they so much admire, which would still have increased, if those had continued; and that neither our constitution in church or state, could probably have been long preserved, without such methods, as have been already taken.
The late revolutions at court, have given room to some specious objections, which I have heard repeated by well-meaning men, just as they had taken them up on the credit of others, who have worse designs. They wonder, the Queen would choose to change her ministry at this juncture, and thereby give uneasiness to a general, who hath been so long successful abroad, and might think himself injured, if the entire ministry were not of his own nomination; that there were few complaints of any consequence against the late men in power, and none at all in parliament, which, on the contrary, passed votes in favour of the chief minister; that if her majesty had a mind to introduce the other party, it would have been more seasonable after a peace, which now we have made desperate, by spiriting the French, who rejoice in these changes, and by the fall of our credit, which unqualifies us for carrying on the war; that the parliament, so untimely dissolved, had been diligent in their supplies, and dutiful in their behaviour; that one consequence of these changes appears already, in the fall of the stocks; that we may soon expect more and worse; and lastly, that all this naturally tends to break the settlement of the crown, and call over the Pretender.
These, and the like notions, are plentifully scattered abroad by the malice of a ruined party, to render the Queen and her administration odious, and to inflame the nation. And these are what, upon occasion, I shall endeavour to overthrow, by discovering the falshood and absurdity of them.
It is a great unhappiness when, in a government constituted like ours, it should be so brought about, that the continuance of a war must be for the interest of vast numbers (civil, as well as military) who otherwise would have been as unknown as their original. I think our present condition of affairs is admirably described by two verses in Lucan:
Hinc usura vorax, avidumque in tempore fœnus,
Hinc concussa fides, et multis utile bellum:
which, without any great force upon the words, may be thus translated:
Hence, are derived those exorbitant interests and annuities; hence, those large discounts for advance and prompt payment; hence, publick credit is shaken; and hence, great numbers find their profit in prolonging the war.
It is odd, that among a free trading people, as we call ourselves, there should so many be found to close in with those counsels, who have been ever averse from all overtures towards a peace: but yet there is no great mystery in the matter. Let any man observe the equipages in this town, he shall find the greater number of those who make a figure, to be a species of men quite different from any that were ever known before the Revolution; consisting either of generals and colonels, or of those, whose whole fortunes lie in funds and stocks; so that power, which according to the old maxim was used to follow land, is now gone over to money; and the country gentleman is in the condition of a young heir, out of whose estate a scrivener receives half the rents for interest, and has a mortgage on the whole; and is therefore always ready to feed his vices and extravagances, while there is any thing left. So that, if the war continue some years longer, a landed man will be little better than a farmer of a rack-rent to the army, and to the public funds.
It may perhaps be worth inquiring, from what beginnings, and by what steps, we have been brought into this desperate condition: and in search of this, we must run up as high as the Revolution.
Most of the nobility and gentry, who invited over the prince of Orange, or attended him in his expedition, were true lovers of their country, and its constitution in church and state; and were brought to yield to those breaches in the succession of the crown, out of a regard to the necessity of the kingdom, and the safety of the people, which did, and could only, make them lawful; but without intention of drawing such a practice into precedent, or making it a standing measure by which to proceed in all times to come: and therefore we find their counsels ever tended to keep things, as much as possible, in the old course. But soon after an under set of men, who had nothing to lose, and had neither born the burden nor heat of the day, found means to whisper in the king's ear, that the principles of loyalty in the church of England, were wholly inconsistent with the Revolution. Hence began the early practice of caressing the dissenters, reviling the universities, as maintainers of arbitrary power, and reproaching the clergy with the doctrines of divine right, passive obedience, and non-resistance. At the same time, in order to fasten wealthy people to the new government, they proposed those pernicious expedients of borrowing money by vast premiums, and at extortionate interest: a practice as old as Eumenes, one of Alexander's captains, who, setting up for himself after the death of his master, persuaded his principal officers to lend him great sums, after which they were forced to follow him for their own security.
This introduced a number of new dextrous men into business and credit. It was argued, that the war could not last above two or three campaigns; and that it was easier for the subjects to raise a fund for paying interest, than to tax them annually to the full expense of the war. Several persons, who had small or encumbered estates, sold them, and turned their money into those funds, to great advantage: merchants, as well as other monied men, finding trade was dangerous, pursued the same method. But the war continuing, and growing more expensive, taxes were increased, and funds multiplied every year, till they have arrived at the monstrous height we now behold them; and that, which was at first a corruption, is at last grown necessary, and what every good subject must now fall in with, although he may be allowed to wish it might soon have an end; because it is with a kingdom, as with a private fortune, where every new incumbrance adds a double weight. By this means the wealth of a nation, that used to be reckoned by the value of land, is now computed by the rise and fall of stocks: and although the foundation of credit be still the same, and upon a bottom that can never be shaken, and although all interest be duly paid by the publick; yet, through the contrivance and cunning of stock-jobbers, there has been brought in such a complication of knavery and cozenage, such a mystery of iniquity, and such an unintelligible jargon of terms to involve it in, as were never known in any other age or country in the world. I have heard it affirmed, by persons skilled in these calculations, that if the funds appropriated to the payment of interest and annuities, were added to the yearly taxes, and the four-shilling aid strictly exacted in all counties of the kingdom, it would very near, if not fully, supply the occasions of the war, at least such a part as, in the opinion of very able persons, had been at that time prudent not to exceed. For I make it a question, whether any wise prince or state, in the continuance of a war, which was not purely defensive, or immediately at his own door, did ever propose that his expense should perpetually exceed, what he was able to impose annually upon his subjects. Neither, if the war last many years longer, do I see how the next generation will be able to begin another; which, in the course of human affairs, and according to the various interests and ambition of princes, may be as necessary for them, as it has been for us. And if our fathers had left us deeply involved, as we are likely to leave our children, I appeal to any man, what sort of figure we should have been able to make these twenty years past. Besides, neither our enemies, nor allies, are upon the same foot with us in this particular. France and Holland, our nearest neighbours, and the farthest engaged, will much sooner recover themselves after a war: the first, by the absolute power of the prince, who, being master of the lives and fortunes of his subjects, will quickly find expedients to pay his debts; and so will the other, by their prudent administration, the greatness of their trade, their wonderful parsimony, the willingness of their people to undergo all kind of taxes, and their justice in applying, as well as collecting them. But above all we are to consider, that France and Holland fight on the continent, either upon or near their own territories, and the greatest part of the money circulates among themselves; whereas ours crosses the sea, either to Flanders, Spain, or Portugal; and every penny of it, whether in species or returns, is so much lost to the nation for ever.
Upon these considerations alone, it was the most prudent course imaginable in the Queen, to lay hold of the disposition of the people for changing the parliamient and ministry at this juncture, and extricating herself as soon as possible out of the pupillage of those, who found their accounts only in perpetuating the war. Neither have we the least reason to doubt, but the ensuing parliament will assist her Majesty with the utmost vigour, until her enemies again be brought to sue for peace, and again offer such terms as will make it both honourable and lasting; only with this difference, that the ministry perhaps will not again refuse them.
Audiet pugnas, vitio parentum
Rara, Juventus.Hor. Book I. Ode 2.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1710.
E quibus hi vacuas implent sermonibus aures,
Hi narrata ferunt alio: mensuraque sicti
Crescit, et auditis aliquid novus adjicit autor.
Illic Credulitas, illic temerarius Error,
Vanaque Lætitia est, consternatique Timores,
Sedilioque recens, dubioque autore Susurri.
With idle tales this fills our empty ears;
The next reports what from the first he hears;
The rolling fictions grow in strength and size,
Each Author adding to the former lies.
Here vain credulity, with new desires,
Leads us astray, and groandless joy inspires,
The dubious whispers, tumults fresh design'd,
And chilling fears astound the anxious mind.
I AM prevailed on, through the importunity of friends, to interrupt the scheme I had begun in my last paper, by an Essay upon the Art of Political Lying. We are told the devil is the father of lies, and was a liar from the beginning; so that beyond contradiction the invention is old: and, which is more, his first Essay of it was purely political, employed in undermining the authority of his prince, and seducing a third part of the subjects from their obedience; for which he was driven down from Heaven, where (as Milton expresses it) he had been viceroy of a great western province; and forced to exercise his talent in inferiour regions among other fallen spirits, poor or deluded men, whom he still daily tempts to his own sin, and will ever do so, till he be chained in the bottomless pit.
But although the devil be the father of lies, he seems, like other great inventors, to have lost much of his reputation, by the continual improvements that have been made upon him.
Who first reduced lying into an art, and adapted it to politicks, is not so clear from history; although I have made some diligent inquiries. I shall therefore consider it only according to the modern system, as it has been cultivated these twenty years past in the southern part of our own island.
The poets tell us, that after the giants were overthrown by the gods, the earth in revenge produced her last offspring, which was Fame. And the fable is thus interpreted: that when tumults and seditions are quieted, rumours and false reports are plentifully spread through a nation. So that, by this account, lying is the last rellef of a routed, earth-born, rebellious party in a state. But here the moderns have made great additions, applying this art to the gaining of power and preserving it, as well as revenging themselves after they have loft it; as the same instruments are made use of by animals, to feed themselves when they are hungry, and to bite those that tread upon them.
But the same genealogy cannot always be admitted for political lying; I shall therefore desire to refine upon it, by adding some circumstances of its birth and parents. A political lie is sometimes born out of a discarded statesman's head, and thence delivered to be nursed and dandled by the rabble. Sometimes it is produced a monster, and licked into shape: at other times it comes into the world completely formed, and is spoiled in the licking. It is often born an infant in the regular way, and requires time to mature it; and often it sees the light in its full growth, but dwindles away by degrees. Sometimes it is of noble birth; and sometimes the spawn of a stock-jobber. Here it screams aloud at the opening of the womb; and there it is delivered with a whisper. I know a lie, that now disturbs half the kingdom with its noise, which, although too proud and great at present to own its parents, I can remember its whisperhood. To conclude the nativity of this monster; when it comes into the world without a sting, it is still-born; and whenever it loses its sting, it dies.
No wonder if an infant so miraculous in its birth, should be destined for great adventures; and accordingly we see it has been the guardian spirit of a prevailing party, for almost twenty years. It can conquer kingdoms without fighting, and sometimes with the loss of a battle. It gives and resumes employments; can sink a mountain to a mole-hill, and raise a mole-hill to a mountain: has presided for many years at committees of elections; can wash a blackmoor white; make a saint of an atheist, and a patriot of a profligate; can furnish foreign ministers with intelligence, and raise or let fall the credit of the nation. This goddess flies with a huge looking-glass in her hands, to dazzle the crowd, and make them see, according as she turns it, their ruin in their interest, and their interest in their ruin. In this glass you will behold your best friends, clad in coats powdered with fleurs de lis, and triple crowns; their girdles hung round with chains, and beads, and wooden shoes; and your worst enemies, adorned with the ensigns of liberty, property, indulgence, moderation, and a cornucopia in their hands. Her large wings, like those of a flying fish, are of no use but while they are moist; she therefore dips them in mud, and soaring aloft scatters it in the eyes of the multitude, flying with great swiftness; but at every turn is forced to stoop in dirty ways for new supplies.
I have been sometimes thinking, if a man had the art of the second sight for seeing lies, as they have in Scotland for seeing spirits, how admirably he might entertain himself in this town, by observing the different shapes, sizes, and colours of those swarms of lies, which buzz about the heads of some people, like flies about a horse's ears in summer; or those legions hovering every afternoon in Exchange-alley, enough to darken the air; or over a club of discontented grandees, and thence sent down in cargoes to be scattered at elections.
There is one essential point, wherein a political liar differs from others of the faculty; that he ought to have but a short memory, which is necessary, according to the various occasions he meets with every hour of differing from himself, and swearing to both sides of a contradiction, as he finds the persons disposed with whom he has to deal. In describing the virtues and vices of mankind, it is convenient, upon every article, to have some eminent person in our eye, from whom we copy our description. I have strictly observed this rule; and my imagination this minute represents before me a certain great man famous for this talent, to the constant practice of which, he owes his twenty years reputation of the most skilful head in England, for the management of nice affairs. The superiority of his genius consists in nothing else, but an inexhaustible fund of political lies, which he plentifully distributes every minute he speaks, and by an unparalleled generosity forgets, and consequently contradicts, the next half hour. He never yet considered, whether any proposition were true or false, but whether it were convenient for the present minute or company, to affirm or deny it; so that if you think fit to refine upon him, by interpreting every thing he says, as we do dreams, by the contrary, you are still to seek, and will find yourself equally deceived whether you believe or not: the only remedy is to suppose, that you have heard some inarticulate sounds, without any meaning at all; and besides, that will take off the horrour you might be apt to conceive at the oaths, wherewith he perpetually tags both ends of every proposition; although at the same time, I think, he cannot with any justice be taxed with perjury, when he invokes God and Christ; because he has often fairly given public notice to the world, that he believes in neither.
Some people may think, that such an accomplishment as this, can be of no great use to the owner, or his party, after it has been often practised and is become notorious; but they are widely mistaken. Few lies carry the inventor's mark, and the most prostitute enemy to truth, may spread a thousand without being known for the author: besides, as the vilest writer has his readers, so the greatest liar has his believers: and it often happens, that if a lie be believed only for an hour, it has done its work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falshood flies, and truth comes limping after it; so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale has had its effect: like a man, who has thought of a good repartee, when the discourse is changed, or the company parted; or like a physician, who has found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead.
Considering that natural disposition in many men to lie, and in multitudes to believe, I have been perplexed what to do with that maxim so frequent in every body's mouth; that truth will at last prevail. Here has this ifland of ours, for the greatest part of twenty years, lain under the influence of such counsels and persons, whose principle and interest it was, to corrupt our manners, blind our understanding, drain our wealth, and in time destroy our constitution both in church and state; and we at last were brought to the very brink of ruin; yet, by the means of perpetual misrepresentations, have never been able to distinguish between our enemies and friends. We have seen a great part of the nation's money got into the hands of those, who by their birth, education, and merit, could pretend no higher than to wear our liveries; while others, who, by their credit, quality, and fortune, were only able to give reputation and success to the Revolution, were not only laid aside as dangerous and useless, but loaden with the scandal of Jacobites, men of arbitrary principles, and pensioners to France; while truth, who is said to lie in a well, seemed now to be buried there under a heap of stones. But I remember, it was a usual complaint among the whigs, that the bulk of the landed men was not in their interests, which some of the wisest looked on as an ill omen; and we saw it was with the utmost difficulty, that they could preserve a majority, while the court and ministry were on their side, till they had learned those admirable expedients for deciding elections, and influencing distant boroughs, by powerful motives from the city. But all this was mere force and constraint, however upheld by most dextrous artifice and management, until the people began to apprehend their properties, their religion, and the monarchy itself in danger; when we saw them greedily laying hold on the first occasion to interpose. But of this mighty change in the dispositions of the people, I shall discourse more at large in some following paper; wherein I shall endeavour to undeceive, or discover, those deluded, or deluding persons, who hope or pretend, it is only a short madness in the vulgar, from which they may soon recover; whereas, I believe, it will appear to be very different in its causes, its symptoms, and its consequences; and prove a great example to illustrate the maxim I lately mentioned; that truth (however sometimes late) will at last preval.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 1710.
———— medioque ut limite curras,
Jeare, ait, moneo: ne si demissior ibis,
Unda gravet pennas; si celsior, ignis adurat.
——— My boy, take care
To wing thy course along the middle air;
If low, the surges wet thy flagging plumes;
If high, the sun the melting wax consumes.
IT must be avowed that for some years past, there have been few things more wanted in England than such a paper as this ought to be: and such I will endeavour to make it as long as it shall be found of any use, without entering into the violences of either party. Considering the many grievous misrepresentations of persons and things, it is highly requisite at this juncture, that the people throughout the kingdom should, if possible, be set right in their opinions by some impartial hand; which has never been yet attempted; those, who have hitherto undertaken it, being, upon every account, the least qualified of all human-kind, for such work.
We live here under a limited monarchy, and under the doctrine and discipline of an excellent church. We are unhappily divided into two parties, both which pretend a mighty zeal for our religion and government, only they disagree about the means. The evils we must fence against, are, on one side, fanaticism and infidelity in religion, and anarchy, under the name of a commonwealth, in government; on the other side, popery, slavery, and the Pretender from France. Now, to inform and direct us in our sentiments upon these weighty points, here are, on one side, two stupid illiterate scribblers, both of them fanaticks by profession, I mean the Review, and Observator; on the other side, we have an open Nonjuror, whose character and person, as well as learning and good sense, discovered upon other subjects, do indeed deserve respect and esteem; but his Rehearsal, and the rest of his political papers, are yet more pernicious than those of the former two. If the generality of the people know not how to talk or think, until they have read their lesson in the papers of the week, what a misfortune is it, that their duty should be conveyed to them through such vehicles as those! For, let some gentlemen think what they please, I cannot but suspect, that the two worthies I first mentioned, have, in a degree, done mischief among us; the mock authoritative manner of the one, and the insipid mirth of the other, however insupportable to reasonable ears, being of a level with great numbers among the lowest part of mankind. Neither was the author of the Rehearsal, while he continued that paper, less infectious to many persons of better figure, who perhaps, were as well qualified, and much less prejudiced, to judge for themselves.
It was this reason, that moved me to take the matter out of those rough, as well as those dirty hands; to let the remote and uninstructed part of the nation see, that they have been misled on both sides, by mad ridiculous extremes, at a wide distance on each side of the truth; while the right path is so broad and plain, as to be easily kept, if they were once put into it.
Farther: I had lately entered on a resolution to take little notice of other papers, unless it were such, where the malice and falshood had so great a mixture of wit and spirit, as would make them dangerous: which, in the present circle of scribblers, from twelve-pence to a half-penny, I could easily foresee would not very frequently occur. But here again I am forced to dispense with my resolution, although it be only to tell my reader what measures I am likely to take on such occasions for the future. I was told, that the paper called The Observator, was twice filled last week with remarks upon a late Examiner. These I read with the first opportunity, and, to speak in the news-writers phrase, they gave me occasion for many speculations. I observed, with singular pleasure, the nature of those things which the owners of them usually call answers, and with what dexterity this matchless author had fallen into the whole art and cant of them. To transcribe here and there three or four detached lines of least weight in a discourse, and by a foolish comment mistake every syllable of the meaning, is what I have known many, of a superiour class to this formidable adversary, entitle an Answer. This is what he has exactly done, in about thrice as many words as my whole discourse; which is so mighty an advantage over me, that I shall by no means engage in so unequal a combat; but, as far as I can judge of my own temper, entirely dismiss him for the future; heartily wishing he had a match exactly of his own size to meddle with, who should only have the odds of truth and honesty; which, as I take it, would be an effectual way to silence him for ever. Upon this occasion, I cannot forbear a short story of a fanatic farmer, who lived in my neighbourhood, and was so great a disputant in religion, that the servants in all the families thereabouts reported, how he had confuted the bishop and all his clergy. I had then a footman, who was fond of reading the Bible: and I borrowed a comment for him, which he studied so close, that in a month or two I thought him a match for the farmer. They disputed at several houses, with a ring of servants and other people always about them; where Ned explained his texts so full and clear to the capacity of his audience, and showed the insignificancy of his adversary's cant to the meanest understanding, that he got the whole country on his side, and the farmer was cured of his itch of disputation for ever after.
The worst of it is, that this sort of outrageous party-writers I have spoken of above, are like a couple of makebates, who inflame small quarrels by a thousand stories, and by keeping friends at a distance, hinder them from coming to a good understanding; as they certainly would, if they were suffered to meet and debate between themselves: for let any one examine a reasonable honest man, of either side, upon those opinions in religion and government, which both parties daily buffet each other about; he shall hardly find one material point in difference between them. I would be glad to ask a question about two great men of the late ministry, How they came to be whigs? and by what figure of speech, half a dozen others, lately put into great employments, can be called tories? I doubt, whoever would suit the definition to the persons, must make it directly contrary to what we understood it at the time of the Revolution.
In order to remove these misapprehensions among us, I believe, it will be necessary, upon occasion, to detect the malice and falshood of some popular maxims, which those idiots scatter from the press twice a week, and draw a hundred absurd consequences from them.
For example; I have heard it often objected, as a great piece of insolence in the clergy and others, to say or hint, that the church was in danger, when it was voted otherwise in parliament some years ago; and the queen herself, in her last speech, did openly condemn all such insinuations. Notwithstanding which, I did then, and do still, believe the church has, since that vote, been in very imminent danger; and I think I might then have said so, without the least offence to her majesty, or either of the two houses. The queen's words, as near as I can remember, mentioned the church being in danger from her administration; and whoever says or thinks that, deserves, in my opinion, to be hanged for a traitor: but, that the church and state, may be both in danger, under the best princes that ever reigned, and without the least guilt of theirs, is such a truth, as a man must be a great stranger to history and common sense, to doubt. The wisest prince on earth, may be forced, by the necessity of his affairs, and the present power of an unruly faction; or deceived, by the craft of ill-designing men. One or two ministers, most in his confidence, may at first have good intentions, but grow corrupted by time, by avarice, by love, by ambition, and have fairer terms offered them to gratify their passions or interests, from one set of men than another, until they are too far involved for a retreat; and so be forced to take seven spirits more wicked than themselves. This is a very possible case; and will not the last state of such men be worse than the first? that is to say, will not the publick, which was safe at first, grow in danger by such proceedings as these? And shall a faithful subject, who foresees and trembles at the consequences, be called disaffected, because he delivers his opinion, although the prince declares, as he justly may, that the danger is not owing to his administration? or shall the prince himself be blamed, when, in such a juncture, he puts his affairs into other hands, with the universal applause of his people? As to the vote against those who should affirm the church was in danger, I think it likewise referred to danger from, or under, the queen's administration; for I neither have it by me, nor can suddenly have recourse to it; but, if it were otherwise, I know not how it can refer to any dangers, but what were past, or at that time present; or how it could affect the future, unless the senators were all inspired, or at least that majority which voted it: neither do I see it is any crime, farther than ill manners, to differ in opinion from a majority of either or both houses; and that ill manners, I must confess, I have been often guilty of for some years past, although I hope I never shall again.
Another topick of great use to these weekly inflamers, is, the young Pretender in France to whom their whole party is in a high measure indebted for all their greatness; and whenever it lies in their power, they may perhaps return their acknowledgments, as, out of their zeal for frequent revolutions, they were ready to do to his supposed father; which is a piece of secret history, that I hope will one day see the light; and I am sure it shall, if ever I am master of it, without regarding whose ears may tingle. But at present, the word Pretender, is a term of art in their profession. A secretary of state cannot desire leave to resign, but the Pretender is at bottom; the queen cannot dissolve a parliament, but it is a plot to dethrone herself and bring in the Pretender; half a score stock-jobbers are playing the knave in Exchange-alley, and there goes the Pretender with a sponge. One would be apt to think, they bawl out the Pretender so often, to take off the terrour; or tell so many lies about him, to slacken our caution, that when he is really coming, by their connivance, we may not believe them; as the boy served the shepherds about the coming of the wolf; or perhaps they scare us with the Pretender, because they think he may be like some diseases, that come with a fright. Do they not believe, that the queen's present ministry love her majesty, at least as well as some loved the church? And why is it not as great a mark of disaffection now, to say the queen is in danger, as it was some months ago to affirm the same of the church? Suppose it be a false opinion, that the queen's right is hereditary and indefeasible; yet how is it possible that those who hold and believe such a doctrine, can be in the Pretender's interest? His title is weakened by every argument that strengthens hers: it is as plain as the words of an act of parliament can make it, That her present majesty is heir to the survivor of the late king and queen her sister: is not that an hereditary right? What need we explain it any farther? I have known an article of faith expounded in much looser and more general terms, and that, by an author, whose opinions are very much followed by a certain party. Suppose we go farther, and examine the word indefeasible, with which some writers of late have made themselves so merry: I confess, it is hard to conceive how any law, which the supreme power makes, may not by the same power be repealed; so that I shall not determine, whether the queen's right be indefeasible or not. But this I will maintain, that whoever affirms it is so, is not guilty of a crime; for in that settlement of the crown after the Revolution, where her present majesty is named in remainder, there are (as near as I can remember) these remarkable words, "to which we bind ourselves and our posterity for ever." Lawyers may explain this, or call them words of form as they please; and reasoners may argue, that such an obligation is against the nature of government; but a plain reader, who takes the words in their natural meaning, may be excused in thinking a right so confirmed is indefeasible; and if there be an absurdity in such an opinion, he is not to answer for it.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 1710.
I WILL employ this present paper upon a subject, which of late has very much affected me, which I have considered with a good deal of application, and made several inquiries about among those persons, who, I thought, were best able to inform me; and if I deliver my sentiments with some freedom, I hope it will be forgiven, while I accompany it with that tenderness, which so nice a point requires.
I said in a former paper, (Number 13) that one specious objection to the late removals at court, was, the fear of giving uneasiness to a general, who has been long successful abroad; and accordingly, the common clamour of tongues and pens for some months past has run against the baseness, the inconstancy, and ingratitude of the whole kingdom to the duke of Marlborough, in return of the most eminent services, that ever were performed by a subject, to his country; not to be equalled in history: and then, to be sure, some bitter stroke of detraction against Alexander and Cæsar, who never did us the least injury. Besides, the people who read Plutarch, come upon us with parallels drawn from the Greeks and Romans, who ungratefully dealt with I know not how many of their most deserving generals; while the profounder politicians, have seen pamphlets, where Tacitus and Machiavel have beea quoted to show the danger of too resplendent a merit. If a stranger should hear these serious outcries of ingratitude against our general without knowing the particulars, he would be apt to inquire, where was his tomb, or whether he was allowed Christian burial? not doubting but we had put him to some ignominious death. Or has he been tried for his life, and very narrowly escaped? has he been accused of high crimes and misdemeanors? has the prince seized on his estate, and left him to starve? has he been hooted at, as he passed the streets, by an ungrateful rabble? have neither honours, offices, nor grants been conferred on him or his family? have not he and they been barbarously stripped of them all? have not he and his forces been ill paid abroad? and does not the prince, by a scanty limited commission, hinder him from pursuing his own methods in the conduct of the war? has he no power at all of disposing of commissions as he pleases? is he not severely used by the ministry or parliament, who yearly call him to a strict account? has the senate ever thanked him for good success, and have they not always publickly censured him for the least miscarriage? — Will the accusers of the nation join issue upon any of these particulars, or tell us in what point our damnable sin of ingratitude lies? — Why, it is plain and clear; for while he is commanding abroad, the queen dissolves her parliament, and changes her ministry at home; in which universal calamity, no less than two persons allied by marriage to die general, have lost their places. Whence came this wonderful sympathy between the civil and military powers? Will the troops in Flanders refuse to fight unless they can have their own lord-keeper, their own lord-president of the council, their own parliament? In a kingdom where the people are free, how came they to be so fond of having their counsels under the influence of their army, or those that lead it? who, in all well instituted states, had no commerce with the civil power, farther than to receive their orders, and obey them without reserve.
When a general is not so popular, either in his army or at home, as one might expect from a long course of success; it may perhaps be ascribed to his wisdom, or perhaps to his complexion. The possession of some one quality, or defect in some other, will extremely damp the people's favour, as well as the love of the soldiers. Besides, this is not an age to produce favourites of the people, while we live under a queen, who engrosses all our love and all our veneration; and where the only way, for a great general or minister, to acquire any degree of subordinate affection from the publick, must be, by all marks of the most entire submission and respect, to her sacred person and commands; otherwise, no pretence of great services, either in the field or the cabinet, will be able to skreen them from universal hatred.
But the late ministry was closely joined to the general by friendship, interest, alliance, inclination, and opinion; which cannot be affirmed of the present: and the ingratitude of the nation lies in the people's joining as one man to wish, that such a ministry should be changed. Is it not at the same time notorious to the whole kingdom, that nothing but a tender regard to the general, was able to preserve that ministry so long, until neither God nor man could suffer their continuance? Yet, in the highest ferment of things, we heard few or no reflexions upon this great commander; but all seemed unanimous in wishing he might still be at the head of the confederate forces; only at the same time, in case he were resolved to resign, they chose rather to turn their thoughts somewhere else, than throw up all in despair. And this I cannot but add, in defence of the people, with regard to the person we are speaking of, that in the high station he has been for many years past, his real defects (as nothing human is without them) have, in a detracting age, been very sparingly mentioned either in libels or conversation, and all successes very freely and universally applauded.
There is an active and a passive ingratitude: applying both to this occasion, we may say, the first is, when a prince or people returns good services with cruelty or ill-usage; the other is, when good services are not at all, or very meanly rewarded. We have already spoken of the former; let us therefore in the second place examine how the services of our general have been rewarded; and whether, upon that article, either prince or people, have been guilty of ingratitude?
Those are the most valuable rewards, which are given to us from the certain knowledge of the donor, that they fit our temper best: I shall therefore say nothing of the title of duke, or the garter, which the queen bestowed upon the general in the beginning of her reign; but I shall come to more substantial instances, and mention nothing, which has not been given in the face of the world. The lands of Woodstock may, I believe, be reckoned worth 40,000l.; on the building of Blenheim castle 200,000l. have been already expended, although it be not yet near finished; the grant of 5000l. per annum on the post office is richly worth 100,000l. his principality in Germany may be computed at 30,0000l. pictures, jewels, and other gifts from foreign princes, 60,000l. the grant at the Pall-mall, the rangership, &c. for want of more certain knowledge, may be called 10,000l. his own and his duchess's employments at five years value, reckoning only the known and avowed salaries, are very low rated at 100,000l. Here is a good deal above half a million of money; and, I dare say, those who are loudest with the clamour of ingratitude, will readily own, that all this is but a trifle, in comparison of what is untold.
The reason of my stating this account, is only to convince the world, that we are not quite so ungrateful either as the Greeks or the Romans; and in order to adjust the matter with all fairness, I shall confine myself to the latter, who were much more generous of the two. A victorious general of Rome, in the height of that empire, having entirely subdued his enemies, was rewarded with the larger triumph, and perhaps a statue in the Forum, a bull for a sacrifice, an embroidered garment to appear in, a crown of laurel, a monumental trophy with inscriptions; sometimes five hundred or a thousand copper coins were struck on occasion of the victory, which, doing honour to the general, we will place to his account; and lastly, sometimes, although not very frequently, a triumphal arch. These are all the rewards, that I can call to mind, which a victorious general received, after his return from the most glorious expedition; having conquered some great kingdom, brought the king himself, his family, and nobles, to adorn the triumph, in chains; and made the kingdom, either a Roman province, or at best, a poor depending state, in humble alliance to that empire. Now, of all these rewards, I find but two which were of real profit to the general; the laurel crown, made and sent him at the charge of the publick, and the embroidered garment; but I cannot find, whether this last was paid for by the senate or the general: however we will take the more favourable opinion; and in all the rest admit the whole expense, as if it were ready money in the general's pocket. Now, according to these computations on both sides, we will draw up two fair accounts; the one, of Roman gratitude; and the other of British ingratitude; and set them together in balance.
A Bill of Roman Gratitude.
|Imprim.||£. s. d.|
|For frankincense and earthen pots to burn it in||4 10 0|
|A bull for sacrifice||8 0 0|
|An embroidered garment||50 0 0|
|A crown of laurel||0 0 2|
|A statue||100 0 0|
|A trophy||80 0 0|
|A thousand copper medals, value half-pence a-piece||2 1 8|
|A triumphal arch||500 0 0|
|A triumphal car, valued as a modern coach||100 0 0|
|Casual charges at the triumph||150 0 0|
|994 11 10|
A Bill of British Ingratitude.
|Pictures, jewels, &c.||60,000|
|Pall-mall grant, &c.||10,000|
So that, upon the whole, we are not yet quite so bad at worst, as the Romans were at best. And I doubt, those who raise this hideous cry of ingratitude, may be mightily mistaken in the consequence they propose from such complaints. I remember a saying of Seneca, Multos ingratos invenimus, plures facimus; we find many ungrateful persons in the world, but we make more, by setting too high a rate upon our pretensions, and undervaluing the rewards we receive. When unreasonable bills are brought in, they ought to be taxed, or cut off in the middle. Where there have been long accounts between two persons, I have known one of them perpetually making large demands, and pressing for payment; who, when the accounts were cast up on both sides, was found to be debtor for some hundreds. I am thinking, if a proclamation were issued out for every man to send in his bill of merits, and the lowest price he set them at; what a pretty sum it would amount to, and how many such islands as this, must be sold to pay them. I form my judgment from the practice of those, who sometimes happen to pay themselves; and I dare affirm, would not be so unjust as to take a farthing more than they think is due to their deserts. I will instance only in one article: a lady of my acquaintance appropriated twenty-six pounds a year out of her allowance, for certain uses, which her woman received, and was to pay to the lady or her order, as it was called for. But after eight years it appeared, upon the strictest calculation, that the woman had paid but four pounds a year, and sunk two and twenty for her own pocket. It is but supposing, instead of twenty-six pounds, twenty-six thousand; and by that you may judge, what the pretensions of modern merit are, where it happens to be its own paymaster.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 1710.
WHEN I first undertook this paper, I was resolved to concern myself only with things, and not with persons. Whether I have kept or broken this resolution, I cannot recollect; and I will not be at the pains to examine, but leave the matter to those little antagonists who may want a topick for criticism. Thus much I have discovered, that it is in writing, as in building; where, after all our schemes and calculations, we are mightily deceived in our accounts, and often forced to make use of any materials we can find, that the work may be kept a going. Besides, to speak my opinion, the things I have occasion to mention are so closely linked to persons, that nothing but time (the father of oblivion) can separate them. Let me put a parallel case: suppose I should complain, that last week my coach was within an inch of overturning in a smooth even way, and drawn by very gentle horses; to be sure, all my friends would immediately lay the fault upon John, because they knew he then presided in my coach-box. Again, suppose I should discover some uneasiness to find myself, I knew not how, over head and ears in debt, although I were sure my tenants paid their rents very well, and that I never spent half my income; they would certainly advise me to turn off Mr. Oldfox my receiver, and take another. If, as a justice of peace, I should tell a friend, that my warrants and mittimuses were never drawn up as I would have them; that I had the misfortune to send an honest man to gaol, and dismiss a knave; he would bid me no longer trust Charles and Harry, my two clerks, whom he knew to be ignorant, wilful, assuming, and ill-inclined fellows. If I should add, that my tenants made me very uneasy with their squabbles and broils among themselves; he would counsel me to cashier Will. Bigamy, the seneschal of my manor. And lastly, if my neighbour and I happened to have a misunderstanding about the delivery of a message, what could I do less than strip and discard the blundering or malicious rascal, who carried it?
It is the same thing in the conduct of publick affairs, where they have been managed with rashness or willfulness, corruption, ignorance, or injustice. Barely to relate the facts, at least while they are fresh in memory, will as much reflect upon the persons concerned, as if we had told their names at length.
I have therefore since thought of another expedient, frequently practised with great safety and success by satirical writers; which is, that of looking into history for some character bearing a resemblance to the person we would describe; and with the absolute power of altering, adding, or suppressing what circumstances we please, I conceive we must have very bad luck, or very little skill, to fail. However, some days ago in a coffee-house looking into one of the politick weekly papers, I found the writer had fallen into this scheme; and I happened to light on that part, where he was describing a person, who, from small beginnings, grew (as I remember) to be constable of France, and had a very haughty imperious wife. I took the author as a friend to our faction; for so, with great propriety of speech, they call the queen and ministry, almost the whole clergy, and nine parts in ten of the kingdom; and I said to a gentleman near me, that although I knew well enough what persons the author meant, yet there were several particulars in the husband's character, which I could not reconcile; for that of the lady, it was just and adequate enough. But it seems I mistook the whole matter, and applied all I had read to a couple of persons, who were not at that time in the writer's thoughts.
Now, to avoid such a misfortune as this, I have been for some time consulting Livy and Tacitus, to find out a character of a princeps senatus, a prætor urbanus, a quæstor ærarius, a Cæsari ab epistolis, and a proconsul: but among the worst of them, I cannot discover one, from whom to draw a parallel without doing injury to a Roman memory: so that I am compelled to have recourse to Tully. But, this author relating facts only as an orator, I thought it would be best to observe his method, and make an extract from six harangues of his against Verres, only still preserving the form of an oration. I remember a younger brother of mine, who deceased about two months ago, presented the world with a speech of Alcibiades against an Athenian brewer. Now I am told for certain, that in those days there was no ale in Athens; therefore that speech, or at least a great part of it, must needs be spurious. The difference between my brother and me is this; he makes Alcibiades say a great deal more than he really did, and I make Cicero say a great deal less. This Verres had been the Roman governor of Sicily for three years; and, on his return from his government, the Sicilians entreated Cicero to impeach him in the senate; which he accordingly did in several orations, whence I have faithfully translated and abstracted that which follows:
"A pernicious opinion has for some time prevailed, not only at Rome, but among our neighbouring nations, that a man who has money enough, although he be ever so guilty, cannot be condemned in this place. But, however industriously this opinion be spread to cast an odium on the senate, we have brought before your lordships Caius Verres, a person, for his life and actions, already condemned by all men; but, as he hopes and gives out, by the influence of his wealth to be here absolved: in condemning this man, you have an opportunity of belying that general scandal, of redeeming the credit lost by former judgments, and recovering the love of the Roman people, as well as of our neighbours. I have brought here a man before you, my lords, who is a robber of the public treasure, an overturner of law and justice, and the disgrace as well as destruction of the Sicilian province; of whom if you shall determine with equity and due severity, your authority will remain entire, and upon such an establishment as it ought to be: but, if his great riches will be able to force their way through that religious reverence and truth, which become so awful an assembly; I shall however obtain thus much, that the defect will be laid where it ought; and that it shall not be objected, that the criminal was not produced, or that there wanted an orator to accuse him. This man, my lords, has publickly said, that those ought to be afraid of accusations, who have only robbed enough for their own support and maintenance; but that he has plundered sufficient to bribe numbers; and that nothing is so high or so holy, which money cannot corrupt. Take that support from him, and he can have no other left: for what eloquence will be able to defend a man, whose life has been tainted with so many scandalous vices, and who has been so long condemned by the universal opinion of the world? To pass over the foul stains and ignominy of his youth, his corrupt management in all employments he has born, his treachery and irreligion, his injustice and oppression: he has left of late such monuments of his villainies in Sicily, made such havock and confusion there, during his government, that the province cannot by any means be restored to its former state, and hardly recover itself at all, under many years, and by a long succession of good governors. While this man governed in that island, the Sicilians had neither the benefit of our laws, nor their own, nor even of common right. In Sicily, no man now possesses more than what the governor's lust and avarice have overlooked, or what he was forced to neglect, out of mere weariness and satiety of oppression. Every thing, where he presided, was determined by his arbitrary will; and the best subjects he treated as enemies. To recount his abominable debaucheries, would offend any modest year, since so many could not preserve their daughters and wives from his lust. I believe there is no man, who ever heard his name, that cannot relate his enormities. We bring before you in judgment, my lords, a publick robber, an adulterer, a defiler of altars, an enemy of religion, and of all that is sacred. In Sicily he sold all employments of judicature, magistracy, and trust, places in the council, and the priesthood itself, to the highest bidder; and has plundered that island of forty millions of sesterces. And here I cannot but observe to your lordships, in what manner Verres passed the day; the morning was spent in taking bribes and selling employments; the rest of it, in drunkenness and lust. His discourse at table was scandalously unbecoming the dignity of his station; noise, brutality, and obsceneness. One particular I cannot omit; that in the high character of governor of Sicily, upon a solemn day, a day set apart for publick prayer for the safety of the commonwealth, he stole at evening in a chair to a married woman of infamous character, against all decency and prudence, as well as against all laws both human and divine. Didst thou think, O Verres! the government of Sicily was given thee with so large a commission, only, by the power of that, to break all the bars of law, modesty, and duty; to suppose all men's fortunes thine, and leave no house free from thy rapine and lust?" &c.
This extract, to deal ingenuously, has cost me more pains than I think it is worth; having only served to convince me, that modern corruptions are not to be parallelled by ancient examples, without having recourse to poetry or fable. For instance, I never read in story of a law enacted to take away the force of all laws whatsoever; by which a man may safely commit upon the last of June, what he would infallibly be hanged for, if he committed it on the first of July; by which the greatest criminals may escape, provided they continue long enough in power to antiquate their crimes, and by stifling them a while can deceive the legislature into an amnesty, of which the enactors do not at that time foresee the consequence. A cautious merchant will be apt to suspect, when he finds a man who has the repute of a cunning dealer, and with whom he has old accounts, urging for a general release. When I reflect on this proceeding, I am not surprised that those, who contrived a parliamentary sponge, for their crimes, are now afraid of a new revolution sponge, for their money: and if it were possible to contrive a sponge, that could only affect those who had need of the other, perhaps it would not be ill employed.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1710.
Quippe ubi fas versum atque nefas; tot bella per orbem;
Tam multæ scelerum facies ——
Where sacred order fraud and force confound;
Where impious wars and tumults rage around.
I AM often violently tempted to let the world freely know, who the author of this paper is; to tell them my name and titles at length; which would prevent abundance of inconsistent criticisms I daily hear upon it. Those who are enemies to the notions and opinions I would advance, are sometimes apt to quarrel with the Examiner, as defective in point of wit, and sometimes of truth. At other times, they are so generous and candid to allow, it is written by a club, and that very great hands have fingers in it. As for those who only appear its adversaries in print, they give me but very little pain. The paper I hold, lies at my mercy, and I can govern it as I please; therefore, when I begin to find the wit too bright, the learning too deep, and the satire too keen for me to deal with, (a very frequent case, no doubt, where a man is constantly attacked by such shrewd adversaries) I peaceably fold it up, or fling it aside, and read no more. It would be happy for me to have the same power over people's tongues, and not be forced to hear my own work railed at, and commended, fifty times a day; affecting all the while a countenance wholly unconcerned, and joining, out of policy or good manners, with the judgment of both parties: this I confess, is too great a hardship for so bashful and unexperienced a writer.
But, alas, I lie under another discouragement of much more weight. I was very unfortunate in the choice of my party, when I set up to be a writer. Where is the merit, or what opportunity to discover our wit, our courage, or our learning, in drawing our pens for the defence of a cause, which the queen and both houses of parliament, and nine parts in ten of the kingdom, have so unanimously embraced? I am cruelly afraid, we politick authors must begin to lessen our expenses, and lie for the future at the mercy of our printers. All hopes are now gone of writing ourselves into places or pensions. A certain starveling author, who worked under the late administration, told me, with a heavy heart, about a month ago, that he, and some others of his brethren, had secretly offered their service, dog-cheap, to the present ministry, but were all refused; and are now maintained by contribution, like Jacobites or fanaticks. I have been of late employed, out of perfect commiseration, in doing them good offices: for, whereas some were of opinion, that these hungry zealots should not be suffered any longer, in their malapert way, to snarl at the present course of publick proceedings; and whereas others proposed, that they should be limited to a certain number, and permitted to write for their masters, in the same manner as counsel are assigned for other criminals, that is, to say all they can in defence of their client, but not reflect upon the court; I humbly gave my advice, that they should be suffered to write on, as they used to do; which I did purely out of regard to their persons; for I hoped it would keep them out of harm's way, and prevent them from falling into evil courses; which, though of little consequence to the publick, would certainly be fatal to themselves. If I have room at the bottom of this paper, I will transcribe a petition to the present ministry, sent me by one of these authors, in behalf of himself and fourscore others of his brethren.
For my own part, notwithstanding the little encouragement to be hoped for at this time from the men in power, I shall continue my paper, till either the world or myself grow weary of it: the latter is easily determined; and for the former, I shall not leave it to the partiality of either party, but to the infallible judgment of my printer. One principal end I designed by it, was, to undeceive those well-meaning people, who have been drawn unawares into a wrong sense of things, either by the common prejudices of education and company, the great personal qualities of some party leaders, or the foul misrepresentations that were constantly made of all, who durst differ from them in the smallest article. I have known such men struck with the thoughts of some late changes, which, as they pretend to think, were made without any reason visible to the world. In answer to this, it is not sufficient to allege, what nobody doubts, that a good and wise prince, may be allowed to change his ministers, without giving a reason to his subjects; because it is probable, that he will not make such a change, without very important reasons; and a good subject ought to suppose, that in such a case there are such reasons, although he be not apprised of them; otherwise he must inwardly tax his prince of capriciousness, inconstancy, or ill-design. Such reasons indeed may not be obvious to persons prejudiced, or at a great distance, or short thinkers; and therefore, if there be no secrets of state, nor any ill consequences to be apprehended from their publication, it is no uncommendable work in any private hand, to lay them open for the satisfaction of all men. And if what 1 have already said, or shall hereafter say, of this kind, be thought to reflect upon persons, although none have been named, I know not how it can possibly be avoided. The queen in her speech, mentions with great concern, that "the navy and other offices are burdened with heavy debts; and desires, that the like may be prevented for the time to come." And if it be now possible to prevent the continuance of an evil, that has been so long growing upon us, and is arrived to such a height; surely those corruptions and mismanagements must have been great, which first introduced them, before our taxes were eaten up by annuities.
If I were able to rip up, and discover in all their colours, only about eight or nine thousand of the most scandalous abuses, that have been committed in all parts of publick management, for twenty years past, by a certain set of men and their instruments, I should reckon it some service to my country and posterity. But, to say the truth, I should be glad the authors names were conveyed to future times, along with their actions. For although the present age may understand well enough the little hints we give, the parallels we draw, and the characters we describe; yet all this will be lost to the next. However, if these papers, reduced into a more durable form, should happen to live till our grand-children be men, I hope they may have curiosity enough to consult annals, and compare dates, in order to find out what names were then intrusted with the conduct of affairs, in the consequences whereof themselves will so deeply share; like a heavy debt in a private family, which often lies an incumbrance upon an estate for three generations.
But, leaving the care of informing posterity to better pens, I shall, with due regard to truth, discretion, and the safety of my person from the men of the new-fangled moderation, continue to take all proper opportunities of letting the misled part of the people see, how grossly they have been abused, and in what particulars. I shall also endeavour to convince them, that the present course we are in is the most probable means, with the blessing of God, to extricate ourselves out of all our difficulties.
Among those who are pleased to write or talk against this paper, I have observed a strange manner of reasoning, which I should be glad to hear them explain themselves upon. They make no ceremony of exclaiming, upon all occasions, against a change of ministry, in so critical and dangerous a conjuncture. What shall we, who heartily approve and join in those proceedings, say in defence of them? We own the juncture of affairs to be as they describe: we are pushed for an answer; and are forced at last freely to confess, that the corruptions and abuses in every branch of the administration, were so numerous and intolerable, that all things must have ended in ruin, without some speedy reformation. This I have already asserted in a former paper; and the replies I have read, or heard, have been in plain terms to affirm the direct contrary; and not only to defend and celebrate the late persons and proceedings, but to threaten me with law and vengeance, for casting reflections on so many great and honourable men, whose birth, virtue, and abilities, whose morals and religion, whose love of their country, and its constitution in church and state, were so universally allowed; and all this set off with odious comparisons, reflecting on the present choice: is not this, in plain and direct terms to tell all the world, that the queen has, in a most dangerous crisis, turned out a whole set of the best ministers that ever served a prince, without any manner of reason but her royal pleasure, and brought in others, of a character directly contrary? And how so vile an opinion as this, can consist with the least pretence to loyalty or good manners, let the world determine.
I confess myself so little a refiner in politicks, as not to be able to discover what other motive, beside obedience to the queen, a sense of public danger, and a true love of their country, joined with invincible courage, could spirit up those great men, who have now, under her majesty's authority, undertaken the direction of affairs. What can they expect, but the utmost efforts of malice, from a set of enraged domestic adversaries, perpetually watching over their conduct, crossing all their designs, and using every art to foment divisions among them, in order to join with the weakest, upon any rupture? The difficulties they must encounter, are nine times more and greater than ever; and the prospects of the interest, after the reapings and gleanings of so many years, nine times less. Every misfortune at home or abroad, although the necessary consequence of former counsels, will be imputed to them; and all the good success, given to the merit of former schemes. A sharper has held your cards all the evening, played booty, and lost your money; and when things are almost desperate, you employ an honest gentleman to retrieve your losses.
I would ask, whether the queen's speech does not contain her intentions, in every particular, relating to the publick, that a good subject, a Briton, and a protestant, can possibly have at heart? "To carry on the war in all its parts, particularly in Spain, with the utmost vigour, in order to procure a safe and honourable peace for us and our allies; to find some ways of paying the debts of the navy; to support and encourage the church of England; to preserve the British constitution according to the union; to maintain the indulgence by law allowed to scrupulous consciences; and to employ none but such as are for the protestant succession in the house of Hanover." It is known enough, that speeches on these occasions are ever digested by the advice of those, who are in the chief confidence; and consequently, that these are the sentiments of her majesty's ministers, as well as her own; and we see, the two houses have unanimously agreed with her in every article. When the least counterpaces are made to any of these resolutions, it will then be time enough for our malecontents to bawl out popery, persecution, arbitrary power, and the Pretender. In the mean while, it is a little hard to think, that this island can hold but six men, of honesty and ability enough to serve their prince and country; or that our safety should depend upon their credit, any more than it would upon the breath in their nostrils. Why should not a revolution in the ministry be sometimes necessary, as well as a revolution in the crown? It is to be presumed, the former, is at least as lawful in itself, and perhaps the experiment not quite so dangerous. The revolution of the sun about the earth, was formerly thought a necessary expedient to solve appearances, although it left many difficulties unanswered; until philosophers contrived a better, which is that of the earth's revolution about the sun. This is found, upon experience, to save much time and labour, to correct many irregular motions, and is better suited to the respect due from a planet to a fixed star.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1710.
Sunt quibus in satira videar nimis acer, et ultra
Legem tendere opus: sine nervis altera quicquid
Composui pars esse putat ——
There are to whom too poignant I appear,
Beyond the laws of satire too severe.
My lines are weak, unsinewed, others say,
A man may spin a thousand such a day.
WHEN the printer came last week for his copy, he brought along with him a bundle of those papers, which, in the phrase of whig coffee houses, have swinged off the Examiner; most of which I had never seen or heard of before. I remember some time ago, in one of the Tatlers, to have read a letter, wherein several reasons are assigned for the present corruption and degeneracy of our taste; but I think the writer has omitted the principal one, which I take to be the prejudice of parties. Neither can I excuse either side of this infirmity: I have heard the arrantest drivellers pro and con, commended for their shrewdness, even by men of tolerable judgement; and the best performances exploded as nonsense and stupidity. This indeed may partly be imputed to policy and prudence; but it is chiefly owing to that blindness, which prejudice and passion cast over the understanding: I mention this, because I think it properly within my province in quality of Examiner. And having granted more than is usual for an enemy to do, I must now take leave to say, that so weak a cause, and so ruined a faction, were never provided with pens more resembling their condition, or less suited to their occasions.
Non tali auxillo, nec defensoribus istis,
Tempus eget ———
This is the more to be wondered at, when we consider, they have the full liberty of the press; that they have no other way left to recover themselves; and that they want not men of excellent parts, to set their arguments in the best light they will bear. Now, if two men would argue on both sides with fairness, good sense, and good manners, it would be no ill entertainment to the town, and perhaps be the most effectual means to reconcile us. But I am apt to think, that men of great genius, are hardly brought to prostitute their pens in a very odious cause; which, besides, is more properly undertaken by noise and impudence, by gross railing and scurrility, by calumny and lying, and by little trifling cavils and carpings in the wrong place, which those whifflers use for arguments and answers.
I was well enough pleased with a story of one of these answerers, who, in a paper last week, found many faults with a late calculation of mine. Being, it seems, more deeply learned than his fellows, he was resolved to begin his answer with a Latin verse, as well as other folks. His business was, to look out for something against the Examiner, that would pretend to tax accounts; and turning over Virgil, he had the luck to find these words,
——— fugiant examina taxos:
So down they went, and out they would have come, if one of his unlucky prompters had not hindered it.
I here declare, once for all, that if these people will not be quiet, I shall take the bread out of their mouths, and answer the Examiner myself; which I protest I have never yet done, although I have been often charged with it; neither have those answers been written or published with my privity, as malicious people are pleased to give out; nor do I believe the common whiggish report, that the authors are hired by the ministry, to give my paper a value.
But the friends of this paper have given me more uneasiness with their impatience, than its enemies, by their answers. I heard myself censured last week, by some of the former, for promising to discover the corruptions of the late administration, but never performing any thing. The latter, on the other side, are thundering out their anathemas against me, for discovering so many. I am at a loss how to decide between these contraries, and shall therefore proceed after mv own way, as I have hitherto done; my design being of more importance, than that of writing only to gratify the spleen of one side, or provoke that of the other, although it may occasionally have both effects.
I shall therefore go on to relate some facts, that in my humble opinion were no hindrance to the change of the ministry.
The first I shall mention, was that of introducing certain new phrases into the court style, which had been very seldom, or never made use of in former times. They usually ran in the following terms: "Madam, I cannot serve you while such a one is in employment. I desire, humbly, to resign my commission, if Mr. —— continues secretary of state. I cannot answer that the city will lend money, unless my l—d —— be president of the council. I must beg leave to surrender, except —— has the staff. I must not accept the seals, unless —— comes into the other office." This has been the language of late years from subjects to their prince. Thus they stood upon terms, and must have their conditions to ruin the nation. Nay, this dutiful manner of capitulating had spread so far, that every understrapper began at length to perk up and assume; he expected a regiment; or his son must be a major; or his brother a collector; else he threatened to vote according to his conscience.
Another of their glorious attempts was, the clause intended in the bill for the encouragement of learning, by taking off the obligation upon fellows of colleges, in both universities, to enter upon holy orders: the design of which, as I have heard the undertakers often confess, was, to remove the care of educating youths out of the hands of the clergy, who are apt to infuse into their pupils too great a regard for the church and the monarchy. But there was a farther secret in this clause, which may best be discovered by the first projectors, or at least the garblers of it; and these are known to be Collins and Tindal, in conjunction with a most pious lawyer, their disciple.
What shall we say to their prodigious skill in arithmetick, discovered so constantly in their decision of elections; where they were able to make out by the rule of false, that three were more than three and twenty, and fifteen than fifty? Nay, it was a maxim, which I never heard any of them dispute, that in determining elections they were not to consider, where the right lay, but which of the candidates was likelier to be true to the cause. This they used to illustrate by a very apt and decent similitude, of gaming with a sharper; if you cannot cheat as well as he, you are certainly undone.
Another cast of their politicks was, that of endeavouring to impeach an innocent lady, for no reason imaginable, but her faithful and diligent service to the queen, and the favour her majesty bore to her upon that account, when others had acted contrary in so shameful a manner. What else was the crime? Had she treated her royal mistress with insolence or neglect? Had she enriched herself by a long practice of bribery, and obtained exorbitant grants? Had she engrossed her majesty's favours, without admitting any access but through her means? Had she heaped employments upon herself, her family and dependants? Had she an imperious haughty behaviour? Or, after all, was it a perfect blunder, and mistake of one person for another? I have heard of a man, who lay all night on a rough pavement, and in the morning, wondering what it could possibly be that made him rest so ill, happening to see a feather under him, imputed the uneasiness of his lodging to that. I remember likewise the story of a giant in Rabelais, who used to feed upon windmills; but was unfortunately choked with a small lump of fresh butter, before a warm oven.
And here I cannot but observe, how very refined some people are in their generosity and gratitude. There is a certain great person, (I shall not say of what sex) who for many years past was the constant mark and butt, against which our present malecontents used to discharge their resentment; upon whom they bestowed all the terms of scurrility, that malice, envy, and indignation could invent; whom they publickly accused of every vice, that can possess a human heart; pride, covetousness, ingratitude, oppression, treachery, dissimulation, violence, and fury, all in the highest extremes: but of late they have changed their language on a sudden: that person is now the most faithful and just that ever served a prince; that person, originally differing from them in principles as far as east from west, but, united in practice, and falling together, they are now reconciled, and find twenty resemblances between each other, which they could never discover before. Tanti est, ut placeam tibi perire!
But to return: How could it be longer suffered in a free nation, that all avenues to preferment should be shut up, except a very few; when one or two stood constant sentry, who docked all favours they handed down, or spread a huge invisible net between the prince and subject, through which nothing of value could pass? And here I cannot but admire at one consequence from this management, which is of an extraordinary nature. Generally speaking, princes, who have ill ministers, are apt to suffer in their reputation, as well as in the love of the people; but it was not so with the queen. When the sun is overcast by those clouds he exhales from the earth, we still acknowledge his light and influence, and at last find he can dispel, and drive them down to the horizon. The wisest prince, by the necessity of affairs, the misrepresentations of designing men, or the innocent mistakes even of a good predecessor, may find himself encompassed by a crew of courtiers, whom time, opportunity, and success, have miserably corrupted: and if he can save himself and his people from ruin, under the worst administration, what may not his subjects hope for, when, with their universal applause, he changes hands, and makes use of the best?
Another great objection with me against the late party, was, the cruel tyranny they put upon conscience, by a barbarous inquisition, refusing to admit the least toleration or indulgence. They imposed a hundred tests; but could never be prevailed on to dispense with, or take off, the smallest, or even to admit of occasional conformity; but went on daily (as their apostle Tindal expresses it) narrowing their terms of communion, pronouncing nine parts in ten of the kingdom hereticks, and shutting them out of the pale of their church. These very men, who talk so much of a comprehension in religion among us, how came they to allow so little of it in politicks, which is their sole religion? You shall hear them pretending to bewail the animosities kept up between the church of England and dissenters, where the differences in opinion are so few and inconsiderable; yet, these very sons of moderation, were pleased to excommunicate every man, who disagreed with them in the smallest article of their political creed, or, who refused to receive any new article, how difficult soever to digest, which the leaders imposed at pleasure to serve their own interest.
I will quit this subject for the present, when I have told one story. "There was a great king in Scythia, whose dominions were bounded on the north by the poor mountainous territories of a petty lord, who paid homage, as the king's vassal. The Scythian prime minister, being largely bribed, indirectly obtained his master's consent to suffer this lord to build forts, and provide himself with arms, under pretence of preventing the inroads of the Tartars. This little depending sovereign, finding he was now in a condition to be troublesome, began to insist upon terms, and threatened upon every occasion to unite with the Tartars: upon which the prime minister, who began to be in pain about his head, proposed a match betwixt his master, and the only daughter of this tributary lord, which he had the good luck to bring to pass; and from that time valued himself as author of a most glorious union, which indeed was grown of absolute necessity by his corruption." This passage, cited literally from an old history of Sarmatia, I thought fit to set down, on purpose to perplex little smattering remarkers, and put them upon the hunt for an application.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21, 1710.
—— pugnacem scirent sapiente minorem.
Arms to the gown the victory must yield.
I AM very much at a loss how to proceed upon the subject intended in this paper, which a new incident has led me to engage in. The subject I mean, is, that of soldiers and the army; but being a matter wholly out of my trade, I shall handle it in as cautious a manner as I am able.
It is certain, that the art of war has suffered great changes almost in every age and country of the world; however, there are some maxims relating to it, that will be eternal truths, and which every reasonable man must allow.
In the early times of Greece and Rome, the armies of those states were composed of their citizens, who took no pay, because the quarrel was their own; and therefore the war was usually decided in one campaign; or, if it lasted longer, yet in winter the soldiers returned to their several callings, and were not distinguished from the rest of the people. The Gothic governments in Europe, although they were of military institution, yet observed almost the same method. I shall instance only here in England: those who held lands in capite of the king, were obliged to attend him in his wars with a certain number of men, who all held lands from them, at easy rents, on that condition. These fought without pay; and when the service was over, returned again to their farms. It is recorded of William Rufus, that being absent in Normandy, and engaged in a war with his brother, he ordered twenty thousand men to be raised, and sent over hence to supply his army; but, having struck up a peace before they were embarked, he gave them leave to disband, upon condition they would pay him ten shillings a man, which amounted to a mighty sum in those days.
Consider a kingdom as a great family, whereof the prince is the father, and it will appear plainly, that mercenary troops are only servants armed, either to awe the children at home, or else to defend from invaders the family, who are otherwise employed, and choose to contribute out of their stock for paying their defenders, rather than leave their affairs to be neglected in their absence. The art of making soldiery a trade, and keeping armies in pay, seems in Europe to have had two originals: the first was usurpation; when popular men destroyed the liberties of their country, and seized the power into their own hands, which they were forced to maintain by hiring guards to bridle the people. Such were anciently the tyrants in most of the small states of Greece; and such were those in several parts of Italy, about three or four centuries ago, as Machiavel informs us. The other original of mercenary armies, seems to have risen from larger kingdoms, or commonwealths, which had subdued provinces at a distance, and were forced to maintain troops upon them, to prevent insurrections from the natives. Of this sort were Macedon, Carthage, and Rome of old; Venice and Holland at this day, as well as most kingdoms in Europe. So that mercenary forces in a free state, whether monarchy or commonwealth, seem only necessary either for preserving their conquests, (which in such governments it is not prudent to extend too far) or else for maintaining war at a distance.
In this last, which at present is our most important case, there are certain maxims, that all wise governments have observed.
The first I shall mention is, that no private man should have a commission to be general for life, let his merit and services be ever so great; or, if a prince be unadvisedly brought to offer such a commission in one hand, let him (to save time and blood) deliver up his crown with the other. The Romans, in the height and perfection of their government, usually sent out one of the new consuls to be general against their most formidable enemy, and recalled the old one; who often returned before the next election, and according as he had merit, was sent to command in some other part; which perhaps was continued to him for a second, and sometimes a third year. But if Paulus Æmilius, or Scipio himself, had presumed to move the senate to continue their commission for life, they would certainly have fallen a sacrifice to the jealousy of the people. Cæsar indeed (between whom and a certain general, some of late, with much discretion have made a parallel) had his command in Gaul continued to him for five years; and was afterwards made perpetual dictator, that is to say, general for life; which gave him the power and the will of utterly destroying the Roman liberty. But in his time the Romans were very much degenerated, and great corruptions had crept into their morals and discipline. However, we see there still were some remains of a noble spirit among them; for, when Cæsar sent to be chosen consul notwithstanding his absence, they decreed he should come in person, give up his command, and petere more majorum.
It is not impossible, but a general may desire such a commission out of inadvertency, at the instigation of his friends, or perhaps of his enemies; or merely for the benefit and honour of it, without intending any such dreadful consequences; and in that case a wise prince, or state, may barely refuse it, without showing any marks of their displeasure. But the request, in its own nature, is highly criminal, and ought to be entered so upon record, to terrify others, in time to come, from venturing to make it.
Another maxim to be observed by a free state engaged in war, is, to keep the military power in absolute subjection to the civil, nor ever suffer the former to influence or interfere with the latter. A general and his army are servants, hired by the civil power to act, as they are directed thence, and with a commission large or limited, as the administration shall think fit; for which they are largely paid in profit and honour. The whole system, by which armies are governed, is quite alien from the peaceful institutions of states at home; and if the rewards be so inviting as to tempt a senator to take a post in the army, while he is there on his duty, he ought to consider himself in no other capacity. I know not any sort of men so apt as soldiers are, to reprimand those who presume to interfere in what relates to their trade. When they hear any of us, in a coffee house, wondering that such a victory was not pursued; complaining that such a town cost more men and money than it was worth to take it; or that such an opportunity was lost in fighting the enemy; they presently reprove us, and often with justice enough, for meddling with matters out of our sphere; and clearly convince us of our mistakes, by terms of art that none of us understand. Nor do we escape so; for they reflect with the utmost contempt on our ignorance; that we, who sit at home in ease and security, never stirring from our firesides, should pretend, from books and general reason, to argue upon military affairs; which, after all, if we may judge from the share of intellectuals in some who are said to excel that way, is not so very profound, or difficult a science. But, if there be any weight in what they offer, as perhaps there may be a great deal, surely these gentlemen have a much weaker pretence to concern themselves in matters of the cabinet, which are always either far above, or much beside their capacities. Soldiers may as well pretend to prescribe rules for trade, to determine points in philosophy, to be moderators in an assembly of divines, or direct in a court of justice, as to misplace their talent in examining affairs of state; especially in what relates to the choice of ministers, who are never so likely to be ill chosen as when approved by them. It would be endless to show how pernicious all steps of this nature have been in many parts and ages of the world. I shall only produce two at present; one in Rome, the other in England. The first is, of Cæsar: when he came to the city with his soldiers to settle the ministry, there was an end of their liberty for ever. The second was, in the great rebellion against king Charles the First: the king and both houses were agreed upon the terms of a peace; but the officers of the army (as Ludlow relates it) set a guard upon the house of commons, took a list of the members, and kept all by force out of the house, except those who were for bringing the king to a trial. Some years after, when they erected a military government, and ruled the island by major generals, we received most admirable instances of their skill in politicks. To say the truth, such formidable sticklers can have but two reasons for desiring to interfere in the administration; the first is, that of Cæsar and Cromwell; of which God forbid I should accuse or suspect any body, since the second is pernicious enough; and that is, to preserve those in power, who are for perpetuating a war, rather than see others advanced, who, they are sure, will use all proper means, to promote a safe and honourable peace.
Thirdly, since it is observed of armies, that in the present age they are brought to some degree of humanity, and more regular demeanor to each other and to the world, than in former times, it is certainly a good maxim to endeavour preserving this temper among them; without which, they would soon degenerate into savages. To this end it would be prudent, among other things, to forbid that detestable custom of drinking to the damnation or confusion of any person whatsoever.
Such desperate acts, and the opinions infused along with them into heads already inflamed by youth and wine, are enough to scatter madness and sedition through a whole camp. So seldom upon their knees to pray, and so often to curse! this is not properly atheism, but a sort of antireligion prescribed by the devil, and which an atheist of common sense would scorn as an absurdity. I have heard it mentioned as a common practice last autumn, somewhere or other, to drink damnation and confusion (and this with circumstances very aggravating and horrid) to the new ministry, and to those who had any hand in turning out the old; that is to say, to those persons whom her majesty has thought fit to employ in her greatest affairs, with something more than a glance against the queen herself. And if it be true, that these orgies were attended with certain doubtful words of standing by their general, who without question abhorred them, let any man consider the consequence of such dispositions, if they should happen to spread. I could only wish, for the honour of the army, as well as of the queen and ministry, that a remedy had been applied to the disease, in the place and time where it grew. If men of such principles were able to propagate them in a camp, and were sure of a general for life, who had any tincture of ambition, we might soon bid farewel to ministers and parliaments, whether new or old.
I am only sorry, such an accident has happened toward the close of a war; when it is chiefly the interest of those gentlemen, who have posts in the army, to behave themselves in such a manner, as might encourage the legislature to make some provision for them, when there will be no farther need of their services. They are to consider themselves as persons, by their education, unqualified for many other stations of life. Their fortunes will not suffer them to retain to a party after its fall, nor have they weight or abilities to help toward its resurrection. Their future dependence is wholly upon the prince and parliament, to which they will never make their way by solemn execrations of the ministry; a ministry of the queen's own election, and fully answering the wishes of her people. This unhappy step in some of their brethren, may pass for an uncontrollable argument, that politicks are not their business, or their element. The fortune of war has raised several persons up to swelling titles, and great commands over numbers of men, which they are too apt to transfer along with them into civil life, and appear in all companies, as if they were at the head of their regiments, with a sort of deportment that ought to have been dropt behind in that short passage to Harwich. It puts me in mind of a dialogue in Lucian, where Charon, wafting one of their predecessors over Styx, ordered him to strip off his armour and fine clothes, yet still thought him too heavy; "But, said he, put off likewise that pride and presumption, those high-swelling words, and that vain glory;" because they were of no use on the other side of the water. Thus, if all that array of military grandeur were confined to the proper scene, it would be much more for the interest of the owners, and less offensive to their fellow subjects.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1710.
— Ruituraque semper
Stat (mirum!) moles —
WHOEVER is a true lover of our constitution, must needs be pleased to see what successful endeavours are daily made, to restore it, in every branch, to its ancient form, from the languishing condition it has long lain in, and with such deadly symptoms.
I have already handled some abuses during the late management, and shall, in convenient time, go on with the rest. Hitherto I have confined myself to those of the state: but, with the good leave of some who think it a matter of small moment, I shall now take liberty to say something of the church.
For several years past there has not, I think, in Europe, been any society of men upon so unhappy a foot as the clergy of England; nor more hardly treated by those very persons, from whom they deserved much better quarter, and in whose power they chiefly had put it to use them so ill. I would not willingly misrepresent facts; but I think it generally allowed by enemies and friends, that the bold and brave defences made before the Revolution, against those many invasions of our rights, proceeded principally from the clergy; who are likewise known to have rejected all advances made them, to close with the measures at that time concerting; while the dissenters, to gratify their ambition and revenge, fell into the basest compliances with the court, approved of all proceedings by their numerous and fulsome addresses, and took employments and commissions by virtue of the dispensing power, against the direct laws of the land. All this is so true, that if ever the pretender comes in, they will, next to those of his own religion, have the fairest claim and pretensions to his favour, from their merit and eminent services to his supposed father; who, without such encouragement, would probably never have been misled to go the lengths he did. It should likewise be remembered, to the everlasting honour of the London divines, that in those dangerous times, they writ and published the best collection of arguments against popery, that ever appeared in the world. At the Revolution, the body of the clergy joined heartily in the common cause, except a few, whose sufferings perhaps have atoned for their mistakes; like men who are content to go about, for avoiding a gulf or a precipice, but come into the old straight road again, as soon as they can. But another temper had now begun to prevail: for, as in the reign of king Charles the First, several well-meaning people were ready to join in reforming some abuses, while others, who had deeper designs, were still calling out for a thorough reformation, which ended at last in the ruin of the kingdom; so, after the late king's coming to the throne, there was a restless cry from men of the same principles, for a thorough revolution; which, as some were carrying it on, must have ended in the destruction of the monarchy and church.
What a violent humour has run ever since against the clergy, and from what corner spread and fomented, is, I believe, manifest to all men. It looked like a set quarrel against christianity; and if we call to mind several of the leaders, it must in a great measure have been actually so. Nothing was more common, in writing and conversation, than to hear that reverend body charged in gross with what was utterly inconsistent; despised for their poverty, hated for their riches; reproached with avarice, and taxed with luxury; accused for promoting arbitrary power, and for resisting the prerogative; censured for their pride, and scorned for their meanness of spirit. The representatives of the lower clergy, were railed at for disputing the power of the bishops, by the known abhorrers of episcopacy; and abused for doing nothing in the convocations, by those very men, who helped to bind up their hands. The vice, the folly, the ignorance of every single man, were laid upon the character: their jurisdiction, censures, and discipline, trampled under foot; yet mighty complaints against their excessive power; the men of wit employed to turn the priesthood itself into ridicule: in short, groaning every where under the weight of poverty, oppression, contempt, and obloquy. A fair return for the time and money spent in their education, to fit them for the service of the altar; and a fair encouragement for worthy men to come into the church! However, it may be some comfort to the persons of that holy function, that their divine Founder, as well as his harbinger, met with the like reception: "John came neither eating or drinking, and they say, he hath a devil; the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, behold a glutton and a wine-bibber," &c.
In this deplorable state of the clergy, nothing but the hand of Providence, working by its glorious instrument the queen, could have been able to turn the people's hearts so surprisingly in their favour. This princess, destined for the safety of Europe, and a blessing to her subjects, began her reign with a noble benefaction to the church; and it was hoped the nation would have followed such an example; which nothing could have prevented, but the false politicks of a set of men, who form their maxims upon those of every tottering commonwealth, which is always struggling for life, subsisting by expedients, and often at the mercy of any powerful neighbour. These men take it into their imagination, that trade can never flourish, unless the country becomes a common receptacle for all nations, religions, and languages; a system only proper for small popular states, but altogether unworthy and below the dignity of an imperial crown; which, with us, is best upheld by a monarchy in possession of its just prerogative, a senate of nobles and of commons, and a clergy established in its due rights, with a suitable maintenance by law. But these men come, with the spirit of shopkeepers, to frame rules for the administration of kingdoms; or, as if they thought the whole art of government consisted in the importation of nutmegs, and the curing of herrings. Such an island as ours, can afford enough to support the majesty of a crown, the honour of a nobility, and the dignity of a magistracy: we can encourage arts and sciences, maintain our bishops and clergy, and suffer our gentry to live in a decent, hospitable manner; yet still there will remain hands sufficient for trade and manufactures, which do always indeed deserve the best encouragement, but not to a degree of sending every living soul into the warehouse on the workshop.
This pedantry of republican politicks has done infinite mischief among us. To this we owe those noble schemes of treating Christianity as a system of speculative opinions, which no man should be bound to believe; of making the being, and the worship of God, a creature of the state; in consequence of these, that the teachers of religion ought to hold their maintenance at pleasure, or live by the alms and charitable collection of the people, and be equally encouraged of all opinions; that they should be prescribed what to teach, by those who are to learn from them; and upon default, have a staff and a pair of shoes left at their door: with many other projects of equal piety, wisdom, and good nature.
But, God be thanked, they and their schemes are vanished, and their places shall know them no more. When I think of that inundation of atheism, infidelity, profaneness, and licentiousness, which was likely to overwhelm us, from what mouths and hearts it first proceeded, and how the people joined with the queen's endeavours to divert this flood, I cannot but reflect on that remarkable passage in the Revelation, where "the serpent with seven heads cast out of his mouth water after the woman like a flood, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood: but the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood, which the dragon had cast out of his mouth." For the queen having changed her ministry suitable to her own wisdom and the wishes of her subjects, and having called a free parliament, and at the same time summoned the convocation by her royal writ, as in all times had been accustomed; and soon after their meeting, sent a most gracious letter to the archbishop of Canterbury, to be communicated to the bishops, and clergy of his province; taking notice of "the loose and profane principles, which had been openly scattered and propagated among her subjects: that the consultations of the clergy, were particularly requisite to repress and prevent such daring attempts, for which her subjects from all parts of the kingdom have shown their just abhorrence: she hopes the endeavours of the clergy in this respect will not be unsuccessful; and for her part, is ready to give them all fit encouragement, to proceed in the dispatch of such business, as properly belongs to them; and to grant them powers requisite to carry on so good a work:" in conclusion, "earnestly recommending to them to avoid disputes; and determining to do all that in her lies, to compose and extinguish them."
It is to be hoped, that this last part of her majesty's letter, will be the first she will please to execute; for, it seems, this very letter created the first dispute; the fact whereof is thus related: the upper house, having formed an address to the queen before they received her majesty's letter, sent both address and letter together to the lower house, with a message excusing their not mentioning the letter in the address, because this was formed before the other was received. The lower house returned them, with a desire that an address might be formed with a due regard and acknowledgments for the letter. After some difficulties, the same address was sent down again, with a clause inserted making some short mention of the said letter. This the lower house did not think sufficient, and sent it back again with the same request: whereupon the archbishop, after a short consultation with some of his brethren, immediately adjourned the convocation for a month; and no address at all was sent to the queen.
I understand not ecclesiastical affairs well enough to comment upon this matter; but it seems to me, that all methods of doing service to the church and kingdom, by means of a convocation, may be at any time eluded, if there be no remedy against such an incident. And, if this proceeding be agreeable to the institution, spiritual assemblies must needs be strangely contrived, very different from any lay senate yet known in the world. Surely, from the nature of such a synod, it must be a very unhappy circumstance, when the majority of the bishops draws one way, and that of the lower clergy another. The latter, I think, are not at this time suspected for any principle bordering upon those professed by enemies to episcopacy; and if they happen to differ from the greater part of the present set of bishops, I doubt it will call some things to mind, that may turn the scale of general favour on the inferiour clergy's side; who, with a profound duty to her majesty, are perfectly pleased with the present turn of affairs. Besides, curious people will be apt to inquire into the dates of some promotions; to call to mind what designs were then upon the anvil: and thence make malicious deductions. Perhaps they will observe the manner of voting on the bishops bench, and compare it with what shall pass in the upper house of convocation. There is however one comfort; that under the present dispositions of the kingdom, a dislike to the proceedings of any of their lordships, even to the number of a majority, will be purely personal, and not turned to the disadvantage of the order. And for my part, as I am a true lover of the church, I would rather find the inclinations of the people favourable to episcopacy in general, than see a majority of prelates cried up by those, who are known enemies to the character. Nor indeed has any thing given me more offence for several years past, than to observe, how some of that bench have been caressed by certain persons; and others of them openly celebrated by the infamous pens of atheists, republicans, and fanaticks.
Time and mortality can only remedy these inconveniences in the church, which are not to be cured, like those in the state, by a change of ministry. If we may guess the temper of a convocation from the choice of a prolocutor, as it is usual to do that of a house of commons by the speaker, we may expect great things from that reverend body, who have done themselves much reputation, by pitching upon a gentleman of so much piety, wit, and learning, for that office; and one who is so thoroughly versed in those parts of knowledge, which are proper for it. I am sorry that the three Latin speeches, delivered upon presenting the prolocutor, were not made public; they might perhaps have given us some light into the disposition of each house: and besides, one of them is said to be so peculiar in the style and matter, as might have made up in entertainment, what it wanted in instruction.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, 1711.
Nullæ sunt occultiores insidiæ, quam eœ, quæ latent in simulatione officii, aut in aliquo necessitudinis nomine.
The EXAMINER cross-examined; or, A full Answer to the last EXAMINER.
IF I durst be so bold with this author, I would gladly ask him a familiar question; Pray, sir, who made you an examiner? He talks in one of his insipid papers of eight or nine thousand corruptions, while we were at the head of affairs; yet in all this time he has hardly produced fifty:
Parturiunt montes, &c.Hor.
But I shall confine myself at present to his last paper. He tells us, the queen began her reign with a noble benefaction to the church. Here's priestcraft with a witness! This is the constant language of your highfliers, to call those who are hired to teach the religion of the magistrate, by the name of the church. But this is not all; for in the very next line he says, it was hoped the nation would have followed this example. You see the faction begins already to speak out: this is an open demand for the abbey-lands; this furious zealot would have us priestridden again, like our popish ancestors; but it is to be hoped the government will take timely care to suppress such audacious attempts; else we have spent so much blood and treasure, to very little purpose, in maintaining religion and the revolution. But what can we expect from a man, who at one blow endeavours to ruin our trade? A country, says he, may flourish (these are his own words) without being the common receptacle for all nations, religions, and languages. What! we must immediately banish, or murder the Palatines; forbid all foreign merchants not only the Exchange but the kingdom; persecute the dissenters with fire and faggot; and make it high treason to speak any other tongue but English. In another place he talks of a serpent with seven heads, which is a manifest corruption of the text; for the words, seven heads, are not mentioned in that verse. However, we know what serpent he would mean; a serpent with fourteen legs; or indeed no serpent at all, but seven great men, who were the best ministers, the truest protestants, and the most disinterested patriots, that ever served a prince. But nothing is so inconsistent as this writer. I know not whether to call him a whig or a tory, a protestant or a papist; he finds fault with convocations; says, they are assemblies strangely contrived; and yet lays the fault upon us, that we bound their hands: I wish we could have bound their tongues too. But, as fast as their hands were bound, they could make a shift to hold their pens, and have their share in the guilt of ruining the hopefullest party and ministry, that ever prescribed to a crown. This captious gentleman is angry to see a majority of prelates cried up by those, who are enemies to the character: now I always thought, that the concessions of enemies, were more to a man's advantage, than the praise of his friends. Time and mortality, he says, can only remedy these inconveniencies in the church: that is, in other words, when certain bishops are dead, we shall have others of our own stamp. Not so fast; you are not yet so sure of your game. We have already got one comfortable loss in Spain, although by a general of our own: for joy of which, our junto had a merry meeting at the house of their great proselyte, on the very day we received the happy news. One or two more such blows would perhaps set us right again; and then we, can employ mortality as well as others. He concludes with wishing, that three letters, spoken when the prolocutor was presented, were made publick. I suppose he would be content with one; and that is more than we shall humour him to grant. However, I hope he will allow it possible to have grace, without either eloquence or Latin; which is all I shall say to this malicious innuendo.
Having thus, I hope, given a full and satisfactory answer to the Examiner's last paper, I shall now go on to a more important affair, which is, to prove by several undeniable instances, that the late ministry and their abettors were true friends to the church. It is yet, I confess, a secret to the clergy wherein this friendship did consist. For information therefore of that reverend body, that they may never forget their benefactors, as well as of all others who may be equally ignorant, I have determined to display our merits to the world upon that weighty article. And I could wish, that what I am to say were to be written in brass, for an eternal memorial; the rather, because for the future the church may endeavour to stand unsupported by those patrons, who expired in doing it their last good office, and will never rise to preserve it any more.
Let us therefore produce the pious endeavours of these church defenders, who were its patrons, by their power and authority, as well as ornaments of it, by their exemplary lives.
First, St. Paul tells us, there must be heresies in the church, that the truth may be manifest; and therefore, by due course of reasoning, the more heresies there are, the more manifest will the truth be made. This being maturely considered by these lovers of the church, they endeavoured to propagate as many heresies as they could, that the light of truth might shine the clearer.
Secondly, To show their zeal for the church's defence, they took the care of it entirely out of the hands of God Almighty, (because that was a foreign jurisdiction) and made it their own creature, depending altogether upon them; and issued out their orders to Tindal, and others, to give publick notice of it.
Thirdly, Because charity is the most celebrated of all christian virtues, therefore they extended theirs beyond all bounds; and instead of shutting the church against dissenters, were ready to open it to all comers, and break down its walls, rather than that any should want room to enter. The strength of a state, we know, consists in the number of people, how different soever in their callings; and why should not the strength of a church consist in the same, how different soever in their creeds? For that reason, they charitably attempted to abolish the test, which tied up so many hands from getting employments, in order to protect the church.
I know very well, that this attempt is objected to us as a crime by several malignant tories; and denied as a slander, by many unthinking people among ourselves. The latter are apt, in their defence, to ask such questions as these; Was your test repealed? had we not a majority? might we not have done it, if we pleased? To which the others answer, you did what you could: you prepared the way, but you found a fatal impediment from that quarter whence the sanction of the law must come; and therefore, to save your credit, you condemned a paper to be burnt, which yourselves had brought in. But alas! the miscarriage of that noble project for the safety of the church, had another original; the knowledge whereof depends upon a piece of secret history, which I shall now lay open.
These church-protectors had directed a presbyterian preacher to draw up a bill for repealing the test. It was accordingly done with great art; and in the preamble, several expressions of civility to the established church; and when it came to the qualifications of all those who were to enter on any office, the compiler had taken special care to make them large enough for all christians whatsoever, by transcribing the very words (only formed into an oath) which quakers are obliged to profess by a former act of parliament; as I shall here set them down: "I, A. B. profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, the true God; and in the Holy Spirit, one God, blessed for evermore; and do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament, to be given by divine inspiration." This bill was carried to the chief leaders, for their approbation, with these terrible words turned into an oath: What should they do? Those few among them, who fancied they believed in God, were sure they did not believe in Christ, or the Holy Spirit, or one syllable of the Bible; and they were as sure that every body knew their opinion in those matters, which indeed they had been always too sincere to disguise; how therefore could they take such an oath as that, without ruining their reputation with Tindal, Toland, Coward, Collins, Clendon, and all the tribe of freethinkers, and so give a scandal to weak unbelievers? Upon this nice point of honour and conscience, the matter was hushed, the project for repealing the test let fall, and the sacrament left as the smaller evil of the two.
Fourthly, These pillars of the church, because the harvest was great, and the labourers few, and because they would ease the bishops from the grievous trouble of laying on hands, were willing to allow that power to all men whatsoever, to prevent that terrible consequence of unchurching those, who thought a hand from under a cloak, as effectual as from lawn sleeves. And indeed what could more contribute to the advancement of true religion, than a bill of general naturalization for priesthood?
Fifthly, In order to fix religion in the minds of men, because truth never appears so fair as when confronted with falsehood, they directed books to be published, that denied the being of a God, the divinity of the Second and Third Person, the truth of all revelation, and the immortality of the soul. To this we owe that great sense of religion, that respect and kindness of the clergy, and that true love of virtue, so manifest of late years among the youth of our nation. Nor could any thing be more discreet, than to leave the merits of each cause, to such wise, impartial judges; who might otherwise fall under the slavery of believing, by education and prejudice.
Sixthly, Because nothing so much distracts the thoughts, as too great a variety of subjects, therefore they had kindly prepared a bill to prescribe the clergy what subjects they should preach upon, and in what manner, that they might be at no loss; and this no doubt was a proper work for such hands, so thoroughly versed in the theory and practice of all Christian duties.
Seventhly, To save trouble and expense to the clergy, they contrived that convocations should meet as seldom as possible; and when they were suffered to assemble, would never allow them to meddle with any business; because, they said, the office of a clergyman was enough to take up the whole man. For the same reason they were very desirous to excuse the bishops from sitting in parliament, that they might be at more leisure to stay at home, and look after the inferiour clergy.
I shall mention at present but one more instance of their pious zeal for the church. They had somewhere heard the maxim, that Sanguis martyrum est semen ecclesiæ; therefore, in order to sow this seed, they began with impeaching a clergyman: and that it might be a true martyrdom in every circumstance, they proceeded as much as possible against common law: which the long-robe part of the managers knew, was in a hundred instances directly contrary to all their positions, and were sufficiently warned of it beforehand; but their love of the church prevailed. Neither was this impeachment an affair taken up on a sudden; for a certain great person, (whose character has been lately published by some stupid and lying writer) who very much distinguished himself by his zeal in forwarding this impeachment, had several years ago, endeavoured to persuade the late king to give way to just such another attempt. He told his majesty, there was a certain clergyman, who preached very dangerous sermons, and that the only way to put a stop to such insolence, was, to impeach him in parliament. The king inquired the character of the man: O sir, said my lord, the most violent, hot, positive fellow in England; so extremely wilful, that I believe he would be heartily glad to be a martyr. The king answered, Is it so? then I am resolved to disappoint him; and would never hear more of the matter, by which that hopeful project unhappily miscarried.
I have hitherto confined myself to those endeavours for the good of the church, which were common to all the leaders and principal men of our party; but, if my paper were not drawing toward an end, I could produce several instances of particular persons, who, by their exemplary lives and actions, have confirmed the character so justly due to the whole body. I shall at present mention only two, and illustrate the merits of each by a matter of fact.
That worthy patriot and true lover of the church, whom a late Examiner is supposed to reflect on under the name of Verres, felt a pious impulse to be a benefactor to the cathedral of Gloucester; but how to do it in the most decent, generous manner, was the question. At last he thought of an expedient: one morning, or night, he stole into the church, mounted upon the altar, and there did that, which, in cleanly phrase, is called disburdening of nature. He was discovered, prosecuted, and condemned to pay a thousand pounds; which sum was all employed to support the church, as no doubt the benefactor meant it.
There is another person, whom the same writer is thought to point at under the name of Will Bigamy. This gentleman, knowing that marriage fees were a considerable perquisite to the clergy, found out a way of improving them cent per cent for the good of the church. His invention was to marry a second wife, while the first was alive, convincing her of the lawfulness, by such arguments, as he did not doubt would make others follow the same example. These he had drawn up in writing, with an intention to publish for the general good: and it is hoped, he may now have leisure to finish them.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 1710-11.
Bellum ita suscipiatur, ut nihil aliud nisi Pax quæsita videatur.
War should be undertaken only with a view to procure a solid and lasting peace.
I AM satisfied, that no reasonable man of either party can justly be offended at any thing I said in one of my papers relating to the army. From the maxims I there laid down, perhaps many persons may conclude, that I had a mind the world should think there had been occasion given by some late abuses among men of that calling; and they conclude right: for my intention is, that my hints may be understood, and my quotations and allegories applied; and I am in some pain to think, that in the Orcades on one side, and the western coasts of Ireland on the other, the Examiner may want a key in several parts, which I wish I could furnish them with. As to the French king, I am under no concern at all: I hear he has left off reading my papers, and by what he has found in them, dislikes our proceedings more than ever; and intends, either to make great additions to his armies, or propose new terms for a peace. So false is that which is commonly reported, of his mighty satisfaction in our change of ministry. And I think it clear, that his late letter of thanks to the tories of Great Britain, must either have been extorted from him, against his judgment; or was a cast of his politicks, to set the people against the present ministry; wherein it has wonderfully succeeded.
But, though I have never heard, or never regarded, any objections made against that paper, which mentions the army; yet I intended this as a sort of apology for it. And first I declare (because we live in a mistaking world) that at hinting at some proceedings, wherein a few persons are said to be concerned, I did not intend to charge them upon the body of the army. I have too much detested that barbarous injustice among the writers of a late party to be ever guilty of it myself; I mean, the accusing of societies for the crimes of a few. On the other side, I must take leave to believe, that armies are no more exempt from corruptions, than other numbers of men. The maxims proposed were occasionally introduced by the report of certain facts, which I am bound to believe are true, because I am sure, considering what has passed, it would be a crime to think otherwise. All posts in the army, all employments at court, and many others, are, or ought to be, given and resumed at the mere pleasure of the prince; yet, when I see a great officer broke, a change made in the court, or the ministry, and this under the most just and gracious princess that ever reigned, I must naturally conclude, it is done upon prudent considerations, and for some great demerit in the sufferers. But then, is not the punisliment sufficient? Is it generous or charitable, to trample on the unfortunate, and expose their faults to the world in the strongest colours? And would it not suit better with magnanimity, as well as common good nature, to leave them at quiet to their own thoughts and repentance? Yes, without question; provided it could be so contrived, that their very names, as well as actions, might be forgotten for ever: such an act of oblivion would be for the honour of the nation, and beget a better opinion of us with posterity; and then I might have spared the world and myself the trouble of examining. But at present there is a cruel dilemma in the case; the friends and abettors of the late ministry, are every day publishing their praises to the world, and casting reflections upon the present persons in power. This is so barefaced an aspersion upon the queen, that I know not how any good subject can with patience endure it, although he were ever so indifferent with regard to the opinions in dispute. Shall they, who have lost all power and love of the people, be allowed to scatter their poison? and shall not those, who are at least of the strongest side, be suffered to bring an antidote? And how can we undeceive the deluded remainder, but by letting them see, that these discarded statesmen were justly laid aside; and producing as many instances to prove it as we can; not from any personal hatred to them, but in justification to the best of queens. The many scurrilities I have heard and read against this poor paper of mine, are in such a strain, that, considering the present state of affairs, they look like a jest. They usually run after the following manner: "What! Shall this insolent writer presume to censure the late ministry, the ablest, the most faithful, and truest lovers of their country and its constitution, that ever served a prince? Shall he reflect on the best house of commons that ever sat within those walls? Has not the queen changed both, for a ministry and parliament of Jacobites and highfliers, who are sellng us to France, and bringing over the pretender?" This is the very sum and force of all their reasonings, and this is their method of complaining against the Examiner. In them, it is humble and loyal to reflect upon the queen, and the ministry and parliament she has chosen with the universal applause of her people: in us, it is insolent to defend her majesty and her choice, or to answer their objections, by showing the reasons why those changes were necessary.
The same style has been used in the late case concerning some gentlemen in the army. Such a clamour was raised by a set of men, who had the boldness to tax the administration with cruelty and injustice, that I thought it necessary to interfere a little, by showing the ill consequences that might arise from some proceedings, although without application to particular persons. And what do they offer in answer? Nothing but a few poor common places against calumny and informers; which might have been full as just and seasonable in a plot against the sacred person of the queen.
But by the way, why are these idle people so condemned criminal refused to join with them for the reward of his life? Not that I disapprove their sagacity, who could foretel so long before by what hand they should one day fall, and therefore thought any means justifiable, by which they might prevent it.to name those two words, which afford occasion of laying open to the world such an infamous scene of subornation and perjury, as well as calumny and informing, as, I believe, is without example; when a whole cabal attempted an action, wherein a
But, Miltiades should be set up alone in some public place of the city, said, they would agree to it, whenever he conquered alone, but not before. Neither do I at all blame the officers of the army for preferring in their hearts the late ministry before the present; or, if wishing alone could be of any use, for wishing their continuance, because then they might be secure of the wear's continuance too: whereas, since affairs have been put into other hands, they may perhaps lie under some apprehensions of a peace; which no army, especially in the course of success, was ever inclined to; and which all wise states have in such a juncture chiefly endeavoured. This is a point, wherein the civil and military politicks have always disagreed: and for that reason I affirmed it necessary, in all free governments, that the latter should be absolutely in subjection to the former; otherwise one of these two inconveniences must arise, either to be perpetually in war, or to turn the civil institution into a military.this at present, it must be owned in justice to the army, that those violences did not proceed so far among them as some have believed; nor ought the madness of a few to be laid at their doors. For the rest, I am so far from denying the due praises to those brave troops, who did their part in procuring so many victories for the allies; that I could wish every officer and private soldier had their full share of honour in proportion to their deserts; being thus far of the Athenians mind, who, when it was proposed that the statue of
I am ready to allow all that has been said of the valour and experience of our troops, who have fully contributed their part to the great successes abroad; nor is it their fault that those important victories had no better consequences at home, though it may be their advantage. War is their trade and business: to improve and cultivate the advantages of success, is an affair of the cabinet; and the neglect of this, whether proceeding from weakness or corruption, according to the usual uncertainty of wars, may be of the most fatal consequence to a nation. For, pray let me represent our condition in such a light, as I believe both parties will allow, though perhaps not the consequences I shall deduce from it. We have been for above nine years blessed with a queen, who, beside all virtues that can enter into the composition of a private person, possesses every regal quality that can contribute to make a people happy: of great wisdom, yet ready to receive the advice of her counsellors: of much discernment in choosing proper instruments, when she follows her own judgment; and only capable of being deceived by that excess of goodness, which makes her judge of others by herself: frugal in her management, in order to contribute to the publick, which in proportion she does, and that voluntarily, beyond any of her subjects; but from her own nature generous and charitable to all, who want or deserve; and, in order to exercise those virtues, denying herself all entertainments of expense, which many others enjoy. Then, if we look abroad, at least in Flanders, our arms have been crowned with perpetual success in battles and sieges; not to mention several fortunate actions in Spain. These facts being thus stated, which none can deny; it is natural to ask, how we have improved such advantages, and to what account they have turned? I shall use no discouraging terms. When a patient grows daily worse by the tampering of mountebanks, there is nothing left but to call in the best physicians, before the case grows desperate. But I would ask, whether France, or any other kingdom, would have made so little use of such prodigious opportunities? the fruits whereof could never have fallen to the ground without the extremest degree of folly and corruption; and where those have lain, let the world judge. Instead of aiming at peace, while we had the advantage of the war, which has been the perpetual maxim of all wise states, it has been reckoned factious and malignant even to express our wishes for it; and such a condition imposed, as was never offered to any prince, who had an inch of ground to dispute; quæ enim est conditio pacis, in qua ei, cum quo pacem facias, nihil concedi potest?
It is not obvious to conceive what could move men, who sat at home, and were called to consult upon the good of the kingdom, to be so utterly averse from putting an end to a long, expensive war, which the victorious, as well as conquered, side, were heartily weary of. Few, or none of them, were men of the sword; they had no share in the honour; they had made large fortunes, and were at the head of all affairs. But they well knew by what tenure they held their power; that the queen saw through their designs; that they had entirely lost the hearts of the clergy; that the landed men were against them; that they were detested by the body of the people; and that nothing bore them up but their credit with the bank, and other stocks, which would be neither formidable nor necessary, when the war was at an end. For these reasons they resolved to disappoint all overtures of a peace, until they and their party should be so deeply rooted, as to make it impossible to shake them. To this end they began to precipitate matters so fast, as in a little time must have ruined the constitution, if the crown had not interposed, and rather ventured the accidental effects of their malice, than such dreadful consequences of their power. And indeed if the former danger had been greater than some hoped or feared, I see no difficulty in the choice, which was the same with his, who said, he would rather be devoured by wolves than by rats. I therefore still insist, that we cannot wonder at, or find fault with, the army for concurring with the ministry, which was for prolonging the war. The inclination is natural in them all; pardonable in those who have not yet made their fortunes; and as lawful in the rest, as love of power, or love of money, can make it. But, as natural, as pardonable, and as lawful as this inclination is, when it is not under check of the civil power; or when a corrupt ministry joins in giving it too great a scope, the consequence can be nothing less than infallible ruin and slavery to the state.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 1710-11.
Parva momenta in spem metumque impellunt animos.
The meerest trifles influence the human mind, and impel it to hope or fear.
HOPES are natural to most men, especially to sanguine complexions; and among the various changes that happen in the course of public affairs, they are seldom without some grounds. Even in desperate cases, where it is impossible they should have any foundation, they are often affected to keep a countenance, and make an enemy think we have some resource, which they know nothing of. This appears to have been for several months past the condition of those people, whom I am forced, for want of other phrases, to call the ruined party. They have taken up, since their fall, some real, and some pretended hopes. When the earl of Sunderland was discarded, they hoped her majesty would proceed no farther in the change of her ministry; and had the insolence to misrepresent her words to foreign states. They hoped, nobody durst advise the dissolution of the parliament. When this was done, and farther alterations made in court, they hoped, and endeavoured to ruin the credit of the nation. They likewise hoped, that we should have some terrible loss abroad, which would force us to unravel all, and begin again upon their bottom. But, of all their hopes, whether real or assumed, there is none more extraordinary than that in which they now would seem to place their whole confidence: that this great turn of affairs was only occasioned by a short madness of the people, from which they will recover in a little time, when their eyes are open, and they grow cool and sober enough to consider the truth of things, and how much they have been deceived. It is not improbable, that some few of the deepest sighted among these reasoners are well enough convinced, how vain all such hopes must be: but for the rest, the wisest of them seem to have been very ill judges of the people's dispositions; the want of which knowledge was a principal occasion to hasten their ruin; for surely, had they suspected which way the popular current inclined, they never would have run against it by that impeachment. I therefore conclude, they generally are so blind as to imagine some comfort from this fantastical opinion; that the people of England are at present distracted, but will shortly come to their senses again.
For the service therefore of our adversaries and friends, I shall briefly examine this point, by showing what are the causes and symptoms of a people's madness; and how it differs from their natural bent and inclination.
It is Machiavel's observation, that the people, when left to their own judgment, do seldom mistake their true interests; and indeed they naturally love the constitution they are born under; never desiring to change, but under great oppressions. However, they are to be deceived by several means. It has often happened in Greece, and sometimes in Rome, that those very men who have contributed to shake off a former tyranny, have, instead of restoring the old constitution, deluded the people into a worse and more ignominious slavery. Besides, all great changes have the same effects upon commonwealths, that thunder has upon liquors, making the dregs fly up to the top; the lowest plebeians rise to the head of affairs, and there preserve themselves, by representing the nobles, and other friends to the old government, as enemies to the publick. The encouraging of new mysteries and new deities, with the pretences of farther purity in religion, has likewise been a frequent topick to mislead the people. And not to mention more, the promoting false reports of dangers from abroad, has often served to prevent them from fencing against real dangers at home. By these and the like arts, in conjunction with a great depravity of manners, and a weak or corrupt administration, the madness of the people has risen to such a height, as to break in pieces the whole frame of the best instituted governments But however, such great frenzies, being artificially raised, are a perfect force and constraint upon human nature; and under a wise steady prince, will certainly decline of themselves, settling like the sea after a storm; and then the true bent and genius of the people will appear. Ancient and modern story are full of instances to illustrate what I say.
In our own island we had a great example of a long madness in the people, kept up by a thousand artifices, like intoxicating medicines, until the constitution was destroyed; yet the malignity being spent, and the humour exhausted that served to foment it, before the usurpers could fix upon a new scheme, the people suddenly recovered, and peaceably restored the old constitution.
From what I have offered, it will be easy to decide, whether this late change in the disposition of the people was a new madness, or a recovery from an old one. Neither do I see how it can be proved, that such a change had, in any circumstance, the least symptoms of madness, whether my description of it be right or not. It is agreed, that the truest way of judging the disposition of the people in the choice of their representatives, is, by computing the county elections; and in these it is manifest, that five in six are entirely for the present measures; although the court was so far from interposing its credit, that there was no change in the admiralty, not above one or two in the lieutenancy, nor any other methods used to influence elections. The free, unextorted addresses, sent some time before from every part of the kingdom, plainly showed, what sort of bent the people had taken, and from what motives. The election of members for this great city, carried, contrary to all conjecture, against the united interest of those two great bodies, the Bank and East India company, was another convincing argument. Besides, the whigs themselves have always confessed, that the bulk of landed men in England was generally of tories. So that this change must be allowed to be according to the natural genius and disposition of the people; whether it were just and reasonable in itself, or not.
Notwithstanding all which, you shall frequently hear the partisans of the late men in power, gravely and decisively pronounce, that the present ministry cannot possibly stand. Now they who affirm this, if they believe themselves, must ground their opinion upon the iniquity of the last being so far established and deeply rooted, that no endeavours of honest men will be able to restore things to their former state. Or else these reasoners have been so misled by twenty years mismanagement, that they have forgot our constitution, and talk as if our monarchy and revolution began together. But the body of the people is wiser; and by the choice they have made, show they do understand our constitution, and would bring it back to the old form; which if the new ministers take care to maintain, they will and ought to stand; otherwise they may fall like their predecessors. But I think, we may easily foresee what a parliament, freely chosen, without threatening or corruption, is likely to do, when no man should be in any danger to lose his place by the freedom of his voice.
But, who are the advancers of this opinion, that the present ministry cannot hold? It must be either such as are afraid to be called to an account in case it should hold; or those who keep offices, from which others, better qualified, were removed, and may reasonably apprehend to be turned out for worthier men to come into their places; since perhaps it will be necessary to make some changes that the public business of the nation may go on: or lastly, stockjobbers, who industriously spread such reports, that actions may fall, and their friends buy to advantage.
Yet these hopes, thus freely expressed, as they are more sincere, so they are more supportable, than when they appear under the disguise and pretence of fears. Some of these gentlemen are employed to shake their heads in proper companies; to doubt where all this will end; to be in mighty pain for the nation; to show how impossible it is, that the public credit can be supported; to pray that all may do well, in whatever hands; but very much to doubt, that the pretender is at the bottom. I know not any thing so nearly resembling this behaviour, as what I have often seen among the friends of a sick man, whose interest it is that he should die. The physicians protest they see no danger, the symptoms are good, the medicines answer expectation; yet still they are not to be comforted; they whisper, he is a gone man, it is not possible he should hold out; he has perfect death in his face; they never liked his doctor. At last, the patient recovers, and their joy is as false as their grief.
I believe there is no man so sanguine, who did not apprehend some ill consequences from the late change; though not in any proportion to the good ones: but it is manifest, the former have proved much fewer and lighter than were expected, either at home or abroad, the fears of our friends, or the hopes of our enemies. Those remedies, that stir the humours in a diseased body, are at first more painful than the malady itself; yet certain death is the consequence of deferring them too long. Actions have fallen, and the loans are said to come in slowly. But beside that something of this must have been, whether there had been any change or not; beside that the surprise of every change, for the better as well as the worse, is apt to affect credit for a while; there is a farther reason, which is plain, and scandalous. When the late party was at the helm, those who were called the tories, never put their resentments in balance with the safety of the nation; but cheerfully contributed to the common cause: now the scene is changed, the fallen party seems to act from very different motives; they have given the word about: they will keep their money, and be passive: and, in this point, stand upon the same foot with papists and nonjurors. What would have become of the publick, if the present great majority had acted thus during the late administration, before the others were masters of that wealth they have squeezed out of the landed men, and with the strength of which they would now hold the kingdom at defiance?
Thus much I have thought fit to say, without pointing reflections upon any particular person, which I have hitherto but sparingly done, and that only toward those whose characters are too profligate, for the managing of them to be of any consequence. Besides, as it is a talent I am not naturally fond of, so, in the subjects I treat, it is generally needless. If I display the effects of avarice and ambition, of bribery and corruption, of gross immorality and irreligion; those who are the least conversant in things, will easily know where to apply them. Not that I lay any weight upon the objections of such who charge me with this proceeding; it is notorious enough, that the writers of the other side were the first aggressors. Not to mention their scurrilous libels, many years ago, directly levelled at particular persons; how many papers do now come out every week, full of rude invectives against the present ministry, with the first and last letters of their names to prevent mistakes! It is good sometimes to let these people see, that we neither want spirit nor materials to retaliate; and therefore, in this point alone, I shall follow their example, whenever I find myself sufficiently provoked; only with one addition, that whatever charges I bring, either general or particular, shall be religiously true, founded either upon avowed facts which none can deny, or such as I can prove from my own knowledge.
Being resolved publickly to confess any mistakes I have been guilty of, I do hereby humbly desire the reader's pardon for one of mighty importance, about a fact in one of my papers said to be done in the cathedral of Gloucester. A whole Hydra of errours, in two words! For, as I am since informed, it was neither in the cathedral, nor city, nor county of Gloucester, but some other church of that diocese. If I had ever met any other objection of equal weight, although from the meanest hands, I should certainly have answered it.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 25, 1710–11.
Διαλεξαμενοί τινα ἡσυχῇ, τὸ μὲν σῦμπαν ἐπί τε τῇ δυναστείᾳ, καὶ κατὰ τῶν ἐχθροῖν συνώμοσαν.
NOT many days ago I observed a knot of discontented gentlemen, cursing the tories to Hell for their uncharitableness in affirming, that if the late ministry had continued to this time, we should have had neither church nor monarchy left. They are usually so candid, as to call that the opinion of the party, which they hear in a coffee-house, or over a bottle, from some warm young people, whom it is odds but they have provoked to say more than they believed, by some positions as absurd and ridiculous of their own. And so it proved in this very instance: for, asking one of these gentlemen what it was that provoked those he had been disputing with to advance such a paradox; he assured me, in a very calm manner, it was nothing in the world but that himself, and some others of the company, had made it appear, that the design of the present parliament and ministry, was, to bring in popery, arbitrary power, and the pretender: which I take to be an opinion fifty times more improbable, as well as more uncharitable, than what is charged upon the whigs; because I defy our adversaries to produce one single reason for suspecting such designs in the persons now at the helm; whereas I can, upon demand, produce twenty to show, that some late men had strong: views toward a commonwealth, and the alteration of the church.
It is natural indeed, when a storm is over, that has only untiled our houses, and blown down some of our chimnies, to consider what farther mischiefs might have ensued, if it had lasted longer. However, in the present case I am not of the opinion abovementioned. I believe the church and state might have lasted somewhat longer, although the late enemies to both had done their worst. I can hardly conceive, how things would have been so soon ripe for a new revolution. I am convinced that if they had offered to make such large and sudden strides, it must have come to blows; and according to the computation we have now reason to think a right one, I can partly guess what would have been the issue. Besides, we are sure the queen would have interposed, before they came to extremities; and as little as they regarded the regal authority, would have been a check in their career.
But instead of this question. What would have been the consequence, if the late ministry had continued? I will propose another which will be more useful for us to consider; and that is, What may we reasonably expect they will do, if ever they come into power again? This, we know, is the design and endeavour of all those scribbles which daily fly about in their favour; of all the false, insolent, and scandalous libels against the present administration; and of all those engines, set at work to sink the actions and blow up the publick credit. As for those who show their inclinations by writing, there is one consideration, which I wonder does not sometimes affect them: for, how can they forbear having a good opinion of the gentleness and innocence of those, who permit them to employ their pens as they do? It puts me in mind of an insolent, pragmatical orator somewhere in Greece, who railing with great freedom at the chief men in the state, was answered by one, who had been very instrumental in recovering the liberty of the city, that he thanked the gods, they had now arrived to the condition he always wished them in, when every man in that city might securely say what he pleased. I wish these gentlemen would however compare the liberty they take, with what their masters used to give; how many messengers and warrants would have gone out against any who durst have opened their lips, or drawn their pens against the persons and proceedings of their juntoes and cabals? How would their weekly writers have been calling out for prosecution and punishment? We remember, when a poor nickname, borrowed from an old play of Ben Jonson, and mentioned in a sermon without any particular , was made use of as a motive to spur on an impeachment. But after all it must be confessed, they had reasons to be thus severe, which their successors have not: their faults would never endure the light; and to have exposed them sooner would have raised the kingdom against the actors, before the proper time.
But, to come to the subject I have now undertaken, which is, to examine what the consequences would be, upon supposition that the whigs were now restored to their power. I already imagine the present free parliament dissolved, and another of a different epithet met, by the force of money and management. I read immediately a dozen or two of stinging votes against the proceedings of the late ministry. The bill now to be repealed would then be reenacted, and the birthright of an Englishman reduced again to the value of twelve-pence. But, to give the reader a strong imagination of such a scene, let me represent the designs of some men, lately endeavoured and projected, in the form of a paper of votes.
"That a bill be brought in for repealing the sacramental test.
"A petition of Tindal, Collins, Clendon, Coward, and Toland, in behalf of themselves and many hundreds of their disciples, some of whom are members of this honourable house; desiring that leave may be given to bring in a bill for qualifing atheists, deists, and socinians to serve their country in any employment ecclesiastical, civil, or military.
"That a bill be brought in for removing the education of youth out of the hands of the clergy.
"Another to forbid the clergy preaching certain duties in religion; especially obedience to princes.
"Another to take away the jurisdiction of bishops.
"Another for constituting a general for life; with instructions to the committee, that care may be taken to make the war last as long as the life of the said general.
"A bill of attainder against Charles duke of Shrewsbury, John duke of Buckingham, Laurence earl of Rochester, sir Simon Harcourt, knight, Robert Harley and William Shippen, esquires, Abigail Masham, spinster, and others, for high treason against the junto,
"That by the original compact, the government of this realm is by a junto, and a king, or queen; but the administration solely in the junto.
"That a bill be brought in for farther limiting the prerogative.
"That it be a standing order of this house, that the merit of elections be not determined by the number of voices, or right of electors, but by weight; and that one whig shall weigh down ten tories.
"A motion being made, and the question being put, that when a whig is detected of manifest bribery, and his competitor, being a tory, has ten to one a majority, there shall be a new election; it passed in the negative.
"That for a king, or queen of this realm, to read, or examine, a paper brought them to be signed by a junto minister, is arbitrary and illegal, and a violation of the liberties of the people."
These, and the like reformations, would in all probability be the first fruits of the whigs resurrection; and what structures such able artists might In a short time build upon such foundations, I leave others to conjecture. All hopes of a peace cut off; the nation industriously involved in farther debts, to a degree that none would dare undertake the management of affairs, but those whose interest lay in ruining the constitution; I do not see how the wisest prince, under such necessities, could be able to extricate himself. Then as to the church; the bishops would by degrees be dismissed, first from the parliament, next from their revenues, and at last from their office; and the clergy, instead of their idle claim of independency on the state, would be forced to depend for their daily bread on every individual. But what system of future government was designed; whether it were already digested, or would have been left for time and incidents to mature, I shall not now examine. Only upon this occasion I cannot help reflecting on a fact, which it is probable the reader knows as well as myself. There was a picture drawn some time ago, representing five persons, as large as the life, sitting in council together, like a pentarchy; a void space was left for the sixth, which was to have been the queen, to whom they intended that honour; but her majesty having since fallen under their displeasure, they have made a shift to crowd in two better friends in her place, which makes it a complete heptarchy. This piece is now in the country, reserved until better times; and hangs in the hall among the pictures of Cromwell, Bradshaw, Ireton, and some other predecessors.
I must now desire leave to say something to a gentleman who has been pleased to publish a discourse against a paper of mine, relating to the convocation. He promises to set me right without any undue reflections, or indecent language. I suppose he means, in comparison with others who pretend to answer the Examiner. So far he is right; but, if he thinks he has behaved himself as becomes a candid antagonist, I believe he is mistaken. He says in his title page, my representations are unfair, and my reflexions unjust: and his conclusion is yet more severe; where he doubts I and my friends are enraged against the Dutch, because they preserved us from popery and arbitrary power at the Revolution; and since that time from being overrun by the exorbitant power of France, and becoming a prey to the pretender. Because this author seems in general to write with an honest meaning, I would seriously put to him the question, whether he thinks, I and my friends are for popery, arbitrary power, France, and the pretender? I omit other instances of smaller moment, which however do not suit in my opinion with due reflection, or decent language. The fact relating to the convocation came from a good hand; and I do not find this author differs from me in any material circumstance about it. My reflections were no more than what might be obvious to any other gentleman, who had heard of their late proceedings. If the notion be right, which this author gives us of a lower house of convocation, it is a very melancholy one; and to me seems utterly inconsistent with that of a body of men, whom he owns to have a negative: and therefore, since a great majority of the clergy differs from him in several points he advances, I shall rather choose to be of their opinion than his. I fancy when the whole synod met in one house, as this writer affirms, they were upon a better foot with their bishops; and therefore, whether this treatment, so extremely de haut en bas, since their exclusion, be suitable to primitive custom or primitive humility toward brethren, is not my business to inquire. One may allow the divine or apostolick right of episcopacy, and its great superiority over presbyters; and yet dispute the methods of exercising the latter, which, being of human institution, are subject to encroachments and usurpations. I know, every clergyman in a diocese has a great deal of dependence upon his bishop, and owes him canonical obedience: but I was apt to think, that when the whole representative of the clergy met in a synod, they were considered in another light; at least since they are allowed to have a negative. If I am mistaken, I desire to be excused, as talking out of my trade; only there is one thing, wherein I entirely differ from this author: since, in the disputes about privileges, one side must recede; where so very few privileges remain, it is a hundred to one odds, that the encroachments are not on the inferiour clergy's side; and no man can blame them for insisting on the small number that is left. There is one fact, wherein I must take occasion to set this author right: that the person, who first moved the queen to remit the first-fruits and tenths to the clergy, was an eminent instrument in the late turn of affairs; and, I am told, has lately prevailed to have the same favour granted for the clergy of Ireland.
But I must beg leave to inform this author, that my paper is not intended for the management of controversy; which would be of very little import to most readers, and only mispend time, that I would gladly employ to better purposes. For where it is a man's business to entertain a whole room-full, it is unmannerly to apply himself to a particular person, and turn his back upon the rest of the company.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 1710-11.
I AM thinking what a mighty advantage it is to be entertained as a writer to a ruined cause. I remember a fanatic preacher, who was inclined to come into the church, and take orders; but upon mature thoughts, was diverted from that design, when he considered, that the collections of the godly were a much heartier and readier penny, than he could get by wrangling for tithes. He certainly had reason; and the two cases are parallel. If you write in defence of a fallen party, you are maintained by contribution, as a necessary person: you have little more to do than to carp and cavil at those who hold the pen on the other side; you are sure to be celebrated and caressed by all your party, to a man: you may affirm and deny what you please without truth or probability, since it is but loss of time to contradict you. Besides, commiseration is often on your side; and you have a pretence to be thought honest and disinterested for adhering to friends in distress: after which, if your friends ever happen to turn up again, you have a strong fund of merit toward making your fortune. Then, you never fail to be well furnished with materials, every one bringing in his quota, and falsehood being naturally more plentiful than truth: not to mention the wonderful delight of libelling men in power, and hugging yourself in a corner with mighty satisfaction for what you have done.
It is quite otherwise with us, who engage as volunteers in the service of a flourishing ministry, in full credit with the queen, and beloved by the people; because they have no sinister ends or dangerous designs; but pursue with steadiness and resolution the true interest of both. Upon which account they little want or desire our assistance; and we may write till the world is weary of residing, without having our pretences allowed, either to a place or a pension: besides, we are refused the common benefit of the party, to have our works cried up of course: the readers of our own side being as ungentle, and hard to please, as if we writ against them: and our papers never make their way in the world, but barely in proportion to their merit. The design of their labours who write on the conquered side, is likewise of greater importance than ours: they are like cordials for dying men, which must be repeated; whereas ours are, in the Scripture phrase, but meat for babes: at least, all I can pretend, is to undeceive the ignorant, and those at a distance; but their task is to keep up the sinking spirits of a whole party.
After such reflections, I cannot be angry with those gentlemen for perpetually writing against me; it furnishes them largely with topicks, and is besides their proper business: neither is it affectation, or altogether scorn, that I do not reply. But as things are, we both act suitable to our several provinces; mine is, by laying open some corruptions in the late management, to set those that are ignorant right in their opinions of persons and things: it is theirs, to cover with fig-leaves all the faults of their friends, as well as they can. When I have produced my facts, and offered my arguments, I have nothing farther to advance; it is their office to deny, and disprove; and then let the world decide. If I were as they, my chief endeavour should certainly be to batter down the Examiner; therefore I cannot but approve their design. Besides, they have another reason for barking incessantly at this paper: they have in their prints, openly taxed a most ingenious person as author of it; one who is in great, and very deserved reputation with the world, both on account of his poetical works, and his talents for publick business. They were wise enough to consider what a sanction it would give their performances, to fall under the animadversion of such a pen; and therefore used all the forms of provocation commonly practised by little obscure pedants, who are fond of distinguishing themselves by the fame of an adversary. So nice a taste have these judicious criticks in pretending to discover an author by his style, and manner of thinking! not to mention the justice and candour of exhausting all the stale topicks of scurrility in reviling a paper, and then flinging at a venture the whole load upon one who is entirely innocent; and whose greatest fault, perhaps, is too much gentleness toward a party, from whose leaders he has received quite contrary treatment.
The concern I have for the ease and reputation of so deserving a gentleman, has at length forced me, much against my interest and inclination, to let these angry people know, who is not the author of the Examiner. For I observed the opinion began to spread; and I chose rather to sacrifice the honour I received by it, than let injudicious people entitle him to a performance, that perhaps he might have reason to be ashamed of: still faithfully promising never to disturb those worthy advocates; but suffer them in quiet to roar on at the Examiner, if they or their party find any ease in it; as physicians say there is to people in torment, such as men in the gout, or women in labour.
However, I must acknowledge myself indebted to them for one hint, which I shall now pursue, although in a different manner. Since the fall of the late ministry, I have seen many papers filled with their encomiums; I conceive, in imitation of those who write the lives of famous men, where after their deaths immediately follow their characters. When I saw the poor virtues thus dealt at random, I thought the disposers had flung their names, like valentines into a hat, to be drawn as fortune pleased, by the junto and their friends. There Crassus drew liberality and gratitude; Fulvia, humility and gentleness; Clodius, piety and justice: Gracchus, loyalty to his prince; Cinna, love of his country and constitution; and so of the rest. Or, to quit this allegory, I have often seen of late, the whole set of discarded statesmen, celebrated by their judicious hirelings, for those very qualities which their admirers owned they chiefly wanted. Did these heroes put off and lock up their virtues, when they came into employment; and have they now resumed them, since their dismissions? If they wore them, I am sure it was under their greatness, and without ever once convincing the world of their visibility or influence.
But, why should not the present ministry find a pen to praise them as well as the last? This is what I shall now undertake; and it may be more impartial in me, from whom they have deserved so little. I have, without being called, served them half a year in quality of champion; and, by help of the queen, and a majority of nine in ten of the kingdom, have been able to protect them against a routed cabal of hated politicians, with a dozen of scribblers at their head: yet, so far have they been from rewarding me suitably to my deserts, that to this day they never so much as sent to the printer to inquire who I was; although I have known a time and ministry, where a person of half my merit and consideration, would have had fifty promises; and, in the mean time, a pension settled on him, whereof the first quarter should be honestly paid. Therefore my resentments shall so far prevail, that in praising those who are now at the head of affairs, I shall at the same time take notice of their defects.
Was any man more eminent in his profession than the present lord keeper, or more distinguished by his eloquence and great abilities in the house of commons? and will not his enemies allow him to be fully equal to the great station he now adorns? But then it must be granted, that he is wholly ignorant in the speculative, as well as practical part of polygamy; he knows not how to metamorphose a sober man into a lunatick; he is no freethinker in religion, nor has courage to be patron of an atheistical book, while he is guardian of the queen's conscience. Although, after all, to speak my private opinion, I cannot think these such mighty objections to his character as some would pretend.
The person who now presides at the council, is descended from a great and honourable father, not from the dregs of the people; he was at the head of the treasury for some years, and rather chose to enrich his prince than himself. In the height of favour and credit, he sacrificed the greatest employment in the kingdom to his conscience and honour; he has been always firm in his loyalty and religion, zealous for supporting the prerogative of the crown, and preserving the liberties of the people. But then his best friends must own, that he is neither deist nor socinian; he has never conversed with Toland, to open and enlarge his thoughts, and dispel the prejudices of education; nor was he ever able to arrive at that perfection of gallantry, to ruin and imprison the husband, in order to keep the wife without disturbance.
The present lord steward has been always distinguished for his wit and knowledge; is of consummate wisdom and experience in affairs; has continued constant to the true interest of the nation which he espoused from the beginning; and is every way qualified to support the dignity of his office: but in point of oratory, must give place to his predecessor.
The duke of Shrewsbury was highly instrumental in bringing about the Revolution, in which service he freely exposed his life and fortune. He has ever been the favourite of the nation, being possessed of all the amiable qualities that can accomplish a great man; but, in the agreeableness and fragrancy of his person, and the profoundness of his politicks, must be allowed to fail very short of ——
Mr. Harley had the honour of being chosen speaker successively to three parliaments. He was the first, of late years, who ventured to restore the forgotten custom of treating his prince with duty and respect; easy and disengaged in private conversation, with such a weight of affairs upon his shoulders; of great learning, and as great a favourer and protector of it; intrepid by nature, as well as by the consciousness of his own integrity; and a despiser of money; pursuing the true interest of his prince and country against all obstacles; sagacious to view into the remotest consequences of things, by which all difficulties fly before him; a firm friend, and a placable enemy, sacrificing his justest resentments, not only to public good, but to common intercession and acknowledgment. Yet, with all these virtues, it must be granted, there is some mixture of human infirmity. His greatest admirers must confess his skill at cards and dice to be very low and superficial: in horseracing he is utterly ignorant; then, to save a few millions to the publick, he never regards how many worthy citizens he hinders from making up their plumb. And surely there is one thing never to be forgiven him; that he delights to have his table filled with black coats, whom he uses as if they were gentlemen.
My lord Dartmouth is a man of letters, full of good sense, good nature, and honour; of strict virtue and regularity in his life; but labours under one great defect, that he treats his clerks with more civility and good manners, than others in his station have done the queen.
Omitting some others, I shall close this character of the present ministry with that of Mr. St. John; who, from his youth applying those admirable talents of nature, and improvements of art, to publick business, grew eminent in court and parliament, at an age when the generality of mankind is employed in trifles and folly. It is to be lamented, that he has not yet procured himself a busy, important countenance; nor learned that profound part of wisdom, to be difficult of access. Besides, he has clearly mistaken the true use of books, which he has thumbed and spoiled with reading, when he ought to have multiplied them on his shelves: not like a great man of my acquaintance, who knew a book by the back, better than a friend, by the face; although he had never conversed with the former, and often with the latter.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 1710-11.
THERE is no vice which mankind carries to such wild extremes, as that of avarice. Those two which seem to rival it in this point, are lust and ambition; but the former is checked by difficulties and diseases, destroys itself by its own pursuits, and usually declines with old age; and the latter requiring courage, conduct, and fortune in a high degree, and meeting with a thousand dangers and oppositions, succeeds too seldom in an age to fall under common observation. Or, avarice is perhaps the same passion with ambition; only placed in more ignoble and dastardly minds, by which the object is changed from power to money. Or it may be that one man pursues power in order to wealth; and another wealth in order to power; which last is the safer way, although longer about; and suiting with every period, as well as condition of life, is more generally followed.
However it be, the extremes of this passion are certainly more frequent than of any other; and often to a degree so absurd and ridiculous, that if it were not for their frequency, they could hardly obtain belief. The stage, which carries other follies and vices beyond nature and probability, falls very short in the representations of avarice; nor are there any extravagances in this kind, described by ancient or modern comedies, which are not outdone by a hundred instances, commonly told among ourselves.
I am ready to conclude hence, that a vice which keeps so firm a hold upon human nature, and governs it with so unlimited a tyranny, since it cannot wholly be eradicated, ought at least to be confined to particular objects; to thrift and penury, to private fraud and extortion, and never suffered to prey upon the publick; and should certainly be rejected as the most unqualifying circumstance for any employment, where bribery and corruption can possibly enter.
If the mischiefs of this vice in a publick station were confined to enriching only those particular persons employed, the evil would be more supportable: but it is usually quite otherwise. When a steward defrauds his lord, he must connive at the rest of the servants, while they are following the same practice in their several spheres: so that in some families you may observe a subordination of knaves, in a link downward to the very helper in the stables, all cheating by concert, and with impunity. And even if this were all, perhaps the master could bear it without being undone; but it so happens, that for every shilling the servant gets by iniquity, the master loses twenty; the perquisites of servants being but small compositions for suffering shopkeepers to bring in what bills they please. It is exactly the same thing in a state: an avaricious man in office, is in confederacy with the whole clan of his district or dependance; which in modern terms of art, is called to live and let live; and yet their gains are the smallest part of the publick's loss. Give a guinea to a knavish land waiter, and he shall connive at the merchant for cheating tht queen of a hundred. A brewer gives a bribe to have the privilege of selling drink to the navy; but the fraud is a hundred times greater than the bribe, and the publick is at the whole loss.
Moralists make two kinds of avarice; that of Cataline, alieni appetens, sui profusus; and the other more generally understood by that name, which is the endless desire of hoarding. But I take the former to be more dangerous in a state, because it mingles with ambition, which I think the latter cannot; for, although the same breast may be capable of admitting both, it is not able to cultivate them; and where the love of heaping wealth prevails, there is not in my opinion much to be apprehended from ambition. The disgrace of that sordid vice is sooner apt to spread than any other; and is always attended with the hatred and scorn of the people: so that whenever those two passions happen to meet in the same subject, it is not unlikely that Providence has placed avarice to be a check upon ambition; and I have reason to think, some great ministers of state have been of my opinion.
The divine authority of holy writ, the precepts of philosophers, the lashes and ridicule of satirical poets, have been all employed in exploding this insatiable thirst of money; and all equally controlled by the daily practice of mankind. Nothing new remains to be said upon the occasion; and if there did, I must remember my character, that I am an Examiner only, and not a Reformer.
However, in those cases where the frailties of particular men do nearly affect the public welfare, such as a prime minister of state, or a great general of an army; methinks there should be some expedient contrived, to let them know impartially what is the world's opinion in the point. Encompassed with a crowd of depending flatterers, they are many degrees blinder to their own faults, than the common in, firmities of human nature can plead in their excuse. Advice dares not to be offered, or is wholly lost, or returned with hatred: and whatever appears in publick against their prevailing vice goes for nothing; being either not applied, or passing only for libel and slander, proceeding from the malice and envy of party.
I have sometimes thought, that if I had lived at Rome in the time of the first triumvirate, I should have been tempted to write a letter, as from an unknown hand, to those three great men who had then usurped the sovereign power; wherein I would freely and sincerely tell each of them that fault which I conceived was most odious, and of worst consequence to the commonwealth. That to Crassus should have been sent to him after his conquests in Mesopotamia, and in the following terms.
"To Marcus Crassus, health.
"IF you apply, as you ought, what I now write, you will be more obliged to me than to all the world, hardly excepting your parents or your country. I intend to tell you, without disguise or prejudice, the opinion which the world has entertained of you; and to let you see I write this without any sort of ill-will, you shall first hear the sentiments they have to your advantage. No man disputes the gracefulness of your person; you are allowed to have a good and clear understanding, cultivated by the knowledge of men and manners, although not by literature; you are no ill orator in the senate; you are said to excel in the art of bridling and subduing your anger, and stifling or concealing your resentments; you have been a most successful general, of long experience, great conduct, and much personal courage; you have gained many important victories for the commonwealth, and forced the strongest towns in Mesopotamia to surrender, for which frequent supplications have been decreed by the senate. Yet, with all these qualities, and this merit, give me leave to say, you are neither beloved by the patricians nor plebeians at home, nor by the officers or private soldiers of your own army abroad. And do you know, Crassus, that this is owing to a fault of which you may cure yourself by one minute's reflection? What shall I say? You are the richest person in the commonwealth; you have no male child; your daughters are all married to wealthy patricians; you are far in the decline of life, and yet you are deeply stained with that odious and ignoble vice of covetousness. It is affirmed, that you descend even to the meanest and most scandalous degrees of it; and while you possess so many millions, while you are daily acquiring so many more, you are solicitous how to save a single sesterce; of which a hundred ignominious instances are produced, and in all men's mouths. I will only mention that passage of the buskins, which, after abundance of persuasion, you would hardly suffer to be cut from your legs, when they were so wet and cold, that to have kept them on would have, endangered your life.
"Instead of using the common arguments to dissuade you from this weakness, I will endeavour to convince you, that you are really guilty of it; and leave the cure to your own good sense. For perhaps you are not yet persuaded that this is your crime; you have probably never yet been reproached for it to your face; and what you are now told comes from one unknown, and it may be from an enemy. You will allow yourself indeed to be prudent in the management of your fortune; you are not a prodigal, like Clodius, or Catiline: but surely that deserves not the name of avarice. I will inform you how to be convinced. Disguise your person, go among the common people in Rome, introduce discourses about yourself, inquire your own character: do the same in your camp; walk about it in the evening, hearken at every tent; and if you do not hear every mouth censuring, lamenting, cursing this vice in you, and even you for this vice, conclude yourself innocent. If you be not yet persuaded, send for Atticus, Servius Sulpicius, Cato, or Brutus; they are all your friends; conjure them to tell you ingenuously, which is your great fault, and which they would chiefly wish you to correct; if they do not agree in their verdict, in the name of all the gods you are acquitted.
"When your adversaries reflect how far you are gone in this vice, they are tempted to talk as if we owed our successes not to your courage or conduct, but to those veteran troops you command; who are able to conquer under any general, with so many brave and experienced officers to lead them. Besides, we know the consequences your avarice has often occasioned. The soldier has been starving for bread, surrounded with plenty, and in an enemy's country; but all under safeguards and contributions; which, if you had sometimes pleased to have exchanged for provislons, might, at the expense of a few talents in a campaign, have so endeared you to the army, that they would have desired you to lead them to the utmost limits of Asia. But you rather chose to confine your conquests within the fruitful country of Mesopotamia, where plenty of money might be raised. How far that fatal greediness of gold may have influenced you, in breaking off the treaty with the old Parthian king Orodes, you best can tell; your enemies charge you with it; your friends offer nothing material in your defence; and all agree, there is nothing so pernicious which the extremes of avarice may not be able to inspire.
"The moment you quit this vice, you will be a truly great man; and still there will imperfections enough remain to convince us, you are not a god. Farewel."
Perhaps a letter of this nature, sent to so reasonable a man as Crassus, might have put him upon examining into himself, and correcting that little sordid appetite, so utterly inconsistent with all pretences to heroism. A youth in the heat of blood, may plead, with some show of reason, that he is not able to subdue his lusts. An ambitious man may use the same arguments for his love of power; or perhaps other arguments to justify it. But excess of avarice has neither of these pleas to offer; it is not to be justified, and cannot pretend temptation for excuse. Whence can the temptation come? Reason disclaims it altogether; and it cannot be said to lodge in the blood or the animal spirits. So that I conclude, no man of true valour, and true understanding, upon whom this vice has stolen unawares, when he is convinced he is guilty, will suffer it to remain in his breast an hour.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1710-11.
Inultus ut tu riseris Cotyttia?
Shall you Cotytto's feasts deride,
Yet safely triumph in your pride?
[In answer to the Letter to the Examiner.]
ALTHOUGH I have wanted leisure to acknowledge the honour of a letter you were pleased to write to me about six months ago; yet I have been very careful in obeying some of your commands, and am going on as fast as I can with the rest. I wish you had thought fit to have conveyed them to me by a more private hand than that of the printing house: for, although I was pleased with a pattern of style and spirit which I proposed to imitate, yet I was sorry the world should be a witness how far I fell short in both.
I am afraid you did not consider what an abundance of work you have cut out for me; neither am I at all comforted by the promise you are so kind to make, that when I have performed my task, D———n shall blush in his grave among the dead, Walpole among the living, and even Volpone shall feel some remorse. How the gentleman in his grave may have kept his countenance, I cannot inform you, having no acquaintance at all with the sexton; but for the other two, I take leave to assure you, there have not yet appeared the least signs of blushing or remorse in either, although some very good opportunities have offered, if they had thought fit to accept them; so that, with your permission, I would rather engage to continue this work until they be in their graves too: which I am sure will happen much sooner than the other.
You desire I would collect some of those indignities offered last year to her majesty. I am ready to oblige you; and have got a pretty tolerable collection by me, which I am in doubt whether to publish by itself in a large volume in folio, or scatter them here and there occasionally in my papers: although indeed I am sometimes thinking to stifle them altogether; because such a history will be apt to give foreigners a monstrous opinion of our country. But since it is your absolute opinion, that the world should be informed; I will, with the first occasion, pick out a few choice instances, and let them take their chance in the ensuing papers. I have likewise in my cabinet certain quires of paper, filled with facts of corruption, mismanagement, cowardice, treachery, avarice, ambition, and the like; with an alphabetical table, to save trouble. And perhaps you will not wonder at the care I take to be so well provided, when you consider the vast expense I am at. I feed weekly two or three wit-starved writers, who have no visible support; beside several other others, who live upon my offals. In short, I am like a nurse who suckles twins at one time; and has besides one or two whelps constantly to draw her breasts.
I must needs confess (and it is with grief I speak it) that I have been the innocent cause of a great circulation of dulness: at the same time, I have often wondered how it has come to pass, that these industrious people, after poring so constantly upon the Examiner, a paper writ with plain sense and in a tolerable style, have made so little improvement. I am sure it would have fallen out quite otherwise with me: for, by what I have seen of their performances (and I am credibly informed they are all of a piece) if I had perused them until now, I should have been fit for little, but to make an advocate in the same cause.
You, sir, perhaps will wonder, as most others do, what end these angry folks propose in writing perpetually against the Examiner: it is not to beget a better opinion of the late ministry, or with any hope to convince the world, that I am in the wrong in any one fact I relate; they know all that to be lost labour, and yet their design is important enough: they would fain provoke me, by all sorts of methods within the length of their capacity, to answer their papers; which would render mine wholly useless to the publick: for, if it once came to rejoinder and reply, we should be all upon a level; and then their work would be done.
There is one gentleman indeed, who has written three small pamphlets upon the management of the war, and the treaty of peace. These I had intended to have bestowed a paper in examining; and could easily have made it appear, that whatever he says of truth, relates not at all to the evils we complain of, or controls one syllable of what I have ever advanced. Nobody, that I know of, did ever dispute the duke of Marlborough's courage, conduct, or success; they have been always unquestionable, and will continue to be so, in spite of the malice of his enemies, or, which is yet more, the weakness of his advocates. The nation only wishes to see him taken out of ill hands, and put into better. But what is all this to the conduct of the late ministry, the shameful mismanagements in Spain, or the wrong steps in the treaty of peace; the secret of which will not bear the light, and is consequently by this author very poorly defended? These, and many other things, I would have shown; but, upon second thoughts, determined to have it done in a discourse by itself, rather than take up room here, and break into the design of this paper, whence I have resolved to banish controversy as much as possible. But the postscript to his third pamphlet was enough to disgust me from having any dealings at all with such a writer; unless that part was left to some footman he has picked up among the boys who follow the camp, whose character it would suit much better than that of the supposed author: at least, the foul language, the idle, impotent menaces, and the gross perverting of an innocent expression in the fourth Examiner, joined to that respect I shall ever have for the function of a divine, would incline me to believe so. But, when he turns off his footman, and disclaims that postscript, I will tear it out, and see how far the rest deserves to be considered.
But, sir, I labour under a much greater difficulty, upon which I should be glad to hear your advice. I am worried on one side by the whigs, for being too severe; and by the tories on the other, for being too gentle. I have formerly hinted a complaint of this; but, having lately received two peculiar letters, among many others, I thought nothing could better represent my condition, or the opinion which the warm men of both sides have of my conduct, than to send you a transcript of each. The former is exactly in these words:
"To the Examiner.
"By your continual reflecting upon the conduct of the late ministry, and by your encomiums on the present, it is as clear as the sun at noon day, that you are a jesuit, or nonjuror, employed by the friends of the pretender, to endeavour to introduce popery and slavery and arbitrary power, and to infringe the sacred act for toleration of dissenters. Now, sir, since the most ingenious authors, who write weekly against you, are not able to teach you better manners, I would have you to know, that those great and excellent men, as low as you think them at present, do not want friends that will take the first proper occasion to cut your throat, as all such enemies to moderation ought to be served. It is well you have cleared another person from being author of your cursed libels; although, d—n me, perhaps after all, that may be a bamboozle too. However, I hope we shall soon ferret you out. Therefore I advise you as a friend to let fall your pen, and retire betimes; for our patience is now at an end. It is enough to lose our power and employments, without setting the whole nation against us. Consider, three years is the life of a party; d—n me, every dog has his day, and it will be our turn next: therefore take warning, and learn to sleep in a whole skin; or, whenever we are uppermost, by G—d you shall find no mercy."
The other letter was in the following terms:
"To the Examiner.
"I am a country member, and constantly send a dozen of your papers down to my electors. I have read them all, but, I confess, not with the satisfaction I expected. It is plain you know a great deal more than you write; why will you not let us have it all out? We are told that the queen has been a long time treated with insolence, by those she has most obliged. Pray, sir, let us have a few good stories upon that head. We have been cheated of several millions; why will you not set a mark on the knaves who are guilty, and show us what ways they took to rob the publick at such a rate? Inform us how we came to be disappointed of peace about two years ago. In short, turn the whole mystery of iniquity inside out, that every body may have a view of it. But above all explain to us, what was the bottom of that same impeachment; I am sure I never liked it; for at that very time a dissenting preacher in our neighbourhood came often to see our parson; it could be for no good, for he would walk about the barns and the stables, and desired to look into the church, as who should say, These will shortly be mine: and we all believed, he was then contriving some alterations, against he got into possession. And I shall never forget that a whig justice offered me then very high for my bishop's lease. I must be so bold to tell you, sir, that you are too favourable: I am sure there was no living in quiet for us, while they were in the saddle. I was turned out of the commission, and called a jacobite, although it cost me a thousand pounds in joining with the prince of Orange at the Revolution. The discoveries I would have you make, are of some facts, for which they ought to be hanged; not that I value their heads, but I would see them exposed, which may be done upon the owner's shoulders as well as upon a pole." &c.
These, sir, are the sentiments of a whole party on one side, and of considerable numbers on the other: however, taking the medium between these extremes, I think to go on as I have hitherto done, although I am sensible my paper would be more popular, if I did not lean too much on the favourable side. For nothing delights the people more, than to see their oppressors humbled, and all their actions painted with proper colours, set out in open view; exactos tyrannos densum humeris bibit aure vulgus.
But as for the whigs, I am in some doubt, whether this mighty concern they show for the honour of the late ministry, may not be affected; at least whether their masters will thank them for their zeal in such a cause. It is, I think, a known story of a gentleman, who fought another for calling him a son of a whore; that the lady desired her son to make no more quarrels upon that subject, because it was true. For pray, sir, does it not look like a jest, that such a pernicious crew, after draining our wealth, and discovering the most destructive designs against our church and state, instead of thanking fortune that they are got off safe in their persons and plunder, should hire these bullies of the pen, to defend their reputations? I remember, I thought it the hardest case in the world, when a poor acquaintance of mine, having fallen in among sharpers, where he lost all his money, and then complaining he was cheated, got a good beating into the bargain, for offering to affront gentlemen, I believe the only reason, why these purloiners of the publick, cause such a clutter to be made about their reputations, is, to prevent inquisitions that might tend toward making them refund: like those women they call shoplifters, who, when they are challenged for their thefts, appear to be mighty angry and affronted, for fear of being searched.
I will dismiss you, sir, when I have taken notice of one particular. Perhaps you may have observed in the tolerated factious papers of the week, that the earl of Rochester is frequently reflected on, for having been ecclesiastical commissioner, and lord treasurer, in the reign of the late king James. The fact is true; and it will not be denied, to his immortal honour, that, because he could not comply with the measures then taking, he resigned both those employments; of which the latter was immediately supplied by a commission, composed of two popish lords, and the present earl of Godolphin.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 1710-11.
I AM conscious to myself, that I write this paper with no other intention but of doing good. I never received injury from the late ministry, nor advantage from the present, farther than in common with every good subject. There were among the former, one or two, who must be allowed to have possessed very valuable qualities; but, proceeding by a system of politicks which our constitution could not suffer, and discovering a contempt of all religion, especially of that which has been so happily established among us ever since the Reformation; they seem to have been justly suspected of no very good inclinations to either.
It is possible, that a man may speculatively prefer the constitution of another country, or a Utopia of his own, before that of the nation where he is born and lives; yet, from considering the dangers or innovation, the corruptions of mankind, and the frequent impossibility of reducing ideas to practice, he may join heartily in preserving the present order of things, and be a true friend to the government already settled. So in religion, a man may perhaps have little or none of it at heart; yet if he conceals his opinions, if he endeavours to make no proselytes, advances no impious tenets in writing or discourse; if, according to the common atheistical notion, he believes religion to be only a contrivance of politicians for keeping the vulgar in awe, and that the present model is better adjusted than any other to so useful an end; although the condition of such a man, as to his own future state, be very deplorable; yet Providence, which often works good out of evil, can make even such a man an instrument for contributing toward the preservation of the church.
On the other side; I take a state to be truly in danger, both as to its religion and government, when a set of ambitious politicians, bred up in hatred to the constitution, and a contempt for all religion, are forced upon exerting these qualities in order to keep or increase their power, by widening their bottom, and taking in (like Mahomet) some principles from every party, that is in any way discontented at the present faith and settlement; which was manifestly our case. Upon this occasion, I remember to have asked some considerable whigs, whether it did not bring a disreputation upon their body, to have the whole herd of presbyterians, independants, atheists, anabaptists, deists, quakers, and socinians, openly and universally listed under their banners? They answered that all this was absolutely necessary, in order to make a balance against the tories; and all little enough: for indeed, it was as much as they could possibly do, although assisted with the absolute power of disposing of every employment; while the bulk of the English gentry kept firm to their old principles in church and state.
But, notwithstanding what I have hitherto said, I am informed, several among the whigs continue still so refractory, that they will hardly allow the heads of their party to have entertained any designs of ruining the constitution; or that they would have endeavoured it if they had continued in power. I beg their pardon, if I have discovered a secret; but who could imagine they ever intended it should be one, after those overt acts with which they thought fit to conclude their farce? But perhaps they now find it convenient to deny vigorously; that the question may remain, why was the old ministry changed, which they urge on without ceasing, as if no occasion in the least had been given; but that all were owing to the insinuations of crafty men, practising upon the weakness of an easy prince: I shall therefore offer, among a hundred, one reason for this change, which I think would justify any monarch, who ever reigned, for the like proceeding.
It is notorious enough, how highly princes have been blamed in the histories of all countries, particularly of our own, upon the account of their minions; who have been ever justly odious to the people for their insolence and avarice, and engrossing the favours of their masters. Whoever has been the least conversant in the English story, cannot but have heard of Gaveston, the Spencers, and the earl of Oxford; who, by the excess and abuse of their power, cost the princes they served, or rather governed, their crowns and lives. However, in the case of minions, it must at least be acknowledged, that the prince is pleased and happy, although his subjects be aggrieved; and he has the plea of friendship to excuse him, which is a disposition of generous minds. Besides, a wise minion, although he be haughty to others, is humble and insinuating to his master, and cultivates his favour by obedience and respect. But our misfortune has been a great deal worse; we have, suffered for some years under the oppression, the avarice, and insolence of those, for whom the queen had neither esteem nor friendship; who rather seemed to snatch their own dues, than receive the favour of their sovereign; and were so far from returning respect, that they forgot common good manners. They imposed on their prince, by urging the necessity of affairs of their own creating: they first raised difficulties, and then offered them as arguments to keep themselves in power. They united themselves, against nature and principle, to a party they had all ways abhorred, and which was now content to come in upon any terms, leaving them and their creatures in full possession of the court: then they urged the formidable strength of that party, and the dangers which must follow by disobliging it. So that it seems almost a miracle how a princess, thus besieged on all sides, could alone have courage and prudence enough to extricate herself.
And indeed there is a point of history relating to this matter, which well deserves to be considered. When her majesty came to the crown, she took into favour and employment several persons, who were, esteemed the best friends of the old constitution; among whom none were reckoned farther gone in the high church principles (as they are usually called) than two or three who had at that time most credit; and ever since, until within these few months, possessed all power at court. So that the first umbrage given to the whigs, and the pretences for clamouring against France and the pretender, were derived from them. And I believe nothing appeared then more unlikely, than that such different opinions should ever incorporate; that party having, upon former occasions, treated those very persons with enmity enough. But some lords then about court, and in the queen's good graces, not able to endure those growing impositions upon the prince and people, presumed to interpose; and were consequently soon removed and disgraced. However, when a most exorbitant grant was proposed, antecedent to any visible merit, it miscarried in parliament, for want of being seconded by those who had most credit in the house; and who, having always opposed the like excesses in a former reign, thought it their duty to do so still, to show to the world that the dislike was not against persons, but things. But this was to cross the oligarchy in the tenderest point; a point which outweighed all considerations of duty and gratitude to their prince, or regard to the constitution: and therefore, after having in several private meetings concerted measures with their old enemies, and granted as well as received conditions; they began to change their style and their countenance, and to put it as a maxim in the mouths of their emissaries, that England must be saved by whigs. This unnatural league was afterward cultivated by another incident, I mean the act of security, and the consequences of it, which every body knows; when (to use the words of my correspondent) the sovereign authority was parcelled out among the faction, and made the purchase of indemnity for an offending minister. Thus the union of the two kingdoms, improved that between the ministry and the junto; which was afterward cemented by their mutual danger in that storm they so narrowly escaped about three years ago, but however was not quite perfected till prince George's death; and then they went lovingly on together, both satisfied with their several shares, and at full liberty to gratify their predominant inclinations; the first, their avarice and ambition; the other, their models of innovation in church and state.
Therefore, whoever thinks fit to revive that baffled question, why was the late ministry changed, may receive the following answer; that it was become necessary by the insolence and avarice of some about the queen, who, in order to perpetuate their tyranny, had made a monstrous alliance with those who profess principles destructive to our religion and government. If this will not suffice, let him make an abstract of all the abuses I have mentioned in my former papers, and view them together; after which, if he still remain unsatisfied, let him suspend his opinion a few weeks longer. Although, after all, I think the question as trifling as that of the papists, when they ask us, where was our religion before Luther? And indeed the ministry was changed for the same reasons that religion was reformed; because a thousand corruptions had crept into the discipline and doctrine of the state, by the pride, the avarice, the fraud, and the ambition of those, who administered to us in secular affairs.
I heard myself censured the other day in a coffeehouse, for seeming to glance in the letter to Crassus against a great man, who is still in employment, and. likely to continue so. What if I had really intended that such an application should be given it? I cannot perceive how I could be justly blamed for so gentle a reproof. If I saw a handsome young fellow going to a ball at court, with a great smut upon his face; could he take it ill in me to point out the place, and desire him, with abundance of good words, to pull out his handkerchief and wipe it off; or bring him to a glass, where he might plainly see it with his own eyes? Does any man think I shall suffer my pen to inveigh against vices, only because they are charged upon persons who are no longer in power? Every body knows, that certain vices are more or less pernicious, according to the stations of those who possess them. For example, lewdness and intemperance are not of so bad consequences in a townrake, as in a divine; cowardice in a lawyer, is more supportable than in an officer of the army. If I should find fault with an admiral because he wanted politeness, or an alderman for not understanding Greek; that indeed would be to go out of the way for occasion of quarrelling. But excessive avarice in a general is, I think, the greatest defect he can be liable to next to the want of courage and conduct; and may be attended with the most ruinous consequences, as it was in Crassus, who to that vice alone owed the destruction of himself and his army. It is the same thing in praising men's excellencies: which are more or less valuable, as the person you commend has occasion to employ them. A man may perhaps mean honestly; yet, if he be not able to spell, he shall never have my vote to be a secretary. Another may have wit and learning, in a post, where honesty with plain common sense are of much more use. You may praise a soldier for his skill at chess, because it is said to be a military game, and the emblem of drawing up an army; but this to a treasurer would be no more a compliment, than if you called him a gamester or a jockey.
THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 1710-11.
IF we examine what societies of men are in closest union among themselves, we shall find them either to be those who are engaged in some evil design, or who labour under one common misfortune. Thus the troops of banditti in several countries abroad, the knots of highwaymen in our own nation, the several tribes of sharpers, thieves, and pickpockets, with many others, are so firmly knit together, that nothing is more difficult than to break or dissolve their several gangs: so likewise those who are fellow sufferers under any misfortune, whether it be in reality or opinion, are usually contracted into a very strict union; as we may observe in the papists throughout the kingdom, under those real difficulties which are justly put on them; and in the several schisms of presbyterians, and other sects, under that grievous persecution of the modern kind, called want of power. And the reason why such confederacies are kept so sacred and inviolable, is very plain; because, in each of those cases I have mentioned, the whole body is moved by one spirit in pursuit of one general end, and the interest of individuals is not crossed by each other, or by the whole.
Now both these motives are joined to unite the high-flying whigs at present: they have been always engaged in an evil design, and of late they are faster rivetted by that terrible calamity, the loss of power. So that whatever designs a mischievous crew of dark confederates may possibly entertain, who will stop at no means to compass them, may be justly apprehended from these.
On the other side, those who wish well to the publick, and would gladly contribute to its service, are apt to differ in their opinions about the methods of promoting it: and when their party flourishes,, are sometimes envious at those in power; ready to overvalue their own merit, and be impatient until it be rewarded by the measure they have prescribed for themselves. There is a farther topick of contention, which a ruling party is apt to fall into, in relation to retrospections, and inquiry into past carriages; wherein some are thought too warm and zealous, others too cool and remiss; while in the mean time these divisions are industriously fomented by the discarded faction; which, although it be an old practice, has been much improved in the schools of the jesuits; who, when they despaired of perverting this nation to popery, by arguments or plots against the state, sent their emissaries to subdivide us into schisms. And this expedient is now, with great propriety, taken up by our men of incensed moderation; because they suppose themselves able to attack the strongest of our subdivisions, and to subdue us one after another. Nothing better resembles this proceeding, than that famous combat between the Horatii and Curiatii; where, two of the former being killed, the third, who remained entire and untouched, was able to kill his three wounded adversaries, after he had divided them by a stratagem. I well know with how tender a hand all this should be touched; yet at the same time I think it my duty to warn the friends, as well as expose the enemies of the publick weal; and to begin preaching up union, upon the first suspicion that any steps are made to disturb it.
But the two chief subjects of discontent, which, upon most great changes, in the management of publick affairs, are apt to breed differences among those who are in possession, are what I have just now mentioned; a desire of punishing the corruption of former managers; and rewarding merit among those who have been any way instrumental or consenting to the change. The first of these is a point so nice, that I shall purposely wave it: but the latter I take to fall properly within my district. By merit, I here understand that value which every man puts upon his own deservings from the publick. And I believe, there could not be a more difficult employment found out, than that of paymaster general to this sort of merit; or a more noisy, crowded place, than a court of judicature erected to settle and adjust every man's claim upon that article. I imagine, if this had fallen into the fancy of the ancient poets, they would have dressed it up after their manner into an agreeable fiction; and given us a genealogy and description of merit, perhaps not very different from that which follows.
A poetical genealogy and description of MERIT.
That true Merit was the son of Virtue and Honour; but that there was likewise a spurious child, who usurped the name, and whose parents were Vanity and Impudence. That at a distance there was a great resemblance between them, and they were often mistaken for each other. That the bastard issue had a loud shrill voice, which was perpetually employed in cravings and complaints; while the other never spoke louder than a whisper, and was often so bashful that he could not speak at all. That in all great assemblies the false Merit would step before the true, and stand just in his way; was constantly at court, or great men's levees, or whispering in some minister's ear. That the more you fed him, the more hungry and importunate he grew. That he often passed for the true son of Virtue and Honour, and the genuine, for an impostor. That he was born distorted and a dwarf, but by force of art appeared of handsome shape, and taller than the usual size; and that none but those who were wise and good, as well as vigilant, could discover his littleness or deformity. That the true Merit had been often forced to the indignity of applying to the false, for his credit with those in power, and to keep himself from starving. That false Merit filled the antichambers with a crew of his dependants and creatures, such as projectors, schematists, occasional converts to a party, prostitute flatterers, starveling writers, buffoons, shallow politicians, empty orators, and the like; who all owned him for their patron, and he grew discontented if they were not immediately fed."
This metaphorical description of false Merit is, I doubt, calculated for most countries in Christendom; as to our own, I believe it may be said, with a sufficient reserve of charity, that we are fully able to reward every man among us according to his real deservings: and I think I may add, without suspicion of flattery, that never any prince had a ministry with a better judgment to distinguish between false and real merit, than that which is now at the helm; or whose inclination, as well as interest, was greater to encourage the latter. And it ought to be observed, that those great and excellent persons we see at the head of affairs, are of the queen's own personal, voluntary choice; not forced upon her by any insolent, overgrown favourite, or by the pretended necessity of complying with an unruly faction.
Yet these are the persons whom those scandals to the press, in their daily pamphlets and papers, openly revile at so ignominious a rate, as I believe was never tolerated before under any government. For surely no lawful power derived from a prince should be so far affronted, as to leave those who are in authority exposed to every scurrilous libeller: because in this point I make a mighty difference between those who are in, and those who are out of power; not upon any regard to their persons, but the stations they are placed in by the sovereign. And if my distinction be right, I think I might appeal to any man, whether if a stranger were to read the invectives which are daily published against the present ministry, and the outrageous fury of the authors against me for censuring the last; he would not conclude the whigs to be at this time in full possession of power and favour, and the tories entirely at their mercy. But all this now ceases to be a wonder, since the queen herself is no longer spared; witness the libel published some days ago, under the title of "A Letter to Sir Jacob Banks," where the reflections upon her sacred majesty, are much more plain and direct, than ever the Examiner thought fit to publish against the most obnoxious persons in a ministry, discarded for endeavouring the ruin of their prince and country. Cæsar indeed threatened to hang the pirates for presuming to disturb him, while he was their prisoner aboard their ship: But it was Cæsar who did so, and he did it to a crew of publick robbers; and it became the greatness of his spirit, for he lived to execute what he had threatened. Had they been in his power and sent such a message, it could be imputed to nothing but the extremes of impudence, folly, or madness.
I had a letter last week relating to Mr. Greenshields, an episcopal clergyman of Scotland; and the writer seems to be a gentleman of that part of Britain. I remember formerly to have read a printed account of Mr. Greenshields' case, who has been prosecuted and silenced, for no other reason beside reading divine service after the manner of the church of England to his own congregation, who desired it; though, as the gentleman who writes to me says, there is no law in Scotland against those meetings; and he adds, that the sentence pronounced against Mr. Greenshields will soon be affirmed, if some care be not taken to prevent it. I am altogether uninformed in the particulars of this case, and besides, to treat it justly would not come within the compass of my paper; therefore I could wish the gentleman would undertake it in a discourse by itself; and I should be glad he would inform the publick in one fact; whether episcopal assemblies are freely allowed in Scotland? It is notorious, that abundance of their clergy fled from thence some years ago into England and Ireland, as from a persecution; but it was alleged by their enemies, that they refused to take the oaths to the government, which however none of them scrupled when they came among us. It is somewhat extraordinary to see our whigs and fanaticks keep such a stir about the sacred act of toleration, while their brethren will not allow a connivance in so near a neighbourhood; especially if what the gentleman insists on in his letter be true, that nine parts in ten of the nobility and gentry, and two in three of the commons, are episcopal; of which, one argument he offers is, the present choice of their representatives in both houses, though opposed to the utmost by the preachings, threatenings, and anathemas of the kirk. Such usage to a majority may, as he thinks, be of dangerous consequence; and I entirely agree with him. If these be the principles of the high kirk, God preserve, at least the southern parts from their tyranny!
THURSDAY, MARCH 8, 1710-11.
——— Garrit aniles
Ex re fabellas.
———— Never fails
To cheer our converse with his pithy tales.
I HAD last week sent me, by an unknown hand, a passage out of Plato, with some hints how to apply it. That author puts a fable into the mouth of Aristophanes, with an account of the original of love: that mankind was at first created with four arms and legs, and all other parts double to what they are now; till Jupiter, as a punishment for his sins, cleft him in two with a thunderbolt; since which time we are always looking out for our other half; and this is the cause of love. But Jupiter threatened, that if they did not mend their manners, he would give them t' other slit, and leave them to hop about in the shape of figures in basso relievo. The effect of this last threatening, my correspondent imagines, is now come to pass; and that as the first splitting was the original of love, by inclining us to search for our other half; so the second was the cause of hatred, by prompting us to fly from our other side, and dividing the same body into two, gave each slice the name of a party.
I approve the fable and application, with this refinement upon it: for parties do not only split a nation, but every individual among them, leaving each but half their strength, and wit, and honesty, and good nature; but one eye and ear for their sight and hearing, and equally lopping the rest of the senses. Where parties are pretty equal in a state, no man can perceive one bad quality in his own, or good one in his adversaries. Besides, party being a dry disagreeable subject, it renders conversation insipid or sour, and confines invention. I speak not here of the leaders, but the insignificant crowd of followers in a party, who have been the instruments of mixing it in every condition and circumstance of life. As the zealots among the Jews, bound the law about their forehead, and wrists, and hems of their garments, so the women among us, have got the distinguishing marks of party in their muffs, their fans, and their furbelows. The whig ladies put on their patches in a different manner from the tories. They have made schisms in the playhouse, and each have their particular sides at the opera: and when a man changes his party, he must infallibly count upon the loss of his mistress. I asked a gentleman the other day, how he liked such a lady? But he would not give me his opinion, till I had answered him whether she were a whig or a tory. Mr. ———, since he is known to visit the present ministry, and lay some time under a suspicion of writing the Examiner, is no longer a man of wit; his very poems have contracted a stupidity, many years after they were printed.
Having lately ventured upon a metaphorical genealogy of Merit, I thought it would be proper to add another of Party, or rather of Faction (to avoid mistake) not telling the reader whether it be my own or a quotation, till I know how it is approved. But whether I read, or dreamed it, the fable is as follows:
"LIBERTY, the daughter of Oppression, after having brought forth several fair children, as Riches, Arts, Learning, Trade, and many others, was at last delivered of her youngest daughter, called Faction; whom Juno, doing the office of the midwife, distorted in his birth out of envy to the mother, whence it derived its peevishness and sickly constitution. However, as it is often the nature of parents to grow most fond of their youngest and disagreeablest children, so it happened with Liberty; who doated on this daughter to such a degree, that by her good will she would never suffer the girl to be out of her sight. As miss Faction grew up, she became so termagant and froward, that there was no enduring her any longer in Heaven. Jupiter gave her warning to be gone; and her mother, rather than forsake her, took the whole family down to earth. She landed first in Greece; was expelled by degrees through all the cities by her daughter's ill conduct; fled afterward to Italy, and being banished thence, took shelter among the Goths, with whom she passed into most parts of Europe; but, being driven out every where, she began to lose esteem, and her daughter's faults were imputed to herself: so that at this time,she has hardly a place in the world to retire to. One would wonder what strange qualities this daughter must possess, sufficient to blast the influence of so divine a mother, and the rest of her children. She always affected to keep mean and scandalous company; valuing nobody but just as they agreed with her in every capricious opinion she thought fit to take up; and rigorously exacting compliance, though she changed her sentiments ever so often. Her great employment was, to breed discord among friends and relations, and make up monstrous alliances between those whose dispositions least resembled each other. Whoever offered to contradict her, though in the most insignificant trifle, she would be sure to distinguish by some ignominious appellation, and allow them to have neither honour, wit, beauty, learning, honesty, or common sense. She intruded into all companies at the most unseasonable times; mixed at balls, assemblies, and other parties of pleasure, haunted every coffee house and booksellers shop, and by her perpetual talking filled all places with disturbance and confusion: she buzzed about the merchant in the exchange, the divine in his pulpit, and the shopkeeper behind his counter. Above all, she frequented publick assemblies, where she sat in the shape of an obscene, ominous bird, ready to prompt her friends; as they spoke."
If I understand this fable of Faction right, it ought to be applied to those who set themselves up against the true interest and constitution of their country; which I wish the undertakers for the late ministry would please to take notice of, or tell us by what figure of speech they pretend to call so great and unforced a majority, with the queen at their head, by the name of the faction; which is not unlike the phrase of the nonjurors, who, dignifying one or two deprived bishops, and half a score clergymen of the same stamp, with the title of the church of England, exclude all the rest as schismaticks; of like the presbyterians laying the same accusation, with equal justice, against the established religion.
And here it may he worth inquiring, what are the true characteristicks of a faction; or how it is to be distinguished from that great body of the people who are friends to the constitution? The heads of a faction are usually a set of upstarts, or men ruined in their fortunes, whom some great change in a government did at first out of their obscurity produce upon the stage. They associate themselves with those who dislike the old establishment, religious and civil. They are full of new schemes in politicks and divinity; they have an incurable hatred against the old nobility, and strengthen their party by dependants raised from the lowest of the people. They have several ways of working themselves into power; but they are sure to be called, when a corrupt administration wants to be supported, against those who are endeavouring at a reformation; and they firmly observe that celebrated maxim, of preserving power by the same arts by which it is attained. They act with the spirit of those who believe their time is but short; and their first care is, to heap up immense riches at the public expense; in which they have two ends beside that common one of insatiable avarice, which are, to make themselves necessary, and to keep the commonwealth in dependence. Thus they hope to compass their design, which is, instead of fitting their principles to the constitution, to alter and adjust the constitution to their own pernicious principles.
It is easy determining by this test, to which side the name of faction, most properly belongs. But however, I will give them any system of law or regal government, from William the Conqueror to this present time, to try whether they can tally it with their late models; excepting only that of Cromwell, whom perhaps they will reckon for a monarch.
If the present ministry, and so great a majority in the parliament and kingdom, be only a faction, it must appear by some actions which answer the idea we usually conceive from that word. Have they abused the prerogatives of the prince, or invaded the rights and liberties of the subject? have they offered at any dangerous innovations in church or state? have they broached any doctrines of heresy, rebellion, or tyranny? have any of them treated their sovereign with insolence, engrossed and sold all her favours, or deceived her by base, gross misrepresentations of her most faithful servants? These are the arts of a faction, and whoever has practised them, they and their followers must take up with the name.
It is usually reckoned a whig principle to appeal to the people; but that is, only when they have been so wise as to poison their understandings beforehand. Will they now stand to this appeal, and be determined by their vox populi, to which side their title of faction belongs? And that the people are now left to the natural freedom of their understanding and choice, I believe their adversaries will hardly deny. They will now refuse this appeal, and it is reasonable they should; and I will farther add, that if our people resembled the old Grecians, there might be danger in such a trial. A pragmatical orator told a great man at Athens, that whenever the people were in their rage, they would certainly tear him to pieces; Yes, says the other, and they will do the same to you, whenever they are in their wits. But God be thanked, our populace is more merciful in their nature, and at present under better direction; and the orators among us have attempted to confound both prerogative and law in their sovereign's presence, and before the highest court of judicature, without any hazard to their persons.
THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 1710-11.
I AM diverted from the general subject of my discourses, to reflect upon an event of a very extraordinary and nature. A great minister, in high confidence with the queen, under whose management the weight of affairs at present is in a great measure supposed to lie; sitting in council, in a royal palace, with a dozen of the chief officers of the state, is stabbed at the very board in the execution of his office, by the hand of a French papist, then under examination for high treason; the assassin redoubles his blow to make sure work: and concluding the chancellor was dispatched goes on with the same rage to murder a principal secretary of state: and that whole noble assembly are forced to rise and draw their swords in their own defence, as if a wild beast had been let loose among them.
This fact has some circumstances of aggravation not to be parallelled by any of the like kind we meet with in history. Cæsar's murder being performed in the senate comes nearest to the case: but that was an affair concerted by great numbers of the chief senators, who were likewise the actors in it; and not the work of a vile single ruffian. Harry the third of France was stabbed by an enthusiastick friar, whom he suffered to approach his person, while those who attended him stood at some distance. His successor met the same fate in a coach, where neither he nor his nobles, in such a confinement, were able to defend themselves. In our own country we have, I think, but one instance of this sort, which has made any noise; I mean that of Felton about fourscore years ago; but he took the opportunity to stab the duke of Buckingham, in passing through a dark lobby from one room to another. The blow was neither seen nor heard, and the murderer might have escaped, if his own concern and horrour, as it is usual in such cases, had not betrayed him. Besides, that act of Felton will admit of some extenuation from the motives he is said to have had: but this attempt of Guiscard seems to have outdone them all in every heightening circumstance, except the difference of persons between a king and a great minister; for I give no allowance at all to the difference of success (which, however, is yet uncertain and depending) nor think it the least alleviation to the crime, whatever it may be to the punishment.
I am sensible it is ill arguing from particulars to generals, and that we ought not to charge upon a nation the crimes of a few desperate villains it is so unfortunate to produce; yet at the same time it must be avowed, that the French have, for these last centuries, been somewhat too liberal of their daggers upon the persons of their greatest men; such as the admiral de Coligny, the dukes of Guise father and son, and the two kings I last mentioned. I have sometimes wondered how a people, whose genius seems wholly turned to singing and dancing, and prating, to vanity and impertinence; who lay so much weight upon modes and gestures; whose essentialities are generally so very superficial; who are usually so serious upon trifles, and so trifling upon what is serious, have been capable of committing such solid villainies, more suitable to the gravity of a Spaniard, or the silence and thoughtfulness of an Italian: unless it be, that in a nation naturally so full of themselves, and of so restless imaginations, when any of them happen to be of a morose and gloomy constitution, that huddle of confused thoughts, for want of evaporating, usually terminates in rage or despair. D'Avila observes, that Jacques Clement was a sort of buffoon, whom the rest of the friars used to make sport with; but at last giving his folly a serious turn, it ended in enthusiasm, and qualified him for that desperate act of murdering his king.
But, in the marquis de Guiscard, there seems to have been a complication of ingredients for such an attempt. He had committed several enormities in France, was extremely prodigal and vicious, of a dark melancholy complexion and cloudy countenance, such as in vulgar physiognomy is called an ill look. For the rest, his talents were very mean, having a sort of inferiour cunning, but very small abilities; so that a great man of the late ministry, by whom he was invited over, and with much discretion raised at first step, from a profligate popish priest, to a lieutenant general, and colonel of a regiment of horse, was at last forced to drop him for shame.
Had such an accident happened under that ministry, and to so considerable a member of it, they would have immediately charged it upon the whole body of those they are pleased to call the faction. This would have been styled a high church principle; the clergy would have been accused as promoters and abettors of the fact; committees would have been sent, to promise the criminal his life, provided they might have liberty to direct and dictate his confession; and a black list would have been printed of all those who had been ever seen in the murderer's company. But the present men in power hate and despise all such detestable arts, which they might now turn upon their adversaries with much more plausibility, than ever these did their honourable negotiations with Greg.
And here it may be worth observing, how unanimous a concurrence there is between some persons once in great power, and a French papist; both agreeing in the great end of taking away Mr. Harley's life, though differing in their methods; the first, proceeding by subornation, the other, by violence; wherein Guiscard seems to have the advantage, as aiming no farther than his life; while the others designed to destroy at once both that and his reputation. The malice of both against this gentleman seems to have risen from the same cause, his discovering designs against the government. It was Mr. Harley, who detected the treasonable correspondence of Greg, and secured him betimes, when a certain great man, who shall be nameless, had, out of the depth of his politicks, sent him a caution to make his escape, which would certainly have fixed the appearance of guilt upon Mr. Harley: but when that was prevented, they would have enticed the condemned criminal with promise of a pardon, to write and sign an accusation against the secretary: but to use Greg's own expression, his death was nothing near so ignominious, as would have been such a life, that must be saved by prostituting his conscience. The same gentleman now lies stabbed by his other enemy, a popish spy, whose treason he has discovered. God preserve the rest of her majesty's ministers from such protestants, and from such papists!
I shall take occasion to hint at some particularities in this surprising fact, for the sake of those at a distance, or who may not be thoroughly informed. The murderer confessed in Newgate, that his chief design was against Mr. secretary St. John, who happened to change seats with Mr. Harley for more convenience of examining the criminal: and being asked what provoked him to stab the chancellor, he said, that not being able to come at the secretary as he intended, it was some satisfaction to murder the person whom he thought Mr. St. John loved best.
And here, if Mr. Harley has still any enemies left, whom his blood spilt in the publick service cannot reconcile, I hope they will at least admire his magnanimity, which is a quality esteemed even in an enemy; and I think there are few greater instances of it to be found in story. After the wound was given, he was observed neither to change his countenance, nor discover any concern or disorder in his speech. He rose up, and walked about the room while he was able, with the greatest tranquillity, during the height of the confusion. When the surgeon came, he took him aside, and desired he would inform him freely whether the wound were mortal, because in that case, he said, he had some affairs to settle relating to his family. The blade of the penknife, broken by the violence of the blow against the rib, within a quarter of an inch of the handle, was dropt out (I know not whether from the wound, or his clothes) as the surgeon was going to dress him: he ordered it to be taken up, and wiping it himself, gave it some body to keep, saying, he thought it now properly belonged to him. He showed no sort of resentment, nor spoke one violent word against Guiscard, but appeared all the while the least concerned of any in the company; a state of mind, which, in such an exigency, nothing but innocence can give, and is truly worthy of a Christian philosopher.
If there be really so great a difference in principle, between the high-flying whigs and the friends of France, I cannot but repeat the question, how came they to join in the destruction of the same man? can his death be possibly for the interest of both? or have they both the same quarrel against him, that he is perpetually discovering and preventing the treacherous designs of our enemies? However it be, this great minister may now say with St. Paul, that he has been in perils by his own countrymen, and in perils by strangers.
In the midst of so melancholy a subject, I cannot but congratulate with our own country, that such a savage monster as the marquis de Guiscard is none of her production: a wretch, perhaps more detestable in his own nature, than even this barbarous act has been yet able to represent him to the world. For there are good reasons to believe from several circumstances, that he had intentions of a deeper die than those he happened to execute: I mean such as every good subject must tremble to think on. He has of late been frequently seen going up the back stairs at court, and walking alone in an outer room adjoining to her majesty's bed chamber. He has often and earnestly pressed, for some time, to have access to the queen, even since his correspondence with France. And he has now given such a proof of his disposition, as leaves it easy to guess what was before in his thoughts, and what he was capable of attempting.
Et quicunque tuum violavit vulnere corpus,
Morte luat merita ——
THURSDAY, MARCH 22, 1710-11.
THE apologies of the ancient fathers are reckoned to have been the most useful parts of their writings, and to have done greatest service to the Christian religion; because they removed those misrepresentations which had done it most injury. The methods these writers took, were, openly and freely to discover every point of their faith, to detect the falsehood of their accusers, and to charge nothing upon their adversaries, but what they were sure to make good. This example has been ill followed of later times: the papists, since the Reformation, using all arts to palliate the absurdities of their tenets, and loading the reformers with a thousand calumnies; the consequence of which has been only a more various, wide, and inveterate separation. It is the same thing in civil schisms: a whig forms an image of a tory, just after the thing he most abhors, and that image serves to represent the whole body.
I am not sensible of any material difference there is between those who call themselves the old whigs, and a great majority of the present tories; at least by all I could ever find from examining several persons of each denomination. But it must be confessed, that the present body of whigs, as they now constitute that party, is a very odd mixture of mankind, being forced to enlarge their bottom by taking in every heterodox professor, either in religion or government, whose opinions they were obliged to encourage for fear of lessening their number; while the bulk of the landed men, and people, were entirely of the old sentiments. However, they still pretended a due regard to the monarchy and the church, even at the time when they were making the largest steps toward the ruin of both: but, not being able to wipe off the many accusations laid to their charge, they endeavoured, by throwing scandal, to make the tories appear blacker than themselves; and so the people might join with them, as the smaller evil of the two.
But among all the reproaches which the whigs have flung upon their adversaries, there is none has done them more service than that of passive obedience, as they represent it with the consequences of nonresistance, arbitrary power, indefeasible right, tyranny, popery, and what not. There is no accusation which has passed with more plausibility than this, or any that is supported with less justice. In order therefore to undeceive those who have been misled by false representations, I thought it would be no improper undertaking to set this matter in a fair light, which I think has not yet been done. A whig asks, whether you hold passive obedience? You affirm it: he then immediately cries out, You are a jacobite, a friend of France and the pretender! because he makes you answerable for the definition he has formed of that term, however different it be from what you understand. I will therefore give two descriptions of passive obedience; the first, as it is falsely charged by the whigs; the other, as it is really professed by the tories; at least by nineteen in twenty of all I ever conversed with.
Passive obedience, as charged by the Whigs.
THE doctrine of passive obedience is, to believe that a king, even in a limited monarchy, holding his power only from God, is only answerable to him: that such a king is above all law; that the cruellest tyrant must be submitted to in all things; and if his commands be ever so unlawful, you must neither fly nor resist, nor use any other weapons than prayers and tears. Although he should force your wife and daughter, murder your children before your face, or cut off five hundred heads in a morning for his diversion; you are still to wish him a long, prosperous reign, and to be patient under all his cruelties, with the same resignation as under a plague or a famine; because to resist him, would be to resist God, in the person of his vicegerent. If a king of England should go through the streets of London in order to murder every man he met, passive obedience commands them to submit. All laws made to limit him signify nothing, although passed by his own consent, if he thinks fit to break them. God will indeed call him to a severe account; but the whole people, united to a man, cannot presume to hold his hands, or offer him the least active disobedience: the people were certainly created for him, and not he for the people. His next heir, although worse than what I have described, although a fool or a madman, has a divine indefeasible right to succeed him, which no law can disannul; nay, although he should kill his father upon the throne, he is immediately king to all intents and purposes; the possession of the crown wiping off all stains. But whosoever sits on the throne without this title, though ever so peaceably, and by consent of former kings and parliaments, is a usurper, while there is any where in the world another person, who has a nearer hereditary right; and the whole kingdom lies under mortal sin, till that heir be restored, because he has a divine title, which no human law can defeat.
This and a great deal more has, in a thousand papers and pamphlets, been laid to that doctrine of passive obedience, which the whigs are pleased to charge upon us. This is what they are perpetually instilling into the people, as the undoubted principle by which the present ministry, and a great majority in parliament, do at this time proceed. This is what they accuse the clergy of delivering from the pulpits, and of preaching up as a doctrine absolutely necessary to salvation. And whoever affirms in general, that passive obedience is due to the supreme power, he is presently loaded by our candid adversaries, with such consequences as these. Let us therefore see what this doctrine is, when stripped of such misrepresentations, by describing it as really taught and practised by the tories; and then it will appear what grounds our adversaries have to accuse us upon this article.
Passive obedience, as professed and practised by the Tories.
THEY think that in every government, whether monarchy or republick, there is placed a supreme, absolute, unlimited power, to which passive obedience is due. That wherever is entrusted the power of making laws, that power is without all bounds; can repeal, or enact at pleasure whatever laws it thinks fit; and justly demand universal obedience and nonresistance. That among us, as every body knows, this power is lodged in the king or queen, together with the lords and commons of the kingdom; and therefore all decrees whatsoever, made by that power, are to be actively or passively obeyed. That the administration, or executive part of this power, is, in England, solely entrusted with the prince; who, in administering those laws, ought to be no more resisted, than the legislative power itself. But they do not conceive the same absolute passive obedience to be due to a limited prince's commands, when they are directly contrary to the laws he has consented to, and sworn to maintain. The crown may be sued as well as a private person; and if an arbitrary king of England should send his officers to seize my lands or goods against law, I can lawfully resist them. The ministers, by whom he acts, are liable to prosecution and impeachment, although his own person be sacred. But, if he interpose royal authority to support their insolence, I see no remedy, until it grows a general grievance, or until the body of the people have reason to apprehend it will be so; after which, it becomes a case of necessity; and then, I suppose, a free people may assert their own rights, yet without any violation to the person or lawful power of the prince. But, although the tories allow all this, and did justify it by the share they had in the Revolution; yet they see no reason for entering upon so ungrateful a subject, or raising controversies upon it, as if we were in daily apprehensions of tyranny, under the reign of so excellent a princess, and while we have so many laws of late years made to limit the prerogative; when, according to the judgment of those who know our constitution best, things rather seem to lean to the other extreme, which is equally to be avoided. As to the succession, the tories think an hereditary right to be the best in its own nature, and most agreeable to our old constitution; yet, at the same time, they allow it to be defeasible by act of parliament; and so is Magna Charta too, if the legislature think fit: which is a truth so manifest, that no man, who understands the nature of government, can be in doubt concerning it.
These I take to be the sentiments of a great majority among the tories with respect to passive obedience: and if the whigs insist, from the writings or common talk of warm and ignorant men, to form a judgment of the whole body, according to the first account I have here given; I will engage to produce as many of their side, who are utterly against passive obedience even to the legislature; who will assert the last resort of power to be in the people, against those whom they have chosen and trusted as their representatives, with the prince at the head; and who will put wild improbable cases, to show the reasonableness and necessity of resisting the legislative power in such imaginary junctures: than which however nothing can be more idle; for I dare undertake in any system of government, either speculative or practick, that was ever yet in the world, from Plato's Republick, to Harrington's Oceana, to put such difficulties as cannot be answered.
All the other calumnies raised by the whigs may be as easily wiped off; and I have the charity to wish they could as fully answer the just accusations we have against them. Dodwell, Hickes, and Lesley, are gravely quoted to prove, that the tories design to bring in the pretender; and if I should quote them to prove that the same thing is intended by the whigs, it would be full as reasonable; since I am sure they have at least as much to do with nonjurors as we. But our objections against the whigs are built upon their constant practice for many years, whereof I have produced a hundred instances, against any single one of which no answer has yet been attempted, although I have been curious enough to look into all the papers I could meet with, that are written against the Examiner; such a task us, I hope, no man thinks I would undergo, for any other end but that of finding an opportunity to own and rectify my mistakes: as I would be ready to do upon the call of the meanest adversary. Upon which occasion I shall take leave to add a few words.
I flattered myself last Thursday from the nature of my subject, and the inoffensive manner I handled it, that I should have one week's respite from those merciless pens, whose severity will some time break my heart: but I am deceived, and find them more violent than ever. They charge me with two lies, and a blunder. The first lie is a truth, that Guiscard was invited over; but it is of no consequence. I do not tax it as a fault; such sort of men have often been serviceable: I only blamed the indiscretion of raising a profligate abbot, at the first step, to a lieutenant general and colonel of a regiment of horse, without staying some reasonable time, as is usual in such cases, until he had given some proofs of his fidelity, as well as of that interest and credit he pretended to have in his country. But that is said to be another lie; for he was a papist, and could not have a regiment: however this other lie is a truth too; for a regiment he had, and paid by us, to his agent monsieur le Bas for his use. The third is a blunder; that I say Guiscard's design was against Mr. secretary St. John, and yet my reasonings upon it are as if it were personally against Mr. Harley. But I say no such thing, and my reasonings are just. I relate only what Guiscard said in Newgate, because it was a particularity the reader might be curious to know, and accordingly it lies in a paragraph by itself, after my reflections; but I never meant to be answerable for what Guiscard said, or thought it of weight enough for me to draw conclusions thence, when I had the address of both houses to direct me better; where it is expressly said, that Mr. Harley's fidelity to her majesty, and zeal for her service, have drawn upon him the hatred of all the abettors of popery and faction. This is what I believe, and what I shall stick to.
But, alas! these are not the passages which have raised so much fury against me. One or two mistakes in facts of no importance, or a single blunder, would not have provoked them; they are not so tender of my reputation as a writer. All their outrage is occasioned by those passages in that paper, which they do not in the least pretend to answer, and with the utmost reluctancy are forced to mention. They take abundance of pains to clear Guiscard from a design against Mr. Harley's life: but offer not one argument to clear their other friends, who in the business of Greg were equally guilty of the same design against the same person; whose tongues were very swords, and whose penknives were axes.
THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 1711.
—Sunt hic etiam sua prœmia laudi;
Sunt lachrymæ rerum, et mentem mortalia tangunt.
The palm that virtue yields! in scenes like these
We trace humanity, and man with man
Related by the kindred sense of woe.
I BEGIN to be heartily weary of my employment as Examiner; which I wish the ministry would consider with half so much concern as I do, and assign me some other, with less pains, and a larger pension. There may soon be a vacancy either on the bench, in the revenue, or the army, and I am equally qualified for each; but this trade of examining, I apprehend, may at one time or other go near to sour my temper. I did lately propose, that some of those ingenious pens, which are engaged on the other side, might be employed to succeed me; and I undertook to bring them over for t'other crown: but it was answered, that those gentlemen do much better service in the stations where they are. It was added, that abundance of abuses yet remained to be laid open to the world, which I had often promised to do, but was too much diverted by other subjects that came into my head. On the other side, the advices of some friends, and the threats of many enemies, have put me upon considering, what would have become of me, if times should alter: this I have done very maturely, and the result is, that I am in no manner of pain. I grant that what I have said upon occasion, concerning the late men in power, may be called satire by some unthinking people, as long as that faction is down; but if ever they come into play again, I must give them warning before-hand, that I shall expect to be a favourite, and that those pretended advocates of theirs will be pilloried for libellers. For, I appeal to any man, whether I ever charged that party, or its leaders, with one single action or design, which (if we may judge by their former practices) they will not openly profess, be proud of, and score up for merit when they come again to the head of affairs? I said, they were insolent to the queen: will they not value themselves upon that, as an argument to prove them bold assertors of the people's liberty? I affirmed, they were against a peace; will they be angry with me for setting forth the refinements of their politicks, in pursuing the only method left to preserve them in power? I said, they had involved the nation in debts, and engrossed much of its money: they go beyond me, and boast they have got it all, and the credit too. I have urged the probability of their intending great alterations in religion and government: if they destroy both at their next coming, will they not reckon my foretelling it rather as a panegyrick than an affront? I said, they had formerly a design against Mr. Harley's life: if they were now in power, would they not immediately cut off his head, and thank me for justifying the sincerity of their intentions? In short, there is nothing I ever said of those worthy patriots, which may not be as well excused: therefore, as soon as they resume their places, I politively design to put in my claim; and I think, may do it with a much better grace than many of that party, who now make their court to the present ministry. I know two or three great men, at whose levees you may daily observe a score of the most forward faces, which every body is ashamed of, except those who wear them. But, I conceive, my pretensions will be upon a very different foot. Let me offer a parallel case: suppose king Charles the First had entirely subdued the rebels at Naseby, and reduced the kingdom to his obedience: whoever had gone about to reason from the former conduct of those saints, that if the victory had fallen on their side, they would have murdered their prince, destroyed monarchy and the church, and made the king's party compound for their estates as delinquents, would have been called a false uncharitable libeller, by those very persons, who afterward gloried in all this, and called it the work of the Lord, when they happened to succeed. I remember there was a person fined and imprisoned for scandalum magnatum, because he said the duke of York was a papist: but when that prince came to be king, and made open profession of his religion, he had the justice immediately to release his prisoner, who in his opinion had put a compliment upon him, and not a reproach: and therefore colonel Titus, who had warmly asserted the same thing in parliament, was made a privy counsellor.
By this rule, if that, which for some politick reasons is now called scandal upon the late ministry, proves one day to be only an abstract of such a character as they will assume and be proud of, I think I may fairly offer my pretensions, and hope for their favour: and I am the more confirmed in this notion, by what I have observed in those papers that come out weekly against the Examiner. The authors are perpetually telling me of my ingratitude to my masters; that I blunder and betray the cause; and write with more bitterness against those who hire me, than against the whigs. Now I took all this at first only for so many strains of wit, and pretty paradoxes, to divert the reader; but, upon farther thinking, I find they are serious. I imagined I had complimented the present ministry for their dutiful behaviour to the queen, for their love of the old constitution in church and state, for their generosity and justice, and for their desire of a speedy honourable peace; but it seems I am mistaken, and they reckon all this for satire, because it is directly contrary to the practice of all those whom they set up to defend, and utterly against all their notions of a good ministry. Therefore I cannot but think they have reason on their side: for, suppose I should write the character of an honest, a religious, and a learned man; and send the first to Newgate, the second to the Grecian coffeehouse, and the last to White's, would they not all pass for satires, and justly enough, among the companies to whom they were sent?
Having therefore employed several papers in such sort of panegyrick, and but very few on what they understand to be satires, I shall henceforth upon occasion be more liberal of the latter; of which they are likely to have a taste in the remainder of this present paper.
Among all the advantages which the kingdom has received by the late change of ministry, the greatest must be allowed to be the calling of the present parliament upon the dissolution of the last. It is acknowledged, that this excellent assembly has entirely recovered the honour of parliaments, which had been unhappily prostituted for some years past, by the factious proceedings of an unnatural majority, in concert with a most corrupt administration. It is plain by the present choice of members, that the electors of England, when left to themselves, do rightly understand their true interest. The moderate whigs begin to be convinced, that we have been all this while in the wrong hands, and that things are now as they should be. And as the present house of commons is the best representative of the nation that has ever been summoned in our memories, so they have taken care in their first session, by that noble bill of qualification, that future parliaments should be composed of landed men; and our properties lie no more at the mercy of those who have none themselves, or at least only what is transient or imaginary. If there be any gratitude in posterity, the memory of this assembly will be always celebrated; if otherwise, at least we, who share in the blessings they derive to us, ought with grateful hearts to acknowledge them.
I design in some following papers to draw up a list (for I can do no more) of the great things this parliament has already performed; the many abuses they have detected; their justice in deciding elections without regard to party; their cheerfulness and address in raising supplies for the war, and at the same time providing for the nation's debts; their duty to the queen, and their kindness to the church. In the mean time, I cannot forbear mentioning two particulars, which in my opinion do discover in some measure the temper of the present parliament, and bear analogy to those passages related by Plutarch in the lives of certain great men; which, as himself observes, although they be not of actions which make any great noise or figure in history, yet give more light into the characters of persons, than we could receive from an account of their most renowned achievements.
Something like this may be observed, from two late instances of decency and good nature in that illustrious assembly I am speaking of. The first was, when, after that inhuman attempt upon Mr. Harley, they were pleased to vote an address to the queen, wherein they express their utmost detestation of the fact, their high esteem and great concern for that able minister, and justly impute his misfortunes to that zeal for her majesty's service, which had drawn upon him the hatred of all the abettors of popery and faction. I dare affirm that so distinguishing a mark of honour and good will, from such a parliament, was more acceptable to a person of Mr. Harley's generous nature, than the most bountiful grant that was ever yet made to a subject; as her majesty's answer, filled with gracious expressions in his favour, adds more to his real glory, than any titles she could bestow. The prince and representatives of the whole kingdom, join in their concern for so important a life; these are the true rewards of virtue; and this is the commerce between noble spirits, in a coin, which the giver knows where to bestow, and the receiver how to value, although neither avarice nor ambition would be able to comprehend its worth.
The other instance I intend to produce of decency and good nature in the present house of commons, relates to their most worthy speaker; who having unfortunately lost his eldest son, the assembly, moved with a generous pity for so sensible an affliction, adjourned themselves for a week, that so good a servant for the publick might have some interval to wipe away a father's tears. And indeed that gentleman has too just an occasion for his grief, by the death of a son, who had already acquired so great a reputation for every amiable quality, and who might have lived to be so great an honour and an ornament to his ancient family.
Before I conclude, I must desire one favour of the reader; that when he thinks it worth his while to peruse any paper written against the Examiner, he will not form his judgment by any mangled quotation out of it, which he finds in such papers, but be so just as to read the paragraph referred to, which I am confident will be found a sufficient answer to all that ever those papers can object: at least I have seen above fifty of them, and never yet observed one single quotation transcribed with common candour.
THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 1711.
I HAVE been considering the old constitution of this kingdom; comparing it with the monarchies and republicks whereof we meet so many accounts in ancient story, and with those at present in most parts of Europe. I have considered our religion, established here by the legislature soon after the Reformation. I have likewise examined the genius and disposition of the people under that reasonable freedom they possess. Then I have turned my reflections upon those two great divisions of whig and tory (which some way or other take in the whole kingdom) with the principles they both profess, as well as those wherewith they reproach one another. From all this, I endeavour to determine, from which side her present majesty may reasonably hope for most security to her person and government; and to which, she ought in prudence to trust the administration of her affairs. If these two rivals were really no more than parties, according to the common acceptation of the word, I should agree with those politicians, who think a prince descends from his dignity, by putting himself at the head of either; and that his wisest course is to keep them in a balance, raising or depressing either, as it best suits wdth his designs. But when the visible interest of his crown and kingdom lies on one side; and when the other is but a faction, raised and strengthened by incidents and intrigues, and by deceiving the people with false representations of things; he ought in prudence to take the first opportunity of opening his subjects eyes, and declaring himself in favour of those, who are for preserving the civil and religious rights of the nation, wherewith his own are so interwoven.
This was certainly our case: for I do not take the heads, advocates, and followers of the whigs to make up, strictly speaking, a national party; being patched up of heterogeneous, inconsistent parts, whom nothing served to unite, but the common interest of sharing in the spoil and plunder of the people; the present dread of their adversaries, by whom they apprehended to be called to an account; and that general conspiracy of endeavouring to overturn the church and state, which, however, if they could have compassed, they would certainly have fallen out among themselves, and broke in pieces, as their predecessors did after they destroyed the monarchy and religion. For, how could a whig, who is against all discipline, agree with a presbyterian, who carries it higher than the papists themselves? How could a socinian adjust his models to either? or how could any of these cement with a deist, or freethinker, when they came to consult upon points of faith? Neither would they have agreed better in their systems of government; where some would have been for a king under the limitations of a duke of Venice; others for a Dutch republic; a third party for an aristocracy; and most of all for some new fabrick of their own contriving.
But, however, let us consider them as a party, and under those general tenets wherein they agreed, and which they publickly owned, without charging them with any that they pretend to deny. Then, let us examine those principles of the tories, which their adversaries allow them to profess, and do not pretend to tax them with any actions contrary to those professions: after which, let the reader judge which of these two parties a prince has most to fear; and whether her majesty did not consider the ease, the safety, and dignity of her person, the security of her crown, and the transmission of monarchy to her protestant successors, when she put her affairs into the present hands.
Suppose the matter were now entire; the queen to make her choice; and for that end should order the principles on both sides to be fairly laid before her. First, I conceive the whigs would grant, that they have naturally no very great veneration for crowned heads; that they allow the person of the prince may, upon many occasions, be resisted by arms; and they do not condemn the war raised against king Charles the first, or own it to be a rebellion, although they would be thought to blame his murder. They do not think the prerogative to be yet sufficiently limited; and have therefore taken care (as a particular mark of their veneration for the illustrious house of Hanover) to clip it still closer against the next reign; which, consequently, they would be glad to see done in the present: not to mention, that the majority of them, if it were put to the vote, would allow that they prefer a commonwealth before a monarchy. As to religion; their universal undisputed maxim is, that it ought to make no distinction at all among protestants; and in the word protestant, they include every body who is not a papist, and who will by an oath give security to the government. Union in discipline and doctrine, the offensive sin of schism, the notion of a church and a hierachy, they laugh at, as foppery, cant, and priestcraft. They see no necessity at all that there should be a national faith; and what we usually call by that name, they only style the religion of the magistrate. Since the dissenters and we agree in the main, why should the difference of a few speculative points, or modes of dress, incapacitate them from serving their prince and country, in a juncture, when we ought to have all hands up against the common enemy? and why should they be forced to take the sacrament from our clergy's hands, and in our posture; or indeed why compelled to receive it at all, when they take an employment which has nothing to do with religion?
These are the notions which most of that party avow, and which they do not endeavour to disguise or set off with false colours, or complain of being misrepresented about. I have here placed them on purpose in the same light, which themselves do in the very apologies they make for what we accuse them of; and how inviting even these doctrines are for such a monarch to close with, as our law both statute and common understands a king of England to be, let others decide. But then, if to these we should add other opinions, which most of their own writers justify, and which their universal practice has given a sanction to; they are no more than what a prince might reasonably expect, as the natural consequence of those avowed principles. For, when such persons are at the head of affairs, the low opinion they have of princes will certainly lead them to violate that respect they ought to bear; and at the same time their own want of duty to their sovereign, is largely made up, by exacting greater submissions to themselves, from their fellow-subjects; it being indisputably true, that the same principle of pride and ambition makes a man treat his equals with insolence, in the same proportion, as he affronts his superiours; as both prince and people have sufficiently felt from the late ministry.
Then, from their confessed notions of religion, as above related, I see no reason to wonder, why they countenanced not only all sorts of dissenters, but the several gradations of freethinkers among us, all which are openly enrolled in their party; nor why they were so averse from the present established form of worship, which, by prescribing obedience to princes from the topick of conscience, would be sure to thwart all their schemes of innovation.
One thing I might add, as another acknowledged maxim in that party, and in my opinion as dangerous to the constitution as any I have mentioned; I mean, that of preferring on all occasions the monied interest before the landed; which they were so far from denying, that they would gravely debate the reasonableness and justice of it; and at the rate they went on, might in a little time have found a majority of representatives, fitly qualified to lay those heavy burdens on the rest of the nation, which themselves would not touch with one of their fingers.
However, to deal impartially, there are some motives, which might compel a prince under the necessity of affairs to deliver himself over to that party. They were said to possess the great bulk of cash, and consequently of credit, in the nation; and the heads of them had the reputation of presiding over those societies, who have the great direction of both; so that all applications for loans to the publick service, upon any emergency, must be made through them; and it might prove highly dangerous to disoblige them, because in that case it was not to be doubted, that they would be obstinate and malicious, ready to obstruct all affairs, not only by shutting their own purses, but by endeavouring to sink credit, although with some present imaginary loss to themselves, only to show it was a creature of their own.
From this summary of whig principles and dispositions, we find what a prince may reasonably fear and hope from that party. Let us now very briefly consider the doctrines of the tories, which their adversaries will not dispute. As they prefer a well-regulated monarchy before all other forms of government, so they think it next to impossible to alter that institution here, without involving our whole island in blood and desolation. They believe that the prerogative of a sovereign, ought at least to be held as sacred and inviolable as the rights of his people; if only for this reason, because, without a due share of power, he will not be able to protect them. They think, that by many known laws of this realm, both statute and common, neither the person, nor lawful authority of the prince, ought upon any pretence whatsoever to be resisted or disobeyed. Their sentiments in relation to the church are known enough, and will not be controverted, being just the reverse to what I have delivered as the doctrine and practice of the whigs upon that article.
But here I must likewise deal impartially too; and add one principle as a characteristick of the tories, which has much discouraged some princes from making use of them in affairs. Give the whigs but power enough to insult their sovereign, engross his favours to themselves, and to oppress and plunder thier fellow subjects; they presently grow into good humour and good language toward the crown; profess they will stand by it with their lives and fortunes; and whatever rudenesses they may be guilty of in private, yet they assure the world that there never was so gracious a monarch. But to the shame of the tories it must be confessed, that nothing of all this has been ever observed in them; in or out of favour, you see no alteration, farther than a little cheerfulness or cloud in their countenances; the highest employments can add nothing to their loyalty; but their behaviour to their prince, as well as their expressions of love and duty, are in all conditions exactly the same.
Having thus impartially stated the avowed principle of whig and tory, let the reader determine as he pleases, to which of these two a wise prince may, with most safety to himself and the publick, trust his person and his affairs: and whether it were rashness or prudence in her majesty, to make those changes in the ministry, which have been so highly extolled by some, and condemned by others.
THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 1711.
Tres species tam dissimiles, tria talia texta,
Una dies dedit exitio——
Such different forms of various threads combin'd,
One day destroy'd in common ruin join'd.
I WRITE this paper for the sake of the dissenters, whom I take to be the most spreading branch of the whig party, that professes Christianity; and the only one that seems to be zealous for any particular system of it; the bulk of those we call the low church, being generally indifferent and undetermined in that point; and the other subdivisions having not yet taken either the Old or the New Testament into their scheme. By the dissenters therefore it will easily be understood that I mean the presbyterians, as they include the sects of anabaptists, independents, and others, which have been melted down into them since the restoration. This sect, in order to make itself national, having gone so far as to raise a rebellion, murder their king, destroy monarchy and the church, was afterward broken in pieces by its own divisions; which made way for the king's return from his exile. However the zealous among them did still entertain hopes of recovering the dominion of grace: whereof I have read a remarkable passage in a book published about the year 1661, and written by one of their own side. As one of the regicides was going to his execution, a friend asked him, whether he thought the cause would revive? He answered, The cause is in the bosom of Christ; and as sure as Christ rose from the dead, so sure will the cause revive also. And therefore the nonconformists were strictly watched, and restrained by penal laws, during the reign of king Charles the second; the court and kingdom looking on them as a faction, ready to join in any design against the government in church or state. And surely this was reasonable enough, while so many continued alive who had voted, and fought, and preached against both, and gave no proof that they had changed their principles. The nonconformists were then exactly upon the same foot with our nonjurors now, whom we double-tax, forbid their conventicles, and keep under hatches, without thinking ourselves possessed with a persecuting spirit; because we know they want nothing but the power to ruin us. This, in my opinion, should altogether silence the dissenters complaints of persecution under king Charles the second; or make them show us wherein they differed at that time, from what our jacobites are now.
Their inclinations to the church were soon discovered, when king James the second succeeded to the crown; with whom they unanimously joined in its ruin, to revenge themselves for that restraint they had most justly suffered in the foregoing reign; not from the persecuting temper of the clergy, as their clamours would suggest, but the prudence and caution of the legislature. The same indulgence against law was made use of by them and the papists; and they amicably employed their power, as in defence of one common interest.
But the revolution happening soon after, served to wash away the memory of the rebellion; upon which the run against popery was no doubt as just and seasonable, as that of fanaticism after the restoration: and the dread of popery being then our latest danger, and consequently the most fresh upon our spirits, all mouths were open against that; the dissenters were rewarded with an indulgence by law; the rebellion and king's murder were now no longer a reproach; the former was only a civil war, and whoever durst call it a rebellion, was a jacobite and friend to France. This was the more unexpected, because, the revolution being wholly brought about by church of England hands, they hoped one good consequence of it would be, the relieving us from the encroachments of dissenters, as well as those of papists; since both had equally confederated toward our ruin; and therefore, when the crown was new settled, it was hoped at least that the rest of the constitution would be restored. But this affair took a very different turn: the dissenters had just made a shift to save a tide, and join with the prince of Orange, when they found all was desperate with their protector king James; and observing a party then forming against the old principles in church and state, under the name of whigs and low churchmen, they listed themselves of it, where they have ever since continued. It is, therefore, upon the foot they now are, that I would apply myself to them, and desire they would consider the different circumstances at present, from what they were under when they began their designs against the church and monarchy, about seventy years ago. At that juncture they made up the body of the party; and whosoever joined with them from principles of revenge, discontent, ambition, or love of change, were all forced to shelter under their denomination; united heartily in the pretences of a farther and purer reformation in religion, and of advancing the great work (as the cant was then) that God was about to do in these nations; received the systems of doctrine and discipline prescribed by the Scots, and readily took the covenant; so that there appeared no division among them, till after the common enemy was subdued.
But now their case is quite otherwise: and I can hardly think it worth being of a party, upon the terms they have been received of late years. For, suppose the whole faction should at length succeed in their design of destroying the church; are they so weak as to imagine, that the new modelling of religion would be put into their hands? would their brethren, the low churchmen and freethinkers, submit to their discipline, their synods, and their classes; and divide the lands of bishops, or deans and chapters, among them? how can they help observing, that their allies, instead of pretending more sanctity than other men, are some of them for levelling all religion, and the rest for abolishing it? Is it not manifest, that they have been treated by their confederates exactly after the same manner as they were by king James the second; made instruments to ruin the church; not for their own sakes, but, under a pretended project of universal freedom in opinion, to advance the dark designs of those who employ them? for, excepting the antimonarchical principle, and a few false notions about liberty, I see but little agreement between them; and even in these, I beiieve, it would be impossible to contrive a frame of government that would please them all, if they had it now in their power to try. But however, to be sure the presbyterian institution would never obtain. For, suppose they should, in imitation of their predecessors, propose to have no king but our Saviour Christ; the whole clan of freethinkers would immediately object, and refuse his authority. Neither would their lowchurch brethren use them better, as well knowing what enemies they are to that doctrine of unlimited toleration, wherever they are suffered to preside. So that upon the whole, I do not see, as their present circumstances stand, where the dissenters can find better quarter than from the church of England.
Besides, I leave it to their consideration, whether, with all their zeal against the church, they ought not to show a little decency; and how far it consists with their reputation to act in concert with such confederates. It was reckoned a very infamous proceeding in the present most christian king, to assist the Turk against the emperor: policy and reasons of state were not allowed sufficient excuses, for taking part with an infidel against a believer. It is one of the dissenters quarrels against the church, that she is not enough reformed from popery; yet they boldly entered into a league with papists and a popish prince to destroy her. They profess much sanctity, and object against the wicked lives of some of our members; yet they have been long, and still continue, in strict combination with libertines and atheists to contrive our ruin. What if the Jews should multiply, and become a formidable party among us? Would the dissenters join in alliance with them likewise, because they agree already general principles, and because the Jews are allowed to be a stiffnecked and rebellious people?
It is the part of wise men to conceal their passions, when they are not in circumstances of exerting them to purpose: the arts of getting power, and preserving indulgence, are very different. For the former, the reasonable hopes of the dissenters seem to be at an end; their comrades, the whigs and freethinkers, are just in a condition proper to be forsaken; and the parliament, as well as the body of the people, will be deluded no longer. Besides, it sometimes happens for a cause to be exhausted and worn out, as that of the whigs in general seems at present to be: the nation had felt enough of it. It is as vain to hope restoring that decayed interest, as for a man of sixty to talk of entering on a new scene of life, that is only proper for youth and vigour. New circumstances and new men must arise, as well as new occasions, which are not likely to happen in our time. So that the dissenters have no game left at present, but to secure their indulgence: in order to which, I will be so bold as to offer them some advice.
First, That until some late proceedings are a little forgot, they would take care not to provoke, by any violence of tongue or pen, so great a majority as there is now against them; nor keep up any longer that combination with their broken allies; but disperse themselves, and lie dormant against some better opportunity. I have shown they could have got no advantage, if the late party had prevailed; and they will certainly lose none by its fall, unless through their own fault. They pretend a mighty veneration for the queen; let them give proof of it by quitting the ruined interest of those who have used her so ill; and by a due respect to the persons she is pleased to trust at present, with her affairs. When they can no longer hope to govern, when struggling can do them no good, and may possibly hurt them, what is left, but to be silent and passive?
Secondly, Although there be no law (beside that of God Almighty) against occasional conformity, it would be prudence in the dissenters to use it as tenderly as they can: for, beside the infamous hypocrisy of the thing itself, too frequent practice would perhaps make a remedy necessary. And after all they have said to justify themselves in this point, it still continues hard to conceive, how those consciences can pretend to be scrupulous, upon which an employment has more power, than the love of unity.
In the last place, I am humbly of opinion, that the dissenters would do well to drop that lesson they have learned from their directors, of affecting to be under horrible apprehensions, that the tories are in the interest of the pretender, and would be ready to embrace the first opportunity of inviting him over. It is with the worst grace in the world that they offer to join in the cry upon this article: as if those, who alone stood in the gap against all the encroachments of popery and arbitrary power, are not more likely to keep out both, than a set of schismaticks; who, to gratify their ambition and revenge, did, by the meanest compliances, encourage and spirit up that unfortunate prince, to fall upon such measures, as must at last have ended in the ruin of our liberty and religion.
THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 1711.
Semper causæ eventorum magis movent quam ipsa eventa.
We are always more moved at the causes of events, than at the events themselves.
I AM glad to observe that several among the whigs have begun very much to change their language of late. The style is now among the reasonable part of them, when they meet a man in business, or a member of parliament; well, gentlemen, if you go on as you have hitherto done, we shall no longer have any pretence to complain: they find, it seems, that there have been yet no overtures made to bring in the pretender, nor any preparatory steps toward it. They read no enslaving votes, nor bills brought in to endanger the subject. The indulgence to scrupulous consciences is again confirmed from the throne, inviolably preserved, and not the least whisper offered that may affect it. All care is taken to support the war; supplies cheerfully granted, and funds readily subscribed to, in spight of the little arts made use of to discredit them. The just resentments of some, which are laudable in themselves, and to which, at another juncture, it might be proper to give way, have been softened or diverted by the calmness of others; so that, upon the article of present management, I do not see how any objection of weight can well be raised.
However, our adversaries still allege, that this great success was wholly unexpected, and out of all probable view; that in publick affairs we ought least of all others to judge by events; that the attempt of changing a ministry during the difficulties of a long war, was rash and inconsiderate; that if the queen were disposed, by her inclinations, or from any personal dislike, for such a change, it might have been done with more safety in a time of peace; that if it had miscarried by any of those incidents, which in all appearance might have intervened, the consequences would perhaps have ruined the whole confederacy; and therefore, however it has now succeeded, the experiment was too dangerous to try.
But this is what we can by no means allow them. We never will admit rashness, or chance, to have produced all this harmony and order. It is visible to the world, that the several steps toward this change were slowly taken, and with the utmost caution. The movers observed as they went on, how matters would bear; and advanced no farther at first, than so as they might be able to stop, or go back, if circumstances were not mature. Things were grown to such a height, that it was no longer the question, whether a person who aimed at an employment, were a whig or tory; much less, whether he had merit, or proper abilities, for what he pretended to: he must owe his preferment only to the favourites; and the crown was so far from nominating, that they would not allow it a negative. This the queen was resolved no longer to endure; and began to break into their prescription, by bestowing one or two places of consequence, without consulting her ephori, after they had fixed them for others, and concluded as usual, that all their business was to signify their pleasure to her majesty. But, although the persons the queen had chosen, were such, as no objection could well be raised against upon the score of party, yet the oligarchy took the alarm; their sovereign authority was, it seems, called in question; they grew into anger and discontent, as if their undoubted rights were violated. All former obligations to their sovereign now became cancelled; and they put themselves upon the foot of the people, who are hardly used after the most eminent services.
I believe all men, who know any thing in politicks, will agree, that a prince thus treated by those he has most confided in, and perpetually loaded with his favours, ought to extricate himself as soon as possible; and is then only blameable in his choice of time, when he defers one minute after it is in his power; because, from the monstrous encroachments of exorbitant avarice and ambition, he cannot tell how long it may continue to be so. And it will be found, upon inquiring into history, that most of those princes, who have been ruined by favourites, have owed their misfortune to the neglect of earlier remedies; deferring to struggle, until they were quite sunk.
The whigs are every day cursing the ungovernable rage, the haughty pride, and insatiable covetousness of a certain person, as the cause of their fall; and are apt to tell their thoughts, that one single removal might have set all things right. But the interests of that single person, were found, upon experience, so complicated and woven with the rest, by love, by awe, by marriage, by alliance, that they would rather confound Heaven and earth, than dissolve such a union.
I have always heard and understood, that a king of England, possessed of his peoples hearts, at the head of a free parliament, and in full agreement with a great majority, made the true figure in the world that such a monarch ought to do; and pursued the real interest of himself and his kingdom. Will they allow her majesty to be in those circumstances at present? and was it not plain, by the addresses sent from all parts of the island, and by the visible disposition of the people, that such a parliament would undoubtedly be chosen? And so it proved, without the court's using any arts to influence elections.
What people then are these in a corner, to whom the constitution must truckle? If the whole nation's credit cannot supply funds for the war, without humble applications from the entire legislature to a few retailers of money, it is high time we should sue for a peace. What new maxims are these, which neither we nor our forefathers ever heard of before, and which no wise institution would ever allow! must our laws from henceforward pass the Bank and East India company, or have their royal assent, before they are in force?
To hear some of those worthy reasoners talking of credit, that she is so nice, so squeamish, so capricious, you would think they were describing a lady troubled with vapours or the colick, to be removed only by a course of steel, or swallowing a bullet. By the narrowness of their thoughts, one would imagine they conceived the world to be no wider than Exchange alley. It is probable they may have such a sickly dame among them; and it is well if she has no worse diseases, considering what hands she passes through. But the national credit is of another complexion; of sound health, and an even temper; her life and existence being a quintessence drawn from the vitals of the whole kingdom: and we find these money politicians, after all their noise, to be of the same opinion, by the court they paid her, when she lately appeared to them in the form of a lottery.
As to that mighty errour in politicks they charge upon the queen, for changing her ministry in the height of a war, I suppose it is only looked upon as an errour under a whiggish administration: otherwise the late king had much to answer for, who did it pretty frequently. And it is well known, that the late ministry of famous memory, was brought in during the present war; only with this circumstance, that two or three of the chief did first change their own principles, and then took in suitable companions.
But, however, I see no reason why the tories should not value their wisdom by events, as well as the whigs. Nothing was ever thought a more precipitate, rash counsel, than that of altering the coin at the juncture it was done; yet the prudence of the undertaking was sufficiently justified by the success. Perhaps it will be said, that the attempt was necessary, because the whole species of money was so grievously clipped and counterfeit: and is not her majesty's authority as sacred as her coin? and has not that been most scandalously clipped and mangled, and often counterfeited too?
It is another grievous complaint of the whigs, that their late friends, and the whole party, are treated with abundance of severity in print, and in particular by the Examiner. They think it hard, that when they are wholly deprived of power, hated by the people, and out of all hope of establishing themselves, their infirmities should be so often displayed, in order to render them yet more odious to mankind. This is what they employ their writers to set forth in their papers of the week; and it is humourous enough to observe one page taken up in railing at the Examiner, for his invectives against a discarded ministry; and the other side filled with the falsest and vilest abuses, against those who are now in the highest power and credit with their sovereign, and whose least breath would scatter them in silence and obscurity. However, although I have indeed often wondered to see so much licentiousness taken and connived at, and am sure it would not be suffered in any other country of Christendom; yet I never once invoked the assistance of the gaol or pillory, which, upon the least provocation, was the usual style during their tyranny. There has not passed a week these twenty years, without some malicious paper scattered in every coffeehouse by the emissaries of that party, whether it were down or up. I believe they will not pretend to object the same thing to us: nor do I remember any constant weekly paper with reflections on the late ministry or junto. They have many weak defenceless parts; they have not been used to a regular attack: and therefore it is that they are so ill able to endure one, when it comes to be their turn; so that they complain more of a few months truths from us, than we did of all their scandal and malice for twice as many years.
I cannot forbear observing upon this occasion, that those worthy authors I am speaking of, seem to me not fairly to represent the sentiments of their party; who, in disputing with us, do generally give up several of the late ministry, and freely own many of their failings. They confess the monstrous debt upon the navy to have been caused by most scandalous mismanagement; they allow the insolence of some, the avarice of others, to have been insupportable: but these gentlemen are most liberal in their praises to those persons, and upon those very articles, where their wisest friends give up the point. They gravely tell us, that such a one was the most faithful servant that ever any prince had: another, the most dutiful; a third, the most generous; a fourth, of the greatest integrity: so that I look upon these champions rather as retained by a cabal than a party; which I desire the reasonable men among them would please to consider.
THURSDAY, APRIL 26, 1711.
Indignum est in ea civitate, quæ legibus continetur, discedi a legibus.
I HAVE been often considering how it comes to pass, that the dexterity of mankind in evil, should always outgrow, not only the prudence and caution of private persons, but the continual expedience of the wisest laws contrived to prevent it. I cannot imagine a knave to possess a greater share of natural wit or genius, than an honest man. I have known very notable sharpers at play, who, upon other occasions, were as great dunces as human shape can well allow; and I believe, the same might be observed among the other knots of thieves and pickpockets about this town. The proposition however is certainly true, and to be confirmed by a hundred instances. A scrivener, an attorney, a stockjobber, and many other retailers of fraud, shall not only be able to overreach others much wiser than themselves, but find out new inventions to elude the force of any law made against them. I suppose the reason of this may be, that as the aggressor is said to have generally the advantage of the defender, so the makers of the law, which is to defend our rights, have usually not so much industry or vigour, as those whose interest leads them to attack it. Besides, it rarely happens that men are rewarded by the publick for their justice and virtue; neither do those who act upon such principles expect any recompense until the next world: whereas fraud, where it succeeds, gives present pay; and this is allowed the greatest spur imaginable both to labour and invention. When a law is made to stop some growing evil, the wits of those whose interest it is to break it with secrecy or impunity, are immediately at work; and even among those who pretend to fairer characters, many would gladly find means to avoid, what they would not be thought to violate. They desire to reap the advantage, if possible, without the shame, or at least without the danger. This art is what I take that dextrous race of men, sprung up soon after the revolution, to have studied with great application ever since; and to have arrived at great perfection in. According to the doctrine of some Romish casuists, they have found out quam propè ad peccatum fine peccato possint accedere; they can tell how to go within an inch of an impeachment, and yet come back untouched. They know what degree of corruption will just forfeit an employment, and whether the bribe you receive be sufficient to set you right, and put something in your pocket besides: how much to a penny you may safely cheat the queen, whether forty, fifty, or sixty per cent, according to the station you are in, and the dispositions of the persons in office below and above you. They have computed the price you may securely take or give for a place, or what part of the salary you ought to reserve; they can discreetly distribute five hundred pounds in a small borough, without any danger from the statutes against bribing at elections. They can manage a bargain for an office by a third, fourth, or fifth hand; so that you shall not know whom to accuse: they can win a thousand guineas at play in spite of the dice, and send away the loser satisfied. They can pass the most exorbitant accounts, overpay the creditor with half his demands, and sink the rest.
It would be endless to relate, or rather indeed impossible to discover, the several arts, which curious men have found out to enrich themselves, by defrauding the publick, in defiance of the law. The military men, both by sea and land, have equally cultivated this most useful science: neither has it been altogether neglected by the other sex; of which, on the contrary, I could produce an instance, that would make ours blush to be so far outdone.
Besides, to confess the truth, our laws themselves are extremely defective in many articles, which I take to be one ill effect of our best possession, liberty. Some years ago the ambassador of a great prince was arrested, and outrages committed on his person in our streets, without any possibility of redress from Westminster-hall, or the prerogative of the sovereign; and the legislature was forced to provide a remedy against the like evils in time to come. A commissioner of the stamped paper was lately discovered to have notoriously cheated the publick of great sums, for many years, by counterfeiting the stamps, which the law has made capital: but the aggravation of his crime, proved to be the cause that saved his life; and that additional heightening circumstance of betraying his trust, was found to be a legal defence. I am assured, that the notorious cheat of the brewers at Portsmouth, detected about two months ago in parliament, cannot, by any law now in force, be punished in any degree equal to the guilt and infamy of it. Nay, what is almost incredible, had Guiscard survived his detestable attempt upon Mr. Harley's person, all the inflaming circumstances of the fact would not have sufficed, in the opinion of many lawyers, to have punished him with death; and the publick must have lain under this dilemma, either to condemn him by a law ex post facto, (which would have been of dangerous consequence, and form an ignominious precedent) or undergo the mortification to see the greatest villian upon earth escape unpunished, to the infinite triumph and delight of popery and faction. But even this is not to be wondered at, when we consider, that of all the insolences offered to the queen since the act of indemnity, (at least that ever came to my ears) I can hardly instance above two or three, which by the letter of the law could amount to high treason.
From these defects in our laws, and the want of some discretionary power, safely lodged, to exert upon emergencies; as well as from the great acquirements of able men to elude the penalties of those laws they break, it is no wonder that the injuries done to the publick are so seldom redressed. But besides, no individual suffers by any wrong he does to the commonwealth, in proportion to the advantage he gains by doing it. There are seven or eight millions, who contribute to the loss, while the whole gain is sunk among a few. The damage suffered by the publick, is not so immediately or heavily felt by particular persons; and the zeal of prosecutions is apt to drop and be lost among numbers.
But imagine a set of politicians for many years at the head of affairs, the game visibly their own, and by consequence, acting with great security; may not these be sometimes tempted to forget their caution, by length of time, by excess of avarice and ambition, by the insolence or violence of their nature, or perhaps by a mere contempt for their adversaries? may not such motives as these put them often upon actions directly against the law, such as no evasions can be found for, and which will lay them fully open to the vengeance of a prevailing interest, whenever they are out of power? it is answered in the affirmative. And here we cannot refuse the late ministry their due praises; who, foreseeing a storm, provided for their own safety by two admirable expedients, by which, with great prudence, they have escaped the punishments due to pernicious counsels, and corrupt management. The first was to procure, under pretences hardly specious, a general act of indemnity, which cuts off all impeachments. The second was yet more refined: suppose, for instance, a counsel is to be pursued, which is necessary to carry on the dangerous designs of a prevailing party, to preserve them in power, to gratify the unmeasurable appetites of a few leaders civil and military, although by hazarding the ruin of the whole nation; this counsel, desperate in itself, unprecedented in its nature, they procure a majority to form into an address, which makes it look like the sense of the nation. Under that shelter they carry on their work, and lie secure against afterreckonings.
I must be so free to tell my meaning in this; that among other things, I understand it of the address made to the queen about three years ago, to desire that her majesty would not consent to a peace, without the entire restitution of Spain: a proceeding, which, to people abroad, must look like the highest strain of temerity, folly, and gasconade. But we at home, who allow the promoters of that advice to be no fools, can easily comprehend the depth and mystery of it. They were assured by this means to pin down the war upon us; consequently, to increase their own power and wealth, and multiply difficulties on the queen and kingdom, until they had fixed their party too firmly to be shaken, whenever they should find themselves disposed to reverse their address, and give us leave to wish for a peace.
If any man entertains a more favourable opinion of this monstrous step in politicks, I would ask him, what we must do in case we find it impossible to recover Spain? Those among the whigs, who believe a God, will confess that the events of war lie in his hands; and the rest of them, who acknowledge no such power, will allow, that fortune has too great a share in the good or ill success of military actions, to let a wise man reason upon them, as if they were entirely in his power. If Providence should think fit to refuse success to our arms, with how ill a grace, with what shame and confusion shall we be obliged to recant that precipitate address, unless the world will be so charitable to consider, that parliaments among us differ as much as princes; and that by the fatal conjunction of many unhappy circumstances, it is very possible for our island to be represented sometimes by those, who have the least pretensions. So little truth or justice there is in what some pretend to advance, that the actions of former senates ought always to be treated with respect by the latter; that those assemblies are all equally venerable, and no one to be preferred before another; by which argument, the parliament that began the rebellion against king Charles I, voted his trial, and appointed his murderers, ought to be remembered with respect.
But to return from this digression; it is very plain, that considering the defectiveness of our laws, the variety of cases, the weakness of the prerogative, the power or cunning of ill-designing men, it is possible that many great abuses may be visibly committed, which cannot be legally punished; especially if we add to this, that some inquiries might probably involve those, whom upon other accounts it is not thought convenient to disturb. Therefore it is very false reasoning, especially in the management of publick affairs, to argue that men are innocent, because the law has not pronounced them guilty.
I am apt to think it was to supply such defects as these, that satire was first introduced into the world; whereby those, whom neither religion, nor natural virtue, nor fear of punishment, were able to keep within the bounds of their duty, might be withheld by the shame of having their crimes exposed to open view in the strongest colours, and themselves rendered odious to mankind. Perhaps all this may be little regarded by such hardened and abandoned natures as I have to deal with; but, next to taming or binding a savage animal, the best service you can do the neighbourhood, is to give them warning either to arm themselves, or not come in its way.
Could I have hoped for any signs of remorse from the leaders of that faction, I should very gladly have changed my style, and forgot, or passed by, their million of enormities. But they are every day more fond of discovering their impotent zeal and malice: witness their conduct in the city about a fortnight ago, which had no other end imaginable, beside that of perplexing our affairs, and endeavouring to make things desperate, that themselves may be thought necessary. While they continue in this frantick mood, I shall not forbear to treat them as they deserve; that is to say, as the inveterate, irreconcileable enemies to our country, and its constitution.
THURSDAY, MAY 3, 1711.
Quis tulerit Gracchos de seditione querentes?
——— in vain
The Gracchi of sedition will complain.
THERE have been certain topicks of reproach liberally bestowed, for some years past, by the whigs and tories, upon each other. We charge the former, with a design of destroying the established church, and introducing fanaticism and freethinking in its stead. We accuse them as enemies to monarchy; as endeavouring to undermine the present form of government, and to build a commonwealth, or some new scheme of their own, upon its ruins. On the other side, their clamours against us may be summed up in those three formidable words, Popery, Arbitrary Power, and the Pretender. Our accusations against them we endeavour to make good by certain overt acts; such as their perpetually abusing the whole body of the clergy; their declared contempt for the very order of priesthood; their aversion against episcopacy; the publick encouragement and patronage they give to Tindal, Toland, and other atheistical writers; their appearing as professed advocates retained by the dissenters, excusing their separation, and laying the guilt of it to the obstinacy of the church; their frequent endeavours to repeal the test, and their setting up the indulgence to scrupulous consciences, as a point of greater importance than the established worship. The regard they bear to our monarchy, has appeared, by their openly ridiculing the martyrdom of king Charles I in their calves-head clubs, their common discourses, and their pamphlets; their denying the unnatural war raised against that prince, to have been a rebellion; their justifying his murder in the allowed papers of the week; their industry in publishing and spreading seditious and republican tracts, such as Ludlow's Memoirs, Sidney of Government, and many others; their endless lopping of the prerogative, and mincing into nothing her majesty's titles to the crown.
What proofs they bring for our endeavouring to introduce popery, arbitrary power, and the pretender, I cannot readily tell, and would be glad to hear: however, those important words having, by dextrous management, been found of mighty service to their cause, although applied with little colour either of reason or justice; I have been considering, whether they may not be adapted to more proper objects.
As to popery, which is the first of these; to deal plainly, I can hardly think there is any set of men among us, except the professors of it, who have any direct intention to introduce it here; but the question is, whether the principles and practices of us, or the whigs, be most likely to make way for it? It is allowed on all hands, that among the methods concerted at Rome, for bringing over England into the bosom of the catholick church, one of the chief was to send jesuits, and other emissaries, in lay habits; who, personating tradesmen and mechanicks, should mix with the people, and under the pretence of a farther and purer reformation, endeavour to divide us into as many sects as possible; which would either put us under the necessity of returning to our old errours, to preserve peace at home; or, by our divisions, make way for some powerful neighbour, with the assistance of the pope's permission, and a consecrated banner, to convert and enslave us at once. If this has been reckoned good politicks, (and it was the best the jesuit schools could invent) I appeal to any man, whether the whigs, for many years past, have not been employed in the very same work? They professed on all occasions, that they knew no reason why any one system of speculative opinions (as they term the doctrines of the church) should be established by law, more than another; or why employments should be confined to the religion of the magistrate, and that called the church established. The grand maxim they laid down was, that no man, for the sake of a few notions and ceremonies, under the names of doctrine and discipline, should be denied the liberty of serving his country: as if places would go a begging unless brownists, familists, sweet-singers, quakers, anabaptists, and muggletonians, would take them off our hands.
I have been sometimes imagining this scheme brought to perfection, and how diverting it would be to see half a dozen sweet-singers on the bench in their ermines, and two or three quakers with their white staves at court. I can only say, this project is the very counterpart of the late king James's design, which he took up as the best method for introducing his own religion, under the pretext of a universal liberty of conscience, and that no difference in religion should make any in his favour. Accordingly, to save appearances, he dealt some employments among dissenters of most denominations; and what he did was no doubt, in pursuance of the best advice he could get at home or abroad; but the church thought it the most dangerous step he could take for her destruction. It is true king James admitted papists among the rest, which the whigs would not: but this is sufficiently made up by a material circumstance, wherein they seem to have much out-done that prince, and to have carried their liberty of conscience to a higher point, having granted it to all the classes of freethinkers, (which the nice conscience of a popish prince would not give him leave to do) and were therein mightily overseen; because it is agreed by the learned, that there is but a very narrow step from atheism, to the other extreme, superstition. So that upon the whole, whether the whigs had any real design of bringing in popery or not, it is very plain that they took the most effectual step toward it; and if the jesuits had been their immediate directors, they could not have taught them better, nor have found apter scholars.
Their second accusation is, that we encourage and maintain arbitrary power in princes; and promote enslaving doctrines among the people. This they go about to prove by instances; producing the particular opinions of certain divines in king Charles II's reign, a decree of Oxford university, and some few writers since the revolution. What they mean is the principle of passive obedience and nonresistance, which those who affirm, did I believe never intend should include arbitrary power. However, although I am sensible that it is not reckoned prudent in a dispute to make any concessions, without the last necessity; yet I do agree, that in my own private opinion, some writers did carry that tenet of passive obedience to a height, which seemed hardly consistent with the liberties of a country, whose laws can neither be enacted nor repealed, without the consent of the whole people: I mean not those, who affirm it due in general, as it certainly is, to the legislature; but such as fix it entirely in the prince's person. This last has, I believe, been done by a very few; but when the whigs quote authors to prove it upon us, they bring in all who mention it as a duty in general, without applying it to princes abstracted from their senate.
By thus freely declaring my own sentiments of passive obedience, it will at least appear that I do not write for a party; neither do I upon any occasion pretend to speak their sentiments, but my own. The majority of the two houses, and the present ministry (if those be a party) seem to me in all their proceedings to pursue the real interest of church and state; and if I should happen to differ from particular persons among them, in a single notion about government, I suppose they will not upon that account explode me and my paper. However, as an answer, once for all, to the tedious scurrilities of those idle people, who affirm I am hired and directed what to write, I must here inform them, that their censure is an effect of their principles. The present ministry are under no necessity of employing prostitute pens; they have no dark designs to promote by advancing heterodox opinions.
But (to return) suppose two or three private divines under king Charles the second, did a little overstrain the doctrine of passive obedience to princes; some allowance might be given to the memory of that unnatural rebellion against his father, and the dismal consequences of resistance. It is plain, by the proceedings of the churchmen before and at the Revolution, that this doctrine was never designed to introduce arbitrary power.
I look upon the whigs and dissenters to be exactly of the same political faith; let us therefore see, what share each of them had in advancing arbitrary power. It is manifest, that the fanaticks made Cromwell the most absolute tyrant in Christendom. The rump abolished the house of lords, the army abolished the rump, and by this army of saints he governed. The dissenters took liberty of conscience and employments from the late king James, as an acknowledgment of his dispensing power; which makes a king of England as absolute as the Turk. The whigs, under the late king, perpetually declared for keeping up a standing army in times of peace; which has, in all ages, been the first and great step to the ruin of liberty. They were besides discovering every day their inclinations to destroy the rights of the church, and declared their opinion in all companies against the bishops sitting in the house of peers; which was exactly copying after their predecessors of 1641. I need not say, their real intentions were to make the king absolute; but whatever be the designs of innovating men, they usually end in a tyranny; as we may see by a hundred examples in Greece, and in the later commonwealths of Italy mentioned by Machiavel.
In the third place, the whigs accuse us of a design to bring in the pretender; and to give it a greater air of probability, they suppose the queen to be a party in this design; which, however, is no very extraordinary supposition in those, who have advanced such singular paradoxes concerning Greg and Guiscard. Upon this article their charge is general, without ever offering to produce an instance. But I verily think and believe, it will appear no paradox, that if ever he be brought in, the whigs are his men. For first, it is an undoubted truth, that a year or two after the Revolution, several leaders of that party had their pardons sent them by the late king James; and had entered upon measures to restore him, on account of some disobligation they received from king William. Besides, I would ask, whether those who were under the greatest ties of gratitude to king James, are not at this day become the most zealous whigs? and of what party those are now, who kept a long correspondence with St. Germains?
It is likewise very observable of late, that the whigs, upon all occasions, profess their belief of the pretender's being no impostor, but a real prince, born of the late queen's body; which, whether it be true or false, is very unseasonably advanced, considering the weight such an opinion must have with the vulgar, if they once thoroughly believe it. Neither is it at ail improbable, that the pretender himself puts his chief hopes in the friendship he expects from the dissenters and whigs, by his choice to invade the kingdom, when the latter were most in credit; and he had reason to count upon the former, from the gracious treatment they received from his supposed father, and their joyful acceptance of it. But farther, what could be more consistent with the whiggish notion of a revolution principle, than to bring in the pretender? A revolution principle, as their writings and dscourses have taught us to define it, is a principle perpetually disposing men to revolutions; and this is suitable to the famous saying of a great whig, that the more revolutions the better; which, how odd a maxim soever in appearance, I take to be the true characteristick of the party.
A dog loves to turn round often; yet after certain revolutions he lies down to rest: but heads under the dominion of the moon, are for perpetual changes, and perpetual revolutions: besides, the whigs owe all their wealth to wars and revolutions; like the girl at Bartholomew fair, who gets a penny by turning round a hundred times with swords in her hands.
To conclude, the whigs have a natural faculty of bringing in pretenders, and will therefore probably endeavour to bring in the great one at last. How many pretenders to wit, honour, nobility, politicks, have they brought in these last twenty years; In short, they have been sometimes able to procure a majority of pretenders in parliament; and wanted nothing to render the work complete, except a pretender at their head.
THURSDAY, MAY 10, 1711.
Dos est magna parentum virtus.
The virtue of parents is a large dowry to their children.
I TOOK up a paper some days ago in a coffeehouse; and if the correctness of the style, and a superiour spirit in it, had not immediately undeceived me, I should have been apt to imagine I had been reading an Examiner. In this paper there were several important propositions advanced. For instance, that Providence raised up Mr. Harley to be an instrument of great good, in a very critical juncture, when it was much wanted. That his very enemies acknowledge his eminent abilities, and distinguished merit, by their unwearied and restless endeavours against his person and reputation; that they have had an inveterate malice against both; that he has been wonderfully preserved from some unparallelled attempts; with more to the same purpose. I immediately computed, by rules of arithmetick, that in the last cited words there was something more intended than the attempt of Guiscard, which, I think, can properly pass but for one of the some. And although I dare not pretend to guess the author's meaning; yet the expression allows such a latitude, that I would venture to hold a wager, most readers, both whig and tory, have agreed with me, that this plural number must in all probability, among other facts, take in the business of Greg.
See now the difference of styles. Had I been to have told my thoughts on this occasion; instead of saying how Mr. Harley was treated by some persons and preserved from some unparallelled attempts, I should, with intolerable bluntness and ill manners, have told a formal story of a committee sent to a condemned criminal in Newgate, to bribe him with pardon, on condition he would swear high treason against his master, who discovered his correspondence and secured his person, when a certain grave politician had given him warning to make his escape: and by this means I should have drawn a whole swarm of hedge-writers, to exhaust their catalogue of scurrilities against me, as a liar and slanderer. But, with submission to the author of that forementioned paper, I think he has carried that expression to the utmost it will bear; for, after all this notice, I know of but two attempts against Mr. Harley, that can really be called unparallelled, which are those aforesaid of Greg and Guiscard; and as to the rest, I will engage to parallel them from the story of Cataline, and others I could produce.
However, I cannot but observe, with infinite pleasure, that a great part of what I have charged upon the late prevailing faction, and for affirming which I have been adorned with so many decent epithets, has been sufficiently confirmed at several times, by the resolutions of one or the other house of parliament. I may therefore now say, I hope, with good authority, that there have been some unparallelled attempts against Mr. Harley; that the late ministry were justly to blame in some managements, which occasioned the unfortunate battle of Almanza, and the disappointment at Toulon; that the publick has been grievously wronged by most notorious frauds during the whig administration; that those who advised the bringing in the Palatines, were enemies to the kingdom; that the late managers of the revenue have not duly passed their accounts for a great part of thirty-five millions, and ought not to be trusted in such employments any more. Perhaps, in a little time, I may venture to affirm some other paradoxes of this kind, and produce the same vouchers. And perhaps also, if it had not been so busy a period, instead of one Examiner, the late ministry might have had above four hundred, each of whose little fingers, would be heavier than my loins. It makes me think of Neptune's threat to the winds:
Quos ego — sed motos præstat componere fluctus.
Thus, when the sons of Æolus had almost sunk the ship with the tempests they raised, it was necessary to smooth the ocean, and secure the vessel, instead of pursuing the offenders.
But I observe the general expectation at present, instead of dwelling any longer upon conjectures who is to be punished for past miscarriages, seems bent upon the rewards intended to those, who have been so highly instrumental in rescuing our constitution from its late dangers. It is the observation of Tacitus, in the life of Agricola, that his eminent services had raised a general opinion of his being designed by the emperor for prætor of Britain: Nullis in hoc suis sermonibus, sed quia par videbatur; and then he adds, Non semper errat fama, aliquando et eligit. The judgment of a wise prince, and a general disposition of the people, do often point at the same person; and sometimes the popular wishes do often foretel the reward intended for some superiour merit. Thus, among several deserving persons, there are two, whom the publick vogue has in a peculiar manner singled out, as designed very soon to receive the choicest marks of the royal favour; one of them to be placed in a very high station, and both to increase the number of our nobility. This I say, is the general conjecture; for I pretend to none, nor will be chargeable if it be not fulfilled; since it is enough for their honour, that the nation thinks them worthy of the greatest rewards.
Upon this occasion, I cannot but take notice, that of all the heresies in politicks profusely scattered by the partisans of the late administration, none ever displeased me more, or seemed to have more dangerous consequences to monarchy, than that pernicious talent, so much affected, of discovering a contempt for birth, family, and ancient nobility. All the threadbare topicks of poets and orators were displayed to discover to us, that merit and virtue were the only nobility; and that the advantages of blood, could not make a knave or a fool, either honest or wise. Most popular commotions we read of in the histories of Greece and Rome, took their rise from unjust quarrels to the nobles; and in the latter, the plebeians encroachments on the patricians, were the first cause of their ruin.
Suppose there be nothing but opinion in the difference of blood; every body knows, that authority is very much founded on opinion. But surely that difference is not wholly imaginary. The advantages of a liberal education, of choosing the best companions to converse with, not being under the necessity of practising little mean tricks by a scanty allowance, the enlarging of thought, and acquiring the knowledge of men and things by travel, the example of ancestors inciting to great and good actions; these are usually some of the opportunities that fall in the way of those, who are born of what we call the better families: and allowing genius to be equal in them and the vulgar, the odds are clearly on their side. Nay, we may observe in some, who, by the appearance of merit, or favour of fortune, have risen to great stations from an obscure birth, that they have still retained some sordid vices of their parentage or education; either insatiable avarice, or ignominious falsehood and corruption.
To say the truth, the great neglect of education in several noble families, whose sons are suffered to pass the most improvable seasons of their youth in vice and idleness, have too much lessened their reputation: but even this misfortune we owe, among all the rest, to that whiggish practice of reviling the universities, under the pretence of their instilling peadantry, narrow principles, and high church doctrines.
I would not be thought to undervalue merit and virtue, wherever they are to be found; but will allow them capable of the highest dignities in a state, when they are in a very great degree of eminence. A pearl holds its value, though it be found in a dunghill; but however, that is not the most probable place to search for it. Nay, I will go farther, and admit, that a man of quality without merit, is just so much the worse for his quality; which at once sets his vices in a more publick view, and reproaches him for them. But, on the other side, I doubt those who are always undervaluing the advantages of birth, and celebrating personal merit, have principally an eye to their own, which they are fully satisfied with, and which nobody will dispute with them about; whereas they cannot, without impudence and folly, pretend to be nobly born; because this is a secret too easily discovered: for no men's parentage is so nicely inquired into as that of assuming upstarts, especially when they affect to make it better than it is, (as they often do) or behave themselves with insolence.
But whatever may be the opinion of others upon this subject, whose philosophical scorn for blood and families reaches even to those that are royal, or perhaps took its rise from a whiggish contempt of the latter; I am pleased to find two such instances of extraordinary merit, as I have mentioned, joined with ancient and honourable birth; which, whether it be of real or imaginary value, has been held in veneration by all wise polite states, both ancient and modern. And as much a foppery as men pretend to think it, nothing is more observable in those who rise to great place or wealth from mean originals, than their mighty solicitude to convince the world, that they are not so low as is commonly believed. They are glad to find it made out, by some strained genealogy, that they have a remote alliance with better families. Cromwell himself was pleased with the impudence of a flatterer, who undertook to prove him descended from a branch of the royal stem. I know a citizen who adds or alters a letter in his name, with every plum he acquires; he now wants only the change of a vowel to be allied to a sovereign prince in Italy; and that perhaps he may contrive to be done by a mistake of the graver upon his tombstone.
When I am upon this subject of nobility, I am sorry for the occasion given me to mention the loss of a person, who is so great an ornament to it, as the late lord president; who began early to distinguish himself in the publick service, and passed through the highest employments of state, in the most difficult times, with great abilities and untainted honour. As he was of a good old age, his principles of religion and loyalty had received no mixture from late infusions, but were instilled into him by his illustrious father, and other noble spirits, who had exposed their lives and fortunes for the royal martyr:
— Pulcherrima proles,
Magnanimi heroes nati melioribus annis.
His first great action was, like Scipio, to defend his father when by numbers; and his filial piety was not only rewarded with long life, but with a son, who upon the like occasion would have shown the same resolution. No man ever preserved his dignity better when he was out of power, nor showed more affability while he was in. To conclude, his character (which I do not here pretend to draw) is such as his nearest friends may safely trust to the most impartial pen; nor wants the least of that allowance, which, they say, is required for those who are dead.
THURSDAY, MAY 17, 1711.
———— Quem cur distringere coner,
Tutus ab infestis latronibus?
Safe it lies
Within the sheath, till thieves and villains rise.
I NEVER let slip an opportunity of endeavouring to convince the world, that I am not partial; and to confound the idle reproach of my being hired or directed what to write in defence of the present ministry, or for detecting the practices of the former. When I first undertook this paper, I firmly resolved, that if ever I observed any gross neglect, abuse, or corruption in the publick management, which might give any just offence to reasonable people; I would take notice of it with that innocent boldness which becomes an honest man, and a true lover of his country; at the same time preserving the respect due to persons so highly entrusted by so wise and excellent a queen. I know not how such a liberty might have been resented; but I thank God there has been no occasion given me to exercise it; for I can safely affirm, that I have with the utmost rigour examined all the actions of the present ministry, as far as they fall under general cognizance, without being able to accuse them of one ill or mistaken step. Observing indeed some time ago, that seeds of dissension had been plentifully scattered from a certain corner, and fearing they began to rise and spread, I immediately writ a paper on the subject, which I treated with that warmth I thought it required; but the prudence of those at the helm, soon prevented this growing evil; and at present it seems likely to have no consequences.
I have had indeed for some time a small occasion of, which I thought too inconsiderable for a formal subject of complaint, although I have hinted at it more than once. But it is grown at present to as great a height, as a matter of that nature can possibly bear; and therefore I conceive it high time that an effectual stop should be put to it. I have been amazed at the flaming licentiousness of several weekly papers, which, for some months past, have been chiefly employed in barefaced scurrilities against those who are in the greatest trust and favour with the queen, with the first and last letters of their names frequently printed, or some periphrasis describing their station, or other innuendoes contrived too plain to be mistaken. The consequence of which is, (and it is natural it should be so) that their long impunity has rendered them still more audacious.
At this time I particularly intend a paper called the Medley; whose indefatigable incessant railings against me I never thought convenient to take notice of, because it would have diverted my design, which I intended to be of publick use. Besides, I never yet observed that writer, or those writers (for it is every way a Medley) to argue against any one material point or fact that I had advanced, or make one fair quotation. And after all, I knew very well how soon the world grow weary of controversy. It is plain to me, that three or four hands at least have been joined at times in that worthy composition; but the outlines, as well as the finishing, seem to have been always the work of the same pen, as it is visible from half a score beauties of style inseparable from it. But who these Medlers are, or where the judicious leaders have picked them up, I shall never go about to conjecture; factious rancour, false wit, abandoned scurrility, impudent falsehood, and servile pedantry, having so many fathers, and so few to own them, that curiosity herself would not be at the pains to guess. It is the first time I ever did myself the honour to mention that admirable paper; nor could I imagine any occasion likely to happen that would make it necessary for me to engage with such an adversary. This paper is weekly published, and as appears by the number, has been so for several months; and is, next to the Observator, allowed to be the best production of the party. Last week my printer brought me that of May 7, Number 32, where there are two paragraphs relating to the speaker of the house of commons, and to Mr. Harley, which, as little as I am inclined to engage with such an antagonist, I cannot let pass without failing in my duty to the publick: and if those in power will suffer such infamous insinuations to pass with impunity, they act without precedent from any age or country of the world.
I desire to open this matter, and leave the whigs themselves to determine upon it. The house of commons resolved, nemine contradicente, that the speaker should congratulate Mr. Harley's escape and recovery, in the name of the house, upon his first attendance on their service. This is accordingly done; and the speech, together with the chancellor of the exchequer's, are printed by order of the house. The author of the Medley takes this speech to task the very next week after it is published; telling us in the aforesaid paper, that the speaker's commending Mr. Harley for being an instrument of great good to the nation, was ill-chosen flattery; because Mr. Harley had brought the nation under great difficulties, to say no more. He says, that when the speaker tells Mr. Harley, that Providence has wonderfully preserved him from some unparallelled attempts, (for that the Medley alludes to) he only revives a false and groundless calumny upon other men; which is an instance of impotent, but inveterate malice, that makes him [the speaker] still appear more vile and contemptible. This is an extract from his first paragraph. In the next, this writer says, that the speaker's praying to God for the continuance of Mr. Harley's life, as an invaluable blessing, was a fulsome piece of insincerity, which exposes him to shame and derision! because he is known to bear ill will to Mr. Harley, to have an extreme bad opinion of him, and to think him an obstructor of those fine measures he would bring about.
I now appeal to the whigs themselves, whether a great minister of state, in high favour with the queen, and a speaker of the house of commons, were ever publickly treated after so extraordinary a manner, in the most licentious times? For this is not a clandestine libel stolen into the world, but openly printed and sold with the bookseller's name and place of abode at the bottom. And the juncture is admirable, when Mr. Harley is generally believed upon the very point to be made an earl, and promoted to the most important station of the kingdom; nay, the very marks of esteem he has so lately received, from the whole representative body of the people, are called ill-chosen flattery, and a fulsome piece of insincerity, exposing the donors to shame and derision.
Does this intrepid writer think he has sufficiently disguised the matter, by that stale artifice of altering the story, and putting it as a supposed case? Did any man, who ever saw the congratulatory speech, read either of those paragraphs in the Medley, without interpreting them just as I have done? will the author declare upon his great sincerity, that he never had any such meaning? is it enough, that a jury at Westminster-hall would perhaps not find him guilty of defaming the speaker and Mr. Harley in that paper? which, however, I am much in doubt of too; and must think the law very defective, if the reputation of such persons must lie at the mercy of such pens. I do not remember to have seen any libel, supposed to be writ with caution and double meaning in order to prevent prosecution, delivered under so thin a cover, or so unartificially made up, as this; whether it were from an apprehension of his readers' dullness, or an effect of his own. He has transcribed the very phrases of the speaker, and put them in a different character, for fear they might pass unobserved, and prevent all possibility of being mistaken. I shall be pleased to see him have resource to the old evasion, and say, that I who make the application am chargeable with the abuse: let any reader of either party be judge. But I cannot forbear asserting as my opinion, that for a ministry to endure such open calumny, without calling the author to account, is next to deserving it. And this is an omission I venture to charge upon the present ministry, who are too apt to despise little things, which, however, have not always little consequences.
When this paper was first undertaken, one design among others was, to examine some of those writings so frequently published with an evil tendency either to religion or government; but I was long diverted by other inquiries, which I thought more immediately necessary; to animadvert upon men's actions, rather than their speculations; to show the necessity there was of changing the ministry, that our constitution in church and state might be preserved; to expose some dangerous principles and practices under the former administration; and prove by many instances, that those who are now at the helm, are entirely in the true interest of prince and people. This I may modestly hope has in some measure been already done, sufficient to answer the end proposed, which was, to inform the ignorant, and those at a distance; and to convince such as are engaged in party from no other motive than that of conscience. I know not whether I shall have any appetite to continue this work much longer; if I do, perhaps some time may be spent in exposing and overturning the false reasonings of those, who engage their pens on the other side, without losing time in vindicating myself against their scurrilities, much less in retorting them. Of this sort there is a certain humble companion]], a French maitre des langues, who every month publishes an extract from votes, news-papers, speeches, and proclamations, larded with some insipid remarks of his own; which he calls, 'The Political State of Great Britain.' This ingenious piece, he tells us himself, is constantly translated into French, and printed in Holland, where the Dutch, no doubt, conceive most noble sentiments of us, conveyed through such a vehicle. It is observable in his account for April, that the vanity so predominant in many of his nation, has made him more concerned for the honour of Guiscard, than the safety of Mr. Harley. And for fear we should think the worse of his country upon that assassin's account, he tells us there have been more murders, parricides, and villanies committed in England, than any other part of the world. I cannot imagine how an illiterate foreigner, who is neither master of our language, nor indeed of common sense, and who is devoted to a faction, I suppose for no other reason, but his having more whig customers than tories, should take it into his head to write politick tracts of our affairs. But I presume, he builds upon the foundation of having been called to an account for his insolence in one of his monthly former productions; which is a method that seldom fails of giving some vogue to the foolishest composition. If such a work must be done, I wish some tolerable hand would undertake it; and that we would not suffer a little whiffling Frenchman, to neglect his trade of teaching his language to our children, and presume to instruct foreigners in our politicks.
THURSDAY, MAY 24, 1711.
Delicta majorum immeritus lues,
Romane, donec templa refeceris,
Ædesque labentes deorum.
You of your father's crimes the guilt shall bear,
Unless the sacred temples you repair.
SEVERAL letters have been lately sent me, desiring I would make honourable mention of the pious design of building fifty churches in several parts of London and Westminster, where they are most wanted, occasioned by an address of the convocation to the queen, and recommended by her majesty to the house of commons; who immediately promised they would enable her to accomplish so excellent a design, and are now preparing a bill accordingly. I thought to have deferred any notice of this important affair until the end of this session; at which time, I proposed to deliver a particular account of the great and useful things, already performed by this present parliament. But, in compliance to those who give themselves the trouble of advising me, and partly convinced by the reasons they offer, I am content to bestow a paper upon a subject that indeed so well deserves it.
The clergy, and whoever else have a true concern for the constitution of the church, cannot but be highly pleased with one prospect in this new scene of public affairs. They may very well remember the time, when every session of parliament was like a cloud hanging over their heads: and if it happened to pass without bursting into some storm upon the church, we thanked God, and thought it a happy escape until the next meeting; upon which we resumed our secret apprehensions, although we were not allowed to believe any danger. Things are now altered; the parliament takes the necessities of the church into consideration, receives the proposals of the clergy met in convocation, and amid all the exigencies of a long expensive war, and under the pressure of heavy debts, finds a supply for erecting fifty edifices for the service of God. And it appears by the address of the commons to her majesty upon this occasion, (wherein they discovered a true spirit of religion) that applying the money granted to accomplish so excellent a design, would, in their opinion, be the most effectual way of carrying on the war; that it would (to use their own words) be a means of drawing down blessings on her majesty's undertakings, as it adds to the number of those places, where the prayers of her devout and faithful subjects will be daily offered up to God, for the prosperity of her government at home, and the success of her arms abroad.
I am sometimes hoping, that we are not naturally so bad a people, as we have appeared for some years past. Faction, in order to support itself, is generally forced to make use of such abominable instruments, that as long as it prevails, the genius of a nation is overpressed, and cannot appear to exert itself; but, when that is broken and suppressed, when things return to the old course, mankind will naturally fall to act from principles of reason and religion. The Romans, upon a great victory or escape from publick danger, frequently built a temple in honour of some god, to whose peculiar favour they imputed their success or delivery; and sometimes the general did the like, at his own expense, to acquit himself of some pious vow he had made. How little of any thing resembling this has been done by us after all our victories! And perhaps, for that reason among others, they have turned to so little account. But what could we expect? We acted all along as if we believed nothing of a God, or his providence; and therefore it was consistent to offer up our edifices only to those, whom we looked upon as givers of all victory, in his stead.
I have computed that fifty churches may be built, by a medium, at six thousand pounds for a church, which is somewhat under the price of a subject's palace; yet perhaps the care of above two hundred thousand souls, with the benefit of their prayers for the prosperity of their queen and country, may be almost put in the balance with the domestick convenience, or even magnificence, of any subject whatsoever.
Sir William Petty, who, under the name of captain Graunt, published some observations upon the bills of mortality above five years after the Restoration, tells us, the parishes in London were even then so unequally divided, that some were two hundred times larger than others. Since that time, the increase of trade, the frequency of parliaments, the desire of living in the metropolis, together with that genius for building which began after the fire, and has ever since continued, have prodigiously enlarged this town on all sides where it was capable of increase; and those tracts of land built into streets, have generally continued of the same parish they belonged to while they lay in fields; so that the care of about thirty thousand souls has been sometimes committed to one minister, whose church would hardly contain the twentieth part of his flock: neither, I think, was any family in those parishes obliged to pay above a groat a year to their spiritual pastor. Some few of those parishes have been since divided; in others were erected chapels of ease, where a preacher is maintained by general contribution. Such poor shifts and expedients, to the infinite shame and scandal of so vast and flourishing a city, have been thought sufficient for the service of God and religion, as if they were circumstances wholly indifferent.
This defect, among other consequences of it, has made schism a sort of necessary evil; there being at least three hundred thousand inhabitants in this town, whom the churches would not be able to contain, if the people were ever so well disposed: and in a city, not overstocked with zeal, the only way to preserve any degree of religion, is to make all attendance upon the duties of it as easy and cheap as possible: whereas, on the contrary, in the larger parishes, the press is so great, and the pew-keepers tax so exorbitant, that those who love to save trouble and money, either stay at home, or retire to the conventicles. I believe there are few examples, in any christian country, of so great a neglect of religion; and the dissenting teachers have made their advantage largely by it, sowing tares among the wheat while men slept, being much more expert at procuring contributions, which is a trade they are bred up in, than men of a liberal education.
And to say truth, the way practised by several parishes in and about this town, of maintaining their clergy by voluntary subscriptions, is not only an indignity to the character, but has many pernicious consequences attending it; such a precarious dependance subjecting a clergyman, who has not more than ordinary spirit and resolution, to many inconveniences, which are obvious to imagine; but this defect will no doubt be remedied by the wisdom and piety of the present parliament; and a tax laid upon every house in a parish for the support of their pastor. Neither indeed can it be conceived, why a house, whose purchase is not reckoned above one third less than land of the same yearly rent, should not pay a twentieth part annually (which is half tithe) to the support of the minister. One thing I could wish, that in fixing the maintenance to the several ministers in these new intended parishes, no determinate sum of money may be named; which, in all perpetuities, ought by any means to be avoided; but rather a tax in proportion to the rent of each house, although it be but a twentieth, or even a thirtieth part. The contrary of this, I am told, was done in several parishes of the city after the fire, where the incumbent and his successors were to receive for ever a certain sum; for example, one or two hundred pounds a year. But the lawgivers did not consider, that what we call at present one hundred pounds, will not in process of time have the intrinsick value of twenty; as twenty pounds now, are hardly equal to forty shillings, three hundred years ago. There are a thousand instances of this all over England, in reserved rents applied to hospitals, in old chiefries, and even among the clergy themselves, in those payments which, I think, they call a modus.
As no prince had ever better dispositions than her present majesty for the advancement of true religion, so there never was any age that produced greater occasions to employ them on. It is an unspeakable misfortune, that any design of so excellent a queen should be checked by the necessities of a long and ruinous war, which the folly or corruption of modern politicians have involved us in, against all the maxims whereby our country flourished so many hundred years: else, her majesty's care of religion, would certainly have reached even to her American plantations. Those noble countries, stocked by numbers from hence, whereof too many are in no very great reputation for faith or morals, will be a perpetual reproach to us, until some better care be taken for cultivating christianity among them. If the governors of those several colonies were obliged, at certain times, to transmit an exact representation of the state of religion in their several districts, and the legislature here would, in a time of leisure, take that affair under their consideration, it might be perfected wiih little difficulty, and be a great addition to the glories of her majesty's reign.
But, to wave farther speculations upon so remote a scene, while we have subjects enough to employ them on at home; it is to be hoped the clergy will not let slip any proper opportunity of improving the pious dispositions of the queen and kingdom, for the advantage of the church; when, by the example of times past, they consider how rarely such conjunctures are likely to happen. What if some method were thought on toward the repairing of churches; for which there is likely to be too frequent occasion; those ancient Gothic structures throughout this kingdom going every year to decay? That expedient of repairing or rebuilding them by charitable collections, seems in my opinion not very suitable either to the dignity and usefulness of the work, or to the honour of our country; since it might be so easily done, with very little charge to the publick, in a much more decent and honourable manner, while parliaments are so frequently called. But these, and other regulations, must be left to a time of peace, which I shall humbly presume to wish may soon be our share, however offensive it may be to any, either abroad or at home, who are gainers by the war.
THURSDAY, MAY 31, 1711.
Scilicet, ut posses curvo dignoscere rectum.
That hence you may distinguish right from wrong.
HAVING been forced in my papers to use the cant words of whig and tory, which have so often varied their significations for twenty years past, I think it necessary to say something of the several changes those two terms have undergone since that period; and then to tell the reader what I have always understood by each of them, since I undertook this work. I reckon that these sorts of conceited appellations, are usually invented by the vulgar; who, not troubling themselves to examine thoroughly the merits of a cause, are consequently the most violent partisans of what they espouse, and in their quarrels usually proceed to their beloved argument of calling names, until at length they light upon one which is sure to stick: and in time, each party grows proud of that appellation, which their adversaries at first intended for a reproach. Of this kind were the prasini and veneti, the guelfs and gibelines, hugonots and papists, roundheads and cavaliers, with many others of ancient and modern date. Among us, of late, there seems to have been a barrenness of invention in this point; the words whig and tory, although they be not much above thirty years old, having been pressed to the service of many successions of parties, with very different ideas fastened to them. This distinction, I think, began toward the latter part of king Charles the second's reign, was dropped during that of his successor, and then revived at the Revolution; since which it has perpetually flourished, although applied to very different kinds of principles and persons. In that convention of lords and commons, some of both houses were for a regency to the prince of Orange, with a reservation of style and title to the absent king, which should be made use of in all publick acts: others, when they were brought to allow the throne vacant, thought the succession should immediately go to the next heir, according to the fundamental laws of the kingdom, as if the last king were actually dead. And although the dissenting lords (in whose house the chief opposition was) did at last yield both those points, took the oaths to the new king, and many of them, employments; yet they were looked upon with an evil eye, by the warm zealots of the other side; neither did the court ever heartily favour any of them, although some of them were of the most eminent for abilities and virtue, and served that prince, both in his councils and his army, with untainted faith. It was apprehended at the same time, and perhaps it might have been true, that many of the clergy would have been better pleased with the scheme of a regency, or at least an uninterrupted lineal succession, for the sake of those whose consciences were truly scrupulous; and they thought there were some circumstances in the case of the deprived bishops, that looked a little hard, or at least deserved commiseration.
These, and other the like reflections, did, as I conceive, revive the denominations of whig and tory.
Some time after the Revolution, the distinction of high and low church came in, which was raised by the dissenters, in order to break the church party by dividing the members into high and low; and the opinions raised, that the high joined with the papists, inclined the low to fall in with the dissenters.
And here I shall take leave to produce some principles, which, in the several periods of the late reign, served to denote a man of one or the other party. To be against a standing army in time of peace, was all highchurch, tory, and tantivy; to differ from a majority of bishops, was the same. To raise the prerogative above law for serving a turn, was low church and whig. The opinion of the majority in the house of commons, especially of the country party or landed interest, was high-flying and rank tory. To exalt the king's supremacy beyond all precedent, was low-church, whiggish, and moderate. To make the least doubt of the pretended prince's being suppositious, and a tiler's son, was in their phrase top and topgallant, and perfect jacobitism. To resume the most exorbitant grants that were ever given to a set of profligate favourites, and apply them to the publick, was the very quintessence of toryism; notwithstanding those grants were known to be acquired by sacrificing the honour and the wealth of England.
In most of these principles, the two parties seem to have shifted opinions, since their institution under king Charles the second; and indeed to have gone very different from what was expected from each, even at the time of the Revolution. But as to that concerning the pretender, the whigs have so far renounced it, that they are grown the great advocates for his legitimacy: which gives me the opportunity of vindicating a noble duke, who was accused of a blunder in the house, when, upon a certain lord's mentioning the pretended prince, his grace told the lords, he must be plain with them, and call that person, not the pretended prince, but the pretended impostor: which was so far from a blunder in that polite lord, as his ill-willers give out, that it was only a refined way of delivering the avowed sentiments of his whole party.
But to return: this was the state of principles, when the queen came to the crown; some time after which, it pleased certain great persons, who had been all their lives in the altitude of tory profession, to enter into a treaty with the whigs, from whom they could get better terms than from their old friends; who began to be resty, and would not allow monopolies of power and favour, nor consent to carry on the war entirely at the expense of this nation, that they might have pensions from abroad; while another people, more immediately concerned in the war, traded with the enemy as in times of peace; whereas the other party, whose case appeared then as desperate, was ready to yield to any conditions that would bring them into play. And I cannot help affirming, that this nation was made a sacrifice to the immeasurable appetite of power and wealth in a very few, that shall be nameless, who, in every step they made, acted directly against what they had always professed. And if his royal highness the prince had died some years sooner (who was a perpetual check in their career) it is dreadful to think how far they might have proceeded.
Since that time, the bulk of the whigs appears rather to be linked to a certain set of persons, than any certain set of principles; so that, if I were to define a member of that party, I should say, he was one who believed in the late ministry. And therefore, whatever I have affirmed of whigs in any of these papers, or objected against them, ought to be understood, either of those who were partisans of the late men in power, and privy to their designs; or such, who joined with them from a hatred to our monarchy and church, as unbelievers and dissenters of all sizes; or men in office, who had been guilty of much corruption, and dreaded a change, which would not only put a stop to farther abuses for the future, but might perhaps introduce examinations of what was past; or those, who had been too highly obliged to quit their supporters with any common decency; or lastly, the money-traders, who could never hope to make their markets so well of premiums, and exorbitant interest, and high remittances, under any other administration.
Under these heads, may be reduced the whole body of those, whom I have all along understood for whigs; for I do not include within this number any of those, who have been misled by ignorance, or seduced by plausible pretences, to think better of that sort of men than they deserve, and to apprehend mighty danger from their disgrace; because I believe the greatest part of such well-meaning people, are now thoroughly converted.
And indeed it must be allowed, that the two fantastick names of whig and tory, have, at present, very little relation to those opinions, which were at first thought to distinguish them. Whoever formerly professed himself to approve the Revolution, to be against the pretender, to justify the succession in the house of Hanover, to think the British monarchy not absolute, but limited by laws which the executive power could not dispense with, and to allow an indulgence to scrupulous consciences; such man was content to be called a whig. On the other side, whoever asserted the queen's hereditary right, that the persons of princes were sacred, their lawful authority not to be resisted on any pretence; nor even their usurpations, without the most extreme necessity; that breaches in the succession were highly dangerous; that schism was a great evil, both in itself and its consequences; that the ruin of the church would probably be attended with that of the state; that no power should be trusted with those who are not of the established religion; such a man was usually called a tory. Now, although the opinions of both these are very consistent, and I really think are maintained at present by a great majority of the kingdom; yet according as men apprehend the danger greater, either from the pretender and his party, or from the violence and cunning of other enemies to the constitution, so their common discourses and reasonings turn either to the first, or second set of these opinions, I have mentioned; and they are consequently styled either whigs or tories. Which is as if two brothers apprehended their house would be set upon, but disagreed about the place whence they thought the robbers would come, and therefore would go on different sides to defend it; they must needs weaken and expose themselves by such a separation; and so did we, only our case was worse; for, in order to keep off a weak remote enemy, from whom we could not suddenly apprehend any danger, we took a nearer and a stronger one into the house. I make no comparison at all between the two enemies; popery and slavery are without doubt the greatest and most dreadful of any; but I may venture to affirm, that the fears of these have not, at least since the Revolution, been so close and pressing upon us, as that from another faction; excepting only one short period; when the leaders of that very faction invited the abdicating king to return; of which I have formerly taken notice.
Having thus declared what sort of persons I have always meant under the denomination of whigs, it will be easy to show whom I understand by tories. Such, whose principles in church and state are what I have above related; whose actions are derived thence, and who have no attachment to any set of ministers, farther than as they are friends to the constitution in all its parts; but will do their utmost to save their prince and country, whoever be at the helm.
By these descriptions of whig and tory, I am sensible those names are given to several persons very undeservedly; and that many a man is called by one or the other, who has not the least title to the blame or praise I have bestowed on each of them, throughout my papers.
THURSDAY, JUNE 7, 1711.
Magna vis est, magnum nomen, unum et idem sentientis senatus.
Great is the name and authority of a senate, in which unanimity prevails.
WHOEVER calls to mind the clamour and the calumny, the artificial fears and jealousies, the shameful misrepresentation of persons and of things, that were raised and spread by the leaders and instruments of a certain party, upon the change of the last ministry, and dissolution of the parliament; if he be a true lover of his country, must feel a mighty pleasure, although mixed with some indignation, to see the wishes, the conjectures, the endeavours, of an inveterate faction, entirely disappointed; and this important period wholly spent in restoring the prerogative of the prince, and liberty to the subject; in reforming past abuses, and preventing future; supplying old deficiencies, providing for debts, restoring the clergy to their rights, and taking care of the necessities of the church; and all this, unattended with any of those misfortunes which some men hoped for, while they pretended to fear.
For my own part I must confess, the difficulties appeared so great to me, from such a noise and show of opposition, that I thought nothing but the absolute necessity of affairs, could ever justify so daring an attempt. But a wise and good prince, at the head of an able ministry, and of a senate freely chosen, all united to pursue the true interest of their country, is a power against which the little inferiour politicks of any faction, will be able to make no long resistance. To this we may add one additional strength, which in the opinion of our adversaries is the greatest and justest of any; I mean the vox populi, so indisputably declarative on the same side. I am apt to believe, when these discarded politicians begin seriously to consider all this, they will think it proper to give out, and reserve their wisdom for some more convenient juncture.
It is pleasant enough to observe, that those who were the chief instruments of raising the noise, who started fears, bespoke dangers, and formed ominous prognosticks, in order to scare the allies, to spirit the French, and fright ignorant people at home, made use of those very opinions themselves had broached, for arguments to prove that the change of ministers was dangerous and unseasonable. But if a house be swept, the more occasion there is for such a work, the more dust it will raise; if it be going to ruin, the repairs, however necessary, will make a noise, and disturb the neighbourhood a while. And as to the rejoicings made in France, if it be true that they had any, upon the news of those alterations among us; their joy was grounded upon the same hopes with that of the whigs, who comforted themselves, that the change of ministry and parliament, would infallibly put us all into confusion, increase our divisions, and destroy our credit, wherein I suppose by this time they are equally undeceived.
But this long session being in a manner ended, which several circumstances, and one accident altogether unforeseen, have drawn out beyond the usual time; it may be some small piece of justice to so excellent an assembly, barely to mention a few of those great things they have done, for the service of their queen and country, which I shall take notice of just as they come to my memory.
The credit of the nation began mightily to suffer by a discount upon Exchequer bills, which have been generally reckoned the surest and most sacred of all securities. The present lord treasurer, then a member of the house of commons, proposed a method, which was immediately complied with, of raising them to a par with species; and so they have ever since continued.
The British colonies of Nevis and St. Christopher's had been miserably plundered by the French, their houses burnt, their plantations destroyed, and many of the inhabitants carried away prisoners; they had often, for some years past, applied in vain for relief from hence; until the present parliament, considering their condition as a case of justice and mercy, voted them one hundred thousand pounds by way of recompense, in some manner, for their sufferings.
Some persons, whom the voice of the nation authorizes me to call her enemies, taking advantage of the general naturalization act, had invited over a great number of foreigners of all religions, under the name of Palatines, who understood no trade or handicraft, yet rather chose to beg than labour; who, beside infesting our streets, bred contagious diseases, by which we lost in natives thrice the number of what we gained in foreigners. The house of commons, as a remedy against this evil, brought in a bill for repealing that act of general naturalization; which, to the surprise of most people, was rejected by the lords. And upon this occasion I must allow myself to have been justly rebuked by one of my weekly monitors, for pretending, in a former paper, to hope that law would be repealed; wherein the commons being disappointed, took care however to send many of the Palatines away, and to represent their being invited over as a pernicious counsel.
The qualification-bill, incapacitating all men to serve in parliament, who have not some estate in land, either in possession or certain reversion, is perhaps the greatest security that ever was contrived for preserving the constitution, which otherwise might in a little time lie wholly at the mercy of the monied interest. And since much the greatest part of the taxes is paid either immediately from land, or from its productions, it is but common justice, that those, who are the proprietors, should appoint what portion of it ought to go to the support of the publick; otherwise, the engrossers of money, would be apt to lay heavy loads on others, which themselves never touch with one of their fingers.
The publick debts were so prodigiously increased by the negligence and corruption of those who had been managers of the revenue, that the late ministers, like careless men who run out their fortunes, were so far from any thoughts of payment, that they had not the courage to state or compute them. The parliament found, that thirty-five millions had never been accounted for; and that the debt on the navy, wholly unprovided for, amounted to nine millions. The late chancellor of the Exchequer, suitable to his transcendant genius for publick affairs, proposed a fund, to be security for that immense debt; which is now confirmed by a law, and is likely to prove the greatest restoration and establishment of the kingdom's credit. Not content with this, the legislature has appointed commissioners of accompts to inspect into past mismanagements of the publick money, and prevent them for the future.
I have in a former paper mentioned the act for building fifty new churches in London and Westminster, with a fund appropriated for that pious and noble work. But while I am mentioning acts of piety, it would be unjust to conceal my lord high treasurer's concern for religion, which has extended even to another kingdom: his lordship having some months ago obtained of her majesty the first fruits and tenths to the clergy of Ireland, as he is known to have before done to that reverend body here.
The act for carrying on a trade to the South-sea, proposed by the same great person, whose thoughts are perpetually employed, and ever with success, on the good of his country, will, in all probability, if duly executed, be of mighty advantage to the kingdom, and an everlasting honour to the present parliament.
I might go on farther, and mention that seasonable law against excessive gaming; and putting a stop to that scandalous fraud of false musters in the guards; the diligent and effectual inquiry made by the commons into several gross abuses. I might produce many instances of their impartial justice in deciding controverted elections, against former example, and great provocations to retaliate. I might show their cheerful readiness in granting such vast supplies; their great unanimity, not to be broken by all the arts of a malicious and cunning faction; their unfeigned duty to the queen; and lastly, that representation made to her majesty from the house of commons, discovering such a spirit and disposition in that noble assembly to redress all those evils, which a long maleadministration had brought upon us.
It is probable, that trusting only to my memory, I may have omitted many things of great importance; neither do I pretend farther in the compass of this paper, than to give the world some general, however imperfect idea, how worthily this great assembly has discharged the trust of those who so freely chose them; and what we may reasonably hope and expect from the piety, courage, wisdom, and loyalty of such excellent patriots, in a time so fruitful of occasions to exert the greatest abilities.
And now I conceive the main design I had in writing these papers is fully executed. A great majority of the nation is at length thoroughly convinced, that the queen proceeded with the highest wisdom in changing her ministry and parliament; that under a former administration the greatest abuses of all kinds were committed, and the most dangerous attempts against the constitution for some time intended. The whole kingdom finds the present persons in power, directly and openly pursuing the true service of their queen and country; and to be such, whom their most bitter enemies cannot tax with bribery, covetousness, ambition, pride, insolence, or any pernicious principles in religion or government.
For my own particular, those little barking curs, which have so constantly pursued me, I take to be of no farther consequence to what I have written, than the scoffing slaves of old, placed behind the chariot to put the general in mind of his mortality; which was but a thing of form, and made no stop or disturbance in the show. However, if those perpetual snarlers against me had the same design, I must own they have effectually compassed it; since nothing can well be more mortifying than to reflect, that I am of the same species with creatures, capable of uttering so much scurrility, dulness, falsehood, and impertinence, to the scandal and disgrace of human nature.
- For a particular history of the dean's share in this periodica paper see the eighteenth volume of this collection.
- The first earl of Wharton.
- Were only able — by this arrangement the word, only, becomes of ambiguous meaning, and the ear is hurt by the repetition of the same words, at the commencement of the two members of the sentence so near each other — were only able — were not only, &c. This may be prevented by substituting the word, alone, in the place of the first, only; as thus — 'While others, who, by their credit, quality, and fortune, were alone able to give reputation and success to the Revolution, were not only laid aside,' &c.
- But loaden with the scandal of Jacobites —— may mean with the scandal thrown on them by Jacobites; it should be — with the scandal of being Jacobites, &c.
- This is neither grammar, nor sense; it should be — as my whole discourse contains.
- It should be, so fully and clearly.
- Would, here, is improperly used for, should.
- That ill manners is certainly ungrammatical; it should be, that species of ill manners.
- Our author's sentiments on hereditary right, as exhibited in this Examiner, and in vol. II, in "The Sentiments of a Church of England Man," are not easily reconcileable to a laboured tract on that subject, ascribed to him in 1775, under the title of "A Discourse on Hereditary Right, written in the year 1712, by a "celebrated Clergyman."
- By this mode of expression may be meant the general's ingratitude, not that of the nation; instead of against, the word should have been toward; as thus, 'If a stranger should hear these furious outcries of ingratitude toward our general,' &c.
- It should be — "in humble alliance with that empire." We say — allied to — but, in alliance with.
- Supposed queen Anne.
- The matter was this: At the queen's accession to the government, she used to lament to me, that, the crown being impoverished by former grants, she wanted the power her predecessors had enjoyed to reward faithful servants; and she desired me to take out of the privy purse 2000l. a year, in order to purchase for my advantage. — As her majesty was so good to provide for my children, and as the offices I enjoyed by her favour brought me in more than I wanted — I constantly declined it till the time — she was pleased to dismiss me from her service. Then indeed — I sent the queen one of her own letters, in which she had pressed me to take the 2000l. a year; and I wrote at the same time to ask her majesty whether she would allow me to charge in the privy purse accounts, which I was to send her, that yearly sum from the time of the offer, amounting to 18,000l. Her majesty was pleased to answer, I might charge it. This therefore I did. Account of the Conduct of the dowager Duchess of Marlborough, p. 294, 295.
- Lord Godolphin.
- Earl of Sunderland, and Henry Boyle, Esq. were at this time secretaries of state.
- Lord Chancellor Cowper.
- Earl of Wharton, lord lieutenant of Ireland.
- The story of the lord Wharton is true; who, with some other wretches, went into a pulpit, and defiled it in the most filthy manner.
- This mode of finishing a sentence with a preposition, which has prevailed in almost all our writings, is very reprehensible, as in general it may easily be avoided. Thus, in the above sentence, 'which I should be glad to hear them explain themselves upon,' if the arrangement were changed in this manner — 'upon which I should be glad to hear them explain themselves — how much better would the sentence close!
- These two words of similar sound, 'neither' and 'either,' placed so near each other, produce a cacophony, easily to be avoided, by putting, 'nor,' in the place of 'neither,' as thus — 'Nor can I accuse either side,' &c.
- The lady Masham.
- 'To endeavour preserving,' is not grammar; it should be, 'to endeavour to preserve;' or if, in order to avoid the two infinitives and the repetition of their particles, another mode should be preferred, it ought to be, — 'to endeavour the preserving of this temper,' &c. The arrangement of the words as they now stand, has a very bad effect on the ear; 'endeavour | preserving | this temper | among them |' form four successive amphibrachs, with the accent four times repeated on the middle syllable of three in each foot, which give the sentence the air of a comic cantering verse.
- 'To retain to' — is not grammar; 'retain,' being a verb active, will not admit of the particle 'to,' after it. 'Adhere to' is proper, as being a verb neuter. Or if the word retain should be preferred, it should be used in the substantive, not the verb, as thus — to 'be retainers to a party,' &c.
- 'For avoiding' — a vulgar mode of expression, it should be — 'in order to avoid a gulf,' &c.
- This is a very loose inaccurate mode of speech, and a bad arrangement of the words, which might be thus changed — 'and those of all opinions, be equally encouraged.'
- Meaning the seven chiefs of the whig ministry; whom he calls the Heptarchy, in No. 25.
- 'Suitable' for 'suitably.'
- This arrangement leads to ambiguity; 'only' placed after 'can,' may signify can do no more than: as, — can only palliate, not cure these evils. When 'only,' therefore refers to things before enumerated, exclusively of all others, it ought always to precede 'can.' As thus — 'Time and mortality, only, can remedy,' &c.
- Who have done themselves much reputation,' &c. Neither grammar nor custom will authorise this phrase. There is a similar one in use indeed, as, 'they have done themselves great credit,' but yet is far from being proper: reputation and credit are what people do not bestow upon themselves, but are granted to them by others; the expression therefore should be — they have gained to themselves great reputation, great credit. This phrase is properly made use of on another occasion, where it is said of a man, that he has 'done himself justice,' because he has taken it out of all other hands, into his own.
- Instances of this faulty manner of ending sentences with a preposition abound every where in most of our best writers. How much better would the sentence close thus — 'of which the victorious, as well as the conquered side, was heartily weary.'
- Volpone was a nickname given to lord treasurer Godolphin.
- A bill for a general naturalization.
- Mr. Lechmere was one of the managers against Dr. Sacheverell, and summed up the evidence.
- Altered afterward to James duke of Ormond.
- This heptarchy was the serpent with seven heads, mentioned N° 21, 22.
- Earl of Oxford, lord treasurer.
- This was done by the authors solicitation. See his letters to archbishop King.
- We both act 'suitable to,' &c. It should be 'suitably to our several provinces.'
- Sir Simon Harcourt, afterward lord Harcourt, was made lord keeper upon the resignation of ihe lord chancellor Cowper.
- Laurence Hyde, late earl of Rochester, in the room of lord Somers.
- The duke of Buckingham and Normanby, in the room of the duke of Devonshire.
- Lord chamberlain, in the room of the marquis of Kent.
- Chancellor of the exchequer, upon the removal of lord Godolphin.
- He succeeded the earl of Sunderland as secretary of state.
- Secretary of state in the room of Mr. Henry Boyle.
- Wet stockings.
- Dr. Hare, afterward bishop of Chichester.
- Letter to the Examiner.
- Prince George of Denmark, husband to the queen.
- Mr. Prior.
- Disagreeablest' — has a bad sound; it should be 'most disagreeable:' polysyllables, in general, should have their degrees of comparison formed by, 'more' and 'most.'
- The abbe de Bourlie, who, having quitted his native country, solicited to be employed against it in several courts of Europe, and assumed the title of marquis de Guiscard. He at length obtained a commission from queen Anne, and embarked in an expedition against France, which miscarried; and his expectations being disappointed by the new ministry, he endeavoured to make his peace at home, by acting here as a spy; and commenced a treasonable correspondence: his letters were intercepted, and produced to him by Mr. Harley, at his examination.
- Mr. Harley, then chancellor of the exchequer, afterward earl of Oxford.
- Mr. Henry St. John, afterward lord Bolingbroke.
- The monk who stabbed Henry III of France.
- In the beginning of the year 1708, William Greg, an under clerk to Mr. secretary Harley, was detected in a correspondence with monsieur Chamillard, one of the French king's ministers, to whom he transmitted the proceedings of both houses of parliament with respect to the augmentation of the British forces, and other papers of great importance. Greg, when he was indicted of this treason, pleaded guilty, which gave occasion to Mr. Harley's enemies to insinuate, that he was privy to Greg's practices, and had by assurances of pardon prevailed upon him to plead guilty, in order to prevent the examination of witnesses: the house of lords appointed a committee of seven, of whom lord Sunderland was manager, to inquire into the affair; the committee presented an address to the queen, in which complaint was made, that all Mr. Harley's papers had been long exposed to the meanest clerks in his office; and it was requested, that more caution might be used for the future. Upon this address the execution of Greg was deferred a month; during which time he was solicited, threatened, and promised, but still persisting to take the whole guilt upon himself, he was at length executed, having, in a paper which he left behind him, justified Mr. Harley in particular; which he would scarce have thought necessary, if no particular attempt had been made againist him. — .
- How much he was mistaken appears by lord Bolingbroke's letter to sir William Wyndham.
- The penknife, which had a tortoiseshell handle, was given by Mr. Harley to Dr. Swift; who had the broken blade joined by a silver chain, some years after, in Dublin.
- An act was immediately passed, to make an attempt on the life of a privy counsellor, in the execution of his office, felony without benefit of clergy.
- Disannul is a improper word; as, 'annul,' is used in exactly the same sense, and the prefix, 'dis,' according to all rules of analogy, ought to give it an opposite meaning.
- 'And the inoffensive manner I handled it' — is a mode of speech ungrammatical, it ought to be — 'in which I handled it.'
- The qualification required by this act is some estate in land, either in possession or certain reversion. See No. 44.
- William Bromley, esq. elected speaker, Nov. 23, 1710; and sworn of the privy council, June 23, 1711. He was the author of a volume of Travels through France and Italy, which has been much ridiculed on account of the minuteness, with which trifling circumstances are related in it. See lord Lyttelton's excellent letters to his father, Letter IV. He died February 6, 1732.
- Who having,' &c. — Better thus — 'upon whose having unfortunately lost his eldest son, the assembly,' &c. As in the other 'way, who' seems to be a nominative referring to no verb.
- Instead of whom it should have been which, as referring more immediately to parts.
- It should be — 'by whom they apprehended they should be called to an account.'
- It should be — 'they ought to bear them.'
- 'It sometimes happens for a cause to be exhausted,' &c. A vulgar ungrammatical idiom; it should be — 'it sometimes happens that a cause is exhausted,' &c.
- It should be — 'to be tried.'
- Peter the Great, czar of Muscovy.
- The speaker's congratulation of Mr. Harley in the name of the house, on his escape and recovery. See the next number.
- Harley and St. John.
- Sir H. Furnese.
- Earl of Rochester
- That for a ministry to endure, &c. — a low ungrammatical mode of expression. It should be — 'that a ministry's enduring such open calumny, without, &c.
- Abel Boyer.
- It should be — in compliance 'with' those, &c.
- 'Which are obvious to imagine' — it should be — 'Which are obvious to be imagined.'
- Prince George of Denmark.
- Earl of Oxford.
- For the Forty-fifth number of the Examiner, see the Eighteenth Volume of this Collection.