The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 3/The Publick Spirit of the Whigs
SET FORTH IN THEIR GENEROUS ENCOURAGEMENT OF THE AUTHOR OF THE CRISIS.
Some Observations on the Seasonableness, Candour, Erudition, and Style of that Treatise. 1713-14.
I CANNOT, without some envy, and a just resentment against the opposite conduct of others, reflect upon that generosity and tenderness, wherewith the heads, and principal members of a struggling faction, treat those who will undertake to hold a pen in their defence. And the behaviour of these patrons is yet the more laudable, because the benefits they confer are almost gratis. If any of their labourers can scratch out a pamphlet, they desire no more; there is no question offered about the wit, the style, the argument. Let a pamphlet come out upon demand, in a proper juncture, you shall be well and certainly paid; you shall be paid beforehand; every one of the party who is able to read, and can spare a shilling, shall be a subscriber; several thousands of each production, shall be sent among their friends through the kingdom: the work shall be reported admirable, sublime, unanswerable; shall serve to raise the sinking clamours, and confirm the scandal of introducing popery and the pretender, upon the queen and her ministers.
Among the present writers on that side, I can recollect but three of any great distinction; which are, the Flying Post, Mr. Dunton, and the author of the Crisis. The first of these, seems to have been much sunk in reputation, since the sudden retreat of the only true, genuine, original author, Mr. Ridpath, who is celebrated by the Dutch Gazetteer, as one of the best pens in England. Mr. Dunton has been longer, and more conversant in books, than any of the three, as well as more voluminous in his productions: however, having employed his studies in so great a variety of other subjects, he has, I think, but lately turned his genius to politicks. His famous tract, entitled Neck or Nothing, must be allowed to be the shrewdest piece, and written with the most spirit, of any which has appeared from that side, since the change of the ministry: it is indeed a most cutting satire upon the lord treasurer, and lord Bolingbroke; and I wonder none of our friends ever undertook to answer it. I confess, I was at first of the same opinion with several good judges, who from the style and manner, suppose it to have issued from the sharp pen of the earl of Nottingham; and I am still apt to think it might receive his lordship's last hand. The third, and principal of this triumvirate, is the author of the Crisis; who, although he must yield to the Flying Post, in knowledge of the world, and skill in politicks; and to Mr. Dunton, in keenness of satire and variety of reading, has yet other qualities enough to denominate him a writer of a superiour class to either; provided he would a little regard the propriety, and disposition of his words, consult the grammatical part, and get some information in the subject he intends to handle.
Omitting the generous countenance and encouragement that have been shown to the persons and productions of the two former authors, I shall here only consider the great favour conferred upon the last. It has been advertised for several months in The Englishman, and other papers, that a pamphlet, called the Crisis, should be published at a proper time, in order to open the eyes of the nation. It was proposed to be printed by subscription, price a shilling. This was a little out of form; because subscriptions are usually begged only for books of great price, and such as are not likely to have a general sale. Notice was likewise given of what this pamphlet should contain; only an extract from certain acts of parliament relating to the succession, which at least must sink ninepence in the shilling, and leave but threepence for the author's political reflections; so that nothing very wonderful or decisive could be reasonably expected from this performance. But, a work was to be done, a hearty writer to be encouraged, and accordingly many thousand copies were bespoke. Neither could this be sufficient; for when we expected to have our bundles delivered us, all was stopped; the friends to the cause sprang a new project; and it was advertised that the Crisis could not appear, till the ladies had shown their zeal against the pretender, as well as the men; against the pretender, in the bloom of his youth, reported to be handsome, and endued with an understanding, exactly of a size to please the sex. I should be glad to have seen a printed list of the fair subscribers prefixed to this pamphlet; by which the chevalier might know, he was so far from pretending to a monarchy here, that he could not so much as pretend to a mistress.
At the destined period, the first news we hear, is of a huge train of dukes, earls, viscounts, barons, knights, esquires, gentlemen, and others, going to Sam. Buckley's, the publisher of the Crisis, to fetch home their cargoes, in order to transmit them by dozens, scores, and hundreds, into the several counties, and thereby to prepare the wills and understandings of their friends, against the approaching sessions. Ask any of them, whether they have read it, they will answer, no; but they have sent it every where, and it will do a world of good. It is a pamphlet they hear against the ministry; talks of slavery, France, and the pretender; they desire no more; it will settle the wavering, confirm the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, inflame the clamorous, although it never be once looked into. I am told by those who are expert in the trade, that the author and bookseller of this twelvepenny treatise, will be greater gainers, than from one edition of any folio that has been published these twenty years. What needy writer would not solicit to work under such masters, who will pay us beforehand, take off as much of our ware as we please, at our own rates, and trouble not themselves to examine, either before or after they have bought it, whether it be staple, or not.
But, in order to illustrate the implicit munificence of these noble patrons, I cannot take a more effectual method than by examining the production itself; by which we shall easily find that it was never intended, farther than from the noise, the bulk, and the title of Crisis, to do any service to the factious cause. The entire piece consists of a title page, a dedication to the clergy, a preface, an extract from certain acts of parliament, and about ten pages of dry reflections on the proceedings of the queen and her servants; which his coadjutors, the earl of Nottingham, Mr. Dunton, and the Flying Post, had long ago set before us in a much clearer light.
In popish countries, when some impostor cries out, A miracle! a miracle! it is not done with a hope or intention of converting hereticks, but confirming the deluded vulgar in their errours; and so the cry goes round without examining into the cheat. Thus the whigs among us give about the cry, A pamphlet! a pamphlet! the Crisis! the Crisis! not with a view of convincing their adversaries, but to raise the spirits of their friends, recall their stragglers, and unite their numbers, by sound and impudence; as bees assemble and cling together by the noise of brass.
That no other effect could be imagined or hoped for, by the publication of this timely treatise, will be manifest from some obvious reflexions upon the several parts of it; wherein the follies, the falsehoods, or the absurdities, appear so frequent, that they may boldly contend for number with the lines.
When the hawker holds this pamphlet toward you, the first words you perceive are, The Crisis; or, A discourse, &c. The interpreter of Suidas gives four translations of the word Crisis, any of which may be as properly applied to this author's letter to the bailiff of Stockbridge. Next, what he calls a discourse, consists only of two pages, prefixed to twenty-two more, which contain extracts from acts of parliament; for, as to the twelve last pages, they are provided for themselves in the title, under the name of some seasonable remarks on the danger of a popish successor. Another circumstance worthy our information in the titlepage, is, that the crown has been settled by previous acts. I never heard of any act of parliament that was not previous to what it enacted, unless those two, by which the earl of Strafford and sir John Fenwick lost their heads, may pass for exceptions. A Discourse, representing from the most authentick Records, &c. He has borrowed this expression from some writer, who probably understood the words; but this gentleman has altogether misapplied them; and, under favour, he is wholly mistaken; for a heap of extracts from several acts of parliament, cannot be called a discourse; neither do I believe he copied them from the most authentick records, which, as I take it, are lodged in the Tower, but out of some common printed copy. I grant there is nothing material in all this, farther than to show the generosity of our adversaries, in encouraging a writer, who cannot furnish out so much as a titlepage, with propriety or common sense.
Next follows the dedication to the clergy of the church of England, wherein the modesty, and the meaning of the first paragraphs, are hardly to be matched. He tells them, he has made a comment upon the acts of settlement, which he lays before them, and conjures them to recommend, in their writings and discourses, to their fellow-subjects: and he does all this, out of a just deference to their great power and influence. This is the right whig scheme of directing the clergy what to preach. The archbishop of Canterbury's jurisdiction extends no farther, than over his own province; but the author of the Crisis constitutes himself vicar general over the whole clergy of the church of England. The bishops, in their letters or speeches to their own clergy, proceed no farther than to exhortation; but this writer, conjures the whole clergy of the church, to recommend his comment upon the laws of the land, in their writings and discourses. I would fain know, who made him a commentator upon the laws of the land; after which it will be time enough to ask him, by what authority he directs the clergy to recommend his comments from the pulpit or the press?
He tells the clergy, there are two circumstances which place the minds of the people under their direction; the first circumstance, is their education; the second circumstance, is the tenths of our lands. This last, according to the Latin phrase, is spoken ad invidiam; for he knows well enough, they have not the twentieth: but if you take it in his own way, the landlord has nine parts in ten of the people's minds under his direction. Upon this rock the author before us is perpetually splitting, as often as he ventures out beyond the narrow bounds of his literature. He has a confused remembrance of words since he left the university, but has lost half their meaning, and puts them together with no regard, except to their cadence; as I remember a fellow nailed up maps in a gentleman's closet, some sidelong, others upside down, the better to adjust them to the pannels.
I am sensible it is of little consequence to their cause, whether this defender of it understands grammar or not; and if what he would fain say, discovered him to be a well wisher to reason or truth, I would be ready to make large allowances. But, when with great difficulty I descry a composition of rancour and falsehood, intermixed with plausible nonsense, I feel a struggle between contempt and indignation, at seeing the character of a Censor, a guardian, an Englishman, a commentator on the laws, an instructor of the clergy, assumed by a child of obscurity, without one single qualification to support them.
This writer, who either affects, or is commanded, of late to copy after the bishop of Sarum, has, out of the pregnancy of his invention, found out an old way of insinuating the grossest reflections, under the appearance of admonitions; and is so judicious a follower of the prelate, that he taxes the clergy for inflaming their people with apprehensions of danger to them and their constitution, from men, who are innocent of such designs; when he must needs confess, the whole design of his pamphlet is, to inflame the people with apprehensions of danger from the present ministry, whom we believe to be at least as innocent men as the last.
What shall I say to the pamphlet, where the malice and falsehood of every line, would require an answer; and where the dulness and absurdities, will not deserve one?
By his pretending to have always maintained an inviolable respect to the clergy, he would insinuate, that those papers among the Tatlers and Spectators, where the whole order is abused, were not his own, I will appeal to all who know the flatness of his style, and the barrenness of his invention, whether he does not grossly prevaricate? was he ever able to walk without leading-strings, or swim without bladders, without being discovered by his hobbling and his sinking? has he adhered to his character in his paper called the Englishman, whereof he is allowed to be the sole author, without any competition? what does he think of the letter signed by himself, which relates to Molesworth, in whose defence, he affronts the whole convocation of Ireland?
It is a wise maxim, that because the clergy are no civil lawyers, they ought not to preach obedience to governors; and therefore they ought not to preach temperance, because they are no physicians. Examine all this author's writings, and then point me out a divine who knows less of the constitution of England than he; witness those many egregious blunders in his late papers, where he pretended to dabble in the subject.
But the clergy have, it seems, imbibed their notions of power and obedience, abhorrent from our laws, from the pompous ideas of imperial greatness, and the submission to absolute emperors. This is gross ignorance, below a schoolboy in his Lucius Florus. The Roman history, wherein lads are instructed, reached little above eight hundred years, and the authors do every where instill republican principles; and from the account of nine in twelve of the first emperors, we learn to have a detestation against tyranny. The Greeks carry this point yet a great deal higher, which none can be ignorant of, who has read or heard them quoted. This gave Hobbes the occasion of advancing a position directly contrary; that the youth of England were corrupted in their political principles, by reading the histories of Rome and Greece; which, having been written under republicks, taught the readers to have ill notions of monarchy. In this assertion there was something specious, but that advanced by the Crisis, could only issue from the profoundest ignorance.
But, would you know his scheme of education for young gentlemen at the university? it is, that they should spend their time in perusing those acts of parliament, whereof his pamphlet is an extract, which if it had been done, the kingdom would not be in its present condition, but every member sent into the world thus instructed, since the revolution, would have been an advocate for our rights and liberties.
Here now is a project, for getting more money by the Crisis; to have it read by tutors in the universities. I thoroughly agree with him, that if our students had been thus employed for twenty years past, the kingdom had not been in its present condition; but we have too many of such proficients already among the young nobility and gentry, who have gathered up their politicks from chocolate houses and factious clubs; and who, if they had spent their time in hard study at Oxford or Cambridge, we might indeed have said, that the factious part of this kingdom had not been in its present condition, or have suffered themselves to be taught, that a few acts of parliament relating to the succession, are preferable to all other civil institutions whatsoever. Neither did I ever before hear, that an act of parliament relating to one particular point, could be called a civil institution.
He spends almost a quarto page in telling the clergy, that they will be certainly perjured if they bring in the pretender, whom they have abjured; and he wisely reminds them, that they have sworn without equivocation or mental reservation; otherwise the clergy might think, that as soon as they received the pretender, and turned papists, they would be free from their oath.
This honest, civil, ingenious gentleman, knows in his conscience, that there are not ten clergymen in England (thoughts of the pretender reigning over us, much more than himself. But this is the spittle of the bishop of Sarum, which our author licks up, and swallows, and then coughs out again with an addition of his own phlegm. I would fain suppose the body of the clergy were to return an answer, by one of their members, to these worthy counsellors. I conceive it might be in the following terms:nonjurors) who do not abhor the
"My Lord and Gentleman,
"The clergy command me to give you thanks for your advice; and if they knew any crimes, from which either of you were as free, as they are from those which you so earnestly exhort them to avoid, they would return your favour as near as possible, in the same style and manner. However, that your advice may not be wholly lost, particularly that part of it which relates to the pretender, they desire you would apply it to more proper persons. Look among your own leaders; examine which of them engaged in a plot to restore the late king James, and received pardons under his seal; examine which of them have been since tampering with his pretended son, and to gratify their ambition, their avarice, their malice and revenge, are now willing to restore him, at the expense of the religion and liberty of their country. Retire, good my lord, with your pupil, and let us hear no more of these hyprocritical insinuations, lest the queen and ministers, who have been hitherto content with only disappointing the lurking villanies of your faction, may be at last provoked to expose them."
But his respect for the clergy is such, that he does not insinuate as if they really had these evil dispositions; he only insinuates, that they give too much cause for such insinuations.
I will upon occasion strip some of his insinuations from their generality and solecisms, and drag them into the light. His dedication to the clergy is full of them, because here he endeavours to mould up his rancour and civility together; by which constraint, he is obliged to shorten his paragraphs, and to place them in such a light, that they obscure one another. Supposing therefore that I have scraped off his good manners, in order to come at his meaning, which lies under; he tells the clergy, that the favour of the queen and her ministers, is but a colour of zeal toward them; that the people were deluded by a groundless cry of the church's danger at Sacheverell's trial; that the clergy, as they are men of sense and honour, ought to preach this truth to their several congregations; and let them know, that the true design of the present men in power, in that, and all their proceedings since in favour of the church, was, to bring in popery, France and the pretender, and to enslave all Europe, contrary to the laws of our country, the power of the legislature, the faith of nations, and the honour of God.
I cannot see why the clergy, as men of sense, and men of honour, (for he appeals not to them as men of religion) should not be allowed to know when they are in danger, and be able to guess whence it comes, and who are their protectors. The design of their destruction indeed may have been projected in the dark; but when all was ripe, their enemies proceeded to so many overt acts in the face of the nation, that it was obvious to the meanest people, who wanted no other motives to rouze them. On the other side, can this author, or the wisest of his faction, assign one single act of the present ministry, any way tending toward bringing in the pretender, or to weaken the succession of the house of Hanover? Observe then the reasonableness of this gentleman's advice: the clergy, the gentry, and the common people, had the utmost apprehensions of danger to the church under the late ministry; yet then it was the greatest impiety to inflame the people with any such apprehensions. His danger of a popish successor, from any steps of the present ministry, is an artificial calumny, raised and spread against the conviction of the inventors, pretended to be believed only by those, who abhor the constitution in church and state; an obdurate faction who compass Heaven and earth, to restore themselves upon the ruin of their country; yet here our author exhorts the clergy to preach up this imaginary danger to their people, and disturb the publick peace, with his strained seditious comments.
But how comes this gracious licence to the clergy from the whigs, to concern themselves with politicks of any sort, although it be only the glosses and comments of Mr. Steele? The speeches of the managers at Sacheverell's trial, particularly those of Stanhope, Lechmere, King, Parker, and some others, seemed to deliver a different doctrine. Nay, this very dedication complains of some in holy orders, who have made the constitution of their country, (in which and the Coptick Mr. Steele is equally skilled) a very little part of their study, and yet made obedience and government, the frequent subjects of their discourses. This difficulty is easily solved; for by politicks, they mean obedience. Mr. Hoadly, who is a champion for resistance, was never charged with meddling out of his function: Hugh Peters, and his brethren, in the times of usurpation, had full liberty to preach up sedition and rebellion; and so here, Mr. Steele issues out his licence to the clergy, to preach up the danger of a popish pretender, in defiance of the queen and her administration.
Every whiffler in a laced coat, who frequents the chocolate-house, and is able to spell the title of a pamphlet, shall talk of the constitution with as much plausibility as this very solemn writer, and with as good a grace blame the clergy for meddling with politicks, which they do not understand. I have known many of these able politicians furnished before they were of age, with all the necessary topicks of their faction, and by the help of about twenty polysyllables, capable of maintaining an argument, that would shine in the Crisis; whose author gathered up his little stock from the same schools, and has written from no other fund.
But after all, it in not clear to me, whether this gentleman addresses himself to the clergy of England in general, or only to those very few (hardly enough in case of a change, to supply the mortality of those self-denying prelates he celebrates) who are in his principles, and among these, only such as live in and about London; which probably will reduce the number to about half a dozen at most. I should incline to guess the latter; because he tells them they are surrounded by a learned, wealthy, knowing gentry, who know with what firmness, self-denial, and charity, the bishops adhered to the publick cause, and what contumelies those clergymen have undergone, &c. who adhered to the cause of truth. By those terms, the publick cause, and the cause of truth, he understands the cause of the whigs, in opposition to the queen and her servants: therefore by the learned, wealthy, and knowing gentry, he must understand the Bank and East-India company, and those other merchants or citizens within the bills of mortality, who have been strenuous against the church and crown, and whose spirit of faction has lately got the better of their interest. For let him search all the rest of the kingdom, he will find the surrounded clergy, and the surrounding gentry, wholly strangers to the merits of those prelates; and adhering to a very different cause of truth, as will soon, I hope, be manifest, by a fair appeal to the representatives of both.
It was very unnecessary in this writer to bespeak the treatment of contempt and derision, which the clergy are to expect from his faction, whenever they come into power. I believe that venerable body is in very little concern after what manner their most mortal enemies intend to treat them, whenever it shall please God, for our sins, to visit us with so fatal an event; which I hope it will be the united endeavours both of clergy, and laity, to hinder. It would be some support to this hope, if I could have any opinion of his predicting talent, (which some have ascribed to people of this author's character) where he tells us, that noise and wrath will not always pass for zeal. What other instances of zeal has this gentleman, or the rest of his party been able to produce? if clamour be noise, it is but opening our ears to know from what side it comes; and if sedition, scurrility, slander and calumny, be the fruit of wrath, read the pamphlets and papers issuing from the zealots of that faction, or visit their clubs and coffee houses, in order to form a judgment of the tree.
When Mr. Steele tells us, we have a religion that wants no support from the enlargement of secular power, but is well supported by the wisdom and piety of its preachers, and its own native truth; it would be good to know what religion he professes: for the clergy to whom he speaks, will never allow him to be a member of the church of England. They cannot agree, that the truth of the Gospel, and the piety and wisdom of its preachers, are a sufficient support in an evil age, against infidelity, faction, and vice, without the assistance of secular power, unless God would please to confer the gift of miracles on those who wait at the altar. I believe they venture to go a little farther, and think, that upon some occasions, they want a little enlargement of assistance from the secular power, against atheists, deists, socinians, and other hereticks. Every first Sunday in Lent a part of the Liturgy is read to the people, in the preface to which, the church declares her wishes for the restoring of that discipline she formerly had, and which, for some years past, has been more wanted than ever. But of this no more, lest it might insinuate jealousies between the clergy and laity; which the author tells us, is the policy of vain ambitious men among the former, in hopes to derive from their order, a veneration they cannot deserve from their virtue. If this be their method for procuring veneration, it is the most singular that ever was thought on; and the clergy would then indeed have no more to do with politicks of any sort, than Mr. Steele or his faction will allow them.
Having thus toiled through his dedication, I proceed to consider his preface, which, half consisting of quotation, will be so much the sooner got through. It is a very unfair thing in any writer to employ his ignorance and malice together; because it gives his answerer double work: it is like the sort of sophistry that the logicians call two mediums, which are never allowed in the same syllogism. A writer, with a weak head, and a corrupt heart, is an over-match for any single pen; like a hireling jade, dull and vicious, hardly able to stir, yet offering at every turn to kick.
He begins his preface with such an account of the original of power, and the nature of civil institutions, as I am confident was never once imagined by any writer upon government, from Plato to Mr. Locke. Give me leave to transcribe his first paragraph. "I never saw an unruly crowd of people cool by degrees into temper, but it gave me an idea of the original of power, and the nature of civil institutions. One particular man has usually in those cases, from the dignity of his appearance, or other qualities known or imagined by the multitude, been received into sudden favour and authority; the occasion of their difference has been represented to him and the matter referred to his decision."
I have known a poet, who never was out of England, introduce a fact by way of simile, which could probably no where happen nearer than in the plains of Libya; and begin with, "So have I seen." Such a fiction I suppose may be justified by poetical licence; yet Virgil is much more modest. This paragraph of Mr. Steele's, which he sets down as an observation of his own, is a miserable mangled translation of six verses out of that famous poet, who speaks after this manner: "As when a sedition arises in a great multitude, &c. then if they see a wise great man, &c." Virgil, who lived but a little after the ruin of the Roman republick, where seditions often happened, and the force of oratory was great among the people, made use of a simile, which Mr. Steele turns into a fact, after such a manner as if he had seen it a hundred times; and builds upon it a system of the origin of government. When the vulgar here in England assemble in a riotous manner, (which is not very frequent of late years) the prince takes a much more effectual way than that of sending orators to appease them: but Mr. Steele imagines such a crowd of people as this, where there is no government at all; their unruliness quelled, and their passions cooled by a particular man, whose great qualities they had known before. Such an assembly must have risen suddenly from the earth, and the man of authority dropped from the clouds; for, without some previous form of government, no such crowd did ever yet assemble, or could possibly be acquainted with the merits and dignity of any particular man among them. But to pursue his scheme; this man of authority, who cools the crowd by degrees, and to whom they all appeal, must of necessity prove either an open, or clandestine tyrant. A clandestine tyrant I take to be a king of Brentford, who keeps his army in disguise, and whenever he happens either to die naturally, be knocked on the head, or deposed, the people "calmly take farther measures, and improve upon what was begun under his unlimited power." All this our author tells us, with extreme propriety, is what seems reasonable to common sense; that is, in other words, it seems reasonable to reason. This is what he calls giving an idea of the original of power, and the nature of civil institutions. To which I answer with great phlegm, that I defy any man alive to show me in double the number of lines, although writ by the same author, such a complicated ignorance in history, human nature, or politicks, as well as in the ordinary properties of thought or of style.
But it seems these profound speculations were only premised to introduce some quotations in favour of resistance. What has resistance to do with the succession of the house of Hanover, that the whig writers should perpetually affect to tack them together? I can conceive nothing else, but that their hatred to the queen and ministry, puts them upon thoughts of introducing the successor by another revolution. Are cases of extreme necessity to be introduced as common maxims, by which we are always to proceed? should not these gentlemen sometimes inculcate the general rule of obedience, and not always the exception of resistance? since the former has been the perpetual dictate of all laws both divine and civil, and the latter is still in dispute.
I shall meddle with none of the passages he cites to prove the lawfulness of resisting princes, except that from the present lord chancellor's speech in defence of Mr. Sacheverell: "that there are extraordinary cases, cases of necessity, which are implied although not expressed, in the general rule [of obedience]." These words, very clear in themselves, Mr. Steele explains into nonsense; which in any other author, I should suspect to have been intended as a reflection upon as great a person as ever filled or adorned that high station; but I am so well acquainted with his pen, that I much more wonder how it can trace out a true quotation, than a false comment. To see him treat my lord Harcourt with so much civility, looks indeed a little suspicious, and as if he had malice in his heart. He calls his lordship a very great man, and a great living authority; places himself in company with general Stanhope, and Mr. Hoadly; and in short, takes the most effectual method in his power of ruining his lordship in the opinion of every man, who is wise or good. I can only tell my lord Harcourt, for his comfort, that these praises are encumbered with the doctrine of resistance, and the true revolution principles; and provided he will not allow Mr. Steele for his commentator, he may hope to recover the honour of being libelled again, as well as his sovereign and fellow-servants.
We now come to the Crisis; where we meet with two pages, by way of introduction to those extracts from acts of parliament, that constitute the body of his pamphlet. This introduction begins with a definition of liberty, and then proceeds in a panegyrick upon that great blessing. His panegyrick is made up of half a dozen shreds, like a schoolboy's theme, beaten general topicks, where any other man alive might wander securely; but this politician, by venturing to vary the good old phrases, and give them a new turn, commits a hundred solecisms and absurdities. The weighty truths, which he endeavours to press upon his reader, are such as these. That liberty is a very good thing; that without liberty we cannot be free; that health is good, and strength is good, but liberty is better than either; that no man can be happy without the liberty of doing whatever his own mind tells him is best; that men of quality love liberty, and common people love liberty; even women and children love liberty; and you cannot please them better than by letting them do what they please. Had Mr. Steele contented himself to deliver these, and the like maxims, in such intelligible terms, I could have found where we agreed, and where we differed. But let us hear some of these axioms, as he has involved them. "We cannot possess our souls with pleasure and satisfaction, except we preserve in ourselves that inestimable blessing, which we call liberty. By liberty I desire to be understood to mean the happiness of men's living, &c. ——— The true life of man consists in conducting it according to his own just sentiments and innocent inclinations ——— man's being is degraded below that of a free agent, when his affections and passions are no longer governed by the dictates of his own mind. ——— Without liberty our health (among other things) may be at the will of a tyrant, employed to our own ruin, and that of our fellow-creatures." If there be any of these maxims, which are not grossly defective in truth, in sense, or in grammar, I will allow them to pass for uncontrollable. By the first, omitting the pedantry of the whole expression, there are not above one or two nations in the world, where any one man can possess his soul with pleasure and satisfaction. In the second, he desires to be understood to mean; that is, he desires to be meant to mean, or to be understood to understand. In the third, the life of man consists in conducting his life. In the fourth he affirms, that men's beings are degraded, when their passions are no longer governed by the dictates of their own minds; directly contrary to lessons of all moralists and legislatures; who agree unanimously, that the passions of men must be under the government of reason and law; neither are the laws of any other use, than to correct the irregularity of our affections. By the last, our health is ruinous to ourselves, and other men, when a tyrant pleases; which I leave to him to make out.
I cannot sufficiently commend our ancestors, for transmitting to us the blessing of liberty; yet having laid out their blood and treasure upon the purchase, I do not see how they acted parsimoniously, because I can conceive nothing more generous, than that of employing our blood and treasure for the service of others. But I am suddenly struck with the thought, that I have found his meaning; our ancestors acted parsimoniously, because they spent only their own treasure for the good of their posterity; whereas we squandered away the treasures of our posterity too; but whether they will be thankful, and think it was done for the preservation of their liberty, must be left to themselves for a decision.
I verily believe, although I could not prove it in Westminster hall before a lord chief justice, that by enemies to our present establishment, Mr. Steele would desire to be understood to mean, my lord treasurer and the rest of the ministry: by those who are grown supine, in proportion to the danger to which our liberty is every day more exposed, I should guess he means the tories: and by honest men, who ought to look up with a spirit that becomes honesty, he understands the whigs: I likewise believe, he would take it ill, or think me stupid, if I did not thus expound him, I say then, that according to this exposition, the four great officers of state, together with the rest of the cabinet council, (except the archbishop of Canterbury) are "enemies to our establishment, making artful and open attacks upon our constitution, and are now practising indirect arts, and mean subtleties, to weaken the security of those acts of parliament, for settling the succession in the house of Hanover." The first, and most notorious of these criminals, is, Robert Harley, earl of Oxford, lord high treasurer, who is reputed to be chief minister; the second is, James Butler, duke of Ormond, who commands the army, and designs to employ it in bringing over the pretender: the third is, Henry St. John, lord viscount Bolingbroke, secretary of state, who must be supposed to hold a constant correspondence at the court of Bar le Duc, as the late earl of Godolphin did with that at St. Germain: and to avoid tediousness, Mr. Bromley and the rest, are employed in their several districts to the same end. These are the opinions, which Mr. Steele and his faction, under the direction of their leaders, are endeavouring, with all their might, to propagate among the people of England, concerning the present ministry; with what reservation to the honour, wisdom, or justice of the queen, I cannot determine; who, by her own free choice, after long experience of their abilities and integrity, and in compliance to the general wishes of her people, called them to her service. Such an accusation against persons in so high trust, should require, I think, at least one single overt act to make it good. If there be no other choice of persons fit to serve the crown, without danger from the pretender, except among those who are called the whig party, the Hanover succession is then indeed in a very desperate state: that illustrious family will have almost nine in ten of the kingdom against it, and those principally of the landed interest; which is most to be depended upon, in such a nation as ours.
I have now got as far as his extracts, which I shall not be at the pains of comparing with the originals, but suppose he has gotten them fairly transcribed: I only think, that whoever is patentee for printing acts of parliament, may have a very fair action against him for invasion of property: but this is none of my business to inquire into.
After two and twenty pages spent in reciting acts of parliament, he desires leave to repeat the history and progress of the union; upon which I have some few things to observe.
This work, he tells us, was unsuccessfully attempted by several of her majesty's predecessors; although I do not remember it was ever thought on by any, except king James the first, and the late king William. I have read indeed, that some small overtures were made by the former of these princes toward a union between the two kingdoms, but rejected with indignation and contempt by the English: and the historian tells us, that how degenerate and corrupt soever the court and parliament then were, they would not give ear to so infamous a proposal. I do not find, that any of the succeeding princes before the revolution, ever resumed the design; because it was a project, for which there could not possibly be assigned the least reason or necessity; for I defy any mortal to name one single advantage that England could ever expect from such a union.
But toward the end of the late king's reign, upon apprehensions of the want of issue from him or the princess Anne, a proposition for uniting both kingdoms was begun; because Scotland had not settled their crown upon the house of Hanover, but left themselves at large, in hopes to make their advantage; and it was thought highly dangerous to leave that part of the island, inhabited by a poor fierce northern people, at liberty to put themselves under a different king. However, the opposition to this work was so great, that it could not be overcome, until some time after her present majesty came to the crown; when, by the weakness or corruption of a certain minister, since dead, an act of parliament was obtained for the Scots, which gave them leave to arm themselves; and so the union became necessary, not for any actual good it could possibly do us, but to avoid a probable evil; and at the same time save an obnoxious minister's head; who was so wise as to take the first opportunity of procuring a general pardon by act of parliament, because he could not, with so much decency and safety, desire a particular one for himself. These facts are well enough known to the whole kingdom. And I remember, discoursing above six years ago with the most considerable person of the adverse party, and a great promoter of the union, he frankly owned to me, that this necessity, brought upon us by the wrong management of the earl of Godolphin, was the only cause of the union.
Therefore I am ready to grant two points to the author of the Crisis: first, that the union became necessary for the cause above related; because it prevented this island from being governed by two kings; which England would never have suffered; and it might probably have cost us a war of a year or two to reduce the Scots. Secondly, that it would be dangerous to break this union, at least in this juncture, while there is a pretender abroad, who might probably lay hold of such an opportunity. And this made me wonder a little at the spirit of faction last summer, among some people, who, having been the great promoters of the union, and several of them the principal gainers by it, could yet proceed so far as to propose in the house of lords, that it should be dissolved: while, at the same time, those peers, who had ever opposed it in the beginning, were then for preserving it, upon the reason I have just assigned, and which the author of the Crisis has likewise taken notice of.
But when he tells us, "the Englishmen ought, in generosity, to be more particularly careful in serving this union," he argues like himself. "The late kingdom of Scotland (says he) had as numerous a nobility as England," &c. They had indeed; and to that we owe one of the great and necessary evils of the union, upon the foot it now stands. Their nobility is indeed so numerous, that the whole revenues of their country would be hardly able to maintain them, according to the dignity of their titles; and what is infinitely worse, they are never likely to be extinct until the last period of all things; because the greatest part of them descend to heirs general, I imagine a person of quality prevailed on to many a woman much his inferiour, and without a groat to her fortune, and her friends arguing she was as good as her husband, because she brought him as numerous a family of relations and servants, as she found in his house. Scotland, in the taxes, is obliged to contribute one penny for every forty pence laid upon England; and the representatives they send to parliament are about a thirteenth. Every other Scotch peer has all the privileges of an English one, except that of sitting in parliament, and even precedence before all of the same title that shall be created for the time to come. The pensions and employments possessed by the natives of that country now among us, do amount to more than the whole body of their nobility ever spent at home; and all the money they raise upon the publick, is hardly sufficient to defray their civil and military lists. I could point out some, with great titles, who affected to appear very vigorous for dissolving the union, although their whole revenues before that period, would have ill maintained a Welsh justice of peace; and have since gathered more money, than ever any Scotchman, who had not travelled, could form an idea of.
I have only one thing more to say upon occasion of the union act; which is, that the author of the Crisis may be fairly proved, from his own citations, to be guilty of high treason. In a paper of his called the Englishman, of October 29, there is an advertisement about taking in subscriptions for printing the Crisis, where the title is published at length with the following clause, which the author thought fit to drop in the publication; ["and that no power on earth can bar, alter, or make void the present settlement of the crown, &c. By Richard Steele."] In his extract of an act of parliament made since the union, it appears to be high treason for any person by writing or printing to maintain and affirm, that the kings or queens of this realm, with and by the authority of parliament, are not able to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to limit and bind the crown, and the descent, limitation, inheritance, and the government thereof. This act being subsequent to the settlement of the crown confirmed at the union, it is probable some friend of the author advised him to leave out those treasonable words in the printed titlepage, which he had before published in the advertisement; and accordingly we find, that in the treatise itself he only offers it to every good subject's consideration, whether this article of the settlement of the crown is not as firm as the union itself, and as the settlement of episcopacy in England, &c. And he thinks the Scots understood it so, that the succession to the crown was never to be controverted.
These I take to be only treasonable insinuations; but the advertisement before mentioned, is actually high treason; for which the author ought to be prosecuted, if that would avail any thing under a jurisdiction, where cursing the queen is not above the penalty of twenty marks.
Nothing is more notorious than that the whigs of late years, both in their writings and discourses, have affected upon all occasions to allow the legitimacy of the pretender. This makes me a little wonder to see our author labouring to prove the contrary, by producing all the popular chat of those times, and other solid arguments from Fuller's narrative: but it must be supposed, that this gentleman acts by the commands of his superiours, who have thought fit at this juncture to issue out new orders, for reasons best known to themselves. I wish they had been more clear in their directions to him upon that weighty point, whether the settlement of the succession in the house of Hanover be alterable or not. I have observed where, in his former pages, he gives it in the negative; but in the turning of a leaf, he has wholly changed his mind. He tells us, he wonders there can be found any Briton weak enough to contend against a power in their own nation, which is practised in a much greater degree in other states: and how hard it is, that Britain should be debarred the privilege of establishing its own security, by relinquishing only those branches of the royal line, which threaten it with destruction; while other nations never scruple, upon less occasions, to go much greater lengths; of which he produces instances in France, Spain, Sicily, and Sardinia; and then adds, can Great Britain help to advance men to other thrones, and have no power in limiting its own? How can a senator, capable of doing honour to sir Thomas Hanmer, be guilty of such ridiculous inconsistencies? "The author of the Conduct of the Allies (says he) has dared to drop insinuations about altering the succession." The author of the Conduct of the Allies writes sense and English; neither of which the author of the Crisis understands. The former thinks "it wrong in point of policy to call in a foreign power to be guarantee of our succession, because it puts it out of the power of our own legislature to change our succession, without the consent of that prince or state, who is guarantee, whatever necessity may happen in future times." Now, if it be high treason to affirm by writing, that the legislature has no such power; and if Mr. Steele thinks it strange that Britain should be debarred this privilege, what could be the crime of putting such a case, that in future ages, a necessity might happen of limiting the succession, as well as it has happened already?
When Mr. Steele "reflects upon the many solemn, strong barriers (to our succession) of laws and oaths, &c. he thinks all fear vanishes before them." I think so too, provided the epithet solemn goes for nothing; because, although I have often heard of a solemn day, a solemn feast, and a solemn coxcomb, yet I can conceive no idea to myself of a solemn barrier. However, be that as it will, his thoughts it seems will not let him rest, but, before he is aware, he asks himself several questions; and, since he cannot resolve them, I will endeavour to give him what satisfaction I am able. The first is, what are the marks of a lasting security? To which I answer, that the signs of it in a kingdom or state are, first, good laws; and secondly, those laws well executed: we are pretty well provided with the former, but extremely defective in the latter. — Secondly, what are our tempers and our hearts at home? If by ours he means those of himself and his abettors, they are most damnably wicked; impatient for the death of the queen; ready to gratify their ambition and revenge, by all desperate methods; wholly alienate from truth, law, religion, mercy, conscience, or honour. — Thirdly, in what hands is power lodged abroad? To answer the question naturally, Lewis XIV is king of France, Philip V (by the counsels and acknowledgments of the whigs) is king of Spain, and so on. If by power he means money; the duke of Marlborough is thought to have more ready money than all the kings of Christendom together; but, by the peculiar disposition of Providence, it is locked up in a trunk, to which his ambition has no key: and that is our security. — Fourthly, are our unnatural divisions our strength? I think not; but they are the sign of it, for being unnatural they cannot last; and this shows, that union, the foundation of all strength, is more agreeable to our nature. — Fifthly, is it nothing to us, which of the princes of Europe has the longest sword? Not much, if we can tie up his hands, or put a strong shield into those of his neighbours; or if our sword be as sharp as his is long; or if it be necessary for him to turn his own sword into a ploughshare; or if such a sword happens to be in the hands of an infant, or struggled for by two competitors. — Sixthly, the powerful hand that deals out crowns and kingdoms all around us, may it not in time reach a king out to us too? If the powerful hand he means be that of France, it may reach out as many kings as it pleases; but we will not accept them. Whence does this man get his intelligence? I should think even his brother Ridpath might furnish him with better. What crowns or kingdoms has France dealt about? Spain was given by the will of the former king, in consequence of that infamous treaty of partition, the adviser of which will, I hope, never be forgot in England. Sicily was disposed of, by her majesty of Great-Britain; so in effect was Sardinia. France indeed once reached out a king to Poland, but the people would not receive him. This question of Mr. Steele's was therefore only put in terrorem, without any regard to truth. — Seventhly, are there no pretensions to our crown that can ever be revived? There may, for aught I know, be about a dozen; and those, in time, may possibly beget a hundred; but we must do as well as we can. Captain Bessus, when he had fifty challenges to answer, protested he could not fight above three duels a day. If the pretender should fail, (says the writer) the French king has in his quiver a succession of them; the duchess of Savoy, or her sons, or the dauphin her grandson. Let me suppose the chevalier de St. George to be dead; the duchess of Savoy will then be a pretender, and consequently must leave her husband, because his royal highness (for Mr. Steele has not yet acknowledged him for a king) is in alliance with her British majesty; her sons, when they grow pretenders, must undergo the same fate. But I am at a loss how to dispose of the dauphin, if he happen to be king of France before the pretendership to Britain falls to his share; for I doubt he will never be persuaded to remove out of his own kingdom, only because it is too near England.
But "the duke of Savoy did, some years ago, put in his claim to the crown of England in right of his wife; and he is a prince of great capacity, in strict alliance with France, and may therefore very well add to our fears of a popish successor." Is it the fault of the present, or of any ministry, that this prince put in his claim? must we give him opium to destroy his capacity? or can we prevent his alliance with any prince, who is in peace with her majesty? Must we send to stab or poison all the popish princes, who have any pretended title to our crown by the proximity of blood? What, in the name of God, can these people drive at? what is it they demand? Suppose the present dauphin were now a man, and the king of France, and next popish heir to the crown of England; is he not excluded by the laws of the land? But what regard will he have to our laws? I answer; has not the queen as good a title to the crown of France? and how is she excluded, but by their law against the succession of females, which we are not bound to acknowledge? And is it not in our power to exclude female successors, as well as in theirs? If such a pretence shall prove the cause of a war, what human power can prevent it? But our cause must necessarily be good and righteous; for either the kings of England have been unjustly kept out of the possession of France, or the dauphin, although nearest of kin, can have no legal title to England. And he must be an ill prince indeed, who will not have the hearts and hands of ninety nine in a hundred among his subjects, against such a popish pretender.
I have been the longer in answering the seventh question, because it led me to consider all he had afterward to say upon the subject of the pretender. Eighthly, and lastly, he asks himself whether Popery and Ambition are become tame and quiet neighbours? In this I can give him no satisfaction, because I never was in that street where they live; nor do I converse with any of their friends; only I find they are persons of a very evil reputation. But I am told for certain, that Ambition had removed her lodging, and lives the very next door to Faction, where they keep such a racket, that the whole parish is disturbed, and every night in an uproar.
This much in answer to those eight uneasy questions put by the author to himself in order to satisfy every Briton, and give him an occasion of "taking an impartial view of the affairs of Europe in general as well as of Great Britain in particular."
After enumerating the great actions of the confederate armies, under the command of prince Eugene and the duke of Marlborough, Mr. Steele observes, in the bitterness of his soul, that the British "general, however unaccountable it may be to posterity, was not permitted to enjoy the fruits of his glorious labour." Ten years fruits, it seems, were not sufficient, and yet they were the fruitfullest campaigns that ever any general cropped. However, I cannot but hope, that posterity will not be left in the dark, but some care taken both of her majesty's glory, and the reputation of those she employs. An impartial historian may tell the world, (and the next age will easily believe what it continues to feel) that the avarice and ambition of a few factious insolent subjects, had almost destroyed their country, by continuing a ruinous war in conjunction with allies, for whose sake principally we fought, who refused to bear their just proportion of their charge, and were connived at in their refusal, for private ends: that these factious people, treated the best and kindest of sovereigns, with insolence, cruelty, and ingratitude, of which he will be able to produce several instances; that they encouraged persons and principles alien from our religion and government, in order to strengthen their faction; he will tell the reasons, why the general, and first minister, were seduced to be heads of this faction, contrary to the opinions they had always professed. Such an historian will show many reasons, which made it necessary to remove the general and his friends; who, knowing the bent of the nation was against them, expected to lose their power when the war was at an end. Particularly, the historian will discover the whole intrigue of the duke of Marlborough's endeavouring to procure a commission to be general for life; wherein justice will be done to a person at that time of high station in the law, who (I mention it to his honour) advised the duke, when he was consulted upon it, not to accept of such a commission. By these, and many other instances which time will bring to light, it may perhaps appear not very unaccountable to posterity, why this great man was dismissed at last; but rather why he was dismissed no sooner.
But this is entering into a wide field. I shall therefore leave posterity to the information of better historians, than the author of the Crisis, or myself; and go on to inform the present age, in some facts, which the great orator and politician thinks fit to misrepresent, with the utmost degree either of natural, or wilful ignorance. He asserts, that in the duke of Ormond's campaign, "after a suspension of arms between Great Britain and France proclaimed at the head of the armies, the British troops, in the midst of the enemy's garrisons, withdrew themselves from their confederates." The fact is directly otherwise; for the British troops were most infamously deserted by the confederates, after all that could be urged by the duke of Ormond and the earl of Strafford, to press the confederate generals not to forsake them. The duke was directed to avoid engaging in any action, until he had farther orders, because an account of the king of Spain's renunciation was every day expected: this, the Imperialists and Dutch knew well enough; and therefore proposed to the duke, in that very juncture, to engage the French, for no other reason but to render desperate all the queen's measures toward a peace. Was not the certain possession of Dunkirk, of equal advantage to the uncertainty of a battle? A whole campaign under the duke of Marlborough, with such an acquisition, although at the cost of many thousand lives, and several millions of money, would have been thought very gloriously ended.
Neither, after all, was it a new thing, either in the British general, or the Dutch deputies, to refuse fighting, when they did not approve it. When the duke of Marlborough was going to invest Bouchain, the deputies of the States pressed him in vain to engage the enemy; and one of them was so far discontented upon his grace's refusal, that he presently became a partizan of the peace; yet I do not remember any clamour then raised here against the duke upon that account. Again, when the French invaded Douay, after the confederates had deserted the duke of Ormond, prince Eugene was violently bent upon a battle, and said they should never have another so good an opportunity; but monsieur ——, a private deputy, rose up, and opposed it so far, that the prince was forced to desist. Was it then more criminal in the duke of Ormond to refuse fighting by express command of the queen, and in order to get possession of Dunkirk, than for the duke of Marlborough to give the same refusal, without any such orders, or any such advantage? or shall a Dutch deputy assume more power than the queen of Great Britain's general, acting by the immediate commands of his sovereign?
The emperor and the empire (says Mr. Steele by way of admiration) continue the war! Is his Imperial majesty able to continue it or not? if he be, then Great Britain has been strangely used for ten years past; then how came it to pass, that of about ten thousand men in his service in Italy at the time of the battle of Turin, there were not above four thousand paid by himself? if he be not able to continue it, why does he go on? The reasons are clear; because the war only affects the princes of the empire, whom he is willing enough to expose, but not his own dominions. Besides, his Imperial ministers are in daily expectation of the queen's death; which they hope will give a new turn to affairs, and rekindle the war in Europe upon the old foot; and we know how the ministers of that court publickly assign it for a reason of their obstinacy against peace, that they hope for a sudden revolution in England. In the mean time, this appearance of the emperor's being forsaken by his ally, will serve to increase the clamour, both here and in Holland, against her majesty and those she employs.
Mr. Steele says, there can be no crime in affirming (if it be truth) that the house of Bourbon is at this juncture become more formidable, and bids fairer for a universal monarchy, and to engross the whole trade of Europe, than it did before the war.
No crime in affirming it, if it be truth. I will for once allow his proposition. But, if it be false, then I affirm, that whoever advances so seditious a falsehood, deserves to be hanged. Does he mean by the house of Bourbon, the two kings of France and Spain? If so, I reject his meaning, which would insinuate, that the interests and designs of both those princes will be the same; whereas they are more opposite than those of any two other monarchs in Christendom. This is the whole foolish slander so frequently flung upon the peace, and as frequently refuted. These factious undertakers of the press write with great advantage; they strenuously affirm a thousand falsehoods, without fear, wit, conscience, or knowledge; and we, who answer them, must be at the expense of an argument for each; after which, in the very next pamphlet we see the same assertions produced again, without the least notice of what has been said to disprove them. By the house of Bourbon, does he mean only the French king for the time being? If so, and his assertion be true, then that prince must deal with the devil, or else the money and blood spent in our ten years victories against him, might as well have continued in the purses and veins of her majesty's subjects.
But the particular assertions of this author, are easier detected than his general ones; I shall therefore proceed upon examining the former. For instance: I desire him to ask the Dutch, who can best inform him, why they delivered up Traerbach to the Imperialists? for, as to the queen, her majesty was never once consulted in it; whatever his preceptors, the politicians of Button's coffee-house, may have informed him to the contrary.
Mr. Steele affirms, that the French have begun the demolition of Dunkirk contemptuously and arbitrarily their own way. The governor of the town, and those gentlemen intrusted with the inspection of this work, do assure me, that the fact is altogether otherwise; that the method prescribed by those whom her majesty employs, has been exactly followed, and that the works are already demolished. I will venture to tell him farther, that the demolition was so long deferred, in order to remove those difficulties, which the barrier treaty has put us under; and the event has shown, that it was prudent to proceed no faster, until those difficulties were got over. The mole and harbour could not be destroyed, until the ships were got out; which, by reason of some profound secrets of state, did not happen until the other day. Who gave him those just suspicions, that the mole and harbour will never be destroyed? What is it he would now insinuate? that the ministry is bribed to leave the most important part of the work undone; or, that the pretender is to invade us from thence; or, that the queen has entered into a conspiracy with her servants, to prevent the good effects of the peace, for no other end but to lose the affections of her people, and endanger herself?
Instead of any farther information, which I could easily give, but which no honest man can want, I venture to affirm that the mole and harbour of Dunkirk will in a short time be most effectually destroyed; and at the same time I venture to prophesy, that neither Mr. Steele, nor his faction, will ever confess they believe it.
After all, it is a little hard that the queen cannot be allowed to demolish this town, in whatever manner she pleases to fancy. Mr. Steele must have it done in his own way, and is angry the French have pretended to do it in theirs; and yet he wrongs them into the bargain. For my own part, I do seriously think the most Christian king to be a much better friend of her majesty's, than Mr. Steele, or any of his faction. Besides, it is to be considered, that he is a monarch and a relation; and therefore, if I were a privy counsellor, and my advice to be asked, which of those two gentlemen born, should have the direction in the demolition of Dunkirk, I will give if for the former; because I look upon Mr. Steele, in quality of a member of his party, to be much more skilful in demolishing at home than abroad.
There is a prospect of more danger to the balance of Europe, and to the trade of Britain, from the emperor overrunning Italy, than from France overrunning the empire; that his imperial majesty entertains such thoughts, is visible to the world: and although little can be said to justify many actions of the French king, yet the worst of them, have never equalled the emperor's arbitrary keeping the possession of Milan, directly contrary to his oath, and to the express words of the golden bull, which oblige him to deliver up every fief that falls, or else they must all, in the course of time, lapse into his own hands.
I was at a loss who it was that Mr. Steele hinted at some time ago, by "the powerful hand, that deals out crowns and kingdoms all around us:" I now plainly find he meant no other hand but his own. He has dealt out the crown of Spain to France; to France he has given leave to invade the Empire next spring, with two hundred thousand men; and now at last he deals to France the imperial dignity; and so farewell liberty; Europe will be French. But, in order to bring all this about, the capital of Austria, the residence of his imperial majesty, must continue to be visited by the plague, of which the emperor must die, and so the thing is done.
Why should not I venture to deal out one sceptre in my turn, as well as Mr. Steele? I therefore deal out the empire to the elector of Saxony, upon failure of issue to this emperor at his death: provided the whigs will prevail on the son to turn papist, to get an empire, as they did upon the father, to get a kingdom. Or, it this prince be not approved of, I deal it out in his stead to the elector of Bavaria: and in one or the other of these, I dare engage to have all Christendom to second me, whatever the spleen, in the shape of politicks, may dictate to the author of the Crisis.
The design of Mr. Steele, in representing the circumstances of the affairs of Europe, is, to signify to the world, that all Europe is put in the high road to slavery, by the corruption of her majesty's present ministers; and so he goes on to Portugal; which, having during the war supplied us with gold in exchange for our woollen manufacture, has only at present a suspension of arms for its protection to last no longer than till the Catalonians are reduced; and then the old pretensions of Spain to Portugal will be revived: and Portugal when once enslaved by Spain, falls naturally, with the rest of Europe, into the gulf of France. In the mean time, let us see what relief a little truth can give this unhappy kingdom. That Portugal has yet no more than a suspension of arms they may thank themselves, because they came so late into the treaty; and that they came so late, they may thank the whigs, whose false representations they were so weak as to believe. However, the queen has voluntarily given them a guarantee to defend them against Spain, until the peace shall be made; and such terms after the peace are stipulated for them, as the Portuguese themselves are contented with.
Having mentioned the Catalonians, he puts the question, "who can name the Catalonians without a tear?" That can I; for he has told so many melancholy stories without one syllable of truth, that he has blunted the edge of my fears, and I shall not be startled at the worst he can say. What he affirms concerning the Catalonians, is included in the following particulars; first, that they were drawn into the war by the encouragement of the maritime powers; by which are understood England and Holland: but he is too good a friend of the Dutch, to give them any part of the blame. Secondly, that they are now abandoned and exposed to the resentment of an enraged prince. Thirdly, that they always opposed the person and interest of that prince, who is their present king. Lastly, that the doom is dreadful of those, who shall, in the sight of God, be esteemed their destroyers. And if we interpret the insinuation he makes, according to his own mind, the destruction of those people must be imputed to the present ministry.
I am sometimes, in charity, disposed to hope, that this writer is not always sensible of the flagrant falsehoods he utters, but is either biassed by an inclination to believe the worst, or a want of judgement to choose his informers. That the Catalonians were drawn into the war by the encouragement of her majesty, should not in decency have been affirmed, until about fifty years hence; when it might be supposed there would be no living witness left to disprove it. It was only upon the assurances of a revolt given by the prince of Hesse and others, and their invitation, that the queen was prevailed with to send her forces upon that expedition. When Barcelona was taken, by a most unexpected accident of a bomb lighting on the magazine, then indeed the Catalonians revolted, having before submitted and sworn allegiance to Philip, as much as any other province of Spain. Upon the peace between that crown and Britain, the queen, in order to ease the emperor, and save his troops, stipulated with king Philip for a neutrality in Italy, and that his imperial majesty should have liberty to evacute Catalonia; upon condition of absolute indemnity of the Catalans, with an entire restitution to their honours, dignities, and estates. As this neutrality was never observed by the emperor, so he never effectually evacuated Catalonia; for, although he sent away the main body, he left behind many officers and private men, who now spirit up and assist those obstinate people to continue in their rebellion. It is true indeed that king Philip did not absolutely restore the Catalans to all their old privileges, of which they never made other use than as an encouragement to rebel; but admitted them to the same privileges with his subjects of Castile, particularly to the liberty of trading, and having employments in the West-Indies, which they never enjoyed before. Besides, the queen reserved to herself the power of procuring farther immunities for them, wherein the most christian king was obliged to second her: for, his catholic majesty intended no more than to retrench those privileges, under the pretext of which they now rebel, as they had formerly done in favour of France. How dreadful then must be the doom of those, who hindered these people from submitting to the gentle terms offered them by their prince! and who, although they be conscious of their own inability to furnish one single ship for the support of the Catalans, are at this instant spurring them on to their ruin, by promises of aid and protection!
Thus much in answer to Mr. Steele's account of the affairs of universal monarchy of France, and the danger of I know not how many popish successors to Britain. His political reflections are as good as his facts. "We must observe," says he, "that the person who seems to be the most favoured by the French king in the late treaties, is the duke of Savoy." Extremely right: for, whatever that prince got by the peace, he owes entirely to her majesty, as a just reward for his having been so firm and useful an ally; neither was France brought with more difficulty to yield any one point, than that of allowing the duke such a barrier as the queen insisted on., from which he deduces the
"He is become the most powerful prince in Italy." I had rather see him so than the emperor. "He is supposed to have entered into a secret and strict alliance with the house of Bourbon." This is one of those facts wherein I am most inclined to believe the author, because it is what he must needs be utterly ignorant of, and therefore may possibly be true.
I thought indeed we should be safe from all popish successors as far as Italy, because of the prodigious clutter about sending the pretender thither. But they will never agree where to fix their longitude. The duke of Savoy is the more dangerous for removing to Sicily: he adds to our fears for being too near. So, whether France conquer Germany, or be in peace and good understanding with it, either event will put us and Holland at the mercy of France, which has a quiver full of pretenders at its back, whenever the chevalier shall die.
This was just the logick of poor prince Butler, a splenetick madman, whom every body may remember about the town. Prince Pamphilio in Italy, employed emissaries to torment prince Butler here. But what if prince Pamphilio die? Why then he had left in his will, that his heirs and executors torment prince Butler for ever.
I cannot think it a misfortune, what Mr. Steele affirms, "that treasonable books lately dispersed among us, striking apparently at the Hanover succession, have passed almost without observation from the generality of the people;" because it seems a certain sign, that the generality of the people are well disposed to that illustrious family: but I look upon it as a great evil, to see seditious books dispersed among us, apparently striking at the queen and her administration, at the constitution in church and state, and at all religion; yet passing without observation from the generality of those in power: but whether this remissness may be imputed to Whitehall, or Westminsterhall, is other men's business to inquire. Mr. Steele knows in his conscience, that the Queries concerning the Pretender, issued from one of his own party. And as for the poor nonjuring clergyman, who was trusted with committing to the press a late book on the subject of hereditary right, by a strain of a summum jus, he is now, as I am told, with half a score children, starving and rotting among thieves and pickpockets, in the common room of a stinking jail. I have never seen either the book or the publisher; however, I would fain ask one single person in the world a question; why he has so often drank the abdicated king's health upon his knees? — But the transition is natural and frequent, and I shall not trouble him for an answer.
It is the hardest case in the world, that Mr. Steele should take up the artificial reports of his own faction, and then put them off upon the world, as additional fears of a popish successor. I can assure him, that no good subject of the queen's is under the least concern, whether the pretender be converted or not, farther than their wishes that all men would embrace the true religion. But reporting backward and forward upon this point, helps to keep up the noise, and is a topick for Mr. Steele to enlarge himself upon, by showing how little we can depend upon such conversions, by collecting a list of popish cruelties, and repeating after himself and the bishop of Sarum, the dismal effects likely to follow upon the return of that superstition among us.
But, as this writer is reported by those who know him, to be what the French call journalier, his fear and courage operating according to the weather in our uncertain climate; I am apt to believe the two last pages of his Crisis, were written on a sunshiny day. This I guess from the general tenour of them, and particularly from an unwary assertion, which, if he believes as firmly as I do, will at once overthrow all his foreign and domestick fears of a popish successor. " As divided a people as we are, those who stand for the house of Hanover, are infinitely superiour in number, wealth, courage, and all arts military and civil, to those in the contrary interest; beside which, we have laws, I say, the laws on our side. The laws, I say, the laws." This elegant repetition is, I think, a little out of place; for the stress might better have been laid upon so great a majority of the nation; without which, I doubt the laws would be of little weight, although they be very good additional securities. And if what he here asserts be true, as it certainly is, although he assert it (for I allow even the majority of his own party to be against the pretender) there can be no danger of a popish successor, except from the unreasonable jealousies of the best among that party, and from the malice, the avarice, or ambition of the worst; without which, Britain would be able to defend her succession, against all her enemies, both at home and abroad. Most of the dangers from abroad, which he enumerates as the consequences of this very bad peace made by the queen, and approved by parliament, must have subsisted under any peace at all; unless, among other projects equally feasible, we could have stipulated to cut the throats of every popish relation to the royal family.
Well, by this author's own confession, a number infinitely superiour, and the best circumstantiated imaginable, are for the succession in the house of Hanover. This succession is established, confirmed, and secured by several laws; her majesty's repeated declarations, and the oaths of all her subjects, engage both her and them to preserve what those laws have settled. This is a security indeed, a security adequate at least to the importance of the thing; and yet, according to the whig scheme, as delivered to us by Mr. Steele and his coadjutors, is altogether insufficient; and the succession will be defeated, the pretender brought in, and popery established among us, without the farther assistance of this writer and his faction.
And what securities have our adversaries substituted in the place of these? A club of politicians, where Jenny Man presides; a Crisis written by Mr. Steele; a confederacy of knavish stockjobbers to ruin credit; a report of the queen's death; an effigies of the pretender run twice through the body by a valiant peer; a speech by the author of the Crisis; and, to sum up all, an unlimited freedom of reviling her majesty, and those she employs.
I have now finished the most disgustful task that ever I undertook. I could with more ease have written three dull pamphlets, than remarked upon the falsehoods and absurdities of one. But I was quite confounded last Wednesday, when the printer came with another pamphlet in his hand, written by the same author, and entitled, "The Englishman, being the Close of the Paper so called," &c. He desired I would read it over, and consider it in a paper by itself; which last I absolutely refused. Upon perusal, I found it chiefly an invective against Toby, the ministry, the Examiner, the clergy, the queen, and the Post-boy; yet, at the same time, with great justice exclaiming against those, who presumed to offer the least word against the heads of that faction, whom her majesty discarded. The author likewise proposes an equal division of favour and employments, between the whigs and tories; for, if the former "can have no part or portion in David, they desire no longer to be his subjects." He insists, that her majesty has exactly followed monsieur Tugghe's memorial against the demolishing of Dunkirk. He reflects with great satisfaction on the good already done to his country by the Crisis. Non nobis, domine, non nobis, &c. —— He gives us hopes that he will leave off writing, and consult his own quiet and happiness; and concludes with a letter to a friend at court. I suppose, by the style of "old friend," and the like, it must be some body there of his own level; among whom his party have indeed more friends than I could wish. In this letter he asserts, that the present ministers were not educated in the church of England, but are new converts from presbytery. Upon which I can only reflect, how blind the malice of that man must be, who invents a groundless lie in order to defame his superiours, which would be no disgrace if it had been a truth. And he concludes with making three demands, for the satisfaction of himself, and other malecontents. First, the demolition of the harbour of Dunkirk. Secondly, that Great Britain and France would heartily join against the exorbitant power of the duke of Lorrain, and force the pretender from his asylum at Bar le Duc. Lastly, "that his electoral highness of Hanover, would be so grateful to signify to all the world the perfect good understanding he has with the court of England, in as plain terms, as her majesty was pleased to declare she had with that house, on her part."
As to the first of these demands, I will venture to undertake it shall be granted; but then Mr. Steele, and his brother malecontents, must promise to believe the thing is done, after those employed have made their report; or else bring vouchers to disprove it. Upon the second; I cannot tell whether her majesty will engage in a war against the duke of Lorrain, to force him to remove the pretender; but I believe, if the parliament should think it necessary to address upon such an occasion, the queen would move that prince to send him away. His last demand, offered under the title of a wish, is of so insolent and seditious a strain, that I care not to touch it. Here he directly charges her majesty with delivering a falsehood to her parliament from the throne; and declares he will not believe her, until the elector of Hanover himself shall vouch for the truth of what she has so solemnly affirmed.
I agree with this writer, that it is an idle thing in his antagonists to trouble themselves upon the articles of his birth, education, or fortune; for whoever writes at this rate of his sovereign, to whom he owes so many personal obligations, I should never inquire whether he be a gentleman born, but whether he be a human creature.
- Mr. Steele was expelled the house of commons for this pamphlet, at the very same time that the house of lords was moved against the dean for the Reply. The plan of the Crisis was laid and chiefly executed by Mr. Moore, of the Inner Temple; and many hints of it came from archbishop Tennison, whose steward obtained very large subscriptions for it. "Memoirs of Steele, 1731," p. 14.
- A paper written by the same author in favour of the preceding administration.
- Steele addressed a Letter to the bailiff of Stockbridge, who appears to have been returning officer for this borough, which Steele represented in parliament.
- The right honourable Robert Molesworth, esq., one of the privy council and member of the house of commons in Ireland, created a peer by king George I. The lower house of convocation there preferred a complaint against him for disrespectful words, which being represented in England he was removed from the council: to justify him against this complaint was the subject of Steele's Letter. See the Englishman, Jan. 19, 1713-14. No. 46.
- Here the nominative, 'who,' has no verb to which it refers in the rest of the sentence.
- It should be — of the pretender's reigning over us, not pretender reigning, &c. As we should write — of his reigning over us, not of him reigning, &c.
- Dr. Gilbert Burnet.
- Those persons were created peers by king George I.
- Doctor Benjamin Hoadly, created bishop of Bangor by king George I, in 1715, translated to Hereford in 1721, to Salisbury in 1723, and to Winchester in 1734.
- So it has stood in all editions; though marked out as an erratum by the author, at the end of Oldisworth's Examiner, March 11, 1713. It should be, "every first day in Lent."
- Sir Simon Harcourt, who at the time of Sacheverell's trial had resigned his place of attorney general, which he afterward accepted again; upon the change of the ministry he was made lord keeper, and in 1711 created a baron.
- Dr. Tenison.
- Speaker of the house of commons.
- It should be — 'in compliance with,' &c.
- Dr. Hawkesworth has remarked, that the author's memory failed him a little in this assertion, as one of his answerers observed. The dean had obviated this remark in a postscript to the abovementioned Examiner, by acknowledging his mistake; and that he had since been told, "That some overtures were made to that end in the reigns of other princes;" and complaining of some literal mistakes of the printer, particularly that pointed out in p. 290.
- See the Examiner, Number XIX, at the end.
- Lord Somers.
- The duke of Argyll, who zealously promoted the union, the earl of Mar, Mr. Lockhart, and Mr. Cockburn, having been deputed on purpose, remonstrated to the queen against the malt tax, which they said would probably prompt the Scots to declare the union dissolved. The earl of Finlater soon after moved the house of lords for leave to bring in a bill for dissolving the union; he was seconded by the earl of Mar, and supported by lord Eglinton, the earl of Hay, the duke of Argyll, and others.
- See the Examiner Number XIX, and the subsequent papers.
- It should be — 'are easier to be detected;' or, 'are more easily detected,' &c.
- Mr. Steele often styles himself so.
- It should be — 'from the emperor's overrunning Italy, than from Frances overrunning the empire.'
- This should be — 'I cannot think it a misfortune, as Mr. Steele affirms,' &c. not, 'what Mr. Steele affirms;' which is not grammar.
- Upon his conviction he was committed to the Marshalsea; and at his sentence, to the Queen's Bench for three years.
- Parker, afterward lord chancellor.
- What portion have we in David?
- "Tugghe was deputed by the magistrates of Dunkirk to intercede with the queen, that she would recall part of her sentence concerning Dunkirk, by causing her thunderbolts to fall only on the martial works, and to spare the moles and dykes, which in their naked condition could be no more than objects of pity."