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Title: Political Pamphlets
Author: Saintsbury, George, 1845-1933
Language: English
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A collection, in separate volumes, partly of extracts from
long books, partly of short pieces, by the same writer, on the
same subject, or of the same class.

Vol I.--Tales of Mystery.
   II.--Political Verse.
  III.--Defoe's Minor Novels.
   IV.--Political Pamphlets.
    V.--Seventeenth Century Lyrics.
   VI.--Elizabethan and Jacobean Pamphlets.





I. LETTER TO A DISSENTER. (By George Savile, Marquess of Halifax)


To the Tradesmen, Shop-Keepers, Farmers, and Common-People in general,
of the Kingdom of Ireland; concerning the Brass half-pence coined by
Mr. Wood

A Letter to Mr. Harding the Printer, upon occasion of a Paragraph in
his News-Paper of August 1, 1724, relating to Mr. Wood's Half-pence

Edmund Burke)





It is sometimes thought, and very often said, that political writing,
after its special day is done, becomes more dead than any other kind
of literature, or even journalism. I do not know whether my own
judgment is perverted by the fact of a special devotion to the
business, but it certainly seems to me that both the thought and the
saying are mistakes. Indeed, a rough-and-ready refutation of them is
supplied by the fact that, in no few cases, political pieces have
entered into the generally admitted stock of the best literary things.
If they are little read, can we honestly say that other things in the
same rank are read much more? And is there not the further plea, by no
means contradictory, nor even merely alternative, that the best
examples of them are, as a rule, merged in huge collected 'Works,' or,
in the case of authors who have not attained to that dignity, simply
inaccessible to the general? At any rate my publishers have consented
to let me try the experiment of gathering certain famous things of the
sort in this volume, and the public must decide.

I do not begin very early, partly because examples of the Elizabethan
political pamphlet, or what supplied its place, will be given in
another volume of the series exclusively devoted to the pamphlet
literature of the reigns of Eliza and our James, partly for a still
better reason presently to be explained. On the other hand, though
another special volume is devoted to Defoe, the immortal _Shortest Way
with the Dissenters_ is separated from the rest of his work, and given
here. Most of the contents, however, represent authors not otherwise
represented in the series, and though very well known indeed by name,
less read than quoted. The suitableness of the political pamphlet,
both by size and self-containedness, for such a volume as this, needs
no justification except that which it, like everything else, must
receive, by being put to the proof of reading.

There is no difficulty in showing, with at least sufficient critical
exactness, why it is not possible or not desirable to select examples
from very early periods even of strictly modern history. The causes
are in part the same as those which delayed the production of really
capital political verse (which has been treated in another volume),
but they are not wholly the same. The Martin Marprelate pamphlets are
strictly political; so are many things earlier, later, and
contemporary with them, by hands known and unknown, great and small,
skilled and unskilled; so are some even in the work of so great a man
as Bacon. But very many things were wanting to secure the conditions
necessary to the perfect pamphlet. There was not the political
freedom; there was not the public; there was not the immediate object;
there was not, last and most of all, the style. Political utterances
under a more or less despotic, or, as the modern euphemism goes,
'personal' government, were almost necessarily those of a retained
advocate, who expected his immediate reward, on the one hand; or of a
rebel, who stood to make his account with office if he succeeded, or
with savage punishment if he failed, on the other. A distant prospect
of impeachment, of the loss of ears, hands, or life if the tide turns,
is a stimulant to violence rather than to vigour. I do not think,
however, that this is the most important factor in the problem.
Parliamentary government, with a limited franchise of tolerably
intelligent voters, a party system, and newspapers comparatively
undeveloped, may not suit an ideally perfect _politeia_, but it is
the very hotbed in which to nourish the pamphlet. There is also a
style, as there is a time, for all things; and no style could be so
well suited for the pamphlet as the balanced, measured, pointed, and
polished style which Dryden and Tillotson and Temple brought in during
the third quarter of the seventeenth century, and which did not go out
of fashion till the second quarter of the nineteenth. We have indeed
seen pamphlets proper exercising considerable influence in quite
recent times; but in no instance that I can remember has this been due
to any literary merits, and I doubt whether even the bare fact will be
soon or often renewed in our days. The written word--the written word
of condensed, strengthened, spirited literature--has lost much, if not
all, of its force with an enormously increased electorate, and a
bewildering multiplicity of print and speech of all kinds.

Whatever justice these reasonings may have or may lack, the facts
speak for themselves, as facts intelligently regarded have a habit of
doing. The first pamphlets proper of great literary merit and great
political influence are those of Halifax in the first movement of real
party struggle during the reign of Charles the Second; the last which
unite the same requisites are those of Scott on the eve of the first
Reform Bill. The leaflet and circular war of the anti-Corn Law League
must be ruled out as much as Mr. Gladstone's _Bulgarian Horrors_.

This leaves us a period of almost exactly a hundred and fifty years,
during which the kind, whether in good or bad examples, was of
constant influence; while its best instances enriched literature with
permanent masterpieces in little. I do not think that any moderately
instructed person will find much difficulty in comprehending the
specimens here given. I am sure that no moderately intelligent one
will fail, with a very little trouble, to take delight in them. I do
not know whether an artful generaliser could get anything out of the
circumstances in which the best of them grew; I should say myself that
nothing more than the system of government, the conditions of the
electorate and the legislature, and the existence from time to time of
a superheated state in political feeling, can or need be collected. In
some respects, to my own taste, the first of these examples is also
the best. To Halifax full justice has never been done, for we have had
no capable historian of the late seventeenth century but Macaulay, and
Halifax's defect of fervour as a Jacobite was more than made up to
Macaulay by his defect of fervour as a Williamite. As for the moderns,
I have myself more than once failed to induce editors of 'series' to
give Halifax a place. Yet Macaulay himself has been fairer to the
great Trimmer than to most persons with whom he was not in full
sympathy. The weakness of Halifax's position is indeed obvious. When
you run first to one side of the boat and then to the other, you have
ten chances of sinking to one of trimming her. To hold fast to one
party only, and to keep that from extremes, is the only secret, and it
is no great disgrace to Halifax, that in the very infancy of the party
and parliamentary system, he did not perceive it. But this hardly
interferes at all with the excellence of his pamphlets. The polished
style, the admirable sense, the subdued and yet ever present wit, the
avoidance of excessive cleverness (the one thing that the average
Briton will not stand), the constant eye on the object, are
unmistakable. They are nearly as forcible as Dryden's political and
controversial prefaces, which are pamphlets themselves in their way,
and they excel them in knowledge of affairs, in urbanity, in
adaptation to the special purpose. In all these points they resemble
more than anything else the pamphlets of Paul Louis Courier, and
there can be no higher praise than this.

No age in English history was more fertile in pamphlets than the
reigns of William and of Anne. Some men of real distinction
occasionally contributed to them, and others (such as Ferguson and
Maynwaring) obtained such literary notoriety as they possess by their
means. The total volume of the kind produced during the quarter of a
century between the Revolution and the accession of George the First
would probably fill a considerable library. But the examples which
really deserve exhumation are very few, and I doubt whether any can
pretend to vie with the masterpieces of Defoe and Swift. Both these
great writers were accomplished practitioners in the art, and the
characteristics of both lent themselves with peculiar yet strangely
different readiness to the work. They addressed, indeed, different
sections of what was even then the electorate. Defoe's unpolished
realism and his exact adaptation of tone, thought, taste, and fancy to
the measure of the common Englishman were what chiefly gave him a
hearing. Swift aimed and flew higher, but also did not miss the lower
mark. No one has ever doubted that Johnson's depreciation of _The
Conduct of the Allies_ was half special perversity (for he was always
unjust to Swift), half mere humorous paradox. For there was much more
of this in the doctor's utterances than his admirers, either in his
own day or since, have always recognised, or have sometimes been
qualified by Providence to recognise. As for the _Drapier's Letters_ I
can never myself admire them enough, and they seem to me to have been
on the whole under-rather than over-valued by posterity.

The 'Great Walpolian Battle' and the attacks on Bute and other
favourite ministers were very fertile in the pamphlet, but already
there were certain signs of alteration in its character. Pulteney and
Walpole's other adversaries had already glimmerings of the newspaper
proper, that is to say, of the continual dropping fire rather than the
single heavy broadside; to adopt a better metaphor still, of a
regimental and professional soldiery rather than of single volunteer
champions. The _Letters of Junius_, which for some time past have been
gradually dropping from their former somewhat undue pride of place
(gained and kept as much by the factitious mystery of their origin as
by anything else) to a station more justly warranted, are no doubt
themselves pamphlets of a kind; but they are separated from pamphlets
proper not less by their contents than by their form and continuity.
The real difference is this, that the pamphlet, though often if not
always personal enough, should always and generally does affect at
least to discuss a general question of principle or policy, whereas
Junius is always personal first, and very generally last also. On the
other hand, Burke, whether his productions be called Speeches or
Letters, Thoughts or Reflections, is always a pamphleteer in heart and
soul, in form and matter. If the resemblance of his pamphlets to
speeches gives the force and fire, it is certain that the resemblance
of his speeches to pamphlets accounts for that 'dinner-bell' effect of
his which has puzzled some people and shocked others. Burke always
argued the point, if he only argued one side of it, and it is the
special as it is the saving grace of the pamphlet that it must, or at
least should, be an argument, and not merely an invective or an
innuendo, a sermon or a lampoon.

Sydney Smith belonged both to the old school and the new. He was both
pamphleteer and journalist; but he kept the form and even to some
extent the style of his pamphlets and his articles well apart. I may
seem likely to have some difficulty in admitting the claim of Cobbett
after disallowing that of Junius under the definition just given, but
I have no very great fear of being unable to making it good. Much as
Cobbett disliked persons, and crotchety as he was in his dislikes,
they were always dislikes of principle in the bottom. The singular
Tory-Radicalism which Cobbett exhibited, and which has made some rank
him unduly low, was no doubt partly due to accidents of birth and
education, and to narrowness of intellectual form. But boroughmongering
after all was a Whig rather than a Tory institution, and Cobbett's
hatred of it, as well as that desire for the maintenance of a kind of
manufacturing yeomanry (not wholly different from the later ideal of
Mr. William Morris,) which was his other guiding principle throughout,
was by no means alien from pure Toryism. His work in relation to Reform,
moreover, is unmistakable--as unmistakable as is that of Sydney Smith,
who precedes him here, with regard to Catholic Emancipation. I should
have voted and written against both these things had I lived then; but
this does not make me enjoy Cobbett or Sydney any the less.

As for the latest example I have selected, it is a crucial one. The
_Letters of Malachi Malagrowther_ come from a man who is not often
rated high as a political thinker, even by those who sympathise with
his political views. But here as elsewhere the politician, no less
than the poet, the critic, the historian, bears the penalty of the
pre-eminent greatness of the novelist. Nothing is more uncritical than
to regard Scott as a mere sentimentalist in politics, and I cannot
think that any competent judge can do so after reading _Malagrowther_,
even after reading Scott's own Diary and letters on the subject. As he
there explains, he was not greatly carried, as a rule, to interest
himself in the details of politics. As both Lockhart and he admit, he
might not have been so interested even at this juncture had it not
been for the chagrin at his own misfortunes, which, nobly and
stoically repressed as it was, required some issue. But his general
principle on this occasion was clear; it can be thoroughly apprehended
and appreciated even by an Englishman of Englishmen. It was thoroughly
justified by the event, and, I may perhaps be permitted to observe,
ran exactly contrary to a sentiment rather widely adopted of late. No
man, whether in public writings or private conduct, could be more set
than Scott was against a spurious Scotch particularism. He even earned
from silly Scots maledictions for the chivalrous justice he dealt to
England in _The Lord of the Isles_, and the common-sense justice he
dealt to her in the mouth of Bailie Jarvie. But he was not more
staunch for the political Union than he was for the preservation of
minor institutions, manners, and character; and the proposed
interference with Scotch banking seemed to him to be one of the things
tending to make good Scotchmen, as he bluntly told Croker, 'damned
mischievous Englishmen.' Therefore he arose and spoke, and though he
averted the immediate attempt, yet the prophecies which he uttered
were amply fulfilled in other ways after the Reform Bill.

These, then, are the principles on which I have selected the pieces
that follow (some minor reasons for the particular choices being given
in the special introductions):--That they should be pamphlets proper
(_Malachi_ appeared first in a newspaper, but that was a sign of the
time chiefly, and the numbers of Cobbett's _Register_ were practically
independent pieces); that they should deal with special subjects of
burning political, and not merely personal, interest; and that they
should either directly or in the long-run have exercised an actual
determining influence on the course of politics and history. This last
point is undoubted in the case of the examples from Halifax, Swift,
Burke (who more than any one man pointed and steeled the resistance
of England to Jacobin tyranny), and Scott; it was less immediate, but
scarcely more dubious in those of Defoe, Cobbett, and Sydney Smith.
And so in all humility I make my bow as introducer once more to the
English public of these Seven Masters of English political writing.



(_There is no doubt that Halifax's work deserves to rank first in a
collection of political pamphlets. He signed none; it was indeed
almost impossible for a prominent person in the State then safely or
decently to do so, and different attributions were made at the time of
some of them, as of the _Character of a Trimmer_ to Coventry, and of
this _Letter_ (this 'masterly little tract,' as Macaulay justly calls
it) to Temple. But shortly after his death all were published as his
unchallenged, and there never has been any doubt of their authorship
in the minds of good judges. Four of them are so good that extrinsic
reasons have to be brought in for preferring one to the other. The
_Character of a Trimmer_ is rather too long for my scheme; the _Anatomy
of an Equivalent_ is too technical, and requires too much illustration
and exegesis; the _Cautions for Choice of Members of Parliament_,
though practically valuable to the present day, is a little too
general. The _Letter to a Dissenter_ escapes all these objections. It
is brief, it is thoroughly to the point, it is comprehensible almost
without note or comment to any one who remembers the broad fact that
by his Declaration of Indulgence James the Second attempted to detach,
and almost succeeded in detaching, the Dissenters from their common
cause with the Church in opposing his enfranchisement of the Roman
Catholics, and his preferment of them to great offices. As for its
author, his most eminent acts are written in the pages of the
universally read historian above quoted. But he was in reality more of
a Tory than it suited Macaulay to represent him, though he gloried in
the name of Trimmer, and certainly showed what is called in modern
political slang a 'crossbench mind' not only during the madness of the
Popish plot, during the greater madness of James's assaults on the
Church, the Constitution, and private rights, but also (after the
Revolution) towards William of Orange. Born about 1630 he died in
April 1695, leaving the fame, unjustified by any samples in those
unreported days, of the greatest orator of his time, a reputation as a
wit which was partly inherited by his grandson, Chesterfield, and the
small volume of _Miscellanies_, on which we here draw. The pamphlet
itself appeared in April 1687._)


Sir--Since addresses are in fashion, give me leave to make one to you.
This is neither the effect of fear, interest, or resentment; therefore
you may be sure it is sincere: and for that reason it may expect to be
kindly received. Whether it will have power enough to convince,
dependeth upon the reasons of which you are to judge; and upon your
preparation of mind, to be persuaded by truth, whenever it appeareth
to you. It ought not to be the less welcome for coming from a friendly
hand, one whose kindness to you is not lessened by difference of
opinion, and who will not let his thoughts for the public be so tied
or confined to this or that sub-division of Protestants as to stifle
the charity, which besides all other arguments, is at this time become
necessary to preserve us.

I am neither surprised nor provoked, to see that in the condition you
were put into by the laws, and the ill circumstances you lay under, by
having the Exclusion and Rebellion laid to your charge, you were
desirous to make yourselves less uneasy and obnoxious to authority.
Men who are sore, run to the nearest remedy with too much haste to
consider all the consequences: grains of allowance are to be given,
where nature giveth such strong influences. When to men under
sufferings it offereth ease, the present pain will hardly allow time
to examine the remedies; and the strongest reason can hardly gain a
fair audience from our mind, whilst so possessed, till the smart is a
little allayed.

I do not know whether the warmth that naturally belongeth to new
friendships, may not make it a harder task for me to persuade you. It
is like telling lovers, in the beginning of their joys, that they will
in a little time have an end. Such an unwelcome style doth not easily
find credit. But I will suppose you are not so far gone in your new
passion, but that you will hear still; and therefore I am also under
the less discouragement, when I offer to your consideration two
things. The _first_ is, the cause you have to suspect your new
friends. The _second_, the duty incumbent upon you, in Christianity
and prudence, not to hazard the public safety, neither by desire of
ease nor of revenge.

To the _first_. Consider that notwithstanding the smooth language
which is now put on to engage you, these new friends did not make you
their choice, but their refuge. They have ever made their first
courtships to the Church of England, and when they were rejected
there, they made their application to you in the second place. The
instances of this might be given in all times. I do not repeat them,
because whatsoever is unnecessary must be tedious; the truth of this
assertion being so plain as not to admit a dispute. You cannot
therefore reasonably flatter yourselves that there is any inclination
to you. They never pretended to allow you any quarter, but to usher in
liberty for themselves under that shelter. I refer you to Mr.
Coleman's Letters, and to the Journals of Parliament, where you may be
convinced, if you can be so mistaken as to doubt; nay, at this very
hour they can hardly forbear, in the height of their courtship, to let
fall hard words of you. So little is nature to be restrained; it will
start out sometimes, disdaining to submit to the usurpation of art and

This alliance, between liberty and infallibility, is bringing together
the two most contrary things that are in the world. The Church of Rome
doth not only dislike the allowing liberty, but by its principles it
cannot do it. Wine is not more expressly forbid to the Mahometans,
than giving heretics liberty to the Papists. They are no more able to
make good their vows to you, than men married before, and their wife
alive, can confirm their contract with another. The continuance of
their kindness would be a habit of sin, of which they are to repent;
and their absolution is to be had upon no other terms than their
promise to destroy you. You are therefore to be hugged now, only that
you may be the better squeezed at another time. There must be
something extraordinary when the Church of Rome setteth up bills, and
offereth plaisters, for tender consciences. By all that hath hitherto
appeared, her skill in chirurgery lieth chiefly in a quick hand to cut
off limbs; but she is the worst at healing of any that ever pretended
to it.

To come so quick from another extreme is such an unnatural motion that
you ought to be upon your guard. The other day you were Sons of
Belial; now you are Angels of Light. This is a violent change, and it
will be fit for you to pause upon it before you believe it. If your
features are not altered, neither is their opinion of you, whatever
may be pretended. Do you believe less than you did that there is
idolatry in the Church of Rome? Sure you do not. See, then, how they
treat, both in words and writing, those who entertain that opinion.
Conclude from hence, how inconsistent their favour is with this single
article, except they give you a dispensation for this too, and not by
a _non obstante_, secure you that they will not think the worse of

Think a little how dangerous it is to build upon a foundation of
paradoxes. Popery now is the only friend to liberty, and the known
enemy to persecution. The men of Taunton and Tiverton are above all
other eminent for Loyalty. The Quakers, from being declared by the
Papists not to be Christians, are now made favourites, and taken into
their particular protection; they are on a sudden grown the most
accomplished men of the kingdom in good breeding, and give thanks with
the best grace in double-refined language. So that I should not
wonder, though a man of that persuasion, in spite of his hat, should
be Master of the Ceremonies. Not to say harsher words, these are such
very new things, that it is impossible not to suspend our belief, till
by a little more experience, we may be informed whether they are
realities or apparitions. We have been under shameful mistakes, if
these opinions are true; but for the present we are apt to be
incredulous, except that we could be convinced that the priest's words
in this case too are able to make such a sudden and effectual change;
and that their power is not limited to the Sacrament, but that it
extendeth to alter the nature of all other things, as often as they
are so disposed.

Let me now speak of the instruments of your friendship, and then leave
you to judge whether they do not afford matter of suspicion. No
sharpness is to be mingled, where healing only is intended; so nothing
will be said to expose particular men, how strong soever the
temptation may be, or how clear the proofs to make it out. A word or
two in general, for your better caution, shall suffice. Suppose then,
for argument's sake, that the mediators of this new alliance should
be such as have been formerly employed in treaties of the same kind,
and there detected to have acted by order, and to have been empowered
to give encouragements and rewards. Would not this be an argument to
suspect them?

If they should plainly be under engagements to one side, their
arguments to the other ought to be received accordingly. Their fair
pretences are to be looked upon as a part of their commission, which
may not improbably give them a dispensation in the case of truth, when
it may bring a prejudice upon the service of those by whom they are

If there should be men, who having formerly had means and authority to
persuade by secular arguments, have, in pursuance of that power,
sprinkled money among the Dissenting ministers; and if those very men
should now have the same authority, practise the same methods, and
disburse where they cannot otherwise persuade; it seemeth to me to be
rather an evidence than a presumption of the deceit.

If there should be ministers amongst you, who by having fallen under
temptations of this kind, are in some sort engaged to continue their
frailty, by the awe they are in lest it should be exposed; the
persuasions of these unfortunate men must sure have the less force,
and their arguments, though never so specious, are to be suspected,
when they come from men who have mortgaged themselves to severe
creditors, that expect a rigorous observance of the contract, let it
be never so unwarrantable. If these, or any others, should at this
time preach up anger and vengeance against the Church of England; may
it not without injustice be suspected that a thing so plainly out of
season springeth rather from corruption than mistake; and that those
who act this choleric part, do not believe themselves, but only pursue
higher directions, and endeavour to make good that part of their
contract, which obligeth them, upon a forfeiture, to make use of their
enflaming eloquence? They might apprehend their wages would be
retrenched if they should be moderate: and therefore, whilst violence
is their interest, those who have not the same arguments have no
reason to follow such a partial example.

If there should be men, who by the load of their crimes against the
Government, have been bowed down to comply with it against their
conscience; who by incurring the want of a pardon, have drawn upon
themselves a necessity of an entire resignation, such men are to be
lamented, but not to be believed. Nay, they themselves, when they have
discharged their unwelcome talk, will be inwardly glad that their
forced endeavours do not succeed, and are pleased when men resist
their insinuations; which are far from being voluntary or sincere, but
are squeezed out of them by the weight of their being so obnoxious.

If, in the height of this great dearness, by comparing things, it
should happen that at this instant there is much a surer friendship
with those who are so far from allowing liberty that they allow no
living to a Protestant under them--let the scene lie in what part of
the world it will, the argument will come home, and sure it will
afford sufficient ground to suspect. Apparent contradictions must
strike us; neither nature nor reason can digest them. Self-flattery,
and the desire to deceive ourselves, to gratify present appetite, with
all their power, which is great, cannot get the better of such broad
conviction, as some things carry along with them. Will you call these
vain and empty suspicions? Have you been at all times so void of fears
and jealousies, as to justify your being so unreasonably valiant in
having none upon this occasion? Such an extraordinary courage at this
unseasonable time, to say no more, is too dangerous a virtue to be

If then, for these and a thousand other reasons, there is cause to
suspect, sure your new friends are not to dictate to you, or advise
you. For instance: the Addresses that fly abroad every week, and
murder us with _another to the same_; the first draughts are made by
those who are not very proper to be secretaries to the Protestant
Religion: and it is your part only to write them out fairer again.

Strange! that you, who have been formerly so much against _set
forms_, should now be content the priests should indite for you. The
nature of thanks is an unavoidable consequence of being pleased or
obliged; they grow in the heart, and from thence show themselves
either in looks, speech, writing, or action. No man was ever thankful
because he was bid to be so, but because he had, or thought he had
some reason for it. If then there is cause in this case to pay such
extravagant acknowledgments, they will flow naturally, without taking
such pains to procure them; and it is unkindly done to tire all the
Post-horses with carrying circular letters, to solicit that which
would be done without any trouble or constraint. If it is really in
itself such a favour, what needeth so much pressing men to be
thankful, and with such eager circumstances, that where persuasions
cannot delude, threatenings are employed to fright them into a
compliance? Thanks must be voluntary, not only unconstrained but
unsolicited, else they are either trifles or snares, that either
signify nothing or a great deal more than is intended by those that
give them. If an inference should be made, that whosoever thanketh the
King for his Declaration, is by that engaged to justify it in point of
law; it is a greater stride than I presume all those care to make who
are persuaded to address. It shall be supposed that all the thankers
will be repealers of the Test, whenever a Parliament shall meet; such
an expectation is better prevented before than disappointed
afterwards; and the surest way to avoid the lying under such a scandal
is not to do anything that may give a colour to the mistake. These
bespoken thanks are little less improper than love-letters that were
solicited by the lady to whom they are to be directed: so that,
besides the little ground there is to give them, the manner of getting
them doth extremely lessen their value. It might be wished that you
would have suppressed your impatience, and have been content, for the
sake of religion, to enjoy it within yourselves, without the liberty
of a public exercise, till a Parliament had allowed it; but since that
could not be, and that the articles of some amongst you have made use
of the well-meant zeal of the generality to draw them into this
mistake, I am so far from blaming you with that sharpness, which
perhaps the matter in strictness would bear, that I am ready to err on
the side of the more gentle construction.

There is a great difference between enjoying quietly the advantages of
an act irregularly done by others, and the going about to support it
against the laws in being. The law is so sacred that no trespass
against it is to be defended; yet frailties may in some measure be
excused when they cannot be justified. The desire of enjoying liberty,
from which men have been so long restrained, may be a temptation that
their reason is not at all times able to resist. If in such a case
some objections are leapt over, indifferent men will be more inclined
to lament the occasion than to fall too hard upon the fault, whilst it
is covered with the apology of a good intention. But where, to rescue
yourselves from the severity of one law, you give a blow to all the
laws, by which your religion and liberty are to be protected; and
instead of silently receiving the benefit of this indulgence, you set
up for advocates to support it, you become voluntary aggressors, and
look like counsel retained by the prerogative against your old friend
Magna Charta, who hath done nothing to deserve her falling thus under
your displeasure.

If the case then should be, that the price expected from you for this
liberty is giving up your right in the laws, sure you will think twice
before you go any further in such a losing bargain. After giving
thanks for the breach of one law, you lose the right of complaining of
the breach of all the rest; you will not very well know how to defend
yourselves when you are pressed; and having given up the question when
it was for your advantage, you cannot recall it when it shall be to
your prejudice. If you will set up at one time a power to help you,
which at another time, by parity of reason, shall be made use of to
destroy you, you will neither be pitied nor relieved against a
mischief which you draw upon yourselves by being so unreasonably
thankful. It is like calling in auxiliaries to help, who are strong
enough to subdue you. In such a case your complaints will come too
late to be heard, and your sufferings will raise mirth instead of

If you think, for your excuse, to expound your thanks, so as to
restrain them to this particular case; others, for their ends, will
extend them further: and in these differing interpretations, that
which is backed by authority will be the most likely to prevail;
especially when, by the advantage you have given them, they have in
truth the better of the argument, and that the inferences from your
own concessions are very strong and express against you. This is so
far from being a groundless supposition, that there was a late
instance of it in the last session of Parliament, in the House of
Lords, where the first thanks, though things of course, were
interpreted to be the approbation of the King's whole speech, and a
restraint from the further examination of any part of it, though never
so much disliked; and it was with difficulty obtained, not to be
excluded from the liberty of objecting to this mighty prerogative of
dispensing, merely by this innocent and usual piece of good manners,
by which no such thing could possibly be intended.

This showeth that some bounds are to be put to your good breeding, and
that the Constitution of England is too valuable a thing to be
ventured upon a compliment. Now that you have for some time enjoyed
the benefit of the end, it is time for you to look into the danger of
the means. The same reason that made you desirous to get liberty must
make you solicitous to preserve it, so that the next thought will
naturally be, not to engage yourself beyond retreat; and to agree so
far with the principles of all religion, as not to rely upon a
death-bed repentance.

There are certain periods of time, which being once past, make all
cautions ineffectual, and all remedies desperate. Our understandings
are apt to be hurried on by the first heats, which, if not restrained
in time, do not give us leave to look back till it is too late.
Consider this in the case of your anger against the Church of England,
and take warning by their mistake in the same kind, when after the
late King's Restoration they preserved so long the bitter taste of
your rough usage to them in other times, that it made them forget
their interest and sacrifice it to their revenge.

Either you will blame this proceeding in them, and for that reason not
follow it; or, if you allow it, you have no reason to be offended with
them; so that you must either dismiss your anger or lose your excuse;
except you should argue more partially than will be supposed of men of
your morality and understanding.

If you had now to do with those rigid prelates who made it a matter of
conscience to give you the least indulgence, but kept you at an
uncharitable distance, and even to your most reasonable scruples
continued stiff and inexorable, the argument might be fairer on your
side; but since the common danger has so laid open that mistake, that
all the former haughtiness towards you is for ever extinguished, and
that it hath turned the spirit of persecution into a spirit of peace,
charity, and condescension; shall this happy change only affect the
Church of England? And are you so in love with separation as not to be
moved by this example? It ought to be followed, were there no other
reason than that it is virtue; but when, besides that, it is become
necessary to your preservation, it is impossible to fail the having
its effect upon you.

If it should be said that the Church of England is never humble but
when she is out of power, and therefore loseth the right of being
believed when she pretendeth to it: the answer is, _first_, It would
be an uncharitable objection, and very much mistimed; an unseasonable
triumph, not only ungenerous but unsafe: so that in these respects it
cannot be urged without scandal, even though it could be said with
truth. _Secondly_, This is not so in fact, and the argument must fall,
being built upon a false foundation; for whatever may be told you at
this very hour, and in the heat and glare of your perfect sunshine,
the Church of England can in a moment bring clouds again, and turn
the royal thunder upon your heads, blow you off the stage with a
breath, if she would give but a smile or a kind word; the least
glimpse of her compliance would throw you back into the state of
suffering, and draw upon you all the arrears of severity which have
accrued during the time of this kindness to you; and yet the Church of
England, with all her faults, will not allow herself to be rescued by
such unjustifiable means, but chooseth to bear the weight of power
rather than lie under the burden of being criminal.

It cannot be said that she is unprovoked: books and letters come out
every day to call for answers, yet she will not be stirred. From the
supposed authors and the style, one would swear they were undertakers,
and had made a contract to fall out with the Church of England. There
are lashes in every address, challenges to draw the pen in every
pamphlet. In short, the fairest occasions in the world given to
quarrel; but she wisely distinguisheth between the body of Dissenters,
whom she will suppose to act, as they do, with no ill intent, and
these small skirmishers, picked and sent out to piqueer, and to begin
a fray amongst the Protestants for the entertainment as well as the
advantage of the Church of Rome.

This conduct is so good, that it will be scandalous not to applaud it.
It is not equal dealing to blame our adversaries for doing ill, and
not commend them when they do well.

To hate them because they are persecuted, and not to be reconciled to
them when they are ready to suffer rather than receive all the
advantages that can be gained by a criminal compliance, is a principle
no sort of Christians can own, since it would give an objection to
them never to be answered.

Think a little who they were that promoted your former persecutions,
and then consider how it will look to be angry with the instruments,
and at the same time to make a league with the authors of your

Have you enough considered what will be expected from you? Are you
ready to stand in every borough by virtue of a _congé d'élire_, and
instead of election be satisfied if you are returned?

Will you, in parliament, justify the dispensing power, with all its
consequences, and repeal the test, by which you will make way for the
repeal of all the laws that were made to preserve your religion, and
to enact others that shall destroy it?

Are you disposed to change the liberty of debate into the merit of
obedience; and to be made instruments to repeal or enact laws, when
the Roman Consistory are Lords of the Articles?

Are you so linked to your new friends as to reject any indulgence a
parliament shall offer you, if it shall not be so comprehensive as to
include the Papists in it?

Consider that the implied conditions of your new treaty are no less
than that you are to do everything you are desired, without examining;
and that for this pretended liberty of conscience, your real freedom
is to be sacrificed; your former faults hang like chains still about
you, you are let loose only upon bail; the first act of non-compliance
sendeth you to gaol again.

You may see that the Papists themselves do not rely upon the legality
of this power which you are to justify, since the being so very
earnest to get it established by a law, and the doing such very hard
things in order, as they think, to obtain it, is a clear evidence that
they do not think that the single power of the Crown is in this case a
good foundation; especially when this is done under a prince so very
tender of the rights of sovereignty that he would think it a
diminution to his prerogative, where he conceiveth it strong enough to
go alone, to call in the legislative help to strengthen and support

You have formerly blamed the Church of England, and not without
reason, for going so far as they did in their compliance; and yet so
soon as they stopped, you see they are not only deserted, but
prosecuted. Conclude, then, from this example, that you must either
break off your friendship or resolve to have no bounds in it. If they
do succeed in their design, they will leave you first: if they do, you
must either leave them, when it will be too late for your safety, or
else, after the squeaziness of starting at a surplice, you must be
forced to swallow Transubstantiation.

Remember that the other day those of the Church of England were
Trimmers for enduring you; and now, by a sudden turn, you are become
the favourites. Do not deceive yourselves; it is not the nature of
lasting plants thus to shoot up in a night; you may look gay and green
for a little time, but you want a root to give you a continuance. It
is not so long since, as to be forgotten, that the maxim was, It is
impossible for a Dissenter not to be a REBEL. Consider at this time in
France, even the new converts are so far from being employed that they
are disarmed; their sudden change maketh them still to be distrusted,
notwithstanding that they are reconciled; what are you to expect then
from your dear friends, to whom, whenever they shall think fit to
throw you off again, you have in other times given such arguments for
their excuse?

Besides all this you act very unskilfully against your visible
interest, if you throw away the advantages of which you can hardly
fail in the next probable Revolution. Things tend naturally to what
you would have, if you would let them alone, and not by an
unseasonable activity lose the influences of your good star, which
promiseth you everything that is prosperous.

The Church of England, convinced of its error in being severe to you;
the Parliament, whenever it meeteth sure to be gentle to you; the next
heir, bred in the country which you have so often quoted for a pattern
of indulgence; a general agreement of all thinking men, that we must
no more cut ourselves off from the Protestants abroad, but rather
enlarge the foundations upon which we are to build our defences
against the common enemy; so that in truth, all things seem to
conspire to give you ease and satisfaction, if by too much haste to
anticipate your good fortune you do not destroy it.

The Protestants have but one article of human strength to oppose the
power which is now against them, and that is not to lose the advantage
of their numbers by being so unwary as to let themselves be divided.

We all agree in our duty to our prince; our objections to his belief
do not hinder us from seeing his virtues; and our not complying with
his religion hath no effect upon our allegiance. We are not to be
laughed out of our passive obedience, and the doctrine of
non-resistance, though even those who perhaps owe the best part of
their security to that principle are apt to make a jest of it.

So that if we give no advantage by the fatal mistake of misapplying
our anger, by the natural course of things this danger will pass away
like a shower of hail; fair weather will succeed, as lowering as the
sky now looketh, and all this by a plain and easy receipt. Let us be
still, quiet, and undivided, firm at the same time to our religion,
our loyalty, and our laws; and so long as we continue this method it
is next to impossible that the odds of two hundred to one should lose
the bet; except the Church of Rome, which hath been so long barren of
miracles, should now, in her declining age, be brought to bed of one
that would outdo the best she can brag of in her legend.

To conclude, the short question will be, Whether you will join with
those who must in the end run the same fate with you? If Protestants
of all sorts, in their behaviour to one another, have been to blame,
they are upon more equal terms, and, for that very reason, it is
fitter for them now to be reconciled. Our disunion is not only a
reproach, but a danger to us. Those who believe in modern miracles
have more right, or at least more excuse, to neglect all secular
caution; but for us, it is as justifiable to have no religion as
wilfully to throw away the human means of preserving it.--I am, Dear
Sir, your most affectionate humble Servant, T.W.



(_Defoe wrote an enormous number of pamphlets; for great part of his
life he might almost have been described as a pamphleteer pure and
simple. In the vast lists of publications which his biographers and
bibliographers have compiled, partly by industry and partly by
imagination, by far the larger number of entries is of the pamphlet
kind. Indeed, as most people know, Defoe did not take to the
composition of the fiction which has made his name famous till very
late in life. Born in the year 1661, he began pamphleteering when he
was scarcely of age, and continued in that way (with occasional
excursions into work larger in scale, but not very different in style
or matter) for nearly forty years before the publication of _Robinson
Crusoe_. His two most famous and most effective pamphlets were the
so-called _Legion Letter_ and _The Shortest Way with the Dissenters_
(given here), to which may perhaps be added the _Reasons against War
with France_. All these, with many others, appeared within the
compass of the years 1700-1702. The three together touched upon the
three most burning questions of the late seventeenth and early
eighteenth centuries--parliamentary factiousness, an aggressive policy
abroad, and toleration at home. Little or no annotation is required
for their comprehension, but the reader may amuse himself if he likes
by meditating whether the _Shortest Way_ is irony or not. My own
opinion is that it is not; being a simple statement of the actual
views of the other side. The anecdotic history of the piece--how it
was taken for serious by both sides, was prosecuted by Government, the
author proclaimed, and a reward offered for his detection; how, the
printer and publisher being arrested, Defoe surrendered, was tried,
pleaded guilty, was fined, pilloried, and imprisoned--may be read in
the biographies. His imprisonment lasted till August 1704, when Harley
let him out, and he entered upon a course of rather mysterious service
as a Government free-lance, which was continued under various
ministries, and has not on the whole brought him credit with
posterity. For many years, his remarkable _Review_, a political
journal which he conducted single-handed, served as his chief organ;
but he never gave up writing pamphlets till his death in 1731, though
he never approached either the merit or the effect of that here

Sir Roger L'Estrange tells us a story in his collection of fables, of
the cock and the horses. The cock was gotten to roost in the stable
among the horses, and there being no racks or other conveniences for
him, it seems he was forced to roost upon the ground. The horses
jostling about for room, and putting the cock in danger of his life,
he gives them this grave advice, 'Pray, gentlefolks, let us stand
still, for fear we should tread upon one another.'

There are some people in the world, who now they are unperched, and
reduced to an equality with other people, and under strong and very
just apprehensions of being further treated as they deserve, begin,
with Æsop's cock, to preach up peace and union, and the Christian
duties of moderation, forgetting that, when they had the power in
their hands, these graces were strangers in their gates.

It is now near fourteen years that the glory and peace of the purest
and most flourishing Church in the world has been eclipsed, buffeted,
and disturbed by a sort of men whom God in His providence has suffered
to insult over her and bring her down. These have been the days of her
humiliation and tribulation. She has borne with invincible patience
the reproach of the wicked, and God has at last heard her prayers, and
delivered her from the oppression of the stranger.

And now they find their day is over, their power gone, and the throne
of this nation possessed by a royal, English, true, and ever-constant
member of, and friend to, the Church of England. Now they find that
they are in danger of the Church of England's just resentments; now
they cry out peace, union, forbearance, and charity, as if the Church
had not too long harboured her enemies under her wing, and nourished
the viperous brood till they hiss and fly in the face of the mother
that cherished them.

No, gentlemen, the time of mercy is past, your day of grace is over;
you should have practised peace, and moderation, and charity, if you
expected any yourselves.

We have heard none of this lesson for fourteen years past. We have
been huffed and bullied with your Act of Toleration; you have told us
that you are the Church established by law, as well as others; have
set up your canting synagogues at our church doors, and the Church and
members have been loaded with reproaches, with oaths, associations,
abjurations, and what not. Where has been the mercy, the forbearance,
the charity, you have shown to tender consciences of the Church of
England, that could not take oaths as fast as you made them; that
having sworn allegiance to their lawful and rightful King, could not
dispense with that oath, their King being still alive, and swear to
your new hodge-podge of a Dutch Government? These have been turned out
of their livings, and they and their families left to starve; their
estates double taxed to carry on a war they had no hand in, and you
got nothing by. What account can you give of the multitudes you have
forced to comply, against their consciences, with your new sophistical
politics, who, like new converts in France, sin because they cannot
starve? And now the tables are turned upon you; you must not be
persecuted; it is not a Christian spirit.

You have butchered one king, deposed another king, and made a mock
king of a third, and yet you could have the face to expect to be
employed and trusted by the fourth. Anybody that did not know the
temper of your party would stand amazed at the impudence, as well as
folly, to think of it.

Your management of your Dutch monarch, whom you reduced to a mere King
of Clouts, is enough to give any future princes such an idea of your
principles as to warn them sufficiently from coming into your
clutches; and God be thanked the Queen is out of your hands, knows
you, and will have a care of you.

There is no doubt but the supreme authority of a nation has in itself
a power, and a right to that power, to execute the laws upon any part
of that nation it governs. The execution of the known laws of the
land, and that with a weak and gentle hand neither, was all this
fanatical party of this land have ever called persecution; this they
have magnified to a height, that the sufferings of the Huguenots in
France were not to be compared with. Now, to execute the known laws
of a nation upon those who transgress them, after voluntarily
consenting to the making those laws, can never be called persecution,
but justice. But justice is always violence to the party offending,
for every man is innocent in his own eyes. The first execution of the
laws against Dissenters in England was in the days of King James the
First; and what did it amount to truly? The worst they suffered was at
their own request: to let them go to New England and erect a new
colony, and give them great privileges, grants, and suitable powers,
keep them under protection, and defend them against all invaders, and
receive no taxes or revenue from them. This was the cruelty of the
Church of England. Fatal leniency! It was the ruin of that excellent
prince, King Charles the First. Had King James sent all the Puritans
in England away to the West Indies, we had been a national, unmixed
Church; the Church of England had been kept undivided and entire.

To requite the lenity of the father they take up arms against the son;
conquer, pursue, take, imprison, and at last put to death the anointed
of God, and destroy the very being and nature of government, setting
up a sordid impostor, who had neither title to govern nor
understanding to manage, but supplied that want with power, bloody and
desperate counsels, and craft without conscience.

Had not King James the First withheld the full execution of the laws,
had he given them strict justice, he had cleared the nation of them,
and the consequences had been plain: his son had never been murdered
by them nor the monarchy overwhelmed. It was too much mercy shown them
was the ruin of his posterity and the ruin of the nation's peace. One
would think the Dissenters should not have the face to believe that we
are to be wheedled and canted into peace and toleration when they know
that they have once requited us with a civil war, and once with an
intolerable and unrighteous persecution for our former civility.

Nay, to encourage us to be easy with them, it is apparent that they
never had the upper hand of the Church, but they treated her with all
the severity, with all the reproach and contempt that was possible.
What peace and what mercy did they show the loyal gentry of the Church
of England in the time of their triumphant Commonwealth? How did they
put all the gentry of England to ransom, whether they were actually in
arms for the King or not, making people compound for their estates and
starve their families? How did they treat the clergy of the Church of
England, sequestered the ministers, devoured the patrimony of the
Church, and divided the spoil by sharing the Church lands among their
soldiers, and turning her clergy out to starve? Just such measure as
they have meted should be measured them again.

Charity and love is the known doctrine of the Church of England, and
it is plain she has put it in practice towards the Dissenters, even
beyond what they ought, till she has been wanting to herself, and in
effect unkind to her sons, particularly in the too much lenity of King
James the First, mentioned before. Had he so rooted the Puritans from
the face of the land, which he had an opportunity early to have done,
they had not had the power to vex the Church as since they have done.

In the days of King Charles the Second how did the Church reward their
bloody doings with lenity and mercy, except the barbarous regicides of
the pretended court of justice? Not a soul suffered for all the blood
in an unnatural war. King Charles came in all mercy and love,
cherished them, preferred them, employed them, withheld the rigour of
the law, and oftentimes, even against the advice of his Parliament,
gave them liberty of conscience; and how did they requite him with the
villanous contrivance to depose and murder him and his successor at
the Rye Plot?

King James, as if mercy was the inherent quality of the family, began
his reign with unusual favour to them. Nor could their joining with
the Duke of Monmouth against him move him to do himself justice upon
them; but that mistaken prince thought to win them by gentleness and
love, proclaimed an universal liberty to them, and rather
discountenanced the Church of England than them. How they requited him
all the world knows.

The late reign is too fresh in the memory of all the world to need a
comment; how, under pretence of joining with the Church in redressing
some grievances, they pushed things to that extremity, in conjunction
with some mistaken gentlemen, as to depose the late King, as if the
grievance of the nation could not have been redressed but by the
absolute ruin of the prince. Here is an instance of their temper,
their peace, and charity. To what height they carried themselves
during the reign of a king of their own; how they crept into all
places of trust and profit; how they insinuated into the favour of the
King, and were at first preferred to the highest places in the nation;
how they engrossed the ministry, and above all, how pitifully they
managed, is too plain to need any remarks.

But particularly their mercy and charity, the spirit of union, they
tell us so much of, has been remarkable in Scotland. If any man would
see the spirit of a Dissenter, let him look into Scotland. There they
made entire conquest of the Church, trampled down the sacred orders,
and suppressed the Episcopal government with an absolute, and, as they
suppose, irretrievable victory, though it is possible they may find
themselves mistaken. Now it would be a very proper question to ask
their impudent advocate, the Observator, pray how much mercy and
favour did the members of the Episcopal Church find in Scotland from
the Scotch Presbyterian Government? and I shall undertake for the
Church of England that the Dissenters shall still receive as much
here, though they deserve but little.

In a small treatise of the sufferings of the Episcopal clergy in
Scotland, it will appear what usage they met with; how they not only
lost their livings, but in several places were plundered and abused in
their persons; the ministers that could not conform turned out with
numerous families and no maintenance, and hardly charity enough left
to relieve them with a bit of bread. And the cruelties of the parties
are innumerable, and not to be attempted in this short piece.

And now to prevent the distant cloud which they perceived to hang over
their heads from England, with a true Presbyterian policy they put in
for a union of nations, that England might unite their Church with the
Kirk of Scotland, and their Presbyterian members sit in our House of
Commons, and their Assembly of Scotch canting long-cloaks in our
Convocation. What might have been if our fanatic Whiggish statesmen
continued, God only knows; but we hope we are out of fear of that now.

It is alleged by some of the faction--and they began to bully us with
it--that if we won't unite with them they will not settle the crown
with us again, but when Her Majesty dies, will choose a king for

If they won't, we must make them, and it is not the first time we have
let them know that we are able. The crowns of these kingdoms have not
so far disowned the right of succession but they may retrieve it
again; and if Scotland thinks to come off from a successive to an
elective state of government, England has not promised not to assist
the right heir and put them into possession without any regard to
their ridiculous settlements.

These are the gentlemen, these their ways of treating the Church, both
at home and abroad. Now let us examine the reasons they pretend to
give why we should be favourable to them, why we should continue and
tolerate them among us.

First, they are very numerous, they say; they are a great part of the
nation, and we cannot suppress them.

To this may be answered:--

1. They are not so numerous as the Protestants in France, and yet the
French King effectually cleared the nation of them at once, and we
don't find he misses them at home. But I am not of the opinion they
are so numerous as is pretended; their party is more numerous than
their persons, and those mistaken people of the Church who are misled
and deluded by their wheedling artifices to join with them, make
their party the greater; but these will open their eyes when the
Government shall set heartily about the work, and come off from them,
as some animals, which they say always desert a house when it is
likely to fall.

2. The more numerous the more dangerous, and therefore the more need
to suppress them; and God has suffered us to bear them as goads in our
sides for not utterly extinguishing them long ago.

3. If we are to allow them only because we cannot suppress them, then
it ought to be tried whether we can or not; and I am of opinion it is
easy to be done, and could prescribe ways and means, if it were
proper; but I doubt not the Government will find effectual methods for
the rooting the contagion from the face of this land.

Another argument they use, which is this, that it is a time of war,
and we have need to unite against the common enemy.

We answer, this common enemy had been no enemy if they had not made
him so. He was quiet, in peace, and no way disturbed or encroached
upon us, and we know no reason we had to quarrel with him.

But further, we make no question but we are able to deal with this
common enemy without their help; but why must we unite with them
because of the enemy? Will they go over to the enemy if we do not
prevent it by a union with them? We are very well contented they
should, and make no question we shall be ready to deal with them and
the common enemy too, and better without them than with them.

Besides, if we have a common enemy, there is the more need to be
secure against our private enemies. If there is one common enemy, we
have the less need to have an enemy in our bowels.

It was a great argument some people used against suppressing the old
money, that it was a time of war, and it was too great a risk for the
nation to run; if we should not master it, we should be undone. And
yet the sequel proved the hazard was not so great but it might be
mastered, and the success was answerable. The suppressing the
Dissenters is not a harder work nor a work of less necessity to the
public. We can never enjoy a settled, uninterrupted union and
tranquillity in this nation till the spirit of Whiggism, faction, and
schism is melted down like the old money.

To talk of the difficulty is to frighten ourselves with chimeras and
notions of a powerful party, which are indeed a party without power.
Difficulties often appear greater at a distance than when they are
searched into with judgment and distinguished from the vapours and
shadows that attend them.

We are not to be frightened with it; this age is wiser than that by
all our own experience and theirs too. King Charles the First had
early suppressed this party if he had taken more deliberate measures.
In short, it is not worth arguing to talk of their arms. Their
Monmouths, and Shaftesburys, and Argyles are gone; their Dutch
sanctuary is at an end; Heaven has made way for their destruction, and
if we do not close with the Divine occasion we are to blame ourselves,
and may remember that we had once an opportunity to serve the Church
of England by extirpating her implacable enemies, and having let slip
the minute that Heaven presented, may experimentally complain, _Post
est occasio calva_.

Here are some popular objections in the way:--

As first, the Queen has promised them to continue them in their
tolerated liberty, and has told us she will be a religious observer of
her word.

What Her Majesty will do we cannot help; but what, as head of the
Church, she ought to do, is another case. Her Majesty has promised to
protect and defend the Church of England, and if she cannot
effectually do that without the destruction of the Dissenters, she
must of course dispense with one promise to comply with another. But
to answer this cavil more effectually: Her Majesty did never promise
to maintain the toleration to the destruction of the Church; but it is
upon supposition that it may be compatible with the well-being and
safety of the Church, which she had declared she would take especial
care of. Now if these two interests clash, it is plain Her Majesty's
intentions are to uphold, protect, defend, and establish the Church,
and this we conceive is impossible.

Perhaps it may be said that the Church is in no immediate danger from
the Dissenters, and therefore it is time enough. But this is a weak

For first, if a danger be real, the distance of it is no argument
against, but rather a spur to quicken us to prevention, lest it be too
late hereafter.

And secondly, here is the opportunity, and the only one perhaps that
ever the Church had, to secure herself and destroy her enemies.

The representatives of the nation have now an opportunity; the time is
come which all good men have wished for, that the gentlemen of England
may serve the Church of England. Now they are protected and encouraged
by a Church of England Queen.

What will you do for your sister in the day that she shall be spoken

If ever you will establish the best Christian Church in the world; if
ever you will suppress the spirit of enthusiasm; if ever you will free
the nation from the viperous brood that have so long sucked the blood
of their mother; if ever you will leave your posterity free from
faction and rebellion, this is the time. This is the time to pull up
this heretical weed of sedition that has so long disturbed the peace
of our Church and poisoned the good corn.

But, says another hot and cold objector, this is renewing fire and
faggot, reviving the act _De Heretico Comburendo_; this will be
cruelty in its nature, and barbarous to all the world.

I answer, it is cruelty to kill a snake or a toad in cold blood, but
the poison of their nature makes it a charity to our neighbours to
destroy those creatures, not for any personal injury received, but for
prevention; not for the evil they have done, but the evil they may do.

Serpents, toads, vipers, etc., are noxious to the body, and poison the
sensitive life; these poison the soul, corrupt our posterity, ensnare
our children, destroy the vitals of our happiness, our future
felicity, and contaminate the whole mass.

Shall any law be given to such wild creatures? Some beasts are for
sport, and the huntsmen give them advantages of ground; but some are
knocked on the head by all possible ways of violence and surprise.

I do not prescribe fire and faggot, but, as Scipio said of Carthage,
_Delenda est Carthago_. They are to be rooted out of this nation, if
ever we will live in peace, serve God, or enjoy our own. As for the
manner, I leave it to those hands who have a right to execute God's
justice on the nation's and the Church's enemies.

But if we must be frighted from this justice under the specious
pretences and odious sense of cruelty, nothing will be effected: it
will be more barbarous to our own children and dear posterity when
they shall reproach their fathers, as we do ours, and tell us, 'You
had an opportunity to root out this cursed race from the world under
the favour and protection of a true English queen; and out of your
foolish pity you spared them, because, forsooth, you would not be
cruel; and now our Church is suppressed and persecuted, our religion
trampled under foot, our estates plundered, our persons imprisoned and
dragged to jails, gibbets, and scaffolds: your sparing this Amalekite
race is our destruction, your mercy to them proves cruelty to your
poor posterity.'

How just will such reflections be when our posterity shall fall under
the merciless clutches of this uncharitable generation, when our
Church shall be swallowed up in schism, faction, enthusiasm, and
confusion; when our Government shall be devolved upon foreigners, and
our monarchy dwindled into a republic.

It would be more rational for us, if we must spare this generation, to
summon our own to a general massacre, and as we have brought them into
the world free, send them out so, and not betray them to destruction
by our supine negligence, and then cry, 'It is mercy.'

Moses was a merciful, meek man, and yet with what fury did he run
through the camp, and cut the throats of three and thirty thousand of
his dear Israelites that were fallen into idolatry. What was the
reason? It was mercy to the rest to make these examples, to prevent
the destruction of the whole army.

How many millions of future souls we save from infection and delusion
if the present race of poisoned spirits were purged from the face of
the land!

It is vain to trifle in this matter, the light, foolish handling of
them by mulcts, fines, etc.,--it is their glory and their advantage.
If the gallows instead of the Counter, and the galleys instead of the
fines, were the reward of going to a conventicle, to preach or hear,
there would not be so many sufferers. The spirit of martyrdom is over;
they that will go to church to be chosen sheriffs and mayors would go
to forty churches rather than be hanged.

If one severe law were made and punctually executed, that whoever was
found at a conventicle should be banished the nation and the preacher
be hanged, we should soon see an end of the tale. They would all come
to church, and one age would make us all one again.

To talk of five shillings a month for not coming to the sacrament, and
one shilling per week for not coming to church, this is such a way of
converting people as never was known; this is selling them a liberty
to transgress for so much money. If it be not a crime, why don't we
give them full license? And if it be, no price ought to compound for
the committing it, for that is selling a liberty to people to sin
against God and the Government.

If it be a crime of the highest consequence both against the peace and
welfare of the nation, the glory of God, the good of the Church, and
the happiness of the soul, let us rank it among capital offences, and
let it receive a punishment in proportion to it.

We hang men for trifles, and banish them for things not worth naming;
but an offence against God and the Church, against the welfare of the
world and the dignity of religion, shall be bought off for five
shillings! This is such a shame to a Christian Government that it is
with regret I transmit it to posterity.

If men sin against God, affront His ordinances, rebel against His
Church, and disobey the precepts of their superiors, let them suffer
as such capital crimes deserve. So will religion flourish, and this
divided nation be once again united.

And yet the title of barbarous and cruel will soon be taken off from
this law too. I am not supposing that all the Dissenters in England
should be hanged or banished, but, as in cases of rebellions and
insurrections, if a few of the ringleaders suffer, the multitude are
dismissed; so, a few obstinate people being made examples, there is no
doubt but the severity of the law would find a stop in the compliance
of the multitude.

To make the reasonableness of this matter out of question, and more
unanswerably plain, let us examine for what it is that this nation is
divided into parties and factions, and let us see how they can justify
a separation, or we of the Church of England can justify our bearing
the insults and inconveniences of the party.

One of their leading pastors, and a man of as much learning as most
among them, in his answer to a pamphlet, entitled 'An Inquiry into the
Occasional Conformity,' has these words, p. 27, 'Do the religion of
the Church and the meeting-houses make two religions? Wherein do they
differ? The substance of the same religion is common to them both; and
the modes and accidents are the things in which only they differ.' P.
28: 'Thirty-nine articles are given us for the summary of our
religion; thirty-six contain the substance of it, wherein we agree;
three the additional appendices, about which we have some

Now, if, as by their own acknowledgment, the Church of England is a
true Church, and the difference between them is only in a few modes
and accidents, why should we expect that they will suffer galleys,
corporeal punishment, and banishment for these trifles? There is no
question but they will be wiser; even their own principles will not
bear them out in it; they will certainly comply with the laws and with
reason; and though at the first severity they may seem hard, the next
age will feel nothing of it; the contagion will be rooted out; the
disease being cured, there will be no need of the operation; but if
they should venture to transgress and fall into the pit, all the world
must condemn their obstinacy, as being without ground from their own

Thus the pretence of cruelty will be taken off, and the party actually
suppressed, and the disquiets they have so often brought upon the
nation prevented.

Their numbers and their wealth make them haughty, and that is so far
from being an argument to persuade us to forbear them, that it is a
warning to us, without any delay, to reconcile them to the unity of
the Church or remove them from us.

At present, Heaven be praised, they are not so formidable as they have
been, and it is our own fault if ever we suffer them to be so.
Providence and the Church of England seem to join in this particular,
that now the destroyers of the nation's peace may be overturned, and
to this end the present opportunity seems to be put into our hands.

To this end her present Majesty seems reserved to enjoy the crown,
that the ecclesiastic as well as civil rights of the nation may be
restored by her hand. To this end the face of affairs have received
such a turn in the process of a few months as never has been before;
the leading men of the nation, the universal cry of the people, the
unanimous request of the clergy, agree in this, that the deliverance
of our Church is at hand. For this end has Providence given us such a
Parliament, such a Convocation, such a gentry, and such a Queen as we
never had before. And what may be the consequences of a neglect of
such opportunities? The succession of the crown has but a dark
prospect; another Dutch turn may make the hopes of it ridiculous and
the practice impossible. Be the house of our future princes never so
well inclined, they will be foreigners, and many years will be spent
in suiting the genius of strangers to this crown and the interests of
the nation; and how many ages it may be before the English throne be
filled with so much zeal and candour, so much tenderness and hearty
affection to the Church as we see it now covered with, who can

It is high time, then, for the friends of the Church of England to
think of building up and establishing her in such a manner that she
may be no more invaded by foreigners nor divided by factions, schisms,
and error.

If this could be done by gentle and easy methods, I should be glad;
but the wound is corroded, the vitals begin to mortify, and nothing
but amputation of members can complete the cure; all the ways of
tenderness and compassion, all persuasive arguments, have been made
use of in vain.

The humour of the Dissenters has so increased among the people that
they hold the Church in defiance, and the house of God is an
abomination among them; nay, they have brought up their posterity in
such prepossessed aversions to our holy religion that the ignorant mob
think we are all idolaters and worshippers of Baal, and account it a
sin to come within the walls of our churches.

The primitive Christians were not more shy of a heathen temple or of
meat offered to idols, nor the Jews of swine's flesh, than some of our
Dissenters are of the Church, and the divine service selemnised

This obstinacy must be rooted out with the profession of it; while the
generation are less at liberty daily to affront God Almighty and
dishonour His holy worship, we are wanting in our duty to God and our
mother, the Church of England.

How can we answer it to God, to the Church, and to our posterity, to
leave them entangled with fanaticism, error, and obstinacy in the
bowels of the nation; to leave them an enemy in their streets, that in
time may involve them in the same crimes, and endanger the utter
extirpation of religion in the nation?

What is the difference betwixt this and being subjected to the power
of the Church of Rome, from whence we have reformed? If one be an
extreme on one hand, and one on another, it is equally destructive to
the truth to have errors settled among us, let them be of what nature
they will.

Both are enemies of our Church and of our peace; and why should it not
be as criminal to admit an enthusiast as a Jesuit? Why should the
Papist with his seven sacraments be worse than the Quaker with no
sacraments at all? Why should religious houses be more intolerable
than meeting-houses? Alas, the Church of England! What with Popery on
one hand, and schismatics on the other, how has she been crucified
between two thieves!

Now let us crucify the thieves. Let her foundations be established
upon the destruction of her enemies. The doors of mercy being always
open to the returning part of the deluded people, let the obstinate be
ruled with the rod of iron.

Let all true sons of so holy and oppressed a mother, exasperated by
her afflictions, harden their hearts against those who have oppressed

And may God Almighty put it into the hearts of all the friends of
truth to lift up a standard against pride and Antichrist, that the
posterity of the sons of error may be rooted out from the face of this
land for ever.


(NOS. I AND 2)


(_The two pamphlets entitled _The Conduct of the Allies_ and _The
Public Spirit of the Whigs_--which are sometimes considered the
capital examples of the political efforts of Swift's magnificent
genius--were the very Jachin and Boaz of the Tory administration in
the last years of Anne, and the effect of them has been admitted by
such a violent Whig and such a good critic as Jeffrey. They seemed,
however, not wholly suitable for insertion here; first, because of
their length (for one would have occupied nearly a third, the other
nearly a fourth of this volume), and secondly, because the greater
part of each does really, to some extent, underlie the charge brought
against political pamphlets generally, and, being occupied with a
great number of personal and particular matters, requires either much
intimacy with the period or elaborate and probably tedious comparison
and elucidation, to make it intelligible. No such drawback attaches
to the almost more famous _Drapier's Letters_, of which I give the
first and second. They were written at the very zenith of their
author's marvellous powers, and at the time when his _sæva indignatio_
was heated seven times hotter than usual by the conviction that his
last hope of English promotion was gone. Their circumstances are
simple and well known. Wood had received a patent to coin copper money
for Ireland to the amount of £108,000. Most commentators seem to think
that he would have done this honestly enough; to me the simple fact
that on the revocation of his patent a pension of £3000 a year was
given to him in compensation is proof enough of the contrary. It is
impossible to imagine any honest profit on a transaction of such a
nature to such an amount which could rise to the capital value of such
a pension. That Swift was instigated to take up his pen against the
transaction by private griefs against the Ministry is extremely
probable; that the thing was not a job less so. As before, I must
refer to biographers for the details of the matter; the text is what
interests us here. I shall only remind the reader that Swift was
fifty-seven when the 'Drapier' wrote, that _Gulliver_ appeared about
three years later, and that Swift himself expired--lunatic and
miserable beyond utterance--on the 19th October 1745, twenty-one years
after all Dublin and half England had rung with the boldness and the
triumph of the 'Drapier.'_)



Brethren, Friends, Countrymen, and Fellow Subjects--What I intend now
to say to you, is, next to your duty to God, and the care of your
salvation, of the greatest concern to yourselves, and your children;
your bread and clothing, and every common necessary of life entirely
depend upon it. Therefore I do most earnestly exhort you as men, as
Christians, as parents, and as lovers of your country, to read this
paper with the utmost attention, or get it read to you by others;
which that you may do at the less expence, I have ordered the printer
to sell it at the lowest rate.

It is a great fault among you, that when a person writes with no other
intention than to do you good you will not be at the pains to read his
advices: one copy of this paper may serve a dozen of you, which will
be less than a farthing a-piece. It is your folly that you have no
common or general interest in your view, not even the wisest among
you, neither do you know or enquire, or care who are your friends or
who are your enemies.

About four years ago, a little book was written, to advise all people
to wear the manufactures of this our own dear country: it had no other
design, said nothing against the king or Parliament, or any man, yet
the poor printer was prosecuted two years, with the utmost violence,
and even some weavers themselves, for whose sake it was written, being
upon the jury, found him guilty. This would be enough to discourage
any man from endeavouring to do you good, when you will either neglect
him or fly in his face for his pains, and when he must expect only
danger to himself and loss of money, perhaps to his ruin.

However, I cannot but warn you once more of the manifest destruction
before your eyes, if you do not behave yourselves as you ought.

I will therefore first tell you the plain story of the fact; and then
I will lay before you how you ought to act in common prudence, and
according to the laws of your country.

The fact is thus, It having been many years since copper half-pence or
farthings were last coined in this kingdom, they have been for some
time very scarce, and many counterfeits passed about under the name of
raps. Several applications were made to England, that we might have
liberty to coin new ones, as in former times we did; but they did not
succeed. At last one Mr. Wood a mean ordinary man, a hard-ware dealer,
procured a patent under his Majesty's Broad Seal to coin fourscore and
ten thousand pounds in copper for this kingdom, which patent however
did not oblige any one here to take them, unless they pleased. Now you
must know, that the half-pence and farthings in England pass for very
little more than they are worth. And if you should beat them to
pieces, and sell them to the brazier, you would not lose above a penny
in a shilling. But Mr. Wood made his half-pence of such base metal,
and so much smaller than the English ones, that the brazier would not
give you above a penny of good money for a shilling of his; so that
this sum of fourscore and ten thousand pounds in good gold and silver,
must be given for trash that will not be worth above eight or nine
thousand pounds real value. But this is not the worst, for Mr. Wood,
when he pleases, may by stealth send over another and another
fourscore and ten thousand pounds, and buy all our goods for eleven
parts in twelve, under the value. For example, if a hatter sells a
dozen of hats for five shillings a-piece, which amounts to three
pounds, and receives the payment in Mr. Wood's coin, he really
receives only the value of five shillings.

Perhaps you will wonder how such an ordinary fellow as this Mr. Wood
could have so much interest as to get his Majesty's Broad Seal for so
great a sum of bad money to be sent to this poor country, and that
all the nobility and gentry here could not obtain the same favour, and
let us make our own half-pence, as we used to do. Now I will make that
matter very plain. We are at a great distance from the king's court,
and have nobody there to solicit for us, although a great number of
lords and squires, whose estates are here, and are our countrymen,
spend all their lives and fortunes there. But this same Mr. Wood was
able to attend constantly for his own interest; he is an Englishman
and had great friends, and it seems knew very well where to give money
to those that would speak to others that could speak to the king and
could tell a fair story. And his majesty, and perhaps the great lord
or lords who advised him, might think it was for our country's good;
and so, as the lawyers express it, the king was deceived in his grant,
which often happens in all reigns. And I am sure if his majesty knew
that such a patent, if it should take effect according to the desire
of Mr. Wood, would utterly ruin this kingdom, which hath given such
great proofs of its loyalty, he would immediately recall it, and
perhaps show his displeasure to somebody or other: but a word to the
wise is enough. Most of you must have heard, with what anger our
honourable House of Commons receiv'd an account of this Wood's patent.
There were several fine speeches made upon it, and plain proofs that
it was all a wicked cheat from the bottom to the top, and several
smart votes were printed, which that same Wood had the assurance to
answer likewise in print, and in so confident a way, as if he were a
better man than our whole Parliament put together.

This Wood, as soon as his patent was passed, or soon after, sends over
a great many barrels of those half-pence, to Cork and other seaport
towns, and to get them off, offered an hundred pounds in his coin for
seventy or eighty in silver: but the collectors of the king's customs
very honestly refused to take them, and so did almost everybody else.
And since the Parliament hath condemned them, and desired the king
that they might be stopped, all the kingdom do abominate them.

But Wood is still working under hand to force his half-pence upon us,
and if he can by help of his friends in England prevail so far as to
get an order that the commissioners and collectors of the king's money
shall receive them, and that the army is to be paid with them, then he
thinks his work shall be done. And this is the difficulty you will be
under in such a case: for the common soldier when he goes to the
market or ale-house will offer this money, and if it be refused,
perhaps he will swagger and hector, and threaten to beat the butcher
or ale-wife, or take the goods by force, and throw them the bad
half-pence. In this and the like cases the shop-keeper, or victualler,
or any other tradesman, has no more to do than to demand ten times
the price of his goods if it is to be paid in Wood's money; for
example, twenty pence of that money for a quart of ale, and so in all
things else, and not part with his goods till he gets the money.

For suppose you go to an ale-house with that base money, and the
landlord gives you a quart for four of these half-pence, what must the
victualler do? His brewer will not be paid in that coin, or if the
brewer should be such a fool, the farmers will not take it from them
for their bere, because they are bound by their leases to pay their
rents in good and lawful money of England, which this is not, nor of
Ireland neither, and the Squire their landlord will never be so
bewitched to take such trash for his land; so that it must certainly
stop somewhere or other, and where-ever it stops it is the same thing,
and we are all undone.

The common weight of these half-pence is between four and five to an
ounce; suppose five, then three shillings and fourpence will weigh a
pound, and consequently twenty shillings will weigh six pounds butter
weight. Now there are many hundred farmers who pay two hundred pound a
year rent. Therefore when one of these farmers comes with his half
year's rent, which is one hundred pound, it will be at least six
hundred pound weight, which is three horses load.

If a squire has a mind to come to town to buy clothes and wine and
spices for himself and family, or perhaps to pass the winter here, he
must bring with him five or six horses loaden with sacks as the
farmers bring their corn; and when his lady comes in her coach to our
shops, it must be followed by a car loaded with Mr. Wood's money. And
I hope we shall have the grace to take it for no more than it is

They say Squire Conolly has sixteen thousand pounds a year; now if he
sends for his rent to town, as it is likely he does, he must have two
hundred and fifty horses to bring up his half-year's rent, and two or
three great cellars in his house for stowage. But what the bankers
will do I cannot tell. For I am assured that some great bankers keep
by them forty thousand pounds in ready cash, to answer all payments,
which sum, in Mr. Wood's money, would require twelve hundred horses to
carry it.

For my own part, I am already resolved what to do; I have a pretty
good shop of Irish stuffs and silks, and instead of taking Mr. Wood's
bad copper, I intend to truck with my neighbours the butchers, and
bakers, and brewers, and the rest, goods for goods, and the little
gold and silver I have I will keep by me like my heart's blood till
better times, or till I am just ready to starve, and then I will buy
Mr. Wood's money, as my father did the brass money in K. James's time,
who could buy ten pound of it with a guinea, and I hope to get as
much for a pistole, and so purchase bread from those who will be such
fools as to sell it me.

These half-pence, if they once pass, will soon be counterfeit, because
it may be cheaply done, the stuff is so base. The Dutch likewise will
probably do the same thing, and send them over to us to pay for our
goods; and Mr. Wood will never be at rest but coin on: so that in some
years we shall have at least five times fourscore and ten thousand
pounds of this lumber. Now the current money of this kingdom is not
reckoned to be above four hundred thousand pounds in all; and while
there is a silver sixpence left, these blood-suckers will never be

When once the kingdom is reduced to such a condition I will tell you
what must be the end: the gentlemen of estates will all turn off their
tenants for want of payment, because, as I told you before, the
tenants are obliged by their leases to pay sterling, which is lawful
current money of England; then they will turn their own farmers, as
too many of them do already, run all into sheep where they can,
keeping only such other cattle as are necessary; then they will be
their own merchants, and send their wool and butter and hides and
linen beyond sea for ready money and wine and spices and silks. They
will keep only a few miserable cottiers. The farmers must rob or beg,
or leave their country. The shop-keepers in this and every other town
must break and starve: for it is the landed man that maintains the
merchant, and shop-keeper, and handicraftsman.

But when the squire turns farmer and merchant himself, all the good
money he gets from abroad he will hoard up to send for England, and
keep some poor tailor or weaver and the like in his own house, who
will be glad to get bread at any rate.

I should never have done, if I were to tell you all the miseries that
we shall undergo if we be so foolish and wicked as to take this cursed
coin. It would be very hard if all Ireland should be put into one
scale, and this sorry fellow Wood into the other, that Mr. Wood should
weigh down this whole kingdom, by which England gets above a million
of good money every year clear into their pockets, and that is more
than the English do by all the world besides.

But your great comfort is, that, as his majesty's patent does not
oblige you to take this money, so the laws have not given the Crown a
power of forcing the subjects to take what money the king pleases: for
then, by the same reason, we might be bound to take pebble-stones or
cockle-shells, or stamped leather for current coin, if ever we should
happen to live under an ill prince, who might likewise by the same
power make a guinea pass for ten pounds, a shilling for twenty
shillings, and so on, by which he would in a short time get all the
silver and gold of the kingdom into his own hands, and leave us
nothing but brass or leather or what he pleased. Neither is anything
reckoned more cruel or oppressive in the French Government than their
common practice of calling in all their money after they have sunk it
very low, and then coining it a-new at a much higher value, which
however is not the thousandth part so wicked as this abominable
project of Mr. Wood. For the French give their subjects silver for
silver, and gold for gold; but this fellow will not so much as give us
good brass or copper for our gold and silver, nor even a twelfth part
of their worth.

Having said this much, I will now go on to tell you the judgments of
some great lawyers in this matter, whom I fee'd on purpose for your
sakes, and got their opinions under their hands, that I might be sure
I went upon good grounds.

A famous law-book call'd the _Mirrour of Justice_, discoursing of the
articles (or laws) ordained by our ancient kings, declares the law to
be as follows: It was ordained that no king of this realm should
change, impair, or amend the money or make any other money than of
gold or silver without the assent of all the counties, that is, as my
Lord Coke says, without the assent of Parliament.

This book is very ancient, and of great authority for the time in
which it was wrote, and with that character is often quoted by that
great lawyer my Lord Coke. By the laws of England, several metals are
divided into lawful or true metal and unlawful or false metal; the
former comprehends silver or gold, the latter all baser metals: that
the former is only to pass in payments appears by an Act of Parliament
made the twentieth year of Edward the First, called the statute
concerning the passing of pence, which I give you here as I got it
translated into English; for some of our laws at that time were, as I
am told, writ in Latin: Whoever in buying or selling presumeth to
refuse an half-penny or farthing of lawful money, bearing the stamp
which it ought to have, let him be seized on as a contemner of the
king's majesty, and cast to prison.

By this statute, no person is to be reckoned a contemner of the king's
majesty, and for that crime to be committed to prison, but he who
refuses to accept the king's coin made of lawful metal, by which, as I
observ'd before, silver and gold only are intended.

That this is the true construction of the Act, appears not only from
the plain meaning of the words, but from my Lord Coke's observation
upon it. By this Act (says he) it appears that no subject can be
forc'd to take in buying or selling or other payments, any money made
but of lawful metal; that is, of silver or gold.

The law of England gives the king all mines of gold and silver, but
not the mines of other metals; the reason of which prerogative or
power, as it is given by my Lord Coke, is, because money can be made
of gold and silver, but not of other metals.

Pursuant to this opinion half-pence and farthings were anciently made
of silver, which is more evident from the Act of Parliament of Henry
the IVth. chap. 4, by which it is enacted as follows: Item, for the
great scarcity that is at present within the realm of England of
half-pence and farthings of silver, it is ordained and established
that the third part of all the money of silver plate which shall be
brought to the bullion, shall be made in half-pence and farthings.
This shows that by the words half-penny and farthing of lawful money
in that statute concerning the passing of pence, is meant a small coin
in half-pence and farthings of silver.

This is further manifest from the statute of the ninth year of Edward
the IIId. chap. 3, which enacts, That no sterling half-penny or
farthing be molten for to make vessel, or any other thing by the
goldsmiths, nor others, upon forfeiture of the money so molten (or

By another Act in this king's reign black money was not to be current
in England, and by an Act made in the eleventh year of his reign,
chap. 5, galley half-pence were not to pass: what kind of coin these
were I do not know, but I presume they were made of base metal, and
that these Acts were no new laws, but further declarations of the old
laws relating to the coin.

Thus the law stands in relation to coin, nor is there any example to
the contrary, except one in Davis's _Reports_, who tells us, that in
the time of Tyrone's rebellion Queen Elizabeth ordered money of mixt
metal to be coined in the Tower of London, and sent over hither for
payment of the army, obliging all people to receive it, and commanding
that all silver money should be taken only as bullion, that is, for as
much as it weighed. Davis tells us several particulars in this matter
too long here to trouble you with, and that the Privy Council of this
kingdom obliged a merchant in England to receive this mixt money for
goods transmitted hither.

But this proceeding is rejected by all the best lawyers as contrary to
law, the Privy Council here having no such power. And, besides, it is
to be considered that the Queen was then under great difficulties by a
rebellion in this kingdom, assisted from Spain, and whatever is done
in great exigences and dangerous times should never be an example to
proceed by in seasons of peace and quietness.

I will now, my dear friends, to save you the trouble, set before you,
in short, what the law obliges you to do, and what it does not oblige
you to.

First, You are oblig'd to take all money in payments which is coin'd
by the king and is of the English standard or weight, provided it be
of gold or silver.

Secondly, You are not oblig'd to take any money which is not of gold
or silver, not only the half-pence or farthings of England, or of any
other country; and it is only for convenience, or ease, that you are
content to take them, because the custom of coining silver half-pence
and farthings hath long been left off, I will suppose on account of
their being subject to be lost.

Thirdly, Much less are we oblig'd to take those vile half-pence of
that same Wood, by which you must lose almost eleven-pence in every

Therefore, my friends, stand to it one and all, refuse this filthy
trash: it is no treason to rebel against Mr. Wood; his majesty in his
patent obliges nobody to take these half-pence; our gracious prince
hath no so ill advisers about him; or if he had, yet you see the laws
have not left it in the king's power, to force us to take any coin but
what is lawful, of right standard, gold and silver; therefore you have
nothing to fear.

And let me in the next place apply myself particularly to you who are
the poor sort of tradesmen: perhaps you may think you will not be so
great losers as the rich if these half-pence should pass, because you
seldom see any silver, and your customers come to your shops or stalls
with nothing but brass, which you likewise find hard to be got; but
you may take my word, whenever this money gains footing among you, you
will be utterly undone; if you carry these half-pence to a shop for
tobacco or brandy, or any other thing you want, the shop-keeper will
advance his goods accordingly, or else he must break and leave the key
under the door. Do you think I will sell you a yard of tenpenny stuff
for twenty of Mr. Wood's half-pence? No, not under two hundred at
least, neither will I be at the trouble of counting, but weigh them in
a lump. I will tell you one thing further, that if Mr. Wood's project
should take it will ruin even our beggars: for when I give a beggar an
half-penny, it will quench his thirst, or go a good way to fill his
belly; but the twelfth part of a half-penny will do him no more
service than if I should give him three pins out of my sleeve.

In short those half-pence are like the accursed thing, which, as the
Scripture tells us, the children of Israel were forbidden to touch;
they will run about like the plague and destroy every one who lays his
hands upon them. I have heard scholars talk of a man who told a king
that he had invented a way to torment people by putting them into a
bull of brass with fire under it, but the prince put the projector
first into his own brazen bull to make the experiment; this very much
resembles the project of Mr. Wood; and the like of this may possibly
be Mr. Wood's fate, that the brass he contrived to torment this
kingdom with, may prove his own torment, and his destruction at last.

_N.B._--The author of this paper is inform'd by persons who have made
it their business to be exact in their observations on the true value
of these half-pence, that any person may expect to get a quart of
twopenny ale for thirty-six of them.

I desire all persons may keep this paper carefully by them to refresh
their memories whenever they shall have further notice of Mr. Wood's
half-pence or any other the like imposture.



In your news-letter of the first instant there is a paragraph dated
from London, July 25th, relating to Wood's half-pence; whereby it is
plain, what I foretold in my letter to the shop-keepers, etc., that
this vile fellow would never be at rest, and that the danger of our
ruin approaches nearer, and therefore the kingdom requires new and
fresh warning; however I take that paragraph to be, in a great
measure, an imposition upon the public, at least I hope so, because I
am informed that Wood is generally his own news-writer. I cannot but
observe from that paragraph that this public enemy of ours, not
satisfied to ruin us with his trash, takes every occasion to treat
this kingdom with the utmost contempt. He represents several of our
merchants and traders upon examination before a committee of a
council, agreeing that there was the utmost necessity of copper-money
here, before his patent, so that several gentlemen have been forced to
tally with their workmen, and give them bits of cards sealed and
subscribed with their names. What then? If a physician prescribe to a
patient a dram of physic, shall a rascal apothecary cram him with a
pound, and mix it up with poison? And is not a landlord's hand and
seal to his own labourers a better security for five or ten shillings,
than Wood's brass seven times below the real value, can be to the
kingdom, for an hundred and four thousand pounds?

But who are these merchants and traders of Ireland that make this
report of the utmost necessity we are under of copper money? They are
only a few betrayers of their country, confederates with Wood, from
whom they are to purchase a great quantity of his coin, perhaps at
half value, and vend it among us to the ruin of the public and their
own private advantage. Are not these excellent witnesses, upon whose
integrity the fate of a kingdom must depend, who are evidences in
their own cause, and sharers in this work of iniquity?

If we could have deserved the liberty of coining for ourselves, as we
formerly did (and why we have not is everybody's wonder as well as
mine), ten thousand pounds might have been coined here in Dublin of
only one fifth below the intrinsic value, and this sum, with the stock
of half-pence we then had, would have been sufficient: but Wood by his
emissaries, enemies to God and this kingdom, hath taken care to buy up
as many of our old half-pence as he could, and from thence the present
want of change arises; to remove which, by Mr. Wood's remedy, would
be, to cure a scratch on the finger by cutting off the arm. But
supposing there were not one farthing of change in the whole nation, I
will maintain that five and twenty thousand pounds would be a sum
fully sufficient to answer all our occasions. I am no inconsiderable
shop-keeper in this town, I have discoursed with several of my own and
other trades, with many gentlemen both of city and country, and also
with great numbers of farmers, cottagers, and labourers, who all agree
that two shillings in change for every family would be more than
necessary in all dealings. Now by the largest computation (even before
that grievous discouragement of agriculture, which hath so much
lessened our numbers) the souls in this kingdom are computed to be
one million and a half, which, allowing but six to a family, makes two
hundred and fifty thousand families, and consequently two shillings to
each family will amount only to five and twenty thousand pounds,
whereas this honest liberal hard-ware-man Wood, would impose upon us
above four times that sum.

Your paragraph relates further, that Sir Isaac Newton reported an
assay taken at the Tower, of Wood's metal, by which it appears that
Wood had in all respects performed his contract. His contract! With
whom? Was it with the Parliament or people of Ireland? Are not they to
be the purchasers? But they detest, abhor, and reject it, as corrupt,
fraudulent, mingled with dirt and trash. Upon which he grows angry,
goes to law, and will impose his goods upon us by force.

But your news-letter says that an assay was made of the coin. How
impudent and insupportable is this? Wood takes care to coin a dozen or
two half-pence of good metal, sends them to the Tower and they are
approved, and these must answer all that he hath already coined or
shall coin for the future. It is true, indeed, that a gentleman often
sends to my shop for a pattern of stuff, I cut it fairly off, and if
he likes it he comes or sends and compares the pattern with the whole
piece, and probably we come to a bargain. But if I were to buy an
hundred sheep, and the grazier should bring me one single weather fat
and well fleeced by way of pattern, and expect the same price round
for the whole hundred, without suffering me to see them before he was
paid, or giving me good security to restore my money for those that
were lean or shorn or scabby, I would be none of his customer. I have
heard of a man who had a mind to sell his house, and therefore carried
a piece of brick in his pocket, which he showed as a pattern to
encourage purchasers: and this is directly the case in point with Mr.
Wood's assay.

The next part of the paragraph contains Mr. Wood's voluntary proposals
for preventing any future objections or apprehensions.

His first proposal is, that whereas he hath already coined seventeen
thousand pounds, and has copper prepared to make it up forty thousand
pounds, he will be content to coin no more, unless the exigences of
trade require it, though his patent empowers him to coin a far greater

To which if I were to answer it should be thus: Let Mr. Wood and his
crew of founders and tinkers coin on till there is not an old kettle
left in the kingdom; let them coin old leather, tobacco-pipe clay, or
the dirt in the streets, and call their trumpery by what name they
please from a guinea to a farthing, we are not under any concern to
know how he and his tribe or accomplices think fit to employ
themselves. But I hope and trust that we are all to a man fully
determined to have nothing to do with him or his ware.

The king has given him a patent to coin half-pence, but hath not
obliged us to take them, and I have already shown in my Letter to the
Shop-keepers, etc., that the law hath not left it in the power of the
prerogative to compel the subject to take any money, beside gold and
silver of the right sterling and standard.

Wood further proposes, (if I understand him right, for his expressions
are dubious) that he will not coin above forty thousand pounds unless
the exigences of trade require it: First, I observe that this sum of
forty thousand pounds is almost double to what I proved to be
sufficient for the whole kingdom, although we had not one of our old
half-pence left. Again I ask, who is to be judge when the exigences of
trade require it? Without doubt he means himself, for as to us of this
poor kingdom, who must be utterly ruined if his project should
succeed, we were never once consulted till the matter was over, and he
will judge of our exigences by his own; neither will these be ever at
an end till he and his accomplices will think they have enough: and it
now appears that he will not be content with all our gold and silver,
but intends to buy up our goods and manufactures with the same coin.

I shall not enter into examination of the prices for which he now
proposes to sell his half-pence or what he calls his copper, by the
pound; I have said enough of it in my former letter, and it hath
likewise been considered by others. It is certain that, by his own
first computation, we were to pay three shillings for what was
intrinsically worth but one, although it had been of the true weight
and standard for which he pretended to have contracted; but there is
so great a difference both in weight and badness in several of his
coins that some of them have been nine in ten below the intrinsic
value, and most of them six or seven.

His last proposal being of a peculiar strain and nature, deserves to
be very particularly consider'd, both on account of the matter and the
style. It is as follows.

Lastly, in consideration of the direful apprehensions which prevail in
Ireland, that Mr. Wood will by such coinage drain them of their gold
and silver, he proposes to take their manufactures in exchange, and
that no person be obliged to receive more than five-pence half-penny
at one payment.

First, observe this little impudent hard-ware-man turning into
ridicule the direful apprehensions of a whole kingdom, priding himself
as the cause of them, and daring to prescribe what no king of England
ever attempted, how far a whole nation shall be obliged to take his
brass coin. And he has reason to insult; for sure there was never an
example in history of a great kingdom kept in awe for above a year in
daily dread of utter destruction, not by a powerful invader at the
head of twenty thousand men, not by a plague or a famine, not by a
tyrannical prince (for we never had one more gracious) or a corrupt
administration, but by one single, diminutive, insignificant,

But to go on. To remove our direful apprehensions that he will drain
us of our gold and silver by his coinage, this little arbitrary
mock-monarch most graciously offers to take our manufactures in
exchange. Are our Irish understandings indeed so low in his opinion?
Is not this the very misery we complain of? That his cursed project
will put us under the necessity of selling our goods for what is equal
to nothing. How would such a proposal sound from France or Spain, or
any other country we deal with, if they should offer to deal with us
only upon this condition, that we should take their money at ten times
higher than the intrinsic value? Does Mr. Wood think, for instance,
that we will sell him a stone of wool for a parcel of his counters not
worth sixpence, when we can send it to England and receive as many
shillings in gold and silver? Surely there was never heard such a
compound of impudence, villainy and folly.

His proposals conclude with perfect high-treason. He promises, that
no person shall be obliged to receive more than five-pence half-penny
of his coin in one payment: by which it is plain that he pretends to
oblige every subject in this kingdom to take so much in every payment,
if it be offered; whereas his patent obliges no man, nor can the
prerogative by law claim such a power, as I have often observed; so
that here Mr. Wood takes upon him the entire legislature, and an
absolute dominion over the properties of the whole nation.

Good God! Who are this wretch's advisers? Who are his supporters,
abettors, encouragers, or sharers? Mr. Wood will oblige me to take
five-pence half-penny of his brass in every payment. And I will shoot
Mr. Wood and his deputies through the head, like highway-men or
house-breakers, if they dare to force one farthing of their coin upon
me in the payment of an hundred pounds. It is no loss of honour to
submit to the lion; but who, with the figure of a man can think with
patience of being devoured alive by a rat? He has laid a tax upon the
people of Ireland of seventeen shillings at least in the pound; a tax,
I say, not only upon lands, but interest-money, goods, manufactures,
the hire of handicraftsmen, labourers and servants. Shop-keepers, look
to yourselves. Wood will oblige and force you to take five-pence
half-penny of his trash in every payment, and many of you receive
twenty, thirty, forty, payments in one day, or else you can hardly
find bread: and pray consider how much that will amount to in a year;
twenty times five-pence half-penny is nine shillings and two-pence,
which is above an hundred and sixty pounds a year, whereof you will be
losers of at least one hundred and forty pounds by taking your
payments in his money. If any of you be content to deal with Mr. Wood
on such conditions they may. But for my own particular, let his money
perish with him. If the famous Mr. Hampden rather chose to go to
prison than pay a few shillings to King Charles I. without authority
of Parliament, I will rather choose to be hanged than have all my
substance taxed at seventeen shillings in the pound, at the arbitrary
will and pleasure of the venerable Mr. Wood.

The paragraph concludes thus. _N.B._ (that is to say _nota bene_, or
mark well) No evidence appeared from Ireland or elsewhere, to prove
the mischiefs complained of, or any abuses whatsoever committed in the
execution of the said grant.

The impudence of this remark exceeds all that went before. First, the
House of Commons in Ireland, which represents the whole people of the
kingdom; and secondly the Privy Council, addressed his majesty against
these half-pence. What could be done more to express the universal
sense and opinion of the nation? If his copper were diamonds, and the
kingdom were entirely against it, would not that be sufficient to
reject it? Must a committee of the House of Commons, and our whole
Privy Council go over to argue pro and con with Mr. Wood? To what end
did the king give his patent for coining of half-pence in Ireland? Was
it not, because it was represented to his sacred majesty, that such a
coinage would be of advantage to the good of this kingdom, and of all
his subjects here? It is to the patentee's peril if his representation
be false, and the execution of his patent be fraudulent and corrupt.
Is he so wicked and foolish to think that his patent was given him to
ruin a million and a half of people, that he might be a gainer of
three or fourscore thousand pounds to himself? Before he was at the
charge of passing a patent, much more of raking up so much filthy
dross, and stamping it with his majesty's image and superscription,
should he not first in common sense, in common equity, and common
manners, have consulted the principal party concerned; that is to say,
the people of the kingdom, the House of Lords or Commons, or the Privy
Council? If any foreigner should ask us, whose image and
superscription there is on Wood's coin, we should be ashamed to tell
him, it was Cæsar's. In that great want of copper half-pence, which
he alleges we were, our city set up our Cæsar's statue in excellent
copper, at an expence that is equal in value to thirty thousand
pounds of his coin; and we will not receive his image in worse metal.

I observe many of our people putting a melancholy case on this
subject. It is true say they, we are all undone if Wood's half-pence
must pass; but what shall we do, if his majesty puts out a
proclamation commanding us to take them? This has been often dinned in
my ears. But I desire my countrymen to be assured that there is
nothing in it. The king never issues out a proclamation but to enjoin
what the law permits him. He will not issue out a proclamation against
law, or if such a thing should happen by a mistake, we are no more
obliged to obey it than to run our heads into the fire. Besides, his
majesty will never command us by a proclamation, what he does not
offer to command us in the patent itself. There he leaves it to our
discretion, so that our destruction must be entirely owing to
ourselves. Therefore let no man be afraid of a proclamation, which
will never be granted; and if it should, yet upon this occasion, will
be of no force. The king's revenues here are near four hundred
thousand pounds a year, can you think his ministers will advise him to
take them in Wood's brass, which will reduce the value to fifty
thousand pounds? England gets a million sterl. by this nation, which,
if this project goes on, will be almost reduc'd to nothing: and do you
think those who live in England upon Irish estates will be content to
take an eighth or a tenth part, by being paid in Wood's dross?

If Wood and his confederates were not convinced of our stupidity, they
never would have attempted so audacious an enterprise. He now sees a
spirit hath been raised against him, and he only watches till it
begins to flag, he goes about watching when to devour us. He hopes we
shall be weary of contending with him, and at last out of ignorance,
or fear, or of being perfectly tired with opposition, we shall be
forced to yield. And therefore I confess it is my chief endeavour to
keep up your spirits and resentments. If I tell you there is a
precipice under you, and that if you go forwards you will certainly
break your necks--if I point to it before your eyes, must I be at the
trouble of repeating it every morning? Are our people's hearts waxed
gross? Are their ears dull of hearing, and have they closed their
eyes? I fear there are some few vipers among us, who, for ten or
twenty pounds' gain, would sell their souls and their country, though
at last it would end in their own ruin as well as ours. Be not like
the deaf adder, who refuses to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he
never so wisely.

Though my letter be directed to you, Mr. Harding, yet I intend it for
all my countrymen. I have no interest in this affair but what is
common to the public; I can live better than many others, I have some
gold and silver by me, and a shop well furnished, and shall be able
to make a shift when many of my betters are starving. But I am grieved
to see the coldness and indifference of many people with whom I
discourse. Some are afraid of a proclamation, others shrug up their
shoulders, and cry, what would you have us to do? Some give out, there
is no danger at all. Others are comforted that it will be a common
calamity and they shall fare no worse than their neighbours. Will a
man, who hears midnight-robbers at his door, get out of bed, and raise
his family for a common defence, and shall a whole kingdom lie in a
lethargy, while Mr. Wood comes at the head of his confederates to rob
them of all they have, to ruin us and our posterity for ever? If an
high-way-man meets you on the road, you give him your money to save
your life; but, God be thanked, Mr. Wood cannot touch a hair of your
heads. You have all the laws of God and man on your side. When he or
his accomplices offer you his dross, it is but saying No, and you are
safe. If a madman should come to my shop with a handful of dirt raked
out of the kennel, and offer it in payment for ten yards of stuff, I
would pity or laugh at him, or, if his behaviour deserved it, kick him
out of my doors. And if Mr. Wood comes to demand any gold or silver,
or commodities for which I have paid my gold and silver, in exchange
for his trash, can he deserve or expect better treatment?

When the evil day is come (if it must come) let us mark and observe
those who presume to offer these half-pence in payment. Let their
names and trades, and places of abode be made public, that every one
may be aware of them, as betrayers of their country, and confederates
with Mr. Wood. Let them be watched at markets and fairs, and let the
first honest discoverer give the word about, that Wood's half-pence
have been offered, and caution the poor innocent people not to receive

Perhaps I have been too tedious; but there would never be an end, if I
attempt to say all that this melancholy subject will bear. I will
conclude with humbly offering one proposal, which if it were put in
practice, would blow up this destructive project at once. Let some
skilful judicious pen draw up an advertisement to the following

_Whereas one William Wood, hard-ware-man, now or lately sojourning in
the city of London, hath, by many misrepresentations, procured a
patent for coining an hundred and forty thousand pounds in copper
half-pence for this kingdom, which is a sum five times greater than
our occasions require: And whereas it is notorious that the said Wood
hath coined his half-pence of such base metal and false weight, that
they are, at least, six parts in seven below the real value: And
whereas we have reason to apprehend that the said Wood may, at any
time hereafter, clandestinely coin as many more half-pence as he
pleases: And whereas the said patent neither doth nor can oblige his
majesty's subjects to receive the said half-pence in any payment, but
leaves it to their voluntary choice, because, by law the subject
cannot be obliged to take any money except gold or silver: And
whereas, contrary to the letter and meaning of the said patent, the
said Wood hath declared that every person shall be obliged to take
five-pence half-penny of his coin in every payment: And whereas the
House of Commons and Privy Council have severally addressed his most
sacred majesty representing the ill consequences which the said
coinage may have upon this kingdom: And lastly, whereas it is
universally agreed, that the whole nation to a man (except Mr. Wood
and his confederates) are in the utmost apprehensions of the ruinous
consequences that must follow from the said coinage. Therefore we,
whose names are underwritten, being persons of considerable estates in
this kingdom, and residers therein, do unanimously resolve and declare
that we will never receive one farthing or half-penny of the said
Wood's coining, and that we will direct all our tenants to refuse the
said coin from any person whatsoever; of which, that they may not be
ignorant, we have sent them a copy of this advertisement, to be read
to them by our stewards, receivers, etc._

I could wish, that a paper of this nature might be drawn up, and
signed by two or three hundred principal gentlemen of this kingdom,
and printed copies thereof sent to their several tenants; I am
deceived, if anything could sooner defeat this execrable design of
Wood and his accomplices. This would immediately give the alarm, and
set the kingdom on their guard. This would give courage to the meanest
tenant and cottager. _How long, O Lord, righteous and true_, etc.

I must tell you in particular, Mr. Harding, that you are much to
blame. Several hundred persons have enquired at your house for my
Letter to the Shop-keepers, etc., and you had none to sell them. Pray
keep yourself provided with that letter and with this; you have got
very well by the former, but I did not then write for your sake, any
more than I do now. Pray advertise both in every news-paper, and let
it not be your fault or mine if our countrymen will not take warning.
I desire you likewise to sell them as cheap as you can.--I am your
Servant, M.B.

_Aug. 4, 1724._



(_I have found the selection of a suitable sample of Burke to be my
most difficult task in this volume. All his writings, as I have
pointed out in the general introduction, are, after a sort, pamphlets;
and this of itself was an embarrassment. It was partly complicated and
partly lessened by the fact that the form of his speeches naturally
excluded them. Many of his other works--notably the _Thoughts on the
Present Discontents_, the immortal _Reflections on the French
Revolution_, and the _Appeal from the New Whigs to the Old_--were much
too long for a scheme in which I have made it a rule to give in each
case entire works or divisions of works. I at last reduced the
suitable candidates to three--the _Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe_,
that _To a Noble Lord_, and the present number of the _Letters on a
Regicide Peace_. The first went as being to some extent identical in
subject with the examples of another writer, Sydney Smith, which I had
already resolved on giving; the second as being too much in the nature
of a personal apologia. With the third, which I looked on at first
with least favour, I have become increasingly well satisfied. It has
not the gorgeous rhetoric of _The Letter to a Noble Lord_, the
_Reflections_, and others. It has nothing so lively as the contrast
between France and Algiers in its immediate predecessor. It may even
seem, to those who have accustomed themselves to think of Burke wholly
or mainly as a gorgeous rhetorician, rather tame as a whole. But if it
does not soar, it never droops; it is admirably proportioned,
admirably written, and admirably argued throughout, and it shows great
knowledge and mastery of foreign politics--the point in which English
statesmen have always been weakest. I may add that it seems to me a
triumphant refutation of the charge--constantly brought against Burke
not merely by extreme democrats, but by the usual advocate of the
_juste milieu_,--that in his later years, and especially in these very
Letters, he became a mere raving Gallophobe, with no sense of
proportion or circumstance. For my part, I have read scores, probably
hundreds, of books--English, French, and German--on the French
Revolution; I have never read one that made Burke obsolete. Let it
only be added that the author, who was born in 1730, was very near the
end of his career--he died next year--when he wrote these letters,
and that the peace proposals which he deprecated, and which he did not
a little to avert, were dictated on the one side by the sobering down
of the first Revolutionary fervour under the Directory; on the other
by the persistent ill-success of the Allies, and the conflicts of
interest and principle which had arisen among them._)

My dear Sir--I closed my first letter with serious matter, and I hope
it has employed your thoughts. The system of peace must have a
reference to the system of the war. On that ground, I must therefore
again recall your mind to our original opinions, which time and events
have not taught me to vary.

My ideas and my principles led me, in this contest, to encounter
France, not as a state, but as a faction. The vast territorial extent
of that country, its immense population, its riches of production, its
riches of commerce and convention--the whole aggregate mass of what,
in ordinary cases, constitutes the force of a state, to me were but
objects of secondary consideration. They might be balanced; and they
have been often more than balanced. Great as these things are, they
are not what make the faction formidable. It is the faction that makes
them truly dreadful. That faction is the evil spirit that possesses
the body of France; that informs it as a soul; that stamps upon its
ambition, and upon all its pursuits, a characteristic mark, which
strongly distinguishes them from the same general passions, and the
same general views, in other men and in other communities. It is that
spirit which inspires into them a new, a pernicious, a desolating
activity. Constituted as France was ten years ago, it was not in that
France to shake, to shatter, and to overwhelm Europe in the manner
that we behold. A sure destruction impends over those infatuated
princes, who, in the conflict with this new and unheard-of power,
proceed as if they were engaged in a war that bore a resemblance to
their former contests; or that they can make peace in the spirit of
their former arrangements of pacification. Here the beaten path is the
very reverse of the safe road.

As to me, I was always steadily of opinion, that this disorder was not
in its nature intermittent. I conceived that the contest, once begun,
could not be laid down again, to be resumed at our discretion; but
that our first struggle with this evil would also be our last. I never
thought we could make peace with the system; because it was not for
the sake of an object we pursued in rivalry with each other, but with
the system itself, that we were at war. As I understood the matter, we
were at war not with its conduct, but with its existence; convinced
that its existence and its hostility were the same.

The faction is not local or territorial. It is a general evil. Where
it least appears in action, it is still full of life. In its sleep it
recruits its strength, and prepares its exertion. Its spirit lies deep
in the corruption of our common nature. The social order which
restrains it, feeds it. It exists in every country in Europe; and
among all orders of men in every country, who look up to France as to
a common head. The centre is there. The circumference is the world of
Europe wherever the race of Europe may be settled. Everywhere else the
faction is militant; in France it is triumphant. In France it is the
bank of deposit, and the bank of circulation, of all the pernicious
principles that are forming in every state. It will be folly scarcely
deserving of pity, and too mischievous for contempt, to think of
restraining it in any other country whilst it is predominant there.
War, instead of being the cause of its force, has suspended its
operation. It has given a reprieve, at least, to the Christian world.

The true nature of a Jacobin war, in the beginning, was, by most of
the Christian powers, felt, acknowledged, and even in the most precise
manner declared. In the joint manifesto, published by the emperor and
the king of Prussia, on the 4th of August, 1792, it is expressed in
the clearest terms, and on principles which could not fail, if they
had adhered to them, of classing those monarchs with the first
benefactors of mankind. This manifesto was published, as they
themselves express it, 'to lay open to the present generation, as well
as to posterity, their motives, their intentions, and the
_disinterestedness_ of their personal views; taking up arms for the
purpose of preserving social and political order amongst all civilised
nations, and to secure to _each_ state its religion, happiness,
independence, territories, and real constitution.'--'On this ground,
they hoped that all empires and all states would be unanimous; and
becoming the firm guardians of the happiness of mankind, that they
could not fail to unite their efforts to rescue a numerous nation from
its own fury, to preserve Europe from the return of barbarism, and the
universe from the subversion and anarchy with which it was
threatened.' The whole of that noble performance ought to be read at
the first meeting of any congress which may assemble for the purpose
of pacification. In that piece 'these powers expressly renounce all
views of personal aggrandisement,' and confine themselves to objects
worthy of so generous, so heroic, and so perfectly wise and politic an
enterprise. It was to the principles of this confederation, and to no
other, that we wished our sovereign and our country to accede, as a
part of the commonwealth of Europe. To these principles with some
trifling exceptions and limitations they did fully accede. And all our
friends who took office acceded to the ministry (whether wisely or
not), as I always understood the matter, on the faith and on the
principles of that declaration.

As long as these powers flattered themselves that the menace of force
would produce the effect of force, they acted on those declarations:
but when their menaces failed of success, their efforts took a new
direction. It did not appear to them that virtue and heroism ought to
be purchased by millions of rix-dollars. It is a dreadful truth, but
it is a truth that cannot be concealed; in ability, in dexterity, in
the distinctness of their views, the Jacobins are our superiors. They
saw the thing right from the very beginning. Whatever were the first
motives to the war among politicians, they saw that in its spirit, and
for its objects, it was a _civil war_; and as such they pursued it. It
is a war between the partisans of the ancient, civil, moral, and
political order of Europe, against a sect of fanatical and ambitious
atheists which means to change them all. It is not France extending a
foreign empire over other nations; it is a sect aiming at universal
empire, and beginning with the conquest of France. The leaders of that
sect secured the _centre of Europe_; and that secured, they knew, that
whatever might be the event of battles and sieges, their _cause_ was
victorious. Whether its territory had a little more or a little less
peeled from its surface, or whether an island or two was detached from
its commerce, to them was of little moment. The conquest of France
was a glorious acquisition. That once well laid as a basis of empire,
opportunities never could be wanting to regain or to replace what had
been lost, and dreadfully to avenge themselves on the faction of their

They saw it was a _civil war_. It was their business to persuade their
adversaries that it ought to be a _foreign_ war. The Jacobins
everywhere set up a cry against the new crusade; and they intrigued
with effect in the cabinet, in the field, and in every private society
in Europe. Their task was not difficult. The condition of princes, and
sometimes of first ministers too, is to be pitied. The creatures of
the desk, and the creatures of favour, had no relish for the
principles of the manifestoes. They promised no governments, no
regiments, no revenues from whence emoluments might arise by
perquisite or by grant. In truth, the tribe of vulgar politicians are
the lowest of our species. There is no trade so vile and mechanical as
government in their hands. Virtue is not their habit. They are out of
themselves in any course of conduct recommended only by conscience and
glory. A large, liberal, and prospective view of the interests of
states passes with them for romance; and the principles that recommend
it, for the wanderings of a disordered imagination. The calculators
compute them out of their senses. The jesters and buffoons shame them
out of everything grand and elevated. Littleness in object and in
means, to them appears soundness and sobriety. They think there is
nothing worth pursuit but that which they can handle; which they can
measure with a two-foot rule; which they can tell upon ten fingers.

Without the principles of the Jacobins, perhaps without any principles
at all, they played the game of that faction. There was a beaten road
before them. The powers of Europe were armed; France had always
appeared dangerous; the war was easily diverted from France as a
faction, to France as a state. The princes were easily taught to slide
back into their old, habitual course of politics. They were easily led
to consider the flames that were consuming France, not as a warning to
protect their own buildings (which were without any party wall, and
linked by a contignation into the edifice of France,) but as a happy
occasion for pillaging the goods, and for carrying off the materials,
of their neighbour's house. Their provident fears were changed into
avaricious hopes. They carried on their new designs without seeming to
abandon the principles of their old policy. They pretended to seek, or
they flattered themselves that they sought, in the accession of new
fortresses, and new territories, a _defensive_ security. But the
security wanted was against a kind of power which was not so truly
dangerous in its fortresses nor in its territories, as in its spirit
and its principles. The aimed, or pretended to aim, at _defending_
themselves against a danger from which there can be no security in any
_defensive_ plan. If armies and fortresses were a defence against
Jacobinism, Louis the Sixteenth would this day reign a powerful
monarch over a happy people.

This error obliged them, even in their offensive operations, to adopt
a plan of war, against the success of which there was something little
short of mathematical demonstration. They refused to take any step
which might strike at the heart of affairs. They seemed unwilling to
wound the enemy in any vital part. They acted through the whole, as if
they really wished the conservation of the Jacobin power, as what
might be more favourable than the lawful government to the attainment
of the petty objects they looked for. They always kept on the
circumference; and the wider and remoter the circle was, the more
eagerly they chose it as their sphere of action in this centrifugal
war. The plan they pursued, in its nature demanded great length of
time. In its execution, they, who went the nearest way to work, were
obliged to cover an incredible extent of country. It left to the enemy
every means of destroying this extended line of weakness. Ill success
in any part was sure to defeat the effect of the whole. This is true
of Austria. It is still more true of England. On this false plan, even
good fortune, by further weakening the victor, put him but the
further off from his object.

As long as there was any appearance of success, the spirit of
aggrandisement, and consequently the spirit of mutual jealousy, seized
upon all the coalesced powers. Some sought an accession of territory
at the expense of France, some at the expense of each other, some at
the expense of third parties; and when the vicissitude of disaster
took its turn, they found common distress a treacherous bond of faith
and friendship.

The greatest skill conducting the greatest military apparatus has been
employed; but it has been worse than uselessly employed, through the
false policy of the war. The operations of the field suffered by the
errors of the cabinet. If the same spirit continues when peace is
made, the peace will fix and perpetuate all the errors of the war;
because it will be made upon the same false principle. What has been
lost in the field, in the field may be regained. An arrangement of
peace in its nature is a permanent settlement; it is the effect of
counsel and deliberation, and not of fortuitous events. If built upon
a basis fundamentally erroneous, it can only be retrieved by some of
those unforeseen dispensations, which the all-wise but mysterious
Governor of the world sometimes interposes, to snatch nations from
ruin. It would not be pious error, but mad and impious presumption,
for any one to trust in an unknown order of dispensations, in defiance
of the rules of prudence, which are formed upon the known march of the
ordinary providence of God.

It was not of that sort of war that I was amongst the least
considerable, but amongst the most zealous advisers; and it is not by
the sort of peace now talked of, that I wish it concluded. It would
answer no great purpose to enter into the particular errors of the
war. The whole has been but one error. It was but nominally a war of
alliance. As the combined powers pursued it there was nothing to hold
an alliance together. There could be no tie of _honour_, in a society
for pillage. There could be no tie of a common _interest_ where the
object did not offer such a division amongst the parties as could well
give them a warm concern in the gains of each other, or could indeed
form such a body of equivalents, as might make one of them willing to
abandon a separate object of his ambition for the gratification of any
other member of the alliance. The partition of Poland offered an
object of spoil in which the parties _might_ agree. They were
circumjacent, and each might take a portion convenient to his own
territory. They might dispute about the value of their several shares,
but the contiguity to each of the demandants always furnished the
means of an adjustment. Though hereafter the world will have cause to
rue this iniquitous measure, and they most who were the most
concerned in it, for the moment there was wherewithal in the object to
preserve peace amongst confederates in wrong. But the spoil of France
did not afford the same facilities for accommodation. What might
satisfy the house of Austria in a Flemish frontier, afforded no
equivalent to tempt the cupidity of the king of Prussia. What might be
desired by Great Britain in the West Indies, must be coldly and
remotely, if at all, felt as an interest at Vienna; and it would be
felt as something worse than a negative interest at Madrid. Austria,
long possessed with unwise and dangerous designs on Italy, could not
be very much in earnest about the conservation of the old patrimony of
the house of Savoy; and Sardinia, who owed to an Italian force all her
means of shutting out France from Italy, of which she has been
supposed to hold the key, would not purchase the means of strength
upon one side by yielding it on the other. She would not readily give
the possession of Novara for the hope of Savoy. No continental power
was willing to lose any of its continental objects for the increase of
the naval power of Great Britain; and Great Britain would not give up
any of the objects she sought for as the means of an increase to her
naval power, to further their aggrandisement.

The moment this war came to be considered as a war merely of profit,
the actual circumstances are such that it never could become really a
war of alliance. Nor can the peace be a peace of alliance, until
things are put upon their right bottom.

I do not find it denied that when a treaty is entered into for peace,
a demand will be made on the regicides to surrender a great part of
their conquests on the continent. Will they, in the present state of
the war, make that surrender without an equivalent? This continental
cession must of course be made in favour of that party in the alliance
that has suffered losses. That party has nothing to furnish towards an
equivalent. What equivalent, for instance, has Holland to offer, who
has lost her all? What equivalent can come from the Emperor, every
part of whose territories contiguous to France is already within the
pale of the regicide dominions? What equivalent has Sardinia to offer
for Savoy and for Nice, I may say for her whole being? What has she
taken from the faction of France? she has lost very near her all; and
she has gained nothing. What equivalent has Spain to give? Alas! she
has already paid for her own ransom the fund of equivalent, and a
dreadful equivalent it is, to England and to herself. But I put Spain
out of the question; she is a province of the Jacobin empire, and she
must make peace or war according to the orders she receives from the
directory of assassins. In effect and substance, her crown is a fief
of regicide.

Whence then can the compensation be demanded? Undoubtedly from that
power which alone has made some conquests. That power is England. Will
the allies then give away their ancient patrimony, that England may
keep islands in the West Indies? They never can protract the war in
good earnest for that object; nor can they act in concert with us, in
our refusal to grant anything towards their redemption. In that case
we are thus situated. Either we must give Europe, bound hand and foot,
to France; or we must quit the West Indies without any one object,
great or small, towards indemnity and security. I repeat it, without
any advantage whatever: because, supposing that our conquest could
comprise all that France ever possessed in the tropical America, it
never can amount in any fair estimation to a fair equivalent for
Holland, for the Austrian Netherlands, for the lower Germany, that is,
for the whole ancient kingdom or circle of Burgundy, now under the
yoke of regicide, to say nothing of almost all Italy under the same
barbarous domination. If we treat in the present situation of things,
we have nothing in our hands that can redeem Europe. Nor is the
Emperor, as I have observed, more rich in the fund of equivalents.

If we look to our stock in the eastern world, our most valuable and
systematic acquisitions are made in that quarter. Is it from France
they are made? France has but one or two contemptible factories,
subsisting by the offal of the private fortunes of English individuals
to support them, in any part of India. I look on the taking of the
Cape of Good Hope as the securing of a post of great moment. It does
honour to those who planned, and to those who executed, that
enterprise: but I speak of it always as comparatively good; as good as
anything can be in a scheme of war that repels us from a centre, and
employs all our forces where nothing can be finally decisive. But
giving, as I freely give, every possible credit to these eastern
conquests, I ask one question,--on whom are they made? It is evident,
that if we can keep our eastern conquests we keep them not at the
expense of France, but at the expense of Holland our _ally_; of
Holland, the immediate cause of the war, the nation whom we had
undertaken to protect, and not of the republic which it was our
business to destroy. If we return the African and the Asiatic
conquests, we put them into the hands of a nominal state (to that
Holland is reduced) unable to retain them; and which will virtually
leave them under the direction of France. If we withhold them, Holland
declines still more as a state. She loses so much carrying trade, and
that means of keeping up the small degree of naval power she holds;
for which policy alone, and not for any commercial gain, she maintains
the Cape, or any settlement beyond it. In that case, resentment,
faction, and even necessity, will throw her more and more into the
power of the new, mischievous republic. But on the probable state of
Holland I shall say more, when in this correspondence I come to talk
over with you the state in which any sort of Jacobin peace will leave
all Europe.

So far as to the East Indies.

As to the West Indies, indeed as to either, if we look for matter of
exchange in order to ransom Europe, it is easy to show that we have
taken a terribly roundabout road. I cannot conceive, even if, for the
sake of holding conquests there, we should refuse to redeem Holland,
and the Austrian Netherlands, and the hither Germany, that Spain,
merely as she is Spain, (and forgetting that the regicide ambassador
governs at Madrid,) will see, with perfect satisfaction, Great Britain
sole mistress of the isles. In truth it appears to me, that, when we
come to balance our account, we shall find in the proposed peace only
the pure, simple, and unendowed charms of Jacobin amity. We shall have
the satisfaction of knowing, that no blood or treasure has been spared
by the allies for support of the regicide system. We shall reflect at
leisure on one great truth, that it was ten times more easy totally to
destroy the system itself, than, when established, it would be to
reduce its power; and that this republic, most formidable abroad, was
of all things the weakest at home; that her frontier was terrible, her
interior feeble; that it was matter of choice to attack her where she
is invincible, and to spare her where she was ready to dissolve by her
own internal disorders. We shall reflect, that our plan was good
neither for offence nor defence.

It would not be at all difficult to prove, that an army of a hundred
thousand men, horse, foot, and artillery, might have been employed
against the enemy on the very soil which he has usurped, at a far less
expense than has been squandered away upon tropical adventures. In
these adventures it was not an enemy we had to vanquish, but a
cemetery to conquer. In carrying on the war in the West Indies, the
hostile sword is merciful; the country in which we engage is the
dreadful enemy. There the European conqueror finds a cruel defeat in
the very fruits of his success. Every advantage is but a new demand on
England for recruits to the West Indian grave. In a West India war,
the regicides have, for their troops, a race of fierce barbarians, to
whom the poisoned air, in which our youth inhale certain death, is
salubrity and life. To them the climate is the surest and most
faithful of allies.

Had we carried on the war on the side of France which looks towards
the Channel or the Atlantic, we should have attacked our enemy on his
weak and unarmed side. We should not have to reckon on the loss of a
man who did not fall in battle. We should have an ally in the heart
of the country, who, to our hundred thousand, would at one time have
added eighty thousand men at the least, and all animated by principle,
by enthusiasm, and by vengeance; motives which secured them to the
cause in a very different manner from some of those allies whom we
subsidised with millions. This ally, (or rather this principal in the
war,) by the confession of the regicide himself, was more formidable
to him than all his other foes united. Warring there, we should have
led our arms to the capital of Wrong. Defeated, we could not fail
(proper precautions taken) of a sure retreat. Stationary, and only
supporting the royalists, an impenetrable barrier, an impregnable
rampart, would have been formed between the enemy and his naval power.
We are probably the only nation who have declined to act against an
enemy, when it might have been done in his own country; and who having
an armed, a powerful, and a long-victorious ally in that country,
declined all effectual co-operation, and suffered him to perish for
want of support. On the plan of a war in France, every advantage that
our allies might obtain would be doubled in its effect. Disasters on
the one side might have a fair chance of being compensated by
victories on the other. Had we brought the main of our force to bear
upon that quarter, all the operations of the British and Imperial
crowns would have been combined. The war would have had system,
correspondence, and a certain direction. But as the war has been
pursued, the operations of the two crowns have not the smallest degree
of mutual bearing or relation.

Had acquisitions in the West Indies been our object, on success in
France, everything reasonable in those remote parts might be demanded
with decorum, and justice, and a sure effect. Well might we call for a
recompence in America, for those services to which Europe owed its
safety. Having abandoned this obvious policy connected with principle,
we have seen the regicide power taking the reverse course, and making
real conquests in the West Indies, to which all our dear-bought
advantages (if we could hold them) are mean and contemptible. The
noblest island within the tropics, worth all that we possess put
together, is, by the vassal Spaniard, delivered into her hands. The
island of Hispaniola (of which we have but one poor corner, by a
slippery hold) is perhaps equal to England in extent, and in fertility
is far superior. The part possessed by Spain, of that great island,
made for the seat and centre of a tropical empire, was not improved,
to be sure, as the French division had been, before it was
systematically destroyed by the cannibal republic; but it is not only
the far larger, but the far more salubrious and more fertile part.

It was delivered into the hands of the barbarians without, as I can
find, any public reclamation on our part, not only in contravention to
one of the fundamental treaties that compose the public law of Europe,
but in defiance of the fundamental colonial policy of Spain herself.
This part of the treaty of Utrecht was made for great general ends
unquestionably; but whilst it provided for those general ends, it was
in affirmance of that particular policy. It was not to injure, but to
save Spain by making a settlement of her estate, which prohibited her
to alienate to France. It is her policy not to see the balance of West
Indian power overturned by France or by Great Britain. Whilst the
monarchies subsisted, this unprincipled cession was what the influence
of the elder branch of the house of Bourbon never dared to attempt on
the younger: but cannibal terror has been more powerful than family
influence. The Bourbon monarchy of Spain is united to the republic of
France, by what may be truly called the ties of blood.

By this measure the balance of power in the West Indies is totally
destroyed. It has followed the balance of power in Europe. It is not
alone what shall be left nominally to the assassins that is theirs.
Theirs is the whole empire of Spain in America. That stroke finishes
all. I should be glad to see our suppliant negotiator in the act of
putting his feather to the ear of the directory, to make it unclinch
the fist; and, by his tickling, to charm that rich prize out of the
iron gripe of robbery and ambition! It does not require much sagacity
to discern that no power wholly baffled and defeated in Europe can
flatter itself with conquests in the West Indies. In that state of
things it can neither keep nor hold. No! It cannot even long make war
if the grand bank and deposit of its force is at all in the West
Indies. But here a scene opens to my view too important to pass by,
perhaps too critical to touch. Is it possible that it should not
present itself in all its relations to a mind habituated to consider
either war or peace on a large scale, or as one whole?

Unfortunately other ideas have prevailed. A remote, an expensive, a
murderous, and, in the end, an unproductive adventure, carried on upon
ideas of mercantile knight-errantry, without any of the generous
wildness of Quixotism, is considered as sound, solid sense; and a war
in a wholesome climate, a war at our door, a war directly on the
enemy, a war in the heart of his country, a war in concert with an
internal ally, and in combination with the external, is regarded as
folly and romance.

My dear friend, I hold it impossible that these considerations should
have escaped the statesmen on both sides of the water, and on both
sides of the House of Commons. How a question of peace can be
discussed without having them in view, I cannot imagine. If you or
others see a way out of these difficulties I am happy. I see, indeed,
a fund from whence equivalents will be proposed. I see it. But I
cannot just now touch it. It is a question of high moment. It opens
another Iliad of woes to Europe.

Such is the time proposed for making a _common political peace_, to
which no one circumstance is propitious. As to the grand principle of
the peace, it is left, as if by common consent, wholly out of the

Viewing things in this light, I have frequently sunk into a degree of
despondency and dejection hardly to be described; yet out of the
profoundest depths of this despair, an impulse, which I have in vain
endeavoured to resist, has urged me to raise one feeble cry against
this unfortunate coalition which is formed at home, in order to make a
coalition with France, subversive of the whole ancient order of the
world. No disaster of war, no calamity of season, could ever strike me
with half the horror which I felt from what is introduced to us by
this junction of parties, under the soothing name of peace. We are apt
to speak of a low and pusillanimous spirit as the ordinary cause by
which dubious wars terminated in humiliating treaties. It is here the
direct contrary. I am perfectly astonished at the boldness of
character, at the intrepidity of mind, the firmness of nerve, in those
who are able with deliberation to face the perils of Jacobin

This fraternity is indeed so terrible in its nature, and in its
manifest consequences, that there is no way of quieting our
apprehensions about it, but by totally putting it out of sight, by
substituting for it, through a sort of periphrasis, something of an
ambiguous quality, and describing such a connexion under the terms of
'_the usual relations of peace and amity_.' By this means the proposed
fraternity is hustled in the crowd of those treaties, which imply no
change in the public law of Europe, and which do not upon system
affect the interior condition of nations. It is confounded with those
conventions in which matters of dispute among sovereign powers are
compromised, by the taking off a duty more or less, by the surrender
of a frontier town, or a disputed district, on the one side or the
other; by pactions in which the pretensions of families are settled,
(as by a conveyancer, making family substitutions and successions,)
without any alterations in the laws, manners, religion, privileges,
and customs, of the cities, or territories, which are the subject of
such arrangements.

All this body of old conventions, composing the vast and voluminous
collection called the _corps diplomatique_, forms the code or statute
law, as the methodised reasonings of the great publicists and jurists
from the digest and jurisprudence of the Christian world. In these
treasures are to be found the _usual_ relations of peace and amity in
civilised Europe; and there the relations of ancient France were to
be found amongst the rest.

The present system in France is not the ancient France. It is not the
ancient France with ordinary ambition and ordinary means. It is not a
new power of an old kind. It is a new power of a new species. When
such a questionable shape is to be admitted for the first time into
the brotherhood of Christendom, it is not a mere matter of idle
curiosity to consider how far it is in its nature alliable with the
rest, or whether 'the relations of peace and amity' with this new
state are likely to be of the same nature with the _usual_ relations
of the states of Europe.

The Revolution in France had the relation of France to other nations
as one of its principal objects. The changes made by that Revolution
were not the better to accommodate her to the old and usual relations,
but to produce new ones. The Revolution was made, not to make France
free, but to make her formidable; not to make her a neighbour, but a
mistress; not to make her more observant of laws, but to put her in a
condition to impose them. To make France truly formidable it was
necessary that France should be new modelled. They, who have not
followed the train of the late proceedings, have been led by deceitful
representations (which deceit made a part in the plan) to conceive
that this totally new model of a state, in which nothing escaped a
change, was made with a view to its internal relations only.

In the Revolution of France two sorts of men were principally
concerned in giving a character and determination to its pursuits: the
philosophers and the politicians. They took different ways, but they
met in the same end. The philosophers had one predominant object,
which they pursued with a fanatical fury, that is, the utter
extirpation of religion. To that every question of empire was
subordinate. They had rather domineer in a parish of atheists, than
rule over a Christian world. Their temporal ambition was wholly
subservient to their proselytising spirit, in which they were not
exceeded by Mahomet himself.

They, who have made but superficial studies in the natural history of
the human mind, have been taught to look on religious opinions as the
only cause of enthusiastic zeal and sectarian propagation. But there
is no doctrine whatever, on which men can warm, that is not capable of
the very same effect. The social nature of man impels him to propagate
his principles, as much as physical impulses urge him to propagate his
kind. The passions give zeal and vehemence. The understanding bestows
design and system. The whole man moves under the discipline of his
opinions. Religion is among the most powerful causes of enthusiasm.
When anything concerning it becomes an object of much meditation, it
cannot be indifferent to the mind. They who do not love religion,
hate it. The rebels to God perfectly abhor the author of their being.
They hate Him 'with all their heart, with all their mind, with all
their soul, and with all their strength.' He never presents Himself to
their thoughts but to menace and alarm them. They cannot strike the
sun out of heaven, but they are able to raise a smouldering smoke that
obscures Him from their own eyes. Not being able to revenge themselves
on God, they have a delight in vicariously defacing, degrading,
torturing, and tearing in pieces, His image in man. Let no one judge
of them by what he has conceived of them, when they were not
incorporated, and had no lead. They were then only passengers in a
common vehicle. They were then carried along with the general motion
of religion in the community, and, without being aware of it, partook
of its influence. In that situation, at worst, their nature was left
free to counterwork their principles. They despaired of giving any
very general currency to their opinions. They considered them as a
reserved privilege for the chosen few. But when the possibility of
dominion, lead, and propagation, presented itself, and that the
ambition, which before had so often made them hypocrites, might rather
gain than lose by a daring avowal of their sentiments, then the nature
of this infernal spirit, which has 'evil for its good,' appeared in
its full perfection. Nothing indeed but the possession of some power
can with any certainty discover what at the bottom is the true
character of any man. Without reading the speeches of Vergniaux,
Françias of Nantz, Isnard, and some others of that sort, it would not
be easy to conceive the passion, rancour, and malice of their tongues
and hearts. They worked themselves up to a perfect phrensy against
religion and all its professors. They tore the reputation of the
clergy to pieces by their infuriated declamations and invectives,
before they lacerated their bodies by their massacres. This fanatical
atheism left out, we omit the principal feature in the French
Revolution, and a principal consideration with regard to the effects
to be expected from a peace with it.

The other sort of men were the politicians. To them, who had little or
not at all reflected on the subject, religion was in itself no object
of love or hatred. They disbelieved it, and that was all. Neutral with
regard to that object, they took the side which in the present state
of things might best answer their purposes. They soon found that they
could not do without the philosophers; and the philosophers soon made
them sensible that the destruction of religion was to supply them with
means of conquest first at home, and then abroad. The philosophers
were the active internal agitators, and supplied the spirit and
principles: the second gave the practical direction. Sometimes the
one predominated in the composition, sometimes the other. The only
difference between them was in the necessity of concealing the general
design for a time, and in their dealing with foreign nations; the
fanatics going straight forward and openly, the politicians by the
surer mode of zigzag. In the course of events this, among other
causes, produced fierce and bloody contentions between them. But at
the bottom they thoroughly agreed in all the objects of ambition and
irreligion, and substantially in all the means of promoting these
ends. Without question, to bring about the unexampled event of the
French Revolution, the concurrence of a very great number of views and
passions was necessary. In that stupendous work, no one principle, by
which the human mind may have its faculties at once invigorated and
depraved, was left unemployed; but I can speak it to a certainty, and
support it by undoubted proofs, that the ruling principle of those who
acted in the Revolution as _statesmen_, had the exterior
aggrandisement of France as their ultimate end in the most minute part
of the internal changes that were made. We, who of late years have
been drawn from an attention to foreign affairs by the importance of
our domestic discussions, cannot easily form a conception of the
general eagerness of the active and energetic part of the French
nation, itself the most active and energetic of all nations, previous
to its Revolution, upon that subject. I am convinced that the foreign
speculators in France, under the old government, were twenty to one of
the same description then or now in England; and few of that
description there were, who did not emulously set forward the
Revolution. The whole official system, particularly in the diplomatic
part, the regulars, the irregulars, down to the clerks in office, (a
corps, without comparison, more numerous than the same amongst us,)
co-operated in it. All the intriguers in foreign politics, all the
spies, all the intelligencers, actually or late in function, all the
candidates for that sort of employment, acted solely upon that

On that system of aggrandisement there was but one mind: but two
violent factions arose about the means. The first wished France,
diverted from the politics of the continent, to attend solely to her
marine, to feed it by an increase of commerce, and thereby to
overpower England on her own element. They contended, that if England
were disabled, the powers on the continent would fall into their
proper subordination; that it was England which deranged the whole
continental system of Europe. The others, who were by far the more
numerous, though not the most outwardly prevalent at court, considered
this plan for France as contrary to her genius, her situation, and her
natural means. They agree as to the ultimate object, the reduction of
the British power, and, if possible, its naval power; but they
considered an ascendency on the continent as a necessary preliminary
to that undertaking. They argued, that the proceedings of England
herself had proved the soundness of this policy. That her greatest and
ablest statesmen had not considered the support of a continental
balance against France as a deviation from the principle of her naval
power, but as one of the most effectual modes of carrying it into
effect. That such had been her policy ever since the Revolution,
during which period the naval strength of Great Britain had gone on
increasing in the direct ratio of her interference in the politics of
the continent. With much stronger reason ought the politics of France
to take the same direction; as well for pursuing objects which her
situation would dictate to her, though England had no existence, as
for counteracting the politics of that nation; to France continental
politics are primary; they looked on them only of secondary
consideration to England, and, however necessary, but as means
necessary to an end.

What is truly astonishing, the partisans of those two opposite systems
were at once prevalent, and at once employed, and in the very same
transactions--the one ostensibly, the other secretly, during the
latter part of the reign of Louis XV. Nor was there one court in which
an ambassador resided on the part of the ministers, in which another,
as a spy on him, did not also reside on the part of the king. They who
pursued the scheme for keeping peace on the continent, and
particularly with Austria, acting officially and publicly, the other
faction counteracting and opposing them. These private agents were
continually going from their function to the Bastile, and from the
Bastile to employment, and favour again. An inextricable cabal was
formed, some of persons of rank, others of subordinates. But by this
means the corps of politicians was augmented in number, and the whole
formed a body of active, adventuring, ambitious, discontented people,
despising the regular ministry, despising the courts at which they
were employed, despising the court which employed them.

The unfortunate Louis the Sixteenth was not the first cause of the
evil by which he suffered. He came to it, as to a sort of inheritance,
by the false politics of his immediate predecessor. This system of
dark and perplexed intrigue had come to its perfection before he came
to the throne: and even then the Revolution strongly operated in all
its causes.

There was no point on which the discontented diplomatic politicians so
bitterly arraigned their cabinet, as for the decay of French influence
in all others. From quarrelling with the court, they began to complain
of monarchy itself, as a system of government too variable for any
regular plan of national aggrandisement. They observed, that in that
sort of regimen too much depended on the personal character of the
prince; that the vicissitudes produced by the succession of princes of
a different character, and even the vicissitudes produced in the same
man, by the different views and inclinations belonging to youth,
manhood, and age, disturbed and distracted the policy of a country
made by nature for extensive empire, or, what was still more to their
taste, for that sort of general over-ruling influence which prepared
empire or supplied the place of it. They had continually in their
hands the observations of _Machiavel_ on _Livy_. They had
_Montesquieu's Grandeur et Décadence des Romains_ as a manual; and
they compared, with mortification, the systematic proceedings of a
Roman senate with the fluctuations of a monarchy. They observed the
very small additions of territory which all the power of France,
actuated by all the ambition of France, had acquired in two centuries.
The Romans had frequently acquired more in a single year. They
severely and in every part of it criticised the reign of Louis XIV.,
whose irregular and desultory ambition had more provoked than
endangered Europe. Indeed, they who will be at the pains of seriously
considering the history of that period will see that those French
politicians had some reason. They who will not take the trouble of
reviewing it through all its wars and all its negotiations, will
consult the short but judicious criticism of the Marquis de
Montalembert on that subject. It may be read separately from his
ingenious system of fortification and military defence, on the
practical merit of which I am unable to form a judgment.

The diplomatic politicians of whom I speak, and who formed by far the
majority in that class, made disadvantageous comparisons even between
their more legal and formalising monarchy, and the monarchies of other
states, as a system of power and influence. They observed that France
not only lost ground herself, but, through the languor and
unsteadiness of her pursuits, and from her aiming through commerce at
naval force which she never could attain without losing more on one
side than she could gain on the other, that three great powers, each
of them (as military states) capable of balancing her, had grown up on
the continent. Russia and Prussia had been created almost within
memory; and Austria, though not a new power, and even curtailed in
territory, was, by the very collision in which she lost that
territory, greatly improved in her military discipline and force.
During the reign of Maria Theresa the interior economy of the country
was made more to correspond with the support of great armies than
formerly it had been. As to Prussia, a merely military power, they
observed that one war had enriched her with as considerable a conquest
as France had acquired in centuries. Russia had broken the Turkish
power by which Austria might be, as formerly she had been, balanced in
favour of France. They felt it with pain, that the two northern powers
of Sweden and Denmark were in general under the sway of Russia; or
that, at best, France kept up a very doubtful conflict, with many
fluctuations of fortune, and at an enormous expense, in Sweden. In
Holland, the French party seemed, if not extinguished, at least
utterly obscured, and kept under by a stadtholder, leaning for support
sometimes on Great Britain, sometimes on Prussia, sometimes on both,
never on France. Even the spreading of the Bourbon family had become
merely a family accommodation; and had little effect on the national
politics. This alliance, they said, extinguished Spain by destroying
all its energy, without adding anything to the real power of France in
the accession of the forces of its great rival. In Italy, the same
family accommodation, the same national insignificance, were equally
visible. What cure for the radical weakness of the French monarchy, to
which all the means which wit could devise, or nature and fortune
could bestow, towards universal empire, was not of force to give life,
or vigour, or consistency,--but in a Republic? Out the word came; and
it never went back.

Whether they reasoned, right or wrong, or that there was some mixture
of right and wrong in their reasoning, I am sure, that in this manner
they felt and reasoned. The different effects of a great military and
ambitious republic, and of a monarchy of the same description, were
constantly in their mouths. The principle was ready to operate when
opportunities should offer, which few of them indeed foresaw in the
extent in which they were afterwards presented; but these
opportunities, in some degree or other, they all ardently wished for.

When I was in Paris in 1773, the treaty of 1756 between Austria and
France was deplored as a national calamity; because it united France
in friendship with a power at whose expense alone they could hope any
continental aggrandisement. When the first partition of Poland was
made, in which France had no share, and which had further aggrandised
every one of the three powers of which they were most jealous, I found
them in a perfect phrensy of rage and indignation: not that they were
hurt at the shocking and uncoloured violence and injustice of that
partition, but at the debility, improvidence, and want of activity, in
their government, in not preventing it as a means of aggrandisement to
their rivals, or in not contriving, by exchanges of some kind or
other, to obtain their share of advantage from that robbery.

In that or nearly in that state of things and of opinions, came the
Austrian match; which promised to draw the knot, as afterwards in
effect it did, still more closely between the old rival houses. This
added exceedingly to their hatred and contempt of their monarchy. It
was for this reason that the late glorious queen, who on all accounts
was formed to produce general love and admiration, and whose life was
as mild and beneficent as her death was beyond example great and
heroic, became so very soon and so very much the object of an
implacable rancour, never to be extinguished but in her blood. When I
wrote my letter in answer to M. de Menonville, in the beginning of
January, 1791, I had good reason for thinking that this description of
revolutionists did not so early nor so steadily point their murderous
designs at the martyr king as at the royal heroine. It was accident,
and the momentary depression of that part of the faction, that gave to
the husband the happy priority in death.

From this their restless desire of an over-ruling influence, they bent
a very great part of their designs and efforts to revive the old
French party, which was a democratic party in Holland, and to make a
revolution there. They were happy at the troubles which the singular
imprudence of Joseph the Second had stirred up in the Austrian
Netherlands. They rejoiced when they saw him irritate his subjects,
profess philosophy, send away the Dutch garrisons, and dismantle his
fortifications. As to Holland, they never forgave either the king or
the ministry, for suffering that object, which they justly looked on
as principal in their design of reducing the power of England, to
escape out of their hands. This was the true secret of the commercial
treaty, made, on their part, against all the old rules and principles
of commerce, with a view of diverting the English nation, by a pursuit
of immediate profit, from an attention to the progress of France in
its designs upon that republic. The system of the economists, which
led to the general opening of commerce, facilitated that treaty, but
did not produce it. They were in despair when they found that by the
vigour of Mr. Pitt, supported in this point by Mr. Fox and the
opposition, the object to which they had sacrificed their manufactures
was lost to their ambition.

This eager desire of raising France from the condition into which she
had fallen, as they conceived, from her monarchical imbecility, had
been the main-spring of their precedent interference in that unhappy
American quarrel, the bad effects of which to this nation have not, as
yet, fully disclosed themselves. These sentiments had been long
lurking in their breasts, though their views were only discovered now
and then, in heat and as by escapes; but on this occasion they
exploded suddenly. They were professed with ostentation and propagated
with zeal. These sentiments were not produced, as some think, by
their American alliance. The American alliance was produced by their
republican principles and republican policy. This new relation
undoubtedly did much. The discourses and cabals that it produced, the
intercourse that it established, and, above all, the example, which
made it seem practicable to establish a republic in a great extent of
country, finished the work, and gave to that part of the revolutionary
faction a degree of strength which required other energies than the
late king possessed, to resist, or even to restrain. It spread
everywhere; but it was nowhere more prevalent than in the heart of the
court. The palace of Versailles, by its language, seemed a forum of
democracy. To have pointed out to most of those politicians, from
their dispositions and movements, what has since happened, the fall of
their own monarchy, of their own laws, of their own religion, would
have been to furnish a motive the more for pushing forward a system on
which they considered all these things as encumbrances. Such in truth
they were. And we have seen them succeed not only in the destruction
of their monarchy, but in all the objects of ambition that they
proposed from that destruction. When I contemplate the scheme on which
France is formed, and when I compare it with these systems, with which
it is, and ever must be, in conflict, those things which seem as
defects in her polity are the very things which make me tremble. The
states of the Christian world have grown up to their present
magnitude in a great length of time, and by a great variety of
accidents. They have been improved to what we see them with greater or
less degrees of felicity and skill. Not one of them has been formed
upon a regular plan or with any unity of design. As their
constitutions are not systematical, they have not been directed to any
_peculiar_ end, eminently distinguished, and superseding every other.
The objects which they embrace are of the greatest possible variety,
and have become in a manner infinite. In all these old countries the
state has been made to the people, and not the people conformed to the
state. Every state has pursued not only every sort of social
advantage, but it has cultivated the welfare of every individual. His
wants, his wishes, even his tastes, have been consulted. This
comprehensive scheme virtually produced a degree of personal liberty
in forms the most adverse to it. That liberty was found, under
monarchies styled absolute, in a degree unknown to the ancient
commonwealths. From hence the powers of all our modern states meet, in
all their movements, with some obstruction. It is therefore no wonder,
that, when these states are to be considered as machines to operate
for some one great end, this dissipated and balanced force is not
easily concentred, or made to bear with the whole force of the nation
upon one point.

The British state is, without question, that which pursues the
greatest variety of ends, and is the least disposed to sacrifice any
one of them to another, or to the whole. It aims at taking in the
entire circle of human desires, and securing for them their fair
enjoyment. Our legislature has been ever closely connected, in its
most efficient part, with individual feeling, and individual interest.
Personal liberty, the most lively of these feelings and the most
important of these interests, which in other European countries has
rather arisen from the system of manners and the habitudes of life
than from the laws of the state, (in which it flourished more from
neglect than attention,) in England has been a direct object of

On this principle England would be the weakest power in the whole
system. Fortunately, however, the great riches of this kingdom,
arising from a variety of causes, and the disposition of the people,
which is as great to spend as to accumulate, has easily afforded a
disposable surplus that gives a mighty momentum to the state. This
difficulty, with these advantages to overcome it, has called forth the
talents of the English financiers, who, by the surplus of industry
poured out by prodigality, have outdone everything which has been
accomplished in other nations. The present minister has outdone his
predecessors; and, as a minister of revenue, is far above my power of
praise. But still there are cases in which England feels more than
several others (though they all feel) the perplexity of an immense
body of balanced advantages, and of individual demands, and of some
irregularity in the whole mass.

France differs essentially from all those governments, which are
formed without system, which exist by habit, and which are confused
with the multitude, and with the complexity of their pursuits. What
now stands as government in France is struck out at a heat. The design
is wicked, immoral, impious, oppressive; but it is spirited and
daring; it is systematic; it is simple in its principle; it has unity
and consistency in perfection. In that country entirely to cut off a
branch of commerce, to extinguish a manufacture, to destroy the
circulation of money, to violate credit, to suspend the course of
agriculture, even to burn a city, or to lay waste a province of their
own, does not cost them a moment's anxiety. To them the will, the
wish, the want, the liberty, the toil, the blood of individuals, is as
nothing. Individuality is left out of their scheme of government. The
state is all in all. Everything is referred to the production of
force; afterwards, everything is trusted to the use of it. It is
military in its principle, in its maxims, in its spirit, and in all
its movements. The state has dominion and conquest for its sole
objects; dominion over minds by proselytism, over bodies by arms.

Thus constituted, with an immense body of natural means which are
lessened in their amount only to be increased in their effect, France
has, since the accomplishment of the Revolution, a complete unity in
its direction. It has destroyed every resource of the state which
depends upon opinion and the good-will of individuals. The riches of
convention disappear. The advantages of nature in some measure remain:
even these, I admit, are astonishingly lessened; the command over what
remains is complete and absolute. We go about asking when assignats
will expire, and we laugh at the last price of them. But what
signifies the fate of those tickets of despotism? The despotism will
find despotic means of supply. They have found the short cut to the
productions of nature, while others, in pursuit of them, are obliged
to wind through the labyrinth of a very intricate state of society.
They seize upon the fruit of the labour; they seize upon the labourer
himself. Were France but half of what it is in population, in
compactness, in applicability of its force, situated as it is, and
being what it is, it would be too strong for most of the states of
Europe, constituted as they are, and proceeding as they proceed. Would
it be wise to estimate what the world of Europe, as well as the world
of Asia, had to dread from Genghiz Khân, upon a contemplation of the
resources of the cold and barren spot in the remotest Tartary, from
whence first issued that scourge of the human race? Ought we to judge
from the excise and stamp duties of the rocks, or from the paper
circulation of the sands of Arabia, the power by which Mahomet and his
tribes laid hold at once on the two most powerful empires of the
world; beat one of them totally to the ground, broke to pieces the
other, and, in not much longer space of time than I have lived,
overturned governments, laws, manners, religion, and extended an
empire from the Indus to the Pyrenees?

Material resources never have supplied, nor ever can supply, the want
of unity in design, and constancy in pursuit. But unity in design, and
perseverance and boldness in pursuit, have never wanted resources, and
never will. We have not considered as we ought the dreadful energy of
a state in which the property has nothing to do with the government.
Reflect, my dear Sir, reflect again and again, on a government, in
which the property is in complete subjection, and where nothing rules
but the mind of desperate men. The condition of a commonwealth not
governed by its property was a combination of things which the learned
and ingenious speculator Harrington, who has tossed about society into
all forms, never could imagine to be possible. We have seen it; the
world has felt it; and if the world will shut their eyes to this state
of things, they will feel it more. The rulers there have found their
resources in crimes. The discovery is dreadful; the mine exhaustless.
They have everything to gain, and they have nothing to lose. They have
a boundless inheritance in hope; and there is no medium for them,
betwixt the highest elevation, and death with infamy. Never can they,
who; from the miserable servitude of the desk, have been raised to
empire, again submit to the bondage of a starving bureau, or the
profit of copying music, or writing plaidoyers by the sheet. It has
made me often smile in bitterness, when I have heard talk of an
indemnity to such men, provided they return to their allegiance.

From all this, what is my inference? It is, that this new system of
robbery in France cannot be rendered safe by any art; that it _must_
be destroyed, or that it will destroy all Europe; that to destroy that
enemy, by some means or other, the force opposed to it should be made
to bear some analogy and resemblance to the force and spirit which
that system exerts; that war ought to be made against it, in its
vulnerable parts. These are my inferences. In one word, with this
republic nothing independent can co-exist The errors of Louis XVI.
were more pardonable to prudence, than any of those of the same kind
into which the allied courts may fall. They have the benefit of his
dreadful example.

The unhappy Louis XVI. was a man of the best intentions that probably
ever reigned. He was by no means deficient in talents. He had a most
laudable desire to supply by general reading, and even by the
acquisition of elemental knowledge, an education in all points
originally defective; but nobody told him, (and it was no wonder he
should not himself divine it,) that the world of which he read, and
the world in which he lived, were no longer the same. Desirous of
doing everything for the best, fearful of cabal, distrusting his own
judgment, he sought his ministers of all kinds upon public testimony.
But as courts are the field for caballers, the public is the theatre
for mountebanks and impostors. The cure for both those evils is in the
discernment of the prince. But an accurate and penetrating discernment
is what in a young prince could not be looked for.

His conduct in its principle was not unwise; but, like most other of
his well-meant designs, it failed in his hands. It failed partly from
mere ill-fortune, to which speculators are rarely pleased to assign
that very large share to which she is justly entitled in all human
affairs. The failure, perhaps, in part was owing to his suffering his
system to be vitiated and disturbed by those intrigues, which it is,
humanly speaking, impossible wholly to prevent in courts, or indeed
under any form of government. However, with these aberrations, he gave
himself over to a succession of the statesmen of public opinion. In
other things he thought that he might be a king on the terms of his
predecessors. He was conscious of the purity of his heart and the
general good tendency of his government. He flattered himself, as most
men in his situation will, that he might consult his ease without
danger to his safety. It is not at all wonderful that both he and his
ministers, giving way abundantly in other respects to innovation,
should take up in policy with the tradition of their monarchy. Under
his ancestors the monarchy had subsisted, and even been strengthened,
by the generation or support of republics. First, the Swiss republics
grew under the guardianship of the French monarchy. The Dutch
republics were hatched and cherished under the same incubation.
Afterwards, a republican constitution was, under the influence of
France, established in the empire against the pretensions of its
chief. Even whilst the monarchy of France, by a series of wars and
negotiations, and lastly by the treaties of Westphalia, had obtained
the establishment of the Protestants in Germany as a law of the
empire, the same monarchy under Louis XIII. had force enough to
destroy the republican system of the Protestants at home.

Louis XVI. was a diligent reader of history. But the very lamp of
prudence blinded him. The guide of human life led him astray. A silent
revolution in the moral world preceded the political, and prepared it.
It became of more importance than ever what examples were given, and
what measures were adopted. Their causes no longer lurked in the
recesses of cabinets, or in the private conspiracies of the factious.
They were no longer to be controlled by the force and influence of the
grandees, who formerly had been able to stir up troubles by their
discontents, and to quiet them by their corruption. The chain of
subordination, even in cabal and sedition, was broken in its most
important links. It was no longer the great and the populace. Other
interests were formed, other dependencies, other connexions, other
communications. The middle classes had swelled far beyond their former
proportion. Like whatever is the most effectively rich and great in
society, these classes became the seat of all the active politics; and
the preponderating weight to decide on them. There were all the
energies by which fortune is acquired; there the consequence of their
success. There were all the talents which assert their pretensions,
and are impatient of the place which settled society prescribes to
them. These descriptions had got between the great and the populace;
and the influence on the lower classes was with them. The spirit of
ambition had taken possession of this class as violently as ever it
had done of any other. They felt the importance of this situation. The
correspondence of the monied and the mercantile world, the literary
intercourse of academies, but, above all, the press, of which they
had in a manner entire possession, made a kind of electric
communication everywhere. The press in reality has made every
government, in its spirit, almost democratic. Without it the great,
the first movements in this Revolution could not, perhaps, have been
given. But the spirit of ambition, now for the first time connected
with the spirit of speculation, was not to be restrained at will.
There was no longer any means of arresting a principle in its course.
When Louis XVI., under the influence of the enemies to monarchy, meant
to found but one republic, he set up two. When he meant to take away
half the crown of his neighbour, he lost the whole of his own. Louis
XVI. could not with impunity countenance a new republic: yet between
his throne and that dangerous lodgment for an enemy, which he had
erected, he had the whole Atlantic for a ditch. He had for an out-work
the English nation itself, friendly to liberty, adverse to that mode
of it. He was surrounded by a rampart of monarchies, most of them
allied to him, and generally under his influence. Yet even thus
secured, a republic erected under his auspices, and dependent on his
power, became fatal to his throne. The very money which he had lent to
support this republic, by a good faith, which to him operated as
perfidy, was punctually paid to his enemies, and became a resource in
the hands of his assassins.

With this example before their eyes, do any ministers in England, do
any ministers in Austria, really flatter themselves that they can
erect, not on the remote shores of the Atlantic, but in their view, in
their vicinity, in absolute contact with one of them, not a commercial
but a martial republic--a republic not of simple husbandmen or
fishermen, but of intriguers, and of warriors--a republic of a
character the most restless, the most enterprising, the most impious,
the most fierce and bloody, the most hypocritical and perfidious, the
most bold and daring, that ever has been seen, or indeed that can be
conceived to exist, without bringing on their own certain ruin?

Such is the republic to which we are going to give a place in
civilised fellowship: the republic, which, with joint consent, we are
going to establish in the centre of Europe, in a post that overlooks
and commands every other state, and which eminently confronts and
menaces this kingdom.

You cannot fail to observe that I speak as if the allied powers were
actually consenting, and not compelled by events to the establishment
of this faction in France. The words have not escaped me. You will
hereafter naturally expect that I should make them good. But whether
in adopting this measure we are madly active, or weakly passive, or
pusillanimously panic struck, the effects will be the same. You may
call this faction, which has eradicated the monarchy,--expelled the
proprietary, persecuted religion, and trampled upon law,--you may call
this France if you please: but of the ancient France nothing remains
but its central geography; its iron frontier; its spirit of ambition;
its audacity of enterprise; its perplexing intrigue. These, and these
alone, remain: and they remain heightened in their principle and
augmented in their means. All the former correctives, whether of
virtue or of weakness, which existed in the old monarchy, are gone. No
single new corrective is to be found in the whole body of the new
institutions. How should such a thing be found there, when everything
has been chosen with care and selection to forward all those ambitious
designs and dispositions, not to control them? The whole is a body of
ways and means for the supply of dominion, without one heterogeneous
particle in it.

Here I suffer you to breathe, and leave to your meditation what has
occurred to me on the _genius and character_ of the French Revolution.
From having this before us, we may be better able to determine on the
first question I proposed, that is, how far nations, called foreign,
are likely to be affected with the system established within that
territory. I intended to proceed next on the question of her
facilities, from _the internal state of other nations, and
particularly of this_, for obtaining her ends: but I ought to be
aware that my notions are controverted.--I mean, therefore, in my next
letter, to take notice of what, in that way, has been recommended to
me as the most deserving of notice. In the examination of those
pieces, I shall have occasion to discuss some others of the topics to
which I have called your attention. You know that the letters which I
now send to the press, as well as a part of what is to follow, have
been in their substance long since written. A circumstance which your
partiality alone could make of importance to you, but which to the
public is of no importance at all, retarded their appearance. The late
events which press upon us obliged me to make some additions; but no
substantial change in the matter.

This discussion, my friend, will be long. But the matter is serious;
and if ever the fate of the world could be truly said to depend on a
particular measure, it is upon this peace. For the present, farewell.




(_The pamphleteering spirit is strong in almost all Sydney Smith's
'Contributions to the _Edinburgh Review_,' but the form and subjects
of those contributions exclude them here. Of his two great pamphlet
issues proper, _Peter Plymley's Letters_ and those _To Archdeacon
Singleton_, the former are, though perhaps of less polished and
perfect wit than the latter, more distinctly political, and have more
of that _diable au corps_ which Voltaire considered necessary to
success in the arts. They have also the advantage that, while the
_Letters to Archdeacon Singleton_, though not an avowed recantation,
are in the nature of a palinode--always an awkward thing--_Plymley_ is
frankly and confidently, not to say wantonly, aggressive. These
_Letters_, ten in number, were written just after the fall of the
mainly Whig Ministry of 'All the Talents,' to which Sydney had been
indebted for his preferment of Foston, and which lost its position
not least owing to its intended support of the 'Catholic' claims.
Those claims were not admitted for twenty years later; and Sydney's
advocacy of them was regarded as a little too exuberant by some even
of his own party. But there is no doubt that the _Letters_ had a great
influence in laughing if not in arguing sections of the public round
to the Emancipation side._)


Dear Abraham--The Catholic not respect an oath! why not? What upon
earth has kept him out of Parliament, or excluded him from all the
offices whence he is excluded, but his respect for oaths? There is no
law which prohibits a Catholic to sit in Parliament. There could be no
such law; because it is impossible to find out what passes in the
interior of any man's mind. Suppose it were in contemplation to
exclude all men from certain offices who contended for the legality of
taking tithes: the only mode of discovering that fervid love of
decimation which I know you to possess would be to tender you an oath
"against that damnable doctrine, that it is lawful for a spiritual man
to take, abstract, appropriate, subduct, or lead away the tenth calf,
sheep, lamb, ox, pigeon, duck," etc., etc., etc., and every other
animal that ever existed, which of course the lawyers would take care
to enumerate. Now this oath I am sure you would rather die than take;
and so the Catholic is excluded from Parliament because he will not
swear that he disbelieves the leading doctrines of his religion! The
Catholic asks you to abolish some oaths which oppress him; your answer
is that he does not respect oaths. Then why subject him to the test of
oaths? The oaths keep him out of Parliament; why, then, he respects
them. Turn which way you will, either your laws are nugatory, or the
Catholic is bound by religious obligations as you are; but no eel in
the well-sanded fist of a cook-maid, upon the eve of being skinned,
ever twisted and writhed as an orthodox parson does when he is
compelled by the gripe of reason to admit anything in favour of a

I will not dispute with you whether the Pope be or be not the Scarlet
Lady of Babylon. I hope it is not so; because I am afraid it will
induce His Majesty's Chancellor of the Exchequer to introduce several
severe bills against popery, if that is the case; and though he will
have the decency to appoint a previous committee of inquiry as to the
fact, the committee will be garbled, and the report inflammatory.
Leaving this to be settled as he pleases to settle it, I wish to
inform you, that, previously to the bill last passed in favour of the
Catholics, at the suggestion of Mr. Pitt, and for his satisfaction,
the opinions of six of the most celebrated of the foreign Catholic
universities were taken as to the right of the Pope to interfere in
the temporal concerns of any country. The answer cannot possibly leave
the shadow of a doubt, even in the mind of Baron Maseres; and Dr.
Rennel would be compelled to admit it, if three Bishops lay dead at
the very moment the question were put to him. To this answer might be
added also the solemn declaration and signature of all the Catholics
in Great Britain.

I should perfectly agree with you, if the Catholics admitted such a
dangerous dispensing power in the hands of the Pope; but they all deny
it, and laugh at it, and are ready to abjure it in the most decided
manner you can devise. They obey the Pope as the spiritual head of
their Church; but are you really so foolish as to be imposed upon by
mere names? What matters it the seven-thousandth part of a farthing
who is the spiritual head of any Church? Is not Mr. Wilberforce at the
head of the Church of Clapham? Is not Dr. Letsom at the head of the
Quaker Church? Is not the General Assembly at the head of the Church
of Scotland? How is the government disturbed by these many-headed
Churches? or in what way is the power of the Crown augmented by this
almost nominal dignity?

The King appoints a fast-day once a year, and he makes the bishops:
and if the government would take half the pains to keep the Catholics
out of the arms of France that it does to widen Temple Bar, or
improve Snow Hill, the King would get into his hands the appointments
of the titular Bishops of Ireland. Both Mr. C----'s sisters enjoy
pensions more than sufficient to place the two greatest dignitaries of
the Irish Catholic Church entirely at the disposal of the Crown.
Everybody who knows Ireland knows perfectly well, that nothing would
be easier, with the expenditure of a little money, than to preserve
enough of the ostensible appointment in the hands of the Pope to
satisfy the scruples of the Catholics, while the real nomination
remained with the Crown. But, as I have before said, the moment the
very name of Ireland is mentioned, the English seem to bid adieu to
common feeling, common prudence, and common sense, and to act with the
barbarity of tyrants and the fatuity of idiots.

Whatever your opinion may be of the follies of the Roman Catholic
religion, remember they are the follies of four millions of human
beings, increasing rapidly in numbers, wealth, and intelligence, who,
if firmly united with this country, would set at defiance the power of
France, and if once wrested from their alliance with England, would in
three years render its existence as an independent nation absolutely
impossible. You speak of danger to the Establishment: I request to
know when the Establishment was ever so much in danger as when Hoche
was in Bantry Bay, and whether all the books of Bossuet, or the arts
of the Jesuits, were half so terrible? Mr. Perceval and his parsons
forget all this, in their horror lest twelve or fourteen old women may
be converted to holy water and Catholic nonsense. They never see that,
while they are saving these venerable ladies from perdition, Ireland
may be lost, England broken down, and the Protestant Church, with all
its deans, prebendaries, Percevals, and Rennels, be swept into the
vortex of oblivion.

Do not, I beseech you, ever mention to me again the name of Dr.
Duigenan. I have been in every corner of Ireland, and have studied its
present strength and condition with no common labour. Be assured
Ireland does not contain at this moment less than five millions of
people. There were returned in the year 1791 to the hearth tax 701,000
houses, and there is no kind of question that there were about 50,000
houses omitted in that return. Taking, however, only the number
returned for the tax, and allowing the average of six to a house (a
very small average for a potato-fed people), this brings the
population to 4,200,000 people in the year 1791: and it can be shown
from the clearest evidence (and Mr. Newenham in his book shows it),
that Ireland for the last fifty years has increased in its population
at the rate of 50 or 60,000 per annum; which leaves the present
population of Ireland at about five millions, after every possible
deduction for _existing circumstances, just and necessary wars,
monstrous and unnatural rebellions_, and all other sources of human
destruction. Of this population, two out of ten are Protestants; and
the half of the Protestant population are Dissenters, and as inimical
to the Church as the Catholics themselves. In this state of things
thumbscrews and whipping--admirable engines of policy as they must be
considered to be--will not ultimately avail. The Catholics will hang
over you; they will watch for the moment, and compel you hereafter to
give them ten times as much, against your will, as they would now be
contented with, if it were voluntarily surrendered. Remember what
happened in the American war, when Ireland compelled you to give her
everything she asked, and to renounce, in the most explicit manner,
your claim of Sovereignty over her. God Almighty grant the folly of
these present men may not bring on such another crisis of public

What are your dangers which threaten the Establishment?--Reduce this
declamation to a point, and let us understand what you mean. The most
ample allowance does not calculate that there would be more than
twenty members who were Roman Catholics in one house, and ten in the
other, if the Catholic emancipation were carried into effect. Do you
mean that these thirty members would bring in a bill to take away the
tithes from the Protestant, and to pay them to the Catholic clergy? Do
you mean that a Catholic general would march his army into the House
of Commons, and purge it of Mr. Perceval and Dr. Duigenan? or, that
the theological writers would become all of a sudden more acute or
more learned, if the present civil incapacities were removed? Do you
fear for your tithes, or your doctrines, or your person, or the
English Constitution? Every fear, taken separately, is so glaringly
absurd, that no man has the folly or the boldness to state it. Every
one conceals his ignorance, or his baseness, in a stupid general
panic, which, when called on, he is utterly incapable of explaining.
Whatever you think of the Catholics, there they are--you cannot get
rid of them; your alternative is to give them a lawful place for
stating their grievances, or an unlawful one: if you do not admit them
to the House of Commons, they will hold their parliament in Potatoe
Place, Dublin, and be ten times as violent and inflammatory as they
would be in Westminster. Nothing would give me such an idea of
security as to see twenty or thirty Catholic gentlemen in Parliament,
looked upon by all the Catholics as the fair and proper organ of their
party. I should have thought it the height of good fortune that such a
wish existed on their part, and the very essence of madness and
ignorance to reject it. Can you murder the Catholics? Can you neglect
them? They are too numerous for both these expedients. What remains to
be done is obvious to every human being--but to that man who, instead
of being a Methodist preacher, is, for the curse of us and our
children, and for the ruin of Troy and the misery of good old Priam
and his sons, become a legislator and a politician.

A distinction, I perceive, is taken by one of the most feeble noblemen
in Great Britain, between persecution and the deprivation of political
power; whereas, there is no more distinction between these two things
than there is between him who makes the distinction and a booby. If I
strip off the relic-covered jacket of a Catholic, and give him twenty
stripes ... I persecute; if I say, Everybody in the town where you
live shall be a candidate for lucrative and honourable offices, but
you, who are a Catholic ... I do not persecute! What barbarous
nonsense is this! as if degradation was not as great an evil as bodily
pain or as severe poverty: as if I could not be as great a tyrant by
saying, You shall not enjoy--as by saying, You shall suffer. The
English, I believe, are as truly religious as any nation in Europe: I
know no greater blessing; but it carries with it this evil in its
train, that any villain who will bawl out, '_The Church is in
danger!_' may get a place and a good pension; and that any
administration who will do the same thing may bring a set of men into
power who, at a moment of stationary and passive piety, would be
hooted by the very boys in the streets. But it is not all religion; it
is, in great part, the narrow and exclusive spirit which delights to
keep the common blessings of sun and air and freedom from other human
beings. 'Your religion has always been degraded; you are in the dust,
and I will take care you never rise again. I should enjoy less the
possession of an earthly good by every additional person to whom it
was extended.' You may not be aware of it yourself, most reverend
Abraham, but you deny their freedom to the Catholics upon the same
principle that Sarah your wife refuses to give the receipt for a ham
or a gooseberry dumpling: she values her receipts, not because they
secure to her a certain flavour, but because they remind her that her
neighbours want it:--a feeling laughable in a priestess, shameful in a
priest; venial when it withholds the blessings of a ham, tyrannical
and execrable when it narrows the boon of religious freedom.

You spend a great deal of ink about the character of the present prime
minister. Grant you all that you write--I say, I fear he will ruin
Ireland, and pursue a line of policy destructive to the true interest
of his country: and then you tell me, he is faithful to Mrs. Perceval,
and kind to the Master Percevals! These are, undoubtedly, the first
qualifications to be looked to in a time of the most serious public
danger; but somehow or another (if public and private virtues must
always be incompatible), I should prefer that he destroyed the
domestic happiness of Wood or Cockell, owed for the veal of the
preceding year, whipped his boys, and saved his country.

The late administration did not do right; they did not build their
measures upon the solid basis of facts. They should have caused
several Catholics to have been dissected after death by surgeons of
either religion; and the report to have been published with
accompanying plates. If the viscera, and other organs of life, had
been found to be the same as in Protestant bodies; if the provisions
of nerves, arteries, cerebrum, and cerebellum, had been the same as we
are provided with, or as the Dissenters are now known to possess;
then, indeed, they might have met Mr. Perceval upon a proud eminence,
and convinced the country at large of the strong probability that the
Catholics are really human creatures, endowed with the feelings of
men, and entitled to all their rights. But instead of this wise and
prudent measure, Lord Howick, with his usual precipitation, brings
forward a bill in their favour, without offering the slightest proof
to the country that they were anything more than horses and oxen. The
person who shows the lama at the corner of Piccadilly has the
precaution to write up--_Allowed by Sir Joseph Banks to be a real
quadruped_, so his Lordship might have said--_Allowed by the bench of
Bishops to be real human creatures_.... I could write you twenty
letters upon this subject; but I am tired, and so I suppose are you.
Our friendship is now of forty years' standing; you know me to be a
truly religious man; but I shudder to see religion treated like a
cockade, or a pint of beer, and made the instrument of a party. I love
the king, but I love the people as well as the king; and if I am sorry
to see his old age molested, I am much more sorry to see four millions
of Catholics baffled in their just expectations. If I love Lord
Grenville, and Lord Howick, it is because they love their country; if
I abhor ... it is because I know there is but one man among them who
is not laughing at the enormous folly and credulity of the country,
and that he is an ignorant and mischievous bigot. As for the light and
frivolous jester, of whom it is your misfortune to think so highly,
learn, my dear Abraham, that this political Killigrew, just before the
breaking-up of the last administration, was in actual treaty with them
for a place; and if they had survived twenty-four hours longer, he
would have been now declaiming against the cry of No Popery! instead
of inflaming it. With this practical comment on the baseness of human
nature, I bid you adieu!


Dear Abraham--What amuses me the most is to hear of the _indulgences_
which the Catholics have received, and their exorbitance in not being
satisfied with those indulgences: now if you complain to me that a
man is obtrusive and shameless in his requests, and that it is
impossible to bring him to reason, I must first of all hear the whole
of your conduct towards him; for you may have taken from him so much
in the first instance that, in spite of a long series of restitution,
a vast latitude for petition may still remain behind.

There is a village, no matter where, in which the inhabitants, on one
day in the year, sit down to a dinner prepared at the common expense:
by an extraordinary piece of tyranny, which Lord Hawkesbury would call
the wisdom of the village ancestors, the inhabitants of three of the
streets, about a hundred years ago, seized upon the inhabitants of the
fourth street, bound them hand and foot, laid them upon their backs,
and compelled them to look on while the rest were stuffing themselves
with beef and beer; the next year the inhabitants of the persecuted
street, though they contributed an equal quota of the expense, were
treated precisely in the same manner. The tyranny grew into a custom;
and, as the manner of our nature is, it was considered as the most
sacred of all duties to keep these poor fellows without their annual
dinner. The village was so tenacious of this practice, that nothing
could induce them to resign it; every enemy to it was looked upon as a
disbeliever in Divine Providence, and any nefarious churchwarden who
wished to succeed in his election had nothing to do but to represent
his antagonist as an abolitionist, in order to frustrate his ambition,
endanger his life, and throw the village into a state of the most
dreadful commotion. By degrees, however, the obnoxious street grew to
be so well peopled, and its inhabitants so firmly united, that their
oppressors, more afraid of injustice, were more disposed to be just.
At the next dinner they are unbound, the year after allowed to sit
upright, then a bit of bread and a glass of water; till at last, after
a long series of concessions, they are emboldened to ask, in pretty
plain terms, that they may be allowed to sit down at the bottom of the
table, and to fill their bellies as well as the rest. Forthwith a
general cry of shame and scandal: 'Ten years ago, were you not laid
upon your backs? Don't you remember what a great thing you thought it
to get a piece of bread? How thankful you were for cheese parings?
Have you forgotten that memorable era, when the lord of the manor
interfered to obtain for you a slice of the public pudding? And now,
with an audacity only equalled by your ingratitude, you have the
impudence to ask for knives and forks, and to request, in terms too
plain to be mistaken, that you may sit down to table with the rest,
and be indulged even with beef and beer: there are not more than half
a dozen dishes which we have reserved for ourselves; the rest has been
thrown open to you in the utmost profusion; you have potatoes, and
carrots, suet dumplings, sops in the pan, and delicious toast and
water in incredible quantities. Beef, mutton, lamb, pork, and veal are
ours; and if you were not the most restless and dissatisfied of human
beings, you would never think of aspiring to enjoy them.'

Is not this, my dainty Abraham, the very nonsense and the very insult
which is talked to and practised upon the Catholics? You are surprised
that men who have tasted of partial justice should ask for perfect
justice; that he who has been robbed of coat and cloak will not be
contented with the restitution of one of his garments. He would be a
very lazy blockhead if he were content, and I (who, though an
inhabitant of the village, have preserved, thank God, some sense of
justice) most earnestly counsel these half-fed claimants to persevere
in their just demands, till they are admitted to a more complete share
of a dinner for which they pay as much as the others; and if they see
a little attenuated lawyer squabbling at the head of their opponents,
let them desire him to empty his pockets, and to pull out all the
pieces of duck, fowl, and pudding which he has filched from the public
feast, to carry home to his wife and children.

You parade a great deal upon the vast concessions made by this country
to the Irish before the Union. I deny that any voluntary concession
was ever made by England to Ireland. What did Ireland ever ask that
was granted? What did she ever demand that was not refused? How did
she get her Mutiny Bill--a limited Parliament--a repeal of Poyning's
Law--a constitution? Not by the concessions of England, but by her
fears. When Ireland asked for all these things upon her knees, her
petitions were rejected with Percevalism and contempt; when she
demanded them with the voice of 60,000 armed men, they were granted
with every mark of consternation and dismay. Ask of Lord Auckland the
fatal consequences of trifling with such a people as the Irish. He
himself was the organ of these refusals. As secretary to the Lord
Lieutenant, the insolence and the tyranny of this country passed
through his hands. Ask him if he remembers the consequences. Ask him
if he has forgotten that memorable evening when he came down booted
and mantled to the House of Commons, when he told the House he was
about to set off for Ireland that night, and declared before God, if
he did not carry with him a compliance with all their demands, Ireland
was for ever lost to this country. The present generation have
forgotten this; but I have not forgotten it; and I know, hasty and
undignified as the submission of England then was, that Lord Auckland
was right, that the delay of a single day might very probably have
separated the two peoples for ever. The terms submission and fear are
galling terms when applied from the lesser nation to the greater; but
it is the plain historical truth, it is the natural consequence of
injustice, it is the predicament in which every country places itself
which leaves such a mass of hatred and discontent by its side. No
empire is powerful enough to endure it; it would exhaust the strength
of China, and sink it with all its mandarins and tea-kettles to the
bottom of the deep. By refusing them justice now when you are strong
enough to refuse them anything more than justice, you will act over
again, with the Catholics, the same scene of mean and precipitate
submission which disgraced you before America, and before the
volunteers of Ireland. We shall live to hear the Hampstead Protestant
pronouncing such extravagant panegyrics upon holy water, and paying
such fulsome compliments to the thumbs and offals of departed saints,
that parties will change sentiments, and Lord Henry Petty and Sam
Whitbread take a spell at No Popery. The wisdom of Mr. Fox was alike
employed in teaching his country justice when Ireland was weak, and
dignity when Ireland was strong. We are fast pacing round the same
miserable circle of ruin and imbecility. Alas! where is our guide?

You say that Ireland is a millstone about our necks; that it would be
better for us if Ireland were sunk at the bottom of the sea; that the
Irish are a nation of irreclaimable savages and barbarians. How often
have I heard these sentiments fall from the plump and thoughtless
squire, and from the thriving English shopkeeper, who has never felt
the rod of an Orange master upon his back. Ireland a millstone about
your neck! Why is it not a stone of Ajax in your hand? I agree with
you most cordially that, governed as Ireland now is, it would be a
vast accession of strength if the waves of the sea were to rise and
engulf her to-morrow. At this moment, opposed as we are to all the
world, the annihilation of one of the most fertile islands on the face
of the globe, containing five millions of human creatures, would be
one of the most solid advantages which could happen to this country. I
doubt very much, in spite of all the just abuse which has been
lavished upon Bonaparte, whether there is any one of his conquered
countries the blotting out of which would be as beneficial to him as
the destruction of Ireland would be to us: of countries I speak
differing in language from the French, little habituated to their
intercourse, and inflamed with all the resentments of a recently
conquered people. Why will you attribute the turbulence of our people
to any cause but the right--to any cause but your own scandalous
oppression? If you tie your horse up to a gate, and beat him cruelly,
is he vicious because he kicks you? If you have plagued and worried a
mastiff dog for years, is he mad because he flies at you whenever he
sees you? Hatred is an active, troublesome passion. Depend upon it,
whole nations have always some reason for their hatred. Before you
refer the turbulence of the Irish to incurable defects in their
character, tell me if you have treated them as friends and equals?
Have you protected their commerce? Have you respected their religion?
Have you been as anxious for their freedom as your own? Nothing of all
this. What then? Why you have confiscated the territorial surface of
the country twice over: you have massacred and exported her
inhabitants: you have deprived four-fifths of them of every civil
privilege: you have at every period made her commerce and manufactures
slavishly subordinate to your own: and yet the hatred which the Irish
bear to you is the result of an original turbulence of character, and
of a primitive, obdurate wildness, utterly incapable of civilisation.
The embroidered inanities and the sixth-form effusions of Mr. Canning
are really not powerful enough to make me believe this; nor is there
any authority on earth (always excepting the Dean of Christ Church)
which could make it credible to me. I am sick of Mr. Canning. There is
not a 'ha'porth of bread to all this sugar and sack.' I love not the
cretaceous and incredible countenance of his colleague. The only
opinion in which I agree with these two gentlemen is that which they
entertain of each other. I am sure that the insolence of Mr. Pitt, and
the unbalanced accounts of Melville, were far better than the perils
of this new ignorance:--

    Nonne fuit satiùs, tristes Amaryllidis iras
    Atque superba pati fastidia? nonne Menalcan?
    Quamvis ille _niger_?

In the midst of the most profound peace, the secret articles of the
Treaty of Tilsit, in which the destruction of Ireland is resolved
upon, induce you to rob the Danes of their fleet. After the expedition
sailed comes the Treaty of Tilsit, containing no article, public or
private, alluding to Ireland. The state of the world, you tell me,
justified us in doing this. Just God! do we think only of the state of
the world when there is an opportunity for robbery, for murder, and
for plunder; and do we forget the state of the world when we are
called upon to be wise, and good, and just? Does the state of the
world never remind us that we have four millions of subjects whose
injuries we ought to atone for, and whose affections we ought to
conciliate? Does the state of the world never warn us to lay aside our
infernal bigotry, and to arm every man who acknowledges a God, and can
grasp a sword? Did it never occur to this administration that they
might virtuously get hold of a force ten times greater than the force
of the Danish fleet? Was there no other way of protecting Ireland but
by bringing eternal shame upon Great Britain, and by making the earth
a den of robbers? See what the men whom you have supplanted would have
done. They would have rendered the invasion of Ireland impossible, by
restoring to the Catholics their long-lost rights: they would have
acted in such a manner that the French would neither have wished for
invasion nor dared to attempt it: they would have increased the
permanent strength of the country while they preserved its reputation
unsullied. Nothing of this kind your friends have done, because they
are solemnly pledged to do nothing of this kind; because, to tolerate
all religions, and to equalise civil rights to all sects, is to oppose
some of the worst passions of our nature--to plunder and to oppress is
to gratify them all. They wanted the huzzas of mobs, and they have for
ever blasted the fame of England to obtain them. Were the fleets of
Holland, France, and Spain destroyed by larceny? You resisted the
power of 150 sail of the line by sheer courage, and violated every
principle of morals from the dread of fifteen hulks, while the
expedition itself cost you three times more than the value of the
larcenous matter brought away. The French trample on the laws of God
and man, not for old cordage, but for kingdoms, and always take care
to be well paid for their crimes. We contrive, under the present
administration, to unite moral with intellectual deficiency, and to
grow weaker and worse by the same action. If they had any evidence of
the intended hostility of the Danes, why was it not produced? Why have
the nations of Europe been allowed to feel an indignation against this
country beyond the reach of all subsequent information? Are these
times, do you imagine, when we can trifle with a year of universal
hatred, dally with the curses of Europe, and then regain a lost
character at pleasure, by the parliamentary perspirations of the
Foreign Secretary, or the solemn asseverations of the pecuniary Rose?
Believe me, Abraham, it is not under such ministers as these that the
dexterity of honest Englishmen will ever equal the dexterity of French
knaves; it is not in their presence that the serpent of Moses will
ever swallow up the serpents of the magician.

Lord Hawkesbury says that nothing is to be granted to the Catholics
from fear. What! not even justice? Why not? There are four millions of
disaffected people within twenty miles of your own coast. I fairly
confess that the dread which I have of their physical power is with me
a very strong motive for listening to their claims. To talk of not
acting from fear is mere parliamentary cant. From what motive but
fear, I should be glad to know, have all the improvements in our
constitution proceeded? I question if any justice has ever been done
to large masses of mankind from any other motive. By what other
motives can the plunderers of the Baltic suppose nations to be
governed in their intercourse _with each other_? If I say, Give this
people what they ask because it is just, do you think I should get ten
people to listen to me? Would not the lesser of the two Jenkinsons be
the first to treat me with contempt? The only true way to make the
mass of mankind see the beauty of justice is by showing to them, in
pretty plain terms, the consequences of injustice. If any body of
French troops land in Ireland, the whole population of that country
will rise against you to a man, and you could not possibly survive
such an event three years. Such, from the bottom of my soul, do I
believe to be the present state of that country; and so far does it
appear to me to be impolitic and unstatesman-like to conceed anything
to such a danger, that if the Catholics, in addition to their present
just demands, were to petition for the perpetual removal of the said
Lord Hawkesbury from his Majesty's councils, I think, whatever might
be the effect upon the destinies of Europe, and however it might
retard our own individual destruction, that the prayer of the petition
should be instantly complied with. Canning's crocodile tears should
not move me; the hoops of the maids of honour should not hide him. I
would tear him from the banisters of the back stairs, and plunge him
in the fishy fumes of the dirtiest of all his Cinque Ports.


Dear Abraham--In the correspondence which is passing between us, you
are perpetually alluding to the Foreign Secretary; and in answer to
the dangers of Ireland, which I am pressing upon your notice, you have
nothing to urge but the confidence which you repose in the discretion
and sound sense of this gentleman. I can only say, that I have
listened to him long and often with the greatest attention; I have
used every exertion in my power to take a fair measure of him, and it
appears to me impossible to hear him upon any arduous topic without
perceiving that he is eminently deficient in those solid and serious
qualities upon which, and upon which alone, the confidence of a great
country can properly repose. He sweats and labours, and works for
sense, and Mr. Ellis seems always to think it is coming, but it does
not come; the machine can't draw up what is not to be found in the
spring; Providence has made him a light, jesting, paragraph-writing
man, and that he will remain to his dying day. When he is jocular he
is strong, when he is serious he is like Samson in a wig; any ordinary
person is a match for him: a song, an ironical letter, a burlesque
ode, an attack in the newspaper upon Nicoll's eye, a smart speech of
twenty minutes, full of gross misrepresentations and clever turns,
excellent language, a spirited manner, lucky quotation, success in
provoking dull men, some half information picked up in Pall Mall in
the morning; these are your friend's natural weapons; all these things
he can do: here I allow him to be truly great; nay, I will be just,
and go still further, if he would confine himself to these things, and
consider the _facete_ and the playful to be the basis of his
character, he would, for that species of man, be universally regarded
as a person of a very good understanding; call him a legislator, a
reasoner, and the conductor of the affairs of a great nation, and it
seems to me as absurd as if a butterfly were to teach bees to make
honey. That he is an extraordinary writer of small poetry, and a diner
out of the highest lustre, I do most readily admit. After George
Selwyn, and perhaps Tickell, there has been no such man for this
half-century. The Foreign Secretary is a gentleman, a respectable as
well as a highly agreeable man in private life; but you may as well
feed me with decayed potatoes as console me for the miseries of
Ireland by the resources of his _sense_ and his _discretion_. It is
only the public situation which this gentleman holds which entitles me
or induces me to say so much about him. He is a fly in amber, nobody
cares about the fly; the only question is, How the devil did it get
there? Nor do I attack him for the love of glory, but from the love of
utility, as a burgomaster hunts a rat in a Dutch dyke for fear it
should flood a province.

The friends of the Catholic question are, I observe, extremely
embarrassed in arguing when they come to the loyalty of the Irish
Catholics. As for me, I shall go straight forward to my object, and
state what I have no manner of doubt, from an intimate knowledge of
Ireland, to be the plain truth. Of the great Roman Catholic
proprietors, and of the Catholic prelates, there may be a few, and but
a few, who would follow the fortunes of England at all events: there
is another set of men who, thoroughly detesting this country, have too
much property and too much character to lose, not to wait for some
very favourable event before they show themselves; but the great mass
of Catholic population, upon the slightest appearance of a French
force in that country, would rise upon you to a man. It is the most
mistaken policy to conceal the plain truth. There is no loyalty among
the Catholics: they detest you as their worst oppressors, and they
will continue to detest you till you remove the cause of their hatred.
It is in your power in six months' time to produce a total revolution
of opinions among this people; and in some future letter I will show
you that this is clearly the case. At present, see what a dreadful
state Ireland is in. The common toast among the low Irish is, the
feast of the _passover_. Some allusion to _Bonaparte_, in a play
lately acted at Dublin, produced thunders of applause from the pit and
the galleries; and a politician should not be inattentive to the
public feelings expressed in theatres. Mr. Perceval thinks he has
disarmed the Irish: he has no more disarmed the Irish than he has
resigned a shilling of his own public emoluments. An Irish peasant
fills the barrel of his gun full of tow dipped in oil, butters up the
lock, buries it in a bog, and allows the Orange bloodhound to ransack
his cottage at pleasure. Be just and kind to the Irish, and you will
indeed disarm them; rescue them from the degraded servitude in which
they are held by a handful of their own countrymen, and you will add
four millions of brave and affectionate men to your strength. Nightly
visits, Protestant inspectors, licenses to possess a pistol, or a
knife and fork, the odious vigour of the _evangelical_ Perceval--acts
of Parliament, drawn up by some English attorney, to save you from the
hatred of four millions of people--the guarding yourselves from
universal disaffection by a police; a confidence in the little cunning
of Bow Street, when you might rest your security upon the eternal
basis of the best feelings: this is the meanness and madness to which
nations are reduced when they lose sight of the first elements of
justice, without which a country can be no more secure than it can be
healthy without air. I sicken at such policy and such men. The fact
is, the Ministers know nothing about the present state of Ireland; Mr.
Perceval sees a few clergymen, Lord Castlereagh a few general
officers, who take care, of course, to report what is pleasant rather
than what is true. As for the joyous and lepid consul, he jokes upon
neutral flags and frauds, jokes upon Irish rebels, jokes upon
northern and western and southern foes, and gives himself no trouble
upon any subject; nor is the mediocrity of the idolatrous deputy of
the slightest use. Dissolved in grins, he reads no memorials upon the
state of Ireland, listens to no reports, asks no questions, and is the

    "_Bourn_ from whom no traveller returns."

The danger of an immediate insurrection is now, I _believe_, blown
over. You have so strong an army in Ireland, and the Irish are become
so much more cunning from the last insurrection, that you may perhaps
be tolerably secure just at present from that evil: but are you secure
from the efforts which the French may make to throw a body of troops
into Ireland? and do you consider that event to be difficult and
improbable? From Brest Harbour to Cape St. Vincent, you have above
three thousand miles of hostile sea coast, and twelve or fourteen
harbours quite capable of containing a sufficient force for the
powerful invasion of Ireland. The nearest of these harbours is not two
days' sail from the southern coast of Ireland, with a fair leading
wind; and the furthest not ten. Five ships of the line, for so very
short a passage, might carry five or six thousand troops with cannon
and ammunition; and Ireland presents to their attack a southern coast
of more than 500 miles, abounding in deep bays, admirable harbours,
and disaffected inhabitants. Your blockading ships may be forced to
come home for provisions and repairs, or they may be blown off in a
gale of wind and compelled to bear away for their own coast; and you
will observe that the very same wind which locks you up in the British
Channel, when you are got there, is evidently favourable for the
invasion of Ireland. And yet this is called Government, and the people
huzza Mr. Perceval for continuing to expose his country day after day
to such tremendous perils as these; cursing the men who would have
given up a question in theology to have saved us from such a risk. The
British empire at this moment is in the state of a peach-blossom--if
the wind blows gently from one quarter, it survives; if furiously from
the other, it perishes. A stiff breeze may set in from the north, the
Rochefort squadron will be taken, and the Minister will be the most
holy of men: if it comes from some other point, Ireland is gone; we
curse ourselves as a set of monastic madmen, and call out for the
unavailing satisfaction of Mr. Perceval's head. Such a state of
political existence is scarcely credible: it is the action of a mad
young fool standing upon one foot, and peeping down the crater of
Mount Ætna, not the conduct of a wise and sober people deciding upon
their best and dearest interests: and in the name, the much-injured
name, of heaven, what is it all for that we expose ourselves to these
dangers? Is it that we may sell more muslin? Is it that we may acquire
more territory? Is it that we may strengthen what we have already
acquired? No; nothing of all this; but that one set of Irishmen may
torture another set of Irishmen--that Sir Phelim O'Callaghan may
continue to whip Sir Toby M'Tackle, his next door neighbour, and
continue to ravish his Catholic daughters; and these are the measures
which the honest and consistent Secretary supports; and this is the
Secretary whose genius in the estimation of Brother Abraham is to
extinguish the genius of Bonaparte. Pompey was killed by a slave,
Goliath smitten by a stripling. Pyrrhus died by the hand of a woman;
tremble, thou great Gaul, from whose head an armed Minerva leaps forth
in the hour of danger; tremble, thou scourge of God, a pleasant man is
come out against thee, and thou shall be laid low by a joker of jokes,
and he shall talk his pleasant talk against thee, and thou shall be no

You tell me, in spite of all this parade of sea-coast, Bonaparte has
neither ships nor sailors: but this is a mistake. He has not ships and
sailors to contest the empire of the seas with Great Britain, but
there remains quite sufficient of the navies of France, Spain,
Holland, and Denmark, for these short excursions and invasions. Do you
think, too, that Bonaparte does not add to his navy every year? Do
you suppose, with all Europe at his feet, that he can find any
difficulty in obtaining timber, and that money will not procure for
him any quantity of naval stores he may want? The mere machine, the
empty ship, he can build as well, and as quickly, as you can; and
though he may not find enough of practised sailors to man large
fighting-fleets--it is not possible to conceive that he can want
sailors for such sort of purposes as I have stated. He is at present
the despotic monarch of above twenty thousand miles of sea-coast, and
yet you suppose he cannot procure sailors for the invasion of Ireland.
Believe, if you please, that such a fleet met at sea by any number of
our ships at all comparable to them in point of force, would be
immediately taken, let it be so; I count nothing upon their power of
resistance, only upon their power of escaping unobserved. If
experience has taught us anything, it is the impossibility of
perpetual blockades. The instances are innumerable, during the course
of this war, where whole fleets have sailed in and out of harbour, in
spite of every vigilance used to prevent it. I shall only mention
those cases where Ireland is concerned. In December, 1796, seven ships
of the line, and ten transports, reached Bantry Bay from Brest,
without having seen an English ship in their passage. It blew a storm
when they were off shore, and therefore England still continues to be
an independent kingdom. You will observe that at the very time the
French fleet sailed out of Brest Harbour, Admiral Colpoys was cruising
off there with a powerful squadron, and still, from the particular
circumstances of the weather, found it impossible to prevent the
French from coming out. During the time that Admiral Colpoys was
cruising off Brest, Admiral Richery, with six ships of the line,
passed him, and got safe into the harbour. At the very moment when the
French squadron was lying in Bantry Bay, Lord Bridport with his fleet
was locked up by a foul wind in the Channel, and for several days
could not stir to the assistance of Ireland. Admiral Colpoys, totally
unable to find the French fleet, came home. Lord Bridport, at the
change of the wind, cruised for them in vain, and they got safe back
to Brest, without having seen a single one of those floating bulwarks,
the possession of which we believe will enable us with impunity to set
justice and common sense at defiance. Such is the miserable and
precarious state of an anemocracy, of a people who put their trust in
hurricanes, and are governed by wind. In August, 1798, three forty-gun
frigates landed 1100 men under Humbert, making the passage from
Rochelle to Killala without seeing any English ship. In October of the
same year, four French frigates anchored in Killala Bay with 2000
troops; and though they did not land their troops they returned to
France in safety. In the same month, a line-of-battle ship, eight
stout frigates, and a brig, all full of troops and stores, reached the
coast of Ireland, and were fortunately, in sight of land, destroyed,
after an obstinate engagement, by Sir John Warren.

If you despise the little troop which, in these numerous experiments,
did make good its landing, take with you, if you please, this _précis_
of its exploits: eleven hundred men, commanded by a soldier raised
from the ranks, put to rout a select army of 6000 men, commanded by
General Lake, seized their ordnance, ammunition, and stores, advanced
150 miles into a country containing an armed force of 150,000 men, and
at last surrendered to the Viceroy, an experienced general, gravely
and cautiously advancing at the head of all his chivalry and of an
immense army to oppose him. You must excuse these details about
Ireland, but it appears to me to be of all other subjects the most
important. If we conciliate Ireland, we can do nothing amiss; if we do
not, we can do nothing well. If Ireland was friendly, we might equally
set at defiance the talents of Bonaparte and the blunders of his
rival, Mr. Canning; we could then support the ruinous and silly bustle
of our useless expeditions, and the almost incredible ignorance of our
commercial orders in council. Let the present administration give up
but this one point, and there is nothing which I would not consent to
grant them. Mr. Perceval shall have full liberty to insult the tomb
of Mr. Fox, and to torment every eminent Dissenter in Great Britain;
Lord Camden shall have large boxes of plums; Mr. Rose receive
permission to prefix to his name the appellative of virtuous; and to
the Viscount Castlereagh a round sum of ready money shall be well and
truly paid into his hand. Lastly, what remains to Mr. George Canning,
but that he ride up and down Pall Mall glorious upon a white horse,
and that they cry out before him, Thus shall it be done to the
statesman who hath written 'The Needy Knife-Grinder,' and the German
play? Adieu only for the present; you shall soon hear from me again;
it is a subject upon which I cannot long be silent.


Dear Abraham--No Catholic can be chief Governor or Governor of this
kingdom, Chancellor or Keeper of the Great Seal, Lord High Treasurer,
Chief of any of the Courts of Justice, Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Puisne Judge, Judge in the Admiralty, Master of the Rolls, Secretary
of State, Keeper of the Privy Seal, Vice-Treasurer or his Deputy,
Teller or Cashier of Exchequer, Auditor or General, Governor or Gustos
Rotulorum of Counties, Chief Governor's Secretary, Privy Councillor,
King's Counsel, Serjeant, Attorney, Solicitor-General, Master in
Chancery, Provost or Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin,
Postmaster-General, Master and Lieutenant-General of Ordnance,
Commander-in-Chief, General on the Staff, Sheriff, Sub-Sheriff, Mayor,
Bailiff, Recorder, Burgess, or any other officer in a City, or a
Corporation. No Catholic can be guardian to a Protestant, and no
priest guardian at all; no Catholic can be a gamekeeper, or have for
sale, or otherwise, any arms or warlike stores; no Catholic can
present to a living, unless he choose to turn Jew in order to obtain
that privilege; the pecuniary qualification of Catholic jurors is made
higher than that of Protestants, and no relaxation of the ancient
rigorous code is permitted, unless to those who shall take an oath
prescribed by 13 and 14 George III. Now if this is not picking the
plums out of the pudding and leaving the mere batter to the Catholics,
I know not what is. If it were merely the Privy Council, it would be
(I allow) nothing but a point of honour for which the mass of
Catholics were contending, the honour of being chief-mourners or
pall-bearers to the country; but surely no man will contend that every
barrister may not speculate upon the possibility of being a Puisne
Judge; and that every shopkeeper must not feel himself injured by his
exclusion from borough offices.

One of the greatest practical evils which the Catholics suffer in
Ireland is their exclusion from the offices of Sheriff and Deputy
Sheriff. Nobody who is unacquainted with Ireland can conceive the
obstacles which this opposes to the fair administration of justice.
The formation of juries is now entirely in the hands of the
Protestants; the lives, liberties, and properties of the Catholics in
the hands of the juries; and this is the arrangement for the
administration of justice in a country where religious prejudices are
inflamed to the greatest degree of animosity! In this country, if a
man be a foreigner, if he sell slippers, and sealing wax, and
artificial flowers, we are so tender of human life that we take care
half the number of persons who are to decide upon his fate should be
men of similar prejudices and feelings with himself: but a poor
Catholic in Ireland may be tried by twelve Percevals, and destroyed
according to the manner of that gentleman in the name of the Lord, and
with all the insulting forms of justice. I do not go the length of
saying that deliberate and wilful injustice is done. I have no doubt
that the Orange Deputy Sheriff thinks it would be a most unpardonable
breach of his duty if he did not summon a Protestant panel. I can
easily believe that the Protestant panel may conduct themselves very
conscientiously in hanging the gentlemen of the crucifix; but I blame
the law which does not guard the Catholic against the probable tenor
of those feelings which must unconsciously influence the judgments of
mankind. I detest that state of society which extends unequal degrees
of protection to different creeds and persuasions; and I cannot
describe to you the contempt I feel for a man who, calling himself a
statesman, defends a system which fills the heart of every Irishman
with treason, and makes his allegiance prudence, not choice.

I request to know if the vestry taxes in Ireland are a mere matter of
romantic feeling which can affect only the Earl of Fingal? In a parish
where there are four thousand Catholics and fifty Protestants, the
Protestants may meet together in a vestry meeting at which no Catholic
has the right to vote, and tax all the lands in the parish 1s. 6d. per
acre, or in the pound, I forget which, for the repairs of the
church--and how has the necessity of these repairs been ascertained? A
Protestant plumber has discovered that it wants new leading; a
Protestant carpenter is convinced the timbers are not sound; and the
glazier who hates holy water (as an accoucheur hates celibacy, because
he gets nothing by it) is employed to put in new sashes.

The grand juries in Ireland are the great scene of jobbing. They have
a power of making a county rate to a considerable extent for roads,
bridges, and other objects of general accommodation. 'You suffer the
road to be brought through my park, and I will have the bridge
constructed in a situation where it will make a beautiful object to
your house. You do my job, and I will do yours.' These are the sweet
and interesting subjects which occasionally occupy Milesian gentlemen
while they are attendant upon this grand inquest of justice. But there
is a religion, it seems, even in jobs; and it will be highly
gratifying to Mr. Perceval to learn that no man in Ireland who
believes in seven sacraments can carry a public road, or bridge, one
yard out of the direction most beneficial to the public, and that
nobody can cheat the public who does not expound the Scriptures in the
purest and most orthodox manner. This will give pleasure to Mr.
Perceval: but, from his unfairness upon these topics I appeal to the
justice and the proper feelings of Mr. Huskisson. I ask him if the
human mind can experience a more dreadful sensation than to see its
own jobs refused, and the jobs of another religion perpetually
succeeding? I ask him his opinion of a jobless faith, of a creed which
dooms a man through life to a lean and plunderless integrity. He knows
that human nature cannot and will not bear it; and if we were to paint
a political Tartarus, it would be an endless series of snug
expectations and cruel disappointments. These are a few of many
dreadful inconveniences which the Catholics of all ranks suffer from
the laws by which they are at present oppressed. Besides, look at
human nature: what is the history of all professions? Joel is to be
brought up to the bar: has Mrs. Plymley the slightest doubt of his
being Chancellor? Do not his two shrivelled aunts live in the
certainty of seeing him in that situation, and of cutting out with
their own hands his equity habiliments? And I could name a certain
minister of the Gospel who does not, in the bottom of his heart, much
differ from these opinions. Do you think that the fathers and mothers
of the holy Catholic Church are not as absurd as Protestant papas and
mammas? The probability I admit to be, in each particular case, that
the sweet little blockhead will in fact never get a brief;--but I will
venture to say there is not a parent from the Giant's Causeway to
Bantry Bay who does not conceive that his child is the unfortunate
victim of the exclusion, and that nothing short of positive law could
prevent his own dear, pre-eminent Paddy from rising to the highest
honours of the State. So with the army and parliament; in fact, few
are excluded; but, in imagination, all: you keep twenty or thirty
Catholics out, and you lose the affections of four millions; and, let
me tell you, that recent circumstances have by no means tended to
diminish in the minds of men that hope of elevation beyond their own
rank which is so congenial to our nature: from pleading for John Roe
to taxing John Bull, from jesting for Mr. Pitt and writing in the
_Anti-Jacobin_, to managing the affairs of Europe--these are leaps
which seem to justify the fondest dreams of mothers and of aunts.

I do not say that the disabilities to which the Catholics are exposed
amount to such intolerable grievances, that the strength and industry
of a nation are overwhelmed by them: the increasing prosperity of
Ireland fully demonstrates to the contrary. But I repeat again, what I
have often stated in the course of our correspondence, that your laws
against the Catholics are exactly in that state in which you have
neither the benefits of rigour nor of liberality: every law which
prevented the Catholic from gaining strength and wealth is repealed;
every law which can irritate remains; if you were determined to insult
the Catholics you should have kept them weak; if you resolved to give
them strength, you should have ceased to insult them--at present your
conduct is pure, unadulterated folly.

Lord Hawkesbury says, 'We heard nothing about the Catholics till we
began to mitigate the laws against them; when we relieved them in part
from this oppression they began to be disaffected.' This is very true;
but it proves just what I have said, that you have either done too
much or too little; and as there lives not, I hope, upon earth, so
depraved a courtier that he would load the Catholics with their
ancient chains, what absurdity it is, then, not to render their
dispositions friendly, when you leave their arms and legs free!

You know, and many Englishmen know, what passes in China; but nobody
knows or cares what passes in Ireland. At the beginning of the
present reign no Catholic could realise property, or carry on any
business; they were absolutely annihilated, and had no more agency in
the country than so many trees. They were like Lord Mulgrave's
eloquence and Lord Camden's wit; the legislative bodies did not know
of their existence. For these twenty-five years last past the
Catholics have been engaged in commerce; within that period the
commerce of Ireland has doubled--there are four Catholics at work for
one Protestant, and eight Catholics at work for one Episcopalian. Of
course, the proportion which Catholic wealth bears to Protestant
wealth is every year altering rapidly in favour of the Catholics. I
have already told you what their purchases of land were the last year:
since that period I have been at some pains to find out the actual
state of the Catholic wealth: it is impossible upon such a subject to
arrive at complete accuracy; but I have good reason to believe that
there are at present 2000 Catholics in Ireland possessing an income of
£500 and upwards, many of these with incomes of one, two, three, and
four thousand, and some amounting to fifteen and twenty thousand per
annum:--and this is the kingdom, and these the people, for whose
conciliation we are to wait Heaven knows when, and Lord Hawkesbury
why! As for me, I never think of the situation of Ireland without
feeling the same necessity for immediate interference as I should do
if I saw blood flowing from a great artery. I rush towards it with
the instinctive rapidity of a man desirous of preventing death, and
have no other feeling but that in a few seconds the patient may be no

I could not help smiling, in the times of No Popery, to witness the
loyal indignation of many persons at the attempt made by the last
ministry to do something for the relief of Ireland. The general cry in
the country was, that they would not see their beloved Monarch used
ill in his old age, and that they would stand by him to the last drop
of their blood. I respect good feelings, however erroneous be the
occasions on which they display themselves; and therefore I saw in all
this as much to admire as to blame. It was a species of affection,
however, which reminded me very forcibly of the attachment displayed
by the servants of the Russian ambassador at the beginning of the last
century. His Excellency happened to fall down in a kind of apoplectic
fit, when he was paying a morning visit in the house of an
acquaintance. The confusion was of course very great, and messengers
were despatched in every direction to find a surgeon: who, upon his
arrival, declared that his Excellency must be immediately blooded, and
prepared himself forthwith to perform the operation: the barbarous
servants of the embassy, who were there in great numbers, no sooner
saw the surgeon prepared to wound the arm of their master with a
sharp, shining instrument, than they drew their swords, put themselves
in an attitude of defence, and swore in pure Sclavonic, 'that they
would murder any man who attempted to do him the slightest injury: he
had been a very good master to them, and they would not desert him in
his misfortunes, or suffer his blood to be shed while he was off his
guard, and incapable of defending himself.' By good fortune, the
secretary arrived about this period of the dispute, and his
Excellency, relieved from superfluous blood and perilous affection,
was, after much difficulty, restored to life.

There is an argument brought forward with some appearance of
plausibility in the House of Commons, which certainly merits an
answer: You know that the Catholics now vote for members of parliament
in Ireland, and that they outnumber the Protestants in a very great
proportion; if you allow Catholics to sit in parliament, religion will
be found to influence votes more than property, and the greater part
of the 100 Irish members who are returned to parliament will be
Catholics. Add to these the Catholic members who are returned in
England, and you will have a phalanx of heretical strength which every
minister will be compelled to respect, and occasionally to conciliate
by concessions incompatible with the interests of the Protestant
Church. The fact is, however, that you are at this moment subjected to
every danger of this kind which you can possibly apprehend hereafter.
If the spiritual interests of the voters are more powerful than their
temporal interests, they can bind down their representatives to
support any measures favourable to the Catholic religion, and they can
change the objects of their choice till they have found Protestant
members (as they easily may do) perfectly obedient to their wishes. If
the superior possessions of the Protestants prevent the Catholics from
uniting for a common political object, then danger you fear cannot
exist: if zeal, on the contrary, gets the better of acres, then the
danger at present exists, from the right of voting already given to
the Catholics, and it will not be increased by allowing them to sit in
parliament. There are, as nearly as I can recollect, thirty seats in
Ireland for cities and counties, where the Protestants are the most
numerous, and where the members returned must of course be
Protestants. In the other seventy representations the wealth of the
Protestants is opposed to the number of the Catholics; and if all the
seventy members returned were of the Catholic persuasion, they must
still plot the destruction of our religion in the midst of 588
Protestants. Such terrors would disgrace a cook-maid, or a toothless
aunt--when they fall from the lips of bearded and senatorial men, they
are nauseous, antiperistaltic, and emetical.

How can you for a moment doubt of the rapid effects which would be
produced by the emancipation? In the first place, to my certain
knowledge the Catholics have long since expressed to his Majesty's
Ministers their perfect readiness _to vest in his Majesty, either with
the consent of the Pope, or without it if it cannot be obtained, the
nomination of the Catholic prelacy_. The Catholic prelacy in Ireland
consists of twenty-six bishops and the warden of Galway, a dignitary
enjoying Catholic jurisdiction. The number of Roman Catholic priests
in Ireland exceeds one thousand. The expenses of his peculiar worship
are, to a substantial farmer or mechanic, five shillings per annum; to
a labourer (where he is not entirely excused) one shilling per annum;
this includes the contribution of the whole family, and for this the
priest is bound to attend them when sick, and to confess them when
they apply to him; he is also to keep his chapel in order, to
celebrate divine service, and to preach on Sundays and holydays. In
the northern district a priest gains from £30 to £50; in the other
parts of Ireland from £60 to £90 per annum. The best paid Catholic
bishops receive about £400 per annum; the others from £300 to £350. My
plan is very simple: I would have 300 Catholic parishes at £100 per
annum, 300 at £200 per annum, and 400 at £300 per annum; this, for the
whole thousand parishes, would amount to £190,000. To the prelacy I
would allot £20,000 in unequal proportions, from £1000 to £500; and I
would appropriate £40,000 more for the support of Catholic Schools,
and the repairs of Catholic churches; the whole amount of which sum is
£250,000, about the expense of three days of one of our genuine, good
English _just and necessary wars_. The clergy should all receive their
salaries at the Bank of Ireland, and I would place the whole patronage
in the hands of the Crown. Now, I appeal to any human being, except
Spencer Perceval, Esq., of the parish of Hampstead, what the
disaffection of a clergy would amount to, gaping after this graduated
bounty of the Crown, and whether Ignatius Loyola himself, if he were a
living blockhead instead of a dead saint, could withstand the
temptation of bouncing from £100 a year at Sligo, to £300 in
Tipperary? This is the miserable sum of money for which the merchants
and landowners and nobility of England are exposing themselves to the
tremendous peril of losing Ireland. The sinecure places of the Roses
and the Percevals, and the 'dear and near relations,' put up to
auction at thirty years' purchase, would almost amount to the money.

I admit that nothing can be more reasonable than to expect that a
Catholic priest should starve to death, genteelly and pleasantly, for
the good of the Protestant religion; but is it equally reasonable to
expect that he should do so for the Protestant pews, and Protestant
brick and mortar? On an Irish Sabbath the bell of a neat parish
church often summons to church only the parson and an occasionally
conforming clerk; while, two hundred yards off, a thousand Catholics
are huddled together in a miserable hovel, and pelted by all the
storms of heaven. Can anything be more distressing than to see a
venerable man pouring forth sublime truths in tattered breeches, and
depending for his food upon the little offal he gets from his
parishioners? I venerate a human being who starves for his principles,
let them be what they may; but starving for anything is not at all to
the taste of the honourable flagellants: strict principles, and good
pay, is the motto of Mr. Perceval: the one he keeps in great measure
for the faults of his enemies, the other for himself.

There are parishes in Connaught in which a Protestant was never
settled nor even seen. In that province, in Munster, and in parts of
Leinster, the entire peasantry for sixty miles are Catholics; in these
tracts the churches are frequently shut for want of a congregation, or
opened to an assemblage of from six to twenty persons. Of what
Protestants there are in Ireland, the greatest part are gathered
together in Ulster, or they live in towns. In the country of the other
three provinces the Catholics see no other religion but their own, and
are at the least as fifteen to one Protestant. In the diocese of Tuam
they are sixty to one; in the parish of St. Mulins, diocese of
Leghlin, there are four thousand Catholics and one Protestant; in the
town of Grasgenamana, in the county of Kilkenny, there are between
four and five hundred Catholic houses, and three Protestant houses. In
the parish of Allen, county Kildare, there is no Protestant, though it
is very populous. In the parish of Arlesin, Queen's County, the
proportion is one hundred to one. In the whole county of Kilkenny, by
actual enumeration, it is seventeen to one; in the diocese of
Kilmacduagh, province of Connaught, fifty-two to one, by ditto. These
I give you as a few specimens of the present state of Ireland; and yet
there are men impudent and ignorant enough to contend that such evils
require no remedy, and that mild family man who dwelleth in Hampstead
can find none but the cautery and the knife.

    ----'Omne per ignem
    Excoquitur vitium.'

I cannot describe the horror and disgust which I felt at hearing Mr.
Perceval call upon the then Ministry for measures of vigour in
Ireland. If I lived at Hampstead upon stewed meats and claret; if I
walked to church every Sunday before eleven young gentlemen of my own
begetting, with their faces washed, and their hair pleasingly combed;
if the Almighty had blessed me with every earthly comfort--how awfully
would I pause before I sent forth the flame and the sword over the
cabins of the poor, brave, generous, open-hearted peasants of
Ireland! How easy it is to shed human blood; how easy it is to
persuade ourselves that it is our duty to do so, and that the decision
has cost us a severe struggle; how much in all ages have wounds and
shrieks and tears been the cheap and vulgar resources of the rulers of
mankind; how difficult and how noble it is to govern in kindness and
to found an empire upon the everlasting basis of justice and
affection! But what do men call vigour? To let loose hussars and to
bring up artillery, to govern with lighted matches, and to cut, and
push, and prime; I call this not vigour, but the _sloth of cruelty and
ignorance_. The vigour I love consists in finding out wherein subjects
are aggrieved, in relieving them, in studying the temper and genius of
a people, in consulting their prejudices, in selecting proper persons
to lead and manage them, in the laborious, watchful, and difficult
task of increasing public happiness by allaying each particular
discontent. In this way Hoche pacified La Vendée--and in this way only
will Ireland ever be subdued. But this, in the eyes of Mr. Perceval,
is imbecility and meanness. Houses are not broken open, women are not
insulted, the people seem all to be happy; they are not rode over by
horses, and cut by whips. Do you call this vigour? Is this government?



(_Although Cobbett produced not a few political pamphlets in the
strictest sense of the term, the infinitely greater part of his work
is comprised during his earlier days in the volumes of _Peter
Porcupine's Gazette_, during his later in those of the _Weekly
Register_. This latter, however, he himself for a time actually
entitled _The Weekly Political Pamphlet_, while he alluded to it under
that name even at other times; and his whole work was imbued even more
deeply than that of Defoe with the pamphlet character. I have selected
two examples from the critical time when he was still exasperated by
his imprisonment, and stung into fresh efforts by debt and the
prospect of fresh difficulties. They exhibit in the most striking form
all Cobbett's pet hatreds--of the unreformed Parliament, of paper
money, of political economy, of potatoes, and of many other things.
The first is the _Register_ of 2d November 1816, the first number of
the cheapened form, which was sold at twopence, and so acquired the
name of 'Twopenny Trash,' from a phrase of, as some say, Canning's,
others Castlereagh's. The second is an early number of the papers
written from America. They will, with the notes, explain themselves._)


Friends And Fellow-countrymen--Whatever the pride of rank, of riches,
or of scholarship may have induced some men to believe, or to affect
to believe, the real strength and all the resources of a country ever
have sprung and ever must spring from the _labour_ of its people; and
hence it is that this nation, which is so small in numbers and so poor
in climate and soil compared with many others, has, for many ages,
been the most powerful nation in the world: it is the most
industrious, the most laborious, and, therefore, the most powerful.
Elegant dresses, superb furniture, stately buildings, fine roads and
canals, fleet horses and carriages, numerous and stout ships,
warehouses teeming with goods; all these, and many other objects that
fall under our view, are so many marks of national wealth and
resources. But all these spring from _labour_. Without the journeyman
and the labourer none of them could exist; without the assistance of
their hands the country would be a wilderness, hardly worth the notice
of an invader.

As it is the labour of those who toil which makes a country abound in
resources, so it is the same class of men, who must, by their arms,
secure its safety and uphold its fame. Titles and immense sums of
money have been bestowed upon numerous Naval and Military Commanders.
Without calling the justice of these in question, we may assert that
the victories were obtained by _you_ and your fathers and brothers and
sons, in co-operation with those Commanders, who, with _your_ aid,
have done great and wonderful things; but who, without that aid, would
have been as impotent as children at the breast.

With this correct idea of your own worth in your minds, with what
indignation must you hear yourselves called the Populace, the Rabble,
the Mob, the Swinish Multitude; and with what greater indignation, if
possible, must you hear the projects of those cool and cruel and
insolent men, who, now that you have been, without any fault of yours,
brought into a state of misery, propose to narrow the limit of parish
relief, to prevent you from marrying in the days of your youth, or to
thrust you out to seek your bread in foreign lands, never more to
behold your parents or friends? But suppress your indignation, until
we return to this topic, after we have considered the _cause_ of your
present misery, and the measures which have produced that cause.

The times in which we live are full of peril. The nation, as described
by the very creatures of Government, is fast advancing to that period
when an important change must take place. It is the lot of mankind
that some shall labour with their limbs and others with their minds;
and, on all occasions, more especially on an occasion like the
present, it is the duty of the latter to come to the assistance of the
former. We are all equally interested in the peace and happiness of
our common country. It is of the utmost importance that, in the
seeking to obtain these objects, our endeavours should be uniform, and
tend all to the same point. Such an uniformity cannot exist without
an uniformity of sentiment as to public matters, and to produce this
latter uniformity amongst you is the object of this address.

As to the cause of our present miseries, it is the enormous amount of
the taxes which the Government compels us to pay for the support of
its army, its placemen, its pensioners, etc., and for the payment of
the interest of its debt. That this is the _real_ cause has been a
thousand times proved; and it is now so acknowledged by the creatures
of the Government themselves. Two hundred and five of the
Correspondents of the Board of Agriculture ascribe the ruin of the
country to taxation. Numerous writers, formerly the friends of the
Pitt system, now declare that taxation has been the cause of our
distress. Indeed, when we compare our present state to the state of
the country previous to the wars against France, we must see that our
present misery is owing to no other cause. The taxes then annually
raised amounted to about fifteen millions: they amounted last year to
seventy millions. The nation was then happy; it is now miserable.

The writers and speakers who labour in the cause of corruption, have
taken great pains to make the labouring classes believe that _they_
are _not taxed_; that the taxes which are paid by the landlords,
farmers, and tradesmen, do not affect you, the journeymen and
labourers; and that the tax-makers have been very lenient towards
you. But, I hope that you see to the bottom of these things now. You
must be sensible that if all your employers were totally ruined in one
day, you would be wholly without employment and without bread; and, of
course, in whatever degree your employers are deprived of their means,
they must withhold means from you. In America the most awkward common
labourer receives five shillings a day, while provisions are cheaper
in that country than in this. Here, a carter, boarded in the house,
receives about seven pounds a year; in America, he receives about
thirty pounds a year. What is it that makes this difference? Why, in
America the whole of the taxes do not amount to more than about ten
shillings a head upon the whole of the population; while in England
they amount to nearly six pounds a head! _There_, a journeyman or
labourer may support his family well, and save from thirty to sixty
pounds a year: _here_, he amongst you is a lucky man, who can provide
his family with food and with decent clothes to cover them, without
any hope of possessing a penny in the days of sickness or of old age.
_There_, the Chief Magistrate receives six thousand pounds a year;
_here_, the civil list surpasses a million of pounds in amount, and as
much is allowed to each of the Princesses in one year, as the chief
magistrate of America receives in two years, though that country is
nearly equal to this in population.

A Mr. Preston, a lawyer of great eminence, and a great praiser of
Pitt, has just published a pamphlet, in which is this remark: 'It
should always be remembered, that the eighteen pounds a year paid to
any placeman or pensioner, withdraws from the public the means of
giving active employment to one individual as the head of a family;
thus depriving five persons of the means of sustenance from the fruits
of honest industry and active labour, and rendering them paupers.'
Thus this supporter of Pitt acknowledges the great truth that the
taxes are the cause of a people's poverty and misery and degradation.
We did not stand in need of this acknowledgment; the fact has been
clearly proved before; but it is good for us to see the friends and
admirers of Pitt brought to make this confession.

It has been attempted to puzzle you with this sort of question: 'If
taxes be the cause of the people's misery, how comes it that they were
not so miserable before the taxes were reduced as they are now?' Here
is a fallacy which you will be careful to detect. I know that the
taxes have been reduced; that is to say, _nominally_ reduced, but not
so in fact; on the contrary, they have, in reality, been greatly
augmented. This has been done by the sleight-of-hand of paper money.
Suppose, for instance, that four years ago, I had a hundred pounds to
pay in taxes, then a hundred and thirty bushels of wheat would have
paid my share. If I have now seventy-five pounds to pay in taxes, it
will require a hundred and ninety bushels of wheat to pay my share of
taxes. Consequently, though my taxes are nominally reduced, they are,
in reality, greatly augmented. This has been done by the legerdemain
of paper money. In 1812, the pound-note was worth only thirteen
shillings in silver. It is now worth twenty shillings. Therefore, when
we now pay a pound-note to the tax-gatherer, we really pay him twenty
shillings where we before paid him thirteen shillings; and the
Landholders who lent pound-notes worth thirteen shillings each, are
now paid their interest in pounds worth twenty shillings each. And the
thing is come to what Sir Francis Burdett told the Parliament it would
come to. He told them in 1811, that if they ever attempted to pay the
interest of their debt in gold and silver, or in paper money equal in
value to gold and silver, the farmers and tradesmen must be ruined,
and the journeymen and labourers reduced to the last stage of misery.

Thus, then, it is clear that it is the weight of the taxes, under
which you are sinking, which has already pressed so many of you down
into the state of paupers, and which now threatens to deprive many of
you of your existence. We next come to consider what have been the
causes of this weight of taxes. Here we must go back a little in our
history, and you will soon see that this intolerable weight has all
proceeded from the want of a Parliamentary Reform.

In the year 1764, soon after the present king came to the throne, the
annual interest of the Debt amounted to about five millions, and the
whole of the taxes to about nine millions. But, soon after this, a war
was entered on to compel the Americans to submit to be taxed by the
Parliament, without being represented in that Parliament. The
Americans triumphed, and, after the war was over, the annual interest
of the Debt amounted to about nine millions, and the whole of the
taxes to about fifteen millions. This was our situation when the
French people began their Revolution. The French people had so long
been the slaves of a despotic government, that the friends of freedom
in England rejoiced at their emancipation. The cause of Reform, which
had never ceased to have supporters in England for a great many years,
now acquired new life, and the Reformers urged the Parliament to grant
reform, instead of going to war against the people of France. The
Reformers said: 'Give the nation reform, and you need fear no
revolution.' The Parliament, instead of listening to the Reformers,
crushed them, and went to war against the people of France; and the
consequence of these wars is, that the annual interest of the Debt now
amounts to forty-five millions, and the whole of the taxes, during
each of the last several years, to seventy millions. So that these
wars have ADDED thirty-six millions a year to the interest of the
Debt, and fifty-five millions a year to the amount of the whole of
the taxes! This is the price that we have paid for having checked (for
it is only checked) the progress of liberty in France; for having
forced upon that people the family of Bourbon, and for having enabled
another branch of that same family to restore the bloody Inquisition,
which Napoleon had put down.

Since the restoration of the Bourbons and of the old Government of
France has been, as far as possible, the grand result of the contest;
since this has been the end of all our fightings and all our past
sacrifices and present misery and degradation; let us see (for the
inquiry is now very full of interest) what sort of Government that was
which the French people had just destroyed, when our Government began
its wars against that people.

If, only twenty-eight years ago, any man in England had said that the
Government of France was one that ought to be suffered to exist, he
would have been hooted out of any company. It is notorious that that
Government was a cruel despotism; and that we and our forefathers
always called it such. This description of that Government is to be
found in all our histories, in all our Parliamentary debates, in all
our books on Government and politics. It is notorious, that the family
of Bourbon has produced the most perfidious and bloody monsters that
ever disgraced the human form. It is notorious that millions of
Frenchmen have been butchered, and burnt, and driven into exile by
their commands. It is recorded, even in the history of France, that
one of them said that the putrid carcass of a Protestant smelt sweet
to him. Even in these latter times, so late as the reign of Louis
XIV., it is notorious that hundreds of thousands of innocent people
were put to the most cruel death. In some instances, they were burnt
in their houses; in others they were shut into lower rooms, while the
incessant noise of kettle-drums over their heads, day and night, drove
them to raving madness. To enumerate all the infernal means employed
by this tyrant to torture and kill the people, would fill a volume.
Exile was the lot of those who escaped the swords, the wheels, the
axes, the gibbets, the torches of his hell-hounds. England was the
place of refuge for many of these persecuted people. The grandfather
of the present Earl of Radnor, and the father of the venerable Baron
Maseres were amongst them; and it is well known that England owes no
inconsiderable part of her manufacturing skill and industry to that
atrocious persecution. Enemies of freedom, wherever it existed, this
family of Bourbon, in the reign of Louis XIV. and XV., fitted out
expeditions for the purpose of restoring the Stuarts to the throne of
England, and thereby caused great expense and blood-shed to this
nation; and, even the Louis who was beheaded by his subjects, did, in
the most perfidious manner, make war upon England, during her war
with America. No matter what was the nature of the cause, his conduct
was perfidious; he professed peace while he was preparing for war. His
object could not be to assist freedom, because his own subjects were

Such was the family that were ruling in France when the French
Revolution began. After it was resolved to go to war against the
people of France, all the hirelings of corruption were set to work to
gloss over the character and conduct of the old Government, and to
paint in the most horrid colours the acts of vengeance which the
people were inflicting on the numerous tyrants, civil, military, and
ecclesiastical, whom the change of things had placed at their mercy.
The people's turn was now come, and, in the days of their power, they
justly bore in mind the oppressions which they and their forefathers
had endured. The taxes imposed by the Government became at last
intolerable. It had contracted a great debt to carry on its wars. In
order to be able to pay the interest of this debt, and to support an
enormous standing army in time of peace, it laid upon the people
burdens which they could no longer endure. It fined and flogged
fathers and mothers if their children were detected in smuggling. Its
courts of justice were filled with cruel and base judges. The nobility
treated the common people like dogs; these latter were compelled to
serve as soldiers, but were excluded from all share, or chance of
honour and command, which were engrossed by the nobility.

Now, when the time came for the people to have the power in their
hands, was it surprising that the first use they made of it was to
take vengeance on their oppressors? I will not answer this question
myself. It shall be answered by Mr. Arthur Young, the present
Secretary of the Board of Agriculture. He was in France at the time,
and living upon the very spot, and having examined into the causes of
the Revolution, he wrote and published the following remarks, in his
_Travels_, vol. i. page 603:--

     'It is impossible to justify the excesses of the people on
     their taking up arms; they were certainly guilty of
     cruelties; it is idle to deny the facts, for they have been
     proved too clearly to admit of doubt. But is it really the
     people to whom we are to impute the whole? Or to their
     oppressors, who had kept them so long in a state of bondage?
     He who chooses to be served by slaves and by ill-treated
     slaves, must know that he holds both his property and his
     life by a tenure far different from those who prefer the
     service of well-treated freemen; and he who dines to the
     music of groaning sufferers, must not, in the moment of
     insurrection, complain that his sons' throats are cut. When
     such evils happen, they surely are more imputable to the
     tyranny of the master than to the cruelty of the servant. The
     analogy holds with the French peasants. The murder of a
     seigneur, or a country seat in flames, is recorded in every
     newspaper; the rank of the person who suffers attracts
     notice; but where do we find the registers of that seigneur's
     oppressions of his peasantry, and his exactions of feudal
     services from those whose children were dying around them for
     want of bread? Where do we find the minutes that assigned
     these starving wretches to some vile pettifogger, to be
     fleeced by impositions, and mockery of justice, in the
     seigneural courts? Who gives us the awards of the Intendant
     and his _sub-delegues_, which took off the taxes of a man of
     fashion, and laid them with accumulated weight on the poor,
     who were so unfortunate as to be his neighbours? Who has
     dwelt sufficiently upon explaining all the ramifications of
     despotism, regal, aristocratical, and ecclesiastical,
     pervading the whole mass of the people; reaching, like a
     circulating fluid, the most distant capillary tubes of
     poverty and wretchedness? In these cases the sufferers are
     too ignoble to be known; and the mass too indiscriminate to
     be pitied. But should a philosopher feel and reason thus?
     Should he mistake the cause for the effect? and, giving all
     his pity to the few, feel no compassion for the many, because
     they suffer in his eyes not individually but by millions? The
     excesses of the people cannot, I fear, be justified; it would
     undoubtedly have done them credit, both as men and as
     Christians, if they had possessed their new acquired power
     with moderation. But let it be remembered that the populace
     in no country ever use power with moderation; excess is
     inherent in their aggregate constitution: and as every
     Government in the world knows that violence infallibly
     attends power in such hands, it is doubly bound in common
     sense, and for common safety, so to conduct itself, that the
     people may not find an interest in public confusions. They
     will always suffer much and long, before they are effectually
     roused; nothing, therefore, can kindle the flame but such
     oppressions of some classes or order in society as give able
     men the opportunity of seconding the general mass; discontent
     will diffuse itself around; and if the Government take not
     warning in time, it is alone answerable for all the burnings
     and all the plunderings and all the devastation and all the
     blood that follow.'

Who can deny the justice of these observations? It was the Government
alone that was justly chargeable with the excesses committed in this
early stage, and, in fact, in every other stage, of the Revolution of
France. If the Government had given way in time, none of these
excesses would have been committed. If it had listened to the
complaints, the prayers, the supplications, the cries of the
cruelly-treated and starving people; if it had changed its conduct,
reduced its expenses, it might have been safe under the protection of
the peace-officers, and might have disbanded its standing army. But it
persevered; it relied upon the bayonet, and upon its judges and
hangmen. The latter were destroyed, and the former went over to the
side of the people. Was it any wonder that the people burnt the houses
of their oppressors, and killed the owners and their families? The
country contained thousands upon thousands of men that had been ruined
by taxation, and by judgments of infamous courts of justice, 'a
mockery of justice'; and, when these ruined men saw their oppressors
at their feet, was it any wonder that they took vengeance upon them?
Was it any wonder that the son, who had seen his father and mother
flogged, because he, when a child, had smuggled a handful of salt,
should burn for an occasion to shoot through the head the ruffians who
had thus lacerated the bodies of his parents? Moses slew the insolent
Egyptian who had smitten one of his countrymen in bondage. Yet Moses
has never been called either a murderer or a cruel wretch for this
act; and the bondage of the Israelites was light as a feather compared
to the tyranny under which the people of France had groaned for ages.
Moses resisted oppression in the only way that resistance was in his
power. He knew that his countrymen had no chance of justice in any
court; he knew that petitions against his oppressors were all in vain;
and 'looking upon the burdens' of his countrymen, he resolved to begin
the only sort of resistance that was left him. Yet it was little more
than a mere insult that drew forth his anger and resistance; and, if
Moses was justified, as he clearly was, what needs there any apology
for the people of France?

It seems at first sight very strange that the Government of France
should not have 'taken warning in time.' But it had so long been in
the habit of despising the people that its mind was incapable of
entertaining any notion of danger from the oppressions heaped upon
them. It was surrounded with panders and parasites who told it nothing
but flattering falsehoods; and it saw itself supported by two hundred
and fifty thousand bayonets, which it thought irresistible; though it
found in the end that those who wielded those bayonets were not long
so base as to be induced, either by threats or promises, to butcher
their brothers and sisters and parents. And, if you ask me how it
came to pass that they did not 'take warning in time,' I answer that
they did take warning, but that, seeing that the change which was
coming would deprive them of a great part of their power and
emoluments, they resolved to resist the change, and to destroy the
country, if possible, rather than not have all its wealth and power to
themselves. The ruffian whom we read of, a little time ago, who
stabbed a young woman because she was breaking from him to take the
arm of another man whom she preferred, acted upon the principle of the
ministers, the noblesse, and the clergy of France. They could no
longer unjustly possess, therefore they would destroy. They saw that
if a just government were established; that if the people were fairly
represented in a national council; they saw that if this were to take
place, they would no longer be able to wallow in wealth at the expense
of the people; and, seeing this, they resolved to throw all into
confusion, and, if possible, to make a heap of ruins of that country
which they could no longer oppress, and the substance of which they
could no longer devour.

Talk of violence indeed! Was there anything too violent, anything too
severe to be inflicted on these men? It was they who produced
confusion; it was they who caused the massacres and guillotinings; it
was they who destroyed the kingly government; it was they who brought
the king to the block. They were answerable for all and for every
single part of the mischief, as much as Pharaoh was for the plagues in
Egypt, which history of Pharaoh seems, by the bye, to be intended as a
lesson to all future tyrants. He 'set taskmasters over the Israelites
to afflict them with burdens; and he made them build treasure cities
for him; he made them serve with rigour; he made their lives bitter
with hard bondage, in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of
service of the field; he denied them straw, and insisted upon their
making the same quantity of bricks, and because they were unable to
obey, the taskmasters called them idle and beat them.' Was it too much
to scourge and to destroy all the first-born of men who could
tolerate, assist, and uphold a tyrant like this? Yet was Pharaoh less
an oppressor than the old government of France.

Thus, then, we have a view of the former state of that country, by
wars against the people of which we have been brought into our present
state of misery. There are many of the hirelings of corruption, who
actually insist on it that we ought now to go to war again for the
restoring of all the cruel despotism which formerly existed in France.
This is what cannot be done, however. Our wars have sent back the
Bourbons; but the tithes, the seigneurs, and many other curses have
not been restored. The French people still enjoy much of the benefit
of the Revolution; and great numbers of their ancient petty tyrants
have been destroyed. So that even were things to remain as they are,
the French people have gained greatly by their Revolution. But things
cannot remain as they are. Better days are at hand.

In proceeding now to examine the remedies for your distresses, I shall
first notice some of those which foolish, or cruel and insolent men
have proposed. Seeing that the cause of your misery is the weight of
taxation, one would expect to hear of nothing but a reduction of
taxation in the way of remedy; but from the friends of corruption
never do we hear of any such remedy. To hear them, one would think
that _you_ had been the guilty cause of the misery you suffer; and
that you, and you alone, ought to be made answerable for what has
taken place. The emissaries of corruption are now continually crying
out against the weight of the Poor-rates, and they seem to regard all
that is taken in that way as a dead loss to the Government! Their
project is to deny relief to all who are able to work. But what is the
use of your being able to work, if no one will, or can, give you work?
To tell you that you must work for your bread, and, at the same time,
not to find any work for you, is full as bad as it would be to order
you to make bricks without straw. Indeed, it is rather more cruel and
insolent; for Pharaoh's taskmasters did point out to the Israelites
that they might go into the fields and get _stubble_. The _Courier_
newspaper of the 9th of October, says, 'We must thus be cruel only to
be kind.' I am persuaded that you will not understand this kindness,
while you will easily understand the cruelty. The notion of these
people seems to be that everybody that receives money out of the taxes
has a right to receive it, except you. They tremble at the fearful
amount of the Poor-rates: they say, and very truly, that those rates
have risen from two and a half to eight or ten millions since the
beginning of the wars against the people of France; they think, and
not without reason, that these rates will soon swallow up nearly all
the rent of the land. These assertions and apprehensions are perfectly
well founded; but how can _you_ help it? You have not had the
management of the affairs of the nation. It is not you who have ruined
the farmers and tradesmen. You only want food and raiment: you are
ready to work for it; but you cannot go naked and without food.

But the complaints of these persons against you are the more
unreasonable, because they say not a word against the sums paid to
sinecure placemen and pensioners. Of the five hundred and more
Correspondents of the Board of Agriculture, there are scarcely ten who
do not complain of the weight of the Poor-rates, of the immense sums
taken away from them by the poor, and many of them complain of the
idleness of the poor. But not one single man complains of the immense
sums taken away to support sinecure placemen, who do nothing for their
money, and to support pensioners, many of whom are women and children,
the wives and daughters of the nobility and other persons in high
life, and who can do nothing, and never can have done anything for
what they receive. There are of these places and pensions all sizes,
from twenty pounds to thirty thousand and nearly forty thousand pounds
a year! And surely these ought to be done away before any proposition
be made to take the parish allowance from any of you who are unable to
work, or to find work to do. There are several individual placemen,
the profits of each of which would maintain a thousand families. The
names of the ladies upon the pension list would, if printed, one under
another, fill a sheet of paper like this. And is it not, then, base
and cruel at the same time in these Agricultural correspondents to cry
out so loudly against the charge of supporting the unfortunate poor,
while they utter not a word of complaint against the sinecure places
and pensions?

The unfortunate journeymen and labourers and their families have a
right, they have a just claim, to relief from the purses of the rich.
For there can exist no riches and no resources which they by their
labour have not assisted to create. But I should be glad to know how
the sinecure placemen and lady pensioners have assisted to create
food and raiment, or the means of producing them. The labourer who is
out of work or ill, to-day, may be able to work, and set to work
to-morrow. While those placemen and pensioners never can work; or, at
least, it is clear that they never intend to do it.

You have been represented by the _Times_ newspaper, by the _Courier_,
by the _Morning Post_, by the _Morning Herald_, and others, as the
_scum_ of society. They say that you have no business at public
meetings; that you are rabble, and that you pay no taxes. These
insolent hirelings, who wallow in wealth, would not be able to put
their abuse of you in print were it not for your labour. You create
all that is an object of taxation; for even the land itself would be
good for nothing without your labour. But are you not taxed? Do you
pay no taxes? One of the correspondents of the Board of Agriculture
has said that care has been taken to lay as little tax as possible on
the articles used by you. One would wonder how a man could be found
impudent enough to put an assertion like this upon paper. But the
people of this country have so long been insulted by such men, that
the insolence of the latter knows no bounds.

The tax gatherers do not, indeed, come to you and demand money of you:
but there are few articles which you use, in the purchase of which you
do not pay a tax.

On your shoes, salt, beer, malt, hops, tea, sugar, candles, soap,
paper, coffee, spirits, glass of your windows, bricks and tiles,
tobacco: on all these, and many other articles you pay a tax, and even
on your loaf you pay a tax, because everything is taxed from which the
loaf proceeds. In several cases the tax amounts to more than one half
of what you pay for the article itself; these taxes go in part to
support sinecure placemen and pensioners; and the ruffians of the
hired press call you the scum of society, and deny that you have any
right to show your faces at any public meeting to petition for a
reform, or for the removal of any abuse whatever!

Mr. Preston, whom I quoted before, and who is a member of Parliament
and has a large estate, says upon this subject, 'Every family, even of
the poorest labourer, consisting of five persons, may be considered as
paying, in indirect taxes, at least ten pounds a year, or more than
half his wages at seven shillings a week!' And yet the insolent
hirelings call you the mob, the rabble, the scum, the swinish
multitude, and say that your voice is nothing; that you have no
business at public meetings; and that you are, and ought to be
considered as nothing in the body politic! Shall we never see the day
when these men will change their tone! Will they never cease to look
upon us [as on] brutes! I trust they will change their tone, and that
the day of the change is at no great distance!

The weight of the Poor-rate, which must increase while the present
system continues, alarms the corrupt, who plainly see that what is
paid to relieve you, they cannot have. Some of them, therefore, hint
at your early marriages as a great evil, and a clergyman named Malthus
has seriously proposed measures for checking you in this respect;
while one of the correspondents of the Board of Agriculture complains
of the increase of bastards, and proposes severe punishment on the
parents! How hard these men are to please! What would they have you
do? As some have called you the swinish multitude, would it be much
wonder if they were to propose to serve you as families of young pigs
are served? Or if they were to bring forward the measure of Pharaoh,
who ordered the midwives to kill all the male children of the

But, if you can restrain your indignation at these insolent notions
and schemes, with what feelings must you look upon the condition of
your country, where the increase of the people is now looked upon as a
curse! Thus, however, has it always been, in all countries where taxes
have produced excessive misery. Our countryman, Mr. Gibbon, in his
History of the _Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_, has the
following passage: 'The horrid practice of murdering their new-born
infants was become every day more frequent in the provinces. It was
the effect of _distress_, and the distress was principally occasioned
by the _intolerable burden of taxes_, and by the vexatious as well as
cruel prosecutions of the officers of the revenue against their
insolvent debtors. The less opulent or less industrious part of
mankind, instead of rejoicing at an increase of family, deemed it an
act of paternal tenderness to release the children from the impending
miseries of a life which they themselves were unable to support.'

But that which took place under the base Emperor Constantine will not
take place in England. You will not murder your new-born infants, nor
will you, to please the corrupt and insolent, debar yourselves from
enjoyments to which you are invited by the very first of Nature's
laws. It is, however, a disgrace to the country that men should be
found in it capable of putting ideas so insolent upon paper. So, then,
a young man arm-in-arm with a rosy-cheeked girl must be a spectacle of
evil omen! What! and do they imagine that you are thus to be
extinguished, because some of you are now (without any fault of yours)
unable to find work? As far as you were wanted to labour, to fight, or
to pay taxes, you were welcome, and they boasted of your numbers; but
now that your country has been brought into a state of misery, these
corrupt and insolent men are busied with schemes for getting rid of
you. Just as if you had not as good a right to live and to love and to
marry as they have! They do not propose, far from it, to check the
breeding of sinecure placemen and pensioners, who are supported in
part by the taxes which you help to pay. They say not a word about the
whole families who are upon the pension list. In many cases there are
sums granted in trust for _the children_ of such a lord or such a
lady. And while labourers and journeymen who have large families too,
are actually paying taxes for the support of these lords' and ladies'
children, these cruel and insolent men propose that they shall have no
relief, and that their having children ought to be checked! To such a
subject no words can do justice. You will feel as you ought to feel;
and to the effect of your feelings I leave these cruel and insolent

There is one more scheme to notice, which, though rather less against
nature is not less hateful and insolent; namely, to encourage you to
emigrate to foreign countries. This scheme is distinctly proposed to
the Government by one of the correspondents of the Board of
Agriculture. What he means by encouragement must be to send away by
force, or by paying for the passage; for a man who has money stands in
no need of relief. But, I trust, that not a man of you will move, let
the _encouragement_ be what it may. It is impossible for many to go,
though the prospect be ever so fair. We must stand by our country, and
it is base not to stand by her, as long as there is a chance of seeing
her what she ought to be. But the proposition is, nevertheless, base
and insolent This man did not propose to encourage the sinecure
placemen and pensioners to emigrate; yet, surely, you who help to
maintain them by the taxes which you pay, have as good a right to
remain in the country as they have! You have fathers and mothers and
sisters and brothers and children and friends as well as they; but
this base projector recommends that you may be encouraged to leave
your relations and friends for ever; while he would have the sinecure
placemen and pensioners remain quietly where they are!

No: you will not leave your country. If you have suffered much and
long, you have the greater right to remain in the hope of seeing
better days. And I beseech you not to look upon yourselves as the
_scum_; but, on the contrary, to be well persuaded that a great deal
will depend upon your exertions; and therefore, I now proceed to point
out to you what appears to me to be the line of conduct which
journeymen and labourers ought to pursue in order to obtain effectual
relief, and to assist in promoting tranquillity and restoring the
happiness of the country.

We have seen that the cause of our miseries is the burden of taxes
occasioned by wars, by standing armies, by sinecures, by pensions,
etc. It would be endless and useless to enumerate all the different
heads or sums of expenditure. The remedy is what we have now to look
to, and that remedy consists wholly and solely of such a reform in the
Commons' or People's House of Parliament, as shall give to every payer
of direct taxes a vote at elections, and as shall cause the Members to
be elected annually.

In a late _Register_ I have pointed out how easily, how peaceably, how
fairly, such a Parliament might be chosen. I am aware that it may, and
not without justice, be thought wrong to deprive those of the right of
voting who pay indirect taxes. Direct taxes are those which are
directly paid by any person into the hands of the tax-gatherers, as
the assessed rates and taxes. Indirect taxes are those which are paid
indirectly through the maker or seller of goods, as the tax on soap or
candles or salt or malt. And, as no man ought to be taxed without his
consent, there has always been a difficulty upon this head. There has
been no question about the _right_ of every man who is free to
exercise his will, who has a settled place in society, and who pays a
tax of any sort, to vote for Members of Parliament. The difficulty is
in taking the votes by any other means than by the Rate-book; for if
there be no list of tax-payers in the hands of any person, mere menial
servants, vagrants, pickpockets, and scamps of all sorts might not
only come to the poll, but they might poll in several parishes or
places, on one and the same day. A corrupt rich man might employ
scores of persons of this description, and in this way would the
purpose of reform be completely defeated. In America, where one branch
of the Congress is elected for four years and the other for two years,
they have still adhered to the principle of direct taxation, and in
some of the States they have made it necessary for a voter to be worth
one hundred pounds. Yet they have, in that country, duties on goods,
custom duties, and excise duties also; and, of course, there are many
persons who really pay taxes, and who, nevertheless, are not permitted
to vote. The people do not complain of this. They know that the number
of votes is so great that no corruption can take place, and they have
no desire to see livery servants, vagrants, and pickpockets take part
in their elections. Nevertheless it would be very easy for a reformed
Parliament, when once it had taken root, to make a just arrangement of
this matter. The most likely method would be to take off the indirect
taxes, and to put a small direct tax upon every master of a house,
however low his situation in life.

But this and all other good things, must be done by a reformed
Parliament. We must have that first, or we shall have nothing good;
and any man who would beforehand take up your time with the detail of
what a reformed Parliament ought to do in this respect, or with
respect to any changes in the form of government, can have no other
object than that of defeating the cause of reform; and, indeed, the
very act must show, that to raise obstacles is his wish.

Such men, now that they find you justly irritated, would persuade you
that, because things have been perverted from their true ends, there
is nothing good in our constitution and laws. For what, then, did
Hampden die in the field, and Sydney on the scaffold? And has it been
discovered at last that England has always been an enslaved country
from top to toe? The Americans, who are a very wise people, and who
love liberty with all their hearts, and who take care to enjoy it too,
took special care not to part with any of the great principles and
laws which they derived from their forefathers. They took special care
to speak with reverence of, and to preserve Magna Charta, the Bill of
Rights, the Habeas Corpus, and not only all the body of the Common Law
of England, but most of the rules of our courts, and all our form of
jurisprudence. Indeed it is the greatest glory of England that she has
thus supplied with sound principles of freedom those immense regions
which will be peopled perhaps by hundreds of millions.

I know of no enemy of reform and of the happiness of the country so
great as that man who would persuade you that we possess nothing good,
and that all must be torn to pieces. There is no principle, no
precedent, no regulations (except as to mere matter of detail),
favourable to freedom, which is not to be found in the Laws of
England or in the example of our ancestors. Therefore I say we may ask
for, and we want nothing new. We have great constitutional laws and
principles to which we are immovably attached. We want great
alteration, but we want nothing new. Alteration, modification, to suit
the times and circumstances; but the great principles ought to be and
must, be the same, or else confusion will follow.

It was the misfortune of the French people that they had no great and
settled principles to refer to in their laws or history. They sallied
forth and inflicted vengeance on their oppressors; but, for want of
settled principles to which to refer they fell into confusion; they
massacred each other; they next flew to a military chief to protect
them even against themselves; and the result has been what we too well
know. Let us therefore congratulate ourselves that we have great
constitutional principles and laws, to which we can refer, and to
which we are attached.

That reform will come I know, if the people do their duty; and all
that we have to guard against is confusion, which cannot come if
reform take place in time. I have before observed to you that when the
friends of corruption in France saw that they could not prevent a
change, they bent their endeavours to produce confusion, in which they
fully succeeded. They employed numbers of unprincipled men to go about
the country proposing all sorts of mad schemes. They produced first a
confusion in men's minds, and next a civil war between provinces,
towns, villages and families. The tyrant Robespierre, who was exceeded
in cruelty only by some of the Bourbons, was proved to have been in
league with the open enemies of France. He butchered all the real
friends of freedom whom he could lay his hands on, except Paine, whom
he shut up in a dungeon till he was reduced to a skeleton. This
monster was at last put to death himself; and his horrid end ought to
be a warning to any man who may wish to walk in the same path. But I
am, for my part, in little fear of the influence of such men. They
cannot cajole you as Robespierre cajoled the people of Paris. It is,
nevertheless, necessary for you to be on your guard against them, and
when you hear a man talking big and hectoring about projects which go
further than a real and radical reform of the Parliament, be you well
assured that that man would be a second Robespierre if he could, and
that he would make use of you and sacrifice the life of the very last
man of you; that he would ride upon the shoulders of some through
rivers of the blood of others, for the purpose of gratifying his own
selfish and base and insolent ambition.

In order effectually to avoid the rock of confusion, we should keep
steadily in our eye not only what we wish to be done but what can be
done now. We know that such a reform as would send up a Parliament,
chosen by all payers of direct taxes, is not only just and
reasonable, but easy of execution. I am therefore for accomplishing
that object first; and I am not at all afraid that a set of men who
would really hold the purse of the people, and who had been just
chosen freely by the people, would very soon do everything that the
warmest friend of freedom could wish to see done.

While, however, you are upon your guard against false friends, you
should neglect no opportunity of doing all that is within your power
to give support to the cause of reform. Petition is the channel for
your sentiments, and there is no village so small that its petition
would not have some weight. You ought to attend at every public
meeting within your reach. You ought to read to and to assist, each
other in coming at a competent knowledge of all public matters. Above
all things, you ought to be unanimous in your object, and not suffer
yourselves to be divided.

The subject of religion has nothing to do with this great question of
reform. A reformed Parliament would soon do away with all religious
distinctions and disabilities. In their eyes, a Catholic and a
Protestant would both appear in the same light.

The _Courier_, the _Times_, and other emissaries of corruption, are
constantly endeavouring to direct your wrath against bakers, brewers,
butchers, and other persons who deal in the necessaries of life. But,
I trust that you are not to be stimulated to such a species of
violence. These tradesmen are as much in distress as you. They cannot
help their malt and hops and beer and bread and meat being too dear
for you to purchase. They all sell as cheap as they can, without being
absolutely ruined. The beer you drink is more than half _tax_, and
when the tax has been paid by the seller he must have payment back
again from you who drink, or he must be ruined. The baker has numerous
taxes to pay, and so has the butcher, and so has the miller and the
farmer. Besides, all men are eager to sell, and, if they could sell
cheaper they certainly would, because that would be the sure way of
getting more custom. It is the weight of the taxes which presses us
all to the earth, except those who receive their incomes out of those
taxes. Therefore I exhort you most earnestly not to be induced to lay
violent hands on those who really suffer as much as yourselves.

On the subject of lowering wages too, you ought to consider that your
employers cannot give to you that which they have not. At present,
corn is high in price, but that high price is no benefit to the
farmer, because it has risen from the badness of the crop, which Mr.
Hunt foretold at the Common Hall, and for the foretelling of which he
was so much abused by the hirelings of the press, who, almost up to
this very moment, have been boasting and thanking God for the goodness
of the crop! The farmer whose corn is half destroyed, gains nothing by
selling the remaining half for double the price at which he would
have sold the whole. If I grow 10 quarters of wheat, and if I save it
all and sell it for two pounds a quarter, I receive as much money as
if I had sold the one-half of it for four pounds a quarter. And I am
better off in the former case, because I want wheat for seed, and
because I want some to consume myself. These matters I recommend to
your serious consideration; because it being unjust to fall upon your
employers to force them to give that which they have not to give, your
conduct in such cases must tend to weaken the great cause in which we
ought all now to be engaged, namely the removal of our burdens through
the means of a reformed Parliament. It is the interest of vile men of
all descriptions to set one part of the people against the other part;
and therefore it becomes you to be constantly on your guard against
their allurements.

When journeymen find their wages reduced, they should take time to
reflect on the real cause, before they fly on their employers, who are
in many cases in as great or greater distress than themselves. How
many of those employers have of late gone to jail for debt and left
helpless families behind them! The employer's trade falls off. His
goods are reduced in price. His stock loses the half of its value. He
owes money. He is ruined; and how can he continue to pay high wages?
The cause of his ruin is the weight of the taxes, which presses so
heavily on us all, that we lose the power of purchasing goods. But it
is certain that a great many, a very large portion of the farmers,
tradesmen, and manufacturers, have, by their supineness and want of
public spirit, contributed towards the bringing of this ruin upon
themselves and upon you. They have _skulked_ from their public duty.
They have kept aloof from, or opposed all measures for a redress of
grievances; and indeed, they still skulk, though ruin and destruction
stare them in the face. Why do they not now come forward and explain
to you the real cause of the reduction of your wages? Why do they not
put themselves at your head in petitioning for redress? This would
secure their property much better than the calling in of troops, which
can never afford them more than a short and precarious security. In
the days of their prosperity they were amply warned of what has now
come to pass; and the far greater part of them abused and calumniated
those who gave them the warning. Even if they would now act the part
of men worthy of being relieved, the relief to us all would speedily
follow. If they will not; if they will still skulk, they will merit
all the miseries which they are destined to suffer.

Instead of coming forward to apply for a reduction of those taxes
which are pressing them as well as you to the earth, what are they
doing? Why, they are applying to the Government to add to their
receipts by passing Corn Bills, by preventing foreign wool from being
imported; and many other silly schemes. Instead of asking for a
reduction of taxes they are asking for the means of paying taxes!
Instead of asking for the abolition of sinecure places and pensions,
they pray to be enabled to continue to pay the amount of those places
and pensions! They know very well that the salaries of the judges and
of many other persons were greatly raised, some years ago, on the
ground of the rise in the price of labour and provisions, why then do
they not ask to have those salaries reduced, now that labour is
reduced? Why do they not apply to the case of the judges and others
the arguments which they apply to you? They can talk boldly enough to
you; but they are too great cowards to talk to the Government, even in
the way of petition! Far more honourable is it to be a ragged pauper
than to be numbered among such men.

These people call themselves the _respectable_ part of the nation.
They are, as they pretend, the virtuous part of the people, because
they are quiet; as if virtue consisted in immobility! There is a
canting Scotchman in London, who publishes a paper called the
'_Champion_' who is everlastingly harping upon the virtues of the
'fireside,' and who inculcates the duty of quiet submission. Might we
ask this Champion of the teapot and milk-jug whether Magna Charta and
the Bill of Rights were won by the fireside? Whether the tyrants of
the House of Stuart and of Bourbon were hurled down by fireside
virtues? Whether the Americans gained their independence, and have
preserved their freedom, by sitting by the fireside? O, no! these were
all achieved by action, and amidst bustle and noise. Quiet indeed! Why
in this quality a log, or a stone, far surpasses even the pupils of
this Champion of quietness; and the chairs round his fireside exceed
those who sit in them. But in order to put these quiet, fireside,
respectable people to the test, let us ask them if they approve of
drunkenness, breaches of the peace, black eyes, bloody noses, fraud,
bribery, corruption, perjury, and subornation of perjury; and if they
say no, let us ask them whether these are not going on all over the
country at every general election. If they answer yes, as they must
unless they be guilty of wilful falsehood, will they then be so good
as to tell us how they reconcile their inactivity with sentiments of
virtue? Some men, in all former ages, have been held in esteem for
their wisdom, their genius, their skill, their valour, their devotion
to country, etc., but never until this age, was _quietness_ deemed a
quality to be extolled. It would be no difficult matter to show that
the quiet, fireside gentry are the most callous and cruel, and,
therefore, the most wicked part of the nation. Amongst them it is that
you find all the peculators, all the blood-suckers of various degrees,
all the borough-voters and their offspring, all the selfish and
unfeeling wretches, who, rather than risk the disturbing of their
ease for one single month, rather than go a mile to hold up their hand
at a public meeting, would see half the people perish with hunger and
cold. The humanity, which is continually on their lips, is all
fiction. They weep over the tale of woe in a novel; but round their
'decent fireside,' never was compassion felt for a real sufferer, or
indignation at the acts of a powerful tyrant.

The object of the efforts of such writers is clearly enough seen. Keep
all _quiet_! Do not rouse! Keep still! Keep down! Let those who
perish, perish in silence! It will, however, be out of the power of
these quacks, with all their laudanum, to allay the blood which is now
boiling in the veins of the people of this kingdom; who, if they are
doomed to perish, are at any rate resolved not to perish in silence.
The writer whom I have mentioned above, says that he, of course, does
not count 'the lower classes, who, under the pressure of need or under
the influence of ignorant prejudice, may blindly and weakly rush upon
certain and prompt punishment; but that the security of every decent
fireside, every respectable father's best hopes for his children,
still connect themselves with the Government.' And by Government he
clearly means all the mass as it now stands. There is nobody so
callous and so insolent as your sentimental quacks and their patients.
How these 'decent fireside' people would stare, if some morning they
were to come down and find them occupied by uninvited visitors! I
hope they never will. I hope that things will never come to this pass:
but if one thing more than any other tends to produce so sad an
effect, it is the cool insolence with which such men as this writer
treats the most numerous and most suffering classes of the people.

Long as this Address already is, I cannot conclude without some
observations on the 'Charity Subscriptions' at the London Tavern. The
object of this subscription professes to be to afford relief to the
distressed labourers, etc. About forty thousand pounds have been
subscribed, and there is no probability of its going much further.
There is an absurdity on the face of the scheme; for, as all parishes
are compelled by law to afford relief to every person in distress, it
is very clear that, as far as money is given by these people to
relieve the poor, there will be so much saved in the parish rates. But
the folly of the thing is not what I wish you most to attend to.
Several of the subscribers to this fund receive each of them more than
ten thousand pounds and some more than thirty thousand pounds each,
out of those taxes which you help to pay, and which emoluments not a
man of them proposes to give up. The clergy appear very forward in
this subscription. An Archbishop and a Bishop assisted at the forming
of the scheme. Now then, observe that there has been given out of the
taxes, for several years past, one hundred thousand pounds a year,
for what, think you? Why for the relief of the poor clergy! I have no
account at hand later than that delivered last year, and there I find
this sum!--for the poor clergy! The rich clergy do not pay this sum;
but it comes out of those taxes, part, and a large part of which you
pay on your beer, malt, salt, shoes, etc. I daresay that the 'decent
firesides' of these poor clergy still connect themselves with the
Government. Amongst all our misery we have had to support the
intolerable disgrace of being an object of the charity of a Bourbon
Prince, while we are paying for supporting that family upon the throne
of France. Well! But is this all? We are taxed, at the very same
moment, for the support of the French Emigrants! And you shall see to
what amount. Nay, not only French, but Dutch and others, as appears
from the forementioned account laid before Parliament last year. The
sum, paid out of the taxes, in one year, for the relief of suffering
French Clergy and Laity, St. Domingo Sufferers, Dutch Emigrants,
Corsican Emigrants, was one hundred and eighty-seven thousand seven
hundred and fifty pounds; yes, one hundred and eighty-seven thousand
seven hundred and fifty pounds paid to this set in one year out of
those taxes of which you pay so large a share, while you are insulted
with a subscription to relieve you, and while there are projectors who
have the audacity to recommend schemes for preventing you from
marrying while young, and to induce you to emigrate from your
country! I'll venture my life that the 'decent firesides' of all this
swarm of French clergy and laity, and Dutch, and Corsicans, and St.
Domingo sufferers 'still connect themselves closely with the
Government'; and I will also venture my life that you do not stand in
need of one more word to warm every drop of blood remaining in your
bodies! As to the money subscribed by regiments of soldiers, whose pay
arises from taxes in part paid by you, though it is a most shocking
spectacle to behold, I do not think so much of it. The soldiers are
your fathers, brothers, and sons. But if they were all to give their
whole pay, and if they amount to one hundred and fifty thousand men,
it would not amount to one-half of what is now paid in Poor-rates, and
of course would not add half a pound of bread to every pound which the
unhappy paupers now receive. All the expenses of the Army and Ordnance
amount to an enormous sum--to sixteen or eighteen millions; but the
pay of one hundred and fifty thousand men, at a shilling a day each,
amounts to no more than two million seven hundred and twelve thousand
five hundred pounds. So that, supposing them all to receive a shilling
a day each, the soldiers receive only about a third part of the sum
now paid annually in Poor-rates.

I have no room, nor have I any desire, to appeal to your passions upon
this occasion. I have laid before you, with all the clearness I am
master of, the causes of our misery, the measures which have led to
those causes, and I have pointed out what appears to me to be the only
remedy--namely a reform of the Commons', or People's House of
Parliament. I exhort you to proceed in a peaceable and lawful manner,
but at the same time to proceed with zeal and resolution in the
attainment of this object. If the skulkers will not join you, if the
'decent fireside' gentry still keep aloof, proceed by yourselves. Any
man can draw up a petition, and any man can carry it up to London,
with instructions to deliver it into trusty hands, to be presented
whenever the House shall meet. Some further information will be given
as to this matter in a future Number. In the meanwhile, I remain your
Friend, WM. COBBETT.


_On the new Cheat which is now on foot, and which goes under the name
of Savings Banks_

_November 7th, 1818._

Friend Jack--You sometimes hear the Parson talk about deceivers, who
go about in sheep's clothing; but who inwardly are ravening wolves.
You frequently hear of the tricks of the London cheats, and I daresay
you have often enough witnessed those of mountebanks and gypsies. But,
Jack, all the tricks of these deceivers and cheaters, if the trickery
of them all were put together, would fall far short of the trick now
playing off under the name of Savings Banks. And seeing that it is
possible that you may be exposed to the danger of having a few pounds
picked out of your pocket by this trick, I think it right to put you
on your guard against the cheat.

You have before been informed of who and what the Boroughmongers are.
Therefore, at present, I shall enter into no explanation of their
recent conduct. But, in order to give you a clear view of their
motives in this new trick, and which, I think, is about the last in
their budget, I must go back and tell you something of the history of
their Debt, and of what are called the Funds. Some years ago the
Boroughmongers put me into a loathsome prison for two years, made me
pay a thousand pounds fine, and made me enter into recognisances for
seven years, only because I expressed my indignation at the flogging
of Englishmen, in the heart of England, under the superintendence of
hired German troops brought into the country to keep the people in
awe. It pleased God, Jack, to preserve my life and health, while I was
in that prison. And I employed a part of my time in writing a little
book entitled _Paper against Gold_. In this little book I fully
explained all the frauds of what is called the _National Debt_, and
of what are called the _Funds_. But as it is possible that you may not
have seen that little book, I will here tell you enough about these
things to make you see the reasons for the Boroughmongers using this
trick of Savings Banks.

The Boroughmongers are, you know, those persons (some Lords, some
Baronets, and some Esquires, as they call themselves) who fill, or
nominate others to fill, the seats in the House of Commons. _Commons_
means the mass of the _people_. So that this is the House of the
People, according to the law of the land. The people--you, I, and all
of us, ought to vote for the men who sit in this House. But the said
Lords, Baronets, and Esquires have taken our rights away, and they
nominate the Members themselves. A _monger_ is a _dealer_, as
ironmonger, cheesemonger, and the like: and as the Lords, Baronets,
and Esquires sometimes sell and sometimes buy seats, and as the seats
are said to be filled by the people in certain Boroughs, these Lords,
Baronets, and Esquires are very properly called _Boroughmongers_; that
is to say, dealers in boroughs or in the seats of boroughs. As all
laws and all other matters of government are set up and enforced at
the will of the two Houses, against whose will the king cannot stir
hand or foot; and as the Boroughmongers fill the seats of the two
Houses, they have all the power, and, of course, the king and the
people have none. Being possessed of all the power; being able to tax
us at their pleasure; being able to hang us for whatever they please
to call a crime; they will, of course, do with our property and
persons just what they please. And accordingly, they take from us more
than the half of our earnings; and they keep soldiers (whom they
deceive) to shoot at us and kill us, if we attempt to resist. They put
us in dungeons when they like. And, in Ireland, they compel people to
remain shut up in their houses from sunset to sunrise, and if any man,
contrary to their commands, goes out of his house in the night, in
order to go to the privy, they punish him very severely; and in that
unhappy country they transport men and women to Botany Bay without any
trial by jury, and merely by the orders of two justices of the peace
appointed by themselves.

This, Jack, is horrid work to be going on amongst a people who call
themselves _free_; amongst a people who boast of their liberties. But
the facts are so; and now I shall explain to you how the
Boroughmongers, who are so few in number compared to the whole people,
are able to commit these cruel acts and to carry on this abominable
tyranny; and you will see that the trick of Savings Banks makes a part
of the means, which they now intend to use for the perpetuating of
this tyranny.

Formerly, more than a hundred years ago, when the kings of England
had some real power, and before the Boroughmongers took all the powers
of king and people into their hands, the people, when the kings
behaved amiss, used to rise against them and compel them to act
justly. They beheaded Charles the First about one hundred and seventy
years ago; and they drove James the Second out of the kingdom; they
went so far as to set his family aside for ever, and they put up the
present royal family in its stead.

This was all very well; but when King James had been driven out, the
Lords and Baronets and Squires conceived the notion of ruling for ever
over king and people. They made Parliaments, which used to be annual,
three years of duration; and when the members had been elected for
three years, the members themselves made a law to make the people obey
them for seven years. Thus was the usurpation completed; and from that
time to this the Boroughmongers have filled the seats just as it has
pleased them to do it; and they have, as I said before, done with our
property and our persons just what they have pleased to do.

Now it will naturally be matter of wonder to you, friend Jack, that
this small band of persons, and of debauched wretched persons too, any
half dozen of whom you would be able to beat with one hand tied down;
it will be matter of wonder to you that this contemptible band should
have been able thus to subjugate, and hold in bondage so degrading,
the whole of the English people. But, Jack, recollect that once a
parcel of fat, lazy, drinking, and guttling monks and friars were able
to make this same people to work and support them in their laziness
and debaucheries, aye, and almost to adore them, too; to go to them,
and kneel down and confess their sins to them, and to believe that it
was in their power to absolve them of their sins. Now how was it that
these fat, these bastard-propagating rascals succeeded in making the
people do this? Why by fraud; by deception; by cheatery; by making
them believe lies; by frightening them half out of their wits; by
making them believe that they would go to hell if they did not work
for them. A ten-thousandth part of the people were able to knock the
greasy vagabonds on the head; and they would have done it too; but
they were afraid of going to hell if they had no priest to pardon

Thus did these miscreants govern by fraud. The Boroughmongers, as I
shall by and by show, have of late been compelled to resort to open
force; but for a long while they governed by fraud alone. First they,
by the artful and able agents which they have constantly kept in pay,
frightened the people with the pretended dangers of a return of the
old king's family. The people were amused with this scarecrow, while
the chains were silently forging to bind them with. But the great
fraud, the cheat of all cheats, was what they call the national debt.
And now, Jack, pray attend to me; for I am going to explain the chief
cause of all the disgraces and sufferings of the labourers in England;
and am also going to explain the reasons or motives which the
Boroughmongers have for setting on foot this new fraud of Savings
Banks. I beg you, Jack, if you have no other leisure time, to stay at
home instead of going to church, for one single Sunday. Shave
yourself, put on a clean shirt, and sit down and read this letter ten
times over, until you understand every word of it. And if you do that,
you will laugh at the parson and tax-gatherer's coaxings about Savings
Banks. You will keep your odd pennies to yourself; or lay them out in
bread or bacon.

You have heard, I daresay, a great deal about the national debt; and
now I will tell you what this thing is, and how it came, and then you
will see what an imposture it is, and how shamefully the people of
England have been duped and robbed.

The Boroughmongers having usurped all the powers of government, and
having begun to pocket the public money at a great rate, the people
grew discontented. They began to think that they had done wrong in
driving King James away. In a pretty little fable-book, there is a
fable which says that the frogs, who had a log of wood for king,
prayed to Jupiter to send them something more active. He sent them a
stork, or heron, which gobbled them up alive by scores! The people of
England found in the Boroughmongers what the poor frogs found in the
stork; and they began to cry out against them and to wish for the old
king back again.

The Boroughmongers saw their danger, and they adopted measures to
prevent it. They saw that if they could make it the interest of a
great many rich people to uphold them and their system they should be
able to get along. They therefore passed a law to enable themselves to
borrow money of rich people; and by the same law they imposed it on
the people at large to pay, for ever, the interest of the money so by
them borrowed.

The money which they thus borrowed they spent in wars, or divided
amongst themselves, in one shape or another. Indeed the money spent in
wars was pocketed, for the greater part, by themselves. Thus they
owed, in time, immense sums of money; and as they continued to pass
laws to compel the nation at large to pay the interest of what they
borrowed, spent and pocketed, they called and still call this debt,
the debt of the nation; or, in the usual words, the national debt.

It is curious to observe that there has seldom been known in the world
any very wicked and mischievous scheme of which a priest of some
description or other was not at the bottom. This scheme, certainly as
wicked in itself as any that was ever known, and far more mischievous
in its consequences than any other, was the offspring of a Bishop of
Salisbury, whose name was Burnet; a name that we ought to teach our
very children to execrate. This crafty priest was made a Bishop for
his invention of this scheme; a fit reward for such a service.

The Boroughmongers began this debt one hundred and twenty-four years
ago. They have gone on borrowing ever since; and have never paid off
one farthing, and never can. They have continued to pass Acts to make
the people pay the interest of what has been borrowed; till, at last,
the debt itself amounts to more than all the lands, all the houses,
all the trees, all the canals and all the mines would sell for at
their full sterling value; and the money to pay the interest is taken
out of men's rents and out of their earnings; and you, Jack, as I
shall by and by prove to you, pay to the Boroughmongers more than the
half of what you receive in weekly wages from your master.

Is not this a pretty state of things? Pray observe, Jack, the debt far
exceeds the real full value of the whole kingdom, if there could be a
purchaser found for it. So that, you see, as to private property no
man has any, as long as this debt hangs upon the country. Your master,
Farmer Gripe, for instance, calls his farm _his_. It is none of his,
according to the Boroughmongers' law; for that law has pawned it for
the payment of the interest of the Boroughmongers' debt; and the pawn
must remain as long as the Boroughmongers' law remains. Gripe is
compelled to pay out of the yearly value of his farm a certain portion
to the debt. He may, indeed, sell the farm; but he can get only a part
of the value; because the purchaser will have to pay a yearly sum on
account of the pawn. In short, the Boroughmongers have, in fact,
passed laws to take every man's private property away from him, in
whatever portions their debt may demand such taking away; and a man
who thinks himself an owner of land, is at best only a steward who
manages it for the Boroughmongers.

This, however, is only a small part of the evil; for the whole of the
rents of the houses and lands and mines and canals would not pay the
interest of this debt; no, and not much more than the half of it. The
labour is therefore pawned too. Every man's labour is pawned for the
payment of the interest of this debt. Aye, Jack, you may think that
you are working for yourself, and that, when on a Saturday night you
take nine shillings from Farmer Gripe, the shillings are for your own
use. You are grievously deceived, for more than half the sum is paid
to the Boroughmongers on account of the pawn. You do not see this, but
the fact is so. Come, what are the things in which you expend the nine
shillings? Tea, sugar, tobacco, candles, salt, soap, shoes, beer,
bread; for no meat do you ever taste. On the articles taken together,
except bread, you pay far more than half tax; and you will observe
that your master's taxes are, in part, pinched out of you. There is an
army employed in Ireland to go with the excisemen and other taxers to
make the people pay. If the taxers were to wait at the ale houses and
grocers' shops, and receive their portion from your own hands, you
would then clearly see that the Boroughmongers take away more than the
half of what you earn. You would then clearly see what it is that
makes you poor and ragged, and that makes your children cry for the
want of a bellyful. You would clearly see that what the hypocrites
tell you about this being your lot, and about Providence placing you
in such a state in order to try your patience and faith, is all a base
falsehood. Why does not Providence place the Boroughmongers and the
parsons in a state to try their patience and faith? Is Providence less
anxious to save them than to save you? If you could see clearly what
you pay on account of the Boroughmongers' pawn, you would see that
your misery arises from the designs of a benevolent Providence being
counteracted by the measures of the Borough-tyrants.

Your lot, indeed! Your lot assigned by Providence! This is real
blasphemy! Just as if Providence, which sends the salt on shore all
round our coast, had ordained that you should not have any of it
unless you would pay the Boroughmongers fifteen shillings a bushel tax
upon it! But what a Providence must that be which would ordain that an
Englishman should pay fifteen shillings tax on a bushel of English
salt, while a Long Islander pays only two shillings and sixpence for a
bushel of the same salt, after it is brought to America from England?
What an idea must we have of such a Providence as this? Oh no, Jack;
this is not the work of Providence. It is the work of the
Boroughmongers; the pretext about Providence has been invented to
deceive and cheat you, and to perpetuate your slavery.

Well: all is pawned then. The land, the houses, the canals, the mines,
and the labour are pawned for the payment of the interest of the
Boroughmongers debt. Your labour, mind, Jack, is pawned for the
one-half of its worth. But you will naturally ask, how is it that the
nation, that everybody submits to this? There's your mistake, Jack. It
is not _everybody_ that submits. In the first place there are the
Boroughmongers themselves and all their long tribe of relations,
legitimate and spurious, who profit from the taxes, and who have the
church livings, which they enjoy without giving the poor any part of
their legal share of those livings. Then there are all the officers of
army and navy, and all the endless hosts of place-men and place-women,
pensioned men and pensioned women, and all the hosts of tax-gatherers,
who alone, these last I mean, swallow more than would be necessary to
carry on the Government under a reformed Parliament. But have you
forgotten the lenders of the money which makes the debt? These people
live wholly upon the interest of the debt; and of course they approve
of your labour, and the labour of every man being pawned. The
Boroughmongers have pawned your labour to them. Therefore they like
that your labour should be taxed. They cannot be said to submit to the
tyranny; they applaud it, and to their utmost they support it.

But you will say, still the mass of the people would, if they had a
mind to bestir themselves, be too strong for all these. Very true. But
you forget the army, Jack. This is a great military force, armed with
bayonets, bullets and cannon-balls, ready at all times and in all
places to march or gallop to attack the people, if they attempt to eat
sugar or salt without paying the tax. There are forts, under the name
of barracks, all over the kingdom, where armed men are kept in
readiness for this purpose. In Ireland they actually go in person to
help to collect the taxes; and in England they are always ready to do
the same. Now, suppose, Jack, that a man who has a bit of land by the
seaside, were to take up a little of the salt that Providence sends on
shore. He would be prosecuted. He would resist the process. Soldiers
would come and take him away to be tried and _hanged_. Suppose you,
Jack, were to dip your rushes into grease, till they came to farthing
candles. The Excise would prosecute you. The sheriff would send men to
drag you to jail. You would fight in defence of your house and home.
You would beat off the sheriff's men. Soldiers would come and kill
you, or would take you away to be hanged.

This is the thing by which the Boroughmongers govern. There are enough
who would gladly not submit to their tyranny; but there is nobody but
themselves who has an army at command.

Nevertheless they are not altogether easy under these circumstances.
An army is a two-edged weapon. It may cut the employer as well as the
thing that it is employed upon. It is made up of flesh and blood, and
of English flesh and blood too. It may not always be willing to move,
or to strike when moved. The Boroughmongers see that their titles and
estates hang upon the army. They would fain coax the people back again
to feelings of reverence and love. They would fain wheedle them into
something that shall blunt their hostility. They have been trying
Bible-schemes, school-schemes, and soup-schemes. And at last they are
trying the Savings Banks scheme, upon which I shall now more
particularly address you.

This thing is of the same nature, and its design is the same, as those
of the grand scheme of Bishop Burnet. The people are discontented.
They feel their oppressions; they seek a change; and some of them have
decidedly protested against paying any longer any part of the
interest of the debt, which they say ought to be paid, if at all, by
those who have borrowed and spent, or pocketed, the money. Now then,
in order to enlist great numbers of labourers and artisans on their
side, the Boroughmongers have fallen upon the scheme of coaxing them
to put small sums into what they call _banks_. These sums they pay
large interest upon, and suffer the parties to take them out whenever
they please. By this scheme they think to bind great numbers to them
and their tyranny. They think that great numbers of labourers and
artisans, seeing their little sums increase, as they will imagine,
will begin to conceive the hopes of becoming rich by such means; and
as these persons are to be told that their money is in the _funds_,
they will soon imbibe the spirit of fundholders, and will not care who
suffers, or whether freedom or slavery prevail, so that the funds be
but safe.

Such is the scheme and such the motives. It will fail of its object,
though not unworthy the inventive powers of the servile knaves of
Edinburgh. It will fail, first because the men from whom alone the
Borough-tyrants have anything to dread, will see through the scheme
and despise it; and will, besides, well know that the funds are a mere
bubble that may burst, or be bursted at any moment. The parsons appear
to be the main tools in this coaxing scheme. They are always at the
head of everything which they think likely to support tyranny. The
depositors will be domestic servants, particularly women, who will be
tickled with the idea of having a fortune in the funds. The
Boroughmongers will hint to their tenants that they must get their
labourers into the Savings Banks. A preference will be given to such
as deposit. The Ladies, the 'Parsons' Ladies,' will scold poor people
into the funds. The parish officers will act their part in this
compulsory process: and thus will the Boroughmongers get into their
hands some millions of the people's money by a sort of 'forced loan':
or in other words, a robbery. In order to swell the thing out, the
parsons and other tools of the Boroughmongers will lend money in this
way themselves, under feigned names; and we shall, if the system last
a year or two, hear boastings of how rich the poor are become.

Now then, Jack, supposing it possible that Farmer Gripe may, under
pain of being turned out of your cottage, have made you put your
twopence a week into one of these banks, let us see what is the
natural consequence of your so doing. Twopence a week is eight
shillings and eightpence a year; and the interest will make the amount
about nine shillings perhaps. What use is this to you? Will you let it
remain; and will you go on thus for years? You must go on a great many
years, indeed, before your deposit amounts to as much as the
Boroughmongers take from you in one year! Twopence will buy you a
quarter of a pound of meat. This is a dinner for your wife or
yourself. You never taste meat. And why are you to give up half a
pound of your bread to the Boroughmongers. You are ill; your wife is
ill; your children are ill. 'Go to the bank and take out your money,'
says the overseer; 'for I'll give you no aid till that be spent.' Thus
then, you will have been robbing your own starved belly weekly, to no
other end than that of favouring the parish purse, upon which you have
a just and legal claim, until the clergy restore to the poor what they
have taken from them. As the thing now stands, the poor are starved by
others, this scheme is intended to make them assist in the work
themselves, at the same time that it binds them to the tyranny.

But, Jack, what a monstrous thing is this, that the Boroughmongers
should kindly pass an Act to induce you to save your money, while they
take from you five shillings out of every nine that you earn? Why not
take less from you! That would be the more natural way to go to work,
surely. Why not leave you all your earnings to yourself? Oh, no! They
cannot do that. It is from the labour of men like you that the far
greater part of the money comes to enrich the Boroughmongers, their
relations and dependants.

However, suppose you have gotten together five pounds in a Savings
Bank. That is to say in the funds. This is a great deal for you,
though it is not half so much as you are compelled to give to the
Boroughmongers in one year. This is a great sum. It is much more than
you ever will have; but suppose you have it. It is _in the funds_,
mind. And now let me tell you what the funds are; which is necessary
if you have not read my little book called _Paper against Gold._ The
funds is _no place_ at all, Jack. It is nothing, Jack. It is
moonshine. It is a lie, a bubble, a fraud, a cheat, a humbug. And it
is all these in the most perfect degree. People think that the funds
is a place where money is kept. They think that it is a place which
contains that which they have deposited. But the fact is, that the
funds is a word which means nothing that the most of the people think
it means. It means the _descriptions of the several sorts of the
debt_. Suppose I owed money to a tailor, to a smith, to a shoemaker,
to a carpenter, and that I had their several bills in my house. I
should in the language of the Boroughmongers, call these bills my
_funds_. The Boroughmongers owe some people annuities at three pounds
for a hundred; some at four pounds for a hundred; some at five pounds
for a hundred; and these annuities, or debts they call their funds.
And, Jack, if the Savings Bank people lend them a good parcel of
money, they will have that money in these debts or funds. They will be
owners of some of those debts which never will and never can be paid.

But what is this money too in which you are to be paid back again? It
is no money. It is paper; and though that paper will pass just at this
time; it will not long pass, I can assure you, Jack. When you have
worked a fortnight, and get a pound note for it, you set a high value
upon the note, because it brings you food. But suppose nobody would
take the note from you. Suppose no one would give you anything in
exchange for it. You would go back to Farmer Gripe and fling the note
in his face. You would insist upon real money, and you would get it,
or you would tear down his house. This is what will happen, Jack, in a
very short time.

I will explain to you, Jack, how this matter stands. Formerly
bank-notes were as good as real money, because anybody that had one
might go at any moment, and get real money for it at the Bank. But now
the thing is quite changed. The Bank broke some years ago; that is to
say, it could not pay its notes in real money; and it never has been
able to do it from that time to this; and what is more, it never can
do it again. To be sure the paper passes at present. You take it for
your work, and others take it of you for bread and tea. But the time
may be, and I believe is, very near at hand, when this paper will not
pass at all; and then as the Boroughmongers and the Savings Bank
people have, and can have, no real money, how are you to get your five
pounds back again?

The bank-notes may be all put down at any moment, if any man of
talent and resolution choose to put them down; and why may not such a
man exist, and have the Disposition to put them down? They are now of
value, as I said before, because they will pass; because people will
take them and will give victuals and drink for them; but, if nobody
would give bread and tea and beer for them, would they then be good
for anything? They are taken because people are pretty sure that they
can pass them again; but who will take them when he does not think
that he can pass them again? And I assure you, Jack, that even I
myself could, before next May-day, do that which would prevent any man
in England from ever taking a bank-note any more. If you should put
five pounds into a Savings Bank, therefore, you could, in such case,
never see a farthing in exchange for it.

This being a matter of so much importance to you, I will clearly
explain to you how I might easily do the thing. Mind, I do not say
that I will do the thing. Indeed, I will not; and I do not know any
one that intends to do it. But I will show you how I _might_ do it;
because it is right that you should know what a ticklish state your
poor five pounds will be in if you deposit them in the Savings Bank.

You know, Jack, that _forged_ notes pass till people find them out.
They keep passing very quietly till they come to the Bank, and there
being known for forged notes, the man who carries them to the Bank, or
owns them at the time, loses the amount of them. Suppose now, that Tom
were to forge a note, and pay it to Dick for a pig. Dick would pay it
to Bob for some tea. Bob would send it up to London to pay his
tea-man. The tea-man would send it to the Bank. The Bank would keep
it, and give him nothing for it. If the tea-man forgot whom he got it
from, he must lose. If he could prove that he got it from Bob, Bob
must lose it; and so on; but either Dick or Bob or the tea-man must
lose it. There must be a loss somewhere.

Now, it is clear that if there were a great quantity of forged notes
in circulation, people would be afraid to take notes at all; and that
if this great quantity came out all of a sudden, it would for a while
put an end to all payments and all trade. And if such great quantity
can with safety be put out, I leave you to guess, Jack, at the
situation of your five pounds. I will now show you, then, that I could
do this myself, and with perfect safety and ease.

I could have made, at a very trifling expense, a million of pounds in
bank-notes of various amounts. There are fourteen different ways in
which I could send them to England, and lodge them safely there,
without the smallest chance of their arrival being known to any soul
except the man to whom they should be confided. The Banks might
search and ransack every vessel that arrived from America. They might
do what they would. They would never detect the cargo!

There they are then, safe in London; a famous stock of bank-notes, so
well executed that no human being except the Bank people would be able
to discover the counterfeit. The agent takes a parcel at a time, and
drops them in the street in the dark. This work he carries on for a
week or two in such streets as are best calculated for the purpose,
till he has well stocked the town. He may do the same at Portsmouth
and other great towns if he please, and he may send off large supplies
by post.

Now, Jack, suppose you were up at London with your master's waggon.
You might find a parcel of notes. You would go to the first shop to
buy your wife a gown and your children some clothes, yourself a hat, a
greatcoat, and some shoes. The rest you would lay out at shops on the
road home; for the sooner you got rid of this _foundal_, the less
chance of having it taken from you. The shopkeepers would thank you
for your custom, and your wife's heart would bound with joy.

The notes would travel about most merrily. At last they would come to
the Bank. The holders would lose them; but you would gain by them. So
that, upon the whole, there would be no loss, and the maker of the
notes would have no gain. Others would find, and nearly all would do
like you. In a few days the notes would find their way to the Bank in
great numbers, where they would all be stopped. The news would spread
abroad. The thieftakers would be busy. Every man who had had his note
stopped at the Bank would alarm his neighbourhood. The country would
ring with the news. Nobody would take a bank-note. All business would
be at a stand. The farmers would sell no corn for bank-notes. The
millers would have nothing else to pay with. No markets, because no
money. The baker would be able to get no flour. He could sell no
bread, for nobody would have money to pay him.

Jack, this thing will assuredly take place. Mind, I tell you so. I
have been right in my predictions on former occasions; and I am not
wrong now. I beg you to believe me; or, at any rate, to blame yourself
if you lose by such an event. In the midst of this hubbub what will
you do? Farmer Gripe will, I daresay, give you something to eat for
your labour. But what will become of your five pounds? That sum you
have in the Savings Bank, and as you are to have it out at any time
when you please, your wife sets off to draw it. The banker gives her a
five-pound note. She brings it; but nobody will take it of you for a
pig, for bread, for clothing, or for anything else! And this, Jack,
will be the fate of all those who shall be weak enough to put their
money into those banks!

I beg you, Jack, not to rely on the power of the Boroughmongers in
this case. Anything that is to be done with halters, gags, dungeons,
bayonets, powder, or ball, they can do a great deal at; but they are
not conjurers; they are not wizards. They cannot prevent a man from
dropping bank-notes in the dark; and they cannot make people believe
in the goodness of that which they must know to be bad. If they could
hold a sword to every man's breast, they might indeed do something;
but short of this, nothing that they can do would be of any avail.
However, the truth is that they, in such case, will have no sword at
all. An army is a powerful weapon; but an army must be paid. Soldiers
have been called machines; but they are eating and drinking machines.
With good food and drink they will go far and do much; but without
them, they will not stir an inch. And in such a case whence is to come
the money to pay them? In short, Jack, the Boroughmongers would drop
down dead, like men in an apoplexy, and you would, as soon as things
got to rights, have your bread and beer and meat and everything in

The Boroughmongers possess no means of preventing the complete success
of the dropping plan. If they do, they ought to thank me for giving
them a warning of their danger; and for telling them that if they do
prevent the success of such a plan, they are the cleverest fellows in
this world.

I now, Jack, take my leave of you, hoping that you will not be coaxed
out of your money, and assuring you that I am your friend,




(_To what has been said in the Introduction respecting the _Letters of
Malachi Malagrowther_ it is only necessary to add that their immediate
cause was a Bill due to the very commercial crisis which indirectly
ruined Scott himself, and introduced in the spring of 1826 for
stopping the note circulation of private banks altogether, while
limiting that of the Bank of England to notes of £5 and upwards. The
scheme, which was to extend to the whole of Great Britain, was from
the first unpopular in Scotland, and Scott plunged into the fray. The
letters excited or coincided with such violent opposition throughout
the country that the Bill was limited to England only. As Scott was a
strong Tory, his friends in the Government, especially Lord Melville
and Croker (who was officially employed to answer 'Malachi'), were
rather sore at his action. He defended himself in some spirited
private letters, which will be found in Lockhart._)


_To the Editor of the Edinburgh Weekly Journal_

My dear Mr. Journalist--I am by pedigree a discontented person, so
that you may throw this letter into the fire, if you have any
apprehensions of incurring the displeasure of your superiors. I am, in
fact, the lineal descendant of Sir Mungo Malagrowther, who makes a
figure in the _Fortunes of Nigel_, and have retained a reasonable
proportion of his ill-luck, and, in consequence, of his ill-temper.
If, therefore, I should chance to appear too warm and poignant in my
observations, you must impute it to the hasty and peevish humour which
I derive from my ancestor. But, at the same time, it often happens
that this disposition leads me to speak useful, though unpleasant
truths, when more prudent men hold their tongues and eat their
pudding. A lizard is an ugly and disgusting thing enough; but,
methinks, if a lizard were to run over my face and awaken me, which is
said to be their custom when they observe a snake approach a sleeping
person, I should neither scorn his intimation, nor feel justifiable
in crushing him to death, merely because he is a filthy little
abridgment of a crocodile. Therefore, 'for my love, I pray you, wrong
me not.'

I am old, sir, poor, and peevish, and therefore I may be wrong; but
when I look back on the last fifteen or twenty years, and more
especially on the last ten, I think I see my native country of
Scotland, if it is yet to be called by a title so discriminative,
falling, so far as its national, or rather, perhaps, I ought now to
say its _provincial_, interests are concerned, daily into more
absolute contempt. Our ancestors were a people of some consideration
in the councils of the empire. So late as my own younger days, an
English minister would have paused, even in a favourite measure, if a
reclamation of national rights had been made by a member for Scotland,
supported as it uniformly then was, by the voice of her
representatives and her people. Such ameliorations in our peculiar
system as were thought necessary, in order that North Britain might
keep pace with her sister in the advance of improvement, were
suggested by our own countrymen, persons well acquainted with our
peculiar system of laws (as different from those of England as from
those of France), and who knew exactly how to adapt the desired
alteration to the principle of our legislative enactments, so that the
whole machine might, as mechanics say, work well and easily. For a
long time this wholesome check upon innovation, which requires the
assimilation of a proposed improvement with the general constitution
of the country to which it has been recommended, and which ensures
that important point, by stipulating that the measure shall originate
with those to whom the spirit of the constitution is familiar, has
been, so far as Scotland is concerned, considerably disused. Those who
have stepped forward to repair the gradual failure of our
constitutional system of law, have been persons that, howsoever
qualified in other respects, have had little further knowledge of its
construction than could be acquired by a hasty and partial survey,
taken just before they commenced their labours. Scotland and her laws
have been too often subjected to the alterations of any person who
chose to found himself a reputation, by bringing in a bill to cure
some defect which had never been felt in practice, but which was
represented as a frightful bugbear to English statesmen, who, wisely
and judiciously tenacious of the legal practice and principles
received at home, are proportionally startled at the idea of anything
abroad which cannot be brought to assimilate with them.

The English seem to have made a compromise with the active tendency to
innovation, which is one great characteristic of the day. Wise and
sagacious themselves, they are nervously jealous of innovations in
their own laws--_Nolumus leges Angliae mutari_, is written on the
skirts of their judicial robes, as the most sacred texts of Scripture
were inscribed on the phylacteries of the Rabbis. The belief that the
Common Law of England constitutes the perfection of human reason, is a
maxim bound upon their foreheads. Law Monks they have been called in
other respects, and like monks they are devoted to their own Rule, and
admit no question of its infallibility. There can be no doubt that
their love of a system, which, if not perfect, has so much in it that
is excellent, originates in the most praiseworthy feelings. Call it if
you will the prejudice of education, it is still a prejudice
honourable in itself, and useful to the public. I only find fault with
it, because, like the Friars in the Duenna monopolising the bottle,
these English monks will not tolerate in their lay brethren of the
north the slightest pretence to a similar feeling.

In England, therefore, no innovation can be proposed affecting the
administration of justice, without being subjected to the strict
enquiry of the Guardians of the Law, and afterwards resisted
pertinaciously, until time and the most mature and reiterated
discussion shall have proved its utility, nay, its necessity. The old
saying is still true in all its points--Touch but a cobweb in
Westminster Hall, and the old spider will come out in defence of it.
This caution may sometimes postpone the adoption of useful
amendments, but it operates to prevent all hasty and experimental
innovations; and it is surely better that existing evils should be
endured for some time longer, than that violent remedies should be
hastily adopted, the unforeseen and unprovided for consequences of
which are often so much more extensive than those which had been
foreseen and reckoned upon. An ordinary mason can calculate upon the
exact gap which will be made by the removal of a corner stone in an
old building; but what architect, not intimately acquainted with the
whole edifice, can presume even to guess how much of the structure is,
or is not, to follow?

The English policy in this respect is a wise one, and we have only to
wish they would not insist in keeping it all to themselves. But those
who are most devoted to their own religion have least sympathy for the
feelings of dissenters; and a spirit of proselytism has of late shown
itself in England for extending the benefits of their system, in all
its strength and weakness, to a country which has been hitherto
flourishing and contented under its own. They adopted the conclusion
that all English enactments are right; but the system of municipal law
in Scotland is not English, therefore it is wrong. Under sanction of
this syllogism, our rulers have indulged and encouraged a spirit of
experiment and innovation at our expense, which they resist
obstinately when it is to be carried through at their own risk.

For more than half of last century, this was a practice not to be
thought of. Scotland was during that period disaffected, in bad
humour, armed too, and smarting under various irritating
recollections. This is not the sort of patient for whom an
experimental legislator chooses to prescribe. There was little chance
of making Saunders take the patent pill by persuasion--main force was
a dangerous argument, and some thought claymores had edges.

This period passed away, a happier one arrived, and Scotland, no
longer the object of terror, or at least great uneasiness, to the
British Government, was left from the year 1750 under the guardianship
of her own institutions, to win her silent way to national wealth and
consequence. Contempt probably procured for her the freedom from
interference, which had formerly been granted out of fear; for the
medical faculty are as slack in attending the garrets of paupers as
the caverns of robbers. But neglected as she was, and perhaps
_because_ she was neglected, Scotland, reckoning her progress during
the space from the close of the American War to the present day, has
increased her prosperity in a ratio more than five times greater than
that of her more fortunate and richer sister. She is now worth the
attention of the learned faculty, and God knows she has had plenty of
it. She has been bled and purged, spring and fall, and _talked_ into
courses of physic, for which she had little occasion. She has been of
late a sort of experimental farm, upon which every political student
has been permitted to try his theory--a kind of common property, where
every juvenile statesman has been encouraged to make his inroads, as
in Moray land, where, anciently, according to the idea of the old
Highlanders, all men had a right to take their prey--a subject in a
common dissecting room, left to the scalpel of the junior students,
with the degrading inscription,--_fiat experimentum in corpore vili_.

I do not mean to dispute, Sir, that much alteration was necessary in
our laws, and that much benefit has followed many of the great changes
which have taken place. I do not mean to deprecate a gradual approach
to the English system, especially in commercial law. The Jury Court,
for example, was a fair experiment, in my opinion, cautiously
introduced as such, and placed under such regulations as might best
assimilate its forms with those of the existing Supreme Court. I beg,
therefore, to be considered as not speaking of the alterations
themselves, but of the apparent hostility towards our municipal
institutions, as repeatedly manifested in the course of late
proceedings, tending to force and wrench them into a similarity with
those of England.

The opinions of our own lawyers, nay, of our Judges, than whom wiser
and more honourable men never held that character, have been, if
report speaks true, something too much neglected and controlled in the
course of these important changes, in which, methinks, they ought to
have had a leading and primary voice. They have been almost avowedly
regarded not as persons the best qualified to judge of proposed
innovations, but as prejudiced men, determined to oppose them, right
or wrong. The last public Commission was framed on the very principle,
that if Scotch lawyers were needs to be employed, a sufficient number
of these should consist of gentlemen, who, whatever their talents and
respectability might be in other respects, had been too long estranged
from the study of Scottish law to retain any accurate recollection of
an abstruse science, or any decided partiality for its technical
forms. This was done avowedly for the purpose of evading the natural
partiality of the Scottish Judges and practitioners to their own
system; that partiality which the English themselves hold so sacred a
feeling in their own Judges and Counsel learned in the law. I am not,
I repeat, complaining of the result of the Commissions, but of the
spirit in which the alterations were undertaken. Unquestionably much
was done in brushing up and improving the old machinery of Scottish
Law Courts, and in making it move more rapidly, though scarce, I
think, more correctly than before. Dispatch has been much attended
to. But it may be ultimately found that the timepiece which runs
fastest does not intimate the hour most accurately. At all events, the
changes have been made and established--there let them rest. And had
I, Malachi Malagrowther, the sole power to-morrow of doing so, I would
not restore the old forms of judicial proceedings; because I hold the
constitution of Courts of Justice too serious matters to be put back
or forward at pleasure, like a boy's first watch, merely for
experiment's sake.

What I _do_ complain of is the general spirit of slight and dislike
manifested to our national establishments by those of the sister
country who are so very zealous in defending their own; and not less
do I complain of their jealousy of the opinions of those who cannot
but be much better acquainted than they, both with the merits and
deficiencies of the system, which hasty and imperfectly informed
judges have shown themselves so anxious to revolutionise.

There is no explanation to be given of this but one--namely, the
entire conviction and belief of our English brethren that the true
Themis is worshipped in Westminster Hall, and that her adorers cannot
be too zealous in her service; while she, whose image an ingenious
artist has depicted balancing herself upon a _tee-totum_ on the
southern window of the Parliament House of Edinburgh, is a mere
idol,--a Diana of Ephesus,--whom her votaries worship, either because
her shrine brings great gain to the craftsmen, or out of an ignorant
and dotard superstition, which induces them to prefer the old Scottish
_Mumpsimus_ to the modern English _Sumpsimus_. Now, this is not fair
construction in our friends, whose intentions in our behalf, we allow,
are excellent, but who certainly are scarcely entitled to beg the
question at issue without inquiry or discussion, or to treat us as the
Spaniards treated the Indians, whom they massacred for worshipping the
image of the Sun, while they themselves bowed down to that of the
Virgin Mary. Even Queen Elizabeth was contented with the evasive
answer of Melville, when hard pressed with the trying question,
whether Queen Mary or she were the fairest. We are willing, in the
spirit of that answer, to say that the Themis of Westminster Hall is
the best fitted to preside over the administration of the larger, and
more fertile country of beef and pudding; while she of the tee-totum
(placed in that precarious position, we presume, to express her
instability, since these new lights were struck out) claims a more
limited but equally respectful homage, within her ancient
jurisdiction--_sua paupera regna_--the Land of Cakes. If this
compromise does not appease the ardour of our brethren for converting
us to English forms and fashions, we must use the scriptural question,
"Who hath required these things at your hands?"

The inquiries and result of another Commission are too much to the
purpose to be suppressed. The object was to investigate the conduct of
the Revenue Boards in Ireland and Scotland. In the former, it is well
known, great mismanagement was discovered; for Pat, poor fellow, had
been playing the loon to a considerable extent. In Scotland, _not a
shadow of abuse prevailed_. You would have thought, Mr. Journalist,
that the Irish Boards would have been reformed in some shape, and the
Scotch Establishments honourably acquitted, and suffered to continue
on the footing of independence which they had so long enjoyed, and of
which they had proved themselves so worthy. Not so, sir. The Revenue
Boards, in both countries, underwent exactly the same regulation, were
deprived of their independent consequence, and placed under the
superintendence of English control; the innocent and the guilty being
treated in every respect alike. Now, on the side of Scotland, this was
like Trinculo losing his bottle in the pool--there was not only
dishonour in the thing, but an infinite loss.

I have heard two reasons suggested for this indiscriminating
application of punishment to the innocent and to the culpable.

In the first place, it was honestly confessed that Ireland would never
have quietly submitted to the indignity offered to her, unless poor
inoffensive Scotland had been included in the regulation. The Green
Isle, it seems, was of the mind of a celebrated lady of quality, who,
being about to have a decayed tooth drawn, refused to submit to the
operation till she had seen the dentist extract a sound and
serviceable grinder from the jaws of her waiting-woman--and her humour
was to be gratified. The lady was a termagant dame--the wench a
tame-spirited simpleton--the dentist an obliging operator--and the
teeth of both were drawn accordingly.

This gratification of his humours is gained by Pat's being up with the
pike and shillelagh on any or no occasion. God forbid Scotland should
retrograde towards such a state--much better that the Deil, as in
Burns's song, danced away with the whole excisemen in the country. We
do not want to hear her prate of her number of millions of men, and
her old military exploits. We had better remain in union with England,
even at the risk of becoming a subordinate species of Northumberland,
as far as national consequence is concerned, than remedy ourselves by
even hinting the possibility of a rupture. But there is no harm in
wishing Scotland to have just so much ill-nature, according to her own
proverb, as may keep her good-nature from being abused; so much
national spirit as may determine her to stand by her own rights,
conducting her assertion of them with every feeling of respect and
amity toward England.

The other reason alleged for this equal distribution of _punishment_,
as if it had been the influence of the common sun, or the general
rain, to the just and the unjust, was one which is extremely
predominant at present with our Ministers--the _necessity_ of
_Uniformity_ in all such cases; and the consideration what an awkward
thing it would be to have a Board of Excise or Customs remaining
independent in the one country, solely because they had, without
impeachment, discharged their duty; while the same establishment was
cashiered in another, for no better reason than that it had been

This reminds us of an incident, said to have befallen at the Castle of
Glammis, when these venerable towers were inhabited by a certain old
Earl of Strathmore, who was as great an admirer of uniformity as the
Chancellor of the Exchequer could have desired. He and his gardener
directed all in the garden and pleasure grounds upon the ancient
principle of exact correspondence between the different parts, so that
each alley had its brother; a principle which, renounced by gardeners,
is now adopted by statesmen. It chanced once upon a time that a fellow
was caught committing some petty theft, and, being taken in the
manner, was sentenced by the Bailie Macwheeble of the jurisdiction to
stand for a certain time in the baronial pillory, called the _jougs_,
being a collar and chain, one of which contrivances was attached to
each side of the portal of the great avenue which led to the castle.
The thief was turned over accordingly to the gardener, as
ground-officer, to see the punishment duly inflicted. When the Thane
of Glammis returned from his morning ride, he was surprised to find
both sides of the gateway accommodated each with a prisoner, like a
pair of heraldic supporters, _chained_ and _collared proper_. He asked
the gardener, whom he found watching the place of punishment, as his
duty required, whether another delinquent had been detected? "No, my
Lord," said the gardener, in the tone of a man excellently well
satisfied with himself,--"but I thought the single fellow looked very
awkward standing on one side of the gateway, so I gave half a crown to
one of the labourers to stand on the other side for _uniformity's
sake_." This is exactly a case in point, and probably the only one
which can be found--with this sole difference, that I do not hear that
the members of the Scottish Revenue Board got any boon for standing in
the pillory with those of Ireland--for uniformity's sake.

Lastly, sir, I come to this business of extending the provisions of
the Bill prohibiting the issue of notes under five pounds to Scotland,
in six months after the period that the regulation shall be adopted in

I am not about to enter upon the question which so much agitates
speculative writers upon the wealth of nations, or attempt to discuss
what proportion of the precious metals ought to be detained within a
country; what are the best means of keeping it there; or to what
extent the want of specie can be supplied by paper credit: I will not
ask if a poor man can be made a rich one, by compelling him to buy a
service of plate, instead of the delf ware which served his turn.
These are questions I am not adequate to solve. But I beg leave to
consider the question in a practical point of view, and to refer
myself entirely to experience.

I assume, without much hazard of contradiction, that Banks have
existed in Scotland for near one hundred and twenty years--that they
have flourished, and the country has flourished with them--and that
during the last fifty years particularly, provincial Banks, or
branches of the principal established and chartered Banks, have
gradually extended themselves in almost every Lowland district in
Scotland; that the notes, and especially the small notes, which they
distribute, entirely supply the demand for a medium of currency; and
that the system has so completely expelled gold from the country of
Scotland, that you never by any chance espy a guinea there, unless in
the purse of an accidental stranger, or in the coffers of these Banks
themselves. This is granting the facts of the case as broadly as can
be asked.

It is not less unquestionable that the consequence of this Banking
system, as conducted in Scotland, has been attended with the greatest
advantage to the country. The facility which it has afforded to the
industrious and enterprising agriculturalist or manufacturer, as well
as to the trustees of the public in executing national works, has
converted Scotland from a poor, miserable, and barren country, into
one, where, if nature has done less, art and industry have done more,
than in perhaps any country in Europe, England herself not excepted.
Through means of the credit which this system has afforded, roads have
been made, bridges built, and canals dug, opening up to reciprocal
communication the most sequestered districts of the country--manufactures
have been established, unequalled in extent or success--wastes have
been converted into productive farms--the productions of the earth for
human use have been multiplied twentyfold, while the wealth of the rich
and the comforts of the poor have been extended in the same proportion.
And all this in a country where the rigour of the climate, and
sterility of the soil, seem united to set improvement at defiance. Let
those who remember Scotland forty years since, bear witness if I speak
truth or falsehood.

There is no doubt that this change has been produced by the facilities
of procuring credit, which the Scottish Banks held forth, both by
discounting bills, and by granting cash-accounts. Every undertaking of
consequence, whether by the public or by individuals, has been carried
on by such means; at least exceptions are extremely rare.

There is as little doubt that the Banks could not have furnished these
necessary funds of cash, without enjoying the reciprocal advantage of
their own notes being circulated in consequence, and by means of the
accommodation thus afforded. It is not to be expected that every
undertaking which the system enabled speculators or adventurers to
commence, should be well-judged, attentively carried on, or successful
in issue. Imprudence in some cases, misfortune in others, have had
their usual quantity of victims. But in Scotland, as elsewhere, it has
happened in many instances that improvements, which turned out ruinous
to those who undertook them, have, notwithstanding, themselves
ultimately produced the most beneficial advantages to the country,
which derived in such instances an addition to its general prosperity,
even from the undertakings which had proved destructive to the private
fortune of the projectors.

Not only did the Banks dispersed throughout Scotland afford the means
of bringing the country to an unexpected and almost marvellous degree
of prosperity, but in no considerable instance, save one, have their
own over-speculating undertakings been the means of interrupting that
prosperity. The solitary exception was the undertaking called the Ayr
Bank, rashly entered into by a large body of country gentlemen and
others, unacquainted with commercial affairs, and who had moreover the
misfortune not only to set out on false principles, but to get false
rogues for their principal agents and managers. The fall of this Bank
brought much calamity on the country; but two things are remarkable in
its history: First, that under its too prodigal, yet beneficial
influence, a fine county (that of Ayr) was converted from a desert
into a fertile land. Secondly, that, though at a distant interval, the
Ayr Bank paid all its engagements, and the loss only fell on the
original stockholders. The warning was, however, a terrible one, and
has been so well attended to in Scotland, that very few attempts seem
to have been afterwards made to establish Banks prematurely--that is,
where the particular district was not in such an advanced state as to
require the support of additional credit; for in every such case, it
was judiciously foreseen, the forcing a capital on the district could
only lead to wild speculation, instead of supporting solid and
promising undertakings.

The character and condition of the persons pursuing the profession
ought to be noticed, however slightly. The Bankers of Scotland have
been, generally speaking, _good_ men, in the mercantile phrase,
showing, by the wealth of which they have died possessed, that their
credit was sound; and _good_ men also, many of them eminently so, in
the more extensive and better sense of the word, manifesting, by the
excellence of their character, the fairness of the means by which
their riches were acquired. There may have been, among so numerous a
body, men of a different character, fishers in troubled waters,
capitalists who sought gain not by the encouragement of fair trade
and honest industry, but by affording temporary fuel to rashness or
avarice. But the number of upright traders in the profession has
narrowed the means of mischief which such Christian Shylocks would
otherwise have possessed. There was loss, there was discredit, in
having recourse to such characters, when honest wants could be fairly
supplied by upright men, and on liberal terms. Such reptiles have been
confined in Scotland to batten upon their proper prey of folly, and
feast, like worms, on the corruption in which they are bred.

Since the period of the Ayr Bank, now near half a century, I recollect
very few instances of Banking Companies issuing notes which have
become insolvent. One, about thirty years since, was the Merchant Bank
of Stirling, which never was in high credit, having been known almost
at the time of its commencement by the odious nickname of _Black in
the West_. Another was within these ten years, the East Lothian
Banking Company, whose affairs had been very ill conducted by a
villainous manager. In both cases, the notes were paid up in full. In
the latter case, they were taken up by one of the most respectable
houses in Edinburgh; so that all current engagements were paid without
the least check to the circulation of their notes, or inconvenience to
poor or rich, who happened to have them in possession. The Union Bank
of Falkirk also became insolvent within these fifteen years, but paid
up its engagements without much loss to the creditors. Other cases
there may have occurred, not coming within my recollection; but I
think none which made any great sensation, or could at all affect the
general confidence of the country in the stability of the system. None
of these bankruptcies excited much attention, or, as we have seen,
caused any considerable loss.

In the present unhappy commercial distress, I have always heard and
understood that the Scottish Banks have done all in their power to
alleviate the evils which came thickening on the country; and far from
acting illiberally, that they have come forward to support the
tottering credit of the commercial world with a frankness which
augured the most perfect confidence in their own resources. We have
heard of only one provincial Bank being even for a moment in the
predicament of suspicion; and of that copartnery the funds and credit
were so well understood, that their correspondents in Edinburgh, as in
the case of the East Lothian Bank formerly mentioned, at once
guaranteed the payment of their notes, and saved the public even from
momentary agitation, and individuals from the possibility of distress.
I ask what must be the stability of a system of credit of which such
an universal earthquake could not displace or shake even the slightest
individual portion?

Thus stands the case in Scotland; and it is clear any restrictive
enactment affecting the Banking system, or their mode of issuing
notes, must be adopted in consequence of evils, operating elsewhere
perhaps, but certainly unknown in this country.

In England, unfortunately, things have been very different, and the
insolvency of many provincial Banking Companies, of the most
established reputation for stability, has greatly distressed the
country, and alarmed London itself, from the necessary reaction of
their misfortunes upon their correspondents in the capital.

I do not think, sir, that the advocate of Scotland is called upon to
go further, in order to plead an exemption from any experiment which
England may think proper to try to cure her own malady, than to say
such malady does not exist in her jurisdiction. It is surely enough to
plead, 'We are well, our pulse and complexion prove it--let those who
are sick take physic.' But the opinion of the English Ministers is
widely different; for, granting our premisses, they deny our

The peculiar humour of a friend, whom I lost some years ago, is the
only one I recollect, which jumps precisely with the reasoning of the
Chancellor of the Exchequer. My friend was an old Scottish laird, a
bachelor and a humorist--wealthy, convivial, and hospitable, and of
course having always plenty of company about him. He had a regular
custom of swallowing every night in the world one of Dr. Anderson's
pills, for which reasons may be readily imagined. But it is not so
easy to account for his insisting on every one of his guests taking
the same medicine, and whether it was by way of patronising the
medicine, which is in some sense a national receipt, or whether the
mischievous old wag amused himself with anticipating the scenes of
delicate embarrassment, which the dispensation sometimes produced in
the course of the night, I really cannot even guess. What is equally
strange, he pressed the request with a sort of eloquence which
succeeded with every guest. No man escaped, though there were few who
did not make resistance. His powers of persuasion would have been
invaluable to a minister of state. 'What! not one _Leetle Anderson_,
to oblige your friend, your host, your entertainer! He had taken one
himself--he would take another, if you pleased--surely what was good
for his complaint must of course be beneficial to yours?' It was in
vain you pleaded your being perfectly well,--your detesting the
medicine,--your being certain it would not agree with you--none of the
apologies were received as valid. You might be warm, pathetic or
sulky, fretful or patient, grave or serious in testifying your
repugnance, but you were equally a doomed man; escape was impossible.
Your host was in his turn eloquent,--authoritative,--facetious,
--argumentative,--precatory,--pathetic, above all, pertinacious. No
guest was known to escape the _Leetle Anderson_. The last time I
experienced the laird's hospitality there were present at the evening
meal the following catalogue of guests:--a Bond-street dandy, of the most
brilliant water, drawn thither by the temptation of grouse-shooting--a
writer from the neighbouring borough (the lairds _doer_, I
believe),--two country lairds, men of reserved and stiff habits--three
sheep-farmers, as stiff-necked and stubborn as their own haltered
rams--and I, Malachi Malagrowther, not facile or obvious to persuasion.
There was also the Esculapius of the vicinity--one who gave, but
elsewhere was never known to _take_ medicine. All succumbed--each took,
after various degrees of resistance according to his peculiar fashion,
his own _Leetle Anderson_. The doer took a brace. On the event I
am silent. None had reason to congratulate himself on his complaisance.
The laird has slept with his ancestors for some years, remembered
sometimes with a smile on account of his humorous eccentricities, always
with a sigh when his surviving friends and neighbours reflect on his
kindliness and genuine beneficence. I have only to add that I hope he
has not bequeathed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, otherwise so
highly gifted, his invincible powers of persuading folks to take
medicine, which their constitutions do not require.

Have I argued my case too high in supposing that the present intended
legislative enactment is as inapplicable to Scotland as a pair of
elaborate knee-buckles would be to the dress of a kilted Highlander? I
think not.

I understand Lord Liverpool and the Chancellor of the Exchequer
distinctly to have admitted the fact, that no distress whatever had
originated in Scotland from the present issuing of small notes of the
bankers established there, whether provincial in the strict sense, or
sent abroad by branches of the larger establishments settled in the
metropolis. No proof can be desired better than the admission of the

Nevertheless, we have been positively informed by the newspapers that
Ministers see no reason why any law adopted on this subject should not
be imperative over all his Majesty's dominions, including Scotland,
_for uniformity's sake_. In my opinion they might as well make a law
that the Scotsman, for uniformity's sake, should not eat oatmeal,
because it is found to give Englishmen the heartburn. If an ordinance
prohibiting the oatcake, can be accompanied with a regulation capable
of being enforced, that in future, for uniformity's sake, our moors
and uplands shall henceforth bear the purest wheat, I for one have no
objection to the regulation. But till Ben Nevis be level with
Norfolkshire, though the natural wants of the two nations may be the
same, the extent of these wants, natural or commercial, and the mode
of supplying them, must be widely different, let the rule of
uniformity be as absolute as it will. The nation which cannot raise
wheat, must be allowed to eat oat-bread; the nation which is too poor
to retain a circulating medium of the precious metals, must be
permitted to supply its place with paper credit; otherwise, they must
go without food, and without currency.

If I were called on, Mr. Journalist, I think I could give some reasons
why the system of banking which has been found well adapted for
Scotland is not proper for England, and why there is no reason for
inflicting upon us the intended remedy; in other words, why this
political balsam of Fierabras which is to relieve Don Quixote, may
have a great chance to poison Sancho. With this view, I will mention
briefly some strong points of distinction affecting the comparative
credit of the banks in England and in Scotland; and they seem to
furnish, to one inexperienced in political economies (upon the
transcendental doctrines of which so much stress is now laid), very
satisfactory reasons for the difference which is not denied to exist
betwixt the effects of the same general system in different countries.

In Scotland, almost all Banking Companies consist of a considerable
number of persons, many of them men of landed property, whose landed
estates, with the burthens legally affecting them, may be learned from
the records, for the expense of a few shillings; so that all the
world knows, or may know, the general basis on which their credit
rests, and the extent of real property, which, independent of their
personal means, is responsible for their commercial engagements. In
most banking establishments this fund of credit is considerable, in
others immense; especially in those where the shares are numerous, and
are held in small proportions, many of them by persons of landed
estates, whose fortunes, however large, and however small their share
of stock, must all be liable to the engagements of the Bank. In
England, as I believe, the number of the partners engaged in a banking
concern cannot exceed five; and though of late years their landed
property has been declared subject to be attacked by their commercial
creditors, yet no one can learn, without incalculable trouble, the
real value of that land, or with what mortgages it is burthened. Thus,
_cæteris paribus_, the English banker cannot make his solvency
manifest to the public, therefore cannot expect, or receive, the same
unlimited trust, which is willingly and securely reposed in those of
the same profession in Scotland.

Secondly, the circulation of the Scottish bank-notes is free and
unlimited; an advantage arising from their superior degree of credit.
They pass without a shadow of objection through the whole limits of
Scotland, and, though they cannot be legally tendered, are current
nearly as far as York in England. Those of English Banking Companies
seldom extend beyond a very limited horizon: in two or three stages
from the place where they are issued, many of them are objected to,
and give perpetual trouble to any traveller who has happened to take
them in change on the road. Even the most creditable provincial notes
never approach London in a free tide--never circulate like blood to
the heart, and from thence to the extremities, but are current within
a limited circle; often, indeed, so very limited, that the notes
issued in the morning, to use an old simile, fly out like pigeons from
the dovecot, and are sure to return in the evening to the spot which
they have left at break of day.

Owing to these causes, and others which I forbear mentioning, the
profession of provincial Bankers in England is limited in its regular
profits, and uncertain in its returns, to a degree unknown in
Scotland; and is, therefore, more apt to be adopted in the South by
men of sanguine hopes and bold adventure (both frequently
disproportioned to the extent of their capital), who sink in mines or
other hazardous speculations the funds which their banking credit
enables them to command, and deluge the country with notes, which, on
some unhappy morning, are found not worth a penny--as those to whom
the foul fiend has given apparent treasures are said in due time to
discover they are only pieces of slate.

I am aware it may be urged that the restrictions imposed on those
English provincial Banks are necessary to secure the supremacy of the
Bank of England; on the same principle on which dogs, kept near the
purlieus of a royal forest, were anciently lamed by the cutting off of
one of the claws, to prevent their interfering with the royal sport.
This is a very good regulation for England, for what I know; but why
should the Scottish institutions, which do not, and cannot interfere
with the influence of the Bank of England, be put on a level with
those of which such jealousy is, justly or unjustly, entertained? We
receive no benefit from that immense establishment, which, like a
great oak, overshadows England from Tweed to Cornwall. Why should our
national plantations be cut down or cramped for the sake of what
affords us neither shade nor shelter, and which, besides, can take no
advantage by the injury done to us? Why should we be subjected to a
monopoly from which we derive no national benefit?

I have only to add that Scotland has not felt the slightest
inconvenience from the want of specie, nay, that it has never been in
request among them. A tradesman will take a guinea more unwillingly
than a note of the same value--to the peasant the coin is unknown. No
one ever wishes for specie save when upon a journey to England. In
occasional runs upon particular houses, the notes of other Banking
Companies have always been the value asked for--no holder of these
notes ever demanded specie. The credit of one establishment might be
doubted for the time--that of the general system was never brought
into question. Even avarice, the most suspicious of passions, has in
no instance I ever heard of, desired to compose her hoards by an
accumulation of the precious metals. The confidence in the credit of
our ordinary medium has not been doubted even in the dreams of the
most irritable and jealous of human passions.

All these considerations are so obvious that a statesman so acute as
Mr. Robinson must have taken them in at the first glance, and must at
the same time have deemed them of no weight, compared with the
necessary conformity between the laws of the two kingdoms. I must,
therefore, speak to the justice of this point of uniformity.

Sir, my respected ancestor, Sir Mungo, when he had the distinguished
honour to be _whipping_, or rather _whipped boy_, to his Majesty King
James the Sixth of gracious memory, was always, in virtue of his
office, scourged when the king deserved flogging; and the same
equitable rule seems to distinguish the conduct of Government towards
Scotland, as one of the three United Kingdoms. If Pat is guilty of
peculation, Sister Peg loses her Boards of Revenue--if John Bull's
cashiers mismanage his money-matters, those who have conducted Sister
Margaret's to their own great honour, and her no less advantage, must
be deprived of the power of serving her in future; at least that power
must be greatly restricted and limited.

     'Quidquid delirant reges plectuntur Achivi.'

That is to say, if our superiors of England and Ireland eat sour
grapes, the Scottish teeth must be set on edge as well as their own.
An uniformity in benefits may be well--an uniformity in penal
measures, towards the innocent and the guilty, in prohibitory
regulations, whether necessary or not, seems harsh law, and worse

This levelling system, not equitable in itself, is infinitely unjust,
if a story, often told by my poor old grandfather, was true, which I
own I am inclined to doubt. The old man, sir, had learned in his
youth, or dreamed in his dotage, that Scotland had become an integral
part of England,--not in right of conquest, or rendition, or through
any right of inheritance--but in virtue of a solemn Treaty of Union.
Nay, so distinct an idea had he of this supposed Treaty, that he used
to recite one of its articles to this effect:--'That the laws in use
within the kingdom of Scotland, do, after the Union, remain in the
same force as before, but alterable by the Parliament of Great
Britain, with this difference between the laws concerning public
right, policy, and civil government, and those which concern private
right, that the former may be made the same through the whole United
Kingdom; but that no alteration be made on laws which concern private
right, _excepting for the evident utility of the subjects within
Scotland_.' When the old gentleman came to the passage, which you will
mark in italics, he always clenched his fist, and exclaimed, 'Nemo me
impune lacessit!' which, I presume, are words belonging to the black
art, since there is no one in the Modern Athens conjuror enough to
understand their meaning, or at least to comprehend the spirit of the
sentiment which my grandfather thought they conveyed.

I cannot help thinking, sir, that if there had been any truth in my
grandfather's story, some Scottish member would, on the late occasion,
have informed the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that, in virtue of this
Treaty, it was no sufficient reason for innovating upon the private
rights of Scotsmen in a most tender and delicate point, merely that
the Right Honourable Gentleman saw no reason why the same law should
not be current through the whole of his Majesty's dominions; and that,
on the contrary, it was incumbent upon him to go a step further, and
to show that the alteration proposed _was_ for the EVIDENT UTILITY _of
the subjects within Scotland_,--a proposition disavowed by the Right
Honourable Gentleman's candid admission, as well as by that of the
Prime Minister, and contradicted in every circumstance by the actual
state of the case.

Methinks, sir, our 'Chosen Five and Forty,' supposing they had bound
themselves to Ministers by such oaths of silence and obedience as are
taken by Carthusian friars, must have had free-will and speech to
express their sentiments, had they been possessed of so irrefragable
an argument in such a case of extremity. The sight of a father's life
in danger is said to have restored the power of language to the dumb;
and truly, the necessary defence of the rights of our native country
is not, or at least ought not to be, a less animating motive. Lord
Lauderdale almost alone interfered, and procured, to his infinite
honour, a delay of six months in the extension of this act,--a sort of
reprieve from the southern _jougs_,--by which we may have some chance
of profiting, if, during the interval, we can show ourselves true
Scotsmen, by some better proof than merely by being 'wise behind the

In the first place, sir, I would have this old Treaty searched for,
and should it be found to be still existing, I think it decides the
question. For, how can it be possible that it should be for the
'evident utility' of Scotland to alter her laws of private right, to
the total subversion of a system under which she is admitted to have
flourished for a century, and which has never within North Britain
been attended with the inconveniences charged against it in the sister
country, where, by the way, it never existed? Even if the old
parchment should be voted obsolete, there would be some satisfaction
in having it looked out and preserved--not in the Register-Office, or
Advocates' Library, where it might awaken painful recollections--but
in the Museum of the Antiquaries, where, with the Solemn League and
Covenant, the Letter of the Scottish Nobles to the Pope on the
independence of their country, and other antiquated documents, once
held in reverence, it might silently contract dust, yet remain to bear
witness that such things had been.

I earnestly hope, however, that an international league of such
importance may still be found obligatory on both the _high_ and the
_low_ contracting parties; on that which has the power, and apparently
the will, to break it, as well as on the weaker nation, who cannot,
without incurring still worse, and more miserable consequences, oppose
aggression, otherwise than by invoking the faith of treaties, and the
national honour of Old England.

In the second place, all ranks and bodies of men in North Britain (for
all are concerned, the poor as well as the rich) should express by
petition their sense of the injustice which is offered to the country,
and the distress which will probably be the necessary consequence.
Without the power of issuing their own notes the Banks cannot supply
the manufacturer with that credit which enables him to pay his
workmen, and wait his return; or accommodate the farmer with that
fund which makes it easy for him to discharge his rent, and give wages
to his labourers, while in the act of performing expensive operations
which are to treble or quadruple the produce of his farm. The trustees
on the high-roads and other public works, so ready to stake their
personal credit for carrying on public improvements, will no longer
possess the power of raising funds by doing so. The whole existing
state of credit is to be altered from top to bottom, and Ministers are
silent on any remedy which such a state of things would imperiously

These are subjects worth struggling for, and rather of more importance
than generally come before County Meetings. The English legislature
seems inclined to stultify our Law Authorities in their department;
but let us at least try if they will listen to the united voice of a
Nation in matters which so intimately concern its welfare, that almost
every man must have formed a judgment on the subject, from something
like personal experience. For my part, I cannot doubt the result.

Times are undoubtedly different from those of Queen Anne, when, Dean
Swift having in a political pamphlet passed some sarcasms on the
Scottish nation, as a poor and fierce people, the Scythians of
Britain,--the Scottish peers, headed by the Duke of Argyll, went in
a body to the ministers, and compelled them to disown the sentiments
which had been expressed by their partisan, and offer a reward of
three hundred pounds for the author of the libel, well known to be the
best advocate and most intimate friend of the existing administration.
They demanded also that the printer and publisher should be prosecuted
before the House of Peers; and Harley, however unwillingly, was
obliged to yield to their demand.

In the celebrated case of Porteous, the English legislature saw
themselves compelled to desist from vindictive measures, on account of
a gross offence committed in the metropolis of Scotland. In that of
the Roman Catholic bill they yielded to the voice of the Scottish
people, or rather of the Scottish mob, and declared the proposed
alteration of the law should not extend to North Britain. The cases
were different, in point of merit, though the Scots were successful in
both. In the one, a boon of clemency was extorted; in the other,
concession was an act of decided weakness. But ought the present
administration of Great Britain to show less deference to our
temperate and general remonstrance on a matter concerning ourselves
only, than their predecessors did to the passions, and even the
ill-founded and unjust prejudices, of our ancestors?

Times, indeed, have changed since those days, and circumstances also.
We are no longer a poor, that is, so _very poor_ a country and
people; and as we have increased in wealth, we have become somewhat
poorer in spirit, and more loath to incur displeasure by contests upon
mere etiquette, or national prejudice. But we have some grounds to
plead for favour with England. We have borne our pecuniary impositions
during a long war, with a patience the more exemplary, as they lay
heavier on us from our comparative want of means--our blood has flowed
as freely as that of England or of Ireland--our lives and fortunes
have become unhesitatingly devoted to the defence of the empire--our
loyalty as warmly and willingly displayed towards the person of our
Sovereign. We have consented with submission, if not with
cheerfulness, to reductions and abolitions of public offices, required
for the good of the state at large, but which must affect materially
the condition, and even the respectability, of our overburthened
aristocracy. We have in every respect conducted ourselves as good and
faithful subjects of the general empire.

We do not boast of these things as actual merits; but they are at
least duties discharged, and in an appeal to men of honour and of
judgment, must entitle us to be heard with patience, and even
deference, on the management of our own affairs, if we speak
unanimously, lay aside party feeling, and use the voice of one leaf of
the holy Trefoil,--one distinct and component part of the United

Let no consideration deter us from pleading our own cause temperately
but firmly, and we shall certainly receive a favourable audience. Even
our acquisition of a little wealth, which might abate our courage on
other occasions, should invigorate us to unanimous perseverance at the
present crisis, when the very source of our national prosperity is
directly, though unwittingly, struck at. Our plaids are, I trust, not
yet sunk into Jewish gaberdines, to be wantonly spit upon; nor are we
yet bound to 'receive the insult with a patient shrug.' But exertion
is now demanded on other accounts than those of mere honourable
punctilio. Misers themselves will struggle in defence of their
property, though tolerant of all aggressions by which that is not
threatened. Avarice herself, however mean-spirited, will rouse to
defend the wealth she possesses, and preserve the means of gaining
more. Scotland is now called upon to rally in defence of the sources
of her national improvement, and the means of increasing it; upon
which, as none are so much concerned in the subject, none can be such
competent judges as Scotsmen themselves.

I cannot believe so generous a people as the English, so wise an
administration as the present, will disregard our humble
remonstrances, merely because they are made in the form of peaceful
entreaty, and not _secundum perfervidum ingenium Scotorum_, with
'durk and pistol at our belt.' It would be a dangerous lesson to teach
the empire at large, that threats can extort what is not yielded to
reasonable and respectful remonstrance.

But this is not all. The principle of 'uniformity of laws,' if not
manfully withstood, may have other blessings in store for us. Suppose,
that when finished with blistering Scotland when in perfect health,
England should find time and courage to withdraw the veil from the
deep cancer which is gnawing her own bowels, and make an attempt to
stop the fatal progress of her _poor-rates_. Some system or other must
be proposed in its place--a grinding one it must be, for it is not an
evil to be cured by palliatives. Suppose the English, for uniformity's
sake, insist that Scotland, which is at present free from this foul
and shameful disorder, should nevertheless be included in the severe
_treatment_ which the disease demands, how would the landholders of
Scotland like to undergo the scalpel and cautery, merely because
England requires to be scarified?

Or again;--Supposing England should take a fancy to impart to us her
sanguinary criminal code, which, too cruel to be carried into effect,
gives every wretch that is condemned a chance of one to twelve that he
shall not be executed, and so turns the law into a lottery--would this
be an agreeable boon to North Britain?

Once more;--What if the English ministers should feel disposed to
extend to us their equitable system of process respecting civil debt,
which divides the advantages so admirably betwixt debtor and
creditor--_That_ equal dispensation of justice, which provides that an
imprisoned debtor, if a rogue, may remain in undisturbed possession of
a great landed estate, and enjoy in a jail all the luxuries of
Sardanapalus, while the wretch to whom he owes money is starving; and
that, to balance the matter, a creditor, if cruel, may detain a debtor
in prison for a lifetime, and make, as the established phrase goes,
_dice of his bones_--would this admirable reciprocity of privilege,
indulged alternately to knave and tyrant, please Saunders better than
his own humane action of Cessio, and his equitable process of

I will not insist further on such topics, for I daresay that these
apparent enormities in principle are, in England where they have
operation, modified and corrected in practice by circumstances unknown
to me; so that, in passing judgment on them, I may myself fall into
the error I deprecate, of judging of foreign laws without being aware
of all the premisses. Neither do I mean that we should struggle with
illiberality against any improvements which can be borrowed from
English principle. I would only desire that such ameliorations were
adopted, not merely because they are English, but because they are
suited to be assimilated with the laws of Scotland, and lead, in
short, _to her evident utility_; and this on the principle, that in
transplanting a tree, little attention need be paid to the character
of the climate and soil from which it is brought, although the
greatest care must be taken that those of the situation to which it is
transplanted are fitted to receive it. It would be no reason for
planting mulberry-trees in Scotland, that they luxuriate in the south
of England. There is sense in the old proverb, 'Ilk land has its ain

In the present case, it is impossible to believe the extension of
these restrictions to Scotland can be for the _evident utility_ of the
country, which has prospered so long and so uniformly under directly
the contrary system.

It is very probable I may be deemed illiberal in all this reasoning;
but if to look for information to practical results, rather than to
theoretical principles, and to argue from the effect of the experience
of a century, rather than the deductions of a modern hypothesis, be
illiberal, I must sit down content with a censure, which will include
wiser men than I. The philosophical tailors of Laputa, who wrought by
mathematical calculation, had, no doubt, a supreme contempt for those
humble fashioners who went to work by measuring the person of their
customer; but Gulliver tells us, that the worst clothes he ever wore,
were constructed upon abstract principles; and truly, I think, we have
seen some laws, and may see more, not much better adapted to existing
circumstances, than the Captain's philosophical uniform to his actual

It is true, that every wise statesman keeps sound and general
political principles in his eye, as the pilot looks upon his compass
to discover his true course. But this true course cannot always be
followed out straight and diametrically; it must be altered from time
to time, nay sometimes apparently abandoned, on account of shoals,
breakers, and headlands, not to mention contrary winds. The same
obstacles occur to the course of the statesman. The point at which he
aims may be important, the principle on which he steers may be just;
yet the obstacles arising from rooted prejudices, from intemperate
passions, from ancient practices, from a different character of
people, from varieties in climate and soil, may cause a direct
movement upon his ultimate object to be attended with distress to
individuals, and loss to the community, which no good man would wish
to occasion, and with dangers which no wise man would voluntarily
choose to encounter.

Although I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been rather
precipitate in the decided opinion which he is represented to have
expressed on this occasion, I am far from entertaining the slightest
disrespect for the right honourable gentleman. 'I hear as good
exclamation upon him as on any man in Messina, and though I am but a
poor man, I am glad to hear it.' But a decided attachment to abstract
principle, and to a spirit of generalising, is--like a rash rider on a
headstrong horse--very apt to run foul of local obstacles, which might
have been avoided by a more deliberate career, where the nature of the
ground had been previously considered.

I make allowance for the temptation natural to an ingenious and active
mind. There is a natural pride in following out an universal and
levelling principle. It seems to augur genius, force of conception,
and steadiness of purpose; qualities which every legislator is
desirous of being thought to possess. On the other hand, the study of
local advantages and impediments demands labour and inquiry, and is
rewarded after all only with the cold and parsimonious praise due to
humble industry. It is no less true, however, that measures which go
straight and direct to a great general object, without noticing
intervening impediments, must often resemble the fierce progress of
the thunderbolt or the cannon-ball, those dreadful agents, which, in
rushing right to their point, care not what ruin they make by the way.
The sounder and more moderate policy, accommodating its measures to
exterior circumstances, rather resembles the judicious course of a
well-conducted highway, which, turning aside frequently from its
direct course,

    'Winds round the corn-field and the hill of vines,'

and becomes devious, that it may respect property and avoid obstacles;
thus escaping even temporary evils, and serving the public no less in
its more circuitous, than it would have done in its direct course.

Can you tell me, sir, if this _uniformity_ of civil institutions,
which calls for such sacrifices, be at all descended from, or related
to, a doctrine nearly of the same nature, called Conformity in
religious doctrine, very fashionable about one hundred and fifty years
since, which undertook to unite the jarring creeds of the United
Kingdom to one common standard, and excited a universal strife by the
vain attempt, and a thousand fierce disputes, in which she

        '----umpire sate,
    And by decision more embroiled the fray'?

Should Uniformity have the same pedigree, Malachi Malagrowther
proclaims her 'a hawk of a very bad nest.'

The universal opinion of a whole kingdom, founded upon a century's
experience, ought not to be lightly considered as founded in ignorance
and prejudice. I am something of an agriculturist; and in travelling
through the country I have often had occasion to wonder that the
inhabitants of particular districts had not adopted certain obvious
improvements in cultivation. But, upon inquiry, I have usually found
out that appearances had deceived me, and that I had not reckoned on
particular local circumstances, which either prevented the execution
of the system I should have theoretically recommended, or rendered
some other more advantageous in the particular circumstances.

I do not therefore resist theoretical innovation in general; I only
humbly desire it may not outrun the suggestions arising from the
experience of ages. I would have the necessity felt and acknowledged
before old institutions are demolished--the _evident utility_ of every
alteration demonstrated before it is adopted upon mere speculation. I
submit our ancient system to the primary knife of the legislature, but
would not willingly see our reformers employ a weapon, which, like the
sword of Jack the Giant-Killer, _cuts before the point_.

It is always to be considered, that in human affairs, the very best
imaginable result is seldom to be obtained, and that it is wise to
content ourselves with the best which can be got. This principle
speaks with a voice of thunder against violent innovation, for the
sake of possible improvement, where things are already well. We ought
not to desire better bread than is made of wheat. Our Scotch proverb
warns us to _Let weel bide_; and all the world has heard of the
untranslatable Italian epitaph upon the man, who died of taking physic
to make him better, when he was already in health.--I am, Mr.
Journalist, yours,



Since writing these hasty thoughts, I hear it reported that we are to
have an extension of our precarious reprieve, and that our six months
are to be extended to six years. I would not have Scotland trust to
this hollow truce. The measure ought, like all others, to be canvassed
on its merits, and frankly admitted or rejected; it has been stirred
and ought to be decided. I request my countrymen not to be soothed
into inactivity by that temporising, and, I will say, unmanly
vacillation. Government is pledged to nothing by taking an open
course; for if the bill, so far as applicable to Scotland, is at
present absolutely laid aside, there can be no objection to their
resuming it at any period, when from change of circumstances, it may
be advantageous to Scotland, and when, for what I know, it may be
welcomed as a boon.

But if held over our heads as a minatory measure, to take place within
a certain period, what can the event be but to cripple and ultimately
destroy the present system, on which a direct attack is found at
present inexpedient? Can the bankers continue to conduct their
profession on the same secure footing, with an abrogation of it in
prospect? Must it not cease to be what it has hitherto been--a
business carried on both for their own profit, and for the
accommodation of the country? Instead of employing their capital in
the usual channels, must they not in self-defence employ it in forming
others? Will not the substantial and wealthy withdraw their funds from
that species of commerce? And may not the place of these be supplied
by men of daring adventure, without corresponding capital, who will
take a chance of wealth or ruin in the chances of the game?

If it is the absolute and irrevocable determination that the bill is
to be extended to us, the sooner the great penalty is inflicted the
better; for in politics and commerce, as in all the other affairs of
life, absolute and certain evil is better than uncertainty and
protracted suspense.


[Transcriber's note: I have added the pamphlet headings, since the
original page numbers are not helpful.]


_The exclusion_--of James from the succession.

_The rebellion_--Monmouth's.

_The Quakers_.--A hit, of course, at Penn.

_Piqueer_, 'do outpost duty,' 'raid.'

_Lords of the Articles_.--A well-known body in the older Scottish
Constitution, through whom only legislation could be originated, and who
thus almost nullified the powers of Parliament.

_Squeaziness_ = 'squeamishness,' 'queasiness.'

_It is impossible_.--Another form of 'No bishop no king.'

_The new converts_.--After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

_T.W._ is, of course, a mere fancy signature. It might stand for
'True Wellwisher' or anything. The wiseacres took it as ='W.T.,' William


_Neither_, for 'too,' is colloquial but rather picturesque. Cf. the
famous 'And yet but yaw neither' in _Hamlet_.


I have not thought it desirable to reproduce the abundance of italics
with which the original is furnished. They no doubt appealed to the
vulgar, as where poor Mr. Wood is described as '_a mean ordinary man,
a hard-ware dealer_.' But the vigour of the onslaught is wholly
independent of them.

_Written_--by Swift himself.

_Bere_, or 'bear,' also 'bigg,' a kind of barley largely cultivated
in Ireland, Scotland, and Northern England. It has six rows in the ear,
and will grow in much poorer ground and a much damper and rougher
climate than the two-rowed variety. It is also, I believe, still thought
to give the best whisky, if not the best beer, when malted.

_Conolly_.--Speaker of the Irish House of Commons.

_Pistole_--about ten shillings.

_Brought to the bullion_ seems here to have the meaning of the
French _billonner_ or _envoyer au billon_, 'to melt for recoining.'

_Our Cæsar's statue_.--The statue of George I. on Essex Bridge,


_Contignation_.--This rather pedantic, and now, I think, quite
obsolete word (from _tignum_, 'beam') means 'having a common or
continuous roof.'

The slackness of England in taking advantage of the Vendéan and Chouan
movements, of which Burke here complains, has never been fully
explained. The poltroonery of the Bourbon princes, and the factions of
the emigrants, throw a certain but not a complete light on it; and
though conjectural explanations are obvious enough, there is little
positive evidence to support them.

_But when the possibility ... that the_.--It will probably seem
to a modern reader that either 'that' or 'the' has crept in improperly.
It might be so; but Burke still maintained the authoritative but rather
inelegant tradition by which 'that,' like the French _que_, could
replace any such antecedent word as 'when,' 'because,' etc.

_Louis the Sixteenth_.--To this is appended a note in the editions
beginning, 'It may be right to do justice to Louis XVI. He did what he
could to destroy the double diplomacy of France.' The subject has of
late years received considerable illustration in the Duke of Broglie's
_Le Secret du Roi_, and other works by the same author.

_Montalembert_.--Marc René, Marquis de (1714-1800), a voluminous
military writer.

_Harrington_--of the _Oceana_.


_Dear Abraham_.--'Peter Plymley' addresses his _Letters_ to
'my brother Abraham, who lives in the country,' and is a

_Baron Maseres_.--Cursitor Baron of the Exchequer, a descendant
of Huguenots, very well thought of by his contemporaries. Dr. Rennel I
know not, unless he was the Herodotus man.

_C----_, Canning.

_Dr. Duigenan_.--A delightful person who, in his hot youth, as a
junior Fellow of T.C., D., threatened to 'bulge the Provost's' [Provost
Hely Hutchinson's] 'eye,' and was afterwards a pillar of Protestantism.

This _light and frivolous jester_ was _not_ the Rev. Sydney
Smith, but George Canning, Esq.

_The pecuniary Rose_.--'Old George' Rose, Pitt's right hand. He
was rather heavily rewarded with places and pensions; but even Liberals
now admit that the country has hardly had an abler official.

_Lord Hawkesbury_, Jenkinson, better known as Lord Liverpool.

_Tickell_--the _Rolliad_ Tickell.

_Joel_--Peter's nephew and Abraham's son.


_Paint in the most horrid colours_.--See, for instance, _The
Bloody Buoy_ and _The Cannibal's Progress_, by William Cobbett.

_Flogging_.--Some of the militia mutinied at Ely, and were
punished, the guard on the occasion being furnished by the cavalry of
the German Legion. Cobbett noticed this in the most inflammatory
manner, and it being war time, was indicted, tried, found guilty, and
sentenced as he describes.

_Monks and friars_.--A time came when Cobbett thought and wrote
very differently of these persons. But that was his way.

_Foundal_.--I do not know whether Cobbett invented this equivalent
for _trouvaille_, 'windfall,' or not. His notable scheme for breaking
the Bank is a good example of him in his insaner moods.


_The Duenna_--Sheridan's.

_The Jury Court_.--Trial by jury in _civil_ cases was only introduced
into Scotland in 1815.

_Evasive answer_--to the effect that each queen was the fairest
woman in her own country.

_Doer_ = 'factor' or agent.

_Them_--as if 'Scotsmen' had been written for 'Scotland.'

_Chosen Five and Forty_--the original number of members
assigned to Scotland.

_Political pamphlet_--'The Public Spirit of the Whigs.'

_Durk, sic_ in original.

_Cessio, sc. bonorum_, whereby a debtor on giving up his property
could be relieved of liabilities.

_Adjudication_, whereby a creditor could attach landed as
well as personal property.

_Lauch_ = 'laugh.'

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