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Title: The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D. — Volume 03 - Swift's Writings on Religion and the Church — Volume 1
Author: Swift, Jonathan, 1667-1745
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D. — Volume 03 - Swift's Writings on Religion and the Church — Volume 1" ***

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[Illustration: _Jonathan Swift,

from a picture by Frances Bindon

In the possession of Sir F R Falkiner_]

















The inquiry into the religious thought of the eighteenth century forms
one of the most interesting subjects for speculation in the history of
the intellectual development of western nations. It is true, that in
that history Swift takes no special or distinguished part; but he forms
a figure of peculiar interest in a special circle of his own. Swift had
no natural bent for the ministry of a church; his instincts, his
temperament, his intellect, were of that order which fitted him for
leadership and administration. He was a born magistrate and commander of
men. It is, therefore, one of the finest compliments we can pay Swift to
say, that no more faithful, no more devoted, no stauncher servant has
that Church possessed; for we must remember the proud and haughty temper
which attempted to content itself with the humdrum duties of a parish
life. Swift entered the service of that Church at a time when its need
for such a man was great; and in spite of its disdain of his worth, in
spite of its failure to recognize and acknowledge his transcendent
qualities, he never forgot his oath, and never shook in his allegiance.
To any one, however, who reads carefully his sermons, his "Thoughts on
Religion," and his "Letter to a Young Clergyman," there comes a
question--whether, for his innermost conscience, Swift found a
satisfying conviction in the doctrines of Christianity. "I am not
answerable to God," he says, "for the doubts that arise in my own
breast, since they are the consequence of that reason which he hath
planted in me, if I take care to conceal those doubts from others, if I
use my best endeavours to subdue them, and if they have no influence on
the conduct of my life." We search in vain, in any of his writings, for
any definite expression of doubt or want of faith in these doctrines.
When he touches on them, as he does in the sermon "On the Trinity," he
seems to avoid of set purpose, rational inquiry, and contents himself
with insisting on the necessity for a belief in those mysteries
concerning God about which we cannot hope to know anything. "I do not
find," he says, in his "Letter to a Young Clergyman," "that you are
anywhere directed in the canons or articles to attempt explaining the
mysteries of the Christian religion; and, indeed, since Providence
intended there should be mysteries, I don't see how it can be agreeable
to piety, orthodoxy, or good sense to go about such a work. For to me
there seems a manifest dilemma in the case; if you explain them, they
are mysteries no longer; if you fail, you have laboured to no purpose."

It must at once be admitted that Swift had not the metaphysical bent;
philosophy--in our modern sense of the word--was to him only a species
of word spinning. That only was valuable which had a practical bearing
on life--and Christianity had that. He found in Christianity, as he knew
it--in the Church of England, that is to say--an excellent organization,
which recognized the frailties of human nature, aimed at making
healthier men's souls, and gave mankind a reasonable guidance in the
selection of the best motives to action. He himself, as a preacher, made
it his principal business, "first to tell the people what is their duty,
and then to convince them that it is so." He had a profound faith in
existing institutions, which to him were founded on the fundamental
traits of humanity. The Church of England he considered to be such an
institution; and it was, moreover, regulated and settled by order of the
State. To follow its teachings would lead men to become good citizens,
honest dealers, truthful and cleanly companions, upright friends. What
more could be demanded of any religion?

The Romish Church led away from the Constitution as by law established.
Dissent set up private authority, which could no more be permitted in
religious than it was in political matters; it meant dissension,
revolution, and the upheaval of tried and trusted associations.
Therefore, the Church of Rome and the teachings of Dissent were alike
dangerous; and against both, whenever they attempted the possession of
political power, he waged a fierce and uncompromising war. "Where sects
are tolerated in a State," he says, in his "Sentiments of a Church of
England Man," "it is fit they should enjoy a full liberty of conscience,
and every other privilege of free-born subjects, to which no power is
annexed. And to preserve their obedience upon all emergencies, a
government cannot give them too much ease, nor trust them with too
little power."

Swift had no passionate love for ideals--indeed, he may have thought
ideals to be figments of an overheated and, therefore, aberrated
imagination. The practically real was the best ideal; and by the real he
would understand that power which most capably and most regulatively
nursed, guided, and assisted the best instincts of the average man. The
average man was but a sorry creature, and required adventitious aids for
his development. Gifted as he was with a large sympathy, Swift yet was
seemingly incapable of appreciating those thought-forms which help us to
visualize mentally our religious aspirations and emotions. A mere
emotion was but subject-matter for his satire. He suspected any zeal
which protested too much for truth, and considered it "odds on" it being
"either petulancy, ambition, or pride."

Whatever may have been his private speculations as to the truth of the
doctrines of Christianity they never interfered with his sense of his
responsibilities as a clergyman. "I look upon myself," he says, "in the
capacity of a clergyman, to be one appointed by Providence for defending
a post assigned me, and for gaining over as many enemies as I can.
Although I think my cause is just, yet one great motive is my submitting
to the pleasure of Providence, and to the laws of my country." If anyone
had asked him, what was the pleasure of Providence, he would probably
have answered, that it was plainly shown in the Scriptures, and required
not the aid of the expositions of divines who were "too curious, or too
narrow, in reducing orthodoxy within the compass of subtleties,
niceties, and distinctions." Truth was no abstraction--that was truth
which found its expression in the best action; and this explains Swift's
acceptance of any organization which made for such expression. He found
one ready in the Church of England; and whatever his doubts were, those
only moved him which were aroused by action from those who attempted to
interfere with the working of that organization. And this also helps to
explain his political attitude at the time when it was thought he had
deserted his friends. The Church was always his first consideration. He
was not a Churchman because he was a politician, but a politician
because he was a Churchman. These, however, are matters which are more
fully entered into by Swift himself in the tracts herewith reprinted,
and in the notes prefixed to them by the editor.

It was originally intended that Swift's writings on Religion and the
Church should occupy a single volume of this edition of his works. They
are, however, so numerous that it has been found more convenient to
divide them into two volumes--the first including all the tracts, except
those relating to the Sacramental Test; the second containing the Test
pamphlets and the twelve sermons, with the Remarks on Dr. Gibbs's
paraphrase of the Psalms, in an appendix. It is hoped that this
division, while it entails upon the student the necessity for a double
reference, will yet preserve the continuity of form enabling him to view
Swift's religious standpoint and work with as much advantage as he would
have obtained by the original plan.

The editor again takes the opportunity to thank Colonel F. Grant for the
service he has rendered him in placing at his disposal his fine
collection of Swift's tracts. The portrait which forms the frontispiece
to this volume is one of those painted by Francis Bindon, and was
formerly in the possession of Judge Berwick. For permission to
photograph and reproduce it here, thanks are due to Sir Frederick R.
Falkiner, Recorder of Dublin.























*****       *****       *****       *****       *****







In November, 1707, Swift left Dublin in the train of the then Lord
Lieutenant, Lord Pembroke. His travelling companion was Sir Andrew
Fountaine, who, on landing in England, set out with Lord Pembroke for
Wilton, while Swift went on to Leicester to visit his mother. He stayed
with her until some time in December, but, by the middle of the same
month, he was in London. During this absence from Ireland Swift
corresponded somewhat freely with Archbishop King of Dublin, and with
Archdeacon Walls--the letters to the former were first printed in
Forster's "Life of Swift." For these Forster was indebted to the Rev.
Mr. Reeves (vicar of Lusk, co. Dublin), who discovered them in the
record-room of the see of Armagh (see "Life," p. 205 et seq. and note).
One of Swift's intentions, while in the metropolis, was to push forward
the claim of the Irish clergy for the remission of the First Fruits and
Tenths, a grant which had already been conceded to the English clergy;
and his letters to King often include requests for the necessary papers
by means of which he could lay the matter before either Godolphin or
Somers. Walls had written to Swift of the vacancy of the see of
Waterford, and, from the reply to the archdeacon, we learn that even at
so early a date Swift suffered a grievous disappointment; for in
January, 1708, the bishopric, of which Swift had hopes, was presented to
Dr. Thomas Milles. In his letter to Walls Swift confesses that he "once
had a glimpse that things would have gone otherwise.... But let us
talk no further on this subject. I am stomach-sick of it already. ...
Pray send me an account of some smaller vacancy in the Government's
gift." It was to Somers, and through him to Lord Halifax, that Swift
looked for recognition, either for services rendered, or because of
their appreciation of his abilities. But, however much he may have been
disappointed at their inaction, it may not be argued, as it has been,
that Swift's so-called change in his political opinions was the outcome
either of spleen or chagrin against the Whigs for their ingratitude
towards him. It is, indeed, questionable whether Swift ever changed his
political opinions, speaking of these as party opinions. From the day of
his entrance, it may be said, into the orders of the Church, his first
thought was for it; and on all political questions which touched Church
matters Swift was neither Whig nor Tory, but churchman. It was because
of the attitude of the Whigs towards the Church that Swift left them;
and in his writings he does not spare the Tories even when he finds them
taking up similar attitudes. On purely political questions Swift was too
independent a thinker to be influenced by mere party views. That he
wrote for the Tories must be put down to Harley's personal influence,
and to his foresight which saw in Swift a man who must be treated as an
equal with the highest in the land. Swift's intercourse with the leading
men of his day only served to accentuate his consciousness of his
superiority; and a party which would permit him the free play of his
powers would be the party to which Swift would give his adhesion.
Godolphin, Somers, and Walpole either did not recognize the genius of
the man, or their own "points of view" did not permit them to give him
the free play they felt he would obtain. Be that as it may, Harley
gained not only a splendid party fighter, but a friend on whose
affection he could ever rely.

In these tracts on Religion and the Church, which he wrote in the year
1708, Swift is not a party man, speaking for party purposes. He
believed, and sincerely believed, that for such beings as were the men
and women of this kingdom, the Church was, if not the highest and
noblest instrument for good, yet the worthiest and ablest they had.
Swift never lost himself in theories. He was, however, not blind to the
dangers which an established religion might engender; but whatever its
dangers, these would be inevitable to the most perfect system so long as
human nature was as base as it was. The "Argument" is written in a vein
of satirical banter; but the Swiftian cynicism permeates every line. It
is the first of four tracts which form Swift's most important expression
of his thoughts on Religion and the Church. Scott well describes it as
"one of the most felicitous efforts in our language, to engage wit and
humour on the side of religion," and Forster speaks of it as "having
also that indefinable subtlety of style which conveys not the writer's
knowledge of the subject only, but his power and superiority over it."

I have not been able to find a copy of the original edition of the
"Argument" upon which to base the present text--for that I have gone to
the first edition of the "Miscellanies," published in 1711; but I have
collated this with those given by the "Miscellanies" (1728), Faulkner,
Hawkesworth, Scott, Morley, and Craik.

[T. S.]


I am very sensible what a weakness and presumption it is, to reason
against the general humour and disposition of the world. I remember it
was with great justice, and a due regard to the freedom both of the
public and the press, forbidden upon several penalties to write,[1] or
discourse, or lay wagers against the Union, even before it was confirmed
by parliament, because that was looked upon as a design, to oppose the
current of the people, which, besides the folly of it, is a manifest
breach of the fundamental law that makes this majority of opinion the
voice of God. In like manner, and for the very same reasons, it may
perhaps be neither safe nor prudent to argue against the abolishing of
Christianity, at a juncture when all parties appear[2] so unanimously
determined upon the point, as we cannot but allow from their actions,
their discourses, and their writings. However, I know not how, whether
from the affectation of singularity, or the perverseness of human
nature, but so it unhappily falls out, that I cannot be entirely of this
opinion. Nay, though I were sure an order were issued for my immediate
prosecution by the Attorney-General, I should still confess that in the
present posture of our affairs at home or abroad, I do not yet see the
absolute necessity of extirpating the Christian religion from among us.

[Footnote 1: This refers to the Jacobitism of the time, particularly
among those who were opposed to the Union. A reference to Lord Mahon's
"Reign of Queen Anne" will show how strong was the opposition in
Scotland, and how severe were the measures taken to put down that
opposition. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: Craik and Hawkesworth print the word "seem," but the
"Miscellanies," Faulkner, and Scott give it as in the text. [T.S.]]

This perhaps may appear too great a paradox even for our wise and
paradoxical age to endure; therefore I shall handle it with all
tenderness, and with the utmost deference to that great and profound
majority which is of another sentiment.

And yet the curious may please to observe, how much the genius of a
nation is liable to alter in half an age. I have heard it affirmed for
certain by some very old people, that the contrary opinion was even in
their memories as much in vogue as the other is now; and, that a project
for the abolishing of Christianity would then have appeared as singular,
and been thought as absurd, as it would be at this time to write or
discourse in its defence.

Therefore I freely own that all appearances are against me. The system
of the Gospel, after the fate of other systems is generally antiquated
and exploded, and the mass or body of the common people, among whom it
seems to have had its latest credit, are now grown as much ashamed of it
as their betters; opinions, like fashions, always descending from those
of quality to the middle sort, and thence to the vulgar, where at length
they are dropped and vanish.

But here I would not be mistaken, and must therefore be so bold as to
borrow a distinction from the writers on the other side, when they make
a difference between nominal and real Trinitarians. I hope no reader
imagines me so weak to stand up in the defence of real Christianity,
such as used in primitive times (if we may believe the authors of those
ages) to have an influence upon men's belief and actions: To offer at
the restoring of that would indeed be a wild project; it would be to dig
up foundations; to destroy at one blow all the wit, and half the
learning of the kingdom; to break the entire frame and constitution of
things; to ruin trade, extinguish arts and sciences with the professors
of them; in short, to turn our courts, exchanges, and shops into
deserts; and would be full as absurd as the proposal of Horace,[3] where
he advises the Romans all in a body to leave their city, and seek a new
seat in some remote part of the world, by way of cure for the corruption
of their manners.

[Footnote 3: This proposal is embodied in the 16th Epode, where, in an
appeal "to the Roman people," Horace advises them to fly the evils of
tyranny and civil war by sailing away to "the happy land, those islands
of the blest:"

  "Nos manet Oceanus circumvagus! arva, beata
  Petamus arva, divites et insulas!"

Therefore I think this caution was in itself altogether unnecessary,
(which I have inserted only to prevent all possibility of cavilling)
since every candid reader will easily understand my discourse to be
intended only in defence of nominal Christianity; the other having been
for some time wholly laid aside by general consent, as utterly
inconsistent with our present schemes of wealth and power.

But why we should therefore cast off the name and title of Christians,
although the general opinion and resolution be so violent for it, I
confess I cannot (with submission) apprehend the consequence
necessary.[4] However, since the undertakers propose such wonderful
advantages to the nation by this project, and advance many plausible
objections against the system of Christianity, I shall briefly consider
the strength of both, fairly allow them their greatest weight, and offer
such answers as I think most reasonable. After which I will beg leave to
shew what inconveniences may possibly happen by such an innovation, in
the present posture of our affairs.

[Footnote 4: I give the reading of the "Miscellanies" (1711), Faulkner
and Hawkesworth. Scott and Craik print it: "I confess I cannot (with
submission) apprehend, nor is the consequence necessary." [T.S.]]

_First,_ One great advantage proposed by the abolishing of Christianity
is, that it would very much enlarge and establish liberty of conscience,
that great bulwark of our nation, and of the Protestant Religion, which
is still too much limited by priestcraft, notwithstanding all the good
intentions of the legislature, as we have lately found by a severe
instance. For it is confidently reported, that two young gentlemen of
real hopes, bright wit, and profound judgment, who upon a thorough
examination of causes and effects, and by the mere force of natural
abilities, without the least tincture of learning, having made a
discovery, that there was no God, and generously communicating their
thoughts for the good of the public, were some time ago, by an
unparalleled severity, and upon I know not what obsolete law, broke for
blasphemy.[5] And as it hath been wisely observed, if persecution once
begins, no man alive knows how far it may reach, or where it will end.

[Footnote 5: No record of this "breaking" has been discovered. [T.S.]]

In answer to all which, with deference to wiser judgments, I think this
rather shews the necessity of a nominal religion among us. Great wits
love to be free with the highest objects; and if they cannot be allowed
a God to revile or renounce, they will speak evil of dignities, abuse
the government, and reflect upon the ministry; which I am sure few will
deny to be of much more pernicious consequence, according to the saying
of Tiberius, _Deorum offensa diis curae._[6] As to the particular fact
related, I think it is not fair to argue from one instance, perhaps
another cannot be produced; yet (to the comfort of all those who may be
apprehensive of persecution) blasphemy we know is freely spoken a
million of times in every coffeehouse and tavern, or wherever else good
company meet. It must be allowed indeed, that to break an English
free-born officer only for blasphemy, was, to speak the gentlest of such
an action, a very high strain of absolute power. Little can be said in
excuse for the general; perhaps he was afraid it might give offence to
the allies, among whom, for aught we know, it may be the custom of the
country to believe a God. But if he argued, as some have done, upon a
mistaken principle, that an officer who is guilty of speaking blasphemy,
may some time or other proceed so far as to raise a mutiny, the
consequence is by no means to be admitted; for, surely the commander of
an English army is likely to be but ill obeyed, whose soldiers fear and
reverence him as little as they do a Deity.

[Footnote 6: Tacitus, "Annals," bk. i., c. lxxiii. [T.S.]]

It is further objected against the Gospel System, that it obliges men to
the belief of things too difficult for free-thinkers, and such who have
shaken off the prejudices that usually cling to a confined education. To
which I answer, that men should be cautious how they raise objections
which reflect upon the wisdom of the nation. Is not every body freely
allowed to believe whatever he pleases, and to publish his belief to the
world whenever he thinks fit, especially if it serves to strengthen the
party which is in the right? Would any indifferent foreigner, who should
read the trumpery lately written by Asgil, Tindal, Toland, Coward,[7]
and forty more, imagine the Gospel to be our rule of faith, and
confirmed by parliaments? Does any man either believe, or say he
believes, or desire to have it thought that he says he believes one
syllable of the matter? And is any man worse received upon that score,
or does he find his want of nominal faith a disadvantage to him in the
pursuit of any civil or military employment? What if there be an old
dormant statute or two against him, are they not now obsolete, to a
degree, that Empsom and Dudley[8] themselves if they were now alive,
would find it impossible to put them in execution?

[Footnote 7: John Asgill (1659-1738), became a member of Lincoln's Inn,
and went over to Ireland in 1697, where he practised as a barrister,
amassed a large fortune, and was elected to the Irish parliament. For
writing "An Argument, proving that Man may be translated from hence
without passing through Death," he was, in 1700, expelled the House, and
the book ordered to be burnt. On returning to England he was elected to
parliament for Bramber, but suffered a second expulsion in 1712, also on
account of this book. He was imprisoned for debt, and remained under the
rules of the Fleet and King's Bench for thirty years, during which time
he wrote and published various political tracts. His "Argument"
attempted to "interpret the relations between God and man by the
technical rules of English law," and Coleridge thought no little of its
power and style.

Matthew Tindal (1657-1733) was born at Beer Ferrers, in Devonshire. He
studied at Oxford, and obtained a fellowship in All Souls. He was made
LL.D. in 1685, and, although he professed himself a Roman Catholic in
James II.'s reign, he managed to keep his fellowship after that
monarch's flight by becoming Protestant again. His most important work
was "The Rights of the Christian Church Asserted," which the House of
Commons in 1710 adjudged fit for burning by the hangman. In 1730 he
published anonymously, the first part of "Christianity as Old as
Creation," a work which attacked strongly the authority of the
Scriptures; a second volume was never published.

John Toland (1669-1722), born near Londonderry, and educated in a
Catholic school. He professed himself a Protestant, and was sent to
Glasgow and Edinburgh. In the latter university he graduated in his
master's degree. While studying at Leyden he became a sceptic, and in
1695 published his "Christianity not Mysterious," a work which aroused a
wide controversy. In his "Life of Milton" (1698) he denied that King
Charles was the author of "Eikon Basilikae," and also attacked the
Gospels. This also brought upon him rejoinders from Dr. Blackall and Dr.
Samuel Clarke. He died at Putney, in easy circumstances, due to the
presents made him while visiting German courts. He wrote other works,
chief among which may be mentioned, "Socinianism truly Stated" (1705),
"Nazarenas" (1718), and "Tetradymus." His "Posthumous Works" were issued
in two volumes in 1726, with a life by Des Maizeaux. Craik calls him "a
man of utterly worthless character," and refers to his being "mixed up
in some discreditable episodes as a political spy."

William Coward (1656?--1724?) was born at Winchester. He studied
medicine and became a fellow of Wadham College, Oxford. His "Second
Thoughts concerning Human Souls," published in 1702, occasioned fierce
disputes, on account of its materialism. The House of Commons ordered
the work to be burnt by the hangman.

Asgill, Toland, Tindal, Collins, and Coward are classed as the Deistical
writers of the eighteenth century. In his "History of English Thought in
the Eighteenth Century" Mr. Leslie Stephen gives an admirable exposition
of their views, and their special interpretation of Locke's theories.

[Footnote 8: Of Henry VII. notoriety, who aided the king, by illegal
exactions, to amass his large fortune. They were executed by Henry VIII.

It is likewise urged, that there are, by computation, in this kingdom,
above ten thousand parsons, whose revenues added to those of my lords
the bishops, would suffice to maintain at least two hundred young
gentlemen of wit and pleasure, and freethinking, enemies to priestcraft,
narrow principles, pedantry, and prejudices; who might be an ornament to
the Court and Town: And then, again, so great a number of able [bodied]
divines might be a recruit to our fleet and armies. This indeed appears
to be a consideration of some weight: But then, on the other side,
several things deserve to be considered likewise: As, first, whether it
may not be thought necessary that in certain tracts of country, like
what we call parishes, there shall be one man at least of abilities to
read and write. Then it seems a wrong computation, that the revenues of
the Church throughout this island would be large enough to maintain two
hundred young gentlemen, or even half that number, after the present
refined way of living; that is, to allow each of them such a rent, as in
the modern form of speech, would make them easy. But still there is in
this project a greater mischief behind; and we ought to beware of the
woman's folly, who killed the hen that every morning laid her a golden
egg. For, pray what would become of the race of men in the next age, if
we had nothing to trust to beside the scrofulous, consumptive
productions, furnished by our men of wit and pleasure, when, having
squandered away their vigour, health and estates, they are forced by
some disagreeable marriage to piece up their broken fortunes, and entail
rottenness and politeness on their posterity? Now, here are ten thousand
persons reduced by the wise regulations of Henry the Eighth,[9] to the
necessity of a low diet, and moderate exercise, who are the only great
restorers of our breed, without which the nation would in an age or two
become one great hospital.

[Footnote 9: His seizures of the revenues of the Church. [T.S.]]

Another advantage proposed by the abolishing of Christianity, is the
clear gain of one day in seven, which is now entirely lost, and
consequently the kingdom one seventh less considerable in trade,
business, and pleasure, besides the loss to the public of so many
stately structures now in the hands of the Clergy, which might be
converted into playhouses, exchanges, market houses, common dormitories,
and other public edifices.

I hope I shall be forgiven a hard word, if I call this a perfect
_cavil._ I readily own there has been an old custom time out of mind,
for people to assemble in the churches every Sunday, and that shops are
still frequently shut, in order as it is conceived, to preserve the
memory of that ancient practice, but how this can prove a hindrance to
business or pleasure, is hard to imagine. What if the men of pleasure
are forced one day in the week, to game at home instead of the chocolate
houses?[10] Are not the taverns and coffeehouses open? Can there be a
more convenient season for taking a dose of physic? Are fewer claps got
upon Sundays than other days? Is not that the chief day for traders to
sum up the accounts of the week, and for lawyers to prepare their
briefs? But I would fain know how it can be pretended that the churches
are misapplied? Where are more appointments and rendezvouzes of
gallantry? Where more care to appear in the foremost box with greater
advantage of dress? Where more meetings for business? Where more
bargains driven of all sorts? And where so many conveniences or
enticements to sleep?

[Footnote 10: The chocolate houses seem to have been largely used for
gambling purposes. They were not so numerous as the coffee houses.

There is one advantage greater than any of the foregoing, proposed by
the abolishing of Christianity: that it will utterly extinguish parties
among us, by removing those factious distinctions of High and Low
Church, of Whig and Tory, Presbyterian and Church of England, which are
now so many mutual clogs upon public proceedings, and are apt to prefer
the gratifying themselves, or depressing their adversaries, before the
most important interest of the state.

I confess, if it were certain that so great an advantage would redound
to the nation by this expedient, I would submit and be silent: But will
any man say, that if the words _whoring, drinking, cheating, lying,
stealing_, were by act of parliament ejected out of the English tongue
and dictionaries, we should all awake next morning chaste and temperate,
honest and just, and lovers of truth? Is this a fair consequence? Or, if
the physicians would forbid us to pronounce the words _pox, gout,
rheumatism_ and _stone_, would that expedient serve like so many
talismans to destroy the diseases themselves? Are party and faction
rooted in men's hearts no deeper than phrases borrowed from religion, or
founded upon no firmer principles? And is our language so poor that we
cannot find other terms to express them? Are _envy, pride, avarice_ and
_ambition_ such ill nomenclators, that they cannot furnish appellations
for their owners? Will not _heydukes_ and _mamalukes, mandarins_ and
_patshaws_, or any other words formed at pleasure, serve to distinguish
those who are in the ministry from others who would be in it if they
could? What, for instance, is easier than to vary the form of speech,
and instead of the word church, make it a question in politics, whether
the Monument be in danger? Because religion was nearest at hand to
furnish a few convenient phrases, is our invention so barren, we can
find no other? Suppose, for argument sake, that the Tories favoured
Margarita, the Whigs Mrs. Tofts,[11] and the Trimmers[12] Valentini,[13]
would not _Margaritians, Toftians,_ and _Valentinians_ be very tolerable
marks of distinction? The _Prasini_ and _Veniti,_[14] two most virulent
factions in Italy, began (if I remember right) by a distinction of
colours in ribbons, which we might do with as good a grace[15] about the
dignity of the blue and the green, and would serve as properly to divide
the Court, the Parliament, and the Kingdom between them, as any terms of
art whatsoever, borrowed from religion. And therefore I think, there is
little force in this objection against Christianity, or prospect of so
great an advantage as is proposed in the abolishing of it.

[Footnote 11: Margarita was a famous Italian singer of the day. Her name
was Francesca Margherita de l'Epine, and she was known as "the Italian
woman." In his "Journal to Stella" for August 6th, 1711, Swift writes:
"We have a music meeting in our town [Windsor] to-night. I went to the
rehearsal of it, and there was Margarita and her sister, and another
drab, and a parcel of fiddlers; I was weary, and would not go to the
meeting, which I am sorry for, because I heard it was a great assembly."
(See present edition, vol. ii. p. 219).

Mrs. Catherine Tofts was an Englishwoman, who also sang in Italian
opera. She had a fine figure and a beautiful voice. Steele in the
"Tatler," No. 20, refers to her when in her state of insanity. Her mind,
evidently, could not stand the strain of her great popularity, and she
became mad in 1709. In the "Tatler" she is called Camilla; and Cibber
also speaks of the "silver tone of her voice." [T.S.]]

[Footnote 12: By the Trimmers Swift referred to the nickname given to
the party in the time of Charles II., which consisted of those who
wished to compromise between the advocates of the Crown and the
supporters of the Protestant succession as against the Duke of York.

[Footnote 13: Another Italian singer of the time, who was the rival of
Margarita and Mrs. Tofts. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 14: This refers to the Roman chariot races. They gave rise to
the factions called _Albati, Russati, Prasini,_ and _Veniti._ The
Prasini (green) and Veniti (blue) were the principal, and their rivalry
landed the empire, under Justinian, in a civil war. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 15: Scott has "and we might contend with as good a grace," &c.
Craik follows Scott. The reading in the text is that of the
"Miscellanies" (1711), Faulkner, and Hawkesworth. [T.S.]]

'Tis again objected, as a very absurd ridiculous custom, that a set of
men should be suffered, much less employed and hired, to bawl one day in
seven against the lawfulness of those methods most in use toward the
pursuit of greatness, riches and pleasure, which are the constant
practice of all men alive on the other six. But this objection is, I
think, a little unworthy so refined an age as ours. Let us argue this
matter calmly: I appeal to the breast of any polite freethinker, whether
in the pursuit of gratifying a predominant passion, he hath not always
felt a wonderful incitement, by reflecting it was a thing forbidden; and
therefore we see, in order to cultivate this taste, the wisdom of the
nation hath taken special care, that the ladies should be furnished with
prohibited silks, and the men with prohibited wine. And indeed it were
to be wished, that some other prohibitions were promoted, in order to
improve the pleasures of the town; which, for want of such expedients
begin already, as I am told, to flag and grow languid, giving way daily
to cruel inroads from the spleen.

'Tis likewise proposed as a great advantage to the public, that if we
once discard the system of the Gospel, all religion will of course be
banished for ever; and consequently, along with it, those grievous
prejudices of education, which under the names of _virtue, conscience,
honour, justice,_ and the like, are so apt to disturb the peace of human
minds, and the notions whereof are so hard to be eradicated by right
reason or freethinking, sometimes during the whole course of our lives.

Here first, I observe how difficult it is to get rid of a phrase, which
the world is once grown fond of, though the occasion that first produced
it, be entirely taken away. For several years past, if a man had but an
ill-favoured nose, the deep-thinkers of the age would some way or other
contrive to impute the cause to the prejudice of his education. From
this fountain were said to be derived all our foolish notions of
justice, piety, love of our country, all our opinions of God, or a
future state, Heaven, Hell, and the like: And there might formerly
perhaps have been some pretence for this charge. But so effectual care
has been taken to remove those prejudices, by an entire change in the
methods of education, that (with honour I mention it to our polite
innovators) the young gentlemen who are now on the scene, seem to have
not the least tincture of those infusions, or string of those weeds;
and, by consequence, the reason for abolishing nominal Christianity upon
that pretext, is wholly ceased.

For the rest, it may perhaps admit a controversy, whether the banishing
of all notions of religion whatsoever, would be convenient for the
vulgar. Not that I am in the least of opinion with those who hold
religion to have been the invention of politicians, to keep the lower
part of the world in awe by the fear of invisible powers; unless mankind
were then very different to what it is now: For I look upon the mass or
body of our people here in England, to be as freethinkers, that is to
say, as staunch unbelievers, as any of the highest rank. But I conceive
some scattered notions about a superior power to be of singular use for
the common people, as furnishing excellent materials to keep children
quiet when they grow peevish, and providing topics of amusement in a
tedious winter-night.

Lastly, 'tis proposed as a singular advantage, that the abolishing of
Christianity will very much contribute to the uniting of Protestants, by
enlarging the terms of communion so as to take in all sorts of
dissenters, who are now shut out of the pale upon account of a few
ceremonies which all sides confess to be things indifferent: That this
alone will effectually answer the great ends of a scheme for
comprehension, by opening a large noble gate, at which all bodies may
enter; whereas the chaffering with dissenters, and dodging about this or
t'other ceremony, is but like opening a few wickets, and leaving them at
jar, by which no more than one can get in at a time, and that, not
without stooping, and sideling, and squeezing his body.[16]

[Footnote 16: "In this passage," says Scott, "the author's High Church
principles, and jealousy of the Dissenters, plainly shew themselves; and
it is, perhaps, in special reference to what is here said, that he ranks
it among the pamphlets he wrote in opposition to the party then in
power." [T. S.]]

To all this I answer: that there is one darling inclination of mankind,
which usually affects to be a retainer to religion, though she be
neither its parent, its godmother, or its friend; I mean the spirit of
opposition, that lived long before Christianity, and can easily subsist
without it. Let us, for instance, examine wherein the opposition of
sectaries among us consists, we shall find Christianity to have no share
in it at all Does the Gospel any where prescribe a starched, squeezed
countenance, a stiff, formal gait, a singularity of manners and habit,
or any affected modes of speech different from the reasonable part of
mankind? Yet, if Christianity did not lend its name to stand in the gap,
and to employ or divert these humours, they must of necessity be spent
in contraventions to the laws of the land, and disturbance of the public
peace. There is a portion of enthusiasm assigned to every nation, which,
if it hath not proper objects to work on, will burst out, and set all
into a flame. If the quiet of a state can be bought by only flinging men
a few ceremonies to devour, it is a purchase no wise man would refuse
Let the mastiffs amuse themselves about a sheep's skin stuffed with hay,
provided it will keep them from worrying the flock The institution of
convents abroad, seems in one point a strain of great wisdom, there
being few irregularities in human passions, which may not have recourse
to vent themselves in some of those orders, which are so many retreats
for the speculative, the melancholy, the proud, the silent, the politic
and the morose, to spend themselves, and evaporate the noxious
particles, for each of whom we in this island are forced to provide a
several sect of religion, to keep them quiet And whenever Christianity
shall be abolished, the legislature must find some other expedient to
employ and entertain them For what imports it how large a gate you open,
if there will be always left a number who place a pride and a merit in
not coming in?[17]

[Footnote 17: So the "Miscellanies" (1711) and Hawkesworth Faulkner,
Scott, and Craik print, "in refusing to enter." [T. S.]]

Having thus considered the most important objections against
Christianity, and the chief advantages proposed by the abolishing
thereof, I shall now with equal deference and submission to wiser
judgments as before, proceed to mention a few inconveniences that may
happen, if the Gospel should be repealed, which perhaps the projectors
may not have sufficiently considered.

And first, I am very sensible how much the gentlemen of wit and pleasure
are apt to murmur, and be choqued[18] at the sight of so many draggled
tail parsons, that happen to fall in their way, and offend their eyes,
but at the same time, these wise reformers do not consider what an
advantage and felicity it is, for great wits to be always provided with
objects of scorn and contempt, in order to exercise and improve their
talents, and divert their spleen from falling on each other or on
themselves, especially when all this may be done without the least
imaginable danger to their persons.

[Footnote 18: Shocked Swift's habit when using a word of French origin
was to keep the French spelling. [T. S.]]

And to urge another argument of a parallel nature. If Christianity were
once abolished, how could the freethinkers, the strong reasoners, and
the men of profound learning, be able to find another subject so
calculated in all points whereon to display their abilities? What
wonderful productions of wit should we be deprived of, from those whose
genius by continual practice hath been wholly turned upon raillery and
invectives against religion, and would therefore never be able to shine
or distinguish themselves upon any other subject! We are daily
complaining of the great decline of wit among us, and would we take away
the greatest, perhaps the only topic we have left? Who would ever have
suspected Asgil for a wit, or Toland for a philosopher, if the
inexhaustible stock of Christianity had not been at hand to provide them
with materials? What other subject, through all art or nature, could
have produced Tindal for a profound author, or furnished him with
readers? It is the wise choice of the subject that alone adorns and
distinguishes the writer. For, had a hundred such pens as these been
employed on the side of religion, they would have immediately sunk into
silence and oblivion.

Nor do I think it wholly groundless, or my fears altogether imaginary,
that the abolishing of Christianity may perhaps bring the Church into
danger, or at least put the senate to the trouble of another securing
vote. I desire I may not be mistaken; I am far from presuming to affirm
or think that the Church is in danger at present, or as things now
stand; but we know not how soon it may be so when the Christian religion
is repealed. As plausible as this project seems, there may a dangerous
design lurk under it:[19] Nothing can be more notorious, than that the
Atheists, Deists, Socinians, Anti-trinitarians, and other subdivisions
of freethinkers, are persons of little zeal for the present
ecclesiastical establishment: Their declared opinion is for repealing
the Sacramental Test; they are very indifferent with regard to
ceremonies; nor do they hold the _jus divinum_ of Episcopacy. Therefore
this may be intended as one politic step toward altering the
constitution of the Church established, and setting up Presbytery in the
stead, which I leave to be further considered by those at the helm.

[Footnote 19: Craik follows Scott in altering this sentence to "there
may be a dangerous design lurking under it"; but all other editors,
except Morley and Roscoe, give it as printed in the text. [T.S.]]

In the last place, I think nothing can be more plain, than that by this
expedient, we shall run into the evil we chiefly pretend to avoid; and
that the abolishment of the Christian religion will be the readiest
course we can take to introduce popery. And I am the more inclined to
this opinion, because we know it has been the constant practice of the
Jesuits to send over emissaries, with instructions to personate
themselves members of the several prevailing sects among us. So it is
recorded, that they have at sundry times appeared in the guise of
Presbyterians, Anabaptists, Independents and Quakers, according as any
of these were most in credit; so, since the fashion hath been taken up
of exploding religion, the popish missionaries have not been wanting to
mix with the freethinkers; among whom, Toland the great oracle of the
Antichristians is an Irish priest, the son of an Irish priest; and the
most learned and ingenious author of a book called "The Rights of the
Christian Church,"[20] was in a proper juncture reconciled to the Romish
faith, whose true son, as appears by a hundred passages in his treatise,
he still continues. Perhaps I could add some others to the number; but
the fact is beyond dispute, and the reasoning they proceed by is right:
For, supposing Christianity to be extinguished, the people will never be
at ease till they find out some other method of worship; which will as
infallibly produce superstition, as this will end in popery.

[Footnote 20: Dr. Matthew Tindal (see previous note, p. 9). The book was
afterwards specially criticised by Swift in his "Remarks upon a Book
entitled 'The Rights of the Christian Church.'" See also note to the
present reprint of these "Remarks." [T.S.]]

And therefore, if notwithstanding all I have said, it still be thought
necessary to have a bill brought in for repealing Christianity, I would
humbly offer an amendment; that instead of the word, Christianity, may
be put religion in general; which I conceive will much better answer all
the good ends proposed by the projectors of it. For, as long as we leave
in being a God and his providence, with all the necessary consequences
which curious and inquisitive men will be apt to draw from such
premises, we do not strike at the root of the evil, though we should
ever so effectually annihilate the present scheme of the Gospel: For, of
what use is freedom of thought, if it will not produce freedom of
action, which is the sole end, how remote soever in appearance, of all
objections against Christianity? And therefore, the freethinkers
consider it as a sort of edifice, wherein all the parts have such a
mutual dependence on each other, that if you happen to pull out one
single nail, the whole fabric must fall to the ground. This was happily
expressed by him who had heard of a text brought for proof of the
Trinity, which in an ancient manuscript was differently read; he
thereupon immediately took the hint, and by a sudden deduction of a long
_sorites_, most logically concluded; "Why, if it be as you say, I may
safely whore and drink on, and defy the parson." From which, and many
the like instances easy to be produced, I think nothing can be more
manifest, than that the quarrel is not against any particular points of
hard digestion in the Christian system, but against religion in general;
which, by laying restraints on human nature, is supposed the great enemy
to the freedom of thought and action.

Upon the whole, if it shall still be thought for the benefit of Church
and State, that Christianity be abolished; I conceive however, it may be
more convenient to defer the execution to a time of peace, and not
venture in this conjuncture to disoblige our allies, who, as it falls
out, are all Christians, and many of them, by the prejudices of their
education, so bigoted, as to place a sort of pride in the appellation.
If upon being rejected by them, we are to trust an alliance with the
Turk, we shall find ourselves much deceived: For, as he is too remote,
and generally engaged in war with the Persian emperor, so his people
would be more scandalized at our infidelity, than our Christian
neighbours. For they [the Turks] are not only strict observers of
religious worship, but what is worse, believe a God; which is more than
required of us even while we preserve the name of Christians.

To conclude: Whatever some may think of the great advantages to trade by
this favourite scheme, I do very much apprehend, that in six months time
after the act is passed for the extirpation of the Gospel, the Bank, and
East-India Stock, may fall at least one _per cent._ And since that is
fifty times more than ever the wisdom of our age thought fit to venture
for the preservation of Christianity, there is no reason we should be at
so great a loss, merely for the sake of destroying it.

*****       *****       *****       *****







In placing this tract second in chronological order I am following
Forster and Craik. All the collected editions of Swift's works,
including the "Miscellanies" of 1711, begin with "The Sentiments of a
Church of England Man," continue with the "Argument," and then the
"Project." But the short intervals which separated the publication of
all three tracts and the "Letter on the Sacramental Test," make a strict
chronological order of less value than the order of development of the
subject-matter with which they deal, granting even that the "Project"
appeared after "The Sentiments." There seems, however, nothing
improbable in the suggestion made by Forster, that Swift planned the
writing of both the "Argument" and the "Project" while on a visit to the
Earl of Berkeley, at Cranford, in 1708; and his dedication of the latter
to Lady Berkeley lends this suggestion added weight. That the original
edition of the "Project" is dated 1709 is nothing to the point, since it
is well-known that the booksellers often antedated their publications,
as publishers do now, when the issue occurred towards the end of a year.
Moreover, the letter of the Earl of Berkeley to Swift, which Scott
misdates 1706-1707, but which should be 1708, makes special reference to
this very tract, showing that it was certainly published in 1708. "I
earnestly entreat you," writes the earl, "if you have not done it
already, that you would not fail of having your bookseller enable the
Archbishop of York [Dr. Sterne] to give a book to the queen; for, with
Mr. Nelson, I am entirely of opinion, that Her Majesty's reading of that
book on the Progress for the Increase of Morality and Piety, may be of
very great use to that end." I have never seen a copy of the first
edition of "The Sentiments," and I cannot fix the exact date of its
publication; but it was certainly not written before the "Project." The
"Project," therefore, must be considered in the light of a preliminary
essay to the fuller and more digested statement of "The Sentiments of a
Church of England man"; and I have, on this account, placed it as the
second tract written by Swift in the year 1708.

Whatever may be thought of the particular methods which Swift suggested
for realizing his reformatory scheme, and they were, no doubt,
artificial and wooden enough; the tract itself remains an excellent
survey of the evils and gross habits of the time. The methods may be
Utopian (Swift himself thought they were open to discussion), but the
spirit of sincerity and piety is unmistakable. It is worth remembering,
however, that several of the proposals, such as those for closing the
public-houses at twelve o'clock at night; the penalizing of publicans
who supplied drink to drunken customers; the building of churches, have
since been adopted.

I cannot agree with Mr. Churton Collins ("Jonathan Swift," pp. 59-61) in
suspecting Swift of a special policy of self-interest in writing the
"Project." Swift was too honest a man to use the religious sentiment for
the purpose of counteracting any bad impression his previous writings
had made on those who had the power to advance him. However much he
might delight in the possession of high worldly station, he would never
so prostitute himself to obtain it. Nor did he care to let the world
into the secret of his heart. Indeed, all his life Swift seemed to hide,
almost jealously, the genuine piety of his nature. Whatever suspicion of
policy has surrounded the tract must be ascribed to the well-intentioned
letter of the Earl of Berkeley above quoted; and the Earl would not have
written thus had he felt Swift's motive to be any other than a purely
impersonal one.

Steele, in his review of the "Project" in the fifth "Tatler" (April
20th, 1709), makes some interesting observations, and seems to take
special note of the "Person of Honour," in the character of which Swift
wrote it. Writing from Will's Coffee-House, Steele says: "This week
being sacred to holy things, and no public diversions allowed, there has
been taken notice of even here, a little Treatise, called 'A Project for
the Advancement of Religion: dedicated to the Countess of Berkeley.' The
title was so uncommon, and promised so peculiar a way of thinking, that
every man here has read it, and as many as have done so have approved
it. It is written with the spirit of one who has seen the world enough
to undervalue it with good breeding. The author must certainly be a man
of wisdom, as well as piety, and have spent as much time in the exercise
of both. The real causes of the decay of the interests of religion are
set forth in a clear and lively manner, without unseasonable passions;
and the whole air of the book, as to the language, the sentiments, and
the reasonableness, show it was written by one whose virtue sits easy
about him, and to whom vice is thoroughly contemptible. It was said by
one of this company, alluding to that knowledge of the world the author
seems to have, the man writes much like a gentleman, and goes to Heaven
with a very good mien."

In his "Apology" Steele refers to this "Tatler" note, and remarks: "The
gentleman I here intended was Dr. Swift, this kind of man I thought him
at that time. We have not met of late, but I hope he deserves this
character still."

The present text is based upon the first edition; but this edition was
so wretchedly printed that I have carefully collated it with those given
in the "Miscellanies" (1711), Faulkner (1735), and Hawkesworth (1762).

[T. S.]


  _O quisquis volet impias
    Caedes, & rabiem tollere civicam:
  Si quaeret pater urbium
    Subscribi statuis, indomitam audeat
  Refraenare licentiam._



Printed and Sold by _H. Hills_, in _Black-fryars_, near the Water-side.
For the Benefit of the Poor. 1709.



My intention in prefixing your Ladyship's name, is not after the common
form, to desire your protection of the following papers; which I take to
be a very unreasonable request; since, by being inscribed to your
Ladyship, though without your knowledge, and from a concealed hand, you
cannot recommend them without some suspicion of partiality. My real
design is, I confess, the very same I have often detested in most
dedications; that of publishing your praises to the world. Not upon the
subject of your noble birth, for I know others as noble; or of the
greatness of your fortune, for I know others far greater; or of that
beautiful race (the images of their parents) which call you mother: for
even this may perhaps have been equalled in some other age or country.
Besides, none of these advantages do derive any accomplishments to the
owners, but serve at best only to adorn what they really possess. What I
intend, is your piety, truth, good sense, and good nature, affability,
and charity; wherein I wish your Ladyship had many equals, or any
superiors; and I wish I could say I knew them too, for then your
Ladyship might have had a chance to escape this address. In the
meantime, I think it highly necessary, for the interest of virtue and
religion, that the whole kingdom should be informed in some parts of
your character: For instance, that the easiest and politest
conversation, joined with the truest piety, may be observed in your
Ladyship, in as great perfection, as they were ever seen apart in any
other persons. That by your prudence and management under several
disadvantages, you have preserved the lustre of that most noble family
into which you are grafted, and which the immeasurable profusion of
ancestors for many generations had too much eclipsed. Then, how happily
you perform every office of life to which Providence has called you: In
the education of those two incomparable daughters, whose conduct is so
universally admired; in every duty of a prudent, complying, affectionate
wife; in that care which descends to the meanest of your domestics; and,
lastly, in that endless bounty to the poor, and discretion where to
distribute it. I insist on my opinion, that it is of importance for the
public to know this and a great deal more of your Ladyship; yet whoever
goes about to inform them, shall instead of finding credit, perhaps be
censured for a flatterer. To avoid so usual a reproach, I declare this
to be no dedication, but properly an introduction to a proposal for the
advancement of religion and morals, by tracing, however imperfectly,
some few lineaments in the character of a Lady, who hath spent all her
life in the practice and promotion of both.

[Footnote 1: This is the same Countess of Berkeley whom Swift hoaxed
with his "Meditation on a Broomstick." She was the daughter of Viscount
Campden and sister to the Earl of Gainsborough. [T.S.]]

Among all the schemes offered to the public in this projecting age, I
have observed with some displeasure, that there have never been any for
the improvement of religion and morals; which beside the piety of the
design from the consequence of such a reformation in a future life,
would be the best natural means for advancing the public felicity of the
state, as well as the present happiness of every individual. For, as
much as faith and morality are declined among us, I am altogether
confident, they might in a short time, and with no very great trouble,
be raised to as high a perfection as numbers are capable of receiving.
Indeed, the method is so easy and obvious, and some present
opportunities so good, that, in order to have this project reduced to
practice, there seems to want nothing more than to put those in mind,
who by their honour, duty, and interest, are chiefly concerned.

But because it is idle to propose remedies before we are assured of the
disease, or to be in pain,[2] till we are convinced of the danger; I
shall first shew in general, that the nation is extremely corrupted in
religion and morals; and then I will offer a short scheme for the
reformation of both.

[Footnote 2: Scott follows Faulkner in using the word "fear." The
reading in the text is that of the first edition, the "Miscellanies"
(1711), and of Hawkesworth. [T.S.]]

As to the first; I know it is reckoned but a form of speech, when
divines complain of the wickedness of the age: However, I believe, upon
a fair comparison with other times and countries, it would be found an
undoubted truth.

For, first; to deliver nothing but plain matter of fact without
exaggeration or satire; I suppose it will be granted, that hardly one in
a hundred among our people of quality or gentry, appears to act by any
principle of religion; that great numbers of them do entirely discard
it, and are ready to own their disbelief of all revelation in ordinary
discourse. Nor is the case much better among the vulgar, especially in
great towns where the profaneness and ignorance of handicraftsmen, small
traders, servants, and the like, are to a degree very hard to be
imagined greater. Then, it is observed abroad, that no race of mortals
hath so little sense of religion, as the English soldiers; to confirm
which, I have been often told by great officers in the army, that in the
whole compass of their acquaintance, they could not recollect three of
their profession, who seemed to regard or believe one syllable of the
Gospel: And the same, at least, may be affirmed of the fleet. The
consequences of all which upon the actions of men are equally manifest.
They never go about, as in former time, to hide or palliate their vices,
but expose them freely to view, like any other common occurrences of
life, without the least reproach from the world, or themselves. For
instance; any man will tell you he intends to be drunk this evening, or
was so last night, with as little ceremony or scruple, as he would tell
you the time of the day. He will let you know he is going to a whore, or
that he has got a clap, with as much indifferency, as he would a piece
of public news. He will swear, curse, or blaspheme, without the least
passion or provocation. And, though all regard for reputation is not
quite laid aside in the other sex, 'tis, however, at so low an ebb, that
very few among them seem to think virtue and conduct of absolute
necessity for preserving it. If this be not so, how comes it to pass,
that women of tainted reputations find the same countenance and
reception in all public places, with those of the nicest virtue, who
pay, and receive visits from them without any manner of scruple? which
proceeding, as it is not very old among us, so I take it to be of most
pernicious consequence: It looks like a sort of compounding between
virtue and vice, as if a woman were allowed to be vicious, provided she
be not a profligate; as if there were a certain point, where gallantry
ends, and infamy begins, or that a hundred criminal amours were not as
pardonable as half a score.

Besides those corruptions already mentioned, it would be endless to
enumerate such as arise from the excess of play or gaming: The cheats,
the quarrels, the oaths and blasphemies among the men; among the women,
the neglect of household affairs, the unlimited freedoms, the indecent
passion; and lastly, the known inlet to all lewdness, when after an ill
run, the person must answer the defects of the purse; the rule on such
occasions holding true in play as it does in law; _quod non habet in
crumena, luat in corpore._

But all these are trifles in comparison, if we step into other scenes,
and consider the fraud and cozenage of trading men and shopkeepers; that
insatiable gulf of injustice and oppression, the law. The open traffic
for all civil and military employments, (I wish it rested there) without
the least regard to merit or qualifications; the corrupt management of
men in office; the many detestable abuses in choosing those who
represent the people, with the management of interest and factions among
the representatives. To which I must be bold to add, the ignorance of
some of the lower clergy; the mean servile temper of others; the pert
pragmatical demeanour of several young stagers in divinity, upon their
first producing themselves into the world; with many other
circumstances, needless, or rather invidious, to mention; which falling
in with the corruptions already related, have, however unjustly, almost
rendered the whole order contemptible.

This is a short view of the general depravities among us, without
entering into particulars, which would be an endless labour. Now, as
universal and deep-rooted as these appear to be, I am utterly deceived,
if an effectual remedy might not be applied to most of them; neither am
I at present upon a wild speculative project, but such a one as may be
easily put in execution.

For, while the prerogative of giving all employments continues in the
Crown, either immediately, or by subordination; it is in the power of
the Prince to make piety and virtue become the fashion of the age, if,
at the same time, he would make them necessary qualifications for favour
and preferment.

It is clear, from present experience, that the bare example of the best
prince will not have any mighty influence, where the age is very
corrupt. For, when was there ever a better prince on the throne than the
present Queen? I do not talk of her talent for government, her love of
the people, or any other qualities that are purely regal; but her piety,
charity, temperance, conjugal love, and whatever other virtues do best
adorn a private life; wherein, without question or flattery, she hath no
superior: yet, neither will it be satire or peevish invective to affirm,
that infidelity and vice are not much diminished since her coming to the
crown, nor will, in all probability, till some more effectual remedies
be provided.

Thus human nature seems to lie under this disadvantage, that the example
alone of a vicious prince, will, in time, corrupt an age; but that of a
good one, will not be sufficient to reform it, without further
endeavours. Princes must therefore supply this defect by a vigorous
exercise of that authority, which the law has left them, by making it
every man's interest and honour, to cultivate religion and virtue; by
rendering vice a disgrace, and the certain ruin to preferment or
pretensions: All which they should first attempt in their own courts and
families. For instance; might not the Queen's domestics of the middle
and lower sort, be obliged, upon penalty of suspension, or loss of their
employments, to a constant weekly attendance, at least, on the service
of the church; to a decent behaviour in it; to receive the Sacrament
four times in the year; to avoid swearing and irreligious profane
discourses; and, to the appearance, at least, of temperance and
chastity? Might not the care of all this be committed to the strict
inspection of proper persons? Might not those of higher rank, and nearer
access to her Majesty's person, receive her own commands to the same
purpose, and be countenanced, or disfavoured, according as they obey?
Might not the Queen lay her injunctions on the Bishops, and other great
men of undoubted piety, to make diligent enquiry, to give her notice, if
any person about her should happen to be of libertine principles or
morals? Might not all those who enter upon any office in her Majesty's
family, be obliged to take an oath parallel with that against simony,
which is administered to the clergy? 'Tis not to be doubted, but that if
these, or the like proceedings, were duly observed, morality and
religion would soon become fashionable court virtues; and be taken up as
the only methods to get or keep employments there, which alone would
have mighty influence upon many of the nobility and principal gentry.

But, if the like methods were pursued as far as possible, with regard to
those who are in the great employments of state, it is hard to conceive
how general a reformation they might in time produce among us. For, if
piety and virtue were once reckoned qualifications necessary to
preferment; every man thus endowed, when put into great stations, would
readily imitate the Queen's example, in the distribution of all offices
in his disposal; especially if any apparent transgression, through
favour or partiality, would be imputed to him for a misdemeanour, by
which he must certainly forfeit his favour and station: And there being
such great numbers in employment, scattered through every town and
county in this kingdom; if all these were exemplary in the conduct of
their lives, things would soon take a new face, and religion receive a
mighty encouragement: Nor would the public weal be less advanced; since,
of nine offices in ten that are ill executed, the defect is not in
capacity or understanding, but in common honesty. I know no employment,
for which piety disqualifies any man; and if it did, I doubt the
objection would not be very seasonably offered at present; because, it
is perhaps too just a reflection, that in the disposal of places, the
question whether a person be _fit_ for what he is recommended to, is
generally the last that is thought on, or regarded.

I have often imagined, that something parallel to the office of censors
anciently in Rome, would be of mighty use among us, and could be easily
limited from running into any exorbitances. The Romans understood
liberty at least as well as we, were as jealous of it, and upon every
occasion as bold assertors. Yet I do not remember to have read any great
complaint of the abuses in that office among them; but many admirable
effects of it are left upon record. There are several pernicious vices
frequent and notorious among us, that escape or elude the punishment of
any law we have yet invented, or have had no law at all against them;
such as atheism, drunkenness, fraud, avarice, and several others; which,
by this institution, wisely regulated, might be much reformed. Suppose,
for instance, that itinerary commissioners were appointed to inspect
everywhere throughout the kingdom, into the conduct (at least) of men in
office, with respect to their morals and religion, as well as their
abilities; to receive the complaints and informations that should be
offered against them, and make their report here upon oath, to the
court, or the ministry, who should reward or punish accordingly. I avoid
entering into the particulars of this, or any other scheme, which,
coming from a private hand, might be liable to many defects, but would
soon be digested by the wisdom of the nation; and surely, six thousand
pounds a year would not be ill laid out among as many commissioners duly
qualified, who, in three divisions, should be personally obliged to take
their yearly circuits for that purpose.

But this is beside my present design, which was only to show what degree
of reformation is in the power of the Queen, without the interposition
of the legislature, and which her Majesty is, without question, obliged
in conscience to endeavour by her authority, as much as she does by her

It will be easily granted, that the example of this great town hath a
mighty influence over the whole kingdom; and it is as manifest, that the
town is equally influenced by the court, and the ministry, and those
who, by their employments, or their hopes, depend upon them. Now, if
under so excellent a princess as the present Queen, we would suppose a
family strictly regulated, as I have above proposed; a ministry, where
every single person was of distinguished piety; if we should suppose all
great offices of state and law filled after the same manner, and with
such as were equally diligent in choosing persons, who, in their several
subordinations, would be obliged to follow the examples of their
superiors, under the penalty of loss of favour and place; will not
everybody grant, that the empire of vice and irreligion would be soon
destroyed in this great metropolis, and receive a terrible blow through
the whole island, which hath so great an intercourse with it, and so
much affects to follow its fashions?

For, if religion were once understood to be the necessary step to favour
and preferment; can it be imagined that any man would openly offend
against it, who had the least regard for his reputation or his fortune?
There is no quality so contrary to any nature, which men cannot affect,
and put on upon occasions, in order to serve an interest, or gratify a
prevailing passion. The proudest man will personate humility, the
morosest learn to flatter, the laziest will be sedulous and active,
where he is in pursuit of what he has much at heart. How ready,
therefore, would most men be to step into the paths of virtue and piety,
if they infallibly led to favour and fortune!

If swearing and profaneness, scandalous and avowed lewdness, excessive
gaming and intemperance, were a little discountenanced in the army, I
cannot readily see what ill consequences could be apprehended; if
gentlemen of that profession were at least obliged to some external
decorum in their conduct; or even if a profligate life and character
were not a means of advancement, and the appearance of piety a most
infallible hindrance, it is impossible the corruptions there should be
so universal and exorbitant. I have been assured by several great
officers, that no troops abroad are so ill disciplined as the English;
which cannot well be otherwise, while the common soldiers have
perpetually before their eyes the vicious example of their leaders; and
it is hardly possible for those to commit any crime, whereof these are
not infinitely more guilty, and with less temptation.

It is commonly charged upon the gentlemen of the army, that the beastly
vice of drinking to excess, hath been lately, from their example,
restored among us; which for some years before was almost dropped in
England. But, whoever the introducers were, they have succeeded to a
miracle; many of the young nobility and gentry are already become great
proficients, and are under no manner of concern to hide their talent,
but are got beyond all sense of shame or fear of reproach.

This might soon be remedied, if the Queen would think fit to declare,
that no young person of quality whatsoever, who was notoriously addicted
to that, or any other vice, should be capable of her favour, or even
admitted into her presence, with positive command to her ministers, and
others in great office, to treat them in the same manner; after which,
all men, who had any regard for their reputation, or any prospect of
preferment, would avoid their commerce. This would quickly make that
vice so scandalous, that those who could not subdue, would at least
endeavour to disguise it.

By the like methods, a stop might be put to that ruinous practice of
deep gaming; and the reason why it prevails so much is, because a
treatment, directly opposite in every point, is made use of to promote
it; by which means, the laws enacted against this abuse are wholly

It cannot be denied, that the want of strict discipline in the
universities, hath been of pernicious consequence to the youth of this
nation, who are there almost left entirely to their own management,
especially those among them of better quality and fortune; who, because
they are not under a necessity of making learning their maintenance, are
easily allowed to pass their time, and take their degrees, with little
or no improvement; than which there cannot well be a greater absurdity.
For, if no advancement of knowledge can be had from those places, the
time there spent is at best utterly lost, because every ornamental part
of education is better taught elsewhere: And as for keeping youths out
of harm's way, I doubt, where so many of them are got together, at full
liberty of doing what they please, it will not answer the end. But,
whatever abuses, corruptions, or deviations from statutes, have crept
into the universities through neglect, or length of time; they might in
a great degree be reformed, by strict injunctions from court (upon each
particular) to the visitors and heads of houses; besides the peculiar
authority the queen may have in several colleges, whereof her
predecessors were the founders. And among other regulations, it would be
very convenient to prevent the excess of drink, with that scurvy custom
among the lads, and parent of the former vice, the taking of tobacco,
where it is not absolutely necessary in point of health.

From the universities, the young nobility, and others of great fortunes,
are sent for early up to town, for fear of contracting any airs of
pedantry, by a college education. Many of the younger gentry retire to
the Inns of Court, where they are wholly left to their own discretion.
And the consequence of this remissness in education appears, by
observing that nine in ten of those, who rise in the church or the
court, the law, or the army, are younger brothers, or new men, whose
narrow fortunes have forced them upon industry and application.

As for the Inns of Court, unless we suppose them to be much degenerated,
they must needs be the worst instituted seminaries in any Christian
country; but whether they may be corrected without interposition of the
legislature, I have not skill enough to determine. However, it is
certain, that all wise nations have agreed in the necessity of a strict
education, which consisted, among other things, in the observance of
moral duties, especially justice, temperance, and chastity, as well as
the knowledge of arts, and bodily exercises: But all these among us are
laughed out of doors.

Without the least intention to offend the clergy, I cannot but think,
that through a mistaken notion and practice, they prevent themselves
from doing much service, which otherwise might lie in their power, to
religion and virtue: I mean, by affecting so much to converse with each
other, and caring so little to mingle with the laity. They have their
particular clubs, and particular coffee-houses, where they generally
appear in clusters: A single divine dares hardly shew his person among
numbers of fine gentlemen; or if he happens to fall into such company,
he is silent and suspicious, in continual apprehension that some pert
man of pleasure should break an unmannerly jest, and render him
ridiculous. Now, I take this behaviour of the clergy to be just as
reasonable, as if the physicians should agree to spend their time in
visiting one another, or their several apothecaries, and leave their
patients to shift for themselves. In my humble opinion, the clergy's
business lies entirely among the laity; neither is there, perhaps, a
more effectual way to forward the salvation of men's souls, than for
spiritual persons to make themselves as agreeable as they can, in the
conversations of the world; for which a learned education gives them
great advantage, if they would please to improve and apply it. It so
happens that the men of pleasure, who never go to church, nor use
themselves to read books of devotion, form their ideas of the clergy
from a few poor strollers they often observe in the streets, or sneaking
out of some person of quality's house, where they are hired by the lady
at ten shillings a month; while those of better figure and parts, do
seldom appear to correct these notions. And let some reasoners think
what they please, 'tis certain that men must be brought to esteem and
love the clergy, before they can be persuaded to be in love with
religion. No man values the best medicine, if administered by a
physician, whose person he hates or despises. If the clergy were as
forward to appear in all companies, as other gentlemen, and would a
little study the arts of conversation to make themselves agreeable, they
might be welcome at every party where there was the least regard for
politeness or good sense; and consequently prevent a thousand vicious or
profane discourses, as well as actions; neither would men of
understanding complain, that a clergyman was a constraint upon the
company, because they could not speak blasphemy, or obscene jests before
him. While the people are so jealous of the clergy's ambition, as to
abhor all thoughts of the return of ecclesiastic discipline among them,
I do not see any other method left for men of that function to take, in
order to reform the world, than by using all honest arts to make
themselves acceptable to the laity. This, no doubt, is part of that
wisdom of the serpent, which the Author of Christianity directs, and is
the very method used by St. Paul, who _became all things to all men, to
the Jews a Jew, and a Greek to the Greeks._

How to remedy these inconveniences, may be a matter of some difficulty;
since the clergy seem to be of an opinion, that this humour of
sequestering themselves is a part of their duty; nay, as I remember,
they have been told so by some of their bishops in their pastoral
letters, particularly by one[3] among them of great merit and
distinction, who yet, in his own practice, hath all his lifetime taken a
course directly contrary. But I am deceived, if an awkward shame and
fear of ill usage from the laity, have not a greater share in this
mistaken conduct, than their own inclinations: However, if the outward
profession of religion and virtue, were once in practice and countenance
at court, as well as among all men in office, or who have any hopes or
dependence for preferment, a good treatment of the clergy would be the
necessary consequence of such a reformation; and they would soon be wise
enough to see their own duty and interest in qualifying themselves for
lay-conversation, when once they were out of fear of being chocqued by
ribaldry or profaneness.

[Footnote 3: Bishop Burnet of Salisbury. See Swift's "Remarks on the
Bishop of Sarum's Introduction." [T.S.]]

There is one further circumstance upon this occasion, which I know not
whether it will be very orthodox to mention: The clergy are the only set
of men among us, who constantly wear a distinct habit from others; the
consequence of which (not in reason but in fact) is this, that as long
as any scandalous persons appear in that dress, it will continue in some
degree a general mark of contempt. Whoever happens to see a scoundrel in
a gown, reeling home at midnight, (a sight neither frequent nor
miraculous), is apt to entertain an ill idea of the whole order, and at
the same time to be extremely comforted in his own vices. Some remedy
might be put to this, if those straggling gentlemen, who come up to town
to seek their fortunes, were fairly dismissed to the West Indies, where
there is work enough, and where some better provision should be made for
them, than I doubt there is at present. Or, what if no person were
allowed to wear the habit, who had not some preferment in the church, or
at least some temporal fortune sufficient to keep him out of contempt?
Though, in my opinion, it were infinitely better, if all the clergy
(except the bishops) were permitted to appear like other men of the
graver sort, unless at those seasons when they are doing the business of
their function.

There is one abuse in this town, which wonderfully contributes to the
promotion of vice, that such men are often put into the commission of
the peace, whose interest it is, that virtue should be utterly banished
from among us, who maintain, or at least enrich themselves, by
encouraging the grossest immoralities, to whom all the bawds of the ward
pay contribution, for shelter and protection from the laws. Thus these
worthy magistrates, instead of lessening enormities, are the occasion of
just twice as much debauchery as there would be without them. For those
infamous women are forced upon doubling their work and industry, to
answer double charges, of paying the justice, and supporting themselves.
Like thieves who escape the gallows, and are let out to steal, in order
to discharge the gaoler's fees.

It is not to be questioned, but the Queen and ministry might easily
redress this abominable grievance, by enlarging the number of justices
of the peace, by endeavouring to choose men of virtuous principles, by
admitting none who have not considerable fortunes, perhaps, by receiving
into the number some of the most eminent clergy. Then, by forcing all of
them, upon severe penalties, to act when there is occasion, and not
permitting any who are offered to refuse the commission, but in these
two last cases, which are very material, I doubt there will be need of
the legislature.

The reformation of the stage is entirely in the power of the Queen, and
in the consequences it hath upon the minds of the younger people, does
very well deserve the strictest care. Besides the indecent and profane
passages, besides the perpetual turning into ridicule the very function
of the priesthood, with other irregularities, in most modern comedies,
which have by others been objected to them, it is worth observing the
distributive justice of the authors, which is constantly applied to the
punishment of virtue, and the reward of vice, directly opposite to the
rules of their best critics, as well as to the practice of dramatic
poets, in all other ages and countries. For example, a country squire,
who is represented with no other vice but that of being a clown, and
having the provincial accent upon his tongue, which is neither a fault,
nor in his power to remedy, must be condemned to marry a cast wench, or
a cracked chambermaid. On the other side, a rakehell of the town, whose
character is set off with no other accomplishment, but excessive
prodigality, profaneness, intemperance, and lust, is rewarded with a
lady of great fortune to repair his own, which his vices had almost
ruined. And as in a tragedy, the hero is represented to have obtained
many victories in order to raise his character in the minds of the
spectators; so the hero of a comedy is represented to have been
victorious in all his intrigues, for the same reason. I do not remember,
that our English poets ever suffered a criminal amour to succeed upon
the stage, till the reign of King Charles the Second. Ever since that
time, the alderman is made a cuckold, the deluded virgin is debauched,
and adultery and fornication are supposed to be committed behind the
scenes, as part of the action. These and many more corruptions of the
theatre, peculiar to our age and nation, need continue no longer, than
while the court is content to connive at or neglect them. Surely a
pension would not be ill employed on some men of wit, learning, and
virtue, who might have power to strike out every offensive or unbecoming
passage, from plays already written, as well as those that may be
offered to the stage for the future. By which, and other wise
regulations, the theatre might become a very innocent and useful
diversion, instead of being a scandal and reproach to our religion and

The proposals I have hitherto made for the advancement of religion and
morality, are such as come within reach of the administration; such as a
pious active prince, with a steady resolution, might soon bring to
effect. Neither am I aware of any objections to be raised against what I
have advanced; unless it should be thought, that making religion a
necessary step to interest and favour might increase hypocrisy among us;
and I readily believe it would. But if one in twenty should be brought
over to true piety by this, or the like methods, and the other nineteen
be only hypocrites, the advantage would still be great. Besides,
hypocrisy is much more eligible than open infidelity and vice; it wears
the livery of religion; it acknowledges her authority, and is cautious
of giving scandal. Nay, a long continued disguise is too great a
constraint upon human nature, especially an English disposition; men
would leave off their vices out of mere weariness, rather than undergo
the toil and hazard, and perhaps expense, of practising them perpetually
in private. And I believe it is often with religion, as it is with love;
which, by much dissembling, at last grows real.

All other projects to this great end have proved hitherto ineffectual.
Laws against immorality have not been executed; and proclamations
occasionally issued out to enforce them are wholly unregarded as things
of form. Religious societies, though begun with excellent intention, and
by persons of true piety,[4] have dwindled into factious clubs, and
grown a trade to enrich little knavish informers of the meanest rank,
such as common constables, and broken shopkeepers.

[Footnote 4: The original edition omits here the words, "are said, I
know not whether truly or not." All other editions give these words. [T.

And that some effectual attempt should be made toward such a
reformation, is perhaps more necessary than people commonly apprehend;
because the ruin of a state is generally preceded by a universal
degeneracy of manners, and contempt of religion; which is entirely our
case at present.

  "Dis te minorem quod geris imperas."--HOR. [5]

[Footnote 5: "Carmina," iii. 6. 5.]

Neither is this a matter to be deferred till a more convenient time of
peace and leisure: Because a reformation in men's faith and morals is
the best natural, as well as religious means, to bring the war to a good
conclusion. For, if men in trust performed their duty for conscience
sake, affairs would not suffer through fraud, falsehood, and neglect, as
they now perpetually do. And if they believed a God, and his Providence,
and acted accordingly, they might reasonably hope for his divine
assistance, in so just a cause as ours.

Nor could the majesty of the English Crown appear, upon any occasion, in
a greater lustre, either to foreigners or subjects, than by an
administration, which, producing such great effects, would discover so
much power. And power being the natural appetite of princes, a limited
monarch cannot so well gratify it in anything, as a strict execution of
the laws.

Besides; all parties would be obliged to close with so good a work as
this, for their own reputation: Neither is any expedient more likely to
unite them. For the most violent party men, I have ever observed, are
such, as in the conduct of their lives have discovered least sense of
religion or morality; and when all such are laid aside, at least those
among them as shall be found incorrigible, it will be a matter perhaps
of no great difficulty to reconcile the rest.

The many corruptions at present in every branch of business are almost
inconceivable. I have heard it computed by skilful persons, that of six
millions raised every year for the service of the public, one third, at
least, is sunk and intercepted through the several classes and
subordinations of artful men in office, before the remainder is applied
to the proper use. This is an accidental ill effect of our freedom. And
while such men are in trust, who have no check from within, nor any
views but toward their interest, there is no other fence against them,
but the certainty of being hanged upon the first discovery, by the
arbitrary will of an unlimited monarch, or his vizier. Among us, the
only danger to be apprehended is the loss of an employment; and that
danger is to be eluded a thousand ways. Besides, when fraud is great, it
furnishes weapons to defend itself: And at worst, if the crimes be so
flagrant, that a man is laid aside out of perfect shame, (which rarely
happens) he retires loaded with the spoils of the nation; _et fruitur
diis iratis_. I could name a commission, where several persons, out of a
salary of five hundred pounds, without other visible revenues, have
always lived at the rate of two thousand, and laid out forty or fifty
thousand upon purchases of lands or annuities. A hundred other instances
of the same kind might easily be produced. What remedy, therefore, can
be found against such grievances, in a constitution like ours, but to
bring religion into countenance, and encourage those, who, from the hope
of future reward, and dread of future punishment, will be moved to act
with justice and integrity?

This is not to be accomplished any other way, but by introducing
religion, as much as possible, to be the turn and fashion of the age;
which only lies in the power of the administration; the prince with
utmost strictness regulating the court, the ministry, and other persons
in great employment; and these, by their example and authority,
reforming all who have dependence on them.

It is certain, that a reformation successfully carried on in this great
town, would in time spread itself over the whole kingdom, since most of
the considerable youth pass here that season of their lives, wherein the
strongest impressions are made, in order to improve their education, or
advance their fortune, and those among them, who return into their
several counties, are sure to be followed and imitated, as the greatest
patterns of wit and good breeding.

And if things were once in this train, that is, if virtue and religion
were established as the necessary titles to reputation and preferment,
and if vice and infidelity were not only loaded with infamy, but made
the infallible ruin of all men's pretensions, our duty, by becoming our
interest, would take root in our natures, and mix with the very genius
of our people, so that it would not be easy for the example of one
wicked prince to bring us back to our former corruptions.

I have confined myself (as it is before observed) to those methods for
the advancement of piety, which are in the power of a prince, limited
like ours, by a strict execution of the laws already in force. And this
is enough for a project, that comes without any name or recommendation,
I doubt, a great deal more than will suddenly be reduced into practice.
Though, if any disposition should appear towards so good a work, it is
certain, that the assistance of the legislative power would be necessary
to make it more complete. I will instance only a few particulars.

In order to reform the vices of this town, which, as we have said, hath
so mighty an influence on the whole kingdom, it would be very
instrumental to have a law made, that all taverns and alehouses should
be obliged to dismiss their company at twelve at night, and shut up
their doors, and that no woman should be suffered to enter any tavern or
alehouse, upon any pretence whatsoever. It is easy to conceive what a
number of ill consequences such a law would prevent, the mischiefs of
quarrels, and lewdness, and thefts, and midnight brawls, the diseases of
intemperance and venery, and a thousand other evils needless to mention.
Nor would it be amiss, if the masters of those public-houses were
obliged, upon the severest penalties, to give only a proportioned
quantity of drink to every company, and when he found his guests
disordered with excess, to refuse them any more.

I believe there is hardly a nation in Christendom, where all kind of
fraud is practised in so immeasurable a degree as with us. The lawyer,
the tradesman, the mechanic, have found so many arts to deceive in their
several callings, that they far outgrow the common prudence of mankind,
which is in no sort able to fence against them. Neither could the
legislature in anything more consult the public good, than by providing
some effectual remedy against this evil, which, in several cases,
deserves greater punishment than many crimes that are capital among us.
The vintner, who, by mixing poison with his wines, destroys more lives
than any one disease in the bill of mortality; the lawyer, who persuades
you to a purchase which he knows is mortgaged for more than the worth,
to the ruin of you and your family; the goldsmith or scrivener, who
takes all your fortune to dispose of, when he has beforehand resolved to
break the following day, do surely deserve the gallows much better than
the wretch who is carried thither for stealing a horse.

It cannot easily be answered to God or man, why a law is not made for
limiting the press; at least so far as to prevent the publishing of such
pernicious books, as, under pretence of freethinking, endeavour to
overthrow those tenets in religion which have been held inviolable,
almost in all ages, by every sect that pretend to be Christian; and
cannot, therefore, with any colour of reason, be called points in
controversy, or matters of speculation, as some would pretend. The
Doctrine of the Trinity, the Divinity of Christ, the Immortality of the
Soul, and even the truth of all revelation, are daily exploded and
denied in books openly printed; though it is to be supposed neither
party will avow such principles, or own the supporting of them to be any
way necessary to their service.[6]

[Footnote 6: This passage refers to the deistical publications of
Asgill, Toland, Tindal, and Collins, already noted. [T. S.]]

It would be endless to set down every corruption or defect which
requires a remedy from the legislative power. Senates are like to have
little regard for any proposals that come from without doors; though,
under a due sense of my own inabilities, I am fully convinced, that the
unbiassed thoughts of an honest and wise man, employed on the good of
his country, may be better digested than the results of a multitude,
where faction and interest too often prevail; as a single guide may
direct the way better than five hundred, who have _contrary views_, or
_look asquint_, or _shut their eyes_.

I shall therefore mention but one more particular, which I think the
Parliament ought to take under consideration; whether it be not a shame
to our country, and a scandal to Christianity, that in many towns, where
there is a prodigious increase in the number of houses and inhabitants,
so little care should be taken for the building of churches, that five
parts in six of the people are absolutely hindered from hearing divine
service? Particularly here in London, where a single minister, with one
or two sorry curates, hath the care sometimes of above twenty thousand
souls incumbent on him. A neglect of religion so ignominious, in my
opinion, that it can hardly be equalled in any civilized age or

[Footnote 7: This paragraph is known to have given the first hint to
certain bishops, particularly to Bishop Atterbury, to procure a fund for
building fifty new churches in London. [T. S.]]

But, to leave these airy imaginations of introducing new laws for the
amendment of mankind; what I principally insist on is, a due execution
of the old, which lies wholly in the crown, and in the authority derived
from thence. I return, therefore, to my former assertion; that if
stations of power, trust, profit, and honour, were constantly made the
rewards of virtue and piety, such an administration must needs have a
mighty influence on the faith and morals of the whole kingdom: And men
of great abilities would then endeavour to excel in the duties of a
religious life, in order to qualify themselves for public service. I may
possibly be wrong in some of the means I prescribe towards this end; but
that is no material objection against the design itself. Let those who
are at the helm contrive it better, which, perhaps, they may easily do.
Everybody will agree that the disease is manifest, as well as dangerous;
that some remedy is necessary, and that none yet applied hath been
effectual, which is a sufficient excuse for any man who wishes well to
his country, to offer his thoughts, when he can have no other end in
view but the public good. The present Queen is a princess of as many and
great virtues as ever filled a throne: How would it brighten her
character to the present and after ages, if she would exert her utmost
authority to instil some share of those virtues into her people, which
they are too degenerate to learn only from her example! And, be it spoke
with all the veneration possible for so excellent a sovereign, her best
endeavours in this weighty affair are a most important part of her duty,
as well as of her interest and her honour.

But, it must be confessed, that as things are now, every man thinks that
he has laid in a sufficient stock of merit, and may pretend to any
employment, provided he has been loud and frequent in declaring himself
hearty for the government. 'Tis true, he is a man of pleasure, and a
freethinker, that is, in other words, he is profligate in his morals,
and a despiser of religion; but in point of party, he is one to be
confided in; he is an assertor of liberty and property; he rattles it
out against Popery and Arbitrary Power, and Priestcraft and High Church.
'Tis enough: He is a person fully qualified for any employment, in the
court or the navy, the law or the revenue; where he will be sure to
leave no arts untried, of bribery, fraud, injustice, oppression, that he
can practise with any hope of impunity. No wonder such men are true to a
government where liberty runs high, where property, however attained, is
so well secured, and where the administration is at least so gentle:
'Tis impossible they could choose any other constitution, without
changing to their loss.

Fidelity to a present establishment is indeed the principal means to
defend it from a foreign enemy, but without other qualifications, will
not prevent corruptions from within; and states are more often ruined by
these than the other.

To conclude. Whether the proposals I have offered toward a reformation,
be such as are most prudent and convenient, may probably be a question;
but it is none at all, whether some reformation be absolutely necessary;
because the nature of things is such, that if abuses be not remedied,
they will certainly increase, nor ever stop, till they end in the
subversion of a commonwealth. As there must always of necessity be some
corruptions, so, in a well-instituted state, the executive power will be
always contending against them, by _reducing things_ (as Michiaevel
speaks) _to their first principles_; never letting abuses grow
inveterate, or multiply so far, that it will be hard to find remedies,
and perhaps impossible to apply them. As he that would keep his house in
repair, must attend every little breach or flaw, and supply it
immediately; else time alone will bring all to ruin; how much more the
common accidents of storms and rain? He must live in perpetual danger of
his house falling about his ears; and will find it cheaper to throw it
quite down, and build it again from the ground, perhaps upon a new
foundation, or at least in a new form, which may neither be so safe, nor
so convenient, as the old.

*****       *****       *****       *****








The writing of this tract, as has been already observed, placed Swift in
a position where allegiance to party was not easy to maintain. It
amounted to a warning to Whigs as well as Tories. To the former he urged
that the Church of England was wide enough for the highest principles of
civil liberty; to the latter he tried to show that to be a religious and
God-fearing man it was not absolutely necessary to be a Tory in
politics. "Whoever has examined the conduct and proceedings of both
parties for some years past, whether in or out of power, cannot well
conceive it possible to go far towards the extremes of either, without
offering some violence to his integrity or understanding." It is true
that Whiggism and "fanatical genius" were almost synonymous terms for
Swift; but that was because the Church was of prime consideration with
him, and the Whigs numbered in their ranks the great army of Dissent.
Swift, in his famous letter to Pope, dated Dublin, January 10th,
1720-21, reviews his political opinions of 1708 to justify himself
against the misrepresentations of "the virulence of libellers: whose
malice has taken the same train in both, by fathering dangerous
principles in government upon me, which I never maintained, and insipid
productions, which I am not capable of writing." That review is but a
summary of what is given fully in this tract. No appeal was ever better
intentioned. "I only wish," he says to Pope, "my endeavours had
succeeded better in the great point I had at heart, which was that of
reconciling the ministers to each other." But High Church and Low Church
were cries which had divided politicians as if they did not belong to
one nation. To Swift it was easy enough to be a staunch Churchman and at
the same time expose the fallacies underlying the faith in the sovereign
power; but then Swift was here no party fanatic who would use the
"Church in danger" cry for party purposes. "If others," he writes twelve
years later, "who had more concern and more influence, would have acted
their parts," his appeal had not been made in vain. As it was it failed
in its intended purpose, and Swift lost what hold he had on Somers,
Godolphin, and the rest. It remains, however, to testify to Swift's
principles in a manner least expected by those who have set him down as
intemperate and inconsistent. Certainly, no principles were ever more
moderately expressed; and, assuredly, no expression of principles found
fitter realization in conduct.

The text of this edition is based on that given in the "Miscellanies" of
1711. I have not succeeded in obtaining a copy of the original issue;
but I have collated the various texts given in the re-issues by
Faulkner, Hawkesworth, Scott, and the "Miscellanies" of 1728 (vol. i.)
and 1747 (vol. i.).

[T. S.]


Whosoever hath examined the conduct and proceedings of both parties for
some years past, whether in or out of power, cannot well conceive it
possible to go far towards the extremes of either, without offering some
violence to his integrity or understanding. A wise and a good man may
indeed be sometimes induced to comply with a number whose opinion he
generally approves, though it be perhaps against his own. But this
liberty should be made use of upon very few occasions, and those of
small importance, and then only with a view of bringing over his own
side another time to something of greater and more public moment. But to
sacrifice the innocency of a friend, the good of our country, or our own
conscience to the humour, or passion, or interest of a party, plainly
shews that either our heads or our hearts are not as they should be: Yet
this very practice is the fundamental law of each faction among us, as
may be obvious to any who will impartially, and without engagement, be
at the pains to examine their actions, which however is not so easy a
task: For it seems a principle in human nature, to incline one way more
than another, even in matters where we are wholly unconcerned. And it is
a common observation, that in reading a history of facts done a thousand
years ago, or standing by at play among those who are perfect strangers
to us, we are apt to find our hopes and wishes engaged on a sudden in
favour of one side more than another. No wonder then, we are all so
ready to interest ourselves in the course of public affairs, where the
most inconsiderable have some _real_ share, and by the wonderful
importance which every man is of to himself, a very great _imaginary_

And indeed, when the two parties that divide the whole commonwealth,
come once to a rupture, without any hopes left of forming a third with
better principles, to balance the others; it seems every man's duty to
choose a side,[1] though he cannot entirely approve of either; and all
pretences to neutrality are justly exploded by both, being too stale and
obvious, only intending the safety and ease of a few individuals while
the public is embroiled. This was the opinion and practice of the latter
Cato, whom I esteem to have been the wisest and best of all the Romans.
But before things proceed to open violence, the truest service a private
man may hope to do his country, is, by unbiassing his mind as much as
possible, and then endeavouring to moderate between the rival powers;
which must needs be owned a fair proceeding with the world, because it
is of all others the least consistent with the common design, of making
a fortune by the merit of an opinion.

[Footnote 1: Faulkner and Scott have "one of the two sides." [T. S.]]

I have gone as far as I am able in qualifying myself to be such a
moderator: I believe I am no bigot in religion, and I am sure I am none
in government. I converse in full freedom with many considerable men of
both parties, and if not in equal number, it is purely accidental and
personal, as happening to be near the court, and to have made
acquaintance there, more under one ministry than another. Then, I am not
under the necessity of declaring myself by the prospect of an
employment. And lastly, if all this be not sufficient, I industriously
conceal my name, which wholly exempts me from any hopes and fears in
delivering my opinion.

In consequence of this free use of my reason, I cannot possibly think so
well or so ill of either party, as they would endeavour to persuade the
world of each other, and of themselves. For instance; I do not charge it
upon the body of the Whigs or the Tories, that their several principles
lead them to introduce Presbytery, and the religion of the Church of
Rome, or a commonwealth and arbitrary power. For, why should any party
be accused of a principle which they solemnly disown and protest
against? But, to this they have a mutual answer ready; they both assure
us, that their adversaries are not to be believed, that they disown
their principles out of fear, which are manifest enough when we examine
their practices. To prove this, they will produce instances, on one
side, either of avowed Presbyterians, or persons of libertine and
atheistical tenets, and on the other, of professed Papists, or such as
are openly in the interest of the abdicated family. Now, it is very
natural for all subordinate sects and denominations in a state, to side
with some general party, and to choose that which they find to agree
with themselves in some general principle. Thus at the restoration, the
Presbyterians, Anabaptists, Independents, and other sects, did all with
very good reason unite and solder up their several schemes to join
against the Church, who without regard to their distinctions, treated
them all as equal adversaries. Thus, our present dissenters do very
naturally close in with the Whigs, who profess moderation, declare they
abhor all thoughts of persecution, and think it hard that those who
differ only in a few ceremonies and speculations, should be denied the
privilege and profit of serving their country in the highest employments
of state. Thus, the atheists, libertines, despisers of religion and
revelation in general, that is to say, all those who usually pass under
the name of freethinkers, do properly join with the same body; because
they likewise preach up moderation, and are not so overnice to
distinguish between an unlimited liberty of conscience, and an unlimited
freedom of opinion. Then on the other side, the professed firmness of
the Tories for Episcopacy as an apostolical institution: Their aversion
to those sects who lie under the reproach of having once destroyed their
constitution, and who they imagine, by too indiscreet a zeal for
reformation have defaced the primitive model of the Church: Next, their
veneration for monarchical government in the common course of
succession, and their hatred to republican schemes: These, I say, are
principles which not only the nonjuring zealots profess, but even
Papists themselves fall readily in with. And every extreme here
mentioned flings a general scandal upon the whole body it pretends to
adhere to.

But surely no man whatsoever ought in justice or good manners to be
charged with principles he actually disowns, unless his practices do
openly and without the least room for doubt contradict his profession:
Not upon small surmises, or because he has the misfortune to have ill
men sometimes agree with him in a few general sentiments. However,
though the extremes of Whig and Tory seem with little justice to have
drawn religion into their controversies, wherein they have small
concern; yet they both have borrowed one leading principle from the
abuse of it; which is, to have built their several systems of political
faith, not upon enquiries after truth, but upon opposition to each
other, upon injurious appellations, charging their adversaries with
horrid opinions, and then reproaching them for the want of charity; _et
neuter falso_.

In order to remove these prejudices, I have thought nothing could be
more effectual than to describe the sentiments of a Church of England
man with respect to religion and government. This I shall endeavour to
do in such a manner as may not be liable to least objection from either
party, and which I am confident would be assented to by great numbers in
both, if they were not misled to those mutual misrepresentations, by
such motives as they would be ashamed to own.

I shall begin with religion.

And here, though it makes an odd sound, yet it is necessary to say, that
whoever professes himself a member of the Church of England, ought to
believe a God and his providence, together with revealed religion, and
the divinity of Christ. For beside those many thousands, who (to speak
in the phrase of divines) do practically deny all this by the immorality
of their lives; there is no small number, who in their conversation and
writings directly or by consequence endeavour to overthrow it; yet all
these place themselves in the list of the National Church, though at the
same time (as it is highly reasonable) they are great sticklers for
liberty of conscience.

To enter upon particulars: A Church of England man hath a true
veneration for the scheme established among us of ecclesiastic
government; and though he will not determine whether Episcopacy be of
divine right, he is sure it is most agreeable to primitive institution,
fittest of all others for preserving order and purity, and under its
present regulations best calculated for our civil state: He should
therefore think the abolishment of that order among us would prove a
mighty scandal and corruption to our faith, and manifestly dangerous to
our monarchy; nay, he would defend it by arms against all the powers on
earth, except our own legislature; in which case he would submit as to a
general calamity, a dearth, or a pestilence.

As to rites and ceremonies, and forms of prayer; he allows there might
be some useful alterations, and more, which in the prospect of uniting
Christians might be very supportable, as things declared in their own
nature indifferent; to which he therefore would readily comply, if the
clergy, or, (though this be not so fair a method) if the legislature
should direct: Yet at the same time he cannot altogether blame the
former for their unwillingness to consent to any alteration; which
beside the trouble, and perhaps disgrace, would certainly never produce
the good effects intended by it. The only condition that could make it
prudent and just for the clergy to comply in altering the ceremonial or
any other indifferent part, would be, a firm resolution in the
legislature to interpose by some strict and effectual laws to prevent
the rising and spreading of new sects how plausible soever, for the
future; else there must never be an end: And it would be to act like a
man who should pull down and change the ornaments of his house, in
compliance to every one who was disposed to find fault as he passed by,
which besides the perpetual trouble and expense, would very much damage,
and perhaps in time destroy the building. Sects in a state seem only
tolerated with any reason because they are already spread; and because
it would not be agreeable with so mild a government, or so pure a
religion as ours, to use violent methods against great numbers of
mistaken people, while they do not manifestly endanger the constitution
of either. But the greatest advocates for general liberty of conscience,
will allow that they ought to be checked in their beginnings, if they
will allow them to be an evil at all, or which is the same thing, if
they will only grant, it were better for the peace of the state, that
there should be none. But while the clergy consider the natural temper
of mankind in general, or of our own country in particular, what
assurances can they have, that any compliances they shall make, will
remove the evil of dissension, while the liberty still continues of
professing whatever new opinion we please? Or how can it be imagined
that the body of dissenting teachers, who must be all undone by such a
revolution, will not cast about for some new objections to withhold
their flocks, and draw in fresh proselytes by some further innovations
or refinements?

Upon these reasons he is for tolerating such different forms in
religious worship as are already admitted, but by no means for leaving
it in the power of those who are tolerated, to advance their own models
upon the ruin of what is already established, which it is natural for
all sects to desire, and which they cannot justify by any consistent
principles if they do not endeavour; and yet, which they cannot succeed
in without the utmost danger to the public peace.

To prevent these inconveniences, he thinks it highly just, that all
rewards of trust, profit, or dignity, which the state leaves in the
disposal of the administration, should be given only to those whose
principles direct them to preserve the constitution in all its parts. In
the late affair of Occasional Conformity, the general argument of those
who were against it, was not, to deny it an evil in itself, but that the
remedy proposed was violent, untimely, and improper, which is the Bishop
of Salisbury's opinion in the speech he made and published against the
bill: But, however just their fears or complaints might have been upon
that score, he thinks it a little too gross and precipitate to employ
their writers already in arguments for repealing the sacramental test,
upon no wiser a maxim, than that no man should on the account of
conscience be deprived the liberty of serving his country; a topic which
may be equally applied to admit Papists, Atheists, Mahometans, Heathens,
and Jews. If the Church wants members of its own to employ in the
service of the public; or be so unhappily contrived as to exclude from
its communion such persons who are likeliest to have great abilities, it
is time it should be altered and reduced into some more perfect, or at
least more popular form: But in the meanwhile, it is not altogether
improbable, that when those who dislike the constitution, are so very
zealous in their offers for the service of their country, they are not
wholly unmindful of their party or of themselves.

The Dutch whose practice is so often quoted to prove and celebrate the
great advantages of a general liberty of conscience, have yet a national
religion professed by all who bear office among them: But why should
they be a precedent for us either in religion or government? Our country
differs from theirs, as well in situation, soil, and productions of
nature, as in the genius and complexion of inhabitants. They are a
commonwealth founded on a sudden by a desperate attempt in a desperate
condition, not formed or digested into a regular system by mature
thought and reason, but huddled up under the pressure of sudden
exigencies; calculated for no long duration, and hitherto subsisting by
accident in the midst of contending powers, who cannot yet agree about
sharing it among them. These difficulties do indeed preserve them from
any great corruptions, which their crazy constitution would extremely
subject them to in a long peace. That confluence of people in a
persecuting age, to a place of refuge nearest at hand, put them upon the
necessity of trade, to which they wisely gave all ease and
encouragement: And if we could think fit to imitate them in this last
particular, there would need no more to invite foreigners among us; who
seem to think no further than how to secure their property and
conscience, without projecting any share in that government which gives
them protection, or calling it persecution if it be denied them. But I
speak it for the honour of our administration, that although our sects
are not so numerous as those in Holland, which I presume is not our
fault, and I hope is not our misfortune, we much excel them and all
Christendom besides in our indulgence to tender consciences.[2] One
single compliance with the national form of receiving the sacrament, is
all we require to qualify any sectary among us for the greatest
employments in the state, after which he is at liberty to rejoin his own
assemblies for the rest of his life. Besides, I will suppose any of the
numerous sects in Holland, to have so far prevailed as to have raised a
civil war, destroyed their government and religion, and put their
administrators to death; after which I will suppose the people to have
recovered all again, and to have settled on their old foundation. Then I
would put a query, whether that sect which was the unhappy instrument of
all this confusion, could reasonably expect to be entrusted for the
future with the greatest employments, or indeed to be hardly tolerated
among them?

[Footnote 2: When this was written there was no law against Occasional
Conformity. [Faulkner, 1735.]]

To go on with the sentiments of a Church of England man: He does not see
how that mighty passion for the Church which some men pretend, can well
consist with those indignities and that contempt they bestow on the
persons of the clergy.[3] Tis a strange mark whereby to distinguish High
Churchmen, that they are such who imagine the clergy can never be too
low. He thinks the maxim these gentlemen are so fond of, that they are
for an humble clergy, is a very good one; and so is he, and for an
humble laity too, since humility is a virtue that perhaps equally
benefits and adorns every station of life.

[Footnote 3: "I observed very well with what insolence and haughtiness
some lords of the High-Church party treated, not only their own
chaplains, but all other clergy whatsoever, and thought this was
sufficiently recompensed by their professions of zeal to the church."]

But then, if the scribblers on the other side freely speak the
sentiments of their party, a divine of the Church of England cannot look
for much better quarter thence. You shall observe nothing more frequent
in their weekly papers than a way of affecting to confound the terms of
Clergy and High Church, of applying both indifferently, and then loading
the latter with all the calumny they can invent. They will tell you they
honour a clergyman; but talk, at the same time, as if there were not
three in the kingdom, who could fall in with their definition.[4] After
the like manner they insult the universities, as poisoned fountains, and
corrupters of youth.

[Footnote 4: "I had likewise observed how the Whig lords took a direct
contrary measure, treated the persons of particular clergymen with great
courtesy, but shewed much ill-will and contempt for the order in

Now, it seems clear to me, that the Whigs might easily have procured and
maintained a majority among the clergy, and perhaps in the universities,
if they had not too much encouraged or connived at this intemperance of
speech and virulence of pen, in the worst and most prostitute of their
party; among whom there has been for some years past such a perpetual
clamour against the ambition, the implacable temper, and the
covetousness of the priesthood: Such a cant of High Church, and
persecution, and being priest-ridden; so many reproaches about narrow
principles, or terms of communion: Then such scandalous reflections on
the universities, for infecting the youth of the nation with arbitrary
and Jacobite principles, that it was natural for those, who had the care
of religion and education, to apprehend some general design of altering
the constitution of both. And all this was the more extraordinary,
because it could not easily be forgot, that whatever opposition was made
to the usurpations of King James, proceeded altogether from the Church
of England, and chiefly from the clergy, and one of the universities.
For, if it were of any use to recall matters of fact, what is more
notorious than that prince's applying himself first to the Church of
England? And upon their refusal to fall in with his measures, making the
like advances to the dissenters of all kinds, who readily and almost
universally complied with him, affecting in their numerous addresses and
pamphlets, the style of Our Brethren the Roman Catholics, whose
interests they put on the same foot with their own: And some of
Cromwell's officers took posts in the army raised against the Prince of
Orange.[5] These proceedings of theirs they can only extenuate by urging
the provocations they had met from the Church in King Charles's reign,
which though perhaps excusable upon the score of human infirmity, are
not by any means a plea of merit equal to the constancy and sufferings
of the bishops and clergy, or of the head and fellows of Magdalen
College, that furnished the Prince of Orange's declaration with such
powerful arguments to justify and promote the Revolution.

[Footnote 5: De Foe's "History of Addresses" contains some humbling
instances of the applause with which the sectaries hailed their old
enemy, James II., when they saw him engaged in hostility with the
established Church. [T. S.]]

Therefore a Church of England man abhors the humour of the age in
delighting to fling scandals upon the clergy in general; which besides
the disgrace to the Reformation, and to religion itself, casts an
ignominy upon the kingdom that it does not deserve. We have no better
materials to compound the priesthood of, than the mass of mankind, which
corrupted as it is, those who receive orders must have some vices to
leave behind them when they enter into the Church, and if a few do still
adhere, it is no wonder, but rather a great one that they are no worse.
Therefore he cannot think ambition, or love of power more justly laid to
their charge than to other men, because, that would be to make religion
itself, or at least the best constitution of Church-government,
answerable for the errors and depravity of human nature.

Within these last two hundred years all sorts of temporal power have
been wrested from the clergy, and much of their ecclesiastic, the reason
or justice of which proceeding I shall not examine; but, that the
remedies were a little too violent with respect to their possessions,
the legislature hath lately confessed by the remission of their First
Fruits.[6] Neither do the common libellers deny this, who in their
invectives only tax the Church with an insatiable desire of power and
wealth (equally common to all bodies of men as well as individuals) but
thank God, that the laws have deprived them of both. However, it is
worth observing the justice of parties: The sects among us are apt to
complain, and think it hard usage to be reproached now after fifty years
for overturning the state, for the murder of a king, and the indignity
of a usurpation; yet these very men and their partisans, are continually
reproaching the clergy, and laying to their charge the pride, the
avarice, the luxury, the ignorance, and superstition, of Popish times
for a thousand years past.

[Footnote 6: The first fruits were the first year's income of
ecclesiastical benefices. In the middle ages they were taken by the Pope
as a right; but were handed over to the English crown in 1534. Anne in
1703 gave them back to the Church by letters patent, an act confirmed by
Parliament in 1704. The "Bounty" of Queen Anne, however, did not extend
to Ireland; and one of Swift's missions in London was to obtain this
remission of the first fruits for the Irish clergy also. [T. S.]]

He thinks it a scandal to government that such an unlimited liberty
should be allowed of publishing books against those doctrines in
religion, wherein all Christians have agreed, much more to connive at
such tracts as reject all revelation, and by their consequences often
deny the very being of a God. Surely 'tis not a sufficient atonement for
the writers, that they profess much loyalty to the present government,
and sprinkle up and down some arguments in favour of the dissenters;
that they dispute as strenuously as they can for liberty of conscience,
and inveigh largely against all ecclesiastics, under the name of High
Church; and, in short, under the shelter of some popular principles in
politics and religion, undermine the foundations of all piety and

As he doth not reckon every schism of that damnable nature which some
would represent, so he is very far from closing with the new opinion of
those who would make it no crime at all, and argue at a wild rate, that
God Almighty is delighted with the variety of faith and worship, as He
is with the varieties of nature. To such absurdities are men carried by
the affectation of freethinking, and removing the prejudices of
education, under which head they have for some time begun to list
morality and religion. It is certain that before the rebellion in 1642,
though the number of Puritans (as they were then called) was as great as
it is with us, and though they affected to follow pastors of that
denomination, yet those pastors had episcopal ordination, possessed
preferments in the Church, and were sometimes promoted to bishoprics
themselves.[7] But, a breach in the general form of worship was in those
days reckoned so dangerous and sinful in itself, and so offensive to
Roman Catholics at home and abroad, and that it was too unpopular to be
attempted; neither, I believe, was the expedient then found out of
maintaining separate pastors out of private purses.

[Footnote 7: In the reign of Elizabeth, and even in that of James, the
Puritans were not, properly speaking, Dissenters; but, on the contrary,
formed a sort of Low Church party in the national establishment.
Archbishop Abbot himself has been considered as a Puritan. [T. S.]]

When a schism is once spread in a nation, there grows at length a
dispute which are the schismatics. Without entering on the arguments,
used by both sides among us, to fix the guilt on each other; 'tis
certain, that, in the sense of the law, the schism lies on that side
which opposes itself to the religion of the state. I leave it among the
divines to dilate upon the danger of schism, as a spiritual evil, but I
would consider it only as a temporal one. And I think it clear that any
great separation from the established worship, though to a new one that
is more pure and perfect, may be an occasion of endangering the public
peace, because it will compose a body always in reserve, prepared to
follow any discontented heads upon the plausible pretext of advancing
true religion, and opposing error, superstition, or idolatry. For this
reason Plato lays it down as a maxim, that, _men ought to worship the
gods according to the laws of the country_, and he introduces Socrates
in his last discourse utterly disowning the crime laid to his charge, of
teaching new divinities or methods of worship. Thus the poor Huguenots
of France were engaged in a civil war, by the specious pretences of
some, who under the guise of religion sacrificed so many thousand lives
to their own ambition and revenge. Thus was the whole body of Puritans
in England drawn to be instruments, or abettors of all manner of
villainy, by the artifices of a few men whose[8] designs from the first
were levelled to destroy the constitution both of religion and
government. And thus, even in Holland itself, where it is pretended that
the variety of sects live so amicably together, and in such perfect
obedience to the magistrate, it is notorious how a turbulent party
joining with the Arminians, did in the memory of our fathers attempt to
destroy the liberty of that republic. So that upon the whole, where
sects are tolerated in a state, 'tis fit they should enjoy a full
liberty of conscience, and every other privilege of freeborn subjects to
which no power is annexed. And to preserve their obedience upon all
emergencies, a government cannot give them too much ease, nor trust them
with too little power.

[Footnote 8: Lord Clarendon's History; but see also Gardiner's "History
of England." [T. S.]]

The clergy are usually charged with a persecuting spirit, which they are
said to discover by an implacable hatred to all dissenters; and this
appears to be more unreasonable, because they suffer less in their
interests by a toleration than any of the conforming laity: For while
the Church remains in its present form, no dissenter can possibly have
any share in its dignities, revenues, or power; whereas, by once
receiving the sacrament, he is rendered capable of the highest
employments in the state. And it is very possible, that a narrow
education, together with a mixture of human infirmity, may help to beget
among some of the clergy in possession such an aversion and contempt for
all innovators, as physicians are apt to have for empirics, or lawyers
for pettifoggers, or merchants for pedlars: But since the number of
sectaries doth not concern the clergy either in point of interest or
conscience, (it being an evil not in their power to remedy) 'tis more
fair and reasonable to suppose their dislike proceeds from the dangers
they apprehend to the peace of the commonwealth, in the ruin whereof
they must expect to be the first and greatest sufferers.

To conclude this section, it must be observed, there is a very good
word, which hath of late suffered much by both parties, and that is,
MODERATION, which the one side very justly disowns, and the other as
unjustly pretends to. Beside what passeth every day in conversation; any
man who reads the papers published by Mr. Lesley[9] and others of his
stamp, must needs conclude, that if this author could make the nation
see his adversaries under the colours he paints them in, we have nothing
else to do, but rise as one man and destroy such wretches from the face
of the earth. On the other side, how shall we excuse the advocates for
moderation? among whom, I could appeal to a hundred papers of universal
approbation by the cause they were writ for, which lay such principles
to the whole body of the Tories, as, if they were true, and believed;
our next business should in prudence be, to erect gibbets in every
parish, and hang them out of the way. But I suppose it is presumed, the
common people understand raillery, or at least, rhetoric, and will not
take hyperboles in too literal a sense; which however in some junctures
might prove a desperate experiment.

[Footnote 9: This was Charles Leslie, the second son of the Bishop of
Clogher (1650-1722). He was educated for the bar, but forsook that, and
entered into holy orders. In his zeal for the established Church he
persecuted the Catholics; but this did not interfere with his adhesion
to Jacobite political principles. He settled in London, and wrote a
weekly paper called "The Rehearsal, or a Review of the Times," in which
he attacked Locke and Hoadly. He did all he could for the cause of the
exiled James, but he gave up the work when he found it hopeless, and
died in Ireland. He wrote many virulent theological works, as well as a
host of political tracts. [T. S.]]

And this is moderation in the modern sense of the word, to which,
speaking impartially, the bigots of both parties are equally entitled.


_The Sentiments of a Church of England Man with respect to Government_.

We look upon it as a very just reproach, though we cannot agree where to
fix it, that there should be so much violence and hatred in religious
matters, among men who agree in all fundamentals, and only differ in
some ceremonies, or at most mere speculative points. Yet is not this
frequently the case between contending parties in a state? For instance:
Do not the generality of Whigs and Tories among us, profess to agree in
the same fundamentals, their loyalty to the Queen, their abjuration of
the Pretender, the settlement of the crown in the protestant line, and a
revolution principle? Their affection to the Church established, with
toleration of dissenters? Nay sometimes they go further, and pass over
into each other's principles; the Whigs become great assertors of the
prerogative, and the Tories of the people's liberty; these crying down
almost the whole set of bishops, and those defending them; so that the
differences fairly stated, would be much of a sort with those in
religion among us, and amount to little more than, _who should take
place_ or _go in and out first_, or _kiss the Queen's hand_; and what
are these but a few court ceremonies? Or, _who should be in the
ministry_? And what is that to the body of the nation, but a mere
speculative point? Yet I think it must be allowed, that no religious
sects ever carried their aversions for each other to greater heights
than our state-parties have done, who the more to inflame their passions
have mixed religious and civil animosities together; borrowing one of
their appellations from the Church, with the addition of High and Low,
how little soever their disputes relate to the term as it is generally

I now proceed to deliver the sentiments of a Church of England man with
respect to government.

He doth not think the Church of England so narrowly calculated, that it
cannot fall in with any regular species of government; nor does he think
any one regular species of government more acceptable to God than
another. The three generally received in the schools have all of them
their several perfections, and are subject to their several
depravations. However, few states are ruined by any defect in their
institution, but generally by the corruption of manners, against which
the best institution is no long security, and without which a very ill
one may subsist and flourish: Whereof there are two pregnant instances
now in Europe. The first is the aristocracy of Venice, which founded
upon the wisest maxims, and digested by a great length of time, hath in
our age admitted so many abuses through the degeneracy of the nobles,
that the period of its duration seems to approach. The other is the
united republics of the States-general, where a vein of temperance,
industry, parsimony, and a public spirit, running through the whole body
of the people, hath preserved an infant commonwealth of an untimely
birth and sickly constitution, for above an hundred years, through so
many dangers and difficulties, as a much more healthy one could never
have struggled against, without those advantages.

Where security of person and property are preserved by laws which none
but the Whole can repeal, there the great ends of government are
provided for whether the administration be in the hands of One, or of
Many. Where any one person or body of men, who do not represent the
Whole, seize into their hands the power in the last resort, there is
properly no longer a government, but what Aristotle and his followers
call the abuse and corruption of one. This distinction excludes
arbitrary power in whatever numbers; which notwithstanding all that
Hobbes, Filmer[10] and others have said to its advantage, I look upon as
a greater evil than anarchy itself; as much as a savage is in a happier
state of life than a slave at the oar.

[Footnote 10: Hobbes, Thomas (1588-1679), the English philosopher, and
author of "De Cive" (1642), "Treatise on Human Nature" (1650), "De
Corpore Politico" (1650), "Leviathan" (1651), and other works. Swift is
here combating Hobbes's advocacy for a sovereign power, as vested in a
single person.

Filmer, Sir Robert (died 1647), author of "The Anarchy of a limited and
mixed Monarchy," "Patriarcha," and "The Freeholder's Grand Inquest." In
the "Patriarcha" Filmer attempted to prove that absolute government by a
monarch was a patriarchal institution. Locke replied to this work in his
"Two Treatises on Government." [T.S.]]

It is reckoned ill manners, as well as unreasonable, for men to quarrel
upon difference in opinion; because that is usually supposed to be a
thing which no man can help in himself; which however I do not conceive
to be an universal infallible maxim, except in those cases where the
question is pretty equally disputed among the learned and the wise;
where it is otherwise, a man of tolerable reason, small experience, and
willing to be instructed, may apprehend he is got into a wrong opinion,
though the whole course of his mind and inclination would persuade him
to believe it true: He may be convinced that he is in error though he
does not see where it lies, by the bad effects of it in the common
conduct of his life, and by observing those persons for whose wisdom and
goodness he has the greatest deference, to be of a contrary sentiment.
According to Hobbes's comparison of reasoning with casting up accounts,
whoever finds a mistake in the sum total, must allow himself out,
though, after repeated trials he may not see in which article he has
misreckoned. I will instance in one opinion, which I look upon every man
obliged in conscience to quit, or in prudence to conceal; I mean, that
whoever argues in defence of absolute power in a single person, though
he offers the old plausible plea, that, _it is his opinion, which he
cannot help unless he be convinced_, ought, in all free states to be
treated as the common enemy of mankind. Yet this is laid as a heavy
charge upon the clergy of the two reigns before the Revolution, who
under the terms of Passive Obedience and Non-Resistance are said to have
preached up the unlimited power of the prince, because they found it a
doctrine that pleased the Court, and made way for their preferment. And
I believe there may be truth enough in this accusation, to convince us,
that human frailty will too often interpose itself among persons of the
holiest function. However, it may be offered in excuse for the clergy,
that in the best societies there are some ill members, which a corrupted
court and ministry will industriously find out and introduce. Besides,
it is manifest that the greater number of those who held and preached
this doctrine, were misguided by equivocal terms, and by perfect
ignorance in the principles of government, which they had not made any
part of their study. The question originally put, and as I remember to
have heard it disputed in public schools, was this; _whether under any
pretence whatsoever it may be lawful to resist the supreme magistrate?_
which was held in the negative; and this is certainly the right opinion.
But many of the clergy, and other learned men, deceived by dubious
expression, mistook the object to which passive obedience was due. By
the supreme magistrate is properly understood the legislative power,
which in all government must be absolute and unlimited. But the word
magistrate seeming to denote a single person, and to express the
executive power, it came to pass, that the obedience due to the
legislature was for want of knowing or considering this easy
distinction, misapplied to the administration. Neither is it any wonder,
that the clergy or other well-meaning people should fall into this
error, which deceived Hobbes himself so far, as to be the foundation of
all the political mistakes in his book, where he perpetually confounds
the executive with the legislative power, though all well-instituted
states have ever placed them in different hands, as may be obvious to
those who know anything of Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and other republics
of Greece, as well as the greater ones of Carthage and Rome.

Besides, it is to be considered that when these doctrines began to be
preached among us, the kingdom had not quite worn out the memory of that
unhappy rebellion, under the consequences of which it had groaned almost
twenty years. And a weak prince in conjunction with a succession of most
prostitute ministers, began again to dispose the people to new attempts,
which it was, no doubt, the clergy's duty to endeavour to prevent, if
some of them had not for want of knowledge in temporal affairs, and
others perhaps from a worse principle, proceeded upon a topic that
strictly followed would enslave all mankind.

Among other theological arguments made use of in those times, in praise
of monarchy, and justification of absolute obedience to a prince, there
seemed to be one of a singular nature: It was urged that Heaven was
governed by a monarch, who had none to control his power, but was
absolutely obeyed: Then it followed, that earthly governments were the
more perfect, the nearer they imitated the government in Heaven. All
which I look upon as the strongest argument against despotic power that
ever was offered; since no reason can possibly be assigned why it is
best for the world that God Almighty hath such a power, which doth not
directly prove that no mortal man should ever have the like.

But though a Church of England man thinks every species of government
equally lawful, he does not think them equally expedient; or for every
country indifferently. There may be something in the climate, naturally
disposing men toward one sort of obedience, as is manifest all over
Asia, where we never read of any commonwealth, except some small ones on
the western coasts established by the Greeks. There may be a great deal
in the situation of a country, and in the present genius of the people.
It hath been observed, that the temperate climates usually run into
moderate governments, and the extremes into despotic power. 'Tis a
remark of Hobbes, that the youth of England are corrupted in their
principles of government, by reading the authors of Greece and Rome who
writ under commonwealths. But it might have been more fairly offered for
the honour of liberty, that while the rest of the known world was
overrun with the arbitrary government of single persons; arts and
sciences took their rise, and flourished only in those few small
territories were the people were free. And though learning may continue
after liberty is lost, as it did in Rome, for a while, upon the
foundations laid under the commonwealth, and the particular patronage of
some emperors; yet it hardly ever began under a tyranny in any nation:
Because slavery is of all things the greatest clog and obstacle to
speculation. And indeed, arbitrary power is but the first natural step
from anarchy or the savage life; the adjusting of power and freedom
being an effect and consequence of maturer thinking: And this is nowhere
so duly regulated as in a limited monarchy: Because I believe it may
pass for a maxim in state, that the administration cannot be placed in
too few hands, nor the legislature in too many. Now in this material
point, the constitution of the English government far exceeds all others
at this time on the earth, to which the present establishment of the
Church doth so happily agree, that I think, whoever is an enemy to
either, must of necessity be so to both.

He thinks, as our monarchy is constituted, a hereditary right is much to
be preferred before election. Because the government here, especially by
some late amendments, is so regularly disposed in all its parts, that it
almost executes itself. And therefore upon the death of a prince among
us, the administration goes on without any rub or interruption. For the
same reasons we have little to apprehend from the weakness or fury of
our monarchs, who have such wise councils to guide the first, and laws
to restrain the other. And therefore this hereditary right should be
kept so sacred, as never to break the succession, unless where the
preserving of it may endanger the constitution; which is not from any
intrinsic merit, or unalienable right in a particular family, but to
avoid the consequences that usually attend the ambition of competitors,
to which elective kingdoms are exposed; and which is the only obstacle
to hinder them from arriving at the greatest perfection that government
can possibly reach. Hence appears the absurdity of that distinction
between a king _de facto_, and one _de jure_, with respect to us. For
every limited monarch is a king _de jure_, because he governs by the
consent of the whole, which is authority sufficient to abolish all
precedent right. If a king come in by conquest, he is no longer a
limited monarch, if he afterward consent to limitations, he becomes
immediately king _de jure_ for the same reason.

The great advocates for succession, who affirm it ought not to be
violated upon any regard or consideration whatsoever, do insist much
upon one argument that seems to carry little weight. They would have it,
that a crown is a prince's birthright, and ought at least to be as well
secured to him and his posterity as the inheritance of any private man:
In short, that he has the same title to his kingdom which every
individual has to his property. Now the consequence of this doctrine
must be, that as a man may find several ways to waste, misspend, or
abuse his patrimony, without being answerable to the laws; so a king may
in like manner do what he will with his own, that is, he may squander
and misapply his revenues, and even alienate the crown, without being
called to an account by his subjects. They allow such a prince to be
guilty indeed of much folly and wickedness, but for those he is to
answer to God, as every private man must do that is guilty of
mismanagement in his own concerns. Now the folly of this reasoning will
best appear, by applying it in a parallel case. Should any man argue,
that a physician is supposed to understand his own art best; that the
law protects and encourages his profession; and therefore although he
should manifestly prescribe poison to all his patients, whereof they
should immediately die, he cannot be justly punished, but is answerable
only to God: Or should the same be offered in behalf of a divine, who
would preach against religion and moral duties; in either of these two
cases everybody would find out the sophistry, and presently answer, that
although common men are not exactly skilled in the composition or
application of medicines, or in prescribing the limits of duty; yet the
difference between poisons and remedies is easily known by their
effects, and common reason soon distinguishes between virtue and vice:
And it must be necessary to forbid both these the further practice of
their professions, because their crimes are not purely personal to the
physician or the divine, but destructive to the public. All which is
infinitely stronger in respect to a prince, with whose good or ill
conduct the happiness or misery of a whole nation is included; whereas
it is of small consequence to the public, farther than examples, how any
private person manages his property.

But granting that the right of a lineal successor to a crown were upon
the same foot with the property of a subject, still It may at any time
be transferred by the legislative power, as other properties frequently
are. The supreme power in a state can do no wrong, because whatever that
doth, is the action of all; and when the lawyers apply this maxim to the
king, they must understand it only in that sense as he is administrator
of the supreme power, otherwise it is not universally true, but may be
controlled in several instances easy to produce.

And these are the topics we must proceed upon to justify our exclusion
of the young Pretender in France; that of his suspected birth being
merely popular, and therefore not made use of as I remember, since the
Revolution in any speech, vote, or proclamation where there was occasion
to mention him.

As to the abdication of King James, which the advocates on that side
look upon to have been forcible and unjust, and consequently void in
itself, I think a man may observe every article of the English Church,
without being in much pain about it. 'Tis not unlikely that all doors
were laid open for his departure, and perhaps not without the privity of
the Prince of Orange, as reasonably concluding that the kingdom might be
settled in his absence: But to affirm he had any cause to apprehend the
same treatment with his father, is an improbable scandal flung upon the
nation by a few bigotted French scribblers, or the invidious assertion
of a ruined party at home, in the bitterness of their souls: Not one
material circumstance agreeing with those in 1648; and the greatest part
of the nation having preserved the utmost horror for that ignominious
murder: But whether his removal were caused by his own fears or other
men's artifices, 'tis manifest to me, that supposing the throne to be
vacant, which was the foot they went upon, the body of the people were
thereupon left at liberty, to choose what form of government they
pleased, by themselves or their representatives.

The only difficulty of any weight against the proceedings at the
Revolution, is an obvious objection, to which the writers upon that
subject have not yet given a direct or sufficient answer, as if they
were in pain at some consequences which they apprehend those of the
contrary opinion might draw from it, I will repeat this objection as it
was offered me some time ago, with all its advantages, by a very pious,
learned, and worthy gentleman[11] of the nonjuring party.

[Footnote 11: Mr. Nelson, author of "The Feasts and Fasts of the Church
of England."]

The force of his argument turned upon this; that the laws made by the
supreme power, cannot otherwise than by the supreme power be annulled:
That this consisting in England of a King, Lords, and Commons, whereof
each have a negative voice, no two of them can repeal or enact a law
without consent of the third; much less may any one of them be entirely
excluded from its part of the legislature by a vote of the other two.
That all these maxims were openly violated at the Revolution; where an
assembly of the nobles and people, not summoned by the king's writ
(which was an essential part of the constitution) and consequently no
lawful meeting, did merely upon their own authority, declare the king to
have abdicated, the throne vacant, and gave the crown by a vote to a
nephew, when there were three children to inherit; though by the
fundamental laws of the realm the next heir is immediately to succeed.
Neither does it appear how a prince's abdication can make any other sort
of vacancy in the throne, than would be caused by his death, since he
cannot abdicate for his children (who claim their right of succession by
act of parliament) otherwise than by his own consent in form to a bill
from the two houses.

And this is the difficulty that seems chiefly to stick with the most
reasonable of those, who from a mere scruple of conscience refuse to
join with us upon the revolution principle; but for the rest, are I
believe as far from loving arbitrary government, as any others can be,
who are born under a free constitution, and are allowed to have the
least share of common good sense.

In this objection there are two questions included: First, whether upon
the foot of our constitution, as it stood in the reign of the late King
James, a king of England may be deposed? The second is, whether the
people of England convened by their own authority, after the king had
withdrawn himself in the manner he did, had power to alter the

As for the first; it is a point I shall not presume to determine, and
shall therefore only say, that to any man who holds the negative, I
would demand the liberty of putting the case as strongly as I please. I
will suppose a prince limited by laws like ours, yet running into a
thousand caprices of cruelty like Nero or Caligula. I will suppose him
to murder his mother and his wife, to commit incest, to ravish matrons,
to blow up the senate, and burn his metropolis, openly to renounce God
and Christ, and worship the devil. These and the like exorbitances are
in the power of a single person to commit without the advice of a
ministry, or assistance of an army. And if such a king as I have
described, cannot be deposed but by his own consent in parliament, I do
not well see how he can be resisted, or what can be meant by a limited
monarchy; or what signifies the people's consent in making and repealing
laws, if the person who administers hath no tie but conscience, and is
answerable to none but God. I desire no stronger proof that an opinion
must be false, than to find very great absurdities annexed to it; and
there cannot be greater than in the present case: For it is not a bare
speculation that kings may run into such enormities as are
above-mentioned; the practice may be proved by examples not only drawn
from the first Caesars or later emperors, but many modern princes of
Europe; such as Peter the Cruel, Philip the Second of Spain, John
Basilovitz[12] of Muscovy, and in our own nation, King John, Richard the
Third, and Henry the Eighth. But there cannot be equal absurdities
supposed in maintaining the contrary opinion; because it is certain,
that princes have it in their power to keep a majority on their side, by
any tolerable administration; till provoked by continual oppressions, no
man indeed can then answer where the madness of the people will stop.

[Footnote 12: Peter the Cruel is Pedro of Castile. Ivan Basilovitz was
the first emperor of Russia who assumed the title of Czar. He was born
in 1529, and died in 1584.]

As to the second part of the objection; whether the people of England
convened by their own authority, upon King James's precipitate
departure, had power to alter the succession?

In answer to this, I think it is manifest from the practice of the
wisest nations, and who seem to have had the truest notions of freedom,
that when a prince was laid aside for mal-administration, the nobles and
people, if they thought it necessary for the public weal, did resume the
administration of the supreme power (the power itself having been always
in them) and did not only alter the succession, but often the very form
of government too; because they believed there was no natural right in
one man to govern another, but that all was by institution, force, or
consent. Thus, the cities of Greece, when they drove out their
tyrannical kings, either chose others from a new family, or abolished
the kingly government, and became free states. Thus the Romans upon the
expulsion of Tarquin found it inconvenient for them to be subject any
longer to the pride, the lust, the cruelty and arbitrary will of single
persons, and therefore by general consent entirely altered the whole
frame of their government. Nor do I find the proceedings of either, in
this point, to have been condemned by any historian of the succeeding

But a great deal hath been already said by other writers upon this
invidious and beaten subject; therefore I shall let it fall, though the
point is commonly mistaken, especially by the lawyers; who of all others
seem least to understand the nature of government in general; like
under-workmen, who are expert enough at making a single wheel in a
clock, but are utterly ignorant how to adjust the several parts, or
regulate the movements.

To return therefore from this digression: It is a Church of England
man's opinion, that the freedom of a nation consists in an absolute
unlimited legislative power, wherein the whole body of the people are
fairly represented, and in an executive duly limited; because on this
side likewise there may be dangerous degrees, and a very ill extreme.
For when two parties in a state are pretty equal in power, pretensions,
merit, and virtue, (for these two last are with relation to parties and
a court, quite different things) it hath been the opinion of the best
writers upon government, that a prince ought not in any sort to be under
the guidance or influence of either, because he declines by this means
from his office of presiding over the whole, to be the head of a party;
which besides the indignity, renders him answerable for all public
mismanagements and the consequences of them; and in whatever state this
happens, there must either be a weakness in the prince or ministry, or
else the former is too much restrained by the legislature.[1]

[Footnote 1: This is as given in the "Miscellanies" (1711). Scott and
Faulkner print "by the nobles, or those who represent the people." [T.

To conclude: A Church of England man may with prudence and a good
conscience approve the professed principles of one party more than the
other, according as he thinks they best promote the good of Church and
State; but he will never be swayed by passion or interest, to advance an
opinion merely because it is that of the party he most approves; which
one single principle he looks upon as the root of all our civil
animosities. To enter into a party as into an order of friars with so
resigned an obedience to superiors, is very unsuitable both with the
civil and religious liberties we so zealously assert. Thus the
understandings of a whole senate are often enslaved by three or four
leaders on each side; who instead of intending the public weal, have
their hearts wholly set upon ways and means how to get or to keep
employments. But to speak more at large, how has this spirit of faction
mingled itself with the mass of the people, changed their nature and
manners, and the very genius of the nation; broke all the laws of
charity, neighbourhood, alliance and hospitality; destroyed all ties of
friendship, and divided families against themselves! And no wonder it
should be so, when in order to find out the character of a person,
instead of inquiring whether he be a man of virtue, honour, piety, wit,
good sense, or learning; the modern question is only, whether he be a
Whig or a Tory, under which terms all good and ill qualities are

Now, because it is a point of difficulty to choose an exact middle
between two ill extremes, it may be worth enquiring in the present case,
which of these, a wise and good man would rather seem to avoid: Taking
therefore their own good and ill characters with due abatements and
allowances for partiality and passion; I should think that in order to
preserve the constitution entire in Church and State, whoever has a true
value for both, would be sure to avoid the extremes of Whig for the sake
of the former, and the extremes of Tory on account of the latter.

I have now said all that I could think convenient upon so nice a
subject, and find I have the ambition common with other reasoners, to
wish at least that both parties may think me in the right, which would
be of some use to those who have any virtue left, but are blindly drawn
into the extravagancies of either, upon false representations, to serve
the ambition or malice of designing men, without any prospect of their
own. But if that is not to be hoped for, my next wish should be, that
both might think me in the wrong; which I would understand as an ample
justification of myself, and a sure ground to believe, that I have
proceeded at least with impartiality, and perhaps with truth.

*****       *****       *****       *****








Dr. Matthew Tindal, of whom a short account has already been given (see
note, p. 9), issued his "Rights of the Christian Church" in 1706. In
1707 it had already gone through three editions. The full title of the
work is: "The Rights of the Christian Church asserted, against the
Romish and all other Priests, who claim an independent Power over it:
with a Preface concerning the Government of the Church of England, as by
law established." Ostensibly the book was an attack on the Roman
Catholic Church, but the attack was so cleverly veiled that it included
in its criticisms the Church of England also; and must take its place
among the works of the deistical writers of the time who aimed at
subverting the foundations of the relationships between the Church and
the State. According to Dr. Hicks, who wrote several works in reply to
Tindal's book, Tindal told a gentleman, who found him at work on it,
that "he was writing a book which would make the clergy mad." If so, he
did not fall short of his intention; for not only the clergy, but even
learned laymen became "mad." In addition to Dr. Hicks of Oxford, the
Church of England found champions in Dr. William Wotton, Samuel Hill,
Conyers-Place, Mr. Oldisworth, and Swift. Swift delayed the preparation
of the materials for his reply, or else he found other matters to occupy
his time--the Sacheverel business came on soon after, and the Tindal
controversy lost interest in this more immediate and more important
affair. So that Swift's criticism remained unfinished, and was only
published when his editors came to search among his papers. In 1710
Tindal's work was ordered, by a vote of the House of Commons, to be
publicly burned by the hangman. The grand jury of Middlesex were
presented that the author, printer, and publisher of "The Rights of the
Christian Church" to be dangerous and disaffected persons, and promoters
of sedition and profaneness; and this charge was grounded on the
following extracts. I take these from Scott's note, and I find that the
page references are to the second edition of Tindal's work issued in

"The church is a private society, and no more power belonging to it than
to other private companies and clubs, and, consequently, all the right
anyone has to be an ecclesiastical officer, and the power he is
entrusted with, depends on the consent of the parties concerned, and is
no greater than they can bestow." Preface, p. xxx.

"The Scriptures nowhere make the receiving the Lord's Supper from the
hands of a priest necessary." p. 104.

"The remembrance of Christ's sufferings a mere grace-cup delivered to be
handed about." p. 105.

"Among Christians, one no more than another can be reckoned a priest
from Scripture"--"And the clerk has as good a title to the priesthood as
the parson ... Every one, as well as the minister, rightly consecrateth
the elements to himself ... Anything farther than this, may rather be
called Conjuration than Consecration." p. 108.

"The absurdities of bishops being by divine appointment, governors of
the Christian Church, and no others are capable of being of that number,
who derive not their right by an uninterrupted succession of bishops in
the Catholic Church." p. 313.

"The supreme powers had no way to escape the heavier oppressions, and
more insupportable usurpations of their own clergy, than by submitting
to the Pope's milder yoke and gentler authority." p. 255.

"One grand cause of mistake is, not considering when God acts as
governor of the universe, and when as prince of a particular nation. The
Jews, when they came out of the land of bondage, were under no settled
government, till God was pleased to offer himself to be their king, to
which all the people expressly consented ... God's laws bound no nation,
except those that agreed to the Horeb contract." p. 151.

"Not only an independent power of excommunication, but of ordination in
the clergy, is inconsistent with the magistrate's right to protect the
commonwealth." p. 87.

"Priests, no better than spiritual make-baits, baraters, boute-feux, and
incendiaries, and who make churches serve to worse purposes than bear
gardens." p. 118.

"It is a grand mistake to suppose the magistrate's power extends to
indifferent things ... Men have liberty as they please, and a right ...
to form what clubs, companies, or meetings, they think fit, either for
business or pleasure, which the magistrate ... cannot hinder, without
manifest injustice." p. 15.

"God ... interposed not among the Jews, until they had chosen him for
their king." p. 312.

For a full account of Tindal and his work, see the "Memoirs of the Life
and Writings of Matthew Tindal, with a History of the Controversies
wherein he was engaged," published in 1733. The text of the present
reprint of Swift's "Remarks" is based on that given in "Works," vol.
vii. of the 4to edition of 1764. It has also been collated with the 8vo
edition of same date (vol. xiii.) and with that of 1762 (vol. xiii.).

[T. S.]

  CHURCH, &c."

Before I enter upon a particular examination of this treatise, it will
be convenient to do two things:

_First_, To give some account of the author, together with the motives,
that might probably engage him in such a work. And,

_Secondly_, to discover the nature and tendency in general, of the work

The first of these, although it hath been objected against, seems highly
reasonable, especially in books that instil pernicious principles. For,
although a book is not intrinsically much better or worse, according to
the stature or complexion of the author, yet, when it happens to make a
noise, we are apt, and curious, as in other noises, to look about from
whence it cometh. But however, there is something more in the matter.

If a theological subject be well handled by a layman, it is better
received than if it came from a divine; and that for reasons obvious
enough, which, although of little weight in themselves, will ever have a
great deal with mankind.

But, when books are written with ill intentions, to advance dangerous
opinions, or destroy foundations; it may be then of real use to know
from what quarter they come, and go a good way towards their
confutation. For instance, if any man should write a book against the
lawfulness of punishing felony with death; and, upon enquiry, the author
should be found in Newgate under condemnation for robbing a house; his
arguments would not very unjustly lose much of their force, from the
circumstances he lay under. So, when Milton writ his book of divorces,
it was presently rejected as an occasional treatise; because every body
knew, he had a shrew for his wife. Neither can there be any reason
imagined, why he might not, after he was blind, have writ another upon
the danger and inconvenience of eyes. But, it is a piece of logic which
will hardly pass on the world; that because one man hath a sore nose,
therefore all the town should put plasters upon theirs. So, if this
treatise about the rights of the church should prove to be the work of a
man steady in his principles, of exact morals, and profound learning, a
true lover of his country, and a hater of Christianity, as what he
really believes to be a cheat upon mankind, whom he would undeceive
purely for their good; it might be apt to check unwary men, even of good
dispositions towards religion. But if it be found the production of a
man soured with age and misfortunes, together with the consciousness of
past miscarriages; of one, who, in hopes of preferment, was reconciled
to the Popish religion;[1] of one wholly prostitute in life and
principles, and only an enemy to religion, because it condemns them: In
this case, and this last I find is the universal opinion, he is like to
have few proselytes, beside those, who, from a sense of their vicious
lives, require to be perpetually supplied by such amusements as this;
which serve to flatter their wishes, and debase their understandings.

[Footnote 1: Dr. Matthew Tindal became a convert to the Romish religion
during the reign of James II. What share interest had in his conversion
may be easily imagined; but it is uncertain whether it was the
disappointment of his expectations, or conviction, that, in 1687,
induced him to reconcile himself to the Church of England, and become a
decided favourer of those doctrines which produced the Revolution. He
often sat as a judge in the Court of Delegates, but did not practise
much as an advocate in Doctor's Commons. His chief means of support was
a pension from government of £200. Tindal died in 1733, three years
after publication of his grand deistical work, "Christianity as Old as
the Creation." His effects, amounting to £2,000 and upwards, were
appropriated by the noted Eustace Budgell, to the prejudice of the heir
at law, under a will attended with circumstances of great suspicion. [T.

I know there are some who would fain have it, that this discourse was
written by a club of freethinkers, among whom the supposed author only
came in for a share. But, sure, we cannot judge so meanly of any party,
without affronting the dignity of mankind. If this be so, and if here be
the product of all their quotas and contributions, we must needs allow,
that freethinking is a most confined and limited talent. It is true
indeed, the whole discourse seemeth to be a motley, inconsistent
composition, made up of various shreds of equal fineness, although of
different colours. It is a bundle of incoherent maxims and assertions,
that frequently destroy one another. But still there is the same
flatness of thought and style; the same weak advances towards wit and
raillery; the same petulancy and pertness of spirit; the same train of
superficial reading; the same thread of threadbare quotations: the same
affectation of forming general rules upon false and scanty premises.
And, lastly, the same rapid venom sprinkled over the whole; which, like
the dying impotent bite of a trodden benumbed snake, may be nauseous and
offensive, but cannot be very dangerous.

And, indeed, I am so far from thinking this libel to be born of several
fathers, that it hath been the wonder of several others, as well as
myself; how it was possible for any man, who appeareth to have gone the
common circle of academical education;[2] who hath taken so universal a
liberty, and hath so entirely laid aside all regards, not only of
Christianity, but common truth and justice; one who is dead to all sense
of shame, and seemeth to be past the getting or losing a reputation,
should, with so many advantages, and upon so unlimited a subject, come
out with so poor, so jejune a production. Should we pity or be amazed at
so perverse a talent, which, instead of qualifying an author to give a
new turn to old matter, disposeth him quite contrary to talk in an old
beaten trivial manner upon topics wholly new. To make so many sallies
into pedantry without a call, upon a subject the most alien, and in the
very moments he is declaiming against it, and in an age too, where it is
so violently exploded, especially among those readers he proposeth to

[Footnote 2: See note, p. 9, where it will be seen that Tindal was an
Oxford man. [T.S.]]

I know it will be said, that this is only to talk in the common style of
an answerer; but I have not so little policy. If there were any hope of
reputation or merit from such victory, I should be apt like others to
cry up the courage and conduct of an enemy. Whereas to detect the
weakness, the malice, the sophistry, the falsehood, the ignorance of
such a writer, requireth little more than to rank his perfections in
such an order, and place them in such a light, that the commonest reader
may form a judgment of them.

It may still be a wonder how so heavy a book, written upon a subject in
appearance so little instructive or diverting, should survive to three
editions, and consequently find a better reception than is usual with
such bulky spiritless volumes; and this, in an age that pretendeth so
soon to be nauseated with what is tedious and dull. To which I can only
return, that, as burning a book by the common hangman, is a known
expedient to make it sell; so, to write a book that deserveth such
treatment, is another: And a third, perhaps as effectual as either, is
to ply an insipid, worthless tract with grave and learned answers, as
Dr. Hickes, Dr. Potter,[3] and Mr. Wotton have done. Design and
performances, however commendable, have glanced a reputation upon the
piece; which oweth its life to the strength of those hands and weapons,
that were raised to destroy it; like flinging a mountain upon a worm,
which, instead of being bruised, by the advantage of its littleness,
lodgeth under it unhurt.

[Footnote 3: George Hickes, D.D. (1642-1715), born at Newsham, Yorks,
and educated at Oxford. He visited Scotland with his patron, the Duke of
Lauderdale, in 1677, and was presented by the St. Andrews University
with the degree of LL.D. Became Dean of Worcester in 1683, but lost that
office at the Revolution, for not taking the oaths. The nonjuring
prelates, in 1693, consecrated him Bishop of Thetford. Dr. Hickes was a
profound scholar, and well versed in northern literature. Among his
works may be named, "Institutiones Grammaticae Anglo-Saxonicae et
Maeso-Gothicae," "Antiquae Literaturae Septentrionalis Thesaurus."

John Potter, D.D. (1674-1747), born at Wakefield, and educated at
Oxford. In 1707 he published a "Discourse on Church Government," and
eight years later became Bishop of Oxford. On the death of Wake, in
1737, he was appointed to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. [T.S.]]

But neither is this all. For the subject, as unpromising as it seemeth
at first view, is no less than that of Lucretius, to free men's minds
from the bondage of religion; and this not by little hints and by
piecemeal, after the manner of those little atheistical tracts that
steal into the world, but in a thorough wholesale manner; by making
religion, church, Christianity, with all their concomitants, a perfect
contrivance of the civil power. It is an imputation often charged on
this sort of men, that, by their invectives against religion, they can
possibly propose no other end than that of fortifying themselves and
others against the reproaches of a vicious life; it being necessary for
men of libertine practices to embrace libertine principles, or else they
cannot act in consistence with any reason, or preserve any peace of
mind. Whether such authors have this design, (whereof I think they have
never gone about to acquit themselves) thus much is certain; that no
other use is made of such writings: Neither did I ever hear this
author's book justified by any person, either Whig or Tory, except such
who are of that profligate character. And, I believe, whoever examineth
it, will be of the same opinion; although indeed such wretches are so
numerous, that it seemeth rather surprising, why the book hath had no
more editions, than why it should have so many.

Having thus endeavoured to satisfy the curious with some account of this
author's character, let us examine what might probably be the motives to
engage him in such a work. I shall say nothing of the principal, which
is a sum of money; because that is not a mark to distinguish him from
any other trader with the press. I will say nothing of revenge and
malice, from resentment of the indignities and contempt he hath
undergone for his crime of apostasy. To this passion he has thought fit
to sacrifice order, propriety, discretion, and common sense, as may be
seen in every page of his book: But, I am deceived, if there were not a
third motive as powerful as the other two; and that is, vanity. About
the latter end of King James's reign he had almost finished a learned
discourse in defence of the Church of Rome, and to justify his
conversion: All which, upon the Revolution, was quite out of season.
Having thus prostituted his reputation, and at once ruined his hopes, he
had no course left, but to shew his spite against religion in general;
the false pretensions to which, had proved so destructive to his credit
and fortune: And, at the same time, loth to employ the speculations of
so many years to no purpose; by an easy turn, the same arguments he had
made use of to advance Popery, were full as properly levelled by him
against Christianity itself; like the image, which, while it was new and
handsome, was worshipped for a saint, and when it came to be old and
broken, was still good enough to make a tolerable devil. And, therefore
every reader will observe, that the arguments for Popery are much the
strongest of any in his book, as I shall further remark when I find them
in my way.

There is one circumstance in his title-page, which I take to be not
amiss, where he calleth his book, "Part the First." This is a project to
fright away answerers, and make the poor advocates for religion believe,
he still keepeth further vengeance in _petto_. It must be allowed, he
hath not wholly lost time, while he was of the Romish communion. This
very trick he learned from his old father, the Pope; whose custom it is
to lift up his hand, and threaten to fulminate, when he never meant to
shoot his bolts; because the princes of Christendom had learned the
secret to avoid or despise them. Dr. Hickes knew this very well, and
therefore, in his answer to this "Book of Rights," where a second part
is threatened, like a rash person he desperately crieth, "Let it come."
But I, who have not too much phlegm to provoke angry wits of his
standard, must tell the author, that the doctor plays the wag, as if he
were sure, it were all grimace. For my part, I declare, if he writeth a
second part, I will not write another answer; or, if I do, it shall be
published, before the other part cometh out.[4]

[Footnote 4: Tindal did, however, attempt to maintain his ground against
his numerous opponents, in "A Defence of the Rights of the Christian
Church, against a late Visitation Sermon, 8vo. 1707;" and also in "A
Second Defence of the Rights of the Christian Church considered, in two
late Indictments against a Bookseller and His Servant, for selling one
of the said Books, 1707." [T. S.]]

There may have been another motive, although it be hardly credible, both
for publishing this work, and threatening a second part: It is not soon
conceived how far the sense of a man's vanity will transport him. This
man must have somewhere heard, that dangerous enemies have been often
bribed to silence with money or preferment: And, therefore, to shew how
formidable he is, he hath published his first essay; and, in hopes of
hire to be quiet, hath frighted us with his design of another. What must
the clergy do in these unhappy circumstances? If they should bestow this
man bread enough to stop his mouth, it will but open those of a hundred
more, who are every whit as well qualified to rail as he. And truly,
when I compare the former enemies to Christianity, such as Socinus,[5]
Hobbes, and Spinosa,[6] with such of their successors, as Toland, Asgil,
Coward, Gildon,[7] this author of the "Rights," and some others; the
church appeareth to me like the sick old lion in the fable, who, after
having his person outraged by the bull, the elephant, the horse, and the
bear, took nothing so much to heart, as to find himself at last insulted
by the spurn of an ass.

[Footnote 5: Laelius Socinus (1525-1562), born at Siena. He studied at
Bologna, and in 1546 became a member of a secret freethinking society in
Venice. The society, however, was broken up, and Socinus left Italy for
Switzerland and Poland. He died at Zurich. His papers were published by
his nephew, Faustus Socinus, who founded a sect on the tenets they

[Footnote 6: Benedict or Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), born at Amsterdam,
of a Portuguese Jewish family. He was excommunicated by his people for
atheism. He retired to the Hague and took to making lenses, and the
study of philosophy. His "Ethics" and "Tractatus Theologico-Politicus"
constitute a system of philosophy which has had no little influence on
modern thought. See Pollock's "Spinoza."]

[Footnote 7: Charles Gildon (1665-1723-4) was educated at Douay. He
printed a book called "The Deist's Manual." For accounts of Coward,
Toland, and Asgil, see note, p. 9.] I will now add a few words to give
the reader some general notion of the nature and tendency of the work

I think I may assert, without the least partiality, that it is a
treatise wholly devoid of wit or learning, under the most violent and
weak endeavours and pretences to both. That it is replenished throughout
with bold, rude, improbable falsehoods, and gross misinterpretations;
and supported by the most impudent sophistry and false logic I have
anywhere observed. To this he hath added a paltry, traditional cant of
"priestrid" and "priestcraft," without reason or pretext as he applyeth
it. And when he raileth at those doctrines in Popery (which no
Protestant was ever supposed to believe) he leads the reader, however,
by the hand, to make applications against the English clergy, and then
he never faileth to triumph, as if he had made a very shrewd and notable
stroke. And because the court and kingdom seemeth disposed to moderation
with regard to Dissenters, more perhaps than is agreeable to the hot
unreasonable temper of some mistaken men among us; therefore under the
shelter of that popular opinion, he ridiculeth all that is sound in
religion, even Christianity itself, under the names of Jacobite,
Tackers, High Church, and other terms of factious jargon. All which, if
it were to be first rased from his book (as just so much of nothing to
the purpose) how little would remain to give the trouble of an answer!
To which let me add, that the spirit or genius, which animates the
whole, is plainly perceived to be nothing else but the abortive malice
of an old neglected man,[8] who hath long lain under the extremes of
obloquy, poverty and contempt; that have soured his temper, and made him
fearless. But where is the merit of being bold, to a man that is secure
of impunity to his person, and is past apprehension of anything else? He
that hath neither reputation nor bread hath very little to lose, and
hath therefore as little to fear. And, as it is usually said, "Whoever
values not his own life, is master of another man's;" so there is
something like it in reputation: He that is wholly lost to all regards
of truth or modesty, may scatter so much calumny and scandal, that some
part may perhaps be taken up before it fall to the ground; because the
ill talent of the world is such, that those who will be at pains enough
to inform themselves in a malicious story, will take none at all to be
undeceived, nay, will be apt with some reluctance to admit a favourable

[Footnote 8: Tindal was not an old man at the time Swift wrote,
certainly not older than was Swift himself. [T. S.]]

To expostulate, therefore, with this author for doing mischief to
religion, is to strew his bed with roses; he will reply in triumph, that
this was his design; and I am loth to mortify him, by asserting he hath
done none at all. For I never yet saw so poor an atheistical scribble,
which would not serve as a twig for sinking libertines to catch at. It
must be allowed in their behalf, that the faith of Christians is not as
a grain of mustard seed in comparison of theirs, which can remove such
mountains of absurdities, and submit with so entire a resignation to
such apostles. If these men had any share of that reason they pretend
to, they would retire into Christianity, merely to give it ease. And
therefore men can never be confirmed in such doctrines, until they are
confirmed in their vices; which last, as we have already observed, is
the principal design of this and all other writers against revealed

I am now opening the book which I propose to examine. An employment, as
it is entirely new to me, so it is that to which, of all others, I have
naturally the greatest antipathy. And, indeed, who can dwell upon a
tedious piece of insipid thinking, and false reasoning, so long as I am
likely to do, without sharing the infection?

But, before I plunge into the depths of the book itself, I must be
forced to wade through the shallows of a long preface.

This preface, large as we see it, is only made up of such supernumerary
arguments against an independent power in the church, as he could not,
without nauseous repetition, scatter into the body of his book: And it
is detached, like a forlorn hope, to blunt the enemy's sword that
intendeth to attack him. Now, I think, it will be easy to prove, that
the opinion of _imperium in imperio_, in the sense he chargeth it upon
the clergy of England, is what no one divine of any reputation, and very
few at all, did ever maintain; and, that their universal sentiment in
this matter is such as few Protestants did ever dispute. But, if the
author of the "Regale," or two or three more obscure writers, have
carried any points further than Scripture and reason will allow, (which
is more than I know, or shall trouble myself to enquire) the clergy of
England is no more answerable for those, than the laity is for all the
folly and impertinence of this treatise. And, therefore, that people may
not be amused, or think this man is somewhat, that he hath advanced or
defended any oppressed truths, or overthrown any growing dangerous
errors, I will set in as clear a light as I can, what I conceive to be
held by the established clergy and all reasonable Protestants in this

Everybody knows and allows, that in all government there is an absolute,
unlimited, legislative power, which is originally in the body of the
people, although, by custom, conquest, usurpation, or other accidents,
sometimes fallen into the hands of one or a few. This in England is
placed in the three estates (otherwise called the two Houses of
Parliament) in conjunction with the King. And whatever they please to
enact or to repeal in the settled forms, whether it be ecclesiastical or
civil, immediately becometh law or nullity. Their decrees may be against
equity, truth, reason and religion, but they are not against law;
because law is the will of the supreme legislature, and that is,
themselves. And there is no manner of doubt, but the same authority,
whenever it pleaseth, may abolish Christianity, and set up the Jewish,
Mahometan, or heathen religion. In short, they may do anything within
the compass of human power. And, therefore, who will dispute that the
same law, which deprived the church not only of lands, misapplied to
superstitious uses, but even the tithes and glebes, (the ancient and
necessary support of parish priests) may take away all the rest,
whenever the lawgivers please, and make the priesthood as primitive, as
this writer, or others of his stamp, can desire.

But as the supreme power can certainly do ten thousand things more than
it ought, so there are several things which some people may think it can
do, although it really cannot. For, it unfortunately happens, that
edicts which cannot be executed, will not alter the nature of things.
So, if a king and parliament should please to enact, that a woman who
hath been a month married, is _virgo intacta_, would that actually
restore her to her primitive state? If the supreme power should resolve
a corporal of dragoons to be a doctor of divinity, law or physic, few, I
believe, would trust their souls, fortunes, or bodies to his direction;
because that power is neither fit to judge or teach those qualifications
which are absolutely necessary to the several professions. Put the case
that walking on the slack rope were the only talent required by act of
parliament for making a man a bishop; no doubt, when a man had done his
feat of activity in form, he might sit in the House of Lords, put on his
robes and his rochet, go down to his palace, receive and spend his
rents; but it requireth very little Christianity to believe this tumbler
to be one whit more a bishop than he was before; because the law of God
hath otherwise decreed; which law, although a nation may refuse to
receive it, cannot alter in its own nature.

And here lies the mistake of this superficial man, who is not able to
distinguish between what the civil power can hinder, and what it can do.
"If the parliament can annul ecclesiastical laws, they must be able to
make them, since no greater power is required for one than the other."
See pref., p. viii. This consequence he repeateth above twenty times,
and always in the wrong. He affecteth to form a few words into the shape
and size of a maxim, then trieth it by his ear, and, according as he
likes the sound or cadence, pronounceth it true. Cannot I stand over a
man with a great pole, and hinder him from making a watch, although I am
not able to make one myself. If I have strength enough to knock a man on
the head, doth it follow I can raise him to life again? The parliament
may condemn all the Greek and Roman authors; can it therefore create new
ones in their stead? They may make laws, indeed, and call them canon and
ecclesiastical laws, and oblige all men to observe them under pain of
high treason. And so may I, who love as well as any man to have in my
own family the power in the last resort, take a turnip, then tie a
string to it, and call it a watch, and turn away all my servants, if
they refuse to call it so too.

For my own part, I must confess that this opinion of the independent
power of the Church, or _imperium in imperio_, wherewith this writer
raiseth such a dust, is what I never imagined to be of any consequence,
never once heard disputed among divines, nor remember to have read,
otherwise than as a scheme in one or two authors of middle rank, but
with very little weight laid on it. And I dare believe, there is hardly
one divine in ten that ever once thought of this matter. Yet to see a
large swelling volume written only to encounter this doctrine, what
could one think less than that the whole body of the clergy were
perpetually tiring the press and the pulpit with nothing else?

I remember some years ago, a virtuoso writ a small tract about worms,
proved them to be in more places than was generally observed, and made
some discoveries by glasses. This having met with some reception,
presently the poor man's head was full of nothing but worms; all we eat
and drink, all the whole consistence of human bodies, and those of every
other animal, the very air we breathe, in short, all nature throughout
was nothing but worms: And, by that system, he solved all difficulties,
and from thence all causes in philosophy. Thus it hath fared with our
author, and his independent power. The attack against occasional
conformity, the scarcity of coffee, the invasion of Scotland, the loss
of kerseys and narrow cloths, the death of King William, the author's
turning Papist for preferment, the loss of the battle of Almanza, with
ten thousand other misfortunes, are all owing to this _imperium in

It will be therefore necessary to set this matter in a clear light, by
enquiring whether the clergy have any power independent of the civil,
and of what nature it is.

Whenever the Christian religion was embraced by the civil power in any
nation, there is no doubt but the magistrates and senates were fully
instructed in the rudiments of it. Besides, the Christians were so
numerous, and their worship so open before the conversion of princes,
that their discipline, as well as doctrine, could not be a secret: They
saw plainly a subordination of ecclesiastics, bishops, priests, and
deacons: That these had certain powers and employments different from
the laity: That the bishops were consecrated, and set apart for that
office by those of their own order: That the presbyters and deacons were
differently set apart, always by the bishops: That none but the
ecclesiastics presumed to pray or preach in places set apart for God's
worship, or to administer the Lord's Supper: That all questions relating
either to discipline or doctrine, were determined in ecclesiastical
conventions. These and the like doctrines and practices, being most of
them directly proved, and the rest by very fair consequences deduced
from the words of our Saviour and His apostles, were certainly received
as a divine law by every prince or state which admitted the Christian
religion: and, consequently, what they could not justly alter
afterwards, any more than the common laws of nature. And, therefore,
although the supreme power can hinder the clergy or Church from making
any new canons, or executing the old; from consecrating bishops, or
refuse those that they do consecrate; or, in short, from performing any
ecclesiastical office, as they may from eating, drinking, and sleeping;
yet they cannot themselves perform those offices, which are assigned to
the clergy by our Saviour and His apostles; or, if they do, it is not
according to the divine institution, and, consequently, null and void.
Our Saviour telleth us, "His kingdom is not of this world;" and
therefore, to be sure, the world is not of His kingdom, nor can ever
please Him by interfering in the administration of it, since He hath
appointed ministers of His own, and hath empowered and instructed them
for that purpose: So that, I believe, the clergy, who, as he sayeth, are
good at distinguishing, would think it reasonable to distinguish between
their power, and the liberty of exercising this power. The former they
claim immediately from Christ, and the latter from the permission,
connivance, or authority of the civil government; with which the
clergy's power, according to the solution I have given, cannot possibly

But this writer, setting up to form a system upon stale, scanty topics,
and a narrow circle of thought, falleth into a thousand absurdities. And
for a further help, he hath a talent of rattling out phrases, which seem
to have sense, but have none at all: the usual fate of those who are
ignorant of the force and compass of words, without which it is
impossible for a man to write either pertinently or intelligibly upon
the most obvious subjects.

So, in the beginning of his preface, page iv, he says, "The Church of
England being established by acts of parliament, is a perfect creature
of the civil power; I mean the polity and discipline of it, and it is
that which maketh all the contention; for as to the doctrines expressed
in the articles, I do not find high church to be in any manner of pain;
but they who lay claim to most orthodoxy can distinguish themselves out
of them." It is observable in this author, that his style is naturally
harsh and ungrateful to the ear, and his expressions mean and trivial;
but whenever he goeth about to polish a period, you may be certain of
some gross defect in propriety or meaning: So the lines just quoted seem
to run easily over the tongue: and, upon examination, they are perfect
nonsense and blunder: To speak in his own borrowed phrase, what is
contained in the idea of established? Surely, not existence. Doth
establishment give being to a thing? He might have said the same thing
of Christianity in general, or the existence of God, since both are
confirmed by acts of parliament. But, the best is behind: for, in the
next line, having named the church half a dozen times before, he now
says, he meaneth only "the polity and discipline of it": As if, having
spoke in praise of the art of physic, a man should explain himself, that
he meant only the institution of a college of physicians into a
president and fellows. And it will appear, that this author, however
versed in the practice, hath grossly transgressed the rules of nonsense,
(whose property it is neither to affirm nor deny) since every visible
assertion gathered from those few lines is absolutely false: For where
was the necessity of excepting the doctrines expressed in the articles,
since these are equally creatures of the civil power, having been
established by acts of parliament as well as the others. But the Church
of England is no creature of the civil power, either as to its polity or
doctrines. The fundamentals of both were deduced from Christ and His
apostles, and the instructions of the purest and earliest ages, and were
received as such by those princes or states who embraced Christianity,
whatever prudential additions have been made to the former by human
laws, which alone can be justly altered or annulled by them.

What I have already said, would, I think, be a sufficient answer to his
whole preface, and indeed to the greatest part of his book, which is
wholly turned upon battering down a sort of independent power in the
clergy; which few or none of them ever claimed or defended. But there
being certain peculiarities in this preface, that very much set off the
wit, the learning, the raillery, reasoning and sincerity of the author;
I shall take notice of some of them, as I pass.

But here, I hope, it will not be expected, that I should bestow remarks
upon every passage in this book, that is liable to exception for
ignorance, falsehood, dulness, or malice. Where he is so insipid, that
nothing can be struck out for the reader's entertainment, I shall
observe Horace's rule:

"Quae desperes tractata nitescere posse, relinquas."

Upon which account I shall say nothing of that great instance of his
candour and judgment in relation to Dr. Stillingfleet,[9] who (happening
to lie under his displeasure upon the fatal test of _imperium in
imperio_) is High Church and Jacobite, took the oaths of allegiance to
save him from the gallows,[10] and subscribed the articles only to keep
his preferment: Whereas the character of that prelate is universally
known to have been directly the reverse of what this writer gives him.

[Footnote 9: Edward Stillingfleet (1635-1699), educated at Cambridge,
wrote in 1659 his "Irenicum, or Weapon Salve for the Church's Wounds."
He also published a "Rational Account of the Protestant Religion" in
1664. He occupied successively the important clerical offices of
Prebendary of St. Paul's, Archdeaconry of London, Deanery of St. Paul's,
and Bishopric of Worcester. The later years of his life were occupied in
a controversy with Locke on that writer's "Essay on the Human
Understanding." [T. S.]]

[Footnote 10: Page v, he quotes Bishop Stillingfleet's "Vindication of
the Doctrine of the Trinity," where the bishop says, that a man might be
very right in the belief of an article, though mistaken in the
explication of it. Upon which Tindal observes: "These men treat the
articles, as they do the oath of allegiance, which, they say, obliges
them not actually to assist the government, but to do nothing against
it; that is, nothing that would bring 'em to the gallows." [Note in
edition 1764, 4to.]]

But before he can attempt to ruin this damnable opinion of two
independent powers, he telleth us; page vi., "It will be necessary to
shew what is contained in the idea of government" Now, it is to be
understood, that this refined way of speaking was introduced by Mr.
Locke; after whom the author limpeth as fast as he is able. All the
former philosophers in the world, from the age of Socrates to ours,
would have ignorantly put the question, _Quid est imperium_? But now it
seemeth we must vary our phrase; and, since our modern improvement of
human understanding, instead of desiring a philosopher to describe or
define a mouse-trap, or tell me what it is; I must gravely ask, what is
contained in the idea of a mouse-trap? But then to observe how deeply
this new way of putting questions to a man's self, maketh him enter into
the nature of things; his present business is to show us, what is
contained in the idea of government. The company knoweth nothing of the
matter, and would gladly be instructed; which he doth in the following
words, p. 5.

"It would be in vain for one intelligent being to pretend to set rules
to the actions of another, if he had it not in his power to reward the
compliance with, or punish the deviations from, his rules by some good,
or evil, which is not the natural consequence of those actions; since
the forbidding men to do or forbear an action on the account of that
convenience or inconvenience which attendeth it, whether he who forbids
it will or no, can be no more than advice."

I shall not often draw such long quotations as this, which I could not
forbear to offer as a specimen of the propriety and perspicuity of this
author's style. And, indeed, what a light breaketh out upon us all, as
soon as we have read these words! How thoroughly are we instructed in
the whole nature of government? What mighty truths are here discovered;
and how clearly conveyed to our understandings? And therefore let us
melt this refined jargon into the old style for the improvement of such,
who are not enough conversant in the new.

If the author were one who used to talk like one of us, he would have
spoke in this manner: "I think it necessary to give a full and perfect
definition of government, such as will shew the nature and all the
properties of it; and my definition is thus: One man will never cure
another of stealing horses, merely by minding him of the pains he hath
taken, the cold he hath got, and the shoe-leather he hath lost in
stealing that horse; nay, to warn him, that the horse may kick or fling
him, or cost him more than he is worth in hay and oats, can be no more
than advice. For the gallows is not the natural effect of robbing on the
highway, as heat is of fire: and therefore, if you will govern a man,
you must find out some other way of punishment, than what he will
inflict upon himself."

Or, if this will not do, let us try it in another case (which I
instanced before) and in his own terms. Suppose he had thought it
necessary (and I think it was as much so as the other) to shew us what
is contained in the idea of a mousetrap, he must have proceeded in these
terms. "It would be in vain for an intelligent being, to set rules for
hindering a mouse from eating his cheese, unless he can inflict upon
that mouse some punishment, which, is not the natural consequence of
eating the cheese. For, to tell her, it may lie heavy on her stomach;
that she will grow too big to get back into her hole, and the like, can
be no more than advice: therefore, we must find out some way of
punishing her, which hath more inconveniences than she will ever suffer
by the mere eating of cheese." After this, who is so slow of
understanding, as not to have in his mind a full and complete idea of a
mouse-trap? Well.--The Free thinkers may talk what they please of
pedantry, and cant, and jargon of schoolmen, and insignificant terms in
the writings of the clergy, if ever the most perplexed and perplexing
follower of Aristotle from Scotus to Suarez[11] could be a match for
this author.

[Footnote 11: Duns Scotus flourished in the thirteenth century. He
studied at Oxford and Paris, and his learning and acumen in reasoning
earned for him the title _The Subtle Doctor_. He died at Cologne in
1308. He was a strong upholder of the doctrine of the Immaculate
Conception. His works are published in twelve volumes folio.

Francis Suarez (1548-1617) was a Spanish Jesuit who wrote a work by
command of the Pope against the English Reformation. He published some
very able religio-philosophical treatises, from the Roman Catholic point
of view; but, indeed, his writings altogether were enormous, so far as
their number are concerned. [T. S.]]

But the strength of his arguments is equal to the clearness of his
definitions. For, having most ignorantly divided government into three
parts, whereof the first contains the other two; he attempteth to prove
that the clergy possess none of these by a divine right. And he argueth
thus, p. vii. "As to a legislative power, if that belongs to the clergy
by a divine right, it must be when they are assembled in convocation:
but the 25 Hen. VIII. c. 19 is a bar to any such divine right, because
that act makes it no less than a _praemunire_ for them, so much so as to
meet without the king's writ, &c." So that the force of his argument
lieth here; if the clergy had a divine right, it is taken away by the
25th of Henry the Eighth. And as ridiculous as this argument is, the
preface and book are founded upon it.

Another argument against the legislative power in the clergy of England,
is, p. viii. that Tacitus telleth us; that in great affairs, the Germans
consulted the whole body of the people. "_De minoribus rebus principes
consultant, de majoribus omnes: Ita tamen, ut ea quoque, quorum penes
plebem arbitrium est, apud principes pertractentur."--Tacitus de Moribus
et Populis Germaniae_. Upon which Tindal observeth thus: "_De majoribus
omnes_, was a fundamental amongst our ancestors long before they arrived
in Great Britain, and matters of religion were ever reckoned among their
_majora_." (See Pref. p. viii. and ix.) Now it is plain, that our
ancestors, the Saxons, came from Germany: It is likewise plain, that
religion was always reckoned by the heathens among their _majora_: And
it is plain, the whole body of the people could not be the clergy, and
therefore, the clergy of England have no legislative power.

_Thirdly_, p. ix. They have no legislative power, because Mr.
Washington, in his "Observations on the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of
the Kings of England," sheweth, from "undeniable authorities, that in
the time of William the Conqueror, and several of his successors, there
were no laws enacted concerning religion, but by the great council of
the kingdom." I hope, likewise, Mr. Washington observeth that this great
council of the kingdom, as appeareth by undeniable authorities, was
sometimes entirely composed of bishops and clergy, and called the
parliament, and often consulted upon affairs of state, as well as
church, as it is agreed by twenty writers of three ages; and if Mr.
Washington says otherwise, he is an author just fit to be quoted by

_Fourthly_,--But it is endless to pursue this matter any further; in
that, it is plain, the clergy have no divine right to make laws; because
Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Queen Elizabeth, with their parliaments will
not allow it them. Now, without examining what divine right the clergy
have, or how far it extendeth; is it any sort of proof that I have no
right, because a stronger power will not let me exercise it? Or doth
all, that this author says through his preface, or book itself, offer
any other sort of argument but this, or what he deduces the same way?

But his arguments and definitions are yet more supportable than the
grossness of historical remarks, which are scattered so plentifully in
his book, that it would be tedious to enumerate, or to shew the fraud
and ignorance of them. I beg the reader's leave to take notice of one
here just in my way; and, the rather, because I design for the future to
let hundreds of them pass without further notice. "When," says he, p. x.
"by the abolishing of the Pope's power, things were brought back to
their ancient channel, the parliament's right in making ecclesiastical
laws revived of course." What can possibly be meant by this "ancient
channel?" Why, the channel that things ran in before the Pope had any
power in England: that is to say, before Austin the monk converted
England, before which time, it seems, the parliament had a right to make
ecclesiastical laws. And what parliament could this be? Why, the Lords
Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons met at Westminster.

I cannot here forbear reproving the folly and pedantry of some lawyers,
whose opinions this poor creature blindly followeth, and rendereth yet
more absurd by his comments. The knowledge of our constitution can be
only attained by consulting the earliest English histories, of which
those gentlemen seem utterly ignorant, further than a quotation or an
index. They would fain derive our government as now constituted, from
antiquity: And, because they have seen Tacitus quoted for his _majoribus
omnes_; and have read of the Goths' military institution in their
progresses and conquests, they presently dream of a parliament. Had
their reading reached so far, they might have deduced it much more
fairly from Aristotle and Polybius, who both distinctly name the
composition of _rex, seniores, et populus_; and the latter, as I
remember particularly, with the highest approbation. The princes, in the
Saxon Heptarchy, did indeed call their nobles sometimes together upon
weighty affairs, as most other princes of the world have done in all
ages. But they made war and peace, and raised money by their own
authority: They gave or mended laws by their charters, and they raised
armies by their tenures. Besides, some of those kingdoms fell in by
conquests, before England was reduced under one head, and therefore
could pretend no rights, but by the concessions of the conqueror.

Further, which is more material, upon the admission of Christianity,
great quantities of land were acquired by the clergy, so that the great
council of the nation was often entirely of churchmen, and ever a
considerable part. But, our present constitution is an artificial thing,
not fairly to be traced, in my opinion, beyond Henry I. Since which time
it hath in every age admitted several alterations; and differeth now as
much, even from what it was then, as almost any two species of
government described by Aristotle. And, it would be much more reasonable
to affirm, that the government of Rome continued the same under
Justinian, as it was in the time of Scipio, because the senate and
consuls still remained, although the power of both had been several
hundred years transferred to the emperors.


[Footnote 12: References to Tindal's book, and remarks upon it, which
the author left thus indigested, being hints for himself to use in
answering the said book.]

Page iv, v. "If men of opposite sentiments can subscribe the same
articles, they are as much at liberty as if there were none." May not a
man subscribe the whole articles, because he differs from another in the
explication of one? How many oaths are prescribed, that men may differ
in the explication of some part of them? Instance, &c.

Page vi. "Idea of Government." A canting pedantic way, learned from
Locke; and how prettily he sheweth it. Instance--

Page vii, "25 Hen. VIII. c. 19 is a bar to any such divine right [of a
legislative power in the clergy.]" Absurd to argue against the clergy's
divine right, because of the statute of Henry VIII. How doth that
destroy divine right? The sottish way of arguing; from what the
parliament can do; from their power, &c.

Page viii. "If the parliament did not think they had a plenitude of
power in this matter, they would not have damned all the canons of
1640." What doth he mean? A grave divine could not answer all his
playhouse and Alsatia[13] cant, &c. He hath read Hudibras, and many

[Footnote 13: Or Whitefriars, then a place of asylum, and frequented by
sharpers, of whose gibberish there are several specimens in Shadwell's
comedy, "The Squire of Alsatia." [T. S.]]

_Ibid_. "If the parliament can annul ecclesiastical laws, they must be
able to make them." Distinguish, and shew the silliness, &c.

_Ibid_. All that he saith against the discipline, he might say the same
against the doctrine, nay, against the belief of a God, _viz_. That the
legislature might forbid it. The Church formeth and contriveth canons;
and the civil power, which is compulsive, confirms them.

Page ix. "There were no laws enacted but by the great council of the
kingdom." And that was very often, chiefly, only bishops.

_Ibid_. "Laws settled by parliament to punish the clergy." What laws
were those?

Page x. "The people are bound to no laws but of their own choosing." It
is fraudulent; for they may consent to what others choose, and so people
often do.

Page xiv. paragraph 6. "The clergy are not supposed to have any divine
legislature, because that must be superior to all worldly power; and
then the clergy might as well forbid the parliament to meet but when and
where they please, &c." No such consequence at all. They have a power
exclusive from all others. Ordained to act as clergy, but not govern in
civil affairs; nor act without leave of the civil power.

Page xxv. "The parliament suspected the love of power natural to
churchmen." Truly, so is the love of pudding, and most other things
desirable in this life; and in that they are like the laity, as in all
other things that are not good. And, therefore, they are held not in
esteem for what they are like in, but for their virtues. The true way to
abuse them with effect, is to tell us some faults of theirs, that other
men have not, or not so much of as they, &c. Might not any man speak
full as bad of senates, diets, and parliaments, as he can do about
councils; and as bad of princes, as he does of bishops?

Page xxxi. "They might as well have made Cardinals Campegi and de
Chinuchii, Bishops of Salisbury and Worcester, as have enacted that
their several sees and bishoprics were utterly void." No. The
legislature might determine who should not be a bishop there, but not
make a bishop.

_Ibid_. "Were not a great number deprived by parliament upon the
Restoration?" Does he mean presbyters? What signifies that?

_Ibid_. "Have they not trusted this power with our princes?" Why, aye.
But that argueth not right, but power. Have they not cut off a king's
head, &c. The Church must do the best they can, if not what they would.

Page xxxvi. "If tithes and first-fruits are paid to spiritual persons as
such, the king or queen is the most spiritual person, &c." As if the
first-fruits, &c. were paid to the king, as tithes to a spiritual

Page xliii. "King Charles II. thought fit that the bishops in Scotland
should hold their bishoprics during will and pleasure; I do not find
that the High Church complained of this as an encroachment, &c." No; but
as a pernicious counsel of Lord Loch.[14]

[Footnote 14: Scott thinks this refers to Lord Lauderdale. [T.S.]]

Page xliv. "The common law judges have a power to determine, whether a
man has a legal right to the sacrament." They pretend it, but what we
complain of as most abominable hardship, &c.

Page xlv. "Giving men thus blindly to the devil, is an extraordinary
piece of complaisance to a lay chancellor." He is something in the
right; and therefore it is a pity there are any; and I hope the Church
will provide against it. But if the sentence be just, it is not the
person, but the contempt. And, if the author attacketh a man on the
highway, and taketh but twopence, he shall be sent to the gallows, more
terrible to him than the devil, for his contempt of the law, &c.
Therefore he need not complain of being sent to hell.

Page xliv. Mr. Leslie may carry things too far, as it is natural,
because the other extreme is so great. But what he says of the king's
losses, since the Church lands were given away, is too great a truth,

Page lxxvi. "To which I have nothing to plead, except the zeal I have
for the Church of England." You will see some pages further, what he
meaneth by the Church; but it is not fair not to begin with telling us
what is contained in the idea of a Church, &c.

Page lxxxiii. "They will not be angry with me for thinking better of the
Church than they do, &c." No, but they will differ from you; because the
worse the Queen is pleased, you think her better. I believe the Church
will not concern themselves much about your opinion of them, &c.

Page lxxxiv. "But the Popish, Eastern, Presbyterian and Jacobite clergy,
&c." This is like a general pardon, with such exceptions as make it
useless, if we compute it, &c.

Page lxxxvii. "Misapplying of the word church, &c." This is cavilling.
No doubt his project is for exempting the people: But that is not what
in common speech we usually mean by the Church. Besides, who doth not
know that distinction?

_Ibid_. "Constantly apply the same ideas to them." This is, in old
English, meaning the same thing.

Page lxxxix. "Demonstrates I could have no design but the promoting of
truth, &c." Yes, several designs, as money, spleen, atheism, &c. What?
will any man think truth was his design, and not money and malice? Doth
he expect the House will go into a committee for a bill to bring things
to his scheme, to confound everything, &c.

Some deny Tindal to be the author, and produce stories of his dulness
and stupidity. But what is there in all this book, that the dullest man
in England might not write, if he were angry and bold enough, and had no
regard to truth?


Page 4. "Whether Lewis XIV. has such a power over Philip V?" He speaketh
here of the unlimited, uncontrollable authority of fathers. A very
foolish question; and his discourse hitherto, of government, weak and
trivial, and liable to objections.

_Ibid_. "Whom he is to consider not as his own, but the Almighty's
workmanship." A very likely consideration for the Ideas of the state of
nature. A very wrong deduction of paternal government; but that is
nothing to the dispute, &c.

Page 12. "And as such might justly be punished by every one in the state
of nature." False; he doth not seem to understand the state of nature,
although he hath borrowed it from Hobbes, &c.

Page 14. "Merely speculative points, and other indifferent things, &c."
And why are speculative opinions so insignificant? Do not men proceed in
their practice according to their speculations? So, if the author were a
chancellor and one of his speculations were, that the poorer the clergy
the better; would not that be of great use, if a cause came before him
of tithes or Church lands?

_Ibid_. "Which can only be known by examining whether men had any power
in the state of nature over their own, or others' actions in these
matters." No, that is a wrong method, unless where religion hath not
been revealed; in natural religion.

_Ibid_. "Nothing at first sight can be more obvious, than that in all
religious matters, none could make over the right of judging for
himself, since that would cause his religion to be absolutely at the
disposal of another." At his rate of arguing (I think I do not
misrepresent him, and I believe he will not deny the consequence) a man
may profess Heathenism, Mahometism, &c. and gain as many proselytes as
he can; and they may have their assemblies, and the magistrate ought to
protect them, provided they do not disturb the state: And they may enjoy
all secular preferments, be lords chancellors, judges, &c. But there are
some opinions in several religions, which, although they do not directly
make men rebel, yet lead to it. Instance some. Nay we might have temples
for idols, &c. A thousand such absurdities follow from his general
notions, and ill-digested schemes. And we see in the Old Testament, that
kings were reckoned good or ill, as they suffered or hindered
image-worship and idolatry, &c. which was limiting conscience.

Page 15. "Men may form what clubs, companies, or meetings they think
fit, &c, which the magistrate, as long as the public sustains no damage,
cannot hinder, &c." This is false; although the public sustain no
damage, they will forbid clubs, where they think danger may happen.

Page 16. "The magistrate is as much obliged to protect them in the way
they choose of worshipping Him, as in any other indifferent
matter."--Page 17. "The magistrate to treat all his subjects alike, how
much soever they differ from him or one another in these matters." This
shews, that although they be Turks, Jews, or Heathens, it is so. But we
are sure Christianity is the only true religion, &c. and therefore it
should be the magistrate's chief care to propagate it; and that God
should be worshipped in that that those who are the teachers think most
proper, &c.

Page 18. "So that persecution is the most comprehensive of all crimes,
&c." But he hath not told us what is concluded in the idea of
persecution. State it right.

_Ibid_. "But here it may be demanded, If a man's conscience make him do
such acts, &c." This doth not answer the above objection: For, if the
public be not disturbed with atheistical principles preached, nor
immoralities, all is well. So that still, men may be Jews, Turks, &c.

Page 22. "The same reason which obliges them to make statutes of
mortmain, and other laws, against the people's giving estates to the
clergy, will equally hold for their taking them away when given." A
great security for property! Will this hold to any other society in the
state, as merchants, &c. or only to ecclesiastics? A pretty project:
Forming general schemes requires a deeper head than this man's.

_Ibid_. "But the good of the society being the only reason of the
magistrate's having any power over men's properties, I cannot see why he
should deprive his subjects of any part thereof, for the maintenance of
such opinions as have no tendency that way, &c." Here is a paragraph
(_vide_ also _infra_) which has a great deal in it. The meaning is, that
no man ought to pay tithes, who doth not believe what the minister
preacheth. But how came they by this property? When they purchased the
land, they paid only for so much; and the tithes were exempted. It is an
older title than any man's estate is, and if it were taken away
to-morrow, it could not without a new law belong to the owners of the
other nine parts, any more than impropriations do.

_Ibid_. "For the maintenance of such opinions, as no ways contribute to
the public good," By such opinions as the public receive no advantage
by, he must mean Christianity.

Page 23. "Who by reason of such articles are divided into different
sects." A pretty cause of sects! &c.

Page 24. "So the same reason as often as it occurs, will oblige him to
leave that Church." This is an excuse for his turning Papist.

_Ibid_. "Unless you suppose churches like traps, easy to admit one; but
when once he is in, there he must always stick, either for the pleasure
or profit of the trap-setters." Remark his wit.

Page 29. "Nothing can be more absurd than maintaining there must be two
independent powers in the same society." This is abominably absurd; shew

Page 33. "The whole hierarchy as built on it, must necessarily fall to
the ground, and great will be the fall of this spiritual Babylon." I
will do him justice, and take notice, when he is witty, &c.

Page 36. "For if there may be two such [independent powers] in every
society on earth, why may there not be more than one in heaven?" A
delicate consequence.

Page 37. "Without having the less, he could not have the greater, in
which that is contained." Sophistical; instance wherein.

Page 42. "Some since, subtler than the Jews, have managed commutations
more to their own advantage, by enriching themselves, and beggaring, if
Fame be not a liar, many an honest dissenter." It is fair to produce
witnesses, is she a liar or not? The report is almost impossible.
Commutations were contrived for roguish registers and proctors, and lay
chancellors, but not for the clergy.

Page 43. "Kings and people, who (as the Indians do the Devil) adored the
Pope out of fear." I am in doubt, whether I shall allow that for wit or
no, &c. Look you, in these cases, preface it thus: If one may use an old

Page 44. "One reason why the clergy make what they call schism, to be so
heinous a sin." There it is now; because he hath changed churches, he
ridiculeth schism; as Milton wrote for divorces, because he had an ill
wife. For ten pages on, we must give the true answer, that makes all
these arguments of no use.

Page 60. "It possibly will be said, I have all this while been doing
these gentlemen a great deal of wrong." To do him justice, he sets forth
the objections of his adversaries with great strength, and much to their
advantage. No doubt those are the very objections we would offer.

Page 68. "Their executioner." He is fond of this word in many places,
yet there is nothing in it further than it is the name for the hangman,

Page 69. "Since they exclude both from having anything in the ordering
of Church matters." Another part of his scheme: For by this the people
ought to execute ecclesiastical offices without distinction, for he
brings the other opinion as an absurd one.

Page 72, "They claim a judicial power, and, by virtue of it the
government of the Church, and thereby (pardon the expression) become
traitors both to God and man." Who doth he desire to pardon him? or is
this meant of the English clergy? So it seemeth. Doth he desire them to
pardon him? They do it as Christians. Doth he desire the government to
do it? But then how can they make examples? He says, the clergy do so,
&c. so he means all.

Page 74. "I would gladly know what they mean by giving the Holy Ghost."
Explain what is really meant by giving the Holy Ghost, like a king
empowering an ambassador.[15]

[Footnote 15: See Hooker's "Eccl. Pol.," book v. § 77.]

Page 76. "The Popish clergy make very bold with the Three Persons of the
Trinity." Why then, don't mix them, but we see whom this glanceth on
most. As to the _Congé d'Élire_, and _Nolo episcopari_, not so absurd;
and, if omitted, why changed.

Page 78. "But not to digress"--Pray, doth he call scurrility upon the
clergy, a digression? The apology needless, &c.

_Ibid_. "A clergyman, it is said, is God's ambassador." But you know an
ambassador may have a secretary, &c.

_Ibid_. "Call their pulpit speeches, the word of God." That is a

Page 79. "Such persons to represent Him." Are not they that own His
power, fitter to represent Him than others? Would the author be a fitter

_Ibid_. "Puffed up with intolerable pride and insolence." Not at all;
for where is the pride to be employed by a prince, whom so few own, and
whose being is disputed by such as this author?

_Ibid_. "Perhaps from a poor servitor, &c. to be a prime minister in
God's kingdom." That is right. God taketh notice of the difference
between poor servitors, &c. Extremely foolish--shew it. The argument
lieth strongly against the apostles, poor fishermen; and St. Paul, a
tentmaker. So gross and idle!

Page 80. "The formality of laying hand over head on a man." A pun; but
an old one. I remember, when Swan[16] made that pun first, he was
severely checked for it.

[Footnote 16: Captain Swan was a celebrated low humorist and punster who
frequented Will's Coffee-house when it was the fashionable resort of men
of wit and pleasure. [T. S.]]

_Ibid_. "What more is required to give one a right, &c." Here shew, what
power is in the church, and what in the state to make priests.

Page 85. "To bring men into, and not turn them out of the ordinary way
of salvation." Yes; but as one rotten sheep doth mischief--and do you
think it reasonable, that such a one as this author, should converse
with Christians, and weak ones.

Page 86. See his fine account of spiritual punishment.

Page 87. "The clergy affirm, that if they had not the power to exclude
men from the Church, its unity could not be preserved." So to expel an
ill member from a college, would be to divide the college; as in
All-Souls, &c. Apply it to him.[17]

[Footnote 17: Tindal was a fellow of All Souls College. [T. S.]]

Page 88. "I cannot see but it is contrary to the rules of charity, to
exclude men from the Church, &c." All this turns upon the falsest
reasoning in the world. So, if a man be imprisoned for stealing a horse,
he is hindered from other duties: And, you might argue, that a man who
doth ill, ought to be more diligent in minding other duties, and not to
be debarred from them. It is for contumacy and rebellion against that
power in the church, which the law hath confirmed. So a man is outlawed
for a trifle, upon contumacy.

Page 92. "Obliging all by penal laws to receive the sacrament." This is

Page 93. "The want of which means can only harden a man in his
impenitence." It is for his being hardened that he is excluded. Suppose
a son robbeth his father on the highway, and his father will not see him
till he restoreth the money and owneth his fault. It is hard to deny him
paying his duty in other things, &c. How absurd this!

Page 95. "And that only _they_ had a right to give it." Another part of
his scheme, that the people have a right to give the sacrament. See more
of it, pp. 135 and 137.

Page 96. "Made familiar to such practices by the heathen priests." Well;
and this shews the necessity of it for peace' sake. A silly objection of
this and other enemies to religion, to think to disgrace it by applying
heathenism, which only concerns the political part wherein they were as
wise as others, and might give rules. Instance in some, &c.

Page 98. "How differently from this do the great pretenders to primitive
practice act, &c." This is a remarkable passage. Doth he condemn or
allow this mysterious way? It seems the first--and therefore these words
are a little turned, but infallibly stood in the first draught as a
great argument for Popery.

Page 100. "They dress them up in a _sanbenito_." So, now we are to
answer for the inquisition. One thing is, that he makes the fathers
guilty of asserting most of the corruptions about the power of priests.

Page 104. "Some priests assume to themselves an arbitrary power of
excluding men from the Lord's Supper." His scheme; that any body may
administer the sacraments, women or children, &c.

Page 108. "One no more than another can be reckoned a priest." See his
scheme. Here he disgraces what the law enacts, about the manner of
consecrating, &c.

Page 118. "Churches serve to worse purposes than bear-gardens." This
from Hudibras.

Page 119. "In the time of that wise heathen Ammianus Marcellinus."[18]
Here he runs down all Christianity in general.

[Footnote 18: Ammianus Marcellinus (died _c_. 390) wrote a history of
Rome in thirty-one books, of which Gibbon thought rather highly. The
history may be taken as a continuation of Tacitus and Suetonius. [T.

Page 120. "I shall, in the following part of my discourse, shew that
this doctrine is so far from serving the ends of religion, that, 1. It
prevents the spreading of the gospel, &c." This independent power in the
church is like the worms; being the cause of all diseases.

Page 124. "How easily could the Roman emperors have destroyed the
Church?" Just as if he had said; how easily could Herod kill Christ
whilst a child, &c.

Page 125. "The people were set against bishops by reason of their
tyranny." Wrong. For the bishops were no tyrants: Their power was
swallowed up by the Popes, and the people desired they should have more.
It were the regulars that tyrannized and formed priestcraft. He is

Page 139. "He is not bound by the laws of Christ to leave his friends in
order to be baptized, &c." This directly against the Gospel.--One would
think him an emissary, by his preaching schism.

Page 142. "Then will the communion of saints be practicable, to which
the principles of all parties, the occasional conformists only excepted,
stand in direct opposition, &c." So that all are wrong but they. The
Scripture is fully against schism. Tindal promoteth it and placeth in it
all the present and future happiness of man.

Page 144. All he has hitherto said on this matter, with a very little
turn, were arguments for Popery: For, it is certain, that religion had
share in very few wars for many hundred years before the Reformation,
because they were all of a mind. It is the ambition of rebels, preaching
upon the discontents of sectaries, that they are not supreme, which hath
caused wars for religion. He is mistaken altogether. His little narrow
understanding and want of learning.

Page 145. "Though some say the high-fliers' lives might serve for a very
good rule, if men would act quite contrary to them," Is he one of those
some? Beside the new turn of wit, &c. all the clergy in England come
under his notion of high-fliers, as he states it.

Page 147. "None of them (Churchmen) could be brought to acknowledge it
lawful upon any account whatever, to exclude the Duke of York." This
account false in fact.

_Ibid_. "And the body-politic, whether ecclesiastical or civil, must be
dealt with after the same manner, as the body-natural." What, because it
is called a body, and is a simile, must it hold in all circumstances?

Page 148. "We find all wise legislators have had regard to the tempers,
inclinations, and prejudices, &c." This paragraph false.--It was
directly contrary in several, as Lycurgus, &c.

Page 152. "All the skill of the prelatists is not able to discover the
least distinction between bishop and presbyter." Yet, God knows, this
hath been done many a time.

Page 158. "The Epistle to the Philippians is directed to the bishops and
deacons, I mean in due order after the people, _viz_, to the saints with
their bishops and deacons." I hope he would argue from another place,
that the people precede the king, because of these words: "Ye shall be
destroyed both you and your king."

Page 167. "The Pope and other great Church dons." I suppose, he meaneth
bishops: But I wish, he would explain himself, and not be so very witty
in the midst of an argument; it is like two mediums; not fair in

Page 168. "Clemens Romanus blames the people not for assuming a power,
but for making a wrong use of it, &c." His great error all along is,
that he doth not distinguish between a power, and a liberty of
exercising that power, &c. I would appeal to any man, whether the clergy
have not too little power, since a book like this, that unsettleth
foundations and would destroy all, goes unpunished, &c.

Page 171. "By this or some such method the bishops obtained their power
over their fellow presbyters, and both over the people. The whole tenor
of the Gospel directly contrary to it." Then it is not an allowable
means: This carries it so far as to spoil his own system; it is a sin to
have bishops as we have them.

Page 172. "The preservation of peace and unity, and not any divine
right, was the reason of establishing a superiority of one of the
presbyters over the rest. Otherwise there would, as they say, have been
as many schismatics as Presbyters. No great compliment to the clergy of
those days." Why so? It is the natural effect of a worse independency,
which he keepeth such a clatter about; an independency of churches on
each other, which must naturally create schism.

Page 183. "How could the Christians have asserted the disinterestedness
of those who first preached the Gospel, particularly their having a
right to the tenth part." Yes, that would have passed easy enough; for
they could not imagine teachers could live on air; and their heathen
priests were much more unreasonable.

Page 184. "Men's suffering for such opinions is not sufficient to
support the weight of them." This is a glance against Christianity.
State the case of converting infidels; the converters are supposed few;
the bulk of the priests must be of the converted country. It is their
own people therefore they maintain. What project or end can a few
converters propose? they can leave no power to their families, &c. State
this, I say, at length, and give it a true turn. Princes give
corporations power to purchase lands.

Page 187. "That it became an easy prey to the barbarous nations."
Ignorance in Tindal. The empire long declined before Christianity was
introduced. This a wrong cause, if ever there was one.

Page 190, "It is the clergy's interest to have religion corrupted."
Quite the contrary; prove it. How is it the interest of the English
clergy to corrupt religion? The more justice and piety the people have,
the better it is for them; for that would prevent the penury of farmers,
and the oppression of exacting covetous landlords, &c. That which hath
corrupted religion, is the liberty unlimited of professing all opinions.
Do not lawyers render law intricate by their speculations, &c. And
physicians, &c.

Page 209. "The spirit and temper of the clergy, &c." What does this man
think the clergy are made of? Answer generally to what he says against
councils in the ten pages before. Suppose I should bring quotations in
their praise.

Page 211. "As the clergy, though few in comparison of the laity, were
the inventors of corruptions." His scheme is, that the fewer and poorer
the clergy the better, and the contrary among the laity. A noble
principle; and delicate consequences from it.

Page 207. "Men are not always condemned for the sake of opinions, but
opinions sometimes for the sake of men." And so, he hopes, that if his
opinions are condemned, people will think, it is a spite against him, as
having been always scandalous.

Page 210. "The meanest layman as good a judge as the greatest priest,
for the meanest man is as much interested in the truth of religion as
the greatest priest." As if one should say, the meanest sick man hath as
much interest in health as a physician, therefore is as good a judge of
physic as a physician, &c.

_Ibid_. "Had synods been composed of laymen, none of those corruptions
which tend to advance the interest of the clergy, &c." True, but the
part the laity had in reforming, was little more than plundering. He
should understand, that the nature of things is this, that the clergy
are made of men, and, without some encouragement, they will not have the
best, but the worst.

Page 215. "They who gave estates to, rather than they who took them
from, the clergy, were guilty of sacrilege." Then the people are the
Church, and the clergy not; another part of his scheme.

Page 219. "The clergy, as they subsisted by the alms of the people, &c."
This he would have still. Shew the folly of it. Not possible to shew any
civilized nation ever did it Who would be clergymen then? The absurdity
appears by putting the case, that none were to be statesmen, lawyers, or
physicians, but who were to subsist by alms.

Page 222. "These subtle clergymen work their designs, who lately cut out
such a tacking job for them, &c." He is mistaken--Everybody was for the
bill almost: though not for the tack. The Bishop of Sarum was for it, as
appears by his speech against it. But it seems, the tacking is owing to
metaphysical speculations. I wonder whether is most perplexed, this
author in his style, or the writings of our divines. In the judgment of
all people our divines have carried practical preaching and writing to
the greatest perfection it ever arrived to; which shews, that we may
affirm in general, our clergy is excellent, although this or that man be
faulty. As if an army be constantly victorious, regular, &c. we may say,
it is an excellent victorious army: But Tindal; to disparage it, would
say, such a serjeant ran away; such an ensign hid himself in a ditch;
nay, one colonel turned his back, therefore, it is a corrupt, cowardly
army, &c.

Page 224. "They were as apprehensive of the works of Aristotle, as some
men are of the works of a late philosopher, which, they are afraid, will
let too much light into the world." Yet just such, another; only a
commentator on Aristotle. People are likely to improve their
understanding much with Locke; It is not his "Human Understanding," but
other works that people dislike, although in that there are some
dangerous tenets, as that of [no] innate ideas.

Page 226. "Could they, like the popish priests, add to this a restraint
on the press, their business would be done." So it ought: For example,
to hinder his book, because it is written to justify the vices and
infidelity of the age. There can be no other design in it. For, is this
a way or manner to do good? Railing doth but provoke. The opinion of the
whole parliament is, the clergy are too poor.

_Ibid_. "When some nations could be no longer kept from prying into
learning, this miserable gibberish of the schools was contrived." We
have exploded schoolmen as much as he, and in some people's opinion too
much, since the liberty of embracing any opinion is allowed. They
following Aristotle, who is doubtless the greatest master of arguing in
the world: But it hath been a fashion of late years to explode
Aristotle, and therefore this man hath fallen into it like others, for
that reason, without understanding him. Aristotle's poetry, rhetoric,
and politics, are admirable, and therefore, it is likely, so are his

Page 230. "In these freer countries, as the clergy have less power, so
religion is better understood, and more useful and excellent discourses
are made on that subject, &c." Not generally. Holland not very famous,
Spain hath been, and France is. But it requireth more knowledge, than
his, to form general rules, which people strain (when ignorant) to false
deductions to make them out.

Page 232. Chap. VII. "That this hypothesis of an independent power in
any set of clergymen, makes all reformation unlawful, except where those
who have this power, do consent." The title of this chapter, A Truism.

Page 234. "If God has not placed mankind in respect to civil matters
under an absolute power, but has permitted them in every society to act
as they judge best for their own safety, &c." Bad parallels; bad
politics; want of due distinction between teaching and government. The
people may know when they are governed well, but not be wiser than their
instructors. Shew the difference.

_Ibid_. "If God has allowed the civil society these privileges can we
suppose He hath less kindness for His church, &c." Here they are
distinguished, then, here it makes for him. It is a sort of turn of
expression, which is scarce with him, and he contradicts himself to
follow it.

Page 235. "This cursed hypothesis had, perhaps, never been thought on
with relation to civils, had not the clergy (who have an inexhaustible
magazine of oppressive doctrines) contrived first in ecclesiasticals,
&c." The seventh paragraph furious and false. Were there no tyrants
before the clergy, &c.?

Page 236. "Therefore in order to serve them, though I expect little
thanks, &c." And, why so? Will they not, as you say, follow their
interest? I thought you said so. He has three or four sprightly turns of
this kind, that look, as if he thought he had done wonders, and had put
all the clergy in a ferment. Whereas, I do assure him, there are but two
things wonderful in his book: First, how any man in a Christian country
could have the boldness and wickedness to write it: And, how any
government would neglect punishing the author of it, if not as an enemy
of religion, yet a profligate trumpeter of sedition. These are hard
words, got by reading his book.

_Ibid_. "The light of nature as well as the Gospel, obliges people to
judge of themselves, &c. to avoid false prophets, seducers, &c." The
legislature can turn out a priest, and appoint another ready-made, but
not make one; as you discharge a physician, and may take a farrier; but
he is no physician, unless made as he ought to be.

_Ibid_. "Since no more power is required for the one than the other."
That is, I dislike my physician, and can turn him off, therefore I can
make any man a physician, &c. "_Cujus est destruere_, &c." Jest on it:
Therefore because he lays schemes for destroying the Church, we must
employ him to raise it again. See, what danger lies in applying maxims
at random. So, because it is the soldiers' business to knock men on the
head, it is theirs likewise to raise them to life, &c.

Page 237. "It can belong only to the people to appoint their own
ecclesiastical officers." This word "people" is so delicious in him,
that I cannot tell what is included in the idea of the "people." Doth he
mean the rabble or the legislature, &c. In this sense it may be true,
that the legislature giveth leave to the bishops to appoint, and they
appoint themselves, I mean, the executive power appoints, &c. He sheweth
his ignorance in government. As to High Church he carrieth it a
prodigious way, and includeth, in the idea of it, more than others will

Page 239 "Though it be customary to admit none to the ministry who are
not approved by the bishops or priests, &c." One of his principles to

_Ibid_ "If every one has not an inherent right to choose his own guide,
then a man must be either of the religion of his guide, or, &c." That
would make delicate work in a nation. What would become of all our
churches? They must dwindle into conventicles. Show what would be the
consequence of this scheme in several points. This great reformer, if
his projects were reduced to practice, how many thousand sects, and
consequently tumults, &c. Men must be governed in speculation, at least
not suffered to vent them, because opinions tend to actions, which are
most governed by opinions, &c. If those who write for the church writ
no better, they would succeed but scurvily. But to see whether he be a
good writer, let us see when he hath published his second part.

Page 253 "An excellent author in his preface to the Account of Denmark."
This man judgeth and writeth much of a level. Molesworth's preface full
of stale profligate topics. That author wrote his book in spite to a
nation, as this doth to religion, and both perhaps on poor personal

[Footnote 19: This was Robert, Viscount Molesworth (1656-1725), who
was born in Dublin, and educated at Trinity College there. He was
ambassador at Copenhagen, but had to resign on account of a dispute with
the Danish king. The "Account of Denmark," which he wrote on his
return, was answered by Dr. King. [T. S.]]

_Ibid_ "By which means, and not by any difference in speculative
matters, they are more rich and populous." As if ever anybody thought
that a difference in speculative opinions made men richer or poorer, for
example, &c.

Page 258 "Play the Devil for God's sake." If this is meant for wit, I
would be glad to observe it, but in such cases I first look whether
there be common sense, &c.

Page 261 "Christendom has been the scene of perpetual wars, massacres,
&c." He doth not consider that most religious wars have been caused by
schisms, when the dissenting parties were ready to join with any
ambitious discontented man. The national religion always desireth peace,
even in her notions, for its interests.

Page 270. "Some have taken the liberty to compare a high church priest
in politics to a monkey in a glass-shop, where, as he can do no good, so
he never fails of doing mischief enough." That is his modesty, it is his
own simile, and it rather fits a man that does so and so, (meaning
himself.) Besides the comparison is foolish: So it is with _men_, as
with _stags_.

Page 276. "Their interest obliges them directly to promote tyranny." The
matter is, that Christianity is the fault, which spoils the priests, for
they were like other men, before they were priests. Among the Romans,
priests did not do so; for they had the greatest power during the
republic. I wonder he did not prove they spoiled Nero.

Page 277. "No princes have been more insupportable and done greater
violence to the commonwealth than those the clergy have honoured for
saints and martyrs." For example in our country, the princes most
celebrated by our clergy are, &c. &c. &c. And the quarrels since the
Conquest were nothing at all of the clergy, but purely of families, &c.
wherein the clergy only joined like other men.

Page 279. "After the Reformation,[20]I desire to know whether the
conduct of the clergy was anyways altered for the better, &c." Monstrous
misrepresentation. Does this man's spirit of declaiming let him forget
all truth of fact, as here, &c.? Shew it. Or doth he flatter himself, a
time will come in future ages, that men will believe it on his word? In
short, between declaiming, between misrepresenting, and falseness, and
charging Popish things, and independency huddled together, his whole
book is employed.

[Footnote 20: "Reformation" in 4to and 8vo editions, but Tindal's word
is "Restoration." [T.S.]]

Set forth at large the necessity of union in religion, and the
disadvantage of the contrary, and answer the contrary in Holland, where
they have no religion, and are the worst constituted government in the
world to last. It is ignorance of causes and appearances which makes
shallow people judge so much to their advantage. They are governed by
the administration and almost legislature of Holland through advantage
of property; nor are they fit to be set in balance with a noble kingdom,
&c. like a man that gets a hundred pounds a year by hard labour, and one
that has it in land.

Page 280. "It may be worth enquiring, whether the difference between the
several sects in England, &c." A noble notion started, that union in the
Church must enslave the kingdom: reflect on it. This man hath somewhere
heard, that it is a point of wit to advance paradoxes, and the bolder
the better. But the wit lies in maintaining them, which he neglecteth,
and formeth imaginary conclusions from them, as if they were true and

He adds, "That in the best constituted Church, the greatest good which,
can be expected of the ecclesiastics, is from their divisions." This is
a maxim deduced from a gradation of false suppositions. If a man should
turn the tables, and argue that all the debauchery, atheism,
licentiousness, &c. of the times, were owing to the poverty of the
clergy, &c. what would he say? There have been more wars of religion
since the ruin of the clergy, than before, in England. All the civil
wars before were from other causes.

Page 283. "Prayers are made in the loyal university of Oxford, to
continue the throne free from the contagion of schism. See Mather's
sermon on the 29th of May, 1705." Thus he ridicules the university while
he is eating their bread. The whole university comes with the most loyal
addresses, yet that goes for nothing. If one indiscreet man drops an
indiscreet word, all must answer for it.

Page 286. "By allowing all, who hold no opinions prejudicial to the
state, and contribute equally with their fellow-subjects to its support,
equal privileges in it." But who denies that of the dissenters? The
Calvinist scheme, one would not think, proper for monarchy. Therefore,
they fall in with the Scotch, Geneva, and Holland; and when they had
strength here, they pulled down the monarchy. But I will tell an opinion
they hold prejudicial to the state in his opinion; and that is, that
they are against toleration, of which, if I do not shew him ten times
more instances from their greatest writers, than he can do of passive
obedience among the clergy, I have done.

"Does not justice demand, that they who alike contribute to the burden,
should alike receive the advantage?" Here is another of his maxims
closely put without considering what exceptions may be made. The Papists
have contributed doubly (being so taxed) therefore by this rule they
ought to have double advantage. Protection in property, leave to trade
and purchase, &c. are enough for a government to give. Employments in a
state are a reward for those who entirely agree with it, &c. For
example, a man, who upon all occasions declared his opinion of a
commonwealth to be preferable to a monarchy, would not be a fit man to
have employments; let him enjoy his opinion, but not be in a capacity of
reducing it to practice, &c.

Page 287. "There can be no alteration in the established mode of Church
discipline, which is not made in a legal way." Oh, but there are several
methods to compass this legal way, by cunning, faction, industry. The
common people, he knows, may be wrought upon by priests; these may
influence the faction, and so compass a very pernicious law, and in a
legal way ruin the state; as King Charles I. began to be ruined in a
legal way, by passing bills, &c.

Page 288. "As everything is persecution, which puts a man in a worse
condition than his neighbours." It is hard to think sometimes whether
this man is hired to write for or against dissenters and the sects. This
is their opinion, although they will not own it so roundly. Let this be
brought to practice: Make a quaker lord chancellor, who thinketh paying
tithes unlawful. And bring other instances to shew that several
employments affect the Church.

_Ibid_. "Great advantage which both Church and state have got by the
kindness already shewn to dissenters." Let them then be thankful for
that. We humour children for their good sometimes, but too much may
hurt. Observe that this 64th paragraph just contradicts the former. For,
if we have advantage by kindness shewn dissenters, then there is no
necessity of banishment, or death.

Page 290. "Christ never designed the holy Sacrament should be
prostituted to serve a party. And that people should be bribed by a
place to receive unworthily." Why, the business is, to be sure, that
those who are employed are of the national church; and the way to know
it is by receiving the sacrament, which all men ought to do in their own
church; and if not, are hardly fit for an office; and if they have those
moral qualifications he mentioneth, joined to religion, no fear of
receiving unworthily. And for this there might be a remedy: To take an
oath, that they are of the same principles, &c. for that is the end of
receiving; and that it might be no bribe, the bill against occasional
conformity would prevent entirely.

_Ibid_. "Preferring men not for their capacity, but their zeal to the
Church." The misfortune is, that if we prefer dissenters to great posts,
they will have an inclination to make themselves the national church,
and so there will be perpetual struggling; which case may be dangerous
to the state. For men are naturally wishing to get over others to their
own opinion: Witness this writer, who hath published as singular and
absurd notions as possible, yet hath a mighty zeal to bring us over to
them, &c.

Page 292. Here are two pages of scurrilous faction, with a deal of
reflections on great persons. Under the notion of High-Churchmen, he
runs down all uniformity and church government. Here is the whole Lower
House of Convocation, which represents the body of the clergy and both
universities, treated with rudeness by an obscure, corrupt member, while
he is eating their bread.

Page 294. "The reason why the middle sort of people retain so much of
their ancient virtue &c. is because no such pernicious notions are the
ingredients of their education; which 'tis a sign are infinitely absurd,
when so many of the gentry and nobility can, notwithstanding their
prepossession, get clear of them." Now the very same argument lies
against religion, morality, honour, and honesty, which are, it seems,
but prejudices of education, and too many get clear of them. The middle
sort of people have other things to mind than the factions of the age.
He always assigneth many causes, and sometimes with reason, since he
maketh imaginary effects. He quarrels at power being lodged in the
clergy: When there is no reasonable Protestant, clergy, or laity, who
will not readily own the inconveniences by too great power and wealth,
in any one body of men, ecclesiastics, or seculars: But on that account
to weed up the wheat with the tares; to banish all religion, because it
is capable of being corrupted; to give unbounded licence to all sects,
&c.--And if heresies had not been used with some violence in the
primitive age, we should have had, instead of true religion, the most
corrupt one in the world.

Page 316. "The Dutch, and the rest of our presbyterian allies, &c." The
Dutch will hardly thank him for this appellation. The French Huguenots,
and Geneva Protestants themselves, and others, have lamented the want of
episcopacy, and approved ours, &c. In this and the next paragraph, the
author introduceth the arguments he formerly used, when he turned papist
in King James's time; and loth to lose them, he gives them a new turn;
and they are the strongest In his book, at least have most artifice.

Page 333. "'Tis plain, all the power the bishops have, is derived from
the people, &c." In general the distinction lies here. The permissive
power of exercising jurisdiction, lies in the people, or legislature, or
administrator of a kingdom; but not of making him a bishop. As a
physician that commenceth abroad, may be suffered to practise in London
or be hindered; but they have not the power of creating him a doctor,
which is peculiar to a university. This is some allusion; but the thing
is plain, as it seemeth to me, and wanteth no subterfuge, &c.

Page 338. "A journeyman bishop to ordain for him." Doth any man think,
that writing at this rate, does the author's cause any service? Is it
his wit or his spleen that he cannot govern?

Page 364. "Can any have a right to an office without having a right to
do those things in which the office consists?" I answer, the ordination
is valid. But a man may prudentially forbid to do some things. As a
clergyman may marry without licence or banns; the marriage is good; yet
he is punishable for it.

Page 368. "A choice made by persons who have no right to choose, is an
error of the first concoction." That battered simile again; this is
hard. I wish the physicians had kept that a secret, it lieth so ready
for him to be witty with.

Page 370. "If prescription can make mere nullities to become good and
valid, the laity may be capable of all manner of ecclesiastical power,
&c." There is a difference; for here the same way is kept, although
there might be breaches; but it is quite otherwise, if you alter the
whole method from what it was at first. We see bishops: There always
were bishops: It is the old way still. So a family is still held the
same, although we are not sure of the purity of every one of the race.

Page 380. "It is said, That every nation is not a complete body politic
within itself as to ecclesiasticals. But the whole church, say they,
composes such a body, and Christ is the head of it. But Christ's
headship makes Christians no more one body politic with respect to
ecclesiasticals than to civils." Here we must shew the reason and
necessity of the Church being a corporation all over the world: To avoid
heresies, and preserve fundamentals, and hinder corrupting of Scripture,
&c. But there are no such necessities in government, to be the same
everywhere, &c. It is something like the colleges in a university; they
all are independent, yet, joined, are one body. So a general council
consisteth of many persons independent of one another, &c.

However there is such a thing as _jus gentium_, &c. And he that is
doctor of physic, or law, is so in any university of Europe, like the
_Respublica Literaria_. Nor to me does there seem anything
contradicting, or improper in this notion of the Catholic Church; and
for want of such a communion, religion is so much corrupted, and would
be more, if there were [not] more communion in this than in civils. It
is of no import to mankind how nations are governed; but the preserving
the purity of religion is best held up by endeavouring to make it one
body over the world. Something like as there is in trade. So to be able
to communicate with all Christians we come among, is at least to be
wished and aimed at as much as we can.

Page 384. "In a word, if the bishops are not supreme, &c." Here he
reassumeth his arguments for Popery, that there cannot be a body politic
of the Church through the whole world, without a visible head to have
recourse to. These were formerly writ to advance Popery, and now to put
an absurdity upon the hypothesis of a Catholic Church. As they say in
Ireland, in King James's time, they built mass-houses, which we make
very good barns of.

Page 388. "Bishops are, under a _premunire_ obliged to confirm and
consecrate the person named in the _congé d'Élire_." This perhaps is
complained of. He is permitted to do it. We allow the legislature may
hinder if they please; as they may turn out Christianity, if they think

Page 389. "It is the magistrate who empowers them to do more for other
bishops than they can for themselves, since they cannot appoint their
own successors." Yes they could, if the magistrate would let them. Here
is an endless splutter, and a parcel of perplexed distinctions upon no
occasion. All that the clergy pretend to, is a right of qualifying men
for the ministry, something like what a university doth with degrees.
This power they claim from God, and that the civil power cannot do it as
pleasing to God without them; but they may choose whether they will
suffer it or no. A religion cannot be crammed down a nation's throat
against their will; but when they receive a religion, it is supposed
they receive as their converters give it; and, upon that foot, they
cannot justly mingle their own methods, that contradict that religion,

Page 390. "With us the bishops act only ministerially and by virtue of
the regal commission, by which the prince firmly enjoins and commands
them to proceed in choosing, confirming, and consecrating, &c." Suppose
we held it unlawful to do so: How can we help it? but does that make it
rightful, if it be not so? Suppose the author lived in a heathen
country, where a law would be made to call Christianity idolatrous;
would that be a topic for him to prove it so by, &c.? And why do the
clergy incur a _pre-munire;_--To frighten them--Because the law
understandeth, that, if they refuse, the chosen cannot be a bishop: But,
if the clergy had an order to do it otherwise than they have prescribed,
they ought and would incur an hundred rather.

Page 402. "I believe the Catholic Church, &c." Here he ridicules the
Apostles' Creed.--Another part of his scheme.--By what he says in these
pages, it is certain, his design is either to run down Christianity, or
set up Popery; the latter it is more charitable to think, and, from his
past life, highly probable.

Page 405. "That which gave the Papists so great advantage was,
clergymen's talking so very inconsistent with themselves, &c." State the
difference here between our separation from Rome, and the dissenters
from us, and shew the falseness of what he sayeth. I wish he would tell
us what he leaveth for a clergyman to do, if he may not instruct the
people in religion, and if they should not receive his instructions.

Page 411. "The restraint of the press a badge of Popery." Why is that a
badge of Popery? Why not restrain the press to those who would confound
religion, as in civil matters? But this toucheth himself. He would
starve, perhaps, &c, Let him get some honester livelihood then. It is
plain, all his arguments against constraint, &c. favour the papists as
much as dissenters; for both have opinions that may affect the peace of
the state.

Page 413. "Since this discourse, &c." And must we have another volume on
this one subject of independency? Or, is it to fright us? I am not of
Dr. Hickes's mind, _Qu'il venge_. I pity the readers, and the clergy
that must answer it, be it ever so insipid. Reflect on his sarcastic
conclusion, &c.

*****       *****       *****       *****




B---P OF S----M'S



AT the time of writing this scathing piece of invective, Swift was busy
dealing out to an old friend a similar specimen of his terrible power of
rejoinder. Steele, in the newly established "Guardian," as Mr. Churton
Collins well puts it, "drunk with party spirit, had so far forgotten
himself as to insert ... a coarse and ungenerous reflection on Swift."
Swift sought an explanation through Addison, but Steele's egotism was
stronger than the feeling of friendship, and the insult remained for
Swift to wipe out in "The Importance of the 'Guardian' Considered."
Probably this severance from his friend, due to political
differences--for Steele glowed in Whiggism--deepened, if possible, his
hatred to Whigs of whatever degree; and in Burnet he found another
object for his wit. But apart from such a suggestion, there was enough
in the Bishop's attitude towards the Tories to rouse Swift to his task.
It was not enough that Burnet should accuse his political opponents of
sympathy with the French, Jacobitism, and Popery, but he must needs
flaunt his vanity in issuing, in advance, for purposes of advertisement,
the introduction to a work which was to come later. This was enough for
Swift, and the prelate who "could smell popery at five hundred miles
distance better than fanaticism under his nose," became the recipient of
one of the most amusing and yet most virulent attacks which even that
controversial age produced. "The whole pamphlet," Mr. Collins truly
says, "is inimitable. Its irony, its humour, its drollery, are

It must not, however, be imagined that Swift's opinion of Burnet is only
that which can be gathered from this "Preface." He fully appreciated the
sterling qualities of scholarship and good nature, since in his
"Remarks" on Burnet's "History of My Own Time," he says: "after all he
was a man of generosity and good nature, and very communicative; but in
his last ten years was absolutely party-mad, and fancied he saw Popery
under every bush." Lord Dartmouth has left an excellent sketch of
Burnet's character in a note to the "History of My Own Time": "Bishop
Burnet was a man of the most extensive knowledge I ever met with; had
read and seen a great deal, with a prodigious memory, and a very
indifferent judgment: he was extremely partial, and readily took
everything for granted that he heard to the prejudice of those he did
not like: which made him pass for a man of less truth than he really
was. I do not think he designedly published anything he believed to be
false. He had a boisterous, vehement manner of expressing himself, which
often made him ridiculous, especially in the House of Lords, when what
he said would not have been thought so, delivered in a lower voice, and
a calmer behaviour. His vast knowledge occasioned his frequent rambling
from the point he was speaking to, which ran him into discourses of so
universal a nature, that there was no end to be expected but from a
failure of his strength and spirits, of both which he had a larger share
than most men; which were accompanied with a most invincible assurance."
(Note to the Preface of Burnet's "History of My Own Time," vol. i. p.
xxxiii, Oxford, 1897.)

It may not be altogether out of place to give here a short biographical
sketch of Bishop Burnet.

Gilbert Burnet was born at Edinburgh in 1643. He studied first at
Aberdeen and then in Holland. In 1665, after he was elected a Fellow of
the Royal Society, he entered holy orders, became vicar of Saltoun, and,
in 1669, professor of divinity at Glasgow. The year 1673 found him in
London, engaged on his "History of the Reformation," and fulfilling the
duties of chaplain to the king, preacher to the Rolls, and lecturer of
St. Clement's. The "Reformation" appeared in three folio volumes; the
first in 1679, the second in 1681, and the third in 1714. He had already
written the "Lives of the Dukes of Hamilton," the "Life of Sir Matthew
Hale," and a "Life of the Earl of Rochester." Getting into some
political trouble he was deprived of his offices, and left England for
the continent. After travelling in France he settled in Holland, and
married a Dutch lady. When the Prince of Orange came to England to
assume the government of the country, Burnet accompanied him, and in
1689 was installed into the bishopric of Salisbury. Evidently he had too
zealous a sentiment for William and Mary, for his pastoral letter to the
clergy of his diocese, commenting on the new sovereign, was condemned by
the parliament, and ordered to be burnt by the common hangman. He
married again, on the death of his Dutch wife, a rich widow, Mrs.
Berkeley, who was his third spouse--hence Swift's caustic reference. He
died March 17th, 1714-15. In addition to his histories of the
Reformation and his own times, he wrote an "Exposition of the
Thirty-Nine Articles" (1699), the "Life of Bishop Bedell" and the other
lives already named, and several sermons and controversial pieces.

The text of this pamphlet is that of the first edition, collated with,
those given by Faulkner, Hawkesworth, the "Miscellanies" of 1745, and
Scott. It was originally published in 1713.


  T O   T H E
  B--p of S--r--m's
  To the Third Volume of the
  History of the Reformation
  of the
  Church of _England_.


_----Spargere voces
  In vulgum ambiguas; & quaerere confcius arma._

The Second Edition


Printed for _John Morphew, _near _Stationers Hall_. 1713. Price



Your care in putting an advertisement in the _EXAMINER_ has been of
great use to me. I do now send you my Preface to the B----p of
S----r----m's INTRODUCTION to his third volume, which I desire you to
print in such a form, as in the bookseller's phrase will make a sixpenny
touch; hoping it will give such a public notice of my design, that it
may come into the hands of those who perhaps look not into the B----p's
Introduction. I desire you will prefix to this a passage out of Virgil,
which does so perfectly agree with my present thoughts of his
L----dsh----p, that I cannot express them better, nor more truly, than
those words do.

I am, Sir,

Your most humble servant,


[Footnote 1: Mr. Nichols quotes from the "Speculum Sarisburianum," "That
the frequent and hasty repetitions of such prefaces and introductions,
no less than three new ones in about one year's time, beside an old
serviceable one republished concerning persecution--are preludes to
other practical things, beside pastoral cares, sermons, and histories."
[T. S.]]

[Footnote 2: This preface "to the bookseller" is in imitation of the
bishop's own preface to the bookseller in the "Introduction," which was
signed "G. Sarum." [T. S.]]

This way of publishing introductions to books that are, God knows when,
to come out, is either wholly new, or so long unpractised, that my small
reading cannot trace it. However we are to suppose, that a person of his
Lordship's great age and experience, would hardly act such a piece of
singularity without some extraordinary motives. I cannot but observe,
that his fellow-labourer, the author of the paper called _The
Englishman_,[3] seems, in some of his late performances, to have almost
transcribed the notions of the Bishop: these notions, I take to have
been dictated by the same masters, leaving to each writer that peculiar
manner of expressing himself, which the poverty of our language forces
me to call their style. When the _Guardian_ changed his title, and
professed to engage in faction, I was sure the word was given, that
grand preparations were making against next sessions; that all
advantages would be taken of the little dissensions reported to be among
those in power; and that the _Guardian_ would soon be seconded by some
other piqueerers[4] from the same camp. But I will confess, my
suspicions did not carry me so far as to conjecture that this venerable
champion would be in such mighty haste to come into the field, and serve
in the quality of an _enfant perdu_,[5] armed only with a pocket pistol,
before his great blunderbuss could be got ready, his old rusty
breastplate scoured, and his cracked headpiece mended.

[Footnote 3: Steele.]

[Footnote 4: Piqueerer = pickeerer (modern) = a marauder, a skirmisher
in advance of an army. From French _picorer_ = to maraud. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: _Enfant perdu_, one of the advanced guard; or, as
Hawkesworth notes it, "one of the forlorn hope." [T.S.]]

I was debating with myself, whether this hint of producing a small
pamphlet to give notice of a large folio, was not borrowed from the
ceremonial in Spanish romances, where a dwarf is sent out upon the
battlements to signify to all passengers, what a mighty giant there is
in the castle; or whether the Bishop copied this proceeding from the
_fanfarronade_ of Monsieur Boufflers, when the Earl of Portland and that
general had an interview. Several men were appointed at certain periods
to ride in great haste toward the English camp, and cry out,
_Monseigneur vient, Monseigneur vient:_ Then, small parties advanced
with the same speed and the same cry, and this foppery held for many
hours, until the mareschal himself arrived. So here, the Bishop (as we
find by his dedication to Mr. Churchill the bookseller) has for a long
time sent warning of his arrival by advertisements in _Gazettes_, and
now his Introduction advances to tell us again, _Monseigneur vient:_ In
the mean time, we must gape and wait and gaze the Lord knows how long,
and keep our spirits in some reasonable agitation, until his Lordship's
real self shall think fit to appear in the habit of a folio.

I have seen the same sort of management at a puppet-show. Some puppets
of little or no consequence appeared several times at the window to
allure the boys and the rabble: The trumpeter sounded often, and the
doorkeeper cried a hundred times till he was hoarse, that they were just
going to begin; yet after all, we were forced sometimes to wait an hour
before Punch himself in person made his entry.

But why this ceremony among old acquaintance? The world and he have long
known one another: Let him appoint his hour and make his visit, without
troubling us all day with a succession of messages from his laqueys and

With submission, these little arts of getting off an edition, do ill
become any author above the size of Marten[6] the surgeon. My Lord tells
us, that "many thousands of the two former parts of his History are in
the kingdom,"[7] and now he perpetually advertises in the gazette, that
he intends to publish the third: This is exactly in the method and style
of Marten: "The seventh edition (many thousands of the former editions
having been sold off in a small time) of Mr. Marten's book concerning
secret diseases," &c.

[Footnote 6: This is John Marten, the author of two treatises on the
gout, and a "Treatise of all the Degrees and Symptoms of the Venereal
Disease" (1708?-9). His notoriety brought on him the ire of a "licens'd
practitioner in physick and surgery," one J. Spinke, who, in a pamphlet
entitled "Quackery Unmask'd" (1709), dealt Marten some most uncourteous
blows. From the pamphlet, it is difficult to judge whether Spinke or
Marten were the greater quack; we should judge the former. Certainly
Marten deserves our sympathy, if only for Spinke's virulence. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: Page 26.]

Does his Lordship intend to publish his great volume by subscription,
and is this Introduction only by way of specimen? I was inclined to
think so, because, in the prefixed letter to Mr. Churchill, which
introduces this Introduction, there are some dubious expressions: He
says, "the advertisements he published were in order to move people to
furnish him with materials, which might help him to finish his work with
great advantage." If he means half-a-guinea upon the subscription, and
t'other half at the delivery, why does he not tell us so in plain terms?

I am wondering how it came to pass, that this diminutive letter to Mr.
Churchill should understand the business of introducing better than the
Introduction itself; or why the Bishop did not take it into his head to
send the former into the world some months before the latter; which
would have been a greater improvement upon the solemnity of the

Since I writ these last lines, I have perused the whole pamphlet (which
I had only dipped in before) and found I have been hunting upon a wrong
scent; for the author hath in several parts of his piece, discovered the
true motives which put him upon sending it abroad at this juncture; I
shall therefore consider them as they come in my way.

My Lord begins his Introduction with an account of the reasons why he
was guilty of so many mistakes in the first volume of his "History of
the Reformation:" His excuses are just, rational, and extremely
consistent. He says, "he wrote in haste,"[8] which he confirms by
adding, "that it lay a year after he wrote it before it was put into the
press:"[9] At the same time he mentioned a passage extremely to the
honour of that pious and excellent prelate, Archbishop Sancroft, which
demonstrates his Grace to have been a person of great sagacity, and
almost a prophet. Dr. Burnet, then a private divine, "desired admittance
to the Cotton library, but was prevented by the archbishop, who told Sir
John Cotton, that the said doctor was no friend to the prerogative of
the crown, nor to the constitution of the kingdom." This judgment was
the more extraordinary, because the doctor had not long before published
a book in Scotland, with his name prefixed, which carries the regal
prerogative higher than any writer of the age:[10] however, the good
archbishop lived to see his opinion become universal in the kingdom.

[Footnote 8: Page 6.]

[Footnote 9: Page 10.]

[Footnote 10: This was Burnet's "Vindication of the Authority,
Constitution, and Laws of the Church and State of Scotland," dedicated
to the Duke of Lauderdale, and published in 1672. The dedication
contains an eulogium of the duke, and the work a defence of episcopacy
and monarchy against Buchanan and his followers. At a later period, the
author did not probably recollect this juvenile publication with, much

It is somewhat remarkable to see the progress of this story. In the
first edition of this "Introduction," it should seem, "he was prevented
by the Archbishop," &c. When the "Introduction" was reprinted a year
after with the "History," it stands: "A great prelate had been
beforehand and possessed him [Sir John Cotton] against me--That unless
the Archbishop of Canterbury would recommend me--he desired to be
excused--The Bishop of Worcester could not prevail on the Archbishop to
interpose." This is somewhat less than preventing, unless the Archbishop
be meant by the "great prelate." Which is not very probable. 1. Because
in the Preface to this very third volume, p. 4, he says, "It was by
Archbishop Sancroft's order he had the free use of everything that lay
in the Lambeth Library." 2. Because the Author of "Speculum
Sarisburianum" (p. 6), tells us, "His access to the Library was owing
solely to the recommendation of Archbishop Sancroft, as I have been
informed by some of the family." 3. Because Bishop Burnet, in his
"History of My Own Times," vol. i. p. 396, says it was "Dolben, Bishop
of Rochester (at the instigation of the Duke of Lauderdale), that
diverted Sir John Cotton from suffering me to search his Library."
["Miscellanies," vol. viii. 1745.]]

The Bishop goes on for many pages, with an account of certain facts
relating to the publishing of his two former volumes of the Reformation,
the great success of that work, and the adversaries who appeared against
it. These are matters out of the way of my reading; only I observe that
poor Mr. Henry Wharton,[11] who has deserved so well of the commonwealth
of learning, and who gave himself the trouble of detecting some hundreds
of the Bishop's mistakes, meets with very ill quarter from his Lordship.
Upon which I cannot avoid mentioning a peculiar method which this
prelate takes to revenge himself upon those who presume to differ from
him in print. The Bishop of Rochester[12] happened some years ago to be
of this number. My Lord of Sarum in his reply ventured to tell the
world, that the gentleman who had writ against him, meaning Dr
Atterbury, was one upon whom he had conferred great obligations; which
was a very generous Christian contrivance of charging his adversary with
ingratitude. But it seems the truth happened to be on the other side;
which the doctor made appear in such a manner as would have silenced his
Lordship for ever, if he had not been writing proof. Poor Mr. Wharton in
his grave is charged with the same accusation, but with circumstances
the most aggravating that malice and something else could invent[13];
and which I will no more believe than five hundred passages in a certain
book of travels[14]. See the character he gives of a divine, and a
scholar, who shortened his life in the service of God and the church.
"Mr. Wharton desired me to intercede with Tillotson for a prebend of
Canterbury. I did so, but Wharton would not believe it; said he would be
revenged, and so writ against me. Soon after he was convinced I had
spoke for him, said he was set on to do what he did, and, if I would
procure any thing for him, he would discover every thing to me[15]."
What a spirit of candour, charity, and good nature, generosity, and
truth, shines through this story, told of a most excellent and pious
divine, twenty years after his death, without one single voucher[16]!

[Footnote 11: Henry Wharton (1664-1694-5), a divine, born at Worstead,
Norfolk, and educated at Cambridge. Became chaplain to Archbishop
Sancroft in 1688, and then rector of Chartham. Wrote "A Treatise on the
Celibacy of the Clergy;" "The Enthusiasm of the Church of Rome
demonstrated in the Life of Ignatius Loyola;" "A Defence of
Pluralities;" "Specimen of Errors in Burnet's 'History of the
Reformation;'" "Anglia Sacra, sive Collectio Historiarum;" and "History
of Archbishop Laud." The criticism on Burnet's "History" was written
under the _nom de guerre_ of Anthony Farmar. [T. S.]]

[Footnote 12: Dr. Atterbury.]

[Footnote 13: Page 22.]

[Footnote 14: Burnet's "Travels."]

[Footnote 15: Page 23.]

[Footnote 16: Burnet's account of this matter was reprinted in the
Preface to his "History of the Reformation," and it contains also the
bishop's rejoinder against Wharton's method of criticism in the
"Specimen": "He had examined the dark ages before the Reformation with
much diligence, and so knew many things relating to those times beyond
any man of the age; he pretended that he had many more errors in
reserve, and that this specimen was only a hasty collection of a few,
out of many other discoveries he could make. This consisted of some
trifling and minute differences in some dates and transactions of no
importance, upon which nothing depended; so I cannot tell whether I took
these too easily from printed books, or if I committed any errors in my
notes taken in the several offices. He likewise follows me through the
several recapitulations I had made of the state of things before the
Reformation, and finds errors and omissions in most of these; he adds
some things out of papers I had never seen. The whole was writ with so
much malice, and such contempt, that I must give some account of the
man, and of his motives. He had expressed great zeal against popery, in
the end of King James's reign, being then chaplain to Archbishop
Sancroft, who, as he said, had promised him the first of those prebends
of Canterbury that should fall in his gift: for when he saw that the
archbishop was resolved not to take the oaths, but to forsake the post,
he made an earnest application to me, to secure that for him at
Archbishop Tillotson's hands. I pressed him in it as much as was decent
for me to do, but he said he would not encourage these aspiring men, by
promising any thing, before it should fall; as indeed none of them fell
during his time. Wharton, upon this answer, thought I had neglected him,
looking on it as a civil denial, and said he would be revenged; and so
he published that specimen: upon which, I, in a letter that I printed,
addressed to the present Bishop of Worcester, charged him again and
again to bring forth all that he pretended to have reserved at that
time, for, till that was done, I would not enter upon the examination of
that specimen. It was received with contempt, and Tillotson justified my
pressing him to take Wharton under his particular protection so fully,
that he sent and asked me pardon. He said he was set on to it; and that,
if I would procure any thing for him, he would discover any thing to me.
I despised that offer, but said that I would at any price buy of him
those discoveries that he pretended to have in reserve. But Mr. Chiswell
(at whose house he then lay) being sick, said he could draw nothing of
that from him, and he believed he had nothing. He died about a year
after."--BURNET'S _History of the Reformation_ III, vii. [T. S.]]

Come we now to the reasons, which moved his lordship to set about this
work at this time. He "could delay it no longer, because the reasons of
his engaging in it at first seem to return upon him[17]." He was then
frightened with "the danger of a popish successor in view, and the
dreadful apprehensions of the power of France. England has forgot these
dangers, and yet is nearer to them than ever[18]," and therefore he is
resolved to "awaken them" with his third volume; but in the mean time,
sends this Introduction to let them know they are asleep. He then goes
on in describing the condition of the kingdom[19], after such a manner
as if destruction hung over us by a single hair; as if the Pope, the
devil, the Pretender, and France, were just at our doors.

[Footnote 17: Page 27.]

[Footnote 18: Page 28.]

[Footnote 19: Page 28.]

When the Bishop published his History, there was a popish plot on foot,
the Duke of York a known papist was presumptive heir to the crown, the
House of Commons would not hear of any expedient for securing their
religion under a popish prince, nor would the King or Lords, consent to
a bill of exclusion: The French King was in the height of his grandeur,
and the vigour of his age. At this day the presumptive heir, with that
whole illustrious family, are Protestants, the Popish Pretender excluded
for ever by several acts of Parliament, and every person in the smallest
employment, as well as the members in both Houses, obliged to abjure
him. The French King is at the lowest ebb of life; his armies have been
conquered and his towns won from him for ten years together, and his
kingdom is in danger of being torn by divisions during a long minority.
Are these cases parallel? Or are we now in more danger of France and
popery than we were thirty years ago? What can be the motive for
advancing such false, such detestable assertions? What conclusions would
his Lordship draw from such premises as these? If injurious appellations
were of any advantage to a cause, (as the style of our adversaries would
make us believe) what appellations would those deserve who thus
endeavour to sow the seeds of sedition, and are impatient to see the
fruits? "But," saith he[20], "the deaf adder stops her ear let the
charmer charm never so wisely." True, my Lord, there are indeed too many
adders in this nation's bosom, adders in all shapes, and in all habits,
whom neither the Queen nor parliament can charm to loyalty, truth,
religion, or honour.

[Footnote 20: Page 28.] Among other instances produced by him of the
dismal condition we are in, he offers one which could not easily be
guessed. It is this: That the little factious pamphlets written about
the end of King Charles II's reign, "lie dead in shops, are looked on as
waste paper, and turned to pasteboard." How many are there of his
Lordship's writings which could otherwise never have been of any real
service to the public? Has he indeed so mean an opinion of our taste, to
send us at this time of day into all the corners of Holborn, Duck Lane,
and Moorfields, in quest after the factious trash published in those
days by Julian Johnson, Hickeringil, Dr. Oates, and himself[21]?

[Footnote 21: The Rev. Samuel Johnson,  degraded from his clerical
rank, scourged, and imprisoned, for a work called "Julian's Arts to
undermine Christianity," in which he drew a parallel between that
apostate and James, then Duke of York. [S.]

Edmund Hickeringil, a fanatic preacher at Colchester. He appears, from
the various pamphlets which he wrote during the reigns of Charles II.
and his brother, to have been a meddling crazy fool. He was born in
Essex, 1630, and was educated at Cambridge. He entered the army, and
went to Jamaica, of which place he wrote a very curious account.
Afterwards he entered holy orders, and became rector of All Saints,
Colchester. He was a most eccentric individual. [T. S.]]

His Lordship, taking it for a _postulatum_, that the Queen and ministry,
both Houses of Parliament, and a vast majority of the landed gentlemen
throughout England are running headlong into Popery, lays hold on the
occasion to describe "the cruelties in Queen Mary's reign, an
inquisition setting up faggots in Smithfield, and executions all over
the kingdom. Here is that" (says he) "which those that look toward a
popish successor must look for."[22] And he insinuates through his whole
pamphlet, that all who are not of his party, "look toward a popish
successor." These he divides into two parts, the Tory laity, and the
Tory clergy. He tells the former, though they have no religion at all,
but "resolve to change with every wind and tide; yet they ought to have
compassion on their countrymen and kindred."[23] Then he applies himself
to the Tory clergy, assures them, that "the fires revived in Smithfield,
and all over the nation, will have no amiable view; but least of all to
them, who if they have any principle at all, must be turned out of their
livings, leave their families, be hunted from place to place into parts
beyond the seas, and meet with that contempt with which they treated
foreigners who took sanctuary among us."

[Footnote 22: Page 36.]

[Footnote 23: Page 36.]

This requires a recapitulation, with some remarks. First, I do affirm,
that of every hundred professed atheists, deists, and socinians in the
kingdom, ninety-nine at least are staunch thorough-paced Whigs, entirely
agreeing with his Lordship in politics and discipline; and therefore
will venture all the fires of hell, rather than singe one hair of their
beards in Smithfield. Secondly, I do likewise affirm, that those whom we
usually understand by the appellation of Tory or high-church clergy,
were the greatest sticklers against the exorbitant proceedings of King
James, the best writers against popery, and the most exemplary sufferers
for the established religion. Thirdly, I do pronounce it to be a most
false and infamous scandal upon the nation in general, and on the clergy
in particular, to reproach them for "treating foreigners with
haughtiness and contempt:" The French Huguenots are many thousand
witnesses to the contrary; and I wish they deserved a thousandth part of
the good treatment they have received.[24]

[Footnote 24: Swift's disparaging reference to the Huguenots must be put
down to the fact that he included them among Dissenters, on account of
their Calvinism. [T. S.]]

Lastly, I observe that the author of the paper called _The Englishman_,
hath run into the same cant, gravely advising the whole body of the
clergy not to bring in Popery, because that will put them under a
necessity of parting with their wives, or losing their livings.

The bulk of the kingdom, both clergy and laity, happens to differ
extremely from this prelate, in many principles both of politics and
religion: Now I ask, whether if any man of them had signed his name to a
system of atheism, or Popery, he could have argued with them otherwise
than he does? Or, if I should write a grave letter to his Lordship with
the same advice, taking it for granted that he was half an atheist, and
half a papist, and conjuring him by all he held dear to have compassion
upon all those who believed a God, "not to revive the fires in
Smithfield," that he must either forfeit his bishopric, or not marry a
fourth wife;[25] I ask whether he would not think I intended him the
highest injury and affront?

[Footnote 25: Bishop Burnet had already been married three times. [T.

But as to the Tory laity; he gives them up in a lump for abandoned
atheists: They are a set of men so "impiously corrupted in the point of
religion, that no scene of cruelty can fright them from leaping into it
[Popery] and perhaps acting such a part in it, as may be assigned
them."[26] He therefore despairs of influencing them by any topics drawn
from religion or compassion, and advances the consideration of interest,
as the only powerful argument to persuade them against Popery.

[Footnote 26: Page 37.]

What he offers upon this head is so very amazing from a Christian, a
clergyman, and a prelate of the Church of England, that I must in my own
imagination strip him of those three capacities, and put him among the
number of that set of men he mentions in the paragraph before; or else
it will be impossible to shape out an answer.

His Lordship, in order to dissuade the Tories from their design of
bringing in Popery, tells them, "how valuable a part of the whole soil
of England, the abbey lands, the estates of the bishops, of the
cathedrals, and the tithes are;"[27] how difficult such "a resumption
would be to many families; yet all these must be thrown up; for
sacrilege in the church of Rome, is a mortal sin." I desire it may be
observed, what a jumble here is made of ecclesiastical revenues, as if
they were all upon the same foot, were alienated with equal justice, and
the clergy had no more reason to complain of the one than the other.
Whereas the four branches mentioned by him are of very different
consideration. If I might venture to guess the opinion of the clergy
upon this matter, I believe they could wish that some small part of the
abbey lands had been applied to the augmentation of poor bishoprics, and
a very few acres to serve for glebes in those parishes where there are
none; after which I think they would not repine that the laity should
possess the rest. If the estates of some bishops and cathedrals were
exorbitant before the Reformation, I believe the present clergy's wishes
reach no further than that some reasonable temper had been used, instead
of paring them to the quick: But as to the tithes, without examining
whether they be of divine institution, I conceive there is hardly one of
that sacred order in England, and very few even among the laity that
love the Church, who will not allow the misapplying of those revenues to
secular persons, to have been at first a most flagrant act of injustice
and oppression: Though at the same time, God forbid they should be
restored any other way than by gradual purchase, by the consent of those
who are now the lawful possessors, or by the piety and generosity of
such worthy spirits as this nation sometimes produceth. The Bishop knows
very well that the application of tithes to the maintenance of
monasteries, was a scandalous usurpation even in popish times: That the
monks usually sent out some of their fraternity to supply the cures; and
that when the monasteries were granted away by Henry VIII., the parishes
were left destituted, or very meanly provided of any maintenance for a
pastor: So that in many places, the whole ecclesiastical dues, even to
mortuaries, Easter-offerings, and the like, are in lay hands, and the
incumbent lies wholly at the mercy of his patron for his daily bread. By
these means there are several hundred parishes in England under £20 a
year, and many under ten. I take his Lordship's bishopric to be worth
near £2,500 annual income; and I will engage at half a year's warning to
find him above 200 beneficed clergymen who have not so much among them
all to support themselves and their families; most of them orthodox, of
good life and conversation, as loth to see the fires kindled in
Smithfield, as his Lordship, and at least as ready to face them under a
popish persecution. But nothing is so hard for those who abound in
riches, as to conceive how others can be in want. How can the
neighbouring vicar feel cold or hunger, while my Lord is seated by a
good fire in the warmest room in his palace, with a dozen dishes before
him? I remember one other prelate much of the same stamp; who when his
clergy would mention their wishes that some act of parliament might be
thought of for the good of the Church, would say, "Gentlemen, _we_ are
very well as _we_ are; if they would let _us_ alone, _we_ should ask no

[Footnote 27: Page 38.]

[Footnote 28: Scott, in a note, thinks this reflection on Burnet to be
unjust, because of that prelate's zeal "in forwarding a scheme in 1704
for Improving the livings of the poorer clergy." [T. S.]]

"Sacrilege" (says my Lord) "in the church of Rome, is a mortal sin;"[29]
and is it only so in the church of Rome? Or is it but a venial sin in
the Church of England? Our litany calls fornication a deadly sin; and I
would appeal to his Lordship for fifty years past, whether he thought
that or sacrilege the deadliest? To make light of such a sin, at the
same moment that he is frighting us from an idolatrous religion, should
seem not very consistent. "_Thou_ that sayest, a man should not commit
adultery, dost _thou_ commit adultery? _Thou_ that abhorrest idols, dost
_thou_ commit sacrilege?"

[Footnote 29: Page 38.]

To smooth the way for the return of Popery in Queen Mary's time, the
grantees were confirmed by the Pope in the possession of the abbey
lands. But the Bishop tells us, that "this confirmation was fraudulent
and invalid" I shall believe it to be so, though I happen to read in his
Lordship's history: But he adds, that although the confirmation had been
good, the priests would have got their land again by these two methods;
"first,[30] the Statute of Mortmain was repealed for 20 years, in which
time no doubt they reckoned they would recover the best part of what
they had lost; besides that, engaging the clergy to renew no leases, was
a thing entirely in their own power, and this in forty years time would
raise their revenues to be about ten times their present value." These
two expedients for increasing the revenues of the Church, he represents
as pernicious designs, fit only to be practised in times of Popery, and
such as the laity ought never to consent to: Whence, and from what he
said before about tithes, his Lordship has freely declared his opinion,
that the clergy are rich enough, and that the least addition to their
subsistence would be a step toward Popery. Now it happens, that the two
only methods, which could be thought on, with any probability of
success, toward some reasonable augmentation of ecclesiastical revenues,
are here rejected by a Bishop, as a means for introducing Popery, and
the nation publicly warned against them. The continuance of the Statute
of Mortmain in full force, after the Church had been so terribly
stripped, appeared to Her Majesty and the kingdom a very unnecessary
hardship; upon which account it was at several times relaxed by the
legislature. Now as the relaxation of that statute is manifestly one of
the reasons which gives the Bishop those terrible apprehensions of
Popery coming on us; so I conceive another ground of his fears, is the
remission of the first-fruits and tenths. But where the inclination to
Popery lay, whether in Her Majesty who proposed this benefaction, the
parliament which confirmed, or the clergy who accepted it, his Lordship
hath not thought fit to determine.

[Footnote 30: Page 39.]

The other popish expedient for augmenting church-revenues, is "engaging
the clergy to renew no leases."[31] Several of the most eminent
clergymen have assured me, that nothing has been more wished for by good
men, than a law to prevent (at least) bishops from setting leases for
lives. I could name ten bishoprics in England whose revenues one with
another do not amount to £600 a-year for each; and if his lordship's,
for instance, would be above ten times the value when the lives are
expired, I should think the overplus would not be ill disposed toward an
augmentation of such as are now shamefully poor. But I do assert, that
such an expedient was not always thought popish and dangerous by this
right reverend historian. I have had the honour formerly to converse
with him; and he has told me several years ago, that he lamented
extremely the power which bishops had of letting leases for lives,
whereby, as he said, they were utterly deprived of raising their
revenues, whatever alterations might happen in the value of money by
length of time: I think the reproach of betraying private conversation
will not upon this account be laid to my charge. Neither do I believe he
would have changed his opinion upon any score, but to take up another,
more agreeable to the maxims of his party; that "the least addition of
property to the Church, is one step toward Popery."

[Footnote 31: Page 39.]

The Bishop goes on with much earnestness and prolixity to prove that the
Pope's confirmation of the church lands to those who held them by King
Henry's donation, was null and fraudulent: Which is a point that I
believe no Protestant in England would give threepence to have his
choice whether it should be true or false: It might indeed serve as a
passage in his history, among a thousand other instances, to detect the
knavery of the court of Rome; but I ask, where could be the use of it in
this Introduction? Or why all this haste in publishing it at this
juncture; and so out of all method apart, and before the work itself? He
gives his reasons in very plain terms; we are now, it seems, "in more
danger of Popery than toward the end of King Charles II.'s reign. That
set of men (the Tories) is so impiously corrupted in the point of
religion, that no scene of cruelty can fright them from leaping into it,
and perhaps from acting such a part in it as may be assigned them."[32]
He doubts whether the High-Church clergy have any principles, and
therefore will be ready to turn off their wives, and look on the fires
kindled in Smithfield as an amiable view. These are the facts he all
along takes for granted, and argues accordingly; therefore, in despair
of dissuading the nobility and gentry of the land from introducing
Popery by any motives of honour, religion, alliance or mercy, he assures
them, that "the Pope has not duly confirmed their titles to the church
lands in their possession," which therefore must infallibly be restored,
as soon as that religion is established among us.

[Footnote 32: Page 37.]

Thus, in his Lordship's opinion, there is nothing wanting to make the
majority of the kingdom, both for number, quality and possession,
immediately embrace Popery, except a "firm bull from the Pope," to
secure the abbey and other church lands and tithes to the present
proprietors and their heirs; if this only difficulty could now be
adjusted, the Pretender would be restored next session, the two Houses
reconciled to the church of Rome against Easter term, and the fires
lighted in Smithfield by Midsummer. Such horrible calumnies against a
nation are not the less injurious to decency, good-nature, truth,
honour, and religion, because they may be vented with safety. And I will
appeal to any reader of common understanding, whether this be not the
most natural and necessary deduction from the passages I have cited and
referred to.

Yet all this is but friendly dealing, in comparison with what he affords
the clergy upon the same article. He supposes[33] all that reverend
body, who differ from him in principles of church or state, so far from
disliking Popery, upon the above-mentioned motives of perjury, "quitting
their wives, or burning their relations;" that the hopes of "enjoying
the abbey lands" would soon bear down all such considerations, and be an
effectual incitement to their perversion; and so he goes gravely on, as
with the only argument which he thinks can have any force, to assure
them, that "the parochial priests in Roman Catholic countries are much
poorer than in ours, the several orders of regulars, and the
magnificence of their church, devouring all their treasure," and by
consequence "their hopes are vain of expecting to be richer after the
introduction of Popery."

[Footnote 33: Page 46.]

But after all, his Lordship despairs, that even this argument will have
any force with our abominable clergy, because, to use his own words,
"They are an insensible and degenerate race, who are thinking of nothing
but their present advantages; and so that they may now support a
luxurious and brutal course of irregular and voluptuous practices, they
are easily hired to betray their religion, to sell their country, and
give up that liberty and those properties, which are the present
felicities and glories of this nation."[34] He seems to reckon all these
evils as matters fully determined on, and therefore falls into the last
usual form of despair, by threatening the authors of these miseries with
"lasting infamy, and the curses of posterity upon perfidious betrayers
of their trust."[35]

[Footnote 34: Page 47.]

[Footnote 35: Page 47.]

Let me turn this paragraph into vulgar language for the use of the poor,
and strictly adhere to the sense of the words. I believe it may be
faithfully translated in the following manner: "The bulk of the clergy,
and one-third of the bishops, are stupid sons of whores, who think of
nothing but getting money as soon as they can: If they may but produce
enough to supply them in gluttony, drunkenness, and whoring, they are
ready to turn traitors to God and their country, and make their
fellow-subjects slaves." The rest of the period, about threatening
"infamy," and "the curses of posterity upon such dogs and villains," may
stand as it does in the Bishop's own phrase, and so make the paragraph
all of a piece.

I will engage, on the other side, to paraphrase all the rogues and
rascals in the _Englishman_, so as to bring them up exactly to his
Lordship's style: But, for my own part, I much prefer the plain
Billingsgate way of calling names, because it expresses our meaning full
as well, and would save abundance of time which is lost by
circumlocution; so, for instance, John Dunton,[36] who is retained on
the same side with the Bishop, calls my Lord-treasurer and Lord
Bolingbroke, traitors, whoremasters, and Jacobites, which three words
cost our right reverend author thrice as many lines to define them; and
I hope his Lordship does not think there is any difference in point of
morality, whether a man calls me traitor in one word, or says I am one
"hired to betray my religion and sell my country."[37]

[Footnote 36: See note on p. 50 of vol. i. of this edition of Swift's
works. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 37: Page 51.]

I am not surprised to see the Bishop mention with contempt all
Convocations of the Clergy;[38] for Toland, Collins, Tindal,[39] and
others of the fraternity, talk the very same language. His Lordship
confesses he "is not" inclined "to expect much from the assemblies of
clergymen." There lies the misfortune; for if he and some more of his
order would correct their "inclinations," a great deal of good might be
expected from such assemblies, as much as they are now cramped by that
submission, which a corrupt clergy brought upon their innocent
successors. He will not deny that his copiousness in these matters is,
in his own opinion, one of the meanest parts of his new work. I will
agree with him, unless he happens to be more "copious" in any thing
else. However, it is not easy to conceive why he should be so "copious"
upon a subject he so much despises, unless it were to gratify his talent
of railing at the clergy, in the number of whom he disdains to be
reckoned, because he is a Bishop. For it is a style I observe some
prelates have fallen into of late years, to talk of clergymen as if
themselves were not of the number: You will read in many of their
speeches at Dr. Sacheverel's[40] trial, expressions to this or the like
effect: "My lords, if clergymen be suffered," &c. wherein they seem to
have reason; and I am pretty confident, that a great majority of the
clergy were heartily inclined to disown any relation they had to the
managers in lawn. However, it was a confounding argument against
Presbytery, that those who are most suspected to lean that way, treating
their inferior brethren with haughtiness, rigour, and contempt:
Although, to say the truth, nothing better could be hoped for; because,
I believe, it may pass for a universal rule, that in every diocese
governed by bishops of the Whig species, the clergy (especially the
poorer sort) are under double discipline, and the laity left to
themselves. The opinion of Sir Thomas More, which he produces to prove
the ill consequences or insignificancy of Convocations, advances no such
thing, but says, "if the clergy assembled often, and might act as other
assemblies of clergy in Christendom, much good might have come: but the
misfortune lay in their long disuse, and that in his own and a good part
of his father's time, they never came together, except at the command of
the prince."[41]

[Footnote 38: Page 47.]

[Footnote 39: See note, p. 9. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 40: Henry Sacheverell, D.D., was educated at Marlborough and
Oxford. At Magdalen College he was a fellow-student with Addison, and
obtained there his fellowship and doctor's degree. In 1709 he preached
two sermons, one at the Derby Assizes, and the other at St. Paul's, in
which he urged the imminent danger of the Church. For these sermons,
which the parliament considered highly inflammatory, he was, by the
House of Commons, at the instigation of Godolphin, impeached, and tried
before the Lords in 1710. He was found guilty of a misdemeanour, and was
suspended from preaching for three years. The trial made a great stir at
the time, and served but to increase the popularity of a man who, had he
been let alone, would, probably, never have been heard of. He died in
1724, holding the living of St. Andrew, Holborn, to which he was
presented after the expiration of his sentence. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 41: See Sir Thomas More's "Apology," 1533, p. 241.]

I suppose his lordship thinks, there is some original impediment in the
study of divinity, or secret incapacity in a gown and cassock without
lawn, which disqualifies all inferior clergymen from debating upon
subjects of doctrine or discipline in the church. It is a famous saying
of his, that "he looks upon every layman to be an honest man, until he
is by experience convinced to the contrary; and on every clergyman as a
knave, till he finds him to be an honest man." What opinion then must we
have of a Lower House of Convocation:[42] where I am confident he will
hardly find three persons that ever convinced him of their honesty, or
will ever be at the pains to do it? Nay, I am afraid they would think
such a conviction might be no very advantageous bargain, to gain the
character of an honest man with his Lordship, and lose it with the rest
of the world.

[Footnote 42: It must not be forgotten, that, during the reign of Queen
Anne, the body of the clergy were high-church men; but the bishops, who
had chiefly been promoted since the Revolution, were Whiggish in
politics, and moderate in their sentiments of church government. Hence
the Upper and Lower Houses of Convocation rarely agreed in sentiment on
affairs of church or state. [T. S.]]

In the famous Concordate that was made between Francis I. of France and
Pope Leo X., the Bishop tells us, that "the king and pope came to a
bargain, by which they divided the liberties of the Gallican Church
between them, and indeed quite enslaved it."[43] He intends, in the
third part of his History which he is going to publish, "to open this
whole matter to the world." In the mean time, he mentions some ill
consequences to the Gallican Church from that Concordate, which are
worthy to be observed; "The church of France became a slave, and this
change in their constitution put an end not only to national, but even
to provincial synods in that kingdom. The assemblies of the clergy
there, meet now only to give subsidies," &c. and he says, "our nation
may see by that proceeding, what it is to deliver up the essential
liberties of a free constitution to a court." [44]

[Footnote 43: Page 53.]

[Footnote 44: Page 53.]

All I can gather from this matter is, that our King Henry made a better
bargain than his contemporary Francis, who divided the liberties of the
church between himself and the Pope, while the King of England seized
them all to himself. But how comes he to number the want of synods in
the Gallican church among the grievances of that Concordate, and as a
mark of their slavery, since he reckons all Convocations of the Clergy
in England to be useless and dangerous? Or what difference in point of
liberty was there between the Gallican Church under Francis, and the
English under Harry? For, the latter was as much a papist as the former,
unless in the point of obedience to the see of Rome; and in every
quality of a good man, or a good prince, (except personal courage
wherein both were equal) the French monarch had the advantage by as many
degrees as is possible for one man to have over another.

Henry VIII. had no manner of intention to change religion in his
kingdom; he still continued to persecute and burn Protestants after he
had cast off the Pope's supremacy, and I suppose this seizure of
ecclesiastical revenues (which Francis never attempted) cannot be
reckoned as a mark of the church's liberty. By the quotation the Bishop
sets down to show the slavery of the French church, he represents it as
a grievance, that "bishops are not now elected there as formerly, but
wholly appointed by the prince; and that those made by the court have
been ordinarily the chief advancers of schisms, heresies, and
oppressions of the church." [45] He cites another passage from a Greek
writer, and plainly insinuates, that it is justly applicable to Her
Majesty's reign: "Princes choose such men to that charge [of a bishop]
who may be their slaves, and in all things obsequious to what they
prescribe; and may lie at their feet, and have not so much as a thought
contrary to their commands." [46]

[Footnote 45: Page 55.]

[Footnote 46: Page 55.]

These are very singular passages for his Lordship to set down in order
to show the dismal consequences of the French Concordate, by the slavery
of the Gallican Church, compared with the freedom of ours. I shall not
enter into a long dispute, whether it were better for religion that
bishops should be chosen by the clergy, or people, or both together: I
believe our author would give his vote for the second (which however
would not have been of much advantage to himself, and some others that I
could name). But I ask, Whether bishops are any more elected in England
than in France? And the want of synods are in his own opinion rather a
blessing than a grievance, unless he will affirm that more good can be
expected from a popish synod than an English Convocation. Did the French
clergy ever receive a greater blow to their liberties, than the
submission made to Henry VIII., or so great a one as the seizure of
their lands? The Reformation owed nothing to the good intentions of K.
Henry: He was only an instrument of it, (as the logicians speak) by
accident; nor doth he appear through his whole reign to have had any
other views than those of gratifying his insatiable love of power,
cruelty, oppression, and other irregular appetites. But this kingdom as
well as many other parts of Europe, was, at that time, generally weary
of the corruptions and impositions of the Roman court and church, and
disposed to receive those doctrines which Luther and his followers had
universally spread. Cranmer the archbishop, Cromwell, and others of the
court, did secretly embrace the Reformation; and the King's abrogating
the Pope's supremacy, made the people in general run into the new
doctrines with greater freedom, because they hoped to be supported in it
by the authority and example of their prince, who disappointed them so
far that he made no other step than rejecting the Pope's supremacy as a
clog upon his own power and passions, but retained every corruption
beside, and became a cruel persecutor, as well of those who denied his
own supremacy, as of all others who professed any Protestant doctrine.
Neither hath any thing disgusted me more in reading the histories of
those times, than to see one of the worst princes of any age or country,
celebrated as an instrument in that glorious work of the Reformation.

The Bishop having gone over all the matters that properly fall within
his Introduction, proceeds to expostulate with several sorts of
people;[47] First with Protestants who are no Christians, such as
atheists, deists, freethinkers, and the like enemies to Christianity.
But these he treats with the tenderness of a friend, because they are
all of them of sound Whig principles in church and state. However, to do
him justice, he lightly touches some old topics for the truth of the
Gospel; and concludes by wishing that the freethinkers would consider
well, if (_Anglice,_ whether) they think it possible to bring a nation
to be without any religion at all, and what the consequences of that may
prove; [48] and in case they allow the negative, he gives it clearly for

[Footnote 47: Page 56.]

[Footnote 48: Page 59.]

Secondly, he applies himself (if I take his meaning right) to Christian
papists "who have a taste of liberty," and desires them to "compare the
absurdities of their own religion with the reasonableness of the
reformed:" [49] Against which, as good luck would have it, I have
nothing to object.

[Footnote 49: Page 59.]

Thirdly, he is somewhat rough against his own party, "who having tasted
the sweets of Protestant liberty, can look back so tamely on Popery
coming on them; it looks as if they were bewitched, or that the devil
were in them, to be so negligent. It is not enough that they resolve not
to turn papists themselves: They ought to awaken all about them, even
the most ignorant and stupid, to apprehend their danger, and to exert
themselves with their utmost industry to guard against it, and to resist
it. If after all their endeavours to prevent it, the corruption of the
age, and the art and power of our enemies, prove too hard for us, then,
and not until then, we must submit to the will of God, and be silent,
and prepare ourselves for all the extremity of suffering and of
misery:"[50] with a great deal more of the same strain.

[Footnote 50: Pages 60, 61.]

With due submission to the profound sagacity of this prelate, who can
smell Popery at 500 miles distance, better than fanaticism just under
his nose; I take leave to tell him, that this reproof to his friends,
for want of zeal and clamour against Popery, slavery, and the Pretender,
is what they have not deserved. Are the pamphlets and papers, daily
published by the sublime authors of his party full of any thing else?
Are not the Queen, the ministers, the majority of Lords and Commons,
loudly taxed in print with this charge against them at full length? Is
it not the perpetual echo of every Whig coffeehouse and club? Have they
not quartered Popery and the Pretender upon the peace, and treaty of
commerce; upon the possessing, and quieting, and keeping, and
demolishing of Dunkirk? Have they not clamoured because the Pretender
continued in France, and because he left it? Have they not reported,
that the town swarmed with many thousand papists, when upon search there
were never found so few of that religion in it before? If a clergyman
preaches obedience to the higher powers, is he not immediately traduced
as a papist? Can mortal man do more? To deal plainly, my Lord, your
friends are not strong enough yet to make an insurrection, and it is
unreasonable to expect it from them, until their neighbours are ready.

My Lord, I have a little seriousness at heart upon this point, where
your Lordship affects to show so much. When you can prove, that one
single word has ever dropped from any minister of state, in public or
private, in favour of the Pretender, or his cause; when you can make it
appear, that in the course of this administration, since the Queen
thought fit to change her servants, there hath one step been made toward
weakening the Hanover title, or giving the least countenance to any
other whatsoever; then, and not until then, go dry your chaff and
stubble, give fire to the zeal of your faction, and reproach them with

Fourthly, the Bishop applies himself to the Tories in general. Taking it
for granted, after his charitable manner, that they are all ready
prepared to introduce Popery, he puts an excuse into their mouths, by
which they would endeavour to justify their change of religion. That
"Popery is not what it was before the Reformation: Things are now much
mended; and further corrections might be expected, if we would enter
into a treaty with them: In particular, they see the error of proceeding
severely with heretics; so that there is no reason to apprehend the
returns of such cruelties as were practised an age and a half ago."[51]

[Footnote 51: Page 62.]

This, he assures us, is a plea offered by the Tories in defence of
themselves, for going about at this juncture to establish the Popish
religion among us: What argument does he bring to prove the fact itself?

      "Quibus indiciis, quo teste, probavit?
  Nil horum: verbosa et grandis epistola venit" [52]

[Footnote 52: Juvenal, "Sat." x. 70-71. [T. S.]]

Nothing but this tedious Introduction, wherein he supposes it all along
as a thing granted. That there might be a perfect union in the whole
Christian Church, is a blessing which every good man wishes, but no
reasonable man can hope. That the more polite Roman Catholics have in
several places given up some of their superstitious fopperies,
particularly concerning legends, relics, and the like, is what nobody
denies. But the material points in difference between us and them are
universally retained and asserted, in all their controversial writings.
And if his Lordship really thinks that every man who differs from him,
under the name of a Tory in some church and state opinions, is ready to
believe transubstantiation, purgatory, the infallibility of pope or
councils, to worship saints and angels, and the like; I can only pray
God to enlighten his understanding, or graft in his heart the first
principles of charity; a virtue which some people ought not by any means
wholly to renounce, "because it covers a multitude of sins."

Fifthly, the Bishop applies himself to his own party in both Houses of
Parliament, whom he exhorts to "guard their religion and liberty against
all danger at what distance soever it may appear. If they are absent and
remiss on critical occasions," that is to say, if they do not attend
close next sessions, to vote upon all occasions whatsoever against the
proceedings of the Queen and Her Ministry; "or, if any views of
advantage to themselves prevail on them." [53] In other words, if any of
them vote for the Bill of Commerce, in hopes of a place or a pension, a
title, or a garter; "God may work a deliverance for us another way."
That is to say, by inviting the Dutch. "But they and their families,"
(id est) those who are negligent or revolters, "shall perish." By which
is meant; they shall be hanged as well as the present ministry and their
abettors, as soon as we recover our power. "Because they let in
idolatry, superstition, and tyranny." Because they stood by and suffered
the peace to be made, the Bill of Commerce to pass, and Dunkirk to lie
undemolished longer than we expected, without raising a rebellion.

[Footnote 53: Pages 67, 68.]

His last application is to the Tory clergy, a parcel of "blind,
ignorant, dumb, sleeping, greedy, drunken dogs."[54] A pretty artful
episcopal method is this, of calling his brethren as many injurious
names as he pleases. It is but quoting a text of Scripture, where the
characters of evil men are described, and the thing is done; and at the
same time the appearances of piety and devotion preserved. I would
engage, with the help of a good Concordance, and the liberty of
perverting Holy Writ, to find out as many injurious appellations, as the
_Englishman_ throws out in any of his politic papers, and apply them to
those persons "who call good evil, and evil good;" to those who cry
without cause, "Every man to his tent, O Israel! and to those who curse
the Queen in their hearts!"

[Footnote 54: This is the bishop's reference to the Tory clergy: "But,
in the last place, Those who are appointed to be the watchmen, who ought
to give warning, and to lift up their voice as a trumpet, when they see
those wolves ready to break in and devour the flock, have the heaviest
account of all others to make, if they neglect their duty; much more if
they betray their trust. If they are so set on some smaller matters, and
are so sharpened upon that account, that they will not see their danger,
nor awaken others to see it, and to fly from it; the guilt of those
souls who have perished by their means, God will require at their hands.
If they, in the view of any advantage to themselves, are silent when
they ought to cry out day and night, they will fall under the character
given by the prophet, of the watchmen in his time: 'They are blind, they
are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark, sleeping, lying down, loving to
slumber: Yea, they are greedy dogs, which can never have enough. And
they are shepherds that cannot understand; they all look to their own
way, every one for his gain from his quarter; that say, come, I will
fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; to-morrow
shall be as this day, and much more abundant.'"--BURNET'S _History of
the Reformation_, vol. iii. p. xxii. [T. S.]]

These decent words he tells us, make up a "lively description of such
pastors, as will not study controversy, nor know the depths of Satan."
He means I suppose, the controversy between us and the papists; for as
to the freethinkers and dissenters of every denomination, they are some
of the best friends to the cause. Now I have been told, there is a body
of that kind of controversy published by the London divines, which is
not to be matched in the world. I believe likewise, there is a good
number of the clergy at present, thoroughly versed in that study; after
which I cannot but give my judgment, that it would be a very idle thing
for pastors in general to busy themselves much in disputes against
Popery. It being a dry heavy employment of the mind at best, especially
when, God be thanked, there is so little occasion for it, in the
generality of parishes throughout the kingdom, and must be daily less
and less by the just severity of the laws, and the utter aversion of our
people from that idolatrous superstition.

If I might be so bold as to name those who have the honour to be of his
Lordship's party, I would venture to tell him, that pastors have much
more occasion to study controversies against the several classes of
freethinkers and dissenters; the former (I beg his Lordship's pardon for
saying so) being a little worse than papists, and both of them more
dangerous at present to our constitution both in church and state. Not
that I think Presbytery so corrupt a system of Christian religion as
Popery; I believe it is not above one-third as bad: but I think the
Presbyterians, and their clans of other fanatics of freethinkers and
atheists that dangle after them, are as well inclined to pull down the
present establishment of monarchy and religion, as any set of Papists in
Christendom, and therefore that our danger as things now stand, is
infinitely greater from our Protestant enemies; because they are much
more able to ruin us, and full as willing. There is no doubt, but
Presbytery, and a commonwealth, are less formidable evils than Popery,
slavery, and the Pretender; for if the fanatics were in power, I should
be in more apprehension of being starved than burned. But there are
probably in England forty dissenters of all kinds, including their
brethren the freethinkers, for one papist; and, allowing one papist to
be as terrible as three dissenters, it will appear by arithmetic, that
we are thirteen times and one-third more in danger of being ruined by
the latter than the former.

The other qualification necessary for all pastors, if they will not be
"blind, ignorant, greedy, drunken dogs," &c., is, "to know the depths of
Satan." This is harder than the former; that a poor gentleman ought not
to be parson, vicar, or curate of a parish, except he be cunninger than
the devil. I am afraid it will be difficult to remedy this defect for
one manifest reason, because whoever had only half the cunning of the
devil, would never take up with a vicarage of £10 a-year, "to live on at
his ease," as my Lord expresseth it; but seek out for some better
livelihood. His Lordship is of a nation very much distinguished for that
quality of cunning (though they have a great many better) and I think he
was never accused for wanting his share. However upon a trial of skill I
would venture to lay six to four on the devil's side, who must be
allowed to be at least the older practitioner. Telling truth shames him,
and resistance makes him fly: But to attempt outwitting him, is to fight
him at his own weapon, and consequently no cunning at all. Another thing
I would observe is, that a man may be "in the depths of Satan," without
knowing them all, and such a man may be so far in Satan's depths as to
be out of his own. One of the depths of Satan, is to counterfeit an
angel of light. Another, I believe, is, to stir up the people against
their governors, by false suggestions of danger. A third is to be a
prompter to false brethren, and to send wolves about in sheep's
clothing. Sometimes he sends Jesuits about England in the habit and cant
of fanatics, at other times he has fanatic missionaries in the habits of
----. I shall mention but one more of Satan's depths, for I confess I
know not the hundredth part of them; and that is, to employ his
emissaries in crying out against remote imaginary dangers, by which we
may be taken off from defending ourselves against those which are real
and just at our elbows.

But his Lordship draws towards a conclusion, and bids us "look about, to
consider the danger we are in, before it is too late;" for he assures
us, we are already "going into some of the worst parts of popery;"[55]
like the man who was so much in haste for his new coat, that he put it
on the wrong side out. "Auricular confession, priestly absolution, and
the sacrifice of the mass," have made great progress in England, and
nobody has observed it: several other popish points "are carried higher
with us than by the papists themselves."[56] And somebody, it seems,
"had the impudence to propose a union with the Gallican church."[57] I
have indeed heard that Mr. Lesley[58] published a discourse to that
purpose, which I have never seen; nor do I perceive the evil in
proposing an union between any two churches in Christendom. Without
doubt Mr. Lesley is most unhappily misled in his politics; but if he be
the author of the late tract against Popery[59], he has given the world
such a proof of his soundness in religion, as many a bishop ought to be
proud of. I never saw the gentleman in my life: I know he is the son of
a great and excellent prelate, who upon several accounts was one of the
most extraordinary men of his age. Mr. Lesley has written many useful
discourses upon several subjects, and hath so well deserved of the
Christian religion, and the Church of England in particular, that to
accuse him of "impudence for proposing an union" in two very different
faiths, is a style which I hope few will imitate. I detest Mr. Lesley's
political principles as much as his Lordship can do for his heart; but I
verily believe he acts from a mistaken conscience, and therefore I
distinguish between the principles and the person. However, it is some
mortification to me, when I see an avowed nonjuror contribute more to
the confounding of Popery, than could ever be done by a hundred thousand
such Introductions as this.

[Footnote 55: Page 70.]

[Footnote 56: Page 70.]

[Footnote 57: Swift here disowns a charge loudly urged by the Whigs of
the time against the high churchmen. There were, however, strong
symptoms of a nearer approach on their part to the church of Rome.
Hickes, the head of the Jacobite writers, had insinuated, that there was
a proper sacrifice in the Eucharist; Brett had published a Sermon on the
"Doctrine of Priestly Absolution as essential to Salvation;" Dodwell had
written against Lay-Baptism, and his doctrine at once excluded all the
dissenters (whose teachers are held as lay-men) from the pale of
Christianity;  and, upon the whole, there was a general disposition
among the clergy to censure, if not the Reformation itself, at least the
mode in which it was carried on. [S.]]

[Footnote 58: Charles Lesley, or Leslie, the celebrated nonjuror. He
published a Jacobite paper, called the "Rehearsal," and was a strenuous
assertor of divine right; but he was also so steady a Protestant, that
he went to Bar-le-Duc to convert the Chevalier de St George from the
errors of Rome. [S.] See note on p. 63. [T. S.]]

[Footnote 59: "The Case stated between the Church of Rome and the Church
of England," 1713.]

His Lordship ends with discovering a small ray of comfort. "God be
thanked there are many among us that stand upon the watch-tower, and
that give faithful warning; that stand in the breach, and make
themselves a wall for their church and country; that cry to God day and
night, and lie in the dust mourning before him, to avert those judgments
that seem to hasten towards us. They search into the mystery of iniquity
that is working among us, and acquaint themselves with that mass of
corruption that is in popery."[60] He prays "that the number of these
may increase, and that he may be of that number, ready either to die in
peace, or to seal that doctrine he has been preaching above fifty years,
with his blood."[61] This being his last paragraph, I have made bold to
transcribe the most important parts of it. His design is to end after
the manner of orators, with leaving the strongest impression possible
upon the minds of his hearers. A great breach is made; "the mystery of
popish iniquity is working among us;" may God avert those "judgments
that are hastening towards us!" I am an old man, "a preacher above fifty
years," and I now expect and am ready to die a martyr for the doctrines
I have preached. What an amiable idea does he here leave upon our minds,
of Her Majesty and her government! He has been poring so long upon Fox's
Book of Martyrs, that he imagines himself living in the reign of Queen
Mary, and is resolved to set up for a knight-errant against Popery. Upon
the supposition of his being in earnest, (which I am sure he is not) it
would require but a very little more heat of imagination, to make a
history of such a knight's adventures. What would he say, to behold the
"fires kindled in Smithfield, and all over the town," on the 17th of
November; to behold the Pope borne in triumph on the shoulders of the
people, with a cardinal on the one side, and the Pretender on the other?
He would never believe it was Queen Elizabeth's day, but that of her
persecuting sister: In short, how easily might a windmill be taken for
the whore of Babylon, and a puppet-show for a popish procession?

[Footnote 60: Page 71]

[Footnote 61: Page 72]

But enthusiasm is none of his Lordship's faculty: I am inclined to
believe he might be melancholy enough when he writ this Introduction:
The despair at his age of seeing a faction restored, to which he hath
sacrificed so great a part of his life: The little success he can hope
for in case he should resume those High-Church Principles, in defence of
which he first employed his pen: No visible expectation of removing to
Farnham or Lambeth: And lastly, the misfortune of being hated by every
one, who either wears the habit, or values the profession of a
clergyman: No wonder such a spirit, in such a situation, is provoked
beyond the regards of truth, decency, religion, or self-conviction. To
do him justice, he seems to have nothing else left, but to cry out,
halters, gibbets, faggots, inquisition, Popery, slavery, and the
Pretender. But in the meantime, he little considers what a world of
mischief he does to his cause. It is very convenient, for the present
designs of that faction, to spread the opinion of our immediate danger
from Popery and the Pretender. His directors therefore ought, in my
humble opinion, to have employed his Lordship in publishing a book,
wherein he should have asserted, by the most solemn asseverations, that
all things were safe and well; for the world has contracted so strong a
habit of believing him backwards, that I am confident, nine parts in ten
of those who have read or heard of his Introduction, have slept in
greater security ever since. It is like the melancholy tone of a
watchman at midnight, who thumps with his pole, as if some thief were
breaking in, but you know by the noise, that the door is fast.

However, he "thanks God there are many among us who stand in the
breach:" I believe they may; 'tis a breach of their own making, and they
design to come forward, and storm and plunder, if they be not driven
back. "They make themselves a wall for their church and country." A
south wall, I suppose, for all the best fruit of the church and country
to be nailed on. Let us examine this metaphor: The wall of our church
and country is built of those who love the constitution in both: Our
domestic enemies undermine some parts of the wall, and place themselves
in the breach; and then they cry, "We are the wall!" We do not like such
patchwork, they build with untempered mortar; nor can they ever cement
with us, till they get better materials and better workmen: God keep us
from having our breaches made up with such rubbish! "They stand upon the
watch-tower;" they are indeed pragmatical enough to do so; but who
assigned them that post, to give us false intelligence, to alarm us with
false dangers, and send us to defend one gate, while their accomplices
are breaking in at another? "They cry to God, day and night to avert the
judgment of Popery which seems to hasten towards us." Then I affirm,
they are hypocrites by day, and filthy dreamers by night. When they cry
unto him, he will not hear them: For they cry against the plainest
dictates of their own conscience, reason, and belief.

But lastly, "They lie in the dust, mourning before him." Hang me if I
believe that, unless it be figuratively spoken. But suppose it to be
true; why do "they lie in the dust?" Because they love to raise it: For
what do "they mourn?" Why, for power, wealth, and places. There let the
enemies of the Queen, and monarchy, and the church, lie, and mourn, and
lick the dust, like serpents, till they are truly sensible of their
ingratitude, falsehood, disobedience, slander, blasphemy, sedition, and
every evil work!

I cannot find in my heart to conclude without offering his Lordship a
little humble advice upon some certain points.

First, I would advise him, if it be not too late in his life, to
endeavour a little at mending his style, which is mighty defective in
the circumstances of grammar, propriety, politeness, and smoothness;[62]
I fancied at first, it might be owing to the prevalence of his passion,
as people sputter out nonsense for haste when they are in a rage. And
indeed I believe this piece before me has received some additional
imperfections from that occasion. But whoever has heard his sermons, or
read his other tracts, will find him very unhappy in his choice and
disposition of his words, and, for want of variety, repeating them,
especially the particles, in a manner very grating to an English ear.
But I confine myself to this Introduction, as his last work, where
endeavouring at rhetorical flowers, he gives us only bunches of
thistles; of which I could present the reader with a plentiful crop; but
I refer him to every page and line of the pamphlet itself.

[Footnote 62: In Swift's notes on Burnet's "History of his Own Times,"
he points out many instances of the deficiency here stated. [S.]]

Secondly, I would most humbly advise his Lordship to examine a little
into the nature of truth, and sometimes to hear what she says. I shall
produce two instances among a hundred. When he asserts that we are "now
in more danger of Popery than toward the end of King Charles II.'s
reign," and gives the broadest hints, that the Queen, the ministry, the
parliament, and the clergy, are just going to introduce it; I desire to
know, whether he really thinks truth is of his side, or whether he be
not sure she is against him? If the latter, then truth and he will be
found in two different stories; and which are we to believe? Again, when
he gravely advises the clergy and laity of the Tory side, not to "light
the fires in Smithfield," and goes on in twenty places already quoted,
as if the bargain was made for Popery and slavery to enter: I ask again,
whether he has rightly considered the nature of truth? I desire to put a
parallel case. Suppose his Lordship should take it into his fancy to
write and publish a letter to any gentleman of no infamous character for
his religion or morals; and there advise him with great earnestness, not
to rob or fire churches, ravish his daughter, or murder his father; show
him the sin and the danger of these enormities, that if he flattered
himself, he could escape in disguise, or bribe his jury, he was
grievously mistaken: That he must in all probability forfeit his goods
and chattels, die an ignominious death, and be cursed by posterity;
Would not such a gentleman justly think himself highly injured, though
his Lordship did not affirm that the said gentleman had his picklocks or
combustibles ready, that he had attempted his daughter, and drawn his
sword against his father in order to stab him? Whereas, in the other
case, this writer affirms over and over, that all attempts for
introducing Popery and slavery are already made, the whole business
concerted, and that little less than a miracle can prevent our ruin.

Thirdly, I could heartily wish his Lordship would not undertake to
charge the opinions of one or two, and those probably nonjurors, upon
the whole body of the nation that differs from him. Mr. Lesley writ a
"Proposal for a Union with the Gallican Church;" somebody else has
"carried the necessity of priesthood in the point of baptism farther
than popery;" a third has "asserted the independency of the church on
the state, and in many things arraigned the supremacy of the crown."
Then he speaks in a dubious insinuating way, as if some other popish
tenets had been already advanced: And at last concludes in this affected
strain of despondency, "What will all these things end in? and on what
design are they driven? Alas, it is too visible!" 'Tis as clear as the
sun, that these authors are encouraged by the ministry with a design to
bring in Popery; and in Popery all these things will end.

I never was so uncharitable as to believe, that the whole party of which
his Lordship professeth himself a member, had a real formed design of
establishing atheism among us. The reason why the Whigs have taken the
atheists, or freethinkers, into their body, is because they wholly agree
in their political schemes, and differ very little in church power and
discipline. However, I could turn the argument against his Lordship with
very great advantage, by quoting passages from fifty pamphlets wholly
made up of Whiggism and atheism, and then conclude; "What will all these
things end in? And on what design are they driven? Alas, it is too

Lastly, I would beg his Lordship not to be so exceedingly outrageous
upon the memory of the dead; because it is highly probable, that, in a
very short time he will be one of the number. He has in plain words
given Mr. Wharton the character of a "most malicious, revengeful,
treacherous, lying, mercenary villain." To which I shall only say, that
the direct reverse of this amiable description is what appears from the
works of that most learned divine, and from the accounts given me by
those who knew him much better than the Bishop seems to have done. I
meddle not with the moral part of his treatment. God Almighty forgive
his Lordship this manner of revenging himself; and then there will be
but little consequence from an accusation which the dead cannot feel,
and which none of the living will believe.

*****       *****       *****       *****









Of the deistical writers of the early eighteenth century, Anthony
Collins (1676-1729) is, perhaps, the most celebrated. He was born near
Hounslow and educated at Eton and Cambridge. His writings were mainly
attacks on Christianity, and, in addition to the "Discourse on
Freethinking," he published: "Discourse of the Grounds and Reasons of
the Christian Religion;" "Scheme of Literal Prophecy Considered;"
"Priestcraft in Perfection;" "Historical and Critical Essay on the
Thirty-Nine Articles;" and "A Philosophical Enquiry concerning Human
Liberty." Most of these writings engaged him in many and violent
controversies with some of the ablest divines of his time. Among these,
beside Swift, may be named, Whiston, Hare, Hoadly, Bentley, and Samuel
Clarke. Steele, also, had his fling at Collins, and thought that "if
ever man deserved to be denied the common benefits of air and water, it
is the author of 'A Discourse upon Freethinking'" ("Guardian," No. 3).
But then Steele's opinion on such a matter was of no great moment. What
was of more, was the fact that the school to which Collins belonged
found a decided opponent in Locke, from the writings of whom the members
of the school professed to draw their strongest arguments. For a
philosophical appreciation of Toland, Collins, and the rest, see Mr.
Leslie Stephen's "English Thought in the Eighteenth Century" (chaps.
iii. and iv. of vol. i. 1881).

Swift took an entirely different attitude towards Collins from that
assumed by the professional controversialists. He refused to take him
seriously, and no doubt he felt that ridicule would as effectually serve
his purpose as another method. Moreover, he sought to use the
opportunity for scoring a point against the Whigs, by insisting on the
political side of the matter, and, in the person of an assumed defender
of Collins, betrayed undoubted Whig leanings. Swift, at this time, was
deep in work, pamphleteering for Harley and St. John. He had already
written "The Conduct of the Allies," and "Some Remarks on the Barrier
Treaty," and was soon to write "The Public Spirit of the Whigs." The
assumed and sarcastic defence of Collins must be taken as a Swiftian
dodge to bring odium and suspicion on the opponents of the Tory
ministry, by showing that the propounders of the hateful and ridiculous
atheism were themselves Whigs.

Sir Henry Craik, in a note to his reprint of this tract ("Selections
from Swift," Oxford, 1893, vol. ii. p. 42), agrees with Scott as to the
motive which urged Swift in writing it. "In this later tract," he says,
"Swift makes no attempt to cloak his enmity; and he boldly assumes the
character of a Whig as the propounder of those atheistical absurdities,
which he wished, as a useful political move, but without any scrupulous
regard to fairness, to represent as part and parcel of the tenets of
that party." "What gave colour," says Scott, "though only a colour, to
his charge was, that Toland, Tindal, Collins, and most of those who
carried to licence their abhorrence of Church-government, were naturally
enough enrolled among that party in politics who professed most
attachment to freedom of sentiment." It must not, however, be forgotten,
that Swift's attachment to his Church, as it influenced him against the
Whigs, would naturally influence him against the deistical writers also,
and that he must be credited, to that extent, with honesty of purpose.
That these writers were Whigs was, if one may so put it, an accident, of
which it would have been more than a human act for Swift not to take
advantage, for party purposes.

Curiously enough, none of Swift's more modern biographers have thought
this imitation of Collins's "Discourse" worthy of a mention; yet it is,
in its way, as fine a performance as his castigation of Bishop Burnet
and his "Introduction." The fooling is admirably carried on, and the
intention, as explained in the introduction, is excellently well
realized. It frightened Collins into Holland. To appreciate the
cleverness with which it has been done, one should read Swift's
"Abstract" side by side with Collins's "Discourse."

The pamphlet was advertised for sale in "The Examiner" for Tuesday,
January 26th, 1712-13. In His "Letters to Stella" (January 16th and
21st, 1712-13), Swift makes the following references to it: "I came home
at seven, and began a little whim which just came into my head, and will
make a three-penny pamphlet. It shall be finished in a week; and, if it
succeeds, you shall know what it is; otherwise not. ... I was to-day
with my printer, to give him a little pamphlet I have written; but not
politics. It will be out by Monday."

The present text is based on that of the first edition, collated with
those given by Nichols, Hawkesworth and Scott. None of the
"Miscellanies" prints this tract, nor is it given in Faulkner's edition
of 1735-38 (6 vols.). It is fully annotated and edited by Nichols in the
first volume of his "Supplement to Swift's Works" (1779).

[T. S.]





Our party having failed, by all their political arguments, to
re-establish their power; the wise leaders have determined, that the
last and principal remedy should be made use of, for opening the eyes of
this blinded nation; and that a short, but perfect, system of their
divinity, should be published, to which we are all of us ready to
subscribe, and which we lay down as a model, bearing a close analogy to
our schemes in religion. Crafty, designing men, that they might keep the
world in awe, have, in their several forms of government, placed a
_Supreme Power_ on earth, to keep human-kind in fear of being hanged;
and a supreme power in heaven, for fear of being damned. In order to
cure men's apprehensions of the former, several of our learned members
have writ many profound treatises on Anarchy; but a brief complete body
of Atheology seemed yet wanting, till this irrefragable Discourse
appeared. However, it so happens, that our ablest brethren, in their
elaborate disquisitions upon this subject, have written with so much
caution, that ignorant unbelievers have edified very little by them. I
grant that those daring spirits, who first adventured to write against
the direct rules of the gospel, the current of antiquity, the religion
of the magistrate, and the laws of the land, had some measures to keep;
and particularly when they railed at religion, were in the right to use
little artful disguises, by which a jury could only find them guilty of
abusing heathenism or popery. But the mystery is now revealed, that
there is no such thing as mystery or revelation; and though our friends
are out of place and power, yet we may have so much confidence in the
present ministry, to be secure, that those who suffer so many free
speeches against their sovereign and themselves, to pass unpunished,
will never resent our expressing the freest thoughts against their
religion; but think with Tiberius, that if there be a God, he is able
enough to revenge any injuries done to himself, without expecting the
civil power to interpose.[1]

[Footnote 1: Swift was evidently very fond of this reference, since he
uses it several times in his writings. [T. S.]]

_By these reflections I was brought to think, that the most ingenious
author of the Discourse upon Freethinking, in a letter to Somebody,
Esq.; although he hath used less reserve than any of his predecessors,
might yet have been more free and open. I considered, that several
well-witters to infidelity, might be discouraged by a show of logic, and
a multiplicity of quotations, scattered through his book, which to
understandings of that size, might carry an appearance of something like
book-learning, and consequently fright them from reading for their
improvement; I could see no reason why these great discoveries should be
hid from our youth of quality, who frequent Whites and Tom's; why they
should not be adapted to the capacities of the Kit-Cat and Hanover
Clubs,[2] who might then be able to read lectures on them to their
several toasts: and it will be allowed on all hands, that nothing can
sooner help to restore our abdicated cause, than a firm universal belief
of the principles laid down by this sublime author._

[Footnote 2: These were chocolate houses of the time, supported mainly
by the aristocracy and the gamblers. White's is still in existence, and
has had the honour of having had a special history written about it.
Tom's was in Russell Street, and so-called after its landlord, Tom West.
The Kit-Cat Club was the resort of the Whig wits of the day, and the
Hanover Club of those who favoured the Hanover succession. [T. S.]]

For I am sensible that nothing would more contribute to "the continuance
of the war" and the restoration of the late ministry, than to have the
doctrines delivered in this treatise well infused into the people. I
have therefore compiled them into the following Abstract, wherein I have
adhered to the very words of our author, only adding some few
explanations of my own, where the terms happen to be too learned, and
consequently a little beyond the comprehension of those for whom the
work was principally intended, I mean the nobility and gentry of our
party. After which I hope it will be impossible for the malice of a
Jacobite, highflying, priestridden faction, to misrepresent us. The few
additions I have made are for no other use than to help the transition,
which could not otherwise be kept in an abstract; but I have not
presumed to advance anything of my own; which besides would be needless
to an author who hath so fully handled and demonstrated every
particular. I shall only add, that though this writer, when he speaks of
priests, desires chiefly to be understood to mean the English clergy,
yet he includes all priests whatsoever, except the ancient and modern
heathens, the Turks, Quakers, and Socinians.



I send you this apology for Freethinking,[3] without the least hopes of
doing good, but purely to comply with your request; for those truths
which nobody can deny, will do no good to those who deny them. The
clergy, who are so impudent to teach the people the doctrines of faith,
are all either cunning knaves or mad fools; for none but artificial,
designing men, and crack-brained enthusiasts, presume to be guides to
others in matters of speculation, which all the doctrines of
Christianity are; and whoever has a mind to learn the Christian
religion, naturally chooses such knaves and fools to teach them. Now the
Bible, which contains the precepts of the priests' religion, is the most
difficult book in the world to be understood; it requires a thorough
knowledge in natural, civil, ecclesiastical history, law, husbandry,
sailing, physic, pharmacy, mathematics, metaphysics, ethics, and
everything else that can be named: And everybody who believes it ought
to understand it, and must do so by force of his own freethinking,
without any guide or instructor.

[Footnote 3: The chief strain of Collins's "Discourse" is an eulogium
upon the necessity and advantage of Freethinking; in which it is more
than insinuated that the advocates of revealed religion are enemies to
the progress of enlightened inquiry. This insidious position is
ridiculed in the following parody. [S.]]

How can a man think at all, if he does not think freely? A man who does
not eat and drink freely, does not eat and drink at all. Why may not I
be denied the liberty of freeseeing, as well as freethinking? Yet nobody
pretends that the first is unlawful, for a cat may look on a king;
though you be near-sighted, or have weak or sore eyes, or are blind, you
may be a free-seer; you ought to see for yourself, and not trust to a
guide to choose the colour of your stockings, or save you from falling
into a ditch.

In like manner, there ought to be no restraint at all on thinking freely
upon any proposition, however impious or absurd. There is not the least
hurt in the wickedest thoughts, provided they be free; nor in telling
those thoughts to everybody, and endeavouring to convince the world of
them; for all this is included in the doctrine of freethinking, as I
shall plainly show you in what follows; and therefore you are all along
to understand the word freethinking in this sense.

If you are apt to be afraid of the devil, think freely of him, and you
destroy him and his kingdom. Freethinking has done him more mischief
than all the clergy in the world ever could do; they believe in the
devil, they have an interest in him, and therefore are the great
supports of his kingdom. The devil was in the States-General before they
began to be freethinkers. For England and Holland[4] were formerly the
Christian territories of the devil; I told you how he left Holland; and
freethinking and the revolution banished him from England; I defy all
the clergy to shew me when they ever had such success against him. My
meaning is, that to think freely of the devil, is to think there is no
devil at all; and he that thinks so, the devil's in him if he be afraid
of the devil.

[Footnote 4: Collins is supposed to have imbibed his freethinking
philosophy during his repeated visits to Holland. [S.]]

But, within these two or three years, the devil has come into England
again, and Dr. Sacheverell[5] has given him commission to appear in the
shape of a cat, and carry old women about upon broomsticks: And the
devil has now so many "ministers ordained to his service," that they
have rendered freethinking odious, and nothing but the second coming of
Christ can restore it.

[Footnote 5: See note on p. 147.]

The priests tell me, I am to believe the Bible, but freethinking tells
me otherwise in many particulars: The Bible says, the Jews were a nation
favoured by God; but I who am a freethinker say, that cannot be, because
the Jews lived in a corner of the earth, and freethinking makes it
clear, that those who live in corners cannot be favourites of God. The
New Testament all along asserts the truth of Christianity, but
freethinking denies it; because Christianity was communicated but to a
few; and whatever is communicated but to a few, cannot be true; for that
is like whispering, and the proverb says, that there is no whispering
without lying.

Here is a society in London for propagating freethinking throughout the
world, encouraged and supported by the Queen and many others. You say,
perhaps, it is for propagating the Gospel. Do you think the missionaries
we send will tell the heathens that they must not think freely? No,
surely; why then, it is manifest, those missionaries must be
freethinkers, and make the heathens so too. But why should not the king
of Siam, whose religion is heathenism and idolatry, send over a parcel
of his priests to convert us to his church, as well as we send
missionaries there? Both projects are exactly of a piece, and equally
reasonable; and if those heathen priests were here, it would be our duty
to hearken to them, and think freely whether they may not be in the
right rather than we. I heartily wish a detachment of such divines as Dr
Atterbury, Dr. Smallridge,[6] Dr. Swift, Dr. Sacheverell, and some others,
were sent every year to the farthest part of the heathen world, and that
we had a cargo of their priests in return, who would spread freethinking
among us; then the war would go on, the late ministry be restored, and
faction cease, which our priests inflame by haranguing upon texts, and
falsely call that preaching the Gospel.

[Footnote 6: Dr. Smallridge, it will be remembered, was the gentleman
who indignantly denied the authorship of "A Tale of a Tub" (see vol. i.
of this edition). He became Bishop of Bristol in 1714, and died in 1719.
His style was well thought of at the time. [T.S.]]

I have another project in my head, which ought to be put in execution,
in order to make us freethinkers: It is a great hardship and injustice,
that our priests must not be disturbed while they are prating in the
pulpit. For example: Why should not William Penn the Quaker, or any
Anabaptist, Papist, Muggletonian, Jew, or Sweet-Singer,[7] have liberty
to come into St Paul's Church, in the midst of divine service, and
endeavour to convert first the aldermen, then the preacher, and
singing-men? Or pray, why might not poor Mr. Whiston,[8] who denies the
divinity of Christ, be allowed to come into the Lower House of
Convocation, and convert the clergy? But, alas! we are overrun with such
false notions, that, if Penn or Whiston should do their duty, they would
be reckoned fanatics, and disturbers of the holy synod, although they
have as good a title to it as St Paul had to go into the synagogues of
the Jews; and their authority is full as divine as his.

[Footnote 7: The Sweet-Singers were a fanatical sect of wailers, founded
in Scotland, but which had no long life. [T.S.]] Christ himself commands
us to be freethinkers; for he bids us search the scriptures, and take
heed what and whom we hear; by which he plainly warns us, not to believe
our bishops and clergy; for Jesus Christ, when he considered that all
the Jewish and heathen priests, whose religion he came to abolish, were
his enemies, rightly concluded that those appointed by him to preach his
own gospel, would probably be so too; and could not be secure, that any
set of priests, of the faith he delivered, would ever be otherwise;
therefore it is fully demonstrated that the clergy of the Church of
England are mortal enemies to Christ, and ought not to be believed.

[Footnote 8: Yet Whiston, who receives this side-cut, was himself an
anxious combatant of Collins, in his "Reflections on an Anonymous
Pamphlet, entitled, 'A Defence of Freethinking.'" 1713. [S.]]

But, without the privilege of freethinking, how is it possible to know
which is the right Scripture? Here are perhaps twenty sorts of
Scriptures in the several parts of the world, and every set of priests
contend that their Scripture is the true one. The Indian Brahmins have a
book of scripture called the Shaster; the Persees their Zundivastaw;[9]
the Bonzes in China have theirs, written by the disciples of Fo-he, whom
they call _God and Saviour of the world, who was born to teach the way
of salvation, and to give satisfaction for all men's sins_: which, you
see, is directly the same with what our priests pretend of Christ. And
must we not think freely, to find out which are in the right, whether
the Bishops or the Bonzes? But the Talapoins, or heathen clergy of Siam,
approach yet nearer to the system of our priests; they have a Book of
Scripture written by Sommonocodam, who, the Siamese say, was "born of a
virgin," and was "the God expected by the Universe;" just as our priests
tell us, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, and was the
Messiah so long expected. The Turkish priests, or dervises, have their
Scripture which they call the Alcoran. The Jews have the Old Testament
for their Scripture, and the Christians have both the Old and the New.
Now among all these Scriptures, there cannot above one be right; and how
is it possible to know which is that, without reading them all, and then
thinking freely, every one of us for ourselves, without following the
advice or instruction of any guide, before we venture to choose? The
parliament ought to be at the charge of finding a sufficient number of
these Scriptures, for every one of Her Majesty's subjects, for there are
twenty to one against us, that we may be in the wrong: But a great deal
of freethinking will at last set us all right, and every one will adhere
to the Scripture he likes best; by which means, religion, peace, and
wealth, will be for ever secured in Her Majesty's realms.

[Footnote 9: Swift means here, of course, the Zendavesta, the
commentaries on the sacred books of the Parsees. Not that Swift could
have known much of these Oriental religions; but the names were good
enough for his purpose. [T.S.]]

And it is the more necessary that the good people of England should have
liberty to choose some other Scripture, because all Christian priests
differ so much about the copies of theirs, and about the various
readings of the several manuscripts, which quite destroys the authority
of the Bible: for what authority can a book pretend to, where there are
various readings?[10] And for this reason, it is manifest that no man
can know the opinions of Aristotle or Plato, or believe the facts
related by Thucydides or Livy, or be pleased with the poetry of Homer
and Virgil, all which books are utterly useless, upon account of their
various readings. Some books of Scripture are said to be lost, and this
utterly destroys the credit of those that are left: some we reject,
which the Africans and Copticks receive; and why may we not think
freely, and reject the rest? Some think the scriptures wholly inspired,
some partly; and some not at all. Now this is just the very case of the
Bramins, Persees, Bonzes, Talapoins, Dervises, Rabbis, and all other
priests, who build their religion upon books, as our priests do upon
their Bibles; they all equally differ about the copies, various readings
and inspirations, of their several Scriptures, and God knows which are
in the right: Freethinking alone can determine it.

[Footnote 10: In the discourse on "Freethinking," p. 80, Collins insists
much on a passage in Victor of Tunis, from which he infers, that the
Gospels were corrected and altered in the fourth century. [S.]]

It would be endless to show in how many particulars the priests of the
Heathen and Christian churches, differ about the meaning even of those
Scriptures which they universally receive as sacred. But, to avoid
prolixity, I shall confine myself to the different opinions among the
priests of the Church of England, and here only give you a specimen,
because even these are too many to be enumerated.

I have found out a bishop, (though indeed his opinions are condemned by
all his brethren,) who allows the Scriptures to be so difficult, that
God has left them rather as a trial of our industry than a repository of
our faith, and furniture of creeds and articles of belief; with several
other admirable schemes of freethinking, which you may consult at your

The doctrine of the Trinity is the most fundamental point of the whole
Christian religion. Nothing is more easy to a freethinker, yet what
different notions of it do the English priests pretend to deduce from
Scripture, explaining it by "specific unities, eternal modes of
subsistence," and the like unintelligible jargon? Nay, it is a question
whether this doctrine be fundamental or no; for though Dr. South and
Bishop Bull affirm it, yet Bishop Taylor and Dr. Wallis deny it.[11] And
that excellent freethinking prelate, Bishop Taylor, observes, that
Athanasius's example was followed with too much greediness; by which
means it has happened, that the greater number of our priests are in
that sentiment, and think it necessary to believe the Trinity, and
incarnation of Christ.[12]

[Footnote 11: Dr. Robert South (1633-1716), rector of Islip. The
reference by Swift is to his controversy with Sherlock on the doctrine
of the Trinity. The two disputants got into such depths that both were
charged with heresy.

Dr. George Bull (1634-1710), Bishop of St. David's, wrote the "Defensio
Fidei Nicenae." For his exposition of the necessity for the belief in the
divinity of the Son of God he received the thanks of Bossuet.

Dr. Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down and Connor (1613-1667), and author of
"Holy Living" and "Holy Dying," wrote also "Unum Necessarium, or the
Doctrine and Practice of Repentance." His treatment, in this work, of
the doctrine of original sin was considered heterodox by Bishop Warner
and Dr. Sanderson, and a controversy ensued, in the course of which
Taylor was imprisoned in Chepstow Castle on a charge of being concerned
in a Royalist insurrection.

Dr. John Wallis (1616-1703), here referred to, is the famous
mathematician and divine, and one of the original members of the Royal
Society. He is mentioned in the text by Swift because of a work he
published on the Trinity, which brought him into collision with the
Arians. But the Doctor seems to have been addicted to views of a
controversial nature, for his opinions on infant baptism and the keeping
of the Sabbath found many objectors. He was Savilian Professor of
Geometry at Oxford in 1648. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 12: See Swift's opinion of controversies on this subject in
his "Sermon upon the Trinity." [S.]]

Our priests likewise dispute several circumstances about the
resurrection of the dead, the nature of our bodies after the
resurrection, and in what manner they shall be united to our souls. They
also attack one another "very weakly with great vigour," about
predestination. And it is certainly true, (for Bishop Taylor and Mr.
Whiston the Socinian say so,) that all churches in prosperity alter
their doctrines every age, and are neither satisfied with themselves,
nor their own confessions; neither does any clergyman of sense believe
the Thirty-nine Articles.

Our priests differ about the eternity of hell torments. The famous Dr
Henry More,[13] and the most pious and rational of all priests, Dr
Tillotson,[14] (both freethinkers,) believe them to be not eternal. They
differ about keeping the sabbath, the divine right of episcopacy, and
the doctrine of original sin; which is the foundation of the whole
Christian religion; for if men are not liable to be damned for Adam's
sin, the Christian religion is an imposture: Yet this is now disputed
among them; so is lay baptism; so was formerly the lawfulness of usury,
but now the priests are common stock-jobbers, attorneys, and scriveners.
In short there is no end of disputing among priests, and therefore I
conclude, that there ought to be no such thing in the world as priests,
teachers, or guides, for instructing ignorant people in religion; but
that every man ought to think freely for himself.

[Footnote 13: Dr. Henry More (1614-1687), the Platonist theologian,
wrote a philosophical poem entitled, "Psycho-Zoia, or the Life of the
Soul" (1640). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 14: Dr. John Tillotson (1630-1694) succeeded Bancroft as
Archbishop of Canterbury. He published some eloquent sermons and several
controversial tracts against Catholicism. [T.S.]]

I will tell you the meaning in all this; the priests dispute every point
in the Christian religion, as well as almost every text in the Bible;
and the force of my argument lies here, that whatever point is disputed
by one or two divines, however condemned by the Church, not only that
particular point, but the whole article to which it relates, may
lawfully be received or rejected by any freethinker. For instance,
suppose More and Tillotson deny the eternity of hell torments, a
freethinker may deny all future punishments whatsoever. The priests
dispute about explaining the Trinity; therefore a freethinker may reject
one or two, or the whole three persons; at least he may reject
Christianity, because the Trinity is the most fundamental doctrine of
that religion. So I affirm original sin, and that men are now liable to
be damned for Adam's sin, to be the foundation of the whole Christian
religion; but this point was formerly, and is now disputed, therefore, a
freethinker may deny the whole. And I cannot help giving you one farther
direction, how I insinuate all along, that the wisest freethinking
priests, whom you may distinguish by the epithets I bestow them, were
those who differed most from the generality of their brethren.

But besides, the conduct of our priests in many other points, makes
freethinking unavoidable; for some of them own, that the doctrines of
the Church are contradictory to one another, as well as to reason; which
I thus prove: Dr. Sacheverell says in his speech at his trial, That by
abandoning passive obedience we must render ourselves the most
inconsistent Church in the world: Now 'tis plain, that one inconsistency
could not make the most inconsistent Church in the world; _ergo_, there
must have been a great many inconsistencies and contradictory doctrines
in the Church before. Dr. South describes the incarnation of Christ, as
an astonishing mystery, impossible to be conceived by man's reason;
_ergo_, it is contradictory to itself, and to reason, and ought to be
exploded by all freethinkers.

Another instance of the priests' conduct, which multiplies freethinkers,
is their acknowledgment of abuses, defects, and false doctrines, in the
Church; particularly that of eating black pudding,[15] which is so
plainly forbid in the Old and New Testament, that I wonder those who
pretend to believe a syllable in either will presume to taste it. Why
should I mention the want of discipline, and of a sideboard at the
altar, with complaints of other great abuses and defects made by some of
the priests, which no man can think on without freethinking, and
consequently rejecting Christianity?

[Footnote 15: Collins in his pamphlet quotes a Dr. Grabe, who, following
the Jewish code of rules as regards food, considered the eating of blood
one of the points on which the Church did not insist against. In the
text Swift ridicules this in the reference to "black pudding." [T. S.]]

When I see an honest freethinking bishop endeavour to destroy the power
and privileges of the Church, and Dr. Atterbury angry with him for it,
and calling it "dirty work," what can I conclude, by virtue of being a
freethinker, but that Christianity is all a cheat?

Mr. Whiston has published several tracts, wherein he absolutely denies
the divinity of Christ: A bishop tells him, "Sir, in any matter where
you have the Church's judgment against you, you should be careful not to
break the peace of the Church, by writing against it, though you are
sure you are in the right."[16] Now my opinion is directly contrary; and
I affirm, that if ten thousand freethinkers thought differently from the
received doctrine, and from each other, they would be all in duty bound
to publish their thoughts (provided they were all sure of being in the
right) though it broke the peace of the Church and state ten thousand

[Footnote 16: Swift's "Sermon on the Trinity," as well as a passage in
his "Thoughts upon Religion," shews the weight which he attached to this
important argument. [S.]]

And here I must take leave to tell you, although you cannot but have
perceived it from what I have already said, and shall be still more
amply convinced by what is to follow; that freethinking signifies
nothing, without freespeaking and freewriting. It is the indispensable
duty of a freethinker, to endeavour forcing all the world to think as he
does, and by that means make them freethinkers too. You are also to
understand, that I allow no man to be a freethinker, any further than as
he differs from the received doctrines of religion. Where a man falls
in, though by perfect chance, with what is generally believed, he is in
that point a confined and limited thinker; and you shall see by and by,
that I celebrate those for the noblest freethinkers in every age, who
differed from the religion of their countries in the most fundamental
points, and especially in those which bear any analogy to the chief
fundamentals of religion among us.

Another trick of the priests is, to charge all men with atheism, who
have more wit than themselves; which therefore I expect will be my case
for writing this discourse: This is what makes them so implacable
against Mr. Gildon, Dr. Tindal, Mr. Toland,[17] and myself, and when they
call us wits, atheists, it provokes us to be freethinkers.

[Footnote 17: See notes on pp. 9, 79, 80, 82.]

Again; the priests cannot agree when their Scripture was written. They
differ about the number of canonical books, and the various readings.
Now those few among us who understand Latin, are careful to tell this to
our disciples, who presently fall a-freethinking, that the Bible is a
book not to be depended upon in anything at all.

There is another thing, that mightily spreads freethinking, which I
believe you would hardly guess. The priests have got a way of late of
writing books against freethinking; I mean treatises in dialogue, where
they introduce atheists, deists, sceptics, and Socinians offering their
several arguments. Now these freethinkers are too hard for the priests
themselves in their own books; and how can it be otherwise? For if the
arguments usually offered by atheists, are fairly represented in these
books, they must needs convert everybody that reads them; because
atheists, deists, sceptics, and Socinians, have certainly better
arguments to maintain their opinions, than any the priests can produce
to maintain the contrary.

Mr. Creech,[18] a priest, translated Lucretius into English, which is a
complete system of atheism; and several young students, who were
afterwards priests, wrote verses in praise of this translation. The
arguments against Providence in that book are so strong, that they have
added mightily to the number of freethinkers.

[Footnote 18: This is Thomas Creech, the translator of Horace, to whom
Swift refers in "The Battle of the Books" (see vol. i. p. 180). The
translation of Lucretius was published in English verse in 1682. [T.

Why should I mention the pious cheats of the priests, who in the New
Testament translate the word _ecclesia_ sometimes the _church_, and
sometimes the _congregation_; and _episcopus_, sometimes a _bishop_, and
sometimes an _overseer_? A priest,[19] translating a book, left out a
whole passage that reflected on the king, by which he was an enemy to
political freethinking, a most considerable branch of our system.
Another priest, translating a book of travels,[20] left out a lying
miracle, out of mere malice, to conceal an argument for freethinking. In
short, these frauds are very common in all books which are published by
priests: But however, I love to excuse them whenever I can: And as to
this accusation, they may plead the authority of the ancient fathers of
the Church, for forgery, corruption, and mangling of authors, with more
reason than for any of their articles of faith. St Jerom, St Hilary,
Eusebius Vercellensis, Victorinus,[21] and several others, were all
guilty of arrant forgery and corruption: For when they translated the
works of several freethinkers, whom they called heretics, they omitted
all their heresies or freethinkings, and had the impudence to own it to
the world.

[Footnote 19: Collins refers to the Rev. Mr. Brown, who translated
Father Paul's "Letters," and omitted the words, "If the King of England
[James I.] were not more a doctor than a king."]

[Footnote 20: Baumgarten's "Travels." [T. S.]]

[Footnote 21: Jerome, or St. Hieronymus (_circa_ 340-420), wrote the
Latin vulgate translation of the Scriptures. Is accepted as one of the
Fathers of the Church.

St. Hilary, another accepted Father, was bishop of Poictiers. He died
367 or 368.

The Eusebius here named was Bishop of Vercelli, a city of Liguria. He
flourished about A.D. 360, and distinguished himself at the Council of
Milan in A.D. 355, for his attacks against Arianism. He was exiled to
Upper Thebais, with several other bishops who refused to subscribe to
the condemnation of Athanasius; but was recalled with Lucifer, bishop of
Cagliari, Sardinia. In conjunction with Athanasius he attended an
Alexandrian synod which declared the Trinity consubstantial. He
travelled much, in the Eastern provinces and Italy, engaging in
missionary work. He died about A.D. 373.

Fabius Marius Victorinus was born in Africa, and died at Rome in 370. He
was a distinguished orator, grammarian, and rhetorician. His chief work
was a treatise entitled "De Orthographia." He also wrote many
theological books. [T. S.]]

From these many notorious instances of the priests' conduct, I conclude
they are not to be relied on in any one thing relating to religion; but
that every man must think freely for himself.

But to this it may be objected, that the bulk of mankind is as well
qualified for flying as thinking, and if every man thought it his duty
to think freely, and trouble his neighbour with his thoughts (which is
an essential part of freethinking,) it would make wild work in the
world. I answer; whoever cannot think freely, may let it alone if he
pleases, by virtue of his right to think freely; that is to say, if such
a man freely thinks that he cannot think freely, of which every man is a
sufficient judge, why, then, he need not think freely, unless he thinks

Besides, if the bulk of mankind cannot think freely in matters of
speculation, as the being of a God, the immortality of the soul, &c. why
then, freethinking is indeed no duty: But then the priests must allow,
that men are not concerned to believe whether there is a God or no. But
still those who are disposed to think freely, may think freely if they

It is again objected, that freethinking will produce endless divisions
in opinion, and by consequence disorder society. To which I answer;

When every single man comes to have a different opinion every day from
the whole world, and from himself, by virtue of freethinking, and thinks
it his duty to convert every man to his own freethinking (as all we
freethinkers do) how can that possibly create so great a diversity of
opinions, as to have a set of priests agree among themselves to teach
the same opinions in their several parishes to all who will come to hear
them? Besides, if all people were of the same opinion, the remedy would
be worse than the disease; I will tell you the reason some other time.

Besides, difference in opinion, especially in matters of great moment,
breeds no confusion at all. Witness Papist and Protestant, Roundhead and
Cavalier, Whig and Tory, now among us. I observe, the Turkish empire is
more at peace within itself, than Christian princes are with one
another. Those noble Turkish virtues of charity and toleration, are what
contribute chiefly to the flourishing state of that happy monarchy.
There Christians and Jews are tolerated, and live at ease, if they can
hold their tongues and think freely, provided they never set foot within
the mosques, nor write against Mahomet: A few plunderings now and then
by the janissaries are all they have to fear.

It is objected, that by freethinking, men will think themselves into
atheism; and indeed I have allowed all along, that atheistical books
convert men to freethinking. But suppose that to be true; I can bring
you two divines who affirm superstition and enthusiasm to be worse than
atheism, and more mischievous to society, and in short it is necessary
that the bulk of the people should be atheists or superstitious.

It is objected, that priests ought to be relied on by the people, as
lawyers and physicians, because it is their faculty.

I answer, 'Tis true, a man who is no lawyer is not suffered to plead for
himself; but every man may be his own quack if he pleases, and he only
ventures his life; but in the other case the priest tells him he must be
damned: Therefore do not trust the priest, but think freely for
yourself, and if you happen to think there is no hell, there certainly
is none, and consequently you cannot be damned; I answer further, that
wherever there is no lawyer, physician, or priest, the country is
paradise. Besides, all priests, (except the orthodox, and those are not
ours, nor any that I know,) are hired by the public to lead men into
mischief; but lawyers and physicians are not, you hire them yourself.

It is objected, (by priests no doubt, but I have forgot their names)
that false speculations are necessary to be imposed upon men, in order
to assist the magistrate in keeping the peace, and that men ought
therefore to be deceived, like children, for their own good. I answer,
that zeal for imposing speculations, whether true or false (under which
name of speculations I include all opinions of religion, as the belief
of a God, Providence, immortality of the soul, future rewards and
punishments, &c.) has done more hurt than it is possible for religion to
do good. It puts us to the charge of maintaining ten thousand priests in
England, which is a burden upon society never felt upon any other
occasion; and a greater evil to the public than if these ecclesiastics
were only employed in the most innocent offices of life, which I take to
be eating and drinking. Now if you offer to impose anything on mankind
besides what relates to moral duties, as to pay your debts, not pick
pockets, nor commit murder, and the like; that is to say, if, besides
this, you oblige them to believe in God and Jesus Christ, what you add
to their faith will take just so much off from their morality. By this
argument it is manifest, that a perfect moral man must be a perfect
atheist; every inch of religion he gets loses him an inch of morality:
For there is a certain _quantum_ belongs to every man, of which there is
nothing to spare. This is clear from the common practice of all our
priests, they never once preach to you to love your neighbour, to be
just in your dealings, or to be sober and temperate. The streets of
London are full of common whores, publicly tolerated in their
wickedness; yet the priests make no complaints against this enormity,
either from the pulpit or the press: I can affirm, that neither you nor
I, sir, have ever heard one sermon against whoring since we were boys.
No, the priests allow all these vices, and love us the better for them,
provided we will promise not "to harangue upon a text," nor to sprinkle
a little water in a child's face, which they call baptizing, and would
engross it all to themselves.

Besides, the priests engage all the rogues, villains, and fools in their
party, in order to make it as large as they can: By this means they
seduced Constantine the Great[22] over to their religion, who was the
first Christian emperor, and so horrible a villain, that the heathen
priests told him they could not expiate his crimes in their church; so
he was at a loss to know what to do, till an AEgyptian bishop assured
him, that there was no villainy so great, but was to be expiated by the
sacraments of the Christian religion; upon which he became a Christian,
and to him that religion owes its first settlement.

[Footnote 22: The reference here is to the luminous cross which
Constantine said he saw in the heavens, and which influenced him to
embrace Christianity. [T. S.]]

It is objected, that freethinkers themselves are the most infamous,
wicked, and senseless of all mankind.

I answer, first, we say the same of priests, and other believers. But
the truth is, men of all sects are equally good and bad; for no religion
whatsoever contributes in the least to mend men's lives.

I answer, secondly, that freethinkers use their understanding, but those
who have religion do not; therefore the first have more understanding
than the others; witness Toland, Tindal, Gildon[23], Clendon, Coward,
and myself. For, use legs and have legs.

[Footnote 23: John Clendon, of the Middle Temple, published in
1709-1710, "Tractatus Philosophico-Theologicus de Persona; or, a
Treatise of the Word Person." This singular book appears to have been
written principally to prove that the doctrine of the Trinity was very
well explained by an Act of Parliament, 9 and 10 Will. III. It was
complained of in the House of Commons, March 25th, 1710, and was judged
to be a scandalous, seditious, and blasphemous libel .... and was burnt
by the common hangman at the same time with Tindal's "Rights." [N.] ]

I answer, thirdly, that freethinkers are the most virtuous persons in
the world; for all freethinkers must certainly differ from the priests,
and from nine hundred ninety-nine of a thousand of those among whom they
live; and are therefore virtuous of course, because everybody hates

I answer, fourthly, that the most virtuous people in all ages have been
freethinkers; of which I shall produce several instances[24].

[Footnote 24: What follows is in ridicule of a long list of
freethinkers, as he calls them, with which Collins has graced his
discourse; in which he includes not only the ancient philosophers, but
the inspired prophets, and even "King Solomon the wise." [S.] ]

Socrates was a freethinker; for he disbelieved the gods of his country,
and the common creeds about them, and declared his dislike when he heard
men attribute "repentance, anger, and other passions to the gods, and
talk of wars and battles in heaven, and of the gods getting women with
child," and such like fabulous and blasphemous stones. I pick out these
particulars, because they are the very same with what the priests have
in their Bibles, where repentance and anger are attributed to God; where
it is said, there was "war in heaven;" and that "the Virgin Mary was
with child by the Holy Ghost," whom the priests call God; all fabulous
and blasphemous stories. Now, I affirm Socrates to have been a true
Christian. You will ask, perhaps, how that can be, since he lived three
or four hundred years before Christ? I answer, with Justin Martyr, that
Christ is nothing else but reason, and I hope you do not think Socrates
lived before reason. Now, this true Christian Socrates never made
notions, speculations, or mysteries, any part of his religion, but
demonstrated all men to be fools who troubled themselves with enquiries
into heavenly things. Lastly, 'tis plain that Socrates was a
freethinker, because he was calumniated for an atheist, as freethinkers
generally are, only because he was an enemy to all speculations and
inquiries into heavenly things. For I argue thus, that if I never
trouble myself to think whether there be a God or no, and forbid others
to do it, I am a freethinker, but not an atheist.

Plato was a freethinker, and his notions are so like some in the Gospel,
that a heathen charged Christ with borrowing his doctrine from Plato.
But Origen[25] defends Christ very well against this charge, by saying
he did not understand Greek, and therefore could not borrow his doctrine
from Plato. However their two religions agreed so well, that it was
common for Christians to turn Platonists, and Platonists Christians.
When the Christians found out this, one of their zealous priests (worse
than any atheist) forged several things under Plato's name, but
conformable to Christianity, by which the heathens were fraudulently

[Footnote 25: Origen, a Father of the Church, was born about 185. He
carried to extremes the celibate life taught in the Gospel; and his
"Treatise against Celsus" contains, according to St. Jerome and
Eusebius, the refutation of "all the objections which have been made,
and all which ever will be made against Christianity." [T. S.] ]

Epicurus was the greatest of all freethinkers, and consequently the most
virtuous man in the world. His opinions in religion were the most
complete system of atheism that ever appeared. Christians ought to have
the greatest veneration for him, because he taught a higher point of
virtue than Christ; I mean the virtue of friendship, which in the sense
we usually understand it, is not so much as named in the New Testament.

Plutarch was a freethinker, notwithstanding his being a priest; but
indeed he was a heathen priest. His freethinking appears by showing the
innocence of atheism, (which at worst is only false reasoning,) and the
mischiefs of superstition; and explains what superstition is, by calling
it a conceit of immortal ills after death, the opinion of hell torments,
dreadful aspects, doleful groans, and the like. He is likewise very
satirical upon the public forms of devotion in his own country (a
qualification absolutely necessary to a freethinker) yet those forms
which he ridicules, are the very same that now pass for true worship in
almost all countries: I am sure some of them do so in ours; such as
abject looks, distortions, wry faces, beggarly tones, humiliation, and

Varro,[26] the most learned among the Romans, was a freethinker; for he
said, the heathen divinity contained many fables below the dignity of
immortal beings; such, for instance, as Gods BEGOTTEN and PROCEEDING
from other Gods. These two words I desire you will particularly remark,
because they are the very terms made use of by our priests in their
doctrine of the Trinity: He says likewise, that there are many things
false in religion, and so say all freethinkers; but then he adds; "which
the vulgar ought not to know, but it is expedient they should believe."
In this last he indeed discovers the whole secret of a statesman and
politician, by denying the vulgar the privilege of freethinking, and
here I differ from him. However, it is manifest from hence, that the
Trinity was an invention of statesmen and politicians.

[Footnote 26: Marcus Terentius Varro (born B.C. 117) was the friend of
Cicero. He was a profound grammarian, historian, and philosopher. The
expression Swift applies to him as "the most learned among the Romans"
is one by which he is generally called. [T. S.] ]

The grave and wise Cato the censor will for ever live in that noble
freethinking saying--"I wonder," said he, "how one of our priests can
forbear laughing when he sees another!" (For contempt of priests is
another grand characteristic of a freethinker). This shews that Cato
understood the whole mystery of the Roman religion "as by law
established." I beg you, sir, not to overlook these last words,
"religion as by law established." I translate _hanisfax,_ into the
general word, _priest_. Thus I apply the sentence to our priests in
England, and, when Dr. Smallridge sees Dr. Atterbury, I wonder how either
of them can forbear laughing at the cheat they put upon the people, by
making them believe their "religion as by law established."

Cicero, that consummate philosopher, and noble patriot, though he was a
priest, and consequently more likely to be a knave; gave the greatest
proofs of his freethinking. First, he professed the sceptic philosophy,
which doubts of everything. Then, he wrote two treatises;[27] in the
first, he shews the weakness of the Stoics' arguments for the being of
the Gods: In the latter, he has destroyed the whole revealed religion of
the Greeks and Romans (for why should not theirs be a revealed religion
as well as that of Christ?) Cicero likewise tells us, as his own
opinion, that they who study philosophy, do not believe there are any
Gods: He denies the immortality of the soul, and says, there can be
nothing after death.

[Footnote 27: "De Natura Deomm." [T. S.] ]

And because the priests have the impudence to quote Cicero in their
pulpits and pamphlets, against freethinking; I am resolved to disarm
them of his authority. You must know, his philosophical works are
generally in dialogues, where people are brought in disputing against
one another: Now the priests when they see an argument to prove a God,
offered perhaps by a Stoic, are such knaves or blockheads, to quote it
as if it were Cicero's own; whereas Cicero was so noble a freethinker,
that he believed nothing at all of the matter, nor ever shews the least
inclination to favour superstition, or the belief of a God, and the
immortality of the soul; unless what he throws out sometimes to save
himself from danger, in his speeches to the Roman mob; whose religion
was, however, much more innocent and less absurd, than that of popery at
least: And I could say more--but you understand me.

Seneca was a great freethinker, and had a noble notion of the worship of
the gods, for which our priests would call any man an atheist: He laughs
at morning devotions, or worshipping upon Sabbath-days; he says God has
no need of ministers and servants, because he himself serves mankind.
This religious man, like his religious brethren the Stoics, denies the
immortality of the soul, and says, all that is feigned to be so terrible
in hell, is but a fable: Death puts an end to all our misery, &c. Yet
the priests were anciently so fond of Seneca, that they forged a
correspondence of letters between him and St. Paul.

Solomon himself, whose writings are called "the word of God," was such a
freethinker, that if he were now alive, nothing but his building of
churches could have kept our priests from calling him an atheist. He
affirms the eternity of the world almost in the same manner with
Manilius,[28] the heathen philosophical poet, (which opinion entirely
overthrows the history of the creation by Moses, and all the New
Testament): He denies the immortality of the soul, assures us that men
die like beasts, and that both go to one place.

[Footnote 28: Marcus Manilius, who probably flourished under Theodosius
the Great, was a Latin poet, who wrote a poem entitled "Astronomica."
[T.S.] ]

The prophets of the Old Testament were generally freethinkers: you must
understand, that their way of learning to prophesy was by music and
drinking.[29] These prophets writ against the established religion of
the Jews, (which those people looked upon as the institution of God
himself,) as if they believed it was all a cheat: that is to say, with
as great liberty against the priests and prophets of Israel, as Dr.
Tindal did lately against the priests and prophets of our Israel, who
has clearly shewn them and their religion to be cheats. To prove this,
you may read several passages in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Jeremiah, &c.,
wherein you will find such instances of freethinking, that, if any
Englishman had talked so in our days, their opinions would have been
registered in Dr. Sacheverell's trial, and in the representation of the
Lower House of Convocation, and produced as so many proofs of the
profaneness, blasphemy, and atheism of the nation; there being nothing
more profane, blasphemous, or atheistical in those representations, than
what these prophets have spoke, whose writings are yet called by our
priests, "the word of God." And therefore these prophets are as much
atheists as myself, or as any of my freethinking brethren whom I lately
named to you.

[Footnote 29: Collins, after making the charge, which has been repeated
by all freethinkers down to Thomas Paine, that the prophets acquired
their fervour of spirit by the aid of music and wine, allows,
nevertheless, that they were great freethinkers, and "writ with as great
liberty against the established religion of the Jews, which the people
looked on as the institution of God himself as if they looked upon it
all to be imposture."--_Discourse_, p. 153, _et sequen._ [S.] ]

Josephus was a great freethinker: I wish he had chosen a better subject
to write on, than those ignorant, barbarous, ridiculous scoundrels, the
Jews, whom God (if we may believe the priests) thought fit to choose for
his own people. I will give you some instances of his freethinking. He
says, Cain travelled through several countries, and kept company with
rakes and profligate fellows; he corrupted the simplicities of former
times, &c., which plainly supposes men before Adam, and consequently
that the priests' history of the creation by Moses, is an imposture. He
says, the Israelites' passing through the Red Sea, was no more than
Alexander's passing at the Pamphilian sea; that as for the appearance of
God at Mount Sinai, the reader may believe it as he pleases; that Moses
persuaded the Jews he had God for his guide, just as the Greeks
pretended they had their laws from Apollo. These are noble strains of
freethinking, which the priests knew not how to solve, but by thinking
as freely: For one of them says, that Josephus writ this to make his
work acceptable to the heathens, by striking out everything that was

Origen, who was the first Christian that had any learning, has left a
noble testimony of his freethinking; for a general council has
determined him to be damned; which plainly shews he was a freethinker,
and was no saint; for people were only sainted because of their want of
learning and excess of zeal; so that all the fathers, who are called
saints by the priests, were worse than atheists.

Minutius Felix[30] seems to be a true modern latitudinarian,
freethinking Christian; for he is against altars, churches, public
preaching, and public assemblies; and likewise against priests; for, he
says, there were several great flourishing empires before there were any
orders of priests in the world.

[Footnote 30: Marcus Minutius Felix is said to have been born in Africa.
He flourished in the third century, and wrote a defence of Christianity,
in dialogue form, entitled, "Octavius." The work has been translated
into English by Lord Hailes. [T.S.]]

Synesius,[31] who had too much learning and too little zeal for a saint,
was for some time a great freethinker; he could not believe the
resurrection till he was made a bishop, and then pretended to be
convinced by a lying miracle.

[Footnote 31: Synesius of Cyrene, born 379, is the Platonic philosopher
who became Bishop of Ptolemais. [T.S.]]

To come to our own country: My Lord Bacon was a great freethinker, when
he tells us, that whatever has the least relation to religion, is
particularly liable to suspicion; by which he seems to suspect all the
facts whereon most of the superstitions (that is to say, what the
priests call the religions) of the world are grounded. He also
prefers atheism before superstition.

Mr. Hobbes was a person of great learning, virtue, and freethinking,
except in the high church politics.

But Archbishop Tillotson is the person whom all English freethinkers own
as their head; and his virtue is indisputable for this manifest reason;
that Dr. Hickes, a priest, calls him an atheist; says, he caused several
to turn atheists, and to ridicule the priesthood and religion. These
must be allowed to be noble effects of freethinking. This great prelate
assures us, that all the duties of the Christian religion, with respect
to God, are no other but what natural light prompts men to, except the
two sacraments, and praying to God in the name and mediation of Christ.
As a priest and prelate, he was obliged to say something of
Christianity; but pray observe, sir, how he brings himself off. He
justly affirms that even these things are of less moment than natural
duties; and because mothers' nursing their children is a natural duty,
it is of more moment than the two sacraments, or than praying to God in
the name and by the mediation of Christ. This freethinking archbishop
could not allow a miracle sufficient to give credit to a prophet who
taught anything contrary to our natural notions: By which it is plain,
he rejected at once all the mysteries of Christianity.

I could name one-and-twenty more great men, who were all freethinkers;
but that I fear to be tedious: For, 'tis certain that all men of sense
depart from the opinions commonly received; and are consequently more or
less men of sense, according as they depart more or less from the
opinions commonly received; neither can you name an enemy to
freethinking, however he be dignified or distinguished, whether
archbishop, bishop, priest, or deacon, who has not been either "a
crack-brained enthusiast, a diabolical villain, or a most profound
ignorant brute."

Thus, sir, I have endeavoured to execute your commands, and you may
print this Letter, if you please; but I would have you conceal my name.
For my opinion of virtue is, that we ought not to venture doing
ourselves harm, by endeavouring to do good.

I am yours, &c.

_I have here given the public a brief, but faithful abstract of this
most excellent Essay; wherein I have all along religiously adhered to
our author's notions, and generally to his words, without any other
addition than that of explaining a few necessary consequences, for the
sake of ignorant readers; for, to those who have the least degree of
learning, I own they will be wholly useless. I hope I have not, in any
single instance, misrepresented the thoughts of this admirable writer.
If I have happened to mistake through inadvertency, I entreat he will
condescend to inform me, and point out the place, upon which I will
immediately beg pardon both of him and the world. The design of his
piece is to recommend freethinking, and one chief motive is the example
of many excellent men who were of that sect. He produces as the
principal points of their freethinking; that they denied the Being of a
God, the Torments of Hell, the Immortality of the Soul, the Trinity,
Incarnation, the history of the creation by Moses, with many other such
"fabulous and blasphemous stories," as he judiciously calls them: And he
asserts, that whoever denies the most of these, is the completest
freethinker, and consequently the wisest and most virtuous man. The
author, sensible of the prejudices of the age, does not directly affirm
himself an atheist; he goes no further than to pronounce that atheism is
the most perfect degree of freethinking; and leaves the reader to form
the conclusion. However, he seems to allow, that a man may be a
tolerable freethinker, though he does believe a God; provided he utterly
rejects "Providence, Revelation, the Old and New Testament, Future
Rewards and Punishments, the Immortality of the Soul," and other the
like impossible absurdities. Which mark of superabundant caution,
sacrificing truth to the superstition of priests, may perhaps be
forgiven, but ought not to be imitated by any who would arrive (even in
this author's judgment) at the true perfection of freethinking._

*****       *****       *****       *****





Discoursing one day with a prelate of the kingdom of Ireland, who is a
person of excellent wit and learning, he offered a notion applicable to
the subject we were then upon, which I took to be altogether new and
right. He said, that the difference betwixt a madman and one in his
wits, in what related to speech, consisted in this; that the former
spoke out whatever came into his mind, and just in the confused manner
as his imagination presented the ideas: The latter only expressed such
thoughts as his judgment directed him to choose, leaving the rest to die
away in his memory; and that, if the wisest man would, at any time,
utter his thoughts in the crude indigested manner as they come into his
head, he would be looked upon as raving mad. And, indeed, when we
consider our thoughts, as they are the seeds of words and actions, we
cannot but agree that they ought to be kept under the strictest
regulation; and that in the great multiplicity of ideas which one's mind
is apt to form, there is nothing more difficult than to select those
which are most proper for the conduct of life. So that I cannot imagine
what is meant by the mighty zeal in some people for asserting the
freedom of thinking; because, if such thinkers keep their thoughts
within their own breasts, they can be of no consequence, farther than to
themselves. If they publish them to the world, they ought to be
answerable for the effects their thoughts produce upon others. There are
thousands in this kingdom, who, in their thoughts, prefer a republic, or
absolute power of a prince, before a limited monarchy; yet, if any of
these should publish their opinions, and go about, by writing or
discourse, to persuade the people to innovations in government, they
would be liable to the severest punishments the law can inflict; and
therefore they are usually so wise as to keep their sentiments to
themselves. But, with respect to religion, the matter is quite
otherwise: and the public, at least here in England, seems to be of
opinion with _Tiberius_, that _Deorum injuriae diis curae_. They leave it
to God Almighty to vindicate the injuries done to himself, who is no
doubt sufficiently able, by perpetual miracles, to revenge the affronts
of impious men. And, it should seem, that is what princes expect from
him, though I cannot readily conceive the grounds they go upon; nor why,
since they are God's vicegerents, they do not think themselves at least
equally obliged to preserve their master's honour as their own; since
this is what they expect from those they depute, and since they never
fail to represent the disobedience of their subjects, as offences
against God. It is true, the visible reason of this neglect is obvious
enough: The consequences of atheistical opinions, published to the
world, are not so immediate, or so sensible, as doctrines of rebellion
and sedition, spread in a proper season. However, I cannot but think the
same consequences are as natural and probable from the former, though
more remote: And whether these have not been in view among our great
planters of infidelity in England, I shall hereafter examine.

*****       *****       *****       *****








No stronger proof could be adduced of Swift's genuine and earnest belief
in the dignity of a clergyman of the Church than this letter. In spite
of the sarcasms which here and there are levelled against the mediocre
members of the class, it is evident Swift felt that these might be made
worthy teachers and preachers of the doctrines of an institution
founded, in his opinion, for the best regulation of mankind. The letter
serves also to present us with an outline of a picture of the clergyman
of his day; and if this picture be not flattering, it seems faithfully
to reflect the social conditions which we know to have prevailed at the

The letter was written in the years of quiet which Swift enjoyed between
the pamphleteering crusade against the Whigs, when Harley and St. John
were in power, and the famous social and political troubles which began
with Wood's halfpence.

The text of this letter is practically that of the first edition; but I
have collated this with the texts given by Hawkesworth, Scott, the first
volume of the "Miscellanies" of 1728, and the second volume of the
"Miscellanies" of 1745. In the original edition, and in the reprints
published to the time of Faulkner's collected edition, the title reads
"A Letter to a Young Gentleman," etc.


  TO A

By a Person of QUALITY.

It is certainly known, that the following Treatise was writ in Ireland
by the Reverend Dr. Swift, Dean of St. Patrick's in that Kingdom.

Dublin, _January the 9th,_ 1719-20.


Although it was against my knowledge or advice, that you entered into
holy orders, under the present dispositions of mankind toward the
Church, yet since it is now supposed too late to recede, (at least
according to the general practice and opinion,) I cannot forbear
offering my thoughts to you upon this new condition of life you are
engaged in.

I could heartily wish that the circumstances of your fortune, had
enabled you to have continued some years longer in the university; at
least till you were ten years standing; to have laid in a competent
stock of human learning, and some knowledge in divinity, before you
attempted to appear in the world: For I cannot but lament the common
course, which at least nine in ten of those who enter into the ministry
are obliged to run. When they have taken a degree, and are consequently
grown a burden to their friends, who now think themselves fully
discharged, they get into orders as soon as they can; (upon which I
shall make no remarks,) first solicit a readership, and if they be very
fortunate, arrive in time to a curacy here in town, or else are sent to
be assistants in the country, where they probably continue several
years, (many of them their whole lives,) with thirty or forty pounds
a-year for their support, till some bishop, who happens to be not
overstocked with relations, or attached to favourites, or is content to
supply his diocese without colonies from England, bestows upon them some
inconsiderable benefice, when it is odds they are already encumbered
with a numerous family. I should be glad to know what intervals of life
such persons can possibly set apart for the improvement of their minds;
or which way they could be furnished with books, the library they
brought with them from their college being usually not the most
numerous, or judiciously chosen. If such gentlemen arrive to be great
scholars, it must, I think, be either by means supernatural, or by a
method altogether out of any road yet known to the learned. But I
conceive the fact directly otherwise, and that many of them lose the
greatest part of the small pittance they receive at the university.

I take it for granted, that you intend to pursue the beaten track, and
are already desirous to be seen in a pulpit, only I hope you will think
it proper to pass your quarantine among some of the desolate churches
five miles round this town, where you may at least learn to read and to
speak before you venture to expose your parts in a city congregation;
not that these are better judges, but because, if a man must needs
expose his folly, it is more safe and discreet to do so before few
witnesses, and in a scattered neighbourhood. And you will do well if you
can prevail upon some intimate and judicious friend to be your constant
hearer, and allow him with the utmost freedom to give you notice of
whatever he shall find amiss either in your voice or gesture; for want
of which early warning, many clergymen continue defective, and sometimes
ridiculous, to the end of their lives; neither is it rare to observe
among excellent and learned divines, a certain ungracious manner, or an
unhappy tone of voice, which they never have been able to shake off.

I should likewise have been glad, if you had applied yourself a little
more to the study of the English language, than I fear you have done;
the neglect whereof is one of the most general defects among the
scholars of this kingdom, who seem not to have the least conception of a
style, but run on in a flat kind of phraseology, often mingled with
barbarous terms and expressions, peculiar to the nation: Neither do I
perceive that any person, either finds or acknowledges his wants upon
this head, or in the least desires to have them supplied. Proper words
in proper places, make the true definition of a style. But this would
require too ample a disquisition to be now dwelt on: however, I shall
venture to name one or two faults, which are easy to be remedied, with a
very small portion of abilities.

The first is the frequent use of obscure terms, which by the women are
called hard words, and by the better sort of vulgar, fine language; than
which I do not know a more universal, inexcusable, and unnecessary
mistake, among the clergy of all distinctions, but especially the
younger practitioners. I have been curious enough to take a list of
several hundred words in a sermon of a new beginner, which not one of
his hearers among a hundred could possibly understand, neither can I
easily call to mind any clergyman of my own acquaintance who is wholly
exempt from this error, although many of them agree with me in the
dislike of the thing. But I am apt to put myself in the place of the
vulgar, and think many words difficult or obscure, which they will not
allow to be so, because those words are obvious to scholars, I believe
the method observed by the famous Lord Falkland[1] in some of his
writings, would not be an ill one for young divines: I was assured by an
old person of quality who knew him well, that when he doubted whether a
word was perfectly intelligible or no, he used to consult one of his
lady's chambermaids, (not the waiting-woman, because it was possible she
might be conversant in romances,) and by her judgment was guided whether
to receive or reject it. And if that great person thought such a caution
necessary in treatises offered to the learned world, it will be sure at
least as proper in sermons, where the meanest hearer is supposed to be
concerned, and where very often a lady's chambermaid may be allowed to
equal half the congregation, both as to quality and understanding. But I
know not how it comes to pass, that professors in most arts and sciences
are generally the worst qualified to explain their meanings to those who
are not of their tribe: a common farmer shall make you understand in
three words, that his foot is out of joint, or his collar-bone broken,
wherein a surgeon, after a hundred terms of art, if you are not a
scholar, shall leave you to seek. It is frequently the same case in law,
physic, and even many of the meaner arts.

[Footnote 1: Lucius Cary, second Viscount Falkland (1610-1643), who was
killed at the battle of Newbury in the great Civil War, was a generous
patron of learning and of the literary men of his day. He was himself a
fine scholar and able writer. Clarendon has recorded his character in
the seventh book of his "History of the Great Rebellion": "A person of
such prodigious parts of learning and knowledge, of that inimitable
sweetness and delight in conversation, of so flowing and obliging an
humanity and goodness to mankind, that, if there were no other brand
upon this odious and accursed Civil War than that single loss, it must
be infamous and execrable to all posterity." Falkland has been made the
hero of a romance by Lord Lytton. [T. S. ] ]

And upon this account it is, that among hard words, I number likewise
those which are peculiar to divinity as it is a science, because I have
observed several clergymen, otherwise little fond of obscure terms, yet
in their sermons very liberal of those which they find in ecclesiastical
writers, as if it were our duty to understand them; which I am sure it
is not. And I defy the greatest divine to produce any law either of God
or man, which obliges me to comprehend the meaning of _omniscience,
omnipresence, ubiquity, attribute, beatific vision,_ with a thousand
others so frequent in pulpits, any more than that of _eccentric,
idiosyncracy, entity,_ and the like. I believe I may venture to insist
farther, that many terms used in Holy Writ, particularly by St Paul,
might with more discretion be changed into plainer speech, except when
they are introduced as part of a quotation.[2]

[Footnote 2: Swift refers to this point in his "Thoughts on Religion,"
and regrets that the explanation of matters of doctrine, which St. Paul
expressed in the current eastern vocabulary, should have been
perpetuated in terms founded on the same terminology. [T. S.] ]

I am the more earnest in this matter, because it is a general complaint,
and the justest in the world. For a divine has nothing to say to the
wisest congregation of any parish in this kingdom, which he may not
express in a manner to be understood by the meanest among them. And this
assertion must be true, or else God requires from us more than we are
able to perform. However, not to contend whether a logician might
possibly put a case that would serve for an exception, I will appeal to
any man of letters, whether at least nineteen in twenty of those
perplexing words might not be changed into easy ones, such as naturally
first occur to ordinary men, and probably did so at first to those very
gentlemen who are so fond of the former.

We are often reproved by divines from the pulpits, on account of our
ignorance in things sacred, and perhaps with justice enough. However, it
is not very reasonable for them to expect, that common men should
understand expressions which are never made use of in common life. No
gentleman thinks it safe or prudent to send a servant with a message,
without repeating it more than once, and endeavouring to put it into
terms brought down to the capacity of the bearer: yet after all this
care, it is frequent for servants to mistake, and sometimes to occasion
misunderstandings among friends. Although the common domestics in some
gentlemen's families have more opportunities of improving their minds
than the ordinary sort of tradesmen.

It is usual for clergymen who are taxed with this learned defect, to
quote Dr. Tillotson, and other famous divines, in their defence; without
considering the difference between elaborate discourses upon important
occasions, delivered to princes or parliaments, written with a view of
being made public, and a plain sermon intended for the middle or lower
size of people. Neither do they seem to remember the many alterations,
additions, and expungings, made by great authors in those treatises
which they prepare for the public. Besides, that excellent prelate
above-mentioned, was known to preach after a much more popular manner in
the city congregations: and if in those parts of his works he be any
where too obscure for the understandings of many who may be supposed to
have been his hearers, it ought to be numbered among his omissions.

The fear of being thought pedants hath been of pernicious consequence to
young divines. This hath wholly taken many of them off from their
severer studies in the university, which they have exchanged for plays,
poems, and pamphlets, in order to qualify them for tea-tables and
coffee-houses. This they usually call "polite conversation; knowing the
world; and reading men instead of books." These accomplishments, when
applied to the pulpit, appear by a quaint; terse, florid style, rounded
into periods and cadences, commonly without either propriety or meaning.
I have listen'd with my utmost attention for half an hour to an orator
of this species, without being able to understand, much less to carry
away one single sentence out of a whole sermon. Others, to shew that
their studies have not been confined to sciences, or ancient authors,
will talk in the style of a gaming ordinary, and White Friars[3], when I
suppose the hearers can be little edified by the terms _palming,
shuffling, biting, bamboozling_ and the like, if they have not been
sometimes conversant among pick-pockets and sharpers. And truly, as they
say, a man is known by his company, so it should seem that a man's
company may be known by his manner of expressing himself, either in
public assemblies, or private conversation.

[Footnote 3: See note on "Alsatia," p. 100. [T. S.] ]

It would be endless to run over the several defects of style among us; I
shall therefore say nothing of the mean and paltry (which are usually
attended by the fustian), much less of the slovenly or indecent. Two
things I will just warn you against; the first is the frequency of flat
unnecessary epithets, and the other is the folly of using old threadbare
phrases, which will often make you go out of your way to find and apply
them, are nauseous to rational hearers, and will seldom express your
meaning as well as your own natural words.

Although, as I have already observed, our English tongue is too little
cultivated in this kingdom; yet the faults are nine in ten owing to
affectation, and not to the want of understanding. When a man's thoughts
are clear, the properest words will generally offer themselves first,
and his own judgment will direct him in what order to place them, so as
they may be best understood. Where men err against this method, it is
usually on purpose, and to shew their learning, their oratory, their
politeness, or their knowledge of the world. In short, that simplicity
without which no human performance can arrive to any great perfection,
is nowhere more eminently useful than in this.

I have been considering that part of oratory which relates to the moving
of the passions; this I observe is in esteem and practice among some
church divines, as well as among all the preachers and hearers of the
fanatic or enthusiastic strain. I will here deliver to you (perhaps with
more freedom than prudence) my opinion upon the point.

The two great orators of Greece and Rome, Demosthenes and Cicero, though
each of them a leader (or as the Greeks call it a demagogue) in a
popular state, yet seem to differ in their practice upon this branch of
their art; the former who had to deal with a people of much more
politeness, learning, and wit, laid the greatest weight of his oratory
upon the strength of his arguments, offered to their understanding and
reason: whereas Tully considered the dispositions of a sincere, more
ignorant, and less mercurial nation, by dwelling almost entirely on the
pathetic part.

But the principal thing to be remembered is, that the constant design of
both these orators in all their speeches, was to drive some one
particular point, either the condemnation or acquittal of an accused
person, a persuasive to war, the enforcing of a law, and the like; which
was determined upon the spot, according as the orators on either side
prevailed. And here it was often found of absolute necessity to inflame
or cool the passions of the audience, especially at Rome where Tully
spoke, and with whose writings young divines (I mean those among them
who read old authors) are more conversant than with those of
Demosthenes, who by many degrees excelled the other at least as an
orator. But I do not see how this talent of moving the passions can be
of any great use toward directing Christian men in the conduct of their
lives, at least in these northern climates, where I am confident the
strongest eloquence of that kind will leave few impressions upon any of
our spirits deep enough to last till the next morning, or rather to the
next meal.[4]

[Footnote 4: Swift's own sermons rarely appealed to the emotions; they
were, in his own phrase, political pamphlets, and aimed at convincing
the reason. [T. S.] ]

But what hath chiefly put me out of conceit with this moving manner of
preaching, is the frequent disappointment it meets with. I know a
gentleman, who made it a rule in reading, to skip over all sentences
where he spied a note of admiration at the end. I believe those
preachers who abound in _epiphonemas_,[5] if they look about them, would
find one part of their congregation out of countenance, and the other
asleep, except perhaps an old female beggar or two in the aisles, who
(if they be sincere) may probably groan at the sound.

[Footnote 5: _Epiphonema_ is a figure in rhetoric, signifying a
sententious kind of exclamation. [S.] ]

Nor is it a wonder, that this expedient should so often miscarry, which
requires so much art and genius to arrive at any perfection in it, as
any man will find, much sooner than learn by consulting Cicero himself.

I therefore entreat you to make use of this faculty (if you ever be so
unfortunate as to think you have it) as seldom, and with as much caution
as you can, else I may probably have occasion to say of you as a great
person said of another upon this very subject. A lady asked him coming
out of church, whether it were not a very moving discourse? "Yes," said
he, "I was extremely sorry, for the man is my friend."

If in company you offer something for a jest, and nobody second you in
your own laughter, nor seems to relish what you said, you may condemn
their taste, if you please, and appeal to better judgments; but in the
meantime, it must be agreed you make a very indifferent figure; and it
is at least equally ridiculous to be disappointed in endeavouring to
make other folks grieve, as to make them laugh.

A plain convincing reason may possibly operate upon the mind both of a
learned and ignorant hearer as long as they live, and will edify a
thousand times more than the art of wetting the handkerchiefs of a whole
congregation, if you were sure to attain it.

If your arguments be strong, in God's name offer them in as moving a
manner as the nature of the subject will properly admit, wherein reason
and good advice will be your safest guides; but beware of letting the
pathetic part swallow up the rational: For I suppose, philosophers have
long agreed, that passion should never prevail over reason.

As I take it, the two principal branches of preaching are first to tell
the people what is their duty, and then to convince them that it is so.
The topics for both these, we know, are brought from Scripture and
reason. Upon this first, I wish it were often practised to instruct the
hearers in the limits, extent, and compass of every duty, which requires
a good deal of skill and judgment: the other branch is, I think, not so
difficult. But what I would offer them both, is this; that it seems to
be in the power of a reasonable clergyman, if he will be at the pains,
to make the most ignorant man comprehend what is his duty, and to
convince him by argument drawn to the level of his understanding, that
he ought to perform it.

But I must remember that my design in this paper was not so much to
instruct you in your business either as a clergyman or a preacher, as to
warn you against some mistakes which are obvious to the generality of
mankind as well as to me; and we who are hearers, may be allowed to have
some opportunities in the quality of being standers-by. Only perhaps I
may now again transgress by desiring you to express the heads of your
divisions in as few and clear words as you possibly can, otherwise, I
and many thousand others will never be able to retain them, nor
consequently to carry away a syllable of the sermon.

I shall now mention a particular wherein your whole body will be
certainly against me, and the laity almost to a man on my side. However
it came about, I cannot get over the prejudice of taking some little
offence at the clergy for perpetually reading their sermons[6]; perhaps
my frequent hearing of foreigners, who never made use of notes, may have
added to my disgust. And I cannot but think, that whatever is read,
differs as much from what is repeated without book, as a copy does from
an original. At the same time, I am highly sensible what an extreme
difficulty it would be upon you to alter this method, and that, in such
a case, your sermons would be much less valuable than they are, for want
of time to improve and correct them. I would therefore gladly come to a
compromise with you in this matter. I knew a clergyman of some
distinction, who appeared to deliver his sermon without looking into his
notes, which when I complimented him upon, he assured me he could not
repeat six lines; but his method was to write the whole sermon in a
large plain hand, with all the forms of margin, paragraph, marked page,
and the like; then on Sunday morning he took care to run it over five or
six times, which he could do in an hour; and when he deliver'd it, by
pretending to turn his face from one side to the other, he would (in his
own expression) pick up the lines, and cheat his people by making them
believe he had it all by heart. He farther added, that whenever he
happened by neglect to omit any of these circumstances, the vogue of the
parish was, "Our doctor gave us but an indifferent sermon to-day." Now
among us, many clergymen act too directly contrary to this method, that
from a habit of saving time and paper, which they acquired at the
University, they write in so diminutive a manner, with such frequent
blots and interlineations, that they are hardly able to go on without
perpetual hesitations or extemporary expletives: And I desire to know
what can be more inexcusable, than to see a divine and a scholar, at a
loss in reading his own compositions, which it is supposed he has been
preparing with much pains and thought for the instruction of his people?
The want of a little more care in this article, is the cause of much
ungraceful behaviour. You will observe some clergymen with their heads
held down from the beginning to the end, within an inch of the cushion,
to read what is hardly legible; which, besides the untoward manner,
hinders them from making the best advantage of their voice: others again
have a trick of popping up and down every moment from their paper to the
audience, like an idle school-boy on a repetition day.

[Footnote 6: "The custom of reading sermons," notes Scott, "seems
originally to have arisen in opposition to the practice of Dissenters,
many of whom affected to trust to their Inspiration in their _extempore_
harangues." [T. S.] ]

Let me entreat you, therefore, to add one half-crown a year to the
article of paper; to transcribe your sermons in as large and plain a
manner as you can, and either make no interlineations, or change the
whole leaf; for we your hearers would rather you should be less correct
than perpetually stammering, which I take to be one of the worst
solecisms in rhetoric: And lastly, read your sermon once or twice for a
few days before you preach it: to which you will probably answer some
years hence, "that it was but just finished when the last bell rang to
church:" and I shall readily believe, but not excuse you.

I cannot forbear warning you in the most earnest manner against
endeavouring at wit in your sermons, because by the strictest
computation, it is very near a million to one that you have none; and
because too many of your calling have consequently made themselves
everlastingly ridiculous by attempting it. I remember several young men
in this town, who could never leave the pulpit under half a dozen
conceits; and this faculty adhered to those gentlemen a longer or
shorter time exactly in proportion to their several degrees of dulness:
accordingly, I am told that some of them retain it to this day. I
heartily wish the brood were at an end.

Before you enter into the common insufferable cant of taking all
occasions to disparage the heathen philosophers, I hope you will differ
from some of your brethren, by first enquiring what those philosophers
can say for themselves. The system of morality to be gathered out of the
writings or sayings of those ancient sages, falls undoubtedly very short
of that delivered in the Gospel, and wants besides, the divine sanction
which our Saviour gave to His. Whatever is further related by the
evangelists, contains chiefly, matters of fact, and consequently of
faith, such as the birth of Christ, His being the Messiah, His Miracles,
His death, resurrection, and ascension. None of which can properly come
under the appellation of human wisdom, being intended only to make us
wise unto salvation. And therefore in this point nothing can justly be
laid to the charge of the philosophers further than that they were
ignorant of certain facts that happened long after their death. But I am
deceived, if a better comment could be anywhere collected, upon the
moral part of the Gospel, than from the writings of those excellent men;
even that divine precept of loving our enemies, is at large insisted on
by Plato, who puts it, as I remember, into the mouth of Socrates.[7] And
as to the reproach of heathenism, I doubt they had less of it than the
corrupted Jews in whose time they lived. For it is a gross piece of
ignorance among us to conceive that in those polite and learned ages,
even persons of any tolerable education, much less the wisest
philosophers did acknowledge or worship any more than one almighty
power, under several denominations, to whom they allowed all those
attributes we ascribe to the Divinity: and as I take it, human
comprehension reacheth no further: neither did our Saviour think it
necessary to explain to us the nature of God, because I suppose it would
be impossible without bestowing on us other faculties than we possess at
present. But the true misery of the heathen world appears to be what I
before mentioned, the want of a Divine Sanction, without which the
dictates of the philosophers failed in the point of authority, and
consequently the bulk of mankind lay indeed under a great load of
ignorance even in the article of morality, but the philosophers
themselves did not. Take the matter in this light, it will afford field
enough for a divine to enlarge on, by showing the advantages which the
Christian world has over the heathen, and the absolute necessity of
Divine Revelation, to make the knowledge of the true God, and the
practice of virtue more universal in the world.

[Footnote 7: This is in the "Crito" of Plato, where Socrates says it is
wrong to do harm to our enemies. [T. S.] ]

I am not ignorant how much I differ in this opinion from some ancient
fathers in the Church, who arguing against the heathens, made it a
principal topic to decry their philosophy as much as they could: which,
I hope, is not altogether our present case. Besides, it is to be
considered, that those fathers lived in the decline of literature; and
in my judgment (who should be unwilling to give the least offence)
appear to be rather most excellent, holy persons, than of transcendent
genius and learning. Their genuine writings (for many of them have
extremely suffered by spurious editions) are of admirable use for
confirming the truth of ancient doctrines and discipline, by shewing the
state and practice of the primitive church. But among such of them as
have fallen in my way, I do not remember any whose manner of arguing or
exhorting I could heartily recommend to the imitation of a young divine
when he is to speak from the pulpit. Perhaps I judge too hastily; there
being several of them in whose writings I have made very little
progress, and in others none at all. For I perused only such as were
recommended to me, at a time when I had more leisure and a better
disposition to read, than have since fallen to my share.[8]

[Footnote 8: Swift must refer here to the years he spent at Moor Park,
in the house of Sir William Temple. The "Tale of a Tub," however, shows
that he had not idled his time, and that his acquaintance with the
writings of the fathers was fairly intimate. [T, S.] ]

To return then to the heathen philosophers, I hope you will not only
give them quarter, but make their works a considerable part of your
study: To these I will venture to add the principal orators and
historians, and perhaps a few of the poets: by the reading of which, you
will soon discover your mind and thoughts to be enlarged, your
imagination extended and refined, your judgment directed, your
admiration lessened, and your fortitude increased; all which advantages
must needs be of excellent use to a divine, whose duty it is to preach
and practise the contempt of human things.

I would say something concerning quotations, wherein I think you cannot
be too sparing, except from Scripture, and the primitive writers of the
Church. As to the former, when you offer a text as a proof of an
illustration, we your hearers expect to be fairly used, and sometimes
think we have reason to complain, especially of you younger divines,
which makes us fear that some of you conceive you have no more to do
than to turn over a concordance, and there having found the principal
word, introduce as much of the verse as will serve your turn, though in
reality it makes nothing for you. I do not altogether disapprove the
manner of interweaving texts of scripture through the style of your
sermons, wherein however, I have sometimes observed great instances of
indiscretion and impropriety, against which I therefore venture to give
you a caution.

As to quotations from ancient fathers, I think they are best brought in
to confirm some opinion controverted by those who differ from us: in
other cases we give you full power to adopt the sentence for your own,
rather than tell us, "as St. Austin excellently observes." But to
mention modern writers by name, or use the phrase of "a late excellent
prelate of our Church," and the like, is altogether intolerable, and for
what reason I know not, makes every rational hearer ashamed. Of no
better a stamp is your "heathen philosopher" and "famous poet," and
"Roman historian," at least in common congregations, who will rather
believe you on your own word, than on that of Plato or Homer.

I have lived to see Greek and Latin almost entirely driven out of the
pulpit, for which I am heartily glad. The frequent use of the latter was
certainly a remnant of Popery which never admitted Scripture in the
vulgar language; and I wonder, that practice was never accordingly
objected to us by the fanatics.

The mention of quotations puts me in mind of commonplace books, which
have been long in use by industrious young divines, and I hear do still
continue so. I know they are very beneficial to lawyers and physicians,
because they are collections of facts or cases, whereupon a great part
of their several faculties depend; of these I have seen several, but
never yet any written by a clergyman; only from what I am informed, they
generally are extracts of theological and moral sentences drawn from
ecclesiastical and other authors, reduced under proper heads, usually
begun, and perhaps finished, while the collectors were young in the
church, as being intended for materials or nurseries to stock future
sermons. You will observe the wise editors of ancient authors, when they
meet a sentence worthy of being distinguished, take special care to have
the first word printed in capital letters, that you may not overlook it:
Such, for example, as the INCONSTANCY of FORTUNE, the GOODNESS of PEACE,
men INSOLENT, and ADVERSITY HUMBLE; and the like eternal truths, which
every ploughman knows well enough before Aristotle or Plato were
born.[9]  If theological commonplace books be no better filled, I think
they had better be laid aside, and I could wish that men of tolerable
intellectuals would rather trust their own natural reason, improved by a
general conversation with books, to enlarge on points which they are
supposed already to understand. If a rational man reads an excellent
author with just application, he shall find himself extremely improved,
and perhaps insensibly led to imitate that author's perfections,
although in a little time he should not remember one word in the book,
nor even the subject it handled: for books give the same turn to our
thoughts and way of reasoning, that good and ill company do to our
behaviour and conversation; without either loading our memories, or
making us even sensible of the change. And particularly I have observed
in preaching, that no men succeed better than those who trust entirely
to the stock or fund of their own reason, advanced indeed, but not
overlaid by commerce with books. Whoever only reads in order to
transcribe wise and shining remarks, without entering into the genius
and spirit of the author, as it is probable he will make no very
judicious extract, so he will be apt to trust to that collection in all
his compositions, and be misled out of the regular way of thinking, in
order to introduce those materials, which he has been at the pains to
gather and the product of all this will be found a manifest incoherent
piece of patchwork.

[Footnote 9: Thus in first edition. Scott and Hawkesworth have: "though
he never heard of Aristotle or Plato." [T.S.]]

Some gentlemen abounding in their university erudition, are apt to fill
their sermons with philosophical terms and notions of the metaphysical
or abstracted kind, which generally have one advantage, to be equally
understood by the wise, the vulgar, and the preacher himself. I have
been better entertained, and more informed by a chapter[10] in the
"Pilgrim's Progress," than by a long discourse upon the will and the
intellect, and simple or complex ideas. Others again, are fond of
dilating on matter and motion, talk of the fortuitous concourse of
atoms, of theories, and phenomena, directly against the advice of St
Paul, who yet appears to have been conversant enough in those kinds of

[Footnote 10: Thus in first edition. Scott and Hawkesworth have "a few
pages" instead of "a chapter" [T. S ]]

I do not find that you are anywhere directed in the canons or articles,
to attempt explaining the mysteries of the Christian religion. And
indeed since Providence intended there should be mysteries, I do not see
how it can be agreeable to piety, orthodoxy or good sense, to go about
such a work. For, to me there seems to be a manifest dilemma in the case
if you explain them, they are mysteries no longer, if you fail, you have
laboured to no purpose. What I should think most reasonable and safe for
you to do upon this occasion is, upon solemn days to deliver the
doctrine as the Church holds it, and confirm it by Scripture. For my
part, having considered the matter impartially, I can see no great
reason which those gentlemen you call the freethinkers can have for
their clamour against religious mysteries, since it is plain, they were
not invented by the clergy, to whom they bring no profit, nor acquire
any honour. For every clergyman is ready either to tell us the utmost he
knows, or to confess that he does not understand them; neither is it
strange that there should be mysteries in divinity as well as in the
commonest operations of nature.

And here I am at a loss what to say upon the frequent custom of
preaching against atheism, deism, freethinking, and the like, as young
divines are particularly fond of doing especially when they exercise
their talent in churches frequented by persons of quality, which as it
is but an ill compliment to the audience; so I am under some doubt
whether it answers the end.

Because persons under those imputations are generally no great
frequenters of churches, and so the congregation is but little edified
for the sake of three or four fools who are past grace. Neither do I
think it any part of prudence to perplex the minds of well-disposed
people with doubts, which probably would never have otherwise come into
their heads. But I am of opinion, and dare be positive in it, that not
one in an hundred of those who pretend to be freethinkers, are really so
in their hearts. For there is one observation which I never knew to
fail, and I desire you will examine it in the course of your life, that
no gentleman of a liberal education, and regular in his morals, did ever
profess himself a freethinker: where then are these kind of people to be
found? Among the worst part of the soldiery made up of pages, younger
brothers of obscure families, and others of desperate fortunes; or else
among idle town fops, and now and then a drunken 'squire of the country.
Therefore nothing can be plainer, than that ignorance and vice are two
ingredients absolutely necessary in the composition of those you
generally call freethinkers, who in propriety of speech, are no thinkers
at all. And since I am in the way of it, pray consider one thing
farther: as young as you are, you cannot but have already observed, what
a violent run there is among too many weak people against university
education. Be firmly assured, that the whole cry is made up by those who
were either never sent to a college; or through their irregularities and
stupidity never made the least improvement while they were there. I have
at least[11] forty of the latter sort now in my eye; several of them in
this town, whose learning, manners, temperance, probity, good-nature,
and politics, are all of a piece. Others of them in the country,
oppressing their tenants, tyrannizing over the neighbourhood, cheating
the vicar, talking nonsense, and getting drunk at the sessions. It is
from such seminaries as these, that the world is provided with the
several tribes and denominations of freethinkers, who, in my judgment,
are not to be reformed by arguments offered to prove the truth of the
Christian religion, because reasoning will never make a man correct an
ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired: for in the course of
things, men always grow vicious before they become unbelievers; but if
you would once convince the town or country profligate, by topics drawn
from the view of their own quiet, reputation, health, and advantage,
their infidelity would soon drop off: This I confess is no easy task,
because it is almost in a literal sense, to fight with beasts. Now, to
make it clear, that we are to look for no other original of this
infidelity, whereof divines so much complain, it is allowed on all
hands, that the people of England are more corrupt in their morals than
any other nation at this day under the sun: and this corruption is
manifestly owing to other causes, both, numerous and obvious, much more
than to the publication of irreligious books, which indeed are but the
consequence of the former. For all the writers against Christianity
since the Revolution have been of the lowest rank among men in regard to
literature, wit, and good sense, and upon that account wholly
unqualified to propagate heresies, unless among a people already

[Footnote 11: Scott and Hawkesworth print "above forty." [T. S.]]

In an age where everything disliked by those who think with the majority
is called disaffection, it may perhaps be ill interpreted, when I
venture to tell you that this universal depravation of manners is owing
to the perpetual bandying of factions among us for thirty years past;
when without weighing the motives of justice, law, conscience, or
honour, every man adjusts his principles to those of the party he hath
chosen, and among whom he may best find his own account: But by reason
of our frequent vicissitudes, men who were impatient of being out of
play, have been forced to recant, or at least to reconcile their former
tenets with every new system of administration. Add to this, that the
old fundamental custom of annual parliaments being wholly laid aside,
and elections growing chargeable, since gentlemen found that their
country seats brought them in less than a seat in the House, the voters,
that is to say, the bulk of the common people have been universally
seduced into bribery, perjury, drunkenness, malice, and slanders.

Not to be further tedious, or rather invidious, these are a few among
other causes which have contributed to the ruin of our morals, and
consequently to the contempt of religion: For imagine to yourself, if
you please, a landed youth, whom his mother would never suffer to look
into a book for fear of spoiling his eyes, got into parliament, and
observing all enemies to the clergy heard with the utmost applause, what
notions he must imbibe; how readily he will join in the cry; what an
esteem he will conceive of himself; and what a contempt he must
entertain, not only for his vicar at home, but for the whole order.

I therefore again conclude, that the trade of infidelity hath been taken
up only for an expedient to keep in countenance that universal
corruption of morals, which many other causes first contributed to
introduce and to cultivate. And thus, Mr. Hobbes' saying upon reason may
be much more properly applied to religion: that, "if religion will be
against a man, a man will be against religion." Though after all, I have
heard a profligate offer much stronger arguments against paying his
debts, than ever he was known to do against Christianity; indeed the
reason was, because in that juncture he happened to be closer pressed by
the bailiff than the parson.

Ignorance may perhaps be the mother of superstition; but experience hath
not proved it to be so of devotion: for Christianity always made the
most easy and quickest progress in civilized countries. I mention this
because it is affirmed that the clergy are in most credit where
ignorance prevails (and surely this kingdom would be called the paradise
of clergymen if that opinion were true) for which they instance England
in the times of Popery. But whoever knows anything of three or four
centuries before the Reformation, will find the little learning then
stirring was more equally divided between the English clergy and laity
than it is at present. There were several famous lawyers in that period,
whose writings are still in the highest repute, and some historians and
poets who were not of the Church.[12] Whereas now-a-days our education
is so corrupted, that you will hardly find a young person of quality
with the least tincture of knowledge, at the same time that many of the
clergy were never more learned, or so scurvily treated. Here among us,
at least, a man of letters out of the three professions, is almost a
prodigy. And those few who have preserved any rudiments of learning are
(except perhaps one or two smatterers) the clergy's friends to a man:
and I dare appeal to any clergyman in this kingdom, whether the greatest
dunce in the parish be not always the most proud, wicked, fraudulent,
and intractable of his flock.

[Footnote 12: What Swift calls learning was, in his day, the property,
so to speak, of professional men, such as divines, lawyers, and
university teachers. The common man was too poor or too much taxed to
acquire it; the aristocrat often too lazy or too fond of
pleasure-seeking to bother about it. The Pre-Reformation days, to which
Swift refers, could boast such men as Fabyan, Hall, Chaucer, Gower, and
Caxton, as well as Lord Berners, Sir Thomas More, and Lydgate, who were
not, in any sense, professional men. [T.S.]]

I think the clergy have almost given over perplexing themselves and
their hearers with abstruse points of Predestination, Election, and the
like; at least it is time they should; and therefore I shall not trouble
you further upon this head.

I have now said all I could think convenient with relation to your
conduct in the pulpit: your behaviour in life[13] is another scene, upon
which I shall readily offer you my thoughts, if you appear to desire
them from me by your approbation of what I have here written; if not, I
have already troubled you too much.

[Footnote 13: Scott and Hawkesworth print "your behaviour in the world."
The above is the reading of the first edition. [T. S.]]

  I am, Sir,
  Your Affectionate
  Friend and Servant

  January 9th.

*****       *****       *****       *****





The years between that which saw the publication of the "Drapier
Letters," and that which rang with the fame of "Gulliver's Travels,"
were busy fighting years for Swift. Apart from his vigorous championship
of the Test, and his war against the Dissenters, he espoused the cause
of the inferior clergy of his own Church, as against the bishops. The
business of filling the vacant sees of Ireland had degenerated into what
we should now call "jobbery"; and during the period of Sir Robert
Walpole's administration it was rarely that an Irishman was selected. On
any question, therefore, which affected the welfare of the lower clergy,
it will at once be seen, that the Lords Spiritual, sitting in the Irish
Upper House, would find little difficulty in coming to a solution. That
the solution should also be one which only increased the clergy's
difficulties, might be expected from a body which aimed chiefly at
acquiring wealth and power for itself.

In the reign of Charles I. an act was passed, "prohibiting all bishops,
and other ecclesiastical corporations, from setting their lands for
above the term of twenty-one years: the rent reserved to be half the
real value of such lands at the time they were set." As Swift points
out, about the time of the Reformation, a trade was carried on by the
popish bishops, who felt that their terms of office would be short, and
who, consequently, to get what benefit they could while in office, "made
long leases and fee-farms of great part of their lands, reserving very
inconsiderable rents, sometimes only a chiefry." It was owing to a
continuance in this traffic by the bishops when they became Protestants,
and to a recognition of the injustice of such alienation, that the
legislature passed the act. In 1723, however, an attempt was made for
its repeal. Swift was not the man to permit the bishops to have their
way, if he could help it. His opinion of Irish bishops is well known.
"No blame," he said, "rested with the court for these appointments.
Excellent and moral men had been selected upon every occasion of
vacancy, but it unfortunately happened, that as these worthy divines
crossed Hounslow Heath, on their way to Ireland, to take possession of
their bishoprics, they have been regularly robbed and murdered by the
highwaymen frequenting that common, who seize upon their robes and
patents, come over to Ireland, and are consecrated bishops in their
stead." To prevent, therefore, the encroachments of such individuals he
wrote this tract, in which he clearly demonstrates the justice and
salutariness of Charles's act. His contention, as Monck Mason points out
("History of St. Patrick's Cathedral," p. 392, note 1) "is confirmed by
all writers upon the subject," and quotes from Carte's "Life of James,
Duke of Ormond," where it is stated that the bishoprics in Ireland had,
"the greatest part of them, been depauperated in the change of religion
by absolute grants and long leases (made generally by the popish bishops
that conformed)--some of them not able to maintain a bishop, several
were, by these means, reduced to £50 a year, as Waterford, Kilfenora,
and others, and some to five marks, as Cloyne and Kilmacduagh." To Swift
is largely due the fact that the House of Commons, when they received
the bill from the Lords, threw it out.

Scott, in his note on this pamphlet (amended from one by Lord Orrery),
takes his usual course when considering Swift's attitude of opposition
--he implies a motive or prejudice. In his opinion, Swift considered the
bill for the repeal of Charles's act, "an indirect mode of gratifying
the existing bishops, whom he did not regard with peculiar respect or
complacency, at the expense of the Church establishment," and that,
therefore, "the spirit of his opposition is, in this instance,
peculiarly caustic." As a matter of fact, the spirit of Swift's
opposition was always peculiarly caustic, in this case no more so than
in any other. But to imply that his motive was a self gratifying one
only, is to treat Swift unfairly. If the bishops required an example as
to how they should deal with their lands, they could easily have found
one in Swift himself. In all the renewals of the leases of the Deanery
lands, Swift never sought his own immediate advantage, his terms were
based on the consideration that the lands were his only in trust for a
successor. To take one instance only, the instance of the parish of
Kilberry in county Kildare, cited by Monck Mason (p. 27, note h). In
1695 the rent of this parish was reserved at £100 English sterling, in
1717, Swift raised this rent to £150, in 1731 to £170, and in 1741 to
£200 per annum, with a proportionable loss of fine upon each occasion.

The tract is dated October 21st, 1723, but as I have not come across a
copy of the original separate issue, I have based the text on that given
by Faulkner (vol. iv, 1735), and the title page here reproduced is from
that edition. The fifth volume of "Miscellanies," also issued in 1735,
contains this tract, and I have compared the texts of the two. The notes
given in Scott's edition are, in the main, altered from Faulkner's


  REMARKS on some _Queries_
  lately published.

_Mibi credite, major haereditas venit unicuique vestraem in iisdem bonis ae
jure & ae legibus, quam ab iis ae quibus illa ipsa bona relicta sunt._

Cicero _pro_ A. Caecina.

Written in the Year 1723.

Printed in the Year MDCCXXXIII.

In handling this subject, I shall proceed wholly upon the supposition,
that those of our party, who profess themselves members of the church
established, and under the apostolical government of bishops, do desire
the continuance and transmission of it to posterity, at least, in as
good a condition as it is at present. Because, as this discourse is not
calculated for dissenters of any kind; so neither will it suit the talk
or sentiments of those persons, who, with the denomination of churchmen,
are oppressors of the inferior clergy, and perpetually quarrelling at
the great incomes of the bishops; which is a traditional cant delivered
down from former times, and continued with great reason, although it be
now near 200 years since almost three parts in four of the church
revenues have been taken from the clergy: Besides the spoils that have
been gradually made ever since, of glebes and other lands, by the
confusion of times, the fraud of encroaching neighbours, or the power of
oppressors, too great to be encountered.

About the time of the Reformation, many popish bishops of this kingdom,
knowing they must have been soon ejected, if they would not change their
religion, made long leases and fee-farms of great part of their lands,
reserving very inconsiderable rents, sometimes only a chiefry; by a
power they assumed, directly contrary to many ancient canons, yet
consistent enough with the common law. This trade held on for many years
after the bishops became Protestants; and some of their names are still
remembered with infamy, on account of enriching their families by such
sacrilegious alienations. By these means, episcopal revenues were so low
reduced, that three or four sees were often united to make a tolerable
competency. For some remedy to this evil, King James the First, by a
bounty that became a good Christian prince, bestowed several forfeited
lands on the northern bishoprics: But in all other parts of the kingdom,
the Church continued still in the same distress and poverty; some of the
sees hardly possessing enough to maintain a country vicar. About the
middle of King Charles the First's reign, the legislature here thought
fit to put a stop, at least, to any farther alienations; and so a law
was enacted, prohibiting all bishops, and other ecclesiastical
corporations, from setting their lands for above the term of twenty-one
years; the rent reserved to be one half of the real value of such lands
at the time they were set, without which condition the lease to be void.

Soon after the restoration of King Charles the Second, the parliament
taking into consideration the miserable estate of the Church, certain
lands, by way of augmentation, were granted to eight bishops in the act
of settlement, and confirmed in the act of explanation; of which bounty,
as I remember, three sees were, in a great measure, defeated; but by
what accidents, it is not here of any importance to relate.

This, at present, is the condition of the Church in Ireland, with regard
to Episcopal revenues: Which I have thus briefly (and, perhaps,
imperfectly) deduced for some information to those, whose thoughts do
not lead them to such considerations.

By virtue of the statute, already mentioned, under King Charles the
First, limiting ecclesiastical bodies to the term of twenty-one years,
under the reserved rent of half real value, the bishops have had some
share in the gradual rise of lands, without which they could not have
been supported, with any common decency that might become their station.
It is above eighty years since the passing of that act: The see of
Meath, one of the best in the kingdom, was then worth about £400 _per
annum_; the poorer ones in the same proportion. If this were their
present condition, I cannot conceive how they would have been able to
pay for their patents, or buy their robes: But this will certainly be
the condition of their successors, if such a bill should pass, as they
say is now intended, which I will suppose, and believe, many persons,
who may give a vote for it, are not aware of.

However, this is the act which is now attempted to be repealed, or, at
least, eluded; some are for giving bishops leave to let fee-farms;
others would allow them to let leases for lives; and the most moderate
would repeal that clause, by which the bishops are bound to let their
lands at half value.

The reasons for the rise of value in lands, are of two kinds. Of the
first kind, are long peace and settlement after the devastations of war;
plantations, improvements of bad soil, recovery of bogs and marshes,
advancement of trade and manufactures, increase of inhabitants,
encouragement of agriculture, and the like.

But there is another reason for the rise of land, more gradual, constant
and certain; which will have its effects in countries that are very far
from flourishing in any of the advantages I have just mentioned: I mean
_the perpetual decrease in the value of gold and silver_. I shall
discourse upon these two different kinds, with a view towards the bill
now attempted.

As to the first: I cannot see how this kingdom is at any height of
improvement, while four parts in five of the plantations for 30 years
past, have been real disimprovements; nine in ten of the quick-set
hedges being ruined for want of care or skill. And as to forest trees,
they being often taken out of woods, and planted in single rows on the
tops of ditches, it is impossible they should grow to be of use, beauty,
or shelter. Neither can it be said, that the soil of Ireland is improved
to its full height, while so much lies all winter under water, and the
bogs made almost desperate by the ill cutting of the turf. There hath,
indeed, been some little improvement in the manufactures of linen and
woollen, although very short of perfection: But our trade was never in
so low a condition: And as to agriculture, of which all wise nations
have been so tender, the desolation made in the country by engrossing
graziers, and the great yearly importation of corn from England, are
lamentable instances under what discouragement it lies.

But, notwithstanding all these mortifications, I suppose there is no
well-wisher to his country, without a little hope, that in time the
kingdom may be on a better foot in some of the articles above mentioned.
But it would be hard, if ecclesiastical bodies should be the only
persons excluded from any share in public advantages; which yet can
never happen, without a greater share of profit to their tenants: If God
"sends rain equally upon the just and the unjust;" why should those who
wait at His altars, and are instructors of the people, be cut off from
partaking in the general benefits of law, or of nature?

But, as this way of reasoning may seem to bear a more favourable eye
to the clergy, than perhaps will suit with the present disposition, or
fashion of the age; I shall, therefore, dwell more largely upon the
second reason for the rise of land, which is the perpetual decrease of
the value of gold and silver.

This may be observed from the course of the Roman history, above two
thousand years before those inexhaustible silver mines of Potosi were
known. The value of an obolus, and of every other coin between the time
of Romulus and that of Augustus, gradually sunk about five parts in six,
as appears by several passages out of the best authors. And yet, the
prodigious wealth of that state did not arise from the increase of
bullion in the world, by the discovery of new mines, but from a much
more accidental cause, which was, the spreading of their conquests, and
thereby importing into Rome and Italy, the riches of the east and west.

When the seat of empire was removed to Constantinople, the tide of money
flowed that way, without ever returning; and was scattered in Asia. But
when that mighty empire was overthrown by the northern people, such a
stop was put to all trade and commerce, that vast sums of money were
buried, to escape the plundering of the conquerors; and what remained
was carried off by those ravagers.

It were no difficult matter to compute the value of money in England,
during the Saxon reigns; but the monkish and other writers since the
Conquest, have put that matter in a clearer light, by the several
accounts they have given us of the value of corn and cattle, in years of
dearth and plenty. Every one knows, that King John's whole portion,
before he came to the crown, was but five thousand pounds, without a
foot of land.

I have likewise seen the steward's accounts, of an ancient noble family
in England, written in Latin, between three and four hundred years ago,
with the several prices of wine and victuals, to confirm my

I have been at the trouble of computing (as others have done) the
different values of money for about four hundred years past. Henry Duke
of Lancaster, who lived about that period, founded an hospital in
Leicester, for a certain number of old men; charging his lands with a
groat a week to each for their maintenance, which is to this day duly
paid them. In those times, a penny was equal to ten-pence half-penny,
and somewhat more than half a farthing in ours; which makes about eight
ninths' difference.

This is plain also, from the old custom upon many estates in England, to
let for leases of lives, (renewable at pleasure) where the reserved rent
is usually about twelve-pence a pound, which then was near the half real
value: And although the fines be not fixed, yet the landlord gets
altogether not above three shillings in the pound of the worth of his
land: And the tenants are so wedded to this custom, that if the owner
suffer three lives to expire, none of them will take a lease on other
conditions; or, if he brings in a foreigner who will agree to pay a
reasonable rent, the other tenants, by all manner of injuries, will make
that foreigner so uneasy, that he must be forced to quit the farm; as
the late Earl of Bath felt, by the experience of above ten thousand
pounds loss.

The gradual decrease for about two hundred years after, was not
considerable, and therefore I do not rely on the account given by some
historians, that Harry the Seventh left behind him eighteen hundred
thousand pounds; for although the West Indies were discovered before his
death, and although he had the best talents and instruments for exacting
of money, ever possessed by any prince since the time of Vespasian,
(whom he resembled in many particulars); yet I conceive, that in his
days the whole coin of England could hardly amount to such a sum. For in
the reign of Philip and Mary, Sir Thomas Cokayne of Derbyshire, [1] the
best housekeeper of his quality in the county, allowed his lady fifty
pounds a year for maintaining the family, one pound a year wages to each
servant, and two pounds to the steward; as I was told by a person of
quality who had seen the original account of his economy. Now this sum
of fifty pound, added to the advantages of a large domain, might be
equal to about five hundred pounds a year at present, or somewhat more
than four-fifths.

[Footnote 1: Sir Thomas Cokayne (1519?-1592), known as "a professed
hunter and not a scholler." He was the eldest son of Francis Cokayne, or
Cockaine, of Ashbourne, Derbyshire. One of his sons, Edward, was the
father of Thomas Cokayne, the lexicographer. Sir Thomas, in 1591,
published "A Short Treatise of Hunting, compyled for the Delight of
Noblemen and Gentlemen." [T. S.]]

The great plenty of silver in England began in Queen Elizabeth's reign,
when Drake, and others, took vast quantities of coin and bullion from
the Spaniards, either upon their own American coasts, or in their return
to Spain. However, so much hath been imported annually from that time to
this, that the value of money in England, and most parts of Europe, is
sunk above one half within the space of an hundred years,
notwithstanding the great export of silver for about eighty years past,
to the East Indies, from whence it never returns. But gold being not
liable to the same accident, and by new discoveries growing every day
more plentiful, seems in danger of becoming a drug.

This hath been the progress of the value of money in former ages, and
must of necessity continue so for the future, without some new invasion
of Goths and Vandals to destroy law, property and religion, alter the
very face of nature; and turn the world upside down.

I must repeat, that what I am to say upon this subject, is intended only
for the conviction of those among our own party, who are true lovers of
the Church, and would be glad it should continue in a tolerable degree
of prosperity to the end of the world.

The Church is supposed to last for ever, both in its discipline and
doctrine; which is a privilege common to every petty corporation, who
must likewise observe the laws of their foundation. If a gentleman's
estate which now yields him a thousand pounds a year, had been set for
ever at the highest value, even in the flourishing days of King Charles
the Second, would it now amount to above four or five hundred at most?
What if this had happened two or three hundred years ago; would the
reserved rent at this day be any more than a small chiefry? Suppose the
revenues of a bishop to have been under the same circumstances; could he
now be able to perform works of hospitality and charity? Thus, if the
revenues of a bishop be limited to a thousand pounds a year; how will
his successor be in a condition to support his station with decency,
when the same denomination of money shall not answer an half, a quarter,
or an eighth part of that sum? Which must unavoidably be the consequence
of any bill to elude the limiting act, whereby the Church was preserved
from utter ruin.

The same reason holds good in all corporations whatsoever, who cannot
follow a more pernicious practice than that of granting perpetuities,
for which many of them smart to this day; although the leaders among
them are often so stupid as not to perceive it, or sometimes so knavish
as to find their private account in cheating the community.

Several colleges in Oxford, were aware of this growing evil about an
hundred years ago; and, instead of limiting their rents to a certain sum
of money, prevailed with their tenants to pay the price of so many
barrels of corn, to be valued as the market went, at two seasons (as I
remember) in the year. For a barrel of corn is of a real intrinsic
value, which gold and silver are not: And by this invention, these
colleges have preserved a tolerable subsistence, for their fellows and
students, to this day.

The present bishops will, indeed be no sufferers by such a bill;
because, their ages considered, they cannot expect to see any great
decrease in the value of money; or, at worst, they can make it up in the
fines, which will probably be greater than usual, upon the change of
leases into fee-farms, or lives; or without the power of obliging their
tenants to a real half value. And, as I cannot well blame them for
taking such advantages, (considering the nature of human kind) when the
question is only, whether the money shall be put into their own or
another man's pocket: So they will be never excusable before God or man,
if they do not to the death oppose, declare, and protest against any
such bill, as must in its consequences complete the ruin of the Church,
and of their own order in this kingdom.

If the fortune of a private person be diminished by the weakness, or
inadvertency of his ancestors, in letting leases for ever at low rents,
the world lies open to his industry for purchasing of more; but the
Church is barred by a _dead hand_; or if it were otherwise, yet the
custom of making bequests to it, hath been out of practice for almost
two hundred years, and a great deal directly contrary hath been its

I have been assured by a person of some consequence, to whom I am
likewise obliged for the account of some other facts already related,
that the late Bishop of Salisbury,[2] (the greatest Whig of that bench
in his days) confessed to him, that the liberty which bishops in England
have of letting leases for lives, would, in his opinion, be one day the
ruin of Episcopacy there; and thought the Church in this kingdom happy
by the limitation act.

[Footnote 2: Dr. Barnet.]

And have we not already found the effect of this different proceeding in
both kingdoms? Have not two English prelates quitted their peerage and
seats in Parliament, in a nation of freedom, for the sake of a more
ample revenue, even in this unhappy kingdom, rather than lie under the
mortification of living below their dignity at home? For which, however,
they cannot be justly censured. I know indeed, some persons, who offer,
as an argument for repealing the limiting bill, that it may in future
ages prevent the practice of providing this kingdom with bishops from
England, when the only temptation will be removed. And they allege,
that, as things have gone for some years past, gentlemen will grow
discouraged from sending their sons to the university, and from
suffering them to enter into holy orders, when they are likely to
languish under a curacy, or small vicarage, to the end of their lives:
But this is all a vain imagination; for the decrease in the value of
money will equally affect both kingdoms: And besides, when bishoprics
here grow too small to invite over men of credit and consequence, they
will be left more fully to the disposal of a chief governor, who can
never fail of some worthless illiterate chaplain, fond of a title and
precedence. Thus will that whole bench, in an age or two, be composed of
mean, ignorant, fawning gownmen, humble suppliants and dependants upon
the court for a morsel of bread, and ready to serve every turn that
shall be demanded from them, in hopes of getting some _commendam_ tacked
to their sees; which must then be the trade, as it is now too much in
England, to the great discouragement of the inferior clergy. Neither is
that practice without example among us.

It is now about eighty-five years since the passing of that limiting
act, and there is but one instance, in the memory of man, of a bishop's
lease broken upon the plea of not being statutable; which, in
everybody's opinion, could have been lost by no other person than he who
was then tenant, and happened to be very ungracious in his county. In
the present Bishop of Meath's[3] case, that plea did not avail, although
the lease were notoriously unstatutable; the rent reserved, being, as I
have been told, not a seventh part of the real value; yet the jury, upon
their oaths, very gravely found it to be according to the statute; and
one of them was heard to say, That he would _eat his shoes_ before he
would give a verdict for the bishop. A very few more have made the same
attempt with as little success. Every bishop, and other ecclesiastical
body, reckon forty pounds in an hundred to be a reasonable half value;
or if it be only a third part, it seldom, or never, breeds any
difference between landlord and tenant. But when the rent is from five
to nine or ten parts less than the worth; the bishop, if he consults the
good of his see, will be apt to expostulate; and the tenant, if he be an
honest man, will have some regard to the reasonableness and justice of
the demand, so as to yield to a moderate advancement, rather than engage
in a suit, where law and equity are directly against him. By these
means, the bishops have been so true to their trusts, as to procure some
small share in the advancement of rents; although it be notorious that
they do not receive the third penny (fines included) of the real value
of their lands throughout the kingdom.

[Footnote 3: Dr. Evans, a Welchman. [Faulkner, 1735.]]

I was never able to imagine what inconvenience could accrue to the
public, by one or two thousand pounds a year, in the hands of a
Protestant bishop, any more than of a lay person.[4] The former,
generally speaking, liveth as piously and hospitably as the other; pays
his debts as honestly, and spends as much of his revenue among his
tenants: Besides, if they be his immediate tenants, you may distinguish
them, at first sight, by their habits and horses; or if you go to their
houses, by their comfortable way of living. But the misfortune is, that
such immediate tenants, generally speaking, have others under them, and
so a third and fourth in subordination, till it comes to the welder (as
they call him) who sits at a rack-rent, and lives as miserably as an
Irish farmer upon a new lease from a lay landlord. But suppose a bishop
happens to be avaricious, (as being composed of the same stuff with
other men) the consequence to the public is no worse than if he were a
squire; for he leaves his fortune to his son, or near relation, who, if
he be rich enough, will never think of entering into the Church.

[Footnote 4: This part of the paragraph is to be applied to the period
when the whole was written, which was in 1723, when several of Queen
Anne's bishops were living. [Note in edition of 1761, as amended from
the edition of 1735. T.S.]]

And, as there can be no disadvantage to the public, in a Protestant
country, that a man should hold lands as a bishop, any more than if he
were a temporal person; so it is of great advantage to the community,
where a bishop lives as he ought to do. He is bound, in conscience, to
reside in his diocese, and, by a solemn promise, to keep hospitality;
his estate is spent in the kingdom, not remitted to England; he keeps
the clergy to their duty, and is an example of virtue both to them and
the people. Suppose him an ill man; yet his very character will withhold
him from any great or open exorbitancies. But, in fact, it must be
allowed, that some bishops of this kingdom, within twenty years past,
have done very signal and lasting acts of public charity; great
instances whereof, are the late[5] and present[6] Primate, the Lord
Archbishop of Dublin[7] that now is, who hath left memorials of his
bounty in many parts of his province. I might add, the Bishop of
Raphoe,[8] and several others: Not forgetting the late Dean of Down, Dr.
Pratt, who bestowed one thousand pounds upon the university: Which
foundation, (that I may observe by the way) if the bill proposed should
pass, would be in the same circumstances with the bishops, nor ever able
again to advance the stipends of the fellows and students, as lately
they found it necessary to do; the determinate sum appointed by the
statute for commons, being not half sufficient, by the fall of money, to
afford necessary sustenance. But the passing of such a bill must put an
end to all ecclesiastical beneficence for the time to come; and whether
this will be supplied by those who are to reap the benefit, better than
it hath been done by the grantees of impropriate tithes, who received
them upon the old church conditions of keeping hospitality; it will be
easy to conjecture.

[Footnote 5: Dr. Marsh.]

[Footnote 6: Dr. Lindsay.]

[Footnote 7: Dr. King.]

[Footnote 8: Dr. Forster.]

To allege, that passing such a bill would be a good encouragement to
improve bishops' lands, is a great error. Is it not the general method
of landlords, to wait the expiration of a lease, and then cant[9] their
lands to the highest bidder? And what should hinder the same course to
be taken in church leases, when the limitation is removed of paying half
the real value to the bishop? In riding through the country, how few
improvements do we see upon the estates of laymen, farther than about
their own domains? To say the truth, it is a great misfortune as well to
the public as to the bishops themselves, that their lands are generally
let to lords and great squires, who, in reason, were never designed to
be tenants; and therefore may naturally murmur at the payment of rent,
as a subserviency they were not born to. If the tenants to the Church
were honest farmers, they would pay their fines and rents with
cheerfulness, improve their lands, and thank God they were to give but a
moderate half value for what they held. I have heard a man of a thousand
pounds a year, talk with great contempt of bishops' leases, as being on
a worse foot than the rest of his estate; and he had certainly reason:
My answer was, that such leases were originally intended only for the
benefit of industrious husbandmen, who would think it a great blessing
to be so provided for, instead of having his farm screwed up to the
height, not eating one comfortable meal in a year, nor able to find
shoes for his children.

[Footnote 9: To cant means to call for bidders at an auction sale.
Probably derived from the O. French _cant = quantum_ = how much. [T.S.]]

I know not any advantage that can accrue by such a bill, except the
preventing of perjury in jurymen, and false dealing in tenants; which is
a remedy like that of giving my money to an highwayman, before he
attempts to take it by force; and so I shall be sure to prevent the sin
of robbery.

I had wrote thus far, and thought to have put an end; when a bookseller
sent me a small pamphlet, entitled, "The Case of the Laity, with some
Queries;" full of the strongest malice against the clergy, that I have
anywhere met with since the reign of Toland, and others of that tribe.
These kinds of advocates do infinite mischief to OUR GOOD CAUSE, by
giving grounds to the unjust reproaches of TORIES and JACOBITES, who
charge us with being enemies to the Church. If I bear an hearty
unfeigned loyalty to his Majesty King George, and the House of Hanover,
not shaken in the least by the hardships we lie under, which never can
be imputable to so gracious a prince: If I sincerely abjure the
Pretender, and all Popish successors; if I bear a due veneration to the
glorious memory of the late King William, who preserved these kingdoms
from Popery and slavery, with the expense of his blood, and hazard of
his life: And lastly, if I am for a proper indulgence to all dissenters;
I think nothing more can be reasonably demanded of me as a WHIG, and
that my political catechism is full and complete. But whoever, under the
shelter of that party denomination, and of many great professions of
loyalty, would destroy, or undermine, or injure the Church established;
I utterly disown him, and think he ought to choose another name of
distinction for himself, and his adherents. I came into the cause upon
other principles, which, by the grace of God, I mean to preserve as long
as I live. Shall we justify the accusations of our adversaries? _Hoc
Ithacus velit_--The Tories and Jacobites will behold us with a malicious
pleasure, determined upon the ruin of our friends: For is not the
present set of bishops almost entirely of that number, as well as a
great majority of the principal clergy? And a short time will reduce the
whole, by vacancies upon death.

An impartial reader, if he pleases to examine what I have already said,
will easily answer the bold "Queries" in the pamphlet I mentioned: He
will be convinced, that "the reason still strongly exists, for which"
that limiting law was enacted. A reasonable man will wonder, where can
be the insufferable grievance, that an ecclesiastical landlord should
expect a moderate, or third part value in rent for his lands, when his
title is, _at least_, as ancient and as legal as that of a layman; who
is yet but seldom guilty of giving such beneficial bargains. Has "the
nation been thrown into confusion"? And have "many poor families been
ruined" by rack-rents paid for the lands of the church? Does "the nation
cry out" to have a law that must, in time, send their bishops a-begging?
But, God be thanked, the clamour of enemies to the Church is not yet the
cry, and, I hope, will never prove the voice of the nation. The clergy,
I conceive, will hardly allow that "the people maintain them," any more
than in the sense, that all landlords whatsoever are maintained by the
people. Such assertions as these, and the insinuations they carry along
with them, proceed from principles which cannot be avowed by those who
are for preserving the happy constitution in Church and State. Whoever
were the proposers of such "queries," it might have provoked a bold
writer to retaliate, perhaps with more justice than prudence, by shewing
at whose door the grievance lies, and that the bishops, _at least_, are
not to answer for the poverty of tenants.

To gratify this great reformer, who enlarges the episcopal rent-roll
almost one half; let me suppose that all the Church lands in the kingdom
were thrown up to the laity; would the tenants, in such a case, sit
easier in their rents than they do now? Or, would the money be equally
spent in the kingdom? No: The farmer would be screwed up to the utmost
penny, by the agents and stewards of absentees, and the revenues
employed in making a figure at London; to which city a full third part
of the whole income of Ireland is annually returned, to answer that
single article of maintenance for Irish landlords.

Another of his quarrels is against pluralities and non-residence: As to
the former, it is a word of ill name, but not well understood. The
clergy having been stripped of the greatest part of their revenues, the
glebes being generally lost, the tithes in the hands of laymen, the
churches demolished, and the country depopulated; in order to preserve a
face of Christianity, it was necessary to unite small vicarages,
sufficient to make a tolerable maintenance for a minister. The profit of
ten or a dozen of these unions, do seldom amount to above eighty or an
hundred pounds a year: If there be a very few dignitaries, whose
preferments are, perhaps, more liable to this accusation, it is to be
supposed, they may be favourites of the time, or persons of superior
merit, for whom there hath ever been some indulgence in all governments.

As to non-residence, I believe there is no Christian country upon earth,
where the clergy have less to answer for upon that article. I am
confident there are not ten clergymen in the kingdom, who, properly
speaking, can be termed non-residents: For surely, we are not to reckon
in that number, those who, for want of glebes, are forced to retire to
the nearest neighbouring village for a cabin to put their heads in; the
leading man of the parish, when he makes the greatest clamour, being
least disposed to accommodate the minister with an acre of ground. And,
indeed, considering the difficulties the clergy lie under upon this
head, it hath been frequent matter of wonder to me, how they are able to
perform that part of their duty as well as they do.

There is a noble author,[10] who hath lately addressed to the House of
Commons, an excellent discourse for the "Encouragement of Agriculture";
full of most useful hints, which, I hope, that honourable assembly will
consider as they deserve. I am not a stranger to his lordship; and,
excepting in what relates to the Church, there are few persons with
whose opinions I am better pleased to agree; and am, therefore, grieved
when I find him charging the inconveniencies in the payment of tithes
upon the clergy and their proctors. His lordship is above considering a
very known and vulgar truth, that the meanest farmer hath all manner of
advantages against the most powerful clergyman, by whom it is impossible
he can be wronged, although the minister were ever so evil disposed; the
whole system of teasing, perplexing, and defrauding the proctor, or his
master, being as well known to every ploughman, as the reaping or sowing
of his corn, and much more artfully practised. Besides, the leading man
in the parish must have his tithes at his own rate, which is hardly ever
above one quarter of the value. And I have heard it computed by many
skilful observers, whose interest was not concerned, that the clergy did
not receive, throughout the kingdom, one half of what the laws have made
their due.

[Footnote 10: The late Lord Molesworth.]

As to his lordship's discontent against the Bishops' Courts, I shall not
interpose further than in venturing my private opinion, that the clergy
would be very glad to recover their just dues by a more short, decisive,
and compulsive method, than such a cramped and limited jurisdiction will

His lordship is not the only person disposed to give the clergy the
honour of being the _sole_ encouragers of all new improvements. If hops,
hemp, flax, and twenty things more are to be planted, the clergy,
_alone_, must reward the industrious farmer, by abatement of the tithe.
What if the owner of nine parts in ten would please to abate
proportionably in his rent, for every acre thus improved? Would not a
man just dropped from the clouds, upon a full hearing, judge the demand
to be, at least, as reasonable?

I believe no man will dispute his lordship's title to his estate; nor
will I the _jus divinum_ of tithes, which he mentions with some emotion.
I suppose the affirmative would be of little advantage to the clergy,
for the same reason that a maxim in law hath more weight in the world
than an article of faith. And yet, I think there may be such a thing as
sacrilege; because it is frequently mentioned by Greek and Roman
authors, as well as described in Holy Writ. This I am sure of; that his
lordship would, at any time, excuse a parliament for not concerning
itself in his properties, without his own consent.

The observations I have made upon his lordship's discourse, have not, I
confess, been altogether proper to my subject: However, since he hath
been pleased therein to offer some proposals to the House of Commons,
with relation to the clergy, I hope he will excuse me for differing from
him; which proceeds from his own principle, the desire of defending
liberty and property, that he hath so strenuously and constantly

But the other writer openly declares for a law, empowering the bishops
to set fee-farms; and says, "Whoever intimates that they will deny their
consent to such a reasonable law, which the whole nation cries for, are
enemies to them and the Church." Whether this be his real opinion, or
only a strain of mirth and irony, the matter is not much. However, my
sentiments are so directly contrary to his; that I think, whoever
impartially reads and considers what I have written upon this argument,
hath either no regard for the Church established under the hierarchy of
bishops, or will never consent to any law that shall repeal, or elude
the limiting clause, relating to the real half value, contained in the
act of parliament _decimo Caroli_, "For the preservation of the
inheritance, rights and profits of lands belonging to the Church, and
persons ecclesiastical"; which was grounded upon reasons that do still,
and must for ever subsist.

October 21, 1723.

*****       *****       *****       *****








Scott's text has been collated with that given in volume eight of the
quarto edition of Swift's Works (1765). In that edition the title is
given as: "The Representation of the Clergy of Dublin," &c.


  OF DUBLIN, &c.[1]

[Footnote 1: William King, D.D. (1650-1729), Archbishop of Dublin, was
born in Antrim, and educated at a school at Dungannon and Trinity
College, Dublin. He was installed Dean of St. Patrick's in 1688-9
(February 1st). For his open espousal of the Prince of Orange, he was
confined to the Castle, and suffered many indignities. In 1690-1
(January 9th) he was promoted to the see of Derry. His conduct through
life was that of an ardent Irish Protestant patriot. He fought against
Sectarianism, Roman Catholicism, and the interference of the English
Parliament in Irish affairs. He opposed the Toleration Bill, and
protested against the act confirming the Articles of Limerick. His
relationship with Swift became close when he sent the vicar of Laracor
to London, to obtain for the Irish clergy the restoration of the
first-fruits and twentieth parts; but it was a relationship never
cemented by feelings warmer than those of esteem. King acknowledged the
ability of Swift, but found him ambitious and overbearingly proud.
Throughout life he remained a consistent High Churchman, and a strenuous
supporter of the rights of the Church in Ireland, but his attempt, in
1727, to interfere with the affairs of the Deanery of St. Patrick's,
brought down upon him Swift's wrath, and an open quarrel ensued which
was partly softened by the Archbishop retiring from the matter and
tacitly acknowledging Swift's right.

King's chief published work is his treatise "De Origine Mali," published
in 1702, and received with respectful consideration by the eminent
thinkers of the day. He wrote other minor works, but none of any
distinguished merit. He succeeded Narcissus Marsh as Archbishop of
Dublin in 1702-3 (March 11th). Swift's letters to King during the
former's embassy on the matter of first-fruits, make a most interesting
chapter in the six volumes which Scott devotes to Swift's
correspondence. T. S.]

Jan. 1724.


Your Grace having been pleased to communicate to us a certain brief, by
letters patents, for the relief of one Charles M'Carthy, whose house in
College-Green, Dublin, was burnt by an accidental fire; and having
desired us to consider of the said brief, and give our opinions thereof
to your Grace;

We the Clergy of the city of Dublin, in compliance with your Grace's
desire, and with great acknowledgments for your paternal tenderness
towards us, having maturely considered the said brief by letters
patents, compared the several parts of it with what is enjoined us by
the rubric, (which is confirmed by act of parliament) and consulted
persons skilled in the laws of the Church; do, in the names of ourselves
and of the rest of our brethren, the Clergy of the diocese of Dublin,
most humbly represent to your Grace:

First, That, by this brief, your Grace is required and commanded, to
recommend and command all the parsons, vicars, &c., to advance so great
an act of charity.

We shall not presume to determine how far your Grace may be commanded by
the said brief; but we humbly conceive that the Clergy of your diocese
cannot, by any law now in being, be commanded by your Grace to advance
the said act of charity, any other ways than by reading the said brief
in our several churches, as prescribed by the rubric.

Secondly, Whereas it is said in the said brief, "That the parsons,
vicars, &c. upon the first Lord's day, or opportunity after the receipt
of the copy of the said brief, shall, deliberately and affectionately,
publish and declare the tenor thereof to His Majesty's subjects, and
earnestly persuade, exhort, and stir them up to contribute freely and
cheerfully towards the relief of the said sufferer;"

We do not comprehend what is meant by the word _opportunity_. We never
do preach upon any day except the Lord's day, or some solemn days
legally appointed; neither is it possible for the strongest constitution
among us to obey this command (which includes no less than a whole
sermon) upon any other opportunity than when our people are met together
in the church; and to perform this work in every house where the
parishes are very populous, consisting sometimes here in town of 900 or
1,000 houses, would take up the space of a year, although we should
preach in two families every day; and almost as much time in the
country, where the parishes are of large extent, the roads bad, and the
people too poor to receive us, and give charity at once.

But, if it be meant that these exhortations are commanded to be made in
the church, upon the Lord's day, we are humbly of opinion, that it is
left to the discretion of the clergy, to choose what subjects they think
most proper to preach on, and at what times; and, if they preach either
false doctrine or seditious principles, they are liable to be punished.

It may possibly happen that the sufferer recommended may be a person not
deserving the favour intended by the brief; in which case no minister,
who knows the sufferer to be an undeserving person, can with a safe
conscience, deliberately and affectionately publish the brief, much less
earnestly persuade, exhort, and stir up the people to contribute freely
and cheerfully towards the relief of such a sufferer.[2]

[Footnote 2: This M'Carthy's house was burnt in the month of August
1723, and the universal opinion of mankind was, that M'Carthy himself
was the person who had set fire to the house. [Note in edition of
Swift's Works, vol. viii., 1765, 4to.]]

Thirdly, Whereas in the said brief the ministers and curates are
required, "on the week-days next after the Lord's day when the brief was
read, to go from house to house, with their church-wardens, to ask and
receive from all persons the said charity:" We cannot but observe here,
that the said ministers are directly made collectors of the said charity
in conjunction with the church-wardens; which however, we presume, was
not intended, as being against all law and precedent: And therefore, we
apprehend, there may be some inconsistency, which leaves us at a loss
how to proceed. For, in the next paragraph, the ministers and curates
are only required, where they conveniently can, to accompany the
church-wardens, or procure some other of the chief inhabitants, to do
the same. And, in a following paragraph, the whole work seems left
entirely to the church-wardens, who are required to use their utmost
diligence to gather and collect the said charity, and to pay the same,
in ten days after, to the parson, vicar, &c.

In answer to this, we do represent to your Grace our humble opinion,
that neither we nor our church-wardens can be legally commanded or
required to go from house to house to receive the said charity; because
your Grace hath informed us in your order, at your visitation An. Dom.
1712, that neither we nor our church-wardens are bound to make any
collections for the poor, save in the church; which also appears plainly
by the rubric, that appoints both time and place, as your Grace hath
observed in your said order.

We do likewise assure your Grace, that it is not in our power to procure
some of the chief inhabitants of our parishes to accompany the
church-wardens from house to house in these collections: And we have
reason to believe, that such a proposal, made to our chief inhabitants
(particularly in this city, where our chief inhabitants are often peers
of the land) would be received in a manner very little to our own
satisfaction, or to the advantage of the said collections.

Fourthly, The brief doth will, require, and command the bishops, and all
other dignitaries of the Church, that they make their contributions
distinctly, to be returned in the several provinces to the several
archbishops of the same.

Upon which we take leave to observe that the terms of expression here
are of the strongest kind, and in a point that may subject the said
dignitaries (for we shall say nothing of the bishops) to great

The said dignitaries are here willed, required, and commanded to make
their contributions distinctly; by which it should seem that they are
absolutely commanded to make contributions (for the word _distinctly_ is
but a circumstance), and may be understood not very agreeable to a
voluntary, cheerful contribution. And therefore, if any bishop or
dignitary should refuse to make his contribution, (perhaps for very good
reasons) he may be thought to incur the crime of disobedience to His
Majesty, which all good subjects abhor, when such a command is according
to law.

Most dignities of this kingdom consist only of parochial tithes, and the
dignitaries are ministers of parishes. A doubt may therefore arise,
whether the said dignitaries are willed, required, and commanded, to
make their contributions in both capacities, distinctly as dignitaries,
and jointly as parsons or vicars.

Many dignities in this kingdom are the poorest kind of benefices; and it
should seem hard to put poor dignitaries under the necessity either of
making greater contributions than they can afford, or of exposing
themselves to the censure of wanting charity, by making their
contributions public.

Our Saviour commands us, in works of charity, to "let not our left hand
know what our right hand doeth;" which cannot well consist with our
being willed, required, and commanded by any earthly power, where no law
is prescribed, to publish our charity to the world, if we have a mind to
conceal it.

Fifthly, Whereas it is said in the said brief, "That the parson, vicar,
&c. of every parish, shall, in six days after the receipt of the said
charity, return it to his respective chancellor, &c." This may be a
great grievance, hazard, and expense to the said parson, in remote and
desolate parts of the country, where often an honest messenger (if such
a one can be got) must be hired to travel forty or fifty miles going and
coming; which will probably cost more than the value of the contribution
he carries with him. And this charge, if briefs should happen to be
frequent, would be enough to undo many a poor clergyman in the kingdom.

Sixthly, We observe in the said brief, that the provost and fellows of
the University, judges, officers of the courts, and professors of laws
common and civil, are neither willed, required, nor commanded to make
their contributions; but that so good a work is only recommended to
them. Whereas we conceive, that all His Majesty's subjects are equally
obliged, with or without His Majesty's commands, to promote works of
charity according to their power; and that the clergy, in their
ecclesiastical capacity, are only liable to such commands as the rubric,
or any other law shall enjoin, being born to the same privileges of
freedom with the rest of His Majesty's subjects.

We cannot but observe to your Grace, that, in the English act of the
fourth year of Queen Anne, for the better collecting charity money on
briefs by letters-patent, &c. the ministers are obliged only to read the
briefs in their churches, without any particular exhortations; neither
are they commanded to go from house to house with the church-wardens,
nor to send the money collected to their respective chancellors, but pay
it to the undertaker or agent of the sufferer. So that, we humbly hope,
the clergy of this kingdom shall not, without any law in being, be put
to greater hardships in this case than their brethren in England, where
the legislature, intending to prevent the abuses in collecting charity
money on briefs, did not think fit to put the clergy under any of those
difficulties we now complain of, in the present brief by letters patent,
for the relief of Charles M'Carthy aforesaid.

The collections upon the Lord's day are the principal support of our own
numerous poor in our several parishes; and therefore every single brief,
with the benefit of a full collection over the whole kingdom, must
deprive several thousands of poor of their weekly maintenance, for the
sake only of one person, who often becomes a sufferer by his own folly
or negligence, and is sure to overvalue his losses double or treble: So
that, if this precedent be followed, as it certainly will if the present
brief should succeed, we may probably have a new brief every week; and
thus, for the advantage of fifty-two persons, whereof not one in ten is
deserving, and for the interest of a dozen dexterous clerks and
secretaries, the whole poor in the kingdom will be likely to starve.

We are credibly informed, that neither the officers of the Lord Primate,
in preparing the report of his Grace's opinion, nor those of the
great-seal, in passing the patent for briefs, will remit any of their
fees, both which do amount to a considerable sum: And thus the good
intentions of well-disposed people are in a great measure disappointed,
a large part of their charity being anticipated, and alienated by fees
and gratuities.

Lastly, We cannot but represent to your Grace our great concern and
grief, to see the pains and labour of our church-wardens so much
increased, by the injunctions and commands put upon them in this brief,
to the great disadvantage of the clergy and the people, as well as to
their own trouble, damage, and loss of time, to which great additions
have been already made, by laws appointing them to collect the taxes for
the watch and the poor-house, which they bear with great unwillingness;
and, if they shall find themselves further laden with such briefs as
this of M'Carthy, it will prove so great a discouragement, that we shall
never be able to provide honest and sufficient persons for that weighty
office of church-warden, so necessary to the laity as well as the
clergy, in all things that relate to the order and regulation of

Upon all these considerations, we humbly hope that your Grace, of whose
fatherly care, vigilance, and tenderness, we have had so many and great
instances, will represent our case to his Most Excellent Majesty, or to
the chief governor in this kingdom, in such a manner, that we may be
neither under the necessity of declining His Majesty's commands in his
letters patent, or of taking new and grievous burthens upon ourselves
and our church-wardens, to which neither the rubric nor any other law in
force oblige us to submit.

*****       *****       *****       *****






In the note to the tract, "Some Arguments against enlarging the Power of
Bishops in letting Leases" (p. 219), it was pointed out that the Bill
against which this tract was written was an attempt on the part of the
bishops to get back a power which they once had abused. Failing in this
attempt, in 1723, they renewed the attack in 1731 by promoting two
bills, one called a Bill of Residence, the other a Bill of Division.

The ostensible object of the Bill of Residence was to compel the clergy
to reside on their livings. By this bill, any person taking a benefice,
with cure of souls, of the annual value of £100, was forced, if the land
attached to that benefice had no house fit for residence, to build one
thereon, in any situation the bishop might think suitable, this house to
cost one year and a half's income, and to be completed within a time
fixed by the bishop. It will at once be seen that the power over the
inferior clergy which this bill placed in the bishops' hands was by no
means insignificant; and Swift felt that to make such a bill law would
not only tend to impoverish, the inferior clergy, but would place them
in a position of subjection at once degrading and dispiriting. He
opposed the bill, with the consequence that the House of Commons
rejected it.

By the Bill of Division "it was intended to be enacted that whenever a
church should become vacant, although the incumbent should refuse his
consent, it might be lawful for the chief governor, with the assent of
the major part of the Privy Council, six at least consenting, by and
with the consent of the ordinary and the patron, to subdivide any parish
into as many portions as they might think fit, provided that, after such
division, the church of the old parish should continue worth, at the
least, £300 per annum." This bill, which passed the House of Lords two
days after the Bill of Residence, Swift opposed in a spirited and
somewhat bitter manner. His opposition largely influenced the Lower
House in rejecting it. The two tracts which state the grounds of his
opposition to both bills are the present one, and the following tract,
"Considerations upon two Bills, sent down from the House of Lords to the
House of Commons in Ireland, relating to the Clergy."

Scott notes that the "tone of _aigreur_," which is more distinctly felt
in the second of these tracts, intimates a "deep dissatisfaction with
late ecclesiastical preferments, which may perhaps be traced as much to
personal disappointment as to any better cause;" a statement which it
was hardly worth making; since, however deep may have been Swift's
personal feelings, he never allowed them to be the impelling motive to
his work. It should suffice us to know that the cause which Swift
espoused was a disinterested one. As Vicar of Laracor he knew what it
was to make a shift of living on an insufficient income; and it may have
been, this experience as much as "personal disappointment" which gave
pungency to his criticism. It is easy enough to find questionable
motives for a satirist, especially when that satirist is Swift; let us
not, however, forget that in his case the personal element was never
permitted to overweight the impersonal purpose. Other men when they
reach prosperity often forget or ignore the hard conditions of their
previous state; to Swift these conditions were always existing factors
in his considerations for the amelioration of his fellow-men. This it is
which gives to his writings so much of the "tone of _aigreur_."

In his letter to John Stearne, Bishop of Clogher, dated July, 1733,
which is one of Swift's most characteristic epistles--characteristic,
because the embodiment of truthful candour--he gives no equivocal
expression of opinion on these two bills. He calls them, "abominable
bills, for enslaving and beggaring the clergy, (which took their birth
from hell)." "I call God to witness," he adds, "that I did then, and do
now, and shall for ever, firmly believe, that every Bishop who gave his
vote for either of these bills, did it with no other view (bating
further promotion), than a premeditated design, from the spirit of
ambition, and love of arbitrary power, to make the whole body of the
clergy their slaves and vassals until the day of judgment, under the
load of poverty and contempt."

About the same time, 1732, appeared another pamphlet entitled, "The
Reconciler ... shewing how all the good ends proposed by either of those
bills, may, by a more gentle and easy method, be attained, without
injury to the rights of my lords the bishops; or rigour and violence to
the inferior clergy." In the main, the writer agrees with Swift; but the
tract is valuable as showing that the controversy was no small one, and
it furnishes also what is, apparently, an impartial history of the whole
affair. Three Irish prelates voted against the bills on a
division--Theophilus Bolton, Archbishop of Cashel, Charles Carr, Bishop
of Killaloe, and Robert Howard, Bishop of Elphin.

The text of this tract is based on that which appeared in a volume of
"Miscellanies in Prose and Verse" in the year 1789. It has been collated
with those given by Scott, Hawkesworth, and other editors.



Those gentlemen who have been promoted to bishoprics in this kingdom for
several years past, are of two sorts: first, certain private clergymen
from England, who, by the force of friends, industry, solicitation, or
other means and merits to me unknown, have been raised to that character
by the _mero motu_ of the crown.

Of the other sort, are some clergymen born in this kingdom, who have
most distinguished themselves by their warmth against Popery, their
great indulgence to Dissenters, and all true loyal Protestants; by their
zeal for the House of Hanover, abhorrence of the Pretender, and an
implicit readiness to fall into any measures that will make the
government easy to those who represent His Majesty's person.

Some of the former kind are such as are said to have enjoyed tolerable
preferments in England; and it is therefore much to their commendation
that they have condescended to leave their native country, and come over
hither to be bishops, merely to promote Christianity among us; and
therefore in my opinion, both their lordships, and the many defenders
they bring over, may justly claim the merit of missionaries sent to
convert a nation from heresy and heathenism.

Before I proceed farther, it may be proper to relate some particulars
wherein the circumstances of the English clergy differ from those of

The districts of parishes throughout England continue much the same as
they were before the Reformation; and most of the churches are of the
gothic architecture, built some hundred years ago; but the tithes of
great numbers of churches having been applied by the Pope's pretended
authority to several abbeys, and even before the Reformation bestowed by
that sacrilegious tyrant Henry VIII., on his ravenous favourites, the
maintenance of an incumbent in most parts of the kingdom is contemptibly
small; and yet a vicar there of forty pounds a year, can live with more
comfort, than one of three times the nominal value with us. For his
forty pounds are duly paid him, because there is not one farmer in a
hundred, who is not worth five times the rent he pays to his landlord,
and fifty times the sum demanded for the tithes; which, by the small
compass of his parish, he can easily collect or compound for; and if his
behaviour and understanding be supportable, he will probably receive
presents now and then from his parishioners, and perhaps from the
squire; who, although he may sometimes be apt to treat his parson a
little superciliously, will probably be softened by a little humble
demeanour. The vicar is likewise generally sure to find upon his
admittance to his living, a convenient house and barn in repair, with a
garden, and a field or two to graze a few cows, and one horse for
himself and his wife. He hath probably a market very near him, perhaps
in his own village. No entertainment is expected from his visitor beyond
a pot of ale, and a piece of cheese. He hath every Sunday the comfort of
a full congregation, of plain, cleanly people of both sexes, well to
pass, and who speak his own language. The scene about him is fully
cultivated (I mean for the general) and well inhabited. He dreads no
thieves for anything but his apples, for the trade of universal stealing
is not so epidemic there as with us. His wife is little better than
Goody, in her birth, education, or dress; and as to himself, we must let
his parentage alone. If he be the son of a farmer it is very sufficient,
and his sister may very decently be chambermaid to the squire's wife. He
goes about on working days in a grazier's coat, and will not scruple to
assist his workmen in harvest time. He is usually wary and thrifty, and
often more able to provide for a numerous family than some of ours can
do with a rectory called 300_l_. a year. His daughters shall go to
service, or be sent 'prentice to the sempstress of the next town; and
his sons are put to honest trades. This is the usual course of an
English country vicar from twenty to sixty pounds a year.

As to the clergy of our own kingdom, their livings are generally larger.
Not originally, or by the bounty of princes, parliaments, or charitable
endowments, for the same degradations (and as to glebes, a much greater)
have been made here, but, by the destruction and desolation in the long
wars between the invaders and the natives; during which time a great
part of the bishops' lands, and almost all the glebes, were lost in the
confusion. The first invaders had almost the whole kingdom divided
amongst them. New invaders succeeded, and drove out their predecessors
as native Irish. These were expelled by others who came after, and upon
the same pretensions. Thus it went on for several hundred years, and in
some degree even to our own memories. And thus it will probably go on,
although not in a martial way, to the end of the world. For not only the
purchasers of debentures forfeited in 1641, were all of English birth,
but those after the Restoration, and many who came hither even since the
Revolution, are looked upon as perfect Irish; directly contrary to the
practice of all wise nations, and particularly of the Greeks and Romans,
in establishing their colonies, by which name Ireland is very absurdly

Under these distractions the conquerors always seized what lands they
could with little ceremony, whether they belonged to the Church or not:
Thus the glebes were almost universally exposed to the first seizers,
and could never be recovered, although the grants, with the particular
denominations, are manifest, and still in being. The whole lands of the
see of Waterford were wholly taken by one family; the like is reported
of other bishoprics.

King James the First, who deserves more of the Church of Ireland than
all other princes put together, having the forfeitures of vast tracts of
land in the northern parts (I think commonly called the escheated
counties), having granted some hundred thousand acres of these lands to
certain Scotch and English favourites, was prevailed on by some great
prelates to grant to some sees in the north, and to many parishes there,
certain parcels of land for the augmentation of poor bishoprics, did
likewise endow many parishes with glebes for the incumbents, whereof a
good number escaped the depredations of 1641 and 1688. These lands, when
they were granted by King James, consisted mostly of woody ground,
wherewith those parts of this island were then overrun. This is well
known, universally allowed, and by some in part remembered; the rest
being, in some places, not stubbed out to this day. And the value of the
lands was consequently very inconsiderable, till Scotch colonies came
over in swarms upon great encouragement to make them habitable; at least
for such a race of strong-bodied people, who came hither from their own
bleak barren highlands, as it were into a paradise; who soon were able
to get straw for their bedding, instead of a bundle of heath spread on
the ground, and sprinkled with water. Here, by degrees, they acquired
some degree of politeness and civility, from such neighbouring Irish as
were still left after Tyrone's last rebellion, and are since grown
almost entirely possessors of the north. Thus, at length, the woods
being rooted up, the land was brought in, and tilled, and the glebes
which could not before yield two-pence an acre, are equal to the best,
sometimes affording the minister a good demesne, and some land to let.

These wars and desolations in their natural consequences, were likewise
the cause of another effect, I mean that of uniting several parishes
under one incumbent. For, as the lands were of little value by the want
of inhabitants to cultivate them, and many of the churches levelled to
the ground, particularly by the fanatic zeal of those rebellious saints
who murdered their king, destroyed the Church, and overthrew monarchy
(for all which there is a humiliation day appointed by law, and soon
approaching); so, in order to give a tolerable maintenance to a
minister, and the country being too poor, as well as devotion too low,
to think of building new churches, it was found necessary to repair some
one church which had least suffered, and join sometimes three or more,
enough for a bare support to some clergyman, who knew not where to
provide himself better. This was a case of absolute necessity to prevent
heathenism, as well as popery, from overrunning the nation. The
consequence of these unions was very different, in different parts; for,
in the north, by the Scotch settlement, their numbers daily increasing
by new additions from their own country, and their prolific quality
peculiar to northern people; and lastly by their universally feeding
upon oats (which grain, under its several preparations and
denominations, is the only natural luxury of that hardy people) the
value of tithes increased so prodigiously, that at this day, I confess,
several united parishes ought to be divided, taking in so great a
compass, that it is almost impossible for the people to travel timely to
their own parish church, or their little churches to contain half their
number, though the revenue would be sufficient to maintain two, or
perhaps three worthy clergymen with decency; provided the times mend, or
that they were honestly dealt with, which I confess is seldom the case.
I shall name only one, and it is the deanery of Derry; the revenue
whereof, if the dean could get his dues, exceeding that of some
bishoprics, both by the compass and fertility of the soil, the number as
well as industry of the inhabitants, the conveniency of exporting their
corn to Dublin and foreign parts; and, lastly, by the accidental
discovery of marl in many places of the several parishes. Yet all this
revenue is wholly founded upon corn, for I am told there is hardly an
acre of glebe for the dean to plant and build on.

I am therefore of opinion, that a real undefalcated revenue of six
hundred pounds a year, is a sufficient income for a country dean in this
kingdom; and since the rents consist wholly of tithes, two parishes, to
the amount of that value, should be united, and the dean reside as
minister in that of Down, and the remaining parishes be divided among
worthy clergymen, to about 300_l_. a year to each. The deanery of Derry,
which is a large city, might be left worth 800_l_. a year, and Rapho
according as it shall be thought proper. These three are the only
opulent deaneries in the whole kingdom, and, as I am informed, consist
all of tithes, which was an unhappy expedient in the Church, occasioned
by the sacrilegious robberies during the several times of confusion and
war; insomuch that at this day there is hardly any remainder left of
dean and chapter lands in Ireland, that delicious morsel swallowed so
greedily in England, under the fanatic usurpations.

As to the present scheme of a bill for obliging the clergy to residence,
now or lately in the privy council, I know no more of the particulars
than what hath been told me by several clergymen of distinction; who
say, that a petition in the name of them all hath been presented to the
lord lieutenant and council, that they might be heard by their counsel
against the bill, and that the petition was rejected, with some reasons
why it was rejected; for the bishops know best what is proper for the
clergy. It seems the bill consists of two parts: First, a power in the
bishops, with consent of the archbishop, and the patron, to take off
from any parish whatever, it is worth above £300 a year; and this to be
done without the incumbent's consent, which before was necessary in all
divisions. The other part of the bill obligeth all clergymen, from forty
pounds a year and upwards, to reside, and build a house in his parish.
But those of £40 are remitted till they shall receive £100 out of the
revenue of first-fruits granted by Her late Majesty.

*****       *****       *****       *****





"In the year 1731 a Bill was brought into the House of Lords by a great
majority of the Right Reverend the Bishops, for enabling them to divide
the livings of the inferior Clergy; which Bill was approved of in the
Privy-Council of Ireland, and passed by the Lords in Parliament. It was
afterwards sent to the House of Commons for their approbation; but was
rejected by them with a great majority. The supposed author of the
following Considerations, who hath always been the best friend to the
inferior Clergy of the Church of England, as may be seen by many parts
of his writings, opposed this pernicious project with great success;
which, if it had passed into law, would have been of the worst
consequence to this nation." [Advertisement to the reprint of this
pamphlet in Swift's Works, vol. vi. Dublin: Faulkner, 1738.]

Fuller details of the circumstances which gave Swift the opportunity for
writing this tract are given in the note prefixed to the previous
pamphlet (see p. 250).

The text here given is that of the first edition.


  Sent down from the R---- H---- the
  H---- of L----
  To the H----ble
  H---- of C----
  Relating to the


Printed for A. MOORE, near St. _Paul's_, and Sold by the Booksellers of
_Westminster_ and _Southwark_, 1732.

I have often, for above a month past, desired some few clergymen, who
are pleased to visit me, that they would procure an extract of two
bills, brought into the council by some of the bishops, and both of them
since passed in the House of Lords: but I could never obtain what I
desired, whether by the forgetfulness, or negligence of those whom I
employed, or the difficulty of the thing itself. Therefore, if I shall
happen to mistake in any fact of consequence, I desire my remarks upon
it, may pass for nothing; for my information is no better than what I
received in words from several divines, who seemed to agree with each
other. I have not the honour to be acquainted with any one single
prelate of the kingdom, and am a stranger to their characters, further
than as common fame reports them, which is not to be depended on.
Therefore, I cannot be supposed to act upon a principle of resentment. I
esteem their functions (if I may be allowed to say so without offence)
as truly apostolical, and absolutely necessary to the perfection of a
Christian Church.

There are no qualities more incident to the frailty and corruption of
human kind, than an indifference, or insensibility for other men's
sufferings, and a sudden forgetfulness of their own former humble state,
when they rise in the world. These two dispositions have not, I think,
anywhere so strongly exerted themselves, as in the order of bishops with
regard to the inferior clergy; for which I can find no reasons, but such
as naturally should seem to operate a quite contrary way. The
maintenance of the Clergy, throughout the kingdom, is precarious and
uncertain, collected from a most miserable race of beggarly farmers; at
whose mercy every minister lies to be defrauded: His office, as rector
or vicar, if it be duly executed, is very laborious. As soon as he is
promoted to a bishopric, the scene is entirely and happily changed; his
revenues are large, and as surely paid as those of the king; his whole
business is once a-year, to receive the attendance, the submission, and
the proxy-money of all his clergy, in whatever part of the diocese he
shall please to think most convenient for himself. Neither is his
personal presence necessary, for the business may be done by a
Vicar-General. The fatigue of ordination, is just what the bishops
please to make it, and as matters have been for some time, and may
probably remain, the fewer ordinations the better. The rest of their
visible office, consists in the honour of attending parliaments and
councils, and bestowing preferments in their own gift; in which last
employment, and in their spiritual and temporal courts, the labour falls
to their Vicars-General, Secretaries, Proctors, Apparitors, Seneschals,
and the like. Now, I say, in so quick a change, where their brethren in
a few days, are become their subjects, it would be reasonable, at least,
to hope, that the labour, confinement, and subjection from which they
have so lately escaped, like a bird out of the snare of the fowler,
might a little incline them to remember the condition of those, who were
but last week their equals, probably their companions or their friends,
and possibly, as reasonable expectants. There is a known story of
Colonel Tidcomb, who, while he continued a subaltern officer, was every
day complaining against the pride, oppression, and hard treatment of
colonels toward their officers; yet in a very few minutes after he had
received his commission for a regiment, walking with a friend on the
Mall, he confessed that the spirit of colonelship, was coming fast upon
him, which spirit is said to have daily increased to the hour of his

It is true, the Clergy of this kingdom, who are promoted to bishoprics,
have always some great advantages; either that of rich deaneries,
opulent and multiplied rectories and dignities, strong alliances by
birth or marriage, fortified by a superlative degree of zeal and
loyalty; but, however, they were all at first no more than young
beginners; and before their great promotion, were known by their plain
Christian names, among their old companions, the middling rate of
clergymen; nor could, therefore, be strangers to their condition, or
with any good grace, forget it so soon as it hath sometimes happened.

I confess, I do not remember to have observed any body of men, acting
with so little concert as our clergy have done, in a point where their
opinions appeared to be unanimous: a point where their whole temporal
support was concerned, as well as their power of serving God and his
Church, in their spiritual functions. This hath been imputed to their
fear of disobliging, or hopes of further favours upon compliance;
because it was observed, that some who appeared at first with the
greatest zeal, thought fit suddenly to absent themselves from the usual
meetings; yet, we know what expert solicitors the Quakers, the
Dissenters, and even the Papists have sometimes found, to drive a point
of advantage, or present an impending evil.

I have not seen any extract from the two bills introduced into the Privy
Council by the bishops; where the Clergy, upon some failure in favour,
or through the timorousness of many among their brethren, were refused
to be heard by the Council. It seems these bills were both returned,
agreed to by the King and Council in England; and the House of Lords
hath, with great expedition, passed them both, and it is said they are
immediately to be sent down to the Commons for their consent.

The particulars, as they have been imperfectly reported to me, are as

By one of the bills, the bishops have power to oblige the country
clergy, to build a mansion-house upon whatever part of their glebes
their lordships shall command; and if the living be above £50 a-year,
the minister is bound to build, after three years, a house that shall
cost one year and a half's rent of his income. For instance, if a
clergyman with a wife and seven children gets a living of £55 per annum,
he must after three years, build a house that shall cost £77 10s., and
must support his family during the time the bishop shall appoint for the
building of it with the remainder. But, if the living be under £50
a-year, the minister shall be allowed an £100 out of the first-fruits.

But, there is said to be one circumstance a little extraordinary; that
if there be a single spot in the glebe more barren, more marshy, more
expos'd to winds, more distant from the church, or skeleton of a church,
or from any conveniency of building: the rector, or vicar may be obliged
by the caprice, or pique of the bishop, to build, under pain of
sequestration, (an office, which ever falls into the most knavish
hands,) upon whatever point his lordship shall command; although the
farmers have not paid one quarter of his due.

I believe, under the present distresses of the kingdom (which
inevitably, without a miracle, must increase for ever) there are not ten
country clergymen in Ireland reputed to possess a parish of £100 per
annum who, for some years past, have actually received £60, and that
with the utmost difficulty and vexation. I am, therefore, at a loss what
kind of valuators the bishops will make use of, and whether the starving
vicar, shall be forced to build his house with the money he never

The other bill, which passed in two days after the former, is said to
concern the division of parishes into as many parcels as the bishop
shall think fit, only leaving £300 a-year to the Mother Church; which
£300 by another act passed some years ago, they can divide likewise, and
crumble as low as their will and pleasure will dispose them. So that
instead of 600 clergymen, which, I think, is the usual computation, we
may have, in a small compass of years, almost as many thousands to live
with decency and comfort, provide for their children, &c., be charitable
to the poor, and maintain hospitality.

But it is very reasonable to hope, and heartily to be wished by all
those who have the least regard to our holy religion, as hitherto
established, or to a learned, pious, diligent, conversible clergyman, or
even to common humanity; that the honourable House of Commons will in
their great wisdom, justice, and tenderness to innocent men, consider
these bills in another light. It is said, they well know this kingdom
not to be so over stocked with neighbouring gentry; but a discreet,
learned clergyman, with a competency fit for one of his education, may
be an entertaining, a useful, and sometimes a necessary companion. That
although such a clergyman may not be able constantly to find BEEF and
WINE for his own family, yet he may be allowed sometimes to afford both
to a neighbour, without distressing himself; and the rather, because he
may expect at least as good a return. It will probably be considered,
that in many desolate parts, there may not be always a sufficient number
of persons considerable enough to be trusted with commissions of the
peace, which several of the Clergy now supply much better, than a
little, hedge, contemptible, illiterate vicar from twenty to fifty
pounds a-year, the son of a weaver, pedlar, tailor, or miller, can be
presumed to do.

The landlords and farmers by this scheme can find no profit, but will
certainly be losers; for instance, if the large northern livings be
split into a dozen parishes, or more, it will be very necessary for the
little threadbare gownman, with his wife, his proctor and every child
who can crawl, to watch the fields at harvest time, for fear of losing a
single sheaf, which he could not afford under peril of a day's starving;
for according to the Scotch proverb, a hungry louse bites sore. This
would of necessity, breed an infinite number of brangles and litigious
suits in the spiritual courts, and put the wretched pastor at perpetual
variance with his whole parish. But, as they have hitherto stood, a
clergyman established in a competent living is not under the necessity
of being so sharp, vigilant, and exacting. On the contrary, it is well
known and allowed, that the Clergy round the kingdom think themselves
well treated, if they lose only one single third of their legal demands.

The honourable House may perhaps be inclined to conceive, that my lords
the bishops enjoy as ample a power, both spiritual and temporal, as will
fully suffice to answer every branch of their office; that they want no
laws to regulate the conduct of those clergymen, over whom they preside;
that if non-residence be a grievance, it is the patron's fault, who
makes not a better choice, or caused the plurality. That if the general
impartial character of persons chosen into the Church had been more
regarded, and the motive of party, alliance, kindred, flatterers, ill
judgment, or personal favour regarded less, there would be fewer
complaints of non-residence, neglect of care, blameable behaviour, or
any other part of misconduct, not to mention ignorance and stupidity.

I could name certain gentlemen of the gown, whose awkward, spruce, prim,
sneering, and smirking countenances, the very tone of their voices, and
an ungainly strut in their walk, without one single talent for any one
office, have contrived to get good preferment by the mere force of
flattery and cringing: for which two virtues (the only two virtues they
pretend to) they were, however, utterly unqualified. And whom, if I were
in power, although they were my nephews or had married my nieces, I
could never in point of good conscience or honour, have recommended to a
curacy in Connaught.

The honourable House of Commons may likewise perhaps consider, that the
gentry of this kingdom differ from all others upon earth, being less
capable of employments in their own country, than any others who come
from abroad, and that most of them have little expectation of providing
for their younger children, otherwise than by the Church, in which there
might be some hopes of getting a tolerable maintenance. For after the
patrons should have settled their sons, their nephews, their nieces,
their dependants, and their followers, invited over from t'other side,
there would still remain an overplus of smaller church preferments, to
be given to such clergy of the nation, who shall have their quantum of
whatever merit may be then in fashion. But by these bills, they will be
all as absolutely excluded, as if they had passed under the denomination
of Tories, unless they can be contented at the utmost with £50 a-year,
which by the difficulties of collecting tithes in Ireland, and the daily
increasing miseries of the people, will hardly rise to half the sum.

It is observed, that the divines sent over hither to govern this Church,
have not seemed to consider the difference between both kingdoms, with
respect to the inferior clergy. As to themselves, indeed, they find a
large revenue in lands let at one quarter value, which consequently must
be paid while there is a penny left among us; and, the public distress
so little affects their interests, that their fines are now higher than
ever, they content themselves to suppose that whatever a parish is said
to be worth, comes all into the parson's pocket.

The poverty of great numbers among the Clergy of England, hath been the
continual complaint of all men who wish well to the Church, and many
schemes have been thought on to redress it; yet an English vicar of £40
a-year, lives much more comfortably than one of double the value in
Ireland. His farmers generally speaking, are able and willing to pay him
his full dues. He hath a decent church of ancient standing, filled every
Lord's day with a large congregation of plain people, well clad, and
behaving themselves as if they believed in God and Christ. He hath a
house and barn in repair, a field or two to graze his cows, with a
garden and orchard. No guest expects more from him than a pot of ale; he
lives like an honest, plain farmer, as his wife is dressed but little
better than Goody. He is sometimes graciously invited by the squire,
where he sits at humble distance; if he gets the love of his people,
they often make him little useful presents; he is happy by being born to
no higher expectation, for he is usually the son of some ordinary
tradesman or middling farmer. His learning is much of a size with his
birth and education, no more of either than what a poor hungry servitor
can be expected to bring with him from his college. It would be tedious
to shew the reverse of all this in our distant poorer parishes, through
most parts of Ireland, wherein every reader may make the comparison.

Lastly, the honourable House of Commons may consider, whether the scheme
of multiplying beggarly clergymen through the whole kingdom who must all
have votes for choosing parliament men (provided they can prove their
freeholds to be worth 40s. per annum, _ultra reprisas_) may not, by
their numbers, have great influence upon elections, being entirely under
the dependance of their bishops. For by a moderate computation, after
all the divisions and subdivisions of parishes, that, my lords, the
bishops, have power to make by their new laws, there will, as soon as
the present set of clergy go off, be raised an army of ecclesiastical
militants, able enough for any kind of service, except that of the

I am, indeed, in some concern about a fund for building a thousand or
two churches, wherein these probationers may read their wall lectures,
and begin to doubt they must be contented with barns; which barns will
be one great advancing step towards an accommodation with our true
Protestant brethren, the Dissenters.

The scheme of encouraging clergymen to build houses by dividing a living
of £500 a-year into ten parts, is a contrivance, the meaning whereof
hath got on the wrong side of my comprehension; unless it may be argued,
that bishops build no houses, because they are so rich; and therefore,
the inferior clergy will certainly build, if you reduce them to beggary.
But I knew a very rich man of quality in England, who could never be
persuaded to keep a servant out of livery; because such servants would
be expensive, and apt, in time, to look like gentlemen; whereas the
others were ready to submit to the basest offices, and at a cheaper
pennyworth might increase his retinue.

I hear, it is the opinion of many wise men, that before these bills pass
both Houses, they should be sent back to England with the following
clauses inserted:

First, that whereas there may be about a dozen double bishoprics in
Ireland, those bishoprics should be split and given to different
persons; and those of a single denomination be also divided into two,
three, or four parts, as occasion shall require; otherwise there may be
a question started, whether twenty-two prelates can effectually extend
their paternal care and unlimited power, for the protection and
correction of so great a number of spiritual subjects. But this proposal
will meet with such furious objections, that I shall not insist upon it,
for I well remember to have read, what a terrible fright the frogs were
in, upon a report that the sun was going to marry.

Another clause should be, that none of these twenty, thirty, forty, or
fifty pounders may be suffered to marry, under the penalty of immediate
deprivation, their marriages declared null, and their children bastards;
for some desponding people, take the kingdom to be not in a condition of
encouraging so numerous a breed of beggars.

A third clause will be necessary, that these humble gentry should be
absolutely disqualified from giving votes in elections for parliament

Others add a fourth, which is a clause of indulgence, that these reduced
divines may be permitted to follow any lawful ways of living, that will
not call them too often or too far from their spiritual offices (for
unless I misapprehend, they are supposed to have episcopal ordination).
For example, they may be lappers of linen, bailiffs of the manor, they
may let blood, or apply plasters, for three miles round; they may get a
dispensation to hold the clerkship and sextonship of their own parish
_in commendam_. Their wives and daughters may make shirts for the
neighbourhood, or if a barrack be near, for the soldiers. In linen
countries, they may card and spin, and keep a few looms in the house:
they may let lodgings, and sell a pot of ale without doors, but not at
home, unless to sober company, and at regular hours. It is by some
thought a little hard, that in an affair of the last consequence, to the
very being of the Clergy, in the points of liberty and property, as well
as in their abilities to perform their duty; this whole reverend body,
who are the established instructors of the nation in Christianity and
moral virtues, and are the only persons concerned, should be the sole
persons not consulted. Let any scholar shew the like precedent in
Christendom for twelve hundred years past. An act of parliament for
settling or selling an estate in a private family, is never passed till
all parties give consent. But in the present case the whole body of the
Clergy is, as themselves apprehend, determined to utter ruin, without
once expecting or asking their opinion, and this by a scheme contrived
only by one part of the convocation, while the other part which hath
been chosen in the usual forms, wants only the regal permission to
assemble, and consult about the affairs of the Church, as their
predecessors have always done in former ages; where it is presumed, the
Lower House hath a power of proposing canons, and a negative voice, as
well as the Upper. And God forbid (say these objectors) that there
should be a real separate interest between the bishops and Clergy, any
more than there is between a man and his wife, a king and his people, or
Christ and his Church.

It seems there is a provision in the bill, that no parish shall be cut
into scraps, without the consent of several persons, who can be no
sufferers in the matter; but I cannot find that the Clergy lay much
weight on this caution, because they argue, that the very persons from
whom these Bills took their rise, will have the greatest share in the

I do not, by any means, conceive the crying sin of the Clergy in this
kingdom, to be that of non-residence. I am sure, it is many degrees less
so here than in England, unless the possession of pluralities may pass
under that name; and if this be a fault, it is well known to whom it
must be imputed: I believe, upon a fair inquiry (and I hear an inquiry
is to be made) they will appear to be most pardonably few, especially
considering how many parishes have not an inch of glebe, and how
difficult it is upon any reasonable terms, to find a place of
habitation. And, therefore, God knows, whether my lords the bishops will
be soon able to convince the Clergy, or those who have any regard for
that venerable body, that the chief motive in their lordships' minds, by
procuring these bills, was to prevent the sin of non-residence, while
the universal opinion of almost every clergyman in the kingdom, without
distinction of party, taking in even those who are not likely to be
sufferers, stands directly against them.

If some livings in the north may be justly thought too large a compass
of land, which makes it inconvenient for the remotest inhabitant to
attend the service of the Church, which in some instances may be true;
no reasonable clergyman would oppose a proper remedy by particular acts
of parliament.

Thus for instance, the deanery of Down, a country deanery, I think,
without a cathedral, depending wholly upon an union of parishes joined
together, in a time when the land lay waste and thinly inhabited; since
those circumstances are so prodigiously changed for the better, may
properly be lessened, leaving a decent competency to the dean, and
placing rectories in the remaining churches, which are now served only
by stipendiary curates.

The case may be probably the same in other parts: and such a proceeding
discreetly managed would be truly for the good of the Church.

For it is to be observed, that the dean and chapter lands, which, in
England were all seized under the fanatic usurpation, are things unknown
in Ireland, having been long ravished from the Church, by a succession
of confusions, and tithes applied in their stead, to support that
ecclesiastical dignity.

The late Archbishop of Dublin[1] had a very different way of encouraging
the clergy of his diocese to residence: When a lease had run out seven
years or more, he stipulated with the tenant to resign up twenty or
thirty acres to the minister of the parish where it lay convenient,
without lessening his former rent; and with no great abatement of the
fine; and this he did in the parts near Dublin, where land is at the
highest rates, leaving a small chiefry for the minister to pay, hardly a
sixth part of the value. I doubt not that almost every bishop in the
kingdom may do the same generous act with less damage to their sees than
his late Grace of Dublin; much of whose lands were out in fee-farms, or
leases for lives, and I am sorry that the good example of that prelate
hath not been followed.

[Footnote 1: The Right Rev. Dr. William King (see p. 241). [T. S.]]

But a great majority of the Clergy's friends cannot hitherto reconcile
themselves to this project, which they call a levelling principle, that
must inevitably root out the seeds of all honest emulation, the legal
parent of the greatest virtues, and most generous actions among men; but
which, in the general opinion (for I do not pretend to offer my own,)
will never more have room to exert itself in the breast of any clergyman
whom this kingdom shall produce.

But, whether the consequences of these Bills may, by the virtues and
frailties of future bishops, sent over hither to rule the Church,
terminate in good or evil, I shall not presume to determine, since God
can work the former out of the latter. But one thing I can venture to
assert, that from the earliest ages of Christianity to the minute I am
now writing, there never was a precedent of SUCH a proceeding, much less
to be feared, hoped, or apprehended from such hands in any Christian
country, and so it may pass for more than a phoenix, because it hath
risen without any assistance from the ashes of its sire.

The appearance of so many dissenters at the hearing of this cause, is
what, I am told, hath not been charged to the account of their prudence
or moderation; because that action hath been censured as a mark of
triumph and insult before the victory is complete; since neither of
these bills hath yet passed the House of Commons, and some are pleased
to think it not impossible that they may be rejected. Neither do I hear,
that there is an enacting clause in either of the Bills to apply any
part of the divided or subdivided tithes, towards increasing the
stipends of the sectaries. So that these gentlemen seem to be gratified
like him, who, after having been kicked downstairs, took comfort when he
saw his friend kicked down after him.

I have heard many more objections against several particulars of both
these Bills, but they are of a high nature, and carry such dreadful
innuendos, that I dare not mention them, resolving to give no offence
because I well know how obnoxious I have long been (although I conceive
without any fault of my own) to the zeal and principles of those, who
place all difference in opinion concerning public matters, to the score
of disaffection, whereof I am at least as innocent as the loudest of my

  _Feb_. 24, 1731-2.

*****       *****       *****       *****








About the end of 1733 the Irish House of Commons had under consideration
a bill for the encouragement of the growth of flax and the manufacture
of linen. This bill contained a clause by which the tithe upon flax
should be commuted by a _modus_ or money composition. The clergy, to
whom this tithe was an important source of revenue, and, naturally, not
wishing to lose its advantage, took steps to petition Parliament to be
heard by counsel against the bill. Swift signed the petition, which set
forth the injury which would be done to their order if the clause in the
bill, then before the House, were allowed to become law. In addition to
this he committed and arranged his arguments to writing, and issued them
in the following pamphlet. The activity against the bill proved so
efficacious that the House of Commons dropped it. It may be remarked
that Swift's interference was purely disinterested, since no part of the
revenue of St. Patrick's, as Monck Mason points out, comes from the
"district appropriated to the culture of flax;" nor did Swift, "or any
of his predecessors or successors, ever receive one shilling upon
account of that tithe."

This attempt on the part of the House of Commons to regulate the affairs
of the clergy of Ireland seems to have been one of a series which
divided laity and clergy into two strongly opposing parties. On the one
side were the House of Commons and its supporters, on the other the
general body of the Irish clergy, with, for a time, at any rate, Swift
at the head. The tithe of pasturage, or, as it was called, the tithe of
agistment, was being strongly resisted at the time, and many of the
clergy were forced to sue in court before they could obtain it. The
matter of this tithe had been already before an Irish court in 1707, and
had been settled in favour of the suing clergyman, one Archdeacon Neal;
and although the cause was removed to King's Bench in England, the
previous judgment was confirmed. In spite of this decision, however, the
tithe continued to be a subject of litigation, and the landed
proprietors even formed themselves into associations for the purpose of
resisting the clergy's claim. In 1734 the House of Commons aggravated
matters by passing resolutions against the claims, many of which were
then the subject of legal actions, and prevented decisions being come to
while it had the matter under its consideration. From the pamphlets
written at the time it may easily be seen that this interference on the
part of the lower House was both unseemly and unjust. Its conduct so
roused Swift that his indignation found expression in one of his
bitterest and most terrible poetical satires--"The Legion Club"--a
satire so bitter and so scathing that reading it now, after the lapse of
more than a century and a half, one shudders at its invective--"a
blasting flood of filth and vitriol, out of some hellish fountain," Mr.
Churton Collins calls it. We are told that its composition brought on a
violent attack of vertigo, and it remained unfinished.

The text here given is that of the first edition collated with those
given by Faulkner, Hawkesworth, and Scott.


  Bill for settling the Tyth of _Hemp, Flax,_ &c. by a _Modus_.


The Clergy did little expect to have any cause of complaint against the
present House of Commons; who in the last sessions, were pleased to
throw out a Bill[1] sent them from the Lords, which that reverend body
apprehended would be very injurious to them, if it passed into a law;
and who, in the present sessions, defeated the arts and endeavours of
schismatics to repeal the Sacramental Test.

[Footnote 1: For the bishops to divide livings. See the two preceding
Tracts. [T. S.]]

For, although it hath been allowed on all hands, that the former of
those Bills might, by its necessary consequences, be very displeasing to
the lay gentlemen of the kingdom, for many reasons purely secular; and,
that this last attempt for repealing the Test, did much more affect, at
present, the temporal interest than the spiritual; yet the whole body of
the lower Clergy have, upon both these occasions, expressed equal
gratitude to that honourable House, for their justice and steadiness, as
if the clergy alone were to receive the benefit.

It must needs be, therefore, a great addition to the Clergy's grief,
that such an assembly as the present House of Commons; should now, with
an expedition more than usual, agree to a bill for encouraging the linen
manufacture; with a clause, whereby the Church is to lose two parts in
three, of the legal tithe in flax and hemp.

Some reasons, why the Clergy think such a law will be a great hardship
upon them, are, I conceive, those that follow. I shall venture to
enumerate them with all deference due to that honourable assembly.

_First_; the Clergy suppose that they have not, by any fault or demerit,
incurred the displeasure of the nation's representatives: neither can
the declared loyalty of the present set, from the highest prelate to the
lowest vicar, be in the least disputed: because, there are hardly ten
clergymen, through the whole kingdom, for more than nineteen years past,
who have not been either preferred entirely upon account of their
declared affection to the Hanover line; or higher promoted as the due
reward of the same merit.

There is not a landlord in the whole kingdom, residing some part of the
year at his country-seat, who is not, in his own conscience, fully
convinced, that the tithes of his minister have gradually sunk, for some
years past, one-third, or at least one-fourth of their former value,
exclusive of all non-solvencies.

The payment of tithes in this kingdom, is subject to so many frauds,
brangles, and other difficulties, not only from Papists and Dissenters,
but even from those who profess themselves Protestants; that by the
expense, the trouble, and vexation of collecting, or bargaining for
them, they are, of all other rents, the most precarious, uncertain, and
ill paid.

The landlords in most parishes expect, as a compliment, that they shall
pay little more than half the value of their tithes for the lands they
hold in their own hands; which often consist of large domains: And it is
the minister's interest to make them easy upon that article, when he
considers what influence those gentlemen have upon their tenants.

The Clergy cannot but think it extremely severe, that in a bill for
encouraging the linen manufacture, they alone must be the sufferers, who
can least afford it: If, as I am told, there be a tax of three thousand
pounds a year, paid by the public, for a further encouragement to the
said manufacture; are not the Clergy equal sharers in the charge with
the rest of their fellow subjects? What satisfactory reason can be
therefore given, why they alone should bear the whole additional weight,
unless it will be alleged that their property is not upon an equal foot
with the properties of other men? They acquire their own small pittance,
by at least as honest means, as their neighbours, the landlords, possess
their estates; and have been always supposed, except in rebellious or
fanatical times, to have as good a title: For, no families now in being
can shew a more ancient. Indeed, if it be true, that some persons (I
hope they were not many) were seen to laugh when the rights of the
Clergy were mentioned; in this case, an opinion may possibly be soon
advanced, that they have no rights at all. And this is likely enough to
gain ground, in proportion as the contempt of all religion shall
increase; which is already in a very forward way.

It is said, there will be also added to this Bill a clause for
diminishing the tithe of hops, in order to cultivate that useful plant
among us: And here likewise the load is to lie entirely on the shoulders
of the Clergy, while the landlords reap all the benefit. It will not be
easy to foresee where such proceedings are like to stop: Or whether by
the same authority, in civil times, a parliament may not as justly
challenge the same power in reducing all things titheable, not below the
tenth part of the product, (which is and ever will be the Clergy's
equitable right) but from a tenth-part to a sixtieth or eightieth, and
from thence to nothing.

I have heard it granted by skilful persons, that the practice of taxing
the Clergy by parliament, without their own consent, is a new thing, not
much above the date of seventy years: before which period, in times of
peace, they always taxed themselves. But things are extremely altered at
present: It is not now sufficient to tax them in common with their
fellow subjects, without imposing an additional tax upon them, from
which, or from anything equivalent, all their fellow-subjects are
exempt; and this in a country professing Christianity.

The greatest part of the Clergy throughout this kingdom, have been
stripped of their glebes by the confusion of times, by violence, fraud,
oppression, and other unlawful means: All which glebes are now in the
hands of the laity. So that they now are generally forced to lie at the
mercy of landlords, for a small piece of ground in their parishes, at a
most exorbitant rent, and usually for a short term of years; whereon to
build a house, and enable them to reside. Yet, in spite of these
disadvantages, I am a witness that they are generally more constant
residents than their brethren in England; where the meanest vicar hath a
convenient dwelling, with a barn, a garden, and a field or two for his
cattle; besides the certainty of his little income from honest farmers,
able and willing, not only to pay him his dues, but likewise to make him
presents, according to their ability, for his better support. In all
which circumstances, the Clergy of Ireland meet with a treatment
directly contrary.

It is hoped, the honourable House will consider that it is impossible
for the most ill-minded, avaricious, or cunning clergyman, to do the
least injustice to the meanest cottager in his parish, in any bargain
for tithes, or other ecclesiastical dues. He can, at the utmost, only
demand to have his tithe fairly laid out; and does not once in a hundred
times obtain his demand. But every tenant, from the poorest cottager to
the most substantial farmer, can, and generally doth impose upon the
minister, by fraud, by theft, by lies, by perjuries, by insolence, and
sometimes by force; notwithstanding the utmost vigilance and skill of
himself and his proctor. Insomuch, that it is allowed, that the Clergy
in general receive little more than one-half of their legal dues; not
including the charges they are at in collecting or bargaining for them.

The land rents of Ireland are computed to about two millions, whereof
one-tenth amounts to two hundred thousand pounds. The benefited
clergymen, excluding those of this city, are not reckoned to be above
five hundred; by which computation, they should each of them possess two
hundred pounds a year, if those tithes were equally divided, although in
well cultivated corn countries it ought to be more; whereas they hardly
receive one half of that sum; with great defalcations, and in very bad
payments. There are indeed, a few glebes in the north pretty
considerable, but if these and all the rest were in like manner equally
divided, they would not add five pounds a year to every clergyman.
Therefore, whether the condition of the Clergy in general among us be
justly liable to envy, or able to bear a heavy burden, which neither the
nobility, nor gentry, nor tradesmen, nor farmers, will touch with one of
their fingers; this, I say, is submitted to the honourable House.

One terrible circumstance in this Bill, is, that of turning the tithe of
flax and hemp into what the lawyers call a _Modus_, or a certain sum in
lieu of a tenth part of the product. And by this practice of claiming a
_Modus_ in many parishes by ancient custom, the Clergy in both kingdoms
have been almost incredible sufferers. Thus, in the present case, the
tithe of a tolerable acre of flax, which by a medium is worth twelve
shillings, is by the present Bill reduced to four shillings. Neither is
this the worst part in a _Modus_; every determinate sum must in process
of time sink from a fourth to a four-and-twentieth part, or a great deal
lower, by that necessary fall attending the value of money, which is now
at least nine tenths lower all over Europe than it was four hundred
years ago, by a gradual decline; and even a third part at least within
our own memories, in purchasing almost everything required for the
necessities or conveniencies of life; as any gentleman can attest, who
hath kept house for twenty years past. And this will equally affect poor
countries as well as rich. For, although, I look upon it as an
impossibility that this kingdom should ever thrive under its present
disadvantages, which without a miracle must still increase; yet, when
the whole cash of the nation shall sink to fifty thousand pounds; we
must in all our traffic abroad, either of import or export, go by the
general rate at which money is valued in those countries that enjoy the
common privileges of human kind. For this reason, no corporation, (if
the Clergy may presume to call themselves one) should by any means grant
away their properties in perpetuity upon any consideration whatsoever;
Which is a rock that many corporations have split upon, to their great
impoverishment, and sometimes to their utter undoing. Because they are
supposed to subsist for ever; and because no determination of money is
of any certain perpetual intrinsic value. This is known enough in
England, where estates let for ever, some hundred years ago, by several
ancient noble families, do not at this present pay their posterity a
twentieth part of what they are now worth at an easy rate.

A tax affecting one part of a nation, which already bears its full share
in all parliamentary impositions, cannot possibly be just, except it be
inflicted as a punishment upon that body of men which is taxed, for some
great demerit or danger to the public apprehended from those upon whom
it is laid: Thus the Papists and Nonjurors have been doubly taxed for
refusing to give proper securities to the government; which cannot be
objected against the Clergy. And therefore, if this Bill should pass; I
think it ought to be with a preface, shewing wherein they have offended,
and for what disaffection or other crime they are punished.

If an additional excise upon ale, or a duty upon flesh and bread, were
to be enacted, neither the victualler, butcher, or baker would bear any
more of the charge than for what themselves consumed; but it would be an
equal general tax through the whole kingdom: Whereas, by this Bill, the
Clergy alone are avowedly condemned to be deprived of their ancient,
inherent, undisputed rights, in order to encourage a manufacture by
which all the rest of the kingdom are supposed to be gainers.

This Bill is directly against _Magna Charta_, whereof the first clause
is for confirming the inviolable rights of Holy Church; as well as
contrary to the oath taken by all our kings at their coronation, where
they swear to defend and protect the Church in all its rights.

A tax laid upon employments is a very different thing. The possessors of
civil and military employments are no corporation; neither are they any
part of our constitution: Their salaries, pay, and perquisites are all
changeable at the pleasure of the prince who bestows them, although the
army be paid from funds raised and appropriated by the legislature. But
the Clergy as they have little reason to expect, so they desire no more
than their ancient legal dues; only indeed with the removal of many
grievous impediments in the collection of them; which it is to be feared
they must wait for until more favourable times. It is well known, that
they have already of their own accord shewn great indulgence to their
people upon this very article of flax, seldom taking above a fourth part
of their tithe for small parcels, and oftentimes nothing at all from new
beginners; waiting with patience until the farmers were able, and until
greater quantities of land were employed in that part of husbandry;
never suspecting that their good intentions should be perverted in so
singular a manner to their detriment, by that very assembly, which,
during the time that convocations (which are an original part of our
constitution ever since Christianity became national among us) are
thought fit to be suspended, God knows for what reason, or from what
provocations; I say, from that very assembly, who, during the intervals
of convocations, should rather be supposed to be guardians of the rights
and properties of the Clergy, than to make the least attempt upon

I have not heard upon inquiry, that any of those gentlemen, who, among
us without doors, are called the Court Party, discover the least zeal in
this affair. If they had thoughts to interpose, it might be conceived
they would shew their displeasure against this Bill, which must very
much lessen the value of the King's patronage upon promotion to vacant
sees; in the disposal of deaneries, and other considerable preferments
in the Church, which are in the donation of the Crown; whereby the
viceroys will have fewer good preferments to bestow on their dependants,
as well as upon the kindred of members, who may have a sufficient stock
of that sort of merit, whatever it may be, which may in future times
most prevail.

The Dissenters, by not succeeding in their endeavours to procure a
repeal of the Test, have lost nothing, but continue in full enjoyment of
their toleration; while the Clergy without giving the least offence, are
by this Bill deprived of a considerable branch of their ancient legal
rights, whereby the schismatical party will have the pleasure of
gratifying their revenge. _Hoc Graii voluere._

The farmer will find no relief by this _Modus_, because, when his
present lease shall expire, his landlord will infallibly raise the rent
in an equal proportion, upon every part of land where flax is sown, and
have so much a better security for payment at the expense of the Clergy.

If we judge by things past, it little avails that this Bill is to be
limited to a certain time of ten, twenty, or thirty years. For no
landlord will ever consent that a law shall expire, by which he finds
himself a gainer; and of this there are many examples, as well in
England, as in this kingdom.

The great end of this Bill is, by proper encouragement to extend the
linen manufacture into those counties where it hath hitherto been little
cultivated: But this encouragement _of lessening the tithe of flax and
hemp_ is one of such a kind as, it is to be feared, will have a directly
contrary effect. Because, if I am rightly informed, no set of men hath
for their number and fortunes been more industrious and successful than
the Clergy, in introducing that manufacture into places which were
unacquainted with it; by persuading their people to sow flax and hemp,
by procuring seed for them and by having them instructed in the
management thereof; and this they did not without reasonable hopes of
increasing the value of their parishes after some time, as well as of
promoting the benefit of the public. But if this _Modus_ should take
place, the Clergy will be so far from gaining that they will become
losers by any extraordinary care, by having their best arable lands
turned to flax and hemp, which are reckoned great impoverishers of land:
They cannot therefore be blamed, if they should shew as much zeal to
prevent its being introduced or improved in their parishes as they
hitherto have shewed in the introducing and improving of it. This, I am
told, some of them have already declared at least so far as to resolve
not to give themselves any more trouble than other men about promoting a
manufacture by the success of which, they only of all men are to be
sufferers. Perhaps the giving them even a further encouragement than the
law doth, as it now stands, to a set of men who might on many accounts
be so useful to this purpose, would be no bad method of having the great
end of the Bill more effectually answered: But this is what they are far
from desiring; all they petition for is no more than to continue on the
same footing with the rest of their fellow-subjects.

If this _Modus_ of paying by the acre be to pass into a law, it were to
be wished that the same law would appoint one or more sworn surveyors in
each parish to measure the lands on which flax and hemp are sown, as
also would settle the price of surveying, and determine whether the
incumbent or farmer is to pay for each annual survey. Without something
of this kind, there must constantly be disputes between them, and the
neighbouring justices of peace must be teazed as often as those disputes

I had written thus far, when a paper was sent to me with several reasons
against the Bill, some whereof although they have been already touched,
are put in a better light, and the rest did not occur to me. I shall
deliver them in the author's own words.

N.B. Some Alterations have been made in the Bill about the _Modus_,
since the above paper was writ; but they are of little moment.

*****       *****       *****       *****







I. That tithes are the patrimony of the Church: And if not of Divine
original, yet at least of great antiquity.

II. That all purchases and leases of titheable lands, for many centuries
past, have been made and taken, subject to the demand of tithes, and
those lands sold and taken just so much the cheaper on that account.

III. That if any lands are exempted from tithes; or the legal demands
of such tithes lessened by act of parliament, so much value is taken
from the proprietor of the tithes, and vested in the proprietor of the
lands, or his head tenants.

IV. That no innocent unoffending person can be so deprived of his
property without the greatest violation of common justice.

V. That to do this upon a prospect of encouraging the linen, or any
other manufacture, is acting upon a very mistaken and unjust
supposition, inasmuch as the price of the lands so occupied will be no
way lessened to the farmer by such a law.

VI. That the Clergy are content cheerfully to bear (as they now do) any
burden in common with their fellow-subjects, either for the support of
his Majesty's government, or the encouragement of the trade of the
nation but think it very hard, that they should be singled out to pay
heavier taxes than others, at a time when by the decrease of the value
of their parishes they are less able to bear them.

VII. That the legislature hath heretofore distinguished the Clergy by
exemptions, and not by additional loads, and the present Clergy of the
kingdom hope they have not deserved worse of the legislature than their

VIII. That by the original constitution of these kingdoms, the Clergy
had the sole right of taxing themselves, and were in possession of that
right as low as the Restoration: And if that right be now devolved upon
the Commons by the cession of the Clergy, the Commons can be considered
in this case in no other light than as the guardians of the Clergy.

IX. That besides those tithes always in the possession of the Clergy;
there are some portion of tithes lately come into their possession by
purchase; that if this clause should take place, they would not be
allowed the benefit of these purchases, upon an equal footing of
advantage with the rest of their fellow-subjects. And that some tithes
in the hands of impropriators, are under settlements and mortgages.

X. That the gentlemen of this House should consider, that loading the
Clergy is loading their own younger brothers and children; with this
additional grievance, that it is taking from the younger and poorer, to
give to the elder and richer. And,

_Lastly_, That, if it were at any time just and proper to do this, it
would however be too severe to do it now, when all the tithes of the
kingdom are known for some years past to have sunk above one-third part
in their value.

Any income in the hands of the Clergy, is at least as useful to the
public, as the same income in the hands of the laity.

It were more reasonable to grant the clergy in three parts of the nation
an additional support, than to diminish their present subsistence.

Great employments are and will be in the hands of Englishmen; nothing
left for the younger sons of Irishmen but vicarages, tide-waiters'
places, &c.; therefore no reason to make them worse.

The _Modus_ upon the flax in England, affects only lands reclaimed since
the year 1690, and is at the rate of five shillings the English acre,
which is equivalent to eight shillings and eightpence Irish, and that to
be paid before the farmer removed it from the field. Flax is a
manufacture of little consequence in England, but is the staple in
Ireland, and if it increases (as it probably will) must in many places
jostle out corn, because it is more gainful.

The Clergy of the Established Church, have no interest like those of the
Church of Rome, distinct from the true interest of their country; and
therefore ought to suffer under no distinct impositions or taxes of any

The Bill for settling the _Modus_ of flax in England, was brought in, in
the first year of the reign of King George I., when the Clergy lay very
unjustly under the imputation of some disaffection. And to encourage the
bringing in of some fens in Lincolnshire, which were not to be continued
under flax: But it left all lands where flax had been sown before that
time, under the same condition of tithing, in which they were before the
passing of that Bill: Whereas this bill takes away what the Clergy are
actually possessed of.

That the woollen manufacture is the staple of England, as the linen is
that of Ireland, yet no attempt was ever made in England to reduce the
tithe of wool, for the encouragement of that manufacture.

This manufacture hath already been remarkably favoured by the Clergy,
who have hitherto been generally content with less than half--some with
sixpence a garden--and some have taken nothing.

Employments they say have been taxed, the reasons for which taxation
will not hold with regard to property, at least till employments become

The Commons always have had so tender a regard to property; that they
never would suffer any law to pass, whereby any particular persons might
be aggrieved without their own consent.

*****       *****       *****       *****





This essay was first printed in Nos. v. and vii. of "The Intelligencer"
(Dublin, 1728). In that periodical it bore the title: "A Description of
what the World calls Discretion;" and had the following lines from Ben
Jonson as a text:

  "Described it's thus: Defined would you it have?
  Then the World's honest Man's an errant knave."

The text here printed is based on the original issue, and collated with
the "Miscellanies," vol. iii. of 1732, and the "Miscellanies," vol. ii.,



There is no talent so useful towards rising in the world, or which puts
men more out of the reach of fortune, than that quality generally
possessed by the dullest sort of people, and is in common speech called
discretion; a species of lower prudence, by the assistance of which,
people of the meanest intellectuals, without any other qualification,
pass through the world in great tranquillity, and with universal good
treatment, neither giving nor taking offence. Courts are seldom
unprovided of persons under this character, on whom, if they happen to
be of great quality, most employments, even the greatest, naturally
fall, when competitors will not agree; and in such promotions, nobody
rejoices or grieves. The truth of this I could prove by several
instances within my own memory; for I say nothing of present times.

And, indeed, as regularity and forms are of great use in carrying on the
business of the world, so it is very convenient, that persons endued
with this kind of discretion, should have that share which is proper to
their talents, in the conduct of affairs, but by no means meddle in
matters which require genius, learning, strong comprehension, quickness
of conception, magnanimity, generosity, sagacity, or any other superior
gift of human minds. Because this sort of discretion is usually attended
with a strong desire of money, and few scruples about the way of
obtaining it; with servile flattery and submission; with a want of all
public spirit or principle; with a perpetual wrong judgment, when the
owners come into power and high place, how to dispose of favour and
preferment; having no measures for merit and virtue in others, but those
very steps by which themselves ascended; nor the least intention of
doing good or hurt to the public, farther than either one or t'other is
likely to be subservient to their own security or interest. Thus, being
void of all friendship and enmity, they never complain or find fault
with the times, and indeed never have reason to do so.

Men of eminent parts and abilities, as well as virtues, do sometimes
rise in the court, sometimes in the law, and sometimes even in the
Church. Such were the Lord Bacon, the Earl of Strafford, Archbishop
Laud, in the reign of King Charles I., and others in our own times, whom
I shall not name; but these, and many more, under different princes, and
in different kingdoms, were disgraced or banished, or suffered death,
merely in envy to their virtues and superior genius, which emboldened
them in great exigencies and distresses of state, (wanting a reasonable
infusion of this aldermanly discretion,) to attempt the service of their
prince and country, out of the common forms.

This evil fortune, which generally attends extraordinary men in the
management of great affairs, has been imputed to divers causes that need
not be here set down, when so obvious a one occurs, if what a certain
writer observes be true, that when a great genius appears in the world,
the dunces are all in confederacy against him. And if this be his fate
when he employs his talents[1] wholly in his closet, without interfering
with any man's ambition or avarice, what must he expect, when he
ventures out to seek for preferment in a court, but universal opposition
when he is mounting the ladder, and every hand ready to turn him off
when he is at the top? And in this point, fortune generally acts
directly contrary to nature; for in nature we find, that bodies full of
life and spirits mount easily, and are hard to fall, whereas heavy
bodies are hard to rise, and come down with greater velocity, in
proportion to their weight; but we find fortune every day acting just
the reverse of this.

[Footnote 1: "And thus although he employs his talents." This is the
reading of "The Intelligencer." [T.S.]]

This talent of discretion, as I have described it in its several
adjuncts and circumstances, is nowhere so serviceable as to the clergy,
to whose preferment nothing is so fatal as the character of wit,
politeness in reading or manners, or that kind of behaviour which we
contract by having too much conversation with persons of high station
and eminency: these qualifications being reckoned, by the vulgar of all
ranks, to be marks of levity, which is the last crime the world will
pardon in a clergyman; to this I may add a free manner of speaking in
mixed company, and too frequent an appearance in places of much resort,
which are equally noxious to spiritual promotion.

I have known, indeed, a few exceptions to some parts of these
observations.[2] I have seen some of the dullest men alive aiming at
wit, and others, with as little pretensions, affecting politeness in
manners and discourse: But never being able to persuade the world of
their guilt, they grew into considerable stations, upon the firm
assurance which all people had of their discretion, because they were of
a size too low to deceive the world to their own disadvantage. But this,
I confess, is a trial too dangerous often to engage in.

[Footnote 2: This word is "regulations" in "The Intelligencer." [T.S.]]

There is a known story of a clergyman, who was recommended for a
preferment by some great men at court, to an archbishop.[3] His grace
said, "he had heard that the clergyman used to play at whist and
swobbers;[4] that as to playing now and then a sober game at whist for
pastime, it might be pardoned, but he could not digest those wicked
swobbers;" and it was with some pains that my Lord Somers could
undeceive him. I ask, by what talents we may suppose that great prelate
ascended so high, or what sort of qualifications he would expect in
those whom he took into his patronage, or would probably recommend to
court for the government of distant churches?

[Footnote 3: Archbishop Tenison, who, by all contemporary accounts, was
a very dull man. There was a bitter sarcasm upon him usually ascribed to
Swift, "That he was as hot and heavy as a tailor's goose." [S.]

In "The Intelligencer" the word "archbishop" is replaced by the letters
A.B.C.T. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: "Swobbers" were four privileged cards used, at one time,
for betting purposes, in the game of whist. [T.S.]]

Two clergymen, in my memory, stood candidates for a small free school in
Yorkshire, where a gentleman of quality and interest in the country, who
happened to have a better understanding than his neighbours, procured
the place for him who was the better scholar, and more gentlemanly
person, of the two, very much to the regret of all the parish: The
other, being disappointed, came up to London, where he became the
greatest pattern of this lower discretion that I have known, and
possessed it with as heavy intellectuals; which, together with the
coldness of his temper, and gravity of his deportment, carried him safe
through many difficulties, and he lived and died in a great station;
while his competitor is too obscure for fame to tell us what became of

This species of discretion, which I so much celebrate, and do most
heartily recommend, hath one advantage not yet mentioned, that it will
carry a man safe through all the malice and variety of parties, so far,
that whatever faction happens to be uppermost, his claim is usually
allowed for a share of what is going. And the thing seems to me highly
reasonable: For in all great changes, the prevailing side is usually so
tempestuous, that it wants the ballast of those whom the world calls
moderate men, and I call men of discretion; whom people in power may,
with little ceremony, load as heavy as they please, drive them through
the hardest and deepest roads without danger of foundering, or breaking
their backs, and will be sure to find them neither rusty nor vicious.

I[5] will here give the reader a short history of two clergymen in
England, the characters of each, and the progress of their fortunes in
the world; by which the force of worldly discretion, and the bad
consequences from the want of that virtue, will strongly appear.

[Footnote 5: In "The Intelligencer," No. v., this paragraph reads as
follows: "In some following Paper I will give the reader a short history
of two Clergymen in England, the characters of each, and the progress of
their fortunes in the world. By which the force of worldly discretion,
and the bad consequences from the want of that virtue, will strongly
appear." In No. vii. the subject is continued as in the next paragraph.

Corusodes, an Oxford student, and a farmer's son, was never absent from
prayers or lecture, nor once out of his college, after Tom had tolled.
He spent every day ten hours in his closet, in reading his courses,
dozing, clipping papers, or darning his stockings; which last he
performed to admiration. He could be soberly drunk at the expense of
others, with college ale, and at those seasons was always most devout.
He wore the same gown five years without draggling or tearing. He never
once looked into a playbook or a poem. He read Virgil and Ramus in the
same cadence, but with a very different taste. He never understood a
jest, or had the least conception of wit.

For one saying he stands in renown to this day. Being with some other
students over a pot of ale, one of the company said so many pleasant
things, that the rest were much diverted, only Corusodes was silent and
unmoved. When they parted, he called this merry companion aside, and
said, "Sir, I perceive by your often speaking, and your friends
laughing, that you spoke many jests; and you could not but observe my
silence: But sir, this is my humour, I never make a jest myself, nor
ever laugh at another man's."

Corusodes, thus endowed, got into holy orders; having, by the most
extreme parsimony, saved thirty-four pounds out of a very beggarly
fellowship, he went up to London, where his sister was waitingwoman to a
lady, and so good a solicitor, that by her means he was admitted to read
prayers in the family twice a-day, at fourteen[1] shillings a month. He
had now acquired a low, obsequious, awkward bow, and a talent of gross
flattery both in and out of season; he would shake the butler by the
hand; he taught the page his catechism, and was sometimes admitted to
dine at the steward's table. In short, he got the good word of the whole
family, and was recommended by my lady for chaplain to some other noble
houses, by which his revenue (besides vales) amounted to about thirty
pounds a-year: His sister procured him a scarf from my lord, who had a
small design of gallantry upon her; and by his lordship's solicitation
he got a lectureship in town of sixty pounds a-year; where he preached
constantly in person, in a grave manner, with an audible voice, a style
ecclesiastic, and the matter (such as it was) well suited to the
intellectuals of his hearers. Some time after, a country living fell in
my lord's disposal; and his lordship, who had now some encouragement
given him of success in his amour, bestowed the living on Corusodes, who
still kept his lectureship and residence in town; where he was a
constant attendant at all meetings relating to charity, without ever
contributing further than his frequent pious exhortations. If any woman
of better fashion in the parish happened to be absent from church, they
were sure of a visit from him in a day or two, to chide and to dine with

[Footnote 6: Scott has "ten shillings." [T.S.]]

He had a select number of poor constantly attending at the street door
of his lodgings, for whom he was a common solicitor to his former
patroness, dropping in his own halfcrown among the collection, and
taking it out when he disposed of the money. At a person of quality's
house, he would never sit down till he was thrice bid, and then upon the
corner of the most distant chair. His whole demeanour was formal and
starch, which adhered so close, that he could never shake it off in his
highest promotion.

His lord was now in high employment at court, and attended by him with
the most abject assiduity; and his sister being gone off with child to a
private lodging, my lord continued his graces to Corusodes, got him to
be a chaplain in ordinary, and in due time a parish in town, and a
dignity in the Church.

He paid his curates punctually, at the lowest salary, and partly out of
the communion money; but gave them good advice in abundance. He married
a citizen's widow, who taught him to put out small sums at ten per
cent., and brought him acquainted with jobbers in Change-alley. By her
dexterity he sold the clerkship of his parish, when it became vacant.

He kept a miserable house, but the blame was laid wholly upon madam; for
the good doctor was always at his books, or visiting the sick, or doing
other offices of charity and piety in his parish.

He treated all his inferiors of the clergy with a most sanctified pride;
was rigorously and universally censorious upon all his brethren of the
gown, on their first appearance in the world, or while they continued
meanly preferred; but gave large allowance to the laity of high rank, or
great riches, using neither eyes nor ears for their faults: He was never
sensible of the least corruption in courts, parliaments, or ministries,
but made the most favourable constructions of all public proceedings;
and power, in whatever hands, or whatever party, was always secure of
his most charitable opinion. He had many wholesome maxims ready to
excuse all miscarriages of state: Men are but men; _Erunt vitia donec
homines_; and, _Quod supra nos, nil ad nos_; with several others of
equal weight.

It would lengthen my paper beyond measure to trace out the whole system
of his conduct; his dreadful apprehensions of Popery; his great
moderation toward dissenters of all denominations; with hearty wishes,
that, by yielding somewhat on both sides, there might be a general union
among Protestants; his short, inoffensive sermons in his turns at court,
and the matter exactly suited to the present juncture of prevailing
opinions; the arts he used to obtain a mitre, by writing against
Episcopacy; and the proofs he gave of his loyalty, by palliating or
defending the murder of a martyred prince.

Endowed with all these accomplishments, we leave him in the full career
of success, mounting fast toward the top of the Ladder Ecclesiastical,
which he hath a fair probability to reach; without the merit of one
single virtue, moderately stocked with the least valuable parts of
erudition, utterly devoid of all taste, judgment, or genius; and, in his
grandeur, naturally choosing to haul up others after him, whose
accomplishments most resemble his own, except his beloved sons, nephews,
or other kindred, be in competition; or, lastly, except his inclinations
be diverted by those who have power to mortify, or further advance him.

Eugenio set out from the same university, and about the same time with
Corusodes; he had the reputation of an arch lad at school, and was
unfortunately possessed with a talent for poetry; on which account he
received many chiding letters from his father, and grave advice from his
tutor. He did not neglect his college learning, but his chief study was
the authors of antiquity, with a perfect knowledge in the Greek and
Roman tongues. He could never procure himself to be chosen fellow: For
it was objected against him, that he had written verses, and
particularly some wherein he glanced at a certain reverend doctor famous
for dulness: That he been seen bowing to ladies, as he met them in the
streets; and it was proved, that once he had been found dancing in a
private family, with half a dozen of both sexes.

He was the younger son to a gentleman of good birth, but small estate;
and his father dying, he was driven to London to seek his fortune: He
got into orders, and became reader in a parish church at twenty pounds
a-year; was carried by an Oxford friend to Will's coffee-house,
frequented in those days by men of wit, where in some time he had the
bad luck to be distinguished. His scanty salary compelled him to run
deep in debt for a new gown and cassock, and now and then forced him to
write some paper of wit or humour, or preach a sermon for ten shillings,
to supply his necessities. He was a thousand times recommended by his
poetical friends to great persons, as a young man of excellent parts who
deserved encouragement, and received a thousand promises; but his
modesty, and a generous spirit, which disdained the slavery of continual
application and attendance, always disappointed him, making room for
vigilant dunces, who were sure to be never out of sight.

He had an excellent faculty in preaching, if he were not sometimes a
little too refined, and apt to trust too much to his own way of thinking
and reasoning.

When, upon the vacancy of a preferment, he was hardly drawn to attend
upon some promising lord, he received the usual answer, "That he came
too late, for it had been given to another the very day before." And he
had only this comfort left, that everybody said, "It was a thousand
pities something could not be done for poor Mr. Eugenio."

The remainder of his story will be dispatched in a few words: Wearied
with weak hopes, and weaker pursuits, he accepted a curacy in
Derbyshire, of thirty pounds a-year, and when he was five-and-forty, had
the great felicity to be preferred by a friend of his father's to a
vicarage worth annually sixty pounds, in the most desert parts of
Lincolnshire; where, his spirit quite sunk with those reflections that
solitude and disappointments bring, he married a farmer's widow, and is
still alive, utterly undistinguished and forgotten; only some of the
neighbours have accidentally heard, that he had been a notable man in
his youth.

*****       *****       *****       *****





May 24, 1736.

I have been long considering and conjecturing, what could be the causes
of that great disgust, of late, against the clergy of both kingdoms,
beyond what was ever known till that monster and tyrant, Henry VIII. who
took away from them, against law, reason, and justice, at least
two-thirds of their legal possessions; and whose successors (except
Queen Mary) went on with their rapine, till the accession of King James
I. That detestable tyrant Henry VIII. although he abolished the Pope's
power in England, as universal bishop, yet what he did in that article,
however just it were in itself, was the mere effect of his irregular
appetite, to divorce himself from a wife he was weary of, for a younger
and more beautiful woman, whom he afterwards beheaded. But, at the same
time, he was an entire defender of all the Popish doctrines, even those
which were the most absurd. And, while he put people to death for
denying him to be head of the Church, he burned every offender against
the doctrines of the Roman faith; and cut off the head of Sir Thomas
More, a person of the greatest virtue this kingdom ever produced, for
not directly owning him to be head of the Church. Among all the princes
who ever reigned in the world there was never so infernal a beast as
Henry VIII. in every vice of the most odious kind, without any one
appearance of virtue: But cruelty, lust, rapine, and atheism, were his
peculiar talents. He rejected the power of the Pope for no other reason,
than to give his full swing to commit sacrilege, in which no tyrant,
since Christianity became national, did ever equal him by many degrees.
The abbeys, endowed with lands by the mistaken notions of well-disposed
men, were indeed too numerous, and hurtful to the kingdom; and,
therefore, the legislature might, after the Reformation, have justly
applied them to some pious or public uses.

In a very few centuries after Christianity became national in most parts
of Europe, although the church of Rome had already introduced many
corruptions in religion; yet the piety of early Christians, as well as
new converts, was so great, and particularly of princes, as well as
noblemen and other wealthy persons, that they built many religious
houses, for those who were inclined to live in a recluse or solitary
manner, endowing those monasteries with land. It is true, we read of
monks some ages before, who dwelt in caves and cells, in desert places.
But, when public edifices were erected and endowed, they began gradually
to degenerate into idleness, ignorance, avarice, ambition, and luxury,
after the usual fate of all human institutions. The Popes, who had
already aggrandized themselves, laid hold of the opportunity to subject
all religious houses with their priors and abbots, to their peculiar
authority; whereby these religious orders became of an interest directly
different from the rest of mankind, and wholly at the Pope's devotion. I
need say no more on this article, so generally known and so frequently
treated, or of the frequent endeavours of some other princes, as well as
our own, to check the growth, and wealth, and power of the regulars.

In later times, this mistaken piety, of erecting and endowing abbeys,
began to decrease. And therefore, when some new-invented sect of monks
and friars began to start up, not being able to procure grants of land,
they got leave from the Pope to appropriate the tithes and glebes of
certain parishes, as contiguous or near as they could find, obliging
themselves to send out some of their body to take care of the people's
souls: And, if some of those parishes were at too great a distance from
the abbey, the monks appointed to attend them were paid, for the cure,
either a small stipend of a determined sum, or sometimes a third part,
or what are now called the vicarial tithes.

As to the church-lands, it hath been the opinion of many writers, that,
in England, they amounted to a third part of the whole kingdom. And
therefore, if that wicked prince above-mentioned, when he had cast off
the Pope's power, had introduced some reformation in religion, he could
not have been blamed for taking away the abbey-lands by authority of
parliament. But, when he continued the most cruel persecutor of all
those who differed in the least article of the Popish religion, which
was then the national and established faith, his seizing on those lands,
and applying them to profane uses, was absolute sacrilege, in the
strongest sense of the word; having been bequeathed by princes and pious
men to sacred uses.

In the reign of this prince, the church and court of Rome had arrived to
such a height of corruption, in doctrine and discipline, as gave great
offence to many wise, learned, and pious men, through most parts of
Europe; and several countries agreed to make some reformation in
religion. But, although a proper and just reformation were allowed to be
necessary, even to preserve Christianity itself, yet the passions and
vices of men had mingled themselves so far, as to pervert and confound
all the good endeavours of those who intended well: And thus the
reformation, in every country where it was attempted, was carried on in
the most impious and scandalous manner that can possibly be conceived.
To which unhappy proceedings we owe all the just reproachings that Roman
Catholics have cast upon us ever since. For, when the northern kingdoms
and states grew weary of the Pope's tyranny, and when their preachers,
beginning with the scandalous abuses of indulgencies, and proceeding
farther to examine several points of faith, had credit enough with their
princes, who were in some fear lest such a change might affect the peace
of their countries, because their bishops had great influence on the
people by their wealth and power; these politic teachers had a ready
answer to this purpose. "Sir, your Majesty need not be in any pain or
apprehension: Take away the lands, and sink the authority of the
bishops: Bestow those lands on your courtiers, on your nobles, and your
great officers in your army; and then you will be secure of the people."
This advice was exactly followed. And, in the Protestant monarchies
abroad, little more than the shadow of Episcopacy is left; but, in the
republics, is wholly extinct.

In England, the Reformation was brought in after a somewhat different
manner, but upon the same principle of robbing the Church. However,
Henry VIII. with great dexterity, discovered an invention to gratify his
insatiable thirst for blood, on both religions.

*****       *****       *****       *****



In the "Gent. Mag.," vol. xxxv., p. 372 (August, 1765), is a reprint of
these "Thoughts," and "Further Thoughts" from Deane Swift's edition of
his relative's works, just then published. The note introducing the
reprint is signed "T.B."; but neither the note nor T.B.'s remarks are of
much importance. The present text is that of Scott, and collated with
the quarto edition of Swift's Works, vol. viii. 1765.



I am in all opinions to believe according to my own impartial reason;
which I am bound to inform and improve, as far as my capacity and
opportunities will permit.

It may be prudent in me to act sometimes by other men's reason, but I
can think only by my own.

If another man's reason fully convinceth me, it becomes my own reason.

To say a man is bound to believe, is neither truth nor sense.

You may force men, by interest or punishment, to say or swear they
believe, and to act as if they believed: You can go no further.

Every man, as a member of the commonwealth, ought to be content with the
possession of his own opinion in private, without perplexing his
neighbour or disturbing the public.

Violent zeal for truth hath an hundred to one odds to be either
petulancy, ambition, or pride.

There is a degree of corruption wherein some nations, as bad as the
world is, will proceed to an amendment; till which time particular men
should be quiet.

To remove opinions fundamental in religion is impossible, and the
attempt wicked, whether those opinions be true or false; unless your
avowed design be to abolish that religion altogether. So, for instance,
in the famous doctrine of Christ's divinity, which hath been universally
received by all bodies of Christians, since the condemnation of Arianism
under Constantine and his successors: Wherefore the proceedings of the
Socinians are both vain and unwarrantable; because they will be never
able to advance their own opinion, or meet any other success than
breeding doubts and disturbances in the world. _Qui ratione suae
disturbant moenia mundi._

The want of belief is a defect that ought to be concealed when it cannot
be overcome.

The Christian religion, in the most early times, was proposed to the
Jews and heathens without the article of Christ's divinity; which, I
remember, Erasmus accounts for, by its being too strong a meat for
babes. Perhaps, if it were now softened by the Chinese missionaries, the
conversion of those infidels would be less difficult: And we find by the
Alcoran, it is the great stumbling-block of the Mahometans. But, in a
country already Christian, to bring so fundamental a point of faith into
debate, can have no consequences that are not pernicious to morals and
public peace.

I have been often offended to find St. Paul's allegories, and other
figures of Grecian eloquence, converted by divines into articles of

God's mercy is over all His works, but divines of all sorts lessen that
mercy too much.

I look upon myself, in the capacity of a clergyman, to be one appointed
by Providence for defending a post assigned me, and for gaining over as
many enemies as I can. Although I think my cause is just, yet one great
motive is my submitting to the pleasure of Providence, and to the laws
of my country.

I am not answerable to God for the doubts that arise in my own breast,
since they are the consequence of that reason which He hath planted in
me; if I take care to conceal those doubts from others, if I use my best
endeavours to subdue them, and if they have no influence on the conduct
of my life.

I believe that thousands of men would be orthodox enough in certain
points, if divines had not been too curious, or too narrow, in reducing
orthodoxy within the compass of subtleties, niceties, and distinctions,
with little warrant from Scripture and less from reason or good policy.

I never saw, heard, nor read, that the clergy were beloved in any nation
where Christianity was the religion of the country. Nothing can render
them popular but some degree of persecution.

Those fine gentlemen who affect the humour of railing at the clergy,
are, I think, bound in honour to turn parsons themselves, and shew us
better examples.

Miserable mortals! Can we contribute to the honour and glory of God? I
wish that expression were struck out of our Prayer-books.

Liberty of conscience, properly speaking, is no more than the liberty of
possessing our own thoughts and opinions, which every man enjoys without
fear of the magistrate: But how far he shall publicly act in pursuance
of those opinions, is to be regulated by the laws of the country.
Perhaps, in my own thoughts, I prefer a well-instituted commonwealth
before a monarchy; and I know several others of the same opinion. Now,
if, upon this pretence, I should insist upon liberty of conscience, form
conventicles of republicans, and print books preferring that government
and condemning what is established, the magistrate would, with great
justice, hang me and my disciples. It is the same case in religion,
although not so avowed, where liberty of conscience, under the present
acceptation, equally produces revolutions, or at least convulsions and
disturbances in a state; which politicians would see well enough, if
their eyes were not blinded by faction, and of which these kingdoms, as
well as France, Sweden, and other countries, are flaming instances.
Cromwell's notion upon this article was natural and right; when, upon
the surrender of a town in Ireland, the Popish governor insisted upon an
article for liberty of conscience, Cromwell said, he meddled with no
man's conscience; but, if by liberty of conscience, the governor meant
the liberty of the mass, he had express orders from the Parliament of
England against admitting any such liberty at all.

It is impossible that anything so natural, so necessary, and so
universal as death, should ever have been designed by Providence as an
evil to mankind.

Although reason were intended by Providence to govern our passions, yet
it seems that, in two points of the greatest moment to the being and
continuance of the world, God hath intended our passions to prevail over
reason. The first is, the propagation of our species, since no wise man
ever married from the dictates of reason. The other is, the love of
life, which, from the dictates of reason, every man would despise, and
wish it at an end, or that it never had a beginning.

*****       *****       *****       *****



The Scripture system of man's creation is what Christians are bound to
believe, and seems most agreeable of all others to probability and
reason. Adam was formed from a piece of clay, and Eve from one of his
ribs. The text mentioneth nothing of his Maker's intending him for,
except to rule over the beasts of the field and birds of the air. As to
Eve, it doth not appear that her husband was her monarch, only she was
to be his help meet, and placed in some degree of subjection. However,
before his fall, the beasts were his most obedient subjects, whom he
governed by absolute power. After his eating the forbidden fruit, the
course of nature was changed, the animals began to reject his
government; some were able to escape by flight, and others were too
fierce to be attacked. The Scripture mentioneth no particular acts of
royalty in Adam over his posterity, who were cotemporary with him, or of
any monarch until after the flood; whereof the first was Nimrod, the
mighty hunter, who, as Milton expresseth it, made men, and not beasts,
his prey. For men were easier caught by promises, and subdued by the
folly or treachery of their own species. Whereas the brutes prevailed
only by their courage or strength, which, among them, are peculiar to
certain kinds. Lions, bears, elephants, and some other animals are
strong or valiant, and their species never degenerates in their native
soil, except they happen to be enslaved or destroyed by human fraud: But
men degenerate every day, merely by the folly, the perverseness, the
avarice, the tyranny, the pride, the treachery, or inhumanity of their
own kind.




[Footnote 1: "Dr. Swift, after his return to Ireland in the beginning of
October [1727], having visited her [Stella] frequently during her
sickness, not only as a friend, but a clergyman; he used the following
prayers on that occasion; which are here printed from his own
handwriting." [Note in volume viii. of Swift's Works, Dublin, 1746.]]



Almighty and most gracious Lord God, extend, we beseech Thee, Thy pity
and compassion towards this Thy languishing servant: Teach her to place
her hope and confidence entirely in Thee; give her a true sense of the
emptiness and vanity of all earthly things; make her truly sensible of
all the infirmities of her life past, and grant to her such a true
sincere repentance as is not to be repented of. Preserve her, O Lord, in
a sound mind and understanding, during this Thy visitation: Keep her
from both the sad extremes of presumption and despair. If Thou shalt
please to restore her to her former health, give her grace to be ever
mindful of that mercy, and to keep those good resolutions she now makes
in her sickness, so that no length of time, nor prosperity, may entice
her to forget them. Let no thought of her misfortunes distract her mind,
and prevent the means towards her recovery, or disturb her in her
preparations for a better life. We beseech Thee also, O Lord, of Thy
infinite goodness to remember the good actions of this Thy servant; that
the naked she hath clothed, the hungry she hath fed, the sick and the
fatherless whom she hath relieved, may be reckoned according to Thy
gracious promise, as if they had been done unto Thee. Hearken, O Lord,
to the prayers offered up by the friends of this Thy servant in her
behalf, and especially those now made by us unto Thee. Give Thy blessing
to those endeavours used for her recovery; but take from her all violent
desire, either of life or death, further than with resignation to Thy
holy will. And now, O Lord, we implore Thy gracious favour towards us
here met together; grant that the sense of this Thy servant's weakness
may add strength to our faith, that we, considering the infirmities of
our nature, and the uncertainty of life, may, by this example, be drawn
to repentance before it shall please Thee to visit us in the like
manner. Accept these prayers, we beseech Thee, for the sake of Thy dear
Son Jesus Christ, our Lord; who, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth
and reigneth ever one God world without end. Amen.


WRITTEN OCT. 17, 1727.

Most merciful Father, accept our humblest prayers in behalf of this Thy
languishing servant: Forgive the sins, the frailties, and infirmities of
her life past. Accept the good deeds she hath done, in such a manner,
that at whatever time Thou shalt please to call her, she may be received
into everlasting habitations. Give her grace to continue sincerely
thankful to Thee for the many favours Thou hast bestowed upon her; The
ability and inclination and practice to do good, and those virtues,
which have procured the esteem and love of her friends, and a most
unspotted name in the world. O God, Thou dispensest Thy blessings and
Thy punishments, as it becometh infinite justice and mercy; and since it
was Thy pleasure to afflict her with a long, constant, weakly state of
health, make her truly sensible, that it was for very wise ends, and was
largely made up to her in other blessings, more valuable and less
common. Continue to her, O Lord, that firmness and constancy of mind,
where with Thou hast most graciously endowed her, together with that
contempt of worldly things and vanities, that she hath shewn in the
whole conduct of her life. O all-powerful Being, the least motion of
Whose will can create or destroy a world; pity us the mournful friends
of Thy distressed servant, who sink under the weight of her present
condition, and the fear of losing the most valuable of our friends:
Restore her to us, O Lord, if it be Thy gracious will, or inspire us
with constancy and resignation, to support ourselves under so heavy an
affliction. Restore her, O Lord, for the sake of those poor, who by
losing her will be desolate, and those sick, who will not only want her
bounty, but her care and tending: Or else, in Thy mercy, raise up some
other in her place with equal disposition and better abilities. Lessen,
O Lord, we beseech Thee, her bodily pains, or give her a double strength
of mind to support them. And if Thou wilt soon take her to Thyself, turn
our thoughts rather upon that felicity, which we hope she shall enjoy,
than upon that unspeakable loss we shall endure. Let her memory be ever
dear unto us; and the example of her many virtues, as far as human
infirmity will admit, our constant imitation. Accept, O Lord, these
prayers poured from the very bottom of our hearts, in Thy mercy, and for
the merits of our blessed Saviour. Amen.


WRITTEN Nov. 6, 1727.

O Merciful Father, Who never afflictest Thy children, but for their own
good, and with justice, over which Thy mercy always prevaileth, either
to turn them to repentance, or to punish them in the present life, in
order to reward them in a better; take pity, we beseech Thee, upon this
Thy poor afflicted servant, languishing so long and so grievously under
the weight of Thy hand. Give her strength, O Lord, to support her
weakness; and patience to endure her pains, without repining at Thy
correction. Forgive every rash and inconsiderate expression which her
anguish may at any time force from her tongue, while her heart
continueth in an entire submission to Thy will. Suppress in her, O Lord,
all eager desires of life, and lessen her fears of death, by inspiring
into her an humble, yet assured, hope of Thy mercy. Give her a sincere
repentance for all her transgressions and omissions, and a firm
resolution to pass the remainder of her life in endeavouring to her
utmost to observe all Thy precepts. We beseech Thee likewise to compose
her thoughts; and preserve to her the use of her memory and reason
during the course of her sickness. Give her a true conception of the
vanity, folly, and insignificancy of all human things; and strengthen
her so as to beget in her a sincere love of Thee in the midst of her
sufferings. Accept and impute all her good deeds, and forgive her all
those offences against Thee, which she hath sincerely repented of, or
through the frailty of memory hath forgot. And now, O Lord, we turn to
Thee in behalf of ourselves, and the rest of her sorrowful friends. Let
not our grief afflict her mind, and thereby have an ill effect on her
present distempers. Forgive the sorrow and weakness of those among us,
who sink under the grief and terror of losing so dear and useful a
friend. Accept and pardon our most earnest prayers and wishes for her
longer continuance in this evil world, to do what Thou art pleased to
call Thy service, and is only her bounden duty; that she may be still a
comfort to us, and to all others who will want the benefit of her
conversation, her advice, her good offices, or her charity. And since
Thou hast promised, that where two or three are gathered together in Thy
name, Thou wilt be in the midst of them, to grant their request; O
gracious Lord, grant to us who are here met in Thy name, that those
requests, which in the utmost sincerity and earnestness of our hearts we
have now made in behalf of this Thy distressed servant, and of
ourselves, may effectually be answered; through the merits of Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.



OH! Almighty God, the searcher of all hearts, and from whom no secrets
are hid, who hast declared that all such as shall draw nigh to thee with
their lips, when their hearts are far from thee, are an abomination unto
thee; cleanse, we beseech thee, the thoughts of our hearts, by the
inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that no wandering, vain, nor idle
thoughts may put out of our minds that reverence and godly fear, that
becomes all those who come in thy presence.

We know, O Lord, that while we are in these bodies, we are absent from
the Lord, for no man can see thy face and live. The only way that we can
draw near unto thee in this life, is by prayer; but, O Lord, we know not
how to pray, nor what to ask for as we ought. We cannot pretend by our
supplications or prayers to turn or change thee, for thou art the same
yesterday, to-day, and for ever; but the coming into thy presence, the
drawing near unto thee, is the only means to be changed ourselves, to
become like thee in holiness and purity, to be followers of thee as thy
dear children. O, therefore, turn not away thy face from us, but let us
see so much of the excellencies of thy divine nature, of thy goodness,
and justice, and mercy, and forbearance, and holiness, and purity, as
may make us hate everything in ourselves that is unlike to thee, that so
we may abhor and repent of and forsake those sins that we so often fall
into when we forget thee. Lord! We acknowledge and confess we have lived
in a course of sin, and folly, and vanity, from our youth up, forgetting
our latter end, and our great account that we must one day make, and
turning a deaf ear to thy many calls to us, either by thy holy word, by
our teachers, or by our own consciences; and even thy more severe
messages by afflictions, sicknesses, crosses, and disappointments, have
not been of force enough to turn us from the vanity and folly of our own
ways. What then can we expect in justice, when thou shalt enter into
judgment with us, but to have our portion with the hypocrites and
unbelievers? to depart for ever from the presence of the Lord; to be
turned into hell with those that forget God! But, O God, most holy! O
God, most mighty! O holy and most merciful Saviour, deliver us not into
the bitter pains of eternal death, but have mercy upon us, most merciful
Father, and forgive us our sins for thy name's sake; for thou hast
declared thyself to be a God slow to anger, full of goodness,
forbearance, and long-suffering, and forgiving iniquity, transgression,
and sin. O Lord, therefore, shew thy mercy upon us. O let it be in
pardoning our sins past, and in changing our natures, in giving us a new
heart, and a new spirit, that we may lead a new life, and walk before
thee in newness of life, that so sin may not have dominion over us for
the time to come. O let thy good Spirit, without which we can do
nothing, O let that work in us both to will and do such things as may be
well pleasing to thee. O let it change our thoughts and minds, and take
them off the vain pleasures of this world, and place them there where
only the true joys are to be found. O fill our minds every day more and
more with the happiness of that blessed state of living for ever with
thee, that we may make it our great work and business to work out our
salvation,--to improve in the knowledge of thee, whom to know is life
eternal. But, Lord, since we cannot know thee but by often drawing near
unto thee, and coming into thy presence, which in this life, we can do
only by prayer, O make us, therefore, ever sensible of these great
benefits of prayer, that we may rejoice at all opportunities of coming
into thy presence, and may ever find ourselves the better and more
heavenly minded by it, and may never wilfully neglect any opportunity of
thy worship and service. Awaken thoroughly in us a serious sense of
these things, that so to-day, while it is called to-day, we may see and
know the things that belong to our peace, before they be hid from our
eyes, before that long night cometh when no man can work. O that every
night may so effectually put us in mind of our last, that we may every
day take care so to live, as we shall then wish we had lived when we
come to die; that so when that night shall come, we may as willingly put
off these bodies, as we now put off our clothes, and may rejoice to rest
from our labours, and that our war with the world, the devil, and our
own corrupt nature, is at an end. In the meanwhile, we beseech thee to
take us, and ours, and all that belongs to us, into thy fatherly care
this night. Let thy holy angels be our guard, while we are not in a
condition to defend ourselves, that we may not be under the power of
devils or wicked men; and preserve us also, O Lord, from every evil
accident, that, after a comfortable and refreshing sleep, we may find
ourselves, and all that belongs to us, in peace and safety. And now, O
Lord, being ourselves still in the body, and compassed about with
infirmities, we can neither be ignorant nor unmindful of the sufferings
of our fellow-creatures. O Lord, we must acknowledge, that they are all
but the effects of sin; and, therefore, we beseech thee so to sanctify
their several chastisements to them, that at length they may bring forth
the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and then be thou graciously
pleased to remove thy heavy and afflicting hand from them. And O that
the rest of mankind, who are not under such trials, may, by thy
goodness, be led to repentance, that the consciences of hard-hearted
sinners may be awakened, and the understandings of poor ignorant
creatures enlightened, and that all that love and fear thee may ever
find the joy and comfort of a good conscience, beyond all the
satisfactions that this world can afford. And now, blessed Lord, from
whom every good gift comes, it is meet, right, and our bounden duty,
that we should offer up unto thee our thanks and praise for all thy
goodness towards us, for preserving peace in our land, the light of thy
Gospel, and the true religion in our churches; for giving us the fruits
of the earth in due season, and preserving us from the plague and
sickness that rages in other lands. We bless thee for that support and
maintenance, which thou art pleased to afford us, and that thou givest
us a heart to be sensible of this thy goodness, and to return our thanks
at this time for the same; and as to our persons, for that measure of
health that any of us do enjoy, which is more than any of us do deserve.
We bless thee, more particularly, for thy protection over us the day
past; that thy good spirit has kept us from falling into even the
greatest sins, which, by our wicked and corrupt nature, we should
greedily have been hurried into; and that, by the guard of thy holy
angels, we have been kept safe from any of those evils that might have
befallen us, and which many are now groaning under, who rose up in the
morning in safety and peace as well as we. But above all, for that great
mercy of contriving and effecting our redemption, by the death of our
Saviour Jesus Christ, whom, of thy great love to mankind, thou didst
send into this world, to take upon him our flesh, to teach us thy will,
and to bear the guilt of our transgressions, to die for our sins, and to
rise again for our justification; and for enabling us to lay hold of
that salvation, by the gracious assistances of thy Holy Spirit. Lord,
grant that the sense of this wonderful love of thine to us, may
effectually encourage us to walk in thy fear, and live to thy glory,
that so when we shall put off this mortal state, we may be made
partakers of that glory that shall then be revealed, which we beg of
thee, for the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ, who died to procure it for
us, and in whose name and words we do offer up the desires of our souls
unto thee, saying,

"Our Father," &c.




[Footnote 1: Written by the Dean in the beginning of the book, on one of
the blank leaves. [Note in vol. ix. 1775 edition of Swift's Works.]]

This book, by some errors and neglects in the style, seems not to have
received the author's[2] last correction. It is written with some
vehemence, very pardonable in one who had been an observer and a
sufferer, in England, under that diabolical fanatic sect which then
destroyed Church and State. But, by comparing in my memory what I have
read in other histories, he neither aggravates nor falsifies any facts.
His partiality appears chiefly in setting the actions of the Calvinists
in the strongest light, without equally dwelling on those of the other
side; which, however, to say the truth, was not his proper business. And
yet he might have spent some more words on the inhuman massacre of Paris
and other parts of France, which no provocation (and yet the King had
the greatest possible) could excuse, or much extenuate. The author,
according to the current opinion of the age he lived in, had too high
notions of regal power; led by the common mistake of the term Supreme
Magistrate, and not rightly distinguishing between the legislature and
administration: into which mistake the clergy fell, or continued, in the
reign of Charles II., as I have shewn and explained in a treatise, &c.
J. SWIFT. March 6, 1727-8.

[Footnote 2: Peter Heylin, D.D. (1600-1662) was born at Burford,
Oxfordshire. Educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, and became in
succession, chaplain to Charles I., rector of Hemmingford, rector of
Islip, and a prebendary of Westminster. He wrote the weekly paper,
"Mercurius Auhcus," and lost his estates during the Civil War. He was
reinstated at the Restoration into all his preferments. His works are
voluminous, consisting of a "Cosmography," "A Help to English History,"
a "Life of Charles I.," a "History of the Reformation," a "History of
Presbyterians," a "Life of Archbishop Laud," and a few theological
works. The work on the Presbyterians, here referred to by Swift, was
published in 1670. [T.S.]]

       *       *       *       *       *


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