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Title: The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D. — Volume 06 - The Drapier's Letters
Author: Swift, Jonathan, 1667-1745
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D. — Volume 06 - The Drapier's Letters" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Produced from images provided by the Million Book Project.

_To be completed in 12 volumes, 3s. 6d. each_.






Edited by TEMPLE SCOTT. With a biographical introduction by
W.E.H. LECKY, M.P. With Portrait and Facsimiles.

With two Portraits of Stella and a Facsimile of one of the Letters.

With Portraits and Facsimiles of Title-pages.

With Portrait and Facsimiles of Title-pages.

With Portrait, Reproductions of Wood's Coinage,
and Facsimiles of Title pages.

With Portrait, Maps and Facsimiles.

With Portrait.

With Portrait.

_To be followed by:_




       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *




[Illustration: Jonathan Swift from a painting in the National Gallery
of Ireland once in the possession of judge Berwick and ascribed to
Francis Bindon]













In 1714 Swift left England for Ireland, disappointed, distressed, and
worn out with anxiety in the service of the Harley Ministry. On his
installation as Dean of St. Patrick's he had been received in Dublin
with jeering and derision. He had even been mocked at in his walks
abroad. In 1720, however, he entered for the second time the field of
active political polemics, and began with renewed energy the series of
writings which not only placed him at the head and front of the
political writers of the day, but secured for him a place in the
affections of the people of Ireland--a place which has been kept sacred
to him even to the present time. A visitor to the city of Dublin
desirous of finding his way to St. Patrick's Cathedral need but to ask
for the Dean's Church, and he will be understood. There is only one
Dean, and he wrote the "Drapier's Letters." The joy of the people of
Dublin on the withdrawal of Wood's Patent found such permanent
expression, that it has descended as oral tradition, and what was
omitted from the records of Parliament and the proceedings of Clubs and
Associations founded in the Drapier's honour, has been embalmed in the
hearts of the people, whose love he won, and whose homage it was ever
his pride to accept.

The spirit of Swift which Grattan invoked had, even in Grattan's time,
power to stir hearts to patriotic enthusiasm. That spirit has not died
out yet, and the Irish people still find it seasonable and refreshing to
be awakened by it to a true sense of the dignity and majesty of
Ireland's place in the British Empire.

A dispassionate student of the condition of Ireland between the years
of Swift's birth and death--between, say, 1667 and 1745--could rise from
that study in no unprejudiced mood. It would be difficult for him to
avoid the conclusion that the government of Ireland by England had not
only degraded the people of the vassal nation, but had proved a disgrace
and a stigma on the ruling nation. It was a government of the masses by
the classes, for no other than selfish ends. It ended, as all such
governments must inevitably end, in impoverishing the people, in
wholesale emigration, in starvation and even death, in revolt, and in
fostering among those who remained, and among those whom circumstances
exiled, the dangerous spirit of resentment and rebellion which is the
outcome of the sense of injustice. It has also served, even to this day,
to give vitality to those associations that have from time to time
arisen in Ireland for the object of realizing that country's

It may be argued that the people of Ireland of that time justified
Swift's petition when he prayed to be removed from "this land of slaves,
where all are fools and all are knaves"; but that is no justification
for the injustice. The injustice from which Ireland suffered was a fact.
Its existence was resented with all the indignation with which an
emotional and spiritual people will always resent material obstructions
to the free play of what they feel to be their best powers.

There were no leaders at the time who could see this, and seeing it,
enforce its truth on the dull English mind to move it to saner methods
of dealing with this people. Nor were there any who could order the
resentment into battalions of fighting men to give point to the demands
for equal rights with their English fellow-subjects.

Had Swift been an Irishman by nature as he was by birth, it might have
been otherwise; but Swift was an Irishman by accident, and only became
an Irish patriot by reason of the humanity in him which found indignant
and permanent expression against oppression. Swift's indignation
against the selfish hypocrisy of his fellow-men was the cry from the
pain which the sight of man's inhumanity to man inflicted on his
sensitive and truth-loving nature. The folly and baseness of his
fellow-creatures stung him, as he once wrote to Pope, "to perfect rage
and resentment." Turn where he would, he found either the knave as the
slave driver, or the slave as a fool, and the latter became even a
willing sacrifice. His indignation at the one was hardly greater than
his contempt for the other, and his different feelings found trenchant
expression in such writings as the "Drapier's Letters," the "Modest
Proposal," and "Gulliver's Travels."

It has been argued that the _saeva indignatio_ which lacerated his heart
was the passion of a mad man. To argue thus seems to us to misunderstand
entirely the peculiar qualities of Swift's nature. It was not the mad
man that made the passion; it was rather the passion that made the man
mad. As we understand him, it seems to us that Swift's was an eminently
majestic spirit, moved by the tenderest of human sympathies, and capable
of ennobling love--a creature born to rule and to command, but with all
the noble qualities which go to make a ruler loved. It happened that
circumstances placed him early in his career into poverty and servitude.
He extricated himself from both in time; but his liberation was due to
an assertion of his best powers, and not to a dissimulation of them. Had
he been less honest, he might have risen to a position of great power,
but it would have been at the price of those very qualities which made
him the great man he was. That assertion cost him his natural vocation,
and Swift lived on to rage in the narrow confines of a Dublin Deanery
House. He might have flourished as the greatest of English statesmen--he
became instead a monster, a master-scourger of men, pitiless to them as
they had been blind to him. But monster and master-scourger as he proved
himself, he always took the side of the oppressed as against the
oppressor. The impulse which sent him abroad collecting guineas for
"poor Harrison" was the same impulse which moved him in his study at the
Deanery to write as "M.B. Drapier." On this latter occasion, however, he
also had an opportunity to lay bare the secret springs of oppression, an
opportunity which he was not the man to let go by.

No doubt Swift was not quite disinterested in the motives which prompted
him to enter the political arena for the second time. He hated the
Walpole Ministry in power; he resented his exile in a country whose
people he despised; and he scorned the men who, while they feared him,
had yet had the power to prevent his advancement. But, allowing for
these personal incentives, there was in Swift such a large sympathy for
the degraded condition of the Irish people, such a tender solicitude for
their best welfare, and such a deep-seated zeal for their betterment,
that, in measuring to him his share in the title of patriot, we cannot
but admit that what we may call his public spirit far outweighed his
private spleen. Above all things Swift loved liberty, integrity,
sincerity and justice; and if it be that it was his love for these,
rather than his love for the country, which inspired him to patriotic
efforts, who shall say that he does not still deserve well of us. If a
patriot be a man who nobly teaches a people to become aware of its
highest functions as a nation, then was Swift a great patriot, and he
better deserves that title than many who have been accorded it.

The matter of Wood's Halfpence was a trivial one in itself; but it was
just that kind of a matter which Swift must instantly have appreciated
as the happiest for his purpose. It was a matter which appealed to the
commonest news-boy on the street, and its meaning once made plain, the
principle which gave vitality to the meaning was ready for enunciation
and was assured of intelligent acceptance. In writing the "Drapier's
Letters," he had, to use his own words, seasonably raised a spirit
among the Irish people, and that spirit he continued to refresh, until
when he told them in his Fourth Letter, "by the Laws of God, of Nature,
of Nations, and of your Country, you are, and ought to be, as free a
people as your brethren in England," the country rose as one man to the
appeal. Neither the suavities of Carteret nor the intrigues of Walpole
had any chance against the set opposition which met them. The question
to be settled was taken away from the consideration of ministers, and
out of the seclusion of Cabinets into the hands of the People, and
before the public eye. There was but one way in which it could be
settled--the way of the people's will--and it went that way. It does not
at all matter that Walpole finally had his way--that the King's mistress
pocketed her _douceur_, and that Wood retired satisfied with the ample
compensation allowed him. What does matter is that, for the first time
in Irish History, a spirit of national life was breathed into an almost
denationalized people. Beneath the lean and starved ribs of death Swift
planted a soul; it is for this that Irishmen will ever revere his

In the composition of the "Letters" Swift had set himself a task
peculiarly fitting to his genius. Those qualities of mind which enabled
him to enter into the habits of the lives of footmen, servants, and
lackeys found an even more congenial freedom of play here. His knowledge
of human nature was so profound that he instinctively touched the right
keys, playing on the passions of the common people with a deftness far
surpassing in effect the acquired skill of the mere master of oratory.
He ordered his arguments and framed their language, so that his readers
responded with almost passionate enthusiasm to the call he made upon
them. Allied to his gift of intellectual sympathy with his kind was a
consummate ability in expression, into which he imparted the fullest
value of the intended meaning. His thought lost nothing in its
statement. Writing as he did from the point of view of a tradesman, to
the shopkeepers, farmers, and common people of Ireland, his business was
to speak with them as if he were one of them. He had already laid bare
their grievances caused by the selfish legislation of the English
Parliament, which had ruined Irish manufactures; he had written grimly
of the iniquitous laws which had destroyed the woollen trade of the
country; he had not forgotten the condition of the people as he saw it
on his journeys from Dublin to Cork--a condition which he was later to
reveal in the most terrible of his satirical tracts--and he realized
with almost personal anguish the degradation of the people brought about
by the rapacity and selfishness of a class which governed with no
thought of ultimate consequences, and with no apparent understanding of
what justice implied. It was left for him to precipitate his private
opinion and public spirit in such form as would arouse the nation to a
sense of self-respect, if not to a pitch of resentment. The "Drapier's
Letters" was the reagent that accomplished both.

       *       *       *       *       *

The editor takes this opportunity to express his thanks and obligations
to Mr. G.R. Dennis, to Mr. W. Spencer Jackson, to the late Colonel F.R.
Grant, to Mr. C. Litton Falkiner of Killiney, and to Mr. O'Donoghue of
Dublin. His acknowledgment is here also made to Mr. Strickland, of the
National Gallery of Ireland, to whose kindness and learning he is
greatly indebted.


NEW YORK, _March_, 1903.
























JONATHAN SWIFT. From a painting in the National Gallery of Ireland,
ascribed to Francis Bindon

HALFPENCE AND FARTHINGS coined by William Wood, 1722 and 1723

[Illustration: _Half-pence & farthings coined by William Wood, 1722 &




About the year 1720 it was generally acknowledged in Ireland that there
was a want there of the small change, necessary in the transaction of
petty dealings with shopkeepers and tradesmen. It has been indignantly
denied by contemporary writers that this small change meant copper
coins. They asserted that there was no lack of copper money, but that
there was a great want of small silver. Be that as it may, the report
that small change was wanting was sufficiently substantiated to the
English government to warrant it to proceed to satisfy the want. In its
dealings with Ireland, however, English governments appear to have
consistently assumed that attitude which would most likely cause
friction and arouse disturbance. In England coins for currency proceeded
from a mint established under government supervision. In Scotland such a
mint was specially provided for in the Act of Union. But in Ireland, the
government acted otherwise.

The Irish people had again and again begged that they should be
permitted to establish a mint in which coins could be issued of the same
standard and intrinsic value as those used in England. English
parliaments, however, invariably disregarded these petitions. Instead of
the mint the King gave grants or patents by which a private individual
obtained the right to mint coins for the use of the inhabitants. The
right was most often given for a handsome consideration, and held for a
term of years. In 1660 Charles II. granted such a patent to Sir Thomas
Armstrong, permitting him to coin farthings for twenty years. It
appears, however, that Armstrong never actually coined the farthings,
although he had gone to the expense of establishing a costly plant for
the purpose.

Small copper coins becoming scarce, several individuals, without
permission, issued tokens; but the practice was stopped. In 1680 Sir
William Armstrong, son of Sir Thomas, with Colonel George Legg
(afterwards Lord Dartmouth), obtained a patent for twenty-one years,
granting them the right to issue copper halfpence. Coins were actually
struck and circulated, but the patent itself was sold to John Knox in
the very year of its issue. Knox, however, had his patent specially
renewed, but his coinage was interrupted when James II. issued his
debased money during the Revolution (see Monck Mason, p. 334, and the
notes on this matter to the Drapier's Third Letter, in present edition).

Knox sold his patent to Colonel Roger Moore, who overstocked the country
with his coins to such an extent that the currency became undervalued.
When, in 1705, Moore endeavoured to obtain a renewal of his patent, his
application was refused. By 1722, owing either to Moore's bad coinage,
or to the importation of debased coins from other countries, the copper
money had degraded considerably. In a pamphlet[1] issued by George
Ewing in Dublin (1724), it is stated that in that year, W. Trench
presented a memorial to the Lords of the Treasury, complaining of the
condition of the copper coinage, and pointing out that the evil results
had been brought about by the system of grants to private individuals.
Notwithstanding this memorial, it was attempted to overcome the
difficulty by a continuance of the old methods. A new patent was issued
to an English iron merchant, William Wood by name, who, according to
Coxe, submitted proposal with many others, for the amelioration of the
grievance. Wood's proposals, say this same authority, were accepted "as
beneficial to Ireland." The letters patent bear the date July 12th,
1722, and were prepared in accordance with the King's instructions to
the Attorney and Solicitor General sent in a letter from Kensington on
June 16th, 1722. The letter commanded "that a bill should be prepared
for his royal signature, containing and importing an indenture, whereof
one part was to pass the Great Seal of Great Britain." This indenture,
notes Monck Mason,[2] between His Majesty of the one part, "and William
Wood, of Wolverhampton, in the County of Stafford, Esq.," of the other,
signifies that His Majesty

"has received information that, in his kingdom of Ireland, there was a
great want of small money for making small payments, and that retailers
and others did suffer by reason of such want."

[Footnote 1: "A Defence of the Conduct of the People of Ireland in their
unanimous refusal of Mr. Wood's Copper Money," pp. 22-23.]

[Footnote 2: "History of St. Patrick's Cathedral," note v, pp. 326-327.]

By virtue, therefore, of his prerogative royal, and in consideration of
the rents, covenants, and agreements therein expressed, His Majesty
granted to William Wood, his executors, assigns, etc., "full, free,
sole, and absolute power, privilege, licence, and authority," during
fourteen years, from the annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, 1722, to
coin halfpence and farthings of copper, to be uttered and disposed of in
Ireland, and not elsewhere. It was provided that the whole quantity
coined should not exceed 360 tons of copper, whereof 100 tons only were
to be coined in the first year, and 20 tons in each of the last
thirteen, said farthings and halfpence to be of good, pure, and
merchantable copper, and of such size and bigness, that one avoirdupois
pound weight of copper should not be converted into more farthings and
halfpence than would make thirty pence by tale; all the said farthings
and halfpence to be of equal weight in themselves, or as near thereunto
as might be, allowing a remedy not exceeding two farthings over or under
in each pound. The same "to pass and to be received as current money, by
such as shall or will, voluntarily and willingly, and not otherwise,
receive the same, within the said kingdom of Ireland, and not
elsewhere." Wood also covenanted to pay to the King's clerk or
comptroller of the coinage, £200 yearly, and £100 per annum into his
Majesty's treasury.

Most of the accounts of this transaction and its consequent agitation
in Ireland, particularly those given by Sir W. Scott and Earl Stanhope,
are taken from Coxe's "Life of Walpole." Monck Mason, however, in his
various notes appended to his life of Swift, has once and for all placed
Coxe's narrative in its true light, and exposed the specious special
pleading on behalf of his hero, Walpole. But even Coxe cannot hide the
fact that the granting of the patent and the circumstances under which
it was granted, amounted to a disgraceful job, by which an opportunity
was seized to benefit a "noble person" in England at the expense of
Ireland. The patent was really granted to the King's mistress, the
Duchess of Kendal, who sold it to William Wood for the sum of £10,000,
and (as it was reported with, probably, much truth) for a share in the
profits of the coining. The job was alluded to by Swift when he wrote:

"When late a feminine magician,
Join'd with a brazen politician,
Expos'd, to blind a nation's eyes,
A parchment of prodigious size."

Coxe endeavors to exonerate Walpole from the disgrace attached to this
business, by expatiating on Carteret's opposition to Walpole, an
opposition which went so far as to attempt to injure the financial
minister's reputation by fomenting jealousies and using the Wood patent
agitation to arouse against him the popular indignation; but this does
not explain away the fact itself. He lays some blame for the agitation
on Wood's indiscretion in flaunting his rights and publicly boasting of
what the great minister would do for him. At the same time he takes care
to censure the government for its misconduct in not consulting with the
Lord Lieutenant and his Privy Council before granting the patent. His
censure, however, is founded on the consideration that this want of
attention was injudicious and was the cause of the spread of exaggerated
rumours of the patent's evil tendency. He has nothing to say of the
rights and liberties of a people which had thereby been infringed and

The English parliament had rarely shown much consideration for Irish
feelings or Irish rights. Its attitude towards the Irish Houses of
Legislation had been high-handed and even dictatorial; so that
constitutional struggles were not at all infrequent towards the end of
the seventeenth and during the first quarter of the eighteenth century.
The efforts of Sir Constantine Phipps towards a non-parliamentary
government,[3] and the reversal by the English House of Lords of the
decision given by the Irish House of Lords in the famous Annesley case,
had prepared the Irish people for a revolt against any further attempts
to dictate to its properly elected representatives assembled in
parliament. Moreover, the wretched material condition of the people, as
it largely had been brought about by a selfish, persecuting legislation
that practically isolated Ireland commercially in prohibiting the
exportation of its industrial products, was a danger and a menace to the
governing country. The two nations were facing each other threateningly.
When, therefore, Wood began to import his coin, suspicion was
immediately aroused.

[Footnote 3: See Lecky's "History of Ireland," vol. i., p. 446, etc.]

The masses took little notice of it at first; but the commissioners of
revenue in Dublin took action in a letter they addressed to the Right
Hon. Edward Hopkins, secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. This letter,
dated August 7th, 1722, began by expressing surprise at the patent
granted to Mr. Wood, and asked the secretary "to lay before the Lord
Lieutenant a memorial, presented by their agent to the Lords of the
Treasury, concerning this patent, and also a report of some former
Commissioners of the revenue on the like occasion, and to acquaint his
Grace, that they concurred in all the objections in those papers, and
were of opinion, that such a patent would be highly prejudicial to the
trade, and welfare of this kingdom, and more particularly to his
Majesty's revenue, which they had formerly found to have suffered very
much, by too great a quantity of such base coin."[4] No reply was
received to this letter.

[Footnote 4: "A Defence of the Conduct of the People of Ireland," etc.,
p. 6.]

Fears began to be generally felt, and the early murmurs of an agitation
to be heard when, on September 19th, 1722, the Commissioners addressed a
second letter, this time to the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's
Treasury. The letter assured their Lordships "that they had been applied
to by many persons of rank and fortune, and by the merchants and traders
in Ireland, to represent the ill effects of Mr. Wood's patent, and that
they could from former experience assure their Lordships, it would be
particularly detrimental to his Majesty's revenue. They represented that
this matter had made a great noise here, and that there did not appear
the _least want of such small species of coin for change_, and hoped
that the importance of the occasion would excuse their making this
representation of a matter that had not been referred to them."[5]

[Footnote 5: _Ibid_, pp. 6-7.]

To this letter also no reply was vouchsafed. In the meantime, Wood kept
sending in his coins, landing them at most of the ports of the kingdom.

"Then everyone that was not interested in the success of this coinage,"
writes the author of the pamphlet already quoted, "by having contracted
for a great quantity of his halfpence at a large discount, or biassed by
the hopes of immoderate gain to be made out of the ruins of their
country, expressed their apprehensions of the pernicious consequences of
this copper money; and resolved to make use of the _right they had by
law to refuse the same_".[6]

[Footnote 6: _Ibid_, p. 7.]

The Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Grafton, had arrived in August, 1723,
and parliament sat early in September. Its first attention was paid to
the Wood patent. After the early excitement had subsided, they resolved
to appeal to the King. During the early stages of the discussion,
however, the Commons addressed the Lord Lieutenant, asking that a copy
of the patent and other papers relating to it, be laid before them. This
was on September 13th. On the following day Mr. Hopkins informed the
House that the Lord Lieutenant had no such copy, nor any papers. The
House then unanimously resolved to inquire into the matter on its own
account, and issued orders for several persons to appear before it to
give evidence, fixing the day for examination for September 16th. On
that day, however, Mr. Hopkins appeared before the members with a copy
of the patent, and informed them that the Lord Lieutenant had received
it since his last communication with them. This incident served but to
arouse further ridicule. A broadside, published at the time with the
title "A Creed of an Irish Commoner," amusingly reveals the lameness of
the excuse for this non-production of the exemplification. Coxe says
that the cause for the delay was due to the fact that the copy of the
patent had been delivered to the Lord Lieutenant's servant, instead of
to his private secretary; but this excuse is probably no more happily
founded than the one offered.

On Friday, September 20th, the House resolved itself into a committee
"to take into consideration the state of the nation, particularly in
relation to the importing and uttering of copper halfpence and farthings
in this kingdom." After three days' debate, and after examining
competent witnesses under oath, it passed resolutions to the following

(1) That Wood's patent is highly prejudicial to his Majesty's revenue,
and is destructive of trade and commerce, and most dangerous to the
rights and properties of the subject.

(2) That for the purpose of obtaining the patent Wood had notoriously
misrepresented the state of the nation.

(3) That great quantities of the coin had been imported of different
impressions and of much less weight than the patent called for.

(4) That the loss to the nation by the uttering of this coin would
amount to 150 per cent.

(5) That in coining the halfpence Wood was guilty of a notorious fraud.

(6) "That it is the opinion of this Committee, that it hath been always
highly prejudicial to this kingdom to grant the power or privilege of
coining money to private persons; and that it will, at all times, be of
dangerous consequence to grant any such power to any body politic, or
corporate, or any private person or persons whatsoever."[7]

[Footnote 7: "Comm. Journals," vol. iii., pp. 317-325.]

Addresses to his Majesty in conformity with these resolutions were voted
on September 27th.

The House of Lords passed similar resolutions on September 26th, and
voted addresses embodying them on September 28th.[8]

[Footnote 8: "Lords' Journals," vol. ii., pp. 745-751.]

These Addresses received a better attention than did the letters from
the revenue commissioners. The Houses were courteously informed that
their communications would receive His Majesty's careful consideration.
Walpole kept his promise, but not before he had fought hard to maintain
the English prerogative, as he might have called it. The "secret"
history as narrated in Coxe's lively manner, throws some light on the
situation. Coxe really finds his hero's conduct not marked with "his
usual caution." The Lord Lieutenant was permitted to go to Ireland
without proper instructions; the information on which Walpole acted was
not reliable; and he did not sufficiently appreciate the influence of
Chancellor Midleton and his family. "He bitterly accused Lord Midleton
of treachery and low cunning, of having made, in his speeches,
distinction between the King and his ministers, of caballing with
Carteret, Cadogan, and Roxburgh, and of pursuing that line of conduct,
because he was of opinion the opposite party would gain the ascendency
in the cabinet. He did not believe the disturbances to be so serious as
they were represented, nor was he satisfied with the Duke of Grafton's
conduct, as being solely directed by Conolly, but declared that the part
acted by Conolly, almost excused what the Brodricks had done." Carteret
complained to the King and proved to him that Walpole's policy was a
dangerous one. The King became irritated and Walpole "ashamed." He even
became "uneasy," and it is to be supposed, took a more "cautious"
course; for he managed to conciliate the Brodricks and the powers in
Dublin. But the devil was not ill long. The cabinet crisis resulted in
the triumph of Townshend and Walpole, and the devil got well again.
Carteret must be removed and the patent promoted. But Midleton and the
Brodricks must be kept friendly. So Carteret went to Ireland as Lord
Lieutenant, Midleton remained Chancellor, and constituted a lord
justice, and St. John Brodrick was nominated a member of the Privy
Council. Still farther on his "cautious" way, Ireland must be given some
consideration; hence the Committee of the Privy Council, specially
called to inquire into the grievances complained of by the Irish Houses
of Parliament in their loyal addresses.

The Committee sat for several weeks, and the report it issued forms the
subject of Swift's animadversions in the Drapier's third letter. But the
time spent by the Committee in London was being utilized in quite a
different fashion by Swift in Ireland. "Cautious" as was Walpole, he had
not reckoned with the champion of his political opponents of Queen
Anne's days. Swift had little humour for court intrigues and cabinet
cabals. He came out into the open to fight the good fight of the people
to whom courts and cabinets should be servants and not self-seeking
masters. Whatever doubts the people of Ireland may have had about the
legal validity of their resentment towards Wood and his coins, were
quickly dissipated when they read "A Letter to the Shop Keepers,
Tradesmen, Farmers, and Common People of Ireland, concerning the Brass
Half-pence coined by Mr. Wood," and signed, "M.B. Drapier." The letter,
as Lord Orrery remarked, acted like the sound of a trumpet. At that
sound "a spirit arose among the people, that in the eastern phrase, was
_like unto a trumpet in the day of the whirlwind_. Every person of every
rank, party, and denomination was convinced, that the admission of
Wood's copper must prove fatal to the Commonwealth. The papist, the
fanatic, the Tory, the Whig, all listed themselves volunteers under the
banners of M.B. Drapier, and were all equally zealous to serve the
Common cause."

The present text of the first of the Drapier's letters is based on that
given by Sir W. Scott, carefully collated with two copies of the first
edition which differed from each other in many particulars. One belonged
to the late Colonel F. Grant, and the other is in the British Museum. It
has also been read with the collection of the Drapier's Letters issued
by the Drapier Club in 1725, with the title, "Fraud Detected"; with the
London edition of "The Hibernian Patriot" (1730), and with Faulkner's
text issued in his collected edition of Swift's Works in 1735.


                TO THE
_Shop-Keepers_, _Tradesmen_, _Farmers_
  and _Common-People_ of

            Concerning the
          *Brass Half-pence*
              Coined by

            **Mr. Woods,**

A _Design_ to have them _Pass_ in this

Wherein is shewn the Power of the said PATENT,
  the Value of the HALF-PENCE, and
  how far every Person may be oblig'd to take the
  same in Payments, and how to behave in Case
  such an Attempt shou'd be made by WOODS
  or any other Person.

[Very Proper to be kept in every FAMILY.]

        By M.B. _Drapier_.

DUBLIN: Printed by _J. Harding_
  in _Molesworth's-Court_.




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

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

About three[9] years ago, a little book was written, to advise all
people to wear the manufactures of this our own dear country:[10] It had
no other design, said nothing against the King or Parliament, or any
man, yet the POOR PRINTER was prosecuted two years, with the utmost
violence, and even some WEAVERS themselves, for whose sake it was
written, being upon the JURY, FOUND HIM GUILTY. This would be enough to
discourage any man from endeavouring to do you good, when you will
either neglect him or fly in his face for his pains, and when he must
expect only danger to himself and loss of money, perhaps to his

[Footnote 9: In his reprint of the Drapier's Letters, issued in 1725
with the title, "Fraud Detected; or the Hibernian Patriot," Faulkner
prints "four" instead of "three"; but this, of course, is a correction
made to agree with the date of the publication of this reprint. The
"Proposal" was published in 1720. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 10: The "little book" was "A Proposal for the Universal Use of
Irish Manufactures." See vol. vii. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 11: Instead of the words "loss of money," Faulkner in the
reprint of 1725 has "to be fined and imprisoned." [T.S.]]

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

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

The fact is thus: It having been many years since COPPER HALFPENCE OR
FARTHINGS were last coined in this kingdom, they have been for some time
very scarce,[12] and many counterfeits passed about under the name of
_raps_, several applications were made to England, that we might have
liberty to coin new ones, as in former times we did; but they did not
succeed. At last one Mr. Wood,[13] a mean ordinary man, a hardware
dealer, procured a patent[14]under his Majesty's broad seal to coin
fourscore and ten thousand pounds[15] in copper for this kingdom, which
patent however did not oblige any one here to take them, unless they
pleased. Now you must know, that the halfpence and farthings in England
pass for very little more than they are worth. And if you should beat
them to pieces, and sell them to the brazier you would not lose above a
penny in a shilling. But Mr. Wood made his halfpence of such base metal,
and so much smaller than the English ones, that the brazier would not
give you above a penny of good money for a shilling of his; so that this
sum of fourscore and ten thousand pounds in good gold and silver, must
be given for trash that will not be worth above eight or nine thousand
pounds real value. But this is not the worst, for Mr. Wood when he
pleases may by stealth send over another and another fourscore and ten
thousand pounds, and buy all our goods for eleven parts in twelve, under
the value. For example, if a hatter sells a dozen of hats for five
shillings a-piece, which amounts to three pounds, and receives the
payment in Mr. Wood's coin, he really receives only the value of five

[Footnote 12: They had become scarce because they had been undervalued,
and therefore sent out of the country in payment of goods bought. See
Prior's "Observations on Coin," issued in 1729, where it is stated that
this scarcity had occurred only within the last twenty years. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 13: William Wood (1671-1730) was an ironmaster of
Wolverhampton. In addition to the patent for coining copper halfpence
which he obtained for Ireland, and to which full reference is made in
the introductory note to this first Drapier's Letter, Wood also obtained
a patent, in 1722, for coining halfpence, pence and twopence for the
English colonies in America. This latter patent fared no better than the
Irish one. The coins introduced in America bear the dates 1722 and 1723,
and are now much sought after by collectors. They are known as the Rosa
American coinage. A list of the poems and pamphlets on Wood, during the
excitement in Dublin, attending on the Drapier's Letters, will be found
in the bibliography of Swift's works to be given in vol. xi. of this
edition. See also Monck Mason's "History of St. Patrick's Cathedral." In
the original edition of the Letter, Wood's name is mis-spelt Woods. [T.

[Footnote 14: See the introductory note for the manner in which this
patent was obtained. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 15: This is how the amount is named in the first edition; but
the amount in reality was £100,800 (the value of 360 tons of copper, as
stated by the patent). Sir W. Scott prints this as £108,000. Coxe, in
his "Memoirs of Sir Robert Walpole" gives the amount as £100,000. Lecky
states it as £108,000. [T.S.]]

Perhaps you will wonder how such an ordinary fellow as this Mr. Wood
could have so much interest as to get His Majesty's broad seal for so
great a sum of bad money, to be sent to this poor country, and that all
the nobility and gentry here could not obtain the same favour, and let
us make our own halfpence, as we used to do. Now I will make that matter
very plain. We are at a great distance from the King's court, and have
nobody there to solicit for us, although a great number of lords and
squires, whose estates are here, and are our countrymen, spending all
their lives and fortunes there. But this same Mr. Wood was able to
attend constantly for his own interest; he is an Englishman and had
great friends, and it seems knew very well where to give money, to
those that would speak to others that could speak to the King and could
tell a fair story. And His Majesty, and perhaps the great lord or lords
who advised him, might think it was for our country's good; and so, as
the lawyers express it, "the King was deceived in his grant," which
often happens in all reigns. And I am sure if His Majesty knew that such
a patent, if it should take effect according to the desire of Mr. Wood,
would utterly ruin this kingdom, which hath given such great proofs of
its loyalty, he would immediately recall it, and perhaps shew his
displeasure to somebody or other. But "a word to the wise is enough."
Most of you must have heard, with what anger our honourable House of
Commons received an account of this Wood's patent.[16] There were
several fine speeches made upon it, and plain proofs that it was all A
WICKED CHEAT from the bottom to the top, and several smart votes were
printed, which that same Wood had the assurance to answer likewise in
print, and in so confident a way, as if he were a better man than our
whole Parliament put together.[17]

[Footnote 16: The Irish House of Commons reported that the loss to the
country, even if the patent were carried out as required, would amount
to about 150 per cent.; and both Irish Houses of Parliament voted
addresses against the coinage, and accused the patentee of fraud and
deceit. They asserted that the terms of the patent had not been
fulfilled and "that the circulation of the halfpence would be highly
prejudicial to the revenue, destructive of the commerce, and of most
dangerous consequences to the rights and properties of the subjects."
See introductory note. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 17: Wood's indiscreet retort was published in the "Flying
Post" October 8th, 1723. Later he boasted that he would, with Walpole's
assistance, "pour the coin down the throats of the people." [T.S.]]

This Wood, as soon as his patent was passed, or soon after, sends over
a great many barrels of these halfpence, to Cork and other sea-port
towns,[18] and to get them off offered an hundred pounds in his coin for
seventy or eighty in silver. But the collectors of the King's customs
very honestly refused to take them, and so did almost everybody else.
And since the Parliament hath condemned them, and desired the King that
they might be stopped, all the kingdom do abominate them.

[Footnote 18: At Dublin, Cork, Waterford and other ports, the merchants
refused to accept the copper coins. Monck Mason notes that "in the
'Dublin Gazette,' No. 2562, we meet with resolutions by the merchants of
Cork, dated the 25th of Aug., 1724, and like resolutions by those of
Waterford, dated 22d Aug. wherein they declare, that, 'they will never
receive or utter in any payment, the halfpence or farthings coined by
William Wood; as they conceive the importing and uttering the same, to
be highly prejudicial to His Majesty's revenue, and to the trade of the
kingdom': these resolutions are declared to be conformable to those of
the Trinity Guild, of merchants, of the city of Dublin, voted at their
guild-hall, on the 18th day of the same month" (Hist. St. Patrick's, p.
346, note r). See also Appendix No. IX. [T.S.]]

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

For suppose you go to an alehouse with that base money, and the landlord
gives you a quart for four of these halfpence, what must the victualler
do? His brewer will not be paid in that coin, or if the brewer should be
such a fool, the farmers will not take it from them for their bere,[19]
because they are bound by their leases to pay their rents in good and
lawful money of England, which this is not, nor of Ireland neither, and
the 'squire their landlord will never be so bewitched to take such trash
for his land, so that it must certainly stop somewhere or other, and
wherever it stops it is the same thing, and we are all undone.

[Footnote 19: Bere = barley. Cf. A.S. _baerlic_, Icelandic, _barr_,
meaning barley, the grain used for making malt for the preparation of
beer. [T.S.]]

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

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

They say 'Squire Conolly[20] has sixteen thousand pounds a year, now if
he sends for his rent to town, as it is likely he does, he must have two
hundred and forty horses to bring up his half-year's rent, and two or
three great cellars in his house for stowage. But what the bankers will
do I cannot tell. For I am assured, that some great bankers keep by them
forty thousand pounds in ready cash to answer all payments, which sum,
in Mr. Wood's money, would require twelve hundred horses to carry it.

[Footnote 20: William Conolly (d. 1729) was chosen Speaker of the Irish
House of Commons on November 12th, 1715. He held this office until
October 12th, 1729. Swift elsewhere says that Wharton sold Conolly the
office of Chief Commissioner of the Irish Revenue for £3,000. Between
the years 1706 and 1729 Conolly was ten times selected for the office of
a Lord Justice of Ireland. The remark in the text as to Conolly's income
is repeated by Boulter ("Letters," vol. i., p. 334), though the Primate
writes of £17,000 a year. The reference to Conolly is of set purpose,
because Conolly had advocated the patent as against Midleton's
condemnation of it. [T.S.]]

For my own part, I am already resolved what to do; I have a pretty good
shop of Irish stuffs and silks, and instead of taking Mr. Wood's bad
copper, I intend to truck with my neighbours the butchers, and bakers,
and brewers, and the rest, goods for goods, and the little gold and
silver I have, I will keep by me like my heart's blood till better
times, or till I am just ready to starve, and then I will buy Mr. Wood's
money as my father did the brass money in K. James's time,[21] who could
buy ten pound of it with a guinea, and I hope to get as much for a
pistole, and so purchase bread from those who will be such fools as to
sell it me.

[Footnote 21: James II., during his unsuccessful campaign in Ireland,
debased the coinage in order to make his funds meet the demands of his
soldiery. Archbishop King, in his work on the "State of the Protestants
in Ireland," describes the evil effects which this proceeding had: "King
James's council used not to stick at the formalities of law or reason,
and therefore vast quantities of brass money were coined, and made
current by a proclamation, dated 18th June, 1689, under severe
penalties. The metal of which this money was made was the worst kind of
brass; old guns, and the refuse of metals were melted down to make it;
workmen rated it at threepence or a groat a pound, which being coined
into sixpences, shillings, or half-crowns, one pound weight made about
£5. And by another proclamation, dated 1690, the half-crowns were called
in, and being stamped anew, were made to pass for crowns; so that then,
three pence or four pence worth of metal made £10. There was coined in
all, from the first setting up of the mint, to the rout at the Boyne,
being about twelve months, £965,375. In this coin King James paid all
his appointments, and all that received the king's pay being generally
papists, they forced the protestants to part with the goods out of their
shops for this money, and to receive their debts in it; so that the loss
by the brass money did, in a manner, entirely fall on the protestants,
being defrauded (for I can call it no better) of about, £60,000 per
month by this stratagem, which must, in a few months, have utterly
exhausted them. When the papists had gotten most of their saleable goods
from their protestant neighbours, and yet great quantities of brass
money remained in their hands, they began to consider how many of them,
who had estates, had engaged them to protestants by judgments, statutes
staple, and mortgages; and to take this likewise from them they procured
a proclamation, dated 4 Feb. 1689, to make brass money current in all
payments whatsoever." A proclamation of William III., dated July 10th,
1690, ordered that these crown pieces of James should pass as of equal
value with one penny each. [T.S.]]

These halfpence, if they once pass, will soon be counterfeit, because it
may be cheaply done, the stuff is so base. The Dutch likewise will
probably do the same thing, and send them over to us to pay for our
goods.[22] And Mr. Wood will never be at rest but coin on: So that in
some years we shall have at least five times fourscore and ten thousand
pounds of this lumber. Now the current money of this kingdom is not
reckoned to be above four hundred thousand pounds in all, and while
there is a silver sixpence left these blood-suckers will never be quiet.

[Footnote 22: The Dutch had previously counterfeited the debased coinage
of Ireland and sent them over in payment for Irish manufactures. [T.

When once the kingdom is reduced to such a condition, I will tell you
what must be the end: The gentlemen of estates will all turn off their
tenants for want of payment, because as I told you before, the tenants
are obliged by their leases to pay sterling which is lawful current
money of England; then they will turn their own farmers, as too many of
them do already, run all into sheep where they can, keeping only such
other cattle as are necessary, then they will be their own merchants and
send their wool and butter and hides and linen beyond sea for ready
money and wine and spices and silks. They will keep only a few miserable
cottiers.[23] The farmers must rob or beg, or leave their country. The
shopkeepers in this and every other town, must break and starve: For it
is the landed man that maintains the merchant, and shopkeeper, and

[Footnote 23: "Unlike the peasant proprietor," says Lecky, "and also
unlike the mediaeval serf, the cottier had no permanent interest in the
soil, and no security for his future position. Unlike the English
farmer, he was no capitalist, who selects land as one of the many forms
of profitable investment that are open to him. He was a man destitute of
all knowledge and of all capital, who found the land the only thing that
remained between himself and starvation. Rents in the lower grades of
tenancies were regulated by competition, but it was competition between
a half-starving population, who had no other resources except the soil,
and were therefore prepared to promise anything rather than be deprived
of it. The landlord did nothing for them. They built their own mud
hovels, planted their hedges, dug their ditches. They were half naked,
half starved, utterly destitute of all providence and of all education,
liable at any time to be turned adrift from their holdings, ground to
the dust by three great burdens--rack-rents, paid not to the landlord
but to the middleman; tithes, paid to the clergy--often the absentee
clergy--of the church to which they did not belong; and dues, paid to
their own priests" ("Hist, of Ireland," vol. i., pp. 214-215, ed. 1892).

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

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

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

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

A famous law-book, called "The Mirror of Justice,"[24] discoursing of
the articles (or laws) ordained by our ancient kings declares the law to
be as follows: "It was ordained that no king of this realm should
change, impair or amend the money or make any other money than of gold
or silver without the assent of all the counties," that is, as my Lord
Coke says,[25] without the assent of Parliament.

[Footnote 24: This was an important legal treatise often quoted by Coke.
Its full title is: "The Booke called, The Mirrour of Justices: Made by
Andrew Home. With the book, called, The Diversity of Courts, And Their
Jurisdictions ... London ... 1646." The French edition was printed in
1642 with the title, "La somme appelle Mirroir des Justices: vel
speculum Justiciariorum, Factum per Andream Home." Coke quotes it from a
manuscript, as he died before it was printed. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 25: 2 Inst. 576. [ORIG. ED.]]

This book is very ancient, and of great authority for the time in which
it was wrote, and with that character is often quoted by that great
lawyer my Lord Coke.[26] By the law of England, the several metals are
divided into lawful or true metal and unlawful or false metal, the
former comprehends silver or gold; the latter all baser metals: That the
former is only to pass in payments appears by an act of Parliament[27]
made the twentieth year of Edward the First, called the "Statute
concerning the Passing of Pence," which I give you here as I got it
translated into English, for some of our laws at that time, were, as I
am told writ in Latin: "Whoever in buying or selling presumeth to refuse
an halfpenny or farthing of lawful money, bearing the stamp which it
ought to have, let him be seized on as a contemner of the King's
majesty, and cast into prison."

[Footnote 26: 2 Inst. 576-577. [ORIG. ED.]]

[Footnote 27: 2 Inst. 577. [ORIG. ED.]]

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

That this is the true construction of the act, appears not only from the
plain meaning of the words, but from my Lord Coke's observation upon it.
"By this act" (says he) "it appears, that no subject can be forced to
take in buying or selling or other payments, any money made but of
lawful metal; that is, of silver or gold."[28]

[Footnote 28: 2 Inst. 577. [ORIG. ED.]]

The law of England gives the King all mines of gold and silver, but not
the mines of other metals, the reason of which prerogative or power, as
it is given by my Lord Coke[29] is, because money can be made of gold
and silver, but not of other metals.

[Footnote 29: 2 Inst. 577. [ORIG. ED.]]

Pursuant to this opinion halfpence and farthings were anciently made of
silver, which is most evident from the act of Parliament of Henry the
4th. chap. 4.[30] by which it is enacted as follows: "Item, for the
great scarcity that is at present within the realm of England of
halfpence and farthings of silver, it is ordained and established that
the third part of all the money of silver plate which shall be brought
to the bullion, shall be made in halfpence and farthings." This shews
that by the word "halfpenny" and "farthing" of lawful money in that
statute concerning the passing of pence, are meant a small coin in
halfpence and farthings of silver.

[Footnote 30: Swift makes an incorrect reference here. The act was 4
Henry IV., cap. 10. [T.S.]]

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

By another act in this King's reign[31] black money was not to be
current in England, and by an act made in the eleventh year of his reign
chap. 5. galley halfpence were not to pass, what kind of coin these were
I do not know, but I presume they were made of base metal, and that
these acts were no new laws, but farther declarations of the old laws
relating to the coin.

[Footnote 31: The act against black money was passed in Henry IV.'s
reign not Edward III.'s. The "galley halfpence" were dealt with by 9
Hen. IV., cap. 4. [T.S.]]

Thus the law stands in relation to coin, nor is there any example to the
contrary, except one in Davis's Reports,[32] who tells us that in the
time of Tyrone's rebellion Queen Elizabeth ordered money of mixed metal
to be coined in the Tower of London, and sent over hither for payment of
the army, obliging all people to receive it and commanding that all
silver money should be taken only as bullion, that is, for as much as it
weighed. Davis tells us several particulars in this matter too long here
to trouble you with, and that the privy-council of this kingdom obliged
a merchant in England to receive this mixed money for goods transmitted

[Footnote 32: This refers to Sir John Davies's "Abridgement of Sir
Edward Coke's Reports," first published in 1651. Davies was
Attorney-General for Ireland and a poet. His works have been collected
and edited by Dr. A.B. Grosart in the Fuller Worthies Library. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 33: Charles I., during the Civil War, paid his forces with
debased coin struck by him. [T.S.]]

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

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

First, You are obliged to take all money in payments which is coined by
the King and is of the English standard or weight, provided it be of
gold or silver.

Secondly, You are not obliged to take any money which is not of gold or
silver, no not the halfpence, or farthings of England, or of any other
country, and it is only for convenience, or ease, that you are content
to take them, because the custom of coining silver halfpence and
farthings hath long been left off, I will suppose on account of their
being subject to be lost.

Thirdly, Much less are you obliged to take those vile halfpence of that
same Wood, by which you must lose almost eleven-pence in every shilling.

Therefore my friends, stand to it one and all, refuse this filthy trash.
It is no treason to rebel against Mr. Wood. His Majesty in his patent
obliges nobody to take these halfpence,[34] our gracious prince hath no
so ill advisers about him; or if he had, yet you see the laws have not
left it in the King's power, to force us to take any coin but what is
lawful, of right standard gold and silver, therefore you have nothing to

[Footnote 34: The words of the patent are "to pass and to be received as
current money; by such as shall or will, voluntarily and wittingly, and
not otherwise, receive the same" (the halfpence and farthings). [T.S.]]

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

In short these halfpence are like "the accursed thing, which" as the
Scripture tells us, "the children of Israel were forbidden to touch,"
they will run about like the plague and destroy every one who lays his
hands upon them. I have heard scholars talk of a man who told a king
that he had invented a way to torment people by putting them into a bull
of brass with fire under it, but the prince put the projector first into
his own brazen bull to make the experiment;[35] this very much resembles
the project of Mr. Wood, and the like of this may possibly be Mr. Wood's
fate, that the brass he contrived to torment this kingdom with, may
prove his own torment, and his destruction at last.

[Footnote 35: It is curious to find Swift so referring to Phalaris, of
whom he had heard so much in the days of the "Battle of the Books." [SIR

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

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




Towards the beginning of the August of 1724, the Committee of Inquiry
had finished their report on Wood's patent. Somehow, an advance notice
of the contents of the report found its way, probably directed by
Walpole himself, into the pages of a London journal, from whence it was
reprinted in Dublin, in Harding's Newspaper on the 1st of August. The
notice stated that the Committee had recommended a reduction in the
amount of coin Wood was to issue to £40,000. It informed the public that
the report notified that Wood was willing to take goods in exchange for
his coins, if enough silver were not to be had, and he agreed to
restrict the amount of each payment to 5-1/2_d_. But a pretty broad hint
was given that a refusal to accept the compromise offered might possibly
provoke the higher powers to an assertion of the prerogative.

Walpole also had already endeavoured to calm the situation by consenting
to a minute examination of the coins themselves at the London Mint. The
Lords Commissioners had instructed Sir Isaac Newton, the Master of the
Mint, Edward Southwell, and Thomas Scroope, to make an assay of Wood's
money. The report of the assayists was issued on April 27th, 1724;[1]
and certified that the coins submitted had been tested and found to be
correct both as to weight and quality. In addition to this evidence of
good faith, Walpole had nominated Carteret in place of the Duke of
Grafton to the Lord-Lieutenancy. Carteret was a favourite with the best
men in Ireland, and a man of culture as well as ability. It was hoped
that his influence would smooth down the members of the opposition by an
acceptance of the altered measure. He was in the way in London, and he
might be of great service in Dublin; so to Dublin he went.

[Footnote 1: A full reprint of this report is given in Appendix II.]

But Walpole had not reckoned with the Drapier. In the paragraph in
Harding's sheet, Swift saw a diplomatist's move to win the game by
diplomatic methods. Compromise was the one result Swift was determined
to render impossible; and the Drapier's second letter, "To Mr. Harding
the Printer," renews the conflict with yet stronger passion and with
even more satirical force. It is evident Swift was bent now on raising a
deeper question than merely this of the acceptance or refusal of Wood's
halfpence and farthings. There was a principle here that had to be
insisted and a right to be safeguarded. Mr. Churton Collins ably
expresses Swift's attitude at this juncture when he says:[2] "Nothing
can be more certain than that it was Swift's design from the very
beginning to make the controversy with Wood the basis of far more
extensive operations. It had furnished him with the means of waking
Ireland from long lethargy into fiery life. He looked to it to furnish
him with the means of elevating her from servitude to independence, from
ignominy to honour. His only fear was lest the spirit which he had
kindled should burn itself out or be prematurely quenched. And of this
he must have felt that there was some danger, when it was announced that
England had given way much more than it was expected she would give way,
and much more than she had ever given way before."

[Footnote 2: "Jonathan Swift," pp. 179-180.]

This letter to Harding was but the preliminary leading up to the famous
fourth letter "to the whole people of Ireland." It was also an
introduction to, and preparation of the public mind for, the drastic
criticism of the Privy Council's Report, the arrival of which was
expected shortly.

The present text of this second letter is that given by Sir W. Scott,
collated with the copies of the original edition in the possession of
the late Colonel F. Grant and in the British Museum. It has also been
compared with Faulkner's issue of 1725, in "Fraud Detected."


     Mr. _Harding_ the Printer,
         Upon Occasion of a

              *IN HIS*
           of _Aug_. 1st.

Relating to Mr. _Wood's_ Half-pence.

       _By_ M.B. _Drapier_.
    AUTHOR of the LETTER to the
         SHOP-KEEPERS, &c.

  DUBLIN: Printed by _J. Harding_
      in _Molesworth's-Court_.



Sir, In your Newsletter of the 1st. instant there is a paragraph dated
from London, July 25th. relating to Wood's halfpence; whereby it is
plain what I foretold in my "Letter to the Shopkeepers, &c." that this
vile fellow would never be at rest, and that the danger of our ruin
approaches nearer, and therefore the kingdom requires NEW and FRESH
WARNING; however I take that paragraph to be, in a great measure, an
imposition upon the public, at least I hope so, because I am informed
that Wood is generally his own newswriter. I cannot but observe from
that paragraph that this public enemy of ours, not satisfied to ruin us
with his trash, takes every occasion to treat this kingdom with the
utmost contempt. He represents "several of our merchants and traders
upon examination before a committee of council, agreeing that there was
the utmost necessity of copper money here, before his patent, so that
several gentlemen have been forced to tally with their workmen and give
them bits of cards sealed and subscribed with their names." What then?
If a physician prescribes to a patient a dram of physic, shall a rascal
apothecary cram him with a pound, and mix it up with poison? And is not
a landlord's hand and seal to his own labourers a better security for
five or ten shillings, than Wood's brass seven times below the real
value, can be to the kingdom, for an hundred and four thousand

[Footnote 3: Thus in original edition. £108,000 is the amount generally
given. See note on p. 15. [T.S.]]

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

If we could have deserved the liberty of coining for ourselves, as we
formerly did, and why we have not _is everybody's wonder as well as
mine_,[4] ten thousand pounds might have been coined here in Dublin of
only one-fifth below the intrinsic value, and this sum, with the stock
of halfpence we then had, would have been sufficient:[5] But Wood by his
emissaries, enemies to God and this kingdom, hath taken care to buy up
as many of our old halfpence as he could, and from thence the present
want of change arises; to remove which, by Mr. Wood's remedy, would be,
to cure a scratch on the finger by cutting off the arm. But supposing
there were not one farthing of change in the whole nation, I will
maintain, that five and twenty thousand pounds would be a sum fully
sufficient to answer all our occasions. I am no inconsiderable
shopkeeper in this town, I have discoursed with several of my own and
other trades, with many gentlemen both of city and country, and also
with great numbers of farmers, cottagers, and labourers, who all agree
that two shillings in change for every family would be more than
necessary in all dealings. Now by the largest computation (even before
that grievous discouragement of agriculture, which hath so much lessened
our numbers [6]) the souls in this kingdom are computed to be one
million and a half, which, allowing but six to a family, makes two
hundred and fifty thousand families, and consequently two shillings to
each family will amount only to five and twenty thousand pounds, whereas
this honest liberal hardwareman Wood would impose upon us above four
times that sum.

[Footnote 4: Time and again Ireland had petitioned the King of England
for the establishment of a mint in Dublin. Both Houses of Parliament
addressed King Charles I. in 1634, begging for a mint which should coin
money in Ireland of the same standard and values as those of England,
and allowing the profits to the government. Wentworth supported the
address; but it was refused (Carte's "Ormond," vol. i., pp. 79-80). When
Lord Cornwallis's petition for a renewal of his patent for minting coins
was presented in 1700, it was referred to a committee of the Lords
Justices. In their report the Lords Justices condemned the system in
vogue, and urged the establishment of a mint, in which the coining of
money should be in the hands of the government and in those of a
subject. No notice was taken of this advice. See Lecky's "Ireland," vol.
i., p. 448 (ed 1892) [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: Boulter stated that £10,000 or £15,000 would have amply
fulfilled the demand ("Letters," vol. i., pp. 4, 11). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 6: It was not alone the direct discouragement of agriculture
which lessened the population. This result was also largely brought
about by the anti-Catholic legislation of Queen Anne's reign, which
"reduced the Roman Catholics to a state of depression," and caused
thousands of them to go elsewhere for the means of living. See
Crawford's "Ireland," vol. ii., pp. 264-267. [T.S.]]

Your paragraph relates further, that Sir Isaac Newton reported an assay
taken at the Tower of Wood's metal, by which it appears, that Wood had
in all respects performed his contract[7]. His contract! With whom? Was
it with the parliament or people of Ireland? Are not they to be the
purchasers? But they detest, abhor, and reject it, as corrupt,
fraudulent, mingled with dirt and trash. Upon which he grows angry, goes
to law, and will impose his goods upon us by force.

[Footnote 7: For the full text of Newton's report see Appendix, No. II.

But your Newsletter says that an assay was made of the coin. How
impudent and insupportable is this? Wood takes care to coin a dozen or
two halfpence of good metal, sends them to the Tower and they are
approved, and these must answer all that he hath already coined or shall
coin for the future. It is true indeed, that a gentleman often sends to
my shop for a pattern of stuff, I cut it fairly off, and if he likes it,
he comes or sends and compares the pattern with the whole piece, and
probably we come to a bargain. But if I were to buy an hundred sheep,
and the grazier should bring me one single wether fat and well fleeced
by way of pattern, and expect the same price round for the whole
hundred, without suffering me to see them before he was paid, or giving
me good security to restore my money for those that were lean or shorn
or scabby, I would be none of his customer. I have heard of a man who
had a mind to sell his house, and therefore carried a piece of brick in
his pocket, which he shewed as a pattern to encourage purchasers: And
this is directly the case in point with Mr. Wood's assay.[8]

[Footnote 8: Monck Mason remarks on this assay that "the assay-masters
do not report that Mr. Wood's coinage was superior to that of former
kings, but only to those specimens of such coinages as were exhibited by
Mr. Wood, which, it is admitted were much worn. Whether the money coined
in the preceding reign was good or bad is in fact nothing to the
purpose." "'What argument,'" quotes Monck Mason from the tract issued in
1724 entitled, "A Defence of the Conduct of the People of Ireland, in
their unanimous refusal of Mr. Wood's Copper Money," "'can be drawn from
the badness of our former coinages but this, that because we have
formerly been cheated by our coiners, we ought to suffer Mr. Wood to
cheat us over again? Whereas, one reason for our so vigorously opposing
Mr. Wood's coinage, is, because we have always been imposed upon in our
copper money, and we find he is treading exactly in the steps of his
predecessors, and thinks he has a right to cheat us because he can shew
a precedent for it.' In truth, there was a vast number of counterfeits
of those coins, which had been imported, chiefly from Scotland, as
appears from a proclamation prohibiting the Importation of them in 1697"
("History St. Patrick's Cathedral," p, 340, note d.) [T.S.]]

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

His first proposal is, that "whereas he hath already coined seventeen
thousand pounds, and has copper prepared to make it up forty thousand
pounds, he will be content to coin no more, unless the EXIGENCES OF
TRADE REQUIRE IT, though his patent empowers him to coin a far greater

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

The King has given him a patent to coin halfpence, but hath not obliged
us to take them, and I have already shewn in my "Letter to the
Shopkeepers, &c." that the law hath not left it in the power of the
prerogative to compel the subject to take any money, beside gold and
silver of the right sterling and standard.

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

I shall not enter into examination of the prices for which he now
proposes to sell his halfpence, or what he calls his copper, by the
pound; I have said enough of it in my former letter, and it hath
likewise been considered by others. It is certain that by his own first
computation, we were to pay three shillings for what was intrinsically
worth but one,[9] although it had been of the true weight and standard
for which he pretended to have contracted; but there is so great a
difference both in weight and badness in several of his coins that some
of them have been nine in ten below the intrinsic value, and most of
them six or seven.[10]

[Footnote 9: The report of the Committee of the Privy Council which sat
on Wood's coinage, stated that copper ready for minting cost eighteen
pence per pound before it was brought into the Mint at the Tower of
London. See the Report prefixed to Letter III. and Appendix II., in
which it is also stated that Wood's copper was worth thirteen pence per
pound. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 10: Newton's assay report says that Wood's pieces were of
unequal weight. [T.S.]]

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

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

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

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

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

Good God! Who are this wretch's advisers? Who are his supporters,
abettors, encouragers, or sharers? Mr. Wood will _oblige_ me to take
fivepence halfpenny of his brass in every payment! And I will shoot Mr.
Wood and his deputies through the head, like highwaymen or
housebreakers, if they dare to force one farthing of their coin upon me
in the payment of an hundred pounds. It is no loss of honour to submit
to the lion, but who, with the figure of a man, can think with patience
of being devoured alive by a rat. He has laid a tax upon the people of
Ireland of seventeen shillings at least in the pound; a tax I say, not
only upon lands, but interest-money, goods, manufactures, the hire of
handicraftsmen, labourers, and servants. Shopkeepers look to yourselves.
Wood will _oblige_ and force you to take fivepence halfpenny of his
trash in every payment, and many of you receive twenty, thirty, forty
payments in a day, or else you can hardly find bread: And pray consider
how much that will amount to in a year: Twenty times fivepence halfpenny
is nine shillings and twopence, which is above an hundred and sixty
pounds a year, whereof you will be losers of at least one hundred and
forty pounds by taking your payments in his money. If any of you be
content to deal with Mr. Wood on such conditions they may. But for my
own particular, "let his money perish with him." If the famous Mr.
Hampden rather chose to go to prison, than pay a few shillings to King
Charles 1st. without authority of Parliament, I will rather choose to be
hanged than have all my substance taxed at seventeen shillings in the
pound, at the arbitrary will and pleasure of the venerable Mr. Wood.

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

The impudence of this remark exceeds all that went before. First; the
House of Commons in Ireland, which represents the whole people of the
kingdom; and secondly the Privy-council, addressed His Majesty against
these halfpence. What could be done more to express the universal sense
and opinion of the nation? If his copper were diamonds, and the kingdom
were entirely against it, would not that be sufficient to reject it?
Must a committee of the House of Commons, and our whole Privy-council go
over to argue _pro_ and _con_ with Mr. Wood? To what end did the King
give his patent for coining of halfpence in Ireland? Was it not, because
it was represented to his sacred Majesty, that such a coinage would be
of advantage to the good of this kingdom, and of all his subjects here?
It is to the patentee's peril if his representation be false, and the
execution of his patent be fraudulent and corrupt. Is he so wicked and
foolish to think that his patent was given him to ruin a million and a
half of people, that he might be a gainer of three or four score
thousand pounds to himself? Before he was at the charge of passing a
patent, much more of raking up so much filthy dross, and stamping it
with His Majesty's "image and superscription," should he not first in
common sense, in common equity, and common manners, have consulted the
principal party concerned; that is to say, the people of the kingdom,
the House of Lords or Commons, or the Privy-council? If any foreigner
should ask us, "whose image and superscription" there is in Wood's coin,
we should be ashamed to tell him, it was Caesar's. In that great want of
copper halfpence, which he alleges we were, our city set up our Caesar's
statue[11] in excellent copper, at an expense that is equal in value to
thirty thousand pounds of his coin: And we will not receive his _image_
in worse metal.

[Footnote 11: An equestrian statue of George I. at Essex Bridge, Dublin,

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

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

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

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

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

That "Whereas one William Wood hardware-man, now or lately sojourning
in the city of London, hath, by many misrepresentations, procured a
patent for coining an hundred and forty thousand pounds[12] in copper
halfpence for this kingdom, which is a sum five times greater than our
occasions require. And whereas it is notorious that the said Wood hath
coined his halfpence of such base metal and false weight, that they are,
at least, six parts in seven below the real value. And whereas we have
reason to apprehend, that the said Wood may, at any time hereafter,
clandestinely coin as many more halfpence as he pleases. And whereas the
said patent neither doth nor can _oblige_ His Majesty's subjects to
receive the said halfpence in any payment, but leaves it to their
voluntary choice, because, by law the subject cannot be _obliged_ to
take any money except gold or silver. And whereas, contrary to the
letter and meaning of the said patent, the said Wood hath declared that
every person shall be _obliged_ to take fivepence halfpenny of his coin
in every payment. And whereas the House of Commons and Privy-council
have severally addressed his Most Sacred Majesty, representing the ill
consequences which the said coinage may have upon this kingdom. And
lastly whereas it is universally agreed, that the whole nation to a man
(except Mr. Wood and his confederates) are in the utmost apprehensions
of the ruinous consequences, that must follow from the said coinage.
Therefore we whose names are underwritten, being persons of considerable
estates in this kingdom, and residers therein, do unanimously resolve
and declare that we will never receive, one farthing or halfpenny of the
said Wood's coining, and that we will direct all our tenants to refuse
the said coin from any person whatsoever; Of which that they may not be
ignorant, we have sent them a copy of this advertisement, to be read to
them by our stewards, receivers, &c."

[Footnote 12: In the first paragraph of this letter the sum was given as
£104,000. [T.S.]]

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

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

_I am your servant_,


_Aug._ 4, 1724.

_The Report of the Committee of the Lords of His
Majesty's most honourable Privy-Council, in
relation to Mr. Wood's Halfpence
and Farthings, etc._[1]

OF JULY, 1724.

In obedience to your Majesty's order of reference, upon the several
resolutions and addresses of both Houses of Parliament of Ireland,
during their late session, the late address of your Majesty's justices,
and Privy-council of that kingdom, and the petitions of the county and
city of Dublin, concerning a patent granted by your Majesty to William
Wood Esq; for the coining and uttering copper halfpence and farthings in
the kingdom of Ireland, to such persons as would voluntarily accept the
same; and upon the petition of the said William Wood, concerning the
same coinage, the Lords of the Committee have taken into their
consideration the said patent, addresses, petitions, and all matters and
papers relating thereto, and have heard and examined all such persons,
as upon due and sufficient notice, were desirous and willing to be heard
upon the subject matter under their consideration, and have agreed upon
the following Report, containing a true state of the whole matter, as it
appeared before them, with their humble opinion, to be laid before your
Majesty for your royal consideration and determination, upon a matter of
such importance.

[Footnote 1: For the story of the origin of this report see the Note
prefixed to Letter III. [T.S.]]

The several addresses to your Majesty from your subjects of Ireland,
contain in general terms the strongest representations of the great
apprehensions they were under, from the importing and uttering copper
halfpence and farthings in Ireland, by virtue of the patent granted to
Mr. Wood, which they conceived would prove highly prejudicial to your
Majesty's revenue, destructive of the trade and commerce of the kingdom,
and of dangerous consequence to the properties of the subject. They
represent, That the patent had been obtained in a clandestine and
unprecedented manner, and by notorious misrepresentations of the state
of Ireland; That if the terms of the patent had been complied with, this
coinage would have been of infinite loss to the kingdom, but that the
patentee, under colour of the powers granted to him, had imported and
endeavoured to utter great quantities of different impressions, and of
less weight, than required by the patent, and had been guilty of
notorious frauds and deceit in coining the said copper money: And they
humbly beseech your Majesty, that you would give such directions, as in
your great wisdom you should think proper, to prevent the fatal effects
of uttering any half pence or farthings by virtue of the said patent:
And the House of Commons of Ireland, in a second address upon this
subject, pray, That your Majesty would be pleased to give directions to
the several officers intrusted in the receipt of your Majesty's revenue,
That they do not on any pretence whatever, receive or utter any of the
said copper halfpence or farthings.

In answer to the addresses of the Houses of Parliament of Ireland, your
Majesty was most graciously pleased to assure them, "That if any abuses
had been committed by the patentee, you would give the necessary orders
for enquiring into and punishing those abuses; and that your Majesty
would do everything, that was in your power, for the satisfaction of
your people."

In pursuance of this your Majesty's most gracious declaration, your
Majesty was pleased to take this matter into you royal consideration;
and that you might be the better enabled effectually to answer the
expectations of your people of Ireland, your Majesty was pleased by a
letter from Lord Carteret, one of your principal secretaries of state,
dated March 10, 1723-4, to signify your pleasure to your Lord Lieutenant
of Ireland, "That he should give directions for sending over such papers
and witnesses as should be thought proper to support the objections made
against the patent, and against the patentee, in the execution of the
powers given him by the patent."

Upon the receipt of these your Majesty's orders, the Lord Lieutenant, by
his letter of the 20th of March, 1723-4, represented the great
difficulty he found himself under, to comply with these your Majesty's
orders; and by another letter of the 24th of March 1723-4, "after
consulting the principal members of both Houses, who were immediately in
your Majesty's service, and of the Privy Council," acquainted your
Majesty, "That none of them would take upon them to advise, how any
material persons or papers might be sent over on this occasion; but they
all seemed apprehensive of the ill temper any miscarriage, in a trial,
upon _scire facias_ brought against the patentee, might occasion in both
Houses, if the evidence were not laid as full before a jury, as it was
before them," and did therefore, a second time, decline sending over
any persons, papers or materials whatsoever, to support this charge
brought against your Majesty's patent and the patentee.

As this proceeding seemed very extraordinary, that in a matter that had
raised so great and universal a clamour in Ireland, no one person could
be prevailed upon to come over from Ireland, in support of the united
sense of both Houses of Parliament of Ireland; That no papers, no
materials, no evidence whatsoever of the mischiefs arising from this
patent, or of the notorious frauds and deceit committed in the execution
of it, could now be had, to give your Majesty satisfaction herein; "your
Majesty however, desirous to give your people of Ireland all possible
satisfaction, but sensible that you cannot in any case proceed against
any of the meanest of your subjects, but according to the known rules
and maxims of law and justice," repeated your orders to your Lord
Lieutenant of Ireland, that by persuasion, and making proper allowances
for their expenses, new endeavours might be used to procure and send
over such witnesses as should be thought material to make good the
charge against the patent.

In answer to these orders, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland acquaints your
Majesty, by his letter of the 23d of April to one of your principal
secretaries of state, "That in order to obey your Majesty's commands as
far as possibly he could, at a meeting with my Lord Chancellor, the
Chief Judges, your Majesty's Attorney and Solicitor-General, he had
earnestly desired their advice and assistance, to enable him to send
over such witnesses as might be necessary to support the charge against
Mr. Wood's patent, and the execution of it. The result of this meeting
was such, that the Lord Lieutenant could not reap the least advantage or
assistance from it, every one being so guarded with caution, against
giving any advice or opinion in this matter of state, apprehending great
danger to themselves from meddling in it."

The Lords of the Committee think it very strange, that there should be
such great difficulty in prevailing with persons, who had already given
their evidence before the Parliament of Ireland, to come over and give
the same evidence here, and especially, that the chief difficulty should
arise, from a general apprehension of a miscarriage, in an enquiry
before your Majesty, or in a proceeding by due course of law, in a case,
where both Houses of Parliament had declared themselves so fully
convinced, and satisfied upon evidence, and examinations taken in the
most solemn manner.

At the same time that your Majesty sent your orders to the Lord
Lieutenant of Ireland, to send over such evidences as were thought
material to support the charge against the patent, that your Majesty
might, without any further loss of time than was absolutely necessary,
be as fully informed as was possible, and that the abuses and frauds
alleged to be committed by the patentee, in executing the powers granted
to him, might be fully and strictly enquired into, and examined, your
Majesty was pleased to order that an assay should be made of the
fineness, value, and weight of this copper money, and the goodness
thereof, compared with the former coinages of copper money for Ireland,
and the copper money coined in your Majesty's Mint in England; and it
was accordingly referred to Sir Isaac Newton, Edward Southwell, and
Thomas Scroope, Esqs. to make the said assay and trial.

By the reports made of this assay, which are hereunto annexed, it
appears,[2] "That the pix of the copper moneys coined at Bristol by Mr.
Wood for Ireland, containing the trial pieces, which was sealed and
locked up at the time of coining, was opened at your Majesty's mint at
the Tower; that the comptroller's account of the quantities of halfpence
and farthings coined, agreed with Mr. Wood's account, amounting to 59
tons, 3 hundred, 1 quarter, 11 pounds, and 4 ounces; That by the
specimens of this coinage, which had from time to time been taken from
the several parcels coined, and sealed up in papers, and put into the
pix, 60 halfpence weighed 14 ounces troy, and 18 penny-weight, which is
about a quarter of an ounce above one pound weight avoirdupois; and 30
farthings weighed 3 ounces and 3 quarters of an ounce troy, and 46
grams, which is also above the weight required by the patent. It also
appears, that both halfpence and farthings when heated red-hot spread
thin under the hammer without cracking; that the copper of which Mr.
Wood's coinage is made, is of the same goodness and value with the
copper of which the copper money is coined in your Majesty's mint for
England, and worth in the market about 13 pence per pound weight
avoirdupois; That a pound of copper wrought into bars of fillets, and
made fit for coinage, before brought into the mint at the Tower of
London, is worth 18 pence per pound, and always cost as much, and is
coined into 23 pence of copper money by tale, for England; It likewise
appears, that the halfpence and farthings coined by Mr. Wood, when
compared with the copper money coined for Ireland, in the reigns of King
Charles II. King James II. and King William and Queen Mary, considerably
exceeds them all in weight, very far exceeds them all in goodness,
fineness, and value of the copper, none of them bearing the fire so
well, not being malleable, wasting very much in the fire, and great part
of them burning into a cinder of little or no value at all; Specimens
of all which, as likewise of Mr. Wood's copper money, upon trials and
assays made by Sir Isaac Newton, Mr. Southwell, and Mr. Scroope, were
laid before this Committee for their information."

[Footnote 2: See Appendix, No. II. [T.S.]]

The Lords of the Committee beg leave upon this article of the complaint,
"That notorious frauds and deceits had been committed by the patentee,
in executing the powers granted him," to observe to your Majesty, That
this is a fact expressly charged upon the patentee, and if it had in any
manner been proved, it might have enabled your Majesty, by due course of
law, to have given the satisfaction to your people of Ireland, that has
been so much insisted upon; but as it is now above four months since
your Majesty was pleased to send over to Ireland for such evidence, as
might prove a fact alleged to be so notorious, and no evidence at all
has been as yet transmitted, nor the least expectation given of any that
may hereafter be obtained, and the trials and assays that have been
taken of the halfpence, and farthings coined by Mr. Wood proving so
unquestionably the weight, goodness and fineness of the copper money
coined, rather exceeding the conditions of the patent, than being any
way defective, the Lords of the Committee cannot advise your Majesty, by
a writ of _scire facias_, or any other manner to endeavour vacating the
said patent, when there is no probability of success in such an

As these trials and assays fully shew that the patentee hath acted
fairly according to the terms and conditions of his patent, so they
evidently prove, that the care and caution made use of in this patent,
by proper conditions, checks, and comptrols have effectually provided,
that the copper money coined for Ireland by virtue of this patent,
should far exceed the like coinages for Ireland, in the reigns of your
Majesty's royal predecessors.

And that your Majesty's royal predecessors have exercised this undoubted
prerogative of granting to private persons the power and privilege of
coining copper halfpence and farthings for the kingdom of Ireland, was
proved to this Committee by several precedents of such patents granted
to private persons by King Charles II. and King James II. none of which
were equally beneficial to your kingdom of Ireland, nor so well guarded
with proper covenants and conditions for the due execution of the powers
thereby granted, although the power and validity of those patents, and a
due compliance with them, was never in any one instance, till this time,
disputed or controverted.

By these former patents, the sole power of coining copper money for
Ireland, was granted to the patentees for the term of 21 years, to be
coined in such place as they should think convenient, and "such
quantities as they could conveniently issue within the term of 21
years," without any restriction of the quantity to be coined within the
whole term, or any provision of a certain quantity, only to be coined
annually to prevent the ill consequences of too great a quantity to be
poured in at once, at the will and pleasure of the patentees; no
provision was made for the goodness and fineness of the copper, no
comptroller appointed to inspect the copper in bars and fillets, before
coined, and take constant assays of the money when coined, and the power
of issuing not limited "to such as would voluntarily accept the same";
but by the patent granted to John Knox, the money coined by virtue of
the patent, "is made and declared to be the current coin of the kingdom
of Ireland," and a pound weight of copper was allowed to be coined into
2 shillings and 8 pence, and whatever quantity should be coined, a rent
of 16_l_ _per annum_ only was reserved to the crown, and 700 tons of
copper were computed to be coined within the 21 years, without any

The term granted to Mr. Wood for coining copper money is for 14 years
only, the quantity for the whole term limited to 360 tons, 100 ton only
to be issued within one year, and 20 tons each year for the 13 remaining
years; a comptroller is appointed by the authority of the crown to
inspect, comptrol, and assay the copper, as well not coined as coined;
the copper to be fine British copper, cast into bars or fillets, which
when heated red hot would spread thin under the hammer; a pound weight
of copper to be coined into 2 shillings and sixpence, and without any
compulsion on currency enforced, to be received by such only as would
voluntarily and wilfully accept the same"; a rent of 800_l_ _per annum_
is reserved unto your Majesty,[3] and 200_l per annum_ to your Majesty's
clerk comptroller, to be paid annually by the patentee, for the full
term of the fourteen years, which for 13 years when 20 tons of copper
only are coined, is not inconsiderable; these great and essential
differences in the several patents, that have been granted for coining
copper money for the kingdom of Ireland, seemed sufficiently to justify
the care and caution that was used in granting the letters-patent to Mr.

[Footnote 3: See the extract from the patent itself, where the amount is
given differently [T.S.]]

It has been further represented to your Majesty, That these
letters-patent were obtained by Mr. Wood in a clandestine and
unprecedent manner, and by gross misrepresentations of the state of the
kingdom of Ireland. Upon enquiring into this fact it appears, That the
petition of Mr. Wood for obtaining this coinage, was presented to your
Majesty at the time that several other petitions and applications were
made to your Majesty, for the same purpose, by sundry persons, well
acquainted and conversant with the affairs of Ireland, setting forth the
great want of small money and change in all the common and lower parts
of traffic, and business throughout the kingdom, and the terms of Mr.
Wood's petition seeming to your Majesty most reasonable, thereupon a
draught of a warrant directing a grant of such coinage to be made to Mr.
Wood, was referred to your Majesty's then Attorney and Solicitor-general
of England, to consider and report their opinion to your Majesty; Sir
Isaac Newton, as the Committee is informed was consulted in all the
steps of settling and adjusting the terms and conditions of the patent;
and after mature deliberation, your Majesty's warrant was signed,
directing an indenture in such manner as is practised in your Majesty's
mint in the Tower of London, for the coining of gold and silver moneys,
to pass the Great Seal of Great Britain, which was carried through all
the usual forms and offices without haste or precipitation, That the
Committee cannot discover the least pretence to say, this patent was
passed or obtained in a clandestine or unprecedented manner, unless it
is to be understood, that your Majesty's granting a liberty of coining
copper money for Ireland, under the Great Seal of Great Britain, without
referring the consideration thereof to the principal officers of
Ireland, is the grievance and mischief complained of. Upon this head it
must be admitted, that letters-patent under the Great Seal of Great
Britain for coining copper money for Ireland, are legal and obligatory,
a just and reasonable exercise of your Majesty's royal prerogative, and
in no manner derogatory, or invasive, of any liberties or privileges of
your subjects of Ireland. When any matter or thing is transacting that
concerns or may affect your kingdom of Ireland, if your Majesty has any
doubts concerning the same, or sees just cause for considering your
officers of Ireland, your Majesty is frequently pleased to refer such
considerations to your chief governors of Ireland, but the Lords of the
Committee hope it will not be asserted, that any legal orders or
resolutions of your Majesty can or ought to be called in question or
invalidated, because the advice or consent of your chief governors of
that kingdom was not previously had upon them: The precedents are many,
wherein cases of great importance to Ireland, and that immediately
affected, the interests of that kingdom, warrants, orders, and
directions, by the authority of your Majesty and your royal
predecessors, have been issued under the royal sign manual, without any
previous reference, or advice of your officers of Ireland, which have
always had their due force, and have been punctually complied with and
obeyed. And as it cannot be disputed but this patent might legally and
properly pass under the Great Seal of Great Britain, so their Lordships
cannot find any precedents of references to the officers of Ireland, of
what passed under the Great Seal of England; on the contrary, there are
precedents of patents passed under the Great Seal of Ireland, where in
all the previous steps the references were made to the officers of

By the misrepresentation of the state of Ireland, in order to obtain
this patent, it is presumed, is meant, That the information given to
your Majesty of the great want of small money, to make small payments,
was groundless, and that there is no such want of small money: The Lords
of the Committee enquired very particularly into this article, and Mr.
Wood produced several witnesses, that directly asserted the great want
of small money for change, and the great damage that retailers and
manufactures suffered for want of such copper money. Evidence was given,
That considerable manufacturers have been obliged to give tallies, or
tokens in cards, to their workmen for want of small money, signed upon
the back, to be afterwards exchanged for larger money: That a premium
was often given to obtain small money for necessary occasions: Several
letters from Ireland to correspondents in England were read, complaining
of the want of copper money, and expressing the great demand there was
for this money.

The great want of small money was further proved by the common use of
_raps_, a counterfeit coin, of such base metal, that what passes for a
halfpenny, is not worth half a farthing, which raps appear to have
obtained a currency, out of necessity and for want of better small money
to make change with, and by the best accounts, the Lords of the
Committee have reason to believe, That there can be no doubt, that there
is a real want of small money in Ireland, which seems to be so far
admitted on all hands, that there does not appear to have been any
misrepresentation of the state of Ireland in this respect.

In the second address from the House of Commons to your Majesty, They
most humbly beseech your Majesty, that you will be graciously pleased to
give directions to the several officers intrusted with the receipt of
your Majesty's revenue, that they do not, on any pretence whatsoever,
receive or utter such halfpence or farthings, and Mr. Wood, in his
petition to your Majesty, complains, that the officers of your Majesty's
revenue had already given such orders to all the inferior officers not
to receive any of this coin.

Your Majesty, by your patent under the Great Seal of Great Britain,
wills, requires and commands your "lieutenant, deputy, or other chief
governor or governors of your kingdom of Ireland, and all other officers
and ministers of your Majesty, your heirs and successors in England,
Ireland or elsewhere, to be aiding and assisting to the said William
Wood, his executors, &c. in the execution of all or any the powers,
authorities, directions, matters or things to be executed by him or
them, or for his or their benefit and advantage, by virtue, and in
pursuance of the said indentures, in all things as becometh, &c." And if
the officers of the revenue have, upon their own authority, given any
orders, directions, significations, or intimations, to hinder or
obstruct the receiving and uttering the copper money coined and
imported, pursuant to your Majesty's letters-patent, this cannot but be
looked upon as a very extraordinary proceeding.

In another paragraph of the patent your Majesty has covenanted and
granted unto the said William Wood, his executors, &c. "That upon
performance of covenants, on his and their parts, he and they shall
peaceably, and quietly, have, hold, and enjoy all the powers,
authorities, privileges, licences, profits, advantages, and all other
matters and things thereby granted, without any let, suit, trouble,
molestation or denial of your Majesty, your heirs or successors, or of
or by any of your or their officers or ministers, or any person or
persons, &c." This being so expressly granted and covenanted by your
Majesty, and there appearing no failure, non-performance, or breach of
covenants, on the part of the patentee, the Lords of the Committee
cannot advise your Majesty to give directions to the officers of the
revenue, not to receive or utter any of the said copper halfpence or
farthings as has been desired.

Mr. Wood having been heard by his counsel, produced his several
witnesses, all the papers and precedents, which he thought material,
having been read and considered, and having as he conceived, fully
vindicated both the patent, and the execution thereof. For his further
justification, and to clear himself from the imputation of attempting to
make to himself any unreasonable profit or advantage, and to enrich
himself at the expense of the kingdom of Ireland, by endeavouring to
impose upon them, and utter a greater quantity of copper money, than the
necessary occasions of the people shall require, and can easily take
off, delivered a proposal in writing, signed by himself, which is
hereunto annexed, and Mr. Wood having by the said letters-patent,
"covenanted, granted, and promised to, and with your Majesty, your heirs
and successors, that he shall and will from time to time in the making
the said copper farthings and halfpence in England, and in transporting
the same from time to time to Ireland, and in uttering, vending,
disposing and dispersing the same there, and in all his doings and
accounts concerning the same, submit himself to the inspection,
examination, order and comptrol of your Majesty and your commissioners
of the treasury or high-treasurer for the time being;" the Lords of the
Committee are of opinion, that your Majesty upon this voluntary offer
and proposal of Mr. Wood, may give proper orders and directions for the
execution and due performance of such parts of the said proposal, as
shall be judged most for the interest and accommodation of your subjects
of Ireland: In the mean time, it not appearing to their Lordships that
Mr. Wood has done or committed any act or deed, that may tend to
invalidate, or make void his letters-patent, or to forfeit the
privileges and advantages thereby granted to him by your Majesty; It is
but just and reasonable, that your Majesty should immediately send
orders to your commissioners of the revenue, and all other your officers
in Ireland, to revoke all orders, directions, significations, or
intimations whatsoever, that may have been given by them, or any of
them, to hinder or obstruct the receiving and uttering this copper
money, and that the halfpence and farthings already coined by Mr. Wood,
amounting to about 17,000_l_. and such further quantity as shall make up
the said 17,000_l_. to 40,000_l_. "be suffered and permitted without any
let, suit, trouble, molestation, or denial of any of your Majesty's
officers or ministers whatsoever, to pass, and be received as current
money by such as shall be willing to receive the same." At the same
time, it may be advisable for your Majesty, to give the proper orders,
that Mr. Wood shall not coin, import into Ireland, utter or dispose of
any more copper halfpence or farthings, than to the amount of 40,000_l_.
according to his own proposal, without your Majesty's special licence or
authority, to be had for that purpose; and if your Majesty shall be
pleased to order, that Mr. Wood's proposal, delivered to the Lords of
the Committee, shall be transmitted to your Majesty's chief governor,
deputies, or other your ministers, or officers in Ireland, it will give
them a proper opportunity to consider, Whether, after the reduction of
360 tons of copper, being in value 100,800_l_. to 142 tons, 17 hundred,
16 pounds being in value 40,000_l_. only, anything can be done for the
further satisfaction of the people of Ireland.




The Drapier's second letter was dated August 4th, 1724. A few days
later the English Privy Council's Report, dated 24th July, 1724, arrived
in Dublin, and on August 25th, Swift had issued his reply to it in this
third letter.

The Report itself, which is here prefixed to the third letter, was said
to have been the work of Walpole. Undoubtedly, it contains the best
arguments that could then be urged in favour of Wood and the patent, and
undoubtedly, also, it would have had the desired effect had it been
allowed to do its work uncriticised. But Swift's opposition was fatal to
Walpole's intentions. He took the report as but another attempt to foist
on the people of Ireland a decree in which they had not been consulted,
and no amount of yielding, short of complete abandonment of it, would
palliate the thing that was hateful in itself. He resented the insult.
After specific rebuttals of the various arguments urged in the report in
favour of the patent, Swift suddenly turns from the comparatively petty
and insignificant consideration as to the weight and quality of the
coins, and deals with the broad principle of justice which the granting
of the patent had ignored. Had the English Houses of Parliament and the
English Privy Council, he said, addressed the King against a similar
breach of the English people's rights, his Majesty would not have waited
to discuss the matter, nor would his ministers have dared to advise him
as they had done in this instance. "Am I a free man in England," he
exclaims, "and do I become a slave in six hours in crossing the

The report, however, is interesting inasmuch as it assists us to
appreciate the pathetic condition of Irish affairs at the time. The very
fact that the petition of the Irish parliament could be so handled,
proves how strong had been the hold over Ireland by England, and with
what daring insistence the English ministers continued to efface the
last strongholds of Irish independence.

Monck Mason, in reviewing the report, has devoted a very elaborate note
to its details, and has fortified his criticisms with a series of
remarkable letters from the Archbishop of Dublin, which he publishes for
the first time.[1] I have embodied much of this note in the annotations
which accompany the present reprint of this letter.

[Footnote 1: "History of St. Patrick's Cathedral," pp. lxxxvi-xcv.]

The text of this third letter is based on Sir W. Scott's, collated with
the first edition and that given by Faulkner in "Fraud Detected." It has
also been read with Faulkner's text given in the fourth volume of his
edition of Swift's Works, published in 1735.



     Upon a PAPER, Call'd, The


               OF THE
               OF THE
 Most Honourable the _Privy-Council_
  Relating to WOOD's _Half-pence_.

       _By_.  M.B. _Drapier_.
    AUTHOR of the LETTER to the
        _SHOP-KEEPERS_, &c.

    Printed by _John Harding_ in
_Molesworth's-Court_ in _Fishamble Street_.



Having already written two letters to people of my own level, and
condition; and having now very pressing occasion for writing a third; I
thought I could not more properly address it than to your lordships and

The occasion is this. A printed paper was sent to me on the 18th
instant, entitled, "A Report of the Committee of the Lords of His
Majesty's Most Honourable Privy-Council in England, relating to Mr.
Wood's Halfpence and Farthings."[2] There is no mention made where the
paper was printed, but I suppose it to have been in Dublin; and I have
been told that the copy did not come over in the Gazette, but in the
London Journal, or some other print of no authority or consequence; and
for anything that legally appears to the contrary, it may be a
contrivance to fright us, or a project of some printer, who hath a mind
to make a penny by publishing something upon a subject, which now
employs all our thoughts in this kingdom. Mr. Wood in publishing this
paper would insinuate to the world, as if the Committee had a greater
concern for his credit and private emolument, than for the honour of the
Privy-council and both Houses of Parliament here, and for the quiet and
welfare of this whole kingdom; For it seems intended as a vindication of
Mr. Wood, not without several severe remarks on the Houses of Lords and
Commons of Ireland.

[Footnote 2: The full text of this report is prefixed to this third
letter of the Drapier. The report was published in the "London Journal"
about the middle of August of 1724. Neither the "Gazette" nor any other
ministerial organ printed it, which evidently gave Swift his cue to
attack it in the merciless manner he did. Monck Mason thought it "not
improbable that the minister [Walpole] adopted this method of
communication, because it served his own purpose; he dared not to stake
his credit upon such a document, which, in its published form, contains
some gross mis-statements" ("History of St. Patrick's Cathedral," note,
on p. 336). [T.S.]]

The whole is indeed written with the turn and air of a pamphlet, as if
it were a dispute between William Wood on the one part, and the Lords
Justices, Privy-council and both Houses of Parliament on the other; the
design of it being to clear and vindicate the injured reputation of
William Wood, and to charge the other side with casting rash and
groundless aspersions upon him.

But if it be really what the title imports, Mr. Wood hath treated the
Committee with great rudeness, by publishing an act of theirs in so
unbecoming a manner, without their leave, and before it was communicated
to the government and Privy-council of Ireland, to whom the Committee
advised that it should be transmitted. But with all deference be it
spoken, I do not conceive that a Report of a Committee of the Council in
England is hitherto a law in either kingdom; and until any point is
determined to be a law, it remains disputable by every subject.

This (may it please your lordships and worships) may seem a strange way
of discoursing in an illiterate shopkeeper. I have endeavoured (although
without the help of books) to improve that small portion of reason which
God hath pleased to give me, and when reason plainly appears before me,
I cannot turn away my head from it. Thus for instance, if any lawyer
should tell me that such a point were law, from which many gross
palpable absurdities must follow, I would not, I could not believe him.
If Sir Edward Coke should positively assert (which he nowhere does, but
the direct contrary) that a limited prince, could by his prerogative
oblige his subjects to take half an ounce of lead, stamped with his
image, for twenty shillings in gold, I should swear he was deceived or a
deceiver, because a power like that, would leave the whole lives and
fortunes of the people entirely at the mercy of the monarch: Yet this,
in effect, is what Wood hath advanced in some of his papers, and what
suspicious people may possibly apprehend from some passages in that
which is called the "Report."

That paper mentions "such persons to have been examined, who were
desirous and willing to be heard upon that subject." I am told, they
were four in all, Coleby, Brown, Mr. Finley the banker, and one more
whose name I know not. The first of these was tried for robbing the
Treasury in Ireland, and although he was acquitted for want of legal
proof, yet every person in the Court believed him to be guilty. The
second was tried for a rape, and stands recorded in the votes of the
House of Commons, for endeavouring by perjury and subornation, to take
away the life of John Bingham, Esq.[3]

[Footnote 3: Referring to these persons who were examined by the
Committee, Monck Mason quotes from two letters from Archbishop King to
Edward Southwell, Esq. King was one of the council, and Southwell
secretary of state at the time. The first of these letters remarks:
"Could a greater contempt be put upon a nation, than to see such a
little fellow as Wood favoured and supported against them, and such
profligates as Brown and Coleby believed before a whole parliament,
government, and private council." From the second letter, written on
August 15th, 1724, Monck Mason gives the following extracts:

"--When I returned to Dublin I met with resolutions concerning our
halfpence, founded chiefly on the testimony of two infamous persons,
John Brown and Coleby: as to the first of these, you will find his
character in the votes of the house of commons, last parliament.
Tuesday, the 5th of November.

"'Resolved, that it appears to this Committee, that a wicked conspiracy
was maliciously contrived and carried on against John Bingham, to take
away his life and fortune.

"'Resolved, that it is the opinion of this Committee, that the said John
Brown, of Rabens, Esq. and his accomplices, were the chief promoters and
advisers of the said conspiracy.

"'Resolved, that it is the opinion of this Committee, that the said John
Brown is a person not fit to serve his majesty, in any office or
employment, civil or military, whatsoever.

"'Resolved, that the said John Brown has, in the course of his
examination, grossly prevaricated with this Committee.

"'To all which resolutions, the question being severally put, the house
did agree, _nemine contradicente_.

"'Ordered, that the said John Brown be, for his said prevarication,
taken into the custody of the serjeant at arms attending this house.

"'Ordered, that his majesty's attorney-general do present the said John
Brown, for conniving and maliciously carrying on the said conspiracy to
take away the life of the said John Bingham, and others.'

"As to Coleby, he was turned out of the treasury for robbing it of a
considerable sum of money. I was present at his trial at the
King's-bench, and the evidence was such as convinced every one, in his
conscience, that he was guilty; but, the proofs being presumptive, and
not direct, the jury acquitted him; on which the judge (Pine, if I
remember right) observed the happiness of English subjects, that, though
everybody was convinced of a man's guilt, yet, if the evidence did not
come up to the strict requisites of the law, he would escape" ("History
of St. Patrick's Cathedral," pp. xciv-xcv.) [T.S.]]

But since I have gone so far as to mention particular persons, it may be
some satisfaction to know who is this Wood himself, that has the honour
to have a whole kingdom at his mercy, for almost two years together. I
find he is in the patent entitled _Esq_; although he were understood to
be only a hardware-man, and so I have been bold to call him in my former
letters; however a '_squire_ he is, not only by virtue of his patent,
but by having been a collector in Shropshire, where pretending to have
been robbed, and suing the county, he was cast, and for the infamy of
the fact, lost his employment.

I have heard another story of this 'Squire Wood from a very honourable
lady, that one Hamilton told her. He (Hamilton) was sent for six years
ago by Sir Isaac Newton to try the coinage of four men, who then
solicited a patent for coining halfpence for Ireland; their names were
Wood, Coster, Elliston, and Parker. Parker made the fairest offer, and
Wood the worst, for his coin were three halfpence in a pound less value
than the other. By which it is plain with what intentions he solicited
this patent, but not so plain how he obtained it.

It is alleged in the said paper, called the "Report," that upon repeated
orders from a secretary of state, for sending over such papers and
witnesses, as should be thought proper to support the objections made
against the patent (by both Houses of Parliament) the Lord Lieutenant
represented "the great difficulty he found himself in to comply with
these orders. That none of the principal members of both Houses, who
were in the King's service or council, would take upon them to advise
how any material person or papers might be sent over on this occasion,
&c." And this is often repeated and represented as "a proceeding that
seems very extraordinary, and that in a matter which had raised so great
a clamour in Ireland, no one person could be prevailed upon to come over
from Ireland in support of the united sense of both Houses of Parliament
in Ireland, especially that the chief difficulty should arise from a
general apprehension of a miscarriage, in an enquiry before His
Majesty, or in a proceeding by due course of law, in a case where both
Houses of Parliament had declared themselves so fully convinced, and
satisfied upon evidence, and examinations taken in the most solemn

[Footnote 4: Commenting on this Monck Mason has the following note. This
learned biographer's remarks are specially important inasmuch as he has
fortified them with letters from Archbishop King, unpublished at the
time he wrote: "But this [referring to the extract from the Report given
by Swift] will not appear so strange or inexplicable after perusing the
following letter from Archbishop King ... to Edward Southwell, Esq. ...;
this important state paper may, therefore, be considered as an official
communication of the sentiments of the Irish Privy Council upon this

"Letter from William King, Archbishop of Dublin, to Edward Southwell,
Esq., dated the 23d March, 1723.

"'I have not had any occasion of late to trouble you with my letters;
but yesternight I came to the knowledge of an affair which gave me some
uneasiness, and, I believe, will do so to the whole kingdom, when it
becomes public. My lord lieutenant sent for several lords and commoners
of the privy council, and communicated to them a letter from my Lord
Carteret, writ by his majesty's command, in which was repeated the
answer given to the addresses of the lords and commons, about one
William Wood's farthings and halfpence; and his grace is required to
send over witnesses and evidences against the patentee or patent: this
has surprised most people, because we were borne in hand that that
affair was dead, and that we should never hear any more of it.

"'His grace's design was, to be advised by what means and methods he
might effectually comply with his majesty's commands; and, by what I
could perceive, it was the sense of all, that it was not possible, in
the present situation of affairs, to answer his majesty's expectations
or those of the kingdom; and that, for these reasons:

"'1st, because this is a controversy between the parliament of Ireland
and William Wood, and, the parliament being now prorogued, nobody either
would, or durst, take on them to meddle in a business attacked by the
parliament, or pretend to manage a cause which so deeply concerned the
parliament, and the whole nation, without express orders. If this letter
had come whilst the parliament was sitting, and had been communicated to
the houses, they could have appointed certain persons to have acted for
them, and raised a fund to support them, as has been done formerly in
this kingdom on several occasions; but, for any, without such authority,
to make himself a party for the legislature and people of Ireland, would
be a bold undertaking, and, perhaps, dangerous; for, if such undertaker
or undertakers should fail in producing all evidences that may be had,
or any of the papers necessary to make the case evident, they must
expect to be severely handled the next parliament for their
officiousness, and bear the blame of the miscarriage of the cause: for
these reasons, as it seemed to me, the privy councillors were unwilling
to engage at all in the business, or to meddle with it.

"'But, 2dly, the thing seemed impracticable; because it would signify
nothing to send over the copies of the papers that were laid before the
parliament, if the design is, as it seems to be, to bring the patent to
a legal trial; for such copies we were told by lawyers, could not be
produced in any court as evidence; and, as to the originals, they are in
the possession of the houses, and (as was conceived) could not be taken
from the proper officers with whom they were trusted, but by the like

"'And, as to the witnesses, it was a query whether my lord lieutenant by
his own power could send them; and, if he have such power, yet it will
not be possible to come at the witnesses, for several in each house
vouched several facts on their own knowledge, to whom the houses gave
credit; my lord lieutenant can neither be apprised of the persons nor of
the particulars which the members testified; whereas, if the parliament
was sitting, those members would appear, and make good their assertions.

"'There were several sorts of farthings and halfpence produced to the
houses, differing in weight, and there was likewise a difference in the
stamp. These were sent over by William Wood to his correspondents here,
and by them produced. But can it be proved, on a legal trial, that these
particular halfpence were coined by him? It is easy for him to say, that
they are counterfeited, as (if I remember right) he has already affirmed
in the public prints, in his answer to the address of the commons.

"'But, 3dly, it was not on the illegality of the patent, nor chiefly on
the abuse of it the patentee (which was not so much as mentioned by the
lords), that the parliament insisted, but on the unavoidable mischief
and destruction it would bring on the kingdom, and on its being obtained
by most false and notorious misinformation of his majesty; it being
suggested, as appears by the preamble, that the kingdom wanted such
halfpence and farthings: now, if the king be misinformed, the lawyers
tell us, that the grant is void. And, that his majesty was deceived in
this grant by a false representation, it was said, needed no further
proof than the patent itself.--William Wood by it was empowered to coin
360 tons of copper into halfpence and farthings, which would have made
£90,000, about the fifth part of all the current cash of Ireland; for
that is not reckoned, by those who suppose it most, to be £500,000. Now,
the current cash of England is reckoned above twenty millions; in
proportion, therefore, if Ireland wants £90,000 England will want four
millions. It is easy to imagine what would be said to a man that would
propose to his majesty such a coinage; and it is agreed, that the people
of England would not be more alarmed by such a patent, than the people
of Ireland are, by the prospect of turning the fifth part of their
current coin into brass.

"'This, so far as I can remember, is a brief of what passed in the
meeting before my lord lieutenant'" ("History of St. Patrick's
Cathedral," pp. lxxxvii-lxxxviii). [T.S.]]

How shall I, a poor ignorant shopkeeper, utterly unskilled in law, be
able to answer so weighty an objection. I will try what can be done by
plain reason, unassisted by art, cunning or eloquence.

In my humble opinion, the committee of council, hath already prejudged
the whole case, by calling the united sense of both Houses of
Parliament in Ireland an "universal clamour." Here the addresses of the
Lords and Commons of Ireland against a ruinous destructive project of an
"obscure, single undertaker," is called a "clamour." I desire to know
how such a style would be resented in England from a committee of
council there to a Parliament, and how many impeachments would follow
upon it. But supposing the appellation to be proper, I never heard of a
wise minister who despised the universal clamour of a people, and if
that clamour can be quieted by disappointing the fraudulent practice of
a single person, the purchase is not exorbitant.

But in answer to this objection. First it is manifest, that if this
coinage had been in Ireland, with such limitations as have been formerly
specified in other patents, and granted to persons of this kingdom, or
even of England, able to give sufficient security, few or no
inconveniencies could have happened, which might not have been
immediately remedied. As to Mr. Knox's patent mentioned in the Report,
security was given into the exchequer, that the patentee should at any
time receive his halfpence back, and pay gold or silver in exchange for
them. And Mr. Moor (to whom I suppose that patent was made over) was in
1694 forced to leave off coining, before the end of that year, by the
great crowds of people continually offering to return his coinage upon
him. In 1698 he coined again, and was forced to give over for the same
reason. This entirely alters the case; for there is no such condition in
Wood's patent, which condition was worth a hundred times all other
limitations whatsoever.[5]

[Footnote 5: It will serve to elucidate this paragraph if an account be
given of the various coinage patents issued for Ireland. Monck Mason
gives an account in a long note to his biography of Swift; but as he has
obtained it from the very ably written tract, "A Defence of the Conduct
of the People of Ireland," etc., I have gone to that pamphlet for the
present _résumé_. I quote from pp. 21-24 of the Dublin edition, issued
in 1724 and printed by George Ewing:

"K. Charles 2d. 1660 granted a patent for coining only farthings for the
kingdom of Ireland to Coll. Armstrong: But I do not find he ever made
any use of it.[A] For all our copper and brass money to the year 1680
was issued by private persons, who obtained particular licences, _on
giving security to change their half-pence and farthings for gold and
silver_; but some of their securities failing, others pretending the
half-pence which were tendered to be changed were counterfeits, the
public always suffered. Col. Armstrong's son, finding great profit was
made by coining half-pence in Ireland, by virtue of particular licences
recallable at pleasure, solicited and obtained a patent in the name of
George Legg afterwards Lord Dartmouth, for coining half-pence for
Ireland from 1680, for 21 years, _he giving security to exchange them
for gold or silver on demand_.[B] In pursuance of this he coined
considerable quantities of half-pence for four years; but in 1685 [John]
Knox, with the consent of Armstrong, got the remaining part of this term
granted by patent in his own name, he giving security as above, and got
his half-pence declared the current coin of Ireland, notwithstanding two
Acts of Parliament had enacted that they should not be received in the
revenue. Knox was interrupted in his coinage in 1689, by King James's
taking it into his own hands, to coin his famous brass money, of which
he coined no less than £965,375, three penny worth of metal passing for
£10 _ster_. In this money creditors were obliged to receive their debts,
and by this cruel stratagem Ireland lost about £60,000 per month. This
not only made our gold and silver, but even our half-pence to disappear;
which obliged King William to coin pewter half-pence for the use of his

[Footnote A: Monck Mason, quoting Simon "On Irish Coins" (Append., No.
LXV), says: "Sir Thomas [Armstrong] was never admitted to make use of
this grant, nor could he obtain allowance of the chief governor of
Ireland, to issue them as royal coin among the subjects of that

[Footnote B: "A proclamation was issued by the lord lieutenant,
declaring these half-pence to be the current coin of the kingdom, but it
provided that none should be enforced to take more than five shillings
in the payment of one hundred pounds, and so proportionately in all
greater and lesser sums.... This patent was granted, by and with, the
advice of James, Duke of Ormond" (Monck Mason, "History of St.
Patrick's," p. 334, note y).]

"After the Revolution, Col. Roger Moore being possessed of Knox's
patent, commenced his coinage in Dublin, and at first kept several
offices for changing his half-pence for gold or silver. He soon
overstocked the kingdom so with copper money, that persons were obliged
to receive large sums in it; for the officers of the crown were
industrious dispensers of it, for which he allowed them a premium. It
was common at that time for one to compound for 1/4 copper, and the
collectors paid nothing else. The country being thus overcharged with a
base coin, everyone tendered it to Col. Moore to be changed. This he
refused, on pretence they were counterfeits.... On this he quitted
coining in 1698, but left us in a miserable condition, which is lively
represented in a Memorial presented by Will. Trench, Esq. to the Lords
of the Treasury, on Mr. Wood's obtaining his patent, and which our
Commissioners referred to.... Col. Moore finding the sweet of such a
patent, applied to King William for a renewal of it; but his petition
being referred to the government of Ireland, the affair was fairly
represented to the king, whereby his designs were frustrated.

"In the reign of the late Queen, application was made by Robert Baird
and William Harnill, Trustees for the garrison which defended
Londonderry, for a patent to coin base money for Ireland ... their
petition was rejected.... Since this time there have been many
applications made for such patents." [T.S.]]

Put the case, that the two Houses of Lords and Commons of England, and
the Privy-council there should address His Majesty to recall a patent,
from whence they apprehend the most ruinous consequences to the whole
kingdom: And to make it stronger if possible, that the whole nation,
almost to a man, should thereupon discover the "most dismal
apprehensions" (as Mr. Wood styles them) would His Majesty debate half
an hour what he had to do? Would any minister dare advise him against
recalling such a patent? Or would the matter be referred to the
Privy-Council or to Westminster-hall, the two Houses of Parliament
plaintiffs, and William Wood defendant? And is there even the smallest
difference between the two cases?

Were not the people of Ireland born as free as those of England? How
have they forfeited their freedom? Is not their Parliament as fair a
representative of the people as that of England? And hath not their
Privy-council as great or a greater share in the administration of
public affairs? Are they not subjects of the same King? Does not the
same sun shine on them? And have they not the same God for their
protector? Am I a freeman in England, and do I become a slave in six
hours by crossing the Channel? No wonder then, if the boldest persons
were cautious to interpose in a matter already determined by the whole
voice of the nation, or to presume to represent the representatives of
the kingdom, and were justly apprehensive of meeting such a treatment as
they would deserve at the next session. It would seem very extraordinary
if an inferior court in England, should take a matter out of the hands
of the high court of Parliament, during a prorogation, and decide it
against the opinion of both Houses.

It happens however, that, although no persons were so bold, as to go
over as evidences, to prove the truth of the objections made against
this patent by the high court of Parliament here, yet these objections
stand good, notwithstanding the answers made by Wood and his Council.

The Report says, that "upon an assay made of the fineness, weight and
value of this copper, it exceeded in every article." This is possible
enough in the pieces upon which the assay was made; but Wood must have
failed very much in point of dexterity, if he had not taken care to
provide a sufficient quantity of such halfpence as would bear the trial;
which he was well able to do, although "they were taken out of several
parcels." Since it is now plain, that the bias of favour hath been
wholly on his side.[6]

[Footnote 6: The report of the assayers as abstracted by the Lords of
the Committee in their report is not accurately stated. Monck Mason
notes that the abstract omits the following passage: "But although the
copper was very good, and the money, one piece with another, was full
weight, yet the single pieces were not so equally coined in the weight
as they should have been." Nor is it shown that the coins assayed were
of the same kind as those sent into Ireland. The Committee's report
fails to see the question that must arise when it is noted that while in
England a pound of copper was made into twenty-three pence, yet for
Ireland Wood was permitted to make it into thirty pence, in spite of the
statement that the copper used in England was worth fivepence a pound
more than that used by Wood. [T.S.]]

But what need is there of disputing, when we have positive demonstration
of Wood's fraudulent practices in this point? I have seen a large
quantity of these halfpence weighed by a very skilful person, which were
of four different kinds, three of them considerably under weight. I have
now before me an exact computation of the difference of weight between
these four sorts, by which it appears that the fourth sort, or the
lightest, differs from the first to a degree, that, in the coinage of
three hundred and sixty tons of copper, the patentee will be a gainer,
only by that difference, of twenty-four thousand four hundred and
ninety-four pounds, and in the whole, the public will be a loser of
eighty-two thousand one hundred and sixty-eight pounds, sixteen
shillings, even supposing the metal in point of goodness to answer
Wood's contract and the assay that hath been made; which it infallibly
doth not. For this point hath likewise been enquired into by very
experienced men, who, upon several trials in many of these halfpence,
have found them to be at least one fourth part below the real value (not
including the raps or counterfeits that he or his accomplices have
already made of his own coin, and scattered about). Now the coinage of
three hundred and sixty ton of copper coined by the weight of the fourth
or lightest sort of his halfpence will amount to one hundred twenty-two
thousand four hundred eighty-eight pounds, sixteen shillings, and if we
subtract a fourth part of the real value by the base mixture in the
metal, we must add to the public loss one fourth part to be subtracted
from the intrinsic value of the copper, which in three hundred and sixty
tons amounts to ten thousand and eighty pounds, and this added to the
former sum of eighty-two thousand one hundred sixty-eight pounds,
sixteen shillings, will make in all, ninety-two thousand two hundred
forty-eight pounds loss to the public; besides the raps or counterfeits
that he may at any time hereafter think fit to coin. Nor do I know
whether he reckons the dross exclusive or inclusive with his three
hundred and sixty ton of copper; which however will make a considerable
difference in the account.

You will here please to observe, that the profit allowed to Wood by the
patent is twelvepence out of every pound of copper valued at _1s. 6d_.
whereas _5d_. only is allowed for coinage of a pound weight for the
English halfpence, and this difference is almost 25 _per cent_. which is
double to the highest exchange of money, even under all the additional
pressures, and obstructions to trade, that this unhappy kingdom lies at
present. This one circumstance in the coinage of three hundred and sixty
ton of copper makes a difference of twenty-seven thousand seven hundred
and twenty pounds between English and Irish halfpence, even allowing
those of Wood to be all of the heaviest sort.

It is likewise to be considered, that for every halfpenny in a pound
weight exceeding the number directed by the patent, Wood will be a
gainer in the coinage of three hundred and sixty ton of copper, sixteen
hundred and eighty pounds profit more than the patent allows him; Out of
which he may afford to make his comptrollers easy upon that article.

As to what is alleged, that "these halfpence far exceed the like coinage
for Ireland in the reigns of His Majesty's predecessors;" there cannot
well be a more exceptionable way of arguing: Although the fact were
true, which however is altogether mistaken; not by any fault in the
Committee, but by the fraud and imposition of Wood, who certainly
produced the worst patterns he could find, such as were coined in small
numbers by permissions to private men, as butchers' halfpence, black
dogs and the like, or perhaps the small St. Patrick's coin which passes
for a farthing, or at best some of the smallest raps of the latest kind.
For I have now by me some halfpence coined in the year 1680 by virtue of
the patent granted to my Lord Dartmouth, which was renewed to Knox, and
they are heavier by a ninth part than those of Wood, and in much better
metal. And the great St. Patrick's halfpenny is yet larger than either.

But what is all this to the present debate? If under the various
exigencies of former times, by wars, rebellions, and insurrections, the
Kings of England were sometimes forced to pay their armies here with
mixed or base money, God forbid that the necessities of turbulent times
should be a precedent for times of peace, and order, and settlement.

In the patent above mentioned granted to Lord Dartmouth, in the reign of
King Charles 2d. and renewed to Knox, the securities given into the
exchequer, obliging the patentee to receive his money back upon every
demand, were an effectual remedy against all inconveniencies. And the
copper was coined in our own kingdom, so that we were in no danger to
purchase it with the loss of all our silver and gold carried over to
another, nor to be at the trouble of going to England for the redressing
of any abuse.

That the Kings of England have exercised their prerogative of coining
copper for Ireland and for England is not the present question: But (to
speak in the style of the Report) it would "seem a little
extraordinary," supposing a King should think fit to exercise his
prerogative by coining copper in Ireland, to be current in England,
without referring it to his officers in that kingdom to be informed
whether the grant was reasonable, and whether the people desired it or
no, and without regard to the addresses of his Parliament against it.
God forbid that so mean a man as I should meddle with the King's
prerogative: But I have heard very wise men say, that the King's
prerogative is bounded and limited by the good and welfare of his
people. I desire to know, whether it is not understood and avowed that
the good of Ireland was intended by this patent. But Ireland is not
consulted at all in the matter, and as soon as Ireland is informed of
it, they declare against it; the two Houses of Parliament and the
Privy-council addresses His Majesty upon the mischiefs apprehended by
such a patent. The Privy-council in England takes the matter out of the
Parliament's cognizance; the good of the kingdom is dropped, and it is
now determined that Mr. Wood shall have the power of ruining a whole
nation for his private advantage.

I never can suppose that such patents as these were originally granted
with the view of being a job for the interest of a particular person, to
the damage of the public: Whatever profit must arise to the patentee was
surely meant at best but as a secondary motive, and since somebody must
be a gainer, the choice of the person was made either by favour, or
_something else_[7] or by the pretence of merit and honesty. This
argument returns so often and strongly into my head, that I cannot
forbear frequently repeating it. Surely His Majesty, when he consented
to the passing of this patent, conceived he was doing an act of grace to
his most loyal subjects of Ireland, without any regard to Mr. Wood,
farther than as an instrument. But the people of Ireland think this
patent (intended _no doubt_ for their good) to be a most intolerable
grievance, and therefore Mr. Wood can never succeed, without an open
avowal that his profit is preferred not only before the interests, but
the very safety and being of a great kingdom; and a kingdom
distinguished for its loyalty, perhaps above all others upon earth. Not
turned from its duty by the "jurisdiction of the House of Lords,
abolished at a stroke, by the hardships of the Act of Navigation newly
enforced; By all possible obstructions in trade," and by a hundred
other instances, "enough to fill this paper." Nor was there ever among
us the least attempt towards an insurrection in favour of the Pretender.
Therefore whatever justice a free people can claim we have at least an
equal title to it with our brethren in England, and whatever grace a
good prince can bestow on the most loyal subjects, we have reason to
expect it: Neither hath this kingdom any way deserved to be sacrificed
to one "single, rapacious, obscure, ignominious projector."

[Footnote 7: A hint at the Duchess of Kendal's influence in the
procuring of the patent. [T.S.]]

Among other clauses mentioned in this patent, to shew how advantageous
it is to Ireland, there is one which seems to be of a singular nature,
that the patentee shall be obliged, during his term, "to pay eight
hundred pounds a year to the crown, and two hundred pounds a year to the
comptroller."[8] I have heard indeed that the King's council do always
consider, in the passing of a patent, whether it will be of advantage to
the crown, but I have likewise heard that it is at the same time
considered whether the passing of it may be injurious to any other
persons or bodies politic. However, although the attorney and solicitor
be servants to the King, and therefore bound to consult His Majesty's
interest, yet I am under some doubt whether eight hundred pounds a year
to the crown would be equivalent to the ruin of a kingdom. It would be
far better for us to have paid eight thousand pounds a year into His
Majesty's coffers, in the midst of all our taxes (which, in proportion,
are greater in this kingdom than ever they were in England, even during
the war) than purchase such an addition to the revenue at the price of
our _utter undoing_.

[Footnote 8: By the terms of the patent, Wood covenanted to pay to the
King's clerk, or comptroller of the coinage, £200 yearly, and £100 per
annum into his Majesty's exchequer, and not as Walpole's report has it,
£800 and £200. [T.S.]]

But here it is plain that fourteen thousand pounds are to be paid by
Wood, only as a small circumstantial charge for the purchase of his
patent, what were his other visible costs I know not, and what were his
latent, is variously conjectured. But he must be surely a man of some
wonderful merit. Hath he saved any other kingdom at his own expense, to
give him a title of reimbursing himself by the destruction of ours? Hath
he discovered the longitude or the universal medicine? No. But he hath
found out the philosopher's stone after a new manner, by debasing of
copper, and resolving to force it upon us for gold.

When the two Houses represented to His Majesty, that this patent to Wood
was obtained in a clandestine manner, surely the Committee could not
think the Parliament would insinuate that it had not passed in the
common forms, and run through every office where fees and perquisites
were due. They knew very well that persons in places were no enemies to
grants, and that the officers of the crown could not be kept in the
dark. But the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland[9] affirmed it was a
secret to him (and who will doubt of his veracity, especially when he
swore to a person of quality; from whom I had it, that Ireland should
never be troubled with these halfpence). It was a secret to the people
of Ireland, who were to be the only sufferers, and those who best knew
the state of the kingdom and were most able to advise in such an affair,
were wholly strangers to it.

[Footnote 9: The Duke of Grafton. Walpole called him "a fair-weather
pilot, that knew not what he had to do, when the first storm arose."
Charles, second Duke of Grafton (1683-1757), was the grandfather of the
third duke, so virulently attacked by Junius in his famous letters. [T.

It is allowed by the Report that this patent was passed without the
knowledge of the chief governor or officers of Ireland; and it is there
elaborately shewn, that "former patents have passed in the same manner,
and are good in law." I shall not dispute the legality of patents, but
am ready to suppose it in His Majesty's power to grant a patent for
stamping round bits of copper to every subject he hath. Therefore to lay
aside the point of law, I would only put the question, whether in reason
and justice it would not have been proper, in an affair upon which the
welfare of a kingdom depends, that the said kingdom should have received
timely notice, and the matter not be carried on between the patentee and
the officers of the Crown, who were to be the only gainers by it.

The Parliament, who in matters of this nature are the most able and
faithful counsellors, did represent this grant to be "destructive of
trade, and dangerous to the properties of the people," to which the only
answer is, that "the King hath a prerogative to make such a grant."

It is asserted that in the patent to Knox, his "halfpence, are made and
declared the current coin of the kingdom," whereas in this to Wood,
there is only a "power given to issue them to such as will receive
them." The authors of the Report, I think, do not affirm that the King
can by law declare _anything_ to be current money by his
letters-patents. I dare say they will not affirm it, and if Knox's
patent contained in it powers contrary to law, why is it mentioned as a
precedent in His Majesty's just and merciful reign:[10] But although
that clause be not in Wood's patent, yet possibly there are others, the
legality whereof may be equally doubted, and particularly that, whereby
"a power is given to William Wood to break into houses in search of any
coin made in imitation of his." This may perhaps be affirmed to be
illegal and dangerous to the liberty of the subject. Yet this is a
precedent taken from Knox's patent, where the same power is granted, and
is a strong instance what uses may be sometimes made of precedents.

[Footnote 10: Knox's patent, as Monck Mason points out, did not contain
the right to have his coins pass as the current coin of the realm; that
was permitted by a proclamation of the lord lieutenant, and could in the
same manner be withdrawn. Knox's patent differed materially from that
granted to Wood, since he was obliged to take back his coins and give
gold or silver for them, and no one was compelled to take more than five
shillings in the payment of each £100. See note, p. 66. [T.S.]]

But although before the passing of this patent, it was not thought
necessary to consult any persons of this kingdom, or make the least
enquiry whether copper money were wanted among us; yet now at length,
when the matter is over, when the patent hath long passed, when Wood
hath already coined seventeen thousand pounds, and hath his tools and
implements prepared to coin six times as much more; the Committee hath
been pleased to make this affair the subject of enquiry. Wood is
permitted to produce his evidences, which consist as I have already
observed, of four in number, whereof Coleby, Brown and Mr. Finley the
banker are three. And these were to prove that copper money was
extremely wanted in Ireland. The first had been out of the kingdom
almost twenty years, from the time that he was tried for robbing the
treasury, and therefore his knowledge and credibility are equal. The
second may be allowed a more knowing witness, because I think it is not
above a year since the House of Commons ordered the Attorney-general to
prosecute him, for endeavouring "to take away the life of John Bingham
Esq; member of parliaments by perjury and subornation." He asserted that
he was forced to tally with his labourers for want of small money (which
hath often been practised in England by Sir Ambrose Crawley[11] and
others) but those who knew him better give a different reason, (if there
be any truth at all in the fact) that he was forced to tally with his
labourers not for want of halfpence, but of more substantial money,
which is highly possible, because the race of suborners, forgers,
perjurers and ravishers, are usually people of no fortune, or of those
who have run it out by their vices and profuseness. Mr. Finley the third
witness honestly confessed, that he was ignorant whether Ireland wanted
copper money or no; but all his intention was to buy a certain quantity
from Wood at a large discount, and sell them as well as he could, by
which he hoped to get two or three thousand pounds for himself.

[Footnote 11: Ambrose Crowley (not Crawley) was alderman and sheriff of
London. He was knighted January 1st, 1706-1707, and sat in the House of
Commons as member for Andover in 1713-1714. [T.S.]]

But suppose there were not one single halfpenny of copper coin in this
whole kingdom (which Mr. Wood seems to intend, unless we will come to
his terms, as appears by employing his emissaries to buy up our old ones
at a penny in the shilling more than they pass for), it could not be any
real evil to us, although it might be some inconvenience. We have many
sorts of small silver coins, to which they are strangers in England,
such as the French threepences, fourpence halfpennies and eightpence
half-pennies, the Scotch fivepences and tenpences, besides their
twenty-pences, and three-and-four-pences, by all which we are able to
make change to a halfpenny of almost any piece of gold or silver, and if
we are driven to Brown's expedient of a sealed card, with the little
gold or silver still remaining, it will I suppose, be somewhat better
than to have nothing left but Wood's adulterated copper, which he is
neither obliged by his patent, nor hitherto able by his estate to make

The Report farther tells us, it "must be admitted that letters-patents
under the Great Seal of Great Britain for coining copper money for
Ireland are legal and obligatory, a just and reasonable exercise of His
Majesty's royal prerogative, and in no manner derogatory or invasive of
any liberty or privilege of his subjects of Ireland." First we desire to
know, why His Majesty's prerogative might not have been as well
asserted, by passing this patent in Ireland, and subjecting the several
conditions of the contract to the inspection of those who are only
concerned, as was formerly done in the only precedents for patents
granted for coining for this kingdom, since the mixed money[12] in Queen
Elizabeth's time, during the difficulties of a rebellion: Whereas now
upon the greatest imposition that can possibly be practised, we must go
to England with our complaints, where it hath been for some time the
fashion to think and to affirm that "we cannot be too hardly used."
Again the Report says, that "such patents are obligatory." After long
thinking, I am not able to find out what can possibly be meant here by
this word _obligatory_. This patent of Wood neither obligeth him to
utter his coin, nor us to take it, or if it did the latter, it would be
so far void, because no patent can oblige the subject against law,
unless an illegal patent passed in one kingdom can bind another and not

[Footnote 12: "Civill warre having set all Ireland in a combustion, the
Queene [Elizabeth] more easily to subdue the rebels, did take silver
coyne from the Irish, some few years before her death, and paid her army
with a mixed base coyne, which, by proclamation, was commanded to be
spent and received, for sterling silver money. This base mixed money had
three parts of copper, and the fourth part of silver, which proportion
of silver was in some part consumed by the mixture, so as the English
goldsmiths valued a shilling thereof at no more than two silver pence,
though they acknowledged the same to be worth two pence halfpenny."
(Fynes Moryson's "Itinerary," pt. i., p. 283). [T.S.]]

Lastly, it is added that "such patents are in no manner derogatory or
invasive of any liberty or privilege of the King's subjects of Ireland."
If this proposition be true, as it is here laid down, without any
limitation either expressed or implied, it must follow that a King of
England may at any time coin copper money for Ireland, and oblige his
subjects here to take a piece of copper under the value of half a
farthing for half-a-crown, as was practised by the late King James, and
even without that arbitrary prince's excuse, from the necessity and
exigences of his affairs. If this be in no manner "derogatory nor
evasive of any liberties or privileges of the subjects of Ireland," it
ought to have been expressed what our liberties and privileges are, and
whether we have any at all, for in specifying the word _Ireland_,
instead of saying "His Majesty's subjects," it would seem to insinuate
that we are not upon the same foot with our fellow-subjects in
_England_; which, however the practice may have been, I hope will never
be directly asserted, for I do not understand that Poining's act[13]
deprived us of our liberty, but only changed the manner of passing laws
here (which however was a power most indirectly obtained) by leaving the
negative to the two Houses of Parliament. But, waiving all controversies
relating to the legislature, no person, I believe, was ever yet so bold
as to affirm that the people of Ireland have not the same title to the
benefits of the common law, with the rest of His Majesty's subjects, and
therefore whatever liberties or privileges the people of England enjoy
by common law, we of Ireland have the same; so that in my humble
opinion, the word _Ireland_ standing in that proposition, was, in the
mildest interpretation, _a lapse of the pen_.

[Footnote 13: It was not intended that Poyning's act should interfere
with the liberty of the people, but it is undoubted that advantage was
taken of this law, and an interpretation put on it far different from
the intention that brought it on the statute books. It was passed by a
parliament convened by Sir Edward Poyning, at Drogheda, in the tenth
year of Henry VII.'s reign. Its immediate cause was the invasion of
Perkin Warbeck. That pretender assumed royal authority in Ireland and
had several statutes passed during his short-lived term of power. To
prevent any viceroy from arrogating to himself the powers of law-making
it was enacted by Poyning's parliament:

"That no parliament be holden hereafter in Ireland, but at such season
as the King's lieutenant and counsaile there first do certifie the King,
under the Great Seal of that land, the causes and considerations, and
all such acts as them seemeth should pass in the same parliament, and
such causes, considerations, and acts affirmed by the King and his
counsaile to be good and expedient for that land, and his licence
thereupon, as well in affirmation of the said causes and acts, as to
summon the said parliament, under his Great Seal of England had and
obtained; that done, a parliament to be had and holden as afore
rehearsed" ("Irish Statutes," vol. i., p. 44).

Two statutes, one, the Act of 3 and 4 Phil., and Mary, cap. 4, and the
other of II Eliz. Ses. 3, cap. 8, explain this act further, and the
latter points out the reason for the original enactment, namely, that
"before this statute, when liberty was given to the governors to call
parliaments at their pleasure, acts passed as well to the dishonour of
the prince, as to the hindrance of their subjects" ("Irish Statutes,"
vol. i., p. 346).

"By Poyning's Law," says Lecky, "a great part of the independence of
the Irish Parliament had indeed been surrendered; but even the servile
Parliament which passed it, though extending by its own authority to
Ireland laws previously enacted in England, never admitted the right of
the English Parliament to make laws for Ireland." ("Hist. Ireland," vol.
ii., p. 154; 1892 ed). [T.S.]]

The Report farther asserts, that "the precedents are many, wherein cases
of great importance to Ireland, and that immediately affected the
interests of that kingdom, warrants, orders, and directions by the
authority of the King and his predecessors, have been issued under the
royal sign manual, without any previous reference or advice of His
Majesty's officers of Ireland, which have always had their due force,
and have been punctually complied with, and obeyed." It may be so, and I
am heartily sorry for it, because it may prove an eternal source of
discontent. However among all these precedents there is not one of a
patent for coining money for Ireland.

There is nothing hath perplexed me more than this doctrine of
precedents. If a job is to be done, and upon searching records you find
it hath been done before, there will not want a lawyer to justify the
legality of it, by producing his precedents, without ever considering
the motives and circumstances that first introduced them, the necessity
or turbulence or iniquity of times, the corruptions of ministers, or the
arbitrary disposition of the prince then reigning. And I have been told
by persons eminent in the law, that the worst actions which human nature
is capable of, may be justified by the same doctrine. How the first
precedents began of determining cases of the highest importance to
Ireland, and immediately affecting its interest, without any previous
reference or advice to the King's officers here, may soon be accounted
for. Before this kingdom was entirely reduced by the submission of
Tyrone in the last year of Queen Elizabeth's reign, there was a period
of four hundred years, which was a various scene of war and peace
between the English pale and the Irish natives, and the government of
that part of this island which lay in the English hands, was, in many
things under the immediate administration of the King. Silver and copper
were often coined here among us, and once at least upon great necessity,
a mixed or base metal was sent from England. The reign of King James
Ist. was employed in settling the kingdom after Tyrone's rebellion, and
this nation flourished extremely till the time of the massacre 1641. In
that difficult juncture of affairs, the nobility and gentry coined their
own plate here in Dublin.

By all that I can discover, the copper coin of Ireland for three hundred
years past consisted of small pence and halfpence, which particular men
had licence to coin, and were current only within certain towns and
districts, according to the personal credit of the owner who uttered
them, and was bound to receive them again, whereof I have seen many
sorts; neither have I heard of any patent granted for coining copper for
Ireland till the reign of King Charles II. which was in the year 1680.
to George Legge Lord Dartmouth, and renewed by King James II. in the
first year of his reign to John Knox. Both patents were passed in
Ireland, and in both the patentees were obliged to receive their coin
again to any that would offer then twenty shillings of it, for which
they were obliged to pay gold or silver.

The patents both of Lord Dartmouth and Knox were referred to the
Attorney-general here, and a report made accordingly, and both, as I
have already said, were passed in this kingdom. Knox had only a patent
for the remainder of the term granted to Lord Dartmouth, the patent
expired in 1701, and upon a petition by Roger Moor to have it renewed,
the matter was referred hither, and upon the report of the attorney and
solicitor, that it was not for His Majesty's service or the interest of
the nation to have it renewed, it was rejected by King William. It
should therefore seem very extraordinary, that a patent for coining
copper halfpence, intended and professed for the good of the kingdom,
should be passed without once consulting that kingdom, for the good of
which it is declared to be intended, and this upon the application of a
"poor, private obscure mechanic;" and a patent of such a nature, that as
soon as ever the kingdom is informed of its being passed, they cry out
unanimously against it as ruinous and destructive. The representative
of the nation in Parliament, and the Privy-council address the King to
have it recalled; yet the patentee, such a one as I have described,
shall prevail to have this patent approved, and his private interest
shall weigh down the application of a whole kingdom. St. Paul says, "All
things are lawful, but all things are not expedient." We are answered
that this patent is lawful, but is it expedient? We read that the
high-priest said "It was expedient that one Man should die for the
people;" and this was a most wicked proposition. But that a whole nation
should die for one man, was never heard of before.

But because much weight is laid on the precedents of other patents, for
coining copper for Ireland, I will set this matter in as clear a light
as I can. Whoever hath read the Report, will be apt to think, that a
dozen precedents at least could be produced of copper coined for
Ireland, by virtue of patents passed in England, and that the coinage
was there too; whereas I am confident, there cannot be one precedent
shewn of a patent passed in England for coining copper for Ireland, for
above an hundred years past, and if there were any before, it must be in
times of confusion. The only patents I could ever hear of, are those
already mentioned to Lord Dartmouth and Knox; the former in 1680. and
the latter in 1685. Now let us compare these patents with that granted
to Wood. First, the patent to Knox, which was under the same conditions
as that granted to Lord Dartmouth, was passed in Ireland, the government
and the Attorney and Solicitor-general making report that it would be
useful to this kingdom: [The patentee was obliged to make every
halfpenny one hundred and ten grains Troy weight, whereby _2s. 2d_. only
could be coined out of a pound of copper.][14] The patent was passed
with the advice of the King's council here; The patentee was obliged to
receive his coin from those who thought themselves surcharged, and to
give gold and silver for it; Lastly, The patentee was to pay only _16l.
13s. 4d. per ann._ to the crown. Then, as to the execution of that
patent. First, I find the halfpence were milled, which, as it is of
great use to prevent counterfeits (and therefore industriously avoided
by Wood) so it was an addition to the charge of coinage. And for the
weight and goodness of the metal; I have several halfpence now by me,
many of which weigh a ninth part more than those coined by Wood, and
bear the fire and hammer a great deal better; and which is no trifle,
the impression fairer and deeper. I grant indeed, that many of the
latter coinage yield in weight to some of Wood's, by a fraud natural to
such patentees; but not so immediately after the grant, and before the
coin grew current: For in this circumstance Mr. Wood must serve for a
precedent in future times.

[Footnote 14: The portion here in square brackets was printed in the
fourth edition of this Letter and in the work entitled, "Fraud
Detected." It is not given in Faulkner's first collected edition issued
in 1735, nor in "The Hibernian Patriot," issued in 1730. [T.S.]]

Let us now examine this new patent granted to William Wood. It passed
upon very false suggestions of his own, and of a few confederates: It
passed in England, without the least reference hither. It passed unknown
to the very Lord Lieutenant, then in England. Wood is empowered to coin
one hundred and eight thousand pounds, "and all the officers in the
kingdom (civil and military) are commanded" in the Report to countenance
and assist him. Knox had only power to utter what we would take, and was
obliged "to receive his coin back again at our demand," and to "enter
into security for so doing." Wood's halfpence are not milled, and
therefore more easily counterfeited by himself as well as by others:
Wood pays a thousand pounds _per ann._ for 14 years, Knox paid only
_16l. 13s. 4d. per ann._ for 21 years.

It was the Report that set me the example of making a comparison between
those two patents, wherein the committee was grossly misled by the false
representation of William Wood, as it was by another assertion, that
seven hundred ton of copper were coined during the 21 years of Lord
Dartmouth's and Knox's patents. Such a quantity of copper at the rate of
_2s. 8d. per_ pound would amount to about an hundred and ninety thousand
pounds, which was very near as much as the current cash of the kingdom
in those days; yet, during that period, Ireland was never known to have
too much copper coin, and for several years there was no coining at all:
Besides I am assured, that upon enquiring into the custom-house books,
all the copper imported into the kingdom, from 1683 to 1692, which
includes 8 years of the 21 (besides one year allowed for the troubles)
did not exceed 47 tons, and we cannot suppose even that small quantity
to have been wholly applied to coinage: So that I believe there was
never any comparison more unluckily made or so destructive of the design
for which it was produced.

The Psalmist reckons it an effect of God's anger, when "He selleth His
people for nought, and taketh no money for them." That we have greatly
offended God by the wickedness of our lives is not to be disputed: But
our King we have not offended in word or deed; and although he be God's
vicegerent upon earth, he will not punish us for any offences, except
those which we shall commit against his legal authority, his sacred
person (which God preserve) or the laws of the land.

The Report is very profuse in arguments, that Ireland is in great want
of copper money.[15] Who were the witnesses to prove it, hath been shewn
already, but in the name of God, Who are to be judges? Does not the
nation best know its own wants? Both Houses of Parliament, the
Privy-council and the whole body of the people declare the contrary: Or
let the wants be what they will, We desire they may not be supplied by
Mr. Wood. We know our own wants but too well; they are many and grievous
to be borne, but quite of another kind. Let England be satisfied: As
things go, they will in a short time have all our gold and silver, and
may keep their adulterate copper at home, for we are determined not to
purchase it with our manufactures, which Wood hath graciously offered to
accept. Our wants are not so bad by an hundredth part as the method he
hath taken to supply them. He hath already tried his faculty in
New-England,[16] and I hope he will meet at least with an equal
reception here; what _that_ was I leave to public intelligence. I am
supposing a wild case, that if there should be any person already
receiving a monstrous pension out of this kingdom, who was instrumental
in procuring this patent, they have either not well consulted their own
interests, or Wood must[17] put more dross into his copper and still
diminish its weight.

[Footnote 15: On this subject of the want of small money in Ireland,
Monck Mason traverses the Report in the following manner:

"There appears to be a manifest prevarication in their lordships' report
upon this part of the subject; they state, that the witnesses testified,
that there was a want of small money in Ireland; they attempt,
therefore, to impose a copper currency, which certainly was not wanted.
To satisfy the reader upon this point, I shall quote, from the
unpublished correspondence of Archbishop King, the following extracts:
the first, from his letter to General Gorge, dated the 17th October,
1724, is to the following purpose.

"'... As to our wanting halfpence for change, it is most false; we have
more halfpence than we need, already; it is true, we want change; but it
is sixpences, shillings, half-crowns, and crowns; our silver and our
guineas being almost gone; and the general current coin of the kingdom
is now moydores, which are thirty shillings a-piece; at least nine pence
above the value in silver: now, they would have us change these for
halfpence, and so the whole cash of the kingdom would be these
halfpence.' ...

"But the true state of the case, as to coin, is more circumstantially
developed in the following letter of the same prelate to Mr. Southwell,
which was written a few months before, viz., on the 9th June, 1724.

"'... And yet, after all, we want change, and I will take leave to
acquaint you with the state of this kingdom as to coin. We used to have
hardly any money passing here, but foreign ducatoons, plate pieces,
perns, dollars, etc. but, when the East India Company were forbid
sending the coin of England abroad, they continued to buy up all our
foreign coin, and give us English money in lieu of some part of it; by
which we lost twopence in every ounce, the consequence of this was, that
in two years there was not to be seen in Ireland a piece of foreign

"'If any be brought, it is immediately sent away, the two, or as I am
informed, the three pence in the ounce, given by the East India Company,
being a temptation not to be resisted; but, the truth is, very little is
brought in, for the merchants that carry our commodities to foreign
markets, find it more to their advantage to carry directly to London
whatever they receive in cash; and whereas formerly they used, when they
had disposed of their cargo, to load their vessels with such commodities
as there was a demand for in Ireland, and bring the rest in cash, they
bring now only the commodities, and send the silver to London; and when
they have got the twopence in every ounce from the East India Company,
the rest serves to answer the returns we are obliged to make to England,
for the rents we are obliged to pay to noblemen and gentlemen who have
estates in Ireland and live in England, and for the pensions, and other
occasions which are many; by this means they gain likewise the exchange,
which is commonly four or five per cent, better to them than if they
sent cash.

"'It Is farther to be observed, that 21 shillings, which is the value of
a guinea in England, makes in Ireland 22 shillings and 9 pence, whereas
a guinea passes for 23 shillings with us, therefore, he who sends silver
into England, gains three pence more by it than if he sent guineas; this
advantage, though it may seem little, yet in a manner has entirely
drained us of our English money which was given in lieu of foreign

"'But farther, if any carry foreign gold to England, they cannot easily
pass it, and if they do, it is at a greater loss than there is in the
guineas, this has taken away our guineas, so that there is hardly one to
be seen; we have hardly any coin left but a few moydores and pistoles,
which can, by no means, serve the inland trade of the kingdom.

"'To give, therefore, a short view of our case, it is thus; We can have
English coin but by stealth, there being an act of parliament forbidding
the exportation of English coin; if, therefore, we should send our gold
or silver to England to be coined, we cannot have it back again, or if
we could, we cannot keep it for the reason above; we cannot for the same
reason have foreign silver; let us add to these, that by the act of
navigation and other acts, we cannot make our markets of buying where we
make our markets for selling; though we might have the commodities we
want much cheaper there, than we can have them in England, viz. all East
India and Turkey goods, with many others: nor is it to be expected that
any nation will trade with us with their silver only, when we will not
exchange commodities with them.

"'Except, therefore, England designs entirely to ruin Ireland, a kingdom
by which it is demonstrable that she gains yearly thirteen or fourteen
hundred thousand pounds, she ought to think of giving us some relief'"
("History of St. Patrick's," pp. xciii-xciv). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 16: See note on p. 14. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 17: Another hint at the Duchess of Kendal and her connection
with the patent. [T.S.]]

Upon Wood's complaint that the officers of the King's revenue here had
already given orders to all the inferior officers not to receive any
of his coin, the Report says, That "this cannot but be looked upon as a
very extraordinary proceeding," and being contrary to the powers given
in the patent, the Committee say, They "cannot advise His Majesty to
give directions to the officers of the revenue here, not to receive or
utter any of the said coin as has been desired in the addresses of both
Houses," but on the contrary, they "think it both just and reasonable
that the King should immediately give orders to the commissioners of the
revenue, &c. to revoke all orders, &c. that may have been given by them
to hinder or obstruct the receiving the said coin." And accordingly, we
are told, such orders are arrived.[18]. Now this was a cast of Wood's
politics; for his information was wholly false and groundless, which he
knew very well; and that the commissioners of the revenue here were
all, except one, sent us from England, and love their employments too
well to have taken such a step: But Wood was wise enough to consider,
that such orders of revocation would be an open declaration of the crown
in his favour, would put the government here under a difficulty, would
make a noise, and possibly create some terror in the poor people of
Ireland. And one great point he hath gained, that although any orders of
revocation will be needless, yet a new order is to be sent, and perhaps
already here, to the commissioners of the revenue, and all the King's
officers in Ireland, that Wood's "halfpence be suffered and permitted,
without any let, suit, trouble, molestation or denial of any of the
King's officers or ministers whatsoever, to pass and be received as
current money by such as shall be willing to receive them." In this
order there is no exception, and therefore, as far as I can judge, it
includes all officers both civil and military, from the Lord High
Chancellor to a justice of peace, and from the general to an ensign: So
that Wood's project is not likely to fail for want of managers enough.
For my own part, as things stand, I have but little regret to find
myself out of the number, and therefore I shall continue in all humility
to exhort and warn my fellow-subjects never to receive or utter this
coin, which will reduce the kingdom to beggary by much quicker and
larger steps than have hitherto been taken.[19]

[Footnote 18: Archbishop King's letter, quoted by Monck Mason, explains
why it was that the revenue officers refused to receive Wood's coins. It
seems the officers had been advised by lawyers that, in the event of
their taking the coins, it might be quite likely they would be compelled
to make them good, should such a demand be made of them. Precedents
could easily be cited by those taking action, since all previous patents
issued to private individuals for coining money, required of the
patentee to take them back and pay for them with gold or silver. [T.

[Footnote 19: The suggestion thus made by the Lords of the Committee,
although coupled with the reduction in the amount of money Wood was to
be permitted to introduce, did not do any good. Archbishop King argued
rightly that this was treating the people of Ireland as if they were
fools and children. If Wood could coin £40,000, what was to prevent him
coining £200,000? The suggestion indeed irritated the people almost as
much as did the patent itself. [T.S.]]

But it is needless to argue any longer. The matter is come to an issue.
His Majesty pursuant to the law, hath left the field open between Wood
and the kingdom of Ireland. Wood hath liberty to offer his coin, and we
have law, reason, liberty and necessity to refuse it. A knavish jockey
may ride an old foundered jade about the market, but none are obliged to
buy it. I hope the words "voluntary" and "willing to receive it" will be
understood, and applied in their true natural meaning, as commonly
understood by Protestants. For if a fierce captain comes to my shop to
buy six yards of scarlet cloth, followed by a porter laden with a sack
of Wood's coin upon his shoulders, if we are agreed about the price, and
my scarlet lies ready cut upon the counter, if he then gives me the word
of command, to receive my money in Wood's coin, and calls me a
"disaffected Jacobite dog" for refusing it (although I am as loyal a
subject as himself, and without hire) and thereupon seizes my cloth,
leaving me the price in his odious copper, and bids me take my remedy:
In this case, I shall hardly be brought to think that I am left to my
own will. I shall therefore on such occasions, first order the porter
aforesaid to go off with his pack, and then see the money in silver and
gold in my possession before I cut or measure my cloth. But if a common
soldier drinks his pot first, and then offers payment in Wood's
halfpence, the landlady may be under some difficulty; For if she
complains to his captain or ensign, they are likewise officers, included
in this general order for encouraging these halfpence to pass as current
money. If she goes to a justice of peace, he is also an officer, to whom
this general order is directed. I do therefore advise her to follow my
practice, which I have already begun, and be paid for her goods before
she parts with them. However I should have been content, for some
reasons, that the military gentlemen had been excepted by name, because
I have heard it said, that their discipline is best confined within
their own district.

His Majesty in the conclusion of his answer to the address of the House
of Lords against Wood's coin, is pleased to say that "he will do
everything in his power for the satisfaction of his people." It should
seem therefore, that the recalling the patent is not to be understood as
a thing in his power. But however since the law does not oblige us to
receive this coin, and consequently the patent leaves it to our
voluntary choice, there is nothing remaining to preserve us from rain
but that the whole kingdom should continue in a firm determinate
resolution never to receive or utter this fatal coin:[20]

[Footnote 20: So ready was the response to this suggestion of Swift's,
that it was found necessary for tradesmen to take precautions to have it
publicly known that they were in no way connected with Wood and his
money, The following is a copy of an advertisement which illustrates

"Whereas several persons in this kingdom suspect that John Molyneux of
Meath Street, ironmonger, and his brother Daniel Molyneux, of Essex
Street, ironmonger, are interested in the patent obtained by William
Wood for coining of halfpence and farthings for this kingdom.

"Now we the said John Molyneux and Daniel Molyneux, in order to satisfy
the public, do hereby declare, that we are in no way concerned with the
said Wood in relation to his said patent; And that we never were
possessed of any of the said halfpence or farthings, except one
halfpence and one farthing, which I the said John Molyneux received in a
post-letter, and which I immediately afterwards delivered to one of the
Lords-Justices of Ireland.

"And we do further declare, that we will not directly or indirectly, be
anyways concerned with the said Wood's halfpence or farthings; but on
the contrary, act to the great advantage and satisfaction of this
kingdom, as good, loving and faithful subjects ought to do. And we do
further declare, that to the best of our knowledge, the said William
Wood is not in this kingdom.

"Given under our hands in Dublin this 22d. day of August 1724.



Another ran as follows:


"Whereas, I, Thomas Handy, of Meath Street, Dublin, did receive by the
last packet, from a person in London, to whom I am an entire stranger,
bills of lading for eleven casks of Wood's halfpence, shipped at
Bristol, and consigned to me by the said person on his own proper
account, of which I had not the least notice until I received the said
bills of lading.

"Now I, the said Thomas Handy, being highly sensible of the duty and
regard which every honest man owes to his country and to his
fellow-subjects, do hereby declare, that I will not be concerned,
directly or indirectly, in entering, landing, importing, receiving, or
uttering any of the said Wood's halfpence, for that I am fully
convinced, as well from the addresses of both Houses of Parliament, as
otherwise, that the importing and uttering the said halfpence will be
destructive to this nation, and prejudicial to his Majesty's revenue.

"And of this my resolution I gave notice by letter to the person who
sent me the bills of lading, the very day I received them, and have sent
back the said bills to him.


"Dublin, 29th. August, 1724." [T.S.]]

After which, let the officers to whom these orders are directed, (I
would willingly except the military) come with their exhortations,
their arguments and their eloquence, to persuade us to find our interest
in our undoing. Let Wood and his accomplices travel about the country
with cart-loads of their ware, and see who will take it off their hands,
there will be no fear of his being robbed, for a highwayman would scorn
to touch it.

I am only in pain how the commissioners of the revenue will proceed in
this juncture; because I am told they are obliged by act of Parliament
to take nothing but gold and silver in payment for His Majesty's
customs, and I think they cannot justly offer this coinage of Mr. Wood
to others, unless they will be content to receive it themselves.

The sum of the whole is this. The "Committee advises the King to send
immediate orders to all his officers here, that Wood's coin be suffered
and permitted without any let, suit, trouble, &c. to pass and be
received as current money by such as shall be willing to receive the
same." It is probable, that the first willing receivers may be those who
must receive it whether they will or no, at least under the penalty of
losing an office. But the landed undepending men, the merchants, the
shopkeepers and bulk of the people, I hope, and am almost confident,
will never receive it. What must the consequence be? The owners will
sell it for as much as they can get. Wood's halfpence will come to be
offered for six a penny (yet then he will be a sufficient gainer) and
the necessary receivers will be losers of two-thirds in their salaries
or pay.

This puts me in mind of a passage I was told many years ago in England.
At a quarter-sessions in Leicester, the justices had wisely decreed, to
take off a halfpenny in a quart from the price of ale. One of them, who
came in after the thing was determined, being informed of what had
passed, said thus: "Gentlemen; you have made an order, that ale should
be sold in our country for three halfpence a quart: I desire you will
now make another to appoint who must drink it, for _by G-- I will

[Footnote 21: The following broadside, ascribed to Swift, but written
probably by Sheridan, further amusingly illustrates the point Swift
makes. The broadside was printed by John Harding:

"Another Letter to Mr. Harding the printer, upon occasion of the Report
of the Committee of the Lords of His Majesty's Most Honourable
Privy-Council, in relation to Mr. Wood's halfpence and farthings, etc.,
lately published.

"Mr. Harding,--Although this letter also is directed to you, yet you
know that it is intended for the benefit of the whole kingdom, and
therefore I pray make it public, and take care to disperse it.

"The design of it is only to desire all people to take notice, That
whatever apprehensions some persons seem to be under on account of the
above-mentioned report concerning Mr. Wood's halfpence and farthings,
yet the utmost advice which the right honourable Committee have thought
fit to give His Majesty, is, That a certain sum of the said halfpence
and farthings may be received as current money by such as shall be
willing to receive the same. And if we are willing to ruin ourselves and
our country, I think we are not to be pitied.

"Upon this occasion I would only tell my countrymen a short story.

"A certain King of Great Britain who spoke broad Scotch, and being
himself a man of wit, loved both to hear and speak things that were
humorous, had once a petition preferred to him, in which the petitioner,
having set forth his own merits, most humbly prayed His Majesty to grant
him letters-patent for receiving a shilling from every one of his
subjects who should be willing to give so much to him. 'In gude troth,'
said the King, 'a very reasonable petition. Let every man give thee twa
shillings gin he be willing so to do, and thou shalt have full liberty
to receive it.' 'But,' says the petitioner, 'I desire that this clause
may be inserted in my patent, That every man who refuses to give me a
shilling, should appear at Westminster Hall to shew cause why he so
refuses.' 'This also,' says the King, 'shall be granted thee, but always
with this proviso, that the man be willing to come.'

"I am your, etc.


I must beg leave to caution your lordships and worships in one
particular. Wood hath graciously promised to load us at present only
with forty thousand pounds of his coin, till the exigences of the
kingdom require the rest. I entreat you will never suffer Mr. Wood to be
a judge of your exigences. While there is one piece of silver or gold
remaining in the kingdom he will call it an exigency, he will double his
present _quantum_ by stealth as soon as he can, and will have the
remainder still to the good. He will pour his own raps[22]and
counterfeits upon us: France and Holland will do the same; nor will our
own coiners at home be behind them: To confirm which I have now in my
pocket a rap or counterfeit halfpenny in imitation of his, but so ill
performed, that in my conscience I believe it is not of his coining.

[Footnote 22: The word Rap is probably a contraction of "raparee," and
was the name given to the tokens that passed current in Ireland for
copper coins of small value. Generally it referred to debased coins;
hence it may be allied to "raparee," who might be considered as a
debased citizen. The raparees were so called from the rapary or
half-pike they carried. [T.S.]]

I must now desire your lordships and worships that you will give great
allowance for this long undigested paper, I find myself to have gone
into several repetitions, which were the effects of haste, while new
thoughts fell in to add something to what I had said before. I think I
may affirm that I have fully answered every paragraph in the Report,
which although it be not unartfully drawn, and is perfectly in the
spirit of a pleader who can find the most plausible topics in behalf of
his client, yet there was no great skill required to detect the many
mistakes contained in it, which however are by no means to be charged
upon the right honourable Committee, but upon the most false impudent
and fraudulent representations of Wood and his accomplices. I desire one
particular may dwell upon your minds, although I have mentioned it more
than once; That after all the weight laid upon precedents there is not
one produced in the whole Report, of a patent for coining copper in
England to pass in Ireland, and only two patents referred to (for indeed
there were no more) which were both passed in Ireland, by references to
the King's Council here, both less advantageous to the coiner than this
of Wood, and in both securities given to receive the coin at every call,
and give gold and silver in lieu of it. This demonstrates the most
flagrant falsehood and impudence of Wood, by which he would endeavour to
make the right honourable Committee his instruments, (for his own
illegal and exorbitant gain,) to ruin a kingdom, which hath deserved
quite different treatment.

I am very sensible that such a work as I have undertaken might have
worthily employed a much better pen. But when a house is attempted to be
robbed it often happens that the weakest in the family runs first to
stop the door. All the assistance I had were some informations from an
eminent person,[23] whereof I am afraid I have spoiled a few by
endeavouring to make them of a piece with my own productions, and the
rest I was not able to manage: I was in the case of David who could not
move in the armour of Saul, and therefore I rather chose to attack this
"uncircumcised Philistine (Wood I mean) with a sling and a stone." And I
may say for Wood's honour as well as my own, that he resembles Goliath
in many circumstances, very applicable to the present purpose; For
Goliath had "a helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a
coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of
brass, and he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass
between his shoulders." In short he was like Mr. Wood, all over brass;
And "he defied the armies of the living God." Goliath's condition of
combat were likewise the same with those of Wood. "If he prevail against
us, then shall we be his servants:" But if it happens that I prevail
over him, I renounce the other part of the condition, he shall never be
a servant of mine, for I do not think him fit to be trusted in any
honest man's shop.

[Footnote 23: Mr. Robert Lindsay, a Dublin lawyer, assisted Swift on the
legal points raised in the Drapier's letters. This is the Mr. Lindsay,
counsellor-at-law, to whom Swift submitted a case concerning a Mr.
Gorman (see Scott's edit., vol. xix., p. 294). Mr. Lindsay is supposed
to be the author of two letters addressed to Chief Justice Whitshed on
the matter of his conduct towards the grand jury which discharged
Harding the printer (see Scott's edit., vol. vi., p. 467). [T.S.]]

I will conclude with my humble desire and request which I made in my
second letter; That your lordships and worships would please to order a
declaration to be drawn up expressing, in the strongest terms, your firm
resolutions never to receive or utter any of Wood's halfpence or
farthings, and forbidding your tenants to receive them. That the said
declaration may be signed by as many persons as possible who have
estates in this kingdom, and be sent down to your several tenants

[Footnote 24: A Declaration, pursuant to this request, was signed soon
after by the most considerable persons of the kingdom, which was
universally spread and of great use. [F.]

"The humble petition of the lord-mayor, sheriffs, commons, and citizens
of the city of Dublin, in Common Council assembled," was issued as a
broadside on 8th September, 1724. See also Appendix IX. [T.S.]]

And if the dread of Wood's halfpence should continue till next
quarter-sessions (which I hope it will not) the gentlemen of every
county will then have a fair opportunity of declaring against them with
unanimity and zeal.

I am with the greatest respect,
  (May it please your lordships and worships)
                  Your most dutiful
                        and obedient servant,

Aug. 25, 1724.




The country was now in a very fever of excitement. Everywhere meetings
were held for the purpose of expressing indignation against the
imposition, and addresses from brewers, butchers, flying stationers, and
townspeople generally, were sent in embodying the public protest against
Wood and his coins. Swift fed the flame by publishing songs and ballads
well fitted for the street singers, and appealing to the understandings
of those who he well knew would effectively carry his message to the
very hearths of the poorest labourers. Courtier and student, tradesman
and freeman, thief and prostitute, beggar and loafer, all were alike
carried by an indignation which launched them on a maelstrom of
enthusiasm. So general became the outcry that, in Coxe's words, "the
lords justices refused to issue the orders for the circulation of the
coin.... People of all descriptions and parties flocked in crowds to the
bankers to demand their money, and drew their notes with an express
condition to be paid in gold and silver. The publishers of the most
treasonable pamphlets escaped with impunity, provided Wood and his
patent were introduced into the work. The grand juries could scarcely be
induced to find any bill against such delinquents; no witnesses in the
prosecution were safe in their persons; and no juries were inclined, or
if inclined could venture, to find them guilty."

In such a state of public feeling Swift assumed an entirely new
attitude. He promulgated his "Letter to the Whole People of Ireland"--a
letter which openly struck at the very root of the whole evil, and laid
bare to the public eye the most secret spring of its righteous
indignation. It was not Wood nor his coins, it was the freedom of the
people of Ireland and their just rights and privileges that were being
fought for. He wrote them the letter "to refresh and continue that
spirit so seasonably raised among" them, and in order that they should
plainly understand "that by the laws of God, of NATURE, of NATIONS, and
of your COUNTRY, you ARE, and OUGHT to be as FREE a people as your
brethren in England." The King's prerogative had been held threateningly
over them. What was the King's prerogative? he asked in effect. It was
but the right he enjoyed within the bounds of the law as made by the
people in parliament assembled. The law limits him with his subjects.
Such prerogative he respected and would take up arms to protect against
any who should rebel. But "all government without the consent of the
governed, is the very definition of slavery." The condition of the Irish
nation was such that it was to be expected eleven armed men should
overcome a single man in his shirt; but even if those in power exercise
then power to cramp liberty, a man on the rack may still have "the
liberty of roaring as loud as he thought fit." And the men on the rack
roared to a tune that Walpole had never before heard.

The letter appeared on the 13th October, 1724.[1] The Duke of Grafton
had been recalled and Carteret had taken up the reins of government. For
reasons, either personal or politic, he took Walpole's side. Coxe goes
into considerations on this attitude of Carteret's, but they hardly
concern us here. Suffice it that the Lord Lieutenant joined forces with
the party in the Irish Privy Council, among whom were Midleton and St.
John Brodrick, and on October 27th issued a proclamation offering a
reward of £300[2] for the discovery of the author of this "wicked and
malicious pamphlet" which highly reflected on his Majesty and his
ministers, and which tended "to alienate the affections of his good
subjects of England and Ireland from each other."

[Footnote 1: Not on October 23rd as the earlier editors print it, and as
Monck Mason, Scott and Mr. Churton Collins repeat.]

[Footnote 2: See Appendix, No. VI.]

The author's name was not made public, nor was it likely to be. There is
no doubt that it was generally known who the author was. In that general
knowledge lies the whole pith of the Biblical quotation circulated
abroad on the heels of the proclamation: "And the people said unto Saul,
shall _Jonathan_ die, who had wrought this great salvation in Israel?
God forbid: as the Lord liveth there shall not one hair of his head fall
to the ground, for he hath wrought with God this day: So the people
rescued _Jonathan_ that he died not."

Swift remained very much alive. Harding, for printing the obnoxious
letter, had been arrested and imprisoned, and the Crown proceeded with
his prosecution. In such circumstances Swift was not likely to remain
idle. On the 26th October he addressed a letter to Lord Chancellor
Midleton in defence of the Drapier's writings, and practically
acknowledged himself to be the author.[3] It was not actually printed
until 1735, but there is no doubt that Midleton received it at the time
it was written. What effect it had on the ultimate issue is not known;
but Midleton's conduct justifies the confidence Swift placed in him. The
Grand Jury of the Michaelmas term of 1724 sat to consider the bill
against Harding. On the 11th of November Swift addressed to them his
"Seasonable Advice." The bill was thrown out. Whitshed, the Chief
Justice, consistently with his action on a previous occasion (see vol.
vii.), angrily remonstrated with the jury, demanded of them their
reasons for such a decision, and finally dissolved them. This
unconstitutional, and even disgraceful conduct, however, served but to
accentuate the resentment of the people against Wood and the patent, and
the Crown fared no better by a second Grand Jury. The second jury
accompanied its rejection of the bill by a presentment against the
patent,[4] and the defeat of the "prerogative" became assured. Every
where the Drapier was acclaimed the saviour of his country. Any person
who could scribble a doggerel or indite a tract rushed into print, and
now Whitshed was harnessed to Wood in a pillory of contemptuous
ridicule. Indeed, so bitter was the outcry against the Lord Chief
Justice, that it is said to have hastened his death. The cities of
Dublin, Cork and Waterford passed resolutions declaring the uttering of
Wood's halfpence to be highly prejudicial to his Majesty's revenue and
to the trades of the kingdom. The Drapier was now the patriot, and the
whole nation responded to his appeal to assist him in its own defence.

[Footnote 3: The highly wrought up story about Swift's butler, narrated
by Sheridan, Deane Swift and Scott, is nothing but a sample of
eighteenth century "sensationalism." Swift never bothered himself about
what his servants would say with regard to the authorship of the
Letters. Certainly this letter to Midleton proves that he was not at all
afraid of the consequences of discovery.]

[Footnote 4: See Appendix V.]

The text of the present reprint is based on that given by Sir Walter
Scott, collated with the original edition and with that reprinted in
"Fraud Detected" (1725). Faulkner's text of 1735 has also been




           TO THE
       **WHOLE People**


   _By_ M.B. _Drapier_.

AUTHOR of the LETTER to the
    _SHOP-KEEPERS_, &c.


   Printed by _John Harding_ in
_Molesworth's-Court_ in _Fishamble Street_.




Having already written three letters upon so disagreeable a subject as
Mr. Wood and his halfpence; I conceived my task was at an end: But I
find, that cordials must be frequently applied to weak constitutions,
political as well as natural. A people long used to hardships, lose by
degrees the very notions of liberty, they look upon themselves as
creatures at mercy, and that all impositions laid on them by a stronger
hand, are, in the phrase of the Report, legal and obligatory. Hence
proceeds that poverty and lowness of spirit, to which a kingdom may be
subject as well as a particular person. And when Esau came fainting from
the field at the point to die, it is no wonder that he sold his
birthright for a mess of pottage.

I thought I had sufficiently shewn to all who could want instruction, by
what methods they might safely proceed, whenever this coin should be
offered to them; and I believe there hath not been for many ages an
example of any kingdom so firmly united in a point of great importance,
as this of ours is at present, against that detestable fraud. But
however, it so happens that some weak people begin to be alarmed anew,
by rumours industriously spread. Wood prescribes to the newsmongers in
London what they are to write. In one of their papers published here by
some obscure printer (and probably with no good design) we are told,
that "the Papists in Ireland have entered into an association against
his coin," although it be notoriously known, that they never once
offered to stir in the matter; so that the two Houses of Parliament, the
Privy-council, the great number of corporations, the lord mayor and
aldermen of Dublin, the grand juries, and principal gentlemen of
several counties are stigmatized in a lump under the name of "Papists."

This impostor and his crew do likewise give out, that, by refusing to
receive his dross for sterling, we "dispute the King's prerogative, are
grown ripe for rebellion, and ready to shake off the dependency of
Ireland upon the crown of England." To countenance which reports he hath
published a paragraph in another newspaper, to let us know that "the
Lord Lieutenant is ordered to come over immediately to settle his

I entreat you, my dear countrymen, not to be under the least concern
upon these and the like rumours, which are no more than the last howls
of a dog dissected alive, as I hope he hath sufficiently been. These
calumnies are the only reserve that is left him. For surely our
continued and (almost) unexampled loyalty will never be called in
question for not suffering ourselves to be robbed of all that we have,
by one obscure ironmonger.

As to disputing the King's prerogative, give me leave to explain to
those who are ignorant, what the meaning of that word _prerogative_ is.

The Kings of these realms enjoy several powers, wherein the laws have
not interposed: So they can make war and peace without the consent of
Parliament; and this is a very great prerogative. But if the Parliament
doth not approve of the war, the King must bear the charge of it out of
his own purse, and this is as great a check on the crown. So the King
hath a prerogative to coin money without consent of Parliament. But he
cannot compel the subject to take that money except it be sterling, gold
or silver; because herein he is limited by law. Some princes have indeed
extended their prerogative further than the law allowed them; wherein
however, the lawyers of succeeding ages, as fond as they are of
precedents, have never dared to justify them. But to say the truth, it
is only of late times that prerogative hath been fixed and ascertained.
For whoever reads the histories of England, will find that some former
Kings, and these none of the worst, have upon several occasions ventured
to control the laws with very little ceremony or scruple, even later
than the days of Queen Elizabeth. In her reign that pernicious counsel
of sending base money hither, very narrowly failed of losing the
kingdom, being complained of by the lord-deputy, the council, and the
whole body of the English here:[5] So that soon after her death it was
recalled by her successor, and lawful money paid in exchange.

[Footnote 5: See Moryson's "Itinerary" (Pt. ii., pp. 90, 196 and 262),
where an account is given which fully bears out Swift.[T.S.]]

Having thus given you some notion of what is meant by the King's
"prerogative," as far as a tradesman can be thought capable of
explaining it, I will only add the opinion of the great Lord Bacon: That
"as God governs the world by the settled laws of nature, which he hath
made, and never transcends those laws but upon high important occasions;
so among earthly princes, those are the wisest and the best, who govern
by the known laws of the country, and seldomest make use of their

[Footnote 6: The words in inverted commas appear to be a reminiscence
rather than a quotation. I have not traced the sentence, as it stands,
in Bacon; but the regular government of the world by the laws of nature,
as contrasted with the exceptional disturbance of these laws, is
enunciated in Bacon's "Confession of Faith," while the dangers of a
strained prerogative are urged in the "Essay on Empire." Bacon certainly
gives no support to Swift's limits of the prerogative as regards
coinage. [CRAIK.]]

Now, here you may see that the vile accusation of Wood and his
accomplices, charging us with "disputing the King's prerogative" by
refusing his brass, can have no place, because compelling the subject to
take any coin which is not sterling is no part of the King's
prerogative, and I am very confident if it were so, we should be the
last of his people to dispute it, as well from that inviolable loyalty
we have always paid to His Majesty, as from the treatment we might in
such a case justly expect from some who seem to think, we have neither
common sense nor common senses. But God be thanked, the best of them are
only our fellow-subjects, and not our masters. One great merit I am sure
we have, which those of English birth can have no pretence to, that our
ancestors reduced this kingdom to the obedience of England, for which we
have been rewarded with a worse climate, the privilege of being governed
by laws to which we do not consent, a ruined trade, a House of Peers
without jurisdiction, almost an incapacity for all employments; and the
dread of Wood's halfpence.

But we are so far from disputing the King's prerogative in coining, that
we own he has power to give a patent to any man for setting his royal
image and superscription upon whatever materials he pleases, and liberty
to the patentee to offer them in any country from England to Japan, only
attended with one small limitation, That nobody alive is obliged to take

Upon these considerations I was ever against all recourse to England for
a remedy against the present impending evil, especially when I observed
that the addresses of both Houses, after long expectance, produced
nothing but a REPORT altogether in favour of Wood, upon which I made
some observations in a former letter, and might at least have made as
many more. For it is a paper of as singular a nature as I ever beheld.

But I mistake; for before this Report was made, His Majesty's most
gracious answer to the House of Lords was sent over and printed, wherein
there are these words, "granting the patent for coining halfpence and
King Charles 2d. and King James 2d. (AND THEY ONLY) did grant patents
for this purpose is indisputable, and I have shewn it at large. Their
patents were passed under the great seal of Ireland by references to
Ireland, the copper to be coined in Ireland, the patentee was bound on
demand to receive his coin back in Ireland, and pay silver and gold in
return. Wood's patent was made under the great seal of England, the
brass coined in England, not the least reference made to Ireland, the
sum immense, and the patentee under no obligation to receive it again
and give good money for it: This I only mention, because in my private
thoughts I have sometimes made a query, whether the penner of those
words in His Majesty's most gracious answer, "agreeable to the practice
of his royal predecessors," had maturely considered the several
circumstances, which, in my poor opinion seem to make a difference.

Let me now say something concerning the other great cause of some
people's fear, as Wood has taught the London newswriter to express it.
That "his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant is coming over to settle Wood's

We know very well that the Lords Lieutenants for several years past have
not thought this kingdom worthy the honour of their residence, longer
than was absolutely necessary for the King's business, which
consequently wanted no speed in the dispatch; and therefore it naturally
fell into most men's thoughts, that a new governor coming at an unusual
time must portend some unusual business to be done, especially if the
common report be true, that the Parliament prorogued to I know not when,
is by a new summons (revoking that prorogation) to assemble soon after
his arrival: For which extraordinary proceeding the lawyers on t'other
side the water have by great good fortune found two precedents.

All this being granted, it can never enter into my head that so little a
creature as Wood could find credit enough with the King and his
ministers to have the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland sent hither in a hurry
upon his errand.

For let us take the whole matter nakedly as it lies before us, without
the refinements of some people, with which we have nothing to do. Here
is a patent granted under the great seal of England, upon false
suggestions, to one William Wood for coining copper halfpence for
Ireland: The Parliament here, upon apprehensions of the worst
consequences from the said patent, address the King to have it recalled;
this is refused, and a committee of the Privy-council report to His
Majesty, that Wood has performed the conditions of his patent. He then
is left to do the best he can with his halfpence; no man being obliged
to receive them; the people here, being likewise left to themselves,
unite as one man, resolving they will have nothing to do with his ware.
By this plain account of the fact it is manifest, that the King and his
ministry are wholly out of the case, and the matter is left to be
disputed between him and us. Will any man therefore attempt to persuade
me, that a Lord Lieutenant is to be dispatched over in great haste
before the ordinary time, and a Parliament summoned by anticipating a
prorogation, merely to put an hundred thousand pounds into the pocket of
a sharper, by the ruin of a most loyal kingdom.

But supposing all this to be true. By what arguments could a Lord
Lieutenant prevail on the same Parliament which addressed with so much
zeal and earnestness against this evil, to pass it into a law? I am sure
their opinion of Wood and his project is not mended since the last
prorogation; and supposing those methods should be used which detractors
tell us have been sometimes put in practice for gaining votes. It is
well known that in this kingdom there are few employments to be given,
and if there were more, it is as well known to whose share they must

But because great numbers of you are altogether ignorant in the affairs
of your country, I will tell you some reasons why there are so few
employments to be disposed of in this kingdom. All considerable offices
for life here are possessed by those to whom the reversions were
granted, and these have been generally followers of the chief governors,
or persons who had interest in the Court of England. So the Lord
Berkeley of Stratton[7] holds that great office of master of the rolls,
the Lord Palmerstown[8] is first remembrancer worth near 2000_l. per
ann._ One Dodington[9] secretary to the Earl of Pembroke,[10] begged the
reversion of clerk of the pells worth 2500_l._ a year, which he now
enjoys by the death of the Lord Newtown. Mr. Southwell is secretary of
state,[11] and the Earl of Burlington[12] lord high treasurer of Ireland
by inheritance. These are only a few among many others which I have been
told of, but cannot remember. Nay the reversion of several employments
during pleasure are granted the same way. This among many others is a
circumstance whereby the kingdom of Ireland is distinguished from all
other nations upon earth, and makes it so difficult an affair to get
into a civil employ, that Mr. Addison was forced to purchase an old
obscure place, called keeper of the records of Bermingham's Tower of ten
pounds a year, and to get a salary of 400_l._ annexed to it,[13] though
all the records there are not worth half-a-crown, either for curiosity
or use. And we lately saw a favourite secretary descend to be master of
the revels, which by his credit and extortion he hath made pretty
considerable.[14] I say nothing of the under-treasurership worth about
8000_l_. a year, nor the commissioners of the revenue, four of whom
generally live in England; For I think none of these are granted in
reversion. But the test is, that I have known upon occasion some of
these absent officers as keen against the interest of Ireland as if they
had never been indebted to her for a single groat.

[Footnote 7: Berkeley was one of the Junta in Harley's administration of
1710-1714. He had married Sir John Temple's daughter. His connection
with a person so disliked by Swift may account for his inclusion here.

[Footnote 8: This was Henry Temple, first Viscount Palmerston, with whom
Swift later had an unpleasant correspondence. Palmerston could not have
been more than seven years old when he was appointed (September 21st,
1680), with Luke King, chief remembrancer of the Court of Exchequer in
Ireland, for their joint lives. King died in 1716, but the grant was
renewed to Palmerston and his son Henry for life. He was raised to the
peerage as Baron Temple of Mount Temple, and Viscount Palmerston of
Palmerston, in March, 1722-1723. Sir Charles Hanbury Williams called him
"Little Broadbottom Palmerston." He died in 1757. [T.S.] ]

[Footnote 9: George Bubb (1691-1762) was Chief Secretary during
Wharton's Lord lieutenancy in 1709. He took the name of Doddington on
the death of his uncle in 1720. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 10: Thomas Herbert, eighth Earl of Pembroke (1656-1733), had
preceded the Earl of Wharton as Lord lieutenant of Ireland. He bears a
high character in history and on four successive coronations, namely,
those of William and Mary, Anne, George I. and George II., he acted as
sword carrier. Although a Tory, even Macaulay acknowledges Pembroke's
high breeding and liberality. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 11: This is the Edward Southwell to whom Archbishop King wrote
the letters quoted from Monck Mason in previous notes. He was the son of
Sir Robert Southwell, the diplomatist and friend of Sir William Temple,
to whom Swift bore a letter of introduction from the latter, soliciting
the office of amanuensis. In June, 1720, Edward Southwell had his salary
as secretary increased by £300; and in July of the same year the office
was granted to him and his son for life. The Southwell family first came
to Ireland in the reign of James I., at the time of the plantation of
Munster. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 12: Richard Boyle, third Earl of Burlington (or Bridlington of
Yorks), and fourth Earl of Cork (1695-1753), was appointed Lord
High-Treasurer of Ireland in August, 1715. His great-grandfather, the
first Earl of Cork, had held the same office in 1631. The
Lord-lieutenancy of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and the office of
Custos Rotulorum of the North and West Ridings, seem also to have been
inheritances of this family. The third Earl had a taste for
architecture, and spent enormous sums of money in the reconstruction of
Burlington House, a building that was freely satirized by Hogarth and
Lord Hervey. His taste, however, seems to have run to the ornamental
rather than the useful, and its gratification involved him in such
serious financial difficulties, that he was compelled to sell some of
his Irish estates. Swift notes that "My Lord Burlington is now selling
in one article £9,000 a year in Ireland for £200,000 which must pay his
debts" (Scott's edit. 1814, vol. xix., p. 129). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 13: This post was found for Addison on his appointment in 1709
as secretary to the Earl of Wharton, Lord-lieutenant of Ireland.
Tickell, in his preface to his edition of Addison's works, says the post
was granted to Addison as a mark of Queen Anne's special favour.
Bermingham's Tower was that part of Dublin Castle in which the records
were kept. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 14: Mr. Hopkins, secretary to the Duke of Grafton. The
exactions made by this gentleman upon the players, in his capacity of
Master of the Revels, are the subject of two satirical poems. [S.]

This may have been John Hopkins, the second son of the Bishop of
Londonderry, who was the author of "Amasia," dedicated to the Duchess of
Grafton. [T.S.]]

I confess, I have been sometimes tempted to wish that this project of
Wood might succeed, because I reflected with some pleasure what a jolly
crew it would bring over among us of lords and squires, and pensioners
of both sexes, and officers civil and military, where we should live
together as merry and sociable as beggars, only with this one abatement,
that we should neither have meat to feed, nor manufactures to clothe us,
unless we could be content to prance about in coats of mail, or eat
brass as ostriches do iron.

I return from this digression to that which gave me the occasion of
making it: And I believe you are now convinced, that if the Parliament
of Ireland were as temptable as any other assembly within a mile of
Christendom (which God forbid) yet the managers must of necessity fail
for want of tools to work with. But I will yet go one step further, by
supposing that a hundred new employments were erected on purpose to
gratify compilers; yet still an insuperable difficulty would remain; for
it happens, I know not how, that money is neither Whig nor Tory, neither
of town nor country party, and it is not improbable, that a gentleman
would rather choose to live upon his own estate which brings him gold
and silver, than with the addition of an employment, when his rents and
salary must both be paid in Wood's brass, at above eighty _per cent._

For these and many other reasons, I am confident you need not be under
the least apprehensions from the sudden expectation of the Lord
Lieutenant,[15] while we continue in our present hearty disposition; to
alter which there is no suitable temptation can possibly be offered:
And if, as I have often asserted from the best authority, the law hath
not left a power in the crown to force any money except sterling upon
the subject, much less can the crown devolve such a power upon another.

[Footnote 15: Lord Carteret, afterwards Earl Granville. See note to "A
Vindication of Lord Carteret," in vol. vii. of present edition of
Swift's works. [T.S.]]

This I speak with the utmost respect to the person and dignity of his
Excellency the Lord Carteret, whose character hath been given me by a
gentleman that hath known him from his first appearance in the world:
That gentleman describes him as a young nobleman of great
accomplishments, excellent learning, regular in his life, and of much
spirit and vivacity. He hath since, as I have heard, been employed
abroad, was principal secretary of state, and is now about the 37th year
of his age appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. From such a governor
this kingdom may reasonably hope for as much prosperity as, under so
many discouragements, it can be capable of receiving.[16]

[Footnote 16: Carteret was an old friend of Swift. On the Earl's
appointment to the Lord-lieutenancy, in April, 1724, Swift wrote him a
letter on the matter of Wood's halfpence, in which he took the liberty
of "an old humble servant, and one who always loved and esteemed" him,
to make known to him the apprehensions the people were under concerning
Mr. Wood's patent. "Neither is it doubted," he wrote, "that when your
excellency shall be thoroughly informed, your justice and compassion for
an injured people, will force you to employ your credit for their
relief." Swift waited for more than a month, and on receiving no reply,
sent a second letter, which Sir Henry Craik justly calls, "a masterpiece
of its kind." It was as follows:

"June 9, 1724.


"It is above a month since I took the boldness of writing to your
excellency, upon a subject wherein the welfare of this kingdom is highly

"I writ at the desire of several considerable persons here, who could
not be ignorant that I had the honour of being well known to you.

"I could have wished your excellency had condescended so far, as to let
one of your under clerks have signified to me that a letter was

"I have been long out of the world; but have not forgotten what used to
pass among those I lived with while I was in it: and I can say, that
during the experience of many years, and many changes in affairs, your
excellency, and one more, who is not worthy to be compared to you, are
the only great persons that ever refused to answer a letter from me,
without regard to business, party, or greatness; and if I had not a
peculiar esteem for your personal qualities, I should think myself to be
acting a very inferior part in making this complaint.

"I never was so humble, as to be vain upon my acquaintance with men in
power, and always rather chose to avoid it when I was not called.
Neither were their power or titles sufficient, without merit, to make me
cultivate them; of which I have witnesses enough left, after all the
havoc made among them, by accidents of time, or by changes of persons,
measures, and opinions.

"I know not how your conception of yourself may alter, by every new high
station; but mine must continue the same, or alter for the worse.

"I often told a great minister, whom you well know, that I valued him
for being the same man through all the progress of power and place. I
expected the like in your lordship; and still hope that I shall be the
only person who will ever find it otherwise.

"I pray God to direct your excellency in all your good undertakings, and
especially in your government of this kingdom.

"I shall trouble you no more; but remain, with great respect, my Lord,

"Your excellency's most obedient,

"and most humble servant,


This letter brought an immediate reply from Carteret, who confessed
himself in the wrong for his silence, and trusted he had not forfeited
Swift's friendship by it. With regard to Mr. Wood's patent, he said that
the matter was under examination, "and till that is over I am not
informed sufficiently to make any other judgment of the matter, than
that which I am naturally led to make, by the general aversion which
appears to it in the whole nation." Swift replied in a charming vein,
and elegantly put his scolding down to the testiness of old age. His
excellency had humbled him. "Therefore, I fortel that you, who could so
easily conquer so captious a person, and of so little consequence, will
quickly subdue this whole kingdom to love and reverence you" (Scott's
ed. 1824, vol. xvi., pp. 430-435). [T.S.]]

It is true indeed, that within the memory of man, there have been
governors of so much dexterity, as to carry points of terrible
consequence to this kingdom, by their power with _those who were in
office_, and by their arts in managing or deluding others with oaths,
affability, and even with dinners. If Wood's brass had in those times
been upon the anvil, it is obvious enough to conceive what methods would
have been taken. Depending persons would have been told in plain terms,
that it was a "service expected from them, under pain of the public
business being put into more complying hands." Others would be allured
by promises. To the country gentleman, besides good words, burgundy and
closeting. It would perhaps have been hinted how "kindly it would be
taken to comply with a royal patent, though it were not compulsory,"
that if any inconveniences ensued, it might be made up with other
"graces or favours hereafter." That "gentlemen ought to consider whether
it were prudent or safe to disgust England:" They would be desired to
"think of some good bills for encouraging of trade, and setting the poor
to work, some further acts against Popery and for uniting Protestants."
There would be solemn engagements that we should "never be troubled with
above forty thousand pounds in his coin, and all of the best and
weightiest sort, for which we should only give our manufactures in
exchange, and keep our gold and silver at home." Perhaps a "seasonable
report of some invasion would have been spread in the most proper
juncture," which is a great smoother of rubs in public proceedings; and
we should have been told that "this was no time to create differences
when the kingdom was in danger."

These, I say, and the like methods would in corrupt times have been
taken to let in this deluge of brass among us; and I am confident would
even then have not succeeded, much less under the administration of so
excellent a person as the Lord Carteret, and in a country where the
people of all ranks, parties and denominations are convinced to a man,
that the utter undoing of themselves and their posterity for ever will
be dated from the admission of that execrable coin; that if it once
enters, it can be no more confined to a small or moderate quantity, than
the plague can be confined to a few families, and that no equivalent can
be given by any earthly power, any more than a dead carcass can be
recovered to life by a cordial.

There is one comfortable circumstance in this universal opposition to
Mr. Wood, that the people sent over hither from England to fill up our
vacancies ecclesiastical, civil and military, are all on our side:
Money, the great divider of the world, hath by a strange revolution,
been the great uniter of a most divided people. Who would leave a
hundred pounds a year in England (a country of freedom) to be paid a
thousand in Ireland out of Wood's exchequer. The gentleman they have
lately made primate[17] would never quit his seat in an English House of
Lords, and his preferments at Oxford and Bristol, worth twelve hundred
pounds a year, for four times the denomination here, but not half the
value; therefore I expect to hear he will be as good an Irishman, upon
this article, as any of his brethren, or even of us who have had the
misfortune to be born in this island. For those, who, in the common
phrase, do not "come hither to learn the language," would never change a
better country for a worse, to receive brass instead of gold.

[Footnote 17: Hugh Boulter (1672-1742) was appointed Archbishop of
Armagh, August 31st, 1724. He had been a fellow of Magdalen College,
Oxford, and had served the King as chaplain in Hanover, in 1719. In this
latter year he was promoted to the Bishopric of Bristol, and the Deanery
of Christ Church, Oxford. His appointment as Primate of Ireland, was in
accordance with Walpole's plan for governing Ireland from England.
Walpole had no love for Carteret, and no faith in his power or
willingness to aid him in his policy. Indeed, Carteret was sent to
Ireland to be got out of the way. He was governor nominally; the real
governor being Walpole in the person of the new Primate. What were
Boulter's instructions may be gathered from the manner in which he
carried out his purpose. Of a strong character and of untiring energy,
Boulter set about his work in a fashion which showed that Walpole had
chosen well. Nothing of any importance that transpired in Ireland, no
fact of any interest about the individuals in office, no movement of any
suspected or suspicious person escaped his vigilance. His letters
testify to an unabating zeal for the English government of Irish affairs
by Englishmen in the English interest. His perseverance knew no
obstacles; he continued against all difficulties in his dogged and yet
able manner to establish some order out of the chaos of Ireland's
condition. But his government was the outcome of a profound conviction
that only in the interest of England should Ireland be governed. If
Ireland could be made prosperous and contented, so much more good would
accrue to England. But that prosperity and that contentment had nothing
whatever to do with safeguarding Irish institutions, or recognizing the
rights of the Irish people. If he gave way to popular opinion at all, it
was because it was either expedient or beneficial to the English
interest. If he urged, as he did, the founding of Protestant Charter
schools, it was because this would strengthen the English power. To
preserve that he obtained the enactment of a statute which excluded
Roman Catholics from the legal profession and the offices of legal
administration; and another act of his making actually disfranchised
them altogether. Boulter was also a member of the Irish Privy Council,
and Lord Justice of Ireland. The latter office he held under the
vice-regencies of Carteret, Dorset and Devonshire. His secretary,
Ambrose Philips, had been connected with him, in earlier years, in
contributing to a periodical entitled, "The Free Thinker," which
appeared in 1718. Philips, in 1769, supervised the publication of
Boulter's "Letters," which were published at Oxford. [T.S.]]

Another slander spread by Wood and his emissaries is, that by opposing
him we discover an inclination to "shake off our dependence upon the
crown of England." Pray observe how important a person is this same
William Wood, and how the public weal of two kingdoms is involved in
his private interest. First, all those who refuse to take his coin are
Papists; for he tells us that "none but Papists are associated against
him;" Secondly, they "dispute the King's prerogative;" Thirdly, "they
are ripe for rebellion," and Fourthly, they are going to "shake off
their dependence upon the crown of England;" That is to say, "they are
going to choose another king;" For there can be no other meaning in this
expression, however some may pretend to strain it.

And this gives me an opportunity of explaining, to those who are
ignorant, another point, which hath often swelled in my breast. Those
who come over hither to us from England, and some weak people among
ourselves, whenever in discourse we make mention of liberty and
property, shake their heads, and tell us, that Ireland is a "depending
kingdom," as if they would seem, by this phrase, to intend that the
people of Ireland is in some state of slavery or dependence different
from those of England; Whereas a "depending kingdom" is a modern term of
art, unknown, as I have heard, to all ancient civilians, and writers
upon government; and Ireland is on the contrary called in some statutes
an "imperial crown," as held only from God; which is as high a style as
any kingdom is capable of receiving. Therefore by this expression, a
"depending kingdom," there is no more understood than that by a statute
made here in the 33d year of Henry 8th. "The King and his successors are
to be kings imperial of this realm as united and knit to the imperial
crown of England." I have looked over all the English and Irish statutes
without finding any law that makes Ireland depend upon England, any more
than England does upon Ireland. We have indeed obliged ourselves to have
the same king with them, and consequently they are obliged to have the
same king with us. For the law was made by our own Parliament, and our
ancestors then were not such fools (whatever they were in the preceding
reign) to bring themselves under I know not what dependence, which is
now talked of without any ground of law, reason or common sense.[18]

[Footnote 18: This was the passage selected by the government upon which
to found its prosecution. As Sir Walter Scott points out, it "contains
the pith and essence of the whole controversy." [T.S.]]

Let whoever think otherwise, I M.B. Drapier, desire to be excepted,[19]
for I declare, next under God, I _depend_ only on the King my sovereign,
and on the laws of my own country; and I am so far from _depending_ upon
the people of England, that if they should ever rebel against my
sovereign (which God forbid) I would be ready at the first command from
His Majesty to take arms against them, as some of _my_ countrymen did
against _theirs_ at Preston. And if such a rebellion should prove so
successful as to fix the Pretender on the throne of England, I would
venture to transgress that statute so far as to lose every drop of my
blood to hinder him from being King of Ireland.[20]

[Footnote 19: For a humorous story which accounts for Swift's use of the
words "desire to be excepted," see the Drapier's sixth letter. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 20: Great offence was taken at this paragraph. Swift refers to
it again in his sixth letter. Sir Henry Craik, in his "Life of Jonathan
Swift" (vol. ii., p. 74), has an acute note on this paragraph, and the
one already alluded to in the sixth letter. I take the liberty of
transcribing it: "The manoeuvre by which Swift managed to associate a
suspicion of Jacobitism with his opponents, is one peculiarly
characteristic; and so is the skill with which, in the next letter, he
meets the objections to this paragraph, by half offering an extent of
submission that might equally be embarrassing--a submission even to
Jacobitism, if Jacobitism were to become strong enough. He does not
commit himself, however: he fears a 'spiteful interpretation.' In short,
he places the English Cabinet on the horns of a dilemma. 'Am I to resist
Jacobitism? Then what becomes of your doctrine of Ireland's dependency?'
or, 'Am I to become a Jacobite, if England bids me? Then what becomes of
your Protestant succession? Must even that give way to your desire to
tyrannize?'" [T.S.]]

'Tis true indeed, that within the memory of man, the Parliaments of
England have sometimes assumed the power of binding this kingdom by laws
enacted there,[21] wherein they were at first openly opposed (as far as
truth, reason and justice are capable of opposing) by the famous Mr.
Molineux,[22] an English gentleman born here, as well as by several of
the greatest patriots, and best Whigs in England; but the love and
torrent of power prevailed. Indeed the arguments on both sides were
invincible. For in reason, all government without the consent of the
governed is the very definition of slavery: But in fact, eleven men well
armed will certainly subdue one single man in his shirt. But I have
done. For those who have used power to cramp liberty have gone so far as
to resent even the liberty of complaining, although a man upon the rack
was never known to be refused the liberty of roaring as loud as he
thought fit.

[Footnote 21: Particularly in the reign of William III., when this
doctrine of English supremacy was assumed, in order to discredit the
authority of the Irish Parliament summoned by James II. [S.]

See note on Poyning's Law, p. 77. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 22: See note on p. 167. [T.S.]]

And as we are apt to sink too much under unreasonable fears, so we are
too soon inclined to be raised by groundless hopes (according to the
nature of all consumptive bodies like ours) thus, it hath been given
about for several days past, that somebody in England empowered a second
somebody to write to a third somebody here to assure us, that we "should
no more be troubled with those halfpence." And this is reported to have
been done by the same person, who was said to have sworn some months
ago, that he would "ram them down our throats" (though I doubt they
would stick in our stomachs) but whichever of these reports is true or
false, it is no concern of ours. For in this point we have nothing to do
with English ministers, and I should be sorry it lay in their power to
redress this grievance or to enforce it: For the "Report of the
Committee" hath given me a surfeit. The remedy is wholly in your own
hands, and therefore I have digressed a little in order to refresh and
continue that spirit so seasonably raised amongst you, and to let you
see that by the laws of GOD, of NATURE, of NATIONS, and of your own
COUNTRY, you ARE and OUGHT to be as FREE a people as your brethren in

If the pamphlets published at London by Wood and his journeymen in
defence of his cause, were reprinted here, and that our countrymen could
be persuaded to read them, they would convince you of his wicked design
more than all I shall ever be able to say. In short I make him a perfect
saint in comparison of what he appears to be from the writings of those
whom he hires to justify his project. But he is so far master of the
field (let others guess the reason) that no London printer dare publish
any paper written in favour of Ireland, and here nobody hath yet been so
bold as to publish anything in favour of him.

There was a few days ago a pamphlet sent me of near 50 pages written in
favour of Mr. Wood and his coinage, printed in London; it is not worth
answering, because probably it will never be published here: But it gave
me an occasion to reflect upon an unhappiness we lie under, that the
people of England are utterly ignorant of our case, which however is no
wonder, since it is a point they do not in the least concern themselves
about, farther than perhaps as a subject of discourse in a coffee-house
when they have nothing else to talk of. For I have reason to believe
that no minister ever gave himself the trouble of reading any papers
written in our defence, because I suppose their opinions are already
determined, and are formed wholly upon the reports of Wood and his
accomplices; else it would be impossible that any man could have the
impudence to write such a pamphlet as I have mentioned.

Our neighbours whose understandings are just upon a level with ours
(which perhaps are none of the brightest) have a strong contempt for
most nations, but especially for Ireland: They look upon us as a sort of
savage Irish, whom our ancestors conquered several hundred years ago,
and if I should describe the Britons to you as they were in Caesar's
time, when they painted their bodies, or clothed themselves with the
skins of beasts, I would act full as reasonably as they do: However they
are so far to be excused in relation to the present subject, that,
hearing only one side of the cause, and having neither opportunity nor
curiosity to examine the other, they believe a lie merely for their
ease, and conclude, because Mr. Wood pretends to have power, he hath
also reason on his side.

Therefore to let you see how this case is represented in England by Wood
and his adherents, I have thought it proper to extract out of that
pamphlet a few of those notorious falsehoods in point of fact and
reasoning contained therein; the knowledge whereof will confirm my
countrymen in their own right sentiments, when they will see by
comparing both, how much their enemies are in the wrong.

First, The writer, positively asserts, "That Wood's halfpence were
current among us for several months with the universal approbation of
all people, without one single gainsayer, and we all to a man thought
ourselves happy in having them."

Secondly, He affirms, "That we were drawn into a dislike of them only by
some cunning evil-designing men among us, who opposed this patent of
Wood to get another for themselves."

Thirdly, That "those who most declared at first against Wood's patent
were the very men who intended to get another for their own advantage."

Fourthly, That "our Parliament and Privy-council, the Lord Mayor and
aldermen of Dublin, the grand juries and merchants, and in short the
whole kingdom, nay the very dogs" (as he expresseth it) "were fond of
those halfpence, till they were inflamed by those few designing persons

Fifthly, He says directly, That "all those who opposed the halfpence
were Papists and enemies to King George."

Thus far I am confident the most ignorant among you can safely swear
from your own knowledge that the author is a most notorious liar in
every article; the direct contrary being so manifest to the whole
kingdom, that if occasion required, we might get it confirmed under five
hundred thousand hands.

Sixthly, He would persuade us, that "if we sell five shillings worth of
our goods or manufactures for two shillings and fourpence worth of
copper, although the copper were melted down, and that we could get five
shillings in gold or silver for the said goods, yet to take the said two
shillings and fourpence in copper would be greatly for our advantage."

And Lastly, He makes us a very fair offer, as empowered by Wood, that
"if we will take off two hundred thousand pounds in his halfpence for
our goods, and likewise pay him three _per cent_. interest for thirty
years, for an hundred and twenty thousand pounds (at which he computes
the coinage above the intrinsic value of the copper) for the loan of his
coin, he, will after that time give us good money for what halfpence
will be then left."

Let me place this offer in as clear a light as I can to shew the
unsupportable villainy and impudence of that incorrigible wretch. First
(says he) "I will send two hundred thousand pounds of my coin into your
country, the copper I compute to be in real value eighty thousand
pounds, and I charge you with an hundred and twenty thousand pounds for
the coinage; so that you see I lend you an hundred and twenty thousand
pounds for thirty years, for which you shall pay me three _per cent_.
That is to say three thousand six hundred pounds _per ann_. which in
thirty years will amount to an hundred and eight thousand pounds. And
when these thirty years are expired, return me my copper and I will give
you good money for it."

This is the proposal made to us by Wood in that pamphlet written by one
of his commissioners; and the author is supposed to be the same infamous
Coleby one of his under-swearers at the committee of council, who was
tried for robbing the treasury here, where he was an under-clerk.[23]

[Footnote 23: See note on p. 61. [T.S.]]

By this proposal he will first receive two hundred thousand pounds, in
goods or sterling for as much copper as he values at eighty thousand
pounds, but in reality not worth thirty thousand pounds. Secondly, He
will receive for interest an hundred and eight thousand pounds. And when
our children came thirty years hence to return his halfpence upon his
executors (for before that time he will be probably gone to his own
place) those executors will very reasonably reject them as raps and
counterfeits, which probably they will be, and millions of them of his
own coinage.

Methinks I am fond of such a dealer as this who mends every day upon our
hands, like a Dutch reckoning, where if you dispute the unreasonableness
and exorbitance of the bill, the landlord shall bring it up every time
with new additions.

Although these and the like pamphlets published by Wood in London be
altogether unknown here, where nobody could read them without as much
indignation as contempt would allow, yet I thought it proper to give you
a specimen how the man employs his time, where he rides alone without
one creature to contradict him, while our FEW FRIENDS there wonder at
our silence, and the English in general, if they think of this matter at
all, impute our refusal to wilfulness or disaffection, just as Wood and
his hirelings are pleased to represent.

But although our arguments are not suffered to be printed in England,
yet the consequence will be of little moment. Let Wood endeavour to
persuade the people there that we ought to receive his coin, and let me
convince our people here that they ought to reject it under pain of our
utter undoing. And then let him do his best and his worst.

Before I conclude, I must beg leave in all humility to tell Mr. Wood,
that he is guilty of great indiscretion, by causing so honourable a name
as that of Mr. Walpole to be mentioned so often, and in such a manner,
upon his occasion: A short paper printed at Bristol and reprinted here
reports Mr. Wood to say, that he "wonders at the impudence and insolence
of the Irish in refusing his coin, and what he will do when Mr. Walpole
comes to town." Where, by the way, he is mistaken, for it is the true
English people of Ireland who refuse it, although we take it for granted
that the Irish will do so too whenever they are asked. He orders it to
be printed in another paper, that "Mr. Walpole will cram this brass down
our throats:" Sometimes it is given out that we must "either take these
halfpence or eat our brogues," And, in another newsletter but of
yesterday, we read that the same great man "hath sworn to make us
swallow his coin in fire-balls."

This brings to my mind the known story of a Scotchman, who receiving
sentence of death, with all the circumstances of hanging, beheading,
quartering, embowelling and the like, cried out, "What need all this
COOKERY?" And I think we have reason to ask the same question; for if we
believe Wood, here is a dinner getting ready for us, and you see the
bill of fare, and I am sorry the drink was forgot, which might easily be
supplied with melted lead and flaming pitch.

What vile words are these to put into the mouth of a great councillor,
in high trust with His Majesty, and looked upon as a prime-minister. If
Mr. Wood hath no better a manner of representing his patrons, when I
come to be a great man, he shall never be suffered to attend at my
levee. This is not the style of a great minister, it savours too much of
the kettle and the furnace, and came entirely out of Mr. Wood's forge.

As for the threat of making us eat our brogues, we need not be in pain;
for if his coin should pass, that unpolite covering for the feet, would
no longer be a national reproach; because then we should have neither
shoe nor brogue left in the kingdom. But here the falsehood of Mr. Wood
is fairly detected; for I am confident Mr. Walpole never heard of a
brogue in his whole life.[24]

[Footnote 24: A biting sneer at Walpole's ignorance of Irish affairs.

As to "swallowing these halfpence in fire-balls," it is a story equally
improbable. For to execute this operation the whole stock of Mr. Wood's
coin and metal must be melted down and moulded into hollow balls with
wild-fire, no bigger than a reasonable throat can be able to swallow.
Now the metal he hath prepared, and already coined will amount at least
fifty millions of halfpence to be swallowed by a million and a half of
people; so that allowing two halfpence to each ball, there will be about
seventeen balls of wild-fire a-piece to be swallowed by every person in
this kingdom, and to administer this dose, there cannot be conveniently
fewer than fifty thousand operators, allowing one operator to every
thirty, which, considering the squeamishness of some stomachs and the
peevishness of young children, is but reasonable. Now, under correction
of better judgments, I think the trouble and charge of such an
experiment would exceed the profit, and therefore I take this report to
be spurious, or at least only a new scheme of Mr. Wood himself, which to
make it pass the better in Ireland he would father upon a minister of

But I will now demonstrate beyond all contradiction that Mr. Walpole is
against this project of Mr. Wood, and is an entire friend to Ireland,
only by this one invincible argument, that he has the universal opinion
of being a wise man, an able minister, and in all his proceedings
pursuing the true interest of the King his master: And that as his
integrity is above all corruption, so is his fortune above all
temptation. I reckon therefore we are perfectly safe from that corner,
and shall never be under the necessity of contending with so formidable
a power, but be left to possess our brogues and potatoes in peace as
remote from thunder as we are from Jupiter.

I am,
   My dear countrymen,
     Your loving fellow-subject,
       fellow-sufferer and humble servant.

Oct. 13. 1724.




Since a bill is preparing for the grand jury, to find against the
printer of the Drapier's last letter, there are several things maturely
to be considered by those gentlemen, before whom this bill is to come,
before they determine upon it.

FIRST, they are to consider, that the author of the said pamphlet, did
write three other discourses on the same subject; which instead of being
censured were universally approved by the whole nation, and were allowed
to have raised, and continued that spirit among us, which hitherto hath
kept out Wood's coin: For all men will allow, that if those pamphlets
had not been writ, his coin must have overrun the nation some months

SECONDLY, it is to be considered that this pamphlet, against which a
proclamation hath been issued, is writ by the same author; that nobody
ever doubted the innocence, and goodness of his design, that he appears
through the whole tenor of it, to be a loyal subject to His Majesty, and
devoted to the House of Hanover, and declares himself in a manner
peculiarly zealous against the Pretender; And if such a writer in four
several treatises on so nice a subject, where a royal patent is
concerned, and where it was necessary to speak of England and of
liberty, should in one or two places happen to let fall an inadvertent
expression, it would be hard to condemn him after all the good he hath
done; Especially when we consider, that he could have no possible
design in view, either of honour or profit, but purely the GOOD of his

THIRDLY, it ought to be well considered, whether any one expression in
the said pamphlet, be really liable to just exception, much less to be
found "wicked, malicious, seditious, reflecting upon His Majesty and his
ministry," &c.

The two points in that pamphlet, which it is said the prosecutors intend
chiefly to fix on, are, First, where the author mentions the "penner of
the King's answer." First, it is well known, His Majesty is not master
of the English tongue, and therefore it is necessary that some other
person should be employed to pen what he hath to say, or write in that
language. Secondly, His Majesty's answer is not in the first person, but
the third. It is not said "WE are concerned," or, "OUR royal
predecessors," but "HIS MAJESTY is concerned;" and "HIS royal
predecessors." By which it is plain these are properly not the words of
His Majesty; but supposed to be taken from him, and transmitted hither
by one of his ministers. Thirdly it will be easily seen, that the author
of the pamphlet delivers his sentiments upon this particular, with the
utmost caution and respect, as any impartial reader will observe.

The second paragraph, which it is said will be taken notice of as a
motive to find the bill, is, what the author says of Ireland being a
depending kingdom. He explains all the dependency he knows of it, which
is a law made in Ireland, whereby it is enacted that "whoever is King of
England, shall be King of Ireland." Before this explanation be
condemned, and the bill found upon it, it would be proper, that some
lawyers should fully inform the jury what other law there is, either
statute or common for this dependency, and if there be no law, there is
no transgression.

The Fourth thing very maturely to be considered by the jury, is, what
influence their finding the bill may have upon the kingdom. The people
in general find no fault in the Drapier's last book, any more than in
the three former, and therefore when they hear it is condemned by a
grand jury of Dublin, they will conclude it is done in favour of Wood's
coin, they will think we of this town have changed our minds, and intend
to take those halfpence, and therefore that it will be in vain for them
to stand out. So that the question comes to this, Which will be of the
worst consequence, to let pass one or two expressions, at the worst only
unwary, in a book written for the public service; or to leave a free
open passage for Wood's brass to overrun us, by which we shall be undone
for ever.

The fifth thing to be considered, is, that the members of the grand jury
being merchants, and principal shopkeepers, can have no suitable
temptation offered them, as a recompense for the mischief they will
suffer by letting in this coin, nor can be at any loss or danger by
rejecting the bill: They do not expect any employments in the state, to
make up in their own private advantage, the destruction of their
country. Whereas those who go about to advise, entice, or threaten them
to find that bill, have great employments, which they have a mind to
keep, or to get greater, which was likewise the case of all those who
signed to have the author prosecuted. And therefore it is known, that
his grace the Lord Archbishop of Dublin,[1] so renowned for his piety,
and wisdom, and love of his country, absolutely refused to condemn the
book, or the author.

[Footnote 1: The proclamation against the Drapier's fourth letter as
given in Appendix IV. at the end of this volume, does not bear
Archbishop King's signature. In a letter from that prelate, written on
November 24th, 1724, to Samuel Molineux, secretary to the Prince of
Wales, it appears that other persons of influence also refrained from
sanctioning it. The following is an extract from this letter as given by
Monck Mason for the first time:

"A great many pamphlets have been writ about it [Wood's patent], but I
am told none of them are permitted to be printed in England. Two have
come out since my Lord Lieutenant came here, written with sobriety,
modesty, and great force, in my opinion, which put the matter in a fair
and clear light, though not with all the advantage of which it is
capable; four were printed before, by somebody that calleth himself a
Drapier which were in a ludicrous and satyrical style; against the last
of these the Lord Lieutenant procured a proclamation, signed by 17 of
the Council; offering £300 for discovering the author. I thought the
premium excessive, so I and three more refused to sign it, but declared,
that if his excellency would secure us from the brass money, I would
sign it, or any other, tending only to the disadvantage of private
persons; but, till we had that security, I would look on this
proclamation no otherwise than as a step towards passing that base and
mischievous coin, and designed to intimidate those who opposed the
passing it; and I declared, that I would not approve of anything that
might countenance, or encourage such a ruinous project; that issuing
such a proclamation would make all believe, that the government was
engaged to support Wood's pretensions, and that would neither be for
their honour nor ease. I was not able to stop the proclamation, but my
refusing to sign it has not been without effect." ("History of St.
Patrick's," p. 344, note n.). [T.S.]]

Lastly, it ought to be considered what consequence the finding the bill,
may have upon a poor man perfectly innocent, I mean the printer. A
lawyer may pick out expressions and make them liable to exception, where
no other man is able to find any. But how can it be supposed, that an
ignorant printer can be such a critic? He knew the author's design was
honest, and approved by the whole kingdom, he advised with friends, who
told him there was no harm in the book, and he could see none himself.
It was sent him in an unknown hand, but the same in which he received
the three former. He and his wife have offered to take their oaths that
they knew not the author; and therefore to find a bill, that may bring a
punishment upon the innocent, will appear very hard, to say no worse.
For it will be impossible to find the author, unless he will please to
discover himself, although I wonder he ever concealed his name. But I
suppose what he did at first out of modesty, he now continues to do out
of prudence. God protect us and him!

I will conclude all with a fable, ascribed to Demosthenes. He had served
the people of Athens with great fidelity in the station of an orator,
when upon a certain occasion, apprehending to be delivered over to his
enemies, he told the Athenians, his countrymen, the following story.
Once upon a time the wolves desired a league with the shepherds, upon
this condition; that the cause of strife might be taken away, which was
the shepherds and the mastiffs; this being granted, the wolves without
all fear made havoc of the sheep.[2]

Novem. 11th, 1724.

[Footnote 2: The advice had the desired effect. The jury returned a
verdict of "Ignoramus" on the bill, which so aroused Whitshed, the Chief
Justice, that he discharged them. As a comment on Whitshed's illegal
procedure, the following extract was circulated:


_Resolutions of the House of Commons, in England, November 13, 1680._

"Several persons being examined about the dismissing a grand jury in
Middlesex, the House came to the following resolutions:--

"_Resolved_, That the discharging of a grand-jury by any judge, before
the end of the term, assizes, or sessions, while matters are under their
consideration, and not presented, is arbitrary, illegal, destructive to
public justice, a manifest violation of his oath, and is a means to
subvert the fundamental laws of this kingdom.

"_Resolved_, That a committee be appointed to examine the proceedings of
the judges in Westminster-hall, and report the same with their opinion
therein to this House." [T.S.]]




I have departed from the order given by Faulkner and the earlier
editors,[1] and followed by Sir W. Scott in arranging the series of the
Drapier's Letters, by adhering to a more correct chronological sequence.
This letter has always been printed as the sixth Drapier's letter, but I
have printed it here as the fifth, since it was written prior to the
letter addressed to Viscount Molesworth, which has hitherto been called
the fifth. The Molesworth letter I print here as "Letter VI." As already
noted the letter to Midleton was written on the 26th October, 1724, but
its first publication in print did not occur until Faulkner included it
in the fourth volume of his collected edition of Swift's works, issued
in 1735. There it is signed "J.S." and is given as from the "Deanery
House." All the other letters are printed as "By M.B. Drapier." The
Advertisement to the Reader prefixed to the present fifth letter is from
Faulkner's edition. Probably it was printed by Faulkner under Swift's

[Footnote 1: Sheridan, Deane Swift, Hawkesworth and Nichols]

Swift's acquaintance with Midleton had been of long standing. The
Chancellor had been an avowed opponent of the patent and yet, by his
signature to the proclamation, he seemed to be giving the weight of his
official position against the popular sentiment. In addressing him,
Swift was endeavouring, apparently, to keep him to his original line of
action and to destroy any influence the government party may have had on
him, since he was well aware of Carteret's insinuating charm. Midleton,
however, had always stood firm against the patent. His signature to the
proclamation against the Drapier was justified by him when he said that
the Drapier's letters tended to disturbance. Carteret had really tried
to win him over, but he did not succeed "While he [Midleton] expressed
the highest obligation to the Lord Lieutenant," writes Coxe, "he
declared that his duty to his country was paramount to every other
consideration, and refused to give any assistance to government, until
the patent was absolutely surrendered."

The text here given of this letter is based on Faulkner's issue in vol.
iv. of the 1735 edition of Swift's works. It has been collated with that
given in the fifth volume of the "Miscellanies," printed in London in
the same year.



The former of the two following papers is dated Oct. 6th 1724[3], by
which it appears to be written a little after the proclamation against
the author of the Drapier's Fourth Letter. It is delivered with much
caution, because the author confesseth himself to be Dean of St.
Patrick's; and I could discover his name subscribed at the end of the
original, although blotted out by some other hand, I can tell no other
reason why it was not printed, than what I have heard; that the writer
finding how effectually the Drapier had succeeded, and at the same time
how highly the people in power seemed to be displeased, thought it more
prudent to keep the paper in his cabinet. However, having received some
encouragement to collect into one volume all papers relating to Ireland,
supposed to be written by the Drapier; and knowing how favourably that
author's writings in this kind have been received by the public; to make
the volume more complete, [I procured a copy of the following letter
from one of the author's friends, with whom it was left, while the
author was in England; and][4] I have printed it as near as I could in
the order of time.

[Footnote 2: Nichols, in the second volume of his Supplement to Swift's
Works (1779, 8vo), prints a note on this "Advertisement," furnished him
by Bowyer. It is as follows:

"1. The first of the papers is said to be dated Oct. 6, 1724; and that
it appears from thence to be dated a little after the proclamation
against the Drapier's fourth letter. Now the fourth letter itself is
dated Oct. 23, 1724. This is a pardonable mistake anywhere, but, much
more in a country where _going before just coming after_ is the
characteristic dialect. But I little thought that the Dean, in his zeal
for Ireland, would vouchsafe to adopt the shibboleth of it.

"2. The Preface-writer, in the choice MS which he found, could discover
the Dean's name subscribed at the end of the original; but _blotted out_
by _some other hand_. As the former passage is a proof that the
Advertisement was drawn up in Ireland, so this affords a strong
presumption that it was under the direction of the Dean himself: for who
else could divine that his name was struck out by another hand? Other
ink it might be: but in these recent MSS. of our age, it is the first
time I ever heard of a blot carrying the evidence of a handwriting.
Whether the Dean or the printer hit this _blot_, I shall not inquire;
but lay before you the pleasant procedure of the latter upon this
discovery. He had got, we see, the original in the Dean's hand; but the
name was obliterated. What does he, but send away to England for a copy
which might authenticate _his original_; and from such a copy the public
is favoured with it! I remember, in a cause before Sir Joseph Jekyll, a
man began reading in court the title-deeds of an estate which was
contested. 'The original is a little blind,' says he; 'I have got a very
fair copy of it, which I beg leave to go on with'--'Hold,' says Sir
Joseph, 'if the original is not good, the copy can never make it so.' I
am far, however, from accusing the printer of intending any fraud on the
world. He who tells his story so openly gives security enough for his
honesty. I can easily conceive the Advertisement might be in a good
measure the Dean's, who never was over-courteous to his readers, and
might for once be content to be merry with them." [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: Misprinted by Faulkner for Oct. 26th. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: This portion in square brackets is not given by Faulkner in
his Advertisement. [T.S.]]

The next treatise is called "An Address, &c." It is without a date; but
seems to be written during the first session of Parliament in Lord
Carteret's government. The title of this Address is in the usual form,
by M.B. Drapier. There is but a small part of it that relates to William
Wood and his coin: The rest contains several proposals for the
improvement of Ireland, the many discouragements it lies under, and what
are the best remedies against them.

By many passages in some of the Drapier's former letters, but
particularly in the following Address, concerning the great drain of
money from Ireland by absentees, importation of foreign goods, balance
of trade, and the like, it appears that the author had taken much pains,
and been well informed in the business of computing; all his reasonings
upon that subject, although he does not here descend to particular sums,
agreeing generally with the accounts given by others who have since made
that enquiry their particular study. And it is observable, that in this
Address, as well as in one of his printed letters, he hath specified
several important articles, that have not been taken notice of by others
who came after him.



My Lord, I desire you will consider me as a member who comes in at the
latter end of a debate; or as a lawyer who speaks to a cause, when the
matter hath been almost exhausted by those who spoke before.

[Footnote 5: Alan Brodrick, Lord Midleton (1660?-1728), came of a Surrey
family that had greatly benefited by the forfeitures in Ireland.
Adopting the profession of the law, Brodrick was, in 1695, appointed
Solicitor-General for Ireland. He sat in the Irish House of Commons as
the member for Cork, and in 1703 was chosen its Speaker. His strong
opposition to the Sacramental Test Act lost him the favour of the
government, and he was removed from his office of Solicitor-General. In
1707, however, he was appointed Attorney-General for Ireland, and in
1714 made Lord Chancellor. In the year following he was created Baron
Brodrick of Midleton. His trimming with Walpole and Carteret did not,
however, prevent him from opposing the Wood's patent, though he signed
the proclamation against the Drapier. He thought the letters served to
"create jealousies between the King and the people of Ireland." [T.S.]]

I remember some months ago I was at your house upon a commission, where
I am one of the governors: But I went thither not so much on account of
the commission, as to ask you some questions concerning Mr. Wood's
patent to coin halfpence for Ireland; where you very freely told me, in
a mixed company, how much you had been always against that wicked
project, which raised in me an esteem for you so far, that I went in a
few days to make you a visit, after many years' intermission. I am
likewise told, that your son wrote two letters from London, (one of
which I have seen) empowering those to whom they were directed, to
assure his friends, that whereas there was a malicious report spread of
his engaging himself to Mr. Walpole for forty thousand pounds of Wood's
coin, to be received in Ireland, the said report was false and
groundless; and he had never discoursed with that minister on the
subject; nor would ever give his consent to have one farthing of the
said coin current here. And although it be long since I have given
myself the trouble of conversing with people of titles or stations; yet
I have been told by those who can take up with such amusements, that
there is not a considerable person of the kingdom, scrupulous in any
sort to declare his opinion. But all this is needless to allege, when we
consider, that the ruinous consequences of Wood's patent, have been so
strongly represented by both Houses of Parliament; by the Privy-council;
the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of Dublin; by so many corporations; and the
concurrence of the principal gentlemen in most counties, at their
quarter-sessions, without any regard to party, religion, or nation.

I conclude from hence, that the currency of these halfpence would, in
the universal opinion of our people, be utterly destructive to this
kingdom; and consequently, that it is every man's duty, not only to
refuse this coin himself, but as far as in him lies, to persuade others
to do the like: And whether this be done in private or in print, is all
a case: As no layman is forbid to write, or to discourse upon religious
or moral subjects; although he may not do it in a pulpit (at least in
our church). Neither is this an affair of state, until authority shall
think fit to declare it so: Or if you should understand it in that
sense; yet you will please to consider that I am not now a preaching.

Therefore, I do think it my duty, since the Drapier will probably be no
more heard of, so far to supply his place, as not to incur his fortune:
For I have learnt from old experience, that there are times wherein a
man ought to be cautious as well as innocent. I therefore hope, that
preserving both those characters, I may be allowed, by offering new
arguments or enforcing old ones, to refresh the memory of my
fellow-subjects, and keep up that good spirit raised among them; to
preserve themselves from utter ruin by lawful means, and such as are
permitted by his Majesty.

I believe you will please to allow me two propositions: First, that we
are a most loyal people; and, Secondly, that we are a free people, in
the common acceptation of that word applied to a subject under a
limited monarch. I know very well, that you and I did many years ago
in discourse differ much, in the presence of Lord Wharton, about the
meaning of that word _liberty_, with relation to Ireland. But if you
will not allow us to be a free people, there is only another appellation
left; which, I doubt, my Lord Chief Justice Whitshed would call me to an
account for, if I venture to bestow: For, I observed, and I shall never
forget upon what occasion, the device upon his coach to be _Libertas et
natale solum;_ at the very point of time when he was sitting in his
court, and perjuring himself to betray both.[6]

[Footnote 6: On this motto of Whitshed's Swift wrote the following
poetical paraphrase:

"_Libertas et natale solum:_
Fine words! I wonder where you stole 'em.
Could nothing but thy chief reproach
Serve for a motto on thy coach?
But let me now thy words translate:
_Natale solum,_ my estate;
My dear estate, how well I love it,
My tenants, if you doubt, will prove it,
They swear I am so kind and good,
I hug them till I squeeze their blood.
  _Libertas_ bears a large import:
First, how to swagger in a court;
And, secondly, to shew my fury
Against an uncomplying jury;
And, thirdly, 'tis a new invention,
To favour Wood, and keep my pension;
And, fourthly, 'tis to play an odd trick,
Get the great seal and turn out Broderick;
And, fifthly, (you know whom I mean,)
To humble that vexatious Dean:
And, sixthly, for my soul to barter it
For fifty times its worth to Carteret.
Now since your motto thus you construe,
I must confess you've spoken once true.
_Libertas et natale solum_.
You had good reason when you stole 'em."


Now, as for our loyalty, to His present Majesty; if it hath ever been
equalled in any other part of his dominions; I am sure it hath never
been exceeded: And I am confident he hath not a minister in England who
could ever call it once in question: But that some hard rumours at least
have been transmitted from t'other side the water, I suppose you will
not doubt: and rumours of the severest kind; which many good people have
imputed to the indirect proceeding of Mr. Wood and his emissaries; as if
he endeavoured it should be thought that our loyalty depended upon the
test of refusing or taking his copper. Now, as I am sure you will admit
us to be a loyal people; so you will think it pardonable in us to hope
for all proper marks of favour and protection from so gracious a King,
that a loyal and free people can expect: Among which, we all agree in
reckoning this to be one; that Wood's halfpence may never have entrance
into this kingdom. And this we shall continue to wish, when we dare no
longer express our wishes; although there were no such mortal as a
Drapier in the world.

I am heartily sorry, that any writer should, in a cause so generally
approved, give occasion to the government and council to charge him with
paragraphs "highly reflecting upon His Majesty and his ministers;
tending to alienate the affections of his good subjects in England and
Ireland from each other; and to promote sedition among the people."[7] I
must confess, that with many others, I thought he meant well; although
he might have the failing of better writers, to be not always fortunate
in the manner of expressing himself.

[Footnote 7: Swift here quotes the words of the proclamation issued
against the fourth Drapier's Letter. See Appendix IV. [T.S.]]

However, since the Drapier is but one man, I shall think I do a public
service, by asserting that the rest of my countrymen are wholly free
from learning out of _his_ pamphlets to reflect on the King or his
ministers, to breed sedition.

I solemnly declare, that I never once heard the least reflection cast
upon the King, on the subject of Mr. Wood's coin: For in many discourses
on this matter, I do not remember His Majesty's name to be so much as
mentioned. As to the ministry in England, the only two persons hinted at
were the Duke of Grafton, and Mr. Walpole:[8] The former, as I have
heard you and a hundred others affirm, declared, that he never saw the
patent in favour of Mr. Wood, before it was passed, although he were
then lord lieutenant: And therefore I suppose everybody believes, that
his grace hath been wholly unconcerned in it since.

[Footnote 8: Walpole was created a Knight of the Bath in 1724, when that
order was revived. In 1726 he was installed Knight of the Order of the
Garter, being the only commoner who had been so distinguished since the
reign of James I., except Admiral Montague, afterwards Earl of Sandwich.
He had been offered a peerage in 1723, but declined it for himself,
accepting it for his son, who was created Baron Walpole of Walpole, in
Norfolk. [T.S.]]

Mr. Walpole was indeed supposed to be understood by the letter W. in
several newspapers; where it is said, that some expressions fell from
him not very favourable to the people of Ireland; for the truth of
which, the kingdom is not to answer, any more than for the discretion of
the publishers. You observe, the Drapier wholly clears Mr. Walpole of
this charge, by very strong arguments and speaks of him with civility. I
cannot deny myself to have been often present, where the company gave
then opinion, that Mr. Walpole favoured Mr. Wood's project, which I
always contradicted; and for my own part, never once opened my lips
against that minister, either in mixed or particular meetings: And my
reason for this reservedness was, because it pleased him, in the Queen's
time (I mean Queen Anne of ever blessed memory) to make a speech
directly against me, by name, in the House of Commons, as I was told a
very few minutes after, in the Court of Requests, by more than fifty

But you, who are in a great station here, (if anything here may be
called great) cannot be ignorant, that whoever is understood by public
voice to be chief minister, will, among the general talkers, share the
blame, whether justly or no, of every thing that is disliked; which I
could easily make appear in many instances, from my own knowledge, while
I was in the world; and particularly in the case of the greatest, the
wisest, and the most uncorrupt minister, I ever conversed with.[9]

[Footnote 9: Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford. [T.S.]]

But, whatever unpleasing opinion some people might conceive of Mr.
Walpole, on account of those halfpence; I dare boldly affirm, it was
entirely owing to Mr. Wood. Many persons of credit, come from England,
have affirmed to me, and others, that they have seen letters under his
hand, full of arrogance and insolence towards Ireland; and boasting of
his favour with Mr. Walpole; which is highly probable: Because he
reasonably thought it for his interest to spread such a report; and
because it is the known talent of low and little spirits, to have a
great man's name perpetually in their mouths.[10]

[Footnote 10: See Coxe's "Memoirs of Walpole" (vol. i., cap. 26, p. 389,
ed. 1800), where Wood is blamed for his indiscretion on this matter. See
also note prefixed to the Drapier's First Letter in the present edition.

Thus I have sufficiently justified the people of Ireland, from learning
any bad lessons out of the Drapier's pamphlets, with regard to His
Majesty and his ministers: And, therefore, if those papers were intended
to sow sedition among us, God be thanked, the seeds have fallen upon a
very improper soil.

As to alienating the affections of the people of England and Ireland
from each other; I believe, the Drapier, whatever his intentions were,
hath left that matter just as he found it.

I have lived long in both kingdoms, as well in country as in town; and
therefore, take myself to be as well informed as most men, in the
dispositions of each people toward the other. By the people, I
understand here, only the bulk of the common people; and I desire no
lawyer may distort or extend my meaning.

There is a vein of industry and parsimony, that runs through the whole
people of England; which, added to the easiness of their rents, makes
them rich and sturdy. As to Ireland, they know little more than they do
of Mexico; further than that it is a country subject to the King of
England, full of bogs, inhabited by wild Irish Papists; who are kept in
awe by mercenary troops sent from thence: And their general opinion is,
that it were better for England if this whole island were sunk into the
sea; for, they have a tradition, that every forty years there must be a
rebellion in Ireland. I have seen the grossest suppositions pass upon
them; "that the wild Irish were taken in toils; but that, in some time,
they would grow so tame, as to eat out of your hands:" I have been
asked by hundreds, and particularly by my neighbours, your tenants, at
Pepper-harrow; "whether I had come from Ireland by sea:" And, upon the
arrival of an Irishman to a country town, I have known crowds coming
about him, and wondering to see him look so much better than themselves.

A gentleman now in Dublin, affirms, "that passing some months ago
through Northampton, and finding the whole town in a flurry, with bells,
bonfires, and illuminations, upon asking the cause, was told, it was for
joy, that the Irish had submitted to receive Wood's halfpence." This, I
think, plainly shews what sentiments that large town hath of us; and how
little they made it their own case; although they be directly in our way
to London, and therefore, cannot but be frequently convinced that we
have human shapes.

As to the people of this kingdom, they consist either of Irish Papists;
who are as inconsiderable, in point of power, as the women and children;
or of English Protestants, who love their brethren of that kingdom;
although they may possibly sometimes complain, when they think they are
hardly used: However, I confess, I do not see any great consequence, how
their personal affections stand to each other, while the sea divides
them, and while they continue in their loyalty to the same prince. And
yet, I will appeal to you; whether those from England have reason to
complain, when they come hither in pursuit of their fortunes? Or,
whether the people of Ireland have reason to boast, when they go to
England on the same design?

My second proposition was, that we of Ireland are a free people: This, I
suppose, you will allow; at least, with certain limitations remaining in
your own breast. However, I am sure it is not criminal to affirm;
because the words "liberty" and "property," as applied to the subject,
are often mentioned in both houses of Parliament, as well as in yours,
and other courts below; from whence it must follow, that the people of
Ireland do, or ought to enjoy all the benefits of the common and statute
law; such as to be tried by juries, to pay no money without their own
consent, as represented in Parliament; and the like. If this be so, and
if it be universally agreed, that a free people cannot, by law, be
compelled to take any money in payment, except gold and silver; I do
not see why any man should be hindered from cautioning his countrymen
against this coin of William Wood; who is endeavouring by fraud to rob
us of that property, which the laws have secured. If I am mistaken, and
that this copper can be obtruded on us; I would put the Drapier's case
in another light, by supposing, that a person going into his shop,
should agree for thirty shillings' worth of goods, and force the seller
to take his payment in a parcel of copper pieces, intrinsically not
worth above a crown: I desire to know, whether the Drapier would not be
actually robbed of five and twenty shillings, and how far he could be
said to be master of his property? The same question may be applied to
rents and debts, on bond or mortgage, and to all kind of commerce

Give me leave to do what the Drapier hath done more than once before me;
which is, to relate the naked fact, as it stands in the view of the

One William Wood, Esq; and hardware-man, obtains, by fraud, a patent in
England, to coin 108,000_l._ in copper, to pass in Ireland, leaving us
liberty to take, or to refuse. The people here, in all sorts of bodies
and representatives, do openly and heartily declare, that they will not
accept this coin: To justify these declarations, they generally offer
two reasons; first, because by the words of the patent, they are left to
their own choice: And secondly, because they are not obliged by law: So
that here you see there is, _bellum atgue virum_, a kingdom on one side,
and William Wood on the other. And if Mr. Wood gets the victory, at the
expense of Ireland's ruin, and the profit of one or two hundred thousand
pounds (I mean by continuing, and counterfeiting as long as he lives)
for himself; I doubt, both present and future ages will, at least, think
it a very singular scheme.

If this fact be truly stated; I must confess, I look upon it as my duty,
so far as God hath enabled me, and as long as I keep within the bounds
of truth, of duty, and of decency, to warn my fellow-subjects, as they
value their King, their country, and all that ought or can be dear to
them, never to admit this pernicious coin; no not so much as one single
halfpenny. For, if one single thief forces the door, it is in vain to
talk of keeping out the whole crew behind.

And, while I shall be thus employed, I will never give myself leave to
suppose, that what I say can either offend my Lord Lieutenant; whose
person and great qualities I have always highly respected; (as I am sure
his excellency will be my witness) or the ministers in England, with
whom I have nothing to do, or they with me; much less the Privy-council
here, who, as I am informed, did send an address to His Majesty against
Mr. Wood's coin; which, if it be a mistake, I desire I may not be
accused for a spreader of false news: But, I confess, I am so great a
stranger to affairs, that for anything I know, the whole body of the
council may since have been changed: And, although I observed some of
the very same names in a late declaration against that coin, which I saw
subscribed to the proclamation against the Drapier; yet possibly they
may be different persons; for they are utterly unknown to me, and are
like to continue so.

In this controversy, where the reasoners on each side are divided by St.
George's Channel, His Majesty's prerogative, perhaps, would not have
been mentioned; if Mr. Wood, and his advocates, had not made it
necessary, by giving out, that the currency of his coin should be
enforced by a proclamation. The traders and common people of the
kingdom, were heartily willing to refuse this coin; but the fear of a
proclamation brought along with it most dreadful apprehensions. It was
therefore, absolutely necessary for the Drapier, to remove this
difficulty; and accordingly, in one of his former pamphlets, he hath
produced invincible arguments, (wherever he picked them up) that the
King's prerogative was not at all concerned in the matter; since the law
had sufficiently provided against any coin to be imposed upon the
subject, except gold and silver; and that copper is not money, but as it
hath been properly called _nummorum famulus_.

The three former letters from the Drapier, having not received any
public censure, I look upon them to be without exception; and that the
good people of the kingdom ought to read them often, in order to keep up
that spirit raised against this destructive coin of Mr. Wood: As for
this last letter, against which a proclamation is issued; I shall only
say, that I could wish it were stripped of all that can be any way
exceptionable; which I would not think it below me to undertake, if my
abilities were equal; but being naturally somewhat slow of
comprehension; no lawyer, and apt to believe the best of those who
profess good designs, without any visible motive either of profit or
honour; I might pore for ever, without distinguishing the cockle from
the corn.

That which, I am told, gives greatest offence in this last letter, is
where the Drapier affirms; "that if a rebellion should prove so
successful, as to fix the Pretender on the throne of England, he would
venture so far to transgress the Irish statute, (which unites Ireland to
England under one King) as to lose every drop of his blood, to hinder
him from being King of Ireland."

I shall not presume to vindicate any man, who openly declares he would
transgress a statute; and a statute of such importance: But, with the
most humble submission, and desire of pardon for a very innocent
mistake, I should be apt to think that the loyal intention of the
writer, might be at least some small extenuation of his crime. For, in
this I confess myself to think with the Drapier.

I have not hitherto been told of any other objections against that
pamphlet; but, I suppose, they will all appear at the prosecution of the
Drapier. And, I think, whoever in his own conscience believes the said
pamphlet to be "wicked and malicious, seditious and scandalous, highly
reflecting upon His Majesty and his ministers, &c." would do well to
discover the author, (as little a friend as I am to the trade of
informers) although the reward of 300_l_. had not been tacked to the
discovery. I own, it would be a great satisfaction to me, to hear the
arguments not only of judges, but of lawyers, upon this case. Because,
you cannot but know, there often happens occasions, wherein it would be
very convenient, that the bulk of the people should be informed how they
ought to conduct themselves; and therefore, it hath been the wisdom of
the English Parliaments, to be very reserved in limiting the press. When
a bill is debating in either House of Parliament there, nothing is more
usual, than to have the controversy handled by pamphlets on both sides;
without the least animadversion upon the authors.

So here, in the case of Mr. Wood and his coin; since the two Houses
gave their opinion by addresses, how dangerous the currency of that
copper would be to Ireland; it was, without all question, both lawful
and convenient, that the bulk of the people should be let more
particularly into the nature of the danger they were in; and of the
remedies that were in their own power, if they would have the sense to
apply them; and this cannot be more conveniently done, than by
particular persons, to whom God hath given zeal and understanding
sufficient for such an undertaking. Thus it happened in the case of that
destructive project for a bank in Ireland, which was brought into
Parliament a few years ago; and it was allowed, that the arguments and
writings of some without doors, contributed very much to reject it.[11]

[Footnote 11: Swift himself assisted in writing against this
"destructive project" in a series of pamphlets (see vol. vii.). The
arguments for and against the bank were thoroughly discussed by Hercules
Rowley and Henry Maxwell in a series of controversial letters against
each other. [T.S.]]

Now, I should be heartily glad if some able lawyers would prescribe the
limits, how far a private man may venture in delivering his thoughts
upon public matters: Because a true lover of his country, may think it
hard to be a quiet stander-by, and an indolent looker-on, while a public
error prevails; by which a whole nation may be ruined. Every man who
enjoys property, hath some share in the public; and therefore, the care
of the public is, in some degree, every such man's concern.

To come to particulars, I could wish to know, Whether it be utterly
unlawful in any writer so much as to mention the prerogative; at least
so far as to bring it into doubt, upon any point whatsoever? I know it
is often debated in Westminster-hall; and Sir Edward Coke, as well as
other eminent lawyers, do frequently handle that subject in their books.

Secondly, How far the prerogative extends to force coin upon the
subject, which is not sterling; such as lead, brass, copper, mixt metal,
shells, leather, or any other material; and fix upon it whatever
denomination the crown shall think fit?

Thirdly, What is really and truly meant by that phrase of "a depending
kingdom," as applied to Ireland; and wherein that dependency consisteth?

Lastly, In what points relating to liberty and property, the people of
Ireland differ, or at least ought to differ, from those of England?

If these particulars were made so clear, that none could mistake them,
it would be of infinite ease and use to the kingdom; and either prevent
or silence all discontents.

My Lord Somers, the greatest man I ever knew of your robe; and whose
thoughts of Ireland differed as far as heaven and earth, from those of
some others among his brethren here; lamented to me, that the
prerogative of the Crown, or the privileges of Parliament, should ever
be liable to dispute, in any single branch of either; by which means, he
said, the public often suffered great inconveniences; whereof he gave me
several instances. I produce the authority of so eminent a person, to
justify my desires, that some high points might be cleared.

For want of such known ascertainment, how far a writer may proceed in
expressing his good wishes for his country; a person of the most
innocent intentions, may possibly, by the oratory and comments of
lawyers, be charged with many crimes, which from his very soul he
abhors; and consequently may be ruined in his fortunes, and left to rot
among thieves in some stinking jail; merely for mistaking the purlieus
of the law. I have known, in my lifetime, a printer prosecuted and
convicted, for publishing a pamphlet; where the author's intentions, I
am confident, were as good and innocent, as those of a martyr at his
last prayers.[12] I did very lately, as I thought it my duty, preach to
the people under my inspection, upon the subject of Mr. Wood's coin; and
although I never heard that my sermon gave the least offence, as I am
sure none was intended; yet, if it were now printed and published, I
cannot say, I would ensure it from the hands of the common hangman; or
my own person from those of a messenger.[13]

[Footnote 12: Supposed to be "A proposal for the universal use of Irish
manufactures," written by the author. [F.]]

[Footnote 13: The reference here is to Swift's sermon on "Doing Good."
See Swift's Works, vol. iv., p. 181, present edition. [T.S.]]

I have heard the late Chief Justice Holt[14]affirm, that in all criminal
cases, the most favourable interpretation should be put upon words, that
they can possibly bear. You meet the same position asserted in many
trials, for the greatest crimes; though often very ill practised, by the
perpetual corruption of judges. And I remember, at a trial in Kent,
where Sir George Rook[15] was indicted for calling a gentleman knave and
villain; the lawyer for the defendant brought off his client, by
alleging, that the words were not injurious; for, _knave_ in the old and
true signification, imported only a servant; and _villain_ in Latin, is
_villicus_; which is no more than a man employed in country labour; or
rather a bailiff.

[Footnote 14: Sir John Holt (1642-1710) held the recordership of London,
in 1685, and was appointed Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench in
1688. In the celebrated case, Ashby _v._. White, Holt strongly upheld
the rights of the voter as against the House of Commons. He was
distinguished, in his time, for the fair and impartial hearing he always
accorded a prisoner, and he even personally assisted the accused in
cases where the law did not allow him to be represented by counsel. Many
of Holt's opinions did become "standard maxims." [T.S.]]

[Footnote 15: Admiral Sir George Rooke (1650-1709), who, with
Rear-Admiral Byng, captured Gibraltar in 1704. [T.S.]]

If Sir John Holt's opinion were a standard maxim for all times and
circumstances, any writer, with a very small measure of discretion,
might easily be safe; but, I doubt, in practice it hath been frequently
controlled, at least before his time; for I take it to be an old rule in

I have read, or heard, a passage of Signor Leti, an Italian; who being
in London, busying himself with writing the History of England, told
King Charles the Second, that he endeavoured as much as he could to
avoid giving offence, but found it a thing impossible; although he
should have been as wise as Solomon: The King answered, that if this
were the case, he had better employ his time in writing proverbs as
Solomon did: But Leti lay under no public necessity of writing; neither
would England have been one halfpenny the better, or the worse, whether
he writ or no.

This I mention, because I know it will readily be objected, "What have
private men to do with the public? What call had a Drapier to turn
politician, to meddle in matters of state? Would not his time have been
better employed in looking to his shop; or his pen in writing proverbs,
elegies, ballads, garlands, and wonders? He would then have been out of
all danger of proclamations, and prosecutions. Have we not able
magistrates and counsellors hourly watching over the public weal?" All
this may be true: And yet, when the addresses from both Houses of
Parliament, against Mr. Wood's halfpence, failed of success; if some pen
had not been employed, to inform the people how far they might legally
proceed, in refusing that coin, to detect the fraud, the artifice, and
insolence of the coiner; and to lay open the most ruinous consequences
to the whole kingdom; which would inevitably follow from the currency of
the said coin; I might appeal to many hundred thousand people, whether
any one of them would ever have had the courage or sagacity to refuse

If this copper should begin to make its way among the common, ignorant
people, we are inevitably undone; it is they who give us the greatest
apprehension, being easily frighted, and greedy to swallow
misinformations: For, if every man were wise enough to understand his
own interest, which is every man's principal study, there would be no
need of pamphlets upon this occasion. But, as things stand, I have
thought it absolutely necessary, from my duty to God, my King, and my
country, to inform the people, that the proclamation lately issued
against the Drapier, doth not in the least affect the case of Mr. Wood
and his coin; but only refers to certain paragraphs in the Drapier's
last pamphlet, (not immediately relating to his subject, nor at all to
the merits of the cause,) which the government was pleased to dislike;
so that any man has the same liberty to reject, to write, and to declare
against this coin, which he had before: Neither is any man obliged to
believe, that those honourable persons (whereof you are the first) who
signed that memorable proclamation against the Drapier, have at all
changed their opinions, with regard to Mr. Wood or his coin.

Therefore concluding myself to be thus far upon a safe and sure foot; I
shall continue, upon any proper occasion, as God enables me, to revive
and preserve that spirit raised in the nation, (whether the real author
were a real Drapier or no is little to the purpose) against this horrid
design of Mr. Wood; at the same time carefully watching every stroke of
my pen, and venturing only to incur the public censure of the world as a
writer; not of my Lord Chief Justice Whitshed, as a criminal. Whenever
an order shall come out by authority, forbidding all men upon the
highest penalties, to offer anything in writing or discourse against
Mr. Wood's halfpence; I shall certainly submit. However, if that should
happen, I am determined to be somewhat more than the last man in the
kingdom to receive them; because I will never receive them at all: For,
although I know how to be silent; I have not yet learned to pay active
obedience against my conscience, and the public safety.

I desire to put a case, which I think the Drapier, in some of his books,
hath put before me; although not so fully as it requires.

You know the copper halfpence in England are coined by the public; and
every piece worth pretty tolerably near the value of the copper. Now
suppose, that, instead of the public coinage, a patent had been granted
to some private, obscure person, for coining a proportionable quantity
of copper in that kingdom, to what Mr. Wood is preparing in this; and
all of it at least five times below the intrinsic value: The current
money of England is reckoned to be twenty millions; and ours under five
hundred thousand pounds: By this computation, as Mr. Wood hath power to
give us 108,000 pound; so the patentee in England, by the same
proportion, might circulate four millions three hundred and twenty
thousand pounds; besides as much more by stealth and counterfeits: I
desire to know from you, whether the Parliament might not have addressed
upon such an occasion; what success they probably would have had; and
how many Drapiers would have risen to pester the world with pamphlets:
Yet that kingdom would not be so great a sufferer as ours in the like
case; because their cash would not be conveyed into foreign countries,
but lie hid in the chests of cautious, thrifty men, until better times.
Then I desire, for the satisfaction of the public, that you will please
to inform me why this country is treated in so very different a manner,
in a point of such high importance; whether it be on account of
Poining's act; of subordination; dependence; or any other term of art;
which I shall not contest, but am too dull to understand.

I am very sensible, that the good or ill success of Mr. Wood, will
affect you less than any person of consequence in the kingdom; because I
hear you are so prudent as to make all your purchases in England; and
truly so would I, if I had money, although I were to pay a hundred
years' purchase; because I should be glad to possess a freehold that
could not be taken from me by any law to which I did not give my own
consent; and where I should never be in danger of receiving my rents in
mixed copper, at the loss of sixteen shillings in the pound. You can
live in ease and plenty at Pepper-harrow, in Surrey; and therefore I
thought it extremely generous and public-spirited in you to be of the
kingdom's side in this dispute, by shewing, without reserve, your
disapprobation of Mr. Wood's design; at least if you have been so frank
to others as you were to me; which indeed I could not but wonder at,
considering how much we differ in other points; and therefore I could
get but few believers, when I attempted to justify you in this article
from your own words.

I would humbly offer another thought, which I do not remember to have
fallen under the Drapier's observation. If these halfpence should once
gain admittance; it is agreed, that in no long space of time, what by
the clandestine practices of the coiner, what by his own counterfeits,
and those of others, either from abroad or at home; his limited quantity
would be trebled upon us, until there would not be a grain of gold or
silver visible in the nation. This, in my opinion would lay a heavy
charge upon the crown, by creating a necessity of transmitting money
from England to pay the salaries at least of the principal civil
officers: For I do not conceive how a judge (for instance) could support
his dignity with a thousand pounds a year in Wood's coin; which would
not intrinsically be worth near two hundred. To argue that these
halfpence, if no other coin were current, would answer the general ends
of commerce among ourselves, is a great mistake; and the Drapier hath
made that matter too clear to admit an answer; by shewing us what every
owner of land must be forced to do with the products of it in such a
distress. You may read his remarks at large in his second and third
letter; to which I refer you.

Before I conclude, I cannot but observe, that for several months past,
there have more papers been written in this town, such as they are, all
upon the best public principle, the love of our country, than, perhaps,
hath been known in any other nation, and in so short a time: I speak in
general, from the Drapier down to the maker of ballads; and all without
any regard to the common motives of writers: which are profit, favour,
and reputation. As to profit, I am assured by persons of credit, that
the best ballad upon Mr. Wood will not yield above a groat to the
author; and the unfortunate adventurer Harding, declares he never made
the Drapier any present, except one pair of scissors. As to favour,
whoever thinks to make his court by opposing Mr. Wood is not very deep
in politics. And as to reputation, certainly no man of worth and
learning, would employ his pen upon so transitory a subject, and in so
obscure a corner of the world, to distinguish himself as an author. So
that I look upon myself, the Drapier, and my numerous brethren, to be
all true patriots in our several degrees.

All that the public can expect for the future, is only to be sometimes
warned to beware of Mr. Wood's halfpence; and refer them for conviction
to the Drapier's reasons. For, a man of the most superior understanding,
will find it impossible to make the best use of it, while he writes in
constraint; perpetually softening, correcting, or blotting out
expressions, for fear of bringing his printer, or himself, under a
prosecution from my Lord Chief-Justice Whitshed. It calls to my
remembrance the madman in Don Quixote, who being soundly beaten by a
weaver for letting a stone (which he always carried on his shoulder)
fall upon a spaniel, apprehended that every cur he met was of the same

For these reasons, I am convinced, that what I have now written will
appear low and insipid; but if it contributes, in the least, to preserve
that union among us for opposing this fatal project of Mr. Wood, my
pains will not be altogether lost.

I sent these papers to an eminent lawyer (and yet a man of virtue and
learning into the bargain) who, after many alterations returned them
back, with assuring me, that they are perfectly innocent; without the
least mixture of treason, rebellion, sedition, malice, disaffection,
reflection, or wicked insinuation whatsoever.

If the bellman of each parish, as he goes his circuit, would cry out,
every night, "Past twelve o'clock; Beware of Wood's halfpence;" it would
probably cut off the occasion for publishing any more pamphlets;
provided that in country towns it were done upon market days. For my
own part, as soon as it shall be determined, that it is not against law,
I will begin the experiment in the liberty of St. Patrick's; and hope my
example may be followed in the whole city But if authority shall think
fit to forbid all writings, or discourses upon this subject, except such
as are in favour of Mr. Wood, I will obey as it becomes me; only when I
am in danger of bursting, I will go and whisper among the reeds, not any
reflection upon the wisdom of my countrymen; but only these few words,

I am,
    With due Respect,
        Your Most Obedient,
            Humble Servant,

Deanery House,
    Oct. 26, 1724.




This letter, hitherto styled the Drapier's fifth letter, is here printed
as the sixth, for the reasons already stated. It was published on the
14th December, 1724, at a time when the Drapier agitation had reached
its last stage. The Drapier had taught his countrymen that "to be brave
is to be wise," and he now struck the final blow that laid prostrate an
already tottering opposition.

Walpole realized that to govern Ireland from England he must have a
trustier aid, a heavier hand, and a more vigilant eye, than were
afforded in Carteret. Carteret, however, was better away in Ireland,
and, moreover, as Lord-Lieutenant, he was an ameliorating influence on
the Irish patriotic party in Dublin. But that party was now backed by a
very important popular opinion. For the present, therefore, he gave way;
but his real feelings might have been discovered by an interpretation of
his appointment of Hugh Boulter as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of
Ireland.[1] Boulter's letter to the Duke of Newcastle, written after his
arrival in Dublin towards the end of November, 1724, gave a very
unambiguous account of the state of the country towards the patent. On
the 3rd of December, he wrote, "We are at present in a very bad state,
and the people so poisoned with apprehensions of Wood's halfpence, that
I do not see there can be any hopes of justice against any person for
seditious writings, if he does but mix somewhat about Wood in them....
But all sorts here are determinedly set against Wood's halfpence, and
look upon their estates as half sunk in their value, whenever they shall
pass upon the nation."[2] On January 19th 1724-1725, the Primate wrote
again to the same effect. On the 3rd of July, he hopes that, as
parliament is about to meet, the Lord-Lieutenant "will be impowered in
his speech to speak clearly as to the business of the halfpence, and
thoroughly rid this nation of their fear on that head."[3] Boulter's
advice was taken. On the 14th August, 1725, a vacation of the patent was
issued, and when parliament met shortly after, the Lord-Lieutenant was
able, in his speech, to announce that his Majesty had put an entire end
to the patent granted Wood for coining copper halfpence and farthings.
He alluded to the surrender as a remarkable instance of royal favour and
condescension which should fill the hearts of a loyal and obedient
people with the highest sense of duty and gratitude. He doubted not the
Houses would make suitable acknowledgment of their sense of happiness
enjoyed under his Majesty's most mild and gracious government.[4]

[Footnote 1: See note on pp. 111-112.]

[Footnote 2: Boulter's letter, vol. i., p. 3. Dublin edition, 1770.]

[Footnote 3: _Ibid_., p. 29.]

[Footnote 4: Comm. Journals, vol. iii., p. 398.]

The Commons unanimously voted an address suitable to the occasion and in
harmony with the Lord-Lieutenant's suggestion. But the Lords
procrastinated in debates. It was a question whether their address
should or should not include the words "great wisdom" in addition to the
word "condescension" to express their sense of his Majesty's action.
Finally, however, the address was forthcoming, though not before some
strenuous expressions of opinion had been made by Midleton and
Archbishop King against Walpole's administration. As passed, their
Address included the debated words; as presented the Address omitted

Thus ended this famous agitation in which the people of Ireland won
their first victory over England by constitutional means. Wood was no
loser by the surrender; indeed, he was largely the gainer, since he was
given a pension of £3,000 per annum for twelve years.[5]

[Footnote 5: Coxe says for eight years.]

Now that the fight was over the people, to use Scott's words, "turned
their eyes with one consent on the man, by whose unbending fortitude,
and pre-eminent talents, this triumph was accomplished." He was hailed
joyously and blessed fervently wherever he went; the people almost
idolized him; he was their defender and their liberator. No monarch
visiting his domains could have been received with greater honour than
was Swift when he came into a town. Medals and medallions were struck in
his honour. A club was formed to the memory of the Drapier; shops and
taverns bore the sign of the Drapier's Head; children and women carried
handkerchiefs with the Drapier's portrait woven in them. All grades of
society respected him for an influence that, founded in sincerity and
guided by integrity and consummate ability, had been used patriotically.
The DEAN became Ireland's chiefest citizen; and Irishmen will ever
revere the memory of the man who was the first among them to precipitate
their national instincts into the abiding form of national power--the
reasoned opinion of a free people.

The text of this letter is based on that given by Sir Walter Scott,
collated with the original edition and with the text given in "Fraud
Detected" (1725).




      To the Right Honourable the
     *Lord Viscount _Molesworth_.*

       *       *       *       *       *

By _M.B. Drapier_, Author of the Letter
       to the _Shop-keepers_, &c.

       *       *       *       *       *

They compassed me about also with Words of
  Deceit, and fought against me without a Cause.

For my Love they are my Adversaries, but I give
  my self unto Prayer.

And they have rewarded me Evil for Good, and
  Hatred for my Love.  _Psalm_ 109. _v_. 3, 4, 5.

Seek not to be Judge, being not able to take
  away Iniquity, lest at any Time thou fear the
  Person of the  Mighty, and  lay a stumbling
  Block in the Way of thy Uprightness.

Offend not against the Multitude of a City, and
  then thou shalt not cast thy self down among
  the People.

Bind not one Sin upon another, for in One thou
  shalt not be Unpunished.    _Ecclus_. Ch. 7. V. 6,
  7, 8.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Non jam prima peto Mnesttheus, neque vincere certo:
Quanquam O! Sed superent, quibus Hoc,  Neptune, dedisti._

       *       *       *       *       *

Printed by _John  Harding_ in
_Molesworth's Court_ in _Fishamble-street_.


MR. HARDING, When I sent you my former papers, I cannot say I intended
you either good or hurt, and yet you have happened through my means to
receive both. I pray God deliver you from any more of the latter, and
increase the former. Your trade, particularly in this kingdom, is of all
others the most unfortunately circumstantiated; For as you deal in the
most worthless kind of trash, the penny productions of pennyless
scribblers, so you often venture your liberty and sometimes your lives,
for the purchase of half-a-crown, and by your own ignorance are punished
for other men's actions.

I am afraid, you in particular think you have reason to complain of me
for your own and your wife's confinement in prison, to your great
expense, as well as hardship, and for a prosecution still impending. But
I will tell you, Mr. Harding, how that matter stands. Since the press
hath lain under so strict an inspection, those who have a mind to inform
the world are become so cautious, as to keep themselves if possible out
of the way of danger. My custom is to dictate to a 'prentice who can
write in a feigned hand, and what is written we send to your house by a
blackguard boy. But at the same time I do assure you upon my reputation,
that I never did send you anything, for which I thought you could
possibly be called to an account. And you will be my witness that I
always desired you by a letter to take some good advice before you
ventured to print, because I knew the dexterity of dealers in the law at
finding out something to fasten on where no evil is meant; I am told
indeed, that you did accordingly consult several very able persons, and
even some who afterwards appeared against you: To which I can only
answer, that you must either change your advisers, or determine to print
nothing that comes from a Drapier.

I desire you will send the enclosed letter, directed "To my Lord
Viscount Molesworth at his house at Brackdenstown near Swords;" but I
would have it sent printed for the convenience of his Lordship's
reading, because this counterfeit hand of my 'prentice is not very
legible. And if you think fit to publish it, I would have you first get
it read over carefully by some notable lawyer: I am assured you will
find enough of them who are friends to the Drapier, and will do it
without a fee, which I am afraid you can ill afford after all your
expenses. For although I have taken so much care, that I think it
impossible to find a topic out of the following papers for sending you
again to prison; Yet I will not venture to be your guarantee.

This ensuing letter contains only a short account of myself, and an
humble apology for my former pamphlets, especially the last, with little
mention of Mr. Wood or his halfpence, because I have already said enough
upon that subject, until occasion shall be given for new fears; and in
that case you may perhaps hear from me again.

I am,
  Your Friend
    and Servant,

From my shop in
St. Francis-street
Dec. 14. 1724.

_P.S._ For want of intercourse between you and me, which I never will
suffer, your people are apt to make very gross errors in the press,
which I desire you will provide against.



My Lord, I reflect too late on the maxim of common observers, that
"those who meddle in matters out of their calling, will have reason to
repent;" which is now verified in me: For by engaging in the trade of a
writer, I have drawn upon myself the displeasure of the government,
signified by a proclamation promising a reward of three hundred pounds
to the first faithful subject who shall be able and inclined to inform
against me. To which I may add the laudable zeal and industry of my Lord
Chief Justice [Whitshed] in his endeavours to discover so dangerous a
person. Therefore whether I repent or no, I have certainly cause to do
so, and the common observation still stands good.

[Footnote 6: Robert, Viscount Molesworth (1656-1725), born in Dublin and
educated at the University there, was a prominent adherent of the Prince
of Orange during the Revolution of 1688. In 1692 William sent him to
Denmark as envoy-extraordinary to the Court at Copenhagen; but he left
abruptly because of the offence he gave there. Retiring to Flanders,
Molesworth revenged himself by writing, "An Account of Denmark as it was
in 1692," in which he described that country as no fit place for those
who held their liberties dearly. Molesworth had been strongly imbued
with the republican teachings of Algernon Sidney, and his book affords
ample proof of the influence. Its publication aroused much indignation,
and a controversy ensued in which Swift's friend, Dr. William King, took
part. In 1695 Molesworth returned to Ireland, became a Privy Councillor
in 1697, sat in the Irish parliament in 1703-1705, and in the English
House of Commons from 1705 to 1708. In 1713 he was removed from the
Irish Privy Council on a charge of a treasonable utterance, which Steele
vindicated in "The Englishman" and "The Crisis." The accession of George
I., however, brought Molesworth into his honours again, and he was
created Baron Molesworth of Philipstown, and Viscount Molesworth of
Swords, in 1719. His work entitled "Considerations for Promoting
Agriculture," issued in 1723, was considered by Swift as "an excellent
discourse, full of most useful hints." At the time Swift addressed him
this sixth letter, Molesworth was living in retirement at Brackdenstown.

It will sometimes happen, I know not how in the course of human affairs,
that a man shall be made liable to legal animadversions, where he has
nothing to answer for, either to God or his country; and condemned at
Westminster-hall for what he will never be charged with at the Day of

After strictly examining my own heart, and consulting some divines of
great reputation, I cannot accuse myself of any "malice or wickedness
against the public;" of any "designs to sow sedition," of "reflecting on
the King and his ministers," or of endeavouring "to alienate the
affections of the people of this kingdom from those of England."[7] All
I can charge myself with, is a weak attempt to serve a nation in danger
of destruction by a most wicked and malicious projector, without waiting
until I were called to its assistance; which attempt, however it may
perhaps give me the title of _pragmatical_ and _overweening_ will never
lie a burthen upon my conscience. God knows whether I may not with all
my caution have already run myself into danger, by offering thus much in
my own vindication. For I have heard of a judge, who, upon the
criminal's appeal to the dreadful Day of Judgment, told him he had
incurred a _premunire_ for appealing to a foreign jurisdiction: And of
another in Wales, who severely checked the prisoner for offering the
same plea, taxing him with reflecting on the Court by such a comparison,
because "comparisons were odious."

[Footnote 7: The quotations are from the charges stated in the
indictment and proclamation against the writer and printer of the
previous letters. [T.S.] ]

But in order to make some excuse for being more speculative than others
of my condition, I desire your lordship's pardon, while I am doing a
very foolish thing, which is, to give you some little account of myself.

I was bred at a free school where I acquired some little knowledge in
the Latin tongue, I served my apprenticeship in London, and there set up
for myself with good success, till by the death of some friends, and
the misfortunes of others, I returned into this kingdom, and began to
employ my thoughts in cultivating the woollen manufacture through all
its branches Wherein I met with great discouragement and powerful
opposers, whose objections appeared to me very strange and singular They
argued that the people of England would be offended if our manufactures
were brought to equal theirs; and even some of the weaving trade were my
enemies, which I could not but look upon as absurd and unnatural I
remember your lordship at that time did me the honour to come into my
shop, where I shewed you a piece of black and white stuff just sent from
the dyer, which you were pleased to approve of, and be my customer for

[Footnote 8: The "piece of black and white stuff just sent from the
dyer," refers to his pamphlet, issued in 1720, "The Proposal for the
Universal Use of Irish Manufactures." See vol. vii. [T.S.]]

However I was so mortified, that I resolved for the future to sit
quietly in my shop, and deal in common goods like the rest of my
brethren; till it happened some months ago considering with myself that
the lower and poorer sort of people wanted a _plain strong coarse stuff
to defend them against cold easterly winds, which then blew very fierce
and blasting for a long time together_, I contrived one on purpose,
which sold very well all over the kingdom, and preserved many thousands
from agues I then made a second and a third kind of stuffs for the
gentry with the same success, insomuch that an ague hath hardly been
heard of for some time.[9]

[Footnote 9: The "cold easterly winds" refer to the demands made on the
Irish people to accept Wood's halfpence. The three different kinds of
"stuffs" are the three letters written under the _nom de guerre,_ "M.B.
Drapier." [T.S.]]

This incited me so far, that I ventured upon a fourth piece made of the
best Irish wool I could get, and I thought it grave and rich enough to
be worn by the best lord or judge of the land. But of late some great
folks complain as I hear, "that when they had it on, they felt a
shuddering in their limbs," and have thrown it off in a rage, cursing to
hell the poor Drapier who invented it, so that I am determined never to
work for persons of quality again, except for your lordship and a very
few more.[10]

[Footnote 10: This refers to the fourth letter of the Drapier, which
brought forth the proclamation, and for the author of which the reward
of £300 was offered. [T.S.]]

I assure your lordship upon the word of an honest citizen, that I am not
richer by the value of one of Mr. Wood's halfpence with the sale of all
the several stuffs I have contrived; for I give the whole profit to the
dyers and pressers.[11] And therefore I hope you will please to believe,
that no other motive beside the love of my country could engage me to
busy my head and hands to the loss of my time and the gain of nothing
but vexation and ill-will.

[Footnote 11: The printers [F.]]

I have now in hand one piece of stuff to be woven on purpose for your
lordship, although I might be ashamed to offer it you, after I have
confessed that it will be made only from the shreds and remnants of the
wool employed in the former. However I shall work it up as well as I
can, and at worst, you need only give it among your tenants.

I am very sensible how ill your lordship is like to be entertained with
the pedantry of a drapier in the terms of his own trade. How will the
matter be mended, when you find me entering again, though very
sparingly, into an affair of state; for such is now grown the
controversy with Mr. Wood, if some great lawyers are to be credited. And
as it often happens at play, that men begin with farthings, and go on to
gold, till some of them lose their estates, and die in jail; so it may
possibly fall out in my case, that by playing too long with Mr. Wood's
halfpence, I may be drawn in to pay a fine, double to the reward for
betraying me, be sent to prison, and "not be delivered thence till I
shall have paid the uttermost farthing."

There are my lord, three sorts of persons with whom I am resolved never
to dispute: A highwayman with a pistol at my breast, a troop of dragoons
who come to plunder my house, and a man of the law who can make a merit
of accusing me. In each of these cases, which are almost the same, the
best method is to keep out of the way, and the next best is to deliver
your money, surrender your house, and confess nothing.

I am told that the two points in my last letter, from which an occasion
of offence hath been taken, are where I mention His Majesty's answer to
the address of the House of Lords upon Mr. Wood's patent, and where I
discourse upon Ireland's being a dependent kingdom. As to the former, I
can only say, that I have treated it with the utmost respect and
caution, and I thought it necessary to shew where Wood's patent differed
in many essential parts from all others that ever had been granted,
because the contrary had for want of due information been so strongly
and so largely asserted. As to the other, of Ireland's dependency, I
confess to have often heard it mentioned, but was never able to
understand what it meant. This gave me the curiosity to enquire among
several eminent lawyers, who professed they knew nothing of the matter.
I then turned over all the statutes of both kingdoms without the least
information, further than an Irish act, that I quoted, of the 33d of
Henry 8th, uniting Ireland to England under one king. I cannot say I was
sorry to be disappointed in my search, because it is certain, I could be
contented to depend only upon God and my prince and the laws of my own
country, after the manner of other nations. But since my betters are of
a different opinion, and desire further dependencies, I shall readily
submit, not insisting on the exception I made of M.B. Drapier. For
indeed that hint was borrowed from an idle story I had heard in England,
which perhaps may be common and beaten, but because it insinuates
neither treason nor sedition, I will just barely relate it.

Some hundred years ago when the peers were so great that the commons
were looked upon as little better than their dependents, a bill was
brought in for making some new additions to the power and privileges of
the peerage. After it was read, one Mr. Drewe a member of the house,
stood up, and said, he very much approved the bill, and would give his
vote to have it pass; but however, for some reasons best known to
himself, he desired that a clause might be inserted for excepting the
family of the Drewes. The oddness of the proposition taught others to
reflect a little, and the bill was thrown out.

Whether I were mistaken, or went too far in examining the dependency
must be left to the impartial judgment of the world, as well as to the
courts of judicature, although indeed not in so effectual and decisive
a manner. But to affirm, as I hear some do, in order to countenance a
fearful and servile spirit, that this point did not belong to my
subject, is a false and foolish objection. There were several scandalous
reports industriously spread by Wood and his accomplices to discourage
all opposition against his infamous project. They gave it out that we
were prepared for a rebellion, that we disputed the King's prerogative,
and were shaking off our dependency. The first went so far, and obtained
so much belief against the most visible demonstrations to the contrary,
that a great person of this kingdom, now in England, sent over such an
account of it to his friends, as would make any good subject both grieve
and tremble. I thought it therefore necessary to treat that calumny as
it deserved. Then I proved by an invincible argument that we could have
no intention to dispute His Majesty's prerogative, because the
prerogative was not concerned in the question, the civilians and lawyers
of all nations agreeing that copper is not money. And lastly to clear us
from the imputation of shaking off our dependency, I shewed wherein as I
thought this dependency consisted, and cited the statute above mentioned
made in Ireland, by which it is enacted, that "whoever is King of
England shall be King of Ireland," and that the two kingdoms shall be
"for ever knit together under one King." This, as I conceived, did
wholly acquit us of intending to break our dependency, because it was
altogether out of our power, for surely no King of England will ever
consent to the repeal of that statute.

But upon this article I am charged with a heavier accusation. It is said
I went too far, when I declared, that "if ever the Pretender should come
to be fixed upon the throne of England (which God forbid) I would so far
venture to transgress this statute, that I would lose the last drop of
my blood before I would submit to him as King of Ireland."

This I hear on all sides, is the strongest and weightiest objection
against me, and which hath given the most offence; that I should be so
bold to declare against a direct statute, and that any motive how strong
soever, could make me reject a King whom England should receive. Now if
in defending myself from this accusation I should freely confess, that I
"went too far," that "the expression was very indiscreet, although
occasioned by my zeal for His present Majesty and his Protestant line in
the House of Hanover," that "I shall be careful never to offend again in
the like kind." And that "I hope this free acknowledgment and sorrow for
my error, will be some atonement and a little soften the hearts of my
powerful adversaries." I say if I should offer such a defence as this, I
do not doubt but some people would wrest it to an ill meaning by some
spiteful interpretation, and therefore since I cannot think of any other
answer, which that paragraph can admit, I will leave it to the mercy of
every candid reader.

I will now venture to tell your lordship a secret, wherein I fear you
are too deeply concerned You will therefore please to know that this
habit of writing and discoursing, wherein I unfortunately differ from
almost the whole kingdom, and am apt to grate the ears of more than I
could wish, was acquired during my apprenticeship in London, and a long
residence there after I had set up for myself. Upon my return and
settlement here, I thought I had only changed one country of freedom for
another. I had been long conversing with the writings of your
lordship,[12] Mr. Locke, Mr. Molineaux,[13] Colonel Sidney[14] and other
dangerous authors, who talk of "liberty as a blessing, to which the
whole race of mankind hath an original title, whereof nothing but
unlawful force can divest them." I knew a good deal of the several
Gothic institutions in Europe, and by what incidents and events they
came to be destroyed; and I ever thought it the most uncontrolled and
universally agreed maxim, that _freedom_ consists in a people being
governed by laws made with their own consent; and _slavery_ in the
contrary. I have been likewise told, and believe it to be true, that
_liberty_ and _property_ are words of known use and signification in
this kingdom, and that the very lawyers pretend to understand, and have
them often in their mouths. These were the errors which have misled me,
and to which alone I must impute the severe treatment I have received.
But I shall in time grow wiser, and learn to consider my driver, the
road I am in, and with whom I am yoked. This I will venture to say, that
the boldest and most obnoxious words I ever delivered, would in England
have only exposed me as a stupid fool, who went to prove that the sun
shone in a clear summer's day; and I have witnesses ready to depose that
your lordship hath said and writ fifty times worse, and what is still an
aggravation, with infinitely more wit and learning, and stronger
arguments, so that as politics run, I do not know a person of more
exceptionable principles than yourself; and if ever I shall be
discovered, I think you will be bound in honour to pay my fine and
support me in prison; or else I may chance to inform against you by way
of reprisal.[15]

[Footnote 12: See note _ante_, p. 161. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 13: William Molyneux (1656-1698), the correspondent of John
Flamsteed and Locke. His "Dioptrica Nova" contains a warm appreciation
of Locke's "Essay on the Human Understanding." He died in October, 1698,
but in the early part of this year, he published his famous inquiry into
the effect of English legislation on Irish manufactures. The work was
entitled, "The Case of Ireland's being bound by Acts of Parliament in
England stated," and its publication made a great stir both in England
and in Ireland. Molyneux attempted to show that the Irish Parliament was
independent of the English Parliament. His book was reported by a
Committee of the House of Commons, on June 22nd, 1698, to be "of
dangerous consequence to the Crown and Parliament of England," but the
matter went no further than embodying this resolution of the committee
in an address to the King. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 14: Algernon Sidney (1622-1682), the author of the well known
"Discourses concerning Government," and the famous republican of the
Cromwellian and Restoration years, was the second surviving son of the
second Earl of Leicester His career as soldier, statesman, agitator,
ambassador and author, forms an interesting and even fascinating chapter
of the story of this interesting period of English history. He was tried
for treason before Jeffreys, and in spite of a most excellent defence,
sentenced to death. His execution took place on December 7th, 1682. [T.

[Footnote 15: A writer, signing himself M.M., replying to this letter of
Swift's in a broadside entitled, "Seasonable Advice to M.B. Drapier,
Occasioned by his Letter to the R--t. Hon. the Lord Visct. Molesworth,"
actually takes this paragraph to mean that Swift intended seriously to
turn informer: "Now sir, some people are of opinion that you carried
this too far, inasmuch as you become a precedent to informers: others
think that you intimate to his lordship, the miserable circumstance you
are in by the menaces of the prentice to whom you dictate; they conceive
your declaring to inform, if not fee'd, to the contrary, signifies your
said prentice on the last occasion to swear, if you don't forthwith
deliver him his indentures, and half of your stock to set up trade with,
he will inform against you, bring you to justice, be dismissed by law,
and get the promised £300 to begin trade with; how near these
conceptions be to truth I can't tell; but I know people think that word
_inform_ unseasonable. . . ." [T.S.]]

In the meantime, I beg your lordship to receive my confession, that if
there be any such thing as a dependency of Ireland upon England,
otherwise than as I have explained it, either by the law of God, of
nature, of reason, of nations, or of the land (which I shall never
hereafter contest,) then was the proclamation against me, the most
merciful that ever was put out, and instead of accusing me as malicious,
wicked and seditious, it might have been directly as guilty of high

All I desire is, that the cause of my country against Mr. Wood may not
suffer by any inadvertency of mine; Whether Ireland depends upon
England, or only upon God, the King and the law, I hope no man will
assert that it depends upon Mr. Wood. I should be heartily sorry that
this commendable resentment against me should accidentally (and I hope,
what was never intended) strike a damp upon that spirit in all ranks and
corporations of men against the desperate and ruinous design of Mr.
Wood. Let my countrymen blot out those parts in my last letter which
they dislike, and let no rust remain on my sword to cure the wounds I
have given to our most mortal enemy. When Sir Charles Sidley[16] was
taking the oaths, where several things were to be renounced, he said "he
loved renouncing," asked "if any more were to be renounced, for he was
ready to renounce as much as they pleased." Although I am not so
thorough a renouncer; yet let me have but good city security against
this pestilent coinage, and I shall be ready not only to renounce every
syllable in all my four letters, but to deliver them cheerfully with my
own hands into those of the common hangman, to be burnt with no better
company than the coiner's _effigies,_ if any part of it hath escaped out
of the secular hands of the rabble.

[Footnote 16: This must be Sir Charles Sedley (properly Sidley), the
famous wit and dramatist of Charles II.'s reign. In his reprint of 1735,
Faulkner prints the name "Sidley," though the original twopenny tract
and the "Hibernian Patriot" print it as "Sidney." Sir W. Scott corrects
it to "Sedley." [T.S.]]

But whatever the sentiments of some people may be, I think it is agreed
that many of those who subscribed against me, are on the side of a vast
majority in the kingdom who opposed Mr. Wood; and it was with great
satisfaction that I observed some right honourable names very amicably
joined with my own at the bottom of a strong declaration against him and
his coin. But if the admission of it among us be already determined the
worthy person who is to betray me ought in prudence to do it with all
convenient speed, or else it may be difficult to find three hundred
pounds in sterling for the discharge of his hire; when the public shall
have lost five hundred thousand, if there be so much in the nation;
besides four-fifths of its annual income for ever.

I am told by lawyers, that in all quarrels between man and man, it is of
much weight, which of them gave the first provocation or struck the
first blow. It is manifest that Mr. Wood hath done both, and therefore I
should humbly propose to have him first hanged and his dross thrown into
the sea; after which the Drapier will be ready to stand his trial. "It
must needs be that offences come, but woe unto him by whom the offence
cometh." If Mr. Wood had held his hand every body else would have held
their tongues, and then there would have been little need of pamphlets,
juries, or proclamations upon this occasion. The provocation must needs
have been great, which could stir up an obscure indolent Drapier to
become an author. One would almost think the very stones in the street
would rise up in such a cause: And I am not sure they will not do so
against Mr. Wood if ever he comes within their reach. It is a known
story of the dumb boy, whose tongue forced a passage for speech by the
horror of seeing a dagger at his father's throat. This may lessen the
wonder that a tradesman hid in privacy and silence should cry out when
the life and being of his political mother are attempted before his
face, and by so infamous a hand.

But in the meantime, Mr. Wood the destroyer of a kingdom walks about in
triumph (unless it be true that he is in jail for debt) while he who
endeavoured to assert the liberty of his country is forced to hide his
head for occasionally dealing in a matter of controversy. However I am
not the first who hath been condemned to death for gaining a great
victory over a powerful enemy, by disobeying for once the strict orders
of military discipline.

I am now resolved to follow (after the usual proceeding of mankind,
because it is too late) the advice given me by a certain Dean. He shewed
the mistake I was in of trusting to the general good-will of the people,
"that I had succeeded hitherto better than could be expected, but that
some unfortunate circumstantial lapse would probably bring me within the
reach of power. That my good intentions would be no security against
those who watched every motion of my pen, in the bitterness of my soul."
He produced an instance of "a writer as innocent, as disinterested, and
as well meaning as myself, where the printer, who had the author in his
power, was prosecuted with the utmost zeal, the jury sent back nine
times, and the man given up to the mercy of the court."[17] The Dean
further observed "that I was in a manner left alone to stand the battle,
while others who had ten thousand times better talents than a Drapier,
were so prudent to lie still, and perhaps thought it no unpleasant
amusement to look on with safety, while another was giving them
diversion at the hazard of his liberty and fortune, and thought they
made a sufficient recompense by a little applause." Whereupon he
concluded with a short story of a Jew at Madrid, who being condemned to
the fire on account of his religion, a crowd of school-boys following
him to the stake, and apprehending they might lose their sport, if he
should happen to recant, would often clap him on the back, and cry,
"_Sta firme Moyse_ (Moses, continue steadfast)."

[Footnote 17: This was for the publication of "A Proposal for the
Universal Use of Irish Manufactures." [T.S.]]

I allow this gentleman's advice to have been good, and his observations
just, and in one respect my condition is worse than that of the Jew, for
no recantation will save me. However it should seem by some late
proceedings, that my state is not altogether deplorable. This I can
impute to nothing but the steadiness of two impartial grand juries,
which hath confirmed in me an opinion I have long entertained, that, as
philosophers say, "virtue is seated in the middle," so in another
sense, the little virtue left in the world is chiefly to be found among
the middle rank of mankind, who are neither allured out of her paths by
ambition, nor driven by poverty.

Since the proclamation occasioned by my last letter, and a due
preparation for proceeding against me in a court of justice, there have
been two printed papers clandestinely spread about, whereof no man is
able to trace the original further than by conjecture, which with its
usual charity lays them to my account. The former is entitled,
"Seasonable Advice,"[18] and appears to have been intended for
information of the grand jury, upon the supposition of a bill to be
prepared against that letter. The other[19] is an extract from a printed
book of Parliamentary Proceedings in the year 1680 containing an angry
resolution of the House of Commons in England against dissolving grand
juries. As to the former, your lordship will find it to be the work of a
more artful hand than that of a common Drapier. It hath been censured
for endeavouring to influence the minds of a jury, which ought to be
wholly free and unbiassed, and for that reason it is manifest that no
judge was ever known either upon or off the bench, either by himself or
his dependents, to use the least insinuation that might possibly affect
the passions or interests of any one single juryman, much less of a
whole jury; whereof every man must be convinced who will just give
himself the trouble to dip into the common printed trials; so as, it is
amazing to think, what a number of upright judges there have been in
both kingdoms for above sixty years past, which, considering how long
they held their offices during pleasure, as they still do among us, I
account next to a miracle.

[Footnote 18: See p. 123. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 19: See note on p. 127. [T.S.]]

As to the other paper I must confess it is a sharp censure of an English
House of Commons against dissolving grand juries by any judge before the
end of the term, assizes, or sessions, while matters are under their
consideration, and not presented; is arbitrary, illegal, destructive to
public justice, a manifest violation of his oath, and is a means to
subvert the fundamental laws of the kingdom.

However, the publisher seems to have been mistaken in what he aimed at.
For, whatever dependence there may be of Ireland upon England, I hope he
would not insinuate, that the proceedings of a lord chief justice in
Ireland must depend upon a resolution of an English House of Commons.
Besides, that resolution although it were levelled against a particular
lord chief justice, Sir William Scroggs,[20] yet the occasion was
directly contrary: For Scroggs dissolved the grand jury of London for
fear they should present, but ours in Dublin was dissolved because they
would not present, which wonderfully alters the case. And therefore a
second grand jury supplied that defect by making a presentment[21] that
hath pleased the whole kingdom. However I think it is agreed by all
parties, that both the one and the other jury behaved themselves in such
a manner, as ought to be remembered to their honour, while there shall
be any regard left among us for virtue or public spirit.

[Footnote 20: Sir William Scroggs (1623?-1683) was appointed Lord Chief
Justice of England on the removal of Sir Thomas Ramsford in 1678. One of
the eight articles of impeachment against Scroggs, in 1680, was for
illegally discharging the grand jury of Middlesex before the end of the
term. Although the articles of impeachment were carried to the House of
Lords in 1681, the proceedings went no farther than ordering him to find
bail and file his answer by a certain time. Scroggs was removed, on
account of his unpopularity, on April 11th, 1681. As a lawyer, Scroggs
has no great reputation; as a judge he must be classed with the
notorious Jeffreys. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 21: See Appendix No. V. [T.S.]]

I am confident your lordship will be of my sentiments in one thing, that
some short plain authentic tract might be published for the information
both of petty and grand juries, how far their power reacheth, and where
it is limited, and that a printed copy of such a treatise might be
deposited in every court, to be consulted by the jurymen before they
consider of their verdict; by which abundance of inconveniences would be
avoided, whereof innumerable instances might be produced from former
times, because I will say nothing of the present.

I have read somewhere of an eastern king who put a judge to death for an
iniquitous sentence, and ordered his hide to be stuffed into a cushion,
and placed upon the tribunal for the son to sit on, who was preferred to
his father's office. I fancy such a memorial might not have been
unuseful to a son of Sir William Scroggs, and that both he and his
successors would often wriggle in their seats as long as the cushion
lasted. I wish the relater had told us what number of such cushions
there might be in that country.

I cannot but observe to your lordship how nice and dangerous a point it
is grown for a private person to inform the people even in an affair
where the public interest and safety are so highly concerned as that of
Mr. Wood, and this in a country where loyalty is woven into the very
hearts of the people, seems a little extraordinary. Sir William Scroggs
was the first who introduced that commendable acuteness into the courts
of judicature; but how far this practice hath been imitated by his
successors or strained upon occasion, is out of my knowledge. When
pamphlets unpleasing to the ministry were presented as libels, he would
order the offensive paragraphs to be read before him, and said it was
strange that the judges and lawyers of the King's Bench should be duller
than all the people of England; and he was often so very happy in
applying the initial letters of names, and expounding dubious hints (the
two common expedients among writers of that class for escaping the law)
that he discovered much more than ever the authors intended, as many of
them or their printers found to their cost. If such methods are to be
followed in examining what I have already written or may write hereafter
upon the subject of Mr. Wood, I defy any man of fifty times my
understanding and caution to avoid being entrapped, unless he will be
content to write what none will read, by repeating over the old
arguments and computations, whereof the world is already grown weary. So
that my good friend Harding lies under this dilemma, either to let my
learned works hang for ever a drying upon his lines, or venture to
publish them at the hazard of being laid by the heels.

I need not tell your lordship where the difficulty lies. It is true, the
King and the laws permit us to refuse this coin of Mr. Wood, but at the
same time it is equally true, that the King and the laws permit us to
receive it. Now it is most certain the ministers in England do not
suppose the consequences of uttering that brass among us to be so
ruinous as we apprehend; because doubtless if they understood it in that
light, they are persons of too much honour and justice not to use their
credit with His Majesty for saving a most loyal kingdom from
destruction. But as long as it shall please those great persons to think
that coin will not be so very pernicious to us, we lie under the
disadvantage of being censured as obstinate in not complying with a
royal patent. Therefore nothing remains, but to make use of that liberty
which the King and the laws have left us, by continuing to refuse this
coin, and by frequent remembrances to keep up that spirit raised against
it, which otherwise may be apt to flag, and perhaps in time to sink
altogether. For, any public order against receiving or uttering Mr.
Wood's halfpence is not reasonably to be expected in this kingdom,
without directions from England, which I think nobody presumes, or is so
sanguine to hope.

But to confess the truth, my lord, I begin to grow weary of my office as
a writer, and could heartily wish it were devolved upon my brethren, the
makers of songs and ballads, who perhaps are the best qualified at
present to gather up the gleanings of this controversy. As to myself, it
hath been my misfortune to begin and pursue it upon a wrong foundation.
For having detected the frauds and falsehoods of this vile impostor Wood
in every part, I foolishly disdained to have recourse to whining,
lamenting, and crying for mercy, but rather chose to appeal to law and
liberty and the common rights of mankind, without considering the
climate I was in.

Since your last residence in Ireland, I frequently have taken my nag to
ride about your grounds, where I fancied myself to feel an air of
freedom breathing round me, and I am glad the low condition of a
tradesman did not qualify me to wait on you at your house, for then I am
afraid my writings would not have escaped severer censures. But I have
lately sold my nag, and honestly told his greatest fault, which was that
of snuffing up the air about Brackdenstown, whereby he became such a
lover of liberty, that I could scarce hold him in. I have likewise
buried at the bottom of a strong chest your lordship's writings under a
heap of others that treat of liberty, and spread over a layer or two of
Hobbes, Filmer, Bodin[22] and many more authors of that stamp, to be
readiest at hand whenever I shall be disposed to take up a new set of
principles in government. In the mean time I design quietly to look to
my shop, and keep as far out of your lordship's influence as possible;
and if you ever see any more of my writings upon this subject, I promise
you shall find them as innocent, as insipid and without a sting as what
I have now offered you. But if your lordship will please to give me an
easy lease of some part of your estate in Yorkshire,[23] thither will I
carry my chest and turning it upside down, resume my political reading
where I left it off; feed on plain homely fare, and live and die a free
honest English farmer: But not without regret for leaving my countrymen
under the dread of the brazen talons of Mr. Wood: My most loyal and
innocent countrymen, to whom I owe so much for their good opinion of me,
and of my poor endeavours to serve them,

I am
  with the greatest respect,
           My Lord
    Your Lordship's most obedient
              and most humble servant,

From my shop
in St. Francis-Street,
Dec. 14.

[Footnote 22: Sir Robert Filmer, the political writer who suffered for
his adhesion to the cause of Charles I. His chief work was published
after his death in 1680. It is entitled, "Patriarcha," and defends the
patriarchal theory of government against the social-compact theory of
Hobbes. Locke vigorously attacked it in his "Two Treatises on
Government" published in 1690.

Jean Bodin, who died in 1596, wrote the "Livres de la Republique," a
remarkable collection of information and speculation on the theoretical
basis of political government. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 23: Molesworth's estate in Yorkshire was at Edlington, near
Tickhill. [T.S.]]




"Multa gemens ignominiam Plagasque superbi Victoris.--"

[VIRGIL, _Georg. III._, 226-7.]


This letter was published in the fourth volume of the collected edition
of Swift's Works, issued by Faulkner, in Dublin, in 1735. It is there
stated that it was written "before the Lord Carteret came over, and soon
after the fourth Drapier's letter." If Faulkner be correct, and he
probably is, the subject matter of the letter shows that it was not to
be printed until after the agitation had subsided. The letter is in an
entirely different spirit from the other letters, and deals with
suggestions and methods of action for a general righting of the wrongs
under which Ireland was suffering. In matter as well as in manner it is
not a continuation of the contest against Wood, but an effort to send
the people along paths which would lead to their general welfare and
prosperity. As such it properly concludes the Drapier series.

The text of the letter here printed is that of Faulkner collated with
that given in the fifth volume of "Miscellanies," issued in London in.




I have been told, that petitions and addresses, either to King or
Parliament, are the right of every subject; providing they consist with
that respect, which is due to princes and great assemblies. Neither do I
remember, that the modest proposals, or opinions of private men, have
been ill-received, when they have not been delivered in the style of
advice; which is a presumption far from my thoughts. However, if
proposals should be looked upon as too assuming; yet I hope, every man
may be suffered to declare his own and the nation's wishes. For
instance; I may be allowed to wish, that some further laws were enacted
for the advancement of trade, for the improvement of agriculture, now
strangely neglected, against the maxim of all wise nations: For
supplying the manifest defects in the acts concerning plantation of
trees: For setting the poor to work, and many others.

Upon this principle, I may venture to affirm; it is the hearty wish of
the whole nation, very few excepted; that the Parliament in this session
would begin by strictly examining into the detestable fraud of one
William Wood, now or late of London, hardwareman; who illegally and
clandestinely, as appears by your own votes and addresses, procured a
patent in England, for coining halfpence in that kingdom, to be current
here. This, I say, is the wish of the whole nation, very few excepted;
and upon account of those few, is more strongly and justly the wish of
the rest: Those few consisting either of Wood's confederates, some
obscure tradesmen, or certain bold UNDERTAKERS[1] of weak judgment, and
strong ambition; who think to find their accounts in the ruin of the
nation, by securing or advancing themselves. And, because such men
proceed upon a system of politics, to which I would fain hope you will
be always utter strangers, I shall humbly lay it before you.

[Footnote 1: This was a phrase used in the time of Charles II. to
express those dashing ministers who obtained power by undertaking to
carry through particular favourite measures of the crown. But the Dean
applies it with his usual studied ambiguity, so that it may be explained
as meaning schemers or projectors in general. [S.]]

Be pleased to suppose me in a station of fifteen hundred pounds a year,
salary and perquisites; and likewise possessed of 800_l_. a year, real
estate. Then, suppose a destructive project to be set on foot; such, for
instance, as this of Wood; which if it succeed, in all the consequences
naturally to be expected from it, must sink the rents and wealth of the
kingdom one half, (although I am confident, it would have done so
five-sixths.) Suppose, I conceive that the countenancing, or privately
supporting this project, will please those by whom I expect to be
preserved, or higher exalted. Nothing then remains, but to compute and
balance my gain and my loss, and sum up the whole. I suppose that I
shall keep my employment ten years, (not to mention the fair chance of a
better.) This at 1500_l_. a year, amounts, in ten years, to 15,000_l_.
My estate, by the success of the said project, sinks 400_l_. a year;
which at twenty years' purchase, is but 8000_l_. so that I am a clean
gainer of 7000_l_. upon the balance. And during all that period, I am
possessed of power and credit, can gratify my favourites, and take
vengeance of mine enemies. And if the project miscarry, my private merit
is still entire. This arithmetic, as horrible as it appears, I knowingly
affirm to have been practised, and applied in conjunctures, whereon
depended the ruin or safety of a nation: Although, probably the charity
and virtue of a senate, will hardly be induced to believe, that there
can be such monsters among mankind. And yet, the wise Lord Bacon
mentions a sort of people, (I doubt the race is not yet extinct) who
would "set a house on fire, for the convenience of roasting their own
eggs at the flame."

But whoever is old enough to remember, and hath turned his thoughts to
observe the course of public affairs in this kingdom, from the time of
the Revolution; must acknowledge, that the highest points of interest
and liberty, have been often sacrificed to the avarice and ambition of
particular persons, upon the very principles and arithmetic that I have
supposed: The only wonder is, how these artists were able to prevail
upon numbers; and influence even public assemblies to become instruments
for effecting their execrable designs.

It is, I think, in all conscience, latitude enough for vice, if a man in
station be allowed to act injustice, upon the usual principles of
getting a bribe, wreaking his malice, serving his party, or consulting
his preferment; while his wickedness terminates in the ruin only of
particular persons: But, to deliver up our whole country, and every
living soul who inhabits it, to certain destruction; hath not, as I
remember, been permitted by the most favourable casuists on the side of
corruption. It were far better, that all who have had the misfortune to
be born in this kingdom, should be rendered incapable of holding any
employment whatsoever, above the degree of a constable, (according to
the scheme and intention of a great minister[2] _gone to his own
place_)than to live under the daily apprehension of a few false brethren
among ourselves. Because, in the former case we should be wholly free
from the danger of being betrayed; since none could then have impudence
enough to pretend any public good.

[Footnote 2: The Earl of Sunderland. See note on p. 377 of vol. _v._ of
present edition. [T.S.]]

It is true, that in this desperate affair of the new halfpence, I have
not heard of any man above my own degree of a shopkeeper, to have been
hitherto so bold, as, in direct terms, to vindicate the fatal project;
although I have been told of some very mollifying expressions which were
used, and very gentle expedients proposed and handed about, when it
first came under debate: But, since the eyes of the people have been so
far opened, that the most ignorant can plainly see their own ruin, in
the success of Wood's attempt; these grand compounders have been more

[Footnote 3: Alluding to Walpole's overture for reducing the amount to
be coined to £40,000. [T.S.]]

But that the same spirit still subsists, hath manifestly appeared (among
other instances of great compliance) from certain circumstances, that
have attended some late proceedings in a court of judicature. There is
not any commonplace more frequently insisted on, by those who treat of
our constitution, than the great happiness and excellency of trials by
juries; yet if this blessed part of our law be eludible at pleasure, by
the force of power, frowns, and artifice; we shall have little reason to
boast of our advantage, in this particular, over other states or
kingdoms in Europe. And surely, these high proceedings, exercised in a
point that so nearly concerned the life-blood of the people, their
necessary subsistence, their very food and raiment, and even the public
peace; will not allow any favourable appearance; because it was obvious,
that so much superabundant zeal could have no other design, or produce
any other effect, than to damp that spirit raised in the nation against
this accursed scheme of William Wood, and his abettors; to which spirit
alone, we owe, and for ever must owe, our being hitherto preserved, and
our hopes of being preserved for the future; if it can be kept up, and
strongly countenanced by your wise assemblies. I wish I could account
for such a demeanour upon a more charitable foundation, than that of
putting our interest in over balance with the ruin of our country.

I remember some months ago, when this affair was fresh in discourse; a
person near allied to SOMEBODY, or (as the hawkers called him) NOBODY,
who was thought deeply concerned, went about very diligently among his
acquaintance, to shew the bad consequences that might follow from any
public resentment to the disadvantage of his ally Mr. Wood; principally
alleging the danger of all employments being disposed of from England.
One of these emissaries came to me, and urged the same topic: I
answered, naturally, that I knew there was no office of any kind, which
a man from England might not have, if he thought it worth his asking;
and that I looked upon all who had the disadvantage of being born here,
as only in the condition of leasers and gleaners. Neither could I
forbear mentioning the known fable of the countryman, who entreated his
ass to fly for fear of being taken by the enemy; but the ass refused to
give himself that trouble; and upon a very wise reason, because he could
not possibly change his present master for a worse: The enemy could not
make him fare harder; beat him more cruelly; nor load him with heavier

Upon these, and many other considerations, I may affirm it to be the
wish of the whole nation, that the power and privileges of juries were
declared, ascertained, and confirmed by the legislature; and that
whoever hath been manifestly known to violate them, might be stigmatized
by public censure; not from any hope that such a censure will amend
their practices, or hurt their interest, (for it may probably operate
quite contrary in both:) but that the nation may know their enemies from
their friends.

I say not this with any regard or view to myself; for I write in great
security; and am resolved that none shall merit at my expense further
than by shewing their zeal to discover, prosecute, and condemn me, for
endeavouring to do my duty in serving my country: And yet I am conscious
to myself that I never had the least intention to reflect on His
Majesty's ministers, nor on any other person, except William Wood, whom
I neither did, nor do yet conceive to be of that number. However, some
would have it, that I went too far; but I suppose they will now allow
themselves mistaken. I am sure I might easily have gone further; and I
think I could not easily have fared worse. And therefore I was no
further affected with their proclamation, and subsequent proceedings,
than a good clergyman is with the sins of the people. And as to the poor
printer, he is now gone to appear before a higher, and before a
righteous tribunal.

As my intention is only to lay before your great assemblies, the general
wishes of the nation; and as I have already declared it our principal
wish that your first proceeding would be to examine into the pernicious
fraud of William Wood; so I must add, as the universal opinion, that all
schemes of commutation, composition, and the like expedients, either
avowed or implied, will be of the most pernicious consequences to the
public; against the dignity of a free kingdom; and prove an
encouragement to future adventurers in the same destructive projects.
For, it is a maxim, which no man at present disputes, that even a
connivance to admit one thousand pounds in these halfpence, will
produce, in time, the same ruinous effects, as if we openly consented to
admit a million. It were, therefore, infinitely more safe and eligible,
to leave things in the doubtful, melancholy state they are at present,
(which, however, God forbid) and trust entirely to the general aversion
of our people against this coin; using all honest endeavours to
preserve, continue, and increase that aversion, than submit to apply
those palliatives which weak, perfidious, or abject politicians, are,
upon all occasions, and in all diseases, so ready to administer.

In the small compass of my reading, (which, however, hath been more
extensive than is usual to men of my inferior calling) I have observed
that grievances have always preceded supplies; and if ever grievances
had a title to such a pre-eminence, it must be this of Wood; because it
is not only the greatest grievance that any country could suffer, but a
grievance of such a kind that, if it should take effect, would make it
impossible for us to give any supplies at all; except in adulterate
copper; unless a tax were laid for paying the civil and military lists,
and the large pensions, with real commodities instead of money; which,
however, might be liable to some few objections as well as difficulties:
For although the common soldiers might be content with beef and mutton,
and wool, and malt, and leather; yet I am in some doubt as to the
generals, the colonels, the numerous pensioners, the civil officers, and
others, who all live in England upon Irish pay; as well as those few who
reside among us only because they cannot help it.

There is one particular, which although I have mentioned more than once
in some of my former papers, yet I cannot forbear to repeat, and a
little enlarge upon it; because I do not remember to have read or heard
of the like in the history of any age or country; neither do I ever
reflect upon it without the utmost astonishment.

After the unanimous addresses to his Sacred Majesty, against this patent
of Wood, from both Houses of Parliament, which are the three estates of
the kingdom; and likewise an address from the Privy-council, to whom,
under the chief governors, the whole administration is entrusted; the
matter is referred to a committee of council in London. Wood, and his
adherents, are heard on one side; and a few volunteers, without any
trust or direction from hence, on the other. The question (as I
remember) chiefly turned upon the want of halfpence in Ireland:
Witnesses are called on the behalf of Wood (of what credit I have
formerly shewn :) Upon the issue the patent is found good and legal; all
His Majesty's officers here, (not excepting the military) commanded to
be aiding and assisting to make it effectual. The addresses of both
Houses of Parliament, of the Privy-council; and of the city of Dublin:
The declarations of most counties and corporations through the kingdom,
are altogether laid aside, as of no weight, consequence, or
consideration whatsoever: And the whole kingdom of Ireland nonsuited, in
default of appearance; as if it were a private cause between John Doe,
plaintiff, and William Roe, defendant.

With great respect to those-honourable persons, the committee of council
in London, I have not understood them to be our governors, councillors,
or judges. Neither did our case turn at all upon the question, whether
Ireland wanted halfpence or no. For there is no doubt, but we do want
both halfpence, gold, and silver; and we have numberless other wants,
and some that we are not so much as allowed to name; although they are
peculiar to this nation; to which no other is subject, whom God hath
blessed with religion and laws, or any degree of soil and sunshine: But,
for what demerits on our side, I am altogether in the dark.

But, I do not remember, that our want of halfpence was either affirmed,
or denied in any of our addresses or declarations, against those of
Wood: We alleged, the fraudulent obtaining and executing his patent, the
baseness of his metal, the prodigious sum to be coined, which might be
increased by stealth, from foreign importation and his own counterfeits,
as well as those at home; whereby we must infallibly lose all our little
gold and silver, and all our poor remainder of a very limited and
discouraged trade: We urged, that the patent was passed without the
least reference hither; and without mention of any security given by
Wood, to receive his own halfpence upon demand; both which are contrary
to all former proceedings in the like cases. These, and many other
arguments we offered; but still the patent went on, and at this day our
ruin would have been half completed; if God, in His mercy, had not
raised an universal detestation of these halfpence, in the whole
kingdom; with a firm resolution never to receive them; since we are not
under obligations to do so by any law, either human or divine.

But, in the Name of God, and of all justice and piety; when the King's
Majesty was pleased that this patent should pass; is it not to be
understood, that he conceived, believed, and intended it as a gracious
act, for the good and benefit of his subjects, for the advantage of a
great and fruitful kingdom; of the most loyal kingdom upon earth, where
no hand or voice was ever lifted up against him; a kingdom where the
passage is not of three hours from Britain; and a kingdom where Papists
have less power, and less land, than in England? Can it be denied, or
doubted, that His Majesty's ministers understood and proposed the same
end, the good of this nation, when they advised the passing this patent?
Can the person of Wood be otherwise regarded, than as the instrument,
the mechanic, the head-workman, to prepare his furnace, his fuel, his
metal, and his stamps? If I employ a shoe-boy, is it in view to his
advantage, or to my own convenience? I mention the person of William
Wood alone, because no other appears, and we are not to reason upon
surmises; neither would it avail, if they had a real foundation.

Allowing therefore, (for we cannot do less) that this patent, for the
coining of halfpence, was wholly intended, by a gracious king, and a
wise public-spirited ministry, for the advantage of Ireland; yet when
the whole kingdom to a man, for whose good the patent was designed, do,
upon maturest consideration, universally join, in openly declaring,
protesting, addressing, petitioning, against these halfpence, as the
most ruinous project that ever was set on foot, to complete the slavery
and destruction of a poor innocent country: Is it, was it, can it, or
will it ever be a question, not whether such a kingdom, or William Wood,
should be a gainer; but whether such a kingdom should be wholly undone,
destroyed, sunk, depopulated, made a scene of misery and desolation, for
the sake of William Wood? God, of His infinite mercy, avert this
dreadful judgment; and it is our universal wish, that God would put it
into your hearts to be His instruments for so good a work.

For my own part, who am but one man, of obscure condition, I do solemnly
declare, in the presence of Almighty God, that I will suffer the most
ignominious and torturing death, rather than submit to receive this
accursed coin, or any other that shall be liable to the same objections,
until they shall be forced upon me, by a law of my own country; and if
that shall ever happen, I will transport myself into some foreign land,
and eat the bread of poverty among a free people.

Am I legally punishable for these expressions? Shall another
proclamation issue against me, because I presume to take my country's
part against William Wood; where her final destruction is intended? But,
whenever you shall please to impose silence upon me, I will submit;
because, I look upon your unanimous voice to be the voice of the nation;
and this I have been taught, and do believe to be, in some manner, the
voice of God.

The great ignominy of a whole kingdom, lying so long at mercy, under so
vile an adversary, is such a deplorable aggravation, that the utmost
expressions of shame and rage, are too low to set it forth; and
therefore, I shall leave it to receive such a resentment, as is worthy
of a parliament.

It is likewise our universal wish, that His Majesty would grant liberty
to coin halfpence in this kingdom, for our own use; under such
restrictions as a parliament here shall advise: Since the power of
coining even gold and silver, is possessed by every petty prince abroad;
and was always practised by Scotland, to the very time of the Union; yet
surely Scotland, as to soil, climate, and extent, is not, in itself, a
fourth part the value of Ireland; (for Bishop Burnet says, it is not
above a fortieth part in value, to the rest of Britain) and with respect
to the profit that England gains from hence, not the forty thousandth
part. Although I must confess, that a mote in the eye, or a thorn in the
side, is more dangerous and painful than a beam, or a spike at a

The histories of England, and of most other countries, abound in
relating the miserable, and sometimes the most tragical effects, from
the abuses of coin; by debasing the metal, by lessening, or enhancing
the value upon occasions, to the public loss; of which we have an
example, within our own memory in England, and another very lately in
France. It is the tenderest point of government, affecting every
individual, in the highest degree. When the value of money is arbitrary,
or unsettled; no man can well be said to have any property at all; nor
is any wound so suddenly felt, so hardly cured, or that leaves such deep
and lasting scars behind it.

I conceive this poor unhappy island, to have a title to some indulgence
from England; not only upon the score of Christianity, natural equity,
and the general rights of mankind; but chiefly on account of that
immense profit they receive from us; without which, that kingdom would
make a very different figure in Europe, from what it doth at present.

The rents of land in Ireland, since they have been of late so enormously
raised, and screwed up, may be computed to about two millions; whereof
one-third part, at least, is directly transmitted to those, who are
perpetual absentees in England; as I find by a computation made with the
assistance of several skilful gentlemen.

The other articles by which we are altogether losers, and England a
gainer; we found to amount to almost as much more. I will only set down
as many heads of them as I can remember; and leave them to the
consideration of those, who understand accounts better than I pretend to

The occasional absentees, for business, health, or diversion.

Three-fourths of the revenue of the chief governor, during his absence;
which is usually four-fifths of his government.

The whole revenue of the post-office.

The numerous pensions paid to persons in England.

The pay of the chief officers of the army absent in England, which is a
great sum.

Four commissioners of the revenue, always absent.

Civil employments very numerous, and of great income.

The vast charge of appeals to the House of Lords, and to the Court of

Students at the Inns of Court, and the two Universities.

Eighty thousand pounds sent yearly to England, for coals; whereof the
prime cost is nothing; and therefore, the profit wholly theirs.

One hundred thousand pounds paid several years past, for corn sent over
hither from England; the effect of our own great wisdom in discouraging

The kind liberty granted us of wearing Indian stuffs, and calicoes, to
gratify the vanity and folly of our women; which, beside the profit to
England, is an unconceivable loss to us; forcing the weavers to beg in
our streets, or transport themselves to foreign countries.

The prodigious loss to us, and gain to England, by selling them all our
wool at their own rates; whereof the manufacture exceeds above ten times
the prime cost: A proceeding without example in the Christian or heathen

Our own wool returned upon us, in English manufactures, to our infinite
shame and damage; and the great advantage of England.

The full profit of all our mines accruing to England; an effect of great
negligence and stupidity.

An affectation among us, of liking all kinds of goods made in England.

NOTE, Many of the above articles have been since particularly computed
by another writer, to whose treatise the reader is referred.[4]

[Footnote 4: The work referred to is "A List of the Absentees of
Ireland, and the yearly value of their estates and Incomes spent
abroad," by Thomas Prior, Esq. Prior was a native of Ireland and the
schoolfellow and life-long friend of Berkeley, the philosopher. In
concert with Samuel Madden and other friends, he founded, in 1731, the
Dublin Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, Manufactures, Arts and
Sciences. This society was the parent of the present Royal Dublin
Society. His "List of the Absentees of Ireland" was published in 1729.
He also issued "Observations on Coin" (1730), and "An Authentic
Narrative of the Success of Tar Water in Curing a great number and
variety of Distempers" (1746), to which Berkeley contributed. [T.S.]]

These and many other articles, which I cannot recollect at present, are
agreed by judicious men to amount to near seven hundred thousand pounds
_per ann_. clear profit to England. And, upon the whole, let any man
look into those authors who write upon the subject of commerce, he shall
find, that there is not one single article in the essentials, or
circumstances of trade, whereby a country can be a loser, which we do
not possess in the highest perfection; somewhat, in every particular,
that bears a kind of analogy to William Wood; and now the branches are
all cut off, he stands ready with his axe at the root.

Upon this subject of perpetual absentees, I have spent some time in very
insignificant reflections; and considering the usual motives of human
actions, which are pleasure, profit, and ambition, I cannot yet
comprehend how those persons find their account in any of the three. I
speak not of those English peers or gentlemen, who, beside their estates
at home, have possessions here; for, in that case, the matter is
desperate; but I mean those lords, and wealthy knights, or squires,
whose birth, and partly their education, and all their fortune (except
some trifle, and that in very few instances) are in this kingdom. I knew
many of them well enough, during several years, when I resided in
England; and truly I could not discover that the figure they made was,
by any means, a subject for envy; at least it gave me two very different
passions: For, excepting the advantage of going now and then to an
opera, or sometimes appearing behind a crowd at Court; or adding to the
ring of coaches in Hyde Park, or losing their money at the Chocolate
House; or getting news, votes, and minutes, about five days before us in
Dublin, I say, besides these, and a few other privileges of less
importance, their temptations to live in London, were beyond my
knowledge or conception. And I used to wonder, how a man of birth and
spirit, could endure to be wholly insignificant and obscure in a foreign
country, when he might live with lustre in his own; and even at less
than half that expense, which he strains himself to make, without
obtaining any one end; except that which happened to the frog when he
would needs contend for size with the ox. I have been told by scholars,
that Caesar said, he would rather be the first man, in I know not what
village, than the second in Rome. This, perhaps, was a thought only fit
for Caesar: But to be preceded by thousands, and neglected by millions;
to be wholly without power, figure, influence, honour, credit, or
distinction, is not, in my poor opinion, a very amiable situation of
life, to a person of title, or wealth, who can so cheaply and easily
shine in his native country.

But, besides the depopulating of the kingdom, the leaving so many parts
of it wild and uncultivated, the ruin of so many country-seats and
plantations, the cutting down all the woods to supply expenses in
England; the absence of so many noble and wealthy persons, hath been the
cause of another fatal consequence, which few perhaps have been aware
of. For if that very considerable number of lords, who possess the
amplest fortunes here, had been content to live at home, and attend the
affairs of their own country in Parliament; the weight, reputation, and
dignity thereby added to that noble House, would, in all human
probability, have prevented certain proceedings, which are now ever to
be lamented; because they never can be remedied: And we might have then
decided our own properties among ourselves, without being forced to
travel five hundred miles by sea and land, to another kingdom, for
justice; to our infinite expense, vexation, and trouble: Which is a mark
of servitude without example, from the practice of any age or nation in
the world.

I have sometimes wondered, upon what motive the peerage of England were
so desirous to determine our controversies; because I have been assured,
and partly know, that the frequent appeals from hence, have been very
irksome to that illustrious body; and whoever hath frequented the
Painted Chamber, and Court of Requests, must have observed, that they
are never so nobly filled, as when an Irish appeal is under debate.

The peers of Scotland, who are very numerous, were content to reside in
their castles and houses, in that bleak and barren climate; and although
some of them made frequent journeys to London, yet I do not remember any
of their greatest families, till very lately, to have made England their
constant habitation, before the Union: Or, if they did, I am sure it was
generally to their own advantage; and whatever they got, was employed to
cultivate and increase their own estates; and by that means enrich
themselves and their country.

As to the great number of rich absentees, under the degree of peers;
what particular ill effects their absence may have upon this kingdom,
besides those already mentioned, may perhaps be too tender a point for
me to touch. But whether those who live in another kingdom, upon great
estates here; and have lost all regards to their own country, further
than upon account of the revenues they receive from it: I say, whether
such persons may not be prevailed on to recommend others to vacant
seats, who have no interest here, except a precarious employment; and
consequently can have no views, but to preserve what they have got, or
to be higher advanced: This, I am sure, is a very melancholy question,
if it be a question at all.

But, besides the prodigious profit which England receives by the
transmittal thither of two-thirds of the revenues of this whole kingdom;
it hath another mighty advantage by making our country a receptacle,
wherein to disburthen themselves of their supernumerary pretenders to
offices; persons of second-rate merit in their own country; who, like
birds of passage, most of them thrive and fatten here, and fly off when
their credit and employments are at an end. So that Ireland may justly
say what Luther said of himself; POOR Ireland maketh many rich.

If amidst all our difficulties, I should venture to assert, that we have
one great advantage, provided we could improve it as we ought; I believe
most of my readers would be long in conjecturing what possible advantage
could ever fall to our share. However, it is certain, that all the
regular seeds of party and faction among us are entirely rooted out, and
if any new ones shall spring up, they must be of equivocal generation,
without any seed at all; and will justly be imputed to a degree of
stupidity beyond even what we have been ever charged with upon the score
of our birth-place and climate.

The parties in this kingdom (including those of modern date) are, First,
of those who have been charged or suspected to favour the Pretender; and
those who were zealous opposers of him. Secondly, of those who were for
and against a toleration of Dissenters by law. Thirdly, of High and Low
Church; or, (to speak in the cant of the times) of Whig and Tory: And,
Fourthly, of court and country. If there be any more, they are beyond my
observation or politics: For as to subaltern or occasional parties, they
have all been derivations from the same originals.

Now, it is manifest, that all these incitements to faction, party, and
division are wholly removed from among us. For, as to the Pretender, his
cause is both desperate and obsolete: There are very few now alive who
were _men_ in his father's time, and in that prince's interest; and in
all others, the obligation of conscience hath no place;[5] even the
Papists in general, of any substance, or estates, and their priests
almost universally, are what we call Whigs in the sense which by that
word is generally understood. They feel the smart, and see the scars of
their former wounds; and very well know, that they must be made a
sacrifice to the least attempts towards a change; although it cannot be
doubted, that they would be glad to have their superstition restored,
under any prince whatsoever.

[Footnote 5: That is to say, they had not sworn any allegiance to him.

Secondly, The Dissenters are now tolerated by law; neither do we observe
any murmurs at present from that quarter, except those reasonable
complaints they make of persecution, because they are excluded from
civil employments; but their number being very small in either House of
Parliament, they are not yet in a situation to erect a party: Because,
however indifferent men may be with regard to religion, they are now
grown wise enough to know, that if such a latitude were allowed to
Dissenters; the few small employments left us in cities and
corporations, would find other hands to lay hold on them.

Thirdly, The dispute between High and Low Church is now at an end;
two-thirds of the bishops having been promoted in this reign, and most
of them from England, who have bestowed all preferments in their gift to
those they could well confide in: The deaneries all except three, and
many principal church-livings, are in the donation of the crown: So that
we already possess such a body of clergy as will never engage in
controversy upon that antiquated and exploded subject.

Lastly, As to court and country parties, so famous and avowed under most
reigns in English Parliaments: This kingdom hath not, for several years
past been a proper scene whereon to exercise such contentions; and is
now less proper than ever; many great employments for life being in
distant hands, and the reversions diligently watched and secured; the
temporary ones of any inviting value are all bestowed elsewhere as fast
as they drop; and the few remaining, are of too low consideration to
create contests about them, except among younger brothers, or tradesmen
like myself. And, therefore, to institute a court and country party
without materials, would be a very new system in politics, and what I
believe was never thought on before; nor, unless in a nation of idiots,
can ever succeed. For the most ignorant Irish cottager will not sell his
cow for a groat.

Therefore, I conclude, that all party and faction, with regard to public
proceedings, are now extinguished in this kingdom; neither doth it
appear in view how they can possibly revive; unless some new causes be
administered; which cannot be done without crossing the interests of
those who are greatest gainers by continuing the same measures. And,
general calamities without hope of redress, are allowed to be the great
uniters of mankind.

However we may dislike the causes; yet this effect of begetting an
universal concord among us in all national debates, as well as in
cities, corporations, and country neighbourhoods, may keep us at least
alive, and in a condition to eat the little bread allowed us in peace
and amity. I have heard of a quarrel in a tavern, where all were at
daggers-drawing, till one of the company cried out, desiring to know the
subject of the quarrel; which, when none of them could tell, they put up
their swords, sat down, and passed the rest of the evening in quiet. The
former part hath been our case; I hope the latter will be so too; that
we shall sit down amicably together, at least until we have something
that may give us a title to fall out; since nature hath instructed even
a brood of goslings to stick together while the kite is hovering over
their heads.

It is certain, that a firm union in any country, where every man wishes
the same thing with relation to the public, may, in several points of
the greatest importance, in some measure, supply the defect of power;
and even of those rights which are the natural and undoubted inheritance
of mankind. If the universal wish of the nation upon any point, were
declared by the unanimous vote of the House of Commons, and a reasonable
number of Lords; I should think myself obliged in conscience to act in
my sphere according to that vote; because, in all free nations, I take
the proper definition of law to be the will of the majority of those who
have the property in land; which, if there be a monarchy, is to be
confirmed by the royal assent. And, although such votes or declarations
have not received such a confirmation, for certain accidental reasons;
yet I think they ought to be of much weight with the subject; provided
they neither oppose the King's prerogative, endanger the peace of the
nation, nor infringe any law already in force; none of which, however,
can reasonably be supposed. Thus, for instance, if nine in ten of the
House of Commons, and a reasonable number of native temporal peers,
should declare, that whoever received or uttered brass coin, except
under certain limitations and securities, should be deemed as enemies to
the King and the nation; I should think it a heinous sin in myself to
act contrary to such a vote: And, if the same power should declare the
same censure against those who wore Indian stuffs and calicoes, or
woollen manufactures imported from abroad, whereby this nation is
reduced to the lowest ebb of misery; I should readily, heartily, and
cheerfully pay obedience; and to my utmost power persuade others to do
the like: Because, there is no law of this land obliging us either to
receive such coin, or to wear such foreign manufactures.

Upon this last article, I could humbly wish that the reverend the clergy
would set us an example, by contenting themselves with wearing gowns,
and other habiliments of Irish drapery; which, as it would be some
incitement to the laity, and set many hands to work; so they would find
their advantage in the cheapness; which is a circumstance not to be
neglected by too many among that venerable body.[6] And, in order to
this, I could heartily desire, that the most ingenious artists of the
weaving trade, would contrive some decent stuffs and silks for
clergymen, at reasonable rates.[7]

[Footnote 6: This hath since been put in practice, by the persuasions,
and influence of the supposed author; but much defeated by the most
infamous fraud of shop-keepers. [F.]]

[Footnote 7: This scheme was likewise often urged to the weavers by the
supposed author; but he could never prevail upon them to put it in
practice. [F.]]

I have pressed several of our most substantial brethren, that the whole
corporation of weavers in silk and woollen, would publish some
proposals, (I wish they would do it to both Houses of Parliament)
inviting persons of all degrees, and of both sexes, to wear the woollen
and silk manufactures of our own country; entering into solemn, mutual
engagements, that the buyer shall have good, substantial, merchantable
ware for his money; and at a certain rate, without the trouble of
cheapening: So that, if I sent a child for a piece of stuff of a
particular colour and fineness, I should be sure not to be deceived; or
if I had reason to complain, the corporation should give me immediate
satisfaction; and the name of the tradesman who did me the wrong, should
be published; and warning given not to deal with him for the future;
unless the matter plainly appeared to be a mistake: For, besides the
trouble of going from shop to shop; an ignorant customer runs the hazard
of being cheated in the price and goodness of what he buys; being forced
to an unequal combat with a dexterous, and dishonest man, in his own
calling. Thus our goods fall under a general disreputation; and the
gentry call for English cloth, or silk, from an opinion they have (and
often too justly by our own faults) that the goodness more than makes up
for the difference of price.

Besides, it hath been the sottish and ruinous practice of us tradesmen,
upon any great demand of goods, either at home or from abroad, to raise
the prices immediately, and manufacture the said goods more slightly and
fraudulently than before.

Of this foul and foolish proceeding, too many instances might be
produced; and I cannot forbear mentioning one, whereby this poor kingdom
hath received such a fatal blow in the only article of trade allowed us
of any importance that nothing but the success of Wood's project, could
outdo it. During the late plague in France, the Spaniards, who buy their
linen cloths in that kingdom, not daring to venture thither for fear of
infection; a very great demand was made here for that commodity, and
exported to Spain: But, whether by the ignorance of the merchants, or
dishonesty of the Northern weavers, or the collusion of both; the ware
was so bad, and the price so excessive, that except some small
quantity, which was sold below the prime cost, the greatest part was
returned back: And I have been told by very intelligent persons, that if
we had been fair dealers, the whole current of the linen trade to Spain
would have taken its course from hence.

If any punishment were to be inflicted on numbers of men; surely there
could none be thought too great for such a race of traitors, and enemies
to God and their country; who for the prospect of a little present gain,
do not only ruin themselves, (for that alone would be an example to the
rest, and a blessing to the nation) but sell their souls to hell, and
their country to destruction; And, if the plague could have been
confined only to these who were partakers in the guilt, had it travelled
hither from Marseilles, those wretches would have died with less title
to pity, than a highwayman going to the gallows.

But, it happens very unluckily, that, for some time past, all endeavours
or proposals from private persons, to advance the public service;
however honestly and innocently designed, have been called _flying in
the King's face:_ And this, to my knowledge, hath been the style of some
persons, whose ancestors, (I mean those among them who had any) and
themselves, have been flying in princes' faces these fourscore years;
and from their own inclinations would do so still, if their interest did
not lead them rather to fly in the face of a kingdom; which hath given
them wings to enable them for such a flight.

Thus, about four years ago, when a discourse was published, endeavouring
to persuade our people to wear their own woollen manufactures,[8] full
of the most dutiful expressions to the King, and without the least party
hint; it was termed "flying in the King's face;" the printer was
prosecuted in the manner we all remember; (and, I hope, it will
somewhere be remembered further) the jury kept eleven hours, and sent
back nine times, till they were under the necessity of leaving the
prisoner to the mercy of the court, by a special verdict. The judge on
the bench invoking God for his witness, when he asserted, that the
author's design was to bring in the Pretender.[9]

[Footnote 8: This was Swift's pamphlet entitled, "A Proposal for the
Universal Use of Irish Manufactures." [T.S.]]

[Footnote 9: The action and language of Justice Whitshed. [T.S.]]

And thus also, my own poor endeavours to prevent the ruin of my country,
by the admission of Wood's coin, was called by the same persons, "flying
in the King's face;" which I directly deny: For I cannot allow that
vile representation of the royal countenance in William Wood's
adulterate copper, to be his Sacred Majesty's face; or if it were, my
flying was not against the impression, but the baseness of the metal;
because I well remembered; that the image which Nebuchadnezzar
"commanded to be set up, for all men to fall down and worship it," was
not of _copper_, but pure _gold_. And I am heartily sorry, we have so
few royal images of that metal among us; the sight whereof, although it
could hardly increase our veneration for His Majesty, which is already
so great; yet would very much enliven it with a mixture of comfort and

Alexander the Great, would suffer no statuary, except Phidias, to carve
his image in stone or metal. How must he have treated such an operator
as Wood, who goes about with sackfuls of dross; odiously misrepresenting
his Prince's countenance; and would force them, by thousands, upon every
one of us, at above six times the value.

But, notwithstanding all that hath been objected by William Wood
himself; together with his favourers, abettors, supporters, either
public or private; by those who connive at his project, or discourage
and discountenance his opposers, for fear of lessening their favour, or
hazarding their employments; by those who endeavour to damp the spirit
of the people raised against this coin; or check the honest zeal of such
as by their writings, or discourses, do all they can to keep it up:
Those softeners, sweeteners, compounders; and expedient-mongers, who
shake their heads so strongly, that we can hear their pockets jingle; I
did never imagine, that, in detecting the practices of such enemies to
the kingdom, I was "flying in the King's face"; or thought they were
better representers of His Majesty, than that very coin, for which they
are secret or open advocates.

If I were allowed to recite only those wishes of the nation, which may
be in our power to attain; I think they might be summed up in these few

First, That an end might be put to our apprehensions of Wood's
halfpence, and to any danger of the like destructive scheme for the

Secondly; That halfpence might be coined in this kingdom, by a public
mint, with due limitations.

Thirdly, That the sense of both Houses of Parliament, at least of the
House of Commons, were declared by some unanimous and hearty votes,
against wearing any silk or woollen manufactures, imported from abroad,
as likewise against wearing Indian silks or calicoes, which are
forbidden under the highest penalties in England: And it behoves us, to
take example from so wise a nation; because we are under a greater
necessity to do so, since we are not allowed to export any woollen
manufactures of our own; which is the principal branch of foreign trade
in England.

Fourthly, That some effectual methods may be taken to civilize the
poorer sort of our natives, in all those parts of this kingdom where the
Irish abound; by introducing among them our language and customs; for
want of which they live in the utmost ignorance, barbarity and poverty;
giving themselves wholly up to idleness, nastiness, and thievery, to the
very great and just reproach of too many landlords. And, if I had in me
the least spirit of a projector, I would engage that this might be
effected in a few years, at a very inconsiderable charge.[10]

[Footnote 10: Since this hint was suggested, several useful seminaries
have been instituted, under the name of "Charter Working Schools," in
Ireland, supported by the royal benefaction of a thousand pounds a year,
by a tax on hawkers and pedlars, and by voluntary subscriptions. The
schools are for the education of boys and girls born of Popish parents;
in most of them, the children manufacture their own clothing, and the
boys are employed in matters relative to husbandry. [F.]

These Charter Schools, founded by Marsh, Bishop of Clogher, and adopted
by Primate Boulter in 1733, were intended "to rescue the souls of
thousands of poor children from the dangers of Popish superstition and
idolatry, and their bodies from the miseries of idleness and beggary."
In reality the scheme was one by which it was hoped to prevent the
growth of Catholicism. The conditions and methods of instruction were
positively cruel, since the children were actually withheld from any
communication with their parents. Mr. Lecky deals with the subject fully
in the first volume of his "Ireland in the Eighteenth Century," Froude
gives the scheme his praise and admiration, but at the time of its
institution it was the cause of "an intensity of bitterness hardly
equalled by any portion of the penal code. Parents would rather do
anything than send their children into such prisons where, at last, they
would receive an education which, to their minds, must lead them to
forfeit their soul's salvation." [T.S.]]

Fifthly, That due encouragement should be given to agriculture; and a
stop put to that pernicious practice of graziers; engrossing vast
quantities of land, sometimes at great distance; whereby the country is
extremely depopulated.

Sixthly, That the defects in those acts for planting forest trees, might
be fully supplied, since they have hitherto been wholly ineffectual;
except about the demesnes of a few gentlemen; and even there, in
general, very unskilfully made, and thriving accordingly. Neither hath
there yet been due care taken to preserve what is planted, or to enclose
grounds; not one hedge, in a hundred, coming to maturity, for want of
skill and industry. The neglect of copsing woods cut down, hath likewise
been of very ill consequences. And if men were restrained from that
unlimited liberty of cutting down their own woods before the proper
time, as they are in some other countries; it would be a mighty benefit
to the kingdom. For, I believe, there is not another example in Europe,
of such a prodigious quantity of excellent timber cut down, in so short
a time, with so little advantage to the country, either in shipping or

I may add, that absurd practice of cutting turf, without any regularity;
whereby great quantities of restorable land are made utterly desperate,
many thousands of cattle destroyed, the turf more difficult to come at,
and carry home, and less fit for burning; the air made unwholesome by
stagnating pools and marshes; and the very sight of such places
offensive to those who ride by. Neither should that odious custom be
allowed, of cutting scraws, (as they call them) which is flaying off the
green surface of the ground, to cover their cabins; or make up their
ditches; sometimes in shallow soils, where all is gravel within a few
inches; and sometimes in low ground, with a thin greensward, and sloughy
underneath; which last turns all into bog, by this mismanagement. And,
I have heard from very skilful country-men, that by these two practices
in turf and scraws, the kingdom loseth some hundreds of acres of
profitable land every year; besides the irreparable loss of many skirts
of bogs, which have a green coat of grass, and yet are mangled for turf;
and, besides the want of canals, by regular cutting, which would not
only be a great convenience for bringing their turf home at an easy
rate; but likewise render even the larger bogs more dry and safe, for
summer pasture.

These, and some other speculations of the like kind, I had intended to
publish in a particular discourse against this session of Parliament;
because, in some periods of my life, I had opportunity and curiosity to
observe, from what causes those great errors, in every branch of country
management, have arisen; of which I have now ventured to relate but few,
out of very many; whereof some, perhaps, would not be mentioned without
giving offence; which I have endeavoured, by all possible means, to
avoid. And, for the same reason, I chose to add here, the little I
thought proper to say on this subject.

But, as to the lands of those who are perpetual absentees, I do not see
any probability of their being ever improved. In former times, their
tenants sat at easy rents; but for some years past, they have been,
generally speaking, more terribly racked by the dexterity of merciless
agents from England, than even those held under the severest landlords
here. I was assured upon the place, by great numbers of credible people,
that a prodigious estate in the county of Cork, being let upon leases
for lives, and great fines paid; the rent was so high, that the tenants
begged leave to surrender their leases, and were content to lose their

The cultivating and improvement of land, is certainly a subject worthy
of the highest enquiry in any country, but especially in ours; where we
are so strangely limited in every branch of trade, that can be of
advantage to us; and utterly deprived of those, which are of the
greatest importance; whereof I defy the most learned man in Europe, to
produce me an example from any other kingdom in the world: For, we are
denied the benefits which God and nature intended to us; as manifestly
appears by our happy situation for commerce, and the great number of
our excellent ports. So that, I think, little is left us, beside the
cultivating our own soil, encouraging agriculture, and making great
plantations of trees, that we might not be under the necessity of
sending for corn and bark from England, and timber from other countries.
This would increase the number of our inhabitants, and help to consume
our natural products, as well as manufactures at home. And I shall never
forget what I once ventured to say to a great man in England; "That few
politicians, with all their schemes, are half so useful members of a
commonwealth, as an honest farmer; who, by skilfully draining, fencing,
manuring, and planting, hath increased the intrinsic value of a piece of
land; and thereby done a perpetual service to his country;" which it is
a great controversy, whether any of the former ever did, since the
creation of the world; but no controversy at all, that ninety-nine in a
hundred, have done abundance of mischief.




"To the King's most Excellent MAJESTY: _The humble_ ADDRESS _of the_
Knights, Citizens _and_ Burgesses, _in Parliament assembled._


It is with the utmost Concern, that We, Your Majesty's most dutiful
subjects, the Commons of IRELAND in Parliament assembled, find ourselves
indispensably obliged, to represent to Your Majesty, our unanimous
Opinion: That the importing and uttering of _Copper Farthings_ and
_Halfpence_ by virtue of the Patent lately granted to _William Wood,_
Esq.; under the Great Seal of _Great Britain,_ will be highly
prejudicial to Your Majesty's Revenue, destructive of the trade and
commerce of this nation, and of the most dangerous consequence to the
properties of the subject.

[Footnote 1: Addresses by the House of Commons and the House of Lords
presented to the King in conformity with the resolutions passed by these
Houses. See Introductory Note to the Drapier's First Letter. The texts
of these addresses are taken from "Fraud Detected: or, the Hibernian
Patriot," printed by George Faulkner in 1725. [T.S.]]

"We are fully convinced, from the tender regard Your Majesty has always
expressed for our welfare and prosperity, that this Patent could not
have been obtained, had not _William Wood_ and his accomplices, greatly
misrepresented the state of this nation to Your Majesty, it having
appeared to us, by Examinations taken in the most solemn manner, that
though the terms thereof had been strictly complied with, there would
have been a loss to this nation of at least 150 _per Cent._ by means of
the said coinage, and a much greater in the manner the said _Half-pence_
have been coined.

"We likewise beg leave to inform Your Majesty, That the said _William
Wood_ has been guilty of a most notorious fraud and deceit in coining
the said _Half-pence,_ having, under colour of the powers granted unto
him, imported and endeavoured to utter great quantities of different
impressions, and of much less weight than was required by the said

"Your faithful _Commons_ have found, by experience, That the granting
the power or privilege of coining _Money_, or _Tokens_ to pass for
_Money_ to private persons, has been highly detrimental to your loyal
subjects; and being apprehensive, that the vesting such power in any
body politic or corporate, or any private person or persons whatsoever,
will be always of dangerous Consequence to this Kingdom, are encouraged,
by the repeated assurances Your Majesty hath given us of Your Royal
Favour and Protection, humbly to entreat Your Majesty, That whenever you
shall hereafter think it necessary to coin any _Farthings_ or
_Half-pence,_ the same may be made as near the intrinsic value as
possible, and that whatever profit shall accrue thereby, may be applied
to the public service.

"And we do further humbly beseech Your Majesty, That you will be
graciously pleased to give such direction, as you, in your great wisdom,
shall think proper, to prevent the fatal effects of uttering any
_Farthings_ or _Half-pence_ pursuant to the said Patent.

"As this enquiry has proceeded entirely from our love to our country, so
we cannot omit this opportunity of repeating our unanimous resolution,
to stand by and support Your Majesty to the utmost of our power, against
all Your enemies, both at home and abroad; and of assuring Your Majesty,
that we will, upon every occasion, give Your Majesty, and the world, all
possible demonstration of our zeal and inviolable duty and affection to
Your Majesty's most sacred person and government, and to the succession,
as established in Your Royal House."

"To the King's most Excellent MAJESTY. _The humble Address of the Lords
Spiritual and Temporal of_ IRELAND, _in Parliament assembled, against_
Wm. Wood.

"May it please Your most Sacred Majesty, WE the Lords Spiritual and
Temporal in Parliament assembled, are under the utmost concern to find,
that our duty to Your Majesty and our Country, indispensably calls upon
us to acquaint Your Majesty with the ill consequences, which will
inevitably follow from a Patent for coining Half-pence and Farthings to
be uttered in this Kingdom, obtained under the Great Seal of _Great
Britain,_ by one _William Wood_ in a clandestine and unprecedented
manner, and by a gross misrepresentation of the state of this Kingdom.

"We are most humbly of opinion, that the diminution of Your Majesty's
revenue, the ruin of our trade, and the impoverishing of your people,
must unavoidably attend this undertaking; and we beg leave to observe to
Your Majesty, that from the most exact Enquiries and Computations we
have been able to make, it appears to us, that the gain to _William
Wood_ will be excessive, and the loss to this Kingdom, by circulating
this base coin, greater than this poor country is able to bear.

"With the greatest submission and deference to Your Majesty's wisdom, we
beg we may offer it as our humble opinion. That the reserving the
coining of _Half-pence_ and _Farthings_ to the _Crown_ and _the not
intrusting it_ with any private person, body politic or corporate, will
always be for Your Majesty's service, and the good of your people in
_this Kingdom._

"In confidence, Sir, of your paternal care of the welfare of _this_
country, we beseech Your Majesty, that you will be pleased to extend
that goodness and compassion to us, which has so eminently shewed itself
to all your other subjects, who have the happiness to live under your
protection and government; and that you will give such directions as may
effectually free us from the terrible apprehensions we labour under from
the _Patent_ granted to _William Wood."_

The following was the King's reply to the above address:


"His _Majesty is very much concerned to see, That His granting the
Patent for coining_ Half-pence _and_ Farthings _agreeable to the
Practice of his Royal Predecessors, has given so much uneasiness to the_
House of Lords: _And if there have been any abuses committed by the_
Patentee, _His Majesty will give the necessary Orders for enquiring
into, and punishing those Abuses. And will do everything that is in His
Power, for the Satisfaction of His People."_



"_To the right honourable the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty's

"May it please your Lordships_,

According to your Lordships' Order, the pix of the copper-money coined
at Bristol by Mr. Wood for Ireland, has been opened and tried before us
at his Majesty's Mint in the Tower; and by the Comptroller's account, to
which Mr. Wood agreed, there hath been coined from Lady-day 1723 to
March 28, 1724, in half-pence, fifty and five tons, five hundred and
three quarters, and twelve ounces, and in farthings, three tons,
seventeen hundred and two quarters, ten pounds, and eight ounces,
_avoirdupois_, the whole coinage amounting to 59 tons, 3 cwt, 1 qr.
11 lbs. 4 ozs., and by the specimens of this coinage which have, from
time to time, been taken from the several parcels coined and sealed up
in papers, and put into the pix, we found that sixty half-pence weighed
fourteen ounces, _Troy_, and eight pennyweight, which is about a quarter
of an ounce above one pound _avoirdupois_; and that thirty farthings
weighed three ounces, and three quarters of an ounce _Troy_, and
forty-six grains, which is also above the weight required by his Patent.
We found also that both half-pence and farthings when heated red hot,
spread thin under the hammer without cracking, as your Lordships may see
by the pieces now laid before your Lordships. But although the copper
was very good, and the money, one piece with another, was full weight,
yet the single pieces were not so equally coined in the weight as they
should have been.

[Footnote 1: The copy of this Report as here printed is taken from the
tract already quoted in previous notes, entitled, "A Defence of the
Conduct of the People of Ireland in their unanimous Refusal of Mr.
Wood's Copper-money ... Dublin: Printed for George Ewing, at the Angel
and Bible in Dames-Street, MDCCXXIV." As already noted, the assayists
had for trial only those coins which were coined between March, 1723,
and March, 1724, and these coins were neither imported into Ireland nor
attempted to be uttered there. As Wood asked for the assay, he no doubt
knew what he was about. But even as it stands, the Report was not very
favourable to him. The author of the tract named above enters minutely
into this point, and for a further inquiry the reader is referred to
pages 15 to 19 of his publication. [T.S.]]

"We found also that thirty and two old half-pence coined for Ireland in
the reigns of King Charles 2d., King James 2d., and King William 3d. and
Queen Mary, and produced by Mr. Wood, weighed six ounces and eight
pennyweight _Troy_, that is, one hundred and three grains and a half
apiece one with another. They were much worn, and if about six or seven
grains be allowed to each of them one with another for loss of their
weight by wearing, the copper-money coined for England, in the reign of
King William being already as much lightened by wearing, they might at
first weigh about half a pound _avoirdupois_; whereas only thirty of
those coined by Mr. Wood are to be of that. They were also made of bad
copper, two of those coined in the reign of King Charles II. wasted much
in the fire, and then spread thin under the hammer, but not so well
without cracking as those of Mr. Wood. Two of those coined in the reign
of King James II. wasted much more in the fire, and were not malleable
when red hot. Two of those coined in the reign of King William and Queen
Mary wasted still more in the fire, and turned to an unmalleable
substance like a cinder, as your Lordships may see the pieces now laid
before you.

"By the assays we reckon the copper of Mr. Wood's halfpence and
farthings to be of the same goodness and value with the copper of which
the copper money is coined in the King's Mint for England; or worth in
the market about twelve or thirteen pence per pound weight
_avoirdupois_; and the copper of which the half-pence were coined for
Ireland in the reigns of King Charles, King James, and King William, to
be much inferior in value, the mixture being unknown, and not bearing
the fire for converting it to any other use until it be refined.

"The half-pence and farthings in the pix coined by Mr. Wood had on one
side the head of the King, with this inscription GEORGIUS DEI GRATIA
REX: And on the other side, a woman sitting with a harp by her left
side, and above her the inscription HIBERNIA with the date. The
half-pence coined in the reigns of King Charles, King James, and King
William, had on one side the head of King Charles, King James, or King
William and Queen Mary, and on the reverse a harp crowned.

"All which facts we most humbly represent to your Lordships. April 27,



[Greek: "A ghar proseidon nukthi taeoe phasmata
Disson oneiron, tauta moi----
Ehi men pephaenen esthlha, dus telesphora,
Eid echthra, tois echthroisin empalin methes
Kai mae me plete te paront ei tines
Doloisi beleueoin ekbalein, ephaes."]

Soph, Elec. [644-649].

Since the heat of this business, which has of late so much and so justly
concerned this kingdom, is at last, in a great measure over, we may
venture to abate something of our former zeal and vigour in handling it,
and looking upon it as an enemy almost overthrown, consult more our own
amusement than its prejudice, in attacking it in light excursory
skirmishes. Thus much I thought fit to observe, lest the world should be
too apt to make an obvious pun upon me; when beginning to dream upon
this occasion, I presented it with the wild nocturnal rovings of an
unguided imagination, on a subject of so great importance, as the final
welfare or ruin of a whole nation.

[Footnote 1: The following tract, written probably by Thomas Sheridan,
Swift's humorous friend, is interesting as affording an example of the
lighter kind of literature brought into existence by this agitation. It
may be that Swift had a hand in its composition. The text is taken from
a copy of the original broadside in the South Kensington Collection. It
was published during the height of the controversy. [T.S.]]

But so it was, that upon reading one of the Drapier's letters, I fell
asleep, and had the following dream:

The first object that struck me was a woman of exquisite beauty, and a
most majestic air, seated on a throne, whom by the figure of a lion
beneath her feet, and of Neptune who stood by her, and paid her the most
respectful homage, I easily knew to be the Genius of England; at some
distance from her, (though not at so great an one as seemed to be
desired,) I observed a matron clothed in robes so tattered and torn,
that they had not only very nigh lost their original air of royalty and
magnificence, but even exposed her to the inclemency of the weather in
several places, which with many other afflictions had so affected her,
that her natural beauty was almost effaced, and her strength and spirits
very nigh lost. She hung over a harp with which, if she sometimes
endeavoured to sooth her melancholy, she had still the misfortune to
find it more or less out of tune, particularly, when as I perceived at
last, it was strung with a sort of wire of so base composition, that
neither she nor I could make anything of it. I took particular notice,
that, when moved by a just sense of her wrongs, she could at any time
raise her head, she fixed her eyes so stedfastly on her neighbour,
sometimes with an humble and entreating, at others, with a more bold and
resentful regard, that I could not help (however improbable it should
seem from her generous august appearance) in a great measure to
attribute her misfortunes to her; but this I shall submit to the
judgment of the world.

I should now at last mention the name, were not these circumstances too
unhappily singular to make that any way necessary.

As I was taken up with many melancholy reflections on this moving
object, I was on a sudden interrupted by a little sort of an uproar,
which, upon turning my eyes towards it, I found arose from a crowd of
people behind her throne; the cause it seems was this:

There was, I perceived, among them the god of merchandise, with his
sandals, mostly of brass, but not without a small proportion of gold and
silver, and his wings chiefly of the two latter metals, but allayed with
a little of the former; with those he used to trudge up and down to
furnish them with necessaries; with these he'd take a flight to other
countries, but not so dexterously or to so good purpose as in other
places of his office, not so much for want of encouragement among 'em
here, as on account of the haughty jealousy of their neighbours, who, it
seems dreading in them a rival, took care to clip his wings and
circumscribe his flights; the former, more especially, being, by these
and other means so much worn, he performed his office but lamely, which
gave occasion to some who had their own private interest more at heart,
than that of the public, to patch up some of the places that were worn,
with a metal of the same nature indeed, but so slight and base, that
though at first it might serve to carry him on their errands, it soon
failed, and by degrees grew entirely useless; insomuch, that he would
rather be retarded than promoted in his business, and this occasioned
the above disturbances among his dependents, who thereupon turned their
eyes towards their mistress (for by this time she will I presume be
better known by that, than the more homely and sociable name of
neighbour) and not daring of late to say or do anything without her
approbation, made several humble applications to her, beseeching that
she would continue them that liberty of refitting these implements
themselves, which she had been formerly pleased graciously to allow 'em;
but these, however reasonable, were all rejected, whereupon I observed a
certain person (a mean ill-looking fellow) from among a great number of
people that stood behind the genius of England, who, during the whole
affair had kept his eyes intently fixed on his neighbours, watching all
their motions, like a hawk hovering over his quarry, and with just the
same design: Him, I say, I observed to turn off hastily, and make
towards the throne, where being arrived, after some preparations
requisite, he preferred a petition, setting forth the wants and
necessities, (but taking care to make 'em appear at least four times
greater than they really were) of his neighbours, or as he might have
more truly and honestly said his own, both which, for the latter, though
not expressed, he chiefly intended, but modestly or rather knavishly
left to be understood, he begged the royal licence to redress, by
supplying those defects which were the occasion of 'em. This humble
suppliant I observed both before and after this petition, seemed to
employ his utmost industry and art, to insinuate himself into the good
graces of two persons that stood on each side the throne;[2]the one on
the right was a lady of large make and swarthy complexion; the other, a
man, that seemed to be between fifty and sixty, who had an air of deep
designing thought: These two he managed with a great deal of art; for
the lady he employed all the little arts that win her sex, particularly,
I observed, that he frequently took hold of her hand, as in raptures, to
kiss it, in such a manner as made me suspect she did not always draw it
back empty; but this he did so slily, that it was not easy for anybody
to be certain of it: The man on the other hand, he plied his own way
with politics, remonstrating to him the several things he had before the
throne; which however, as might be presumed from his manner of attending
to them, seemed to make little impression; but when he came to lay
before him the great advantages that might accrue from thence to their
mistress, and consequently to him, he heard him with the utmost
eagerness and satisfaction; at last, having plainly told him, that he
himself should be a considerable gainer by it, and thereupon, that every
thing that came to his hands of that nature should be at his service: As
a sort of token or earnest he kissed his hand in the same manner he had
the lady's, and so retired; by these and the like means he soon brought
over both parties to him, who, with a whisper or two, procured him the
royal licence; whereupon he immediately fell to making up a metal, if it
deserved the name, of a very strange composition, wherewith he purposed
to refit the implements of that useful deity, but in such manner, that
for the base metal he put into them, he would take care to draw away
from them an infinitely more than proportionable quantity of gold and
silver, and thereby render him almost incapable of taking flight to
foreign countries; nay, at last perhaps utterly so, when under pretence
of their not being completed, he should filch in more of his metal, and
filch away more of theirs.

[Footnote 2: The Duchess of Kendal and Sir Robert Walpole. [S.]]

These things being therefore prepared, he sends 'em over to his
neighbours, and there endeavoured to get them admitted by fair words and
promises, being too sensible that they were not of themselves the most
willing to accept of his favour, and indeed he was not deceived; for
they being advertised of his designs, had taken the alarm, and had
almost to a man united in one common faction against him. This generous
ardour had first taken hold of the most active and important part, and
if I may be allowed to call it, the heart of this body, from thence was
on one side by a quick passage, and in its more refined parts,
communicated through the blood to the contemplative, and reasoning, the
head, which it inspired with noble thoughts and resolutions; and on the
other, to the inferior extremities, which were thereby rendered more
expedite and readier to obey the dictates of the head in a rougher
method of opposition, from each of which extremities being carried back
to its fountain, it was returned to them from thence, and so backwards
and forwards, till the circulation and union were confirmed and
completed, the sordid unnatural, offensive parts being in the meantime
thrown off as dregs of nature, and nuisances of human society; but of
these in so well-tempered a constitution, there were but few; however,
when there were any to be found, though they had been of the most
exalted nature, and bore most noble offices in this body, by any
corruption became so, they shared the common fate, with this only
difference, that they were rejected with greater scorn and contempt on
account of their former dignity, as was found in one notorious instance;
but on the other hand, among all the parts that were serviceable to the
constitution on this occasion, there was not one more so, than a certain
one whose name indeed is not openly known, but whose good offices and
usefulness are too great ever to be forgotten; for it by its nice
diligence and skill selected out things of the most noble and exquisite
nature, by infusing and dispersing them to enliven and invigorate the
whole body, which how effectually they did, our bold projector sadly
experienced. For finding all his endeavours to pass his ware upon them,
disappointed, he withdrew; but his patron on the other side being
informed of what had passed, fell into a most terrible passion, and
threatened, they say, I know not what, of making to swallow and ramming
down throats; but while they were in deep conference together, methought
all on a sudden a trap-door dropped, and down fell our projector; this
unexpected accident did on many accounts not a little alarm the throne,
and gave it but too great occasion to reflect a little on what had been
doing, as what a mean ordinary fellow it had intrusted with the care of
an affair of so great consequence that though their neighbours' refusal
might possibly have put him to such straits as might be the great
occasion of this disgrace, yet that very refusal could not be so
universal and resolute without some reason, which could arise from
nothing else but the unseasonableness or unworthiness of his offers, or
both, and he, consequently, must deserve as much to suffer as they did;
not for the better information, therefore in these surmises some of the
neighbours were consulted, who confirming them, things seemed to bear a
good face, and be in a very fair way of clearing up. When I awoke, I
cannot say whether more pleased at the present posture of affairs, when
I recollected how indifferent an one they had lately been in, or anxious
when upon considering that they were not yet firm and settled, I was led
to reflect in general on the uncertainty of events, and in particular,
on the small reason the persons in hand can have to promise themselves
prosperous ones, especially when they are depending in that part of the

Dublin, printed in the year 1724-5.



Ceteri, quanto quis servitio promptior, opibus et honoribus extollerentur:
Invalido legum auxilio, quae vi, ambitu, postremo pecunia
turbabantur.--_Tacit. An._


I fear your lordship in your wonted zeal for the interest of your
country will think this paper very unseasonable; but I am very confident
not more than one man in this kingdom will be of your lordship's

[Footnote 1: The two following severe letters are directly addressed to
Lord Chief Justice Whitshed, and were generally circulated. They
probably underwent Swift's correction, though they have too much of a
legal cast to have been written by the Dean himself.... They were,
perhaps, composed by Mr. Robert Lindsay, distinguished by Swift in his
letter to Lord Midleton, as an eminent lawyer, as well as a man of
virtue and learning, whose legal advice he used during the whole
controversy. [S.]

The present letters are taken from copies of the original broadsides in
the South Kensington collection. [T.S.]]

In matters of law your opinion has from our first acquaintance entirely
guided me, and the things you have assured me I might depend upon as
law, have few of them escaped my memory, though I have had but little
conversation with you since you first appeared in Parliament and moved
the House to resolve, That it is the indispensable duty of the judges of
this kingdom to go through their circuits; nor have I had any since you
fell sick and was made solicitor-general.

I have often heard your lordship affirm, and therefore I do affirm it,
That the great ends for which grand juries were instituted, were the
support of the government, the safety of every man's life and fortune,
it being necessary some should be trusted to inquire after all
disturbers of the peace, that they might be prosecuted and brought to
condign punishment; and it is no less needful for every man's quiet and
safety, that the trust of such inquisitions should be put into the hands
of persons of understanding and integrity, that will suffer no man to be
falsely accused or defamed; nor the lives of any to be put in jeopardy,
by the malicious conspiracies of great or small, or the perjuries of any
profligate wretches.

So material a part of our constitution are grand juries, so much does
the security of every subject depend upon them, that though anciently
the sheriff was by express law, chosen annually by the people of the
county, and trusted with the power of the county, yet the law left not
the election of grand juries to the will of the sheriff, but has
described their qualifications, which if they have, and the sheriff
return them, no man, nay no judge, can object to their being sworn, much
less may they to their serving when sworn: And to prevent the
discretionary power (a new-fashioned term) of these judges over juries,
you used to say was made the statute of the 11th of Hen. 4.

Pardon me my lord if I venture to affirm, That a dissolving power is a
breach of that law, or at least an evasion, as every citizen in Dublin
in Sir Constantine Phipps's time perfectly understood, that disapproving
the aldermen lawfully returned to the Privy-council was in effect
assuming the power of choosing and returning----But your lordship and
I know dissolving and disapproving are different terms.

I always understood from your Lordship the trust and power of grand
juries is or ought to be accounted amongst the greatest and of most
concern, next to the legislative: The honour, reputations, fortunes and
lives of every man being subject to their censure; the kings of England
have an undoubted power of dissolving parliaments, but dissolving 'till
one was returned to their or their ministers' liking, has never been
thought very righteous, and Heaven be praised never very successful.

I am entirely of your lordship's opinion, the oath of a grand juryman is
not always sufficiently considered by the jurors, which is as follows.

"You shall diligently enquire, and true presentment make of all such
articles, matters and things as shall be given you in charge; And of all
other matters and things as shall come to your own knowledge, touching
this present service. The King's counsel your fellows' and your own you
shall keep secret," &c.--And from some other men's behaviour, I fear
oaths are not always as sacredly observed as they ought to be: "The
King's counsel, your fellows' and your _own_ you shall keep
secret"--Though our grandmothers my lord might have thought there was a
dispensing power in the Pope, you and I profess no power upon earth can
dispense with this oath, so that to force a man to discover the counsel
he is sworn to keep, is to force him into direct perjury.

Suppose upon information taken before your Lordship of a rape committed,
a bill of indictment were sent to a grand jury, and the grand jury
return _ignoramus_ on it, application is made to the Court to
recommend it to them to reconsider it, and they return as before
_ignoramus_--Suppose a judge with more than decent passion should ask
them their reasons (which is their counsel) for so doing, nay should be
so particular as to demand of them whether they thought the woman a
whore. Must not all the world conclude somebody had forgot the oath of a
grand juryman? Yes sure, or his own, or worse.--But suppose they should
ask a juror a question might criminate himself? My Lord, you know I put
not bare possibilities, it is generally believed these things have been
done within an oak of this town--And if I am rightly informed, the
restraint a juror is under by his oath, is so well understood, that a
certain person desired the clerk of the Crown to change the form of it
by adding this exception: "unless by leave or order of the Court."

These things, my Lord, would seem strange in Westminster-hall, and would
be severely noted in St. Stephen's Chapel. The honour of the Crown would
be thought a very false as well as weak plea for such proceedings there,
as indeed it is an infamous one everywhere, for 'tis a scandal upon a
king, if he is represented in a court of justice, as if he were
partially concerned or rather inclined to desire, that a party should be
found guilty, than that he should be declared innocent.

The King's interest and honour is more concerned in the protection of
the innocent, than in the punishment of the guilty, as in all the
immediate actions of his Majesty we find that maxim pursued, a maxim can
never run a prince into excesses. We do not only find those princes
represented in history under odious characters, who have basely betrayed
the innocent, but such as by their spies and informers were too
inquisitive after the guilty, whereas none was ever blamed for clemency,
or for being too gentle interpreters of the law. Though Trajan was an
excellent prince, endowed with all heroical virtues; yet the most
eloquent writers, and his best friends, found nothing more to be praised
in his government, than that in his time, all men might think what they
pleased, and every man speak what he thought, this I say, that if any
amongst us by violent measures, and a dictatorial behaviour have raised
jealousies in the minds of His Majesty's faithful subjects, the blame
may lie at their door.

I know it has been said for His Majesty's service, grand juries may be
forced to discover their counsels: But you will confess a king can do
nothing against law, nor will any honest man judge that for his service,
which is not warranted by law. If a constant uninterrupted usage, can
give the force of a law, then the grand jurymen are bound by law, as
well as by their oaths, to keep the King's, their fellows' and their own
counsel secret. Bracton and Britton in their several generations bear
witness, that it was then practised; and greater proof of it needs not
be sought, than the disputes that appear by the law-books to have been
amongst the ancient lawyers, Whether it was treason or felony for a
grand juryman to discover their counsels--The trust of grand juries was
in those days thought so sacred, and their secrecy of so great concern
to the kingdom, that whosoever should break their oaths, was by all
thought worthy to die, only some would have them suffer as traitors,
others as felons.

If a king's commands should come to the judges of a court of justice or
to a jury, desiring them to vary from the direction of the law, (which
it is criminal to say, and no man ought to be believed therein) they are
bound by their oaths not to regard them. The statute of 2 of E. 3. 8.
and 20 E. 3. I. are express; and the substance of these and other
statutes is inserted into the oaths taken by every judge; and if they be
under the most solemn and sacred tie in the execution of justice to hold
for nothing the commands of the King under the great seal, then surely
political views and schemes, the pleasure or displeasure of a minister,
in the like case ought to be less than nothing.

It is a strange doctrine that men must sacrifice the law to secure their
properties, if the law is to be fashioned for every occasion, if grand
jurymen contrary to their oaths must discover their fellows' and their
own counsels, and betray the trust the law has reposed in them, if they
must subject the reasons of their verdicts to the censure of the judges,
whom the law did never design to trust with the liberty, property, or
good name of their fellow-subjects. No man can say he has any security
for his life or fortune, and they who do not themselves, may however see
their best friends and nearest relations suffer the utmost violences and

Which leads me to say a few words of the petit jury, not forgetting Mr.
Walters. I am assured by an eminent lawyer, that the power and office of
a petit jury is judicial, that they only are the judges from whose
sentence the indicted are to expect life or death. Upon their integrity
and understanding the lives of all that are brought in judgment do
ultimately depend; from their verdict there lies no appeal, by finding
guilty or not guilty. They do complicately resolve both law and fact. As
it hath been the law, so it hath always been the custom and practice of
these juries (except as before) upon all general issues, pleaded in
cases civil as well as criminal, to judge both of the law and fact. So
it is said in the report of the Lord Chief Justice Vaughan in Bushell's
case, That these juries determine the law in all matters where issue is
joined and tried, in the principal case whether the issue be about
trespass or debt, or disseizin in assizes, or a tort or any such like,
unless they should please to give a special verdict with an implicate
faith in the judgment of the Court, to which none can oblige them
against their wills.

It is certain we may hope to see the trust of a grand juryman best
discharged when gentlemen of the best fortunes and understandings attend
that service, but it is as certain we must never expect to see such men
on juries, if for differing with a judge in opinion, when they only are
the lawful judges, they are liable to be treated like villains, like
perjurers, and enemies to their king and country; I say my lord such
behaviour to juries will make all gentlemen avoid that duty, and instead
of men of interest, of reputation and abilities, our lives, our
fortunes, and our reputations must depend upon the basest and meanest of
the people.

I know it is commonly said, _boni judicis est ampliare juridictionem_.
But I take that to be better advice which was given by the Lord
Chancellor Bacon upon swearing a judge; That he would take care to
contain the jurisdiction of the court within the ancient mere-stones
without removing the mark.

I intend to pay my respects to your lordship once every month 'till the
meeting of the Parliament, when our betters may consider of these
matters, and therefore will not trouble you with any more on this
subject at present. But conclude, most heartily praying----

That from depending upon the will of a judge, who may be corrupted or
swayed by his own passions, interests, or the impulse of such as support
him and may advance him to greater honours, the God of mercy and of
justice deliver this nation.

          I am, my lord,
  Your lordship's most obedient humble servant,
Dec. the First 1724.
     Dublin: Printed in the Year 1724.


My Lord,

I think the best service men employed by His Majesty can do for him and
this country, is to shew such prudence and temper in their behaviours as
may convince every man they are not intrusted with any power but what is
necessary and will always be exercised for the advantage and security of
His Majesty's subjects.

For my own part I hold it the duty of every man though he has not the
honour of serving His Majesty in public employment, not only, not to
misrepresent the actions of his servants, but in matters of small
concern, to wink at their follies and mistakes; I know the Jacobites and
Papists our irreconcilable enemies are too watchful to lay hold of every
occasion to misrepresent His Majesty and turn the faults of ambitious
and self-interested servants upon the best of kings.

I hear some men say, that in my last to your lordship, there appears
more of the satirist, than becomes a man engaged merely in the defence
of liberty and justice; But I am satisfied I can with charity affirm,
they are either such as have no knowledge of the several steps [that]
have been taken to bring this poor country into ruin and disgrace, or
they are of the number of those who have had a share in the actings and
contrivances against it; for my lord, he must rather be an insensible
stoic than an angry cynic, who can survey the measures of some men
without horror and indignation--To see men act as if they had never
taken an oath of fidelity to their king, whose interest is inseparable
from that of his people, but had sworn to support the ruinous projects
of abandoned men (of whatever faction) must rouse the most lethargic, if
honest, soul.

I who have always professed myself a Whig do confess it has mine.

I beg leave in this place to explain what I intended in my last by the
words, "unless by leave or order of the court," lest whilst I plead for
justice I should do an injury to your lordship.

I do declare I never heard that story of your lordship, and I hope no
man did believe it of you. My intention was by that hint to remember you
of Judge U--p--n and a certain assizes held at Wicklow, as I believe
your lordship understood it, and as I now desire all the world may.

Having learned from your lordship and other lawyers of undoubted
abilities, that no judge ought by threats or circumvention to make a
grand-juryman discover the king's counsel his fellows' or his own I
should not at present say anything in support of that position. But that
I find a most ridiculous and false explanation seem to mislead some men
in that point: Say they, by the word counsel is understood, such bills
as are before the grand jury and the evidence the prosecutors for the
crown have to support the charge against the subject--Lest that being
known the party indictable may fly from justice, or he may procure false
witnesses to discredit the evidence for the king, or he may by bribes
and other indirect measures take off the witnesses for the crown.

I confess _I_ take that to be the meaning of the word counsel, but I am
certain that is not _all_ that is meant by it, that is what must be
understood when it is called the king's counsel, _id est_, the counsel
or reasons for which the king by his servants, his attorney-general or
coroner, has drawn and sent to the grand jury a charge against a

But the counsel of a juror is a different thing, it is the evidence, the
motives and reasons that induce him or his fellow-jurors to say _billa
vera_ or _ignoramus_, and the opinion he or they happen to be of when the
question is put by the foreman for finding or not finding: This counsel
every man is sworn to keep secret, that so their opinion and advice may
not be of prejudice to them hereafter, That as they are sworn to act
without favour or affection, so may they also act without FEAR. Whereas,
were it otherwise the spirit of revenge is so universal, there are but
few cases wherein a juror could act with safety to himself; either the
prosecuted, as where the bill is found, or the prosecutor, where it is
returned _ignoramus_, may contrive to defame the jurors who differ from
them in opinion: As I am told has happened to some very honest citizens
who are represented to be Jacobites since their opinions were know to be
against ----. And sometimes revenge or ambition may prompt men to carry
it further, as in the case of Mr. Wilmer, who in King Charles 2d's time
was very severely handled for being one of an _ignoramus_ jury.----
'Tis not necessary to say whom he disobliged by being so.----But if I
remember right his case was this.

He was a merchant, (and as I said, an _ignoramus_ juryman) had
covenanted with a servant boy to serve him in the West Indies, and
accordingly sent him beyond sea: Upon suggestion and affidavit by which
any person might have it, a writ _de homine replegiando_ was granted
against Mr. Wilmer; the sheriffs would have returned on the writ the
agreement and the boy's consent, but the court (in the case of this
Wilmer) Easter 34, Cha. 2. [_i.e.,_ Charles the Second] in B.R. ruled
they must return _replegiari fecimus_ or _elongavit_, that is, they had
replevy'd the boy, or that Wilmer had carried him away where they could
not find him, in which last case Mr. Wilmer, though an innocent person
must have gone to gaol until he brought the boy into court or he must
have been outlawed--Shower's Rep. 2 Part.

I do not say this that I think the same thing will be practised again,
or anything like it, though I know that very homely proverb, "More ways
of killing a dog than hanging him."--But I instance it to shew, the
counsels of every grand juryman should be kept secret, that he may act
freely and without apprehensions of resentment from the prosecuted or

My resolution when I writ to you last, was, not to have said anything in
this concerning the power of dissolving or dispensing, but as I have
been forced to say something of the dispensing, for the same reason I
must of the dissolving power.--A power undoubtedly in effect including
that of returning, which makes me wish two men of great interest in this
kingdom, differing in every other thing, had not undertaken to defend
it, or they had better reasons for it than I have yet heard.

'Tis said, "This power is in the court as a right of resistance is in
the people, as the people have a power superior to the prerogative of
the prince, though no written or express law for it; so of necessity
though no statute directs it, and it may seem to overturn the greatest
security men have for their liberties, yet the court has a power of
dissolving grand juries, if they refuse to find or present as the court
shall direct."

Pray let us consider how well this concludes.

The people may do anything in defence of their lives, their religion and
liberties, and consequently resistance is lawful, therefore an inferior
court a _bene placito_ judge may----Monstrous absurdity.

Another, I am sorry I can't say more modest argument to support it is

"Considering," say they, "grand juries, it is but reasonable a
discretionary power of dissolving them should be lodged in the judges."

By the words "considering grand juries," I must understand considering
their understandings, their fortunes or their integrity, for from a want
of one or more of those qualifications must arise the reason of such a
discretionary power in the judges.

Though I shall not urge it as far as I could, I will venture to say the
argument is at least as strong the other way--considering the judges.--

First as to their understandings, it must be confessed the benches are
infinitely superior to the lower professors of the law: Yet surely it
can't give offence to say the gentlemen of the several counties have
understandings sufficient to discharge the duty of grand jurymen--If
want of fortune be an objection to grand jurymen, _a pari ratione_, it
is an objection to some other men.--Besides, that the fact is not true,
for in their circuits, no judge goes into any county where he does not
meet at least a dozen gentlemen returned upon every grand jury, every
one of whom have better estates than he himself has--And these not
during pleasure, which last consideration, saves me the trouble of
shewing the weakness of the objection in the third qualification.

"Ay. But it was a necessary expedient to keep out Wood's brass."

Are the properties of the commons of this kingdom better secured by the
knight-errantry of that day? In the name of common sense, what are we to
believe? Has the undaunted spirit, the tremendous voice of ------
frightened Wood and his accomplices from any further attempts? Or rather
has not the ready compliance of ------ encouraged them to further
trials? The officers and attendants of his court may tremble when he
frowns, but who else regards it more than they do one of Wood's

"There is no comparison," says another, "between the affair of Sir W.
Scroggs and this of ------. Sir W. discharged a grand jury because they
were about to present the Duke of York for being a Papist, but ------
discharged the grand jury for not presenting a paper he recommended to
them to present as scandalous, (and in which, I say, he was a party
reflected on.)"

I agree there is a mighty difference, but whom does it make for?

A grand jury of a hundred (part of a county) take upon them to present
a no less considerable person than the king's brother and heir
presumptive of the crown, the chief-justice thinks this a matter of too
much moment for men of such sort to meddle in, but a matter more proper
for the consideration of Parliament: I would not be understood to
condemn the jury; I think they acted as became honest Englishmen and
lovers of their country; But I say if judges could in any case be
allowed to proceed by rules of policy, surely here was a sufficient
excuse. However the commons impeached him.

The determinations of ignorant or wicked judges as they are precedents
of little weight, so they are but of little danger, and therefore it
will become the commons at all times to animadvert most carefully upon
the actions of the most knowing men in that profession.

I say, my lord, _at all times_, because I hear former merit is pleaded
to screen this action from any inquiry.

I am sensible much is due to the man who has always preferred the public
interest to his private advantages as -------- has done. When a man has
signalized himself, when he has suffered for that principle, he deserves
universal respect. Yet men should act agreeably to the motive of that
respect, and not ruin the liberty of their country to shew their
gratitude, and so, my lord, where a man has the least pretence to that
character, I think 'tis best to pass over small offences, but never such
as will entail danger and dishonour upon us and our posterity.

The Romans, my lord, when a question was in the senate, whether they
should ransom fifteen thousand citizens who had merited much by their
former victories, but losing one battle were taken prisoners; were
determined by the advice of that noble Roman Attilius Regulus not to
redeem them as men unworthy their further care, though probably it was
their misfortunes not their faults lost that day.

    Flagitio additis
Damnum: neque amissos colores
Luna refert medicata fuco

He thought they were not worthy to be trusted again:----

To shew them pity, in his mind, would betray the Romans to perpetual
danger: _Et exemplo trahenti_

Perniciem veniens in aevum,
Si non periret immiserabilis
Captiva pubes

I hear some precedents have been lately found out to justify that
memorable action; but if precedents must control reason and justice, if
a man may swear he will keep his counsels secret, and yet by precedents
may be forced to divulge them, I would advise gentlemen very seriously
to consider, the danger we are in; and examine what precedents there are
on each side of the question, for my part I think the commons of England
are not a worse precedent than the judges of England.

Besides it must be remembered that precedents in some cases will not
excuse a judge, even where they are according to the undoubted law of
the land, as for instance,

Suppose a man says what is true, not knowing it to be true, though it be
logically a truth as it is distinguished, yet it is morally false; and
so, suppose a judge give judgment according to law, not knowing it to be
so, as if he did not know the reason of it at that time, but bethought
himself of a reason or precedent for it afterwards, though the judgment
be legal and according to precedent, yet the pronouncing of it is
unjust; and the judge shall be condemned in the opinions of all men: As
happened to the Lord Chief Justice Popham a person of great learning and
parts, who upon the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh; when Sir Walter
objected to reading or giving in evidence, Lord Cobham's affidavit,
taken in his absence, without producing the lord face to face, the lord
being then forthcoming: The chief justice overruled the objection, and
was of opinion it should be given in evidence against Sir Walter, and
summing up the evidence to the jury the chief justice said, "Just then
it came into his mind why the accuser should not come face to face to
the prisoner, because, &c." Now if any judge has since found precedents,
or has since picked up the opinion of lawyers, I fear he will come
within the case I have put.

I foresee, if ever this question happens to be debated, _you know
where_, gentlemen will be divided; Some will be desirous to do their
country justice and free us from all future danger of this kind; Others
upon motives not quite so laudable, will strive to screen, and with
others private friendship will prevail: But I would recommend to your
friends, who really love their country, to consider the several
circumstances concurring in your lordship which probably may not in your
successor: Let them suppose a person were to fill your place, from whose
manifest ignorance in the law, we may reasonably conclude, his only
merit is an inveteracy and hatred to this country. I say how could your
best friends excuse themselves, if in regard to your lordship they
should suffer such a precedent to be handed down to such a man
unobserved or uncensured?

_Invenit etiam aemulos infaelix nequitia_--Ambitious men have not always
been deterred by the unhappy fate of their predecessors, _Quid si
floreat vigeatque?_ But what lengths will they run if injustice and
corruption shall ride triumphant?

Had somebody received a reprimand upon his knees in a proper place, for
treating a printer's jury like men convict of perjury, forcing them to
find a special verdict, I dare to say he had not been quite so hardy as
to have discharged the grand jury or treated them in the manner he did,
because they had not an implicit faith in the court; nor had he dared
not to receive a presentment made by the second grand jury against
Wood's farthings upon pretence it was informal, which I mention because
the worthy Drapier has mistaken the fact.

Some of your lordship's screens I hear advise you to shew great humility
and contrition for what's past, as the only means to appease the just
indignation all sorts of men have conceived against you.----Were I well
secured you will not recommend this letter to the next grand jury to be
presented, I could give you more _seasonable advice_, but happen as it
may I will venture to give you a little.

Fawning and cajoling will have but little effect on those who have had
the honour of your acquaintance these ten years past, for Caligula who
used to hide his head if he heard the thunder, would piss upon the
statues of the gods when he thought the danger over--A better expedient
is this,----

Tell men the Drapier is a Tory and a Jacobite.--That he writ "The
Conduct of the Allies."--That he writ not his letters with a design to
keep out Wood's halfpence, but to bring in the Pretender; persuade them
if you can, the dispute is no longer about the power of judges over
juries, nor how much the liberty of the subject is endangered by
dissolving them at pleasure, but that it is now become mere Whig and
Tory, a dispute between His Majesty's friends and the Jacobites, and
'twere better to see a thousand grand juries discharged than the Tories
carry a question though in the right.--_Haec vulnera pro libertate
publica excepi, hunc oculum pro vobis impendi._ Try this cant, pin a
cloth over your eyes, look very dismal, and cry, "I was turned out of
employment, when the Drapier was rewarded with a Deanery," I say, my
lord, if you can once bring matters thus to bear, I have not the least
doubt you may escape without censure.

To your lordship's zeal and industry without doubt is owing, that the
Papists and the Tories have not delivered this kingdom over to the
Pretender, so Caesar conquered Pompey that _Legum auctor et eversor,_
and 'twas but just the liberty and laws of Rome should afterwards depend
upon his will and pleasure.----The Drapier in his letter to Lord
Molesworth has made a fair offer, "Secure his country from Wood's
coinage," then condemn all he has writ and said as false and scandalous,
when your lordship does as much I must confess it will be somewhat
difficult to discover the impostor.

Thus to keep my word with your lordship, I have much against my
inclinations writ this, which shall be my last upon the ungrateful
subject.--If I have leisure, and find a safe opportunity of giving it to
the printer, my next shall explain what has long duped the true Whigs of
this kingdom. I mean _honesty in the "worst of times."_

Though your lordship object to my last, that what I writ was taken out
of Lord Coke, Lord Somers, Sir Will. Jones, or the writings of some
other great men, yet I will venture to end this with the sentiments of
Philip de Comines upon some thorough-going courtiers.

"If a sixpenny tax is to be raised, they cry by all means it ought to be
double. If the prince is offended with any man, they are directly for
hanging him. In other instances, they maintain the same character.
Above all things they advise their king to make himself terrible, as
they themselves are proud, fierce, and overbearing, in hopes to be
dreaded by that means, as if authority and place were their

          I am,
            My Lord,
      Your Lordship's most
              obedient and most
                   humble servant.
_Jan_. 4, 1724-5.



Whereas several great quantities of base metal coined, commonly called
_Wood's halfpence,_ have been brought into the port of Dublin, and
lodged in several houses of this city, with an intention to make them
pass clandestinely, among His Majesty's subjects of this kingdom;
notwithstanding the addresses of both houses of parliament and the
privy-council, and the declarations of most of the corporations of this
city against the said coin; And whereas His Majesty hath been graciously
pleased to leave his loyal subjects of this kingdom at liberty to take
or refuse the said halfpence.

[Footnote 1: Chief Justice Whitshed, after browbeating the Grand Jury
that threw out the Bill against Harding for printing the fourth
Drapier's letter, discharged it, and called another Grand Jury. The
second Grand Jury not only repeated the verdict of the first, but issued
the following expression of its opinion on the matter of Wood and his
patent. [T.S.]]

We the Grand Jury of the county of the city of Dublin, this Michaelmas
term, 1724, having entirely at heart His Majesty's interest and the
welfare of our country, and being thoroughly sensible of the great
discouragement which trade hath suffered by the apprehensions of the
said coin, whereof we have already felt the dismal effects, and that the
currency thereof will inevitably tend to the great diminution of His
Majesty's revenue, and the ruin of us and our posterity: do present all
such persons as have attempted, or shall endeavour by fraud or
otherwise, to impose the said halfpence upon us, contrary to His
Majesty's most gracious intentions, as enemies to His Majesty's
government, and to the safety, peace and welfare of all His Majesty's
subjects of this kingdom, whose affections have been so eminently
distinguished by their zeal to his illustrious family, before his happy
accession to the throne, and by their continued loyalty ever since.

As we do with all just gratitude acknowledge the services of all such
patriots, as have been eminently zealous for the interest of His
Majesty, and this country, in detecting the fraudulent impositions of
the said Wood, and preventing the passing his base coin: So we do at the
same time declare our abhorrence and detestation of all reflections on
His Majesty, and his government, and that we are ready with our lives
and fortunes to defend his most Sacred Majesty against the Pretender and
all His Majesty's open and secret enemies both at home and abroad: Given
under our hands at the Grand Jury Chamber this 28th, November, 1724.[2]

George Forbes,             David Tew,
William Empson,            Thomas How,
Nathaniel Pearson,         John Jones,
Joseph Nuttall,            James Brown,
William Aston,             Charles Lyndon,
Stearn Tighe,              Jerom Bredin,
Richard Walker,            John Sican,
Edmond French,             Anthony Brunton,
John Vereilles,            Thomas Gaven,
Philip Pearson,            Daniel Elwood,
Thomas Robins,             John Brunet.
Richard Dawson,

[Footnote 2: On August 20th, 1724, the Grand Jury, and the other
inhabitants of the Liberty of the Dean and Chapter of St. Patrick's
waited on the Dean, and read him the following Declaration, desiring him
to give orders for its publication:

"The Declaration of the Grand-Jury, and the rest of the inhabitants of
the Liberty of the Dean and Chapter of St. Patrick's, Dublin.

"We, the Grand-Jury, and other inhabitants of the Liberty of the Dean
and Chapter of St. Patrick's, Dublin, whose names are underwritten, do
unanimously declare and determine, that we never will receive or pay any
of the half-pence or farthings already coined, or that shall hereafter
be coined, by one William Wood, being not obliged by law to receive the
same; because we are thoroughly convinced by the Addresses of both
Houses of Parliament, as well as by that of his Majesty's most
honourable Privy-Council, and by the universal opinion of the whole
kingdom, that the currency of the said half-pence and farthings would
soon deprive us of all our gold and silver, and therefore be of the most
destructive consequence to the trade and welfare of the nation." [T.



"_Oct. 27th,_ 1724.

"A proclamation for discovering ye Author of ye Pamphlet intituled A
letter to ye whole people of Ireland, by M.B. Drapier, author of the
Letter to the Shop-keepers, etc.

£300 Reward


A Proclamation.


"Whereas a wicked and malicious pamphlet, intituled A Letter to the
whole people of Ireland, by M.B. Drapier, author of the Letter to the
Shop-keepers, etc., printed by John Harding, in Molesworth's Court, in
Fishamble Street, Dublin, in which are contained several seditious and
scandalous paragraphs highly reflecting upon his Majesty and his
Ministers, tending to alienate the affections of his good subjects of
England and Ireland from each other, and to promote sedition among the
people, hath been lately printed and published in this kingdom: We, the
Lord-Lieutenant and Council do hereby publish and declare that, in order
to discover the author of the said seditious pamphlet, we will give the
necessary orders for the payment of three hundred pounds sterling, to
such person or persons as shall within the specified six months from
this date hereof, discover the author of the said pamphlet, so as he be
apprehended and convicted thereby.

"Given at the council chamber in Dublin, this twenty-seventh day of
October, one thousand seven hundred and twenty-four.

"(Signed) Midleton _Cancer_. Shannon; Donnerail; G. Fforbes; H. Meath;
Santry; Tyrawly; Fferrars; William Conolly; Ralph Gore; William
Whitshed; B. Hale; Gust. Hume; Ben Parry; James Tynte; R. Tighe; T.

"God Save the King."


It is very interesting and even curious to note, that the signatories to
the public expression of their attitude towards Wood and his patent, as
shown by the Proclamation, should have almost all of them signed another
document, in their capacities of Privy Councillors, which addressed his
Majesty _against_ Wood and the patent. So far as I can learn, Monck
Mason seems to have been the first historian to discover it; nor do I
find the fact mentioned by any of Swift's later biographers.

"It was rumoured in Swift's time," says Monck Mason, "but not actually
known to him" (see Drapier's Sixth Letter), "that the Irish Privy
Council had addressed his Majesty against Mr. Wood's coin. Having
inspected the papers of the Council office, I shall lay before the
reader the particulars of this event, which were never promulgated,
probably, because they had not the desired effect, the premier [Walpole]
having determined, notwithstanding all opposition or advice, to
persevere in his ill-judged project.

"On the 17th April, 1724, at a meeting of the Council, in which the Duke
of Grafton himself presided, it was ordered, that it should be referred
to a committee of the whole board, or of any seven or more, 'to consider
what was proper to be done to allay and quiet the great fears of the
people, occasioned by their apprehensions of William Wood's copper money
becoming current among them,' On the 6th of May, the committee reported,
that they had considered the matter referred to them, and were of
opinion, that an address should be sent to his Majesty, of which they
then presented a draught. It was again on the 19th, referred to a
committee of the whole board to prepare a letter, which was accordingly
done on the next day.--The report was as follows:

"'To the King's Most Excellent Majesty, the humble address of the Lords
Justices, and Privy-Council.

       *       *       *       *       *

"'May it please your Majesty,

"'We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Justices
and Privy Council, most humbly beg leave, at this time, to give an
instance of that duty, which, as upon all other occasions, so more
especially upon such as are of the greatest moment and importance, we
hold ourselves always bound to pay to your Majesty.

"'Your Majesty's great council, the High Court of Parliament, being now
prorogued, we conceive ourselves bound, by the trust which your Majesty
has been pleased to repose in us, and the oaths we have taken, with all
humility to lay before your Majesty the present state of this your
kingdom, with reference to a great evil that appears to threaten it, to
which, if a speedy remedy be not applied, the unavoidable consequence,
as we apprehend, will be, the ruin of multitudes of your Majesty's
subjects, together with a great diminution of your revenue.

"'Though the fears of your Majesty's subjects of this kingdom, in
relation to the coinage of copper half-pence and farthings, were, in a
great measure, allayed by your Majesty's most gracious resolution to do
every thing in your power for the satisfaction of your people, expressed
in your Majesty's answer to the addresses of both Houses of Parliament;
yet, the repeated intelligence from Great Britain, that William Wood has
the assurance to persist in his endeavours to introduce his copper
half-pence and farthings amongst us, has again alarmed your faithful
subjects, to such a degree, as already to give a great check to our
inland trade. If the letters patent granted to William Wood should, in
all points, be exactly complied with, the loss to be sustained by taking
his half-pence and farthings would be much greater than this poor
kingdom is able to bear. But if he, or any other persons, should, for
the value of gain, be tempted to coin and import even more than double
the quantity he by his patent is allowed to do, your people here do not
see how it is possible for your Majesty's chief governors of this your
kingdom, to detect or hinder the cheat.

"'It is found by experience, that we have already a sufficient quantity
of half-pence, to serve by way of exchange in the retailing trade, which
is the only use of such sort of money, of which, therefore, we find
ourselves to be in no want.

"'And since, by the letters patent granted to the same William Wood, no
man is required or commanded to take the said half-pence or farthings,
but the taking them is left at liberty to those who are willing so to
do; we most humbly submit it to your royal wisdom and goodness, whether
it may not be for your Majesty's service, and the great satisfaction and
good of your subjects, and very much tend to the allaying and quieting
of their fears, that your Majesty should cause your royal pleasure to be
signified to the Commissioners, and other officers of your Majesty's
revenue in this kingdom, that they neither receive those half-pence and
farthings, nor give countenance or encouragement to the uttering or
vending of them; or that some other speedy method may be taken to
prevent their becoming current amongst us.'"


Searching among the pamphlets of the Halliday Collection at the Royal
Irish Academy, Dublin, I came across a tract of twelve pages, printed by
John Whaley of Dublin in 1723, with the following title:

"The Patentee's Computation of Ireland, in a Letter from the Author of
the Whitehall Evening-Post concerning the making of Copper-Coin. As also
the Case and Address of both Houses of Parliament together with His
Majesty's Most Gracious Answer to the House of Lords Address."

The writer of this tract in defence of the patent maintained the
following propositions:

(1) That the Kingdom of Ireland wants a Copper Coin.

(2) That the quantity of this coin will be no inconvenience to it.

(3) That it is better than ever the Kingdom had, and as good as (in all
probability) they ever will or can have, and that the Patentee's profit
is not extravagant, as commonly reported.

(4) That the Kingdom will lose nothing by this coin.

(5) That the public in Ireland will gain considerably by it, if they

(6) That the Kingdom will have £100,000 additional cash.

As he states his arguments, they are quite reasonable. On proposition
three, if his figures are correct, he is especially convincing. He
details the cost of manufacture thus:

                                                     _s.  d._
Copper prepared for the coinage at his Majesty's
  Mint at the Tower of London, costs per pound
  weight                                              1   6

Coinage of one pound weight                               3-1/2

Waste and charge of re-melting                            1

Yearly payment to the Exchequer and Comptroller           1

Allowed to the purchaser for exchange, &c.                5

                                  Total charge        2   4-1/2

"So that the patentee," he concludes, "makes a profit of only 1-1/2_d._
in the half crown or about 5%."

The tract, however, is more interesting for the reprint it gives of the
twenty-eight articles stated by the people in objection to the patent
and the coin. I give these articles in full:



Whereas your Honours finding the late Grant or Letters Patents obtained
by Mr. William Wood, for making Three Hundred and Sixty Tun weight of
copper half-pence for the Kingdom of Ireland, were to be manufactured in
London &c. which money is now coining in Bristol, and that the said
money was to weigh two shillings and sixpence in each pound weight, and
that change was to be uttered or passed for all such as were pleased to
take the same in this Kingdom.

That it's humbly conceived Your Honours on considering the following
Remarks, will find the permitting such change to pass, exceeding
Injurious and Destructive to the Nation.

First. That the same will be a means to drain this Kingdom of all its
Gold and Silver, and ten, fifteen, or twenty per cent abated, will most
effectually do the same.

2d. That the making such money in England will give great room for
counterfeiting that coin, as well in this Kingdom, as where it is made.

3d. That the Copper Mines of this Island which might be manufactured in
the nation, is by management shipped off to England by some persons at,
or about forty shillings per tun, by others at four pounds and six
pounds per ton, which copper when smelted and refined is sold and sent
back to this kingdom at two shillings and six pence per pound weight as
aforesaid, which is two hundred and eighty pound sterl. per ton.

4th. That two shillings and sixpence per pound weight is making the said
coin of very small value, the said coin ought not to weigh or exceed two
shillings in each pound weight as the English Halfpence are.

5th. That all such money brought to this Nation manufactured, is to be
entered at value, which value is in the Book of Rates, ten per cent duty
and excise.

6th. That no security is given to this Nation to make such money in any
one point, the same may be found defective in either, as to baseness of
metal, workmanship or weight, or to give gold and silver for the same,
when the subject was, or may be burthened therewith.

7th. That if such monies as aforesaid be permitted to pass in this
nation, all persons that have gold or silver by them would not part
therewith, but Brass money must be carried from House to House on
Truckles, and in the county by carts and horses, with troops to guard

8th. That such money will raise the price of all commodities from
abroad, probably to three or four hundred per cent.

9th. That linen, yarn, beef, butter, tallow, hides and all other
commodities, will raise to that degree by being bought with half-pence,
and workmen paid with brass money, that commissions from abroad will not
reach them, therefore such goods must lie on hands and remain a drugg.

10th. That the excise of beer, ale, brandy, &c., and hearth-money will
be paid in such coin, the same falling first into the hands of the poor
and middling people.

11th. That if any trouble should happen in this nation, no army could be
raised with such specie, but an enemy in all appearance would be
admitted with their gold and silver, and which would drive the nation
before them.

12th. The Courts of Law could not subsist, for all the suits there must
be supported and maintained with ready money. Viz. Gold and Silver.

13th. That all the bankers must shut up their shops, no lodgment would
be made except Halfpence, such as would lodge their money with them,
would rather draw off and cause a run on them, fearing that their specie
should be turned into the said brass and copper money.

14th. That such bills as are drawn to the country, viz. Cork, Limerick,
Waterford, Kingsale, Deny, &c. The Exchange would be instead of a
quarter per cent, twenty per cent and then paid in the said Brass
specie, by means of its being brought on cars, carts, or waggons, and
guards to attend the same.

15th. That all the rent in the Kingdom would be paid in half-pence; no
man would give gold or silver, when he had brass money to pay the same.

16th. That no one can coin or manufacture such a quantity of halfpence
or farthings for this Kingdom, out of the same, but either he must be
ruined in the undertaking or the nation undone by his project, in taking
such light money, by reason of ten per cent, duty, and probably this
session be made twenty or thirty per cent duty, and the exchange nine or
ten per cent. Ten per cent abated to circulate them. Ten per cent
factorage, freight, gabberage, key-porters, &c. all which is forty per
cent, charged on the same.

17th. That if the said Wood was obliged to make his light money not to
exceed two shillings in the pound weight according to the English coin,
he would give up such grant, for six pence in each pound weight is 25
per cent.

18th. That the said twenty-five per cent is 19,360_l._ sterl. on the
said 360 ton of copper, loss to this nation, by being coined out of this
Kingdom, besides 80,690_l._ of gold and silver sent out of the Kingdom
for brass or copper money.

19th. That the copper mines of this Kingdom is believed to be the metal
such copper is made of, which verifies the English saying, That Irish
people are wild, that would part with 200,000_l._ sterl. of their gold
and silver, for their own copper mines, which cost them not one pound

20th. That the said Wood's factors probably may send in fourteen years
double the quantity of copper which is 720 ton, then this Kingdom loses
38,720_l._ sterl. and parts with 161,280_l._ sterl. of their gold and
silver for almost nothing.

21st. If any great sum was to be raised by this nation, on any emergency
extraordinary, to serve his Majesty and his Kingdom how would it be
possible to do the same; copper half-pence would not stem the tide, no
silver now to be had of value, then no gold to be seen.

22d. That England also must be a great loser by such money, by reason
the said half-pence being from 20 to 40 grains lighter and less in value
than their own, so that the same will not pass in that Kingdom scarce
for farthings a piece, how then shall the vast quantities of goods be
paid for, that are brought from that Kingdom here, a considerable part
of this island must be broke and run away for want of silver and gold to
pay them their debts.

23d. That if the said Wood should get all that money, what power would
he regard, and what temptation would he be subject unto on that head, he
is but a man, and one almost as little known or heard of, as any one
subject the king has on this side the water.

24th. That the vast quantity of sea-coal brought from England here,
would not be had for such money; the colliers will keep both their ships
and coal at home, before they trade with such a nation, as had their
treasure turned into brass money.

25th. That the Army must be paid with such money, none else to be had,
they would lay down their arms and do no duty, what blood and confusion
then would attend the same.

26th. That no people out of any other Kingdom would come into this
country to dwell, either to plant or sow, where all their money must be

27th. That the beautiful Quay and river of Dublin which is now lined and
filled with ships in a most delightful order, would then be scattered to
other harbours, as also the new Range, there and now a building, would
be left, nothing but empty places all as doleful as the weeping river,
deserted by her fleets and armies of merchants and traders.

28th. That the aforesaid scheme is to be viewed and considered by a
King and Parliament, that will do themselves and their nation justice,
who will with hearts and hands, stem that tide and current, as never to
suffer so dutiful and loyal a people to be ruined and undone without



The following descriptions of the various varieties of Wood's coins,
taken from a note in Monck Mason's "History of St. Patrick's Cathedral"
(ed. 1819, pp. xcvi-xcvii), may be interesting to the student. The two
varieties of the coins given as illustrations in this volume are
reproduced from specimens in the British Museum.

Monck Mason obtains his information from Simon's "Essay on Irish Coins,"
Dublin, 1749, 4to; Snelling's Supplement to Simon issued in 1767; and
the edition of Simon's work reprinted in 1810.

With the exception of No. II. of this list all of Wood's coins had, on
one side, "the king's head laureat, looking to the left, with this
inscription, GEORGIUS, DEI GRATIA, REX. On the reverse is the figure of
Ireland, represented by a woman sitting, beside her, a harp: the
differences consist chiefly, in variations in the attitude of the
figure, and in the date of the coin."

No. I. 1722.--Hibernia, with both her hands on the harp, which is placed
on her right side; her figure is full front, but she looks towards the
right; round her this inscription, HIBERNIA, 1722. (Simon, plate 7,
Numb. 160)

No. II. 1722.--Hibernia is seated as in the last, but has her head
turned to the left, on which side there is a rock; round her is
inscribed, HIBERNIA; in the exergue, 1722; on the obverse the usual
head, the inscription, GEORGIUS D.G. REX. (Snelling, plate 2, Numb. 24.)

No. III. 1722.--Hibernia, in profile, looking to the left, holding, in
her right hand, a palm branch, resting her left on a harp; round it,
HIBERNIA, 1722. (Simon, plate 7, Numb. 161.)

No. IV. 1723.--Hibernia, as in the last; round her, HIBERNIA, 1723.
(Simon, plate 8, Numb. 169.)

It was some of this coin that was submitted to Sir Isaac Newton for

No. V. 1724.--Hibernia, as in the last two, differing only in the date.
(Mentioned by Simon, but no engraving given.)

No, VI. 1724.--Hibernia, seated as in the three preceding; round her,
HIBERNIA: in the exergue, 1724. (Snelling, plate 2, Numb. 26.)

Mason notes of this specimen: "Mr. Snelling does not specify,
particularly, in what respect this coin differs from those which
precede; his words are, 'different from any other, and very good work,
especially the halfpenny, which is the finest and broadest piece of his
money I ever saw, and belongs to Mr. Bartlet.' They do not, however,
appear to have attained to circulation in Ireland. A few might, perhaps,
have been struck off by the patentee, to distribute among his own, and
the minister's friends."

No. VII.--Mr. Snelling mentions, "another halfpenny, which has Hibernia
pointing up with one hand to a sun in the top of the piece"; but of this
he has not given any engraving.


Addison, made keeper of the records of Bermingham's Tower
Armstrong, Sir Thomas, granted a patent to  coin farthings in Ireland
Armstrong, Sir William, granted a patent to coin halfpence in Ireland

Bacon, Lord, on the Royal prerogative, quoted
Berkeley, Lord, of Stratton, Master of the Rolls
Bingham, John
Bodin, Jean
Boulter, Archbishop
Brodrick, St. John, made a Privy Councillor
Brown, John
Burlington, Earl of, Lord High Treasurer of Ireland

Carteret, Lord,
  attempts to injure Walpole's reputation by means of the Wood agitation
  made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
  takes Walpole's side
  character of
  Swift's letters to
  his relations with Walpole
Charles I., paid his troops with debased coin
Coinage, the law with reference to
  _See_ Wood's Coinage
Coke,  Sir Edward, on the laws regarding coinage
Conolly, William, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons
Coxe, Archdeacon, his account of the agitation in Ireland
"Creed of an Irish Commoner, A"
Crowley, Sir Ambrose

Dartmouth, Lord, granted a patent to coin halfpence in Ireland
Davies, Sir John, his "Abridgement of Coke's Reports"
"Defence of the Conduct of the People of Ireland, A," quoted
Doddington, Bubb
Drapier, the, his account of himself
  proclamation against
Dublin, petition of the Lord Mayor, sheriffs and citizens of
Dutch, the, counterfeited debased coinage of Ireland

Elizabeth, Queen, her army paid with base coin
  base money sent to Ireland by
Ewing, George, "Defence of the Conduct of the People of
  Ireland" published by

Filmer, Sir Robert
France, system of re coinage in

George I., equestrian statue of, in Dublin
Grafton, Duke of, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
  not concerned with Wood's patent

Harding, John, arrest and prosecution of
Harley, Robert, Earl of Oxford, Swift's tribute to
Holt, Sir John

Hopkins, Right Hon. Edward, secretary to the Lord Lieutenant
  made Master of the Revels
Hopkins, John

Ireland, want of small change in
  patents granted for coining in
  relations between England and
  petitions for establishment of a mint in
  computed population of
  copper money not wanted in
  not a "depending kingdom,"
  English contempt for
  loyalty of
  a free country
  project for a bank in
  England's profit from
  the absentees of
  absence of faction in
  Charter schools founded in
  needed reforms in
  _See also_ Wood's Coinage.

James II., debased the coinage in Ireland

Kendal, Duchess of, sold Wood his patent for £10,000
King, Archbishop, letters to Southwell quoted
  letter to General George
  refused to condemn the Drapier
  letter to Molyneux on the proclamation against the Drapier's 4th letter
Knox, John, his patent to coin halfpence
  comparison of his patent with Wood's

Legg, Colonel George. _See_ Dartmouth, Lord.
Leti, Signor
Lindsay, Robert

Marsh; Bishop, Charter schools founded by
Midleton, Chancellor, and Walpole
  Swift's letter to
  opposed to Wood's patent
  but signed the Proclamation against the Drapier
  account of
"Mirror of Justice, The,"
Molesworth, Viscount, letter to
  account of
Molyneux, William
Moore, Colonel Roger, patent to coin halfpence sold to

Newton, Sir Isaac, Wood's coinage assayed by

Palmerston, Lord, Chief Remembrancer
Pembroke, Earl of, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland
Philips, Ambrose, secretary to Archbishop Boulter
Phipps, Sir Constantine
Poyning's Law
Precedents, Swift on
Prior, Thomas, his "List of the Absentees of Ireland"
Privy Council, Report of the, on Wood's coinage
  and _see_ Letters II. and III.
Privy Council, the Irish, Report of, on Wood's coinage
"Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufactures, A"

Rooke, Admiral Sir George
Royal Prerogative, the

Scotland, power of coining in
Scroggs, Sir William, Lord Chief Justice
Scroope, Thomas, one of the assayists of Wood's coinage
"Seasonable Advice to the Grand Jury,"
  effect of
Sedley, Sir Charles
Sheridan, Thomas, probably the author of "Tom Punsibus Dream"
Sidney, Algernon
Somers, Lord
Southwell, Edward, one of the assayists of Wood's coinage
  King's letters to
  Secretary of State
Sunderland, Earl of
Swift, Jonathan, his aims in writing the Drapier's letters
  his letter to Midleton
  acclaimed the saviour of his country
  his sermon on "Doing Good"
  idolized in Ireland

Trench, W., memorial of, with reference to the copper coinage
"Tom Punsibi's Dream"
Tyrone's rebellion

Walpole, Sir Robert, his conduct in the matter of Wood's patent
  said to have been the author of the Report of the Privy Council
  his Irish policy
  Wood's reliance on
  exonerated by the Drapier
Whitshed, Chief Justice, dissolves the Grand Jury in the case against
  his motto
  letters to
William, King, pewter halfpence coined by
Wood, William, terms of the patent granted to
  account of
  his indiscreet boasts
  stories of
  his profit considered
  his patent obtained clandestinely
  his patent compared with Knox's
  pamphlets published in London in favor of
  his reliance on Walpole
  his patent ended
  a pension given to
Wood's coinage, letters of the Revenue Commissioners regarding
  resolutions of the Irish Houses of Parliament on
  report of the Committee of the Privy Council on
  and Letters II and III.
  value of
  refused by the merchants at the ports
  no one obliged to take it
  assay of, at the mint
  baseness of
  the revenue officers ordered to pass it
  popular indignation against
  the matter summed up
  end of the agitation concerning
  addresses to the King concerning
  presentment of the Grand Jury on
  description of the various specimens of

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