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Title: An Essay Upon Projects
Author: Defoe, Daniel
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "An Essay Upon Projects" ***

Transcribed from the 1887 Cassell & Company by David Price, email

                          [Picture: Book cover]

                       CASSELL’S NATIONAL LIBRARY.

                                * * * * *

                           ESSAY UPON PROJECTS.

                                * * * * *

                              DANIEL DEFOE.

                      [Picture: Decorative graphic]

                       CASSELL & COMPANY, Limited:
                _LONDON_, _PARIS_, _NEW YORK & MELBOURNE_.


DEFOE’S “Essay on Projects” was the first volume he published, and no
great writer ever published a first book more characteristic in
expression of his tone of thought.  It is practical in the highest
degree, while running over with fresh speculation that seeks everywhere
the well-being of society by growth of material and moral power.  There
is a wonderful fertility of mind, and almost whimsical precision of
detail, with good sense and good humour to form the groundwork of a happy
English style.  Defoe in this book ran again and again into sound
suggestions that first came to be realised long after he was dead.  Upon
one subject, indeed, the education of women, we have only just now caught
him up.  Defoe wrote the book in 1692 or 1693, when his age was a year or
two over thirty, and he published it in 1697.

Defoe was the son of James Foe, of St. Giles’s, Cripplegate, whose family
had owned grazing land in the country, and who himself throve as a meat
salesman in London.  James Foe went to Cripplegate Church, where the
minister was Dr. Annesley.  But in 1662, a year after the birth of Daniel
Foe, Dr. Annesley was one of the three thousand clergymen who were driven
out of their benefices by the Act of Uniformity.  James Foe was then one
of the congregation that followed him into exile, and looked up to him as
spiritual guide when he was able to open a meeting-house in Little St.
Helen’s.  Thus Daniel Foe, not yet De Foe, was trained under the
influence of Dr. Annesley, and by his advice sent to the Academy at
Newington Green, where Charles Morton, a good Oxford scholar, trained
young men for the pulpits of the Nonconformists.  In later days, when
driven to America by the persecution of opinion, Morton became
Vice-President of Harvard College.  Charles Morton sought to include in
his teaching at Newington Green a training in such knowledge of current
history as would show his boys the origin and meaning of the
controversies of the day in which, as men, they might hereafter take
their part.  He took pains, also, to train them in the use of English.
“We were not,” Defoe said afterwards, “destitute of language, but we were
made masters of English; and more of us excelled in that particular than
of any school at that time.”

Daniel Foe did not pass on into the ministry for which he had been
trained.  He said afterwards, in his “Review,” “It was my disaster first
to be set apart for, and then to be set apart from, the honour of that
sacred employ.”  At the age of about nineteen he went into business as a
hose factor in Freeman’s Court, Cornhill.  He may have bought succession
to a business, or sought to make one in a way of life that required no
capital.  He acted simply as broker between the manufacturer and the
retailer.  He remained at the business in Freeman’s Court for seven
years, subject to political distractions.  In 1683, still in the reign of
Charles the Second, Daniel Foe, aged twenty-two, published a pamphlet
called “Presbytery Roughdrawn.”  Charles died on the 6th of February,
1685.  On the 14th of the next June the Duke of Monmouth landed at Lyme
with eighty-three followers, hoping that Englishmen enough would flock
about his standard to overthrow the Government of James the Second, for
whose exclusion, as a Roman Catholic, from the succession to the throne
there had been so long a struggle in his brother’s reign.  Daniel Foe
took leave of absence from his business in Freeman’s Court, joined
Monmouth, and shared the defeat at Sedgmoor on the 6th of July.  Judge
Jeffreys then made progress through the West, and Daniel Foe escaped from
his clutches.  On the 15th of July Monmouth was executed.  Daniel Foe
found it convenient at that time to pay personal attention to some
business affairs in Spain.  His name suggests an English reading of a
Spanish name, Foà, and more than once in his life there are indications
of friends in Spain about whom we know nothing.  Daniel Foe went to Spain
in the time of danger to his life, for taking part in the rebellion of
the Duke of Monmouth, and when he came back he wrote himself De Foe.  He
may have heard pedigree discussed among his Spanish friends; he may have
wished to avoid drawing attention to a name entered under the letter F in
a list of rebels.  He may have played on the distinction between himself
and his father, still living, that one was Mr. Foe, the other Mr. D. Foe.
He may have meant to write much, and wishing to be a friend to his
country, meant also to deprive punsters of the opportunity of calling him
a Foe.  Whatever his chief reason for the change, we may be sure that it
was practical.

In April, 1687, James the Second issued a Declaration for Liberty of
Conscience in England, by which he suspended penal laws against all Roman
Catholics and Nonconformists, and dispensed with oaths and tests
established by the law.  This was a stretch of the king’s prerogative
that produced results immediately welcome to the Nonconformists, who sent
up addresses of thanks.  Defoe saw clearly that a king who is thanked for
overruling an unwelcome law has the whole point conceded to him of right
to overrule the law.  In that sense he wrote, “A Letter containing some
Reflections on His Majesty’s Declaration for Liberty of Conscience,” to
warn the Nonconformists of the great mistake into which some were
falling.  “Was ever anything,” he asked afterwards, “more absurd than
this conduct of King James and his party, in wheedling the Dissenters;
giving them liberty of conscience by his own arbitrary dispensing
authority, and his expecting they should be content with their religious
liberty at the price of the Constitution?”  In the letter itself he
pointed out that “the king’s suspending of laws strikes at the root of
this whole Government, and subverts it quite.  The Lords and Commons have
such a share in it, that no law can be either made, repealed, or, which
is all one, suspended, but by their consent.”

In January, 1688, Defoe having inherited the freedom of the City of
London, took it up, and signed his name in the Chamberlain’s book, on the
26th of that month, without the “de,” “Daniel Foe.”  On the 5th of
November, 1688, there was another landing, that of William of Orange, in
Torbay, which threatened the government of James the Second.  Defoe again
rode out, met the army of William at Henley-on-Thames, and joined its
second line as a volunteer.  He was present when it was resolved, on the
13th of February, 1689, that the flight of James had been an abdication;
and he was one of the mounted citizens who formed a guard of honour when
William and Mary paid their first visit to Guildhall.

Defoe was at this time twenty-eight years old, married, and living in a
house at Tooting, where he had also been active in foundation of a
chapel.  From hose factor he had become merchant adventurer in trade with
Spain, and is said by one writer of his time to have been a “civet-cat
merchant.”  Failing then in some venture in 1692, he became bankrupt, and
had one vindictive creditor who, according to the law of those days, had
power to shut him in prison, and destroy all power of recovering his loss
and putting himself straight with the world.  Until his other creditors
had conquered that one enemy, and could give him freedom to earn money
again and pay his debts—when that time came he proved his sense of
honesty to much larger than the letter of the law—Defoe left London for
Bristol, and there kept out of the way of arrest.  He was visible only on
Sunday, and known, therefore, as “the Sunday Gentleman.”  His lodging was
at the Red Lion Inn, in Castle Street.  The house, no longer an inn,
still stands, as numbers 80 and 81 in that street.  There Defoe wrote
this “Essay on Projects.”  He was there until 1694, when he received
offers that would have settled him prosperously in business at Cadiz, but
he held by his country.  The cheek on free action was removed, and the
Government received with favour a project of his, which is not included
in the Essay, “for raising money to supply the occasions of the war then
newly begun.”  He had also a project for the raising of money to supply
his own occasions by the establishment of pantile works, which proved
successful.  Defoe could not be idle.  In a desert island he would, like
his Robinson Crusoe, have spent time, not in lamentation, but in steady
work to get away.

                                                                     H. M.


                          TO DALBY THOMAS, ESQ.,

_One of the Commission’s for Managing His majesty’s Duties on Glass_,


THIS preface comes directed to you, not as commissioner, &c., under whom
I have the honour to serve his Majesty, nor as a friend, though I have
great obligations of that sort also, but as the most proper judge of the
subjects treated of, and more capable than the greatest part of mankind
to distinguish and understand them.

Books are useful only to such whose genius are suitable to the subject of
them; and to dedicate a book of projects to a person who had never
concerned himself to think that way would be like music to one that has
no ear.

And yet your having a capacity to judge of these things no way brings you
under the despicable title of a projector, any more than knowing the
practices and subtleties of wicked men makes a man guilty of their

The several chapters of this book are the results of particular thoughts
occasioned by conversing with the public affairs during the present war
with France.  The losses and casualties which attend all trading nations
in the world, when involved in so cruel a war as this, have reached us
all, and I am none of the least sufferers; if this has put me, as well as
others, on inventions and projects, so much the subject of this book, it
is no more than a proof of the reason I give for the general projecting
humour of the nation.

One unhappiness I lie under in the following book, viz.: That having kept
the greatest part of it by me for near five years, several of the
thoughts seem to be hit by other hands, and some by the public, which
turns the tables upon me, as if I had borrowed from them.

As particularly that of the seamen, which you know well I had contrived
long before the Act for registering seamen was proposed.  And that of
educating women, which I think myself bound to declare, was formed long
before the book called “Advice to the Ladies” was made public; and yet I
do not write this to magnify my own invention, but to acquit myself from
grafting on other people’s thoughts.  If I have trespassed upon any
person in the world, it is upon yourself, from whom I had some of the
notions about county banks, and factories for goods, in the chapter of
banks; and yet I do not think that my proposal for the women or the
seamen clashes at all, either with that book, or the public method of
registering seamen.

I have been told since this was done that my proposal for a commission of
inquiries into bankrupt estates is borrowed from the Dutch; if there is
anything like it among the Dutch, it is more than ever I knew, or know
yet; but if so, I hope it is no objection against our having the same
here, especially if it be true that it would be so publicly beneficial as
is expressed.

What is said of friendly societies, I think no man will dispute with me,
since one has met with so much success already in the practice of it.  I
mean the Friendly Society for Widows, of which you have been pleased to
be a governor.

Friendly societies are very extensive, and, as I have hinted, might be
carried on to many particulars.  I have omitted one which was mentioned
in discourse with yourself, where a hundred tradesmen, all of several
trades, agree together to buy whatever they want of one another, and
nowhere else, prices and payments to be settled among themselves; whereby
every man is sure to have ninety-nine customers, and can never want a
trade; and I could have filled up the book with instances of like nature,
but I never designed to fire the reader with particulars.

The proposal of the pension office you will soon see offered to the
public as an attempt for the relief of the poor; which, if it meets with
encouragement, will every way answer all the great things I have said of

I had wrote a great many sheets about the coin, about bringing in plate
to the Mint, and about our standard; but so many great heads being upon
it, with some of whom my opinion does not agree, I would not adventure to
appear in print upon that subject.

Ways and means also I have laid by on the same score: only adhering to
this one point, that be it by taxing the wares they sell, be it by taxing
them in stock, be it by composition—which, by the way, I believe is the
best—be it by what way soever the Parliament please, the retailers are
the men who seem to call upon us to be taxed; if not by their own
extraordinary good circumstances, though that might bear it, yet by the
contrary in all other degrees of the kingdom.

Besides, the retailers are the only men who could pay it with least
damage, because it is in their power to levy it again upon their
customers in the prices of their goods, and is no more than paying a
higher rent for their shops.

The retailers of manufactures, especially so far as relates to the inland
trade, have never been taxed yet, and their wealth or number is not
easily calculated.  Trade and land has been handled roughly enough, and
these are the men who now lie as a reserve to carry on the burden of the

These are the men who, were the land tax collected as it should be, ought
to pay the king more than that whole Bill ever produced; and yet these
are the men who, I think I may venture to say, do not pay a twentieth
part in that Bill.

Should the king appoint a survey over the assessors, and indict all those
who were found faulty, allowing a reward to any discoverer of an
assessment made lower than the literal sense of the Act implies, what a
register of frauds and connivances would be found out!

In a general tax, if any should be excused, it should be the poor, who
are not able to pay, or at least are pinched in the necessary parts of
life by paying.  And yet here a poor labourer, who works for twelve pence
or eighteen pence a day, does not drink a pot of beer but pays the king a
tenth part for excise; and really pays more to the king’s taxes in a year
than a country shopkeeper, who is alderman of the town, worth perhaps two
or three thousand pounds, brews his own beer, pays no excise, and in the
land-tax is rated it may be at £100, and pays £1 4s. per annum, but
ought, if the Act were put in due execution, to pay £36 per annum to the

If I were to be asked how I would remedy this, I would answer, it should
be by some method in which every man may be taxed in the due proportion
to his estate, and the Act put in execution, according to the true intent
and meaning of it, in order to which a commission of assessment should be
granted to twelve men, such as his Majesty should be well satisfied of,
who should go through the whole kingdom, three in a body, and should make
a new assessment of personal estates, not to meddle with land.

To these assessors should all the old rates, parish books, poor rates,
and highway rates, also be delivered; and upon due inquiry to be made
into the manner of living, and reputed wealth of the people, the stock or
personal estate of every man should be assessed, without connivance; and
he who is reputed to be worth a thousand pounds should be taxed at a
thousand pounds, and so on; and he who was an overgrown rich tradesman of
twenty or thirty thousand pounds estate should be taxed so, and plain
English and plain dealing be practised indifferently throughout the
kingdom; tradesmen and landed men should have neighbours’ fare, as we
call it, and a rich man should not be passed by when a poor man pays.

We read of the inhabitants of Constantinople, that they suffered their
city to be lost for want of contributing in time for its defence, and
pleaded poverty to their generous emperor when he went from house to
house to persuade them; and yet when the Turks took it, the prodigious
immense wealth they found in it, made them wonder at the sordid temper of
the citizens.

England (with due exceptions to the Parliament, and the freedom wherewith
they have given to the public charge) is much like Constantinople; we are
involved in a dangerous, a chargeable, but withal a most just and
necessary war, and the richest and moneyed men in the kingdom plead
poverty; and the French, or King James, or the devil may come for them,
if they can but conceal their estates from the public notice, and get the
assessors to tax them at an under rate.

These are the men this commission would discover; and here they should
find men taxed at £500 stock who are worth £20,000.  Here they should
find a certain rich man near Hackney rated to-day in the tax-book at
£1,000 stock, and to-morrow offering £27,000 for an estate.

Here they should find Sir J— C— perhaps taxed to the king at £5,000
stock, perhaps not so much, whose cash no man can guess at; and
multitudes of instances I could give by name without wrong to the

And, not to run on in particulars, I affirm that in the land-tax ten
certain gentlemen in London put together did not pay for half so much
personal estate, called stock, as the poorest of them is reputed really
to possess.

I do not inquire at whose door this fraud must lie; it is none of my

I wish they would search into it whose power can punish it.  But this,
with submission, I presume to say: The king is thereby defrauded and
horribly abused, the true intent and meaning of Acts of Parliament
evaded, the nation involved in debt by fatal deficiencies and interests,
fellow-subjects abused, and new inventions for taxes occasioned.

The last chapter in this book is a proposal about entering all the seamen
in England into the king’s pay—a subject which deserves to be enlarged
into a book itself; and I have a little volume of calculations and
particulars by me on that head, but I thought them too long to publish.
In short, I am persuaded, was that method proposed to those gentlemen to
whom such things belong, the greatest sum of money might be raised by it,
with the least injury to those who pay it, that ever was or will be
during the war.

Projectors, they say, are generally to be taken with allowance of
one-half at least; they always have their mouths full of millions, and
talk big of their own proposals.  And therefore I have not exposed the
vast sums my calculations amount to; but I venture to say I could procure
a farm on such a proposal as this at three millions per annum, and give
very good security for payment—such an opinion I have of the value of
such a method; and when that is done, the nation would get three more by
paying it, which is very strange, but might easily be made out.

In the chapter of academies I have ventured to reprove the vicious custom
of swearing.  I shall make no apology for the fact, for no man ought to
be ashamed of exposing what all men ought to be ashamed of practising.
But methinks I stand corrected by my own laws a little, in forcing the
reader to repeat some of the worst of our vulgar imprecations, in reading
my thoughts against it; to which, however, I have this to reply:

First, I did not find it easy to express what I mean without putting down
the very words—at least, not so as to be very intelligible.

Secondly, why should words repeated only to expose the vice, taint the
reader more than a sermon preached against lewdness should the
assembly?—for of necessity it leads the hearer to the thoughts of the
fact.  But the morality of every action lies in the end; and if the
reader by ill-use renders himself guilty of the fact in reading, which I
designed to expose by writing, the fault is his, not mine.

I have endeavoured everywhere in this book to be as concise as possible,
except where calculations obliged me to be particular; and having avoided
impertinence in the book, I would avoid it too, in the preface, and
therefore shall break off with subscribing myself,


                    Your most obliged, humble servant

                                                                     D. F.


NECESSITY, which is allowed to be the mother of invention, has so
violently agitated the wits of men at this time that it seems not at all
improper, by way of distinction, to call it the Projecting Age.  For
though in times of war and public confusions the like humour of invention
has seemed to stir, yet, without being partial to the present, it is, I
think, no injury to say the past ages have never come up to the degree of
projecting and inventing, as it refers to matters of negotiation and
methods of civil polity, which we see this age arrived to.

Nor is it a hard matter to assign probable causes of the perfection in
this modern art.  I am not of their melancholy opinion who ascribe it to
the general poverty of the nation, since I believe it is easy to prove
the nation itself, taking it as one general stock, is not at all
diminished or impoverished by this long, this chargeable war, but, on the
contrary, was never richer since it was inhabited.

Nor am I absolutely of the opinion that we are so happy as to be wiser in
this age than our forefathers; though at the same time I must own some
parts of knowledge in science as well as art have received improvements
in this age altogether concealed from the former.

The art of war, which I take to be the highest perfection of human
knowledge, is a sufficient proof of what I say, especially in conducting
armies and in offensive engines.  Witness the now ways of rallies,
fougades, entrenchments, attacks, lodgments, and a long _et cetera_ of
new inventions which want names, practised in sieges and encampments;
witness the new forts of bombs and unheard-of mortars, of seven to ten
ton weight, with which our fleets, standing two or three miles off at
sea, can imitate God Almighty Himself and rain fire and brimstone out of
heaven, as it were, upon towns built on the firm land; witness also our
new-invented child of hell, the machine which carries thunder, lightning,
and earthquakes in its bowels, and tears up the most impregnable

But if I would search for a cause from whence it comes to pass that this
age swarms with such a multitude of projectors more than usual,
who—besides the innumerable conceptions, which die in the bringing forth,
and (like abortions of the brain) only come into the air and dissolve—do
really every day produce new contrivances, engines, and projects to get
money, never before thought of; if, I say, I would examine whence this
comes to pass, it must be thus:

The losses and depredations which this war brought with it at first were
exceeding many, suffered chiefly by the ill-conduct of merchants
themselves, who did not apprehend the danger to be really what it was:
for before our Admiralty could possibly settle convoys, cruisers, and
stations for men-of-war all over the world, the French covered the sea
with their privateers and took an incredible number of our ships.  I have
heard the loss computed, by those who pretended they were able to guess,
at above fifteen millions of pounds sterling, in ships and goods, in the
first two or three years of the war—a sum which, if put into French,
would make such a rumbling sound of great numbers as would fright a weak
accountant out of his belief, being no less than one hundred and ninety
millions of _livres_.  The weight of this loss fell chiefly on the
trading part of the nation, and, amongst them, on the merchants; and
amongst them, again, upon the most refined capacities, as the insurers,
&c.  And an incredible number of the best merchants in the kingdom sunk
under the load, as may appear a little by a Bill which once passed the
House of Commons for the relief of merchant-insurers, who had suffered by
the war with France.  If a great many fell, much greater were the number
of those who felt a sensible ebb of their fortunes, and with difficulty
bore up under the loss of great part of their estates.  These, prompted
by necessity, rack their wits for new contrivances, new inventions, new
trades, stocks, projects, and anything to retrieve the desperate credit
of their fortunes.  That this is probable to be the cause will appear
further thus.  France (though I do not believe all the great outcries we
make of their misery and distress—if one-half of which be true, they are
certainly the best subjects in the world) yet without question has felt
its share of the losses and damages of the war; but the poverty there
falling chiefly on the poorer sort of people, they have not been so
fruitful in inventions and practices of this nature, their genius being
quite of another strain.  As for the gentry and more capable sort, the
first thing a Frenchman flies to in his distress is the army; and he
seldom comes back from thence to get an estate by painful industry, but
either has his brains knocked out or makes his fortune there.

If industry be in any business rewarded with success it is in the
merchandising part of the world, who indeed may more truly be said to
live by their wits than any people whatsoever.  All foreign negotiation,
though to some it is a plain road by the help of custom, yet is in its
beginning all project, contrivance, and invention.  Every new voyage the
merchant contrives is a project; and ships are sent from port to port, as
markets and merchandises differ, by the help of strange and universal
intelligence—wherein some are so exquisite, so swift, and so exact, that
a merchant sitting at home in his counting-house at once converses with
all parts of the known world.  This and travel make a true-bred merchant
the most intelligent man in the world, and consequently the most capable,
when urged by necessity, to contrive new ways to live.  And from hence, I
humbly conceive, may very properly be derived the projects, so much the
subject of the present discourse.  And to this sort of men it is easy to
trace the original of banks, stocks, stock-jobbing, assurances, friendly
societies, lotteries, and the like.

To this may be added the long annual inquiry in the House of Commons for
ways and means, which has been a particular movement to set all the heads
of the nation at work; and I appeal, with submission, to the gentlemen of
that honourable House, if the greatest part of all the ways and means out
of the common road of land taxes, polls, and the like, have not been
handed to them from the merchant, and in a great measure paid by them

However, I offer this but as an essay at the original of this prevailing
humour of the people; and as it is probable, so it is also possible to be
otherwise, which I submit to future demonstration.

Of the several ways this faculty of projecting have exerted itself, and
of the various methods, as the genius of the authors has inclined, I have
been a diligent observer and, in most, an unconcerned spectator, and
perhaps have some advantage from thence more easily to discover the _faux
pas_ of the actors.  If I have given an essay towards anything new, or
made discovery to advantage of any contrivance now on foot, all men are
at the liberty to make use of the improvement; if any fraud is
discovered, as now practised, it is without any particular reflection
upon parties or persons.

Projects of the nature I treat about are doubtless in general of public
advantage, as they tend to improvement of trade, and employment of the
poor, and the circulation and increase of the public stock of the
kingdom; but this is supposed of such as are built on the honest basis of
ingenuity and improvement, in which, though I will allow the author to
aim primarily at his own advantage, yet with the circumstances of public
benefit added.

Wherefore it is necessary to distinguish among the projects of the
present times between the honest and the dishonest.

There are, and that too many, fair pretences of fine discoveries, new
inventions, engines, and I know not what, which—being advanced in notion,
and talked up to great things to be performed when such and such sums of
money shall be advanced, and such and such engines are made—have raised
the fancies of credulous people to such a height that, merely on the
shadow of expectation, they have formed companies, chose committees,
appointed officers, shares, and books, raised great stocks, and cried up
an empty notion to that degree that people have been betrayed to part
with their money for shares in a new nothing; and when the inventors have
carried on the jest till they have sold all their own interest, they
leave the cloud to vanish of itself, and the poor purchasers to quarrel
with one another, and go to law about settlements, transferrings, and
some bone or other thrown among them by the subtlety of the author to lay
the blame of the miscarriage upon themselves.  Thus the shares at first
begin to fall by degrees, and happy is he that sells in time; till, like
brass money, it will go at last for nothing at all.  So have I seen
shares in joint-stocks, patents, engines, and undertakings, blown up by
the air of great words, and the name of some man of credit concerned, to
£100 for a five-hundredth part or share (some more), and at last dwindle
away till it has been stock-jobbed down to £10, £12, £9, £8 a share, and
at last no buyer (that is, in short, the fine new word for
nothing-worth), and many families ruined by the purchase.  If I should
name linen manufactures, saltpetre-works, copper mines, diving engines,
dipping, and the like, for instances of this, I should, I believe, do no
wrong to truth, or to some persons too visibly guilty.

I might go on upon this subject to expose the frauds and tricks of
stock-jobbers, engineers, patentees, committees, with those Exchange
mountebanks we very properly call brokers, but I have not gaul enough for
such a work; but as a general rule of caution to those who would not be
tricked out of their estates by such pretenders to new inventions, let
them observe that all such people who may be suspected of design have
assuredly this in their proposal: your money to the author must go before
the experiment.  And here I could give a very diverting history of a
patent-monger whose cully was nobody but myself, but I refer it to
another occasion.

But this is no reason why invention upon honest foundations and to fair
purposes should not be encouraged; no, nor why the author of any such
fair contrivances should not reap the harvest of his own ingenuity.  Our
Acts of Parliament for granting patents to first inventors for fourteen
years is a sufficient acknowledgment of the due regard which ought to be
had to such as find out anything which may be of public advantage; new
discoveries in trade, in arts and mysteries, of manufacturing goods, or
improvement of land, are without question of as great benefit as any
discoveries made in the works of nature by all the academies and royal
societies in the world.

There is, it is true, a great difference between new inventions and
projects, between improvement of manufactures or lands (which tend to the
immediate benefit of the public, and employing of the poor), and projects
framed by subtle heads with a sort of a _deceptio visus_ and legerdemain,
to bring people to run needless and unusual hazards: I grant it, and give
a due preference to the first.  And yet success has so sanctified some of
those other sorts of projects that it would be a kind of blasphemy
against fortune to disallow them.  Witness Sir William Phips’s voyage to
the wreck; it was a mere project; a lottery of a hundred thousand to one
odds; a hazard which, if it had failed, everybody would have been ashamed
to have owned themselves concerned in; a voyage that would have been as
much ridiculed as Don Quixote’s adventure upon the windmill.  Bless us!
that folks should go three thousand miles to angle in the open sea for
pieces of eight!  Why, they would have made ballads of it, and the
merchants would have said of every unlikely adventure, “It, was like
Phips’s wreck-voyage.”  But it had success, and who reflects upon the

   “Nothing’s so partial as the laws of fate,
   Erecting blockheads to suppress the great.
   Sir Francis Drake the Spanish plate-fleet won;
   He had been a pirate if he had got none.
   Sir Walter Raleigh strove, but missed the plate,
   And therefore died a traitor to the State.
   Endeavour bears a value more or less,
   Just as ’tis recommended by success:
   The lucky coxcomb ev’ry man will prize,
   And prosp’rous actions always pass for wise.”

However, this sort of projects comes under no reflection as to their
honesty, save that there is a kind of honesty a man owes to himself and
to his family that prohibits him throwing away his estate in
impracticable, improbable adventures; but still some hit, even of the
most unlikely, of which this was one of Sir William Phips, who brought
home a cargo of silver of near £200,000 sterling, in pieces of eight,
fished up out of the open sea, remote from any shore, from an old Spanish
ship which had been sunk above forty years.


WHEN I speak of writing a History of Projects, I do not mean either of
the introduction of, or continuing, necessary inventions, or the
improvement of arts and sciences before known, but a short account of
projects and projecting, as the word is allowed in the general
acceptation at this present time; and I need not go far back for the
original of the practice.

Invention of arts, with engines and handicraft instruments for their
improvement, requires a chronology as far back as the eldest son of Adam,
and has to this day afforded some new discovery in every age.

The building of the Ark by Noah, so far as you will allow it a human
work, was the first project I read of; and, no question, seemed so
ridiculous to the graver heads of that wise, though wicked, age that poor
Noah was sufficiently bantered for it: and, had he not been set on work
by a very peculiar direction from heaven, the good old man would
certainly have been laughed out of it as a most senseless ridiculous

The building of Babel was a right project; for indeed the true definition
of a project, according to modern acceptation, is, as is said before, a
vast undertaking, too big to be managed, and therefore likely enough to
come to nothing.  And yet, as great as they are, it is certainly true of
them all, even as the projectors propose: that, according to the old
tale, if so many eggs are hatched, there will be so many chickens, and
those chickens may lay so many eggs more, and those eggs produce so many
chickens more, and so on.  Thus it was most certainly true that if the
people of the Old World could have built a house up to heaven, they
should never be drowned again on earth, and they only had forgot to
measure the height; that is, as in other projects, it only miscarried, or
else it would have succeeded.

And yet, when all is done, that very building, and the incredible height
it was carried, is a demonstration of the vast knowledge of that infant
age of the world, who had no advantage of the experiments or invention of
any before themselves.

   “Thus when our fathers, touched with guilt,
   That huge stupendous staircase built;
   We mock, indeed, the fruitless enterprise
   (For fruitless actions seldom pass for wise),
   But were the mighty ruins left, they’d show
   To what degree that untaught age did know.”

I believe a very diverting account might be given of this, but I shall
not attempt it.  Some are apt to say with Solomon, “No new thing happens
under the sun; but what is, has been:” yet I make no question but some
considerable discovery has been made in these latter ages, and inventions
of human origin produced, which the world was ever without before, either
in whole or in part; and I refer only to two cardinal points, the use of
the loadstone at sea, and the use of gunpowder and guns: both which, as
to the inventing part, I believe the world owes as absolutely to those
particular ages as it does the working in brass and iron to Tubal Cain,
or the inventing of music to Jubal, his brother.  As to engines and
instruments for handicraftsmen, this age, I daresay, can show such as
never were so much as thought of, much less imitated before; for I do not
call that a real invention which has something before done like it—I
account that more properly an improvement.  For handicraft instruments, I
know none owes more to true genuine contrivance, without borrowing from
any former use, than a mechanic engine contrived in our time called a
knitting-frame, which, built with admirable symmetry, works really with a
very happy success, and may be observed by the curious to have a more
than ordinary composition; for which I refer to the engine itself, to be
seen in every stocking-weaver’s garret.

I shall trace the original of the projecting humour that now reigns no
farther back than the year 1680, dating its birth as a monster then,
though by times it had indeed something of life in the time of the late
civil war.  I allow, no age has been altogether without something of this
nature, and some very happy projects are left to us as a taste of their
success; as the water-houses for supplying of the city of London with
water, and, since that, the New River—both very considerable
undertakings, and perfect projects, adventured on the risk of success.
In the reign of King Charles I. infinite projects were set on foot for
raising money without a Parliament: oppressing by monopolies and privy
seals; but these are excluded our scheme as irregularities, for thus the
French are as fruitful in projects as we; and these are rather stratagems
than projects.  After the Fire of London the contrivance of an engine to
quench fires was a project the author was said to get well by, and we
have found to be very useful.  But about the year 1680 began the art and
mystery of projecting to creep into the world.  Prince Rupert, uncle to
King Charles II., gave great encouragement to that part of it that
respects engines and mechanical motions; and Bishop Wilkins added as much
of the theory to it as writing a book could do.  The prince has left us a
metal called by his name; and the first project upon that was, as I
remember, casting of guns of that metal and boring them—done both by a
peculiar method of his own, and which died with him, to the great loss of
the undertaker, who to that purpose had, with no small charge, erected a
water-mill at Hackney Marsh, known by the name of the Temple Mill, which
mill very happily performed all parts of the work; and I have seen some
of those guns on board the Royal Charles, a first-rate ship, being of a
reddish colour, different either from brass or copper.  I have heard some
reasons of state assigned why that project was not permitted to go
forward; but I omit them, because I have no good authority for them.
After this we saw a floating-machine, to be wrought with horses, for the
towing of great ships both against wind and tide; and another for the
raising of ballast, which, as unperforming engines, had the honour of
being made, exposed, tried, and laid by before the prince died.

If thus we introduce it into the world under the conduct of that prince,
when he died it was left a hopeless brat, and had hardly any hand to own
it, till the wreck-voyage before noted, performed so happily by Captain
Phips, afterwards Sir William, whose strange performance set a great many
heads on work to contrive something for themselves.  He was immediately
followed by my Lord Mordant, Sir John Narborough, and others from several
parts, whose success made them soon weary of the work.

The project of the Penny Post, so well known and still practised, I
cannot omit, nor the contriver, Mr. Dockwra, who has had the honour to
have the injury done him in that affair repaired in some measure by the
public justice of the Parliament.  And, the experiment proving it to be a
noble and useful design, the author must be remembered, wherever mention
is made of that affair, to his very great reputation.

It was, no question, a great hardship for a man to be master of so fine a
thought, that had both the essential ends of a project in it (public good
and private want), and that the public should reap the benefit and the
author be left out; the injustice of which, no doubt, discouraged many a
good design.  But since an alteration in public circumstances has
recovered the lost attribute of justice, the like is not to be feared.
And Mr. Dockwra has had the satisfaction to see the former injury
disowned, and an honourable return made, even by them who did not the
injury, in bare respect to his ingenuity.

A while before this several people, under the patronage of some great
persons, had engaged in planting of foreign colonies (as William Penn,
the Lord Shaftesbury, Dr. Cox, and others) in Pennsylvania, Carolina,
East and West Jersey, and the like places, which I do not call projects,
because it was only prosecuting what had been formerly begun.  But here
began the forming of public joint-stocks, which, together with the East
India, African, and Hudson’s Bay Companies, before established, begot a
new trade, which we call by a new name stock-jobbing, which was at first
only the simple occasional transferring of interest and shares from one
to another, as persons alienated their estates; but by the industry of
the Exchange brokers, who got the business into their hands, it became a
trade, and one perhaps managed with the greatest intrigue, artifice, and
trick that ever anything that appeared with a face of honesty could be
handled with; for while the brokers held the box, they made the whole
Exchange the gamesters, and raised and lowered the prices of stocks as
they pleased, and always had both buyers and sellers who stood ready
innocently to commit their money to the mercy of their mercenary tongues.
This upstart of a trade, having tasted the sweetness of success which
generally attends a novel proposal, introduces the illegitimate wandering
object I speak of, as a proper engine to find work for the brokers.  Thus
stock-jobbing nursed projecting, and projecting, in return, has very
diligently pimped for its foster-parent, till both are arrived to be
public grievances, and indeed are now almost grown scandalous.


MAN is the worst of all God’s creatures to shift for himself; no other
animal is ever starved to death; nature without has provided them both
food and clothes, and nature within has placed an instinct that never
fails to direct them to proper means for a supply; but man must either
work or starve, slave or die.  He has indeed reason given him to direct
him, and few who follow the dictates of that reason come to such unhappy
exigences; but when by the errors of a man’s youth he has reduced himself
to such a degree of distress as to be absolutely without three
things—money, friends, and health—he dies in a ditch, or in some worse
place, a hospital.

Ten thousand ways there are to bring a man to this, and but very few to
bring him out again.

Death is the universal deliverer, and therefore some who want courage to
bear what they see before them, hang themselves for fear; for certainly
self-destruction is the effect of cowardice in the highest extreme.

Others break the bounds of laws to satisfy that general law of nature,
and turn open thieves, house-breakers, highwaymen, clippers, coiners,
&c., till they run the length of the gallows, and get a deliverance the
nearest way at St. Tyburn.

Others, being masters of more cunning than their neighbours, turn their
thoughts to private methods of trick and cheat, a modern way of thieving
every jot as criminal, and in some degree worse than the other, by which
honest men are gulled with fair pretences to part from their money, and
then left to take their course with the author, who skulks behind the
curtain of a protection, or in the Mint or Friars, and bids defiance as
well to honesty as the law.

Others, yet urged by the same necessity, turn their thoughts to honest
invention, founded upon the platform of ingenuity and integrity.

These two last sorts are those we call projectors; and as there was
always more geese than swans, the number of the latter are very
inconsiderable in comparison of the former; and as the greater number
denominates the less, the just contempt we have of the former sort
bespatters the other, who, like cuckolds, bear the reproach of other
people’s crimes.

A mere projector, then, is a contemptible thing, driven by his own
desperate fortune to such a strait that he must be delivered by a
miracle, or starve; and when he has beat his brains for some such miracle
in vain, he finds no remedy but to paint up some bauble or other, as
players make puppets talk big, to show like a strange thing, and then cry
it up for a new invention, gets a patent for it, divides it into shares,
and they must be sold.  Ways and means are not wanting to swell the new
whim to a vast magnitude; thousands and hundreds of thousands are the
least of his discourse, and sometimes millions, till the ambition of some
honest coxcomb is wheedled to part with his money for it, and then
(_nascitur ridiculus mus_) the adventurer is left to carry on the
project, and the projector laughs at him.  The diver shall walk at the
bottom of the Thames, the saltpetre maker shall build Tom T—d’s pond into
houses, the engineers build models and windmills to draw water, till
funds are raised to carry it on by men who have more money than brains,
and then good-night patent and invention; the projector has done his
business and is gone.

But the honest projector is he who, having by fair and plain principles
of sense, honesty, and ingenuity brought any contrivance to a suitable
perfection, makes out what he pretends to, picks nobody’s pocket, puts
his project in execution, and contents himself with the real produce as
the profit of his invention.


BANKS, without question, if rightly managed are, or may be, of great
advantage, especially to a trading people, as the English are; and, among
many others, this is one particular case in which that benefit appears:
that they bring down the interest of money, and take from the goldsmiths,
scriveners, and others, who have command of running cash, their most
delicious trade of making advantage of the necessities of the merchant in
extravagant discounts and premiums for advance of money, when either
large customs or foreign remittances call for disbursements beyond his
common ability; for by the easiness of terms on which the merchant may
have money, he is encouraged to venture further in trade than otherwise
he would do.  Not but that there are other great advantages a Royal Bank
might procure in this kingdom, as has been seen in part by this; as
advancing money to the Exchequer upon Parliamentary funds and securities,
by which in time of a war our preparations for any expedition need not be
in danger of miscarriage for want of money, though the taxes raised be
not speedily paid, nor the Exchequer burthened with the excessive
interests paid in former reigns upon anticipations of the revenue; landed
men might be supplied with moneys upon securities on easier terms, which
would prevent the loss of multitudes of estates, now ruined and devoured
by insolent and merciless mortgagees, and the like.  But now we unhappily
see a Royal Bank established by Act of Parliament, and another with a
large fund upon the Orphans’ stock; and yet these advantages, or others,
which we expected, not answered, though the pretensions in both have not
been wanting at such time as they found it needful to introduce
themselves into public esteem, by giving out prints of what they were
rather able to do than really intended to practise.  So that our having
two banks at this time settled, and more erecting, has not yet been able
to reduce the interest of money, not because the nature and foundation of
their constitution does not tend towards it, but because, finding their
hands full of better business, they are wiser than by being slaves to old
obsolete proposals to lose the advantage of the great improvement they
can make of their stock.

This, however, does not at all reflect on the nature of a bank, nor of
the benefit it would be to the public trading part of the kingdom,
whatever it may seem to do on the practice of the present.  We find four
or five banks now in view to be settled.  I confess I expect no more from
those to come than we have found from the past, and I think I make no
broach on either my charity or good manners in saying so; and I reflect
not upon any of the banks that are or shall be established for not doing
what I mention, but for making such publications of what they would do.
I cannot think any man had expected the Royal Bank should lend money on
mortgages at 4 per cent. (nor was it much the better for them to make
publication they would do so from the beginning of January next after
their settlement), since to this day, as I am informed, they have not
lent one farthing in that manner.

Our banks are indeed nothing but so many goldsmiths’ shops, where the
credit being high (and the directors as high) people lodge their money;
and they—the directors, I mean—make their advantage of it.  If you lay it
at demand, they allow you nothing; if at time, 3 per cent.; and so would
any goldsmith in Lombard Street have done before.  But the very banks
themselves are so awkward in lending, so strict, so tedious, so
inquisitive, and withal so public in their taking securities, that men
who are anything tender won’t go to them; and so the easiness of
borrowing money, so much designed, is defeated.  For here is a private
interest to be made, though it be a public one; and, in short, it is only
a great trade carried on for the private gain of a few concerned in the
original stock; and though we are to hope for great things, because they
have promised them, yet they are all future that we know of.

And yet all this while a bank might be very beneficial to this kingdom;
and this might be so, if either their own ingenuity or public authority
would oblige them to take the public good into equal concern with their
private interest.

To explain what I mean; banks, being established by public authority,
ought also, as all public things are, to be under limitations and
restrictions from that authority; and those limitations being regulated
with a proper regard to the ease of trade in general, and the improvement
of the stock in particular, would make a bank a useful, profitable thing

First, a bank ought to be of a magnitude proportioned to the trade of the
country it is in, which this bank is so far from that it is no more to
the whole than the least goldsmith’s cash in Lombard Street is to the
bank, from whence it comes to pass that already more banks are
contriving.  And I question not but banks in London will ere long be as
frequent as lotteries; the consequence of which, in all probability, will
be the diminishing their reputation, or a civil war with one another.  It
is true, the Bank of England has a capital stock; but yet, was that stock
wholly clear of the public concern of the Government, it is not above a
fifth part of what would be necessary to manage the whole business of the
town—which it ought, though not to do, at least to be able to do.  And I
suppose I may venture to say above one-half of the stock of the present
bank is taken up in the affairs of the Exchequer.

I suppose nobody will take this discourse for an invective against the
Bank of England.  I believe it is a very good fund, a very useful one,
and a very profitable one.  It has been useful to the Government, and it
is profitable to the proprietors; and the establishing it at such a
juncture, when our enemies were making great boasts of our poverty and
want of money, was a particular glory to our nation, and the city in
particular.  That when the Paris Gazette informed the world that the
Parliament had indeed given the king grants for raising money in funds to
be paid in remote years, but money was so scarce that no anticipations
could be procured; that just then, besides three millions paid into the
Exchequer that spring on other taxes by way of advance, there was an
overplus-stock to be found of £1,200,000 sterling, or (to make it speak
French) of above fifteen millions, which was all paid voluntarily into
the Exchequer.  Besides this, I believe the present Bank of England has
been very useful to the Exchequer, and to supply the king with
remittances for the payment of the army in Flanders, which has also, by
the way, been very profitable to itself.  But still this bank is not of
that bulk that the business done here requires, nor is it able, with all
the stock it has, to procure the great proposed benefit, the lowering the
interest of money: whereas all foreign banks absolutely govern the
interest, both at Amsterdam, Genoa, and other places.  And this defect I
conceive the multiplicity of banks cannot supply, unless a perfect
understanding could be secured between them.

To remedy this defect, several methods might be proposed.  Some I shall
take the freedom to hint at:—

First, that the present bank increase their stock to at least five
millions sterling, to be settled as they are already, with some small
limitations to make the methods more beneficial.

Five millions sterling is an immense sum; to which add the credit of
their cash, which would supply them with all the overplus-money in the
town, and probably might amount to half as much more; and then the credit
of running bills, which by circulating would, no question, be an
equivalent to the other half: so that in stock, credit, and bank-bills
the balance of their cash would be always ten millions sterling—a sum
that everybody who can talk of does not understand.

But then to find business for all this stock, which, though it be a
strange thing to think of, is nevertheless easy when it comes to be
examined.  And first for the business; this bank should enlarge the
number of their directors, as they do of their stock, and should then
establish several sub-committees, composed of their own members, who
should have the directing of several offices relating to the distinct
sorts of business they referred to, to be overruled and governed by the
governor and directors in a body, but to have a conclusive power as to
contracts.  Of these there should be—

One office for loan of money for customs of goods, which by a plain
method might be so ordered that the merchant might with ease pay the
highest customs down, and so, by allowing the bank 4 per cent. advance,
be first sure to secure the £10 per cent. which the king allows for
prompt payment at the Custom House, and be also freed from the
troublesome work of finding bondsmen and securities for the money—which
has exposed many a man to the tyranny of extents, either for himself or
his friend, to his utter ruin, who under a more moderate prosecution had
been able to pay all his debts, and by this method has been torn to
pieces and disabled from making any tolerable proposal to his creditors.
This is a scene of large business, and would, in proportion, employ a
large cash, and it is the easiest thing in the world to make the bank the
paymaster of all the large customs, and yet the merchant have so
honourable a possession of his goods, as may be neither any diminution to
his reputation or any hindrance to their sale.

As, for example, suppose I have 100 hogsheads of tobacco to import, whose
customs by several duties come to £1,000, and want cash to clear them.  I
go with my bill of loading to the bank, who appoint their officer to
enter the goods and pay the duties, which goods, so entered by the bank,
shall give them title enough to any part, or the whole, without the
trouble of bills of sale, or conveyances, defeasances, and the like.  The
goods are carried to a warehouse at the waterside, where the merchant has
a free and public access to them, as if in his own warehouse and an
honourable liberty to sell and deliver either the whole (paying their
disburse) or a part without it, leaving but sufficient for the payment,
and out of that part delivered, either by notes under the hand of the
purchaser, or any other way, he may clear the same, without any
exactions, but of £4 per cent., and the rest are his own.

The ease this would bring to trade, the deliverance it would bring to the
merchants from the insults of goldsmiths, &c., and the honour it would
give to our management of public imposts, with the advantages to the
Custom House itself, and the utter destruction of extortion, would be
such as would give a due value to the bank, and make all mankind
acknowledge it to be a public good.  The grievance of exactions upon
merchants in this case is very great, and when I lay the blame on the
goldsmiths, because they are the principal people made use of in such
occasions, I include a great many other sorts of brokers and
money-jobbing artists, who all get a snip out of the merchant.  I myself
have known a goldsmith in Lombard Street lend a man £700 to pay the
customs of a hundred pipes of Spanish wines; the wines were made over to
him for security by bill of sale, and put into a cellar, of which the
goldsmith kept the key; the merchant was to pay £6 per cent. interest on
the bond, and to allow £10 percent. premium for advancing the money.
When he had the wines in possession the owner could not send his cooper
to look after them, but the goldsmith’s man must attend all the while,
for which he would be paid 5s. a day.  If he brought a customer to see
them, the goldsmith’s man must show them.  The money was lent for two
months.  He could not be admitted to sell or deliver a pipe of wine out
single, or two or three at a time, as he might have sold them; but on a
word or two spoken amiss to the goldsmith (or which he was pleased to
take so), he would have none sold but the whole parcel together.  By this
usage the goods lay on hand, and every month the money remained the
goldsmith demanded a guinea per cent. forbearance, besides the interest,
till at last by leakage, decay, and other accidents, the wines began to
lessen.  Then the goldsmith begins to tell the merchant he is afraid the
wines are not worth the money he has lent, and demands further security,
and in a little while, growing higher and rougher, he tells him he must
have his money.  The merchant—too much at his mercy, because he cannot
provide the money—is forced to consent to the sale; and the goods, being
reduced to seventy pipes sound—wine and four unsound (the rest being sunk
for filling up), were sold for £13 per pipe the sound, and £3 the
unsound, which amounted to £922 together.

                                                  £         s.      d.
The cooper’s bill came to                           30  0       0
The cellarage a year and a half to                  18  0       0
Interests on the bond to                            63  0       0
The goldsmith’s men for attendance                   8  0       0
Allowance for advance of the money and              74  0       0
                                                   193       0       0
Principal money borrowed                           700       0       0
                                                   893       0       0
Due to the merchant                                 29       0       0
                                                   922       0       0

By the moderatest computation that can be, these wines cost the merchant
as follows:—

     _First Cost with Charges on Board_.          £         s.      d.
In Lisbon 15 mille reis per pipe is 1,500          475       0       0
mille reis; exchange, at 6s. 4d. per mille
Freight to London, then at £3 per ton              150       0       0
Assurance on £500 at 2 per cent.                    10       0       0
Petty charges                                        5       0       0
                                                   640       0       0

So that it is manifest by the extortion of this banker, the poor man lost
the whole capital with freight and charges, and made but £29 produce of a
hundred pipes of wine.

One other office of this bank, and which would take up a considerable
branch of the stock, is for lending money upon pledges, which should have
annexed to it a warehouse and factory, where all sorts of goods might
publicly be sold by the consent of the owners, to the great advantage of
the owner, the bank receiving £4 per cent. interest., and 2 per cent.
commission for sale of the goods.

A third office should be appointed for discounting bills, tallies, and
notes, by which all tallies of the Exchequer, and any part of the
revenue, should at stated allowances be ready money to any person, to the
great advantage of the Government, and ease of all such as are any ways
concerned in public undertakings.

A fourth office for lending money upon land securities at 4 per cent.
interest, by which the cruelty and injustice of mortgagees would be
wholly restrained, and a register of mortgages might be very well kept,
to prevent frauds.

A fifth office for exchanges and foreign correspondences.

A sixth for inland exchanges, where a very large field of business lies
before them.

Under this head it will not be improper to consider that this method will
most effectually answer all the notions and proposals of county banks;
for by this office they would be all rendered useless and unprofitable,
since one bank of the magnitude I mention, with a branch of its office
set apart for that business, might with ease manage all the inland
exchange of the kingdom.

By which such a correspondence with all the trading towns in England
might be maintained, as that the whole kingdom should trade with the
bank.  Under the direction of this office a public cashier should be
appointed in every county, to reside in the capital town as to trade (and
in some counties more), through whose hands all the cash of the revenue
of the gentry and of trade should be returned on the bank in London, and
from the bank again on their cashier in every respective county or town,
at the small exchange of 0.5 per cent., by which means all loss of money
carried upon the road, to the encouragement of robbers and ruining of the
country, who are sued for those robberies, would be more effectually
prevented than by all the statutes against highwaymen that are or can be

As to public advancings of money to the Government, they may be left to
the directors in a body, as all other disputes and contingent cases are;
and whoever examines these heads of business apart, and has any judgment
in the particulars, will, I suppose, allow that a stock of ten millions
may find employment in them, though it be indeed a very great sum.

I could offer some very good reasons why this way of management by
particular offices for every particular sort of business is not only the
easiest, but the safest, way of executing an affair of such variety and
consequence; also I could state a method for the proceedings of those
private offices, their conjunction with and dependence on the general
court of the directors, and how the various accounts should centre in one
general capital account of stock, with regulations and appeals; but I
believe them to be needless—at least, in this place.

If it be objected here that it is impossible for one joint-stock to go
through the whole business of the kingdom, I answer, I believe it is not
either impossible or impracticable, particularly on this one account:
that almost all the country business would be managed by running bills,
and those the longest abroad of any, their distance keeping them out, to
the increasing the credit, and consequently the stock of the bank.

_Of the Multiplicity of Banks_.

What is touched at in the foregoing part of this chapter refers to one
bank royal to preside, as it were, over the whole cash of the kingdom:
but because some people do suppose this work fitter for many banks than
for one, I must a little consider that head.  And first, allowing those
many banks could, without clashing, maintain a constant correspondence
with one another, in passing each other’s bills as current from one to
another, I know not but it might be better performed by many than by one;
for as harmony makes music in sound, so it produces success in business.

A civil war among merchants is always the rain of trade: I cannot think a
multitude of banks could so consist with one another in England as to
join interests and uphold one another’s credit, without joining stocks
too; I confess, if it could be done, the convenience to trade would be

If I were to propose which way these banks should be established, I
answer, allowing a due regard to some gentlemen who have had thoughts of
the same (whose methods I shall not so much as touch upon, much less
discover; my thoughts run upon quite different methods, both for the fund
and the establishment).

Every principal town in England is a corporation, upon which the fund may
be settled, which will sufficiently answer the difficult and chargeable
work of suing for a corporation by patent or Act of Parliament.

A general subscription of stock being made, and by deeds of settlement
placed in the mayor and aldermen of the city or corporation for the time
being, in trust, to be declared by deeds of uses, some of the directors
being always made members of the said corporation, and joined in the
trust; the bank hereby becomes the public stock of the town (something
like what they call the _rentes_ of the town-house in France), and is
managed in the name of the said corporation, to whom the directors are
accountable, and they back again to the general court.

For example: suppose the gentlemen or tradesmen of the county of Norfolk,
by a subscription of cash, design to establish a bank.  The subscriptions
being made, the stock is paid into the chamber of the city of Norwich,
and managed by a court of directors, as all banks are, and chosen out of
the subscribers, the mayor only of the city to be always one; to be
managed in the name of the corporation of the city of Norwich, but for
the uses in a deed of trust to be made by the subscribers, and mayor and
aldermen, at large mentioned.  I make no question but a bank thus settled
would have as firm a foundation as any bank need to have, and every way
answer the ends of a corporation.

Of these sorts of banks England might very well establish fifteen, at the
several towns hereafter mentioned.  Some of which, though they are not
the capital towns of the counties, yet are more the centre of trade,
which in England runs in veins, like mines of metal in the earth:

  Canterbury.  Salisbury.  Exeter.  Bristol.  Worcester.  Shrewsbury.
  Manchester.  Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  Leeds, or Halifax, or York.  Warwick
  or Birmingham.  Oxford or Reading.  Bedford.  Norwich.  Colchester.

Every one of these banks to have a cashier in London, unless they could
all have a general correspondence and credit with the bank royal.

These banks in their respective counties should be a general staple and
factory for the manufactures of the said county, where every man that had
goods made, might have money at a small interest for advance, the goods
in the meantime being sent forward to market, to a warehouse for that
purpose erected in London, where they should be disposed of to all the
advantages the owner could expect, paying only 1 per cent. commission.
Or if the maker wanted credit in London either for Spanish wool, cotton,
oil, or any goods, while his goods were in the warehouse of the said
bank, his bill should be paid by the bank to the full value of his goods,
or at least within a small matter.  These banks, either by correspondence
with each other, or an order to their cashier in London, might with ease
so pass each other’s bills that a man who has cash at Plymouth, and wants
money at Berwick, may transfer his cash at Plymouth to Newcastle in
half-an-hour’s time, without either hazard, or charge, or time, allowing
only 0.5 per cent. exchange; and so of all the most distant parts of the
kingdom.  Or if he wants money at Newcastle, and has goods at Worcester
or at any other clothing town, sending his goods to be sold by the
factory of the bank of Worcester, he may remit by the bank to Newcastle,
or anywhere else, as readily as if his goods were sold and paid for and
no exactions made upon him for the convenience he enjoys.

This discourse of banks, the reader is to understand, to have no relation
to the present posture of affairs, with respect to the scarcity of
current money, which seems to have put a stop to that part of a stock we
call credit, which always is, and indeed must be, the most essential part
of a bank, and without which no bank can pretend to subsist—at least, to

A bank is only a great stock of money put together, to be employed by
some of the subscribers, in the name of the rest, for the benefit of the
whole.  This stock of money subsists not barely on the profits of its own
stock (for that would be inconsiderable), but upon the contingencies and
accidents which multiplicity of business occasions.  As, for instance, a
man that comes for money, and knows he may have it to-morrow; perhaps he
is in haste, and won’t take it to-day: only, that he may be sure of it
to-morrow, he takes a memorandum under the hand of the officer, that he
shall have it whenever he calls for it, and this memorandum we call a
bill.  To-morrow, when he intended to fetch his money, comes a man to him
for money, and, to save himself the labour of telling, he gives him the
memorandum or bill aforesaid for his money; this second man does as the
first, and a third does as he did, and so the bill runs about a mouth,
two or three.  And this is that we call credit, for by the circulation of
a quantity of these bills, the bank enjoys the full benefit of as much
stock in real value as the suppositious value of the bills amounts to;
and wherever this credit fails, this advantage fails; for immediately all
men come for their money, and the bank must die of itself: for I am sure
no bank, by the simple improvement of their single stock, can ever make
any considerable advantage.

I confess, a bank who can lay a fund for the security of their bills,
which shall produce first an annual profit to the owner, and yet make
good the passant bill, may stand, and be advantageous, too, because there
is a real and a suppositious value both, and the real always ready to
make good the suppositious: and this I know no way to bring to pass but
by land, which, at the same time that it lies transferred to secure the
value of every bill given out, brings in a separate profit to the owner;
and this way no question but the whole kingdom might be a bank to itself,
though no ready money were to be found in it.

I had gone on in some sheets with my notion of land being the best bottom
for public banks, and the easiness of bringing it to answer all the ends
of money deposited with double advantage, but I find myself happily
prevented by a gentleman who has published the very same, though since
this was wrote; and I was always master of so much wit as to hold my
tongue while they spoke who understood the thing better than myself.

Mr. John Asgill, of Lincoln’s Inn, in a small tract entitled, “Several
Assertions proved, in order to create another Species of Money than Gold
and Silver,” has so distinctly handled this very case, with such strength
of argument, such clearness of reason, such a judgment, and such a style,
as all the ingenious part of the world must acknowledge themselves
extremely obliged to him for that piece.

At the sight of which book I laid by all that had been written by me on
that subject, for I had much rather confess myself incapable of handling
that point like him, than have convinced the world of it by my


IT is a prodigious charge the whole nation groans under for the repair of
highways, which, after all, lie in a very ill posture too.  I make no
question but if it was taken into consideration by those who have the
power to direct it, the kingdom might be wholly eased of that burden, and
the highways be kept in good condition, which now lie in a most shameful
manner in most parts of the kingdom, and in many places wholly
unpassable, from whence arise tolls and impositions upon passengers and
travellers, and, on the other hand, trespasses and encroachments upon
lands adjacent, to the great damage of the owners.

The rate for the highways is the most arbitrary and unequal tax in the
kingdom: in some places two or three rates of sixpence per pound in the
year; in others the whole parish cannot raise wherewith to defray the
charge, either by the very bad condition of the road or distance of
materials; in others the surveyors raise what they never expend; and the
abuses, exactions, connivances, frauds, and embezzlements are

The Romans, while they governed this island, made it one of their
principal cares to make and repair the highways of the kingdom, and the
chief roads we now use are of their marking out; the consequence of
maintaining them was such, or at least so esteemed, that they thought it
not below them to employ their legionary troops in the work; and it was
sometimes the business of whole armies, either when in winter quarters or
in the intervals of truce or peace with the natives.  Nor have the Romans
left us any greater tokens of their grandeur and magnificence than the
ruins of those causeways and street-ways which are at this day to be seen
in many parts of the kingdom, some of which have by the visible remains
been discovered to traverse the whole kingdom, and others for more than a
hundred miles are to be traced from colony to colony, as they had
particular occasion.  The famous highway or street called Watling Street,
which some will tell you began at London Stone, and passing that very
street in the City which we to this day call by that name, went on west
to that spot where Tyburn now stands, and then turned north-west in so
straight a line to St. Albans that it is now the exactest road (in one
line for twenty miles) in the kingdom; and though disused now as the
chief, yet is as good, and, I believe, the best road to St. Albans, and
is still called the Streetway.  From whence it is traced into Shropshire,
above a hundred and sixty miles, with a multitude of visible antiquities
upon it, discovered and described very accurately by Mr. Cambden.  The
Fosse, another Roman work, lies at this day as visible, and as plain a
high causeway, of above thirty feet broad, ditched on either side, and
coped and paved where need is—as exact and every jot as beautiful as the
king’s new road through Hyde Park, in which figure it now lies from near
Marshfield to Cirencester, and again from Cirencester to the Hill, three
miles on this side Gloucester, which is not less than twenty-six miles,
and is made use of as the great road to those towns, and probably has
been so for a thousand years with little repairs.

If we set aside the barbarity and customs of the Romans as heathens, and
take them as a civil government, we must allow they were the pattern of
the whole world for improvement and increase of arts and learning,
civilising and methodising nations and countries conquered by their
valour; and if this was one of their great cares, that consideration
ought to move something.  But to the great example of that generous
people I will add three arguments:—

1.  It is useful, and that as it is convenient for carriages, which in a
trading country is a great help to negotiation, and promotes universal
correspondence, without which our inland trade could not be managed.  And
under this head I could name a thousand conveniences of a safe, pleasant,
well-repaired highway, both to the inhabitant and the traveller, but I
think it is needless.

2.  It is easy.  I question not to make it appear it is easy to put all
the highroads, especially in England, in a noble figure; large, dry, and
clean; well drained, and free from floods, unpassable sloughs, deep
cart-ruts, high ridges, and all the inconveniences they now are full of;
and, when once done, much easier still to be maintained so.

3.  It may be cheaper, and the whole assessment for the repairs of
highways for ever be dropped or applied to other uses for the public

Here I beg the reader’s favour for a small digression.

I am not proposing this as an undertaker, or setting a price to the
public for which I will perform it, like one of the projectors I speak
of, but laying open a project for the performance, which, whenever the
public affairs will admit our governors to consider of, will be found so
feasible that no question they may find undertakers enough for the
performance; and in this undertaking age I do not doubt but it would be
easy at any time to procure persons at their own charge to perform it for
any single county, as a pattern and experiment for the whole kingdom.

The proposal is as follows:—First, that an Act of Parliament be made with
liberty for the undertakers to dig and trench, to cut down hedges and
trees, or whatever is needful for ditching, draining and carrying off
water, cleaning, enlarging and levelling the roads, with power to lay
open or enclose lands; to encroach into lands; dig, raise, and level
fences; plant and pull up hedges or trees (for the enlarging, widening,
and draining the highways), with power to turn either the roads or
watercourses, rivers and brooks, as by the directors of the works shall
be found needful, always allowing satisfaction to be first made to the
owners of such lands (either by assigning to them equivalent lands or
payment in money, the value to be adjusted by two indifferent persons to
be named by the Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper for the time being), and
no watercourse to be turned from any water-mill without satisfaction
first made both to the landlord and tenant.

But before I proceed, I must say a word or two to this article.

The chief, and almost the only, cause of the deepness and foulness of the
roads is occasioned by the standing water, which (for want of due care to
draw it off by scouring and opening ditches and drains, and other
watercourses, and clearing of passages) soaks into the earth, and softens
it to such a degree that it cannot bear the weight of horses and
carriages; to prevent which, the power to dig, trench, and cut down, &c.,
mentioned above will be of absolute necessity.  But because the liberty
seems very large, and some may think it is too great a power to be
granted to any body of men over their neighbours, it is answered:—

1.  It is absolutely necessary, or the work cannot be done, and the doing
of the work is of much greater benefit than the damage can amount to.

2.  Satisfaction to be made to the owner (and that first, too, before the
damage be done) is an unquestionable equivalent; and both together, I
think, are a very full answer to any objection in that case.

Besides this Act of Parliament, a commission must be granted to fifteen
at least, in the name of the undertakers, to whom every county shall have
power to join ten, who are to sit with the said fifteen so often and so
long as the said fifteen do sit for affairs relating to that county,
which fifteen, or any seven of them, shall be directors of the works, to
be advised by the said ten, or any five of them, in matters of right and
claim, and the said ten to adjust differences in the countries, and to
have right by process to appeal in the name either of lords of manors, or
privileges of towns or corporations, who shall be either damaged or
encroached upon by the said work.  All appeals to be heard and determined
immediately by the said Lord Chancellor, or commission from him, that the
work may receive no interruption.

This commission shall give power to the said fifteen to press waggons,
carts, and horses, oxen and men, and detain them to work a certain
limited time, and within certain limited space of miles from their own
dwellings, and at a certain rate of payment.  No men, horses, or carts to
be pressed against their consent during the times of hay-time or harvest,
or upon market-days, if the person aggrieved will make affidavit he is
obliged to be with his horses or carts at the said markets.

It is well known to all who have any knowledge of the condition the
highways in England now lie in that in most places there is a convenient
distance land left open for travelling, either for driving of cattle, or
marching of troops of horse, with perhaps as few lanes or defiles as in
any countries.  The cross-roads, which are generally narrow, are yet
broad enough in most places for two carriages to pass; but, on the other
hand, we have on most of the highroads a great deal, if waste land thrown
in (as it were, for an overplus to the highway), which, though it be used
of course by cattle and travellers on occasion, is indeed no benefit at
all either to the traveller as a road or to the poor as a common, or to
the lord of the manor as a waste; upon it grows neither timber nor grass,
in any quantity answerable to the land, but, though to no purpose, is
trodden down, poached, and overrun by drifts of cattle in the winter, or
spoiled with the dust in the summer.  And this I have observed in many
parts of England to be as good land as any of the neighbouring
enclosures, as capable of improvement, and to as good purpose.

These lands only being enclosed and manured, leaving the roads to
dimensions without measure sufficient, are the fund upon which I build
the prodigious stock of money that must do this work.  These lands (which
I shall afterwards make an essay to value), being enclosed, will be
either saleable to raise money, or fit to exchange with those gentlemen
who must part with some land where the ways are narrow, always reserving
a quantity of these lands to be let out to tenants, the rent to be paid
into the public stock or bank of the undertakers, and to be reserved for
keeping the ways in the same repair, and the said bank to forfeit the
lands if they are not so maintained.

Another branch of the stock must be hands (for a stock of men is a stock
of money), to which purpose every county, city, town, and parish shall be
rated at a set price, equivalent to eight years’ payment, for the repair
of highways, which each county, &c., shall raise, not by assessment in
money, but by pressing of men, horses, and carriages for the work (the
men, horses, &c., to be employed by the directors); in which case all
corporal punishments—as of whippings, stocks, pillories, houses of
correction, &c.—might be easily transmitted to a certain number of days’
work on the highways, and in consideration of this provision of men the
country should for ever after be acquitted of any contribution, either in
money or work, for repair of the highways—building of bridges excepted.

There lie some popular objections against this undertaking; and the first
is (the great controverted point of England) enclosure of the common,
which tends to depopulation, and injures the poor.

2.  Who shall be judges or surveyors of the work, to oblige the
undertakers to perform to a certain limited degree?

For the first, “the enclosure of the common”—a clause that runs as far as
to an encroachment upon Magna Charta, and a most considerable branch of
the property of the poor—I answer it thus:—

1.  The lands we enclose are not such as from which the poor do indeed
reap any benefit—or, at least, any that is considerable.

2.  The bank and public stock, who are to manage this great undertaking,
will have so many little labours to perform and offices to bestow, that
are fit only for labouring poor persons to do, as will put them in a
condition to provide for the poor who are so injured, that can work; and
to those who cannot, may allow pensions for overseeing, supervising, and
the like, which will be more than equivalent.

3.  For depopulations, the contrary should be secured, by obliging the
undertakers, at such and such certain distances, to erect cottages, two
at least in a place (which would be useful to the work and safety of the
traveller), to which should be an allotment of land, always sufficient to
invite the poor inhabitant, in which the poor should be tenant for life
gratis, doing duty upon the highway as should be appointed, by which, and
many other methods, the poor should be great gainers by the proposal,
instead of being injured.

4.  By this erecting of cottages at proper distances a man might travel
over all England as through a street, where he could never want either
rescue from thieves or directions for his way.

5.  This very undertaking, once duly settled, might in a few years so
order it that there should be no poor for the common; and, if so, what
need of a common for the poor?  Of which in its proper place.

As to the second objection, “Who should oblige the undertakers to the
performance?”  I answer—

1.  Their Commission and charter should become void, and all their stock
forfeit, and the lands enclosed and unsold remain as a pledge, which
would be security sufficient.

2.  The ten persons chosen out of every county should have power to
inspect and complain, and the Lord Chancellor, upon such complaint, to
make a survey, and to determine by a jury, in which case, on default,
they shall be obliged to proceed.

3.  The lands settled on the bank shall be liable to be extended for the
uses mentioned, if the same at any time be not maintained in the
condition at first provided, and the bank to be amerced upon complaint of
the country.

These and other conditions, which on a legal settlement to be made by
wiser heads than mine might be thought on, I do believe would form a
constitution so firm, so fair, and so equally advantageous to the
country, to the poor, and to the public, as has not been put in practice
in these later ages of the world.  To discourse of this a little in
general, and to instance in a place perhaps that has not its fellow in
the kingdom—the parish of Islington, in Middlesex.  There lies through
this large parish the greatest road in England, and the most frequented,
especially by cattle for Smithfield market; this great road has so many
branches, and lies for so long a way through the parish, and withal has
the inconvenience of a clayey ground, and no gravel at hand, that,
modestly speaking, the parish is not able to keep it in repair; by which
means several cross-roads in the parish lie wholly unpassable, and carts
and horses (and men too) have been almost buried in holes and sloughs;
and the main road itself has for many years lain in a very ordinary
condition, which occasioned several motions in Parliament to raise a toll
at Highgate for the performance of what it was impossible the parish
should do, and yet was of so absolute necessity to be done.  And is it
not very probable the parish of Islington would part with all the waste
land upon their roads, to be eased of the intolerable assessment for
repair of the highway, and answer the poor, who reap but a small benefit
from it, some other way?  And yet I am free to affirm that for a grant of
waste and almost useless land, lying open to the highway (those lands to
be improved, as they might easily be), together with the eight years’
assessment to be provided in workmen, a noble, magnificent causeway might
be erected, with ditches on either side, deep enough to receive the
water, and drains sufficient to carry it off, which causeway should be
four feet high at least, and from thirty to forty feet broad, to reach
from London to Barnet, paved in the middle, to keep it coped, and so
supplied with gravel and other proper materials as should secure it from
decay with small repairing.

I hope no man would be so weak now as to imagine that by lands lying open
to the road, to be assigned to the undertakers, I should mean that all
Finchley Common should be enclosed and sold for this work; but, lest
somebody should start such a preposterous objection, I think it is not
improper to mention, that wherever a highway is to be carried over a
large common, forest, or waste, without a hedge on either hand for a
certain distance, there the several parishes shall allot the directors a
certain quantity of the common, to lie parallel with the road, at a
proportioned number of feet to the length and breadth of the said
road—consideration also to be had to the nature of the ground; or else,
giving them only room for the road directly shall suffer them to inclose
in any one spot so much of the said common as shall be equivalent to the
like quantity of land lying by the road.  Thus where the land is good and
the materials for erecting a causeway near, the less land may serve; and
on the contrary, the more; but in general allowing them the quantity of
land proportioned to the length of the causeway, and forty rods in
breadth: though where the land is poor, as on downs and plains, the
proportion must be considered to be adjusted by the country.

Another point for the dimensions of roads should be adjusted; and the
breadth of them, I think, cannot be less than thus:

From London every way ten miles the high post-road to be built full forty
feet in breadth and four feet high, the ditches eight feet broad and six
feet deep, and from thence onward thirty feet, and so in proportion.

Cross-roads to be twenty feet broad, and ditches proportioned; no lanes
and passes less than nine feet without ditches.

The middle of the high causeways to be paved with stone, chalk, or
gravel, and kept always two feet higher than the sides, that the water
might have a free course into the ditches; and persons kept in constant
employ to fill up holes, let out water, open drains, and the like, as
there should be occasion—a proper work for highwaymen and such
malefactors, as might on those services be exempted from the gallows.

It may here be objected that eight years’ assessment to be demanded down
is too much in reason to expect any of the poorer sort can pay; as, for
instance, if a farmer who keeps a team of horse be at the common
assessment to work a week, it must not be put so hard upon any man as to
work eight weeks together.  It is easy to answer this objection.

So many as are wanted, must be had; if a farmer’s team cannot be spared
without prejudice to him so long together, he may spare it at sundry
times, or agree to be assessed, and pay the assessment at sundry
payments; and the bank may make it as easy to them as they please.

Another method, however, might be found to fix this work at once.  As
suppose a bank be settled for the highways of the county of Middlesex,
which as they are, without doubt, the most used of any in the kingdom, so
also they require the more charge, and in some parts lie in the worst
condition of any in the kingdom.

If the Parliament fix the charge of the survey of the highways upon a
bank to be appointed for that purpose for a certain term of years, the
bank undertaking to do the work, or to forfeit the said settlement.

As thus: suppose the tax on land and tenements for the whole county of
Middlesex does, or should be so ordered as it might, amount to £20,000
per annum more or less, which it now does, and much more, including the
work of the farmers’ teams, which must be accounted as money, and is
equivalent to it, with some allowance to be rated for the city of London,
&c., who do enjoy the benefit, and make the most use of the said roads,
both for carrying of goods and bringing provisions to the city, and
therefore in reason ought to contribute towards the highways (for it is a
most unequal thing that the road from Highgate to Smithfield Market, by
which the whole city is, in a manner, supplied with live cattle, and the
road by those cattle horribly spoiled, should lie all upon that one
parish of Islington to repair); wherefore I will suppose a rate for the
highways to be gathered through the city of London of £10,000 per annum
more, which may be appointed to be paid by carriers, drovers, and all
such as keep teams, horses, or coaches, and the like, or many ways, as is
most equal and reasonable; the waste lands in the said county, which by
the consent of the parishes, lords of the manors, and proprietors shall
be allowed to the undertakers, when inclosed and let out, may (the land
in Middlesex generally letting high) amount to £5,000 per annum more.
If, then, an Act of Parliament be procured to settle the tax of £30,000
per annum for eight years, most of which will be levied in workmen and
not in money, and the waste lands for ever, I dare be bold to offer that
the highways for the whole county of Middlesex should be put into the
following form, and the £5,000 per annum land be bound to remain as a
security to maintain them so, and the county be never burdened with any
further tax for the repair of the highways.

And that I may not propose a matter in general, like begging the
question, without demonstration, I shall enter into the particulars how
it may be performed, and that under these following heads of articles:

1.  What I propose to do to the highways.

2.  What the charge will be.

3.  How to be raised.

4.  What security for performance.

5.  What profit to the undertaker.

1.  _What I propose to do to the highways_.—I answer first, not repair
them; and yet secondly, not alter them—that is, not alter the course they
run; but perfectly build them as a fabric.  And, to descend to the
particulars, it is first necessary to note which are the roads I mean,
and their dimensions.

First, the high post-roads, and they are for the county of Middlesex as

        From London to               Miles.
Staines, which is                        15
Colebrook is from Hounslow                5
Uxbridge                                 15
Bushey, the Old Street-way               10
Barnet, or near it                        9
Waltham Cross, in Ware Road              11
Bow                                       2

Besides these, there, are cross-roads, bye-roads, and lanes, which must
also be looked after; and that some of them may be put into condition,
others may be wholly slighted and shut up, or made drift-ways,
bridle-ways, or foot-ways, as may be thought convenient by the counties.

The cross-roads of most repute are as follows:

      From                           To                         Miles.
London            Hackney, Old Ford, and Bow                         5
Hackney           Dalston and Islington                              2
Ditto             Hornsey, Muswell Hill, to Whetstone                8
Tottenham         The Chase, Southgate, &c., called Green            6
Enfield Wash      Enfield Town, Whetstone, Totteridge, to           10
London            Hampstead, Hendon, and Edgworth                    8
Edgworth          Stanmore, to Pinner, to Uxbridge                   8
London            Harrow and Pinner Green                           11
Ditto             Chelsea, Fulham                                    4
Brentford         Thistleworth, Twittenham, and Kingston             6
Kingston          Staines, Colebrook, and Uxbridge                  17
Ditto             Chertsey Bridge                                    5
                                            Overplus miles          50

And because there may be many parts of the crossroads which cannot be
accounted in the number abovementioned, or may slip my knowledge or
memory, I allow an overplus of 50 miles, to be added to the 90 miles
above, which together make the cross-roads of Middlesex to be 140 miles.

For the bye-lanes such as may be slighted need nothing but to be ditched
up; such as are for private use of lands, for carrying off corn, and
driving cattle, are to be looked after by private hands.

But of the last sort, not to be accounted by particulars, in the small
county of Middlesex we cannot allow less in cross-bye-lanes, from village
to village, and from dwelling-houses which stand out of the way to the
roads, than 1,000 miles.

So in the whole county I reckon up—

Of the high post-road                   67
Of cross-roads less public             140
Of bye-lanes and passes              1,000

These are the roads I mean, and thus divided under their several

To the question, what I would do to them I answer—

(1).  For the sixty-seven miles of high post-road I propose to throw up a
firm strong causeway well-bottomed, six feet high in the middle and four
feet on the side, faced with brick or stone, and crowned with gravel,
chalk, or stone, as the several counties they are made through will
afford, being forty-four feet in breadth, with ditches on either side
eight feet broad and four feet deep; so the whole breadth will be sixty
feet, if the ground will permit.

At the end of every two miles, or such like convenient distances, shall
be a cottage erected, with half an acre of ground allowed, which shall be
given gratis, with one shilling per week wages, to such poor man of the
parish as shall be approved, who shall, once at least every day, view his
walk, to open passages for the water to run into the ditches, to fill up
holes or soft places.

Two riders shall be allowed to be always moving the rounds, to view
everything out of repair, and make report to the directors, and to see
that the cottagers do their duty.

(2).  For the 140 miles of cross-road a like causeway to be made, but of
different dimensions—the breadth twenty feet, if the ground will allow
it; the ditches four feet broad, three feet deep; the height in the
middle three feet, and on the sides one foot, or two where it may be
needful; to be also crowned with gravel, and one shilling per week to be
allowed to the poor of every parish, the constables to be bound to find a
man to walk on the highway every division for the same purpose as the
cottagers do on the greater roads.

Posts to be set up at every turning to note whither it goes, for the
direction of strangers, and how many miles distant.

(3).  For the 1,000 miles of bye-lanes, only good and sufficient care to
keep them in repair as they are, and to carry the water off by clearing
and cutting the ditches, and laying materials where they are wanted.

This is what I propose to do to them, and what, if once performed, I
suppose all people would own to be an undertaking both useful and

2.  The second question I propose to give an account of is, _What the
charge will be_, which I account thus.

The work of the great causeway I propose, shall not cost less than ten
shillings per foot (supposing materials to be bought, carriage, and men’s
labour to be all hired), which for sixty-seven miles in length is no less
than the sum of £176,880; as thus:

Every mile accounted at 1,760 yards, and three feet to the yard, is 5,280
feet, which at ten shillings per foot is £2,640 per mile, and that,
again, multiplied by sixty-seven, makes the sum of £176,880, into which I
include the charge of water-courses, mills to throw off water where
needful, drains, &c.

To this charge must be added, ditching to inclose land for thirty
cottages, and building thirty cottages at £40 each, which is £1,200.

The work of the smaller causeway I propose to finish at the rate of a
shilling per foot, which being for 149 miles in length, at 5,280 feet per
mile, amounts to £36,960.

Ditching, draining, and repairing 1,000 miles, Supposed at three
shillings per rod, as for 320,000 rods, is £48,000, which, added to the
two former accounts, is thus:

The high post-roads, or the great causeway        178,080
The small causeway                                 36,960
Bye-lanes, &c.                                     48,000

If I were to propose some measures for the easing this charge, I could
perhaps lay a scheme down how it may be performed for less than one-half
of this charge.

As first, by a grant of the court at the Old Bailey whereby all such
criminals as are condemned to die for smaller crimes may, instead of
transportation, be ordered a year’s work on the highways; others, instead
of whippings, a proportioned time, and the like; which would, by a
moderate computation, provide us generally a supply of 200 workmen, and
coming in as fast as they go off; and let the overseers alone to make
them work.

Secondly, by an agreement with the Guinea Company to furnish 200 negroes,
who are generally persons that do a great deal of work; and all these are
subsisted very reasonably out of a public storehouse.

Thirdly, by carts and horses to be bought, not hired, with a few able
carters; and to the other a few workmen that have judgment to direct the
rest, and thus I question not the great causeway shall be done for four
shillings per foot charge; but of this by-the-bye.

Fourthly, a liberty to ask charities and benevolences to the work.

3.  To the question, _How this money shall be raised_.  I think if the
Parliament settle the tax on the county for eight years at £30,000 per
annum, no man need ask how it shall be raised . . .  It will be easy
enough to raise the money; and no parish can grudge to pay a little
larger rate for such a term, on condition never to be taxed for the
highways any more.

Eight years’ assessment at £30,000 per annum is enough to afford to
borrow the money by way of anticipation, if need be; the fund being
secured by Parliament, and appropriated to that use and no other.

4.  As to _What security for performance_.

The lands which are inclosed may be appropriated by the same Act of
Parliament to the bank and undertakers, upon condition of performance,
and to be forfeit to the use of the several parishes to which they
belong, in case upon presentation by the grand juries, and reasonable
time given, any part of the roads in such and such parishes be not kept
and maintained in that posture they are proposed to be.  Now the lands
thus settled are an eternal security to the country for the keeping the
roads in repair; because, they will always be of so much value over the
needful charge as will make it worth while to the undertakers to preserve
their title to them; and the tenure of them being so precarious as to be
liable to forfeiture on default, they will always be careful to uphold
the causeways.

Lastly, _What profit to the undertakers_.  For we must allow them to
gain, and that considerably, or no man would undertake such a work.

To this I propose: first, during the work, allow them out of the stock
£3,000 per annum for management.

After the work is finished, so much of the £5,000 per annum as can be
saved, and the roads kept in good repair, let be their own; and if the
lands secured be not of the value of £5,000 a year, let so much of the
eight years’ tax be set apart as may purchase land to make them up; if
they come to more, let the benefit be to the adventurers.

It may be objected here that a tax of £30,000 for eight years will come
in as fast as it can well be laid out, and so no anticipations will be
requisite; for the whole work proposed cannot be probably finished in
less time; and, if so,

The charge of the county amounts to        £240,000
The lands saved eight years’ revenue         40,000

which is £13,000 more than the charge; and if the work be done so much
cheaper, as is mentioned, the profit to the undertaker will be

To this I say I would have the undertakers bound to accept the salary of
£3,000 per annum for management, and if a whole year’s tax can be spared,
either leave it unraised upon the country, or put it in bank to be
improved against any occasion—of building, perhaps, a great bridge; or
some very wet season or frost may so damnify the works as to make them
require more than ordinary repair.  But the undertakers should make no
private advantage of such an overplus; there might be ways enough found
for it.

Another objection lies against the possibility of inclosing the lands
upon the waste, which generally belongs to some manor, whose different
tenures may be so cross, and so otherwise encumbered, that even the lords
of those manors, though they were willing, could not convey them.

This may be answered in general, that an Act of Parliament is omnipotent
with respect to titles and tenures of land, and can empower lords and
tenants to consent to what else they could not; as to particulars, they
cannot be answered till they are proposed; but there is no doubt but an
Act of Parliament may adjust it all in one head.

What a kingdom would England be if this were performed in all the
counties of it!  And yet I believe it is feasible, even in the worst.  I
have narrowly deserved all the considerable ways in that unpassable
county of Sussex, which (especially in some parts in the wild, as they
very properly call it, of the county) hardly admits the country people to
travel to markets in winter, and makes corn dear at market because it
cannot be brought, and cheap at the farmer’s house because he cannot
carry it to market; yet even in that county would I undertake to carry on
this proposal, and that to great advantage, if backed with the authority
of an Act of Parliament.

I have seen in that horrible country the road, sixty to a hundred yards
broad, lie from side to side all poached with cattle, the land of no
manner of benefit, and yet no going with a horse, but at every step up to
the shoulders, full of sloughs and holes, and covered with standing
water.  It costs them incredible sums of money to repair them; and the
very places that are mended would fright a young traveller to go over
them.  The Romans mastered this work, and by a firm causeway made a
highway quite through this deep country, through Darkin in Surrey to
Stansted, and thence to Okeley, and so on to Arundel; its name tells us
what it was made of (for it was called Stone Street), and many visible
parts of it remain to this day.

Now would any lord of a manor refuse to allow forty yards in breadth out
of that road I mentioned, to have the other twenty made into a firm,
fair, and pleasant causeway over that wilderness of a country?

Or would not any man acknowledge that putting this country into a
condition for carriages and travellers to pass would be a great work?
The gentlemen would find the benefit of it in the rent of their land and
price of their timber; the country people would find the difference in
the sale of their goods, which now they cannot carry beyond the first
market town, and hardly thither; and the whole county would reap an
advantage a hundred to one greater than the charge of it.  And since the
want we feel of any convenience is generally the first motive to
contrivance for a remedy, I wonder no man over thought of some expedient
for so considerable a defect.


ASSURANCES among merchants, I believe, may plead prescription, and have
been of use time out of mind in trade, though perhaps never so much a
trade as now.

It is a compact among merchants.  Its beginning being an accident to
trade, and arose from the disease of men’s tempers, who, having run
larger adventures in a single bottom than afterwards they found
convenient, grew fearful and uneasy; and discovering their uneasiness to
others, who perhaps had no effects in the same vessel, they offer to bear
part of the hazard for part of the profit: convenience made this a
custom, and custom brought it into a method, till at last it becomes a

I cannot question the lawfulness of it, since all risk in trade is for
gain, and when I am necessitated to have a greater cargo of goods in such
or such a bottom than my stock can afford to lose, another may surely
offer to go a part with me; and as it is just if I give another part of
the gain, he should run part of the risk, so it is as just that if he
runs part of my risk, he should have part of the gain.  Some object the
disparity of the premium to the hazard, when the insurer runs the risk of
£100 on the seas from Jamaica to London for 40s., which, say they, is
preposterous and unequal.  Though this objection is hardly worth
answering to men of business, yet it looks something fair to them that
know no better; and for the information of such, I trouble the reader
with a few heads:

First, they must consider the insurer is out no stock.

Secondly, it is but one risk the insurer runs; whereas the assured has
had a risk out, a risk of debts abroad, a risk of a market, and a risk of
his factor, and has a risk of a market to come, and therefore ought to
have an answerable profit.

Thirdly, if it has been a trading voyage, perhaps the adventurer has paid
three or four such premiums, which sometimes make the insurer clear more
by a voyage than the merchant.  I myself have paid £100 insurances in
those small premiums on a voyage I have not gotten £50 by; and I suppose
I am not the first that has done so either.

This way of assuring has also, as other arts of trade have, suffered some
improvement (if I may be allowed that term) in our age; and the first
step upon it was an insurance office for houses, to insure them from
fire.  Common fame gives the project to Dr. Barebone—a man, I suppose,
better known as a builder than a physician.  Whether it were his, or
whose it was, I do not inquire; it was settled on a fund of ground rents,
to answer in case of loss, and met with very good acceptance.

But it was soon followed by another, by way of friendly society, where
all who subscribe pay their quota to build up any man’s house who is a
contributor, if it shall happen to be burnt.  I won’t decide which is the
best, or which succeeded best, but I believe the latter brings in most
money to the contriver.

Only one benefit I cannot omit which they reap from these two societies
who are not concerned in either; that if any fire happen, whether in
houses insured or not insured, they have each of them a set of lusty
fellows, generally watermen, who being immediately called up, wherever
they live, by watchmen appointed, are, it must be confessed, very active
and diligent in helping to put out the fire.

As to any further improvement to be made upon assurances in trade, no
question there may; and I doubt not but on payment of a small duty to the
government the king might be made the general insurer of all foreign
trade, of which more under another head.

I am of the opinion also that an office of insurance erected to insure
the titles of lands, in an age where they are so precarious as now, might
be a project not unlikely to succeed, if established on a good fund.  But
I shall say no more to that, because it seems to be a design in hand by
some persons in town, and is indeed no thought of my own.

Insuring of life I cannot admire; I shall say nothing to it but that in
Italy, where stabbing and poisoning is so much in vogue, something may be
said for it, and on contingent annuities; and yet I never knew the thing
much approved of on any account.


ANOTHER branch of insurance is by contribution, or (to borrow the term
from that before mentioned) friendly societies; which is, in short, a
number of people entering into a mutual compact to help one another in
case any disaster or distress fall upon them.

If mankind could agree, as these might be regulated, all things which
have casualty in them might be secured.  But one thing is particularly
required in this way of assurances: none can be admitted but such whose
circumstances are (at least, in some degree) alike, and so mankind must
be sorted into classes; and as their contingencies differ, every
different sort may be a society upon even terms; for the circumstances of
people, as to life, differ extremely by the age and constitution of their
bodies and difference of employment—as he that lives on shore against him
that goes to sea, or a young man against an old man, or a shopkeeper
against a soldier, are unequal.  I do not pretend to determine the
controverted point of predestination, the foreknowledge and decrees of
Providence.  Perhaps, if a man be decreed to be killed in the trenches,
the same foreknowledge ordered him to list himself a soldier, that it
might come to pass, and the like of a seaman.  But this I am sure,
speaking of second causes, a seaman or a soldier are subject to more
contingent hazards than other men, and therefore are not upon equal terms
to form such a society; nor is an annuity on the life of such a man worth
so much as it is upon other men: therefore if a society should agree
together to pay the executor of every member so much after the decease of
the said member, the seamen’s executors would most certainly have an
advantage, and receive more than they pay.  So that it is necessary to
sort the world into parcels—seamen with seamen, soldiers with soldiers,
and the like.

Nor is this a new thing; the friendly society must not pretend to assume
to themselves the contrivance of the method, or think us guilty of
borrowing from them, when we draw this into other branches; for I know
nothing is taken from them but the bare words, “friendly society,” which
they cannot pretend to be any considerable piece of invention either.

I can refer them to the very individual practice in other things, which
claims prescription beyond the beginning of the last age, and that is in
our marshes and fens in Essex, Kent, and the Isle of Ely; where great
quantities of land being with much pains and a vast charge recovered out
of the seas and rivers, and maintained with banks (which they call
walls), the owners of those lands agree to contribute to the keeping up
those walls and keeping out the sea, which is all one with a friendly
society; and if I have a piece of land in any level or marsh, though it
bounds nowhere on the sea or river, yet I pay my proportion to the
maintenance of the said wall or bank; and if at any time the sea breaks
in, the damage is not laid upon the man in whose land the breach
happened, unless it was by his neglect, but it lies on the whole land,
and is called a “level lot.”

Again, I have known it practised in troops of horse, especially when it
was so ordered that the troopers mounted themselves; where every private
trooper has agreed to pay, perhaps, 2d. per diem out of his pay into a
public stock, which stock was employed to remount any of the troop who by
accident should lose his horse.

Again, the sailors’ contribution to the Chest at Chatham is another
friendly society, and more might be named.

To argue against the lawfulness of this would be to cry down common
equity as well as charity: for as it is kind that my neighbour should
relieve me if I fall into distress or decay, so it is but equal he should
do so if I agreed to have done the same for him; and if God Almighty has
commanded us to relieve and help one another in distress, surely it must
be commendable to bind ourselves by agreement to obey that command; nay,
it seems to be a project that we are led to by the divine rule, and has
such a latitude in it that for aught I know, as I said, all the disasters
in the world might be prevented by it, and mankind be secured from all
the miseries, indigences, and distresses that happen in the world.  In
which I crave leave to be a little particular.

First general peace might be secured all over the world by it, if all the
powers agreed to suppress him that usurped or encroached upon his
neighbour.  All the contingencies of life might be fenced against by this
method (as fire is already), as thieves, floods by land, storms by sea,
losses of all sorts, and death itself, in a manner, by making it up to
the survivor.

I shall begin with the seamen; for as their lives are subject to more
hazards than others, they seem to come first in view.

_Of Seamen_.

Sailors are _les enfants perdus_, “the forlorn hope of the world;” they
are fellows that bid defiance to terror, and maintain a constant war with
the elements; who, by the magic of their art, trade in the very confines
of death, and are always posted within shot, as I may say, of the grave.
It is true, their familiarity with danger makes them despise it (for
which, I hope, nobody will say they are the wiser); and custom has so
hardened them that we find them the worst of men, though always in view
of their last moment.

I have observed one great error in the custom of England relating to
these sort of people, and which this way of friendly society would be a
remedy for:

If a seaman who enters himself, or is pressed into, the king’s service be
by any accident wounded or disabled, to recompense him for the loss, he
receives a pension during life, which the sailors call “smart-money,” and
is proportioned to their hurt, as for the loss of an eye, arm, leg, or
finger, and the like: and as it is a very honourable thing, so it is but
reasonable that a poor man who loses his limbs (which are his estate) in
the service of the Government, and is thereby disabled from his labour to
get his bread, should be provided for, and not suffer to beg or starve
for want of those limbs he lost in the service of his country.

But if you come to the seamen in the merchants’ service, not the least
provision is made: which has been the loss of many a good ship, with many
a rich cargo, which would otherwise have been saved.

And the sailors are in the right of it, too.  For instance, a merchant
ship coming home from the Indies, perhaps very rich, meets with a
privateer (not so strong but that she might fight him and perhaps get
off); the captain calls up his crew, tells them, “Gentlemen, you see how
it is; I don’t question but we may clear ourselves of this caper, if you
will stand by me.”  One of the crew, as willing to fight as the rest, and
as far from a coward as the captain, but endowed with a little more wit
than his fellows, replies, “Noble captain, we are all willing to fight,
and don’t question but to beat him off; but here is the case: if we are
taken, we shall be set on shore and then sent home, and lose perhaps our
clothes and a little pay; but if we fight and beat the privateer, perhaps
half a score of us may be wounded and lose our limbs, and then we are
undone and our families.  If you will sign an obligation to us that the
owners or merchants shall allow a pension to such as are maimed, that we
may not fight for the ship, and go a-begging ourselves, we will bring off
the ship or sink by her side; otherwise I am not willing to fight, for my
part.”  The captain cannot do this; so they strike, and the ship and
cargo are lost.

If I should turn this supposed example into a real history, and name the
ship and the captain that did so, it would be too plain to be

Wherefore, for the encouragement of sailors in the service of the
merchant, I would have a friendly society erected for seamen; wherein all
sailors or seafaring men, entering their names, places of abode, and the
voyages they go upon at an office of insurance for seamen, and paying
there a certain small quarterage of 1s. per quarter, should have a sealed
certificate from the governors of the said office for the articles
hereafter mentioned:


If any such seaman, either in fight or by any other accident at sea, come
to be disabled, he should receive from the said office the following sums
of money, either in pension for life, or ready money, as he pleased:

  For the loss of       £                or
                                £ per annum for life
An eye                    25                         2
Both eyes                100                         8
One leg                   50                         4
Both legs                 80                         6
Right hand                80                         6
Left hand                 50                         4
Right arm                100                         8
Left arm                  80                         6
Both hands               160                        12
Both arms                200                        16

Any broken arm, or leg, or thigh, towards the cure £10

If taken by the Turks, £50 towards his ransom.

If he become infirm and unable to go to sea or maintain himself by age or
sickness £6 per annum.

To their wives if they are killed or drowned £50

                                * * * * *

In consideration of this, every seaman subscribing to the society shall
agree to pay to the receipt of the said office his quota of the sum to be
paid whenever, and as often as, such claims are made, the claims to be
entered into the office and upon sufficient proof made, the governors to
regulate the division and publish it in print.

For example, suppose 4,000 seamen subscribe to this society, and after
six months—for no man should claim sooner than six months—a merchant’s
ship having engaged a privateer, there comes several claims together, as

A was wounded and lost one leg                                £50
B blown up with powder, and has lost an eye                    25
C had a great shot took off his arm                           100
D with a splinter had an eye struck out                        25
E was killed with a great shot; to be paid to his wife         50

The governors hereupon settle the claims of these persons, and make
publication “that whereas such and such seamen, members of the society,
have in an engagement with a French privateer been so and so hurt, their
claims upon the office, by the rules and agreement of the said office,
being adjusted by the governors, amounts to £250, which, being equally
divided among the subscribers, comes to 1s. 3d. each, which all persons
that are subscribers to the said office are desired to pay in for their
respective subscriptions, that the said wounded persons may be relieved
accordingly, as they expect to be relieved if the same or the like
casualty should befall them.”

It is but a small matter for a man to contribute, if he gave 1s. 3d. out
of his wages to relieve five wounded men of his own fraternity; but at
the same time to be assured that if he is hurt or maimed he shall have
the same relief, is a thing so rational that hardly anything but a
hare-brained follow, that thinks of nothing, would omit entering himself
into such an office.

I shall not enter further into this affair, because perhaps I may give
the proposal to some persons who may set it on foot, and then the world
may see the benefit of it by the execution.


The same method of friendly society, I conceive, would be a very proper
proposal for widows.

We have abundance of women, who have been bred well and lived well,
ruined in a few years, and perhaps left young with a houseful of children
and nothing to support them, which falls generally upon the wives of the
inferior clergy, or of shopkeepers and artificers.

They marry wives with perhaps £300 to £1,000 portion, and can settle no
jointure upon them.  Either they are extravagant and idle, and waste it;
or trade decays; or losses or a thousand contingencies happen to bring a
tradesman to poverty, and he breaks.  The poor young woman, it may be,
has three or four children, and is driven to a thousand shifts, while he
lies in the Mint or Friars under the dilemma of a statute of bankruptcy;
but if he dies, then she is absolutely undone, unless she has friends to
go to.

Suppose an office to be erected, to be called an office of insurance for
widows, upon the following conditions:

Two thousand women, or their husbands for them, enter their names into a
register to be kept for that purpose, with the names, age, and trade of
their husbands, with the place of their abode, paying at the time of
their entering 5s. down with 1s. 4d. per quarter, which is to the setting
up and support of an office with clerks and all proper officers for the
same; for there is no maintaining such without charge.  They receive
every one of them a certificate sealed by the secretary of the office,
and signed by the governors, for the articles hereafter mentioned:

If any one of the women become a widow at any time after six months from
the date of her subscription, upon due notice given, and claim made at
the office in form as shall be directed, she shall receive within six
mouths after such claim made the sum of £500 in money without any
deductions, saving some small fees to the officers, which the trustees
must settle, that they may be known.

In consideration of this, every woman so subscribing obliges herself to
pay, as often as any member of the society becomes a widow, the due
proportion or share, allotted to her to pay towards the £500 for the said
widow, provided her share does not exceed the sum of 5s.

No seamen’s or soldiers’ wives to be accepted into such a proposal as
this, on the account before mentioned, because the contingencies of their
lives are not equal to others—unless they will admit this general
exception, supposing they do not die out of the kingdom.

It might also be an exception that if the widow that claimed had really,
_bonâ fide_, left her by her husband to her own use, clear of all debts
and legacies, £2,000, she should have no claim, the intent being to aid
the poor, not add to the rich.  But there lie a great many objections
against such an article, as—

1.  It may tempt some to forswear themselves.

2.  People will order their wills so as to defraud the exception.

One exception must be made, and that is, either very unequal matches (as
when a woman of nineteen marries an old man of seventy), or women who
have infirm husbands—I mean, known and publicly so; to remedy which two
things are to be done:

1.  The office must have moving officers without doors, who shall inform
themselves of such matters, and if any such circumstances appear, the
office should have fourteen days’ time to return their money and declare
their subscriptions void.

2.  No woman whose husband had any visible distemper should claim under a
year after her subscription.

One grand objection against this proposal is, how you will oblige people
to pay either their subscription or their quarterage.

To this I answer, by no compulsion (though that might be performed too),
but altogether voluntary; only with this argument to move it, that if
they do not continue their payments, they lose the benefit of their past

I know it lies as a fair objection against such a project as this, that
the number of claims are so uncertain that nobody knows what they engage
in when they subscribe, for so many may die annually out of two thousand
as may make my payment £20 or £25 per annum; and if a woman happen to pay
that for twenty years, though she receives the £500 at last, she is a
great loser; but if she dies before her husband, she has lessened his
estate considerably, and brought a great loss upon him.

First, I say to this that I would have such a proposal as this be so fair
and so easy, that if any person who had subscribed found the payments too
high and the claims fall too often, it should be at their liberty at any
time, upon notice given, to be released, and stand obliged no longer;
and, if so, _volenti non fit injuria_.  Every one knows best what their
own circumstances will bear.

In the next place, because death is a contingency no man can directly
calculate, and all that subscribe must take the hazard; yet that a
prejudice against this notion may not be built on wrong grounds, let us
examine a little the probable hazard, and see how many shall die annually
out of 2,000 subscribers, accounting by the common proportion of burials
to the number of the living.

Sir William Petty, in his political arithmetic, by a very ingenious
calculation, brings the account of burials in London to be one in forty
annually, and proves it by all the proper rules of proportioned
computation; and I will take my scheme from thence.

If, then, one in forty of all the people in England die, that supposes
fifty to die every year out of our two thousand subscribers; and for a
woman to contribute 5s. to every one, would certainly be to agree to pay
£12 10s. per annum. upon her husband’s life, to receive £500 when he
died, and lose it if she died first; and yet this would not be a hazard
beyond reason too great for the gain.

But I shall offer some reasons to prove this to be impossible in our
case: first, Sir William Petty allows the city of London to contain about
a million of people, and our yearly bill of mortality never yet amounted
to 25,000 in the most sickly years we have had (plague years excepted);
sometimes but to 20,000, which is but one in fifty.  Now it is to be
considered here that children and ancient people make up, one time with
another, at least one-third of our bills of mortality, and our assurances
lie upon none but the middling age of the people, which is the only age
wherein life is anything steady; and if that be allowed, there cannot die
by his computation above one in eighty of such people every year; but
because I would be sure to leave room for casualty, I will allow one in
fifty shall die out of our number subscribed.

Secondly, it must be allowed that our payments falling due only on the
death of husbands, this one in fifty must not be reckoned upon the two
thousand, for it is to be supposed at least as many women shall die as
men, and then there is nothing to pay; so that one in fifty upon one
thousand is the most that I can suppose shall claim the contribution in a
year, which is twenty claims a year at 5s. each, and is £5 per annum.
And if a woman pays this for twenty years, and claims at last, she is
gainer enough, and no extraordinary loser if she never claims at all.
And I verily believe any office might undertake to demand at all
adventures not above £6 per annum, and secure the subscriber £500 in case
she come to claim as a widow.

I forbear being more particular on this thought, having occasion to be
larger in other prints, the experiment being resolved upon by some
friends who are pleased to think this too useful a project not to be put
in execution, and therefore I refer the reader to the public practice of

I have named these two cases as special experiments of what might be done
by assurances in way of friendly society; and I believe I might, without
arrogance, affirm that the same thought might be improved into methods
that should prevent the general misery and poverty of mankind, and at
once secure us against beggars, parish poor, almshouses, and hospitals;
and by which not a creature so miserable or so poor but should claim
subsistence as their due, and not ask it of charity.

I cannot believe any creature so wretchedly base as to beg of mere
choice, but either it must proceed from want or sordid prodigious
covetousness; and thence I affirm there can be no beggar but he ought to
be either relieved or punished, or both.  If a man begs for more
covetousness without want, it is a baseness of soul so extremely sordid
as ought to be used with the utmost contempt, and punished with the
correction due to a dog.  If he begs for want, that want is procured by
slothfulness and idleness, or by accident; if the latter, he ought to be
relieved; if the former, he ought to be punished for the cause, but at
the same time relieved also, for no man ought to starve, let his crime be
what it will.

I shall proceed, therefore, to a scheme by which all mankind, be he never
so mean, so poor, so unable, shall gain for himself a just claim to a
comfortable subsistence whosoever age or casualty shall reduce him to a
necessity of making use of it.  There is a poverty so far from being
despicable that it is honourable, when a man by direct casualty, sudden
Providence, and without any procuring of his own, is reduced to want
relief from others, as by fire, shipwreck, loss of limbs, and the like.

These are sometimes so apparent that they command the charity of others;
but there are also many families reduced to decay whose conditions are
not so public, and yet their necessities as great.  Innumerable
circumstances reduce men to want; and pressing poverty obliges some
people to make their cases public, or starve; and from thence came the
custom of begging, which sloth and idleness has improved into a trade.
But the method I propose, thoroughly put in practice, would remove the
cause, and the effect would cease of course.

Want of consideration is the great reason why people do not provide in
their youth and strength for old age and sickness; and the ensuing
proposal is, in short, only this—that all persons in the time of their
health and youth, while they are able to work and spare it, should lay up
some small inconsiderable part of their gettings as a deposit in safe
hands, to lie as a store in bank to relieve them, if by age or accident
they come to be disabled, or incapable to provide for themselves; and
that if God so bless them that they nor theirs never come to need it, the
overplus may be employed to relieve such as shall.

If an office in the same nature with this were appointed in every county
in England, I doubt not but poverty might easily be prevented, and
begging wholly suppressed.


THAT an office be erected in some convenient place, where shall be a
secretary, a clerk, and a searcher, always attending.

That all sorts of people who are labouring people and of honest repute,
of what calling or condition soever, men or women (beggars and soldiers
excepted), who, being sound of their limbs and under fifty years of age,
shall come to the said office and enter their names, trades, and places
of abode into a register to be kept for that purpose, and shall pay down
at the time of the said entering the sum of sixpence, and from thence one
shilling per quarter, shall every one have an assurance under the seal of
the said office for these following conditions:

1.  Every such subscriber, if by any casualty (drunkenness and quarrels
excepted) they break their limbs, dislocate joints, or are dangerously
maimed or bruised, able surgeons appointed for that purpose shall take
them into their care, and endeavour their cure gratis.

2.  If they are at any time dangerously sick, on notice given to the said
office able physicians shall be appointed to visit them, and give their
prescriptions gratis.

3.  If by sickness or accident, as aforesaid, they lose their limbs or
eyes, so as to be visibly disabled to work, and are otherwise poor and
unable to provide for themselves, they shall either be cured at the
charge of the office, or be allowed a pension for subsistence during

4.  If they become lame, aged, bedrid, or by real infirmity of body are
unable to work, and otherwise incapable to provide for themselves, on
proof made that it is really and honestly so they shall be taken into a
college or hospital provided for that purpose, and be decently maintained
during life.

5.  If they are seamen, and die abroad on board the merchants’ ships they
were employed in, or are cast away and drowned, or taken and die in
slavery, their widows shall receive a pension during their widowhood.

6.  If they were tradesmen and paid the parish rates, if by decay and
failure of trade they break and are put in prison for debt, they shall
receive a pension for subsistence during close imprisonment.

7.  If by sickness or accidents they are reduced to extremities of
poverty for a season, on a true representation to the office they shall
be relieved as the governors shall see cause.

It is to be noted that in the fourth article such as by sickness and age
are disabled from work, and poor, shall be taken into the house and
provided for; whereas in the third article they who are blind or have
lost limbs, &c., shall have pensions allowed them.

The reason of this difference is this:

A poor man or woman that has lost his hand, or leg, or sight, is visibly
disabled, and we cannot be deceived; whereas other infirmities are not so
easily judged of, and everybody would be claiming a pension, when but few
will demand being taken into a hospital but such as are really in want.

And that this might be managed with such care and candour as a design
which carries so good a face ought to be, I propose the following method
for putting it into practice:

I suppose every undertaking of such a magnitude must have some principal
agent to push it forward, who must manage and direct everything, always
with direction of the governors.

And first I will suppose one general office erected for the great
parishes of Stepney and Whitechapel; and as I shall lay down afterwards
some methods to oblige all people to come in and subscribe, so I may be
allowed to suppose here that all the inhabitants of those two large
parishes (the meaner labouring sort, I mean) should enter their names,
and that the number of them should be 100,000, as I believe they would be
at least.

First, there should be named fifty of the principal inhabitants of the
said parishes (of which the church-wardens for the time being, and all
the justices of the peace dwelling in the bounds of the said parish, and
the ministers resident for the time being, to be part) to be governors of
the said office.

The said fifty to be first nominated by the Lord Mayor of London for the
time being, and every vacancy to be supplied in ten days at farthest by
the majority of voices of the rest.

The fifty to choose a committee of eleven, to sit twice a week, of whom
three to be a quorum; with a chief governor, a deputy-governor, and a

In the office, a secretary with clerks of his own, a registrar and two
clerks, four searchers, a messenger (one in daily attendance under
salary), a physician, a surgeon, and four visitors.

In the hospital, more or less (according to the number of people
entertained), a housekeeper, a steward, nurses, a porter, and a chaplain.

For the support of this office, and that the deposit money might go to
none but the persons and uses for whom it is paid, and that it might not
be said officers and salaries was the chief end of the undertaking (as in
many a project it has been), I propose that the manager or undertaker,
whom I mentioned before, be the secretary, who shall have a clerk allowed
him, whose business it shall be to keep the register, take the entries,
and give out the tickets (sealed by the governors and signed by himself),
and to enter always the payment of quarterage of every subscriber.  And
that there may be no fraud or connivance, and too great trust be not
reposed in the said secretary, every subscriber who brings his quarterage
is to put it into a great chest, locked up with eleven locks, every
member of the committee to keep a key, so that it cannot be opened but in
the presence of them all; and every time a subscriber pays his
quarterage, the secretary shall give him a sealed ticket thus [Christmas
96] which shall be allowed as the receipt of quarterage for that quarter.

_Note_.—The reason why every subscriber shall take a receipt or ticket
for his quarterage is because this must be the standing law of the
office—that if any subscribers fail to pay their quarterage, they shall
never claim after it until double so much be paid, nor not at all that
quarter, whatever befalls them.

The secretary should be allowed to have 2d. for every ticket of entry he
gives out, and ld. for every receipt he gives for quarterage, to be
accounted for as follows:

One-third to himself in lieu of salary, he being to pay three clerks out
of it.

One-third to the clerks and other officers among them.

And one-third to defray the incident charge of the office.

          _Thus calculated_.                     Per annum.
                                             £          _s._    _d._
100,000 subscribers paying 1d. each            1,666       3       4
every quarter is
To the secretary per annum and three             555       7       9
                          £ per
To a registrar                     100
To a clerk                          50
To four searchers                  100
To a physician                     100
To a surgeon                       100
To four visitors                   100
                                                 550       0       0
               One-third to incident charges, such as
To ten committee-men,              260
5s. each sitting, twice
per week is
To a clerk of                       50
To a messenger                      40
A house for the office              40
A house for the                    100
Contingencies                       70
15_s._ 7_d._                                     560      15       7
                                              £1,666       3       4

All the charge being thus paid out of such a trifle as ld. per quarter,
the next consideration is to examine what the incomes of this
subscription may be, and in time what may be the demands upon it.

                                                £           s.      d.
If 100,000 persons subscribe, they pay           2,500       0       0
down at their entering each 6d., which
And the first year’s payment is in stock        20,000       0       0
at 1s. per quarter
It must be allowed that under three                175       0       0
months the subscriptions will not be
well complete; so the payment of
quarterage shall not begin but from the
day after the books are full, or shut
up; and from thence one year is to pass
before any claim can be made; and the
money coming in at separate times, I
suppose no improvement upon it for the
first year, except of the £2,500, which,
lent to the king on some good fund at £7
per cent. interest, advances the first
The quarterage of the second year,              19,800       0       0
abating for 1,000 claims
And the interest of the first year’s             1,774      10       0
money at the end of the second year,
lent to the king, as aforesaid, at 7 per
cent. interest, is
The quarterage of the third year,               19,400       0       0
abating for claims
The interest of former cash to the end           3,284       8       0
of the third year
                    Income of three years      £66,933      18       0

_Note_.—Any persons may pay 2s. up to 5s. quarterly, if they please, and
upon a claim will be allowed in proportion.

To assign what shall be the charge upon this, where contingency has so
great a share, is not to be done; but by way of political arithmetic a
probable guess may be made.

It is to be noted that the pensions I propose to be paid to persons
claiming by the third, fifth, and sixth articles are thus: every person
who paid 1s. quarterly shall receive 12d. weekly, and so in proportion
every 12d. paid quarterly by any one person to receive so many shillings
weekly, if they come to claim a pension.

The first year no claim is allowed; so the bank has in stock completely
£22,500.  From thence we are to consider the number of claims.

Sir William Petty, in his “Political Arithmetic,” supposes not above one
in forty to die per annum out of the whole number of people; and I can by
no means allow that the circumstances of our claims will be as frequent
as death, for these reasons:

1.  Our subscriptions respect all persons grown and in the prime of their
age; past the first, and providing against the last, part of danger (Sir
William’s account including children and old people, which always make up
one-third of the bills of mortality).

2.  Our claims will fall thin at first for several years; and let but the
money increase for ten years, as it does in the account for three years,
it would be almost sufficient to maintain the whole number.

3.  Allow that casualty and poverty are our debtor side; health,
prosperity, and death are the creditor side of the account; and in all
probable accounts those three articles will carry off three fourth-parts
of the number, as follows: If one in forty shall die annually (as no
doubt they shall, and more), that is 2,500 a year, which in twenty years
is 50,000 of the number; I hope I may be allowed one-third to be out of
condition to claim, apparently living without the help of charity, and
one third in health and body, and able to work; which, put together, make
83,332; so it leaves 16,668 to make claims of charity and pensions in the
first twenty years, and one-half of them must, according to Sir William
Petty, die on our hands in twenty years; so there remains but 8,334.

But to put it out of doubt, beyond the proportion to be guessed at, I
will allow they shall fall thus:

The first year, we are to note, none can claim; and the second year the
number must be very few, but increasing: wherefore I suppose

One in every 500 shall claim the second year, which is             500
200; the charge whereof is
One in every 100 the third year is 1,000; the charge             2,500
Together with the former 200                                       500

To carry on the calculation.

                                               £          _s._    _d._
We find the stock at the end of the             66,933      18       0
third year
The quarterage of the fourth year,              19,000       0       0
abating as before
Interest of the stock                            4,882      17       6
The quarterage of the fifth year                18,600       0       0
Interest of the stock                            6,473       0       0
                                              £115,889      15       6
The charge                                       3,000       0       0
2,000 to fall the fourth year                    5,000       0       0
And the old continued                            3,500       0       0
2,000 the fifth year                             5,000       0       0
The old continued                               11,000       0       0
                                               £27,500       0       0

By this computation the stock is increased above the charge in five years
£89,379 15s. 6d.; and yet here are sundry articles to be considered on
both sides of the account that will necessarily increase the stock and
diminish the charge:

First, in the five years’ time 6,200              3,400       0      0
having claimed charity, the number being
abated for in the reckoning above for
stock, it may be allowed new
subscriptions will be taken in to keep
the number full, which in five years
amounts to
Their sixpences is                                  115       0      0
                                                 £3,555       0      0
Which added to £115,889 15s. 6d. augments       119,444      15      6
be stock to
Six thousand two hundred persons claiming         4,000       0      0
help, which falls, to be sure, on the
aged and infirm, I think, at a modest
computation, in five years’ time 500 of
them may be dead, which, without allowing
annually, we take at an abatement of
£4,000 out of the charge
Which reduces the charge to                      23,500       0      0

Besides this, the interest of the quarterage, which is supposed in the
former account to lie dead till the year is out, which cast up from
quarter to quarter, allowing it to be put out quarterly, as it may well
be, amounts to, by computation for five years, £5,250.

From the fifth year, as near as can be computed, the number of pensioners
being so great, I make no doubt but they shall die off the hands of the
undertaker as fast as they shall fall in, excepting, so much difference
as the payment of every year, which the interest of the stock shall

                              _For example_:

                                               £          _s._    _d._
At the end of the fifth year the stock          94,629      15       6
in hand
The payment of the sixth year                   20,000       0       0
Interest of the stock                            5,408       4       0
                                              £120,037      19       6
Allow an overplus charge for keeping in         10,000       0       0
the house, which will be dearer than
pensions, £10,000 per annum
Charge of the sixth year                        22,500       0       0
Balance in cash                                 87,537      19       6
                                              £120,037      19       6

This also is to be allowed—that all those persons who are kept by the
office in the house shall have employment provided for them, whereby no
persons shall be kept idle, the works to be suited to every one’s
capacity without rigour, only some distinction to those who are most
willing to work; the profits of the said work to the stock of the house.

Besides this, there may great and very profitable methods be found out to
improve the stock beyond the settled interest of 7 per cent., which
perhaps may not always be to be had, for the Exchequer is not always
borrowing money; but a bank of £80,000, employed by faithful hands, need
not want opportunities of great, and very considerable improvement.

Also it would be a very good object for persons who die rich to leave
legacies to, which in time might be very well supposed to raise a
standing revenue to it.

I will not say but various contingencies may alter the charge of this
undertaking, and swell the claims beyond proportion further than I extend
it; but all that, and much more, is sufficiently answered in the
calculations by above £80,000 in stock to provide for it.

As to the calculation being made on a vast number of subscribers, and
more than, perhaps, will be allowed likely to subscribe, I think the
proportion may hold good in a few as well as in a great many; and perhaps
if 20,000 subscribed, it might be as effectual. I am indeed willing to
think all men should have sense enough to see the usefulness of such a
design, and be persuaded by their interest to engage in it; but some men
have less prudence than brutes, and will make no provision against age
till it comes; and to deal with such, two ways might be used by authority
to compel them.

1.  The churchwardens and justices of peace should send the beadle of the
parish, with an officer belonging to this office, about to the poorer
parishioners to tell them that, since such honourable provision is made
for them to secure themselves in old age from poverty and distress, they
should expect no relief from the parish if they refused to enter
themselves, and by sparing so small a part of their earnings to prevent
future misery.

2.  The churchwardens of every parish might refuse the removal of persons
and families into their parish but upon their having entered into this

3.  All persons should be publicly desired to forbear giving anything to
beggars, and all common beggars suppressed after a certain time; for this
would effectually suppress beggary at last.

And, to oblige the parishes to do this on behalf of such a project, the
governor of the house should secure the parish against all charges coming
upon them from any person who did subscribe and pay the quarterage, and
that would most certainly oblige any parish to endeavour that all the
labouring meaner people in the parish should enter their names; for in
time it would most certainly take all the poor in the parish off of their

I know that by law no parish can refuse to relieve any person or family
fallen into distress; and therefore to send them word they must expect no
relief, would seem a vain threatening.  But thus far the parish may do:
they shall be esteemed as persons who deserve no relief, and shall be
used accordingly; for who indeed would ever pity that man in his distress
who at the expense of two pots of beer a month might have prevented it,
and would not spare it?

As to my calculations, on which I do not depend either, I say this: if
they are probable, and that in five years’ time a subscription of a
hundred thousand persons would have £87,537 19s. 6d. in cash, all charges
paid, I desire any one but to reflect what will not such a sum do.  For
instance, were it laid out in the Million Lottery tickets, which are now
sold at £6 each, and bring in £1 per annum for fifteen years, every
£1,000 so laid out pays back in time £2,500, and that time would be as
fast as it would be wanted, and therefore be as good as money; or if laid
out in improving rents, as ground-rents with buildings to devolve in
time, there is no question but a revenue would be raised in time to
maintain one-third part of the number of subscribers, if they should come
to claim charity.

And I desire any man to consider the present state of this kingdom, and
tell me, if all the people of England, old and young, rich and poor, were
to pay into one common bank 4s. per annum a head, and that 4s. duly and
honestly managed, whether the overplus paid by those who die off, and by
those who never come to want, would not in all probability maintain all
that should be poor, and for ever banish beggary and poverty out of the


WAGERING, as now practised by politics and contracts, is become a branch
of assurances; it was before more properly a part of gaming, and as it
deserved, had but a very low esteem; but shifting sides, and the war
providing proper subjects, as the contingencies of sieges, battles,
treaties, and campaigns, it increased to an extraordinary reputation, and
offices were erected on purpose which managed it to a strange degree and
with great advantage, especially to the office-keepers; so that, as has
been computed, there was not less gaged on one side and other, upon the
second siege of Limerick, than two hundred thousand pounds.

How it is managed, and by what trick and artifice it became a trade, and
how insensibly men were drawn into it, an easy account may be given.

I believe novelty was the first wheel that set it on work, and I need
make no reflection upon the power of that charm: it was wholly a new
thing, at least upon the Exchange of London; and the first occasion that
gave it a room among public discourse, was some persons forming wagers on
the return and success of King James, for which the Government took
occasion to use them as they deserved.

I have heard a bookseller in King James’s time say, “That if he would
have a book sell, he would have it burnt by the hand of the common
hangman;” the man, no doubt, valued his profit above his reputation; but
people are so addicted to prosecute a thing that seems forbid, that this
very practice seemed to be encouraged by its being contraband.

The trade increased, and first on the Exchange and then in coffee-houses
it got life, till the brokers, those vermin of trade, got hold of it, and
then particular offices were set apart for it, and an incredible resort
thither was to be seen every day.

These offices had not been long in being, but they were thronged with
sharpers and setters as much as the groom-porters, or any gaming-ordinary
in town, where a man had nothing to do but to make a good figure and
prepare the keeper of the office to give him a credit as a good man, and
though he had not a groat to pay, he should take guineas and sign
polities, till he had received, perhaps, £300 or £400 in money, on
condition to pay great odds, and then success tries the man; if he wins
his fortune is made; if not, he’s a better man than he was before by just
so much money, for as to the debt, he is your humble servant in the
Temple or Whitehall.

But besides those who are but the thieves of the trade, there is a method
as effectual to get money as possible, managed with more appearing
honesty, but no less art, by which the wagerer, in confederacy with the
office-keeper, shall lay vast sums, great odds, and yet be always sure to

For example: A town in Flanders, or elsewhere, during the war is
besieged; perhaps at the beginning of the siege the defence is vigorous,
and relief probable, and it is the opinion of most people the town will
hold out so long, or perhaps not be taken at all: the wagerer has two or
three more of his sort in conjunction, of which always the office-keeper
is one; and they run down all discourse of the taking the town, and offer
great odds it shall not be taken by such a day.  Perhaps this goes on a
week, and then the scale turns; and though they seem to hold the same
opinion still, yet underhand the office-keeper has orders to take all the
odds which by their example was before given against the taking the town;
and so all their first-given odds are easily secured, and yet the people
brought into a vein of betting against the siege of the town too.  Then
they order all the odds to be taken as long as they will run, while they
themselves openly give odds, and sign polities, and oftentimes take their
own money, till they have received perhaps double what they at first
laid.  Then they turn the scale at once, and cry down the town, and lay
that it shall be taken, till the length of the first odds is fully run;
and by this manage, if the town be taken they win perhaps two or three
thousand pounds, and if it be not taken, they are no losers neither.

It is visible by experience, not one town in ten is besieged but it is
taken.  The art of war is so improved, and our generals are so wary, that
an army seldom attempts a siege, but when they are almost sure to go on
with it; and no town can hold out if a relief cannot be had from abroad.

Now, if I can by first laying £500 to £200 with A, that the town shall
not be taken, wheedle in B to lay me £5,000 to £2,000 of the same; and
after that, by bringing down the vogue of the siege, reduce the wagers to
even-hand, and lay £2,000 with C that the town shall not be taken; by
this method, it is plain—

If the town be not taken, I win £2,200 and lose £2,000.

If the town be taken, I win £5,000 and lose £2,500.

This is gaming by rule, and in such a knot it is impossible to lose; for
if it is in any man’s or company of men’s power, by any artifice to alter
the odds, it is in their power to command the money out of every man’s
pocket, who has no more wit than to venture.


OF all persons who are objects of our charity, none move my compassion
like those whom it has pleased God to leave in a full state health and
strength, but deprived of reason to act for themselves.  And it is, in my
opinion, one of the greatest scandals upon the understanding of others to
mock at those who want it.  Upon this account I think the hospital we
call Bedlam to be a noble foundation, a visible instance of the sense our
ancestors had of the greatest unhappiness which can befall humankind;
since as the soul in man distinguishes him from a brute, so where the
soul is dead (for so it is as to acting) no brute so much a beast as a
man.  But since never to have it, and to have lost it, are synonymous in
the effect, I wonder how it came to pass that in the settlement of that
hospital they made no provision for persons born without the use of their
reason, such as we call fools, or, more properly, naturals.

We use such in England with the last contempt, which I think is a strange
error, since though they are useless to the commonwealth, they are only
so by God’s direct providence, and no previous fault.

I think it would very well become this wise age to take care of such; and
perhaps they are a particular rent-charge on the great family of mankind,
left by the Maker of us all, like a younger brother, who though the
estate be given from him, yet his father expected the heir should take
some care of him.

If I were to be asked, Who ought in particular to be charged with this
work? I would answer in general those who have a portion of understanding
extraordinary.  Not that I would lay a tax upon any man’s brains, or
discourage wit by appointing wise men to maintain fools; but, some
tribute is due to God’s goodness for bestowing extraordinary gifts; and
who can it be better paid to than such as suffer for want of the same

For the providing, therefore, some subsistence for such that natural
defects may not be exposed:

It is proposed that a fool-house be erected, either by public authority,
or by the city, or by an Act of Parliament, into which all that are
naturals or born fools, without respect or distinction, should be
admitted and maintained.

For the maintenance of this, a small stated contribution, settled by the
authority of an Act of Parliament, without any damage to the persons
paying the same, might be very easily raised by a tax upon learning, to
be paid by the authors of books:

Every book that shall be printed in folio, from 40 sheets           £5
and upwards, to pay at the licensing (for the whole
Under 40 sheets                                                   40s.
Every quarto                                                      20s.
Every octavo of 10 sheets and upward                              20s.
Every octavo under 10 sheets, and every bound book in 12mo        10s.
Every stitched pamphlet                                            2s.

                     Reprinted copies the same rates.

This tax to be paid into the Chamber of London for the space of twenty
years, would, without question, raise a fund sufficient to build and
purchase a settlement for this house.

I suppose this little tax being to be raised at so few places as the
printing-presses, or the licensers of books, and consequently the charge
but very small in gathering, might bring in about £1,500 per annum for
the term of twenty years, which would perform the work to the degree

The house should be plain and decent (for I don’t think the ostentation
of buildings necessary or suitable to works of charity), and be built
somewhere out of town for the sake of the air.

The building to cost about £1,000, or, if the revenue exceed, to cost
£2,000 at most, and the salaries mean in proportion.

In the House.                                               Per annum.
A steward                                                          £30
A purveyor                                                          20
A cook                                                              20
A butler                                                            20
Six women to assist the cook and clean the house, £4                24
Six nurses to tend the people, £3 each                              18
A chaplain                                                          20
A hundred alms-people at £8 per annum, diet, &c.                   800
The table for the officers, and contingencies, and                 500
clothes for the alms-people, and firing, put together
  An auditor of the accounts, a committee of the governors, and two

Here I suppose £1,500 per annum revenue, to be settled upon the house,
which, it is very probable might be raised from the tax aforesaid.  But
since an Act of Parliament is necessary to be had for the collecting this
duty, and that taxes for keeping of fools would be difficultly obtained,
while they are so much wanted for wise men, I would propose to raise the
money by voluntary charity, which would be a work that would leave more
honour to the undertakers than feasts and great shows, which our public
bodies too much diminish their stocks with.

But to pass all suppositious ways, which are easily thought of, but
hardly procured, I propose to maintain fools out of our own folly.  And
whereas a great deal of money has been thrown about in lotteries, the
following proposal would very easily perfect our work.


That a lottery be set up by the authority of the Lord Mayor and Court of
Aldermen, for a hundred thousand tickets, at twenty shillings each, to be
drawn by the known way and method of drawing lotteries, as the
million-lottery was drawn, in which no allowance to be made to anybody,
but the fortunate to receive the full sum of one hundred thousand pounds
put in, without discount, and yet this double advantage to follow:

1.  That an immediate sum of one hundred thousand pounds shall be raised
and paid into the Exchequer for the public use.

2.  A sum of above twenty thousand pounds be gained, to be put into the
hands of known trustees, to be laid out in a charity for the maintenance
of the poor.

That as soon as the money shall be come in, it shall be paid into the
Exchequer, either on some good fund, if any suitable, or on the credit of
the Exchequer; and that when the lottery is drawn, the fortunate to
receive tallies or bills from the Exchequer for their money, payable at
four years.

The Exchequer receives this money, and gives out tallies according to the
prizes, when it is drawn, all payable at four years; and the interest of
this money for four years is struck in tallies proportioned to the
maintenance; which no parish would refuse that subsisted them wholly

I make no question but that if such a hospital was erected within a mile
or two of the city, one great circumstance would happen, viz., that the
common sort of people, who are very much addicted to rambling in the
fields, would make this house the customary walk, to divert themselves
with the objects to be seen there, and to make what they call sport with
the calamity of others, as is now shamefully allowed in Bedlam.

To prevent this, and that the condition of such, which deserves pity, not
contempt, might not be the more exposed by this charity, it should be
ordered: that the steward of the house be in commission of the peace
within the precincts of the house only, and authorised to punish by
limited fines or otherwise any person that shall offer any abuse to the
poor alms-people, or shall offer to make sport at their condition.

If any person at reading of this should be so impertinent as to ask to
what purpose I would appoint a chaplain in a hospital of fools, I could
answer him very well by saying, for the use of the other persons,
officers, and attendants in the house.  But besides that, pray, why not a
chaplain for fools, as well as for knaves, since both, though in a
different manner, are incapable of reaping any benefit by religion,
unless by some invisible influence they are made docile; and since the
same secret power can restore these to their reason, as must make the
other sensible, pray why not a chaplain?  Idiots indeed were denied the
communion in the primitive churches, but I never read they were not to be
prayed for, or were not admitted to hear.

If we allow any religion, and a Divine Supreme Power, whose influence
works invisibly on the hearts of men (as he must be worse than the people
we talk of, who denies it), we must allow at the same time that Power can
restore the reasoning faculty to an idiot, and it is our part to use the
proper means of supplicating Heaven to that end, leaving the disposing
part to the issue of unalterable Providence.

The wisdom of Providence has not left us without examples of some of the
most stupid natural idiots in the world who have been restored to their
reason, or, as one would think, had reason infused after a long life of
idiotism; perhaps, among other wise ends, to confute that sordid
supposition that idiots have no souls.


THIS chapter has some right to stand next to that of fools, for besides
the common acceptation of late, which makes every unfortunate man a fool,
I think no man so much made a fool of as a bankrupt.

If I may be allowed so much liberty with our laws, which are generally
good, and above all things are tempered with mercy, lenity, and freedom,
this has something in it of barbarity; it gives a loose to the malice and
revenge of the creditor, as well as a power to right himself, while it
leaves the debtor no way to show himself honest.  It contrives all the
ways possible to drive the debtor to despair, and encourages no new
industry, for it makes him perfectly incapable of anything but starving.

This law, especially as it is now frequently executed, tends wholly to
the destruction of the debtor, and yet very little to the advantage of
the creditor.

1.  The severities to the debtor are unreasonable, and, if I may so say,
a little inhuman, for it not only strips him of all in a moment, but
renders him for ever incapable of helping himself, or relieving his
family by future industry.  If he escapes from prison, which is hardly
done too, if he has nothing left, he must starve or live on charity; if
he goes to work no man dare pay him his wages, but he shall pay it again
to the creditors; if he has any private stock left for a subsistence he
can put it nowhere; every man is bound to be a thief and take it from
him; if he trusts it in the hands of a friend he must receive it again as
a great courtesy, for that friend is liable to account for it.  I have
known a poor man prosecuted by a statute to that degree that all he had
left was a little money which he knew not where to hide; at last, that he
might not starve, he gives it to his brother who had entertained him; the
brother, after he had his money quarrels with him to get him out of his
house, and when he desires him to let him have the money lent him, gives
him this for answer, I cannot pay you safely, for there is a statute
against you; which run the poor man to such extremities that he destroyed
himself.  Nothing is more frequent than for men who are reduced by
miscarriage in trade to compound and set up again and get good estates;
but a statute, as we call it, for ever shuts up all doors to the debtor’s
recovery, as if breaking were a crime so capital that he ought to be cast
out of human society and exposed to extremities worse than death.  And,
which will further expose the fruitless severity of this law, it is easy
to make it appear that all this cruelty to the debtor is so far,
generally speaking, from advantaging the creditors, that it destroys the
estate, consumes it in extravagant charges, and unless the debtor be
consenting, seldom makes any considerable dividends.  And I am bold to
say there is no advantage made by the prosecuting of a statute with
severity, but what might be doubly made by methods more merciful.  And
though I am not to prescribe to the legislators of the nation, yet by way
of essay I take leave to give my opinion and my experience in the
methods, consequences, and remedies of this law.

All people know, who remember anything of the times when that law was
made, that the evil it was pointed at was grown very rank, and breaking
to defraud creditors so much a trade, that the parliament had good reason
to set up a fury to deal with it; and I am far from reflecting on the
makers of that law, who, no question, saw it was necessary at that time.
But as laws, though in themselves good, are more or less so, as they are
more or less seasonable, squared, and adapted to the circumstances and
time of the evil they are made against; so it were worth while (with
submission) for the same authority to examine:

1.  Whether the length of time since that act was made has not given
opportunity to debtors,

  (1)  To evade the force of the act by ways and shifts to avoid the
  power of it, and secure their estates out of the reach of it.

  (2)  To turn the point of it against those whom it was made to relieve.
  Since we see frequently now that bankrupts desire statutes, and procure
  them to be taken out against themselves.

2.  Whether the extremities of this law are not often carried on beyond
the true intent and meaning of the act itself by persons who, besides
being creditors, are also malicious, and gratify their private revenge by
prosecuting the offender, to the ruin of his family.

If these two points are to be proved, then I am sure it will follow that
this act is now a public grievance to the nation, and I doubt not but
will be one time or other repealed by the same wise authority which made

1.  Time and experience has furnished the debtors with ways and means to
evade the force of this statute, and to secure their estate against the
reach of it, which renders it often insignificant, and consequently, the
knave against whom the law was particularly bent gets off, while he only
who fails of mere necessity, and whose honest principle will not permit
him to practise those methods, is exposed to the fury of this act.  And
as things are now ordered, nothing is more easy than for a man to order
his estate so that a statute shall have no power over it, or at least but
a little.

If the bankrupt be a merchant, no statute can reach his effects beyond
the seas; so that he has nothing to secure but his books, and away he
goes into the Friars.  If a Shopkeeper, he has more difficulty: but that
is made easy, for there are men and carts to be had whose trade it is,
and who in one night shall remove the greatest warehouse of goods or
cellar of wines in the town and carry them off into those nurseries of
rogues, the Mint and Friars; and our constables and watch, who are the
allowed magistrates of the night, and who shall stop a poor little
lurking thief, that it may be has stole a bundle of old clothes, worth
five shilling, shall let them all pass without any disturbance, and
hundred honest men robbed of their estates before their faces, to the
eternal infamy of the justice of the nation.

And were a man but to hear the discourse among the inhabitants of those
dens of thieves, when they first swarm about a new-comer to comfort him,
for they are not all hardened to a like degree at once.  “Well,” says the
first, “come, don’t be concerned, you have got a good parcel of goods
away I promise you, you need not value all the world.”  “All! would I had
done so,” says another, “I’d a laughed at all my creditors.”  “Ay,” says
the young proficient in the hardened trade, “but my creditors!”  “Hang
the creditors!” says a third; “why, there’s such a one, and such a one,
they have creditors too, and they won’t agree with them, and here they
live like gentlemen, and care not a farthing for them.  Offer your
creditors half a crown in the pound, and pay it them in old debts, and if
they won’t take it let them alone; they’ll come after you, never fear
it.”  “Oh! but a statute,” says he again.  “Oh! but the devil,” cries the
Minter.  “Why, ’tis the statutes we live by,” say they; “why, if it were
not for statutes, creditors would comply, and debtors would compound, and
we honest fellows here of the Mint would be starved.  Prithee, what need
you care for a statute?  A thousand statutes can’t reach you here.”  This
is the language of the country, and the new-comer soon learns to speak
it; for I think I may say, without wronging any man, I have known many a
man go in among them honest, that is, without ill design, but I never
knew one come away so again.  Then comes a graver sort among this black
crew (for here, as in hell, are fiends of degrees and different
magnitude), and he falls into discourse with the new-comer, and gives him
more solid advice.  “Look you, sir, I am concerned to see you melancholy;
I am in your circumstance too, and if you’ll accept of it, I’ll give you
the best advice I can,” and so begins the grave discourse.

The man is in too much trouble not to want counsel, so he thanks him, and
he goes on:—“Send a summons to your creditors, and offer them what you
can propose in the pound (always reserving a good stock to begin the
world again), which if they will take, you are a free man, and better
than you were before; if they won’t take it, you know the worst of it,
you are on the better side of the hedge with them: if they will not take
it, but will proceed to a statute, you have nothing to do but to oppose
force with force; for the laws of nature tell you, you must not starve;
and a statute is so barbarous, so unjust, so malicious a way of
proceeding against a man, that I do not think any debtor obliged to
consider anything but his own preservation, when once they go on with
that.”  “For why,” says the old studied wretch, “should the creditors
spend your estate in the commission, and then demand the debt of you too?
Do you owe anything to the commission of the statute?”  “No,” says he.
“Why, then,” says he, “I warrant their charges will come to £200 out of
your estate, and they must have 10s. a day for starving you and your
family.  I cannot see why any man should think I am bound in conscience
to pay the extravagance of other men.  If my creditors spend £500 in
getting in my estate by a statute, which I offered to surrender without
it, I’ll reckon that £500 paid them, let them take it among them, for
equity is due to a bankrupt as well as to any man, and if the laws do not
give it us, we must take it.”

This is too rational discourse not to please him, and he proceeds by this
advice; the creditors cannot agree, but take out a statute; and the man
that offered at first it may be 10s. in the pound, is kept in that cursed
place till he has spent it all and can offer nothing, and then gets away
beyond sea, or after a long consumption gets off by an act of relief to
poor debtors, and all the charges of the statute fall among the
creditors.  Thus I knew a statute taken out against a shopkeeper in the
country, and a considerable parcel of goods too seized, and yet the
creditors, what with charges and two or three suits at law, lost their
whole debts and 8s. per pound contribution money for charges, and the
poor debtor, like a man under the surgeon’s hand, died in the operation.

2.  Another evil that time and experience has brought to light from this
act is, when the debtor himself shall confederate with some particular
creditor to take out a statute, and this is a masterpiece of plot and
intrigue.  For perhaps some creditor honestly received in the way of
trade a large sum of money of the debtor for goods sold him when he was
_sui juris_, and he by consent shall own himself a bankrupt before that
time, and the statute shall reach back to bring in an honest man’s
estate, to help pay a rogue’s debt.  Or a man shall go and borrow a sum
of money upon a parcel of goods, and lay them to pledge; he keeps the
money, and the statute shall fetch away the goods to help forward the
composition.  These are tricks I can give too good an account of, having
more than once suffered by the experiment.  I could give a scheme, of
more ways, but I think it is needless to prove the necessity of laying
aside that law, which is pernicious to both debtor and creditor, and
chiefly hurtful to the honest man whom it was made to preserve.

The next inquiry is, whether the extremities of this law are not often
carried on beyond the true intent and meaning of the act itself, for
malicious and private ends to gratify passion and revenge?

I remember the answer a person gave me, who had taken out statutes
against several persons, and some his near relations, who had failed in
his debt; and when I was one time dissuading him from prosecuting a man
who owed me money as well as him, I used this argument with him:—“You
know the man has nothing left to pay.”  “That’s true,” says he; “I know
that well enough.”  “To what purpose, then,” said I, “will you prosecute
him?”  “Why, revenge is sweet,” said he.  Now a man that will prosecute a
debtor, not as a debtor, but by way of revenge, such a man is, I think,
not intentionally within the benefit of our law.

In order to state the case right, there are four sorts of people to be
considered in this discourse; and the true case is how to distinguish

1.  There is the honest debtor, who fails by visible necessity, losses,
sickness, decay of trade, or the like.

2.  The knavish, designing, or idle, extravagant debtor, who fails
because either he has run out his estate in excesses, or on purpose to
cheat and abuse his creditors.

3.  There is the moderate creditor, who seeks but his own, but will omit
no lawful means to gain it, and yet will hear reasonable and just
arguments and proposals.

4.  There is the rigorous severe creditor, that values not whether the
debtor be honest man or knave, able or unable, but will have his debt,
whether it be to be had or no, without mercy, without compassion, full of
ill language, passion, and revenge.

How to make a law to suit to all these is the case.  That a necessary
favour might be shown to the first, in pity and compassion to the
unfortunate, in commiseration of casualty and poverty, which no man is
exempt from the danger of.  That a due rigour and restraint be laid upon
the second, that villainy and knavery might not be encouraged by a law.
That a due care be taken of the third, that men’s estates may as far as
can be secured to them.  And due limits set to the last, that no man may
have an unlimited power over his fellow-subjects, to the ruin of both
life and estate.

All which I humbly conceive might be brought to pass by the following
method, to which I give the title of

_A Court of Inquiries_.

This court should consist of a select number of persons, to be chosen
yearly out of the several wards of the City by the Lord Mayor and Court
of Aldermen, and out of the several Inns of Court by the Lord Chancellor,
or Lord Keeper, for the time being, and to consist of,

A President,                        } To be chosen by the rest, and
                                    named every year also.
A Secretary,

A Treasurer,
A judge of causes for the proof of debts.
Fifty-two citizens, out of every ward two; of which number to be
twelve merchants.
Two lawyers (barristers at least) out of each of the Inns of Court.

That a Commission of Inquiry into bankrupts’ estates be given to these,
confirmed and settled by Act of Parliament, with power to hear, try, and
determine causes as to proof of debts, and disputes in accounts between
debtor and creditor, without appeal.

The office for this court to be at Guildhall, where clerks should be
always attending, and a quorum of the commissioners to sit _de die in
diem_, from three to six o’clock in the afternoon.

To this court every man who finds himself pressed by his affairs, so that
he cannot carry on his business, shall apply himself as follows:—

He shall go to the secretary’s office, and give in his name, with this
short petition:—

    To the Honourable the President and Commissioners of His Majesty’s
    Court of Inquiries.  The humble petition of A. B., of the Parish of —
    in the —



    That your petitioner being unable to carry on his business, by reason
    of great losses and decay of trade, and being ready and willing to
    make a full and entire discovery of his whole estate, and to deliver
    up the same to your honours upon oath, as the law directs for the
    satisfaction of his creditors, and having to that purpose entered his
    name into the books of your office on the — of this instant.

    Your petitioner humbly prays the protection of this Honourable Court.

                                                  And shall ever pray, &c.

The secretary is to lay this petition before the commissioners, who shall
sign it of course; and the petitioner shall have an officer sent home
with him immediately, who shall take possession of his house and goods,
and an exact inventory of everything therein shall be taken at his
entrance by other officers also, appointed by the court; according to
which inventory the first officer and the bankrupt also shall be

This officer shall supersede even the Sheriff in possession, excepting by
an extent for the king; only with this provision:—

That if the Sheriff be in possession by warrant on judgment obtained by
due course of law, and without fraud or deceit, and, _bonâ fide_, in
possession before the debtor entered his name in the office, in such case
the plaintiff to have a double dividend allotted to his debt; for it was
the fault of the debtor to let execution come upon his goods before he
sought for protection; but this not to be allowed upon judgment

If the Sheriff be in possession by _fieri facias_ for debt immediately
due to the king, the officer, however, shall quit his possession to the
commissioners, and they shall see the king’s debt fully satisfied before
any division be made to the creditors.

The officers in this case to take no fee from the bankrupt, nor to use
any indecent or uncivil behaviour to the family (which is a most
notorious abuse now permitted to the sheriff’s officers), whose fees I
have known, on small executions, on pretence of civility, amount to as
much as the debt, and yet behave themselves with unsufferable insolence
all the while.

This officer being in possession, the goods may be removed, or not
removed; the shop shut up or not shut up; as the bankrupt upon his
reasons given to the commissioners may desire.

The inventory being taken, the bankrupt shall have fourteen days’ time,
and more if desired, upon showing good reasons to the commissioners, to
settle his books and draw up his accounts; and then shall deliver up all
his books, together with a full and true account of his whole estate,
real and personal, to which account he shall make oath, and afterwards to
any particular of it, if the commissioners require.

After this account given in, the commissioners shall have power to
examine upon oath all his servants, or any other person; and if it
appears that he has concealed anything, in breach of his oath, to punish
him, as is hereafter specified.

Upon a fair and just surrender of all his estate and effects, _bonâ
fide_, according to the true intent and meaning of the act, the
commissioners shall return to him in money, or such of his goods as he
shall choose, at a value by a just appraisement, £5 per cent. of all the
estate he surrendered, together with a full and free discharge from all
his creditors.

The remainder of the estate of the debtor to be fairly and equally
divided among the creditors, who are to apply themselves to the
commissioners.  The commissioners to make a necessary inquiry into the
nature and circumstances of the debts demanded, that no pretended debt be
claimed for the private account of the debtor; in order to which inquiry
they shall administer the following oath to the creditor, for the proof
of the debt.

    I, A. B., do solemnly swear and attest that the account hereto
    annexed is true and right, and every article therein rightly and
    truly stated and charged in the names of the persons to whom they
    belong; and that there is no person or name named, concealed, or
    altered in the said account by me, or by my knowledge, order, or
    consent.  And that the said — does really and _bonâ fide_ owe and
    stand indebted to me for my own proper account the full sum of —
    mentioned in the said account, and that for a fair and just value
    made good to him, as by the said account expressed; and also that I
    have not made or known of any private contract, promise, or agreement
    between him the said — (or any body for him) and me, or any person

                                                           So help me God.

Upon this oath, and no circumstances to render the person suspected, the
creditor shall have an unquestioned right to his dividend, which shall be
made without the delays and charges that attend the commissions of
bankrupts.  For,

1.  The goods of the debtor shall upon the first meeting of the creditors
be either sold in parcels, as they shall agree, or divided among them in
due proportion to their debts.

2.  What debts are standing out, the debtors shall receive summonses from
the commissioners, to pay by a certain time limited; and in the meantime
the secretary is to transmit accounts to the persons owing it, appointing
them a reasonable time to consent or disprove the account.

And every six months a just dividend shall be made among the creditors of
the money received; and so, if the effects lie abroad, authentic
procurations shall be signed by the bankrupt to the commissioners, who
thereupon correspond with the persons abroad, in whose hands such effects
are, who are to remit the same as the commissioners order; the dividend
to be made, as before, every six months, or oftener, if the court see

If any man thinks the bankrupt has so much favour by these articles, that
those who can dispense with an oath have an opportunity to cheat their
creditors, and that hereby too much encouragement is given to men to turn
bankrupt; let them consider the easiness of the discovery, the difficulty
of a concealment, and the penalty on the offender.

1.  I would have a reward of 30 per cent. be provided to be paid to any
person who should make discovery of any part of the bankrupt’s estate
concealed by him, which would make discoveries easy and frequent.

2.  Any person who should claim any debt among the creditors, for the
account of the bankrupt, or his wife or children, or with design to
relieve them out of it, other or more than is, _bonâ fide_, due to him
for value received, and to be made out; or any person who shall receive
in trust, or by deed of gift, any part of the goods or other estate of
the bankrupt, with design to preserve them for the use of the said
bankrupt, or his wife or children, or with design to conceal them from
the creditors, shall forfeit for every such act £500, and have his name
published as a cheat, and a person not fit to be credited by any man.
This would make it very difficult for the bankrupt to conceal anything.

3.  The bankrupt having given his name, and put the officer into
possession, shall not remove out of the house any of his books; but
during the fourteen days’ time which he shall have to settle the accounts
shall every night deliver the books into the hands of the officer; and
the commissioners shall have liberty, if they please, to take the books
the first day, and cause duplicates to be made, and then to give them
back to the bankrupt to settle the accounts.

4.  If it shall appear that the bankrupt has given in a false account,
has concealed any part of his goods or debts, in breach of his oath, he
shall be set in the pillory at his own door, and be imprisoned during
life without bail.

5.  To prevent the bankrupt concealing any debts abroad, it should be
enacted that the name of the bankrupt being entered at the office, where
every man might search gratis, should be publication enough; and that
after such entry, no discharge from the bankrupt should be allowed in
account to any man, but whoever would adventure to pay any money to the
said bankrupt or his order should be still debtor to the estate, and pay
it again to the commissioners.

And whereas wiser heads than mine must be employed to compose this law,
if ever it be made, they will have time to consider of more ways to
secure the estate for the creditors, and, if possible, to tie the hands
of the bankrupt yet faster.

This law, if ever such a happiness should arise to this kingdom, would be
a present remedy for a multitude of evils which now we feel, and which
are a sensible detriment to the trade of this nation.

1.  With submission, I question not but it would prevent a great number
of bankrupts, which now fall by divers causes.  For,

  (1.)  It would effectually remove all crafty designed breakings, by
  which many honest men are ruined.  And

  (2.)  Of course ’twould prevent the fall of those tradesmen who are
  forced to break by the knavery of such.

2.  It would effectually suppress all those sanctuaries and refuges of
thieves, the Mint, Friars, Savoy, Rules, and the like; and that these two

  (1.)  Honest men would have no need of it, here being a more safe,
  easy, and more honourable way to get out of trouble.

  (2.)  Knaves should have no protection from those places, and the Act
  be fortified against those places by the following clauses, which I
  have on purpose reserved to this head.

Since the provision this court of inquiries makes for the ease and
deliverance of every debtor who is honest is so considerable, ’tis most
certain that no man but he who has a design to cheat his creditors will
refuse to accept of the favour; and therefore it should be enacted,

That if any man who is a tradesman or merchant shall break or fail, or
shut up shop, or leave off trade, and shall not either pay or secure to
his creditors their full and whole debts, twenty shillings in the pound,
without abatement or deduction; or shall convey away their books or
goods, in order to bring their creditors to any composition; or shall not
apply to this office as aforesaid, shall be guilty of felony, and upon
conviction of the same shall suffer as a felon, without benefit of

And if any such person shall take sanctuary either in the Mint, Friars,
or other pretended privilege place, or shall convey thither any of their
goods as aforesaid, to secure them from their creditors, upon complaint
thereof made to any of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, they shall
immediately grant warrants to the constable, &c., to search for the said
persons and goods, who shall be aided and assisted by the trained bands,
if need be, without any charge to the creditors, to search for, and
discover the said persons and goods; and whoever were aiding in the
carrying in the said goods, or whoever knowingly received either the
goods or the person, should be also guilty of felony.

For as the indigent debtor is a branch of the commonwealth which deserves
its care, so the wilful bankrupt is one of the worst sort of thieves.
And it seems a little unequal that a poor fellow who for mere want steals
from his neighbour some trifle shall be sent out of the kingdom, and
sometimes out of the world, while a sort of people who defy justice, and
violently resist the law, shall be suffered to carry men’s estates away
before their faces, and no officers to be found who dare execute the law
upon them.

Any man would be concerned to hear with what scandal and reproach
foreigners do speak of the impotence of our constitution in this point;
that in a civilised Government, as ours is, the strangest contempt of
authority is shown that can be instanced in the world.

I may be a little the warmer on this head, on account that I have been a
larger sufferer by such means than ordinary.  But I appeal to all the
world as to the equity of the case.  What the difference is between
having my house broken up in the night to be robbed, and a man coming in
good credit, and with a proffer of ready money in the middle of the day,
and buying £500 of goods, and carrying them directly from my warehouse
into the Mint, and the next day laugh at me, and bid me defiance; yet
this I have seen done.  I think ’tis the justest thing in the world that
the last should be esteemed the greater thief, and deserves most to be

I have seen a creditor come with his wife and children, and beg of the
debtor only to let him have part of his own goods again, which he had
bought, knowing and designing to break.  I have seen him with tears and
entreaties petition for his own, or but some of it, and be taunted and
sworn at, and denied by a saucy insolent bankrupt.  That the poor man has
been wholly ruined by the cheat.  It is by the villainy of such many an
honest man is undone, families starved and sent a begging, and yet no
punishment prescribed by our laws for it.

By the aforesaid commission of inquiry all this might be most effectually
prevented, an honest, indigent tradesman preserved, knavery detected and
punished; Mints, Friars, and privilege-places suppressed, and without
doubt a great number of insolencies avoided and prevented; of which many
more particulars might be insisted upon, but I think these may be
sufficient to lead anybody into the thought; and for the method, I leave
it to the wise heads of the nation, who know better than I how to state
the law to the circumstances of the crime.


WE have in England fewer of these than in any part of the world, at least
where learning is in so much esteem.  But to make amends, the two great
seminaries we have are, without comparison, the greatest, I won’t say the
best, in the world; and though much might be said here concerning
universities in general, and foreign academies in particular, I content
myself with noting that part in which we seem defective.  The French, who
justly value themselves upon erecting the most celebrated academy of
Europe, owe the lustre of it very much to the great encouragement the
kings of France have given to it.  And one of the members making a speech
at his entrance tells you that it is not the least of the glories of
their invincible monarch to have engrossed all the learning of the world
in that sublime body.

The peculiar study of the academy of Paris has been to refine and correct
their own language, which they have done to that happy degree that we see
it now spoken in all the courts of Christendom, as the language allowed
to be most universal.

I had the honour once to be a member of a small society, who seemed to
offer at this noble design in England.  But the greatness of the work,
and the modesty of the gentlemen concerned, prevailed with them to desist
an enterprise which appeared too great for private hands to undertake.
We want, indeed, a Richelieu to commence such a work.  For I am persuaded
were there such a genius in our kingdom to lead the way, there would not
want capacities who could carry on the work to a glory equal to all that
has gone before them.  The English tongue is a subject not at all less
worthy the labour of such a society than the French, and capable of a
much greater perfection.  The learned among the French will own that the
comprehensiveness of expression is a glory in which the English tongue
not only equals but excels its neighbours; Rapin, St. Evremont, and the
most eminent French authors have acknowledged it.  And my lord Roscommon,
who is allowed to be a good judge of English, because he wrote it as
exactly as any ever did, expresses what I mean in these lines:—

   “For who did ever in French authors see
   The comprehensive English energy?
   The weighty bullion of one sterling line,
   Drawn to French wire would through whole pages shine.”

“And if our neighbours will yield us, as their greatest critic has done,
the preference for sublimity and nobleness of style, we will willingly
quit all pretensions to their insignificant gaiety.”

It is great pity that a subject so noble should not have some as noble to
attempt it.  And for a method, what greater can be set before us than the
academy of Paris?  Which, to give the French their due, stands foremost
among all the great attempts in the learned part of the world.

The present King of England, of whom we have seen the whole world writing
panegyrics and encomiums, and whom his enemies, when their interest does
not silence them, are apt to say more of than ourselves; as in the war he
has given surprising instances of a greatness of spirit more than common:
so in peace, I daresay, with submission, he shall never have an
opportunity to illustrate his memory more than by such a foundation.  By
which he shall have opportunity to darken the glory of the French king in
peace, as he has by his daring attempts in the war.

Nothing but pride loves to be flattered, and that only as it is a vice
which blinds us to our own imperfections.  I think princes as
particularly unhappy in having their good actions magnified as their evil
actions covered.  But King William, who has already won praise by the
steps of dangerous virtue, seems reserved for some actions which are
above the touch of flattery, whose praise is in themselves.

And such would this be.  And because I am speaking of a work which seems
to be proper only for the hand of the king himself, I shall not presume
to carry on this chapter to the model, as I have done in other subjects.
Only thus far:

That a society be erected by the king himself, if his Majesty thought
fit, and composed of none but persons of the first figure in learning;
and it were to be wished our gentry were so much lovers of learning that
birth might always be joined with capacity.

The work of this society should be to encourage polite learning, to
polish and refine the English tongue, and advance the so much neglected
faculty of correct language, to establish purity and propriety of style,
and to purge it from all the irregular additions that ignorance and
affectation have introduced; and all those innovations in speech, if I
may call them such, which some dogmatic writers have the confidence to
foster upon their native language, as if their authority were sufficient
to make their own fancy legitimate.

By such a society I daresay the true glory of our English style would
appear; and among all the learned part of the world be esteemed, as it
really is, the noblest and most comprehensive of all the vulgar languages
in the world.

Into this society should be admitted none but persons eminent for
learning, and yet none, or but very few, whose business or trade was
learning.  For I may be allowed, I suppose, to say we have seen many
great scholars mere learned men, and graduates in the last degree of
study, whose English has been far from polite, full of stiffness and
affectation, hard words, and long unusual coupling of syllables and
sentences, which sound harsh and untuneable to the ear, and shock the
reader both in expression and understanding.

In short, there should be room in this society for neither clergyman,
physician, nor lawyer.  Not that I would put an affront upon the learning
of any of those honourable employments, much less upon their persons.
But if I do think that their several professions do naturally and
severally prescribe habits of speech to them peculiar to their practice,
and prejudicial to the study I speak of, I believe I do them no wrong.
Nor do I deny but there may be, and now are, among some of all those
professions men of style and language, great masters of English, whom few
men will undertake to correct; and where such do at any time appear,
their extraordinary merit should find them a place in this society; but
it should be rare, and upon very extraordinary occasions that such be

I would therefore have this society wholly composed of gentlemen; whereof
twelve to be of the nobility, if possible, and twelve private gentlemen,
and a class of twelve to be left open for mere merit, let it be found in
who or what sort it would, which should lie as the crown of their study,
who have done something eminent to deserve it.  The voice of this society
should be sufficient authority for the usage of words, and sufficient
also to expose the innovations of other men’s fancies; they should
preside with a sort of judicature over the learning of the age, and have
liberty to correct and censure the exorbitance of writers, especially of
translators.  The reputation of this society would be enough to make them
the allowed judges of style and language, and no author would have the
impudence to coin without their authority.  Custom, which is now our best
authority for words, would always have its original here, and not be
allowed without it.  There should be no more occasion to search for
derivations and constructions, and ’twould be as criminal then to coin
words as money.

The exercises of this society would be lectures on the English tongue,
essays on the nature, original, usage, authorities, and differences of
words, or the propriety, parity, and cadence of style, and of the
politeness and manner in writing; reflections upon irregular usages, and
corrections of erroneous customs in words; and, in short, everything that
would appear necessary to the bringing our English tongue to a due
perfection, and our gentlemen to a capacity of writing like themselves;
to banish pride and pedantry, and silence the impudence and impertinence
of young authors, whose ambition is to be known, though it be by their

I ask leave here for a thought or two about that inundation custom has
made upon our language and discourse by familiar swearing; and I place it
here, because custom has so far prevailed in this foolish vice that a
man’s discourse is hardly agreeable without it; and some have taken upon
them to say it is pity it should not be lawful, it is such a grace in a
man’s speech, and adds so much vigour to his language.

I desire to be understood right, and that by swearing I mean all those
cursory oaths, curses, execrations, imprecations, asseverations, and by
whatsoever other names they are distinguished, which are used in
vehemence of discourse, in the mouths almost of all men more or less, of
what sort soever.

I am not about to argue anything of their being sinful and unlawful, as
forbid by divine rules; let the parson alone to tell you that, who has,
no question, said as much to as little purpose in this case as in any
other.  But I am of the opinion that there is nothing so impertinent, so
insignificant, so senseless, and foolish as our vulgar way of discourse
when mixed with oaths and curses, and I would only recommend a little
consideration to our gentlemen, who have sense and wit enough, and would
be ashamed to speak nonsense in other things, but value themselves upon
their parts, I would but ask them to put into writing the commonplaces of
their discourse, and read them over again, and examine the English, the
cadence, the grammar of them; then let then turn them into Latin, or
translate them into any other language, and but see what a jargon and
confusion of speech they make together.

Swearing, that lewdness of the tongue, that scum and excrement of the
mouth, is of all vices the most foolish and senseless.  It makes a man’s
conversation unpleasant, his discourse fruitless, and his language

It makes conversation unpleasant, at least to those who do not use the
same foolish way of discourse, and, indeed, is an affront to all the
company who swear not as he does; for if I swear and curse in company I
either presume all the company likes it or affront them who do not.

Then it is fruitless; for no man is believed a jot the more for all the
asseverations, damnings, and swearings he makes.  Those who are used to
it themselves do not believe a man the more because they know they are so
customary that they signify little to bind a man’s intention, and they
who practise them not have so mean an opinion of those that do as makes
them think they deserve no belief.

Then, they are the spoilers and destroyers of a man’s discourse, and turn
it into perfect nonsense; and to make it out I must descend a little to
particulars, and desire the reader a little to foul his mouth with the
brutish, sordid, senseless expressions which some gentlemen call polite
English, and speaking with a grace.

Some part of them indeed, though they are foolish enough, as effects of a
mad, inconsiderate rage, are yet English; as when a man swears he will do
this or, that, and it may be adds, “God damn him he will;” that is, “God
damn him if he don’t.”  This, though it be horrid in another sense, yet
may be read in writing, and is English: but what language is this?

“Jack, God damn me, Jack, how dost do?  How hast thou done this long
time, by God?”  And then they kiss; and the other, as lewd as himself,
goes on:—

“Dear Tom, I am glad to see thee with all my heart, let me die.  Come,
let us go take a bottle, we must not part so; pr’ythee let’s go and be
drunk by God.”

This is some of our new florid language, and the graces and delicacies of
style, which if it were put into Latin, I would fain know which is the
principal verb.

But for a little further remembrance of this impertinence, go among the
gamesters, and there nothing is more frequent than, “God damn the dice,”
or “God damn the bowls.”

Among the sportsmen it is, “God damn the hounds,” when they are at a
fault; or, “God damn the horse,” if he baulks a leap.  They call men
“sons of —,” and “dogs,” and innumerable instances may be given of the
like gallantry of language, grown now so much a custom.

It is true, custom is allowed to be our best authority for words, and it
is fit it should be so; but reason must be the judge of sense in
language, and custom can never prevail over it.  Words, indeed, like
ceremonies in religion, may be submitted to the magistrate; but sense,
like the essentials, is positive, unalterable, and cannot be submitted to
any jurisdiction; it is a law to itself; it is ever the same; even an Act
of Parliament cannot alter it.

Words, and even usages in style, may be altered by custom, and
proprieties in speech differ according to the several dialects of the
country, and according to the different manner in which several languages
do severally express themselves.

But there is a direct signification of words, or a cadence in expression,
which we call speaking sense; this, like truth, is sullen and the same,
ever was and will be so, in what manner, and in what language soever it
is expressed.  Words without it are only noise, which any brute can make
as well as we, and birds much better; for words without sense make but
dull music.  Thus a man may speak in words, but perfectly unintelligible
as to meaning; he may talk a great deal, but say nothing.  But it is the
proper position of words, adapted to their significations, which makes
them intelligible, and conveys the meaning of the speaker to the
understanding of the hearer; the contrary to which we call nonsense; and
there is a superfluous crowding in of insignificant words, more than are
needful to express the thing intended, and this is impertinence; and that
again, carried to an extreme, is ridiculous.

Thus when our discourse is interlined with needless oaths, curses, and
long parentheses of imprecations, and with some of very indirect
signification, they become very impertinent; and these being run to the
extravagant degree instanced in before, become perfectly ridiculous and
nonsense, and without forming it into an argument, it appears to be
nonsense by the contradictoriness; and it appears impertinent by the
insignificancy of the expression.

After all, how little it becomes a gentleman to debauch his mouth with
foul language, I refer to themselves in a few particulars.

This vicious custom has prevailed upon good manners too far; but yet
there are some degrees to which it has not yet arrived.

As, first, the worst slaves to this folly will neither teach it to nor
approve of it in their children.  Some of the most careless will indeed
negatively teach it by not reproving them for it; but sure no man ever
ordered his children to be taught to curse or swear.

2.  The grace of swearing has not obtained to be a mode yet among the
women: “God damn ye” does not fit well upon a female tongue; it seems to
be a masculine vice, which the women are not arrived to yet; and I would
only desire those gentlemen who practice it themselves to hear a woman
swear: it has no music at all there, I am sure; and just as little does
it become any gentleman, if he would suffer himself to be judged by all
the laws of sense or good manners in the world.

It is a senseless, foolish, ridiculous practice; it is a mean to no
manner of end; it is words spoken which signify nothing; it is folly
acted for the sake of folly, which is a thing even the devil himself
don’t practice.  The devil does evil, we say, but it is for some design,
either to seduce others, or, as some divines say, from a principle of
enmity to his Maker.  Men steal for gain, and murder to gratify their
avarice or revenge; whoredoms and ravishments, adulteries and sodomy, are
committed to please a vicious appetite, and have always alluring objects;
and generally all vices have some previous cause, and some visible
tendency.  But this, of all vicious practices, seems the most nonsensical
and ridiculous; there is neither pleasure nor profit, no design pursued,
no lust gratified, but is a mere frenzy of the tongue, a vomit of the
brain, which works by putting a contrary upon the course of nature.

Again, other vices men find some reason or other to give for, or excuses
to palliate.  Men plead want to extenuate theft, and strong provocations
to excuse murders, and many a lame excuse they will bring for whoring;
but this sordid habit even those that practise it will own to be a crime,
and make no excuse for it; and the most I could ever hear a man say for
it was that he could not help it.

Besides, as it is an inexcusable impertinence, so it is a breach upon
good manners and conversation, for a man to impose the clamour of his
oaths upon the company he converses with; if there be any one person in
the company that does not approve the way, it is an imposing upon him
with a freedom beyond civility.

To suppress this, laws, Acts of Parliament, and proclamations are baubles
and banters, the laughter of the lewd party, and never had, as I could
perceive, any influence upon the practice; nor are any of our magistrates
fond or forward of putting them in execution.

It must be example, not penalties, must sink this crime; and if the
gentlemen of England would once drop it as a mode, the vice is so foolish
and ridiculous in itself, it would soon grow odious and out of fashion.

This work such an academy might begin, and I believe nothing would so
soon explode the practice as the public discouragement of it by such a
society; where all our customs and habits, both in speech and behaviour,
should receive an authority.  All the disputes about precedency of wit,
with the manners, customs, and usages of the theatre, would be decided
here; plays should pass here before they were acted, and the critics
might give their censures and damn at their pleasure; nothing would ever
die which once received life at this original.  The two theatres might
end their jangle, and dispute for priority no more; wit and real worth
should decide the controversy, and here should be the infallible judge.

   The strife would then be only to do well,
   And he alone be crowned who did excel.
   Ye call them Whigs, who from the church withdrew,
   But now we have our stage dissenters too,
   Who scruple ceremonies of pit and box,
   And very few are sound and orthodox,
   But love disorder so, and are so nice,
   They hate conformity, though ’tis in vice.
   Some are for patent hierarchy; and some,
   Like the old Gauls, seek out for elbow room;
   Their arbitrary governors disown,
   And build a conventicle stage of their own.
   Fanatic beaux make up the gaudy show,
   And wit alone appears incognito.
   Wit and religion suffer equal fate;
   Neglect of both attends the warm debate.
   For while the parties strive and countermine,
   Wit will as well as piety decline.

Next to this, which I esteem as the most noble and most useful proposal
in this book, I proceed to academies for military studies, and because I
design rather to express my meaning than make a large book, I bring them
all into one chapter.

I allow the war is the best academy in the world, where men study by
necessity and practice by force, and both to some purpose, with duty in
the action, and a reward in the end; and it is evident to any man who
knows the world, or has made any observations on things, what an
improvement the English nation has made during this seven years’ war.

But should you ask how clear it first cost, and what a condition England
was in for a war at first on this account—how almost all our engineers
and great officers were foreigners, it may put us in mind how necessary
it is to have our people so practised in the arts of war that they may
not be novices when they come to the experiment.

I have heard some who were no great friends to the Government take
advantage to reflect upon the king, in the beginning of his wars in
Ireland, that he did not care to trust the English, but all his great
officers, his generals, and engineers were foreigners.  And though the
case was so plain as to need no answer, and the persons such as deserved
none, yet this must be observed, though it was very strange: that when
the present king took possession of this kingdom, and, seeing himself
entering upon the bloodiest war this age has known, began to regulate his
army, he found but very few among the whole martial part of the nation
fit to make use of for general officers, and was forced to employ
strangers, and make them Englishmen (as the Counts Schomberg, Ginkel,
Solms, Ruvigny, and others); and yet it is to be observed also that all
the encouragement imaginable was given to the English gentlemen to
qualify themselves, by giving no less than sixteen regiments to gentlemen
of good families who had never been in any service and knew but very
little how to command them.  Of these, several are now in the army, and
have the rewards suitable to their merit, being major-generals,
brigadiers, and the like.

If, then, a long peace had so reduced us to a degree of ignorance that
might have been dangerous to us, had we not a king who is always followed
by the greatest masters in the world, who knows what peace and different
governors may bring us to again?

The manner of making war differs perhaps as much as anything in the
world; and if we look no further back than our civil wars, it is plain a
general then would hardly be fit to be a colonel now, saving his capacity
of improvement.  The defensive art always follows the offensive; and
though the latter has extremely got the start of the former in this age,
yet the other is mightily improving also.

We saw in England a bloody civil war, where, according to the old temper
of the English, fighting was the business.  To have an army lying in such
a post as not to be able to come at them was a thing never heard of in
that war; even the weakest party would always come out and fight (Dunbar
fight, for instance); and they that were beaten to-day would fight again
to-morrow, and seek one another out with such eagerness, as if they had
been in haste to have their brains knocked out.  Encampments,
intrenchments, batteries, counter-marchings, fortifying of camps, and
cannonadings were strange and almost unknown things; and whole campaigns
were passed over, and hardly any tents made use of.  Battles, surprises,
storming of towns, skirmishes, sieges, ambuscades, and beating up
quarters was the news of every day.  Now it is frequent to have armies of
fifty thousand men of a side stand at bay within view of one another, and
spend a whole campaign in dodging (or, as it is genteelly called,
observing) one another, and then march off into winter quarters.  The
difference is in the maxims of war, which now differ as much from what
they were formerly as long perukes do from piqued beards, or as the
habits of the people do now from what they then were.  The present maxims
of the war are:

    “Never fight without a manifest advantage.”

    “And always encamp so as not to be forced to it.”

And if two opposite generals nicely observe both these rules, it is
impossible they should ever come to fight.

I grant that this way of making war spends generally more money and less
blood than former wars did; but then it spins wars out to a greater
length; and I almost question whether, if this had been the way of
fighting of old, our civil war had not lasted till this day.  Their maxim

    “Wherever you meet your enemy, fight him.”

But the case is quite different now; and I think it is plain in the
present war that it is not he who has the longest sword, so much as he
who has the longest purse, will hold the war out best.  Europe is all
engaged in the war, and the men will never be exhausted while either
party can find money; but he who finds himself poorest must give out
first; and this is evident in the French king, who now inclines to peace,
and owns it, while at the same time his armies are numerous and whole.
But the sinews fail; he finds his exchequer fail, his kingdom drained,
and money hard to come at: not that I believe half the reports we have
had of the misery and poverty of the French are true; but it is manifest
the King of France finds, whatever his armies may do, his money won’t
hold out so long as the Confederates, and therefore he uses all the means
possible to procure a peace, while he may do it with the most advantage.

There is no question but the French may hold the war out several years
longer; but their king is too wise to let things run to extremity.  He
will rather condescend to peace upon hard terms now than stay longer, if
he finds himself in danger to be forced to worse.

This being the only digression I design to be guilty of, I hope I shall
be excused it.

The sum of all is this: that, since it is so necessary to be in a
condition for war in a time of peace, our people should be inured to it.
It is strange that everything should be ready but the soldier: ships are
ready, and our trade keeps the seamen always taught, and breeds up more;
but soldiers, horsemen, engineers, gunners, and the like must be bred and
taught; men are not born with muskets on their shoulders, nor
fortifications in their heads; it is not natural to shoot bombs and
undermine towns: for which purpose I propose a

_Royal Academy for Military Exercises_.

The founder the king himself; the charge to be paid by the public, and
settled by a revenue from the Crown, to be paid yearly.

I propose this to consist of four parts:

1.  A college for breeding up of artists in the useful practice of all
military exercises; the scholars to be taken in young, and be maintained,
and afterwards under the king’s care for preferment, as their merit and
His Majesty’s favour shall recommend them; from whence His Majesty would
at all times be furnished with able engineers, gunners, fire-masters.
bombardiers, miners, and the like.

The second college for voluntary students in the same exercises; who
should all upon certain limited conditions be entertained, and have all
the advantages of the lectures, experiments, and learning of the college,
and be also capable of several titles, profits, and settlements in the
said college, answerable to the Fellows in the Universities.

The third college for temporary study, into which any person who is a
gentleman and an Englishman, entering his name and conforming to the
orders of the house, shall be entertained like a gentleman for one whole
year gratis, and taught by masters appointed out of the second college.

The fourth college, of schools only, where all persons whatsoever for a
small allowance shall be taught and entered in all the particular
exercises they desire; and this to be supplied by the proficients of the
first college.

I could lay out the dimensions and necessary incidents of all this work,
but since the method of such a foundation is easy and regular from the
model of other colleges, I shall only state the economy of the house.

The building must be very large, and should rather be stately and
magnificent in figure than gay and costly in ornament: and I think such a
house as Chelsea College, only about four times as big, would answer it;
and yet, I believe, might be finished for as little charge as has been
laid out in that palace-like hospital.

The first college should consist of one general, five colonels, twenty

Being such as graduates by preferment, at first named by the founder; and
after the first settlement to be chosen out of the first or second
colleges; with apartments in the college, and salaries.

                    £ per ann.
The general                  300
The colonels                 100
The captains                  60

2,000 scholars, among whom shall be the following degrees:

                            allowed £ per ann.
Governors              100                      10
Directors              200                       5
Exempts                200                       5
Proficients            500
Juniors              1,000

The general to be named by the founder, out of the colonels; the colonels
to be named by the general, out of the captains; the captains out of the
governors; the governors from the directors; and the directors from the
exempts; and so on.

The juniors to be divided into ten schools; the schools to be thus
governed: every school has

100 juniors, in 10 classes.
Every class to have 2 directors.
100 classes of juniors is               1,000
Each class 2 directors                    200

The proficients to be divided into five schools:

Every school to have ten classes of 10 each.
Every class 2 governors.
50 classes of proficients is                   500
Each class 2 governors is                      100

The exempts to be supernumerary, having a small allowance, and maintained
in the college till preferment offer.

The second college to consist of voluntary students, to be taken in,
after a certain degree of learning, from among the proficients of the
first, or from any other schools, after such and such limitations of
learning; who study at their own charge, being allowed certain
privileges; as—

Chambers rent-free on condition of residence.

Commons gratis, for certain fixed terms.

Preferment, on condition of a term of years’ residence.

Use of libraries, instruments, and lectures of the college.

This college should have the following preferments, with salaries

                                               £ per ann.
A governor                                              200
A president                                             100
50 college-majors                                        50
200 proficients                                          10
500 voluntary students, without allowance.

The third and fourth colleges, consisting only of schools for temporary
study, may be thus:

The third—being for gentlemen to learn the necessary arts and exercises
to qualify them for the service of their country, and entertaining them
one whole year at the public charge—may be supposed to have always one
thousand persons on its hands, and cannot have less than 100 teachers,
whom I would thus order:

Every teacher shall continue at least one year, but by allowance two
years at most; shall have £20 per annum extraordinary allowance; shall be
bound to give their constant attendance; and shall have always five
college-majors of the second college to supervise them, who shall command
a month, and then be succeeded by five others, and, so on—£10 per annum
extraordinary to be paid them for their attendance.

The gentlemen who practise to be put to no manner of charge, but to be
obliged strictly to the following articles:

1.  To constant residence, not to lie out of the house without leave of
the college-major.

2.  To perform all the college exercises, as appointed by the masters,
without dispute.

3.  To submit to the orders of the house.

To quarrel or give ill-language should be a crime to be punished by way
of fine only, the college-major to be judge, and the offender be put into
custody till he ask pardon of the person wronged; by which means every
gentleman who has been affronted has sufficient satisfaction.

But to strike challenge, draw, or fight, should be more severely
punished; the offender to be declared no gentleman, his name posted up at
the college-gate, his person expelled the house, and to be pumped as a
rake if ever he is taken within the college-walls.

The teachers of this college to be chosen, one half out of the exempts of
the first college, and the other out of the proficients of the second.

The fourth college, being only of schools, will be neither chargeable nor
troublesome, but may consist of as many as shall offer themselves to be
taught, and supplied with teachers from the other schools.

The proposal, being of so large an extent, must have a proportionable
settlement for its maintenance; and the benefit being to the whole
kingdom, the charge will naturally lie upon the public, and cannot well
be less, considering the number of persons to be maintained, than as

                            FIRST COLLEGE.
                                                          £ per ann.
The general                                                        300
5 colonels at £100 per ann. each                                   500
20 captains at 60 ,,                                             1,200
100 governors at 10 ,,                                           1,000
200 directors at 5 ,,                                            1,000
200 exempts at 5 ,,                                              1,000
2,000 heads for subsistence, at £20 per head per                40,000
ann., including provision, and all the officers’
salaries in the house, as butlers, cooks, purveyors,
nurses, maids, laundresses, stewards, clerks,
servants, chaplains, porters, and attendants, which
are numerous.
                           SECOND COLLEGE.
A governor                                                         200
A president                                                        100
50 college-majors at £50 per ann. each                           2,500
200 proficients at 10                                            2,000
Commons for 500 students during times of exercises at            2,500
£5 per ann. each
200 proficients’ subsistence, reckoning as above                 4,000
                            THIRD COLLEGE.
The gentlemen here are maintained as gentlemen, and             25,000
are to have good tables, who shall therefore have an
allowance at the rate of £25 per head, all officers
to be maintained out of it; which is
100 teachers, salary and subsistence ditto                       4,500
50 college-majors at £10 per ann. is                               500
                                         Annual charge          86,300
The building to cost                                            50,000
Furniture, beds, tables, chairs, linen, &c.                     10,000
Books, instruments, and utensils for experiments                 2,000
                      So the immediate charge would be          62,000
The annual charge                                               86,300
To which add the charges of exercises and experiments            3,700

The king’s magazines to furnish them with 500 barrels of gunpowder per
annum for the public uses of exercises and experiments.

In the first of these colleges should remain the governing part, and all
the preferments to be made from thence, to be supplied in course from the
other; the general of the first to give orders to the other, and be
subject only to the founder.

The government should be all military, with a constitution for the same
regulated for that purpose, and a council to hear and determine the
differences and trespasses by the college laws.

The public exercises likewise military, and all the schools be
disciplined under proper officers, who are so in turn or by order of the
general, and continue but for the day.

The several classes to perform several studies, and but one study to a
distinct class, and the persons, as they remove from one study to
another, to change their classes, but so as that in the general exercises
all the scholars may be qualified to act all the several parts as they
may be ordered.

The proper studies of this college should be the following:

Geometry.                Bombarding.
Astronomy.               Gunnery.
History.                 Fortification.
Navigation.              Encamping.
Decimal arithmetic.      Intrenching.
Trigonometry.            Approaching.
Dialing.                 Attacking.
Gauging.                 Delineation.
Mining.                  Architecture.
Fireworking.             Surveying.

And all arts or sciences appendices to such as these, with exercises for
the body, to which all should be obliged, as their genius and capacities
led them, as:

1.  Swimming; which no soldier, and, indeed, no man whatever, ought to be

2.  Handling all sorts of firearms.

3.  Marching and counter-marching in form.

4.  Fencing and the long-staff.

5.  Riding and managing, or horsemanship.

6.  Running, leaping, and wrestling.

And herewith should also be preserved and carefully taught all the
customs, usages, terms of war, and terms of art used in sieges, marches
of armies and encampments, that so a gentleman taught in this college
should be no novice when he comes into the king’s armies, though he has
seen no service abroad.  I remember the story of an English gentleman, an
officer at the siege of Limerick, in Ireland, who, though he was brave
enough upon action, yet for the only matter of being ignorant in the
terms of art, and knowing not how to talk camp language, was exposed to
be laughed at by the whole army for mistaking the opening of the
trenches, which he thought had been a mine against the town.

The experiments of these colleges would be as well worth publishing as
the acts of the Royal Society.  To which purpose the house must be built
where they may have ground to cast bombs, to raise regular works, as
batteries, bastions, half-moons, redoubts, horn-works, forts, and the
like; with the convenience of water to draw round such works, to exercise
the engineers in all the necessary experiments of draining and mining
under ditches.  There must be room to fire great shot at a distance, to
cannonade a camp, to throw all sorts of fireworks and machines that are,
or shall be, invented; to open trenches, form camps, &c.

Their public exercises will be also very diverting, and more worth while
for any gentleman to see than the sights or shows which our people in
England are so fond of.

I believe as a constitution might be formed from these generals, this
would be the greatest, the gallantest and the most useful foundation in
the world.  The English gentry would be the best qualified, and
consequently best accepted abroad, and most useful at home of any people
in the world; and His Majesty should never more be exposed to the
necessity of employing foreigners in the posts of trust and service in
his armies.

And that the whole kingdom might in some degree be better qualified for
service, I think the following project would be very useful:

When our military weapon was the long-bow, at which our English nation in
some measure excelled the whole world, the meanest countryman was a good
archer; and that which qualified them so much for service in the war was
their diversion in times of peace, which also had this good effect—that
when an army was to be raised they needed no disciplining: and for the
encouragement of the people to an exercise so publicly profitable an Act
of Parliament was made to oblige every parish to maintain butts for the
youth in the country to shoot at.

Since our way of fighting is now altered, and this destructive engine the
musket is the proper arms for the soldier, I could wish the diversion
also of the English would change too, that our pleasures and profit might
correspond.  It is a great hindrance to this nation, especially where
standing armies are a grievance, that if ever a war commence, men must
have at least a year before they are thought fit to face an enemy, to
instruct them how to handle their arms; and new-raised men are called raw
soldiers.  To help this—at least, in some, measure—I would propose that
the public exercises of our youth should by some public encouragement
(for penalties won’t do it) be drawn off from the foolish boyish sports
of cocking and cricketing, and from tippling, to shooting with a firelock
(an exercise as pleasant as it is manly and generous) and swimming, which
is a thing so many ways profitable, besides its being a great
preservative of health, that methinks no man ought to be without it.

1.  For shooting, the colleges I have mentioned above, having provided
for the instructing the gentry at the king’s charge, that the gentry, in
return of a favour, should introduce it among the country people, which
might easily be done thus:

If every country gentleman, according to his degree, would contribute to
set-up a prize to be shot for by the town he lives in or the
neighbourhood, about once a year, or twice a year, or oftener, as they
think fit; which prize not single only to him who shoots nearest, but
according to the custom of shooting.

This would certainly set all the young men in England a-shooting, and
make them marksmen; for they would be always practising, and making
matches among themselves too, and the advantage would be found in a war;
for, no doubt, if all the soldiers in a battalion took a true level at
their enemy there would be much more execution done at a distance than
there is; whereas it has been known how that a battalion of men has
received the fire of another battalion, and not lost above thirty or
forty men; and I suppose it will not easily be forgotten how, at the
battle of Agrim, a battalion of the English army received the whole fire
of an Irish regiment of Dragoons, but never knew to this day whether they
had any bullets or no; and I need appeal no further than to any officer
that served in the Irish war, what advantages the English armies made of
the Irish being such wonderful marksmen.

Under this head of academies I might bring in a project for an

_Academy for Women_.

I have often thought of it as one of the most barbarous customs in the
world, considering us as a civilised and a Christian country, that we
deny the advantages of learning to women.  We reproach the sex every day
with folly and impertinence, while I am confident, had they the
advantages of education equal to us, they would be guilty of less than

One would wonder indeed how it should happen that women are conversable
at all, since they are only beholding to natural parts for all their
knowledge.  Their youth is spent to teach them to stitch and sew, or make
baubles.  They are taught to read indeed, and perhaps to write their
names, or so, and that is the height of a woman’s education.  And I would
but ask any who slight the sex for their understanding, What is a man (a
gentleman, I mean) good for that is taught no more?

I need not give instances, or examine the character of a gentleman with a
good estate, and of a good family, and with tolerable parts, and examine
what figure he makes for want of education.

The soul is placed in the body like a rough diamond, and must be
polished, or the lustre of it will never appear.  And it is manifest that
as the rational soul distinguishes us from brutes, so education carries
on the distinction, and makes some less brutish than others.  This is too
evident to need any demonstration.  But why, then, should women be denied
the benefit of instruction?  If knowledge and understanding had been
useless additions to the sex, God Almighty would never have given them
capacities, for He made nothing needless: besides, I would ask such what
they can see in ignorance that they should think it a necessary ornament
to a woman.  Or, How much worse is a wise woman than a fool? or, What has
the woman done to forfeit the privilege of being taught?  Does she plague
us with her pride and impertinence?  Why did we not let her learn, that
she might have had more wit?  Shall we upbraid women with folly, when it
is only the error of this inhuman custom that hindered them being made

The capacities of women are supposed to be greater and their senses
quicker than those of the men; and what they might be capable of being
bred to is plain from some instances of female wit which this age is not
without, which upbraids us with injustice, and looks as if we denied
women the advantages of education for fear they should vie with the men
in their improvements.

To remove this objection, and that women might have at least a needful
opportunity of education in all sorts of useful learning, I propose the
draft of an academy for that purpose.

I know it is dangerous to make public appearances of the sex; they are
not either to be confined or exposed: the first will disagree with their
inclinations, and the last with their reputations; and therefore it is
somewhat difficult; and I doubt a method proposed by an ingenious lady,
in a little book called, “Advice to the Ladies,” would be found
impracticable.  For, saving my respect to the sex, the levity which
perhaps is a little peculiar to them (at least in their youth) will not
bear the restraint; and I am satisfied nothing but the height of bigotry
can keep up a nunnery.  Women are extravagantly desirous of going to
heaven, and will punish their pretty bodies to get thither; but nothing
else will do it, and even in that case sometimes it falls out that nature
will prevail.

When I talk therefore of an academy for women I mean both the model, the
teaching, and the government different from what is proposed by that
ingenious lady, for whose proposal I have a very great esteem, and also a
great opinion of her wit; different, too, from all sorts of religious
confinement, and, above all, from vows of celibacy.

Wherefore the academy I propose should differ but little from public
schools, wherein such ladies as were willing to study should have all the
advantages of learning suitable to their genius.

But since some severities of discipline more than ordinary would be
absolutely necessary to preserve the reputation of the house, that
persons of quality and fortune might not be afraid to venture their
children thither, I shall venture to make a small scheme by way of essay.

The house I would have built in a form by itself, as well as in a place
by itself.

The building should be of three plain fronts, without any jettings or
bearing-work, that the eye might at a glance see from one coin to the
other; the gardens walled in the same triangular figure, with a large
moat, and but one entrance.

When thus every part of the situation was contrived as well as might be
for discovery, and to render intriguing dangerous, I would have no
guards, no eyes, no spies set over the ladies, but shall expect them to
be tried by the principles of honour and strict virtue.

And if I am asked why, I must ask pardon of my own sex for giving this
reason for it:

I am so much in charity with women, and so well acquainted with men, that
it is my opinion there needs no other care to prevent intriguing than to
keep the men effectually away.  For though inclination, which we prettily
call love, does sometimes move a little too visibly in the sex, and
frailty often follows, yet I think verily custom, which we miscall
modesty, has so far the ascendant over the sex that solicitation always
goes before it.

   “Custom with women, ’stead of virtue, rules;
   It leads the wisest, and commands the fools;
   For this alone, when inclinations reign,
   Though virtue’s fled, will acts of vice restrain.
   Only by custom ’tis that virtue lives,
   And love requires to be asked before it gives.
   For that which we call modesty is pride:
   They scorn to ask, and hate to be denied.
   ’Tis custom thus prevails upon their want;
   They’ll never beg what, asked, they easily grant.
   And when the needless ceremony’s over,
   Themselves the weakness of the sex discover.
   If, then, desires are strong, and nature free,
   Keep from her men and opportunity.
   Else ’twill be vain to curb her by restraint;
   But keep the question off, you keep the saint.”

In short, let a woman have never such a coming principle, she will let
you ask before she complies—at least, if she be a woman of any honour.

Upon this ground I am persuaded such measures might be taken that the
ladies might have all the freedom in the world within their own walls,
and yet no intriguing, no indecencies, nor scandalous affairs happen; and
in order to this, the following customs and laws should be observed in
the colleges, of which I would propose one at least in every county in
England, and about ten for the city of London.

After the regulation of the form of the building as before;

1.  All the ladies who enter into the house should set their hands to the
orders of the house, to signify their consent to submit to them.

2.  As no woman should be received but who declared herself willing, and
that it was the act of her choice to enter herself, so no person should
be confined to continue there a moment longer than the same voluntary
choice inclined her.

3.  The charges of the house being to be paid by the ladies, every one
that entered should have only this incumbrance—that she should pay for
the whole year, though her mind should change as to her continuance.

4.  An Act of Parliament should make it felony, without clergy, for any
man to enter by force or fraud into the house, or to solicit any woman,
though it were to marry, while she was in the house.  And this law would
by no means be severe, because any woman who was willing to receive the
addresses of a man might discharge herself of the house when she pleased;
and, on the contrary, any woman who had occasion might discharge herself
of the impertinent addresses of any person she had an aversion to by
entering into the house.

In this house the persons who enter should be taught all sorts of
breeding suitable to both their genius and their quality, and, in
particular, music and dancing, which it would be cruelty to bar the sex
of, because they are their darlings; but, besides this, they should be
taught languages, as particularly French and Italian; and I would venture
the injury of giving a woman more tongues than one.

They should, as a particular study, be taught all the graces of speech,
and all the necessary air of conversation, which our common education is
so defective in that I need not expose it.  They should be brought to
read books, and especially history, and so to read as to make them
understand the world, and be able to know and judge of things when they
hear of them.

To such whose genius would lead them to it I would deny no sort of
learning: but the chief thing in general is to cultivate the
understandings of the sex, that they may be capable of all sorts of
conversation; that, their parts and judgments being improved, they may be
as profitable in their conversation as they are pleasant.

Women, in my observation, have little or no difference in them but as
they are, or are not, distinguished by education.  Tempers indeed may in
some degree influence them, but the main distinguishing part is their

The whole sex are generally quick and sharp; I believe I may be allowed
to say generally so; for you rarely see them lumpish and heavy when they
are children, as boys will often be.  If a woman be well bred, and taught
the proper management of her natural wit, she proves generally very
sensible and retentive; and, without partiality, a woman of sense and
manners is the finest and most delicate part of God’s creation, the glory
of her Maker, and the great instance of His singular regard to man (His
darling creature), to whom He gave the best gift either God could bestow
or man receive; and it is the most sordid piece of folly and ingratitude
in the world to withhold from the sex the due lustre which the advantages
of education gives to the natural beauty of their minds.

A woman well bred and well taught, furnished with the additional
accomplishments of knowledge and behaviour, is a creature without
comparison; her society is the emblem of sublimer enjoyments; her person
is angelic, and her conversation heavenly; she is all softness and
sweetness, peace, love, wit, and delight; she is every way suitable to
the sublimest wish, and the man that has such a one to his portion has
nothing to do but to rejoice in her, and be thankful.

On the other hand, suppose her to be the very same woman, and rob her of
the benefit of education, and it follows thus:

If her temper be good, want of education makes her soft and easy.

Her wit, for want of teaching, makes her impertinent and talkative.

Her knowledge, for want of judgment and experience, makes her fanciful
and whimsical.

If her temper be bad, want of breeding makes her worse, and she grows
haughty, insolent, and loud.

If she be passionate, want of manners makes her termagant and a scold,
which is much at one with lunatic.

If she be proud, want of discretion (which still is breeding) makes her
conceited, fantastic, and ridiculous.

And from these she degenerates to be turbulent, clamorous, noisy, nasty,
and “the devil.”

Methinks mankind for their own sakes (since, say what we will of the
women, we all think fit one time or other to be concerned with them)
should take some care to breed them up to be suitable and serviceable, if
they expected no such thing as delight from them.  Bless us! what care do
we take to breed up a good horse, and to break him well!  And what a
value do we put upon him when it is done!—and all because he should be
fit for our use.  And why not a woman?—since all her ornaments and
beauty, without suitable behaviour, is a cheat in nature, like the false
tradesman who puts the best of his goods uppermost, that the buyer may
think the rest are of the same goodness.

Beauty of the body, which is the women’s glory, seems to be now unequally
bestowed, and nature (or, rather, Providence) to lie under some scandal
about it, as if it was given a woman for a snare to men, and so make a
kind of a she-devil of her: because, they say, exquisite beauty is rarely
given with wit, more rarely with goodness of temper, and never at all
with modesty.  And some, pretending to justify the equity of such a
distribution, will tell us it is the effect of the justice of Providence
in dividing particular excellences among all His creatures, “Share and
share alike, as it were,” that all might for something or other be
acceptable to one another, else some would be despised.

I think both these notions false; and yet the last, which has the show of
respect to Providence, is the worst; for it supposes Providence to be
indigent and empty, as if it had not wherewith to furnish all the
creatures it had made, but was fain to be parsimonious in its gifts, and
distribute them by piece-meal, for fear of being exhausted.

If I might venture my opinion against an almost universal notion, I would
say most men mistake the proceedings of Providence in this case, and all
the world at this day are mistaken in their practice about it.  And,
because the assertion is very bold, I desire to explain myself.

That Almighty First Cause which made us all is certainly the fountain of
excellence, as it is of being, and by an invisible influence could have
diffused equal qualities and perfections to all the creatures it has
made, as the sun does its light, without the least ebb or diminution to
Himself; and has given indeed to every individual sufficient to the
figure His providence had designed him in the world.

I believe it might be defended if I should say that I do suppose God has
given to all mankind equal gifts and capacities, in that He has given
them all souls equally capable; and that the whole difference in mankind
proceeds either from accidental difference in the make of their bodies,
or from the foolish difference of education.

1.  _From accidental difference in bodies_.—I would avoid discoursing
here of the philosophical position of the soul in the body: but if it be
true, as philosophers do affirm, that the understanding and memory is
dilated or contracted according to the accidental dimensions of the organ
through which it is conveyed, then, though God has given a soul as
capable to me as another, yet if I have any natural defect in those parts
of the body by which the soul should act, I may have the same soul
infused as another man, and yet he be a wise man and I a very fool.  For
example, if a child naturally have a defect in the organ of hearing, so
that he could never distinguish any sound, that child shall never be able
to speak or read, though it have a soul capable of all the
accomplishments in the world.  The brain is the centre of the soul’s
actings, where all the distinguishing faculties of it reside; and it is
observable, a man who has a narrow contracted head, in which there is not
room for the due and necessary operations of nature by the brain, is
never a man of very great judgment; and that proverb, “A great head and
little wit,” is not meant by nature, but is a reproof upon sloth; as if
one should, by way of wonder say, “Fie, fie, you that have a great head
have but little wit; that’s strange! that must certainly be your own
fault.”  From this notion I do believe there is a great matter in the
breed of men and women; not that wise men shall always get wise children:
but I believe strong and healthy bodies have the wisest children; and
sickly, weakly bodies affect the wits as well as the bodies of their
children.  We are easily persuaded to believe this in the breeds of
horses, cocks, dogs, and other creatures; and I believe it is as visible
in men.

But to come closer to the business; the great distinguishing difference
which is seen in the world between men and women is in their education;
and this is manifested by comparing it with the difference between one
man or woman and another.

And herein it is that I take upon me to make such a bold assertion, that
all the world are mistaken in their practice about women: for I cannot
think that God Almighty ever made them so delicate, so glorious
creatures, and furnished them with such charms, so agreeable and so
delightful to mankind, with souls capable of the same accomplishments
with men, and all to be only stewards of our houses, cooks, and slaves.

Not that I am for exalting the female government in the least: but, in
short, I would have men take women for companions, and educate them to be
fit for it.  A woman of sense and breeding will scorn as much to encroach
upon the prerogative of the man as a man of sense will scorn to oppress
the weakness of the woman.  But if the women’s souls were refined and
improved by teaching, that word would be lost; to say, “the weakness of
the sex,” as to judgment, would be nonsense; for ignorance and folly
would be no more to be found among women than men.  I remember a passage
which I heard from a very fine woman; she had wit and capacity enough, an
extraordinary shape and face, and a great fortune, but had been
cloistered up all her time, and, for fear of being stolen, had not had
the liberty of being taught the common necessary knowledge of women’s
affairs; and when she came to converse in the world her natural wit made
her so sensible of the want of education that she gave this short
reflection on herself:

“I am ashamed to talk with my very maids,” says she, “for I don’t know
when they do right or wrong: I had more need go to school than be

I need not enlarge on the loss the defect of education is to the sex, nor
argue the benefit of the contrary practice; it is a thing will be more
easily granted than remedied: this chapter is but an essay at the thing,
and I refer the practice to those happy days, if ever they shall be, when
men shall be wise enough to mend it.


I ASK pardon of the learned gentlemen of the long robe if I do them any
wrong in this chapter, having no design to affront them when I say that
in matters of debate among merchants, when they come to be argued by
lawyers at the bar, they are strangely handled.  I myself have heard very
famous lawyers make sorry work of a cause between the merchant and his
factor; and when they come to argue about exchanges, discounts, protests,
demurrages, charter-parties, freights, port-charges, assurances,
barratries, bottomries, accounts current, accounts in commission, and
accounts in company, and the like, the solicitor has not been able to
draw a brief, nor the counsel to understand it.  Never was young parson
more put to it to make out his text when he is got into the pulpit
without his notes than I have seen a counsel at the bar when he would
make out a cause between two merchants.  And I remember a pretty history
of a particular case, by way of instance, when two merchants, contending
about a long factorage account, that had all the niceties of
merchandising in it, and labouring on both sides to instruct their
counsel, and to put them in when they were out, at last they found them
make such ridiculous stuff of it that they both threw up the cause and
agreed to a reference, which reference in one week, without any charge,
ended all the dispute, which they had spent a great deal of money in
before to no purpose.

Nay, the very judges themselves (no reflection upon their learning) have
been very much at a loss in giving instructions to a jury, and juries
much more to understand them; for, when all is done, juries, which are
not always, nor often indeed, of the wisest men, are, to be sure, in
umpires in causes so nice that the very lawyer and judge can hardly
understand them.

The affairs of merchants are accompanied with such variety of
circumstances, such new and unusual contingencies, which change and
differ in every age, with a multitude of niceties and punctilios (and
those, again, altering as the customs and usages of countries and states
do alter), that it has been found impracticable to make any laws that
could extend to all cases.  And our law itself does tacitly acknowledge
its own imperfection in this case, by allowing the custom of merchants to
pass as a kind of law in cases of difficulty.

Wherefore it seems to me a most natural proceeding that such affairs
should be heard before, and judged by, such as by known experience and
long practice in the customs and usages of foreign negotiation are of
course the most capable to determine the same.

Besides the reasonableness of the argument there are some cases in our
laws in which it is impossible for a plaintiff to make out his case, or a
defendant to make out his plea; as, in particular, when his proofs are
beyond seas (for no protests, certifications, or procurations are allowed
in our courts as evidence); and the damages are infinite and
irretrievable by any of the proceedings of our laws.

For the answering all these circumstances, a court might be erected by
authority of Parliament, to be composed of six judges commissioners, who
should have power to hear and decide as a court of equity, under the
title of a “Court Merchant.”

The proceedings of this court should be short, the trials speedy, the
fees easy, that every man might have immediate remedy where wrong is
done.  For in trials at law about merchants’ affairs the circumstances of
the case are often such as the long proceedings of courts of equity are
more pernicious than in other cases; because the matters to which they
are generally relating are under greater contingencies than in other
cases, as effects in hands abroad, which want orders, ships, and seamen
lying at demurrage and in pay, and the like.

These six judges should be chosen of the most eminent merchants of the
kingdom, to reside in London, and to have power by commission to summon a
council of merchants, who should decide all cases on the hearing, of both
parties, with appeal to the said judges.

Also to delegate by commission petty councils of merchants in the most
considerable ports of the kingdom for the same purpose.

The six judges themselves to be only judges of appeal; all trials to be
heard before the council of merchants by methods and proceedings singular
and concise.

The council to be sworn to do justice, and to be chosen annually out of
the principal merchants of the city.

The proceedings here should be without delay; the plaintiff to exhibit
his grievance by way of brief, and the defendant to give in his answer,
and a time of hearing to be appointed immediately.

The defendant by motion shall have liberty to put off hearing upon
showing good cause, not otherwise.

At hearing, every man to argue his own cause if he pleases, or introduce
any person to do it for him.

Attestations and protests from foreign parts, regularly procured and
authentically signified in due form, to pass in evidence; affidavits in
due form likewise attested and done before proper magistrates within the
king’s dominions, to be allowed as evidence.

The party grieved may appeal to the six judges, before whom they shall
plead by counsel, and from their judgment to have no appeal.

By this method infinite controversies would be avoided and disputes
amicably ended, a multitude of present inconveniences avoided, and
merchandising matters would in a merchant-like manner be decided by the
known customs and methods of trade.


IT is observable that whenever this kingdom is engaged in a war with any
of its neighbours two great inconveniences constantly follow: one to the
king and one to trade.

1.  That to the king is, that he is forced to press seamen for the
manning of his navy, and force them involuntarily into the service: which
way of violently dragging men into the fleet is attended with sundry ill
circumstances, as:

(1.)  Our naval preparations are retarded, and our fleets always late for
want of men, which has exposed them not a little, and been the ruin of
many a good and well-laid expedition.

(2.)  Several irregularities follow, as the officers taking money to
dismiss able seamen, and filling up their complement with raw and
improper persons.

(3.)  Oppressions, quarrellings, and oftentimes murders, by the rashness
of press-masters and the obstinacy of some unwilling to go.

(4.)  A secret aversion to the service from a natural principle, common
to the English nation, to hate compulsion.

(5.)  Kidnapping people out of the kingdom, robbing houses, and picking
pockets, frequently practised under pretence of pressing, as has been
very much used of late.

With various abuses of the like nature, some to the king, and some to the

2.  To trade.  By the extravagant price set on wages for seamen, which
they impose on the merchant with a sort of authority, and he is obliged
to give by reason of the scarcity of men, and that not from a real want
of men (for in the height of a press, if a merchant-man wanted men, and
could get a protection for them, he might have any number immediately,
and none without it, so shy were they of the public service).

The first of these things has cost the king above three millions sterling
since the war, in these three particulars:

1.  Charge of pressing on sea and on shore, and in small craft employed
for that purpose.

2.  Ships lying in harbour for want of men, at a vast charge of pay and
victuals for those they had.

3.  Keeping the whole navy in constant pay and provisions all the winter,
for fear of losing the men against summer, which has now been done
several years, besides bounty money and other expenses to court and
oblige the seamen.

The second of these (viz., the great wages paid by the merchant) has cost
trade, since the war, above twenty millions sterling.  The coal trade
gives a specimen of it, who for the first three years of the war gave £9
a voyage to common seamen, who before sailed for 36s.; which, computing
the number of ships and men used in the coal trade, and of voyages made,
at eight hands to a vessel, does, modestly accounting, make £89,600
difference in one year in wages to seamen in the coal trade only.

For other voyages the difference of sailors’ wages is 50s, per month and
55s. per month to foremast-men, who before went for 26s. per month;
besides subjecting the merchant to the insolence of the seamen, who are
not now to be pleased with any provisions, will admit no half-pay, and
command of the captains even what they please; nay, the king himself can
hardly please them.

For cure of these inconveniences it is the following project is proposed,
with which the seamen can have no reason to be dissatisfied, nor are not
at all injured; and yet the damage sustained will be prevented, and an
immense sum of money spared, which is now squandered away by the
profuseness and luxury of the seamen.  For if prodigality weakens the
public wealth of the kingdom in general, then are the seamen but ill
commonwealths-men, who are not visibly the richer for the prodigious sums
of money paid them either by the king or the merchant.

The project is this: that by an Act of Parliament an office or court be
erected, within the jurisdiction of the Court of Admiralty, and subject
to the Lord High Admiral, or otherwise independent, and subject only to a
parliamentary authority, as the commission for taking and stating the
public accounts.

In this court or office, or the several branches of it (which, to that
end, shall be subdivided and placed in every sea-port in the kingdom),
shall be listed and entered into immediate pay all the seamen in the
kingdom, who shall be divided into colleges or chambers of sundry
degrees, suitable to their several capacities, with pay in proportion to
their qualities; as boys, youths, servants, men able and raw, midshipmen,
officers, pilots, old men, and pensioners.

The circumstantials of this office:

1.  No captain or master of any ship or vessel should dare to hire or
carry to sea with him any seamen but such as he shall receive from the
office aforesaid.

2.  No man whatsoever, seaman or other, but applying himself to the said
office to be employed as a sailor, should immediately enter into pay, and
receive for every able seaman 24s. per month, and juniors in proportion;
to receive half-pay while unemployed, and liberty to work for themselves:
only to be at call of the office, and leave an account where to be found.

3.  No sailor could desert, because no employment would be to be had

4.  All ships at their clearing at the Custom House should receive a
ticket to the office for men, where would be always choice rather than
scarcity, who should be delivered over by the office to the captain or
master without any trouble or delay; all liberty of choice to be allowed
both to master and men, only so as to give up all disputes to the
officers appointed to decide.

_Note_.—By this would be avoided the great charge captains and owners are
at to keep men on board before they are ready to go; whereas now the care
of getting men will be over, and all come on board in one day: for, the
captain carrying the ticket to the office, he may go and choose his men
if he will; otherwise they will be sent on board to him, by tickets sent
to their dwellings to repair on board such a ship.

5.  For all these men that the captain or master of the ship takes he
shall pay the office, not the seamen, 28s. per month (which 4s. per month
overplus of wages will be employed to pay the half-pay to the men out of
employ), and so in proportion of wages for juniors.

6.  All disputes concerning the mutinying of mariners, or other matters
of debate between the captains and men, to be tried by way of appeal in a
court for that purpose to be erected, as aforesaid.

7.  All discounting of wages and time, all damages of goods, averages,
stopping of pay, and the like, to be adjusted by stated and public rules
and laws in print, established by the same Act of Parliament, by which
means all litigious suits in the Court of Admiralty (which are infinite)
would be prevented.

8.  No ship that is permitted to enter at the Custom House and take in
goods should ever be refused men, or delayed in the delivering them above
five days after a demand made and a ticket from the Custom House
delivered (general cases, as arrests and embargoes, excepted).

_The Consequences of this Method_.

1.  By this means the public would have no want of seamen, and all the
charges and other inconveniences of pressing men would be prevented.

2.  The intolerable oppression upon trade, from the exorbitance of wages
and insolence of mariners, would be taken off.

3.  The following sums of money should be paid to the office, to lie in
bank as a public fund for the service of the nation, to be disposed of by
order of Parliament, and not otherwise; a committee being a ways
substituted in the intervals of the session to audit the accounts, and a
treasury for the money, to be composed of members of the House, and to be
changed every session of Parliament:

(1).  Four shillings per month wages advanced by the merchants to the
office for the men, more than the office pays them.

(2).  In consideration of the reducing men’s wages, and consequently
freights, to the former prices (or near them), the owners of ships or
merchants shall pay at the importation of all goods forty shillings per
ton freight, to be stated upon all goods and ports in proportion;
reckoning it on wine tonnage from Canaries as the standard, and on
special freights in proportion to the freight formerly paid, and half the
said price in times of peace.

_Note_.—This may well be done, and no burden; for if freights are reduced
to their former prices (or near it), as they will be if wages are so too,
then the merchant may well pay it: as, for instance, freight from Jamaica
to London, formerly at £6 10s. per ton, now at £18 and £20; from
Virginia, at £5 to £6 10s., now at £14, £16, and £17; from Barbadoes, at
£6, now at £16; from Oporto, at £2, now at £6; and the like.

The payment of the above-said sums being a large bank for a fund, and it
being supposed to be in fair hands and currently managed, the merchants
shall further pay upon all goods shipped out, and shipped on board from
abroad, for and from any port of this kingdom, £4 per cent. on the real
value, _bonâ fide_; to be sworn to if demanded.  In consideration whereof
the said office shall be obliged to pay and make good all losses,
damages, averages, and casualties whatsoever, as fully as by the custom
of assurances now is done, without any discounts, rebates, or delays
whatsoever; the said £4 per cent. to be stated on the voyage to the
Barbadoes, and enlarged or taken off, in proportion to the voyage, by
rules and laws to be printed and publicly known.

Reserving only, that then, as reason good, the said office shall have
power to direct ships of all sorts, how and in what manner, and how long
they shall sail with or wait for convoys; and shall have power (with
limitations) to lay embargoes on ships, in order to compose fleets for
the benefit of convoys.

These rules, formerly noted, to extend to all trading by sea, the
coasting and home-fishing trade excepted; and for them it should be

First, for coals; the colliers being provided with men at 28s. per month,
and convoys in sufficient number, and proper stations from Tynemouth Bar
to the river, so as they need not go in fleets, but as wind and weather
presents, run all the way under the protection of the men-of-war, who
should be continually cruising from station to station, they would be
able to perform their voyage, in as short time as formerly, and at as
cheap pay, and consequently could afford to sell their coals at 17s. per
chaldron, as well as formerly at 15s.

Wherefore there should be paid into the treasury appointed at Newcastle,
by bond to be paid where they deliver, 10s. per chaldron, Newcastle
measure; and the stated price at London to be 27s. per chaldron in the
Pool, which is 30s. at the buyer’s house; and is so far from being dear,
a time of war especially, as it is cheaper than ever was known in a war;
and the officers should by proclamation confine the seller to that price.

In consideration also of the charge of convoys, the ships bringing coals
shall all pay £1 per cent. on the value of the ship, to be agreed on at
the office; and all convoy-money exacted by commanders of ships shall be
relinquished, and the office to make good all losses of ships, not goods,
that shall be lost by enemies only.

These heads, indeed, are such as would need some explication, if the
experiment were to be made; and, with submission, would reduce the seamen
to better circumstances; at least, it would have them in readiness for
any public service much easier than by all the late methods of
encouragement by registering seamen, &c.

For by this method all the seamen in the kingdom should be the king’s
hired servants, and receive their wages from him, whoever employed them;
and no man could hire or employ them but from him.  The merchant should
hire them of the king, and pay the king for them; nor would there be a
seaman in England out of employ—which, by the way, would prevent their
seeking service abroad.  If they were not actually at sea they would
receive half-pay, and might be employed in works about the yards, stores,
and navy, to keep all things in repair.

If a fleet or squadron was to be fitted out they would be manned in a
week’s time, for all the seamen in England would be ready.  Nor would
they be shy of the service; for it is not an aversion to the king’s
service, nor it is not that the duty is harder in the men-of-war than the
merchant-men, nor it is not fear of danger which makes our seamen lurk
and hide and hang back in a time of war, but it is wages is the matter:
24s. per month in the king’s service, and 40s. to 50s. per month from the
merchant, is the true cause; and the seaman is in the right of it, too;
for who would serve his king and country, and fight, and be knocked on
the head at 24s. per month that can have 50s. without that hazard?  And
till this be remedied, in vain are all the encouragements which can be
given to seamen; for they tend but to make them insolent, and encourage
their extravagance.

Nor would this proceeding be any damage to the seamen in general; for
24s. per month wages, and to be kept in constant service (or half-pay
when idle), is really better to the seaman than 45s. per month, as they
now take it, considering how long they often lie idle on shore out of
pay; for the extravagant price of seamen’s wages, though it has been an
intolerable burden to trade, has not visibly enriched the sailors, and
they may as well be content with 24s. per month now as formerly.

On the other hand, trade would be sensibly revived by it, the intolerable
price of freights would be reduced, and the public would reap an immense
benefit by the payments mentioned in the proposal; as—

1.  4s. per month upon the wages of all the seamen employed by the
merchant (which if we allow 200,000 seamen always in employ, as there
cannot be less in all the ships belonging to England) is £40,000 per

2.  40s. per ton freight upon all goods imported.

3.  4 per cent. on the value of all goods exported or imported.

4. 10s. per chaldron upon all the coals shipped at Newcastle, and 1 per
cent. on the ships which carry them.

What these four articles would pay to the Exchequer yearly it would be
very difficult to calculate, and I am too near the end of this book to
attempt it: but I believe no tax ever given since this war has come near

It is true, out of this the public would be to pay half-pay to the seamen
who shall be out of employ, and all the losses, and damages on goods and
ships; which, though it might be considerable, would be small, compared
to the payment aforesaid: for as the premium of 4 per cent. is but small,
so the safety lies upon all men being bound to insure.  For I believe any
one will grant me this: it is not the smallness of a premium ruins the
insurer, but it is the smallness of the quantity he insures; and I am not
at all ashamed to affirm that, let but a premium of £4 per cent. be paid
into one man’s hand for all goods imported and exported, and any man may
be the general insurer of the kingdom, and yet that premium can never
hurt the merchant either.

So that the vast revenue this would raise would be felt nowhere: neither
poor nor rich would pay the more for coals; foreign goods would be
brought home cheaper, and our own goods carried to market cheaper; owners
would get more by ships, merchants by goods; and losses by sea would be
no loss at all to anybody, because repaid by the public stock.

Another unseen advantage would arise by it: we should be able to outwork
all our neighbours, even the Dutch themselves, by sailing as cheap and
carrying goods as cheap in a time of war as in peace—an advantage which
has more in it than is easily thought of, and would have a noble
influence upon all our foreign trade.  For what could the Dutch do in
trade if we could carry our goods to Cadiz at 50s. per ton freight, and
they give £8 or £10 and the like in other places?  Whereby we could be
able to sell cheaper or get more than our neighbours.

There are several considerable clauses might be added to this proposal
(some of great advantage to the general trade of the kingdom, some to
particular trades, and more to the public), but I avoid being too
particular in things which are but the product of my own private opinion.

If the Government should ever proceed to the experiment, no question but
much more than has been hinted at would appear; nor do I see any great
difficulty in the attempt, or who would be aggrieved at it; and there I
leave it, rather wishing than expecting to see it undertaken.


UPON a review of the several chapters of this book I find that, instead
of being able to go further, some things may have suffered for want of
being fully expressed; which if any person object against, I only say, I
cannot now avoid it.  I have endeavoured to keep to my title, and offered
but an essay; which any one is at liberty to go on with as they please,
for I can promise no supplement.  As to errors of opinion, though I am
not yet convinced of any, yet I nowhere pretend to infallibility.
However, I do not willingly assert anything which I have not good grounds
for.  If I am mistaken, let him that finds the error inform the world
better, and never trouble himself to animadvert upon this, since I assure
him I shall not enter into any pen-and-ink contest on the matter.

As to objections which may lie against any of the proposals made in this
book, I have in some places mentioned such as occurred to my thoughts.  I
shall never assume that arrogance to pretend no other or further
objections may be raised; but I do really believe no such objection can
be raised as will overthrow any scheme here laid down so as to render the
thing impracticable.  Neither do I think but that all men will
acknowledge most of the proposals in this book would be of as great, and
perhaps greater, advantage to the public than I have pretended to.

As for such who read books only to find out the author’s _faux pas_, who
will quarrel at the meanness of style, errors of pointing, dulness of
expression, or the like, I have but little to say to them.  I thought I
had corrected it very carefully, and yet some mispointings and small
errors have slipped me, which it is too late to help.  As to language, I
have been rather careful to make it speak English suitable to the manner
of the story than to dress it up with exactness of style, choosing rather
to have it free and familiar, according to the nature of essays, than to
strain at a perfection of language which I rather wish for than pretend
to be master of.

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