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other present, except that of a few books; nor did I want their assistance to support me.
often dined indeed with the treasurer and secretary ; but, in those days, that was not reckoned a bribe, whatever it may have been at any time since. I absolutely refused to be chaplain to the lord treasurer; because I thought it would ill become me to be in a state of dependence. I
say this, to show that I had no other bias than my own opinion of persons and affairs. I preserved several of the opposite party in their employments, who were persons of wit and learning, particularly Mr. Addison and Mr. Congreve, neither of whom were ever in any danger from the treasurer, who much esteemed them both; and by his lordship's commands, I brought the latter to dine with him. Mr. Steele might have been safe enough, if his continually repeated indiscretions, and a zeal mingled with scurrilities, had not forfeited all title to lenity.
I know very well the numberless prejudices of weak and deceived people, as well as the malice of those, who, to serve their own interest or am, bition, have cast off all religion, morality, justice, and common decency. However, although perhaps I may not be believed in the present age, yet I hope to be so in the next, by all who will bear any regard for the honour and liberty of England, if either of these shall then subsist or
I have no interest, or inclination, to palliate the mistakes, or omissions, or want of steadiness, or unhappy misunderstandings, among a few of those who then presided in affairs,
Nothing is more common, than the virulence of superficial and ill-informed writers, against the conduct of those who are now called prime ministers : and since factions appear at present, to be at a greater height than in any former times, although perhaps not so equally poised ; it may probably concern those who are now in their height, if they have any regard to their own memories in future ages, to be less warm against others, who humbly differ from them in some state opinions. Old persons remember, at least by tradition, the horrible prejudices that prevailed against the first earl of Clarendon, whose character, as it now stands, might be a pattern for all ministers; although even bishop Burnet of Sarum, whose principles, veracity, and manner of writing, are so little esteemed upon many accounts, has been at the pains to vindicate him.
Upon that irreparable breach between the treasurer and secretary Bolingbroke, after my utmost endeavours, for above two years, to reconcile them, I retired to a friend in Berkshire; where I staid until her majesty's death; and then immediately returned to my station in Dublin, where I continued about twelve years without once seeing England. I there often reviewed the following Memoirs; neither changing nor adding, farther than by correcting the style : and if I have been guilty of any mistakes, they must be of small moment; for it was hardly possible I could be wrong informed *, with all the advantages I have already mentioned. I shall not be very uneasy, under the obloquy * It should be, wrongly informed. S.
that may perhaps be cast upon me, by the violent leaders and followers of the present prevailing party. And yet I cannot find the least inconsistence with conscience or honour, upon the death of so excellent a princess as her late majesty, for a wise and good man to submit, with a true and loyal heart, to her lawful protestant successor ; whose hereditary title was confirmed by the queen and both houses of parliament, with the greatest unanimity; after it had been made an article in the treaty, that every prince in our alliance, should be a guarantee of that succession. Nay, I will venture to go one step farther; that if the negotiators of that peace had been chosen out of the most professed zealots for the interest of the Hanover family, they could not have bound up the French king, or the Hollanders, more strictly, than the queen's plenipotentiaries did, in confirming the present succession ; which was in them, so much a greater mark of virtue and loyalty, because they perfectly well knew, that they should never receive the least mark of favour, when the succession had taken place.
FOUR LAST YEARS
I PROPOSE to give the publick an account of the most important affairs at home, during the last session of parliament; as well as of our negotiations of peace abroad, not only during that pe- , riod, but some time before and since. I shall relate the chief matters transacted by both houses in that session; and discover the designs carried on, by the heads of a discontented party, not only against the ministry, but in some manner against the crown itself; I likewise shall state the debts of the nation; show by what mismanagement, and to serve what purposes, they were at first contracted; by what negligence or corruption, they have so prodigiously grown; and what methods have since been taken, to provide not only for their payment, but to prevent the like mischief for the time to come. Although, in an age like ours, I can expect very few impartial readers, yet I shall strictly
follow truth; or what reasonably appeared to me to be such, after the most impartial inquiries I could make, and the best opportunities of being informed, by those who were the principal actors or advisers.
Neither shall I mingle panegyrick or satire with a history intended to inform posterity, as well as to instruct those of the present age, who may be ignorant or misled; since facts, truly related, are the best applauses, or most lasting reproaches.
Discourses upon subjects relating to the publick, usually seem to be calculated for London only, and some few miles about it; while the authors suppose their readers to be informed of several particulars, to which those that live remote, are, for the generality, utter strangers. Most people who frequent this town, acquire a sort of smattering, such as it is, which qualifies them for reading a pamphlet, and finding out what is meant by innuendoes or hints at facts or persons, and initial letters of names; wherein gentlemen at a distance, although perhaps of much better understandings, are wholly in the dark : wherefore, that these memoirs may be rendered more generally intelligible and useful, it will be convenient to give the reader a short view of the state and disposition of affairs, when the last session of parliament began. And because the party leaders, who had lost their power and places, were, upon that juncture, employing all their engines, in an attempt to re-establish themselves; I shall venture one step farther, and represent so much of their characters, as may be supposed to have influenced their politicks.