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jects, will quickly find expedients to pay his debts; and so will the other, by their prudent administration, the greatness of their trade, their wonderful parsimony, the willingness of their people to undergo all kind of taxes, and their justice in applying, as well as collecting them. But above all we are to consider, that France and Holland fight on the continent, either upon or near their own territories, and the greatest part of the money circulates among themselves; whereas ours crosses the sea, either to Flanders, Spain, or Portugal; and every penny of it, whether in species or returns, is so much lost to the nation for ever.
Upon these considerations alone, it was the most prudent course imaginable in the queen, to lay hold of the disposition of the people for changing the parliament and ministry at this juncture, and extricating herself as soon as possible out of the pupillage of those who found their accounts only in perpetuating the war. Neither have we the least reason to doubt but the ensuing parliament will assist her majesty with the utmost vigour, until her enemies again be brought to sue for peace, and again offer such terms as will make it both honourable and lasting; only with this difference, that the ministry perhaps will not again refuse them. *
Audiet pugnas, vitio parentum
HOR. Book I. Ode 2.
* In 1709 a treaty for peace was carried on at Gertruydenberg, the Marquis de Tercy being plenipotentiary for France, the Duke of Marlborough and Lord Townsend for England. Preliminary articles were actually signed, but Louis XIV. declined to ratify them, objecting chiefly to that which not only excluded his grandson, the Duke of Anjou, from the Spanish monarchy, but stipulated that France should assist in compelling him to evacuate that kingdom. The Tories contended, that a clause so harsh and un
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1710.
E quibus hi vacuas implent sermonibus aures,
With idle tales this fills our empty ears;
I AM prevailed on, through the importunity of friends, to interrupt the scheme I had begun in my last paper, by an Essay upon the Art of Political Lying. We are told the devil is the father of lies, and was a liar from the beginning; so that, beyond contradiction, the invention is old: and, which is more, his first Essay of it was purely political, employed in undermining the authority of his
natural, was only inserted by the Duke of Marlborough, in order to break off the treaty, and secure himself in his power and emoluments as commander in chief. The Whigs, on the other hand, insisted, that nothing less could secure the independence of the Spanish crown, and the separation between its monarchy and that of France.
Swift afterwards wrote a light and lively pamphlet, upon a more general and less factious view of this copious theme than is taken in the Examiner.
prince, and seducing a third part of the subjects from their obedience: for which he was driven down from Heaven, where (as Milton expresses it) he had been viceroy of a great western province; and forced to exercise his talent in inferior regions among other fallen spirits, poor or deluded men, whom he still daily tempts to his own sin, and will ever do so, till he be chained in the bottomless pit.
But although the devil be the father of lies, he seems, like other great inventors, to have lost much of his reputation, by the continual improvements that have been made upon him.
Who first reduced lying into an art, and adapted it to politics, is not so clear from history, although I have made some diligent inquiries. I shall therefore consider it only according to the modern system, as it has been cultivated these twenty years past in the southern part of our own island.
The poets tell us, that after the giants were overthrown by the gods, the earth in revenge produced her last offspring, which was Fame. And the fable is thus interpreted: that when tumults and seditions are quieted, rumours and false reports are plentifully spread through a nation. So that, by this account, lying is the last relief of a routed, earth-born, rebellious party in a state. But here the moderns have made great additions, applying this art to the gaining of power and preserving it, as well as revenging themselves after they have lost it; as the same instruments are made use of by animals to feed themselves when they are hungry, and to bite those that tread upon them.
* A proper parallel therefore for the Earl of Wharton, late lieutenant of Ireland, against whom this whole paper is directed,
But the same genealogy cannot always be admitted for political lying; I shall therefore desire to refine upon it, by adding some circumstances of its birth and parents. A political lie is sometimes born out of a discarded statesman's head, and thence delivered to be nursed and dandled by the rabble. Sometimes it is produced a monster, and licked into shape at other times it comes into the world completely formed, and is spoiled in the licking. It is often born an infant in the regular way, and requires time to mature it; and often it sees the light in its full growth, but dwindles away by degrees. Sometimes it is of noble birth; and sometimes the spawn of a stock-jobber. Here it screams aloud at the opening of the womb; and there it is delivered with a whisper. I know a lie that now disturbs half the kingdom with its noise, which, although too proud and great at present to own its parents, I can remember its whisperhood. To conclude the nativity of this monster; when it comes into the world without a sting, it is still-born; and whenever it loses its sting, it dies.
No wonder if an infant so miraculous in its birth should be destined for great adventures; and accordingly we see it has been the guardian spirit of a prevailing party for almost twenty years. It can conquer kingdoms without fighting, and sometimes with the loss of a battle. It gives and resumes employments; can sink a mountain to a mole-hill, and raise a mole-hill to a mountain: has presided for many years at committees of elections; can wash a blackmoor white; make a saint of an atheist, and a patriot of a profligate; can furnish foreign ministers with intelligence, and raise or let fail the credit of the nation. This goddess flies with a huge looking-glass in her hands, to dazzle the crowd, and make them see, according as she turns it, their ruin
in their interest, and their interest in their ruin. In this glass you will behold your best friends, clad in coats powdered with fleurs de lis, and triple crowns; their girdles hung round with chains, and beads, and wooden shoes;* and your worst enemies, adorned with the ensigns of liberty, property, indulgence, moderation, and a cornucopia in their hands. Her large wings, like those of a flying† fish, are of no use but while they are moist; she therefore dips them in mud, and soaring aloft scatters it in the eyes of the multitude, flying with great swiftness; but at every turn is forced to stoop in dirty ways for new supplies.
I have been sometimes thinking, if a man had the art of the second sight for seeing lies, as they have in Scotland for seeing spirits, how admirably he might entertain himself in this town, by observing the different shapes, sizes, and colours of those swarms of lies which buzz about the heads of some people, like flies about a horse's ears in summer; or those legions hovering every afternoon in Exchangealley, enough to darken the air; or over a club of discontented grandees, and thence sent down in cargoes to be scattered at elections.
There is one essential point wherein a political liar differs from others of the faculty; that he ought to have but a short memory, which is necessary, according to the various occasions he meets with every hour of differing from himself, and swearing to both sides of a contradiction, as he finds the persons disposed with whom he has to deal. In describing the virtues and vices of mankind, it is convenient,
* The Tories, accused of being in the interest of France. The Whigs, who assumed to themselves exclusively the merit of patriotism.