Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

man observe the equipages in this town, he shall find the greater number of those who make a figure, to be a species of men quite different from any that were ever known before the Revolution; consisting either of generals and colonels, or of those whose whole fortunes lie in funds and stocks; so that power, which according to the old maxim was used to follow land, is now gone over to money; and the country gentleman is in the condition of a young

heir, out of whose estate, a scrivener receives half the rents for interest, and has a mortgage on the whole ; and is therefore always ready to feed his vices and extravagances, while there is any thing left. So that, if the war continue some years longer, a landed man will be little better than a farmer of a rack-rent to the army, and to the public funds.

It may perhaps be worth enquiring, from what beginnings, and by what steps, we have been brought into this desperate condition: and in search of this, we must run up as high as the Revolution.

Most of the nobility and gentry who invited over the Prince of Orange, or attended him in his expedition, were true lovers of their country, and its constitution in church and state; and were brought to yield to those breaches in the succession of the crown, out of a regard to the necessity of the kingdom, and the safety of the people, which did, and could only make them lawful ; but without intention of drawing such a practice into precedent, or making it a standing measure by which to proceed in all times to come: and therefore we find their counsels ever tended to keep things, as much as possible, in the old course. But soon after, an under set of men, who had nothing to lose, and had neither borne the burden nor heat of the day, found means to whisper in the king's ear, that the principles of loyalty in the church of England were

[ocr errors]

wholly inconsistent with the Revolution. Hence began the early practice of caressing the dissenters, reviling the universities as maintainers of arbitrary power, and reproaching the clergy with the doctrines of divine right, passive obedience, and nonresistance. At the same time, in order to fasten wealthy people to the new government, they proposed those pernicious expedients of borrowing money by vast premiums, and at extortionate interest : a practice as old as Eumenes, one of Alexander's captains, who, setting up for himself after the death of his miaster, persuaded his principal officers to lend him great sums, after which they were forced to follow him for their own security.

This introduced a number of new dextrous men into business and credit. It was argued, that the war could not last above two or three campaigns; and that it was easier for the subjects to raise a fund for paying interest, than to tax them annually to the full expense of the war.

Several persons, who had small or encumbered estates, sold them, and turned their money into those funds, to great advantage: merchants, as well as other monied men, finding trade was dangerous, pursued the same method. But the war continuing, and growing more expensive, taxes were increased, and funds multiplied every year, till they have arrived at the monstrous height we now behold them; and that, which was at first a corruption, is at last grown necessary, and what every good subject must now fall in with, although he may be allowed to wish it might soon have an end; because it is with a kingdom as with a private fortune, where every new incumbrance adds a double weight. By this means the wealth of a nation, that used to be reckoned by the value of land, is now computed by the rise and fall of stocks: and although the foundation of cre:

[blocks in formation]

dit be still the same, and upon a bottom that can never be shaken, and although all interest be duly paid by the public, yet, through the contrivance and cunning of stock-jobbers, there has been brought in such a complication of knavery and cozenage, such a mystery of iniquity, and such an unintelligible jargon of terms to involve it in, as were never known in any other age or country in the world. I have heard it affirmed, by persons skilled in these calculations, that if the funds appropriated to the payment of interest and annuities were added to the yearly taxes, and the four-shilling aid strictly exacted in all counties of the kingdom, it would very near, if not fully, supply the occasions of the war, at least such a part as, in the opinion of very

able persons, had been at that time prudent not to exceed. For I make it a question, whether any wise prince or state, in the continuance of a war, which was not purely defensive, or immediately at his own door, did ever propose that his

perpetually exceed what he was able to impose annually upon his subjects. Neither, if the war last many years longer, do I see how the next generation will be able to begin another; which, in the course of human affairs, and according to the various interests and ambition of princes, may be as necessary for them as it has been for us. And if our fathers had left us deeply involved, as we are likely to leave our children, I appeal to any man, what sort of figure we should have been able to make these twenty years past. Besides, neither our enemies nor allies are upon the same foot with us in this particular. France and Holland, our nearest neighbours, and the farthest engaged, will much sooner recover themselves after a war : the first, by the absolute power of the prince, who, being master of the lives and fortunes of his sub

expense should

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 utınost 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

Raru, Juventus.

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 chiefy 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 unnatural, 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.

No. XIV.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1710.

E quibus hi vacuas implent sermonibus aures,

Hi narrata ferunt alio : mensuraque ficti
Crescit, et auditis aliquid novus adjicit auctor.
Illic Credulitas, illic temerarius Error,
Vanaque Lætitia est, consternatique Timores,
Seditioque recens, dubioque auctore Susurri.

With idle tales this fills our empty ears ;
The next reports what from the first he hears ;
The rolling fictions grow in strength and size,
Each author adding to the former lies.
Here vain credulity, with new desires,
Leads us astray, and groundless joy inspires ;
The dubious whispers, tumults fresh design'd,
And chilling fears astound the anxious mind.

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

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.

« PredošláPokračovať »