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It must needs be a very comfortable circumstance in the present juncture, that some thousand families are gone, are going, or preparing to go from hence, and settle themselves in America: the poorer sort for want of work; the farmers; whose beneficial bargains are now become a rackrent too hard to be born, and those who have any ready money, or can purchase any by the sale of their goods or leases, because they find their fortunes hourly decaying, that their goods will bear no price, and that few or none have any money to buy the very necessaries of life, are hastening to follow their departed neighbours. It is true, corn among us carries a very high price; but it is for the same reason, that rats and cats, and dead horses, have been often bought for gold in a town besieged.
There is a person of quality in my neighbourhood, who, twenty years ago, when he was just come to age, being unexperienced, and of a generous temper, let his lands, even as times went then, at a low rate to able tenants; and consequently, by the rise of lands since that time, looked upon his estate to be set at half value: but numbers of these tenants, or their descendants, are now offering to sell their leases by cant, * even those which were for lives, some of them renewable for ever, and some fee-farms, which the landlord himself has bought in at half the price they would have yielded seven years ago. And some leases let at the same time for lives, have been given up to him without any consideration at all.
This is the most favourable face of all things at
* Or auction,
present among us; I say, among us of the north, who were esteemed the only thriving people of the kingdom.
And how far, and how soon, this misery and desolation may spread, it is easy to foresee.
The vast sums of money daily carried off by our numerous adventurers to America, have deprived us of our gold in these parts, almost as inuch as of our silver. And the good wives who come to our houses, offer us their pieces of linen, upon which their whole dependence lies, for so little profit, that it can neither half pay their rents, nor half support their families.
It is remarkable, that this enthusiasm spread among our northern people, of sheltering themselves in the continent of America, has no other foundation than their present insupportable condition at home. I have made all possible inquiries to learn what encouragement our people have met with, by any intelligence from those plantations, sufficient to make them undertake so tedious and hazardous a voyage in all seasons of the year, and so ill accommodated in their ships, that many of them have died miserably in their passage, but could never get one satisfactory answer. Somebody, they knew not who, had written letters to his friend or cousin from thence, inviting him by all means to come over; that it was a fine fruitful country, and to be held for ever at a penny an
But the truth of the fact is this : the English established in those colonies are in great want of men to inhabit that tract of ground which lies between them and the wild Indians, who are not reduced under their dominion. We read of some barbarous people, whom the Romans placed in their army for no other service than to blunt their enemies swords, and afterward to fill
with their dead bodies. And thus our people, who transport themselves, are settled into those interjacent tracts, as a screen against the insults of the savages; and many have as much land as they can clear from the woods, at a very reasonable rate, if they can afford to pay about a hundred years purchase by their labour. Now, beside the fox's reason,
* which inclines all those who have already ventured thither to represent every thing in a false light, as well for justifying their own conduct, as for getting companions in their misery, the governing people in those plantations have also wisely provided, that no letters shall be suffered to pass from thence hither, without being first viewed by the council; by which, our people here are wholly deceived in the opinions they have of the happy condition of their friends gone before them. This was accidentally discovered some months ago by an honest man, who, having transported himself and family thither, and finding all things directly contrary to his hope, had the luck to convey a private note by a faithful hand to his relation here, entreating him not to think of such a voyage, and to discourage all his friends from attempting it. Yet this, although it be a truth well known, has produced very little effect; which is no manner of wonder; for, as it is natural to a man in a fever to turn often, although without any hope of ease; or, when he is pursued, to leap down a precipice, to avoid an enemy just at his back; so, men in the extremest degree of misery and want, will naturally fly to the first appearance of relief, let it be ever so vain or visionary.
* The fox who, having lost his tail, would have persuaded the rest to cut off theirs.
You may observe, that I have very superficially touched the subject I began with, and with the utmost caution; for I know how criminal the least complaint has been thought, however seasonable or just or honestly intended, which has forced me to offer up my daily prayers, that it may never, at least in my time, be interpreted by inuendoes as a false, scandalous, seditious, and disaffected action, for a man to roar under an acute fit of the gout; which, beside the loss and the danger, would be very inconvenient to one of my age, so severely afflicted with that distemper.
I wish you good success, but I can promise you little, in an ungrateful office you have taken up without the least view either to reputation or profit. Perhaps your comfort is, that none but villains and betrayers of their country can be your enemies. Upon which I have little to say, having not the honour to be acquainted with many of that sort; and therefore, as you may easily believe, am compelled to lead a very retired life.
I am, Sir,
PREFACE TO TEMPLE's WORKS.
Sir William Temple having bequeathed to Swift the care and pru:
perty of his Posthumous Works, he published in 1700“ Letters written by Sir William Temple, Bart. and other Ministers of State, both at home and abroad; containing an account of the most important transactions that passed in Christendom, from 1665 to 1672: Reviewed by Sir William Temple some time before his death, and published by Jonathan Swift, Domestic Chaplain to his Excellency the Earl of Berkeley, one of the Lords Justices of Ireland.” The publication was accompanied by the following Dedication and Preface.
TO THE TWO FIRST VOLUMES OF
SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE'S LETTERS.
To his most sacred majesty, William the Third, King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, &o. These letters of sir William Temple having been left to my care, they are most humbly presented to your majesty, by
* “ Neither this Dedication, nor tenderness for the man whom once he had loaded with confidence and fondness, revived in king William the remembrance of his promise.
Swift awhile attended the court, but soon found his solicitations hopeless."