Part 3 out of 3
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
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
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
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'
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
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 was:
"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
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
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
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 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,
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
Pounds per ann.
The general . . . . . . . . . . 300
The colonels . . . . . . . . . . 100
The captains . . . . . . . . . . 60
2,000 scholars, among whom shall be the following degrees:
Pounds per ann.
Governors . . . . 100 allowed 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
Pounds 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 pounds 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 pounds 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
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
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 follows.
Pounds per ann.
The general . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300
5 colonels at 100 pounds 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 pounds per head per 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. 40,000
A governor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
A president . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
50 college-majors at 50 pounds per ann. each . . . . . . 2,500
200 proficients at 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,000
Commons for 500 students during times of exercises at
5 pounds per ann. each . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,500
200 proficients' subsistence, reckoning as above . . . . 4,000
The gentlemen here are maintained as gentlemen, and
are to have good tables, who shall therefore have
an allowance at the rate of 25 pounds per head,
all officers to be maintained out of it; which
is . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25,000
100 teachers, salary and subsistence ditto . . . . . . 4,500
50 college-majors at 10 pounds 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:
Decimal arithmetic. Intrenching.
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 without.
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
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 ourselves.
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
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
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
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
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
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 breeding.
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
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
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
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.
OF A COURT MERCHANT.
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
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
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
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
(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 subject.
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 pounds 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 pounds 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,
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
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,
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
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 pounds 10s.
per ton, now at 18 pounds and 20 pounds; from Virginia, at 5 pounds
to 6 pounds 10s., now at 14 pounds, 16 pounds, and 17 pounds; from
Barbadoes, at 6 pounds, now at 16 pounds; from Oporto, at 2 pounds,
now at 6 pounds; 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
pounds per cent. on the real value, bona 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
pounds 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
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 pound 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
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
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;
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 pounds per month.
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.
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 pounds 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
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 pounds or 10 pounds 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
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