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The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, Vol. III.: Swift's Writings on Religion and the Church, Vol. I. by Jonathan Swift

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viceroys will have fewer good preferments to bestow on their dependants,
as well as upon the kindred of members, who may have a sufficient stock
of that sort of merit, whatever it may be, which may in future times
most prevail.

The Dissenters, by not succeeding in their endeavours to procure a
repeal of the Test, have lost nothing, but continue in full enjoyment of
their toleration; while the Clergy without giving the least offence, are
by this Bill deprived of a considerable branch of their ancient legal
rights, whereby the schismatical party will have the pleasure of
gratifying their revenge. _Hoc Graii voluere._

The farmer will find no relief by this _Modus_, because, when his
present lease shall expire, his landlord will infallibly raise the rent
in an equal proportion, upon every part of land where flax is sown, and
have so much a better security for payment at the expense of the Clergy.

If we judge by things past, it little avails that this Bill is to be
limited to a certain time of ten, twenty, or thirty years. For no
landlord will ever consent that a law shall expire, by which he finds
himself a gainer; and of this there are many examples, as well in
England, as in this kingdom.

The great end of this Bill is, by proper encouragement to extend the
linen manufacture into those counties where it hath hitherto been little
cultivated: But this encouragement _of lessening the tithe of flax and
hemp_ is one of such a kind as, it is to be feared, will have a directly
contrary effect. Because, if I am rightly informed, no set of men hath
for their number and fortunes been more industrious and successful than
the Clergy, in introducing that manufacture into places which were
unacquainted with it; by persuading their people to sow flax and hemp,
by procuring seed for them and by having them instructed in the
management thereof; and this they did not without reasonable hopes of
increasing the value of their parishes after some time, as well as of
promoting the benefit of the public. But if this _Modus_ should take
place, the Clergy will be so far from gaining that they will become
losers by any extraordinary care, by having their best arable lands
turned to flax and hemp, which are reckoned great impoverishers of land:
They cannot therefore be blamed, if they should shew as much zeal to
prevent its being introduced or improved in their parishes as they
hitherto have shewed in the introducing and improving of it. This, I am
told, some of them have already declared at least so far as to resolve
not to give themselves any more trouble than other men about promoting a
manufacture by the success of which, they only of all men are to be
sufferers. Perhaps the giving them even a further encouragement than the
law doth, as it now stands, to a set of men who might on many accounts
be so useful to this purpose, would be no bad method of having the great
end of the Bill more effectually answered: But this is what they are far
from desiring; all they petition for is no more than to continue on the
same footing with the rest of their fellow-subjects.

If this _Modus_ of paying by the acre be to pass into a law, it were to
be wished that the same law would appoint one or more sworn surveyors in
each parish to measure the lands on which flax and hemp are sown, as
also would settle the price of surveying, and determine whether the
incumbent or farmer is to pay for each annual survey. Without something
of this kind, there must constantly be disputes between them, and the
neighbouring justices of peace must be teazed as often as those disputes

I had written thus far, when a paper was sent to me with several reasons
against the Bill, some whereof although they have been already touched,
are put in a better light, and the rest did not occur to me. I shall
deliver them in the author's own words.

N.B. Some Alterations have been made in the Bill about the _Modus_,
since the above paper was writ; but they are of little moment.

***** ***** ***** *****







I. That tithes are the patrimony of the Church: And if not of Divine
original, yet at least of great antiquity.

II. That all purchases and leases of titheable lands, for many centuries
past, have been made and taken, subject to the demand of tithes, and
those lands sold and taken just so much the cheaper on that account.

III. That if any lands are exempted from tithes; or the legal demands
of such tithes lessened by act of parliament, so much value is taken
from the proprietor of the tithes, and vested in the proprietor of the
lands, or his head tenants.

IV. That no innocent unoffending person can be so deprived of his
property without the greatest violation of common justice.

V. That to do this upon a prospect of encouraging the linen, or any
other manufacture, is acting upon a very mistaken and unjust
supposition, inasmuch as the price of the lands so occupied will be no
way lessened to the farmer by such a law.

VI. That the Clergy are content cheerfully to bear (as they now do) any
burden in common with their fellow-subjects, either for the support of
his Majesty's government, or the encouragement of the trade of the
nation but think it very hard, that they should be singled out to pay
heavier taxes than others, at a time when by the decrease of the value
of their parishes they are less able to bear them.

VII. That the legislature hath heretofore distinguished the Clergy by
exemptions, and not by additional loads, and the present Clergy of the
kingdom hope they have not deserved worse of the legislature than their

VIII. That by the original constitution of these kingdoms, the Clergy
had the sole right of taxing themselves, and were in possession of that
right as low as the Restoration: And if that right be now devolved upon
the Commons by the cession of the Clergy, the Commons can be considered
in this case in no other light than as the guardians of the Clergy.

IX. That besides those tithes always in the possession of the Clergy;
there are some portion of tithes lately come into their possession by
purchase; that if this clause should take place, they would not be
allowed the benefit of these purchases, upon an equal footing of
advantage with the rest of their fellow-subjects. And that some tithes
in the hands of impropriators, are under settlements and mortgages.

X. That the gentlemen of this House should consider, that loading the
Clergy is loading their own younger brothers and children; with this
additional grievance, that it is taking from the younger and poorer, to
give to the elder and richer. And,

_Lastly_, That, if it were at any time just and proper to do this, it
would however be too severe to do it now, when all the tithes of the
kingdom are known for some years past to have sunk above one-third part
in their value.

Any income in the hands of the Clergy, is at least as useful to the
public, as the same income in the hands of the laity.

It were more reasonable to grant the clergy in three parts of the nation
an additional support, than to diminish their present subsistence.

Great employments are and will be in the hands of Englishmen; nothing
left for the younger sons of Irishmen but vicarages, tide-waiters'
places, &c.; therefore no reason to make them worse.

The _Modus_ upon the flax in England, affects only lands reclaimed since
the year 1690, and is at the rate of five shillings the English acre,
which is equivalent to eight shillings and eightpence Irish, and that to
be paid before the farmer removed it from the field. Flax is a
manufacture of little consequence in England, but is the staple in
Ireland, and if it increases (as it probably will) must in many places
jostle out corn, because it is more gainful.

The Clergy of the Established Church, have no interest like those of the
Church of Rome, distinct from the true interest of their country; and
therefore ought to suffer under no distinct impositions or taxes of any

The Bill for settling the _Modus_ of flax in England, was brought in, in
the first year of the reign of King George I., when the Clergy lay very
unjustly under the imputation of some disaffection. And to encourage the
bringing in of some fens in Lincolnshire, which were not to be continued
under flax: But it left all lands where flax had been sown before that
time, under the same condition of tithing, in which they were before the
passing of that Bill: Whereas this bill takes away what the Clergy are
actually possessed of.

That the woollen manufacture is the staple of England, as the linen is
that of Ireland, yet no attempt was ever made in England to reduce the
tithe of wool, for the encouragement of that manufacture.

This manufacture hath already been remarkably favoured by the Clergy,
who have hitherto been generally content with less than half--some with
sixpence a garden--and some have taken nothing.

Employments they say have been taxed, the reasons for which taxation
will not hold with regard to property, at least till employments become

The Commons always have had so tender a regard to property; that they
never would suffer any law to pass, whereby any particular persons might
be aggrieved without their own consent.

***** ***** ***** *****





This essay was first printed in Nos. v. and vii. of "The Intelligencer"
(Dublin, 1728). In that periodical it bore the title: "A Description of
what the World calls Discretion;" and had the following lines from Ben
Jonson as a text:

"Described it's thus: Defined would you it have?
Then the World's honest Man's an errant knave."

The text here printed is based on the original issue, and collated with
the "Miscellanies," vol. iii. of 1732, and the "Miscellanies," vol. ii.,



There is no talent so useful towards rising in the world, or which puts
men more out of the reach of fortune, than that quality generally
possessed by the dullest sort of people, and is in common speech called
discretion; a species of lower prudence, by the assistance of which,
people of the meanest intellectuals, without any other qualification,
pass through the world in great tranquillity, and with universal good
treatment, neither giving nor taking offence. Courts are seldom
unprovided of persons under this character, on whom, if they happen to
be of great quality, most employments, even the greatest, naturally
fall, when competitors will not agree; and in such promotions, nobody
rejoices or grieves. The truth of this I could prove by several
instances within my own memory; for I say nothing of present times.

And, indeed, as regularity and forms are of great use in carrying on the
business of the world, so it is very convenient, that persons endued
with this kind of discretion, should have that share which is proper to
their talents, in the conduct of affairs, but by no means meddle in
matters which require genius, learning, strong comprehension, quickness
of conception, magnanimity, generosity, sagacity, or any other superior
gift of human minds. Because this sort of discretion is usually attended
with a strong desire of money, and few scruples about the way of
obtaining it; with servile flattery and submission; with a want of all
public spirit or principle; with a perpetual wrong judgment, when the
owners come into power and high place, how to dispose of favour and
preferment; having no measures for merit and virtue in others, but those
very steps by which themselves ascended; nor the least intention of
doing good or hurt to the public, farther than either one or t'other is
likely to be subservient to their own security or interest. Thus, being
void of all friendship and enmity, they never complain or find fault
with the times, and indeed never have reason to do so.

Men of eminent parts and abilities, as well as virtues, do sometimes
rise in the court, sometimes in the law, and sometimes even in the
Church. Such were the Lord Bacon, the Earl of Strafford, Archbishop
Laud, in the reign of King Charles I., and others in our own times, whom
I shall not name; but these, and many more, under different princes, and
in different kingdoms, were disgraced or banished, or suffered death,
merely in envy to their virtues and superior genius, which emboldened
them in great exigencies and distresses of state, (wanting a reasonable
infusion of this aldermanly discretion,) to attempt the service of their
prince and country, out of the common forms.

This evil fortune, which generally attends extraordinary men in the
management of great affairs, has been imputed to divers causes that need
not be here set down, when so obvious a one occurs, if what a certain
writer observes be true, that when a great genius appears in the world,
the dunces are all in confederacy against him. And if this be his fate
when he employs his talents[1] wholly in his closet, without interfering
with any man's ambition or avarice, what must he expect, when he
ventures out to seek for preferment in a court, but universal opposition
when he is mounting the ladder, and every hand ready to turn him off
when he is at the top? And in this point, fortune generally acts
directly contrary to nature; for in nature we find, that bodies full of
life and spirits mount easily, and are hard to fall, whereas heavy
bodies are hard to rise, and come down with greater velocity, in
proportion to their weight; but we find fortune every day acting just
the reverse of this.

[Footnote 1: "And thus although he employs his talents." This is the
reading of "The Intelligencer." [T.S.]]

This talent of discretion, as I have described it in its several
adjuncts and circumstances, is nowhere so serviceable as to the clergy,
to whose preferment nothing is so fatal as the character of wit,
politeness in reading or manners, or that kind of behaviour which we
contract by having too much conversation with persons of high station
and eminency: these qualifications being reckoned, by the vulgar of all
ranks, to be marks of levity, which is the last crime the world will
pardon in a clergyman; to this I may add a free manner of speaking in
mixed company, and too frequent an appearance in places of much resort,
which are equally noxious to spiritual promotion.

I have known, indeed, a few exceptions to some parts of these
observations.[2] I have seen some of the dullest men alive aiming at
wit, and others, with as little pretensions, affecting politeness in
manners and discourse: But never being able to persuade the world of
their guilt, they grew into considerable stations, upon the firm
assurance which all people had of their discretion, because they were of
a size too low to deceive the world to their own disadvantage. But this,
I confess, is a trial too dangerous often to engage in.

[Footnote 2: This word is "regulations" in "The Intelligencer." [T.S.]]

There is a known story of a clergyman, who was recommended for a
preferment by some great men at court, to an archbishop.[3] His grace
said, "he had heard that the clergyman used to play at whist and
swobbers;[4] that as to playing now and then a sober game at whist for
pastime, it might be pardoned, but he could not digest those wicked
swobbers;" and it was with some pains that my Lord Somers could
undeceive him. I ask, by what talents we may suppose that great prelate
ascended so high, or what sort of qualifications he would expect in
those whom he took into his patronage, or would probably recommend to
court for the government of distant churches?

[Footnote 3: Archbishop Tenison, who, by all contemporary accounts, was
a very dull man. There was a bitter sarcasm upon him usually ascribed to
Swift, "That he was as hot and heavy as a tailor's goose." [S.]

In "The Intelligencer" the word "archbishop" is replaced by the letters
A.B.C.T. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: "Swobbers" were four privileged cards used, at one time,
for betting purposes, in the game of whist. [T.S.]]

Two clergymen, in my memory, stood candidates for a small free school in
Yorkshire, where a gentleman of quality and interest in the country, who
happened to have a better understanding than his neighbours, procured
the place for him who was the better scholar, and more gentlemanly
person, of the two, very much to the regret of all the parish: The
other, being disappointed, came up to London, where he became the
greatest pattern of this lower discretion that I have known, and
possessed it with as heavy intellectuals; which, together with the
coldness of his temper, and gravity of his deportment, carried him safe
through many difficulties, and he lived and died in a great station;
while his competitor is too obscure for fame to tell us what became of

This species of discretion, which I so much celebrate, and do most
heartily recommend, hath one advantage not yet mentioned, that it will
carry a man safe through all the malice and variety of parties, so far,
that whatever faction happens to be uppermost, his claim is usually
allowed for a share of what is going. And the thing seems to me highly
reasonable: For in all great changes, the prevailing side is usually so
tempestuous, that it wants the ballast of those whom the world calls
moderate men, and I call men of discretion; whom people in power may,
with little ceremony, load as heavy as they please, drive them through
the hardest and deepest roads without danger of foundering, or breaking
their backs, and will be sure to find them neither rusty nor vicious.

I[5] will here give the reader a short history of two clergymen in
England, the characters of each, and the progress of their fortunes in
the world; by which the force of worldly discretion, and the bad
consequences from the want of that virtue, will strongly appear.

[Footnote 5: In "The Intelligencer," No. v., this paragraph reads as
follows: "In some following Paper I will give the reader a short history
of two Clergymen in England, the characters of each, and the progress of
their fortunes in the world. By which the force of worldly discretion,
and the bad consequences from the want of that virtue, will strongly
appear." In No. vii. the subject is continued as in the next paragraph.

Corusodes, an Oxford student, and a farmer's son, was never absent from
prayers or lecture, nor once out of his college, after Tom had tolled.
He spent every day ten hours in his closet, in reading his courses,
dozing, clipping papers, or darning his stockings; which last he
performed to admiration. He could be soberly drunk at the expense of
others, with college ale, and at those seasons was always most devout.
He wore the same gown five years without draggling or tearing. He never
once looked into a playbook or a poem. He read Virgil and Ramus in the
same cadence, but with a very different taste. He never understood a
jest, or had the least conception of wit.

For one saying he stands in renown to this day. Being with some other
students over a pot of ale, one of the company said so many pleasant
things, that the rest were much diverted, only Corusodes was silent and
unmoved. When they parted, he called this merry companion aside, and
said, "Sir, I perceive by your often speaking, and your friends
laughing, that you spoke many jests; and you could not but observe my
silence: But sir, this is my humour, I never make a jest myself, nor
ever laugh at another man's."

Corusodes, thus endowed, got into holy orders; having, by the most
extreme parsimony, saved thirty-four pounds out of a very beggarly
fellowship, he went up to London, where his sister was waitingwoman to a
lady, and so good a solicitor, that by her means he was admitted to read
prayers in the family twice a-day, at fourteen[1] shillings a month. He
had now acquired a low, obsequious, awkward bow, and a talent of gross
flattery both in and out of season; he would shake the butler by the
hand; he taught the page his catechism, and was sometimes admitted to
dine at the steward's table. In short, he got the good word of the whole
family, and was recommended by my lady for chaplain to some other noble
houses, by which his revenue (besides vales) amounted to about thirty
pounds a-year: His sister procured him a scarf from my lord, who had a
small design of gallantry upon her; and by his lordship's solicitation
he got a lectureship in town of sixty pounds a-year; where he preached
constantly in person, in a grave manner, with an audible voice, a style
ecclesiastic, and the matter (such as it was) well suited to the
intellectuals of his hearers. Some time after, a country living fell in
my lord's disposal; and his lordship, who had now some encouragement
given him of success in his amour, bestowed the living on Corusodes, who
still kept his lectureship and residence in town; where he was a
constant attendant at all meetings relating to charity, without ever
contributing further than his frequent pious exhortations. If any woman
of better fashion in the parish happened to be absent from church, they
were sure of a visit from him in a day or two, to chide and to dine with

[Footnote 6: Scott has "ten shillings." [T.S.]]

He had a select number of poor constantly attending at the street door
of his lodgings, for whom he was a common solicitor to his former
patroness, dropping in his own halfcrown among the collection, and
taking it out when he disposed of the money. At a person of quality's
house, he would never sit down till he was thrice bid, and then upon the
corner of the most distant chair. His whole demeanour was formal and
starch, which adhered so close, that he could never shake it off in his
highest promotion.

His lord was now in high employment at court, and attended by him with
the most abject assiduity; and his sister being gone off with child to a
private lodging, my lord continued his graces to Corusodes, got him to
be a chaplain in ordinary, and in due time a parish in town, and a
dignity in the Church.

He paid his curates punctually, at the lowest salary, and partly out of
the communion money; but gave them good advice in abundance. He married
a citizen's widow, who taught him to put out small sums at ten per
cent., and brought him acquainted with jobbers in Change-alley. By her
dexterity he sold the clerkship of his parish, when it became vacant.

He kept a miserable house, but the blame was laid wholly upon madam; for
the good doctor was always at his books, or visiting the sick, or doing
other offices of charity and piety in his parish.

He treated all his inferiors of the clergy with a most sanctified pride;
was rigorously and universally censorious upon all his brethren of the
gown, on their first appearance in the world, or while they continued
meanly preferred; but gave large allowance to the laity of high rank, or
great riches, using neither eyes nor ears for their faults: He was never
sensible of the least corruption in courts, parliaments, or ministries,
but made the most favourable constructions of all public proceedings;
and power, in whatever hands, or whatever party, was always secure of
his most charitable opinion. He had many wholesome maxims ready to
excuse all miscarriages of state: Men are but men; _Erunt vitia donec
homines_; and, _Quod supra nos, nil ad nos_; with several others of
equal weight.

It would lengthen my paper beyond measure to trace out the whole system
of his conduct; his dreadful apprehensions of Popery; his great
moderation toward dissenters of all denominations; with hearty wishes,
that, by yielding somewhat on both sides, there might be a general union
among Protestants; his short, inoffensive sermons in his turns at court,
and the matter exactly suited to the present juncture of prevailing
opinions; the arts he used to obtain a mitre, by writing against
Episcopacy; and the proofs he gave of his loyalty, by palliating or
defending the murder of a martyred prince.

Endowed with all these accomplishments, we leave him in the full career
of success, mounting fast toward the top of the Ladder Ecclesiastical,
which he hath a fair probability to reach; without the merit of one
single virtue, moderately stocked with the least valuable parts of
erudition, utterly devoid of all taste, judgment, or genius; and, in his
grandeur, naturally choosing to haul up others after him, whose
accomplishments most resemble his own, except his beloved sons, nephews,
or other kindred, be in competition; or, lastly, except his inclinations
be diverted by those who have power to mortify, or further advance him.

Eugenio set out from the same university, and about the same time with
Corusodes; he had the reputation of an arch lad at school, and was
unfortunately possessed with a talent for poetry; on which account he
received many chiding letters from his father, and grave advice from his
tutor. He did not neglect his college learning, but his chief study was
the authors of antiquity, with a perfect knowledge in the Greek and
Roman tongues. He could never procure himself to be chosen fellow: For
it was objected against him, that he had written verses, and
particularly some wherein he glanced at a certain reverend doctor famous
for dulness: That he been seen bowing to ladies, as he met them in the
streets; and it was proved, that once he had been found dancing in a
private family, with half a dozen of both sexes.

He was the younger son to a gentleman of good birth, but small estate;
and his father dying, he was driven to London to seek his fortune: He
got into orders, and became reader in a parish church at twenty pounds
a-year; was carried by an Oxford friend to Will's coffee-house,
frequented in those days by men of wit, where in some time he had the
bad luck to be distinguished. His scanty salary compelled him to run
deep in debt for a new gown and cassock, and now and then forced him to
write some paper of wit or humour, or preach a sermon for ten shillings,
to supply his necessities. He was a thousand times recommended by his
poetical friends to great persons, as a young man of excellent parts who
deserved encouragement, and received a thousand promises; but his
modesty, and a generous spirit, which disdained the slavery of continual
application and attendance, always disappointed him, making room for
vigilant dunces, who were sure to be never out of sight.

He had an excellent faculty in preaching, if he were not sometimes a
little too refined, and apt to trust too much to his own way of thinking
and reasoning.

When, upon the vacancy of a preferment, he was hardly drawn to attend
upon some promising lord, he received the usual answer, "That he came
too late, for it had been given to another the very day before." And he
had only this comfort left, that everybody said, "It was a thousand
pities something could not be done for poor Mr. Eugenio."

The remainder of his story will be dispatched in a few words: Wearied
with weak hopes, and weaker pursuits, he accepted a curacy in
Derbyshire, of thirty pounds a-year, and when he was five-and-forty, had
the great felicity to be preferred by a friend of his father's to a
vicarage worth annually sixty pounds, in the most desert parts of
Lincolnshire; where, his spirit quite sunk with those reflections that
solitude and disappointments bring, he married a farmer's widow, and is
still alive, utterly undistinguished and forgotten; only some of the
neighbours have accidentally heard, that he had been a notable man in
his youth.

***** ***** ***** *****





May 24, 1736.

I have been long considering and conjecturing, what could be the causes
of that great disgust, of late, against the clergy of both kingdoms,
beyond what was ever known till that monster and tyrant, Henry VIII. who
took away from them, against law, reason, and justice, at least
two-thirds of their legal possessions; and whose successors (except
Queen Mary) went on with their rapine, till the accession of King James
I. That detestable tyrant Henry VIII. although he abolished the Pope's
power in England, as universal bishop, yet what he did in that article,
however just it were in itself, was the mere effect of his irregular
appetite, to divorce himself from a wife he was weary of, for a younger
and more beautiful woman, whom he afterwards beheaded. But, at the same
time, he was an entire defender of all the Popish doctrines, even those
which were the most absurd. And, while he put people to death for
denying him to be head of the Church, he burned every offender against
the doctrines of the Roman faith; and cut off the head of Sir Thomas
More, a person of the greatest virtue this kingdom ever produced, for
not directly owning him to be head of the Church. Among all the princes
who ever reigned in the world there was never so infernal a beast as
Henry VIII. in every vice of the most odious kind, without any one
appearance of virtue: But cruelty, lust, rapine, and atheism, were his
peculiar talents. He rejected the power of the Pope for no other reason,
than to give his full swing to commit sacrilege, in which no tyrant,
since Christianity became national, did ever equal him by many degrees.
The abbeys, endowed with lands by the mistaken notions of well-disposed
men, were indeed too numerous, and hurtful to the kingdom; and,
therefore, the legislature might, after the Reformation, have justly
applied them to some pious or public uses.

In a very few centuries after Christianity became national in most parts
of Europe, although the church of Rome had already introduced many
corruptions in religion; yet the piety of early Christians, as well as
new converts, was so great, and particularly of princes, as well as
noblemen and other wealthy persons, that they built many religious
houses, for those who were inclined to live in a recluse or solitary
manner, endowing those monasteries with land. It is true, we read of
monks some ages before, who dwelt in caves and cells, in desert places.
But, when public edifices were erected and endowed, they began gradually
to degenerate into idleness, ignorance, avarice, ambition, and luxury,
after the usual fate of all human institutions. The Popes, who had
already aggrandized themselves, laid hold of the opportunity to subject
all religious houses with their priors and abbots, to their peculiar
authority; whereby these religious orders became of an interest directly
different from the rest of mankind, and wholly at the Pope's devotion. I
need say no more on this article, so generally known and so frequently
treated, or of the frequent endeavours of some other princes, as well as
our own, to check the growth, and wealth, and power of the regulars.

In later times, this mistaken piety, of erecting and endowing abbeys,
began to decrease. And therefore, when some new-invented sect of monks
and friars began to start up, not being able to procure grants of land,
they got leave from the Pope to appropriate the tithes and glebes of
certain parishes, as contiguous or near as they could find, obliging
themselves to send out some of their body to take care of the people's
souls: And, if some of those parishes were at too great a distance from
the abbey, the monks appointed to attend them were paid, for the cure,
either a small stipend of a determined sum, or sometimes a third part,
or what are now called the vicarial tithes.

As to the church-lands, it hath been the opinion of many writers, that,
in England, they amounted to a third part of the whole kingdom. And
therefore, if that wicked prince above-mentioned, when he had cast off
the Pope's power, had introduced some reformation in religion, he could
not have been blamed for taking away the abbey-lands by authority of
parliament. But, when he continued the most cruel persecutor of all
those who differed in the least article of the Popish religion, which
was then the national and established faith, his seizing on those lands,
and applying them to profane uses, was absolute sacrilege, in the
strongest sense of the word; having been bequeathed by princes and pious
men to sacred uses.

In the reign of this prince, the church and court of Rome had arrived to
such a height of corruption, in doctrine and discipline, as gave great
offence to many wise, learned, and pious men, through most parts of
Europe; and several countries agreed to make some reformation in
religion. But, although a proper and just reformation were allowed to be
necessary, even to preserve Christianity itself, yet the passions and
vices of men had mingled themselves so far, as to pervert and confound
all the good endeavours of those who intended well: And thus the
reformation, in every country where it was attempted, was carried on in
the most impious and scandalous manner that can possibly be conceived.
To which unhappy proceedings we owe all the just reproachings that Roman
Catholics have cast upon us ever since. For, when the northern kingdoms
and states grew weary of the Pope's tyranny, and when their preachers,
beginning with the scandalous abuses of indulgencies, and proceeding
farther to examine several points of faith, had credit enough with their
princes, who were in some fear lest such a change might affect the peace
of their countries, because their bishops had great influence on the
people by their wealth and power; these politic teachers had a ready
answer to this purpose. "Sir, your Majesty need not be in any pain or
apprehension: Take away the lands, and sink the authority of the
bishops: Bestow those lands on your courtiers, on your nobles, and your
great officers in your army; and then you will be secure of the people."
This advice was exactly followed. And, in the Protestant monarchies
abroad, little more than the shadow of Episcopacy is left; but, in the
republics, is wholly extinct.

In England, the Reformation was brought in after a somewhat different
manner, but upon the same principle of robbing the Church. However,
Henry VIII. with great dexterity, discovered an invention to gratify his
insatiable thirst for blood, on both religions.

***** ***** ***** *****



In the "Gent. Mag.," vol. xxxv., p. 372 (August, 1765), is a reprint of
these "Thoughts," and "Further Thoughts" from Deane Swift's edition of
his relative's works, just then published. The note introducing the
reprint is signed "T.B."; but neither the note nor T.B.'s remarks are of
much importance. The present text is that of Scott, and collated with
the quarto edition of Swift's Works, vol. viii. 1765.



I am in all opinions to believe according to my own impartial reason;
which I am bound to inform and improve, as far as my capacity and
opportunities will permit.

It may be prudent in me to act sometimes by other men's reason, but I
can think only by my own.

If another man's reason fully convinceth me, it becomes my own reason.

To say a man is bound to believe, is neither truth nor sense.

You may force men, by interest or punishment, to say or swear they
believe, and to act as if they believed: You can go no further.

Every man, as a member of the commonwealth, ought to be content with the
possession of his own opinion in private, without perplexing his
neighbour or disturbing the public.

Violent zeal for truth hath an hundred to one odds to be either
petulancy, ambition, or pride.

There is a degree of corruption wherein some nations, as bad as the
world is, will proceed to an amendment; till which time particular men
should be quiet.

To remove opinions fundamental in religion is impossible, and the
attempt wicked, whether those opinions be true or false; unless your
avowed design be to abolish that religion altogether. So, for instance,
in the famous doctrine of Christ's divinity, which hath been universally
received by all bodies of Christians, since the condemnation of Arianism
under Constantine and his successors: Wherefore the proceedings of the
Socinians are both vain and unwarrantable; because they will be never
able to advance their own opinion, or meet any other success than
breeding doubts and disturbances in the world. _Qui ratione suae
disturbant moenia mundi._

The want of belief is a defect that ought to be concealed when it cannot
be overcome.

The Christian religion, in the most early times, was proposed to the
Jews and heathens without the article of Christ's divinity; which, I
remember, Erasmus accounts for, by its being too strong a meat for
babes. Perhaps, if it were now softened by the Chinese missionaries, the
conversion of those infidels would be less difficult: And we find by the
Alcoran, it is the great stumbling-block of the Mahometans. But, in a
country already Christian, to bring so fundamental a point of faith into
debate, can have no consequences that are not pernicious to morals and
public peace.

I have been often offended to find St. Paul's allegories, and other
figures of Grecian eloquence, converted by divines into articles of

God's mercy is over all His works, but divines of all sorts lessen that
mercy too much.

I look upon myself, in the capacity of a clergyman, to be one appointed
by Providence for defending a post assigned me, and for gaining over as
many enemies as I can. Although I think my cause is just, yet one great
motive is my submitting to the pleasure of Providence, and to the laws
of my country.

I am not answerable to God for the doubts that arise in my own breast,
since they are the consequence of that reason which He hath planted in
me; if I take care to conceal those doubts from others, if I use my best
endeavours to subdue them, and if they have no influence on the conduct
of my life.

I believe that thousands of men would be orthodox enough in certain
points, if divines had not been too curious, or too narrow, in reducing
orthodoxy within the compass of subtleties, niceties, and distinctions,
with little warrant from Scripture and less from reason or good policy.

I never saw, heard, nor read, that the clergy were beloved in any nation
where Christianity was the religion of the country. Nothing can render
them popular but some degree of persecution.

Those fine gentlemen who affect the humour of railing at the clergy,
are, I think, bound in honour to turn parsons themselves, and shew us
better examples.

Miserable mortals! Can we contribute to the honour and glory of God? I
wish that expression were struck out of our Prayer-books.

Liberty of conscience, properly speaking, is no more than the liberty of
possessing our own thoughts and opinions, which every man enjoys without
fear of the magistrate: But how far he shall publicly act in pursuance
of those opinions, is to be regulated by the laws of the country.
Perhaps, in my own thoughts, I prefer a well-instituted commonwealth
before a monarchy; and I know several others of the same opinion. Now,
if, upon this pretence, I should insist upon liberty of conscience, form
conventicles of republicans, and print books preferring that government
and condemning what is established, the magistrate would, with great
justice, hang me and my disciples. It is the same case in religion,
although not so avowed, where liberty of conscience, under the present
acceptation, equally produces revolutions, or at least convulsions and
disturbances in a state; which politicians would see well enough, if
their eyes were not blinded by faction, and of which these kingdoms, as
well as France, Sweden, and other countries, are flaming instances.
Cromwell's notion upon this article was natural and right; when, upon
the surrender of a town in Ireland, the Popish governor insisted upon an
article for liberty of conscience, Cromwell said, he meddled with no
man's conscience; but, if by liberty of conscience, the governor meant
the liberty of the mass, he had express orders from the Parliament of
England against admitting any such liberty at all.

It is impossible that anything so natural, so necessary, and so
universal as death, should ever have been designed by Providence as an
evil to mankind.

Although reason were intended by Providence to govern our passions, yet
it seems that, in two points of the greatest moment to the being and
continuance of the world, God hath intended our passions to prevail over
reason. The first is, the propagation of our species, since no wise man
ever married from the dictates of reason. The other is, the love of
life, which, from the dictates of reason, every man would despise, and
wish it at an end, or that it never had a beginning.

***** ***** ***** *****



The Scripture system of man's creation is what Christians are bound to
believe, and seems most agreeable of all others to probability and
reason. Adam was formed from a piece of clay, and Eve from one of his
ribs. The text mentioneth nothing of his Maker's intending him for,
except to rule over the beasts of the field and birds of the air. As to
Eve, it doth not appear that her husband was her monarch, only she was
to be his help meet, and placed in some degree of subjection. However,
before his fall, the beasts were his most obedient subjects, whom he
governed by absolute power. After his eating the forbidden fruit, the
course of nature was changed, the animals began to reject his
government; some were able to escape by flight, and others were too
fierce to be attacked. The Scripture mentioneth no particular acts of
royalty in Adam over his posterity, who were cotemporary with him, or of
any monarch until after the flood; whereof the first was Nimrod, the
mighty hunter, who, as Milton expresseth it, made men, and not beasts,
his prey. For men were easier caught by promises, and subdued by the
folly or treachery of their own species. Whereas the brutes prevailed
only by their courage or strength, which, among them, are peculiar to
certain kinds. Lions, bears, elephants, and some other animals are
strong or valiant, and their species never degenerates in their native
soil, except they happen to be enslaved or destroyed by human fraud: But
men degenerate every day, merely by the folly, the perverseness, the
avarice, the tyranny, the pride, the treachery, or inhumanity of their
own kind.




[Footnote 1: "Dr. Swift, after his return to Ireland in the beginning of
October [1727], having visited her [Stella] frequently during her
sickness, not only as a friend, but a clergyman; he used the following
prayers on that occasion; which are here printed from his own
handwriting." [Note in volume viii. of Swift's Works, Dublin, 1746.]]



Almighty and most gracious Lord God, extend, we beseech Thee, Thy pity
and compassion towards this Thy languishing servant: Teach her to place
her hope and confidence entirely in Thee; give her a true sense of the
emptiness and vanity of all earthly things; make her truly sensible of
all the infirmities of her life past, and grant to her such a true
sincere repentance as is not to be repented of. Preserve her, O Lord, in
a sound mind and understanding, during this Thy visitation: Keep her
from both the sad extremes of presumption and despair. If Thou shalt
please to restore her to her former health, give her grace to be ever
mindful of that mercy, and to keep those good resolutions she now makes
in her sickness, so that no length of time, nor prosperity, may entice
her to forget them. Let no thought of her misfortunes distract her mind,
and prevent the means towards her recovery, or disturb her in her
preparations for a better life. We beseech Thee also, O Lord, of Thy
infinite goodness to remember the good actions of this Thy servant; that
the naked she hath clothed, the hungry she hath fed, the sick and the
fatherless whom she hath relieved, may be reckoned according to Thy
gracious promise, as if they had been done unto Thee. Hearken, O Lord,
to the prayers offered up by the friends of this Thy servant in her
behalf, and especially those now made by us unto Thee. Give Thy blessing
to those endeavours used for her recovery; but take from her all violent
desire, either of life or death, further than with resignation to Thy
holy will. And now, O Lord, we implore Thy gracious favour towards us
here met together; grant that the sense of this Thy servant's weakness
may add strength to our faith, that we, considering the infirmities of
our nature, and the uncertainty of life, may, by this example, be drawn
to repentance before it shall please Thee to visit us in the like
manner. Accept these prayers, we beseech Thee, for the sake of Thy dear
Son Jesus Christ, our Lord; who, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth
and reigneth ever one God world without end. Amen.


WRITTEN OCT. 17, 1727.

Most merciful Father, accept our humblest prayers in behalf of this Thy
languishing servant: Forgive the sins, the frailties, and infirmities of
her life past. Accept the good deeds she hath done, in such a manner,
that at whatever time Thou shalt please to call her, she may be received
into everlasting habitations. Give her grace to continue sincerely
thankful to Thee for the many favours Thou hast bestowed upon her; The
ability and inclination and practice to do good, and those virtues,
which have procured the esteem and love of her friends, and a most
unspotted name in the world. O God, Thou dispensest Thy blessings and
Thy punishments, as it becometh infinite justice and mercy; and since it
was Thy pleasure to afflict her with a long, constant, weakly state of
health, make her truly sensible, that it was for very wise ends, and was
largely made up to her in other blessings, more valuable and less
common. Continue to her, O Lord, that firmness and constancy of mind,
where with Thou hast most graciously endowed her, together with that
contempt of worldly things and vanities, that she hath shewn in the
whole conduct of her life. O all-powerful Being, the least motion of
Whose will can create or destroy a world; pity us the mournful friends
of Thy distressed servant, who sink under the weight of her present
condition, and the fear of losing the most valuable of our friends:
Restore her to us, O Lord, if it be Thy gracious will, or inspire us
with constancy and resignation, to support ourselves under so heavy an
affliction. Restore her, O Lord, for the sake of those poor, who by
losing her will be desolate, and those sick, who will not only want her
bounty, but her care and tending: Or else, in Thy mercy, raise up some
other in her place with equal disposition and better abilities. Lessen,
O Lord, we beseech Thee, her bodily pains, or give her a double strength
of mind to support them. And if Thou wilt soon take her to Thyself, turn
our thoughts rather upon that felicity, which we hope she shall enjoy,
than upon that unspeakable loss we shall endure. Let her memory be ever
dear unto us; and the example of her many virtues, as far as human
infirmity will admit, our constant imitation. Accept, O Lord, these
prayers poured from the very bottom of our hearts, in Thy mercy, and for
the merits of our blessed Saviour. Amen.


WRITTEN Nov. 6, 1727.

O Merciful Father, Who never afflictest Thy children, but for their own
good, and with justice, over which Thy mercy always prevaileth, either
to turn them to repentance, or to punish them in the present life, in
order to reward them in a better; take pity, we beseech Thee, upon this
Thy poor afflicted servant, languishing so long and so grievously under
the weight of Thy hand. Give her strength, O Lord, to support her
weakness; and patience to endure her pains, without repining at Thy
correction. Forgive every rash and inconsiderate expression which her
anguish may at any time force from her tongue, while her heart
continueth in an entire submission to Thy will. Suppress in her, O Lord,
all eager desires of life, and lessen her fears of death, by inspiring
into her an humble, yet assured, hope of Thy mercy. Give her a sincere
repentance for all her transgressions and omissions, and a firm
resolution to pass the remainder of her life in endeavouring to her
utmost to observe all Thy precepts. We beseech Thee likewise to compose
her thoughts; and preserve to her the use of her memory and reason
during the course of her sickness. Give her a true conception of the
vanity, folly, and insignificancy of all human things; and strengthen
her so as to beget in her a sincere love of Thee in the midst of her
sufferings. Accept and impute all her good deeds, and forgive her all
those offences against Thee, which she hath sincerely repented of, or
through the frailty of memory hath forgot. And now, O Lord, we turn to
Thee in behalf of ourselves, and the rest of her sorrowful friends. Let
not our grief afflict her mind, and thereby have an ill effect on her
present distempers. Forgive the sorrow and weakness of those among us,
who sink under the grief and terror of losing so dear and useful a
friend. Accept and pardon our most earnest prayers and wishes for her
longer continuance in this evil world, to do what Thou art pleased to
call Thy service, and is only her bounden duty; that she may be still a
comfort to us, and to all others who will want the benefit of her
conversation, her advice, her good offices, or her charity. And since
Thou hast promised, that where two or three are gathered together in Thy
name, Thou wilt be in the midst of them, to grant their request; O
gracious Lord, grant to us who are here met in Thy name, that those
requests, which in the utmost sincerity and earnestness of our hearts we
have now made in behalf of this Thy distressed servant, and of
ourselves, may effectually be answered; through the merits of Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.



OH! Almighty God, the searcher of all hearts, and from whom no secrets
are hid, who hast declared that all such as shall draw nigh to thee with
their lips, when their hearts are far from thee, are an abomination unto
thee; cleanse, we beseech thee, the thoughts of our hearts, by the
inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that no wandering, vain, nor idle
thoughts may put out of our minds that reverence and godly fear, that
becomes all those who come in thy presence.

We know, O Lord, that while we are in these bodies, we are absent from
the Lord, for no man can see thy face and live. The only way that we can
draw near unto thee in this life, is by prayer; but, O Lord, we know not
how to pray, nor what to ask for as we ought. We cannot pretend by our
supplications or prayers to turn or change thee, for thou art the same
yesterday, to-day, and for ever; but the coming into thy presence, the
drawing near unto thee, is the only means to be changed ourselves, to
become like thee in holiness and purity, to be followers of thee as thy
dear children. O, therefore, turn not away thy face from us, but let us
see so much of the excellencies of thy divine nature, of thy goodness,
and justice, and mercy, and forbearance, and holiness, and purity, as
may make us hate everything in ourselves that is unlike to thee, that so
we may abhor and repent of and forsake those sins that we so often fall
into when we forget thee. Lord! We acknowledge and confess we have lived
in a course of sin, and folly, and vanity, from our youth up, forgetting
our latter end, and our great account that we must one day make, and
turning a deaf ear to thy many calls to us, either by thy holy word, by
our teachers, or by our own consciences; and even thy more severe
messages by afflictions, sicknesses, crosses, and disappointments, have
not been of force enough to turn us from the vanity and folly of our own
ways. What then can we expect in justice, when thou shalt enter into
judgment with us, but to have our portion with the hypocrites and
unbelievers? to depart for ever from the presence of the Lord; to be
turned into hell with those that forget God! But, O God, most holy! O
God, most mighty! O holy and most merciful Saviour, deliver us not into
the bitter pains of eternal death, but have mercy upon us, most merciful
Father, and forgive us our sins for thy name's sake; for thou hast
declared thyself to be a God slow to anger, full of goodness,
forbearance, and long-suffering, and forgiving iniquity, transgression,
and sin. O Lord, therefore, shew thy mercy upon us. O let it be in
pardoning our sins past, and in changing our natures, in giving us a new
heart, and a new spirit, that we may lead a new life, and walk before
thee in newness of life, that so sin may not have dominion over us for
the time to come. O let thy good Spirit, without which we can do
nothing, O let that work in us both to will and do such things as may be
well pleasing to thee. O let it change our thoughts and minds, and take
them off the vain pleasures of this world, and place them there where
only the true joys are to be found. O fill our minds every day more and
more with the happiness of that blessed state of living for ever with
thee, that we may make it our great work and business to work out our
salvation,--to improve in the knowledge of thee, whom to know is life
eternal. But, Lord, since we cannot know thee but by often drawing near
unto thee, and coming into thy presence, which in this life, we can do
only by prayer, O make us, therefore, ever sensible of these great
benefits of prayer, that we may rejoice at all opportunities of coming
into thy presence, and may ever find ourselves the better and more
heavenly minded by it, and may never wilfully neglect any opportunity of
thy worship and service. Awaken thoroughly in us a serious sense of
these things, that so to-day, while it is called to-day, we may see and
know the things that belong to our peace, before they be hid from our
eyes, before that long night cometh when no man can work. O that every
night may so effectually put us in mind of our last, that we may every
day take care so to live, as we shall then wish we had lived when we
come to die; that so when that night shall come, we may as willingly put
off these bodies, as we now put off our clothes, and may rejoice to rest
from our labours, and that our war with the world, the devil, and our
own corrupt nature, is at an end. In the meanwhile, we beseech thee to
take us, and ours, and all that belongs to us, into thy fatherly care
this night. Let thy holy angels be our guard, while we are not in a
condition to defend ourselves, that we may not be under the power of
devils or wicked men; and preserve us also, O Lord, from every evil
accident, that, after a comfortable and refreshing sleep, we may find
ourselves, and all that belongs to us, in peace and safety. And now, O
Lord, being ourselves still in the body, and compassed about with
infirmities, we can neither be ignorant nor unmindful of the sufferings
of our fellow-creatures. O Lord, we must acknowledge, that they are all
but the effects of sin; and, therefore, we beseech thee so to sanctify
their several chastisements to them, that at length they may bring forth
the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and then be thou graciously
pleased to remove thy heavy and afflicting hand from them. And O that
the rest of mankind, who are not under such trials, may, by thy
goodness, be led to repentance, that the consciences of hard-hearted
sinners may be awakened, and the understandings of poor ignorant
creatures enlightened, and that all that love and fear thee may ever
find the joy and comfort of a good conscience, beyond all the
satisfactions that this world can afford. And now, blessed Lord, from
whom every good gift comes, it is meet, right, and our bounden duty,
that we should offer up unto thee our thanks and praise for all thy
goodness towards us, for preserving peace in our land, the light of thy
Gospel, and the true religion in our churches; for giving us the fruits
of the earth in due season, and preserving us from the plague and
sickness that rages in other lands. We bless thee for that support and
maintenance, which thou art pleased to afford us, and that thou givest
us a heart to be sensible of this thy goodness, and to return our thanks
at this time for the same; and as to our persons, for that measure of
health that any of us do enjoy, which is more than any of us do deserve.
We bless thee, more particularly, for thy protection over us the day
past; that thy good spirit has kept us from falling into even the
greatest sins, which, by our wicked and corrupt nature, we should
greedily have been hurried into; and that, by the guard of thy holy
angels, we have been kept safe from any of those evils that might have
befallen us, and which many are now groaning under, who rose up in the
morning in safety and peace as well as we. But above all, for that great
mercy of contriving and effecting our redemption, by the death of our
Saviour Jesus Christ, whom, of thy great love to mankind, thou didst
send into this world, to take upon him our flesh, to teach us thy will,
and to bear the guilt of our transgressions, to die for our sins, and to
rise again for our justification; and for enabling us to lay hold of
that salvation, by the gracious assistances of thy Holy Spirit. Lord,
grant that the sense of this wonderful love of thine to us, may
effectually encourage us to walk in thy fear, and live to thy glory,
that so when we shall put off this mortal state, we may be made
partakers of that glory that shall then be revealed, which we beg of
thee, for the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ, who died to procure it for
us, and in whose name and words we do offer up the desires of our souls
unto thee, saying,

"Our Father," &c.




[Footnote 1: Written by the Dean in the beginning of the book, on one of
the blank leaves. [Note in vol. ix. 1775 edition of Swift's Works.]]

This book, by some errors and neglects in the style, seems not to have
received the author's[2] last correction. It is written with some
vehemence, very pardonable in one who had been an observer and a
sufferer, in England, under that diabolical fanatic sect which then
destroyed Church and State. But, by comparing in my memory what I have
read in other histories, he neither aggravates nor falsifies any facts.
His partiality appears chiefly in setting the actions of the Calvinists
in the strongest light, without equally dwelling on those of the other
side; which, however, to say the truth, was not his proper business. And
yet he might have spent some more words on the inhuman massacre of Paris
and other parts of France, which no provocation (and yet the King had
the greatest possible) could excuse, or much extenuate. The author,
according to the current opinion of the age he lived in, had too high
notions of regal power; led by the common mistake of the term Supreme
Magistrate, and not rightly distinguishing between the legislature and
administration: into which mistake the clergy fell, or continued, in the
reign of Charles II., as I have shewn and explained in a treatise, &c.
J. SWIFT. March 6, 1727-8.

[Footnote 2: Peter Heylin, D.D. (1600-1662) was born at Burford,
Oxfordshire. Educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, and became in
succession, chaplain to Charles I., rector of Hemmingford, rector of
Islip, and a prebendary of Westminster. He wrote the weekly paper,
"Mercurius Auhcus," and lost his estates during the Civil War. He was
reinstated at the Restoration into all his preferments. His works are
voluminous, consisting of a "Cosmography," "A Help to English History,"
a "Life of Charles I.," a "History of the Reformation," a "History of
Presbyterians," a "Life of Archbishop Laud," and a few theological
works. The work on the Presbyterians, here referred to by Swift, was
published in 1670. [T.S.]]

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