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The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, Vol. VI; The Drapier's Letters by Jonathan Swift

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Upon these considerations I was ever against all recourse to England for
a remedy against the present impending evil, especially when I observed
that the addresses of both Houses, after long expectance, produced
nothing but a REPORT altogether in favour of Wood, upon which I made
some observations in a former letter, and might at least have made as
many more. For it is a paper of as singular a nature as I ever beheld.

But I mistake; for before this Report was made, His Majesty's most
gracious answer to the House of Lords was sent over and printed, wherein
there are these words, "granting the patent for coining halfpence and
King Charles 2d. and King James 2d. (AND THEY ONLY) did grant patents
for this purpose is indisputable, and I have shewn it at large. Their
patents were passed under the great seal of Ireland by references to
Ireland, the copper to be coined in Ireland, the patentee was bound on
demand to receive his coin back in Ireland, and pay silver and gold in
return. Wood's patent was made under the great seal of England, the
brass coined in England, not the least reference made to Ireland, the
sum immense, and the patentee under no obligation to receive it again
and give good money for it: This I only mention, because in my private
thoughts I have sometimes made a query, whether the penner of those
words in His Majesty's most gracious answer, "agreeable to the practice
of his royal predecessors," had maturely considered the several
circumstances, which, in my poor opinion seem to make a difference.

Let me now say something concerning the other great cause of some
people's fear, as Wood has taught the London newswriter to express it.
That "his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant is coming over to settle Wood's

We know very well that the Lords Lieutenants for several years past have
not thought this kingdom worthy the honour of their residence, longer
than was absolutely necessary for the King's business, which
consequently wanted no speed in the dispatch; and therefore it naturally
fell into most men's thoughts, that a new governor coming at an unusual
time must portend some unusual business to be done, especially if the
common report be true, that the Parliament prorogued to I know not when,
is by a new summons (revoking that prorogation) to assemble soon after
his arrival: For which extraordinary proceeding the lawyers on t'other
side the water have by great good fortune found two precedents.

All this being granted, it can never enter into my head that so little a
creature as Wood could find credit enough with the King and his
ministers to have the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland sent hither in a hurry
upon his errand.

For let us take the whole matter nakedly as it lies before us, without
the refinements of some people, with which we have nothing to do. Here
is a patent granted under the great seal of England, upon false
suggestions, to one William Wood for coining copper halfpence for
Ireland: The Parliament here, upon apprehensions of the worst
consequences from the said patent, address the King to have it recalled;
this is refused, and a committee of the Privy-council report to His
Majesty, that Wood has performed the conditions of his patent. He then
is left to do the best he can with his halfpence; no man being obliged
to receive them; the people here, being likewise left to themselves,
unite as one man, resolving they will have nothing to do with his ware.
By this plain account of the fact it is manifest, that the King and his
ministry are wholly out of the case, and the matter is left to be
disputed between him and us. Will any man therefore attempt to persuade
me, that a Lord Lieutenant is to be dispatched over in great haste
before the ordinary time, and a Parliament summoned by anticipating a
prorogation, merely to put an hundred thousand pounds into the pocket of
a sharper, by the ruin of a most loyal kingdom.

But supposing all this to be true. By what arguments could a Lord
Lieutenant prevail on the same Parliament which addressed with so much
zeal and earnestness against this evil, to pass it into a law? I am sure
their opinion of Wood and his project is not mended since the last
prorogation; and supposing those methods should be used which detractors
tell us have been sometimes put in practice for gaining votes. It is
well known that in this kingdom there are few employments to be given,
and if there were more, it is as well known to whose share they must

But because great numbers of you are altogether ignorant in the affairs
of your country, I will tell you some reasons why there are so few
employments to be disposed of in this kingdom. All considerable offices
for life here are possessed by those to whom the reversions were
granted, and these have been generally followers of the chief governors,
or persons who had interest in the Court of England. So the Lord
Berkeley of Stratton[7] holds that great office of master of the rolls,
the Lord Palmerstown[8] is first remembrancer worth near 2000_l. per
ann._ One Dodington[9] secretary to the Earl of Pembroke,[10] begged the
reversion of clerk of the pells worth 2500_l._ a year, which he now
enjoys by the death of the Lord Newtown. Mr. Southwell is secretary of
state,[11] and the Earl of Burlington[12] lord high treasurer of Ireland
by inheritance. These are only a few among many others which I have been
told of, but cannot remember. Nay the reversion of several employments
during pleasure are granted the same way. This among many others is a
circumstance whereby the kingdom of Ireland is distinguished from all
other nations upon earth, and makes it so difficult an affair to get
into a civil employ, that Mr. Addison was forced to purchase an old
obscure place, called keeper of the records of Bermingham's Tower of ten
pounds a year, and to get a salary of 400_l._ annexed to it,[13] though
all the records there are not worth half-a-crown, either for curiosity
or use. And we lately saw a favourite secretary descend to be master of
the revels, which by his credit and extortion he hath made pretty
considerable.[14] I say nothing of the under-treasurership worth about
8000_l_. a year, nor the commissioners of the revenue, four of whom
generally live in England; For I think none of these are granted in
reversion. But the test is, that I have known upon occasion some of
these absent officers as keen against the interest of Ireland as if they
had never been indebted to her for a single groat.

[Footnote 7: Berkeley was one of the Junta in Harley's administration of
1710-1714. He had married Sir John Temple's daughter. His connection
with a person so disliked by Swift may account for his inclusion here.

[Footnote 8: This was Henry Temple, first Viscount Palmerston, with whom
Swift later had an unpleasant correspondence. Palmerston could not have
been more than seven years old when he was appointed (September 21st,
1680), with Luke King, chief remembrancer of the Court of Exchequer in
Ireland, for their joint lives. King died in 1716, but the grant was
renewed to Palmerston and his son Henry for life. He was raised to the
peerage as Baron Temple of Mount Temple, and Viscount Palmerston of
Palmerston, in March, 1722-1723. Sir Charles Hanbury Williams called him
"Little Broadbottom Palmerston." He died in 1757. [T.S.] ]

[Footnote 9: George Bubb (1691-1762) was Chief Secretary during
Wharton's Lord lieutenancy in 1709. He took the name of Doddington on
the death of his uncle in 1720. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 10: Thomas Herbert, eighth Earl of Pembroke (1656-1733), had
preceded the Earl of Wharton as Lord lieutenant of Ireland. He bears a
high character in history and on four successive coronations, namely,
those of William and Mary, Anne, George I. and George II., he acted as
sword carrier. Although a Tory, even Macaulay acknowledges Pembroke's
high breeding and liberality. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 11: This is the Edward Southwell to whom Archbishop King wrote
the letters quoted from Monck Mason in previous notes. He was the son of
Sir Robert Southwell, the diplomatist and friend of Sir William Temple,
to whom Swift bore a letter of introduction from the latter, soliciting
the office of amanuensis. In June, 1720, Edward Southwell had his salary
as secretary increased by L300; and in July of the same year the office
was granted to him and his son for life. The Southwell family first came
to Ireland in the reign of James I., at the time of the plantation of
Munster. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 12: Richard Boyle, third Earl of Burlington (or Bridlington of
Yorks), and fourth Earl of Cork (1695-1753), was appointed Lord
High-Treasurer of Ireland in August, 1715. His great-grandfather, the
first Earl of Cork, had held the same office in 1631. The
Lord-lieutenancy of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and the office of
Custos Rotulorum of the North and West Ridings, seem also to have been
inheritances of this family. The third Earl had a taste for
architecture, and spent enormous sums of money in the reconstruction of
Burlington House, a building that was freely satirized by Hogarth and
Lord Hervey. His taste, however, seems to have run to the ornamental
rather than the useful, and its gratification involved him in such
serious financial difficulties, that he was compelled to sell some of
his Irish estates. Swift notes that "My Lord Burlington is now selling
in one article L9,000 a year in Ireland for L200,000 which must pay his
debts" (Scott's edit. 1814, vol. xix., p. 129). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 13: This post was found for Addison on his appointment in 1709
as secretary to the Earl of Wharton, Lord-lieutenant of Ireland.
Tickell, in his preface to his edition of Addison's works, says the post
was granted to Addison as a mark of Queen Anne's special favour.
Bermingham's Tower was that part of Dublin Castle in which the records
were kept. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 14: Mr. Hopkins, secretary to the Duke of Grafton. The
exactions made by this gentleman upon the players, in his capacity of
Master of the Revels, are the subject of two satirical poems. [S.]

This may have been John Hopkins, the second son of the Bishop of
Londonderry, who was the author of "Amasia," dedicated to the Duchess of
Grafton. [T.S.]]

I confess, I have been sometimes tempted to wish that this project of
Wood might succeed, because I reflected with some pleasure what a jolly
crew it would bring over among us of lords and squires, and pensioners
of both sexes, and officers civil and military, where we should live
together as merry and sociable as beggars, only with this one abatement,
that we should neither have meat to feed, nor manufactures to clothe us,
unless we could be content to prance about in coats of mail, or eat
brass as ostriches do iron.

I return from this digression to that which gave me the occasion of
making it: And I believe you are now convinced, that if the Parliament
of Ireland were as temptable as any other assembly within a mile of
Christendom (which God forbid) yet the managers must of necessity fail
for want of tools to work with. But I will yet go one step further, by
supposing that a hundred new employments were erected on purpose to
gratify compilers; yet still an insuperable difficulty would remain; for
it happens, I know not how, that money is neither Whig nor Tory, neither
of town nor country party, and it is not improbable, that a gentleman
would rather choose to live upon his own estate which brings him gold
and silver, than with the addition of an employment, when his rents and
salary must both be paid in Wood's brass, at above eighty _per cent._

For these and many other reasons, I am confident you need not be under
the least apprehensions from the sudden expectation of the Lord
Lieutenant,[15] while we continue in our present hearty disposition; to
alter which there is no suitable temptation can possibly be offered:
And if, as I have often asserted from the best authority, the law hath
not left a power in the crown to force any money except sterling upon
the subject, much less can the crown devolve such a power upon another.

[Footnote 15: Lord Carteret, afterwards Earl Granville. See note to "A
Vindication of Lord Carteret," in vol. vii. of present edition of
Swift's works. [T.S.]]

This I speak with the utmost respect to the person and dignity of his
Excellency the Lord Carteret, whose character hath been given me by a
gentleman that hath known him from his first appearance in the world:
That gentleman describes him as a young nobleman of great
accomplishments, excellent learning, regular in his life, and of much
spirit and vivacity. He hath since, as I have heard, been employed
abroad, was principal secretary of state, and is now about the 37th year
of his age appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. From such a governor
this kingdom may reasonably hope for as much prosperity as, under so
many discouragements, it can be capable of receiving.[16]

[Footnote 16: Carteret was an old friend of Swift. On the Earl's
appointment to the Lord-lieutenancy, in April, 1724, Swift wrote him a
letter on the matter of Wood's halfpence, in which he took the liberty
of "an old humble servant, and one who always loved and esteemed" him,
to make known to him the apprehensions the people were under concerning
Mr. Wood's patent. "Neither is it doubted," he wrote, "that when your
excellency shall be thoroughly informed, your justice and compassion for
an injured people, will force you to employ your credit for their
relief." Swift waited for more than a month, and on receiving no reply,
sent a second letter, which Sir Henry Craik justly calls, "a masterpiece
of its kind." It was as follows:

"June 9, 1724.


"It is above a month since I took the boldness of writing to your
excellency, upon a subject wherein the welfare of this kingdom is highly

"I writ at the desire of several considerable persons here, who could
not be ignorant that I had the honour of being well known to you.

"I could have wished your excellency had condescended so far, as to let
one of your under clerks have signified to me that a letter was

"I have been long out of the world; but have not forgotten what used to
pass among those I lived with while I was in it: and I can say, that
during the experience of many years, and many changes in affairs, your
excellency, and one more, who is not worthy to be compared to you, are
the only great persons that ever refused to answer a letter from me,
without regard to business, party, or greatness; and if I had not a
peculiar esteem for your personal qualities, I should think myself to be
acting a very inferior part in making this complaint.

"I never was so humble, as to be vain upon my acquaintance with men in
power, and always rather chose to avoid it when I was not called.
Neither were their power or titles sufficient, without merit, to make me
cultivate them; of which I have witnesses enough left, after all the
havoc made among them, by accidents of time, or by changes of persons,
measures, and opinions.

"I know not how your conception of yourself may alter, by every new high
station; but mine must continue the same, or alter for the worse.

"I often told a great minister, whom you well know, that I valued him
for being the same man through all the progress of power and place. I
expected the like in your lordship; and still hope that I shall be the
only person who will ever find it otherwise.

"I pray God to direct your excellency in all your good undertakings, and
especially in your government of this kingdom.

"I shall trouble you no more; but remain, with great respect, my Lord,

"Your excellency's most obedient,

"and most humble servant,


This letter brought an immediate reply from Carteret, who confessed
himself in the wrong for his silence, and trusted he had not forfeited
Swift's friendship by it. With regard to Mr. Wood's patent, he said that
the matter was under examination, "and till that is over I am not
informed sufficiently to make any other judgment of the matter, than
that which I am naturally led to make, by the general aversion which
appears to it in the whole nation." Swift replied in a charming vein,
and elegantly put his scolding down to the testiness of old age. His
excellency had humbled him. "Therefore, I fortel that you, who could so
easily conquer so captious a person, and of so little consequence, will
quickly subdue this whole kingdom to love and reverence you" (Scott's
ed. 1824, vol. xvi., pp. 430-435). [T.S.]]

It is true indeed, that within the memory of man, there have been
governors of so much dexterity, as to carry points of terrible
consequence to this kingdom, by their power with _those who were in
office_, and by their arts in managing or deluding others with oaths,
affability, and even with dinners. If Wood's brass had in those times
been upon the anvil, it is obvious enough to conceive what methods would
have been taken. Depending persons would have been told in plain terms,
that it was a "service expected from them, under pain of the public
business being put into more complying hands." Others would be allured
by promises. To the country gentleman, besides good words, burgundy and
closeting. It would perhaps have been hinted how "kindly it would be
taken to comply with a royal patent, though it were not compulsory,"
that if any inconveniences ensued, it might be made up with other
"graces or favours hereafter." That "gentlemen ought to consider whether
it were prudent or safe to disgust England:" They would be desired to
"think of some good bills for encouraging of trade, and setting the poor
to work, some further acts against Popery and for uniting Protestants."
There would be solemn engagements that we should "never be troubled with
above forty thousand pounds in his coin, and all of the best and
weightiest sort, for which we should only give our manufactures in
exchange, and keep our gold and silver at home." Perhaps a "seasonable
report of some invasion would have been spread in the most proper
juncture," which is a great smoother of rubs in public proceedings; and
we should have been told that "this was no time to create differences
when the kingdom was in danger."

These, I say, and the like methods would in corrupt times have been
taken to let in this deluge of brass among us; and I am confident would
even then have not succeeded, much less under the administration of so
excellent a person as the Lord Carteret, and in a country where the
people of all ranks, parties and denominations are convinced to a man,
that the utter undoing of themselves and their posterity for ever will
be dated from the admission of that execrable coin; that if it once
enters, it can be no more confined to a small or moderate quantity, than
the plague can be confined to a few families, and that no equivalent can
be given by any earthly power, any more than a dead carcass can be
recovered to life by a cordial.

There is one comfortable circumstance in this universal opposition to
Mr. Wood, that the people sent over hither from England to fill up our
vacancies ecclesiastical, civil and military, are all on our side:
Money, the great divider of the world, hath by a strange revolution,
been the great uniter of a most divided people. Who would leave a
hundred pounds a year in England (a country of freedom) to be paid a
thousand in Ireland out of Wood's exchequer. The gentleman they have
lately made primate[17] would never quit his seat in an English House of
Lords, and his preferments at Oxford and Bristol, worth twelve hundred
pounds a year, for four times the denomination here, but not half the
value; therefore I expect to hear he will be as good an Irishman, upon
this article, as any of his brethren, or even of us who have had the
misfortune to be born in this island. For those, who, in the common
phrase, do not "come hither to learn the language," would never change a
better country for a worse, to receive brass instead of gold.

[Footnote 17: Hugh Boulter (1672-1742) was appointed Archbishop of
Armagh, August 31st, 1724. He had been a fellow of Magdalen College,
Oxford, and had served the King as chaplain in Hanover, in 1719. In this
latter year he was promoted to the Bishopric of Bristol, and the Deanery
of Christ Church, Oxford. His appointment as Primate of Ireland, was in
accordance with Walpole's plan for governing Ireland from England.
Walpole had no love for Carteret, and no faith in his power or
willingness to aid him in his policy. Indeed, Carteret was sent to
Ireland to be got out of the way. He was governor nominally; the real
governor being Walpole in the person of the new Primate. What were
Boulter's instructions may be gathered from the manner in which he
carried out his purpose. Of a strong character and of untiring energy,
Boulter set about his work in a fashion which showed that Walpole had
chosen well. Nothing of any importance that transpired in Ireland, no
fact of any interest about the individuals in office, no movement of any
suspected or suspicious person escaped his vigilance. His letters
testify to an unabating zeal for the English government of Irish affairs
by Englishmen in the English interest. His perseverance knew no
obstacles; he continued against all difficulties in his dogged and yet
able manner to establish some order out of the chaos of Ireland's
condition. But his government was the outcome of a profound conviction
that only in the interest of England should Ireland be governed. If
Ireland could be made prosperous and contented, so much more good would
accrue to England. But that prosperity and that contentment had nothing
whatever to do with safeguarding Irish institutions, or recognizing the
rights of the Irish people. If he gave way to popular opinion at all, it
was because it was either expedient or beneficial to the English
interest. If he urged, as he did, the founding of Protestant Charter
schools, it was because this would strengthen the English power. To
preserve that he obtained the enactment of a statute which excluded
Roman Catholics from the legal profession and the offices of legal
administration; and another act of his making actually disfranchised
them altogether. Boulter was also a member of the Irish Privy Council,
and Lord Justice of Ireland. The latter office he held under the
vice-regencies of Carteret, Dorset and Devonshire. His secretary,
Ambrose Philips, had been connected with him, in earlier years, in
contributing to a periodical entitled, "The Free Thinker," which
appeared in 1718. Philips, in 1769, supervised the publication of
Boulter's "Letters," which were published at Oxford. [T.S.]]

Another slander spread by Wood and his emissaries is, that by opposing
him we discover an inclination to "shake off our dependence upon the
crown of England." Pray observe how important a person is this same
William Wood, and how the public weal of two kingdoms is involved in
his private interest. First, all those who refuse to take his coin are
Papists; for he tells us that "none but Papists are associated against
him;" Secondly, they "dispute the King's prerogative;" Thirdly, "they
are ripe for rebellion," and Fourthly, they are going to "shake off
their dependence upon the crown of England;" That is to say, "they are
going to choose another king;" For there can be no other meaning in this
expression, however some may pretend to strain it.

And this gives me an opportunity of explaining, to those who are
ignorant, another point, which hath often swelled in my breast. Those
who come over hither to us from England, and some weak people among
ourselves, whenever in discourse we make mention of liberty and
property, shake their heads, and tell us, that Ireland is a "depending
kingdom," as if they would seem, by this phrase, to intend that the
people of Ireland is in some state of slavery or dependence different
from those of England; Whereas a "depending kingdom" is a modern term of
art, unknown, as I have heard, to all ancient civilians, and writers
upon government; and Ireland is on the contrary called in some statutes
an "imperial crown," as held only from God; which is as high a style as
any kingdom is capable of receiving. Therefore by this expression, a
"depending kingdom," there is no more understood than that by a statute
made here in the 33d year of Henry 8th. "The King and his successors are
to be kings imperial of this realm as united and knit to the imperial
crown of England." I have looked over all the English and Irish statutes
without finding any law that makes Ireland depend upon England, any more
than England does upon Ireland. We have indeed obliged ourselves to have
the same king with them, and consequently they are obliged to have the
same king with us. For the law was made by our own Parliament, and our
ancestors then were not such fools (whatever they were in the preceding
reign) to bring themselves under I know not what dependence, which is
now talked of without any ground of law, reason or common sense.[18]

[Footnote 18: This was the passage selected by the government upon which
to found its prosecution. As Sir Walter Scott points out, it "contains
the pith and essence of the whole controversy." [T.S.]]

Let whoever think otherwise, I M.B. Drapier, desire to be excepted,[19]
for I declare, next under God, I _depend_ only on the King my sovereign,
and on the laws of my own country; and I am so far from _depending_ upon
the people of England, that if they should ever rebel against my
sovereign (which God forbid) I would be ready at the first command from
His Majesty to take arms against them, as some of _my_ countrymen did
against _theirs_ at Preston. And if such a rebellion should prove so
successful as to fix the Pretender on the throne of England, I would
venture to transgress that statute so far as to lose every drop of my
blood to hinder him from being King of Ireland.[20]

[Footnote 19: For a humorous story which accounts for Swift's use of the
words "desire to be excepted," see the Drapier's sixth letter. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 20: Great offence was taken at this paragraph. Swift refers to
it again in his sixth letter. Sir Henry Craik, in his "Life of Jonathan
Swift" (vol. ii., p. 74), has an acute note on this paragraph, and the
one already alluded to in the sixth letter. I take the liberty of
transcribing it: "The manoeuvre by which Swift managed to associate a
suspicion of Jacobitism with his opponents, is one peculiarly
characteristic; and so is the skill with which, in the next letter, he
meets the objections to this paragraph, by half offering an extent of
submission that might equally be embarrassing--a submission even to
Jacobitism, if Jacobitism were to become strong enough. He does not
commit himself, however: he fears a 'spiteful interpretation.' In short,
he places the English Cabinet on the horns of a dilemma. 'Am I to resist
Jacobitism? Then what becomes of your doctrine of Ireland's dependency?'
or, 'Am I to become a Jacobite, if England bids me? Then what becomes of
your Protestant succession? Must even that give way to your desire to
tyrannize?'" [T.S.]]

'Tis true indeed, that within the memory of man, the Parliaments of
England have sometimes assumed the power of binding this kingdom by laws
enacted there,[21] wherein they were at first openly opposed (as far as
truth, reason and justice are capable of opposing) by the famous Mr.
Molineux,[22] an English gentleman born here, as well as by several of
the greatest patriots, and best Whigs in England; but the love and
torrent of power prevailed. Indeed the arguments on both sides were
invincible. For in reason, all government without the consent of the
governed is the very definition of slavery: But in fact, eleven men well
armed will certainly subdue one single man in his shirt. But I have
done. For those who have used power to cramp liberty have gone so far as
to resent even the liberty of complaining, although a man upon the rack
was never known to be refused the liberty of roaring as loud as he
thought fit.

[Footnote 21: Particularly in the reign of William III., when this
doctrine of English supremacy was assumed, in order to discredit the
authority of the Irish Parliament summoned by James II. [S.]

See note on Poyning's Law, p. 77. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 22: See note on p. 167. [T.S.]]

And as we are apt to sink too much under unreasonable fears, so we are
too soon inclined to be raised by groundless hopes (according to the
nature of all consumptive bodies like ours) thus, it hath been given
about for several days past, that somebody in England empowered a second
somebody to write to a third somebody here to assure us, that we "should
no more be troubled with those halfpence." And this is reported to have
been done by the same person, who was said to have sworn some months
ago, that he would "ram them down our throats" (though I doubt they
would stick in our stomachs) but whichever of these reports is true or
false, it is no concern of ours. For in this point we have nothing to do
with English ministers, and I should be sorry it lay in their power to
redress this grievance or to enforce it: For the "Report of the
Committee" hath given me a surfeit. The remedy is wholly in your own
hands, and therefore I have digressed a little in order to refresh and
continue that spirit so seasonably raised amongst you, and to let you
see that by the laws of GOD, of NATURE, of NATIONS, and of your own
COUNTRY, you ARE and OUGHT to be as FREE a people as your brethren in

If the pamphlets published at London by Wood and his journeymen in
defence of his cause, were reprinted here, and that our countrymen could
be persuaded to read them, they would convince you of his wicked design
more than all I shall ever be able to say. In short I make him a perfect
saint in comparison of what he appears to be from the writings of those
whom he hires to justify his project. But he is so far master of the
field (let others guess the reason) that no London printer dare publish
any paper written in favour of Ireland, and here nobody hath yet been so
bold as to publish anything in favour of him.

There was a few days ago a pamphlet sent me of near 50 pages written in
favour of Mr. Wood and his coinage, printed in London; it is not worth
answering, because probably it will never be published here: But it gave
me an occasion to reflect upon an unhappiness we lie under, that the
people of England are utterly ignorant of our case, which however is no
wonder, since it is a point they do not in the least concern themselves
about, farther than perhaps as a subject of discourse in a coffee-house
when they have nothing else to talk of. For I have reason to believe
that no minister ever gave himself the trouble of reading any papers
written in our defence, because I suppose their opinions are already
determined, and are formed wholly upon the reports of Wood and his
accomplices; else it would be impossible that any man could have the
impudence to write such a pamphlet as I have mentioned.

Our neighbours whose understandings are just upon a level with ours
(which perhaps are none of the brightest) have a strong contempt for
most nations, but especially for Ireland: They look upon us as a sort of
savage Irish, whom our ancestors conquered several hundred years ago,
and if I should describe the Britons to you as they were in Caesar's
time, when they painted their bodies, or clothed themselves with the
skins of beasts, I would act full as reasonably as they do: However they
are so far to be excused in relation to the present subject, that,
hearing only one side of the cause, and having neither opportunity nor
curiosity to examine the other, they believe a lie merely for their
ease, and conclude, because Mr. Wood pretends to have power, he hath
also reason on his side.

Therefore to let you see how this case is represented in England by Wood
and his adherents, I have thought it proper to extract out of that
pamphlet a few of those notorious falsehoods in point of fact and
reasoning contained therein; the knowledge whereof will confirm my
countrymen in their own right sentiments, when they will see by
comparing both, how much their enemies are in the wrong.

First, The writer, positively asserts, "That Wood's halfpence were
current among us for several months with the universal approbation of
all people, without one single gainsayer, and we all to a man thought
ourselves happy in having them."

Secondly, He affirms, "That we were drawn into a dislike of them only by
some cunning evil-designing men among us, who opposed this patent of
Wood to get another for themselves."

Thirdly, That "those who most declared at first against Wood's patent
were the very men who intended to get another for their own advantage."

Fourthly, That "our Parliament and Privy-council, the Lord Mayor and
aldermen of Dublin, the grand juries and merchants, and in short the
whole kingdom, nay the very dogs" (as he expresseth it) "were fond of
those halfpence, till they were inflamed by those few designing persons

Fifthly, He says directly, That "all those who opposed the halfpence
were Papists and enemies to King George."

Thus far I am confident the most ignorant among you can safely swear
from your own knowledge that the author is a most notorious liar in
every article; the direct contrary being so manifest to the whole
kingdom, that if occasion required, we might get it confirmed under five
hundred thousand hands.

Sixthly, He would persuade us, that "if we sell five shillings worth of
our goods or manufactures for two shillings and fourpence worth of
copper, although the copper were melted down, and that we could get five
shillings in gold or silver for the said goods, yet to take the said two
shillings and fourpence in copper would be greatly for our advantage."

And Lastly, He makes us a very fair offer, as empowered by Wood, that
"if we will take off two hundred thousand pounds in his halfpence for
our goods, and likewise pay him three _per cent_. interest for thirty
years, for an hundred and twenty thousand pounds (at which he computes
the coinage above the intrinsic value of the copper) for the loan of his
coin, he, will after that time give us good money for what halfpence
will be then left."

Let me place this offer in as clear a light as I can to shew the
unsupportable villainy and impudence of that incorrigible wretch. First
(says he) "I will send two hundred thousand pounds of my coin into your
country, the copper I compute to be in real value eighty thousand
pounds, and I charge you with an hundred and twenty thousand pounds for
the coinage; so that you see I lend you an hundred and twenty thousand
pounds for thirty years, for which you shall pay me three _per cent_.
That is to say three thousand six hundred pounds _per ann_. which in
thirty years will amount to an hundred and eight thousand pounds. And
when these thirty years are expired, return me my copper and I will give
you good money for it."

This is the proposal made to us by Wood in that pamphlet written by one
of his commissioners; and the author is supposed to be the same infamous
Coleby one of his under-swearers at the committee of council, who was
tried for robbing the treasury here, where he was an under-clerk.[23]

[Footnote 23: See note on p. 61. [T.S.]]

By this proposal he will first receive two hundred thousand pounds, in
goods or sterling for as much copper as he values at eighty thousand
pounds, but in reality not worth thirty thousand pounds. Secondly, He
will receive for interest an hundred and eight thousand pounds. And when
our children came thirty years hence to return his halfpence upon his
executors (for before that time he will be probably gone to his own
place) those executors will very reasonably reject them as raps and
counterfeits, which probably they will be, and millions of them of his
own coinage.

Methinks I am fond of such a dealer as this who mends every day upon our
hands, like a Dutch reckoning, where if you dispute the unreasonableness
and exorbitance of the bill, the landlord shall bring it up every time
with new additions.

Although these and the like pamphlets published by Wood in London be
altogether unknown here, where nobody could read them without as much
indignation as contempt would allow, yet I thought it proper to give you
a specimen how the man employs his time, where he rides alone without
one creature to contradict him, while our FEW FRIENDS there wonder at
our silence, and the English in general, if they think of this matter at
all, impute our refusal to wilfulness or disaffection, just as Wood and
his hirelings are pleased to represent.

But although our arguments are not suffered to be printed in England,
yet the consequence will be of little moment. Let Wood endeavour to
persuade the people there that we ought to receive his coin, and let me
convince our people here that they ought to reject it under pain of our
utter undoing. And then let him do his best and his worst.

Before I conclude, I must beg leave in all humility to tell Mr. Wood,
that he is guilty of great indiscretion, by causing so honourable a name
as that of Mr. Walpole to be mentioned so often, and in such a manner,
upon his occasion: A short paper printed at Bristol and reprinted here
reports Mr. Wood to say, that he "wonders at the impudence and insolence
of the Irish in refusing his coin, and what he will do when Mr. Walpole
comes to town." Where, by the way, he is mistaken, for it is the true
English people of Ireland who refuse it, although we take it for granted
that the Irish will do so too whenever they are asked. He orders it to
be printed in another paper, that "Mr. Walpole will cram this brass down
our throats:" Sometimes it is given out that we must "either take these
halfpence or eat our brogues," And, in another newsletter but of
yesterday, we read that the same great man "hath sworn to make us
swallow his coin in fire-balls."

This brings to my mind the known story of a Scotchman, who receiving
sentence of death, with all the circumstances of hanging, beheading,
quartering, embowelling and the like, cried out, "What need all this
COOKERY?" And I think we have reason to ask the same question; for if we
believe Wood, here is a dinner getting ready for us, and you see the
bill of fare, and I am sorry the drink was forgot, which might easily be
supplied with melted lead and flaming pitch.

What vile words are these to put into the mouth of a great councillor,
in high trust with His Majesty, and looked upon as a prime-minister. If
Mr. Wood hath no better a manner of representing his patrons, when I
come to be a great man, he shall never be suffered to attend at my
levee. This is not the style of a great minister, it savours too much of
the kettle and the furnace, and came entirely out of Mr. Wood's forge.

As for the threat of making us eat our brogues, we need not be in pain;
for if his coin should pass, that unpolite covering for the feet, would
no longer be a national reproach; because then we should have neither
shoe nor brogue left in the kingdom. But here the falsehood of Mr. Wood
is fairly detected; for I am confident Mr. Walpole never heard of a
brogue in his whole life.[24]

[Footnote 24: A biting sneer at Walpole's ignorance of Irish affairs.

As to "swallowing these halfpence in fire-balls," it is a story equally
improbable. For to execute this operation the whole stock of Mr. Wood's
coin and metal must be melted down and moulded into hollow balls with
wild-fire, no bigger than a reasonable throat can be able to swallow.
Now the metal he hath prepared, and already coined will amount at least
fifty millions of halfpence to be swallowed by a million and a half of
people; so that allowing two halfpence to each ball, there will be about
seventeen balls of wild-fire a-piece to be swallowed by every person in
this kingdom, and to administer this dose, there cannot be conveniently
fewer than fifty thousand operators, allowing one operator to every
thirty, which, considering the squeamishness of some stomachs and the
peevishness of young children, is but reasonable. Now, under correction
of better judgments, I think the trouble and charge of such an
experiment would exceed the profit, and therefore I take this report to
be spurious, or at least only a new scheme of Mr. Wood himself, which to
make it pass the better in Ireland he would father upon a minister of

But I will now demonstrate beyond all contradiction that Mr. Walpole is
against this project of Mr. Wood, and is an entire friend to Ireland,
only by this one invincible argument, that he has the universal opinion
of being a wise man, an able minister, and in all his proceedings
pursuing the true interest of the King his master: And that as his
integrity is above all corruption, so is his fortune above all
temptation. I reckon therefore we are perfectly safe from that corner,
and shall never be under the necessity of contending with so formidable
a power, but be left to possess our brogues and potatoes in peace as
remote from thunder as we are from Jupiter.

I am,
My dear countrymen,
Your loving fellow-subject,
fellow-sufferer and humble servant.

Oct. 13. 1724.




Since a bill is preparing for the grand jury, to find against the
printer of the Drapier's last letter, there are several things maturely
to be considered by those gentlemen, before whom this bill is to come,
before they determine upon it.

FIRST, they are to consider, that the author of the said pamphlet, did
write three other discourses on the same subject; which instead of being
censured were universally approved by the whole nation, and were allowed
to have raised, and continued that spirit among us, which hitherto hath
kept out Wood's coin: For all men will allow, that if those pamphlets
had not been writ, his coin must have overrun the nation some months

SECONDLY, it is to be considered that this pamphlet, against which a
proclamation hath been issued, is writ by the same author; that nobody
ever doubted the innocence, and goodness of his design, that he appears
through the whole tenor of it, to be a loyal subject to His Majesty, and
devoted to the House of Hanover, and declares himself in a manner
peculiarly zealous against the Pretender; And if such a writer in four
several treatises on so nice a subject, where a royal patent is
concerned, and where it was necessary to speak of England and of
liberty, should in one or two places happen to let fall an inadvertent
expression, it would be hard to condemn him after all the good he hath
done; Especially when we consider, that he could have no possible
design in view, either of honour or profit, but purely the GOOD of his

THIRDLY, it ought to be well considered, whether any one expression in
the said pamphlet, be really liable to just exception, much less to be
found "wicked, malicious, seditious, reflecting upon His Majesty and his
ministry," &c.

The two points in that pamphlet, which it is said the prosecutors intend
chiefly to fix on, are, First, where the author mentions the "penner of
the King's answer." First, it is well known, His Majesty is not master
of the English tongue, and therefore it is necessary that some other
person should be employed to pen what he hath to say, or write in that
language. Secondly, His Majesty's answer is not in the first person, but
the third. It is not said "WE are concerned," or, "OUR royal
predecessors," but "HIS MAJESTY is concerned;" and "HIS royal
predecessors." By which it is plain these are properly not the words of
His Majesty; but supposed to be taken from him, and transmitted hither
by one of his ministers. Thirdly it will be easily seen, that the author
of the pamphlet delivers his sentiments upon this particular, with the
utmost caution and respect, as any impartial reader will observe.

The second paragraph, which it is said will be taken notice of as a
motive to find the bill, is, what the author says of Ireland being a
depending kingdom. He explains all the dependency he knows of it, which
is a law made in Ireland, whereby it is enacted that "whoever is King of
England, shall be King of Ireland." Before this explanation be
condemned, and the bill found upon it, it would be proper, that some
lawyers should fully inform the jury what other law there is, either
statute or common for this dependency, and if there be no law, there is
no transgression.

The Fourth thing very maturely to be considered by the jury, is, what
influence their finding the bill may have upon the kingdom. The people
in general find no fault in the Drapier's last book, any more than in
the three former, and therefore when they hear it is condemned by a
grand jury of Dublin, they will conclude it is done in favour of Wood's
coin, they will think we of this town have changed our minds, and intend
to take those halfpence, and therefore that it will be in vain for them
to stand out. So that the question comes to this, Which will be of the
worst consequence, to let pass one or two expressions, at the worst only
unwary, in a book written for the public service; or to leave a free
open passage for Wood's brass to overrun us, by which we shall be undone
for ever.

The fifth thing to be considered, is, that the members of the grand jury
being merchants, and principal shopkeepers, can have no suitable
temptation offered them, as a recompense for the mischief they will
suffer by letting in this coin, nor can be at any loss or danger by
rejecting the bill: They do not expect any employments in the state, to
make up in their own private advantage, the destruction of their
country. Whereas those who go about to advise, entice, or threaten them
to find that bill, have great employments, which they have a mind to
keep, or to get greater, which was likewise the case of all those who
signed to have the author prosecuted. And therefore it is known, that
his grace the Lord Archbishop of Dublin,[1] so renowned for his piety,
and wisdom, and love of his country, absolutely refused to condemn the
book, or the author.

[Footnote 1: The proclamation against the Drapier's fourth letter as
given in Appendix IV. at the end of this volume, does not bear
Archbishop King's signature. In a letter from that prelate, written on
November 24th, 1724, to Samuel Molineux, secretary to the Prince of
Wales, it appears that other persons of influence also refrained from
sanctioning it. The following is an extract from this letter as given by
Monck Mason for the first time:

"A great many pamphlets have been writ about it [Wood's patent], but I
am told none of them are permitted to be printed in England. Two have
come out since my Lord Lieutenant came here, written with sobriety,
modesty, and great force, in my opinion, which put the matter in a fair
and clear light, though not with all the advantage of which it is
capable; four were printed before, by somebody that calleth himself a
Drapier which were in a ludicrous and satyrical style; against the last
of these the Lord Lieutenant procured a proclamation, signed by 17 of
the Council; offering L300 for discovering the author. I thought the
premium excessive, so I and three more refused to sign it, but declared,
that if his excellency would secure us from the brass money, I would
sign it, or any other, tending only to the disadvantage of private
persons; but, till we had that security, I would look on this
proclamation no otherwise than as a step towards passing that base and
mischievous coin, and designed to intimidate those who opposed the
passing it; and I declared, that I would not approve of anything that
might countenance, or encourage such a ruinous project; that issuing
such a proclamation would make all believe, that the government was
engaged to support Wood's pretensions, and that would neither be for
their honour nor ease. I was not able to stop the proclamation, but my
refusing to sign it has not been without effect." ("History of St.
Patrick's," p. 344, note n.). [T.S.]]

Lastly, it ought to be considered what consequence the finding the bill,
may have upon a poor man perfectly innocent, I mean the printer. A
lawyer may pick out expressions and make them liable to exception, where
no other man is able to find any. But how can it be supposed, that an
ignorant printer can be such a critic? He knew the author's design was
honest, and approved by the whole kingdom, he advised with friends, who
told him there was no harm in the book, and he could see none himself.
It was sent him in an unknown hand, but the same in which he received
the three former. He and his wife have offered to take their oaths that
they knew not the author; and therefore to find a bill, that may bring a
punishment upon the innocent, will appear very hard, to say no worse.
For it will be impossible to find the author, unless he will please to
discover himself, although I wonder he ever concealed his name. But I
suppose what he did at first out of modesty, he now continues to do out
of prudence. God protect us and him!

I will conclude all with a fable, ascribed to Demosthenes. He had served
the people of Athens with great fidelity in the station of an orator,
when upon a certain occasion, apprehending to be delivered over to his
enemies, he told the Athenians, his countrymen, the following story.
Once upon a time the wolves desired a league with the shepherds, upon
this condition; that the cause of strife might be taken away, which was
the shepherds and the mastiffs; this being granted, the wolves without
all fear made havoc of the sheep.[2]

Novem. 11th, 1724.

[Footnote 2: The advice had the desired effect. The jury returned a
verdict of "Ignoramus" on the bill, which so aroused Whitshed, the Chief
Justice, that he discharged them. As a comment on Whitshed's illegal
procedure, the following extract was circulated:


_Resolutions of the House of Commons, in England, November 13, 1680._

"Several persons being examined about the dismissing a grand jury in
Middlesex, the House came to the following resolutions:--

"_Resolved_, That the discharging of a grand-jury by any judge, before
the end of the term, assizes, or sessions, while matters are under their
consideration, and not presented, is arbitrary, illegal, destructive to
public justice, a manifest violation of his oath, and is a means to
subvert the fundamental laws of this kingdom.

"_Resolved_, That a committee be appointed to examine the proceedings of
the judges in Westminster-hall, and report the same with their opinion
therein to this House." [T.S.]]




I have departed from the order given by Faulkner and the earlier
editors,[1] and followed by Sir W. Scott in arranging the series of the
Drapier's Letters, by adhering to a more correct chronological sequence.
This letter has always been printed as the sixth Drapier's letter, but I
have printed it here as the fifth, since it was written prior to the
letter addressed to Viscount Molesworth, which has hitherto been called
the fifth. The Molesworth letter I print here as "Letter VI." As already
noted the letter to Midleton was written on the 26th October, 1724, but
its first publication in print did not occur until Faulkner included it
in the fourth volume of his collected edition of Swift's works, issued
in 1735. There it is signed "J.S." and is given as from the "Deanery
House." All the other letters are printed as "By M.B. Drapier." The
Advertisement to the Reader prefixed to the present fifth letter is from
Faulkner's edition. Probably it was printed by Faulkner under Swift's

[Footnote 1: Sheridan, Deane Swift, Hawkesworth and Nichols]

Swift's acquaintance with Midleton had been of long standing. The
Chancellor had been an avowed opponent of the patent and yet, by his
signature to the proclamation, he seemed to be giving the weight of his
official position against the popular sentiment. In addressing him,
Swift was endeavouring, apparently, to keep him to his original line of
action and to destroy any influence the government party may have had on
him, since he was well aware of Carteret's insinuating charm. Midleton,
however, had always stood firm against the patent. His signature to the
proclamation against the Drapier was justified by him when he said that
the Drapier's letters tended to disturbance. Carteret had really tried
to win him over, but he did not succeed "While he [Midleton] expressed
the highest obligation to the Lord Lieutenant," writes Coxe, "he
declared that his duty to his country was paramount to every other
consideration, and refused to give any assistance to government, until
the patent was absolutely surrendered."

The text here given of this letter is based on Faulkner's issue in vol.
iv. of the 1735 edition of Swift's works. It has been collated with that
given in the fifth volume of the "Miscellanies," printed in London in
the same year.



The former of the two following papers is dated Oct. 6th 1724[3], by
which it appears to be written a little after the proclamation against
the author of the Drapier's Fourth Letter. It is delivered with much
caution, because the author confesseth himself to be Dean of St.
Patrick's; and I could discover his name subscribed at the end of the
original, although blotted out by some other hand, I can tell no other
reason why it was not printed, than what I have heard; that the writer
finding how effectually the Drapier had succeeded, and at the same time
how highly the people in power seemed to be displeased, thought it more
prudent to keep the paper in his cabinet. However, having received some
encouragement to collect into one volume all papers relating to Ireland,
supposed to be written by the Drapier; and knowing how favourably that
author's writings in this kind have been received by the public; to make
the volume more complete, [I procured a copy of the following letter
from one of the author's friends, with whom it was left, while the
author was in England; and][4] I have printed it as near as I could in
the order of time.

[Footnote 2: Nichols, in the second volume of his Supplement to Swift's
Works (1779, 8vo), prints a note on this "Advertisement," furnished him
by Bowyer. It is as follows:

"1. The first of the papers is said to be dated Oct. 6, 1724; and that
it appears from thence to be dated a little after the proclamation
against the Drapier's fourth letter. Now the fourth letter itself is
dated Oct. 23, 1724. This is a pardonable mistake anywhere, but, much
more in a country where _going before just coming after_ is the
characteristic dialect. But I little thought that the Dean, in his zeal
for Ireland, would vouchsafe to adopt the shibboleth of it.

"2. The Preface-writer, in the choice MS which he found, could discover
the Dean's name subscribed at the end of the original; but _blotted out_
by _some other hand_. As the former passage is a proof that the
Advertisement was drawn up in Ireland, so this affords a strong
presumption that it was under the direction of the Dean himself: for who
else could divine that his name was struck out by another hand? Other
ink it might be: but in these recent MSS. of our age, it is the first
time I ever heard of a blot carrying the evidence of a handwriting.
Whether the Dean or the printer hit this _blot_, I shall not inquire;
but lay before you the pleasant procedure of the latter upon this
discovery. He had got, we see, the original in the Dean's hand; but the
name was obliterated. What does he, but send away to England for a copy
which might authenticate _his original_; and from such a copy the public
is favoured with it! I remember, in a cause before Sir Joseph Jekyll, a
man began reading in court the title-deeds of an estate which was
contested. 'The original is a little blind,' says he; 'I have got a very
fair copy of it, which I beg leave to go on with'--'Hold,' says Sir
Joseph, 'if the original is not good, the copy can never make it so.' I
am far, however, from accusing the printer of intending any fraud on the
world. He who tells his story so openly gives security enough for his
honesty. I can easily conceive the Advertisement might be in a good
measure the Dean's, who never was over-courteous to his readers, and
might for once be content to be merry with them." [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: Misprinted by Faulkner for Oct. 26th. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: This portion in square brackets is not given by Faulkner in
his Advertisement. [T.S.]]

The next treatise is called "An Address, &c." It is without a date; but
seems to be written during the first session of Parliament in Lord
Carteret's government. The title of this Address is in the usual form,
by M.B. Drapier. There is but a small part of it that relates to William
Wood and his coin: The rest contains several proposals for the
improvement of Ireland, the many discouragements it lies under, and what
are the best remedies against them.

By many passages in some of the Drapier's former letters, but
particularly in the following Address, concerning the great drain of
money from Ireland by absentees, importation of foreign goods, balance
of trade, and the like, it appears that the author had taken much pains,
and been well informed in the business of computing; all his reasonings
upon that subject, although he does not here descend to particular sums,
agreeing generally with the accounts given by others who have since made
that enquiry their particular study. And it is observable, that in this
Address, as well as in one of his printed letters, he hath specified
several important articles, that have not been taken notice of by others
who came after him.



My Lord, I desire you will consider me as a member who comes in at the
latter end of a debate; or as a lawyer who speaks to a cause, when the
matter hath been almost exhausted by those who spoke before.

[Footnote 5: Alan Brodrick, Lord Midleton (1660?-1728), came of a Surrey
family that had greatly benefited by the forfeitures in Ireland.
Adopting the profession of the law, Brodrick was, in 1695, appointed
Solicitor-General for Ireland. He sat in the Irish House of Commons as
the member for Cork, and in 1703 was chosen its Speaker. His strong
opposition to the Sacramental Test Act lost him the favour of the
government, and he was removed from his office of Solicitor-General. In
1707, however, he was appointed Attorney-General for Ireland, and in
1714 made Lord Chancellor. In the year following he was created Baron
Brodrick of Midleton. His trimming with Walpole and Carteret did not,
however, prevent him from opposing the Wood's patent, though he signed
the proclamation against the Drapier. He thought the letters served to
"create jealousies between the King and the people of Ireland." [T.S.]]

I remember some months ago I was at your house upon a commission, where
I am one of the governors: But I went thither not so much on account of
the commission, as to ask you some questions concerning Mr. Wood's
patent to coin halfpence for Ireland; where you very freely told me, in
a mixed company, how much you had been always against that wicked
project, which raised in me an esteem for you so far, that I went in a
few days to make you a visit, after many years' intermission. I am
likewise told, that your son wrote two letters from London, (one of
which I have seen) empowering those to whom they were directed, to
assure his friends, that whereas there was a malicious report spread of
his engaging himself to Mr. Walpole for forty thousand pounds of Wood's
coin, to be received in Ireland, the said report was false and
groundless; and he had never discoursed with that minister on the
subject; nor would ever give his consent to have one farthing of the
said coin current here. And although it be long since I have given
myself the trouble of conversing with people of titles or stations; yet
I have been told by those who can take up with such amusements, that
there is not a considerable person of the kingdom, scrupulous in any
sort to declare his opinion. But all this is needless to allege, when we
consider, that the ruinous consequences of Wood's patent, have been so
strongly represented by both Houses of Parliament; by the Privy-council;
the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of Dublin; by so many corporations; and the
concurrence of the principal gentlemen in most counties, at their
quarter-sessions, without any regard to party, religion, or nation.

I conclude from hence, that the currency of these halfpence would, in
the universal opinion of our people, be utterly destructive to this
kingdom; and consequently, that it is every man's duty, not only to
refuse this coin himself, but as far as in him lies, to persuade others
to do the like: And whether this be done in private or in print, is all
a case: As no layman is forbid to write, or to discourse upon religious
or moral subjects; although he may not do it in a pulpit (at least in
our church). Neither is this an affair of state, until authority shall
think fit to declare it so: Or if you should understand it in that
sense; yet you will please to consider that I am not now a preaching.

Therefore, I do think it my duty, since the Drapier will probably be no
more heard of, so far to supply his place, as not to incur his fortune:
For I have learnt from old experience, that there are times wherein a
man ought to be cautious as well as innocent. I therefore hope, that
preserving both those characters, I may be allowed, by offering new
arguments or enforcing old ones, to refresh the memory of my
fellow-subjects, and keep up that good spirit raised among them; to
preserve themselves from utter ruin by lawful means, and such as are
permitted by his Majesty.

I believe you will please to allow me two propositions: First, that we
are a most loyal people; and, Secondly, that we are a free people, in
the common acceptation of that word applied to a subject under a
limited monarch. I know very well, that you and I did many years ago
in discourse differ much, in the presence of Lord Wharton, about the
meaning of that word _liberty_, with relation to Ireland. But if you
will not allow us to be a free people, there is only another appellation
left; which, I doubt, my Lord Chief Justice Whitshed would call me to an
account for, if I venture to bestow: For, I observed, and I shall never
forget upon what occasion, the device upon his coach to be _Libertas et
natale solum;_ at the very point of time when he was sitting in his
court, and perjuring himself to betray both.[6]

[Footnote 6: On this motto of Whitshed's Swift wrote the following
poetical paraphrase:

"_Libertas et natale solum:_
Fine words! I wonder where you stole 'em.
Could nothing but thy chief reproach
Serve for a motto on thy coach?
But let me now thy words translate:
_Natale solum,_ my estate;
My dear estate, how well I love it,
My tenants, if you doubt, will prove it,
They swear I am so kind and good,
I hug them till I squeeze their blood.
_Libertas_ bears a large import:
First, how to swagger in a court;
And, secondly, to shew my fury
Against an uncomplying jury;
And, thirdly, 'tis a new invention,
To favour Wood, and keep my pension;
And, fourthly, 'tis to play an odd trick,
Get the great seal and turn out Broderick;
And, fifthly, (you know whom I mean,)
To humble that vexatious Dean:
And, sixthly, for my soul to barter it
For fifty times its worth to Carteret.
Now since your motto thus you construe,
I must confess you've spoken once true.
_Libertas et natale solum_.
You had good reason when you stole 'em."


Now, as for our loyalty, to His present Majesty; if it hath ever been
equalled in any other part of his dominions; I am sure it hath never
been exceeded: And I am confident he hath not a minister in England who
could ever call it once in question: But that some hard rumours at least
have been transmitted from t'other side the water, I suppose you will
not doubt: and rumours of the severest kind; which many good people have
imputed to the indirect proceeding of Mr. Wood and his emissaries; as if
he endeavoured it should be thought that our loyalty depended upon the
test of refusing or taking his copper. Now, as I am sure you will admit
us to be a loyal people; so you will think it pardonable in us to hope
for all proper marks of favour and protection from so gracious a King,
that a loyal and free people can expect: Among which, we all agree in
reckoning this to be one; that Wood's halfpence may never have entrance
into this kingdom. And this we shall continue to wish, when we dare no
longer express our wishes; although there were no such mortal as a
Drapier in the world.

I am heartily sorry, that any writer should, in a cause so generally
approved, give occasion to the government and council to charge him with
paragraphs "highly reflecting upon His Majesty and his ministers;
tending to alienate the affections of his good subjects in England and
Ireland from each other; and to promote sedition among the people."[7] I
must confess, that with many others, I thought he meant well; although
he might have the failing of better writers, to be not always fortunate
in the manner of expressing himself.

[Footnote 7: Swift here quotes the words of the proclamation issued
against the fourth Drapier's Letter. See Appendix IV. [T.S.]]

However, since the Drapier is but one man, I shall think I do a public
service, by asserting that the rest of my countrymen are wholly free
from learning out of _his_ pamphlets to reflect on the King or his
ministers, to breed sedition.

I solemnly declare, that I never once heard the least reflection cast
upon the King, on the subject of Mr. Wood's coin: For in many discourses
on this matter, I do not remember His Majesty's name to be so much as
mentioned. As to the ministry in England, the only two persons hinted at
were the Duke of Grafton, and Mr. Walpole:[8] The former, as I have
heard you and a hundred others affirm, declared, that he never saw the
patent in favour of Mr. Wood, before it was passed, although he were
then lord lieutenant: And therefore I suppose everybody believes, that
his grace hath been wholly unconcerned in it since.

[Footnote 8: Walpole was created a Knight of the Bath in 1724, when that
order was revived. In 1726 he was installed Knight of the Order of the
Garter, being the only commoner who had been so distinguished since the
reign of James I., except Admiral Montague, afterwards Earl of Sandwich.
He had been offered a peerage in 1723, but declined it for himself,
accepting it for his son, who was created Baron Walpole of Walpole, in
Norfolk. [T.S.]]

Mr. Walpole was indeed supposed to be understood by the letter W. in
several newspapers; where it is said, that some expressions fell from
him not very favourable to the people of Ireland; for the truth of
which, the kingdom is not to answer, any more than for the discretion of
the publishers. You observe, the Drapier wholly clears Mr. Walpole of
this charge, by very strong arguments and speaks of him with civility. I
cannot deny myself to have been often present, where the company gave
then opinion, that Mr. Walpole favoured Mr. Wood's project, which I
always contradicted; and for my own part, never once opened my lips
against that minister, either in mixed or particular meetings: And my
reason for this reservedness was, because it pleased him, in the Queen's
time (I mean Queen Anne of ever blessed memory) to make a speech
directly against me, by name, in the House of Commons, as I was told a
very few minutes after, in the Court of Requests, by more than fifty

But you, who are in a great station here, (if anything here may be
called great) cannot be ignorant, that whoever is understood by public
voice to be chief minister, will, among the general talkers, share the
blame, whether justly or no, of every thing that is disliked; which I
could easily make appear in many instances, from my own knowledge, while
I was in the world; and particularly in the case of the greatest, the
wisest, and the most uncorrupt minister, I ever conversed with.[9]

[Footnote 9: Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford. [T.S.]]

But, whatever unpleasing opinion some people might conceive of Mr.
Walpole, on account of those halfpence; I dare boldly affirm, it was
entirely owing to Mr. Wood. Many persons of credit, come from England,
have affirmed to me, and others, that they have seen letters under his
hand, full of arrogance and insolence towards Ireland; and boasting of
his favour with Mr. Walpole; which is highly probable: Because he
reasonably thought it for his interest to spread such a report; and
because it is the known talent of low and little spirits, to have a
great man's name perpetually in their mouths.[10]

[Footnote 10: See Coxe's "Memoirs of Walpole" (vol. i., cap. 26, p. 389,
ed. 1800), where Wood is blamed for his indiscretion on this matter. See
also note prefixed to the Drapier's First Letter in the present edition.

Thus I have sufficiently justified the people of Ireland, from learning
any bad lessons out of the Drapier's pamphlets, with regard to His
Majesty and his ministers: And, therefore, if those papers were intended
to sow sedition among us, God be thanked, the seeds have fallen upon a
very improper soil.

As to alienating the affections of the people of England and Ireland
from each other; I believe, the Drapier, whatever his intentions were,
hath left that matter just as he found it.

I have lived long in both kingdoms, as well in country as in town; and
therefore, take myself to be as well informed as most men, in the
dispositions of each people toward the other. By the people, I
understand here, only the bulk of the common people; and I desire no
lawyer may distort or extend my meaning.

There is a vein of industry and parsimony, that runs through the whole
people of England; which, added to the easiness of their rents, makes
them rich and sturdy. As to Ireland, they know little more than they do
of Mexico; further than that it is a country subject to the King of
England, full of bogs, inhabited by wild Irish Papists; who are kept in
awe by mercenary troops sent from thence: And their general opinion is,
that it were better for England if this whole island were sunk into the
sea; for, they have a tradition, that every forty years there must be a
rebellion in Ireland. I have seen the grossest suppositions pass upon
them; "that the wild Irish were taken in toils; but that, in some time,
they would grow so tame, as to eat out of your hands:" I have been
asked by hundreds, and particularly by my neighbours, your tenants, at
Pepper-harrow; "whether I had come from Ireland by sea:" And, upon the
arrival of an Irishman to a country town, I have known crowds coming
about him, and wondering to see him look so much better than themselves.

A gentleman now in Dublin, affirms, "that passing some months ago
through Northampton, and finding the whole town in a flurry, with bells,
bonfires, and illuminations, upon asking the cause, was told, it was for
joy, that the Irish had submitted to receive Wood's halfpence." This, I
think, plainly shews what sentiments that large town hath of us; and how
little they made it their own case; although they be directly in our way
to London, and therefore, cannot but be frequently convinced that we
have human shapes.

As to the people of this kingdom, they consist either of Irish Papists;
who are as inconsiderable, in point of power, as the women and children;
or of English Protestants, who love their brethren of that kingdom;
although they may possibly sometimes complain, when they think they are
hardly used: However, I confess, I do not see any great consequence, how
their personal affections stand to each other, while the sea divides
them, and while they continue in their loyalty to the same prince. And
yet, I will appeal to you; whether those from England have reason to
complain, when they come hither in pursuit of their fortunes? Or,
whether the people of Ireland have reason to boast, when they go to
England on the same design?

My second proposition was, that we of Ireland are a free people: This, I
suppose, you will allow; at least, with certain limitations remaining in
your own breast. However, I am sure it is not criminal to affirm;
because the words "liberty" and "property," as applied to the subject,
are often mentioned in both houses of Parliament, as well as in yours,
and other courts below; from whence it must follow, that the people of
Ireland do, or ought to enjoy all the benefits of the common and statute
law; such as to be tried by juries, to pay no money without their own
consent, as represented in Parliament; and the like. If this be so, and
if it be universally agreed, that a free people cannot, by law, be
compelled to take any money in payment, except gold and silver; I do
not see why any man should be hindered from cautioning his countrymen
against this coin of William Wood; who is endeavouring by fraud to rob
us of that property, which the laws have secured. If I am mistaken, and
that this copper can be obtruded on us; I would put the Drapier's case
in another light, by supposing, that a person going into his shop,
should agree for thirty shillings' worth of goods, and force the seller
to take his payment in a parcel of copper pieces, intrinsically not
worth above a crown: I desire to know, whether the Drapier would not be
actually robbed of five and twenty shillings, and how far he could be
said to be master of his property? The same question may be applied to
rents and debts, on bond or mortgage, and to all kind of commerce

Give me leave to do what the Drapier hath done more than once before me;
which is, to relate the naked fact, as it stands in the view of the

One William Wood, Esq; and hardware-man, obtains, by fraud, a patent in
England, to coin 108,000_l._ in copper, to pass in Ireland, leaving us
liberty to take, or to refuse. The people here, in all sorts of bodies
and representatives, do openly and heartily declare, that they will not
accept this coin: To justify these declarations, they generally offer
two reasons; first, because by the words of the patent, they are left to
their own choice: And secondly, because they are not obliged by law: So
that here you see there is, _bellum atgue virum_, a kingdom on one side,
and William Wood on the other. And if Mr. Wood gets the victory, at the
expense of Ireland's ruin, and the profit of one or two hundred thousand
pounds (I mean by continuing, and counterfeiting as long as he lives)
for himself; I doubt, both present and future ages will, at least, think
it a very singular scheme.

If this fact be truly stated; I must confess, I look upon it as my duty,
so far as God hath enabled me, and as long as I keep within the bounds
of truth, of duty, and of decency, to warn my fellow-subjects, as they
value their King, their country, and all that ought or can be dear to
them, never to admit this pernicious coin; no not so much as one single
halfpenny. For, if one single thief forces the door, it is in vain to
talk of keeping out the whole crew behind.

And, while I shall be thus employed, I will never give myself leave to
suppose, that what I say can either offend my Lord Lieutenant; whose
person and great qualities I have always highly respected; (as I am sure
his excellency will be my witness) or the ministers in England, with
whom I have nothing to do, or they with me; much less the Privy-council
here, who, as I am informed, did send an address to His Majesty against
Mr. Wood's coin; which, if it be a mistake, I desire I may not be
accused for a spreader of false news: But, I confess, I am so great a
stranger to affairs, that for anything I know, the whole body of the
council may since have been changed: And, although I observed some of
the very same names in a late declaration against that coin, which I saw
subscribed to the proclamation against the Drapier; yet possibly they
may be different persons; for they are utterly unknown to me, and are
like to continue so.

In this controversy, where the reasoners on each side are divided by St.
George's Channel, His Majesty's prerogative, perhaps, would not have
been mentioned; if Mr. Wood, and his advocates, had not made it
necessary, by giving out, that the currency of his coin should be
enforced by a proclamation. The traders and common people of the
kingdom, were heartily willing to refuse this coin; but the fear of a
proclamation brought along with it most dreadful apprehensions. It was
therefore, absolutely necessary for the Drapier, to remove this
difficulty; and accordingly, in one of his former pamphlets, he hath
produced invincible arguments, (wherever he picked them up) that the
King's prerogative was not at all concerned in the matter; since the law
had sufficiently provided against any coin to be imposed upon the
subject, except gold and silver; and that copper is not money, but as it
hath been properly called _nummorum famulus_.

The three former letters from the Drapier, having not received any
public censure, I look upon them to be without exception; and that the
good people of the kingdom ought to read them often, in order to keep up
that spirit raised against this destructive coin of Mr. Wood: As for
this last letter, against which a proclamation is issued; I shall only
say, that I could wish it were stripped of all that can be any way
exceptionable; which I would not think it below me to undertake, if my
abilities were equal; but being naturally somewhat slow of
comprehension; no lawyer, and apt to believe the best of those who
profess good designs, without any visible motive either of profit or
honour; I might pore for ever, without distinguishing the cockle from
the corn.

That which, I am told, gives greatest offence in this last letter, is
where the Drapier affirms; "that if a rebellion should prove so
successful, as to fix the Pretender on the throne of England, he would
venture so far to transgress the Irish statute, (which unites Ireland to
England under one King) as to lose every drop of his blood, to hinder
him from being King of Ireland."

I shall not presume to vindicate any man, who openly declares he would
transgress a statute; and a statute of such importance: But, with the
most humble submission, and desire of pardon for a very innocent
mistake, I should be apt to think that the loyal intention of the
writer, might be at least some small extenuation of his crime. For, in
this I confess myself to think with the Drapier.

I have not hitherto been told of any other objections against that
pamphlet; but, I suppose, they will all appear at the prosecution of the
Drapier. And, I think, whoever in his own conscience believes the said
pamphlet to be "wicked and malicious, seditious and scandalous, highly
reflecting upon His Majesty and his ministers, &c." would do well to
discover the author, (as little a friend as I am to the trade of
informers) although the reward of 300_l_. had not been tacked to the
discovery. I own, it would be a great satisfaction to me, to hear the
arguments not only of judges, but of lawyers, upon this case. Because,
you cannot but know, there often happens occasions, wherein it would be
very convenient, that the bulk of the people should be informed how they
ought to conduct themselves; and therefore, it hath been the wisdom of
the English Parliaments, to be very reserved in limiting the press. When
a bill is debating in either House of Parliament there, nothing is more
usual, than to have the controversy handled by pamphlets on both sides;
without the least animadversion upon the authors.

So here, in the case of Mr. Wood and his coin; since the two Houses
gave their opinion by addresses, how dangerous the currency of that
copper would be to Ireland; it was, without all question, both lawful
and convenient, that the bulk of the people should be let more
particularly into the nature of the danger they were in; and of the
remedies that were in their own power, if they would have the sense to
apply them; and this cannot be more conveniently done, than by
particular persons, to whom God hath given zeal and understanding
sufficient for such an undertaking. Thus it happened in the case of that
destructive project for a bank in Ireland, which was brought into
Parliament a few years ago; and it was allowed, that the arguments and
writings of some without doors, contributed very much to reject it.[11]

[Footnote 11: Swift himself assisted in writing against this
"destructive project" in a series of pamphlets (see vol. vii.). The
arguments for and against the bank were thoroughly discussed by Hercules
Rowley and Henry Maxwell in a series of controversial letters against
each other. [T.S.]]

Now, I should be heartily glad if some able lawyers would prescribe the
limits, how far a private man may venture in delivering his thoughts
upon public matters: Because a true lover of his country, may think it
hard to be a quiet stander-by, and an indolent looker-on, while a public
error prevails; by which a whole nation may be ruined. Every man who
enjoys property, hath some share in the public; and therefore, the care
of the public is, in some degree, every such man's concern.

To come to particulars, I could wish to know, Whether it be utterly
unlawful in any writer so much as to mention the prerogative; at least
so far as to bring it into doubt, upon any point whatsoever? I know it
is often debated in Westminster-hall; and Sir Edward Coke, as well as
other eminent lawyers, do frequently handle that subject in their books.

Secondly, How far the prerogative extends to force coin upon the
subject, which is not sterling; such as lead, brass, copper, mixt metal,
shells, leather, or any other material; and fix upon it whatever
denomination the crown shall think fit?

Thirdly, What is really and truly meant by that phrase of "a depending
kingdom," as applied to Ireland; and wherein that dependency consisteth?

Lastly, In what points relating to liberty and property, the people of
Ireland differ, or at least ought to differ, from those of England?

If these particulars were made so clear, that none could mistake them,
it would be of infinite ease and use to the kingdom; and either prevent
or silence all discontents.

My Lord Somers, the greatest man I ever knew of your robe; and whose
thoughts of Ireland differed as far as heaven and earth, from those of
some others among his brethren here; lamented to me, that the
prerogative of the Crown, or the privileges of Parliament, should ever
be liable to dispute, in any single branch of either; by which means, he
said, the public often suffered great inconveniences; whereof he gave me
several instances. I produce the authority of so eminent a person, to
justify my desires, that some high points might be cleared.

For want of such known ascertainment, how far a writer may proceed in
expressing his good wishes for his country; a person of the most
innocent intentions, may possibly, by the oratory and comments of
lawyers, be charged with many crimes, which from his very soul he
abhors; and consequently may be ruined in his fortunes, and left to rot
among thieves in some stinking jail; merely for mistaking the purlieus
of the law. I have known, in my lifetime, a printer prosecuted and
convicted, for publishing a pamphlet; where the author's intentions, I
am confident, were as good and innocent, as those of a martyr at his
last prayers.[12] I did very lately, as I thought it my duty, preach to
the people under my inspection, upon the subject of Mr. Wood's coin; and
although I never heard that my sermon gave the least offence, as I am
sure none was intended; yet, if it were now printed and published, I
cannot say, I would ensure it from the hands of the common hangman; or
my own person from those of a messenger.[13]

[Footnote 12: Supposed to be "A proposal for the universal use of Irish
manufactures," written by the author. [F.]]

[Footnote 13: The reference here is to Swift's sermon on "Doing Good."
See Swift's Works, vol. iv., p. 181, present edition. [T.S.]]

I have heard the late Chief Justice Holt[14]affirm, that in all criminal
cases, the most favourable interpretation should be put upon words, that
they can possibly bear. You meet the same position asserted in many
trials, for the greatest crimes; though often very ill practised, by the
perpetual corruption of judges. And I remember, at a trial in Kent,
where Sir George Rook[15] was indicted for calling a gentleman knave and
villain; the lawyer for the defendant brought off his client, by
alleging, that the words were not injurious; for, _knave_ in the old and
true signification, imported only a servant; and _villain_ in Latin, is
_villicus_; which is no more than a man employed in country labour; or
rather a bailiff.

[Footnote 14: Sir John Holt (1642-1710) held the recordership of London,
in 1685, and was appointed Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench in
1688. In the celebrated case, Ashby _v._. White, Holt strongly upheld
the rights of the voter as against the House of Commons. He was
distinguished, in his time, for the fair and impartial hearing he always
accorded a prisoner, and he even personally assisted the accused in
cases where the law did not allow him to be represented by counsel. Many
of Holt's opinions did become "standard maxims." [T.S.]]

[Footnote 15: Admiral Sir George Rooke (1650-1709), who, with
Rear-Admiral Byng, captured Gibraltar in 1704. [T.S.]]

If Sir John Holt's opinion were a standard maxim for all times and
circumstances, any writer, with a very small measure of discretion,
might easily be safe; but, I doubt, in practice it hath been frequently
controlled, at least before his time; for I take it to be an old rule in

I have read, or heard, a passage of Signor Leti, an Italian; who being
in London, busying himself with writing the History of England, told
King Charles the Second, that he endeavoured as much as he could to
avoid giving offence, but found it a thing impossible; although he
should have been as wise as Solomon: The King answered, that if this
were the case, he had better employ his time in writing proverbs as
Solomon did: But Leti lay under no public necessity of writing; neither
would England have been one halfpenny the better, or the worse, whether
he writ or no.

This I mention, because I know it will readily be objected, "What have
private men to do with the public? What call had a Drapier to turn
politician, to meddle in matters of state? Would not his time have been
better employed in looking to his shop; or his pen in writing proverbs,
elegies, ballads, garlands, and wonders? He would then have been out of
all danger of proclamations, and prosecutions. Have we not able
magistrates and counsellors hourly watching over the public weal?" All
this may be true: And yet, when the addresses from both Houses of
Parliament, against Mr. Wood's halfpence, failed of success; if some pen
had not been employed, to inform the people how far they might legally
proceed, in refusing that coin, to detect the fraud, the artifice, and
insolence of the coiner; and to lay open the most ruinous consequences
to the whole kingdom; which would inevitably follow from the currency of
the said coin; I might appeal to many hundred thousand people, whether
any one of them would ever have had the courage or sagacity to refuse

If this copper should begin to make its way among the common, ignorant
people, we are inevitably undone; it is they who give us the greatest
apprehension, being easily frighted, and greedy to swallow
misinformations: For, if every man were wise enough to understand his
own interest, which is every man's principal study, there would be no
need of pamphlets upon this occasion. But, as things stand, I have
thought it absolutely necessary, from my duty to God, my King, and my
country, to inform the people, that the proclamation lately issued
against the Drapier, doth not in the least affect the case of Mr. Wood
and his coin; but only refers to certain paragraphs in the Drapier's
last pamphlet, (not immediately relating to his subject, nor at all to
the merits of the cause,) which the government was pleased to dislike;
so that any man has the same liberty to reject, to write, and to declare
against this coin, which he had before: Neither is any man obliged to
believe, that those honourable persons (whereof you are the first) who
signed that memorable proclamation against the Drapier, have at all
changed their opinions, with regard to Mr. Wood or his coin.

Therefore concluding myself to be thus far upon a safe and sure foot; I
shall continue, upon any proper occasion, as God enables me, to revive
and preserve that spirit raised in the nation, (whether the real author
were a real Drapier or no is little to the purpose) against this horrid
design of Mr. Wood; at the same time carefully watching every stroke of
my pen, and venturing only to incur the public censure of the world as a
writer; not of my Lord Chief Justice Whitshed, as a criminal. Whenever
an order shall come out by authority, forbidding all men upon the
highest penalties, to offer anything in writing or discourse against
Mr. Wood's halfpence; I shall certainly submit. However, if that should
happen, I am determined to be somewhat more than the last man in the
kingdom to receive them; because I will never receive them at all: For,
although I know how to be silent; I have not yet learned to pay active
obedience against my conscience, and the public safety.

I desire to put a case, which I think the Drapier, in some of his books,
hath put before me; although not so fully as it requires.

You know the copper halfpence in England are coined by the public; and
every piece worth pretty tolerably near the value of the copper. Now
suppose, that, instead of the public coinage, a patent had been granted
to some private, obscure person, for coining a proportionable quantity
of copper in that kingdom, to what Mr. Wood is preparing in this; and
all of it at least five times below the intrinsic value: The current
money of England is reckoned to be twenty millions; and ours under five
hundred thousand pounds: By this computation, as Mr. Wood hath power to
give us 108,000 pound; so the patentee in England, by the same
proportion, might circulate four millions three hundred and twenty
thousand pounds; besides as much more by stealth and counterfeits: I
desire to know from you, whether the Parliament might not have addressed
upon such an occasion; what success they probably would have had; and
how many Drapiers would have risen to pester the world with pamphlets:
Yet that kingdom would not be so great a sufferer as ours in the like
case; because their cash would not be conveyed into foreign countries,
but lie hid in the chests of cautious, thrifty men, until better times.
Then I desire, for the satisfaction of the public, that you will please
to inform me why this country is treated in so very different a manner,
in a point of such high importance; whether it be on account of
Poining's act; of subordination; dependence; or any other term of art;
which I shall not contest, but am too dull to understand.

I am very sensible, that the good or ill success of Mr. Wood, will
affect you less than any person of consequence in the kingdom; because I
hear you are so prudent as to make all your purchases in England; and
truly so would I, if I had money, although I were to pay a hundred
years' purchase; because I should be glad to possess a freehold that
could not be taken from me by any law to which I did not give my own
consent; and where I should never be in danger of receiving my rents in
mixed copper, at the loss of sixteen shillings in the pound. You can
live in ease and plenty at Pepper-harrow, in Surrey; and therefore I
thought it extremely generous and public-spirited in you to be of the
kingdom's side in this dispute, by shewing, without reserve, your
disapprobation of Mr. Wood's design; at least if you have been so frank
to others as you were to me; which indeed I could not but wonder at,
considering how much we differ in other points; and therefore I could
get but few believers, when I attempted to justify you in this article
from your own words.

I would humbly offer another thought, which I do not remember to have
fallen under the Drapier's observation. If these halfpence should once
gain admittance; it is agreed, that in no long space of time, what by
the clandestine practices of the coiner, what by his own counterfeits,
and those of others, either from abroad or at home; his limited quantity
would be trebled upon us, until there would not be a grain of gold or
silver visible in the nation. This, in my opinion would lay a heavy
charge upon the crown, by creating a necessity of transmitting money
from England to pay the salaries at least of the principal civil
officers: For I do not conceive how a judge (for instance) could support
his dignity with a thousand pounds a year in Wood's coin; which would
not intrinsically be worth near two hundred. To argue that these
halfpence, if no other coin were current, would answer the general ends
of commerce among ourselves, is a great mistake; and the Drapier hath
made that matter too clear to admit an answer; by shewing us what every
owner of land must be forced to do with the products of it in such a
distress. You may read his remarks at large in his second and third
letter; to which I refer you.

Before I conclude, I cannot but observe, that for several months past,
there have more papers been written in this town, such as they are, all
upon the best public principle, the love of our country, than, perhaps,
hath been known in any other nation, and in so short a time: I speak in
general, from the Drapier down to the maker of ballads; and all without
any regard to the common motives of writers: which are profit, favour,
and reputation. As to profit, I am assured by persons of credit, that
the best ballad upon Mr. Wood will not yield above a groat to the
author; and the unfortunate adventurer Harding, declares he never made
the Drapier any present, except one pair of scissors. As to favour,
whoever thinks to make his court by opposing Mr. Wood is not very deep
in politics. And as to reputation, certainly no man of worth and
learning, would employ his pen upon so transitory a subject, and in so
obscure a corner of the world, to distinguish himself as an author. So
that I look upon myself, the Drapier, and my numerous brethren, to be
all true patriots in our several degrees.

All that the public can expect for the future, is only to be sometimes
warned to beware of Mr. Wood's halfpence; and refer them for conviction
to the Drapier's reasons. For, a man of the most superior understanding,
will find it impossible to make the best use of it, while he writes in
constraint; perpetually softening, correcting, or blotting out
expressions, for fear of bringing his printer, or himself, under a
prosecution from my Lord Chief-Justice Whitshed. It calls to my
remembrance the madman in Don Quixote, who being soundly beaten by a
weaver for letting a stone (which he always carried on his shoulder)
fall upon a spaniel, apprehended that every cur he met was of the same

For these reasons, I am convinced, that what I have now written will
appear low and insipid; but if it contributes, in the least, to preserve
that union among us for opposing this fatal project of Mr. Wood, my
pains will not be altogether lost.

I sent these papers to an eminent lawyer (and yet a man of virtue and
learning into the bargain) who, after many alterations returned them
back, with assuring me, that they are perfectly innocent; without the
least mixture of treason, rebellion, sedition, malice, disaffection,
reflection, or wicked insinuation whatsoever.

If the bellman of each parish, as he goes his circuit, would cry out,
every night, "Past twelve o'clock; Beware of Wood's halfpence;" it would
probably cut off the occasion for publishing any more pamphlets;
provided that in country towns it were done upon market days. For my
own part, as soon as it shall be determined, that it is not against law,
I will begin the experiment in the liberty of St. Patrick's; and hope my
example may be followed in the whole city But if authority shall think
fit to forbid all writings, or discourses upon this subject, except such
as are in favour of Mr. Wood, I will obey as it becomes me; only when I
am in danger of bursting, I will go and whisper among the reeds, not any
reflection upon the wisdom of my countrymen; but only these few words,

I am,
With due Respect,
Your Most Obedient,
Humble Servant,

Deanery House,
Oct. 26, 1724.




This letter, hitherto styled the Drapier's fifth letter, is here printed
as the sixth, for the reasons already stated. It was published on the
14th December, 1724, at a time when the Drapier agitation had reached
its last stage. The Drapier had taught his countrymen that "to be brave
is to be wise," and he now struck the final blow that laid prostrate an
already tottering opposition.

Walpole realized that to govern Ireland from England he must have a
trustier aid, a heavier hand, and a more vigilant eye, than were
afforded in Carteret. Carteret, however, was better away in Ireland,
and, moreover, as Lord-Lieutenant, he was an ameliorating influence on
the Irish patriotic party in Dublin. But that party was now backed by a
very important popular opinion. For the present, therefore, he gave way;
but his real feelings might have been discovered by an interpretation of
his appointment of Hugh Boulter as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of
Ireland.[1] Boulter's letter to the Duke of Newcastle, written after his
arrival in Dublin towards the end of November, 1724, gave a very
unambiguous account of the state of the country towards the patent. On
the 3rd of December, he wrote, "We are at present in a very bad state,
and the people so poisoned with apprehensions of Wood's halfpence, that
I do not see there can be any hopes of justice against any person for
seditious writings, if he does but mix somewhat about Wood in them....
But all sorts here are determinedly set against Wood's halfpence, and
look upon their estates as half sunk in their value, whenever they shall
pass upon the nation."[2] On January 19th 1724-1725, the Primate wrote
again to the same effect. On the 3rd of July, he hopes that, as
parliament is about to meet, the Lord-Lieutenant "will be impowered in
his speech to speak clearly as to the business of the halfpence, and
thoroughly rid this nation of their fear on that head."[3] Boulter's
advice was taken. On the 14th August, 1725, a vacation of the patent was
issued, and when parliament met shortly after, the Lord-Lieutenant was
able, in his speech, to announce that his Majesty had put an entire end
to the patent granted Wood for coining copper halfpence and farthings.
He alluded to the surrender as a remarkable instance of royal favour and
condescension which should fill the hearts of a loyal and obedient
people with the highest sense of duty and gratitude. He doubted not the
Houses would make suitable acknowledgment of their sense of happiness
enjoyed under his Majesty's most mild and gracious government.[4]

[Footnote 1: See note on pp. 111-112.]

[Footnote 2: Boulter's letter, vol. i., p. 3. Dublin edition, 1770.]

[Footnote 3: _Ibid_., p. 29.]

[Footnote 4: Comm. Journals, vol. iii., p. 398.]

The Commons unanimously voted an address suitable to the occasion and in
harmony with the Lord-Lieutenant's suggestion. But the Lords
procrastinated in debates. It was a question whether their address
should or should not include the words "great wisdom" in addition to the
word "condescension" to express their sense of his Majesty's action.
Finally, however, the address was forthcoming, though not before some
strenuous expressions of opinion had been made by Midleton and
Archbishop King against Walpole's administration. As passed, their
Address included the debated words; as presented the Address omitted

Thus ended this famous agitation in which the people of Ireland won
their first victory over England by constitutional means. Wood was no
loser by the surrender; indeed, he was largely the gainer, since he was
given a pension of L3,000 per annum for twelve years.[5]

[Footnote 5: Coxe says for eight years.]

Now that the fight was over the people, to use Scott's words, "turned
their eyes with one consent on the man, by whose unbending fortitude,
and pre-eminent talents, this triumph was accomplished." He was hailed
joyously and blessed fervently wherever he went; the people almost
idolized him; he was their defender and their liberator. No monarch
visiting his domains could have been received with greater honour than
was Swift when he came into a town. Medals and medallions were struck in
his honour. A club was formed to the memory of the Drapier; shops and
taverns bore the sign of the Drapier's Head; children and women carried
handkerchiefs with the Drapier's portrait woven in them. All grades of
society respected him for an influence that, founded in sincerity and
guided by integrity and consummate ability, had been used patriotically.
The DEAN became Ireland's chiefest citizen; and Irishmen will ever
revere the memory of the man who was the first among them to precipitate
their national instincts into the abiding form of national power--the
reasoned opinion of a free people.

The text of this letter is based on that given by Sir Walter Scott,
collated with the original edition and with the text given in "Fraud
Detected" (1725).




To the Right Honourable the
*Lord Viscount _Molesworth_.*

* * * * *

By _M.B. Drapier_, Author of the Letter
to the _Shop-keepers_, &c.

* * * * *

They compassed me about also with Words of
Deceit, and fought against me without a Cause.

For my Love they are my Adversaries, but I give
my self unto Prayer.

And they have rewarded me Evil for Good, and
Hatred for my Love. _Psalm_ 109. _v_. 3, 4, 5.

Seek not to be Judge, being not able to take
away Iniquity, lest at any Time thou fear the
Person of the Mighty, and lay a stumbling
Block in the Way of thy Uprightness.

Offend not against the Multitude of a City, and
then thou shalt not cast thy self down among
the People.

Bind not one Sin upon another, for in One thou
shalt not be Unpunished. _Ecclus_. Ch. 7. V. 6,
7, 8.

* * * * *

_Non jam prima peto Mnesttheus, neque vincere certo:
Quanquam O! Sed superent, quibus Hoc, Neptune, dedisti._

* * * * *

Printed by _John Harding_ in
_Molesworth's Court_ in _Fishamble-street_.


MR. HARDING, When I sent you my former papers, I cannot say I intended
you either good or hurt, and yet you have happened through my means to
receive both. I pray God deliver you from any more of the latter, and
increase the former. Your trade, particularly in this kingdom, is of all
others the most unfortunately circumstantiated; For as you deal in the
most worthless kind of trash, the penny productions of pennyless
scribblers, so you often venture your liberty and sometimes your lives,
for the purchase of half-a-crown, and by your own ignorance are punished
for other men's actions.

I am afraid, you in particular think you have reason to complain of me
for your own and your wife's confinement in prison, to your great
expense, as well as hardship, and for a prosecution still impending. But
I will tell you, Mr. Harding, how that matter stands. Since the press
hath lain under so strict an inspection, those who have a mind to inform
the world are become so cautious, as to keep themselves if possible out
of the way of danger. My custom is to dictate to a 'prentice who can
write in a feigned hand, and what is written we send to your house by a
blackguard boy. But at the same time I do assure you upon my reputation,
that I never did send you anything, for which I thought you could
possibly be called to an account. And you will be my witness that I
always desired you by a letter to take some good advice before you
ventured to print, because I knew the dexterity of dealers in the law at
finding out something to fasten on where no evil is meant; I am told
indeed, that you did accordingly consult several very able persons, and
even some who afterwards appeared against you: To which I can only
answer, that you must either change your advisers, or determine to print
nothing that comes from a Drapier.

I desire you will send the enclosed letter, directed "To my Lord
Viscount Molesworth at his house at Brackdenstown near Swords;" but I
would have it sent printed for the convenience of his Lordship's
reading, because this counterfeit hand of my 'prentice is not very
legible. And if you think fit to publish it, I would have you first get
it read over carefully by some notable lawyer: I am assured you will
find enough of them who are friends to the Drapier, and will do it
without a fee, which I am afraid you can ill afford after all your
expenses. For although I have taken so much care, that I think it
impossible to find a topic out of the following papers for sending you
again to prison; Yet I will not venture to be your guarantee.

This ensuing letter contains only a short account of myself, and an
humble apology for my former pamphlets, especially the last, with little
mention of Mr. Wood or his halfpence, because I have already said enough
upon that subject, until occasion shall be given for new fears; and in
that case you may perhaps hear from me again.

I am,
Your Friend
and Servant,

From my shop in
St. Francis-street
Dec. 14. 1724.

_P.S._ For want of intercourse between you and me, which I never will
suffer, your people are apt to make very gross errors in the press,
which I desire you will provide against.



My Lord, I reflect too late on the maxim of common observers, that
"those who meddle in matters out of their calling, will have reason to
repent;" which is now verified in me: For by engaging in the trade of a
writer, I have drawn upon myself the displeasure of the government,
signified by a proclamation promising a reward of three hundred pounds
to the first faithful subject who shall be able and inclined to inform
against me. To which I may add the laudable zeal and industry of my Lord
Chief Justice [Whitshed] in his endeavours to discover so dangerous a
person. Therefore whether I repent or no, I have certainly cause to do
so, and the common observation still stands good.

[Footnote 6: Robert, Viscount Molesworth (1656-1725), born in Dublin and
educated at the University there, was a prominent adherent of the Prince
of Orange during the Revolution of 1688. In 1692 William sent him to
Denmark as envoy-extraordinary to the Court at Copenhagen; but he left
abruptly because of the offence he gave there. Retiring to Flanders,
Molesworth revenged himself by writing, "An Account of Denmark as it was
in 1692," in which he described that country as no fit place for those
who held their liberties dearly. Molesworth had been strongly imbued
with the republican teachings of Algernon Sidney, and his book affords
ample proof of the influence. Its publication aroused much indignation,
and a controversy ensued in which Swift's friend, Dr. William King, took
part. In 1695 Molesworth returned to Ireland, became a Privy Councillor
in 1697, sat in the Irish parliament in 1703-1705, and in the English
House of Commons from 1705 to 1708. In 1713 he was removed from the
Irish Privy Council on a charge of a treasonable utterance, which Steele
vindicated in "The Englishman" and "The Crisis." The accession of George
I., however, brought Molesworth into his honours again, and he was
created Baron Molesworth of Philipstown, and Viscount Molesworth of
Swords, in 1719. His work entitled "Considerations for Promoting
Agriculture," issued in 1723, was considered by Swift as "an excellent
discourse, full of most useful hints." At the time Swift addressed him
this sixth letter, Molesworth was living in retirement at Brackdenstown.

It will sometimes happen, I know not how in the course of human affairs,
that a man shall be made liable to legal animadversions, where he has
nothing to answer for, either to God or his country; and condemned at
Westminster-hall for what he will never be charged with at the Day of

After strictly examining my own heart, and consulting some divines of
great reputation, I cannot accuse myself of any "malice or wickedness
against the public;" of any "designs to sow sedition," of "reflecting on
the King and his ministers," or of endeavouring "to alienate the
affections of the people of this kingdom from those of England."[7] All
I can charge myself with, is a weak attempt to serve a nation in danger
of destruction by a most wicked and malicious projector, without waiting
until I were called to its assistance; which attempt, however it may
perhaps give me the title of _pragmatical_ and _overweening_ will never
lie a burthen upon my conscience. God knows whether I may not with all
my caution have already run myself into danger, by offering thus much in
my own vindication. For I have heard of a judge, who, upon the
criminal's appeal to the dreadful Day of Judgment, told him he had
incurred a _premunire_ for appealing to a foreign jurisdiction: And of
another in Wales, who severely checked the prisoner for offering the
same plea, taxing him with reflecting on the Court by such a comparison,
because "comparisons were odious."

[Footnote 7: The quotations are from the charges stated in the
indictment and proclamation against the writer and printer of the
previous letters. [T.S.] ]

But in order to make some excuse for being more speculative than others
of my condition, I desire your lordship's pardon, while I am doing a
very foolish thing, which is, to give you some little account of myself.

I was bred at a free school where I acquired some little knowledge in
the Latin tongue, I served my apprenticeship in London, and there set up
for myself with good success, till by the death of some friends, and

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