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  • 1898
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Amongst other severities I have met with from some critics, the cruellest for an old man is, that they will not let me be at quiet in my bed, but pursue me to my very dreams. I must not dream but when they please, nor upon long continued subjects, however visionary in their own natures; because there is a manifest moral quite through them, which to produce as a dream is improbable and unnatural. The pain I might have had from this objection, is prevented by considering they have missed another, against which I should have been at a loss to defend myself. They should have asked me, whether the dreams I publish can properly be called Lucubrations, which is the name I have given to all my papers, whether in volumes or half-sheets: so manifest a contradiction _in terminis_, that I wonder no sophister ever thought of it: But the other is a cavil. I remember when I was a boy at school, I have often dreamed out the whole passages of a day; that I rode a journey, baited, supped, went to bed, and rose the next morning: and I have known young ladies who could dream a whole contexture of adventures in one night large enough to make a novel. In youth the imagination is strong, not mixed with cares, nor tinged with those passions that most disturb and confound it, such as avarice, ambition, and many others. Now as old men are said to grow children again, so in this article of dreaming, I am returned to my childhood. My imagination is at full ease, without care, avarice, or ambition, to clog it; by which, among many others, I have this advantage of doubling the small remainder of my time, and living four-and-twenty hours in the day. However, the dream I am now going to relate, is as wild as can well be imagined, and adapted to please these refiners upon sleep, without any moral that I can discover.

“It happened that my maid left on the table in my bedchamber, one of her story books (as she calls them) which I took up, and found full of strange impertinences, fitted to her taste and condition; of poor servants that came to be ladies, and serving-men of low degree, who married kings’ daughters. Among other things, I met this sage observation, ‘That a lion would never hurt a true virgin.’ With this medley of nonsense in my fancy I went to bed, and dreamed that a friend waked me in the morning, and proposed for pastime to spend a few hours in seeing the parish lions, which he had not done since he came to town; and because they showed but once a week, he would not miss the opportunity. I said I would humour him; though, to speak the truth, I was not fond of those cruel spectacles; and if it were not so ancient a custom, founded, as I had heard, upon the wisest maxims, I should be apt to censure the inhumanity of those who introduced it.” All this will be a riddle to the waking reader, till I discover the scene my imagination had formed upon the maxim, “That a lion would never hurt a true virgin.” “I dreamed, that by a law of immemorial time, a he-lion was kept in every parish at the common charge, and in a place provided, adjoining to the churchyard: that, before any one of the fair sex was married, if she affirmed herself to be a virgin, she must on her wedding day, and in her wedding clothes, perform the ceremony of going alone into the den, and stay an hour with the lion let loose, and kept fasting four-and-twenty hours on purpose. At a proper height, above the den, were convenient galleries for the relations and friends of the young couple, and open to all spectators. No maiden was forced to offer herself to the lion; but if she refused, it was a disgrace to marry her, and every one might have liberty of calling her a whore. And methought it was as usual a diversion to see the parish lions, as with us to go to a play or an opera. And it was reckoned convenient to be near the church, either for marrying the virgin if she escaped the trial, or for burying the bones when the lion had devoured the rest, as he constantly did.”

To go on therefore with the dream: “We called first (as I remember) to see St. Dunstan’s lion, but we were told they did not shew to-day: From thence we went to that of Covent-Garden, which, to my great surprise, we found as lean as a skeleton, when I expected quite the contrary; but the keeper said it was no wonder at all, because the poor beast had not got an ounce of woman’s flesh since he came into the parish. This amazed me more than the other, and I was forming to myself a mighty veneration for the ladies in that quarter of the town, when the keeper went on, and said, He wondered the parish would be at the charge of maintaining a lion for nothing. Friend, (said I) do you call it nothing, to justify the virtue of so many ladies, or has your lion lost his distinguishing faculty? Can there be anything more for the honour of your parish, than that all the ladies married in your church were pure virgins? That is true, (said he) and the doctor knows it to his sorrow; for there has not been a couple married in our church since his worship has been amongst us. The virgins hereabouts are too wise to venture the claws of the lion; and because nobody will marry them, have all entered into vows of virginity. So that in proportion we have much the largest nunnery in the whole town. This manner of ladies entering into a vow of virginity, because they were not virgins, I easily conceived; and my dream told me, that the whole kingdom was full of nunneries, plentifully stocked from the same reason.

“We went to see another lion, where we found much company met in the gallery; the keeper told us, we should see sport enough, as he called it; and in a little time, we saw a young beautiful lady put into the den, who walked up towards the lion with all imaginable security in her countenance, and looked smiling upon her lover and friends in the gallery; which I thought nothing extraordinary, because it was never known that any lion had been mistaken. But, however, we were all disappointed, for the lion lifted up his right paw, which was the fatal sign, and advancing forward, seized her by the arm, and began to tear it: The poor lady gave a terrible shriek, and cried out, ‘The lion is just, I am no true virgin! Oh! Sappho, Sappho.’ She could say no more, for the lion gave her the _coup de grace_, by a squeeze in the throat, and she expired at his feet. The keeper dragged away her body to feed the animal when the company was gone, for the parish-lions never used to eat in public. After a little pause, another lady came on towards the lion in the same manner as the former; we observed the beast smell her with great diligence, he scratched both her hands with lifting them to his nose, and clapping a claw on her bosom, drew blood; however he let her go, and at the same time turned from her with a sort of contempt, at which she was not a little mortified, and retired with some confusion to her friends in the gallery. Methought the whole company immediately understood the meaning of this, that the easiness of the lady had suffered her to admit certain imprudent and dangerous familiarities, bordering too much upon what is criminal; neither was it sure whether the lover then present had not some sharers with him in those freedoms, of which a lady can never be too sparing.

“This happened to be an extraordinary day, for a third lady came into the den, laughing loud, playing with her fan, tossing her head, and smiling round on the young fellows in the gallery. However, the lion leaped on her with great fury, and we gave her for gone; but on a sudden he let go his hold, turned from her as if he were nauseated, then gave her a lash with his tail; after which she returned to the gallery, not the least out of countenance: and this, it seems, was the usual treatment of coquettes.

“I thought we had now seen enough, but my friend would needs have us go and visit one or two lions in the city. We called at two or three dens where they happened not to shew, but we generally found half a score young girls, between eight and eleven years old, playing with each lion, sitting on his back, and putting their hands into his mouth; some of them would now and then get a scratch; but we always discovered, upon examining, that they had been hoydening with the young apprentices. One of them was calling to a pretty girl of about twelve years, that stood by us in the gallery, to come down to the lion, and upon her refusal, said, ‘Ah! Miss Betty, we could never get you to come near the lion, since you played at hoop and hide with my brother in the garret.’

“We followed a couple, with the wedding-folks, going to the church of St. Mary-Axe. The lady, though well stricken in years, extremely crooked and deformed, was dressed out beyond the gaiety of fifteen; having jumbled together, as I imagined, all the tawdry remains of aunts, godmothers, and grandmothers, for some generations past: One of the neighbours whispered me, that she was an old maid, and had the clearest reputation of any in the parish. There is nothing strange in that, thought I, but was much surprised, when I observed afterwards that she went towards the lion with distrust and concern. The beast was lying down, but upon sight of her, snuffed up his nose two or three times, and then giving the sign of death, proceeded instantly to execution. In the midst of her agonies, she was heard to name the words, ‘Italy’ and ‘artifices,’ with the utmost horror, and several repeated execrations: and at last concluded, ‘Fool that I was, to put so much confidence in the toughness of my skin.’

“The keeper immediately set all in order again for another customer, which happened to be a famous prude, whom her parents after long threatenings, and much persuasion, had with the extremest difficulty prevailed on to accept a young handsome goldsmith, that might have pretended to five times her fortune. The fathers and mothers in the neighbourhood used to quote her for an example to their daughters. Her elbows were rivetted to her sides, and her whole person so ordered as to inform everybody that she was afraid they should touch her. She only dreaded to approach the lion, because it was a he one, and abhorred to think an animal of that sex should presume to breathe on her. The sight of a man at twenty yards distance made her draw back her head. She always sat upon the farther corner of the chair, though there were six chairs between her and her lover, and with the door wide open, and her little sister in the room. She was never saluted but at the tip of her ear, and her father had much ado to make her dine without her gloves, when there was a man at table. She entered the den with some fear, which we took to proceed from the height of her modesty, offended at the sight of so many men in the gallery. The lion beholding her at a distance, immediately gave the deadly sign; at which the poor creature (methinks I see her still) miscarried in a fright before us all. The lion seemed to be surprised as much as we, and gave her time to make her confession, ‘That she was four months gone, by the foreman of her father’s shop, that this was her third big belly;’ and when her friends asked, why she would venture the trial? she said, ‘Her nurse assured her, that a lion would never hurt a woman with child.'” Upon this I immediately waked, and could not help wishing, that the deputy-censors of my late institution were endued with the same instinct as these parish-lions were.

[Footnote 1:
“Manditque, trahitque
Molle pecus.”
_Aeneid_, ix. 340-341.
“Devours and tears the peaceful flock.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: _I.e._ 1710-11. [T.S.]]


_Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes,
Emollit mores._ OVID.[2]


_From my own Apartment in Channel-Row, March 5_.

Those inferior duties of life which the French call _les petites morales,_ or the smaller morals, are with us distinguished by the name of good manners,[4] or breeding. This I look upon, in the general notion of it, to be a sort of artificial good sense, adapted to the meanest capacities, and introduced to make mankind easy in their commerce with each other. Low and little understandings, without some rules of this kind, would be perpetually wandering into a thousand indecencies and irregularities in behaviour, and in their ordinary conversation fall into the same boisterous familiarities that one observes amongst them, when a debauch has quite taken away the use of their reason. In other instances, it is odd to consider, that for want of common discretion the very end of good breeding is wholly perverted, and civility, intended to make us easy, is employed in laying chains and fetters upon us, in debarring us of our wishes, and in crossing our most reasonable desires and inclinations. This abuse reigns chiefly in the country, as I found to my vexation, when I was last there, in a visit I made to a neighbour about two miles from my cousin. As soon as I entered the parlour, they forced me into the great chair that stood close by a huge fire, and kept me there by force till I was almost stifled. Then a boy came in great hurry to pull off my boots, which I in vain opposed, urging that I must return soon after dinner. In the mean time the good lady whispered her eldest daughter, and slipped a key into her hand. She returned instantly with a beer glass half full of _aqua mirabilis_ and syrup of gillyflowers. I took as much as I had a mind for; but Madam vowed I should drink it off, (for she was sure it would do me good after coming out of the cold air) and I was forced to obey, which absolutely took away my stomach. When dinner came in, I had a mind to sit at a distance from the fire; but they told me, it was as much as my life was worth, and set me with my back just against it. Though my appetite was quite gone, I resolved to force down as much as I could, and desired the leg of a pullet. “Indeed, Mr. Bickerstaff,” says the lady, “you must eat a wing to oblige me,” and so put a couple upon my plate. I was persecuted at this rate during the whole meal. As often as I called for small beer, the master tipped the wink, and the servant brought me a brimmer of October. Some time after dinner, I ordered my cousin’s man who came with me to get ready the horses; but it was resolved I should not stir that night; and when I seemed pretty much bent upon going, they ordered the stable door to be locked, and the children hid away my cloak and boots. The next question was, what I would have for supper? I said I never eat anything at night, but was at last in my own defence obliged to name the first thing that came into my head. After three hours spent chiefly in apology for my entertainment, insinuating to me, “That this was the worst time of the year for provisions, that they were at a great distance from any market, that they were afraid I should be starved, and they knew they kept me to my loss,” the lady went, and left me to her husband (for they took special care I should never be alone.) As soon as her back was turned, the little misses ran backwards and forwards every moment; and constantly as they came in or went out, made a curtsy directly at me, which in good manners I was forced to return with a bow, and “Your humble servant pretty Miss.” Exactly at eight the mother came up, and discovered by the redness of her face, that supper was not far off. It was twice as large as the dinner, and my persecution doubled in proportion. I desired at my usual hour to go to my repose, and was conducted to my chamber by the gentleman, his lady, and the whole train of children. They importuned me to drink something before I went to bed, and upon my refusing, at last left a bottle of stingo, as they called it, for fear I should wake and be thirsty in the night. I was forced in the morning to rise and dress myself in the dark, because they would not suffer my kinsman’s servant to disturb me at the hour I had desired to be called. I was now resolved to break through all measures to get away, and after sitting down to a monstrous breakfast of cold beef, mutton, neats’-tongues, venison-pasty, and stale beer, took leave of the family; but the gentleman would needs see me part of my way, and carry me a short cut through his own grounds, which he told me would save half a mile’s riding. This last piece of civility had like to have cost me dear, being once or twice in danger of my neck, by leaping over his ditches, and at last forced to alight in the dirt, when my horse, having slipped his bridle, ran away, and took us up more than an hour to recover him again.

It is evident that none of the absurdities I met with in this visit proceeded from an ill intention, but from a wrong judgment of complaisance, and a misapplication of the rules of it. I cannot so easily excuse the more refined critics upon behaviour, who having professed no other study, are yet infinitely defective in the most material parts of it. Ned Fashion has been bred all his life about Court, and understands to a tittle all the punctilios of a drawing-room. He visits most of the fine women near St. James’s, and upon all occasions says the civilest and softest things to them of any man breathing. To Mr. Isaac[5] he owes an easy slide in his bow, and a graceful manner of coming into a room. But in some other cases he is very far from being a well-bred person: He laughs at men of far superior understanding to his own, for not being as well dressed as himself, despises all his acquaintance that are not quality, and in public places has on that account often avoided taking notice of some of the best speakers in the House of Commons. He rails strenuously at both Universities before the members of either, and never is heard to swear an oath, or break in upon morality or religion, but in the company of divines. On the other hand, a man of right sense has all the essentials of good breeding, though he may be wanting in the forms of it. Horatio has spent most of his time at Oxford. He has a great deal of learning, an agreeable wit, and as much modesty as serves to adorn without concealing his other good qualities. In that retired way of living, he seems to have formed a notion of human nature, as he has found it described in the writings of the greatest men, not as he is like to meet with it in the common course of life. Hence it is, that he gives no offence, that he converses with great deference, candour, and humanity. His bow, I must confess, is somewhat awkward; but then he has an extensive, universal, and unaffected knowledge, which makes some amends for it. He would make no extraordinary figure at a ball; but I can assure the ladies in his behalf, and for their own consolation, that he has writ better verses on the sex than any man now living, and is preparing such a poem for the press as will transmit their praises and his own to many generations.

[Footnote 1: In the reprint of “The Tatler,” volume v., this number was called No. 20. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: _Epist. ex Ponto_, II. ix. 47-48.

“An understanding in the liberal arts Softens men’s manners.”

[Footnote 3: _I.e._ 1710-11. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: Compare Swift’s “Treatise on Good Manners and Good Breeding.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: A famous dancing-master in those days. [FAULKNER.] He died in 1740. [T.S.]]


_O Lycida, vivi pervenimus, advena nostri, (Quod numquam veriti sumus) ut possessor agelli Diceret, Haec mea sunt, veteres migrate coloni._ VIRG.[2]


_From my own Apartment in Channel-Row, March 14._

The dignity and distinction of men of wit is seldom enough considered, either by themselves or others; their own behaviour, and the usage they meet with, being generally very much of a piece. I have at this time in my hands an alphabetical list of the _beaux esprits_ about this town, four or five of whom have made the proper use of their genius, by gaining the esteem of the best and greatest men, and by turning it to their own advantage in some establishment of their fortunes, however unequal to their merit; others satisfying themselves with the honour of having access to great tables, and of being subject to the call of every man of quality, who upon occasion wants one to say witty things for the diversion of the company. This treatment never moves my indignation so much, as when it is practised by a person, who though he owes his own rise purely to the reputation of his parts, yet appears to be as much ashamed of it, as a rich city knight to be denominated from the trade he was first apprenticed to, and affects the air of a man born to his titles, and consequently above the character of a wit, or a scholar. If those who possess great endowments of the mind would set a just value upon themselves, they would think no man’s acquaintance whatsoever a condescension, nor accept it from the greatest upon unworthy or ignominious terms. I know a certain lord that has often invited a set of people, and proposed for their diversion a buffoon player, and an eminent poet, to be of the party; and which was yet worse, thought them both sufficiently recompensed by the dinner, and the honour of his company. This kind of insolence is risen to such a height, that I my self was the other day sent to by a man with a title, whom I had never seen, desiring the favour that I would dine with him and half a dozen of his select friends. I found afterwards, the footman had told my maid below stairs, that my lord having a mind to be merry, had resolved right or wrong to send for honest Isaac. I was sufficiently provoked with the message; however I gave the fellow no other answer, than that “I believed he had mistaken the person, for I did not remember that his lord had ever been introduced to me.” I have reason to apprehend that this abuse hath been owing rather to a meanness of spirit in men of parts, than to the natural pride or ignorance of their patrons. Young students coming up to town from the places of their education, are dazzled with the grandeur they everywhere meet, and making too much haste to distinguish their parts, instead of waiting to be desired and caressed, are ready to pay their court at any rate to a great man, whose name they have seen in a public paper, or the frontispiece of a dedication. It has not always been thus: wit in polite ages has ever begot either esteem or fear. The hopes of being celebrated, or the dread of being stigmatized, procured an universal respect and awe for the persons of such as were allowed to have the power of distributing fame or infamy where they pleased. Aretine had all the princes of Europe his tributaries, and when any of them had committed a folly that laid them open to his censure, they were forced by some present extraordinary to compound for his silence; of which there is a famous instance on record. When Charles the Fifth had miscarried in his African expedition, which was looked upon as the weakest undertaking of that great Emperor, he sent Aretine[4] a gold chain, who made some difficulty of accepting it, saying, “It was too small a present in all reason for so great a folly.” For my own part, in this point I differ from him, and never could be prevailed upon, by any valuable consideration to conceal a fault or a folly since I first took the censorship upon me.

Having long considered with my self the ill application that some make of their talents, I have this day erected a Court of Alienation, by the statutes of which the next a kin is empowered to _beg_ the parts and understanding of any such person as can be proved, either by embezzling, making a wrong use, or no use at all of the said parts and understanding, not to know the true value thereof: who shall immediately be put out of possession, and disqualified for ever; the said kinsman giving sufficient security that he will employ them as the court shall direct. I have set down under certain heads the several ways by which men prostitute and abuse their parts, and from thence have framed a table of rules, whereby the plaintiff may be informed when he has a good title to eject the defendant. I may in a following paper give the world some account of the proceedings of this court. I have already got two able critics for my assessors upon the bench, who, though they have always exercised their pens in taking off from the wit of others, have never pretended to challenge any themselves, and consequently are in no danger of being engaged in making claims, or of having any suits commence against them. Every writer shall be tried by his peers, throughly versed in that point wherein he pretends to excel; for which reason the jury can never consist of above half the ordinary number. I shall in general be very tender how I put any person out of his wits; but as the management of such possessions is of great consequence to the world, I shall hold my self obliged to vest the right in such hands as will answer the great purposes they were intended for, and leave the former proprietors to seek their fortune in some other way.

[Footnote 1: Called No. 24 in the reprint of “The Tatler,” vol. v. [T. S.]]

[Footnote 2: _Eclogues_, ix. 2-4.

“O Lycidas,
We never thought, yet have we lived to see A stranger seize our farm, and say, ‘Tis mine, Begone, ye old inhabitants.”–C.R. KENNEDY. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: _I.e._ 1710-11. Under date March 14th Swift writes to Stella: “Little Harrison the ‘Tatler’ came to me, and begged me to dictate a paper to him, which I was forced in charity to do.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: Pietro Aretino (1492-1557), called “the scourge of Princes.” His prose is fiercely satirical, and his poetry as strongly obscene. His works were condemned for their indecency and impiety. He received numerous and valuable gifts from those who were afraid of his criticisms. His sonnets, written to accompany engravings by Marc Antonio, from designs by Giulio Romano (1524), largely contributed to his reputation for obscenity. [T.S.]]


_Morte carent animae; semperque, priore relicta Sede, novis domibus habitant vivuntque receptae. Ipse ego (nam memini) Trojani tempore belli Panthoides Euphorbus eram_–


_From my own Apartment, March 22._

My other correspondents will excuse me if I give the precedency to a lady, whose letter, amongst many more, is just come to hand.


“I burn with impatience to know what and who you are. The curiosity of my whole sex is fallen upon me, and has kept me waking these three nights. I have dreamed often of you within this fortnight, and every time you appeared in a different form. As you value my repose, tell me in which of them I am to be

“Your admirer,


It is natural for a man who receives a favour of this kind from an unknown fair, to frame immediately some idea of her person, which being suited to the opinion we have of our own merit, is commonly as beautiful and perfect as the most lavish imagination can furnish out. Strongly possessed with these notions, I have read over Sylvia’s billet; and notwithstanding the reserve I have had upon this matter, am resolved to go a much greater length, than I yet ever did, in making my self known to the world, and, in particular, to my charming correspondent. In order to it I must premise, that the person produced as mine in the play-house last winter, did in nowise appertain to me. It was such a one however as agreed well with the impression my writings had made, and served the purpose I intended it for; which was to continue the awe and reverence due to the character I was vested with, and, at the same time, to let my enemies see how much I was the delight and favourite of this town. This innocent imposture, which I have all along taken care to carry on, as it then was of some use, has since been of singular service to me, and by being mentioned in one of my papers, effectually recovered my egoity out of the hands of some gentlemen who endeavoured to wrest it from me. This is saying, in short, what I am not: what I am, and have been for many years, is next to be explained. Here it will not be improper to remind Sylvia, that there was formerly such a philosopher as Pythagoras, who, amongst other doctrines, taught the transmigration of souls, which, if she sincerely believes, she will not be much startled at the following relation.

I will not trouble her, nor my other readers, with the particulars of all the lives I have successively passed through since my first entrance into mortal being, which is now many centuries ago. It is enough that I have in every one of them opposed myself with the utmost resolution to the follies and vices of the several ages I have been acquainted with, that I have often rallied the world into good manners, and kept the greatest princes in awe of my satire. There is one circumstance which I shall not omit, though it may seem to reflect on my character, I mean that infinite love of change which has ever appeared in the disposal of my existence. Since the days of the Emperor Trajan, I have not been confined to the same person for twenty years together; but have passed from one abode to another, much quicker than the Pythagorean system generally allows. By this means, I have seldom had a body to myself, but have lodged up and down wherever I found a genius suitable to my own. In this manner I continued, some time with the top wit of France, at another with that of Italy, who had a statue erected to his memory in Rome. Towards the end of the 17th century, I set out for England; but the gentleman I came over in dying as soon as he got to shore, I was obliged to look out again for a new habitation. It was not long before I met with one to my mind, for having mixed myself invisibly with the _literati_ of this kingdom, I found it was unanimously agreed amongst them, That nobody was endowed with greater talents than Hiereus;[4] or, consequently, would be better pleased with my company. I slipped down his throat one night as he was fast asleep, and the next morning, as soon as he awaked, he fell to writing a treatise that was received with great applause, though he had the modesty not to set his name to that nor to any other of our productions. Some time after, he published a paper of predictions, which were translated into several languages, and alarmed some of the greatest princes in Europe. To these he prefixed the name of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq; which I have been extremely fond of ever since, and have taken care that most of the writings I have been concerned in should be distinguished by it; though I must observe, that there have been many counterfeits imposed upon the public by this means. This extraordinary man being called out of the kingdom by affairs of his own, I resolved, however, to continue somewhat longer in a country where my works had been so well received, and accordingly bestowed myself with Hilario.[5] His natural wit, his lively turn of humour, and great penetration into human nature, easily determined me to this choice, the effects of which were soon after produced in this paper, called “The Tatler.” I know not how it happened, but in less than two years’ time Hilario grew weary of my company, and gave me warning to be gone. In the height of my resentment, I cast my eyes on a young fellow,[6] of no extraordinary qualifications, whom, for that very reason, I had the more pride in taking under my direction, and enabling him, by some means or other, to carry on the work I was before engaged in. Lest he should grow too vain upon this encouragement, I to this day keep him under due mortification. I seldom reside with him when any of his friends are at leisure to receive me, by whose hands, however, he is duly supplied. As I have passed through many scenes of life, and a long series of years, I choose to be considered in the character of an old fellow, and take care that those under my influence should speak consonantly to it. This account, I presume, will give no small consolation to Sylvia, who may rest assured, that Isaac Bickerstaff is to be seen in more forms than she dreamt of; out of which variety she may choose what is most agreeable to her fancy. On Tuesdays, he is sometimes a black, proper, young gentleman, with a mole on his left cheek. On Thursdays, a decent well-looking man, of a middle stature, long flaxen hair, and a florid complexion. On Saturdays, he is somewhat of the shortest, and may be known from others of that size by talking in a low voice, and passing through the streets without much precipitation.

[Footnote 1: No. 28 in the reprint of “The Tatler,” vol. v. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: _Metamorphoses_, xv. 158-161.

“Nor dies the spirit, but new life repeats In other forms, and only changes seats. Ev’n I, who these mysterious truths declare, Was once Euphorbus in the Trojan war.”


[Footnote 3: I.e. 1710-11. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: Swift. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: Steele. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 6: Harrison. [T.S.]]

* * * * * *



The new ministry, which came into power on the fall of the able administration of Godolphin in 1710, was the famous Oxford ministry headed by Harley and St. John. The new leaders were well aware that they would have to use all the means in their power not only to justify themselves to the English nation, but successfully to defeat the strong opposition which had such a man as Marlborough for its moving spirit. The address to Queen Anne from the Commons, showing undoubted evidences of St. John’s hand, was the first employment of a means by which this ministry hoped to appeal to the public. But this remarkable literary effort had already been preceded by the establishment of a weekly political paper, entitled “The Examiner,” a few weeks before Godolphin’s fall. During the months of August, September, and October, in which were issued twelve papers, Dr. Freind, Atterbury, Prior and St. John, were the men employed to arouse the nation to a necessary condition of discontent. Now that the ministry was in power, the necessity for continuing these public appeals was felt to be all the stronger; and Harley’s shrewdness in selecting Swift to take this important matter in hand shows his ability as a party leader.

The first number of “The Examiner” was issued on August 3rd, 1710, and the paper was continued until July 26th, 1711. On December 6th, 1711, William Oldisworth revived it, and issued it weekly until December 18th, 1712, after which date it was published twice a week until July 26th, 1714, though it occasionally happened that only one was issued in a week. The last number was No. 19 of the sixth volume, so that Oldisworth edited vols. ii., iii., iv., v., and what was published of vol. vi. The death of the Queen put an end to the publication.

Swift was called to his work about the middle of October of 1710, and his first paper appeared in No. 14. From that number to No. 45, Swift continued with unabated zeal and with masterly effect to carry out the policy of his friends. He also wrote a part of No. 46, and Nos. 16 and 21 of the third volume, which appeared on January 16th and February 2nd, 1712-13. These two last numbers are not included in the present volume; since they have been printed in the fifth volume of this edition of Swift’s works with the titles “An Appendix to the Conduct of the Allies” and “The Vindication of Erasmus Lewis.”

The appearance of “The Examiner” had brought an opposition paper into the field, entitled “The Whig Examiner,” a periodical that ably maintained its party’s stand in the face of St. John’s attacks. But this paper only lasted for five weeks, and when Swift took charge of the Tory organ, the position of “The Examiner” was entirely altered. As Mr. Churton Collins ably remarks: “It became a voice of power in every town and in every hamlet throughout England. It was an appeal made, not to the political cliques of the metropolis, but to the whole kingdom; and to the whole kingdom it spoke…. No one who will take the trouble to glance at Swift’s contributions to ‘The Examiner’ will be surprised at their effect. They are masterpieces of polemical skill. Every sentence–every word–comes home. Their logic, adapted to the meanest capacity, smites like a hammer. Their statements, often a tissue of mere sophistry and assumption, appear so plausible, that it is difficult even for the cool historian to avoid being carried away by them. At a time when party spirit was running high, and few men stopped to weigh evidence, they must have been irresistible.” (“Jonathan Swift,” 1893, p. 81.)

In his “Memoirs relating to that Change” (vol. v., p 384), Swift gives the following explanation of the foundation of this paper. “Upon the rise of this ministry the principal persons in power thought it necessary that some weekly paper should be published, with just reflections upon former proceedings, and defending the present measures of Her Majesty. This was begun about the time of the Lord Godolphin’s removal, under the name of ‘The Examiner.’ … The determination was that I should continue it, which I did accordingly for about eight months.”

Gay remarks in his pamphlet, “The Present State of Wit, in a Letter to a Friend in the Country,” 1711: “‘The Examiner’ is a paper which all men, who speak without prejudice, allow to be well writ. Though his subject will admit of no great variety, he is continually placing it on so many different lights, and endeavouring to inculcate the same thing by so many beautiful changes of expressions, that men who are concerned in no party, may read him with pleasure. His way of assuming the question in debate is extremely artful; and his ‘Letter to Crassus’ [No. 28] is, I think, a masterpiece…. I presume I need not tell you that ‘The Examiner’ carries much the more sail as ’tis supposed to be writ by the direction, and under the eye of some great persons who sit at the helm of affairs, and is consequently looked on as a sort of public notice which way they are steering us. The reputed author is Dr. S[wif]t, with the assistance sometimes of Dr. Att[erbur]y and Mr. P[rio]r.” With the fall of Bolingbroke on the death of Queen Anne and the accession of George I., “The Examiner” collapsed. [T.S.]


NUMB. 14.[1]


–_Longa est injuria, longae
Ambages, sed summa sequar fastigia rerum_.[2]

It is a practice I have generally followed, to converse in equal freedom with the deserving men of both parties; and it was never without some contempt, that I have observed persons wholly out of employment, affect to do otherwise: I doubted whether any man could owe so much to the side he was of, though he were retained by it; but without some great point of interest, either in possession or prospect, I thought it was the mark of a low and narrow spirit.

It is hard, that, for some weeks past, I have been forced in my own defence, to follow a proceeding that I have so much condemned in others. But several of my acquaintance among the declining party, are grown so insufferably peevish and splenetic, profess such violent apprehensions for the public, and represent the state of things in such formidable ideas, that I find myself disposed to share in their afflictions, though I know them to be groundless and imaginary, or, which is worse, purely affected. To offer them comfort one by one, would be not only an endless, but a disobliging task. Some of them, I am convinced would be less melancholy, if there were more occasion. I shall therefore, instead of hearkening to further complaints, employ some part of this paper for the future, in letting such men see, that their natural or acquired fears are ill-grounded, and their artificial ones as ill-intended. That all our present inconveniencies,[3] are the consequence of the very counsels they so much admire, which would still have increased, if those had continued: and that neither our constitution in Church or State, could probably have been long preserved, without such methods as have been lately taken.

The late revolutions at court, have given room to some specious objections, which I have heard repeated by well-meaning men, just as they had taken them up on the credit of others, who have worse designs. They wonder the Queen would choose to change her ministry at this juncture,[4] and thereby give uneasiness to a general who has been so long successful abroad; and might think himself injured, if the entire ministry were not of his own nomination. That there were few complaints of any consequence against the late men in power, and none at all in Parliament; which on the contrary, passed votes in favour of the chief minister. That if her Majesty had a mind to introduce the other party, it would have been more seasonable after a peace, which now we have made desperate, by spiriting the French, who rejoice at these changes, and by the fall of our credit, which unqualifies us for continuing the war. That the Parliament so untimely dissolved,[5] had been diligent in their supplies, and dutiful in their behaviour. That one consequence of these changes appears already in the fall of the stocks: that we may soon expect more and worse: and lastly, that all this naturally tends to break the settlement of the Crown, and call over the Pretender.

These and the like notions are plentifully scattered abroad, by the malice of a ruined party, to render the Queen and her administration odious, and to inflame the nation. And these are what, upon occasion, I shall endeavour to overthrow, by discovering the falsehood and absurdity of them.

It is a great unhappiness, when in a government constituted like ours, it should be so brought about, that the continuance of a war, must be for the interest of vast numbers (peaceable as well as military) who would otherwise have been as unknown as their original. I think our present condition of affairs, is admirably described by two verses in Lucan,

_Hinc usura vorax, avidumque in tempore foenus, Hinc concussa fides, et multis utile bellum_,[6]

which without any great force upon the words, may be thus translated,

“Hence are derived those exorbitant interests and annuities; hence those large discounts for advances and prompt payment; hence public credit is shaken, and hence great numbers find their profit in prolonging the war.”

It is odd, that among a free trading people, as we take ourselves to be, there should so many be found to close in with those counsels, who have been ever averse from all overtures towards a peace. But yet there is no great mystery in the matter. Let any man observe the equipages in this town; he shall find the greater number of those who make a figure, to be a species of men quite different from any that were ever known before the Revolution, consisting either of generals and colonels, or of such whose whole fortunes lie in funds and stocks: so that power, which according to the old maxim, was used to follow land, is now gone over to money; and the country gentleman is in the condition of a young heir, out of whose estate a scrivener receives half the rents for interest, and hath a mortgage on the whole, and is therefore always ready to feed his vices and extravagancies while there is any thing left. So that if the war continues some years longer, a landed man will be little better than a farmer at a rack rent, to the army, and to the public funds.

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

Most of the nobility and gentry who invited over the Prince of Orange, or attended him in his expedition, were true lovers of their country and its constitution, in Church and State; and were brought to yield to those breaches in the succession of the crown, out of a regard to the necessity of the kingdom, and the safety of the people, which did, and could only, make them lawful; but without intention of drawing such a practice into precedent, or making it a standing measure by which to proceed in all times to come; and therefore we find their counsels ever tended to keep things as much as possible in the old course. But soon after, an under set of men, who had nothing to lose, and had neither borne the burthen nor heat of the day, found means to whisper in the king’s ear, that the principles of loyalty in the Church of England, were wholly inconsistent with the Revolution.[7] Hence began the early practice of caressing the dissenters, reviling the universities, as maintainers of arbitrary power, and reproaching the clergy with the doctrines of divine-right, passive obedience and non-resistance.[8] At the same time, in order to fasten wealthy people to the new government, they proposed those pernicious expedients of borrowing money by vast _premiums_, and at exorbitant interest: a practice as old as Eumenes,[9] one of Alexander’s captains, who setting up for himself after the death of his master, persuaded his principal officers to lend him great sums, after which they were forced to follow him for their own security.

This introduced a number of new dexterous men into business and credit: It was argued, that the war could not last above two or three campaigns, and that it was easier for the subject to raise a fund for paying interest, than to tax them annually to the full expense of the war. Several persons who had small or encumbered estates, sold them, and turned their money into those funds to great advantage: merchants, as well as other moneyed men, finding trade was dangerous, pursued the same method: But the war continuing, and growing more expensive, taxes were increased, and funds multiplied every year, till they have arrived at the monstrous height we now behold them. And that which was at first a corruption, is at last grown necessary, and what every good subject must now fall in with, though he may be allowed to wish it might soon have an end; because it is with a kingdom, as with a private fortune, where every new incumbrance adds a double weight. By this means the wealth of the nation, that used to be reckoned by the value of land, is now computed by the rise and fall of stocks: and although the foundation of credit be still the same, and upon a bottom that can never be shaken; and though all interest be duly paid by the public, yet through the contrivance and cunning of stock-jobbers, there has been brought in such a complication of knavery and cozenage, such a mystery of iniquity, and such an unintelligible jargon of terms to involve it in, as were never known in any other age or country of the world. I have heard it affirmed by persons skilled in these calculations, that if the funds appropriated to the payment of interest and annuities, were added to the yearly taxes, and the four-shilling aid[10] strictly exacted in all counties of the kingdom, it would very near, if not fully, supply the occasions of the war, at least such a part, as in the opinion of very able persons, had been at that time prudence not to exceed. For I make it a question, whether any wise prince or state, in the continuance of a war, which was not purely defensive, or immediately at his own door, did ever propose that his expense should perpetually exceed what he was able to impose annually upon his subjects? Neither if the war lasts many years longer, do I see how the next generation will be able to begin another, which in the course of human affairs, and according to the various interests and ambition of princes, may be as necessary for them as it has been for us. And had our fathers left us as deeply involved as we are like to leave our children, I appeal to any man, what sort of figure we should have been able to make these twenty years past. Besides, neither our enemies, nor allies, are upon the same foot with us in this particular. France and Holland, our nearest neighbours, and the farthest engaged, will much sooner recover themselves after a war. The first, by the absolute power of the prince who being master of the lives and fortunes of his subjects, will quickly find expedients to pay his debts: and so will the other, by their prudent administration, the greatness of their trade, their wonderful parsimony, the willingness of their people to undergo all kind of taxes, and their justice in applotting as well as collecting them. But above all, we are to consider that France and Holland fight in the continent, either upon, or near their own territories, and the greatest part of the money circulates among themselves; whereas ours crosses the sea either to Flanders, Spain, or Portugal, and every penny of it, whether in specie or returns, is so much lost to the nation for ever.

Upon these considerations alone, it was the most prudent course imaginable in the Queen, to lay hold of the disposition of the people for changing the Parliament and ministry at this juncture, and extricating herself, as soon as possible, out of the pupillage of those who found their accounts only in perpetuating the war. Neither have we the least reason to doubt, but the ensuing Parliament will assist her Majesty with the utmost vigour,[11] till her enemies _again_ be brought to sue for peace, and _again_ offer such terms as will make it both honourable and lasting; only with this difference, that the Ministry perhaps will not _again_ refuse them.[12]

_Audiet pugnas vitio parentum
Rara Juventus_.[13]

[Footnote 1: No. 13 in the reprint. The No. 13 (from Thursday, October 19, to Thursday, October 26, 1710) of the original is omitted from the reprint, and the Nos. from 14 to 48 are slipped back one. No. 49 also is omitted, and Nos. 50 to 52 slipped back two. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: Virgil, “Aeneid,” i. 341-2.

“Her whole tale of wrong
‘Twere tedious to relate. But I will give The leading facts.”–R. KENNEDY.

[Footnote 3: “The Observator” of Nov. 8th, commenting on this statement, remarks: “All the inconveniences we labour under at present, are so far from being the consequence of the counsels of the late ministry, that they are visibly the consequence of those of the ‘Examiner’s’ party, who brought the nation to the brink of Popery and slavery, from which they were delivered by the Revolution; and are pursuing the same measures again,” etc. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: See “Memoirs relating to that Change” (vol. v., pp. 359-90). The Queen’s action in dismissing her ministers and dissolving Parliament in September was, even to Swift himself, a matter for wonder: “I never remember,” he writes to Stella (Sept. 20th, 1710), “such bold steps taken by a Court.” And Tindal, commenting on the change, says: “So sudden and so entire a change in the ministry is scarce to be found in our history, especially where men of great abilities had served with such zeal and success.” (“Hist. of England,” iv. 192.) [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: Parliament was dissolved by proclamation on September 21st. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 6: “Pharsalia,” i. 181-2.

“Hence debt unthrifty, careless to repay, And usury still watching for its day:
Hence perjuries in every wrangling court; And war, the needy bankrupt’s last resort,” N. ROWE.

Lucan wrote “_et_ concussa,” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: Commenting on this passage, “The Observator” of Nov. 8th remarked: “One would take the author to be some very great man, since he speaks so contemptuously of both Houses of Parliament; for they actually found those doctrines, as then preached up, to be inconsistent with the Revolution, and declared it loudly to the world without whispering.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: Writing to the Earl of Peterborough (Feb. 1710/1), Swift refers to “a pamphlet come out, called ‘A Letter to Jacob Banks,’ showing that the liberty of Sweden was destroyed by the principle of passive obedience.” The pamphlet was written by one W. Benson, and bore the title, “A Letter to Sir J—- B—-, By Birth a S—-,… Concerning the late Minehead doctrine,” etc., 1711. “This dispute,” says Swift to Peterborough, “would soon be ended, if the dunces who write on each side, would plainly tell us what the object of this passive obedience is in our country.” (Scott, vol. xv., p. 423.)

See also, on this matter, “Examiner,” Nos. 34 and 40 _post_. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 9: Eumenes of Cardia was secretary to Alexander the Great, and distinguished himself both as a statesman and general. He was killed B.C. 316. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 10: The land tax at the time was four shillings in the pound. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 11: In her speech to Parliament on Nov. 27th, 1710, Anne said: “The carrying on the war in all its parts, but particularly in Spain, with the utmost vigour, is the likeliest means, with God’s blessing, to procure a safe and honourable peace for us and all our allies, whose support and interest I have truly at heart” (“Journals of House of Lords,” xix, 166).]

[Footnote 12: This is a dig at the Duke of Marlborough, for what the Tories thought an unnecessarily harsh insistence on the inclusion of a clause in the preliminaries of the Gertruydenberg Treaty, which it was thought he must have known would be rejected by Louis. They suspected Marlborough did this in order to keep the war going, and so permit himself further opportunities for enriching himself. The treaty for peace, carried on at Gertruydenberg in 1710, was discussed by Marlborough and Townshend acting for England, the Marquis de Torcy acting for France, and Buys and Vanderdussen for the States. Several conferences took place, and preliminary articles were even signed, but the Allies demanded a security for the delivering of Spain. This Louis XIV. refused to do, and the conference broke up in July, 1710. See Swift’s “Conduct of the Allies” (vol. v., pp. 55-123). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 13: Horace, “Odes,” I. ii. 23, 24. “Our youth will hear, astonished at our crimes, That Roman armies Romans slew;
Our youth, alas! will then be few.”–A. MAYNWARING. [T.S.]]

NUMB. 15.[1]


_E quibis hi vacuas implent sermonibus aures, Hi narrata ferunt alio: mensuraque ficti Crescit, et auditis aliquid novus adjicit autor, Illic Credulitas, illic temerarius Error, Vanaque Laetitia est, consternatique Timores, Seditioque recens, dubioque autore susurri._[2]

I am prevailed on, through the importunity of friends, to interrupt the scheme I had begun in my last paper, by an Essay upon the Art of Political Lying. We are told, “the Devil is the father of lies, and was a liar from the beginning”; so that beyond contradiction, the invention is old: And which is more, his first essay of it was purely political, employed in undermining the authority of his Prince, and seducing a third part of the subjects from their obedience. For which he was driven down from Heaven, where (as Milton expresseth it) he had been viceroy of a great western province;[3] and forced to exercise his talent in inferior regions among other fallen spirits, or poor deluded men, whom he still daily tempts to his own sin, and will ever do so till he is chained in the bottomless pit.

But though the Devil be the father of lies, he seems, like other great inventors, to have lost much of his reputation, by the continual improvements that have been made upon him.

Who first reduced lying into an art, and adapted it to politics, is not so clear from history, though I have made some diligent enquiries: I shall therefore consider it only according to the modern system, as it has been cultivated these twenty years past in the southern part of our own island.

The poets tell us, that after the giants were overthrown by the gods, the earth in revenge produced her last offspring, which was Fame.[4] And the fable is thus interpreted; that when tumults and seditions are quieted, rumours and false reports are plentifully spread through a nation. So that by this account, _lying_ is the last relief of a routed, earth-born, rebellious party in a state. But here, the moderns have made great additions, applying this art to the gaining of power, and preserving it, as well as revenging themselves after they have lost it: as the same instruments are made use of by animals to feed themselves when they are hungry, and bite those that tread upon them.

But the same genealogy cannot always be admitted for _political lying;_ I shall therefore desire to refine upon it, by adding some circumstances of its birth and parents. A political lie is sometimes born out of a discarded statesman’s head, and thence delivered to be nursed and dandled by the mob. Sometimes it is produced a monster, and _licked_ into shape; at other times it comes into the world completely formed, and is spoiled in the licking. It is often born an infant in the regular way, and requires time to mature it: and often it sees the light in its full growth, but dwindles away by degrees. Sometimes it is of noble birth; and sometimes the spawn of a stock-jobber. _Here_, it screams aloud at the opening of the womb; and _there_, it is delivered with a whisper. I know a lie that now disturbs half the kingdom with its noise, which though too proud and great at present to own its parents, I can remember in its whisper-hood. To conclude the nativity of this monster; when it comes into the world without a _sting_, it is still-born; and whenever it loses its sting, it dies.

No wonder, if an infant so miraculous in its birth, should be destined for great adventures: and accordingly we see it has been the guardian spirit of a prevailing party for almost twenty years. It can conquer kingdoms without fighting, and sometimes with the loss of a battle: It gives and resumes employments; can sink a mountain to a mole-hill, and raise a mole-hill to a mountain; has presided for many years at committees of elections; can wash a blackamoor white; make a saint of an atheist, and a patriot of a profligate; can furnish foreign ministers with intelligence, and raise or let fall the credit of the nation. This goddess flies with a huge looking-glass in her hands, to dazzle the crowd, and make them see, according as she turns it, their ruin in their interest, and their interest in their ruin. In this glass you will behold your best friends clad in coats powdered with _flower-de-luces_[5] and triple crowns; their girdles hung round with chains, and beads, and wooden shoes: and your worst enemies adorned with the ensigns of liberty, property, indulgence, and moderation, and a cornucopia in their hands. Her large wings, like those of a flying-fish, are of no use but while they are moist; she therefore dips them in mud, and soaring aloft scatters it in the eyes of the multitude, flying with great swiftness; but at every turn is forced to stoop in dirty way for new supplies.

I have been sometimes thinking, if a man had the art of the second sight for seeing lies, as they have in Scotland for seeing spirits, how admirably he might entertain himself in this town; to observe the different shapes, sizes, and colours, of those swarms of lies which buzz about the heads of some people, like flies about a horse’s ears in summer: or those legions hovering every afternoon in Popes-head Alley[6], enough to darken the air; or over a club of discontented grandees, and thence sent down in cargoes to be scattered at elections.

There is one essential point wherein a political liar differs from others of the faculty; that he ought to have but a short memory, which is necessary according to the various occasions he meets with every hour, of differing from himself, and swearing to both sides of a contradiction, as he finds the persons disposed, with whom he has to deal. In describing the virtues and vices of mankind, it is convenient upon every article, to have some eminent person in our eye, from whence we copy our description. I have strictly observed this rule; and my imagination this minute represents before me a certain great man[7] famous for this talent, to the constant practice of which he owes his twenty years’ reputation of the most skilful head in England, for the management of nice affairs. The superiority of his genius consists in nothing else but an inexhaustible fund of political lies, which he plentifully distributes every minute he speaks, and by an unparalleled generosity forgets, and consequently contradicts the next half-hour. He never yet considered whether any proposition were true or false, but whether it were convenient for the present minute or company to affirm or deny it; so that if you think to refine upon him, by interpreting every thing he says, as we do dreams by the contrary, you are still to seek, and will find yourself equally deceived, whether you believe him or no: the only remedy is to suppose that you have heard some inarticulate sounds, without any meaning at all. And besides, that will take off the horror you might be apt to conceive at the oaths wherewith he perpetually tags both ends of every proposition: though at the same time I think he cannot with any justice be taxed for perjury, when he invokes God and Christ, because he has often fairly given public notice to the world, that he believes in neither.

Some people may think that such an accomplishment as this, can be of no great use to the owner or his party, after it has been often practised, and is become notorious; but they are widely mistaken: Few lies carry the inventor’s mark; and the most prostitute enemy to truth may spread a thousand without being known for the author. Besides, as the vilest writer has his readers, so the greatest liar has his believers; and it often happens, that if a lie be believed only for an hour, it has done its work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and Truth comes limping after it; so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late, the jest is over, and the tale has had its effect: like a man who has thought of a good repartee, when the discourse is changed, or the company parted: or, like a physician who has found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead.

Considering that natural disposition in many men to lie, and in multitudes to believe, I have been perplexed what to do with that maxim, so frequent in every body’s mouth, that “Truth will at last prevail.” Here, has this island of ours, for the greatest part of twenty years, lain under the influence of such counsels and persons, whose principle and interest it was to corrupt our manners, blind our understandings, drain our wealth, and in time destroy our constitution both in Church and State; and we at last were brought to the very brink of ruin; yet by the means of perpetual misrepresentations, have never been able to distinguish between our enemies and friends. We have seen a great part of the nation’s money got into the hands of those, who by their birth, education and merit, could pretend no higher than to wear our liveries; while others,[8] who by their credit, quality and fortune, were only able to give reputation and success to the Revolution, were not only laid aside, as dangerous and useless; but loaden with the scandal of Jacobites, men of arbitrary principles, and pensioners to France; while Truth, who is said to lie in a well, seemed now to be buried there under a heap of stones. But I remember, it was a usual complaint among the Whigs, that the bulk of landed men was not in their interests, which some of the wisest looked on as an ill omen; and we saw it was with the utmost difficulty that they could preserve a majority, while the court and ministry were on their side; till they had learned those admirable expedients for deciding elections, and influencing distant boroughs by _powerful motives_ from the city. But all this was mere force and constraint, however upheld by most dexterous artifice and management: till the people began to apprehend their properties, their religion, and the monarchy itself in danger; then we saw them greedily laying hold on the first occasion to interpose. But of this mighty change in the dispositions of the people, I shall discourse more at large in some following paper; wherein I shall endeavour to undeceive those deluded or deluding persons, who hope or pretend, it is only a short madness in the vulgar, from which they may soon recover. Whereas I believe it will appear to be very different in its causes, its symptoms, and its consequences; and prove a great example to illustrate the maxim I lately mentioned, that “Truth” (however sometimes late) “will at last prevail.”

[Footnote 1: No. 14 in the reprint. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: Ovid, “Metamorphoses,” xii. 56-61.

“The troubled air with empty sounds they beat. Intent to hear, and eager to repeat.
Error sits brooding there, with added train Of vain Credulity, and Joys as vain:
Suspicion, with Sedition joined, are near, And Rumours raised, and Murmurs mixed, and panic Fear.” J. DRYDEN.

[Footnote 3: “Paradise Lost,” v. 708-710. Milton makes Satan say: “We possess the quarters of the North,” and places his throne in “the limits of the North.” By speaking of a _western_ province Swift intends Ireland, then under the government of the Earl of Wharton. This paper may be read in connection with the 23rd number of “The Examiner,” and the “Short Character of Wharton” (vol. v., pp. 1-28). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: Fama was said to be a daughter of Terra. See Virgil, “Aeneid,” iv. 173-178. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: A reply to the insinuations that the Tories were sympathetic to France, and that the Whigs were the true patriots. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 6: The reprint has “Exchange Alley.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: The Earl of Wharton. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: Refers to the Tories generally, and in particular to Sir Thomas Osborne, Bart. (1631-1712), who was created Duke of Leeds in 1694. In 1679, as Earl of Danby, he was impeached by the Commons, and imprisoned in the Tower for five years. “He assisted greatly,” says Scott, “in the Revolution, yet continued a steady Tory, and avowed at Sacheverell’s trial, that, had he known the Prince of Orange designed to assume the crown, he never would have drawn a sword for him.” [T.S.]]

NUMB. 16.[1]


—_medioque ut limite curras,
Icare, ait, moneo: ne si demissior ibis, Unda gravet pennas, si celsior, ignis adurat._[2]

It must be avowed, that for some years past, there have been few things more wanted in England, than such a paper as this ought to be; and such as I will endeavour to make it, as long as it shall be found of any use, without entering into the violences of either party. Considering the many grievous misrepresentations of persons and things, it is highly requisite, at this juncture, that the people throughout the kingdom, should, if possible, be set right in their opinions by some impartial hand, which has never been yet attempted: those who have hitherto undertaken it, being upon every account the least qualified of all human-kind for such a work.

We live here under a limited monarchy, and under the doctrine and discipline of an excellent Church: We are unhappily divided into two parties, both which pretend a mighty zeal for our religion and government, only they disagree about the means.[3] The evils we must fence against are, on one side, fanaticism and infidelity in religion; and anarchy, under the name of a commonwealth, in government: on the other side, popery, slavery, and the Pretender from France. Now to inform and direct us in our sentiments, upon these weighty points; here are on one side two stupid, illiterate scribblers, both of them fanatics by profession; I mean the “Review”[4] and “Observator.”[5] On the other side we have an open Nonjuror,[6] whose character and person, as well as good learning and sense, discovered upon other subjects, do indeed deserve respect and esteem; but his “Rehearsal,” and the rest of his political papers, are yet more pernicious than those of the former two. If the generality of the people know not how to talk or think, till they have read their lesson in the papers of the week, what a misfortune is it that their duty should be conveyed to them through such vehicles as those? For let some gentlemen think what they please, I cannot but suspect, that the two worthies I first mentioned, have in a degree done mischief among us; the mock authoritative manner of the one, and the insipid mirth of the other, however insupportable to reasonable ears, being of a level with great numbers among the lowest part of mankind. Neither was the author of the “Rehearsal,” while he continued that paper, less infectious to many persons of better figure, who perhaps were as well qualified, and much less prejudiced, to judge for themselves.

It was this reason, that moved me to take the matter out of those rough, as well as those dirty hands, to let the remote and uninstructed part of the nation see, that they have been misled on both sides, by mad, ridiculous extremes, at a wide distance on each side from the truth; while the right path is so broad and plain, as to be easily kept, if they were once put into it.

Further, I had lately entered on a resolution to take very little notice of other papers, unless it were such, where the malice and falsehood, had so great a mixture of wit and spirit, as would make them dangerous; which in the present circle of scribbles, from twelvepence to a halfpenny, I could easily foresee would not very frequently occur. But here again, I am forced to dispense with my resolution, though it be only to tell my reader, what measures I am like to take on such occasions for the future. I was told that the paper called “The Observator,” was twice filled last week with remarks upon a late “Examiner.”[7] These I read with the first opportunity, and to speak in the news-writers’ phrase, they gave me occasion for many speculations. I observed with singular pleasure, the nature of those things, which the owners of them, usually call _answers_; and with what dexterity this matchless author had fallen into the whole art and cant of them. To transcribe here and there three or four detached lines of least weight in a discourse, and by a foolish comment mistake every syllable of the meaning, is what I have known many of a superior class, to this formidable adversary, entitle an “Answer.”[8] This is what he has exactly done in about thrice as many words as my whole discourse; which is so mighty an advantage over me, that I shall by no means engage in so unequal a combat; but as far as I can judge of my own temper, entirely dismiss him for the future; heartily wishing he had a match exactly of his own size to meddle with, who should only have the odds of truth and honesty; which as I take it, would be an effectual way to silence him for ever. Upon this occasion, I cannot forbear a short story of a fanatic farmer who lived in my neighbourhood, and was so great a disputant in religion, that the servants in all the families thereabouts, reported, how he had confuted the bishop and all his clergy. I had then a footman who was fond of reading the Bible, and I borrowed a comment for him, which he studied so close, that in a month or two I thought him a match for the farmer. They disputed at several houses, with a ring of servants and other people always about them, where Ned explained his texts so full and clear, to the capacity of his audience, and showed the insignificancy of his adversary’s cant, to the meanest understanding, that he got the whole country of his side, and the farmer was cured of his itch of disputation for ever after.

The worst of it is, that this sort of outrageous party-writers I have above spoke of, are like a couple of make-bates, who inflame small quarrels by a thousand stories, and by keeping friends at a distance hinder them from coming to a good understanding, as they certainly would, if they were suffered to meet and debate between themselves. For let any one examine a reasonable honest man of either side, upon those opinions in religion and government, which both parties daily buffet each other about, he shall hardly find one material point in difference between them. I would be glad to ask a question about two great men[9] of the late ministry, how they came to be Whigs? and by what figure of speech, half a dozen others, lately put into great employments, can be called Tories? I doubt, whoever would suit the definition to the persons, must make it directly contrary to what we understood it at the time of the Revolution.

In order to remove these misapprehensions among us, I believe it will be necessary upon occasion, to detect the malice and falsehood of some popular maxims, which those idiots scatter from the press twice a week, and draw an hundred absurd consequences from them.

For example, I have heard it often objected as a great piece of insolence in the clergy and others, to say or hint that the Church was in danger, when it was voted otherwise in Parliament some years ago: and the Queen herself in her last speech, did openly condemn all such insinuations.[10] Notwithstanding which, I did then, and do still believe, the Church has, since that vote, been in very imminent danger; and I think I might then have said so, without the least offence to her Majesty, or either of the two Houses. The Queen’s words, as near as I can remember, mentioned the Church being in danger from her administration; and whoever says or thinks that, deserves, in my opinion, to be hanged for a traitor. But that the Church and State may be both in danger under the best princes that ever reigned, and without the least guilt of theirs, is such a truth, as a man must be a great stranger to history or common sense, to doubt. The wisest prince on earth may be forced, by the necessity of his affairs, and the present power of an unruly faction, or deceived by the craft of ill designing men: One or two ministers, most in his confidence, may _at first_ have good intentions, but grow corrupted by time, by avarice, by love, by ambition, and have fairer terms offered them, to gratify their passions or interests, from _one set of men_ than another, till they are too far involved for a retreat; and so be forced to take “seven spirits more wicked than themselves.” This is a very possible case; and will not “the last state of such men be worse than the first”? that is to say, will not the public, which was safe at first, grow in danger by such proceedings as these? And shall a faithful subject, who foresees and trembles at the consequences, be called _disaffected_, because he delivers his opinion, though the prince declares, as he justly may, that the danger is not owing to his administration? Or, shall the prince himself be blamed, when in such a juncture he puts his affairs into other hands, with the universal applause of his people? As to the vote against those who should affirm the Church was in danger, I think it likewise referred to danger from or under the Queen’s administration, (for I neither have it by me, nor can suddenly have recourse to it;) but if it were otherwise, I know not how it can refer to any dangers but what were past, or at that time present; or how it could affect the future, unless the senators were all _inspired_, or at least that majority which voted it. Neither do I see any crime further than ill manners, to differ in opinion from a majority of either or both Houses; and that ill manners, I must confess I have been often guilty of for some years past, though I hope I never shall again.

Another topic of great use to these weekly inflamers, is the young Pretender[11] in France, to whom their whole party is in a high measure indebted for all their greatness; and whenever it lies in their power, they may perhaps return their acknowledgments, as out of their zeal for frequent revolutions, they were ready to do to his supposed father: which is a piece of secret history, that I hope will one day see the light; and I am sure it shall, if ever I am master of it, without regarding whose ears may tingle.[12] But at present, the word _Pretender_ is a term of art in their possession: A secretary of state cannot desire leave to resign, but the Pretender is at bottom: the Queen cannot dissolve a Parliament, but it is a plot to dethrone herself, and bring in the Pretender. Half a score stock-jobbers are playing the knave in Exchange-Alley, and there goes the Pretender with a sponge. One would be apt to think they bawl out the Pretender so often, to take off the terror; or tell so many lies about him, to slacken our caution, that when he is really coming, _by their connivance_, we may not believe them; as the boy served the shepherds about the coming of the wolf. Or perhaps they scare us with the Pretender, because they think he may be like some diseases, that come with a fright. Do they not believe that the Queen’s present ministry love her Majesty, at least as well as _some others_ loved the Church? And why is it not as great mark of disaffection now to say the Queen is in danger, as it was some months ago to affirm the same of the Church? Suppose it be a false opinion, that the Queen’s right is hereditary and indefeasible; yet how is it possible that those who hold and believe that doctrine, can be in the Pretender’s interest? His title is weakened by every argument that strengthens hers. It is as plain as the words of an Act of Parliament can make it, that her present Majesty is heir to the survivor of the late King and Queen her sister. Is not that an hereditary right? What need we explain it any further? I have known an Article of Faith expounded in much looser and more general terms, and that by an author whose opinions are very much followed by a certain party.[13] Suppose we go further, and examine the word _indefeasible_, with which some writers of late have made themselves so merry: I confess it is hard to conceive, how any law which the supreme power makes, may not by the same power be repealed: so that I shall not determine, whether the Queen’s right be indefeasible or no. But this I will maintain, that whoever affirms it so, is not guilty of a crime. For in that settlement of the crown after the Revolution, where her present Majesty is named in remainder,[14] there are (as near as I can remember) these remarkable words, “to which we bind ourselves and our posterity for ever.” Lawyers may explain this, or call them words of form, as they please: and reasoners may argue that such an obligation is against the very nature of government; but a plain reader, who takes the words in their natural meaning, may be excused, in thinking a right so confirmed, is _indefeasible_; and if there be an absurdity in such an opinion, he is not to answer for it.

_P.S._ When this paper was going to the press, the printer brought me two more _Observators_,[15] wholly taken up in my _Examiner_ upon lying, which I was at the pains to read; and they are just such an answer, as the two others I have mentioned. This is all I have to say on that matter.

[Footnote 1: No. 15 in the reprint. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: Ovid, “Metamorphoses,” viii. 203-5.

“My boy, take care
To wing your course along the middle air: If low, the surges wet your flagging plumes; If high, the sun the melting wax consumes.” S. CROXALL.

[Footnote 3: See the pamphlets: “The Thoughts of an Honest Tory,” 1710 [by Bp. Hoadly]; “Faults on both Sides … by way of answer to ‘The Thoughts of an Honest Tory,'” 1710 [by a Mr. Clements]; and “Faults in the Fault-Finder: or, a Specimen of Errors in … ‘Faults on Both Sides,'” 1710; etc., etc. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: “The Review” was edited by Daniel Defoe. He commenced it on February 19th, 1703/4, as “A Weekly Review of the Affairs of France”; but about this time it had lost much of its early spring and verve. It was discontinued after June 11th, 1713. Gay thought, speaking of “The Review,” that Defoe was “a lively instance of those wits, who, as an ingenious author says, will endure but one skimming” (“Present State of Wit”). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: “The Observator” was founded by John Tutchin. The first number was issued April 1st, 1702, and it appeared, with some intervals, until July, 1712, though Tutchin himself died in 1707. For his partisanship for Monmouth poor Tutchin came under the anger of Judge Jeffreys, who sentenced him to several floggings. Pope’s couplet in the “Dunciad” has immortalized him:

“Earless on high stood unabashed De Foe, And Tutchin flagrant from the scourge below.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 6: This was the Rev. Charles Leslie, whose periodical, “The Rehearsal,” was avowedly Jacobite. The paper appeared from August 5th, 1704, until March 26th, 1709. In 1708-9 all the numbers were republished in four volumes folio, with the title: “A View of the Times, their Principles and Practices: in the First [Second, etc.] Volume of the Rehearsals,” and under the pseudonym “Philalethes.” Later he engaged in a controversy with Bishop Hoadly. See also note on p. 354, vol. v.

Of Swift’s use of the term “Nonjuror,” “The Medley” (June 18th, 1711, No. 38) made the following remarks: “If he speaks of him with relation to his party, there can be nothing so inconsistent as a Whig and a Nonjuror: and if he talks of him merely as an author, all the authors in the world are Nonjurors, but the ingenious divine who writ ‘The Tale of a Tub’ … for he is the first man who introduced those figures of rhetoric we call swearing and cursing in print.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: “The Observator” for November 8th, 1710 (vol. ix., No. 85), was filled with _more_ remarks on the fourteenth “Examiner.” Presumably the issue for November 4th, which is not accessible, commenced the attack. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: A humorous specimen of this kind of an “Answer” was given by Swift in No. 23 of “The Examiner,” _post._ [T.S.]]

[Footnote 9: The Duke of Marlborough and Lord Godolphin, who commenced their political career as Tories, and only became Whigs through the necessity of identifying their own principles with that of the party which supported their power. [S.]]

[Footnote 10: On December 6th, 1705, the House of Lords passed the following resolution: “That the Church of England … is now, by God’s blessing, under the happy reign of her Majesty, in a most safe and flourishing condition; and that whoever goes about to suggest and insinuate, that the Church is in danger under her Majesty’s administration, is an enemy to the Queen, the Church, and the Kingdom” (“Jls. of House of Lords,” xviii. 43). On December 8th the House of Commons, by a majority of 212 against 162, agreed to this resolution. In her speech at the prorogation of Parliament on April 5th, 1710, the Queen said: “The suppressing immorality … is what I have always earnestly recommended; … but, this being an evil complained of in all times, it is very injurious to take a pretence from thence, to insinuate that the Church is in any danger from my administration” (“Jls. Of House of Lords,” xix. 145). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 11: James, Duke of Cornwall (1688-1766), known as the Chevalier de St. George. At one time the belief was current that the wife of James II. did not give birth to a child, and the “young Pretender” was supposed to be a son of one Mary Grey (see note on p. 409 of vol. v. of present edition of Swift’s works). See also: “State-Amusements, Serious and Hypocritical … Birth of the Pretended Prince of Wales,” 1711; “Seasonable Queries relating to the Birth and Birthright of a Certain Person,” 1714; and other pamphlets. In the Act for the Succession to the Crown (6 Ann. c. 41), he is styled, “the Pretended Prince of Wales.” History afterwards called him the “Old Pretender” to distinguish him from Charles Edward, the “bonnie Prince Charlie,” the Young Pretender. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 12: Swift kept his word. See “An Enquiry into … the Queen’s Last Ministry,” 1715 (Swift’s Works, vol. v., p. 458 _sq._), and his “History of the Four Last Years of the Queen,” 1758. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 13: By Bishop Burnet in his “Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 14: The reference here is to the Bill of Rights (1 William and Mary, Sess. 2, c. 2), where it is said: “And thereunto the said Lords spiritual and temporal and Commons do, in the name of all the people aforesaid, most humbly and faithfully submit themselves, their heirs and posterities, for ever.” In the recital in the Act of Settlement (12 and 13 W. III. c. 2) the words “for ever” are omitted. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 15: “The Observator” of November 11th and 15th (vol. ix., Nos. 86 and 87). In No. 86 “The Examiner” is given “a spiritual shove,” and, quoting his statement that a political liar “ought to have but a short memory” to meet occasions “of differing from himself, and swearing to both sides of a contradiction,” adds, “the ‘Examiner’ has this essential qualification of a political liar.” It is amusing to find in the same issue “The Observator” calling Jezebel a Tory, and Elijah and Naboth, Whigs! [T.S.]]

NUMB. 17.[1]


_Qui sunt boni cives? Qui belli, qui domi de patria bene merentes, nisi qui patriae beneficia meminerunt?_[2]

I will employ this present paper upon a subject, which of late hath very much affected me, which I have considered with a good deal of application, and made several enquiries about, among those persons who I thought were best able to inform me; and if I deliver my sentiments with some freedom, I hope it will be forgiven, while I accompany it with that tenderness which so nice a point requires.

I said in a former paper (Numb. 14) that one specious objection to the late removals at court, was the fear of giving uneasiness to a general, who has been long successful abroad: and accordingly, the common clamour of tongues and pens for some months past, has run against the baseness, the inconstancy and ingratitude of the whole kingdom to the Duke of M[arlborough], in return of the most eminent services that ever were performed by a subject to his country; not to be equalled in history. And then to be sure some bitter stroke of detraction against Alexander and Caesar, who never did us the least injury. Besides, the people that read Plutarch come upon us with parallels drawn from the Greeks and Romans, who ungratefully dealt with I know not how many of their most deserving generals: while the profounder politicians, have seen pamphlets, where Tacitus and Machiavel have been quoted to shew the danger of too resplendent a merit. Should a stranger hear these furious outcries of ingratitude against our general, without knowing the particulars, he would be apt to enquire where was his tomb, or whether he were allowed Christian burial? not doubting but we had put him to some ignominious death. Or, has he been tried for his life, and very narrowly escaped? has he been accused of high crimes and misdemeanours? has the prince seized on his estate, and left him to starve? has he been hooted at as he passed the streets, by an ungrateful mob? have neither honours, offices nor grants, been conferred on him or his family? have not he and they been barbarously stripped of them all? have not he and his forces been ill paid abroad? and does not the prince by a scanty, limited commission, hinder him from pursuing his own methods in the conduct of the war? has he no power at all of disposing commissions as he pleases? is he not severely used by the ministry or Parliament, who yearly call him to a strict account? has the senate ever thanked him for good success, and have they not always publicly censured him for the least miscarriage? Will the accusers of the nation join issue upon any of these particulars, or tell us in what point, our damnable sin of ingratitude lies? Why, it is plain and clear; for while he is commanding abroad, the Queen dissolves her Parliament, and changes her ministry at home: in which universal calamity, no less than two persons[3] allied by marriage to the general, have lost their places. Whence came this wonderful sympathy between the civil and military powers? Will the troops in Flanders refuse to fight, unless they can have their own lord keeper, their own lord president of the council, their own chief Governor of Ireland, and their own Parliament? In a kingdom where the people are free, how came they to be so fond of having their councils under the influence of their army, or those that lead it? who in all well instituted states, had no commerce with the civil power, further than to receive their orders, and obey them without reserve.

When a general is not so popular, either in his army or at home, as one might expect from a long course of success; it may perhaps be ascribed to his wisdom, or perhaps to his complexion. The possession of some one quality, or a defect in some other, will extremely damp the people’s favour, as well as the love of the soldiers. Besides, this is not an age to produce favourites of the people, while we live under a Queen who engrosses all our love, and all our veneration; and where, the only way for a great general or minister, to acquire any degree of subordinate affection from the public, must be by all marks of the most entire submission and respect, to her sacred person and commands;[4] otherwise, no pretence of great services, either in the field or the cabinet, will be able to screen them from universal hatred.

But the late ministry was closely joined to the general, by friendship, interest, alliance, inclination and opinion, which cannot be affirmed of the present; and the ingratitude of the nation, lies in the people’s joining as one man, to wish, that such a ministry should be changed. Is it not at the same time notorious to the whole kingdom, that nothing but a tender regard to the general, was able to preserve that ministry so long, till neither God nor man could suffer their continuance? Yet in the highest ferment of things, we heard few or no reflections upon this great commander, but all seemed unanimous in wishing he might still be at the head of the confederate forces; only at the same time, in case he were resolved to resign, they chose rather to turn their thoughts somewhere else, than throw up all in despair. And this I cannot but add, in defence of the people, with regard to the person we are speaking of, that in the high station he has been for many years past, his real defects (as nothing human is without them) have in a detracting age been very sparingly mentioned, either in libels or conversation, and all his successes very freely and universally applauded.

There is an active and a passive ingratitude; applying both to this occasion, we may say, the first is, when a prince or people returns good services with cruelty or ill usage: the other is, when good services are not at all, or very meanly rewarded. We have already spoke of the former; let us therefore in the second place, examine how the services of our general have been rewarded; and whether upon that article, either prince or people have been guilty of ingratitude?

Those are the most valuable rewards, which are given to us from the certain knowledge of the donor, that they _fit our temper best:_ I shall therefore say nothing of the title of Duke, or the Garter, which the Queen bestowed [on] the general in the beginning of her reign; but I shall come to more substantial instances, and mention nothing which has not been given in the face of the world.[5] The lands of Woodstock, may, I believe, be reckoned worth 40,000_l_. On the building of Blenheim Castle 200,000_l_. have been already expended, though it be not yet near finished. The grant of 5,000_l. per ann._ on the post-office, is richly worth 100,000_l_. His principality in Germany may be computed at 30,000_l_. Pictures, jewels, and other gifts from foreign princes, 60,000_l_. The grant at the Pall-Mall, the rangership, &c. for want of more certain knowledge, may be called 10,000,_l_. His own, and his duchess’s employments at five years value, reckoning only the known and avowed salaries, are very low rated at 100,000_l_. Here is a good deal above half a million of money, and I dare say, those who are loudest with the clamour of ingratitude, will readily own, that all this is but a trifle in comparison of what is untold.[6]

The reason of my stating this account is only to convince the world, that we are not quite so ungrateful either as the Greeks or the Romans. And in order to adjust this matter with all fairness, I shall confine myself to the latter, who were much the more generous of the two. A victorious general of Rome in the height of that empire, having entirely subdued his enemy, was rewarded with the larger triumph; and perhaps a statue in the Forum, a bull for a sacrifice, an embroidered garment to appear in: a crown of laurel, a monumental trophy with inscriptions; sometimes five hundred or a thousand copper coins were struck on occasion of the victory, which doing honour to the general, we will place to his account; and lastly, sometimes, though not very frequently, a triumphal arch. These are all the rewards that I can call to mind, which a victorious general received after his return from the most glorious expedition, conquered some great kingdom, brought the king himself, his family and nobles to adorn the triumph in chains, and made the kingdom either a Roman province, or at best a poor depending state, in humble alliance to that empire. Now of all these rewards, I find but two which were of real profit to the general; the laurel crown, made and sent him at the charge of the public, and the embroidered garment; but I cannot find whether this last were paid for by the senate or the general: however, we will take the more favourable opinion, and in all the rest, admit the whole expense, as if it were ready money in the general’s pocket. Now according to these computations on both sides, we will draw up two fair accounts, the one of Roman gratitude, and the other of British ingratitude, and set them together in balance.


l. s. d.
Imprimis for frankincense and earthen pots to burn it in 4 10 0
A bull for sacrifice 8 0 0 An embroidered garment 50 0 0 A crown of laurel 0 0 2
A statue 100 0 0 A trophy 80 0 0
A thousand copper medals value half pence a piece 2 1 8
A triumphal arch 500 0 0 A triumphal car, valued as a modern coach 100 0 0 Casual charges at the triumph 150 0 0 ————-
Sum total 994 11 10


l. s. d.
Imprimis Woodstock 40,000 0 0 Blenheim 200,000 0 0
Post-office grant 100,000 0 0 Mildenheim 30,000 0 0
Pictures, jewels, &c. 60,000 0 0 Pall-Mall grant, &c. 10,000 0 0 Employments 100,000 0 0
—————– Sum total[7] 540,000 0 0

This is an account of the visible profits on both sides; and if the Roman general had any private perquisites, they may be easily discounted, and by more probable computations, and differ yet more upon the balance; if we consider, that all the gold and silver for safeguards and contributions, also all valuable prizes taken in the war were openly exposed in the triumph, and then lodged in the Capitol for the public service.

So that upon the whole, we are not yet quite so bad at _worst_, as the Romans were at _best_. And I doubt, those who raise this hideous cry of ingratitude, may be mightily mistaken in the consequence they propose from such complaints. I remember a saying of Seneca, _Multos ingratos invenimus, plures facimus;_ “We find many ungrateful persons in the world, but we _make_ more,” by setting too high a rate upon our pretensions, and under-valuing the rewards we receive. When unreasonable bills are brought in, they ought to be taxed, or cut off in the middle. Where there have been long accounts between two persons, I have known one of them perpetually making large demands and pressing for payments, who when the accounts were cast up on both sides, was found to be creditor for some hundreds. I am thinking if a proclamation were issued out for every man to send in his _bill of merits_, and the lowest price he set them at, what a pretty sum it would amount to, and how many such islands as this must be sold to pay them. I form my judgment from the practice of those who sometimes happen to pay themselves, and I dare affirm, would not be so unjust to take a farthing more than they think is due to their deserts. I will instance only in one article. A lady of my acquaintance,[8] appropriated twenty-six pounds a year out of her allowance, for certain uses, which her woman received, and was to pay to the lady or her order, as it was called for. But after eight years, it appeared upon the strictest calculation, that the woman had paid but four pound a year, and sunk two-and-twenty for her own pocket. It is but supposing instead of twenty-six pound, twenty-six thousand, and by that you may judge what the pretensions of _modern merit_ are, where it happens to be its own paymaster.

[Footnote 1: No. 16 in the reprint. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: “Who are the good citizens? Who are they who–whether at war or at home–deserve well of their country, but those who bear in mind the benefits she has already conferred upon them?” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: The Earl of Sunderland and Lord Godolphin. Sunderland was succeeded by Dartmouth, in June, as Secretary of State, and Godolphin returned his staff of treasurer in August, the office being placed in commission. Sunderland and Godolphin were both related to Marlborough by marriage. The former married Anne, and the son of the latter Henrietta, daughters of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: See “Memoirs relating to that Change” (Swift’s Works, vol. v., pp. 367-8). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: The Queen’s Message, proposing to grant to the Duke of Marlborough the Manor of Woodstock and Hundred of Wootton, was read January 17th, 1704/5. A Bill carrying this proposal into effect was introduced January 25th, and passed February 3rd. Blenheim House, erected at the Queen’s expense, was settled to go with the dukedom by a Bill introduced in the House of Lords, which passed all its stages in the Commons December 20th, 1706. The pension of L5,000 per annum upon the revenue of the Post Office, granted by the Queen for her lifetime in December, 1702–at a time when the Commons expressed their “trouble” that they could not comply–was made perpetual by a Bill introduced January 14th, 1706/7, passed January 18th, Royal Assent given January 28th (see “Journals of House of Commons,” xiv. and xv.). [T.S.] ]

[Footnote 6: A broadside, printed in 1712, entitled, “The D—-e and D— -s of M—-h’s Loss; being an Estimate of their former Yearly Income,” reckons the duke’s emoluments at L54,825 per annum, and those of the duchess at L7,500. In the second edition the following paragraph is added:

“The following sums have been rec’d since the year 1701:

“Receiv’d on Accompt of Bread and Bread-waggons L63,319 3 7 Receiv’d 10,000,_l_. by Annual Contingencies 100,000 0 0 Receiv’d by 2 and 1/2 _per cent_, from the payment of Troops 460,062 6 7-3/4 —————– 623,381 10 2-3/4” —————–]

[Footnote 7: In the tenth number of “The Medley” (December 4th, 1710) occurs the following: “‘The Examiner,’ having it in his thoughts to publish the falsest, as well as the most impudent paper that ever was printed, writ a previous discourse about lying, as a necessary introduction to what was to follow. The first paper was the precept, and the second was the example. By the falsest paper that ever was printed, I mean the ‘Examiner’ Numb. 17, in which he pretends to give an account of what the Duke of Marlborough has got by his services.” The writer in the “Medley,” admitting even the correctness of the “Examiner’s” sum of L540,000, sets off against this the value of the several battles won by the Duke, and “twenty seven towns taken, which being reckoned at 300,000_l_. a town (the price that Dunkirk was sold at before it was fortified) amounts in all, throwing in the battles and the fortifications, to 8,100,000_l_.” The balance in favour of the Duke, and presumably in justification of the gifts made him, gave a net result of L7,560,000. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: The Duchess of Marlborough, who admitted that the comparison was intended for herself, explained the matter thus: “At the Queen’s accession to the government, she … desired me to take out of the privy-purse 2,000_l_. a year, in order to some purchase for my advantage … I constantly declined it; until the time, that, notwithstanding the uncommon regard I had shown to Her Majesty’s interest and honour in the execution of my trusts, she was pleased to dismiss me from her service … By the advice of my friends, I sent the Queen one of her own letters, in which she had pressed me to take the 2,00_l_. a year; and I wrote at the same time to ask Her Majesty whether she would allow me to charge in the privy-purse accounts, which I was to send her, that yearly sum from the time of the offer, amounting to 18,000_l_. Her Majesty was pleased to answer, that I might charge it. This therefore I did” (“An Account of the Conduct of … Duchess of Marlborough,” 1742, pp. 293-5). The Duchess of Somerset and Mrs. Masham superseded the Duchess of Marlborough in January, 1710/1. [T.S.]]

NUMB. 18.[1]


_Quas res luxuries in flagitus,… avaritia in rapinis, superbia in contumeliis efficere potuisset; eas omnes sese hoc uno praetore per triennium pertulisse aiebant_.[2]

When I first undertook this paper, I was resolved to concern myself only with things, and not with persons. Whether I have kept or broken this resolution, I cannot recollect; and I will not be at the pains to examine, but leave the matter to those little antagonists, who may want a topic for criticism. Thus much I have discovered, that it is in writing as in building; where, after all our schemes and calculations, we are mightily deceived in our accounts, and often forced to make use of any materials we can find, that the work may be kept a going. Besides, to speak my opinion, the things I have occasion to mention, are so closely linked to persons, that nothing but Time (the father of Oblivion) can separate them. Let me put a parallel case: Suppose I should complain, that last week my coach was within an inch of overturning, in a smooth, even way, and drawn by very gentle horses; to be sure, all my friends would immediately lay the fault upon John,[3] because they knew, he then presided in my coach-box. Again, suppose I should discover some uneasiness to find myself, I knew not how, over head-and-ears in debt, though I was sure my tenants paid their rents very well, and that I never spent half my income; they would certainly advise me to turn off Mr. Oldfox[4] my receiver, and take another. If, as a justice of peace, I should tell a friend that my warrants and mittimuses were never drawn up as I would have them; that I had the misfortune to send an honest man to gaol, and dismiss a knave; he would bid me no longer trust Charles and Harry,[5] my two clerks, whom he knew to be ignorant, wilful, assuming and ill-inclined fellows. If I should add, that my tenants made me very uneasy with their squabbles and broils among themselves; he would counsel me to cashier Will Bigamy,[6] the seneschal of my manor. And lastly, if my neighbour and I happened to have a misunderstanding about the delivery of a message, what could I do less than strip and discard the blundering or malicious rascal that carried it?[7]

It is the same thing in the conduct of public affairs, where they have been managed with rashness or wilfulness, corruption, ignorance or injustice; barely to relate the facts, at least, while they are fresh in memory, will as much reflect upon the persons concerned, as if we had told their names at length.

I have therefore since thought of another expedient, frequently practised with great safety and success by satirical writers: which is, that of looking into history for some character bearing a resemblance to the person we would describe; and with the absolute power of altering, adding or suppressing what circumstances we please, I conceived we must have very bad luck, or very little skill to fail. However, some days ago in a coffee-house, looking into one of the politic weekly papers; I found the writer had fallen into this scheme, and I happened to light on that part, where he was describing a person, who from small beginnings grew (as I remember) to be constable of France, and had a very haughty, imperious wife.[8] I took the author as a friend to our faction, (for so with great propriety of speech they call the Queen and ministry, almost the whole clergy, and nine parts in ten of the kingdom)[9] and I said to a gentleman near me, that although I knew well enough what persons the author meant, yet there were several particulars in the husband’s character, which I could not reconcile, for that of the lady was just and adequate enough; but it seems I mistook the whole matter, and applied all I had read to a couple of persons, who were not at that time in the writer’s thoughts.

Now to avoid such a misfortune as this, I have been for some time consulting Livy and Tacitus, to find out a character of a _Princeps Senatus,_ a _Praetor Urbanus,_ a _Quaestor Aerarius_, a _Caesari ab Epistolis_, and a _Proconsul_;[10] but among the worst of them, I cannot discover one from whom to draw a parallel, without doing injury to a Roman memory: so that I am compelled to have recourse to Tully. But this author relating facts only as an orator, I thought it would be best to observe his method, and make an extract from six harangues of his against Verres, only still preserving the form of an oration. I remember a younger brother of mine, who deceased about two months ago, presented the world with a speech of Alcibiades against an Athenian brewer:[11] Now, I am told for certain, that in those days there was no ale in Athens; and therefore that speech, or at least a great part of it, must needs be spurious. The difference between me and my brother is this; he makes Alcibiades say a great deal more than he really did, and I make Cicero say a great deal less.[12] This Verres had been the Roman governor of Sicily for three years; and on return from his government, the Sicilians entreated Cicero to impeach him in the Senate, which he accordingly did in several orations, from whence I have faithfully translated and abstracted that which follows.

“MY LORDS,[13]

“A pernicious opinion hath for some time prevailed, not only at Rome, but among our neighbouring nations, that a man who has money enough, though he be ever so guilty, cannot be condemned in this place. But however industriously this opinion be spread, to cast an odium on the Senate, we have brought before your lordships Caius Verres, a person, for his life and actions, already condemned by all men; but as he hopes, and gives out, by the influence of his wealth, to be here absolved. In condemning this man, you have an opportunity of belying that general scandal, of redeeming the credit lost by former judgments, and recovering the love of the Roman people, as well as of our neighbours. I have brought a man here before you, my lords, who is a robber of the public treasure, an overturner of law and justice, and the disgrace, as well as destruction, of the Sicilian province: of whom, if you shall determine with equity and due severity, your authority will remain entire, and upon such an establishment as it ought to be: but if his great riches will be able to force their way through that religious reverence and truth, which become so awful an assembly, I shall, however, obtain thus much, that the defect will be laid where it ought, and that it shall not be objected that the criminal was not produced, or that there wanted an orator to accuse him. This man, my lords, has publicly said, that those ought to be afraid of accusations who have only robbed enough for their own support and maintenance; but that _he_ has plundered sufficient to bribe numbers, and that nothing is so high or so holy which money cannot corrupt. Take that support from him, and he can have no other left. For what eloquence will be able to defend a man, whose life has been tainted with so many scandalous vices, and who has been so long condemned by the universal opinion of the world? To pass over the foul stains and ignominy of his youth, his corrupt management in all employments he has borne, his treachery and irreligion, his injustice and oppression, he has left of late such monuments of his villainies in Sicily, made such havoc and confusion there, during his government, that the province cannot by any means be restored to its former state, and hardly recover itself at all under many years, and by a long succession of good governors. While this man governed in that island, the Sicilians had neither the benefit of our laws, nor their own, nor even of common right. In Sicily, no man now possesses more than what the governor’s lust and avarice have overlooked, or what he was forced to neglect out of mere weariness and satiety of oppression. Every thing where he presided, was determined by his arbitrary will, and the best subjects he treated as enemies. To recount his abominable debaucheries, would offend any modest ear, since so many could not preserve their daughters and wives from his lust. I believe there is no man who ever heard his name, that cannot relate his enormities. We bring before you in judgment, my lords, a public robber, an adulterer, a DEFILER OF ALTARS,[14] an enemy of religion, and of all that is sacred; he sold all employments in Sicily of judicature, magistracy, and trust, places in the council, and the priesthood itself, to the highest bidder; and has plundered that island of forty millions of sesterces. And here I cannot but observe to your lordships, in what manner Verres passed the day: the morning was spent in taking bribes, and selling employments, the rest of it in drunkenness and lust. His discourse at table was scandalously unbecoming the dignity of his station; noise, brutality, and obsceneness. One particular I cannot omit, that in the high character of governor of Sicily, upon a solemn day, a day set apart for public prayer for the safety of the commonwealth; he stole at evening, in a chair, to a married woman of infamous character,[15] against all decency and prudence, as well as against all laws both human and divine. Didst thou think, O Verres, the government of Sicily was given thee with so large a commission, only by the power of that to break all the bars of law, modesty, and duty, to suppose all men’s fortunes thine, and leave no house free from thy rapine, or lust? &c.”

This extract, to deal ingenuously, has cost me more pains than I think it is worth, having only served to convince me, that modern corruptions are not to be paralleled by ancient examples, without having recourse to poetry or fable. For instance, I never read in story of a law enacted to take away the force of all laws whatsoever;[16] by which a man may safely commit upon the last of June, what he would infallibly be hanged for if he committed on the first of July; by which the greatest criminals may escape, provided they continue long enough in power to antiquate their crimes, and by stifling them a while, can deceive the legislature into an amnesty, of which the enactors do not at that time foresee the consequence. A cautious merchant will be apt to suspect, when he finds a man who has the repute of a cunning dealer, and with whom he has old accounts, urging for a general release. When I reflect on this proceeding, I am not surprised, that those who contrived a parliamentary sponge for their crimes, are now afraid of a new revolution sponge for their money: and if it were possible to contrive a sponge that could only affect those who had need of the other, perhaps it would not be ill employed.

[Footnote 1: No. 17 in the reprint. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: Cicero, “In Q. Caec.” i. 3: “They said that whatever luxury could accomplish in the way of vice,… avarice in the way of plunder, or arrogance in the way of insult, had all been borne by them for the last three years, while this one man was praetor.”–C.D. YONGE. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: John Churchill, Duke of Maryborough, who had been Captain-General since 1702. He was dismissed from all his offices, December 31st, 1711. The Duke of Ormonde was appointed Commander-in-Chief on January 4th. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: Godolphin, Lord-Treasurer, nicknamed Volpone. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: Charles, Earl of Sunderland, and Henry Boyle (1670-1725), were Secretaries of State. Boyle was created Lord Carleton in 1714. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 6: William; Earl Cowper (1665-1723), was Lord Chancellor under Godolphin’s administration (1707-1710), and also in 1714-1718. The “Biographia Britannica” (second edition, vol. iv., p. 389 _n_.) refers to a story that Cowper went through an informal marriage in the early part of his life with a Mrs. Elizabeth Culling, of Hungerfordbury Park. Cowper’s first wife was Judith, daughter of Sir Robert Booth, of London; and after her death he married Mary Clavering. See also “Examiner,” No. 23, _post_. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: Horatio Walpole, secretary to the English Embassy at the treaty of Gertruydenberg. See Swift’s accusation against him in “The Conduct of the Allies” (vol. v of present edition). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: “The Medley” (Nos. 6 and 7, November 6th and 13th, 1710) contains a “Story of the Marquiss D’Ancre and his Wife Galigai,” from the French of M. Le Vassor. The Marquis is there described as “the greatest cheat in the whole world”; and “Galigai had the insolence to say a thousand offensive things.” The article was intended as a reflection on Harley and Mrs. Masham; but Swift takes it as for the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. Certainly the character of Galigai may with greater justice be applied to the Duchess. (See “Histoire du regne de Louis XIII. par M. Michel Le Vassor.”) Concino Concini, Marechal D’Ancre, was born at Florence, and died in 1617. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 9: “The Medley” was constantly deriding this alleged proportion. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 10: “The Observator” for December 6th remarks: “If the ‘Examiner’ don’t find better parallels for his _Princeps Senates, Praetor Urbanus, Quaestor Aerarius_, and _Caesari ab Epistolis_, than he has done for his Proconsul, Roger, the gentlemen he aims at may sleep without disturbance.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 11: “The Whig Examiner” (No. 3, September 28th, 1710) prints a speech alleged to have been made by Alcibiades in a contest with an Athenian brewer named Taureas. The allusion was to the Westminster election, when General Stanhope was opposed by a brewer named Thomas