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  • 1898
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[Greek: Dialexamenoi tina haesuchae, to men sumpan epi te tae dunas eia kai kata ton echthron sunomosan.]

_Summissa quaedam voce collocuti sunt; quorum summa erat de dominatione sibi confirmanda, ac inimicis delendis conjuratio._[2]

Not many days ago I observed a knot of discontented gentlemen cursing the Tories to Hell for their uncharitableness, in affirming, that if the late ministry had continued to this time, we should have had neither Church nor Monarchy left. They are usually so candid as to call that the opinion of a party, which they hear in a coffeehouse, or over a bottle from some warm young people, whom it is odds but they have provoked to say more than they believed, by some positions as absurd and ridiculous of their own. And so it proved in this very instance: for, asking one of these gentlemen, what it was that provoked those he had been disputing with, to advance such a paradox? he assured me in a very calm manner, it was nothing in the world, but that himself and some others of the company had made it appear, that the design of the present P[arliamen]t and m[inistr]y, was to bring in Popery, arbitrary power, and the Pretender: which I take to be an opinion fifty times more improbable, as well as more uncharitable, than what is charged upon the Whigs: because I defy our adversaries to produce one single reason for suspecting such designs in the persons now at the helm; whereas I can upon demand produce twenty to shew, that some late men had strong views towards a commonwealth, and the alteration of the Church.

It is natural indeed, when a storm is over, that has only untiled our houses, and blown down some of our chimneys, to consider what further mischiefs might have ensued, if it had lasted longer. However, in the present case, I am not of the opinion above-mentioned; I believe the Church and State might have lasted somewhat longer, though the late enemies to both had done their worst: I can hardly conceive how things would have been so soon ripe for a new revolution. I am convinced, that if they had offered to make such large and sudden strides, it must have come to blows, and according to the computation we have now reason to think a right one, I can partly guess what would have been the issue. Besides, we are sure the Q[uee]n would have interposed before they came to extremities, and as little as they regarded the regal authority, would have been a check in their career.

But instead of this question; What would have been the consequence if the late ministry had continued? I will propose another, which will be more useful for us to consider; and that is, What we may reasonably expect they will do, if ever they come into power again? This, we know, is the design and endeavour of all those scribbles that daily fly about in their favour; of all the false, insolent, and scandalous libels against the present administration; and of all those engines set at work to sink the actions, and blow up the public credit. As for those who shew their inclinations by writing, there is one consideration, which I wonder does not sometimes affect them: for how can they forbear having a good opinion of the gentleness and innocence of those, who permit them to employ their pens as they do? It puts me in mind of an insolent pragmatical orator somewhere in Greece, who railing with great freedom at the chief men in the state, was answered by one who had been very instrumental in recovering the liberty of the city, that “he thanked the gods they had now arrived to the condition he always wished them, when every man in that city might securely say what they pleased.” I wish these gentlemen would however compare the liberty they take with what their masters used to give: how many messengers and warrants would have gone out against any that durst have opened their lips, or drawn their pens, against the persons and proceedings of their juntoes and cabals? How would their weekly writers have been calling out for prosecution and punishment? We remember when a poor nickname,[3] borrowed from an old play of Ben Jonson, and mentioned in a sermon without any particular application, was made use of as a motive to spur an impeachment. But after all, it must be confessed, they had reasons to be thus severe, which their successors have not: _their_ faults would never endure the light; and to have exposed them sooner, would have raised the kingdom against the actors, before the time.

But, to come to the subject I have now undertaken; which is to _examine_, what the consequences would be, upon supposition that the Whigs were now restored to their power. I already imagine the present free P[arliamen]t dissolved, and another of a different epithet met, by the force of money and management. I read immediately a dozen or two stinging votes against the proceedings of the late ministry. The bill now to be repealed would then be re-enacted, and the birthright of an Englishman reduced again to the value of twelvepence.[4] But to give the reader a stronger imagination of such a scene; let me represent the designs of some men, lately endeavoured and projected, in the form of a paper of votes.

“Ordered, That a Bill be brought in for repealing the Sacramental Test.

“A petition of T[in]d[a]l, C[o]ll[in]s, Cl[en]d[o]n, C[o]w[ar]d, T[o]l[a]nd,[5] in behalf of themselves and many hundreds of their disciples, some of which are Members of this honourable H[ouse], desiring that leave be given to bring in a Bill for qualifying Atheists, Deists and Socinians, to serve their Country in any employment.

“Ordered, That leave be given to bring in a Bill, according to the prayer of the said petition, and that Mr. L[ec]h[me]re[6] do prepare and bring it in.

“Ordered, That a Bill be brought in for removing the education of youth out of the hands of the Clergy.

“Another, to forbid the Clergy preaching certain duties in religion, especially obedience to Princes.

“Another, to take away the jurisdiction of Bishops.

“Another, for constituting a General for life; with instructions to the committee, that care may be taken to make the war last as long as the life of the said General.

“A Bill of Attainder against C[harles] D[uke] of Sh[rewsbury], J[ohn] D[uke] of B[uckingham], L[aurence] E[arl] of R[ochester], Sir S[imon] H[arcourt], k[nigh]t, R[obert] H[arley], H[enry] S[t. John],[7] Esqs; A[bigail] M[asham], spinster,[8] and others, for high treason against the j[u]nto.

“Resolved, That S[ara]h D[uchess] of M[arlborough] hath been a most dutiful, just, and grateful servant to Her M[ajest]y.

“Resolved, That to advise the dissolution of a W[hi]g Parliament, or the removal of a W[hi]g Ministry, was in order to bring in Popery and the Pretender; and that the said advice was high treason.

“Resolved, That by the original compact the Government of this Realm is by a junto, and a K[ing] or Qu[een]; but the Administration solely in the junto.

“Ordered, That a Bill be brought in for further limiting the Prerogative.

“Ordered, That it be a standing order of this H[ouse] that the merit of elections be not determined by the number of voices, or right of electors, but by weight; and that one Whig shall weigh down ten Tories.

“A motion being made, and the question being put, that when a Whig is detected of manifest bribery, and his competitor being a Tory, has ten to one a majority, there shall be a new election; it passed in the negative.

“Resolved, That for a K[ing] or Q[ueen] of this Realm, to read or examine a paper brought them to be signed by a j[un]to Minister, is arbitrary and illegal, and a violation of the liberties of the people.”

* * * * *

These and the like reformations would, in all probability, be the first fruits of the Whigs’ resurrection; and what structures such able artists might in a short time build upon such foundations, I leave others to conjecture. All hopes of a peace cut off; the nation industriously involved in further debts to a degree, that none would dare undertake the management of affairs, but those whose interest lay in ruining the constitution. I do not see how the wisest prince under such necessities could be able to extricate himself. Then, as to the Church, the bishops would by degrees be dismissed, first from the Parliament, next from their revenues, and at last from their office; and the clergy, instead of their idle claim of independency on the state, would be forced to depend for their daily bread on every individual. But what system of future government was designed; whether it were already digested, or would have been left for time and incidents to mature, I shall not now _Examine_. Only upon this occasion I cannot help reflecting on a fact, which it is probable, the reader knows as well as myself. There was a picture drawn some time ago, representing five persons as large as the life, sitting at council together like a Pentarchy. A void space was left for a sixth, which was to have been the Qu[een], to whom they intended that honour: but her M[ajest]y having since fallen under their displeasure, they have made a shift to crowd in two better friends in her place, which makes it a complete Heptarchy.[9] This piece is now in the country, reserved till better times, and hangs in a hall, among the pictures of Cromwell, Bradshaw, Ireton, and some other predecessors.

I must now desire leave to say something to a gentleman, who has been pleased to publish a discourse against a paper of mine relating to the convocation.[10] He promises to set me right, without any undue reflections or undecent language. I suppose he means in comparison with others, who pretend to answer the “Examiner”: So far he is right; but if he thinks he has behaved himself as becomes a candid antagonist, I believe he is mistaken. He says, in his title-page, my “representations are unfair, and my reflections unjust.” And his conclusion is yet more severe,[11] where he “doubts I and my friends are enraged against the Dutch, because they preserved us from Popery and arbitrary power at the Revolution; and since that time, from being overrun by the exorbitant power of France, and becoming a prey to the Pretender.” Because this author seems in general to write with an honest meaning, I would seriously put to him the question, whether he thinks I and my friends are for Popery, arbitrary power, France and the Pretender? I omit other instances of smaller moment, which however do not suit in my opinion with due reflection or decent language. The fact relating to the convocation, came from a good hand, and I do not find this author differs from me in any material circumstance about it. My reflections were no more than what might be obvious to any other gentleman, who had heard of their late proceedings. If the notion be right which this author gives us of a Lower House of Convocation, it is a very melancholy one,[12] and to me seems utterly inconsistent with that of a body of men whom he owns to have a negative; and therefore, since a great majority of the clergy differs from him in several points he advances, I shall rather choose to be of their opinion than his. I fancy, when the whole synod met in one house, as this writer affirms, they were upon a better foot with their bishops, and therefore whether this treatment so extremely _de haut en bas_, since their exclusion, be suitable to primitive custom or primitive humility towards brethren, is not my business to enquire. One may allow the divine or apostolic right of Episcopacy, and their great superiority over presbyters, and yet dispute the methods of exercising the latter, which being of human institution, are subject to encroachments and usurpations. I know, every clergyman in a diocese has a good deal of dependence upon his bishop, and owes him canonical obedience: but I was apt to think, when the whole representative of the clergy met in a synod, they were considered in another light, at least since they are allowed to have a negative. If I am mistaken, I desire to be excused, as talking out of my trade: only there is one thing wherein I entirely differ from this author. Since in the disputes about privileges, one side must recede; where so very few privileges remain, it is a hundred to one odds, the encroachments are not on the inferior clergy’s side; and no man can blame them for insisting on the small number that is left. There is one fact wherein I must take occasion to set this author right; that the person who first moved the QUEEN to remit the first-fruits and tenths to the clergy, was an eminent instrument in the late turn of affairs;[13] and as I am told, has lately prevailed to have the same favour granted for the clergy of Ireland.[14]

But I must beg leave to inform the author, that this paper is not intended for the management of controversy, which would be of very little import to most readers, and only misspend time, that I would gladly employ to better purposes. For where it is a man’s business to entertain a whole room-full, it is unmannerly to apply himself to a particular person, and turn his back upon the rest of the company.

[Footnote 1: No. 25 in the reprint. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: “They met and whispered together; and their entire aim was the confirmation of their own power and an oath for the destruction of their enemies.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: The following is the passage in Sacheverell’s sermon in which the nickname is used: “What dependence can there be upon a man of no principles? … In what moving and lively colours does the holy Psalmist paint out the crafty insidiousness of such wily Volpones!” Godolphin, in spite of Somers’s protest against such action, brought about the preacher’s impeachment, for this description of himself, as he took it. See also vol. v., p. 219 and note of present edition. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: An attempt was made to repeal the Act for Naturalizing Foreign Protestants (7 Ann. c. 5), which received the royal assent, March 23rd, 170-8/9, by a Bill which passed the House of Commons, January 31st, 171-0/1, but was thrown out by the Lords, February 5th. Persons naturalized under this Act had to pay a fee of one shilling on taking the prescribed oath of allegiance. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: See Nos. 20 and 23, _ante_, and notes pp. 118 and 141. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 6: Nicholas Lechmere (1675-1727), member for Appleby (1708-10), Cockermouth (1710-17), and Tewkesbury (1717-21), was one of the managers in the impeachment of Sacheverell. He, with Addison, Hoadly, and Minshull corrected Steele’s draft of “The Crisis” for publication. He was created Lord Lechmere in 1721, after he had held the offices of solicitor-general (1714-18) and attorney-general (1718-20). See also vol. v., p. 326 note, of present edition. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: “R.H. H.S. Esqs;” in both editions. In Faulkner’s collected reprint the second name was altered to William Shippen, and Scott follows Faulkner; but there can be no doubt that the initials were intended for St. John, since the persons named were those who succeeded to the places of the dismissed ministers. Shippen was a prominent member of the October Club, but he did not hold any public office. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: In No. 19 of “The Medley,” the writer calls “The Examiner” to account for writing Abigail Masham, _spinster_. She was then Mrs. Masham. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 9: See No. 23, _ante_, and notes p. 138. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 10: “The Case of the Present Convocation Consider’d; In Answer to the Examiner’s Unfair Representation of it, and Unjust Reflections upon it.” 1711, See note p. 129. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 11: “They [the Dutch] have a right to put us in mind, that without their assistance in 1688, Popery and arbitrary power must, without a miracle, have over-run us; and that even since that time, we must have sunk under the exorbitant power of France, and our Church and Queen must have been a prey to a Pretender imposed upon us by this exorbitant power, if that tottering commonwealth … had not heartily joined with us…. But I forget my self, and I doubt, allege those very things in their favour, for which the ‘Examiner’ and his friends, are the most enraged against them.” (“The Case,” etc., p. 24). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 12: They [_i.e._ the bishops] say that the prolocutor is “the referendary of the lower house, _i.e._ one who is to carry messages and admonitions from the upper house to the lower, and to represent their sense, and to carry their petitions to the upper: That originally the synod met all in one house in this, as it still does in the other province.” (“The Case,” etc., p. 14). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 13: Bishop Burnet had made a similar proposal to Queen Mary several years before, “so that she was fully resolved, if ever she had lived to see peace and settlement, … to have applied it to the augmentation of small benefices.” He had also laid it very fully before the Princess of Denmark in the reign of King William (“Hist. Own Times,” ii. 370).

“This very project … was first set on foot by a great minister in the last reign. It was then far advanced, and would have been finished, had he stayed but a few months longer in the ministry” (“The Case,” etc., p. 23). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 14: Swift’s own Memorial to Harley, petitioning the Queen to surrender the first-fruits in Ireland is given in Scott’s edition (vol. xv., pp. 381-4). It was on behalf of these first-fruits that Swift came to England, in 1707, on a commission from Archbishop King. Then he made his application as a Whig to a Whig government, but failing with Somers and Halifax both in this and in his hopes for advancement, he joined Harley’s fortunes. [T.S.]]

NUMB. 27.[1]


_Ea autem est gloria, laus recte factorum, magnorumque in rempublicam meritorum: Quae cum optimi cujusque, tum etiam multitudinis testimonio comprobatur._[3]

I am thinking, what a mighty advantage it is to be entertained as a writer to a ruined cause. I remember a fanatic preacher, who was inclined to come into the Church, and take orders; but upon mature thoughts was diverted from that design, when he considered that the collections of the _godly_ were a much heartier and readier penny, than he could get by wrangling for tithes. He certainly had reason, and the two cases are parallel. If you write in defence of a fallen party, you are maintained by contribution as a necessary person, you have little more to do than to carp and cavil at those who hold the pen on the other side; you are sure to be celebrated and caressed by all your party, to a man. You may affirm and deny what you please, without truth or probability, since it is but loss of time to contradict you. Besides, commiseration is often on your side, and you have a pretence to be thought honest and disinterested, for adhering to friends in distress. After which, if your party ever happens to turn up again, you have a strong fund of merit towards making your fortune. Then, you never fail to be well furnished with materials, every one bringing in his _quota_, and falsehood being naturally more plentiful than truth. Not to mention the wonderful delight of libelling men in power, and hugging yourself in a corner with mighty satisfaction for what you have done.

It is quite otherwise with us, who engage as volunteers in the service of a flourishing ministry, in full credit with the Q[uee]n, and beloved by the people, because they have no sinister ends or dangerous designs, but pursue with steadiness and resolution the true interests of both. Upon which account they little want or desire our assistance; and we may write till the world is weary of reading, without having our pretences allowed either to a place or a pension: besides, we are refused the common benefit of the party, to have our works cried up of course; the readers of our own side being as ungentle and hard to please, as if we writ against them; and our papers never make their way in the world, but barely in proportion to their merit. The design of _their_ labours who write on the conquered side, is likewise of greater importance than ours; they are like cordials for dying men, which must be repeated; whereas ours are, in the Scripture phrase, but “meat for babes”: at least, all I can pretend, is to undeceive the ignorant and those at distance; but their task is to keep up the sinking spirits of a whole party.

After such reflections, I cannot be angry with those gentlemen for perpetually writing against me: it furnishes them largely with topics, and is besides, their proper business: neither is it affectation, or altogether scorn, that I do not reply. But as things are, we both act suitable to our several provinces: mine is, by laying open some corruptions in the late management, to set those who are ignorant, right in their opinions of persons and things: it is theirs to cover with fig-leaves all the faults of their friends, as well as they can: When I have produced my facts, and offered my arguments, I have nothing farther to advance; it is their office to deny and disprove; and then let the world decide. If I were as they, my chief endeavour should certainly be to batter down the “Examiner,” therefore I cannot but approve their design, Besides, they have indeed another reason for barking incessantly at this paper: they have in their prints openly taxed a most ingenious person as author of it;[4] one who is in great and very deserved reputation with the world, both on account of his poetical works, and his talents for public business. They were wise enough to consider, what a sanction it would give their performances, to fall under the animadversion of such a pen; and have therefore used all the forms of provocation commonly practised by little obscure pedants, who are fond of distinguishing themselves by the fame of an adversary. So nice a taste have these judicious critics, in pretending to discover an author by his style and manner of thinking: not to mention the justice and candour of exhausting all the stale topics of scurrility in reviling a paper, and then flinging at a venture the whole load upon one who is entirely innocent; and whose greatest fault, perhaps, is too much gentleness toward a party, from whose leaders he has received quite contrary treatment.

The concern I have for the ease and reputation of so deserving a gentleman, hath at length forced me, much against my interest and inclination, to let these angry people know who is _not_ the author of the “Examiner.”[5] For, I observed, the opinion began to spread, and I chose rather to sacrifice the honour I received by it, than let injudicious people entitle him to a performance, that perhaps he might have reason to be ashamed of: still faithfully promising, never to disturb those worthy advocates; but suffer them in quiet to roar on at the “Examiner,” if they or their party find any ease in it; as physicians say there is, to people in torment, such as men in the gout, or women in labour.

However, I must acknowledge myself indebted to them for one hint, which I shall now pursue, though in a different manner. Since the fall of the late ministry, I have seen many papers filled with their encomiums; I conceive, in imitation of those who write the lives of famous men, where, after their deaths, immediately follow their characters. When I saw the poor virtues thus dealt at random, I thought the disposers had flung their names, like valentines into a hat, to be drawn as fortune pleased, by the j[u]nto and their friends. There, Crassus[6] drew liberty and gratitude; Fulvia,[7] humility and gentleness; Clodius,[8] piety and justice; Gracchus,[9] loyalty to his prince; Cinna,[10] love of his country and constitution; and so of the rest. Or, to quit this allegory, I have often seen of late, the whole set of discarded statesmen, celebrated by their judicious hirelings, for those very qualities which their admirers owned they chiefly wanted. Did these heroes put off and lock up their virtues when they came into employment, and have they now resumed them since their dismissions? If they wore them, I am sure it was _under_ their greatness, and without ever once convincing the world of their visibility or influence.

But why should not the present ministry find a pen to praise them as well as the last? This is what I shall now undertake, and it may be more impartial in me, from whom they have deserved so little. I have, _without being called_, served them half a year in quality of champion,[11] and by help of the Qu[een] and a majority of nine in ten of the kingdom, have been able to protect them against a routed cabal of hated politicians, with a dozen of scribblers at their head; yet so far have they been from rewarding me suitable to my deserts, that to this day they never so much as sent to the printer to enquire who I was; though I have known a time and a ministry, where a person of half my merit and consideration would have had fifty promises, and in the mean time a pension settled on him, whereof the _first quarter_ should be honestly paid. Therefore my resentments shall so far prevail, that in praising those who are now at the head of affairs, I shall at the same time take notice of their defects.

Was any man more eminent in his profession than the present l[or]d k[eepe]r,[12] or more distinguished by his eloquence and great abilities in the House of Commons? And will not his enemies allow him to be fully equal to the great station he now adorns? But then it must be granted, that he is wholly ignorant in the speculative as well as practical part of polygamy: he knows not how to metamorphose a sober man into a lunatic:[13] he is no freethinker in religion, nor has courage to be patron of an atheistical book,[14] while he is guardian of the Qu[een]’s conscience. Though after all, to speak my private opinion, I cannot think these such mighty objections to his character, as some would pretend.

The person who now presides at the council,[15] is descended from a great and honourable father, not from the dregs of the people; he was at the head of the treasury for some years, and rather chose to enrich his prince than himself. In the height of favour and credit, he sacrificed the greatest employment in the kingdom to his conscience and honour: he has been always firm in his loyalty and religion, zealous for supporting the prerogative of the crown, and preserving the liberties of the people. But then, his best friends must own that he is neither Deist nor Socinian: he has never conversed with T[o]l[a]nd, to open and enlarge his thoughts, and dispel the prejudices of education; nor was he ever able to arrive at that perfection of gallantry, to ruin and imprison the husband, in order to keep the wife without disturbance.[16]

The present l[or]d st[ewa]rd[17] has been always distinguished for his wit and knowledge; is of consummate wisdom and experience in affairs; has continued constant to the true interest of the nation, which he espoused from the beginning, and is every way qualified to support the dignity of his office: but in point of oratory must give place to his predecessor.[18]

The D. of Sh[rewsbur]y[19] was highly instrumental in bringing about the Revolution, in which service he freely exposed his life and fortune. He has ever been the favourite of the nation, being possessed of all the amiable qualities that can accomplish a great man; but in the agreeableness and fragrancy of his person, and the profoundness of his politics, must be allowed to fall very short of —-.[20]

Mr. H[arley] had the honour of being chosen Speaker successively to three Parliaments;[21] he was the first of late years, that ventured to restore the forgotten custom of treating his PRINCE with duty and respect. Easy and disengaged in private conversation, with such a weight of affairs upon his shoulders;[22] of great learning, and as great a favourer and protector of it; intrepid by nature, as well as by the consciousness of his own integrity, and a despiser of money; pursuing the true interest of his PRINCE and country against all obstacles. Sagacious to view into the remotest consequences of things, by which all difficulties fly before him. A firm friend, and a placable enemy, sacrificing his justest resentments, not only to public good, but to common intercession and acknowledgment. Yet with all these virtues it must be granted, there is some mixture of human infirmity: His greatest admirers must confess his skill at cards and dice to be very low and superficial: in horse-racing he is utterly ignorant:[23] then, to save a few millions to the public, he never regards how many worthy citizens he hinders from making up their plum. And surely there is one thing never to be forgiven him, that he delights to have his table filled with black coats, whom he uses as if they were gentlemen.

My Lord D[artmouth][24] is a man of letters, full of good sense, good nature and honour, of strict virtue and regularity in life; but labours under one great defect, that he treats his clerks with more civility and good manners, than others, in his station, have done the Qu[een].[25]

Omitting some others, I will close this character of the present ministry, with that of Mr. S[t. John],[26] who from his youth applying those admirable talents of nature and improvements of art to public business, grew eminent in court and Parliament at an age when the generality of mankind is employed in trifles and folly. It is to be lamented, that he has not yet procured himself a busy, important countenance, nor learned that profound part of wisdom, to be difficult of access. Besides, he has clearly mistaken the true use of books, which he has thumbed and spoiled with reading, when he ought to have multiplied them on his shelves:[27] not like a great man of my acquaintance, who knew a book by the back, better than a friend by the face, though he had never conversed with the former, and often with the latter.

[Footnote 1: No. 26 in the reprint. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: Writing to Stella, under date February 3rd, 1710/1, Swift says: “They are plaguy Whigs, especially the sister Armstrong [Mrs. Armstrong, Lady Lucy’s sister], the most insupportable of all women pretending to wit, without any taste. She was running down the last ‘Examiner,’ the prettiest I had read, with a character of the present ministry” (vol. ii., p. 112 of present edition.) [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: “For that is true glory and praise for noble deeds that deserve well of the state, when they not only win the approval of the best men but also that of the multitude.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: It was reported that the author of “The Examiner” was Matthew Prior, late under-secretary of state. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: To Stella Swift wrote in his “Journal,” under date February 9th:–“The account you give of that weekly paper [_i.e._ ‘The Examiner,’] agrees with us here. Mr. Prior was like to be insulted in the street for being supposed the author of it, but one of the last papers cleared him. Nobody knows who it is, but those few in the secret. I suppose the ministry and the printer” (vol. ii., p. 116 of present edition).]

[Footnote 6: The Duke of Marlborough. See “The Examiner,” No. 28, p. 177. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: The Duchess of Marlborough. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: Earl of Wharton, notorious for his profligacy. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 9: This may refer to Godolphin. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 10: Probably Earl Cowper. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 11: This applies to the paper. “The Examiner” had existed for six months, but Swift had written it for only three months, at this time. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 12: Sir Simon Harcourt (1661?-1727) who was lord chancellor, 1713-14. He was made lord keeper, October 19th, 1710, after Cowper resigned the chancellorship. In the Sacheverell trial Harcourt was the doctor’s counsel. He was created Baron Harcourt in 1711. See also note on p. 213 of vol. v. of present edition. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 13: This refers to the case of Richard, fifth Viscount Wenman, against whom Cowper, in 1709, granted a commission of lunacy. He was under the care of Francis Wroughton, Esq., whose sister, Susannah, he had married in the early part of 1709. His brother-in-law sued him for payment of his sister’s portion, and asked that trustees be appointed for his estate. Cowper decided against Wenman, and the commission granted.

The case is referred to in No. 40 of “The Tatler” (July 12th, 1709). Campbell says (“Chancellors,” iv. 330) the commission “very properly issued.” Luttrell in his “Diary” (July 30th, 1709) notes that “the jury yesterday brought it in that he [Wenman] was no idiot” (vi. 470). Lord Wenman died November 28th, 1729. See also Nos. 18 and 23, _ante_, and note, p. 101. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 14: Tindal dedicated to Cowper “a pious work which was not altogether orthodox” (Campbell’s “Chancellors,” iv. 330). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 15: Laurence Hyde (1641-1711), created Earl of Rochester in 1682, was appointed lord president of the council, September 21st, 1710, succeeding Somers. See also No. 41, _post._ Swift unkindly sneers at Somers’s low birth. See note on Somers on p. 29 of vol. i. of present edition. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 16: Mrs. Manley, in her “Memoirs of Europe towards the Close of the Eighth Century,” has something very characteristic to say on this subject. Speaking of Somers under the name Cicero, she says: “Cicero, Madam, is by birth a plebeian” … “Cicero himself, an oracle of wisdom, was whirled about by his lusts, at the pleasure of a fantastic worn-out mistress. He prostituted his inimitable sense, reason, and good nature, either to revenge, or reward, as her caprice directed; and what made this commerce more detestable, this mistress of his was a wife!” … “that she was the wife of an injured friend! a friend who passionately loved her, and had tenderly obliged him, rather heightened his desires” (i., 200; ii., 54, 83). The mistress is said to be Mrs. Blunt, daughter of Sir R. Fanshaw. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 17: John Sheffield (1647-1721), third Earl of Mulgrave, was created Marquess of Normanby, 1694, and Duke of Buckingham and Normanby in 1702/3. He succeeded the Duke of Devonshire as lord steward of the household on September 21st, 1710. He was the author of a poetical “Essay on Poetry,” and an interesting prose “Account of the Revolution.” As patron to Dryden he received the dedication of that poet’s “Aurengzebe.” Pope edited his collected works in 1722-23. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 18: William Cavendish (1673?-1729) succeeded his father as second Duke of Devonshire in 1707. He was lord steward, 1707-10, and lord president, 1716-17.]

[Footnote 19: Charles Talbot, Duke of Shrewsbury, is styled by Swift elsewhere (Letter to Archbishop King, October 20th, 1713; Scott’s edition, xvi. 71), “the finest gentleman we have” (see note on p. 377 of vol. v. of present edition). He was lord chamberlain, 1710-14. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 20: Henry de Grey (1664?-1740) succeeded his father as eleventh Earl of Kent in 1702. He was created Marquess of Kent, 1706, and Duke of Kent, 1710. He held the office of lord chamberlain of the household from 1704 to 1710. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 21: Harley was first chosen Speaker, February 10th, 1700/1, for a Parliament that lasted nine months; then again, December 30th, 1701, for a Parliament that lasted only six months; and finally October 20th or 21st, 1702. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 22: “The Queen dismissed the Earl of Godolphin from being lord treasurer, and put the treasury in commission: Lord Powlet was the first in form, but Mr. Harley was the person with whom the secret was lodged” (Burnet, “Own Times,” ii. 552-3). He was appointed August 10th, 1710. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 23: Godolphin was very devoted to the turf. See Swift’s poem entitled, “The Virtues of Sid Hamet’s Rod” (Aldine edition, iii. 10). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 24: William Legge (1672-1750) succeeded his father as second Lord Dartmouth in 1691, and was created Earl of Dartmouth in 1711. On June 14th, 1710, he was appointed secretary of state in place of the Earl of Sunderland. See note on p. 229 of vol. v. of present edition. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 25: The Earl of Sunderland was rude and overbearing in his manner towards the Queen. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 26: Henry St. John (1678-1751) was created Viscount Bolingbroke in 1712. He was secretary of war, 1704-1708, and secretary of state, 1710-14. In 1715 he was attainted and left England to enter the service of the Pretender. See also Swift’s “An Enquiry,” etc. (vol. v., p. 430 of present edition). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 27: “Those more early acquaintance of yours, your books, which a friend of ours once wittily said, ‘Your L–p had mistaken the true use of, by thumbing and spoiling them with reading'” (“A Letter to the Rt. Hon. the Ld. Viscount B–ke,” 1714-15). [T.S.]]

NUMB. 28.[1]


_Caput est in omni procuratione negotii et muneris publici, ut avaritiae pellatur etiam minima suspicio._[2]

There is no vice which mankind carries to such wild extremes as that of avarice: Those two which seem to rival it in this point, are lust and ambition: but, the former is checked by difficulties and diseases, destroys itself by its own pursuits, and usually declines with old age: and the latter requiring courage, conduct and fortune in a high degree, and meeting with a thousand dangers and oppositions, succeeds too seldom in an age to fall under common observation. Or, is avarice perhaps the same passion with ambition, only placed in more ignoble and dastardly minds, by which the object is changed from power to money? Or it may be, that one man pursues power in order to wealth, and another wealth in order to power; which last is the safer way, though longer about, and suiting with every period as well as condition of life, is more generally followed.

However it be, the extremes of this passion are certainly more frequent than of any other, and often to a degree so absurd and ridiculous, that if it were not for their frequency, they could hardly obtain belief. The _stage_, which carries other follies and vices beyond nature and probability, falls very short in the representations of avarice; nor are there any extravagances in this kind described by ancient or modern comedies, which are not outdone by an hundred instances, commonly told, among ourselves.

I am ready to conclude from hence, that a vice which keeps so firm a hold upon human nature, and governs it with so unlimited a tyranny, since it cannot be wholly eradicated, ought at least to be confined to particular objects, to thrift and penury, to private fraud and extortion, and never suffered to prey upon the public; and should certainly be rejected as the most unqualifying circumstance for any employment, where bribery and corruption can possibly enter.

If the mischiefs of this vice, in a public station, were confined to enriching only those particular persons employed, the evil would be more supportable; but it is usually quite otherwise. When a steward defrauds his lord, he must connive at the rest of the servants, while they are following the same practice in their several spheres; so that in some families you may observe a subordination of knaves in a link downwards to the very helper in the stables, all cheating by concert, and with impunity: And even if this were all, perhaps the master could bear it without being undone; but it so happens, that for every shilling the servant gets by his iniquity, the master loses twenty; the perquisites of servants being but small compositions for suffering shopkeepers to bring in what bills they please.[3] It is exactly the same thing in a state: an avaricious man in office is in confederacy with the whole _clan_ of his district or dependence, which in modern terms of art is called, “To live, and let live;” and yet _their_ gains are the smallest part of the public’s loss. Give a guinea to a knavish land-waiter, and he shall connive at the merchant for cheating the Queen of an hundred. A brewer gives a bribe to have the privilege of selling drink to the Navy; but the fraud is ten times greater than the bribe, and the public is at the whole loss.[4]

Moralists make two kinds of avarice; that of Catiline, _alieni appetens, sui profusus;_[5] and the other more generally understood by that name; which is, the endless desire of hoarding: But I take the former to be more dangerous in a state, because it mingles well with ambition, which I think the latter cannot; for though the same breast may be capable of admitting both, it is not able to cultivate them; and where the love of heaping wealth prevails, there is not in my opinion, much to be apprehended from ambition. The disgrace of that sordid vice is sooner apt to spread than any other, and is always attended with the hatred and scorn of the people: so that whenever those two passions happen to meet in the same subject, it is not unlikely that Providence hath placed avarice to be a check upon ambition; and I have reason to think, some great ministers of state have been of my opinion.

The divine authority of Holy Writ, the precepts of philosophers, the lashes and ridicule of satirical poets, have been all employed in exploding this insatiable thirst of money, and all equally controlled by the daily practice of mankind. Nothing new remains to be said upon the occasion, and if there did, I must remember my character, that I am an _Examiner_ only, and not a Reformer.

However, in those cases where the frailties of particular men do nearly affect the public welfare, such as a prime minister of state, or a great general of an army; methinks there should be some expedient contrived, to let them know impartially what is the world’s opinion in the point: Encompassed with a crowd of depending flatterers, they are many degrees blinder to their own faults than the common infirmities of human nature can plead in their excuse; Advice dares not be offered, or is wholly lost, or returned with hatred: and whatever appears in public against their prevailing vice, goes for nothing; being either not applied, or passing only for libel and slander, proceeding from the malice and envy of a party.

I have sometimes thought, that if I had lived at Rome in the time of the first Triumvirate, I should have been tempted to write a letter, as from an unknown hand, to those three great men, who had then usurped the sovereign power; wherein I would freely and sincerely tell each of them that fault which I conceived was most odious, and of most consequence to the commonwealth: That, to Crassus, should have been sent to him after his conquests in Mesopotamia, and in the following terms.[6]

“_To Marcus Crassus, health._

“_If you apply as you ought, what I now write,[7] you will be more obliged to me than to all the world, hardly excepting your parents or your country. I intend to tell you, without disguise or prejudice, the opinion which the world has entertained of you: and to let you see I write this without any sort of ill will, you shall first hear the sentiments they have to your advantage. No man disputes the gracefulness of your person; you are allowed to have a good and clear understanding, cultivated by the knowledge of men and manners, though not by literature. You are no ill orator in the Senate; you are said to excel in the art of bridling and subduing your anger, and stifling or concealing your resentments. You have been a most successful general, of long experience, great conduct, and much personal courage. You have gained many important victories for the commonwealth, and forced the strongest towns in Mesopotamia to surrender, for which frequent supplications have been decreed by the Senate. Yet with all these qualities, and this merit, give me leave to say, you are neither beloved by the patricians, or plebeians at home, nor by the officers or private soldiers of your own army abroad: And, do you know, Crassus, that this is owing to a fault, of which you may cure yourself, by one minutes reflection? What shall I say? You are the richest person in the commonwealth; you have no male child, your daughters are all married to wealthy patricians; you are far in the decline of life; and yet you are deeply stained with that odious and ignoble vice of covetousness:[8] It is affirmed, that you descend even to the meanest and most scandalous degrees of it; and while you possess so many millions, while you are daily acquiring so many more, you are solicitous how to save a single sesterce, of which a hundred ignominious instances are produced, and in all men’s mouths. I will only mention that passage of the buskins,[9] which after abundance of persuasion, you would hardly suffer to be cut from your legs, when they were so wet and cold, that to have kept them on, would have endangered your life.

“Instead of using the common arguments to dissuade you from this weakness, I will endeavour to convince you, that you are really guilty of it, and leave the cure to your own good sense. For perhaps, you are not yet persuaded that this is your crime, you have probably never yet been reproached for it to your face, and what you are now told, comes from one unknown, and it may be, from an enemy. You will allow yourself indeed to be prudent in the management of your fortune; you are not a prodigal, like Clodius[10] or Catiline, but surely that deserves not the name of avarice. I will inform you how to be convinced. Disguise your person; go among the common people in Rome; introduce discourses about yourself; inquire your own character; do the same in your camp, walk about it in the evening, hearken at every tent, and if you do not hear every mouth censuring, lamenting, cursing this vice in you, and even you for this vice, conclude yourself innocent. If you are not yet persuaded, send for Atticus,[11] Servius Sulpicius, Cato or Brutus, they are all your friends; conjure them to tell you ingenuously which is your great fault, and which they would chiefly wish you to correct; if they do not all agree in their verdict, in the name of all the gods, you are acquitted.

“When your adversaries reflect how far you are gone in this vice, they are tempted to talk as if we owed our success, not to your courage or conduct, but to those veteran troops you command, who are able to conquer under any general, with so many brave and experienced officers to lead them. Besides, we know the consequences your avarice hath often occasioned. The soldier hath been starving for bread, surrounded with plenty, and in an enemy’s country, but all under safeguards and contributions; which if you had sometimes pleased to have exchanged for provisions, might at the expense of a few talents in a campaign, have so endeared you to the army, that they would have desired you to lead them to the utmost limits of Asia. But you rather chose to confine your conquests within the fruitful country of Mesopotamia, where plenty of money might be raised. How far that fatal greediness of gold may have influenced you, in breaking off the treaty[12] with the old Parthian King Orodes,[13] you best can tell; your enemies charge you with it, your friends offer nothing material in your defence; and all agree, there is nothing so pernicious, which the extremes of avarice may not be able to inspire.

“The moment you quit this vice, you will be a truly great man; and still there will imperfections enough remain to convince us, you are not a god. Farewell.”_

Perhaps a letter of this nature, sent to so reasonable a man as Crassus, might have put him upon _Examining_ into himself, and correcting that little sordid appetite, so utterly inconsistent with all pretences to a hero. A youth in the heat of blood may plead with some shew of reason, that he is not able to subdue his lusts; An ambitious man may use the same arguments for his love of power, or perhaps other arguments to justify it. But, excess of avarice hath neither of these pleas to offer; it is not to be justified, and cannot pretend temptation for excuse: Whence can the temptation come? Reason disclaims it altogether, and it cannot be said to lodge in the blood, or the animal spirits. So that I conclude, no man of true valour and true understanding, upon whom this vice has stolen unawares, when he is convinced he is guilty, will suffer it to remain in his breast an hour.

[Footnote 1: No. 27 in the reprint. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: “It is of the greatest importance in the discharge of every office of trade, or of the public treasury, that the least suspicion of avarice should be avoided.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: The Commissioners for examining the public accounts reported to the House of Commons (December 21st, 1711) that the Duke of Marlborough had received from Sir Solomon de Medina (army contractor for bread) and his predecessor, during the years 1702 to 1711, a sum of L63,319 3s. 7d. “In this report was contained the deposition of Sir Solomon Medina, charging the Duke of Marlborough and Adam Cardonell, his secretary, of various peculations, with regard to the contracts for bread and bread-wagons for the army in Flanders.” The Duke admitted the fact in a letter to the Queen, dated November 10th, 1711, but said that the whole sum had “been constantly employed for the service of the public, in keeping secret correspondence, and in getting intelligence of the enemy’s motions and designs” (Macpherson’s “Great Britain,” ii. 512; Tindal’s “History,” iv. 232; and “Journals of House of Commons,” xvii. 16). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: See the remarks in No. 39, _post_, p.250. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: Sallust, “Catiline,” 5. “Greedy of what was not his own, lavish of what was.” Catiline was extravagant and profligate, and quite unscrupulous in the pursuit of his many pleasures. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 6: A most severe censure on the Duke of Marlborough. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: Commenting on this “The Medley” (No. 20, February 12th, 1711) remarks: “Of all that ever made it their business to defame, there never was such a bungler sure as my friend. He writes a letter now to Crassus, as a man marked out for destruction, because that hint was given him six months ago; and does not seem to know yet that he is still employed, and that in attacking him, he affronts the Q[uee]n.”

Writing to Stella, under date February 18th, Swift says: “Lord Rivers, talking to me the other day, cursed the paper called ‘The Examiner,’ for speaking civilly of the Duke of Marlborough: this I happened to talk of to the Secretary [St. John], who blamed the warmth of that lord, and some others, and swore, that, if their advice were followed, they would be blown up in twenty-four hours” (vol. ii., p. 123 of present edition). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: To Stella Swift writes somewhat later (March 7th): “Yes, I do read the ‘Examiners,’ and they are written very finely as you judge. I do not think they are too severe on the Duke; they only tax him of avarice, and his avarice has ruined us. You may count upon all things in them to be true. The author has said, it is not Prior; but perhaps it may be Atterbury” (vol. ii., p. 133 of present edition). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 9: Wet stockings. [FAULKNER.]]

[Footnote 10: Clodius Albinus, the Roman general, died 197 A.D. The reference here is to the Earl of Wharton (see No. 27, _ante_, p. 169). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 11: T. Pomponius Atticus, the friend and correspondent of Cicero. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 12: The Treaty of Gertruydenberg (see No. 14, _ante_, and note on p. 77; see also note on pp. 201-2 of vol. v. of present edition). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 13: Orodes I. (Arsaces XIV.), King of Parthia, defeated Crassus, B.C. 53. [T.S.]]

NUMB. 29.[1]


_Inultus ut tu riseris Cotyttia?_[2]

An Answer to the “Letter to the Examiner.”[3]

London, Feb. 15, 1710/11.


Though I have wanted leisure to acknowledge the honour of a letter you were pleased to write to me about six months ago; yet I have been very careful in obeying some of your commands, and am going on as fast as I can with the rest. I wish you had thought fit to have conveyed them to me by a more private hand, than that of the printing-house: for though I was pleased with a pattern of style and spirit which I proposed to imitate, yet I was sorry the world should be a witness how far I fell short in both.

I am afraid you did not consider what an abundance of work you have cut out for me; neither am I at all comforted by the promise you are so kind to make, that when I have performed my task,[4] “D[olbe]n shall blush in his grave among the dead, W[alpo]le among the living, and even Vol[pon]e shall feel some remorse.” How the gentleman in his grave may have kept his countenance, I cannot inform you, having no acquaintance at all with the sexton; but for the other two, I take leave to assure you, there have not yet appeared the least signs of blushing or remorse in either, though some very good opportunities have offered, if they had thought fit to accept them; so that with your permission, I had rather engage to continue this work till they are in their graves too, which I am sure will happen much sooner than the other.

You desire I would collect “some of those indignities offered last year to her M[ajest]y.” I am ready to oblige you; and have got a pretty tolerable collection by me, which I am in doubt whether to publish by itself in a large volume in folio, or scatter them here and there occasionally in my papers. Though indeed I am sometimes thinking to stifle them altogether; because such a history will be apt to give foreigners a monstrous opinion of our country. But since it is your absolute opinion, the world should be informed; I will with the first occasion pick out a few choice instances, and let them take their chance in the ensuing papers. I have likewise in my cabinet certain quires of paper filled with facts of corruption, mismanagement, cowardice, treachery, avarice, ambition, and the like, with an alphabetical table, to save trouble. And perhaps you will not wonder at the care I take to be so well provided, when you consider the vast expense I am at: I feed weekly two or three wit-starved writers, who have no other visible support; besides several others that live upon my offals. In short, I am like a nurse who suckles twins at one time, and has likewise one or two whelps constantly to draw her breasts.

I must needs confess, (and it is with grief I speak it) that I have been the innocent cause of a great circulation of dullness: at the same time, I have often wondered how it has come to pass, that these industrious people, after poring so constantly upon the “Examiner,”[5] a paper writ with plain sense, and in a tolerable style, have made so little improvement. I am sure it would have fallen out quite otherwise with me; for, by what I have seen of their performances (and I am credibly informed they are all of a piece) if I had perused them till now, I should have been fit for little but to make an advocate in the same cause.

You, Sir, perhaps will wonder, as most others do, what end these angry folks propose, in writing perpetually against the “Examiner”: it is not to beget a better opinion of the late ministry, or with any hope to convince the world that I am in the wrong in any one fact I relate; they know all that to be lost labour; and yet their design is important enough: they would fain provoke me by all sort of methods, within the length of their capacity, to answer their papers; which would render mine wholly useless to the public; for if it once came to rejoinder and reply, we should be all upon a level, and then their work would be done.

There is one gentleman indeed, who has written three small pamphlets upon “the Management of the War,” and “the Treaty of Peace:”[6] These I had intended to have bestowed a paper in _Examining_, and could easily have made it appear, that whatever he says of truth, relates nothing at all to the evils we complain of, or controls one syllable of what I have ever advanced. Nobody that I know of did ever dispute the Duke of M[arlboroug]h’s courage, conduct or success, they have been always unquestionable, and will continue to be so, in spite of the malice of his enemies, or, which is yet more, the _weakness of his advocates_. The nation only wished to see him taken out of ill hands, and put into better. But, what is all this to the conduct of the late m[i]n[i]stry, the shameful mismanagements in Spain, or the wrong steps in the treaty of peace, the secret of which will not bear the light, and is consequently by this author very poorly defended? These and many other things I would have shewn; but upon second thoughts determined to have done it in a discourse by itself,[7] rather than take up room here, and break into the design of this paper, from whence I have resolved to banish controversy as much as possible. But the postscript to his third pamphlet was enough to disgust me from having any dealings at all with such a writer; unless that part was left to some footman[8] he had picked up among the boys who follow the camp, whose character it would suit much better than that of the supposed author.[9] At least, the foul language, the idle impotent menace, and the gross perverting of an innocent expression in the 4th “Examiner,”[10] joined to that respect I shall ever have for the function of a divine, would incline me to believe so. But when he turns off his footman, and disclaims that postscript, I will tear it out, and see how far the rest deserves to be considered.

But, Sir, I labour under a much greater difficulty, upon which I should be glad to hear your advice. I am worried on one side by the Whigs for being too severe, and by the Tories on the other for being too gentle. I have formerly hinted a complaint of this; but having lately received two peculiar letters, among many others, I thought nothing could better represent my condition, or the opinion which the warm men of both sides have of my conduct, than to send you a transcript of each. The former is exactly in these words.

“_To the ‘Examiner.’_


“_By your continual reflecting upon the conduct of the late m[i]n[i]stry, and by your encomiums on the present, it is as clear as the sun at noon- day, that your are a Jesuit or Nonjuror, employed by the friends of the Pretender, to endeavour to introduce Popery, and slavery, and arbitrary power, and to infringe the sacred Act of Toleration of Dissenters. Now, Sir, since the most ingenious authors who write weekly against you, are not able to teach you better manners, I would have you to know, that those great and excellent men, as low as you think them at present, do not want friends that will take the first proper occasion to cut your throat, as all such enemies to moderation ought to be served. It is well you have cleared another person[11] from being author of your cursed libels; though d–mme, perhaps after all, that may be a bamboozle too. However I hope we shall soon ferret you out. Therefore I advise you as a friend, to let fall your pen, and retire betimes; for our patience is now at an end. It is enough to lose our power and employments, without setting the whole nation against us. Consider three years is the life of a party; and d–mme, every dog has his day, and it will be our turn next; therefore take warning, and learn to sleep in a whole skin, or whenever we are uppermost, by G–d you shall find no mercy._”

The other letter was in the following terms.

“_To the ‘Examiner.’_


“_I am a country member, and constantly send a dozen of your papers down to my electors. I have read them all, but I confess not with the satisfaction I expected. It is plain you know a great deal more than you write; why will you not let us have it all out? We are told, that the Qu[een] has been a long time treated with insolence by those she has most obliged; Pray, Sir, let us have a few good stories upon that head. We have been cheated of several millions; why will you not set a mark on the knaves who are guilty, and shew us what ways they took to rob the public at such a rate? Inform us how we came to be disappointed of peace about two years ago: In short, turn the whole mystery of iniquity inside-out, that every body may have a view of it. But above all, explain to us, what was at the bottom of that same impeachment: I am sure I never liked it; for at that very time, a dissenting preacher in our neighbourhood, came often to see our parson; it could be for no good, for he would walk about the barns and stables, and desire to look into the church, as who should say, These will shortly be mine; and we all believed he was then contriving some alterations against he got into possession: And I shall never forget, that a Whig justice offered me then very high for my bishop’s lease. I must be so bold to tell you, Sir, that you are too favourable: I am sure, there was no living in quiet for us while they were in the saddle. I was turned out of the commission, and called a Jacobite, though it cost me a thousand pound in joining with the Prince of Orange at the Revolution. The discoveries I would have you make, are of some facts for which they ought to be hanged; not that I value their heads, but I would see them exposed, which may be done upon the owners’ shoulders, as well as upon a pole, &c.”_

These, Sir, are the sentiments of a whole party on one side, and of considerable numbers on the other: however, taking the _medium_ between these extremes, I think to go on as I have hitherto done, though I am sensible my paper would be more popular, if I did not lean too much to the favourable side. For nothing delights the people more than to see their oppressors humbled, and all their actions, painted with proper colours, set out in open view. _Exactos tyrannos densum humeris bibit aure vulgus._[12]

But as for the Whigs, I am in some doubt whether this mighty concern they shew for the honour of the late ministry, may not be affected, at least whether their masters will thank them for their zeal in such a cause. It is I think, a known story of a gentleman who fought another for calling him “son of a whore;” but the lady desired her son to make no more quarrels upon that subject, _because it was true_. For pray, Sir; does it not look like a jest, that such a pernicious crew, after draining our wealth, and discovering the most destructive designs against our Church and State, instead of thanking fortune that they are got off safe in their persons and plunder, should hire these bullies of the pen to defend their reputations? I remember I thought it the hardest case in the world, when a poor acquaintance of mine, having fallen among sharpers, where he lost all his money, and then complaining he was cheated, got a good beating into the bargain, for offering to affront gentlemen. I believe the only reason why these purloiners of the public, cause such a clutter to be made about their reputations, is to prevent inquisitions, that might tend towards making them refund: like those women they call shoplifters, who when they are challenged for their thefts, appear to be mighty angry and affronted, for fear of being searched.

I will dismiss you, Sir, when I have taken notice of one particular. Perhaps you may have observed in the tolerated factious papers of the week, that the E[arl] of R[ochester][13] is frequently reflected on for having been ecclesiastical commissioner and lord treasurer, in the reign of the late King James. The fact is true; and it will not be denied to his immortal honour, that because he could not comply with the measures then taking, he resigned both those employments; of which the latter was immediately supplied by a commission, composed of two popish lords and the present E[ar]l of G[o]d[o]l[phi]n.[14]

[Footnote 1: No. 28 in the reprint. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: Horace, “Epodes,” xvii. 56.

“Safely shalt thou Cotytto’s rites
Divulge?”–J. DUNCOMBE.


[Footnote 3: “A Letter to the Examiner. Printed in the year, 1710,” appeared shortly after the issue of the second number of “The Examiner.” It was attributed to St. John. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: The writer of the “Letter” invited the “Examiner” to “paint … the present state of the war abroad, and expose to public view those principles upon which, of late, it has been carried on … Collect some few of the indignities which have been this year offered to her Majesty…. When this is done, D—-n shall blush in his grave among the dead, W—-le among the living, and even Vol—-e shall feel some remorse.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: “The Medley” treated “The Examiner” with scant courtesy, and never failed to cast ridicule on its work. In No. 21 (February 19th, 1711) the writer says: “No man of common sense ever thought any body wrote the paper but Abel Roper, or some of his allies, there being not one quality in ‘The Examiner’ which Abel has not eminently distinguished himself by since he set up for a political writer. ‘Tis true, Abel is the more modest of the two, and it never entered into his head to say, as my friend does of his paper, ‘Tis writ with plain sense and in a tolerable style.'” In No. 23 (March 5th) he says: “There is indeed a great resemblance between his brother Abel and himself; and I find a great dispute among the party, to which of them to give the preference. They are both news writers, as they utter things which no body ever heard of _but from their papers_.”

Abel Roper conducted the Tory paper called “The Post Boy.” (See note on p. 290 of vol. v. of present edition.) [T.S.] ]

[Footnote 6: Two of these pamphlets were already referred to in a postscript to No. 24 of “The Examiner” (see note, p. 151). The third was “The Negotiations for a Treaty of Peace, in 1709. Consider’d, In a Third Letter to a Tory-Member. Part the First.” Dated December 22nd, 1710, The “Fourth Letter” was dated January 10th, 1710/11. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: It may be that Swift’s intention was carried out in two pamphlets, one entitled, “An Examination of the Management of the War. In a Letter to My Lord * * *,” published March 3rd, 1710/1; and the other styled, “An Examination of the Third and Fourth Letters to a Tory Member, relating to the Negociations for a Treaty of Peace in 1709. In a Second Letter to My Lord * * *” [With a Postscript to the Medley’s Footman], published March 15th of the same year. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: The postscript to “An Examination of the Third and Fourth Letters” mentions a pamphlet, “An Answer to the Examination of the Management of the War,” by the Medley’s Footman. “The Medley,” No. 21 (February 19th), remarks: “He could also prove there were wrong steps in the Treaty of Peace, the Allies would have all; but he won’t do it, because he is treated like a footman.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 9: _I. e._ Dr. Francis Hare. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 10: Dr. Hare, in the postscript to his third pamphlet, said: “The Examiner is extremely mistaken, if he thinks I shall enter the lists with so prostitute a writer, who can neither speak truth, nor knows when he hears it.” He calls the writer “a mercenary scribbler,” and speaks of his paper as “weekly libels.” He then quotes an expression from the fourth number (published before Swift undertook “The Examiner”), and concludes by saying that he had met more than his match in the ingenious writer of “The Medley,” even were he much abler than he is.

The fourth “Examiner” had printed a “Letter from the Country,” in which the following passage occurs: “Can any wise people think it possible, that the Crown should be so mad as to choose ministers, who would not support public credit? … This is such a wildness as is never … to be met with in the Roman story; except in a devouring Sejanus at home, or an ambitious Catiline at the head of a mercenary army.”

The writer of “An Examination of the Third and Fourth Letters,” says: “The words indeed are in the paper quoted, that is, ‘The Examiner,’ No. 4, but the application is certainly the proper thought of the author of the postscript” (p. 28). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 11: _I. e._ Prior. See No. 27, p. 168. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 12: Horace, “Odes,” II. xiii. 31-2. “Tyrants slain,
In thicker crowds the shadowy throng Drink deeper down the martial song.”–P. FRANCIS. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 13: Laurence Hyde, Earl of Rochester, was lord treasurer from 168 4/5 to 168 6/7, when five commissioners were appointed: Lord Belasyse, Lord Godolphin, Lord Dover, Sir John Ernle (chancellor of the exchequer), and Sir Stephen Foxe. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 14: “The Medley,” No. 22 (February 26th, 1711) remarks on this: “He might have said with as much truth, ’twas supplied by my Lord G—- and two Protestant knights, Sir Stephen Fox and Sir John Ernle.” [T.S.]]

NUMB. 30.[1]


_Laus summa in fortunae bonis, non extulisse se in potestate, non fuisse insolentem in pecunia, non se praetulisse aliis propter abundantiam fortunae._[2]

I am conscious to myself that I write this paper with no other intention but that of doing good: I never received injury from the late ministry, nor advantage from the present, further than in common with every good subject. There were among the former one or two, who must be allowed to have possessed very valuable qualities; but proceeding by a system of politics, which our constitution could not suffer; and discovering a contempt of all religion, but especially of that which hath been so happily established among us ever since the Reformation, they seem to have been justly suspected of no very good inclinations to either.

It is possible, that a man may speculatively prefer the constitution of another country, or an Utopia of his own, before that of the nation where he is born and lives; yet from considering the dangers of innovation, the corruptions of mankind, and the frequent impossibility of reducing ideas to practice, he may join heartily in preserving the present order of things, and be a true friend to the government already settled. So in religion; a man may perhaps have little or none of it at heart; yet if he conceals his opinions, if he endeavours to make no proselytes, advances no impious tenets in writing or discourse: if, according to the common atheistical notion, he believes religion to be only a contrivance of politicians for keeping the vulgar in awe, and that the present model is better adjusted than any other to so useful an end: though the condition of such a man as to his own future state be very deplorable; yet Providence, which often works good out of evil, can make even such a man an instrument for contributing toward the preservation of the Church.

On the other side, I take a state to be truly in danger, both as to its religion and government, when a set of ambitious politicians, bred up in a hatred to the constitution, and a contempt for all religion, are forced upon exerting these qualities in order to keep or increase their power, by widening their bottom, and taking in (like Mahomet) some principles from every party, that is any way discontented at the present faith and settlement; which was manifestly our case. Upon this occasion I remember to have asked some considerable Whigs, whether it did not bring a disreputation upon their body, to have the whole herd of Presbyterians, Independents, Atheists, Anabaptists, Deists, Quakers and Socinians, openly and universally listed under their banners? They answered, that all this was absolutely necessary, in order to make a balance against the Tories, and all little enough: for indeed, it was as much as they could possibly do, though assisted with the absolute power of disposing every employment; while the bulk of English gentry kept firm to their old principles in Church and State.

But notwithstanding whatever I have hitherto said, I am informed, several among the Whigs continue still so refractory, that they will hardly allow the heads of their party to have entertained any designs of ruining the constitution, or that they would have endeavoured it, if they had continued in power, I beg their pardon if I have discovered a secret; but who could imagine they ever intended it should be one, after those overt acts with which they thought fit to conclude their farce? But perhaps they _now_ find it convenient to deny vigorously, that the question may remain; “Why was the old ministry changed?” which they urge on without ceasing, as if no occasion in the least had been given, but that all were owing to the insinuations of crafty men, practising upon the weakness of an easy pr[inc]e. I shall therefore offer among a hundred, one reason for this change, which I think would justify any monarch that ever reigned, for the like proceeding.

It is notorious enough, how highly princes have been blamed in the histories of all countries, particularly of our own; upon the account of minions; who have been ever justly odious to the people, for their insolence and avarice, and engrossing the favour of their masters. Whoever has been the least conversant in the English story cannot but have heard of Gaveston[3], the Spencers[4], and the Earl of Oxford[5]; who by the excess and abuse of their power, cost the princes they served, or rather governed, their crowns and lives. However, in the case of minions, it must at least be acknowledged that the prince is pleased and happy, though his subjects be aggrieved; and he has the plea of friendship to excuse him, which is a disposition of generous minds. Besides, a wise minion, though he be haughty to others, is humble and insinuating to his master, and cultivates his favour by obedience and respect. But _our_ misfortune has been a great deal worse: we have suffered for some years under the oppression, the avarice and insolence of those, for whom the Qu[ee]n had neither esteem nor friendship; who rather seemed to snatch their own dues, than receive the favour of their sovereign, and were so far from returning respect, that they forgot common good manners. They imposed on their prince, by urging the necessity of affairs of their own creating: they first raised difficulties, and then offered them as arguments to keep themselves in power. They united themselves against nature and principle, to a party they had always abhorred, and which was now content to come in upon any terms, leaving them and their creatures in full possession of the court. Then they urged the formidable strength of that party, and the dangers which must follow by disobliging of it. So that it seems almost a miracle, how a prince, thus besieged on all sides, could _alone_ have courage and prudence enough to extricate herself.

And indeed there is a point of history relating to this matter, which well deserves to be considered. When her M[ajest]y came to the crown, she took into favour and employment, several persons who were esteemed the best friends of the old constitution; among whom none were reckoned further gone in the high church principles (as they are usually called) than two or three, who had at that time most credit, and ever since, till within these few months, possessed all power at court. So that the first umbrage given to the Whigs, and the pretences for clamouring against France and the Pretender, were derived from them. And I believe nothing appeared then more unlikely, than that such different opinions should ever incorporate; that party having upon former occasions treated those very persons with enmity enough. But some l[or]ds then about court, and in the Qu[een]’s good graces, not able to endure those growing impositions upon the prince and people, presumed to interpose, and were consequently soon removed and disgraced: However, when a most exorbitant grant was proposed,[6] antecedent to any visible merit, it miscarried in Parliament, for want of being seconded by those who had most credit in the House, and who having always opposed the like excesses in a former reign, thought it their duty to do so still, to shew the world that the dislike was not against persons but things. But this was to cross the oligarchy in the tenderest point, a point which outweighed all considerations of duty and gratitude to their prince, or regard to the constitution. And therefore after having in several private meetings concerted measures with their old enemies, and granted as well as received conditions, they began to change their style and their countenance, and to put it as a maxim in the mouths of their emissaries, that England must be saved by the Whigs. This unnatural league was afterwards cultivated by another incident; I mean the Act of Security,[7] and the consequences of it, which every body knows; when (to use the words of my correspondent)[8] “the sovereign authority was parcelled out among a faction, and made the purchase of indemnity for an offending M[iniste]r:” Thus the union of the two kingdoms improved that between the ministry and the j[u]nto, which was afterwards cemented by their mutual danger in that storm they so narrowly escaped about three years ago;[9] but however was not quite perfected till the Prince’s death;[10] and then they went lovingly on together, both satisfied with their several shares, at full liberty to gratify their predominant inclinations; the first, their avarice and ambition; the other, their models of innovation in Church and State.

Therefore, whoever thinks fit to revive that baffled question, “Why was the late ministry changed?” may receive the following answer; That it was become necessary by the insolence and avarice of some about the Qu[een], who in order to perpetuate their tyranny had made a monstrous alliance with those who profess principles destructive to our religion and government: If this will not suffice, let him make an abstract of all the abuses I have mentioned in my former papers, and view them together; after which if he still remains unsatisfied, let him suspend his opinion a few weeks longer. Though after all, I think the question as trifling as that of the Papists, when they ask us, “where was our religion before Luther?” And indeed, the ministry was changed for the same reason that religion was reformed, because a thousand corruptions had crept into the discipline and doctrine of the state, by the pride, the avarice, the fraud, and the ambition of those who administered to us in secular affairs.

I heard myself censured the other day in a coffee-house, for seeming to glance in the letter to Crassus,[11] against a great man, who is still in employment, and likely to continue so. What if I had really intended that such an application should be given it? I cannot perceive how I could be justly blamed for so gentle a reproof. If I saw a handsome young fellow going to a ball at court with a great smut upon his face, could he take it ill in me to point out the place, and desire him with abundance of good words to pull out his handkerchief and wipe it off; or bring him to a glass, where he might plainly see it with his own eyes? Does any man think I shall suffer my pen to inveigh against vices, only because they are charged upon persons who are no longer in power? Every body knows, that certain vices are more or less pernicious, according to the stations of those who possess them. For example, lewdness and intemperance are not of so bad consequences in a town rake as a divine. Cowardice in a lawyer is more supportable than in an officer of the army. If I should find fault with an admiral because he wanted politeness, or an alderman for not understanding Greek; that indeed would be to go out of my way, for an occasion of quarrelling; but excessive avarice in a g[enera]l, is I think the greatest defect he can be liable to, next to those of courage and conduct, and may be attended with the most ruinous consequences, as it was in Crassus, who to that vice alone owed the destruction of himself and his army.[12] It is the same thing in praising men’s excellencies, which are more or less valuable, as the person you commend has occasion to employ them. A man may perhaps mean honestly, yet if he be not able to spell, he shall never have my vote for a secretary: Another may have wit and learning in a post where honesty, with plain common sense, are of much more use: You may praise a soldier for his skill at chess, because it is said to be a military game, and the emblem of drawing up an army; but this to a tr[easure]r would be no more a compliment, than if you called him a gamester or a jockey.[13]

P.S. I received a letter relating to Mr. Greenshields; the person who sent it may know, that I will say something to it in the next paper.

[Footnote 1: No. 29 in the reprint. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: “Tractanda in laudationibus etiam haec sunt naturae et fortunae bona, in quibus est summa laus: non extulisse,” etc.–CICERO, _De Oratore_ ii. 84.

“These blessings of nature and fortune fall within the province of panegyric, the highest strain of which is, that a man possessed power without pride, riches without insolence, and the fullness of fortune without the arrogance of greatness.”–W. GUTHRIE. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall, the favourite of Edward II. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: Hugh le Despencer, Earl of Winchester, and his son of the same name, both favourites of Edward II., and both hanged in 1326. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, favourite of Richard II. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 6: See No. 17, _ante_, and note, p. 95. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: The Bill of Security passed the Scottish Parliament in 1703, but was refused the Royal Assent. It provided for the separation of the Crowns of England and Scotland unless security was given to the latter for full religious and commercial independence. It was again passed in 1704. (See also note in vol. v., p. 336 of present edition.) [T.S.]]

[Footnote 8: The writer of the “Letter” does not ascribe this result to the Act of Security, but to the Queen raising some of her servants to the highest degree of power who were unable “to associate with, men of honester principles than themselves,” which led to “subjection to the will of an arbitrary junto and to the caprice of an insolent woman.” [T. S.]]

[Footnote 9: The Duke of Marlborough and Lord Godolphin threatened to resign in February, 1707/8, unless Harley was dismissed. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 10: Prince George died October 28th, 1708. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 11: “The Medley,” No. 20 (February 12th) was largely taken up with remarks on this letter, which appeared in “The Examiner,” No. 28. See passage there quoted in the note, p. 177. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 12: Crassus was defeated by Orodes, King of Parthia, through the treachery of Ariamnes. After Crassus was beheaded Orodes caused molten gold to be poured into his mouth. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 13: Godolphin. See No. 27, _ante_, p. 172. [T.S.]]

NUMB. 31.[1]


_Quae enim domus tam stabilis, quae tam firma civitas est, quae non odiis atque discidiis funditus possit everti?_[2]

If we examine what societies of men are in closest union among themselves, we shall find them either to be those who are engaged in some evil design, or who labour under one common misfortune: Thus the troops of _banditti_ in several countries abroad, the knots of highwaymen in our own nation, the several tribes of sharpers, thieves and pickpockets, with many others, are so firmly knit together, that nothing is more difficult than to break or dissolve their several gangs. So likewise those who are fellow-sufferers under any misfortune, whether it be in reality or opinion, are usually contracted into a very strict union; as we may observe in the Papists throughout this kingdom, under those real difficulties which are justly put on them; and in the several schisms of Presbyterians, and other sects, under that grievous persecution of the modern kind, called want of power. And the reason why such confederacies, are kept so sacred and inviolable, is very plain, because in each of those cases I have mentioned, the whole body is moved by one common spirit, in pursuit of one general end, and the interest of individuals is not crossed by each other, or by the whole.

Now, both these motives are joined to unite the high-flying Whigs at present: they have been always engaged in an evil design, and of late they are faster rivetted by that terrible calamity, the loss of power. So that whatever designs a mischievous crew of dark confederates may possibly entertain, who will stop at no means to compass them, may be justly apprehended from these.

On the other side, those who wish well to the public, and would gladly contribute to its service, are apt to differ in their opinions about the methods of promoting it, and when their party flourishes, are sometimes envious at those in power, ready to overvalue their own merit, and be impatient till it is rewarded by the measure they have prescribed for themselves. There is a further topic of contention, which a ruling party is apt to fall into, in relation to retrospections, and enquiry into past miscarriages; wherein some are thought too warm and zealous; others too cool and remiss; while in the meantime these divisions are industriously fomented by the discarded faction; which though it be an old practice, hath been much improved in the schools of the Jesuits, who when they despaired of perverting this nation to popery, by arguments or plots against the state, sent their emissaries to subdivide us into schisms.[3] And this expedient is now with great propriety taken up by our men of incensed moderation, because they suppose themselves able to attack the strongest of our subdivisions, and so subdue us one after another. Nothing better resembles this proceeding, than that famous combat between the Horatii and Curiatii,[4] where two of the former being killed, the third, who remained entire and untouched, was able to kill his three wounded adversaries, after he had divided them by a stratagem. I well know with how tender a hand all this should be touched; yet at the same time I think it my duty to warn the friends as well as expose the enemies of the public weal, and to begin preaching up union upon the first suspicion that any steps are made to disturb it.

But the two chief subjects of discontent, which, in most great changes, in the management of public affairs, are apt to breed differences among those who are in possession, are what I have just now mentioned; a desire of punishing the corruptions of former managers; and the rewarding merit, among those who have been any way instrumental or consenting to the change. The first of these is a point so nice, that I shall purposely waive it; but the latter I take to fall properly within my district: By merit I here understand that value which every man puts upon his own deservings from the public. And I believe there could not be a more difficult employment found out, than that of paymaster general to this sort of merit; or a more noisy, crowded place, than a court of judicature, erected to settle and adjust every man’s claim upon that article. I imagine, if this had fallen into the fancy of the ancient poets, they would have dressed it up after their manner into an agreeable fiction, and given us a genealogy and description of merit, perhaps not very different from that which follows.

_A Poetical Genealogy and Description of_ MERIT.

That true Merit, was the son of Virtue and Honour; but that there was likewise a spurious child who usurped the name, and whose parents were Vanity and Impudence. That, at a distance, there was a great resemblance between them, and they were often mistaken for each other. That the bastard issue had a loud shrill voice, which was perpetually employed in cravings and complaints; while the other never spoke louder than a whisper, and was often so bashful that he could not speak at all. That in all great assemblies, the false Merit would step before the true, and stand just in his way; was constantly at court, or great men’s levees, or whispering in some minister’s ear. That the more you fed him, the more hungry and importunate he grew. That he often passed for the true son of Virtue and Honour, and the genuine for an impostor. That he was born distorted and a dwarf, but by force of art appeared of a handsome shape, and taller than the usual size; and that none but those who were wise and good, as well as vigilant, could discover his littleness or deformity. That the true Merit had been often forced to the indignity of applying to the false, for his credit with those in power, and to keep himself from starving. That he filled the antechambers with a crew of his dependants and creatures, such as projectors, schematises, occasional converts to a party, prostitute flatterers, starveling writers, buffoons, shallow politicians, empty orators, and the like, who all owned him for their patron, and grew discontented if they were not immediately fed.

This metaphorical description of false Merit, is, I doubt, calculated for most countries in Christendom; and as to our own, I believe it may be said with a sufficient reserve of charity, that we are fully able to reward every man among us according to his real deservings. And I think I may add, without suspicion of flattery, that never any prince had a ministry with a better judgment to distinguish between false and real merit, than that which is now at the helm; or whose inclination as well as interest it is to encourage the latter. And it ought to be observed, that those great and excellent persons we see at the head of affairs, are of the Qu[een]’s own personal voluntary choice; not forced upon her by any insolent, overgrown favourite; or by the pretended necessity of complying with an unruly faction.

Yet these are the persons whom those scandals to the press, in their daily pamphlets and papers, openly revile at so ignominious a rate, as I believe was never tolerated before under any government. For surely no lawful power derived from a prince, should be so far affronted, as to leave those who are in authority exposed to every scurrilous libeller. Because in this point I make a mighty difference between those who are _in_, and those who are _out_ of power; not upon any regard to their persons, but the stations they are placed in by the sovereign. And if my distinction be right, I think I might appeal to any man, whether if a stranger were to read the invectives which are daily published against the present ministry, and the outrageous fury of the authors against me for censuring the _last_; he would not conclude the Whigs to be at this time in full possession of power and favour, and the Tories entirely at mercy? But all this now ceases to be a wonder, since the Qu[een] herself is no longer spared; witness the libel published some days ago under the title of “A Letter to Sir J[aco]b B[an]ks,”[5] where the reflections upon her sacred Majesty are much more plain and direct, than ever the “Examiner” thought fit to publish against the most obnoxious persons in a m[inistr]y, discarded for endeavouring the ruin of their prince and country. Caesar indeed threatened to hang the pirates for presuming to disturb him while he was their prisoner aboard their ship.[6] But it was Caesar who did so, and he did it to a crew of public robbers; and it became the greatness of his spirit, for he lived to execute what he had threatened. Had _they_ been in his power, and sent such a message, it could be imputed to nothing but the extremes of impudence, folly or madness.

I had a letter last week relating to Mr. Greenshields[7] an Episcopal clergyman of Scotland, and the writer seems to be a gentleman of that part of Britain. I remember formerly to have read a printed account of Mr. Greenshields’s case, who has been prosecuted and silenced for no other reason beside reading divine service, after the manner of the Church of England, to his own congregation, who desired it: though, as the gentleman who writes to me says, there is no law in Scotland against those meetings; and he adds, that the sentence pronounced against Mr. Greenshields, “will soon be affirmed, if some care be not taken to prevent it.” I am altogether uninformed in the particulars of this case, and besides to treat it justly, would not come within the compass of my paper; therefore I could wish the gentleman would undertake it in a discourse by itself; and I should be glad he would inform the public in one fact, whether Episcopal assemblies are freely allowed in Scotland? It is notorious that abundance of their clergy fled from thence some years ago into England and Ireland, as from a persecution; but it was alleged by their enemies, that they refused to take the oaths to the government, which however none of them scrupled when they came among us. It is somewhat extraordinary to see our Whigs and fanatics keep such a stir about the sacred Act of Toleration, while their brethren will not allow a connivance in so near a neighbourhood; especially if what the gentleman insists on in his letter be true, that nine parts in ten of the nobility and gentry, and two in three of the commons, be Episcopal; of which one argument he offers, is the present choice of their representatives in both Houses, though opposed to the utmost by the preachings, threatenings and anathemas of the kirk. Such usage to a majority, may, as he thinks, be of dangerous consequence; and I entirely agree with him. If these be the principles of high kirk, God preserve at least the southern parts from their tyranny!

[Footnote 1: No. 30 in the reprint. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: Cicero, “De Amicitia,” vii. “For what family is so firmly rooted, what state so strong, as not to be liable to complete overthrow from hatred and strife.”–G.H. Wells. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: Refers to the October Club. See Swift’s “Memoirs Relating to that Change,” etc. (vol. v., pp. 385-6 of present edition). [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: The contest is the subject of one of Macaulay’s “Lays.” Three brothers named Horatius fought with three named Curiatius, and the fight resulted in Publius Horatius being the sole survivor. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: In his letter to the Earl of Peterborough, dated February, 1710/1 (Scott, vol. xv., pp. 422-3), Swift speaks more favourably of this pamphlet. His remarks to the Earl throw considerable light on Swift’s own position as a Tory: “The piece is shrewdly written; and, in my opinion, not to be answered, otherwise than by disclaiming that sort of passive obedience which the Tories are charged with. This dispute 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; for I dare swear nine in ten of the Whigs will allow it to be the legislature, and as many of the Tories deny it to the prince alone; and I hardly ever saw a Whig and a Tory together, whom I could not immediately reconcile on that article when I made them explain themselves.”

The pamphlet was written by a Mr. Benson in reply to Sir Jacob Banks, who, as member for Minehead, had, in 1709-10 presented an address from his constituents in which it was pretty broadly avowed that subjects must obey their monarch, since he was responsible to God alone. The writer of the letter institutes a clever parallel between England and Sweden. See note to No. 14, _ante_, and No. 34, _post_, pp. 75 and 216. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 6: Julius Caesar was captured by pirates off the coast of Miletus (_c._ 75 B.C.) and held to ransom. The threat of crucifixion he then held out to his captors he afterwards fulfilled. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 7: The Rev. James Greenshields was imprisoned (September 15th, 1709) for conducting in Edinburgh the service according to the English Prayer Book. He appealed to the House of Lords, and the judgment against him was reversed, March 1st. 1710/1 (“Journals of House of Lords,” xix). [T.S.]]

NUMB. 32.[1]


_—-Garrit aniles
Ex re fabellas_.[2]

I had last week sent me by an unknown hand, a passage out of Plato,[3] with some hints how to apply it. That author puts a fable into the mouth of Aristophanes, with an account of the original of love. That, mankind was at first created with four arms and legs, and all other parts double to what they are now; till Jupiter, as a punishment for his sins, cleft him in two with a thunderbolt, since which time we are always looking for our _other half_; and this is the cause of love. But Jupiter threatened, that if they did not mend their manners, he would give them t’other slit, and leave them to hop about in the shape of figures in _basso relievo_. The effect of this last threatening, my correspondent imagines, is now come to pass; and that as the first splitting was the original of love, by inclining us to search for our t’other half, so the second was the cause of hatred, by prompting us to fly from our other side, and dividing the same body into two, gave each slice the name of a party.

I approve the fable and application, with this refinement upon it. For parties do not only split a nation, but every individual among them, leaving each but half their strength, and wit, and honesty, and good nature; but one eye and ear for their sight and hearing, and equally lopping the rest of the senses: Where parties are pretty equal in a state, no man can perceive one bad quality in his own, or good one in his adversaries. Besides, party being a dry disagreeable subject, it renders conversation insipid or sour, and confines invention. I speak not here of the leaders, but the insignificant crowd of followers in a party, who have been the instruments of mixing it in every condition and circumstance of life. As the zealots among the Jews bound the law about their foreheads, and wrists, and hems of their garments; so the women among us have got the distinguishing marks of party in their muffs, their fans, and their furbelows. The Whig ladies put on their patches in a different manner from the Tories.[4] They have made schisms in the playhouse, and each have their particular sides at the opera: and when a man changes his party, he must infallibly count upon the loss of his mistress. I asked a gentleman the other day, how he liked such a lady? but he would not give me his opinion till I had answered him whether she were a Whig or a Tory. Mr.—-[5] since he is known to visit the present m[inist]ry, and lay some time under a suspicion of writing the “Examiner,” is no longer a man of wit; his very poems have contracted a stupidity many years after they were printed.

Having lately ventured upon a metaphorical genealogy of Merit, I thought it would be proper to add another of Party, or rather, of Faction, (to avoid mistake) not telling the reader whether it be my own or a quotation, till I know how it is approved; but whether I read or dreamed it, the fable is as follows.

“_Liberty, the daughter of Oppression, after having brought forth several fair children, as Riches, Arts, Learning, Trade, and many others, was at last delivered of her youngest daughter, called Faction; whom Juno, doing the office of the midwife, distorted in its birth, out of envy to the mother, from whence it derived its peevishness and sickly constitution. However, as it is often the nature of parents to grow most fond of their youngest and disagreeablest children, so it happened with Liberty, who doted on this daughter to such a degree, that by her good will she would never suffer the girl to be out of her sight. As Miss Faction grew up, she became so termagant and froward, that there was no enduring her any longer in Heaven. Jupiter gave her warning to be gone; and her mother rather than forsake her, took the whole family down to earth. She landed at first in Greece, was expelled by degrees through all the Cities by her daughter’s ill-conduct; fled afterwards to Italy, and being banished thence, took shelter among the Goths, with whom she passed into most parts of Europe; but driven out every where, she began to lose esteem, and her daughter’s faults were imputed to herself. So that at this time, she has hardly a place in the world to retire to. One would wonder what strange qualities this daughter must possess, sufficient to blast the influence of so divine a mother, and the rest of her children: She always affected to keep mean and scandalous company; valuing nobody, but just as they agreed with her in every capricious opinion she thought fit to take up; and rigorously exacting compliance, though she changed her sentiments ever so often. Her great employment was to breed discord among friends and relations, and make up monstrous alliances between those whose dispositions least resembled each other. Whoever offered to contradict her, though in the most insignificant trifle, she would be sure to distinguish by some ignominious appellation, and allow them to have neither honour, wit, beauty, learning, honesty or common sense. She intruded into all companies at the most unseasonable times, mixed at balls, assemblies, and other parties of pleasure; haunted every coffee- house and bookseller’s shop, and by her perpetual talking filled all places with disturbance and confusion. She buzzed about the merchant in the Exchange, the divine in his pulpit, and the shopkeeper behind his counter. Above all, she frequented public assemblies, where she sat in the shape of an obscene, ominous bird, ready to prompt her friends as they spoke_.”

If I understand this fable of Faction right, it ought to be applied to those who set themselves up against the true interest and constitution of their country; which I wish the undertakers for the late m[inistr]y would please to take notice of; or tell us by what figure of speech they pretend to call so great and _unforced_ a majority, with the Qu[een] at the head, by the name of “the Faction”: which is unlike the phrase of the Nonjurors, who dignifying one or two deprived bishops, and half a score clergymen of the same stamp, with the title of the “Church of England,” exclude all the rest as schismatics; or like the Presbyterians, laying the same accusation, with equal justice, against the established religion.

And here it may be worth inquiring what are the true characteristics of a faction, or how it is to be distinguished from that great body of the people who are friends to the constitution? The heads of a faction, are usually a set of upstarts, or men ruined in their fortunes, whom some great change in a government, did at first, out of their obscurity produce upon the stage. They associate themselves with those who dislike the old establishment, religious and civil. They are full of new schemes in politics and divinity; they have an incurable hatred against the old nobility, and strengthen their party by dependants raised from the lowest of the people; they have several ways of working themselves into power; but they are sure to be called when a corrupt administration wants to be supported, against those who are endeavouring at a reformation; and they firmly observe that celebrated maxim of preserving power by the same arts it is attained. They act with the spirit of those who believe their _time is but short;_ and their first care is to heap up immense riches at the public expense; in which they have two ends, beside that common one of insatiable avarice; which are, to make themselves necessary, and to keep the Commonwealth in dependence: Thus they hope to compass their design, which is, instead of fitting their principles to the constitution, to alter and adjust the constitution to their own pernicious principles.

It is easy determining by this test, to which side the name of faction most properly belongs. But however, I will give them any system of law or regal government, from William the Conqueror to this present time, to try whether they can tally it with their late models; excepting only that of Cromwell, whom perhaps they will reckon for a monarch.

If the present ministry, and so great a majority in the Parliament and Kingdom, be only a faction, it must appear by some actions which answers the idea we usually conceive from that word. Have they abused the prerogatives of the prince, or invaded the rights and liberties of the subject? Have they offered at any dangerous innovations in Church or State? Have they broached any doctrines of heresy, rebellion or tyranny? Have any of them treated their sovereign with insolence, engrossed and sold all her favours, or deceived her by base, gross misrepresentations of her most faithful servants? These are the arts of a faction, and whoever has practised them, they and their followers must take up with the name.

It is usually reckoned a Whig principle to appeal to the people; but that is only when they have been so wise as to poison their understandings beforehand: Will they now stand to this appeal, and be determined by their _vox populi_, to which side their title of faction belongs? And that the people are now left to the natural freedom of their understanding and choice, I believe our adversaries will hardly deny. They will now refuse this appeal, and it is reasonable they should; and I will further add, that if our people resembled the old Grecians, there might be danger in such a trial. A pragmatical orator told a great man at Athens, that whenever the people were in their rage, they would certainly tear him to pieces; “Yes,” says the other, “and they will do the same to you, whenever they are in their wits.” But God be thanked, our populace is more merciful in their nature, and at present under better direction; and the orators among us have attempted to confound both prerogative and law, in their sovereign’s presence, and before the highest court of judicature, without any hazard to their persons.

[Footnote 1: No. 31 in the reprint. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 2: Horace, “Satires,” II. vi. 77-8. “To club his part in pithy tales.”–P. FRANCIS. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 3: The “Symposium,” 189-192. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 4: See “The Spectator,” No. 81 (June 2nd, 1711): “Their patches were placed in those different situations, as party signals to distinguish friends from foes.” [T.S.]]

[Footnote 5: Matthew Prior. [T.S.]]

NUMB. 33.[1]


_Non ea est medicina, cum sanae parti corporis scalpellum adhibetur, atque integrae; carnificina est ista, et crudelitas. Hi medentur Reipublicae qui exsecant pestem aliquam, tanquam strumam Civitatis_.[3]

I am diverted from the general subject of my discourses, to reflect upon an event of a very extraordinary and surprising nature: A great minister, in high confidence with the Queen, under whose management the weight of affairs at present is in a great measure supposed to lie; sitting in council, in a royal palace, with a dozen of the chief officers of the state, is stabbed at the very board,[4] in the execution of his office, by the hand of a French Papist, then under examination for high treason. The assassin redoubles his blow, to make sure work; and concluding the chancellor was dispatched, goes on with the same rage to murder a principal secretary of state: and that whole noble assembly are forced to rise, and draw their swords in their own defence, as if a wild beast had been let loose among them.

This fact hath some circumstances of aggravation not to be paralleled by any of the like kind we meet with in history. Caesar’s murder being performed in the Senate, comes nearest to the case; but that was an affair concerted by great numbers of the chief senators, who were likewise the actors in it, and not the work of a vile, single ruffian. Harry the Third of France was stabbed by an enthusiastic friar,[5] whom he suffered to approach his person, while those who attended him stood at some distance. His successor met the same fate in a coach, where neither he nor his nobles, in such a confinement, were able to defend themselves. In our own country we have, I think, but one instance of this sort, which has made any noise, I mean that of Felton, about fourscore years ago: but he took the opportunity to stab the Duke of Buckingham in passing through a dark lobby, from one room to another:[6] The blow was neither seen nor heard, and the murderer might have escaped, if his own concern and horror, as it is usual in such cases, had not betrayed him. Besides, that act of Felton will admit of some extenuation, from the motives he is said to have had: but this attempt of Guiscard seems to have outdone them all in every heightening circumstance, except the difference of persons between a king and a great minister: for I give no allowance at all to the difference of success (which however is yet uncertain and depending) nor think it the least alleviation to the crime, whatever it may be to the punishment.

I am sensible, it is ill arguing from particulars to generals, and that we ought not to charge upon a nation the crimes of a few desperate villains it is so unfortunate to produce: Yet at the same time it must be avowed, that the French have for these last centuries, been somewhat too liberal of their daggers, upon the persons of their greatest men; such as the Admiral de Coligny,[7] the Dukes of Guise,[8] father and son, and the two kings I last mentioned. I have sometimes wondered how a people, whose genius seems wholly turned to singing and dancing, and prating, to vanity and impertinence; who lay so much weight upon modes and gestures; whose essentialities are generally so very superficial; who are usually so serious upon trifles, and so trifling upon what is serious, have been capable of committing such solid villanies; more suitable to the gravity of a Spaniard, or silence and thoughtfulness of an Italian: unless it be, that in a nation naturally so full of themselves, and of so restless imaginations, when any of them happen to be of a morose and gloomy constitution, that huddle of confused thoughts, for want of evaporating, usually terminates in rage or despair. D’Avila[9] observes, that Jacques Clement was a sort of buffoon, whom the rest of the friars used to make sport with: but at last, giving his folly a serious turn, it ended in enthusiasm, and qualified him for that desperate act of murdering his king.

But in the Marquis de Guiscard there seems to have been a complication of ingredients for such an attempt: He had committed several enormities in France, was extremely prodigal and vicious; of a dark melancholy complexion, and cloudy countenance, such as in vulgar physiognomy is called an ill look. For the rest, his talents were very mean, having a sort of inferior cunning, but very small abilities; so that a great man of the late m[inist]ry, by whom he was invited over,[10] and with much discretion raised at first step from a profligate popish priest to a lieutenant-general, and colonel of a regiment of horse, was forced at last to drop him for shame.[11]

Had such an accident happened[12] under that m[inis]try, and to so considerable a member of it, they would have immediately charged it upon the whole body of those they are pleased to call “the faction.” This would have been styled a high-church principle; the clergy would have been accused as promoters and abettors of the fact; com[mittee]s would have been sent to promise the criminal his life provided they might have liberty to direct and dictate his confession: and a black list would have been printed of all those who had been ever seen in the murderer’s company. But the present men in power hate and despise all such detestable arts, which they might now turn upon their adversaries with much more plausibility, than ever these did their honourable negotiations with Gregg.[13]

And here it may be worth observing how unanimous a concurrence there is between some persons once in great power, and a French Papist; both agreeing in the great end of taking away Mr. Harley’s life, though differing in their methods: the first proceeding by subornation, the other by violence; wherein Guiscard seems to have the advantage, as aiming no further than his life; while the others designed to destroy at once both that and his reputation. The malice of both against this gentleman seems to have risen from the same cause, his discovering designs against the government. It was Mr. Harley who detected the treasonable correspondence of Gregg, and secured him betimes; when a certain great man who shall be nameless, had, out of the depth of his politics, sent him a caution to make his escape; which would certainly have fixed the appearance of guilt[14] upon Mr. Harley: but when that was prevented, they would have enticed the condemned criminal with promise of a pardon, to write and sign an accusation against the secretary. But to use Gregg’s own expression, “His death was nothing near so ignominious, as would have been such a life that must be saved by prostituting his conscience.” The same gentleman lies now stabbed by his other enemy, a Popish spy, whose treason he has discovered. God preserve the rest of her Majesty’s ministers from such Protestants, and from such Papists!

I shall take occasion to hint at some particularities in this surprising fact, for the sake of those at distance, or who may not be thoroughly informed.[15] The murderer confessed in Newgate, that his chief design was against Mr. Secretary St. John, who happened to change seats with Mr. Harley, for more convenience of examining the criminal:[16] and being asked what provoked him to stab the chancellor? he said, that not being able to come at the secretary, as he intended, it was some satisfaction to murder the person whom he thought Mr. St. John loved best.[17]

And here, if Mr. Harley has still any enemies left, whom his blood spilt in the public service cannot reconcile, I hope they will at least admire his magnanimity, which is a quality esteemed even in an enemy: and I think there are few greater instances of it to be found in story. After the wound was given, he was observed neither to change his countenance, nor discover any concern or disorder in his speech: he rose up, and walked along the room while he was able, with the greatest tranquillity, during the midst of the confusion. When the surgeon came, he took him aside, and desired he would inform him freely whether the wound were mortal, because in that case, he said, he had some affairs to settle, relating to his family. The blade of the penknife, broken by the violence of the blow against a rib, within a quarter of an inch of the handle, was dropt out (I know not whether from the wound, or his clothes) as the surgeon was going to dress him; he ordered it to be taken up, and wiping it himself, gave it some body to keep, saying, he thought “it now properly belonging to him.” He shewed no sort of resentment, or spoke one violent word against Guiscard, but appeared all the while the least concerned of any in the company–a state of mind, which in such an