thy against Standing Armies in times of Peace. Because I always took Standing Armies to be only servants hired by the Master of the family for keeping his own children in slavery ; and because I conceived, that a Prince, who could not think himself secure without Mercenary Troops, must needs have a separate interest from that of his Subjects. Although I am not ignorant of those artificial Necessities which a corrupted Ministry can create, for keeping up Forces to support a Faction against the publick Interest.

As to Parliaments, I adored the wisdom of that Gothic Institution, which made them annual: and I was confident our Liberty could never be placed upon a firm foundation until that ancient law were restored among us. For, who sees not, that, while such Assemblies are permitted to have a longer duration, there grows up a commerce of corruption between the Ministry and the Deputies, wherein they both find their accounts, to the manifest danger of Liberty? which Traffic would neither answer the design nor expence, if Parliaments met once a year.

I ever abominated that scheme of Politics, (now about thirty years old) of setting up a monied Interest in opposition to the landed.


For I conceived, there could not be a truer maxim in our Government than this, That the Possessors of the soil are the best Judges of what is for the advantage of the kingdom. If others had thought the same way, Funds of Credit and South-sea Projects would neither have been felt nor heard of.

I could never discover the necessity of sufpending any Law upon which the Liberty of the most innocent persons depended; neither do I think this Practice hath made the taste of Arbitrary Power so agreeable, as that we should desire to see it repeated. Every Rebellion subdued and Plot discovered, contribute to the firmer establishment of the Prince: In the latter case, the knot of Conspirators is entirely broke, and they are to begin their work anew under a thousand disadvantages : so that those diligent enquiries into remote and problematical guilt, with a new power of enforcing them by chains and dungeons to every person whose face a Minister think3 fit to dislike, are not only opposite to that Maxim, which declareth it better that ten guilty men should escape, than one innocent suffer ; but likewise leave a gate wide open to the whole tribe of Informers, the most accursed, and prostitute, and aban


this very

doned race, that God ever permitted to plague mankind.

It is true the Romans had a custom of chufing a Dictator, during whose administration the Power of other Magistrates was suspended; but this was done upon the greatest emergencies; a War near their doors, or some civil Diffention: For Armies must be governed by arbitrary power. But when the Virtue of that Commonwealth gave place to luxury and ambition,

office of Dictator became perpetual in the persons of the Cæsars and their Successors, the most infamous Tyrants that have any where appeared in story.

These are some of the sentiments I had relating to public affairs, while I was in the world: what they are at present, is of little importance either to that or myself; neither can I truly say I have any at all, or, if I had, I dare not venture to publish them: For however orthodox they may be while I am now writing, they may become criminal enough to bring me into trouble before midsummer. And indeed I have often wished for some time past, that a political Catechism might be published by authority four times a year, in order to instruct us how we are to speak, write, and act during the current quarter. I have by experience felt the


want of such an instructer : for, intending to make

my court to some people on the prevailing fide by advancing certain old whiggish principles, which it seems, had been exploded about a month before, I have passed for a difaffected person. I am not ignorant how idle a thing it is, for a man in obscurity to attempt defending his reputation as a Writer, while the spirit of Faction hath so universally possessed the minds of men, that they are not at leisure to attend to any thing else. They will just give themselves time to libel and accuse me, but cannot spare a minute to hear my defence. So in a plot-discovering age, I have often known an innocent man seized and imprisoned, and forced to lie several months in chains, while the Ministers were not at leisure to hear his petition, until they had prosecuted and hanged the number they proposed.

All I can reasonably hope for by this letter, is to convince my friends, and others who are pleased to wish me well, that I have neither been so ill a Subject nor so stupid an Author, as I have been represented by the virulence of Libellers, whose malice hath taken the same train in both, by fathering dangerous Principles in government upon me, which I never maintained, and infipid Productions, which I am not capable of writing For, however I


may have been soured by personal ill treatment, or by melancholy prospects for the public, I am too much a politician to expose my own safety by offensive words. And, if my genius and spirit be sunk by encreasing years, I have at least enough discretion left, not to mistake the measure of my own abilities, by attempting subjects where those Talents are necessary, which perhaps I may have lost with my youth.


Dr. Swift to Mr. Gay.

Cramble, I found a letter uport my table,

Dublin, Jan. 8, 1722-3. VOMING home after a short Christmas

ramble, I found a letter upon my table, and little expected when I opened it to read your name at the bottom. The best and greatest part of my life, until these last eight years, I spent in England : there I made my friendships, and there I left my desires. I am condemned for ever to another country; what is in prudence to be done? I think, to be oblitusque meorum, obliviscendus & illis. What can be the design of your letter but malice, to wake me out of a scurvy sleep, which however is better Vol. IX.



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