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all topics : and therefore in great Changes when that is broke, there will remain much heart-burn ing and discontent among the meaner people; which (under a weak Prince and corrupt Admini. ftration) may have the worst consequences upon the peace of any state.
As to what is called a Revolution-principle, my opinion was this; That whenever those evils, which usually attend and follow a violent change of Government, were not in probability fo pernicious as the grievance we fuffer under a present power, then the public good will justify such a Revolution. And this I took to have been the case in the Prince of Orange's Expedition, although in the consequences it produced some very bad effects, which are likely to stick long enough by us.
I had likewise in those days a mortal antipathy against Standing Armies in times of Peace : Be. cause I always took Standing Armies to be only fervants 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 himfelf secure without Mercenary Troops, muft needs have a separate interest from that of his Subjects. Although I am not ignorant of those artificial Neceflities
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 suspending 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 fo agreeable, as that we should desire to see it repeated. Every Rebellion subdued and Plot difcovered, 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 thinks fit to dislike, are not only oppofite 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 moft accursed, and proftitute, and abandoned race, that God ever permitted to plague mankind.
It is true the Romans had a custom of chusing 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, this very office of Di&tator 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, relata ing to publick 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 feems, had been exploded about a month before, I have passed for a difaffected person. I ạm 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 accufe me, but cannot spare a minute to hear
defence. Şo 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 propofed.
All I can reasonably hope for by this letter, is to convince my friends, and others who are pleafed: to wish me well, that I have neither been fa. illa
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 insipid Productions, which I am not capable of writing. For, however I may have been foured 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.
L E T T ER VI.
Dr. SWIFT to Mr. GAY,
Dublin, Jan. 8, 1722-3. OMING home after a short Christmas ram
ble, 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, oblivifcendus & illis. What can be the design of your letter but malice, to wake me out of a scurvy fleep, which however is better than none? I am towards nine years older since I left you, yet that is the least of my alterations; my business, my diversions, my conversations, are all entirely changed for the worse, and fo are my ftuC4
dies and my amusements in writing ; yet, after all, this humdrum way of life might be paffable cnough, if you would let me alone. I shall not be able to relish my wine, my parfons, my horses, nor my garden for three months, until the spirit you have raised thall be dispossessed. I have some, times wondered that I have not visited you, but I have been stopt by too many reasons, besides years and laziness, and yet these are very good ones. Upon my return after half a year amongst you, there would be to me Desiderio nec pudor riec modus. I was three years reconciling myself to the scene, and the business, to which fortune hath condemned me, and stupidity was what I had recourse to. Befides, what a figure should I make in London, while my friends are in poverty, exile, distress, or imprisonment, and my enemies with rods of iron ? Yet I often threaten myself with the journey, and am every summer practising to get health to bear it: The only inconvenience is, that I grow old in the experiment. Although I care not to talk to you as a Divine, yet I hope you have not been author of your colic: do you drink bad wine, or keep bad company? Are you not as many years older as I? It will not be always Et tibi quos mihi dempferit Apponet annos. I am heartily forry you have any dealings with that ugly distemper, and I believe our friend Arbuthnot will recommend you to temperance and exercise. I wish they could have as good an effect upon the giddiness I am subject to, and which this moment I am not free from. I should have been glad if you had lengthened your letter by telling me the present condition of many of my old acquaintance, Congreve, Arbuthnot, Lewis, &c. but you mention only Mr. Pope, who I believe is lazy, or else he might have added three lines of his own. I am extremely glad he is not in your case of neçding great mens favour, and