Quæ Gratia Curram
Armorumque fuit vivis, quæ Cura nitentes
Pascere Equos, eadem sequitur Tellure repostos.
Virg. Æn. vi.
Transcribers Note: Inconsistent spelling has been retained as in the original text.
Page 7. Line 19. for Phrases read Praises.
P. 11. L. 18. for attack read attack'd.
P. 14. L. 25. for they r. the Ladies.
P. 17. L. 22. for emnently r. eminently.
P. 18. L. 25. for Henepius r. Henepin's.
P. 26. L. 26. for their r. the.
P. 27. L. 13. for brag r. boast.
P. 33. L. 25. for runing r. running.
P. 34. L. 5. for St. Foil r. St. Foin.
P. 36. L. 28. for say r. see.
P. 42. L. 25. for adæquate r. inadequate.
P. 63. L. 11. for Teas r. Tea.
P. 71. L. 15. after horrid r. and.
P. 72. L. 3. for we. r. they.
P. 75. L. the last, for 'tis employ'd in, r. that accompany it.
P. 85. L. 10. after Virtue add, or Learning.
P. 88. L. 10. after Wall add, of.
P. 88. L. 31. for that r. than.
Dean Swift and Tho. Prior, Esq;
In the Isles of St.
Dublin, Oct. 9, 1753.
Prior. Mr. Dean, I am sorry to see you up, if any of your private Affairs disturb you. I came to call at your Grave, and have a little Discourse with you; but unless 'tis the Publick has rouz'd you, I am troubled to find you walking as well as my self.
Swift. 'Tis my Country keeps me walking! why who can lie still? I don't believe there are many Ghosts now, that have any share of Understanding, or any regard for Ireland, that are to be found in their Graves at Midnight. For my part I can no more keep in my Den than if it were the Day of Judgment. I have been earth'd now eight Years last October, and I think on my Conscience (and you know Tom the Conscience of one dead Man is worth ten of those that are living) I have had very few good Days Sleep since I got there. Ah Tom! poor Ireland! poor Ireland! it plagued my Heart while I was trifling away Life there; but my Curse on it, I never thought it would have broke my Rest thus when I was dead. I have tumbled and toss'd from one Side to the other (and by the by, they make these cursed Coffins so narrow 'tis a Plague to be in them) first one Thing would come into my Head, and then another, and often wrought me so, that I have many a time been forced to walk a whole Moon to rest me and get the better Nap when I lay down. Prithee how have you done?
Prior. Why, very little better; only as I have not been so long shut up in my Dormitory as you, the Confinement is less irksome. But I was not affected the same way with you, for I sometimes slept for Months together like a Dormouse; but when Ireland once gets into my Head and its present melancholy Circumstances, it works my Thoughts upwards and downwards from the Great Ones to their Slaves, like a poor Patient with Ward's Drop and Pill.
Swift. That has often been my Case Tom. When I get into that Train of thinking, and consider the present Situation of our Country, it makes me as uneasy in my Coffin as a Rat shut up in a Trap. I remember an old She1 Fool, that was fonder of scribling than reigning, used to say, that the Dead have that melancholy Advantage over the Living of first forgetting them; but 'tis as false as ten thousand other Truths, that your Philosophers and Politicians above Ground keep such a babling with over our Heads. For my part I never had that Pleasure, for since my first Nap under my Gravestone, which did not last three Weeks, I have been as much perplex'd about Ireland, as if I was still living at the Deanry, writing for Posterity, and thinking for my poor Country. What makes you sigh so Tom? Why you draw your Breath as hard as a broken-winded Racer; some Qualm I suppose about this neglected Island.
Prior. That was the Case indeed. But tho' I am chiefly grieved at the ill Circumstances of I——d, my next trouble is, that the World seems resolved they shall never mend; and, I think so, by their treating all true Patriots in the most unhandsome Manner. This is as mad a Measure, as imprisoning the Physicians in an epidemical Sickness would be. Yet such Men, who only could heal our Distempers, are treated almost as common Poisoners, and watch'd as if they were Incendiaries and the Enemies of Society. It was too much our own Case when we were among Men, and tho' I scorn to lament the indifferent Treatment Dean Swift and Tom Prior received from those who should have respected and honoured them; yet I cannot help being concerned for the hard Usage all true Patriots generally meet with in I——d. Their Writings, tho' ever so disinterested are treated as so many mercenary Productions of the Press; their Zeal and their Motives are ever suspected, as false and personated, and most Governments look on such Authors at best, as so many out-lying Deer, and give all the World leave to hunt them and run them down. I am sure, as to my Particular, I may justly say, I found it so; for, as I well knew, that writing with a Design to please or serve others, ends, generally, either in Neglect or Censure; so, I would not have engaged in such a dangerous Undertaking, if I could have quieted my Heart, that was ever tempting me to despise the Danger for the Hopes of doing good by my Pen.
Swift. I wish Tom the Tribe of Authors had ever writ from such a Turn of Mind, and then I fancy the World had not been so much over-run with Books.
Prior. I can answer for my self that I had only the Service of my Fellow Citizens in view. Let those whose miserable Aim is writing well, be ashamed if they are criticiz'd, or ridiculed, but he who sincerely strives to serve Millions, must have a Scorn for Malice or Satyr, if he thinks he can feed or cloath half a Nation by scribling. I profess I writ whatever I publish'd, barely for the Joy I had in doing some Service to my Country, and with so little a view to Reputation, that I would have done it, if there had been no such thing as Fame in the World; and surely, there is almost as little of that phantastick Pleasure to be had here as in the Isle of Man, or the Orcades. Nay, Dean, I'll go further, I would have done it for the gratifying the pleasing Instinct that lead me to it, if there had not been a great Lord and Parent of Good to approve and reward it. Hence it was that I troubled the World with a deal of Tracts on publick Subjects; and, I thank Heaven, my Heart is as little asham'd of it, now I am dead, as I was proud of it when I was living, which is what few Authors can say when they are coffin'd. I saw writing absolutely necessary to the well-being of the most neglected Nation under Heaven. I heard, I saw, I felt the Displeasure of some great Men for several Things I wrote, which crost their Views, or even disagreed with their Opinions or Desires. I saw few either willing to appear Medlers or Busy-Bodies this Way; or visibly to hurt their worldly Interests, or to seem fond of either Ridicule or Reputation by bustling about it; and, as I was quite indifferent to those Fears, I hop'd what I did, and the Motives I went on, might be pardonable if not approveable; and whatever was the Event, I as sincerely despised any Abuse I met with, as I did any Credit, that a few solitary thinking Men might allow me for it.
Swift. Why, really Tom, as there is no lying in this World, that we are now launch'd into, I must own there is a great deal of Truth in all you have said; and tho' I often writ for the Sake of Applause, yet writing with such a View is a poor Motive, and the best and noblest, and I had almost said, the only justifiable one, is to do Good in an evil World. I don't see any Thing very desireable in the greatest Talents, or in the largest Affluence of Fortune, unless they are in some Measure employed in the Publick Service, and if they be, it truly dignifies them; nay, that single View is enough to sanctify the poorest Scribling, and to make the meanest scraping and saving of Avarice, pass for the Marks of a worthy Spirit. But tho' Patriots are generally so ill used, by the ungrateful World; you certainly came much better off than I did, for where you met with one Reviler, I met with one hundred. The Pamphlets wrote against me, wou'd have form'd a Library, or rather a Dormitory, where they might have slept in undisturb'd Repose; instead of furnishing Grocers and Pastry Cooks for Years together, to make some expiation for beggaring Printers and Booksellers. I have had Thousands written against me, with Virulence and Scandal.
Prior. And what a wounding Grief must that be, to your generous Mind, to have so much Malice returned, where so much Gratitude was due; surely it gave you infinite Pain to be so lash'd and stigmatised, by a Rabble, of the most invenom'd and imbitter'd Scriblers upon Earth?
Swift. Why, dear Tom, I cou'd laugh a Month at you for this. Why, they made no more Impression on my Spirit, with their scurrilous Pamphlets, than they wou'd have done, on my Statue, had they thrown them at it. I ever consider'd, that Abuse from such Scriblers, who write for a Livelihood, can no more be thought an Affront, than a Barber's taking you by the Nose; 'tis his Trade, and the Wretch would starve if you stopt him. What harm did all their Ribaldry do me? I neither eat, nor drunk, nor slept the worse for it. I don't suppose, that the scape Goat, which the Jews loaded with Curses, and drove into the Wilderness, either died by their Maledictions, or grew a whit the leaner for them; nor was I ever the worse for all I met with. Why Tom, one had as good be a sensitive Plant, as to start and fly back, at every Touch, or every Appearance of being Touch'd, as some weak Men do.
Prior. We may Reason thus, but Nature generally over masters our Opinions.
Swift. Yes, when they are of opposite Sides, but in this point they must agree. Consider, what a wretched Thing would Merit be, whose chief support is a justly deserved good Character, if it depended for its real Fame, on the Writings (if we must call them Writings) of envious Scriblers, or the Tongues, of Slanderers, who wou'd both of them fain get a Scrap of Reputation, by vilifying exalted Names. No, Tom, there is something in true Merit, so independent of Applause and Censure, and so superior to the going out, or coming into Vogue, that it frequently takes the Injuries of such Reptiles as a kind of Homage; like the Abuses offered by the common Soldiers, to Conquerors when they Ride in Triumph, and which they valued as little as the senseless Phrases and Shouts of the multitude. 'Tis time enough for true Merit and Goodness to expect Justice from Men; when it receives the Euge of the Omnipotent; for then only will Malice be out of Countenance, Envy silent, and then only will Truth (the Language of Eternity) prevail!
Prior. Well, very well, Mr. Dean. But I am much mistaken, if you was not heartily Sick of your Patriotism, when you was so often branded and asperst by such Crowds of Pamphlets and Scriblers.
Swift. Dr. Tom, they never gave me a moment's Pain, for the Truth is, I was too proud to be affronted, and had too high a Spirit to be humbled, by such Insults, or else indeed I had met with Opportunities enough to make me pass my Time very uneasily. But in the next place those who Writ against me, were mere toothless Animals, or at least a Sort of Irish Vipers, that tho' they lov'd to Bite, yet they wanted the pungent Venom which gives the Torment. Many of their Tracts were the poorest Productions that ever disgraced the Press; without Style, or Wit, or Sense, or Argument. I remember one of them, where both I, and the Subject he writ on, were equally ill-treated, begun like a Hebrew Book at the wrong End, with an Apology for the Author's inability to handle such weighty Points as they deserved; and indeed Tom, that single Confession was the only Thing that look'd like Truth or Modesty in the whole Performance. How could I be affronted by such miserable Efforts of Malice? and above all, if the natural elevation of my Mind, had not enabled me to look down on them with Disdain, the Dignity and usefulness of my Life, help'd me to smile on them as impotent and harmless. I was so far from being mortified by their base revilings, that I think, I wrote the better for them, and with higher Spirit, as a well mettled Horse moves the brisker for being lashed. Besides, as I often wrote for the service of the World; and the Interests of Mankind, I always appeared with every Advantage, that Candour, Honesty, and Courage, cou'd give me against Injustice, Oppression, and Tyrany. I wrote for Truth and Reason, for Liberty, and the Rights of my Country and Fellow-Subjects; and it gave me Joy, to see the Minions of a Court, and the Slaves of Power, stare at the dextrous boldness of my Pen, as I fancy a Cuckold does at a Deer, when he sees it cast its Horns.
Prior. Why dear Dean, I will not oppose you too obstinately; but I am sure, you will not deny, that you were sufficiently mortified, with other Things, if you were not with the Sarcasms of your Rival Writers.
Swift. What other Things pray?
Prior. Why your not being perferr'd, nor advanc'd in the Church.
Swift. I renounce it! I deny it! I lost nothing by not being preferred, but an enlarged Power of doing Good; and the Day is coming (much sooner than the Feeders on the Earth imagine) when I shall be allowed as fully, for the Good I would have done, as for that which I was able to accomplish. The Publick indeed lost many, and perhaps considerable Advantages, and I some hearty Prayers, by that Disappointment; at the same Time, I ever look'd on the Gain of Preferment with the noblest Scorn: I hardly look'd with more on those that disgraced it, your A——s, and your B——s, your C——s, and your D——s. The truth is, I saw in this same scurvy World, so many bad Men pass for good; so many Fools for wise; so many Ignorants for Learned; and so many Knaves for honest, and rewarded accordingly, that I was rather provok'd, than mortified. However, I never fretted, but rather diverted my Spleen, with the World's fine Mistakes; and I enjoyed in Petto, that just delight of a truely honest Mind, of either pitying, or contemning every worthless Animal, whose Advancement made him look down on me, with Insolence or Scorn.
Prior. That was a peculiar felicity of Temper.
Swift. It was so, and I enjoy'd it fully. If sometimes, I was weak enough to be angry at such Events, I took care, that my Ill-humour, shou'd be as useful to the Publick, as my good cou'd have been. I ever despised undeserved Grandeur, and misapplied Power, and therefore few People in high Posts, or even Kings or Queens, or Ministers, cou'd ever brag much of my Condescension, in speaking a good Word for them to Posterity, or endeavouring to blind the Eyes of the present Times, by Printing either lies or Truths in their Favour. 'Tis true, I almost as seldom gave them any Proofs of my Spite; partly out of neglect, and a despair of doing any good by it; but chiefly, as I rather chose quarrelling with my Equals, whom I cou'd safely treat as ill as they used me; for after all Tom, tho' a Man hates Lyons and Tygers, there is no great Wit or Wisdom in throwing Stones at them, and provoking the lordly Monsters, to try the strength of their Mouths, or their Fangs on you.
Prior. I entirely agree with you there, Dean, but it is certain, if you was not mortified, you was enraged at the ill Usage your Patriotism drew on you from the Men in Power. This therefore, must have disturbed your mind remarkably, and as I was observing at first had never given you any uneasiness, had you been less zealous in your Country's Service.
Swift. I shall chuse to say little to that; tho' probably had they used me more generously, both they and I had been better pleased. I know my Foes said, if I had not hated the Ministry so much, I had not lov'd Ireland so well, nor fought her Battles so stoutly against a stupid World, and a juncto of Copper-Coiners, Oppressors and Tax-Gatherers. But indeed, Tom, I scorn'd to write from such mean-interested Views and partial Ends; but I wrote because I lov'd Honour, Truth and Liberty, more than fifty Irelands. Nay, upon my Word, if I had liv'd three Winters in Lapland, and found it as much opprest, I would have made War with my Pen on the Danes, with the same Spirit, and attack them for so basely distressing the Slaves that croucht to them, and durst not on pain of Ruin howl under their Rods. I thank Heaven, I got the better of the redoubted Sir Robert, in that important Affair; and if I had liv'd a little longer, and my Organs had not declined too fast, I would have kept all the great Bashaws of Europe in my Dependance as Aretine did.
Prior. Why, Dr. Dean, I was complaining of the hard Fate and ill Usage true Patriots meet with in the World, from its Neglects, if not from its Oppressions; and you stop my Mouth with Declamations of their Worth and their Influence, and make them the most formidable People in it. Don't you consider how easily they are crusht by Power.
Swift. No! But I consider how easily they can crush Power, I mean abused Power, when they attack Oppression and plead for Liberty, and an injured People. If I was to be restored to Life again (which Heaven forbid) and was in the Prime of my Parts and Spirits, I could overturn bad Ministers as easily with my Pen, as Mahomet in his Alcoran says, the Archangel Gabriel did Mountains with the Feather of his Wing. An Author whose Writings are bottom'd on Truth, and influenced by no Motives but the sincere Love of his Country can do Wonders. As he Acts right he fears nothing; and if he be Opprest, his Sufferings do but exalt his Character and encrease his Strength as well as his Courage. I ever found this true by Experience, I never had more Spirit, more Resolution, than when I was most eminently injured; nor did I ever exert my self in a more distinguished Manner than when the Interests of two Kingdoms were both at Work, and labouring by the help of a Villain in Scarlet Robes, to String me up as a Trumpeter of Rebellion. God forgive the Enemies of sincere Patriots, who make use of all their Arts and their Power to crush and oppress them; but tho' I pray for them, I must own Tom, if Beggars, were to be chusers, I had rather they should be forgiven after they had been severely punish'd for their misdeeds, for otherwise, when Oppressors gall Men or Nations too long, Providence bears half blame.
Prior. I shall submit to all you advance Dean, provided you quit this Subject, (which I unluckily started) and go to another, which I came to talk about, and is of more Importance; I mean our poor Country, and its present State and Circumstances; when I died, I thought I had left it in a very improving way, and on the mending hand, by my Writings and my constant Labours in its Service, and had I liv'd a little longer, I wou'd have wrote some Tracts, that wou'd have prevented some Distresses, which I hear, are likely to fall heavy on her.
Swift. Dreams! Whims! and Delusions! If you had wrote your self as blind as Milton did, what Service cou'd you do a Nation that never thinks. You might as well expect to cure the Deaf by talking to them; Idiots by reasoning with them; or to rouse the Dead as the Romans did by bawling and weeping for their miserable Condition. If they had been retrievable by any Writings, I may justly say, they had been retrieved by mine.
——Si Pergama dextra,
Defendi possent, etiam hâc defensa fuissent.
But all such hopes are vain. Preach to Fishes and talk to Wolves like St. Anthony and St. Francis, and try what Change it will make in them, and be assur'd, just so much and no more, would your Arguments and Eloquence do, with our heedless Countrymen. I told them of their Danger, and every impending Ruin in Print, Winter after Winter, as regularly as Men wish People a good Year, every first of January; for let me tell you Tom, repetitions of this Sort, are as necessary in a Nation, that will not readily mind good Advice, as crying Fire! Fire! in a City in Flames, where all are drunk or asleep, and must either rouse and bestir themselves, or Perish. I cannot help boasting a little on this Subject, I have a Title to it; these Hands were almost as useful to the People of I——d, as Moses's were to the Jews: When I lifted them up, all went well; when I dropt them, all went wrong. However, I must own, that as to the bulk of the Nation, tho' I tried them, and studied them, for half a Century, I ever found that they wou'd not be at the pain of thinking, for half an hour, to secure their ease and happiness for half a Year. But, pray Tom, before you speak of the Distresses that menace I——d, let me hear what Grounds you have to say, She was, in a tolerable improving way, and on the mending hand (as you call'd it) when you died. I have heard indeed, from the Ghosts of some half-starved Silk-Weavers, and some Manufacturers of Irish Woollen Goods, that died of Hunger and Poverty, that I——d was vastly improv'd, as to Elegance of Taste, in her Gentry, as to eating and drinking: That they understood Musick, infinitely better than their Ancestors; that they drest vastly more agreeably than their stupid Grandmothers, and shew'd more good Sense in the nice choice of their Suits, and the Fancy and richness of their Cloaths, as well as the modest way of imitating naked Eve, in wearing them, than the last Age did. I was assured also, that they danced inconceivably finer than ever; that their Races, and their Subscriptions for them, quite surpast all Imagination; and that they gam'd deeper, and lost their Guineas with more ease and politeness, even to Strangers and Sharpers, than their Fathers did their Shillings to one another. As to any other Improvements, and particularly as to Learning, Virtue, or Piety, (which probably were over-look'd in the Account) they poor famish'd Devils, cou'd tell me nothing of them.
Prior. You are very merry Dean with the madness of our Countrymen, but I fear by and by, I shall hear another Story, and be as melancholy with their Miseries. However, as you desire it, I shall give you a fair Account what these Improvements were, which made me think our poor Country was in a tolerable Way. And in the first Place, I shall mention our numerous and extended Turnpikes, which have been carried on with incredible Application and surprizing Expence in all Parts, and I had almost said, brought to every Town, of the least Name, or Consequence in the Kingdom. Of what infinite Advantage this must prove to the Ease and Convenience of all Travellers, to the facilitating and promoting our inland Commerce, and the general Service of Trade, I need not tell you.
Swift. Ah, Tom, I know very well, if I——d had almost as many high Ways in it as the Ocean, what Advantages it would produce to us. This was one of the great Arts of the ancient Romans, who had prodigious Roads running thro' every Province, in a strait Line to the Capital of the Empire. But Alas! We copy them in our boasted Causeways, as we do in our Standing Armies, without having any real Business for either of them. I will for some Time, at least, drop the delicate Subject of our Troops; but as to the other Point, I must say, I think it is a Curse upon us, that we can't even copy a good Example (for bad Ones we do more adroitly) but we do it in a tricky dirty Manner, and with as many Deviations as we can. Why, dost thou not know, Tom, what base filthy Jobs, Knaves, and Mean-foul'd Wretches have made, and do still make of these magnified Turnpikes. I was once fix'd to write a Book of all the Cheats, and all the Reptiles, of what Quality or Station soever concern'd in them, but I found it would be so voluminous, that I left the Care of it to Posterity, as one of the largest Branches of Irish History, and Wisdom. But to dwell as little on such melancholy Disgraces of our Country, as I can, I will chuse only to hint to you, that fine Roads, without Travellers, and Stage-Coaches, without Passengers, are useless Things, that must soon be dropt; and without Manufactures, and proper Employment to set us at Work, can neither be for Use or Pleasure. Indeed, if we had Trade, and the Roads were fairly finish'd, they might help it; but in the mean Time, methinks we are in his Case, who built the Mill, without knowing whence to bring Water to it, or where to procure Grist for it. Nay, to make bad worse, after so many Acts for Turnpikes, you cannot but know, Tom, that we want one general Act to make them all passable. I am loth to be too severe on them, and those who make Pence by spoiling them; and therefore I will only say, passable for Footmen at least; for as to Carriages, if they are allowed to be driven on some of these Roads, they will be the utter Ruin of each other. But as I am quite sick of this, prithee Tom, let us go to some other Improvements of Ireland.
Prior. Why, the next I shall mention is one, which you cannot easily talk me out of, and that is, our prodigious Number of Converts; which, considering the Prejudices of a bigotted People, (envassaled to Rome, and Superstition) exceeds all Belief. It is a Matter of the highest Consequence to our Welfare, that we have so astonishing a Crowd of all Ranks, Fortunes, and Circumstances that have come over to our Church, who were formerly our inveterate Enemies, and are now perfectly united to us, both in our religious and political Interests: This is not only a great discomfort, and weakening to the Popish Party, but a considerable Encouragement and Strength, to all who wish well to the Protestant Religion in Ireland. As the Papists are now quite depriv'd, of all Men of Fortune, Family or Character, that were capable of heading their Attempts, or forming their Schemes of any Sort; I have ever look'd on this Affair of our numerous Converts, as likely to contribute emnently to the Peace and Prosperity of this Island. By this means, those spiritual Factions, which have often produced such fatal Effects here, by Rebellions and national Massacres, will be utterly extinguished, and both Conformists, Dissenters and Papists, will in a little Time, live in as much Harmony and Good-Humour together; as if our Statesmen had learn'd the Art of Father Boubours's Friend, who he tells us, had taught a Dog, a Cat, and a Mouse, to eat quietly together.
Swift. The Dissenters live in Harmony and good Humour! What, Tom, cannot even the Grave open your Eyes; as to those Favourites of yours, the Dissenters, after all the Pranks they have been playing of late, as if they had a mind to make good, all I ever writ against them: But keep your old kind Opinion of them, Tom, to your self, for I shall not dispute on it now, because a few Years, and a few Facts, will shew you fully what they drive at, and so to that great Explainer Time, I leave them, unless you start the Subject hereafter. As to our Converts which are our present Topick, I shall only say, when you consider how they manage, whose Interests they espouse, and who they herd with, you will not be too ready to vouch for their Sincerity, or build on their Friendship, especially when their Conversion is brought about, by worldly Interests, and securing their Estates. They remember, I fancy the Advice of Alexander the Great to the Athenians, who refused to own him for a God:
2Videte Athenienses ne dum Cœlum custodiatis, Terram amittatis,
and therefore they take Care, not to sacrifice their Lands and Tenements, to Opinions that are equally inconsistent and inconvenient. As for the Story of Father Boubours's Friend, I shall only answer it, with one of Father Henepius, who was a very honest Missionary, and had made some Converts among the Indian Savages. In the small Number of those he had brought over, he met with an old Woman, whom he had taken so much pains in instructing, that at last he had thoroughly convinc'd her; and having admitted his new Christian to Baptism, he made her a present (and a very agreeable one to the Savages) of a Pound of Tobacco: In a few Weeks, (after behaving very well) this old Woman comes to Father Henepin, and tells him her Tobacco was gone, and begs of all Love, he wou'd give her another Pound, and she wou'd then consent to be Christned anew. I will make no Application, Tom, but if any of your Irish Conversions, seem to bear some Resemblance with this, as to their Motives and Conduct, I think you need not boast much of any Advantages, to be deriv'd from them.
Prior. I look on our Converts in a very different Light; Numbers of them are unquestionably sincere; and if any of them may be justly suspected, I am sure their Children, and Grand-Children; will be actually as good Protestants, as any in England, where a few Generations ago, all were bigotted Slaves to Rome and Popery. Upon this Footing it is, that I will also reckon up to you, our Charter working Schools, as another great Improvement in I——d, and which gave me great Hopes of our drawing prodigious Advantages from them. The Janizaries, who are Sons of Christians taken Captives in their Infancy, are not a greater Strength to the Turks, or a greater weakening to their Enemies, than these Children, will be to our Church and Kingdom. This is the Surest, and safest Method of striking at the Root of the Popish Party, in our divided Country; and will secretly and without Noise or Violence, or the Terror of Penal Laws, sap and undermine their great Support their Numbers, and that old partition Wall of the Irish Tribes, and the English Families, and make us in Time but one People. There are few Counties in the Kingdom, that have not one, or more, Charter Schools establish'd in them; and as the Children, I am told, are computed to near fifteen Hundred, and will probably in a few Years, amount to double that Number, I cannot but hope to see great Effects from this happy Institution.
Swift. Why truly, Tom, in three or four Centuries, something may be done; but Schools and Children are as slow a way of working, as sowing Acorns, in order to raise Forests, for building Fleets and Cities. Besides, the Funds allowed this noble Design, are so small, as if they were subscrib'd by Papists, in order to cramp it, and lessen its Efficacy; whereas the Contributions ought to be as extended as its Views, and suited to the removal of our great national Defect, our religious Differences. Neither ought such an important Scheme, to be left depending on Fits of good Humour, and the Yearnings of Charity, which are influenced so much by the Variations of popular Opinion, and Changes of Weather, and Times, and Seasons. Withall I must tell you, Tom, that the whole Body of the Popish Clergy, have been so violent in opposing it, by denying the Communion and Absolution, to all their Members, that send Children to such Schools, and cursing it and them, with Bell, Book, and Candle, in all their Congregations, that I apprehend it will be yet harder, to get Children to fill the Schools, than even a Fund to maintain them there.
Prior. It must be owned the popish Clergy have done their utmost, to discredit and overturn this Design. This however, is a stronger Proof of the exceeding Usefulness of it, than of their Prudence in thwarting it so violently, as they confessedly have done. However, as this is a Scheme which his Majesty has so generously, and so warmly espoused, I am the more inclined to believe, that from his Royal Protection, it will probably operate more expeditiously, than you imagine: And if these wise Priests will consider, that if they go on to undermine these Plans of their Governors, it may force them to blow up at once, their whole Church Government, and oblige all Priests, on pain of High Treason, to take out all their Titles from the King, or Protestant Bishops only, it may make them more cautious and moderate in their mighty Zeal. A Priest in Ireland, shou'd be as quiet, and as passive, as a Protestant Minister in France; and if once they are so, we shall soon find our Charter Schools more crowded than their Mass Houses, and their Parents, as manageable as their Children.
Swift. I am afraid their fixt Opposition to our Government may produce some wholesome Statutes to curb their ill-judg'd Zeal; but if they behave with Decency, and a due Submission to the Laws and the Government, I shou'd be sorry to see any Severities thought necessary.
Prior. So shou'd I, and probably their own Prudence and Moderation may prevent it; and to that we may leave it. In short, dear Dean, 'tis as easy removing this Evil, as drawing a loose Tooth, if it gives us no Pain, there it may stay 'till it rots; if it does Pain us, and severely too, out it must go, and let those who give the Pain look to it. But I will drop this Subject, and go on to another considerable Improvement, that has of late Years been carried on with particular Emulation and Success, and that is, the surprising Improvement in the Breed of both our black Cattle, and our Horses. The first of these, we have taken uncommon Care about, by Importing great Numbers of the finest Bulls and Heifers, from England. It is true, the fatal Disease, that infected most of the horned Beasts for some Years past in Great Britain, forc'd us to suspend our Importations of them for some Time; but nevertheless, I will be bold to say, there are but few breeding Counties, on the other Side of the Water, which produce Cattle that excell those, which are bred by a vast many of our Gentlemen, either as to Beauty, Size, Leather, or Milk.
As to our Horses, it is confest by the best Judges, that by bringing over the noblest Stallions, and the highest bred Mares, we may boast of having raised the Character of both our Racers and Hunters to a surprizing Degree. We send over great Numbers every Year abroad and I am assured, that in the French King's Stables, they make as great a Figure, and are as much esteemed, as those of any Country in Europe, if we except Great Britain. Our Nobility and Gentry, are so passionately fond of keeping fine Studs, and the highest priced Cattle For Blood and Performance, that if they go on, as they have hitherto done, to lay out such large Sums in indulging this Humour, we may in Time expect to pay Part of the dreadful Importation of French Claret, by our Irish Horses.
Swift. I wonder you don't brag of our Importing Jack-Asses, and breeding Mules here, among your other mighty Nothings you boast of so magnificently. For my part, Tom, I see no great Advantage to the Service of Ireland, that a few private Gentlemen have improv'd the Breed of the horned Cattle. You may as well argue, that some of our Irish Senators marrying a few celebrated Toasts for their Beauty, wou'd improve the natural homeliness of the Commonality.
Indeed the Improvement made in the Breed of our Irish Horses, I believe will grow very general, and have more enlarged Consequences, among our People, as Racing favours some of their darling Passions, their Indolence and Idleness, Gaming and Drinking, and the helping our Fox-Hunters off, with their Time and their Fortunes, which I ever thought, two of the greatest Burdens to our Irish Gentlemen in the World. If they wou'd turn themselves, to breed Cattle to mount our Troops, or draw our Carriages, they might indeed save us 5000l. a Year, and do something truly beneficial to our Country; but, Tom, they have Souls above the little Views of being useful, and managing their Expences, and keeping our Cash in the Kingdom, are low Arts and Tricks, fitter for the mean Notions of a Merchant or a Mechanick, than Men of Fortune and Family, that are as proud and as thoughtless as so many noble Spaniards.
Prior. Well, Dean, in spite of all your Objections, I think I have nam'd several considerable Improvements, in our poor Country, which gave me Reason to say, she was on the mending Hand; and I have not nam'd all, for the very encrease of our Numbers of late Years, is a vast Addition to our Strength, Credit, and Figure, as a Nation. I think the Dealers in Political Arithmetick, compute that every Nation, unwasted by Famines, Wars, or Plagues, doubles the Quantity of its People in 250 Years; but I have seen Computations, that between our early Marriages, the Breedyness of our People, the Importations of our Neighbours, the Mildness of our Climate, and the Fertility of our Soil, evidently prove, that we have frequently doubled the Amount of our Inhabitants in half that Time. The Truth is, the matter of Fact is so incontestable, that I need not recollect all the Proofs, on which they ground their Assertion; but I shall only observe to you, Dean, that this is a very singular Advantage, since it is certain, that we out breed the Jews, and in spite of our Wars and Massacres, we seem to multiply like the Polypus, by being cut to Pieces.
Swift. Stuff and Nonsense! To tell me of our Numbers, when they only serve to multiply our Wretchedness and Miseries: Does this prove us on the mending Hand, as you term it? Why you talk like a Physician, that wanted more Fees for doing nothing! 'Tis hard, Tom, you cannot be in the Right sometimes, and speak Truth now and then. Did ever Man before you boast of having Crowds of Beggars? And what are we else? For I verily think, tho' Sir William Petty says, Nature never design'd above one in 500 to beg by forcing them on the Charity of others, (thro' some Lameness, Crookedness, or other accidental Debility, that incapacitates them to Labour) that in Ireland one in seventy are Beggars, (at least for the Summer Season,) and sixty of the Remainder incapable of relieving them, thro' their own Distresses. All the Advantages we have thro' the encrease of our Inhabitants, is, that for want of being employ'd, they furnish us with Thieves, Pilferers and Sharpers, private Wenches, and common Whores, Cheats and Robbers, Pickpockets, Gamesters, Tinkers and Vagabonds. We get also by this blessed means some Foundlings for our Hospitals, and Brats for our Charter Schools, Shoe-boys, and News Criers, and when they're grown up, Recruits for the holy Convents and Nunneries, and the wise and reverend Body of the Popish Priests. We have also the Advantage of able bodied Volunteers, for the Armies of our dear Allies the French; Shoals of Transports, that escape from the Gallows, to the Plantations abroad, and a superfetation of Felons, to give a little Business to our Judges, Justices, and Hangmen at home, and to keep up an Appearance of our being govern'd like other Nations. How many Thousands do we see, take their flight abroad every Year, like Birds of Passage, to search for Food and Subsistance in other Countries? How many Thousands never return again to us, no more than Prisoners to their Confinement, when they've broke loose from their hard Fare, and their Fetters. I do not exaggerate in the least; our Numbers, till we can give them Business at home, are as much a Curse and a Burthen as too large a Garrison in a besieged Town that wants Provisions: If, as political Writers agree, the true Interests of any Country consists in the Prosperity not of some, but of all the People in it, then I am sure Ireland, with her boasted Numbers, is in a bad way; as all her poor Popish Natives, or in other Words, three-fourths of her swarming Inhabitants, have neither Houses, Cloaths, Work, Food, or Fire. This is a dismal self-evident Truth, that demands the serious Consideration of every Irishman, that can think, or can learn to think. At the same Time, our Nobility and Gentry set their Lands excessively high, get their Rents paid to a Penny, have as little fear of Wars or Taxes as of Famines, and live as well (rambling, and squandering their Fortunes all over the World) as any People whatever, without one uneasy Thought, as to the Circumstances of those Crowds of their Countrymen that are starving here. The Truth is, few Men are sick of other People's Ailments; and as these honest Gentlemen find themselves quite at Ease, they can't think others are in Misery. It puts me in mind, Tom, of the famous La Bruyere's Account of a great Statesman in France, who sign'd an Arret, that wou'd have starv'd some Millions of People; however, says he, in his sarcastical way, he is to be excused, for how cou'd he, with his Stomach full of Meat, and his Head fuming with Wine, have any notion of a whole Province perishing with Hunger? In other Countries, where some Care is taken to employ their Hands, and secure them Necessaries of Life, within the reach of their Labour, their Numbers are their Strength and their Happiness; but here where nobody thinks for us, and we are too sottish or desperate to think for ourselves; our Numbers only increase our Misfortunes, like Lice on a diseased and famish'd Beggar. Our common Irish are cloathed with Rags, that wou'd disgrace a Dunghill in Holland; they live five Months in the Year without Food, unless you will call Potatoes and Salt by that Name; nay, they live without Houses, unless Holes twice as big, and twice as dirty, as an English Hogsty, deserve that Title, which they Build too, just for a Year, as Birds build their Nests, and then away to another Place in the Spring. And to brag of our Numbers, in such deplorable Circumstances, is just as rational, as for a Miller to brag of having Thousands of Rats in his Mill, tho' they are starving and thieving, and ready to eat up one another, for a little more Room and Plunder.
Prior. Dear Dean, you are too severe, and have too imbitter'd a way of Speeching, on all Things relating to Ireland. I reckon the encrease of our Hands the greater Blessing, as the advancement of our Linen Business is likely in some Years, to find Employment for Crowds of our People; and consequently to give them all the Conveniences, as well as the Necessaries of Life, in a reasonable Plenty: The prodigious Progress which this useful Manufacture, had made among us, was also another Reason for my saying, I left Ireland on the Recovery, when I was call'd Home: It generally encreases about 20,000 l. per Ann. on an Average; and begins to spread so very fast in Leinster, Connaught and Munster, that in a little Time we may hope to see many Thousands of Families, which are now famishing, easy in their Circumstances, and useful to their Country. We begin to be convinced, that our chief view herein must be to increase the Number of Acres sowed with Flax-Seed, and the Spinners who Manufacture it; for if these were doubled (and with Care and Time they will be doubled) they wou'd soon enrich us, and employ many Hands, that are now a Burthen to us. 'Tis certain there is not by the fairest Computation, over the fifteenth Part of our People employ'd at present in this Business; and it ought to be our great Care, to have as many busied this way, in the other three Provinces, as there are in Ulster. Twenty Thousand Acres of Flax will furnish us with Materials enough, to keep an eighth part of our People employ'd; and as we neither want Ground enough to supply us with sufficient Quantities of excellent Flax, nor Hands to work it up, if we wou'd use them; there is little doubt, but by proper Laws, if we can get them, and well judg'd Premiums, if we are allowed them, we shall soon see this blessed Affair establish'd. There is no danger of growing too large a Quantity of Flax, or of manufacturing too large a Stock of Linen; the demand for them is so considerable already, and will encrease every Day, with our Skill and Industry in the Manufacture; and if we enlarge the Sallaries of our Lappers, and thereby secure the Credit of their Seals, it is probable, we shall outwork, and under sell all our Rivals.
Swift. A very fine and a very plausible Account of Things; but do you know, Tom, of no Objection against this promising Calculation of yours? Are there no Fears to ballance these growing Hopes, and mighty Prospects?
Prior. None that I know of, Mr. Dean. I have exaggerated nothing, but candidly represented the true State of this Manufacture; nay I ought to have added to it, the flourishing State of our Cambricks in Ulster, and particularly at Dundalk; where we have as happy an Example set us in the North, as a certain Baronet, and Friend of mine, has given us in the South; what our Nobility and Gentry can do to help us, when they Employ an enlarged Fortune, and an improv'd Understanding, in advancing our Manufactures, and labouring to enrich and enliven our Country. I might justly have brought in also, the reasonable Hopes we have, that our Hempen Manufactures, may in a few Years, be so assisted, as to enable us to give Wings to the Navy of Great Britain, and Shirts to her Seamen; to her great saving, and our equal Gain and Honour. By this means, the rich Lands in Munster and Connaught, may be as happily employ'd, as the less fertile Fields, in the North; and have no Reason to Envy the superior Industry and Wealth of their Neighbours: And then our Women, (who used to be the most useless Members of our Country, before they distinguish'd themselves in our Linen Business,) wou'd have a new Opportunity given them, to shew themselves the best, and the most industrious Creatures in it.
Swift. I think, Tom, we may spare our Compliments to the Women, now we are dead, who paid so little Regard to them while we were living. But to pass by that, I must tell you, I have let you go on a long while, without contradicting you on this favourite Article, which I always think on with satisfaction, as it is the staple Commodity of this Island, and the chief Support of our Poor. But you shou'd act the Part of one of those faithful Lappers you were talking of, and put the worst part of their Cloth Manufacture outmost, and then Matters wou'd wear a very different Aspect. Do you consider what a dangerous Rival Scotland has been, and is likely more and more every Day to prove, to this miserable Country; and with how much ease she may exert her Jealousy against us, to the cramping, or possibly, to the blasting all our Hopes. Do you reflect, how she may reduce you to the precarious Dependance of sending over every Sessions a Linen Bill; and to hold the very Subsistance of our Manufactures, or in other Words, the Life of Ireland, by her sole Will and Pleasure.
Prior. I have often heard this Objection started, but never thought there was Danger enough in it to deserve an Answer, because I am convinced, it is equally false and absurd. Great Britain knows and feels, that the improving these Manufactures here, is of vast Service to her, as it weakens her Enemies, and strengthens her Friends; and that all she pays us with one Hand, is quickly repaid by us into the other. Scotland also knows, that there is a vast demand for all the Linens she and Ireland can work up; and that England alone consumes above the Value of a Million, imported by Foreigners, more than she and Ireland can supply her with: She knows therefore, that there is no Cause for Rivalship, and if there was, she wou'd exert herself to discourage the Manufactures of Foreigners, before she wou'd attempt to ruin a Sister Nation, so closely united to her in the great Cause of Religion and Liberty, and all the weighty Interests that tie Nations together. This is so evedent, so sacred a Truth, that I am so far from being jealous of Opposition and Rivalship from that Quarter, that I am confident of all that Assistance and Encouragement to our Linens, which has been so often promised from Great Britain, and made good to us, by the repeated Orders of our Kings; and not only by the Speeches of our Lords Lieutenants, but by the most useful Laws from the Throne. Nay, I doubt not, if by any evil Arts of our Enemies, any distress or obstruction, should hereafter be procured to our Manufacturers; we shou'd find on a candid Complaint of our Injury, an immediate Redress from that honest Spirit, which ever regulates the English Councils, and makes them detest tricky Politicks, as much as open Oppression, and has ever inspired them with a noble Zeal, to assist and protect the righteous Cause of Truth, Industry and Liberty.
Swift. It may be so! very likely—but possibly, Tom, her aid might come too late for our Misery; and we might cry out, like the poor Roman Knight Lancia, who bawl'd out for help, when the Pile he was laid on, was all in Flames, and his Friends could do him no Service. Besides, Tom, not to mention that your rising Manufacture fell last Year 132,000 l. Have you not heard how your last Linen Bill, was so miserably mutilated, that it was forc'd to be dropt; and that the Nation was fobb'd off with a senseless Tale of a sleepy heedless Clerk; which if you have not heard, I can give you a full Account of.
Prior. There is no Occasion, for I am quite convinced there was no such Design. Do you think it possible, that Men of high Characters for Honour and Candour, Justice and Integrity, cou'd sport in so infamous a Manner with the Fate of Nations, and the very Bread and Being of a free, a brave, and a loyal People? Can you suppose, such a Personage as was then watching over our Welfare, wou'd from an universal Reputation, for every great and good Quality, turn in an instant to a barbarous Caligula, and Wish to cut off a whole Kingdom at a Blow? Absurd and impossible! 'Tis not only reflecting on our Governors, basely and falsely; but in some Measure on the best of Princes too; since it is impossible we cou'd be subtily and insidiously betray'd by the one, without being secretly doom'd to Ruin by the other. Now this, Mr. Dean, is a Conduct so utterly opposite to his royal Nature and Character, who now gives Glory to the British Throne; that I am persuaded, he is incapable of acting so to his most perfidious Enemies, and much less to the most zealous and faithful Subjects in the World.
Swift. Well, well, Tom, 'tis no Time for us to be quarrelling about Reports and Stories. But now you have done with whitening the Sepulchres of Ireland, give me leave to shew you honestly, and without Flattery, the Dirt and Stench, the Corruption and Rottenness that lurks within. Now,
Audi alteram Partam.
I will shew You——
Prior. Hear me out first, for I am so far from having done, that I have not yet even touch'd on all the Advantages that our Country has received, from the Dublin Society's Premiums; which was one of my chief Reasons, for having consider'd Ireland as upon the Recovery, when I went under-ground like a Tortoise, to be raised again when the Summer comes, after a long Sleep. I need not be very particular on so known and confest a Fact, as the extraordinary Improvements they have made amongst us, in a vast Variety of Articles. We are told Solomon's Writings were so extensive, that he wrote from the Cedar of Lebanon, to the Hyssop that groweth from the Wall; and really their Labours have taken in every Material, every Manufacture, and every Improvement of either of them, that had any claim to their Attention or Encouragement. We may say of their Funds, as Laertes does in Hamlet, 'as for my Means, I'll husband them so well, they shall go far with little;' and it is certain there never was so much done, with so poor an Income, to remedy all our natural Indisposition, to Labour, and Thought, and Industry; to rouse up Thousands who were asleep, and set Numbers on contriving and working, who were dreaming and idling before; and to stop our People from runing abroad, by Wages and Business, and an hope of living to purpose at Home. They gave Premiums, to heighten the Manufacture and Dying of our Woollen Cloths; of our Silks, and our Velvets; of our Blankets; of our Worsteds; of our Cottons; of our Coffoys; Buffs, Lutherines and, Fustians; of our Stockings, and our Carpets, with surprising Success: In our Husbandry they did Wonders also; as to Wheat and Barley; as to Liming, Marling, and Sanding of Land; as to planting of Hops, draining of Bogs; as to raising Liquorish, Saffron and Madder; and as to sowing of Turneps, Clover, St. Foil, Trefoil, and all Kinds of Grass Seeds. They improv'd by a well judged Emulation and proper Rewards, Numbers of our Husbandry Utensils: They set the Nation at Work, in Planting amazing Quantities of Timber Trees, Willows and Osiers for Hop Poles; in raising great Numbers of Orchards, and improving our making of Cyder, home made Wines, and Metheglins; as also in Brewing our Ale and Beer, and giving us Vinegar from our own Fruits, equal to the best in France. They raised the Manufactures of our finest Hats, to a surprising Degree; and they did the same by our Window Glass, and made so great a Progress in our Paper Business, and building of Mills for carrying it on, as if they had got the Mines of Peru, or the Industry of China, to assist them in their Undertakings.
Swift. Well, dear Tom, I suppose you have done now. I have finish'd a Sermon, on a better Subject twice as soon, and yet tir'd my People, God help them, before I had half done.
Prior. I see you don't relish the Transports of my Zeal on this Subject, which gives me such high Delight; so I shall mention but cursorily many Articles that remain, and shall pass by a Crowd in Silence, that well deserv'd my dwelling on them: What I shall begin the remaining part of my Catalogue with, is their exerting themselves with such Assiduity and Success; in Teaching young Lads to Draw and Design skilfully; in setting up Competitions for the best Delf, Roan and Crockery Ware, for Erecting the best Glass Bottle-Houses, for raising of Mulberry Trees, for making of Salt, for working the best Bone-Lace, and the best Imitation of it by the Needle: For the Encouragement of the best Needle-Works in Silk and Worsted; for the Advancement of those lovely Arts Painting, Architecture and Sculpture; for encouraging Tapestry, and enlarging our Fisheries: For improving the Tanning and Currying of our Leather, for the Discovery of Mines and raising of Ores, and for those who should annually Produce the best Invention in useful Arts and Husbandry. In a Word, by turning themselves every way, and applying their little Fund in different Years, to different Uses and Subjects, they seem'd not only to Influence, but even to animate the Whole of our Country; to fire our Hearts, to enlighten our Minds, and stir and strengthen our Hands; and by giving a new Turn to our Thoughts and Motions, to prepare us for yet greater Scenes of Industry, when larger Helps cou'd be got to excite us to it. They have shewn us the vast Effects of a well directed Emulation, and what a few hundred annual Pounds, have already done, and can produce hereafter, by the honest Oeconomy and prudential Directions, of a zealous and judicious Body of Citizens, who Study the Good of their Country. They have also shewn us another undisputed Truth, viz. That if their Fund was enlarg'd, the Good they wou'd do wou'd be proportionably encreased with it, and that little Wonders might be wrought in Ireland, by enlivening the Arts, by Feeding the Hungry, by giving Feet and Hands to the Lame and Lazy, Eyes to the Blind or dim-sighted, and raising the Dead and the Drousy, to Life and Activity.
Swift. Go on, dear Tom, go on, with your Raptures and Enthusiastical Reveries; but pray allow me to ask you one plain Question, what (if all you affirm be true) cou'd possibly hinder, this necessary, and indeed this important Enlargement of their Fund.
Prior. Why really, Mr. Dean, I cannot answer your Enquiry, without throwing one of the heaviest Imputations on a Nation, which I wou'd have Died to serve effectually, and which I spent my Life in labouring to serve, in too narrow and stinted a Manner. It must be confest, too few of our Nobility or Gentry, shew'd that Generosity of Soul to encrease the annual Income of the Society, by their Contributions, as might have been expected, from the Numbers of worthy Men among us, who do us real Honour. It is certain his Majesty set the Nation a noble Example, by Assigning them a Charter, and allowing them an handsome annual Revenue out of his Treasury; and what shou'd hinder Crowds of our worthiest Noblemen and Gentlemen, of large Fortunes and Minds proportioned to them, to Subscribe Ten or Twenty Pounds a Year, to so noble and so successful a Scheme, is hard and perhaps painful to say: I am the more amaz'd at it, as they cou'd not but say, it wou'd have raised Ireland from Idleness to Industry, from Ignorance to Knowledge; from Contempt and Disregard, to Honour and Credit; and wou'd not have left us in fifty Years, an Idler or a Beggar, (which are but synonimous Terms) in the whole Kingdom. A Dish or two sav'd from their Tables, or a Bottle or two from their Revellings, an Horse or two left out of their Stables, nay even a lac'd Coat, or a lac'd Livery sunk: a Night of Gaming, a trifling Frolick, a Jaunt of Pleasure deducted from their usual Expences; or what is still better, a Winter or two spent in doing Good on their own Estates, wou'd more than answer all: It is certain, that it is absolutely incumbent on every Gentleman, I will not say that loves Ireland, but that loves himself and his Family, to do his best to assist so happy a Scheme, so distinguish'd a Society, with his Purse, his Head and his Hands, if he knows how to use any of them. Nay, they shou'd extend the same Methods, and the same Premiums, to their several Provinces, Counties and Cities, for the particular Arts and Manufactures, that are likeliest to thrive there: And if they diffused them to their own Estates, Manors and Tenants, it wou'd in Time with Patience and Management, produce vast Effects, and a strange Revolution in our Circumstances, Customs and Manners. These are Thoughts worthy of Men, of Christians, of Free-born Britons, and rational Creatures! worthy to be planted and nursed in every honest Breast, and to be spread as universally, as the Air we breathe, and the Bounds of Nature and the World. He that has them, and feeds and cultivates them in his Soul, and brings them into common Life and Action in his Country, has a better Claim to the Love of his Maker, or Fellow-Citizens, than if he had founded Empires, or discover'd new Worlds.
Swift. Very well, Tom—but pray will Mankind agree to these fine Doctrines, or will they not rather despise or ridicule them, as a little on the Romantick.
Prior. If the Lazy, the Vicious, and the Selfish laugh at such Notions, and look on such Plans of Things, as Dreams and Visions; the Active, the Virtuous, and the Disinterested, know their real Worth, and wish and labour, to have them spread as widely and as forcibly among Men, as Vices corrupt; and Plagues destroy. I and some others did our best, to propagate such ways of thinking and acting here; but I fear we might to as much Purpose, have admonish'd the modern Italians, to imitate the Courage, Zeal and publick Spirit of the antient Romans, for I did not find, that we made many Converts to our Opinions. However, Charity makes me think, that what chiefly hinders our Gentlemen from acting right, and making such Thoughts the great Rules of their Conduct; is the dread of being Singular, and the unmanly fear of envious Tempers. They apprehend being traduced or sneer'd at, by the common Herd of Mankind for their insolent Zeal, and their daring to set up to serve others, and improve their Countrymen, and therefore they decline it. It is odd how any good, not to say any great Mind, can be overaw'd by so mean a Modesty, by so poor a Terror, as the Censure or Malice of those he labours to serve, and yet Hundreds (I speak from long Experience) are influenced by it. What makes me wonder the more at such Conduct, is, that I am persuaded Malice here below, is not only design'd by the great Author of Good, as a Trial of our Virtue, to see if it is real and constant to the Touch, as the Goldsmith does his Metal by passing it thro' the Fire, but I cou'd even think Malice, is also a sort of Reward to Virtue.
Swift. Bless us all, Tom! Malice a Reward to Virtue! that is something new indeed, Tom.
Prior. It may be absurd also, but I am sometimes inclined to think it so, because it generally encreases and exalts our Worth, and also as it frequently serves to make it appear with the greater Dignity and Glory, when the Malice of Envyers is vanquish'd or silenced. Besides we often see it a direct Spur to noble Actions, and find it stimulates our Ardour to new advances; and when our Souls are firm enough, to smile at and even wish well to our Detractors, it swells the Heart with a nobler Joy, and an higher Delight, than even Virtue in any other Situation can give. But however that may be, I am sure it is the chief Reward of Virtue in this World, and this Age. But to dismiss that Point, I must observe that it has often amaz'd me, to see how few Gentlemen I cou'd persuade to exert themselves, by proper Donations or Subscriptions, to assist a Society that is so eminently useful to their Country.
Swift. I think you have accounted for it pretty well already, I will only add this plain Truth, that Men love their Money better than their Health, or their dear Bodies, to say nothing of their Souls. For this Reason it is, that they don't Care for giving it to Schemes of Notions, and airy Views of Industry, and Improving of Nations; but they keep it for solid Substantial Things, their Racing and Gaming, their Hawks and their Hounds, their Cloaths and their Coaches, their Houses and their Equipages, their Kitchens and Cellars, their Amours and Amusements. They are so far from giving their Money to such Projects and Views, that they will not even give their Thoughts or their Time to them, lest they shou'd be mislead, into the Plague of reading, and thinking, and reasoning; of contriving the best Methods, of punishing the Idle, reclaiming the Vicious, or employing the Poor. Such troublesome Methods, may prove the overthrow of Electioneering and Borough-buying, and their embosom'd Thirst for the poorest Power, the meanest Places, and the basest Gain; and in a Word it wou'd be the Destruction, of all those dirty Jobbs, that enrich private Rogues and beggar Nations. How, dear Tom, cou'd you expect such dissipated Minds, such a listless pleasurable Gentry, wou'd ever contribute a Thought, or a Shilling to improve Ireland, who won't improve one Thousand Acres, to help their Children and feed their Families? Who will not even take the Trouble, or be at the Expence, to lay out Nurseries for adorning their Estates, or plant out Groves and Woods, to make their Residence pleasant to them; nay, who will not even Build good Mansion Houses, or comfortable Offices for themselves or their Posterity? Wou'd such unthinking unactive Mortals, subscribe to Societies, or lighten their Purses to establish Premiums, who tho' they cou'd make themselves and their Fortunes easy, by a little Management, tho' they cou'd starve their Diseases by Temperance, and be an Honour to their Country, by a little Virtue and Dignity of Behaviour, will not think them worth their Attention. One shou'd never expect, mighty Efforts of Goodness or Greatness of Mind, from any Men, or even dream of moderate ones from Irishmen; or at least whoever does, shou'd remember what the Italian says, 'He who lives on Hope dies of Hunger.' As there are few among us, Tom, who have exalted Minds, enlarg'd Understandings, or uncorrupted Hearts, join'd with a noble Contempt, for whatever can happen to us here, it is pretty evident, why their Subscriptions were so few and so mean; for without these transcendent Qualities, 'tis hard to conceive how Men can truly love their Country, and be real sincere Patriots. Numbers have Generosity enough, to relieve a distrest Family, to join for a Ridotto, to set up a Musick Meeting, or an Assembly, or Subscribe for a Week's Races; but they wou'd as soon contribute to the Building of Churches, or endowing Colleges for the Advancement of Learning, as to promote the Trade, the Tillage, the Manufactures, the Welfare of Ireland, by taxing their Pocket, or substracting from their Pleasures. There is however one Excuse, which I must plead for them, notwithstanding all I have said, and that is the too general Despair, of doing any Service to their Country; by such Subscriptions, the Remedy is so disproportioned to the Disease. 'Tis, they think, like Sir Joseph Jekills, leaving 30,000 l. by his Will, to help to pay off the National Debt, of eighty Millions.
Prior. That was a poor Excuse indeed; for a considerable Number of generous Subscriptions, wou'd greatly relieve the Wants and Distresses of Ireland.
Swift. No more than a few Showers of Rain, wou'd quench the Conflagration, if the Pyrenees with all their Forests were on Fire, as we Read they once were. All the Dublin Society did, was to shew what we wanted, and to set an Example, of what might be done, to help our dreadful Ailments: But you might as well expect to work Miracles, and to feed Thousands, like our Saviour, with a few Loaves, as to retrieve a Nation, by throwing a few Widow's Mites into the Treasury. It is true, Nations, with their many Hands, make light Work; but where can the Power be found, to animate and employ Millions, but in the Omnipotence of him who made them, or the force and weight of Monarchs, (the Representatives of Heaven) who Rule and Govern them. All you and your Society cou'd do, was to shew you understood the miserable Condition of Ireland, and to manifest your sincere desire to assist with some Care and Judgment in the Cure; but you cou'd as well remove Mountains by your Faith, as the Ills we groaned under, by so adequate a Remedy, as your impoverish'd stinted Fund.
Prior. Why you will make me lose all Patience, Mr. Dean! Do you think because I have laid aside Flesh and Blood, that I can bear any Thing? Did not I lay before you, a long delightful Account, of almost infinite Services which the Society did Ireland, in improving old Manufactures, or introducing new Ones; in advancing our Husbandry, in encouraging every Art and every Branch of Industry? As I am now a truly rational thinking Creature, I wou'd not willingly lose my Temper, but I solemnly declare, that the Rules the Society prescrib'd, and the Labours they set on Foot, the Fields which they sow'd or they planted, the Houses they got Built, the Rivers they bank'd in, the Bogs which they drain'd, the Marshes they laid dry, and the Lands they gain'd from the Ocean, have alter'd the very Nature and Face of the Country, and chang'd even the Air and the Climate for the better!
Swift. Stuff, Nonsense, Madness! One wou'd think you were alive still, Tom, by your furious flourishing on Nothing, or Trifles next to nothing. The Nature and Face of the Country alter'd, and even the Air and the Climate chang'd for the better! Have you a Mind to talk my Reason away, or make a Jest of my zeal for Truth? This is the old way of prating and vaunting in Ireland, that used to make me, and every Friend to it sick of such unmeaning Declamations. We are such Fools as ever to be bragging of our Soil and our Linens, our Wealth and our Plenty, our Weather and our Climate, as if we strove to bring over a greater Crowd of English Refugees hither.
Prior. Refugees! dear Dean, how can you indulge such an Acrimony of Speech? That is not only an invidious, but a sarcastical and barbarous Expression.
Swift. Not a whit. I speak only of such as come over to us, for their Love to Religion, for the hope of Liberty of Conscience, whatever they believe, or Preferments in the Church, whatever they Practice, or to avoid Persecution from Men arm'd with Power and the Laws, the Rapaciousness of Creditors, and the Insolence of Sheriffs and Bailiffs, and to live at peace here, with quiet Minds and easy Circumstances. This is a true Notion of a Refugee, and I think such People come over fast enough without such ostentatious Proclamations to give them new Encouragements: My Conduct always took a different Turn, and if I had liv'd a little longer, I had wrote a Treatise to prove Ireland, the most inhospitable and barbarous of all habitable Islands, and the very Piss-pot of the Western World. I even made it a Rule to rail at it all I could, to frighten such People from coming hither, lest hearing there was Corn in the Land, shou'd invite them over to eat it up, while we were kept Starving. You pretend to take Offence at my Expressions, but I see plainly, what vext you was, because forsooth I reflected with some Spleen, on your little huckstering Society, with its two-penny Rewards and three-penny Premiums, for going any silly Errands you sent People on; and so in mere Contradiction you make them reform our Heaven and our Earth, and mend our very Climate and the Face of Nature. For my part as to the Face of Nature and the Country, I know no great Alterations, but the shaving her Beard close, and cutting down all her Woods, so that we now pay 40,000 l. per Annum for imported Timber. When I was an Inhabitant of this lower World, I remember I lov'd the Country well enough in the Summer Season; but I cou'd not bear to spend much Time in it, as I never cou'd Walk or ride in a single Field; that did not put me in a Passion, either to see it as wild as ever Nature left it after the Mud of the Deluge; or at least not so much improv'd as it might be, if the Owner had common Sense or common Industry. What ever enrag'd me most was, that tho' such Fellows I knew by Experience, wou'd venture their Limbs or their Necks for a Guinea, yet they had not the Skill to make Five Pounds more of their Ground than they got by it, tho' a little Labour and Art wou'd have done the Thing. When I look'd on my Airings on the wild Wastes of rich Lands unbuilt and untill'd, I sigh'd for the want of Houses and Tenements, of Welders and Plows; and when after ten Miles riding, I found some lame Attempts after such Things, I was still more vex'd to see our Cabbins, and what we call'd our Corn Grounds, no more resembling the Buildings and Tillage of England, than an Ape does a Man. I really don't expect that Ireland will ever be properly improv'd, till the Millennium makes the whole Earth a Paradise; and then after a long Struggle between Heaven and Nature, we may chance to come in for a share; tho' at present Heaven is so little minded here, as to Churches or Chapels, or national Piety, that I don't wonder to see the Land running into a Desart every Hour, fill'd with Beasts and a few Savages.
Prior. I see, Dean, you have not forgot your old way of thinking and speaking. It is well there is no Pen and Ink, or Printing allow'd under Ground; or else we shou'd have old work below Stairs——
Sub Terris tonnuisse putes——
As the witty Classick expresses it.
Swift. If there was, I wou'd raise a little Earthquake yet in this Kingdom. But I have not forgot, Tom, nor I cannot yet forgive your strange Rant of improving the very Climate in Ireland. If it was, I wou'd not curse it, as Harry the Eighth's Fool did the fine Weather, for taking all the good Company abroad from him, but I shou'd rail at it and you for another Cause; for fear of bringing us better Company than I desire in Ireland. I must confess honestly, that our Winter begins very late, and hardly appears till about the End of December, and is gone before the beginning of February. But then it must be own'd, that we have but very little Spring, unless it be of Grass and Weeds; and that our Autumn lasts but very few Weeks, without any Harvest to gather in, but a little pittance of Corn and some half made Hay; and as for our Summers (as we call them) they come as it were by Chance, now and then one, when Spain and Italy have done with them. Nay, even then, we only get them, as Servants do their surfeited Masters broken Meals; half hot, half cold, in little Scraps and Morsels that do us no Good. In short, Tom, a Summer in Ireland when it wanders thither, is of as little Service as fair Weather in Greenland, where nothing is the better for it, but vast Swamps and Savannahs and a wild waste of Plains and Mountains, a few rational Brutes that dwell in Caves and Holes of the Rocks, and a parcel of Hares and Deers, which they live tollerably on, while they have Light enough to hunt them. And to talk of mending our Climate, where nothing but a general Conflagration can dry the Land, or purge the Dampness of our unelastick Air, is as absurd as the Philosophers Sun-dial in the Grave. Ah, Tom, I was always a very Atmospherical Creature; and often have the Rains of Ireland sunk my Spirits, and made me envy those happy Climates, where the Natives toast in the Sunshine, till they almost grow tir'd of it, and rejoice for Rain and bad Weather, like so many Hackney Coachmen.
But as I hope you have done with all your mighty Reasons, for thinking Ireland on the mending hand, I expect you will indulge me now, while I give you mine, why I think her in a very dangerous declining Situation.
Prior. With all my Heart, provided you will allow me the Priviledge of a free Conference, and bear with my opposing, whatever I think is wrong in your Assertions, and let me canvass your Opinions where I want Information or Proofs. I came to call on you, in order to Talk over all that I thought dangerous or distressful, in our present Circumstances and our future Prospects; and to consider what hope we can strike out of Relief or Comfort, for this neglected People and Country; and I promise before hand, I shall not contradict you in any Thing, where you do not force me to it, by an over-bearing Zeal, or a querulous Temper.
Swift. A fair Preliminary, to which I readily Subscribe. Now the first Reason, Tom, why I have uneasy fears for our Country, and for my having little Expectation of mending her Circumstances is, the utter absence of all Industry and Frugality among us. There is no other Remedy for a thoughtless Nation, which gets little or nothing from others, but saving all it can; and being frugal in proportion to its Indolence and Poverty. This is a self-evident Truth, and yet our Nobility and Gentry spend in Vanity and Luxury, treble as much as Men of twice their Fortune in England, tho' they do not half the Good among their Tenants, and neither spend half the Time or Money with them, or take half the pains to improve them, while they every Year encrease their Rents, and our Beggars: 'Tis dismal to make the poor Tenant give the full Tale of Brick, tho' we give them no Straw, and that we starve them, by sending our Money abroad for foreign Commodities, to feed our Extravagance, and gratify our Madness for importing Fopperies; tho' we hurt our Families for the present, and ruin our Poor for ever, who dare not set up Manufactures they know will not be worn. Surely in a Kingdom where no body looks to his own Affairs, as they are connected with the Publick, 'tis Time the Publick shou'd look to every Bodies. What a melancholy Prospect is it, to see fine Cloaths, fine Equipages, fine Race Horses, fine Laces, fine Dishes, deep Play and deep Drinking, the Glory and delight of our People of Fashion; and Ease, and Sloth, and Sleep, and Potatoes, the chief Joy of our Lifeless neglected Natives. Is not such a Nation like a Ship set on Fire on one end, and sinking by a thousand Shot-holes and Leaks, at the other? If we were a little frugal, we might the better bear the Loss we undergo by our Idleness and Inactivity; but when our Gentlemen sacrifice so much to their Pleasures, and our Ladies to their Finery, both which they wisely seek for from foreign Productions, we must be undone unless we prevent our Destruction, by resolving to Work and be busy. There is no Alternative——, one of these two Things we must do; we must either be less Mad for the Manufactures and Products of other Nations, or we must enlarge our Industry, and make Reprisals thereby on our Neighbours, in order to keep our People alive and easy while they are Living. Possibly I may have said this before, Tom, and probably I shall say it again, for a full Heart and a troubled Mind, is apt to deal in Repetitions, when they grow almost desperate, and see little hope of a Change for the better.
Prior. Dear Dean, I own I shou'd be glad to contradict you, as to these dismal Representations of Things; but I have learn'd since I left a false World, to love Truth, tho' it be ever so strong against us, or puts us and our Actions in ever so bad a Light. It is too certain Industry and Frugality are the two great Sources of Prosperity in all Nations; and it is a mortifying Reflection to consider what a miserable Share we have in either of them here. 'Tis as certain if we be Frugal and Industrious, we must be easy and happy, as that we must be wretched and miserable, if we continue our Love to Expence and our hatred to Labour. Nay Frugality and Wealth, which is the Consequence of it, will not do, unless we are diligent Workers too; for Spain is a Proof, and so is Portugal, that even Hoards of Money will not enrich a Nation, unless their Gold is used to promote Industry among the meaner Sort, and to raise their Thoughts above Sleep, and Rags, and Dirt, and Inactivity.
Swift. Very true, Tom, and indeed one wou'd hope unless Heaven has irrecoverably doom'd us to Destruction, there are sufficient Remains of common Sense and Honesty left among our Countrymen, to new form our Manners in these Regards, and improve their ways of Thinking and Acting. In such Case, they may in two or three Centuries learn to believe, Frugality and Industry, Arts and Manufactures worth encouraging, and their Luxury and Debauchery, and an utter Absence of all Regard to the Publick, worth Reforming. It is a shocking Truth to say all this wou'd be done, if Men wou'd but own themselves oblig'd, and wou'd therefore resolve to behave, like reasonable Creatures: And yet this is a Point as hard to bring about, as if we were arguing with Hottentots, and persuading Tartars to forbear publick Plunders, and to have some regard to Right and Wrong, and the real Happiness and Misery of themselves and their Posterity.
Prior. I agree with you entirely, Mr. Dean, and indeed if we cou'd cure our national Ailments by Writing and Speaking, as People who profess removing Disorders, by Words and Charms, what you and I and some others have Publish'd, might have done the Work: But alas! pressing Industry and Frugality on many of our People, who have been train'd up to Sloth and Squandering, is but of equal Efficacy with preaching up Temperance to Sots, or Cleanliness to Negroes, when their Habits and Vices are all against you. The Church of Rome has plac'd Purgatory in the North-West of Ireland, which was then one of the remotest wildest Parts of the Earth; and tho' I have reason to believe, they now Wish, they had removed it something more out of View, yet I am sure there is no Part of the Globe, so fit a Purgatory for Sloth as Ireland, or where People so generally pay St. Paul's Penalty for not Working, by not Eating.
Swift. If due Care was taken, this natural Supineness of our lower People, might be soon turn'd into Activity and Vivacity, by letting them see and feel the Sweets of Labour, and convincing them by Fact and Experience, that when once the Poor are made industrious, they turn all they Touch to Gold, like Midas's Fingers of famous Memory. As to our sleepy Countrymen, I cannot but say that it is a Pity, where Men are commanded to give one Day of the Week, to doing nothing but Acts of Piety, they don't regard the other Part of the Law, and labour the other Six. This at least shou'd be the Magistrate's, and the human Legislator's Business; but really there is no Law made, nor Care taken about it, but every Body overlooks this plain neglected Truth, that Men ought to be as accountable to the Magistrate, for their Time as their Actions, and as punishable for wasting it. But our Irish seem actually to have mistaken the divine Commandment, and it is well their Priests did not leave it out of the Decalogue, as they did the Second. They manage, as if they thought God had bid them be idle six Days of the Week, and Work but one, and very moderately on that one. I have often met in Authors, and think the Assertion true, that the very Genius of the Popish Religion indisposes Men to Labour; as we see by their numerous Holidays, Feasts and Fasts: All which are direct Enemies to Toil and Handy-craft, and make the returns to Work disagreeable. It is undoubted that the Protestants out Trade and out Work the Papists; they have (as all observe) fewer Beggars, they have fewer Drains from their Industry, by those who sleep away their Lives in Colleges and Nunneries; they maintain a much smaller Number of secular Priests, and even to those, they do not prohibit Marriage, and to say no more at present, those lazy Drones the Friars of so many different Orders, are Cankers and Consumptions quite unknown to their Constitution. In most Protestant Countries, more than ordinary Attention, for good political Reasons, has been given to this great Point. In Holland all are employ'd, even the lettred World deal in Traffick and are Merchants; nay the Deaf, the Lame, the Blind, the Dumb, and the very Dead Work.
Prior. The Dead Work! That is a Flight extraordinary sure, Mr. Dean, and I must call on you to retract that Mistake.
Swift. Not at all; for tho' that Truth is a little incomprehensible in Ireland, where we have no such Incitements, in Holland the Statues and Monuments of their useful and industrious Citizens, and the Epitaphs and Praises on them, prompt and inflame the living to emulate them, and push on their Virtue to excell, in every Art, and open every Road to Profit and to Glory. When I was throwing away (like other People) my Thoughts and my Time above Ground, I used often to think on these Matters; and I fear to as little Purpose as we talk of them now. However I must say, Tom, that tho' if our rich People would think and grow Managers, and our Poor wou'd Work, and keep their Hands and their Children busy, nine tenths of our Evils wou'd be remov'd, yet I am convinc'd, neither of these important Points will be minded, till we are forc'd to get better Notions of Things, by seeing the Nation ruin'd by the want of them, as often as a Boy at School is whipt for playing the Truant, before he will mend.
Prior. Ruin is as terrible a Remedy, as a deadly Sickness is a Reformer; and I had rather hope that sumptuary Laws against Dress, Racing, Gaming, &c. if we were Wise enough to make them, and amendable enough to mind them when made, wou'd do our Business much better. 'Tis a Misfortune for Ireland, that our Spendthrifts so often run out their Lives and their Estates together, and so their Examples are lost on us; for I ever thought it a Pity, they shou'd not live forty or fifty Years in beggary, their own Lives are such a Torment to them, and they become thereby such fine Scare-crows, to our young unthinking Squanderers, when they see them all the while, standing as it were in a kind of Pillory. Nothing keeps the Dutch so frugal as their Loads of high Taxes, for some good Author, (and I think 'tis your old Friend Sir William Temple) tells us, one cannot have a Dish of well dressed Fish at a Tavern in Holland, without paying near thirty Gabels for it. We want some Remedy for our Extravagancies of all Kinds greatly, but this is so shocking a one, that one wou'd hope the very fear of it might cure us, as some Men have renounc'd their Intemperance, by their dread of the Gout and the Doctor. Without some such helps, our fine Gentlemen seem not inclined to learn or consider, that we shou'd save immense Sums to our Country, if we eat Corn of our own sowing, drunk home-made Wines of our own Brewing, fed on Fish of our own catching, burn'd Coals of our own raising, and wore no Cloaths that were not of our own manufacturing. If they were once convinced of this, good Effects wou'd follow, and we shou'd soon acknowledge that it is barely owing to our own Extravagance, Thoughtlesness, Sleepiness, Drunkenness and Vanity, that we don't, with one Voice, condemn and renounce such evident Errors, in our national Conduct, and fix on their Remedies.
Swift. This Tom, is merely dreaming of a publick Cure for an epidemical Distemper, as Curtius says Ptolomy did; but we shou'd not only get our Gentlemen, to think for the Nation and themselves; for we want severe Laws to cure the Laziness and Indolence of our lower People. As Idleness is the great Source of Theft, picking and filching, the natural Punishment of at least all smaller Criminals, seems to be hard Labour for Life, or Years. We see in France and Spain they man their Gallies this way, and in Sweden and Denmark they employ them in their publick Works, and chiefly about their Shipping and their Docks. No Punishment cou'd be more terrifying to an Irishman, who we generally think is averse to Labour; none cou'd be more useful to our distressed Land, where we lose more People by doing Nothing, than are destroy'd by the Wars and Conquests, the Voyages and Traffick of other Kingdoms. On this Account we shou'd take Care, that Idlers, Beggars and vagabond Strollers, shou'd be treated with the Sharpest Rigour, as they do not only deny to assist their Country by their honest Endeavours, but live like Drones on the Spoil of the Industrious. It shou'd be a Maxim in every well governed State, but especially in Ireland, that Idleness shou'd be as severely punish'd as petty Larceny; and to beg with an Ability to Work, shou'd be regarded and treated as a Kind of training up Youth for Stealing, (when they have learn'd the proper Cant and Tricks of their Apprenticeship) and consequently to relieve a Vagabond, shou'd be as faulty and as corrigible as receiving stolen Goods. The proper Place for the Relief of sturdy Beggars, is a good County Work-house, where the Labours of such Vagabonds (and indeed of all Criminals till they are Tried and Discharg'd) shou'd go to the Maintainance of such Poor, who are utterly incapable of Work, and whose Parishes can't support them.
Prior. I am quite in your way of Thinking on this Subject, Mr. Dean, I remember Doctor Basire in his Life of Bishop Cosin, tells us that in several Years Travels in Turky and Holland, he never once met a Man who ask'd him an Alms; so that here we see the Wisdom of the State may have the same Effect with the Laws of God among the Jews, which prohibited any Beggar to be a Burthen, or a Disgrace to their Tribes. Charity to Vagabonds is Cruelty to the State, which is interested as the Civil Law, and our own Statutes speak, that every Member of the Community, should use his Labour and his Substance, to the best Advantage. Every Stroller or Vagabond is a Loss to the Kingdom, and is little better than a licenc'd Plunderer of our People, and every such Person, is really a living Instance of Neglect or Ignorance in those, who shou'd give us by Law a proper Power and Place, to force him to earn his Bread by his Hands. Whoever has Health and wants Food, shou'd be oblig'd to Work one way or other, for if Idleness was always punish'd by our Statutes with severe Labour, as surely as Felony is by Death, it would then like Thieving be confin'd to the Night, and we shou'd be at least good Day Labourers. The Strength of the political Body, depends as much on its Members being properly exercised, as that of the natural, and on the Neglect of it, infinite Disorders follow. But alas, Dean, this is not enough attended to in Ireland, or we shou'd have Work-Houses in every County, but we have the peculiar Misfortune of having this dreadful Mixture in our Circumstances; that we have all the Vices, Extravagancies, and Luxury of a rich Nation, with all the Wants, the Distresses and Despair of a poor one. If once our Gentry and Nobility wou'd set us fair Examples of Frugality and Activity, we shou'd soon reform, but alas! great Estates, as we use them, seem design'd for little else but the Triflers of the World, and the wretched Fashions, Fopperies and Fooleries, they are generally thrown away on. However it is certain, Providence appointed them for nobler Purposes, and it were to be wish'd the present Stewards of them (for they are evidently nothing more) wou'd seriously consider this, that they may be able to give the Bestower a better Account of them.
Swift. I was saying so every Day, for the last fifty Years of my Slavery among Men, and all to no Purpose! But there is another Matter that makes me fear for the Welfare of Ireland, and that is the want of proper Manufactures being set up there. I see Tom, you are ready to bawl out to me, the Irish Cambricks, the Irish Linens, but alas! even as to them I am sorry to say, they wou'd do Great Britain and Ireland twice the Service, if they were doubly encouraged, and not left to creep to those Provinces, where they might go with a brisker Progress, if the Funds of the Trustees were enlarg'd, or their Premiums more happily applied. But I leave that, Tom, to Time and the Legislature, for the Manufactures which I lament the want of, are those which enrich France, Germany and Holland; such as those of Brass, Tin, Copper, Lead and Iron Work, in all their amazing Species; those of Glass, Tapestry, Hats, Silk, Leather, Paper, Pins, Needles, Lace, Earthen-Ware, and Numbers of others, of which our own Island can largely supply the Materials, if we wou'd make use of them. Whether it proceeds from our Ignorance or our Poverty, our before mentioned Laziness, or want of Capacity I cannot say; but Arts and Manufactures seem to be discourag'd so remarkably, in this unthinking and unthought of Island, as if we wou'd fain obtain the Name, of Omnium bonarum Artium noverca, formerly as I remember given to Scythia. Even those few Attempts we make to deserve well in some of them, are brow-beaten or neglected by our People of Fashion. This is a Complaint I must often make, and can never be too often repeated in their Ears, as without their Help no Workmen, how industrious soever, can thrive. 'Tis miserable that our polite People, will not be content to Ruin their own Families by their extravagant Finery, but their Country too, and all who dare endeavour to exert a little Industry in home Manufactures. Surely the Wearers of all Foreign Goods, and especially the Fair Sex, do not believe, or do not consider, that they deliberately starve their own poor Countrymen and their Families, by making them Work in vain. They shou'd in Pity, in Generosity, in Justice reflect, that since we are not allowed to Export our Silk and Woollen Goods abroad, the least that every Friend to Ireland can do, is to encourage them so far, as to wear them at Home, tho' they do not quite come up to those that are Imported to us. Tho' we are terribly impoverish'd by this fondness for Goods which other Nations send us, it is still some Comfort, that there is no Law to force us to it as yet, and that the whole of this dreadful Ruin, is grounded on our own Humours, which a little thinking, some Charity, and a general Poverty, may remove in Time. I know no reason, why a Thousand beautiful Faces I have seen in Ireland, shou'd desire to look lovelier than Nature, and the Produce of their native Kingdom can make them: And for our Gentlemen (if they are Gentlemen) they shou'd take a Pride in wearing nothing but what is wrought in Irish Looms, and make it a Case of Conscience, like Archbishop King, Bishop Berkeley, and Crowds of Patriots I cou'd Name, to be cloathed by our own People. The Dutch I am told, have lately issued a Placart, forbidding all their Subjects (excepting Day-Labourers who are too poor to trangress it) to wear any Silk or Woollen Goods not Fabricated in their Provinces. The greatest Personages are restrain'd herein by severe Penalties, and tho' we cannot make such a Law, (nor perhaps shou'd not desire it in Respect to one Country at least) yet certainly we shou'd form general Resolutions, and try to Establish an universal Custom (which is equal to any Law) of Feeding and Encouraging our own Workmen and Tradesmen.
Prior. Laws, Mr. Dean, are not so much wanting, as the Will to favour our own Goods, and our own People; and surely as you observe, all who please, may determine in their several Families, to use the Produce of our Irish Looms; and in the mean Time I cannot but make this sad Reflection, that if Industry and Labour be the great Standard of Value in most Things, what (under such Discouragements) can our unemploy'd Country be worth, which except our Linens, sends abroad all the Materials for Labour to others, and lies abed like a Spaniard, burning Day-Light, and proud of doing Nothing.
Swift. I remember to have Read, when I used to lose Time upon Men and Books, that among the Turks, every Man of them learns some Trade or other. This Fashion they probably borrow'd from the Jews, who made it a Maxim, that he who does not give his Son a Trade, teaches him to be a Thief: And yet till our Protestants Taught the Irish better Manners, a Trade was as seldom learn'd as a Psalter. It is true of late Years this Folly has been pretty much subdued, and Numbers of our Natives have distinguish'd themselves, by their Skill in different Arts and Handicrafts, but till this Humour wears off, of slighting whatever is wrought at Home, it were better they had learn'd to Fast than to Work. We keep Crowds of our Artificers naked who well-deserve to be cloathed; many are as ill hutted as so many Greenlanders or Russian Peasants, who ought to be well housed, if any one thought them worth taking Care of and Encouraging. But what is still more unhappy, Thousands of them are forced for fear of Jails and Beggary, to run from us to wiser Countries, where they and their Arts are well receiv'd and favour'd by our Enemies or Rivals, whose Industry and Exports they Encrease, and thereby help to Starve the Friends they have forsaken. One wou'd expect common Charity to them and ourselves, and common Sense in conducting our general Interests, wou'd not only have remov'd this main Obstacle to the Prosperity of Ireland, but wou'd also put us on setting up all Kinds of new Manufactures, which we still want; let it cost us ever so much for setling them here, and Nursing them till they get Strength, to shift for themselves. It is certain the Publick can hardly pay too dear for such improveable Purchases, for unquestionably where the Advantages are so considerable, saving in such Cases is meanness and madness.
Prior. You are ever Tolling the passing Bell of Ireland, and yet my fears that there is too much Reason for all you advance, keep me from opposing you; when you censure the Stupidity of our Management, in regard of every Measure that can hurt us or serve us. I spent half my Life in exclaiming in the same Manner, and I might as well have spoke to the Inhabitants of these Tombstones. There is one Particular, which with Grief I must add to all your Complaints, and it is a very discouraging one as to any Hopes of our Recovery, namely, that this Island is made up of two of the most unhappy Mixtures a Kingdom can consist of, a Multitude of Gentlemen and Beggars. The first have not Time from their Pleasures, and their own petty Interests, to think of serving us, and the others cannot either serve themselves or us, without Wages, Food or Raiment, which they cannot get, unless we allow them to Purchase them by their Labours. In short, Mr. Dean, while our Ladies scorn to wear any Thing that is Irish, and our Gentlemen pride themselves who shall Drink most French Wine; they both Teach their Inferiors the same dreadful Folly, and make them join to enrich their Enemies, Beggar their own Workmen, exalt France, and sink Ireland, and drive every Creature that has Genius or Industry out of it, to Places as we observed before, where they can hope to get the Necessaries of Life by their Industry.
Swift. Your mentioning French Wine, Tom, puts me in Mind of another terrible Remora, to the Prosperity of this unfortunate unthinking Country. I have often thought if Ireland had never been allowed to import Foreign Wines, and we had learn'd to Content ourselves, with drinking our own Ale, Beer, Mead and Cyder, and used no other Spirituous Liquors, we shou'd have been the richest, and the honestest, the healthiest, and the happiest Nation under Heaven. It is a melancholy Thought, that poor as we are, and wretched as the Circumstances of most of our Gentry are allowed to be, as to Debts and Incumbrances; yet we actually Drink more French Wine, then all England together, that is so much richer and abler. The Case is, few People drink French Wine in England, but those who have very large Estates; Numbers who have a Thousand per Annum, seldom tasting it; but with us, every Creature, that has tolerable Cloaths upon his Back, and a Guinea in his Pocket, drinks little else, tho' he has scarce the Conveniences of Life for his Family. There are such Multitudes that can't relish Life or their Food without it, that one wou'd wonder how they can all be provided with it. This Difficulty indeed was soon remov'd; for I hear such Crowds now Trade in it, that it is to be fear'd, if their Customers this Year do not make haste to take it off their Hands, it grows so foul, they must Drink it themselves, or they must sell it at last for Vinegar.
Prior. I have heard from some Ghosts, who died of the last Vintage, that (to the Infamy of the Year 1753, be it remembered) 8000 Ton of Wine was imported into this Kingdom from France; to the dreadful Drain of our ready Cash, the encrease of the general Poverty of our People, and the Misery of all who Labour and cannot Eat. Allow me to observe here, Mr. Dean, that the Chinese seem to know us well, who send us not only their Teas, but also Cups to Drink it out of; and I have often wondered that the French, don't send us Bottles and Glasses with their Wines, as we have not Industry enough to make them; tho' the very Bottles for 8000 Ton are computed to cost us 67000 l. It is dreadful to look over such Scenes of Destruction, and much more so to know they are remediless, while our People thus court France to undo them, by sending for such vast Quantities of her Claret, at the same Time I hear it is pleaded in behalf of the Importers, that they never were guilty of such a Fault before.
Swift. A pretty Defence truly, and yet as this was the Excuse of Balaam's Ass to his Master, one wou'd think none but an Ass wou'd plead it, and I will venture to say, they had better Change it for a solemn Vow, never to be guilty of such a Folly again. However if they did take such a Resolution, I wou'd not advise them to enter into Bonds, for the Performance of that Engagement; for I fear they wou'd forfeit them, tho' the Nation was to be Bankrupt by it, as in all probability, if we continue to tun down such Quantities of this destructive Liquor, it must soon be. For my part, when I think of this national Madness, in drinking Oceans of French Wine, I know not how to account for such prodigious Extravagance, in such ruinous Circumstances. We seem to live the faster, for being in a deep Decay, as Clocks have a quicker Motion, the nearer they are to being run down. 'Tis an hard Case, that evident right reason can't Influence a Nation, and that there is a Necessity for a Majority of right Reasoners, to make thinking Creatures (as we are commonly called) act as their Interest and Happiness demand. When once that fortunate Majority is gain'd, between wise Laws and good Customs, People take up general Maxims and Manners, that direct their Conduct, and form both their private and publick Behaviour, so as to conduce to the good of the Whole, and the well Being of each Individual. But alas! Tom, in Ireland, we neither think, or act for ourselves or the Publick, nor seem to have any System of Rules, for managing our Estates or our Country; but we live in an extempore Method, and as Time serves, and Accidents happen, we Conduct ourselves. When we are famish'd we think of Bread, when frozen to Death, of Coals and Fire, and when we grow uneasy with the Thoughts of all our Mismanagements, Madness and Follies, a large Dose of Wine (a Hair of the very same Dog) relieves all our Griefs over Night, and we rise as Wise and as Provident as ever in the Morning. As to the Kingdom itself, we make such haste to get it undone, as if we fear'd it wou'd not be ruin'd Time enough; and yet we may plead in Excuse, that particular Gentlemen manage no better for themselves, or their Families. It is certain he is reckon'd no bad Manager, among his neighbouring 'Squires, who can cleverly stave off his Creditors, and keep up his Port of living undisturb'd, till he can sell (I mean settle) his Son, and clear off his Incumbrances with the Wife's Fortune.
Prior. A very true, and as sad an Account of Things; and what inhances our Misery is, that France thrives by thus draining our vital Blood from us, as the Physicians in old Rome, made their decay'd Patients sustain themselves, by sucking the streaming Veins of their poor Slaves. If we paid a moderate Price for our Liquor, it were something, but the French raise their Demands, in proportion to our Calls for it; and our generous Importers, never endeavour to beat them down, as they find they get the greater Gain, the dearer they buy it; and our Gentlemen take up the same prudent way of Thinking, and never believe themselves so generous, as when they drink Wines, that their poorer Neighbours cannot Purchase. The present Fulness of the Treasury, vastly beyond all former Years, shews how far our Madness is risen; for this Folly of drinking away both our Estates and our Reason, has seized like an epidemical Plague, on all Ranks of Men among us. Even those of the poorer Sort, from a noble Emulation of copying their betters, drink as much Wine as they can; and where their Purses or their Credit will not reach so high, they must have foreign Liquors, tho' they be only Mum or Cyder, Porter or Perry, and seem resolved to shew they are as little afraid of a Jail, as greater Persons.
Swift. In other Nations the Nobility and Gentry, think for the Commonalty, and govern their Manners by the Laws they make, and the becoming Examples they set them. But in this poor ill-starr'd Island, they corrupt them by their false Splendour, by their foreign Luxury, by despising Virtue, Religion and Temperance, and as fast as they can drinking themselves out of the World, and sinking their Fortunes, in both which they are faithfully copied, by their Inferiors. I have often thought while I was among them, that if our Gentlemen were oblig'd by Law, to give in Accounts to the Publick of their annual Expences, as Children do to their Parents, in order to have them regulated; what miserable Oeconomists they wou'd appear to be, both for their own and their Country's Interests. The Article of Drinking is grown so immense, and at the same Time so general, that if some Fence is not provided for it soon, this Nation will be more in Danger from this Land-Flood, than the Dutch are from being overwhelm'd by the Ocean. What imbitters these Reflections the more is, that tho' all our Exports are the very Necessaries of Life, which we send off to Feed and Cloath other Nations, yet all our Imports, are the meer Superfluities of Luxury and Vanity, that keep our Natives naked and starv'd, and ruin the Healths of those of the better Sort. I say ruin the Healths, for I believe, if you and I, Tom, were to draw up a List of all our Acquaintances, who have died Martyrs to Wine and good Fellowship, it wou'd look like a London Plague-Bill in 1666. Pharaoh and his Army wou'd appear but as an Handful to those I cou'd reckon up, within these last fifty Years, that have perish'd in this red Sea of Claret; and what Crowds are there, now creeping by this way alone, into Stone and Gout, Rheumatisms, Palsies and Dropsies; after having by their Love of the Bottle, exchang'd their Youth and their Strength, not for a short and a merry Life, but a short and a miserable one.
Prior. It is a terrible Thing to consider, if half the Money paid for French Wine, was laid out in Building and Planting here, what a Garden they wou'd make of this whole Island; and instead of this, they make the Bottle the Business of their Lives, and sacrifice to this noble Passion, I will not say their Country, (for that no body minds) but their Healths and their Fortunes as readily as their Reason. It is odd to me, Mr. Dean, if we must use foreign Wines, why we do not make those of Portugal, Spain, Italy and Sicily, cheap by low Duties, and the French twice as dear by high ones; for by this means, we cou'd get Drunk with the Loss of less Time, and Health, and Money. If even such a Tax was laid on it, as would make its Consumption less general, and hinder the poorer part of our People, from being ruin'd by the dreadful Affectation, of drinking like the Men of Figure and Fashion, it wou'd be an excellent Method; and above all if the additional Taxes, were appropriated to extend the Linen Manufacture thro' the Southern Provinces. This wou'd soon enrich us, and impoverish at the same Time, the great Enemy to the repose of Europe; for 'tis by her Wines and our Money chiefly, that France has been enabled, to soar towards Universal Monarchy, and if this Feather was pluck'd from her, she wou'd soon shorten her Flights, and droop her Wings.
Swift. You think extravagantly and wildly! You cheat yourself like most Projectors, with your own Dreams, and your Expectations are suited only to Citizens, who live and act, Tanquam in Republica Platonis. Can you be so absurd as to hope, that Men in these Days, and in Manners like ours, shou'd listen to Reason; and think our own Beer, Ale, Cyder, Mead and home Wines, fittest and best for themselves, their Friends and their Families? Can you imagine that this Age of Intemperance and Luxury, will think a while of these important Truths, instead of pleasing their Palates, and driving off that heavy Load, their Time, with the Roar of Jollity and Riot? Is it to be expected that good Fellows and Pot Companions, will be influenced by a Regard for the Welfare of Ireland, when they will not value their own Healths, nor avoid all the Distempers we lately reckon'd up, as well as all the nervous Disorders, that spring from the fatal Tartar, which Claret by sad Experience is found to abound with? I was weak enough, to read Physick Books in my old Age, and I remember Galen told me, that in all Wine there is something Indigestible in its self, and ruinous to true complete Concoction; but our best modern Physicians do also assert, that the Tartar in French Wine, is the Fountain of a Crowd of Plagues and Pains, to our wretched Bodies. We read this in a Number of Authors, and have the Tradition handed down, from the Records of the Dead and the Living, who have suffered by neglecting such good Advice; but where are the Recabites that will listen to such Councils, in these drinking Days.
Prior. But as destructive as Wine is to us, we must not forget the dreadful Effects, Spirituous Liquors have on our Country and our Bodies. They are really a sort of Liquid Flames, which corrode the Coats of the Stomach, thicken the Juices, and enflame the Blood, and in a Word, absolutely subvert the whole Animal Oeconomy. The frequent use of them, has had as bad Effects on our poor Natives, as Gin in Great Britain; and besides driving many Wretches into Thefts, Quarrels, Murders and Robberies, it kills as many of the Poor, (when Drunk to excess) as Wine does of the Rich. Even our own renowned Whisky, tho' it has banish'd the Brandies of France, yet is almost as pernicious to our Healths and our Morals; tho' we have this poor Comfort, since Spirituous Liquors we must have, that it is better to pay our Irish Farmers, for destroying us, (if we must be destroy'd) than the French Vignarons about Bourdeaux.
Swift. I allow indeed our Irish Spirits, are preferable to those made in France; but after all, the chief good Quality of them is, that the King gets a prodigious encrease of his Revenue, by our Stills. It were to be wish'd, that this Part of his Majesty's Duties, that is founded on the Intemperance of his People, was supplied by some other Tax; for it is dreadful to consider, how much the Crown is interested, that the Subject shou'd neither be frugal or sober. The Duty on our Spirits is the best paid Money in the World, unless we except what we pay for our Wine; for I think the only Debts we pay well, are to the Merchant who Poisons us, and the Sharpers who bubble us at Play. If I were alive, I wou'd write a Book against the dreadful Intemperance of this Age and this Country; tho' I doubt if it wou'd do us much Service; for there is a Time, when the noblest Medicines are of no Use in a Distemper, and I fear our political Diseases are now so desperate, that to die as easily as we can, and to put it off as long as we can, is all our poor Country can hope for. I will therefore leave this, and go to another great Obstacle to the welfare of Ireland, and that is the want of Tillage amongst us.
Prior. That is indeed, Mr. Dean, a terrible Evil, and like most of our Evils, chiefly owing to ourselves. We do not want this additional Hardship to many others, that what we earn by our Labours in good Years, goes all from us in a scarce one, and leaves us either without Food or without Money.
Swift. Surely if repeated Sufferings make us patient, we might expect that our frequent Misfortunes, might make us Wise; and yet Famines are not able to oblige us to Plow, nor our Legislature to force us to it, by salutary Laws. One wou'd believe there were neither Thinkers or Reasoners, (unpoison'd by French Wine) left in Ireland. Are we to be a Nation of Beasts, and a few Savages to watch them, and only some Landlords and Butchers to divide the Spoil, and share the Plunder of a Nation, wasted of its Villages and People, as William Rufus, serv'd part of Kent, to feed his Deer? Good God! what a Scandal are we growing, to all the Kingdoms of the Earth, that set up for a regulated Government, or a sensible equal Polity? Surely, Tom, Men with common Sense, and common Industry, might make something else of this fertile Country, than a wild solitary Extent of Pastures; and that Men and civilized Creatures, might thrive here as well as Beasts and Barbarians; and that we need not let this poor Region, look like the one ey'd Polyphemus's Island, spoil'd of its Inhabitants, and occupied only by his Sheep and his Cattle? We all know, Grazing makes Countries wild and horrid, their People slothful and uncultivated as the Soil; but one might bear any Fault but starving; and yet every three or four Years, Men here are near famishing for want of Bread, and ready to eat up each other, like Lord Al——ms' Dogs in the Kennel. It is hard to say, what sort of People we are, for it is strange that the universal Instinct, that governs all the lower Ranks of Animals, or that the great Law of Self-preservation, does not influence our Countrymen so far, as to provide their own Bread. Not to Insult us with wiser Nations, I wou'd at least expect, that we shou'd shew ourselves, as provident as the Republick of Ants, and keep something to preserve Life and Soul together, when Want and Winter come. We seem to be quite uninfluenced by Hopes or Fears, the two great ruling Passions of the Soul; and as merry and improvident, as so many Grass-hoppers. In other Countries if Sheep eat up Men, the Men have their Revenge and eat up Sheep; but in Ireland, wretched, thoughtless Ireland, Sheep eat up more Men than all the Wolves on the Earth, without our poor Natives, being able to devour one of them, but now and then, when we Steal them, just to keep Life and Soul together.
Prior. The very Earth seems to cry out against us, Mr. Dean, for our want of labouring it, as it is ready to reward the Industrious, with fertile Crops, and large Returns. He who will work up its natural Strength sufficiently, need never want Food or Raiment, or a good warm Cabbin, to encourage him to go on, and by honest Care and Toils, in Time enrich himself and his Country. We observ'd before, that the Women who were once the idlest part of our People, are now the most Industrious; and if the Men will improve as fast at the Plow, as they have done at the Wheel, we shou'd soon see a vast Change in our Circumstances. Our pinch'd miserable way of Living, wou'd be turn'd to Plenty and Neatness, Warmth and Health; and the Plow wou'd enliven the Wheel and the Reel, and keep every Child, and every Sex in Motion. All this we may hope from good and wise Governors; of such force is Thinking for the Body, when the Body in return, will Work to make itself and the Mind easy. If our Rulers and Legislators, wou'd once heartily set about contriving, to get us Bread out of our own Fields, and oblige us by Laws to till the Ground sufficiently, we might soon see our People and their Children, as busy as so many Japonese Villagers, when the Earth is loaded with their Harvests. However, I fear neither of these Things will be done, till we are forc'd to it, by seeing Twenty-Thousand poor Mortals starv'd once more, and twice as many driven out of our Country; just as we see People seldom build Bridges over the River, till they find Numbers of Travellers, have been drown'd in Fording it.
Swift. A Foreigner wou'd think it as absurd, to hear that our Natives want Food, while we Export such amazing Quantities of Provisions; as that the Commonalty round Newcastle, wanted Firing, tho' they furnish London with their Coals. He wou'd ask, why we don't Tax such a mad Exportation, and by laying Twelve-pence per Barrel, on all salted Beef and Pork, raise a Fund for Premiums, to the greatest Number of Acres plow'd in each County; that at least we may have Bread for our Natives, who dare not hope for Flesh to eat with it. 'Tis a sad and a reproachful Prospect to us, to observe the Chinese levelling Mountains, banking in Rivers, and draining Morasses, to improve and Dung them for the Plow; and to see in Ireland, as fertile Plains as any in the Earth, lying untill'd, and feeding Sheep and Bullocks, instead of Men, of Industrious social thinking Creatures! The Plow is the Cause that China swarms with large Cities and Villages, and 'tis from the want of Tillage, that I remember to have seen in Munster, the wretched Tenants, as ill-housed as so many Hottentots; which proceeds from the same Defect, the Country there is so little Populous. Great Towns, and fair Villages, are not only the Strength and Ornament of any Country, but good Dwellings do naturally encrease Children, as a Barn does Mice, and from the same Reason too. Besides Buildings like those in China, always bring Crowds of Artificers together, as they are sure of Business and Employment from them; and thence also the Country too, must become thicker Planted and better Peopled; but in Ireland, all these Blessings are as hopeless, and as rare as Virtue, Wisdom or Industry. Without Tillage properly follow'd and encourag'd, 'tis impossible our Numbers will ever encrease sufficiently; nay they must necessarily decline every Day; nor shall we be able to feed tolerably, those Remnants of our Countrymen, whom our Flocks of Sheep, and Herds of Bullocks, don't drive to France and America, those great Drains of wretched Ireland. But what is fully as bad is, that without Tillage, we shall be perpetually drawing off what little Money we have, and Bread will be so dear, that 'tis impossible but other Nations who feed cheaper, must undersell us in our Manufactures. Besides how can there be any depending on stated Prices for our Goods, while Bread is constantly so fluctuating in its Value, as it is in Ireland; since the Wages of the Workmen, will ever depend on the Price he pays for his Food? This is by the bye, a Circumstance, which must for ever shut out the Linen Business from Munster, and all the grazing Counties; it being absolutely impossible for it to subsist, without Tillage and Hands, which ever go together. It cannot be the Profit, that endears Grazing to the Southern Provinces; since many excellent Authors, and particularly Mr. Dobbs, have clearly demonstrated the vast Difference, betwixt Tillage and Grazing, as to the real Gain by each; and it is clear we lose one Year with another, 200,000l. to our Country, by this impolitick Turn to Stocks. This is enough in Conscience, one wou'd imagine for this unthinking Kingdom; but we must add to this Loss also, the Multitudes, we force Abroad or starve at Home, and the real Gain we shou'd make by their Arts and Labour, and the encrease of Houses, Marriages, Children, Health, Wealth and Plenty, which they naturally bring with them. If our wise Graziers wou'd once consider these Things, and that our Northern Colonies in America, are supplying those in the South with Beef, and threatning to beat us by Degrees out of that Trade, they will perceive how necessary it is, to have a Law for Tillage, and that without it, we may say with the Ægyptians, 'We be all dead Men.' This I am sure of, and I will only add that 'tis in vain to make Laws, for encouraging our Linen, or to expect to keep Money enough in our Kingdom, to pay our Rents, or circulate Trade, when such prodigious Sums, go out annually for Grain, by which, and the vast Importation of French Wine, we are now actually on the very Brink of Bankruptcy and Ruin.
Swift. I know no better way to convince any one, of the superior Advantages, arising from Tillage, compar'd to those by Grazing, then to make him consider the Circumstances of the People in Ulster, and those in the other Provinces. In the first, all are laborious, all are well Cloath'd, well Fed, well Housed and Taught; in the last, all Lazy, Naked, Starv'd, Lodg'd in dirty Hutts, and almost Illiterate. The superior Advantages which the North so eminently enjoys, proceed not so much from the different Genius's, of the two opposite Religions, which prevail there, and in the South, (tho' that is something) but from Tillage and Labour, and all the Arts 'tis employ'd in, being fixt in Ulster. This shews the Care we shou'd take, to encourage Tillage in this half starv'd Island, and the wisest Nations have ever thought they cou'd not take too much about it. Aulus Gellius tells us, that the wise Romans kept Inspectors, over the Agriculture of their People, who took due Care, that every one manag'd their Grounds, in the most skilful and useful Manner, and to instruct the Ignorant and punish the Refractory. At this Day, Pere du Halde assures us, that the Chinese do in the most rigid Manner, oblige every one to sow their Grounds or forfeit them; and they appoint judicious Surveyors, who every Year, make Returns to the Magistrates, of the several Plow-Lands, and their different Fertility. This may convince us, what these two wise Nations thought, of the Benefit of Agriculture; and if any Thing cou'd make us renounce our destructive Passion for Grazing, one might tell them, that 'tis recommended by him that made the Earth, in many Passages of holy Writ; and if you remember, Moses also Assigns it, as one Reason for God's creating Adam, That Man was wanted to Till the Ground. When I was talking of the Roman and Chinese Inspectors of their Tillage, I shou'd have mention'd that the Jews had such also; for we find the Names of those who in David's Time, were Superintendants of such Matters, recorded in the 3Chronicles. Possibly in these blessed Times for Acting and Thinking freely, we shou'd not relish such Dictators to the Plow, nor any penal Laws to enforce our Tillage; but certain I am, that without some Laws that will execute themselves, (how averse soever we may be to them) we shall still continue in the utmost Danger of Beggary and Famine. We may very well submit, even to such compulsatory Laws in this Kingdom, since every one may read in our Histories, that England was often oblig'd, to force her Subjects to return to the Plow, when the lazy Method of pasturing Cattle, had distrest that Kingdom; and 'tis chiefly to the Statutes made by the two last Henries and Edward the VIth, that she owes the Blessing, of her being now the Granary of Europe, and of her enjoying the Advantages of having improv'd her Agriculture, beyond all other Nations. It is to be hop'd, if our late Act to encrease our Tillage, was properly amended, and form'd so as to make the Recovery of the Penalties more easy, it wou'd have very happy Effects here; as Agriculture is the Source of Plenty, and the nursing Mother of Arts and Manufactures. We observ'd before, that to see Beggars in any well regulated State, is a reproach to its Laws and Government; but to see a Nation of Beggars, is too scandalous to have it exemplified in any Kingdom but Ireland; and yet without an effectual Law for Tillage, that must unquestionably be our Misfortune for a while, and in some Years our Ruin. I am at a Loss how to account for this universal Conspiracy to destroy ourselves, which is the more alarming, as our own Plots against our own Happiness generally succeed. Have we made a Vow of Poverty, like the Capuchin Friars, or have we entred into a Confederacy to enrich every Country but our own? For if not, whence comes it, that above all other Nations we have the finest Ports, without Ships or Trade, the greatest Number of able Hands, without any care of Employing them, and that we are blest with so many Millions, of rich arable Acres without Plowing them, and such Numbers of Men of Rank and Fortune, without proper Zeal or Spirit, to remedy these Evils which we groan under? But there are two Instances of our Folly as to Tillage, that I cannot pass by. The first is, that we chuse the North, for the main Store-House of the Kingdom, where we have not only the barrenest Lands, but the worst Seasons, and where the Wet and Bleakness of the Country, produce tardy Harvests, fierce Winds and heavy Rains; and where the Ground is not near so fit for the Production of Wheat, as the rich Plains of our other Provinces, that lye nearer to the Sun. The other Instance of our Folly, is our rejecting in the Year 1710, the Bill transmitted from England, that allowed a large Premium for our exported Corn, which wou'd have been the greatest Encouragement to our Tillage, and consequently the greatest Blessing to this unfortunate Kingdom. I will not reckon up the Millions it wou'd have sav'd us, that have since gone out for Bread; nor those it wou'd have gain'd us, by the encrease of our Manufactures, and the keeping busy at Home, all the Hands we have been depriv'd of by subsequent Famines; but I will say this, that as our Zeal for his Majesty's Succession, our dread of the Pretender, and our Jealousy of the Duke of Ormond's popular Arts, made us then throw out that Act; so it is to be hop'd, that the King will in the Generosity of his Soul, restore us that desireable Bill which we lost for him.
Prior. I heartily wish it, Mr. Dean, and tho' we had then a Lord Lieutenant highly regarded by the Ministry, favour'd by the Queen, and greatly belov'd in Ireland, yet it is as true, that we have one at present, who is not inferior to him in those Advantages, and vastly superior to him in others; and who certainly has as sincere a desire to serve us, as ever possest a Boulter, a Berkeley or a Swift, for I will not presume to join my Name with such Patriots. I hope we shall find it so by Experience, but whenever he does procure us that Blessing, if he wou'd complete our Obligations to him, and endear himself for ever to Ireland, he must add to it, the establishing Granaries in Dublin, Cork, and such Parts of the Kingdom, where they will be the most useful to those great Ends, the keeping Bread at a fix'd Price, as well as our Manufactures, and the Wages of those who Work them, whose Labour must ever depend on their Food. Without these, we must live dependent on Accidents, Winds and Seasons, and the Mercy of Corn-Factors; and as both the old Jews and the old Romans, had such Store-Houses, and the wisest Governments in Europe, made use of them with the exactest Providence, and to the greatest Advantage under proper Regulations; surely we shall not be depriv'd of such Blessings long. They are the great security to the Welder, that his Grain shall bear a fair encouraging Price, and at the same Time a Restraint on the rapacious Avarice of the Farmer, and the Corn-Chandler abroad and at Home; and as by being furnish'd in cheap Years, and all Exportations stopt till they're fill'd, they wou'd keep a fair Balance on the Price of Bread, he who desires to be bless'd by the Poor and the Industrious here, will not fail to add this Favour to all that we hope to receive from him.
Swift. I don't like praying to Saints that must pray to others. Our best Way is to address his Majesty for whatever we stand in need of; tho' after all, what can we hope England will do for us, who sees our Wants, knows what has occasioned them, and what would relieve them, and yet takes not the least Step to serve us. This single Circumstance looks with an ill-omen'd Aspect on the Affairs of Ireland, and is another main Reason, which I must offer to you, why I think our Days of Prosperity are as far off as the great Platonick Year.
Prior. I have often thought, Mr. Dean, our Clamours against England very ill grounded, tho' many, who know they are false or foolish, are apt, for no good Ends, to encourage them. 'Tis to England that we owe that we are yet a Nation, that we are Freemen and Protestants, and enjoy our civil and religious Rights, by the same Zeal and Efforts which secured their own. They have left large Branches of Trade and Manufactures open to us; and even our Linen and our Fisheries, our Tillage and our Collieries, our Salt-works, and our Mines, (not to mention many others) would employ most of the idle Hands in the Kingdom, if we would once set vigorously about them. Can we be so unreasonable as to expect she will distress her own Natives, to encourage those in Ireland, as if they had not Sense to consider, that their Charity, as well as ours, should ever begin at home? It can never be denied, that they have done largely for us, if we would do something to help ourselves, with proper Industry, and an eager Zeal to serve our Country. They do not hinder us to save 300000 l. per Annum, by using our own Woollen and Silken Manufactures, our own Salt, our own Sugar, our own Grain, Hops and Coals, Ale, Cyder, Bark and Cheese, our own Iron and Iron-ware, Paper and Glass; and if we will not work them up, nor use them when wrought, are they to be blamed, or we? Would you have them make a Law to prohibit the Importation of such Things to Ireland, and force us to use our Hands for our own Wants, whether we will or no?
Swift. I wish they would; it would be of infinite Service to this poor Country, which they impoverish by the wasteful Consumption of English Goods, that devour our Money, and deaden our Industry. That we owe many Blessings to England, I never doubted, even when I was alive, and as far as was in her Power, disgraced and maltreated by her, and much less shall I dispute it now. However, I can reckon up a large Catalogue of Complaints and Distresses, which Ireland can very justly charge her with.
Prior. Allowing all this to be true, as, to my Sorrow, I see you have some Grounds for your Assertion; are they to be reviled or envy'd for sending us their Goods, if we are so mad as to call for them? Would you have them hinder your buying their Commodities? Or, to go a little further, would we be hinder'd if they did? If we cut our own Throats, in our own wise Judgments, would you have them make a Law to gibbet us for it after we are dead? I allow you many of our Murmurings are just; but for the Love of Truth and Goodness, let us lament our Case with some Sense, and begin at the right End with railing at ourselves. I do not deny, that we are much impoverish'd by their Importations, nay, that by them we are in some Sense of the Word, Beggars; But, dear Dean, who ever hated Beggars more than you did, that had Health and Hands, and could work and help themselves, and would not. If our People will neither set up Manufactures, nor encourage them when set up, if they will not promote Agriculture by large Premiums through the Kingdom, but had rather beg Bread from their industrious Neighbours; if they will neither build Granaries, or set up Fisheries or Collieries: If Gentlemen will neither live at home, nor build and improve their Estates, to tempt their Sons to live there; if they see Societies set up for the Service of Ireland, and won't spare Shillings a-piece from their Diversions, to increase their Force and Power to help us, are the English to be blamed, or ourselves, if they leave it to our Choice either to mend our Follies, or to suffer by them.
Swift. The Truth is (though I am loth to confess it) I fear we are too lazy, because we are not extraordinarily encouraged, either here or by England; and probably they want to see us more alert, before they help us further; and in the mean time, between our Gentlemen who go abroad for Pleasure, and our Poor for Bread, we are like a Ship that is run a-ground, and the Hands which should have saved her gone off. People that are unfortunate love to have some one to lay the Blame on; and so we rail at England, as I remember Mrs. Halley (the Wife of the famous Astronomer) did at the Stars, who used to wring her Hands, and bawl out, My Curse, and God's Curse upon them for Stars, for they have ruined me and my Family; whereas, like Job's Wife, she ought to have cursed her Husband for his star-gazing Folly. At the same Time I never did, nor ever will forgive England for not helping us more than she does: We are a Mint in her Hands, but through her Negligence or Diffidence it is an unwrought one, though the Ore is vastly rich and promising.
Prior. I must agree with you there, and yet I am convinced, that the Fear of making their own People jealous, the Weight of their Debts, their violent Parties, and their decayed Trade, prevent their doing all they would for us or themselves; the Charity, the unbounded Charity, England extended to us at the Revolution, her Encouragement to our Linens, our Woollen Yarn, and our Cambricks, and to name no more, her Benefactions to our Charter-Schools, are Evidences of her Love to us which can never be forgotten. But beside all this, if England has a Zeal for her own Welfare, she must have a good Will for ours; for she knows and feels every Improvement made in Ireland, that does not directly clash with her Interest, is pouring Treasure into her own Lap, as regularly as what the River gets is returned to the Ocean. 'Tis evident, if we are better cloath'd, peopled, fed, and housed here; if our Wealth be encreased, or our Inhabitants or Country improved, we shall of Course take off more of her Goods, and spend more of our Money in London, which is to all Intents and Purposes, as much our Metropolis as England's. We already, by the mending of our Circumstances in some Respects, and the raising our Rents, do actually spend thrice as much there as our Grandfathers did; and it is as plain a Truth, that our Grandchildren will hereafter redouble what we carry there now. Can there be a Doubt then, that England must consult our Welfare, as long as she attends to her own? Though we live in different Islands, we are in effect but one People, and generally Children of the same Family; all we want to make us happy together is, that the elder Brother should carry to us with Affection and Regard and we to him with Respect and Deference, without Jealousies or Quarrels for Trifles or Things that cannot be helped, we never interfering with them, nor they oppressing or cramping us.
Swift. You are a very civil Magistrate, as St. John says, and have adjusted Things very amicably; but there is another Reason for England's protecting us, which I cannot pass by, and that is because any bold Step of the Crown in future Ages to absolute Power, will probably begin here. 'Tis therefore to be hoped, our Brethren in Great-Britain, who (whatever may become of them) are not born Slaves like some People I won't name, will watch us like a Beacon, whenever bad or weak Men set this poor Island on Fire, either to plunder or to frighten it, or for any other noble political Scheme. I must own, Tom, while I was playing the Fool in the World, like my Neighbours, I used to rail at England severely, and I had my Reasons for it; but though I am altered much as to that Point, there are several Things that I still think her blameable in, and particularly for the small Number of Irishmen that are preferred in Church and State. The Want of all proper Encouragement here, for every Man's exerting his Abilities as far as they can go, has terrible Effects on the very Genius and Character of our Nation. It actually keeps our Schools unfill'd, and thins our College to a surprising Degree; and makes our People look on the little Virtue we have yet kept among us, as useless and impertinent in a Country, where they are out of Fashion, and where Alliance, and Blood, and Family-Interest, make our Constitution in Church and State, (and especially the Church) rather hereditary than elective. This is a great national Grievance, so as to make it a Sort of Misfortune to be born here; nor do I see any Hopes of a Remedy, unless we get a Bill of Naturalization past on the other Side of the Water for all Irishmen, as well as for the Jews. At present there is as little Encouragement for Knowledge, or the learned Arts in Ireland, as in the Isle of Man, or rather less; for though their Preferments and Posts are fewer, they are only bestowed on Natives. By this Means it will come to pass in Time, that our Parts must be as slight as our Encouragements, and poor as our Country; for here, as in the dead Level of the Ocean, there is no Rising but by Storms and Tempests, and the Miseries and Ruins they occasion; and therefore half our Gentry owe their Estates to the Wars and Rebellions of Madmen and Bigots. But as to Eminence in Learning, or distinguish'd Abilities, they are quite overlook'd; or at least the Handful, that Ireland has seen preferred of her Natives by them, is miserably small. In other Nations some, nay, Crowds, are advanced by their Knowledge and Talents, but here they are discountenanced and brow-beaten; some are enriched by Trade, but here all we have is contrived to ruin us: Some make large Fortunes by their Skill in the Laws, but with us, where Plaintiffs or Defendants are one or other of them Beggars, the Proverb will tell you what is got by the Suit. I must add to all these Complaints, that even Avarice cannot bring a Man in Ireland a moderate Acquisition of Wealth; for here all Men do so universally outlive their Circumstances, that Saving is grown as scandalous as Thieving, and a Man is hooted out of the World more frequently for the one, than he is hanged for the other.
Prior. It is easier, Mr. Dean, to exclaim on this Head, than to shew the Justice of the Complaint; for whoever will carefully look over the Lists of those who have been preferred in Church and State for some Years, will find there has been greater Attention than ever paid to this Matter. But lest you should dispute this Fact, I will only hint, that there are Grounds to say, this Complaint will not be so common a Topick of Discourse with Irishmen, as we knew it in our Time; and probably as Learning and Knowledge may therefore make greater Advances among us than ever, we shall find Irishmen hereafter as much distinguished by their Preferments as their Merit. But however that may be, it will be as great Madness for us to malign or revile England on such Disgusts and Slights, as for a younger Son to quarrel with his Father, to whom he owes his being what he is, and who may in Time vastly enlarge his Portion and his Happiness, if he behaves with Duty and Love. This I will be bold to say, that we are possess'd of as many civil Advantages, under our Connections with England, as we enjoy from our natural ones, and our Situation in this Climate, this Sun, and this World of Life and Matter, where we derive so many Blessings from the Bounty of the Creator.
Swift. I wish, Tom, you would not stir that Bone of Contention, for there is a great deal to be said on both Sides of the Question, which, as I love to keep in good Humour, and be as quiet in my Grave as I can, I do not care for wrangling about. But this I must say, as to your Hints of our being Children of the same Family, that you had better let them alone, for it stirs my Spleen too violently. I am sure, if we are so, we fare like the rest of the younger Children in the World, who get but a Pittance to starve on, while the elder Brother runs away with the Bulk of the Fortune. I will not dwell on what we lose to her by Absentees, but I know between our Wool, our Woollen and Worsted Yarn, our Linens and Linen Yarn, our Copper, Lead, and Iron Ore, our Hides, Skins, Tallow, all which are the Primums and Foundations of her great Manufactures, she makes immense Gains by her Trade with our Country, and the Ships she employs in it. I must also add, that we take from her the largest Supplies of her Grain and her Manufactures of any Nation upon Earth; and besides the Crowds of English Gentlemen, that are possess'd of Employments, Commissions, Pensions, and Preferments here, she makes near two Millions by the Trade with Ireland; which I know is more than she gains from the rest of the World. I am not peevish, or at least so peevish, as I used to be, when I had vile Flesh and Blood about me; but these are plain confest honest Truths, and if that generous large thoughted Nation, will consider them calmly and candidly; possibly she will make us other Returns, than cramping our Trade, making us poor Petitioners, for leave to live by our Linen, and binding us by Laws (a Thing which every Briton shou'd start at) to which we never gave our Consent.
Prior. I cannot enter on that Subject, without irritating you, and therefore, Mr. Dean, I will drop it; but this I must say, that England had probably shewn us more Affection and Indulgence, if she had not been kept in perpetual Alarms, by our endeavouring to Rival her in her great Staple, the Woollen Trade. I have heard of some Women, who to regain their Husband's Affections, strove to make them Jealous; but I fancy that is no good Artifice, to make Nations love one another, and I hope as our Linen Manufactures, and our Tillage encrease in the South; we shall remove all uneasiness from that Quarter. It is certain our Interests and England's are inseparably united, and he must be a very weak, or a very malicious Man, who wou'd endeavour to divide our Inclinations, and set up a Wall Partition between us; by keeping up artificial Jealousy on the one Side, and unnatural Aversion on the other. It wou'd be absurd to think that because we have a broader Arm of the Sea, between us and England than the Isle of Wight, or Anglesea; that therefore we ought to have, different Rules and Views of Acting; whereas we shou'd consider ourselves as one People, join'd in one System of Government, Religion, Laws and Liberties; and he that divides us Ruins us.
Swift. What dost thou talk of dividing us? I hope that Word was not aim'd at me. I am not for Divisions (nor let me whisper you in the Ear, Tom) Unions either, till I see more Cause. But in the mean Time, I say since England makes so much by Ireland, she ought to help us to get something for ourselves, if it was for no other Reason but to double her Gain by us. But it is amazing how a Nation so sensible and enterprizing as she is generally allow'd to be, can so long over look the vast Advantages she might draw from us, if we were cultivated and improv'd under her Direction. Can she be Ignorant how useful, so large and so fertile a Country may be to her, where Hands and Food are so easily had, and may be turn'd to every Manufacture she wants, as effectually as the Motion of an Army by a skilful General. And if she knows it, can she neglect it? Does she want to be told, where she may most properly and providently give all the vast Sums she pays, for Hempen and Linen Manufactures to our Neighbours round the Baltick? Does she understand what Gain she wou'd make, if the Lands here were raised by Trade and Manufactures, to a Million more than they now set for, and how soon this may be done? Is she yet to learn, that by encouraging the Woollen Business here, in such Articles only, as her Rivals undersell her in, she wou'd effectually recover them out of their Hands, by employing the Irish, who by paying no Taxes on their Milk and Potatoes, can undersell the World? Is she Ignorant what she might make, by compleatly working our Mines, by opening our Trade to her Plantations effectually, and to Name no more by setting up extended Fisheries here, (the Gain from which one wou'd be tempted to think, was hinted by Christ's bidding St. Peter, take Money out of the Fishes Mouth) and thereby besides the Profit of what we vend, breeding Thousands of Mariners to man her Navy. If these are certain Facts, I hope you will allow me without Grumbling, to assert two plain Truths; first that there never was a Nation so Affectionate, so Loyal as Ireland; and secondly, That there never was a rebellious People so much suspected, so long neglected, and so saintly, so coldly encourag'd to serve her.
Prior. Tho' I cannot agree with you, Mr. Dean, in some of these Particulars, yet I will avoid Wrangling with an old Friend; but I must say you are too ready to lay blame upon England; when our own People are more to be reproach'd than our Neighbours, who have more Affairs of their own on their Hands, than they can get well manag'd. If we fairly weigh Things, we will find our Countrymen faulty in many Regards; and indeed I have such a Bead-roll of Accusations against them, that I know not where I had best begin the Attack.
Swift. Hold! Tom, hold! Dead or Living, I wou'd never allow any Man to attack Ireland, but myself; however when I am out of Breath, you shall be permitted to assist me now, and then. I must ingeniously own, I see so many Mistakes in their ways of Thinking and Acting, that the more I consider them, the more I look on Ireland, as in a dangerous Condition. The first Thing I shall touch at, is that terrible want of publick Spirit, which we are notoriously defective in; tho' like the Pulse in the human Body, where it is wanting, Death is nigh! all Countries are greatly help'd by this noblest Passion of the human Mind: But this Island must be absolutely lost, without its Assistance. We are so Circumstanced in several Views, that nothing can keep us above Water, and much less make us flourish, but the whole of our Gentry, joining one and all, to rouse themselves and the Nation, by encouraging every Art, every additional Method of employing us, that they can settle here. And yet how few have I known, who exerted themselves this way, or seem'd to know it was their Interest, or to think it their Duty. I remember in some Accounts of Portugal, I have met a Relation of the vast Good that is done there, by the famous merciful Society, as they call it very deservedly. It is composed of the most distinguish'd Persons in the Kingdom, who all contribute their Quota's to the relieving in a private Manner, all deserving People, (and Tradesmen especially) who are in want. The Steward who is annually Chosen, is always one of the most Illustrious of the Nobility; and cannot avoid spending 5000 l. in these Charities, to come off with Honour, and keep up the Glory of his Trust. Now I will venture to affirm, tho' we have vastly the Superiority over Portugal, as to the Numbers of Noblemen and Gentlemen of great Fortunes in Ireland; yet it wou'd be a vain Attempt to endeavour to establish such a generous Society here. This makes me Tremble for a People so deserted and neglected as ours; for unless the Rich, and the Great, and the Powerful, give largely to the Encouragement of Arts and Industry, and set Examples of Virtue and Goodness, and a Love of their Country before us, there can be little hopes of this or any other Nation, being made completely easy or happy. Men of larger Fortunes, shou'd shew they have larger Hearts than others, or they ought like the old Romans to suffer a voluntary Degradation, and descend from their State and mix with the meanest Plebeians. If they Act so as to do Honour to their Ancestors, and give shining Proofs of Truth, Piety, Worth and Benevolence; Numbers will Copy them with Joy; but without this, we may as well expect an Army will be brave, where the Generals, Colonels and Captains are Cowards, as that a Nation shall shew publick Spirit, or be Virtuous, Religious and Charitable, where their Superiors have opposite Characters. Let all who are eminent for Wealth or Birth, or Parts, seriously lay this to Heart, and consider how much the Immorality and Misery, or the Virtue and Prosperity of their Country, is chargeable to them and their Conduct; and it will not fail of stirring up a generous Emulation, who shall be most distinguish'd, in assisting the whole of our People, in Thinking and Acting better, and more nobly than they have hitherto done.
Prior. That too few have Acted thus, must be acknowledg'd; but some there have been among them, who have done Honour to their Families, and raised their own Characters, by the applauded Parts they have Acted, for the Service of their Country.
Swift. At the same Time, Tom, one wou'd wonder such Examples shou'd not be more frequent; for how dreadful how contemptible a Figure, in the sight of God and Man, must he make, who with the Advantages of Birth, and Fortune, and Power, seems to labour to be remembred, Living and Dead, only for being given up to the basest and most brutal Vices, or at best for his senseless Splendour, by living like an Epicure, or acting the Gamester, or for his great Stables or well-cover'd Table, his well-fill'd Cellar, or to heighten his Character still higher, his Debts and his Drabs. Such Men ruin and corrupt the World, by their Examples; they sneer at Virtue and Sobriety, they make a Jest of loving or serving this poor Island, and Ridicule the very Name of a Patriot; and while they withhold their Contribution, to every good Design, they make Sport of lavishing their Fortunes in Folly, and ruining their Constitution by Vice, and they even Laugh at Religion, and shew an equal Contempt for their God and their Country. It is odd, that few can be Stupid enough not to see, that every Man's private Interest and Happiness, let him be ever so great, is involv'd in that of the Publick; and yet few or none will Labour to serve the Publick, so far as to think for or support its Interest, whenever they have an Opportunity. I labour'd to rouse it up amongst us, for a Number of Years, to no Purpose, and I am apprehensive, that our best Ground to hope, to see this Spirit revive here, is that Posterity may hereafter exert it effectually, when they see this Island ruin'd; by the little Regard that is shewn for it now. However I must say (if any Thing in Ireland were worth complaining about) that it is a little hard, we must be Ruin'd before we are reform'd, just as Shipwrecks set up Light-houses, to secure future Sailors in their Voyages. This wou'd enrage one, Tom, if a noble Scorn did not cool our Fury.
Prior. These Thoughts disturb the Breasts of the Dead, as well as the Passions of the Living; for it is certain if our higher People shew'd a true publick Spirit, it wou'd produce vast Effects amongst us; it wou'd stir up Invention, Industry and Emulation, and in a Word awaken every Genius, every useful Man in this Kingdom. We have had very extraordinary Persons Born and Educated here, and we wou'd have them still, if our Leaders wou'd make use of that plain Method, by proper Premiums to raise Seed-Beds and Nurseries for them, and use our Youth to think, and to excell. How easily might they call out every one's best Qualities, to the properest Purposes, and encourage every Man, who finds he has the Seeds of Virtue, the Power of Thinking and Acting for himself or others, and a proper force of Mind, to try how far his Abilities can go. If this can't be brought about, and if for want of such a miserable Stock of common Sense and common Virtue in Ireland, we are to be left to ourselves, and employ'd in doing nothing but making a little Linen, I can only say, we are the most negligent and neglected People under Heaven.
Swift. Ah Tom! Tom! what must we think of our Physicians, where our Diseases are so dangerous and are yet so manageable, and where the Remedies are so easy and parable? Where nothing but slighting our Disorders can make our Cure doubtful, and where they give over the Patient barely for want of being feed? What must become of a Country, where about 600,000 l. of its Rents are annually spent Abroad, by a Crowd of Parricides, which we call Absentees; where as much more is spent at home, in foreign Growths or Manufactures by Irish Suicides, and the rest is laid out in Dress and Equipage, in Gaming and Drinking, and Horse-Racing, except a Pittance that is scrambled for, by our Labourers and Workmen to buy Potatoes and Whisky, and once in a Month, half a Peck of Meal for the Children of the Nation. What will become of a Kingdom, whose Manufactures are the Scorn of its own Inhabitants; who will not Drink of their own Liquors, write on their own Paper, or be fed with their own Bread, as I observ'd before, and can't observe too often: Nay, where the Poor by giving into these fine Fashions, seem as well inclin'd to destroy us as the Rich? What must become of a Nation of Beggars, and none to relieve them? What must become of a Country, where the common People make as much Interest, to be put on the List of the Parish Poor, and be authorized to Starve upon Charity; as their Landlords, and 'Squires do to get a Place or a Sallary, to make amends to them, for outrunning their Fortunes, and to appear like dignified Beggars, who for ruining themselves and the Nation, are Nursed at the publick Charge, as the Athenians used to keep their true Patriots, in the Areopagus on Pension, when old and reduced in their Service.
Prior. Why indeed, Mr. Dean——
Swift. Indeed, Tom, I have not done, nor I won't be interrupted. I say what will become of a Nation, where we are charg'd so immensely for unbuilt or ill-built Barracks, for our Soldiers which we cannot use, which we did not want; and where we won't lay out a necessary Expence to build Houses of Correction, that wou'd force every Idler to Labour, and tho' we know that Idleness is the Seed of Rebellion? What will become of a Nation, where we spend immensely to ruin it, and grudge laying out a few Shillings, or the smallest Tax to serve it, by encouraging our People to Labour and be Industrious? Where we are grown so heedless and unthinking, that our political Creed, must be as often repeated in our Ears, as our Religious one, before we will take care to understand, or shew we believe it by our Practice? Where we are so notoriously Dull, or so artificially Insensible, that we must be told our true Interest a thousand Times over, before we'll regard it, or where those who know our true Interest best, will Sacrifice it either to their Vanity, Ease, Pleasure or Ambition, or at least to their giddy, senseless, Carelessness? What must become of a Kingdom, where we are grown so resign'd, that we no more offer to complain of the hardness of our Case, if two or three honest Gentlemen bid us hold our Tongue, than a dying Man against the Will of Heaven? Where we either seem to have lost the Sense of Groaning by the length of our Distemper, or by knowing from long Experience, it will be in vain; or else that we fear bawling, as in the House of Correction, will but increase the Blows, both as to Number and Smart. Where People keep their Tongues in their Pockets, as Highway-Men do their Pistols, never to be pull'd out but in hopes of getting Money; and where so many, of our most eminent Guardians and Representatives, command Men to be silent and quiet and bear all, as the Executioner said to Don 4Carlos, when he was struggling to hinder his being Strangled, ''Tis for your good Don Carlos! be quiet, 'tis for your Good!' Nay what will become of a Nation, where whoever Attempts to help it, is either mark'd out for Destruction, as I was by a certain Lord Chief Justice, or revil'd and hated.
Prior. There Dean, you must give me leave to say, you certainly go too far, to hate our Benefactors is not in human Nature.
Swift. Whether 'tis in human Nature I know not, but I am sure 'tis in Ireland; for I found myself hated there sincerely by different People, and for different Reasons. I was actually hated, by all who cou'd help it, but would not or durst not, and by all who wou'd help it themselves and knew not how, and abhorr'd to have it done by others. I was hated by all who long'd to hurt it, but as they cou'd not, detested those that hindered them, and by all who do not Care to have great Examples set them, which they are not fond of following, and lastly by all who neither love any Thing or any body but themselves, their Interests or Pleasures, and who had as believe talk of serving Heaven as their Country. Indeed the common People who come not under these Distinctions, lov'd me well enough to Drink my Health, especially, when I gave them the Liquor; and I doubt not wou'd have accompanied me to the Gallows, with many a zealous Prayer, if I had been Hanged for Writing for them. But at the same Time my Character was revil'd and attack'd with a Number of scandalous Stories, and my Zeal and my Patriotism exposed to Derision; and I was so far from having any Regard shewn me by my Governors, that in a Country where Numbers get Pensions for nothing, and Places for Services that were never done, I was not once offer'd any additional Preferment to my Deanery, and I scorn'd or rather detested not only to Ask, but even to Wish for it, as I vow'd to you before. Most Nations indeed are but too apt to be thankless to their Deliverers, but this above all others, and the Comperit invidiam supremo fine domari, I found too often verified in myself and my Interests; and my Character too frequently and too barbarously insulted when Living; and now when I am laid in my Grave, they are grudging their Half-Crowns, to raise me a Monument, that will not last as many Months, as I writ Pages for them.
Prior. It is an Happiness, if the World proves ungrateful to the great and excellent Persons, who serve and adorn the Age that is blest with them, that they have a scorn for the Opinions of Men, or even their Love or their Hatred, their Preferments, or Honours. It is but a poor Sentiment of the illustrious Xenophon's, 'That Praise is sweet to those, who are Conscious they deserve it;' for on the contrary, I believe most of those, who truly deserve Praise, have look'd on it as the poorest and lowest Reward of well-doing. Great Minds who aim in their best Actions at the Glory of their Maker, and the pleasing that Author of all Good, by labouring to imitate him here below, have superior Views, and do not only look down with a generous Disdain on the Applause of others, as it is really trivial and mean, but also as they know, they never receive it pure, but dash'd with the Malice of Detractors, and the Spleen of those little Souls, who Envy them. As they are Deaf to their Praise, so great Minds from their natural Superiority, bear the Malice of their Enemies with equal Indifference, and strive to Copy after him whom they serve, by smiling at, and over-looking the base Ingratitude of those they have done Good to. I am sensible, Dean, as even your Donations will survive both the World and your own Name, you know from whom to expect your Wages, and when they will be paid you; but really when one considers, what wretched wicked, senseless, Mortals crowd this World, it wou'd make one, out of Countenance to be actuated merely by a Love to themselves and Descendants, without any Regard to him, who has commanded us to assist and befriend them.
Swift. I agree with you entirely; I have observed and studied Mankind too long, not to know the animali Initus & in Cute, and to look on their Service as perfect Slavery. I have lov'd some odd Men in my Time, but the whole Race in a Lump, are a dreadful Carnage of Sins and Infirmities, Errors and Failings, Reason and Passion, that make a kind of Twilight in the best Understandings, that is neither Day nor Night, Knowledge or Ignorance, Vice or Virtue; but a kind of Olio of them all. Even the highest Characters have their weak-sides, and the most refin'd, their Defects and their Failures, with all the Infirmities which Flesh is heir to, and this World where we dwell is apt to taint Men with. Nay I must tell you in some Verses of mine, which never fell into Faulkner's Hands,
Prone to all Ill, the Flesh still warps the Soul,
Hung like a Byass on the devious Bowl.
This gives a worldly Cast to all we do,
Tho' Patriots, Heroes, Saints,——we're Sinners too!
Tho' some quite faultless in their Lives appear,
Yet chain'd to this infectious Dungeon here,
Men small of Earth, like Pris'ners of their Jail,
And tainted from the Womb, the best are Frail!
This is poor Poetry, Tom, but they are honest Thoughts, and such (Death has taught me that Lesson) are worth all the Wit in the World. But I shall quit this Subject, to return to another fear I have for the Prosperity of Ireland, and that is the terrible and senseless Factions, that divide our unfortunate Countrymen. The first great Division among them, is their Disputes about spiritual Matters, as Protestants and Papists. It is not the Danger to the State that alarms me, for that is quite over; but the Indisposition to Unity and mutual Affection; by which means the Kingdom is lessen'd in its force and weight, while we seem to drag like a Man in a Palsy, one half of our Body after the other, which ought to co-operate with it.
Prior. I must add to what you mention, Mr. Dean, that it is a terrible Circumstance, to be surrounded by Catholick Neighbours, who many of them think they wou'd do God good Service, if they extirpated Heresy out of this Island; and therefore till we can get Priests with better Principles, or remove such inhuman Prejudices, by giving their People better Opinions, than that they ought to persecute a Protestant with Fire and Sword; we shall ever be a feeble disunited Nation. We to this Hour suffer under a loss of Blood and Spirits, from former Wars, Rebellions and Massacres; but as it is probable they will every Day, be less bigotted, and as their living and conversing so much with the Protestants, and their going into their ways of Thinking and Living, has taken off the Edge of their Animosity; one wou'd hope we shall be in no Danger from such Accidents hereafter.
Swift. I wish and believe it, Tom, in Charity; yet still their Religion, and their superstitious Pilgrimages, Nunneries, Holidays, (as we discoursed already) make them lazy and indolent; and their yearly Lents, and weekly Fasts, indispose if they do not disable their labouring Poor to Work as much as their Wants require; the spiritual Taxes which they pay their numerous Clergy, of all Denominations, who in the Words of the Prophet, 'Eat up the Sins of the People, keep them very low, and unable, as well as unwilling to join us in serving the Nation; and their Language and Manners tho' improv'd, yet still continue such a Difference between us and them, as must long keep us disjointed, and therefore broken in our Strength as a Community. At present we make a shift to live Civily together, but are so far from being closely United, as by Care and Management we might be; that we seem like some married Couples, to be rather yoak'd together by Law, than tied by mutual Affection. But I shall pass over this great Source of Dissention among us, as much as it hurts us, to take Notice of another ill-omen'd Circumstance to our Welfare, and that is the terrible Parties and Factions among Protestants, which also quite enervate our Force as a Nation. I remember when I liv'd in England, in the four last stormy Years of Queen Ann's Reign, I made a few Verses, (tho' I never Printed them for fear of Lord Bollinbroke) on High and Low Church, which may be applied to Ireland on this Occasion.
For as two Sawyers in a Pit,
Toiling a massy Beam to Slit,
A like their Skill and Prowess show,
While one draws High and t'other Low.
So Whig and Tory, Britain tear
Asunder, and her Strength impair.
While Factions all their Arts renew,
To cut the Nation into Two.
This will ever weaken all Governments tho' never so strongly cemented otherwise; but in Ireland it must add Ruin to our natural Infirmities.
Prior. It is very true, and yet we cherish Factions as if we were to thrive by them, tho' they prey on the Vitals of our Country, but I believe there is no Nation in Europe, that acts so much against her own Welfare as Ireland, or suffers more remarkably by it. The great Maxim of its being madness to Trust Men's Promises and Engagements, but that we are quite safe to Trust their real Interests, seldom holds true in Ireland, for here you may trust Men's Words safely in most Things, but they are scarce ever to be depended on, where you wou'd imagine the Interest of the Kingdom secures them to you. It is strange to consider the Violence also with which they Act against each other, for if some hot People had their Will, they wou'd in their Contests hang up one third of the Nation on ill Reports, and then on the least Turn of the Tide, when they cool, they are as ready to String up all their beloved Informers, as Slanderers; if that general Inclination People have to listen to Malice, did not prevail on them to spare them.
Swift. One wou'd imagine where so much Passion is shewn, that they wrangled for something very Important; but as it is observ'd, that none are so litigious as the Poor, because they have but little to lose, so our People keep up the heat of their Parties (which if it cools, like that of a Glass-House all Work stops) by every Trifle, by every Word, by every Doubt, that can give the least Colour for a Difference. In a high Sea and a weak crazy Ship, one wou'd suppose there shou'd be no Dispute in the Crew, but who shou'd stop the Leaks and ply the Pumps fastest; but we mind every Thing but our safety, which we sacrifice to our ardour for Noise and Wrangling, and prefer our Resentments to our Lives. If our great Partisans of both Sides, disputed, who shou'd serve their Country most essentially, or who shou'd promote the Tillage or Manufactures of the Kingdom in the best Manner, it wou'd make us the happiest of Nations. This wou'd be as noble a Contention of our Demagogues, as that of the Horatii and Curiatii, for the Grandeur and Glory of Rome and Alba, and wou'd end like that in Reconcilement and Peace. If any Thing cou'd calm or unite us, the single Reflection wou'd do it, that if the joint force and weight of the Nation, was employ'd in pushing on its true Interests, (whenever they came to be debated) nothing cou'd withstand or endanger them. But we break our Strength, by crumbling into mean Divisions, petty Interests and private Views; and while every one's Charity begins at home, the Publick is beggar'd and no one relieves it. The general Welfare is quite over-look'd, while low-minded Wretches are taking Care of their particular Advantages; and I have ever observ'd that when Places and Pensions and Preferments were settled, the real Business of the Nation and its Parties, was thought to be as providentially adjusted, as that of a Match between two Families, when the Portion and Jointures, and Provisions for younger Children were agreed on. In short, Tom, the Misery of our Case is, that the good of our Country, like the Happiness of another Life, is oftner talk'd of for shew, than pursued in reality.
Prior. Indeed Dean, I have very long regarded, our Contentions and Parties in this Kingdom, in the same Light you do, and that instead of ever keeping in View the great Interests of Ireland, Men bawl out their Country! their Country! and mean nothing but themselves, advancing their Leaders, and thereby securing proper Emoluments, for every little Slave and Hireling that join with them. But what is most surprizing is, that while People are so cool to the Publick Interests, and to Things of the highest Importance; they are furious for Trifles, and every Imagination, every Guess, every nothing will set their Passions in a Flame.
Swift. I have often lamented that Circumstance, as to this poor Island. In truth, Tom, our Divisions and Factions here, are frequently as silly as those of two Gamesters, who tho' they play for nothing, will Quarrel dreadfully about cutting and dealing the Cards, and winning the Game. I am asham'd to say it, but the Contests and brawling of Children at their Push-pin, are sometimes substantial Things, to the Jangles and Feuds, I have known our Parties on some Occasions contend about, and alas! all we get by it, is to give our Enemies Pleasure, and our Friends Despair, while they see our wretched Country, quite forgot in the Squabble, and nothing but Power and Places, private Gain and sordid Interests attended to. But I will dwell no longer on this melancholy Subject, which looks so ill for this poor Kingdom, and I will now go to another Topick, in which the Conduct of our Countrymen is altogether as blameable, and is as fatal a Proof of their Coldness to the publick Interests; and that is their strange Neglect in finishing our Northren Canal, and completing our Collieries in Tyrone.
Prior. I can never think of the scandalous Mismanagements in both those Affairs, without Shame and Concern. They are a Disgrace to our Country, either as to the Honesty or the Skillfulness of the Undertakers, as to different Parts of the Works relating to the Canal, and also as to the conducting the Design, and disbursing the Money employed on the Collieries.
Swift. We are not only the slowest Thinkers of what will do us Good, but we are the most slothful also, in bringing such Thoughts into Execution. The Newry Canal has been carried on, under the Sanction of an Act of Parliament, and the Superintendance of the Navigation-board above twenty Years: And tho' in Holland, such a Work wou'd have been finish'd in half the Time, and by superior Skill, Oeconomy, and Honesty, at half the Expence; yet, after laying out immense Sums, there are still many Thousands wanting to make it a truly finish'd Affair. As with much ado we found out, that our own Hills abounded with the noblest Coal in the World, and that our Poverty forced us to consider, that we paid on an Average about 60000 l. a Year for Whitehaven Coal, the Nation at last undertook making the Canal from Lough Neagh, to the Sea, in Hopes they wou'd turn that vast Drain of Money, when we cou'd stop it, to better Purposes at home. Accordingly great Funds were assigned it, and an infinite Number of Hands and Heads (or People that wore Heads) employed on it for a long Space of Time; and yet after vast Sputter, erring and re-erring, correcting and re-correcting, and expending near 60000 l. the Work is far from being compleated; nor can we yet say we are secure of our Canal or our Coal. Much has been promis'd, and yet by Mismanagements or Misfortunes, and different Obstacles, little has been done to answer the Expectations that were raised; and tho' we were assured we shou'd in a few Years have at least 20000 Ton of Coals brought every Year to Dublin, to help our Poor, we have not yet got 500.
Prior. I cannot account for the Disappointment, and it well deserves the Nation's Enquiry. If, as I heard good Judges say, the Work could have been finish'd in five Years Time, what have we lost, who for the last fifteen Years, have paid such vast Sums to Whitehaven, that we might have saved? And how much better had we managed, had we laid out double what it has cost us at the first, and cut short both our Loss and our Trouble?
Swift. Very true; but instead of this, they have, with true Irish Policy, contrived to give large Sallaries to some Favourites to carry on the Work, and thus, in Effect, brib'd them to delay the Undertaking they were hired to finish. Thus these Plotters against themselves sink this noble, generous Design, into a low, miserable Job, and instead of assisting the Kingdom, they provide for five or six Families, that live comfortably on protracting the Execution. If the Colliery Company, whose Interest it is to finish the Canal, wou'd undertake the completing it, and fix the Terms with the Navigation-Board, we shou'd soon see the Matters well mended; but till that is done, we shall get nothing but half-work for double Time, and treble Charges.
Prior. The Board will take Care of it; but though they shou'd exert themselves ever so warmly, in finishing the Canal, we can never hope for the Coal, unless the Nation makes a Waggon-Way of about 5000 Yards to the River; and as this will cost as many thousand Pounds, we must wait at least a Summer or two for that, in case the Parliament shou'd generously add this small Sum to all their former Bounties. When I consider, that this Kingdom loses so immensely every Year, that we want our Canal and our Coals, it makes me uneasy to think, we are after so many Years disputing about them, when we ought to be enjoying them; but as the remaining Part of the Expence, to finish this noble Design, is quite inconsiderable, compared to the Benefit we expect from it; and as the Nation must not be trifled with any longer, I hope we shall see it soon compleated. For some Years it has had the good Fortune, to be conducted through many Obstacles, under the Direction of a Prelate5, to whose Skill and Zeal, whenever the Canal succeeds, Ireland is deeply indebted, and will be forever oblig'd on that Account, to mention his Name with Honour. This is an encouraging Circumstance, and this further Hope of its Success, is left us, that it is now in the Hands of the natural Guardians of our Country, the Parliament; and as they well know what a vast Influence cheap or dear Coals have on many of our Manufactures, they will never let us be much longer deprived of this Blessing, which we expect from their Zeal to relieve all the Wants of Ireland.
Swift. They need not be told, (though however if I was alive I would tell them of it) that if it cost us 20000 l. more, the Design well deserves it; and if it took a much larger Sum, it wou'd be a cheap Purchase of 60000 l. per Annum saved to Ireland, which will be unquestionably the Case in a few Years. After having been such Spendthrifts so long, it looks like Impudence for us to talk of saving; but as Sickness is sometimes the Cause of Health, so Misfortunes and Misconduct may force us to be happy. It seems impossible, that either our Canal, or our Collieries, can any longer be delayed or neglected, and much less left in utter Danger of miscarrying, as I know it was for some Time; but I must say, it is a Grief to every Friend of Ireland, and a Satire on our Understandings, as well as our public Spirit, that we were so long in discovering such a Leak, and afterwards so tedious in stopping it up. If we were not a Nation as much made for Plunder, as smaller Animals are for Prey, we should long since have remedied this and many other Evils; but 'tis our peculiar Lot, to starve, like our old Friend Tantalus, with the Meat at our Mouths, to want Bread with the richest Fields in Europe under our Feet, and to want Fire with the noblest Mountains of Coals before our Eyes.
Prior. To see our Errors is one good Step to remove them; and if once our Legislature sets vigorously about proper Methods and Remedies for all our Distresses, there is Hope that their Zeal may make Things take a happier Turn, for this poor Kingdom.
Swift. I wish I may see such a blessed Change in our Affairs, but Seasons and Aspects are a little unpromising; and what discourages me the more is, another dreadful Quality of our People, that of their being so ready to desert and forsake their Country, which they leave as sillily as Birds quit their Nests, upon every little Fright or Disturbance, or just to gratify a wandering Humour, and to chuse a Situation they like better. Our Noblemen and Gentlemen leave us for Pleasure and Amusement, and our Poor for Bread and Wages, which we cannot or will not provide them at home; and some run off for mere Safety, as they see our Distresses, and fly from us by the same sort of Instinct that Rats forsake a falling House. Thus a Family where the Master first deserts the Children, and then the Servants follow his Example, can hardly be reduced to a worse Condition than we are, by this epidemical Madness of wandering to England. Though the great Gain she makes by their residing there, will never allow her to drive them back to us, yet one wou'd expect the very Contempt and Neglect they meet with there, wou'd make them return to a Country, where they wou'd be so much honour'd, and where they well know they are so much wanted. At the same Time I make no doubt, if the old Statutes, which punish'd all Absentees with the Forfeiture of their Lands here, were to be revived, and they were thereby obliged, to improve the Industry, Arts and Manufactures of our People, England wou'd in Time receive great Advantages by the Change. Mean while they, and all the Earth, see the Destruction they bring on us, by their deserting us in so ungenerous a Manner; and tho' the Cause and the Cure are so evident, it avails us no more, than the Knowledge of his Distemper does the poor Wretch that lies a dying. If they stay'd with us, and help'd us, we shou'd soon recover our natural Strength of Constitution, and become both an industrious and an important People; whereas now, we are almost a Cypher in the active and commercial World, and a mere Appendix to another Nation; while, like ill-coupled Hounds, by drawing different Ways, we sometimes rather disturb than help one another. If I had Hopes to get a Law pass'd, to burn every Clergyman who does not reside, to hang every Gentleman, and behead every Nobleman, who desert their Country for their Amusement, I wou'd even be content to return to the World, and sollicit Votes for it; but without taking up the Burden of Life again, I shou'd feel Joy in my Grave, to have their Estates saddled with a constant Tax as a Fine for Absence. How lightly soever Gentlemen regard this Desertion of their native Soil, it is certainly a Crime no good or great Mind can be capable of: And the Officer who quits his Quarters, or the Sailor who forsakes his Ship, do not better deserve to be mulk'd in their Pay than they do.
Prior. I think it a little odd, Mr. Dean, that while we see our Countrymen deserting us so generally, and lament it so loudly, we yet take such Measures as if we thought they did not go away fast enough; and therefore send off our Criminals, to labour, and breed, and enrich America. Tho' this wretched Island is the most improvable, and the least improved Part of the habitable Earth, we drive away from us our Felons, though, if we kept them confin'd to hard Labour, the Kingdom wou'd receive all the Profit of their Work, and by this Means a converted Criminal, like a penitent Sinner, wou'd be of more Use, and a better Man, than if he had never transgressed at all.
Swift. There may be some ill Consequences in that Method of punishing Felons, as well as some good ones; for in a Complication of Disorders, such as Ireland labours under, what helps the one is pernicious to the other. It is our peculiar Misery, that the Desertion of some of our People does not hurt us more, than the Sleepiness, the Inactivity and Heedlessness of those that stay behind. Many of our common Irish know as little of the Benefits of useful Labour, as the Savages in the West Indies; and are more inclined to live by Theft and Rapine, than by using their Hands and toiling their Bodies. Nay, Crowds of our Gentlemen are as indolent (as we observed on another Occasion) as their Slaves are lazy; and seem as unwilling to improve their Estates, as if they thought their Tenures were as uncertain, and as subject to Change, as ever their Ancestors found them. At present, there are few Kingdoms in Europe, where the Titles to them are so indisputably settled as they are in Ireland, and yet they improve more in France, where all depends on the King's Will, than in Ireland, where the Property of the Subject is so impregnably secured by the Laws. Of such Force is the Genius of a Nation in regulating our Manners, and forming our Customs. I assure you, dear Tom, I could name Crowds of our Irish Gentlemen, that wou'd double their Estates, if they would live on them, and ditch them, and drain them, and build them, and plant them, with half the Skill and Application of a rich sensible Farmer in England; nay, I know some of them that are so situated, that they would quadruple their Rents in some Years, if they wou'd build Towns, and set up Manufactures on them with proper Care. There are few of them that have not before their Eyes (if they wou'd open them) Instances of these Things in every County, and yet are no more influenced by it, than if there was no more Encouragement for Arts or Industry, thinking or working, in this Island, than there is in Borneo or Madagascar.
Prior. There are many Reasons to be assigned, for this great Mistake in the Conduct of some of our Irish Gentlemen, Mr. Dean, if we wanted to examine into these Matters; but as to what you was saying, as to their neglecting to live, and plant, and build on their Estates, I have wondered, since we cannot hope to get a Law to force our Absentees home, that we don't make one to oblige all Gentlemen, to build and keep in Repair one Mansion-house on their Lands, of such and such Dimensions, with proper Offices, suitable to their Incomes. If this took in even Freeholders of 20 or 30 l. a Year, throughout the Kingdom, it would have a great Effect, and encrease the Number of our Inhabitants, in this deserted Country, as well as the King's Revenue, by many thousand additional Hearths, and comfortable Places of Residence. At the same Time, I cannot see one Objection to so useful a Law, but that nobody would get by it but the Public, and that many private Gentlemen and Absentees wou'd be forced to be useful to us and their Families whether they wou'd or no, which wou'd probably be thought a terrible Hardship by some People.
Swift. Why, Tom, I cannot but say, such a Law wou'd be of great Use in so naked a Country as this, where one wou'd imagine many of us were descended from the Ringleaders in the Building the Tower of Babel; and that by their being then punished, for meddling too much in Stone and Morter, we have contracted an Aversion to all Building ever since; but whenever such a Law is to be pass'd, I could wish they wou'd add another to it, that wou'd not only build our Country, but plant it surprisingly too.
Prior. And pray what Law is it? For I am ready, like some good Patriots (who get others to think for them) to vote for it, right or wrong; nay, before I know what it is, since so good a Friend proposes it.
Swift. Why, my Act of Parliament is enough to frighten all good Protestants, and is to impower every Landlord, notwithstanding Settlements, to set Leases for ever, of ten or twenty Acres, even to Papists, at the full reserved Rent, who wou'd build good Houses of Stone and Lime, of such and such Dimensions, and inclose and plant an Orchard and Garden of at least one Acre, and keep them in Repair, on pain of voiding the Tenure. This wou'd, in a few Years, increase the Number of our Houses and Orchards prodigiously; and the more as our Natives are very fond of having Lands and Tenements in their own Country, and are willing to give this Pledge of their Allegiance, which so many of them, for Want of such Ties, sit too loose in. I am sensible what an Outcry, many honest Gentlemen wou'd make to this Law; but I am sure it wou'd improve our Country to an high Degree; nor do I see what shou'd hinder us to allow Papists to purchase Lands, (and especially the old forfeited Lands) to a limited Value, and without allowing them a Vote, provided they built and inclosed them in proportion to the Estate: But who can bear to throw away their Thoughts on a Nation, that mind their own Dreams and Habits of Thinking more than the Reasonings of others; who cannot be prevailed on to set up new Manufactures, at the Instances and Exhortations of a Lord Lieutenant, nay, not at the Advice, and, shall I add, even the Entreaties of that illustrious Patriot and Friend to Ireland, my Lord Ch——d.
Prior. You mean the making Paper here, which that Nobleman, with a Zeal equal to his Understanding, honoured me with so many Letters about; and took so much Pains, with many useful Friends of our Country, to get effectually established in Ireland.
Swift. I do; and I want to vent my Spleen, in abusing my Countrymen, for the inconsiderable Progress which has been made in so excellent a Design. Certainly, though we have made some Advances that Way, if we had carried them on with the least Share of that Nobleman's Spirit, we shou'd have brought it to much greater Perfection than we have done. Even with what little Care and Encouragement we have bestowed on it, if we continue to cultivate it, we may expect in some Years to improve it so far, as to be able to export large Quantities, and see it swell and increase, in proportion to the great Material for it, our Linen. But, as if we were afraid too many Arts wou'd enrich us too fast, or take up more Hands than we cou'd spare; we have given this useful Undertaking so little Assistance, that it has by no means made the Advances we cou'd have expected from it; and we have just left it, like a lovely exotic Flower, to live or die at the Mercy of an unfavourable Season, and a wintry Climate. This puts our Giddiness, in overlooking every offered Advantage, and our Supineness as to all Attempts to improve our Circumstances, in a very indifferent Light; we wear better Linen, and more of it, than most of our neighbouring Kingdoms, (our Numbers and Poverty fairly considered) nay, and we wear them to Rags too, and yet we will not save those Rags for the Paper-mill; nor will we, when they are turned into Paper, buy it, while we can purchase better and dearer from France and Holland. In short, we are a People, Tom, miserable amidst a Crowd of Opportunities to be happy, for Want of a little Activity and Management, a little Sobriety and Care; and one of the most alleviating Circumstances of my Death was, my being delivered from the Torment, of endeavouring to serve Ireland to no Purpose.
Prior. Indeed, Mr. Dean, I cannot but allow there is too much Truth in many of your Attacks and Abuses of our unfortunate Countrymen; and yet I am tempted to return to my old Reveries, and to think, notwithstanding all their Disadvantages, if I had lived ten Years longer in Ireland, I shou'd have been able to have made vast Alterations among them for the better.
Swift. No, Tom, not if you had lived longer than Methuselah. Consider, Man, tho' there are Remedies for the Sick, and Helps for the Dying, there are none for the Dead; and in that Light, I have been used to consider Ireland of a long Time. But prithee, Tom, let me know the whole of your Scheme; What wou'd you have done?
Prior. Why, if you will hear me calmly, Mr. Dean, I will give you a fair Account of what I wou'd have attempted at least, and to open all my Heart to you, that was one of the main Subjects I called at your Tomb to talk to you on, to see if we could get any of these Crawlers on the Earth to attempt it, by oar artfully suggesting it to him. In short, my Project was, by procuring greater and more numerous Subscriptions, and by extending and enlarging the Plan of the Dublin Society, to have promoted more than ever the general Good of the Kingdom.
Swift. You might as well Talk to most People, of the general Good of Japan. I have told you already they have no Notions of such Things: Their Thoughts, their Taste, their Passions have another Turn. Did you expect to get more from those, who think too much is given already? Why, Man, do you forget the Pains, the Application, the Time, and the Expence, it cost an old Gentleman of our Acquaintance, to procure the first Subscriptions? Recollect also, that after such plain, visible, good Effects were seen by the whole Kingdom, what Numbers of those, who seemed to subscribe with Zeal, withdrew their Subscriptions; and then consider what Success you could have of obtaining larger and more numerous Contributions.
Prior. I am but too sensible, there would be some Difficulty in it, Mr. Dean; but, cold and dead as most Men are, to all great and generous Attempts to serve us, I know by Experience, that there are yet left in Ireland a few chosen Spirits, who wou'd have concurr'd in such a Design, and who had Hearts and Fortunes suited to the Task, and almost equal to the Burthen. But happen what would, I am sure, I should have got some reasonable additional Subsidies; and though possibly they would have been too small to answer my Purpose; yet, still, I should at least, have pav'd the Way for some happier Man who would have come after me; and I should have the Comfort to think, that my too eager Zeal to serve others, and disserve myself, could not give great Offence; especially, as Men are not likely to meet Impertinences of this Kind, every Day. This I am confident of, that the Use and Advantage which that Society, (blessed be God) has been of to Ireland, will secure a large adventitious Fund to her hereafter; and tho' by the Arts of evil Men, it may be damped, or dropped for some Years, there never will be wanting, worthy Spirits in the rising Generation, who will remember how happily, that Society was set up and supported, by a few active Gentlemen; and, that it may be restored again, and an adequate Fund provided for it, by the same Resolution and Zeal. But, after all, Mr. Dean, I make little Question (if I had lived, to apply for larger Subscriptions) I should not have been disappointed; and, if I had succeeded, Ireland should have had Cause to remember my good Fortune.
Swift. Alas! Tom, your Hopes were over-heated, I fear; though there are many Squanderers, there are few Givers in Ireland and even among those few, the greater Part instead of giving their Benefactions while they live, and can see them well applied; are laid in their Graves, before their Donations are of use to the Living; for People only bestow their Substance to others, as they do their old Cloathes to their Servants, when they can use them no longer. This, makes me fear, Tom, you would have got in few Contributions, among our own Countrymen. Alas! Tom, we seem to keep our Repentance for the Time past, and our Charity for the Future; but the poor present Time, is sacrificed to the meanest Avarice, the falsest Pleasures, or, the lowest Ambition; without any Care of the general Welfare of our Country, or one social Wish for the Happiness of our People.
Prior. I allow all this would hold true, if the great and admirable Effects of the Society's Præmiums, did not make it highly probable, that I should have prevailed with several of our worthiest Countrymen, to have assisted so great and so successful an Undertaking. When Men see they have it in their Power, if they will join together, to deliver their Country from all its calamitous Distresses; and to be themselves the Sources of infinite Blessings to Millions yet unborn, their Hands rebell against their Hearts, and even Misers learn to be bounteous. I am not ignorant, how much Men are under the Influence of their lowest and poorest Passions, yet still I am of Opinion, as Stingy as they generally are, if they evidently saw, where they could do much Good by their Benefactions, we should have more of them in the World than we have.
Swift. I doubt, Tom, you mistake that Matter egregiously, for nine Tenths of our Donations, I fear, proceed more from our Vanity than our Virtue. Numbers give, as our great Master tells us, to be seen of Men; and for that Reason, probably, it is, that there are so few secret Corbans offered up to Heaven, and not to the World; and if this be so, 'tis plain, that People give more for the Ostentation of having given, than the good they hope to get done by it, and therefore you must have met with few generous Subscribers.
Prior. I cannot approve of your Thoughts on this Point, nay, on the contrary, I am confident most People give for the heavenly Joy of giving, and the seeing much Good likely to be the Consequence of their Bounty; and from the same Way of Thinking, where there is little Hope of such Consequences, Men give more coldly and illiberally. I will also add, that the perceiving, how unskilfully (and therefore unsuccessfully) many bestow their Alms, is the Death of Charity, and the great Obstacle to generous Donations in others. It grieves me to say, that I have often observed, that too few give with Judgment.
Perdere multi sciunt, donare pauci.
And Numbers, through an ill concerted generosity, do not half the Good they might do, if they appropriated their Gifts with proper Skill, and knew the happy Art of giving. But giving largely to the Dublin Society, has not one Objection against it, and answers every End the human Soul can ask for, when it scatters the Dung of the Earth, to enrich the World. You well know, Dean, to give even to an useful Purpose, which ends with the Occasion that calls for it, falls short of those Charities, which extends their Views to future Ages; and therefore, to assist Societies, that are contriving for the Welfare of Nations, is a nobler Donation, than relieving private Wants that die away with the Person relieved. I will go yet further, Mr. Dean, since I have touch'd on this Topick, and assert, that to give, where Virtue and Industry are the Consequence of the Benefaction, you must allow is of higher Use, than relieving Distresses, which have been occasioned by Vice or Extravagance, and may probably end in them. Nay, to give under such Conditions, as must inevitably draw in others, to join in your Charity, and enlarge your Hopes of serving Mankind, is of the greatest Use; as it brings in Crowds to co-operate with you, and vastly out-do your Benefactions; and to give to a Plan of Charity, which is as likely to encrease as a River, the farther it goes, is of yet greater Service, than to give where their Subscription Ends like a Shower of Rain, in watering the Earth for a Moment, and vanishes with the next Sun. Lastly, to give to a few, and yet to make Numbers industrious and laborious, in Hopes of receiving your Bounty, though they never obtain it, is of yet more Weight and Importance; and this is plainly the Case of all Præmiums, where they are faithfully distributed. Now, all these Considerations accompany every Subscription to my enlarged Plan, and thence I was apt to flatter myself I should be successful, if I had liv'd to apply for them.
Swift. Well, I shall drop any Dispute on that Point: But, pray, Tom, be a little more minute in explaining your Views, and let me know if you had many large additional Subscriptions, how would you have applied them?
Prior. Why, I cannot enter into a long Detail of every Particular, but I would in General, have doubled the Præmiums of most of the Articles, which the Society has yet promoted, and in some of the most important Improvements and Manufactures, I would have trebled them. By this Means, it is hardly credible, what a Progress we should make, in all those Subjects of Husbandry and manual Arts in a few Years; and how we should work up the Industry and Skill of our People, by every Incentive that Profit or Glory could give them. I formerly reckoned up many Articles which I may probably seem tedious in repeating now, but you will make Allowances for my Fondness and Folly, as you know Mr. Dean; a Lover would as soon be tired with dwelling on the Praises of his Mistress, as I can be with naming the Things, or the Methods by which I flattered myself I could have served poor Ireland. The reflecting on them made my Life pleasant to me when upon Earth, and the Remembrance of them, sweetens my Grave to me; and therefore, though you may think them but Dreams, allow me the Pleasure of repeating them. I say, then, with the highest Joy of Heart, that the enlarging and improving our neglected Tillage, the encouraging and heightening our old decaying Manufactures, and the setting up new ones should have been the great Care of my Life, and the extending the Force and Use of the Society, when thus advanced to its Manhood, beyond what the Weakness and Inexperience of its infantine State could perform. I would have nursed up Crowds of Orphan Arts, and as they grew up, and could shift for themselves, I would have wean'd them, and brought a new Succession of others in their Place, as far as the Narrowness of the Fund would allow me. I would have brought over foreign Workmen of all Trades and Professions; I would have set up Glass Manufactures of all Kinds near our Collieries; I would have established our Earthen-Ware in the most effectual Manner, and if possible (by bringing over Hands from Birmingham) I would have improved our Hard-ware to such a Degree of Perfection as to stop that terrible Drain of our Cash. I had also designed to allow large Encouragements to bring over Foreigners for improving our Silk and Thread Bone-lace for enlarging our Paper and Sugar Business, which would be a Saving of many thousand Pounds every Year to Ireland.
Swift. Here is a fine Bundle of Hopes for a Man in Despair to live comfortably on! But pray now Tom, have you done reckoning up all your mighty Projects to make Ireland another Utopia? I am almost at the End of my Patience, for to say Truth, Tom, the List of the Ships in Homer's Iliad is not more tedious.
Prior. Why, Mr. Dean, to teize you as little as I can, I will drop a Number of others, and only touch cursorily on the Advancement of our Silk Manufactures of every Kind, as well as our Tapestry. I would have encouraged our Salt-works, and our Ship-building, and I would have set on Foot a Society, to have set up and directed our Fisheries both in the North and South Coasts of this Island. If I durst take in smaller Matters, I would have set up an experimental Farm and Garden, and in Time allowed a Salary for a Professor in Agriculture, which Columella you know so much laments the Want of, and I would have given an yearly Præmium of 100 l. for the best annual Invention in Arts and Husbandry, as much for the best Book yearly in any of the Sciences, and the same for the best English Poem; as Nations are apt to judge of each other's Genius and Talents (I will not say how justly) by the Performances they produce this Way. Nay, Mr. Dean, I would have advis'd a Præmium of at least 100 l. annually, to be given by the Society for the best Picture, and also, as much for the best Piece of Sculpture, or Statue; as these two Arts have ever been consider'd as the chief Marks and Characteristics of a polite and sensible Nation, and have always flourish'd where ever Arts or Learning have been encouraged. I had Thoughts of stopping the vast drain of our People to America, by hiring Ships which trade thither, to bring back every Irishman gratis, who disliked the Country, and would rail at it when he got Home. Nay, I had even Thoughts of printing a Collection in Folio, of all the best Irish Pamphlets, or at least, of all the best Hints in them, relating to the Service of our Country. I would have done my utmost to have gotten the best and noblest Members of the Society (as great and good Men communicate Virtue to their Friends as the Loadstone invigorates the Needle it touches) to have petitioned the Parliament for sumptuary Laws, for Hospitals in every County Town, for establishing a national Bank, for illuminating our Coasts, with Light-houses as carefully as our Streets with Lamps; for applying to his Majesty for a Mint for our Copper and Silver Coinage, and also for hardening it to prevent its wearing; as well as for forming Canals for assisting our inland Navigation, and for working up our Collieries, and opening those hidden Treasures our Mines. I would have promoted by judicious Præmiums.——
Swift. Hold! Stop! Where is the Man going? Are you sailing in Quest of the North-West Passage to make a short Cut to Wealth and Trade of your own imagining? You boddered me enough with many of these Articles already, and do you expect I can be as little tired with them as you are? Whenever you enter upon this Subject, you run on, Head foremost, like a mad Hound on the Road, without minding what's before you; weak Men, I find, tho' they cannot Think without Talking, can Talk without Thinking. Was there ever such a Hodge-Podge of Reveries, mustered up by a living Author, to say nothing of a dead one, that should have a little more Sense? Why there is not in all Bedlam, a Man so absurdly distracted by an Over-load of Projects. You are a sweet Politician indeed, Tom, and just as fit to conquer Nations as to mend them. What enthusiastical Delusions stuff thy Noddle? Will you never remember mundus vult vadere quo vult and be satisfied to leave the World to him that made it, and Kingdoms to those he has appointed to govern them? These high flown Whims of yours, are just as practicable, as Archimedes his moving the Earth out of its Place, and it provokes me to hear such impossible Projects declaim'd on by such a Visionary, such a Stockjobber in Politicks!
Prior. You try my Temper too far, I neither can nor will bear your insolent contemptuous Way of conversing, or your opprobrious provoking Language. If you attack my favourite Foible with such Acrimony, you must expect I will not spare some of yours: As for your sneering at my Politicks, I own I never was a Politician, nor did I ever set up for one. I had too rational an Head, I thank Heaven, and too honest an Heart, to allow me to make any great Progress that Way. And now, Mr. Dean, I must tell you very frankly, I never saw or heard any eminent Proofs of your extraordinary Skill as a Politician, except a vast Crowd of Pamphlets; And what are they but the mere Cobwebs of Politicks, that owe their Birth to the House being neglected, and are all swept away when it is clean'd? You was a pretty good Patriot, but you had so much of the Politician, the next to taking Care of others, you loved to take Care of yourself, and all possible Care too. You kept a good Byass on your Bowl to get near the Jack at long run and secure a Mitre; and tho' when you were disappointed, you furiously attack'd the Ministry and pleaded your Country's Cause with due Resentment; yet even then, your Revenge when over-tired, slept like an Hare with its Eyes open, that while you watch'd for the publick Good, you should not overlook your own. Besides, let me tell you Dean, if you will be taunting, that if the political Secrets of the latter End of the Queen's Reign were detected, you would be found as rank a Jacobite as many Authors in those Days represented you to the World.
Swift. I think you have borrowed some of their sort of Spite, for you seem to be in a great Fury with little Reason for it. But I must tell you, Sir, though those Authors were ever mistaken when they called me a Jacobite, I never was in the wrong when I called them Fools. As for your political Secrets, let me be allowed to set you right, for I assure you there are no such Things in England. Men are such sievish leaky Mortals there, that they can't conceal even their own Rogueries; for political Secrets told to Britons, tho' under Vows of Secrecy, are like Bonds for great Sums seal'd in private, but Judgment is soon enter'd up in the public Offices; and all the World knows in a trice what has pass'd. As for the kind Hints those Writers Honoured me with, I assure you, Sir, I despised them as sincerely as your Anger now. Their Talents were incapable of hurting any but themselves, and therefore I forgave them, as the Law pardons Children and Ideots. It is true, where their Spite appeared very invenom'd, I took other Measures; for then, as the Statute speaks of Boys, Malitia suplet ætatem (Malice supplies their Want of Age) and I pepper'd them off notwithstanding their Folly, to frighten silly Scribblers from playing with such edg'd Tools again. But after all, what were their Works against me, but a mere hot Hash of cold Meat, of fifty half read political Authors, and unknown common-place Party-Writers, mix'd up with common Reports, and a few insipid lifeless Scraps of their own tasteless Trash and factious Venom.
Prior. We that are dead and love Truth, know that most Books, and especially Party Books are made like their Paper of old Scraps and Rags pickt up here and there; but however, their Works in those Days pleased the World, had an infinite number of Applauders, and made you sufficiently jealous of the Talents of their Authors.
Swift. I jealous! I detest, I renounce the Thought! I was never jealous of any Man but my self, lest I should fall short of that Glory, which I knew I had gained, and feared I might lose again. I ever judg'd when a Man has wrote a good Book, he should Stop as Jupiter did when he begot Hercules, left his next Production, should be found vastly beneath the former; and therefore I was as suspicious of my scribling Temper, as Physicians say an over-fed Glutton should be of his Finger's Ends. But I scorn'd my Antagonists too much, to be jealous of them, or even to be Angry with them; for tho' they abused me very Generally and very Grosly, my chief Delight was, that they never reviled me so much as when I was in my greatest Glory, as Dogs never are so apt to Bark at the Moon, as when she is at the Full. Besides, let me tell you, testy Sir, with the old Poet Nomina mille, mille nocendi Artes. 'Tis so easy to be malicious, and at the same time so mean, that true Worth never Triumphs so eminently over its Enemies, as when they expose their Weakness and Envy by reviling it. It is true, many Scriblers busied themselves with Criticising and Decrying my Works; but they were so far from disturbing me, I made the best Use of them, by improving my Productions; for Criticks to good Writers, are like their own Dust to Diamonds, good for nothing but just to polish them, and them only. I Jealous! No really, Sir, there was no Occasion for it; the very Wit of my Writings kept all the laughing Part of Mankind on my Side, and I never lived in any Times where reasoning was much regarded by the common Herd of Readers or Talkers.
Prior. A pretty Confession for an Author, Truly! and yet since you have stirred my Gall, I must tell you, that we may say of the brightest of your Writings, what I said in one of my Exercises at School of Mr. Cowlry.
With all the Graces, all the Faults of Wit,
You both adorn'd and blemisht all you writ.
I am sure you had often such a quick running hand way of thinking, that you frequently left your meaning behind you. But I am not angry enough to make any severe Remarks of my own, on the numerous Tracts you gave the World; but there was one Objection every one agreed in, and that was your banishing Divinity out of all your Compositions, and indeed out of your Conversation; so that it should seem Mr. Dean, if I am such a wretched Politician as you say, I may as fairly and more truly tell you, that you have not shewn your self a very able Divine.
Swift. I smile at the Weakness of the Objection, but I am quite delighted with the Malice of it. Let me tell you, Sir, I had something else to do with my Divinity, than filling Pamphlets with it to make madmen Merry, and wisemen Sick. There is a Decency, or shall I rather say a Chastity in Writing or Thinking on such exalted Subjects, that great Minds are apt to Cherish, which keeps them Cautious and Diffident, where weak Men are as bold and as rash (to use an homely Phrase) as a blind Mare in a Mire. I have known many silly Preachers, and paperscull'd Writers in my Time, that were troubled with the Divinity Squirt, and were forc'd to print, or to be tormented with the Cholick, or foul themselves; and so they exposed their Nakedness to the World, with all their Rhapsodies of dreaming Thoughts, borrowed Sense, and hearsay Learning. I was none of those High Dutch Inkshiters as somebody calls them; and instead of sending my Religion to the Press to make other Men frantick, I kept mine at home to keep my self Sober. As to the rest of your Objection, Sir, I must confess I did not talk much of Divinity, nor did I love to hear others bring it into Conversation; for it was always my Opinion, that tho' Divinity and Piety are at home in the Church and the Closet, yet every where else they are used as Strangers, and should be treated with the highest Respect and Ceremony. The Practice Men have fallen into, of over-writing and over-talking themselves on such Subjects, has done and is doing such harm in the World, that I wonder it has not been hist out of it; but there are some Persons so fond of haranguing, declaiming and setting out their Noise to the Crowd, that if they wrote on Geometry or Algebra, they would flourish and use Tropes and Figures to shew their Parts and their Eloquence, and so in spite of all Advice and Experience, Divinity and Religion must be bother'd out of their Senses by Praters and Scriblers and half Thinkers.
But prithee Tom, let my Divinity alone. Why should you strive to vex me by throwing Dirt at me now, tho' you know I was never disturbed by such impotent Petulance, when I was above Ground; or else I had Revilers enough to make me as Sick of Ireland, after all the Service I had done it by my Pen, as ever King William was of England, after he had delivered it by his Sword. But let us put an End to this ugly Brawl, which even the Passion and Impudence of the living might blush at. It is a shame Tom, for old Friends to Quarrel for such miserable Trifles, and for the dead to grow so angry at them; puts us in as bad a Light, as the half-witted Fools that are still crawling on the Earth. Prithee be calm and cool as the Grave ought to make you, and let us agree to drop this fit of ill Humour, and I shall make you a Proposal that I hope will give you the highest Pleasure. If you will lay aside your Resentment for my abusing your Schemes, I will offer you one, that if ever it comes to be embraced, will make Ireland one of the fortunate Islands.
Prior. Make me Master of that important Secret, and convince me of its being probable and practicable, and my anger is over in an Instant, like an Infant's. Dear Dean, you rejoyce my Heart with the very hint you have dropt, and let me beg of you to communicate the whole to me.
Swift. Why my Scheme is entirely bottom'd on that happy one of your Society's Premiums but so completely secur'd from my old Objection of the narrowness and uncertainty of its Fund, as to make the force of the Engine quite equal to the Work 'tis designed for. No one can have an higher Opinion than I of the salutary Effects, which publick and honorary Rewards have on the human Mind; and above all, when the Society's Fund does not depend on Charities given by Scraps and casual Helps quite inadequate to her extended Views, but on the publick Faith, and the great Source of all our Supplies the national Bounty, and the Zeal, the Generosity, the good Sense of our Irish Representatives. It is as shameful to see a Kingdom depending on private Contributions, as a Ballysarius begging of a common Soldier. The King thought so when he extended his royal Munificence to us, and tho' he cannot help all, or do all; he has shewn us he desires it, and would gladly spur us on to Exert ourselves, and be more generally Active and Busy. This illustrious Example makes me confident, that if in imitation of his Majesty, the Parliament should resolve to assist us; it would be the noblest and quickest Method of relieving all our Wants, and banishing Indolence and Misery for ever from Ireland.
Prior. I embrace the lucky Thought, and hope if it be followed, it may be for ever Propitious to this poor Kingdom. I remember he that first introduced that obvious, but happy Scheme of Premiums; used often to declare that the Method of Private Subscriptions was but a mere transitory Shift to set up with, and give a Proof of what Effects they would produce; but that Parliamentary Aids were the only adequate Funds we could thrive by. I often used to tell him my Fears, that such Assistances were not to be hoped for, and I own I have some Doubt, that there are some Objections against such extraordinary Helps now.
Swift. I know them as well as you, Tom, but there are none take my Word for it, but what are surmountable by the Spirit and Honour of an Irish Parliament. I dare pawn all that is dear to me among Men, that if our Senators will Vote 4000 l. per Ann. to the Society, that is 1000 l. to each of the Provinces, to encourage Tillage, enliven every Art and Manufacture, promote every Good, and remove every Evil among us; we should before the End of this Century, be as much the Envy of our Neighbouring Nations, as we are now their Contempt. As they would inspect over the Distribution of all they gave, there can be no fear of Misapplication, or the low Tricks of Jobbing; and as a Tax either on Deals or Wines, on Paper or Stampt-paper, News-papers, or Almanacks; on Plays, Musick-Meetings, Assemblies, on Lands sold, on Swords or Jewels worn on our Crowds of useless Servants or thoughtless Travellers, would most of them furnish us with sufficient Funds. I can see nothing to prevent so blessed a Purpose. I remember an illustrious Friend of ours used to say, it would be no bad Way, if in all future Parliaments, every Member should be obliged to add to the present Oaths he takes, one plain one, that he would do his utmost to promote the Manufactures of this Country, the Industry of the People, and to secure Bread and Fire at Home to the miserable Poor. But if the present Parliament should give a Vote of Credit for 4000 l. a Year to the Society, it would make such an Oath quite unnecessary, and they would enable them by that single Measure to give all our Affairs a new Face, and put us at once in the happiest Situation that Activity and Affluence could procure us.
Prior. I have such a Confidence in the Concurrence of Men of all Parties in so glorious a Design, that I begin to look already on this Affair as certain and settled. There are such Crowds of sincere and hearty Friends to their Country in that honourable Assembly, that I fully persuade my self, they will never grudge so small a Sum to this plain and evident Method of laying the Foundation on which the Prosperity of Ireland may stand for ever. We should then see prodigious Changes for the better, and no more hear such complaining in our Streets of no Trade, no Arts or Artists, or Encouragement for them in Ireland. This depends on ourselves and the Spirit and Votes of our own generous Commons, who will be bless'd by Posterity for thus making their Zeal, the great Source of Wealth, Industry, Plenty and Peace amongst us. Indeed, when I consider how shameful it wou'd be, if, through any undue Influence we should want every Support in our Power to give our People to enliven, enrich, or distinguish our Country; I grow almost Confident of such a blessed Assistance. This is helping our Families, our Dependants, our Tenants and Fellow-Citizens, the present and future Generations. Every Acre the Society would by this means improve (and they would improve Millions) would be so much additional Wealth to the Kingdom; every Art they set up; every manual Trade they encourage, will be a new strength to us, and will spread themselves as fast thro' the Kingdom as our Rivers do their vital Juices thro' our Plains.
Swift. Well, Tom, I am glad our Disputes are at an End, that I have pleased you at last, and made you entirely prefer my Methods of assisting the Society to your own. It is certain, a Vote of Parliament has often set up useful Manufactures here, and this will be but a general one, for the setting up all. Nor is there any Cause to doubt of this publick Bounty, for tho' private Men are penurious, Nations are generous, and the publick Money is so easily raised, is paid by so many, and hurts so few, that even a Parliament of Misers might be Charitable. Every body is well disposed to bestow bounteously out of his Neighbour's Purse, to good Purposes, tho' he may be close enough or cautious enough, to save his own; and at the same Time, the Publick is certainly the proper and natural Guardian of its own Wants and Interests. In short, Tom, the Thing is so manifest and self-evident, that I dare pronounce the Day is coming, when Votes to set on foot such Undertakings, proposed by skilful Artists, and to encourage publick Works, will be as common as Addresses to the King, and Congratulations to our Lord Lieutenants. As we ought to give to Ireland, and to help our poor Country as well as his Majesty; and as no Money given by any People, can be productive, of so much and so general a Good to all, as this 4000 l. per Ann.; as it will be manag'd by such clean Hands, and such clear Heads and faithful Hearts, as it will be directed by an Industry that never slackens, and by a Society which by the King's Goodness to us, can never die, I am sure we shall not be denied it. This is really the truest and noblest Use of Riches, for to give and relieve Thousands, is the best View on which we can either gather or disperse them, and above all when the Charity begins at home, and helps and makes happy our wanting Brethren. This Design must give the highest Joy to the Parliament, which supports and enforces it, for it is certainly a vast Pleasure to a Patriot any way to assist in alleviating and assisting the Wants of his indigent Countrymen; but how much must his Joy be encreas'd, and what must he feel, who bestows Knowledge, Virtue and Industry, to Millions of his Fellow-Citizens? To give to such noble Ends, seems to be transcending the Limits of Humanity, and wou'd look like usurping on the Power of Heaven, if the Creator had not transform'd it, to a Kind of Homage to himself.
Prior. Dear Dean, I forgive you any Trifle that offended me in our Dialogue, and I thank you from my Soul for this happy Expedient to serve our Country so evidently and effectually. If once our Representatives will let us feel and know, that Industry in Ireland, shall never be unrewarded, nor Arts neglected, we shall soon learn that in so fertile a Country, no Man who has Hands and will use them, can ever want either the Necessaries or Conveniences of Life. This Help from our Parliament wou'd turn in a little Time our Desarts into Gardens, our Famines into Plenty, our Herdsmen into Farmers, our Beggars into Labourers, our Villages of starving Cottagers, into Towns swarming with Artists, and our Beasts into Men; nay every Hill wou'd be cultivated, every Valley ornamented, and our Lands as much improv'd as our Roads.
Swift. What hindered our former Parliaments from taking such Measures, I will not pretend to Guess, but why they in the Days of our Ancestors, shou'd Vote such Funds to our Civil and Military Establishments, and such Pittances, such Nothings, to the Ease, the Well-being, the Happiness and Honour of the Nation, is hard to say, and parhaps, Tom, if we were living in those Days not very safe. It is a Comfort our People are in no such Danger now, under such a Senate and such a Governor, nor shall we be any more in danger of Jobbing away our Country for private Views, or sacrificing the general Welfare of a whole People to the Pride or the Power, the Gain, Avarice or Ambition, of half a Dozen over-grown Men. But there is one Thing, Tom, I must mention, as almost as usefull to the Happiness of Ireland, as the Parliament's Assistance, and that is that in every County, great City, and large manufacturing Towns, Societies shou'd be form'd with Subscriptions from all who compose them, for setting up Premiums for such Improvements, in all the manual Arts, as they find they want most to set forward. But as I think you mention'd this already, and seem as zealous to see it promoted as I am, I shall not enlarge on it as fully as it deserves. All I shall hint at is, that 50 l. or 60 l. or at most 100 l. a Year thus applied, wou'd have amazing Effects thro' the Nation, as it wou'd remove all those Wants, and set up those Arts, which wou'd most affect their particular Circumstances, and which the Dublin Society, cou'd not so immediately attend to, in its general View of assisting all. As soon as the most necessary Things were fully provided for, such Societies wou'd go on to others, and thus in Time, wou'd find their own Estates and Neighbourhoods, largely repaying by their Improvements, the Care and the Expence of the Subscribers. The maritime Counties, wou'd soon among other Things set up Fisheries, and the Inland Counties, wou'd promote either Tillage or Mines, or usefull Manufactures; and by this means, all the great Drains of our Health and our Wealth, our Blood and our Spirits, wou'd be cut off, and our natural Strength wou'd encrease with our Labour. Thus in Process of Time, this Kingdom wou'd be the Happiest, instead of being the most Distrest of all Lands, and wou'd be as Rich as she wants to be, provided always, dear Tom, that like some good-natur'd thriving Merchants I have known, we do not resolve to be bound for our elder Brother's Debts.
Prior. I think such Societies in every County, or every considerable County, wou'd be a nobel Addition to our Parliamentary Bounties; and I trust in the Providence of him who governs the World, and the Goodness of those whom he has appointed as his Substitutes over these Nations, we shall not want these Blessings long. But we will if you please, Mr. Dean, drop this Subject at the present; and now we have talk'd over so many of these Particulars relating to the Welfare of Ireland, I wou'd fain speak on other interesting Topicks, which also occasion'd my paying this Visit to you. The first is to canvass over calmly and candidly all the Arguments for or against a Union of this Kingdom, with Great Britain. I am assured by all the Ghosts I have met with of late, that this is a Design, which in due Time is surely to be brought about one way or other. The second is the violent and ill-judg'd Brigues and Feuds, between some of our most considerable People; who tear our Country in Pieces, like Cæsar and Pompey, because one cannot bear an Equal, nor the other a Superior, in the Government. In the 3d Place, I want to settle clearly, whether any of the Money that was charged to the Account of our Barracks, was carried out of the Kingdom by some strange Accident or other. When we have fully discussed this, I wou'd in the last place talk to you, in as free a Manner, as two such Friends to Ireland shou'd do; how well our Senate has formerly maintained, and is likely now to maintain its undoubted Right of disposing of the Redundancies of the Treasury, and taking Care that the People's Money, be laid out for the Service of themselves and the Nation.
Swift. I am quite pleased with your Proposal; but stay, I see they are lighting up Candles for Morning Service. Ah, Tom, if the Prayers of the Living were as Sincere and as Ardent as those of the Dead, what an altered World wou'd this be? Here is the Curate and three old Women coming to Church; what think you if for fear of frighting Fools, we laid by these winding Sheets in my Tomb, and walk'd in Fresco, in the Deanery-Garden, and enjoy'd this bright Morn.
Prior. With all my Heart. I have a Budget of Anecdotes, and a deal of Law and Politicks, to entertain you with. Oh this poor Kingdom! this unthinking People grieve my Soul!
Swift. Dear Tom, most Men scarce begin to Think, till they're summoned to die, and that I fear must be the Case of Ireland, unless the Parliament helps us. Allons! to my old dear Garden——lead the Way! without sans Ceremony, as Jodolet says in the play.
1 Queen Christina of Sweden.
2 Look to it Athenians, lest whilst you guard Heaven too closely you should lose your Lands.
3 1 Chronicles, 27. ch. v. 25 and 26.
4 The King of Spain's son put to Death privately by his Order.
5 His Grace of Tuam.