Billeder på siden

which she had by her in specie; but one of these unlucky edicts coming out a week before the intended marriage, she lost a thousand pound, and her bridegroom into the bargain.

The uncertainty of riches is a subject much discoursed of in all countries, but may be insisted on more emphatically in France than any other. A man is here under such a kind of situation, as one who is managed by a juggler. He fancies he has so many pieces of money in his hand; but let him grasp them never so carefully, upon a word or two of the artist they increase or dwindle to what number the doctor is pleased to name.

This method of lowering or advancing money, we, who have the happiness to be in another form of government, should look upon as an unwarrantable kind of clipping and coining. However, as it is an expedient that is often practised, and may be justified in that constitution which has been so thoroughly studied by the pretender to his majesty's crown, I do not see what should have hindered him from making use of so expeditious a method for raising a supply, if he had succeeded in his late attempt to dethrone his majesty, and subvert our constitution. I shall leave it to the consideration of the reader, if, in such a case, the following edict, or something very like it, might not have been expected.

“WHEREAS, these our kingdoms have long groaned under an expensive and consuming land war, which has very much exhausted the treasure of the nation, we being willing to increase the wealth of our people, and not thinking it adviseable for this purpose to make use of the tedious methods of merchandise and commerce, which have been always promoted by a faction among the worst of our subjects, and were so wisely discountenanced by the best of them in the late reign, do hereby enact, by our sole will and pleasure, that every shilling in Great Britain shall pass in all payments for the sum of fourteen pence, till the first of September next, and that every other piece of money shall rise and pass, in current payment, in the same proportion. The advantage which will accrue to these nations by this our royal donative, will visibly appear to all men of sound principles, who are so justly famous for their antipathy to strangers, and would not see the landed interest of their country weakened by the importations of foreign gold and silver. But since, by reason of the great debts which we have contracted abroad, during our fifteen years reign, as well as of our present exigencies, it will be necessary to fill our exchequer by the most prudent and expeditious methods, we do also hereby order every one of our subjects to bring in these his fourteen-penny pieces, and all the other current cash of this kingdom, by what new titles soever dignified or distinguished, to the master of our mint, who, after having set a mark upon them, shall deliver out to them, on, or after, the first of. September aforesaid, their respective sums, taking only four pence for ourself for such his mark on every fourteen-penny piece, which from henceforth shall pass in payment for eighteen pence, and so in proportion for the rest. By this method, the money of this nation will be more by one third than it is at present; and we shall content ourselves with not quite one-fifth part of the current cash of our loving subjects; which will but barely suffice to clear the interest of those sums in which we stand indebted to our most dear brother and ancient ally. We are glad of this opportunity of showing an instance of our goodness to our subjects, by this our royal edict, which shall be read in every parish church of Great Britain, immediately after the celebration of high mass. For such is our pleasure.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Pulchrum est bene facere reipublicæ; etiam bene dicere haud absurdum est.

SALLUST. It has been usual these many years for writers, who have approved the scheme of government which has taken place, to explain to the people the reasonableness of those principles which have prevailed, and to justify the conduct of those who act in conformity to such principles. It therefore happens well for the party which is undermost, when a work of this nature falls into the hands of those who content themselves to attack their principles, without exposing their persons, or singling out any particular objects for satire and ridicule. This manner of proceeding is no inconsiderable piece of merit in writers, who are often more infuenced by a desire of fame, than a regard to the public good; and who, by this means, lose many fair opportunities of showing their own wit, or of gratifying the ill-nature of their readers.

When a man thinks a party engaged in such measures as tend to the ruin of his country, it is certainly a very laudable and virtuous action in him to make war after this manner upon the whole body. But as several casuists are of opinion that, in a battle, you should discharge upon the gross of the enemy, without levelling your piece at any particular persón; so in this kind of combat also, I cannot think it fair to aim at any one man, and make his character the mark of your hostilities. There is now to be seen in the castle of Milan, a cannon bullet, inscribed, "This to the Mareschal de Crequi,' which was the very ball that shot him. An author, who points his satire at a great man, is to be looked upon in the same view with the enginéer who signalised himself by this ungenerous practice.

But as the spirit of the Whigs and Tories shows


itself, upon every occasion, to be very widely different from one another; so is it particularly visible in the writings of this kind, which have been published by each party. The latter may, indeed, assign one reason to justify themselves in this practice; that, having nothing of any manner of weight to offer against the principles of their antagonists, if they speak at all, it must be against their persons. When they cannot refute an adversary, the shortest way is to libel him; and to endeavour at the making his person odious, when they cannot represent his notions as absurd.

The Examiner was a paper, in the last reign, which was the favourite work of the party. It was ushered into the world by a letter from a secretary of state, setting forth the great genius of the author, the usefulness of his design, and the mighty consequences that were to be expected from it. It is said to have been written by those among them whom they looked upon as their most celebrated wits and politicians, and was dispersed into all quarters of the nation with great industry and expence. Who would not have expected, that at least the rules of decency and candour would be observed in such a performance? but, instead of this, you saw all the great men, who had done eminent services to their country but a few years before, draughted out one by one, and baited in their turns. No sanctity of character, or privilege of sex, exempted persons from this barbarous usage. Several of our prelates were the standing marks of public raillery, and many ladies of the first quality branded by name for matters of fact, which, as they were false, were not heeded, and if they had been true, were innocent. The dead themselves were not spared. And here I cannot forbear taking notice of a kind of wit which has lately grown into fashion among the versifiers, epigrammatists, and other authors, who think it sufficient to distinguish themselves by their zeal for what they call the high-church, while they sport with the most tremendous parts of revealed religion. Every onc has seen epigrams upon the deceased fathers of our church, where the whole thought has turned upon hell-fire. Patriots, who ought to be remembered with honour by their posterity, have been introduced as speakers in a state of torments. There is something dreadful even in repeating these execrable pieces, which no man, who really believes in another life, can peruse without fear and trembling. It is astonishing to see readers who call themselves Christians, applauding such diabolical mirth, and seeming to rejoice in the doom which is pronounced against their enemies, by such abandoned scribblers. A wit of this kind, may with great truth be compared to the fool in the Proverbs, who plays with arrows, fire-brands and death, and says, am I not in sport?'

I must, in justice to the more sober and considerate of that party, confess that many of them were highly scandalised at that personal - slander and reflection which was fung out so freely by the libellers of the last reign, as well as by those prophane liberties which have been since continued. And, as for those who are either the authors or admirers of such compositions, I would have them consider with themselves, whether the name of a good churchman can atone for the want of that charity, which is the most essential part of Christianity. They would likewise do well to reflect, how, by these methods, the poison has run freely into the minds of the weak and ignorant; heightened their rage against many of their fellow subjects; and almost divested them of the common sentiments of humanity.

In the former part of this paper, I have hinted that the design of it is to oppose the principles of those who are enemies to the present government, and the main body of that party who espouse those principles. But even in such general attacks there are certain measures to be kept, which may have a tendency rather to gain, than to irritate those who differ with you in their sentiments. The Examiner would not allow such as were of a contrary opinion to him, to be either Christians Vol. IV.


« ForrigeFortsæt »