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TRIAL AND CONVICTION OF COUNT TARIFF.'
THE whole nation is at present very inquisitive after the proceedings in the cause of Goodman Fact, plaintiff, and Count Tariff, defendant; as it was tried on the 18th of June, in the thirteenth year of her Majesty's reign, and in the year of the Lord 1713. I shall therefore give my countrymen a short and faithful account of that whole matter. And in order to it, must in the first place premise some particulars relating to the person and character of the said plaintiff, Goodman Fact.
Goodman Fact is allowed by everybody to be a plainspoken person, and a man of very few words. Tropes and figures are his aversion. He affirms everything roundly, without any art, rhetoric, or circumlocution. He is a declared enemy to all kinds of ceremony and complaisance. He flatters nobody. Yet so great is his natural eloquence, that he cuts down the finest orator, and destroys the bestcontrived argument, as soon as ever he gets himself to be heard. He never applies to the passions or prejudices of his audience: when they listen with attention and honest minds, he never fails of carrying his point. He appeared in a suit of English broad-cloth, very plain, but rich. Everything he wore was substantial, honest, home-spun ware. His cane,
This humorous paper relates to the Tariff, as it is called, or treaty of commerce, declaring the duties of import and export, which the ministry had agreed to, at the peace of Utrecht. A bill, which the Commons had ordered to be brought in, for the confirmation of that treaty, occasioned great debates, and was at length thrown out by a small majority. This fate of the Tariff was thought to reflect no small disgrace on the makers of the peace, and was matter of great triumph to the Whig party. See the particulars in Burnet, under the year 1713, and in Tindal's Continuation.
indeed, came from the East Indies, and two or three little superfluities from Turkey, and other parts. It is said that he encouraged himself with a bottle of neat Port, before he appeared at the trial. He was huzzaed into the court by several thousands of weavers, clothiers, fullers, dyers, packers, calenders, setters, silk-men, spinners, dressers, whitsters, winders, mercers, throwsters, sugar-bakers, distillers, drapers, hosiers, planters, merchants, and fishermen; who all unanimously declared that they could not live two months longer, if their friend Fact did not gain his cause.
Everybody was overjoyed to hear that the good man was come to town. He no sooner made his appearance in court, but several of his friends fell a weeping at the sight of him: for, indeed, he had not been seen there three years before.
The charge he exhibited against Count Tariff was drawn up in the following articles.
I. That the said Count had given in false and fraudulent reports in the name of the plaintiff.
II. That the said Count had tampered with the said plaintiff, and made use of many indirect methods to bring him to his party.
III. That the said Count had wilfully and knowingly traduced the said plaintiff, having misrepresented him in many cunningly-devised speeches, as a person in the French interest.
IV. That the said Count had averred in the presence of above five hundred persons, that he had heard the paintiff speak in derogation of the Portuguese, Spaniards, Italians, Hollanders, and others; who were the persons whom the said plaintiff had always favoured in his discourse, and whom he should always continue to favour.
V. That the said Count had given a very disadvantageous relation of three great farms, which had long flourished under the superintendency of the plaintiff.
VI. That he would have obliged the owners of the said farms to buy up many commodities which grew upon their own lands. That he would have taken away the labour from the tenants, and put it into the hands of strangers. That he would have lessened and destroyed the produce of the
That by these, and many other wicked devices, he would
have starved many honest day-labourers, have impoverished the owner, and have filled his farms with beggars, &c.
VII. That the said Count had either sunk or mislaid several books, papers, and receipts, by which the plaintiff might sooner have found means to vindicate himself from such calumnies, aspersions, and misrepresentations.
In all these particulars, Goodman Fact was very short but pithy: for, as I said before, he was a plain, home-spun man. His yea was yea, and his nay, nay. He had further so much of the Quaker in him, that he never swore, but his affirmation was as valid as another's oath.
It was observed, that Count Tariff endeavoured to browbeat the plaintiff all the while he was speaking; but though he was not so impudent as the Count, he was every whit as sturdy; and when it came to the Count's turn to speak, old Fact so stared him in the face, after his plain, downright way, that the Count was very often struck dumb, and forced to hold his tongue in the middle of his discourse.
More witnesses appeared on this occasion, to attest Goodman Fact's veracity, than ever were seen in a court of justice. His cause was pleaded by the ablest men in the kingdom; among whom was a gentleman of Suffolk,1 who did him signal service.
Count Tariff appeared just the reverse of Goodman Fact. He was dressed in a fine brocade waistcoat, curiously embroidered with flower-de-luces. He wore also a broadbrimmed hat, a shoulder-knot, and a pair of silver-clocked stockings. His speeches were accompanied with much gesture and grimace. He abounded in empty phrases, superficial flourishes, violent assertions, and feeble proofs. To be brief, he had all the French assurance, cunning, and volubility of tongue; and would most certainly have carried his cause, had he dealt with any one antagonist in the world besides Goodman Fact.
The Count being called upon to answer to the charge which had been made against him, did it after a manner peculiar to the family of the Tariffs, viz. by railing and calling names.
He, in the first place, accused his adversary of scandalum magnatum, and of speaking against his superiors with sauci
Sir Thomas Hanmer, who, at first, had favoured the treaty, but afterwards spoke warmly and with effect against it.
ness and contempt. As the plain good man was not of a make to have any friends at court, he was a little startled at this accusation, till at length he made it appear, that it was impossible for any of his family to be either saucy or cringing; for that their character was, above all others in the world, to do what was required of them by the court, that is, "To speak the truth, and nothing but the truth."
The Count in the next place assured the court, that his antagonist has taken upon him a wrong name, having curtailed it of two or three letters; for that in reality his name was not Fact, but Faction. The court was so pleased with this conceit, that for an hour together he repeated it in every sentence; calling his antagonist's assertions, the reports of faction; his friends, the sons of faction; the testimonies of his witnesses, the dictates of faction: nay, with such a degree of impudence did he push this matter, that when he heard the cries of above a million of people, begging for their bread, he termed the prayers and importunities of such a starving multitude, the Clamours of Faction.
As soon as the Count was driven out of this device, he affirmed roundly in the court, that Fact was not an Englishman by birth, but that he was of Dutch extraction, and born in Holland. In consequence of this assertion, he began to rally the poor plaintiff, under the title of Mynheer Van Fact; which took pretty well with the simpletons of his party, but the men of sense did not think the jest worth all their lands and tenements.
When the Count had finished his speech, he desired leave to call in his witnesses, which was granted: when immediately there came to the bar, a man with a hat drawn over his eyes in such a manner that it was impossible to see his face. He spoke in the spirit, nay, in the very language, of the Count, repeated his arguments, and confirmed his assertions. Being asked his name, he said the world called him Mercator: but as for his true name, his age, his lineage, his religion, his place of abode, they were particulars, which, for certain reasons, he was obliged to conceal. The court found him such a false, shuffling, prevaricating rascal, that they set him aside, as a person unqualified to give his testimony in a court of justice; advising him, at the same time, as he ten
A ministerial paper, so called, written by Daniel de Foe, in vindication of the treaty of commerce.
dered his ears, to forbear uttering such notorious falsehoods as he had then published. The witness, however, persisted in his contumacy, telling them he was very sorry to find, that notwithstanding what he had said, they were resolved to be as arrant fools as all their forefathers had been for a hundred years before them.
There came up another witness,' who spoke much to the reputation of Count Tariff. This was a tall black, blustering person dressed in a Spanish habit, with a plume of feathers on his head, a Golillio about his neck, and a long Toledo sticking out by his side: his garments were so covered with tinsel and spangles, that at a distance he seemed to be made up of silver and gold. He called himself Don Assiento, and mentioned several nations that had sought his friendship; but declared that he had been gained over by the Count: and that he was come into these parts to enrich every one that heard him. The court was at first very well pleased with his figure, and the promises he made them; but upon examination, found him a true Spaniard: nothing but show and beggary. For it was fully proved, that, notwithstanding the boasts and appearance which he made, he was not worth a groat; nay, that upon casting up his annual expenses, with the debts and encumbrances which lay upon his estate, he was worse than nothing.
There appeared another witness in favour of the Count, who spoke with so much violence and warmth, that the court begun to listen to him very attentively; till, upon hearing his name, they found he was a notorious knight of the post, being kept in pay, to give his testimony on all occasions where it was wanted. This was the Examiner ; 2 a person who had abused almost every man in England, that deserved well of his country. He called Goodman Fact a liar, a seditious person, a traitor, and a rebel; and so much incensed the honest man, that he would certainly have knocked him down, if he could have come at him. It was allowed by everybody, that so foul-mouthed a witness never appeared
1 By this witness is meant, the Assiento Contract, or grant made by the king of Spain, for the importation of negroes into his American dominions, to the South-sea Company; the supposed benefits of which contract, being part of the treaty of commerce, were much insisted upon by the ministerial advocates.
2 The famous political paper of that name, in which Swift, and some other writers of credit, were concerned.