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to do the speaker justice, when, upon inquiry, they found that he never had a brother in his life; and that he had stirred up the sedition only to show his parts.
Public ministers would likewise do well to consider, that the principal authors of such reproaches as are cast upon them, are those who have a mind to get their places: and as for a censure arising from this motive, it is in their power to escape it when they please, and turn it upon their competitors. Malecontents of an inferior character are acted by the same principle; for so long as there are employments of all sizes, there will be murmurers of all degrees. I have heard of a country gentleman, who made a very long and melancholy complaint to the late Duke of Buckingham, when he was in great power at court, of several public grievances. The Duke, after having given him a very patient hearing, "My dear friend, (says he,) this is but too true; but I have thought of an expedient which will set all things right, and that very soon." His country friend asked him, what it was. "You must know, (says the duke,) there's a place for five hundred pounds a year fallen this very morning, which I intend to put you in possession of." The gentleman thanked his Grace, went away satisfied, and thought the nation the happiest under heaven, during that whole ministry.
But farther, every man in a public station ought to consider, that when there are two different parties in a nation, they will see things in different lights. An action, however conducive to the good of their country, will be represented by the artful and appear to the ignorant as prejudicial to it. Since I have here, according to the usual liberty of essaywriters, rambled into several stories, I shall fetch one to my present purpose out of the Persian history. We there read of a virtuous young emperor, who was very much afflicted to find his actions misconstrued and defamed by a party among his subjects that favoured another interest. As he was one day sitting among the ministers of his Divan, and amusing himself after the Eastern manner, with the solution of difficult problems and enigmas, he proposed to them in his turn the following one. "What is the tree that bears three hundred and sixty-five leaves, which are all black on the one side, and white on the other ?" His Grand Vizier immediately replied, it was the year, which consisted of three
hundred and sixty-five days and nights: "But, sir, (says he,) permit me at the same time to take notice, that these leaves represent your actions, which carry different faces to your friends and enemies, and will always appear black to those who are resolved only to look upon the wrong side of them." A virtuous man, therefore, who lays out his endeavours for the good of his country, should never be troubled at the reports which are made of him, so long as he is conscious of his own integrity. He should rather be pleased to find people descanting upon his actions, because when they are thoroughly canvassed and examined, they are sure in the end to turn to his honour and advantage. The reasonable and unprejudiced part of mankind will be of his side, and rejoice to see their common interest lodged in such honest hands. A strict examination of a great man's character, is like the trial of a suspected chastity, which was made among the Jews by the waters of jealousy. Moses assures us, that the criminal burst upon the drinking of them; but if she was accused wrongfully, the Rabbins tell us, they heightened her charms, and made her much more amiable than before: so that they destroyed the guilty, but beautified the innocent.
No. 18. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20.
-Inopem me copia fecit. OVID.
EVERY Englishman will be a good subject to King George, in proportion as he is a good Englishman, and a lover of the constitution of his country. In order to awaken in my readers the love of this their constitution, It may be necessary to set forth its superior excellency to that form of government, which many wicked and ignorant men have of late years endeavoured to introduce among us. I shall not, therefore, think it improper, to take notice from time to time of any particular act of power, exerted by those among whom the pretender to his Majesty's crown has been educated; which would prove fatal to this nation, should it be conquered and governed by a person, who in all probability would put in practice the politics in which he has been so long instructed.
There has been nothing more observable in the reign of his present Gallic Majesty, than the method he has taken for supplying his exchequer with a necessary sum of money. The ways and means for raising it has been an edict, or a command in writing signed by himself, to increase the value of louis d'ors from fourteen to sixteen livres, by yirtue of a new stamp which shall be struck upon them. As this method will bring all the gold of the kingdom into his hands, it is provided by the same edict that they shall be paid out again to the people at twenty livres each; so that four livres. in the score by this means accrue to his Majesty out of all the money in the kingdom of France.
This method of raising money is consistent with that form of government, and with the repeated practice of their late Grand Monarque; so that I shall not here consider the many evil consequences which it must have upon their trade, their exchange, and public credit: I shall only take notice of the whimsical circumstances a people must lie under, who can be thus made poor or rich by an edict, which can throw an alloy into a louis d'or, and debase it into half its former value, or, if his Majesty pleases, raise the price of it, not by the accession of metal, but of a mark. By the present edict many a man in France will swell into a plumb, who fell several thousand pounds short of it the day before its publication. This conveys a kind of fairy treasure into their chests, even whilst they are under lock and key; and is a secret of multiplication without addition. It is natural enough, however, for the vanity of the French nation to grow insolent upon this imaginary wealth, not considering that their neighbours think them no more rich by virtue of an edict to make fourteen twenty, than they would think them more formidable, should there be another edict to make every man in the kingdom seven foot high.
It was usual for his late most Christian Majesty to sink the value of their louis d'ors about the time he was to receive the taxes of his good people, and to raise them when he had got them safe into his coffers. And there is no question but the present government in that kingdom will so far observe this kind of conduct, as to reduce the twenty livres to their old number of fourteen, when they have paid them out of their hands; which will immediately sink the present
timpany of wealth, and re-establish the natural poverty of the Gallic nation.
One cannot but pity the melancholy condition of a miser in this country, who is perpetually telling his livres, without being able to know how rich he is. He is as ridiculously puzzled and perplexed as a man that counts the stones on Salisbury Plain, which can never be settled to any certain number, but are more or fewer every time he reckons them. I have heard of a young French lady, a subject of Louis the Fourteenth, who was contracted to a marquis upon the foot of a five thousand pound fortune, which she had by her sister 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 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 advisable 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 such 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."