The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, Vol. VI; The Drapier's Letters
Jonathan Swift

Part 4 out of 5

the misfortunes of others, I returned into this kingdom, and began to
employ my thoughts in cultivating the woollen manufacture through all
its branches Wherein I met with great discouragement and powerful
opposers, whose objections appeared to me very strange and singular They
argued that the people of England would be offended if our manufactures
were brought to equal theirs; and even some of the weaving trade were my
enemies, which I could not but look upon as absurd and unnatural I
remember your lordship at that time did me the honour to come into my
shop, where I shewed you a piece of black and white stuff just sent from
the dyer, which you were pleased to approve of, and be my customer for

[Footnote 8: The "piece of black and white stuff just sent from the
dyer," refers to his pamphlet, issued in 1720, "The Proposal for the
Universal Use of Irish Manufactures." See vol. vii. [T.S.]]

However I was so mortified, that I resolved for the future to sit
quietly in my shop, and deal in common goods like the rest of my
brethren; till it happened some months ago considering with myself that
the lower and poorer sort of people wanted a _plain strong coarse stuff
to defend them against cold easterly winds, which then blew very fierce
and blasting for a long time together_, I contrived one on purpose,
which sold very well all over the kingdom, and preserved many thousands
from agues I then made a second and a third kind of stuffs for the
gentry with the same success, insomuch that an ague hath hardly been
heard of for some time.[9]

[Footnote 9: The "cold easterly winds" refer to the demands made on the
Irish people to accept Wood's halfpence. The three different kinds of
"stuffs" are the three letters written under the _nom de guerre,_ "M.B.
Drapier." [T.S.]]

This incited me so far, that I ventured upon a fourth piece made of the
best Irish wool I could get, and I thought it grave and rich enough to
be worn by the best lord or judge of the land. But of late some great
folks complain as I hear, "that when they had it on, they felt a
shuddering in their limbs," and have thrown it off in a rage, cursing to
hell the poor Drapier who invented it, so that I am determined never to
work for persons of quality again, except for your lordship and a very
few more.[10]

[Footnote 10: This refers to the fourth letter of the Drapier, which
brought forth the proclamation, and for the author of which the reward
of L300 was offered. [T.S.]]

I assure your lordship upon the word of an honest citizen, that I am not
richer by the value of one of Mr. Wood's halfpence with the sale of all
the several stuffs I have contrived; for I give the whole profit to the
dyers and pressers.[11] And therefore I hope you will please to believe,
that no other motive beside the love of my country could engage me to
busy my head and hands to the loss of my time and the gain of nothing
but vexation and ill-will.

[Footnote 11: The printers [F.]]

I have now in hand one piece of stuff to be woven on purpose for your
lordship, although I might be ashamed to offer it you, after I have
confessed that it will be made only from the shreds and remnants of the
wool employed in the former. However I shall work it up as well as I
can, and at worst, you need only give it among your tenants.

I am very sensible how ill your lordship is like to be entertained with
the pedantry of a drapier in the terms of his own trade. How will the
matter be mended, when you find me entering again, though very
sparingly, into an affair of state; for such is now grown the
controversy with Mr. Wood, if some great lawyers are to be credited. And
as it often happens at play, that men begin with farthings, and go on to
gold, till some of them lose their estates, and die in jail; so it may
possibly fall out in my case, that by playing too long with Mr. Wood's
halfpence, I may be drawn in to pay a fine, double to the reward for
betraying me, be sent to prison, and "not be delivered thence till I
shall have paid the uttermost farthing."

There are my lord, three sorts of persons with whom I am resolved never
to dispute: A highwayman with a pistol at my breast, a troop of dragoons
who come to plunder my house, and a man of the law who can make a merit
of accusing me. In each of these cases, which are almost the same, the
best method is to keep out of the way, and the next best is to deliver
your money, surrender your house, and confess nothing.

I am told that the two points in my last letter, from which an occasion
of offence hath been taken, are where I mention His Majesty's answer to
the address of the House of Lords upon Mr. Wood's patent, and where I
discourse upon Ireland's being a dependent kingdom. As to the former, I
can only say, that I have treated it with the utmost respect and
caution, and I thought it necessary to shew where Wood's patent differed
in many essential parts from all others that ever had been granted,
because the contrary had for want of due information been so strongly
and so largely asserted. As to the other, of Ireland's dependency, I
confess to have often heard it mentioned, but was never able to
understand what it meant. This gave me the curiosity to enquire among
several eminent lawyers, who professed they knew nothing of the matter.
I then turned over all the statutes of both kingdoms without the least
information, further than an Irish act, that I quoted, of the 33d of
Henry 8th, uniting Ireland to England under one king. I cannot say I was
sorry to be disappointed in my search, because it is certain, I could be
contented to depend only upon God and my prince and the laws of my own
country, after the manner of other nations. But since my betters are of
a different opinion, and desire further dependencies, I shall readily
submit, not insisting on the exception I made of M.B. Drapier. For
indeed that hint was borrowed from an idle story I had heard in England,
which perhaps may be common and beaten, but because it insinuates
neither treason nor sedition, I will just barely relate it.

Some hundred years ago when the peers were so great that the commons
were looked upon as little better than their dependents, a bill was
brought in for making some new additions to the power and privileges of
the peerage. After it was read, one Mr. Drewe a member of the house,
stood up, and said, he very much approved the bill, and would give his
vote to have it pass; but however, for some reasons best known to
himself, he desired that a clause might be inserted for excepting the
family of the Drewes. The oddness of the proposition taught others to
reflect a little, and the bill was thrown out.

Whether I were mistaken, or went too far in examining the dependency
must be left to the impartial judgment of the world, as well as to the
courts of judicature, although indeed not in so effectual and decisive
a manner. But to affirm, as I hear some do, in order to countenance a
fearful and servile spirit, that this point did not belong to my
subject, is a false and foolish objection. There were several scandalous
reports industriously spread by Wood and his accomplices to discourage
all opposition against his infamous project. They gave it out that we
were prepared for a rebellion, that we disputed the King's prerogative,
and were shaking off our dependency. The first went so far, and obtained
so much belief against the most visible demonstrations to the contrary,
that a great person of this kingdom, now in England, sent over such an
account of it to his friends, as would make any good subject both grieve
and tremble. I thought it therefore necessary to treat that calumny as
it deserved. Then I proved by an invincible argument that we could have
no intention to dispute His Majesty's prerogative, because the
prerogative was not concerned in the question, the civilians and lawyers
of all nations agreeing that copper is not money. And lastly to clear us
from the imputation of shaking off our dependency, I shewed wherein as I
thought this dependency consisted, and cited the statute above mentioned
made in Ireland, by which it is enacted, that "whoever is King of
England shall be King of Ireland," and that the two kingdoms shall be
"for ever knit together under one King." This, as I conceived, did
wholly acquit us of intending to break our dependency, because it was
altogether out of our power, for surely no King of England will ever
consent to the repeal of that statute.

But upon this article I am charged with a heavier accusation. It is said
I went too far, when I declared, that "if ever the Pretender should come
to be fixed upon the throne of England (which God forbid) I would so far
venture to transgress this statute, that I would lose the last drop of
my blood before I would submit to him as King of Ireland."

This I hear on all sides, is the strongest and weightiest objection
against me, and which hath given the most offence; that I should be so
bold to declare against a direct statute, and that any motive how strong
soever, could make me reject a King whom England should receive. Now if
in defending myself from this accusation I should freely confess, that I
"went too far," that "the expression was very indiscreet, although
occasioned by my zeal for His present Majesty and his Protestant line in
the House of Hanover," that "I shall be careful never to offend again in
the like kind." And that "I hope this free acknowledgment and sorrow for
my error, will be some atonement and a little soften the hearts of my
powerful adversaries." I say if I should offer such a defence as this, I
do not doubt but some people would wrest it to an ill meaning by some
spiteful interpretation, and therefore since I cannot think of any other
answer, which that paragraph can admit, I will leave it to the mercy of
every candid reader.

I will now venture to tell your lordship a secret, wherein I fear you
are too deeply concerned You will therefore please to know that this
habit of writing and discoursing, wherein I unfortunately differ from
almost the whole kingdom, and am apt to grate the ears of more than I
could wish, was acquired during my apprenticeship in London, and a long
residence there after I had set up for myself. Upon my return and
settlement here, I thought I had only changed one country of freedom for
another. I had been long conversing with the writings of your
lordship,[12] Mr. Locke, Mr. Molineaux,[13] Colonel Sidney[14] and other
dangerous authors, who talk of "liberty as a blessing, to which the
whole race of mankind hath an original title, whereof nothing but
unlawful force can divest them." I knew a good deal of the several
Gothic institutions in Europe, and by what incidents and events they
came to be destroyed; and I ever thought it the most uncontrolled and
universally agreed maxim, that _freedom_ consists in a people being
governed by laws made with their own consent; and _slavery_ in the
contrary. I have been likewise told, and believe it to be true, that
_liberty_ and _property_ are words of known use and signification in
this kingdom, and that the very lawyers pretend to understand, and have
them often in their mouths. These were the errors which have misled me,
and to which alone I must impute the severe treatment I have received.
But I shall in time grow wiser, and learn to consider my driver, the
road I am in, and with whom I am yoked. This I will venture to say, that
the boldest and most obnoxious words I ever delivered, would in England
have only exposed me as a stupid fool, who went to prove that the sun
shone in a clear summer's day; and I have witnesses ready to depose that
your lordship hath said and writ fifty times worse, and what is still an
aggravation, with infinitely more wit and learning, and stronger
arguments, so that as politics run, I do not know a person of more
exceptionable principles than yourself; and if ever I shall be
discovered, I think you will be bound in honour to pay my fine and
support me in prison; or else I may chance to inform against you by way
of reprisal.[15]

[Footnote 12: See note _ante_, p. 161. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 13: William Molyneux (1656-1698), the correspondent of John
Flamsteed and Locke. His "Dioptrica Nova" contains a warm appreciation
of Locke's "Essay on the Human Understanding." He died in October, 1698,
but in the early part of this year, he published his famous inquiry into
the effect of English legislation on Irish manufactures. The work was
entitled, "The Case of Ireland's being bound by Acts of Parliament in
England stated," and its publication made a great stir both in England
and in Ireland. Molyneux attempted to show that the Irish Parliament was
independent of the English Parliament. His book was reported by a
Committee of the House of Commons, on June 22nd, 1698, to be "of
dangerous consequence to the Crown and Parliament of England," but the
matter went no further than embodying this resolution of the committee
in an address to the King. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 14: Algernon Sidney (1622-1682), the author of the well known
"Discourses concerning Government," and the famous republican of the
Cromwellian and Restoration years, was the second surviving son of the
second Earl of Leicester His career as soldier, statesman, agitator,
ambassador and author, forms an interesting and even fascinating chapter
of the story of this interesting period of English history. He was tried
for treason before Jeffreys, and in spite of a most excellent defence,
sentenced to death. His execution took place on December 7th, 1682. [T.

[Footnote 15: A writer, signing himself M.M., replying to this letter of
Swift's in a broadside entitled, "Seasonable Advice to M.B. Drapier,
Occasioned by his Letter to the R--t. Hon. the Lord Visct. Molesworth,"
actually takes this paragraph to mean that Swift intended seriously to
turn informer: "Now sir, some people are of opinion that you carried
this too far, inasmuch as you become a precedent to informers: others
think that you intimate to his lordship, the miserable circumstance you
are in by the menaces of the prentice to whom you dictate; they conceive
your declaring to inform, if not fee'd, to the contrary, signifies your
said prentice on the last occasion to swear, if you don't forthwith
deliver him his indentures, and half of your stock to set up trade with,
he will inform against you, bring you to justice, be dismissed by law,
and get the promised L300 to begin trade with; how near these
conceptions be to truth I can't tell; but I know people think that word
_inform_ unseasonable. . . ." [T.S.]]

In the meantime, I beg your lordship to receive my confession, that if
there be any such thing as a dependency of Ireland upon England,
otherwise than as I have explained it, either by the law of God, of
nature, of reason, of nations, or of the land (which I shall never
hereafter contest,) then was the proclamation against me, the most
merciful that ever was put out, and instead of accusing me as malicious,
wicked and seditious, it might have been directly as guilty of high

All I desire is, that the cause of my country against Mr. Wood may not
suffer by any inadvertency of mine; Whether Ireland depends upon
England, or only upon God, the King and the law, I hope no man will
assert that it depends upon Mr. Wood. I should be heartily sorry that
this commendable resentment against me should accidentally (and I hope,
what was never intended) strike a damp upon that spirit in all ranks and
corporations of men against the desperate and ruinous design of Mr.
Wood. Let my countrymen blot out those parts in my last letter which
they dislike, and let no rust remain on my sword to cure the wounds I
have given to our most mortal enemy. When Sir Charles Sidley[16] was
taking the oaths, where several things were to be renounced, he said "he
loved renouncing," asked "if any more were to be renounced, for he was
ready to renounce as much as they pleased." Although I am not so
thorough a renouncer; yet let me have but good city security against
this pestilent coinage, and I shall be ready not only to renounce every
syllable in all my four letters, but to deliver them cheerfully with my
own hands into those of the common hangman, to be burnt with no better
company than the coiner's _effigies,_ if any part of it hath escaped out
of the secular hands of the rabble.

[Footnote 16: This must be Sir Charles Sedley (properly Sidley), the
famous wit and dramatist of Charles II.'s reign. In his reprint of 1735,
Faulkner prints the name "Sidley," though the original twopenny tract
and the "Hibernian Patriot" print it as "Sidney." Sir W. Scott corrects
it to "Sedley." [T.S.]]

But whatever the sentiments of some people may be, I think it is agreed
that many of those who subscribed against me, are on the side of a vast
majority in the kingdom who opposed Mr. Wood; and it was with great
satisfaction that I observed some right honourable names very amicably
joined with my own at the bottom of a strong declaration against him and
his coin. But if the admission of it among us be already determined the
worthy person who is to betray me ought in prudence to do it with all
convenient speed, or else it may be difficult to find three hundred
pounds in sterling for the discharge of his hire; when the public shall
have lost five hundred thousand, if there be so much in the nation;
besides four-fifths of its annual income for ever.

I am told by lawyers, that in all quarrels between man and man, it is of
much weight, which of them gave the first provocation or struck the
first blow. It is manifest that Mr. Wood hath done both, and therefore I
should humbly propose to have him first hanged and his dross thrown into
the sea; after which the Drapier will be ready to stand his trial. "It
must needs be that offences come, but woe unto him by whom the offence
cometh." If Mr. Wood had held his hand every body else would have held
their tongues, and then there would have been little need of pamphlets,
juries, or proclamations upon this occasion. The provocation must needs
have been great, which could stir up an obscure indolent Drapier to
become an author. One would almost think the very stones in the street
would rise up in such a cause: And I am not sure they will not do so
against Mr. Wood if ever he comes within their reach. It is a known
story of the dumb boy, whose tongue forced a passage for speech by the
horror of seeing a dagger at his father's throat. This may lessen the
wonder that a tradesman hid in privacy and silence should cry out when
the life and being of his political mother are attempted before his
face, and by so infamous a hand.

But in the meantime, Mr. Wood the destroyer of a kingdom walks about in
triumph (unless it be true that he is in jail for debt) while he who
endeavoured to assert the liberty of his country is forced to hide his
head for occasionally dealing in a matter of controversy. However I am
not the first who hath been condemned to death for gaining a great
victory over a powerful enemy, by disobeying for once the strict orders
of military discipline.

I am now resolved to follow (after the usual proceeding of mankind,
because it is too late) the advice given me by a certain Dean. He shewed
the mistake I was in of trusting to the general good-will of the people,
"that I had succeeded hitherto better than could be expected, but that
some unfortunate circumstantial lapse would probably bring me within the
reach of power. That my good intentions would be no security against
those who watched every motion of my pen, in the bitterness of my soul."
He produced an instance of "a writer as innocent, as disinterested, and
as well meaning as myself, where the printer, who had the author in his
power, was prosecuted with the utmost zeal, the jury sent back nine
times, and the man given up to the mercy of the court."[17] The Dean
further observed "that I was in a manner left alone to stand the battle,
while others who had ten thousand times better talents than a Drapier,
were so prudent to lie still, and perhaps thought it no unpleasant
amusement to look on with safety, while another was giving them
diversion at the hazard of his liberty and fortune, and thought they
made a sufficient recompense by a little applause." Whereupon he
concluded with a short story of a Jew at Madrid, who being condemned to
the fire on account of his religion, a crowd of school-boys following
him to the stake, and apprehending they might lose their sport, if he
should happen to recant, would often clap him on the back, and cry,
"_Sta firme Moyse_ (Moses, continue steadfast)."

[Footnote 17: This was for the publication of "A Proposal for the
Universal Use of Irish Manufactures." [T.S.]]

I allow this gentleman's advice to have been good, and his observations
just, and in one respect my condition is worse than that of the Jew, for
no recantation will save me. However it should seem by some late
proceedings, that my state is not altogether deplorable. This I can
impute to nothing but the steadiness of two impartial grand juries,
which hath confirmed in me an opinion I have long entertained, that, as
philosophers say, "virtue is seated in the middle," so in another
sense, the little virtue left in the world is chiefly to be found among
the middle rank of mankind, who are neither allured out of her paths by
ambition, nor driven by poverty.

Since the proclamation occasioned by my last letter, and a due
preparation for proceeding against me in a court of justice, there have
been two printed papers clandestinely spread about, whereof no man is
able to trace the original further than by conjecture, which with its
usual charity lays them to my account. The former is entitled,
"Seasonable Advice,"[18] and appears to have been intended for
information of the grand jury, upon the supposition of a bill to be
prepared against that letter. The other[19] is an extract from a printed
book of Parliamentary Proceedings in the year 1680 containing an angry
resolution of the House of Commons in England against dissolving grand
juries. As to the former, your lordship will find it to be the work of a
more artful hand than that of a common Drapier. It hath been censured
for endeavouring to influence the minds of a jury, which ought to be
wholly free and unbiassed, and for that reason it is manifest that no
judge was ever known either upon or off the bench, either by himself or
his dependents, to use the least insinuation that might possibly affect
the passions or interests of any one single juryman, much less of a
whole jury; whereof every man must be convinced who will just give
himself the trouble to dip into the common printed trials; so as, it is
amazing to think, what a number of upright judges there have been in
both kingdoms for above sixty years past, which, considering how long
they held their offices during pleasure, as they still do among us, I
account next to a miracle.

[Footnote 18: See p. 123. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 19: See note on p. 127. [T.S.]]

As to the other paper I must confess it is a sharp censure of an English
House of Commons against dissolving grand juries by any judge before the
end of the term, assizes, or sessions, while matters are under their
consideration, and not presented; is arbitrary, illegal, destructive to
public justice, a manifest violation of his oath, and is a means to
subvert the fundamental laws of the kingdom.

However, the publisher seems to have been mistaken in what he aimed at.
For, whatever dependence there may be of Ireland upon England, I hope he
would not insinuate, that the proceedings of a lord chief justice in
Ireland must depend upon a resolution of an English House of Commons.
Besides, that resolution although it were levelled against a particular
lord chief justice, Sir William Scroggs,[20] yet the occasion was
directly contrary: For Scroggs dissolved the grand jury of London for
fear they should present, but ours in Dublin was dissolved because they
would not present, which wonderfully alters the case. And therefore a
second grand jury supplied that defect by making a presentment[21] that
hath pleased the whole kingdom. However I think it is agreed by all
parties, that both the one and the other jury behaved themselves in such
a manner, as ought to be remembered to their honour, while there shall
be any regard left among us for virtue or public spirit.

[Footnote 20: Sir William Scroggs (1623?-1683) was appointed Lord Chief
Justice of England on the removal of Sir Thomas Ramsford in 1678. One of
the eight articles of impeachment against Scroggs, in 1680, was for
illegally discharging the grand jury of Middlesex before the end of the
term. Although the articles of impeachment were carried to the House of
Lords in 1681, the proceedings went no farther than ordering him to find
bail and file his answer by a certain time. Scroggs was removed, on
account of his unpopularity, on April 11th, 1681. As a lawyer, Scroggs
has no great reputation; as a judge he must be classed with the
notorious Jeffreys. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 21: See Appendix No. V. [T.S.]]

I am confident your lordship will be of my sentiments in one thing, that
some short plain authentic tract might be published for the information
both of petty and grand juries, how far their power reacheth, and where
it is limited, and that a printed copy of such a treatise might be
deposited in every court, to be consulted by the jurymen before they
consider of their verdict; by which abundance of inconveniences would be
avoided, whereof innumerable instances might be produced from former
times, because I will say nothing of the present.

I have read somewhere of an eastern king who put a judge to death for an
iniquitous sentence, and ordered his hide to be stuffed into a cushion,
and placed upon the tribunal for the son to sit on, who was preferred to
his father's office. I fancy such a memorial might not have been
unuseful to a son of Sir William Scroggs, and that both he and his
successors would often wriggle in their seats as long as the cushion
lasted. I wish the relater had told us what number of such cushions
there might be in that country.

I cannot but observe to your lordship how nice and dangerous a point it
is grown for a private person to inform the people even in an affair
where the public interest and safety are so highly concerned as that of
Mr. Wood, and this in a country where loyalty is woven into the very
hearts of the people, seems a little extraordinary. Sir William Scroggs
was the first who introduced that commendable acuteness into the courts
of judicature; but how far this practice hath been imitated by his
successors or strained upon occasion, is out of my knowledge. When
pamphlets unpleasing to the ministry were presented as libels, he would
order the offensive paragraphs to be read before him, and said it was
strange that the judges and lawyers of the King's Bench should be duller
than all the people of England; and he was often so very happy in
applying the initial letters of names, and expounding dubious hints (the
two common expedients among writers of that class for escaping the law)
that he discovered much more than ever the authors intended, as many of
them or their printers found to their cost. If such methods are to be
followed in examining what I have already written or may write hereafter
upon the subject of Mr. Wood, I defy any man of fifty times my
understanding and caution to avoid being entrapped, unless he will be
content to write what none will read, by repeating over the old
arguments and computations, whereof the world is already grown weary. So
that my good friend Harding lies under this dilemma, either to let my
learned works hang for ever a drying upon his lines, or venture to
publish them at the hazard of being laid by the heels.

I need not tell your lordship where the difficulty lies. It is true, the
King and the laws permit us to refuse this coin of Mr. Wood, but at the
same time it is equally true, that the King and the laws permit us to
receive it. Now it is most certain the ministers in England do not
suppose the consequences of uttering that brass among us to be so
ruinous as we apprehend; because doubtless if they understood it in that
light, they are persons of too much honour and justice not to use their
credit with His Majesty for saving a most loyal kingdom from
destruction. But as long as it shall please those great persons to think
that coin will not be so very pernicious to us, we lie under the
disadvantage of being censured as obstinate in not complying with a
royal patent. Therefore nothing remains, but to make use of that liberty
which the King and the laws have left us, by continuing to refuse this
coin, and by frequent remembrances to keep up that spirit raised against
it, which otherwise may be apt to flag, and perhaps in time to sink
altogether. For, any public order against receiving or uttering Mr.
Wood's halfpence is not reasonably to be expected in this kingdom,
without directions from England, which I think nobody presumes, or is so
sanguine to hope.

But to confess the truth, my lord, I begin to grow weary of my office as
a writer, and could heartily wish it were devolved upon my brethren, the
makers of songs and ballads, who perhaps are the best qualified at
present to gather up the gleanings of this controversy. As to myself, it
hath been my misfortune to begin and pursue it upon a wrong foundation.
For having detected the frauds and falsehoods of this vile impostor Wood
in every part, I foolishly disdained to have recourse to whining,
lamenting, and crying for mercy, but rather chose to appeal to law and
liberty and the common rights of mankind, without considering the
climate I was in.

Since your last residence in Ireland, I frequently have taken my nag to
ride about your grounds, where I fancied myself to feel an air of
freedom breathing round me, and I am glad the low condition of a
tradesman did not qualify me to wait on you at your house, for then I am
afraid my writings would not have escaped severer censures. But I have
lately sold my nag, and honestly told his greatest fault, which was that
of snuffing up the air about Brackdenstown, whereby he became such a
lover of liberty, that I could scarce hold him in. I have likewise
buried at the bottom of a strong chest your lordship's writings under a
heap of others that treat of liberty, and spread over a layer or two of
Hobbes, Filmer, Bodin[22] and many more authors of that stamp, to be
readiest at hand whenever I shall be disposed to take up a new set of
principles in government. In the mean time I design quietly to look to
my shop, and keep as far out of your lordship's influence as possible;
and if you ever see any more of my writings upon this subject, I promise
you shall find them as innocent, as insipid and without a sting as what
I have now offered you. But if your lordship will please to give me an
easy lease of some part of your estate in Yorkshire,[23] thither will I
carry my chest and turning it upside down, resume my political reading
where I left it off; feed on plain homely fare, and live and die a free
honest English farmer: But not without regret for leaving my countrymen
under the dread of the brazen talons of Mr. Wood: My most loyal and
innocent countrymen, to whom I owe so much for their good opinion of me,
and of my poor endeavours to serve them,

I am
with the greatest respect,
My Lord
Your Lordship's most obedient
and most humble servant,

From my shop
in St. Francis-Street,
Dec. 14.

[Footnote 22: Sir Robert Filmer, the political writer who suffered for
his adhesion to the cause of Charles I. His chief work was published
after his death in 1680. It is entitled, "Patriarcha," and defends the
patriarchal theory of government against the social-compact theory of
Hobbes. Locke vigorously attacked it in his "Two Treatises on
Government" published in 1690.

Jean Bodin, who died in 1596, wrote the "Livres de la Republique," a
remarkable collection of information and speculation on the theoretical
basis of political government. [T.S.]]

[Footnote 23: Molesworth's estate in Yorkshire was at Edlington, near
Tickhill. [T.S.]]




"Multa gemens ignominiam Plagasque superbi Victoris.--"

[VIRGIL, _Georg. III._, 226-7.]


This letter was published in the fourth volume of the collected edition
of Swift's Works, issued by Faulkner, in Dublin, in 1735. It is there
stated that it was written "before the Lord Carteret came over, and soon
after the fourth Drapier's letter." If Faulkner be correct, and he
probably is, the subject matter of the letter shows that it was not to
be printed until after the agitation had subsided. The letter is in an
entirely different spirit from the other letters, and deals with
suggestions and methods of action for a general righting of the wrongs
under which Ireland was suffering. In matter as well as in manner it is
not a continuation of the contest against Wood, but an effort to send
the people along paths which would lead to their general welfare and
prosperity. As such it properly concludes the Drapier series.

The text of the letter here printed is that of Faulkner collated with
that given in the fifth volume of "Miscellanies," issued in London in.




I have been told, that petitions and addresses, either to King or
Parliament, are the right of every subject; providing they consist with
that respect, which is due to princes and great assemblies. Neither do I
remember, that the modest proposals, or opinions of private men, have
been ill-received, when they have not been delivered in the style of
advice; which is a presumption far from my thoughts. However, if
proposals should be looked upon as too assuming; yet I hope, every man
may be suffered to declare his own and the nation's wishes. For
instance; I may be allowed to wish, that some further laws were enacted
for the advancement of trade, for the improvement of agriculture, now
strangely neglected, against the maxim of all wise nations: For
supplying the manifest defects in the acts concerning plantation of
trees: For setting the poor to work, and many others.

Upon this principle, I may venture to affirm; it is the hearty wish of
the whole nation, very few excepted; that the Parliament in this session
would begin by strictly examining into the detestable fraud of one
William Wood, now or late of London, hardwareman; who illegally and
clandestinely, as appears by your own votes and addresses, procured a
patent in England, for coining halfpence in that kingdom, to be current
here. This, I say, is the wish of the whole nation, very few excepted;
and upon account of those few, is more strongly and justly the wish of
the rest: Those few consisting either of Wood's confederates, some
obscure tradesmen, or certain bold UNDERTAKERS[1] of weak judgment, and
strong ambition; who think to find their accounts in the ruin of the
nation, by securing or advancing themselves. And, because such men
proceed upon a system of politics, to which I would fain hope you will
be always utter strangers, I shall humbly lay it before you.

[Footnote 1: This was a phrase used in the time of Charles II. to
express those dashing ministers who obtained power by undertaking to
carry through particular favourite measures of the crown. But the Dean
applies it with his usual studied ambiguity, so that it may be explained
as meaning schemers or projectors in general. [S.]]

Be pleased to suppose me in a station of fifteen hundred pounds a year,
salary and perquisites; and likewise possessed of 800_l_. a year, real
estate. Then, suppose a destructive project to be set on foot; such, for
instance, as this of Wood; which if it succeed, in all the consequences
naturally to be expected from it, must sink the rents and wealth of the
kingdom one half, (although I am confident, it would have done so
five-sixths.) Suppose, I conceive that the countenancing, or privately
supporting this project, will please those by whom I expect to be
preserved, or higher exalted. Nothing then remains, but to compute and
balance my gain and my loss, and sum up the whole. I suppose that I
shall keep my employment ten years, (not to mention the fair chance of a
better.) This at 1500_l_. a year, amounts, in ten years, to 15,000_l_.
My estate, by the success of the said project, sinks 400_l_. a year;
which at twenty years' purchase, is but 8000_l_. so that I am a clean
gainer of 7000_l_. upon the balance. And during all that period, I am
possessed of power and credit, can gratify my favourites, and take
vengeance of mine enemies. And if the project miscarry, my private merit
is still entire. This arithmetic, as horrible as it appears, I knowingly
affirm to have been practised, and applied in conjunctures, whereon
depended the ruin or safety of a nation: Although, probably the charity
and virtue of a senate, will hardly be induced to believe, that there
can be such monsters among mankind. And yet, the wise Lord Bacon
mentions a sort of people, (I doubt the race is not yet extinct) who
would "set a house on fire, for the convenience of roasting their own
eggs at the flame."

But whoever is old enough to remember, and hath turned his thoughts to
observe the course of public affairs in this kingdom, from the time of
the Revolution; must acknowledge, that the highest points of interest
and liberty, have been often sacrificed to the avarice and ambition of
particular persons, upon the very principles and arithmetic that I have
supposed: The only wonder is, how these artists were able to prevail
upon numbers; and influence even public assemblies to become instruments
for effecting their execrable designs.

It is, I think, in all conscience, latitude enough for vice, if a man in
station be allowed to act injustice, upon the usual principles of
getting a bribe, wreaking his malice, serving his party, or consulting
his preferment; while his wickedness terminates in the ruin only of
particular persons: But, to deliver up our whole country, and every
living soul who inhabits it, to certain destruction; hath not, as I
remember, been permitted by the most favourable casuists on the side of
corruption. It were far better, that all who have had the misfortune to
be born in this kingdom, should be rendered incapable of holding any
employment whatsoever, above the degree of a constable, (according to
the scheme and intention of a great minister[2] _gone to his own
place_)than to live under the daily apprehension of a few false brethren
among ourselves. Because, in the former case we should be wholly free
from the danger of being betrayed; since none could then have impudence
enough to pretend any public good.

[Footnote 2: The Earl of Sunderland. See note on p. 377 of vol. _v._ of
present edition. [T.S.]]

It is true, that in this desperate affair of the new halfpence, I have
not heard of any man above my own degree of a shopkeeper, to have been
hitherto so bold, as, in direct terms, to vindicate the fatal project;
although I have been told of some very mollifying expressions which were
used, and very gentle expedients proposed and handed about, when it
first came under debate: But, since the eyes of the people have been so
far opened, that the most ignorant can plainly see their own ruin, in
the success of Wood's attempt; these grand compounders have been more

[Footnote 3: Alluding to Walpole's overture for reducing the amount to
be coined to L40,000. [T.S.]]

But that the same spirit still subsists, hath manifestly appeared (among
other instances of great compliance) from certain circumstances, that
have attended some late proceedings in a court of judicature. There is
not any commonplace more frequently insisted on, by those who treat of
our constitution, than the great happiness and excellency of trials by
juries; yet if this blessed part of our law be eludible at pleasure, by
the force of power, frowns, and artifice; we shall have little reason to
boast of our advantage, in this particular, over other states or
kingdoms in Europe. And surely, these high proceedings, exercised in a
point that so nearly concerned the life-blood of the people, their
necessary subsistence, their very food and raiment, and even the public
peace; will not allow any favourable appearance; because it was obvious,
that so much superabundant zeal could have no other design, or produce
any other effect, than to damp that spirit raised in the nation against
this accursed scheme of William Wood, and his abettors; to which spirit
alone, we owe, and for ever must owe, our being hitherto preserved, and
our hopes of being preserved for the future; if it can be kept up, and
strongly countenanced by your wise assemblies. I wish I could account
for such a demeanour upon a more charitable foundation, than that of
putting our interest in over balance with the ruin of our country.

I remember some months ago, when this affair was fresh in discourse; a
person near allied to SOMEBODY, or (as the hawkers called him) NOBODY,
who was thought deeply concerned, went about very diligently among his
acquaintance, to shew the bad consequences that might follow from any
public resentment to the disadvantage of his ally Mr. Wood; principally
alleging the danger of all employments being disposed of from England.
One of these emissaries came to me, and urged the same topic: I
answered, naturally, that I knew there was no office of any kind, which
a man from England might not have, if he thought it worth his asking;
and that I looked upon all who had the disadvantage of being born here,
as only in the condition of leasers and gleaners. Neither could I
forbear mentioning the known fable of the countryman, who entreated his
ass to fly for fear of being taken by the enemy; but the ass refused to
give himself that trouble; and upon a very wise reason, because he could
not possibly change his present master for a worse: The enemy could not
make him fare harder; beat him more cruelly; nor load him with heavier

Upon these, and many other considerations, I may affirm it to be the
wish of the whole nation, that the power and privileges of juries were
declared, ascertained, and confirmed by the legislature; and that
whoever hath been manifestly known to violate them, might be stigmatized
by public censure; not from any hope that such a censure will amend
their practices, or hurt their interest, (for it may probably operate
quite contrary in both:) but that the nation may know their enemies from
their friends.

I say not this with any regard or view to myself; for I write in great
security; and am resolved that none shall merit at my expense further
than by shewing their zeal to discover, prosecute, and condemn me, for
endeavouring to do my duty in serving my country: And yet I am conscious
to myself that I never had the least intention to reflect on His
Majesty's ministers, nor on any other person, except William Wood, whom
I neither did, nor do yet conceive to be of that number. However, some
would have it, that I went too far; but I suppose they will now allow
themselves mistaken. I am sure I might easily have gone further; and I
think I could not easily have fared worse. And therefore I was no
further affected with their proclamation, and subsequent proceedings,
than a good clergyman is with the sins of the people. And as to the poor
printer, he is now gone to appear before a higher, and before a
righteous tribunal.

As my intention is only to lay before your great assemblies, the general
wishes of the nation; and as I have already declared it our principal
wish that your first proceeding would be to examine into the pernicious
fraud of William Wood; so I must add, as the universal opinion, that all
schemes of commutation, composition, and the like expedients, either
avowed or implied, will be of the most pernicious consequences to the
public; against the dignity of a free kingdom; and prove an
encouragement to future adventurers in the same destructive projects.
For, it is a maxim, which no man at present disputes, that even a
connivance to admit one thousand pounds in these halfpence, will
produce, in time, the same ruinous effects, as if we openly consented to
admit a million. It were, therefore, infinitely more safe and eligible,
to leave things in the doubtful, melancholy state they are at present,
(which, however, God forbid) and trust entirely to the general aversion
of our people against this coin; using all honest endeavours to
preserve, continue, and increase that aversion, than submit to apply
those palliatives which weak, perfidious, or abject politicians, are,
upon all occasions, and in all diseases, so ready to administer.

In the small compass of my reading, (which, however, hath been more
extensive than is usual to men of my inferior calling) I have observed
that grievances have always preceded supplies; and if ever grievances
had a title to such a pre-eminence, it must be this of Wood; because it
is not only the greatest grievance that any country could suffer, but a
grievance of such a kind that, if it should take effect, would make it
impossible for us to give any supplies at all; except in adulterate
copper; unless a tax were laid for paying the civil and military lists,
and the large pensions, with real commodities instead of money; which,
however, might be liable to some few objections as well as difficulties:
For although the common soldiers might be content with beef and mutton,
and wool, and malt, and leather; yet I am in some doubt as to the
generals, the colonels, the numerous pensioners, the civil officers, and
others, who all live in England upon Irish pay; as well as those few who
reside among us only because they cannot help it.

There is one particular, which although I have mentioned more than once
in some of my former papers, yet I cannot forbear to repeat, and a
little enlarge upon it; because I do not remember to have read or heard
of the like in the history of any age or country; neither do I ever
reflect upon it without the utmost astonishment.

After the unanimous addresses to his Sacred Majesty, against this patent
of Wood, from both Houses of Parliament, which are the three estates of
the kingdom; and likewise an address from the Privy-council, to whom,
under the chief governors, the whole administration is entrusted; the
matter is referred to a committee of council in London. Wood, and his
adherents, are heard on one side; and a few volunteers, without any
trust or direction from hence, on the other. The question (as I
remember) chiefly turned upon the want of halfpence in Ireland:
Witnesses are called on the behalf of Wood (of what credit I have
formerly shewn :) Upon the issue the patent is found good and legal; all
His Majesty's officers here, (not excepting the military) commanded to
be aiding and assisting to make it effectual. The addresses of both
Houses of Parliament, of the Privy-council; and of the city of Dublin:
The declarations of most counties and corporations through the kingdom,
are altogether laid aside, as of no weight, consequence, or
consideration whatsoever: And the whole kingdom of Ireland nonsuited, in
default of appearance; as if it were a private cause between John Doe,
plaintiff, and William Roe, defendant.

With great respect to those-honourable persons, the committee of council
in London, I have not understood them to be our governors, councillors,
or judges. Neither did our case turn at all upon the question, whether
Ireland wanted halfpence or no. For there is no doubt, but we do want
both halfpence, gold, and silver; and we have numberless other wants,
and some that we are not so much as allowed to name; although they are
peculiar to this nation; to which no other is subject, whom God hath
blessed with religion and laws, or any degree of soil and sunshine: But,
for what demerits on our side, I am altogether in the dark.

But, I do not remember, that our want of halfpence was either affirmed,
or denied in any of our addresses or declarations, against those of
Wood: We alleged, the fraudulent obtaining and executing his patent, the
baseness of his metal, the prodigious sum to be coined, which might be
increased by stealth, from foreign importation and his own counterfeits,
as well as those at home; whereby we must infallibly lose all our little
gold and silver, and all our poor remainder of a very limited and
discouraged trade: We urged, that the patent was passed without the
least reference hither; and without mention of any security given by
Wood, to receive his own halfpence upon demand; both which are contrary
to all former proceedings in the like cases. These, and many other
arguments we offered; but still the patent went on, and at this day our
ruin would have been half completed; if God, in His mercy, had not
raised an universal detestation of these halfpence, in the whole
kingdom; with a firm resolution never to receive them; since we are not
under obligations to do so by any law, either human or divine.

But, in the Name of God, and of all justice and piety; when the King's
Majesty was pleased that this patent should pass; is it not to be
understood, that he conceived, believed, and intended it as a gracious
act, for the good and benefit of his subjects, for the advantage of a
great and fruitful kingdom; of the most loyal kingdom upon earth, where
no hand or voice was ever lifted up against him; a kingdom where the
passage is not of three hours from Britain; and a kingdom where Papists
have less power, and less land, than in England? Can it be denied, or
doubted, that His Majesty's ministers understood and proposed the same
end, the good of this nation, when they advised the passing this patent?
Can the person of Wood be otherwise regarded, than as the instrument,
the mechanic, the head-workman, to prepare his furnace, his fuel, his
metal, and his stamps? If I employ a shoe-boy, is it in view to his
advantage, or to my own convenience? I mention the person of William
Wood alone, because no other appears, and we are not to reason upon
surmises; neither would it avail, if they had a real foundation.

Allowing therefore, (for we cannot do less) that this patent, for the
coining of halfpence, was wholly intended, by a gracious king, and a
wise public-spirited ministry, for the advantage of Ireland; yet when
the whole kingdom to a man, for whose good the patent was designed, do,
upon maturest consideration, universally join, in openly declaring,
protesting, addressing, petitioning, against these halfpence, as the
most ruinous project that ever was set on foot, to complete the slavery
and destruction of a poor innocent country: Is it, was it, can it, or
will it ever be a question, not whether such a kingdom, or William Wood,
should be a gainer; but whether such a kingdom should be wholly undone,
destroyed, sunk, depopulated, made a scene of misery and desolation, for
the sake of William Wood? God, of His infinite mercy, avert this
dreadful judgment; and it is our universal wish, that God would put it
into your hearts to be His instruments for so good a work.

For my own part, who am but one man, of obscure condition, I do solemnly
declare, in the presence of Almighty God, that I will suffer the most
ignominious and torturing death, rather than submit to receive this
accursed coin, or any other that shall be liable to the same objections,
until they shall be forced upon me, by a law of my own country; and if
that shall ever happen, I will transport myself into some foreign land,
and eat the bread of poverty among a free people.

Am I legally punishable for these expressions? Shall another
proclamation issue against me, because I presume to take my country's
part against William Wood; where her final destruction is intended? But,
whenever you shall please to impose silence upon me, I will submit;
because, I look upon your unanimous voice to be the voice of the nation;
and this I have been taught, and do believe to be, in some manner, the
voice of God.

The great ignominy of a whole kingdom, lying so long at mercy, under so
vile an adversary, is such a deplorable aggravation, that the utmost
expressions of shame and rage, are too low to set it forth; and
therefore, I shall leave it to receive such a resentment, as is worthy
of a parliament.

It is likewise our universal wish, that His Majesty would grant liberty
to coin halfpence in this kingdom, for our own use; under such
restrictions as a parliament here shall advise: Since the power of
coining even gold and silver, is possessed by every petty prince abroad;
and was always practised by Scotland, to the very time of the Union; yet
surely Scotland, as to soil, climate, and extent, is not, in itself, a
fourth part the value of Ireland; (for Bishop Burnet says, it is not
above a fortieth part in value, to the rest of Britain) and with respect
to the profit that England gains from hence, not the forty thousandth
part. Although I must confess, that a mote in the eye, or a thorn in the
side, is more dangerous and painful than a beam, or a spike at a

The histories of England, and of most other countries, abound in
relating the miserable, and sometimes the most tragical effects, from
the abuses of coin; by debasing the metal, by lessening, or enhancing
the value upon occasions, to the public loss; of which we have an
example, within our own memory in England, and another very lately in
France. It is the tenderest point of government, affecting every
individual, in the highest degree. When the value of money is arbitrary,
or unsettled; no man can well be said to have any property at all; nor
is any wound so suddenly felt, so hardly cured, or that leaves such deep
and lasting scars behind it.

I conceive this poor unhappy island, to have a title to some indulgence
from England; not only upon the score of Christianity, natural equity,
and the general rights of mankind; but chiefly on account of that
immense profit they receive from us; without which, that kingdom would
make a very different figure in Europe, from what it doth at present.

The rents of land in Ireland, since they have been of late so enormously
raised, and screwed up, may be computed to about two millions; whereof
one-third part, at least, is directly transmitted to those, who are
perpetual absentees in England; as I find by a computation made with the
assistance of several skilful gentlemen.

The other articles by which we are altogether losers, and England a
gainer; we found to amount to almost as much more. I will only set down
as many heads of them as I can remember; and leave them to the
consideration of those, who understand accounts better than I pretend to

The occasional absentees, for business, health, or diversion.

Three-fourths of the revenue of the chief governor, during his absence;
which is usually four-fifths of his government.

The whole revenue of the post-office.

The numerous pensions paid to persons in England.

The pay of the chief officers of the army absent in England, which is a
great sum.

Four commissioners of the revenue, always absent.

Civil employments very numerous, and of great income.

The vast charge of appeals to the House of Lords, and to the Court of

Students at the Inns of Court, and the two Universities.

Eighty thousand pounds sent yearly to England, for coals; whereof the
prime cost is nothing; and therefore, the profit wholly theirs.

One hundred thousand pounds paid several years past, for corn sent over
hither from England; the effect of our own great wisdom in discouraging

The kind liberty granted us of wearing Indian stuffs, and calicoes, to
gratify the vanity and folly of our women; which, beside the profit to
England, is an unconceivable loss to us; forcing the weavers to beg in
our streets, or transport themselves to foreign countries.

The prodigious loss to us, and gain to England, by selling them all our
wool at their own rates; whereof the manufacture exceeds above ten times
the prime cost: A proceeding without example in the Christian or heathen

Our own wool returned upon us, in English manufactures, to our infinite
shame and damage; and the great advantage of England.

The full profit of all our mines accruing to England; an effect of great
negligence and stupidity.

An affectation among us, of liking all kinds of goods made in England.

NOTE, Many of the above articles have been since particularly computed
by another writer, to whose treatise the reader is referred.[4]

[Footnote 4: The work referred to is "A List of the Absentees of
Ireland, and the yearly value of their estates and Incomes spent
abroad," by Thomas Prior, Esq. Prior was a native of Ireland and the
schoolfellow and life-long friend of Berkeley, the philosopher. In
concert with Samuel Madden and other friends, he founded, in 1731, the
Dublin Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, Manufactures, Arts and
Sciences. This society was the parent of the present Royal Dublin
Society. His "List of the Absentees of Ireland" was published in 1729.
He also issued "Observations on Coin" (1730), and "An Authentic
Narrative of the Success of Tar Water in Curing a great number and
variety of Distempers" (1746), to which Berkeley contributed. [T.S.]]

These and many other articles, which I cannot recollect at present, are
agreed by judicious men to amount to near seven hundred thousand pounds
_per ann_. clear profit to England. And, upon the whole, let any man
look into those authors who write upon the subject of commerce, he shall
find, that there is not one single article in the essentials, or
circumstances of trade, whereby a country can be a loser, which we do
not possess in the highest perfection; somewhat, in every particular,
that bears a kind of analogy to William Wood; and now the branches are
all cut off, he stands ready with his axe at the root.

Upon this subject of perpetual absentees, I have spent some time in very
insignificant reflections; and considering the usual motives of human
actions, which are pleasure, profit, and ambition, I cannot yet
comprehend how those persons find their account in any of the three. I
speak not of those English peers or gentlemen, who, beside their estates
at home, have possessions here; for, in that case, the matter is
desperate; but I mean those lords, and wealthy knights, or squires,
whose birth, and partly their education, and all their fortune (except
some trifle, and that in very few instances) are in this kingdom. I knew
many of them well enough, during several years, when I resided in
England; and truly I could not discover that the figure they made was,
by any means, a subject for envy; at least it gave me two very different
passions: For, excepting the advantage of going now and then to an
opera, or sometimes appearing behind a crowd at Court; or adding to the
ring of coaches in Hyde Park, or losing their money at the Chocolate
House; or getting news, votes, and minutes, about five days before us in
Dublin, I say, besides these, and a few other privileges of less
importance, their temptations to live in London, were beyond my
knowledge or conception. And I used to wonder, how a man of birth and
spirit, could endure to be wholly insignificant and obscure in a foreign
country, when he might live with lustre in his own; and even at less
than half that expense, which he strains himself to make, without
obtaining any one end; except that which happened to the frog when he
would needs contend for size with the ox. I have been told by scholars,
that Caesar said, he would rather be the first man, in I know not what
village, than the second in Rome. This, perhaps, was a thought only fit
for Caesar: But to be preceded by thousands, and neglected by millions;
to be wholly without power, figure, influence, honour, credit, or
distinction, is not, in my poor opinion, a very amiable situation of
life, to a person of title, or wealth, who can so cheaply and easily
shine in his native country.

But, besides the depopulating of the kingdom, the leaving so many parts
of it wild and uncultivated, the ruin of so many country-seats and
plantations, the cutting down all the woods to supply expenses in
England; the absence of so many noble and wealthy persons, hath been the
cause of another fatal consequence, which few perhaps have been aware
of. For if that very considerable number of lords, who possess the
amplest fortunes here, had been content to live at home, and attend the
affairs of their own country in Parliament; the weight, reputation, and
dignity thereby added to that noble House, would, in all human
probability, have prevented certain proceedings, which are now ever to
be lamented; because they never can be remedied: And we might have then
decided our own properties among ourselves, without being forced to
travel five hundred miles by sea and land, to another kingdom, for
justice; to our infinite expense, vexation, and trouble: Which is a mark
of servitude without example, from the practice of any age or nation in
the world.

I have sometimes wondered, upon what motive the peerage of England were
so desirous to determine our controversies; because I have been assured,
and partly know, that the frequent appeals from hence, have been very
irksome to that illustrious body; and whoever hath frequented the
Painted Chamber, and Court of Requests, must have observed, that they
are never so nobly filled, as when an Irish appeal is under debate.

The peers of Scotland, who are very numerous, were content to reside in
their castles and houses, in that bleak and barren climate; and although
some of them made frequent journeys to London, yet I do not remember any
of their greatest families, till very lately, to have made England their
constant habitation, before the Union: Or, if they did, I am sure it was
generally to their own advantage; and whatever they got, was employed to
cultivate and increase their own estates; and by that means enrich
themselves and their country.

As to the great number of rich absentees, under the degree of peers;
what particular ill effects their absence may have upon this kingdom,
besides those already mentioned, may perhaps be too tender a point for
me to touch. But whether those who live in another kingdom, upon great
estates here; and have lost all regards to their own country, further
than upon account of the revenues they receive from it: I say, whether
such persons may not be prevailed on to recommend others to vacant
seats, who have no interest here, except a precarious employment; and
consequently can have no views, but to preserve what they have got, or
to be higher advanced: This, I am sure, is a very melancholy question,
if it be a question at all.

But, besides the prodigious profit which England receives by the
transmittal thither of two-thirds of the revenues of this whole kingdom;
it hath another mighty advantage by making our country a receptacle,
wherein to disburthen themselves of their supernumerary pretenders to
offices; persons of second-rate merit in their own country; who, like
birds of passage, most of them thrive and fatten here, and fly off when
their credit and employments are at an end. So that Ireland may justly
say what Luther said of himself; POOR Ireland maketh many rich.

If amidst all our difficulties, I should venture to assert, that we have
one great advantage, provided we could improve it as we ought; I believe
most of my readers would be long in conjecturing what possible advantage
could ever fall to our share. However, it is certain, that all the
regular seeds of party and faction among us are entirely rooted out, and
if any new ones shall spring up, they must be of equivocal generation,
without any seed at all; and will justly be imputed to a degree of
stupidity beyond even what we have been ever charged with upon the score
of our birth-place and climate.

The parties in this kingdom (including those of modern date) are, First,
of those who have been charged or suspected to favour the Pretender; and
those who were zealous opposers of him. Secondly, of those who were for
and against a toleration of Dissenters by law. Thirdly, of High and Low
Church; or, (to speak in the cant of the times) of Whig and Tory: And,
Fourthly, of court and country. If there be any more, they are beyond my
observation or politics: For as to subaltern or occasional parties, they
have all been derivations from the same originals.

Now, it is manifest, that all these incitements to faction, party, and
division are wholly removed from among us. For, as to the Pretender, his
cause is both desperate and obsolete: There are very few now alive who
were _men_ in his father's time, and in that prince's interest; and in
all others, the obligation of conscience hath no place;[5] even the
Papists in general, of any substance, or estates, and their priests
almost universally, are what we call Whigs in the sense which by that
word is generally understood. They feel the smart, and see the scars of
their former wounds; and very well know, that they must be made a
sacrifice to the least attempts towards a change; although it cannot be
doubted, that they would be glad to have their superstition restored,
under any prince whatsoever.

[Footnote 5: That is to say, they had not sworn any allegiance to him.

Secondly, The Dissenters are now tolerated by law; neither do we observe
any murmurs at present from that quarter, except those reasonable
complaints they make of persecution, because they are excluded from
civil employments; but their number being very small in either House of
Parliament, they are not yet in a situation to erect a party: Because,
however indifferent men may be with regard to religion, they are now
grown wise enough to know, that if such a latitude were allowed to
Dissenters; the few small employments left us in cities and
corporations, would find other hands to lay hold on them.

Thirdly, The dispute between High and Low Church is now at an end;
two-thirds of the bishops having been promoted in this reign, and most
of them from England, who have bestowed all preferments in their gift to
those they could well confide in: The deaneries all except three, and
many principal church-livings, are in the donation of the crown: So that
we already possess such a body of clergy as will never engage in
controversy upon that antiquated and exploded subject.

Lastly, As to court and country parties, so famous and avowed under most
reigns in English Parliaments: This kingdom hath not, for several years
past been a proper scene whereon to exercise such contentions; and is
now less proper than ever; many great employments for life being in
distant hands, and the reversions diligently watched and secured; the
temporary ones of any inviting value are all bestowed elsewhere as fast
as they drop; and the few remaining, are of too low consideration to
create contests about them, except among younger brothers, or tradesmen
like myself. And, therefore, to institute a court and country party
without materials, would be a very new system in politics, and what I
believe was never thought on before; nor, unless in a nation of idiots,
can ever succeed. For the most ignorant Irish cottager will not sell his
cow for a groat.

Therefore, I conclude, that all party and faction, with regard to public
proceedings, are now extinguished in this kingdom; neither doth it
appear in view how they can possibly revive; unless some new causes be
administered; which cannot be done without crossing the interests of
those who are greatest gainers by continuing the same measures. And,
general calamities without hope of redress, are allowed to be the great
uniters of mankind.

However we may dislike the causes; yet this effect of begetting an
universal concord among us in all national debates, as well as in
cities, corporations, and country neighbourhoods, may keep us at least
alive, and in a condition to eat the little bread allowed us in peace
and amity. I have heard of a quarrel in a tavern, where all were at
daggers-drawing, till one of the company cried out, desiring to know the
subject of the quarrel; which, when none of them could tell, they put up
their swords, sat down, and passed the rest of the evening in quiet. The
former part hath been our case; I hope the latter will be so too; that
we shall sit down amicably together, at least until we have something
that may give us a title to fall out; since nature hath instructed even
a brood of goslings to stick together while the kite is hovering over
their heads.

It is certain, that a firm union in any country, where every man wishes
the same thing with relation to the public, may, in several points of
the greatest importance, in some measure, supply the defect of power;
and even of those rights which are the natural and undoubted inheritance
of mankind. If the universal wish of the nation upon any point, were
declared by the unanimous vote of the House of Commons, and a reasonable
number of Lords; I should think myself obliged in conscience to act in
my sphere according to that vote; because, in all free nations, I take
the proper definition of law to be the will of the majority of those who
have the property in land; which, if there be a monarchy, is to be
confirmed by the royal assent. And, although such votes or declarations
have not received such a confirmation, for certain accidental reasons;
yet I think they ought to be of much weight with the subject; provided
they neither oppose the King's prerogative, endanger the peace of the
nation, nor infringe any law already in force; none of which, however,
can reasonably be supposed. Thus, for instance, if nine in ten of the
House of Commons, and a reasonable number of native temporal peers,
should declare, that whoever received or uttered brass coin, except
under certain limitations and securities, should be deemed as enemies to
the King and the nation; I should think it a heinous sin in myself to
act contrary to such a vote: And, if the same power should declare the
same censure against those who wore Indian stuffs and calicoes, or
woollen manufactures imported from abroad, whereby this nation is
reduced to the lowest ebb of misery; I should readily, heartily, and
cheerfully pay obedience; and to my utmost power persuade others to do
the like: Because, there is no law of this land obliging us either to
receive such coin, or to wear such foreign manufactures.

Upon this last article, I could humbly wish that the reverend the clergy
would set us an example, by contenting themselves with wearing gowns,
and other habiliments of Irish drapery; which, as it would be some
incitement to the laity, and set many hands to work; so they would find
their advantage in the cheapness; which is a circumstance not to be
neglected by too many among that venerable body.[6] And, in order to
this, I could heartily desire, that the most ingenious artists of the
weaving trade, would contrive some decent stuffs and silks for
clergymen, at reasonable rates.[7]

[Footnote 6: This hath since been put in practice, by the persuasions,
and influence of the supposed author; but much defeated by the most
infamous fraud of shop-keepers. [F.]]

[Footnote 7: This scheme was likewise often urged to the weavers by the
supposed author; but he could never prevail upon them to put it in
practice. [F.]]

I have pressed several of our most substantial brethren, that the whole
corporation of weavers in silk and woollen, would publish some
proposals, (I wish they would do it to both Houses of Parliament)
inviting persons of all degrees, and of both sexes, to wear the woollen
and silk manufactures of our own country; entering into solemn, mutual
engagements, that the buyer shall have good, substantial, merchantable
ware for his money; and at a certain rate, without the trouble of
cheapening: So that, if I sent a child for a piece of stuff of a
particular colour and fineness, I should be sure not to be deceived; or
if I had reason to complain, the corporation should give me immediate
satisfaction; and the name of the tradesman who did me the wrong, should
be published; and warning given not to deal with him for the future;
unless the matter plainly appeared to be a mistake: For, besides the
trouble of going from shop to shop; an ignorant customer runs the hazard
of being cheated in the price and goodness of what he buys; being forced
to an unequal combat with a dexterous, and dishonest man, in his own
calling. Thus our goods fall under a general disreputation; and the
gentry call for English cloth, or silk, from an opinion they have (and
often too justly by our own faults) that the goodness more than makes up
for the difference of price.

Besides, it hath been the sottish and ruinous practice of us tradesmen,
upon any great demand of goods, either at home or from abroad, to raise
the prices immediately, and manufacture the said goods more slightly and
fraudulently than before.

Of this foul and foolish proceeding, too many instances might be
produced; and I cannot forbear mentioning one, whereby this poor kingdom
hath received such a fatal blow in the only article of trade allowed us
of any importance that nothing but the success of Wood's project, could
outdo it. During the late plague in France, the Spaniards, who buy their
linen cloths in that kingdom, not daring to venture thither for fear of
infection; a very great demand was made here for that commodity, and
exported to Spain: But, whether by the ignorance of the merchants, or
dishonesty of the Northern weavers, or the collusion of both; the ware
was so bad, and the price so excessive, that except some small
quantity, which was sold below the prime cost, the greatest part was
returned back: And I have been told by very intelligent persons, that if
we had been fair dealers, the whole current of the linen trade to Spain
would have taken its course from hence.

If any punishment were to be inflicted on numbers of men; surely there
could none be thought too great for such a race of traitors, and enemies
to God and their country; who for the prospect of a little present gain,
do not only ruin themselves, (for that alone would be an example to the
rest, and a blessing to the nation) but sell their souls to hell, and
their country to destruction; And, if the plague could have been
confined only to these who were partakers in the guilt, had it travelled
hither from Marseilles, those wretches would have died with less title
to pity, than a highwayman going to the gallows.

But, it happens very unluckily, that, for some time past, all endeavours
or proposals from private persons, to advance the public service;
however honestly and innocently designed, have been called _flying in
the King's face:_ And this, to my knowledge, hath been the style of some
persons, whose ancestors, (I mean those among them who had any) and
themselves, have been flying in princes' faces these fourscore years;
and from their own inclinations would do so still, if their interest did
not lead them rather to fly in the face of a kingdom; which hath given
them wings to enable them for such a flight.

Thus, about four years ago, when a discourse was published, endeavouring
to persuade our people to wear their own woollen manufactures,[8] full
of the most dutiful expressions to the King, and without the least party
hint; it was termed "flying in the King's face;" the printer was
prosecuted in the manner we all remember; (and, I hope, it will
somewhere be remembered further) the jury kept eleven hours, and sent
back nine times, till they were under the necessity of leaving the
prisoner to the mercy of the court, by a special verdict. The judge on
the bench invoking God for his witness, when he asserted, that the
author's design was to bring in the Pretender.[9]

[Footnote 8: This was Swift's pamphlet entitled, "A Proposal for the
Universal Use of Irish Manufactures." [T.S.]]

[Footnote 9: The action and language of Justice Whitshed. [T.S.]]

And thus also, my own poor endeavours to prevent the ruin of my country,
by the admission of Wood's coin, was called by the same persons, "flying
in the King's face;" which I directly deny: For I cannot allow that
vile representation of the royal countenance in William Wood's
adulterate copper, to be his Sacred Majesty's face; or if it were, my
flying was not against the impression, but the baseness of the metal;
because I well remembered; that the image which Nebuchadnezzar
"commanded to be set up, for all men to fall down and worship it," was
not of _copper_, but pure _gold_. And I am heartily sorry, we have so
few royal images of that metal among us; the sight whereof, although it
could hardly increase our veneration for His Majesty, which is already
so great; yet would very much enliven it with a mixture of comfort and

Alexander the Great, would suffer no statuary, except Phidias, to carve
his image in stone or metal. How must he have treated such an operator
as Wood, who goes about with sackfuls of dross; odiously misrepresenting
his Prince's countenance; and would force them, by thousands, upon every
one of us, at above six times the value.

But, notwithstanding all that hath been objected by William Wood
himself; together with his favourers, abettors, supporters, either
public or private; by those who connive at his project, or discourage
and discountenance his opposers, for fear of lessening their favour, or
hazarding their employments; by those who endeavour to damp the spirit
of the people raised against this coin; or check the honest zeal of such
as by their writings, or discourses, do all they can to keep it up:
Those softeners, sweeteners, compounders; and expedient-mongers, who
shake their heads so strongly, that we can hear their pockets jingle; I
did never imagine, that, in detecting the practices of such enemies to
the kingdom, I was "flying in the King's face"; or thought they were
better representers of His Majesty, than that very coin, for which they
are secret or open advocates.

If I were allowed to recite only those wishes of the nation, which may
be in our power to attain; I think they might be summed up in these few

First, That an end might be put to our apprehensions of Wood's
halfpence, and to any danger of the like destructive scheme for the

Secondly; That halfpence might be coined in this kingdom, by a public
mint, with due limitations.

Thirdly, That the sense of both Houses of Parliament, at least of the
House of Commons, were declared by some unanimous and hearty votes,
against wearing any silk or woollen manufactures, imported from abroad,
as likewise against wearing Indian silks or calicoes, which are
forbidden under the highest penalties in England: And it behoves us, to
take example from so wise a nation; because we are under a greater
necessity to do so, since we are not allowed to export any woollen
manufactures of our own; which is the principal branch of foreign trade
in England.

Fourthly, That some effectual methods may be taken to civilize the
poorer sort of our natives, in all those parts of this kingdom where the
Irish abound; by introducing among them our language and customs; for
want of which they live in the utmost ignorance, barbarity and poverty;
giving themselves wholly up to idleness, nastiness, and thievery, to the
very great and just reproach of too many landlords. And, if I had in me
the least spirit of a projector, I would engage that this might be
effected in a few years, at a very inconsiderable charge.[10]

[Footnote 10: Since this hint was suggested, several useful seminaries
have been instituted, under the name of "Charter Working Schools," in
Ireland, supported by the royal benefaction of a thousand pounds a year,
by a tax on hawkers and pedlars, and by voluntary subscriptions. The
schools are for the education of boys and girls born of Popish parents;
in most of them, the children manufacture their own clothing, and the
boys are employed in matters relative to husbandry. [F.]

These Charter Schools, founded by Marsh, Bishop of Clogher, and adopted
by Primate Boulter in 1733, were intended "to rescue the souls of
thousands of poor children from the dangers of Popish superstition and
idolatry, and their bodies from the miseries of idleness and beggary."
In reality the scheme was one by which it was hoped to prevent the
growth of Catholicism. The conditions and methods of instruction were
positively cruel, since the children were actually withheld from any
communication with their parents. Mr. Lecky deals with the subject fully
in the first volume of his "Ireland in the Eighteenth Century," Froude
gives the scheme his praise and admiration, but at the time of its
institution it was the cause of "an intensity of bitterness hardly
equalled by any portion of the penal code. Parents would rather do
anything than send their children into such prisons where, at last, they
would receive an education which, to their minds, must lead them to
forfeit their soul's salvation." [T.S.]]

Fifthly, That due encouragement should be given to agriculture; and a
stop put to that pernicious practice of graziers; engrossing vast
quantities of land, sometimes at great distance; whereby the country is
extremely depopulated.

Sixthly, That the defects in those acts for planting forest trees, might
be fully supplied, since they have hitherto been wholly ineffectual;
except about the demesnes of a few gentlemen; and even there, in
general, very unskilfully made, and thriving accordingly. Neither hath
there yet been due care taken to preserve what is planted, or to enclose
grounds; not one hedge, in a hundred, coming to maturity, for want of
skill and industry. The neglect of copsing woods cut down, hath likewise
been of very ill consequences. And if men were restrained from that
unlimited liberty of cutting down their own woods before the proper
time, as they are in some other countries; it would be a mighty benefit
to the kingdom. For, I believe, there is not another example in Europe,
of such a prodigious quantity of excellent timber cut down, in so short
a time, with so little advantage to the country, either in shipping or

I may add, that absurd practice of cutting turf, without any regularity;
whereby great quantities of restorable land are made utterly desperate,
many thousands of cattle destroyed, the turf more difficult to come at,
and carry home, and less fit for burning; the air made unwholesome by
stagnating pools and marshes; and the very sight of such places
offensive to those who ride by. Neither should that odious custom be
allowed, of cutting scraws, (as they call them) which is flaying off the
green surface of the ground, to cover their cabins; or make up their
ditches; sometimes in shallow soils, where all is gravel within a few
inches; and sometimes in low ground, with a thin greensward, and sloughy
underneath; which last turns all into bog, by this mismanagement. And,
I have heard from very skilful country-men, that by these two practices
in turf and scraws, the kingdom loseth some hundreds of acres of
profitable land every year; besides the irreparable loss of many skirts
of bogs, which have a green coat of grass, and yet are mangled for turf;
and, besides the want of canals, by regular cutting, which would not
only be a great convenience for bringing their turf home at an easy
rate; but likewise render even the larger bogs more dry and safe, for
summer pasture.

These, and some other speculations of the like kind, I had intended to
publish in a particular discourse against this session of Parliament;
because, in some periods of my life, I had opportunity and curiosity to
observe, from what causes those great errors, in every branch of country
management, have arisen; of which I have now ventured to relate but few,
out of very many; whereof some, perhaps, would not be mentioned without
giving offence; which I have endeavoured, by all possible means, to
avoid. And, for the same reason, I chose to add here, the little I
thought proper to say on this subject.

But, as to the lands of those who are perpetual absentees, I do not see
any probability of their being ever improved. In former times, their
tenants sat at easy rents; but for some years past, they have been,
generally speaking, more terribly racked by the dexterity of merciless
agents from England, than even those held under the severest landlords
here. I was assured upon the place, by great numbers of credible people,
that a prodigious estate in the county of Cork, being let upon leases
for lives, and great fines paid; the rent was so high, that the tenants
begged leave to surrender their leases, and were content to lose their

The cultivating and improvement of land, is certainly a subject worthy
of the highest enquiry in any country, but especially in ours; where we
are so strangely limited in every branch of trade, that can be of
advantage to us; and utterly deprived of those, which are of the
greatest importance; whereof I defy the most learned man in Europe, to
produce me an example from any other kingdom in the world: For, we are
denied the benefits which God and nature intended to us; as manifestly
appears by our happy situation for commerce, and the great number of
our excellent ports. So that, I think, little is left us, beside the
cultivating our own soil, encouraging agriculture, and making great
plantations of trees, that we might not be under the necessity of
sending for corn and bark from England, and timber from other countries.
This would increase the number of our inhabitants, and help to consume
our natural products, as well as manufactures at home. And I shall never
forget what I once ventured to say to a great man in England; "That few
politicians, with all their schemes, are half so useful members of a
commonwealth, as an honest farmer; who, by skilfully draining, fencing,
manuring, and planting, hath increased the intrinsic value of a piece of
land; and thereby done a perpetual service to his country;" which it is
a great controversy, whether any of the former ever did, since the
creation of the world; but no controversy at all, that ninety-nine in a
hundred, have done abundance of mischief.




"To the King's most Excellent MAJESTY: _The humble_ ADDRESS _of the_
Knights, Citizens _and_ Burgesses, _in Parliament assembled._


It is with the utmost Concern, that We, Your Majesty's most dutiful
subjects, the Commons of IRELAND in Parliament assembled, find ourselves
indispensably obliged, to represent to Your Majesty, our unanimous
Opinion: That the importing and uttering of _Copper Farthings_ and
_Halfpence_ by virtue of the Patent lately granted to _William Wood,_
Esq.; under the Great Seal of _Great Britain,_ will be highly
prejudicial to Your Majesty's Revenue, destructive of the trade and
commerce of this nation, and of the most dangerous consequence to the
properties of the subject.

[Footnote 1: Addresses by the House of Commons and the House of Lords
presented to the King in conformity with the resolutions passed by these
Houses. See Introductory Note to the Drapier's First Letter. The texts
of these addresses are taken from "Fraud Detected: or, the Hibernian
Patriot," printed by George Faulkner in 1725. [T.S.]]

"We are fully convinced, from the tender regard Your Majesty has always
expressed for our welfare and prosperity, that this Patent could not
have been obtained, had not _William Wood_ and his accomplices, greatly
misrepresented the state of this nation to Your Majesty, it having
appeared to us, by Examinations taken in the most solemn manner, that
though the terms thereof had been strictly complied with, there would
have been a loss to this nation of at least 150 _per Cent._ by means of
the said coinage, and a much greater in the manner the said _Half-pence_
have been coined.

"We likewise beg leave to inform Your Majesty, That the said _William
Wood_ has been guilty of a most notorious fraud and deceit in coining
the said _Half-pence,_ having, under colour of the powers granted unto
him, imported and endeavoured to utter great quantities of different
impressions, and of much less weight than was required by the said

"Your faithful _Commons_ have found, by experience, That the granting
the power or privilege of coining _Money_, or _Tokens_ to pass for
_Money_ to private persons, has been highly detrimental to your loyal
subjects; and being apprehensive, that the vesting such power in any
body politic or corporate, or any private person or persons whatsoever,
will be always of dangerous Consequence to this Kingdom, are encouraged,
by the repeated assurances Your Majesty hath given us of Your Royal
Favour and Protection, humbly to entreat Your Majesty, That whenever you
shall hereafter think it necessary to coin any _Farthings_ or
_Half-pence,_ the same may be made as near the intrinsic value as
possible, and that whatever profit shall accrue thereby, may be applied
to the public service.

"And we do further humbly beseech Your Majesty, That you will be
graciously pleased to give such direction, as you, in your great wisdom,
shall think proper, to prevent the fatal effects of uttering any
_Farthings_ or _Half-pence_ pursuant to the said Patent.

"As this enquiry has proceeded entirely from our love to our country, so
we cannot omit this opportunity of repeating our unanimous resolution,
to stand by and support Your Majesty to the utmost of our power, against
all Your enemies, both at home and abroad; and of assuring Your Majesty,
that we will, upon every occasion, give Your Majesty, and the world, all
possible demonstration of our zeal and inviolable duty and affection to
Your Majesty's most sacred person and government, and to the succession,
as established in Your Royal House."

"To the King's most Excellent MAJESTY. _The humble Address of the Lords
Spiritual and Temporal of_ IRELAND, _in Parliament assembled, against_
Wm. Wood.

"May it please Your most Sacred Majesty, WE the Lords Spiritual and
Temporal in Parliament assembled, are under the utmost concern to find,
that our duty to Your Majesty and our Country, indispensably calls upon
us to acquaint Your Majesty with the ill consequences, which will
inevitably follow from a Patent for coining Half-pence and Farthings to
be uttered in this Kingdom, obtained under the Great Seal of _Great
Britain,_ by one _William Wood_ in a clandestine and unprecedented
manner, and by a gross misrepresentation of the state of this Kingdom.

"We are most humbly of opinion, that the diminution of Your Majesty's
revenue, the ruin of our trade, and the impoverishing of your people,
must unavoidably attend this undertaking; and we beg leave to observe to
Your Majesty, that from the most exact Enquiries and Computations we
have been able to make, it appears to us, that the gain to _William
Wood_ will be excessive, and the loss to this Kingdom, by circulating
this base coin, greater than this poor country is able to bear.

"With the greatest submission and deference to Your Majesty's wisdom, we
beg we may offer it as our humble opinion. That the reserving the
coining of _Half-pence_ and _Farthings_ to the _Crown_ and _the not
intrusting it_ with any private person, body politic or corporate, will
always be for Your Majesty's service, and the good of your people in
_this Kingdom._

"In confidence, Sir, of your paternal care of the welfare of _this_
country, we beseech Your Majesty, that you will be pleased to extend
that goodness and compassion to us, which has so eminently shewed itself
to all your other subjects, who have the happiness to live under your
protection and government; and that you will give such directions as may
effectually free us from the terrible apprehensions we labour under from
the _Patent_ granted to _William Wood."_

The following was the King's reply to the above address:


"His _Majesty is very much concerned to see, That His granting the
Patent for coining_ Half-pence _and_ Farthings _agreeable to the
Practice of his Royal Predecessors, has given so much uneasiness to the_
House of Lords: _And if there have been any abuses committed by the_
Patentee, _His Majesty will give the necessary Orders for enquiring
into, and punishing those Abuses. And will do everything that is in His
Power, for the Satisfaction of His People."_



"_To the right honourable the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty's

"May it please your Lordships_,

According to your Lordships' Order, the pix of the copper-money coined
at Bristol by Mr. Wood for Ireland, has been opened and tried before us
at his Majesty's Mint in the Tower; and by the Comptroller's account, to
which Mr. Wood agreed, there hath been coined from Lady-day 1723 to
March 28, 1724, in half-pence, fifty and five tons, five hundred and
three quarters, and twelve ounces, and in farthings, three tons,
seventeen hundred and two quarters, ten pounds, and eight ounces,
_avoirdupois_, the whole coinage amounting to 59 tons, 3 cwt, 1 qr.
11 lbs. 4 ozs., and by the specimens of this coinage which have, from
time to time, been taken from the several parcels coined and sealed up
in papers, and put into the pix, we found that sixty half-pence weighed
fourteen ounces, _Troy_, and eight pennyweight, which is about a quarter
of an ounce above one pound _avoirdupois_; and that thirty farthings
weighed three ounces, and three quarters of an ounce _Troy_, and
forty-six grains, which is also above the weight required by his Patent.
We found also that both half-pence and farthings when heated red hot,
spread thin under the hammer without cracking, as your Lordships may see
by the pieces now laid before your Lordships. But although the copper
was very good, and the money, one piece with another, was full weight,
yet the single pieces were not so equally coined in the weight as they
should have been.

[Footnote 1: The copy of this Report as here printed is taken from the
tract already quoted in previous notes, entitled, "A Defence of the
Conduct of the People of Ireland in their unanimous Refusal of Mr.
Wood's Copper-money ... Dublin: Printed for George Ewing, at the Angel
and Bible in Dames-Street, MDCCXXIV." As already noted, the assayists
had for trial only those coins which were coined between March, 1723,
and March, 1724, and these coins were neither imported into Ireland nor
attempted to be uttered there. As Wood asked for the assay, he no doubt
knew what he was about. But even as it stands, the Report was not very
favourable to him. The author of the tract named above enters minutely
into this point, and for a further inquiry the reader is referred to
pages 15 to 19 of his publication. [T.S.]]

"We found also that thirty and two old half-pence coined for Ireland in
the reigns of King Charles 2d., King James 2d., and King William 3d. and
Queen Mary, and produced by Mr. Wood, weighed six ounces and eight
pennyweight _Troy_, that is, one hundred and three grains and a half
apiece one with another. They were much worn, and if about six or seven
grains be allowed to each of them one with another for loss of their
weight by wearing, the copper-money coined for England, in the reign of
King William being already as much lightened by wearing, they might at
first weigh about half a pound _avoirdupois_; whereas only thirty of
those coined by Mr. Wood are to be of that. They were also made of bad
copper, two of those coined in the reign of King Charles II. wasted much
in the fire, and then spread thin under the hammer, but not so well
without cracking as those of Mr. Wood. Two of those coined in the reign
of King James II. wasted much more in the fire, and were not malleable
when red hot. Two of those coined in the reign of King William and Queen
Mary wasted still more in the fire, and turned to an unmalleable
substance like a cinder, as your Lordships may see the pieces now laid
before you.

"By the assays we reckon the copper of Mr. Wood's halfpence and
farthings to be of the same goodness and value with the copper of which
the copper money is coined in the King's Mint for England; or worth in
the market about twelve or thirteen pence per pound weight
_avoirdupois_; and the copper of which the half-pence were coined for
Ireland in the reigns of King Charles, King James, and King William, to
be much inferior in value, the mixture being unknown, and not bearing
the fire for converting it to any other use until it be refined.

"The half-pence and farthings in the pix coined by Mr. Wood had on one
side the head of the King, with this inscription GEORGIUS DEI GRATIA
REX: And on the other side, a woman sitting with a harp by her left
side, and above her the inscription HIBERNIA with the date. The
half-pence coined in the reigns of King Charles, King James, and King
William, had on one side the head of King Charles, King James, or King
William and Queen Mary, and on the reverse a harp crowned.

"All which facts we most humbly represent to your Lordships. April 27,



[Greek: "A ghar proseidon nukthi taeoe phasmata
Disson oneiron, tauta moi----
Ehi men pephaenen esthlha, dus telesphora,
Eid echthra, tois echthroisin empalin methes
Kai mae me plete te paront ei tines
Doloisi beleueoin ekbalein, ephaes."]

Soph, Elec. [644-649].

Since the heat of this business, which has of late so much and so justly
concerned this kingdom, is at last, in a great measure over, we may
venture to abate something of our former zeal and vigour in handling it,
and looking upon it as an enemy almost overthrown, consult more our own
amusement than its prejudice, in attacking it in light excursory
skirmishes. Thus much I thought fit to observe, lest the world should be
too apt to make an obvious pun upon me; when beginning to dream upon
this occasion, I presented it with the wild nocturnal rovings of an
unguided imagination, on a subject of so great importance, as the final
welfare or ruin of a whole nation.

[Footnote 1: The following tract, written probably by Thomas Sheridan,
Swift's humorous friend, is interesting as affording an example of the
lighter kind of literature brought into existence by this agitation. It
may be that Swift had a hand in its composition. The text is taken from
a copy of the original broadside in the South Kensington Collection. It
was published during the height of the controversy. [T.S.]]

But so it was, that upon reading one of the Drapier's letters, I fell
asleep, and had the following dream:

The first object that struck me was a woman of exquisite beauty, and a
most majestic air, seated on a throne, whom by the figure of a lion
beneath her feet, and of Neptune who stood by her, and paid her the most
respectful homage, I easily knew to be the Genius of England; at some
distance from her, (though not at so great an one as seemed to be
desired,) I observed a matron clothed in robes so tattered and torn,
that they had not only very nigh lost their original air of royalty and
magnificence, but even exposed her to the inclemency of the weather in
several places, which with many other afflictions had so affected her,
that her natural beauty was almost effaced, and her strength and spirits
very nigh lost. She hung over a harp with which, if she sometimes
endeavoured to sooth her melancholy, she had still the misfortune to
find it more or less out of tune, particularly, when as I perceived at
last, it was strung with a sort of wire of so base composition, that
neither she nor I could make anything of it. I took particular notice,
that, when moved by a just sense of her wrongs, she could at any time
raise her head, she fixed her eyes so stedfastly on her neighbour,
sometimes with an humble and entreating, at others, with a more bold and
resentful regard, that I could not help (however improbable it should
seem from her generous august appearance) in a great measure to
attribute her misfortunes to her; but this I shall submit to the
judgment of the world.

I should now at last mention the name, were not these circumstances too
unhappily singular to make that any way necessary.

As I was taken up with many melancholy reflections on this moving
object, I was on a sudden interrupted by a little sort of an uproar,
which, upon turning my eyes towards it, I found arose from a crowd of
people behind her throne; the cause it seems was this:

There was, I perceived, among them the god of merchandise, with his
sandals, mostly of brass, but not without a small proportion of gold and
silver, and his wings chiefly of the two latter metals, but allayed with
a little of the former; with those he used to trudge up and down to
furnish them with necessaries; with these he'd take a flight to other
countries, but not so dexterously or to so good purpose as in other
places of his office, not so much for want of encouragement among 'em
here, as on account of the haughty jealousy of their neighbours, who, it
seems dreading in them a rival, took care to clip his wings and
circumscribe his flights; the former, more especially, being, by these
and other means so much worn, he performed his office but lamely, which
gave occasion to some who had their own private interest more at heart,
than that of the public, to patch up some of the places that were worn,
with a metal of the same nature indeed, but so slight and base, that
though at first it might serve to carry him on their errands, it soon
failed, and by degrees grew entirely useless; insomuch, that he would
rather be retarded than promoted in his business, and this occasioned
the above disturbances among his dependents, who thereupon turned their
eyes towards their mistress (for by this time she will I presume be
better known by that, than the more homely and sociable name of
neighbour) and not daring of late to say or do anything without her
approbation, made several humble applications to her, beseeching that
she would continue them that liberty of refitting these implements
themselves, which she had been formerly pleased graciously to allow 'em;
but these, however reasonable, were all rejected, whereupon I observed a
certain person (a mean ill-looking fellow) from among a great number of
people that stood behind the genius of England, who, during the whole
affair had kept his eyes intently fixed on his neighbours, watching all
their motions, like a hawk hovering over his quarry, and with just the
same design: Him, I say, I observed to turn off hastily, and make
towards the throne, where being arrived, after some preparations
requisite, he preferred a petition, setting forth the wants and
necessities, (but taking care to make 'em appear at least four times
greater than they really were) of his neighbours, or as he might have
more truly and honestly said his own, both which, for the latter, though
not expressed, he chiefly intended, but modestly or rather knavishly
left to be understood, he begged the royal licence to redress, by
supplying those defects which were the occasion of 'em. This humble
suppliant I observed both before and after this petition, seemed to
employ his utmost industry and art, to insinuate himself into the good
graces of two persons that stood on each side the throne;[2]the one on
the right was a lady of large make and swarthy complexion; the other, a
man, that seemed to be between fifty and sixty, who had an air of deep
designing thought: These two he managed with a great deal of art; for
the lady he employed all the little arts that win her sex, particularly,
I observed, that he frequently took hold of her hand, as in raptures, to
kiss it, in such a manner as made me suspect she did not always draw it
back empty; but this he did so slily, that it was not easy for anybody
to be certain of it: The man on the other hand, he plied his own way
with politics, remonstrating to him the several things he had before the
throne; which however, as might be presumed from his manner of attending
to them, seemed to make little impression; but when he came to lay
before him the great advantages that might accrue from thence to their
mistress, and consequently to him, he heard him with the utmost
eagerness and satisfaction; at last, having plainly told him, that he
himself should be a considerable gainer by it, and thereupon, that every
thing that came to his hands of that nature should be at his service: As
a sort of token or earnest he kissed his hand in the same manner he had
the lady's, and so retired; by these and the like means he soon brought
over both parties to him, who, with a whisper or two, procured him the
royal licence; whereupon he immediately fell to making up a metal, if it
deserved the name, of a very strange composition, wherewith he purposed
to refit the implements of that useful deity, but in such manner, that
for the base metal he put into them, he would take care to draw away
from them an infinitely more than proportionable quantity of gold and
silver, and thereby render him almost incapable of taking flight to
foreign countries; nay, at last perhaps utterly so, when under pretence
of their not being completed, he should filch in more of his metal, and
filch away more of theirs.

[Footnote 2: The Duchess of Kendal and Sir Robert Walpole. [S.]]

These things being therefore prepared, he sends 'em over to his
neighbours, and there endeavoured to get them admitted by fair words and
promises, being too sensible that they were not of themselves the most
willing to accept of his favour, and indeed he was not deceived; for
they being advertised of his designs, had taken the alarm, and had
almost to a man united in one common faction against him. This generous
ardour had first taken hold of the most active and important part, and
if I may be allowed to call it, the heart of this body, from thence was
on one side by a quick passage, and in its more refined parts,
communicated through the blood to the contemplative, and reasoning, the
head, which it inspired with noble thoughts and resolutions; and on the
other, to the inferior extremities, which were thereby rendered more
expedite and readier to obey the dictates of the head in a rougher
method of opposition, from each of which extremities being carried back
to its fountain, it was returned to them from thence, and so backwards
and forwards, till the circulation and union were confirmed and
completed, the sordid unnatural, offensive parts being in the meantime
thrown off as dregs of nature, and nuisances of human society; but of
these in so well-tempered a constitution, there were but few; however,
when there were any to be found, though they had been of the most
exalted nature, and bore most noble offices in this body, by any
corruption became so, they shared the common fate, with this only
difference, that they were rejected with greater scorn and contempt on
account of their former dignity, as was found in one notorious instance;
but on the other hand, among all the parts that were serviceable to the
constitution on this occasion, there was not one more so, than a certain
one whose name indeed is not openly known, but whose good offices and
usefulness are too great ever to be forgotten; for it by its nice
diligence and skill selected out things of the most noble and exquisite
nature, by infusing and dispersing them to enliven and invigorate the
whole body, which how effectually they did, our bold projector sadly
experienced. For finding all his endeavours to pass his ware upon them,
disappointed, he withdrew; but his patron on the other side being
informed of what had passed, fell into a most terrible passion, and
threatened, they say, I know not what, of making to swallow and ramming
down throats; but while they were in deep conference together, methought
all on a sudden a trap-door dropped, and down fell our projector; this
unexpected accident did on many accounts not a little alarm the throne,
and gave it but too great occasion to reflect a little on what had been
doing, as what a mean ordinary fellow it had intrusted with the care of
an affair of so great consequence that though their neighbours' refusal
might possibly have put him to such straits as might be the great
occasion of this disgrace, yet that very refusal could not be so
universal and resolute without some reason, which could arise from
nothing else but the unseasonableness or unworthiness of his offers, or
both, and he, consequently, must deserve as much to suffer as they did;
not for the better information, therefore in these surmises some of the
neighbours were consulted, who confirming them, things seemed to bear a
good face, and be in a very fair way of clearing up. When I awoke, I
cannot say whether more pleased at the present posture of affairs, when
I recollected how indifferent an one they had lately been in, or anxious
when upon considering that they were not yet firm and settled, I was led
to reflect in general on the uncertainty of events, and in particular,
on the small reason the persons in hand can have to promise themselves
prosperous ones, especially when they are depending in that part of the

Dublin, printed in the year 1724-5.



Ceteri, quanto quis servitio promptior, opibus et honoribus extollerentur:
Invalido legum auxilio, quae vi, ambitu, postremo pecunia
turbabantur.--_Tacit. An._


I fear your lordship in your wonted zeal for the interest of your
country will think this paper very unseasonable; but I am very confident
not more than one man in this kingdom will be of your lordship's

[Footnote 1: The two following severe letters are directly addressed to
Lord Chief Justice Whitshed, and were generally circulated. They
probably underwent Swift's correction, though they have too much of a
legal cast to have been written by the Dean himself.... They were,
perhaps, composed by Mr. Robert Lindsay, distinguished by Swift in his
letter to Lord Midleton, as an eminent lawyer, as well as a man of
virtue and learning, whose legal advice he used during the whole
controversy. [S.]

The present letters are taken from copies of the original broadsides in
the South Kensington collection. [T.S.]]

In matters of law your opinion has from our first acquaintance entirely
guided me, and the things you have assured me I might depend upon as
law, have few of them escaped my memory, though I have had but little
conversation with you since you first appeared in Parliament and moved
the House to resolve, That it is the indispensable duty of the judges of
this kingdom to go through their circuits; nor have I had any since you
fell sick and was made solicitor-general.

I have often heard your lordship affirm, and therefore I do affirm it,
That the great ends for which grand juries were instituted, were the
support of the government, the safety of every man's life and fortune,
it being necessary some should be trusted to inquire after all
disturbers of the peace, that they might be prosecuted and brought to
condign punishment; and it is no less needful for every man's quiet and
safety, that the trust of such inquisitions should be put into the hands
of persons of understanding and integrity, that will suffer no man to be
falsely accused or defamed; nor the lives of any to be put in jeopardy,
by the malicious conspiracies of great or small, or the perjuries of any
profligate wretches.

So material a part of our constitution are grand juries, so much does
the security of every subject depend upon them, that though anciently
the sheriff was by express law, chosen annually by the people of the
county, and trusted with the power of the county, yet the law left not
the election of grand juries to the will of the sheriff, but has
described their qualifications, which if they have, and the sheriff
return them, no man, nay no judge, can object to their being sworn, much
less may they to their serving when sworn: And to prevent the
discretionary power (a new-fashioned term) of these judges over juries,
you used to say was made the statute of the 11th of Hen. 4.

Pardon me my lord if I venture to affirm, That a dissolving power is a
breach of that law, or at least an evasion, as every citizen in Dublin
in Sir Constantine Phipps's time perfectly understood, that disapproving
the aldermen lawfully returned to the Privy-council was in effect
assuming the power of choosing and returning----But your lordship and
I know dissolving and disapproving are different terms.

I always understood from your Lordship the trust and power of grand
juries is or ought to be accounted amongst the greatest and of most
concern, next to the legislative: The honour, reputations, fortunes and
lives of every man being subject to their censure; the kings of England
have an undoubted power of dissolving parliaments, but dissolving 'till
one was returned to their or their ministers' liking, has never been
thought very righteous, and Heaven be praised never very successful.

I am entirely of your lordship's opinion, the oath of a grand juryman is
not always sufficiently considered by the jurors, which is as follows.

"You shall diligently enquire, and true presentment make of all such
articles, matters and things as shall be given you in charge; And of all
other matters and things as shall come to your own knowledge, touching
this present service. The King's counsel your fellows' and your own you
shall keep secret," &c.--And from some other men's behaviour, I fear
oaths are not always as sacredly observed as they ought to be: "The
King's counsel, your fellows' and your _own_ you shall keep
secret"--Though our grandmothers my lord might have thought there was a
dispensing power in the Pope, you and I profess no power upon earth can
dispense with this oath, so that to force a man to discover the counsel
he is sworn to keep, is to force him into direct perjury.

Suppose upon information taken before your Lordship of a rape committed,
a bill of indictment were sent to a grand jury, and the grand jury
return _ignoramus_ on it, application is made to the Court to
recommend it to them to reconsider it, and they return as before
_ignoramus_--Suppose a judge with more than decent passion should ask
them their reasons (which is their counsel) for so doing, nay should be
so particular as to demand of them whether they thought the woman a
whore. Must not all the world conclude somebody had forgot the oath of a
grand juryman? Yes sure, or his own, or worse.--But suppose they should
ask a juror a question might criminate himself? My Lord, you know I put
not bare possibilities, it is generally believed these things have been
done within an oak of this town--And if I am rightly informed, the
restraint a juror is under by his oath, is so well understood, that a
certain person desired the clerk of the Crown to change the form of it
by adding this exception: "unless by leave or order of the Court."

These things, my Lord, would seem strange in Westminster-hall, and would
be severely noted in St. Stephen's Chapel. The honour of the Crown would
be thought a very false as well as weak plea for such proceedings there,
as indeed it is an infamous one everywhere, for 'tis a scandal upon a


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