Dean Swift and Tho. Prior, Esq;
Isles of St. Patrick's Church, Dublin,
On that memorable Day, October 9th, 1753.
By a Friend to the Peace and Prosperity of IRELAND.
Quae Gratia Curram Armorumque fuit vivis, quae Cura nitentes Pascere Equos, eadem sequitur Tellure repostos.
VIRG. AEN. VI.
Printed for G. and A. EWING, at the Angel and Bible in Dame-Street, 1753.
Transcribers Note. Inconsistent spelling has been retained as in the original text.
Page 7. Line 19. for Phrases read Praises.
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P. 75. L. the last, for 'tis employ'd in, r. that accompany it.
P. 85. L. 10. after Virtue add, or Learning.
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Dean Swift and Tho. Prior, Esq;
In the Isles of St. Patrick's Church, Dublin, Oct. 9, 1753.
PRIOR. Mr. Dean, I am sorry to see you up, if any of your private Affairs disturb you. I came to call at your Grave, and have a little Discourse with you; but unless 'tis the Publick has rouz'd you, I am troubled to find you walking as well as my self.
SWIFT. 'Tis my Country keeps me walking! why who can lie still? I don't believe there are many Ghosts now, that have any share of Understanding, or any regard for Ireland, that are to be found in their Graves at Midnight. For my part I can no more keep in my Den than if it were the Day of Judgment. I have been earth'd now eight Years last October, and I think on my Conscience (and you know Tom the Conscience of one dead Man is worth ten of those that are living) I have had very few good Days Sleep since I got there. Ah Tom! poor Ireland! poor Ireland! it plagued my Heart while I was trifling away Life there; but my Curse on it, I never thought it would have broke my Rest thus when I was dead. I have tumbled and toss'd from one Side to the other (and by the by, they make these cursed Coffins so narrow 'tis a Plague to be in them) first one Thing would come into my Head, and then another, and often wrought me so, that I have many a time been forced to walk a whole Moon to rest me and get the better Nap when I lay down. Prithee how have you done?
PRIOR. Why, very little better; only as I have not been so long shut up in my Dormitory as you, the Confinement is less irksome. But I was not affected the same way with you, for I sometimes slept for Months together like a Dormouse; but when Ireland once gets into my Head and its present melancholy Circumstances, it works my Thoughts upwards and downwards from the Great Ones to their Slaves, like a poor Patient with Ward's Drop and Pill.
SWIFT. That has often been my Case Tom. When I get into that Train of thinking, and consider the present Situation of our Country, it makes me as uneasy in my Coffin as a Rat shut up in a Trap. I remember an old She Fool, that was fonder of scribling than reigning, used to say, that the Dead have that melancholy Advantage over the Living of first forgetting them; but 'tis as false as ten thousand other Truths, that your Philosophers and Politicians above Ground keep such a babling with over our Heads. For my part I never had that Pleasure, for since my first Nap under my Gravestone, which did not last three Weeks, I have been as much perplex'd about Ireland, as if I was still living at the Deanry, writing for Posterity, and thinking for my poor Country. What makes you sigh so Tom? Why you draw your Breath as hard as a broken-winded Racer; some Qualm I suppose about this neglected Island.
 Queen Christina of Sweden.
PRIOR. That was the Case indeed. But tho' I am chiefly grieved at the ill Circumstances of I——d, my next trouble is, that the World seems resolved they shall never mend; and, I think so, by their treating all true Patriots in the most unhandsome Manner. This is as mad a Measure, as imprisoning the Physicians in an epidemical Sickness would be. Yet such Men, who only could heal our Distempers, are treated almost as common Poisoners, and watch'd as if they were Incendiaries and the Enemies of Society. It was too much our own Case when we were among Men, and tho' I scorn to lament the indifferent Treatment Dean Swift and Tom Prior received from those who should have respected and honoured them; yet I cannot help being concerned for the hard Usage all true Patriots generally meet with in I——d. Their Writings, tho' ever so disinterested are treated as so many mercenary Productions of the Press; their Zeal and their Motives are ever suspected, as false and personated, and most Governments look on such Authors at best, as so many out-lying Deer, and give all the World leave to hunt them and run them down. I am sure, as to my Particular, I may justly say, I found it so; for, as I well knew, that writing with a Design to please or serve others, ends, generally, either in Neglect or Censure; so, I would not have engaged in such a dangerous Undertaking, if I could have quieted my Heart, that was ever tempting me to despise the Danger for the Hopes of doing good by my Pen.
SWIFT. I wish Tom the Tribe of Authors had ever writ from such a Turn of Mind, and then I fancy the World had not been so much over-run with Books.
PRIOR. I can answer for my self that I had only the Service of my Fellow Citizens in view. Let those whose miserable Aim is writing well, be ashamed if they are criticiz'd, or ridiculed, but he who sincerely strives to serve Millions, must have a Scorn for Malice or Satyr, if he thinks he can feed or cloath half a Nation by scribling. I profess I writ whatever I publish'd, barely for the Joy I had in doing some Service to my Country, and with so little a view to Reputation, that I would have done it, if there had been no such thing as Fame in the World; and surely, there is almost as little of that phantastick Pleasure to be had here as in the Isle of Man, or the Orcades. Nay, Dean, I'll go further, I would have done it for the gratifying the pleasing Instinct that lead me to it, if there had not been a great Lord and Parent of Good to approve and reward it. Hence it was that I troubled the World with a deal of Tracts on publick Subjects; and, I thank Heaven, my Heart is as little asham'd of it, now I am dead, as I was proud of it when I was living, which is what few Authors can say when they are coffin'd. I saw writing absolutely necessary to the well-being of the most neglected Nation under Heaven. I heard, I saw, I felt the Displeasure of some great Men for several Things I wrote, which crost their Views, or even disagreed with their Opinions or Desires. I saw few either willing to appear Medlers or Busy-Bodies this Way; or visibly to hurt their worldly Interests, or to seem fond of either Ridicule or Reputation by bustling about it; and, as I was quite indifferent to those Fears, I hop'd what I did, and the Motives I went on, might be pardonable if not approveable; and whatever was the Event, I as sincerely despised any Abuse I met with, as I did any Credit, that a few solitary thinking Men might allow me for it.
SWIFT. Why, really Tom, as there is no lying in this World, that we are now launch'd into, I must own there is a great deal of Truth in all you have said; and tho' I often writ for the Sake of Applause, yet writing with such a View is a poor Motive, and the best and noblest, and I had almost said, the only justifiable one, is to do Good in an evil World. I don't see any Thing very desireable in the greatest Talents, or in the largest Affluence of Fortune, unless they are in some Measure employed in the Publick Service, and if they be, it truly dignifies them; nay, that single View is enough to sanctify the poorest Scribling, and to make the meanest scraping and saving of Avarice, pass for the Marks of a worthy Spirit. But tho' Patriots are generally so ill used, by the ungrateful World; you certainly came much better off than I did, for where you met with one Reviler, I met with one hundred. The Pamphlets wrote against me, wou'd have form'd a Library, or rather a Dormitory, where they might have slept in undisturb'd Repose; instead of furnishing Grocers and Pastry Cooks for Years together, to make some expiation for beggaring Printers and Booksellers. I have had Thousands written against me, with Virulence and Scandal.
PRIOR. And what a wounding Grief must that be, to your generous Mind, to have so much Malice returned, where so much Gratitude was due; surely it gave you infinite Pain to be so lash'd and stigmatised, by a Rabble, of the most invenom'd and imbitter'd Scriblers upon Earth?
SWIFT. Why, dear Tom, I cou'd laugh a Month at you for this. Why, they made no more Impression on my Spirit, with their scurrilous Pamphlets, than they wou'd have done, on my Statue, had they thrown them at it. I ever consider'd, that Abuse from such Scriblers, who write for a Livelihood, can no more be thought an Affront, than a Barber's taking you by the Nose; 'tis his Trade, and the Wretch would starve if you stopt him. What harm did all their Ribaldry do me? I neither eat, nor drunk, nor slept the worse for it. I don't suppose, that the scape Goat, which the Jews loaded with Curses, and drove into the Wilderness, either died by their Maledictions, or grew a whit the leaner for them; nor was I ever the worse for all I met with. Why Tom, one had as good be a sensitive Plant, as to start and fly back, at every Touch, or every Appearance of being Touch'd, as some weak Men do.
PRIOR. We may Reason thus, but Nature generally over masters our Opinions.
SWIFT. Yes, when they are of opposite Sides, but in this point they must agree. Consider, what a wretched Thing would Merit be, whose chief support is a justly deserved good Character, if it depended for its real Fame, on the Writings (if we must call them Writings) of envious Scriblers, or the Tongues, of Slanderers, who wou'd both of them fain get a Scrap of Reputation, by vilifying exalted Names. No, Tom, there is something in true Merit, so independent of Applause and Censure, and so superior to the going out, or coming into Vogue, that it frequently takes the Injuries of such Reptiles as a kind of Homage; like the Abuses offered by the common Soldiers, to Conquerors when they Ride in Triumph, and which they valued as little as the senseless Phrases and Shouts of the multitude. 'Tis time enough for true Merit and Goodness to expect Justice from Men; when it receives the Euge of the Omnipotent; for then only will Malice be out of Countenance, Envy silent, and then only will Truth (the Language of Eternity) prevail!
PRIOR. Well, very well, Mr. Dean. But I am much mistaken, if you was not heartily Sick of your Patriotism, when you was so often branded and asperst by such Crowds of Pamphlets and Scriblers.
SWIFT. Dr. Tom, they never gave me a moment's Pain, for the Truth is, I was too proud to be affronted, and had too high a Spirit to be humbled, by such Insults, or else indeed I had met with Opportunities enough to make me pass my Time very uneasily. But in the next place those who Writ against me, were mere toothless Animals, or at least a Sort of Irish Vipers, that tho' they lov'd to Bite, yet they wanted the pungent Venom which gives the Torment. Many of their Tracts were the poorest Productions that ever disgraced the Press; without Style, or Wit, or Sense, or Argument. I remember one of them, where both I, and the Subject he writ on, were equally ill-treated, begun like a Hebrew Book at the wrong End, with an Apology for the Author's inability to handle such weighty Points as they deserved; and indeed Tom, that single Confession was the only Thing that look'd like Truth or Modesty in the whole Performance. How could I be affronted by such miserable Efforts of Malice? and above all, if the natural elevation of my Mind, had not enabled me to look down on them with Disdain, the Dignity and usefulness of my Life, help'd me to smile on them as impotent and harmless. I was so far from being mortified by their base revilings, that I think, I wrote the better for them, and with higher Spirit, as a well mettled Horse moves the brisker for being lashed. Besides, as I often wrote for the service of the World; and the Interests of Mankind, I always appeared with every Advantage, that Candour, Honesty, and Courage, cou'd give me against Injustice, Oppression, and Tyrany. I wrote for Truth and Reason, for Liberty, and the Rights of my Country and Fellow-Subjects; and it gave me Joy, to see the Minions of a Court, and the Slaves of Power, stare at the dextrous boldness of my Pen, as I fancy a Cuckold does at a Deer, when he sees it cast its Horns.
PRIOR. Why dear Dean, I will not oppose you too obstinately; but I am sure, you will not deny, that you were sufficiently mortified, with other Things, if you were not with the Sarcasms of your Rival Writers.
SWIFT. What other Things pray?
PRIOR. Why your not being perferr'd, nor advanc'd in the Church.
SWIFT. I renounce it! I deny it! I lost nothing by not being preferred, but an enlarged Power of doing Good; and the Day is coming (much sooner than the Feeders on the Earth imagine) when I shall be allowed as fully, for the Good I would have done, as for that which I was able to accomplish. The Publick indeed lost many, and perhaps considerable Advantages, and I some hearty Prayers, by that Disappointment; at the same Time, I ever look'd on the Gain of Preferment with the noblest Scorn: I hardly look'd with more on those that disgraced it, your A——s, and your B——s, your C——s, and your D——s. The truth is, I saw in this same scurvy World, so many bad Men pass for good; so many Fools for wise; so many Ignorants for Learned; and so many Knaves for honest, and rewarded accordingly, that I was rather provok'd, than mortified. However, I never fretted, but rather diverted my Spleen, with the World's fine Mistakes; and I enjoyed in Petto, that just delight of a truely honest Mind, of either pitying, or contemning every worthless Animal, whose Advancement made him look down on me, with Insolence or Scorn.
PRIOR. That was a peculiar felicity of Temper.
SWIFT. It was so, and I enjoy'd it fully. If sometimes, I was weak enough to be angry at such Events, I took care, that my Ill-humour, shou'd be as useful to the Publick, as my good cou'd have been. I ever despised undeserved Grandeur, and misapplied Power, and therefore few People in high Posts, or even Kings or Queens, or Ministers, cou'd ever brag much of my Condescension, in speaking a good Word for them to Posterity, or endeavouring to blind the Eyes of the present Times, by Printing either lies or Truths in their Favour. 'Tis true, I almost as seldom gave them any Proofs of my Spite; partly out of neglect, and a despair of doing any good by it; but chiefly, as I rather chose quarrelling with my Equals, whom I cou'd safely treat as ill as they used me; for after all Tom, tho' a Man hates Lyons and Tygers, there is no great Wit or Wisdom in throwing Stones at them, and provoking the lordly Monsters, to try the strength of their Mouths, or their Fangs on you.
PRIOR. I entirely agree with you there, Dean, but it is certain, if you was not mortified, you was enraged at the ill Usage your Patriotism drew on you from the Men in Power. This therefore, must have disturbed your mind remarkably, and as I was observing at first had never given you any uneasiness, had you been less zealous in your Country's Service.
SWIFT. I shall chuse to say little to that; tho' probably had they used me more generously, both they and I had been better pleased. I know my Foes said, if I had not hated the Ministry so much, I had not lov'd Ireland so well, nor fought her Battles so stoutly against a stupid World, and a juncto of Copper-Coiners, Oppressors and Tax-Gatherers. But indeed, Tom, I scorn'd to write from such mean-interested Views and partial Ends; but I wrote because I lov'd Honour, Truth and Liberty, more than fifty Irelands. Nay, upon my Word, if I had liv'd three Winters in Lapland, and found it as much opprest, I would have made War with my Pen on the Danes, with the same Spirit, and attack them for so basely distressing the Slaves that croucht to them, and durst not on pain of Ruin howl under their Rods. I thank Heaven, I got the better of the redoubted Sir Robert, in that important Affair; and if I had liv'd a little longer, and my Organs had not declined too fast, I would have kept all the great Bashaws of Europe in my Dependance as Aretine did.
PRIOR. Why, Dr. Dean, I was complaining of the hard Fate and ill Usage true Patriots meet with in the World, from its Neglects, if not from its Oppressions; and you stop my Mouth with Declamations of their Worth and their Influence, and make them the most formidable People in it. Don't you consider how easily they are crusht by Power.
SWIFT. No! But I consider how easily they can crush Power, I mean abused Power, when they attack Oppression and plead for Liberty, and an injured People. If I was to be restored to Life again (which Heaven forbid) and was in the Prime of my Parts and Spirits, I could overturn bad Ministers as easily with my Pen, as Mahomet in his Alcoran says, the Archangel Gabriel did Mountains with the Feather of his Wing. An Author whose Writings are bottom'd on Truth, and influenced by no Motives but the sincere Love of his Country can do Wonders. As he Acts right he fears nothing; and if he be Opprest, his Sufferings do but exalt his Character and encrease his Strength as well as his Courage. I ever found this true by Experience, I never had more Spirit, more Resolution, than when I was most eminently injured; nor did I ever exert my self in a more distinguished Manner than when the Interests of two Kingdoms were both at Work, and labouring by the help of a Villain in Scarlet Robes, to String me up as a Trumpeter of Rebellion. God forgive the Enemies of sincere Patriots, who make use of all their Arts and their Power to crush and oppress them; but tho' I pray for them, I must own Tom, if Beggars, were to be chusers, I had rather they should be forgiven after they had been severely punish'd for their misdeeds, for otherwise, when Oppressors gall Men or Nations too long, Providence bears half blame.
PRIOR. I shall submit to all you advance Dean, provided you quit this Subject, (which I unluckily started) and go to another, which I came to talk about, and is of more Importance; I mean our poor Country, and its present State and Circumstances; when I died, I thought I had left it in a very improving way, and on the mending hand, by my Writings and my constant Labours in its Service, and had I liv'd a little longer, I wou'd have wrote some Tracts, that wou'd have prevented some Distresses, which I hear, are likely to fall heavy on her.
SWIFT. Dreams! Whims! and Delusions! If you had wrote your self as blind as Milton did, what Service cou'd you do a Nation that never thinks. You might as well expect to cure the Deaf by talking to them; Idiots by reasoning with them; or to rouse the Dead as the Romans did by bawling and weeping for their miserable Condition. If they had been retrievable by any Writings, I may justly say, they had been retrieved by mine.
——Si Pergama dextra, Defendi possent, etiam hac defensa fuissent.
But all such hopes are vain. Preach to Fishes and talk to Wolves like St. Anthony and St. Francis, and try what Change it will make in them, and be assur'd, just so much and no more, would your Arguments and Eloquence do, with our heedless Countrymen. I told them of their Danger, and every impending Ruin in Print, Winter after Winter, as regularly as Men wish People a good Year, every first of January; for let me tell you Tom, repetitions of this Sort, are as necessary in a Nation, that will not readily mind good Advice, as crying Fire! Fire! in a City in Flames, where all are drunk or asleep, and must either rouse and bestir themselves, or Perish. I cannot help boasting a little on this Subject, I have a Title to it; these Hands were almost as useful to the People of I——d, as Moses's were to the Jews: When I lifted them up, all went well; when I dropt them, all went wrong. However, I must own, that as to the bulk of the Nation, tho' I tried them, and studied them, for half a Century, I ever found that they wou'd not be at the pain of thinking, for half an hour, to secure their ease and happiness for half a Year. But, pray Tom, before you speak of the Distresses that menace I——d, let me hear what Grounds you have to say, She was, in a tolerable improving way, and on the mending hand (as you call'd it) when you died. I have heard indeed, from the Ghosts of some half-starved Silk-Weavers, and some Manufacturers of Irish Woollen Goods, that died of Hunger and Poverty, that I——d was vastly improv'd, as to Elegance of Taste, in her Gentry, as to eating and drinking: That they understood Musick, infinitely better than their Ancestors; that they drest vastly more agreeably than their stupid Grandmothers, and shew'd more good Sense in the nice choice of their Suits, and the Fancy and richness of their Cloaths, as well as the modest way of imitating naked Eve, in wearing them, than the last Age did. I was assured also, that they danced inconceivably finer than ever; that their Races, and their Subscriptions for them, quite surpast all Imagination; and that they gam'd deeper, and lost their Guineas with more ease and politeness, even to Strangers and Sharpers, than their Fathers did their Shillings to one another. As to any other Improvements, and particularly as to Learning, Virtue, or Piety, (which probably were over-look'd in the Account) they poor famish'd Devils, cou'd tell me nothing of them.
PRIOR. You are very merry Dean with the madness of our Countrymen, but I fear by and by, I shall hear another Story, and be as melancholy with their Miseries. However, as you desire it, I shall give you a fair Account what these Improvements were, which made me think our poor Country was in a tolerable Way. And in the first Place, I shall mention our numerous and extended Turnpikes, which have been carried on with incredible Application and surprizing Expence in all Parts, and I had almost said, brought to every Town, of the least Name, or Consequence in the Kingdom. Of what infinite Advantage this must prove to the Ease and Convenience of all Travellers, to the facilitating and promoting our inland Commerce, and the general Service of Trade, I need not tell you.
SWIFT. Ah, Tom, I know very well, if I——d had almost as many high Ways in it as the Ocean, what Advantages it would produce to us. This was one of the great Arts of the ancient Romans, who had prodigious Roads running thro' every Province, in a strait Line to the Capital of the Empire. But Alas! We copy them in our boasted Causeways, as we do in our Standing Armies, without having any real Business for either of them. I will for some Time, at least, drop the delicate Subject of our Troops; but as to the other Point, I must say, I think it is a Curse upon us, that we can't even copy a good Example (for bad Ones we do more adroitly) but we do it in a tricky dirty Manner, and with as many Deviations as we can. Why, dost thou not know, Tom, what base filthy Jobs, Knaves, and Mean-foul'd Wretches have made, and do still make of these magnified Turnpikes. I was once fix'd to write a Book of all the Cheats, and all the Reptiles, of what Quality or Station soever concern'd in them, but I found it would be so voluminous, that I left the Care of it to Posterity, as one of the largest Branches of Irish History, and Wisdom. But to dwell as little on such melancholy Disgraces of our Country, as I can, I will chuse only to hint to you, that fine Roads, without Travellers, and Stage-Coaches, without Passengers, are useless Things, that must soon be dropt; and without Manufactures, and proper Employment to set us at Work, can neither be for Use or Pleasure. Indeed, if we had Trade, and the Roads were fairly finish'd, they might help it; but in the mean Time, methinks we are in his Case, who built the Mill, without knowing whence to bring Water to it, or where to procure Grist for it. Nay, to make bad worse, after so many Acts for Turnpikes, you cannot but know, Tom, that we want one general Act to make them all passable. I am loth to be too severe on them, and those who make Pence by spoiling them; and therefore I will only say, passable for Footmen at least; for as to Carriages, if they are allowed to be driven on some of these Roads, they will be the utter Ruin of each other. But as I am quite sick of this, prithee Tom, let us go to some other Improvements of Ireland.
PRIOR. Why, the next I shall mention is one, which you cannot easily talk me out of, and that is, our prodigious Number of Converts; which, considering the Prejudices of a bigotted People, (envassaled to Rome, and Superstition) exceeds all Belief. It is a Matter of the highest Consequence to our Welfare, that we have so astonishing a Crowd of all Ranks, Fortunes, and Circumstances that have come over to our Church, who were formerly our inveterate Enemies, and are now perfectly united to us, both in our religious and political Interests: This is not only a great discomfort, and weakening to the Popish Party, but a considerable Encouragement and Strength, to all who wish well to the Protestant Religion in Ireland. As the Papists are now quite depriv'd, of all Men of Fortune, Family or Character, that were capable of heading their Attempts, or forming their Schemes of any Sort; I have ever look'd on this Affair of our numerous Converts, as likely to contribute emnently to the Peace and Prosperity of this Island. By this means, those spiritual Factions, which have often produced such fatal Effects here, by Rebellions and national Massacres, will be utterly extinguished, and both Conformists, Dissenters and Papists, will in a little Time, live in as much Harmony and Good-Humour together; as if our Statesmen had learn'd the Art of Father Boubours's Friend, who he tells us, had taught a Dog, a Cat, and a Mouse, to eat quietly together.
SWIFT. The Dissenters live in Harmony and good Humour! What, Tom, cannot even the Grave open your Eyes; as to those Favourites of yours, the Dissenters, after all the Pranks they have been playing of late, as if they had a mind to make good, all I ever writ against them: But keep your old kind Opinion of them, Tom, to your self, for I shall not dispute on it now, because a few Years, and a few Facts, will shew you fully what they drive at, and so to that great Explainer Time, I leave them, unless you start the Subject hereafter. As to our Converts which are our present Topick, I shall only say, when you consider how they manage, whose Interests they espouse, and who they herd with, you will not be too ready to vouch for their Sincerity, or build on their Friendship, especially when their Conversion is brought about, by worldly Interests, and securing their Estates. They remember, I fancy the Advice of Alexander the Great to the Athenians, who refused to own him for a God:
Videte Athenienses ne dum Coelum custodiatis, Terram amittatis,
and therefore they take Care, not to sacrifice their Lands and Tenements, to Opinions that are equally inconsistent and inconvenient. As for the Story of Father Boubours's Friend, I shall only answer it, with one of Father Henepius, who was a very honest Missionary, and had made some Converts among the Indian Savages. In the small Number of those he had brought over, he met with an old Woman, whom he had taken so much pains in instructing, that at last he had thoroughly convinc'd her; and having admitted his new Christian to Baptism, he made her a present (and a very agreeable one to the Savages) of a Pound of Tobacco: In a few Weeks, (after behaving very well) this old Woman comes to Father Henepin, and tells him her Tobacco was gone, and begs of all Love, he wou'd give her another Pound, and she wou'd then consent to be Christned anew. I will make no Application, Tom, but if any of your Irish Conversions, seem to bear some Resemblance with this, as to their Motives and Conduct, I think you need not boast much of any Advantages, to be deriv'd from them.
 Look to it Athenians, lest whilst you guard Heaven too closely you should lose your Lands.
PRIOR. I look on our Converts in a very different Light; Numbers of them are unquestionably sincere; and if any of them may be justly suspected, I am sure their Children, and Grand-Children; will be actually as good Protestants, as any in England, where a few Generations ago, all were bigotted Slaves to Rome and Popery. Upon this Footing it is, that I will also reckon up to you, our Charter working Schools, as another great Improvement in I——d, and which gave me great Hopes of our drawing prodigious Advantages from them. The Janizaries, who are Sons of Christians taken Captives in their Infancy, are not a greater Strength to the Turks, or a greater weakening to their Enemies, than these Children, will be to our Church and Kingdom. This is the Surest, and safest Method of striking at the Root of the Popish Party, in our divided Country; and will secretly and without Noise or Violence, or the Terror of Penal Laws, sap and undermine their great Support their Numbers, and that old partition Wall of the Irish Tribes, and the English Families, and make us in Time but one People. There are few Counties in the Kingdom, that have not one, or more, Charter Schools establish'd in them; and as the Children, I am told, are computed to near fifteen Hundred, and will probably in a few Years, amount to double that Number, I cannot but hope to see great Effects from this happy Institution.
SWIFT. Why truly, Tom, in three or four Centuries, something may be done; but Schools and Children are as slow a way of working, as sowing Acorns, in order to raise Forests, for building Fleets and Cities. Besides, the Funds allowed this noble Design, are so small, as if they were subscrib'd by Papists, in order to cramp it, and lessen its Efficacy; whereas the Contributions ought to be as extended as its Views, and suited to the removal of our great national Defect, our religious Differences. Neither ought such an important Scheme, to be left depending on Fits of good Humour, and the Yearnings of Charity, which are influenced so much by the Variations of popular Opinion, and Changes of Weather, and Times, and Seasons. Withall I must tell you, Tom, that the whole Body of the Popish Clergy, have been so violent in opposing it, by denying the Communion and Absolution, to all their Members, that send Children to such Schools, and cursing it and them, with Bell, Book, and Candle, in all their Congregations, that I apprehend it will be yet harder, to get Children to fill the Schools, than even a Fund to maintain them there.
PRIOR. It must be owned the popish Clergy have done their utmost, to discredit and overturn this Design. This however, is a stronger Proof of the exceeding Usefulness of it, than of their Prudence in thwarting it so violently, as they confessedly have done. However, as this is a Scheme which his Majesty has so generously, and so warmly espoused, I am the more inclined to believe, that from his Royal Protection, it will probably operate more expeditiously, than you imagine: And if these wise Priests will consider, that if they go on to undermine these Plans of their Governors, it may force them to blow up at once, their whole Church Government, and oblige all Priests, on pain of High Treason, to take out all their Titles from the King, or Protestant Bishops only, it may make them more cautious and moderate in their mighty Zeal. A Priest in Ireland, shou'd be as quiet, and as passive, as a Protestant Minister in France; and if once they are so, we shall soon find our Charter Schools more crowded than their Mass Houses, and their Parents, as manageable as their Children.
SWIFT. I am afraid their fixt Opposition to our Government may produce some wholesome Statutes to curb their ill-judg'd Zeal; but if they behave with Decency, and a due Submission to the Laws and the Government, I shou'd be sorry to see any Severities thought necessary.
PRIOR. So shou'd I, and probably their own Prudence and Moderation may prevent it; and to that we may leave it. In short, dear Dean, 'tis as easy removing this Evil, as drawing a loose Tooth, if it gives us no Pain, there it may stay 'till it rots; if it does Pain us, and severely too, out it must go, and let those who give the Pain look to it. But I will drop this Subject, and go on to another considerable Improvement, that has of late Years been carried on with particular Emulation and Success, and that is, the surprising Improvement in the Breed of both our black Cattle, and our Horses. The first of these, we have taken uncommon Care about, by Importing great Numbers of the finest Bulls and Heifers, from England. It is true, the fatal Disease, that infected most of the horned Beasts for some Years past in Great Britain, forc'd us to suspend our Importations of them for some Time; but nevertheless, I will be bold to say, there are but few breeding Counties, on the other Side of the Water, which produce Cattle that excell those, which are bred by a vast many of our Gentlemen, either as to Beauty, Size, Leather, or Milk.
As to our Horses, it is confest by the best Judges, that by bringing over the noblest Stallions, and the highest bred Mares, we may boast of having raised the Character of both our Racers and Hunters to a surprizing Degree. We send over great Numbers every Year abroad and I am assured, that in the French King's Stables, they make as great a Figure, and are as much esteemed, as those of any Country in Europe, if we except Great Britain. Our Nobility and Gentry, are so passionately fond of keeping fine Studs, and the highest priced Cattle For Blood and Performance, that if they go on, as they have hitherto done, to lay out such large Sums in indulging this Humour, we may in Time expect to pay Part of the dreadful Importation of French Claret, by our Irish Horses.
SWIFT. I wonder you don't brag of our Importing Jack-Asses, and breeding Mules here, among your other mighty Nothings you boast of so magnificently. For my part, Tom, I see no great Advantage to the Service of Ireland, that a few private Gentlemen have improv'd the Breed of the horned Cattle. You may as well argue, that some of our Irish Senators marrying a few celebrated Toasts for their Beauty, wou'd improve the natural homeliness of the Commonality.
Indeed the Improvement made in the Breed of our Irish Horses, I believe will grow very general, and have more enlarged Consequences, among our People, as Racing favours some of their darling Passions, their Indolence and Idleness, Gaming and Drinking, and the helping our Fox-Hunters off, with their Time and their Fortunes, which I ever thought, two of the greatest Burdens to our Irish Gentlemen in the World. If they wou'd turn themselves, to breed Cattle to mount our Troops, or draw our Carriages, they might indeed save us 5000l. a Year, and do something truly beneficial to our Country; but, Tom, they have Souls above the little Views of being useful, and managing their Expences, and keeping our Cash in the Kingdom, are low Arts and Tricks, fitter for the mean Notions of a Merchant or a Mechanick, than Men of Fortune and Family, that are as proud and as thoughtless as so many noble Spaniards.
PRIOR. Well, Dean, in spite of all your Objections, I think I have nam'd several considerable Improvements, in our poor Country, which gave me Reason to say, she was on the mending Hand; and I have not nam'd all, for the very encrease of our Numbers of late Years, is a vast Addition to our Strength, Credit, and Figure, as a Nation. I think the Dealers in Political Arithmetick, compute that every Nation, unwasted by Famines, Wars, or Plagues, doubles the Quantity of its People in 250 Years; but I have seen Computations, that between our early Marriages, the Breedyness of our People, the Importations of our Neighbours, the Mildness of our Climate, and the Fertility of our Soil, evidently prove, that we have frequently doubled the Amount of our Inhabitants in half that Time. The Truth is, the matter of Fact is so incontestable, that I need not recollect all the Proofs, on which they ground their Assertion; but I shall only observe to you, Dean, that this is a very singular Advantage, since it is certain, that we out breed the Jews, and in spite of our Wars and Massacres, we seem to multiply like the Polypus, by being cut to Pieces.
SWIFT. Stuff and Nonsense! To tell me of our Numbers, when they only serve to multiply our Wretchedness and Miseries: Does this prove us on the mending Hand, as you term it? Why you talk like a Physician, that wanted more Fees for doing nothing! 'Tis hard, Tom, you cannot be in the Right sometimes, and speak Truth now and then. Did ever Man before you boast of having Crowds of Beggars? And what are we else? For I verily think, tho' Sir William Petty says, Nature never design'd above one in 500 to beg by forcing them on the Charity of others, (thro' some Lameness, Crookedness, or other accidental Debility, that incapacitates them to Labour) that in Ireland one in seventy are Beggars, (at least for the Summer Season,) and sixty of the Remainder incapable of relieving them, thro' their own Distresses. All the Advantages we have thro' the encrease of our Inhabitants, is, that for want of being employ'd, they furnish us with Thieves, Pilferers and Sharpers, private Wenches, and common Whores, Cheats and Robbers, Pickpockets, Gamesters, Tinkers and Vagabonds. We get also by this blessed means some Foundlings for our Hospitals, and Brats for our Charter Schools, Shoe-boys, and News Criers, and when they're grown up, Recruits for the holy Convents and Nunneries, and the wise and reverend Body of the Popish Priests. We have also the Advantage of able bodied Volunteers, for the Armies of our dear Allies the French; Shoals of Transports, that escape from the Gallows, to the Plantations abroad, and a superfetation of Felons, to give a little Business to our Judges, Justices, and Hangmen at home, and to keep up an Appearance of our being govern'd like other Nations. How many Thousands do we see, take their flight abroad every Year, like Birds of Passage, to search for Food and Subsistance in other Countries? How many Thousands never return again to us, no more than Prisoners to their Confinement, when they've broke loose from their hard Fare, and their Fetters. I do not exaggerate in the least; our Numbers, till we can give them Business at home, are as much a Curse and a Burthen as too large a Garrison in a besieged Town that wants Provisions: If, as political Writers agree, the true Interests of any Country consists in the Prosperity not of some, but of all the People in it, then I am sure Ireland, with her boasted Numbers, is in a bad way; as all her poor Popish Natives, or in other Words, three-fourths of her swarming Inhabitants, have neither Houses, Cloaths, Work, Food, or Fire. This is a dismal self-evident Truth, that demands the serious Consideration of every Irishman, that can think, or can learn to think. At the same Time, our Nobility and Gentry set their Lands excessively high, get their Rents paid to a Penny, have as little fear of Wars or Taxes as of Famines, and live as well (rambling, and squandering their Fortunes all over the World) as any People whatever, without one uneasy Thought, as to the Circumstances of those Crowds of their Countrymen that are starving here. The Truth is, few Men are sick of other People's Ailments; and as these honest Gentlemen find themselves quite at Ease, they can't think others are in Misery. It puts me in mind, Tom, of the famous La Bruyere's Account of a great Statesman in France, who sign'd an Arret, that wou'd have starv'd some Millions of People; however, says he, in his sarcastical way, he is to be excused, for how cou'd he, with his Stomach full of Meat, and his Head fuming with Wine, have any notion of a whole Province perishing with Hunger? In other Countries, where some Care is taken to employ their Hands, and secure them Necessaries of Life, within the reach of their Labour, their Numbers are their Strength and their Happiness; but here where nobody thinks for us, and we are too sottish or desperate to think for ourselves; our Numbers only increase our Misfortunes, like Lice on a diseased and famish'd Beggar. Our common Irish are cloathed with Rags, that wou'd disgrace a Dunghill in Holland; they live five Months in the Year without Food, unless you will call Potatoes and Salt by that Name; nay, they live without Houses, unless Holes twice as big, and twice as dirty, as an English Hogsty, deserve that Title, which they Build too, just for a Year, as Birds build their Nests, and then away to another Place in the Spring. And to brag of our Numbers, in such deplorable Circumstances, is just as rational, as for a Miller to brag of having Thousands of Rats in his Mill, tho' they are starving and thieving, and ready to eat up one another, for a little more Room and Plunder.
PRIOR. Dear Dean, you are too severe, and have too imbitter'd a way of Speeching, on all Things relating to Ireland. I reckon the encrease of our Hands the greater Blessing, as the advancement of our Linen Business is likely in some Years, to find Employment for Crowds of our People; and consequently to give them all the Conveniences, as well as the Necessaries of Life, in a reasonable Plenty: The prodigious Progress which this useful Manufacture, had made among us, was also another Reason for my saying, I left Ireland on the Recovery, when I was call'd Home: It generally encreases about 20,000 l. per Ann. on an Average; and begins to spread so very fast in Leinster, Connaught and Munster, that in a little Time we may hope to see many Thousands of Families, which are now famishing, easy in their Circumstances, and useful to their Country. We begin to be convinced, that our chief view herein must be to increase the Number of Acres sowed with Flax-Seed, and the Spinners who Manufacture it; for if these were doubled (and with Care and Time they will be doubled) they wou'd soon enrich us, and employ many Hands, that are now a Burthen to us. 'Tis certain there is not by the fairest Computation, over the fifteenth Part of our People employ'd at present in this Business; and it ought to be our great Care, to have as many busied this way, in the other three Provinces, as there are in Ulster. Twenty Thousand Acres of Flax will furnish us with Materials enough, to keep an eighth part of our People employ'd; and as we neither want Ground enough to supply us with sufficient Quantities of excellent Flax, nor Hands to work it up, if we wou'd use them; there is little doubt, but by proper Laws, if we can get them, and well judg'd Premiums, if we are allowed them, we shall soon see this blessed Affair establish'd. There is no danger of growing too large a Quantity of Flax, or of manufacturing too large a Stock of Linen; the demand for them is so considerable already, and will encrease every Day, with our Skill and Industry in the Manufacture; and if we enlarge the Sallaries of our Lappers, and thereby secure the Credit of their Seals, it is probable, we shall outwork, and under sell all our Rivals.
SWIFT. A very fine and a very plausible Account of Things; but do you know, Tom, of no Objection against this promising Calculation of yours? Are there no Fears to ballance these growing Hopes, and mighty Prospects?
PRIOR. None that I know of, Mr. Dean. I have exaggerated nothing, but candidly represented the true State of this Manufacture; nay I ought to have added to it, the flourishing State of our Cambricks in Ulster, and particularly at Dundalk; where we have as happy an Example set us in the North, as a certain Baronet, and Friend of mine, has given us in the South; what our Nobility and Gentry can do to help us, when they Employ an enlarged Fortune, and an improv'd Understanding, in advancing our Manufactures, and labouring to enrich and enliven our Country. I might justly have brought in also, the reasonable Hopes we have, that our Hempen Manufactures, may in a few Years, be so assisted, as to enable us to give Wings to the Navy of Great Britain, and Shirts to her Seamen; to her great saving, and our equal Gain and Honour. By this means, the rich Lands in Munster and Connaught, may be as happily employ'd, as the less fertile Fields, in the North; and have no Reason to Envy the superior Industry and Wealth of their Neighbours: And then our Women, (who used to be the most useless Members of our Country, before they distinguish'd themselves in our Linen Business,) wou'd have a new Opportunity given them, to shew themselves the best, and the most industrious Creatures in it.
SWIFT. I think, Tom, we may spare our Compliments to the Women, now we are dead, who paid so little Regard to them while we were living. But to pass by that, I must tell you, I have let you go on a long while, without contradicting you on this favourite Article, which I always think on with satisfaction, as it is the staple Commodity of this Island, and the chief Support of our Poor. But you shou'd act the Part of one of those faithful Lappers you were talking of, and put the worst part of their Cloth Manufacture outmost, and then Matters wou'd wear a very different Aspect. Do you consider what a dangerous Rival Scotland has been, and is likely more and more every Day to prove, to this miserable Country; and with how much ease she may exert her Jealousy against us, to the cramping, or possibly, to the blasting all our Hopes. Do you reflect, how she may reduce you to the precarious Dependance of sending over every Sessions a Linen Bill; and to hold the very Subsistance of our Manufactures, or in other Words, the Life of Ireland, by her sole Will and Pleasure.
PRIOR. I have often heard this Objection started, but never thought there was Danger enough in it to deserve an Answer, because I am convinced, it is equally false and absurd. Great Britain knows and feels, that the improving these Manufactures here, is of vast Service to her, as it weakens her Enemies, and strengthens her Friends; and that all she pays us with one Hand, is quickly repaid by us into the other. Scotland also knows, that there is a vast demand for all the Linens she and Ireland can work up; and that England alone consumes above the Value of a Million, imported by Foreigners, more than she and Ireland can supply her with: She knows therefore, that there is no Cause for Rivalship, and if there was, she wou'd exert herself to discourage the Manufactures of Foreigners, before she wou'd attempt to ruin a Sister Nation, so closely united to her in the great Cause of Religion and Liberty, and all the weighty Interests that tie Nations together. This is so evedent, so sacred a Truth, that I am so far from being jealous of Opposition and Rivalship from that Quarter, that I am confident of all that Assistance and Encouragement to our Linens, which has been so often promised from Great Britain, and made good to us, by the repeated Orders of our Kings; and not only by the Speeches of our Lords Lieutenants, but by the most useful Laws from the Throne. Nay, I doubt not, if by any evil Arts of our Enemies, any distress or obstruction, should hereafter be procured to our Manufacturers; we shou'd find on a candid Complaint of our Injury, an immediate Redress from that honest Spirit, which ever regulates the English Councils, and makes them detest tricky Politicks, as much as open Oppression, and has ever inspired them with a noble Zeal, to assist and protect the righteous Cause of Truth, Industry and Liberty.
SWIFT. It may be so! very likely—but possibly, Tom, her aid might come too late for our Misery; and we might cry out, like the poor Roman Knight Lancia, who bawl'd out for help, when the Pile he was laid on, was all in Flames, and his Friends could do him no Service. Besides, Tom, not to mention that your rising Manufacture fell last Year 132,000 l. Have you not heard how your last Linen Bill, was so miserably mutilated, that it was forc'd to be dropt; and that the Nation was fobb'd off with a senseless Tale of a sleepy heedless Clerk; which if you have not heard, I can give you a full Account of.
PRIOR. There is no Occasion, for I am quite convinced there was no such Design. Do you think it possible, that Men of high Characters for Honour and Candour, Justice and Integrity, cou'd sport in so infamous a Manner with the Fate of Nations, and the very Bread and Being of a free, a brave, and a loyal People? Can you suppose, such a Personage as was then watching over our Welfare, wou'd from an universal Reputation, for every great and good Quality, turn in an instant to a barbarous Caligula, and Wish to cut off a whole Kingdom at a Blow? Absurd and impossible! 'Tis not only reflecting on our Governors, basely and falsely; but in some Measure on the best of Princes too; since it is impossible we cou'd be subtily and insidiously betray'd by the one, without being secretly doom'd to Ruin by the other. Now this, Mr. Dean, is a Conduct so utterly opposite to his royal Nature and Character, who now gives Glory to the British Throne; that I am persuaded, he is incapable of acting so to his most perfidious Enemies, and much less to the most zealous and faithful Subjects in the World.
SWIFT. Well, well, Tom, 'tis no Time for us to be quarrelling about Reports and Stories. But now you have done with whitening the Sepulchres of Ireland, give me leave to shew you honestly, and without Flattery, the Dirt and Stench, the Corruption and Rottenness that lurks within. Now,
Audi alteram Partam.
I will shew You——
PRIOR. Hear me out first, for I am so far from having done, that I have not yet even touch'd on all the Advantages that our Country has received, from the Dublin Society's Premiums; which was one of my chief Reasons, for having consider'd Ireland as upon the Recovery, when I went under-ground like a Tortoise, to be raised again when the Summer comes, after a long Sleep. I need not be very particular on so known and confest a Fact, as the extraordinary Improvements they have made amongst us, in a vast Variety of Articles. We are told Solomon's Writings were so extensive, that he wrote from the Cedar of Lebanon, to the Hyssop that groweth from the Wall; and really their Labours have taken in every Material, every Manufacture, and every Improvement of either of them, that had any claim to their Attention or Encouragement. We may say of their Funds, as Laertes does in Hamlet, 'as for my Means, I'll husband them so well, they shall go far with little;' and it is certain there never was so much done, with so poor an Income, to remedy all our natural Indisposition, to Labour, and Thought, and Industry; to rouse up Thousands who were asleep, and set Numbers on contriving and working, who were dreaming and idling before; and to stop our People from runing abroad, by Wages and Business, and an hope of living to purpose at Home. They gave Premiums, to heighten the Manufacture and Dying of our Woollen Cloths; of our Silks, and our Velvets; of our Blankets; of our Worsteds; of our Cottons; of our Coffoys; Buffs, Lutherines and, Fustians; of our Stockings, and our Carpets, with surprising Success: In our Husbandry they did Wonders also; as to Wheat and Barley; as to Liming, Marling, and Sanding of Land; as to planting of Hops, draining of Bogs; as to raising Liquorish, Saffron and Madder; and as to sowing of Turneps, Clover, St. Foil, Trefoil, and all Kinds of Grass Seeds. They improv'd by a well judged Emulation and proper Rewards, Numbers of our Husbandry Utensils: They set the Nation at Work, in Planting amazing Quantities of Timber Trees, Willows and Osiers for Hop Poles; in raising great Numbers of Orchards, and improving our making of Cyder, home made Wines, and Metheglins; as also in Brewing our Ale and Beer, and giving us Vinegar from our own Fruits, equal to the best in France. They raised the Manufactures of our finest Hats, to a surprising Degree; and they did the same by our Window Glass, and made so great a Progress in our Paper Business, and building of Mills for carrying it on, as if they had got the Mines of Peru, or the Industry of China, to assist them in their Undertakings.
SWIFT. Well, dear Tom, I suppose you have done now. I have finish'd a Sermon, on a better Subject twice as soon, and yet tir'd my People, God help them, before I had half done.
PRIOR. I see you don't relish the Transports of my Zeal on this Subject, which gives me such high Delight; so I shall mention but cursorily many Articles that remain, and shall pass by a Crowd in Silence, that well deserv'd my dwelling on them: What I shall begin the remaining part of my Catalogue with, is their exerting themselves with such Assiduity and Success; in Teaching young Lads to Draw and Design skilfully; in setting up Competitions for the best Delf, Roan and Crockery Ware, for Erecting the best Glass Bottle-Houses, for raising of Mulberry Trees, for making of Salt, for working the best Bone-Lace, and the best Imitation of it by the Needle: For the Encouragement of the best Needle-Works in Silk and Worsted; for the Advancement of those lovely Arts Painting, Architecture and Sculpture; for encouraging Tapestry, and enlarging our Fisheries: For improving the Tanning and Currying of our Leather, for the Discovery of Mines and raising of Ores, and for those who should annually Produce the best Invention in useful Arts and Husbandry. In a Word, by turning themselves every way, and applying their little Fund in different Years, to different Uses and Subjects, they seem'd not only to Influence, but even to animate the Whole of our Country; to fire our Hearts, to enlighten our Minds, and stir and strengthen our Hands; and by giving a new Turn to our Thoughts and Motions, to prepare us for yet greater Scenes of Industry, when larger Helps cou'd be got to excite us to it. They have shewn us the vast Effects of a well directed Emulation, and what a few hundred annual Pounds, have already done, and can produce hereafter, by the honest Oeconomy and prudential Directions, of a zealous and judicious Body of Citizens, who Study the Good of their Country. They have also shewn us another undisputed Truth, viz. That if their Fund was enlarg'd, the Good they wou'd do wou'd be proportionably encreased with it, and that little Wonders might be wrought in Ireland, by enlivening the Arts, by Feeding the Hungry, by giving Feet and Hands to the Lame and Lazy, Eyes to the Blind or dim-sighted, and raising the Dead and the Drousy, to Life and Activity.
SWIFT. Go on, dear Tom, go on, with your Raptures and Enthusiastical Reveries; but pray allow me to ask you one plain Question, what (if all you affirm be true) cou'd possibly hinder, this necessary, and indeed this important Enlargement of their Fund.
PRIOR. Why really, Mr. Dean, I cannot answer your Enquiry, without throwing one of the heaviest Imputations on a Nation, which I wou'd have Died to serve effectually, and which I spent my Life in labouring to serve, in too narrow and stinted a Manner. It must be confest, too few of our Nobility or Gentry, shew'd that Generosity of Soul to encrease the annual Income of the Society, by their Contributions, as might have been expected, from the Numbers of worthy Men among us, who do us real Honour. It is certain his Majesty set the Nation a noble Example, by Assigning them a Charter, and allowing them an handsome annual Revenue out of his Treasury; and what shou'd hinder Crowds of our worthiest Noblemen and Gentlemen, of large Fortunes and Minds proportioned to them, to Subscribe Ten or Twenty Pounds a Year, to so noble and so successful a Scheme, is hard and perhaps painful to say: I am the more amaz'd at it, as they cou'd not but say, it wou'd have raised Ireland from Idleness to Industry, from Ignorance to Knowledge; from Contempt and Disregard, to Honour and Credit; and wou'd not have left us in fifty Years, an Idler or a Beggar, (which are but synonimous Terms) in the whole Kingdom. A Dish or two sav'd from their Tables, or a Bottle or two from their Revellings, an Horse or two left out of their Stables, nay even a lac'd Coat, or a lac'd Livery sunk: a Night of Gaming, a trifling Frolick, a Jaunt of Pleasure deducted from their usual Expences; or what is still better, a Winter or two spent in doing Good on their own Estates, wou'd more than answer all: It is certain, that it is absolutely incumbent on every Gentleman, I will not say that loves Ireland, but that loves himself and his Family, to do his best to assist so happy a Scheme, so distinguish'd a Society, with his Purse, his Head and his Hands, if he knows how to use any of them. Nay, they shou'd extend the same Methods, and the same Premiums, to their several Provinces, Counties and Cities, for the particular Arts and Manufactures, that are likeliest to thrive there: And if they diffused them to their own Estates, Manors and Tenants, it wou'd in Time with Patience and Management, produce vast Effects, and a strange Revolution in our Circumstances, Customs and Manners. These are Thoughts worthy of Men, of Christians, of Free-born Britons, and rational Creatures! worthy to be planted and nursed in every honest Breast, and to be spread as universally, as the Air we breathe, and the Bounds of Nature and the World. He that has them, and feeds and cultivates them in his Soul, and brings them into common Life and Action in his Country, has a better Claim to the Love of his Maker, or Fellow-Citizens, than if he had founded Empires, or discover'd new Worlds.
SWIFT. Very well, Tom—but pray will Mankind agree to these fine Doctrines, or will they not rather despise or ridicule them, as a little on the Romantick.
PRIOR. If the Lazy, the Vicious, and the Selfish laugh at such Notions, and look on such Plans of Things, as Dreams and Visions; the Active, the Virtuous, and the Disinterested, know their real Worth, and wish and labour, to have them spread as widely and as forcibly among Men, as Vices corrupt; and Plagues destroy. I and some others did our best, to propagate such ways of thinking and acting here; but I fear we might to as much Purpose, have admonish'd the modern Italians, to imitate the Courage, Zeal and publick Spirit of the antient Romans, for I did not find, that we made many Converts to our Opinions. However, Charity makes me think, that what chiefly hinders our Gentlemen from acting right, and making such Thoughts the great Rules of their Conduct; is the dread of being Singular, and the unmanly fear of envious Tempers. They apprehend being traduced or sneer'd at, by the common Herd of Mankind for their insolent Zeal, and their daring to set up to serve others, and improve their Countrymen, and therefore they decline it. It is odd how any good, not to say any great Mind, can be overaw'd by so mean a Modesty, by so poor a Terror, as the Censure or Malice of those he labours to serve, and yet Hundreds (I speak from long Experience) are influenced by it. What makes me wonder the more at such Conduct, is, that I am persuaded Malice here below, is not only design'd by the great Author of Good, as a Trial of our Virtue, to see if it is real and constant to the Touch, as the Goldsmith does his Metal by passing it thro' the Fire, but I cou'd even think Malice, is also a sort of Reward to Virtue.
SWIFT. Bless us all, Tom! Malice a Reward to Virtue! that is something new indeed, Tom.
PRIOR. It may be absurd also, but I am sometimes inclined to think it so, because it generally encreases and exalts our Worth, and also as it frequently serves to make it appear with the greater Dignity and Glory, when the Malice of Envyers is vanquish'd or silenced. Besides we often see it a direct Spur to noble Actions, and find it stimulates our Ardour to new advances; and when our Souls are firm enough, to smile at and even wish well to our Detractors, it swells the Heart with a nobler Joy, and an higher Delight, than even Virtue in any other Situation can give. But however that may be, I am sure it is the chief Reward of Virtue in this World, and this Age. But to dismiss that Point, I must observe that it has often amaz'd me, to see how few Gentlemen I cou'd persuade to exert themselves, by proper Donations or Subscriptions, to assist a Society that is so eminently useful to their Country.
SWIFT. I think you have accounted for it pretty well already, I will only add this plain Truth, that Men love their Money better than their Health, or their dear Bodies, to say nothing of their Souls. For this Reason it is, that they don't Care for giving it to Schemes of Notions, and airy Views of Industry, and Improving of Nations; but they keep it for solid Substantial Things, their Racing and Gaming, their Hawks and their Hounds, their Cloaths and their Coaches, their Houses and their Equipages, their Kitchens and Cellars, their Amours and Amusements. They are so far from giving their Money to such Projects and Views, that they will not even give their Thoughts or their Time to them, lest they shou'd be mislead, into the Plague of reading, and thinking, and reasoning; of contriving the best Methods, of punishing the Idle, reclaiming the Vicious, or employing the Poor. Such troublesome Methods, may prove the overthrow of Electioneering and Borough-buying, and their embosom'd Thirst for the poorest Power, the meanest Places, and the basest Gain; and in a Word it wou'd be the Destruction, of all those dirty Jobbs, that enrich private Rogues and beggar Nations. How, dear Tom, cou'd you expect such dissipated Minds, such a listless pleasurable Gentry, wou'd ever contribute a Thought, or a Shilling to improve Ireland, who won't improve one Thousand Acres, to help their Children and feed their Families? Who will not even take the Trouble, or be at the Expence, to lay out Nurseries for adorning their Estates, or plant out Groves and Woods, to make their Residence pleasant to them; nay, who will not even Build good Mansion Houses, or comfortable Offices for themselves or their Posterity? Wou'd such unthinking unactive Mortals, subscribe to Societies, or lighten their Purses to establish Premiums, who tho' they cou'd make themselves and their Fortunes easy, by a little Management, tho' they cou'd starve their Diseases by Temperance, and be an Honour to their Country, by a little Virtue and Dignity of Behaviour, will not think them worth their Attention. One shou'd never expect, mighty Efforts of Goodness or Greatness of Mind, from any Men, or even dream of moderate ones from Irishmen; or at least whoever does, shou'd remember what the Italian says, 'He who lives on Hope dies of Hunger.' As there are few among us, Tom, who have exalted Minds, enlarg'd Understandings, or uncorrupted Hearts, join'd with a noble Contempt, for whatever can happen to us here, it is pretty evident, why their Subscriptions were so few and so mean; for without these transcendent Qualities, 'tis hard to conceive how Men can truly love their Country, and be real sincere Patriots. Numbers have Generosity enough, to relieve a distrest Family, to join for a Ridotto, to set up a Musick Meeting, or an Assembly, or Subscribe for a Week's Races; but they wou'd as soon contribute to the Building of Churches, or endowing Colleges for the Advancement of Learning, as to promote the Trade, the Tillage, the Manufactures, the Welfare of Ireland, by taxing their Pocket, or substracting from their Pleasures. There is however one Excuse, which I must plead for them, notwithstanding all I have said, and that is the too general Despair, of doing any Service to their Country; by such Subscriptions, the Remedy is so disproportioned to the Disease. 'Tis, they think, like Sir Joseph Jekills, leaving 30,000 l. by his Will, to help to pay off the National Debt, of eighty Millions.
PRIOR. That was a poor Excuse indeed; for a considerable Number of generous Subscriptions, wou'd greatly relieve the Wants and Distresses of Ireland.
SWIFT. No more than a few Showers of Rain, wou'd quench the Conflagration, if the Pyrenees with all their Forests were on Fire, as we Read they once were. All the Dublin Society did, was to shew what we wanted, and to set an Example, of what might be done, to help our dreadful Ailments: But you might as well expect to work Miracles, and to feed Thousands, like our Saviour, with a few Loaves, as to retrieve a Nation, by throwing a few Widow's Mites into the Treasury. It is true, Nations, with their many Hands, make light Work; but where can the Power be found, to animate and employ Millions, but in the Omnipotence of him who made them, or the force and weight of Monarchs, (the Representatives of Heaven) who Rule and Govern them. All you and your Society cou'd do, was to shew you understood the miserable Condition of Ireland, and to manifest your sincere desire to assist with some Care and Judgment in the Cure; but you cou'd as well remove Mountains by your Faith, as the Ills we groaned under, by so adequate a Remedy, as your impoverish'd stinted Fund.
PRIOR. Why you will make me lose all Patience, Mr. Dean! Do you think because I have laid aside Flesh and Blood, that I can bear any Thing? Did not I lay before you, a long delightful Account, of almost infinite Services which the Society did Ireland, in improving old Manufactures, or introducing new Ones; in advancing our Husbandry, in encouraging every Art and every Branch of Industry? As I am now a truly rational thinking Creature, I wou'd not willingly lose my Temper, but I solemnly declare, that the Rules the Society prescrib'd, and the Labours they set on Foot, the Fields which they sow'd or they planted, the Houses they got Built, the Rivers they bank'd in, the Bogs which they drain'd, the Marshes they laid dry, and the Lands they gain'd from the Ocean, have alter'd the very Nature and Face of the Country, and chang'd even the Air and the Climate for the better!
SWIFT. Stuff, Nonsense, Madness! One wou'd think you were alive still, Tom, by your furious flourishing on Nothing, or Trifles next to nothing. The Nature and Face of the Country alter'd, and even the Air and the Climate chang'd for the better! Have you a Mind to talk my Reason away, or make a Jest of my zeal for Truth? This is the old way of prating and vaunting in Ireland, that used to make me, and every Friend to it sick of such unmeaning Declamations. We are such Fools as ever to be bragging of our Soil and our Linens, our Wealth and our Plenty, our Weather and our Climate, as if we strove to bring over a greater Crowd of English Refugees hither.
PRIOR. Refugees! dear Dean, how can you indulge such an Acrimony of Speech? That is not only an invidious, but a sarcastical and barbarous Expression.
SWIFT. Not a whit. I speak only of such as come over to us, for their Love to Religion, for the hope of Liberty of Conscience, whatever they believe, or Preferments in the Church, whatever they Practice, or to avoid Persecution from Men arm'd with Power and the Laws, the Rapaciousness of Creditors, and the Insolence of Sheriffs and Bailiffs, and to live at peace here, with quiet Minds and easy Circumstances. This is a true Notion of a Refugee, and I think such People come over fast enough without such ostentatious Proclamations to give them new Encouragements: My Conduct always took a different Turn, and if I had liv'd a little longer, I had wrote a Treatise to prove Ireland, the most inhospitable and barbarous of all habitable Islands, and the very Piss-pot of the Western World. I even made it a Rule to rail at it all I could, to frighten such People from coming hither, lest hearing there was Corn in the Land, shou'd invite them over to eat it up, while we were kept Starving. You pretend to take Offence at my Expressions, but I see plainly, what vext you was, because forsooth I reflected with some Spleen, on your little huckstering Society, with its two-penny Rewards and three-penny Premiums, for going any silly Errands you sent People on; and so in mere Contradiction you make them reform our Heaven and our Earth, and mend our very Climate and the Face of Nature. For my part as to the Face of Nature and the Country, I know no great Alterations, but the shaving her Beard close, and cutting down all her Woods, so that we now pay 40,000 l. per Annum for imported Timber. When I was an Inhabitant of this lower World, I remember I lov'd the Country well enough in the Summer Season; but I cou'd not bear to spend much Time in it, as I never cou'd Walk or ride in a single Field; that did not put me in a Passion, either to see it as wild as ever Nature left it after the Mud of the Deluge; or at least not so much improv'd as it might be, if the Owner had common Sense or common Industry. What ever enrag'd me most was, that tho' such Fellows I knew by Experience, wou'd venture their Limbs or their Necks for a Guinea, yet they had not the Skill to make Five Pounds more of their Ground than they got by it, tho' a little Labour and Art wou'd have done the Thing. When I look'd on my Airings on the wild Wastes of rich Lands unbuilt and untill'd, I sigh'd for the want of Houses and Tenements, of Welders and Plows; and when after ten Miles riding, I found some lame Attempts after such Things, I was still more vex'd to see our Cabbins, and what we call'd our Corn Grounds, no more resembling the Buildings and Tillage of England, than an Ape does a Man. I really don't expect that Ireland will ever be properly improv'd, till the Millennium makes the whole Earth a Paradise; and then after a long Struggle between Heaven and Nature, we may chance to come in for a share; tho' at present Heaven is so little minded here, as to Churches or Chapels, or national Piety, that I don't wonder to see the Land running into a Desart every Hour, fill'd with Beasts and a few Savages.
PRIOR. I see, Dean, you have not forgot your old way of thinking and speaking. It is well there is no Pen and Ink, or Printing allow'd under Ground; or else we shou'd have old work below Stairs——
Sub Terris tonnuisse putes——
As the witty Classick expresses it.
SWIFT. If there was, I wou'd raise a little Earthquake yet in this Kingdom. But I have not forgot, Tom, nor I cannot yet forgive your strange Rant of improving the very Climate in Ireland. If it was, I wou'd not curse it, as Harry the Eighth's Fool did the fine Weather, for taking all the good Company abroad from him, but I shou'd rail at it and you for another Cause; for fear of bringing us better Company than I desire in Ireland. I must confess honestly, that our Winter begins very late, and hardly appears till about the End of December, and is gone before the beginning of February. But then it must be own'd, that we have but very little Spring, unless it be of Grass and Weeds; and that our Autumn lasts but very few Weeks, without any Harvest to gather in, but a little pittance of Corn and some half made Hay; and as for our Summers (as we call them) they come as it were by Chance, now and then one, when Spain and Italy have done with them. Nay, even then, we only get them, as Servants do their surfeited Masters broken Meals; half hot, half cold, in little Scraps and Morsels that do us no Good. In short, Tom, a Summer in Ireland when it wanders thither, is of as little Service as fair Weather in Greenland, where nothing is the better for it, but vast Swamps and Savannahs and a wild waste of Plains and Mountains, a few rational Brutes that dwell in Caves and Holes of the Rocks, and a parcel of Hares and Deers, which they live tollerably on, while they have Light enough to hunt them. And to talk of mending our Climate, where nothing but a general Conflagration can dry the Land, or purge the Dampness of our unelastick Air, is as absurd as the Philosophers Sun-dial in the Grave. Ah, Tom, I was always a very Atmospherical Creature; and often have the Rains of Ireland sunk my Spirits, and made me envy those happy Climates, where the Natives toast in the Sunshine, till they almost grow tir'd of it, and rejoice for Rain and bad Weather, like so many Hackney Coachmen.
But as I hope you have done with all your mighty Reasons, for thinking Ireland on the mending hand, I expect you will indulge me now, while I give you mine, why I think her in a very dangerous declining Situation.
PRIOR. With all my Heart, provided you will allow me the Priviledge of a free Conference, and bear with my opposing, whatever I think is wrong in your Assertions, and let me canvass your Opinions where I want Information or Proofs. I came to call on you, in order to Talk over all that I thought dangerous or distressful, in our present Circumstances and our future Prospects; and to consider what hope we can strike out of Relief or Comfort, for this neglected People and Country; and I promise before hand, I shall not contradict you in any Thing, where you do not force me to it, by an over-bearing Zeal, or a querulous Temper.
SWIFT. A fair Preliminary, to which I readily Subscribe. Now the first Reason, Tom, why I have uneasy fears for our Country, and for my having little Expectation of mending her Circumstances is, the utter absence of all Industry and Frugality among us. There is no other Remedy for a thoughtless Nation, which gets little or nothing from others, but saving all it can; and being frugal in proportion to its Indolence and Poverty. This is a self-evident Truth, and yet our Nobility and Gentry spend in Vanity and Luxury, treble as much as Men of twice their Fortune in England, tho' they do not half the Good among their Tenants, and neither spend half the Time or Money with them, or take half the pains to improve them, while they every Year encrease their Rents, and our Beggars: 'Tis dismal to make the poor Tenant give the full Tale of Brick, tho' we give them no Straw, and that we starve them, by sending our Money abroad for foreign Commodities, to feed our Extravagance, and gratify our Madness for importing Fopperies; tho' we hurt our Families for the present, and ruin our Poor for ever, who dare not set up Manufactures they know will not be worn. Surely in a Kingdom where no body looks to his own Affairs, as they are connected with the Publick, 'tis Time the Publick shou'd look to every Bodies. What a melancholy Prospect is it, to see fine Cloaths, fine Equipages, fine Race Horses, fine Laces, fine Dishes, deep Play and deep Drinking, the Glory and delight of our People of Fashion; and Ease, and Sloth, and Sleep, and Potatoes, the chief Joy of our Lifeless neglected Natives. Is not such a Nation like a Ship set on Fire on one end, and sinking by a thousand Shot-holes and Leaks, at the other? If we were a little frugal, we might the better bear the Loss we undergo by our Idleness and Inactivity; but when our Gentlemen sacrifice so much to their Pleasures, and our Ladies to their Finery, both which they wisely seek for from foreign Productions, we must be undone unless we prevent our Destruction, by resolving to Work and be busy. There is no Alternative——, one of these two Things we must do; we must either be less Mad for the Manufactures and Products of other Nations, or we must enlarge our Industry, and make Reprisals thereby on our Neighbours, in order to keep our People alive and easy while they are Living. Possibly I may have said this before, Tom, and probably I shall say it again, for a full Heart and a troubled Mind, is apt to deal in Repetitions, when they grow almost desperate, and see little hope of a Change for the better.
PRIOR. Dear Dean, I own I shou'd be glad to contradict you, as to these dismal Representations of Things; but I have learn'd since I left a false World, to love Truth, tho' it be ever so strong against us, or puts us and our Actions in ever so bad a Light. It is too certain Industry and Frugality are the two great Sources of Prosperity in all Nations; and it is a mortifying Reflection to consider what a miserable Share we have in either of them here. 'Tis as certain if we be Frugal and Industrious, we must be easy and happy, as that we must be wretched and miserable, if we continue our Love to Expence and our hatred to Labour. Nay Frugality and Wealth, which is the Consequence of it, will not do, unless we are diligent Workers too; for Spain is a Proof, and so is Portugal, that even Hoards of Money will not enrich a Nation, unless their Gold is used to promote Industry among the meaner Sort, and to raise their Thoughts above Sleep, and Rags, and Dirt, and Inactivity.
SWIFT. Very true, Tom, and indeed one wou'd hope unless Heaven has irrecoverably doom'd us to Destruction, there are sufficient Remains of common Sense and Honesty left among our Countrymen, to new form our Manners in these Regards, and improve their ways of Thinking and Acting. In such Case, they may in two or three Centuries learn to believe, Frugality and Industry, Arts and Manufactures worth encouraging, and their Luxury and Debauchery, and an utter Absence of all Regard to the Publick, worth Reforming. It is a shocking Truth to say all this wou'd be done, if Men wou'd but own themselves oblig'd, and wou'd therefore resolve to behave, like reasonable Creatures: And yet this is a Point as hard to bring about, as if we were arguing with Hottentots, and persuading Tartars to forbear publick Plunders, and to have some regard to Right and Wrong, and the real Happiness and Misery of themselves and their Posterity.
PRIOR. I agree with you entirely, Mr. Dean, and indeed if we cou'd cure our national Ailments by Writing and Speaking, as People who profess removing Disorders, by Words and Charms, what you and I and some others have Publish'd, might have done the Work: But alas! pressing Industry and Frugality on many of our People, who have been train'd up to Sloth and Squandering, is but of equal Efficacy with preaching up Temperance to Sots, or Cleanliness to Negroes, when their Habits and Vices are all against you. The Church of Rome has plac'd Purgatory in the North-West of Ireland, which was then one of the remotest wildest Parts of the Earth; and tho' I have reason to believe, they now Wish, they had removed it something more out of View, yet I am sure there is no Part of the Globe, so fit a Purgatory for Sloth as Ireland, or where People so generally pay St. Paul's Penalty for not Working, by not Eating.
SWIFT. If due Care was taken, this natural Supineness of our lower People, might be soon turn'd into Activity and Vivacity, by letting them see and feel the Sweets of Labour, and convincing them by Fact and Experience, that when once the Poor are made industrious, they turn all they Touch to Gold, like Midas's Fingers of famous Memory. As to our sleepy Countrymen, I cannot but say that it is a Pity, where Men are commanded to give one Day of the Week, to doing nothing but Acts of Piety, they don't regard the other Part of the Law, and labour the other Six. This at least shou'd be the Magistrate's, and the human Legislator's Business; but really there is no Law made, nor Care taken about it, but every Body overlooks this plain neglected Truth, that Men ought to be as accountable to the Magistrate, for their Time as their Actions, and as punishable for wasting it. But our Irish seem actually to have mistaken the divine Commandment, and it is well their Priests did not leave it out of the Decalogue, as they did the Second. They manage, as if they thought God had bid them be idle six Days of the Week, and Work but one, and very moderately on that one. I have often met in Authors, and think the Assertion true, that the very Genius of the Popish Religion indisposes Men to Labour; as we see by their numerous Holidays, Feasts and Fasts: All which are direct Enemies to Toil and Handy-craft, and make the returns to Work disagreeable. It is undoubted that the Protestants out Trade and out Work the Papists; they have (as all observe) fewer Beggars, they have fewer Drains from their Industry, by those who sleep away their Lives in Colleges and Nunneries; they maintain a much smaller Number of secular Priests, and even to those, they do not prohibit Marriage, and to say no more at present, those lazy Drones the Friars of so many different Orders, are Cankers and Consumptions quite unknown to their Constitution. In most Protestant Countries, more than ordinary Attention, for good political Reasons, has been given to this great Point. In Holland all are employ'd, even the lettred World deal in Traffick and are Merchants; nay the Deaf, the Lame, the Blind, the Dumb, and the very Dead Work.
PRIOR. The Dead Work! That is a Flight extraordinary sure, Mr. Dean, and I must call on you to retract that Mistake.
SWIFT. Not at all; for tho' that Truth is a little incomprehensible in Ireland, where we have no such Incitements, in Holland the Statues and Monuments of their useful and industrious Citizens, and the Epitaphs and Praises on them, prompt and inflame the living to emulate them, and push on their Virtue to excell, in every Art, and open every Road to Profit and to Glory. When I was throwing away (like other People) my Thoughts and my Time above Ground, I used often to think on these Matters; and I fear to as little Purpose as we talk of them now. However I must say, Tom, that tho' if our rich People would think and grow Managers, and our Poor wou'd Work, and keep their Hands and their Children busy, nine tenths of our Evils wou'd be remov'd, yet I am convinc'd, neither of these important Points will be minded, till we are forc'd to get better Notions of Things, by seeing the Nation ruin'd by the want of them, as often as a Boy at School is whipt for playing the Truant, before he will mend.
PRIOR. Ruin is as terrible a Remedy, as a deadly Sickness is a Reformer; and I had rather hope that sumptuary Laws against Dress, Racing, Gaming, &c. if we were Wise enough to make them, and amendable enough to mind them when made, wou'd do our Business much better. 'Tis a Misfortune for Ireland, that our Spendthrifts so often run out their Lives and their Estates together, and so their Examples are lost on us; for I ever thought it a Pity, they shou'd not live forty or fifty Years in beggary, their own Lives are such a Torment to them, and they become thereby such fine Scare-crows, to our young unthinking Squanderers, when they see them all the while, standing as it were in a kind of Pillory. Nothing keeps the Dutch so frugal as their Loads of high Taxes, for some good Author, (and I think 'tis your old Friend Sir William Temple) tells us, one cannot have a Dish of well dressed Fish at a Tavern in Holland, without paying near thirty Gabels for it. We want some Remedy for our Extravagancies of all Kinds greatly, but this is so shocking a one, that one wou'd hope the very fear of it might cure us, as some Men have renounc'd their Intemperance, by their dread of the Gout and the Doctor. Without some such helps, our fine Gentlemen seem not inclined to learn or consider, that we shou'd save immense Sums to our Country, if we eat Corn of our own sowing, drunk home-made Wines of our own Brewing, fed on Fish of our own catching, burn'd Coals of our own raising, and wore no Cloaths that were not of our own manufacturing. If they were once convinced of this, good Effects wou'd follow, and we shou'd soon acknowledge that it is barely owing to our own Extravagance, Thoughtlesness, Sleepiness, Drunkenness and Vanity, that we don't, with one Voice, condemn and renounce such evident Errors, in our national Conduct, and fix on their Remedies.
SWIFT. This Tom, is merely dreaming of a publick Cure for an epidemical Distemper, as Curtius says Ptolomy did; but we shou'd not only get our Gentlemen, to think for the Nation and themselves; for we want severe Laws to cure the Laziness and Indolence of our lower People. As Idleness is the great Source of Theft, picking and filching, the natural Punishment of at least all smaller Criminals, seems to be hard Labour for Life, or Years. We see in France and Spain they man their Gallies this way, and in Sweden and Denmark they employ them in their publick Works, and chiefly about their Shipping and their Docks. No Punishment cou'd be more terrifying to an Irishman, who we generally think is averse to Labour; none cou'd be more useful to our distressed Land, where we lose more People by doing Nothing, than are destroy'd by the Wars and Conquests, the Voyages and Traffick of other Kingdoms. On this Account we shou'd take Care, that Idlers, Beggars and vagabond Strollers, shou'd be treated with the Sharpest Rigour, as they do not only deny to assist their Country by their honest Endeavours, but live like Drones on the Spoil of the Industrious. It shou'd be a Maxim in every well governed State, but especially in Ireland, that Idleness shou'd be as severely punish'd as petty Larceny; and to beg with an Ability to Work, shou'd be regarded and treated as a Kind of training up Youth for Stealing, (when they have learn'd the proper Cant and Tricks of their Apprenticeship) and consequently to relieve a Vagabond, shou'd be as faulty and as corrigible as receiving stolen Goods. The proper Place for the Relief of sturdy Beggars, is a good County Work-house, where the Labours of such Vagabonds (and indeed of all Criminals till they are Tried and Discharg'd) shou'd go to the Maintainance of such Poor, who are utterly incapable of Work, and whose Parishes can't support them.
PRIOR. I am quite in your way of Thinking on this Subject, Mr. Dean, I remember Doctor Basire in his Life of Bishop Cosin, tells us that in several Years Travels in Turky and Holland, he never once met a Man who ask'd him an Alms; so that here we see the Wisdom of the State may have the same Effect with the Laws of God among the Jews, which prohibited any Beggar to be a Burthen, or a Disgrace to their Tribes. Charity to Vagabonds is Cruelty to the State, which is interested as the Civil Law, and our own Statutes speak, that every Member of the Community, should use his Labour and his Substance, to the best Advantage. Every Stroller or Vagabond is a Loss to the Kingdom, and is little better than a licenc'd Plunderer of our People, and every such Person, is really a living Instance of Neglect or Ignorance in those, who shou'd give us by Law a proper Power and Place, to force him to earn his Bread by his Hands. Whoever has Health and wants Food, shou'd be oblig'd to Work one way or other, for if Idleness was always punish'd by our Statutes with severe Labour, as surely as Felony is by Death, it would then like Thieving be confin'd to the Night, and we shou'd be at least good Day Labourers. The Strength of the political Body, depends as much on its Members being properly exercised, as that of the natural, and on the Neglect of it, infinite Disorders follow. But alas, Dean, this is not enough attended to in Ireland, or we shou'd have Work-Houses in every County, but we have the peculiar Misfortune of having this dreadful Mixture in our Circumstances; that we have all the Vices, Extravagancies, and Luxury of a rich Nation, with all the Wants, the Distresses and Despair of a poor one. If once our Gentry and Nobility wou'd set us fair Examples of Frugality and Activity, we shou'd soon reform, but alas! great Estates, as we use them, seem design'd for little else but the Triflers of the World, and the wretched Fashions, Fopperies and Fooleries, they are generally thrown away on. However it is certain, Providence appointed them for nobler Purposes, and it were to be wish'd the present Stewards of them (for they are evidently nothing more) wou'd seriously consider this, that they may be able to give the Bestower a better Account of them.
SWIFT. I was saying so every Day, for the last fifty Years of my Slavery among Men, and all to no Purpose! But there is another Matter that makes me fear for the Welfare of Ireland, and that is the want of proper Manufactures being set up there. I see Tom, you are ready to bawl out to me, the Irish Cambricks, the Irish Linens, but alas! even as to them I am sorry to say, they wou'd do Great Britain and Ireland twice the Service, if they were doubly encouraged, and not left to creep to those Provinces, where they might go with a brisker Progress, if the Funds of the Trustees were enlarg'd, or their Premiums more happily applied. But I leave that, Tom, to Time and the Legislature, for the Manufactures which I lament the want of, are those which enrich France, Germany and Holland; such as those of Brass, Tin, Copper, Lead and Iron Work, in all their amazing Species; those of Glass, Tapestry, Hats, Silk, Leather, Paper, Pins, Needles, Lace, Earthen-Ware, and Numbers of others, of which our own Island can largely supply the Materials, if we wou'd make use of them. Whether it proceeds from our Ignorance or our Poverty, our before mentioned Laziness, or want of Capacity I cannot say; but Arts and Manufactures seem to be discourag'd so remarkably, in this unthinking and unthought of Island, as if we wou'd fain obtain the Name, of Omnium bonarum Artium noverca, formerly as I remember given to Scythia. Even those few Attempts we make to deserve well in some of them, are brow-beaten or neglected by our People of Fashion. This is a Complaint I must often make, and can never be too often repeated in their Ears, as without their Help no Workmen, how industrious soever, can thrive. 'Tis miserable that our polite People, will not be content to Ruin their own Families by their extravagant Finery, but their Country too, and all who dare endeavour to exert a little Industry in home Manufactures. Surely the Wearers of all Foreign Goods, and especially the Fair Sex, do not believe, or do not consider, that they deliberately starve their own poor Countrymen and their Families, by making them Work in vain. They shou'd in Pity, in Generosity, in Justice reflect, that since we are not allowed to Export our Silk and Woollen Goods abroad, the least that every Friend to Ireland can do, is to encourage them so far, as to wear them at Home, tho' they do not quite come up to those that are Imported to us. Tho' we are terribly impoverish'd by this fondness for Goods which other Nations send us, it is still some Comfort, that there is no Law to force us to it as yet, and that the whole of this dreadful Ruin, is grounded on our own Humours, which a little thinking, some Charity, and a general Poverty, may remove in Time. I know no reason, why a Thousand beautiful Faces I have seen in Ireland, shou'd desire to look lovelier than Nature, and the Produce of their native Kingdom can make them: And for our Gentlemen (if they are Gentlemen) they shou'd take a Pride in wearing nothing but what is wrought in Irish Looms, and make it a Case of Conscience, like Archbishop King, Bishop Berkeley, and Crowds of Patriots I cou'd Name, to be cloathed by our own People. The Dutch I am told, have lately issued a Placart, forbidding all their Subjects (excepting Day-Labourers who are too poor to trangress it) to wear any Silk or Woollen Goods not Fabricated in their Provinces. The greatest Personages are restrain'd herein by severe Penalties, and tho' we cannot make such a Law, (nor perhaps shou'd not desire it in Respect to one Country at least) yet certainly we shou'd form general Resolutions, and try to Establish an universal Custom (which is equal to any Law) of Feeding and Encouraging our own Workmen and Tradesmen.
PRIOR. Laws, Mr. Dean, are not so much wanting, as the Will to favour our own Goods, and our own People; and surely as you observe, all who please, may determine in their several Families, to use the Produce of our Irish Looms; and in the mean Time I cannot but make this sad Reflection, that if Industry and Labour be the great Standard of Value in most Things, what (under such Discouragements) can our unemploy'd Country be worth, which except our Linens, sends abroad all the Materials for Labour to others, and lies abed like a Spaniard, burning Day-Light, and proud of doing Nothing.
SWIFT. I remember to have Read, when I used to lose Time upon Men and Books, that among the Turks, every Man of them learns some Trade or other. This Fashion they probably borrow'd from the Jews, who made it a Maxim, that he who does not give his Son a Trade, teaches him to be a Thief: And yet till our Protestants Taught the Irish better Manners, a Trade was as seldom learn'd as a Psalter. It is true of late Years this Folly has been pretty much subdued, and Numbers of our Natives have distinguish'd themselves, by their Skill in different Arts and Handicrafts, but till this Humour wears off, of slighting whatever is wrought at Home, it were better they had learn'd to Fast than to Work. We keep Crowds of our Artificers naked who well-deserve to be cloathed; many are as ill hutted as so many Greenlanders or Russian Peasants, who ought to be well housed, if any one thought them worth taking Care of and Encouraging. But what is still more unhappy, Thousands of them are forced for fear of Jails and Beggary, to run from us to wiser Countries, where they and their Arts are well receiv'd and favour'd by our Enemies or Rivals, whose Industry and Exports they Encrease, and thereby help to Starve the Friends they have forsaken. One wou'd expect common Charity to them and ourselves, and common Sense in conducting our general Interests, wou'd not only have remov'd this main Obstacle to the Prosperity of Ireland, but wou'd also put us on setting up all Kinds of new Manufactures, which we still want; let it cost us ever so much for setling them here, and Nursing them till they get Strength, to shift for themselves. It is certain the Publick can hardly pay too dear for such improveable Purchases, for unquestionably where the Advantages are so considerable, saving in such Cases is meanness and madness.
PRIOR. You are ever Tolling the passing Bell of Ireland, and yet my fears that there is too much Reason for all you advance, keep me from opposing you; when you censure the Stupidity of our Management, in regard of every Measure that can hurt us or serve us. I spent half my Life in exclaiming in the same Manner, and I might as well have spoke to the Inhabitants of these Tombstones. There is one Particular, which with Grief I must add to all your Complaints, and it is a very discouraging one as to any Hopes of our Recovery, namely, that this Island is made up of two of the most unhappy Mixtures a Kingdom can consist of, a Multitude of Gentlemen and Beggars. The first have not Time from their Pleasures, and their own petty Interests, to think of serving us, and the others cannot either serve themselves or us, without Wages, Food or Raiment, which they cannot get, unless we allow them to Purchase them by their Labours. In short, Mr. Dean, while our Ladies scorn to wear any Thing that is Irish, and our Gentlemen pride themselves who shall Drink most French Wine; they both Teach their Inferiors the same dreadful Folly, and make them join to enrich their Enemies, Beggar their own Workmen, exalt France, and sink Ireland, and drive every Creature that has Genius or Industry out of it, to Places as we observed before, where they can hope to get the Necessaries of Life by their Industry.
SWIFT. Your mentioning French Wine, Tom, puts me in Mind of another terrible Remora, to the Prosperity of this unfortunate unthinking Country. I have often thought if Ireland had never been allowed to import Foreign Wines, and we had learn'd to Content ourselves, with drinking our own Ale, Beer, Mead and Cyder, and used no other Spirituous Liquors, we shou'd have been the richest, and the honestest, the healthiest, and the happiest Nation under Heaven. It is a melancholy Thought, that poor as we are, and wretched as the Circumstances of most of our Gentry are allowed to be, as to Debts and Incumbrances; yet we actually Drink more French Wine, then all England together, that is so much richer and abler. The Case is, few People drink French Wine in England, but those who have very large Estates; Numbers who have a Thousand per Annum, seldom tasting it; but with us, every Creature, that has tolerable Cloaths upon his Back, and a Guinea in his Pocket, drinks little else, tho' he has scarce the Conveniences of Life for his Family. There are such Multitudes that can't relish Life or their Food without it, that one wou'd wonder how they can all be provided with it. This Difficulty indeed was soon remov'd; for I hear such Crowds now Trade in it, that it is to be fear'd, if their Customers this Year do not make haste to take it off their Hands, it grows so foul, they must Drink it themselves, or they must sell it at last for Vinegar.
PRIOR. I have heard from some Ghosts, who died of the last Vintage, that (to the Infamy of the Year 1753, be it remembered) 8000 Ton of Wine was imported into this Kingdom from France; to the dreadful Drain of our ready Cash, the encrease of the general Poverty of our People, and the Misery of all who Labour and cannot Eat. Allow me to observe here, Mr. Dean, that the Chinese seem to know us well, who send us not only their Teas, but also Cups to Drink it out of; and I have often wondered that the French, don't send us Bottles and Glasses with their Wines, as we have not Industry enough to make them; tho' the very Bottles for 8000 Ton are computed to cost us 67000 l. It is dreadful to look over such Scenes of Destruction, and much more so to know they are remediless, while our People thus court France to undo them, by sending for such vast Quantities of her Claret, at the same Time I hear it is pleaded in behalf of the Importers, that they never were guilty of such a Fault before.