The country was now in a very fever of excitement. Everywhere meetings were held for the purpose of expressing indignation against the imposition, and addresses from brewers, butchers, flying stationers, and townspeople generally, were sent in embodying the public protest against Wood and his coins. Swift fed the flame by publishing songs and ballads well fitted for the street singers, and appealing to the understandings of those who he well knew would effectively carry his message to the very hearths of the poorest labourers. Courtier and student, tradesman and freeman, thief and prostitute, beggar and loafer, all were alike carried by an indignation which launched them on a maelstrom of enthusiasm. So general became the outcry that, in Coxe's words, "the lords justices refused to issue the orders for the circulation of the coin.... People of all descriptions and parties flocked in crowds to the bankers to demand their money, and drew their notes with an express condition to be paid in gold and silver. The publishers of the most treasonable pamphlets escaped with impunity, provided Wood and his patent were introduced into the work. The grand juries could scarcely be induced to find any bill against such delinquents; no witnesses in the prosecution were safe in their persons; and no juries were inclined, or if inclined could venture, to find them guilty."
In such a state of public feeling Swift assumed an entirely new attitude. He promulgated his "Letter to the Whole People of Ireland"--a letter which openly struck at the very root of the whole evil, and laid bare to the public eye the most secret spring of its righteous indignation. It was not Wood nor his coins, it was the freedom of the people of Ireland and their just rights and privileges that were being fought for. He wrote them the letter "to refresh and continue that spirit so seasonably raised among" them, and in order that they should plainly understand "that by the laws of God, of NATURE, of NATIONS, and of your COUNTRY, you ARE, and OUGHT to be as FREE a people as your brethren in England." The King's prerogative had been held threateningly over them. What was the King's prerogative? he asked in effect. It was but the right he enjoyed within the bounds of the law as made by the people in parliament assembled. The law limits him with his subjects. Such prerogative he respected and would take up arms to protect against any who should rebel. But "all government without the consent of the governed, is the very definition of slavery." The condition of the Irish nation was such that it was to be expected eleven armed men should overcome a single man in his shirt; but even if those in power exercise then power to cramp liberty, a man on the rack may still have "the liberty of roaring as loud as he thought fit." And the men on the rack roared to a tune that Walpole had never before heard.
The letter appeared on the 13th October, 1724. The Duke of Grafton had been recalled and Carteret had taken up the reins of government. For reasons, either personal or politic, he took Walpole's side. Coxe goes into considerations on this attitude of Carteret's, but they hardly concern us here. Suffice it that the Lord Lieutenant joined forces with the party in the Irish Privy Council, among whom were Midleton and St. John Brodrick, and on October 27th issued a proclamation offering a reward of £300 for the discovery of the author of this "wicked and malicious pamphlet" which highly reflected on his Majesty and his ministers, and which tended "to alienate the affections of his good subjects of England and Ireland from each other."
[Footnote 1: Not on October 23rd as the earlier editors print it, and as Monck Mason, Scott and Mr. Churton Collins repeat.]
[Footnote 2: See Appendix, No. VI.]
The author's name was not made public, nor was it likely to be. There is no doubt that it was generally known who the author was. In that general knowledge lies the whole pith of the Biblical quotation circulated abroad on the heels of the proclamation: "And the people said unto Saul, shall Jonathan die, who had wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the Lord liveth there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he hath wrought with God this day: So the people rescued Jonathan that he died not."
Swift remained very much alive. Harding, for printing the obnoxious letter, had been arrested and imprisoned, and the Crown proceeded with his prosecution. In such circumstances Swift was not likely to remain idle. On the 26th October he addressed a letter to Lord Chancellor Midleton in defence of the Drapier's writings, and practically acknowledged himself to be the author. It was not actually printed until 1735, but there is no doubt that Midleton received it at the time it was written. What effect it had on the ultimate issue is not known; but Midleton's conduct justifies the confidence Swift placed in him. The Grand Jury of the Michaelmas term of 1724 sat to consider the bill against Harding. On the 11th of November Swift addressed to them his "Seasonable Advice." The bill was thrown out. Whitshed, the Chief Justice, consistently with his action on a previous occasion (see vol. vii.), angrily remonstrated with the jury, demanded of them their reasons for such a decision, and finally dissolved them. This unconstitutional, and even disgraceful conduct, however, served but to accentuate the resentment of the people against Wood and the patent, and the Crown fared no better by a second Grand Jury. The second jury accompanied its rejection of the bill by a presentment against the patent, and the defeat of the "prerogative" became assured. Every where the Drapier was acclaimed the saviour of his country. Any person who could scribble a doggerel or indite a tract rushed into print, and now Whitshed was harnessed to Wood in a pillory of contemptuous ridicule. Indeed, so bitter was the outcry against the Lord Chief Justice, that it is said to have hastened his death. The cities of Dublin, Cork and Waterford passed resolutions declaring the uttering of Wood's halfpence to be highly prejudicial to his Majesty's revenue and to the trades of the kingdom. The Drapier was now the patriot, and the whole nation responded to his appeal to assist him in its own defence.
[Footnote 3: The highly wrought up story about Swift's butler, narrated by Sheridan, Deane Swift and Scott, is nothing but a sample of eighteenth century "sensationalism." Swift never bothered himself about what his servants would say with regard to the authorship of the Letters. Certainly this letter to Midleton proves that he was not at all afraid of the consequences of discovery.]
[Footnote 4: See Appendix V.]
The text of the present reprint is based on that given by Sir Walter Scott, collated with the original edition and with that reprinted in "Fraud Detected" (1725). Faulkner's text of 1735 has also been consulted.
A LETTER TO THE WHOLE PEOPLE OF IRELAND.
MY DEAR COUNTRYMEN,
Having already written three letters upon so disagreeable a subject as Mr. Wood and his halfpence; I conceived my task was at an end: But I find, that cordials must be frequently applied to weak constitutions, political as well as natural. A people long used to hardships, lose by degrees the very notions of liberty, they look upon themselves as creatures at mercy, and that all impositions laid on them by a stronger hand, are, in the phrase of the Report, legal and obligatory. Hence proceeds that poverty and lowness of spirit, to which a kingdom may be subject as well as a particular person. And when Esau came fainting from the field at the point to die, it is no wonder that he sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.
I thought I had sufficiently shewn to all who could want instruction, by what methods they might safely proceed, whenever this coin should be offered to them; and I believe there hath not been for many ages an example of any kingdom so firmly united in a point of great importance, as this of ours is at present, against that detestable fraud. But however, it so happens that some weak people begin to be alarmed anew, by rumours industriously spread. Wood prescribes to the newsmongers in London what they are to write. In one of their papers published here by some obscure printer (and probably with no good design) we are told, that "the Papists in Ireland have entered into an association against his coin," although it be notoriously known, that they never once offered to stir in the matter; so that the two Houses of Parliament, the Privy-council, the great number of corporations, the lord mayor and aldermen of Dublin, the grand juries, and principal gentlemen of several counties are stigmatized in a lump under the name of "Papists."
This impostor and his crew do likewise give out, that, by refusing to receive his dross for sterling, we "dispute the King's prerogative, are grown ripe for rebellion, and ready to shake off the dependency of Ireland upon the crown of England." To countenance which reports he hath published a paragraph in another newspaper, to let us know that "the Lord Lieutenant is ordered to come over immediately to settle his halfpence."
I entreat you, my dear countrymen, not to be under the least concern upon these and the like rumours, which are no more than the last howls of a dog dissected alive, as I hope he hath sufficiently been. These calumnies are the only reserve that is left him. For surely our continued and (almost) unexampled loyalty will never be called in question for not suffering ourselves to be robbed of all that we have, by one obscure ironmonger.
As to disputing the King's prerogative, give me leave to explain to those who are ignorant, what the meaning of that word prerogative is.
The Kings of these realms enjoy several powers, wherein the laws have not interposed: So they can make war and peace without the consent of Parliament; and this is a very great prerogative. But if the Parliament doth not approve of the war, the King must bear the charge of it out of his own purse, and this is as great a check on the crown. So the King hath a prerogative to coin money without consent of Parliament. But he cannot compel the subject to take that money except it be sterling, gold or silver; because herein he is limited by law. Some princes have indeed extended their prerogative further than the law allowed them; wherein however, the lawyers of succeeding ages, as fond as they are of precedents, have never dared to justify them. But to say the truth, it is only of late times that prerogative hath been fixed and ascertained. For whoever reads the histories of England, will find that some former Kings, and these none of the worst, have upon several occasions ventured to control the laws with very little ceremony or scruple, even later than the days of Queen Elizabeth. In her reign that pernicious counsel of sending base money hither, very narrowly failed of losing the kingdom, being complained of by the lord-deputy, the council, and the whole body of the English here: So that soon after her death it was recalled by her successor, and lawful money paid in exchange.
[Footnote 5: See Moryson's "Itinerary" (Pt. ii., pp. 90, 196 and 262), where an account is given which fully bears out Swift.[T.S.]]
Having thus given you some notion of what is meant by the King's "prerogative," as far as a tradesman can be thought capable of explaining it, I will only add the opinion of the great Lord Bacon: That "as God governs the world by the settled laws of nature, which he hath made, and never transcends those laws but upon high important occasions; so among earthly princes, those are the wisest and the best, who govern by the known laws of the country, and seldomest make use of their prerogative."
[Footnote 6: The words in inverted commas appear to be a reminiscence rather than a quotation. I have not traced the sentence, as it stands, in Bacon; but the regular government of the world by the laws of nature, as contrasted with the exceptional disturbance of these laws, is enunciated in Bacon's "Confession of Faith," while the dangers of a strained prerogative are urged in the "Essay on Empire." Bacon certainly gives no support to Swift's limits of the prerogative as regards coinage. [CRAIK.]]
Now, here you may see that the vile accusation of Wood and his accomplices, charging us with "disputing the King's prerogative" by refusing his brass, can have no place, because compelling the subject to take any coin which is not sterling is no part of the King's prerogative, and I am very confident if it were so, we should be the last of his people to dispute it, as well from that inviolable loyalty we have always paid to His Majesty, as from the treatment we might in such a case justly expect from some who seem to think, we have neither common sense nor common senses. But God be thanked, the best of them are only our fellow-subjects, and not our masters. One great merit I am sure we have, which those of English birth can have no pretence to, that our ancestors reduced this kingdom to the obedience of England, for which we have been rewarded with a worse climate, the privilege of being governed by laws to which we do not consent, a ruined trade, a House of Peers without jurisdiction, almost an incapacity for all employments; and the dread of Wood's halfpence.
But we are so far from disputing the King's prerogative in coining, that we own he has power to give a patent to any man for setting his royal image and superscription upon whatever materials he pleases, and liberty to the patentee to offer them in any country from England to Japan, only attended with one small limitation, That nobody alive is obliged to take them.
Upon these considerations I was ever against all recourse to England for a remedy against the present impending evil, especially when I observed that the addresses of both Houses, after long expectance, produced nothing but a REPORT altogether in favour of Wood, upon which I made some observations in a former letter, and might at least have made as many more. For it is a paper of as singular a nature as I ever beheld.
But I mistake; for before this Report was made, His Majesty's most gracious answer to the House of Lords was sent over and printed, wherein there are these words, "granting the patent for coining halfpence and farthings AGREEABLE TO THE PRACTICE OF HIS ROYAL PREDECESSORS, &c." That King Charles 2d. and King James 2d. (AND THEY ONLY) did grant patents for this purpose is indisputable, and I have shewn it at large. Their patents were passed under the great seal of Ireland by references to Ireland, the copper to be coined in Ireland, the patentee was bound on demand to receive his coin back in Ireland, and pay silver and gold in return. Wood's patent was made under the great seal of England, the brass coined in England, not the least reference made to Ireland, the sum immense, and the patentee under no obligation to receive it again and give good money for it: This I only mention, because in my private thoughts I have sometimes made a query, whether the penner of those words in His Majesty's most gracious answer, "agreeable to the practice of his royal predecessors," had maturely considered the several circumstances, which, in my poor opinion seem to make a difference.
Let me now say something concerning the other great cause of some people's fear, as Wood has taught the London newswriter to express it. That "his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant is coming over to settle Wood's halfpence."
We know very well that the Lords Lieutenants for several years past have not thought this kingdom worthy the honour of their residence, longer than was absolutely necessary for the King's business, which consequently wanted no speed in the dispatch; and therefore it naturally fell into most men's thoughts, that a new governor coming at an unusual time must portend some unusual business to be done, especially if the common report be true, that the Parliament prorogued to I know not when, is by a new summons (revoking that prorogation) to assemble soon after his arrival: For which extraordinary proceeding the lawyers on t'other side the water have by great good fortune found two precedents.
All this being granted, it can never enter into my head that so little a creature as Wood could find credit enough with the King and his ministers to have the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland sent hither in a hurry upon his errand.
For let us take the whole matter nakedly as it lies before us, without the refinements of some people, with which we have nothing to do. Here is a patent granted under the great seal of England, upon false suggestions, to one William Wood for coining copper halfpence for Ireland: The Parliament here, upon apprehensions of the worst consequences from the said patent, address the King to have it recalled; this is refused, and a committee of the Privy-council report to His Majesty, that Wood has performed the conditions of his patent. He then is left to do the best he can with his halfpence; no man being obliged to receive them; the people here, being likewise left to themselves, unite as one man, resolving they will have nothing to do with his ware. By this plain account of the fact it is manifest, that the King and his ministry are wholly out of the case, and the matter is left to be disputed between him and us. Will any man therefore attempt to persuade me, that a Lord Lieutenant is to be dispatched over in great haste before the ordinary time, and a Parliament summoned by anticipating a prorogation, merely to put an hundred thousand pounds into the pocket of a sharper, by the ruin of a most loyal kingdom.
But supposing all this to be true. By what arguments could a Lord Lieutenant prevail on the same Parliament which addressed with so much zeal and earnestness against this evil, to pass it into a law? I am sure their opinion of Wood and his project is not mended since the last prorogation; and supposing those methods should be used which detractors tell us have been sometimes put in practice for gaining votes. It is well known that in this kingdom there are few employments to be given, and if there were more, it is as well known to whose share they must fall.
But because great numbers of you are altogether ignorant in the affairs of your country, I will tell you some reasons why there are so few employments to be disposed of in this kingdom. All considerable offices for life here are possessed by those to whom the reversions were granted, and these have been generally followers of the chief governors, or persons who had interest in the Court of England. So the Lord Berkeley of Stratton holds that great office of master of the rolls, the Lord Palmerstown is first remembrancer worth near 2000l. per ann. One Dodington secretary to the Earl of Pembroke, begged the reversion of clerk of the pells worth 2500l. a year, which he now enjoys by the death of the Lord Newtown. Mr. Southwell is secretary of state, and the Earl of Burlington lord high treasurer of Ireland by inheritance. These are only a few among many others which I have been told of, but cannot remember. Nay the reversion of several employments during pleasure are granted the same way. This among many others is a circumstance whereby the kingdom of Ireland is distinguished from all other nations upon earth, and makes it so difficult an affair to get into a civil employ, that Mr. Addison was forced to purchase an old obscure place, called keeper of the records of Bermingham's Tower of ten pounds a year, and to get a salary of 400l. annexed to it, though all the records there are not worth half-a-crown, either for curiosity or use. And we lately saw a favourite secretary descend to be master of the revels, which by his credit and extortion he hath made pretty considerable. I say nothing of the under-treasurership worth about 8000l. a year, nor the commissioners of the revenue, four of whom generally live in England; For I think none of these are granted in reversion. But the test is, that I have known upon occasion some of these absent officers as keen against the interest of Ireland as if they had never been indebted to her for a single groat.
[Footnote 7: Berkeley was one of the Junta in Harley's administration of 1710-1714. He had married Sir John Temple's daughter. His connection with a person so disliked by Swift may account for his inclusion here. [T.S.]]
[Footnote 8: This was Henry Temple, first Viscount Palmerston, with whom Swift later had an unpleasant correspondence. Palmerston could not have been more than seven years old when he was appointed (September 21st, 1680), with Luke King, chief remembrancer of the Court of Exchequer in Ireland, for their joint lives. King died in 1716, but the grant was renewed to Palmerston and his son Henry for life. He was raised to the peerage as Baron Temple of Mount Temple, and Viscount Palmerston of Palmerston, in March, 1722-1723. Sir Charles Hanbury Williams called him "Little Broadbottom Palmerston." He died in 1757. [T.S.] ]
[Footnote 9: George Bubb (1691-1762) was Chief Secretary during Wharton's Lord lieutenancy in 1709. He took the name of Doddington on the death of his uncle in 1720. [T.S.]]
[Footnote 10: Thomas Herbert, eighth Earl of Pembroke (1656-1733), had preceded the Earl of Wharton as Lord lieutenant of Ireland. He bears a high character in history and on four successive coronations, namely, those of William and Mary, Anne, George I. and George II., he acted as sword carrier. Although a Tory, even Macaulay acknowledges Pembroke's high breeding and liberality. [T.S.]]
[Footnote 11: This is the Edward Southwell to whom Archbishop King wrote the letters quoted from Monck Mason in previous notes. He was the son of Sir Robert Southwell, the diplomatist and friend of Sir William Temple, to whom Swift bore a letter of introduction from the latter, soliciting the office of amanuensis. In June, 1720, Edward Southwell had his salary as secretary increased by £300; and in July of the same year the office was granted to him and his son for life. The Southwell family first came to Ireland in the reign of James I., at the time of the plantation of Munster. [T.S.]]
[Footnote 12: Richard Boyle, third Earl of Burlington (or Bridlington of Yorks), and fourth Earl of Cork (1695-1753), was appointed Lord High-Treasurer of Ireland in August, 1715. His great-grandfather, the first Earl of Cork, had held the same office in 1631. The Lord-lieutenancy of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and the office of Custos Rotulorum of the North and West Ridings, seem also to have been inheritances of this family. The third Earl had a taste for architecture, and spent enormous sums of money in the reconstruction of Burlington House, a building that was freely satirized by Hogarth and Lord Hervey. His taste, however, seems to have run to the ornamental rather than the useful, and its gratification involved him in such serious financial difficulties, that he was compelled to sell some of his Irish estates. Swift notes that "My Lord Burlington is now selling in one article £9,000 a year in Ireland for £200,000 which must pay his debts" (Scott's edit. 1814, vol. xix., p. 129). [T.S.]]
[Footnote 13: This post was found for Addison on his appointment in 1709 as secretary to the Earl of Wharton, Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. Tickell, in his preface to his edition of Addison's works, says the post was granted to Addison as a mark of Queen Anne's special favour. Bermingham's Tower was that part of Dublin Castle in which the records were kept. [T.S.]]
[Footnote 14: Mr. Hopkins, secretary to the Duke of Grafton. The exactions made by this gentleman upon the players, in his capacity of Master of the Revels, are the subject of two satirical poems. [S.]
This may have been John Hopkins, the second son of the Bishop of Londonderry, who was the author of "Amasia," dedicated to the Duchess of Grafton. [T.S.]]
I confess, I have been sometimes tempted to wish that this project of Wood might succeed, because I reflected with some pleasure what a jolly crew it would bring over among us of lords and squires, and pensioners of both sexes, and officers civil and military, where we should live together as merry and sociable as beggars, only with this one abatement, that we should neither have meat to feed, nor manufactures to clothe us, unless we could be content to prance about in coats of mail, or eat brass as ostriches do iron.
I return from this digression to that which gave me the occasion of making it: And I believe you are now convinced, that if the Parliament of Ireland were as temptable as any other assembly within a mile of Christendom (which God forbid) yet the managers must of necessity fail for want of tools to work with. But I will yet go one step further, by supposing that a hundred new employments were erected on purpose to gratify compilers; yet still an insuperable difficulty would remain; for it happens, I know not how, that money is neither Whig nor Tory, neither of town nor country party, and it is not improbable, that a gentleman would rather choose to live upon his own estate which brings him gold and silver, than with the addition of an employment, when his rents and salary must both be paid in Wood's brass, at above eighty per cent. discount.
For these and many other reasons, I am confident you need not be under the least apprehensions from the sudden expectation of the Lord Lieutenant, while we continue in our present hearty disposition; to alter which there is no suitable temptation can possibly be offered: And if, as I have often asserted from the best authority, the law hath not left a power in the crown to force any money except sterling upon the subject, much less can the crown devolve such a power upon another.
[Footnote 15: Lord Carteret, afterwards Earl Granville. See note to "A Vindication of Lord Carteret," in vol. vii. of present edition of Swift's works. [T.S.]]
This I speak with the utmost respect to the person and dignity of his Excellency the Lord Carteret, whose character hath been given me by a gentleman that hath known him from his first appearance in the world: That gentleman describes him as a young nobleman of great accomplishments, excellent learning, regular in his life, and of much spirit and vivacity. He hath since, as I have heard, been employed abroad, was principal secretary of state, and is now about the 37th year of his age appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. From such a governor this kingdom may reasonably hope for as much prosperity as, under so many discouragements, it can be capable of receiving.
[Footnote 16: Carteret was an old friend of Swift. On the Earl's appointment to the Lord-lieutenancy, in April, 1724, Swift wrote him a letter on the matter of Wood's halfpence, in which he took the liberty of "an old humble servant, and one who always loved and esteemed" him, to make known to him the apprehensions the people were under concerning Mr. Wood's patent. "Neither is it doubted," he wrote, "that when your excellency shall be thoroughly informed, your justice and compassion for an injured people, will force you to employ your credit for their relief." Swift waited for more than a month, and on receiving no reply, sent a second letter, which Sir Henry Craik justly calls, "a masterpiece of its kind." It was as follows:
"June 9, 1724.
"It is above a month since I took the boldness of writing to your excellency, upon a subject wherein the welfare of this kingdom is highly concerned.
"I writ at the desire of several considerable persons here, who could not be ignorant that I had the honour of being well known to you.
"I could have wished your excellency had condescended so far, as to let one of your under clerks have signified to me that a letter was received.
"I have been long out of the world; but have not forgotten what used to pass among those I lived with while I was in it: and I can say, that during the experience of many years, and many changes in affairs, your excellency, and one more, who is not worthy to be compared to you, are the only great persons that ever refused to answer a letter from me, without regard to business, party, or greatness; and if I had not a peculiar esteem for your personal qualities, I should think myself to be acting a very inferior part in making this complaint.
"I never was so humble, as to be vain upon my acquaintance with men in power, and always rather chose to avoid it when I was not called. Neither were their power or titles sufficient, without merit, to make me cultivate them; of which I have witnesses enough left, after all the havoc made among them, by accidents of time, or by changes of persons, measures, and opinions.
"I know not how your conception of yourself may alter, by every new high station; but mine must continue the same, or alter for the worse.
"I often told a great minister, whom you well know, that I valued him for being the same man through all the progress of power and place. I expected the like in your lordship; and still hope that I shall be the only person who will ever find it otherwise.
"I pray God to direct your excellency in all your good undertakings, and especially in your government of this kingdom.
"I shall trouble you no more; but remain, with great respect, my Lord,
"Your excellency's most obedient,
"and most humble servant,
This letter brought an immediate reply from Carteret, who confessed himself in the wrong for his silence, and trusted he had not forfeited Swift's friendship by it. With regard to Mr. Wood's patent, he said that the matter was under examination, "and till that is over I am not informed sufficiently to make any other judgment of the matter, than that which I am naturally led to make, by the general aversion which appears to it in the whole nation." Swift replied in a charming vein, and elegantly put his scolding down to the testiness of old age. His excellency had humbled him. "Therefore, I fortel that you, who could so easily conquer so captious a person, and of so little consequence, will quickly subdue this whole kingdom to love and reverence you" (Scott's ed. 1824, vol. xvi., pp. 430-435). [T.S.]]
It is true indeed, that within the memory of man, there have been governors of so much dexterity, as to carry points of terrible consequence to this kingdom, by their power with those who were in office, and by their arts in managing or deluding others with oaths, affability, and even with dinners. If Wood's brass had in those times been upon the anvil, it is obvious enough to conceive what methods would have been taken. Depending persons would have been told in plain terms, that it was a "service expected from them, under pain of the public business being put into more complying hands." Others would be allured by promises. To the country gentleman, besides good words, burgundy and closeting. It would perhaps have been hinted how "kindly it would be taken to comply with a royal patent, though it were not compulsory," that if any inconveniences ensued, it might be made up with other "graces or favours hereafter." That "gentlemen ought to consider whether it were prudent or safe to disgust England:" They would be desired to "think of some good bills for encouraging of trade, and setting the poor to work, some further acts against Popery and for uniting Protestants." There would be solemn engagements that we should "never be troubled with above forty thousand pounds in his coin, and all of the best and weightiest sort, for which we should only give our manufactures in exchange, and keep our gold and silver at home." Perhaps a "seasonable report of some invasion would have been spread in the most proper juncture," which is a great smoother of rubs in public proceedings; and we should have been told that "this was no time to create differences when the kingdom was in danger."
These, I say, and the like methods would in corrupt times have been taken to let in this deluge of brass among us; and I am confident would even then have not succeeded, much less under the administration of so excellent a person as the Lord Carteret, and in a country where the people of all ranks, parties and denominations are convinced to a man, that the utter undoing of themselves and their posterity for ever will be dated from the admission of that execrable coin; that if it once enters, it can be no more confined to a small or moderate quantity, than the plague can be confined to a few families, and that no equivalent can be given by any earthly power, any more than a dead carcass can be recovered to life by a cordial.
There is one comfortable circumstance in this universal opposition to Mr. Wood, that the people sent over hither from England to fill up our vacancies ecclesiastical, civil and military, are all on our side: Money, the great divider of the world, hath by a strange revolution, been the great uniter of a most divided people. Who would leave a hundred pounds a year in England (a country of freedom) to be paid a thousand in Ireland out of Wood's exchequer. The gentleman they have lately made primate would never quit his seat in an English House of Lords, and his preferments at Oxford and Bristol, worth twelve hundred pounds a year, for four times the denomination here, but not half the value; therefore I expect to hear he will be as good an Irishman, upon this article, as any of his brethren, or even of us who have had the misfortune to be born in this island. For those, who, in the common phrase, do not "come hither to learn the language," would never change a better country for a worse, to receive brass instead of gold.
[Footnote 17: Hugh Boulter (1672-1742) was appointed Archbishop of Armagh, August 31st, 1724. He had been a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and had served the King as chaplain in Hanover, in 1719. In this latter year he was promoted to the Bishopric of Bristol, and the Deanery of Christ Church, Oxford. His appointment as Primate of Ireland, was in accordance with Walpole's plan for governing Ireland from England. Walpole had no love for Carteret, and no faith in his power or willingness to aid him in his policy. Indeed, Carteret was sent to Ireland to be got out of the way. He was governor nominally; the real governor being Walpole in the person of the new Primate. What were Boulter's instructions may be gathered from the manner in which he carried out his purpose. Of a strong character and of untiring energy, Boulter set about his work in a fashion which showed that Walpole had chosen well. Nothing of any importance that transpired in Ireland, no fact of any interest about the individuals in office, no movement of any suspected or suspicious person escaped his vigilance. His letters testify to an unabating zeal for the English government of Irish affairs by Englishmen in the English interest. His perseverance knew no obstacles; he continued against all difficulties in his dogged and yet able manner to establish some order out of the chaos of Ireland's condition. But his government was the outcome of a profound conviction that only in the interest of England should Ireland be governed. If Ireland could be made prosperous and contented, so much more good would accrue to England. But that prosperity and that contentment had nothing whatever to do with safeguarding Irish institutions, or recognizing the rights of the Irish people. If he gave way to popular opinion at all, it was because it was either expedient or beneficial to the English interest. If he urged, as he did, the founding of Protestant Charter schools, it was because this would strengthen the English power. To preserve that he obtained the enactment of a statute which excluded Roman Catholics from the legal profession and the offices of legal administration; and another act of his making actually disfranchised them altogether. Boulter was also a member of the Irish Privy Council, and Lord Justice of Ireland. The latter office he held under the vice-regencies of Carteret, Dorset and Devonshire. His secretary, Ambrose Philips, had been connected with him, in earlier years, in contributing to a periodical entitled, "The Free Thinker," which appeared in 1718. Philips, in 1769, supervised the publication of Boulter's "Letters," which were published at Oxford. [T.S.]]
Another slander spread by Wood and his emissaries is, that by opposing him we discover an inclination to "shake off our dependence upon the crown of England." Pray observe how important a person is this same William Wood, and how the public weal of two kingdoms is involved in his private interest. First, all those who refuse to take his coin are Papists; for he tells us that "none but Papists are associated against him;" Secondly, they "dispute the King's prerogative;" Thirdly, "they are ripe for rebellion," and Fourthly, they are going to "shake off their dependence upon the crown of England;" That is to say, "they are going to choose another king;" For there can be no other meaning in this expression, however some may pretend to strain it.
And this gives me an opportunity of explaining, to those who are ignorant, another point, which hath often swelled in my breast. Those who come over hither to us from England, and some weak people among ourselves, whenever in discourse we make mention of liberty and property, shake their heads, and tell us, that Ireland is a "depending kingdom," as if they would seem, by this phrase, to intend that the people of Ireland is in some state of slavery or dependence different from those of England; Whereas a "depending kingdom" is a modern term of art, unknown, as I have heard, to all ancient civilians, and writers upon government; and Ireland is on the contrary called in some statutes an "imperial crown," as held only from God; which is as high a style as any kingdom is capable of receiving. Therefore by this expression, a "depending kingdom," there is no more understood than that by a statute made here in the 33d year of Henry 8th. "The King and his successors are to be kings imperial of this realm as united and knit to the imperial crown of England." I have looked over all the English and Irish statutes without finding any law that makes Ireland depend upon England, any more than England does upon Ireland. We have indeed obliged ourselves to have the same king with them, and consequently they are obliged to have the same king with us. For the law was made by our own Parliament, and our ancestors then were not such fools (whatever they were in the preceding reign) to bring themselves under I know not what dependence, which is now talked of without any ground of law, reason or common sense.
[Footnote 18: This was the passage selected by the government upon which to found its prosecution. As Sir Walter Scott points out, it "contains the pith and essence of the whole controversy." [T.S.]]
Let whoever think otherwise, I M.B. Drapier, desire to be excepted, for I declare, next under God, I depend only on the King my sovereign, and on the laws of my own country; and I am so far from depending upon the people of England, that if they should ever rebel against my sovereign (which God forbid) I would be ready at the first command from His Majesty to take arms against them, as some of my countrymen did against theirs at Preston. And if such a rebellion should prove so successful as to fix the Pretender on the throne of England, I would venture to transgress that statute so far as to lose every drop of my blood to hinder him from being King of Ireland.
[Footnote 19: For a humorous story which accounts for Swift's use of the words "desire to be excepted," see the Drapier's sixth letter. [T.S.]]
[Footnote 20: Great offence was taken at this paragraph. Swift refers to it again in his sixth letter. Sir Henry Craik, in his "Life of Jonathan Swift" (vol. ii., p. 74), has an acute note on this paragraph, and the one already alluded to in the sixth letter. I take the liberty of transcribing it: "The manoeuvre by which Swift managed to associate a suspicion of Jacobitism with his opponents, is one peculiarly characteristic; and so is the skill with which, in the next letter, he meets the objections to this paragraph, by half offering an extent of submission that might equally be embarrassing--a submission even to Jacobitism, if Jacobitism were to become strong enough. He does not commit himself, however: he fears a 'spiteful interpretation.' In short, he places the English Cabinet on the horns of a dilemma. 'Am I to resist Jacobitism? Then what becomes of your doctrine of Ireland's dependency?' or, 'Am I to become a Jacobite, if England bids me? Then what becomes of your Protestant succession? Must even that give way to your desire to tyrannize?'" [T.S.]]
'Tis true indeed, that within the memory of man, the Parliaments of England have sometimes assumed the power of binding this kingdom by laws enacted there, wherein they were at first openly opposed (as far as truth, reason and justice are capable of opposing) by the famous Mr. Molineux, an English gentleman born here, as well as by several of the greatest patriots, and best Whigs in England; but the love and torrent of power prevailed. Indeed the arguments on both sides were invincible. For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery: But in fact, eleven men well armed will certainly subdue one single man in his shirt. But I have done. For those who have used power to cramp liberty have gone so far as to resent even the liberty of complaining, although a man upon the rack was never known to be refused the liberty of roaring as loud as he thought fit.
[Footnote 21: Particularly in the reign of William III., when this doctrine of English supremacy was assumed, in order to discredit the authority of the Irish Parliament summoned by James II. [S.]
See note on Poyning's Law, p. 77. [T.S.]]
[Footnote 22: See note on p. 167. [T.S.]]
And as we are apt to sink too much under unreasonable fears, so we are too soon inclined to be raised by groundless hopes (according to the nature of all consumptive bodies like ours) thus, it hath been given about for several days past, that somebody in England empowered a second somebody to write to a third somebody here to assure us, that we "should no more be troubled with those halfpence." And this is reported to have been done by the same person, who was said to have sworn some months ago, that he would "ram them down our throats" (though I doubt they would stick in our stomachs) but whichever of these reports is true or false, it is no concern of ours. For in this point we have nothing to do with English ministers, and I should be sorry it lay in their power to redress this grievance or to enforce it: For the "Report of the Committee" hath given me a surfeit. The remedy is wholly in your own hands, and therefore I have digressed a little in order to refresh and continue that spirit so seasonably raised amongst you, and to let you see that by the laws of GOD, of NATURE, of NATIONS, and of your own COUNTRY, you ARE and OUGHT to be as FREE a people as your brethren in England.
If the pamphlets published at London by Wood and his journeymen in defence of his cause, were reprinted here, and that our countrymen could be persuaded to read them, they would convince you of his wicked design more than all I shall ever be able to say. In short I make him a perfect saint in comparison of what he appears to be from the writings of those whom he hires to justify his project. But he is so far master of the field (let others guess the reason) that no London printer dare publish any paper written in favour of Ireland, and here nobody hath yet been so bold as to publish anything in favour of him.
There was a few days ago a pamphlet sent me of near 50 pages written in favour of Mr. Wood and his coinage, printed in London; it is not worth answering, because probably it will never be published here: But it gave me an occasion to reflect upon an unhappiness we lie under, that the people of England are utterly ignorant of our case, which however is no wonder, since it is a point they do not in the least concern themselves about, farther than perhaps as a subject of discourse in a coffee-house when they have nothing else to talk of. For I have reason to believe that no minister ever gave himself the trouble of reading any papers written in our defence, because I suppose their opinions are already determined, and are formed wholly upon the reports of Wood and his accomplices; else it would be impossible that any man could have the impudence to write such a pamphlet as I have mentioned.
Our neighbours whose understandings are just upon a level with ours (which perhaps are none of the brightest) have a strong contempt for most nations, but especially for Ireland: They look upon us as a sort of savage Irish, whom our ancestors conquered several hundred years ago, and if I should describe the Britons to you as they were in Caesar's time, when they painted their bodies, or clothed themselves with the skins of beasts, I would act full as reasonably as they do: However they are so far to be excused in relation to the present subject, that, hearing only one side of the cause, and having neither opportunity nor curiosity to examine the other, they believe a lie merely for their ease, and conclude, because Mr. Wood pretends to have power, he hath also reason on his side.
Therefore to let you see how this case is represented in England by Wood and his adherents, I have thought it proper to extract out of that pamphlet a few of those notorious falsehoods in point of fact and reasoning contained therein; the knowledge whereof will confirm my countrymen in their own right sentiments, when they will see by comparing both, how much their enemies are in the wrong.
First, The writer, positively asserts, "That Wood's halfpence were current among us for several months with the universal approbation of all people, without one single gainsayer, and we all to a man thought ourselves happy in having them."
Secondly, He affirms, "That we were drawn into a dislike of them only by some cunning evil-designing men among us, who opposed this patent of Wood to get another for themselves."
Thirdly, That "those who most declared at first against Wood's patent were the very men who intended to get another for their own advantage."
Fourthly, That "our Parliament and Privy-council, the Lord Mayor and aldermen of Dublin, the grand juries and merchants, and in short the whole kingdom, nay the very dogs" (as he expresseth it) "were fond of those halfpence, till they were inflamed by those few designing persons aforesaid."
Fifthly, He says directly, That "all those who opposed the halfpence were Papists and enemies to King George."
Thus far I am confident the most ignorant among you can safely swear from your own knowledge that the author is a most notorious liar in every article; the direct contrary being so manifest to the whole kingdom, that if occasion required, we might get it confirmed under five hundred thousand hands.
Sixthly, He would persuade us, that "if we sell five shillings worth of our goods or manufactures for two shillings and fourpence worth of copper, although the copper were melted down, and that we could get five shillings in gold or silver for the said goods, yet to take the said two shillings and fourpence in copper would be greatly for our advantage."
And Lastly, He makes us a very fair offer, as empowered by Wood, that "if we will take off two hundred thousand pounds in his halfpence for our goods, and likewise pay him three per cent. interest for thirty years, for an hundred and twenty thousand pounds (at which he computes the coinage above the intrinsic value of the copper) for the loan of his coin, he, will after that time give us good money for what halfpence will be then left."
Let me place this offer in as clear a light as I can to shew the unsupportable villainy and impudence of that incorrigible wretch. First (says he) "I will send two hundred thousand pounds of my coin into your country, the copper I compute to be in real value eighty thousand pounds, and I charge you with an hundred and twenty thousand pounds for the coinage; so that you see I lend you an hundred and twenty thousand pounds for thirty years, for which you shall pay me three per cent. That is to say three thousand six hundred pounds per ann. which in thirty years will amount to an hundred and eight thousand pounds. And when these thirty years are expired, return me my copper and I will give you good money for it."
This is the proposal made to us by Wood in that pamphlet written by one of his commissioners; and the author is supposed to be the same infamous Coleby one of his under-swearers at the committee of council, who was tried for robbing the treasury here, where he was an under-clerk.
[Footnote 23: See note on p. 61. [T.S.]]
By this proposal he will first receive two hundred thousand pounds, in goods or sterling for as much copper as he values at eighty thousand pounds, but in reality not worth thirty thousand pounds. Secondly, He will receive for interest an hundred and eight thousand pounds. And when our children came thirty years hence to return his halfpence upon his executors (for before that time he will be probably gone to his own place) those executors will very reasonably reject them as raps and counterfeits, which probably they will be, and millions of them of his own coinage.
Methinks I am fond of such a dealer as this who mends every day upon our hands, like a Dutch reckoning, where if you dispute the unreasonableness and exorbitance of the bill, the landlord shall bring it up every time with new additions.
Although these and the like pamphlets published by Wood in London be altogether unknown here, where nobody could read them without as much indignation as contempt would allow, yet I thought it proper to give you a specimen how the man employs his time, where he rides alone without one creature to contradict him, while our FEW FRIENDS there wonder at our silence, and the English in general, if they think of this matter at all, impute our refusal to wilfulness or disaffection, just as Wood and his hirelings are pleased to represent.
But although our arguments are not suffered to be printed in England, yet the consequence will be of little moment. Let Wood endeavour to persuade the people there that we ought to receive his coin, and let me convince our people here that they ought to reject it under pain of our utter undoing. And then let him do his best and his worst.
Before I conclude, I must beg leave in all humility to tell Mr. Wood, that he is guilty of great indiscretion, by causing so honourable a name as that of Mr. Walpole to be mentioned so often, and in such a manner, upon his occasion: A short paper printed at Bristol and reprinted here reports Mr. Wood to say, that he "wonders at the impudence and insolence of the Irish in refusing his coin, and what he will do when Mr. Walpole comes to town." Where, by the way, he is mistaken, for it is the true English people of Ireland who refuse it, although we take it for granted that the Irish will do so too whenever they are asked. He orders it to be printed in another paper, that "Mr. Walpole will cram this brass down our throats:" Sometimes it is given out that we must "either take these halfpence or eat our brogues," And, in another newsletter but of yesterday, we read that the same great man "hath sworn to make us swallow his coin in fire-balls."
This brings to my mind the known story of a Scotchman, who receiving sentence of death, with all the circumstances of hanging, beheading, quartering, embowelling and the like, cried out, "What need all this COOKERY?" And I think we have reason to ask the same question; for if we believe Wood, here is a dinner getting ready for us, and you see the bill of fare, and I am sorry the drink was forgot, which might easily be supplied with melted lead and flaming pitch.
What vile words are these to put into the mouth of a great councillor, in high trust with His Majesty, and looked upon as a prime-minister. If Mr. Wood hath no better a manner of representing his patrons, when I come to be a great man, he shall never be suffered to attend at my levee. This is not the style of a great minister, it savours too much of the kettle and the furnace, and came entirely out of Mr. Wood's forge.
As for the threat of making us eat our brogues, we need not be in pain; for if his coin should pass, that unpolite covering for the feet, would no longer be a national reproach; because then we should have neither shoe nor brogue left in the kingdom. But here the falsehood of Mr. Wood is fairly detected; for I am confident Mr. Walpole never heard of a brogue in his whole life.
[Footnote 24: A biting sneer at Walpole's ignorance of Irish affairs. [T.S.]]
As to "swallowing these halfpence in fire-balls," it is a story equally improbable. For to execute this operation the whole stock of Mr. Wood's coin and metal must be melted down and moulded into hollow balls with wild-fire, no bigger than a reasonable throat can be able to swallow. Now the metal he hath prepared, and already coined will amount at least fifty millions of halfpence to be swallowed by a million and a half of people; so that allowing two halfpence to each ball, there will be about seventeen balls of wild-fire a-piece to be swallowed by every person in this kingdom, and to administer this dose, there cannot be conveniently fewer than fifty thousand operators, allowing one operator to every thirty, which, considering the squeamishness of some stomachs and the peevishness of young children, is but reasonable. Now, under correction of better judgments, I think the trouble and charge of such an experiment would exceed the profit, and therefore I take this report to be spurious, or at least only a new scheme of Mr. Wood himself, which to make it pass the better in Ireland he would father upon a minister of state.
But I will now demonstrate beyond all contradiction that Mr. Walpole is against this project of Mr. Wood, and is an entire friend to Ireland, only by this one invincible argument, that he has the universal opinion of being a wise man, an able minister, and in all his proceedings pursuing the true interest of the King his master: And that as his integrity is above all corruption, so is his fortune above all temptation. I reckon therefore we are perfectly safe from that corner, and shall never be under the necessity of contending with so formidable a power, but be left to possess our brogues and potatoes in peace as remote from thunder as we are from Jupiter.
My dear countrymen,
Your loving fellow-subject,
fellow-sufferer and humble servant.
Oct. 13. 1724.
SEASONABLE ADVICE TO THE GRAND JURY.
SEASONABLE ADVICE TO THE GRAND JURY,
CONCERNING THE BILL PREPARING AGAINST THE PRINTER OF THE DRAPIER'S FOURTH LETTER.
Since a bill is preparing for the grand jury, to find against the printer of the Drapier's last letter, there are several things maturely to be considered by those gentlemen, before whom this bill is to come, before they determine upon it.
FIRST, they are to consider, that the author of the said pamphlet, did write three other discourses on the same subject; which instead of being censured were universally approved by the whole nation, and were allowed to have raised, and continued that spirit among us, which hitherto hath kept out Wood's coin: For all men will allow, that if those pamphlets had not been writ, his coin must have overrun the nation some months ago.
SECONDLY, it is to be considered that this pamphlet, against which a proclamation hath been issued, is writ by the same author; that nobody ever doubted the innocence, and goodness of his design, that he appears through the whole tenor of it, to be a loyal subject to His Majesty, and devoted to the House of Hanover, and declares himself in a manner peculiarly zealous against the Pretender; And if such a writer in four several treatises on so nice a subject, where a royal patent is concerned, and where it was necessary to speak of England and of liberty, should in one or two places happen to let fall an inadvertent expression, it would be hard to condemn him after all the good he hath done; Especially when we consider, that he could have no possible design in view, either of honour or profit, but purely the GOOD of his country.
THIRDLY, it ought to be well considered, whether any one expression in the said pamphlet, be really liable to just exception, much less to be found "wicked, malicious, seditious, reflecting upon His Majesty and his ministry," &c.
The two points in that pamphlet, which it is said the prosecutors intend chiefly to fix on, are, First, where the author mentions the "penner of the King's answer." First, it is well known, His Majesty is not master of the English tongue, and therefore it is necessary that some other person should be employed to pen what he hath to say, or write in that language. Secondly, His Majesty's answer is not in the first person, but the third. It is not said "WE are concerned," or, "OUR royal predecessors," but "HIS MAJESTY is concerned;" and "HIS royal predecessors." By which it is plain these are properly not the words of His Majesty; but supposed to be taken from him, and transmitted hither by one of his ministers. Thirdly it will be easily seen, that the author of the pamphlet delivers his sentiments upon this particular, with the utmost caution and respect, as any impartial reader will observe.
The second paragraph, which it is said will be taken notice of as a motive to find the bill, is, what the author says of Ireland being a depending kingdom. He explains all the dependency he knows of it, which is a law made in Ireland, whereby it is enacted that "whoever is King of England, shall be King of Ireland." Before this explanation be condemned, and the bill found upon it, it would be proper, that some lawyers should fully inform the jury what other law there is, either statute or common for this dependency, and if there be no law, there is no transgression.
The Fourth thing very maturely to be considered by the jury, is, what influence their finding the bill may have upon the kingdom. The people in general find no fault in the Drapier's last book, any more than in the three former, and therefore when they hear it is condemned by a grand jury of Dublin, they will conclude it is done in favour of Wood's coin, they will think we of this town have changed our minds, and intend to take those halfpence, and therefore that it will be in vain for them to stand out. So that the question comes to this, Which will be of the worst consequence, to let pass one or two expressions, at the worst only unwary, in a book written for the public service; or to leave a free open passage for Wood's brass to overrun us, by which we shall be undone for ever.
The fifth thing to be considered, is, that the members of the grand jury being merchants, and principal shopkeepers, can have no suitable temptation offered them, as a recompense for the mischief they will suffer by letting in this coin, nor can be at any loss or danger by rejecting the bill: They do not expect any employments in the state, to make up in their own private advantage, the destruction of their country. Whereas those who go about to advise, entice, or threaten them to find that bill, have great employments, which they have a mind to keep, or to get greater, which was likewise the case of all those who signed to have the author prosecuted. And therefore it is known, that his grace the Lord Archbishop of Dublin, so renowned for his piety, and wisdom, and love of his country, absolutely refused to condemn the book, or the author.
[Footnote 1: The proclamation against the Drapier's fourth letter as given in Appendix IV. at the end of this volume, does not bear Archbishop King's signature. In a letter from that prelate, written on November 24th, 1724, to Samuel Molineux, secretary to the Prince of Wales, it appears that other persons of influence also refrained from sanctioning it. The following is an extract from this letter as given by Monck Mason for the first time:
"A great many pamphlets have been writ about it [Wood's patent], but I am told none of them are permitted to be printed in England. Two have come out since my Lord Lieutenant came here, written with sobriety, modesty, and great force, in my opinion, which put the matter in a fair and clear light, though not with all the advantage of which it is capable; four were printed before, by somebody that calleth himself a Drapier which were in a ludicrous and satyrical style; against the last of these the Lord Lieutenant procured a proclamation, signed by 17 of the Council; offering £300 for discovering the author. I thought the premium excessive, so I and three more refused to sign it, but declared, that if his excellency would secure us from the brass money, I would sign it, or any other, tending only to the disadvantage of private persons; but, till we had that security, I would look on this proclamation no otherwise than as a step towards passing that base and mischievous coin, and designed to intimidate those who opposed the passing it; and I declared, that I would not approve of anything that might countenance, or encourage such a ruinous project; that issuing such a proclamation would make all believe, that the government was engaged to support Wood's pretensions, and that would neither be for their honour nor ease. I was not able to stop the proclamation, but my refusing to sign it has not been without effect." ("History of St. Patrick's," p. 344, note n.). [T.S.]]
Lastly, it ought to be considered what consequence the finding the bill, may have upon a poor man perfectly innocent, I mean the printer. A lawyer may pick out expressions and make them liable to exception, where no other man is able to find any. But how can it be supposed, that an ignorant printer can be such a critic? He knew the author's design was honest, and approved by the whole kingdom, he advised with friends, who told him there was no harm in the book, and he could see none himself. It was sent him in an unknown hand, but the same in which he received the three former. He and his wife have offered to take their oaths that they knew not the author; and therefore to find a bill, that may bring a punishment upon the innocent, will appear very hard, to say no worse. For it will be impossible to find the author, unless he will please to discover himself, although I wonder he ever concealed his name. But I suppose what he did at first out of modesty, he now continues to do out of prudence. God protect us and him!
I will conclude all with a fable, ascribed to Demosthenes. He had served the people of Athens with great fidelity in the station of an orator, when upon a certain occasion, apprehending to be delivered over to his enemies, he told the Athenians, his countrymen, the following story. Once upon a time the wolves desired a league with the shepherds, upon this condition; that the cause of strife might be taken away, which was the shepherds and the mastiffs; this being granted, the wolves without all fear made havoc of the sheep.
Novem. 11th, 1724.
[Footnote 2: The advice had the desired effect. The jury returned a verdict of "Ignoramus" on the bill, which so aroused Whitshed, the Chief Justice, that he discharged them. As a comment on Whitshed's illegal procedure, the following extract was circulated:
EXTRACT FROM A BOOK ENTITLED, "AN EXACT COLLECTION OF THE DEBATES OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS HELD AT WESTMINSTER, OCTOBER 21, 1680," page 150.
Resolutions of the House of Commons, in England, November 13, 1680.
"Several persons being examined about the dismissing a grand jury in Middlesex, the House came to the following resolutions:--
"Resolved, That the discharging of a grand-jury by any judge, before the end of the term, assizes, or sessions, while matters are under their consideration, and not presented, is arbitrary, illegal, destructive to public justice, a manifest violation of his oath, and is a means to subvert the fundamental laws of this kingdom.
"Resolved, That a committee be appointed to examine the proceedings of the judges in Westminster-hall, and report the same with their opinion therein to this House." [T.S.]]
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