SWIFT. A pretty Defence truly, and yet as this was the Excuse of Balaam's Ass to his Master, one wou'd think none but an Ass wou'd plead it, and I will venture to say, they had better Change it for a solemn Vow, never to be guilty of such a Folly again. However if they did take such a Resolution, I wou'd not advise them to enter into Bonds, for the Performance of that Engagement; for I fear they wou'd forfeit them, tho' the Nation was to be Bankrupt by it, as in all probability, if we continue to tun down such Quantities of this destructive Liquor, it must soon be. For my part, when I think of this national Madness, in drinking Oceans of French Wine, I know not how to account for such prodigious Extravagance, in such ruinous Circumstances. We seem to live the faster, for being in a deep Decay, as Clocks have a quicker Motion, the nearer they are to being run down. 'Tis an hard Case, that evident right reason can't Influence a Nation, and that there is a Necessity for a Majority of right Reasoners, to make thinking Creatures (as we are commonly called) act as their Interest and Happiness demand. When once that fortunate Majority is gain'd, between wise Laws and good Customs, People take up general Maxims and Manners, that direct their Conduct, and form both their private and publick Behaviour, so as to conduce to the good of the Whole, and the well Being of each Individual. But alas! Tom, in Ireland, we neither think, or act for ourselves or the Publick, nor seem to have any System of Rules, for managing our Estates or our Country; but we live in an extempore Method, and as Time serves, and Accidents happen, we Conduct ourselves. When we are famish'd we think of Bread, when frozen to Death, of Coals and Fire, and when we grow uneasy with the Thoughts of all our Mismanagements, Madness and Follies, a large Dose of Wine (a Hair of the very same Dog) relieves all our Griefs over Night, and we rise as Wise and as Provident as ever in the Morning. As to the Kingdom itself, we make such haste to get it undone, as if we fear'd it wou'd not be ruin'd Time enough; and yet we may plead in Excuse, that particular Gentlemen manage no better for themselves, or their Families. It is certain he is reckon'd no bad Manager, among his neighbouring 'Squires, who can cleverly stave off his Creditors, and keep up his Port of living undisturb'd, till he can sell (I mean settle) his Son, and clear off his Incumbrances with the Wife's Fortune.
PRIOR. A very true, and as sad an Account of Things; and what inhances our Misery is, that France thrives by thus draining our vital Blood from us, as the Physicians in old Rome, made their decay'd Patients sustain themselves, by sucking the streaming Veins of their poor Slaves. If we paid a moderate Price for our Liquor, it were something, but the French raise their Demands, in proportion to our Calls for it; and our generous Importers, never endeavour to beat them down, as they find they get the greater Gain, the dearer they buy it; and our Gentlemen take up the same prudent way of Thinking, and never believe themselves so generous, as when they drink Wines, that their poorer Neighbours cannot Purchase. The present Fulness of the Treasury, vastly beyond all former Years, shews how far our Madness is risen; for this Folly of drinking away both our Estates and our Reason, has seized like an epidemical Plague, on all Ranks of Men among us. Even those of the poorer Sort, from a noble Emulation of copying their betters, drink as much Wine as they can; and where their Purses or their Credit will not reach so high, they must have foreign Liquors, tho' they be only Mum or Cyder, Porter or Perry, and seem resolved to shew they are as little afraid of a Jail, as greater Persons.
SWIFT. In other Nations the Nobility and Gentry, think for the Commonalty, and govern their Manners by the Laws they make, and the becoming Examples they set them. But in this poor ill-starr'd Island, they corrupt them by their false Splendour, by their foreign Luxury, by despising Virtue, Religion and Temperance, and as fast as they can drinking themselves out of the World, and sinking their Fortunes, in both which they are faithfully copied, by their Inferiors. I have often thought while I was among them, that if our Gentlemen were oblig'd by Law, to give in Accounts to the Publick of their annual Expences, as Children do to their Parents, in order to have them regulated; what miserable Oeconomists they wou'd appear to be, both for their own and their Country's Interests. The Article of Drinking is grown so immense, and at the same Time so general, that if some Fence is not provided for it soon, this Nation will be more in Danger from this Land-Flood, than the Dutch are from being overwhelm'd by the Ocean. What imbitters these Reflections the more is, that tho' all our Exports are the very Necessaries of Life, which we send off to Feed and Cloath other Nations, yet all our Imports, are the meer Superfluities of Luxury and Vanity, that keep our Natives naked and starv'd, and ruin the Healths of those of the better Sort. I say ruin the Healths, for I believe, if you and I, Tom, were to draw up a List of all our Acquaintances, who have died Martyrs to Wine and good Fellowship, it wou'd look like a London Plague-Bill in 1666. Pharaoh and his Army wou'd appear but as an Handful to those I cou'd reckon up, within these last fifty Years, that have perish'd in this red Sea of Claret; and what Crowds are there, now creeping by this way alone, into Stone and Gout, Rheumatisms, Palsies and Dropsies; after having by their Love of the Bottle, exchang'd their Youth and their Strength, not for a short and a merry Life, but a short and a miserable one.
PRIOR. It is a terrible Thing to consider, if half the Money paid for French Wine, was laid out in Building and Planting here, what a Garden they wou'd make of this whole Island; and instead of this, they make the Bottle the Business of their Lives, and sacrifice to this noble Passion, I will not say their Country, (for that no body minds) but their Healths and their Fortunes as readily as their Reason. It is odd to me, Mr. Dean, if we must use foreign Wines, why we do not make those of Portugal, Spain, Italy and Sicily, cheap by low Duties, and the French twice as dear by high ones; for by this means, we cou'd get Drunk with the Loss of less Time, and Health, and Money. If even such a Tax was laid on it, as would make its Consumption less general, and hinder the poorer part of our People, from being ruin'd by the dreadful Affectation, of drinking like the Men of Figure and Fashion, it wou'd be an excellent Method; and above all if the additional Taxes, were appropriated to extend the Linen Manufacture thro' the Southern Provinces. This wou'd soon enrich us, and impoverish at the same Time, the great Enemy to the repose of Europe; for 'tis by her Wines and our Money chiefly, that France has been enabled, to soar towards Universal Monarchy, and if this Feather was pluck'd from her, she wou'd soon shorten her Flights, and droop her Wings.
SWIFT. You think extravagantly and wildly! You cheat yourself like most Projectors, with your own Dreams, and your Expectations are suited only to Citizens, who live and act, Tanquam in Republica Platonis. Can you be so absurd as to hope, that Men in these Days, and in Manners like ours, shou'd listen to Reason; and think our own Beer, Ale, Cyder, Mead and home Wines, fittest and best for themselves, their Friends and their Families? Can you imagine that this Age of Intemperance and Luxury, will think a while of these important Truths, instead of pleasing their Palates, and driving off that heavy Load, their Time, with the Roar of Jollity and Riot? Is it to be expected that good Fellows and Pot Companions, will be influenced by a Regard for the Welfare of Ireland, when they will not value their own Healths, nor avoid all the Distempers we lately reckon'd up, as well as all the nervous Disorders, that spring from the fatal Tartar, which Claret by sad Experience is found to abound with? I was weak enough, to read Physick Books in my old Age, and I remember Galen told me, that in all Wine there is something Indigestible in its self, and ruinous to true complete Concoction; but our best modern Physicians do also assert, that the Tartar in French Wine, is the Fountain of a Crowd of Plagues and Pains, to our wretched Bodies. We read this in a Number of Authors, and have the Tradition handed down, from the Records of the Dead and the Living, who have suffered by neglecting such good Advice; but where are the Recabites that will listen to such Councils, in these drinking Days.
PRIOR. But as destructive as Wine is to us, we must not forget the dreadful Effects, Spirituous Liquors have on our Country and our Bodies. They are really a sort of Liquid Flames, which corrode the Coats of the Stomach, thicken the Juices, and enflame the Blood, and in a Word, absolutely subvert the whole Animal Oeconomy. The frequent use of them, has had as bad Effects on our poor Natives, as Gin in Great Britain; and besides driving many Wretches into Thefts, Quarrels, Murders and Robberies, it kills as many of the Poor, (when Drunk to excess) as Wine does of the Rich. Even our own renowned Whisky, tho' it has banish'd the Brandies of France, yet is almost as pernicious to our Healths and our Morals; tho' we have this poor Comfort, since Spirituous Liquors we must have, that it is better to pay our Irish Farmers, for destroying us, (if we must be destroy'd) than the French Vignarons about Bourdeaux.
SWIFT. I allow indeed our Irish Spirits, are preferable to those made in France; but after all, the chief good Quality of them is, that the King gets a prodigious encrease of his Revenue, by our Stills. It were to be wish'd, that this Part of his Majesty's Duties, that is founded on the Intemperance of his People, was supplied by some other Tax; for it is dreadful to consider, how much the Crown is interested, that the Subject shou'd neither be frugal or sober. The Duty on our Spirits is the best paid Money in the World, unless we except what we pay for our Wine; for I think the only Debts we pay well, are to the Merchant who Poisons us, and the Sharpers who bubble us at Play. If I were alive, I wou'd write a Book against the dreadful Intemperance of this Age and this Country; tho' I doubt if it wou'd do us much Service; for there is a Time, when the noblest Medicines are of no Use in a Distemper, and I fear our political Diseases are now so desperate, that to die as easily as we can, and to put it off as long as we can, is all our poor Country can hope for. I will therefore leave this, and go to another great Obstacle to the welfare of Ireland, and that is the want of Tillage amongst us.
PRIOR. That is indeed, Mr. Dean, a terrible Evil, and like most of our Evils, chiefly owing to ourselves. We do not want this additional Hardship to many others, that what we earn by our Labours in good Years, goes all from us in a scarce one, and leaves us either without Food or without Money.
SWIFT. Surely if repeated Sufferings make us patient, we might expect that our frequent Misfortunes, might make us Wise; and yet Famines are not able to oblige us to Plow, nor our Legislature to force us to it, by salutary Laws. One wou'd believe there were neither Thinkers or Reasoners, (unpoison'd by French Wine) left in Ireland. Are we to be a Nation of Beasts, and a few Savages to watch them, and only some Landlords and Butchers to divide the Spoil, and share the Plunder of a Nation, wasted of its Villages and People, as William Rufus, serv'd part of Kent, to feed his Deer? Good God! what a Scandal are we growing, to all the Kingdoms of the Earth, that set up for a regulated Government, or a sensible equal Polity? Surely, Tom, Men with common Sense, and common Industry, might make something else of this fertile Country, than a wild solitary Extent of Pastures; and that Men and civilized Creatures, might thrive here as well as Beasts and Barbarians; and that we need not let this poor Region, look like the one ey'd Polyphemus's Island, spoil'd of its Inhabitants, and occupied only by his Sheep and his Cattle? We all know, Grazing makes Countries wild and horrid, their People slothful and uncultivated as the Soil; but one might bear any Fault but starving; and yet every three or four Years, Men here are near famishing for want of Bread, and ready to eat up each other, like Lord Al——ms' Dogs in the Kennel. It is hard to say, what sort of People we are, for it is strange that the universal Instinct, that governs all the lower Ranks of Animals, or that the great Law of Self-preservation, does not influence our Countrymen so far, as to provide their own Bread. Not to Insult us with wiser Nations, I wou'd at least expect, that we shou'd shew ourselves, as provident as the Republick of Ants, and keep something to preserve Life and Soul together, when Want and Winter come. We seem to be quite uninfluenced by Hopes or Fears, the two great ruling Passions of the Soul; and as merry and improvident, as so many Grass-hoppers. In other Countries if Sheep eat up Men, the Men have their Revenge and eat up Sheep; but in Ireland, wretched, thoughtless Ireland, Sheep eat up more Men than all the Wolves on the Earth, without our poor Natives, being able to devour one of them, but now and then, when we Steal them, just to keep Life and Soul together.
PRIOR. The very Earth seems to cry out against us, Mr. Dean, for our want of labouring it, as it is ready to reward the Industrious, with fertile Crops, and large Returns. He who will work up its natural Strength sufficiently, need never want Food or Raiment, or a good warm Cabbin, to encourage him to go on, and by honest Care and Toils, in Time enrich himself and his Country. We observ'd before, that the Women who were once the idlest part of our People, are now the most Industrious; and if the Men will improve as fast at the Plow, as they have done at the Wheel, we shou'd soon see a vast Change in our Circumstances. Our pinch'd miserable way of Living, wou'd be turn'd to Plenty and Neatness, Warmth and Health; and the Plow wou'd enliven the Wheel and the Reel, and keep every Child, and every Sex in Motion. All this we may hope from good and wise Governors; of such force is Thinking for the Body, when the Body in return, will Work to make itself and the Mind easy. If our Rulers and Legislators, wou'd once heartily set about contriving, to get us Bread out of our own Fields, and oblige us by Laws to till the Ground sufficiently, we might soon see our People and their Children, as busy as so many Japonese Villagers, when the Earth is loaded with their Harvests. However, I fear neither of these Things will be done, till we are forc'd to it, by seeing Twenty-Thousand poor Mortals starv'd once more, and twice as many driven out of our Country; just as we see People seldom build Bridges over the River, till they find Numbers of Travellers, have been drown'd in Fording it.
SWIFT. A Foreigner wou'd think it as absurd, to hear that our Natives want Food, while we Export such amazing Quantities of Provisions; as that the Commonalty round Newcastle, wanted Firing, tho' they furnish London with their Coals. He wou'd ask, why we don't Tax such a mad Exportation, and by laying Twelve-pence per Barrel, on all salted Beef and Pork, raise a Fund for Premiums, to the greatest Number of Acres plow'd in each County; that at least we may have Bread for our Natives, who dare not hope for Flesh to eat with it. 'Tis a sad and a reproachful Prospect to us, to observe the Chinese levelling Mountains, banking in Rivers, and draining Morasses, to improve and Dung them for the Plow; and to see in Ireland, as fertile Plains as any in the Earth, lying untill'd, and feeding Sheep and Bullocks, instead of Men, of Industrious social thinking Creatures! The Plow is the Cause that China swarms with large Cities and Villages, and 'tis from the want of Tillage, that I remember to have seen in Munster, the wretched Tenants, as ill-housed as so many Hottentots; which proceeds from the same Defect, the Country there is so little Populous. Great Towns, and fair Villages, are not only the Strength and Ornament of any Country, but good Dwellings do naturally encrease Children, as a Barn does Mice, and from the same Reason too. Besides Buildings like those in China, always bring Crowds of Artificers together, as they are sure of Business and Employment from them; and thence also the Country too, must become thicker Planted and better Peopled; but in Ireland, all these Blessings are as hopeless, and as rare as Virtue, Wisdom or Industry. Without Tillage properly follow'd and encourag'd, 'tis impossible our Numbers will ever encrease sufficiently; nay they must necessarily decline every Day; nor shall we be able to feed tolerably, those Remnants of our Countrymen, whom our Flocks of Sheep, and Herds of Bullocks, don't drive to France and America, those great Drains of wretched Ireland. But what is fully as bad is, that without Tillage, we shall be perpetually drawing off what little Money we have, and Bread will be so dear, that 'tis impossible but other Nations who feed cheaper, must undersell us in our Manufactures. Besides how can there be any depending on stated Prices for our Goods, while Bread is constantly so fluctuating in its Value, as it is in Ireland; since the Wages of the Workmen, will ever depend on the Price he pays for his Food? This is by the bye, a Circumstance, which must for ever shut out the Linen Business from Munster, and all the grazing Counties; it being absolutely impossible for it to subsist, without Tillage and Hands, which ever go together. It cannot be the Profit, that endears Grazing to the Southern Provinces; since many excellent Authors, and particularly Mr. Dobbs, have clearly demonstrated the vast Difference, betwixt Tillage and Grazing, as to the real Gain by each; and it is clear we lose one Year with another, 200,000l. to our Country, by this impolitick Turn to Stocks. This is enough in Conscience, one wou'd imagine for this unthinking Kingdom; but we must add to this Loss also, the Multitudes, we force Abroad or starve at Home, and the real Gain we shou'd make by their Arts and Labour, and the encrease of Houses, Marriages, Children, Health, Wealth and Plenty, which they naturally bring with them. If our wise Graziers wou'd once consider these Things, and that our Northern Colonies in America, are supplying those in the South with Beef, and threatning to beat us by Degrees out of that Trade, they will perceive how necessary it is, to have a Law for Tillage, and that without it, we may say with the AEgyptians, 'We be all dead Men.' This I am sure of, and I will only add that 'tis in vain to make Laws, for encouraging our Linen, or to expect to keep Money enough in our Kingdom, to pay our Rents, or circulate Trade, when such prodigious Sums, go out annually for Grain, by which, and the vast Importation of French Wine, we are now actually on the very Brink of Bankruptcy and Ruin.
SWIFT. I know no better way to convince any one, of the superior Advantages, arising from Tillage, compar'd to those by Grazing, then to make him consider the Circumstances of the People in Ulster, and those in the other Provinces. In the first, all are laborious, all are well Cloath'd, well Fed, well Housed and Taught; in the last, all Lazy, Naked, Starv'd, Lodg'd in dirty Hutts, and almost Illiterate. The superior Advantages which the North so eminently enjoys, proceed not so much from the different Genius's, of the two opposite Religions, which prevail there, and in the South, (tho' that is something) but from Tillage and Labour, and all the Arts 'tis employ'd in, being fixt in Ulster. This shews the Care we shou'd take, to encourage Tillage in this half starv'd Island, and the wisest Nations have ever thought they cou'd not take too much about it. Aulus Gellius tells us, that the wise Romans kept Inspectors, over the Agriculture of their People, who took due Care, that every one manag'd their Grounds, in the most skilful and useful Manner, and to instruct the Ignorant and punish the Refractory. At this Day, Pere du Halde assures us, that the Chinese do in the most rigid Manner, oblige every one to sow their Grounds or forfeit them; and they appoint judicious Surveyors, who every Year, make Returns to the Magistrates, of the several Plow-Lands, and their different Fertility. This may convince us, what these two wise Nations thought, of the Benefit of Agriculture; and if any Thing cou'd make us renounce our destructive Passion for Grazing, one might tell them, that 'tis recommended by him that made the Earth, in many Passages of holy Writ; and if you remember, Moses also Assigns it, as one Reason for God's creating Adam, That Man was wanted to Till the Ground. When I was talking of the Roman and Chinese Inspectors of their Tillage, I shou'd have mention'd that the Jews had such also; for we find the Names of those who in David's Time, were Superintendants of such Matters, recorded in the Chronicles. Possibly in these blessed Times for Acting and Thinking freely, we shou'd not relish such Dictators to the Plow, nor any penal Laws to enforce our Tillage; but certain I am, that without some Laws that will execute themselves, (how averse soever we may be to them) we shall still continue in the utmost Danger of Beggary and Famine. We may very well submit, even to such compulsatory Laws in this Kingdom, since every one may read in our Histories, that England was often oblig'd, to force her Subjects to return to the Plow, when the lazy Method of pasturing Cattle, had distrest that Kingdom; and 'tis chiefly to the Statutes made by the two last Henries and Edward the VIth, that she owes the Blessing, of her being now the Granary of Europe, and of her enjoying the Advantages of having improv'd her Agriculture, beyond all other Nations. It is to be hop'd, if our late Act to encrease our Tillage, was properly amended, and form'd so as to make the Recovery of the Penalties more easy, it wou'd have very happy Effects here; as Agriculture is the Source of Plenty, and the nursing Mother of Arts and Manufactures. We observ'd before, that to see Beggars in any well regulated State, is a reproach to its Laws and Government; but to see a Nation of Beggars, is too scandalous to have it exemplified in any Kingdom but Ireland; and yet without an effectual Law for Tillage, that must unquestionably be our Misfortune for a while, and in some Years our Ruin. I am at a Loss how to account for this universal Conspiracy to destroy ourselves, which is the more alarming, as our own Plots against our own Happiness generally succeed. Have we made a Vow of Poverty, like the Capuchin Friars, or have we entred into a Confederacy to enrich every Country but our own? For if not, whence comes it, that above all other Nations we have the finest Ports, without Ships or Trade, the greatest Number of able Hands, without any care of Employing them, and that we are blest with so many Millions, of rich arable Acres without Plowing them, and such Numbers of Men of Rank and Fortune, without proper Zeal or Spirit, to remedy these Evils which we groan under? But there are two Instances of our Folly as to Tillage, that I cannot pass by. The first is, that we chuse the North, for the main Store-House of the Kingdom, where we have not only the barrenest Lands, but the worst Seasons, and where the Wet and Bleakness of the Country, produce tardy Harvests, fierce Winds and heavy Rains; and where the Ground is not near so fit for the Production of Wheat, as the rich Plains of our other Provinces, that lye nearer to the Sun. The other Instance of our Folly, is our rejecting in the Year 1710, the Bill transmitted from England, that allowed a large Premium for our exported Corn, which wou'd have been the greatest Encouragement to our Tillage, and consequently the greatest Blessing to this unfortunate Kingdom. I will not reckon up the Millions it wou'd have sav'd us, that have since gone out for Bread; nor those it wou'd have gain'd us, by the encrease of our Manufactures, and the keeping busy at Home, all the Hands we have been depriv'd of by subsequent Famines; but I will say this, that as our Zeal for his Majesty's Succession, our dread of the Pretender, and our Jealousy of the Duke of Ormond's popular Arts, made us then throw out that Act; so it is to be hop'd, that the King will in the Generosity of his Soul, restore us that desireable Bill which we lost for him.
 1 Chronicles, 27. ch. v. 25 and 26.
PRIOR. I heartily wish it, Mr. Dean, and tho' we had then a Lord Lieutenant highly regarded by the Ministry, favour'd by the Queen, and greatly belov'd in Ireland, yet it is as true, that we have one at present, who is not inferior to him in those Advantages, and vastly superior to him in others; and who certainly has as sincere a desire to serve us, as ever possest a Boulter, a Berkeley or a Swift, for I will not presume to join my Name with such Patriots. I hope we shall find it so by Experience, but whenever he does procure us that Blessing, if he wou'd complete our Obligations to him, and endear himself for ever to Ireland, he must add to it, the establishing Granaries in Dublin, Cork, and such Parts of the Kingdom, where they will be the most useful to those great Ends, the keeping Bread at a fix'd Price, as well as our Manufactures, and the Wages of those who Work them, whose Labour must ever depend on their Food. Without these, we must live dependent on Accidents, Winds and Seasons, and the Mercy of Corn-Factors; and as both the old Jews and the old Romans, had such Store-Houses, and the wisest Governments in Europe, made use of them with the exactest Providence, and to the greatest Advantage under proper Regulations; surely we shall not be depriv'd of such Blessings long. They are the great security to the Welder, that his Grain shall bear a fair encouraging Price, and at the same Time a Restraint on the rapacious Avarice of the Farmer, and the Corn-Chandler abroad and at Home; and as by being furnish'd in cheap Years, and all Exportations stopt till they're fill'd, they wou'd keep a fair Balance on the Price of Bread, he who desires to be bless'd by the Poor and the Industrious here, will not fail to add this Favour to all that we hope to receive from him.
SWIFT. I don't like praying to Saints that must pray to others. Our best Way is to address his Majesty for whatever we stand in need of; tho' after all, what can we hope England will do for us, who sees our Wants, knows what has occasioned them, and what would relieve them, and yet takes not the least Step to serve us. This single Circumstance looks with an ill-omen'd Aspect on the Affairs of Ireland, and is another main Reason, which I must offer to you, why I think our Days of Prosperity are as far off as the great Platonick Year.
PRIOR. I have often thought, Mr. Dean, our Clamours against England very ill grounded, tho' many, who know they are false or foolish, are apt, for no good Ends, to encourage them. 'Tis to England that we owe that we are yet a Nation, that we are Freemen and Protestants, and enjoy our civil and religious Rights, by the same Zeal and Efforts which secured their own. They have left large Branches of Trade and Manufactures open to us; and even our Linen and our Fisheries, our Tillage and our Collieries, our Salt-works, and our Mines, (not to mention many others) would employ most of the idle Hands in the Kingdom, if we would once set vigorously about them. Can we be so unreasonable as to expect she will distress her own Natives, to encourage those in Ireland, as if they had not Sense to consider, that their Charity, as well as ours, should ever begin at home? It can never be denied, that they have done largely for us, if we would do something to help ourselves, with proper Industry, and an eager Zeal to serve our Country. They do not hinder us to save 300000 l. per Annum, by using our own Woollen and Silken Manufactures, our own Salt, our own Sugar, our own Grain, Hops and Coals, Ale, Cyder, Bark and Cheese, our own Iron and Iron-ware, Paper and Glass; and if we will not work them up, nor use them when wrought, are they to be blamed, or we? Would you have them make a Law to prohibit the Importation of such Things to Ireland, and force us to use our Hands for our own Wants, whether we will or no?
SWIFT. I wish they would; it would be of infinite Service to this poor Country, which they impoverish by the wasteful Consumption of English Goods, that devour our Money, and deaden our Industry. That we owe many Blessings to England, I never doubted, even when I was alive, and as far as was in her Power, disgraced and maltreated by her, and much less shall I dispute it now. However, I can reckon up a large Catalogue of Complaints and Distresses, which Ireland can very justly charge her with.
PRIOR. Allowing all this to be true, as, to my Sorrow, I see you have some Grounds for your Assertion; are they to be reviled or envy'd for sending us their Goods, if we are so mad as to call for them? Would you have them hinder your buying their Commodities? Or, to go a little further, would we be hinder'd if they did? If we cut our own Throats, in our own wise Judgments, would you have them make a Law to gibbet us for it after we are dead? I allow you many of our Murmurings are just; but for the Love of Truth and Goodness, let us lament our Case with some Sense, and begin at the right End with railing at ourselves. I do not deny, that we are much impoverish'd by their Importations, nay, that by them we are in some Sense of the Word, Beggars; But, dear Dean, who ever hated Beggars more than you did, that had Health and Hands, and could work and help themselves, and would not. If our People will neither set up Manufactures, nor encourage them when set up, if they will not promote Agriculture by large Premiums through the Kingdom, but had rather beg Bread from their industrious Neighbours; if they will neither build Granaries, or set up Fisheries or Collieries: If Gentlemen will neither live at home, nor build and improve their Estates, to tempt their Sons to live there; if they see Societies set up for the Service of Ireland, and won't spare Shillings a-piece from their Diversions, to increase their Force and Power to help us, are the English to be blamed, or ourselves, if they leave it to our Choice either to mend our Follies, or to suffer by them.
SWIFT. The Truth is (though I am loth to confess it) I fear we are too lazy, because we are not extraordinarily encouraged, either here or by England; and probably they want to see us more alert, before they help us further; and in the mean time, between our Gentlemen who go abroad for Pleasure, and our Poor for Bread, we are like a Ship that is run a-ground, and the Hands which should have saved her gone off. People that are unfortunate love to have some one to lay the Blame on; and so we rail at England, as I remember Mrs. Halley (the Wife of the famous Astronomer) did at the Stars, who used to wring her Hands, and bawl out, My Curse, and God's Curse upon them for Stars, for they have ruined me and my Family; whereas, like Job's Wife, she ought to have cursed her Husband for his star-gazing Folly. At the same Time I never did, nor ever will forgive England for not helping us more than she does: We are a Mint in her Hands, but through her Negligence or Diffidence it is an unwrought one, though the Ore is vastly rich and promising.
PRIOR. I must agree with you there, and yet I am convinced, that the Fear of making their own People jealous, the Weight of their Debts, their violent Parties, and their decayed Trade, prevent their doing all they would for us or themselves; the Charity, the unbounded Charity, England extended to us at the Revolution, her Encouragement to our Linens, our Woollen Yarn, and our Cambricks, and to name no more, her Benefactions to our Charter-Schools, are Evidences of her Love to us which can never be forgotten. But beside all this, if England has a Zeal for her own Welfare, she must have a good Will for ours; for she knows and feels every Improvement made in Ireland, that does not directly clash with her Interest, is pouring Treasure into her own Lap, as regularly as what the River gets is returned to the Ocean. 'Tis evident, if we are better cloath'd, peopled, fed, and housed here; if our Wealth be encreased, or our Inhabitants or Country improved, we shall of Course take off more of her Goods, and spend more of our Money in London, which is to all Intents and Purposes, as much our Metropolis as England's. We already, by the mending of our Circumstances in some Respects, and the raising our Rents, do actually spend thrice as much there as our Grandfathers did; and it is as plain a Truth, that our Grandchildren will hereafter redouble what we carry there now. Can there be a Doubt then, that England must consult our Welfare, as long as she attends to her own? Though we live in different Islands, we are in effect but one People, and generally Children of the same Family; all we want to make us happy together is, that the elder Brother should carry to us with Affection and Regard and we to him with Respect and Deference, without Jealousies or Quarrels for Trifles or Things that cannot be helped, we never interfering with them, nor they oppressing or cramping us.
SWIFT. You are a very civil Magistrate, as St. John says, and have adjusted Things very amicably; but there is another Reason for England's protecting us, which I cannot pass by, and that is because any bold Step of the Crown in future Ages to absolute Power, will probably begin here. 'Tis therefore to be hoped, our Brethren in Great-Britain, who (whatever may become of them) are not born Slaves like some People I won't name, will watch us like a Beacon, whenever bad or weak Men set this poor Island on Fire, either to plunder or to frighten it, or for any other noble political Scheme. I must own, Tom, while I was playing the Fool in the World, like my Neighbours, I used to rail at England severely, and I had my Reasons for it; but though I am altered much as to that Point, there are several Things that I still think her blameable in, and particularly for the small Number of Irishmen that are preferred in Church and State. The Want of all proper Encouragement here, for every Man's exerting his Abilities as far as they can go, has terrible Effects on the very Genius and Character of our Nation. It actually keeps our Schools unfill'd, and thins our College to a surprising Degree; and makes our People look on the little Virtue we have yet kept among us, as useless and impertinent in a Country, where they are out of Fashion, and where Alliance, and Blood, and Family-Interest, make our Constitution in Church and State, (and especially the Church) rather hereditary than elective. This is a great national Grievance, so as to make it a Sort of Misfortune to be born here; nor do I see any Hopes of a Remedy, unless we get a Bill of Naturalization past on the other Side of the Water for all Irishmen, as well as for the Jews. At present there is as little Encouragement for Knowledge, or the learned Arts in Ireland, as in the Isle of Man, or rather less; for though their Preferments and Posts are fewer, they are only bestowed on Natives. By this Means it will come to pass in Time, that our Parts must be as slight as our Encouragements, and poor as our Country; for here, as in the dead Level of the Ocean, there is no Rising but by Storms and Tempests, and the Miseries and Ruins they occasion; and therefore half our Gentry owe their Estates to the Wars and Rebellions of Madmen and Bigots. But as to Eminence in Learning, or distinguish'd Abilities, they are quite overlook'd; or at least the Handful, that Ireland has seen preferred of her Natives by them, is miserably small. In other Nations some, nay, Crowds, are advanced by their Knowledge and Talents, but here they are discountenanced and brow-beaten; some are enriched by Trade, but here all we have is contrived to ruin us: Some make large Fortunes by their Skill in the Laws, but with us, where Plaintiffs or Defendants are one or other of them Beggars, the Proverb will tell you what is got by the Suit. I must add to all these Complaints, that even Avarice cannot bring a Man in Ireland a moderate Acquisition of Wealth; for here all Men do so universally outlive their Circumstances, that Saving is grown as scandalous as Thieving, and a Man is hooted out of the World more frequently for the one, than he is hanged for the other.
PRIOR. It is easier, Mr. Dean, to exclaim on this Head, than to shew the Justice of the Complaint; for whoever will carefully look over the Lists of those who have been preferred in Church and State for some Years, will find there has been greater Attention than ever paid to this Matter. But lest you should dispute this Fact, I will only hint, that there are Grounds to say, this Complaint will not be so common a Topick of Discourse with Irishmen, as we knew it in our Time; and probably as Learning and Knowledge may therefore make greater Advances among us than ever, we shall find Irishmen hereafter as much distinguished by their Preferments as their Merit. But however that may be, it will be as great Madness for us to malign or revile England on such Disgusts and Slights, as for a younger Son to quarrel with his Father, to whom he owes his being what he is, and who may in Time vastly enlarge his Portion and his Happiness, if he behaves with Duty and Love. This I will be bold to say, that we are possess'd of as many civil Advantages, under our Connections with England, as we enjoy from our natural ones, and our Situation in this Climate, this Sun, and this World of Life and Matter, where we derive so many Blessings from the Bounty of the Creator.
SWIFT. I wish, Tom, you would not stir that Bone of Contention, for there is a great deal to be said on both Sides of the Question, which, as I love to keep in good Humour, and be as quiet in my Grave as I can, I do not care for wrangling about. But this I must say, as to your Hints of our being Children of the same Family, that you had better let them alone, for it stirs my Spleen too violently. I am sure, if we are so, we fare like the rest of the younger Children in the World, who get but a Pittance to starve on, while the elder Brother runs away with the Bulk of the Fortune. I will not dwell on what we lose to her by Absentees, but I know between our Wool, our Woollen and Worsted Yarn, our Linens and Linen Yarn, our Copper, Lead, and Iron Ore, our Hides, Skins, Tallow, all which are the Primums and Foundations of her great Manufactures, she makes immense Gains by her Trade with our Country, and the Ships she employs in it. I must also add, that we take from her the largest Supplies of her Grain and her Manufactures of any Nation upon Earth; and besides the Crowds of English Gentlemen, that are possess'd of Employments, Commissions, Pensions, and Preferments here, she makes near two Millions by the Trade with Ireland; which I know is more than she gains from the rest of the World. I am not peevish, or at least so peevish, as I used to be, when I had vile Flesh and Blood about me; but these are plain confest honest Truths, and if that generous large thoughted Nation, will consider them calmly and candidly; possibly she will make us other Returns, than cramping our Trade, making us poor Petitioners, for leave to live by our Linen, and binding us by Laws (a Thing which every Briton shou'd start at) to which we never gave our Consent.
PRIOR. I cannot enter on that Subject, without irritating you, and therefore, Mr. Dean, I will drop it; but this I must say, that England had probably shewn us more Affection and Indulgence, if she had not been kept in perpetual Alarms, by our endeavouring to Rival her in her great Staple, the Woollen Trade. I have heard of some Women, who to regain their Husband's Affections, strove to make them Jealous; but I fancy that is no good Artifice, to make Nations love one another, and I hope as our Linen Manufactures, and our Tillage encrease in the South; we shall remove all uneasiness from that Quarter. It is certain our Interests and England's are inseparably united, and he must be a very weak, or a very malicious Man, who wou'd endeavour to divide our Inclinations, and set up a Wall Partition between us; by keeping up artificial Jealousy on the one Side, and unnatural Aversion on the other. It wou'd be absurd to think that because we have a broader Arm of the Sea, between us and England than the Isle of Wight, or Anglesea; that therefore we ought to have, different Rules and Views of Acting; whereas we shou'd consider ourselves as one People, join'd in one System of Government, Religion, Laws and Liberties; and he that divides us Ruins us.
SWIFT. What dost thou talk of dividing us? I hope that Word was not aim'd at me. I am not for Divisions (nor let me whisper you in the Ear, Tom) Unions either, till I see more Cause. But in the mean Time, I say since England makes so much by Ireland, she ought to help us to get something for ourselves, if it was for no other Reason but to double her Gain by us. But it is amazing how a Nation so sensible and enterprizing as she is generally allow'd to be, can so long over look the vast Advantages she might draw from us, if we were cultivated and improv'd under her Direction. Can she be Ignorant how useful, so large and so fertile a Country may be to her, where Hands and Food are so easily had, and may be turn'd to every Manufacture she wants, as effectually as the Motion of an Army by a skilful General. And if she knows it, can she neglect it? Does she want to be told, where she may most properly and providently give all the vast Sums she pays, for Hempen and Linen Manufactures to our Neighbours round the Baltick? Does she understand what Gain she wou'd make, if the Lands here were raised by Trade and Manufactures, to a Million more than they now set for, and how soon this may be done? Is she yet to learn, that by encouraging the Woollen Business here, in such Articles only, as her Rivals undersell her in, she wou'd effectually recover them out of their Hands, by employing the Irish, who by paying no Taxes on their Milk and Potatoes, can undersell the World? Is she Ignorant what she might make, by compleatly working our Mines, by opening our Trade to her Plantations effectually, and to Name no more by setting up extended Fisheries here, (the Gain from which one wou'd be tempted to think, was hinted by Christ's bidding St. Peter, take Money out of the Fishes Mouth) and thereby besides the Profit of what we vend, breeding Thousands of Mariners to man her Navy. If these are certain Facts, I hope you will allow me without Grumbling, to assert two plain Truths; first that there never was a Nation so Affectionate, so Loyal as Ireland; and secondly, That there never was a rebellious People so much suspected, so long neglected, and so saintly, so coldly encourag'd to serve her.
PRIOR. Tho' I cannot agree with you, Mr. Dean, in some of these Particulars, yet I will avoid Wrangling with an old Friend; but I must say you are too ready to lay blame upon England; when our own People are more to be reproach'd than our Neighbours, who have more Affairs of their own on their Hands, than they can get well manag'd. If we fairly weigh Things, we will find our Countrymen faulty in many Regards; and indeed I have such a Bead-roll of Accusations against them, that I know not where I had best begin the Attack.
SWIFT. Hold! Tom, hold! Dead or Living, I wou'd never allow any Man to attack Ireland, but myself; however when I am out of Breath, you shall be permitted to assist me now, and then. I must ingeniously own, I see so many Mistakes in their ways of Thinking and Acting, that the more I consider them, the more I look on Ireland, as in a dangerous Condition. The first Thing I shall touch at, is that terrible want of publick Spirit, which we are notoriously defective in; tho' like the Pulse in the human Body, where it is wanting, Death is nigh! all Countries are greatly help'd by this noblest Passion of the human Mind: But this Island must be absolutely lost, without its Assistance. We are so Circumstanced in several Views, that nothing can keep us above Water, and much less make us flourish, but the whole of our Gentry, joining one and all, to rouse themselves and the Nation, by encouraging every Art, every additional Method of employing us, that they can settle here. And yet how few have I known, who exerted themselves this way, or seem'd to know it was their Interest, or to think it their Duty. I remember in some Accounts of Portugal, I have met a Relation of the vast Good that is done there, by the famous merciful Society, as they call it very deservedly. It is composed of the most distinguish'd Persons in the Kingdom, who all contribute their Quota's to the relieving in a private Manner, all deserving People, (and Tradesmen especially) who are in want. The Steward who is annually Chosen, is always one of the most Illustrious of the Nobility; and cannot avoid spending 5000 l. in these Charities, to come off with Honour, and keep up the Glory of his Trust. Now I will venture to affirm, tho' we have vastly the Superiority over Portugal, as to the Numbers of Noblemen and Gentlemen of great Fortunes in Ireland; yet it wou'd be a vain Attempt to endeavour to establish such a generous Society here. This makes me Tremble for a People so deserted and neglected as ours; for unless the Rich, and the Great, and the Powerful, give largely to the Encouragement of Arts and Industry, and set Examples of Virtue and Goodness, and a Love of their Country before us, there can be little hopes of this or any other Nation, being made completely easy or happy. Men of larger Fortunes, shou'd shew they have larger Hearts than others, or they ought like the old Romans to suffer a voluntary Degradation, and descend from their State and mix with the meanest Plebeians. If they Act so as to do Honour to their Ancestors, and give shining Proofs of Truth, Piety, Worth and Benevolence; Numbers will Copy them with Joy; but without this, we may as well expect an Army will be brave, where the Generals, Colonels and Captains are Cowards, as that a Nation shall shew publick Spirit, or be Virtuous, Religious and Charitable, where their Superiors have opposite Characters. Let all who are eminent for Wealth or Birth, or Parts, seriously lay this to Heart, and consider how much the Immorality and Misery, or the Virtue and Prosperity of their Country, is chargeable to them and their Conduct; and it will not fail of stirring up a generous Emulation, who shall be most distinguish'd, in assisting the whole of our People, in Thinking and Acting better, and more nobly than they have hitherto done.
PRIOR. That too few have Acted thus, must be acknowledg'd; but some there have been among them, who have done Honour to their Families, and raised their own Characters, by the applauded Parts they have Acted, for the Service of their Country.
SWIFT. At the same Time, Tom, one wou'd wonder such Examples shou'd not be more frequent; for how dreadful how contemptible a Figure, in the sight of God and Man, must he make, who with the Advantages of Birth, and Fortune, and Power, seems to labour to be remembred, Living and Dead, only for being given up to the basest and most brutal Vices, or at best for his senseless Splendour, by living like an Epicure, or acting the Gamester, or for his great Stables or well-cover'd Table, his well-fill'd Cellar, or to heighten his Character still higher, his Debts and his Drabs. Such Men ruin and corrupt the World, by their Examples; they sneer at Virtue and Sobriety, they make a Jest of loving or serving this poor Island, and Ridicule the very Name of a Patriot; and while they withhold their Contribution, to every good Design, they make Sport of lavishing their Fortunes in Folly, and ruining their Constitution by Vice, and they even Laugh at Religion, and shew an equal Contempt for their God and their Country. It is odd, that few can be Stupid enough not to see, that every Man's private Interest and Happiness, let him be ever so great, is involv'd in that of the Publick; and yet few or none will Labour to serve the Publick, so far as to think for or support its Interest, whenever they have an Opportunity. I labour'd to rouse it up amongst us, for a Number of Years, to no Purpose, and I am apprehensive, that our best Ground to hope, to see this Spirit revive here, is that Posterity may hereafter exert it effectually, when they see this Island ruin'd; by the little Regard that is shewn for it now. However I must say (if any Thing in Ireland were worth complaining about) that it is a little hard, we must be Ruin'd before we are reform'd, just as Shipwrecks set up Light-houses, to secure future Sailors in their Voyages. This wou'd enrage one, Tom, if a noble Scorn did not cool our Fury.
PRIOR. These Thoughts disturb the Breasts of the Dead, as well as the Passions of the Living; for it is certain if our higher People shew'd a true publick Spirit, it wou'd produce vast Effects amongst us; it wou'd stir up Invention, Industry and Emulation, and in a Word awaken every Genius, every useful Man in this Kingdom. We have had very extraordinary Persons Born and Educated here, and we wou'd have them still, if our Leaders wou'd make use of that plain Method, by proper Premiums to raise Seed-Beds and Nurseries for them, and use our Youth to think, and to excell. How easily might they call out every one's best Qualities, to the properest Purposes, and encourage every Man, who finds he has the Seeds of Virtue, the Power of Thinking and Acting for himself or others, and a proper force of Mind, to try how far his Abilities can go. If this can't be brought about, and if for want of such a miserable Stock of common Sense and common Virtue in Ireland, we are to be left to ourselves, and employ'd in doing nothing but making a little Linen, I can only say, we are the most negligent and neglected People under Heaven.
SWIFT. Ah Tom! Tom! what must we think of our Physicians, where our Diseases are so dangerous and are yet so manageable, and where the Remedies are so easy and parable? Where nothing but slighting our Disorders can make our Cure doubtful, and where they give over the Patient barely for want of being feed? What must become of a Country, where about 600,000 l. of its Rents are annually spent Abroad, by a Crowd of Parricides, which we call Absentees; where as much more is spent at home, in foreign Growths or Manufactures by Irish Suicides, and the rest is laid out in Dress and Equipage, in Gaming and Drinking, and Horse-Racing, except a Pittance that is scrambled for, by our Labourers and Workmen to buy Potatoes and Whisky, and once in a Month, half a Peck of Meal for the Children of the Nation. What will become of a Kingdom, whose Manufactures are the Scorn of its own Inhabitants; who will not Drink of their own Liquors, write on their own Paper, or be fed with their own Bread, as I observ'd before, and can't observe too often: Nay, where the Poor by giving into these fine Fashions, seem as well inclin'd to destroy us as the Rich? What must become of a Nation of Beggars, and none to relieve them? What must become of a Country, where the common People make as much Interest, to be put on the List of the Parish Poor, and be authorized to Starve upon Charity; as their Landlords, and 'Squires do to get a Place or a Sallary, to make amends to them, for outrunning their Fortunes, and to appear like dignified Beggars, who for ruining themselves and the Nation, are Nursed at the publick Charge, as the Athenians used to keep their true Patriots, in the Areopagus on Pension, when old and reduced in their Service.
PRIOR. Why indeed, Mr. Dean——
SWIFT. Indeed, Tom, I have not done, nor I won't be interrupted. I say what will become of a Nation, where we are charg'd so immensely for unbuilt or ill-built Barracks, for our Soldiers which we cannot use, which we did not want; and where we won't lay out a necessary Expence to build Houses of Correction, that wou'd force every Idler to Labour, and tho' we know that Idleness is the Seed of Rebellion? What will become of a Nation, where we spend immensely to ruin it, and grudge laying out a few Shillings, or the smallest Tax to serve it, by encouraging our People to Labour and be Industrious? Where we are grown so heedless and unthinking, that our political Creed, must be as often repeated in our Ears, as our Religious one, before we will take care to understand, or shew we believe it by our Practice? Where we are so notoriously Dull, or so artificially Insensible, that we must be told our true Interest a thousand Times over, before we'll regard it, or where those who know our true Interest best, will Sacrifice it either to their Vanity, Ease, Pleasure or Ambition, or at least to their giddy, senseless, Carelessness? What must become of a Kingdom, where we are grown so resign'd, that we no more offer to complain of the hardness of our Case, if two or three honest Gentlemen bid us hold our Tongue, than a dying Man against the Will of Heaven? Where we either seem to have lost the Sense of Groaning by the length of our Distemper, or by knowing from long Experience, it will be in vain; or else that we fear bawling, as in the House of Correction, will but increase the Blows, both as to Number and Smart. Where People keep their Tongues in their Pockets, as Highway-Men do their Pistols, never to be pull'd out but in hopes of getting Money; and where so many, of our most eminent Guardians and Representatives, command Men to be silent and quiet and bear all, as the Executioner said to Don Carlos, when he was struggling to hinder his being Strangled, ''Tis for your good Don Carlos! be quiet, 'tis for your Good!' Nay what will become of a Nation, where whoever Attempts to help it, is either mark'd out for Destruction, as I was by a certain Lord Chief Justice, or revil'd and hated.
 The King of Spain's son put to Death privately by his Order.
PRIOR. There Dean, you must give me leave to say, you certainly go too far, to hate our Benefactors is not in human Nature.
SWIFT. Whether 'tis in human Nature I know not, but I am sure 'tis in Ireland; for I found myself hated there sincerely by different People, and for different Reasons. I was actually hated, by all who cou'd help it, but would not or durst not, and by all who wou'd help it themselves and knew not how, and abhorr'd to have it done by others. I was hated by all who long'd to hurt it, but as they cou'd not, detested those that hindered them, and by all who do not Care to have great Examples set them, which they are not fond of following, and lastly by all who neither love any Thing or any body but themselves, their Interests or Pleasures, and who had as believe talk of serving Heaven as their Country. Indeed the common People who come not under these Distinctions, lov'd me well enough to Drink my Health, especially, when I gave them the Liquor; and I doubt not wou'd have accompanied me to the Gallows, with many a zealous Prayer, if I had been Hanged for Writing for them. But at the same Time my Character was revil'd and attack'd with a Number of scandalous Stories, and my Zeal and my Patriotism exposed to Derision; and I was so far from having any Regard shewn me by my Governors, that in a Country where Numbers get Pensions for nothing, and Places for Services that were never done, I was not once offer'd any additional Preferment to my Deanery, and I scorn'd or rather detested not only to Ask, but even to Wish for it, as I vow'd to you before. Most Nations indeed are but too apt to be thankless to their Deliverers, but this above all others, and the Comperit invidiam supremo fine domari, I found too often verified in myself and my Interests; and my Character too frequently and too barbarously insulted when Living; and now when I am laid in my Grave, they are grudging their Half-Crowns, to raise me a Monument, that will not last as many Months, as I writ Pages for them.
PRIOR. It is an Happiness, if the World proves ungrateful to the great and excellent Persons, who serve and adorn the Age that is blest with them, that they have a scorn for the Opinions of Men, or even their Love or their Hatred, their Preferments, or Honours. It is but a poor Sentiment of the illustrious Xenophon's, 'That Praise is sweet to those, who are Conscious they deserve it;' for on the contrary, I believe most of those, who truly deserve Praise, have look'd on it as the poorest and lowest Reward of well-doing. Great Minds who aim in their best Actions at the Glory of their Maker, and the pleasing that Author of all Good, by labouring to imitate him here below, have superior Views, and do not only look down with a generous Disdain on the Applause of others, as it is really trivial and mean, but also as they know, they never receive it pure, but dash'd with the Malice of Detractors, and the Spleen of those little Souls, who Envy them. As they are Deaf to their Praise, so great Minds from their natural Superiority, bear the Malice of their Enemies with equal Indifference, and strive to Copy after him whom they serve, by smiling at, and over-looking the base Ingratitude of those they have done Good to. I am sensible, Dean, as even your Donations will survive both the World and your own Name, you know from whom to expect your Wages, and when they will be paid you; but really when one considers, what wretched wicked, senseless, Mortals crowd this World, it wou'd make one, out of Countenance to be actuated merely by a Love to themselves and Descendants, without any Regard to him, who has commanded us to assist and befriend them.
SWIFT. I agree with you entirely; I have observed and studied Mankind too long, not to know the animali Initus & in Cute, and to look on their Service as perfect Slavery. I have lov'd some odd Men in my Time, but the whole Race in a Lump, are a dreadful Carnage of Sins and Infirmities, Errors and Failings, Reason and Passion, that make a kind of Twilight in the best Understandings, that is neither Day nor Night, Knowledge or Ignorance, Vice or Virtue; but a kind of Olio of them all. Even the highest Characters have their weak-sides, and the most refin'd, their Defects and their Failures, with all the Infirmities which Flesh is heir to, and this World where we dwell is apt to taint Men with. Nay I must tell you in some Verses of mine, which never fell into Faulkner's Hands,
Prone to all Ill, the Flesh still warps the Soul, Hung like a Byass on the devious Bowl. This gives a worldly Cast to all we do, Tho' Patriots, Heroes, Saints,——we're Sinners too! Tho' some quite faultless in their Lives appear, Yet chain'd to this infectious Dungeon here, Men small of Earth, like Pris'ners of their Jail, And tainted from the Womb, the best are Frail!
This is poor Poetry, Tom, but they are honest Thoughts, and such (Death has taught me that Lesson) are worth all the Wit in the World. But I shall quit this Subject, to return to another fear I have for the Prosperity of Ireland, and that is the terrible and senseless Factions, that divide our unfortunate Countrymen. The first great Division among them, is their Disputes about spiritual Matters, as Protestants and Papists. It is not the Danger to the State that alarms me, for that is quite over; but the Indisposition to Unity and mutual Affection; by which means the Kingdom is lessen'd in its force and weight, while we seem to drag like a Man in a Palsy, one half of our Body after the other, which ought to co-operate with it.
PRIOR. I must add to what you mention, Mr. Dean, that it is a terrible Circumstance, to be surrounded by Catholick Neighbours, who many of them think they wou'd do God good Service, if they extirpated Heresy out of this Island; and therefore till we can get Priests with better Principles, or remove such inhuman Prejudices, by giving their People better Opinions, than that they ought to persecute a Protestant with Fire and Sword; we shall ever be a feeble disunited Nation. We to this Hour suffer under a loss of Blood and Spirits, from former Wars, Rebellions and Massacres; but as it is probable they will every Day, be less bigotted, and as their living and conversing so much with the Protestants, and their going into their ways of Thinking and Living, has taken off the Edge of their Animosity; one wou'd hope we shall be in no Danger from such Accidents hereafter.
SWIFT. I wish and believe it, Tom, in Charity; yet still their Religion, and their superstitious Pilgrimages, Nunneries, Holidays, (as we discoursed already) make them lazy and indolent; and their yearly Lents, and weekly Fasts, indispose if they do not disable their labouring Poor to Work as much as their Wants require; the spiritual Taxes which they pay their numerous Clergy, of all Denominations, who in the Words of the Prophet, 'Eat up the Sins of the People, keep them very low, and unable, as well as unwilling to join us in serving the Nation; and their Language and Manners tho' improv'd, yet still continue such a Difference between us and them, as must long keep us disjointed, and therefore broken in our Strength as a Community. At present we make a shift to live Civily together, but are so far from being closely United, as by Care and Management we might be; that we seem like some married Couples, to be rather yoak'd together by Law, than tied by mutual Affection. But I shall pass over this great Source of Dissention among us, as much as it hurts us, to take Notice of another ill-omen'd Circumstance to our Welfare, and that is the terrible Parties and Factions among Protestants, which also quite enervate our Force as a Nation. I remember when I liv'd in England, in the four last stormy Years of Queen Ann's Reign, I made a few Verses, (tho' I never Printed them for fear of Lord Bollinbroke) on High and Low Church, which may be applied to Ireland on this Occasion.
For as two Sawyers in a Pit, Toiling a massy Beam to Slit, A like their Skill and Prowess show, While one draws High and t'other Low. So WHIG and TORY, BRITAIN tear Asunder, and her Strength impair. While Factions all their Arts renew, To cut the Nation into Two.
This will ever weaken all Governments tho' never so strongly cemented otherwise; but in Ireland it must add Ruin to our natural Infirmities.
PRIOR. It is very true, and yet we cherish Factions as if we were to thrive by them, tho' they prey on the Vitals of our Country, but I believe there is no Nation in Europe, that acts so much against her own Welfare as Ireland, or suffers more remarkably by it. The great Maxim of its being madness to Trust Men's Promises and Engagements, but that we are quite safe to Trust their real Interests, seldom holds true in Ireland, for here you may trust Men's Words safely in most Things, but they are scarce ever to be depended on, where you wou'd imagine the Interest of the Kingdom secures them to you. It is strange to consider the Violence also with which they Act against each other, for if some hot People had their Will, they wou'd in their Contests hang up one third of the Nation on ill Reports, and then on the least Turn of the Tide, when they cool, they are as ready to String up all their beloved Informers, as Slanderers; if that general Inclination People have to listen to Malice, did not prevail on them to spare them.
SWIFT. One wou'd imagine where so much Passion is shewn, that they wrangled for something very Important; but as it is observ'd, that none are so litigious as the Poor, because they have but little to lose, so our People keep up the heat of their Parties (which if it cools, like that of a Glass-House all Work stops) by every Trifle, by every Word, by every Doubt, that can give the least Colour for a Difference. In a high Sea and a weak crazy Ship, one wou'd suppose there shou'd be no Dispute in the Crew, but who shou'd stop the Leaks and ply the Pumps fastest; but we mind every Thing but our safety, which we sacrifice to our ardour for Noise and Wrangling, and prefer our Resentments to our Lives. If our great Partisans of both Sides, disputed, who shou'd serve their Country most essentially, or who shou'd promote the Tillage or Manufactures of the Kingdom in the best Manner, it wou'd make us the happiest of Nations. This wou'd be as noble a Contention of our Demagogues, as that of the Horatii and Curiatii, for the Grandeur and Glory of Rome and Alba, and wou'd end like that in Reconcilement and Peace. If any Thing cou'd calm or unite us, the single Reflection wou'd do it, that if the joint force and weight of the Nation, was employ'd in pushing on its true Interests, (whenever they came to be debated) nothing cou'd withstand or endanger them. But we break our Strength, by crumbling into mean Divisions, petty Interests and private Views; and while every one's Charity begins at home, the Publick is beggar'd and no one relieves it. The general Welfare is quite over-look'd, while low-minded Wretches are taking Care of their particular Advantages; and I have ever observ'd that when Places and Pensions and Preferments were settled, the real Business of the Nation and its Parties, was thought to be as providentially adjusted, as that of a Match between two Families, when the Portion and Jointures, and Provisions for younger Children were agreed on. In short, Tom, the Misery of our Case is, that the good of our Country, like the Happiness of another Life, is oftner talk'd of for shew, than pursued in reality.
PRIOR. Indeed Dean, I have very long regarded, our Contentions and Parties in this Kingdom, in the same Light you do, and that instead of ever keeping in View the great Interests of Ireland, Men bawl out their Country! their Country! and mean nothing but themselves, advancing their Leaders, and thereby securing proper Emoluments, for every little Slave and Hireling that join with them. But what is most surprizing is, that while People are so cool to the Publick Interests, and to Things of the highest Importance; they are furious for Trifles, and every Imagination, every Guess, every nothing will set their Passions in a Flame.
SWIFT. I have often lamented that Circumstance, as to this poor Island. In truth, Tom, our Divisions and Factions here, are frequently as silly as those of two Gamesters, who tho' they play for nothing, will Quarrel dreadfully about cutting and dealing the Cards, and winning the Game. I am asham'd to say it, but the Contests and brawling of Children at their Push-pin, are sometimes substantial Things, to the Jangles and Feuds, I have known our Parties on some Occasions contend about, and alas! all we get by it, is to give our Enemies Pleasure, and our Friends Despair, while they see our wretched Country, quite forgot in the Squabble, and nothing but Power and Places, private Gain and sordid Interests attended to. But I will dwell no longer on this melancholy Subject, which looks so ill for this poor Kingdom, and I will now go to another Topick, in which the Conduct of our Countrymen is altogether as blameable, and is as fatal a Proof of their Coldness to the publick Interests; and that is their strange Neglect in finishing our Northren Canal, and completing our Collieries in Tyrone.
PRIOR. I can never think of the scandalous Mismanagements in both those Affairs, without Shame and Concern. They are a Disgrace to our Country, either as to the Honesty or the Skillfulness of the Undertakers, as to different Parts of the Works relating to the Canal, and also as to the conducting the Design, and disbursing the Money employed on the Collieries.
SWIFT. We are not only the slowest Thinkers of what will do us Good, but we are the most slothful also, in bringing such Thoughts into Execution. The Newry Canal has been carried on, under the Sanction of an Act of Parliament, and the Superintendance of the Navigation-board above twenty Years: And tho' in Holland, such a Work wou'd have been finish'd in half the Time, and by superior Skill, Oeconomy, and Honesty, at half the Expence; yet, after laying out immense Sums, there are still many Thousands wanting to make it a truly finish'd Affair. As with much ado we found out, that our own Hills abounded with the noblest Coal in the World, and that our Poverty forced us to consider, that we paid on an Average about 60000 l. a Year for Whitehaven Coal, the Nation at last undertook making the Canal from Lough Neagh, to the Sea, in Hopes they wou'd turn that vast Drain of Money, when we cou'd stop it, to better Purposes at home. Accordingly great Funds were assigned it, and an infinite Number of Hands and Heads (or People that wore Heads) employed on it for a long Space of Time; and yet after vast Sputter, erring and re-erring, correcting and re-correcting, and expending near 60000 l. the Work is far from being compleated; nor can we yet say we are secure of our Canal or our Coal. Much has been promis'd, and yet by Mismanagements or Misfortunes, and different Obstacles, little has been done to answer the Expectations that were raised; and tho' we were assured we shou'd in a few Years have at least 20000 Ton of Coals brought every Year to Dublin, to help our Poor, we have not yet got 500.
PRIOR. I cannot account for the Disappointment, and it well deserves the Nation's Enquiry. If, as I heard good Judges say, the Work could have been finish'd in five Years Time, what have we lost, who for the last fifteen Years, have paid such vast Sums to Whitehaven, that we might have saved? And how much better had we managed, had we laid out double what it has cost us at the first, and cut short both our Loss and our Trouble?
SWIFT. Very true; but instead of this, they have, with true Irish Policy, contrived to give large Sallaries to some Favourites to carry on the Work, and thus, in Effect, brib'd them to delay the Undertaking they were hired to finish. Thus these Plotters against themselves sink this noble, generous Design, into a low, miserable Job, and instead of assisting the Kingdom, they provide for five or six Families, that live comfortably on protracting the Execution. If the Colliery Company, whose Interest it is to finish the Canal, wou'd undertake the completing it, and fix the Terms with the Navigation-Board, we shou'd soon see the Matters well mended; but till that is done, we shall get nothing but half-work for double Time, and treble Charges.
PRIOR. The Board will take Care of it; but though they shou'd exert themselves ever so warmly, in finishing the Canal, we can never hope for the Coal, unless the Nation makes a Waggon-Way of about 5000 Yards to the River; and as this will cost as many thousand Pounds, we must wait at least a Summer or two for that, in case the Parliament shou'd generously add this small Sum to all their former Bounties. When I consider, that this Kingdom loses so immensely every Year, that we want our Canal and our Coals, it makes me uneasy to think, we are after so many Years disputing about them, when we ought to be enjoying them; but as the remaining Part of the Expence, to finish this noble Design, is quite inconsiderable, compared to the Benefit we expect from it; and as the Nation must not be trifled with any longer, I hope we shall see it soon compleated. For some Years it has had the good Fortune, to be conducted through many Obstacles, under the Direction of a Prelate, to whose Skill and Zeal, whenever the Canal succeeds, Ireland is deeply indebted, and will be forever oblig'd on that Account, to mention his Name with Honour. This is an encouraging Circumstance, and this further Hope of its Success, is left us, that it is now in the Hands of the natural Guardians of our Country, the Parliament; and as they well know what a vast Influence cheap or dear Coals have on many of our Manufactures, they will never let us be much longer deprived of this Blessing, which we expect from their Zeal to relieve all the Wants of Ireland.
 His Grace of Tuam.
SWIFT. They need not be told, (though however if I was alive I would tell them of it) that if it cost us 20000 l. more, the Design well deserves it; and if it took a much larger Sum, it wou'd be a cheap Purchase of 60000 l. per Annum saved to Ireland, which will be unquestionably the Case in a few Years. After having been such Spendthrifts so long, it looks like Impudence for us to talk of saving; but as Sickness is sometimes the Cause of Health, so Misfortunes and Misconduct may force us to be happy. It seems impossible, that either our Canal, or our Collieries, can any longer be delayed or neglected, and much less left in utter Danger of miscarrying, as I know it was for some Time; but I must say, it is a Grief to every Friend of Ireland, and a Satire on our Understandings, as well as our public Spirit, that we were so long in discovering such a Leak, and afterwards so tedious in stopping it up. If we were not a Nation as much made for Plunder, as smaller Animals are for Prey, we should long since have remedied this and many other Evils; but 'tis our peculiar Lot, to starve, like our old Friend Tantalus, with the Meat at our Mouths, to want Bread with the richest Fields in Europe under our Feet, and to want Fire with the noblest Mountains of Coals before our Eyes.
PRIOR. To see our Errors is one good Step to remove them; and if once our Legislature sets vigorously about proper Methods and Remedies for all our Distresses, there is Hope that their Zeal may make Things take a happier Turn, for this poor Kingdom.
SWIFT. I wish I may see such a blessed Change in our Affairs, but Seasons and Aspects are a little unpromising; and what discourages me the more is, another dreadful Quality of our People, that of their being so ready to desert and forsake their Country, which they leave as sillily as Birds quit their Nests, upon every little Fright or Disturbance, or just to gratify a wandering Humour, and to chuse a Situation they like better. Our Noblemen and Gentlemen leave us for Pleasure and Amusement, and our Poor for Bread and Wages, which we cannot or will not provide them at home; and some run off for mere Safety, as they see our Distresses, and fly from us by the same sort of Instinct that Rats forsake a falling House. Thus a Family where the Master first deserts the Children, and then the Servants follow his Example, can hardly be reduced to a worse Condition than we are, by this epidemical Madness of wandering to England. Though the great Gain she makes by their residing there, will never allow her to drive them back to us, yet one wou'd expect the very Contempt and Neglect they meet with there, wou'd make them return to a Country, where they wou'd be so much honour'd, and where they well know they are so much wanted. At the same Time I make no doubt, if the old Statutes, which punish'd all Absentees with the Forfeiture of their Lands here, were to be revived, and they were thereby obliged, to improve the Industry, Arts and Manufactures of our People, England wou'd in Time receive great Advantages by the Change. Mean while they, and all the Earth, see the Destruction they bring on us, by their deserting us in so ungenerous a Manner; and tho' the Cause and the Cure are so evident, it avails us no more, than the Knowledge of his Distemper does the poor Wretch that lies a dying. If they stay'd with us, and help'd us, we shou'd soon recover our natural Strength of Constitution, and become both an industrious and an important People; whereas now, we are almost a Cypher in the active and commercial World, and a mere Appendix to another Nation; while, like ill-coupled Hounds, by drawing different Ways, we sometimes rather disturb than help one another. If I had Hopes to get a Law pass'd, to burn every Clergyman who does not reside, to hang every Gentleman, and behead every Nobleman, who desert their Country for their Amusement, I wou'd even be content to return to the World, and sollicit Votes for it; but without taking up the Burden of Life again, I shou'd feel Joy in my Grave, to have their Estates saddled with a constant Tax as a Fine for Absence. How lightly soever Gentlemen regard this Desertion of their native Soil, it is certainly a Crime no good or great Mind can be capable of: And the Officer who quits his Quarters, or the Sailor who forsakes his Ship, do not better deserve to be mulk'd in their Pay than they do.
PRIOR. I think it a little odd, Mr. Dean, that while we see our Countrymen deserting us so generally, and lament it so loudly, we yet take such Measures as if we thought they did not go away fast enough; and therefore send off our Criminals, to labour, and breed, and enrich America. Tho' this wretched Island is the most improvable, and the least improved Part of the habitable Earth, we drive away from us our Felons, though, if we kept them confin'd to hard Labour, the Kingdom wou'd receive all the Profit of their Work, and by this Means a converted Criminal, like a penitent Sinner, wou'd be of more Use, and a better Man, than if he had never transgressed at all.
SWIFT. There may be some ill Consequences in that Method of punishing Felons, as well as some good ones; for in a Complication of Disorders, such as Ireland labours under, what helps the one is pernicious to the other. It is our peculiar Misery, that the Desertion of some of our People does not hurt us more, than the Sleepiness, the Inactivity and Heedlessness of those that stay behind. Many of our common Irish know as little of the Benefits of useful Labour, as the Savages in the West Indies; and are more inclined to live by Theft and Rapine, than by using their Hands and toiling their Bodies. Nay, Crowds of our Gentlemen are as indolent (as we observed on another Occasion) as their Slaves are lazy; and seem as unwilling to improve their Estates, as if they thought their Tenures were as uncertain, and as subject to Change, as ever their Ancestors found them. At present, there are few Kingdoms in Europe, where the Titles to them are so indisputably settled as they are in Ireland, and yet they improve more in France, where all depends on the King's Will, than in Ireland, where the Property of the Subject is so impregnably secured by the Laws. Of such Force is the Genius of a Nation in regulating our Manners, and forming our Customs. I assure you, dear Tom, I could name Crowds of our Irish Gentlemen, that wou'd double their Estates, if they would live on them, and ditch them, and drain them, and build them, and plant them, with half the Skill and Application of a rich sensible Farmer in England; nay, I know some of them that are so situated, that they would quadruple their Rents in some Years, if they wou'd build Towns, and set up Manufactures on them with proper Care. There are few of them that have not before their Eyes (if they wou'd open them) Instances of these Things in every County, and yet are no more influenced by it, than if there was no more Encouragement for Arts or Industry, thinking or working, in this Island, than there is in Borneo or Madagascar.
PRIOR. There are many Reasons to be assigned, for this great Mistake in the Conduct of some of our Irish Gentlemen, Mr. Dean, if we wanted to examine into these Matters; but as to what you was saying, as to their neglecting to live, and plant, and build on their Estates, I have wondered, since we cannot hope to get a Law to force our Absentees home, that we don't make one to oblige all Gentlemen, to build and keep in Repair one Mansion-house on their Lands, of such and such Dimensions, with proper Offices, suitable to their Incomes. If this took in even Freeholders of 20 or 30 l. a Year, throughout the Kingdom, it would have a great Effect, and encrease the Number of our Inhabitants, in this deserted Country, as well as the King's Revenue, by many thousand additional Hearths, and comfortable Places of Residence. At the same Time, I cannot see one Objection to so useful a Law, but that nobody would get by it but the Public, and that many private Gentlemen and Absentees wou'd be forced to be useful to us and their Families whether they wou'd or no, which wou'd probably be thought a terrible Hardship by some People.
SWIFT. Why, Tom, I cannot but say, such a Law wou'd be of great Use in so naked a Country as this, where one wou'd imagine many of us were descended from the Ringleaders in the Building the Tower of Babel; and that by their being then punished, for meddling too much in Stone and Morter, we have contracted an Aversion to all Building ever since; but whenever such a Law is to be pass'd, I could wish they wou'd add another to it, that wou'd not only build our Country, but plant it surprisingly too.
PRIOR. And pray what Law is it? For I am ready, like some good Patriots (who get others to think for them) to vote for it, right or wrong; nay, before I know what it is, since so good a Friend proposes it.
SWIFT. Why, my Act of Parliament is enough to frighten all good Protestants, and is to impower every Landlord, notwithstanding Settlements, to set Leases for ever, of ten or twenty Acres, even to Papists, at the full reserved Rent, who wou'd build good Houses of Stone and Lime, of such and such Dimensions, and inclose and plant an Orchard and Garden of at least one Acre, and keep them in Repair, on pain of voiding the Tenure. This wou'd, in a few Years, increase the Number of our Houses and Orchards prodigiously; and the more as our Natives are very fond of having Lands and Tenements in their own Country, and are willing to give this Pledge of their Allegiance, which so many of them, for Want of such Ties, sit too loose in. I am sensible what an Outcry, many honest Gentlemen wou'd make to this Law; but I am sure it wou'd improve our Country to an high Degree; nor do I see what shou'd hinder us to allow Papists to purchase Lands, (and especially the old forfeited Lands) to a limited Value, and without allowing them a Vote, provided they built and inclosed them in proportion to the Estate: But who can bear to throw away their Thoughts on a Nation, that mind their own Dreams and Habits of Thinking more than the Reasonings of others; who cannot be prevailed on to set up new Manufactures, at the Instances and Exhortations of a Lord Lieutenant, nay, not at the Advice, and, shall I add, even the Entreaties of that illustrious Patriot and Friend to Ireland, my Lord Ch——d.
PRIOR. You mean the making Paper here, which that Nobleman, with a Zeal equal to his Understanding, honoured me with so many Letters about; and took so much Pains, with many useful Friends of our Country, to get effectually established in Ireland.
SWIFT. I do; and I want to vent my Spleen, in abusing my Countrymen, for the inconsiderable Progress which has been made in so excellent a Design. Certainly, though we have made some Advances that Way, if we had carried them on with the least Share of that Nobleman's Spirit, we shou'd have brought it to much greater Perfection than we have done. Even with what little Care and Encouragement we have bestowed on it, if we continue to cultivate it, we may expect in some Years to improve it so far, as to be able to export large Quantities, and see it swell and increase, in proportion to the great Material for it, our Linen. But, as if we were afraid too many Arts wou'd enrich us too fast, or take up more Hands than we cou'd spare; we have given this useful Undertaking so little Assistance, that it has by no means made the Advances we cou'd have expected from it; and we have just left it, like a lovely exotic Flower, to live or die at the Mercy of an unfavourable Season, and a wintry Climate. This puts our Giddiness, in overlooking every offered Advantage, and our Supineness as to all Attempts to improve our Circumstances, in a very indifferent Light; we wear better Linen, and more of it, than most of our neighbouring Kingdoms, (our Numbers and Poverty fairly considered) nay, and we wear them to Rags too, and yet we will not save those Rags for the Paper-mill; nor will we, when they are turned into Paper, buy it, while we can purchase better and dearer from France and Holland. In short, we are a People, Tom, miserable amidst a Crowd of Opportunities to be happy, for Want of a little Activity and Management, a little Sobriety and Care; and one of the most alleviating Circumstances of my Death was, my being delivered from the Torment, of endeavouring to serve Ireland to no Purpose.