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Mr. M'Culla would not give security to pay the whole sum to any man who returned him his copper notes, as my lord Dartmouth and colonel Moore were by their patents obliged to do. To which he gave me some answers plausible enough. First, "He conceived his coins were much nearer to the intrinsic value than any of those coined by patents, the bulk and goodness of the metal equalling the best English halfpence made by the crown: That he apprehended the ill-will of envious and designing people; who, if they found him to have a great vent for his notes, since he wanted the protection of a patent, might make a run upon him, which he could not be able to support: And lastly, that his copper (as is already said) being equal in value and bulk to the English halfpence, he did not apprehend they should ever be returned, unless a combination proceeding from spite and envy might be formed against him."
adds any alloy to debase the metal, although it be not above 10 per cent., then Mr. M'Culla's 'promissory notes will, to the intrinsic value of the metal, be above 47 per cent. discount.
But there are some points in his proposal which I cannot well answer for; nor do I know whether he will be able to do it himself. The first is, whether the copper he gives us will be as good as what the crown provided for the English halfpence and farthings; and secondly, whether he will always continue to give us as good; and thirdly, when he will think fit to stop his hand and give us no more; for I should be as sorry to be at the mercy of Mr. M'Culla as of Mr. Wood. There is another difficulty of the last importance. It is known enough that the crown is supposed to be neither gainer nor loser by coinage of any metal: for they subtract or ought to subtract no more from the intrinsic value than what will just pay the charges of the mint; and how much that will amount to is the question. By what I could gather from Mr. M'Culla good copper is worth 14d. per pound. By this computation, if he sells his copper notes for 28. the pound and will pay 20d. back, then the expense of coinage for one pound of copper must be 6d. which is 30 per cent. The world should be particularly satisfied on this article before he vends notes: for the discount of 30 per cent. is prodigious, and vastly more than I can conceive it ought to be. For if we add to that proportion the 16 per cent. which he avows to keep for his own profit, there will be a discount of about 46 per cent. Or to reckon I think a fairer way: Whoever buys a pound of Mr. M'Culla's coin at 2s. per pound carries home only the real value of 14d., which is a pound of copper; and thus he is a loser of 411. 13s. 4d. per cent. But, however, this high discount of 30 per cent. will be no objection against M'Culla's proposal; because, if the charge of coining will honestly amount to so much, and we suppose his copper notes may be returned upon him, he will be the greater sufferer of the two; because the buyer can lose but 4d. in a pound and M'Culla must lose 6d., which was the charge of the coinage.
Upon the whole, there are some points which must be settled to the general satisfaction before we can safely take Mr. M'Culla's copper notes for value received; and how he will give that satisfaction is not within my knowledge or conjecture. The first point is that we shall be always sure of receiving good copper, equal in bulk and fineness to the best English halfpence.
The second point is to know what 'allowance he makes to himself, either out of the weight or mixture of his copper or both, for the charge of coinage. As to the weight the matter is easy by his own scheme; for, as I have said before, he proposes 48 to weigh a pound, which he gives you for 2s., and receives it by the pound at 20d.: so that, supposing pure copper to be 14d. a pound, he makes you pay 30 per cent. for the labour of coining, as I have already observed, beside 16 per cent. when he sells it. But if to this he
For subtracting 10 per cent. off sixty pounds' worth of copper, it will (to avoid fractions) be about per cent. in the whole 100%., which added to
£41 13 4 5 10 0
will be per cent. 47 3 4
That we are under great distress for change, and that Mr. M'Culla's copper notes, on supposition of the metal being pure, are less liable to objection than the project of Wood may be granted: but such a discount, where we are not sure even of our 20d. a pound, appears hitherto a dead weight on his scheme.
Since I writ this, calling to mind that I had some copper halfpence by me, I weighed them with those of Mr. M'Culla and observed as follows:
First I weighed Mr. M'Culla's halfpenny against an English one of king Charles II., which outweighed Mr. M'Culla's a fourth part, or 25 per cent.
I likewise weighed an Irish Patrick and David halfpenny, which outweighed Mr. M'Culla's 12 per cent. It had a very fair and deep impression and milled very skilfully round.
I found that even a common harp halfpenny, well preserved, weighed equal to Mr. M'Culla's. And even some of Wood's halfpence were near equal in weight to his. Therefore, if it be true that he does not think Wood's copper to have been faulty, he may probably give us no better.
I have laid these loose thoughts together with little order, to give you and others who may read them an opportunity of digesting them better. I am no enemy to Mr. M'Culla's project; but I would have it put upon a better foot. I own that this halfpenny of king Charles II., which I weighed against Mr. M'Culla's, was of the fairest kind I had seen. However, it is plain the crown could afford it without being a loser. But it is probable that the officers of the mint were then more honest than they have since thought fit to be; for I confess not to have met those of any other year so weighty, or in appearance of so good metal, among all the copper coins of the three last reigns; yet these, however, did much outweigh those of Mr. M'Culla, for I have tried the experiment on a hundred of them; I have indeed seen accidentally one or two very light, but it must certainly have been done by chance, or rather I suppose them to be counterfeits. Be that as it will, it is allowed on all hands that good copper was never known to be cheaper than it is at present, I am ignorant of the price, farther than by his informing me that it is only 14d. a pound; by which I observe he charges the coinage at 30 per cent.; and therefore I cannot but think his demands are exorbitant. But to say the truth, the dearness or cheapness of the metal does not properly enter into the question. What we desire is, that it should be of the best kind and as weighty as can be afforded; that the profit of the contriver should be reduced from 16 to 8 per cent., and the charge of coinage, if possible, from 30 to 10 or 15 at most.
Mr. McCulla must also give good security that he will coin only a determinate sum, not exceeding 20,000l., by which, although he should deal with all uprightness imaginable, and make his coin as good as that I weighed of king Charles II., he will at 16 per cent. gain 32007., a very good additional job to a private tradesman's fortune.
I must advise him also to employ better workmen, and make his impressions deeper and plainer, by which a rising rim may be left about the edge of his coin,
to preserve the letter from wearing out too soon. has no wardens or masters, or other officers of the mint, to suck up his profit, and therefore can afford to coin cheaper than the crown, if he will but find good materials, proper implements, and skilful workmen.
Whether this project will succeed in Mr. M'Culla's hands (which, if it be honestly executed, I should be glad to see); one thing I am confident of, that it might be easily brought to perfection by a society of nine or ten honest gentlemen of fortune, who wish well to their country and would be content to be neither gainers nor losers, farther than the bare interest of their money. And Mr. M'Culla, as being the first starter of the scheme, might be considered and rewarded by such a society, whereof, although I am not a man of fortune, I should think it an honour and happiness to be one, even with borrowed money upon the best security I could give. And first, I am confident, without any skill but by general reason, that the charge of coining copper would be very much less than 30 per cent. Secondly, I believe 10,000l. in halfpence and farthings would be sufficient for the whole kingdom, even under our great and most unnecessary distress for the want of silver, and that without such a distress half the sum would suffice. For I compute and reason thus: the city of Dublin, by a gross computation, contains 10,000 families; and I am told by shopkeepers " That if silver were as plenty as usual, 2s. in copper would be sufficient in the course of business for each family." But in consideration of the want of silver, I would allow 5s. to each family, which would amount to 25007.; and to help this, I would recommend a currency of all the genuine undefaced harp-halfpence which are left of lord Dartmouth's and Moor's patents under king Charles II., and the small Patrick and David for farthings. To the rest of the kingdom I would assign the 75007. remaining, reckoning Dublin to answer one-fourth of the kingdom, as London is judged to answer (if I mistake not) one-third of England-I mean in the view of money only.
To compute our want of small change by the number of souls in the kingdom, besides being perplexed, is I think by no means just. They have been reckoned at a million and a half, whereof a million at least are beggars in all circumstances except that of wandering about for alms; and that circumstance may arrive soon enough, when it will be time to add another 10,0007. in copper. But without doubt the families of Ireland who lie chiefly under the difficulties of wanting small change cannot be above 40,000 or 50,000, which the sum of 10,0007., with the addition of the fairest old halfpence, would tolerably supply: for if we give too great a loose to any projector to pour in upon us what he pleases, the kingdom will be (how shall I express it under our present circumstances?) more than undone. And hence appears in a very strong light the villany of Wood, who proposed the coinage of 108,000. in copper for the use of Ireland, whereby every family in the kingdom would be loaded with 108. or 128., although Wood might not transgress the bounds of his patent, and although no counterfeits, either at home or abroad, were added to the number, the contrary to both which would indubitably have arrived. So ill informed are great men on the other side, who talk of a million with as little ceremony as we do of half-a-crown! But to return to the proposal I have made. Suppose ten gentlemen, lovers of their country, should raise 2001. a-piece, and from the time the money is deposited, as they shall agree, should begin to charge it with 7 per cent. for their own use; that they should as soon as possible provide a mint and good workmen, and buy copper sufficient for coining 2000., subtracting a fifth part of the interest of 10,000l. for the charges of the tools and fitting up a place for a mint,
the other four parts of the same interest to be subtracted equally out of the four remaining coinages of 20001. each, with a just allowance for other necessary incidents. Let the charge of coinage he fairly reckoned, and the kingdom informed of it as well as of the price of copper. Let the coin be as well and deeply stamped as it ought. Let the metal be as pure as can consist to have it rightly coined (wherein I am wholly ignorant), and the bulk as large as that of king Charles II. And let this club of ten gentlemen give their joint security to receive all the coins they issue out for seven or ten years, and return gold and silver without any defalcation.
Let the same club or company when they have issued out the first 20007., go on the second year, if they find a demand and that their scheme has answered to their own intention, as well as to the satisfaction of the public. And if they find 7 per cent. not sufficient, let them subtract 8, beyond which I would not have them go. And when they have in two years coined 10,0007., let them give public notice that they will proceed no farther, but shut up their mint and dismiss their workmen, unless the real, universal, unsolicited declaration of the nobility and gentry of the kingdom shall signify a desire that they should go on for a certain sum farther.
This company may enter into certain regulations among themselves, one of which should be to keep nothing concealed, and duly to give an account to the world of their whole methods of acting.
Give me leave to compute, wholly at random, what charge the kingdom will be at by the loss of intrinsic value in the coinage of 10,0001. in copper under the management of such a society of gentlemen.
First, It is plain that, instead of somewhat more than 16 per cent. as demanded by Mr. M'Culla, this society desires but 8 per cent.
Secondly, Whereas Mr. M'Culla charges the expense of coinage at 30 per cent., I hope and believe this society will be able to perform it at ten.
Whereas it does not appear that Mr. M'Culla can give any security for the goodness of his copper, because not one in ten thousand have the skill to distinguish, the society will be all engaged that theirs shall be of the best standard.
Fourthly, That whereas Mr. M'Culla's halfpence are one-fourth part lighter than that kind coined in the time of king Charles II., these gentlemen will oblige themselves to the public to give the coin of the same weight and goodness with those halfpence, unless they shall find they cannot afford it, and in that case they shall beforehand inform the public, show their reasons, and signify how large they can make them without being losers, and so give over or pursue their scheme as they find the opinion of the world to be. However, I do not doubt but they can afford them as large and of as good metal as the best English halfpence that have been coined in the three last reigns, which very much outweigh those of Mr. M'Culla. And this advantage will arise in proportion, by lessening the charge of coinage from 30 per cent. to 10 or 15, or 20 at most. But I confess myself in the dark on that article, only I think it impossible it should amount to any proportion near 30 per cent., otherwise the coiners of those counterfeit halfpence called raps would have little encouragement to follow their trade.
But the indubitable advantages by having the management in such a society, would be the paying 8 per cent. instead of 16, the being sure of the goodness and just weight of the coin, and the period to be put to any farther coinage than what was absolutely necessary to supply the wants and desires of the kingdom; and all this under the security of ten gentlemen of credit and fortune, who would be ready to give the best security
and satisfaction, that they had no design to turn the scheme into a job.
As to any mistakes I have made in computation, they are of little moment, and I shall not descend so low as to justify them against any caviller.
The strongest objections against what I offer, and which perhaps may make it appear visionary, is the difficulty to find half a score gentlemen, who, out of a public spirit, will be at the trouble, for no more profit than 1 per cent. above the legal interest, to be overseers of a mint for five years, and perhaps without any justice raise the clamour of the people against them. Besides, it is most certain that many a squire is as fond of a job and as dexterous to make the best of it as Mr. M Culla himself or any of his level. However, I do not doubt but there may be ten such persons in this town, if they had only some visible mark to know them at sight. Yet I just foresee another inconveniency, that knavish men are fitter to deal with others of their own denomination, while those who are honest and best-intentioned may be the instruments of as much mischief to the public, for want of cunning, as the greatest knaves; and more, because of the charitable opinion which they are apt to have of others. Therefore, how to join the prudence of the serpent with the innocency of the dove in this affair, is the most difficult point. It is not so hard to find an honest man as to make this honest man active, and vigilant, and skilful, which, I doubt, will require a spur of profit greater than my scheme will afford him, unless he will be contented with the honour of serving his country and the reward of a good conscience.
After reviewing what I had written, I see very well that I have not given any allowance for the first charge of preparing all things necessary for coining, which, I am told, will amount to about 2007., besides 201. per annum for five years' rent of a house to work in. I can only say that, this making in all 3004., it will be an addition of no more than 3 per cent. out of 10,0007.
But the great advantages of the public, by having the coinage placed in the hands of ten gentlemen such as I have already described (if such are to be found)
First, They propose no other gain to themselves than 1 per cent. above the legal interest for the money they advance, which will hardly afford them coffee when they meet at their mint-house.
Secondly, They bind themselves to make their coins. of as good copper as the best English halfpence, and as well coined and of equal weight, and do likewise bind themselves to charge the public with not one farthing for the expense of coinage more than it shall really stand them in.
Thirdly, They will for a limited term of seven or ten years, as shall be thought proper upon mature consideration, pay gold and silver, without any defalcation, for all their own coin that shall be returned upon
Fourthly, They will take care that the coins shall have a deep impression, leaving a rising rim on both sides, to prevent their being defaced in a long time, and the edges shall be milled.
I suppose they need not be very apprehensive of counterfeits, which it will be difficult to make so as not to he discovered, for it is plain that those bad halfpence called raps are so easily distinguished even from the most worn genuine halfpenny, that nobody will now take them for a farthing, although under the great present want of change.
I shall here subjoin some computations relating to Mr. McCulla's copper notes. They were sent to me by a person well skilled in such calculations, and therefore I refer them to the reader.
Mr. M'Culla charges good copper at 14d. per
Mr. M'Culla allows his pound of copper (coinage included) to be worth 20d.; for which he demands 2s. His coinage he computes at 6d. per pound weight; therefore laying out only 20d., and gaining 4d., he makes per cent. profit, The 6d. per pound weight, allowed for coinage, makes per cent. The want of weight in his halfpenny, compared as above, is per cent.
By all which (viz. coinage, profit, and want of weight) the public loses per cent.
For 3001. laid out for tools, a mint, and houserent, charge 3 per cent. upon the coinage of 10,0007.
If Mr. M'Culla's coins will not pass, and he refuses to receive them back, the owner cannot sell them at above 12d. per pound; whereby, with the defect of weight of 10 per cent., he will lose 60 per cent.
The scheme of the society, raised as high as it can possibly be, will be only thus:— For coinage, instead of 10, suppose at most per For interest of their money per cent..
Charges in all upon interest, coinage, &c. per cent. 31
Which, with all the advantages above-mentioned, of the goodness of the metal, the largeness of the coin, the deepness and fairness of the impression, the assurance of the society confining itself to such a sum as they undertake, or as the kingdom shall approve; and lastly, their paying in gold or silver for all their coin returned upon their hands without any defalcation would be of mighty benefit to the kingdom; and with a little steadiness and activity could, I doubt not, be easily compassed.
I would not in this scheme recommend the method of promissory notes, after Mr. M'Culla's manner; but as I have seen in old Irish coins, the words CIVITAS DVBLIN, on one side, with the year of our Lord and the Irish harp on the reverse.
THAT ALL THE LADIES AND WOMEN OF IRELAND SHOULD APPEAR CONSTANTLY IN IRISH
THERE was a treatise written about nine years ago, to persuade the people of Ireland to wear their own manufactures. This treatise was allowed to have not one syllable in it of party or disaffection; but was wholly founded upon the growing poverty of the nation, occasioned by the utter want of trade, except the ruinous importation of all foreign extravagances from other countries. This treatise was presented by the grand jury of the city and county of Dublin, as a scandalous, seditious, and factious pamphlet. I forget who was the foreman of the city grand jury; but the foreman for the county was one Dr. Seal, register to the archbishop of Dublin, wherein he differed much from the sentiments of his lord. The printer was tried before the late Mr. Whitshed, that famous lord chief-justice; who, on the bench, laying his hand on his heart declared upon his salvation "That the author was a jacobite, and had a design to beget a quarrel between the two nations." In the midst of this prosecution about 1500 weavers were forced to beg their bread and had a general contribution made for their relief, which just served to make them drunk for a week; and then they were forced to turn rogues, or strolling beggars, or to leave the kingdom.
The duke of Grafton, who was then lieutenant, being perfectly ashamed of so infamous and unpopular a proceeding, obtained from England a noli prosequi for the printer. Yet the grand jury had solemn thanks given them from the secretary of state.
I mention this passage (perhaps too much forgotten) to show how dangerous it has been for the best meaning person to write one syllable in the defence of his country, or discover the miserable condition it is in.
And to prove this truth, I will produce one insta ce more; wholly omitting the famous cause of the drapier and the proclamation against him, as well as the perverseness of another jury against the same Mr. Whitshed, who was violently bent to act the second part in another scene.
About two years ago there was a small paper printed which was called, "A Short View of the State of Ireland," relating to the several causes whereby any country may grow rich, and applying them to Ireland. Whitshed was dead, and consequently the printer was not troubled. Mist, the famous journalist, happened to reprint this paper in London, for which his pressfolk were prosecuted for almost a twelvemonth; and for aught I know are not yet discharged.
This is our case; insomuch, that although I am often without money in my pocket, I dare not own it in some company for fear of being thought disaffected.
But since I am determined to take care that the author of this paper shall not be discovered (following herein the most prudent practice of the drapier), I will venture to affirm that the three seasons wherein our corn has miscarried did no more contribute to our present misery, than one spoonful of water thrown upon a rat already drowned would contribute to his death; and that the present plentiful harvest, although it should be followed by a dozen ensuing, would no more restore us than it would the rat aforesaid to put him near the fire, which might indeed warm his fur coat but never bring him back to life.
The short of the matter is this: the distresses of the kingdom are operating more and more every day, by very large degrees, and so have been doing for above a dozen years past.
If you demand whence these distresses have arisen, I desire to ask the following question:
If two-thirds of any kingdom's revenue be exported to another country, without one farthing of value in return; and if the said kingdom be forbidden the most profitable branches of trade wherein to employ the other third, and only allowed to traffic in importing those commodities which are most ruinous to itself; how shall that kingdom stand?
If this question were formed into the first proposition of an hypothetical syllogism, I defy the man born in Ireland, who is now in the fairest way of getting a collectorship or a cornet's post, to give good reason for denying it."
Let me put another case. Suppose a gentleman's estate of 2001. a-year should sink to 1007, by some accident, whether by an earthquake or inundation it matters not; and suppose the said gentleman utterly hopeless and unqualified ever to retrieve the loss; how is he otherwise to proceed in his future economy than by reducing it on every article to one half less, unless he will be content to fly his country or rot in gaol? This is a representation of Ireland's condition; only with one fault, that it is a little too favourable. Neither am I able to propose a full remedy for this, but only a small prolongation of life, until God shall miraculously dispose the hearts of our neighbours and our kinsmen, our fellow-protestants, fellow-subjects, and fellow rational creatures, to permit us to starve without running further into debt. I am informed that our national debt (and God knows how we wretches came by that fashionable thing a national debt) is about 250,0007.; which is at least one-third of the whole kingdom's rents, after our absentees and other foreign drains are paid, and about 50,0001. more than all the cash.
It seems there are several schemes for raising a fund to pay the interest of this formidable sum, not the principal, for this is allowed impossible. The necessity of raising such a fund is strongly and regularly pleaded, from the late deficiencies in the duties and customs. And is it a fault of Ireland that these funds are deficient? If they depend on trade, can it possibly be otherwise while we have neither liberty to trade nor money to trade with; neither hands to work, nor business to employ them if we had? Our diseases are visible enongh both in their causes and effects; and the cures are well known, but impossible to be applied.
If my steward comes and tells me, "that my rents are sunk so low, that they are very little more than sufficient to pay my servants their wages;" have I any other course left than to cashier four in six of my rascally footmen, and a number of other varlets in my family, of whose insolence the whole neighbourhood complains? And I would think it extremely severe in any law, to force me to maintain a household of fifty servants and fix their wages, before I had offered my rent-roll upon oath to the legislators.
To return from digressing: I am told one scheme for raising a fund to pay the interest of our national debt is by a further duty of 40s. a tun upon wine. Some gentlemen would carry this much further, by raising it to 127.; which in a manner would amount to a prohibition: thus weakly arguing from the practice of England.
I have often taken notice, both in print and in discourse, that there is no topic so fallacious, either in talk or in writing, as to argue how we ought to act in Ireland from the example of England, Holland, France, or any other country whose inhabitants are allowed the common rights and liberties of humankind. I could undertake to name six or seven of the most uncontrolled maxims in government, which are utterly false in this kingdom.
As to the additional duty on wine, I think any
person may deliver his opinion upon it, until it shall have passed into a law; and till then I declare mine to be positively against it.
First, Because there is no nation yet known in either hemisphere, where the people of all conditions are more in want of some cordial to keep up their spirits than in this of ours. I am not in jest; and if the fact will not be allowed me, I shall not argue it. Secondly, It is too well and generally known that this tax of 40s. additional on every tun of wine (which will be double, at least, to the home consumer) will increase equally every new session of parliament, until perhaps it comes to 127.
Thirdly, Because, as the merchants inform me, and as I have known many the like instances in England, this additional tax will more probably lessen this branch of the revenue than increase it. And therefore Sir John Stanley, a commissioner of the customs in England, used to say, "That the house of commons were generally mistaken in matters of trade, by an erroneous opinion that two and two make four." Thus, if you should lay an additional duty of one penny a pound on raisins or sugar, the revenue instead of rising would certainly sink; and the consequence would only be, to lessen the number of plum-puddings and ruin the confectioner.
Fourthly, I am likewise assured by merchants, that upon this additional 40s. the French will at least equally raise their duties upon all commodities we export thither.
as shall be thought convenient: or by permitting us a free trade, which is denied to no other nation upon earth. The three last methods are treated by Mr. Prior in his most useful treatise added to his list of absentees.
Having, therefore, as far as in me lies abolished this additional duty upon wine; for I am not under the least concern about paying the interest of the national debt, but leave it as in loyalty bound wholly to the wisdom of the honourable house of commons; I come now to consider by what methods we may be able to put off and delay our utter undoing as long as it is possible.
I never have discoursed with any reasonable man upon the subject, who did not allow that there was no remedy left us but to lessen the importation of all unnecessary commodities as much as it was possible; and likewise either to persuade our absentees to spend their money at home, which is impossible; or tax them at five shillings in the pound during their absence, with such allowances upon necessary occasions,
It is to gratify the vanity and pride and luxury of the women, and of the young fops who admire them, that we owe this insupportable grievance of bringing in the instrument of our ruin. There is annually brought over to this kingdom near 90,0007, worth of silk, whereof the greater part is manufactured; 30,000/ more expended in muslin, holland, cambric, and calico. What the price of lace amounts to is not easy to be collected from the custom-house book, being a kind of goods that takes up a little room and is easily run; but considering the prodigious price of a woman's head-dress at 10., 12., 207., a yard must be very great. The tea rated at 7s. per pound, comes to near 12,0007.; but considering it as the common luxury of every chambermaid, sempstress, and tradesman's wife, both in town and country, however they come by it must needs cost the kingdom double that sum. Coffee is somewhat above 7,000l. I have seen no account of chocolate and some other Indian or American goods. The drapery imported is about 24,000. The whole amounts (with one or two other par ticulars) to 150,000. The lavishing of all which money is just as prudent and necessary as to see a man in an embroidered coat begging out of Newgate in an old shoe.
Fifthly, If an original extract of the exports and imports be true, we have been gainers upon the balance by our trade with France for several years past; and although our gain amounts to no great sum, we ought to be satisfied, since we are no losers, with the only consolation we are capable of receiving.
Lastly, The worst consequence is behind. If we raise the duty on wine to a considerable height, we lose the only hold we have of keeping among us the few gentlemen of any tolerable estates. I am confident there is hardly a gentleman of 8007. a-year and upward in this kingdom, who would balance half an hour to consider whether he should live here or in England, if a family could be as cheaply maintained in the one as the other. As to eatables, they are as cheap in many fine counties of England as in some very indifferent ones here; or if there be any dif ference, that vein of thrift and prudence in economy which passes there without reproach, and (chiefly in London itself) would amply make up the difference. But the article of French wine is hardly tolerable, in any degree of plenty, to a middling fortune; and this it is which, by growing habitual, wholly turns the scale with those few landed men disengaged from employments who content themselves to live hospitably❘ FOR PREVENTING THE CHILDREN OF POOR PEOPLE
A MODEST PROPOSAL
with plenty of good wine in their own country, rather
IN IRELAND FROM BEING A BURDEN TO THEIR
I allow that the thrown and raw silk is less pernicious, because we have some share in the manufacture: but we are not now in circumstances to trifle. It costs us above 40,000l. a-year; and if the ladies till better times will not be content to go in their own country shifts, I wish they may go in rags. Let them vie with each other in the fineness of their native linen: their beauty and gentleness will as well appear, as if they were covered with diamonds and brocade.
I believe no man is so weak as to hope or expect that such a reformation can be brought about by a law. But a thorough hearty unanimous vote in both houses of parliament might perhaps answer as well: every senator, noble or plebeian, giving his honour, "That neither himself nor any of his family would in their dress, or furniture of their houses, make use of anything except what was of the growth and manufacture of this kingdom; and that they would use the utmost of their power, influence and credit, to prevail on their tenants, dependents and friends, to follow their example."
A foreign author is said actually to have considered the proposal as serious, and to have quoted it as an instance of the extremity under which Ireland laboured.
It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants; who as they grow up either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country to fight for the pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.