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have ever observed, are such as, in the conduct of their lives, have discovered least sense of religion and morality; and when all such are laid afide, at least those among them who shall be found incorrigible, it will be a matter perhaps of no great difficulty to reconcile the rest.
The many corruptions at present in every branch of business, are almoft inconceivable. I have heard it computed by skilful persons, that of six millions raised every year for the service of the public, one third, at least, is funk and intercepted through the several claffes and subordinations of artful men in office, before the remainder is applied to the proper use. This is an accidental ill effect of our freedom. And while such men are in trust, who have no check from within, nor any views but towards their interest, there is no other fence against them, but the certainty of being hanged upon the first discovery, by the arbitrary will of an unlimited monarch, or his via zier. Among us, the only danger to be apprehended, is the lofs of an employment; and that danger is to be eluded a thousand ways. Besides, when fraud is great, it furnishes weapons to defend itself: and, at worst, if the crimes be so flagrant, that a man is laid aside out of perfect shame, (which rarely happens,) he retires loaded with the spoils of the nation ; et fruitur diis iratis. I could name a commission, where several persons, out of a falary of five hundred pounds, without other visible revenues, have always lived at the
rate of two thousand, and laid out forty or fifty thousand upon purchases of land or annuities. An hundred other instances of the same kind might easily be produced. What remedy therefore can be found against such grievances in a constitution like ours, but to bring religion into countenance, and encourage those, who, from the hope of future reward, and dread of future punishment, will be moved to act with justice and integrity ?
This is not to be accomplished any other way, than by introducing religion, as much as possible, to be the turn and fashion of the age; which only lies in the power of the administration; the. prince with utmost strictness regulating the court, the ministry, and other persons in great employment; and these, by their example and authority, reforming all who have dependence on them.
It is certain, that a reformation successfully care ried on in this great town, would, in time, spread itself over the whole kingdom; since most of the considerable youth pass here that season of their lives, wherein the strongest impressions are made, in order to improve their education, or advance. their fortune; and those among them who return into their several countries, are sure to be followed and imitated, as the greatest patterns of wit and good-breeding.
And if things were once in this train; that is, if virtue and religion were established as the necessary titles to reputation and preferment, and if vice and infidelity were not only loaden with infamy,
but made the infallible ruin of all mens pretenfions; our duty, by becoming our interest, would take root in our natures, and mix with the very genius of our people; so that it would not be easy for the example of one wicked prince to bring us back to our former corruptions.
I have confined myself (as it is before observed) to those methods for the advancement of piety, which are in the power of a prince limited like ours, by a strict execution of the laws already in force. And this is enough for a project that comes without any name or recommendation ; I doubt a great deal more, than will be suddenly reduced into practice. Though, if any disposition should appear towards so good a work, it is certain, that the affiftance of the legislative power would be necessary to make it more complete. I will instance only a few particulars.
In order to reform the vices of this town, which, as we have said, hath so mighty an influence on the whole kingdom, it would be very instrumental to have a law made, that all taverns and alehouses should be obliged to dismiss their company by twelve at night, and shut up their doors; and that no woman should be suffered to enter any tavern or alehouse,, upon any pretence whatsoever. It is easy to conceive, what a number of ill consequences such a law would prevent; the mischiefs of quarrels, and lewdness, and thefts, and midnight-brawls, the diseases of intemperance and vencry, and a thousand other evils needthey far
less to mention. Nor would it be amiss, if the masters of those public houses were obliged, upon the feverest penalties, to give only a proportioned quantity of drink to every company; and when he found his guests disordered with excess, to refuse them any more.
I believe there is hardly a nation in Christendom, where all kind of fraud is practised in so unmeasurable a degree as with us. The lawyer, the tradesman, the mechanic, have found so many arts to deceive in their several callings, that
outgrow the common prudence of mankind, which is in no fort able to fence against them. Neither could the legislature in any thing more consult the public good, than by providing some effectual remedy against this evil ; which in several cases deferves greater punishment, than many crimes that are capital among us. The vintner, who, by mixing poison with his wine, destroys more lives than any malignant disease ; the lawyer, who persuades you to a purchase, which he knows is mortgaged for more than the worth, to the ruin of you and your family, the banker or scrivener, who takes all your fortune, to dispose of, when he has beforehand resolved to break the following day, do surely deserve the gallows much better than the wretch who is carried there for stealing a horse.
It cannot easily be answered to God or man, why a law is not made for limiting the press; at leaft fo far as to prevent the publishing of such
pernicious books, as, under pretence of free-thinking, endeavour to overthrow those tenets in religion, which have been held inviolable almost in all ages, by every fect that pretends to be Christian; and cannot therefore, with any colour of reason, be called points in controversy, or matters of speculation, as some would pretend. The doctrine of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the immortality of the foul, and even the truth of all revelation, are daily exploded and denied in books openly printed ; though it is to be supposed, neither party * avow such principles, or own the supporting of them to be any way necessary to their service.
It would be endless to set down every corruption or defect which requires a remedy from the legislative power: Senates are like to have little regard for any proposals that come from without doors; thougli, under a due sense of my own inabilities, I am fully convinced, that the unbiafled thoughts of an honest and wife man, employed on the good of his country, may be better digested, than the results of a multitude, where faction and interest too often prevail; as a single guide may direct the way, better than five hundred who have contrary views, or lock asquint, or shut their eyes.
I shall therefore mention but one more particular, which I think the parliament ought to take under consideration; whether it be not a shame
* Neither Whig nor Tory.