« PreviousContinue »
to our country, and a scandal to Christianity, that in many towns, where there is a prodigious increase in the number of houses and inhabitants, so little care shall be taken for the building of churches, that five parts in six of the people are absolutely hindered from hearing divine service ? particularly here in London, # where a single minifter, with one or two sorry curates, hath the care sometimes of above twenty thousand souls incumbent on him. A neglect of religion, so ignominious, in my opinion, that it can hardly be equalled in any civilized age or country.
But, to leave these airy imaginations of introducing new laws for the amendment of mankind; what I principally infist on, is a due execution of the old, which lies wholly in the crown, and in the authority derived from thence. I return therefore to my former assertion, That if ftations of power, trust, profit, and honour, were constantly made the rewards of virtue and piety, such an administration must needs have a mighty influence on the faith and morals of the whole kingdom : and men of great abilities would then endeavour to excel in the duties of a religious life, in order to qualify themselves for public service. I
may possibly be wrong in some of the means I prescribe towards this end ; but that is no material objection against the design itself. Let those who are at the helm, contrive it better, which perhaps they may easily do. Every body will agree, that the disease is manifest, as well as dangerous ; that some remedy is necessary, and that none, yet applied, hath been effectual ; which is a fufficient excuse for any man, who wishes well to his country, to offer his thoughts, when he can have no other end in view ; but the public good. The present Queen is a princess of as many and great virtues as ever filled a throne: how would it brighten her character to the present and after ages, if she would exert her utınost authority to instil some share of those virtues into her people, which they are too degenerate to learn . only from her example ? and, be it fpoke with all the veneration poflible for so excellent a lovereign, her best endeavours in this weighty affair are a molt important part of her duty, as well as of her interest, and her honour,
who * This paragraph is known to have given the first hint to certain Bishops, particularly to Bishop Atterbury, in the Earl of Oxford's ministry, to procure a fund for building fifty new churches in London.
But it must be confessed, that, as things are now, every man thinks he has laid in a sufficient stock of merit, and may pretend to any employment, provided he hath been loud and frequent in declaring himself hearty for the government. It is true, he is a man of pleasure, a free-thinker ; that is, in other words, he is profligate in his morals, and a despiser of religion; but, in point of party, he is one to be confided in; he is an afferter of liberty and property; he rattles it out against Popery and arbitrary power, and priestcraft and high-church. It is enough: he is a person fully VOL. II.
qualified for any employment in the court or the navy, the law or the revenue; where he will be sure to leave no arts untried of bribery, fraud, injustice, or oppression, that he can practise with any hope of impunity. No wonder fuch men are true to a government, where liberty runs high, where property, however attained, is so well fecured, and where the administration is at least fo gentle : it is impoflible they could chuse any on ther constitution, without changing to their loss.
Fidelity to a present establishment, is indeed the principal means to defend it from a foreign enemy; but, without other qualifications, will not prevent corruptions from within ; and fates are more often ruined by these, than the other.
To conclude: Whether the propofals I have offered towards a reformation, be fuch as are most prudent and convenient, may probably be a queftion : but it is none at all, whether fome reformation be abfolutely neceffary: because the nature of things is such, that if abuses be not remedied, they will certainly increase, nor ever ftop till they end in a subversion of a commonwealth. As there must always, of necessity, be some corruptions, fo, in a well-instituted state, the executive power will be always contending against them, by reducing things (as Machiavel fpeaks) to their forft principles, never letting abufes grow inveterate, or multiply so far, that it will be hard to find remedies, and perhaps impossible to apply them. As he that would keep his house in re
pair, must attend every little breach or flaw, and fupply it immediately, else time alone will bring all to ruin ; how much more the common accidents of Itorms and rain ? He muft live in perpetual danger of his house falling about his ears ; and will find it cheaper to throw it quite down, and build it again from the ground, perhaps upon a new foundation, or, at least, in a new form, which may neither be fo safe, nor so convenient as the old,
W Hoever hath examined the conduct and
proceedings of both parties for some years paft, whether in or out of power, cannot well conceive it possible to go far towards the extremes of either, without offering some violence to his integrity or understanding. A wise and a good man may indeed be sometimes induced to comply with a number, whose opinion he gene
* This piece is adapted to that particular period in which it was written. The style of the whole pamphlet is nervous, and, except in some few places, impartial. The state of Holland is justly, and, at the same time, concisely delineated. This tract is very well worth one's reading and attention : and it confirms an observation which will perpetually occur, that Swift excels in whatever style or manner he assumes. When he is in earnest, his strength of reason carries with it conviction ; when in jest, every competitor in the race of wit is left behind him. Orrery.
This piece fecmeth to have been one of Swift's projects for uniting of parties, and written with a design to check that rage