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an attempt. But a wise and good prince, at the head of an able ministry, and of a senate freely chosen, all united to pursue the true interest of their country, is a power against which the little inferiour politicks of any faction, will be able to make no long resistance. To this we may add one additional strength, which in the opinion of our adversaries is the greatest and justest of any; I mean the vox populi, so indisputably declarative on the same side. I am apt to believe, when these discarded politicians begin seriously to consider all this, they will think it proper to give out, and reserve their wisdom for some more convenient juncture.
It is pleasant enough to observe, that those who were the chief instruments of raising the noise, who started fears, bespoke dangers, and formed ominous prognosticks, in order to scare the allies, to spirit the French, and fright ignorant people at home, made use of those very opinions themselves had broached, for arguments to prove that the change of ministers was dangerous and unseasonable. But if a house be swept, the more occasion there is for such a work, the more dust it will raise; if it be going to ruin, the repairs, however necessary, will make a noise, and disturb the neighbourhood a while. And as to the rejoicings made in France, if it be true that they had any, upon the news of those alterations among us; their joy was grounded upon the same hopes with that of the whigs, who comforted themselves, that the change of ministry and parliament would infallibly put us all into confusion, increase our divisions, and destroy our credit, wherein I suppose by this time they are equally undeceived.
But this long session being in a manner ended, which several circumstances, and one accident altogether unforeseen, have drawn out beyond the usual time; it may be some small piece of justice to so excellent an assembly, barely to mention a few of those
great things they have done, for the service of their queen and country, which I shall take notice of just as they come to my memory.
The credit of the nation began mightily to suffer by a discount upon Exchequer bills, which have been generally reckoned the surest and most sacred of all securities. The present lord treasurer, then a member of the house of commons, proposed a method, which was immediately complied with, of raising them to a par with species; and so they have ever since continued.
The British colonies of Nevis and St. Christopher's had been miserably plundered by the French, their houses burnt, their plantations destroyed, and many of the inhabitants carried away prisoners; they had often, for some years past, applied in vain for relief from hence; until the present parliament, considering their condition as a case of justice and mercy, voted them one hundred thousand pounds by way of recom pense, in some manner, for their sufferings.
Some persons, whom the voice of the nation au thorizes me to call her enemies, taking advantage of the general naturalization act, had invited over a great number of foreigners of all religions, under the name of Palatines, who understood no trade or handicraft, yet rather chose to beg than labour; who, bes side infesting our streets, bred contagious diseases, by which we lost in natives thrice the number of what we gained in foreigners. The house of commons, as a remedy against this evil, brought in a bill for repealing that act of general naturalization; which, to the surprise. of most people, was rejected by the lords. And upon this occasion I must allow myself to have been justly rebuked by one of my weekly monitors, for pretending, in a former paper, to hope that law would be repealed; wherein the commons being disappointed, took care however to send many
of the Palatines away, and to represent their being invited over as a pernicious counsel.
The qualification-bill, incapacitating all men to serve in parliament, who have not some estate in land, either in possession or certain reversion, is perhaps the greatest security that ever was contrived for preserving the constitution, which otherwise might in a little time lie wholly at the mercy of the monied interest. And since much the greatest part of the taxes is paid either immediately from land, or from its productions, it is but common justice, that those, who are the proprietors, should appoint what portion of it ought to go to the support of the publick; otherwise, the engrossers of money would be apt to lay heavy loads on others, which themselves never touch with one of their fingers.
The publick debts were so prodigiously increased by the negligence and corruption of those who had been managers of the revenue, that the late ministers, like careless men who run out their fortunes, were so far from any thoughts of payment, that they had not the courage to state or compute them. The parliament found, that thirty-five millions had never been accounted for; and that the debt on the navy, wholly unprovided for, amounted to nine millions. The late chancellor of the Exchequer*, suitable to his transcendant genius for publick affairs, proposed a fund, to be security for that immense debt; which is now confirmed by a law, and is likely to prove the greatest restoration and establishment of the kingdom's credit. Not content with this, the legislature has appointed commissioners of accompts to inspect into past mismanagements of the publick money, and prevent them for the future.
I have in a former paper mentioned the act for building fifty new churches in London and Westminster, with a fund appropriated for that pious and
* Earl of Oxford. H.
noble work. But while I am mentioning acts of piety, it would be unjust to conceal my lord high treasurer's concern for religion, which has extended even to another kingdom: his lordship having some months ago obtained of her majesty the first fruits and tenths to the clergy of Ireland, as he is known to have before done to that reverend body here *.
The act for carrying on a trade to the South-sea, proposed by the same great person, whose thoughts are perpetually employed, and ever with success, on the good of his country, will, in all probability, if duly executed, be of mighty advantage to the kingdom, and an everlasting honour to the present parlia❤
I might go on farther, and mention that season. able law against excessive gaming; and putting a stop to that scandalous fraud of false musters in the guards; the diligent and effectual inquiry made by the commons into several gross abuses. I might produce many instances of their impartial justice in deciding controverted elections, against former example, and great provocations to retaliate. I might show their cheerful readiness in granting such vast supplies; their great unanimity, not to be broken by all the arts of a malicious and cunning faction; their unfeigned duty to the queen; and lastly, that representation made to her majesty from the house of commons, discovering such a spirit and disposition in that noble assembly to redress all those evils, which a long maleadministration had brought upon
. It is probable, that trusting only to my memory, I may have omitted many things of great importance; neither do I pretend further in the compass of this paper, than to give the world some general, however imperfect idea, how worthily this great assem
* See the Journal to Stella, passim. N.
bly has discharged the trust of those who so freely chose them; and what we may reasonably hope and expect from the piety, courage, wisdom, and loyalty of such excellent patriots, in a time so fruitful of occasions to exert the greatest abilities.
And now I conceive the main design I had in writing these papers is fully executed. A great majority of the nation is at length thoroughly convinced, that the queen proceeded with the highest wisdom in changing her ministry and parliament; that under a former administration the greatest abuses of all kinds were committed, and the most dangerous attempts against the constitution for some time intended. The whole kingdom finds the present persons in power, directly and openly pursuing the true service of their queen and country; and to be such, whom their most bitter enemies cannot tax with bribery, covetousness, ambition, pride, insolence, or any pernicious principles in religion or government.
For my own particular, those little barking curs, which have so constantly pursued me, I take to be of no farther consequence to what I have written, than the scoffing slaves of old, placed behind the chariot to put the general in mind of his mortality; which was but a thing of form, and made no stop or disturbance in the show. However, if those perpetual snarlers against me had the same design, I must own they have effectually compassed it; since nothing can well be more mortifying than to reflect, that I am of the same species with creatures, capable of uttering so much scurrility, dulness, falsehood, and impertinence, to the scandal and disgrace of hu、