Imágenes de páginas

parties in a state? For instance: do not the generality of Whigs and Tories among us profess to agree in the same fundamentals, their loyalty to the queen, their abjuration of the pretender, the settlement of the crown in the protestant line, and a revolution principle? their affection to the church established, with toleration of dissenters? nay, sometimes they go further, and pass over into each other's principles; the Whigs become great assertors of the prerogative, and the Tories of the people's liberty; these, crying down almost the whole set of bishops, and those defending them; so that the differences, fairly stated, would be much of a sort with those in religion among us, and amount to little more than who should take place, or go in and out first, or kiss the queen's hand; and what are these but a few court ceremonies? or who should be in the ministry; and what is that to the body of the nation but a mere speculative point? yet I think it must be allowed that no religious sects ever carried their mutual aversions to greater heights than our state parties have done; who, the more to inflame their passions, have mixed religious and civil animosities together; borrowing one of their appellations from the church, with the addition of high and low, how little soever their disputes relate to the term as it is generally understood.

I now proceed to deliver the sentiments of a churchof-England man with respect to government.

He does not think the church of England so narrowly calculated that it cannot fall in with any regular species of government, nor does he think any one regular species of government more acceptable to God than another. The three generally received in the schools have all of them their several perfections, and are subject to their several depravations. However, few states are ruined by any defect in their institution, but generally by the corruption of manners; against which the best institution is no longer a security; and without which a very ill one may subsist and flourish; whereof there are two pregnant instances now in Europe. The first is, the aristocracy of Venice, which, founded upon the wisest maxims and digested by a great length of time, has in our age admitted so many abuses through the degeneracy of the nobles, that the period of its duration seems to approach. The other is, the united republics of the states-general, where a vein of temperance, industry, parsimony, and a public spirit, running through the whole body of the people, has preserved an infant commonwealth, of an untimely birth and sickly constitution, for above a hundred years, through so many dangers and difficulties as a much more healthy one could never have struggled against without those advantages.

Where security of person and property are preserved by laws which none but the whole can repeal, there the great ends of government are provided for, whether the administration be in the hands of one or of many. Where any one person or body of men, who do not represent the whole, seize into their hands the power in the last resort, there is properly no longer a government, but what Aristotle and his followers call the abuse and corruption of one. This distinction excludes arbitrary power, in whatever numbers; which notwithstanding all that Hobbes, Filmer, and others, have said to its advantage, I look upon as a greater evil than anarchy itself, as much as a savage is in a happier state of life than a slave at the oar.

It is reckoned ill manners, as well as unreasonable, for men to quarrel upon difference in opinion; because that is usually supposed to be a thing which no man can help in himself: but this I do not conceive to be a universal infallible maxim, except in those cases where the question is pretty equally disputed among the learned and the wise: where it is otherwise, a man of tolerable reason, some experience, and willing to be in

[ocr errors]

structed, may apprehend he is got into a wrong opinion, though the whole course of his mind and inclination would persuade him to believe it true; he may be convinced that he is in an error, though he does not see where it lies, by the bad effects of it in the common conduct of his life, and by observing those persons for whose wisdom and goodness he has the greatest deference to be of a contrary sentiment. According to Hobbes's comparison of reasoning with casting up accounts, whoever finds a mistake in the sum total must allow himself out, though, after repeated trials, he may not see in which article he has misreckoned. I will instance in one opinion, which I look upon every man obliged in conscience to quit or in prudence to conceal; I mean that, whoever argues in defence of absolute power in a single person, though he offers the old plausible plea that it is his opinion, which he cannot help unless he be convinced, ought in all free states to be treated as the common enemy of mankind. Yet this is laid as a heavy charge upon the clergy of the two reigns before the revolution, who, under the terms of passive obedience and nonresistance, are said to have preached up the unlimited power of the prince, because they found it a doctrine that pleased the court and made way for their preferment. And I believe there may be truth enough in this accusation to convince us that human frailty will too often interpose itself among persons of the holiest function. However, it may be offered in excuse for the clergy, that in the best societies there are some ill members which a corrupted court and ministry will industriously find out and introduce. Besides, it is manifest that the greater number of those who held and preached this doctrine were misguided by equivocal terms, and by perfect ignorance in the principles of government,, which they had not made any part of their study. The question originally put, and, as I remember to have heard it disputed in public schools, was this, Whether, under any pretence whatsoever, it may be lawful to resist the supreme magistrate? which was held in the negative; and this is certainly the right opinion. But many of the clergy, and other learned men, deceived by dubious expression, mistook the object to which passive obedience was due. By the supreme magistrate, is properly understood the legislative power, which in all governments must be absolute and unlimited. But the word magistrate seeming to denote a single person, and to express the executive power, it came to pass that the obedience due to the legislature was, for want of knowing or considering this easy distinction, misapplied to the administration. Neither is it any wonder that the clergy or other well-meaning people should fall into this error, which deceived Hobbes himself so far as to be the foundation of all the political mistakes in his books; where he perpetually confounds the executive with the legislative power, though all well-instituted states have ever placed them in different hands, as may be obvious to those who know anything of Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and other republics of Greece, as well as the greater ones of Carthage

and Rome.

Besides, it is to be considered that when these doctrines began to be preached among us, the kingdom had not quite worn out the memory of that horrid rebellion under the consequences of which it had groaned almost twenty years. And a weak prince, in conjunction with a succession of most prostitute ministers, began again to dispose the people to new attempts, which it was, no doubt, the clergy's duty to endeavour to prevent; though some of them, for want of knowledge in temporal affairs, and others perhaps from a worse principle, proceeded upon a topic that, strictly followed, would enslave all mankind.

Among other theological arguments made use of in

those times in praise of monarchy and justification of absolute obedience to a prince, there seemed to be one of a singular nature: it was urged that Heaven was governed by a monarch who had none to control his power, but was absolutely obeyed: then it followed, that earthly governments were the more perfect, the nearer they imitated the government in Heaven. All which I look upon as the strongest argument against despotic power that ever was offered; since no reason can possibly be assigned, why it is best for the world that God Almighty has such a power which does not directly prove that no mortal man should ever have the like.

But, though a church-of-England man thinks every species of government equally lawful, he does not think them equally expedient, or for every country indifferently. There may be something in the climate naturally disposing men toward one sort of obedience; as is manifest all over Asia, where we never read of any commonwealth, except some small ones on the western coasts, established by the Greeks. There may be a great deal in the situation of a country and in the present genius of the people. It has been observed that the temperate climates usually run into moderate governments, and the extremes into despotic power. It is a remark of Hobbes, that the youth of England are corrupted in their principles of government by reading the authors of Greece and Rome, who writ under commonwealths. But it might have been more fairly offered for the honour of liberty, that, while the rest of the known world was overrun with the arbitrary government of single persons, arts and sciences took their rise and flourished only in those few small territories where the people were free. And though learning may continue after liberty is lost, as it did in Rome for a while upon the foundations laid under the commonwealth and the particular patronage of some emperors, yet it hardly ever began under a tyranny in any nation; because slavery is of all things the greatest clog and obstacle to speculation. And, indeed, arbitrary power is but the first natural step from anarchy or the savage life; the adjusting of power and freedom being an effect and consequence of maturer thinking: and this is nowhere so duly regulated as in a limited monarchy because I believe it may pass for a maxim in state, that the administration cannot be placed in too few hands, nor the legislature in too many. Now, in this material point, the constitution of the English government far exceeds all others at this time on the earth; to which the present establishment of the church does so happily agree, that I think whoever is an enemy to either, must of necessity be so to both.


He thinks, as our monarchy is constituted, an hereditary right is much to be preferred before election. Because the government here, especially by some late amendments, is so regularly disposed in all its parts, that it almost executes itself. And therefore, upon the death of a prince among us, the administration goes on without any rub or interruption. For the same reasons, we have less to apprehend from the weakness or fury of our monarchs, who have such wise councils to guide the first and laws to restrain the other. And therefore this hereditary right should be kept so sacred as never to break the succession, unless where the preserving of it may endanger the constitution; which is not from any intrinsic merit, or unalienable right, in a particular family, but to avoid the consequences that usually attend the ambition of competitors, to which elective kingdoms are exposed; and which is the only obstacle to hinder them from arriving at the greatest perfection that government can possibly reach. Hence appears the absurdity of that distinction between a king de facto and one de jure, with respect to us. For every limited monarch is a king de jure, because he governs by the

consent of the whole, which is authority sufficient to abolish all precedent right. If a king come in by conquest, he is no longer a limited monarch; if he afterward consent to limitations, he becomes immediately king de jure for the same reason.


The great advocates for succession, who affirm it ought not to be violated upon any regard or consideration whatsoever, do insist much upon one argument, that seems to carry little weight. They would have it that a crown is a prince's birthright, and ought at least to be as well secured to him and his posterity as the inheritance of any private man; in short, that he has the same title to his kingdom which every individual has to his property: now the consequence of this doctrine must be, that, as a man may find several ways to waste, misspend, or abuse his patrimony, without being answerable to the laws; so a king may in like manner do what he will with his own; that is, he may squander and misapply his revenues, and even alienate the crown, without being called to an account by his subjects. They allow such a prince to be guilty, indeed, of much folly and wickedness, but for these he is answerable to God, as every private man must be, that is guilty of mismanagement in his own concerns. Now, the folly of this reasoning will best appear by applying it in a parallel Should any man argue that a physician is supposed to understand his own art best; that the law protects and encourages his profession; and therefore, although he should manifestly prescribe poison to all his patients, whereof they should immediately die, he cannot be justly punished, but is answerable only to God or should the same be offered in behalf of a divine, who would preach against religion and moral duties; in either of these two cases, everybody would find out the sophistry, and presently answer that, although common men are not exactly skilled in the composition or application of medicines, or in prescribing the limits of duty, yet the difference between poisons and remedies is easily known by their effects; and common reason soon distinguishes between virtue and vice: and it must be necessary to forbid both these the further practice of their professions, because their crimes are not purely personal to the physician or the divine, but destructive to the public. All which is infinitely stronger in respect to a prince, in whose good or ill conduct the happiness or misery of a whole nation is included: whereas it is of small consequence to the public, further than example, how any private person manages his property.


But granting that the right of a lineal successor to a crown were upon the same foot with the property of a subject, still it may at any time be transferred by the legislative power, as other properties frequently are. The supreme power in a state can do no wrong, because whatever that does is the action of all: and when the lawyers apply this maxim to the king, they must understand it only in that sense as he is administrator of the supreme power; otherwise it is not universally true, but may be controlled in several instances easy to produce.

And these are the topics we must proceed upon to justify our exclusion of the young pretender in France; that of his suspected birth being merely popular, and therefore not made use of, as I remember, since the revolution, in any speech, vote, or proclamation, where there was an occasion to mention him.

As to the abdication of king James, which the advocates on that side look upon to have been forcible and unjust, and consequently void in itself, I think a man may observe every article of the English church without being in much pain about it. It is not unlikely that all doors were laid open for his departure, and perhaps not without the privity of the prince of Orange, as reasonably concluding that the kingdom

might be better settled in his absence; but to affirm he had any cause to apprehend the same treatment with his father is an improbable scandal flung upon the nation by a few bigoted French scribblers, or the invidious assertion of a ruined party at home in the bitterness of their souls; not one material circumstance agreeing with those in 1648; and the greatest part of the nation having preserved the utmost horror for that ignominious murder: but whether his removal were caused by his own fears or other men's artifices, it is manifest to me that, supposing the throne to be vacant, which was the foot the nation went upon, the body of the people were thereupon left at liberty to choose what forms of government they pleased, by themselves or their representatives.

The only difficulty of any weight against the proceedings at the revolution is an obvious objection to which the writers upon that subject have not yet given a direct or sufficient answer, as if they were in pain at some consequences which they apprehend those of the contrary opinion might draw from it. I will 'repeat this objection as it was offered me some time ago, with all its advantages, by a very pious, learned, and worthy gentleman of the nonjuring party.

The force of his argument turned upon this; that the laws made by the supreme power cannot otherwise than by the supreme power be annulled: that this consisting in England of a king, lords, and commons, whereof each have a negative voice, no two of them can repeal or enact a law without consent of the third; much less may any one of them be entirely excluded from its part of the legislature by a vote of the other two. That all these maxims were openly violated at the revolution; where an assembly of the nobles and people, not summoned by the king's writ (which was an essential part of the constitution), and consequently no-lawful meeting, did, merely upon their own authority, declare the king to have abdicated, the throne vacant, and gave the crown by a vote to a nephew, when there were three children to inherit; though by the fundamental laws of the realm the next heir is immediately to succeed. Neither does it appear how a prince's abdication can make any other sort of vacancy in the throne than would be caused by his death; since he cannot abdicate for his children (who claim their right of succession by act of parliament) otherwise than by his own consent in form to a bill from the two houses.

And this is the difficulty that seems chiefly to stick with the most reasonable of those who, from a mere scruple of conscience, refuse to join with us upon the revolution principle; but for the rest, are I believe as far from loving arbitrary government as any others can be who are born under a free constitution and are allowed to have the least share of common good


In this objection there are two questions included: first, Whether, upon the foot of our constitution, as it stood in the reign of the late king James, a king of England may be deposed? The second is, Whether the people of England, convened by their own authority after the king had withdrawn himself in the manner he did, had power to alter the succession?

As for the first, it is a point I shall not presume to determine; and shall therefore only say, that to any man who holds the negative I would demand the liberty of putting the case as strongly as I please. I will suppose a prince limited by laws like ours, yet running into a thousand caprices of cruelty, like Nero or Caligula; I will suppose him to murder his mother and his wife; to commit incest, to ravish matrons, to blow up the senate, and burn his metropolis; openly to renounce God and Christ, and worship the devil: these and the like exorbitances are in the power of a

single person to commit, without the advice of a ministry or assistance of an army. And if such a king as I have described cannot be deposed but by his own consent in parliament, I do not well see how how he can be resisted, or what can be meant by a limited monarchy; or what signifies the people's consent in making and repealing laws, if the person who administers has no tie but conscience, and is answerable to none but God. I desire no stronger proof that an opinion must be false than to find very great absurdities annexed to it, and there cannot be greater than in the present case; for it is not a bare speculation that kings may run into such enormities as are above mentioned: the practice may be proved by examples, not only drawn from the first Cæsars or later emperors, but many modern princes of Europe; such as Peter the Cruel, Philip II. of Spain, John Basilovitz of Muscovy, and in our own nation, king John, Richard III., and Henry VIII. But there cannot be equal absurdities supposed in maintaining the contrary opinion; because it is certain that princes have it in their power to keep a majority on their side, by any tolerable administration, till provoked by continual oppressions; no man indeed can then answer where the madness of the people will stop.

As to the second part of the objection, Whether the people of England, convened by their owu authority upon king James's precipitate departure, had power to alter the succession?

In answer to this, I think it is manifest, from the practice of the wisest nations, and who seem to have had the truest notions of freedom, that, when a prince was laid aside for mal-administration, the nobles and people, if they thought it necessary for the public weal, did resume the administration of the supreme power (the power itself having been always in them), and did not only alter the succession, but often the very form of government too, because they believed there was no natural right in one man to govern another, but that all was by institution, force, or consent. Thus the cities of Greece, when they drove out their tyrannical kings, either chose others from a new family or abolished the kingly government and became free states. Thus the Romans, upon the expulsion of Tarquin, found it inconvenient for them to be subject any longer to the pride, the lust, the cruelty, and arbitrary will of single persons, and therefore, by general consent, entirely altered the whole frame of their government. Nor do I find the proceedings of either, in this point, to have been condemned by any historian of the succeeding ages.

But a great deal has been alrready said by other writers upon this invidious and beaten subject; therefore I shall let it fall, though the point is commonly mistaken, especially by the lawyers, who, of all others, seem least to understand the nature of government in general; like under-workmen, who are expert enough at making a single wheel in a clock, but are utterly ignorant how to adjust the several parts or regulate the


To return, therefore, from this digression: It is a church-of-England man's opinion that the freedom of a nation consists in an absolute unlimited legislative power, wherein the whole body of the people are fairly represented, and in an executive duly limited; because on this side likewise there may be dangerous degrees and a very ill extreme. For, when two parties in a state are pretty equal in power, pretensions, merit and virtue (for these two last are, with relation to parties and a court, quite different things), it has been the opinion of the best writers upon government that a prince ought not in any sort to be under the guidance or influence of either; because he declines by this means from his office of presiding over the whole, to be the head of a

party; which, besides the indignity, renders him answerable for all public mismanagements, and the consequences of them; and in whatever state this happens, there must either be a weakness in the prince or ministry; or else the former is too much restrained by the nobles or those who represent the people.

To conclude: a church-of-England man may, with prudence and a good conscience, approve the professed principles of one party more than the other, according as he thinks they best promote the good of church and state; but he will never be swayed by passion or interest to advance an opinion merely because it is that of the party he most approves; which one single principle he looks upon as the root of all our civil animosities. To enter into a party, as into an order of friars, with so resigned an obedience to superiors, is very unsuitable both with the civil and religious liberties we so zealously assert. Thus the understandings of a whole senate are often enslaved by three or four leaders on each side, who, instead of intending the public weal, have their hearts wholly set upon ways and means how to get or to keep employments. But to speak more at large, how has this spirit of faction mingled itself with the mass of the people, changed their nature and manners, and the very genius of the nation? broke all the laws of charity, neighbourhood, alliance, and hospitality? destroyed all ties of friendship, and divided families against themselves? and no wonder it should be so, when, in order to find out the character of a person, instead of inquiring whether he be a man of virtue, honour, piety, wit, good sense, or learning, the modern question is only, whether he be a Whig or a Tory; under which terms all good and ill qualities are included.

Now, because it is a point of difficulty to choose an exact middle between two ill extremes, it may be worth inquiring in the present case which of these a wise and good man would rather seem to avoid; taking therefore their own good and ill characters, with due abatements and allowances for partiality and passion, I should think that, in order to preserve the constitution entire in church and state, whoever has a true value for both would be sure to avoid the extremes of Whig for the sake of the former, and the extremes of Tory on account of the latter.

as this discourse is not calculated for dissenters of any kind, so neither will it suit the talk or sentiments of those persons who, with the denomination of churchmen, are oppressors of the inferior clergy, and perpetually quarrelling at the great incomes of the bishops; which is a traditional cant delivered down from former times, and continued with great reason, although it be near 200 years since almost three parts in four of the church revenues have been taken from the clergy, beside the spoils that have been gradually made ever since of glebes and other land, by the confusion of times, the fraud of encroaching neighbours, or the power of oppressors too great to be encountered.

About the time of the Reformation many popish bishops of this kingdom, knowing they must have been soon ejected if they would not change their religion, made long leases and fee-farms of great part of their lands, reserving very inconsiderable rents, sometimes only a chiefry, by a power they assumed directly contrary to many ancient canons, yet consistent enough with the common law. This trade held on for many years after the bishops became Protestants; and some of their names are still remembered with infamy, on account of enriching their families by such sacrilegious alienations. By these means episcopal revenues were so low reduced that three or four sees were often united to make a tolerable competency. For some remedy to this evil, king James I., by a bounty that became a good Christian prince, bestowed several forfeited lands on the northern bishoprics: but in all other parts of the kingdom the church continued still in the same distress and poverty; some of the sees hardly possessing enough to maintain a country vicar. About the middle of king Charles I.'s reign the legislature here thought fit to put a stop at least to any further alienations; and so a law was enacted prohibiting all bishops and other ecclesiastical corporations from setting their lands for above the term of twenty-one years; the rent reserved to be one-half of the real value of such lands at the time they were set, without which condition the lease to be void.

Soon after the restoration of king Charles II. the parliament, taking into consideration the miserable estate of the church, certain lands, by way of augment

ment, and confirmed in the act of explanation; of which bounty, as I remember, three sees were in a great measure defeated; but by what accidents it is not here of any importance to relate.

I have now said all that I could think convenientation, were granted to eight bishops in the act of settleupon so nice a subject, and find I have the ambition common with other reasoners, to wish at least that both parties may think me in the right; which would be of some use to those who have any virtue left, but are blindly drawn into the extravagancies of either, upon false representations, to serve the ambition or malice of designing men, without any prospect of their own. But if that is not to be hoped for, my next wish should be, that both might think me in the wrong; which I would understand as an ample justification of myself, and a sure ground to believe that I have proceeded at least with impartiality, and perhaps with truth.

[blocks in formation]

This at present is the condition of the church in Ireland with regard to episcopal revenues; which I have thus briefly (and perhaps imperfectly) deduced for some information to those whose thoughts do not lead them to such considerations.

By virtue of the statute already mentioned, under king Charles I., limiting ecclesiastical bodies to the term of twenty-one years under the reserved rent of half real value, the bishops have had some share in the gradual rise of lands, without which they could not have been supported with any common decency that might become their station. It is above eighty years since the passing of that act: the see of Meath, one of the best in the kingdom, was then worth about 4007. per annum; the poorer ones in the same proportion. If they would have been able to pay for their patents or this were their present condition, I cannot conceive how buy their robes: but this will certainly be the condition of their successors, if such a bill should pass as they say is now intended, which I will suppose; and of which I believe many persons who may give a vote for it are not aware.

However, this is the act which is now attempted to be repealed, or at least eluded; some are for giving bishops leave to let fee-farms, others would allow them

to let leases for lives; and the most moderate would repeal that clause by which the bishops are bound to let their lands at half value.

The reasons for the rise of value in lands are of two kinds. Of the first kind are long peace and settlement after the devastations of war; plantations, improvements of bad soil, recovery of bogs and marshes, advancement of trade and manufactures, increase of inhabitants, encouragement of agriculture, and the like.

But there is another reason for the rise of land, more gradual, constant, and certain; which will have its effects in countries that are very far from flourishing in any of the advantages I have just mentioned: I mean the perpetual decrease in the value of gold and silver. I shall discourse upon these two different kinds with a view toward the bill now attempted.

As to the first: I cannot see how this kingdom is at any height of improvement, while four parts in five of the plantations for thirty years past have been real disimprovements; nine in ten of the quick-set hedges being ruined for want of care or skill. And as to forest trees, they being often taken out of woods and planted in single rows on the tops of ditches, it is impossible they should grow to be of use, beauty, or shelter. Neither can it be said that the soil of Ireland is improved to its full height while so much lies all winter under water, and the bogs made almost desperate by the ill cutting of the turf. There has indeed been some little improvement in the manufactures of linen and woollen, although very short of perfection; but our trade was never in so low a condition: and as to agriculture, of which all wise nations have been so tender, the desolation made in the country by engrossing graziers, and the great yearly importation of corn from England, are lamentable instances under what discouragement it lies.

But notwithstanding all these mortifications, I suppose there is no well-wisher to his country without a little hope that in time the kingdom may be on a better foot in some of the articles above mentioned. But it would be hard if ecclesiastical bodies should be the only persons excluded from any share in public advantages, which yet can never happen without a greater share of profit to their tenants: if God sends rain equally upon the just and the unjust, why should those who wait at his altars, and are instructors of the people, be cut off from partaking in the general benefits of law or of nature?

But as this way of reasoning may seem to bear a more favourable eye to the clergy than perhaps will suit with the present disposition or fashion of the age, I shall therefore dwell more largely upon the second reason for the rise of land, which is the perpetual decrease of the value of gold and silver.

This may be observed from the course of the Roman history above 2000 years before those inexhaustible silver mines of Potosi were known. The value of an obolus, and of every other coin, between the time of Romulus and that of Augustus, gradually sunk above five parts in six, as appears by several passages out of the best authors. And yet the prodigious wealth of that state did not arise from the increase of bullion in the world by the discovery of new mines, but from a much more accidental cause, which was the spreading of their conquest, and thereby importing into Rome and Italy the riches of the east and west.

When the seat of empire was removed to Constantinople, the tide of money flowed that way without ever returning, and was scattered in Asia. But when that mighty empire was overthrown by the northern people, such a stop was put to all trade and commerce that vast sums of money were buried to escape the plundering of the conquerors, and what remained was carried off by those ravagers.

It were no difficult matter to compute the value of money in England during the Saxon reigns; but the monkish and other writers since the Conquest have put the matter in a clearer light by the several accounts they have given us of the value of corn and cattle in years of dearth and plenty. Every one knows that king John's whole portion before he came to the crown was but 50007., without a foot of land.

I have likewise seen the steward's account of an ancient noble family in England, written in Latin between 300 and 400 years ago, with the several prices of wine and victuals, to confirm my observations.

I have been at the trouble of computing (as others have done) the different values of money for about 400 years past. Henry duke of Lancaster, who lived about that period, founded an hospital at Leicester for a certain number of old men, charging his lands with a groat a-week to each for their maintenance, which is to this day duly paid them. In those times a penny was equal to ten-pence halfpenny and somewhat more than half a farthing in ours; which makes about eightninths difference.

This is plain also from the old custom upon many estates in England to let for leases of lives (renewable at pleasure), where the reserved rent is usually about 12d. in 1., which then was near the half real value: and although the fines be not fixed, yet the landlord gets altogether not above 3s. in 1., of the worth of his land: and the tenants are so wedded to this custom, that if the owner suffer three lives to expire, none of them will take a lease on other conditions; or, if he brings in a foreigner who will agree to pay a reasonable rent, the other tenants, by all manner of injuries, will make that foreigner so uneasy that he must be forced to quit the farm; as the late earl of Bath felt by the experience of above 10,000l. loss.

The gradual decrease for about two hundred years after was not considerable, and therefore I do not rely on the account given by some historians, that Harry VII. left behind him 1,800,000l.; for although the West Indies were discovered before his death, and although he had the best talents and instruments for exacting money ever possessed by any prince since the time of Vespasian, (whom he resembled in many particulars,) yet I conceive that in his days the whole coin of England could hardly amount to such a sum. For, in the reign of Philip and Mary, Sir Thomas Cokayne, of Derbyshire, the best housekeeper of his quality in the county, allowed his lady 50l. a-year for maintaining the family, 17. a-year wages to each servant, and 27. to the steward; as I was told by a person of quality who had seen the original account of his economy. Now this sum of 504.,{added to the advantages of a large domain, might be equal to about 5007. a-year at present, or somewhat more than four-fifths.

The great plenty of silver in England began in Queen Elizabeth's reign, when Drake and others took vast quantities of coin and bullion from the Spaniards, either upon their own American coasts or in their return to Spain. However, so much has been imported annually from that time to this, that the value of money in England and most parts of Europe is sunk above one half within the space of a hundred years, notwithstanding the great export of silver for about eighty years past to the East Indies, from whence it never returns. But gold, not being liable to the same accident, and by new discoveries growing every day more plentiful, seems in danger of becoming a drug.

This has been the progress of the value of money in former ages, and must of necessity continue so for the future, without some new invasion of Goths and Vandals, to destroy law, property, and religion, alter the very face of nature, and turn the world upside down.

I must repeat that what I am to say upon the

« AnteriorContinuar »