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Fifthly, The greatest part of public ftock being always in the hands of idle people, who live on their revenue, our funds give great encouragement to an ufelefs and inactive life'

After this, he obferves, that though the injury, arifing to commerce and industry from our public funds, is very confiderable; yet it is but trivial, in comparison of the prejudice, that refults to the ftate, confidered as a body politic, which must support itself in the fociety of nations and have various tranfactions with other ftates, in wars and negotiations. I must confefs, fays he, that there is a ftrange fupinenefs, from long cuftom, crept into all ranks of men, with regard to public debts; not unlike what divines fo vehemently complain of with regard to their religious doctrines. We all own, that the most fanguine imagination cannot hope, either that this, or any future miniftry will be poffeft of fuch rigid and steady frugality, as to make any confiderable progrefs in the payment of our debts, or that the fituation of foreign affairs will, for any long time, afford them leifure and tranquillity, fufficient for fuch an undertaking. What then is to become of us? Were we ever fo good chriftians, and ever fo refigned to providence; this, methinks, were a curious queftion, even confidered as a fpeculative one, and what it might not be altogether impoffible to form fome conjectural folution of. The events here will depend little upon the contingencies of battles, negotiations, intrigues, and factions. There feems to be a natural progrefs of things, which may guide our reafoning. As it would have required but a moderate fhare of prudence, when we first began this practice of mortgaging, to have foretold, from the nature of men and of minifters, that things would neceffarily be carried to the length we fee; fo now that they have at last happily reached it, it may not be difficult to guefs at the confequence. It muft, indeed, be one of thefe two events; either the nation must destroy public credit, or public credit will deftroy the nation. 'Tis impoffible they can both fubfift, after the manner they have been hitherto managed, in this, as well as in fome other nations.

There was, indeed, a fcheme for the payment of our debts, which was proposed by an excellent citizen, Mr. Hutchinson, above thirty years ago, and which was much approved of by fome men of fenfe, but never was likely to take effect. He afferted, that there was a fallacy in


imagining, that the public owed this debt; for that really every individual owed a proportionable fhare of it, and paid in his taxes a proportional fhare of the intereft, befide the expence of levying these taxes. Had we not better, then, fays he, make a proportional diftribution of the debt amongst us, and each of us contribute a fum fuitable to his property, and by that means discharge at once all our funds and public mortgages? He feems not to have confidered, that the laborious poor pay a confiderable part of the taxes by their annual confumptions, though they could not advance, at once, a proportional part of the fum required. Not to mention, that property in money and flock in trade, might eafily be concealed or dif guifed; and that vifible property in lands and houses would really at laft anfwer for the whole: an inequality and oppreffion, which never would be fubmitted to. But though this project is never likely to take place; it is not altoge ther improbable, that when the people become heartily fick of their debts, and are cruelly oppreft by them, fome daring projector may arife, with vifionary fchemes for their discharge. And as public credit will begin, by that time, to be a little frail, the least touch will destroy it, as happened in France; and in this manner it will dye of the Doctor.

But 'tis more probable, that the breach of national faith will be the neceffary effect of wars, defeats, misfortunes, and public calamities, or even perhaps of victories and conquefts. I must confefs, when I fee princes and ftates fighting and quarrelling, amidft their debts, funds, and public mortgages, it always brings to my mind a match of cudgel-playing fought in a china-fhop. How can it be expect ed, that fovereigns will fpare a fpecies of property, which is pernicious to themselves and to the public, when they have fo little compaffion on lives and properties which are ufeful to both? Let the time come (and furely it will come) when the new funds created for the exigencies of the year, are not subscribed to, and raise not the money projected. Suppose, either that the cafh of the nation is exhaufted, or that our faith, which has been hitherto fo ample, begins to fail us. Suppofe, that, in this diftrefs, the nation is threatned with an invafion, a rebellion is fufpected or broke out at home, a fquadron cannot be equipt for want of pay, victuals, or repairs; or even a foreign fubfidy cannot be advanced. What muft a prince or minifter do in fuch an emergency? The right of selfprefervation is unalienable in every individual, much more

in every community. And the folly of our statesmen must then be greater than the folly of those who firft contracted the debt, or what is more, than that of those who trusted, or continue to trust this fecurity, if these statesmen have the means of fafety in their hands, and do not employ it. The funds, created and mortgaged, will, by that time, bring in a large yearly revenue, fufficient for the defence and fecurity of the nation: money is perhaps lying in the exchequer, ready for the difcharge of the quarterly intereft; neceffity calls, fear urges, reafon exhorts, compaffion alone exclaims: the money will immediately be feized for the current fervice, under the most folemn proteftations, perhaps, of being immediately replaced. But no more is requifite. The whole fabric, already tottering, falls to the ground, and buries thousands in its ruins. And this, I think, may be called the natural death of public credit: for to this period it tends as naturally as an animal body to its diffolution and deftruction.

• These two events, fuppofed above, are calamitous, but not the most calamitous. Thoufands are thereby facrificed to the fafety of millions. But we are not without danger, that the contrary event may take place, and that millions may be facrificed, for ever, to the temporary fafety of thoufands. Our popular government, perhaps, will render it difficult or dangerous for a minifter to venture on fo defperate an expedient, as that of a voluntary bankruptcy. And tho' the house of lords be altogether compofed of the proprietors of lands, and the houfe of commons chiefly; and confequently neither of them can be fuppofed to have great property in the funds: yet the connections of the members may be fo great with the proprietors, as to render them more tenacious of public faith, than prudence, policy, or even justice, ftrictly speaking, requires. And perhaps too, our foreign enemies, or rather enemy (for we have but one to dread) may be fo politic as to discover, that our fafety lies in despair, and may not, therefore, fhew the danger, open and barefaced, till it be inevitable. The balance of power in Europe, our grandfathers, our fathers, and we, have all justly esteemed too unequal to be preserved without our attention and affiftance. But our children, weary with the ftruggle, and fetter'd with incumbrances, may fit down fecure, and fee their neighbours oppreft and conquer'd; till at last they themselves and their creditors lie both at the mercy of the conqueror. And this may properly enough be denominated the violent death of our public credit. • These


These seem to be the events which are not very remote, and which reason foresees as clearly almost as she can do any thing that lies in the womb of time. And tho' the antients maintained, that, in order to reach the gift of prophecy, a certain divine fury or madness was requifite; one may safely affirm, that, in order to deliver fuch prophecies as thefe, no more is neceffary, than merely to be in one's fenfes, free from the influence of popular madness and delufion.'

In our author's ninth difcourfe, he takes notice of three remarkable cuftoms in three celebrated governments, and concludes from them, that all general maxims in politics ought to be established with great referve, and that irregular and extraordinary appearances are frequently difcovered, in the moral, as well as in the phyfical world.

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1. One would think it effential, fays he, to every fupreme council or affembly, which debates, that entire liberty of fpeech fhould be granted to every member, and that all motions or reasonings fhould be received, which can any way tend to illuftrate the point under deliberation. One would conclude, with ftill greater affurance, that, after a motion was made, which was voted and approved by that affembly, in which the legislature is lodged, the member who made the motion, muft, for ever, be exempted from farther trial and enquiry. But no political maxim can, at first fight, appear more indifputable, than that he must, at leaft, be fecur'd from all inferior jurifdiction: and that nothing lefs, than the fame fupreme legislative affembly, in their subsequent meetings, could render him accountable for those motions and harangues, which they had before approved of. But these axioms, however irrefragable they may appear, have all failed in the Athenian government, from caufes and principles too, which appear almost inevitable.

"By the pan wapavour or indictment of illegality, (tho' it has not been remarked by antiquaries or commentators)" any man was try'd and punished, in a common court of judicature, for any law, which had paffed upon his motion, in the affembly of the people, if that law appeared to the court unjuft or prejudicial to the people. Thus Demofthenes, finding that ship-money was levied irregularly, and that the poor bore the fame burden as the rich, in equipping the gallies, corrected this inequality by a very uíeful law, which proportioned the expence to the revenue and income of each individual. He moved for this law in the 'affembly;

he proved its advantages; he convinced the people, the only legislature in Athens; the law paffed; and was carried into execution and yet he was tried in a criminal court for that law, upon the complaint of the rich, who resented the alteration he had introduced into the finances, He was, indeed, acquitted, upon proving anew the ufefulnefs of his law.

2. A wheel within a wheel, fuch as we obferve in the German empire, is confidered by lord Shaftsbury, as an abṛ furdity in politics: but what muft we fay to two equal wheels, which govern the fame political machine, without any mutual check or controul, or fubordination; and yet preferve the greatest harmony and concord? To establish two diftinct legislatures; each of which poffeffes full and abfolute authority within itself, and stands in no need of the other's affiftance, in order to give validity to its acts; this may appear, before hand, altogether impracticable, as long as men are actuated by the paffions of ambition, emulation, and avarice, which have been hitherto their chief governing principles. And fhould I affert, that the ftate I have in my eye was divided by two diftinct factions, each of which predominated in a diftinct legiflature, and yet produced no clashing of these independent powers; the fuppofition may appear almoft incredible. And if, to augment the paradox, I fhould affirm, that this disjointed, irregular government was the most active, triumphant, and illuftrious commonwealth, that ever yet appeared on the ftage of the world; I fhould certainly be told that fuch a political chimera was as abfurd as any vifion of the poets. But there is no need for fearching long, in order to prove the reality of the foregoing fuppofitions: for this was actually the cafe with the Roman republic.

The legislative power was there lodged both in the Comitia centuriata and Comitia tributa. In the former, it is well known, the people voted according to their cenfus; so that when the firft clafs was unanimous, (as commonly happened) tho' it contained not, perhaps the hundredth part of the commonwealth, it determined the whole; and with the authority of the fenate, eftablished a law. In the latter, every vote was alike; and as the authority of the fenate was not there requifite, the lower people entirely prevailed, and gave law to the whole ftate. In all party divifions, at firft betwixt the Patricians and Plebeians, afterwards betwixt the nobles and the people, the intereft of the aristocracy was predominant in the first legiflature; that of


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