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Privy Council ? If any foreigner should ask us whose image or superscription there is on Wood's coin, we should be ashamed to tell him it was Cæsar's. In that great want of copper halfpence which he alleges we were, our city set up Cæsar's statue in excellent copper, at an expense that is equal in value to thirty thousand pounds of his coin, and we will not receive his image in worse metal. ......
Although my letter be directed to you, Mr. Harding [the printer), yet I intend it for all my countrymen. I have no interest in this affair but what is common to the public. I can live better than many others; I have some gold and silver by me, and a shop well furnished ; and shall be able to make a shift when many of my betters are starving. But I am grieved to see the coldness and indifference of many people with whom I discourse. Some are afraid of a proclamation ; others shrug up their shoulders and cry, “What would you have us to do?” Some give out there is no danger at all; others are comforted that it will be a common calamity, and they shall fare no worse than their neighbours. Will a man who hears midnight robbers at his door get out of bed and raise his family for a commou defence; and shall a whole kingdom lie in a lethargy, while Mr. Wood comes, at the head of his confederates, to rob them of all they have, to ruin us and our posterity for ever? If a highwayman meets you on the road, you give him your money to save your life; but, God be thanked, Mr. Wood cannot touch a hair of your heads. You have all the laws of God and man on your side; when he or his accomplices offer you his dross, it is but saying no, and you are safe. If a madman should come into my shop with a handful of dirt raked out of the kennel, and offer it in payment for ten yards of stuff, I would pity or laugh at him; or, if his behaviour deserved it, kick him out of my doors. And, if Mr. Wood comes to demand my gold and silver, or commodities for which I have paid my gold and silver, in exchange for his trash, can he deserve or expect better treatment?
The following is the winding-up of Letter Third :
I am very sensible that such a work as I have undertaken might have worthily employed a much better pen : but, when a house is attempted to be robbed, it often happens the weakest in the family runs first to stop the door. All the assistance I had were some informations from an eminent person ; whereof I am afraid I have spoiled a few, by endeavouring to make them of a piece with my own productions, and the rest I was not able to manage : I was in the case of David, who could not move in the armour of Saul, and therefore I rather chose to attack this uncircumcised Philistine (Wood, I mean) with a sling and a stone. And I may say, for Wood's honour as well as my own, that he resembles Goliath in many circumstances very applicable to the present purpose ; for Goliath had “a helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass ; and he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.” In short, he was, like Mr. Wood, all over brass, and he defied the armies of the living God. Goliath's conditions of combat were likewise the same with those of Wood: "if he prevail against us, then shall we be his servants." But, if it happens that I prevail over him, I renounce the other part of the condition : he shall never be a servant of mine ; for I do not think him fit to be trusted in any honest man's shop.
We can only give in addition a few short paragraphs from Letter Fourth :
It is true, indeed, that within the memory of man the parliaments of England have sometimes assumed the power of binding this kingdom by laws enacted there : wherein they were at first openly opposed (as far as truth, reason, and justice are capable of opposing) by the famous Mr. Molyneux, an English gentleman born here, as well as by several of the greatest patriots and best Whigs in England; but the love and torrent of power prevailed. Indeed, the arguments on both sides were invincible. For, in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery; but, in fact, eleven men well armed will certainly subdue one single man in his shirt. But I have done; for those who have used power to cramp liberty have gone so far as to resent even the liberty of complaining; although a man upon the rack was never kuown to be refused the liberty of roaring as loud as he thought
And, as we are apt to sink too much under unreasonable fears, so we are too soon inclined to be raised by groundless hopes, according to the nature of all consumptive bodies like ours. Thus, it has been given about for several days past that somebody in England empowered a second somebody to write to a third somebody here to assure us that we should no more be troubled with these halfpence. And this is reported to have been done by the same person who is said to have sworn some months ago “ that he would ram them down our throats,” though I doubt they would stick in our stomachs; but, whichever of these reports be true or false, it is no concern of ours. For in this point we have nothing to do with English ministers, and I should be sorry to leave it in their power to redress this grievance or to enforce it, for the report of the Committee has given me a surfeit. The remedy is wholly in your own hands, and therefore I have digressed a little in order to refresh and continue that spirit so seasonably raised among you, and to let you see, that, by the laws of God, of NATURE, of Nations, and of your COUNTRY, you ARE and ought to be as FREE a people as your brethren in England. ........
Before I conclude, I must beg leave in all humility to tell Mr. Wood, that he is guilty of great indiscretion, by causing so honourable a name as that of Mr. Walpole to be mentioned so often and in such a manner upon this occasion. A short paper printed at Bristol, and reprinted here, reports
1 Walpole. ? A committee of the English Privy Council to whom the matter had been
Mr. Wood to say " that he wonders at the impudence and insolence of the Irish in refusing his coin, and what he will do when Mr. Walpole comes to town." Where, by the way, he is mistaken ; for it is the true English people of Ireland who refuse it, although we take it for granted that the Irish will do so too whenever they are asked. In another printed paper of his contriving it is roundly expressed, “that Mr. Walpole will cram his brass down our throats.” Sometimes it is given out “that we nust either take those halfpence or eat our brogues ;” and in another newsletter, but of yesterday, we read, “that the same great man has sworn to make us swallow his coin in fire-balls.”
This brings to my mind the known story of a Scotchman, who, receiving the sentence of death with all the circumstances of hanging, beheading, quartering, embowelling, and the like, cried out, “What need all this COOKERY ?" And I think we have reason to ask the same question ; for, if we believe Wood, here is a dinner getting ready for us, and you see the bill of fare; and I am sorry the drink was forgot, which might easily be supplied with melted lead and flaming pitch.
What vile words are these to put into the mouth of a great counsellor, in high trust with his Majesty and looked upon as a prime minister ? If Mr. Wood has no better a manner of representing his patrons, when I come to be a great man he shall never be suffered to attend at my levee, This is not the style of a great minister : it savours too much of the kettle and the furnace, and came entirely out of Wood's forge.
As for the threat of making us eat our brogues, we need not be in pain ; for, if his coin should pass, that unpolite covering for the feet would no longer be a national reproach ; because then we should have neither shoe nor brogue left in the kingdom. But here the falsehood of Mr. Wood is fairly detected : for I am confident Mr. Walpole never heard of a brogue in his whole life.
As to “swallowing these halfpence in fireballs,” it is a story equally improbable. For, to execute this operation, the whole stock of Mr. Wood's coin and metal must be melted down, and moulded into hollow balls, with wildfire, no bigger than a reasonable throat may be able to swallow. Now, the metal he has prepared, and already coined, will amount to at least fifty millions of halfpence, to be swallowed by a million and a half of people ; so that allowing two balfpence to each ball, there will be about seventeen balls of wildfire apiece to be swallowed by every person in the kingdom ; and, to administer this dose, there cannot be conveniently fewer than fifty thousand operators, allowing one operator to every thirty ; which, considering the squeamishness of some stomachs, and the peevishness of young children, is but reasonable. Now, under correction of better judgments, I think the trouble and charge of such an experiment would exceed the profit; and therefore I take this report to be spurious, or at least only a new scheme of Mr. Wood himself; which, to make it pass the better in Ireland, he would rather upon a minister of state.
But I will now demonstrate beyond all contradiction that Mr. Walpole is against this project of Mr. Wood, and is an entire friend to Ireland, only by
this one invincible argument: that he has the universal opinion of being a wise man, an able minister, and in all his proceedings pursuing the true interest of the king his master: and that, as his integrity is above all corruption, so is his fortune above all temptation. I reckon, therefore, we are perfectly safe from that corner, and shall never be under the necessity of contending with so formidable a power, but be left to possess our brogues and potatoes in peace, -as remote from thunder as we are from Jupiter."
Swift would probably have enjoyed a higher reputation as a poet if he had not been so great a writer in prose. His productions in verse are considerable in point of quantity, and many of them admirable of their kind. But those of them that deserve to be so described belong to the humblest kind of poetry-to that kind which has scarcely any distinctively poetical quality or characteristic about it except the rhyme. He has made some attempts in a higher style, but with little success. His Pindario Odes, written and published when he was a young man, drew from Dryden (who was his relation) the emphatic judgment, “Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet :” and, though Swift, never forgave this frankness, he seems to have felt that the prognostication was a sound one, for he wrote no more Pindario Odes. Nor indeed did he ever afterwards attempt anything considerable in the way of serious poetry, if we except his Cadenus and Vanessa (the story of Miss Vanhomrigh), his effusion entitled Poetry, a Rhapsody, and that on his own death -and even these are chiefly distinguished from his other productions by being longer and more elaborate, the most elevated portions of the first mentioned scarcely rising above narrative and reflection, and whatever there is of more dignified or solemn writing in the two others being largely intermixed with comedy and satire in his usual easy ambling style. With all his liveliness of fancy, he had no grandeur of imagination, as little feeling of the purely graceful or beautiful, no capacity of tender emotion, no sensibility to even the simplest forms of music. With these deficiencies it was impossible that he should produce anything that could be called poetical in a high sense. But of course he could put his wit and fancy into the form of verse—and so as to make the measured expression and the rhyme give additional point and piquancy to his strokes of satire and ludicrous narratives or descriptions. Some of his lighter verses are as good as
1 In allusion to the Latin proverb, Procul a Jove, procul a fulmine.
anything of the kind in the language. As a specimen we will give one which is less known than some others that might be quoted, one of the many rattling volleys of rhyme by which he aided the heavier artillery of his Drapier's Letters, a eulogy on Archbishop King, who gained great applause by taking the popular side on that occasion, under the title of An excellent New Song, upon his Grace our Good Lord Archbishop of Dublin ; By Honest Jo, one of his Grace's Farmers in Fingal :
I sing not of the Drapier's praise, nor yet of William Wood,
· He was at this time seventy-four.