I beg you, Jack, not to rely on the power of the Boroughmongers in this case. Anything that is to be done with halters, gags, dungeons, bayonets, powder, or ball, they can do a great deal at; but they are not conjurers; they are not wizards. They cannot prevent a man from dropping bank-notes in the dark; and they cannot make people believe in the goodness of that which they must know to be bad. If they could hold a sword to every man’s breast, they might indeed do something; but short of this, nothing that they can do would be of any avail. However, the truth is that they, in such case, will have no sword at all. An army is a powerful weapon; but an army must be paid. Soldiers have been called machines; but they are eating and drinking machines. With good food and drink they will go far and do much; but without them, they will not stir an inch. And in such a case whence is to come the money to pay them? In short, Jack, the Boroughmongers would drop down dead, like men in an apoplexy, and you would, as soon as things got to rights, have your bread and beer and meat and everything in abundance.
The Boroughmongers possess no means of preventing the complete success of the dropping plan. If they do, they ought to thank me for giving them a warning of their danger; and for telling them that if they do prevent the success of such a plan, they are the cleverest fellows in this world.
I now, Jack, take my leave of you, hoping that you will not be coaxed out of your money, and assuring you that I am your friend,
BY SIR WALTER SCOTT
(To what has been said in the Introduction respecting the Letters of Malachi Malagrowther_ it is only necessary to add that their immediate cause was a Bill due to the very commercial crisis which indirectly ruined Scott himself, and introduced in the spring of 1826 for stopping the note circulation of private banks altogether, while limiting that of the Bank of England to notes of L5 and upwards. The scheme, which was to extend to the whole of Great Britain, was from the first unpopular in Scotland, and Scott plunged into the fray. The letters excited or coincided with such violent opposition throughout the country that the Bill was limited to England only. As Scott was a strong Tory, his friends in the Government, especially Lord Melville and Croker (who was officially employed to answer ’Malachi’), were rather sore at his action. He defended himself in some spirited private letters, which will be found in Lockhart._)
To the Editor of the Edinburgh Weekly Journal