I would now expostulate a little with our country landlords, who by unmeasurable screwing and racking their tenants all over the kingdom, have already reduced the miserable people to a worse condition than the peasants in France, or the vassals in Germany and Poland; so that the whole species of what we call substantial farmers, will in a very few years be utterly at an end. It was pleasant to observe these gentlemen labouring with all their might for preventing the bishops from letting their revenues at a moderate half value, (whereby the whole order would in an age have been reduced to manifest beggary) at the very instant when they were everywhere canting their own lands upon short leases, and sacrificing their oldest tenants for a penny an acre advance. I know not how it comes to pass, (and yet perhaps I know well enough) that slaves have a natural disposition to be tyrants; and that when my betters give me a kick, I am apt to revenge it with six upon my footman; although perhaps he may be an honest and diligent fellow. I have heard great divines affirm, that “nothing is so likely to call down an universal judgment from Heaven upon a nation as universal oppression;” and whether this be not already verified in part, their worships the landlords are now at full leisure to consider. Whoever travels this country, and observes the face of nature, or the faces, and habits, and dwellings of the natives, will hardly think himself in a land where either law, religion, or common humanity is professed.
I cannot forbear saying one word upon a thing they call a bank, which I hear is projecting in this town. I never saw the proposals, nor understand any one particular of their scheme: What I wish for at present, is only a sufficient provision of hemp, and caps, and bells, to distribute according to the several degrees of honesty and prudence in some persons. I hear only of a monstrous sum already named; and if others, do not soon hear of it too, and hear of it with a vengeance, then am I a gentleman of less sagacity, than myself and very few besides, take me to be. And the jest will be still the better, if it be true, as judicious persons have assured me, that one half of this money will be real, and the other half only Gasconnade. The matter will be likewise much mended, if the merchants continue to carry off our gold, and our goldsmiths to melt down our heavy silver.
BY THOMAS HOPE, ESQ.
The excitement and even fury which were prevalent in England and France during the years 1719 and 1720 over Law’s South Sea schemes afforded Swift an opportunity for the play of his satire by way of criticism on projects which appeared to him to be of the same character. News from France on the Mississippi Scheme which, in 1719, was at the height of its stock-jobbing success,