Category Archives: Political Commentary

Item of the Day: The Works of Sallust (1744)

Full Title: The Works of Sallust, Translated into English. With Political Discourse upon that Author. To which is added, a Translation of Cicero’s Four Orations Against Catiline. London: Printed for T. Woodward, and J. Peele; and sold by J. Osborn, at the Golden Ball in Pater-noster Row, MDCCXLIV. [1744]

 

DISCOURSE I.

Of Faction and Parties.

________________________

SECT. I.

How easily the People are led into Faction, and kept in it, by their own Heat and Prejudices, and the Arts of their Leaders; how hard they are to be cured; and with what Partiality and Injustice each Side treats the other.

SALLUST observes, “That whoever raised Civil Dissentions in the Commonwealth, used plausible Pretences; some seeming to vindicate the Rights of the People; others to exalt the Authority of the Senate; Both Sorts to pursue the public Good; yet all only striving severally to procure Weight and Power to themselves. Neither, in these their Civil Contests, did any of them observe Moderation or Bounds: Whatever Party conquered, still used their Victory with Violence and Inhumanity.” This, I doubt, is true of all Parties in their Pursuits and Success: I have, therefore, thought it pertinent to discourse here at large upon Faction and Parties.

The People are so apt to be drawn into Faction, and blindly to pursue the Steps of their Leaders, generally to their own special Prejudice, Loss, and Disquiet, if not to their utter Ruin, that he who would sincerely serve them, cannot do it more effectually, than by warning them against such ready and implicit Attachment to Names and Notions, however popular and plausible. From this evil Root have sprung many of the sore Calamities that, almost every-where, afflict Mankind. Without it the world had been happily ignorant of Tyranny and Slavery, the Two mighty Plagues that now haunt and devour the most and best Parts of it; together the subordinate and introductory Miseries, of national Discord, Devastation, and Civil War.

People, as well as Princes,  have been often undone by their Favourites. A great Man amongst them, perhaps, happened to be cried up for his fine Actions, or fine Qualities, both often overrated; and became presently their Idol, and they trusted him without Reserve: For their Love, like their Hate, is generally immoderate; not from a Man who has done them, or can do them, much Good, have they any Apprehension of Evil; till some Rival for their Affection appear superior to their first Favourite in Art of Fortune; one who persuades them, that the other has abused them, and seeks their Ruin. Then, it is like, they make a sudden Turn, set up the latter against the former; and, having conceived an immoderate Opinion of HIm, too, put immoderate Confidence in him; not that they are sure that the other had wronged them, or abused his Trust, but take it for granted, and punish him upon Presumption; trusting to the Arts and Accusations of their new Leader, who probably had deceived and inflamed them. . . .

They may possibly commit themselves to the Guidance of a Man, who certainly means them well, and seeks no base Advantage to himself: But such Instances are so rare, that the Experiment is never to be tried. Men, especially Men of Ambition, who are the forwardest to grasp at such an Office, do, chiefly, and in the first Place, consider Themselves; and, whilst guided by Partiality for themselves, cannot judge indifferently. Such a Man, measuring Reason and Justice by his Interest, may think, that it is right, that the People should always be deceived, should always be kept low, and under a severe Yoke, to hinder them from judging for Themselves, and throwing off Him, and to prevent their growing wanton and ungovernable. In short, the Fact is, (almost eternally) That their Leader only finds his Account in leading them, and They never, in being led. They make him considerable; that is, throw him into the Way of Power and Profit: This is his Point and End; and, in Consideration of all this, what does do he he for them? At best, he generally leaves them where he found them. Yet this is tolerable, nay, kind, in comparison of what oftener happens: Probably he has raised Feuds and Animosties amongst them, not to end in an Hundred Years; Fuel for intestine Wars; a Spirit of Licentiousness and Rebellion, or of Folly and Slavery.

In the midst of the Heats, and Zeal, and Divisions, into which they are drawn, for This Man against That, are they ever thoroughly apprised of the Merits and Source of the Dispute? Are they Masters of the real Fact, sufficent for accusing one, or for applauding another? Scarce ever. What Information they have, they have generally no Information at all; but only a few Cant Words, such as will always serve to animate a Mob; “I am for John: He is our Friend, and very honest. I am against Thomas: He is our worst Enemy, and very wicked, and deserves to be punished.” And so say They who have taken a Fancy to Thomas, and are prejudiced against John. When it is likely, that neither John or Thomas have done them much Harm, or much Good; or, perhaps, both John and Thomas study to delude and enthral them. But, when Passion prevails, Reason is not heard . . .

 

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Filed under 1740's, Eighteenth century, Government, Greek/Roman Translations, History, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The New Book of Chronicles [1789]

Full Title: The New Book of Chronicles; Delineating in Eccentrical Sketches of the Times a Variety of Modern Characters of the Great and Small Vulgar. London: Printed for T. Massey, Snow-Hill, and sold by all the booksellers of Great Britain, [1789].

 

CHAPTER III.

ARGUMENT.

In those days the fire burned in Gallia, as the multitude mused on their mighty Monarch.

2.  Behold, the fury of the flame spread far and wide even until it reached the region of captivity,

3.  Called in the Hebrew tongue the Tophet of Tyranny but by the Gauls the Bastile.

4.  Lo, in that horrible pit were found the Records of Royal Rebellion, written with the blood of the brave asserters of Liberty.

5.  On that day the Grand Monarch much marveled, and humbled himself before the Lord, and all the people of the Provinces.

6.  Then fled the Queen and hid herself in a solitary Sanctuary,

7.  Which proved not an asylym, for the assembly of the nation for her head offered three hundred thousand livres.

8.  In the mean time the enraged multitude seized the Governour of the Bastile, and put him to Death, who dealt with him as he deserved.

9.  The Commandant also was pushed by the people within the reach of the tyrant, whose slave he had been.

10. And behold, when the frightful king had done to these twain even as they had done to the prisoners of the dungeon, they descended to the shades of Erebus,

11. Not meeting in all the way the place which the priests of Rome call Purgatory, even the place of fools.

12. Now it came to pass, as these slaves of authority arrived at the gate of Pandoemonium,

13. That behold Brownrig the wife of Lucifer looked out at a window over the portal of the unhallowed hall.

14. And she cried with a loud voice, saying, behold, my brethren of the Bastile knock at the door, open it unto them.

15. As the high harlot of hell spake, lo the gates opened wide to the harsh sound of ten thousand hogs making melody in the Museum of Mawby.

16. And when forty and five infernals had whipped the slaves into the hall of justice, they stood before Eacus, Minos, and Rhadamanthus.

17. Howbeit, Belial blushed, Moloch grew mad, Satan saddened his countenance, and all the peers proclaimed a fast, when they were told that their kingdom was falling.

18. On that day the King caused all the regions of his dominions to be hung with sable, and commanded also the court to appear in the hue of hell, saying:

19. Peradventure the mercers and drapers of London may open a trade hither, through the medium of the taylors.

20. And when he had caused his servants to set before the keepers of the Bastile the bread which Belial had baken and the beer of his brewing,

21. At the motion of his sceptre seven of the infernal phalanx thrust them into the fiery furnace;

22. And it came to pass, when the door was shut that the whole herd of hardned fiends fell into a fit of festivity, rejoicing to hear the roar of the _____s.

 

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Filed under 1780's, Foreign Relations, France, French Revolution, Great Britain, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The Royal Interview (1789)

Full Title: The Royal Interview: A Fragment by the Author of a Letter from a Country Gentleman to a Member of Parliament. Third Edition. London: Printed at the Logographic Press, and sold by J. Walters, No. 169, Opposite Old Bond Street, Piccadilly; C. Stalker, Stationers-Court, Ludgate-Street; and W. Richardson, under the Royal-Exchange, MDCCLXXXIX. [1789]

 

ROYAL INTERVIEW, &c.

K.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * To say the truth, it has been my wish and intention not to enter into any conversation with your Royal Highness concerning the public conduct of my ministers, or those who have acted in opposition to them during the affecting interval of my government. It was rather an anxious desire of my own heart to pass over the chasm which the lapse of my understanding occasioned in the public administration of my kingdom. It appeared to me, that there was not intermediate event which could afford a pleasing topic of discussion between you and myself: and as it would ill become me to accompany the blessing of my recovery with resentment to my son, whatever his conduct might have been, I became extremely solicitous to avoid a retrospect. –It is enough for me, that, on awaking from my delerium, I find my kingdom uninjured by my infirmity, and exulting in my restoration. –But as you seem to apprehend ill impressions, of some kind or other, and declare, that the comfort of your life depends on my hearing from yourself the reasons which governed your conduct during my affliction, I shall comply with your requisiton, and listen to you with a paternal patience. It becomes me, however, previously to inform you, that I am well acquainted with every transaction of the late important period, and that my opinion is already formed of the measures that have been adopted, of the opposition that was made to them, and of the persons who have appeared as principal actors on the occasion. It may be also necessary, for a right understanding between us, in the business on which we are about to engage, to observe, that while you possess a full right to plead, I may take the liberty, if I see occasion, to condemn. —-My kindest attention awaits you.

 

P.

I have very reason to apprehend that some particular leading indivduals, among your Majesty’s servants, have represented my demeanour during the late unhappy period, as undutuful to yourself, unfeeling to your situation, and hostile to the interests of your kingdom.

 

K.

What convincing reason you may possess whereon to buld such an hypothesis, I am not anxious to enquire, because they are without foundation. Both the Lord Chancellor and the first minister have, in their communications to me, delivered themselves with the most respectful attention to you; and if I could suppose it possible for such wise men and faithful servants to step beyond the bounds of decorum in their consultations with me, I should conclude they had done it in the more than earnest manner with which they recommended me to check any, and every suspicion of my breast with respect to the motives that governed the late conduct of your Royal Highness. Indeed, I cannot but express my concern, that, on the very threshold of the business, you should begin with answering an accusation that has never been made, and charging those men with practising against you all the injustice of misrepresentation, who have, on the contrary, acted with a spirit of magnanimity, which would do honour to yourself. But, not to turn you aside from the mode of apology, which, perhaps, you are prepared to adopt; –you are at liberty to suppose that I am perfectly well acquainted with your plans of operation during the time when it was doubtful, whether it would please God to restore me to myself and to my people.

 

P.

I should be truly sorry, Sir, to suspect where suspicion would be unjust; and your royal word is more than sufficient to remove mine, in the matter before us, from certain of your Majesty’s Ministers; but as I know them to be indisposed towards me, I had something like a right to imagine, that, in representing their own services to your Majesty, they would not fail to misrepresent those who oppose them.

 

K.

I cannot answer for the secret designs or thought of my Ministers, any more than for those of my children. —To search into the recesses of the human heart, and to discover what is passing there, belongs to that Power alone, before which the monarchs of the world must bend; –but as I wish to hear your sentiments on something more than vague opinion, I must beg your Royal HIghness to confine yourself to yourself; and that you will not do your heart and understanding so great injustice as to look for your justification in the misconduct of others. —But I perceive your embarrassment; — to relieve you, therefore, as far as may be in my power, from your very unpleasant situation, and to save you the trouble, as well as the pain, of stating the supposed charges, which your propose to answer — I will turn catechist, if you please, and offer such interrogatories as may call forth those replies, which will involve all that you wish to say to me in the very interesting subject of the present conference. I shall therefore suppose, what I trust you feel yourself prepared to prove, that, during the late extraordinary and awful period, you have done every thing which was required, by your duty to me, who am your father — the dignity of your station, which places you next to your Sovereign — and the interests of the Empire, which, if you live, will one day be your own. On this idea I shall conclude, that, when you had recovered from the severe shock which must have been felt by your mind, on the unexpected nature and possible consequences of my illness, you immediately called to your councils and consolation, some of the first, the wisest, and the best men in this country: or, if you should have thought it more proper, as it might have been at first, to rest the burthen of your mind on one rather than many, I should hope that the distinguished individual would be most worthy of your confidence, and be esteemed as such by the nation, as well as yourself. May I, therfore, ask, whom did your Roayl Highness honour with your earliest communications?

 

P.

Mr. Sheridan. —

 

K.

Mr. Sheridan! –In the name of reason, common sense, and honour, what could induce you to place such a confidence, in such a man? — . . .

 

 

 

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Filed under 1780's, George III, Government, Great Britain, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Royal Family

Item of the Day: A Fragment (1789)

Full Title: A Fragment which Dropped from the Pocket of a Certain Lord, On Thursday, the 23d April, 1789, on his way to St. Paul’s with the Grand Procession. With Notes by the Finder. London: Printed or W. Priest, in Holborn; and sold by the booksellers in Piccadilly, the Strand, Fleet Street, and Pater-Noster-Row, 1789.

 

CHAP. II.

Oh, ill-star’d wight! misguided pamphleteer!

Dull as the vapid taste of mawkish beer;

Whose brains, though tortur’d oft, will never raise

The mead of solid pence, or empty praise;

So strain’d and twisted to each varying hour,

Alas! no wonder that the dregs are sour.

In these lines we think we can discover the irascible J. H—ne T–ke, a man no less distinguished for the accommodating versatility of his political zeal, than the inumberable quantity of pamphlets, letters, election squibs, &c. &c. &c. which his prolific head has given birth to. But as it often happens, the quickest births are not the most perfect, so many of his productions have come into the world in so mangled and undigested a state, that in compliment to his nartural parts, it is but charity to suppose a brain over-heated with chimaeras of promised greatness, has engendered such a motley breed. It has been the misfortune of this weather-beaten politician, that other people cannot see his services with his own eyes, and he has laboured long in the beaten track of plitical controversy without the solacing encouragement of pension or place to inflame his zeal, or shapren the natural virulence of his temper. He has, however, received the negative encouragement of not having yet stood in the pillory, an exaltation to which he has both a claim and a right, (two words which have made a great deal of noise lately,) and which, by the grace of God, no doubt, he will soon come into the possession of; we would advise him however, to make haste, as otherwise the Printers of some of our Morning Papers will be before hand with him, who mean there to enjoy the full “Liberty of the Press.” Till that happy day arrives, like the Camelion, he must change his colour, to meet each rising sun, and like that animal too, must feed on air, or what is as bad, the unsubstantial diet of a Minister’s promises, which wet the stomach without appeasing its yearnings. How must we admire then the charitable dispositon of our author in taking notice of this neglected wight, who barks like a dog at midnight, when every body is asleep.

Useless thy works, for head or tail the same;

The first they’ll deaden, and the last enflame.

With what delicacy does our poet touch upon the consequences of his lucubrations! How modestly does he insinuate, that a blister applied a posteriori, would have the same effect. By many families (it is said) they are used as tinder, and never is a house-maid so happy as when she can lay her hands upon any part of them, in her morning excursions, for fire paper. It has been shrewdly suggested, that the new-invented matches which light of themselves in the middle (in this resembling something else) are partly composed of one of these combustible performances. They were one of the Jack-the-Painter’s chief ingredients in setting fire to Portsmouth Dock-Yard, and serve universally for touch-paper to crackers, &c. &c. &c.  In short, their uses are as inumberable as their quantity, and it must be matter of pleasing reflection to their author to find amidst all his disappointmets, that his works, by taking a turn which he could never foresee, have become almost inestimable.

Yet, notwithstanding the great advantages which acrue from his literary labours, the danger which threatens those unaquainted with their inflammatory qualities, by making use of them a posteriori, induces us to join with our author in recommending the following recipe for the oveflowing of his bile, as we would not wish that any of our friends should experience the fate of Hercules, and suffer durance in a poisoned shirt. We therefore, (without a fee) prescribe the following regimen:

Then feed awhile on vegetable food,

To clear thy juices, and correct the blood,

Nor think it hard,

Virtue like thine should be its own reward. . . .

 

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Filed under 1780's, George III, Great Britain, Political Commentary, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Press

Item of the Day: Miscellany, for The Port Folio (9 July 1803)

Found In: The Port folio. Enlarged. By Oliver Oldschool. Vol. III., No. 28. Philadelphia, Saturday, July 9, 1803. [p. 219]

 

MISCELLANY,

FOR THE PORT FOLIO.

 

ADVICE TO THE EDITOR OF THE AURORA.

As you have, for some time, assumed the office, and rather imperiously exercised the functions of perpetual dictator to the good people of Pennsylvania, it may be proper to indicate to an attention so heedless as yours, that there are certain elements, in which you should be tolerably skilled, before you establish yourself over us, as our political schoolmaster.

As from a long and assiduous survey of your works, I have frequently found you not a little imperfect in orthography, a total stranger to grammar, and wholly averse to all purity of diction and elegance of stile. I strongly recommend to you the perusal of certain little volumes, written for the benefit of children and other Tyros, by Mr. Thomas Dilworth, a philosopher of the sixteenth century.

The next science, in the order of the circle, to which I would direct your blundering steps, is rhetoric, which, you must know, is the art of speaking eloquently, and of investing your thoughts in colours, bright and clear. As I know that you flounder in the muddiness of your mind, and are extremely unhappy, both in the choice and perspicuity of your phrases, I would advise you to borrow a few hours from those which you dedicate to the silencing of Mr. Burr, or the solacing of your wife, and commit to memory, Farnaby’s little system. Moreover, as I am told, you sometimes make an effort to speak in the primary assemblies, vulgarly called town meetings, and that your voice and periods are equally tuneless, perhaps some discipline of this kind may lash you into something, like a similitude of eloquence.

In Logic, you are so lame, that I am positive you are not equal to the management of a syllogism in Bocardo. Consult some of your Low German friends and borrow Burgersdyck, and Professor Schiltenbruch de Quidditate. From the leaden pages of laborious stupidity, your own cannot be encreased, and possibly you may learn in the art of reasoning, that some pains are necessary to establish the verity of your premises, before you suffer your zeal to hurry you to the conclusion. An important truth of which I am sorry to say, you are utterly regardless in all your speeches and writings.

With Metaphysics, I will not disturb a brain, so confused as yours; and in charity to your ignorance and incompetence, I will not lead them into a thorny thicket, where they would be miserably scratched, and instantly lose their way. I therefore pass on to Ethics; and here I am constrained to say that you will enter this region of science, as an utter stranger. You are not more an alien to America, than to your duties, as a man and a citizen; and such is my diffidence of your capacity, I know you must be frequently and severely flogged, before you will get by heart, the first lesson in this branch of your education.

Having thus suggested to you a course of studies, comprehending some of the initial sciences, I will reserve what I have to say to you upon mathematics, natural philosophy and theology, to another occasion. Of my didactics, I give you only a dose at a time, presuming that this is as much as so weak a creature can bear; and having thus prescribed what you will think sufficiently drastic, you have my permission to go “to breakfast with what appetite you may.”

 

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Filed under 1800's, Culture, Early Republic, Federalists, Magazine, Newspapers, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Democracy in America (1836)

Full Title: Democracy in America. By Alexis De Tocqueville, Avocat A La Cour Royale De Paris, Etc., Etc.  Translated by Henry Reeve, Esq. Second Edition. In Two Volumes. Vol. I. London: Saunders and Otley, Conduit Street. 1836.

Introduction.

Amongst the novel aspects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of conditions.   I readily discovered the prodigious influence which this primary fact exercises on the whole course of society, by giving a certain direction to public opinion, and a certain tenour to the laws; by imparting new maxims to the governing powers, and peculiar habits to the governed.

I speedily perceived that the influence of this fact extends far beyond the poilitical character and the laws of the country, and that it has no less empire over civil society than over the Government; it creates opinions, engenders sentiments, suggests the ordinary practices of life, and modifies whatever it does not produce.

The more I advanced in the study of American society, the more I perceived that the equality of conditions is the fundamental fact from which all others seem to be derived, and the central point at which all my observations constantly terminated.

I then turned my thoughts to our own hemisphere, where I imagined that I discerned something analogous to the spectacel which the New World presented to me.  I observed that the equality of conditions is daily progressing towards those extreme limits which it seems to have reached in the United States; and that the democracy which governs the American communities apppears to be rapidly rising into power in Europe. 

I hence conceived the idea of the book which is now before the reader.

It is evident to all alike that a great democratic revolution is going on amongst us; but there are two opinions as to its nature and consequences.  To some it appears to be a novel accident, which as such may still be checked; to others it seems irresistible, because it is the most uniform, the most ancient, and the most permanent tendency which is to be found in history. 

Let us recollect the situation of France seven hundred years ago, when the territory was divided amongst a small number of families, who were the owners of the soil and the rulers of the inhabitants; the right of governing descended with the family inheritance from generation to generation; force was the only means by which man could act on man; and landed property was the sole source of power. 

Soon, however, the political power of the clergy was founded, and began to exert itself: the clergy opened its ranks to all classes, to the poor and the rich, the villain and the lord; equality penetrated into the Government through the Church, and the being who as a serf must have vegetated in perpetual bondage, took his place as a priest in the midst od nobles and not unfrequently above the geads of kings.

The different relations of men became more complicated and more numerous as society gradually became more stable and more civilized.  Thence the want of civil laws was felt; and the oder of legal functionaries soon rose from the obscurity of tribunals and their dusty chambers, to appear at the court of the monarch, by the side of the feudal barons in their ermine and their mail […] 

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Filed under 1830's, Political Commentary, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: The Late Trial and Conviction of Count Tariff [1713]

Found In: The Works of the Late Right Honorable Joseph Addison, Esq’ Volume the Fourth. Complete with Index. Birmingham: Printed by John Baskerville, for J. and R. Tonson, at Shakespear’s Head in the Strand, MDCCLXI. [1761]

THE LATE TRIAL and CONVICTION of Count TARIFF.

THE whole Nation is at present very inquisitive after the proceedings in the cause of Goodman Fact, Plaintiff, and Count Tariff, Defendant; as it was tried on the 18th of June, in the thirteenth year of her Majesty’s reign, and in the year of the Lord 1713. I shall therfore give my countrymen a short and faithful account of that whole matter. And in order to it, must in the first place premise some particulars relating to the person and character of the said Plaintiff Goodman Fact.

Goodman Fact  is allowed by every body to be a plain-spoken person, and a man of very few words. Tropes and figures are his aversion. He affirms every thing roundly, without any art, rhetoric, or circumlocution. He is a declared enemy to all kinds of ceremony and complaisance. He flatters no body. Yet so great is his natural eloquence, that he cuts down the finest orator, and destroys the best-contrived argument, as soon as ever he gets himself to be heard. He never applies to the passions or prejudices of his audience; when they listen with attention and honest minds, he never fails of carrying his point. He appeared in a suit of English broad-cloth, very plain, but rich. Every thing he wore was substantial, honest, home-spun ware. His cane indeed came from the East-Indies, and two or three little superfluities from Turkey, and other parts. It is said that he encouraged himself with a bottle of neat Port, before he appeared at the trial. He was huzzaed into the Court by several thousands of Weavers, Clothiers, Fullers, Dyers, Packers, Calenders, Setters, Silk-men, Spinners, Dressers, Whitsters, Winders, Mercers, Throwsters, Sugar-bakers, Distillers, Drapers, Hosiers, Planters, Merchants, and Fishermen; who all unanimously declared that they could not live above two months longer, if their friend Fact did not gain his cause.

Every body was overjoyed to hear that the good man was to come to town. He no sooner made his appeance in Court, but several of his friends fell a weeping at the sight of him: for indeed he had not been seen there three years before.

The charge he exhibited against Count Tariff was drawn up in the following articles.

I. That the said Count had given in false and fraudulent reports on the name of the Plaintiff.

II. That the said Count had tampered with the said Plaintiff, and made use of many indirect methods to bring him over to his party.

III. That the said Count had wilfully and knowingly traduced the said Plaintiff, having misrepresented him in many cunningly-devised speeches, as a person in the French interest.

IV. That the said Count had averred in the presence of above five hundred persons, that he had heard the Plaintiff speak in derogation of the Portugese, Spaniards, Italians, Hollanders, and others, who were the persons whom the said Plaintiff had always favored in his discourse, and whom he should always continue to favor.

V. That the said Count had given a very disadvantageous relation of the three great farms which had long florished under the care and superintendency of the Plaintiff.

VI. That he would have obliged the owners of said farms to buy up many commodities which grew upon their own lands. That he would have taken away the labor from the tenants, and put it into the hands of strangers. That he would have lessened and destroyed the produce of the said farms.

That by these and many other wicked devices he would have starved many honest day-labouers: have impoverished the owner, and have filled his farm with beggars, &c.

VII. That the said Count had either sunk or mislaid several books, papers, and receipts, by which the Plaintiff might sooner have found means to vindicate himself from such calumnies, aspersions, and misrepresentations.

In all these particulars Goodman Fact was very short, but pithy: for, as I said before, he was a plain home-spun man. He yea was yea, and his nay, nay. He had farther so much of the Quaker in him, that he never swore, but his affirmation was as valid as another’s oath.

It was observed, that Count Tariff endeavoured to brow-beat the Plaintiff all the while he was speaking: but though he was not so impudent as the Count, he was every whit as sturdy; and when it came to the Count’s turn to speak, old Fact so stared him in the face, after his plain, downright way, that the Count was very often struck dumb, and forced to hold his tongue in the middle of his discourse.

More witnesses appeared on this occasion to attest Goodman Fact‘s veracity, than ever were seen in a court of justice. His cause was pleaded by the ablest men in the kingdom: among whom was a Gentleman of Suffolk, who did him signal service.

Count Tariff appeared just the reverse of Goodman Fact. He was dressed in a fine brocade waistcoat, curiously embroidered with Flower-de-luces. He wore also a broad-brimmed hat, a sholder-knot, and a pair of silver-clocked stockings. His speeches were accompanied with much gesture and grimace. He abounded in empty phrases, superficial florishes, violent assertions, and feeble proofs. To be brief, he had all the French assurance, cunning, and volubility of tongue; and would most certainly have carried his cause, had he dealt with any one antogonist in the world besides Goodman Fact.

The Count being called upon to answer to the charge which had been made against him, did it after a manner peculiar to the family of the Tariffs, viz. by railing and calling names.

He in the first place accused his adversary of Scandalum magnatum, and of speaking against his superiors with sauciness and contempt. As the plain good man was not of a make to have any friends at Court, he was a little startled at this accusation, till at length he made it appear, that it was impossible for any of his family to be either suacy or cringing; for that their character was, above all others in the world, to do what was required of them by the Court, that is, To speak the Truth and nothing but the Truth.

The Count in the next place assured the Court, that his antagonist had taken upon him a wrong name, having curtailed it of two or three letters; for that in reality his name was not Fact, but Faction. The Count was so pleased with this conceit, that for an hour together he repeated it in every sentence; calling his antagonist’s assertions, the reports of faction: his friends, the sons of faction; the testimonies of his witnesses, the dictates of faction: nay, with such a degree of impudence did he push this matter, that when he heard the cries of above a million of people begging for their bread, he termed the prayers and importunities of such a starving multitude, the Clamors of Faction.

As soon as the Count was driven out of this device, he affirmed roundly in the Court that Fact was not an Englishman by birth, but that he was of Dutch extraction, and born in Holland. In consequence of this assertion he began to rally the poor Plaintiff, under the title of Mynheer Van Fact; which took pretty well with the simpletons of his party, but the men of sense did not think the jest worth all their lands and tenements.

When the Count had finished his speech, he desired leave to call in his witnesses, which was granted; when immediately there came to the bar a man with a hat drawn over his eyes in such a manner that it was impossible to see his face. He spoke in the spirit, nay in the very language of the Count, repeated his arguments, and confirmed his assertions. Being asked his name; he said the world called him Mercator; but as for his true name, his age, his lineage, his religion, his place of abode, they were particulars, which for certain reasons he was obliged to conceal. The Court found him such a false, shuffling, prevaricating rascal, that they set him aside as a person unqualified to give his testimony in a Court of Justice; advising him at the same time, as he tendered his ears, to forbear uttering such notorious falsehoods as he had then published. The witness however persisted in  his contumacy, telling them he was very sorry to find, that notwithstanding what he had said, they were resovled to be as arrant fools as all their forefathers had been for a hundred years before them.

There came up antoher witness, who spoke much to the reputation of Count Tariff. This was a tall, black, blustering preson, dressed in a Spanish habit, with a plume of feathers on his head, a Golillio about his neck and a long Toledo sticking out by his side: his garments were so covered with tinsel and spangles, that at a distance he seemed to be made up of silver and gold. He called himself Don Assiento, and mentioned several nations that had sought his friendship; but declared that he had been gained over by the Count; and that he was come into these parts to enrich every one that heard him. The Court was at first very well pleased with his figure, and the promises he made them; but upon examination found him a true Spaniard: nothing but shew and beggary. For it was fully proved, that notwithstanding the boasts and appearance which he made, he was not worth a groat: nay, that upon casting up his annual expences, with the debts and incumbrances which lay upon his estate, he was worse than nothing.

There appeared another witness in favor of the Count, who spoke with so much violence and warmth, that the Court began to listen to him very attentively; till upon hearing his name they found he was a notorious Knight of the post, being kept inpay, to give his testimony on all occasions where it was wanted. This was the Examiner; a person who had abused almost every man in England, that deserved well for his country. He called Goodman Fact a liar, a seditious person, a traitor, and a rebel; and so much incensed the honest man, that he would certainly have knocked him down if he could have come at him. It was allowed by every body, that so foul-mouthed a witness never appeared in any cause. Seeing seveal persons of great eminence, who had maintained the cause of Goodman Fact, he called them edeots, blockheads, villains, knaves, infidels, atheists, apostates, fiends, and devils: never did man shew so much eloquence in ribaldry. The Court was at length so justly provoked with this fellow’s behavior, who spared no age, nor sex, nor possession, which had shewn any friendship or inclinatin for the Plaintiff, that seveal began to whisper to one another, it was high time to bring him to punishment. But the witness over-hearing the word Pillory repeated twice or thrice, slunk away privately, and hid himself among the people.

After a full haring on both sides, Count Tariff was cast, and Goodman Fact got his cause; but the court sitting late, did not think it fit at that time to give him costs, or indeed to enter into that matter. The honest man immediately retired, after having assured his friends, that at any time when the Count should appear on the like occasion, he would undertake their defence, and come to their assistance, if they would be at the pains to find him out.

It is incredible, how general a joy Goodman Fact’s success created in the city of London; there was nothing to be seen or heard the next day, but shaking of hands, congratulations, reflections on the danger they had escaped; and gratitude to those who had deliverd them from it.

The night concluded with balls, bonfires, ringing of bells, and the like public demonstrations of joy.

 

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Filed under 1710's, Eighteenth century, Foreign Relations, Great Britain, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Trials