By establishing an University where Gentlemen may have Academical Education under the Eye of their Friends.
II. By an Hospital for Foundlings.
III. By forming an Academy of Sciences at Christ's Hospital.
IV. By suppressing pretended Madhouses, where many of the Fair Sex are unjustly confined, while their Husbands keep Mistresses, &c., and many
Widows are locked up for the sake of their Jointure.
V. To save our Youth from Destruction, by clearing the Streets of impudent Strumpets, suppressing Gaming Tables, and Sunday Debauches.
VI. To save our lower Class of People from utter Ruin, and render them useful, by preventing the immoderate use of Geneva: with a frank Explosion of many other common Abuses, and incontestible Rules for Amendment.
Printed for J. Roberts, in Warwick Lane, and sold by E. Nutt, at the Royal Exchange; A. Dodd, without Temple Bar; N. Blandford, at Charing Cross; and J. Stagg, in Westminster-Hall.
[Price One Shilling.]
A man who has the public good in view, ought not in the least to be alarmed at the tribute of ridicule which scoffers constantly pay to projecting heads. It is the business of a writer, who means well, to go directly forward, without regard to criticism, but to offer his thoughts as they occur; and if in twenty schemes he hits but on one to the purpose, he ought to be excused failing in the nineteen for the twentieth sake. It is a kind of good action to mean well, and the intention ought to palliate the failure; but the English, of all people in the world, show least mercy to schemists, for they treat them in the vilest manner; whereas other nations give them fair play for their lives, which is the reason why we are esteemed so bad at invention.
I have but a short time to live, nor would I waste my remaining thread of life in vain, but having often lamented sundry public abuses, and many schemes having occurred to my fancy, which to me[Pg 4] carried an air of benefit, I was resolved to commit them to paper before my departure, and leave, at least, a testimony of my good will to my fellow-creatures.
But of all my reflections, none was more constantly my companion than a deep sorrow for the present decay of learning among us, and the manifest corruption of education; we have been a brave and learned people, and are insensibly dwindling into an effeminate, superficial race. Our young gentlemen are sent to the universities, it is true, but not under restraint or correction as formerly; not to study, but to drink; not for furniture for the head, but a feather for the cap, merely to say they have been at Oxford or Cambridge, as if the air of those places inspired knowledge without application. It is true we ought to have those places in reverence for the many learned men they have sent us; but why must we go so far for knowledge? Why should a young gentleman be sent raw from the nursery to live on his own hands, to be liable to a thousand temptations, and run the risk of being snapped up by sharping jilts, with which both universities abound, who make our youth of fortune their prey, and have brought misery into too many good families? Not only the hazard of their healths from debauches of both kinds, but the waste of their precious time renders the sending them so far off very hazardous. Why should such a metropolis as London be without an university? Would it not save considerably the expense we are at in sending our young gentlemen so far from London? Would it not add to the lustre of our state, and cultivate politeness among us? What benefits may we not in time expect from so glorious a design? Will not London become the scene of science? And what reason have we but to hope we may vie with any[Pg 5] neighbouring nations? Not that I would have Oxford or Cambridge neglected, for the good they have done. Besides, there are too many fine endowments to be sunk; we may have universities at those places and at London too, without prejudice. Knowledge will never hurt us, and whoever lives to see an university here, will find it give quite another turn to the genius and spirit of our youth in general.
How many gentlemen pass their lives in a shameful indolence, who might employ themselves to the purpose, were such a design set on foot? Learning would flourish, art revive, and not only those who studied would benefit by it, but the blessing would be conveyed to others by conversation.
And in order to this so laudable design, small expense is required; the sole charge being the hire of a convenient hall or house, which, if they please, they may call a college. But I see no necessity the pupils have to lie or diet there; that may be done more reasonably and conveniently at home, under the eye of their friends; their only necessary business at college being to attend their tutors at stated hours; and, bed and board excepted, to conform themselves to college laws, and perform the same exercises as if they were actually at Oxford or Cambridge.
Let the best of tutors be provided, and professors in all faculties encouraged; this will do a double good, not only to the instructed, but to the instructors. What a fine provision may here be made for numbers of ingenious gentlemen now unpreferred? And to what a height may even a small beginning grow in time?
As London is so extensive, so its university may be composed of many colleges, quartered at convenient distances: for example, one at Westminster,[Pg 6] one at St. James's, one near Ormond-street, that part of the town abounding in gentry; one in the centre of the Inns of Court, another near the Royal Exchange, and more if occasion and encouragement permit.
The same offices and regulations may be constituted, cooks, butlers, bed-makers, &c., excepted, as at other universities. As for endowment, there is no need, the whole may be done by subscription, and that an easy one, considering that nothing but instructions are paid for.
In a word, an academical education is so much wanted in London, that everybody of ability and figure will readily come into it; and I dare engage, the place need but be chosen, and tutors approved of, to complete the design at once.
It may be objected, that there is a kind of university at Gresham college, where professors in all sciences are maintained, and obliged to read lectures every day, or at least as often as demanded. The design is most laudable, but it smells too much of the sine cure; they only read in term time, and then their lectures are so hurried over, the audience is little the better. They cannot be turned out, it is a good settlement for life, and they are very easy in their studies when once fixed. Whereas were the professorship during good behaviour, there would be a study to maintain their posts, and their pupils would reap the benefit.
Upon second thought, I think colleges for university education might be formed at Westminster, Eton, the Charter-house, St. Paul's, Merchant Tailors, and other public schools, where youth might begin and end their studies; but this may be further considered of.
I had almost forgot the most material point, which is, that his majesty's sanction must first be[Pg 7] obtained, and the university proposed have power to confer degrees, &c., and other academical privileges.
As I am quick to conceive, I am eager to have done, unwilling to overwork a subject; I had rather leave part to the conception of the readers, than to tire them or myself with protracting a theme, as if, like a chancery man or a hackney author, I wrote by the sheet for hire. So let us have done with this topic, and proceed to another, which is:—
A proposal to prevent murder, dishonour, and other abuses, by erecting an hospital for foundlings.
It is needless to run into a declamation on this head, since not a sessions passes but we see one or more merciless mothers tried for the murder of their bastard children; and, to the shame of good government, generally escape the vengeance due to shedders of innocent blood. For it is a common practice now among them to hire a set of old beldams, or pretended midwives, who make it their trade to bring them off for three or four guineas, having got the ready rote of swearing the child was not at its full growth, for which they have a hidden reserve; that is to say, the child was not at man's or woman's growth. Thus do these impious wretches cheat the world, and damn their own souls by a double meaning, which too often imposes on a cautious, merciful, and credulous jury, and gives wicked murderers means to escape and commit fresh sins, to which their acquitters, no doubt, are accessory.
I wonder so many men of sense as have been on the jury have been so often imposed upon by the[Pg 8] stale pretence of a scrap or two of child-bed linen being found in the murderer's box, &c.; when, alas! perhaps, it was never put there till after the murder was committed; or if it was, but with a view of saving themselves by that devilish precaution; for so many have been acquitted on that pretence, that it is but too common a thing to provide child-bed linen beforehand for a poor innocent babe they are determined to murder.
But, alas! what are the exploded murders to those which escape the eye of the magistrate, and die in silence? Add to this, procured abortions and other indirect means which wicked wretches make use of to screen themselves from the censure of the world, which they dread more than the displeasure of their Maker.
Those who cannot be so hardhearted to murder their own offspring themselves, take a slower, though as sure, a way, and get it done by others, by dropping their children, and leaving them to be starved by parish nurses.
Thus is God robbed of a creature, in whom he had breathed the breath of life, and on whom he had stamped his image; the world of an inhabitant, who might have been of use; the king of a subject; and future generations of an issue not to be accounted for, had this infant lived to have been a parent.
It is therefore the height of charity and humanity to provide against this barbarity, to prevent this crying sin, and extract good, even out of evil, by saving these innocent babes from slaughter, and bringing them up in the nurture and fear of the Lord; to be of benefit to themselves and mankind in general.
And what nearer, what better way can we have, than to erect and to endow a proper hospital or[Pg 9] house to receive them, where we may see them tenderly brought up, as so many living monuments of our charity; every one of them being a convincing proof of a Christian saved, and a murder prevented?
Nor will this be attended with so much charge as is imagined, for we find in many parishes, that parents have redemanded their children, on increase of circumstances, and paid all costs, with a handsome present in the bargain; and many times when a clandestine marriage is cleared up and openly avowed, they would purchase the first-fruits of their loves at any rate. Oftentimes a couple may have no more children, and an infant thus saved may arrive to inherit a good estate, and become a benefactor where it was once an object of charity.
But let us suppose the worst, and imagine the infant begot in sin and without the sanction of wedlock; is it therefore to be murdered, starved, or neglected, because its parents were wicked? Hard fate of innocent children to suffer for their parents' faults! Where God has thought fit to give his image and life, there is nourishment demanded; that calls aloud for our Christian and human assistance, and best shows our nobleness of soul, when we generously assist those who cannot help themselves.
If the fault devolved on the children, our church would deny them baptism, burial, and other Christian rites; but our religion carries more charity with it, they are not denied even to partake of our blessed sacraments, and are excluded no one branch or benefit accruing from Christianity; if so, how unjust are those who arraign them for their parents' faults, and how barbarous are those parents, who, though able, make no provision for them, because they are not legitimate. My child, is my child, let it be begot in sin or wedlock, and all the duties of a parent are incumbent on me so long as[Pg 10] it lives; if it survives me, I ought to make a provision for it, according to my ability; and though I do not set it on a footing with my legitimate children, I ought in conscience to provide against want and shame, or I am answerable for every sin or extravagance my child is forced or led into, for want of my giving an allowance to prevent it.
We have an instance very fresh in every one's memory, of an ingenious, nay a sober young nobleman, for such I must call him, whose either father was a peer, and his mother a peeress. This unhappy gentleman, tossed from father to father, at last found none, and himself a vagabond forced to every shift; he in a manner starved for many years, yet was guilty of no capital crime, till that unhappy accident occurred, which God has given him grace and sense enough to repent. However, I cannot but think his hard-hearted mother will bear her portion of the guilt, till washed away by a severe repentance.
What a figure might this man have made in life, had due care been taken? If his peerage had not been adjusted, he might at least have been a fine gentleman; nay, probably have filled some handsome post in the government with applause, and called as much for respect as he does now for pity.
Nor is this gentleman the only person begot and neglected by noble, or rather ignoble parents; we have but too many now living, who owe their birth to the best of our peerage, and yet know not where to eat. Hard fate, when the child would be glad of the scraps which the servants throw away! But Heaven generally rewards them accordingly, for many noble families are become extinct, and large estates alienated into other houses, while their own issue want bread.
And now, methinks, I hear some over-squeamish[Pg 11] ladies cry, What would this fellow be at? would not he set up a nursery for lewdness, and encourage fornication? who would be afraid of sinning, if they can so easily get rid of their bastards? we shall soon be overrun with foundlings when there is such encouragement given to whoredom. To which I answer, that I am as much against bastards being begot, as I am for their being murdered; but when a child is once begot, it cannot be unbegotten; and when once born, it must be kept; the fault, as I said before, is in the parents, not the child; and we ought to show our charity towards it as a fellow-creature and Christian, without any regard to its legitimacy or otherwise.
The only way to put a stop to this growing evil, would be to oblige all housekeepers not to admit a man and woman as lodgers till they were certified of their being lawfully married; for now-a-days nothing is more common than for a whoremonger and a strumpet to pretend marriage, till they have left a child or two on the parish, and then shift to another part of the town.
If there were no receivers, there would be no thieves; if there were no bawdyhouses, there would be no whores; and though persons letting lodgings be not actual procurers, yet, if they connive at the embraces of a couple, whose marriage is doubtful, they are no better than bawds, and their houses no more than brothels.
Now should anybody ask how shall this hospital be built? how endowed? to which I answer, follow the steps of the Venetians, the Hamburghers, and other foreign states, &c., who have for ages past prosecuted this glorious design, and found their account therein. As for building a house, I am utterly against it, especially in the infancy of the affair: let a place convenient be hired. Why[Pg 12] should such a considerable sum be sunk in building as has in late public structures, which have swallowed up part of the profits and dividend, if not the capital, of unwary stockmongers?
To my great joy I find my project already anticipated, and a noble subscription carrying on for this purpose; to promote which I exhort all persons of compassion and generosity, and I shall think myself happy, if what I have said on this head may anyways contribute to further the same.
Having said all I think material on this subject, I beg pardon for leaving my reader so abruptly, and crave leave to proceed to another article, viz.:—
A proposal to prevent the expensive importation of foreign musicians, &c., by forming an academy of our own.
It will no doubt be asked what have I to do with music? to which I answer, I have been a lover of the science from my infancy, and in my younger days was accounted no despicable performer on the viol and lute, then much in vogue. I esteem it the most innocent amusement in life; it generally relaxes, after too great a hurry of spirits, and composes the mind into a sedateness prone to everything that is generous and good; and when the more necessary parts of education are finished, it is a most genteel and commendable accomplishment; it saves a great deal of drinking and debauchery in our sex, and helps the ladies off with many an idle hour, which sometimes might probably be worse employed otherwise.
Our quality, gentry, and better sort of traders must have diversions; and if those that are commendable be denied, they will take to worse; now[Pg 13] what can be more commendable than music, one of the seven liberal sciences, and no mean branch of the mathematics?
Were it for no other reason I should esteem it, because it was the favourite diversion of his late majesty, of glorious memory; who was as wise a prince as ever filled the British throne. Nor is it less esteemed by their present majesties, whose souls are formed for harmony, and who have not disdained to make it a part in the education of their sacred race.
Our nobility and gentry have shown their love to the science, by supporting at such prodigious expense the Italian opera, improperly called an academy; but they have at the same time shown no small partiality in discouraging anything English, and overloading the town with such heaps of foreign musicians.
An academy, rightly understood, is a place for the propagation of science, by training up persons thereto from younger to riper years, under the instruction and inspection of proper artists; how can the Italian opera properly be called an academy, when none are admitted but such as are, at least are thought, or ought to be, adepts in music? If that be an academy, so are the theatres of Drury-lane, and Lincolns-inn Fields; nay, Punch's opera may pass for a lower kind of academy. Would it not be a glorious thing to have an opera of our own, in our own most noble tongue, in which the composer, singers, and orchestra, should be of our own growth? Not that we ought to disclaim all obligations to Italy, the mother of music, the nurse of Corelli, Handel, Bononcini, Geminiani; but then we ought not to be so stupidly partial to imagine ourselves too brutal a part of mankind to make any progress in the science? By the same reason that we love it, we may excel in it; love begets application,[Pg 14] and application perfection. We have already had a Purcel, and no doubt there are now many latent geniuses, who only want proper instruction, application, and encouragement, to become great ornaments of the science, and make England emulate even Rome itself.
What a number of excellent performers on all instruments have sprung up in England within these few years? That this is owing to the opera I will not deny, and so far the opera is an academy, as it refines the taste and inspires emulation.
But though we are happy in instrumental performers, we frequently send to Italy for singers, and that at no small expense; to remedy which I humbly propose that the governors of Christ's Hospital will show their public spirit, by forming an academy of music on their foundation, after this or the like manner.
That out of their great number of children, thirty boys be selected of good ears and propensity to music.
That these boys be divided into three classes, viz., six for wind instruments, such as the hautboy, bassoon, and German flute.
That sixteen others be selected for string instruments, or at least the most useful, viz., the violin and bass-violin.
That the remaining eight be particularly chosen for voice, and organ, or harpsichord. That all in due time be taught composition. The boys thus chosen, three masters should be elected, each most excellent in his way; that is to say, one for the wind instrument, another for the stringed, and a third for the voice and organ, &c.
Handsome salaries should be allowed these masters, to engage their constant attendance every day from eight till twelve in the morning; and I think 100l.[Pg 15] per annum for each would be sufficient, which will be a trifle to so wealthy a body. The multiplicity of holidays should be abridged, and only a few kept; there cannot be too few, considering what a hinderance they are to juvenile studies. It is a vulgar error that has too long prevailed all over England to the great detriment of learning, and many boys have been made blockheads in complaisance to kings and saints dead for many ages past.
The morning employed in music, the boys should go in the afternoon, or so many hours, to the reading and writing school, and in the evening should practice, at least two hours before bed-time, and two before the master comes in the morning. This course held for seven or eight years, will make them fine proficients; but that they should not go too raw or young out of the academy, it is proper, that at the stated age of apprenticeship, they be bound to the hospital, to engage their greater application, and make them thorough masters, before they launch out into the world; for one great hinderance to many performers is, that they begin to teach too soon, and obstruct their genius.
What will not such a design produce in a few years? Will they not be able to perform a concert, choir, or opera, or all three, among themselves, and overpay the charge, as shall hereafter be specified?
For example, we will suppose such a design to be continued for ten years, we shall find an orchestra of forty hands, and a choir or opera of twenty voices, or admitting that of those twenty only five prove capital singers, it will answer the intent.
For the greater variety they may, if they think fit, take in two or more of their girls, where they find a promising genius, but this may be further considered of.
Now, when they are enabled to exhibit an opera,[Pg 16] will they not gain considerably when their voices and hands cost them only a college subsistence? and it is but reasonable the profits accruing from operas, concerts, or otherwise, should go to the hospital, to make good all former and future expenses, and enable them to extend the design to a greater length and grandeur; so that instead of 1,500l. per annum, the price of one Italian singer, we shall for 300l. once in ten years, have sixty English musicians regularly educated, and enabled to live by their science.
There ought, moreover, to be annual probations, and proper prizes or premiums allotted, to excite emulation in the youths, and give life to their studies.
They have already a music school, as they call it, but the allowance is too poor for this design, and the attendance too small, it must be every day, or not at all.
This will be an academy indeed, and in process of time they will have even their masters among themselves; and what is the charge, compared with the profits, or their abilities?
One thing I had like to have forgot, which is, that with permission of the right reverend the lords spiritual, some performance in music, suitable to the solemnity of the day, be exhibited every Sunday after divine service. Sacred poesy, and rhetoric may be likewise introduced to make it an entertainment suitable to a Christian and polite audience; and indeed we seem to want some such commendable employment for the better sort; for we see the public walks and taverns crowded, and rather than be idle, they will go to Newport market.
That such an entertainment would be much preferable to drinking, gaming, or profane discourse, none can deny; and till it is proved to be prejudicial,[Pg 17] I shall always imagine it necessary. The hall at the hospital will contain few less than seven hundred people, conveniently seated, which at so small a price as one shilling per head, will amount to 35l. per week; and if the performance deserve it, as no doubt it will in time, they may make it half a crown, or more, which must considerably increase the income of the hospital.
When they are able to make an opera, the profits will be yet more considerable, nor will they reap much less from what the youths bring in during their apprenticeship, when employed at concerts, theatres, or other public entertainments.
Having advanced what I think proper on this head, or at least enough for a hint, I proceed to offer,
That many youths and servants may be saved from destruction were the streets cleared of shameless and impudent strumpets, gaming tables totally suppressed, and a stop put to sabbath debauches.
The corruption of our children and servants is of importance sufficient to require our utmost precaution; and moreover, women servants (commonly called maid-servants) are such necessary creatures, that it is by no means below us to make them beneficial rather than prejudicial to us.
I shall not run into a description of their abuses; we know enough of those already. Our business now is to make them useful, first by ascertaining their wages at a proper standard.
Secondly, by obliging them to continue longer in service, not to stroll about from place to place, and throw themselves on the town on every dislike.
Thirdly, to prevent their being harboured by[Pg 18] wicked persons, when out of place; or living too long on their own hands.
As for their wages, they have topped upon us already, and doubled them in spite of our teeth; but as they have had wit enough to get them, so will they, I doubt not, have the same sense to keep them, and much good may it do those indolent over-secure persons, who have given them this advantage. However, if they are honest and diligent, I would have them encouraged, and handsome wages allowed them; because, by this means, we provide for the children of the inferior class of people, who otherwise could not maintain themselves; nay, sometimes tradesmen, &c., reduced, are glad when their children cease to hang upon them, by getting into service, and by that means not only maintaining themselves, but being of use in other families. But then there ought to be some medium, some limitation to their wages, or they may extort more than can well be afforded.
Nothing calls for more redress than their quitting service for every idle disgust, leaving a master or mistress at a nonplus, and all under plea of a foolish old custom, called warning, nowhere practised but in London; for in other places they are hired by the year, or by the statute as they call it, which settles them in a place, at least for some time; whereas, when they are not limited, it encourages a roving temper, and makes them never easy.
If you turn them away without warning, they will make you pay a month's wages, be the provocation or offence never so great; but if they leave you, though never so abruptly, or unprovided, help yourselves how you can, there is no redress; though I think there ought, in all conscience, to be as much law for the master as for the servant.
No servant should quit a place where they are[Pg 19] well fed and paid, without assigning a good reason before a magistrate. On the other hand, they should receive no abuse which should not be redressed; for we ought to treat them as servants, not slaves; and a medium ought to be observed on both sides. But if they are not restrained from quitting service on every vagary, they will throw themselves on the town, and not only ruin themselves, but others; for example, a girl quits a place and turns whore; if there is not a bastard to be murdered, or left to the parish, there is one or more unwary youths drawn in to support her in lewdness and idleness; in order to which, they rob their parents and masters, nay, sometimes, anybody else, to support their strumpets; so that many thieves owe their ruin and shameful deaths to harlots; not to mention the communication of loathsome distempers, and innumerable other evils, to which they give birth.
How many youths, of all ranks, are daily ruined? and how justly may be dreaded the loss of as many more, if a speedy stop be not put to this growing evil? Generations to come will curse the neglect of the present, and every sin committed for the future may be passed to our account, if we do not use our endeavours to the contrary.
And unless we prevent our maid-servants from being harboured by wicked persons when out of place, or living too long on their own hands, our streets will swarm with impudent shameless strumpets; the good will be molested; those prone to evil will be made yet more wicked, by having temptations thrown in their way; and, to crown all, we shall have scarce a servant left, but our wives, &c., must do the household-work themselves.
If this be not worthy the consideration of a legislature, I would fain know what is. Is it not time to limit their wages, when they are grown so wanton[Pg 20] they know not what to ask? Is it not time to fix them, when they stroll from place to place, and we are hardly sure of a servant a month together? Is it not time to prevent the increase of harlots, by making it penal for servants to be harboured in idleness, and tempted to theft, whoredom, murder, &c., by living too long out of place? and I am sure it is high time to begin the work, by clearing the public streets of night-walkers, who are grown to such a pitch of impudence that peace and common decency are manifestly broken in our public streets. I wonder this has so long escaped the eye of the magistrate, especially when there are already in force laws sufficient to restrain this tide of uncleanness, which will one day overflow us.
The lewdest people upon earth, ourselves excepted, are not guilty of such open violations of the laws of decency. Go all the world over, and you will see no such impudence as in the streets of London, which makes many foreigners give our women in general a bad character, from the vile specimens they meet with from one end of the town to the other. Our sessions' papers are full of the trials of impudent sluts, who first decoy men and then rob them; a meanness the courtesans of Rome and Venice abhor.
How many honest women, those of the inferior sort especially, get loathsome distempers from their husband's commerce with these creatures, which distempers are often entailed on posterity; nor have we an hospital separated for that purpose, which does not contain too many instances of honest poor wretches made miserable by villains of husbands.
And now I have mentioned the villany of some husbands in the lower state of life, give me leave to propose, or at least to wish, that they were restrained from abusing their wives at that barbarous rate,[Pg 21] which is now practised by butchers, carmen, and such inferior sort of fellows, who are public nuisances to civil neighbourhoods, and yet nobody cares to interpose, because the riot is between a man and his wife.
I see no reason why every profligate fellow shall have the liberty to disturb a whole neighbourhood, and abuse a poor honest creature at a most inhuman rate, and is not to be called to account because it is his wife; this sort of barbarity was never so notorious and so much encouraged as at present, for every vagabond thinks he may cripple his wife at pleasure; and it is enough to pierce a heart of stone to see how barbarously some poor creatures are beaten and abused by merciless dogs of husbands.
It gives an ill example to the growing generation, and this evil will gain ground on us if not prevented; it may be answered, the law has already provided redress, and a woman abused may swear the peace against her husband, but what woman cares to do that? It is revenging herself on herself, and not without considerable charge and trouble.
There ought to be a shorter way, and when a man has beaten his wife, which by the by is a most unmanly action, and great sign of cowardice, it behoves every neighbour who has the least humanity or compassion, to complain to the next justice of the peace, who should be empowered to set him in the stocks for the first offence; to have him well scourged at the whipping-post for the second; and if he persisted in his barbarous abuse of the holy marriage state, to send him to the house of correction till he should learn to use more mercy to his yoke-fellow.
How hard is it for a poor industrious woman to be up early and late, to sit in a cold shop, stall, or market, all weathers, to carry heavy loads from one end of the town to the other, or to work from[Pg 22] morning till night, and even then dread going home for fear of being murdered? Some may think this too low a topic for me to expatiate upon, to which I answer, that it is a charitable and Christian one, and therefore not in the least beneath the consideration of any man who had a woman for his mother.
The mention of this leads me to exclaim against the vile practice now so much in vogue among the better sort as they are called, but the worst sort in fact; namely, the sending their wives to madhouses, at every whim or dislike, that they may be more secure and undisturbed in their debaucheries; which wicked custom is got to such a head, that the number of private madhouses in and about London are considerably increased within these few years.
This is the height of barbarity and injustice in a Christian country, it is a clandestine inquisition, nay worse.
How many ladies and gentlewomen are hurried away to these houses, which ought to be suppressed, or at least subject to daily examination, as hereafter shall be proposed?
How many, I say, of beauty, virtue, and fortune, are suddenly torn from their dear innocent babes, from the arms of an unworthy man, whom they love, perhaps, but too well, and who in return for that love, nay probably an ample fortune and a lovely offspring besides, grows weary of the pure streams of chaste love, and thirsting after the puddles of lawless lust, buries his virtuous wife alive, that he may have the greater freedom with his mistresses?
If they are not mad when they go into these cursed houses, they are soon made so by the barbarous usage they there suffer; and any woman of spirit, who has the least love for her husband, or concern for her family, cannot sit down tamely[Pg 23] under a confinement and separation the most unaccountable and unreasonable.
Is it not enough to make any one mad to be suddenly clapped up, stripped, whipped, ill-fed, and worse used? To have no reason assigned for such treatment, no crime alleged, or accusers to confront? And what is worse, no soul to appeal to but merciless creatures, who answer but in laughter, surliness, contradiction, and too often stripes?
All conveniences for writing are denied, no messenger to be had to carry a letter to any relation or friend; and if this tyrannical inquisition, joined with the reasonable reflections a woman of any common understanding must necessarily make, be not sufficient to drive any soul stark staring mad, though before they were never so much in their right senses, I have no more to say.
When by this means a wicked husband has driven a poor creature mad, and robbed an injured wife of her reason, for it is much easier to create than to cure madness, then has the villain a handle for his roguery; then, perhaps, he will admit her distressed relations to see her, when it is too late to cure the madness he so artfully and barbarously has procured.
But this is not all: sometimes more dismal effects attend this inquisition, for death is but too often the cure of their madness and end of their sorrows; some with ill usage, some with grief, and many with both, are barbarously cut off in the prime of their years and flower of their health, who otherwise might have been mothers of a numerous issue, and survived many years. This is murder in the deepest sense, and much more cruel than dagger or poison, because more lingering; they die by piecemeal, and in all the agonies and terrors of a distracted mind.[Pg 24]
Nay, it is murder upon murder, for the issue that might have been begot is to be accounted for to God and the public. Now, if this kind of murder is connived at, we shall no doubt have enough, nay, too much of it; for if a man is weary of his wife, has spent her fortune, and wants another, it is but sending her to a madhouse and the business is done at once.
How many have already been murdered after this manner is best known to just Heaven, and those unjust husbands and their damned accomplices, who, though now secure in their guilt, will one day find it is murder of the blackest dye, has the least claim to mercy, and calls aloud for the severest vengeance.
How many are yet to be sacrificed, unless a speedy stop be put to this most accursed practice, I tremble to think; our legislature cannot take this cause too soon in hand. This surely cannot be below their notice, and it will be an easy matter at once to suppress all these pretended madhouses. Indulge, gentle reader, for once the doting of an old man, and give him leave to lay down his little system without arraigning him of arrogance or ambition to be a lawgiver. In my humble opinion, all private madhouses should be suppressed at once, and it should be no less than felony to confine any person under pretence of madness without due authority.
For the cure of those who are really lunatic, licensed madhouses should be constituted in convenient parts of the town, which houses should be subject to proper visitation and inspection, nor should any person be sent to a madhouse without due reason, inquiry, and authority.
It may be objected, by persons determined to contradict every thing and approve nothing, that[Pg 25] the abuses complained of are not so numerous or heinous as I would insinuate. Why are not facts advanced, they will be apt to say, to give a face of truth to these assertions? But I have two reasons to the contrary; the first is, the more you convince them, the more angry you make them, for they are never better pleased than when they have an opportunity of finding fault; therefore, to curry favour with the fault-finders, I have left them a loophole: the second and real is, because I do not care to bring an old house over my head by mentioning particular names or special cases, thereby drawing myself into vexatious prosecutions and suits at law from litigious wretches, who would be galled to find their villanies made public, and stick at no expense or foul play to revenge themselves. Not but I could bring many instances, particularly of an unhappy widow, put in by a villain of a husband, and now continued in for the sake of her jointure by her unnatural son, far from common honesty or humanity. Of another, whose husband keeps his mistress in black velvet, and is seen with her every night at the opera or play, while his poor wife (by much the finer woman, and of an understanding far superior to her thick-skulled tyrant,) is kept mean in diet and apparel; nay, ill-used into the bargain, notwithstanding her fortune supplies all the villain's extravagances, and he has not a shilling but what came from her: but a beggar when once set on horseback proves always the most unmerciful rider.
I cannot leave this subject without inserting one particular case.
A lady of known beauty, virtue, and fortune, nay more, of wisdom, not flashy wit, was, in the prime of her youth and beauty, and when her senses were perfectly sound, carried by her husband in his coach[Pg 26] as to the opera; but the coachman had other instructions, and drove directly to a madhouse, where the poor innocent lady was no sooner introduced, under pretence of calling by the way to see some pictures he had a mind to buy, but the key was turned upon her, and she left a prisoner by her faithless husband, who while his injured wife was confined and used with the utmost barbarity, he, like a profligate wretch, ran through her fortune with strumpets, and then basely, under pretence of giving her liberty, extorted her to make over her jointure, which she had no sooner done but he laughed in her face, and left her to be as ill-used as ever. This he soon ran through, and (happily for the lady) died by the justice of heaven in a salivation his debauches had obliged him to undergo.
During her confinement, the villain of the madhouse frequently attempted her chastity; and the more she repulsed him the worse he treated her, till at last he drove her mad in good earnest. Her distressed brother, who is fond of her to the last degree, now confines her in part of his own house, treating her with great tenderness, but has the mortification to be assured by the ablest physicians that his poor sister is irrecoverably distracted.
Numberless are the instances I could produce, but they would be accounted fictitious, because I do not name the particular persons, for the reasons before assigned; but the sufferings of these poor ladies are not fictitious, nor are the villany of the madhouses, or the unnatural, though fashionable barbarity of husbands, chimeras, but too solid grievances, and manifest violations of the laws of God and man.
Most gracious and august queen Caroline! ornament of your sex, and pride of the British nation! the best of mothers, the best of wives, the[Pg 27] best of women! Begin this auspicious reign with an action worthy your illustrious self, rescue your injured sex from this tyranny, nor let it be in the power of every brutal husband to cage and confine his wife at pleasure, a practice scarce heard of till of late years. Nip it in the bud, most gracious queen, and draw on yourself the blessings of numberless of the fair sex, now groaning under the severest and most unjust bondage. Restore them to their families; let them, by your means, enjoy light and liberty; that while they fondly embrace, and with tears of joy weep over their dear children, so long withheld from them, they may invoke accumulated blessings from heaven upon your royal head!
And you, ye fair illustrious circle! who adorn the British court! and every day surround our gracious queen: let generous pity inspire your souls, and move you to intercede with your noble consorts for redress in this injurious affair. Who can deny when you become suitors? and who knows but at your request a bill may be brought into the house to regulate these abuses? The cause is a noble and a common one, and ought to be espoused by every lady who would claim the least title to virtue or compassion. I am sure no honest member in either honourable house will be against so reasonable a bill; the business is for some public-spirited patriot to break the ice by bringing it into the house, and I dare lay my life it passes.
I must beg my reader's indulgence, being the most immethodical writer imaginable. It is true I lay down a scheme, but fancy is so fertile I often start fresh hints, and cannot but pursue them; pardon therefore, kind reader, my digressive way of writing, and let the subject, not the style or method, engage thy attention.[Pg 28]
Return we, therefore, to complain of destructive gaming-houses, the bane of our youth, and ruin of our children and servants.
This is the most unprofitable evil upon earth, for it only tends to alienate the proper current of specie, to maintain a pack of idle sharping rascals, and beggar unwary gentlemen and traders.
I take the itch of gaming to be the most pernicious of vices, it is a kind of avaricious madness; and if people have not sense to command themselves by reason, they ought to be restrained by law; nor suffered to ruin themselves and families, to enrich a crew of sharpers.
There is no playing on the square with these villains; they are sure to cheat you, either by sleight of hand, confederacy, or false dice, &c.; they have so much the odds of their infatuated bubbles, that they might safely play a guinea to a shilling, and yet be sure of winning. This is but genteel pocket picking, or felony with another name, and yet, so fond are we of it, that from the footboy to the lord, all must have a touch of gaming; and there are sharpers of different stations and denominations, from Southwark-fair to the groom porters. Shame, that gentlemen should suffer every scoundrel to mix with them for gaming sake! And equal shame, that honest laborious tradesmen should be obstructed in crossing the public streets, by the gilt chariots of vagabond gamesters; who now infest the land, and brave even our nobility and gentry with their own money.
But the most barbarous part of this hellish trade is what they call setting of young gentlemen, apprentices, and others; this ought to be deemed felony without benefit of clergy; for it is the worst of thievery. Under pretence of taking a bottle, or spending an evening gaily, they draw their cull to the tavern, where they sit not long before the devil's[Pg 29] bones or books are found accidentally on purpose, by the help of which they strip my gentleman in an instant, and then generously lend him his own money, to lose afresh, and create a debt which is but too often more justly paid than those more justly due.
If we look into some late bankruptcies we shall find some noted gamesters the principal creditors; I think, in such cases it would be but justice to make void the gamester's debt, and subject his estate to make good the deficiencies of the bankrupt's effects. If traders have no more wit, the public should have pity on them; and make it as penal to lose as to win; and, in truth, if cards, dice, &c., were totally suppressed, industry and arts would increase the more; gaming may make a man crafty, but not polite; one may understand cards and dice perfectly well, and be a blockhead in everything else.
I am sorry to see it so prevalent in the city among the trading part of mankind, who have introduced it into their clubs, and play so high of late that many bankrupts have been made by this pernicious practice.
It is the bane of all conversation; and those who can't sit an hour without gaming, should never go into a club to spoil company. In a word, it is mere madness, and a most stupid thing to hazard one's fortune, and perplex one's mind; nay, to sit up whole nights, poring over toys of pipped ivory and painted pasteboard, making ourselves worse than little children, whose innocent sports we so much ridicule.
To sum up all, I think it would be a noble retribution, to subject gamesters' estates to the use and support of the poor widows and orphans of their unfortunate bubbles.
Sunday debauches are abuses that call loud for[Pg 30] amendment; it is in this pernicious soil the seeds of ruin are first sown. Instead of a day of rest, we make it a day of labour, by toiling in the devil's vineyard; and but too many surfeit themselves with the fruits of gluttony, drunkenness, and uncleanness.
Not that I am so superciliously strict, to have the sabbath kept as rigidly here as in Scotland, but then there ought to be a medium between the severity of a fast, and the riot of Saturnalia. Instead of a decent and cheerful solemnity, our taverns and publichouses have more business that day than all the week beside. Our apprentices plume themselves; nay, some scruple not to put on their swords and tie wigs, or toupees, and the loose end of the town is their rendezvous, Sunday being market-day all round the hundreds of Drury.
While we want servants to do our work, those hundreds, as they call them, are crowded with numbers of idle impudent sluts, who love sporting more than spinning, and inveigle our youth to their ruin; nay, many old lechers, beasts as they are! steal from their families, and seek these harlots' lurking holes, to practise their unaccountable schemes of new invented lewdnesses; some half hang themselves, others are whipped, some lie under a table and gnaw the bones that are thrown them, while others stand slaving among a parcel of drabs at a washing tub. Strange that the inclination should not die with the power, but that old fools should make themselves the prey and ridicule of a pack of strumpets!
Some heedless youths are wheedled into marriage, which makes them and their unhappy parents miserable all their lives; others are drawn into extravagancies, and but too often run into their master's cash, and for fear of a discovery, make away with themselves, or at least run away and leave their[Pg 31] distracted parents in a thousand tears; not to mention the frustration of their fortune, and the miseries that attend a vagabond life. Thus honest parents lose their children, and traders their apprentices, and all from a liberty we have of late given our youth of rambling abroad on Sundays; for many, nowadays will lie out all night, or stay out so late to give no small disturbance in sober families. It therefore behoves every master of a family to have his servants under his eye; and if the going to church, meeting, or whatever place of worship suited their religion, were more enforced, it would be so much the better.
In short, the luxury of the age will be the ruin of the nation, if not prevented. We leave trade to game in stocks; we live above ourselves, and barter our ready money for trifles; tea and wine are all we seem anxious for, and God has given the blessings of life to an ungrateful people, who despise their own productions. Our very plough-fellows drink wine nowadays; our farmers, graziers, and butchers, are above malt liquors; and the wholesome breakfast of water-gruel and milk potage is changed for coffee and tea. This is the reason provisions and corn, &c., are so dear; we all work for vintners, and raise our prices one upon another to such a degree, it will be an impossibility to live, and we shall, of course, become our own devourers.
We strain at a gnat and swallow a camel; and, in this instance, the publichouses are kept open to furnish our luxury, while we deny ourselves other necessaries of life, out of a scruple of conscience. For example; in extreme hot weather, when meat will not keep from Saturday to Sunday, we throw, or cause to be thrown away, vast quantities of tainted meat, and have generally stinking dinners, because the butchers dare not sell a joint of meat on a Sunday[Pg 32] morning. Now, though I would not have the Sabbath so far violated as to have it a market-day, yet, rather than abuse God's mercies by throwing away creatures given for our use, nay, for our own healths and cleanliness sake, I would have the same indulgence in extreme hot weather, as there is for milk and mackerel; that is to say, that meat might be killed in the cool of the morning, viz., one or two of the clock, and sold till nine, and no longer; nor should villanous informers have power to molest them in this innocent and reasonable amendment of a ridiculous vulgar error.
I cannot forbear taking notice of the extravagant use, or rather abuse, of that nauseous liquor called Geneva, among our lower sort. Those who deny that an inferior class of people are most necessary in a body politic, contradict reason and experience itself, since they are most useful when industrious, and as pernicious when lazy. By their industry our manufactures, trade, and commerce are carried on; the merchant in his counting-house, and the captain in his cabin, would find but little employment were it not that many hands carried on the different branches of the concern they superintended.
But now, so far are our common people infatuated with Geneva, that half the work is not done now as formerly. It debilitates and enervates them, and they are not near so strong and healthy as formerly. This accursed liquor is in itself so diuretic, it overstrains the parts of generation, and makes our common people incapable of getting such lusty children as they used to do. Add to this, that the women, by drinking it, spoil their milk, and by giving it to young children, as they foolishly do, spoil the stomach, and hinder digestion; so that in less than an age, we may expect a fine spindle-shanked generation.[Pg 33]
There is not in nature so unhealthy a liquor as Geneva, especially as commonly sold; it curdles the blood, it stupefies the senses, it weakens the nerves, it spoils the eyesight, and entirely ruins the stomach; nay, some stomachs have been rendered so cold by the use of Geneva, that lamp spirits have not been a dram warm enough for them. Surely they will come to drink aquafortis at last!
On the contrary, our own malt liquors, especially common draught beer, is most wholesome and nourishing, and has brought up better generations than the present: it is strengthening, cooling, and balsamic; it helps digestion, and carries nourishment with it; and, in spite of the whims of some physicians, is most pertinent to a human, especially a good wholesome English, constitution. Nay, the honest part of the faculty deny not the use of small beer, well brewed, even in fevers. I, myself, have found great benefit by it; and if it be good in its kind, it is the finest jalap upon earth.
If this abuse of Geneva be not stopped, we may go whoop for husbandmen, labourers, &c. Trade must consequently stand still, and the credit of the nation sink; nor is the abatement of the excise, though very considerable, and most worthy notice, any ways comparable to the corruption of manners, the destruction of health, and all the train of evils we are threatened with from pernicious Geneva.
An effectual method to prevent street robberies.
The principal encouragements and opportunity given to street robbers is, that our streets are so poorly watched; the watchmen, for the most part, being decrepit, superannuated wretches, with one foot in the grave and the other ready to follow; so[Pg 34] feeble that a puff of breath can blow them down. Poor crazy mortals! much fitter for an almshouse than a watchhouse. A city watched and guarded by such animals is wretchedly watched indeed.
Nay, so little terror do our watchmen carry with them, that hardy thieves make a mere jest of them, and sometimes oblige even the very watchman who should apprehend them to light them in their roguery. And what can a poor creature do, in terror of his life, surrounded by a pack of ruffians, and no assistance near?
Add to this, that our rogues are grown more wicked than ever, and vice in all kinds is so much winked at, that robbery is accounted a petty crime. We take pains to puff them up in their villany, and thieves are set out in so amiable a light in the Beggar's Opera, that it has taught them to value themselves on their profession rather than be ashamed of it.
There was some cessation of street robberies, from the time of Bunworth and Blewitt's execution, until the introduction of this pious opera. Now we find the Cartouchian villanies revived, and London, that used to be the most safe and peaceful city in the universe, is now a scene of rapine and danger. If some of Cartouch's gang be not come over to instruct our thieves, and propagate their schemes, we have, doubtless, a Cartouch of our own, and a gang which, if not suppressed, may be full as pernicious as ever Cartouch's was, and London will be as dangerous as Paris, if due care be not taken.
We ought to begin our endeavours to suppress these villanies, first by heavenly, and then by earthly means.
By heavenly means, in enforcing and encouraging a reformation of manners, by suppressing of vice and immorality, and punishing profaneness and[Pg 35] licentiousness. Our youth are corrupted by filthy, lewd ballads, sung and sold publicly in our streets; nay, unlicensed and unstamped, notwithstanding acts of parliament to the contrary.
Coachmen, carmen, &c., are indulged in swearing after the most blasphemous, shocking, and unaccountable rate that ever was known. New oaths and blasphemies are daily uttered and invented; and rather than not exercise this hellish talent, they will vent their curses on their very horses; and, oh stupid! damn the blood of a post, rather than want something to curse.
Our common women, too, have learned this vice; and not only strumpets, but labouring women, who keep our markets, and vend things about street, swear and curse at a most hideous rate. Their children learn it from their parents, and those of the middle, or even the better sort of people, if they pass through the streets to school, or to play, catch the infection, and carry home such words as must consequently be very shocking to sober parents.
Our youth, in general, have too much liberty; the Sabbath is not kept with due solemnity; masters and mistresses of families are too remiss in the care of the souls committed to their charge. Family prayer is neglected; and, to the shame of scoffers be it spoken, too much ridiculed. All ages and sexes, if in health, should be obliged to attend public worship, according to their respective opinions. Were it only to keep youth out of harm's way it would do well. But it is to be hoped, if their parents, masters, or mistresses, should oblige their attendance at public devotion, they would edify by what they should hear, and many wicked acts would be stifled in their infancy, and checked even in the intention, by good and useful doctrine.
Our common people make it a day of debauch,[Pg 36] and get so drunk on a Sunday they cannot work for a day or two following. Nay, since the use of Geneva has become so common, many get so often drunk they cannot work at all, but run from one irregularity to another, till at last they become arrant rogues. And this is the foundation of all our present complaints.
We will suppose a man able to maintain himself and family by his trade, and at the same time to be a Geneva drinker. This fellow first makes himself incapable of working by being continually drunk; this runs him behindhand, and he either pawns or neglects his work, for which reason nobody will employ him. At last, fear of arrests, his own hunger, the cries of his family for bread, his natural desire to support an irregular life, and a propense hatred to labour, turn but too many an honest tradesman into an arrant desperate rogue. And these are commonly the means that furnish us with thieves and villains in general.
Thus is a man, that might be useful in a body politic, rendered obnoxious to the same: and if this trade of wickedness goes on, they will grow and increase upon us, insomuch that we shall not dare to stir out of our habitations; nay, it will be well if they arrive not to the impudence of plundering our houses at noonday.
Where is the courage of the English nation, that a gentleman, with six or seven servants, shall be robbed by one single highwayman? Yet we have lately had instances of this; and for this we may thank our effeminacy, our toupee wigs, and powdered pates, our tea, and other scandalous fopperies; and, above all, the disuse of noble and manly sports, so necessary to a brave people, once in vogue, but now totally lost among us.
Let not the reader think I run from my subject[Pg 37] if I search the bottom of the distemper before I propose a cure, which having done, though indeed but slightly, for this is an argument could be carried to a much greater length, I proceed next to propose earthly means in the manner following.
Let the watch be composed of stout able-bodied men, and of those at least treble the number now subsisting, that is to say, a watchman to every forty houses, twenty on one side of the way, and twenty on the other; for it is observable that a man cannot well see distinctly beyond the extent of twenty houses in a row; if it is a single row, and no opposite houses, the charge must be greater and their safety less. This man should be elected and paid by the housekeepers themselves, to prevent misapplication and abuse, so much complained of in the distribution of public money.
He should be allowed ten shillings per annum by each housekeeper, which at forty houses, as above specified, amounts to 20l. per annum, almost treble to what is at present allowed; and yet most housekeepers are charged at least 2s. 6d. a quarter to the watch, whose beat is, generally speaking, little less than the compass of half a mile.
This salary is something of encouragement, and a pretty settlement to a poor man, who with frugality may live decently thereon, and by due rest be enabled to give vigilant attendance.
If a housekeeper break, or a house is empty, the poor watchman ought not to suffer, the deficiency should be made up by the housekeepers remaining.
Or, indeed, all housekeepers might be excused, if a tax of only one shilling per annum were levied on every bachelor within the bills of mortality, and above the age of one-and-twenty, who is not a housekeeper: for these young sparks are a kind of unprofitable gentry to the state; they claim public[Pg 38] safety and advantages, and yet pay nothing to the public; nay, indeed, they in a manner live upon the public, for (on a Sunday especially) at least a million of these gentlemen quarter themselves upon the married men, and rob many families of part of a week's provision, more particularly when they play a good knife and fork, and are of the family of the Tuckers.
I beg pardon for this whimsical proposal, which, ludicrous as it seems, has something in it; and may be improved. Return we, in the mean time, to our subject.
The watch thus stationed, strengthened, and encouraged, let every watchman be armed with firearms and sword; and let no watchman stand above twenty doors distant from his fellow.
Let each watchman be provided with a bugle-horn, to sound an alarm, or in time of danger; and let it be made penal, if not felony, for any but a watchman to sound a horn in and about the city, from the time of their going on, to that of their going off.
An objection will be here made on account of the postboys, to obviate which, I had thoughts of a bell, but that would be too ponderous and troublesome for a watchman to carry, besides his arms and lantern. As to a fixed bell, if the watchman is at another part of his walk, how can he give notice? Besides, rogues may play tricks with the bell; whereas a horn is portable, always ready, and most alarming.
Let the postboys therefore use some other signal, since this is most convenient to this more material purpose. They may carry a bell in a holster with ease, and give notice by that, as well as those who collect the letters.
That the watchmen may see from one end of[Pg 39] their walks to the other, let a convenient number of lamps be set up, and those not of the convex kind, which blind the eyes, and are of no manner of use; they dazzle, but give no distinct light: and further, rather than prevent robberies, many, deceived and blinded by these ignes fatui, have been run over by coaches, carts, &c. People stumble more upon one another, even under these very lamps, than in the dark. In short, they are most unprofitable lights, and in my opinion, rather abuses than benefits.
Besides, I see no reason why every ten housekeepers cannot find a lamp among themselves, and let their watchman dress it, rather than fatten a crew of directors; but we are so fond of companies, it is a wonder we have not our shoes blacked by one, and a set of directors made rich at the expense of our very black-guards. Convenient turnpikes and stoppages may be made to prevent escapes, and it will be proper for a watchman to be placed at one of these, fixed at the end of a lane, court, alley, or other thoroughfare, which may happen in any part of his beat, and so as not to obstruct his view to both ends thereof, or being able to give notice, as aforesaid; for the watch ought to be in view, as well as in the hearing of each other, or they may be overpowered, and much danger may happen.
The streets thus guarded and illuminated, what remains but that the money allotted by the government be instantly paid on conviction of every offender; for delays in this case are of dangerous consequence, and nobody will venture their lives in hopes of a reward, if it be not duly and timely paid. If there is reason of complaint on this head, it ought to be looked into by those at the helm; for nothing can be more vile than for underlings to abuse the[Pg 40] benevolence of the public, or their superiors, by sinking, abridging, or delaying public or private benefits. And it is by no means below the dignity or care, even of the greatest, to see the disposal of their own bounty and charity; for it loses but too often by the carriage: and where a nobleman or other generous person has ordered five guineas to be given, it is well if the proper object has had even one.
Something allowed by the Chamber of London to every person apprehending a robber, would have a good effect, especially if it be not told over a gridiron, but paid without delay or abatement. And what if the fewer custards are eat, so it augment the public safety.
Some of our common soldiery are, and I hope unjustly, suspected. This may be easily confuted, if strict orders are enforced, that none but commission or warrant officers shall be out of their quarters after ten at night. But if we consider, that neither Blewit, Bunworth, or their gangs, were soldiers, and that of those who have been executed for ten years past, not one in ten were soldiers, but, on the contrary, seamen discharged and thrown on the public without present subsistence, which makes them desperate; but I hope the act now depending for the encouragement of seamen, &c., will sufficiently remove that obstacle also. This, I hope, will stop the mouths of censorious persons, who unjustly arraign our soldiery for the vices of others. However, to make all easy, I believe the generality of them will gladly submit to the restraint proposed, merely to show their innocence.
Mean time, would his most sacred majesty let them partake of his bounty, as the officers, &c., have done, and raise their pay, were it but one[Pg 41] penny per diem, it would be a most royal bounty, would considerably contribute to their support, and put them above any sordid views: and there was never more occasion than now, when provisions of all kinds are so excessive dear.
Having offered my little mite to the public, I beg they will excuse the deficiency of my style, and multitude of my errors, for my intention's sake. I write without prospect of gain; if I am censured, it is what I can but expect; but if among all my schemes one proves of service, my desires and labours are amply answered.
In my scheme for an university in London I proposed only a hall or public room; on recollection I find it should be a large house or inn, in the nature of a college, with store of convenient rooms for gentlemen, not only to study separately, but wherein to lodge their books, for it would be most inconvenient to lug them backwards and forwards. They may indeed breakfast, sup, and sleep at home, but it will be highly necessary they should dine in commons, or at least near the college; not that I would have cooks, butlers, caterers, manciples, and the whole train of college cannibals retained; but for fear they should stay too long at home, or be hindered from returning to study in due time, some proper place or person might be pitched upon to keep an ordinary, at a prefixed price and hour, and for the students only.
My reasons are these:—
First, A young gentleman may live too far from college.[Pg 42]
Second, The college hours for dinner may not agree with those of the family.
Third, Company may drop in and detain him.
These being, I think, the only material objections could be offered, I hope I have amply provided against them, and rendered my project more perfect and unexceptionable.
One omission I made in the discourse on madhouses, &c., is, that maiden ladies as well as widows and wives are liable to the inquisition there complained of, and I am informed a good estate is lately come to a worthless family by the death, or rather murder, of an innocent young creature, who being left very rich, chose to live with her friends; but well had it been for her had she taken up her abode among strangers, for they staved off all proposals for marriage a considerable time, and when at last they found the lady would not be hindered from altering her condition, she was hurried away to a madhouse, where she miserably ended her days, while they rioted in the pillage of her fortune. Thus neither maid, wife, or widow, are safe while these accursed madhouses are suffered; nay, I see no reason, if the age improves in wickedness, as in all probability it may, but the men, per contra, may take their turns. Younger brothers, &c., may clap up their elders, and jump into their estates, for there are no questions asked at these madhouses, but who is the paymaster, and how much; give them but their price, mad or not mad, it is no matter whom they confine; so that if any person lives longer than his relations think convenient, they know their remedy; it is but sending them to a madhouse and the estate is their own.[Pg 43]
Having answered all that I think liable to objection, and recollected what I had omitted, I desire to stand or fall by the judgment of the serious part of mankind; wherein they shall correct me I will kiss the rod and suffer with patience; but if a pack of hackney scribblers shall attack me only by way of a get-penny, I shall not be provoked to answer them, be they never so scurrilous, lest I be accounted as one of them.[Pg 44]
I shall congratulate you on your election into the chamberlainship of the city of London, or otherwise, as you shall acquit yourself in answering candidly and impartially to the following queries.
I. whether there is not money sufficient in the chamber of London to pay off the orphan's fund? Or if not a sufficient sum, what sum it is, and what is the deficiency? How long it has lain there, and what interest has been made upon it?
II. If there are not considerable arrears due from many wards, and what those arrears are?
III. Who are these poor orphans we pay so much money to? and whether they are not some of the richest men in the city of London, who have got the stock into their own hands, and find it so snug a fund they do not care to get out of it.
IV. If it would not be much better to gather in the arrears, join them to the money in the office, and collect the overplus at once, rather than suffer the tax to become eternal, and to pay so much interest.
This is but a reasonable request; and if colonel Robinson is the honest gentleman fame reports him to be, he will make no scruple to give a ready answer. And indeed it will be but a handsome return made to his fellow citizens for their choice of[Pg 45] him, to begin his office with such an act of justice, honesty, and public satisfaction, for many people do not know what is meant by the orphan's tax; they pay it with remorse, and think themselves aggrieved. Even those who know the reason of the fund think it has been continued long enough, wish it were once paid off, suspect some secret in the affair, and give their tongues the liberty all losers claim; Our fathers, say they, have eaten sour grapes, and our teeth are set on edge, we are visited for their transgressions, and may be to the world's end, unless we shall find an honest chamberlain who will unveil this cloudy affair, and gives us a prospect of relief.
Thus, sir, it lies at your door to gain the applause of the whole city, a few misers excepted, by a generous and gentlemanlike discovery of this affair. And you are thus publicly called upon, that your discovery may be as public and beneficial to all. If you comply, I shall think you an honest man, above a fellow feeling, or being biassed, and most worthy your office; if not, give me leave to think, the citizens of London have made but an indifferent choice.
Yours, as you prove yourself,
The transcriber made these changes to the text to correct obvious errors:
p. 16, Christain --> Christian p. 26, coachmam --> coachman p. 35, nothwithstanding --> notwithstanding p. 38, sound on alarm --> sound an alarm p. 38, cary --> carry
***END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK AUGUSTA TRIUMPHANS***
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