A Discourse of the Necessity of Encouraging Mechanick Industry
NECESSITY of ENCOURAGING
Wherein is plainly proved
That luxury and the want of Artisans Labour became the ruin of the four Grand Monarchies of the World in the Former Age, and of Spain and other Countries in This : and the Promoting of manual Trades the rise of the Dutch, Germans, &c. :
Parallel'd and compared with, and shewn to be practicable under the present Constitution of England.
LICENS'D Aug. 23d. 1689
Printed for R. Chiswell, at the Rose and Crown in St. Paul's Church Yard. MDCXC.
PUBLISHED FOR R. Chiswell
SO visibly is this Kingdom degenerated from the great Atchievements of Vertueand Industry, into all the soft Indulgences of Sloth, and of an effeminate and luxurious course of Life (the former the Dignity, and Preservation, the latter the Reproach and Ruine of a State) as makes it a Work of as great Seasonableness as necessity, to endeavour a Recommendation of such laborious Improvements, as may, in some measure, regain to us that high Reputation and Esteem in the World, which was justly due to the industrious management of our careful and active Predecessors, and which our present Idlenessand too apparent a neglect of Mechanical, and other, Employments, has either incurred a Forfeitureof, or at least can pretend no good Titleunto. The nature of this Subject, chiefly relating to matters of Tradeand Business, seems not to require any great Art of Rhetorick, or accuracy of Expression in the Composure; and so comes not with those Ornaments and Embellishments of Oratory, and of a correct and eloquent Style, which are due to more learned and refined Discourses. 'Twill (I presume) be satisfactory to the judicious Reader, and to Men of Action, if they find any thing of Weight, and substance in it, that may be of Force to evince; and perswade them, of the reasonableness of what it proposes, and that what is here offered for the promoting of Mechanicaland other Arts, is neither impracticable, unnecessary, nor yet unseasonablein the present Juncture of Affairs, and this Age of declension from Labourand Industry: But on the contrary, will (if pursu'd) derive publick Advantages upon the State, as well as tend to the Preservation and Advancement of private and individual interests, which from [Page]the Methods laid down in this small Tract, we find to have already accrued to other well-governed Commonwealths, in a due and regular Exercise and Incouragement of Arts and Occupations of all sorts. This being the principal Aim and Scope of the following Discourse, will not (I hope) upon its perusal appear altogether void of, or defective in its Design; which to enforce by prevalent, if not, cogent Instances and Inducements; I have attempted to give the Reader a succinct View, or an Abridgment of those National Mischiefs and Calamities; and these the most remarkable, both in Antient and Modern Governments, which have been entailed upon Luxuryand Idleness, how they consumed the very Vitals, and became destructive of the four great Monarchiesof the World, the Assyrian, Persian, Graecianand Roman: How several Countries in this Age lie wasted and depopulated; some from an high and flourishing, descending to a most indigent and contemptible Estate; others remaining a sterile and uncultivated Chaos, stocked with a sort of rational Brutes(pardon the illogicalExpression) which have nothing but human Shape to denominate themselves Men; and the source of all this bestial Inhumanity or barbarous Rudeness, is the want of Artsand Labouramong them. On the other Hand, I have shewn you the prodigious Rise of other places, from an abject to a very wealthy and honourable Condition, effected by means of their great Industry; and in fine, have parallel'd both, in an applicatory Relation to our present Constitution and Government, as well demonstrating how our luxurious Ease and Plenty, and the discountenancing of Labour among us, threaten an Introduction of that Ruin, which has attended other Nations, that sunk into Voluptuousness and Sloth; as prescribing of other Kingdoms as Patternsof our imitation, who are famed for their Industry, will in Consequence, confer upon us proportionable Emoluments and Advantages.
Of the NECESSITY of
Mechanick Industry, &c.
THat which the Great Jehovah justly inflicted upon Adam, as a Punishment due to his violation of, and apostasie from his original and pristine estate of Innocency, In the Sweat of thy Face shalt thou eat Bread] was in the days of Solomon turn'd from a Curse into a Blessing: For, this being pronounc'd by God to Adam, as well in the nature of a Command (obliging him and his Posterity, then in his Loins, to a laborious course of life for the future) as by way of a just Judgment upon him for his voluntary defection; did consequently derive many secular felicities and enjoyments upon such as lived in obedience and conformity thereunto. The Golden Age, or rather that momentany state of Integrity, (not so in its own nature, but of Man's continuance in it) was indeed exempt from all painful Anxiety or laborious Toil. Nature, as a plentiful Store-house, furnish'd every [Page 2] living Creature with proper and distinct Provisions, without any Cultivation or Improvement, Art or Industry; the whole Universe abounded with plenty of its own production, and seem'd, like a Tree overcharg'd with Fruit, to bow down to Adam, that so he might easily, and without any trouble, pluck of all sorts, except that of the forbidden, which tho' but one, must needs be tasted by his extravagantly-delicate Palate, which sowred and imbitter'd all the pleasing sweetness of the rest; and those things which he had so freely fed upon before, must now be eaten with sorrow all the days of his Life.
Man thus wilfully descending into a laps'd condition, from his free and happy estate in Paradise, the whole World, and all the creatures in it, (as a Curse appendent to his Fall) by the immediate designation of Divine Providence, became degenerated from their admirable subserviency, and usefulness, so fitly accommodated to the conveniency of Mankind in their first Institution. That which had of it self brought forth Fruits, and variety of Herbs, fit for the use of Man, must now be cumber'd with Thorns and Thistles: Nature is now so far declin'd from her first estate, that Art and Industry are indispensably requir'd to preserve her from Ruin; and the Breach made by the Fall of Adam, must either be repair'd by humane diligence, or else she will sink under her own weight, and return (at least by gradual approaches) to her primitive Chaos and Confusion. This being then the state of Affairs under the Fall, so different from, and inferiour to that of Original Innocence, which naturally flow'd with an abundant affluence of all worldly Blessings and Enjoyments, and which seem'd like so many Corrivals equally contending which should first court Man's acceptance, and invite him to solace himself with them, rather than require a laborious search, or indefatigable toil, in their pursuit. It remains then, That whoever would under [Page 3] this laps'd Oeconomy and degenerated Government of the World, arrive to any tolerable degree of felicity in it, or to a participation of the Divine Favours, and still bountiful Provisions of Soveraign Providence; that the way to compass these naturally desired Accommodations, is, by Labour and Industry; by a diligent pursuit, and an industrious management in the World. For, since the State of Original Purity soon expir'd, and that pains and toil is not only the Curse, but Condition of the laps'd, which God has appointed us to make use of, if we would taste of the Comforts and Emoluments of humane Life: it is plain then, that it is as well a Duty prescrib'd them from God, as the most conducive Expedient for mens Interest and Advantage, to apply themselves with vigilance to their respective Vocations and Capacities. And this is an undeniable Truth, not only capable of illustration from several Instances in the infant days of the World, which may be derived from the Patriarchs, whose Labour and Industry were the marks of their Honour and Dignity; but is also evident from the Gentile Kings in this Case: as for instance, The King of Moab, who was a Sheepmaster. And however the Mechanick and Rural Employments are now (by the vanity of the Age) become contemptible; yet we find, that he that was the most competent Judge of these matters, made choice of two of the first Kings of his People out of such. And we do not read, That Royalty in them put a period to the Employments of the Fathers, so as not to descend to their Children. On the contrary, we read, That Absolom had his Sheep-shearers and his Corn Fields in his own management; as appears by remarkable instances. But now the prodigious growth of the World, as well in Impiety as in Mankind, is arriv'd to that height, that Nimrods are rather chose than Davids, and Government opprest with a greater burthen of Labour and Toil, than that which is annex'd to the Plough.
Seeing then that even the Throne is not exempt from Labour, and consequently he that sits upon it not divested from Care and Anxiety; it seems but reasonable, that there be an exact Harmony and Consort betwixt the Prince and the Subject, and that every String in the grand Instrument of the World should be wound up to its height, that so there might be no jarrs. In order whereunto, it shall be my work to shew, That tho' it is impossible to bring men to conformity in all points of Labour and Industry, yet that 'tis extream easie to effect such a Reformation, as might free this Kingdom from that load and oppression of useless men, under which it labours so much at present; and yet not part with them, but rather take such methods, whereby every individual person may become a profitable Member to the whole Community. For, tho' this Kingdom is plentifully stock'd with too many Persons, who are addicted to Idleness and Sloth; yet has it too few mouths in general, and cannot be accounted above one third Peopled, if compared with other parts of the Universe.
And therefore, in this Discourse, I shall First shew the Mischiefs that attend those Countries, where Men are suffer'd to live without honest Employments.
And in the Second place, shall particularize some Instances, setting forth, how men are oblig'd to Employments in some Kingdoms, and the good effects which result from that Engagement.
And in the Third place, shall demonstrate with what good success the same might be effected in this Nation.
In reference to the first of these Particulars; If we consult History, whether ancient or modern, we shall undoubtedly there find, that Idleness has, in all Ages, been the Nurse and Parent of Voluptuousness and Effeminacy, [Page 5] which gradually encreasing in proportion to a constant diminution of Labour and Industry, finally brought in irreversible destruction upon such Countries, where they gain'd the ascendant, and did predominate.
Of this, the Monarchy of the Assyrians is a pregnant and remarkable instance, who degenerating from those masculine and great Atchievements (which first gave the rise to their Universal Greatness) into a libidinous and an intemperate course of life, became an easie Prey to Cyrus the Great.
And thus it hapned to the Persian Monarchy, which being over run with Ease, Luxury, and Riot, with soft and effeminate Delights, and wanton Pleasures, withall manner of Delicacy and Licentiousness, seem'd to the Great Alexander rather like Beasts fitted for the slaughter, than for use and labour, and gave his Warlike Macedonians more trouble to disrobe them of that Pageantry and sumptuous Apparel which, like so many Theatrical Grandees, they came vainly adorn'd with to Battel; than they found in obtaining of an easie Conquest over those pusillanimous and gaudy Persians, who scarce gave any opposition.
But then, how quickly do we find the Scene chang'd in this mighty Conqueror, who no sooner began to consult his pleasures, and to foster up himself in idleness and immoderate excess, but this very man (who had been the terror of the Universe) becomes a Scorn and Contempt to his own Souldiers. Whilst he pursu'd the Macedonian strictness and followed the genius of his native Country in a warlike Industry, so long they adored him as a God: but when he began to wear the effeminate habit of the Persians, and to accustom himself to their Vices, even his greatest Favourites hardly accounted him a Man; whose Debauchery and Intemperance soon put a period to the Life of that illustrious Prince, and to the Macedonian Empire, [Page 6] which otherwise might have been of a lasting duration and continuance.
The like ill destiny attended the Roman Monarchy, when the Turks (who had been constantly inur'd to hardship and perpetual Toil) found the others a People uneasie with their Plenty, and so burthen'd with their time, that 'twas difficult to find waies enough how to spend it.
And, 'twas (doubtless) foreseen by that grand Impostor Mahomet, that Idleness and Luxury would, if indulg'd, so gradually enervate that mighty Empire, as soon to bring it to destruction; for the prevention whereof, like a subtle Legislator, he enjoin'd it for a Law, which even their very Emperors were not to be exempted from; namely, to eat no more than the Labour of his Hands could purchase every day. 'Twould be an infinite undertaking to enumerate the several Miseries which at this day attend upon those People, who are denied the benefit of Arts and Labour. How do the wild Arabs live, and associate with their Herds? from whom, besides the erectness of their stature, no other mark of distinction is so visible upon them, as that they are the more careful Beasts in providing for their Companions.
We may see in another shape the desolate Americans; those of them especially who inhabit the Northern parts, where the Men account it a degradation to their Sex, to expose themselves to any Pains for the Food they eat; but believe it to be a Duty incumbent upon the Women, to make provision for such as they bring into the World. And this Brutish Sloth and Stupidity is attended with as signal and extraordinary a Judgment; for notwithstanding that, the Country, as to healthfulness and other conveniencies of humane life, is inferiour to none in Europe; and besides that, Polygamy is allowed and practis'd amongst them; and, that they will no longer retain any [Page 7] Woman whom they find to be barren or unfruitful; yet are they so few and inconsiderable in number, as by a reasonable computation, might be thought not to be the Progeny of one Family, in less than an Hundred years.
But to come nearer home, we find the Irish, by the account given us in their own Histories, written in their Mother Tongue, to have been the most miserable People in the Universe, when the English first arrived amongst them. And, That then, altho' they lived promiscuously, as to the use of Women, yet the Souls of that Kingdom were not so numerous, upon the English first reduction of them, as they afterwards were, in the Reign of K. James the First, notwithstanding that their frequent and reiterated Rebellions had, by a whole Series of War & Slaughter for some Ages, consum'd a vast, or rather incredible, multitude of People amongst them. The Reasons which they assign for a Solution of this seeming Paradox, are two: First, they say, That before the English Conquest they lived in great Idleness and Sloth, having neither Arts nor any thing of labour amongst them; which put them upon a necessity of committing of what Rapin and Spoil they could, and continually to rob and prey upon one another; for, another man's Herds being more numerous than his Neighbours, seem'd just grounds to him of making War with him; and so mutually cruel and barbarous they were upon such occasions, that 'tis observed in all their Poems (for such they had amongst them) that there is not to be found one of Mirth; nor to this day have they any Musical Note or Tune (tho' they afford some variety) which is not melancholy and doleful. The Second Reason they give for their being more numerous now than in former Ages, is, That the English Laws and Government having introduc'd Arts and Labour amongst them, they now, by vertue of their own Industry, make provision for their Children, and are early in their Marriage, [Page 8] that so they may be eas'd of their Charge. And, though the maintenance which they now provide for their Children, be still very mean and contemptible, yet however it is such, as to preserve life, which in former Ages they were not able to compass. Nor were they at all sollicitous what became of the Fruit of their Lusts, which perhaps was so intermixt, as 'twas difficult to distinguish or claim a Property. And now, notwithstanding that they are bounded from these Exorbitances by the restraint of English Laws and Constitutions, which are found to be a stricter Curb and Obligation upon them than that of their Superstitious Devotion; which gives a known Latitude and Indulgence in that and other Sins; yet are they not now utterly free from, but, as 'tis said, rather frequently addicted to the same Vice.
Nor has the good Example of the English Industry been of that prevalence among such of them, as entitle themselves Gentlemen (who are very numerous in that Kingdom) to assume the most honourable and gentilest Employments relating to Trade, though at the same time they are ready to starve for want of sustenance, which they had rather beg or steal, than labour for.
This has visibly, and to a demonstration, been the ruin of that Kingdom, for that the most useful and best men amongst them either are forced to foreign Service, and so necessitated to desert their Country, or are executed for Robberies, Murthers, &c. or, which is not the least in strumental to their destruction, perish for want of conveniency and necessary Provisions; an irregular Life bringing Distempers upon them, that shortens their daies; for, it is a common observation, That among the many Thousands that live, as they call it, by coshering, there is rarely seen an old man.
Whereas had the Irish been industrious, and had been educated to Arts and Labour, they had kept out those [Page 9] Numbers of Mechanicks that went from England into that Kingdom; and by that means might have been Masters of their own Country, notwithstanding their Subjection to England; I mean they might have been Masters, in this Sense, so as to have had the Command of Trade and Business. But Divine Providence saw it not fit to put Opportunity into their Hands, as that would have done, whereby to capacitate them to act greater Barbarities by their Numbers: Whereas both now and in the former Rebellion, they have, for their own Service, preserved abundance of Artizans of all sorts, without whom they could not subsist, which otherwise had felt the unsupportable effects of their bloody and inhuman Cruelties. But having now done with these Excrescencies of Spain, from whence they pretend to have originally sprung; let us see how those which they lay claim to for their Ancestours, have throve in their Aversion to Industry.
If we descend to a particular view of the State of that Kingdom, in all its Respects and Circumstances, it may reasonably be accounted a Prodigy in Nature: And as by a vulgar Mistake, some term a Defect in Nature to be a monstrous Production; we may more rationally affirm, That Spain hath made it self so by Sloth.
Take it in the Conveniency of its Situation, Fertility of Soil, in the Advantages of its Rich Mines in the Indies, (which if rightly mannaged would be so) and it might be reasonably accounted almost an absolute Impossibility, to be reduced to that extreme Poverty an Scarcity of Men, wherein it now stands.
I know the Causes assigned are the banishing the Moors, and their Numbers buried in the West-Indies; but it is plain that that is not the sole occasion of the aforesaid publick Inconvenience: for were there Arts and Employments encouraged in their Country, as one [Page 10] Set went out at the Southern Door, another would come in at the Northern, and Europe would supply their Loss in America.
It were easie to shew, How with their own Wool, and such of courser sorts, their Neighbours abound with, they might with their own Manufactories furnish their West Indies, by which means their Bullion would be their own; which now they are no better than Christian Slaves to provide for Europe.
Besides, if they had Manufactories, they would fill their Country with People, and not put them upon a Consult, as they had in the year 1649, Whether the Court should not remove for the Indies, not having People to keep both.
Add to this, That the want of Employment in Spain, occasions those frequent Acts of Violence, which are committed in that Kingdom; for tho' it is so thinly peopled in some Parts, that there are scarce Men enough to entitle it to the Name of a Country inhabited; yet are there great numbers of Bandittoes to ravage upon the few that are there.
Thus we see the dismal Effects of Idleness in Spain, which has been of that mischievous and almost fatal Consequence, as to bring that Kingdom upon the very brink of Ruine; which had before this been devoured by the French, had not their other large and industrious Dominions preserved them.
Having thus taken a succinct and transient View of the ill Estate of those Kingdoms and People, which are destitute of Arts and Labour; let us in the second Place, according to our former Method, particularize some Instances, setting forth how Men are obliged to Employments in some Kingdoms, and the good Effects which result from that Engagement.
In pursuance whereof, I shall begin with Germany, where we shall find a People inferiour to none in their just veneration to Antiquity, and due estimate of Noble Blood that is truly derived from virtuous and honourable Progenitors, which they set so high a Value upon, as that even to Excess they despise mixing with the Plebeians; and yet among these great Nobility, the younger of whose Families are employed in their Armies, rarely is there found one of them without a Manual Art; by which, if reduced to Extremity, he may earn his Bread, rather than live upon the Charity and Benevolence of others, a sordidness of Temper which they bear an utter Abhorrence and Detestation to, having too much of that Roman Spirit, which had rather lose a Life, than hold it at the Courtesie of another.
And this recals into my Memory a Story, which for its pertinent congruity to the present Discourse may not be improper to relate: There was about the year 1615 a Nobleman in Germany, whose Daughter was courted by another Lord, who was a very young Man; when he had made such Progress in this Affair, as is usual by Friends, the old Lord desired to speak with him, and, after some Conference together, asked the young Nobleman, How he intended, if he should marry his Daughter, to maintain her? He replied, Equal to her Quality. To which the Father returned, That was no Answer to his Question; he desired to know, What he had to maintain her with? To that the younger Lord replyed, He hoped, that was no Question, for that his Inheritance was as publick as his Name. The old Lord owned his Possessions to be great, but asked him if he had nothing that was securer than Land. The question was strange, but ended in this, That the Father of the young Lady gave his positive Resolve, Never to marry his Daughter, though his Heir, and would have two such [Page 12] great Estates, but unto a Man that had a Manual Trade, by which he might live, if drove from his own Country. This young Lord was Master of none at present, but rather than lose his Mistress, he desired but a years Time, in which he promised to acquire one: In order whereunto he got a Basket-Maker, the most ingenious he could find, and in six Months became Master of his Trade, with greater Improvement than his Teacher; and as a Proof of his Ingenuity and great Proficiency, in so small a Time, he brought to his Mistress a Piece of his Workmanship, being a white Twig Basket; which for many years after became a general Fashion among the Ladies by the name of Dressing Baskets, brought hither to England from Germany and Holland.
But to compleat the surprizingness of this Relation, it happened some Years after this Nobleman's Marriage, that he and his Father in law sharing in the Misfortunes of the Palatinate, were drove naked out of their Estates; and in Holland, for some Years, did this young Lord maintain both his Father-in-law and his own Family, by making Baskets of white Twigs, to such an unparalell'd Excellency as none could attain: And 'tis from him that they derive those Curiosities that are still made in Holland of Twigwork.
This is large a Digression from the Matter in Hand, but the more insisted upon, because I deem it not altogether improper to my Design of shewing, How fond and ambitious Men are, in Foreign Countries, of learning Arts and Mechanical Employments, whereby to avoid Idleness, that common Pest to the Publick Good, and consequently to every private and individual Interest, as involved in the other.
From this Prospect of the Nobility and Gentry, we will now descend to a lower View of the meaner and inferior Sort, among them, whose Industry is so remarkably [Page 13] great, that even Children of four Years old will earn their Bread: Add to this, That they are kept out of Harm's Way, by the same Diversion, tho' more profitable, whereby we keep our Children in this Kingdom; and that is by making wooden Toyes, painted Boxes, Pipes, &c. for our Children to play with: There they employ all the Children of a Town from three Years to eight in those easie Matters of shaving a little Stick of Fir, or daubing a little Paint upon a Stick or Box; things of that easie nature, as may be done by a Child that can speak, and but hold a Knife, or other small Instrument in its Hand.
When they advance more in Years, 'tis then usual to pitch upon a Trade; and generally they apply themselves to that of their Fathers, whereby you shall oftentimes find 'em to derive their Pedigree and their uninterrupted Succession in the same Trade or Employment, in a continued Line from Father to Son, for some Hundreds of Years. And this Genealogy as well in Occupation as Descent, is insisted upon by them with as much Pride and Ostentation as can be shewn by their Nobility, in their continued Tracings and Derivations of themselves, from a numerous and antient Stock of their famous and heroical Progenitors.
'Tis not their Practice, as with us in this Kingdom, to bind an Apprentice for seven Years; three or four is their common Standard: and the reason is, because they are educated from their Cradle to something of Employment, which renders them the more apt and docible, and consequently the more capable of attaining to a Ripeness and quicker Proficiency in Business. Whereas our Youth, here in England, being bred to nothing before they come to be Apprentices, make a very slow Progress, and require much longer Time, wherein to reach the Perfection of accomplished Artists.
And such as are of Families not educated in Mechanical Employments, those they make use of, either in Affairs Military, or else in Studies of gentiler and finer Arts than either of these; by which admirable decorum, so regularly observed, in proportioning every Order and Degree of Men among them, to their suitable and respective Vocations and Capacities, it thence happens, That in whole Provinces there is not a Man that eats the Bread of Idleness, or of other Men's Labour and Industry.
Nay, in the Hans-towns, they still shew a greater Care and sollicitude in these Matters, not judging it expedient to admit of any more than an useful and competent number for the City, of any who profess the liberal Sciences; but, on the contrary, oblige all their Natives and Inhabitants either to Merchandize, Navigation or to Manual Arts and Manufactories; insomuch that that famous Mart of Hamburgh (to which City belong more Ships of Burthen and Value, for all manner of Trade and Commerce, than to any City of Europe, London and Amsterdam excepted) does admit but of one Physician, of two Civilians for the Law, and but one Divine, besides those which are constantly employed in the City: Yet on the contrary Hand, offer great Encouragement to Men of all Nations, to inhabit among them, that are for Mechanick Labour and Sea-Service, as accounting him but a necessary Evil, whose Industry and Parts lye only in the Brain, or bound their Situation in the Head; and one of such they deem sufficient for thousands, which work with their Hands.
By reason of which orderly management of Affairs, and the Provision made to promote Labour, and to discourage Idleness and all useless and unactive Men: It is very remarkable, That in this City no Man ever saw a Beggar: yet many aged and unfortunate Poor there are, occasioned by Losses and cross Accidents at Sea; but then [Page 15] so Christian and Charitable a Commiseration of their Condition is entertained by the Government, that in all Bargains and Contracts, in that City, something is still preserved, as a voluntary Gift for the Poor: Or if I may so say, as a free-Will Offering to God for their Supply; and this reposited in the Hands of the Minister of the Parish, who has Church-Wardens joyned to him, in order to a right Disposal of this Money for the Poor.
A Ship puts not forth to Sea, but with an Iron Box, for the use of the Poor, of which the Keeper has no Key, but is kept by the Minister and Church-Wardens, and upon the Return of his Voyage, when he receives the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, he brings to the Altar his Box, which he useth all Care to replenish and supply; and there is not a Seaman in his Ship but puts something into it, whenever he receives his Wages.
To what has been already premised, 'twould be needless to name or instance to you, the Example of the United Provinces, which are so contiguous to our Island, as well as justly famed throughout the whole Universe, for their eminent and industrious Improvements, and for such superadditions of Art to Nature, or rather of such as Nature seemed not capable of; and which have been of more use to them than all their Martial Strength, for the Defence of their Country against their Enemies, and have advanced them from the poor distressed, to the honourable Title of the High and Mighty Estates of Holland: And that formerly useless, and now little Spot of Ground, become the richest in Europe] is a most evident Demonstration of the miraculous Power of Industry, and of those prodigious Acquirements which Human Nature is capable of attaining to, by a laborious and an indefatigable Pursuit; which as it has created a general Esteem for these States throughout the whole World; so has reflected no small Disgrace upon [Page 16] their Neighbours, whilst enjoying fertile and profitable Countries, both in their Situation and other abundant National Advantages and Emoluments, far superior to this, they suffer their Lands to lie waste and uncultivated, and neglect all the Opportunities both of Art and Nature, whereby to enrich and improve them; when on the contrary, these are forced to change the very Elements, having more living upon the Water than they have upon the Land; which is so plentifully stocked, that it admits of no more.
If from this little Spot of Ground we pass farther into the Country, it will be worth our while to consider, What Care and Diligence is used by the Government to oblige the Rural unto Works, for the Publick Good.
In Flanders they admit not a young Man to enter into the State of Marriage, without first obtaining a Certificate from the Magistrate of the Place of his Residence and abode, setting forth, His having planted such a number of Trees, &c. I might demonstrate the Truth of this Point to you, from a great variety of other Instances, both of Countries and Persons, which would be agreeable and pertinent enough to my present Design, but aiming at Brevity, this may suffice to shew the great Care and laudable Endeavours of Foreign Governments, to oblige their People to Labour and Industry; and to evince this Nation of that wonderful Success it has met with, for the Growth and Improvement of their respective Inhabitants in Riches and the like prosperous Contingences of this Life.
I come now, in the third Place, to demonstrate with what possibility and good Success, the same Industry might be effected, and consequently become practicable in these Kingdoms, which is used in others, and how the want of it leads to the same Fate, which became destructive [Page 17] of those Monarchies and Countries already mentioned.
We are not ignorant, That Christianity in general, and more especially as professed in its antient Purity in this Nation, does indispensably oblige all its Votaries and Adherents to a sober and laborious course of Life. We know, by the Parable of the Talents, in the Gospel, That we must increase both our Spiritual and Temporal Enjoyments; that both a Stock of Grace and of worldly Comforts and Accommodations, are to be improved by our Labour and Industry, tho' it's true our Care and Sollicitude for the last, must be subordinate to the first; yet however, as we are but Stewards to what we enjoy, we must so manage, as to be capable of giving a good Account; and as we are but Servants, entrusted with an industrious laying out of these Advantages of human Life, we must so husband and improve them too, as to be able to return them with an Increase (the effects of our Labour and Vigilance) when our Grand Master shall require them at our Hands. And indeed the institution of the whole Creation, is in all its parts so fitly accommodated to, and so naturally capable of Labour and Industry, that tho' Man in his first Estate was exempted from, yet now must bear a considerable share in this general Pains and Toil of the World. The very inanimate Creatures, the Sun, Moon and Stars, have in their kinds their proper and distinct Offices of Labor, to which they were first designed by Sovereign Providence, and which they duly and regularly perform. The Trees and Plants, and things of a Vegetative Nature, discharge their several Functions, in concurrence with this grand Design. What Slavery and Toil is undergone by Sensitive Creatures, how they labour and are harassed with continual Pains, needs not be illustrated. In the Order of the Creation, the next Degree above these are [Page 18] Men, which by reason of their Superiour Faculties incommunicable to Sensitive Beings; we call Rational Creatures. But to pass by them at present, if we look up unto a higher Species or Rank of Creatures, the Angelical Beings, we shall find that those Blessed Spirits are continually busied and employed either in repeated Hallelujahs and Eucharistical Praises; or else are sent upon frequent Embassies and Negotiations into this lower World; or admitting the Speculation of their Tutelary Function, are many of them obliged to a constant Warchfulness, and an immediate Attendance upon Man, whereby to oppose and repel the Temptations of Satan and his Apostate Legions, by instilling into their Hearts a Love and Veneration of the Divine Nature, and by striking them with an awful Dread of, and a most submissive Regard to his Sovereign and Imperial Majesty, and consequently by impressing deep Characters of Religion, and the Fear of God upon their Souls. It remains then, That of that great variety of Creatures which God made, all, in their distinct Conditions and Capacities, are naturally subjected to Labour and Industry: shall then man be excepted, who was made but a little lower than the Angels, and consequently in a superior degree to all other created Beings, endowed with those excellent Faculties of Reason and Judgment, of which brute and sensitive Creatures do not participate, and consequently are not so qualified for a right management of Labour as Men are? for tho' many of them exceed man in Strength, whereby they become in the greatest Toil more indefatigable than they; yet for want of Judgment, and the discoursive or rational Faculty, cannot direct their Pains to proper and advantagious Ends and Uses; but in this are ordered and governed by Man, as they are the Instruments which God and Nature has appointed to be useful and subservient to him, in the [Page 19] promoting of Labour and Industry. Seeing then that Man is thus eminently qualified beyond all the other Beings of this lower Orb for great and laborious Improvements; it follows necessarily, that he must either act agreeably to these peculiar Excellencies of Human Nature, or else sink himself below the Condition of Brutes and the most inferior Beings, who (as is already proved) do by natural Instinct carry a direct Correspondence to their first Institution in this respect. But to pass from a Religious to a Natural Consideration: If we consider that Nature aims at an exact Symmetry and Proportion in all things, and does as much pursue a constant Order and Harmony in all her Operations, as she carefully declines Irregularity and Confusion; we must then needs acknowledg, That that which we look upon as a Deformity or a superfluous Excrescence in a Body Natural, must in a parallel Proportion be justly reckoned to be so in a Body Politick: And if it be so, then tho' we must confess the Fingers to be the Instruments of the Hand; yet one more than of use is vulgarly styled a monstrous Production (tho more properly a deviation of Nature from her Intention of Order) Why then may it not be with a Parity of Reason so thought of an useless Man, in a State or Commonwealth; such a one being not only a Deformity, but a Nuisance unto it, as well as a Blemish to, as an Excrescence in, any Government. That which takes away the Life and Sap from the Root of the State, but neither imparts any to it, nor produceth any Fruit, and therefore must either be so cultivated and disciplin'd by good Laws and Government, so as to make it Fertile, or else deserves no better Usage than that of being cut down, for why cumbreth it the Ground?
But I must beg Pardon for this tedious Harangue, upon these two Arguments drawn from Religion and Nature, [Page 20] obliging Men to Labour and Industry; and proceed to shew, How what has been premised may be calculated to the Meridian of, and applicable enough to this Nation: For the proof whereof, That England exceeds any part of Europe for the Advantage of its Situation and its Utensils of Trade and Commerce, is a matter of so unquestionable a Nature as none will dispute, neither that they can want Vent for their Labours, since it is a Spot of Ground, which so many of other Countries must necessarily pass by: All the Mischief that attends it is its Ease and Plenty, and that the Provision for a Day requires not the Labour of half an one in many Employments.
Now if it be a Matter of so great Facility to purchase a Livelihood, it seems to be a Crime of an higher Aggravation, to live upon the Labour of others.
But the common Plea of Idlers is, That they would work if any would employ them; which seems to charge the Government with omission, in not providing Employments for all Ages and Sexes, as to which the Laws already made (we see) do not, tho' in some Parts of the Kingdom, where the woollen Manufactory is considerable, the common sort are so taken care of, that they are no Trouble or Charge to the Parish: But then pass to other Parts of the Kingdom, and you shall find numbers a Burthen both to themselves and others.
It is a Matter then that deserves our Consideration, What Vocations and Employments every Part of the Kingdom is most fit and proper for; and where there is not Employment in Manufactories, if it be by the Sea, to employ them in fishing or Navigation; or if they take not to either of these, and their own Country affords them not other Employments, that then they should be removed to other parts of the Kingdom; by which course they would not remain idle at Home. And why may [Page 21] not this be as practicable at large, and in the whole, as at this day it is in part in some places of the Kingdom; as for instance, in the Manufactory part of Norfolk, where the Church-wardens and Overseers of the Poor visit their Neighbors Houses, and where they find any Children above ten years of age, not kept to some Trade or Employment, they take them from their Parents, and put them to some.
Now, if this be done to the Poor, why may it not be so to the Rich? I know it will be answer'd, That the reason is not the same; for, say they, One is to prevent a charge to the Parish, that of the Poor, which cannot be feared of the other, the Rich. But there have been some Instances of that too; besides that, Gentlemens Children are often not only a Charge, but also Enemies to the Kingdom: And, Why should not this publick Inconvenience be provided against, of which we have but too frequent and lamentable Examples at the Bar and the Gallows? How many Hundreds in the year are taken off by the hands of Justice, that might have been useful Members in the Kingdom, if they had been taken care of, and been thus educated in their Youth? It is a strange piece of Gentility, that looks upon it as an Invasion upon its Priviledges, if put to a Trade, and will rather submit to an Halter than Indentures.
Now, where an evil Custom is become hereditary and predominant, a Law is needful to cut off the Entail.
The Glory of a Kingdom is Men and Money; England hath, in a competent proportion, the Blessing of both, but might be improved to more than double. For at the most moderate computation, it is not half Peopled; and since there is so much wanting in number, the best way to supply that deficiency; is, by Industry, which would not only encrease the Treasure of the Kingdom, but that which is the more valuable Treasure, Men. 'Tis a matter as well of Experience as Lamentation, That want of [Page 22] Employments puts Men upon loose and unwarrantable actions: Idleness must be fed, and Luxury indulg'd, and Pride maintain'd; and Gentility supported; and when Profuseness has eaten up the hereditary Substance, especially where there was but little at first, as most commonly it is in younger Brothers, then the Padding Trade, and the gentile way of taking a Purse, is generally the Prologue to the succeeding Tragedy, whose Scenes are as dismal as they are common. Now, if such idle Extravagants as these cannot maintain themselves singly, without running into these violent courses, which end in their destruction, they can much less provide for a Family.
And therefore, if a Statute were made, That no Child under Three hundred pounds per annum, should be admitted longer at School, than to the Fifteenth year of his Age: but then, if his Parents or Guardian did not, he should be put to some Trade or Employment, there would be less work for the Executioner, and more for the Cook; and probable it is, that in Twenty years there would be a greater number of People than in Fifty before.
'Tis not possible, in so narrow a compass as this Tract, to set down the methods that must be us'd in such an alteration as this would produce. I shall only answer two popular Objections, which seem to lie opposite to a general Reformation in that Latitude wherein I have propos'd it. The first is this,
That if none under Three hundred pounds per annum, were admitted to apply themselves to Learning, and to a study of the Liberal Sciences; this would be lookt upon as an act of great severity, and a very unreasonable limitation of such whose natural genius and capacity might entitle them to a very great proficiency in Learning, and [Page 23] consequently to very eminent Stations both in Church and State, and yet come not under any such qualify'd degree of Fortune or yearly Substance. This, say some, would be a great obstruction and discouragement to Learning, which it is as well the Ornament as Interest of every Nation to promote, and which we want not Instances of some great Patrons in this kind, who were men of mean Birth, and of an inferiour Fortune in the World. To which I answer, That the Limitation insisted upon, in the method propos'd, would occasion no want or decay of Learning of any, much less of all sorts, where there are so many Thousands that will come under the Qualification of having Three hundred pounds per annum, or Money to purchase it.
Again, That it would be an Act of Severity and an unreasonable Limitation upon such who could not come up to that Qualification, and for that reason be excluded from Study, notwithstanding that their Ingenuity seem'd to animate them with hopes of attaining to no contemptible degree in it.
To this it may be reply'd, That if there appears much more Prejudice to the Kingdom in general, by admitting of such, than the loss will be to every particular Person in this Case; then, I presume, a private Prejudice is much more reasonable than a publick; and some particular Inconveniencies are to be born and conniv'd at, when the removal of them is incompatible with the common Good and general Interest of the State.
That the Sons of divers very ordinary persons have arrived to an eminent height of Learning and Parts, and have become very great Scholars in all kinds of Literature, is a truth too undeniable to be disputed: and indeed, by how much they have by their Studies advaneed themselves from a low and despicable estate, to an high degree, and to an eminent figure in the World; by so [Page 24] much are they justly to be accounted the more honourable, and do accordingly deserve our greatest respect; for Honour (as the Moralists speak) is founded upon Virtue, and 'tis that alone which merits Honour. And, indeed I must needs account those men to be much the more honourable, and consequently to merit a greater share in our Esteem; who raise themselves by their own acquisitions of Virtue and Industry, from a Plebeian or vulgar state, to some eminent post or station; than those are, who derive their persons from Heroical Ancestors, in a long and uninterrupted Line of Succession; but basely degenerate from those Actions and virtuous Atchievements which were the first ennobled the Blood of their Predecessors.
These last seem as great a reproach and infamy, as the others are a credit, both to themselves and their Progenitors. But then we must consider, that though there may and have been some such rare men among the vulgar, yet there are Hundreds for One, which every year produces of the same Fund, who come abroad into the world, like Pharaoh's Frogs, that only croak, and make a noise in the Country, and not finding Preferment, either for want of Interest or Abilities, or both, become, instead of an Ornament or Help, a Disgrace and a Nuisance to the Kingdom; nay, and not seldom create publick Disturbances, and oftentimes make dangerous Concussions both in Church and State. For, Who are generally the Authors of Schisms and Factions in the Church? Who of Mutinies and Seditions in the State, but such Malecontents, whose ignorance, or other contemptible circumstances, debar them from any considerable share in either? and then what their Parts or virtuous Endowments cannot compass, their Malice and inveteracy does commonly endeavour to destroy. Were it not for this, we should not see so many heterodox Professors of Divinity, so many Enthusiasms, [Page 25] Errors and Heresies in Religion; not so many Mountebanks, Quacks, and Empericks in Physick; not so many Pettifoggers and ignorant Barreters in the Law; and to compleat these Legions, Who are the men they call Sharpers, but generally such whose ignorant Parents ambition is to make Gentlemen by educating them Beggars? for, perhaps not one of ten is able to do more than to send his Son to the University, and there he must shift for himself, and oftentimes, for want of a competency to subsist upon, is forc'd to come down into the Country by the next Carrier, and spend the greatest part of his time there in solitude and want of conversation: and unless he can become a Philosopher by Inspiration, or by a Sympathetick Influence be instructed in all the Learning of the University, at an hundred miles distance from it, 'tis an hundred to one but, at the seven years end, he is become Retrograde, and has scarce so good a stock of Learning, as when he commenc'd a Fresh man. And is not this man like to make a very eminent Doctor in the Church, or an able and accomplish'd Politician in the State.
But suppose that one of these poor men can maintain his Son in the University, till he arrives to the degree of a Batchellor, or perhaps a Master of Arts; yet upon his leaving the Colledge, he comes abroad in necessity; which oftentimes puts him upon evil and preposterous courses, whereby to provide for himself. Now were it not infinitely more conducive to the Good of the State, to want one man of Learning from the Mechanicks, suppose him never so excellent, than to have an hundred that prove Vermin, and are destructive, instead of one, or say a few more, that may become active and serviceable Members to the Common wealth.
Besides, there is scope enough for those of the Vulgar, that are of a pregnant ingenuity, to employ it in the finest Arts and most curious sort of Industry and Labour, [Page 26] wherein they may not only arrive to great eminency, but become more profitable Instruments to the Good of the Kingdom, than they can hope to be by their Learning, of which we have no present Prospect of any want, but may be thought to stand upon equal, if not superiour, terms with any part of the Universe.
But then, 'tis more than manifest, That we are so far from disputing the Priority above, that we come infinitely short of other Countries in our Mechanicks and finer Arts, which seem to be a proper Province for the middle People of this Kingdom to be engag'd in, leaving the study of humane Literature to those who are able to maintain themselves, if by an adverse genius, or other obstacles and contingences, they should happen to miscarry in it.
The second Obligation will be, That if we educate all Gentlemens Sons unto Trades, it will hinder the Nation from Martial Improvements, and so be reduc'd to a necessity of employing Foreigners in the greatest Places of Trust in the Army.
In answer to which, we must consider, That such of the younger Brothers as are addicted to War, may be early instated in that Employment, and so may be reasonably accounted, as if actually conversant in Trades; and such as shall affect the Seas, may be bred up in Navigation; Of which we have Examples near home, particularly the French King, who breeds up Gentlemen and others in this manner, at his own Charge.
But it may perhaps, though with no semblance of reason, be urg'd, That loose and indigent Youth are in some respects needful in the Commonwealth, for private Souldiers, which would be wanting, if all men were bred to Trades. But daily Experience shews, That numbers who are put out to Trades prove idle and extravagant; and of such there is a greater proportion in the Kingdom than would compose an Army.
So that if this method were pursu'd, of putting all the Youth of the Nation upon some Employment or other, this signal Advantage would accrew from it: That whereas now Armies are supplied out of the Vagrants, and Refuse of the Kingdom they would then be made up of a better sort of men, tho' yet so extravagant, as to be impatient under sober Confinement and daily Labour.
By what we have hitherto discours'd and insisted upon, it is sufficiently apparent, That the use of Trades and of Mechanick Arts are more commodious for the State, than the educating the poorer sort in Learning and the Sciences: And, if this be plain, it cannot then be denied, That there is more reason to bring up those that are necessitous, in Mechanical or other Occupations.
The next thing to be consider'd, are the great Advantages that will arise to the Kingdom in general, by keeping all hands at work, and these are numerous, the principal of which are reduceable to the following Heads.
First, It will, in some proportion, be an occasion of bringing in new Colonies, and of encreasing the number of our own. We are now supplied from foreign parts with divers Commodities, which, if the Kingdom were replenished with Artizans, they would furnish us with here at home: For, Pray what is it which makes the United Provinces so full of Commodities of their own Arts and Manufactories, which they transport to all parts of the World, but that every one there is bred to some Trade, and so are forced to rack their Inventions to obtain a livelihood? And, notwithstanding that they abound with so many People, as would with us be accounted a Burthen, yet there is still encouragement given out of the Publick Stock for any Foreigners or Fugitives, that are Artizans, to live among them. Of this we have Instances recent among our selves, of the many Hundreds that abandoned this Kingdom, upon the Restauration of King Charles the Second, and had Houses free to settle in.
Now as this employing of all sorts of People would increase the Strength of the Kingdom by its numbers; so would it also as well the Riches and Stock of it, by its Treasure (every Bee adds some Honye to he Hive) and at the same Time would ease every individual Man from a great part of the Taxes which now he lies under.
It would also disburthen the Kingdom from Beggars, that by their Multitudes are become the Shame and the Plague of the Nation, whose Children are begot, and so bred up in the Trade of Begging, as if they were embodied into a Society, and established by a Law.
Not that I design to discourage here that admirable Virtue of Alms-giving which is certainly a most Christian and Divine Grace, when duly placed and regularly and prudently dispensed, and which the Law both of God and Nature require from us; and which is not only the best way, to cause God to showre down upon us his Divine Favours in an immense affluence of temperal Blessings; but also to lay up heavenly Treasures and everlasting Provisions for us, in the immortally Divine State in the other World. It remains then both as our Duty and Interest, that we act agreeably to the Infallible Author's Direction, in this Case (viz.) Thou shalt take Care for thy poor; but then the Question is how, and in what manner, this ought to be performed? for the same infallible Author also tells us, That there was no Beggar in Israel.
And indeed tho' Charity be as well the Duty as Ornament of a Christian, as has been already touched upon, supposing that it be dispensed in a fit and regular manner; yet on the other Hand, it is a barbarous Cruelty, becoming none but the Sons of it, the Emissaries of Rome, to distribute Charity to common Beggars.
It is rather Christian Compassion to prevent it; and indeed it is no small matter of Wonder, that Good should be so often faulty in this respect, and that our Divines [Page 29] (with reverence to their Order I speak it) should so much preach up Charity in general, and yet seem many of them to omit the weightiest part of it, namely, the Provision for the Souls of those poor Creatures that beg for Bread to support this Life; but neither themselves nor others take thought or are solicitous for the Life to come. If such, whose sacred Function does immediately oblige them to the Cure of Souls, would (I say not all, but at least some of them) more seriously weigh and consider this Point, many of our Pulpits would not be so still and unconcerned, upon this Subject, as they appear to be. By our preposterous distributing of Charity, we seem to invert that of the Apostle, Not many mighty, &c. but the poor of this world are chosen. In this Kingdom it is quite otherwise, for we take only the same Care of them that we do of Brutes, to prevent their starving, but alass have too small a regard of what becomes of their Souls.
Now there can be no effectual way of doing this, but by laying a good Foundation, in taking up the younger sort, and putting them to Trades; and as for the Elder and decrepit, that are capable of no Employment, such to be maintained by the Parish, but so as to have no liberty for Begging; and the Effects of this will be, That there will hardly be any aged or decrepit Poor, most of which are made so, either by Fraud and Design of Vagrants themselves, or by being the Children of such, and so for want of Care or Attendance, are become deform'd or maim'd.
It is also remarkable, That Mechanicks prevent Famin in a Nation; this at first sight will appear a Paradox, that the multiplying of Mouths, that eat Corn, whose Hands sow none, should yet increase Food; which Matter of Fact demonstrates the Truth of, notwithstanding: For whoever saw a Famin in Holland? on the contrary, they who sow none, yet supply other parts of the World with Corn, which they effect by means of their Arts and Trade, [Page 30] which drives the more profitable Plough of the two, that of the Sea.
It is observed, That no places are more frequently afflicted with Famin, than those Countries which are employed in Tillage; and the reason of this Scarcity is very plain. For if their Corn fail, they have no other way whereby to supply their Want; but it is otherwise with those who depend upon Arts and Trade, for the extent of their Harvest reaches the utmost Confines of the Christian, if not known World; and if one Place fails, they can easily have recourse to another.
Again, Labour and Arts are a means to purchase to us one of the greatest Blessings of this World, length of Daies; for it both prolongs Life and prevents untimely Death: And for the proof of the first of these, it is observed, as a Matter of common Experience, That there are more old Men who from their Infancy have been employed in Labour and Trades, than there are of Gentlemen; which is agreeable to what the Physicians affirm with a great deal of Reason and Truth, That the Work of the Body is not so destructive of, nor decaies not the Vitals so much as the Study and Labour of the Head, or the Intemperance of the Appetite, which Men who consult their Ease, and sensual Complacencies, are too too apt to indulge.
And in the second Place, That they prevent untimely Death, is a Truth so undeniable as needs no Arguments to confirm it, every Daies Experience sufficiently evincing it unto us, That when Youth are educated in the way and course of Business, their Heads are employed as well as their Hands; which leaves no room for vitious Plots and Designs, nor for pinching Necessity to enforce their breaking through the Laws of God and Man, to make Provision for those Lusts and Exorbitances, that at last bring them to the Gibbet.
I now come to the last part of this Discourse, to shew the Mischiefs that attend, and 'tis reasonably to be feared, will fall upon this Kingdom, for the want of a good and regular Discipline, in the Manners and Lives of the People.
I shall begin with those ill Effects and Consequences which Idleness produces in Religion. It is the Care of most Parents to educate their Children in some Religion or other, of whatever Shape or distinct Profession it be entituled to; for he may be reasonably accounted a Monster in Nature, and a common Enemy to Humanity, that professes the Christian Religion himself, and could patiently suffer his Child to be bred up in Mahometanism: yet perhaps we want not thousands who do worse than this, it being easier to convert and proselyte a Man to Christianity that believes a Deity, but is zealous in his erroneous Apprehensions of his Divine Nature and Worship; than to peswade one to embrace the Faith, who denies that prime and received Principle of the Existence of a God, and consequently disowns all the subordinate Tenets and Articles of Religion. Now alas too many there are of this Kind, whose Parents bring them up without Trades, and consequently having no Employment, will naturally have recourse to those which are Vitious and Unlawful, which the evil Spirit that acts them will be sure not to be deficient in supplying them with an abundant variety of, as being conscious of the hazard he incurs of losing them, if he affords them leisure for serious Thoughts and Reflections.
And as men bred up to no Trade or Employments have rarely any Religion, so neither are they demeanable to the Laws of the Land, to which Religion is the most lasting and surest Tye or Obligation; and subordinately to that Business and Employment have the next prevailing Force with them: for these naturally beget a Property [Page 32] which requires Protection and Security by the law; whereas he that hath nothing to lose, nor endeavors to acquire any thing but by a manifest Violation and Infringment of the Laws, his sinister Interests are such as strongly encline him to destroy them.
Hence it is that we frequently find, That Men of no Business are and have been the publick Disturbers and Incendiaries of a Nation; no Plots or Rebellions are brought upon the Stage, but are managed and projected by this sort of Men, who are the most considerable Party among the Actors, who take no greater Pleasure in any thing than in fishing in troubled Waters, by which means they not only become destructive to themselves, but allure and entice others, inveigling and drawing in those (that are in a way of Trade and Business) to their Mischievous and evil Practices, to the irreversible Destruction of many Families.
And as they thus ruin divers in their Estates, so also in their Lives. It is a Subject of great Grief and Lamentation, to consider what Numbers are every year brought to violent Deaths by the Hand of the Executioner; and yet more numerous they are, by much, who destroy themselves by Debauchery and Intemperance: so that it may be said by by a moderate Computation, That as the Sword of Justice hath slain its thousands; so a complication of Diseases contracted by idle and loose Men, without Employments,have slain their ten thousands. And to sum up all, these are the Men that in the present Juncture of Affairs, are the Plague and Pest of the Nation, that as Locusts swarm in all Places, echoing out the most extravagant Panegyricks upon their Defender, the abdicated King; they go by the Name ofSharpers in London, and are so formidable a Body that none dares oppose their assaulting any that assume to contradict them, in magnifying their Protector the late King; for [Page 33] of such indeed are his Party and Adherents composed, whose Actions carry an agreeable Resemblance as well to the present Principles as known Practices of the Church of Rome; there being not any Profession in the World, that allows of or connives at and indulges Idleness in an equal degree to the Papists.
For as Ignorance is the Mother of their Devotion, so is Idleness the Nurse of it, as is observeable in their rude and implicit Votaries in Ireland: in which Kingdom 'tis usual with them, at Mass, to make publick Collections for a Thief or Idler; but if a constant labouring Man, that spent not his Time with them in Drinking and idleness, be by Misfortune reduced to Poverty, they will give nothing to such a Man, but say, he was a Churle, that never was Good, but was always making for himself.
And it is to be remark'd, that there was never so many Stone-Weavers (as the Dutch call idle men) seen in England as in the few years of the late King James, such profligate wretches being the aptest Instruments for the Subversion of the Establish'd Laws and the Religion of the Nation, and the introduction of Popery.
It belongs not to me to assume the prescribing of Laws and Methods, whereby to redress these publick Evils and Inconveniencies too predominant in the State, and to prevent greater, that seem to be imminent over, and dangerously to threaten this Kingdom, by these infinite swarms of Wasps, which act the part of sluggish Drones, in living upon the labour of others, but are but too industrious to do mischief, and too ready to embrace every occasion, whereby to put the whole Kingdom into a flame and a general combustion.
However, there seems to be a possibility, at least, to lessen this growing Evil, and yet not by the usual way of driving these Malecontents and bad Members out of the [Page 34] Nation; a Remedy worse than the Disease, which in another Discourse may be proved. But the more profitable way seems to take them all up, and such of them as are young, to dispose of to such Trades and Employments as are most suitable to their natural Genius's and Capacities, and to supply the want of Money usually given with Apprentices, to inlarge the time of their Service.
For the other sorts, which are either Gentlemens Children, or else such as pretend to be so, because educated to no Employments, and are become Sharpers, and live by Cheating and Gaming.
For the first of these there seems to be a commiserating and a compassionate sense of their quality and condition, due from the Government, and equally to their Birth, they should be preferr'd in Civil and Military Employments, which perhaps they would have long since taken up, but had not Money to purchase; a sin now become bare-fac'd, and ought to be universally exploded by all Mankind; for, 'tis the Pestilence that walks in darkness, and ruins the Kingdom by a double Mischief. First, obstructs the Preferment of Gentlemen, and of Persons of worth, and in consequence to that misfortune, puts them upon lewd and extravagant courses, whereby to supply their present necessity: And then in the second place, fills up Vacancies with such men, whose Gold, not Parts, entitle them thereunto.
The other set or sort of men, are the Sharpers, who by the Iniquity of the Times are become a Fraternity almost too great for the Civil Magistrate to manage or correct. I will not presume to determine which is the greater Evil, hanging for Felony, or letting those escape that are justly to be deem'd the greater Offenders; but sure I am, that the law is wanting to them, and may well be so, these being a Disease newly sprung up in the Kingdom, and therefore as yet there is no Law made or provided, as a proper Antidote against it.
Now, for these Sparks who are become thus rampant amongst us, What Remedy can be prescrib'd more conducive to the Good of the State, than to exchange them for honest men, that were taken upon their lawful Employments at Sea by the Turks.
This, I foresee, will not escape a severe censure; I must therefore beg leave to offer such Reasons as have induced me to be of this opinion; in the prosecution whereof, I perceive that it will be urg'd, That it is a just Law to hang Felons and Robbers. But, Would it not, I pray, be a milder Punishment to exchange such Offenders, for honest men that are in Slavery?
Again, These Sharpers, that subsist by Cheating and Gaming, are more destructive to the Commonwealth, and consequently occasion the ruin of more men in it than Thieves and Robbers can be said to do. Where then lies the difference? But that the Law was made for suppressing Felons, when there was not such a Vermin known, as now exceed them. 'Tis plain then, That there remains nothing but a Statute to render them the greater Criminals, for otherwise they are already so in themselves, and then sending them to Turkey, would (I presume) in all reason be deem'd an Act of Grace to save them from Tyburn; and that upon a double account. First, In regard that it would afford time for. Repentance to the one, and deliverance from Slavery to the other, by which means a Soul might be saved, and a Body added to the Kingdom; which, of how contemptible an account soever this may be reckon'd, to be, yet is it certain, that the loss of a man is an Injury to the Commonwealth.
This is no selling of Christians to the Turks, as some may at first view be apt to believe, but 'tis the redeeming of a Christian by a dead Man; for so he should be in the Eye of the Law, before he was sent.
This way of proceeding, would, doubtless, be a great occasion of Terrour and Discouragement to those lewd and profligate sort of Men, who are become the Pest, and if uncontroul'd, will be the Bane of the Nation, and by consequence, would be a means of preserving many hundreds from the Gallows, and put all men upon honest courses and industrious expedients, whereby to compass a livelihood. And, to compleat all, to take off the better sort from their extravagancies, and to necessitate the ordinary to apply themselves to Handicrafts, the most conducive method whereby to produce two such desired effects, would be, to take away the Benefit of the Clergy, and in lieu thereof, to enjoin a piece of Mechanick Work, of some Trade or other, to be made by the Offender.
THere is now in the Press a Discourse entituled, St. Paul the Tentmaker; shewing how Religion has in all Ages been promoted by the Industrious Methanick. Written by the same Author.