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ENGLAND'S CALAMITIES • DISCOVERED:
WITH THE PROPER REMEDY TO RESTORE PER ANCIENT GRANDEUR
What Captain and Mariners, wben they find the Ship driven by a violent
Hurricane amongst the Rocks, full of Leaks, and much disabled, will be so obstinately insensible of the Consequence of such fatal Circumstances, as not to use their own, and embrace the good Endeavours of others, for their Preservation? The only Means of Hope left, wbereby themselves and Ship may at last be conducted into a safe Harbour. London, printed for the Author, and are to be sold by Joseph Fox in Westminster-Hall, R. Clavel at the Peacock in Fleet-Street, and T. Minton at the Anchor under the Royal. Exchange, 1696. Quarto, containing forty pages.
T is not unknown to the world, what a difficult task is here un.
dertaken; aud we may, without pretence to the gift of prophecy, foretel how many, and what sort of enemies, an honest man is to grapple with, in defence of this one useful and unquestioned principle, viz.
That every happy government must be supported by just means; and that state which has been so far mistaken in its politicks, as to practise a contrary method, has always drawn upon itself its own ruin and destruction.
And, upon this observation, it has been granted in all ages, that a throne, that would flourish, must be established in righteousness; but we never heard of any that has been long supported by ini. quily: for iniquity itself must be obliged to justice; or, at least, to those that fill the seats of justice, for its support and maintenance. And, where the execution of this fails, all combinations or societies of men, however formed, naturally fall into disorder and dissolution.
Now, since neither the apprehension of enemies, the power or malice of men, who have by any means wriggled themselves into the pretended service of the government, nor the difficulty of the undertaking, which is to beget in mankind a belief of such truths and qualities, as this corrupt age has hardly virtue enough to put in practice, ought to deter a true Englishman from laying open, as occasion serves, those mischiefs and miscarriages, which, if not timely prevented, will overwhelm us: I thought it an indispensable. duty, to give these fresh testimonies of love to my country, and allegiance to king William, by rendering both inexcusable; when
Vide the 361st article in the catalogue of pamphlets in the Harleian library.
the consequential miseries of the abuses, and corruptions bere complained of, shall have reduced us to a too late repentance.
A chief means for the preservation of a state or government in good order is, that particular care be taken, not to stifle and discountenance, but admit and cherish the just impeachments, and reasonable accusations, which are the unquestionable right of the subject against those, who, being byassed by ambition, avarice, or pride, shall either contrary to law, or by elusion, and corrupt practice of the law, seek to invade and destroy their liberties, properties, and native rights.
The want of a due and impartial administration of justice, in this particular, has been the grand cause of all the cruelty, oppression, and extortion that have so often interrupted the publick peace, and now hang over the nation, as a severe judgment.
I would not be misunderstood, as if I intended to fill the kingdom with perpetual clamours and informations, and designed to open a wide door of access for every little whiffler to alarm the magistrate's quiet, with petty vexatious complaints, and malicious suggestions. I abhor that sort of cattle, and the indulging them, as much as any man alive. But it is unjust in itself, and of fatal consequence to a government, to reproach and stigmatise every honest man, with the scandal of a common informer, who, out of a true sense of his duty, and an unbyassed zeal for his king and country, shall endeavour to detect the wicked practices of such, who, by corruptly abusing the honourable employments they are intrusted with, directly strike at the life and happiness of both. I say such informations as these ought to be assisted' with the encouragement of the magistrate; especially if the complaints are grounded upon reasonable evidence, or even upon probable suspicion : except they will tell us they have made such good provision before-hand, to supply the executive part of the government with honest and able officers, that it is morally impossible for a man in office, to act against his conscience, or betray his trust fur money. This would be good news indeed, and at once discharge the people of their complaints and fears, and ease his majesty of the greatest part of his care and danger.
But alas ! our present circumstances afford us apparent reasons to believe the contrary; and the evils and disasters, that have con. tinually attended us, take away the very pretence, or umbrage of any excuse whatever. This is too visible to be denied, when the disposal of trist and power, in too many places in the government is set to sale to the highest bidder; or, what is as bad, bestowed upon favourites, or private minions, though never so unqualified ; many offices being only to be obtained by money: which infamous practice intails these two fatal cala:mities upon the nation, the very source and spring of unavoidable mischief and disorder : for, by this means, many persons, utterly, incapable of discharging the duty of the employments they holci, by vertue of a strong purse, though never so weak capacity, are admitted into such part of the publick administration, where this ignorance and inability render
them wholly unserviceable, and consequently trust notoriously mismanaged, to the government's irreparable prejudice.
And, though we will suppose some purchaser to be fitly qualified, and of honest principles, yet, by reason of this heavy fine for bis admission, be lies under the daily temptation of stretching the duty of his office, in raising his fees to re-advance his purchase money. By which oneans, too many places, wherein the bonour of the trust, with a moderate salary, would o herwise be an ample gratification, are now become a perfect mart of usury and interest; with this farther inconvenience, that all the sub-ministers and inferior officers lying under their master's circumstances, being wholly swayed by lucre and profit, are likewise exposed to the very same temptations in their lower class of trust. And what is still more calamitous, their misdemeanors and faults must be but very slenderly inspected, or, at best, but mildly punished, lest otherwise you strike at the offender's farm, I may see his fee-simple, his downright purchase and penny-worth.
This is deflouring the virgin purity of justice, checking and curbing her in the noblest exercises of ber dominion, and administering a plausible colour for defending injustice, bribery, extortion, and oppression. · But to double and treble the value, to manage them for the best advantage to the seller, and put him upon the rack of improvement too ; what is it but to bespeak the unfittest men, either through want of honesty or experience, that can be met with to manage those affairs and places, in which justice and reason require the most upright and judicious persons ?
But that the deformity, as well as iniquity of such an abomin. able practice, may become more odious, by, being made more visible and conspicuous, though there are too many other griev. ances in the nation to be lamented, for brevity sake, we shall make some particular remarks, and commence our reflexions from the honourable city of London, the grand pattern, by whose measures snialler corporations are apt to make ibeir precedents.
Inexpressible are the daily complaints and mischiefs, that arise through the excessive straining and advancing the exorbitant fees of counsellors, attornies, clerks, serjeants, gaolers, and other officers in this city, by reason of the too frequent, malicious, and impertinent actions, and general corruption among them: occasioned chiefly by their being forced to buy their places with money, without regard to merit: for never any man came into an office by the mediation of his gold, but he was compelled to ex. ercise his authority wickedly. He that buys must sell, or he loses by the bargain ; which makes the public offices to be like briars, to which sheep repairing for shelter, must unavoidably be forced to part with some of their fleece.
Now to consider the consequences, and those very pernicious ones, of such purchase, we will begin with the serjeant, who, at this time, pays the sheriff near five hundred pounds for his place. It is true, it has been at a far lower rate, as well as all other places,
but the prices rise, as the world degenerates, and consequently corruptions improve and increase.
Well, suppose, here is five hundred pounds given for a place for life, which at seven years purchase, the customary value of a life, buys seventy pounds per annum in a dead rent upon land, where the purchaser has no more to do, than receive his annual revenue, as the money becomes due. But, in a place or office purchased, where there is constant toil, attendance, and business to supply that office, it is modestly computed, that a man ought in all reason and equity to make double as much per annum of his money, as in a lazy annuity. So that, for bis five hundred pounds, a serjeant seems to have a justifiable pretension to get about a hundred and fifty pounds a year, a very round income, for'a man that, in his post, is sworn but a varlet; an income much larger than that of many an honest gentleman of good birth and quality, with a much fairer blazon in his coat of arms, than a blood sucking serjeant. This hundred and fifty pounds per annum is three pounds a week, about ten shillings a day; and how must the serjeant raise this money? If by taking only the now customary fees of his office, as allowed in court, viz. half a crown for every arrest, and no more, of which bis yeoman, who gives above two hundred pounds for his place, goes one third snack with him; by consequence, he must arrest six men every day one with another, all the year round, to raise the profits of his purchase money, viz. ten shillings, per diem, for his own share.
But, supposing this serjeant instead of six arrests in one day, does not make above six, and half six more in the whole week, and a good week's work 100; how must the money rise then? Instead of half-crowns from the poor prisoners, here must be half-pounds, and whole pounds too, extorted for civility money, as they call it, and several other unreasonable pretences and demands, to make ор
And what, I pray, are the consequences of these pounds so extorted? Only this: the poor debtor is so much the less enabled to satisfy his creditor's just debt itself; and all by such unwarrantable extortions, from the serjeant first, and then from the gaoler afterwards, not only to the intire defrauding the creditor, but many times to the utter ruin of the poor prisoner, that perishes in gaol under no other load.
Who then (the case thus fairly stated) lays all this oppression upon a poor debtor? The serjeant and gaoler No; but Mr. Sheriff, that sells them their places: for they, good men, do no more than raise the effects and perquisites answerable to their own fair
purIf the common right of Meum and Tuum thus manifestly suffers, by the creditor's want of his legal satisfaction, occasioned by these arrest or imprisonment extortions; do the serjeant and gaoler obstruct that right? Not in the least. Mr. Sheriff has borrowed a round sum of money of the serjeant and yeoman for their admission, and their great city lords and masters possibly six times
as much of the gaoler; and therefore their tallies and loans must be satisfied first.
If a poor prisoner, through such extorted sums, is reduced to starving in gaol, are his catch-poles and turnkeys in fault? No, not they. For their head office jobbers, their great sales-masters have squeesed first, and it is their turn to squeese next. In fine, the face of the poor is ground, but the serjeants, gaolers, attornies, &c. only turn the grind-stone, the grind-stone itself is the magistrate.
The keeper's place of Newgate was lately sold for 35001. Now upon such a prodigious sum paid only for the head tyrant's jurisdiction of those stone walls, and iron grates; considering likewise the numerous turnkeys, sutlers, and all his sub-janizaries, to be all fed and fattened also from the fees of their lower posts, what annual incomc must that one gaol raise, and how raise, to answer such a saucy purchase! Why truly thus :
First, for the criminal prisoners:
If a thief, or house breaker, would get unloaded of so many pounds of iron, or purchase a sleeping bole, a little free from vermin, or with wholesome air enough to keep his lungs from being choaked up, he must raise those extravagant sums to pay for it, as can no ways be furnished but from theft and vice, supplied by bis jades or brother rogues abroad, who must rob or whore, to support him even with the common necessaries of life. Nay, instead of employing their time in amendment of life, and a religious preparation for their tryal, they are forced to drink, riot, and game, to curry favour with the gaoler, and support his luxury.
Thus' a gaol, which should be a check to roguery and wickedness, in a high measure, by its extortion and oppression, encourages it.
And next, for the poor debtor committed thither (for it is the county gaol) he receives much the like severe treatment and hardships: for extortion and oppression, like the grave, make no distinction.
Now let us enquire by what right the magistrates sell that keeper's place, together with those of Ludgate and the Compters. It is well known that those places, as well as all others, were fornerly given gratis. Now, if they had then any inherent power of selling them, it is presumed that the then magistrates were not so extravagantly generous to part with such a considerable feather in the city cap for nothing, provided they had a title to sell. Then, as they took nothing, so we may reasonably presume they could rightfully demand nothing for them.
By wbat pretension then does the chair demand it now? We know of no donation or concession granted by law to intitle them to such a sale. And, without such a donation, it is all but in. croachment, iniquity, injustice, and usurpation, where there was no original or fundamental claim to warrant and introduce their pretensions : nay it is expressly against the commands of God, and the laws of the land, as is here made appear.
Now for the effects of this corruption, how often have the su