Essays upon several projects: or, effectual ways for advancing the interest of the nation.:
Defoe, Daniel, 1661?-1731.

Of BANKRUPTS.

THis Chapter has some Right to stand next to that of Fools; for besides the common acceptation of late, which makes every Unfortu|nate Man a Fool, I think no man so much made a Fool of as a Bankrupt.

Page  192 If I may be allow'd so much li|berty with our Laws, which are gene|rally good, and above all things are temper'd with Mercy, Lenity, and Freedom, This has something in it of Barbarity; it gives a loose to the Ma|lice and Revenge of the Creditor, as well as a Power to right himself, while it leaves the Debtor no way to show himself honest: It contrives all the ways possible to drive the Debtor to despair, and encourages no new In|dustry, for it makes him perfectly un|capable of any thing but starving.

This Law, especially as it is now frequently executed, tends wholly to the Destruction of the Debtor, and yet very little to the Ad|vantage of the Creditor.

(1.) The Severities to the Debtor are unreasonable, and, if I may so say, a little inhuman; for it not only strips him of all in a moment, but Page  193 renders him for ever incapable of help|ing himself, or relieving his Family by future Industry. If he 'scapes from Pri|son, which is hardly done too, if he has nothing left, he must starve, or live on Charity; if he goes to work, no man dare pay him his Wages, but he shall pay it again to the Creditors; if he has any private Stock left for a Subsistence, he can put it no where; every man is bound to be a Thief, and take it from him: If he trusts it in the hands of a Friend, he must receive it again as a great Courtesy, for that Friend is liable to account for it. I have known a poor man prosecuted by a Statute to that degree, that all he had left was a little Money, which he knew not where to hide; at last, that he might not starve, he gives it to his Brother, who had entertain'd him; the Brother, after he had his Money, quarrels with him to get him out of Page  194 his House; and when he desires him to let him have the Money lent him, gives him this for Answer, I cannot pay you safely, for there is a Statute against you; which run the poor man to such Extremities, that he destroy'd himself. Nothing is more frequent, than for men who are reduc'd by Miscarriage in Trade, to Compound and Set up again, and get good Estates; but a Statute, as we call it, for ever shuts up all doors to the Debtor's Recovery; as if Breaking were a Crime so Capital, that he ought to be cast out of Hu|man Society, and expos'd to Extremi|ties worse than Death. And, which will further expose the fruitless Severity of this Law, 'tis easy to make it ap|pear, That all this Cruelty to the Debtor is so far (generally speaking) from advantaging the Creditors, that it destroys the Estate, consumes it in extravagant Charges, and unless the Page  195 Debtor be consenting, seldom makes any considerable Dividends. And I am bold to say, There is no Advan|tage made by the prosecuting of a Statute with Severity, but what might be doubly made by Methods more merciful. And tho' I am not to pre|scribe to the Legislators of the Nation, yet by way of Essay I take leave to give my Opinion and my Experience in the Methods, Consequences, and Remedies of this Law.

All people know, who remember any thing of the Times when that Law was made, that the Evil it was point|ed at, was grown very rank, and Break|ing to defraud Creditors so much a Trade, that the Parliament had good reason to set up a Fury to deal with it; and I am far from reflecting on the Makers of that Law, who, no questi|on, saw 'twas necessary at that time: But as Laws, tho' in themselves good, Page  196 are more or less so, as they are more or less seasonable, squar'd, and adapt|ed to the Circumstances and Time of the Evil they are made against; so 'twere worth while (with Submission) for the same Authority to examine:

  • (1.) Whether the Length of Time since that Act was made, has not gi|ven opportunity to Debtors,
    • 1. To evade the Force of the Act by Ways and Shifts to avoid the Power of it, and secure their E|states out of the reach of it?
    • 2. To turn the Point of it against those whom it was made to re|lieve? Since we see frequently now, that Bankrupts desire Statutes, and procure them to be taken out a|gainst themselves.
  • (2.) Whether the Extremities of this Law are not often carried on be|yond the true Intent and Meaning of the Act it self, by Persons, who be|sides Page  197 being Creditors, are also Malici|ous, and gratify their private Revenge, by prosecuting the Offender, to the Ruin of his Family.

If these Two Points are to be prov'd, then I am sure 'twill follow, That this Act is now a Publick Grievance to the Nation; and I doubt not but will be one time or other repeal'd by the same Wise Authority which made it.

(1.) Time and Experience has fur|nish'd the Debtors with Ways and Means to evade the Force of this Sta|tute, and to secure their Estate against the reach of it; which renders it often insignificant, and consequently, the Knave, against whom the Law was particularly bent, gets off; while he only who fails of mere Necessity, and whose honest Principle will not permit him to practice those Methods, is ex|pos'd to the Fury of this Act: And as things are now order'd, nothing is Page  198 more easy, than for a man to order his Estate so, that a Statute shall have no power over it, or at least but a little.

If the Bankrupt be a Merchant, no Statute can reach his Effects beyond the Seas; so that he has nothing to se|cure but his Books, and away he goes into the Friars. If a Shopkeeper, he has more difficulty; but that is made easy, for there are Men (and Carts) to be had, whose Trade it is, and who in One Night shall remove the greatest Warehouse of Goods, or Cellar of Wines in the Town, and carry them off into those Nurseries of Rogues, the Mint and Friars; and our Consta|bles and Watch, who are the allow'd-Magistrates of the Night, and who shall stop a poor little lurking Thief, that it may be has stole a bundle of old Cloaths, worth 5 s. shall let them all pass without any disturbance, and Page  199 fee a hundred honest men robb'd of their Estates before their faces, to the Eternal Infamy of the Justice of the Nation.

And were a man but to hear the Discourse among the Inhabitants of those Dens of Thieves, when they first swarm about a New Comer, to comfort him; for they are not all harden'd to a like degree at once.—Well, says the first, Come, don't be con|cern'd, you have got a good Parcel of Goods away, I promise you; you need not value all the World. Ah! wou'd I had done so, says another, I'de a laugh'd at all my Creditors. Ay, says the young Proficient in the harden'd Trade, but my Creditors! Damn the Creditors, says a Third, Why, there's such a one and such a one, they have Creditors too, and they won't agree with them, and here they live like Gentlemen, and care not a farthing for them. Offer your Creditors Half aPage  200Crown in the Pound, and pay it them in Old Debts, and if they won't take it, let them alone, they'll come after you, never fear it. O! But a Statute, says he a|gain. O! But the Devil, cries the Minter. Why, 'tis the Statutes we live by, say they: Why, if 'twere not for Statutes, Creditors would comply, and Debtors wou'd compound, and We Honest Fellows here of the Mint wou'd be starv'd. Prithee, What need you care for a Sta|tute? A Thousand Statutes can't reach you here. This is the Language of the Countrey, and the New Comer soon learns to speak it; (for I think I may say, without wronging any man, I have known many a man go in a|mong them Honest, that is, without Ill Design, but I never knew one come away so again.)—Then comes a Graver Sort among this Black Crew, (for here, as in Hell, are Fiends of Degrees, and different Magnitude), Page  201 and he falls into Discourse with the New Comer, and gives him more so|lid Advice. Look you, Sir, I am con|cern'd to see you melancholly, I am in your Circumstance too, and if you'll accept of it, I'le give you the best Advice I can; and so begins the Grave Discourse.

The man is in too much trouble, not to want Counsel, so he thanks him, and he goes on: Send a Summons to your Creditors, and offer them what you can propose in the Pound (always reser|ving a good Stock to begin the World again), which if they will take, you are a Freeman, and better than you were be|fore; if they won't take it, you know the worst of it, you are on the better side of the hedge with them: If they will not take it, but will proceed to a Statute, you have nothing to do, but to oppose Force with Force; for the Laws of Nature tell you, you must not starve; and a Statute is soPage  202barbarous, so unjust, so malicious a way of proceeding against a man, that I do not think any Debtor oblig'd to consider any thing but his own Preservation, when once they go on with that.—For why, says the old studi'd Wretch, should the Creditors spend your Estate in the Com|mission, and then demand the Debt of you too? Do you owe any thing to the Commis|sion of the Statute? (No, says he); Why then, says he, I warrant their Charges will come to 200 l. out of your Estate, and they must have 10 s. a day for star|ving you and your Family. I cannot see why any man should think I am bound in Conscience to pay the Extravagance of other men. If my Creditors spend 500 l. in getting in my Estate by a Statute, which I offer'd to surrender without it, I'le reckon that 500 l. paid them, let them take it among them; for Equity is due to a Bankrupt as well as to any man; and if the Laws do not give it us, we must take it.

Page  203 This is too rational Discourse not to please him, and he proceeds by this Advice; the Creditors cannot agree, but take out a Statute; and the man that offer'd at first, it may be, 10 s. in the Pound, is kept in that cursed place till he has spent it all, and can offer nothing, and then gets away beyond Sea, or after a long Consumption gets off by an Act of Relief to poor Debtors, and all the Charges of the Statute falls among the Creditors. Thus I knew a Statute taken out a|gainst a Shopkeeper in the Countrey, and a considerable Parcel of Goods too seiz'd, and yet the Creditors, what with Charges, and two or three Suits at Law, lost their whole Debts, and 8 s. per Pound Contribution-Money for Charges; and the poor Debtor, like a man under the Surgeon's hand, died in the Operation.

Page  204 (2.) Another Evil that Time and Experience has brought to light from this Act, is, when the Debtor himself shall confederate with some particular Creditor to take out a Statute; and this is a Master-piece of Plot and In|triegue: For perhaps some Creditor ho|nestly receiv'd in the way of Trade a large Sum of Money of the Debtor for Goods sold him when he was sui juris; and he by consent shall own himself a Bankrupt before that time, and the Statute shall reach back to bring in an Honest Man's Estate, to help pay a Rogue's Debt. Or a man shall go and borrow a Sum of Money upon a Parcel of Goods, and lay them to Pledge; he keeps the Money, and the Statute shall fetch away the Goods to help forward the Composition. These are Tricks I can give too good an account of, having more than once suffer'd by the Experiment. I could Page  205 give a Scheme of more ways, but I think 'tis needless to prove the Neces|sity of laying aside that Law, which is pernicious to both Debtor and Cre|ditor, and chiefly hurtful to the Honest Man who it was made to preserve.

The next Enquiry is, Whether the Extremities of this Law are not often carried on beyond the true Intent and Meaning of the Act it self, for Mali|cious and Private Ends, to gratify Passion and Revenge?

I remember the Answer a Person gave me, who had taken out Statutes against several Persons, and some his near Relations, who had fail'd in his Debt; and when I was one time dis|suading him from prosecuting a man who ow'd me Money as well as him, I us'd this Argument with him; You know the man has nothing left to pay. That's true, says he, I know that well enough. To what purpose then, said I, Page  206will you prosecute him? Why, Revenge is sweet, said he.—Now a man that will prosecute a Debtor, not as a Debtor, but by way of Revenge, such a man is, I think, not intentionally within the benefit of our Law.

In order to state the Case right, there are four Sorts of People to be consider'd in this Discourse; and the true Case is how to distinguish them.

  • (1.) There is the Honest Debtor, who fails by visible Necessity, Losses, Sickness, Decay of Trade, or the like.
  • (2.) The Knavish, Designing, or Idle, Extravagant Debtor, who fails because either he has run out his Estate in Excesses, or on purpose to cheat and abuse his Creditors.
  • (3.) There is the moderate Credi|tor, who seeks but his own, but will omit no lawful Means to gain Page  207 it, and yet will hear reasonable and just Arguments and Proposals.
  • (4.) There is the Rigorous Severe Creditor, that values not whether the Debtor be Honest Man or Knave, Able, or Unable; but will have his Debt, whether it be to be had or no; without Mercy, without Compassion, full of Ill Language, Passion, and Revenge.

How to make a Law to suit to all these, is the Case: That a necessary Favour might be shown to the first, in Pity and Compassion to the Unfor|tunate, in Commiseration of Casual|ty and Poverty, which no man is ex|empt from the danger of. That a due Rigor and Restraint be laid upon the second, that Villany and Knavery might not be encourag'd by a Law. That a due Care be taken of the third, that mens Estates may, as far as can Page  208 be, secur'd to them. And due Limits set to the last, that no man may have an unlimited Power over his Fellow-Subjects, to the Ruin of both Life and Estate.

All which I humbly conceive might be brought to pass by the following Method; to which I give the Title of

A Court of Enquiries.

This Court should consist of a se|lect Number of Persons, to be chosen Yearly out of the several Wards of the City, by the Lord-Mayor and Court of Aldermen; and out of the several Inns of Court, by the Lord Chancellor, or Lord Keeper, for the time being, and to consist of,

  • To be chosen by the rest, and nam'd every year also.
    • A President,
    • A Secretary,
    • A Treasurer,
  • Page  209 A Judge of Causes for the Proof of Debts.
  • Fifty two Citizens, out of every Ward two; of which number to be Twelve Mer|chants.
  • Two Lawyers (Baristers at least) out of each of the Inns of Court.

That a Commission of Enquiry into Bankrupts Estates be given to these, confirm'd and settl'd by Act of Parliament, with Power to Hear, Try, and Determine Causes as to Proof of Debts, and Disputes in Accounts be|tween Debtor and Creditor, without Appeal.

The Office for this Court to be at Guildhall, where Clerks shou'd be al|ways attending, and a Quorum of the Commissioners to sit de Die in Diem, from Three to Six a Clock in the Af|ternoon.

Page  210 To this Court every man who finds himself press'd by his Affairs, so that he cannot carry on his Business, shall apply himself as follows:

He shall go to the Secretary's Of|fice, and give in his Name, with this short Petition:

To the Honourable the President and Commissioners of His Majesty's Court of Enquiries. The humble Petition of A. B. of the Parish of in the Haberdasher.

Sheweth,

THat your Petitioner being unable to carry on his Business, by reason of great Losses and Decay of Trade, and being ready and willing to make a full and entire Discovery of his whole Estate, and to deliver up the same to your Honours up|on Oath, as the Law directs for the sa|tisfaction Page  211 of his Creditors, and having to that purpose entred his Name into the Books of your Office on the _____ of this Instant:

Your Petitioner humbly prays the Pro|tection of this Honourable Court. And shall ever Pray, &c.

The Secretary is to lay this Petition before the Commissioners, who shall sign it of course; and the Petitioner shall have an Officer sent home with him immediately, who shall take Pos|session of his House and Goods, and an exact Inventory of every thing therein shall be taken at his Entrance by other Officers also, appointed by the Court; according to which Inven|tory the first Officer and the Bank|rupt also shall be accountable.

This Officer shall supersede even the Sheriff in Possession, excepting Page  212 by an Extent for the King; only with this Provision;

That if the Sheriff be in Possession by Warrant on Judgment, obtain'd by due Course of Law, and without Fraud or Deceit, and, bona fide, in Possession before the Debtor entred his Name in the Office, in such case the Plaintiff to have a double Dividend allotted to his Debt; for it was the fault of the Debtor to let Execution come upon his Goods before he sought for Protection; but this not to be al|low'd upon Judgment confess'd.

If the Sheriff be in Possession by fieri facias for Debt immediately due to the King, the Officer however shall quit his Possession to the Commission|ers, and they shall see the King's Debt fully satisfied, before any Division be made to the Creditors.

The Officers in this case to take no Fee from the Bankrupt, nor to use any Page  213 indecent or uncivil Behaviour to the Family (which is a most notorious Abuse now permitted to the Sheriffs Officers), whose Fees I have known, on small Executions, on pretence of Civility, amount to as much as the Debt, and yet behave themselves with unsufferable Insolence all the while.

This Officer being in Possession, the Goods may be remov'd, or not re|mov'd, the Shop shut up, or not shut up, as the Bankrupt upon his Rea|sons given to the Commissioners may desire.

The Inventory being taken, the Bank|rupt shall have Fourteen Days time, and more if desir'd, upon showing good Reasons to the Commissioners, to settle his Books, and draw up his Accounts; and then shall deliver up all his Books, together with a full and true Account of his whole Estate, Page  214 Real and Personal; to which Account he shall make Oath, and afterwards to any particular of it, if the Com|missioners require.

After this Account given in, the Commissioners shall have Power to examine upon Oath all his Servants, or any other Person; and if it appears that he has conceal'd any thing, in breach of his Oath, to Punish him, as is hereafter specified.

Upon a fair and just Surrender of all his Estate and Effects, bona fide, ac|cording to the true Intent and Mean|ing of the Act, the Commissioners shall return to him in Money, or such of his Goods as he shall chuse, at a value by a just Appraisement, 5 l. per Cent. of all the Estate he surrender'd to him, together with a full and free Discharge from all his Creditors.

The Remainder of the Estate of the Debtor to be fairry and equally divided Page  215 among the Creditors, who are to apply themselves to the Commissioners. The Commissioners to make a necessary Enquiry into the Nature and Circum|stances of the Debts demanded, that no pretended Debt be claim'd for the private Account of the Debtor: In order to which Enquiry, they shall administer the following Oath to the Creditor, for the Proof of the Debt.

I A. B. do solemnly swear and attest, That the Account hereto annex'd is true and right, and every Ar|ticle therein rightly and truly stated and charg'd in the Names of the Per|sons to whom they belong: And that there is no Person or Name nam'd, conceal'd, or alterd in the said Account by me, or by my Knowledge, Order, or Consent: And that the said _____ _____ does really and bona fide owe and stand indebted to me for my own proper account, the full Sum of _____ mention'd in the said Account, and that for a fair and justPage  216Value made good to him, as by the said Account express'd; and also that I have not made or known of any Pri|vate Contract, Promise, or Agreement between him the said _____ _____ (or any body for him) and me, or any Person whatsoever.

So help me God.

Upon this Oath, and no Circum|stances to render the Person suspected, the Creditor shall have an unquesti|on'd Right to his Dividend, which shall be made without the Delays and Charges that attend the Commissions of Bankrupts. For,

  • (1.) The Goods of the Debtor shall upon the first meeting of the Credi|tors, be either sold in Parcels, as they shall agree, or divided among them in due proportion to their Debts.
  • (2.) What Debts are standing out, the Debtors shall receive Summons's from the Commissioners, to pay by a Page  217 certain time limited; and in the mean time the Secretary is to transmit Ac|counts to the Persons owing it, ap|pointing them a reasonable time to consent or disprove the Account.

And every Six Months a just Divi|dend shall be made among the Credi|tors of the Money receiv'd: And so if the Effects lye abroad, Authentick Procurations shall be sign'd by the Bankrupt to the Commissioners, who thereupon correspond with the Persons abroad, in whose hands such Effects are, who are to remit the same as the Commissioners order; the Dividend to be made, as before, every Six Months, or oftner, if the Court see cause.

If any man thinks the Bankrupt has so much favour by these Articles, that those who can dispense with an Oath have an opportunity to cheat their Creditors, and that hereby too Page  218 much Encouragement is given to men to turn Bankrupt; let them consider the Easiness of the Discovery, the Dif|ficulty of a Concealment, and the Pe|nalty on the Offender.

  • (1.) I would have a Reward of 30 per Cent. be provided to be paid to any person who should make discovery of any part of the Bankrupt's Estate con|ceal'd by him; which would make Discoveries easy and frequent.
  • (2.) Any person who should claim any Debt among the Creditors, for the account of the Bankrupt, or his Wife or Children, or with design to relieve them out of it, other or more than is, bona fide, due to him for Va|lue receiv'd and to be made out; or any person who shall receive in Trust, or by Deed of Gift, any part of the Goods or other Estate of the Bank|rupt, with design to preserve them for the use of the said Bankrupt, or his Page  219 Wife or Children, or with design to conceal them from the Creditors, shall forfeit for every such Act 500 l. and have his Name publish'd as a Cheat, and a Person not fit to be credited by any man. This would make it very difficult for the Bankrupt to conceal any thing.
  • (3.) The Bankrupt having given his Name, and put the Officer into Possession, shall not remove out of the House any of his Books; but du|ring the Fourteen days time which he shall have to settle the Accounts, shall every night deliver the Books in|to the hands of the Officer; and the Commissioners shall have liberty, if they please, to take the Books the first day, and cause Duplicates to be made, and then to give them back to the Bankrupt to settle the Accounts.
  • (4.) If it shall appear that the Bankrupt has given in a false Account, Page  220 has conceal'd any part of his Goods or Debts, in breach of his Oath, he shall be set in the Pillory at his own door, and be imprison'd during Life, without Bail.
  • (5.) To prevent the Bankrupt con|cealing any Debts abroad, it should be enacted, That the Name of the Bankrupt being entred at the Office, where every man might search gratis, should be Publication enough; and that after such Entry, no Discharge from the Bankrupt shou'd be allow'd in Account to any man, but whoever wou'd adventure to pay any Money to the said Bankrupt or his Order, shou'd be still Debtor to the Estate, and pay it again to the Commis|sioners.

And whereas Wiser Heads than mine must be employ'd to compose this Law, if ever it be made, they will have time to consider of more Page  221 ways to secure the Estate for the Cre|ditors, and, if possible, to tye the hands of the Bankrupt yet faster.

This Law, if ever such a Happiness shou'd arise to this Kingdom, would be a present Remedy for a multitude of Evils which now we feel, and which are a sensible detriment to the Trade of this Nation.

  • (1.) With submission, I question not but it wou'd prevent a great num|ber of Bankrupts, which now fall by divers Causes: For,
    • 1. It wou'd effectually remove all crafty design'd Breakings, by which many Honest Men are ruin'd. And
    • 2. Of course 'twou'd prevent the Fall of those Tradesmen who are forc'd to break by the Knavery of such.
  • (2.) It wou'd effectually suppress all those Sanctuaries and Refuges of Thieves, the Mint, Friars, Savoy,Page  222Rules, and the like; and that these two ways;
    • 1. Honest Men wou'd have no need of it, here being a more Safe, Easy, and more Honourable Way to get out of Trouble.
    • 2. Knaves shou'd have no Protecti|on from those Places, and the Act be fortified against those Places by the following Clauses, which I have on purpose reserv'd to this Head.

Since the Provision this Court of Enquiries makes for the ease and de|liverance of every Debtor who is ho|nest, is so considerable, 'tis most cer|tain that no man, but he who has a design to Cheat his Creditors, will re|fuse to accept of the Favour; and therefore it shou'd be Enacted,

That if any man who is a Trades|man or Merchant shall break or fail, or shut up Shop, or leave off Trade, and shall not either pay or secure to Page  223 his Creditors their full and whole Debts, Twenty Shillings in the Pound, without Abatement or Deduction; or shall convey away their Books or Goods, in order to bring their Credi|tors to any Composition; or shall not apply to this Office as aforesaid, shall be guilty of Felony, and upon Conviction of the same, shall suffer as a Felon, without Benefit of Clergy.

And if any such person shall take Sanctuary either in the Mint, Friars, or other pretended Priviledge-Place, or shall convey thither any of their Goods as aforesaid, to secure them from their Creditors, upon Complaint there|of made to any of His Majesty's Ju|stices of the Peace, they shall imme|diately grant Warrants to the Consta|ble, &c. to search for the said Persons and Goods, who shall be aided and assisted by the Train'd-Bands, if need be, without any Charge to the Credi|tors, Page  224 to search for and discover the said Persons and Goods; and who|ever were aiding in the carrying in the said Goods, or whoever knowingly receiv'd either the Goods or the Person, shou'd be also guilty of Felony.

For as the Indigent Debtor is a branch of the Commonwealth, which deserves its Care, so the wilful Bank|rupt is one of the worst sort of Thieves. And it seems a little unequal, that a poor Fellow, who for mere Want steals from his Neighbour some Trifle, shall be sent out of the Kingdom, and sometimes out of the World; while a sort of people who defye Justice, and violently resist the Law, shall be suf|fer'd to carry mens Estates away before their faces, and no Officers to be found who dare execute the Law upon them.

Any man wou'd be concern'd to hear with what Scandal and Reproach Page  225 Foreigners do speak of the Impotence of our Constitution in this Point: That in a Civiliz'd Government, as ours is, the strangest Contempt of Authority is shown, that can be in|stanc'd in the world.

I may be a little the warmer on this Head, on account that I have been a larger Sufferer by such means than ordinary: But I appeal to all the world as to the Equity of the Case; What the difference is between having my House broken up in the Night to be robb'd, and a man coming in good Credit, and with a Proffer of Ready Money in the middle of the Day, and buying 500 l. of Goods, and car|ry them directly from my Warehouse into the Mint, and the next day laugh at me, and bid me defiance; yet this I have seen done: I think 'tis the justest thing in the world, that the last shou'd be Page  226 esteem'd the greater Thief, and de|serves most to be hang'd.

I have seen a Creditor come with his Wise and Children, and beg of the Debtor only to let him have part of his own Goods again, which he had bought, knowing and designing to break: I have seen him with Tears and Intreaties petition for his own, or but some of it, and be taunted and swore at, and denied by a sawcy in|solent Bankrupt: That the poor man has been wholly ruin'd by the Cheat. 'Tis by the Villany of such, many an Honest man is undone, Families starv'd and sent a begging, and yet no Punish|ment prescrib'd by our Laws for it.

By the aforesaid Commission of En|quiry, all this might be most effectual|ly prevented, an Honest, Indigent Tradesman preserv'd, Knavery de|tected, and punish'd; Mints,Page  227Friars, and Privilege-Places sup|press'd, and without doubt a great number of Insolencies avoided and prevented; of which many more Particulars might be insisted upon, but I think these may be sufficient to lead any body into the Thought; and for the Method, I leave it to the wise Heads of the Nation, who know bet|ter than I how to state the Law to the Circumstances of the Crime.