The CASE of Mr. LAW truly stated.
_THERE has been a Pamph|let publish'd here, enti|tiled, A Letter to you (Mr. Law) which has partly banter'd you, and partly flatter'd you in a kind of a flourishing but superficial Way; leaving us altoge|ther in the Dark, at the Close, as to the Author's Meaning, or indeed whether he has any Meaning or no, other than to have you spoken of and made a little obnoxious; and this indeed seems to be the principal Design of the Book; if, as I say above, there is any real Design in it: or if not this, then by setting out your great Ca|pacities, and perhaps more than your own Modesty will suffer you to acknowledge, prepare us to expect some great Things from you here, and to receive them well when they shall be proposed.
I have observ'd among the Boys in our Streets, (with your Pardon for the Allusion) when sometimes one more quarrelsome Page 4 than his Fellows falls upon another, and offers him any Violence, that the ordinary return of the injur'd Boy is thus; Let me alone, I don't meddle with you: The natural Justice in that Reply, however Boyish, is very pungent; and as this Book call'd a Letter, or the Letter call'd a Book, has thus offer'd you a Piece of simple, empty, unmeaning Violence, it would be a full Answer for Mr. Law to say to the rheto|cial Author, no more than this, Let me a|lone, I don't meddle with you.
But since Mr. Law is come among us, and though he does not meddle with us, we will meddle with him; give me leave, Sir, to address you in another manner, per|haps with more Plainness and fewer Flou|rishes, yet with more Justice to you, and as much to our selves: In order to this, I must first ask your leave to follow him a little in his too partial History of your late Transactions abroad, as also in his Pa|rallel with ours at home.
What you did in France, and how or to what extravagance Things were run up there, is nothing at all to us; besides, if this Author's History of you is just, (viz.) that your Scheme was right, and that the extravagant advance of things was against your Judgment, and opposed by you with all your Might; but that you were over|ruled Page 5 by those who had an Influence at Court at that Time, and who had worse Designs: I say, if his History is just, all the Disa|sters which have happen'd there are no|thing at all to you. But on the contrary, he supposes you had been able to have carry'd on all your Schemes with Success, and every thing would have answer'd it self; and that you were so far from being the Instrument of Ruin to the French Na|tion, that they were only ruin'd by your being over-rul'd by those that had an In|fluence as Court at that Time. If this be true, all his long Blank may be filled up, without any Prejudice to your Character, or without putting any Body in Appre|hension either of what you may do, or of what others may project to do by your Means, or by your Assistance among us.
This Book call'd a Letter, gives a long Detail of your Abilities,
Now, Sir, not to flatter you with all these fine Things, which I humbly presume to say, you know your self to be false; and which you cannot but smile at the reading of, knowing how unfairly, tho' to your Advantage, your Case is there stated; give me leave, with all Decency and Re|spect to your Person, to tell the World that if Mr. Law himself was to give a true and genuine History of himself, with re|spect to the part which he acted in France, it would be quite another way, and he would acknowledge that great part of those fine Things which are said of him in the said Letter, either are not true in Fact, or ought to have quite another Turn given them, seeing they are set in a wrong Light, and our Eyes are turned from a true to a delusive Perspective, in our View both of his Conduct and of his Design.
Page 7 Previous to this, Sir, give me leave to say, that all this which the Letter has been pleased to say of Mr. Law and of his De|signs, is no more or less but what may and perhaps with the same Justice be said of the late Directors of the South-Sea Com|pany; of whom, since our Eyes have been open to some of the secret Movements of that Affair, we have said so many gross Things, and whom we have treated with such Contempt.
It cannot be said, nor as I have heard was it ever pretended, that Sir John Blunt or the abdicated Mr. Knight could imagine, or did suppose, that ever the Stock of the South-Sea could rise to so surpriz|ing a Height, as by the Avarice and Hu|mour of the People afterwards appear|ed; they have not been charg'd with forming any Schemes upon a suppos'd Ad|vance of such a Magnitude, nor indeed was it possible they should; all the Rise was Astonishment and Surprize: Nor can it be deny'd but that Sir John Blunt him|self pretended to be against the Advance of the Stock, and was heard in the height of his Prosperity very often to say, that the Madness of the People wou'd ruin them all.
On the other hand, neither did Mr. Law in France forbear to make use of and Page 8 form as great and if I may say so as imprac|ticable Projects upon the Foot of the po|pular Madness of the People, and per|haps worse in their Kind than ever Sir John Blunt or the Directors form'd here; which Projects, unwieldly in themselves and unable to perform, added their Weight to the Overthrow of Mr. Law and his Schemes, when but a minute Accident gave them a Check, even just as those others did to Sir John Blunt and his Schemes, when they received a Shock from a like Accident as the other.
And now, Sir, as this Part may unfold some Arcana, both in your Management among the French Courtiers and in the Management of our C— among the South-Sea Directors, which are not yet fully penetrated by us, no not by some of those who were very nearly con|cerned in them; give me leave to run a short Parallel between the two Schemes, or rather between the Management re|spectively on either Side, and we shall see into the Reason of the Overthrow of both, perhaps farther than we ever saw yet.
Mr. Law's first Step, says the Letter, was to establish a Bank; which receiving and pay|ing considerable Sums for the Government, lend|ing Money at the low Interest of 3 per Cent. Page 9discounting Bills, issuing a great Number of Notes payable at Demand, and causing those Notes to be answer'd with the utmost Exact|ness, rais'd its Credit to such a height as made its Notes be 4 or 5 per Cent. better than Specie; and all the Designs to ruin the Credit of that Bank or its Director, gain'd the highest Reputation to both.
The first Step Sir John Blunt and the Directors of the South-Sea Company took, was to make a Proposal to the Parliament for the paying the Publick Debts of the Na|tion, by ingrafting all the Debts of the Publick into the South-Sea Stock, and en|abling the Government to discharge the Funds, by reducing the Interest to 4 per Cent. and by yielding to the Government out of the Advance made upon the Stock, a Sum of . . . . Millions in Money in a certain Time.
Had either Mr. Law or Sir John Blunt contented themselves with the utmost that they cou'd either expect from these several Establishments, or so much as be|lieve to be possible at that Time, they had still retain'd the general Applause of the Country they were in, and not the first been forc'd to fly from the Fury of the Rabble, and the last be attainted, sore-faul|ted, confiscated and hated.
Page 10 But to go on: Mr. Law finding himself at the Head of a Bank, whose Credit, as above, was 4 per Cent. better than Specie, a thing never heard of in England, Fate and his working Head push'd him upon innumerable Projects, some of them im|practicable and imaginary, as the Missisipps; others of them vast, immense and unma|nagable, as that of raising the general Farms Four Millions a Year, and yet throwing off all the burthensome Part of the Taxes, and giving them up to the People, such as the Duties upon Flesh, Fish, Fruit, Wine, and Fuel, taking the Management of the whole Revenue of France upon themselves, and dismissing 30000 Collectors, Toll-Gatherers, and other Officers who subsisted on the Spoils of the People; all which was done not with a real View to be able to support it by any other Way than the Publick Fame and Credit of the Scheme, for that was im|possible; but to raise up the Credit to a stupendious Height, and so to perform, if he really intended to perform, all those impossible Things out of the Plunder of those People, whose Avarice dup'd them into such a Frenzy, as to give 2050 per Cent. for Shares in his Bubble.
How then can any Man say that Mr. Law oppos'd the Rising of Stock? Mr. Page 11Law could not but know that advancing a small real Value by Credit, to a great ima|ginary Value, was the only Way to sup|port all those vast Undertakings; and that if that Credit lasted, or so long as it last|ed, those Undertakings might be upheld; and therefore it was that he every Day went into some new Project, broach'd some new Proposal, however monstrous and impracticable, to keep up the Spirits of the People, which he had rais'd in so sur|prizing a Manner; such was the undertaking Coinage for Nine Years, the Farm of To|bacco, the East India Company, and the Missisippi; such was the undertaking Eigh|teen Hundred Millions of Publick Debts, and the managing the whole Publick Re|venue; such was erecting Manufactures, making Canals and Navigations, building new Cities, and the like.
The Author of the Letter forgets, or perhaps was not enough in the Secret of Mr. Law's History, to mention his grave Resolution to crush entirely all the English Stocks, and sink their Credit; and the several wise Measures, not to say cunning Measures, he entered into for the per|forming it, and in which he was bit by some Gentlemen who understand English Stocks better than he did; and in which simple Project, to say no worse of it, he Page 12 lost about One Hundred and Sixty Thou|sand Pistoles, which he paid Difference Money: in all which I never saw any of his Craft, except it was in taking Care that France should not hear of it; in which also he was more beholden to the Modesty of the English Gentlemen he was concern'd with, who valued their Money enough, but despis'd the Gasconade of it, than to his own Policy.
Come we back to the long Scene of Ma|nagement in France, while the Stock kept up its prodigious Height: How many new Creations of Stock, Fifty Millions at once, did Mr. Law crave at a Time, till 300 Mil|lions of New Stock was granted him; all to be sold at the monstrous Advance which the Stock then went at?
It cannot be doubted, that had 300 Millions of Stock been actually transfer|red and sold at the Price which it then was advanc'd to, namely, from 1000 to 2050 per Cent. it must have enabled Mr. Law, not only to have paid off all the Pub|lick Debts, and done all the great Things he had proposed, but even an hundred Times as many; he might not only have peopled Missisippi, but America, and have planted a New World, if he could have found Land to place it on, and the Purchase of what he had so created could not have Page 13 been paid for by all the Money, Plate and Jewels in Europe.
Let us go back to the Directors of the South-Sea Company; they, prompted by the same surprizing Advance upon their Stock, went on in their Degree to innu|merable vast Conceptions: How many Projects and Schemes lay before them? No less than taking in the East India Compa|ny and their Trade, the African Compa|ny and their Trade, the Bank and their Business, and at last all the Customs: By their Credit they were to dissolve the Tax|es at once, clear the Revenue of all its An|ticipations; they were to advance all the Money the Parliament would have occa|sion to grant, and the World began to think once they would make themselves Parliament, Government, and every Thing: What they might have done, or rather what they might not have done that Way, or what Mr. Law might not have done in France, had they both gone on, is scarce to be express'd; but Nascitur ridiculus Mus: The Parallel goes on still, both were over|turn'd by their own Bulk, the unperform|ing Machines blew themselves up by the Force of their own Motion, and the Pro|jectors are overwhelm'd with them.
So Engineers that spring an ill-charg'd Mine, Sink in the Ruin of their own Design.
Page 14 As Mr. Law, to supply the monstrous Demands which he had brought upon his Company, by taking upon them 1800 Millions of Debts, coined every Day new Grants of Stock, which the Humour of the Messeurs de Quincampoix early found Chapmen to take off at the most prodigi|ous and extravagant Prices; so our Direc|tors form'd, as often as they thought fit, new Subscriptions upon their Stock, to the Tune of 4, 5, or 10 Millions at a Time, and at the prodigious Advance of 300, 400, to 1000 per Cent. which the Gentlemen crowd|ing every Day to Exchange. Alley, found Means to take off their Hands, at the most monstrous and extravagant Prices that they could have the Face to put them up at, and at an Advance beyond it.
They do the Directors of the South. Sea Company Injustice in the highest Degree, who pretend to say, that they cou'd not have answer'd the highest Dividend that they ever propos'd, and for the longest Time that it was ever propos'd, namely, 12 Years, had all the Money for which those Subscriptions were taken in at, been either paid to them, or secur'd to be paid to them: And I appeal to the Men of Fi|gures, let them be as partial as they please if they are but just, to cast up what a Sub|scription of 5 Millions and a half at 1000 Page 15 and 10 Millions at 1200 per Cent. as was talk'd of at that time, would not have done? The only Injustice done by the Directors in making those Proposals of Dividends was, that it was evident these Subscriptions on which they were found|ed, like Mr. Law's new Millions of coin'd Stock, could never be paid for; that it was impossible; and that not all the Mo|ney or Credit of the Nation cou'd per|form it.
And this made the Directors, by a weak and scandalous Loan, part with all the Money and Paper they had, to the Tune of 11 Millions, to support the Circulations of Things in the Town; which as they did no doubt see, or might have seen, could never have been paid; and which yet if they had not done, their Stock could not have held up its Head a Week together.
It may be true, and I believe it would have been true, that if the Company had stood, and had proposed a fifth Subscrip|tion at 1000, or even at 1200 per Cent. it would have been subscrib'd, and 100 per Cent. or perhaps 200 per Cent. would have been paid in; tho' to have done it, the Company must not only have issued all the Money and Bills they had, but all the circulating Cash, and all the Paper Page 16 Credit of the Nation must have been strain'd to the utmost.
But it must also have been true, that after the Company had been thus possess'd of the whole Treasure of the Kingdom, if they had not found some way or other to have issued it again every time a new Payment on those Subscriptions had been due, those Payments cou'd not have been made: The Reason is plain, that like a Board of Play, when the Box has got all the Money of the Gamesters, if it does not think fit to lend it out to them again, the Game is at an End, they can play no more: So those Men having thus possess'd all the Cash of the Nation, that is to say, all that cou'd be come at, all that was to be had, and all the Credit also that the Men of Credit were able to answer; if they did not think fit to issue it again on some foot or other, the Play would have been at an End, no Men could have made good their Payments, and all sorts of Confusion would have follow'd.
This was exactly parallel to Mr. Law's Case in France, who likewise made a Di|vidend upon his Stock when it was about 1000 per Cent. intimating, that he was able to do the like in proportion to any Advance which the Stock might have been rais'd to, as doubtless he wou'd have Page 17 done, had all the Stock which he daily created been purchased at the advanc'd Price which it was current at when created and paid for too: for what might not he do, who could create Fifty or an Hundred Millions of Stock when he pleased, and sell it immediately at 2000 per Cent? All the Difficulty was, that in|deed he might while the Humour of the People lasted, sell his Stock at that Price, but that all the Wealth of Europe could not pay for it; and so, as I said before, the Machine burst it self by its own Weight and the Violence of its own Motion.
And shall any Man come now and compliment you (Mr. Law) with telling the World how equal your Genius is to the vast Designs you had laid: and that it was only your being over-rul'd by those who had an Influence at Court that over|threw it all?
To be plain, Sir, and not to injure Truth or you so much, the Case was only this, that those People who had the In|fluence at Court, finding that you had laid Schemes too large for the whole Trea|sure of the World to answer, and that you only screw'd up the adventurous Hu|mour of the People by starting every Day new Surprizes, new Oceans for them to launch out into; so supporting one Chimera by another, building Infinite op|on Page 18 Infinite, which it was evident must sink all at last into infinite Confusion; I say, seeing this, they thought fit to give a Check to the Velocity of the Motion, in hopes to have let Things fall gently and gradually. But the Machine being unweildy, and all the Parts depending up|the Progression of the foremost, like a strong Current hastily and effectually stop'd, the Waters at the first Check over|flow'd all the Country round them; and still not able to find a Vent forward, re|verted with an Ebb, a thousand Times more surious than the Flux which first brought them on; and it was then no wonder that Mr. Law could not stand it; 'twas really more a Wonder that those Great Men, whose Act and Deed that Ca|tastrophe was, had Power left to carry him off as they did. And I believe, Sir, you are the first Man that ever came clear off, if you may think your self safe from the Resentment of a whole Nation, and with so much of the Ruins of their Coun|try in his Pocket.
Just thus, Sir, has it been here in its Kind. Happy had it been if the Great Persons concern'd here, of whom Sir John Blunt and his Fraternity have been little more than the Shadow, had as much in time and from the same Principle of Concern for the publick Good, put a check to the Page 19 monstrous Growth of Things which they could not but foresee, and Mr. Aislabie tells us, he did foresee, would at last blow up and end in Confusion and Destruction.
But on the contrary, they went on to the last Gasp, till they were overwhelm'd by their own Folly, and by that Envy which was only the blinded Child of unbounded Avarice and Ambition, as I shall shew presently.
The Fall of your Machine I have touch'd at already; the Author of the Letter seems not at all to see the Nature of it, and is quite wide of the Occasion; and hinting only at the Instruments, as if they were scarce known, in which, by the way, he is also mistaken, places it to the account of a mere Trifle, namely, that the first Adven|turers began to think of realizing their Stock, and converting the prodigious Gains they had made into Specie. And this, says he, brought such a Demand upon the Bank as it was impossible to answer.
How poor and mean a Description is here of the most flagrant Cheat in the World, and which was just then offer'd in the Face of the Sun! the like of which was enough to alarm all the World. The meaning of it all was, in short, nothing more or less than this, that the Great Men who were first in this monstrous Adven|ture Page 20 of yours, and who had, as you say, come in at 60 per Cent. under Par, and stood now at 2000 per Cent. above Par, know|ing very well that it was, as above, im|possible to be supported, but must at last fall all to pieces and come to nothing, be|gan to think it high time to be satisfy'd, and sell out, vesting their vast Stocks in the Bank; and from thence, as you say, drawing such great Sums in Specie, that it was impossible the Bank or even the whole Kingdom should answer them.
This was indeed done with less Art than in England; it was immediately seen in the Rue de Quincampoix, that the Great Men, and particularly the first Pro|jectors, began to sell out their Stock, and buy Estates; nay, the great Mr. Law, on whose Example so much depended, was not so politick in this part as Sir John Blant. but bought Estates, Lordships, Palaces, nay, as I have heard, even Roy alties and Principalities; I hope no Man will place that part among his Prudentials, or as a Testimony of his most accomplish'd Genius. If Mr. Law did not foresee that his selling our, and the other Peoples sel|ling out, who were look'd upon to be in the main Secret of the Affair, would at least he an Example to others to do the like; and that the Alarm once taken, it would soon Page 21 bring more Sellers to Market than Buy|ers, the Consequence of which must be a Fall of the Price, which would be fatal as Death; I say, if he did not foresee this, he could not be the Great Man the World at that Time esteem'd him to be; and if he did foresee it, and yet openly acted so, he must be supposed to see himself at the End of the Adventure, and, like a skil|ful Pilot, who seeing first the unavoidable Wreck of the Ship he is in, makes Provi|sion for his own Safety, and takes care to get something too out of the Cargo for himself. But neither of these Suppositions give us any Idea of Mr. Law to his Advan|tage, whether we speak of his Capacity or of his Integrity.
Come we then to the Circumstances which overthrew our South-Sea Fabrick here, which are in Proportion the same: That which gave them the first Blow was like|wise a Trifle, and from which even the longest Head among them did not expect the Consequence that happen'd; nay, it was seen without Doors before it was seen within, if we may believe some who were Witnesses to the Surprize it was, even to those who struck the Blow, when they found the Wound was felt where it was not intended. The Case was this.
Avarice, an unwearied and impatient Page 22 Vice, finding the Scheme on which her great Advantages were built, rival'd, as it was then call'd, by petty Bubbles of ri|sing Fame, and not brooking any such Thing as to see Part of the Gain going besides her Mill, grown insolent by her Success, and grasping the whole World in her Imagination, she grew also uneasy at their Success; and though she soar'd infinitely above them all, ought to have disdain'd them; or that being her self a Bubble, she ought to have encourag'd the universal Humour of Bubbling: I say, Avarice, impatient thus to be mated or so much as rival'd, stir'd up her old Ance|stor, Envy, to fall upon them; and, in a Word, to make use of her Friends to sup|press all the other Bubbles of the Town.
In consequence of this Project came out a Publication, and Process was order'd to be issued out by Writ of Scire Facias against several of the Projects that were then on Foot, such as York-Buildings, Bri|tish Copper, Welch Copper, Lustring, and others; and the two Companies since cal|led the Royal Exchange and the London Assurances, were threaten'd with the same.
But the Influence of this Design run quite counter to what was intended, and Things began presently to take ano|ther Turn; for as this immediately struck Page 23 a mortal Blow upon the Stocks of all those Companies, which were already very high, and that a prodigious Number of Con|tracts were made for thier Stock, and af|terwards became void by their never be|ing able to open their Books; the People were immediately oblig'd to sell off their South-Sea Stock to support their Credit, which had receiv'd such a Blow in these Bubbles.
But it did not end here. For,
1. This brought such a prodigious Quan|tity of Stock to Market that it was impos|sible Buyers should be found to take it off; which, as it always is when there are more Sellers than Buyers, made Stock im|mediately fall; and which was still worse,
2. It check'd the adventurous Humour of the People, gave them a Shock, made them sick of Bubbles in general, and made them suggest that the South-Sea it self, being by the extravagant Greatness become a Bubble also, might, some time or other, meet with a like Shock; and thus withdrawing universally from every Thing, the Catastrophe began, and has ever since gone on to what we see it is at present.
All this while, as was afterwards dis|covered, the Great Men who were in the Page 24 Secret, who knew that one time or other it must all blow up, were like your Great Men in France, realizing their Stock; that is to say, turning it into Specie, and buying Estates with it, for which they gave most extravagant Rates, such as the Sellers al|most blush'd to ask for them, paying for them as much as possibly they could in South-Sea Stock, so to cover the Transfer|ring such large Sums of Stock the better.
Now all the Difference between Mr. Law and the Great Men in France, and the Directors in England was, that he did it openly and unwarily, and thereby gave the Alarm which overthrew their whole Scheme; but our People did it subtily and privately; and that our Alarm coming another way, as above, they were not found out till afterward.
And thus I have run a Parallel between the two Schemes, and the Management on either Side, as far as it concerns Mr. Law; in which I think I do Mr. Law no Injury, if I say, that the Letter Writer has made a wide Deviation from his true Character; and that tho' his Genius was really very much bent upon Figures and Calculations, and that he had at first just Notions of Credit and Cash, and of form|ing Projections for the carrying those Un|dertakings which related to a Bank, yet Page 25 he was bold, enterprizing, rash, and ad|venturous beyond the Reach of the Plan on which he proposed to act; that he at|tempted impracticable Things, and sup|ported them by launching into more Things equally impracticable; so that there was a Necessity for him at last to sink, as I have said, in the Ruins of his own Design; that finding this Necessity ap|proaching and inevitable he sold out, and amassed an infinite Treasure in Specie, Part of which he remitted, that is convey|ed out of the Kingdom, and with other Parts of which he purchased Palaces, E|states, Honours and Lands without Num|ber; and when in the Consequence of this the People began to be alarm'd, and did the like, and that the Bank stop'd, the Stock sunk, and all fell into Confusion; he got leave to run away to avoid the just Resentment of a ruin'd Nation.
And now, Sir, I appeal to your self, whether this is not a fairer Account of the Fact, and a truer History of Mr. Law, than what the Letter has undertaken, or than what he has introduced as from Pa|ris; and that tho' you are not flatter'd, no Injury is done you in it, nor any Hurt in|tended you.
It remains now to enquire here with the same Plainness into what the Writer of Page 26 the Letter would only suggest, whether maliciously or not I will not determine; namely, that Mr. Law being arrived here, all these Things may be the Consequence of his coming hither; which ought to be written down in the four Lines which he has left Blank in his Letter, intimating, if we please to take it so, for he leaves every one to take it as he will, that Mr. Law may be employ'd on great Designs here among us, whether to good or hurt he'd likewise leave us to conjecture.
This I must needs say I think is doing you a great deal of Injury, and exposing you to very great Hardships and Resent|ments one way or other, as People may be prompted by their Fears or Hopes to suggest.
Now in this, Sir, I may perhaps do you an unexpected Piece of Justice, and am not out of Hopes of meriting much of your Favour by it; at least I will under|take to deliver Mr. Law from all the Pre|judices and Jealousies which seem to be rising against him among us: and this you will be further satisfy'd of in the reading these Sheets; wherein, if I effec|tually make it appear that all that is sug|gested of Mr. Law, as to what he may do here, is groundless, and that it is impossi|ble that he should ever be able to do ei|ther Page 27 good for us or hurt to us; I shall, Tout de une Coup, remove all the Jealousies and ill Will that I see some People begin to entertain of him; and tho' it may be suggested that then I shall vote him useless, which they say is indeed making him a meer Invalid, and bespeaking a Cell for him at Chelsea or at Greenwich; yet I say I shall make him full Amends by deli|vering him from the Clamours of the People, and stoping the Mouths of these speech-making Enemies, which he might otherwise find very troublesome to him on all Occasions, making his Native Country a true Assylum to him, as it is to a great many harmless, worthless Gentlemen be|side.
Nor is there here any need to enter in|to Arguments from your good Character, and the general Principle which your Friends say you have acted by, and so en|deavour to prove that you will do us no harm, since I have that more solid Argu|ment to make use of, namely, the Repu|tation of your Sense, your Understanding and Penetration; for having once laid it down as a Fundamental, and prov'd it past Contradiction, that it is impossible you should do either good or hurt to us, I leave your Character of a Man of Sense and Judgment to vouch for you that you will Page 28 not attempt it; and it would be the greatest Satyr imaginable upon Mr. Law, and an Affront which my Regard for him will not suffer me to offer him, to in|sinuate, that he will venture to embark in any thing which his Understanding must tell him is impossible. We are a Nation credulous enough, and have been censur'd for our Folly in the Conduct of our pri|vate Affairs, by all the wiser People of Europe, and our late South-Sea Follies give but too much Reason for us to acknow|ledge that the Reproach is just; and had the great Mr. Law acted in the Place of the less politick Mr. Knight, or the still less able Mr. C—g, I know not to what farther Extremes we might have run.
I acknowledge, that in the height of our jobbing Madness, many People as a|maz'd and surpriz'd, would frequently start a little and offer the idle Question, Where will all these Things end? But there was not a Man that did, or perhaps durst boldly take Pen and Ink, and shew by just Calculations where they MUST end, and what Destruction attended them; and of which it might have even then been said they were not only possible to be the Consequences, but that it was impossible to be otherwise: I say, no Body durst be Page 29 so free and honest, for he was sure to be run down by the popular Rage of the Day on one hand, and check'd, perhaps insulted by Power on the other Hand; nor do I say thus much without good Reasons.
But had any of those wise Men, who like Prophets that prophecy after a Thing is come to pass, have since shewn us how im|possible it was those Things should end other|wise than they did, had Zeal enough for their Country's Good, and to have adven|tured to say as much and with as clear Demonstrations of it before-hand as they did afterward, however they might have been treated then, they would have ob|tain'd a double share of Reputation now, as well for their Honesty as their Pene|tration.
But we must take Things as they are, and as Nature presents them to us. Fate and our National Precipitations deter|min'd us at that Time to be a Prey to our Deluders, and which is worse to be the Fools of Fools; for really the Managers, however by the Insatuation of the Times they prevail'd to impose upon us to such a Degree, yet it must be acknowledg'd us'd no great Cunning in deceiving us: The Baits were laid so superficially, and the Hook appeared so open, that had we not Page 30 been blinded by a voracious Avarice, it had been impossible to have brought a whole Nation to be plundered as they were, even running into the Pit with their Eyes open.
It is reported that a certain Fish, which we deal much in Abroad, is so eager for the Prey, that if a Hook be but cover'd with a bit of red Cloth instead of Flesh, they swallow it all at once, and are ta|ken without any Bait at all; we were in|deed taken in those Days without a Bait; we were a Temptation to our selves, our own Avarice led us on, and we came to the South-Sea House so eager to be un|done, that there was no need to lay Traps and Plots to deceive us.
The Use I make of this, for I am not entring into the History of it, is not to show how mad we were then, but to show how sensible we are of it now, and to let you see, Sir, that the Train being now fir'd and blown up, there is no need to fear we shall a second Time be drawn in: That we can no more be Bubble-riden; that we shall not bite at a red Rag now; and if all the Men of Figures, and Men of Art in Europe were to Angle for us, they would catch no more Guageons here; the Season is over; the Moon-blind People are effectually cur'd, the Frenzy is aba|ted; Page 31 not the sharpest Jobber of the Town can reach us, or over-reach us now, no not the great Mr. Law; if he thinks he can, he may go to work when he pleases; but he will soon see his Engines will not work; the Season for National Delusion is over: He may as well raise a Harvest in Winter, as raise the adventurous Tem|per again among the People, after the Shocks and Damps to their Courage which they have lately receiv'd: As the adven|turing Temper of the People is check'd, and the Edge of their Courage that Way taken off, so Mr. Law must give me leave to say, and lay a great Stress upon it too, that the Tools to work with on such Oc|casions, I mean Money and Credit.
Mr. Law was certainly right in his Pos|tulata, which the Letter to him says to his Praise, p. 19. were the Principles which he went upon in his great Under|taking, namely,
- That Trade depended on Money.
- That Credit was equal to Money.
- That the Credit of the Royal Bank, supported by the Whole Species of all, and form'd into one Great Trading Com|pany, had infinite Advantage over Cre|dit, in the Hands of private Traders.
- That consequently such Credit might be extended much farther than private Personal Credit.
- Page 32 That Paper might supply the Place of Silver, and was even better quali|fy'd to be us'd as Money.
I say, these are all solid and undoubted Axioms in the Affairs of Trade or Re|venues, Funds, National Treasure, and such like Things, and are worthy of the Ge|nius of the Great Mr. Law, when acting in France, where Credit never shew'd much of her Face before; tho' here, with your Pardon, these Things are common To|picks that every Stock-Jobber is Master of.
But what is all this to be talk'd of now? And I wonder that the Letter Writer cou'd mention them, after what he had said, p. 6. of the deplorable Con|dition of our Native Country: See his Words;
Now, Sir, after this, is it not a most preposterous Thing, an Absurdity, and merits Ridicule to the highest Degree, to hear the same Writer talk of any Danger from Mr. Law? What can be more incon|sistent? Mr. Law indeed laid down the great and undoubted Particulars above as Page 33 compleat Propositions, and he was right; and upon these he founded all the great Things he did in France: For Example, he set up a Bank, amassed Money, and e|rected Credit; on these Three what might he not do, and much greater Things he might have done, if his Genius, which this Man extols so much, had been equal to his Undertaking.
But what is this to his setting his Wheels to work among us, who this Man says, have neither Trade, Money, or Credit? If the best Engineer, or Mill|wright in the Nation were to build a Water-mill, and make it a most beautiful compleat Piece of Work that ever was seen, yet if he has no Water to drive it, 'tis a Thing without Life, useless and fit for nothing. For Mr. Law to set his Wit to work upon a Scheme of Credit may be a fine Thing, and I am ready to do Mr. Law Justice with my utmost Skill; but what can this do among us, whose Cre|dit is ruin'd? Do Gamesters invite People to play that have no Bank? or do Mer|chants invite Men to buy that have no Credit?
Again, as we have no Credit, so we have no Money; and what have we to fear being cheated of, who have nothing to lose?
If we had a flowing Cash and a high Credit, we might indeed be jealous of a Man sam'd for an extraordinary Genius; which I take to be only fine Words for something else, and a mannerly way of calling a Gentleman a Bite and a Sharper, which I shall not imitate. I say, Mr. Law may be all that this Gentleman says of him, tho' I shall not say I believe it of him: But if Mr. Law was sharper than he and Forty more as cunning as himself, they could never raise a Project to the hurt of those People who have neither Money or Credit.
If Mr. Law will set up the finest Pro|ject in the World upon a Foundation of Nothing, we will come all into it, and bring Nothing to his Nothing; and let him see what he will make of us; there can be no Danger on our Side.
I remember an old Verse of a Gentle|man, who having lost what he had at Play, listed himself for a Soldier; and his Friends perswading him against it, and telling him of the Danger, he wrote this to them in Answer;
I turn the Case to the Point in hand: Projects are a Game; let Mr. Law set up as many as he pleases, we may all come into them. For,
But least it should be suggested that this is only catching at the Advantage given in Argument, but has no solid Weight in it, for that the Assumption may be denied; and 'tis apparent we have both Trade and Money, and Credit, though not much of the latter.
To come then to the other side of the Proposition, and prove, that as he will not attempt us, because nothing is to be got by us, so he cannot hurt us if he Page 36 should attempt it, because our Eyes are now open; we are the burnt Children who shall always dread the Fire; we have been bit once, and it was our Ma|sters the * * * *, and our Masters the * * * * *, and our Masters the * * * * * 's Fault; but if we are bit again it will be our own Faults and no Body's else. And on this Account only I am far from being of their Opinion, and would have none be jealous of Mr. Law. I say, let Mr. Law go to work, and if he has not spent all his Ammunition in France, and export|ed all his Policy, and exhausted his calcu|lating Genius there; let him try his Hand among us, let him go to work with us, and see what he can make of it and wel|come. I say, that what between those who have no Money to lose, and those who having lost so much are made too cunning to lose any more, we have no|thing to fear from Mr. Law.
In the next place, and to conclude all: Here are no Materials for Mr. Law to work with; here are no more Funds to bring in; as there are no more Fools to sub|scribe them, so there are no Things for them to subscribe.
It is true that our Credit has suffered a Blow, a deep Wound, tho' I hope not a mortal Wound: On the other Hand, it Page 37 is not to be reviv'd by any Project, I say not by any; the whole World cannot re|store Credit in England to what it has been; but by the Assistance of the One Article call'd Time, which does not con|sist with any Company's d'Eclas, either Mr. Law, or any Man in the World can bring forth.
Our Credit has been lost by Knavery, by Tricking and false Dealing; and nothing but the Reverse of the Chicane, which is Honesty, can restore it: and this Ho|nesty must be approv'd to be the prevail|ing general Practice of the Age as the o|ther has been, before it can introduce Credit. Honesty and Credit went away together, and they must come together or not at all; the Allusion will be found to be just, and the Consequence is plain, that till by Length of Time we recover our Honesty of Dealing, we shall never fully restore our Credit; and till Credit is restor'd, there's no Foundation for a Man of Genius to build upon, to do us or him|self any Good; and I take Mr. Law to be too wise a Man to pretend to form any new Undertaking here, as both we and himself are now circumstanc'd in the World.
I might have mention'd here, that the particular Jealousy People have of Mr. Page 38Law, upon Account of the late Underta|king in France, and that little Credit he has obtained for Integrity in his Part, is another Obstruction to his making any Attempt; and especially seeing the Letter wrote to compliment him so much, and perhaps to prepare us to think better of him, has so ill come off in his Panegy|rick, and endeavouring to prove him the Great Genius, that he would have him be thought to be; he has neither clear'd him as an honest Man, or as a wise Man. I cou'd explain my self to Mr. Law's Disad|vantage: but I forbear till further Occa|sion may be given; which, however, I foresee will not be long.
I am, SIR, Your Humble Servant.