The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 16/An Appendix to the Conduct of the Allies
Jan. 16, 1712-13.
I BEGIN to think, that though perhaps there may be several very exact maps of Great Britain to be had at the shops in Amsterdam or The Hague; and some shining genii in that country can, it may be, look out the most remarkable places in our island, especially those upon the seacoast or near it, as Portsmouth, Chatham, Torbay, and the like; yet it is highly necessary, that "Chamberlaine's Present State," or some other good book of that sort, were carefully translated into Dutch, in usum illustrissimorum ordinum, or with any other sounding and pompous title, only signifying, that it was done for the use of our good allies, and to set them right in the nature of our government, constitution, and laws; with which they do not appear to be so well acquainted as might be expected. I am sensible that as things now stand, if a manifesto or memorial should be sent them, humbly representing to their high mightinesses, That Great Britain is an independent monarchy, governed by its own laws: that the queen is supreme over all orders of the realm: that no other prince, prelate, state, or potentate, has, or ought to have, any authority and jurisdiction over us: that where the queen, lords, and commons, solemnly consent, it is a law; and where the collective body of the people agree, it is the sense of the nation: that the making war and peace is the prerogative of the crown; and that all alliances are to be observed only so far as they answer the ends for which they were made: in such a case, it is not unlikely but the Amsterdam Gazette, or some other paper in the Seven Provinces, would immediately answer all this, by publickly protesting, that it came from the jacobites and frenchified highfliers, and therefore ought not to be admitted as genuine: for, of late, that celebrated writer, and two or three of his seconds, have undertaken to tell us poor Britons, who are our best subjects, and how we ought to behave ourselves toward our allies. So that, in this unhappy juncture, I do not see when we shall come to a right understanding. On the other hand, suppose we agreed to give them the precedence, and left the first proposal for overtures of accommodation to their management; this perhaps might quickly bring us to be better acquainted. Let them therefore lay aside all clumsy pretences to address; tell us no more of former battles, sieges, and glories; nor make love to us in prose, and extol our beauty, our fortune, and their own passion for us, to the stars: but let them come roundly to the business, and in plain terms give us to understand, that they will not recognize any other government in Great Britain, but whiggarchy only: that they treated with us as such, and are not obliged to acknowledge a usurped power, called a monarchy, to which they are utter strangers: that they have a just demand upon us ever since the Revolution; which is a precedent for their interposing, whenever popery and arbitrary power are coming in upon us, which at present they are informed by their friends is our case: and besides, they are advised by able counsel, that we are only tenants for life; and they, being mentioned in the entail, are obliged to have a watchful eye over us, and to see that neither waste nor dilapidation oe done upon the premises. If all this be not the case, and a true state of the controversy, as I heartily hope it is not, I leave any rational creature, pick him where you will between the Danube and Ganges, to judge of the following remonstrance.
A war is undertaken by several potentates in conjunction, upon certain causes and conditions, plainly expressed in a writing called "The Grand Alliance." This war is carried on with success; the enemy offers to treat, and proposes to satisfy all the just demands of the several parties engaged against them. Great Britain makes her claim, so does Portugal; and both are fully satisfied. The Dutch produce their barrier of Gertruydenberg; and are assured they shall have it, except two or three places at most. Savoy and Prussia have more than ever they asked. Only the emperor will have all Spain, contrary to the reasons upon which his brother's renunciation was founded, and in direct violation of a fundamental maxim, "The balance of power:" so that he would involve us in a second war, and a new "Grand Alliance," under pretence of observing the old one. This, in short, is the case; and yet, after all the bloodshed, expense, and labour, to compass these great ends, though her Britannick Majesty finds by experience that every potentate in the Grand Alliance, except herself, has actually broke it every year; though she stands possessed of an undoubted right to make peace and war; though she has procured for her allies all that she was obliged to by treaty; though her two houses of parliament humbly entreat her to finish the great work; though her people with one voice admire and congratulate the wise steps she has taken, and cry aloud to her to defer their happiness no longer; though some of the allies, and one or two of the provinces, have declared for peace, and her majesty's domestick enemies dread it as the utter downfal of their faction; yet still the blessing depends, and expectation is our lot. The menacing pensionary has scruples: he desires time to look out for something to demand: there are a dozen or two of petty princes, who want silk stockings, and lace round their hats: we must stay till the second part of Denain comes upon the stage, and squire South promises to go directly to Madrid, the next time we show him the way thither.
Her majesty is all goodness and tenderness to her people and her allies. A brighter example of piety could not adorn the life of her royal grandfather, whose solemn anniversary we must shortly celebrate. She has now prorogued the best parliament that ever assembled in her reign; and respited her own glory, and the wishes, prayers, and wants of her people, only to give some of her allies an opportunity to think of the returns they owe her, and try if there be such things as gratitude, justice, or humanity, in Europe. This conduct of her majesty is without parallel. Never was so great a condescension made to the unreasonable clamours of an insolent faction, now dwindled to the most contemptible circumstances. It is certainly high time they should begin to meditate other measures, unless they vainly imagine the government must part with both its attributes of mercy and justice, till they are pleased to be dutiful and obedient. What ill-grounded hopes and expectations they have underhand administered to any of the allies, is not worth my while to inquire; since, whatever they are, they must come attended with the blackest treason and ingratitude. The Dutch have the least reason in the world to rely on such a broken reed; and after having solemnly promised to conform themselves to her majesty's wisdom, and depend on her conduct, which is the language of their latest professions, such clandestine management would fully deserve all those appellations, with which the writings of the whigs are so richly embellished.
After all, when her majesty and her subjects have waited one period more, and affixed a new date to their wishes and their patience; since peace is the only end of every alliance, and since all that we fought for is yielded up by the enemy, in justice to her prerogative, to her parliament, and her people, the desirable blessing will, no doubt, be reached out to us: our happiness will not be put off till they who have ill-will at us can find time and power to prevent it. All that a stubborn ally can then expect, is, time to come in, and accept those terms which himself once thought reasonable. The present age will soon taste the sweets of such conduct; and posterity as highly applaud it. Only they who now rail and calumniate, will do so still, and who are disposed to give every thing the same treatment which makes for our safety and welfare, and spoils their game of disorder and confusion.
It is true, the present stagnation of affairs is accounted for another way; and the party give out, that France begins to draw back, and would explain several articles upon us: but the authors of this forgery know very well I do not miscal it; and are conscious to the criminal reasons why it is with so much industry bandied about. France rather enlarges her offers, than abates or recedes from them: so happy are we in finding our most inveterate and ungenerous enemies within our own bowels! The whigs, according to custom, may chuckle and solace themselves with the visionary hopes of coming mischief; and imagine they are grown formidable, because they are to be humoured in their extravagances, and to be paid for their perverseness. Let them go on to glory in their projected schemes of government, and the blessed effects they have produced in the world. It was not enough for them to make obedience the duty of the sovereign, but this obedience must at length be made passive; and that nonresistance may not wholly vanish from among the virtues, since the subject is weary of it, they would fairly make it over to their monarch. The compact between prince and people is supposed to be mutual; but Grand Alliances are, it seems, of another nature: a failure in one party does not disengage the rest; they are tied up and entangled so long as any one confederate adheres to the negative; and we are not allowed to make use of the Polish argument, and plead Non loquitur. But these artifices are too thin to hold: they are the cobwebs which the faction have spun out of the last dregs of their poison, made to be swept away with the unnecessary animals who contrived them. Their tyranny is at an end; and their ruin very near: I can only advise them to become their fall, like Ccesar, and "die with decency."