Swift's Political Principles

In a letter to Pope, alluding to the days when he took part in politics,

he thus expresses himself:--

I had likewise in those days a mortal antipathy to standing armies in

times of peace. Because I always took standing armies to be only

servants, hired by the master of the family to keep his own children in

slavery; and because I conceived that a prince who could not think

himself secure without mercenary
troops, must needs have a separate

interest from that of his subjects.

As to Parliaments, I adored the wisdom of that Gothic institution which

made them annual, and I was confident that our liberty could never be

placed upon a firm foundation until that ancient law were restored among

us. For who sees not, that while such assemblies are permitted to have a

longer duration, there grows up a commerce of corruption between the

ministry and the deputies, wherein they both find account, to the

manifest danger of liberty; which traffic would neither answer the

design nor expense, if parliaments met once a year.

I ever abominated that scheme of politics (now about thirty years old)

of setting up a moneyed interest in opposition to that of the landed:

for I conceived there could not be a truer maxim in government than

this, that the possessors of the soil are the best judges of what is for

the advantage of the kingdom. If others had thought the same way, funds

of credit and South Sea projects would neither have been felt nor heard


I could never see the necessity of suspending any law upon which the

liberty of the most innocent persons depend: neither do I think this

practice has made the taste of arbitrary power so agreeable as that we

should desire to see it repeated. Every rebellion subdued, and plot

discovered, contributes to the firmer establishment of the Prince: in

the latter case, the knot of conspirators is entirely broken, and they

are to begin their work anew under a thousand disadvantages; so that

those diligent inquiries into remote and problematical guilt, with a new

power of enforcing them by chains and dungeons to every person whose

face a minister thinks fit to dislike, are not only opposite to that

maxim which declares it better that ten guilty men should escape than

one innocent suffer, but likewise leave a gate wide open to the whole

tribe of informers, the most accursed, and prostitute, and abandoned

race that God ever permitted to plague mankind.