Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees

The Grumbling Hive:
or, Knaves Turn'd Honest
By Bernard Mandeville
Edited by Jack Lynch

Note on the text: The text is transcribed from the 1705 edition of The Grumbling Hive.

A SPACIOUS Hive well stock'd with Bees,
That lived in Luxury and Ease;
And yet as fam'd for Laws and Arms,
As yielding large and early Swarms;
Was counted the great Nursery [5]
Of Sciences and Industry.
No Bees had better Government,
More Fickleness, or less Content.
They were not Slaves to Tyranny,
Nor ruled by wild Democracy; [10]
But Kings, that could not wrong, because
Their Power was circumscrib'd by Laws.

These Insects lived like Men, and all
Our Actions they perform'd in small:
They did whatever's done in Town, [15]
And what belongs to Sword, or Gown:
Tho' th'Artful Works, by nible Slight;
Of minute Limbs, 'scaped Human Sight
Yet we've no Engines; Labourers,
Ships, Castles, Arms, Artificers, [20]
Craft, Science, Shop, or Instrument,
But they had an Equivalent:
Which, since their Language is unknown,
Must be call'd, as we do our own.
As grant, that among other Things [25]
They wanted Dice, yet they had Kings;
And those had Guards; from whence we may
Justly conclude, they had some Play;
Unless a Regiment be shewn
Of Soldiers, that make use of none. [30]

Vast Numbers thronged the fruitful Hive;
Yet those vast Numbers made 'em thrive;
Millions endeavouring to supply
Each other's Lust and Vanity;
Whilst other Millions were employ'd, [35]
To see their Handy-works destroy'd;
They furnish'd half the Universe;
Yet had more Work than Labourers.
Some with vast Stocks, and little Pains
Jump'd into Business of great Gains; [40]
And some were damn'd to Sythes and Spades,
And all those hard laborious Trades;
Where willing Wretches daily sweat,
And wear out Strength and Limbs to eat:
Whilst others follow'd Mysteries, [45]
To which few Folks bind Prentices;
That want no Stock, but that of Brass,
And may set up without a Cross;
As Sharpers, Parasites, Pimps, Players,
Pick-Pockets, Coiners, Quacks, Sooth-Sayers, [50]
And all those, that, in Enmity
With down-right Working, cunningly
Convert to their own Use the Labour
Of their good-natur'd heedless Neighbour:
These were called Knaves; but, bar the Name, [55]
The grave Industrious were the Same.
All Trades and Places knew some Cheat,
No Calling was without Deceit.

The Lawyers, of whose Art the Basis
Was raising Feuds and splitting Cases, [60]
Opposed all Registers, that Cheats
Might make more Work with dipt Estates;
As were't unlawful, that one's own,
Without a Law-Suit, should be known.
They kept off Hearings wilfully, [65]
To finger the retaining Fee;
And to defend a wicked Cause,
Examin'd and survey'd the Laws;
As Burglars Shops and Houses do;
To find out where they'd best break through. [70]

Physicians valued Fame and Wealth
Above the drooping Patient's Health,
Or their own Skill: The greatest Part
Study'd, instead of Rules of Art,
Grave pensive Looks, and dull Behaviour; [75]
To gain th'Apothecary's Favour,
The Praise of Mid wives, Priests and all,
That served at Birth, or Funeral;
To bear with th'ever-talking Tribe,
And hear my Lady's Aunt prescribe; [80]
With formal Smile, and kind How d'ye,
To fawn on all the Family;
And, which of all the greatest Curse is,
T'endure th'Impertinence of Nurses.

Among the many Priests of Jove, [85]
Hir'd to draw Blessings from Above,
Some few were learn'd and eloquent,
But Thousands hot and ignorant:
Yet all past Muster, that could hide
Their Sloth, Lust, Avarice and Pride; [90]
For which, they were as famed, as Taylors
For Cabbage; or for Brandy, Sailors:
Some meagre look'd, and meanly clad
Would mystically pray for Bread,
Meaning by that an ample Store, [95]
Yet lit'rally receiv'd no more;
And, whilst these holy Drudges starv'd,
Some lazy Ones, for which they serv'd,
Indulg'd their Ease, with all the Graces
Of Health and Plenty in their Faces. [100]

The Soldiers, that were forced to fight,
If they survived, got Honour by't;
Tho' some, that shunn'd the bloody Fray,
Had Limbs shot off, that ran away:
Some valiant Gen'rals fought the Foe; [105]
Others took Bribes to let them go:
Some ventur'd always, where 'twas warm;
Lost now a Leg, and then an Arm;
Till quite disabled, and put by,
They lived on half their Salary; [110]
Whilst others never came in Play,
And staid at Home for Double Pay.

Their Kings were serv'd; but Knavishly
Cheated by their own Ministry;
Many, that for their Welfare slaved, [115]
Robbing the very Crown they saved:
Pensions were small, and they lived high,
Yet boasted of their Honesty.
Calling, whene'er they strain'd their Right,
The slipp'ry Trick a Perquisite; [120]
And, when Folks understood their Cant,
They chang'd that for Emolument;
Unwilling to be short, or plain,
In any thing concerning Gain:
For there was not a Bee, but would [125]
Get more, I won't say, than he should;
But than he dared to let them know,
That pay'd for't; as your Gamesters do,
That, tho' at fair Play, ne'er will own
Before the Losers what they've won. [130]

But who can all their Frauds repeat!
The very Stuff, which in the Street
They sold for Dirt t'enrich the Ground,
Was often by the Buyers sound
Sophisticated with a Quarter [135]
Of Good-for-nothing, Stones and Mortar;
Tho' Flail had little Cause to mutter,
Who sold the other Salt for Butter.

Justice her self, famed for fair Dealing,
By Blindness had not lost her Feeling; [140]
Her Left Hand, which the Scales should hold,
Had often dropt 'em, bribed with Gold;
And, tho' she seem'd impartial,
Where Punishment was corporal,
Pretended to a reg'lar Course, [145]
In Murther, and all Crimes of Force;
Tho' some, first Pillory'd for Cheating,
Were hang'd in Hemp of their own beating;
Yet, it was thought, the Sword the bore
Check'd but the Desp'rate and the Poor; [150]
That, urg'd by mere Necessity,
Were tied up to the wretched Tree
For Crimes, which not deserv'd that Fate,
But to secure the Rich, and Great.

Thus every Part was full of Vice, [155]
Yet the whole Mass a Paradice;
Flatter'd in Peace, and fear'd in Wars
They were th'Esteem of Foreigners,
And lavish of their Wealth and Lives,
The Ballance of all other Hives. [160]
Such were the Blessings of that State;
Their Crimes conspired to make 'em Great;
And Vertue, who from Politicks
Had learn'd a Thousand cunning Tricks,
Was, by their happy Influence, [165]
Made Friends with Vice: And ever since
The worst of all the Multitude
Did something for the common Good.

This was the State's Craft, that maintain'd
The Whole, of which each Part complain'd: [170]
This, as in Musick Harmony,
Made Jarrings in the Main agree;
Parties directly opposite
Assist each oth'r, as 'twere for Spight;
And Temp'rance with Sobriety [175]
Serve Drunkenness and Gluttonny.

The Root of evil Avarice,
That damn'd ill-natur'd baneful Vice,
Was Slave to Prodigality,
That Noble Sin; whilst Luxury. [180]
Employ'd a Million of the Poor,
And odious Pride a Million more
Envy it self, and Vanity
Were Ministers of Industry;
Their darling Folly, Fickleness [185]
In Diet, Furniture, and Dress,
That strange, ridic'lous Vice, was made
The very Wheel, that turn'd the Trade.
Their Laws and Cloaths were equally
Objects of Mutability; [190]
For, what was well done for a Time,
In half a Year became a Crime;
Yet whilst they alter'd thus their Laws,
Still finding and correcting Flaws,
They mended by Inconstancy [195]
Faults, which no Prudence could foresee.

Thus Vice nursed Ingenuity,
Which join'd with Time; and Industry
Had carry'd Life's Conveniencies,
It's real Pleasures, Comforts, Ease, [200]
To such a Height, the very Poor
Lived better than the Rich before;
And nothing could be added more:

How vain is Mortals Happiness!
Had they but known the Bounds of Bliss; [205]
And, that Perfection here below
Is more, than Gods can well bestow,
The grumbling Brutes had been content
With Ministers and Government.
But they, at every ill Success, [210]
Like Creatures lost without Redress,
Cursed Politicians, Armies, Fleets;
Whilst every one cry'd, Damn the Cheats,
And would, tho' Conscious of his own,
In Others barb'rously bear none. [215]

One, that had got a Princely Store,
By cheating Master, King, and Poor,
Dared cry aloud; The Land must sink
For all its Fraud; And whom d'ye think
The Sermonizing Rascal chid? [220]
A Glover that sold Lamb for Kid.

The last Thing was not done amiss,
Or cross'd the Publick Business;
But all the Rogues cry'd brazenly,
Good Gods, had we but Honesty! [225]
Merc'ry smiled at th'Impudence;
And Others call'd it want of Sence,
Always to rail at what they loved:
But Jove, with Indignation moved,
At last in Anger swore, he'd rid [230]
The bawling Hive of Fraud, and did.
The very Moment it departs,
And Honsty fills all their Hearts;
There shews 'em, like the Instructive Tree,
Those Crimes, which they're ashamed to see? [235]
Which now in Silence they confess,
By Blushing at their Uglyness;
Like Children, that would hide their Faults,
And by their Colour own their Thoughts;
Imag'ning, when they're look'd upon, [240]
That others see, what they have done.

But, Oh ye Gods! What Consternation,
[illeg.] vast and sudden was the Alteration!
In half an Hour, the Nation round,
Meat fell a Penny in the Pound. [245]
The Mask Hypocrisie's [illeg.] down,
From the great [illeg.]
And some, in [illeg.] known,
Appear'd like Strangers in their own.
The Bar was silent from that Day; [250]
For now the willing Debtors pay,
Even what's by Creditors forgot;
Who quitted them, who had it not.
Those, that were in the Wrong, stood mute,
And dropt the patch'd vexatious Suit. [255]
On which, since nothing less can thrive,
Than Lawyers in an honest Hive,
All, except those, that got enough,
With Ink-horns by their Sides trooped off.

Justice hang'd some, set others free; [260]
And, after Goal-delivery,
Her Presence be'ng no more requier'd,
With all her Train, and Pomp retir'd.
First marched 'some Smiths, with Locks and Grates,
Fetters, and Doors with Iron-Plates; [265]
Next Goalers, Turnkeys, and Assistants:
Before the Goddess, at some distance,
Her cheif and faithful Minister
Squire Catch, the Laws great Finisher,
Bore not th'imaginary Sword, [270]
But his own Tools, an Ax and Cord;
Then on a Cloud the Hood-wink'd fair
Justice her self was push'd by Air:
About her Chariot, and behind,
Were Sergeants, 'Bums of every kind, [275]
Tip-Staffs, and all those Officers,
That squeese a Living out of Tears.

Tho' Physick liv'd, whilst Folks were ill,
None would prescribe, but Bees of Skill;
Which, through the Hive dispers'd so wide, [280]
That none of 'em had need to ride,
Waved vain Disputes; and strove to free
The Patients of their Misery;
Left Drugs in cheating Countries grown,
And used the Product of their own, [285]
Knowing the Gods sent no Disease
To Nations without remedies.

Their Clergy rouz'd from Laziness,
Laid not their Charge on Journey-Bees;
But serv'd themselves, exempt from Vice, [290]
The Gods with Pray'r and Sacrifice;
All those, that were unfit, or knew,
Their Service might be spared, withdrew;
Nor was their Business for so many,
(If th'Honest stand in need of any.) [295]
Few only with the High-Priest staid,
To whom the rest Obedience paid:
Himself, employ'd in holy Cares;
Resign'd to others State Affairs:
He chased no Starv'ling from his Door, [300]
Nor pinch'd the Wages of the Poor:
But at his House the Hungry's fed,
The Hireling finds unmeasur'd Bread,
The needy Trav'ler Board and Bed.

Among the King's great Ministers, [305]
And all th'inferiour Officers
The Change was great; for frugally
They now lived on their Salary.
That a poor Bee should Ten times [illeg.]
To ask his Due, a [illeg.] Sun, [310]
And by some well [illeg.]
To give a Crown, or ne'er be [illeg.]
Would now be called a down-right [illeg.]
Tho' formerly a Perquisite.
All Places; managed first by Three, [315]
Who watch'd each other's Knavery,
And often for a Fellow-feeling,
Promoted, one anothers Stealing,
Are happily supply'd by one;
By which some Thousands more are gone. [320]

No Honour now could be content,
To live, and owe for what was spent.
Liveries in Brokers Shops are hung,
They part with Coaches for a Song;
Sell Stately Horses by whole Sets; [325]
And Country Houses to pay Debts.

Vain Cost is shunn'd as much as Fraud;
They have no forces kept Abroad;
Laugh at the Esteem of Foreigners,
And empty Glory got by Wars; [330]
They fight but for their Country's Sake,
When Right or Liberty's at Stake.

Now mind the glorious Hive, and see,
How Honesty and Trade agree:
The Shew is gone, it thins apace; [335]
And looks with quite another Face,
For 'twas not only that they went,
By whom vast Sums were Yearly spent;
But Multitudes, that lived on them,
Were daily forc'd to do the same. [340]
In vain to other Trades they'd fly;
All were o're-stocked accordingly.

The Price of Land, and Houses falls
Mirac'lous Palaces, whose Walls,
Like those of Thebes, were raised by Play, [345]
Are to be let; whilst the once gay,
Well-seated Houshould Gods would be
More pleased t'expire in Flames, than see;
The mean Inscription on the Door
Smile at the lofty Ones they bore. [350]
The Building Trace is quite destroy'd,
Artificers are not employ'd;
No Limner for his Art is famed;
Stone-cutters, Garvers are not named.

Those, that remain'd, grown temp'rate, strive, [355]
So how to spend; but how to live;
And, when they paid the Tavern Score,
Resolv'd to enter it no more:
No Vintners Jilt in all the Hive
Could wear now Cloth of Gold and thrive; [360]
Nor [illeg.]; such vast sums advance,
For Burgundy and [illeg.];
The Courtier's gone, that with his Miss
Supp'd at his House on Christmass Peas;
Spending as much in two Hours stay, [365]
As keeps a Troop of Horse a Day.

The Haughty Chloe; to live Great,
Had made her Husband rob the State:
But now she sells her Furniture,
Which the Indies had been ransack'd for; [370]
Contracts the expensive Bill of Fare,
And wears her strong Suit a whole Year:
The slight and fickle Age is past;
And Cloaths, as wel as Fashions last.
Weavers that ioyn'd rich Silk with [illeg.], [375]
And all the Trades subordinate,
Are gone. Still Peace and Plenty reign,
And every thing is cheap, tho' plain;
Kind Nature, free from Gard'ners Force,
Allows all Fruits in her own Course; [380]
But Rarities cannot be had,
Where Pains to get 'em are not paid.

As Pride and Luxury decrease,
So by degrees they leave the Seas,
Not Merchants now; but Companies [385]
Remove whole Manufacturies.
All Arts and Crafts neglected lie;
Content the Bane of Industry,
Makes 'em admire their homely Store,
And neither seek, nor covet more. [390]

So few in the vast Hive remain;
The Hundredth part they can't maintain
Against th'Insults of numerous Foes;
Whom yet they valiantly oppose;
Till some well-fenced Retreat is found; [395]
And here they die, or stand their Ground,
No Hireling in their Armies known;
But bravely fighting for their own;
Their Courage and Integrity
At last were crown'd with Victory. [400]
They triumph'd not without their Cost,
For many Thousand Bees were lost.
Hard'ned with Toils, and Exercise
They counted Ease it self a Vice;
Which so improv'd their Temperance, [405]
That to avoid Extravagance,
They flew into a hollow tree,
Blest with content and Honesty.

THEN leave Complaints: Fools only strive
To make a Great an honest Hive. [410]
T'enjoy the World's Conveniencies,
Be famed in War, yet live in Ease
Without great Vices, is a vain
Eutopia seated in the Brain.
Fraud, Luxury, and Pride must live; [415]
We [illeg.] we the Benefits receive.
Hunger's a dreadful Plague no doubt,
Yet who digests or thrives without?
Do we not owe the Growth of Wine
To the dry, crooked, shabby Vine? [420]
Which, whist its [illeg.] neglected flood,
Choak'd other Plants, and ran to Wood;
But blest us with his Noble Fruit;
As soon as it was tied, and cut:
So Vice is beneficial found, [425]
When it's by Justice [illeg.], and bound;
Nay, where the People would be great,
As necessary to the State,
At Hunger is to make 'em eat.
Bare Vertue can't make Nations live [430]
In Splendour; they, that would revive
A Golden Age, must be as free,
For Acorns, as for Honesty.

Thomas Paine, The Crisis

December 23, 1776

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

Whether the independence of the continent was declared too soon, or delayed too long, I will not now enter into as an argument; my own simple opinion is, that had it been eight months earlier, it would have been much better. We did not make a proper use of last winter, neither could we, while we were in a dependent state. However, the fault, if it were one, was all our own [NOTE]; we have none to blame but ourselves. But no great deal is lost yet. All that Howe has been doing for this month past, is rather a ravage than a conquest, which the spirit of the Jerseys, a year ago, would have quickly repulsed, and which time and a little resolution will soon recover.
I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.

'Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them. Britain has trembled like an ague at the report of a French fleet of flat-bottomed boats; and in the fourteenth [fifteenth] century the whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back like men petrified with fear; and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment! Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world. Many a disguised Tory has lately shown his head, that shall penitentially solemnize with curses the day on which Howe arrived upon the Delaware.

As I was with the troops at Fort Lee, and marched with them to the edge of Pennsylvania, I am well acquainted with many circumstances, which those who live at a distance know but little or nothing of. Our situation there was exceedingly cramped, the place being a narrow neck of land between the North River and the Hackensack. Our force was inconsiderable, being not one-fourth so great as Howe could bring against us. We had no army at hand to have relieved the garrison, had we shut ourselves up and stood on our defence. Our ammunition, light artillery, and the best part of our stores, had been removed, on the apprehension that Howe would endeavor to penetrate the Jerseys, in which case Fort Lee could be of no use to us; for it must occur to every thinking man, whether in the army or not, that these kind of field forts are only for temporary purposes, and last in use no longer than the enemy directs his force against the particular object which such forts are raised to defend. Such was our situation and condition at Fort Lee on the morning of the 20th of November, when an officer arrived with information that the enemy with 200 boats had landed about seven miles above; Major General [Nathaniel] Green, who commanded the garrison, immediately ordered them under arms, and sent express to General Washington at the town of Hackensack, distant by the way of the ferry = six miles.

Our first object was to secure the bridge over the Hackensack, which laid up the river between the enemy and us, about six miles from us, and three from them. General Washington arrived in about three-quarters of an hour, and marched at the head of the troops towards the bridge, which place I expected we should have a brush for; however, they did not choose to dispute it with us, and the greatest part of our troops went over the bridge, the rest over the ferry, except some which passed at a mill on a small creek, between the bridge and the ferry, and made their way through some marshy grounds up to the town of Hackensack, and there passed the river. We brought off as much baggage as the wagons could contain, the rest was lost. The simple object was to bring off the garrison, and march them on till they could be strengthened by the Jersey or Pennsylvania militia, so as to be enabled to make a stand. We staid four days at Newark, collected our out-posts with some of the Jersey militia, and marched out twice to meet the enemy, on being informed that they were advancing, though our numbers were greatly inferior to theirs. Howe, in my little opinion, committed a great error in generalship in not throwing a body of forces off from Staten Island through Amboy, by which means he might have seized all our stores at Brunswick, and intercepted our march into Pennsylvania; but if we believe the power of hell to be limited, we must likewise believe that their agents are under some providential control.

I shall not now attempt to give all the particulars of our retreat to the Delaware; suffice it for the present to say, that both officers and men, though greatly harassed and fatigued, frequently without rest, covering, or provision, the inevitable consequences of a long retreat, bore it with a manly and martial spirit. All their wishes centred in one, which was, that the country would turn out and help them to drive the enemy back. Voltaire has remarked that King William never appeared to full advantage but in difficulties and in action; the same remark may be made on General Washington, for the character fits him. There is a natural firmness in some minds which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude; and I reckon it among those kind of public blessings, which we do not immediately see, that God hath blessed him with uninterrupted health, and given him a mind that can even flourish upon care.
I shall conclude this paper with some miscellaneous remarks on the state of our affairs; and shall begin with asking the following question, Why is it that the enemy have left the New England provinces, and made these middle ones the seat of war? The answer is easy: New England is not infested with Tories, and we are. I have been tender in raising the cry against these men, and used numberless arguments to show them their danger, but it will not do to sacrifice a world either to their folly or their baseness. The period is now arrived, in which either they or we must change our sentiments, or one or both must fall. And what is a Tory? Good God! What is he? I should not be afraid to go with a hundred Whigs against a thousand Tories, were they to attempt to get into arms. Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, never can be brave.

But, before the line of irrecoverable separation be drawn between us, let us reason the matter together: Your conduct is an invitation to the enemy, yet not one in a thousand of you has heart enough to join him. Howe is as much deceived by you as the American cause is injured by you. He expects you will all take up arms, and flock to his standard, with muskets on your shoulders. Your opinions are of no use to him, unless you support him personally, for 'tis soldiers, and not Tories, that he wants.

I once felt all that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against the mean principles that are held by the Tories: a noted one, who kept a tavern at Amboy, was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this unfatherly expression, "Well! give me peace in my day." Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;" and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty. Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them. A man can distinguish himself between temper and principle, and I am as confident, as I am that God governs the world, that America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion. Wars, without ceasing, will break out till that period arrives, and the continent must in the end be conqueror; for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.

America did not, nor does not want force; but she wanted a proper application of that force. Wisdom is not the purchase of a day, and it is no wonder that we should err at the first setting off. From an excess of tenderness, we were unwilling to raise an army, and trusted our cause to the temporary defence of a well-meaning militia. A summer's experience has now taught us better; yet with those troops, while they were collected, we were able to set bounds to the progress of the enemy, and, thank God! they are again assembling. I always considered militia as the best troops in the world for a sudden exertion, but they will not do for a long campaign. Howe, it is probable, will make an attempt on this city [Philadelphia]; should he fail on this side the Delaware, he is ruined. If he succeeds, our cause is not ruined. He stakes all on his side against a part on ours; admitting he succeeds, the consequence will be, that armies from both ends of the continent will march to assist their suffering friends in the middle states; for he cannot go everywhere, it is impossible. I consider Howe as the greatest enemy the Tories have; he is bringing a war into their country, which, had it not been for him and partly for themselves, they had been clear of. Should he now be expelled, I wish with all the devotion of a Christian, that the names of Whig and Tory may never more be mentioned; but should the Tories give him encouragement to come, or assistance if he come, I as sincerely wish that our next year's arms may expel them from the continent, and the Congress appropriate their possessions to the relief of those who have suffered in well-doing. A single successful battle next year will settle the whole. America could carry on a two years' war by the confiscation of the property of disaffected persons, and be made happy by their expulsion. Say not that this is revenge, call it rather the soft resentment of a suffering people, who, having no object in view but the good of all, have staked their own all upon a seemingly doubtful event. Yet it is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice.

Quitting this class of men, I turn with the warm ardor of a friend to those who have nobly stood, and are yet determined to stand the matter out: I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that state, but on every state: up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but "show your faith by your works," that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far and the near, the home counties and the back, the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike. The heart that feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light. Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to "bind me in all cases whatsoever" to his absolute will, am I to suffer it? What signifies it to me, whether he who does it is a king or a common man; my countryman or not my countryman; whether it be done by an individual villain, or an army of them? If we reason to the root of things we shall find no difference; neither can any just cause be assigned why we should punish in the one case and pardon in the other. Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man. I conceive likewise a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being, who at the last day shall be shrieking to the rocks and mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the widow, and the slain of America.

There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one. There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf, and we ought to guard equally against both. Howe's first object is, partly by threats and partly by promises, to terrify or seduce the people to deliver up their arms and receive mercy. The ministry recommended the same plan to Gage, and this is what the tories call making their peace, "a peace which passeth all understanding" indeed! A peace which would be the immediate forerunner of a worse ruin than any we have yet thought of. Ye men of Pennsylvania, do reason upon these things! Were the back counties to give up their arms, they would fall an easy prey to the Indians, who are all armed: this perhaps is what some Tories would not be sorry for. Were the home counties to deliver up their arms, they would be exposed to the resentment of the back counties who would then have it in their power to chastise their defection at pleasure. And were any one state to give up its arms, that state must be garrisoned by all Howe's army of Britons and Hessians to preserve it from the anger of the rest. Mutual fear is the principal link in the chain of mutual love, and woe be to that state that breaks the compact. Howe is mercifully inviting you to barbarous destruction, and men must be either rogues or fools that will not see it. I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.

I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it. While our army was collected, Howe dared not risk a battle; and it is no credit to him that he decamped from the White Plains, and waited a mean opportunity to ravage the defenceless Jerseys; but it is great credit to us, that, with a handful of men, we sustained an orderly retreat for near an hundred miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field pieces, the greatest part of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. None can say that our retreat was precipitate, for we were near three weeks in performing it, that the country might have time to come in. Twice we marched back to meet the enemy, and remained out till dark. The sign of fear was not seen in our camp, and had not some of the cowardly and disaffected inhabitants spread false alarms through the country, the Jerseys had never been ravaged. Once more we are again collected and collecting; our new army at both ends of the continent is recruiting fast, and we shall be able to open the next campaign with sixty thousand men, well armed and clothed. This is our situation, and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils — a ravaged country — a depopulated city — habitations without safety, and slavery without hope — our homes turned into barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for, whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.

December 23, 1776

Monday, November 26, 2007

Turgot, Reflections on the Formation and Distribution of Wealth

M. Turgot, the Author of the Essay, who, for three years held the important office of Intendant or Comptroller of the finances of FRANCE, was, without exception, one of the first political characters which the present century produced: In the various employments of the Master of Requests, Intendant of the province of Lismoges, Minister of the French marine, and Comptroller General of the finances of France, he laboured assiduously to benefit his country. This, however, is his least eulogium: his writings entitle him to a higher praise; and he there shines in the revered character of a friend of mankind.
An author who sends into the world detached pieces will seldom have the good fortune to reach that degree of celebrity which attends a more voluminous compiler, although his works may at the same time possess a greater degree of intrinsic merit. Such has been the fate of M. Turgot: his writings, being in detached pieces, are little known beyond the limits of his own country; nor even there have his countrymen paid the tribute due to his excellent productions, by collecting and publishing them together.
His Essays on the Commerce of Grain, on Loans, on Mines and Quarries, the preambles to the arrests issued during his administration, and the various important articles in the Encyclopedæa on Etymology, Existence, Expansibility, Fair and Foundation, are all pieces of great merit; but in no one does his capacious mind shine forth with greater lustre than in the work, of which a translation is now offered to the public; a work, on the foundation of which was formed, one of the most approved and justly celebrated treatises in the English language, Dr. Adam Smith's Essay on the Wealth of Nations.
This little piece fell by chance into the hands of the translator some time since, and his admiration of it could only be equalled by his surprize, at finding that no translation had appeared in the English language.—In order, therefore, that such of his countrymen as have not perused this admirable treatise in the original, may not be deprived of the important knowledge it contains, he has ventured to give it to the public in an English dress, in which he has been studious to retain the Author's sense and meaning.
Ostendent terris hunc tantum, fata.—Aen. 6.
§1. The impossibility of the existence of Commerce upon the supposition of an equal division of lands, where every man should possess only what is necessary for his own support.
If the land was divided among all the inhabitants of a country, so that each of them possessed precisely the quantity necessary for his support, and nothing more; it is evident that all of them being equal, no one would work for another. Neither would any of them possess wherewith to pay another for his labour, for each person having only such a quantity of land as was necessary to produce a subsistence, would consume all he should gather, and would not have any thing to give in exchange for the labour of others.
§2. The above hypothesis neither has existed nor could continue. The diversity of soils and multiplicity of wants, compel an exchange of the productions of the earth, against other productions.
This hypothesis never can have existed, because the earth has been cultivated before it has been divided; the cultivation itself having been the only motive for a division, and for that law which secures to every one his property. For the first persons who have employed themselves in cultivation, have probably worked as much land as their strength would permit, and, consequently more than was necessary for their own nourishment.
If this state could have existed, it could not possibly be durable; each one gathering from his field only a subsistence, and not having wherewith to pay others for their labour, would not be enabled to supply his other wants of lodging, cloathing, &c. &c., except by the labour of his hands, which would be nearly impossible, as every soil does not produce every material.
The man whose land was only fit to produce grain, and would neither bring forth cotton or flax, would want linen to cloath him. Another would have ground proper for cotton, which would not yield grain. One would want wood for his fire, and another be destitute of corn to support him. Experience would soon teach every one what species of productions his land was best adapted to, and he would confine himself to the cultivation of it; in order to procure himself those things he stood in need of, by an exchange with his neighbours, who, having on their part acquired the same experience, would have cultivated those productions which were best suited to their fields, and would have abandoned the cultivation of any other.
§3. The productions of the earth require long and difficult preparations, before they are rendered fit to supply the wants of men.
The productions which the earth supplies to satisfy the different wants of man, will not, for the most part, administer to those wants, in the state nature affords them; it is necessary they should undergo different operations, and be prepared by art. Wheat must be converted into flour, then into bread; hides must be dressed or tanned; wool and cotton must be spun; silk must be taken from the cod; hemp and flax must be soaked, peeled, spun, and wove into different textures; then cut and sewed together again to make garments, &c. If the same man who cultivates on his own land these different articles, and who raises them to supply his wants, was obliged to perform all the intermediate operations himself, it is certain he would succeed very badly. The greater part of these preparations require care, attention, and a long experience; all which are only to be acquired by progressive labour, and that on a great quantity of materials. Let us refer, for example, to the preparation of hides: what labourer can pursue all the particular things necessary to those operations, which continue several months, sometimes several years? If he is able to do it, can he do it with a single hide? What a loss of time, of room, and of materials, which might be employed, either at the same time or successively, to tan a large quantity of skins! But should he even succeed in manning a single skin, and wants one pair of shoes, what will he do with the remainder? Will he kill an ox to make this pair of shoes? Will he cut down a tree to make a pair of wooden shoes? We may say the same thing of every other want of every other man, who, if he was reduced to his field, and the labour of his own hands, would waste much time, take much trouble, be very badly equipped in every respect and would also cultivate his lands very ill.
§4. The necessity of these preparations, bring on the exchange of productions for labour.
The same motive which has established the exchange of commodity for commodity, between the cultivators of lands of different natures, has also necessarily brought on the exchange of commodities for labour, between the cultivators and another portion of society, who shall have preferred the occupation of preparing and completing the productions of the earth, to the cultivation of it. Every one profits by this arrangement, for every one attaching himself to a peculiar species of labour, succeeds much better therein. The husbandman draws from his field the greatest quantity it is able to produce, and procures to himself, with greater facility, all the other objects of his wants, by an exchange of his superflux, than he could have done by his own labour. The shoemaker, by making shoes for the husbandman, secures to himself a portion of the harvest of the latter. Every workman labours for the wants of the workmen of every other trade, who, on their side, toil also for him.
§5. Pre-eminence of the husbandman who produces, over the artificer who prepares. The husbandman is the first mover in the circulation of labour: it is he who causes the earth to produce the wages of every artificer.
It must, however, be observed that the husbandman, furnishing every one with the most important and the most considerable objects of their consumption (I mean their food, and the materials of almost all manufactures) has the advantage of a greater degree of independence. His labour, among the different species of labour, appropriated to the different members of society, supports the same pre-eminence and priority, as the procuring of food did among the different works he was obliged, in his solitary state, to employ himself in, in order to minister to his wants of every kind. This is not a pre-eminence of honour or of dignity, but of physical necessity. The husbandman can, generally speaking, subsist without the labour of other workmen; but no other workmen can labour, if the husbandman does not provide him wherewith to exist. It is this circulation, which, by a reciprocal exchange of wants, renders mankind necessary to each other, and which forms the bond of society: it is therefore the labour of the husbandman which gives the first movement. What his industry causes the earth to produce beyond his personal wants, is the only fund for the wages, which all the other members of society receive in recompence for their toil. The latter, by availing themselves of the produce of this exchange, to purchase in their turn the commodities of the husbandman, only return to him precisely what they have received. There is here a very essential difference between these two species of labour, on which it is necessary to reflect, and to be well assured of the ground on which they stand, before we trust to the innumerable consequences which flow from them.
§6. The wages of the workman is limited by the competition among those who work for a subsistence. He only gains a livelihood.
The mere workman, who depends only on his hands and his industry, has nothing but such part of his labour as he is able to dispose of to others. He sells it at a cheaper or a dearer price; but this high or low price does not depend on himself alone; it results from the agreement he has made with the person who employs him. The latter pays him as little as he can help, and as he has the choice from among a great number of workmen, he prefers the person who works cheapest. The workmen are therefore obliged to lower their price in opposition to each other. In every species of labour it must, and, in effect, it does happen, that the wages of the workman is confined merely to what is necessary to procure him a subsistence.
§7. The husbandman is the only one whose industry produces more than the wages of his labour. He, therefore, is the only source of all Wealth.
The situation of the husbandman is materially different. The soil, independent of any other man, or of any agreement, pays him immediately the price of his toil. Nature does not bargain with him, or compel him to content himself with what is absolutely necessary. What she grants is neither limited to his wants, nor to a conditional valuation of the price of his day's work. It is a physical consequence of the fertility of the soil, and of justice, rather than of the difficulty of the means, which he has employed to render the soil fruitful. As soon as the labour of the husbandman produces more than sufficient for his necessities, he can, with the excess which nature affords him of pure freewill beyond the wages of his toil, purchase the labour of other members of society. The latter, in selling to him, only procures a livelihood; but the husbandman, besides his subsistence, collects an independent wealth at his disposal, which he has not purchased, but which he can sell. He is, therefore, the only source of all those riches which, by their circulation, animates the labours of society: because he is the only one whose labour produces more than the wages of his toil.
§8. First division of society into two classes, the one productive, or the cultivators, the other stipendiary, or the artificers.
Here then is the whole society divided, by a necessity founded on the nature of things, into two classes, both industrious, one of which, by its labour, produces, or rather draws from the earth, riches continually renewing, which supply the whole society with subsistence, and with materials for all its wants; while the other is employed in giving to the said materials such preparations and forms as render them proper for the use of man, sells his labour to the first, and receives in return a subsistence. The first may be called the productive, the latter the stipendiary class.
§9. In the first ages of society, the proprietors could not be distinguished from the cultivators.
Hitherto we have not distinguished the husbandman from the proprietor of the land; and in the first origin they were not in fact so distinguished. It is by the labour of those who have first cultivated the fields, and who have inclosed them to secure their harvest, that all land has ceased to be common, and that a property in the soil has been established. Until societies have been formed, and until the public strength, or the laws, becoming superior to the force of individuals, have been able to guarantee to every one the tranquil possession of his property, against all invasion from without; the property in a field could only be secured as it had been acquired, by continuing to cultivate it; the proprietor could not be assured of having his field cultivated by the help of another; and that person taking all the trouble, could not easily have comprehended that the whole harvest did not belong to him. On the other hand, in this early age, when every industrious man would find as much land as he wanted, he would not be tempted to labour for another. It necessarily follows, that every proprietor must cultivate his own field or abandon it entirely.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Agreement of the People, 1647 (Part of the Putney Debates)

74. The Agreement of the People, as presented to the Council of the Army.

[An agreement of the People for a firm and present peace, &c., E. 412, 21. October 38, 1647. See Great Civil War, iii. 383-394.]

An Agreement of the People for a firm and present peace upon grounds of common right.
Having by our late labours and hazards made it appear to the world at how high a rate we value our just freedom, and God having so far owned our cause as to deliver the enemies thereof into our hands, we do now hold ourselves bound in mutual duty to each other to take the best care we can for the future to avoid both the danger of returning into a slavish condition and the chargeable remedy of another war; for, as it cannot be imagined that so many of our countrymen would have opposed us in this quarrel if they had understood their own good, so may we safely promise to ourselves that, when our common rights and liberties shall be cleared, their endeavours will be disappointed that seek to make themselves our masters. Since, therefore, our former oppressions and scarce-yet-ended troubles have been occasioned, either by want of frequent national meetings in Council, or by rendering those meetings ineffectual, we are fully agreed and resolved to provide that hereafter our representatives be neither left to an uncertainty for the time nor made useless to the ends for which they are intended. In order whereunto we declare: —

That the people of England, being at this day very unequally distributed by Counties, Cities, and Boroughs for the election of their deputies in Parliament, ought to be more indifferently proportioned according to the number of the inhabitants; the circumstances whereof for number, place, and manner are to be set down before the end of this present Parliament.


That, to prevent the many inconveniences apparently arising from the long continuance of the same persons in authority, this present Parliament be dissolved upon the last day of September which shall be in the year of our Lord 1648


That the people do, of course, choose themselves a Parliament once in two years, viz. upon the first Thursday in every 2d March[1], after the manner as shall be prescribed before the end of this Parliament, to begin to sit upon the first Thursday in April following, at Westminster or such other place as shall be appointed from time to time by the preceding Representatives, and to continue till the last day of September then next ensuing, and no longer.


That the power of this, and all future Representatives of this Nation, is inferior only to theirs who choose them, and doth extend, without the consent or concurrence of any other person or persons, to the enacting, altering, and repealing of laws, to the erecting and abolishing of offices and courts, to the appointing, removing, and calling to account magistrates and officers of all degrees, to the making war and peace, to the treating with foreign States, and, generally, to whatsoever is not expressly or impliedly reserved by the represented to themselves: Which are as followeth.

1. That matters of religion and the ways of God's worship are not at all entrusted by us to any human power, because therein we cannot remit or exceed a tittle of what our consciences dictate to be the mind of God without wilful sin: nevertheless the public way of instructing the nation (so it be not compulsive) is referred to their discretion.

2. That the matter of impresting and constraining any of us to serve in the wars is against our freedom; and therefore we do not allow it in our Representatives; the rather, because money (the sinews of war), being always at their disposal, they can never want numbers of men apt enough to engage in any just cause.

3. That after the dissolution of this present Parliament, no person be at any time questioned for anything said or done in reference to the late public differences, otherwise than in execution of the judgments of the present Representatives or House of Commons.

4. That in all laws made or to be made every person may be bound alike, and that no tenure, estate, charter, degree, birth, or place do confer any exemption from the ordinary course of legal proceedings whereunto others are subjected.

5. That as the laws ought to be equal, so they must be good, and not evidently destructive to the safety and well-being of the people.

These things we declare to be our native rights, and therefore are agreed and resolved to maintain them with our utmost possibilities against all opposition whatsoever; being compelled thereunto not only by the examples of our ancestors, whose blood was often spent in vain for the recovery of their freedoms, Buffering themselves through fraudulent accommodations to be still deluded of the fruit of their victories, but also by our own woeful experience, who, having long expected and dearly earned the establishment of these certain rules of government, are yet made to depend for the settlement of our peace and freedom upon him that intended our bondage and brought a cruel war upon us.

[1] I. e. in March in every other year.

The Putney Debates

The Putney Debates
The Putney Debates were a series of discussions between factions of the New Model Army and the Levellers concerning a new constitution for England. The debates were held at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Putney, Surrey, in October and November 1647.

During the summer of 1647, the attempts by the "Grandees" Cromwell and Ireton to negotiate a settlement with King Charles in the aftermath of the First Civil War had lost them the support of military and civilian radicals. The Levellers criticised Ireton in particular for servility in his negotiations with the King and Parliament, and accused the Grandees of betraying the interests of the common soldiers and people of England. In October 1647, five of the most radical cavalry regiments elected new Agitators — known as the "New Agents" — to represent their views. The New Agents issued a political manifesto: The Case of the Armie Truly Stated, and endorsed the constitutional proposals drafted by civilian Levellers in the Agreement of the People. The radicals wanted a constitution based upon manhood suffrage ("one man, one vote"), biennial Parliaments and a reorganisation of parliamentary constituencies. Authority was to be vested in the House of Commons rather than the King and Lords. Certain "native rights" were declared sacrosanct for all Englishmen: freedom of conscience, freedom from impressment into the armed forces and equality before the law.

The Grandees responded by inviting the New Agents and their civilian supporters to debate their proposals before the General Council of the Army. In the absence of Lord-General Fairfax, the discussions were chaired by Lieutenant-General Oliver Cromwell. A committee was formed to finalise all constitutional proposals. Cromwell vetoed demands made by radicals who called for the overthrow of the Monarchy, and worked with Commissary-General Henry Ireton to moderate the extremism of the Levellers. Ireton insisted that his own Heads of the Proposals covered all the issues raised in the Case of the Armie and the Levellers' Agreement with far less radical disruption of society. Colonel Thomas Rainsborough emerged as the highest-ranking Leveller sympathiser, calling for Parliament to break off negotiations with the King and to force through a new constitution on its own terms. Other Leveller spokesmen were the Agitators Edward Sexby and William Allen, and civilians John Wildman and Maximilian Petty.

“...for really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he; and therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not bound in a strict sense to that government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under...”

Extract from Colonel Rainsborough's famous appeal for democratic rights for all men.

“...I think that no person hath a right to an interest or share in the disposing of the affairs of the kingdom, and in determining or choosing those that shall determine what laws we shall be ruled by here — no person hath a right to this, that hath not a permanent fixed interest in this kingdom...”

Extract from Henry Ireton's response to Rainsborough.

The debates began on 28 October 1647. For three days, the proceedings were transcribed verbatim by the secretary William Clarke and a team of stenographers. From 2 November, however, all recording ceased. The debates were not reported and Clarke's minutes were not published at the time. They were lost until 1890 when they were rediscovered at the library of Worcester College, Oxford, by the historian C.H. Firth and subsequently published as part of the Clarke Papers.

Much of the recorded debate centred around the franchise. The radicals regarded the right to vote as fundamental to all freeborn Englishmen — a right which had been acquired by fighting for English freedom in the civil war. Cromwell and Ireton, however, regarded the idea of manhood suffrage as tantamount to anarchy. To the indignation of the radicals, they insisted that the vote should be restricted to property owners, prompting Sexby, Rainsborough and others to ask what it was that the ordinary soldiers had been fighting for. After several days spent in heated debate, both sides appeared willing to compromise to a certain extent. The Levellers agreed that servants and alms-takers should be excluded from the franchise; the Grandees conceded that soldiers who had fought for Parliament should be granted the vote.
Although the Army Council did not carry the Levellers' proposal that the Agreement of the People should be adopted as the Army's official constitutional programme, a vote was secured for a mass rendezvous at which the Agreement would be presented to the troops. The radicals hoped that it would be adopted by popular consent of the soldiers, then pressed upon Parliament and the nation. However, Cromwell and Ireton were alarmed at the extremism of the Levellers. Fearing a collapse of constitutional authority, Cromwell was determined to maintain discipline in the Army at all costs. On 8 November, he proposed and carried a motion that the meeting of the Army Council should be temporarily suspended. The Agitators and representative officers were ordered back to their regiments. A new committee, consisting only of officers, was formed to draw up a manifesto in the name of Lord-General Fairfax and the Army Council to be presented to the troops in place of the Levellers' Agreement. The proposed general rendezvous was modified to three smaller reviews — resulting in the near-mutiny at Corkbush Field on 15 November 1647 and the suppression of the Army radicals.

Meanwhile, the escape of King Charles from Hampton Court on 11 November 1647 had dramatically changed the situation. The Army closed ranks as a Second CIvil War threatened. The representation of rank-and-file soldiers on the Army Council was quietly dropped early in 1648, and never tried again.

Oliver Cromwell, 1647, Heads of Proposals

71. The Heads of the Proposals offered by the Army.

The Heads of the Proposals agreed upon by his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax and the Council of the Army, to be tendered to the Commissioners of Parliament residing with the Army, and with them to be treated on by the Commissioners of the Army: containing the particulars of their desires in pursuance of their former declarations and papers, in order to the clearing and securing of the rights and liberties of the kingdom, and the settling a just and lasting peace. To which are added some further particular desires (for the removing and redressing of divers pressing grievances), being also comprised in or necessary pursuance of their former representations and papers appointed to be treated upon.

I. That (things hereafter proposed, being provided for by this Parliament) a certain period may (by Act of Parliament) be set for the ending of this Parliament (such period to be put within a year at most), and in the same Act provision to be made for the succession and constitution of Parliaments in future, as followeth:

1. That Parliaments may biennially be called and meet at a certain day, with such provision for the certainty thereof, as in the late Act was made for triennial Parliaments; and what further or other provision shall be found needful by the Parliament to reduce it to more certainty; and upon the passing of this, the said Act for triennial Parliaments to be repealed.
2. Each biennial Parliament to sit 120 days certain (unless adjourned or dissolved sooner by their own consent), afterwards to be adjournable or dissolvable by the King, and no Parliament to sit past 240 days from their first meeting, or some other limited number of days now to be agreed on; upon the expiration whereof each Parliament to dissolve of course, if not otherwise dissolved sooner.
3. The King, upon advice of the Council of State, in the intervals between biennial Parliaments, to call a Parliament extraordinary, provided it meet above 70 days before the next biennial day, and be dissolved at least 60 days before the same; so as the course of biennial elections may never be interrupted.
4. That this Parliament and each succeeding biennial Parliament, at or before adjournment or dissolution thereof, may appoint Committees to continue during the interval for such purposes as are in any of these Proposals referred to such Committees.
5. That the elections of the Commons for succeeding Parliaments may be distributed to all counties, or other parts or divisions of the kingdom, according to some rule of equality or proportion, so as all counties may have a number of Parliament members allowed to their choice, proportionable to the respective rates they bear in the common charges and burdens of the kingdom, according to some other rule of equality or proportion, to render the House of Commons (as near as may be) an equal representative of the whole; and in order thereunto, that a present consideration be had to take off the elections of burgesses for poor decayed or inconsiderable towns, and to give some present addition to the number of Parliament members for great counties that have now less than their due proportion, to bring all (at present), as near as may be, to such a rule of proportion as aforesaid.
6. That effectual provision be made for future freedom of elections, and certainty of due returns.
7. That the House of Commons alone have the power from time to time to set down further orders and rules for the ends expressed in the two last preceding articles, so as to reduce the elections of members for that House to more and more perfection of equality in the distribution, freedom in the election, order in the proceeding thereto, and certainty in the returns, with orders and rules (in that case) to be in laws.
8. That there be a liberty for entering dissents in the House of Commons, with provision that no member be censurable for ought said or voted in the House further than to exclusion from that trust; and that only by the judgment of the House itself.
9. That the judicial power, or power of final judgment in the Lords and Commons (and their power of exposition and application of law, without further appeal), may be cleared; and that no officer of justice, minister of state, or other person adjudged by them, may be capable of protection or pardon from the King without their advice or consent.
10. That the right and liberty of the Commons of England may be cleared and vindicated as to a due exemption from any judgment, trial or other proceeding against them by the House of Peers, without the concurring judgment of the House of Commons: as also from any other judgment, sentence or proceeding against them, other than by their equals, or according to the law of the land.
11. The same Act to provide that grand jurymen may be chosen by and for several parts or divisions of each county respectively, in some equal way (and not to remain as now, at the discretion of an Under-Sheriff to be put on or off), and that such grand jurymen for their respective counties, may at each Assize present the name of persons to be made Justices of the Peace from time to time, as the county hath need for any to be added to the Commission, and at the Summer Assize to present the names of three persons, out of whom the King may prick one to be Sheriff for the next year.

II. For the future security of Parliament and the militia in general, in order thereunto, that it be provided by Act of Parliament:
1. That the power of the militia by sea and land, during the space of ten years next ensuing, shall be ordered and disposed by the Lords and Commons assembled, and to be assembled in the Parliament or Parliaments of England, by such persons as they shall nominate and appoint for that purpose from time to time during the said space.
2. That the said power shall not be ordered, disposed or exercised by the King's Majesty that now is, or by any person or persons by any authority derived from him, during the said space, or at any time hereafter by His said Majesty, without the advice and consent of the said Lords and Commons, or of such Committees or Council in the intervals of Parliament as they shall appoint.
3. That during the same space of ten years the said Lords and Commons may by Bill or Ordinance raise and dispose of what moneys and for what forces they shall from time to time find necessary; as also for payment of the public debts and damages, and for all other the public uses of the kingdom.
4. And to the end the temporary security intended by the three particulars last precedent may be the better assured, it may therefore be provided,
That no subjects that have been in hostility against the Parliament in the late war, shall be capable of bearing any office of power or public trust in the Commonwealth during the space of five years, without the consent of Parliament or of the Council of State; or to sit as members or assistants of either House of Parliament, until the second biennial Parliament be passed.

III. For the present form of disposing the militia in order to the peace and safety of this kingdom and the service of Ireland:
1. That there be Commissioners for the Admiralty, with the Vice-Admiral and Rear-Admiral, now to be agreed on, with power for the forming, regulating, appointing of officers and providing for the Navy, and for ordering the same to, and in the ordinary service of the Kingdom; and that there be a sufficient provision and establishment for pay and maintenance thereof.
2. That there be a General for command of the laud forces that are to be in pay both in England, Ireland and Wales, both for field and garrison.
3. That there be Commissioners in the several counties for the standing militia of the respective counties (consisting of trained bands and auxiliaries not in pay), with power for the proportioning, forming, regulating, training and disciplining of them.
4. That there be a Council of State, with power to superintend and direct the several and particular powers of the militia last mentioned, for the peace and safety of this kingdom, and of Ireland.
5. That the same Council may have power as the King's Privy Council, for and in all foreign negotiations; provided that the making of war or peace with any other kingdom or state shall not be without the advice and consent of Parliament.
6. That the said power of the Council of State be put into the hands of trusty and able persons now to be agreed on, and the same persons to continue in that power (si bene se gesserint) for the certain term not exceeding seven years.
7. That there be a sufficient establishment now provided for the salary forces both in England and Ireland, the establishment to continue until two months after the meeting of the first biennial Parliament.

IV. That an Act be passed for disposing the great offices for ten years by the Lords and Commons in Parliament; or by such Committees as they shall appoint for that purpose in the intervals (with submission to the approbation of the next Parliament), and after ten years they to nominate three, and the King out of that number to appoint one for the succession upon any vacancy.

V. That an Act be passed for restraining of any Peers made since the 21st day of May, 1642, or to be hereafter made, from having any power to sit or vote in Parliament without consent of both Houses.

VI. That an Act be passed for recalling and making void all declarations and other proceedings against the Parliament, or against any that have acted by or under their authority in the late war, or in relation to it; and that the Ordinances for indemnity may be confirmed.

VII. That an Act be passed for making void all grants, &c. under the Great Seal, that was conveyed away from the Parliament, since the time that it was so conveyed away (except as in the Parliament's propositions), and for making those valid that have been or shall be passed under the Great Seal, made by the authority of both Houses of Parliament.

VIII. That an Act be passed for confirmation of the Treaties between the two kingdoms of England and Scotland, and for appointing conservators of the peace between them.

IX. That the Ordinance for taking away the Court of Wards and Liveries be confirmed by Act of Parliament; provided His Majesty's revenue be not damnified therein, nor those that last held offices in the same left without reparation some other way.

X. An Act to declare void the cessation of Ireland, &c., and to leave the prosecution of that war to the Lords and Commons in the Parliament of England.

XI. An Act to be passed to take away all coercive power, authority, and jurisdiction of Bishops and all other Ecclesiastical Officers whatsoever, extending to any civil penalties upon any: and to repeal all laws whereby the civil magistracy hath been, or is bound, upon any ecclesiastical censure to proceed (ex officio) unto any civil penalties against any persons so censured.

XII. That there be a repeal of all Acts or clauses in any Act enjoining the use of the Book of Common Prayer, and imposing any penalties for neglect thereof; as also of all Acts or clauses of any Act, imposing any penalty for not coming to church, or for meetings elsewhere for prayer or other religious duties, exercises or ordinances, and some other provision to be made for discovering of Papists and Popish recusants, and for disabling of them, and of all Jesuits or priests from disturbing the State.

XIII. That the taking of the Covenant be not enforced upon any, nor any penalties imposed on the refusers, whereby men might be restrained to take it against their judgments or consciences; but all Orders and Ordinances tending to that purpose to be repealed.

XIV. That (the things here before proposed being provided, for settling and securing the rights, liberties, peace and safety of the kingdom) His Majesty's person, his Queen, and royal issue, may be restored to a condition of safety, honour and freedom in this nation, without diminution to their personal rights, or further limitation to the exercise of the regal power than according to the particulars foregoing XV. For the matter of composition:
1. That a less number out of the persons excepted in the two first qualifications (not exceeding five for the English) being nominated particularly by the Parliament, who (together with the persons in the Irish Rebellion, included in the third qualification) may be reserved to the further judgment of the Parliament as they shall find cause, all other excepted persons may be remitted from the exception, and admitted to composition.
2. That the rates of all future compositions may be lessened and limited, not to exceed the several proportions hereafter expressed respectively. That is to say,
(1) For all persons formerly excepted, not above a third part.
(2) For the late members of Parliament under the first branch of the fourth qualification in the Propositions, a fourth part.
(3) For other members of Parliament in the second and third branches of the same qualification, a sixth part.
(4) For the persons nominated in the said fourth qualification, and those included in the tenth qualification, an eighth part.
(5) For all others included in the sixth qualification, a tenth part: and that real debts either upon record, or proved by witnesses, be considered and abated in the valuation of their estates in all the cases aforesaid.
3. That those who shall hereafter come to compound, may not have the Covenant put upon them as a condition without which they may not compound, but in case they shall not willingly take it, they may pass their compositions without it.
4. That the persons and estates of all English not worth £200 in land or goods, be at liberty and discharged: and that the King's menial servants that never took up arms, but only attended his person according to their offices, may be freed from composition, or to pay (at most) but the proportion of one year's revenue, or a twentieth part.
5. That in order to the making and perfecting of compositions at the rates aforesaid, the rents, revenues, and other duties and profits of all sequestered estates whatsoever (except the estates of such persons who shall be continued under exception as before), be from henceforth suspended and detained in the hands of the respective tenants, occupants and others from whom they are due, for the space of six months following.
6. That the faith of the army, or other forces of the Parliament given in articles upon surrenders to any of the King's party, may be fully made good; and where any breach thereof shall appear to have been made, full reparation and satisfaction may be given to the parties injured, and the persons offending (being found out) may be compelled thereto.

XVI. That there may be a general Act of Oblivion to extend unto all (except the persons to be continued in exception as before), to absolve from all trespasses, misdemeanours, &c. done in prosecution of the war; and from all trouble or prejudice for or concerning the same (after their compositions past), and to restore them to all privileges, &c. belonging to other subjects, provided as in the fourth particular under the second general head aforegoing concerning security.
And whereas there have been of late strong endeavours and practices of a factious and desperate party to embroil this kingdom in a new war, and for that purpose to induce the King, the Queen, and the Prince to declare for the said party, and also to excite and stir up all those of the King's late party to appear and engage for the same, which attempts and designs, many of the King's party (out of their desires to avoid further misery to the kingdom) have contributed their endeavours to prevent (as for divers of them we have had particular assurance): we do therefore desire, that such of the King's party who shall appear to have expressed, and shall hereafter express, that way their good affections to the peace and welfare of the kingdom, and to hinder the embroiling of the same in a new war, may be freed and exempted from compositions, or to pay but one year's revenue, or a twentieth part.
These particulars aforegoing are the heads of such Proposals as we have agreed on to tender in order to the settling of the peace of this kingdom, leaving the terms of peace for the kingdom of Scotland to stand as in the late Propositions of both kingdoms, until that kingdom shall agree to any alteration.
Next to the Proposals aforesaid for the present settling of a peace, we shall desire that no time may be lost by the Parliament for despatch of other things tending to the welfare, ease and just satisfaction of the kingdom, and in special manner:

I. That the just and necessary liberty of the people to represent their grievances and desires by way of petition, may be cleared and vindicated, according to the fifth head in the late representation or Declaration of the army sent from St. Albans [l].
II. That (in pursuance of the same head in the said Declaration) the common grievances of this people may be speedily considered of, and effectually redressed, and in particular,
1. That the excise may be taken off from such commodities, whereon the poor people of the land do ordinarily live, and a certain time to be limited for taking off the whole.
2. That the oppressions and encroachments of forest laws may be prevented for the future.
3. All monopolies (old or new) and restraints to the freedom of trade to be taken off.
4. That a course may be taken, and Commissioners appointed to remedy and rectify the inequality of rates lying upon several counties, and several parts of each county in respect of others, and to settle the proportion of land rates to more equality throughout the kingdom; in order to which we shall offer some further particulars, which we hope may be useful.
5. The present unequal troublesome and contentious way of ministers' maintenance by tithes to be considered of, and some remedy applied.
6. That the rules and course of law, and the officers of it, may be so reduced and reformed, as that all suits and questions of right may be more clear and certain in the issues, and not so tedious nor chargeable in the proceedings as now; in order to which we shall offer some further particulars hereafter.
7. That prisoners for debt or other creditors (who have estates to discharge them) may not by embracing imprisonment, or any other ways, have advantage to defraud their creditors, but that the estates of all men may be some way made liable to their debts (as well as tradesmen are by commissions of bankrupt), whether they be imprisoned for it or not; and that such prisoners for debt, who have not wherewith to pay, or at least do yield up what they have to their creditors, may be freed from imprisonment or some way provided for, so as neither they nor their families may perish by imprisonment.
8. Some provision to be made, that none may be compelled by penalty or otherwise to answer unto questions tending to the accusing of themselves or their nearest relations in criminal causes; and no man's life to be taken away under two witnesses.
9. That consideration may be had of all Statutes, and the laws or customs of Corporations, imposing any oaths either to repeal, or else to qualify and provide against the same, so far as they may extend or be construed to the molestation or ensnaring of religious and peaceable people, merely for nonconformity in religion.
III. That according to the sixth head in the Declaration of the army, the large power given to Committees or Deputy-Lieutenants during the late times of war and distraction, may be speedily taken into consideration to be recalled and made void, and that such powers of that nature as shall appear necessary to be continued, may be put into a regulated way, and left to as little arbitrariness as the statute and necessity of the things (wherein they are conversant) will bear.
IV. That (according to the seventh head in the said Declaration) an effectual course may be taken that the kingdom may be righted, and satisfied in point of accompts for the vast sums that have been levied.
V. That provision may be made for payment of arrears to the army, and the rest of the soldiers of the kingdom who have concurred with the army in the late desires and proceedings thereof; and in the next place for payment of the public debts and damages of the kingdom; and that to be performed, first to such persons whose debt or damages (upon the public account) are great, and their estates small, so as they are thereby reduced to a difficulty of subsistence: in order to all which, and to the fourth particular last proceeding, we shall speedily offer some further particulars (in the nature of rules), which we hope will be of good use towards public satisfaction. August 1, 1647.

Signed by the appointment of his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax and the Council of War

Edmund Spenser: The Bower of Bliss from the Faerie Queen

Here is the famous chapter on the destruction of "The Bower of Bliss" in The Fairie Queen by Edmund Spenser from the 1590's.

The Bower of Bliss
It was a lovely spot, a place adorned in the most perfect way by which art could imitate nature; everything sweet and pleasing, or that the daintiest fancy could devise, was gathered here in lavish profusion. A light fence enclosed it, and a rich ivory gate,

''Ere long they heard an hideous bellowing. Of many beasts, that roared outrageously, * * * * * * *

But soone as they approcht with deadly threat, The Palmer over them his staffe upheld.'
wonderfully carven, stood open to all those that came thither.

In the porch sat a tall, handsome porter, whose looks were so pleasant that he seemed to entice travellers to him, but it was only to deceive them to their own ruin. He was the keeper of the garden, and his name was Pleasure. He was decked with flowers, and by his side was set a great bowl of wine, with which he pleased all new-comers. He offered it to Sir Guyon, but the latter refused his idle courtesy, and overthrew the bowl.

Passing through the gate, they beheld a large and spacious plain, strewn on every side with delights. The ground was covered with green grass, and made beautiful with all kinds of lovely flowers; the skies were always bright, and the air soft and balmy; no storm or frost ever came to harm the tender blossoms; neither scorching heat nor piercing cold to hurt those who dwelt therein.

Guyon wondered much at the loveliness of that sweet place, yet would not suffer any of its delights to allure him, but passed straight through, and still looked forward. Presently he came to a beautiful arbour, fashioned out of interlacing boughs and branches. This was arched over with a clustering vine, richly laden with bunches of luscious grapes--some were deep purple like the hyacinth--some like rubies, laughing red--some like emeralds, not yet well ripened, and there were others of burnished gold. They almost broke down the branches with their weight, and seemed to offer themselves to be freely gathered by the passers-by.

In the arbour sat a finely dressed lady; she held in her left hand a golden cup, and with her right hand she gathered the ripe fruit, and squeezed the juice of the grapes into the cup. It was her custom to give a draught of this wine to every stranger that passed, but when she offered it to Guyon to taste, he took the cup out of her hand, and flung it to the ground, so that it was broken and all the wine spilt. Excess, for that was the lady's name, was very angry at this, but she could not withstand the Knight, and was obliged to let him pass, and he went on, heedless of her displeasure.

Then before his eyes appeared a most lovely paradise, abounding in every sort of pleasure: rainbow-coloured flowers, lofty trees, shady dells, breezy mountains, rustling groves, crystal streams--it was impossible to tell which was art and which nature, they were so cunningly mingled; both combined made greater the beauty of the other, and adorned this garden with an endless variety.

In the midst of all, stood a fountain made of the most precious materials on earth, so pure and bright that one could see the silver flood running through every channel. It was wrought all over with curious carving, and above all was spread a trail of ivy of the purest gold, coloured like nature, so that any one who saw it would surely think it was real ivy. Numberless little streams continually welled out of this fountain, and formed a little lake, through the shallow water of which one could see the bottom, all paved with shining jasper.

Then at last Sir Guyon and the Palmer drew near to the "Bower of Bliss," so called by the foolish favourites of the wicked enchantress.

"Now, sir, consider well," said the Palmer, "for here is the end of all our travel. Here dwells Acrasia, whom we must surprise, or else she will slip away, and laugh at our attempt."

Soon they heard the most lovely melody, such as might never be heard on mortal ground. It was almost impossible to say what kind of music it was, for all that is pleasing to the ear there joined in harmony--the joyous singing of birds, angelic voices, silver-sounding instruments, murmuring waters, and the whispering wind; and through it all they heard the singing of one voice, sweeter than all the others.

But in spite of the lovely music heard on every side, Sir Guyon and the Palmer never left their path; they kept on through many groves and thickets, till at last they came in sight of the wicked enchantress herself. She lay, half-sleeping, on a bed of roses, clad in a veil of silk and silver, all round were many fair ladies and boys singing sweetly. Not far off was her last victim, a gallant-looking youth, over whom she had cast an evil spell. His brave sword and armour hung idly on a tree, and he lay sunk in a heavy slumber, forgetful of all the noble deeds in which he had once delighted.

Sir Guyon and the Palmer cautiously drew near, then suddenly rushed forward, and flung over Acrasia a net which the skilful Palmer had made for the occasion. All her attendants immediately fled in terror. Acrasia tried all her arts and crafty wiles to set herself
free, but in vain; the net was so cunningly woven, neither guile nor force could disentangle her.

Then Sir Guyon broke down without pity all the pleasant bowers, and the stately palace, and trampled down the gardens, and burnt the banqueting-hall, so that nothing was left of the beautiful place to tempt other people to ruin.

As for Acrasia, they led her away captive, bound with adamantine chains, for nothing else would keep her safe; and when they came back to the place where they had met the wild beasts, these again flew fiercely at them, as if they would rescue their mistress. But the Palmer soon pacified them.

Then Guyon asked what was the meaning of these beasts that lived there.

"These seeming beasts are really men whom the enchantress has thus transformed," replied the Palmer. "Now they are turned into these hideous figures, in accordance with their bad and ugly minds."

"A sad end of an ignoble life, and a mournful result of excess in pleasure," said the Knight. "But, Palmer, if it may so please you, let them be returned to their former state."

So the Palmer struck them with his staff, and immediately they were turned into men. Very queer and ill at ease they looked. Some were inwardly ashamed, and some were angry to see the Lady Acrasia captive. But one in particular, who had lately been a hog, Grill by name, loudly lamented, and abused the Knight for bringing him back from the shape of a hog into that of a man.

Then said Guyon, "See how low a man can sink, to forget so soon the excellence in which he was created, and to choose rather to he a beast without intelligence!"

"Worthless men delight in base things," said the Palmer. "Let Grill be Grill, and have his hoggish mind. But let us depart hence, while wind and weather serve."

So Sir Guyon, having overthrown the power of the wicked enchantress, went back to the house of Alma, where he had left Prince Arthur. The captive Acrasia he sent under a strong guard to the court of the Faerie Queene, to be presented to Queen Gloriana as a proof that he had accomplished his hard task; but he himself travelled forth with Prince Arthur, to make further trial of his strength and to seek fresh adventures.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Jimmy Carter: Master of the Obvious

"Master of the Obvious" might be an understatement in relation to Jimmy Carter's http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN1026419120071010 today.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday denounced Vice President Dick Cheney as a "disaster" for the country . . . who has had an excessive influence in setting foreign policy . . . He's a militant who avoided any service of his own in the military and he has been most forceful in the last 10 years or more in fulfilling some of his more ancient commitments that the United States has a right to inject its power through military means in other parts of the world.

In many ways, Dick Cheney is a tragic figure. Cheney waited thirty years for his opportunity to enact his vision of unlimited presidential power and his ideas turned out to be just as disastrous now as they were during the Nixon years.

However, there really is little doubt that "Cheneyism" has been a disaster for the United States and its interests in the world--a disaster that will take a long time to recover from.

Folks on the right might argue that it's improper for Carter as an ex-president to criticize a sitting vice-president so harshly, especially during a time of war.

But ex-presidents Carter, Bill Clinton, and even George Bush I should have a duty to speak out more concerning the abuses and disasters of the current Bush administration, not less.

As I've observed many times in the past, the Bush administration is no longer a credible government and the United States really needs people to step into the void and speak with the (informal) authority of the public concerning issues of public importance.

I initially thought that Nancy Pelosi might be able to serve as a spokesperson for the public at large. But she wasn't willing to risk the next election to serve the public now.

Ultimately, it looks like all the major figures outside the Bush administration are going to sacrifice the public welfare for short-term political manuevering. As a result, Jimmy Carter's willingness to speak the American public's revulsion toward Dick Cheney and the Bush administration is a welcome development.

An Argument for Eating You Know What

Eat Crap Why Americans should ingest more excrement.
By Kent Sepkowitz Posted Tuesday,

One year ago, the now-famous E. coli outbreak arising from contaminated spinach rattled the natural-food industry and gave carnivores a moment of schadenfreude. The story had the heartbreaking elements we have come to dread: A young child eats something mundane and dies a horrid death. Boom, gone. I have (unsuccessfully) treated one such case and rate it as perhaps the most chilling moment of my career.

Since then, the United States has seen at least four additional food-borne outbreaks: salmonella in peanut butter and in spinach, botulism in canned chili, and the current Topps Meat Co. recall of 21.7 million pounds (40,000 cows' worth) of E. coli-tainted ground beef. Those with an insatiable interest in E. coli O157:H7 (along with the lawyers who traffic in this corner of the human misery market) can keep up-to-date here.

With every outbreak, the same question sounds: Why can't we keep the food chain clean? The annual numbers aren't small, nor are they decreasing. By one estimate, about one-fourth of Americans get "food poisoning" of some type each year, 300,000 are hospitalized, and a few thousand die. The perps remain the same—E. coli, listeria, salmonella, and all the rest. Why is this public-health problem so difficult to solve? This is America, after all, replete with wondrously harsh chemicals that can kill anything. Why can't we scrub away the bacteria our guts don't get along with?

Maybe we are taking the wrong approach. Rather than trying to make our food and water ever cleaner, we should focus instead on making sure it's dirty enough to assure our good health.
Here's why. Our struggle to purify food and water has been ongoing for thousands of years. Ask any expert to name mankind's greatest public-health advance, and the answer will be not vaccines, or antibiotics, or disposable diapers, or refrigeration, or mosquito netting. Though wondrous, each is dwarfed by the greatest invention of them all: plumbing. Why did the Romans successfully rule the world? The Cloaca Maxima, ancient Rome's elaborate sewer system, a structure so effective that Pliny the Elder considered it the "most noteworthy" accomplishment of the empire. And why does the West still run economic circles around the developing world?

Because we don't ingest each other's excrement. At least not that often.

The triumph of Western civilization is, first and foremost, a triumph of pipes and valves and the fact that water runs downhill. Aqueducts bring fresh water in, cobblestoned underground tunnels move used water out, and, presto, our world is clean.

But here is the problem: We have become victims of our own success. Ever wonder why your dog can gobble, lick, and gnaw all he wants along the glorious buffet of a city street and (almost) never get sick? Your dog is used to eating shit. Americans, on the other hand, grow up eating almost no shit at all. Our food is hosed and boiled and rinsed and detoxified and frozen and salted and preserved. Recently, we have begun to irradiate it, too—just in case. As a result, when our bodies encounter the occasional inevitable bug, they're unhappy. Our centuries-long program of winnowing out all the muck has turned us into sissies and withered the substantial part of the immune system mediated by our intestinal tract.

Kids have it worse than adults. Even with today's near-sterility, adult intestines have learned enough tricks to ward off major trouble, albeit clumsily. In contrast, modern kids are near-bubble babies. Our mammalian disaster plan is a good one: A child receives antibodies against countless infections from his mother through the placenta and then from breast milk. With that protection, the infant can take his time to develop his own antibodies. But these days, mothers have scant immunity because they too were raised in America the Hygienic. (Also, breast-feeding may be skipped.) So, kids have zero experience with routine gut infections, and when they encounter one that has slipped past our pipes and filters, the result can be catastrophic.
The best response to E. coli and the other pathogens that cause food poisoning is to recognize, humbly, that we can get the food supply almost perfectly clean, but never completely. There's just too much crap out there: human crap, horse crap, cow crap, pig crap. In the feces of these and other animals are trillions of infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, fungi, worms, and everything else that upsets the stomach). Try as we may to contain the mess, we can never win. Pig dung fouls rivers; cow crap seeps into water tables; human shit kicks back every time heavy rains overwhelm a sewage system's filtration capacity.

Furthermore, the closer to nature we get, the likelier we are to eat more shit. That's a growing problem now, as more people seek a less processed, more flavorful diet. To make matters worse, the alliance of natural foods with big-league distribution systems has guaranteed that people across the country can all simultaneously eat the same E. coli-laden spinach or meat grown by the same farm. The two key aspects of a healthy diet—nutritious food and safe food—seem irrevocably at odds with each other. How can we have what we want and still feel safe?
Maybe we can't. Observant Jews long ago sided with safety over taste by boiling, boiling, and then boiling some more. Cholent is the Yiddish word for food that is prepared in advance of the Sabbath, when ovens cannot be lit. Cholent cooks on a hot plate for 18 hours or more, pushing the food to within an inch of its life. Without ever sampling it, you can imagine its perfect non-ness, not even a hint of taste. But oh-so-safe.

Failing the mainstreaming of McCholent, what other options do we have? We can't just put all the crap back into our diet—we would suddenly see infant mortality rates that rival those of Angola. But we will never remove it all, either. So, here's a suggestion: Rather than frantically throwing money at new ways to eradicate the pathogens that reside in shit, we should fund the boring scientists who focus on untangling the intricacies of the gut's immune system. Labs, answer this: How much shit can we safely eat and, as importantly, how much must we eat to remain healthy?