THE Secret History OF THE Secret HISTORY OF THE White STAFF, Purse and Mitre.

Written by a Person of HONOUR.

LONDON: Printed and Sold by S. KEIMER, at the Print­ing-Press in Pater-Noster-Row. 1715. (Price Six Pence.)


AS nothing is more irksom to a Sensible Man, than to have his Judgment impos'd upon, so nothing can be a greater Obligation to him than to be undeceiv'd. The Case now before us is National; it is not a single Person that is deceiv'd here; but the whole Body of the People are Banter'd and made Fools of: And what better Work can a Man set his Hand to, for the Publick Service, than to [Page 4] detect these Frauds, and undeceive the World.

There have not been Two little Pam­phlets, publish'd for a long Time past, which have made more Foolish Noise in the World, than the First and Second Part of the Secret History of the White Staff; and it is the more wonderful, because, as shall soon be made appear, there has been no Substance, or Foundation in the Matters of Fact for them, or for any of the several Pamphlets which have follow'd them; but that the World has been very much amus'd and impos'd upon, both in the one and the other, and the whole has been a meer Delusion, an Ignis Fatuus, prepar'd either on Purpose to get a Penny by the Books, or to Deceive the People, or both: This being premis'd, it seems Necessary the World should know something of the HISTORY of these Two Secret Histo­ries; because, by having this Matter search'd a little into, there will be brought to Light some Things very profitable to us in their being known, tho' most absurd in themselves; Things equally wonderful in the Effect, which they have had among the People, and equally strange in the Kna­very of the Contrivers.

That we may arrive to a clear Notion of what is needful to be understood con­cerning those Books, the Matter must be [Page 5] first laid down in General: Briefly, That the Book call'd the Secret History of the White Staff seems to be publish'd in Order to justifie the Conduct, and clear up the Reputation of a late Great Minister of State, known throughout the Book by the Title of the Staff, or as some of the An­swerers say, To raise a Dust that he may be lost in the Cloud.

In doing this, they run thro' many of the most Considerable Transactions of State during the Ministry of that Great Man, from his first appearing in a Publick Employment or Office, in Her Majesty's Houshold, to the Death of the Queen; and as some pretend to say, artfully labours to make the Staff appear really a White Staff, washing him clear from the Dirt cast up­on him by the Parties who have oppos'd him, and (who it may be likely) have as artfully endeavour'd to Blacken and De­face him, clearing up sundry Actions from the suppos'd Guilt, with which they are charg'd, and laying the Blame on such as are really Blame-worthy upon other Heads.

How well they have perform'd is not the present Enquiry; it is easie for Writers this Way, or that Way, to form a spe­cious Tale to clear up the Characters which they would render Bright, or to blacken those who they would Misrepre­sent: But what Weight is to be put upon [Page 6] such Assurances we shall see, when the Secret History of these Books is a little far­ther laid down.

In the mean Time it is provoking to the last Degree, to see what Success these Men have had in the Trick they have put upon the Town, and how universally all sorts of Men have run into the Cheat, and been bubbled to accept these Romances for a true Narration, and have taken the Fable for a History, without enquiring in­to the Things whether they were impos'd upon Yea, or No.

The few Friends of the Staff on one Hand, (albeit they were not the first who were deceiv'd, yet) were very soon drawn into the Snare, taking the Book to be done by a Friend, or perhaps by himself, in order to Vindicate him to the World, by setting his Actions in a true Light, and casting the Blame of sundry Things, which common Fame laid at his Door, upon the Conduct of divers other Persons; perhaps the nearness of some Passages which they found in these Books, to what they knew something of, in the Conduct of the Staff, or their willingness to have it be as it was there represented; and their Passion to have others think as favourably of the Staff, as they did themselves, might con­cur to Deceive them; forasmuch as di­vers Things taken Notice of in those Books [Page 7] might have some Connexion with other Passages which were really true, so that it would be easie for Men to be led aside at their first View of Things. Also the Part these Men took with the Staff, in his Re­sentment of the Conduct of those who had dispossess'd and supplanted him at Court, bore no small Share in their Credulity, be­ing very willing that all imaginable Indig­nities should be offer'd to those who had been so successful in their Opposition to the Staff, as to cast him out of his Seat, and to dispossess him of the Favour of his Prince, and to see them expos'd to all the World, who had expos'd him in such a Manner, which, as they said, was not to be forgiven.

The Enemies of the Staff, on the other Hand, seem'd to be mov'd so much at the Attempt made to clear up his Character, in Things which they seem to have unan­swerably laid to his Charge, as that they could not let slip so fair an Opportunity, which seem'd to them to offer itself in this Book, to load him with farther Infamy; and tho' at the first View they found them­selves capable to detect the Falsity and So­phistry of the Books themselves, as it is express'd in some of their Answers; yet they could not avoid the Snare of taking the Books for Genuine, and for a Design of [Page 8] the Staff, to start something into the World in his own Vindication.

The Writers of the Books sitting still all this while, had their leisure to Laugh at Mankind, and to please themselves with thinking how either Side fell into their Snare, and bought up many Thousands of the Books, which as shall presently be shewn, was the Summa Totalis of the De­sign, and to see with what eagerness the Party Writers on every Side carried on the Paper War which they had rais'd; and which confirms the Truth of what is here asserted beyond all Contradiction. It shall appear that the same People employing o­ther Hands, have been the Editors not only of the Books themselves, but also of several of the Answers to these Books, causing the deceiv'd People to Dance in the Circles of their drawing, while these have enjoy'd the Sport of their own Witch­craft; and like the Hangers-on of the Camp, have taken the Spoil of the Field of Battle, as well of the Victors, as of the Vanquish'd.

It was but a few Days past, when com­ing casually into a Publick Coffee-House, and finding the whole Discourse, as for some Time it was, carried on by opposite Parties upon the Subject of these Books, I joyn'd my self to the Company, where it was warmly enquir'd into who should be [Page 9] the Author, or Authors of these Books. I found One Man who appear'd as a Qua­ker, and spoke as a Quaker, altho' as I af­terwards understood, he was not a thorough Quaker, maintaining a Point, which differ'd from all, that had spoken about it; and which put me upon further enquiring into the Matter, than I had done before.

‘'Verily, says the Quaker, I think, that ye err much about this Matter, and I plainly perceive, that ye do not Judge rightly of the Persons, concerning whom ye are Discoursing;'’ Why, said his Neigh­bour, who was his Opposer, Do'st not thou think, that the Earl of Oxford has written this Book?

Quaker. Nay, I do not believe it.

Neigh. You Quakers are so full of dou­ble Meanings, no Man can talk with you; do you not believe, that he has done it, or caus'd it to be done, that he has employ'd others to do it for him?

Quak. If thou canst not talk with me, then should'st thou hold thy Peace. I am a Friend to the Truth, and a Lover of those, that speak uprightly, neither have I any double Meaning in my Speech.

[Page 10] Neigh. Answer me directly, Don't you believe, that he has done it, I say, or caused it to be done for him?

Quak. I do not.

Neigh. Don't you believe that he has furnish'd Materials for this Book to Daniel De Foe, or some such other Scribler, as for Money he might get, to do such a Piece o [...] Drudgery for him?

Quak. I know not Lord Oxford, neither do I know Daniel De Foe; but this may serve thee for an Answer to thy Question▪ that I do not believe either Lord Oxford or any one for him had any Concern in Writing, or Composing those Books.

Neigh. Pray let us hear your Reason for it.

Quak. Nay, now thou ask'st of me a Que­stion, which I am not under any Obliga­tion to comply with thee in.

Neigh. That is true; but saying you do not believe a Thing without telling any Reason for it, is the strongest Argument [Page 11] you could bring to make us believe the contrary.

Quak. I will give thee some of my Rea­sons; but I will assure thee also, they are not the chief Reasons, which I might give, which perchance, it may not be conveni­ent to mention at this Time.

Neigh. Let us then have such Reasons, as you please to give.

Quak. One Reason is, That if it had been done by Lord Oxford, as thou say'st it was, and that it was for his own Vindica­tion, he would not have Written that, which is so unfit to perform what it is sup­pos'd to do, and that he would have vin­dicated himself in a better Manner, or not have meddled with it in Publick.

Neigh. That is no Reason; his Cause is so bad, it admits no Vindication.

Quak. Nay, then my Reason is good, in that I said he would therefore have let it alone; but seeing thou dost not approve of my Reasons, I have no need to trouble thee with more of them. And here the Quaker seem'd to make some Motion to rise and go away.

[Page 12] Neigh. That is just what I said before, that you have no, Reason at all.

Quak. Thou thinkest to move me by thy Words, to enter into Disputations with thee of these Things; but I shall not com­ply with thy Desire; let it therefore suf­fice thee, that I know what I have said to be Truth, the which is more than saying, I believe it; and herewith the Quaker rose up and departed.

The Quaker's, last Words stir'd up my Curiosity, and I immediately follow'd him, and ask'd him if he would give me an Op­portunity to have a little Friendly Discourse with him; that I had seen, how rudely they had treated him in the Coffee-House; but that I should let him see I had more Respect.

He yielded, and we went to a Publick House, where being sat down, I told him that had I read over the Books call'd The Se­cret History of the Staff, &c. And that I had frequent Thoughts about them, That I ob­serv'd a great many Things, which in my Opinion look like Romances; that I often thought the whole was a continu'd Fiction; that some Things were put in, which if they [Page 13] were true, no Body could know, but those whose Interest it was not to make them Publick; That other Things were men­tion'd, which were not probable, sundry Speeches fram'd, which I believ'd were ne­ver spoken, and that I had long wish'd, that I might one Time or other come to some Discovery of the Truth of the Case, and that hearing him, tho' a Stranger to me, jump so exactly with my Opinion, and that he seem'd to have more Know­ledge of particular Circumstances than I had, I was very earnest to Discourse with him about it; and that I might not hinder his being as free with me, as he would be with any Friend of his Acquaintance, I told him my Name, Place of Abode, &c. and nam'd some Eminent Quakers to him, whom I suppos'd he might know, and who I knew, would answer for my Sincerity.

He heeded me very attentively, and when I had ended, he answer'd thus, or to this Purpose;

'Friend, Thou seem'st to me to be a grave Person, and one who art soberly searching after the Know­ledge of the Truth, and I think it is meet that I should inform thee, of what I know concerning this Matter. For albeit I was not free to answer to a for­ward Man, whom I perceiv'd to speak [Page 14] perversly to me without Cause; yet I shall not refrain from thee in any Thing, wherein I may assist thy Understanding of the Truth.'

'I have been Curious in making enqui­ry concerning the Books, whereof thou speakest, and I may assure thee, that they are no other than Fables, being compos'd by Evil Persons for Lucre and Gain; and that the Persons, whereof those Men made mention, have had no Knowledge thereof, nor were concern'd in employ­ing, or directing the Writers thereof, and this thou may'st be confirm'd in the Knowledge of, if thou wilt, as I have done, make diligent Enquiry among those who are more especially employ'd in Business of this Nature.'

I was surpriz'd with this Account, as I might well be, altho' it was nothing, but what I always believ'd; yet it made me still more Curious to enquire of him, in what Manner he came to the Know­ledge of this Thing, so as to be Satisfa­ctory; and that, while we believ'd the World was impos'd upon by the Books, we might not suffer our selves to be im­pos'd upon in our Enquiry after them: For, said I, in a Thing of this Nature, I [Page 15] would not take up with slight Evidence; he told me, ‘'He had been very Particular in his Enquiry, and First, That he had obtain'd of a Friend to speak of it to the Lord Oxford himself, and that the said Lord expressing himself with the utmost Indignation at the Books them­selves, assur'd the Person who mention'd it to him, that he had no Knowledge of them till he saw them in Print; that he always was of Opinion, that printed Vin­dications were useless Things, and inju­rious to the Persons, they would pretend to serve; that he knew nothing he had done that needed any Vindication; but if it were otherwise, he desir'd he might be left to Vindicate himself, as he found Occasion; that many, if not most of the Facts in these Books were False, and that those, which had Truth in them, were mingled with such abundance of Ro­mance, as that they did not so much as appear to be dress'd up like the Truth; that he dislik'd every Thing in those Books, and also the Manner, in which it was there plac'd; and that no one could oblige him more, than by letting the World know, that he disown'd what was there reflecting upon others, and despis'd what pretended to be in behalf of him­self.'’

[Page 16]Besides this Account, which was very satisfying, he told me that he had been Curious to get Information among the Writers of Pamphlets, to find out, if he could, either who had a Hand in it, or who they suppos'd to have so; that he had found one Friend, who was acquainted with that Person, who common Fame had tax'd with it in Publick, and that he had obtain'd from his said Friend to go to that Person. It seems, he found the poor Man in a very Dangerous Condition, having had a Fit of an Apoplexy, and being ve­ry Weak, insomuch, that his Life was despair'd of; but, mentioning the said Books to him, and that the Town charg'd him with being the Author of them, and that he had Written them by Direction of the said Lord Oxford, the said Person answer'd, That they did him a great deal of Wrong; neither did he believe, that the Lord Oxford was any Way concern'd, directly or indirectly in the said Books, and that he believ'd his Lordship had ne­ver heard of them till they were publish'd. It was true, he said, that he happen'd to see some of the Copy, while it was at the Press, and that being desir'd to look upon it, he did Revise Two or Three Sheets of it, and mark'd some Things in them, [Page 17] which he dislik'd; but for the rest he could safely Swear he never saw them, or knew what was in them, till after they were printed, nor did he know whether the Things which he had mark'd (as a­bove said) were alter'd in the Print, Yea, or No.

The Person who went to him, then ask'd him if he did not believe, that they were written at the Desire, and by the Dire­ctions of People, who traded in such Books, and who did it meerly to get Money by them, without any other Design this Way or that Way respecting the Parties, or Di­visions of the People: And he answer'd, He did verily believe it was so.

My Friend told me, he could not question the Truth of what a Man, as it were step­ping into the Grave, had so freely de­clar'd, and that he thought, Men could not answer charging Things Publickly upon others, without any Proof of them, saving what was suggested to them, by the Sur­mises of their own Evil Thoughts, or of other Evil Persons, and he did not know how Men could answer wronging others in such a Manner.

[Page 18]But that, which farther than all this con­firm'd this Quaker, as he said, in his be­leiving that it was not either of the Per­sons above-mention'd who had written these Books, was a farther Information, which he told me he had met with from Two several Persons, who as he said, were of the Tribe of Writers, who are by the World call'd Hackneys, as before, who gave him some Account how these Books were manag'd, and by whom.

There are, it seems, said he, several Clubs, or Setts of these Men, who are kept in constant Employment by the Book­sellers, or Publishers of Pamphlets, to Write on such and such Subjects, as the said Booksellers shall direct; and these said Booksellers, or Publishers joyn together their Stocks, when such Books are written, to pay as well the Charge of Writing as of Printing the same, and then unite their Interest in their way of Trade, for the more effectual vending the said Books. And I am assured, said he farther, That these Persons do not Consult the Side, or Party on which, or in whose behalf the said Books may be suppos'd to plead; but the great Thing, which they regard, is that the said Books may Sell; and if they [Page 19] find it sells, so as to answer their Design, they go on, perhaps, to employ the same Persons to write an Answer, or Answers thereto, and that he was satisfy'd by his Friend, that these Books of the White Staff were written by some of these Men call'd Hackneys, as aforesaid, and by the Order of, and for the Wages given by some of the said Booksellers, Publishers, &c. And that no other Persons, or Designs were to be found concern'd therein.

I told him, this was a very Infamous Practice, if it was true; but desir'd to know if he had good Grounds to believe the same: He told me he thought he had sufficient Ground to believe, that there were such People, and that there were such Setts of Men, who employ'd these Writers; and of this he had such Evidence, that, as he said, he was able to name several Men, who were so em­ploy'd, and also those, who did employ them; he likewise told me, he was as­sur'd of their doing this upon the single View of gaining, by the vending or sell­ing their Books without any other Design, not being concern'd what Cause, or what Principle these Men writ for or upon, see­ing, as he was inform'd, it was their fre­quent Practice to employ one Man, or Sett [Page 20] of Men to write a Book upon this or that Subject; and if that Book succeeded, that is to say, if it Sold well, then to employ others, or perhaps the same Hands to write Answers to the same Book. And to confirm this, he told me he could as­sure me, that the Book entitled the Purse and the Mitre, which was written in Op­position to the former Book the Staff, were written by the Order, and at the Expence of the very same Men, who had before caus'd the said Secret History of the White Staff to be written; that the Writer, or Hackney, who was thus employ'd, was one Pittis, of whom more shall be spoken afterwards.

And that albeit they were publish'd by a different Hand, the Principals were the very same, and they were Publish'd and Sold on the Account of the same Sett of Booksellers; and this, he said, he was able to give suffi­cient Testimony to the Truth of, if there were any Occasion.

I was more surpriz'd with this last Part of his Account, than I was with the other, and could not conceal the Astonishment I was in thereat, which made him take the Liberty to tell me, that he admir'd to see those Things seem strange to me, for that, [Page 21] he said, this had been the constant Pra­ctice of these People for some Years; and that most of the Libels, which had been publish'd for some Years past, had been written in this Manner, and that the great Mistake, which he observ'd to be in it, was not that such Men were suffer'd to Write, for that he did not see how any Laws could be made to restrain them; but that which was to be wonder'd at, was the Folly of the People, who suffer'd themselves to be amus'd with every Jack with a Lanthorn, and who, by laying such stress upon what they read, in eve­ry Pamphlet, gave a Weight to them, when they had not any in themselves, and fancying, that this or that Great Per­son had set his Head, or Hand to work to write these Things; they made them thereby effectual to do that Evil, which they were Originally not design'd to do, and which, if they were let alone, they would not be able to do.

I joyn'd with him in his Opinion of all these Things, and farther, it caus'd divers Reflections in my Thoughts, upon the Fol­ly and Absurdity of those, who have pre­tended to write weighty and solid An­swers to these Books, entitled, The History [Page 22] of the Staff, &c. how some call it the Work of the late Lord Treasurer, and take the Liberty from thence to answer that Book, as his Lordship Performance, casting the Follies and Ignorance, the Malice and ill Manners, of a few three halfpenny Scrib­lers in the Face of his Lordship as his own▪ if there are false Grammars, they are call'd his Ignorance and want of Learning; false Facts, they are call'd his Lies; shuffling and quibling with the Arguments, which were necessary, because they knew little of what they were speaking, is call'd his Sophistry; not only abusing the Person, on whom these Things are cast, but like­wise abusing very notoriously the Readers, by making them believe that these Things are of Moment, which are the Concepti­ons of silly Mercenaries, drawn from what they pick'd up in Fragments here and there▪ from the Coffee-House Chat, and learned Ale-Bench Discourse of this City, and then fram'd together in a Book, to deceive the credulous Heads and inquisitive Tempers of the People, and pick their Purses of a little Money.

But that no Man may question the Truth of what is here affirm'd, the Write [...] of these Sheets avers, and is able on Occasion to make Oath, That the said Mr [Page 23] Pittis own'd, and acknowledg'd to him, the said Writer of these Sheets, that he was the Author of the said Book, call'd the Mitre and Purse, and shew'd me Part of the Copy in Manuscript, before the same was printed; neither is this all, but the Writer of these Sheets avers, That he can prove, who employ'd the said Mr. Pittis, and what Hire, or Price he receiv'd for the Work.

This is mention'd with the more Plain­ness, because of a like Case, which has just now happen'd, and is made Publick by Pittis himself, and is as followeth; Mr. Pittis has been taken up for writing a Pamphlet, call'd Reasons for a War with France, which Book he has own'd, he was hir'd to Write by that Conscientious Bookseller, so celebrated for his Honesty, Mr. Edmund Curl in Fleet-street, who was one of his Bail; upon which he gives out an Adver­tisement in several of the News-papers, that a Book was preparing for the Press, entitled Reasons against a War with France; by the Author of the Mitre and Purse, which, as is said above, appears to be the same Author, viz. Mr. Pittis. This so evi­dently proves the Practice above of Mr. Curl, and his Associates, Writing for and [Page 24] against, that no Men can be so wilfully Obstinate, as not to be convinc'd.

Now to return from this Digression, the Quaker told me many more Things, which I have not room to take Notice of here; but he was particularly warm when, he discours'd of the Use which we made of these Books: ‘'The People of this City, says he, are all true Believers, for they can believe every Thing, which pleases them, and call every Thing, which they do not approve of, false: If thou, continu'd he, shouldst go among them, and tell them, that the History of the White Staff was not written by Lord Oxford, or by some of his Emissaries, they would laugh thee to scorn; on the other Hand, shouldst thou say unto them, that the History of the Purse and Mitre was not written by the Instigation of the Priest of R—r, or of the late high Man thou call'st Chan­cellor; but that this last was written by the Hire, and by the Directions of the same Persons, who were in that respect the Authors of the other; they would be displeasd with thee in a grievous Man­ner, and these Things would seem unto them as idle Tales; yet in Truth thou may'st be assur'd, said he, it is no other­wise, and Time will farther satisfie thee of these Things; nay, I am credibly in­form'd [Page 25] saith he, That some of thy Peo­ple have been so wicked as to affirm, that these Books were written by other Per­sons, and to Name those Persons; where­as it is certain, that they could not be a­ble to prove one Tittle thereof, which, said he, is a worse Offence than any of those which they take Liberty to repre­hend; for this, said he, is the greatest Af­front offer'd to Truth, that Men are ca­pable to offer: And they ought in the first Place, to enter upon the Demonstra­tion of the Fact which they assert, to wit, That Lord Oxford, or some one for him, or by his Direction, hath written and publish'd the said Tracts, before they en­ter'd upon the Subject of the said Book; forasmuch, said he, as if it be not a Ve­rity which they have first laid down, to wit, That the said Books were written by him, or by his Knowledge and Directi­on; or if it be a Verity, as I am perswa­ded thereof, that he had no Knowledge of the said Books before they were writ­ten and publish'd, then it is Folly and Shame unto them who have engag'd themselves to answer the same, as if writ­ten by him; wherefore also, all which they have said upon those Subjects after­wards, falleth to the Ground, by Reason that the same is built upon a wrong Foun­dation. [Page 26] Likewise, saith he, if it appea­reth that they have been thus easily de­ceiv'd, it seemeth to me that they are al­so become wilful Deceivers of others, in that they adventure to affirm what they know not, and desire others to build up­on the like sandy Foundations, raising slanderous Accusations upon Persons, upon Suspition of their having done what they have not in Truth been guilty of. For, said he, they are false Teachers of others, who are not well assur'd of the Truth of what they teach; and albeit, said he, this Lord Oxford were an evil Man; for Friend, said he, I like not his Ways, nei­ther do I approve of his Doings, any more than thou may'st do; howbeit I must not charge him or any other unjustly, with Things whereof they are not guilty: And if these Persons have affirmed, that this Man hath us'd such Sophistry, and such Dishonesty, for his own Vindication, as is found in the said Books, and he hath not done so, neither is any Way directly or indirectly concern'd therein, as I have just Cause to believe he is not, then have they done wickedly, and deserve Re­proof; therefore neither can I give Cre­dit to any of the Inferences which they draw therefrom, forasmuch as right Con­sequences are very seldom form'd from [Page 27] wrong Premises: And this, my Friend, said he, is my Opinion of this Matter'.’

Reflecting after this upon the Quaker's Discourse; for we went not much farther at that time, it produc'd some wonder in me, at the strange Usage which Men give one another in this Age, and above all, it came very strongly in my Mind; Good Lord! said I, What a Temper of Slander and Reproach is gone forth in the World! Were we to hear some Men talk of the Books call'd the White Staff, one cou'd hardly think but they knew for certain, and were able to prove it in a Court of Ju­stice, that the Earl of Oxford was the Au­thor of them, or that they had seen him give the Instructions for the writing them, to the Persons who he had employ'd. When the Books are read over, which are call'd the Answers and Considerations upon these Histories of the White Staff, where the Per­sons are call'd the most scandalous Names for writing them, which by this Quaker's Account have had no knowledge of them till they were publish'd; What Opinion must we entertain of the Writers of these Books? And how will they take off all the Weight which might otherwise be thought due to the Arguments us'd in these Books? Where I see the Person who is suppos'd [Page 28] to be the Original, treated with such Harshness; the other who is charg'd with being his Tool, call'd so many Rascals and such like Names, and yet in the bottom of the Case, for ought I see, neither of these are in the least concern'd in the original Part of the Books, What shall be in Ju­stice said to such a Practice? And what Principle must these Authors have, who dare thus impose upon the World, in that whereof they know nothing, and dare thus charge Men positively and publickly, in that of which they have no Evidence, but their own partial Conjectures.

These Sheets have not the least Affinity to a Vindication of the Earl of Oxford. The Undertaker hereof knows nothing of Da­niel de For, Mr. Pittis, or any other of the mercenary scribling Tribe. The Question now in debate with me, is, Whether it be true which the Quaker-above mention'd has laid down, yea or nay; and in enqui­ring after this, I have sincerely employ'd some Hours: Let the White Staff be as black as the Devil, let his Actions merit all the Reproach that good Men think their Due, or that bad Men can cast upon them: in fine, let him be all that can be either justly or unjustly said of him; yet it is certain nothing ought to be said either of [Page 29] him, or of any other Person which is not true, nay, nor which cannot be prov'd to be true.

But neither is this the true Design of this Book, for howbeit Men will take the Liberty to say of those against whom they write Things not true, or perhaps Things which they have not sufficient Evidence of; yet who shall go about in such a Day as this is, to reprehend the Vice of our an­gry Party-Men, shall be sure to get no­thing but some of the Dirt, which they were before throwing at one another, to be thrown at him by both Sides, and be like the Guides who brought the Dutch Troops into Reading, at the Time of the Revolu­tion, who running too busie about to show the Dutchmen their Enemy, and to mark out the Villains who were to cut their Throats, were shot in the Fray by their own Friends, for not standing out of the Way.

But the Use that I would make of this is, to admonish those who write, that how­ever they treat those Men they write a­gainst, they would have some regard for those whom they write unto, that is to say, That albeit they may not regard loading those they write against with Accusations, [Page 30] and blackning them with Crimes, whether they may be guilty or no; yet that they would take care of their Friends to whom they write, that they do not impose upon them to believe Lies, and Things which have no Foundation, but in the crazy prepossess'd Imaginations of a Party, putting Suspicions and Conjectures upon them for Matters of Fact, and prepossessing their Minds to be­lieve a Lie.

I could not but reflect with particular Astonishment upon the Book call'd the Mitre and the Purse, how I found a Raging, something like a Frenzy in the very Fron­tispiece, the Man seeming to be in a poe­tick Fury at the Person call'd the White Staff; he talks in his Title of the Hypocrisy and Villany of the White Staff; he draws a Bill upon Virgil for that eminent Line, which as he takes it, will be very accepta­ble to all the Enemies of the White Staff, viz. ‘Quo teneam vultus mutantem protea nodo.’

Having also some Credit with the Eng­lish Poets, he draws another Bill upon Dry­den, in his Absalom and Achitophel, which he shoots like an envenom'd Arrow direct­ly at the White Staff.

[Page 31]He left not Faction, but of that was left.

When he enters upon his Subject, he remembers what would gratifie the Town, and falls upon the common Topick, thus, The Mercenary that has been hir'd to raise a Dust, in order to blind People's Eyes from seeing clearly into the White Staff's true Character, having, &c. Hist. of Mitre and Purse, Page 3.

A plain Man, unacquainted with such Roguery, would believe that Mr. Pittis knew, and could prove beyond Contradi­ction, that the Writer of the White Staff was a Mercenary, hir'd by the Person call'd or understood, by the White Staff: On the other Hand, how would he have imagin'd that the same Persons who hir'd some other Mercenary to write the White Staff, had hir'd him to write the Purse and Mitre, and that the Stile of his first Lines which are quoted above, ought, if they had been written with Sincerity, to have run thus, The Mercenary who we hir'd to raise a Dust, in order to blind Peo­ple's Eyes, and make them believe the White Staff as Genuine, and not a Romance, ha­ving, &c.

[Page 32]The Reader may not expect I should enter into a Detail of this Writer's Lan­guage; This is not an Answer to Books, but a detecting the Knavery of Books; and making the injur'd People of Britain sensible, how they have been impos'd upon by several of those People call'd Booksellers: On the one hand, they hire a Man, or Men, to write a Secret History, pretending to Vindicate and Defend the Character of the Person of him whom they call the White Staff; and they bring him in making Eloquent Speeches, detract­ing from, and loading the Characters and Conduct of other Ministers of State, of whom perhaps not one Word of what he is said to have spoken, may be true; and which is yet more, not one Word of it was ever spoken by him. On the other hand, the same Men hire another Man, perhaps the same Man, to mimmick the opposite Party; to fall upon the White Staff with all the Opprobrious Terms, and all that Railery, which, a Person suppos'd to be injur'd by the said White Staff, could be inspir'd with, and as if he was em­ploy'd by the Mitre and Purse to fight their Battle, taking on him the Defence of their Character, falls on with such unmer­ciful Fury, as if the White Staff was a [Page 33] Victim, given up to be Sacrific'd by his Tongue, to the Ghost of the High-Church Cause, lately dead and buried; and when all this is said and done, and when the World has been amus'd with this Ambodexter Scuffle thus long, it appears, that neither the White­Staff abusing, or the Mitre and Purse abused, have the least Knowledge of the Matter; the Person who is charged with writing for them is Sick in his Bed, and knows little or nothing of it; and the Secret History of these Secret Hi­stories, is, that they were Coin'd in one Mint, all form'd by one and the same Sett of Men, and with the same truly mercenary Design, viz. To get a Penny: Not valuing who on the one hand they slander'd, whom they set to­gether by the Ears, what Characters they reproach'd unjustly, or whom they expos'd; and on the other Hand, not regarding whom they incens'd against the Persons concern'd, whom they impos'd upon, deceiv'd and abus'd; making the poor innocent People of Britain to believe Lies, and Things of other Men, which perhaps never enter'd into their Heads or Hearts to do or say.

I need now go no further into the Book; it matters not what the Subject is, neither what the Person is who writes it: This is no Charge upon Mr. Pittis, who, as the Quaker assur'd me, wrote the Book call'd the Mitre and Purse; the more he falls upon the White Staff, the better is it for those who employ'd him; as the more the Writer of the White Staff falls upon the Mitre and Purse, the better for those who employ'd him; the Original of these Things being the same Persons. This is the Secret History of the Secret History; neither is [Page 34] this Tract bent against the Persons, who em­ploy'd these Writers on one side or on the other. It seems it is their Trade; and I have been in­form'd, that one Mr. Edmund Curl has been furnish'd with Topicks out of Lex Mercatoria, to justify and defend the Lawfulness of such an Employment; which he has practis'd some Years before he intermeddled with the Books in Question: These Things therefore, I say, are not the Aim and Design of this Book, but rather to open the Eyes of the People to the main Thing, viz. That they may be made more sensible than they have yet been, how grosly they are impos'd on by the Writers of Pamphlets at this time; and how the great Affairs of State are canvass'd and settled, or rather indeed unsettled and expos'd by such little Animals, as Curl and his Hacks, who write and Print whatsoever they find the Peo­ple foolish enough to buy; and who watch the Inclinations of the People to see, what will take with and please their Humour; not valuing whom they deceive, or whom they expose, so that they can make their Books sell off which they print, and bring them to a second or third Edition.

Passing then from this Part to those which follow, viz. [...]he other Answerers of this Book; perhaps there may be some who have not the same Original, viz. in the Booksellers Cabi­net-Council, but who take this Occasion to exert their other Vice, viz. of Prejudice against the Persons concern'd. Of these we may ob­serve, how justly to be ridiculed is all their serious Railing; their singling out Particulars in the History of the Staff; their Violence, and enforcing their Arguments with so much [Page 35] Heat of Zeal? I say, how justly to be ridicul'd and expos'd, are all their serious Efforts? When the Truth of the Thing is, that this whole Affair hath been only the Work of a few Booksellers, who wanted to get a Penny: That the Persons suppos'd to be concern'd therein, knew nothing of the Books; or had even any Hand in their Composition, and that they have made Fools of themselves and of the World, by fighting with a Man of Straw, of other People's dressing up?

It must move some Laughter surely at them­selves, when, if they shall enquire further into the Thing, as I have done, they should arrive to an Eclaircisment in this Matter; and to be sa­tisfy'd, that this Jack-a-lent was a meer Book­seller's Romance, a meer Composition of Grub-street, set on Work by those, who neither knew the Persons they writ of, nor ow'd them either ill Will or good; but would have wrote the same Things for or against their own Fa­ther, for the same Price.

It is also very observable, that in all the Books, which have been publish'd, either in Answer to the said Histories of the Staff, or reflecting upon them, there is not one of these which I have yet met with, whose Author takes the least Care to prove, that the Staff, or the Purse, or the Mitre, or any one else for them, or by their Order or Direction, wrote, or caus'd to be written, any of those Books: They have gotten a new Way to get over all these Things at once, viz. by charging it po­sitively upon whomsoever they please to call the Authors; expecting that their Readers should take it upon the Faith of the Answerers, that such Men have written the Books they [Page 36] Answer, whether they offer any Evidence of it, or not. This is a Token, either of great Im­pudence in the said Writers, who dare impose upon the World in such a Manner, upon their own Authority; or of great Levity and Cre­dulity in the Age. who take their Intelligence of Things upon Trust, and sit down with the Scandals and Slanders of Writers on any Side without Proof.

But to let alone the Writers, who are in themselves all of a Rank too mean, and too Scandalous, to have any of these Lines spent about them, or that any one should be con­cern'd at what is, or is not publish'd by them: Turn we to the People abus'd by them, and impos'd upon in their false Accounts of these Things; it must be a particular Satisfaction to those, who are affronted in these Writings, whether Staff, Purse, Mitre, or who else may be design'd under the pretended Characters of those Authors, to be able, as I hear they do already, to assure their Friends, that they are not at all concern'd in these Books which are so positively laid to their Charge. Since the first Discourse which I had with the Quaker aforesaid, I have met with several Persons of undoubted Reputation, who have assur'd me, that all those Persons who have been nam'd by those Authors, to wit, the E. of O—d, late L—d Cha—, the L—d B. of R—, the L—d B—, and others also, do affirm upon all the sacred Things, which bind Men of Honour and Christianity to speak Truth, that they have been no ways concern'd in these Books, either the History of the Staff, or of the Purse and Mitre.

[Page 37]But to put this Matter out of all Question, and to put to Silence the Writers, who have taken upon them to publish to the World, that this, that, and the other Person have written, or caus'd to be written these said Books, En­tituled, The Secret History of the Staff; The Se­cret History of the Mitre and Purse, &c. The Writer of these Sheets makes this brief, but positive Proposal to them, which if they do not accept, they must be Self-condemn'd, and all Men must take their Silence for a Confession of their Guilt; the Proposal is as follows, viz. Let any of the Writers who have fix'd the Writing, or causing these said Books to be written, upon the Person or Direction of the said White Staff, Mitre and Purse, bring any Evidence to prove, that it was so in Fact; and that the said Persons, known to be meant by the said Names of the Staff, Mitre or Purse, did write, or direct to be written, or know of, or consent to the Writing of the said Books, or any Part or Parcel thereof; or that even the said Staff, Purse or Mitre, or any of them did ever see the said Books, or hear of them, or any Part of them, before they were printed and publish'd; I say, let them bring any Evi­dence other than bare Report, or their own Conjectures; and then the Writer of these Sheets will be confronted with and against them, and will ingage himself to prove, who were the Writers of the said Books, or at least, who were the Designers of, and Employ­ers of those, who did write them; and will prove by irrefragable Testimony, that it was impossible any of the said Persons, so repre­sented by the Names of the Staff, the Mitre and [Page 38] Purse, could be concern'd in writing the same, or have any Knowledge directly or indirectly thereof.

These Proposals are so equitable, and must be acknowledg'd so by every just Person, that we might even Appeal to the Authors them­selves, to be the Censurers of their own Wri­tings; and if any of them are incumber'd with those Things call'd Reflections (as it is fear'd much that they are not) they must be brought acknowlege, that they have been too credulous, too forward to charge Men with Crimes, which they could not prove them to be Guilty of; and that they have been too willing to impose upon the Credulity of the Age, insinuating to them, that such and such Persons have been concern'd in such and such Things, when they themselves cannot give any Evidence, that it is so in Truth, or Reason, why the other should believe so.

What Satisfaction these Men would make, for slandering other Persons in such a Manner; That indeed is a Thing, which, it is to be doubted, such Men lay little to Heart; the Men who can satisfy themselves to slander their Enemies, and impose upon their Friends, can ill be suppos'd to concern themselves in making Reparation for the Injury done to the Persons slander'd, as was remark'd at the Be­ginning. I am not concern'd to defend them, let them Answer for themselves; howbeit, for the innocent common People, who are made to believe a Lie by those Men, for their Sakes, I say, it is but just, that such Practices as these should be expos'd, as they deserve; that they may be better inform'd, and may be made to [Page 39] see who they are, that delude and deceive them. These Men, when they read the several Answers to the Books call'd the White Staff, the Mitre and Purse, and therein find such and such Persons of Quality charg'd directly with wri­ting, or hiring others to write thus and thus, have nothing to do but to Enquire, First, How do we know that these Men did write these Things. Secondly, How doth it appear? where doth the Answerer, or Considerer prove the Charge? And if they find that this Charge is not prov'd, or the Proof not attempted in their Writings, why then all the rest is nothing but the most impudent begging the Question, that has ever been known.

The Writer of these Sheets is too well ac­quainted with the Spirit of the Men, who will be offended at this Thing; and that they will defend the Crime of which they are Guilty, by joining thereunto another Crime; that is to say, they will defend one false Thing with say­ing another. They have said already, that these Books were written by such and such Per­sons, and being able to bring no other, or fur­ther Testimony thereof, they will add still, that they affirm it, that it is and must be so: But this is Popery in the most Jesuitical Branch of it, covering a Fraud with a greater Fraud; Protestants are come to a Point in such Things, viz. to believe nothing without some Proof. If it shall be alledg'd, that direct Proof cannot be obtain'd in such Cases; it is reply'd to this, that where positive Proof cannot be obtain'd, no Fact shou'd be positively charg'd: What cannot be prov'd, should not be affirm'd; For, Affirmanti incumbat probatio. They should with [Page 40] Modesty and Caution have Argu'd, if these Things are written by such and such Persons, or by such and such mercenary Hirelings by their Direction, then so and so, prout in their Answers: But not a Man of these Answerers and Considerers, that I have met with, have given themselves the Trouble to use any Mea­sures for a Salvo to their own Reputations; but have shot their Bolts, like the Fool; affirm'd without Probation; Charg'd the Guilt with­out searching for the Evidence; and when the World cometh to be convinc'd of this Part, of what Force can all they have said after it be, with any considering Person?

I shall leave it upon this Issue; Nothing can be more convincing to the Understanding of any Man, than this; These Books have been written and publish'd by Men, unconcern'd in the Fact, who in the Way of their Trade, as Booksellers, &c. have put Romances upon the World; a Sett of Writers, as bad as they, have taken hold of the Subject represented therein; and pretending to Answer the Books, have be­gun with a Falshood, without taking the least Pains to clear it up: As they went on, have charg'd the Writing upon Persons no way con­cern'd therein, without taking one Step to prove, that what they had so charg'd was true. This Stumble being made at the Threshold, all that they have said therein, is most egre­giously wicked; and either false in Fact, or in Consequence: The Persons are injur'd, and their Country abus'd and impos'd upon, in a criminal and abominable Manner.


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