« PreviousContinue »
that proceed from secret habits of virtue. I could not but take notice, that there were many faces among them which were unknown, not only to the multitude, but even to several of their own body.
In the second column, consisting of the men of knowledge, there had been great disputes before they fell into the ranks, which they did not do at last without the positive command of the goddess who presided over the assembly. She had so ordered it, that men of the greatest genius and strongest sense were placed at the head of the column. Behind these were such as had formed their minds very much on the thoughts and writings of others. In the rear of the column were men who had more wit than sense, or more learning than understanding. All living authors of any value were ranged in one of these classes; but I must confess, I was very much surprised to see a great body of editors, critics, commentators, and grammarians, meet with so very ill a reception. They had formed themselves into a body, and with a great deal of arrogance demanded the first station in the column of knowledge; but the goddess, instead of complying with their request, clapped them all into liveries, and bid them know themselves for no other but lacquies of the learned.
The third column were men of business, and consisting of persons in military and civil capacities. The former marched out from the rest, and placed themselves in the front; at which the others shook their heads at them, but did not think fit to dispute the post with them. I could not but make several observations upon this last column of people; but I have certain private reasons why I do not think fit to communicate them to the public. In order to fill
up all the posts of honour, dignity, and profit, there was a draught made out of each column of men who were masters of all three qualifications in some degree, and were preferred to stations of the first rank. The second draught was made out of such as were possessed of any two of the qualifications, who were disposed of in stations of a second dignity. Those who were left, and were endowed only with one of them, had their suitable posts. When this was over, there remained many places of trust and profit unfilled, for which there were fresh draughts made out of the surrounding multitude, who had any appearance of these excellencies, or were recommended by those who possessed them in reality.
All were surprised to see so many new faces in the most eminent dignities; and for my own part, I was very well pleased to see that all my friends either kept their present posts, or were advanced to higher.
Having filled my paper with those particulars of my vision which concern the male part of mankind, I must reserve for another occasion the sequel of it, which relates to the fair sex.
N° 101. THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1, 1709.
Postquam fregit subsellia versu,
JUV. Sat. VII. 87.
But while the common suffrage crown'd his cause,
From my own Apartment, November 30. THE progress of my intended account of what hap pened when justice visited mortals, is at present interrupted by the observation and sense of an injustice against which there is no remedy, even in a kingdom more happy in the care taken of the liberty and property of the subject, than any other nation upon earth. This iniquity is committed by a most impregnable set of mortals, men who are rogues within the law; and in the very commission of what they are guilty of, professedly own that they forbear no injury, but from the terror of being punished for it. These miscreants are a set of wretches we authors call pirates, who print any book, poem, or sermon, as soon as it appears in the world, in a smaller volume; and sell it, as all other thieves do stolen goods, at a cheaper rate. I was in my rage calling them rascals, plunderers, robbers, highwaymen. But they acknowledge all that, and are pleased with those, as well as any other titles; nay, will print them themselves to turn the penny* *.
*This paper seems to have been occasioned by a pirated edition of "The Lucubrations,” which came out just at this time.
I am extremely at a loss how to act against such open enemies, who have not shame enough to be touched with our reproaches, and are as well defended against what we can say as what we can do. Railing, therefore, we must turn into complaint, which I cannot forbear making, when I consider that all the labours of my long life may be disap pointed by the first man that pleases to rob me. had flattered myself, that my stock of learning was worth a hundred and fifty pounds per annum, which would very handsomely maintain me and my little family, who are so happy, or so wise, as to want only necessaries. Before men had come up to this bare-faced impudence, it was an estate to have a competency of understanding.
An ingenious droll, who is since dead (and indeed it is well for him he is so, for he must have starved had he lived to this day), used to give me an account of his good husbandry in the management of his learning. He was a general dealer, and had his amusements as well comical as serious. The merry rogue said, "When he wanted a dinner, he writ a paragraph of Table Talk, and his bookseller upon sight paid the reckoning." He was a very good judge of what would please the people, and could aptly hit both the genius of his readers, and the season of the year, in his writings.
His brain, which was his estate, had as regular and different produce as other men's land. From the beginning of November until the opening of the campaign, he writ pamphlets and letters to members of parliament, or friends in the country. But sometimes he would relieve his ordinary readers with a murder, and lived comfortably a week or two upon strange and lamentable accidents." A little before the armies took the field, his way was to open your attention with a prodigy; and a monster, well
writ, was two guineas the lowest price. This prepared his readers for his "great and bloody news" from Flanders, in June and July. Poor Tom! he is gone-But I observed he always looked well after a battle, and was apparently fatter in a fighting year. Had this honest careless fellow lived until now, famine had stared him in the face, and interrupted his merriment; as it must be a solid affliction to all those whose pen is their portion.
As for my part, I do not speak wholly for my own sake in this point; for palmistry and astrology will bring me in greater gains than these my papers; so that I am only in the condition of a lawyer, who leaves the bar for chamber-practice. However, I may be allowed to speak in the cause of learning itself, and lament that a liberal education is the only one which a polite nation makes unprofitable. All mechanical artizans are allowed to reap the fruit of their invention and ingenuity without invasion; but he that has separated himself from the rest of man kind, and studied the wonders of the creation, the government of his passions, and the revolutions of the world, and has an ambition to communicate the effect of half his life spent in such noble inquiries, has no property in what he is willing to produce, but is exposed to robbery and want, with this melancholy and just reflexion, that he is the only man who is not protected by his country, at the same time that he best deserves it. According to the ordinary rules of computation, the greater the adventure is, the greater ought to be the profit of those who succeed in it; and by this measure, none have pretence of turning their labours to greater advan tage than persons brought up to letters. A learned education, passing through great schools and universities, is very expensive; and consumes a moderate fortune, before it is gone through in its proper