Page images
PDF
EPUB

gone far in the third great road, before it led them insensibly into a deep valley, in which they journeyed several days with great toil and uneasiness, and without the necessary refreshments of food and sleep. The only relief they met with, was in a river that ran through the bottom of the valley on a bed of golden sand : they often drank of this stream, which had such a particular quality in it, that though it refreshed them for a time, it rather inflamed than quenched their thirst. On each side of the river was a range of hills full of precious ore; for where the rains had washed off the earth, one might see in several parts of them veins of gold, and rocks that looked like pure silver. We were told, that the deity of the place had forbade any of his votaries to dig into the bowels of these hills, or convert the treasures they contained to any use, under pain of starving. At the end of the valley, stood the Temple of Avarice, made after the manner of a fortification, and surrounded with a thousand tripleheaded dogs, that were placed there to keep off beggars. At our approach they all fell a barking, and would have very much terrified us, had not an old woman, who had called herself by the forged name of Competency, offered herself for our guide. She carried under her garment a golden bough, which she no sooner held up in her hand, but the dogs lay down, and the gates flew open for our reception. We were led through an hundred iron doors, before we entered the temple. At the upper end of it sat the god of Avarice, with a long filthy beard, and a meagre starved countenance, enclosed with heaps of ingots and pyramids of money, but half naked and shivering with cold. On his right hand was a fiend called Rapine, and on his left a particular favourite to whom he had given the title of Parsimony. The first was his collector, and the other his cashier.

There were several long tables placed on each side of the temple, with respective officers attending behind thein. Some of these I inquired into. At the first table was kept the office of Corruption. Seeing a solicitor extremely busy, and whispering every body that passed by, I kept my eye upon him very attentively, and saw him often going up to a person that had a pen in his hand, with a multiplication table and an almanack before him, which, as I afterwards heard, was all the learning he was master of. The solicitor would often apply himself to his ear, and at the same time convey money into his hand, for which the other would give him out a piece of paper or parchment, signed and sealed in form. The name of this dextrous and successful solicitor was Bribery. At the next table was the office of Extortion. Behind it sat a person in a bob-wig, counting over a great sum of money. He gave out little purses to several, who after a short tour, brought him in return, sacks full of the same kind of coin. I saw at the same time, a person called Fraud, who sat behind a counter with false scales, light weights, and scanty measures; by the skilful application of which instruments, she had got together an immense heap of wealth. It would be endless to name the several officers, or describe the votaries that attended in this temple. There were many old men panting and breathless, reposing their heads on bags of money; nay, many of them actually dying, whose very pangs and convulsions (which rendered their purses useless to them) only made them grasp the faster.

There were some tearing with one hand all things, even to the garments and flesh of many miserable persons who stood before them, and with the other hand throwing away what they had seized, to harlots, flatterers, and panders, that stood behind them.

On a sudden the whole assembly fell a trembling, and upon inquiry, I found, that the great room we were in was haunted with a spectre, that many times a day appeared to them, and terrified them to distraction.

In the midst of their terror and amazement, the apparition entered, which I immediately knew to be Poverty. Whether it were by my acquaintance with this phantom, which had rendered the sight of her more familiar to me, or, however it was, she did not make so indigent or frightful a figure in my eye, as the god of this loathsome temple. The miserable votaries of this place, were, I found, of another mind. Every one fancied himself threatened by the apparition as she stalked about the room, and began to lock their coffers, and tie their bags, with the utmost fear and trembling

I must confess, I look upon the passion which I saw in this unhappy people to be of the same nature with those unaccountable antipathies which some persons are born with, or rather as a kind of phrenzy, not unlike that which throws a man into terrors and agonies at the sight of so useful and innocent a thing as water. The whole assembly was surprised, when, instead of paying my devotions to the deity whom they all adored, they saw me address myself to the phantom.

“ Oh Poverty! (said I) my first petition to thee is, that thou wouldst never appear to me hereafter ; but if thou wilt not grant me this, that thou wouldst not bear a form more terrible than that in which thou appearest to me at present. Let not thy threats and menaces betray me to any thing that is ungrateful or unjust. Let me not shut my ears to the cries of the needy. Let me not forget the person that has deserved well of me. Let me not, for any fear of thee, desert my friend, my principles, or my honour. If Wealth is to visit me, and to come with her usual attendants, Vanity and Avarice, do thou, Oh Poverty ! hasten to my rescue; but bring along with thee the two sisters, in whose company thou art always cheerful, Liberty and In

nocence.

The conclusion of this vision must be deferred to another opportunity.

No. 131. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 1709.

Scelus est jugulare falernum,
Et dare Campano toxica sava mero.-Mart.

Sheer-Lane, February 8. Tuere is in this city a certain fraternity of chymical operators, who work under ground in holes, caverns, and dark retirements, to conceal their mysteries from the eyes and observation of mankind. These subterranean philosophers are daily employed in the transmigration of liquors, and, by the power of medical drugs and incantations, raising under the streets of London, the choicest products of the hills and valleys of France. They can squeeze Bourdeaux out of a sloe, and draw Champagne from an apple. Virgil, in that remarkable prophecy,

Incultisque rubens pendebit Sentibus Uva.

" The ripening grape shall hang on every thorn." seems to have hinted at this art, which can turn a plantation of northern hedges into a vineyard. These adepts are known among one another by the name of wine-brewers, and I am afraid do great injury, not only to her majesty's customs, but to the bodies of many of her good subjects.

Having received sundry complaints against these invisible workmen, I ordered the proper officer of my court to ferret them out of their respective caves, and bring them before me, which was yesterday executed accordingly.

The person who appeared against them was a merchant, who had by him a great magazine of wines that he had laid in before the war: but these gentlemen (as he said) had so vitiated the nation's palate, that no man could believe his to be French, because it did not taste like what they sold for such. As a man never pleads better than where his own personal interest is concerned,

he exhibited to the court with great eloquence, That this new corporation of druggists had inflamed the bills of mortality, and puzzled the college of physicians with diseases, for which they neither knew a name nor cure. He accused some of giving all their customers cholic

and megrims; and mentioned one who had boasted, he had a tun of claret by him, that in a fortnight's time should give the gout to a dozen of.the healthfullest men in the city, provided that their constitutions were prepared for it by wealth and idleness. He then enlarged, with a great show of reason, upon the prejudice which these mixtures and compositions had done to the brains of the English nation; as is too visible (said he) from many late pamphlets, speeches, and sermons, as well as from the ordinary conversations of the youth of this age. He then quoted an ingenious person, who would undertake to know by a man's writings, the wine he most delighted in; and on that occasion named a certain satirist, whom he had discovered to be the author of a lampoon, by a manifest taste of the sloe, which showed itself in it by much roughness, and little spirit.

In the last place, he ascribed to the unnatural tumults and fermentations, which these mixtures raise in our blood, the divi. sions, heats, and animosities, that reign among us; and in particular, asserted most of the modern enthusiasms and agitations to be nothing else but the effects of adulterated port.

The counsel for the brewers had a face so extremely inflamed and illuminated with carbuncles, that I did not wonder to see him an advocate for these sophistications. His rhetoric was likewise such as I should have expected from the common draught, which I found he often drank to a great excess. Indeed, I was so surprised at his figure and parts, that I ordered him to give me a taste of his usual liquor; which I had no sooner drank, but I found a pimple rising in my forehead; and felt such a sensible decay in

« PreviousContinue »