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Comets belonging thereto. Described from Dr. Halley's accurate Table of Comets, Philosoph. Transact. No. 297, founded on Sir Isaac Newton's wonderful discoveries, by Wm. Whiston, M. A.
To Nestor Ironside, Esq. at Button's Coffee-house, near
London, July 11, 1713.
“ Having a discovery of considerable importance to communicate to the public, and finding that you are pleased to concern yourself in any thing that tends to the common benefit of mankind, we take the liberty to desire the insertion of this letter into your Guardian. We expect no other recommendation of it from you, but the allowing of it a place in so useful a paper. Nor do we insist on any protection from you, if what we propose should fall short of what we pretend to; since any disgrace, which in that case must be expected, ought to lie wholly at our own doors, and to be entirely borne by ourselves, which we hope we have provided for by putting our own names to this paper.
" 'Tis well known, sir, to yourself, and to the learned, and trading, and sailing world, that the great defect of the art of navigation is, that a ship at sea has no certain method, in either her eastern or western voyages, or even in her less distant sailing from the coasts, to know her longitude, or how much she has gone eastward or westward; as it can easily be known in any clear day or night, how much she is gone northward or southward: the several methods by lunar eclipses, by those of Jupiter's satellites, by the appulses of the moon to fixed stars, and by the even motions of pendulum clocks and watches, upon how solid foundations soever they are built, still failing in long voyages at sea when they come to be practised ; and leaving the poor sailors to the great inaccuracy of a log.line, or dead reckoning. This defect is so great, and so many ships have been lost by it, and this has been so long and so sensibly known by trading nations, that great rewards are said to be publicly offered for its supply. We are well satisfied, that the discovery we have to make as to this matter, is easily intelligible by all, and readily to be practised at sea as well as at land; that the latitude will thereby be likewise found at the same time, and that with proper changes it may be made as universal as the world shall please; nay, that the longitude and latitude may be generally hereby determined to a greater degree of exactness than the latitude itself is now usually found at sea. So that on all accounts we hope it will appear very worthy the public consideration. We are ready to disclose it to the world, if we may be assured that no other persons shall be allowed to deprive us of those rewards which the public shall think fit to bestow for such a discovery; but do not desire actually to receive any benefit of that nature, antil Sir Isaac Newton himself, with such other proper persons as shall be chosen to assist him, have given their opinion in favour of this discovery. If Mr. Ironside pleases so far to oblige the public as to communicate this proposal to the world, he will also lay a great obligation on,
No. 108. WEDNESDAY, JULY 15.
A bjectibus juvenes patriis et montibus æqui-Virg.
I do not care for burning my fingers in a quarrel, but since I have communicated to the world a plan, which has given offence to some gentlemen whom it would not be very safe to disoblige, I must insert the following remonstrance; and, at the same time, promise those of my correspondents who have drawn this upon themselves, to exhibit to the public any such answer as they shall think proper to make to it.
MR. GUARDIAN, “I was very much troubled to see the two letters which you lately published concerning the Short Club. You cannot imagine what airs all the little pragmatical fellows about us have given themselves, since the reading of those papers. Every one cocks and struts upon it, and pretends to over-look us who are two foot higher than themselves. I met with one the other day who was at least three inches above five foot, which you know is the statutable measure of that club. This overgrown runt has struck off his heels, lowered his foretop, and contracted his figure, that he might be looked upon as a member of this new-erected society; nay, so far did his vanity carry him, that he talked familiarly of Tom Tiptoe, and pretends to be an intimate acquaintance of Tim. Tuck. For my part, I scorn to speak any thing to the diminution of these little creatures, and should not have minded them, kad they been still shuffled among the crowd. Shrubs and underwoods look well enough while they grow within the shade of oaks and cedars, but when these pigmies pretend to draw themselves out from the rest of the world, and form themselves into a body, it is time for us, who are men of figure, to look about us.
If the ladies should once take a liking to such a diminutive race of lovers, we should, in a little time, see mankind epitomized, and the whole species in miniature; daisy roots would grow a fashionable diet." In order, therefore, to keep our posterity from dwindling, and fetch down the pride of this aspiring race of upstarts, we have here instituted a Tall Club.
“ As the short club consists of those who are under five foot, ours is to be composed of such as are above six. These we look upon as the two extremes and antagonists of the species; considering all those as neuters who fill up the middle space. When a man rises beyond six foot, he is an hypermeter, and may be admitted into the tall club.
“We have already chosen thirty members, the most sightly of all her Majesty's subjects. We elected a president, as many of the ancients did their kings, by reason of his height, having only confirmed him in that station above us which nature had given him. He is a Scotch Highlander, and within an inch of a show. As for my own part, I am but a sesquipedal, having only six foot and a half of stature. Being the shortest member of the club, I am appointed secretary. If you saw us all together, you would take us for the sons of Anak. Our meetings are held, like the old Gothic parliaments, sub dio, in open air; but we shall make an interest, if we can, that we may hold our assemblies in Westminster Hall when it is not term-time. I must add, to the honour of our club, that it is one of our society who is now find. ing out the longitude. The device of our public seal is a crane grasping a pigmy in his right foot.
“I know the short club value themselves very much upon Mr. Distich, who may possibly play some of his Pentameters upon us, but if he does, he shall certainly be answered in Alexandrines.
Daisy roots boiled in milk, are said to check the growth of puppies. —*
For we have a poet among us of a genius as exalted as his stature, and who is very well read in Longinus's treatise concerning the sublime." Besides, I would have Mr. Distich consider, that if Horace was a short man, Musæus, who makes such a noble figure in Virgil's sixth Æneid, was taller by the head and shoulders than all the people of Elizium. I shall, therefore, confront his lepidissimum homuncionem (a short quotation, and fit for a member of their club) with one that is much longer, and therefore more suitable to a member of ours.
Quos circumfusos sic est affata Sibylla,
To these the Sybil first her speech addressed,
"If, after all, this society of little men proceed as they have begun, to magnify themselves, and lessen men of higher stature, we have resolved to make a detachment, some evening or other, that shall bring away their whole club in a pair of panniers, and imprison them in a cupboard which we have set apart for that use, till they have made a public recantation. As for the little bully, Tim. Tuck, if he pretends to be choleric, we shall treat him like his friend little Dicky, and hang him upon a peg till he comes to himself. I have told you our design, and let their little Machiavel prevent it if he can.
“ This is, sir, the long and the short of the matter. I am sensible I shall stir up a nest of wasps by it, but let them do their worst, I think that we serve our country by discouraging
* Leonard Webster, whose translation of Longinus first appeared in 1712.-* h Musæus.--*