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the verses of his predecessor out of the sign-post, and substituted in their stead two of his own, which were as follow :
Within this Place
Lives Doctor Case. He is said to have got more by this distich than Mr. Dryden did by all his works. There would be no end of enumerating the several imaginary perfections and unaccountable artifices by which this tribe of men insnare the minds of the vulgar, and gain crowds of admirers. I have seen the whole front of a mountebank's stage from one end to the other faced with patents, certificates, medals, and great seals, by which the several princes of Europe have testified their particular respect and esteem for the doctor. Every great man with a sounding title has been his patient. I believe I have seen twenty mountebanks that have given physic to the Czar of Muscovy. The Great Duke of Tuscany escapes no better.
The Elector of Brandenburg was likewise a very good patient. This great condescension of the doctor draws
him much good-will from his audience; and it is ten to one, but if any of them be troubled with an aching tooth, his am
, bition will prompt him to get it drawn by a person who has had so many princes, kings, and emperors under his hands.
I must not leave this subject without observing, that as physicians are apt to deal in poetry, apothecaries endeavour to recommend themselves by oratory, and are therefore, without controversy, the most eloquent persons in the whole British nation. I would not willingly discourage any of the arts, especially that of which I am an humble professor ; but I must confess, for the good of my native country, I could wish there might be a suspension of physic for some years, that our kingdom, which has been so much exhausted by the wars, might have leave to recruit itself.
As for myself, the only physic which has brought me safe to almost the age of man, and which I prescribe to all my
1 friends, is abstinence. This is certainly the best physic for prevention, and very often the most effectual against the present distemper. In short, my recipe is, “Take nothing."
Were the body politic to be physicked like particular persons, I should venture to prescribe to it after the same
I remember when our whole island was shaken
with an earthquake some years ago, there was an impudent mountebank who sold pills, which (as he told the country people) were very good against an earthquake. It may perhaps be thought as absurd to prescribe a diet for the allaying popular commotions and national ferments. But I am verily persuaded, that if in such a case a whole people were to enter into a course of abstinence, and eat nothing but watergruel for a fortnight, it would abate the rage and animosity of parties, and not a little contribute to the cure of a distracted nation. Such a fast would have a natural tendency to the procuring of those ends for which a fast is usually proclaimed. If any man has a mind to enter on such a voluntary abstinence, it might not be improper to give him the caution of Pythagoras in particular:
Abstine a fabis.
" Abstain from beans." That is, say the interpreters, meddle not with elections : beans having been made use of by the voters among the Athenians in the choice of magistrates.
No. 243. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1710.
Infert se septis nebula, mirabile dictu
From my own Apartment, October 27. I HAVE somewhere made mention of Gyges's ring, and intimated to my reader, that it was at present in my possession, though I have not since made any use of it. The tradition concerning this ring is very romantic, and taken notice of both by Plato and Tully, who each of them make an admirable use of it for the advancement of morality. This Gyges was the master shepherd to King Candaules. As he was wandering over the plains of Lydia, he saw a great chasm in the earth, and had the curiosity to enter it. After having descended pretty far into it, he found the statue of an horse in brass, with doors in the sides of it. Upon opening of them, he found the body of a dead man, bigger than ordinary, with a ring upon his finger, which he took off, and put it
The virtues of it were much greater than he at first imagined; for upon his going into the assembly of shepherds, he observed, that he was invisible when he turned the stone of the ring within the palm of his hand, and visible when he turned it towards his company. Had Plato and Cicero been as well versed in the occult sciences as I am, they would have found a great deal of mystic learning in this tradition : but it is impossible for an adept to be understood by one who is not an adept. As for myself
, I have, with much study and application, arrived at this great secret of making myself invisible, and by that means conveying myself where I please; or to speak in Rosycrucian lore, I have entered into the clefts of the earth, discovered the brazen horse, and robbed the dead giant of his ring. The tradition says further of Gyges, that by the means of this ring he gained admission into the most retired parts of the court, and made such use of those opportunities, that he at length became king of Lydia. For my own part, I, who have always rather endeavoured to improve my mind than my fortune, have turned this ring to no other advantage than to get a thorough insight into the ways of men, and to make such observations upon the errors of others, as may be useful to the public, whatever effect they may have upon myself.
About a week ago, not being able to sleep, I got up and put on my magical ring, and with a thought transported myself into a chamber where I saw a light. I found it in
I habited by a celebrated beauty, though she is of that species of women which we call a slattern. Her head-dress and one of her shoes lay upon a chair, her petticoat in one corner of the room, and her girdle, that had a copy of verses made upon it but the day before, with her thread stockings, in the middle of the floor. I was so foolishly officious, that I could not forbear gathering up her clothes together to lay them upon the chair that stood by her bed-side, when, to my great surprise, after a little muttering, she cried out, “What do you do ? Let my petticoat alone.” I was startled at first, but soon found that she was in a dream ; being one of those who (to use Shakspeare's expression) are “so loose of thought," that they utter in their sleep everything that passes in their imagination. I left the apartment of this female rake, and went into her neighbour's, where there lay
a male coquet. He had a bottle of salts hanging over his head, and upon the table, by his bed-side, Suckling's poems, with a little heap of black patches on it. His snuff-box was within reach on a chair: but while I was admiring the disposition which he made of the several parts of his dress, his slumber seemed interrupted by a pang, that was accompanied by a sudden oath, as he turned himself over hastily in his bed. I did not care for seeing him in his nocturnal pains, and left the room.
I was no sooner got into another bed-chamber, but I heard
very harsh words uttered in a smooth, uniform tone. I was amazed to hear so great & volubility in reproach, and thought it too coherent to be spoken by one asleep ; but upon looking nearer, I saw the head-dress of the
who spoke, which showed her to be a female with a man lying by her side broad awake, and as quiet as a lamb. I could not but admire his exemplary patience, and discovered by his whole behaviour, that he was then lying under the discipline of a curtain-lecture.
I was entertained in many other places with this kind of nocturnal eloquence, but observed, that most of those whom I found awake, were kept so either by envy or by love. Some of these were sighing, and others cursing, in soliloquy; some hugged their pillows, and others gnashed their teeth.
The covetous I likewise found to be a very wakeful people. I happened to come into a room where one of them lay sick. His physician and his wife were in close whisper near his bed-side. I overheard the doctor say to the gentlewoman," He cannot possibly live till five in the morning. She received it like the mistress of a family prepared for all events. At the same instant came in a servant maid, who said, “Madam, the undertaker is below according to your order.” The words were scarce out of her mouth, when the sick man cried out with a feeble voice, “ Pray, doctor, how went bank-stock to-day at 'Change ?" This melancholy object made me too serious for diverting myself further this way : but as I was going home, I saw a light in a garret, and entering into it, heard a voice crying' And, hand, stand, band, fann'd, tann’d.” I concluded him by this, and the furniture of his room, to be a lunatic; but upon listening a little longer, perceived it was a poet, writing an heroic upon the ensuing peace.
It was now towards morning, an hour when spirits, witches, and conjurors are obliged to retire to their own apartments; and feeling the influence of it, I was hastening home, when I saw a man had got half way into a neighbour's house. I immediately called to him, and, turning my ring, appeared in my proper person. There is something magisterial in the aspect of the Bickerstaffes, which made him run away in confusion.
As I took a turn or two in my own lodging, I was thinking, that, old as I was, I need not go to bed alone, but that it was in my power to marry the finest lady in this kingdom, if I would wed her with this ring. For what a figure would she that should have it make at a visit, with so perfect a knowledge as this would give her of all the scandal in the town? But instead of endeavouring to dispose of myself and it in matrimony, I resolved to lend it to my loving friend the author of the Atalantis, to furnish a new Secret History of Secret Memoirs.
No. 249. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1710.
Per varios casus, per tot discrimina rerum,
VIRG. From my own Apartment, November 10. I was last night visited by a friend 1 of mine, who has an inexhaustible fund of discourse, and never fails to entertain his company with a variety of thoughts and hints that are altogether new and uncommon. Whether it were in complaisance to my way of living, or his real opinion, he advanced the following paradox, “That it required much greater talents to fill up and become a retired life, than a life of business.” Upon this occasion he rallied very agreeably the busy men of the
age, who only valued themselves for being in motion, and passing through a series of trifling and insignificant actions. In the heat of his discourse, seeing a piece of money lying on my table, I defy (says he) any of these active persons to
Swift. See his Letters to Mrs. Johnson. Letter X. Nov. 25, 1710, p. 115.-Swift then invented the subject : but it is not so much the invention of a story, as the manner of telling it, that constitutes the merit of