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To complete the experiment, I prevailed upon a friend of mine, who works under me in the Occult Sciences, to make a progress with my glass through the whole island of Great Britain : and after his return, to present me with a register of his observations. I guessed before-hand at the temper of several places he passed through, by the characters they have had time out of mind. Thus that facetious divine, Dr. Fuller, speaking of the town of Banbury near a hundred years ago, tells' us, it was a place famous for cakes and zeal, which I find by my glass is true to this day, as to the latter part of this description; though I must confess, it is not in the same reputation for cakes that it was in the time of that learned author; and thus of other places. In short, I have now by me, digested in an alphabetical order, all the counties, corporations, and boroughs in Great Britain, with their respective tempers, as they stand related to my Thermometer. But this I shall keep to myself, because I would by no means do any thing that may seem to influence any ensuing elections.
The point of doctrine which I would propagate by this my invention, is the same which was long ago advanced by that able teacher Horace, out of whom I have taken my text for this discourse. We should be careful not to over-shoot ourselves in the pursuits even of virtue. Whether Zeal or Moderation be the point we aim at, let us keep fire out of the one, and frost out of the other. But, alas! the world is too wise to want such a precaution. The terms High Church and Low Church, as commonly used, do not so much denote a principle, as they distinguish a party. They are like words of battle, they have nothing to do with their original signification; but are only given out to keep a body of men together, and to let them know friends from * enemies.
I must confess I have considered, with some little attention, the influence which the opinions of these great nation sects have upon their practice; and do look upon it as one of the unaccountable things of our times, that multitudes of honest gentlemen, who entirely agree in their lives, should take it in their heads to differ in their religion.
N° 221. THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 1710.
-Sicut meus est mos,
Hor. 1 Sat. ix. 1.
FRANCIS. From my own Apartment, September 6. As I was this morning going out of my house, a little boy in a black coat delivered me the following letter. Upon asking who he was, he told me, that he belonged to my Lady Gimcrack.
I did not at first recollect the name; but, upon inquiry, I found it to be the widow of Sir Nicholas, whose legacy I lately gave some account of to the world. The letter ran thus :
- Mr. Bickerstaff, “I hope you will not be surprised to receive a letter from the widow Gimcrack. You know, Sir, that I have lately lost a very whimsical husband, who I find by one of your last week's Papers, was not altogether a stranger to you. When I married this gentleman, he had a very handsome estate; but upon buying a set of microscopes, he was chosen a Fellow of the Royal Society; from which time I do not remember ever to have heard him speak as other people did, or talk in a manner that any of his family could understand him. He used, how
ever, to pass away his time very innocently in conversation with several members of that learned body; for which reason, I never advised him against their company for several years, until at last I found his brain quite turned with their discourses. The first symptom which he discovered of his being a Virtuoso, as you call him, poor man! was about fifteen years ago; when he gave me positive orders to turn off an old weeding-woman, that had been employed in the family for some years. He told me, at the same time, that there was no such thing in nature as a weed, and that it was his design to let his garden produce what it pleased; so that, you may
be sure, it makes a very pleasant show as it now lies. About the same time he took a humour to ramble up and down the country, and would often bring home with him his pockets full of moss and pebbles. This, you may be sure, gave me a heavy heart; though at the same time I must needs say, he had the character of
honest notwithstanding he was reckoned a little weak, until he began to sell his estate, and buy those strange baubles that
have taken notice of. Upon Midsummer-day last, as he was walking with me in the fields, he saw a very odd coloured butterfly just before us. I observed that he immediately changed colour, like a man that is surprised with a piece of good luck; and telling me, that it was what he had looked for above these twelve years, he threw off his coat, and followed it. I lost sight of them both in less than a quarter of an hour; but my
husband continued the chace over hedge and ditch until about sunset; at which time, as I was afterwards told, he caught the butterfly as she rested herself upon a cabbage, near five miles from the place where he first put her up.
He was here lifted from the ground by some passengers in a very fainting condition, and brought home to me about midnight.
His violent cxercise threw him into a fever, which grew upon him by degrees, and at last carried him off. In one of the intervals of his distemper he called to me, and after having excused himself for running out his estate, he told me, that he had always been more industrious to improve his mind than his fortune: and that his family much rather value themselves upon his memory as he was a wise man, than a rich one. He then told me, that it was a custom among the Romans for a man to give his slaves their liberty when he lay upon his death-bed. I could not imagine what this meant, until, after having a little composed himself, he ordered me to bring him a flea which he had kept for several months in a chain, with a design, as he said, to give it its manumission. This was done accordingly. He then made the Will, which I have since seen printed in your Works word for word. Only I must take notice, that you have omitted the codicil, in which he left a large Concha Veneris, as it is there called, to a Member of the Royal Society, who was often with him in his sickness, and assisted him in his Will. And now, Sir, I come to the chief business of my letter, which is to desire your friendship and assistance in the disposal of those many rarities and curiosities which lie upon my hands. If you know any one that has an occasion for a parcel of dried spiders, I will sell them a pennyworth. I could likewise let any one have a bargain of cockleshells. I would also desire your advice, whether I had best sell my beetles in a lump, or by retail. The gentleman above-mentioned, who was my husband's friend, would have me make an auction of all his goods, and is now drawing up a catalogue of every particular for that purpose, with the two following words in great letters over the head of them, Auctio Gimcrackiana. But upon talking with him, I began to suspect he is as mad as poor Sir Nicholas was. Your advice in all these particulars will be a great piece of charity to,
I shall' answer the foregoing letter, and give the widow
my best advice, as soon as I can find out chapmen for the wares which she has put off. In the mean time, I shall give my reader the sight of a letter, which I have received from another female correspondent by the same post.
“ Good Mr. Bickerstaff, “I am convinced by a late paper of your's, that a passionate woman, who among the common people goes under the name of a scold, is one of the most insupportable creatures in the world. But, alas ! Sir, what can we do? I have made a thousand vows add resolutions every morning to guard myself against this frailty ; but have generally broken them before dinner, and could never in my life hold out until the second course was set upon the table. What most troubles me is, that my husband is as patient and good-natured
as your own Worship, or any man living can be. Pray give me some directions, for I would observe the strictest and severest rules
you can think of to cure myself of this distemper, which is apt to fall into my tongue every moment. I am, Sir,
Your most humble servant, &c."
In answer to this most unfortunate lady I must acquaint her, that there is now in town an ingenious physician of my acquaintance, who undertakes to cure all the vices and defects of the mind by inward medicines or outward applications. I shall give the