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some more gentle term, of equal signification; because I am convinced that the very name is as offensive to female ears as the effects of that incurable distemper are to the ears of the men; which, to be sure, is inexpressible.
And that it hath been always customary to honor the very same kind of actions with different appellations, only to avoid giving offence, is evident to common observation.
For instance: How many lawyers, attorneys, solicitors, under-sheriffs, intriguing chambermaids, and counter-officers, are continually guilty of extortion, bribery, oppression, and many other profitable knaveries, to drain the purses of those with whom they are in any way concerned! And yet all these different expedients to raise a fortune pass generally under the milder names of fees, perquisites, vales, presents, gratuities, and such like; although, in strictness of speech, they should be called robbery, and consequently be rewarded with a gibbet.
Nay, how many honorable gentlemen might be enumerated who keep open shop to make a trade of iniquity; who teach the law to wink whenever power or profit appears in her way: and contrive to grow rich by the vice, the contention, or the follies of mankind; and who, nevertheless, instead of being branded with the harshsounding names of knaves, pilferers, or public oppressors, (as they justly merit,) are only distinguished by the title of justices of the peace; in which single term, all those several appellations are generally thought to be implied.
But to proceed. When first I determined to prepare this scheme for the use and inspection of the public, I intended to examine one whole ward in this city, that my computation of the number of incurable scolds might be more perfect and exact. But I found it impossible to finish my progress through more than one street.
I made my first application to a wealthy citizen in Cornhill, common councilman for his ward, to whom I hinted, that if he knew e'er an incurable scold in the neighborhood, I had some hope to provide for her in such a manner as to hinder her from being further troublesome. He referred me with great delight to his nextdoor friend; yet whispered me, that, with much greater ease and pleasure, he could furnish me out of his own family, and begged the preference.
His next-door friend owned readily that his wife's qualifications were not misrepresented, and that he would cheerfully contribute to promote so useful a scheme; but positively asserted, that it would
be of small service to rid the neighborhood of one woman, while such multitudes would remain all equally insupportable.
By which circumstance I conjectured that the quantity of these incurables in London, Westminster, and Southwark, would be very considerable, and that a generous contribution might reasonably be expected for such an hospital as I am recommending.
Besides, the number of these female incurables would probably be very much increased by additional quantities of old maids, who, being wearied with concealing their ill-humor for one-half of their lives, are impatient to give it full vent in the other. For old maids, like old thin-bodied wines, instead of growing more agreeable by years, are observed, for the most part, to become intolerably sharp, sour, and useless.
Under this denomination also we may expect to be furnished with as large a collection of old bachelors, especially those who have estates, and but a moderate degree of understanding. For an old wealthy bachelor, being perpetually surrounded with a set of flatterers, cousins, poor dependants, and would-be heirs, who, for their own views, submit to his perverseness and caprice, becomes insensibly infected with this scolding malady, which generally proves incurable, and renders him disagreeable to his friends, and a fit subject for ridicule to his enemies.
As to the incurable scribblers, (of which society I have the honor to be a member,) they probably are innumerable; and, of consequence, it will be absolutely impossible to provide for one-tenth part of their fraternity. However, as this set of incurables are generally more plagued with poverty than any other, it will be a double charity to admit them on the foundation; a charity to the world, to whom they are a common pest and nuisance; and a charity to themselves, to relieve them from want, contempt, kicking, and several other accidents of that nature, to which they are continually liable.
Grub-street itself would then have reason to rejoice to see so many of its half-starved manufacturers amply provided for, and the whole tribe of meagre incurables would probably shout for joy at being delivered from the tyranny and garrets of printers, publishers, and booksellers.
What a mixed multitude of ballad-writers, ode-makers, translators, farce-compounders, opera-mongers, biographers, pamphleteers, and journalists would appear crowding to the hospital; not unlike the brutes resorting to the ark before the deluge! And what an universal satisfaction would such a sight afford to all, except pastry
cooks, grocers, chandlers, and tobacco-retailers, to whom alone the writings of those incurables were anyway profitable!
I have often been amazed to observe what a variety of incurable coxcombs are to be met with between St. James's and Limehouse, at every hour of the day; as numerous as Welsh parsons, and equally contemptible. How they swarm in all coffee-houses, theatres, publie walks, and private assemblies; how they are incessantly employed in cultivating intrigues, and every kind of irrational pleasure; how industrious they seem to mimic the appearance of monkeys, as monkeys are emulous to imitate the gestures of men: and from such observations I concluded, that to confine the greatest part of those incurables, who are so many living burlesques of human nature, would be of eminent service to this nation; and I am persuaded that I am far from being singular in that opinion.
As for the incurable infidels and liars, I shall range them under the same article, and would willingly appoint them the same apartment in the hospital; because there is a much nearer resemblance between them than is generally imagined.
Have they not an equal delight in imposing falsities on the public, and seem they not equally desirous to be thought of more sagacity and importance than others? Do they not both report what both know to be false; and both confidently assert what they are conscious is most liable to contradiction?
The parallel might easily be carried on much further, if the intended shortness of this essay would admit it. However, I cannot forbear taking notice, with what immense quantities of incurable liars his majesty's kingdoms are overrun; what offence and prejudice they are to the public; what inconceivable injury to private persons; and what a necessity there is for an hospital, to relieve the nation from the curse of so many incurables.
This distemper appears almost in as many different shapes as there are persons afflicted with it; and, in every individual, is always beyond the power of medicine.
Some lie for their interest, such as fishmongers, flatterers, pimps, lawyers, fortune-hunters, and fortune-tellers; and others lie for their entertainment, as maids, wives, widows, and all other tea-table attendants.
Some lie out of vanity, as poets, painters, players, fops, military officers, and all those who frequent the levees of the great: and others lie out of ill-nature, as old maids, &c.
Some lie out of custom, as lovers, coxcombs, footmen, sailors, me
chanics, merchants, and chamber-maids; and others lie out of complaisance or necessity, as courtiers, chaplains, &c. In short, it were endless to enumerate them all, but this sketch may be sufficient to give us some small imperfect idea of their numbers.
As to the remaining incurables, we may reasonably conclude that they bear at least an equal proportion to those already mentioned; but with regard to the incurable whores in this kingdom, I must particularly observe, that such of them as are public, and make it their profession, have proper hospitals for their reception already, if we could find magistrates without passions or officers without an incurable itch to a bribe. And such of them as are private, and make it their amusement, I should be unwilling to disturb, for two
First, because it might probably afflict many noble, wealthy, contented, and unsuspecting husbands, by convincing them of their own dishonor, and the unpardonable disloyalty of their wives: and, secondly, because it will be for ever impossible to confine a woman from being guilty of any kind of misconduct when once she is firmly resolved to attempt it.
From all which observations, every reasonable man must infallibly be convinced, that an hospital for the support of these different kinds of incurables would be extremely beneficial to these kingdoms. I think, therefore, that nothing further is wanting, but to demonstrate to the public that such a scheme is very practicable, both by having an undoubted method to raise an annual income, at least sufficient to make the experiment, (which is the way of founding all hospitals,) and by having also a strong probability, that such an hospital would be supported by perpetual benefactions; which, in very few years, might enable us to increase the number of incurables to nine-tenths more than we can reasonably venture on at first.
A Computation of the Daily and Annual Expenses of an Hospital, to be erected for Incurables.
INCURABLE fools are almost infinite; however, at first, I
Incurable scolds would be plentifully supplied from almost
Incurable infidels (as they affect to be called) should be re-
The incurable envious are in vast quantities throughout this whole nation. Nor can it reasonably be expected that their numbers should lessen, while fame and honors are heaped upon some particular persons, as the public reward of their superior accomplishments, while others, who are equally excellent in their own opinions, are constrained, to live unnoticed and contemned. And, as it would be impossible to provide for all those who are possessed with this distemper, I should consent to admit only twenty thousand at first, by way of experiment, amounting to.....