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Of the incurable vain, affected, and impertinent, I should at least admit ten thousand; which number I am confident will appear very inconsiderable, if we include all degrees of females, from the duchess to the chambermaid; all poets, who have had a little success, especially in the dramatic way, and all players, who have met with a small degree of approbation. Amounting only to ...... By which plain computation it is evident that two hundred thousand persons will be daily provided for, and the allowance for maintaining this collection of incurables may be seen in the following account:—
From whence it appears, that the daily expense will amount
And I am fully satisfied that a sum much greater than this may easily be raised, with all possible satisfaction to the subject, and without interfering in the least with the revenues of the crown.
In the first place, a large proportion of this sum might be raised by the voluntary contribution of the inhabitants.
The computed number of people in Great Britain is very little less than eight millions, of which, upon a most moderate computation, we may account one-half to be incurables. And as all those different incurables, whether acting in the capacity of friends, acquaintances, wives, husbands, daughters, counsellors, parents, old maids, or old bachelors, are inconceivable plagues to all those with whom they happen to be concerned; and, as there is no hope of being eased of such plagues, except by such an hospital, which by degrees might be enlarged to contain them all, I think it cannot be doubted, that at least three millions and a half of people, out of the remaining proportion, would be found both able and desirous to contribute so small a sum as 20s. per annum for the quiet of the kingdom, the peace of private families, and the credit of the nation in general. And this contribution would amount to very near our requisite sum.
Nor can this by any means be esteemed a wild conjecture; for where is there a man of common sense, honesty, or good-nature, who would not gladly propose even a much greater sum to be freed from a scold, a knave, a fool, a liar, a coxcomb conceitedly repeating the compositions of others, or a vain impertinent poet repeating his own?
In the next place, it may justly be supposed, that many young noblemen, knights, squires, and extravagant heirs, with very large estates, would be confined in our hospital. And I would propose, that the annual income of every particular incurable's estate should be appropriated to the use of the house. But, besides these, there will undoubtedly be many old misers, aldermen, justices, directors of companies, templars, and merchants of all kinds whose personal fortunes are immense, and who should proportionably pay to the hospital. Yet, lest by being here misunderstood I should seem to propose an unjust or oppressive scheme, I shall further explain my design
Suppose, for instance, a young nobleman possessed of 10,000l. or 20,000l. per annum should accidentally be confined there as an incurable, I would have only such a proportion of his estate applied to the support of the hospital as he himself would spend if he were at liberty. And, after his death, the profits of the estate should. regularly devolve to the next lawful heir, whether male or female.
And my reason for this proposal is, because considerable estates, which probably would be squandered away among hounds, horses, whores, sharpers, surgeons, tailors, pimps, masquerades, or architects, if left to the management of such incurables, would, by this means, become of some real use, both to the public and themselves. And perhaps this may be the only method which can be found to make such young spendthrifts of any real benefit to their country.
And although the estates of deceased incurables might be permitted to descend to the next heirs, the hospital would probably sustain no great disadvantage; because it is very likely that most of these heirs would also gradually be admitted under some denomination or other, and consequently their estates would again devolve to the use of the hospital.
As to the wealthy misers, &c., I would have their private fortunes nicely examined and calculated; because if they were old bachelors, (as it would frequently happen,) their whole fortunes should be appropriated to the endowment: but, if married, I would leave twothirds of their fortunes for the support of their families; which families would cheerfully consent to give away the remaining third, if not more, to be freed from such peevish and disagreeable governors. So that, deducting from the 200,000 incurables the 40,000 scrib
blers, who to be sure would be found in very bad circumstances, I believe, among the remaining 160,000 fools, knaves, and coxcombs, so many would be found of large estates and easy fortunes, as would at least produce 200,000l. per annum.
As a further addition to our endowment, I would have a tax upon all inscriptions and tombstones, monuments and obelisks, erected to the honor of the dead; or on porticoes and trophies to the honor of the living; because these will naturally and properly come under the article of lies, pride, vanity, &c.
And if all inscriptions throughout this kingdom were impartially examined, in order to tax those which should appear demonstrably false or flattering, I am convinced that not one-fifth part of the number would after such a scrutiny, escape exempted.
Many an ambitious turbulent spirit would then be found belied with the opposite title of lover of his country; and many a Middlesex justice, as improperly described, sleeping in hope of salvation.
Many an usurer discredited by the appellations of honest and frugal; and many a lawyer, with the character of conscientious and equitable.
Many a British statesman and general decaying with more honor than they lived, and their dusts distinguished with a better reputation than when they were animated.
Many dull parsons, improperly styled eloquent, and as many stupid physicians, improperly styled learned.
Yet, notwithstanding the extensiveness of a tax upon such monumental impositions, I will count only upon 20,000, at 57. per annum each, which will amount to 100,000l. annually.
To these annuities I would also request the parliament of this nation to allow the benefit of two lotteries yearly, by which the hospital would gain 200,000l. clear. Nor can such a request seem any way extraordinary, since it would be appropriated to the benefit of fools and knaves, which is the sole cause of granting one for this present year.
In the last place, I would add the estate of Richard Norton, esq.; and to do his memory all possible honor, I would have his statue erected in the very first apartment of the hospital, or in any other which might seem more apt. And on his monument I would permit a long inscription, composed by his dearest friends, which should remain tax-free for ever.
From these several articles therefore, would annually arise the following sums:—
By the tax upon tombstones, monuments, &c. (that of Rich
And the necessary sum for the hospital being There will remain annually over and above Which sum of 356,000l. should be applied towards erecting the building, and answer accidental expenses, in such a manner as should seem most proper to promote the design of the hospital But the whole management of it should be left to the skill and discretion of those who are to be constituted governors.
It may indeed prove a work of some small difficulty to fix upon a commodious place, large enough for a building of this nature. I should have thoughts of attempting to enclose all Yorkshire, if I were not apprehensive that it would be crowded with so many in curable knaves of its own growth, that there would not be the least room left for the reception of any others; by which accident our whole project might be retarded for some time.
Thus have I set this matter in the plainest light I could, that every one may judge of the necessity, usefulness, and practicableness of this scheme: and I shall only add a few scattered hints, which, to me, seem not altogether unprofitable.
I think the prime-minister for the time being ought largely to contribute to such a foundation; because his high station and merits must of necessity infect a great number with envy, hatred, lying, and such sort of distempers; and, of consequence, furnish the hos pital annually with many incurables.
I would desire that the governors appointed to direct this hospital should have (if such a thing were possible) some appearance of religion and belief in God; because those who are to be admitted as incurable infidels, atheists, deists, and freethinkers, most of which tribe are only so out of pride, conceit, and affectation, might perhaps grow gradually into believers, if they perceived it to be the custom of the place where they lived.
Although it be not customary for the natives of Ireland to meet with any manner of promotion in this kingdom, I would in this respect have that national prejudice entirely laid aside, and request that, for the reputation of both kingdoms, a large apartment in the hospital may be fitted up for Irishmen particularly, who, either by knavery, lewdness, or fortune-hunting, should appear qualified for
admittance; because their numbers would certainly be very considerable.
I would further request that a father, who seems delighted at seeing his son metamorphosed into a fop, or a coxcomb, because he hath travelled from London to Paris, may be sent along with the young gentleman to the hospital, as an old fool, absolutely incurable.
If a poet hath luckily produced anything, especially in the dramatic way, which is tolerably well received by the public, he should be sent immediately to the hospital; because incurable vanity is always the consequence of a little success. And, if his compositions be ill received, let him be admitted as a scribbler.
And I hope, in regard to the great pains I have taken about this scheme, that I shall be admitted upon the foundation as one of the scribbling incurables. But as an additional favor, I entreat that I may not be placed in an apartment with a poet who hath employed his genius for the stage; because he will kill me with repeating his own compositions: and I need not acquaint the world, that it is extremely painful to bear any nonsense - except our own.
My private reason for soliciting so early to be admitted is, because it is observed that schemers and projectors are generally reduced to beggary; but, by my being provided for in the hospital, either as an incurable fool or a scribbler, that discouraging observation will for once be publicly disproved, and my brethren in that way will be secure of a public reward for their labors.
It gives me, I own, a great degree of happiness, to reflect, that although in this short treatise the characters of many thousands are contained, among the vast variety of incurables, yet not any one person is likely to be offended; because it is natural to apply ridiculous characters to all the world except ourselves. And I dare be bold to say, that the most incurable fool, knave, scold, coxcomb, scribbler, or liar in this whole nation, will sooner enumerate the circle of their acquaintance as addicted to those distempers than once imagine themselves any way qualified for such an hospital.
I hope indeed that our wise legislature will take this project into their serious consideration, and promote an endowment which will be of such eminent service to multitudes of his majesty's unprofitable subjects, and may in time be of use to themselves and their posterity,
From my Garret in Moorfields, Aug. 20, 1733.
END OF VOLUME FIFTH.