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worthy spirits, who engage in so useful and honourable an art.
The first is, that criticism, contrary to all other faculties of the intellect, is ever held the truest and best, when it is the very first result of the critic's mind; as fowlers reckon the first aim for the surest, and seldom fail of missing the mark, if they stay for a second.
Secondly, the true critics are known, by their talents of swarming about the noblest writers, to which they are carried merely by instinct, as a rat to the best cheese, or a wasp to the fairest fruit. So when the king is on horseback, he is sure to be the dirtiest person of the company; and they that make their court best, are such as bespatter him most.
Lastly, a true critic, in the perusal of a book, is like a dog at a feast, whose thoughts and stomach are wholly set upon what the guests fling away, and consequently is apt to snarl most when there are the fewest bones.
Thus much, I think, is sufficient to serve by way of address to my patrons, the true modern critics; and may very well atone for my past silence, as well as that which I am like to observe for the future. I hope I have deserved so well of their whole body, as to meet with generous and tender usage from their hands. Supported by which expectation, I go on boldly to pursue those adventures, already so happily begun.
A TALE OF A TUB.
I HAVE now, with much pains and study, conducted the reader to a period, where he must expect to hear of great revolutions. For no sooner had our learned brother, so often mentioned, got a warm house of his own over his head, than he began to look big, and take mightily upon him; insomuch, that unless the gentle reader, out of his great candour, will please a little to exalt his idea, I am afraid he will henceforth hardly know the hero of the play, when he happens to meet him; his part, his dress, and his mien being so much altered.
He told his brothers, he would have them to know that he was their elder, and consequently his father's sole heir; nay, a while after, he would not allow them to call him brother, but Mr. PETER ;* and then he must be styled Father PETER; and sometimes, My Lord PETER. To support this grandeur, which he soon began to consider could not be maintained without a better fonde than what he was born to ;† after much thought, he cast about at last to turn projector and virtuoso, wherein he so well succeeded, that many famous discoveries, projects, and machines, which bear great vogue and practice at present in the world, are owing entirely to Lord PETER'S invention. I will deduce the best account I have been able to collect of the chief among them, with
* The Pope.-Bentley.
†The Pope's pretension to supremacy is here set forth.BENTLEY.
out considering much the order they came out in; because, I think, authors are not well agreed as to that point.
I hope, when this treatise of mine shall be translated into foreign languages (as I may without vanity affirm, that the labour of collecting, the faithfulness in recounting, and the great usefulness of the matter to the public, will amply deserve that justice) that the worthy members of the several academies abroad, especially those of France and Italy, will favourably accept these humble offers, for the advancement of universal knowledge. I do also advertise the most reverend fathers, the Eastern Missionaries, that I have, purely for their sakes, made use of such words and phrases, as will best admit an easy turn into any of the oriental languages, especially the Chinese. And so I proceed with great content of mind, upon reflecting, how much emolument this whole globe of the earth is likely to reap by my labours.
The first undertaking of Lord Peter, was, to purchase a large continent,* lately said to have been discovered in terra australis incognita. This tract of land he bought at a very great penny-worth, from the discoverers themselves, (though some pretend to doubt whether they had ever been there,) and then retailed it into several cantons to certain dealers, who carried over colonies, but were all shipwrecked in the voyage. Upon which Lord Peter sold the said continent to other customers again, and again, and again, and again, with the same success.†
The second project I shall mention, was his sove
* That is, Purgatory.
+ Hereby is meant the imaginary place between heaven and hell.-BENTLEY.
reign remedy for the worms,* especially those in the spleen. The patient was to eat nothing after supper for three nights: † as soon as he went to bed, he was carefully to lie on one side, and when he grew weary, to turn upon the other; he must also duly confine his two eyes to the same object: and by no means break wind at both ends together, without manifest occasion. These prescriptions diligently observed, the worms would void insensibly by perspiration, ascending through the brain.‡
A third invention was the erecting of a whispering office,§ for the public good, and ease of all such as are hypochondriacal, or troubled with the colic; as midwives,|| small politicians, friends fallen out, repeating poets, lovers happy or in despair, bawds, privy-counsellors, pages, parasites, and buffoons: in short, of all such as are in danger of bursting with too much wind. An ass's head was placed so conveniently, that the party affected, might easily with his mouth accost either of the animal's ears; to which he was to apply close for a certain space, and by a fugitive faculty, peculiar to the ears of that animal, receive immediate benefit, either by eructation, or expiration, or evomitation.
* Penance and absolution are played upon under the notion of a sovereign remedy for the worms, especially in the spleen, which, by observing Peter's prescription, would void insensibly by perspiration, ascending through the brain, &c.-W. WOTTON.
+ Here the author ridicules the penances of the church of Rome, which may be made as easy to the sinner as he pleases, provided he will pay for them accordingly.-H.
The second project is the application of relics to physical cures.-BENTLEY.
§ By his whispering-office, for the relief of eves-droppers, physicians, bawds, and privy-counsellors, he ridicules auricular confession; and the priest who takes it, is described by the ass's head. -W. WOTTON.
|| First edition-as likewise of all eves-droppers, midwives, &c.
Another very beneficial project of Lord Peter's was, an office of insurance for tobacco-pipes,* martyrs of the modern zeal, volumes of poetry, shadows, -and rivers: that these, nor any of these, shall receive damage by fire. Whence our friendly societies may plainly find themselves to be only transcribers from this original; though the one and the other have been of great benefit to the undertakers, as well as of equal to the public.
Lord Peter was also held the original author of puppets and raree-shows; † the great usefulness whereof being so generally known, I shall not enlarge farther upon this particular.
But another discovery, for which he was much renowned, was his famous universal pickle.§ For, having remarked how your common pickle,|| in use among housewives, was of no farther benefit than to preserve dead flesh, and certain kinds of vegetables, Peter, with great cost as well as art, had contrived a pickle proper for houses, gardens, towns, men, women, children, and cattle; wherein he could preserve them as sound as insects in amber. Now, this pickle to the taste, the smell, and the sight, appeared exactly the same with what is in common service for beef, and butter, and herrings, and has been often that way applied with great success; but, for its many sovereign virtues, was a quite different
* This I take to be the office of indulgences, the gross abuses whereof first gave occasion for the Reformation.
† I believe are the monkeries and ridiculous processions, &c., among the papists.
This relates to images of saints performing vital actions, by secret wires, as puppets seem to do.-BENTLEY.
§ Holy water, he calls a universal pickle, to preserve houses, gardens, towns, men, women, children, and cattle, wherein he could preserve them as sound as insects in amber.-W. WOTTON. This is easily understood to be holy water, composed of the same ingredients with many other pickles.-H.