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accordingly, throughout this divine treatise, have skilfully kneaded up both together, with a layer of utile, and a layer of dulce.
When I consider how exceedingly our illustrious moderns have eclipsed the weak glimmering lights of the ancients, and turned them out of the road of all fashionable commerce, to a degree, that our choice town wits,* of most refined accomplishments, are in grave dispute, whether there have been ever any ancients or not: in which point, we are likely to receive wonderful satisfaction from the most useful labours and lucubrations of that worthy modern, Dr. Bentley I say, when I consider all this, I cannot but bewail, that no famous modern has ever yet attempted a universal system, in a small portable volume, of all things that are to be known, or believed, or imagined, or practised in life. I am, however, forced to acknowledge, that such an enterprize was thought on some time ago by a great philosopher of O. Brazile. The method he proposed was, by a certain curious receipt, a nostrum, which, after his untimely death, I found among his papers; and do here, out of my great affection to the modern learned,
*The learned person, here meant by our author, has been endeavouring to annihilate so many ancient writers, that, until he is pleased to stop his hand, it will be dangerous to affirm, whether there have been any ancients in the world.-Original.
†There was a belief that the inhabitants of the Isle of Arran could at certain times, distinguish an enchanted island, called by them O Brazil. Mr. Southey conjectures, that this belief was founded upon some optical delusion, similar to that which produces, in the bay of Naples, the aërial palaces of the Fata Morgana. There is a pamphlet upon the subject in the Museum; but it is merely a silly satire upon the Welch nation.-SOUTHEY'S History of Brazil, p. 22. I have seen a broadside sheet, giving a pretended account of the discovery and disenchantment of the island of O Brazil, which seems to be entirely different from that in the Museum, though equally unworthy of notice.
present them with it, not doubting it may one day encourage some worthy undertaker.
You take fair correct copies, well bound in calfskin, and lettered at the back, of all modern bodies of arts and sciences whatsoever, and in what language you please. These you distil in balneo Maria, infusing quintessence of poppy Q.S., together with three pints of Lethe, to be had from the apothecaries. You cleanse away carefully the sordes and caput mortuum, letting all that is volatile evaporate. You preserve only the first running, which is again to be distilled seventeen times, till what remains will amount to about two drams. This you keep in a glass vial, hermetically sealed, for one-and-twenty days. Then you begin your Catholic treatise, taking every morning fasting, first shaking the vial, three drops of this elixir, snuffing it strongly up your nose. It will dilate itself about the brain, (where there is any,) in fourteen minutes, and you immediately perceive in your head an infinite number of abstracts, summaries, compendiums, extracts, collections, medullas, excerpta quædams, florilegias, and the like, all disposed into great order, and reducible upon paper.
I must needs own, it was by the assistance of this arcanum, that I, though otherwise impar, have adventured upon so daring an attempt, never achieved or undertaken before, but by a certain author called Homer; in whom, though otherwise a person not without some abilities, and, for an ancient, of a tolerable genius, I have discovered many gross errors, which are not to be forgiven his very ashes, if, by chance, any of them are left. For whereas we are assured he designed his work for a complete body of all knowledge,* human, divine, political, and
* Homerus omnes res humanas poematis complexus est.Xenoph. in coniv.-Original.
mechanic, it is manifest he has wholly neglected some, and been very imperfect in the rest. For, first of all, as eminent a cabalist as his disciples would represent him, his account of the opus magnum is extremely poor and deficient; he seems to have read but very superficially either Sendivogus, Behmen, or Anthroposophia Theomagica.* He is also quite mistaken about the sphæra pyroplastica, a neglect not to be atoned for; and, if the reader will admit so severe a censure, vix crederem autorem hunc unquam audivisse ignis vocem. His failings are not less prominent in several parts of the mechanics. For, having read his writings with the utmost application, usual among modern wits, I could never yet discover the least direction about the structure of that useful instrument, a save-all. For want of which, if the moderns had not lent their assistance, we might yet have wandered in the dark. But I have still behind a fault far more notorious to tax the author with; I mean, his gross ignorance in the common laws of this realm, and in the doctrine as well as discipline of the Church of England.† A defect, indeed, for which both he, and all the ancients, stand most justly censured, by my worthy and ingenious friend, Mr. Wotton, Bachelor of Divinity, in his incomparable Treatise of Ancient and Modern Learning a book never to be sufficiently valued, whether we consider the happy turns and flowings
* A treatise written about fifty years ago, by a Welsh gentleman of Cambridge. His name, as I remember, Vaughan, as appears by the answer to it written by the learned Dr. Henry More. It is a piece of the most unintelligible fustian, that perhaps was ever published in any language.-Original.
Mr. Wotton, (to whom our author never gives any quarter), in his comparison of ancient and modern learning, numbers divinity, law, &c., among those parts of knowledge wherein we excel the ancients.-H.
of the author's wit, the great usefulness of his sublime discoveries upon the subject of flies and spittle, or the laborious eloquence of his style. And I cannot forbear doing that author the justice of my public acknowledgments, for the great helps and liftings I had out of his incomparable piece, while I was penning this treatise.
But, beside these omissions in Homer already mentioned, the curious reader will also observe several defects in that author's writings, for which he is not altogether so accountable. For whereas every branch of knowledge has received such. wonderful acquirements since his age, especially within these last three years, or thereabouts, it is almost impossible he could be so very perfect in modern discoveries as his advocates pretend. We freely acknowledge him to be the inventor of the compass, of gunpowder, and the circulation of the blood: but I challenge any of his admirers to shew me, in all his writings, a complete account of the spleen; does he not also leave us wholly to seek in the art of political wagering? What can be more defective and unsatisfactory than his long dissertation upon tea? And as to his method of salivation without mercury, so much celebrated of late, it is, to my own knowledge and experience, a thing very little to be relied on.
It was to supply such momentous defects, that I have been prevailed on, after long solicitation, to take pen in hand; and I dare venture to promise, the judicious reader shall find nothing neglected here, that can be of use upon any emergency of life. I am confident to have included and exhausted all that human imagination can rise or fall to. Particularly, I recommend to the perusal of the learned, certain discoveries, that are wholly untouched by others; whereof I shall only mention, among a
great many more, my new help for smatterers, or the art of being deep-learned and shallow-read. A curious invention about mouse-traps. A universal rule of reason, or every man his own carver; together with a most useful engine for catching of owls. All which, the judicious reader will find largely treated on in the several parts of this discourse.
I hold myself obliged to give as much light as is possible, into the beauties and excellencies of what I am writing because it is become the fashion and humour most applauded, among the first authors of this polite and learned age, when they would correct the ill-nature of critical, or inform the ignorance of courteous readers. Besides, there have been several famous pieces lately published, both in verse and prose, wherein, if the writers had not been pleased, out of their great humanity and affection to the public, to give us a nice detail of the sublime and the admirable they contain, it is a thousand to one, whether we should ever have discovered one grain of either. For my own particular, I cannot deny, that whatever I have said upon this occasion, had been more proper in a preface, and more agreeable to the mode which usually directs it thither. But I here think fit to lay hold on that great and honourable privilege, of being the last writer; I claim an absolute authority in right, as the freshest modern, which gives me a despotic power over all authors before me. In the strength of which title, I do utterly disapprove and declare against that pernicious custom, of making the preface a bill of fare to the book. For I have always looked upon it as a high point of indiscretion in monster-mongers, and other retailers of strange sights, to hang out a fair large picture over the door, drawn after the life, with a most eloquent description underneath: this has saved me many a threepence; for my curiosity was