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Joseph Reed, A Sop in the Pan for a Physical Critick

Joseph Reed, A Sop in the Pan for a Physical Critick

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130 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE



Here I shall drop the Antagonist, a few Moments, to ask your Advice, as a Friend:

Few have dealt more LARGELY in the Press than yourself, and consequently few are

more able to advise me than yourself, in such an Undertaking. Don’t you think, that a

History of this Importance, written in a correct and elegant Style, and adorn’d with

upwards of a hundred CUTS of the most remarkable Scolds, Oyster-Boats, Cod-Smacks,

&c. engraved by your Dutch Artist, would turn out a pretty profitable Undertaking? I

am almost convinced you do; and by way of giving you, and my most worthy Friend,

the Public, a Specimen of my literary Abilities, I shall here annex a short Extract from

my said intended History.

In this remarkable Year (1756) this renouned Academy, which, in the Space of a

few Years, had produced a greater Number of Orators than all the Schools of

Greece and Rome; like other Seminaries of British Learning, began to be on the

Decline: for, such is the Vicissitude of sublunary Things, that Oratory, as well as

Empire, is subject to Mutability. The Cause of this unhappy Declension in our

Academy, is variously accounted for. Some ascribe it wholly to the Number of

Charity-Schools, in and about this Metropolis, which have, of late, so greatly

contributed, to civilize the lower Orders of Mankind: Others to the Growth of

Methodism; while a different Party, with greater Plausibility indeed, impute it to

the Dearness and Scarcity of Gin; which is universally allow’d to be a most

powerful Inspirer of Vociferation. That all these Opinions were merely conjectural,

will evidently appear from the following Incident, which is too well authenticated to

be disprov’d, or even disbeliev’d.

In the close of the Year 1755, a certain Caledonian Quack, by the Curtesy of

England, call’d a Doctor of Physick, whose real, or assum’d Name was

FERDINANDO MAC FATHOMLESS, form’d a Project for initiating and

perfecting the Male-Inhabitants of this Island, in the Use and Management of the

linguary Weapon, by the Erection of a Scolding Amphitheatre. For this Purpose, he

selected, and engag’d, on weekly Salary, about a Dozen of the most eminent

Professors of Vociferation in this Academy: but, after he had been at a

considerable Expence, the unfortunate Emperic could not get his Project licenc’d.

The Doctor was greatly mortified at his unexpected Disappointment, but being

resolved that his own, and the Sisterhood’s Talents should not be lost to the World,

he set about publishing a periodical Work, called the Hyper-Critical Review, in which the

Billinsgate Oratory is so much exhausted, that, to this Incident only, can be justly

imputed the visible Decay of Vociferation in this Academy. The fair Orators of



TOBIAS SMOLLETT 131



Billinsgate are now almost as silent, as the Fishes they dispose off: Wit, Repartee

and Politeness have taken up their Residence in Chancery-Lane!

However absurd or offensive the Doctor’s Project might appear, it would

scarce have fail’d of being advantageous to the Community, had it luckily pass’d

into Execution. It would have greatly diminished the Clamour of Scolding Wives,

and thereby contributed to the domestic Tranquility, nay, probably to the

Preservation, of the Lives of many of his Majesty’s liege Subjects. Poisons are

expell’d by Poisons: a Diarrhoea is generally carried off by a Dose of Physic; and,

by a Parity of Reason, Scolding may be most effectually cured by Scolding: for a

Woman’s Tongue, like a Jack Bowl, is observ’d to run the longest, when it

meets with the fewest Rubs.

An Institution of this Kind would have likewise been serviceable to many

Classes and Degrees of Men among us; particularly to those young Gentlemen,

that are design’d for the long Robe. A constant Attendance, for two or three

Months, at the Scolding Amphitheatre, would have been as compleat a Qualification

for the Bar, as a dozen Years Attendance at some of our Courts of Judicature:

for, whoever hath carefully observ’d the Method of our Law-Proceedings, must

allow, that he is generally esteemed the most learned and successful Council,

who is the greatest Scold.

This short Extract will, I am persuaded, convince you, that I am as well qualified for

an Historian, as yourself.

Some Persons, to whom I have shewn this Part of my History, were ready to treat

the Fact above-related, as fictitious, till I prevailed on them to read the said Review: but

they are now, to a Man, convinc’d of its Truth. Every judicious Reader must be of the

same Opinion, if he will be at the pains to peruse that periodical Work: For it is evident,

even to Demonstration itself, that none but an Assemblage of Fish-women, would throw

out such a Heap of Dirt and Scurrility, as flows down the Channel of that Production.

If you have any Acquaintance with this physical Countryman of yours, it would not

be amiss to desire him, at the Conclusion of his next Volume, to publish the following

Erratum, viz. In the Title Page of our preceding Volumes, for BY A SOCIETY OF

GENTLEMEN, read BY A SOCIETY OF OLD WOMEN. It may indeed appear a kind

of Solecism, as the said physical Projector is at the Head of the learned Sisterhood; but

whoever will carefully examine his Abilities, as a Critic, must soon he convinc’d that the

Critic-Doctor, is as meer an old Woman, as ever wore Petticoats.

Having given you thus much by way of Preface. I shall proceed to examine your

elaborate Criticism on my Mock-Tragedy.

In your Critical Review for August last, you say, ‘Parody or Burlesque, tho’ ever so

well executed, have very little Merit in them; because the highest Degree of

Perfection, which they are capable of attaining to, may be acquir’d by a very moderate

Capacity.’



132 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE



To this Proposition I have but one Objection, namely that it is not true. I could

mention a Variety of Pieces of the Burlesque kind, written by Butler, Pope, Swift, Gay, and

Others, which have done great Honour to the English Language; but shall confine

myself to one, viz. The Tragedy of Tom Thumb the Great.

Was this Piece (which is not the best I have seen) written by a Man of a very moderate

Capacity? I answer, No; and the Person, who will publickly assert, that the ingenious

Fielding, was a Man of a very moderate Capacity, must certainly incur the Censure of being

a Fool or a Knave.

I know but one Proof of this remarkable Proposition of yours, I mean the Regicide;

which incomparable Production, is the greatest Burlesque on Nature, that I ever had

the Pleasure of perusing, and may with great Propriety be said, to have been written by

a Man of even SCARCE a very moderate Capacity. I have, indeed, met with some

quibbling Critics, who will not allow the Regicide to be a Burlesque Poem, and have even

gone so far as to assert, that the Author design’d it for a serious Tragedy: this I must

own I cannot assent to; for if the Doctor intended the Performance for a serious

ProductionI cannot help thinking him one of the most impudent, self-sufficient

Scriblers, that ever defiled Paper, and that he deserves to be flogg’d, like a sawcy

School-Boy, before the respective Doors of his several Subscribers, for his Impudence,

in solliciting the Favour of the Public in so extraordinary a manner.

You proceed by telling us, ‘The most necessary Requisite, in a Performance of this

Nature, is indeed a good Memory; which the Author of the Piece before us, seems happily

possess’d off; as there is scarce a Passage, in any of what the theatrical World calls StockPlays, which is not introduced.’

By the Phrase happily possessed off, you certainly, against your Will, pay me a kind of

Compliment: for unless, you imagine my Piece to have some Merit, you cannot with

Propriety suppose me to be happy in the Possession of a good Memory.

Had you honestly examined my Tragedy, you would have found that my intended

Ridicule is so far from being confin’d to Stock-Plays, that the major Part of the borrowed

Passages are taken from plays, that, Meteor-like, have blaz’d a while, and then sunk

into Oblivion: nay, some of them from a Play, that was never exhibited at all; witness

your Regicide: Which I apprehend, your Book-seller, to his Cost, finds to be a Stock-Play

indeed, rotting in his Warehouse and destin’d for waste Paper.

In short, Doctor, my Design, throughout the whole Performance, was to expose the

Buckram of the modem dramatic Diction; which hath been us’d, as a kind of Poetical FigLeaves, to cover the Nakedness of Sentiment. This will account for the seeming Freedoms

I have taken with the venerable Shakespear: The Materials I had borrowed from the

Moderns, were so dull, heavy, and spiritless, that I was under a Necessity of calling in

Shakespear, and Others of established Merit, to enliven and qualify the Flatness of the

many Passages I had borrowed from Authors of a later Date.—But to go on with your

Criticism.



TOBIAS SMOLLETT 133



You say, ‘All the Humour lies in the Application of them to Taylors, Coblers, &c.,

who compose the Dramatis Personae.’ For once, my learned Emperic, you are in the right;

and pray, where is the mighty Absurdity in all this? If you intend this Remark as a Sneer,

you have miss’d your Aim; for half the Ridicule in Hudibras and the Beggar’s Opera

(which I presume you allow to be Burlesque Productions) would be lost, if the Authors

had not plac’d the Agents, in these Pieces, in the lowest Life.

You proceed, ‘We shall extract one Scene, which we believe our Readers will be as

well, if not better, contented with, than the whole Tragedy:’ and accordingly you

quote the Second Scene in the third Act. I must here do you the Honour of acknowledging

that you have been Conjurer enough, to pick out the dullest Scene in the whole Play: I

pronounce it the dullest, on account of the Quantity of philosophical Matter, and the

Number of Bombastic Expressions contained in it; and render’d still more dull to your

Readers, by your Omission of the Notes for its Illustration in the Original. But tho’ you

might have private Reasons for such a disingenuous Extract. I shall here supply the

Deficiency, and leave the Quotation, (at my own Risque) to the Masters in Criticism,

to judge of the Injustice of your degrading Characteristic.

ACT III.

SCENE II.

STRAPADA, BUCKRAMO.



Buck. My Ears deceive me or I heard the Voice

Of dear STRAPADA once; but now alas!

No more my Friend—’ tis he—avenging Steel!

(Puts up his Bodkin.)

Rest here unseen—his lab’ring Mind is lock’d

In Contemplation’s closest Cell—I’ll try

To rouse him from this Trance of Thought—what ho!

STRAPADA!

Strap Ha! —BUCKRAMO! —Thou wast once

My trustiest Friend: in my Heart’s Core I wore thee;

Ay, in my Heart of Heartsa

Buc. Ammonian JOVE!b

(kneeling)

And all ye Gods and Goddesses; peruse

The Folio of my past and present Thoughts

Peruse it Page by Page; or, in the Way

Of modern Connoissieurs videlicet,

Run o’er Contents and Index—if you find

A Wish, unless to have TRULLETTA mine,

Preferr’d to good STRAPADA’S dearest Friendship,

Hurl my thrice-thankless Spirit vengeful down



134 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE



Into th’ infernal pitchy Lake, prepar’d

For negro-foul’d Ingratitude.

Strap. By SATURN!c

His Mother’s in his Face——the dear SCOURELLA——

It is too much to bear—spite of my, Vow



dI



must, I must relent—there is a way

To reinstate thee in my Love: be virtuous.

The Friends of Virtue are STRAPADA’S Friends:

—Forgo the black Design on MADRIGAL,

And be as dear as ever—what incites thee

To seek his Blood?

Buck. He robs me of my Mistress;

And, in return, I rob him of his Life

The Robber rob and Robbery grows Virtue.e

Strap. The Subtlety of Schools may paint this Maxim;

The Schools, where learned Error stalks abroadf

With such gigantick Strides, in Wisdom’s Garb;

But Truth, and sound Philosophy, disclaim

The paultry Dawbing—know, blood-thirsty Youth!

Know, thou Death’s Orator! dread Advocateg

For bowelless Severity! Forgiveness

Is greater, wiser, manlier Bravery

Than wild Revenge.

Buck. Ha! whither wouldst thou lead me!

Strap. To Virtue; to Forgiveness—talk no more

Of fell Revenge.

Buck. Not talk of it, STRAPADA?

I’ll talk of it tho’ Hell itself should gapeh

And bid me hold my Peace—not talk of it?

Not of Revenge? the Attribute of th’ Gods,i

Who stamp’d it on our Natures to impell

Mankind to noblest Darings.

Strap. Rather call it

The Attribute of Devils, stamp’d on Man,

To draw deluded Mortals to Destruction.

Buck. No more, no more—tempt me no more in vain:j—

My Soul is wrought to the sublimest Ragek

Of horrible Revenge.

Strap. And thou art fix’d

On bloody Purpose?

Buck. Fix’d, as Cambrian Mountain



TOBIAS SMOLLETT 135



On its own Base, or gaming Lords on Ruinl

Strap. Then all my flattering Hopes of the Reclaim

Are lost, and my shock’d Soul akes at thee—m yet

Attend my last Request—defer thy Purpose,

Till the cold Earth, in her parental Bosom,

Receive the venerable Master’s Corse.

E’er long the sad Procession will begin:



Then do not with unallow’d Broil prophane The dread Solemnity of funeral Rites:

But lend thy kind Assistance to support Thy sorrowing Mistress thro’ the mournful

Scene. This thou wilt promise?

Buke. By yon Silver Lamp,n Which stringless hangs, or hangs by String unseen In azure

Firmament, I will!

Strap. Till then farewel!”

After the Quotation of this Scene, you begin to wind up your Criticism, and thus

definitively to pass Sentence on my poor injur’d Performance, viz. ‘This is sufficient to

give our Readers a proper Idea of this Piece, which the Author has contriv’d to stretch

into five Acts; a melancholly Circumstance for the poor Audience, who, we doubt not,

were heartily sick of the Performance before the Conclusion of it; for tho’ we may here

and there meet with something laughable, it must have been a dismal three Hours

Entertainment.’

Here endeth the the Criticism of the learned and sagacious Doctor T—— SM LL

T, which, considering the Malevolence of his Disposition, and current Pay from the

Bookseller, join’d to his known inclination to degrade all Writings, but his own, or

those he is interested in commending, contains not altogether so much Severity, as might

naturally be expected from a Man, who will at any time sacrifice Truth and Sincerity to

gratify his Spleen and Illnature.

That your sentence may not hang too heavy on my Tragedy, I beg leave to throw out

a few Observations on the Injustice of it.

You have certainly acted unfairly in not annexing the NOTES, to shew how largely I

had borrow’d, and what Passages were designed to be ridicul’d in the Scene, you have

quoted. From which Omission your Readers might naturally conclude that all the

Buckram and Bombast, therein contained were my own. The Reason of such Omission is

plain. Had you annexed the NOTES; the foregoing unintelligible Rant in your

REGICIDE must have been exposed to ridicule. In short, Doctor! as you have stifled the

Evidence on one Side, every unprejudiced Reader must pronounce your Sentence

partial, extra-judicial and illegal.

Your Remark on the Author’s Contrivance to stretch the Piece into five Acts, which

you, in a sort of critical Jargon, call a melancholly Circumstance for the poor Audience, I



136 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE



know not whether to impute to Ignorance or Illnature. If, you had been acquainted

with the usual Length of an English Tragedy, you might have known that my five Acts are

not quite so long, as three in most of our Stock-Plays, even as they are curtailed in the

Representation. My Division of the Matter into five Acts was a Means of rendering the

Production more burlesque, as it was a more exact Model of English Tragedy.

I must necessarily acknowledge that the Play was a dismal Entertainment, without

ascribing any Defect to the Piece. As the Father of English Tragedy expresses it, It was

Caviar to the Multitude, and more adapted to the Closet, than the Stage.

That the Play was most inhumanly butcher’d in the Representation, none will deny;

for if even so compleat a Collection of theatrical Wretches was, in any one Play, brought

upon the Stage of a Theatre-Royal, I will venture to renounce all Pretensions to

Common-Sense. But, notwithstanding the Disadvantage of its Representation, the Play

was sav’d; a Circumstance so contrary to my Expectation, that I gave it up for damn’d

before the Conclusion of the first Act. If your REGICIDE had been so situated, I am

convinced that all its Elegance, Nature, and Simplicity, would not have carried it

through the second Act.

Whatever may be your real Sentiments of my Performance, I am not ashamed of

espousing the Opinion of some known Judges in dramatic Literature, viz. ‘If the MOCK

TRAGEDY had been got up at Drury-Lane, with a GARRICK in MADRIGAL and a

CLIVE in TRULLETTA, there are few Pieces in the English Language, capable of

affording a more entertaining Exhibition.’1

You see, Doctor! I have run over your Criticism with as much Brevity (and let me

add, Good-nature) as possible. I shall now lay before the Public the Sentence of another

Critical Court of Judicature on my Performance, to shew that even Criticks themselves may

differ in Opinion in Matters of Criticism.

‘Mr REED, it seems, is a Tradesman, a Rope-maker. This Circumstance does him

Credit as an Author; as many, who are Writers by Profession, are, beyond all

Comparison, inferior to him in Merit. He seems to have read the Productions of the

British Theatre with good Taste; and he has here so humourously parodied, and applied,

a Variety of bombastic Passages, in the Writings of some of our most eminent Authors,

that it is impossible to peruse his comic Scenes, without sharing in the Diversion, which

this facetious Performance must have afforded its merry Author in the Writing.’

MONTHLY REVIEW for September 1758.

I shall not be at all surprized, if you should throw out some illnatur’d Innuendos,

that your Rival REVIEWERS have given this favourable Character of my Piece through

interested Considerations. To obviate such future Insinuation, I hereby declare, on my

poetical and hempen Veracity, that I do not personally, or nominally know any one of

the Gentlemen, who are the Authors of the Monthly Review, and that by no Means direct

or indirect, did I sollicit a favourable Character of my Production: nay, that I have even

been so remiss in Gratitude, as not to return my verbal, nor epistolary Thanks for the

Honour they have done my Performance.



TOBIAS SMOLLETT 137



And now I would beg leave to ask that profoundly-sagacious Critick, Doctor T——

SM LL T, if he hath not unfairly endeavoured to prepossess his Readers against my

MOCK-TRAGEDY, for Reasons entirely personal. Guilty or not Guilty, honest TOBY?

——Nay, never hesitate, good Doctor! but, for once in your Life, tell the Truth, and

shame the Devil.—Perhaps you have too great a Respect for your internal Friend, the

Father of Lies, to put him to the Blush.—I repeat the Question; and am persuaded, if

you speak the Truth, that you will answer in the Affirmative. I don’t assert this through

Vanity, but have some Grounds to justify my Assertion; and shall therefore proceed to

lay before the Public the real or supposed Cause of your saying so much against my

Performance; or more properly of your saying so little against it.

Mark now how plain a Tale shall put you down.1

Shak. K.Hen. IV.

My Manager Mr THEOPILUS CIBBER, of wrong-headed Memory, about three Weeks

before the Exhibition of my Tragedy, told me he had made Mention of that Piece to Dr

SM LL T, whom he represented as a great Admirer of Performances of the burlesque

kind, and desired to know if it were agreeable to me that the Play should be read to the

Doctor. I told Mr CIBBER I had no Objection. On which he pulled out the Copy, and

desired me to strike out, at least to mark, all the Passages I had borrowed from the

REGICIDE, that he might drop them in the Reading: for, added he, tho’ the Doctor

should ever so highly admire the humourous Ridicule, which you have levelled at his

poetical Brotherhood, he would not fail of being greatly enraged at the Freedom you

have taken with his REGICIDE. It will, continues my upright Manager, be your Interest

to make a Friend of the Doctor. As he presides over the poetical Province in the

CRITICAL REVIEW, your Piece will, in all Likelyhood, have a favourable Character,

if you strike out those Passages, which immediately affect him.

I must own, I was weak enough to listen to CIBBER’S Insinuation; and the next Day,

(as I had not time, at our Interview, to find out all my Extracts from the REGICIDE)

sent him a Letter, in which were contained every Passage I had borrowed from the

Doctor. CIBBER accordingly put the Stage-Mark on them: and not one Line of yours

was spoken in the Representation. If my Manager and I had not quarrell’d about the

rascally Exhibition of the Play, I don’t know but those beautiful Rants, I had selected

from your Tragedy, might have slept in Silence and Oblivion: but after the above

Conference, I was determined to publish them, least he should have insinuated to the

World, that I had omitted some Passages in your subscriptionary Drama; thro’ fear of so

redoubtable a Critic, as Dr SM LL T.

I doubt not but you will be ready to represent this Tale, as an Invention of my own;

especially as your Friend with the unpartition’d Nose is gone to the Bottom. But, Doctor!

though I have no positive, I don’t want negative, Evidence of the Truth of this Story. I

told it to many Persons of Credit in CIBBER’S Life time; and openly declared, before

the Publication of your Criticism, that I expected to be handled by you with the greatest



138 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE



Severity.——Nay, the Marks above-mentioned are in the Stage-Copy, which hath been

in Mr RICH’S Hands ever since the Exhibition of the Piece.

I shall now give a Recital of those Passages I have extracted from your REGICIDE, with

their References; that the World may judge whether or no your Resentment to my

Piece does not flow from personal Motives.

My first Extract from your Tragedy is that admirable Imprecation in page 9.

By th’ Powers of Hell

I will be drunk with Vengeance!

To which my learned Friend Dr HUMBUG adds, in Note 25. in the same Page.

‘A Liquor I never yet heard off.’

I don’t pretend to justify this Remark of the Doctor’s, nor enter into any Dispute

whether or no a Man may really get drunk with Vengeance. A small Alteration will silence

all Cavils on this Passage of yours; wherefore if the Regicide have the good Fortune to

hobble into another Impression, I would advise you to make it.

By th’ Powers of Hell

I will be drunk with a Vengeance!

This will render the Passage more intelligible, though not altogether so poetical.

The next Remark on you is occasion’d by Buckramo’s saying to his Friend Strapada;

Or thou wilt run me into Madness.

To which Line Dr HUMBUG Subjoins the following Note, viz. ‘A very common

tragical Expression—nay, I have known many dramatic Heroes uttering such

Complaints, when they have been absolutely mad from their first Speech in the Play. An

Instance of this dramatic Madness may be found in a Tragedy, which was publish’d by

Subscription in the present Century.

My Friend HUMBUG would have mention’d the Character of STUART in the

Regicide, as his Proof of dramatic Madness; but, out of Regard to so great a tragic

Genius as Dr Sm ll t, I prevail’d on him to leave the Publick in the dark, as to that

particular.

The next Passage taken from your Play, is that beautiful Imprecation.

May this Carcase rot,

A loathsome Banquet to the Fowls of Heaven;



TOBIAS SMOLLETT 139



If e’er my Breast admit Thought, to bound

The Progress of my Rage

To which Dr HUMBUG subjoins in Note 25. Page 10. Our Author in this spirited

Image, which is taken from the Regicide, hath, in my Opinion, followed the Doctor too

closely: for with Submission to so great a Genius, as the Doctor, loathsome Banquet,

seems to border a little on the Tipperarian Idiom.’

The following Image from your Regicide passes without any Remark.

Thou hast been tender over-much, and mourn’d Even too profusely.

These elegant Flourishes had not gone without a Comment, if tender over-much and

mourning even too profusely, had not been Phrases of such inimitable Excellence, as to

require no further Illustration.

This is also another of your Images:

My Soul is wrought to the sublimest Rage Of horrible Revenge.

But as the Note to this Passage hath been already given, there is no Occasion to

repeat it.

Page 25. Note 3.

But see, where silent, as the Noon of Night, These Lovers lie!

Regicide.

‘That is I presume when the Moon is in her Meridian, and not as commonly

supposed at Midnight.’ Dr HUMBUG

But here comes the Master-piece of British Rant.

May Heaven exhaust

Its Thunders on my Head! May Hell Disgorge

Infernal Plagues to blast me, if I cease

To persecute the Caitif, till his Blood

Assuage my parch’d Revenge!

This Exclamation of yours also passes without a Comment. No human pen, but that

of a Longinus, could have done it Justice; for if Heaven exhausting its Thunders, Hell

disgorging infernal Plagues; ceasing to persecute the Caitif, and Blood assuaging a parch’d

Revenge, be not, as the fine Lady in Lethe calls it, the very Squintessence of the Sublime, I

may fairly say in Captain Bobadil’s Phrase, I have no more Judgment than a Malt-Horse.



140 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE



The last Passage, I have drawn from your admirable Tragedy, is that beautiful

exclamatory Interrogation,

How shall Acknowledgement enough reward Thy Worth unparallell’d?

If any dramatic Hero, since the Days of EURIPIDES, ever utter’d a more pompous and

sublime Exclamation, I will be bound to undergo the Punishment of reading over all

the Cart-loads of Rubbish, which you palm upon the World, for good Writing.

I believe my Readers are, by this time, convinc’d that your Resentment against my

Tragedy is purely personal—The foregoing are not all the Passages in your REGICIDE,

that deserv’d my Notice: the Piece from Beginning to End is a continued Chain of

Sublime Bombast. There is so little Meaning or Nature in the whole Production, that it may

be justly intitled the most compleat and elaborate Libel on Tragedy and Commonsense, that was ever foisted upon the Pubic. But, notwithstanding its Defects, it would

be the highest Injustice in me to say it is void of Merit: its medicinal Qualities will atone

for the Want of poetical ones. Since the Discovery of its physical Virtues, I have bilk’d

the Faculty of many a Shilling: for, when a Puke is wanted in my Family, a Perusal of

twenty or thirty Lines Seldom fails of the desir’d Effect; double the Number is a Dose

for the strongest Constitutions, and with a whole Act I would engage to vomit any

Coach-Horse in the three Kingdoms.

My late Mention of the perillous Word Libel, induces me to advise you to be more

cautious of your future political Writings. Have always in view the Fate of your Brother

Doctor,2 whose Life and Actions seem so near a Counter-part of your own. He was

bound an Apprentice to the Faculty, but extracted such sublime Notions of LIBERTY,

that he most heroically broke through his Parchment Bondage: Was not this exactly your

Case? After his Enfranchisement, he assum’d the Title of Doctor of Physic (no Matter how

he came by it) Did not you the same? He started into the literary World as a Novel Writer

with the MARRIAGE ACT, you with RODERIC RANDOM. When the Public was

glutted with Novels, he turned his Head to Politics, and commenced a Retailer of

pernicious Principles: Did not you do so likewise? In his Letters to the People of

England, he libell’d the best of Kings: You, in your History of England, Spare not the best

of Constitutions. He hath already been exalted for his Labours; and tho’ you have not met

with Exaltation; it is not because you have not deserved as many Favours of the King’s

Bench, as he hath received. For a Proof of this last Assertion, I recommend my Readers

to a Perusal of that Part of your History of England, which treats of the glorious

REVOLUTION in eighty eight.

Now, Doctor! It is almost time to take my leave of you for the present. If you have

any Remains of Truth and Honesty in you; you must acknowledge that, in the Course of

this Epistle, I have treated you with a friendly and decent Familiarity: wherefore I hope

you will graciously vouchsafe me a Reply. I shall not take the scurrilous Character,

which you will probably give of this Epistle in your CRITICAL REVIEW, for an Answer;



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Joseph Reed, A Sop in the Pan for a Physical Critick

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