صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

a duke or a prince? Or why should a man, who starves in the midst of plenty, be trusted with him. self, more than he who fancies he is an emperor in the midst of poverty? I have several women of quality in my thoughts, who set so exorbitant a value upon themselves, that I have often most heartily pitied them, and wished them for their recovery under the same discipline with the pewterer's wife. I find by several hints in ancient authors, that when the Romans were in the height of power and luxury, they assigned out of their vast dominions an island called Anticyra, as an habitation for madmen. This was the Bedlam of the Roman empire, whither all persons who had lost their wits used to resort from all parts of the world in quest of them. Several of the Roman emperors were advised to repair to this island; but most of them, instead of listening to such sober counsels, gave way to their distraction, until the people knocked them on the head as despairing of their cure. In short, it was as usual for men of distempeted brains to take a voyage to Anticyra in those days, as it is in ours for persons who have a disorder in their lungs to go to Montpelier.

The prodigious crops of bellebore with which this whole island abounded, did not only furnish them with incomparable tea, snuff, and Hungary water; but impregnated the air of the country with such sober and salutiferous steams, as very much comforted the heads, and refreshed the senses of all that breathed in it. A discarded statesman, that, at his first landing appeared stark staring mad, would become calm in a week's time; and, upon his return home, live easy and satisfied in his retirement. A moping lover would grow a pleasant fellow by that time he had rid thrice about the island; and a

· hare-brained rake, after a short stay in the country,

go home again a composed, grave, worthy gentleman. . I have premised these particulars before I enter on the main design of this paper, because I would not be thought altogether notional in what I have to say, and pass only for a projector in morality. I could quote Horace and Seneca, and some other ancient writers of good repute, upon the same occasion; and make out by their testimony, that our streets are filled with distracted persons; that our shops and taverns, private and public houses, swarm with them; and that it is very hard to make up a tolerable assembly without a majority of them. But what I have already said is, I hope, sufficient to justify the ensuing project, which I shall therefore give some account of without any further preface.

1 1. It is humbly proposed, that a proper recep. tacle, or habitation, be forthwith erected for all such persons as, upon due trial and examination, shall appear to be out of their wits.

2. That, to serve the present exigency, the college in Moorfields be very much extended at both ends; and that it be converted into a square, by adding three other sides to it.

3. That nobody be admitted into these three additional sides, but such whose frenzy can lay no claim to an apartment in that row of building which is already erected. · 4. That the architect, physician, apothecary, surgeon, keepers, nurses, and porters, be all and each of them cracked; provided that their frenzy does not lie in the profession or employment to which they shall severally and respectively be assigned.

N. B. It is thought fit to give the foregoing notice, that none may present himself here for any post of honour or profit, who is not duly qualified.

5. That over all the gates of the additional buildings, there be figures placed in the same manner as over the entrance of the edifice already erected; provided they represent such distractions only as are proper for those additional buildings; as of an envious man gnawing his own flesh; a gamester pulling himself by the ears, and knocking his head against a marble pillar; a covetous man warming himself over a heap of gold; a coward flying from his own shadow, and the like.

Having laid down this general scheme of my design, I do hereby invite all persons who are willing to encourage so public-spirited a project, to bring in their contributions, as soon as possible; and to apprehend forthwith any politician whom they shall catch raving in a coffee-house, or any free-thinker whom they shall find publishing his deliriums, or any other person who shall give the like manifest signs of a crazed imagination: and I do at the same time give this public notice to all the madmen about this great city, that they may return to their senses with all imaginable expedition, lest, if they should come into my hands, I should put them into a regimen which they would not like: for if I find any one of them persist in his frantic behaviour, I will make him in a month's time as famous as ever .Oliver's porter was.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

N"126. SATURDAY,JANUARY28,1709-10.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

From my own Apartment, January 27. THERE is no sort of company so agreeable as that of women who have good sense without affectation, and can converse with men without any private design of imposing chains and fetters. Belvidera, whom I visited this evening, is one of these. There is an invincible prejudice in favour of all she says, from her being a beautiful woman; because she does not consider herself as such when she talks to you. This amiable temper gives a certain tincture to all her discourse, and made it very agreeable to me until we were interrupted by Lydia, a creature who has all the charms that can adorn a woman. Her attractions would indeed be irresistible, but that she thinks them so, and is always employing them in stratagems and conquests. When I turned my eye upon her as she sat down, I saw she was a person of that character, which, for the further information of my country correspondents, I had long wanted an opportunity of explaining. Lydia is a finished coquette, which is a sect among women of all others the most mischievous, and makes the greatest havoc and disorder in society. I went on in the discourse I was in with Belvidera, without showing that I had observed any thing extraordinary in Lydia: upon which, I immediately saw her look the over as some very ill-bred fellow; and, casting

a scornful glance on my dress, give a shrug at Belvidera. But, as much as she despised me, she wanted my admiration, and made twenty offers to bring my eyes her way: but I reduced her to a rest lessness in her seat, and impertinent playing of her fan, and many other motions and gestures, before I took the least notice of her. At last I looked at her with a kind of surprise, as if she had before been unobserved by reason of an ill light where she sat. It is not to be expressed what a sudden joy I saw arise in her countenance, even at the approbation of such a very old fellow: but she did not long enjoy her triumph without a rival; for there immediately entered Castabella, a lady of a quite contrary character, that is to say, as eminent a prude as Lydia ia a coquette. Belvidera gave me a glance, which methought intimated, that they were both curiosities in their kind, and worth remarking. As soon as we were again seated, I stole looks at each lady, as if I was comparing their perfections. Belvidera observed it, and began to lead me into a discourse of them both to their faces, which is to be done easily enough; for one woman is generally so intent upon the faults of another, that she has not reflexion enough to observe when her own are represented. “ I have taken notice, Mr. Bickerstaff,” said Belvidera, “ that you have, in some parts of your writings, drawn characters of our sex, in which you have not, to my apprehension, been clear enough and distinct; particularly in those of a Prude and a Coquette." Upon the mention of this, Lydia was roused with the expectation of seeing Castabella's picture, and Castabella, with the hopes of that of Lydia. “ Madam,” said I to Belvidera, “ when we consider nature, we shall often find very contrary effects flow from the same cause. The Prude and Coquette, as different as they appear in their be

« السابقةمتابعة »