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they pretend to act, would otherwise warrant: if the candid reader can find an excuse for them in their zeal and anxiety to recommend the blessings which they offer to mankind, I will not impede the plea. A foolish partiality some people still have for physicians regularly bred, and a squeamish unwillingness to repair to back-doors and blind alleys for relief, oblige them to use strong words to combat strong prejudices. But though they are at some pains to convince us that our bills of natural deaths might be all comprised under the single article of old age, there is yet here and there an obstinate man, who will die felo de se before the age of threescore years and ten.
Whilst the sages are puffing off our distempers in one page,
the auctioneers are puffing off our property in another. If this island of ours is to be credited for their description of it, it must pass for a terrestrial paradise; it makes an English ear tingle to hear of the boundless variety of lawns, groves, and parks ; lakes, rivers, and rivulets; decorated farms and fruitful gardens; superb and matchless collections of pictures, jewels, plate, furniture, and equipages; town-houses and country-houses; hot-houses and ice-houses; observatories and conservatories; offices attached and detached : with all the numerous etceteras that glitter down the columns of our public prints. Numerous as these are, it is less a matter of surprise with me where purchasers are found, than why any one, whose necessities are not his reason, will be a vender of such enchanting possessions. Though a man's caprice may be tired of a beautiful object long enjoyed, yet when he sees an old acquaintance dressed out in new colours, and glowing in a flowery description of these luxuriant writers, I should expect that his affection would revive, and that he would recall the cruel sentence of alienation,
Pliny never so described his villa, as these puffers will set forth the cast-off mansion of a weary owner. Put a vicious, lame, and stumbling-horse into their hands, and he comes out safe and sound the next morning, and is fit to carry the first lady in the land : weed your collections of their copies and counterfeits, by the help of a persuasive tongue, quick eye, and energetic hammer, they are knocked down for orignals and antiques, and the happy buyer bears them off delighted with his bargain. What is the harp of an Orpheus compared to the hammer of an auctioneer!
I must, in the next place, request the reader's attention to the polishing puffers, a title by which I would be understood to speak of those venerable teachers and instructors who are endowed with the happy faculty of instilling arts and sciences into their disciples, like xed air into a vapid menstruum : these are the beautiful spirits whom Virgil places in his poetical Elysium: foolish men amongst the Greeks, such as Socrates, Plato, and others, trained their pupils step by step in knowledge, and made a bugbear of instruction; Pythagoras, in particular, kept his scholars five years in probationary silence, as if wisdom was not to be learned without labour; our modern polishers puff it into us in a morning; the polish is laid on at a stroke, just as boys turn a brass buckle into a silver one with a little quicksilver and brick-dust; the polished buckle indeed soon repents of its transmutation, but it is to be hoped the allusion does not hold through, and that the polished mind or body does not relapse as soon to its primitive rusticity. --Strange! that any body will be a clown, when the Graces invite us to their private hops with hand-bills and advertisements, why do not the whole court of Aldermen dance at my Lord Mayor's ball, instead of standing with their hands in their pockets, when grown gentlemen (let them grow to what size
they may) are taught to walk a minuet gracefully in three lectures ? Amazing art! only to be equalled by the obstinacy that resists it. How are the times degenerated! Orpheus fiddles and the brutes won't dance. Go to the courts of law, listen to the bellowing of the bar; mount the gallery of the senate, observe how this here and that there orator breaks poor Priscian's head for the good of his country; enter our theatres-does that gentleman speak to a ghost as a ghost ought to be spoken to? Walk into a church, if you have any feeling for the sacred sublimity of our service, you will never walk into another where it is so mangled: every one of these parricides might be taught not to murder his mother-tongue without mercy,
if he would but believe an advertisement, and betake himself to the Polisher. Education at our public shools and universities is travelling in a waggon for expedition, when there is a bridle road will take you by a short cut to Parnassus, and the Polisher has got the key of it; he has elocution for all customers, lawyers, players, parsons, or senators: ready-made talents for all professions, the bar, the stage, the pulpit or the parliament.
There is another class of Puffers, who speak strongly to the passions, and use many curious devices to allure the senses, fitting out their lotteryoffices, like fowlers to catch birds by night with looking-glasses and candles, to entice us to their snare. Some of them hang out the goddess of goodfortune in person with money-bags in her hands, a tempting emblem; others recommend themselves under the auspices of some lucky name, confounding our heads with cabalistic numbers, unintelligible calculations, and mysterious predictions, whose absurdity is their recommendation, and whose obscurity makes the temptation irresistible:
Omnia enim stolidi magis admirantur amantque,
Essences, cosmetics, and a hundred articles of pretended invention for the frivolous adorning of our persons engross a considerable share of our public papers; the puffs from this quarter are replete with all the gums and odours of Arabia: the chymists of Laputa were not more subtle extractors of sunbeams than these artists, who can fetch powder of pearls out of rotten bones and mercury, odour of roses from a turnip, and the breath of zephyrs out of a cabbage stalk; they can furnish your dressing-room with the toilette of Juno, bring your bloom from the cheeks of Hebe, and a nosegay from the bosom of Flora. These Puffers never fail to tell you, after a court birth-day, that their washes, powders, and odours, were the favourites of the drawing-room, and that the reigning beauties of the assembly bought their charms at their counters.
After these follow a rabble of raree show-men, with mermaids, man-tigers, ourang-outangs, and every monster and abortion in creation; columns of giants and light-infantry, companies of dwarfs ; conjurers, rope-dancers, and posture-masters; toothdrawers, oculists, and chiropodists; every one puffs himself off to the public in a style as proud as Antient Pistol's; every fellow who can twirl
upon his toe, or ride a gallop on his head, pastes himself up in effigy on our public offices and churches, and takes all the courts in Europe to witness to the fame of his performances. If a rascal can shew a louse through a microscope, he expects all the heads in England to itch till they behold it: if a son of the gallows can slide down a rope from the top of a steeple, he puffs off his flight in Pindarics, that would make a moderate man's head giddy to read; nay, we have seen a gambling-house and a brothel thrown open to the town, and public lectures in obscenity audaciously
advertised in a Christian city, which would not have been tolerated in Sodom or Gomorrah.
I cannot dismiss this subject without hinting to the proprieters of our Royal Theatres, that this expedient of puffing is pardonable only in a troop of strollers, or the master of a puppet-show. Whilst the Muses keep possession of our theatre, and genius treads the stage, every friend to the national drama will condemn the practice, and hold them inexcusable, who are responsible for it, if they do not discontiuue it. It is hardly possible that any cause can be profited by puffing ; if any can, it must be a contemptible one; the interests of literature are amongst the last that can expect advantage from it, or that should condescend to so mean a resource : instead of attracting curiosity, it creates disgust: instead of answering the temporary object of profit, it sinks the permanent fund of reputation. As to the impolicy of the measure, niany reasons may be given, but these I shall forbear to mention, lest whilst I am stating dangers I should appear to suggest them. In conclusion, I have no doubt but the good sense of the proprietors will determine on a reform; for I am persuaded they cannot be profited by houses of their own filling, nor any author flattered by applauses of his own bestowing:
Society in despotic governments is narrowed according to the degree of rigour, which the ruling tyrant exercises over his subjects. In some countries it is in a manner annihilated. As despotism relaxes