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curiosity, and easy belief; which, indeed, was not without truth; for I had myself been a sort of projector in my younger days.
The author permitted to see the grand academy of
Lagado. The academy largely described. The arts wherein the professors employ themselves.
HIS academy is not an entire single building, but a continuation of several houses on both sides of a street, which, growing waste, was purchased and applied to that use.
I was received very kindly by the warden, and went for many days to the academy. Every room has in it one or more projectors; and I believe I could not be in fewer than five hundred rooms.
The first man I saw was of a meagre aspect, with sooty hands and face, his hair and beard long, ragged and singed in several places. His clothes, shirt, and skin, were all of the same colour. He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sun-beams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in vials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air, in raw inclement summers. He told me, he did not doubt, that in eight years more, he should be able to supply the governor's gardens with sunshine, at a reasonable rate ; but he complained that his stock was low, and intreated me to give him something as an
encouragement to ingenuity, especially since this had been a very dear season for cucumbers. I made him a small present, for my lord had furnished me with money on purpose, because he knew their practice of begging from all who go to see them.
I went into another chamber, but was ready to hasten back, being almost overcome with a horrible stink. My conductor pressed me forward, conjuring me in a whisper to give no offence, which would be highly resented, and therefore I durst not so much as stop my nose. The projector of this cell was the most ancient student of the academy; his face and beard were of a pale yellow; his hands and clothes dawbed over with filth. When I was presented to him he gave me a close embrace; a compliment I could well have excused. His employment, from his first coming into the academy, was an operation to reduce human excrement to its original food, by separating the several parts, removing the tincture which it receives from the gall, making the ordure exhale, and scumming off the saliva. He had a weekly allowance, from the society, of a vessel filled with human ordure, about the bigness of a Bristol barrel.
I saw another at work to calcine ice into gunpowder ; who likewise showed me a treatise he had written concerning the malleability of fire, which he intended to publish.
There was a inost ingenious architect, who had contrived a new method for building houses, by beginning at the roof, and working downwards to the foundation ; which he justified to me, by the like practice of those two prudent insects, the bee and
There was a man born blind, who had several apprentices in his own condition : their employment was to mix colours for painters, which their master taught them to distinguish, by feeling and smelling. It was indeed my misfortune to find them at that time not very perfect in their lessons, and the professor himself, happened to be generally mistaken. This artist, is much encouraged and esteemed, by the whole fraternity.
In another apartment, I was highly pleased with a projector who had found a device of plowing the ground with hogs, to save the charges of ploughs, cattle, and labour. The method is this : in an acre of ground you bury, at six inches distance and eight deep, a quantity of acorns, dates, chesnuts, and other mast or vegetables, whereof these animals are fondest : then you drive six hundred or more of them into the field, where, in a few days, they will root up the whole ground in search of their feed, and make it fit for sowing, at the same time manuring it with their dung; it is true, upon experiment they found the charge and trouble very great, and they had little or no crop. However, it is not doubted that this invention
may be capable of great improvement.
I went into another room, where the walls and ceiling were all hung round with cobwebs, except a narrow passage for the artist to go in and out. At my entrance, he called aloud to me not to disturb his webs. He lamented the fatal mistake the world had been so long in, of using silk-worms, while we had such plenty of domestick insects, who infinitely excelled the former, because they understood how to weave, as well as spin. And he pro- .. posed farther, that by employing spiders, the charge of dying silks should be wholly saved ; whereof I was fully convinced, when he showed me a vast number of flies most beautifully coloured, wherewith he fed his spiders, assuring us that the webs would take a tincture from them; and as he had them of all hues, he hoped to fit every body's fancy, as soon as he could find proper food for the flies, of certain gums, oils, and other glutinous matter, to give a strength and consistence to the threads.
There was an astronomer, who had undertaken to place a sun-dial, upon
the great weather-cock on the town-house, by adjusting the annual and diurnal motions of the earth and sun, so as to answer and coincide with all accidental turnings of the wind.
I was complaining of a small fit of the colick, upon which my conductor led me into a room where a great physician resided, who was famous for curing that disease, by contrary operations from the same instrument. He had a large pair of bellows, with a long slender muzzle of ivory : this he conveyed eight inches up the anus, and drawing in the wind he affirmed he could make the guts as lank as a dried bladder. But when the disease was more stubborn and violent, he let in the muzzle while the bellows were full of wind, which he discharged into the body of the patient; then withdrew the instrument to replenish it, clapping his thumb strongly against the orifice of the fundament; and this being repeated three or four times, the adventitious wind would rush out, bringing the noxious along with it, (like water put into a pump) VOL. VI. P
and the patient recovered. I saw him try both experiments upon a dog, but could not discern any effect from the former. After the latter the ani. mal was ready to burst, and made so violent a discharge, as was very offensive to me and my companions. The dog died on the spot, and we left the doctor endeavouring to recover him, by the same operation.
I visited many other apartments, but shall not trouble my reader with all the curiosities I observed, being studious of brevity.
I had hitherto seen only one side of the academy, the other being appropriated to the advancers of speculative learning, of whom I shall say something, when I have mentioned one illustrious person more, who is called among them the universal artist. He told us, he had been thirty years employing his thoughts for the improvement of human life. He had two large rooms full of wonderful curiosities, and fifty men at work. Some, were condensing air into a dry tangible substance, by extracting the nitre, and letting the aqueous or fluid particles percolate ; others, softening marble, for pillows and pincushions : others, petrifying the hoofs of a living horse, to preserve them from foundering. The artist himself, was at that time busy upon two great designs; the first to sow land with chaff, wherein he affirmed the true seminal virtue to be contained, as he demonstrated by several experiments, which I was not skilful enough to comprehend. The other was, by a certain composition of gums, minerals, and vegetables, outwardly applied, to prevent the growth of wool upon two young