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last, for the emolument and glory of his native country, returned to England; where he undertakes to cure all the diseases of the human mind. He cures lying, cheating, swearing, drinking, gaming, avarice, and ambition in the men; and envy, slander, coquetry, prudery, vanity, wantonness, and inconstancy in the women. He undertakes, by a safe, pleasant, and speedy, method, to get husbands for young maids, and good humour for old ones. He instructs wives, after the easiest and newest fashion, in the art of pleasing, and widows in the art of mourning. He gives common sense to philosophers, candour to disputants, modesty to critics, decency to men of fashion, and frugality to trades
For further particulars inquire at the place above mentioned, or of any of the kings and princes in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America.
N. B. The doctor performs his operations by lenitives and alteratives; never applying corrosives, but when inveterate ill habits have rendered gentler methods ineffectual.
Having thus satisfied the public of my amazing abilities, and having, no doubt, raised its curiosity, to an extraordinary height, I shall descend, all at once, from my doctorial dignity, to address myself to my readers as the author of a weekly paper of amusement, called The World.
My design in this paper is to ridicule, with novelty and good-humour, the fashions, follies, vices, and absurdities, of that part of the human species which calls itself The World, and to trace it through all its business, pleasures, and amusements. But though my subjects will chiefly confine me to the town, I do not mean never to make excursions into the country; on the contrary, when the profits of these lucubrations have enabled me to set up a one-horse chair, I shall take frequent occasions of inviting my reader to a seat in it, and of driving him to scenes of pure air, tranquillity, and innocence, from smoke, hurry, and intrigue.
There are only two subjects which, as matters stand at present, I shall absolutely disclaim touching upon; and these are religion and politics. The former of them seems to be so universally practised, and the latter so generally understood, that to enforce the one, or to explain the other, would be to offend the whole body of my readers. To say truth, I have serious reasons for avoiding the first of these subjects. A weak advocate may ruin a good cause. And if religion can be defended by no better arguments than some I have lately seen in the public papers and magazines, the wisest way is to say nothing about it. In relation to politics, I shall only observe, that the minister is not yet so thoroughly acquainted with my abilities as to trust me with his secrets. The moment he throws aside his reserve, I shall throw aside mine, and make the public as wise as myself.
My readers will, I hope, excuse me, if hereafter they should find me very sparing of mottoes to these essays. I know
well that a little Latin or Greek, to those who understand no language but English, is both satisfactory and entertaining. It gives an air of dignity to a paper, and is a convincing proof that the author is a person of profound learning and erudition. But in the opinion of those who are in the secret of such mottoes, the custom is, as Shakspeare says,“ more honoured in the breach than the observance”; a motto being generally chosen after the essay is written, and hardly ever having affinity to it through two pages together. But the truth is, I have a stronger reason for declining this custom: it is, that the follies I intend frequently to treat of, and the characters I shall from time to time exhibit to my readers, will be such as the Greeks and Romans were entirely unacquainted with.
It may perhaps be expected, before I dismiss this paper, that I should take a little notice of my ingenious brother authors, who are obliging the public with their daily and periodical labours. With all these gentlemen I desire to live in peace, friendship, and good neighbourhood; or if any one of them shall think proper to declare war against me unprovoked, I hope he will not insist upon my taking further notice of him, than only to say, as the old serjeant did to his ensign who was beating him, I beseech your honour not to hurt yourself.'
ADVERTISEMENT TO THE WITS. Whereas it is expected that the title of this paper will occasion certain quips, cranks, and conceits, at the Bedford and other coffee-houses in this town: this is therefore to give notice, that the words, this is a sad world, a vain world, a dull world, a wretched world, a trifling world, an ignorant world, a damned world; or that I hate the world, am weary of the world, sick of the world, or phrases to the same effect, applied to this paper, shall be voted, by all that hear them to be without wit, humour, or pleasantry, and be treated accordingly.
No. 2. THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 1753,
It is an observation of Lord Bacon, That the fame of Cicero, Seneca, and the younger Pliny, had scarce lasted to this day, or at least not so fresh, if it had not been joined with some vanity and boasting in themselves: for boasting, continues that great writer, seems to be like varnish, that not only makes wood shine, but last.'
How greatly are the moderns obliged to lord Bacon for giving another reason for the success of the ancients, than superiority of inerit! These gentlemen have taken care, it seems, to lay on their varnish so extremely thick, that common wood has been mistaken for ebony, and ebony for enamel.
But if the ancients owe all their reputation to their skill in varnishing, as no doubt they do, it appears very wonderful, that while the art remains, it should be so totally neglected by modern authors; especially when they experience every day, that for want of this covering, the critics, in the shape of worms, have eat into their wood, and crumbled it to powder.
But to treat this matter plainly, and without a figure; it is most certainly owing to the bashfulness of the moderns that their works are not held in higher estimation than those of the ancients. And this, I think, will be as apparent as any other truth, if we consider for a moment the nature and office of the people called critics. It is the nature of these people to be exceedingly dull; and it is their office to pronounce decisively upon the merit and demerit of all works whatsoever. Thus, choosing themselves into the said office, and happening to set out without taste, talents, or judgement, they have no way of guessing at the excellency of an author, but from what the said author has been graciously pleased to say of it himself: and as most of the moderns are afraid of communicating to the public all that passes in their hearts on that subject, the critics, mistaking their reserve for a confession of weakness, have propounced sentence upon their works, that they are good for nothing. Nor is it matter of wonder that they proceed in this method: for by what rule of reason should a man expect thegood word of another who has nothing to say in favour of himself?
To avoid, therefore, the censure of the critics, and to engage their approbation, I take this early opportunity of assuring them that I have the pleasure of standing extremely high in my own opinion; and if I do not think proper to say with Horace, Sublimi feriam sidera vertice ;
CAR, i. 1. 36. or with Ovid,
Jamque opus incepi, quod nec Jovis ira, nec ignes,
Nec poterit ferrum, nec edax abolere vetustas ; MET. xv. 871. it is because I choose to temper vanity with humility; having sometimes found that a man may be too arrogant, as well as too humble; though it must always be acknowledged that in affairs of enterprize, which require strength, genius, or activity, assurance will succeed where modesty will fail.
To set forth the utility of blending these two virtues, and to exemplify in a particular instance the superiority of assurance, as I began my first
paper with a tale, I shall end this with a fable.
Modesty, the daughter of Knowledge, and Assurance, the offspring of Ignorance, met accidentally upon the road; and as both had a long way to go, and had experienced, from former hardships, that they were alike unqualified to pursue their journey alone, they agreed, notwithstanding the opposition in their natures to lay aside all animosities, and, for their mutual advantage, to travel together. It was in a country where there were no inns for entertainment; so that to their own address, and to the hospitality of the inhabitants, they were continually to be obliged for provision and lodging.
Assurance had never failed getting admittance