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are not always men of the greatest success, and that persons of his character, must not expect to be as happy as fools.” I shall proceed in the like manner with my rivals and competitors for the thousand pounds a year, which we are now in pursuit of; and that I may give general content to the whole body of candidates, I shall allow all that draw prizes to be fortunate, and all that miss them to be wise.
I must not here omit to acknowledge, that I have received several letters upon this subject, but find one common error running through them all, which is, that the writers of them believe their fate in these cases depends upon the astrologer, and not upon the stars : as in the following letter from one, who, I fear, flatters himself with hopes of success which are altogether groundless, since he does not seem to me so great a fool as he takes himself to be.
“ Coming to town, and finding my friend Mr. Partridge dead and buried, and you the only conjuror in repute, I am under a necessity of applying myself to you for a favour, which nevertheless I confess it would better become a friend to ask, than one who is, as I am, altogether a stranger to you ; but poverty, you know, is impudent; and as that gives me the occasion, so that alone could give me the confidence to be thus importunate.
“I am, Sir, very poor, and very desirous to be otherwise; I have got ten pounds, which I design to venture in the lottery now on foot. What I de sire of you is, that by your art, you will choose such a ticket for me as shall arise a benefit sufficient to maintain me. I must beg leave to inform you, that I am good for nothing, and must therefore insist upon a larger lot than would satisfy those who are capable, by their own abilities, of adding something to what you should assign them; whereas 1
must expect an absolute independent maintenance, because, as I said, I can do nothing. It is possible, after this free confession of mine, you may think I do not deserve to be rich; but I hope you will likewise observe, I can ill afford to be poor. My own opinion is, that I am well qualified for an estate, and have a good title to luck in a lottery ; but I resign myself wholly to your mercy, not without hopes that you will consider, the less I deserve, the greater the generosity in you. If you reject me, I have agreed with an acquaintance of mine to bury me for my ten pounds. I once more recommend myself to your favour, and bid you adieu !"
I cannot forbear publishing another letter which I have received, because it redounds to my own credit, as well as to that of a very honest footman. - Mr. Bickerstaff,
Jan. 23, 1709-10. “ I am bound in justice to acquaint you, that I put an advertisement into your
paper watch which was lost, and was brought to me on the very day your paper came out, by a footman, who told me,
that he would not have brought it, if he had not read your discourse of that day against avarice; but that since he had read it, he scorned to take a reward for doing what in justice he ought to do. I am, Sir,
Your most humble servant,
N° 125. SATURDAY, JANUARY 26, 1709-10.
Quem mala stultitia, et quæcunque inscitia veri
Hor. 2 Sat. iii. 43.
FRANCIS. From my own Apartment, January 25. There is a sect of ancient philosophers, who, I think, have left more volumes behind them, and those better written, than any other of the fraternities in philosophy. It was a maxim of this sect, that all those who do not live up to the principles of reason and virtue are madmen. Every one who governs himself by these rules, is allowed the title of wise, and reputed to be in his senses; and every one, in proportion as he deviates from them, is pronounced frantic and distracted. Cicero, having chosen this maxim for his theme, takes occasion to argue from it very agreeably with Clodius, his implacable adversary, who had procured his banishment. “A city,” says he, “ is an assembly distinguished into bodies of men, who are in possession of their respective rights and privileges, cast under proper subordinations, and in all parts obedient to the rules of law and equity.” He then represents the government from whence he was banished, at a time when the consul, senate, and laws had lost their authority, as
a commonwealth of lunatics. For this reason he regards his expulsion from Rome, as a man would being turned out of Bedlam, if the inhabitants of it should drive him out of their walls as a person unfit for their community. We
therefore to look upon every man's brain to be
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 a habitation for mad
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 işland; 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 distempered 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 hellebore 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 the time he had rid thrice about the island; and a harebrained 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 of 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. It is humbly proposed, that a proper receptacle, or habitation, be forthwith erected for all such persons as, upon due trial and examination, shall ‘appear to be out of their wits.