Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

years, infirmities, and probably ill-humour, are forced to bribe into their embraces such whose fortunes and characters are equally desperate.

Besides, our collection of incurable fools would receive an incredible addition from every one of the following articles :

From young extravagant heirs, who are just of a competent age to become the bubbles of jockeys, sportsmen, gamesters, bullies, sharpers, courtezans, and such sort of honourable pickpockets.

From misers, who half starve themselves to feed the prodigality of their heirs, and who proclaim to the world how unworthy they are of possessing estates, by the wretched and ridiculous methods they take to enjoy them.

From contentious people, of all conditions, who are content to waste the greatest part of their own fortunes at law, to be the instruments of impoverishing others.

From those who have any confidence in profession of friendship, before trial, or any dependence on the fidelity of a mistress.

From young illiterate squires, who travel abroad to import lewdness, conceit, arrogance, vanity, and foppery, of which commodities there seems to be so great an abundance at home.

From young clergymen, who contrive, by matrimony, to acquire a family, before they have obtained the necessary means to maintain one.

From those who have considerable estates in different kingdoms, and yet are so incurably stupid as to spend their whole incomes in this.

These, and several other articles which might be mentioned, would afford us a perpetual opportunity of easing the public, by having an hospital for the accommodation of such incurables; who, at present, either by the overfondness of near relations, or the indolence of the magistrates, are permitted to walk abroad, and appear in the most crowded places of this city, as if they were indeed reasonable creatures.

I had almost forgot to hint, that, under this article, there is a modest probability that many of the clergy would be found properly qualified for admittance into the hospital, who might serve in the capacity of chaplains, and save the unnecessary expense of salaries.

To these fools, in order succeed such as may justly be included under the extensive denomination of incurable knaves; of which our several Inns of Court would constantly afford us abundant supplies.

I think, indeed, that, of this species of incurables, there ought to be a certain limited number annually admitted, which number, neither any regard to the quiet or benefit of the nation, nor any other charitable for public-spirited reason, should tempt us to exceed ; because, if all were to be admitted on such a foundation, who might be reputed incurable of this distémper; and if it were possible for the public to find any place large enough for their reception, I have not the least doubt that all our inns, which are at this day so crowded, would in a short time be emptied of their inhabitants, and the law, that beneficial craft, want hands to conduct it.

I tremble to think what herds of attorneys, solicitors, pettifoggers, scriveners, usurers, hackney-clerks, pickpockets, pawn-brokers, jailors, and justices of the peace, would hourly be driven to such an hospital; and what disturbance it might also create in several noble and wealthy families.

What unexpected distress might it prove to several men of fortune and quality, to be suddenly deprived of their rich stewards, in whom they had for many years reposed the utmost confidence, and to find them irrecoverably lodged among such a collection of incurables !

How many orphans might then expect to see their guardians hurried away to the hospital ; and how

many greedy executors find reason to lament the want of opportunity to pillage !

Would not Exchange Alley have cause to mourn for the loss of its stock-jobbers and brokers; and the Charitable Corporation for the confinement of many of its directors ?

Might not Westminster-Hall, as well as all the gaming-houses in this great city, be entirely unpeopled ; and the professors of art in each of those assemblies become useless in their vocations, by being deprived of all future opportunity to be dishonest ?

In short, it might put the whole kingdom into confusion and disorder; and we should find that the entire revenues of this nation would be scarce able to support so great a number of incurables, in this way, as would appear qualified for admission into our hospital.

For if we only consider how this kingdom swarms with quadrille-tables, and gaming-houses, both public and private, and also how each of those houses, as well as Westminster-Hall aforesaid, swarms with knaves who are anxious to win, or fools who have anything to lose, we may be soon convinced how necessary it will be to limit the number of incurables, comprehended under these titles, lest the foundation should prove insufficient to maintain any others besides them.

However, if, by this scheme of mine, the nation can

[ocr errors]

be eased of twenty or thirty thousand such incurables, I think it ought to be esteemed somewhat beneficial, and worthy of the attention of the public.

The next sort for whom I would gladly provide, and who for several generations have proved insupportable plagues and grievances to the good people of England, are those who may properly be admitted under the character of incurable scolds.

I own this to be a temper of so desperate a nature, that few females can be found willing to own themselves anyway addicted to it; and yet, it is thought that there is scarce a single parson, 'prentice, alderman, squire, or husband, who would not solemnly avouch the very re

verse.

I could wish, indeed, that the word scold might be changed for some more gentle term, of equal signification ; because I am convinced, that the very name is as offensive to female ears, as the effects of that incurable distemper are to the ears of the men ; which, to be sure, is inexpressible.

And that it hath been always customary to honour the very same kind of actions with different appellations, only to avoid giving offence, is evident to common observation.

For instance : How many lawyers, attorneys, solicitors, under-sheriffs, intriguing chambermaids, and counter-officers, are continually guilty of extortion, bribery, oppression, and many other profitable knaveries, to drain the purses of those with whom they are anyway concerned! And yet, all these different expedients to raise a fortune, pass generally under the milder names of fees, perquisites, vales, presents, gratuities, and such like; alof a rotten house at Rathfarnham, the worst air in Ireland, for nine hundred and ninety-nine years, at twelve pounds a-year; the land, which was only a strip of ground, not being worth twenty shillings a-year. When the same person whom he lampooned heard the thing, he begged Solomon to get a clause to surrender, and at last prevailed to have it done after twenty-one years ; because it was a madness to pay eleven pounds a-year, for a thousand years, for a house that could not last twenty. But Solomon made an agreement with his landlady, that he should be at liberty to surrender his lease in seven years; and if he did not do it at that time, should be obliged to keep it for nine hundred and ninety-nine years. In the meantime, he expends about one hundred pounds on the house and garden-wall; and in less than three years, contracts such a hatred to the house, that he lets it run to ruin: so that, when the seven years were expired, he must either take it for the remainder of the nine hundred and ninety-nine years, or be sued for waste, and lose all the money he laid out: and now he pays twelve pounds a-year for a place he

never sees.

Solomon has an estate of about thirty-five pounds per annum, in the county of Cavan; upon which, instead of ever receiving one penny rent, he hath expended above thirty pounds per annum in buildings and plantations, which are all gone to ruin.

Solomon is under-tenant to a bishop's lease ;* he is

* It would be unjust to suppress the manner in which Sheridan became possessed of this valuable property. It had its rise in his memorable text on King George's birth-day.

“But though, as Swift expresses it, the Doctor had thus, by

« PredošláPokračovať »