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Of the incurable vain, affected, and impertinent, I should at least admit ten thousand ; which number I am confident will appear very inconsiderable, if we include all degrees of females, from the duchess to the chambermaid ; all poets, who have had a little success, especially in the dramatic way, and all players, who have met with a small degree of approbation. Amounting only to
By which plain computation it is evident, that two hundred thousand persons will be daily provided for, and the allowance for maintaining this collection of incurables may be seen in the following account.
Fools, being Knaves Scolds Scribblers Coxcombs Infidels Liars
For the Incurable
Per day. 20,000 at one shilling each £1000 30,000 ditto
From whence it appears, that the daily expense will amount to such a sum, as in 365 days comes to
And I am fully satisfied that a sum, much greater than this, may easily be raised, with all possible satisfaction to the subject, and without interfering in the least with the revenues of the crown.
In the first place, a large proportion of this sum might be raised by the voluntary contribution of the inhabitants.
The computed number of people in Great Britain is very little less than eight millions, of which, upon a most moderate computation, we may account one half to be incurables. And as all those different incurables, whether acting in the capacity of friends, acquaintances, wives, husbands, daughters, counsellors, parents, old maids, or old bachelors, are inconceivable plagues to all those with whom they happen to be concerned ; and, as there is no hope of being eased of such plagues, except by such an hospital, which, by degrees, might be enlarged to contain them all, I think it cannot be doubted, that at least three millions and a half of people, out of the remaining proportion, would be found both able and desirous to contribute so small a sum as twenty shillings per annum, for the quiet of the kingdom, the
peace of private families, and the credit of the nation in general. And this contribution would amount to very near our requisite sum.
Nor can this by any means be esteemed a wild conjecture; for where is there a man of common sense, honesty, or good-nature, who would not gladly propose even a much greater sum to be freed from a scold, a knave, a fool, a liar, a coxcomb conceitedly repeating, the compositions of others, or a vain impertinent poet repeating his own ?
In the next place, it may justly be supposed, that many young noblemen, knights, squires, and extrava
gant heirs, with very large estates, would be confined in our hospital. And I would propose, that the annual income of every particular incurable's estate should be appropriated to the use of the house, But, besides these, there will undoubtedly be many old misers, aldermen, justices, directors of companies, templars, and merchants of all kinds, whose personal fortụnes are immense, and who should proportionably pay to the hospital,
Yet, lest, by being here misunderstood, I should seem to propose an unjust or oppressive scheme, I shall fura ther explain my design.
Suppose, for instance, a young nobleman, possessed of ten or twenty thousand pounds per annum, should accidentally be confined there as an incurable, I would have only such a proportion of his estate applied to the support of the hospital, as he himself would spend if he were at liberty. And, after his death, the profits of the estate should regularly devolve to the next lawful heir, whether male or female.
And my reason for this proposal is, because considerable estates, which probably would be squandered away among hounds, horses, whores, sharpers, surgeons, tailors, pimps, masquerades, or architects, if left to the management of such incurables, would, by this means, become of some real use, both to the public and themselves. And perhaps this may be the only method which can be found to make such young spendthrifts of any real benefit to their country.
And although the estates of deceased incurables might be permitted to descend to the next heirs, the hospital would probably sustain no great disadvantage ; because it is very likely that most of these heirs would also gradually be admitted under some denomination or other, and consequently their estates would again devolve to the use of the hospital.
As to the wealthy misers, &c., I would have their private fortunes nicely examined and calculated ; because, if they were old bachelors, (as it would frequently happen,) their whole fortunes should be appropriated to the endowment; but, if married, I would leave twothirds of their fortunes for the support of their families; which families would cheerfully consent to give away
the remaining third, if not more, to be freed from such
peevish and disagreeable governors.
So that, deducting from the two hundred thousand incurables the forty thousand scribblers, who to be sure would be found in very bad circumstances, I believe, among the remaining hundred and sixty thousand fools, knaves, and coxcombs, so many would be found of large estates and easy fortunes, as would at least produce two hundred thousand pounds per annum.
As a further addition to our endowment, I would have a tax upon all inscriptions and tombstones, monuments and obelisks, erected to the honour of the dead, or on porticoes and trophies, to the honour of the living; because these will naturally and properly come under the article of lies, pride, vanity, &c.
And if all inscriptions throughout this kingdom were impartially examined, in order to tax those which should appear demonstrably false or flattering, I am convinced that not one-fifth part of the number would, after such a scrutiny, escape exempted.
Many an ambitious turbulent spirit would then be found, belied with the opposite title of lover of his country; and many a Middlesex justice, as improperly described, sleeping in hope of salvation.
Many an usurer, discredited by the appellations of honest and frugal; and many a lawyer, with the character of conscientious and equitable.
Many a British statesman and general, decaying with more honour than they lived, and their dusts distinguished with a better reputation than when they were animated.
Many dull parsons, improperly styled eloquent; and as many stupid physicians, improperly styled learned.
Yet, notwithstanding the extensiveness of a tax upon such monumental impositions, I will count only upon twenty, thousand, at five pounds per annum each, which will amount to one hundred thousand pounds-annually.
To these annuities I would also request the Parliament of this nation to allow the benefit of two lotteries yearly, by which the hospital would gain two hundred thousand pounds clear. Nor can such a request seem anyway extraordinary, since it would be appropriated to the benefit of fools and knaves, which is the sole cause of granting one for this present year.
In the last place, I would add the estate of Richard Norton, Esq.; and, to do his memory all possible honour, I would have his statue erected in the very first apartment of the hospital, or in any other which might seem more apt. And on his monument I would permit a long inscription, composed by his dearest friends, which should remain tax-free for ever.
From these several articles, therefore, would annually arise the following sums :