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gave me a very favourable intimation. Upon inquiry I found that he had not yet been prevailed upon to publish any of his compositions, though a club of wits, with what views I know not, had long urged him to that dangerous step.
“ These, Sir, were the first experiments that I 'made upon the arrival of this marvellous instrument; and as I have been in habits of frequenting the chief literary societies of both sexes, I soon found excellent opportunities of enriching my stock of discoveries. Every fresh acquisition I have used myself to write down with the most scrupulous precision, upon my return to my lodgings; so that I have now, in my porte-feuille, a sheet of fool's-cap, on which a great many poetical names of consequence in the
present age may be found, with the sentence of the fluid faithfully annexed. This awful and tremendous record, which, if divulged, would consign hundreds of volumes to perpetual oblivion, I promise to conceal with inviolable secresy, provided that the convicted authors henceforward desist from publication. Should they, however, in contempt of this my solemn notice, and lenient reserve, continue to obtrude their futile productions upon the attention of the world, I hereby declare, that I will, from time to time, insert in the most approved journal of the republic of letters, certain authentic and indubitable extracts from this my Liber Veritatis.
During the course of my observations on this subject, I have remarked, that, in almost every instance, the liquor was violently agitated upon rising to Ode and Pastoral; from which I concluded that these branches of the art were either difficult in the extreme, or that the circumstances of the age were unpropitious to the cultivation of them. Now, my good Mr. Olive-BRANCH, I leave it to you to
consider whether the introduction of these regulators be at present practicable; how far any opposition to the use of them is to be apprehended from our academical professors; and whether the writers for the two theatres will readily agree to the establishment of so severe and impartial a test.
“ The mode of introducing them could not be very difficult. Presses may be licensed through the kingdom, and an Act passed, by which every printer should be obliged to furnish himself with a tube, and bound to refuse publication to authors who had not received the necessary sanction. As I disclaim all political disquisitions, better heads must determine how far the importation of these little instruments, which will doubtless be very great, may constitute a new branch of national commerce. I cannot avoid expressing this hint, because I hear, from good authority, that the Dutch, who have no poets in their country, and consequently no use for these tubes, mean nevertheless to profit from the discovery, by making it a part of their carrying trade. In the mean time, if you can suggest an expedient that will less affect the liberty of the press, than the idea respecting licences, &c. you will confer a lasting obligation on your
« Humble servant,
STEPHEN STANZA." No. 20. TUESDAY, MAY 15.
EMPIRE OF NOTHING.
If what I have already related of my extraordinary vision of the empire of Nothing have left any curiosity in the minds of my readers, they will not think it too early to give them the rest of it.
After having been pretty much fatigued with the bustle, pomp, and noise, of the great city of Tintinabia, 1 entreated my guide to conduct me a little way up the country; a request which he acceded to with his usual complacence, and immediately ordered his balloon to be brought round to meet us at one of the gates, called Addle-gate, where the road began which led to the palace of his Inane Majesty. In the mean time we continued our walk through the suburbs of the city; and passing on through Rottenrow and Trumpery-street, we came to Abra-Cadabra-square, one side of which was filled
with the great college of arts and sciences. Being myself of a learned profession, I felt a strong inclination to make some inquiries respecting the institutions and practices of this venerable community; and it was doubtless an instance of great good fortune, that my guide, being himself a considerable member of it, was well able to instruct me in all these particulars.
I have not room to give a detail of half what I saw, much less relate all the observations I made upon the spot; I shall give my readers merely a glance into this emporium of literature and philosophy. It was here that the very spirit of inanity and nothingness seemed to reside, and that the taste for genuine nonsense prevailed in its classical purity.
The public library, which I was told was a complete repository of the national learning, was contained in a vast amphitheatre, that made a most resplendent show of ornamented binding. I entertained myself with turning over as many volumes as my time would permit; and must confess, that the matter they comprised was, in general, of a graver cast than those which the booksellers’shops had presented. One whole compartment, which I was informed contained a hundred thousand volumes, was wholly allotted to treatises on conjuration with cards, and the rules of leger-de-main. Next to that was a similar space, taken up with dissertations on the black art, and the study of demonology and witchcraft. Modern metaphysics made a most important figure in this wonderful collection; and the learning accumulated on the subject of animal magnetism, was the pride of their academy. The rules of divination had occupied no small number of their schoolmen and philosophers, and having these short and satisfactory modes of ascertaining the future, they held it folly, if not impiety, to reason from the past. In politics, the books of the highest authority were such as promulgated principles the most abstracted from man's nature and capacities; and the vulgar notion of civil society, as composed of individual men, hadlong been exploded as the groundwork of their political reasonings. All their prac
tical rules of government and civil polity were drawn from the consideration of human beings, as existing in a collective, metaphysical, corporate, capacity; and to man, in this sublime and contemplative idea of him, were all laws to be so framed and tempered as, at length, to constitute an indivisible invisible part of his spiritual essence: to rush into a sort of sudden sympathetic union with the qualities of the soul; and thus to anticipate the completion of our nature, and carry us at once into the order of superior intelligences.
I was very much chagrined, feeling as I do for the credit of the fair sex, to see so many female contributors to this learned lumber, the warmth of whose fancies does not always suffer them to engage in these stubborn disquisitions with a sufficient regard to facts and possibilities.
While we were thus considering this class of learned productions, my guide called my attention to a manuscript very superbly bound and lettered, purporting to be the Scheme of a Commonwealth. Before we turned over
pages of this valuable book, I was apprized of a feature of this nation's polity, which I believe is peculiar to itself, and may be a fact important to be known to my countrymen and others in these goodly times of political experiment. There was a certain island, situated at the distance of about two thousand miles from the great kingdom of Nothing, and nearly as far separated
from every other shore. The property of this island had formerly been vested in the crown of Inania, or the great kingdom of Nothing; and as it was barren of every produce that was marketable in the mother country, being entirely covered with solid timber and substantial fruits, it had long been made the receptacle of obnoxious persons, of which description