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SQUIRE BICKERSTAFF DETECTED:
ASTROLOGICAL IMPOSTOR CONVICTED.
STUDENT IN PHYSIC AND ASTROLOGY.*
Ir is hard, my dear countrymen of these united nations, it is very hard, that a Briton born, a protestant astrologer, a man of revolution principles, an assertor of the liberty and property of the people, should cry out in vain for justice against a Frenchman, a papist, and an illiterate pretender to science, that would blast my reputation, most inhumanly bury me alive, and defraud my native country of those services, which, in my double capacity, I daily offer the public.
* This piece being on the same subject, and the original of it very rare, we have thought fit to add it, though not written by the same hand. In the Dublin edition it is said to be written by the late N. Rowe, Esq. which is a mistake ; for the reverend Dr Yalden, preacher of Bridewell, Mr Partridge's near neighbour, drew it up for him.
What great provocations I have received, let the impartial reader judge, and how unwillingly, even in my own defence, I now enter the lists against falsehood, ignorance, and envy: but I am exasperated, at length, to drag out this Cacus from the den of obscurity where he lurks, detect him by the light of those stars he has so impudently traduced, and show there is not a monster in the skies so pernicious and malevolent to mankind, as an ignorant pretender to physic and astrology. I shall not directly fall on the many gross errors, nor expose the notorious absurdities of this prostitute libeller, till I have let the learned world fairly into the controversy depending, and then leave the unprejudiced to judge of the merits and justice of my cause.
It was toward the conclusion of the year 1707, when an impudent pamphlet crept into the world, entitled, Predictions, fc. by Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq. Among the many arrogant assertions laid down by that lying spirit of divination, he was pleased to pitch on the cardinal de Noailles and myself, among many other eminent and illustrious persons, that were to die within the compass of the ensuing year; and peremptorily fixes the month, day, and hour of our deaths: this, I think, is sporting with great men, and public spirits, to the scandal of religion, and reproach of power; and if sovereign princes and astrologers must make diversion for the vulgar-why then farewell, say I, to all governments, ecclesiastical and civil. But, I thank my better stars, I am alive to confront this false and audacious predictor, and to make him rue the hour he ever affronted a man of science and resentment. The cardinal may take what measures he pleases with him; as his excellency is a foreigner, and a papist, he has no
reason to rely on me for his justification ; I shall only assure the world he is alive :-but as he was bred to letters, and is master of a pen, let him use it in his own defence. In the mean time I shall present the public with a faithful narrative of the ungenerous treatment and hard usage I have received, from the virulent papers, and malicious practices, of this pretended astrologer.
A TRUE AND IMPARTIAL ACCOUNT OF THE PRO
CEEDINGS OF ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, ESQ. AGAINST ME.
The 28th of March, anno Dom. 1708, being the night this sham prophet had so impudently fixed for my last, which made little impression on myself; but I cannot answer for my whole family; for my
wife, with concern more than usual, prevailed on me to take somewhat to sweat for a cold; and, between the hours of eight and nine, to go to bed; the maid, as she was warming my bed, with a curiosity natural to young wenches, runs to the window, and asks of one passing the street, who the bell tolled for? Dr Partridge, says he, the famous almanack-maker, who died şuddenly this evening: the poor girl, provoked, told him, he lied like a rascal; the other very sedately replied, the sexton had so informed him, and if 'false, he was to blame for imposing upon a stranger. She asked a second, and a third, as they passed, and every one was in the same tone. Now, I do not say these are accomplices to a certain astrological 'squire, and that one Bickerstaff might be sauntering thereabout, because I will assert nothing here, but what I dare attest for plain matter of fact. My wife at this fell into a violent disorder; and I must own I was a little discomposed at the oddness of the accident. In the mean time one knocks at my door; Betty runs down, and opening, finds a sober grave person, who modestly inquires if this was Dr Partridge's? she taking him for some cautious city patient, that came at that time for privacy, shows him into the dining-room. As soon as I could compose myself, I went to him, and was surprised to find my gentleman mounted on a table with a two-foot rule in his hand, measuring my walls, and taking the dimensions of the room. Pray, sir, says I, not to interrupt you, have you any business with me? Only, sir, replies he, order the girl to bring me a better light, for this is but a very dim one. Sir, says I, my name is Partridge: O! the doctor's brother, belike, cries he; the staircase, I believe, and these two apartments hung in close mourning, will be sufficient, and only a strip of bays round the other rooms. The doctor must needs die rich, he had great dealings in his way for many years; if he had no family coat, you had as good use the escutcheons of the company, they are as showish, and will look as magnificent, as if he was descended from the blood-royal. With that I assumed a greater air of authority, and demanded who employed him, or how he came there? Why, I was sent, sir, by the company of undertakers, says he, and they were employed by the honest gentleman, who is executor to the good doctor departed; and our rascally porter, I believe, is fallen fast asleep with the black cloth and sconces, or he had been here, and we might have been tacking up by this time. Sir, says I, pray be advised by a friend, and make the best of your speed out of my doors, for I hear my wife's voice (which, by the by, is pretty distinguishable), and in that corner of the room stands a good cudgel, which somebody has felt before now; if that light in her hands, and she know the business you come about, without consulting the stars, I can assure you it will be employed very much to the detriment of your person. Sir, cries he, bowing with great civility, I perceive extreme grief for the loss of the doctor, disorders you a little at present, but early in the morning I will wait on you with all the necessary materials. Now I mention no Bickerstaff; nor do I say, that a certain star-gazing 'squire has been playing my executor before his time; but I leave the world to judge, and he that puts things and things fairly together, will not be much wide of the mark.
Well, once more I got my doors closed, and prepared for bed, in hopes of a little repose after so many ruffling adventures; just as I was putting out my light in order to do it, another bounces as hard as he can knock; I open the window, and ask who is there, and what he wants? I am Ned the sexton, replies he, and come to know whether the doctor left any orders for a funeral sermon, and where he is to be laid, and whether his grave is to be plain or bricked ? Why, sirrah, says I, you know me well enough; you know I am not dead, and how dare you affront me after this manner? Alackaday, sir, replies the fellow, why it is in print, and the whole town knows you are dead; why, there is Mr White the joiner is but fitting screws to your coffin, he will be here with it in an instant: he was afraid you would