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A further Account of the most deplorable condition of
MR. EDMUND CURLL, Bookseller.
The public is already acquainted with the manner of Mr. Curll's impoisonment, by a faithful, though unpolite historian of Grub-street. I am but the continuer of his history; yet I hope a due distinction will be made between an undignified scribbler of a sheet and half, and the author of a three-penny stitched book, like myself.
“ Wit,” saith Sir Richard Blackmore, “proceeds from a concurrence of regular and exalted ferments, and an affluence of animal spirits rectified and refined to a degree of purity.” On the contrary, when the igneous particles rise with the vital liquor, they produce an abstraction of the rational part of the soul, which we commonly call madness. The verity of this hypothesis is justified by the symptoms with which the unfortunate Mr. Edmund Curll, bookseller, hath been afflicted, ever since his swallowing the poison at the Swan tavern in Fleet-street. For though the neck of his retort, which carries up the animal spirits to the head, is of an extraordinary length; yet the said animal spirits rise muddy, being contaminated with the inflammable particles of this uncommon poison.
The symptoms of his departure from his usual temper of mind were at first only speaking civilly to his customers, singing a pig with a new purchased libel, and refusing two and nine-pence for Sir Richard Blackmore’s Essays.
As the poor man's frenzy increased, he began to void his excrements in his bed, read Rochester's bawdy poems to his wife, gave Oldmixon a slap on the chops, and would have kissed Mr. Pemberton's 'a- by violence.
3 Blackmore's Essays, vol. i.-Warton.
But at last he came to such a pass, that he would. dine upon nothing but copper-plates, took a clyster for a whipt syllabub, and made Mr. Lintot eat a suppository, for a radish, with bread and butter.
We leave it to every tender wife to imagine, how sorely all this afflicted poor Mrs. Curll: at first she privately put a bill into several churches, desiring the prayers of the congregation for a wretched stationer distempered in mind. But when she was sadly convinced that his misfortune was public to all the world, she writ the following letter to her good neighbour Mr. Lintot:
A true copy of Mrs. Curll's letter to Mr. Lintot.
“ WORTHY MR. LINTOT, “You and all the neighbours know too well the frenzy with which my poor man is visited. I never perceived he was out of himself, till that melancholy day that he thought he was poisoned in a glass of sack; upon this he ran a-vomiting all over the house, nay, in the newwashed dining-room Alas! this is the greatest adversity that ever befel my poor man, since he lost one testicle at school by the bite of a black boar. Good Lord ! if he should die, where should I dispose of the stock ? unless Mr. Pemberton or you would help a distressed widow; for God knows, he never published any books that lasted above a week, so that if he wanted daily books, we wanted daily bread. I can write no more, for I hear the rap of Mr. Curll's ivory-headed cane upon the counter.—Pray recommend me to your pastrycook, who furnishes you yearly with tarts in exchange for your paper, for Mr. Curll has disobliged ours, since his fits came upon him ;-before that we generally lived upon baked meats. He is coming in, and I
have but just time to put his son out of the way for fear of mischief: so wishing you a merry Easter, I remain,
6 Your most humble servant,
“ C. CURLL.”
“ P. S. As to the report of my poor husband's stealing
o'calf, it is really groundless, for he always binds in sheep."
But return we to Mr. Curll, who all Wednesday continued outrageously mad. On Thursday he had a lucid interval, that enabled him to send a general summons to all his authors. There was but one porter, who could perform this office, to whom he gave the following bill of directions, where to find them. This bill, together with Mrs. Curll's original letter, lie at Mr. Lintot's shop to be perused by the curious.
Instructions to a porter how to find Mr. Curll's Authors.
“At a tallow-chandler's in Petty France, half-way under the blind arch, ask for the historian.
“At the Bedstead and Bolster, a music-house in Moorfields, two translators in a bed together.
“At the Hercules and Still in Vinegar-yard, a schoolmaster with carbuncles on his nose.
“At a blacksmith's shop in the Friars, a Pindaric writer in red stockings.
“In the calendar-mill-room at Exeter-change, a composer of Meditations.
“At the Three Tobacco-pipes in Dog and Bitch yard, one that has been a parson ; he wears a blue camblet coat, trimmed with black: my best writer against revealed religion.
“At Mr. Summers, a thief-catcher's, in Lewkner's
lane, the man that wrote against the impiety of Mr. Rowe's plays.
“At the Farthing pye-house in Totting-fields, the young man who is writing my new pastorals.
“At the laundress's, at the Hole in the Wall in Cursitor’s alley, up three pair of stairs, the author of my Church-history,--if his flux be over You may also speak to the gentleman who lies by him in the flock-bed, my index-maker.
“The cook’s wife in Buckingham-court: bid her bring along with her the similes, that were lent her for her next new play.
“Call at Budge-row for the gentleman you used to go to in the cockloft ; I have taken away the ladder, but his landlady has it in keeping.
“I don't much care if you ask at the Mint for the old beetle-browed critic, and the purblind poet at the Alley over against St. Andrew's, Holborn. But this as you have time.”
All these gentlemen appeared at the hour appointed in Mr. Curll’s dining-room, two excepted; one of whom was the gentleman in the cockloft, his landlady being out of the way, and the gradus ad Parnassum taken down; the other happened to be too closely watched by the bailiffs.
They no sooner entered the room, but all of them showed in their behaviour some suspicion of each other: some turning away their heads with an air of contempt; others squinting with a leer, that showed at once fear and indignation, each with a haggard abstracted mien, the lively picture of scorn, solitude, and short-commons. So when a keeper feeds his hungry charge of vultures, panthers, and of Libyan
Mrs. Centlivre.- Warton.
leopards, each eyes his fellow with a fiery glare: high hung, the bloody liver tempts their maw.
Or as a housewife stands before her pales, surrounded by her geese; they fight, they hiss, they gaggle, beat their wings, and down is scattered as the winter's snow, for a poor grain of oat, or tare, or barley. Such looks shot through the room transverse, oblique, direct; such was the stir and din, till Curll thus spoke (but without rising from his close-stool) :
“ Whores and authors must be paid before-hand to put them in good humour; therefore here is half a crown a-piece for you to drink your own healths, and confusion to Mr. Addison, and all other successful writers.
“Ah, Gentlemen! what have I not done? what have I not suffered, rather than the world should be deprived of your lucubrations? I have taken involuntary purges, I have been vomited, three times have I been caned, once was I hunted, twice was my head broke by a grenadier, twice was I tossed in a blanket; I have had boxes on the ears, slaps on the chops; I have been frighted, pumped, kicked, slandered, and beshitten.--I hope, Gentlemen, you are all convinced that this author of Mr. Lintot's could mean nothing else but starving you, by poisoning me. It remains for us to consult the best and speediest methods of revenge."
He had scarcely done speaking, but the historian proposed a history of his life. The Exeter-Exchange gentleman was for penning articles of his faith. Some pretty smart Pindaric, says the red-stocking poet, would effectually do his business. But the indexmaker said, there was nothing like an index to his Homer.
After several debates, they came to the following resolutions :