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Thus, when two gentlemen go out with pistols, and shoot each other through the head or the heart, it is no more than “ an affair of honour :" when one seduces the wife or the daughter of another, it is merely an “ attachment:" and to cheat a man out of his estate, is only to “ pluck a pigeon.” In the neighbourhood above described, the nomenclature is much farther advanced, and has nearly attained perfection. They have a language peculiar to theinselves, in which, when they relate their transactions, they may have been doing what is perfectly just and right for any thing we can tell to the contrary, since the words are not to be found in any dictionary but their own.
Here then, as some will think, is a more expeditious way of preventing vice, than by proclamation ; and, what is much to be desired, of doing it with out infliction of punishment, by the sole and simple expedient of voting vice to be virtue.
The scheme is plausible; but, I must confess, I have my doubts. If we once vote vice to be virtue, I am afraid, that, by a necessity of nature, virtue, per contra, must become vice; and so we shall but be where we were : there will still be vice in the world.
When the welfare of his country is concerned, every man loves to be a little bit of a projector. On going deeper into the subject, I think I have hit upon a plan, which will make root and branch work of it, and do the business effectually.
That the effect may cease, the cause must be removed. Now, what is the cause of vice ? Most undoubtedly, the law: for, were there no law, there could be no transgression. Abolish then, at
once, the use of all law, human and divine. 1 grant the step a bold one, requiring a minister of firm. ness and resolution to take it; but when once taken, the advantages will be many and great,
In the first place, vice will, at one stroke, be extirpated from the face of the earth; for 'when a man has no law but his own will, we may defy him to do any thing illegal. Never trust to moral impossibility, where physical is to be had.
Secondly, it will put an end to the expense and trouble of law suits; and (as equity would fall with law) to all tedious and everlasting suits in chancery, so ipuch and so long complained of.
Thirdly, it will be a saving to the pation of one tenth of the produce of all the lands in England and Ireland; and, consequently, put a stop to the ravages of the White-boys and Right-boys in this latter kingdom, as well as all disputes between miuisters and their parishioners, in the former ; since, as there would be no more occasion for reading prayers and preaching, the payment of tithes must, of course, be at an end.
Fourthly, it will procure a perpetual holyday for the gentlemen of either robe, who, in future, will have nothing to do, but to hunt, shoot, and play at cards. The same may be said respecting the menibers of both houses of parliament.
Fifthly, it will make Sunday as cheerful a day as any day of the week.
Lastly, it will remove all odium from the magistrates who have granted a licence to the Dog and Duck.
Such are the conveniences that would attend the execution of my plan; and after considering the subject on all sides, for six honrs, in my elbowchair, I protest, I cannot think of any one inconvenience to set against them; nor can I devise any method likely to be so effectual in redressing the grievances occasioned by the proclamation to the subject.
It remains only, that I mention one, which may possibly be occasioned by it to the crown; and which, indeed, I might not have thought of, but for the visit paid me, as I was closing this paper, by an honest farmer. “So, Robin,” said I to hiin, .“ rare news from London. The king is to be served now only by good and virtuous courtiers !” “Ah, Lord have mercy upon me, sir!" replied Robin; “ God bless his majesty, and grant him long to reign! But I am afraid as how he will be sometimes obliged to help himself.”
Saturday, OCTOBER 6, 1787.
My good sir-What is your name? Your Englislı name, I mean; for neither 1, nor the parson of our parish, know what to make of your Olla Podrida. If it were Latin, Greek, or Hebrew, the doctor says
hé could give a good account of it: but you Oxford and Cambridge wits (especially the latter) have lately got a habit of introducing half a page of Italian, French, or Spanish, (untranslated) into your works, though it is five huudred to one, not one in five hundred understands those languages. Well ; but this Olla Podrida—my wife thinks it means a powderivg-tub, in which tongues or hams, beef and pork, are salted and preserved against Christmas; as letters and essays, wise sayings and apophthegms, sprinkled with your Attic salt, are preserved in your miscellany for our winter evenings' amusement. This, however, is my first complaint; “ That I do not know what to make of the title of your work.”
My second subject of complaint is this : my grandson, who is at the university, and is your acquaintance, sent me word that there was a new paper, lately come out, which every body reads; and, as a paper, now-a-days, means a newspaper, I desired him to send it me down; but, what was my disappointment, when I found not a word of news in it! Not a robbery or a murder; not a forgery, a rape, or an elopement; uor, what I more wished for, not a letter or even a paragraph to abuse the ministry; to reprobate the commutatiou-tax or the commercial treaty; nor any prophetic calculation to soothe my fancy; to demonstrate the desperate state of this devoted nation, and prove that we are tottering on the verge of annihilation. This, I say, is the object of my second complaint.
But, thirdly, as your paper reaches us on a Monday morning, I comforted myself, at best, with the hopes of entertaining my wife and daughter with something cheerful and facetious, after a rigid and gloomy observance of the sabbath, in consequence of his majesty's proclamation (for we have now no card-assembly at our house; only half a dozen old ladies who join us at tea, and take a solemn retrospect of every sin and transgression, which their neighbours, not themselves, have been guilty of, the preceding week)—But even in this hope I was frustrated; for I had just put on my spectacles, and read a few lines in your paper, when the excessive poignancy of your wit [Here my modesty obliges me to omit a few words of compliment.]
This, then, is my third, but not my last complaint; for complaining and grumbling is the only comfort I have in this world ; and this, sir, though a very old and trite topic, is the subject of this let. ter. My reasons for troubling you I will beg leave to explain.
My grandson, whom I mentioned, spent a good part of his puerile years under my roof; and has taken it into his head that I am a very learned man, (though I never had a learned education) from a custom I have got of retiring from my family, many hours in the day, to my study, where I was always found, when called to dinner, with a great folio before me; and at the instant any one came to the door, I was just then turning over my leaf; and, as if I were in the midst of my subject, told them I would come immediately, and ordered them to sit down to dinner. This had the air of a profound student and deep meditation; when, perhaps, I was only weighing my guineas, calculating my interest money or my next half year's rent; or, at best, conning over some of the opposition papers