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profess to teach the true pronunciation of the English tongue.
It is not so very far removed, but that some of my readers must recollect the time, when the noble art of boring was, by the ever-memorable FIGG and BROUGHTON, reduced to a complete and perfect system; and the nobility and gentry were taught theoretically, as well as practically, to bruise the bodies, and (to use a technical term) darken the daylights of each other, with the vigour of a Hercules, tempered with the grace of an Apollo. And it is but a little time, since a celebrated foreigner actụally. instructed some persons, of no inconsiderable rank, of both sexes, in the art of eating soup with ease and dexterity (though in my humble opinion, few people could need a preceptor to shew them the way to their mouths).—Of much more utility, and surely not less successful, would be the plan I recommend.-Many there were, who, from tenderness of age, or delicacy of constitution, were precluded from the diversion of boring: to many the science of soup-eating was useless and impracticable,-merely from having none to eat ;—but all have their oaths in their own power, and of them, neither emptiness of pocket, nor corporeal or mental imbecility, prevents the free and uncontrolled use; and almost every body, however niggardly he may be in parting with any other of his possessions, scatters these with the most liberal profusion.
Thus then, if fostered by the hand of a skilful linguist, this science might perhaps in time come nearer than any other to realize the extravagant idea of the ingenious but romantic Bishop Wilkins, of a universal language. At present indeed there are some slight inconveniences attending the project, among which no small one is, that according to their present general usage, oaths, like Yorick's French Friseur, by expressing too much, generally mean
nothing; insomuch that I now make it a rule to lessen my belief to every assertion, in proportion to the number of needless corroborative oaths by which it is supported, Nor am I indeed unreasonable in this; and in most cases how can I do otherwise ? Is it in human nature to suppose, that when one of my friends declares his joy at seeing me, and his kind concern for my health, by intimating a hearty wish of my eternal perdition, that he really means what he says?
It has been observed by some ancient philosopher, or poet, or moralist (no matter which), that nothing could be more pernicious to mankind, than the fulfilling of their own wishes. And in truth I am inclined to be of his opinion; for many a friend of mine, many a fellow-citizen of this lesser world, would, had his own heedless imprecations on himself taken effect, long ere this have groaned under the complication of almost every calamity capable of entering a human imagination. And with regard to the world at large, were this to be the case, I doubt whether there would be at this present time a leg or limb of any kind whole in his Majesty's service. So habitual indeed was this custom become to an officer of my acquaintance, that though he had lost one of his eyes in the defence of his country, he could not forego his favourite execration, but still used to vent his curses on them both, with the same ease and indifference as when they were both in his possession: so blind was he rendered to his own defects, by the continued practice of this amusement. For in no other light than as an amusement or a polite accomplishment can it be considered by those who practise it. Did they consider it as a vice, they could not I am sure persevere in the indulgence of one, which has not even the common excuse, of having for its aim the pursuit of pleasure, or the gratification of a darling appetite. I cannot believe they would so disinterestedly damn themselves, and vent in public company such imprecations, as in darkness and solitude they would tremble to conceive.
As an accomplishment therefore, and as an agreeable indication of youthful gaiety, it must no doubt be considered ;--and should any one take the hint here offered him, and commence instructor in this noble science, I need not, I believe, caution him against being an Englishman; or (should he have the misfortune to be born in this country) remind him of the easy transformation of our commonest homespun names, into the more fashionable French, or more musical Italian; as for instance, that of Peters into Pedro, Nicholls into Nicolini, or Gerard into Giradot, and so on.-Having thus un-Englished himself, let him get his advertisement drawn up in the Grahamic style, if not by the doctor himself, professing, that
Having added to the early advantages of a Billingsgate education, the deepest researches, and most indefatigable industry, &c. &c. he now stands forth as an apt and accomplished teacher of the neverto-be-sufficiently extolled, the all-expressive, allcomprehensive, &c. &c. Art of Swearing. Ladies and Gentlemen instructed in the most fashionable and elegant oaths: the most peculiarly adapted to their several ages, manners, and professions, &c. &c. He has now ready for the press, a book entitled, The Complete Oath Register; or, Every Man his own Swearer, containing oaths and imprecations for all times, seasons, purposes, and occasions. Also, Sentimental Oaths for the Ladies. Likewise Execrations for the year 1786.
Let him, I say, do this, and he may, I believe, assure himself of no little encouragement among the world at large; though far be it from me to presume to promise him any extraordinary countenance in that smaller circle which comes more immediately under the inspection of the MicROCOSMOPOLITAN.
NOTES TO CORRESPONDENTS. TRANSLATICUS's request should have been immediately attended to, had not this number been previously sent to the press.- It is not in my power to insert the favour of my 'never failing admirer, OBADIAH MEANWELL, as the subject has been before treated of, and his allusions are too local.
N° 3. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1786..
Cessare, et ludere, et ungi.-Hor.
To lounge, and loiter, and perfume. · DEAR GREG. *Your Mic. is dead lounge,--dissipates insufferable ennui of tea-table,-fills boring interyals of conversazione,-exquisite substitute for switch,-and in short quite the ton :-By the by, in your next propose some new lounge.-They are all so dingle at present, they are quite a bore.-Lud, how much I have written !-- You charming creature, hint some new lounge.
NARCISSUS.' Narcissus's billet-doux has led me into some reflections on the tenets of those philosophers (for I would not speak of so large a portion of our lesser world's inhabitants by a less respectable title), who profess in its different branches the doctrine of apathy..
We find, that the walking and sitting disputants into which the beards of Greece were divided, originated indeed from one root: but afterward branched into such innumerable little sprays, and so intersected each other, as not only to prevent all possibility of fruit, but when agitated by the least wind of contention, to fall together with a dry, offensive sort of creaking, of that kind which Virgil describes by the Aridus Fragor. Sensible that these disagreeable effects proceeded from a ridiculous notion which each metaphysical innovator entertained of improving on the doctrines of his predecessors (men much older, and in course much wiser, than himself), the founder of the sect of Apathists has condescended to borrow this opinion from the great Grecian Master, that the end of knowledge is to be certified that we know nothing. Upon this tenet he logically and ingeniously builds an argument, which tends to support his main principle, viz. The summit of knowing is to know that knowledge is a non-entity. The idea of total ignorance cannot but be grating to the pride of a human creature; Ergo, should we not at once embrace a doctrine which saves us this reflection, by teaching us to believe that we know a great deal ? Now this belief is the invariable characteristic of an Apathist; for an attempt at improvement would be in him, what an acknowledgment of conviction would formerly have been considered in the Stoic.
Not however entirely to preclude the idea of study, and at the same time to point out to his followers such a kind of pursuit as should neither impair the delicacy of their external texture, or interrupt their flow of animal spirits by head-aches, vapours, and other nervous disorders (the inseparable companions of intense application), this great founder has adopted the pithy precept of a brother legislator, and enjoins his followers to know themselves.