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certain curious receipt, a noftrum, which, after his untimely death, I found among his papers ; and do here, out of my great affection to the modern learned, present them with it; not doubting, it may one day encourage some worthy undertaker.
You take fair correct copies, well bound in calfskin, and lettered at the back, of all modern bodies of arts and sciences whatsoever, and in what langage you please. These you distil in balneo Mariæ, infufing quintessence of poppy q. f. together with three pints of lethe, to be had from the apothecaries. You cleanse away carefully the fordes and caput mortuum, letting all that is volatile evaporate. You preserve only the first running, which is again to be distilled seventeen times, till what remains will amount to about two drams. This
you keep in a glass vial hermetically sealed, for one and twenty days ; then you begin your catholic treatise, taking every morning fafting, firt making the vial, three drops of this elixir, snufring it sirongly up your nose. It will dilate itself about the brain (where there is any) in fourteen minutes, and you immediately perceive in gour head an infinite number of abstracts, fumnaries, compendiums, extracts, collections, medulla's, excerpta quædam's, florilegia's, and the like, all disposed into great order, and reducible upon paper.
I must needs own, it was by the assistance of this arcanum, that I, though otherwise impar, have adventured upon so daring an attempt; never archieved or undertaken before, but by a cer
tain author, called Homer; in whom, though otherwise a person not without some abilities, and, for an ancient, of a tolerable genius, I have discovered many gross errors, which are not to be forgiven his very ashes, if by chance any of them are left. For whereas we are assured, he designed his work for a complete body * of all knowledge, human, divine, political, and mechanic; it is manifest, he hath wholly neglected some, and been very imperfect in the rest. For, first of all, as eminent a cabalist as his disciples would represent him, his account of the opus magnum is extremely poor and deficient; he seems to have read but very superficially, either Sendivogus, Behmen, or Anthroposophia Theomagica t. He is also quite mistaken about the sphera pyroplastica, a neglect not to be atoned for; and, if the reader will admit so severe a censure, vix crederem aultorem hunc unquam audiviffe ignis vocem. His failings are not less prominent in several parts of the mechanics. For, having read his writings with the utinost application usual among modern wits, I could never yet discover the least direction about the structure of that useful inftrument, a fave-all. For want of which, if the moderns had
* Homerus omnes res humanas poematis complexus eft. Xenoph. in conviv.
† A treatise written about fifty years ago, by a Welsh gentleman of Cambridge. His name, as I remember, was Vaughan; as appears by the answer written to it by the learned Dr Henry Moor. It is a piece of the most unintelligibie fustian, that pere haps was ever published in any language.
not lent their assistance, we might yet have wandered in the dark. But I have still behind a fault, far more notorious to tax this author with ; I mean, his gross ignorance in the common laws of this realm, and in the doctrine, as well as discipline of the church of England *: A defect indeed, for which both he and all the ancients stand most juftly censured by my worthy and ingenious friend, Mr Wotton, Bachelor of Divinity, in his incomparable treatise of ancient and modern learning ; a book never to be fufficiently valued, whether we consider the happy turns and flowings of the author's wit, the great usefulness of his sublime discoveries upon the subject of flies and spittle, or the laborious eloquence of his style. And I cannot forbear doing that author the juftice of my public acknowledgements, for the great helps and liftings I had out of his incomparable piece, while I was penning this treatise.
But, besides these omissions in Homer; already mentioned, the curious reader will also observe feveral defects in that author's writings, for which he is not altogether fo accountable. For whereas every branch of knowledge has received such wonderful acquirements fince his age, especially within these last three years, or thereabouts ; it is almost impossible, he could be so very perfect in modern discoveries, as his advocates pretend, We freely acknowledge him to be the inventor of the compass, of gunpowder, and the circulation of the blood. But I challenge any of his admirers, to shew me in all his writings, a complete account of the spleen. Does he not also leave us wholly to seek in the art of political wagering? What can be more defective and unsatisfactory, than his long differtation upon tea ? And as to his method of salivation without mercury, fo much celebrated of late, it is, to my own knowledge and experience, a thing very little to be relied on.
* Mr. Wotton, (to whom our author never gives any quarter), in his comparison of ancient and modern learning, numbers divinity, law, &c. among those parts of knowledge wherein we excel the ancients,
It was to supply such momentous defects, that I have been prevailed on, after long folicitation, to take pen in hand; and I dare venture to promife, the judicious reader shall find nothing neglected here, that can be of use upon any emergency of life. I am confident to have included and exhausted all that human imagination can rise or fall to. Particularly, I recommend to the perusal of the learned, certain discoveries that are wholly untouched by others; whereof. I shall only mention, among a great many more, My new help for smatterers ; or, The art of being deeplearned, and allow-read :-- A curious invention about mouse-traps :
-An universal rule of reason; or, Every man his own carver ; together with a most useful engine for catching of owls. All which the judicious reader will find largely treated on in the feveral parts of this discourse.
I hold myself obliged to give as much light as is poflible, into the beauties and excellencies of
what I am writing, because it is become the fashion and humour most applauded among the first authors of this polite and learned age, when they would correct the ill-nature of critical, or inform the ignorance of courteous readers. Befides, there have been several famous pieces lately published, both in verse and profe; wherein, if the writers had not been pleased, out of their great humanity and affection to the public, to give us a nice detail of the sublime and the admirable they contain, it is a thousand to one, whether we should ever have discovered one grain of either. For my own particular, I cannot deny, that whatever I have said upon this occasion, had been more proper in a preface, and more agreeable to the mode, which usually directs it thither. But I here think fit to lay hold on that great and honourable privilege of being the last writer ; I claim an absolute authority in right, as the fresvest modern, which gives me a despotic power over all authors before me. In the strength of which title, I do utterly disapprove and declare against that pernicious cuftom, of making the preface a bill of fare to the book. For I have always looked upon it as a high point of indiscretion in monster-mongers, and other retailers of strange Sights, to hang out a fair large picture over the door, drawn after the life, with a most eloquent description underneath. This hath faved me many a three-pence; for my curiosity was fully fatisfied, and I never offered to go in, though