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I think was his name) who appeared daily in the Mall, dressed in black, with a hat of an enormous diameter, and a long roll of paper in his hand. His picturesque appearance tempted some artists to make an etching of him, which was exhibited in every shop. I mention this gentleman, because his professed intention was, he said, “ to attract the notice of the king, as he had done that of his subjects.”
But we see daily instances of the same kind. One man sports a paradoxical walking-stick; another rises to fame by the shortness of his coat or the length of his trowsers, or the multiplicity of capes on his shoulders, and the like efforts of genius and invention. I remember a young divine some years ago, not otherwise eminent either for learning or ingenuity, who wore his own short hair, when every one else wore long wigs, “ in imitation,” as he said, of Gregory Naziangen.
It would be cruel to deprive these gentlemen of their slender gratification in these harmless particulars; but when we assume any thing peculiar in our appearance, in order to disguise our real character; when we affect an uncommon sanctity and solemnity of countenance to impose upon the world; we then become more than ridiculous, and are highly immoral.
A Tartuffe indeed, or a pretender to extraordinary devotion, is not a prevailing character in this age; too many are in the contrary extreme; and, like colonel Chartres, are guilty of every human vice except hyprocrisy. Even our young divines, though doubtless much given to fasting and prayer in private, yet “appear not to men to fast;" but anoint their hair, and exhibit their rosy faces; and, by their dress, are not to be distinguished from profane sportsmen or country squires. I do not exempt the orators of the tabernacle from this description; who, instead of the primitive locks of John Wesley, seem now to make female converts by their well dressed hair and dapper appearance.
Yet in every profession, there are still pretenders; who, by grimace or affected solemnity, endeavour to gain the confidence of the vulgar; and to exalt themselves above their equals in skill, and assume more importance than is their due.
However, if we must distinguish ourselves from the rest of mankind, let it be by our intrinsic virtue, our temperance and sobriety, and a conscientious regard to every relative duty; but as we ought “ to think with the wise and talk with the vulgar,” let us also act differently from a great part of the world with matters of importance but conform to them in trifles. This is what Seneca so forcibly inculcates in his fifth Epistle to his friend Lucilius.
“I both approve of your conduct, and sincerely rejoice that you resolutely exert yourself; and laying aside every other pursuit, make it your whole study to improve yourself in wisdom and virtue. And I not only exhort but earnestly entreat you to persevere in this co
course. “Give me leave, however, to caution you not to imitate those pretended philosophers, who are more solicitous to attract the notice of the world than make a progress in wisdom; nor to affect any thing singular in your dress, or in your manner of life. Avoid that preposterous ambition of gaining applause by your uncouth appearance, your hair uncombed, and your beard neglected; nor be always declaiming against the use of plate, of soft beds, or any thing of that kind. The very name of the philosopher is sufficiently invidious, though managed with the greatest modesty and discretion.
Suppose we have entered upon our stoical plan and begun to sequester ourselves from the conversation and customs of the vulgar;
let every thing within be dissimilar; but let our outward appearance be conformable to the rest of the world. Let not our apparel be splendid or showy, nor yet mean or sordid. Let not our plate be embossed with gold; but let us not imagine that the mere want of such expensive plate is a sufficient proof of our frugality. Let us endeavour to live a better life, not merely a life contrary to that of the vulgar; otherwise, instead of conciliating the favour of those whom we wish to reform, we shall excite their aversion, and drive them from our company; we shall also deter them from imitating us in any thing, when they are afraid that they are to imitate us in every thing.
“ The first advantages which philosophy promises are, a just sense of the common rights of mankind, humanity, and a sociable disposition; from which advantages singularity and dissimilar manners will entirely seclude us. Let us beware lest those peculiari. ties, by which we hope to excite the admiration, should expose us to the ridicule and aversion of mankind.
“ Our object is to live according to nature; but to torture our bodies, to abhor cleanliness in our persons, when attended with no trouble, or to affect a cynical filthiness in our food; this sure is living contrary to nature. As it is a mark of luxury to hunt after
delicacies, to reject the common unexpensive comforts of life is a degree of madness. Our stoic philosophy requires us to be frugal, not to mortify ourselves; but there is such a thing as an elegant frugality. This moderation is what I would recommend.”
THOUGHTS ON QUACKS OF ALL DENOMINATIONS.
By M. Voltaire.
PHYSICIANS live in great cities; there are few of them in the country, The reason of this is obvious. In great cities there are rich patients; and among these, debauchery, the pleasures of the table, and the gratification of the passions, give rise to a variety of diseases. Dumoulin, not the lawyer, but the physician, who was a no less famous practitioner, observed at his death, “ That he left behind him two great physicians-regimen, and river water."
In 1728, one Villars told his friends in confidence, that his uncle, who had lived almost an hundred years, and who died only by accident, had left him a certain preparation, which had the virtue to prolong a man's life to an hundred and fifty years, if he lived with sobriety. When he happened to observe the procession of a funeral, he shrugged up his shoulders in pity: if the deceased, said he, had taken my medicine, he would not be where he is. His friends, among whom he distributed it generously, observing the condition required, found its utility, and extolled it. He was thence encouraged to sell it at a crown the bottle; and the sale was prodigious. It was no more than the water of the Seine, mixed with a little nitre. Those who made use of it, and were attentive, at the same time, to regimen, or who were happy in good constitutions, soon recovered their usual health. To others, he observed, “ It is your own fault if you be not perfectly cured; you have been intemperate and incontinent; renounce these vices, and, believe me, you will live at least an hundred and fifty years.” Some of them took his advice; and his wealth grew with his reputation. The abbe Pons extolled this quack, and gave him the preference to the Marischal de Villars: “ the latter," said he, “ kills men; the former prolongs their existence.”
At length it was discovered that Villar's medicine was composed chiefly of river water. His practice was now at an end. Men had recourse to other quacks.
Villars was certainly of no disservice to his patients, and can only be reproached with selling the water of the Seine at too high a price. He excited men to temperance, and in this respect was infinitely superior to the apothecary Arnoup, who filled Europe with his nostrums for the apoplexy, without recommending the practice of any one virtue.
I knew at London a physician, of the name of Brown, who had practised at Barbadoes. He had a sugar-work and negroes; and having been robbed of a considerable sum, he called together his slaves. “My friends,” said he, “the great serpent appeared to me during the night, and told me, that the person who stole my money should at this instant have a parrot's feather at the point of his nose.” The thief immediately put his hand to his nose. “ It is you,” cried the master, “ that robbed me; the great serpent has just now told me so.” By this method the physician recovered his money. This piece of quackery is not to be condemned; but, in order to practise it, one must have to do with negroes.
Scipio, the first Africanus, a man in other respects so different from Dr. Brown, persuaded his soldiers that he was directed and inspired by the gods. This piece of fraud had been long and successfully practised. Can we blame Scipio for having recourse to it? There is not, perhaps, a person who does greater honour to the Roman republic; but how came it, let me ask, that the gods inspired him not to give in his accounts?
Numa acted better. He had a band of robbers to civilize, and a senate that constituted the most intractable part of them. Had he proposed his laws to the assembled tribes, he would have met with a thousand difficulties from the assassins of his predecessor. He adopted a different method. He addressed himself to the goddess Egeria, who gave him a code, sanctified with divine authority. What was the consequence? He was submitted to without opposition, and reigned happily. His intentions were admirable, and his quackery had in view the public good; but if one of his enemies had disclosed his artifice, and said, “let us punish an impostor, who prostitutes the name of the gods to deceive mankind,” he would have undergone the fate of Romulus.
It is probable that Numa concerted his measures with great prudence, and deceived the Romans with a view to their advantage, with an address, suited to the time, the place, and the genius of that people.
Mahomet was twenty times on the point of miscarrying; but, at length, he succeeded with the inhabitants of Medina, and was believed to be the intimate friend of the angel Gabriel. At present, should any one announce himself at Constantinople to be the fa. vourite of the angel Raphael, who is superior in dignity to Gabriel, and insist that they must believe in him alone, he would be impaled alive. Quacks should know how to time their impostures.
Was there not somewhat of deceit in Socrates, with his familiar demon, and the precise declaration of the oracle, which proclaimed him the wisest of men?-It is ridiculous in Rollin to insist, in his history, on the sincerity of this oracle. Why does he not inform his readers, that it was purely a piece of quackery? Socrates was unfortunate as to the time of his appearance. An hundred years sooner he might have governed Athens.
The leaders of philosophical sects have all of them been tinctured with quackery. But the greatest of all quacks are those who have aspired to power. How formidable a quack was Cromwell! He appeared precisely at the time when he could have succeeded. Under Elizabeth he would have been hanged; under Charles the Second he would have been an object of ridicule. He came at a period when the English were disgusted with kings; and his son, at a time when they were disgusted with protectors.
ANECDOTE OF YATES, THE COMEDIAN. The day before his decease, Mr. Yates complained to a friend that he had been extremely ill used by the managers of Drurylane theatre refusing him an order!—“ That was unkind, indeed, to an old servant,” rejoined the friend. “ Yes," replied the dying comedian, “particularly when my admission could have kept no soul living out of the house; for I only requested their order to be buried under the center of the stage, and they were hard-hearted enough to refuse me.”
STAMMERING, A gentleman conceiving himself in possession of great theatrical genius and abilities, chose the part of Richmond, in Shakspeare's tragedy of Richard the Third, for his debut. From a natural defect in his utterance, the delivery of his first line produced an effect