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Chapter 6

  • [A further account of the academy. The author proposes some improvements,
  • which are honourably received.]
  • In the school of political projectors, I was but ill entertained; th_rofessors appearing, in my judgment, wholly out of their senses, which is _cene that never fails to make me melancholy. These unhappy people wer_roposing schemes for persuading monarchs to choose favourites upon the scor_f their wisdom, capacity, and virtue; of teaching ministers to consult th_ublic good; of rewarding merit, great abilities, eminent services; o_nstructing princes to know their true interest, by placing it on the sam_oundation with that of their people; of choosing for employments person_ualified to exercise them, with many other wild, impossible chimeras, tha_ever entered before into the heart of man to conceive; and confirmed in m_he old observation, "that there is nothing so extravagant and irrational,
  • which some philosophers have not maintained for truth."
  • But, however, I shall so far do justice to this part of the Academy, as t_cknowledge that all of them were not so visionary. There was a most ingeniou_octor, who seemed to be perfectly versed in the whole nature and system o_overnment. This illustrious person had very usefully employed his studies, i_inding out effectual remedies for all diseases and corruptions to which th_everal kinds of public administration are subject, by the vices o_nfirmities of those who govern, as well as by the licentiousness of those wh_re to obey. For instance: whereas all writers and reasoners have agreed, tha_here is a strict universal resemblance between the natural and the politica_ody; can there be any thing more evident, than that the health of both mus_e preserved, and the diseases cured, by the same prescriptions? It i_llowed, that senates and great councils are often troubled with redundant,
  • ebullient, and other peccant humours; with many diseases of the head, and mor_f the heart; with strong convulsions, with grievous contractions of th_erves and sinews in both hands, but especially the right; with spleen,
  • flatus, vertigos, and deliriums; with scrofulous tumours, full of feti_urulent matter; with sour frothy ructations: with canine appetites, an_rudeness of digestion, besides many others, needless to mention.
  • This doctor therefore proposed, "that upon the meeting of the senate, certai_hysicians should attend it the three first days of their sitting, and at th_lose of each day's debate feel the pulses of every senator; after which,
  • having maturely considered and consulted upon the nature of the severa_aladies, and the methods of cure, they should on the fourth day return to th_enate house, attended by their apothecaries stored with proper medicines; an_efore the members sat, administer to each of them lenitives, aperitives,
  • abstersives, corrosives, restringents, palliatives, laxatives, cephalalgics,
  • icterics, apophlegmatics, acoustics, as their several cases required; and,
  • according as these medicines should operate, repeat, alter, or omit them, a_he next meeting."
  • This project could not be of any great expense to the public; and might in m_oor opinion, be of much use for the despatch of business, in those countrie_here senates have any share in the legislative power; beget unanimity,
  • shorten debates, open a few mouths which are now closed, and close many mor_hich are now open; curb the petulancy of the young, and correct th_ositiveness of the old; rouse the stupid, and damp the pert.
  • Again because it is a general complaint, that the favourites of princes ar_roubled with short and weak memories; the same doctor proposed, "that whoeve_ttended a first minister, after having told his business, with the utmos_revity and in the plainest words, should, at his departure, give the sai_inister a tweak by the nose, or a kick in the belly, or tread on his corns,
  • or lug him thrice by both ears, or run a pin into his breech; or pinch his ar_lack and blue, to prevent forgetfulness; and at every levee day, repeat th_ame operation, till the business were done, or absolutely refused." H_ikewise directed, "that every senator in the great council of a nation, afte_e had delivered his opinion, and argued in the defence of it, should b_bliged to give his vote directly contrary; because if that were done, th_esult would infallibly terminate in the good of the public."
  • When parties in a state are violent, he offered a wonderful contrivance t_econcile them. The method is this: You take a hundred leaders of each party;
  • you dispose them into couples of such whose heads are nearest of a size; the_et two nice operators saw off the occiput of each couple at the same time, i_uch a manner that the brain may be equally divided. Let the occiputs, thu_ut off, be interchanged, applying each to the head of his opposite party-man.
  • It seems indeed to be a work that requires some exactness, but the professo_ssured us, "that if it were dexterously performed, the cure would b_nfallible." For he argued thus: "that the two half brains being left t_ebate the matter between themselves within the space of one skull, would soo_ome to a good understanding, and produce that moderation, as well a_egularity of thinking, so much to be wished for in the heads of those, wh_magine they come into the world only to watch and govern its motion: and a_o the difference of brains, in quantity or quality, among those who ar_irectors in faction, the doctor assured us, from his own knowledge, that "i_as a perfect trifle."
  • I heard a very warm debate between two professors, about the most commodiou_nd effectual ways and means of raising money, without grieving the subject.
  • The first affirmed, "the justest method would be, to lay a certain tax upo_ices and folly; and the sum fixed upon every man to be rated, after th_airest manner, by a jury of his neighbours." The second was of an opinio_irectly contrary; "to tax those qualities of body and mind, for which me_hiefly value themselves; the rate to be more or less, according to th_egrees of excelling; the decision whereof should be left entirely to thei_wn breast." The highest tax was upon men who are the greatest favourites o_he other sex, and the assessments, according to the number and nature of th_avours they have received; for which, they are allowed to be their ow_ouchers. Wit, valour, and politeness, were likewise proposed to be largel_axed, and collected in the same manner, by every person's giving his own wor_or the quantum of what he possessed. But as to honour, justice, wisdom, an_earning, they should not be taxed at all; because they are qualifications o_o singular a kind, that no man will either allow them in his neighbour o_alue them in himself.
  • The women were proposed to be taxed according to their beauty and skill i_ressing, wherein they had the same privilege with the men, to be determine_y their own judgment. But constancy, chastity, good sense, and good nature,
  • were not rated, because they would not bear the charge of collecting.
  • To keep senators in the interest of the crown, it was proposed that th_embers should raffle for employment; every man first taking an oath, an_iving security, that he would vote for the court, whether he won or not;
  • after which, the losers had, in their turn, the liberty of raffling upon th_ext vacancy. Thus, hope and expectation would be kept alive; none woul_omplain of broken promises, but impute their disappointments wholly t_ortune, whose shoulders are broader and stronger than those of a ministry.
  • Another professor showed me a large paper of instructions for discoverin_lots and conspiracies against the government. He advised great statesmen t_xamine into the diet of all suspected persons; their times of eating; upo_hich side they lay in bed; with which hand they wipe their posteriors; take _trict view of their excrements, and, from the colour, the odour, the taste,
  • the consistence, the crudeness or maturity of digestion, form a judgment o_heir thoughts and designs; because men are never so serious, thoughtful, an_ntent, as when they are at stool, which he found by frequent experiment; for,
  • in such conjunctures, when he used, merely as a trial, to consider which wa_he best way of murdering the king, his ordure would have a tincture of green;
  • but quite different, when he thought only of raising an insurrection, o_urning the metropolis.
  • The whole discourse was written with great acuteness, containing man_bservations, both curious and useful for politicians; but, as I conceived,
  • not altogether complete. This I ventured to tell the author, and offered, i_e pleased, to supply him with some additions. He received my proposition wit_ore compliance than is usual among writers, especially those of th_rojecting species, professing "he would be glad to receive furthe_nformation."
  • I told him, "that in the kingdom of Tribnia, (3) by the natives calle_angdon, (4) where I had sojourned some time in my travels, the bulk of th_eople consist in a manner wholly of discoverers, witnesses, informers,
  • accusers, prosecutors, evidences, swearers, together with their severa_ubservient and subaltern instruments, all under the colours, the conduct, an_he pay of ministers of state, and their deputies. The plots, in that kingdom,
  • are usually the workmanship of those persons who desire to raise their ow_haracters of profound politicians; to restore new vigour to a craz_dministration; to stifle or divert general discontents; to fill their coffer_ith forfeitures; and raise, or sink the opinion of public credit, as eithe_hall best answer their private advantage. It is first agreed and settle_mong them, what suspected persons shall be accused of a plot; then, effectua_are is taken to secure all their letters and papers, and put the owners i_hains. These papers are delivered to a set of artists, very dexterous i_inding out the mysterious meanings of words, syllables, and letters: fo_nstance, they can discover a close stool, to signify a privy council; a floc_f geese, a senate; a lame dog, an invader; the plague, a standing army; _uzzard, a prime minister; the gout, a high priest; a gibbet, a secretary o_tate; a chamber pot, a committee of grandees; a sieve, a court lady; a broom,
  • a revolution; a mouse-trap, an employment; a bottomless pit, a treasury; _ink, a court; a cap and bells, a favourite; a broken reed, a court o_ustice; an empty tun, a general; a running sore, the administration. (5)
  • "When this method fails, they have two others more effectual, which th_earned among them call acrostics and anagrams. First, they can decipher al_nitial letters into political meanings. Thus N, shall signify a plot; B, _egiment of horse; L, a fleet at sea; or, secondly, by transposing the letter_f the alphabet in any suspected paper, they can lay open the deepest design_f a discontented party. So, for example, if I should say, in a letter to _riend, 'Our brother Tom has just got the piles,' a skilful decipherer woul_iscover, that the same letters which compose that sentence, may be analyse_nto the following words, 'Resist—, a plot is brought home—The tour.' And thi_s the anagrammatic method."
  • The professor made me great acknowledgments for communicating thes_bservations, and promised to make honourable mention of me in his treatise.
  • I saw nothing in this country that could invite me to a longer continuance,
  • and began to think of returning home to England.