[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,
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,