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Joseph Reed, A Sop in the Pan for a Physical Critick
130 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE
Here I shall drop the Antagonist, a few Moments, to ask your Advice, as a Friend:
Few have dealt more LARGELY in the Press than yourself, and consequently few are
more able to advise me than yourself, in such an Undertaking. Don’t you think, that a
History of this Importance, written in a correct and elegant Style, and adorn’d with
upwards of a hundred CUTS of the most remarkable Scolds, Oyster-Boats, Cod-Smacks,
&c. engraved by your Dutch Artist, would turn out a pretty profitable Undertaking? I
am almost convinced you do; and by way of giving you, and my most worthy Friend,
the Public, a Specimen of my literary Abilities, I shall here annex a short Extract from
my said intended History.
In this remarkable Year (1756) this renouned Academy, which, in the Space of a
few Years, had produced a greater Number of Orators than all the Schools of
Greece and Rome; like other Seminaries of British Learning, began to be on the
Decline: for, such is the Vicissitude of sublunary Things, that Oratory, as well as
Empire, is subject to Mutability. The Cause of this unhappy Declension in our
Academy, is variously accounted for. Some ascribe it wholly to the Number of
Charity-Schools, in and about this Metropolis, which have, of late, so greatly
contributed, to civilize the lower Orders of Mankind: Others to the Growth of
Methodism; while a different Party, with greater Plausibility indeed, impute it to
the Dearness and Scarcity of Gin; which is universally allow’d to be a most
powerful Inspirer of Vociferation. That all these Opinions were merely conjectural,
will evidently appear from the following Incident, which is too well authenticated to
be disprov’d, or even disbeliev’d.
In the close of the Year 1755, a certain Caledonian Quack, by the Curtesy of
England, call’d a Doctor of Physick, whose real, or assum’d Name was
FERDINANDO MAC FATHOMLESS, form’d a Project for initiating and
perfecting the Male-Inhabitants of this Island, in the Use and Management of the
linguary Weapon, by the Erection of a Scolding Amphitheatre. For this Purpose, he
selected, and engag’d, on weekly Salary, about a Dozen of the most eminent
Professors of Vociferation in this Academy: but, after he had been at a
considerable Expence, the unfortunate Emperic could not get his Project licenc’d.
The Doctor was greatly mortified at his unexpected Disappointment, but being
resolved that his own, and the Sisterhood’s Talents should not be lost to the World,
he set about publishing a periodical Work, called the Hyper-Critical Review, in which the
Billinsgate Oratory is so much exhausted, that, to this Incident only, can be justly
imputed the visible Decay of Vociferation in this Academy. The fair Orators of
TOBIAS SMOLLETT 131
Billinsgate are now almost as silent, as the Fishes they dispose off: Wit, Repartee
and Politeness have taken up their Residence in Chancery-Lane!
However absurd or offensive the Doctor’s Project might appear, it would
scarce have fail’d of being advantageous to the Community, had it luckily pass’d
into Execution. It would have greatly diminished the Clamour of Scolding Wives,
and thereby contributed to the domestic Tranquility, nay, probably to the
Preservation, of the Lives of many of his Majesty’s liege Subjects. Poisons are
expell’d by Poisons: a Diarrhoea is generally carried off by a Dose of Physic; and,
by a Parity of Reason, Scolding may be most effectually cured by Scolding: for a
Woman’s Tongue, like a Jack Bowl, is observ’d to run the longest, when it
meets with the fewest Rubs.
An Institution of this Kind would have likewise been serviceable to many
Classes and Degrees of Men among us; particularly to those young Gentlemen,
that are design’d for the long Robe. A constant Attendance, for two or three
Months, at the Scolding Amphitheatre, would have been as compleat a Qualification
for the Bar, as a dozen Years Attendance at some of our Courts of Judicature:
for, whoever hath carefully observ’d the Method of our Law-Proceedings, must
allow, that he is generally esteemed the most learned and successful Council,
who is the greatest Scold.
This short Extract will, I am persuaded, convince you, that I am as well qualified for
an Historian, as yourself.
Some Persons, to whom I have shewn this Part of my History, were ready to treat
the Fact above-related, as fictitious, till I prevailed on them to read the said Review: but
they are now, to a Man, convinc’d of its Truth. Every judicious Reader must be of the
same Opinion, if he will be at the pains to peruse that periodical Work: For it is evident,
even to Demonstration itself, that none but an Assemblage of Fish-women, would throw
out such a Heap of Dirt and Scurrility, as flows down the Channel of that Production.
If you have any Acquaintance with this physical Countryman of yours, it would not
be amiss to desire him, at the Conclusion of his next Volume, to publish the following
Erratum, viz. In the Title Page of our preceding Volumes, for BY A SOCIETY OF
GENTLEMEN, read BY A SOCIETY OF OLD WOMEN. It may indeed appear a kind
of Solecism, as the said physical Projector is at the Head of the learned Sisterhood; but
whoever will carefully examine his Abilities, as a Critic, must soon he convinc’d that the
Critic-Doctor, is as meer an old Woman, as ever wore Petticoats.
Having given you thus much by way of Preface. I shall proceed to examine your
elaborate Criticism on my Mock-Tragedy.
In your Critical Review for August last, you say, ‘Parody or Burlesque, tho’ ever so
well executed, have very little Merit in them; because the highest Degree of
Perfection, which they are capable of attaining to, may be acquir’d by a very moderate
132 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE
To this Proposition I have but one Objection, namely that it is not true. I could
mention a Variety of Pieces of the Burlesque kind, written by Butler, Pope, Swift, Gay, and
Others, which have done great Honour to the English Language; but shall confine
myself to one, viz. The Tragedy of Tom Thumb the Great.
Was this Piece (which is not the best I have seen) written by a Man of a very moderate
Capacity? I answer, No; and the Person, who will publickly assert, that the ingenious
Fielding, was a Man of a very moderate Capacity, must certainly incur the Censure of being
a Fool or a Knave.
I know but one Proof of this remarkable Proposition of yours, I mean the Regicide;
which incomparable Production, is the greatest Burlesque on Nature, that I ever had
the Pleasure of perusing, and may with great Propriety be said, to have been written by
a Man of even SCARCE a very moderate Capacity. I have, indeed, met with some
quibbling Critics, who will not allow the Regicide to be a Burlesque Poem, and have even
gone so far as to assert, that the Author design’d it for a serious Tragedy: this I must
own I cannot assent to; for if the Doctor intended the Performance for a serious
ProductionI cannot help thinking him one of the most impudent, self-sufficient
Scriblers, that ever defiled Paper, and that he deserves to be flogg’d, like a sawcy
School-Boy, before the respective Doors of his several Subscribers, for his Impudence,
in solliciting the Favour of the Public in so extraordinary a manner.
You proceed by telling us, ‘The most necessary Requisite, in a Performance of this
Nature, is indeed a good Memory; which the Author of the Piece before us, seems happily
possess’d off; as there is scarce a Passage, in any of what the theatrical World calls StockPlays, which is not introduced.’
By the Phrase happily possessed off, you certainly, against your Will, pay me a kind of
Compliment: for unless, you imagine my Piece to have some Merit, you cannot with
Propriety suppose me to be happy in the Possession of a good Memory.
Had you honestly examined my Tragedy, you would have found that my intended
Ridicule is so far from being confin’d to Stock-Plays, that the major Part of the borrowed
Passages are taken from plays, that, Meteor-like, have blaz’d a while, and then sunk
into Oblivion: nay, some of them from a Play, that was never exhibited at all; witness
your Regicide: Which I apprehend, your Book-seller, to his Cost, finds to be a Stock-Play
indeed, rotting in his Warehouse and destin’d for waste Paper.
In short, Doctor, my Design, throughout the whole Performance, was to expose the
Buckram of the modem dramatic Diction; which hath been us’d, as a kind of Poetical FigLeaves, to cover the Nakedness of Sentiment. This will account for the seeming Freedoms
I have taken with the venerable Shakespear: The Materials I had borrowed from the
Moderns, were so dull, heavy, and spiritless, that I was under a Necessity of calling in
Shakespear, and Others of established Merit, to enliven and qualify the Flatness of the
many Passages I had borrowed from Authors of a later Date.—But to go on with your
TOBIAS SMOLLETT 133
You say, ‘All the Humour lies in the Application of them to Taylors, Coblers, &c.,
who compose the Dramatis Personae.’ For once, my learned Emperic, you are in the right;
and pray, where is the mighty Absurdity in all this? If you intend this Remark as a Sneer,
you have miss’d your Aim; for half the Ridicule in Hudibras and the Beggar’s Opera
(which I presume you allow to be Burlesque Productions) would be lost, if the Authors
had not plac’d the Agents, in these Pieces, in the lowest Life.
You proceed, ‘We shall extract one Scene, which we believe our Readers will be as
well, if not better, contented with, than the whole Tragedy:’ and accordingly you
quote the Second Scene in the third Act. I must here do you the Honour of acknowledging
that you have been Conjurer enough, to pick out the dullest Scene in the whole Play: I
pronounce it the dullest, on account of the Quantity of philosophical Matter, and the
Number of Bombastic Expressions contained in it; and render’d still more dull to your
Readers, by your Omission of the Notes for its Illustration in the Original. But tho’ you
might have private Reasons for such a disingenuous Extract. I shall here supply the
Deficiency, and leave the Quotation, (at my own Risque) to the Masters in Criticism,
to judge of the Injustice of your degrading Characteristic.
Buck. My Ears deceive me or I heard the Voice
Of dear STRAPADA once; but now alas!
No more my Friend—’ tis he—avenging Steel!
(Puts up his Bodkin.)
Rest here unseen—his lab’ring Mind is lock’d
In Contemplation’s closest Cell—I’ll try
To rouse him from this Trance of Thought—what ho!
Strap Ha! —BUCKRAMO! —Thou wast once
My trustiest Friend: in my Heart’s Core I wore thee;
Ay, in my Heart of Heartsa
Buc. Ammonian JOVE!b
And all ye Gods and Goddesses; peruse
The Folio of my past and present Thoughts
Peruse it Page by Page; or, in the Way
Of modern Connoissieurs videlicet,
Run o’er Contents and Index—if you find
A Wish, unless to have TRULLETTA mine,
Preferr’d to good STRAPADA’S dearest Friendship,
Hurl my thrice-thankless Spirit vengeful down
134 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE
Into th’ infernal pitchy Lake, prepar’d
For negro-foul’d Ingratitude.
Strap. By SATURN!c
His Mother’s in his Face——the dear SCOURELLA——
It is too much to bear—spite of my, Vow
must, I must relent—there is a way
To reinstate thee in my Love: be virtuous.
The Friends of Virtue are STRAPADA’S Friends:
—Forgo the black Design on MADRIGAL,
And be as dear as ever—what incites thee
To seek his Blood?
Buck. He robs me of my Mistress;
And, in return, I rob him of his Life
The Robber rob and Robbery grows Virtue.e
Strap. The Subtlety of Schools may paint this Maxim;
The Schools, where learned Error stalks abroadf
With such gigantick Strides, in Wisdom’s Garb;
But Truth, and sound Philosophy, disclaim
The paultry Dawbing—know, blood-thirsty Youth!
Know, thou Death’s Orator! dread Advocateg
For bowelless Severity! Forgiveness
Is greater, wiser, manlier Bravery
Than wild Revenge.
Buck. Ha! whither wouldst thou lead me!
Strap. To Virtue; to Forgiveness—talk no more
Of fell Revenge.
Buck. Not talk of it, STRAPADA?
I’ll talk of it tho’ Hell itself should gapeh
And bid me hold my Peace—not talk of it?
Not of Revenge? the Attribute of th’ Gods,i
Who stamp’d it on our Natures to impell
Mankind to noblest Darings.
Strap. Rather call it
The Attribute of Devils, stamp’d on Man,
To draw deluded Mortals to Destruction.
Buck. No more, no more—tempt me no more in vain:j—
My Soul is wrought to the sublimest Ragek
Of horrible Revenge.
Strap. And thou art fix’d
On bloody Purpose?
Buck. Fix’d, as Cambrian Mountain
TOBIAS SMOLLETT 135
On its own Base, or gaming Lords on Ruinl
Strap. Then all my flattering Hopes of the Reclaim
Are lost, and my shock’d Soul akes at thee—m yet
Attend my last Request—defer thy Purpose,
Till the cold Earth, in her parental Bosom,
Receive the venerable Master’s Corse.
E’er long the sad Procession will begin:
Then do not with unallow’d Broil prophane The dread Solemnity of funeral Rites:
But lend thy kind Assistance to support Thy sorrowing Mistress thro’ the mournful
Scene. This thou wilt promise?
Buke. By yon Silver Lamp,n Which stringless hangs, or hangs by String unseen In azure
Firmament, I will!
Strap. Till then farewel!”
After the Quotation of this Scene, you begin to wind up your Criticism, and thus
definitively to pass Sentence on my poor injur’d Performance, viz. ‘This is sufficient to
give our Readers a proper Idea of this Piece, which the Author has contriv’d to stretch
into five Acts; a melancholly Circumstance for the poor Audience, who, we doubt not,
were heartily sick of the Performance before the Conclusion of it; for tho’ we may here
and there meet with something laughable, it must have been a dismal three Hours
Here endeth the the Criticism of the learned and sagacious Doctor T—— SM LL
T, which, considering the Malevolence of his Disposition, and current Pay from the
Bookseller, join’d to his known inclination to degrade all Writings, but his own, or
those he is interested in commending, contains not altogether so much Severity, as might
naturally be expected from a Man, who will at any time sacrifice Truth and Sincerity to
gratify his Spleen and Illnature.
That your sentence may not hang too heavy on my Tragedy, I beg leave to throw out
a few Observations on the Injustice of it.
You have certainly acted unfairly in not annexing the NOTES, to shew how largely I
had borrow’d, and what Passages were designed to be ridicul’d in the Scene, you have
quoted. From which Omission your Readers might naturally conclude that all the
Buckram and Bombast, therein contained were my own. The Reason of such Omission is
plain. Had you annexed the NOTES; the foregoing unintelligible Rant in your
REGICIDE must have been exposed to ridicule. In short, Doctor! as you have stifled the
Evidence on one Side, every unprejudiced Reader must pronounce your Sentence
partial, extra-judicial and illegal.
Your Remark on the Author’s Contrivance to stretch the Piece into five Acts, which
you, in a sort of critical Jargon, call a melancholly Circumstance for the poor Audience, I
136 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE
know not whether to impute to Ignorance or Illnature. If, you had been acquainted
with the usual Length of an English Tragedy, you might have known that my five Acts are
not quite so long, as three in most of our Stock-Plays, even as they are curtailed in the
Representation. My Division of the Matter into five Acts was a Means of rendering the
Production more burlesque, as it was a more exact Model of English Tragedy.
I must necessarily acknowledge that the Play was a dismal Entertainment, without
ascribing any Defect to the Piece. As the Father of English Tragedy expresses it, It was
Caviar to the Multitude, and more adapted to the Closet, than the Stage.
That the Play was most inhumanly butcher’d in the Representation, none will deny;
for if even so compleat a Collection of theatrical Wretches was, in any one Play, brought
upon the Stage of a Theatre-Royal, I will venture to renounce all Pretensions to
Common-Sense. But, notwithstanding the Disadvantage of its Representation, the Play
was sav’d; a Circumstance so contrary to my Expectation, that I gave it up for damn’d
before the Conclusion of the first Act. If your REGICIDE had been so situated, I am
convinced that all its Elegance, Nature, and Simplicity, would not have carried it
through the second Act.
Whatever may be your real Sentiments of my Performance, I am not ashamed of
espousing the Opinion of some known Judges in dramatic Literature, viz. ‘If the MOCK
TRAGEDY had been got up at Drury-Lane, with a GARRICK in MADRIGAL and a
CLIVE in TRULLETTA, there are few Pieces in the English Language, capable of
affording a more entertaining Exhibition.’1
You see, Doctor! I have run over your Criticism with as much Brevity (and let me
add, Good-nature) as possible. I shall now lay before the Public the Sentence of another
Critical Court of Judicature on my Performance, to shew that even Criticks themselves may
differ in Opinion in Matters of Criticism.
‘Mr REED, it seems, is a Tradesman, a Rope-maker. This Circumstance does him
Credit as an Author; as many, who are Writers by Profession, are, beyond all
Comparison, inferior to him in Merit. He seems to have read the Productions of the
British Theatre with good Taste; and he has here so humourously parodied, and applied,
a Variety of bombastic Passages, in the Writings of some of our most eminent Authors,
that it is impossible to peruse his comic Scenes, without sharing in the Diversion, which
this facetious Performance must have afforded its merry Author in the Writing.’
MONTHLY REVIEW for September 1758.
I shall not be at all surprized, if you should throw out some illnatur’d Innuendos,
that your Rival REVIEWERS have given this favourable Character of my Piece through
interested Considerations. To obviate such future Insinuation, I hereby declare, on my
poetical and hempen Veracity, that I do not personally, or nominally know any one of
the Gentlemen, who are the Authors of the Monthly Review, and that by no Means direct
or indirect, did I sollicit a favourable Character of my Production: nay, that I have even
been so remiss in Gratitude, as not to return my verbal, nor epistolary Thanks for the
Honour they have done my Performance.
TOBIAS SMOLLETT 137
And now I would beg leave to ask that profoundly-sagacious Critick, Doctor T——
SM LL T, if he hath not unfairly endeavoured to prepossess his Readers against my
MOCK-TRAGEDY, for Reasons entirely personal. Guilty or not Guilty, honest TOBY?
——Nay, never hesitate, good Doctor! but, for once in your Life, tell the Truth, and
shame the Devil.—Perhaps you have too great a Respect for your internal Friend, the
Father of Lies, to put him to the Blush.—I repeat the Question; and am persuaded, if
you speak the Truth, that you will answer in the Affirmative. I don’t assert this through
Vanity, but have some Grounds to justify my Assertion; and shall therefore proceed to
lay before the Public the real or supposed Cause of your saying so much against my
Performance; or more properly of your saying so little against it.
Mark now how plain a Tale shall put you down.1
Shak. K.Hen. IV.
My Manager Mr THEOPILUS CIBBER, of wrong-headed Memory, about three Weeks
before the Exhibition of my Tragedy, told me he had made Mention of that Piece to Dr
SM LL T, whom he represented as a great Admirer of Performances of the burlesque
kind, and desired to know if it were agreeable to me that the Play should be read to the
Doctor. I told Mr CIBBER I had no Objection. On which he pulled out the Copy, and
desired me to strike out, at least to mark, all the Passages I had borrowed from the
REGICIDE, that he might drop them in the Reading: for, added he, tho’ the Doctor
should ever so highly admire the humourous Ridicule, which you have levelled at his
poetical Brotherhood, he would not fail of being greatly enraged at the Freedom you
have taken with his REGICIDE. It will, continues my upright Manager, be your Interest
to make a Friend of the Doctor. As he presides over the poetical Province in the
CRITICAL REVIEW, your Piece will, in all Likelyhood, have a favourable Character,
if you strike out those Passages, which immediately affect him.
I must own, I was weak enough to listen to CIBBER’S Insinuation; and the next Day,
(as I had not time, at our Interview, to find out all my Extracts from the REGICIDE)
sent him a Letter, in which were contained every Passage I had borrowed from the
Doctor. CIBBER accordingly put the Stage-Mark on them: and not one Line of yours
was spoken in the Representation. If my Manager and I had not quarrell’d about the
rascally Exhibition of the Play, I don’t know but those beautiful Rants, I had selected
from your Tragedy, might have slept in Silence and Oblivion: but after the above
Conference, I was determined to publish them, least he should have insinuated to the
World, that I had omitted some Passages in your subscriptionary Drama; thro’ fear of so
redoubtable a Critic, as Dr SM LL T.
I doubt not but you will be ready to represent this Tale, as an Invention of my own;
especially as your Friend with the unpartition’d Nose is gone to the Bottom. But, Doctor!
though I have no positive, I don’t want negative, Evidence of the Truth of this Story. I
told it to many Persons of Credit in CIBBER’S Life time; and openly declared, before
the Publication of your Criticism, that I expected to be handled by you with the greatest
138 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE
Severity.——Nay, the Marks above-mentioned are in the Stage-Copy, which hath been
in Mr RICH’S Hands ever since the Exhibition of the Piece.
I shall now give a Recital of those Passages I have extracted from your REGICIDE, with
their References; that the World may judge whether or no your Resentment to my
Piece does not flow from personal Motives.
My first Extract from your Tragedy is that admirable Imprecation in page 9.
By th’ Powers of Hell
I will be drunk with Vengeance!
To which my learned Friend Dr HUMBUG adds, in Note 25. in the same Page.
‘A Liquor I never yet heard off.’
I don’t pretend to justify this Remark of the Doctor’s, nor enter into any Dispute
whether or no a Man may really get drunk with Vengeance. A small Alteration will silence
all Cavils on this Passage of yours; wherefore if the Regicide have the good Fortune to
hobble into another Impression, I would advise you to make it.
By th’ Powers of Hell
I will be drunk with a Vengeance!
This will render the Passage more intelligible, though not altogether so poetical.
The next Remark on you is occasion’d by Buckramo’s saying to his Friend Strapada;
Or thou wilt run me into Madness.
To which Line Dr HUMBUG Subjoins the following Note, viz. ‘A very common
tragical Expression—nay, I have known many dramatic Heroes uttering such
Complaints, when they have been absolutely mad from their first Speech in the Play. An
Instance of this dramatic Madness may be found in a Tragedy, which was publish’d by
Subscription in the present Century.
My Friend HUMBUG would have mention’d the Character of STUART in the
Regicide, as his Proof of dramatic Madness; but, out of Regard to so great a tragic
Genius as Dr Sm ll t, I prevail’d on him to leave the Publick in the dark, as to that
The next Passage taken from your Play, is that beautiful Imprecation.
May this Carcase rot,
A loathsome Banquet to the Fowls of Heaven;
TOBIAS SMOLLETT 139
If e’er my Breast admit Thought, to bound
The Progress of my Rage
To which Dr HUMBUG subjoins in Note 25. Page 10. Our Author in this spirited
Image, which is taken from the Regicide, hath, in my Opinion, followed the Doctor too
closely: for with Submission to so great a Genius, as the Doctor, loathsome Banquet,
seems to border a little on the Tipperarian Idiom.’
The following Image from your Regicide passes without any Remark.
Thou hast been tender over-much, and mourn’d Even too profusely.
These elegant Flourishes had not gone without a Comment, if tender over-much and
mourning even too profusely, had not been Phrases of such inimitable Excellence, as to
require no further Illustration.
This is also another of your Images:
My Soul is wrought to the sublimest Rage Of horrible Revenge.
But as the Note to this Passage hath been already given, there is no Occasion to
Page 25. Note 3.
But see, where silent, as the Noon of Night, These Lovers lie!
‘That is I presume when the Moon is in her Meridian, and not as commonly
supposed at Midnight.’ Dr HUMBUG
But here comes the Master-piece of British Rant.
May Heaven exhaust
Its Thunders on my Head! May Hell Disgorge
Infernal Plagues to blast me, if I cease
To persecute the Caitif, till his Blood
Assuage my parch’d Revenge!
This Exclamation of yours also passes without a Comment. No human pen, but that
of a Longinus, could have done it Justice; for if Heaven exhausting its Thunders, Hell
disgorging infernal Plagues; ceasing to persecute the Caitif, and Blood assuaging a parch’d
Revenge, be not, as the fine Lady in Lethe calls it, the very Squintessence of the Sublime, I
may fairly say in Captain Bobadil’s Phrase, I have no more Judgment than a Malt-Horse.
140 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE
The last Passage, I have drawn from your admirable Tragedy, is that beautiful
How shall Acknowledgement enough reward Thy Worth unparallell’d?
If any dramatic Hero, since the Days of EURIPIDES, ever utter’d a more pompous and
sublime Exclamation, I will be bound to undergo the Punishment of reading over all
the Cart-loads of Rubbish, which you palm upon the World, for good Writing.
I believe my Readers are, by this time, convinc’d that your Resentment against my
Tragedy is purely personal—The foregoing are not all the Passages in your REGICIDE,
that deserv’d my Notice: the Piece from Beginning to End is a continued Chain of
Sublime Bombast. There is so little Meaning or Nature in the whole Production, that it may
be justly intitled the most compleat and elaborate Libel on Tragedy and Commonsense, that was ever foisted upon the Pubic. But, notwithstanding its Defects, it would
be the highest Injustice in me to say it is void of Merit: its medicinal Qualities will atone
for the Want of poetical ones. Since the Discovery of its physical Virtues, I have bilk’d
the Faculty of many a Shilling: for, when a Puke is wanted in my Family, a Perusal of
twenty or thirty Lines Seldom fails of the desir’d Effect; double the Number is a Dose
for the strongest Constitutions, and with a whole Act I would engage to vomit any
Coach-Horse in the three Kingdoms.
My late Mention of the perillous Word Libel, induces me to advise you to be more
cautious of your future political Writings. Have always in view the Fate of your Brother
Doctor,2 whose Life and Actions seem so near a Counter-part of your own. He was
bound an Apprentice to the Faculty, but extracted such sublime Notions of LIBERTY,
that he most heroically broke through his Parchment Bondage: Was not this exactly your
Case? After his Enfranchisement, he assum’d the Title of Doctor of Physic (no Matter how
he came by it) Did not you the same? He started into the literary World as a Novel Writer
with the MARRIAGE ACT, you with RODERIC RANDOM. When the Public was
glutted with Novels, he turned his Head to Politics, and commenced a Retailer of
pernicious Principles: Did not you do so likewise? In his Letters to the People of
England, he libell’d the best of Kings: You, in your History of England, Spare not the best
of Constitutions. He hath already been exalted for his Labours; and tho’ you have not met
with Exaltation; it is not because you have not deserved as many Favours of the King’s
Bench, as he hath received. For a Proof of this last Assertion, I recommend my Readers
to a Perusal of that Part of your History of England, which treats of the glorious
REVOLUTION in eighty eight.
Now, Doctor! It is almost time to take my leave of you for the present. If you have
any Remains of Truth and Honesty in you; you must acknowledge that, in the Course of
this Epistle, I have treated you with a friendly and decent Familiarity: wherefore I hope
you will graciously vouchsafe me a Reply. I shall not take the scurrilous Character,
which you will probably give of this Epistle in your CRITICAL REVIEW, for an Answer;