The Humourist (February 5, 1754)

“Mankind plays the Cheat, and […] Fallacy and Disguise attend the minutest Actions of our Lives.” —The Humourist

[Numb. 1015]
5 February 1754


He hates Realities and hugs the Cheat,
And still the Pleasure lies in the Deceit.

The World is compared to the Theatre,2 and the Business of it is generally considered as the grand Drama thereof, both by ancient and modern Writers.  Human Life in some Degree resembles a Masquerade, wherein consists a Medley of incoherent Characters, rudely pressing upon each other, and acting Parts unequal to their several Abilities.  I have taken the Liberty to enlarge the Comparison, and I hope that it is a legal Licence, as it comes nearer to the Purpose of this Essay, and will assist me in proving, that Mankind plays the Cheat, and that Fallacy and Disguise attend the minutest Actions of our Lives.

Flavio (born to make all Mankind happy but himself) is a Gentleman of Birth and Education; he has run thro’ the several Stages with amazing Spirit and Vivacity; all his Possessions now center in his Name, indeed he still enjoys a certain Gaiety, and such a Correctness of Freedom, as adds Dignity to his Deportment and an easy Negligence to his Address.

His chief Happiness has even been to deceive himself:  In the worst Emergency of Affairs, he has never felt much Remorse at the Loss of Company, his fertile Genius always supplying him with Prospects of imaginary Happiness.

This surprising Genius can, by a very peculiar Discernment, find out, that an ideal Estate is preferable to a real one:  He used to apply these two remarkable Lines, after the Misfortune of losing his paternal Estate at Cards:

When House and Land is gone and spent
Then Learning is most excellent;3

From whence he drew these important Inferences, That Brick and Stone are perishable Materials, that they are Tenements of an uncertain Duration, and must necessarily fill the Mind with many anxious Reflections, arising from the precarious Tenure of such Possessions: The Parson and the Parish demand their Tythes and Taxes; the Tenant is perpetually perplexing one with want of Repairs; Casualties of all kinds, Distemper of the Cattle, Briefs at Church (and much is expected from a Lord of the Manor), Lawyers with their confounded Flaws and Doubts, Stewards with their unmerciful Charges, the Impertinence of Servants, Physicians prescribing under the Sanction of Eminence to cut off the Thread of human Life, and the Apothecary’s profuse Viands, are the eternal Incumbrances of Men of Wealth. A Coach, that pleasing Appendage to Independence, is rather an Inconvenience than an Ease; a Man wants Exercise, it promotes an Appetite and helps Digestion; besides, he is under a never ceasing Dread of dislocating his Neck, at least he endangers an Arm or a Leg, and these are Matters that demand our most serious Consideration. To a Man of Gallantry, there still remains an Objection, superior in point of Force to any yet mentioned; it is impossible to go incog. to see and not be seen, or partake of those pretty Divertisements that constitute the Life of a Man of Pleasure; a saucy Coachman, or an impudent Footman, or both, eternally fall in the Way of Gallantry and Love-Intrigues.

This is the Language of Flavio, whose greatest Ambition soars no higher than amusing himself with false and fancied Happiness, with Scenes of Rapture, and Prospects of Illusion and Deceit.

It is so exquisite a Joy to the Mind of Man, to be imposed upon, that if he cannot procure some Jugler to do the Job for him, he thinks himself in a State of never-ending Bliss, when he is imposing upon himself.  Tom Easy, who is a jocose Fellow, protests, that one strong Motive for our Devotion to the softer Sex is, because they are possessed of a most incomparable Method of cheating us, and that with wonderful Dexterity.  Miss Grave-airs cries, Lord! Mr. Sly-boots, I am all Amazement, that a Gentleman of your good natural Endowments, should devote yourself so entirely to the Art of Teazing; there is nothing so hateful to me, as being unmercifully kiss’d, and pull’d, and haul’d:  Who cannot perceive the Imposition, but who does not rejoice in the Perception?

To vary the Scene, and cast our Eyes in a different Point of View, we shall find the same Taste for Deceit, the same Appetite for illusive Schemes, tho’ the Method of their Operations differ.

The Patriot, bellowing with Iron Lungs against Men in Power, hazards his Fame upon a mere Contingency, and forfeits his Reputation by deceiving himself into a Place:  As formerly he sung of Liberty, he now makes Music of his Chains.

In one Place, I can observe an impious great Man, seemingly depressed with the Weight of Office, improving, tho’ not observing, Learning or Religion.

In another Place, a wealthy Monster sacrificing a numerous Family by Donations to Hospitals, thinking to procure a good Name, by Munificence abroad and Poverty at home.

I can observe a wealthy Pluralist, battening in the Sun-shine of Prosperity, and exulting in the Pomp of cathedral Glory, busied in Subscriptions for the Widows of poor deceased Clergymen, when his Abilities point out a quicker Remedy; deceiving at once, Mankind by the Imposition, and himself, by playing with his Conscience.

By such specious Pretences, and other insidious Means, Mankind deceive each other; and if there happens to fall in the Way one honest Man, free from Deceit, free from Imposition, his want of Judgment or Discernment renders him a Victim to the multiplied Attacks of fraudulent Conspiracies;

For neither Man nor Angel can discern

Hypocrisy, the only Evil that walks

Invisible, except to God alone.4


1 From Samuel Garth’s The Dispensary: A Poem in Six Cantos (1699). The quote is from Canto III, Lines 23-24,—a satire on apothecaries and physicians.
2 “All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players” (Shakespeare, As You Like It).
3 “Look well to what you have in hand / For learning is better than house or land / When land is gone and money spent / Then learning is most excellent.”
4 From John Milton’s Paradise Lost (Book III, line 682).

The Humourist (January 29, 1754)

Today the Humourist shows us the personal essay at its best. In response to an earlier post, someone speculated that the Humourist was Benjamin Franklin. Although he is not Ben Franklin, this essay is on a par with Franklin’s essays, and, it is filled with pithy observations that could pass for Franklin aphorisms.

Of equal importance, this essay is chock-full of clues, especially as the Humourist describes his own demeanor!

Enjoy today’s essay!

Many a Man passes in the Crowd of Life for a Philosopher, because he looks one; a Dignity of Carriage demands Respect, and if it have not the Power of bestowing, at least it makes the World believe we have, Sense. —The Humourist

[Numb. 1024]
29 January 1754

Reddere personae scit Convenientia cuique.

Sir William Temple2 somewhere says, that he knew a Statesman, that had rather have said a smart Thing than done a wise one, and whose Bent of Inclination rather prompted him to set the Company in a Horse-Laugh, than the Nation rejoice.

I believe nothing is more common, than an Affectation of this kind; the World abounds with Men of this Stamp, studious to create Mirth, as well at the Expence of particular Objects, as their own Abilities.

In the small Concerns of Life wherein I have been engaged I always found that a certain Degree of Gravity was the surest Step towards distinguishing Eminence of Station.  I hate Moroseness, yet I detest Levity; I scorn an awful untimed Distance, as much as Wantonness; but it is essentially requisite, that a proper Distinction be made between these several Qualities, otherwise Reverence sinks into Freedom, and Awe becomes Contempt.

Our Actions ought to be suited to the Nature of our Professions, and be so tempered, as that Mankind may have it in their Power to say, that we discover Courtesy at the same Time that we preserve Respect.

We are apt to start at the mere Idea of a merry Judge, or a waggish Divine; at a facetious Statesman, or a ludicrous King; the Characters no way answer to the Nature of Levity, they are inconsistent, and it is impossible to excel in any Part where Ridicule comes unseasonably.

How weak that mortal seems, who aims at distinguishing himself from the Brute Creation, by the unruly Exercise of his risible Faculties, and not by Reason!  More bright Men have fallen victims to a Misapplication of their Talents than to the Sword:  One of this Volatile Turn of Mind labours under a Variety of Disadvantages; if he proves successful in the Pointings of his Repartee, he gains as his Reward Envy, and if unhappy in the marshalling of his Wit, Ridicule; at all Events the World soon discovers his weak Stile, and this habitual Freedom deprives him of the Authority which a Solemnity of Deportment never fails to give him.

I would always have a Man carry [one line of text is illegible] or rather come half-way into the Road of Courtesy, which must denote him affable, than impetuously press to the Threshhold of every Man’s door whose Business it is to wait on him.

It is not enough for a Man to have good Qualities, unless he knows the right Oeconomy of them:  We may be endowed with Excellence superior to the rest of our Fellow Creatures, but it is not sufficient to know that we possess them; Reason informs us, we should use them:  Levity of Carriage and a Distortion of Body and Countenance upon the least Occasion of a Jest, a Jest too dependant upon the Rack of Genius to discover the most distant Approach towards Wit, argues such a Profuseness of Spirits and Misapplication of Capacity, that the general Voice of Mankind must exclaim against it.

It is a good Piece of Marshal Policy, always to keep a Body of Reserve, and to be so prepared for the Worst Emergency, as we have it in our Power to draw for Succour where Necessity requires it:  The same Rule ought to be closely observed by every Individual; give a Pledge of your sprightly Turn, but mortgage not the whole, lest the Mortagee, taking an unfair Advantage, should put you under the Necessity of applying to Equity for Redress.

It is a Matter of the nicest Prudence to please without Satiety:  It is the noblest part of Finesse, not to give Occasion to any one for his laughing at me, when my Endeavours are that he should laugh at my Jest:  Many a Man passes in the Crowd of Life for a Philosopher, because he looks one; a Dignity of Carriage demands Respect, and if it have not the Power of bestowing, at least it makes the World believe we have, Sense.

The Paradox of the wise Man of Mitilene,3 that the half is better than the whole, may bear this Application, that one half of our Abilities properly husbanded, and the other half discovered, is of more real Importance, than the whole profusely squandered.

A Relaxation of Behaviour is not amiss upon some Occasions; where it is call’d in to enliven Conversation, or when so used as neither to discompose the Mind of the Hearer or injure the Speaker; where it neither derogates from Sense or infringes on the Laws of decency; for untim’d Mirth is Ill-Nature, and Humour void of a Moral is an Argument of Weakness.


1 “He knows how to give the right part to each person” (Horace, Ars Poetica, 316).

2 Sir William Temple (1628-1699), Restoration diplomat, statesman, and essayist.  A graduate of Emmanuel College (part of the University of Cambridge), Temple wrote in a style, according to Samuel Johnson, worthy of commendation as “the first English prose to pay true attention to rhythmical cadence.”

3 Pittacus (c. 640-568 BC), one of the Seven Sages of Greece, and a native of Mytilene.

The Humourist on Giving and Receiving Tokens of Esteem on New Year’s Day

Friendship is the Life of Man, the only Cement of Society, the only pledge of true Felicity. —The Humourist


1 January 1754


— — — Laeti
Dona ferunt, — —

The most volatile enjoy Hours of Reflection, and indeed Life must appear very burdensome to that Man whose Genius is unable to chequer the grave with the ludicrous, the solemn with the Farce:  A well-tempered Mixture is ever the best, the one is a Relaxation for the other, and greatly contributes to render our Company acceptable in all social Communications.

The Humourist was yesterday serious: the Incident was fortunate, for whilst he was employed in passing his yearly accounts, and comparing a few Transactions of the former, with the past Year, he stumbled upon a Sentiment which carries with it an excellent Moral, and opportunely serves as an Introduction to that Revolution of Time, generally term’d a Year.

This is the Season, wherein that laudable Custom of presenting Tokens of Friendship, has Time out of Mind prevailed: It is a Custom so noble as it is ancient, and is undoubtedly grounded on the most perfect Reason, and established by the best Examples.

A very limited and confined Knowledge of the Ancients, will suffice to illustrate this Truth.  If we look back upon the Jews, we shall find, that the Month of Nisan, the first of their Year, was dedicated to the Celebration of Feasts, particularly that of the Passover, on which Occasion they gave the most general Invitations to their Neighbors to the eating [one or two illegible words].

The Greeks began their Olympiads by Sacrificing to Jupiter and the most superstitious Nations have not been wanting in Ceremonies of a like Nature.

A New-Year’s Gift, is a renewing, or rather confirming, that Friendship which a generous Mind will always be ambitious to acquire.

There is only one Thing wherein I should take Pleasure in seeing Mankind bear a Resemblance to the Turks, and that is, by rejoicing with due Reverence at every new Moon, whose Crescent they never fail to display with the most grateful Acts of Kindness to each other.

In January and February, the Romans made Presents to their Friends, and Romulus expressly commanded, that Vervine should be offered with other Marks of mutual Respect, as the wisest Method of insuring to themselves a successful and happy Conclusion to the Year.

Tacitus tells us. that Tiberius fixed the First of January as the proper Day, not only for the giving, but likewise for receiving, these Tokens of Esteem.

We are apt to measure Love by the most extravagant Return of Favours, but if we consider, that the Dispensations of Providence are too unequally divided, to allow each Man the same Power of Distribution, we shall regard more justly those Marks of Gratitude, that, notwithstanding they want the Stamp of Gratitude, do nevertheless bear upon them the Figure of a generous Mind; it is the Manner, not the Value, that distinguishes the Greatness of the Favour, it is the sweet and grateful Communication of our Gratitude, not the too liberal Profusion, that renders the Gift an acceptable Boon.

Customs of this nature can never meet with suitable Encouragement; all our Endeavors to promote them, will fall greatly short of the Veneration in which they ought to be upheld.

Friendship is the Life of Man, the only Cement of Society, the only pledge of true Felicity.

These annual Gifts strengthen and confirm our Alliances, and preserve that Conformity of  [one illegible word ending in tent] which is the Essence of mutual Esteem.

A well grounded Friendship promotes the [one illegible word] Virtues, and entirely eradicates from the human Heart, any insincere Passions or turbulent Suspicions.

With a Friend (not a Friend in common Acceptation) a Desart loses its Train of Horror, and only seems a blest Retirement.

It is evident, that the Ancients looked upon those Customs as promotive of the social Duties, and as so many Obligations of the Performance of them.  I am sorry to say, that modern Elegance is endeavouring to suppress these noble Emanations, but I am far more grieved to own, that such Virtues are incompatible with modern Graces.

It is with Sincerity I offer my Thoughts on this Subject, tho’ far more unnecessary in this Place (than in my others) where so noble a Generosity, joined with an hospitable Dignity, prevails.

The greatest Lessons of Morality may be gathered from imbibing such worthy Sentiments; they communicate Love to every Individual, and keep up an Harmony, without which the Order of Nature is inverted.

These Gifts create a most happy Emulation amongst the juvenile part of Mankind, and are so many Records of Friendship for the Gathers and Grandfathers to transmit to Posterity.

If these Hints meet with Approbation, I need not assure my Readers, that the Reward is more than adequate to my Trouble:  And I dare affirm, that if any Exceptions are taken to the Method I pursue in treating upon this or any other Subject, they will be generously considered as Errors arising from a Defect of Judgment, not for a total Ignorance of what an honest Soul ought to dictate.


1 Starting with 1754, The Humourist numbers each essay.

2 The quote is from Vergil’s Aeneid (Book V:100-101), “Aeneas Declares the Games”: “And his companions as well, brought gifts gladly, of which / each had a store, piling high the altars, sacrificing bullocks: / others set out rows of cauldrons, and scattered among the grass, / placed live coals under the spits, and roasted the meat.”

The Humourist on the Power Of Imagination, on the Anatomy of Human Heads, and on Making Hay

Today, The Humourist gifts us with  an essay on the power of imagination, an advertisement about a forthcoming publication on the anatomy of human heads, and a song on making hay!  But, interestingly enough, even though it is the day before Christmas, he makes no mention at all of Christmas!

If he were a New Englander, I would not be surprised by his silence.  Colonial New Englanders—especially Puritans—brought with them many of the Reformation issues that were prevalent in Europe, including controveries about the celebration of Christian feast days.

But the Humourist was living in Colonial South Carolina, where Anglicans (Episcopalians), Lutherans, and Roman Catholics celebrated Christmas with feasting, dancing, drinking, cock fighting, and lavish entertainments. How strange that the Humourist on this day before Christmas does not once mention Christmas!

Regardless, let’s enjoy and celebrate The Humourist!

24 December 1753


Into a thousand parts divide one man,

And make imaginary puissance.     SHAKESPEAR.1

That all men entertain high notions of their own importance, is a position of great antiquity; experience, that best of masters, never fails to shew it in the most glaring colours:  From the minister of state to the cobler in the stall, every individual swells at his own imaginations; no man considers himself as ordained to act a part only; we are all universal players, and are as eminently qualified for princely dignity as rustic familiarity; and in our own eyes appear equally suited for the hero or the buffoon, the king or Abel Drugger.2

I have frequently considered these ideas as flowing from a mind emulous of fame, and centering at least in innocent amusement.  These imaginary operations, may truly be termed the science of Castle-building; there is a pleasure arising from this profession, unknown to all others.

I have patronized this art many years, and after having run thro’ the several stages of life, am happy enough to find my finances in tolerable order.

If a man has any talent for building, my scheme not only furnishes him with fruitful designs, but likewise with suitable materials.  In the ordinary course of architecture, the pocket suffers, and the house must bear the shocks of weather and inconvenience of situation; now I can erect a little citadel, vary the prospects at pleasure, can suppose myself its governor, attended with all the pomp of a military cavalcade, and, by the forgeries of imagination, persuade myself into a firm belief that the enemy are soliciting for favor and protection.

I remember a brother of mine busied in the noble art of turning nine-pins, who, to all outward appearances, had look’d as if the balance of power depended upon every individual pin; I have erected houses for children by the help of cards, houses, in my opinion equal to those of Venice, and have absolutely undertook the arduous task of compiling laws for their inhabitants, equal to those of Solon and Lycurgus.3

If mankind can by any lawful means amuse time, remove inquietude to a great distance, and from mere fancy picture to his mind any grateful objects, sure this art must take place:  If a sign-painter can imagine himself possessed of the finger of a Raphael,4 that his portraits are surprizing, his pencil bold and animating, and that his figures swell on the canvas and quicken into life, permit him to hug the blest idea, no one suffers for it, no one receives an injury; the incident affords pleasure to the one, and a fund of laughter for the rest:  Thus all men may live in harmony, and a more just degree of equality subsist in the world; common humanity alone justifies this reasoning;

— — The pleasure is as great

In being cheated, as to cheat,

in the language of Hudibras.5

Henceforward let the curate look the bishop with impunity, the lawyer (if he list) suppose himself a judge, the merchant what he pleases, and in short, let every member of the world look every thing.

24 December 1753


Shortly will be published.

The Anatomy of human heads, describing the various kinds, the mathematical, spherical and elliptical; interspersed with many curious anecdotes, and reflections, critical, moral, and philosophical; and illustrated with near a million of worthy personages, as engrav’d by the best masters.

24 December 1753


As Damon one Day with his fair One was sate,
He talk’d pretty freely of this and of that,
While he toy’d on the Green in Negligence gay,
And Proverb-wise quickly began to make Hay.

Lord bless me, how rude! such a Man I protest
Is the Plague of my Heart, and Foe to my Rest;
No Woman can bear such like Freedom as this,
And the NO shall from henceforth take place of the YES.

He whisper’d an Accent so sweet in her Ear,
When she look’d a smile, (if smiles are sincere)
But too soon to his Grief, responsive Eccho
Gave, instead of the YES, a Gentle NO, NO.

Unskill’d in the Arts of Lucinda the gay,
He soon discontinu’d his amorous play;
She slighted him too; for the Women detest
That a Man should invert what’s meant as a Jest.

Henceforth ye fond Lovers, who wish to obtain
The thousand endearments oft sought for in vain,
Accept this Advice, which th’ experienc’d all know,
That a Woman means YES whene’er she says NO.


1  William Shakespeare, the “Prologue,” Henry the V.

2  A character in Ben Jonson’s comedy The Alchemist, first performed in 1610. Samuel Taylor Coleridge called the play “one of the three most perfect plots in all literature.”

3  Solon is known as the lawgiver of Athens; Lycurgus, the lawgiver of Sparta.

4  Raphael (1483-1520), an Italian painter and architect.

Hudibras, Part II, Canto III by English satirical poet Samuel Butler (1612-1680). The full quotation reads: “Doubtless the pleasure is as great / Of being cheated as to cheat; / As lookers-on feel most delight, / That least perceive a jugler’s slight; / And still the less they understand, / The more th’ admire his slight of hand.”

The Humorist (December 10, 1753)

Today, The Humorist returns, taking his rightful place center stage. However, before I retreat to the wings, let me share a few brief thoughts about some of my research challenges.

First, working with historical documents from the 1700s is a challenge in itself in terms of establishing editorial principles.  I have taken a conservative approach, always with an eye toward providing a text that is accurate yet readable.  With the following exceptions, I have preserved capitalization, paragraphing, spelling, and punctuation:

  • capitals of two fonts appearing in the same word have been emended to regular capitals;
  • ornamental words used at the beginning of paragraphs have been emended to upper and lower case letters; and
  • long s‘s have been shortened.

The second challenge is the fact that archivists have laminated some numbers of the Gazette in an attempt to mend torn pages.  As a result, I  struggle with reading some of the underlying passages.  <I enclose all conjectural transcriptions in angle brackets to alert the reader just as I have enclosed this sentence in angle brackets.> In any instance when I cannot read a word or if a line has been torn from the Gazette, I provide an alert in square brackets, such as [one illegible word] or [one missing line].  Fortunately, conjectural transcriptions, illegible words, and missing lines are infrequent.

A third challenge is translating some of the Latin quotations that The Humorist uses.  (How  I wish that I had studied Latin somewhere along the way!)  Often I have been able to find reliable translations.  Sometimes, however, I have not.  In today’s essay, for example, I need help with two passages:  see Notes 8 and 1.

Now, as promised, I retreat to the wings.  Enjoy The Humorist’s essay of December 10, 1753.  It’s a keeper.


A CHAP.  Wherein the author takes great pains to say more of himself than of the subject.

— — — Intent to gaze

Creation thro — — — THOMPSON.1

I promised in my last paper, to give you a copy of my countenance; but as it is impossible to procure it in any reasonable time, if the painter may be allowed to shew his skill or do justice to my person, I shall therefore beg my readers patience, and present them with a true sketch of my figure in print.

My body is small, my soul capacious, and my stature low; but what of that, a dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant may see farther than a giant himself:2  I have extraordinary amorous eyes, for they are ever best employed in discerning each other.  These are the only singularities of my person.

I am possessed of an excellent perspective, that multiplies the species, and presents to my sight the actions of every man; for distinction’s sake, I term it the Otacousticon:3  By the help of this amazing machine, I can observe cuckold’s horns, the philosopher’s stone4, and new projections; I can discover windmills in one man’s head, and hornet’s nests in another.  This will amply suffice as an emblem of that power with which I am invested.

As to my private character, that falls more immediately within the sphere of the historian than the painter.

The curiosity of mankind may possibly extend so far as an impatience, to know what my inducements are for embracing such notional and vague sentiments; ambition is the answer:  I ever had a soaring mind.  A man may grovel like a reptile upon earth, from his entrance upon the stage of life to his exit, unnoticed, unobserved.

If a man wants to be talk’d of, he must surprise; there is nothing equal to a great action:  Longinus might bless his stars, when he wrote his treatise upon the Sublime;5 observe what eulogiums Eunapius bestowed upon him, he sties him, light of nature! giant of wit! eagle in the clouds! lamp of the world!6  These are the blest rewards of soaring minds!

I say with my good friend Horace, seriam sydera;7 I am for driving my head against the stars, snuffing the moon! and as Heinsius expresses himself, and that like a man of the first magnitude too, in speculo positus, omnia saecula, praeterita, praesentia videns, uno velut intuitu.8

If cold white mortals censure these great deeds,

Warn them; they judge not of superior beings,

Souls make of fire, and children of the sun.  Young.9

But to resume the thread of my discourse, and argue in a more serious way.  Aerial Architecture is of great antiquity; the tower of Babel10 is one notable instance; this evidently shews that the ancients supposed a possibility of building castles in the air:  To dwell long upon a case so much in point, would argue a kind of suspicion in me to produce any other instances; have we not essays on the non-existence of matter, on the non-existence of religion, and quires of paper fruitlessly scribbled over, upon the possibility of longitude?

What immense pains have been taken, and to no purpose, to find out the quadrature of a circle, and the creeks and sounds of the north east and north west passages?  Are not these so many notable instances of castle-building; so many ideas, so many notional and imaginary conceptions, tending to justify that boldness which primá facie appears in this undertaking?

All this, and more, is literally true:  Search the records of old time, and look into the annals of the present, to authenticate what I assert.  They were most certainly unsuccessful in their endeavours; but, as good often arises out of evil, and as the vulgar proverb says, ’tis a bad wind that blows benefit to no one, I am the better for it:  I have collected such materials from their ruins, as will shortly convince mankind of the reasonableness of these fabrics, and the great and innumerable advantages arising therefrom.

I shall pursue my design; it is indeed my duty to do so:  Quintilian peremptorily says, perseverandum est, quia cæpimus.11


To be sold very reasonable, many considerable lots, and an estate of great value, a wide expanse! in Nubibus only.

Wanted, immediately, a professor of the occult sciences, an adept in palmistry and physiognomy, and a gentleman of a liberal education, who can serve in the capacity of an itinerant thro the twelve signs of the zodiac.

Wanted, several artificers, mechanics, etc. etc. etc. to assist the author in fitting up his aerial habitation:  ‘Tis hoped the prices will not be extravagant, as the workmen will live more reasonably than when employed in their terrene occupations, and as their diet will capacitate them to dispatch more business and in a shorter time, having nothing to subsist on but air.


1 James Thompson (1700-1748), English poet and author of The Seasons. The quote comes from “Summer” and, in full context, reads: “Nor to this evanescent speck of earth / Poorly confined, the radiant tracts on high / Are her exalted range; intent to gaze / Creation through; and, from that full complex / Of never ending wonders, to conceive / Of the Sole Being right, who spoke the Word, / And Nature moved complete.”

2 Isaac Newton wrote to Robert Hooke in 1676 saying, “What Descartes did was a good step. You have added much several ways, and especially in taking the colours of thin plates into philosophical consideration. If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” However, the phrase goes back to the twelfth century and is attributed to humanist and philosopher, Bernard of Chartres.

3 An instrument used to assist in hearing.

4 The Oxford English Dictionary defines this as “A mythical solid substance, supposed to change any metal into gold or silver and (according to some) to cure all wounds and diseases and prolong life indefinitely.”

5 Attributed to Longinus, a Greek rhetorician and literary critic who may have lived in the 1st or 3rd century AD, “On the Sublime” is a treatise on aesthetics and literary criticism and is generally considered to rank second in importance to Aristotle’s Poetics.

6 Eunapius (c. 345 – c. 420), a Greek historian known for his Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists.

7 Horace (65BC-27AD), a leading Roman lyric poet.

8 Daniel Heinsius (1580-1655), a Dutch scholar and poet.  Wanted, a translator:  “in speculo positus, omnia saecula, praeterita, praesentia videns, uno velut intuitu.”  ‘Tis hoped the prices will not be extravagant, as the translators will translate more reasonably than when employed in their terrene occupations.

9 Edward Young (1683-1765), British poet and dramatist. The lines are from his The Revenge: A Tragedy in Five Acts (1721).

10 “1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to , let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 4 And they said , Go to , let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded . 6 And the LORD said , Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do : and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (Genesis 11:1-6, King James Version).

11 Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (c. 35 – c. 100). a Roman rhetorician known for his 12-volume Institutio Oratoria (Institutes of Oratory).  Wanted, a translator:  perseverandum est, quia cæpimus”.   ‘Tis hoped the prices will not be extravagant, as the translators will translate more reasonably than when employed in their terrene occupations.