Abbildungen der Seite

tiality when I said, in that very paragraph, that Cretico is not without virtue; that there are many good things in him, and many good actions reported of him; which must be allowed, in all reason, very much to overbalance in his favour those worst words, sourtempered and cunning. Nay, my very enemy and accuser must have been sensible of this, when he freely. acknowledges that he has been seriously considering, and cannot yet determine, which he would choose to be, the Cato or Cretico of that paper; since my Cato is one of the best of characters. Thus much in my own vindication. As to the only reasons there given, why I ought not to continue drawing characters, viz. why should any man's picture be published which he never sat for ? or his good name taken from him any more than his money or possessions, at the arbi. trary will of another ? &c. I have but this to answer :the money or possessions, I presume, are nothing to the purpose, since no man can claim a right either to those or a good name, if he has acted so as to forfeit them. And are not the public the only judges what share of reputation they think proper to allow any man ? Supposing I was capable, and had an in. clination, to draw all the good and bad characters in America, why should a good man be offended with me for drawing good characters ? And if I draw ill ones, can they fit any but those that deserve them ? And ought any but such to be concerned that they have their deserts ? I have as great an aversion and abhorrence for defamation and scandal as any man, and would with the utmost care avoid being guilty of such base things ; besides I am very sensible and certain, that if I should make use of this paper to defame any person, my reputation would be sooner hurt by it

than his, and the Busy-Body would quickly become detestable ; because, in such a case, as is justly observed, the pleasure arising from a tale of wit and novelty soon dies away in generous and honest minds, and is followed with a secret grief to see their neighbours calumniated. But if I myself was actually the worst man in the province, and any one should draw my true character, would it not be ridiculous in me to say he had defamed and scandalized me, unless he had added in a matter of truth ? If any thing is meant by asking why any man's picture should be published which he never sat for, it must be, that we should give no character without the owner's consent. If I discern the wolf disguised in harmless wool, and con. triving the destruction of my peighbour's sheep, must I have his permission before I am allowed to discover and prevent him ? If I know a man to be a designing knave, must I ask his consent to bid my friends beware of him? If so, then, by the same rule, supposing the Busy-Body had really merited all his enemy had charged him with, his consent likewise ought to have been obtained before so terrible an accusation was published against him.

I shall conclude with observing, that in the last paragraph save one of the piece now examined, much ill-nature and some good sense are co-inhabitants (as he expresses it). The ill-nature appears in his endea. vouring to discover satire where I intended no such thing, but quite the reverse; the good sense is this, that drawing too good a character of any one is a refined manner of satire that may be as injurious to him as the contrary, by bringing on an examination that undresses the person, and in the haste of doing it he may happen to be stripped of what he really owns and deserves. As I am Censor, I might punish the first, but I forgive it. Yet I will not leave the latter un. rewarded ; but assure my adversary, that in considera, tion of the merit of those four lines, I am resolved to forbear injuring him on any account in that refined


I thank my neighbour P- W-1 for his kind letter. The lions complained of shall be muzzled.


March 20 to March 27.

Quid non mortalia pectora cogis,
Auri sacra fames ?


One of the greatest pleasures an author can have is certainly the hearing his works applauded. The hiding from the world our names while we publish our thoughts is so absolutely necessary to this self-gratification, that I hope my well-wishers will congratulate me on my escape from the many diligent but fruitless inquiries that have of late been made after me. Every man will own, that an author, as such, ought to be judged by the merit of his productions only; but pride, party, and prejudice, at this time run so very high, that experience shows we form our notions of a piece by the character of the author. Nay, there are some very humble politicians in and about this city, who will ask on which side the writer is, before they presume to give their opinion of the thing wrote. This ungenerous way of proceeding I was well aware of before I published my first speculation, and therefore concealed my name. And I appeal to the more generous part of the world, if I have, since I appeared in the character of the Busy-Body, given an instance of my siding with any party more than another, in the unhappy divisions of my country ; and I have, above all, this satisfaction in myself, that neither affection, aversion, or interest, have biassed me to use any partiality towards any man or set of men ; but whatsoever I find nonsensical, ridiculous, or immorally dishonest, I have, and shall continue openly to attack, with the freedom of an honest man and a lover of my country.

I profess I can hardly contain myself, or preserve the gravity and dignity that should attend the censorial office, when I hear the odd and unaccountable expositions that are put upon some of my words, through the malicious ignorance of some, and the vain pride of more than ordinary penetration in others ; one instance of which many of my readers are acquainted with. A certain gentleman has taken a great deal of pains to write a key to the letter in my Number IV. wherein he has ingeniously converted a gentle satire upon tedious and impertinent visitants, into a libel on some of the government. This I mention only as a specimen of the taste of the gentleman I am, forsooth, bound to please in my speculations ; not that I suppose my impartiality will ever be called in question on that account. Injustices of this nature I could complain of in many instances ; but I am at present diverted by the reception of a letter, which, though it regards me only in my private capacity as an adept, yet I venture to publish it for the entertainment of my readers.

To Censor Morum, Esq. Busy-body General of the

Province of Pennsylvania, and the Counties of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex upon Delaware.

Honourable sir, I judge by your lucubrations that you are not only a lover of truth and equity but a man of parts and learning, and a master of science; as such I honour you. Know, then, most profound sir, that I have, from my youth up, been a very indefatigable student in, and admirer of, that divine science, astrology. I have read over Scot, Albertus Magnus, and Cornelius Agrippa, above three hundred times; and was in hopes, by my knowledge and industry, to gain enough to have recompensed me for my money expended and time lost in the pursuit of this learning. You cannot be ignorant, sir (for your intimate second-sighted correspondent knows all things), that there are large sums of money hidden under ground in divers places about this town, and in many parts of the country: but alas, sir, notwithstanding I have used all the means laid down in the immortal authors before mentioned, and when they failed, the ingenious Mr. P-d_1, with his mercurial wand and magnet, I have still failed in my purpose. This therefore I send to propose and desire an acquaintance with you ; and I do not doubt, notwithstanding my repeated ill. fortune, but we may be exceedingly serviceable to each other in our discoveries; and that, if we use our united endeavours, the time will come when the BusyBody, his second-sighted correspondent, and your very humble servant, will be the thrée richest men in the province, and then, sir, what may we not do?- A

« ZurückWeiter »