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vicious men; and to the end that certain persons may be a little eased of their fears, and relieved from the terrible palpitations they have lately felt and suffered, and do still suffer; I hereby graciously pass an act of general oblivion, for all offences, crimes, and misdemeanors of what kind soever, committed from the beginning of the year 1681, until the day of the date of my first paper, and promise only to concern myself with such as have been since and shall hereafter be committed. I shall take no notice who has (heretofore) raised a fortune by fraud and oppression, nor who by deceit and hypocrisy; what woman has been false to her good husband's bed, nor what man has, by barbarous usage or neglect, broken the heart of a faithful wife, and wasted his health and substance in debauchery; what base wretch has betrayed his friend, and sold his honesty for gold, nor what baser wretch first corrupted him, and then bought the bargain; all this, and much more of the same kind, I shall forget, and pass over in silence; but then it is to be observed, that I expect and require a sudden and general amendment.
These threatenings of mine I hope will have a good effect, and, if regarded, may prevent abundance of folly and wickedness in others, and, at the same time, save me abundance of trouble ; and, that people may not flatter themselves with the hopes of concealing their loose misdemeanors from my knowledge, and in that view persist in evil-doing, I must acquaint them, that I have lately entered into an intimacy with the extraordinary person, who some time since wrote me the following letter; and who, having a wonderful faculty, that enables him to discover the most secret iniquity, is capable of giving me great assistance in my designed work of reformation.
“Mr. Busy-Body, “I rejoice, Sir, at the opportunity you have given me to be serviceable to you, and, by your means, to this province. You must know, that such have been the circumstances of my life, and such were the marvellous concurrences of my birth, that I have not only a faculty of discovering the actions of persons, that are absent or asleep, but even of the devil himself, in many of his secret workings, in the various shapes, habits, and names of men and women ; and, having travelled and conversed much, and met but with a very few of the same perceptions and qualifications, I can recommend myself to you as the most useful man you can correspond with. My father's father's father (for we had no grandfathers in our family) was the same John Bunyan, that writ that memorable book, The Pilgrim's Progress, who had, in some degree, a natural faculty of second sight. This faculty (how derived to him our family memoirs are not very clear) was enjoyed by all his descendants, but not by equal talents. It was very dim in several of my first cousins, and probably had been nearly extinct in our particular branch, had not my father been a traveller. He lived, in his youthful days, in New England. There he married, and there was born my elder brother, who had so much of this faculty, as to discover witches in some of their occult performances.
“My parents transporting themselves to Great Britain, my second brother's birth was in that kingdom. He shared but a small portion of this virtue, being only able to discern transactions about the time of, and for the most part after, their happening. My good father, who delighted in The Pilgrim's Progress, and mountainous places, took shipping, with his wife, for Scotland, and inhabited in the Highlands, where myself
was born ; and whether the soil, climate, or astral influences, of which are preserved divers prognostics, restored our ancestor's natural faculty of second sight, in a greater lustre to me, than it had shined in through several generations, I will not here discuss. But so it is, that I am possessed largely of it, and design, if you encourage the proposal, to take this opportunity of doing good with it, which I question not will be accepted of in a grateful way by many of your honest readers, though the discovery of my extraction bodes me no deference from your great scholars and modern philosophers. This my father was long ago aware of; and, lest the name alone should hurt the fortunes of his children, he, in his shiftings from one country to another, wisely changed it.
“Sir, I have only this further to say, how I may be useful to you, and as a reason for my not making myself more known in the world. By virtue of this great gift of nature, second-sightedness, I do continually see numbers of men, women, and children, of all ranks, and what they are doing, while I am sitting in my closet; which is too great a burden for the mind, and makes me also conceit, even against reason, that all this host of people can see and observe me, which strongly inclines me to solitude, and an obscure living ; and, on the other hand, it will be an ease to me to disburthen my thoughts and observations in the way proposed to you by, Sir, your friend and humble servant."
I conceal this correspondent's name, in my care for his life and safety, and cannot but approve his prudence in choosing to live obscurely. I remember the fate of my poor monkey. He had an ill-natured trick of grinning and chattering at everything he saw in petticoats. My ignorant country neighbours got a
notion, that pug snarled by instinct at every female who had lost her virginity. This was no sooner generally believed, than he was condemned to death ; by whom, I could never learn, but he was assassinated in the night, barbarously stabbed and mangled in a thousand places, and left hanging dead on one of my gate-posts, where I found him the next morning.
The Censor observing, that the itch of scribbling begins to spread exceedingly, and being carefully tender of the reputation of his country in point of wit and good sense, has determined to take all manner of writing, in verse or prose, that pretend to either, under his immediate cognizance; and accordingly hereby prohibits the publishing any such for the future, till they have first passed his examination, and received his imprimatur ; for which he demands as a fee only sixpence per sheet.
N. B. He nevertheless permits to be published all satirical remarks on the Busy-Body, the above prohibition notwithstanding, and without examination, or requiring the said fees; which indulgence the small wits in and about this city are advised gratefully to accept and acknowledge.
The gentleman, who calls himself Sirronio, is directed, on receipt of this, to burn his great book of Crudities.
P. S. In compassion to that young man, on account of the great pains he has taken, in consideration of the character I have just received of him, that he is really good-natured, and on condition he shows it to no foreigner or stranger of sense, I have thought fit to reprieve his said great book of Crudities from the flames, till further order.
Noli me tangere.
I HAD resolved, when I first commenced this design, on no account to enter into a public dispute with any man; for I judged it would be equally unpleasant to me and my readers, to see this paper filled with contentious wrangling, answers, replies, &c.; which is a way of writing that is endless, and, at the same time, seldom contains any thing that is either edifying or entertaining. Yet, when such a considerable man as Mr. — finds himself concerned so warmly to accuse and condemn me, as he has done in Keimer's last Instructor, I cannot forbear endeavouring to say something in my own defence, from one of the worst of characters that could be given me by a man of worth. But as I have many things of more consequence to offer the public, I declare, that I will never, after this time, take notice of any accusations, not better supported with truth and reason; much less may every little scribbler, that shall attack me, expect an answer from the Busy-Body.
The sum of the charge delivered against me, either directly or indirectly, in the said paper, is this. Not to mention the first weighty sentence concerning vanity and ill-nature, and the shrewd intimation, that I am without charity, and therefore can have no pretence to religion, I am represented as guilty of defamation and scandal, the odiousness of which is apparent to every good man, and the practice of it opposite to Christianity, morality, and common justice, and, in some cases, so far below all these, as to be inhuman; as a blaster of reputations; as attempting, by a pretence, to screen myself from the imputation of malice and prejudice; as using a weapon, which the wiser and better part of mankind hold in abhorrence; and as giving treatment, which