« ForrigeFortsæt »
dered his ears, to forbear uttering such notorious falsehoods as he had then published. The witness, however, persisted in his contumacy, telling them he was very sorry to find, that notwithstanding what he had said, they were resolved to be as arrant fools as all their forefathers had been for a hundred years before them.
There came up another witness,' who spoke much to the reputation of Count Tariff. This was a tall black, blustering person dressed in a Spanish habit, with a plume of feathers on his head, a Golillio about his neck, and a long Toledo sticking out by his side: his garments were so covered with tinsel and spangles, that at a distance he seemed to be made up of silver and gold. He called himself Don Assiento, and mentioned several nations that had sought his friendship; but declared that he had been gained over by the Count: and that he was come into these parts to enrich every one that heard him. The court was at first very well pleased with his figure, and the promises he made them; but upon examination, found him a true Spaniard: nothing but show and beggary. For it was fully proved, that, notwithstanding the boasts and appearance which he made, he was not worth a groat; nay, that upon casting up his annual expenses, with the debts and encumbrances which lay upon his estate, he was worse than nothing.
There appeared another witness in favour of the Count, who spoke with so much violence and warmth, that the court begun to listen to him very attentively; till, upon hearing his name, they found he was a notorious knight of the post, being kept in pay, to give his testimony on all occasions where it was wanted. This was the Examiner; 2 a person who had abused almost every man in England, that deserved well of his country. He called Goodman Fact a liar, a seditious person, a traitor, and a rebel; and so much incensed the honest man, that he would certainly have knocked him down, if he could have come at him. It was allowed by everybody, that so foul-mouthed a witness never appeared
1. By this witness is meant, the Assiento Contract, or grant made by the king of Spain, for the importation of negroes into his American dominions, to the South-sea Company; the supposed benefits of which contract, being part of the treaty of commerce, were much insisted upon by the ministerial advocates.
2 The famous political paper of that name, in which Swift, and some other writers of credit, were concerned.
in any cause. Seeing several persons of great eminence, who had maintained the cause of Goodman Fact, he called them idiots, blockheads, villains, knaves, infidels, atheists, apostates, fiends, and devils: never did man show so much eloquence in ribaldry. The court was, at length, so justly provoked with this fellow's behaviour, who spared no age, nor sex, nor profession, which had shown any friendship or inclination for the plaintiff, that several began to whisper to one another, it was high time to bring him to punishment. But the witness, overhearing the word Pillory repeated twice or thrice, slunk away privately, and hid himself among the people.
After a full hearing on both sides, Count Tariff was cast, and Goodman Fact got his cause; but the court sitting late, did not think it fit, at that time, to give him costs, or, indeed, to enter into that matter. The honest man immediately retired, after having assured his friends, that at any time, when the Count should appear on the like occasion, he would undertake their defence, and come to their assistance, if they would be at the pains to find him out.
It is incredible, how general a joy Goodman Fact's success created in the city of London; there was nothing to be seen or heard the next day, but shaking of hands, congratulations, reflections on the danger they had escaped; and gratitude to those who had delivered them from it.
The night concluded with balls, bonfires, ringing of bells, and the like public demonstrations of joy.
No. 1. THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1710.
Nescia mens hominum fati sortisque futuræ,
THE design of this work is to censure the writings of others, and to give all persons a rehearing, who have suffered under any unjust sentence of the Examiner. As that author has
hitherto proceeded, his paper would have been more properly entitled the Executioner. At least, his examination is like that which is made by the rack and wheel. I have always admired a critic that has discovered the beauties of an author, and never knew one who made it his business to lash the faults of other writers, that was not guilty of greater himself; as the hangman is generally a worse malefactor than the criminal that suffers by his hand. To prove what I say, there needs no more than to read the annotations which this author has made upon Dr. Garth's poem, with the preface in the front, and a riddle at the end of them. To begin with the first did ever an advocate for a party open with such an unfortunate assertion? "The collective body of the Whigs have already engrossed our riches:" that is, in plain English, the Whigs are possessed of all the riches of the nation. Is not this giving up all he has been contending for these six weeks? Is there anything more reasonable, than that those
We are to impute to this provocation, the peculiar keenness of our author's reproof, in these papers. But one is surprised to observe how much of that keenness is directed against the style of his antagonist.-The reason is, that the good taste of that time would not endure a want of correct and just composition, even in a party-writer.
who have all the riches of the nation in their possession, or, if he likes his own phrase better, as, indeed, I think it is stronger, that those who have already engrossed our riches, should have the management of our public treasure, and the direction of our fleets and armies ? But let us proceed: "Their representative, the Kit-cat, have pretended to make a monopoly of our sense." Well, but what does all this end in? If the author means anything, it is this; that, to prevent such a monopoly of sense, he is resolved to deal in it himself by retail, and sell a pennyworth of it every week. In what follows, there is such a shocking familiarity, both in his railleries and civilities, that one cannot long be in doubt who is the author. The remaining part of the preface has so much of the pedant, and so little of the conversation of men in it, that I shall pass it over, and hasten to the riddles, which are as follows.
SPHINX was a monster, that would eat
Edipus was resolved to go,
And try what strength of parts could do;
Which has four feet at morning bright?
And runs away at last on four.
The first part of this little mystical poem is an old riddle, which we could have told the meaning of, had not the author given himself the trouble of explaining it; but as for the exposition of the second, he leaves us altogether in the dark. The riddle runs thus: "What creature is it that walks upon four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs at
night ?" This he solves, as our forefathers have done for these two thousand years; and not according to Rabelais, who gives another reason why a man is said to be a creature with three legs at night. Then follows the second riddle: "What creature, (says he,) is it that first uses four legs, then two legs, then three legs; then loses one leg, then gets two legs, and at last runs away upon four legs?” Were I disposed to be splenetic, I should ask if there was anything in the new garland of riddles so wild, so childish, or so flat: but though I dare not go so far as that, I shall take upon me to say, that the author has stolen his hint out of the garland, from a riddle which I was better acquainted with than the Nile, when I was but twelve years old. It runs thus: Riddle my riddle my ree, what is this? Two legs sat upon three legs, and held one leg in her hand; in came four legs, and snatched away one leg; up started two legs, and flung three legs at four legs, and brought one leg back again. This enigma, joined with the foregoing two, rings all the changes that can be made upon legs. That I may deal more ingeniously with my reader than the above-mentioned enigmatist has done, I shall present him with a key to my riddle: which, upon application, he will find exactly fitted to all the words of it: one leg is a leg of mutton, two legs is a servant maid, three legs is a joint stool, which in the sphinx's country was called a tripode; as four legs is a dog, who, in all nations and ages, has been reckoned a quadruped. We have now the exposition of our first and third riddles upon legs; let us here, if you please, endeavour to find out the meaning of our second, which is thus in the author's words:
What stranger creature yet is he,
That has four legs, then two, then three;
And runs away at last on four?
This riddle, as the poet tells us, was proposed by Edipus to the sphinx, after he had given his solution to that which the sphinx had proposed to him. This Edipus, you must understand, though the people did not believe it, was son to a king of Thebes, and bore a particular grudge to the tre -r of that kingdom, which made him so bitter upon H. L. in this enigma.
What stranger creature yet is he,
That has four legs, then two, then three;