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wholesome and salutary law, and do, positively, make fools of themselves, every day, and every hour of their lives.
They have, all three, determined to entertain the Town, very much at their own expence, and have all solemnly sworn,-(in like manner as the forty Jews bound themselves by an oath not to eat bread 'till they had murdered Paul,with the effect of which oath we are all well acquainted) eternal war against all genius, learning, wit, sense, spirit, taste, decency, virtue, morality, and religion, all of which they declare they will write down, forth-with, and incontinently.--Surely, this egregious triumvirate, and the intended murderers of Paul, will meet with equal success in their laudable and piqus endeavours.
We most earnestly beseech these worthy gentlemen to continue their literary labours; for we love the good old times, when every gentleman kept a fool in his own house, for the amusement of himself and his family; we, therefore, are excessively obliged to Messrs. Blunderbuss and Co.for having volunteered themselves to act the part of fools, for the public weal, and, in order to entertain the good people of America, at their own cost.
One piece of advice I must, however, offer to this dull brotherhood; namely, to follow the example of a certain painter, who was hired to pourtray a horse upon a sign, for the benefit of a vender of ale and gin, commonly called a publican. The painter drew this said horse so like a shoulder of mutton, that he was obliged to write under it a notice to this effect ;-N. B. This is not a shoulder of mutton, but a horse ;-in like manner, let Messrs. Blunderbuss, Flim-flam, and Turnspit, always insert a similar note to every thing, which they write; the note should be couched in these words ;-N. B. We can assure the reader, upon all the credit which is due to us, that, what we have now written, is not nonsense, but sense :-believe it who will, at his peril!
Further-more, these gentlemen have, of late, been seen to lay their heads together, and have been heard to declare stoutly, that they are determined to attack as vile, and low, whatsoever they do not understand. Now, if these worthy scribblers were capable of reasoning upon their own premises, they VOL. II.
would, as they understand nothing, attack nothing. But waving this ;—beyond all controversy, as they do not understand any thing resembling decency and sense, we might rest assured, that whatever they attack is both sensible, and decent ; whence, they, very completely, verify Dan Pope's assertion, who, when speaking of some dunces of his day, says,
“ Their praise is censure, and their censure praise." When a certain part of Mr. Pope's Satires was shewn to surly John Dennis,-(after carefully perusing the character of a coward, a scoundrel, a knave, a liar, and a dunce, drawn by the masterly hand of Twickenham’s inimitable bard,) Dennis roared out,
“ He means me, as I am a sinner.” My earnest request, therefore, is, that if any block-head, or ignoramus should read this essay on the utility of his own species, and should find his own portrait there, he will exercise more discretion than did John Dennis ;-and, either have the grace to be altogether silent, or let the bowels of his compassion yearn towards himself, and say,—“ As I am a sinner, he does not mean me.”
I have hanged up a fool's-cap upon a pole, where it now rides, dangling between heaven and earth; if any block-head take that fool's-cap down, from the pole, and fix it on his own barren pate, let him remember, that it is himself, and not I, who hath covered his own head with shame, and exposed his own absurdity to be pointed at by the finger of scorn and of derision.
By a confusion of ideas well worthy of the heads, in which it lies, block-heads have a strange propensity to combine together ;-as if a confederacy of dunces could ever avail aught against the efforts of individual intelligence ;-all the noughts and cyphers in the world, added together, can never amount to a unit ;-if you add nothing to nothing, ad infinitum, still the sum total must be nothing ;-and it matters not, as in the instance before us, whether a man is attacked by the whole of nothing, that is by the conjoined forces of Messrs. Blunderbuss, Flim-flam, and Turnspit,ếor the half of nothing, that is any two of the said triumvirate ;-or the third of nothing, that is, any one of these precious pillars of society ;-nothing, whether as a whole, or only a part, can never be the object of
aught but the most freezing indifference, or the most sovereign scorn. To
put this matter however, at rest, for the future ;-be this proposition and its solution known unto all, whom it might concern, namely ;-that every individual block-head is a fool ;—that a number of block-heads is only a multitude of fools ;—that a multiplication of folly can never become wisdom ;-and, consequently, that the effect produced by the efforts of an individual block-head, or of many block-heads combined, can differ only in degree,-that is, in proportion as the number of confederated dunces increases, will be the magnitude of the stultification displayed by their joint endeavours ;~in the same manner as a calf, which is nourished by two cows, instead of one, grows up to be a very great calf. .
It is not to be expected, that, in a single Essay, I can do justice to all the merits of the block-head tribe; I shall, therefore, merely state, at random, a few more instances of the utility of dunces, as they occur to my recollection, while I am writing, and then, for the present, relinquish the subject.
Block-heads are very fond of retailing, by scraps, and piece-meal, what they have heard from others; a circumstance which savours of prudence, because, as they have nothing of their own to say, and cannot be silent, except when they are eating or sleeping, it is necessary that they borrow or steal the materials of their discourse from whatever
quarter they can. Neither need this be matter of alarm to those persons, whose intellect a dunce attempts to rob and plunder, for when any thing has once passed through the muddy medium of a block-head's brain, it is so near to nothing, that what the original was, cannot possibly be discovered.
There is a roving tribe of barbarous banditti, called the Tartars, who imagine, that, if they cut o the head of a man of genius, they shall receive his sense, into their skulls, as a matter of inheritance ; in this respect Messrs. Turnspit, Blunderbuss, and Flim-flam win the palm of wisdom from their brother-barbarians, the Tartars: for they continually strive, with all their might and main, (more particularly little Tim Turnspit wriggles most impotently in the cause)—to destroy men of intellect, for the sole purpose of reducing the human
race to their own level, and thus to constitute a community of block-heads ;-very consistently with themselves, utterly refusing and rejecting all desire for intellect of any sort, because they are well aware, that if, by any chance, knowledge should ever betray them into a glimmering of sense, their constant friend and companion, plain, dull stupidity would instantly step in to aid them, and effectually prohibit the continued residence of understanding in their heads, which, to say truth, are all like that of Squire Richard, -of a very comfortable thickness.
Every one knows what a lamentable thing it is to mourn over the loss of him, whose memory is dear ;-but a blockhead enjoys the unenviable privilege of dying unwept, as he lived unloved ;-when a booby drops into annihilation he leaves no vacuity behind.
The Romans allowed their slaves, and all the basest of the rabble, during their annual feast, called Saturnalia, to vent their spleen in foul reproaches, and in filthy ribaldry, against their greatest and best men, in order to teach them to despise scurrility, and low, vulgar, personal abuse. We are more liberal in this
respect, than were the Romans, for we allow our block-heads to continue their Saturnalia during the whole year; whence we entertain a much more sovereign scorn and detestation for them and for their productions, than could ever possibly enter the minds of the ancient conquerors of the world,
Again, the block-heads,—but I am weary of this heavy subject, and shall relieve myself by concluding with the sentiments, although not in the very words, of a man, who once possessed a most distinguished and commanding genius, but who is now labouring under the most afflicting and the most awful of all human calamities.
The efficient direction to all the pursuits, and all the actions, and all the thoughts of men, is given by a very few, even by the children of thought and of reflection; the generality of mankind must always be contented to admire that which they do not understand ;-of the myriads of human beings, who declaim, in terms of rapturous delight on the inimitable excellencies of the bard of Avon, Fancy's darling
child, not one in ten thousand, is capable of feeling, or of comprehending any, even the least of all those excellencies.
So runs the world, and so will it ever run ;-but let not the ardour of ingenuous youth be checked; neither let the spirit of Genius droop, nor let the lightnings of her eye be quenched in the dark clouds of slumber ;--for intellectual strength will ever rise superior to oppression, and will draw lustre from reproach. The vapours, which gather round the rising Sun, and follow him in his course, seldom or ever fail, at the setting of his beams, to form a magnificent theatre for his reception, and to invest with variegated tints, and with a softened effulgence, that luminary, which they cannot hide.