L O I T E R E R.
"Speak of us as we are."
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR,
And sold by C. S. RANN, OXFORD;
Mess. EGERTONS, Whitehall, LONDON; Mess. PEARSON
And ROLLASON, BIRMINGHAM; Mr. W. MEYLER, Grove,
BATH; AND Mess. COWSLADE and SMART, READING.
L O I T E R E R.
SATURDAY, September 26, 1789.
Ambrosiæque comæ divinum vertice odorem Spiravêre. * * *
The inmoste thoughtes, the labryng brayne I sawe.
I HAVE no doubt but the friendly visit, which I have recorded in my last paper, will be considered as a sufficient Apology for my
undertaking a Journey to London, by such of my benevolent Readers, as may not be disposed to grant the same indulgence to that other motive,
at which I have more than once hinted in the course of these my lucubrations, viz, an Investigation of the Transparent Tète.
But whatever objections may be raised by narrow minds, I have not the smallest doubt, but that I shall be able to make it appear to those,
who are possessed of more liberal and enlightened notions, that the Transparent Tète is of greater importance to the public at large,
than any other invention, which the present Age, which is so fertile in discovery, has produced. Every Science has its ne plus ultra
of Investigation, those which the emulation of its Professors aspires. How often has this Globe, even in our own days, been circumnavigated
with no other view, than an anxious desire to extend the limits of science. To me it does not appear that a discovery of the Longitude, the
Quadrature of the Circle, the Philosopher’s Stone, or even the Universal Panacea itself would be of more service to Adepts and Philosophers
in general, than the Transparent Tète to the Moralist. Independent, therefore of the feelings due to friendship, I have been impelled
by this Journey to the same zeal, which induced our Botanists and Astronomers to traverse the remotest regions of the southern hemisphere,
or the French Academicians to ascend the summits of the highest mountains.
It has heretofore been recorded as the wish of one of the Ancient Sages of Greece, that a Window had been placed in the Breast of Man, that all the World might see what was passing in his Heart. Had that Philosopher lived in the present day, his wish would have been nearly gratified; for when once we are in possession of, and can clearly see through the head, our approaches to the hear will be easy and familiar. Hitherto indeed the thickest heads, such as were hardly worth looking into, have been the only ones, that could be easily seen through; whilst on the contrary, by a strange kind of contradiction, or deceptio visus, those heads which the world in general has pronounced to be the best and the clearest, have been constantly found impervious to the most penetrating Eye. But now, in consequence of this great and ingenious discovery, every Head will hereafter be in this respect at least on a level. And I cannot help reflecting with true patriotic Joy, that the invention has been ushered into the World in a time of profound Peace; it is to be hoped and indeed presumed, that it shall cease to be the Ton long before that this Country shall, in defiance of the Commercial Treaty, be again immersed in all the horrors of War: Because under such lamentable circumstances there is but too much reason to dread, that the secrets of the Cabinet will be exposed and lie entirely at the mercy of a set of unprincipled French Hair-Dressers. At present we must reconcile ourselves to the inconvenience to which it will expose every private family. And so long as the rage continues, I can only advise my fair Readers to be equally circumspect in their thoughts, as in their actions; lest the Operator whilst he appears to be only frizzling, and dabbing, shall be peeping into the inmost recesses of the Soul: — A privilege which I wish as much as possible myself to monopolize.
My Readers, therefore, will not be surprised when I inform them, that I had no sooner parted from my friend Mr. Distich, than I repaired to the place, where I expected to see this truly CAPITAL invention. And here no sooner was I seated, than casting my Eyes around, I began to fancy myself in the Cabinet of some enchanted Castle; in which the Enchantress was herself presiding, and, dealing out her favours to the fairest part of the Creation. I was no longer at a loss to account for the profusion of beauty displayed in our streets, our high roads, and our public places. For hence, as from a grand arsenal, every female charm was perpetually issuing. And when I was beholding the various elegant structures, the Chinons and Cheveleurés de Berenice, the vials, and vases arranged in the most beautiful order, replete with pomades, and essences, and odoriferous perfumes; a reflection of my great predecessor the Spectator came fresh into my mind. That elegant Moralist had informed us, that whenever he beheld a table spread out and decorated with all the profusion of modem luxury, be could not help at the same time imagining that he saw Gouts and Fevers, and Apoplexies, and a variety of other diseases, lying in ambush, and lurking amongst the plates and dishes. Here, on the contrary, was nothing to be seen but the sporting of the Loves and the Graces; for in one little vase was actually condensed the Bloom of the celebrated Ninon De Lenclos; in another the Milk of Roses; whilst a third was pregnant with the Bloom of Circassia. But I shall for the present pass over these, together with the Grecian Compound, the Essence of Pearls, Olympian Dew, and a long list of other celebrated Cosmetics; which shew what astonishing improvements have been made in this art since the Days of Mr. Charles Lilley, the cotemporary and favourite Perfumer of my honoured Progenitors; because I am more anxious to come more immediately to the grand business of the Day.
And here it will be unnecessary to detail every particular circumstance, which preceded my informing the fair Enchantress of the principle Object of my Enquiry. “I presume, Sir, said she, for your lady or daughter, or perhaps for both; — but assuring her that at present I had not the happiness to possess either the one or the other; she appeared much surprised at the oddness of my demand, and with an arch but good-natured smile, at the same time casting an eye towards my dress, looked as much as to say, “Surely, Sir, it can never be intended for the pulpit.” — In short, I informed her without Reserve, that it was really for public service; and that I expected with her assistance, by some little additional Machinery, to make it occasionally fit every head in one of the first Universities in the World. She smiled intelligence; and immediately under my directions began her operations; and with the finest, and most delicate threads of floss silk, and certain little elastic springs and pulleys, in a manner hereafter to be described, executed her task so perfectly to my satisfaction, that like a Sportsman, who gently throws his net over a covey of partridges, I can, whenever I meet with proper game, suspend or let it fall, light as the Gossamer or the flakes of feathered snow, till it settles imperceptibly on the devoted head; and immediately renders every part of the skill similar to those particular portions, which the celebrated Anatomists have pronounced to be diaphanous. In short, it is easy to perceive that in any other hands than mine, it might become very dangerous; but as I shall use it only for the most honourable purposes myself, I will take particular care to bequeath it in my will to the Fellows of ——— College with an express injunction, that it may be suffered to hand up in terrorem, never to be brought out but upon the most public and solemn occasions.
My fair Assistant soon gave me a convincing proof of the efficacy of the Invention; for whilst I was taking a second survey of the scene before me, and like the ancient Sage was exclaiming, “What a variety of articles are here, which I do not want,” she had dextrously placed it on my head: And I could soon distinctly hear her repeating a number of the hints, which I have long been collecting, and storing in my memory for the use of the Loiterer. But suddenly recollecting myself, I slipped my neck out of the collar; and eager for retaliation, was endeavouring in my turn to place it on hers. But stepping back, she exclaimed, “Oh! Sir, not for the World,” and it instantly dropped on the head of a celebrated Naturalist, who had entered, and seated himself, just as this little scene if innocent gallantry and good humour was passing betwixt us. It was, however, entirely disregarded by him; for his eye was immovably fixed on a singular petrefaction, which he imagined he had just picked up from a load of Gravel in the Street: So that we had sufficient opportunity thoroughly to inspect his brain; in which, notwithstanding it still preserved its usual functions, every part had undergone the most curious metamorphoses. The surrounding Membranes, which Anatomists have denominated the dura and the pia Mater, and the arachnoid coat, entirely consisted of the Wings of Moths, and Papilios, arranged in the most exquisite order. The arbor vitæ was every where represented by beautiful ramifications of white Coral; and each particular artery was occupied by a still more delicate branch of red: Whilst all the various external circumvolutions, and internal protuberances, were composed of little beautiful shells, and sparry Incrustations. The Pineal Gland, which had long been the established seat of the Soul, and in which of course the ruling passion is always to be found, was converted into what may be pronounced the summum bonum of a Naturalist’s researches, viz, the Chrisalis or the Nymph of a non descript Butterfly.
Whilst I was contemplating these singular changes, I was suddenly struck with a very odd appearance in the little Caverns, which Anatomists call the Ventricles of the brain. These are well known to contain a clear liquid, which appeared to be in the greatest Commotions, and in which I could observe thousands of little animated masses creeping and striking in every direction. At first I really conceived them to be diminutive Lobsters; but soon discovered, that they were merely the effect of strong imagination in the Philosopher: For upon a nearer inspection they proved to be actually Fleas, which he had in some unaccountable manner conceived to be a species of Lobsters; a conception in which he was soon unalterably confirmed. For at this particular juncture his Operator, who had seen him enter, came up, and wiping his face which appeared heated to an uncommon degree. “Sir, said he, we are all wrong in our conjectures. I have boiled fifteen thousand agreeable to your direction; but only ten have turned red.” “Then, said the Philosopher with a smile of triumph, let them be carefully preserved; there are ten irrefragable proofs of the truth of my general Hypothesis.” The Operator, however, shrugging up his shoulders, begged to know what he was to do with the fourteen thousand nine hundred and ninety, which were not in the least altered. But instead of reply, the Philosopher cast a look of contempt upon the Experimentalist, which convinced me, that ten arguments in favour of a preconceived hypothesis, will at any time outweigh as many thousand to the contrary.
The short limits, to which I am confined, will not permit me to communicate every discovery, which I have already made with this Apparatus; I am therefore under the necessity of referring my Phisiological Readers to a separate and distinct publication, in which I mean to silence every dispute respecting the true nature of the nervous fluid, and the animal spirits. But in regard to the passions of the mind, I shall just hint that I have in some Instances in a moment detected despicable, mean, and contracted Notions lurking in the heads of persons, who have had the art to purloin a character for generosity and public spirit; whilst on the contrary, I have discovered every sentiment of generosity, all the finer feelings of the man of strict honour and integrity, in characters, which the World has hitherto considered of little or no estimation.
I could perceive Eugenio, who has the privilege of perusing these my lucubrations in manuscript, hesitate when he came to the last paragraph; his cheek was instantly covered with crimson; and at that moment I fixed my apparatus on his head. Eugenio, who lives perhaps in too close and retired a manner, is by the World supposed to be in affluent circumstance, and even lately to have had a considerable addition to his fortune. It is his nearest connections alone, who know that the first is a mistaken notion, and that of the latter, from a train of perplexing circumstances, he hath been totally deprived. It was during the pleasing sensations, which arose from a belief of a sudden addition to his fortune, that Eugenio made a promise of a fixed annuity to an indigent Relation, whom he had before only casually relieved; the first payment of which became due on the day that he found himself totally deprived of the fortune, which had induced him to make the promise. Never shall I forget the answer, which he made, when he was urged to retract. “I feel, said he, too sensibly the disappointment, which I have myself sustained; and I request only that the inconvenience, which it will occasion, may never be mentioned, because I am sure it would embitter the comfort, which my little gratuity conveys.”
How different a scene did the Brain of the wealthy Orgillis display! on whose head, while he was poring over the price of stocks, my invention was easily applied. The Dura Mater, which is always the firmest covering to the brain, was here absolutely thickened into parchment, with which every part of the brain was loosely and securely bound. The circulating vessels had taken so extraordinary direction as to represent the foreclosure of a Mortgage; but the inner or more delicate membranes were as yet only thickened into simple bonds and notes of hand. The Pineal Gland, or what I have already described as the seat of the Soul, was swelled into the form of a plumb. Whilst every other part of the brain was become a confused and hardened mass, in which all the delicate circumvolutions, that express the finer feelings of the mind, were totally obliterated. Upon applying to a skilful Anatomist to explain the meaning of this extraordinary Phenomenon, he assured me that it proceeded from a preternatural enlargement of the Corpus Callosum; and that the liquid collected in the Ventricles of an Usurer’ s brain was entirely composed of the tears of the Widow, and the Orphan.
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