I have now with much pains and study conducted the reader to a period where he must expect to hear of great revolutions. For no sooner had our learned brother, so often mentioned, got a warm house of his own over his head, than he began to look big, and to take mightily upon him; insomuch, that unless the gentle reader, out of his great candour, will please a little to exalt his idea, I am afraid he will henceforth hardly know the hero of the play when he happens to meet him; his part, his dress, and his mien being so much altered.
He told his brothers, he would have them to know that he was their elder, and consequently his father's sole heir; nay, a while after, he would not allow them to call him brother, but Mr PETER; and then he must be styled Father PETER; and sometimes, My Lord PETER. To support this grandeur, which he soon began to consider could not be maintained without a better fonde than what he was born to;104 after much thought, he cast about at last to turn projector and virtuoso, wherein he so well succeeded, that many famous discoveries, projects, and machines, which bear great vogue and practice at present in the world, are owing entirely to lord Peter's invention. I will deduce the best account I have been able to collect of the chief among them, without considering much the order they came out in; because, I think, authors are not well agreed as to that point.
I hope, when this treatise of mine shall be translated into foreign languages (as I may without vanity affirm, that the labour of collecting, the faithfulness in recounting, and the great usefulness of the matter to the public, will amply deserve that justice), that the worthy members of the several academies abroad, especially those of France and Italy, will favourably accept these humble offers for the advancement of universal knowledge. I do also advertise the most reverend fathers the Eastern missionaries, that I have, purely for their sakes, made use of such words and phrases as will best admit an easy turn into any of the oriental languages, especially the Chinese. And so I proceed with great content of mind, upon reflecting how much emolument this whole globe of earth is like to reap by my labours.
The first undertaking of lord Peter was, to purchase a large continent, lately said to have been discovered in Terra Australis Incognita. This tract of land he bought at a very great pennyworth from the discoverers themselves (though some pretend to doubt whether they had ever been there), and then retailed it into several cantons to certain dealers, who carried over colonies, but were all shipwrecked in the voyage. Upon which lord Peter sold the said continent to other customers again, and again, and again, and again, with the same success.105
The second project I shall mention, was his sovereign remedy for the worms, especially those in the spleen.106 The patient was to eat nothing after supper for three nights; as soon as he went to bed, he was carefully to lie on one side, and when he grew weary to turn upon the other; he must also duly confine his two eyes to the same object; and by no means break wind at both ends together without manifest occasion. These prescriptions diligently observed, the worms would void insensibly by perspiration, ascending through the brain.
A third invention was the erecting of a whispering-office,107 for the public good and ease
p.69of all such as are hypochondriacal or troubled with the colic; as [likewise of all eavesdroppers, physicians,] midwives, small politicians, friends fallen out, repeating poets, lovers happy or in despair, bawds, privy-counsellors, pages, parasites, and buffoons: in short, of all such as are in danger of bursting with too much wind. An ass's head was placed so conveniently, that the party affected might easily with his mouth accost either of the animal's ears; to which he was to apply close for a certain space, and by a fugitive faculty, peculiar to the ears of that animal, receive immediate benefit, either by eructation, or expiration, or evomition.
Another very beneficial project of lord Peter's was an office of insurance for tobacco-pipes, martyrs of the modern zeal, volumes of poetry, shadows, [...], and rivers; that these, nor any of these, shall receive damage by fire.108 Whence our friendly societies may plainly find themselves to be only transcribers from this original; though the one and the other have been of great benefit to the undertakers, as well as of equal to the public.
Lord Peter was also held the original author of puppets and raree-shows;109 the great usefulness whereof being so generally known, I shall not enlarge farther upon this particular.
But another discovery for which he was much renowned, was his famous universal pickle. For having remarked how your common pickle in use among housewives was of no farther benefit than to preserve dead flesh, and certain kinds of vegetables; Peter, with great cost as well as art, had contrived a pickle proper for houses, gardens, towns, men, women, children, and cattle; wherein he could preserve them as sound as insects in amber. Now, this pickle to the taste, the smell, and the sight, appeared exactly the same with what is in common service for beef, and butter, and herrings, and has been often that way applied with great success; but for its many sovereign virtues, [it] was a quite different thing. For Peter would put in a certain quantity of his powder pimperlimpimp,110 after which it never failed of success. The operation was performed by spargefaction in a proper time of the moon. The patient who was to be pickled, if it were a house, would infallibly be preserved from all spiders, rats, and weasels; if the party affected were a dog, he should be exempt from mange, and madness, and hunger. It also infallibly took away all scabs, and lice, and scalled heads from children, never hindering the patient from any duty, either at bed or board.
But of all Peter's rarities, he most valued a certain set of bulls,111 whose race was by great fortune preserved in a lineal descent from those that guarded the golden fleece. Though some, who pretended to observe them curiously, doubted the breed had not been kept entirely chaste; because they had degenerated from their ancestors in some qualities, and had acquired others very extraordinary, by a foreign mixture. The bulls of Colchis are recorded to have brazen feet: but whether it happened by ill pasture and running, by an alloy from intervention of other parents, from stolen intrigues; whether a weakness in their progenitors had impaired the seminal virtue, or by a decline necessary through a long course of time, the originals of nature being depraved in these latter sinful ages of the world; whatever was the cause, it is certain that lord Peter's bulls were extremely vitiated by the rust of time in the metal of their feet, which was now sunk into common lead. However, the terrible roaring peculiar to their lineage was preserved; as likewise that faculty of breathing out fire from their nostrils; which, notwithstanding, many of their detractors took to be a feat of art, to be nothing so terrible as it appeared, proceeding only from their usual course of diet, which was of squibs and crackers.112 However, they had two peculiar marks, which extremely distinguished them from the bulls of Jason, and which I have not met together in the description of any other monster, beside that in Horace: Varias inducere plumas;
Horace, De arte poetica liber, 1.and Atrum desinat in piscem.
Horace, De arte poetica liber, 1.
For these had fishes' tails, yet upon occasion could outfly any bird in the air. Peter put these bulls upon several employs. Sometimes he would set them a-roaring to fright naughty boys, and make them quiet. Sometimes he would send them out upon errands of great importance; where, it is wonderful to recount (and perhaps the cautious reader may think much to believe it) an appetitus sensibilis deriving itself through the whole family from their noble ancestors, guardians of the golden fleece, they continued so extremely fond of gold, that if Peter sent them abroad, though it were only upon a compliment, they would roar, and spit, and belch, and piss, and fart, and snivel out fire, and keep a perpetual coil, till you flung them a bit of gold; but then, pulveris exigui jactu, they would grow calm and quiet as lambs. In short, whether by secret connivance, or encouragement from their master, or out of their own liquorish affection to gold, or both; it is certain they were no better than a sort of sturdy, swaggering beggars; and where they could not prevail to get an alms, would make women miscarry, and children fall into fits, who to this very day usually call sprights
p.70and hobgoblins by the name of bull-beggars.113 They grew at last so very troublesome to the neighbourhood, that some gentlemen of the north-west got a parcel of right English bull-dogs, and baited them so terribly, that they felt it ever after.
I must needs mention one more of lord Peter's projects, which was very extraordinary, and discovered him to be master of a high reach and profound invention. Whenever it happened that any rogue of Newgate was condemned to be hanged, Peter would offer him a pardon for a certain sum of money; which when the poor caitiff had made all shifts to scrape up and send, his lordship would return a piece of paper in this form:114
To all mayors, sheriffs, jailors, constables, bailiffs, hangmen, &c. Whereas we are informed that A. B. remains in the hands of you, or some of you, under the sentence of death. We will and command you, upon sight hereof, to let the said prisoner depart to his own habitation, whether he stands condemned for murder, sodomy, rape, sacrilege, incest, treason, blasphemy, &c., for which this shall be your sufficient warrant; and if you fail hereof, G d you and yours to eternity. And so we bid you heartily farewell. Your most humble man's man, Emperor PETER.
The wretches trusting to this, lost their lives and money too.
I desire of thise whom the learned among posterity will appoint for commentators upon this elaborate treatise, that they will proceed with great caution upon certain dark points, wherein all who are not vere adepti" may be in danger to form rash and hasty conclusions, especially in some mysterious paragraphs, where certain arcana are joined for brevity's sake, which in the operation must be divided. And I am certain that future sons of art will return large thanks to my menory for so grateful, so useful an innuendo.
It will be no difficult part to persuade the reader, that so many worthy discoveries met with great success in the world; though I may justly assure him that I have related much the smallest number; my design having been only to single out such as will be of most benefit for public imitation, or which best served to give some idea of the reach and wit of the inventor. And therefore it need not be wondered at if by this time lord Peter was become exceeding rich: but, alas! he had kept his brain so long and violently upon the rack, that at last it shook itself, and began to turn round for a little ease. In short, what with pride, projects, and knavery, poor Peter was grown distracted, and conceived the strangest imaginations in the world. In the height of his fits, as it is usual with those who run mad out of pride, he would call himself God Almighty, and sometimes monarch of the universe.115 I have seen him (says my author) take three old high-crowned hats, and clap them all on his head, three story high, with a huge bunch of keys at his girdle, and an angling rod in his hand.116 In which guise, whoever went to take him by the hand in the way of salutation, Peter with much grace, like a well-educated spaniel, would present them with his foot,117 and if they refused his civility, then he would raise it as high as their chaps, and give them a dd kick on the mouth, which has ever since been called a salute. Whoever walked by without paying him their compliments, having a wonderful strong breath, he would blow their hats off into the dirt.118 Meantime his affairs at home went upside down, and his two brothers had a wretched time; where his first boutade119 was to kick both their wives one morning out of doors, and his own too;120 and in their stead gave orders to pick up the first three strollers could be met with in the streets. A while after he nailed up the cellar-door, and would not allow his brothers a drop of drink to their victuals.121 Dining one day at an alderman's in the city, Peter observed him expatiating after the manner of his brethren, in the praises of his sirloin of beef. Beef, said the sage magistrate, is the king of meat; beef comprehends in it the quintessence of partridge, and quail, and venison, and pheasant, and plum-pudding, and custard. When Peter came home he would needs take the fancy of cooking up this doctrine into use, and apply the precept in default of a sirloin, to his brown loaf: Bread, says he, dear brothers, is the staff of life; in which bread is contained, inclusive, the quintessence of beef, mutton, veal, venison, partridge, plum-pudding, and custard; and, to render all complete, there is intermingled a due quantity of water, whose crudities are also corrected by yeast or barm, through which means it becomes a wholesome fermented liquor diffused through the mass of the bread. Upon the strength of these conclusions, next day at dinner, was the brown loaf served up in all the formality of a city feast. Come, brothers, said Peter, fall to, and spare not; here is excellent good mutton;122 or hold, now my hand
p.71is in, I will help you. At which word, in much ceremony, with fork and knife he carves out two good slices of a loaf, and presents each on a plate to his brothers. The elder of the two, not suddenly entering into lord Peter's conceit, began with very civil language to examine the mystery. My lord, said he, I doubt, with great submission, there may be some mistake. What, says Peter, you are pleasant; come then, let us hear this jest your head is so big with. None in the world, my lord; but unless I am very much deceived, your lordship was pleased a while ago to let fall a word about mutton, and I would be glad to see it with all my heart. How, said Peter, appearing in great surprise, I do not comprehend this at all. Upon which the younger interposing to set the business aright, My lord, said he, my brother I suppose is hungry, and longs for the mutton your lordship has promised us to dinner. Pray, said Peter, take me along with you; either you are both mad, or disposed to be merrier than I approve of; if you there do not like your piece I will carve you another; though I should take that to be the choice bit of the whole shoulder. What then, my lord, replied the first, it seems this is a shoulder of mutton all this while? Pray, sir, says Peter, eat your victuals, and leave off your impertinence, if you please, for I am not disposed to relish it at present. But the other could not forbear, being over-provoked at the affected seriousness of Peter's countenance: By G, my lord, said he, I can only say, that to my eyes, and fingers, and teeth, and nose, it seems to be nothing but a crust of bread. Upon which the second put in his word: I never saw a piece of mutton in my life so nearly resembling a slice from a twelve-penny loaf. Look ye, gentlemen, cries Peter, in a rage; to convince you what a couple of blind, positive, ignorant, wilful puppies you are, I will use but this plain argument: by G, it is true, good, natural mutton as any in Leadenhall-market; and G confound you both eternally, if you offer to believe otherwise. Such a thundering proof as this left no farther room for objection; the two unbelievers began to gather and pocket up their mistake as hastily as they could. Why, truly, said the first, upon more mature consideration Ay, says the other, interrupting him, now I have thought better on the thing, your lordship seems to have a great deal of reason. Very well, said Peter, here, boy, fill me a beer-glass of claret; here's to you both with all my heart. The two brethren, much delighted to see him so readily appeased, returned their most humble thanks, and said they would be glad to pledge his lordship. That you shall, said Peter, I am not a person to refuse you anything that is reasonable; wine, moderately taken, is a cordial; here is a glass a-piece for you; it is true natural juice from the grape, none of your dd vintner's brewings. Having spoke thus, he presented to each of them another large dry crust, bidding them drink it off, and not be bashful, for it would do them no hurt. The two brothers, after having performed the usual office in such delicate conjunctures, of staring a sufficient period at lord Peter and each other, and finding how matters were likely to go, resolved not to enter on a new dispute, but let him carry the point as he pleased; for he was now got into one of his mad fits, and to argue or expostulate further, would only serve to render him a hundred times more untractable.
I have chosen to relate this worthy matter in all its circumstances, because it gave a principal occasion to that great and famous rupture123 which happened about the same time among these brethren, and was never afterwards made up. But of that I shall treat at large in another section.
However, it is certain that lord Peter, even in his lucid intervals, was very lewdly given in his common conversation, extreme wilful and positive, and would at any time rather argue to the death, than allow himself to be once in an error. Besides, he had an abominable faculty of telling huge palpable lies upon all occasions; and not only swearing to the truth, but cursing the whole company to hell, if they pretended to make the least scruple of believing him.124 One time he swore he had a cow at home which gave as much milk at a meal as would fill three thousand churches; and, what was yet more extraordinary, [the milk] would never turn sour. Another time he was telling of an old sign-post that belonged to his father, with nails and timber enough on it to build sixteen large men of war. Talking one day of Chinese waggons, which were made so light as to sail over mountains, Znds, said Peter, where's the wonder of that? By G, I saw a large house of lime and stone travel over sea and land, (granting that it stopped sometimes to bait) above two thousand German leagues.125 And, that which was the good of it, he would swear desperately all the while, that he never
p.72told a lie in his life; and at every word, By G, gentlemen, I tell you nothing but the truth; and the devil broil them eternally that will not believe me.
In short, Peter grew so scandalous, that all the neighbourhood began in plain words to say, he was no better than a knave. And his two brothers, long weary of his ill usage, resolved at last to leave him; but first, they humbly desired a copy of their father's will, which had now lain by neglected time out of mind. Instead of granting this request, he called them dd sons of whores, rogues, traitors, and the rest of the vile names he could muster up. However, while he was abroad one day upon his projects, the two youngsters watched their opportunity, made a shift to come at the will, and took a copia vera,126 by which they presently saw how grossly they had been abused; their father having left them equal heirs, and strictly commanded that whatever they got should lie in common among them all. Pursuant to which their next enterprise was to break open the cellar-door, and get a little good drink,127 to spirit and comfort their hearts. In copying the will they had met another precept against whoring, divorce, and separate maintenance; upon which their next work was to discard their concubines, and send for their wives.128 While all this was in agitation, there enters a solicitor from Newgate, desiring lord Peter would please procure a pardon for a thief that was to be hanged to-morrow. But the two brothers told him, he was a coxcomb to seek pardons from a fellow who deserved to be hanged much better than his client; and discovered all the method of that imposture in the same form I delivered it a while ago, advising the solicitor to put his friend upon obtaining a pardon from the king.129 In the midst of all this clutter and revolution, in comes Peter with a file of dragoons at his heels;130 and gathering from all hands what was in the wind, he and his gang, after several millions of scurrilities and curses not very important here to repeat, by main force very fairly kicked them both out of doors, and would never let them come under his roof from that day to this.131