It gives me much Despair in the Design of reforming the World by my Speculations, when I find there always arise, from one Generation to another, successive Cheats and Bubbles, as naturally as Beasts of Prey, and those which are to be their Food. There is hardly a Man in the World, one would think, so ignorant, as not to know that the ordinary Quack Doctors, who publish their great Abilities in little brown Billets, distributed to all who pass by, are to a Man Impostors and Murderers; yet such is the Credulity of the Vulgar, and the Impudence of these Professors, that the Affair still goes on, and new Promises of what was never done before are made every Day. What aggravates the Just is, that even this Promise has been made as long as the Memory of Man can trace it, and yet nothing performed, and yet still prevails. As I was passing along to-day, a Paper given into my Hand by a Fellow without a Nose tells us as follows what good News is come to Town, to wit, that there is now a certain Cure for the French Disease, by a Gentleman just come from his Travels.
"In Russel-Court, over-against the Cannon-Ball, at the Surgeon's Arms in Drury-Lane, is lately come from his Travels a Surgeon who has practised Surgery and Physick both by Sea and Land these twenty four Years. He (by the Blessing) cures the Yellow Jaundice, Green Sickness, Scurvy, Dropsy, Surfeits, long Sea Voyages, Campains, and Womens Miscarriages, Lying-Inn, &c. as some People that has been lame these thirty Years can testifie; in short, he cureth all Diseases incident to Men, Women, or Children ."
If a Man could be so indolent as to look upon this Havock of the human Species which is made by Vice and Ignorance, it would be a good ridiculous Work to comment upon the Declaration of this accomplished Traveller. There is something unaccountably taking among the Vulgar in those who come from a great Way off. Ignorant People of Quality, as many there are of such, doat excessively this Way; many Instances of which every Man will suggest to himself without my Enumeration of them. The Ignorants of lower Order, who cannot, like the upper Ones, be profuse of their Money to those recommended by coming from a Distance, are no less complaisant than the others, for they venture their Lives from the same Admiration.
The Doctor is lately come from his Travels, and has practised both by Sea and Land, and therefore Cures the Green Sickness, long Sea Voyages, Campains, and Lying-Inn. Both by Sea and Land!--I will not answer for the Distempers called Sea Voyages and Campains; But I dare say, those of Green Sickness and Lying-Inn might be as well taken Care of if the Doctor staid a-shoar. But the Art of managing Mankind, is only to make them stare a little, to keep up their Astonishment, to let nothing be familiar to them, but ever to have something in your Sleeve, in which they must think you are deeper than they are. There is an ingenious Fellow, a Barber, of my Acquaintance, who, besides his broken Fiddle and a dryed Sea-Monster, has a Twine-Cord, strained with two Nails at each End, over his Window, and the Words Rainy, Dry, Wet, and so forth, written, to denote the Weather according to the Rising or Falling of the Cord. We very great Scholars are not apt to wonder at this: But I observed a very honest Fellow, a chance Customer, who sate in the Chair before me to be shaved, fix his Eye upon this Miraculous Performance during the Operation upon his Chin and Face. When those and his Head also were cleared of all Incumbrances and Excrescences, he looked at the Fish, then at the Fiddle, still grubling in his Pockets, and casting his Eye again at the Twine, and the Words writ on each Side; then altered his mind as to Farthings, and gave my Friend a Silver Six-pence. The Business, as I said, is to keep up the Amazement; and if my Friend had had only the Skeleton and Kitt, he must have been contented with a less Payment. But the Doctor we were talking of, adds to his long Voyages the Testimony of some People that has been thirty Years lame. When I received my Paper, a sagacious Fellow took one at the same time, and read till he came to the Thirty Years Confinement of his Friends, and went off very well convinced of the Doctor's Sufficiency. You have many of these prodigious Persons, who have had some extraordinary Accident at their Birth, or a great Disaster in some Part of their Lives. Any thing, however foreign from the Business the People want of you, will convince them of your Ability in that you profess. There is a Doctor in Mouse-Alley near Wapping, who sets up for curing Cataracts upon the Credit of having, as his Bill sets forth, lost an Eye in the Emperor's Service. His Patients come in upon this, and he shews the Muster-Roll, which confirms that he was in his Imperial Majesty's Troops; and he puts out their Eyes with great Success. Who would believe that a Man should be a Doctor for the Cure of bursten Children, by declaring that his Father and Grandfather were [born ] bursten? But Charles Ingoltson, next Door to the Harp in Barbican, has made a pretty Penny by that Asseveration. The Generality go upon their first Conception, and think no further; all the rest is granted. They take it, that there is something uncommon in you, and give you Credit for the rest. You may be sure it is upon that I go, when sometimes, let it be to the Purpose or not, I keep a Latin Sentence in my Front; and I was not a little pleased when I observed one of my Readers say, casting his Eye on my twentieth Paper, More Latin still? What a prodigious Scholar is this Man! But as I have here taken much Liberty with this learned Doctor, I must make up all I have said by repeating what he seems to be in Earnest in, and honestly promise to those who will not receive him as a great Man; to wit, That from Eight to Twelve, and from Two till Six, he attends for the good of the Publick to bleed for Three Pence.
[Footnote 1: [--Dignum tanto feret hic promissor hiatu.--Hor.]]
[Footnote 2: In the first issue the whole bill was published. Two-thirds of it, including its more infamous part, was omitted from the reprint, and the reader will, I hope, excuse me the citation of it in this place.
[Footnote 3: both]Translation of motto: