Every one has heard of the Famous Conjurer, who, according to the Opinion of the Vulgar, has studied himself dumb; for which Reason, as it is believed, he delivers out all his Oracles in Writing. Be that as it will, the blind Tiresias was not more famous in Greece, than this dumb Artist has been, for some Years last past, in the Cities of London and Westminster. Thus much for the profound Gentleman who honours me with the following Epistle.
From my Cell, June 24, 1714.
'Being informed that you have lately got the Use of your Tongue, I have some Thoughts of following your Example, that I may be a Fortune-teller properly speaking. I am grown weary of my Taciturnity, and having served my Country many Years under the Title of the dumb Doctor, I shall now prophesie by Word of Mouth, and (as Mr. Lee says of the Magpie, who you know was a great Fortune-teller among the Ancients) chatter Futurity. I have hitherto chosen to receive Questions and return Answers in Writing, that I might avoid the Tediousness and Trouble of Debates, my Querists being generally of a Humour to think, that they have never Predictions enough for their Mony. In short, Sir, my Case has been something like that of those discreet Animals the Monkeys, who, as the Indians tell us, can speak if they would, but purposely avoid it that they may not be made to work. I have hitherto gained a Livelyhood by holding my Tongue, but shall now open my Mouth in order to fill it. If I appear a little Word-bound in my first Solutions and Responses, I hope it will not be imputed to any Want of Foresight, but to the long Disuse of Speech. I doubt not by this Invention to have all my former Customers over again, for if I have promised any of them Lovers or Husbands, Riches or good Luck, it is my Design to confirm to them vivâ voce, what I have already given them under my Hand. If you will honour me with a Visit, I will compliment you with the first opening of my Mouth, and if you please you may make an entertaining Dialogue out of the Conversation of two dumb Men. Excuse this Trouble, worthy Sir, from one who has been a long time
Your Silent Admirer, Cornelius Agrippa.'
I have received the following Letter, or rather Billet-doux, from a pert young Baggage, who congratulates with me upon the same Occasion.
June 23, 1714.
Dear Mr. Prate-apace,
'I am a Member of a Female Society who call ourselves the Chit-Chat Club, and am ordered by the whole Sisterhood, to congratulate you upon the Use of your Tongue. We have all of us a mighty Mind to hear you talk, and if you will take your Place among us for an Evening, we have unanimously agreed to allow you one Minute in ten, without Interruption.
I am, SIR, Your Humble Servant, S. T.
P. S. 'You may find us at my Lady Betty Clack's, who will leave Orders with her Porter, that if an elderly Gentleman, with a short Face, enquires for her, he shall be admitted and no Questions asked.
As this particular Paper shall consist wholly of what I have received from my Correspondents, I shall fill up the remaining Part of it with other congratulatory Letters of the same Nature.
Oxford, June 25, 1714.
'We are here wonderfully pleased with the Opening of your Mouth, and very frequently open ours in Approbation of your Design; especially since we find you are resolved to preserve your Taciturnity as to all Party Matters. We do not question but you are as great an Orator as Sir Hudibras, of whom the Poet sweetly sings,
'--He could not ope His Mouth, but out there flew a Trope.'
'If you will send us down the Half-dozen well-turned Periods, that produced such dismal Effects in your Muscles, we will deposite them near an old Manuscript of Tully's Orations, among the Archives of the University; for we all agree with you, that there is not a more remarkable Accident recorded in History, since that which happened to the Son of Croesus, nay, I believe you might have gone higher, and have added Balaam's Ass. We are impatient to see more of your Productions, and expect what Words will next fall from you, with as much attention as those, who were set to watch the speaking Head which Friar Bacon formerly erected in this Place. We are,
Worthy SIR, Your most humble Servants, B. R. T. D., &c.
Middle-Temple, June 24.
'I am very glad to hear that thou beginnest to prate; and find, by thy Yesterday's Vision, thou art so used to it, that thou canst not forbear talking in thy Sleep. Let me only advise thee to speak like other Men, for I am afraid thou wilt be very Queer, if thou dost not intend to use the Phrases in Fashion, as thou callest them in thy Second Paper. Hast thou a Mind to pass for a Bantamite, or to make us all Quakers? I do assure thee, Dear SPEC, I am not Polished out of my Veracity, when I subscribe my self
Thy Constant Admirer, and humble Servant, Frank Townly.Translation of motto: