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I went into another room, where the walls and ceiling were all hung round with cobwebs, except a narrow passage for the artist to go in and out. At my entrance, he called aloud to me not to disturb his webs. He lamented the fatal mistake the world had been so long in, of using silk-worms, while we had such plenty of domestic insects, who infinitely excelled the former, because they understood how to weave as well as spin. And he proposed further, that by employing spiders, the charge of dyeing silks would be wholly saved; whereof I was fully convinced when he shewed me a vast number of flies most beautifully coloured, wherewith he fed his spiders; assuring us that the webs would take a tincture from them; and as he had them of all hues, he hoped to fit everybody's fancy, as soon as he could find proper food for the flies, of certain gums, oils, and other glutinous matter, to give a strength and consistence to the threads.
There was an astronomer who had undertaken to place a sundial upon the great weather-cock on the town-house, by adjusting the annual and diurnal motions of the earth and sun, so as to answer and coincide with all accidental turning of the winds.
I visited many other apartments, but shall not trouble my reader with all the curiosities I observed, being studious of brevity.
We crossed a walk to the other part of the academy, where, as I have already said, the projectors in speculative learning resided.
The first professor I saw was in a very large room, with forty pupils about him. After salutation, observing me to look earnestly upon a frame which took up the greatest part of both the length and breadth of the room, he said, perhaps I might wonder to see him employed in a project for improving speculative knowledge by practical and mechanical operations. But the world would soon be sensible of its usefulness, and he flattered himself that a more noble exalted thought never sprang in any other man's head. Every one knew how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts and sciences; whereas by his contrivance, the most ignorant person, at a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, may write books in philosophy, poetry, politics, law, mathematics, and theology, without the least assistance from genius or study. He then led me to the frame, about the sides whereof all his pupils stood in ranks. It was twenty feet square, placed in the middle of the room. The superficies was composed of several bits of wood, about the bigness of a die, but some larger than others. They were all linked together by slender wires. These bits of wood were covered on
every square with paper pasted on them; and on these papers were written all the words of their language in their several moods, tenses, and declensions, but without any order. The professor then desired me to observe, for he was going to set his engine at work. The pupils, at his command, took each of them hold of an iron handle, whereof there were forty fixed round the edges of the frame, and giving them a sudden turn, the whole disposition of the words was entirely changed. He then commanded six-andthirty of the lads to read the several lines softly as they appeared upon the frame; and where they found three or four words together that might make part of a sentence, they dictated to the four remaining boys, who were scribes. This work was repeated three or four times, and at every turn the engine was so contrived, that the words shifted into new places as the square bits of wood moved upside down.
Six hours a day the young students were employed in this labour; and the professor shewed me several volumes in large folio, already collected, of broken sentences, which he intended to piece together, and out of those rich materials to give the world a complete body of all arts and sciences, which, however, might be still improved, and much expedited, if the public would raise a fund for making and employing five hundred such frames in Lagado, and oblige the managers to contribute in common their several collections.
He assured me that this invention had employed all his thoughts from his youth; that he had emptied the whole vocabulary into his frame, and made the strictest computation of the general proportion there is in books between the numbers of particles, nouns, and verbs, and other parts of speech.
I made my humblest acknowledgments to this illustrious person for his great communicativeness, and promised, if ever I had the good-fortune to return to my native country, that I would do him justice, as the sole inventor of this wonderful machine, the form and contrivance of which I desired leave to delineate upon paper. I told him, although it were the custom of our learned in Europe to steal inventions from each other, who had thereby at least this advantage, that it became a controversy which was the right owner, yet I would take such caution that he should have the honour entire without a rival.
We next went to the school of languages, where three professors sat in consultation upon improving that of their own country.
The first project was to shorten discourse by cutting polysyllables into one, and leaving out verbs and participles; because, in reality, all things imaginable are but nouns.
The other was a scheme for entirely abolishing all words whatsoever; and this was urged as a great advantage in point of health as well as brevity; for, it is plain, that every word we speak is in some degree a diminution of our lungs by corrosion, and consequently contributes to the shortening of our lives. An expedient was therefore offered, that since words are only names for things, it would be more convenient for all men to carry about them such things as were necessary to express the particular business they are to discourse on. And this invention would certainly have taken place, to the great ease as well as health of the subject, if the women, in conjunction with the vulgar and illiterate, had not threatened to raise a rebellion, unless they might be allowed the liberty to speak with their tongues, after the manner of their forefathers; such constant irreconcilable enemies to science are the common people. However, many of the most learned and wise adhere to the new scheme of expressing themselves by things; which hath only this inconvenience attending it, that if a man's business be very great, and of various kinds, he must be obliged in proportion to carry a greater bundle of things upon his back, unless he can afford one or two strong servants to attend him. I have often beheld two of those sages almost sinking under the weight of their packs, like pedlers among us, who, when they met in the streets, would lay down their loads, open their sacks, and hold conversation for an hour together; then put up their implements, help each other to resume their burdens, and take their leave. But for short conversations, a man may carry implements in his pockets and under his arms, enough to supply him, and in his house he cannot be at a loss; therefore the room where company meet to practise this art is full of all things ready at hand, requisite to furnish matter for this kind of artificial converse.
Another great advantage proposed by this invention was, that it would serve as a universal language to be understood in all civilised nations, whose goods and utensils are generally of the same kind, or nearly resembling, so that their uses might easily be comprehended. And thus ambassadors would be qualified to treat with foreign princes or ministers of state, to whose tongues they were utter strangers.
LORD BOLINGBROKE: 1678-1751.
Henry St John Viscount Bolingbroke was a secretary of state in the reign of Queen Anne. On the accession of George I. he fled to France, to avoid a threatened impeachment. Being pardoned in 1723, he returned to England, but in 1735 again retired to France for seven years. His chief works are Letters on the Study of History, Letters on the Spirit of Patriotism, The Idea of a Patriot King, and Philosophical Essays. The matter of Bolingbroke's works is of little value, owing to the unsoundness of his principles both in religion and in philosophy, but his style is singularly eloquent and highly polished.
NATIONAL PARTIALITY AND PREJUDICE.
From Letters on the Study of History.
There is scarce any folly or vice more epidemical among the sons of men than that ridiculous and hurtful vanity by which the people of each country are apt to prefer themselves to those of every other; and to make their own customs, and manners, and opinions the standards of right and wrong, of true and false.
Now, nothing can contribute more to prevent us from being tainted with this vanity, than to accustom ourselves early to contemplate the different nations of the earth, in that vast map which history spreads before us, in their rise and their fall, in their barbarous and civilised states, in the likeness and unlikeness of them all to one another, and of each to itself. By frequently renewing this prospect to the mind, the Mexican with his cap and coat of feathers, sacrificing a human victim to his god, will not appear more savage to our eyes than the Spaniard with a hat on his head, and a gonilla round his neck, sacrificing whole nations to his ambition, his avarice, and even the wantonness of his cruelty. I might shew, by a multitude of other examples, how history prepares us for experience, and guides us in it; and many of these would be both curious and important. I might likewise bring several other instances, wherein history serves to purge the mind of those national partialities and prejudices that we are apt to contract in our education, and that experience for the most part rather confirms than removes; because it is for the most part confined, like our education. But I apprehend growing too prolix, and shall therefore conclude this head by observing, that though an early and
proper application to the study of history will contribute extremely to keep our minds free from a ridiculous partiality in favour of our own country, and a vicious prejudice against others, yet the same study will create in us a preference of affection to our own country. There is a story told of Abgarus. He brought several beasts taken in different places to Rome, they say, and let them loose before Augustus; every beast ran immediately to that part of the circus where a parcel of earth taken from his native soil had been laid. This tale might pass on Josephus; for in him, I believe, I read it; but surely the love of our country is a lesson of reason, not an institution of nature. Education and habit, obligation and interest, attach us to it, not instinct. It is, however, so necessary to be cultivated, and the prosperity of all societies, as well as the grandeur of some, depends upon it so much, that orators by their eloquence, and poets by their enthusiasm, have endeavoured to work up this precept of morality into a principle of passion. But the examples which we find in history, improved by the lively descriptions and the just applauses or censures of historians, will have a much better and more permanent effect than declamation, or song, or the dry ethics of mere philosophy.
THE PATRIOT KING. From The Idea of a Patriot King.
The good of the people is the ultimate and true end of government. Governors are therefore appointed for this end, and the civil constitution which appoints them, and invests them with their power, is determined to do so by that law of nature and reason which has determined the end of government, and which admits this form of government as the proper mean of arriving at it. Now the greatest good of a people is their liberty; and in the case here referred to, the people has judged it so, and provided for it accordingly. Liberty is to the collective body, what health is to the individual body: without health no pleasure can be tasted by man, without liberty no happiness can be enjoyed by society. The obligation, therefore, to defend and maintain the freedom of such constitutions will appear most sacred to a patriot king. Kings who have weak understandings, bad hearts, and strong prejudices, and all these, as it often happens, inflamed by their passions, and rendered incurable by their self-conceit and presumption, such kings are apt to imagine, and they conduct themselves so as to make many of their subjects imagine, that the king and the people in free