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BOOK I. CHAP. I.
OF THE PARENTAGE AND FAMILY OF SCRIBLERUS, HOW HE WAS BEGOT, WHAT CARE WAS TAKEN OF HIM BEFORE HE WAS BORN, AND WHAT PRODIGIES ATTENDED HIS BIRTH.
In the City of Munster in Germany, lived a grave and learned Gentleman, by Profession an Antiquary; who, among all his invaluable curiosities, esteemed none more highly, than a Skin of the true Perga
Memoirs] Mr. Pope, Dr. Arbuthnot, and Dr. Swift, in conjunction, formed the project of a satire on the abuses of human learning; and to make it the better received, proposed to execute it in the manner of Cervantes (the original author of this species of satire) under a continued narrative of feigned adventures. They had observed that those abuses still kept their ground against all that the ablest and gravest authors could say to discredit them; they concluded therefore, the force of ridicule was wanting to quicken their disgrace; and ridicule was here in its place, when the abuses had been already detected by sober reasoning; and truth in no danger to suffer by the premature use of so powerful an instrument. But the separation of our Author and his friends, which soon after happened, with the death of one, and the infirmities of the other, put a final period to their de
menian Parchment, which hung at the upper end of his hall. On this was curiously traced the ancient Pedigree of the Scribleri, with all their Alliances and collateral Relations (among which were reckoned Albertus Magnus, Paracelsus Bombastus, and the famous Scaligers, in old times Princes of Verona), and deduced even from the times of the Elder Pliny to Cornelius Scriblerus: for such was the name of this venerable Personage; whose glory it was, that, by the singular Virtue of the Women, not one had a Head of a different Cast from his family.
His wife was a Lady of singular beauty, whom not for that reason only he espoused, but because she was undoubted daughter either of the great Scriverius, or of Gasper Barthius. It happened on a time, the said Gasper made a visit to Scriverius at Harlem, taking with him a comely Lady of his acquaintance, who was skilful in the Greek Tongue, of whom the learned Scriverius became so enamoured, as to inebriate his friend, and be familiar with his Mistress. I am not ignorant of what 'Columesius affirms, that the learned
sign, when they had only drawn out an imperfect essay towards it, under the title of The First Book of the Memoirs of Scriblerus.
Moral satire never lost more than in the defeat of this project; in the execution of which, each of this illustrious triumvirate would have found exercise for his own peculiar talent; besides constant employment for those they all had in common. Dr. Arbuthnot was skilled in every thing which related to science; Mr. Pope was a master in the fine arts; and Dr. Swift excelled in the knowledge of the world. Wit they had all in equal measure, and in a measure so large, that no age perhaps ever produced three men, to whom Nature had more bountifully bestowed it, or in whom Art had brought it to higher perfection. W.
1 Columesius relates this from Isaac Vossius, in his Opuscul. p. 102. P.
Barthius was not so overtaken, but he perceived it; and in Revenge suffered this unfortunate Gentlewoman to be drowned in the Rhine at her return. But Mrs. Scriblerus (the Issue of that Amour) was a living proof of the falsehood of this report. Dr. Cornelius was farther induced to his marriage, from the certain information that the aforesaid Lady, the mother of his wife, was related to Cardan on the father's side, and to Aldrovandus on the mother's: besides which, her Ancestors had been professors of Physic, Astrology, or Chemistry, in German Universities, from generation to generation.
With this fair Gentlewoman had our Doctor lived in a comfortable Union for about ten years: but this our sober and orderly pair, without any natural infirmity, and with a constant and frequent compliance to the chief duty of conjugal life, were yet unhappy, in that Heaven had not blessed them with any Issue. This was the utmost grief to the good man; especially considering what exact Precautions and Methods he had used to procure that Blessing; for he never had cohabitation with his spouse, but he pondered on the Rules of the Ancients, for the generation of Children of Wit. He ordered his diet according to the prescription of Galen, confining himself and his Wife for almost the whole first year to "Goat's Milk and Honey. It unfortunately befel her, when she was about four months gone with child, to long for somewhat, which that Author inveighs against as prejudicial to the understanding of the
2 Galen Lib. de Cibis boni et mali succi, cap. 3. P.
infant. This her husband thought fit to deny her, affirming it was better to be childless, than to become the Parent of a Fool. His Wife miscarried; but as the Abortion proved only a female Foetus, he comforted himself, that had it arrived to perfection, it would not have answered his account; his heart being wholly fixed upon the learned Sex. However he disdained not to treasure up the Embryo in a Vial, among the curiosities of his family.
Having discovered that Galen's prescription could not determine the sex, he forthwith betook himself to Aristotle. Accordingly he withheld the nuptial embrace when the wind was in any point of the South; this 'Author asserting that the grossness and moisture of the southerly winds occasion the procreation of females, and not of males. But he redoubled his diligence when the wind was at west, a wind on which that great Philosopher bestowed the Encomiums of Fatner of the Earth, Breath of the Elysian Fields, and other glorious Elogies. For our learned man was clearly of opinion, that the Semina out of which Animals are produced, are Animalcula ready formed, and received in with the Air1.
Under these regulations, his wife, to his unexpressible joy, grew pregnant a second time; and (what was no small addition to his happiness) he just then came to the possession of a considerable Estate by the death of her Uncle, a wealthy Jew who resided at
Arist. xiv. Sect. Prob. 5. P.
Religion of Nature, Sect. v. Parag. 15. P. The seriousness with which this strange opinion, on so mysterious a point, is advanced, very well deserved this stroke of ridicule. W.