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No. 80. SATURDAY, February 12, 1780.
Er fumo dare lucem
Authors have been divided into two classes, the instructive and the entertaining; to which has been added a third, who mix, according to Horace, the utile dulci, and are, in his opinion, entitled to the highest degree of applause.
Readers complain, that in none of these departments is there, in modern writing, much pretension to originality. Inscience, they say, so much has been already discovered, that all a modern writer has left, is, to explain and enforce the systems of our predecessors; and, in literature, our fathers have so exhausted the acuteness of reasoning, the flashes of wit, the luxuriance of description, and the invention
incident, that an author now-a-days can only give new form, not matter, to his argument; a new turn, not thought, to his epigram; new attitudes, not object, to his picture; new language, not situation, to his story.
However true this complaint may be in the main, there is one class of writers to whom the charge of triteness does, I apprehend, very little apply. They are generally of the first species mentioned above, who publish useful information to mankind; yet in the last quarter of the
. eighteenth century, their information is often as new as if they had written in the infancy of art and of science, when every field was open to the researches of industry, and the invention of genius. The writers I allude to, are the authors of those little essays which appear in the learned world under the title of Advertisements.”
The necessary and ornamental arts of life are equally the objects of the class of authors whom I describe. In both, I will venture to assert, that the novelty of their productions is equal to their usefulness.
It was formerly imagined, that disease was an evil which mankind had inherited as a punishment for the lapse of their progenitor. Milton has given, in his Paradise Lost, a catalogue of some of those tormenting maladies which were to be felt by the race of fallen Adam. So has Dr Dominiceti in an advertisement, which is now lying before me; but, with the most extraordinary force of original discovery, has informed us, that, in his treatment of those disorders, there is no evil, no pain, but, on the contrary, much pleasure, and even luxury. “I engage,” says the doctor, “ with pieasure, and even luxury, to the patient, to increase or diminish the vital heat, and the circulatory, secretory, and excretory functions; to soften
and relax the too hard and dry muscular and nervous fibres, and contracted ligaments; and to harden and make compact, and give the proper tone and elasticity to the too moist and flabby muscular and nervous fibres and relaxed sinews, and provide and establish an equilibrium between the fluids and vessels; to sweeten acrid, corrosive, and saline humours; and to cure the dropsy, asthma, consumptions, colic, gravel, rheumatism, palsy, pleurisy, and fevers, stone and gout, scurvy, and leprosy; to mollify and destroy inveterate cal. losities, to deterge and cure obstinate ul
“ These are not the representations of a quack's bill; I detest the arts of quackery as much as any man living. I deal not in nostrums or mysteries, or magic or expedient, to captivate;
“ Non sibi, sed toto genitum se credere mundo.”
If he who invented one new pleasure
was formerly thought entitled to imperial munificence, what reward does the doctor deserve, who has added as many luxuries o the list, as there are diseases in the catalogues of nosology?
Scotland, though not remarkable in this department of literature, has the honour of producing an author, who, in an advertisement published not long ago, has added to the stores of natural history the following very curious facts with regard to the properties of air and heat. Mr Fair, mason, opposite to the White Hart Inn, Grass-market, Edinburgh, thus delivers himself on the subject of pneumatics: “ Air and smoke," says he, “ are two elastic fluids, capable of being condensed and expanded. Heat, or the fire in the grate, expands the air. Being expanded, it becomes lighter. And, as it is in nature for light matter to swim to the top of heavier, it rises up the vent, carrying the smoke along with it. This