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No. 063 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 63
Saturday, May 12, 1711.
‘Humano capiti cervicem pictor equinam

Jungere si velit et varias inducere plumas

Undique collatis membris, ut turpiter atrum

Desinat in piscem mulier formosa superne;

Spectatum admissi risum teneatis amici?

Credite, Pisones, isti tabulae fore librum

Persimilem, cujus, velut aegri somnia, vanae

Finguntur species …’


It is very hard for the Mind to disengage it self from a Subject in which it has been long employed. The Thoughts will be rising of themselves from time to time, tho’ we give them no Encouragement; as the Tossings and Fluctuations of the Sea continue several Hours after the Winds are laid.

It is to this that I impute my last Night’s Dream or Vision, which formed into one continued Allegory the several Schemes of Wit, whether False, Mixed, or True, that have been the Subject of my late Papers.

Methoughts I was transported into a Country that was filled with Prodigies and Enchantments, governed by the Goddess of FALSEHOOD, entitled the Region of False Wit. There is nothing in the Fields, the Woods, and the Rivers, that appeared natural. Several of the Trees blossomed in Leaf-Gold, some of them produced Bone-Lace, and some of them precious Stones. The Fountains bubbled in an Opera Tune, and were filled with Stags, Wild-Boars, and Mermaids, that lived among the Waters; at the same time that Dolphins and several kinds of Fish played upon the Banks or took their Pastime in the Meadows. The Birds had many of them golden Beaks, and human Voices. The Flowers perfumed the Air with Smells of Incense, Amber-greese, and Pulvillios; [1] and were so interwoven with one another, that they grew up in Pieces of Embroidery. The Winds were filled with Sighs and Messages of distant Lovers. As I was walking to and fro in this enchanted Wilderness, I could not forbear breaking out into Soliloquies upon the several Wonders which lay before me, when, to my great Surprize, I found there were artificial Ecchoes in every Walk, that by Repetitions of certain Words which I spoke, agreed with me, or contradicted me, in every thing I said. In the midst of my Conversation with these invisible Companions, I discovered in the Centre of a very dark Grove a monstrous Fabrick built after the Gothick manner, and covered with innumerable Devices in that barbarous kind of Sculpture. I immediately went up to it, and found it to be a kind of Heathen Temple consecrated to the God of Dullness. Upon my Entrance I saw the Deity of the Place dressed in the Habit of a Monk, with a Book in one Hand and a Rattle in the other. Upon his right Hand was Industry, with a Lamp burning before her; and on his left Caprice, with a Monkey sitting on her Shoulder. Before his Feet there stood an Altar of a very odd Make, which, as I afterwards found, was shaped in that manner to comply with the Inscription that surrounded it. Upon the Altar there lay several Offerings of Axes, Wings, and Eggs, cut in Paper, and inscribed with Verses. The Temple was filled with Votaries, who applied themselves to different Diversions, as their Fancies directed them. In one part of it I saw a Regiment of Anagrams, who were continually in motion, turning to the Right or to the Left, facing about, doubling their Ranks, shifting their Stations, and throwing themselves into all the Figures and Countermarches of the most changeable and perplexed Exercise.

Not far from these was a Body of Acrosticks, made up of very disproportioned Persons. It was disposed into three Columns, the Officers planting themselves in a Line on the left Hand of each Column. The Officers were all of them at least Six Foot high, and made three Rows of very proper Men; but the Common Soldiers, who filled up the Spaces between the Officers, were such Dwarfs, Cripples, and Scarecrows, that one could hardly look upon them without laughing. There were behind the Acrosticks two or three Files of Chronograms, which differed only from the former, as their Officers were equipped (like the Figure of Time) with an Hour-glass in one Hand, and a Scythe in the other, and took their Posts promiscuously among the private Men whom they commanded.