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there was nothing could be asked, but he could very easily say something to the purpose upon it.
“In a little time after, to oblige Authority,wealtered the title of ‘Athenian Gazette,' into 'Athenian Mercury.' The undertaking growing every week upon our hands, the impatience of our Querists, and the curiosity of their questions, which required a great deal of accuracy and care, did oblige us to adopt a third member of Athens; and the reverend Samuel Wesley * being just come to town, all new from the University, and my acquaintance with him being very intimate, I easily prevailed with him to embark’himself upon the same bottom, and in the same cause. With this new addition we found ourselves to be masters of the whole design, and thereupon we neither lessened nor increased our number.
“The success of Athens growing so very considerable, Mr. Brown and Mr. Pate began to ape our design in a paper they intituled the "Lacedemonian Mercury, which immediately interfered with us under a title, which, it is true, was pretty and pertinent enough. Upon this, I was resolved one way or other to blow them up, in regard, it was both ungenerous and unjust to interlope upon a man, where he has the sole right and property; for the children of the brain are as much ours, as those we beget in lawful wedlock. I first of all advertized, that all the questions answered in the · Lacedemonian Mercury' should be answered over again in our “Athenian Mercury,' with amendments, with the life of Tom Brown, the chief antagonist.
This news startled them pretty much.
At that time I was altogether unacquainted with Mr. Brown. However, one evening he comes to me, with all the civility imaginable, and desires to take a glass with me. I sent for my Athenian brethren, and we went to the Three Cranes, where we discoursed the matter with him at large: but, Mr. Sault being a gentleman of courage, and a little inclined to passion, was going to draw upon Mr. Brown, for an uncivil reflection; * See p. 67.
upon which Mr. Brown cried peccavi, and promised very faithfully that he would never meddle any more with the 'Lacedemonian Mercury;' and though they had not dropt it, yet the flaming wickedness, and the blasphemy that was in it, would have ruined the design.
“A little after this was published, "The New Athenian Comedy, containing, “The Politicks, Economicks, Tacticks, Crypticks, Apocalypticks, Stypticks, Scepticks, Pneumaticks, Theologicks, Poeticks, Mathematicks, Sophisticks, Pragmaticks, Dogmaticks, of our most Learned Society. This Play was a poor performance, writ, however, on purpose expose us; but failed so far in the design of it, that it promoted ours. There was nothing of wit through the whole of it, and the reader may take notice that Mr. S—'s genius was quite run out towards the conclusion of the third act, and could not carry it an inch farther.
- The Earl of was once pleased to frown upon the 'Athenian Mercury, and forced us into silence; but, when men are pleased to make personal application (for the offence was only taken at a question that was sent us, of a father that had two daughters), it is a sign there is a sore place, else they would never wince for the matter; however Captain M-al procured us liberty to proceed, and had twenty-five guineas for that service. I have waded through these, and many other difficulties with this design; and nothing could discourage me, when my cause was so great and good.
The 'Athenian Niercury' began at length to be so well approved, that Mr. Gildon thought it worth his while to write A History of the Athenian Society; to which were prefixed several poems written by the chief Wits of the age (riz. Vir. Motteux, Mr. Foe, Mr. Richardson, &c. and in particular, Mr. Tate (now Poet Laureat), was pleased to honour us with a Poem directed to the Athenian Society. Mr. Swift*, a country gentleman, sent an Ode to * Afterwards the celebrated Dean; see his Works, vol. XVI. p. 23.
the Athenian Society; which, being an ingenious poem, was prefixed to the Fifth Supplement of the * Athenian Mercury.' Many other persons did also rhime in the praise of our Questions. Our Athenian Project did not only obtain anong the populace, but was well received by the politer sort of mankind. That great and learned Nobleman, the late Marquis of Halifax, was once pleased to tell me, that he constantly perused our Mercuries, and had received great satisfaction from very many of our Answers. The late Sir William Temple, a man of a clear judgement, and wonderful penetration, was pleased to honour me with frequent letters and questions, very curious and uncommon; in particular, that about the Talismans was his. The Honourable Sir Thomas Pope Blount, when he resided in town, has very frequently sent for me to his chamber, and given me particular thanks for my Athenian Project; and the last visit I made him, he told me the Athenian Society was certainly the most useful and informing design that had ever been set on foot in England. Sir William Hedges was pleased to tell me, he was so well pleased with the ‘Athenian Mercuries,' that he would send several complete sets into the Indies, to his friends; and that he thought the publick, and himself in particular, so much obliged to me, that I should be always welcome to his house, and that he would serve me to his utmost with reference to my trade. I could mention many more honours that were done me, by Sir Peter Pett, and several others, whose learning and judgment the world has little reason to question.
“ Our (Athenian Mercuries were continued till they swelled, at least, to twenty volumes folio; and then we took up, to give ourselves a little ease, and refreshment; for the labours and the travels of the mind are as expensive, and wear the spirits off as fast, as those of the body. However our Society was never formally dissolved.
“ The old Athenian volumes, a while ago, growing quite out of print, a choice collection of the
most valuable questions and answers, in three volumes, have lately been re-printed, and made publick, under the title of 'Athenian Oracle ;' two of which I dedicated to the most illustrious and magnanimous Prince, James Duke of Ormond (Chancellor of the Universities of Oxford and Dublin), and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. These two volumes I presented to his Grace with my own hand ; and if any thing could make me vain of the Athienian Project, it would be the generous reception his Grace gave
to each of the volumes. I have no need here to shew the reason of this dedication ; for his Grace's fame is improved already to an undoubted immortality. His courage, conduct, and success in war, have raised him as far above the reach of flattery, as above all parallel. He has waded tlırough blood and battles, and has freely ventured his life and fortunes in the great cause of liberty and religion; and now, at last, we cannot but applaud the judicious choice of our gracious Queen, in making him the Guardian of a Kingrom which owes so much to his family, and where his presence is as acceptable, as it is necessary; and therefore, as the Duke of Ormond is Patron of Learning, as well as of Arms, 'the Athenian Society thought they had a natural right to his protection ; and they found it in so ample a manner, that his Grace not only honoured each volume with his own perusal, but was pleased afterwards to mention to some Lordis the great satisfaction he took in the Athenian Oracles that had been presented to him. And may his Grace live long, the great encouragement of Arms and Arts! The copy of these three volumes I sold to Mr. Bell in Cornlıill, and is all (as appears by our articles) that he has any right to; and much good may his success do him! For it is thought he will get abrve a thousand pounds by it.
“ A second Project of mine, which was set on foot by the OK Athenians, and lately published by the New, is intituled, “The Athenian Spy; or the Secret Letters of Platonic Courtship, between the Athenian
Society, and the most ingenious Ladies in the Three
“A third Project of mine, for the promotion of Learning, was a Monthly Journal of Books printed in London, and beyond Sea; which was chiefly extracted out of “The Universal Bibliotheque, and - Journal des Sçavans;' and it first appeared under the title of ‘A Supplement to the Athenian Mercury, but was afterwards called, “ The Complete Library.' This design was carried on about ten months, when Monsieur Lecrose interfered with me in a Monthly Journal, intituled “The Works of the Learned;' upon which I dropped my own design, and joined with Lecrose's Bookseller, in publishing · The Works of the Learned.' But, Lecrose dying, it was discontinued; though the same design, under the same title, is yet on foot, and managed by several hands, one of which is the ingenious Mr. Ridpath.
“ IV. Another Project (which I writ myself, and published a year ago) was intituled “The Post Angel: or Universal Entertainment.'
“ My fifth Project has been preparing for the press for these ten years, and is intituled, The New Practice of Piety. Writ in imitation of Dr. Brown's Religio Medici:or,aSystem of uncommon Thoughts, extracted from the Experience of Forty Years.'
“ My sixth Project was, “The Challenge, sent by a young Lady to Sir Thomas intituled The Femole War; wherein the present Dresses and Humours of the Fair Sex, are vigorously attacked by Men of Quality, and as bravely defended by several Ladies.'
“VII. My next Project was intituled, “The PostBoy robbed of his Mail; or, The Pacquet broke open, containing Five Hundred Letters that were taken from several Posts, discovering the Secrets of Men and Women of all Ranks and Qualities. The Club of Gentlemen supposed to have been concerned in this frolick inake remarks upon the Letters as they break them up. This Project obtained so well, that both volumes are now out of print.