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"I shall now mention a set of cheats who make a dupe of the heart, and impose on the benevolence and compassion of the charitable: these are called sky-farmers, and execute their schemes in the following manner: one of them dresses himself extremely genteel, and takes upon himself either the character of a private gentleman, or reputable tradesman. He is attended by two men in the character of country farmers, with clumsy boots, horseman's coats, &c. The objects pitched upon for imposition are good old charitable ladies, to whom the solicitor tells a dreadful story of losses by fire, inundation, &c., to the utter ruin of these two poor farmers and all their families; their wives are big with child, their children down in the small-pox, &c. A book is then produced by the solicitor, who undertakes this disagreeable office purely out of good-nature, knowing the story to be true. In this book are the names of the nobility and gentry, set down by himself, who have contributed to this charity; and by setting out with false names, they at length get real ones, which are of great service to them in carrying on their fraud; and well-disposed persons are daily imposed upon by false appearances of distress. There are persons in this town who get a very good livelihood by writing letters and petitions of this stamp, with which those noblemen and gentlemen, who are distinguished for their generosity and benevolence, are constantly tormented; and these wretches often obtain relief for their false distresses, whilst the really miserable suffer, from their modesty, the acutest afflictions. A woman stuffed up as if she was ready to lie in, with two or three borrowed children, and a letter, giving an account of her husband's falling from a scaffold and breaking his limbs, or being drowned at sea, &c. is an irresistible object.
"Lastly, the following cautions to inns and livery-stables may not be useless: it is become a trick for a man to hire a horse at one place, and at his return to London to put him up at another as his own, and to borrow money at that place, and then give notice to the owner of the horse where he is.
"As persons coming to London in a stage-coach from a distance, are desirous of getting into a hackney-coach as soon as they can, they stop at the first stand, which is generally near some inn; here the sharpers attend, and, by their pretending to be porters, or by other stratagems, frequently rob the passengers of their box or portmanteau ; who, being eager to see their friends, throw aside their caution, and trust too much to the care of the coachman. These sort of sharpers also attend the unloading of road waggons, where quantities of goods are put into a cart to be dispersed about town; this cart they follow, till they have an opportunity of taking something out of it, while the carter or porter is making some inquiry: a man riding in these carts would prevent these robberies. Fastening portmanteaus behind postchaises with chains, instead of straps, will preserve them; and stablekeepers not letting their saddle-horses to strangers, unless they bring some persons with them known to the stable-keeper, will prevent many highway robberies."
These extracts will serve as a sort of introduction to a
paper we shortly propose to insert on the Antiquities of the Police of London. Perhaps the consideration of its past state may not only throw light on the comic and other old writers, but may even suggest some future amendments on this most ill-managed department of our municipal government.
ART. III.-Psyche, or Love's Mystery; in twenty-four Cantos: displaying the Intercourse betwixt Christ and the Soul.
Ὁ Θεὸς ̓Αγάπη ἐςί.
Οἱ πάλαι προσῆδον ἔμμελεῖς λόγους.
S. Greg. Naz. in de Carminib. suis.
By Joseph Beaumont, D.D. late King's Professor of Divinity, and Master of St. Peter's College in Cambridge. The Second Edition, with Corrections throughout, and Four new Cantos, never before printed. Cambridge, printed at the Universitypress, for Thomas Bennet, at the Half Moon in St. Paul's Church Yard, London, 1702.
In resuming our extracts from Dr. Beaumont's poem, we are not without apprehension lest our readers should consider the extent of our selections more than proportionate to the importance of the work. It must, however, be remembered that Psyche, besides its extraordinary length, is particularly rich in producible passages. We have, however, endeavoured to confine our collection within as narrow limits as possible, and have accordingly omitted a number of passages which our own partiality would have induced us to extract; much that was ingenious, much that was amusingly fantastic, many vivid descriptions, many glowing effusions of religious feeling. In the last class of passages, indeed, the poem is peculiarly rich; insomuch that to the devout reader, who is not scared by the appearance of the antique-looking folio, with its stately columns of stanzas, like the squared stones of some massy edifice, we scarcely hesitate to recommend the perusal of the entire volume.
The following apostrophe is glowing and luxuriant.
"O happy ye, stout eagles, happy ye,
Whose pure and genuine eyes are tempered
To that brave vigor, that the majesty
Such bright extremities of heav'n, but you
You, perch'd on some safe rock, can sit and see
Sweeter than it doth rise; what robe of state
That day he deigns to gild, what tire of light
Not one of those brisk eyes with which, by night,
The mighty dint ev'n of his dawning light
That splendor's stroke which dazzles every star.
Into his chariot of flaming gold
You see him mount, and give his purple steeds
You see him climb heaven's highest silver hill,
And riot in that royal feast of light;
Whilst to your eyes your souls fly up, and gaze
On every beauty of his high-noon face."
Jannes, an Egyptian magician, evokes his gods to avenge the overthrow of their images, which are said to have fallen down on the approach of the infant Jesus.
"In this deep temple of infernal arts
It in a dead man's mossy skull he set.
The mists and stinks long wrestled with the flame
Then gaping wide, both with his mouth and eyes,
Which though it saw the broken deities,
That ruin wrought: and then those Gods be blest
For on a shrine still-standing there appear'd
Of lesser gods; the altar was besmear'd
These hideous dainties was the breakfast for
The priests were hot: no monster but compar'd
But Jannes having now thrice wash'd his hand
A sceptre unto which the moon,
With that a circle on the floor he draws
(Spread thick with ashes stol'n from funeral piles)
Wild hieroglyphics, stark mad characters,
Into this hell of scratches in stepp'd he
(A seemly actor for that scene,) and there
He thrice with blood besprinkled his left ear;
Three times he mumbled over those profound
Then lifting up his hollow voice, he cry'd."
The healing of the Syrophænician woman is related with great sweetness and beauty; we extract part of the passage.
"But here she found a strange physician, whose
(O gracious modesty, how potent are
And keep in safety's garrison from peril
Her meekly-faithful heart had caught fast hold
Which said, the pious thief took heart, and stept
Then her most trembling most undoubting hand
Her meek soul on that humble altar lay'd;
But whilst her blushing blood flush'd in her face,
The following two extracts are from the proems of Cantos XIV. and XV.
"O soul of sweets, O life, how dear art thou
To all that ever had a taste of thee!
How much of heav'n itself triumphs to flow
Indeed, heav'n, were not heav'n, unless it had,