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Partridge, whom he killed as an almanac-maker in 1709. The old man, at the time when this wicked wit assailed him, had been nearly forty years labouring in his vocation. He appears, originally, to have been a harmless, and, for an almanac-maker, somewhat sensible person. When Swift assailed him he had passed his grand climacteric; and though the almanac perished in this memorable affray, the man lived for six years after Bickerstaff had killed him. But when Partridge refused any longer to predict, the Stationers' Company did not choose to belaughed out of the profit of his reputation for prediction. They accordingly, in 1710, printed a Partridge's almanac, with Partridge's portrait, which Partridge never wrote. During the three succeeding years the publication was discontinued; but in 1714, the year before the mortal part of the astrologer died, Partridge's ‘Merlinus Liberatus’ again made its appearance; and went dragging on a decrepit existence, with the sins of a century and a half upon its head. Swift's account of Partridge's death is one of the most pungent pieces of solemn humour which the genius of that most terrific of controversialists ever produced. No wonder that it killed the almanac for a season, though the man escaped. The confession of the astrologer is admirable :-‘‘‘I am a poor ignorant fellow, bred to a mean trade, yet I have sense enough to know, that all pretences of foretelling by astrology are deceits, for this manifest reason—because the Wise and learned, who can
only judge whether there be any truth in this science, do all unanimously agree to laugh at and despise it; and none but the poor ignorant vulgar give it any credit, and that only upon the word of such silly wretches as I and my fellows, who can hardly write or read.' I then asked him, why he had not calculated his own nativity, to see whether it agreed with Bickerstaff's prediction. At which he shook his head, and said, “Oh! sir, this is no time for jesting, but for repenting these fooleries, as I do now from the very bottom of my heart !' 'By what I can gather from you,' said I, 'the observations and predictions you printed with your almanacs were mere impositions on the people ?' He replied, 'if it were otherwise, I should have the less to answer for. We have a common form for all these things; as to foretelling the weather, we never meddle with that, but leave it to the printer, who takes it out of any old almanac, as he thinks fit.'"
It is a hundred and forty years since this attack, which one would havethought irresistible, was levelled against the prophecy-makers of the Stationers' Company; but these fooleries still exist amongst
At the time of Swift, the greater part of the astrologers of the civil wars had long been dead; but the almanacs, which were issued from this great patent store-house of imposture, bore the names of their original authors. “Poor Robin, Dove, Wing, and several others do yearly publish their almanacs, though several of them have been dead since before
the Revolution.” The individual men were gone; but the spirit of delusion, which they had originally breathed into their works, was not extinguished by their death, for the corporation of the Stationers' Company could never die.
Francis Moore, “Physician," began his career of imposture in 1698; and, by the condensation within himself of all the evil qualities of his contemporaries, he gradually contrived to extinguish the lives, and then, with a true vampire-spirit, to prey upon the carcases, even up to the present hour, of Lilly, Gadbury, Lord, Andrews, Woodhouse, Dade, Pond, Bucknall, Pearce, Coelson, Perkins, and Parker,the illustrious and the obscure cheats of the seventeenth century.
One hundred and fifty-five years is a pretty long career of imposture. Poor Robin, the hoary jester of the fraternity, gave up the ghost a quarter of a century ago, after a life of iniquity longer than that of Old Parr or Henry Jenkins. Heaven avert the omen from Francis Moore !
As the old astrologers died in the body, and their spirits, after lingering awhile near 'Paul's,' reposed also, the Stationers' Company raised up new candidates for the emoluments and honours of their trade of “using subtil craft to deceive and impose on his Majesty's subjects.” At the beginning of the late King's reign, Andrews, and Parker, and Pearce, and Partridge, and Moore, were still flourishing, of the old set; but the more glorious names were gone to enjoy the celestial converse of Albumazar and Raymond Lully. Their places were
filled (how ignoble !) by Saunders and Season, and Tycho Wing. Even these are gone. Moore alone remains upon this wicked earth, where common sense walks abroad and laughs at him as the forlorn mummer of a by-gone generation. He now belongs to “ONCE UPON A TIME.”
THIS region of fashion was, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, a large field, extending from Park Lane almost to Devonshire House, in the West ; and comprising the space to the North where the famous Lord Chesterfield, in the middle of that century, built his magnificent mansion, and looked with pride upon his spacious garden from the windows of his noble library. The brook of Tyburn ran through this district, so that the place was also called Brook Field, which name is still preserved in Brook Street. In this Brook Field was held an Annual Fair, commencing on the 1st of May, which, without going back into more remote antiquity, had been not only a market for all commodities, but a place of fashionable resort, in the early years of the Restoration. Mr. Pepys was a visitor there in 1660. The general character of May-Fair may be gathered from an advertisement of the 27th of April, 1700:-“In Brook Field Market-place, at the East Corner of Hyde Park, is a Fair to be kept for the space of sixteen days, beginning with the 1st of May: the first three days for live cattle and leather; with the same entertainments as at Bartholomew Fair: where there are shops to be let, ready