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POSTERITY, that ancient personage yet
unborn, is at times a topic of much speculation
with me. I consider him in a variety of
lights, and represent him to myself in many
odd humours, but principally in those with
which he is likely to regard the present age.
I am particularly fond of inquiring whether
we contribute our share towards the entertainment
and diversion of the old gentleman. It
is important that we should, for all work and
no play would make even Posterity a dull

And, good Heaven, to think of the amount
of work he will have to get through! Only
to read all those books, to contemplate all
those pictures and statues, and to listen to all
that music, so generously bequeathed to him
by crowds of admiring legatees through many
generations, will be no slight labor. I doubt
if even the poetry written expressly for
his perusal would not be sufficient to
addle any other head. The prodigious spaces
of time that his levees will occupy, are
overwhelming to think of: for how else can
lie ever receive those hosts of ladies and gentlemen
who have been resolved and determined
to go down to him! Then the numbers
of ingenious inventions he will have to test,
prove, and adopt, from the perpetual motion
to the long range, will necessarily consume
some of the best years of his life. In hearing
Appeals, though the claims of the Appellants
will be in every case as clear as crystal, it
will be necessary for him to sit as long as
twenty Chancellors, though each sat on the
woolsack twenty years. The mere rejection
of those swindlers in the various arts and
sciences who basely witnessed any appreciation
of their works, and the folding to his
bosom of those worthies whom mankind were
in a combination to discard, will take time.
It is clear that it is reserved for Posterity to
be, in respect of his labors, immeasurably
more than the Hercules of the future.

Hence, it is but moderately considerate to
have an eye to the amusement of this industrious
person. If he must be so overworked,
let us at least do something to entertain him
something even over and above those books
of poetry and prose, those pictures and
statues, and that music, for which he will
have an unbounded relish, but perhaps a
relish (so I venture to conceive) of a pensive
rather than an exhilarating kind.

These are my reflections when I consider
the present time with a reference to Posterity.
I am sorry to say that I don't think we do
enough to make him smile. It appears to me
that we might tickle him a little more. I
will suggest one or two odd notionssomewhat
far-fetched and fantastic, I allow, but
they may serve the purposeof the kind of
practical humour that might seem droll to

If we had had, in this time of ours, two great
commanderssay one by land and one by sea;
one dying in battle (or what was left of him,
for we will suppose him to have lost an arm
and an eye or so before), and one living to
old ageit might be a jest for Posterity
if we choked our towns with bad Statues to
one of the two, and utterly abandoned and
deserted the memory of the other. We
might improve on this conceit. If we laid
those two imaginary great men side by side
in Saint Paul's cathedral, and then laid side
by side in the advertising columns of our
public newspapers, two appeals respecting
two Memorials, one to each of them; and if
we so carried on the joke as that the Memorial
to the one should be enormously rich, and the
Memorial to the other, miserably pooras
that the subscriptions to the one should
include the names of three-fourths of the
grandees of the land, and the subscriptions to
the other but a beggarly account of rank and
fileas that the one should leap with ease
into a magnificent endowment, and the other
crawl and stagger as a pauper provision for
the dead Admiral's daughterif we could
only bring the joke, as Othello says,

"—to this extent, no more;"

I think it might amuse Posterity a good deal.

The mention of grandees brings me to
my next proposal. It would involve a
change in the present mode of bestowing
public honours and titles in England; but,
encouraged by the many examples we have
before us of disinterested magnanimity in
favour of Posterity, we might perhaps be
animated to try it.

I will assume that among the books in that