lunes, 30 de mayo de 2011

The Cogitator




However, I cannot pass over a very strange and extraordinary piece of Art which this Old Gentleman inform'd me of, and that was an Engine to screw a Man into himself: Perhaps our Country-men may be at some Difficulty to comprehend these things by my dull Description; and to such I cannot but recommend, a Journey in my Engine to the Moon.

This Machine that I am speaking of, contains a multitude of strange Springs and Screws, and a Man that puts himself into it, is very insensibly carried into vast Speculations, Reflexions, and regular Debates with himself: They have a very hard Name for it in those Parts; but if I were to give it an English Name, it should be call'd, The Cogitator, or the Chair of Reflection.

And First, The Person that is seated here feels some pain in passing some Negative Springs, that are wound up, effectually to shut out all Injecting, Disturbing Thoughts; and the better to prepare him for the Operation that is to follow, and this is without doubt a very rational way; for when a Man can absolutely shut out all manner of thinking, but what he is upon, he shall think the more Intensly upon the one object before him.

This Operation past, here are certain Screws that draw direct Lines from every Angle of the Engine to the Brain of the Man, and at the same time, other direct Lines to his Eyes; at the other end of which Lines, there are Glasses which convey or reflect the Objects the Person is desirous to think upon.

Then the main Wheels are turn'd, which wind up according to their several Offices; this the Memory, that the Understanding; a third the Will, a fourth the thinking Faculty; and these being put all into regular Motions, pointed by direct Lines to their proper Objects, and perfectly uninterrupted by the Intervention of Whimsy, Chimera, and a Thousand fluttering Dæmons that Gender in the Fancy, but are effectually Lockt out as before, assist one another to receive right Notions, and form just Ideas of the things they are directed to, and from thence the Man is impower'd to make right Conclusions, to think and act like himself, suitable to the sublime Qualities his Soul was originally blest with.

There never was a Man went into one of these thinking Engines, but he came wiser out than he was before; and I am persuaded, it would be a more effectual Cure to our Deism, Atheism, Scepticism, and all other Scisms, than ever the Italian's Engine, for Curing the Gout by cutting off the Toe.

This is a most wonderful Engine, and performs admirably, and my Author gave me extraordinary Accounts of the good Effects of it; and I cannot but tell my Reader, That our Sublunar World suffers Millions of Inconveniencies, for want of this thinking Engine: I have had a great many Projects in my Head, how to bring our People to regular thinking, but 'tis in vain without this Engin; and how to get the Model of it I know not; how to screw up the Will, the Understanding, and the rest of the Powers; how to bring the Eye, the Thought, the Fancy, and the Memory, into Mathematical Order, and obedient to Mechanick Operation; help Boyl, Norris, Newton, Manton, Hammond, Tillotson, and all the Learned Race, help Phylosophy, Divinity, Physicks, Oeconomicks, all's in vain, a Mechanick Chair of Reflection is the only Remedy that ever I found in my Life for this Work.

As to the Effects of Mathematical thinking, what Volumes might be writ of it will more easily appear, if we consider the wondrous Usefulness of this Engine in all humane Affairs; as of War, Peace, Justice, Injuries, Passion, Love, Marriage, Trade, Policy, and Religion.

When a Man has been screw'd into himself, and brought by this Art to a Regularity of Thought, he never commits any Absurdity after it; his Actions are squared by the same Lines, for Action is but the Consequence of Thinking; and he that acts before he thinks, sets humane Nature with the bottom upward.

M. would never have made his Speech, nor the famous B----ly wrote a Book, if ever they had been in this thinking Engine: One would have never told us of Nations he never saw, nor the other told us, he had seen a great many, and was never the Wiser.

H. had never ruin'd his Family to Marry Whore, Thief and Beggar-Woman, in one Salliant Lady, after having been told so honestly, and so often of it by the very Woman her self.

Our late unhappy Monarch had never trusted the English Clergy, when they preacht up that Non-Resistance, which he must needs see they could never Practice; had his Majesty been screw'd up into this Cogitator, he had presently reflected, that it was against Nature to expect they should stand still, and let him tread upon them: That they should, whatever they had preacht or pretended to, hold open their Throats to have them be cut, and tye their own Hands from resisting the Lord's Anointed.

Had some of our Clergy been screw'd in this Engine, they had never turned Martyrs for their Allegiance to the Late King, only for the Lechery of having Dr. S------- in their Company.

Had our Merchants been manag'd in this Engine, they had never trusted their Turkey Fleet with a famous Squadron, that took a great deal of care to Convoy them safe into the Enemies Hands.

Had some People been in this Engine, when they had made a certain League in the World, in order to make amends for a better made before, they would certainly have consider'd farther, before they had embarkt with a Nation, that are neither fit to go abroad nor stay at Home.

As for the Thinking practis'd in Noble Speeches, Occasional Bills, Addressings about Prerogative, Convocation Disputes, Turnings in and Turnings out at Ours, and all the Courts of Christendom, I have nothing to say to it.

(...)

Our Cogitator would be a very necessary thing to show some People, That Poverty and Weakness is not a sufficient Ground to oppress a Nation, and their having but little Trade, cannot be a sufficient Ground to equip Fleets to take away what they have.

I cannot deny, that I have often thought they have had something of this Engine in our Neighbouring Antient Kingdom, since no Man, however we pretend to be angry, but will own they are in the right of it, as to themselves, to Vote and procure Bills for their own Security, and not to do as others demand without Conditions fit to be accepted: But of that by it self.

There are abundance of People in Our World, of all sorts and Conditions, that stand in need of our thinking Engines, and to be screw'd into themselves a little, that they might think as directly as they speak absurdly: But of these also in a Class by it self.

This Engine has a great deal of Philosophy in it; and particularly, 'tis a wonderful Remedy against Poreing; and as it was said of Mons. Jurieu at Amsterdam, that he us'd to lose himself in himself; by the Assistance of this piece of Regularity, a Man is most effectually secur'd against bewildring Thoughts, and by direct thinking, he prevents all manner of dangerous wandring, since nothing can come to more speedy Conclusions, than that which in right Lines, points to the proper Subject of Debate.

All sorts of Confusion of Thoughts are perfectly avoided and prevented in this case, and a Man is never troubled with Spleen, Hyppo, or Mute Madness, when once he has been thus under the Operation of the Screw: It prevents abundance of Capital Disasters in Men, in private Affairs; it prevents hasty Marriages, rash Vows, Duels, Quarrels, Suits at Law, and most sorts of Repentance. In the State, it saves a Government from many Inconveniences; it checks immoderate Ambition, stops Wars, Navies and Expeditions; especially it prevents Members making long Speeches when they have nothing to say; it keeps back Rebellions, Insurrections, Clashings of Houses, Occasional Bills, Tacking, &c.

It has a wonderful Property in our Affairs at Sea, and has prevented many a Bloody Fight, in which a great many honest Men might have lost their Lives that are now useful Fellows, and help to Man and manage Her Majesty's Navy.

What if some People are apt to charge Cowardice upon some People in those Cases? 'Tis plain that cannot be it, for he that dare incur the Resentment of the English Mob, shows more Courage than would be able to carry him through Forty Sea-fights.

'Tis therefore for want of being in this Engine, that we censure People, because they don't be knocking one another on the Head, like the People at the Bear-Garden; where, if they do not see the Blood run about, they always cry out, A Cheat; and the poor Fellows are fain to cut one another, that they may not be pull'd a pieces; where the Case is plain, they are bold for fear, and pull up Courage enough to Fight, because they are afraid of the People.

This Engine prevents all sorts of Lunacies, Love-Frenzies, and Melancholy-Madness, for preserving the Thought in right Lines to direct Objects, it is impossible any Deliriums, Whimsies, or fluttering Air of Ideas, can interrupt the Man, he can never be Mad; for which reason I cannot but recommend it to my Lord S---, my Lord N---, and my Lord H-----, as absolutely necesssary to defend them from the State-Madness, which for some Ages has possest their Families, and which runs too much in the Blood.

It is also an excellent Introduction to Thought, and therefore very well adapted to those People whose peculiar Talent and Praise is, That they never think at all. Of these, if his Grace of B---d would please to accept Advice from the Man in the Moon, it should be to put himself into this Engine, as a Soveraign Cure to the known Disease call'd the Thoughtless Evil.

But above all, it is an excellent Remedy, and very useful to a sort of People, who are always Travelling in Thought, but never Deliver'd into Action; who are so exceeding busy at Thinking, they have no leisure for Action. These Gentlemen would make excellent use of this Engine, for it would teach 'em to dispatch one thing before they begin another; and therefore is of singular use to honest S----, whose peculiar it was, to be always beginning Projects, but never finish any.

The Variety of this Engine, its Uses, and Improvements, are Innumerable, and the Reader must not expect I can give any thing like a perfect Description of it.



Daniel DEFOE
The Consolidator

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