Anonymous No. 3

Mr Vignoles

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Gray’s Elegy

In perambulating the streets of the metropolis, I examine with the eye of Lavater the different physiognomies that pass before me, and can always discover traits of a poet, statesman, warrior, or philosopher among the lowest order. A dustman with a bell has struck me as being a bard who might have sung the sweetest pastoral, had Fate allowed, and whose bell had alone been heard around the neck of a favourite sheep. I have traced the steps of an ambitious statesman in a lamplighter while ascending his ladder, which seemed to totter as he mounted, and have transformed his glaring link to the torch that enkindles nations in eternal war. The energies of an Alexander, a Hannibal, or a Caesar, surely lay dormant in a Hackney coachman, whose apparent surliness is but the indignation of a great mind, labouring under unmerited poverty.

Yet as all this clemency in thinking was often thrown away, I began to devise some plan to discover the rural genius from the fancied one, some test which should infallibly succeed. I was still puzzling my brains when the following letter from a correspondent gave rise to an entire new chain of ideas in my brain, notwithstanding the letter is in perfect unison with what I have already written (somewhat singular by the bye as my subject was chosen before this letter arrived) and even suggests, in the New Patent Electrometer, a very fine touchstone wherewith to try the abilities of my proof beating geniuses — the ideas it gave rise to were of a nature very different — but read my correspondent’s letter first, and I will then talk of ideas.

Here insert the enclosed letter

The ingenuity of Electromagus’s invention is great, but that of his letter writing more so. In order to comply with the letter of my law (given in No. 1) and at the same time give a scope to his writing, he has taken a large sheet of foolscap paper, and has written the long way, as the Society will perceive, and not content with that, has employed a very small close hand, tho’ I cannot say a neat one — at this rate my correspondents may use sheets of elephant paper, and write with crow quills such a hand that it will require a double solar microscope to decipher the letters. Nay, for anything I know to the contrary, they may make use of the New Patent Paper which is made to any length whatever — nay, endless if required. They will comply with the regulation, and send but thirty lines, but each line will form an infinite series of letters, and we may in vain make use of the approximating principles of algebra to determine them. In fact, I believe to limit the encroachment of my correspondents, I must give them permission to write as much as they please, and accordingly I do hereby revoke the third condition of correspondence enacted in my first number.

I have received a curious History of a Traveller and a letter from Bedlam, both of which I must delay till my next, as business prevents my continuing my present number.