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SIR ALEXANDER DRAWCANSIR, Knt.
CENSOR OF GREAT BRITAIN.
NUMB. 3. SATURDAY, JANUARY 11, 1752.
Majores nusquam rhonci; juvenesque, senesque,
my custody, it appears that at a censorial inquisition, taken Tricesimo qto. Eliz. by one of my illustrious predecessors, no more than nineteen critics were cnrolled in the cities of London and Westminster; whereas, at the last inquisition, taken by myself 25° Geo. Ildi, the number of persons claiming a right that order, appears to amount to 276,302.
This immense increase is, I believe, to be na otherwise accounted for, than from the very blameable negligence of the late censors, who have, indeed, converted their office into a mere sinecure, no inquisition, as I can find, having been taken since the censorship of Isaac Bickerstaff, esq. in the latter end of the reign of Queen Anne.
To the same neglect are owing many encroachments on all the other orders of the society. That of gentlemen in particular, I observe to have greatly increased, and that of sharpers to have decreased in the same proportion within these few years.
All these irregularities it is my firm purpose to endeavour at reforming, and to restore the high office with which I am invested to its antient use and dignity. This, however, must be attempted with prudence and by slow degrees; for habitual and inveterate evils are to be cured by slow alteratives, and not by violent remedies. Of this the good emperor Pertinax will be a lasting example. * This worthy man,' says Dion Cassius, perished
by endeavouring too hastily to reform all the evils which infested his country.
He knew not, it seems, though otherwise a man of very great knowledge, that it is not safe, nor indeed possible, to effect a reformation in too many matters at
a rule which, if it holds true in private • life, is much more so when it is applied to those evils that affect the publick.'
I thought it, therefore, not prudent, in the hurry of my above inquisition to make any exceptions, but admitted all who offered to be enrolled. This is a method which I shall not pursue hereafter, being fully resolved to inquire into the qualifications of
And that all persons may come prepared to prove their right to the order of critics, I shall here set down those several qualifications which will be insisted on before any will be admitted to that high