The North American Review/Volume 1/Curious Advertisement

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The following curious English advertisement appeared in the Times and Morning Chronicle in June, 1813.

One who has lived, thus far, for others, would fain do, at length though late, a little for himself. A created being, more trespassed upon than the Advertiser, never, perhaps, had existence. By his efforts, two millions and a half of property, distributed among more than fifteen hundred owners, has been bettered full 50 per cent: whilst the honest factor for this great concern (shining in borrowed robes, and appropriating to himself a series of documents addressed to Parliament, to Government, and to publick Boards, the whole composed by the Advertiser,) never darkened the doors of the latter, from the moment his purpose was answered—silent scorn being the only emotion which pride would permit in the author of the improvement. By the Advertiser’s means, high distinctions have been attained by individuals, who, after reiterated failure on their own parts, had relinquished all hope—the benefitted never troubling the benefactor, with a single question as to the state of his treasury. A healer of ill bloods and composer of quarrels, the Advertiser’s rule has ever been (bating the egotism) to do, in all cases, the most good and least harm (the circle of the obliged comprehending no less a personage than the present Ruler of this Empire:) yet, is the history of the returns he has met with a practical compendium of all that was ever said or sung of “short memory succeeding service.” After wasting a rather lengthened career in the uses and abuses of other people, the Advertiser finds himself, at not a very early epoch, in a plight of fortune, which is, indeed, very susceptible of melioration. It is such melioration he now aims at. What has hitherto been given gratis, would in future be devoted to thrift; and the change is not impossible that a course of anterior knight-errantry might terminate in sordidness: for he can neither work cheap nor trust much—The man who has seen more of the world and its ways than the Advertiser OUGHT NOT to be a novice; and strange it would be, if, in extra professional exigencies, which alone are those contemplated in this publication, his experience should be found wholly useless. Rare must be the grievance, singular the pursuit, to which the Advertiser’s attention could be dedicated without effect;—and most arduous, if they equal in difficulty many which he has mastered. How often are objects of the first magnitude lost from ignorance what to do? How decisive of success is a well chosen auxiliary? The perfection of advice frequently is—by whom to be advised.—No particular line of proffered utility is here chalked out. With the seeker after right ends, or the sufferer under wrongs, the presumption is left, whether the description of co-operator inferrible from this advertisement may be worth cultivating. It remains only to be added, that the Advertiser will meddle with nothing immoral or illegal and that, however legal or moral, he must be allowed to decline what is disagreeable.—To frank applications the frankest answers will be given; whilst it is hinted to the merely curious, that their research may chance to turn out not the safest experiment.—Direct by letter only, and post paid, to A. B. C. No. 17, Piccadilly.