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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)

An Academy of Wits

From “A Tale of a Tub”

IT is intended that a large academy be erected, capable of containing nine thousand seven hundred forty-and-three persons, which, by modest computation, is reckoned to be pretty near the current number of wits in this island. These are to be disposed into the several schools of this academy, and there pursue those studies to which their genius most inclines them.

The undertaker himself will publish his proposals with all convenient speed; to which I shall refer the curious reader for a more particular account, mentioning at present only a few of the principal schools. There is first a large periphrastic school, with French and Italian masters; there is also the spelling-school, a very spacious building; the school of looking-glasses; the school of swearing; the school of critics; the school of salivation; the school of hobby-horses; the school of poetry; the school of tops; the school of spleen; the school of gaming; with many others, too tedious to recount. No person to be admitted a member into any of these schools, without an attestation under two sufficient persons’ hands, certifying him to be a wit.