8vo, pp. 62, with engraved frontispiece, folding gameboard, full-page woodcut at end, upper margins trimmed close affecting ‘A’ in title and many headlines; modern quarter morocco.
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A Scheme for a New Lottery: or, a Husband and Coach and Six for forty Shillings. Being very advantageous to both Sexes; where a Man may have a Coach and Six, and a Wife for Nothing. Here’s a Whim Wham newly come over, and who will prick at my Lottery-Book? With a Scheme to prevent the Downfal of the Ch[aritab]le Cor[poratio]n. By an old Sportsman … To which is prefix’d the Author’s Picture drawn to the Life; being fit to be hung in the Lodgings of all Ladies of Pleasure, as a Memento Mori. With a recommendatory Poem in favour of the said Lottery, to encourage Maids, Widows, single Women, Batchelors and Widowers to put in. Also a Scheme scored in Lines, with the several prizes, where Ladies may divert themselves by pricking Blindfold in the said Lottery before the Time of Drawing, to try their Fortunes. And likewise a View of the Town by the Highgate Spy, taken thro’ a Glass of the Projector’s own making … in which you may see those who can’t see themselves: with an Account of what Persons of both Sexes are excluded the Advantage of putting into the said Lottery.
First edition of this facetious proposal to match, for the fee of forty shillings each, 50,000 ‘maids and widows’ with a similar number of ‘gentlemen and tradesmen’, by lottery. The ‘gentlemen and tradesmen’ include ‘500 Lawyers, 200 Petty-foggers … 2 Scotchmen, both Pedlars, 500 Broken Booksellers’ and an astonishing ‘21,000 Publishers’. Many of these professions appear on an inserted folding game sheet on which ladies may try their luck in advance (blindfolded, with a pin). The text includes a ludicrous multiplicity of technical conditions pertaining to the scheme, some of which involve allusions to such contemporary figures as Colley Cibber, Alexander Pope, and the eccentric ‘Orator’ Henley.
As well as being genuinely comic and generally satirical, A Scheme for a New Lottery has a specific target in the public’s fascination with get-rich-quick schemes, as epitomized by the recently burst South-Sea Bubble, to which there are many references. Most prominent, however, is the Charitable Corporation, an inappropriately named organization, chartered in 1707, whose stated purpose was to conduct large-scale pawnbroking. In fact this was a swindle of massive proportions; the directors gambled wildly with the shareholders’ funds, and the corporation provided thieves and pickpockets with an easy method of disposing of stolen valuables. In 1731 the scheme collapsed, and more than half a million pounds vanished.
The sheets of A Scheme were re-issued with a cancel title-page as The Ladies Lottery … written by Dean Swift (1732), an impudent mis-attribution (Teerink-Scouten 969). Kress 4041.
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