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John Whalley

According to Gilbert, Whalley was in constant combat with a number of other astrologers and almanack makers operating in Ireland. One of these was Andrew Cumpsty. In his almanack for 1701, Whalley published a polemic against Cumpsty detailing some grievances. What follows is transcribed from the original, and gives a sense of the rivalry to which I imagine each was addicted, judging from the tone. To make the text easier on the eyes, I have separated it into paragraphs, but maintained the original punctuation, capitalisation and spelling.

The title page of the almanack from which the text is taken shows:

Advice from the Stars,
or an Almanack for the Year of Christ 1701
by John Whalley, practitioner of physick and astrology.
printed by the author next door to the Fleece in St Nicholas St."

Readers - 'tis an old saying that Two of a trade do seldom agree; And tho' it hath in some measure been verified in Cumpsty and me: Yet upon my word, it ever was, and is much against my natural Temper or Inclination to Disagree with anyone whatsoever; much less with any Pretender to Arts or Sciences otherwise than for support and Defence of the Truth. On the other hand, I never could believe it consistent with reason, to suffer myself to be Basely and Causelessly buffetted, without doing myself the Justice of Self Defence; which prudent Nature hath wisely Taught the most Despicable animals. And such is my case with Cumpsty.

I did not begin with him, but he with me; and (without the least Cause or Provocation in an Epistle to the Bundle of Nonsense he stil'd) for the year 1697 with an assurance beyond measure; falsely Insinuated, that it was A LIE notorious and abominable in me, (as I did) in my almanack for the year preceding (in opposition to some Hyperbolical aspersions of Mr Crook, his printer) to assert that John McComb was beholden to me for Directions to write and Print his first Almanack; and for an Epistle which recommended that and him to the world; And on the contrary that I was Beholden to McComb for assisting me in writing my almanacks, which he falsely desires all People to believe was not writ in prejudice to me, but in Defence of his Deceas'd friend McComb: when as in truth it was only and meerly a piece of his Lob-Cunning, to lessen the Repute of my Almanacks, and make the better room for his Yearly Nonsense.

But finding that all would not answer his Needy Expectations; He Combin'd with his Printers and others, to give that his lying Epistle a removal, and instead of his own, to Counterfeit and add the Title Page of my almanacks to his; and to impose it upon the world as mine for the same year; for which they were by the Rt Hon the Lord Chief Justice Pyne, bound over to answer at the King's Bench in Michaelmas term 1696. And to avoid the consequences due to so base a Cheat, put both upon myself and the country; Cumpsty obliged himself in presence of several creditable gentlemen, to give acknowledgement in his hand, to be printed in my almanack for the year 1698.

But finding he scorned as much to keep his promise, as he did to be an Inch behind hand, with the most Notorious of liars; (lest my silence should be construed a concession to his falsities) I thought fit by discussing his nonsense for the year 1698, to let the world see how little the fellow understood or cared what he writ; and that I was able to Teach not only McComb but his scholar Cumpsty also, who pretends to abundance more tho' in truth he will never understand half so much as the much more ingenious McComb.

But as the old saying is, In for a Penny, in for a Pound; the worthy Mr Cumpsty knowing he could not well be exposed a greater liar than he had before Published himself, and rather than atone, thought fit in a Dying Pamphlet, posted upon the Gates, and most other public places both in the city and country, in the most scurrilous terms his wooden skull was capable of. Villainously charged me with several abominable and Notorious falsities, and challenged me to a debate before the College; which when I invited him to, he believed it prudent to decline. And therefore, to acquit myself of so preposterous a Blockhead's rascally charges, I thought fit in the same way he did his challenge, upon the Posts to give him a modest reply; in which (in his almanack for last year) he says I call the Pictures of the Owles his scholars.

To do the fellow justice, I know he has as slender a title to understanding as most that even pretended to be in print: But the case there is so plain that the placing of Owles there, was to represent his Printer Crook and the rest of his witty councellors, that put him upon a cause he was not able to defend: that I cannot but judge him in this case to smell more of the Knave than the Fool and that his construing the Owles there to be his Scholars, was as cunning to exasperate them to do that with their hands, which he could not do one way or another. So that to confirm his skin too thick to blush at villainies and lies with a continuando, this is the Naked Truth of the matter, between me and my friend Cumpsty, and if he be disturbed let him thank himself and Councellors for it.

And as to the earnest he boasts of, given at Donny-Brook Fair (when by the scent of my cane, he staggered and showed his bald pate to the multitude) he shall be welcome to more of the same, when and where he dares or pleaseth: Provided it be alone and fairly; and not as when in Copper Alley (like a man of courage) with no less than 18 or 20 to assist him, he set upon the single person of John Whalley.