Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

as we ourselves. This reflection has led me into the consideration of the use of speech; and made me look over in my memory, all my acuaintance of both sexes, to know to which I may more justly impute the sin of superfluous discourse in regard to conversation, without entering into it, as it repects religion.

|

I foresee my acquaintance will immediately, upon starting this subject, ask me how I shall celebrate Mrs. Alse Copswood, the Yorkshire huntress, who is come to town lately, and moves as if she were on her nag, and going to take a five-bar gate; and is as loud as if she were following her dogs I can easily answer that; for she is as soft as Damon, in comparison of her brother-in-law, Tom Bellfrey, who is the most accomplished man in this kingdom for all gentleman-like activities and accomplishments. It is allowed, that he is a professed enemy to .he Italian performers in music. But then for our own native manner, according to the customs and known usages of our island, he is to be preferred, for the generality of the pleasure he bestows, much before those fellows, though they sing to full theatres. For what is a theatrical voice to that of a fox-hunter? I have been at a musical entertainment in an open field, where it amazed me to hear to what pitches the chief masters would reach. There was a meeting near our seat in Staffordshire, and the most eminent of all the counties of England were at it. How wonderful was the harmony between men and dogs! Robin Cartail of Bucks was to answer to Jowler; Mr. Tinbreast of Cornwall was appointed to open with Sweetlips, and beau Slimber, a Londoner, undertook to keep up with Trips, a whelp just set in Tom Bellfrey and Ringwood were coupled together, to fill the cry on all occasions, and be in at the death of the fox, hare, or stag; for which, both the dog and the man were excellently suited, and loved one another, and were as much together as Banister and King. When Jowler first alarmed the field, Cartail repeated every note; Sweetlips's treble succeeded, and shook the wood; Tinbreast echoed a quarter of a mile beyond it. We were soon, after all, at a loss, until we rode up and found Trips and Slimber at a default in half notes: but the day and the tune was recovered by Tom Bellfrey and Ringwood, to the great joy of us all, though they drowned every other voice for Bellfrey carries a note four furlongs, three rods, and six paces, farther than any other in England.

I fear the mention of this will be thought a digression from my purpose about speech: but I answer, no. Since this is used where speech rather should be employed, it may come into consideration in the same chapter: for Mr. Bellfrey being at a visit where I was, viz. at his cousin's (Lady Dainty's) in Soho-square, was asked, what entertainments they had in the

country? Now, Bellfrey is very ignorant, and much a clown; but confident withal. In a word, he struck up a fox-chase; lady Dainty's dog, Mr. Sippet, as she calls him, started, jumped out of his lady's lap, and fell a-barking. Bellfrey went on, and called all the neighbouring parishes into the square. Never was woman in such confusion as that delicate lady. But there was no stopping her kinsman. A room full of ladies fell into the most violent laughter: My lady looked as if she was shrieking: Mr. Sippet in the middle of the room, breaking his heart with barking, but all of us unheard. As soon as Bellfrey became silent, up gets my lady, and takes him by the arm, to lead him off; Bellfrey was in his boots. As she was hurrying him away, his spurs take hold of her petticoat; his whip throws down a cabinet of china: he cries, 'What! are your crocks rotten? are your petticoats ragged? a man cannot walk in your house for trincums.'

Every county of Great Britain has one hundred or more of this sort of fellows, who roar instead of speaking. Therefore, if it be true, that we women are also given to a greater fluency of words than is necessary, sure, she that disturbs but a room or a family, is more to be tolerated, than one who draws together whole parishes and counties, and sometimes (with an estate that might make him the blessing and ornament of the world around him) has no other view and ambition, but to be an animal above dogs and horses, without the relish of any one enjoyment which is peculiar to the faculties of human nature. I know it will here be said, that talking of mere country squires at this rate, is, as it were, to write against Valentine and Orson. To prove any thing against the race of men, you must take them as they are adorned with education; as they live in courts, or have received instructions in colleges.

But I am so full of my late entertainment by Mr. Bellfrey, that I must defer pursuing this subject to another day; and wave the proper observations upon the different offenders in this kind, some by profound eloquence on small occasions, others by degrading speech upon great circumstances. Expect, therefore, to hear of the whisperer without business, the laugher without wit, the complainer without receiving injuries, and a very large crowd, which I shall not forestall, who are common (though not commonly observed) impertinents, whose tongues are too voluble for their brains, and are the general despisers of us women, though we have their superiors, men of sense, for our servants.

Will's Coffee-house, July 3.

A very ingenious gentleman was complaining this evening, that the players are grown so

severe critics, that they would not take in his play, though it has as many fine things in it as any play that has been writ since the days of Dryden. He began his discourse about his play with a preface.

speculations which are on foot concerning what was imported by the last advices. There are, it seems, sixty battalions and seventeen squadrons appointed to serve in the siege of Tournay; the garrison of which place consists of but eleven battalions and four squadrons. Letters of the twenty-ninth of the last month from Berlin, have brought advice, that the kings of Denmark and Prussia, and his majesty

"There is,' said he, 'somewhat (however we palliate it) in the very frame and make of us, that subjects our minds to chagrin and irresolution on any emergency of time or place. The difficulty grows on our sickened imagina-Augustus, were, within few days, to come to an interview at Potsdam. These letters mention, that two Polish princes, of the family of Sapieba and Lubermirsky, lately arrived from Paris, confirm the reports of the misery in France for want of provisions, and give a particular instance of it; which is, that on the day monsieur Rouille returned to court, the common people gathered in crowds about the dauphin's coach, crying,' Peace and bread, bread and peace.'

tion, under all the killing circumstances of danger and disappointment. This we see, not only in the men of retirement and fancy, but in the characters of the men of action; with this only difference, the coward sees the danger, and sickens under it; the hero, warmed by the difficulty, dilates, and rises in proportion to that, and in some sort makes use of his very fears to disarm it. A remarkable instance of this we have in the great Cæsar, when he came to the Rubicon, and was entering upon a part, perhaps the most hazardous he ever bore (certainly the most ungrateful) a war with his countrymen. When his mind brooded o'er personal affronts, perhaps his anger burned with a desire of revenge. But when more serious reflections laid before him the hazard of the enterprize, with the dismal consequences which were like to attend it, aggravated by a special circumstance, What figure it would bear in the world, or how be excused to posterity! What shall he do?"-His honour, which was his religion, bids him arm; and he sounds the inclinations of his party, by this set speech:

Mrs. Distaff has taken upon her, while she writes this paper, to turn her thoughts wholly to the service of her own sex, and to propose remedies against the greatest vexations attending female life. She has for this end written a small treatise concerning the Second Word, with an appendix on the use of a Reply, very proper for all such as are married to persons either ill-bred, or ill-natured. There is in this tract a digression for the use of virgins, concerning the words, I Will.

66

A gentlewoman who has a very delicate ear, wants a maid who can whisper, and help her in the government of her family. If the said servant can clear-starch, lisp, and tread softly, she shall have suitable encouragement in her wages.

Casar to his Party at the Rubicon.
Great Jove, attend, and thou my native soil,
Safe in my triumphs, glutted in my spoil;
Witness with what reluctance I oppose
My arms to thine, secure of other foes.
What passive breast can bear disgrace like mine?
Traitor!-For this I conquer'd on the Rhine,
Endur'd their ten years drudgery in Ganl,
Adjourn'd their fate and sav'd the Capitol.
I grew by every guilty triumph less;

The crowd, when drunk with joy, their souls express,
Impatient of the war, yet fear success.
Brave actious dazzle with too bright a ray,
Like birds obscene, they chatter at the day;
Giddy with rule, and valiant in debate,
They throw the die of war, to save the state.
And Gods! to gild ingratitude with fame,
Assume the patriot's, we the rebel's name.
Farewell, my friends, your general forlorn,
To your bare pity, and the public scorn,
Mast lay that honour and his laurel down,
To serve the vain caprices of the gown;
Expos'd to all indignities, the brave
Deserve of those they gloried bat to save,
To rods and axes!--No, the slaves can't dare
Play with my grief, and tempt my last despair.
This, shall the honours whità it won, maintain,
Or do me justice, ere I hug my chain.'

St. James's Coffee-house, July 4. There has arrived no mail since our last; so that we have no manner of foreign news, except we were to give you for such, the many

[blocks in formation]

bloody custom of duelling; which, that you have already in some measure performed, will appear to the public in the following no less true than heroic story.

'MR. BICKERSTAFF, July 5, 1709. 'You have hinted a generous intention of taking under your consideration the whisperers without business, and laughers without occa'A noble gentleman of this city, who has the sion; as you tender the welfare of your country, honour of serving his country as major of the I entreat you not to forget or delay so publictrainbands, being at the general mart of stock-spirited a work. Now or never is the time. jobbers, called Jonathan's, endeavouring to Many other calamities may cease with the war; raise himself (as all men of honour ought) to but I dismally dread the multiplication of these the degree of colonel at least; it happened mortals under the ease and luxuriousness of a that he bought the bear of another officer, who, settled peace, half the blessing of which may though not commissioned in the army, yet no be destroyed by them. Their mistake lies cerless eminently serves the public than the other, tainly here, in a wretched belief, that their in raising the credit of the kingdom, by raising mimicry passes for real business, or true wit. that of the stocks. However, having sold the Dear sir, convince them, that it never was, is, bear, and words arising about the delivery, the or ever will be, either of them; nor ever did, most noble major, no less scorning to be out- does, or to all futurity ever can, look like either witted in the coffee-house, than to run into of them; but that it is the most cursed disthe field according to method, abused the turbance in nature, which is possible to be inother with the titles of rogue, villain, bear-skin- flicted on mankind, under the noble definition man, and the like. Whereupon satisfaction of a sociable creature. In doing this, sir, you was demanded, and accepted; so, forth the will oblige more humble servants than can find major marched, commanding his adversary to room to subscribe their names.' follow. To a most spacious room in the sheriff's house, near the place of quarrel, they come; where, having due regard to what you have lately published, they resolved not to shed one another's blood in that barbarous manner you prohibited; yet, not willing to put up affronts without satisfaction, they stripped, and, in decent manner, fought full fairly with their wrathful hands. The combat lasted a quarter of an hour; in which time victory was often doubtful, and many a dry blow was strenuously laid on by each side, until the major, finding his adversary obstinate, unwilling to give him further chastisement, with most shrill voice cried out, “I am satisfied, enough!" Whereupon the combat ceased, and both were friends immediately.

6

Thus the world may see, how necessary it is to encourage those men, who make it their business to instruct the people in every thing necessary for their preservation. I am informed, a body of worthy citizens have agreed on an address of thanks to you, for what you have writ on the foregoing subject, whereby they acknowledge one of their highly esteemed officers preserved from death.

"Your humble servant,

'A, B.'

I fear the word bear is hardly to be understood among the polite people; but I take the meaning to be, that one who insures a real value upon an imaginary thing, is said to sell a bear, an is the same thing as a promise among courtiers, or a vow between lovers. I have writ to my brother to hasten to town; and hope that printing the letters directed to him, which I know not how to answer, will bring him speedily; and, therefore, I add also the following:

White's Chocolate-house, July 6.

In pursuance to my last date from hence, I am to proceed on the accounts I promised of several personages among the men, whose couspicuous fortunes, or ambition in showing their follies, have exalted them above their fellows : The levity of their minds is visible in their every word and gesture, and there is not a day passes but puts me in mind of Mr. Wycherley's character of a coxcomb: 'He is ugly all over with the affectation of the fine gentlemen.' Now though the women may put on softness in their looks, or affected severity, or impertinent gayety, or pert smartness, their self-love and admiration cannot, under any of these disguises, appear so invincible as that of the men. You may easily take notice, that in all their actions there is a secret approbation, either in the tone of their voice, the turn of their body, or cast of their eye, which shows that they are extremely in their own favour.

Take one of your men of business, he shall keep you half an hour with your hat off, entertaining you with his consideration of that affair you spoke of to him last, until he has drawn a crowd that observes you in this grimace. Then, when he is public enough, he immediately runs into secrets, and falls a-whispering. You and he make breaks with adverbs; as, But however, thus far;' and then you whisper again, and so on, until they who are about you are dispersed, and your busy man's vanity is no longer gratified by the notice taken of what importance he is, and how inconsiderable you are; for your pretender to business is never in secret, but in public.

There is my dear lord Nowhere, of all men the most gracious and most obliging, the terror of valets de chambre, whom he oppresses with

time

good-breeding, by enquiring for my good lord, and for my good lady's health. This inimitable courtier will whisper a privy-counsellor's lacquey with the utmost goodness and condescension, to know when they next sit; and is thoroughly taken up, and thinks he has a part in a secret, if he knows that there is a secret. 'What it is,' he will whisper you, that will discover; then he shrugs, and calls you back again—' Sir, I need not say to you, that these things are not to be spoken of―and harkye, no names, I would not be quoted.' What adds to the jest is, that his emptiness has its moods and seasons, and he will not condescend to let you into these his discoveries, except he is in very good humour, or has seen somebody of fashion talk to you. He will keep his nothing to himself, and pass by and overlook as well as the best of them; not observing that he is insolent when he is gracious, and obliging when he is haughty. Show me a woman so inconsiderable as this frequent character.

But my mind, now I am in, turns to many no less observable: Thou dear Will Shoestring! I profess myself in love with thee! how shall I speak thee? how shall I address thee? how shall I draw thee? thou dear outside! Will you be combing your wig, playing with your box, or picking your teeth? or choosest thou rather to be speaking; to be speaking for thy only purpose in speaking, to show your teeth? Rub them no longer, dear Shoestring:* do not premeditate murder: do not for ever whiten. Oh! that for my quiet and his own they were rotten!

But I will forget him, and give my hand to the courteous Umbra. He is a fine man indeed, but the soft creature bows below my apron-string, before he takes it; yet, after the first ceremonies, he is as familiar as my physician, and his insignificancy makes me half ready to complain to him of all I would to my doctor. He is so courteous, that he carries half the messages of ladies' ails in town to their midwives and nurses. He understands too the art of medicine as far as to the cure of a pimple, or a rash. On occasions of the like importance, he is the most assiduous of all men living, in consulting and searching precedents from family to family; then he speaks of his obsequiousness and diligence in the style of real services. If you sneer at him, and thank him for bis great friendship, he bows, and says, Madam, all the good offices in my power, while I have any knowledge or credit, shall be at your service.' The consideration of so shallow a being, and the intent application with which he pursues trifles has made me carefully

Sir William Whitlocke, knight, member for Oxon, bencher of the Middle Temple: He is the learned knight

mentionet Tat. No 43.

reflect upon that sort of men we usually call an impertinent and I am, upon mature deliberation, so far from being offended with him, that I am really obliged to him; for though he will take you aside, and talk half an hour to you upon matters wholly insignificant with the most solemn air, yet I consider, that these things are of weight in his imagination, and he thinks he is communicating what is for my service. If, therefore, it be a just rule, to judge of a man by his intention, according to the equity of good breeding, he that is impertinently kind or wise, to do you service, ought in return to have a proportionable place both in your affection and esteem; so that the courteous Umbra deserves the favour of all his acquaintance; for though he never served them, he is ever willing to do it, and believes he does it.

As impotent kindness is to be returned with all our abilities to oblige; so impotent malice is to be treated with all our force to depress it. For this reason Fly-blow (who is received in all the families in town, through the degeneracy and iniquity of their manners) is to be treated like a knave, though he is one of the weakest of fools: he has by rote, and at second-hand, all that can be said of any man of figure, wit, and virtue, in town. Name a man of worth, and this creature tells you the worst passage of his life. Speak of a beautiful woman, and this puppy will whisper the next man to him, though he has nothing to say of her. He is a fly that feeds on the sore part, and would have nothing to live on if the whole body were in health. You may know him by the frequency of pronouncing the particle but; for which reason I never heard him spoke of with common charity, without using my but against him for a friend of mine saying the other day, Mrs. Distaff has wit, good-humour, virtue, and friendship; this oaf added, 'But she is not handsome.' Coxcomb! the gentleman was saying what I was, not what I was not.'

:

"

St. James's Coffee-house, July 6. The approaches before Tournay have been carried on with great success; and our advices from the camp before that place of the eleventh instant say that they had already made a lodgment on the glacis. Two hundred boats were come up the Scheld with the heavy artillery and ammunition, which would be employed in dismounting the enemy's defences, and raised on the batteries the fifteenth. A great body of miners are summoned to the camp, to countermine the works of the enemy. We are convinced of the weakness of the garrison by a certain account, that they called a council of war to consult whether it was not advisable to march into the citadel, and leave the town defenceless. We are assured, that when the confederate army was advancing towards the camp of marshal Villars, that general dispatched

M

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Whate'er men do, or say, or think, or dream,
Our motley paper scizes for its theme.

BY ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, ESQ.

Grecian Coffee-house, July 7.

As I am called forth by the immense love I bear to my fellow-creatures, and the warm inclination I feel within me, to stem, as far as I can, the prevailing torrent of vice and ignorance; so I cannot more properly pursue that noble impulse than by setting forth the excellence of virtue and knowledge in their native and beautiful colours. For this reason, I made my late excursion to Oxford, where those qualities appear in their highest lustre, and are the only pretences to honour and distinction. Superiority is there given in proportion to men's advancement in wisdom and learning; and that just rule of life is so universally received among those happy people, that you shall see an earl walk bare-headed to the son of the meanest artificer, in respect to seven years more worth and knowledge than the nobleman is possessed of. In other places they bow to men's fortunes, but here to their understandings. It is not to be expressed, how pleasing the order, the discipline, the regularity of their lives, is to a philosopher, who has, by many years experience in the world, learned to contemn every thing but what is revered in this mansion of select and well-taught spirits. The magnificence of their palaces, the greatness of their revenues, the sweetness of their groves and retirements, seem equally adapted for the residence of princes and philosophers; and a familiarity with objects of splendour, as well as places of recess, prepares the inhabitants with an equanimity for their future fortunes, whether bumble or illustrious. How was I pleased when I looked round at St. Mary's and could, in the faces of the ingenious youth, see ministers of state, chancellors, bishops, and judges. Here

P.

only is human life! Here only the life of mar is that of a rational being! Here men understand and are employed in works worthy their noble nature. This transitory being passes away in an employment not unworthy a future state, the contemplation of the great decrees of Providence. Each man lives as if he were to answer the questions made to Job,' Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Who shut up the sea with doors, and said, 'Hitherto thou shalt come, and no farther?' Such speculations make life agreeable, and death welcome.

But, alas! I was torn from this noble society by the business of this dirty mean world, and the cares of fortune: for I was obliged to be in Loudon against the seventh day of the term, and accordingly governed myself by my Oxford almanack, and came last night; but find, to my great astonishment, that this ignorant town began the term on the twenty-fourth of the last month, in opposition to all the learning and astronomy of the famous University of which I have been speaking; according to which, the term certainly was to commence on the first instant. You may be sure a man, who has turned his studies as I have, could not be mistaken in point of time; for knowing I was to come to town in term, I examined the passing moments very narrowly, and called an eminent astronomer to my assistance. Upon very strict observation we found, that the cold has been so severe this last winter (which is allowed to have a benumbing quality) that it retarded the earth in moving round, from Christmas to this season, full seven days and two seconds. My learned friend assured me further, that the earth had lately received a shogg from a comet that crossed its vortex, which, if it had come ten degrees nearer to us had made us lose this whole term. I was in

deed once of opinion that the Gregorian computation was the most regular, as being eleven days before the Julian; but am now fully con. vinced, that we ought to be seven days after the chancellor and judges, and eighteen before the pope of Rome; and that the Oxonian computation is the best of the three.

These are the reasons which I have gathered from philosophy and nature; to which I can add other circumstances in vindication of the account of this learned body who publish this almanack.

It is notorious to philosophers, that joy and grief can hasten and delay time. Mr. Locke is of opinion, that a man in great misery may

The humour of this paper is not peculiarly restricted

to the Oxford almanack for the year 1709; it is equally applicable to all the Oxford almanacks before or since that period, being founded on the difference between the University terms and the Law terms, just as obvious now

as it was then, as may be seen, by comparing the Oxford with the London almanack.

« ForrigeFortsæt »