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N° 56. Thursday, August 18, 1709.
£>uicqiiid agunt homines——nojtri farrago lihelli.
Whatever pood is done, whatever ill
White's Chocolate-house, August 17.
THERE is a young foreigner committed to rfiy care, who puzzles me extremely in the question* he alks about the persons of figure we meet in pablia places. He has but very little of our language, atii therefore I am mightily at a lost to express to him things, for which they have no word in that Tongue to which he was born. It has been often my answer, upon his asking, who such a fine Gentleman is? That he is what we call a Sharper, and he wants my explication. I thought it would be very unjust to tell him, he is the fame the French call Coquin; the Latins, Nebula; or the Qreeks, Vio-xah: For as custom is the most powerful of all laws, and that the order of men, we call Sharpers, are received amongst us, not only with permission, but savour, I thought it unjust to use them like persons upon; no establishment. Besides that, it would be an unpardonable dishonour to our country, to let him leave uw with an opinion, that our Nobility and Gentry keep" company with common thieves and cheats: I told him,' they were a fort of tame Hussars, that were allowed in' our cities, like the wild ones in our camp; who had alt the privileges belonging to us, but at the fame timer were not tied to our discipline or laws. Æetheus, who* is a Gentleman of too much virtue for the age he live* in, would not let this matter be thus palliated; but told, my pupil, that he was to understand that distinction, C 3 quality, quality, merit, and industry, were laid aside among us by the incursions of these civil hussars; who had got so much countenance, that the breeding and fashion of the age turned their way to the ruin of order and ceconomy in all places wheYe they are admitted. But Scphronius, who never falls into heat upon any subject, but applies proper language, temper, and skill, with which the thing in debate is to be treated, told the youth, that Gentleman had spoken nothing but what was literally tiue; but fell upon it with too much earnestness to give a true idea of that fort of people he was declaiming against, or to remedy the evil which he bewailed: For the acceptance of these men being an ill which hath crept into the conversation-part of our lives, and not into our constitution itself, it mull: be corrected where it began ; and consequently is to be amended only by bringing raillery and derision upon the persons who are guilty, or those who converse with them. For the Sharpers, continued he, at present are not as formerly, tinder the acceptation of pick-pockets; but are by custom erected into a real and venerable body of men, and have subdued us to so very particular a deference to them, that though they are known to be men without honour or conscience, no demand is called a debt of honour so indisputably as theirs. You may lose your honour to them, but they lay none against you: As the priesthood in Roman catholic countries can purchase what they please for the church, but they can alienate nothing from it. It is from this toleration, that Sharpers are to be found among all forts of assemblies and companies; and every talent amongst men is made use of by some one or ether of the society for the good of their common cause: So that an unexperienced young Gentleman is as often ensnared by his understanding as his folly: For who could be unmoved, to hear the eloquent Dromio explain the constitution, talk in the key of Cafe, with the severity of one of the antient Sages, and debate the greatest question of state in a common Chocolate or Coffee-house? Who could, I say, hear this generous declamator, without being sited at his noble zeal, and becoming his professed follower, if he might be admitted? Monoculus'% gravity would be no less inviting to a beginner in conversation -f vcrsation ; and the snare of his eloquence would equally catch one who had never seen an old Gentleman so very wise, and yet so little severe. Many other instances of extraordinary men among the brotherhood might be produced; but every man, who kqows the town, can supply himself with such. examples without their being named. Will Vafer, who is Ikilful at rinding out the ridiculous side of a thing, and placing it in a new and proper light, though he very seldom talks, thought sit to enter into this subject. He has lately lost certain loose sums, which half the income of his estate will bring in within seven years: Besides which, he proposes to marry, to set all right. He was therefore indolent enough to speak of this matter with great impartiality. "When I look around me, said this easy Gentleman, "and consider in a just balance us Bubbles, elder bro"thers, whose support our dull fathers contrived to de*' pend upon certain acres, with the rooks, whose an*' cestors left them the wide world; I cannot but admire ** their fraternity, and contemn my own. Is not Jack "Heyday much to be preferred to the Knight he has "bubbled f Jack has his equipage, his wenches, and "his followers: The Knight so far from a retinue, that "he is almost one of Jack's. However, he is gay, you
"fee, still • a florid out-side His habit speaks the
"man—And since he must unbutton, he would not be reduced outwardly, but is stripped to his upper coat. "But though I have great temptation to it, I will not "at this time give the history of the losing side; but "speak the effects of my thoughts, since the loss of my *' money, upon the gaining people. This ill fortune "makes most men contemplative and given to reading; "at least it has happened so to me; aud the rise and "fall of the family of Sharpers in all ages, has been my "contemplation." '.
I find, all times have had of this people: Homer, in. his excellent heroic Poem, calls them Myrmidons, who were a body that kept among themselves, and had nothing to lose; therefore never spared either Grjttk or Trojan,,when they fell in their way, upon a party. But there is a memorable verse, which gives us an account of what broke that whole body, and made both Greek' and Trojans masters of the secret of their warfare and plunder. There is nothing so pedantic as many quota
battalion there were two officers, called Tberjites and Pandarus : They were both less renowned for their beauty than their wit; but each had this particular happiness, that they were plunged over head and ears in the fame water, which made Achilles invulnerable; and had ever after certain gifts, which the rest of the world were never to enjoy. Among others, they were never to know they were the most dreadful to the fight of all mortals, never to be diffident of their own abilities, nevep to blush, or ever to be wounded but by each other. Though some historians fay, gaming began among the Lydians to divert hunger, I could cite many authorities to prove it had its rife at the siege of Troy; and that UlyJ/is won the sevenfold shield at Hazard. But be that it may, the ruin of the corps of the Myrmidons pro. ctedcd from a breach between Therfites and Pandarus. The first of these was leader of a squadron, wherein tha latter was but a private man; but having all the good qualities necessary for a parrizan, he was the favourite cf his officer. But the whole history of the several changes in the order of Sharpers, from those Myrmidons to our modern men of address and plunder, will require that we consult some antieut manuscripts. As we make* these enquiries, we shall diurnally communicate them to the Public, that the Knights of the Industry may be better understood by the good people of England. These sort of men, in some ages, were sycophants and flatterers only, and were endued with arts of life to capacitate them for the conversation of the rich and great; but now the Bubble courts the impostor, and pretends at the utmost to be but his equal. To clear up the reasons and causes in such revolutions, and the different conduct between fools and cheats, shall be one of our labours for the good of this kingdom. How therefore pimps, footmen, fiddlers, and lacqueys, are elevated into companions in this present age, shall be accounted for from the influence of the planet Merely, on this island; the ascen
sions; therefore I shall inform
dency of which Sharper over Sol, who is a patron of the
St. James's Coffee-house, August 17;
** IIJ E have nothing at present new, but* tHat'We^ "VV understand by some Owlers, old people die in' "France. Letters from Paris of the tenth instant, N. Si "fay, that Monsieur d''Andre, Marquis d'Oraifon, died "at eighty-five: Monsieur Brumars, at one hundred' ** and two years, died for love of his wife who was* "ninety-two at her death, after seventy years cohabita- ** tion. Nicholas de Boutheiller, paristi-preacher of SaJJ'e** uille, being a bachelor, held out, to one hundred andf "sixteen. Dame Claude de MaJJy, relict of Monsieur "Peter de Monceaux, Grand Audiences of France, died1 "on the seventh instant, aged one hundred and seven. '* Letters of the seventeenth say, Monsieur Chrestien de> "Lamoignon died on the seventh instant, a person of' "great piety and virtue; but having died young, his"age is concealed for reasons of state.' On the fifteenthi "his Most Christian Majesty, attended by the Dauphin,. "the Duke of Burgundy, the Duke and Dutchess of "Berry, assisted at the procession which he yearly per-"forms in memory of a vow made by Lewis- the' "Thirteenth, in 1638. For which act of piety, his"Majesty received Absolution of his Confessor, for theC 5, breachi