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pursuing women was the best recommendation at Court. To this only it is to be imputed, that a gentleman of Mr. Wycherley's character and sense condescends to represent the insults done to the honour of the bed, without just reproof: but to have drawn a man of probity with regard to such considerations had been a monster, and a poet had at that time discovered his want of knowing the manners of the Court he lived in, by a virtuous character in his fine gentleman, as he would show his ignorance, by drawing a vicious one to please the present audience. Mrs. Bignell did her part very happily, and had a certain grace in her rusticity, which gave us hopes of seeing her a very skilful player, and in some parts supply our loss of Mrs. Verbruggen. I cannot be of the same opinion with my friends and fellowlabourers, the Reformers of Manners, in their severity towards plays; but must allow, that a good play acted before a well-bred audience, must raise very proper incitements to good behaviour, and be the most quick and most prevailing method of giving young people a turn of sense and breeding. But as I have set up for a weekly historian, I resolve to be a faithful one;
and therefore take this public occasion to admonish a young nobleman, who came flustered into the box last night, and let him know how much all his friends were out of countenance for him. The women sat in terror of hearing something that should shock their modesty, and all the gentlemen in as much pain out of compassion to the ladies, and perhaps resentment for the indignity which was offered in coming into their presence in so disrespectful a man
Wine made him say nothing that was rude, therefore he is forgiven, upon condition he never will hazard, his offending more in this kind. As I just now hinted, I own myself of the “ Society for Reformation of Manners. We have lower instruments than those of the family of Bickerstaff, for
do you think there is a girl in England, that would wear any thing but the “ Taking of Lisle," or, “ The Battle of Oudenarde ?” They would certainly be all the fashion, until the heroes abroad had cut out some more patterns. I should fancy small skirmishes might do for under-petticoats, provided they had a siege for the upper. If our adviser were well imitated, many industrious people might be put to work. Little Mr. Dactile, now in the room, who formerly writ a song and a half, is a week gone in a very pretty work, upon this hint: he is writing an epigram to a young virgin who knits very well (it is a thousand pities he is a Jacobite): but his epigram is by way of advice to this damsel, to knit all the actions of the Pretender and the Duke of Burgundy's last campaign in the clock of a stocking. It were endless to enumerate the many hands and trades that may be employed by poets, of so useful a turn as this adviser. I shall think of it; and, in this time of taxes, shall consult a great critic employed in the custom-house, in order to propose what tax may be proper to be put upon knives, seals, rings, hangings, wrought beds, gowns, and petticoats, where any of these commodities bear mottoes, or are worked upon poetical grounds.
St. James's Coffee-house, April 15. Letters from Turin of the third instant, N. S. inform us, that his Royal Highness * employs all his address in alarming the enemy, and perplexing their speculations concerning his real designs the ensuing campaign. Contracts are entered into with the merchants of Milan, for a great number of mules to transport his provisions and ammunition. Royal Highness has ordered the train of artillery to be conveyed to Susa before the twentieth of the next
* Prince Eugene.
In the mean time, all accounts agree, that the enemy are very backward in their preparations, and almost incapable of defending themselves against an invasion, by reason of the general murmurs of their own people; which they find, are no way to be quieted, but by giving them hopes of a speedy peace.
When these letters were despatched, the Marshal de Thesse was arrived at Genoa, where he has taken much pains to keep the correspondents of the merchants of France in hopes, that measures will be found out to support the credit and commerce between that státe and Lyons; but the late declaration of the agents of Monsieur Bernard, that they cannot discharge the demands made upon them, has quite dispirited all those who are engaged in the remittances of France.
From my own Apartment, April 15. It is a very natural passion in all good members of the commonwealth, to take what care they can of their families; therefore I hope the reader will forgive me, that I desire he would go to the play called the Stratagem this evening, which is to be acted for the benefit of my near kinsman, Mr. John Bickerstaff.* I protest to you, the gentleman has not spoken to me to desire this favour; but I have a respect for him, as well in regard to consanguinity, as that he is an intimate friend of that famous and heroic actor, Mr. George Powel; who formerly played Alexander the Great in all places, though he is lately grown só reserved, as to act it only on
* A real player of that name.
N° 4. TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines
nostri est farrago libelli.
Juv. Sat. i. 85, 86.
P. “ It is usual with persons who mount the stage for the cure or information of the crowd about them, to make solemn professions of their being wholly disinterested in the pains they take for the public good. At the same time, those very men who make harangues in plush doublets, and extol their own abilities and generous inclinations, tear their lungs in vending a drug, and show no act of bounty, except it be, that they lower a demand of a crown to six, nay, to one penny. We have a contempt for such paltry barterers, and have therefore all along informed the publick, that we intend to give them our advices for our own sakes, and are labouring to make our lucubrations come to some price in money, for our more convenient support in the service of the publick. It is certain that many other schemes have been proposed to me, as a friend offered to show me a Treatise he had writ, which he called, “ The whole Art of Life; or, The introduction to great Men, illustrated in a Pack of Cards.” But, being a novice at all manner of play, I declined the offer. Another advised me, for want of money, to set up my coach, and practise physic; but, having been bred a scholar, I feared I should not succeed that way neither; therefore resolved to go on in my pre. sent project. But you are to understand, that I shall not pretend to raise a credit to this work upon the weight of my politic news only, but as my Latin
sentence in the title-page informs you,
any thing that offers for the subject of my discourse. Thus new persons, as well as new things, are to come under my consideration; as when a Toast or Wit is first pronounced such, you shall have the freshest advice of their preferment from me, with a description of the Beauty's manners, and the Wit's style,
so in whose places they are advanced : for this town is never good-natured enough to raise one without depressing another. But it is my design to avoid saying any thing of any person, which ought justly to displease; but shall endeavour, by the variety of the matter and style, to give entertainment for men of pleasure, without offence to those of business.”
White's Chocolate-house, April 18. All hearts at present pant for two ladies only, who have for some time engrossed the dominion of the town. They are indeed both exceeding charming, but differ very much in their excellencies. The beauty of Clarissa is soft, that of Chloe piercing. When
you look at Clarissa, you see the most exact harmony of feature, complexion and shape; you find in Chloe nothing extraordinary in any one of those particulars, but the whole woman irresistible. Clarissa looks languishing; Chloe kissing ; Clarissa never fails of gaining admiration ; Chloe of moving desire. The gazers at Clarissa are at first unconcerned, as if they were observing a fine picture; they who behold Chloe, at the first glance discover transport, as if they met their dearest friend. These different perfections are suitably represented by the last great painter Italy has sent us, Mr. Jervas. Clarissa is by that skilful hand placed in a manner that looks artless, and innocent of the torments she gives; Chloe is drawn with a liveliness that shows she is conscious of, but not affected with, her