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N° 38. THURSDAY, JULY 7, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines
nostri est farrago libelli.
Juv. Sat. i. 85, 86.
By Mrs. JENNY DISTAFF, Half-sister to
From my own Apartment, July 6. | FIND among my brother's papers the following letter verbatim, which I wonder how he could suppress so long as he has, since it was sent him for no other end, but to show the good effect his writings have already had upon the ill customs of the age. (SIR,
London, June 23. - The end of all public papers ought to be the benefit and instruction, as well as the diversion of the readers; to which I see none so truly conducive as your late performances ; especially those tending
to the rooting out from among us that unchristianlike and 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.
"A noble gentleman of this city, who has the honour of serving his country as Major of the Trainbands, being at the general mart of stock-jobbers, called Jonathan's, endeavouring to raise himself (as all men of honour ought to the degree of colonel at least; it happened that he bought the bear of another officer, who, though not commissioned in the army, yet no less eminently serves the public than the other in raising the credit of the kingdom by raising that of the stocks. However, having sold the bear, and words arising about the delivery, the most noble Major, no less scorning to be out-witted in the coffee-house, than to run into the field, according to method, abused the other with the titles of rogue, villain, bear-skin man, and the like. Whereupon satisfaction was demanded, and accepted; so, forth the Major marched, commanding his adversary to 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.
• 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 highlyesteemed 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, and 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: "MR. BICKERSTAFF,
July 5, 1709. "You have hinted a generous intention of taking under your consideration the whisperers without business, and laughers without occasion; as you tender the welfare of your country, I entreat you not to forget or delay so public-spirited a work. Now or never is the time. Many other calamities may cease with the war; but I dismally dread the multiplication of these mortals under the ease and luxuriousness of a settled peace, half the blessing of which may be destroyed by them. Their mistake lies certainly here, in a wretched belief, that their mimickry passes for real business, or true wit. Dear Sir, convince them, that it never was, is, or ever will be, either of them; nor ever did, does, or to all futurity ever can, look like either of them ; but that it is the most cursed disturbance in nature, which is possible to be inflicted on mankind, under the noble definition of a sociable creature. In doing this, sir, you will oblige more humble servants than can find room to subscribe their names.' .
White's Chocolate-house, July 6. In pursuance of my last date from hence, I am to proceed on the accounts I promised of several personages among the men, whose conspicuous 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 gentleman.'. Now though the women may put on softness in their looks, or affected severity, or impertinent gaiety, 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 No-where, of all men the most gracious and most obliging, the terror of valets de chambre, whom he oppresses with good breeding, by inquiring 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 • time 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 Shoe-string! I profess myself in love with thee! how shall I speak to 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 P or choosest thou rather to be speaking ; to be speaking for thy only purpose in speaking, to