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Dyer'3, who is justly looked upon by all the foxhunters in the nation as the greatest statesman our country has produced, was particularly famous for dealing in whales ; insomuch, that in five months time (for I had the curiosity to examine his letters on that occasion) he brought three into the mouth of the river Thames, besides two porpusses, and a sturgeon. The judicious and wary Mr. Ichabod Dawks '4 hath all along been the rival of this great writer, and got himself a reputation from plagues and famines; by which, in those days, he destroyed as great multitudes, as he has lately done by the sword. In every dearth of news, Grand Cairo was sure to be unpeopled.
It being therefore visible, that our society will be greater sufferers by the peace than the soldiery itself, insomuch that the Daily Courant is in danger of being broken, my friend Dyer of being reformed, and the very best of the whole band of being reduced to half-pay ; might I presume to offer any thing in the behalf of my distressed brethren, I would humbly move, that an appendix of proper apartments, furnished with pen, ink, and paper, and other necessaries of life, should be added to the hospital of Chelsea, for the relief of such decayed news-writers as have served their country in the war ; and that for
13 Dyer's Letter; a news-paper of that time, which we suppose to have been held in little credit; as honest Vel. lum, in “ The Drummer,” act ii. scene 1. cannot but believe his master is living (amongst other reasons)' because the news of his death was first published in Dyer's Letter.' See Spect. No 43 and 457.
14 Ichabod Dawks, another poor epistolary historian,' as he is called, Spect, N° 457. See Tat. N° 178.
their exercise they should compile the annals of their brother veterans, who have been engaged in the same service, and are still obliged to do duty after the same manner.
I cannot be thought to speak this out of an eye to any private interest; for as my chief scenes of action are coffee-houses, play-houses, and my own apartment, I am in no need of camps, fortifications, and fields of battle, to support me; I do not call out for heroes and generals to my assistance. Though the officers are broken, and the armies disbanded, I shall still be safe, as long as there are men, or women, or politicians, or lovers, or poets, or nymphs, or swains, or cits, or courtiers, in being.
STEELE AND ADDISON.
No 19. TUESDAY, MAY 24, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines
nostri est farrago libelli.
JUV. Sat. i. 85, 86. Whatever good is done, whatever illBy human kind, shall this collection fill.
. From my own Apartment, May 23. There is nothing can give a man of any consideration greater pain, than to see order and distinction laid aside amongst men, especially when the rank of which he himself is a member is intruded upon, by such as have no pretence to that honour. The appellation of esquire' is the most notoriously abused in this kind, of any class amongst men; insomuch, that it is become almost the subject of derision: but I will be bold to say, this behaviour towards it proceeds from the ignorance of the people in its true origin. I shall therefore, as briefly as possible, do myself and all true esquires the justice to look into antiquity upon this subject'.
In the first ages of the world, before the invention of jointures and settlements, when the noble passion of love had possession of the hearts of men, and the fair sex were not yet cultivated into the merciful disposition which they have shewed in latter centuries, it was natural for great and heroic spirits to retire to rivulets, woods, and caves, to lament their destiny, and the cruelty of the fair persons who were deaf to their lamentations. The hero in this distress was
See Selden's Titles of Honour, part ii. chap. v.
generally in armour, and in a readiness to fight any man he met with, especially if distinguished by any extraordinary qualifications : it being the nature of heroic love to hate all merit, lest it should come within the observation of the cruel one by whom its own perfections are neglected. A lover of this kind had always about him a person of a second value, and subordinate to him, who could hear his afflictions, carry an inchantment for his wounds, hold his helmet when he was eating (if ever he did eat), or in his absence, when he was retired to his apartment in any king's palace, tell the prince himself, or perhaps his daughter, the birth, parentage, and adventures of his valiant master. This trusty companion was styled his esquire, and was always fit for any offices about hini; was as gentle and chaste as a gentleman-usher, quick and active as an equerry, smooth and eloquent as the master of the ceremonies. A man thus qualified was the first, as the antients affirm, who was called an esquire; and none without these accomplishments ought to assume our order : but, to the utter disgrace and confusion of the heralds, every pretender is admitted into this fraternity, even persons the most foreign to this courteous institution. I have taken an inventory of all within this city, and looked over every letter in the Post-office, for my better information. There are of the Middle Temple, including all in the buttery-books, and in the lists of the house, five thousand. In the Inner, four thousand. In the King's-bench Walks, the whole buildings are inhabited by esquires only. The adjacent street of Essex, from Morris's coffee-house ?, and the turning towards the Grecian, you cannot meet one who is not an esquire, until you take water.
2 Then in the Strand.
Every house in Norfolk and Arundel-streets is also governed by an esquire, or his lady: Soho-square, Bloomsbury-square, and all other places where the floors rise above nine feet, are so many universities, where you enter yourselves, and become of our order. However, if this were the worst of the evil, it were to be supported, because they are generally men of some figure, and use; though I know no pretence they have to an honour which had its rise from chivalry. But if you travel into the counties of Great Britain, we are still more imposed upon by innovation. We are indeed derived from the field: but shall that give title to all that ride mad after foxes, that halloo when they see a hare, or venture their necks full speed after an hawk, immediately to commence esquires ? No; our order is temperate, cleanly, sober, and chaste; but these rural esquires commit immodesties upon hay-cocks, wear shirts half a week, and are drunk twice a day. These men are also, to the last degree, excessive in their food: an esquire of Norfolk eats two pounds of dumplin every meal, as if obliged to it by our order: an esquire of Hampshire is as ravenous in devouring hogs-flesh: one of Essex has as little mercy on calves. But I must take the liberty to protest against them, and acquaint those persons, that it is not the quantity they eat, but the manner of eating, that shews an esquire. But, above all, I am most offended at small quillmen, and transcribing clerks, who are all come into our order, for no reason that I know of, but that they can easily flourish at the end of their name. I will undertake that, if you read the superscriptions to all the offices in the kingdom, you will not find three letters directed to any but esquires. I have myself a couple of clerks, and the rogues make nothing of leaving messages upon each other's desk: one directs, · To