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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
See the note on the bear-skin, No 7. z On duelling, No 25, 26, 28, 29, 31, See also N° 39.
what you have writ on the foregoing subject, whereby they acknowledge one of their highly esteemed officers preserved from death.
"Your humble servant,
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:
I 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 intreat 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 mimicry 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 shewing 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 actiuns there is a secret approbation, either in the tone of their voice, the turn of their body, or cast of their eye, which shews 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. Shew 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 3! 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 4, playing with your box, or picking your teeth? or choosest thou rather to be speaking ; to be speaking
3 Sir William Whitelocke, knt. M. P. for Oxford.
4 Combing the peruke, when large wigs were in fashion, was an act of gallantry even on visits of ceremony or business, in the presence of the ladies, and at public places. VOL. I.
for thy only parpose in speaking, to shew 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 his 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 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