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they are at least so in what seems to touch their reputations. Besides, you cannot be ignorant, that dress and chivalry have been always encouraged by the ladies, as the two principal branches of gallantry. It is to avoid being sneered at for his singularity, and from a desire to appear more agreeable to his mistress, that a wise, experienced, and polite man, complies with the dress commonly received ; and is prevailed upon to violate his reason and principles, in hazarding his life and estate by a tilt, as well as suffering his pleasures to be constrained and soured by the constant apprehension of a quarrel. This is the more surprising, because men of the most delicate sense and principles have naturally in other cases a particular repugnance in accommorlating themselves to the maxims of the world : but one may easily disa tinguish the man that is affected with beauty, and the reputation of a tilt, from him who complies with both, merely as they are imposed upon him by custom; for in the former you will remark an air of vanity and triumph; whereas when the latter appears in a long duvillier 3 full of powder, or has decided a quarrel by the sword, you may perceive in his face, that he appeals to custom for an excuse. I think it may not be improper to inquire into the genealogy of this chimerical monster called a duel, which I take to be an illegitimate species of the ancient knight-errantry. By the laws of this whim, the heroic person, or man of gallantry, was indispensably obliged to starve in armour a certain number of years in the chase of monsters, encounter them at the peril of his life, and suffer great hardships, in order to gain the affection of the fair lady, and qualify himself for assuming the belle air; that is, of a pretty fellow, or man of honour, according to the fashion : but, since the publishing of Don Quixote, and extinction of the race of dragons (which Suetonius says happened in that of Wantley), the gallant and heroic spirits of these latter times have been under the necessity of creating new chimerical monsters to entertain themselves with, by way of single combat, as the only proofs they are able to give their own sex, and the ladies, that they are in all points men of nice honour. But, to do justice to the ancient and real monsters, I must observe, that they never molested those who were not of a humour to hunt for them in woods and deserts; whereas, on the contrary, our modern monsters are so familiarly admitted and entertained in all the courts and cities of Europe (except France) that one can scarce be in the most humanized society without risking one's life; the people of the best sort, and the fine gentlemen of the age, being so fond of them, that they seldom appear in any public place without one. I have some further considerations upon this subject, which, as you encourage me, shall be communicated to you by, Sir, a cousin but one remove from the best family of the Staffs, namely, Sir, your humble servant, kinsman, and friend,
i 3 So called from the name of a French periwig-maker,
It is certain that Mr. Switch has hit upon the true source of this evil; and that it proceeds only from the force of custom, that we contradict ourselves in half the particulars and occurrences of life. But such a tyranny in love, which the fair impose upon us, is a little too severe; that we must demonstrate our affection for them by no certain proof but hatred to one another, or come at them (only as one does at an estate) by survivorship. This way of application to gain a lady's heart is taking her as we do towns and castles, by distressing the place, and letting none come near them without our pass. Were such a lover once to write the truth of his heart, and let her know his whole thoughts, he would appear indeed to have a passion for her ; but it would hardly be called love. The billet-doux would run to this purpose :
MADAM, • I HAVE so tender a regard for you, and your interests, that I will knock any man on the head whom I observe to be of my mind, and like you, Mr. Truman, the other day, looked at you in so languishing a manner, that I am resolved to run him through tomorrow morning. This, I think, he deserves for his guilt in admiring you : than which I cannot have a greater reason for murdering him, except it be that you also approve him. Whoever says he dies for you, I will make his words good, for I will kill him. I am, Madam, your most obedient humble servant.'
From my own Apartment, June 14. I AM just come bither at ten at night, and have, ever since six, been in the most celebrated, though most nauseous, company in town: the two leaders of the society were a critic and a wit. These two gen. tlemen are great opponents on all occasions, not discerning that they are the nearest each other, in temper and talents, of any two classes of men in the world; for to profess judgment, and to profess wit, both arise from the same failure, which is want of judgment. The poverty of the critic this way proceeds from the abuse of his faculty ; that of the wit, from the neglect of it. It is a particular observation I have always made, that of all mortals a critic is the silliest; for, by enuring himself to examine all things, whether they are of consequence or not, he never looks upon any thing but with a design of passing sentence upon it; by which means he is never a companion, but always a censor. This makes him earnest upon trifles and dispute on the most indifferent occasions with vehemence. If he offers to speak or write, that talent, which would approve the work of the other faculties, prevents their operation. He comes upon action in armour, but without weapons ; he stands in safety, but can gain no glory. The wit, on the other hand, has been hurried so long away by imagination only, that judgment seems not to have ever been one of his natural faculties. This gentleman takes himself to be as much obliged to be merry, as the other to be grave. A thorough critic is a sort of puritan in the polite world. As an enthusiast in religion stumbles at the ordinary occurrences of life, if he cannot quote scripture examples on the occasion; so the critic is never safe in his speech or writing, without he has, among the celebrated writers, an authority for the truth of his sentence. You will believe we had a very good time with these brethren, who were so far out of the dress of their native country, and so lost in its dialect, that they were as much strangers to themselves, as to their relation to each other. They took up the whole discourse; sometimes the critic grew passionate, and, when reprimanded by the wit for any trip or hesitation in his voice, he would answer, “Mr. Dryden makes such a character, on such an occasion, break off in the same manner; so that the stop was according to nature, and as a man in a passion should do.' The wit, who is as far gone in letters as himself, seems to be at a loss to answer such an apology; and concludes only, that though
his anger is justly vented, it wants fire in the utter
If wit is to be measured by the circuinstances of time and place, there is no man has generally so little of that talent as he who is a wit by profession. What he says, instead of arising from the occasion, has an occasion invented to bring it in. Thus he is new for no other reason, but that he talks like no-. body else; but has taken up a method of his own, without commerce of dialogue with other people. The lively Jasper Dactyle 4 is one of this character. He seems to have made a vow to be witty to his life's end. When you meet him, “What do you think,' says he, I have been entertaining myself with ?' Then out comes a premeditated turn; to which it is to no purpose to answer, for he goes on in the same strain of thought he designed without your speaking. Therefore I have a general answer to all he can say ; as, Sure there never was any creature had so much fire !' Spondee, who is a critic, is seldom out of this fine man's company. They have no manner of affection for each other, but keep together, like Novel and Oldfox in the Plain Dealer, because they shew each other. I know several men of sense who can be diverted with this couple; but I see no curiosity in the thing, except it be, that Spondee is dull; but Dactyle is heavy with a brisk face. It must be owned also, that Dactyle has almost vigour enough to be a coxcomb; but Spondee, by the lowness of his constitution, is only a blockhead.
St. James's Coffee-house, June 15. We have no particulars of moment since our last except it be, that the copy of the following original