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fellow, and withal so plain, that he became a proverb. Most of this family are at present in the army. Raggedstaff was an unlucky boy, and used to tear his cloaths in getting birds' nests, and was always playing with a tame bear his father kept. Mopstaff fell in love with one of his father's maids, and used to help her to clean the house. Broomstaff was a chimney-sweeper. The Mopstaffs and Broomstaffs are naturally as civil people as ever went out of doors; but alas ! if they once get into ill hands, they knock down all before them. Pilgramstaff ran away from his friends, and went strolling about the country ; and Pipestaff was a wine-cooper. These two were the unlawful issue of Longstaff. N. B. The Canes, the Clubs, the Cudgels, the Wands, the Devil upon two Sticks, and one Bread, that goes by the name of Staff of Life, are none of our relations. I am, dear cousin,
your humble servant, “D. DISTAFF.”
From the Herald's Office, May 1, 1709.
St. James's Coffee-house, May 4.
As political news is not the principal subject on which we treat, we are so happy as to have no occasion for that art of cookery which our brother newsmongers so much excel in ; as appears by their excellent and inimitable manner of dressing up a second time for your taste the same dish which they gave you the day before, in case there come over no new pickles from Holland. Therefore, when we have nothing to say to you from courts and camps, we hope still to give you somewhat new and curious from ourselves; the women of our house, upon occasion, being capable of carrying on the business, according to the laudable custom of the wives in Holland; but, without farther preface, take what we have not mentioned in our former relations. Letters from Hanover of the thirtieth of the last month say, that the prince royal of Prussia arrived there on the fifteenth, and left that court on the second of this month, in pursuit of his journey to Flanders, where he makes the ensuing campaign. Those advices add, that the young prince Nassau, hereditary governor of Friesland, celebrated, on the twenty-sixth of the last month, his marriage with the beauteous princess of Hesse-Cassel, with a pomp and magnificence suitable to their age and quality. Letters from Paris say, his most Christian majesty retired to Marley on the first instant, N.S. and our last advices from Spain inform us, that the prince of Asturias had made his public entry into Madrid in great splendour. The duke of Anjou has given Don Joseph Hartado de Amaraga the government of Terra firma de Veragua, and the presidency of Panama in America. They add, that the forces commanded by the marquis de Bay have been reinforced by six battalions of Spanish Walloon guards. Letters from Lisbon advise, that the army of the king of Portugal was at Elvas on the twenty-second of the last month, and would decamp on the twenty-fourth, in order to march upon the enemy who lay at Badajos. Yesterday, at four in the morning, his grace
the duke of Marlborough set out for Margate, and embarked for Holland at eight this morning.
Yesterday also sir George Thorold was declared alderman of Cordwainers' Ward, in the room of his brother sir Charles Thorold, deceased.
*...* Any ladies who have any particular stories of their acquaintance, which they are willing, privately, to make public, may send them by the penny-post to Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq. in#" to Mr. John Morphew, near Stationers' all.
No. 12.] Saturday, May 7, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines—
—nostriest farrago libelli. Jur. Sat. i. 85, 86.
Whate'er men do, or say, or think, or dream, Our motley paper seizes for its theme.
WHEN a man has engaged to keep a stage coach, he is obliged, whether he has passengers or not, to set out; thus it fares with us weekly historians; but indeed, for my particular, I hope, I shall soon have little more to do in this work, than to publish what is sent me from such as have leisure and capacity for giving delight, and being pleased in an elegant manner. The present grandeur of the British nation might make us expect, that we should rise in our public diversions, and manner of enjoying life, in proportion to our advancement in glory and power. Instead of that, survey this town, and you will find rakes and debauchecs are your men of pleasure: thoughtless atheists and illiterate drunkards call themselves free-thinkers; and gamesters, banterers, biters, swearers, and twenty new-born insects more, are, in their several species, the modern men of wit. Hence it is, that a man, who has been out of town but one half year, has lost the language, and must have some friend to stand by him, and keep him in countenance for talking common sense. To-day I saw a short interlude at White's of this nature, which I took notes of, and put together as well as I could in a public place. The persons of the drama are Pip, the last gentleman that has been made so at cards; Trimmer, a person half undone at them, and who is now between a cheat and a gentleman ; Acorn, an honest Englishman of good plain sense and meaning ; and Mr. Friendly, a reasonable man of the town.
White's Chocolate-house, May 5. Enter Pip, TRIMMER, and Acorn.
Ac. What is the matter, gentlemen? what! take no notice of an old friend ? Pip. Pox on it! do not talk to me, I am voweled by the count and cursedly out of humour. Ac. Voweled ! pry'thee, Trimmer, what does he mean by that? Trim. Have a care, Harry, speak softly ; do
not show your ignorance:—if you do, they will bite you wherever they meet you, they are such cursed curs—the present wits. Ac. Bite me! what do you mean * Pip. Why do not you know what biting is ? nay, you are in the right on it. However, one would learn it only to defend one's self against men of wit, as one would know the tricks of play, to be secure against the cheats. But do not you hear, Acorn, that report, that some potentates of the alliance have taken care of themselves exclusively of us? Ac. How heaven forbid! after all our glorious victories; all the expense of blood and treasuro ! Pip. Bite. Ac. Bite 1 how 7 Trim. Nay, he has bit you fairly enough ; that is certain. Ac, Pox I do not feel it—How 2 where ? [Ereunt Pip and Trimmer laughing. Ac. Ho! Mr. Friendly, your most humble servant; you heard what passed between those fine gentlemen and me. Pip complained to me, that he had been voweled; and they tell me I am bit. Friend. You are to understand, sir, that simplicity of behaviour, which is the perfection of ood breeding and good sense, is utterly lost in the world; and in the room of it there are started a thousand little inventions, which men, barren of better things, take up in the place of it. Thus, for every character in conversation that used to please, there is an impostor put upon you. Him whom we allowed, formerly, for a certain pleasant subtilty, and natural way of giving you an unexpected hit, called a droll, is now mimicked by a biter, who is a dull fellow, that tells you a lie with a grave face, and laughs at you for knowing him no better than to believe him. Instead of that sort of companion who could rally you, and keep his countenance, until he made you fall into some little inconsistency of behaviour, at v-hich you yourself could laugh with him, you have the sneerer, who will keep you company from morning to night, to gather your follies of the day (which perhaps you commit out of confidence in him) and expose you in the evening to all the scorners in town. For your man of sense and free spirit, whose set of thoughts were built upon learning, reason, and experience, you have now an impudent creature made up of vice only, who supports his ignorance by his courage, and want of learning by contempt of it. Ac. Dear sir, hold: what you have told me already of this change in conversation is too miserable to be heard with any delight; but, methinks, as these new creatures appear in the world, it might give an excellent field to writers for the stage, to divertus with the representation of them there. Friend. No, no; as you say, there might be some hopes of redress of these grievances, if there were proper care taken of the theatre ; but the history of that is yet more lamentable than that of the decay of conversation I gave you. Ac. Pray, sir, a little: I have not been in town these six years, until within this fortnight.
Friend. It is now some time since several revolutions in the gay world had made the empire of the stage subject to very fatal convulsions, which were too dangerous to be cured by the skill of little king Oberon,” who then sat in the throne of it. The laziness of this prince threw him upon the choice of a person who was fit to spend his life in contentions, an able and profound attorney, to whom he mortgaged his whole empire. This Divitot is the most skilful of all politicians; he has a perfect art in being unintelligible in discourse, and uncomeatable in business. But he, having no understanding in this polite way, brought in upon us, to get in his money, ladder dancers, jugglers, and mountebanks, to strut in the place of Shakspeare's heroes, and Jonson's humorists. When the seat of wit was thus mortgaged without equity . of redemption, an architects arose, who has built the muse a new palace, but secured her no retinue; so that, instead of action there, we have been put off by song and dance. This latter help of sound has also begun to fail for want of voices; therefore the palace has since been put into the hands of a surgeon, who cuts any foreign fellow into a eunuch,' and passcs him upon us for a singer of Italy.
Ac. I will go out of town to-morrow.
Friend. Things are come to this pass; and yet the world will not understand, that the theatre has much the same effect on the manners of the age, as the bank on the credit of the nation. Wit and spirit, humour and good sense, can never be revived, but under the government of those who are judges of such talents; who know, that whatever is put up in their stead, is but a short and trifling expedient, to support the appearance of them for a season. It is possible, a peace will give leisure to put these matters under new regulations, but, at present, all the assistance we can see towards our recovery is as far from giving us help, as a poultice is from performing what can be done only by the grand elixir.
Will's Coffee-house, May 6.
According to our late design in the applauded verses on the morning, which you lately had from hence, we proceed to improve that just intention, and present you with other labours, made proper to the place in which they were written. The following poem comes from Copenhagen, and is as fine a winter-piece as we have ever had from any of the schools of the most learned painters. Such images as these give us a new pleasure in our sight, and fix
* “Mr. Owen, or Mac Owen Swiney, was born in Ireland, and formerly a manager of Drury-lane theatre, and afterwards of the Queen's theatre in the Haymarket. After leaving that office, he resided in Italy several years, and at his return, procured a place in the custom; house, and was keeper of the king's mews. He died Oct. 2, 1754, and left his fortune to Mrs. Woffington. He was the author of several dramatic pieces.'
f Christopher Rich.
f Sir John Vanbrugh.
§ John James Hegdegger, esq. styled here a surgeon; in allusion to the employment assigned to him ; he had at that time the direction of the operas, as he had afterwards of the masquerades.
| By Swift,
upon our minds traces of reflection, which accompany us whenever the like objects occur. In short, excellent poetry and description dwell upon us so agreeably, that all the readers of them are made to think, if not write, like men of wit. But it would be injury to detain you longer from this excellent performance, which is addressed to the earl of Dorset by Mr. Philips, the author of several choice poems in Mr. Tonson's new Miscellany.
Copenhagen, March 9, 1709.
From frozen climes, and endless tracts of snow, From streams that northern winds forbid to flow, What present shall the muse to Dorset bring, Or how, so near the pole, attempt to sing 7 The hoary winter here conceals from sight All pleasing objects that to verse invite. The hills and dales, and the delightful woods, The flowery plains, and silver-streaming floods, By snow disguised, in bright confusion lie, And with one dazzling waste fatigue the eye.
No gentle-breathing breeze prepares the spring, No birds within the desert region sing: The ships unmoved the boisterous winds defy, While rattling chariots o'er the ocean fly. The vast leviathan wants room to play, And spout his waters in the face of day, The starving wolves along the main sea prowl, And to the moon in icy valleys howl. For many a shining league the level main Here spreads itself into a glassy plain: There solid billows of enormous size, Alps of green ice, in wild disorder rise.
And yet but lately have I seen, e'en hero, The winter in a lovely dress appear. Ere yet the clouds let fall the treasured snow, Or winds began through hazy skies to blow, At evening a keen eastern breeze arose; And the descending rain unsullied froze. Soon as the silent shades of night withdrew, The ruddy morn disclosed at once to view The face of nature in a rich disguise, And brightened every object to my eyes: For every shrub, and every blade of grass, And every pointed thorn, seemed wrought in glass; In pearls and rubies rich the hawthorn's show, While through the ice the crimson berries glow, The thick-sprung reeds the watery marshes yield Seem polished lances in a hostile field. The stag, in limpid currents, with surprise, Sees crystal branches on his forehead rise. The spreading oak, the beech, and towering pine, Glazed over, in the freezing aether shine. The frighted birds the rattling branches shun, That wave and glitter in the distant sun.
When, if a sudden gust of wind arise, The brittle forest into atoms flies; The crackling wood beneath the tempest bends, And in a spangled shower the prospect ends; Gr, if a southern gale the region warm, And by degrees unbind the wintery charm, The travelier a miry country sees, And journeyssad beneath the drooping trees.
Like some deluded peasant Merlin leads Through fragrant bowers, and through delicious meads; While here enchanted gardens to him rise, And airy fabrics there attract his eyes, His wandering feet the magic paths pursue; and while he thinks the fair illusion true, The trackless scenes disperse in fluid air, And woods, and wilds, and thorny ways appear: A tedious road the weary wretch returns, And as he goes, the transient vision mourns.
From my own Apartment, May 6.
There has a mail this day arrived from Holland; but the matter of the advices importing rather what gives us great expectations, than any positive assurances, I shall, for this time
decline giving you what I know; and apply the following verses of Mr. Dryden, in the second part of “Almanzor,’ to the present circumstances of things, without discovering what my knowledge in astronomy suggests to me:—
When empire in its childhood first appears, A watchful fate o’ersees its tender years: Till grown more strong it thrusts and stretches out, And elbows all the kingdoms round about. The place thus made for its first breathing free, It moves again for ease and luxury: Till, swelling by degrees, it has possest The greater space, and now crowds up the rest. When from behind there starts some petty state, And pushes on its now unwieldly fate : Then down the precipice of time it goes, And sinks in minutes, which in ages rose.
No. 13.] Tuesday May 10, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines— —nostriest farrago libelli. Juv. Sat. i. 85, 86.
Whate'er men do, or say, or think, or dream, Our motley paper seizes for its theme.
From my own Apartment, May 8.
Much hurry and business has to-day perplexed me into a mood too thoughtful for going into company; for which reason, instead of the tavern, I went to Lincoln's Inn walks; and, having taken a round or two, I sat down, according to the allowed familiarity of these places, on a bench; at the other end of which sat a venerable gentleman, who, speaking with a very affable air-‘Mr. Bickerstaff,' said he, “I take it for a very great piece of good fortune that you have found me out.’, ‘Sir," said I, ‘I had never, that I know of the honour of seeing you before.’ ‘That,' replied he, “is what I have often lamented; but, I assure you, I have for many years done you good offices, without being observed by you; or else, when you had any little glimpse of my being concerned in an affair, you have fled from me, and shunned me like an enemy; but, however, the part I am to act in the world is such, that I am to go on in doing good, though I meet with never so many repulses, even from those I oblige.’ This, thought I, shows a great good-nature, but little judgment in the person upon whom he confers
is favours. He immediately took notice to me, that he observed by my countenance I thought him indiscreet in his beneficence, and proceeded to tell me his quality in the following manner: “I know thee, Isaac, to be so well versed in the occult sciences, that I need not much preface, or make long preparations to gain your faith that there are airy beings who are employed in the care and attendance of men, as nurses are to infants, until they come to an age in which they can act of themselves. These beings are usually called amongst men, guardian-angels; and, Mr. Bickerstaff. I am to acquaint you, that I am to be yours for some time to come; it being our orders to vary our stations, and sometimes to have one patient under our protection, and sometimes another, with a power of assuming what shape we please, to ensnare our wards into their own good. I have of late been upon such hard duty, and know you have so much work for me, that I think fit to appear to you face to face, to desire you will give me as little occasion for vigilance as you can.’ “Sir," said I, ‘it will be a great instruction to me in my behaviour, if you please to give me some account of your late employments, and what hardships or satisfactions you have had in them, that I may govern myself accordingly.” He answered, “To give you an example of the drudgery we go through, I will entertain you only with my three last stations; I was on the first of April last put to mortify a great beauty, with whom I was a week; from her I went to a common swearer, and have been last with a gamester. When I first came to my lady, I found my great work was to guard well her eyes and ears; but her flatterers were so numerous, and the house, after the modern way, so full of looking-glasses, that I seldom had her safe but in her sleep. Whenever we went abroad, we were surrounded by an army of enemies: when a well-made man appeared, he was sure to have a side glance of observation; if a disagreeable fellow, he had a full face, out of mere inclination to conquests. But at the close of the evening, on the sixth of the last month, my ward was sitting on a couch, reading Ovid's Epistles; and as she came to this line of Helen to Paris,
“She half consents who silently denies;”
entered Philander,” who is the most skilful of all men in an address to women. He is arrived at the perfection of that art which gains them, which is, ‘to talk like a very miserable man, but look like a happy one.' I saw Dictinna blush at his entrance, which gave me the alarm; but he immediately said something so agreeably on her being at study, and the novelty of finding a lady employed in so grave a manner, that he on a sudden became very familiarly a man of no consequence; and in an instant laid all her suspicions of his skill asleep, as he had almost done mine, until I observed him very dangerously turn his discourse upon the elégance of her dress, and her judgment in the choice of that very pretty mourning. Having had women before under my care, I trembled at the apprehension of a man of sense who could talk upoh trifles, and resolved to stick to my post with all the circumspection imaginable. In short, I prepossessed her againstall he could say to the advantage of her dress and person; but he turned again the discourse, where I found I had no power over her, on the abusing her friends and acquaintance. He allowed, indeed, that Flora had a little beauty, and a great deal of wit: but then she was so ungainly in her be. haviour, and such a laughing hoyden –Pastorella had, with him, the allowance of being blameless; but what was that towards being praise-worthy 7 To be only innocent, is not to be virtuous ! He afterwards spoke so much against Mrs. Dipple's forehead, Mrs. Prim's mouth, Mrs. Dentrifice's teeth, and Mrs. Fid
* This line occurs in a joint translation of ‘Helen's Epistle to Paris, by the Earl of Mulgrave and Dryden, in the edition of Ovid's Epistles,' 1709.
1 Supposed to be lord Halifax.
get's cheeks, that she grew downright in love with him; for, it is always to be understood, that a lady takes all you detract from the rest of her sex to be a gift to her. In a word, things went so far, that I was dismissed, and she will remember that evening, nine months from the sixth of April, by a very remarkable token. The next, as I said, I went to, was a common swearer: never was a creature so puzzled as myself, when I came first to view his brain : half of it was worn out, and filled up with mere expletives, that had nothing to do with any other parts of the texture ; therefore, when he called for his clothes in a morning, he would cry, “John "John does not answer. “What a plague nobody there 7 What the devil, and rot me, John, for a lazy dog as you are " I knew no way to cure him, but by writing down all he said one morning as he was dressing, and laying it before him on the toilet when he came to pick his teeth. The last recital I gave him of what he said for half an hour before was, ‘What, a pox rot me ! where is the wash-ball ? call the chairmen: damn them, I warrant they are at the alehouse already : zounds, and confound them.” When he came to the glass, he takes up my note—‘Ha! this fellow is worse than I :— what, does he swear with pen and ink o' But, reading on, he found them to be his own words. The stratagem had so good an effect upon him, that he grew immediately a new man, and is learning to speak without an oath, which makes him extremely short in his phrases; for, as I observed before, a common swearer has a brain without any idea on the swearing side; therefore my ward has yet mighty little to say, and is forced to substitute some other vehicle of nonsense, to supply the defect of his usual explctives. When I left him, he made use of * Odsbodikins ! Oh me! and never stir alive l’ and so forth; which gave me hopes of his recovery. So I went to the next I told you of, the gamester. When we at first take our place about a man, the receptacles of the pericranium are immediately searched. In his I found no one ordinary trace of thinking ; but strong passion, violent desires, and a continued series of different changes, had torn it to pieces. There appeared no middle condition; the triumph of a prince, or the misery of a beggar, were his alternate states. I was with him no longer than one day, which was yesterday. In the morning at twelve, we were worth four thousand pounds; at three, we were arrived at six thousand; half an hour after, we were reduccd to one thousand; at four of the clock, we were down to two hundred; at five, to fifty ; at six, to five ; at seven, to one guinea ; the next bet, to nothing. This morning he borrowed half-a-crown of the maid who cleans his shoes; and is now gaming in Lincoln's Inn Fields among the boys for farthings and oranges, until he has made up three pieces, and then he returns to White's into the best company in town.' Thus ended our first discourse; and, it is hoped, you will forgive me that I have picked so little out of my companion at our first interview. In the next, it is possible, he may tell me more pleasing incidents; for though he is a familiar, he is not an evil spirit.
St. James's Coffee-house, May 9.
We hear from the Hague, of the fourteenth instant, N. S. that monsieur de Torcy hath had frequent conferences with the grand pensioner, and the other ministers who were heretofore commissioned to treat with monsieur Rouille. The preliminaries of a peace are almost settled, and the proceedings wait only for the arrival of the duke of Marlborough; after whose approbation of the articles proposed, it is not doubted but the methods of the treaty will be publicly known. In the mean time, the States have declared an abhorrence of taking any step in this great affair, but in concert with the court of Great Britain, and other princes of the alliance. The posture of affairs in France does necessarily oblige that nation to be very much in earnest in their offers; and monsieur de Torcy hath professed to the grand pensioner, that he will avoid all occasions of giving him the least jealousy of his using any address in private conversation for accomplishing the ends of his embassy. It is said, that as soon as the preliminaries are adjusted, that minister is to return to the French court. The states of Holland have resolved to make it an instruction to all their men-of-war and privateers, to bring into their ports whatever neutral ships they shall meet with, laden with corn, and bound for France; and, to avoid all cause of complaint from the potentates to whom these ships shall belong, their full demand for their freight shall be paid them there. The French Protestants residing in that country have applied themselves to their respective magistrates, desiring that there may be an article in the treaty of peace, which may give liberty of conscience to the Protestants in France. Monsieur Bosnage, minister of the Walloon church at Rotterdam, has been at the Hague, and hath had some conferences with the deputies of the States on that subject. It is reported there, that all the French refugees in those dominions are to be naturalized, that they may enjoy the same good effects of the treaty with the Hollanders themselves, in respect of France.
Letters from Paris say, the people conceive great hopes of a sudden peace, from monsieur Torcey's being employed in the negotiation; he being a minister of too great weight in that court, to be sent on any employment in which his master would not act in a manner wherein he might justly promise himself success. The French advices add, that there is an insurrection in Poictou, three thousand men having taken up arms, and beaten the troops which were appointed to disperse them ; three of the mutineers, being taken, were immediately executed; and as many of the king's party were used after the same manner.
Our late act of naturalization hath had so great an effect in foreign parts, that some princes have prohibited the French refugees in their dominions to sell or transfer their estates to any other of their subjects; and, at the same time, have granted them greater immunities than they hitherto enjoyed. It has been also thought necessary to restrain their own subjects from leaving their country on pain of death.
No. 14.] Thursday, May 12, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines— —nostriest farrago libelli. Juv. Sat. i. 85, 86.
Whate'er men do, or say, or think, or dream, Our motley paper seizes for its theme.
From my own Apartment, May 10.
HAD it not been that my familiar had appeared to me, as I told you in my last, in person, I had certainly been unable to have found even words without meaning, to keep up my intelligence with the town; but he has checked me severely for my despondence, and ordered me to go on in my design of observing upon things, and forbearing persons; for, said he, the age you live in is such, that a good picture of any vice or virtue will infallibly be misrepresented; and though none will take the kind descriptions you make so much to themselves, as to wish well to the author, yet all will resent the ill characters you produce, out of fear of their own turn in the licence you must be obliged to take, if you point at particular persons. I took his admonition kindly, and immediately promised him to beg pardon of the author of the “Advice to the Poets,’ for my raillery upon his work; though I aimed at no more in that examination, but to convince him, and all men of genius, of the folly of laying themselves out on such plans as are below their characters. I hope too it was done without ill breeding, and nothing spoken below what a civilian (as it is allowed I am,) may utter to a physician.” After this preface, all the world may be safe from my writings; for, if I can find nothing to commend, I am silent, and will forbear the subject : for, though I am a reformer, I scorn to be an inquisitor.
It would become all men, as well as me, to lay before them the noble character of Verus the magistrate,t who always sat in triumph over, and contempt of, vice: he never searched after it, or spared it when it came before him: at the same time he could see through the hypocrisy and disguise of those, who have no pretence to virtue themselves, but by their severity to the vicious. The same Verus was, in times past, chief justice (as we call it amongst us,) in Felicia. He was a man of profound knowledge of the laws of his country, and as just an observer of them in his own person. He considered justice as a cardinal virtue, not as a trade for maintenance. Wherever he was judge, he never forgot that he was also counsel. The criminal before him was always sure he stood before his country, and, in a sort, a parent of it. The prisoner knew, that though his spirit was broken with guilt, and incapable of language to defend itself, all would be gathered from him which could conduce to his safety; and that his judge would wrest no law to destroy him, nor conceal any that could save him. In this time there was a nest of pretenders to justice, who
* Sir Richard Blackmore.
f Sir John Holt, lord chief justice in the reign of king William III. and for some years after that king's death.