« EdellinenJatka »
N° 143. THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 1709-10.
Sheer-lane, March 8.
I was this afternoon surprised with a visit from my sister Jenny, after an absence of some time. She had, methought, in her manner and air, something that was a little below that of women of the first breeding and quality, but at the same time above the simplicity and familiarity of her usual deportment. As soon as she was seated, she began to talk to me of the odd place I lived in, and begged of me to remove out of the lane where I have been so long acquainted; for,' said she, it does so spoil one's horses, that I must beg your pardon if you see me much seldomer, when I am to make so great a journey with a single pair, and make visits, and get home the same night.' I understood her pretty well, but would not; therefore desired her to pay off her coach, for I had a great deal to talk to her.' She very pertly told me, 'she came in her own chariot. Why,' said I, 'is your husband in town? and has he set up an equipage ?—No,' answered she, but I have received five hundred pounds by his order; and his letters, which came at the same time, bade me want for nothing that was necessary.'
I was heartily concerned at her folly, whose affairs render her but just able to bear such an expense. However, I considered, that, according to the British custom of treating women, there is no other method to be used, in removing any of their faults and errors, but conducting their minds from one humour to another, with as much ceremony as we lead their persons from place to another. I
therefore dissembled my concern; and in compliance with her, as a lady that was to use her feet no more, I begged of her, after a short visit, 'to let me persuade her not to stay out until it was late, for fear of catching cold as she went into her coach in the dampness of the evening.' The malapert knew well enough I laughed at her; but was not ill-pleased with the certainty of her power over her husband, who, she knew, would support her in any humour he was able, rather than pass through the torment of an expostulation to gainsay any thing she had a mind to.
As soon as my fine lady was gone, I writ the following letter to my brother:
I am at present under very much concern, at the splendid appearance I saw my sister make in an' equipage, which she has set up in your absence. I beg of you not to indulge her in this vanity; and desire you to consider, the world is so whimsical, that though it will value you for being happy, it will hate you for appearing so. The possession of wisdom and virtue, the only solid distinctions of life, is allowed much more easily than that of wealth and quality. Besides which, I must entreat you to weigh with yourself, what it is that people aim at in setting themselves out to show in gay equipages and moderate fortunes? You are not by this means a better man than your neighbour is; but your horses are better than his are. And will you suffer care and inquietude, to have it said, as you pass by, Those are very pretty punch nags?' Nay, when you have arrived at this, there are a hundred worthless fellows who are still four horses happier than you are. Remember, dear brother, there is a certain modesty in the enjoyment of moderate wealth, which to transgress exposes men
to the utmost derision; and as there is nothing but meanness of spirit can move a man to value himself upon what can be purchased with money, so he that shews an ambition that way, and cannot arrive at it, is more emphatically guilty of that meanness. I give you only my first thoughts on this occasion; but shall, as I am a Censor, entertain you in my next with my sentiments in general upon the subject of equipage; and shew, that though there are no sumptuary laws amongst us, reason and good sense are equally binding, and will ever prevail in appointing approbation or dislike in all matters of an indifferent nature, when they are pursued with earnestness. I am, sir, &c.'
To all Gentlemen, Ladies, and others, that delight in soft lines.
These are to give notice, that the proper time of the year for writing Pastorals now drawing near, there is a stage-coach settled from the One-bell in the Strand to Dorchester, which sets out twice a week, and passes through Basingstoke, Sutton, Stockbridge, Salisbury, Blandford, and so to Dorchester, over the finest downs in England. At all which places, there are accommodations of spreading beeches, beds of flowers, turf seats, and purling streams, for happy swains; and thunderstruck oaks, and left-handed rivers, to foretell misfortunes to those that please to be wretched, with all other necessaries for pensive passion.
And for the conveniency of such whose affairs will not permit them to leave this town, at the same place they may be furnished, during the season, with opening buds, flowering thyme, warbling birds, sporting lambkins, and fountain-water, right and good, and bottled on the spot by one sent down on purpose.
N. B. The nymphs and swains are farther given to understand, that in those happy climes, they are so far from being troubled with wolves, that, for want of even foxes, a considerable pack of hounds have been lately forced to eat sheep.
Whereas, on the sixth instant, at midnight, several persons of light honour and loose mirth, having taken upon them, in the shape of men, but with the voice of the players belonging to Mr. Powell's company, to call upon surgeons at midnight, and send physicians to persons in sound sleep and perfect health: this is to certify, that Mr. Powell had locked up the legs of his company for fear of mischief that night: and that Mr. Powell will not pay for any damages done by the said persons. It is also farther advised, that there were no midwives wanted when those persons called them up in the several parts of Westminster; but that those gentlewomen who were in the company of the said imposters, may take care to call such useful persons on the 6th of December next.
The censor having observed, that there are finewrought ladies' shoes and slippers put out to view at a great shoemaker's shop towards Saint James's end of Pall-mall, which create irregular thoughts and desires in the youth of this nation; the said shopkeeper is desired to take in those eye-sores, or shew cause the next court-day why he continues to expose the same; and he is required to be prepared particularly to answer to the slippers with green lace and blue heels.
It is impossible for me to return the obliging things Mr. Joshua Barnes has said to me, upon the account of our mutual friend Homer. He and I have read him now forty years with some under
standing, and great admiration. A work to be produced by one who has enjoyed so great an intimacy with an author, is certainly to be valued more than any comment made by persons of yesterday. Therefore, according to my friend Joshua's request, I recommend his work; and, having used a little magic in the case, I give this recommendation by way of Amulet or charm against the malignity of envious backbiters, who speak evil of performances whereof themselves were never capable.'
I may use my friend Joshua's own words, I shall at present say no more, but that we, Homer's oldest acquaintance now living, know best his ways; and can inform the world, that they are often mistaken when they think he is in lethargic fits, which we know he was never subject to; and shall make appear to be rank scandal and envy, that of the Latin poet, -Aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus.
HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 359.
-Good old Homer sometimes nods.
N° 144. SATURDAY, MARCH 11, 1709-10.
Sheer-lane, March 10.
In a nation of liberty, there is hardly a person in the whole mass of the people more absolutely necessary than a Censor. It is allowed, that I have no authority for assuming this important appellation, and that I am Censor of these nations just as one is chosen king at the game of Questions and Commands :' but if in the execution of this fantastical dignity I observe upon things which do not fall within the cog