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For MONDAY, January 5, 1784.
ANECDOTES of SIR JOSEPH BANKS, BARONET.
HIS celebrated botanift, naturalift, and traveller, is de fcended from a family of confiderable antiquity and refpect in Lincolnshire, where the present baronet poffeffes a very large eftate, his feat being Ravefby Abbev, in that county.
His early attachment to the ftudy of nature, in certain particular branches, meeting with all the encouragement which could be derived from an affluent fortune at his own disposal, and an enterprifing fpirit, it is not furprizing that he should have arrived to a degree of knowledge, which has not only rendered him eminently confpicuous, and elevated him to the highest scientific fituation at home, but has occafioned his name to be en rolled in almost every learned fociety, or congregated affociation of men of letters, throughout Europe.
As the purfuit of his favourite ftudies has led him to fcenes of danger and difficulty in his various voyages and travels, fo it is faid to have involved him in fome extraordinary and ridiculous embarraffments in the early part of his life in particular, the following ftory is related, though we do not vouch for its authenticity.
While Mr. Banks was a ftudent at Oxford, he was accuftomed to take frequent rides in the neighbourhood of that univerfity, wholly unattended, for the purpose of botanizing. In one of thefe excurfions he had faftened his horfe to a gate, and VOL. III. 53. A
having crept into a dry ditch, was exploring its production with an earnestnefs which engroffed his whole attention.
Mean time, a traveller had been attacked and robbed by a highwayman; and having raised the country, they were now in purfuit of the plunderer, when they found Mr. Banks's horfe tied to the gate, and were affured by the perfon who had been robbed, that it was the identical beaft on which the thief had been mounted. In confequence of this information, a strict fearch commenced, and our botanist being discovered in the fituation we have described, no doubt remained of his being the perfon who had committed the robbery, and he was fecured without farther ceremony.
It was in vain that Mr. Banks, who was for fome time at a lofs to guess the meaning of this procedure, protefted his innocency, declared his name and rank in life, and mentioned the college of which he was a gentleman commoner. Those who had feized him were in no difpofition to be convinced, and he was compelled to be conducted to a neighbouring juftice of the Peace.
On their arrival, however, at the juftice's, he immediately recognized the perfon of Mr. Banks, and an explanation foon took place, in which the accufers were fatisfied that their charge was without foundation.
In July, 1768, Mr. Banks, who had already taken a voyage to the Labradore coaft, embarked with the celebrated Captain Cooke on a voyage to the South Seas, to make obfervation of the tranfit of Venus; and eagerly embraced this opportunity of gaining pofitive knowledge of the perfons, manners, cuf toms, habits, difpofitions, opinions, virtues and vices, of the inhabitants of diftant regions; and of collecting fuch vegetable, and other natural curiofities, as were hitherto unknown in Europe.
In 1773, Mr. Banks undertook a voyage to Ireland, and poffeffed himfelf of an additional fund of knowledge.
In November, 1779, Mr. Banks was worthily elected to fucceed Sir John Pringle, as Prefident of the Royal Society; and on the 24th of March, 1781, his majefty was pleased to confer on him the dignity of a baronet of Great Britain, as a token of his royal approbation of his fuccefsful endeavours for the im provement and encouragement of science.
Sir Jofeph Banks is not at prefent above 38, of pleafing manners, and lively converfation: he is married, and has one fon,
To the PRINTER of the WEEKLY ENTERTAINER.
HE little publication that accompanies your paper, I think is well calculated to amufe and inltruct.-I fuppofe, Sir, you would not be offended with any one who would endeavour to add to your flock of entertainment; therefore I offer you a fet of letters which chance lately threw in my way: on reading them over, they appeared to me replete with matter that I think will be read with pleasure, and excite curiosity.They were written fome fix or feven years ago, and, as I have reafon to think fome of the perfonages who were concerned in writing them are ftill in existence, I fhall give them to you in borrowed names. -The letters are numerous, and, when col, lected together, are, for ought I know, enough to fill two or three volumes, If you think them worth publishing, I fhall take the trouble to arrange them properly, and fend them to you as time and opportunity will admit.
Whilft I was at tea, fome evenings paft, I communicated to the ladies my intention of offering thete letters to the Printer of the Sherborne Mercury, as I thought 'twas pity they should be loft to the world, begging their fentiments on that head; though at the fame time obferving, that as they had given them great pleafore in hearing them read, I did not doubt but they would be as pleafing to others. All, except my aunt Deborah, gave their affent: but my aunt Deborah, by the bye, never swims with the ftream; fhe is fure, on all occafions, to run counter, drawing herself as erect in her chair, as a juftice at a quarterfeffions, and difcarding off her fnuff from her fingers; which (as I hinted) is contrary to most people, who, by the aid of a little, correct, connect, and spin out their dialogue with the greater facility; but the threw her's away, and, placing her hands crossways before her, obferved, that thofe who wished to edify the world, by publishing either their own fentiments, or thofe of others, ought to be very circumfpect in what they were about; and though the letters alluded to, by being a novelty, had been by them listened to with attention, yet fhe could not think them worthy of public notice: if, indeed, they had been fermons, fhe would have faid fomething to it. Madam, (faid I,) tho' they are not fermons, I hope you'll allow they are strictly mo. ral." "To be fure, (fays the,) I have heard nothing bad in them; but as to morality, it is from the pulpit, and divines only, I expect to meet with it now-a-days."" Lord! aunt, (fays my fifter Jenny,) why you feemed as much interested in the diftreffes of Mr. Harcourt and Mifs Franklin as any of us: I, for
my part, like it as well as any novel I ever read in my life.""Girls (fays my aunt, a little feverely,) are fond of nothing but romances: if you had been as fond of your needle, as you are of reading, e're this the dining-room might have been furnished with chairs and a carpet of your own work: before I was of your age"-" Madam, (fays 1, interrupting the difcourfe,) though I cannot fay I am an advocate for that old-fashioned feve rity of manners, that thinks a female education fhould confift in the mere knowledge of fome thrifty maxims, and the mechanic ufe of the needle and thread, yet I agree with you that many romances are not fit to be read; yet there are those which can inftruct the mind, and improve the heart. The pens of Richardfon, Fielding, Smollet, and Johnfon, have fo happily pourtrayed human nature, defcribed its virtues and vices in fuch lively colours, that the world is much their debtor."—" True, my dear, (fays my eldest fifter,) and though your letters cannot be put in competition with the productions of thofe great men, yet I doubt not but they'll gain fome credit, and the authors of them need not blush to fee their productions in print."-" I concur with you in that opinion; for if I thought otherwife, I certainly fhould fupprefs them.-But ladies, (fays I,) if they are not of much confequence in themselves, perhaps they may derive fome, by being ushered into the world under the patronage of fome good-founding, confequential name: Who will be the fponfor, and give it one ?"-My fifter Jenny's mouth was open in a minute." Don't be fo hafty, my dear, (fays I,) for the facetious author of Triftram Shandy affirms that names are of more confequence than are generally fuppofed to belong to them." My brother Joe (who cares for no other reading than what he meets with in the public papers, therefore I did not addrefs myself to him,) burst out, I think The Speculift would not be a bad name, as there is a good deal of fpeculation in them."-" Now I think (fays my fifter Jenny) that Spectator would be better; for as they are old-fashioned books, and feldom looked into, it would, like many an old-fashion revived, be much admired."-" Your obfervation, I fear, Jenny, (fays I,) is fomewhat juft: the Spectators, my dear, to the judicious mind, can never be in difrepute, for they are a library of themselves, affording a perfect model of polite literature, and a purity of ftile, unrivalled in the English language."My eldest fifter (fmiling on Jenny, and begging her pardon for intruding her opinion,) faid we feemed to be all of us pretty well agreed in one idea, which was, that the letters had much novelty in them, and therefore the would advife it to be christened The Novelift.
In just turning it over in my mind, and feeing no reason why The Novelift fhould not be adopted, if you have no objection, Mr. Printer, you may introduce The Novelift into your publication as foon as you please.
MR. HARCOURT to the Honourable MR. STANLY.
I HAVE, with as much expedition as a chaife and pair would admit of, together with good words, and an additional fhilling to the post-boy through every ftage, reached this place.-My firft enquiry was, if the packet for France was failed ?—“ Sir, the packet is not failed, (faid my landlord,) and as the flage is driving down the street, we fhall have the master of the boat here in an instant, to enquire if he has any paffengers in it."— "Then I fuppofe (fays I) he will be ready to embark them immediately.""If he has a good freight, Sir, (replied he,) otherwife not."-"Why fo? His advertisement exprefsly fays that they fail every Tuefday and Friday."-" True, Sir; but unless they are fatisfied with the number of paffengers, the wind will be unfavourable, the tide will be against you, or fome excufe or other will be made, to prevent for a while his going, in hopes to improve the profits of his voyage by an additional number to his freight."-The coach drew up to the door, empty. "Oh! here comes the captain, (fays the landlord,) he has met the coach, and, by his walk, I can difcover he does not intend failing to-night."-" Landlord, I thank you for your intelligence, (returned I,) your candour in expofing the behaviour of this man, gives me a good opinion of you."" Sir, (answered he,) it is not my intereft to have gentlemen thus difappointed; though it may be a temporary advantage, yet the frequency of fuch delays may bring a difcredit on the town, and lead the attention of travellers where they may meet with less impediments."
The landlord addreffed himself to the captain: "Mr. Kellick, this gentleman wants to go to France," and then retired. "Sir, (replied he,) I fhould be glad to carry you, if the wind was fair." My honeft friend, I thought I understood from the mafter of the house just now, that though the wind was not