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fell, there were not above twenty words spoken during the first course; that upon serving up the second, one of the company was a quarter of an hour in telling them that the ducklings and asparagus were very good; and that another took up the same time in declaring himself of the same opinion. This jest did not, however, go off so well as the former; for one of the guests being a brave man, and fuller of resentment than he knew how to express, went out of the room, and sent the facetious inviter a challenge in writing, which, though it was afterwards dropped by the interposition of friends, put a stop to these ludicrous entertainments.
• Now, Sir, I dare say you will agree with me, that as there is no moral in these jests they ought to be discouraged, and looked upon rather as pieces of unluckiness than wit. However, as it is natural for one man to refine upon the thought of another; and impossible for any single person, how great soever his parts may be, to invent an art, and bring it to its utmost perfection; I shall here give you an account of an honest gentleman of my acquaintance, who, upon hearing the character of the wit above mentioned, has himself assumed it, and endeavoured to convert it to the benefit of mankind. He invited half a dozen of his frends one day to dinner, who were each of them famous for inserting several redundant phrases in their discourse,
D'ye hear me?"-D'ye see ?—That is,-And so, Sir.” Each of his guests making use of his particular elegance, appeared so ridiculous to his neighbour, that he could not but reflect upon
himself as appearing equally ridiculous to the rest of the company. By this means, before they had sat long together, every one, talking with the greatest circumspection, and carefully avoiding his favourite
expletive, the conversation was cleared of its redundancies, and had a greater quantity of sense, though less of sound in it.
* The same well-meaning gentleman took occasion, at another time, to bring together such of his friends as were addicted to a foolish habitual custom of swearing. In order to shew them the absurdity of the practice, he had recourse to the invention above mentioned, having placed an amanuensis in a private part of the room. After the second bottle, when men open their minds without reserve, my honest friend began to take notice of the many sonorous but unnecessary words that had passed in his house since their sitting down at table, and how much good conversation they had lost by giving way to such superfluous phrases.
66 What a tax," says he, “ would they have raised for the poor, had we put the laws in execution upon one another!" Every one of them took this gentle reproof in good part; upon which he told them, that, knowing their conversation would have no secrets in it, he had ordered it to be taken down in writing, and, for the humour-sake, would read it to them, if they pleased. There were ten sheets of it, which might have been reduced to two, had there not been those abominable interpolations I have before mentioned. Upon the reading of it in cold blood, it looked rather like a conference of fiends than of men. one trembled at himself upon hearing calmly what he had pronounced amidst the heat and inadvertency of discourse.
• I shall only mention another occasion wherein he made use of the same invention to cure a different kind of men, who are the pests of all polite conversation, and murder time as much as either of the two former, though they do it more innocentlyI mean, that dull generation of story-tellers. My
In short, every friend got together about half a dozen of his acquaintance, who were infected with this strange malady. The first day one of them sitting down entered upon the siege of Namur, which lasted till four o'clock, their time of parting: The second day a North Briton took possession of the discourse, which it was impossible to get out of his hands so long as the company stayed together. The third day was engrossed after the same manner by a story of the same length. They at last began to reflect upon this barbarous way of treating one another, and by this means awakened out of that lethargy with which each of them had been seized for several years.
have somewhere declared, that extraordinary and uncommon characters of mankind are the game which you delight in, and as I look upon you to be the greatest sportsman, or, if you please, the Nimrod among this species of writers, I thought this discovery would not be unacceptable to you.
I am, Sir, &c.' I.
N° 372. WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, 1712.
Pudet hæc opprobria nobis
Ovid. Met. 1. 768.
. May 6, 1712. • I am sexton of the parish of Coventgarden, and complained to you some time ago, that I
was tolling into prayers at eleven in the morning, crowds of people of quality hastened to assemble at a puppet-show on the other side of the garden. I had at the same time a very great disesteem for Mr. Powell and his little thoughtless commonwealth, as if they had enticed the gentry into those wanderings: but let that be as it will, I am convinced of the honest intentions of the said Mr. Powell and company, and send this to acquaint you, that he has given all the profits which shall arise to-morrow night by his play to the use of the poor charity-children of this parish. I have been informed, Sir, that in Holland all persons who set up any show, or act any stage-play, be the actors either of wood and wire, or flesh and blood, are obliged to pay out of their gains such a proportion to the honest and industrious poor in the neighbourhood:
: by this means they make diversion and pleasure pay a tax to labour and industry. I have been told also, that all the time of Lent, in Romancatholic countries, the persons of condition administer to the necessities of the poor, and attend the beds
* In the original publication in folio, the inotto is wanting.
of lazars and diseased persons. Our protestant ladies and gentlemen are so much to seek for proper ways of passing time, that they are obliged to punchinello for knowing what to do with themselves. Since the case is so, I desire only you would entreat our people of quality, who are not to be interrupted in their pleasure, to think of the practice of any moral duty, that they would at least line for their sins, and give something to these poor children: a little out of their luxury and superfluity would atone, in some measure, for the wanton use of the rest of their fortunes. It would not, methinks, be amiss, if the ladies who haunt the cloisters and passages of the play-houses were, upon every offence, obliged to pay to this excellent institution of schools of charity. This method would make offenders themselves do service to the public: But in the mean time I desire you would publish this voluntary reparation which Mr. Powell does our parish, for the noise he has made in it by the constant rattling of coaches, drums, trumpets, triumphs, and battles. The destruction of Troy, adorned with Highland dances, are to make up
the entertainment of all who are so well disposed as not to forbear a light entertainment, for no other reason but that it is to do a good action.
· I am, sir,
I am credibly informed, that all the insinuations which a certain writer made against Mr. Powell at the Bath, are false and groundless.'
My employment, which is that of a broker, leading me often into taverns about the