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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 show 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.
In short, every 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 dif. ferent kind of men, who are the pests of all polite conversation, and murder time as much as either of the two former, thongh they do it more innocentlyI mean, that dull generation of story-tellers. My friend got together abont half a dozen of his ac. quaintance, 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 reitect 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. As
you have somewhere declared, that extraor. dinary 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, t. e Nimrod among this species of writers, I thought this discovery would not be unacceptable to you,
I am, Sir, &c.' 1.
N° 372. WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, 1712.
-Pudet bec opprobria nobis
OVID, Met, 1.25€.
May 6, 1712. ! I AM sexton of the parish of Covent. garden, and complained to you some time ago, that as 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 neighbour. hood : by this means they make diversion and pleasure pay a tax to labour and industry. I have becu told also, that all the time of Lent, in Roman-ca. tholic countries, the persons of condition administer to the necessities of the poor, and attend the beds
* In the original publication in folio, the motto is wanting.
of lazars and diseased persons. Our protestant ladies and gentlemen are so much to seek for pro. per ways of passing time, that they are obliged to punchinello for knowing what to do with them. selves. Since the case is so, I desire only you would intreat 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 fine 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, nie. thinks, be amiss, if the ladies who haunt the clois. ters and passages of the play-house were, upon every offence, obliged to pay to this excellent in. stitution of schools of charity. This method would wake 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, loading me often into taverns about the
Exchange, has given me occasion to observe a certain enormity, which I shall here submit to your animadversion. In three or four of these taverns, I have, at different times, taken notice of a precise set of people, with grave countenances, short wigs, black clothes, or dark camlet trimmed with black, and mourning gloves and hat-bands, who meet on certain days at each tavern successively, and keep a sort of moving club. Having often met with their faces, and observed a certain slinking way, in their dropping in one after another, I had the curiosity to inquire into their characters, being the rather moved to it by their agreeing in the sin. gularity of their dress; and I find, upon due exa. mination, they are a knot of parish clerks, who have taken a fancy to one another, and perhaps settle the bills of mortality over their half-pints. "I have so great a value and veneration for any who have but even an assenting amen in the service of religion, that I am afraid lest these persons should incur some scandal by this practice; and would therefore have them, without raillery, advised to send the Florence and pullets home to their own houses, and not pretend to live as well as the over. keers of the poor,
I am, sir,
May 6th. was last Wednesday night at a tavern in the city, among a set of men who call themselves - the lawyers' club.” You must know, Sir, this club consists only of attorneys; and at this meeting every one proposes the cause he has then in hand to the board, upon which each member gives his judgment according to the experience he has 'Det