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decessors, but as my patterns in this great employment; and have several times asked my own heart with great impartiality, whether Cato will not bear a more venerable figure among posterity than Bickerstaffe ?
I find the duty of the Roman Censor was twofold. The first part of it consisted in making frequent reviews of the people, in casting up their numbers, ranging them under their several tribes, disposing them into proper classes, and subdividing them into their respective centuries.
In compliance with this part of the office, I have taken many curious surveys of this great city. I have collected into particular bodies the dappers and the smarts, the natural and affected rakes, the pretty fellows and the very pretty fellows. I have likewise drawn out in several distinct parties, your pedants and men of fire, your gamesters and politicians. I have separated cits from citizens, free-thinkers from philosophers, wits from snuff-takers, and duellists from men of honour. I have likewise made a calculation of esquires, not only considering the several distinct swarms of them that are settled in the different parts of this town, but also, that more rugged species that inhabit the fields and woods, and are often found in pot-houses, and upon hay-cocks. I shall
pass the soft sex over in silence, having not yet reduced them into any tolerable order; as likewise the softer tribe of lovers, which will cost me a great deal of time, before I shall be able to cast them into their several centuries and subdivisions.
The second part of the Roman Censor's office was to look into the manners of the people, and to check any growing luxury, whether in diet, dress, or building. This duty, likewise, I have endeavoured to discharge, by those wholesome precepts which I have given my countrymen in regard to beef and mutton, and the
severe censures which I have passed upon ragouts and fricassees. There is not, as I am informed, a pair of red heels to be seen within ten miles of London, which I may likewise ascribe, without vanity, to the becoming zeal which I expressed in that particular. I must own, my success with the petticoat is not so great; but as I have not yet done with it, I hope I shall, in a little time, put an effectual stop to that growing evil. As for the article of building, I intend hereafter to enlarge upon it, having lately observed several warehouses, nay, private shops, that stand upon Corinthian pillars, and whole rows of tin pots showing themselves, in order to their sale, through a sash window.
I have likewise followed the example of the Roman Censors, in punishing offences according to the quality of the offender. It was usual for them to expel a senator who had been guilty of great immoralities out of the senate house, by omitting his name when they called over the list of his brethren. In the same manner, to remove effectually several worthless men who stand possessed of great honours, I have made frequent draughts of dead men out of the vicious part of the nobility, and given them up to the new society of upholders, with the necessary orders for their interment. As the Roman Censors used to punish the knights or gentlemen of Rome, by taking away their horses from them, I have seized the canes of many criminals of figure, whom I had just reason to animadvert upon. As for the offenders among the common people of Rome, they were generally chastised, by being thrown out of a higher tribe, and placed in one which was not so honourable. My reader cannot but think I have had an eye to this punishment, when I have degraded one species of men into bombs, squibs, and crackers, and another into drums, bass-viols, and bagpipes; not to mention whole packs of delinquents whom I have shut up in kennels, and the new hospital which I am at present erecting, for the reception of those of my countrymen who give me but little hopes of their amendment, on the borders of Moorfields. I shall only observe upon this particular, that since some late surveys I have taken of this island, I shall think it necessary to enlarge the plan of the buildings which I design in this quarter.
When my great predecessor Cato the elder stood for the censorship of Rome, there were several other competitors who offered themselves : and to get an interest among the people, gave them great promises of the mild and gentle treatment which they would use towards them in that office. Cato on the contrary told them, he presented himself as a candidate, because he knew the age was sunk in immorality and corruption; and that if they would give him their votes, he would promise them to make use of such a strictness and severity of discipline as should recover them out of it. The
Roman historians, upon this occasion, very much celebrated the public-spiritedness of that people, who chose Cato for their censor, notwithstanding his method of recommending himself. I
may in some measure extol my own countrymen upon the same account, who, without any respect to party, or any application from myself
, have made such generous subscriptions for the Censor of Great Britain, as will give a magnificence to my
age, and which I esteem more than I would any post in Europe of an hundred times the value. I shall only add, that upon looking into my catalogue of subscribers, which I intend to print alphabetically in the front of my lucubrations, I find the names of the greatest beauties and wits in the whole island of Great Britain, which I only mention for the benefit of any of them who have not yet subscribed, it being my design to close the subscription in a very short time.
No. 163. THURSDAY, APRIL 25, 1710.
Idem inficeto est inficetior rure
CATUL. DE SUFFENO.
Will's Coffee-house, April 24. I YESTERDAY came hither about two hours before the company generally make their appearance, with a design to read over all the newspapers ; but upon my sitting down, I was accosted by Ned Softly, who saw me from a corner in the other end of the room, where I found he had been writing something. Mr. Bickerstaffe, (says hė,) I observe
you and I are just of a humour; for, you must know, of all impertinencies, there is nothing which I so much hate as news. I never read a Gazette in my life; and never trouble my head about our armies, whether they win or lose, or in what part of the world they lie encamped. Without giving me time to reply, he drew a paper of verses out of his pocket, telling me that he had
by a late
something which would entertain me more agreeably, and that he would desire my judgment upon every line, for that we had time enough before us till the company came in.
Ned Softly is a very pretty poet, and a great admirer of easy lines. Waller is his favourite: and as that admirable writer has the best and worst verses of any among our English poets, Ned Softly has got all the bad ones without book, which he repeats upon occasion, to show his reading, and garnish his conversation. Ned is indeed a true English reader, incapable of relishing the great and masterly strokes of this art; but wonderfully pleased with the little Gothic ornaments of epigrammatical conceits, turns, points, and quibbles, which are so frequent in the most admired of our English poets, and practised by those who want genius and strength to represent, after the manner of the ancients, simplicity in its natural beauty and perfection.
Finding myself unavoidably engaged in such a conversation, I was resolved to turn my pain into a pleasure, and to divert myself as well as I could
with so very odd a fellow. You must understand, (says Ned,) that the sonnet I am going to read to you was written upon a lady, who showed me some verses of her own making, and is, perhaps, the best poet of our age.
shall hear it.' Upon which he began to read as follows:
“I fancy, when your song you sing,
(Your song you sing with so much art,) Your pen was plucked from Cupid's wing;
For ah! it wounds me like his dart.” “Why (says I) this is a little nosegay of conceits, a very lump of salt: every verse hath something in it that piques ; and then the dart in the last line is certainly as pretty a sting in the tail of an epigram (for so I think your critics call it) as ever entered into the thought of a poet."
" Dear Mr. Bickerstaffe, (says he, shaking me by the hand,) every
body knows you to be a judge of these things, and to tell you truly, I read over Roscommon's translation of Horace's Art of Poetry three several times, before I sat down to write the sonnet which I have shown you. But
shall hear it again, and pray
line of it, for not one of them shall pass without your approbation.
'When dressed in laurel wreaths you shine.' “That is, (says he,) when you have your garland on; when you are writing verses."
To which I replied, “I know your meaning: a metaphor!” “ The same,” said he, and went on:
“And tune your soft melodious notes.' * Pray observe the gliding of that verse; there is scarce a consonant in it: I took care to make it run upon liquids. Give me your opinion of it." * Truly, (said I,) | think it as good as the former.” “I am very glad to hear you say so, (says he,) but mind the next :
" You seem a sister of the Nine.' “ That is, (says he,) you seem a sister of the Muses; for if you look into ancient authors, you will find it was their opinion, that there were nine of them.” “I remember it very well, (said I,) but pray proceed."
"" Or Phoebus' self in petticoats.' “Phæbus (says he) was the god of poetry. These little instances, Mr. Bickerstaffe, show a gentleman's reading. Then to take off from the air of learning which Phæbus and the Muses have given to this first stanza, you may observe, how it falls all of a sudden into the familiar; in petticoats !
«Or Phæbus' self in petticoats.'” “Let us now (says I) enter upon the second stanza. I find the first line is still a continuation of the metaphor.
'I fancy when your song you sing.” “ It is very right, (says he ;) but pray observe the turn of words in those two lines. I was a whole hour in adjusting of them, and have still a doubt upon me, whether in the second line it should be, 'Your song you sing;' or, ' You sing your song. You shall hear them both :''
'I fancy, when your song you sing,
(Your song you sing with so much art,)' or,
'I fancy when your song you sing,