Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

venerable, it is in women more lovely; which Milton has very finely expressed in his Paradise Lost, where Adam, speaking of Eve, after having asserted his own pre-eminence, as being first in creation and internal faculties, breaks out into the following rapture :

- Yet when I approach
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems,
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do, or say,
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best.
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded. Wisdom, in discourse with her,
Loses, discountenanced, and like folly shows.
Authority and reason on her wait,
As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally : and, to consummate all,
Greatness of mind, and nobleness, their seat
Build in her loveliest, and create an awe
About her, as a guard angelic placed.

No. 103. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1709.

-Hæ nugæ seria ducunt
In mala, derisum semel exceptumque sinistré. Hor.

From my own Apartment, December 5. THERE is nothing gives a man greater satisfaction, than the sense of having despatched a great deal of business, especially when it turns to the public emolument. I have much pleasure of this kind upon my spirits at present, occasioned by the fatigue of affairs which I went through last Saturday. It is some time since I set apart that day for examining the pretensions of several who had applied to me for canes, perspective-glasses, snuff-boxes, orange-flower-waters, and the like ornaments of life. In order to adjust this matter, I had before directed Charles Lillie, of Beaufort Buildings, to prepare a great bundle of blank licences in the following words :

“You are hereby required to permit the bearer of this cane to pass and repass through the streets and suburbs of London, or any place within ten miles of it, without let or molestation: provided that he does not walk with it under

[ocr errors]

his arm, brandish it in the air, or hang it on a button : in which case it shall be forfeited; and I hereby declare it forfeited to any one who shall think it safe to take it from him.

" Isaac BICKERSTAFFE.” The same form, differing only in the provisos, will serve for a perspective, snuff-box, or perfumed handkerchief. I had placed myself in my elbow-chair at the upper end of my great parlour, having ordered Charles Lillie to take his place upon a joint-stool with a writing-desk before him. John Morphew also took his station at the door; I having, for his good and faithful services, appointed him my chamberkeeper upon court days. He let me know, that there were a great number attending without. Upon which I ordered him to give notice, that I did not intend to sit upon

snuff. boxes that day, but that those who appeared for canes might enter. The first presented me with the following petition, which I ordered Mr. Lillie to read. “ To Isaac Bickerstaffe, Esq., Censor of Great Britain.

“ The humble Petition of Simon Trippit,

Showeth, “That your petitioner having been bred up to a cane from his youth, it is now become as necessary to him as any

other of his limbs.

“That a great part of his behaviour depending upon it, he should be reduced to the utmost necessities if he should lose the use of it.

“ That the knocking of it upon his shoe, leaning one leg upon it, or whistling with it on his mouth, are such great reliefs to him in conversation, that he does not know how to be good company without it.

“ That he is at present engaged in an amour, and must despair of success, if it be taken from him.

“Your petitioner therefore hopes, that (the premises tenderly considered) your Worship will not deprive him of so useful and so necessary a support.

“And your petitioner shall ever," &c.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Upon the hearing of his case, I was touched with some compassion, and the more so, when upon observing him

nearer I found he was a prig. I bid him produce his cane in court, which he had left at the door. He did so, and I finding it to be very curiously clouded, with a transparent amber head, and a blue ribbon to hang upon his wrist, I immediately ordered my clerk Lillie to lay it up, and deliver out to him a plain joint, headed with walnut; and then, in order to wean him from it by degrees, permitted him to wear it three days in the week, and to abate proportionably till he found himself able to

go

alone. The second who appeared, came limping into the court : and setting forth in his petition many pretences for the use of a cane, I caused them to be examined one by one; but finding him in different stories, and confronting him with several witnesses who had seen him walk upright, I ordered Mr. Lillie to take in his cane, and rejected his petition as frivolous.

A third made his entry with great difficulty, leaning upon a slight stick, and in danger of falling every step he took. I saw the weakness of his hams; and hearing that he had married a young wife about a fortnight before, I bid him leave his cane, and gave him a new pair of crutches, with which he went off in great vigour and alacrity. This gentleman was succeeded by another, who seemed very much pleased while his petition was reading, in which he had represented, that he was extremely afflicted with the gout, and set his foot upon the ground with the caution and dignity which

accompany. that distemper. I suspected him for an impostor, and having ordered him to be searched, I committed him into the hands of Dr. Thomas Smith in King Street, (my own corn-cutter,) who attended in an outward room; and wrought so speedy a cure upon him, that I thought fit to send him also away without his cane.

While I was thus dispensing justice, I heard a noise in my outward room; and inquiring what was the occasion of it, my door-keeper told me, that they had taken up one in the

very fact as he was passing by my door. They immediately brought in a lively, fresh-coloured young man, who made great resistance with hand and foot, but did not offer to make use of his cane, which hung upon his fifth button. Upon examination, I found him to be an Oxford scholar, who was just entered at the Temple. He at first disputed the jurisdiction of the court; but being driven out of his little law and logic, he told me very pertly, that he looked

upon such a perpendicular creature as man to make a very imperfect figure without a cane in his hand. “It is well known (says he) we ought, according to the natural situation of our bodies, to walk upon our hands and feet; and that the wisdom of the ancients had described man to be an animal of four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three at night; by which they intimated, that a cane might very properly become part of us in some period of life." Upon which I asked him, “whether he wore it at his breast to have it in readiness when that period should arrive ?” My young lawyer immediately told me, he had a property in it, and a right to hang it where he pleased, and to make use of it as he thought fit, provided that he did not break the peace with it; and further said, that he never took it off his button, unless it were to lift it up at a coachman, hold it over the head of a drawer, point out the circumstances of a story; or for other services of the like nature, that are all within the laws of the land. I did not care for discouraging a young man who, I saw, would come to good; and because his heart was set upon his new purchase, I only ordered him to wear it about his neck, instead of hanging it upon his button, and so dismissed him.1

There were several appeared in court, whose pretensions I found to be very good, and therefore gave many their licences upon paying their fees; as many others had their licences renewed, who required more time for recovery

of their lameness than I had before allowed them.

Having despatched this set of my pétitioners, there came in a well-dressed man, with a glass-tube in one hand and his petition in the other. Upon his entering the room, he threw back the right side of his wig, put forward his right leg, and advancing the glass to his right eye, aimed it directly at me. In the mean while, to make

my

observations also, I put on my spectacles ; in which posture we surveyed each other for some time. Upon the removal of our glasses, I desired him to read his petition, which he did very promptly and easily; though at the same time it set forth, that he could see nothing distinctly, and was within a very few degrees of being utterly blind; concluding with a prayer, that

Thus far, chiefly, or only, Mr. Addison. What follows, to the end, Sir Richard Steele's.

upon the fair.'s

he might be permitted to strengthen and extend his sight by a glass. In answer to this, I told him, he might sometimes extend it to his own destruction. “As you are now (said I) you are out of the reach of beauty; the shafts of the finest eyes lose their force before they can come at you ; you cannot distinguish a toast from an orange-wench ; you can see a whole circle of beauty without any interruption from an impertinent face to discompose you.

In short, what are snares for others ”—My petitioner would hear no more, but told me very seriously, “ Mr. Bickerstaffe, you quite mistake

your
man ;

it is the joy, the pleasure, the employment of my life, to frequent public assemblies, and gaze

In a word, I found his use of a glass was occasioned by no other infirmity but his vanity, and was not so much designed to make him see, as to make him be seen and distinguished by others. I therefore refused him a licence for a perspective, but allowed him a pair of spectacles, with full permission to use them in any public assembly as he should think fit. He was followed by so very few of this order of men, that I have reason to hope this sort of cheats are almost at an end.

The orange-flower-men appeared next with petitions, perfumed so strongly with musk, that I was almost overcome with the scent; and for my own sake, was obliged forthwith to licence their handkerchiefs, especially when I found they had sweetened them at Charles Lillie's, and that some of their persons would not be altogether inoffensive without them. John Morphew, whom I have made the general of my dead men, acquainted me, that the petitioners were all of

, that order, and could produce certificates to prove it if I required it. I was so well pleased with this way of their embalming themselves, that I commanded the abovesaid Morphew to give it in orders to his whole army, that every one who did not surrender himself up to be disposed of by the upholders, should use the same method to keep himself sweet during his present state of putrefaction.

I finished my session with great content of mind, reflecting upon the good I had done; for however slightly men may regard these particularities and little follies in dress and behaviour, they lead to greater evils. The bearing to be laughed at for such singularities, teaches us insensibly an impertinent fortitude, and enables us to bear public censure

« ZurückWeiter »