« PredošláPokračovať »
right in this particular, I would fain have them consider with themselves, whether we are not more likely to be struck by a figure entirely female, than with such an one as we may see every day in our glasses. Or, if they please, let them reflect upon their own hearts, and think how they would be affected should they meet a man on horseback, in his breeches and jack-boots, and at the same time dressed up in a commode and a nightraile.
I must observe that this fashion was first of all brought to us from France, a country which has infected all the nations of Europe with its levity. I speak not this in derogation of a whole people, having more than once found fault with those general reflexions which strike' at kingdoms or commonwealths in the gross-a piece of cruelty, which an ingenious writer of our own compares to that of Caligula, who wished that the Roman people had all but one neck, that he might behead them at a blow. I shall therefore only remark, that as liveliness and assurance are in a peculiar manner the qualifications of the French nation, the same habits and customs will not give the same offence to that people which they produce among those of our own country. Modesty is our distinguishing character, as vivacity is theirs : and when this our national virtue appears in that female beauty for which our British ladies are celebrated above all others in the universe, it makes up the most amiable object that the eye of man can possibly behold.
No 436. MONDAY, JULY 21, 1712.
Verso pollice vulgi
JUV. Sat. iii. 36.
Being a person of insatiable curiosity, I could not forbear going on Wednesday last to a place of no small renown for the gallantry of the lower order of Britons, to the Bear-garden at Hockley in the Hole; where (as a whitish brown paper, put into my hand in the street, informed me) there was to be a trial of skill exhibited between two masters of the noble science of defence, at two of the clock precisely. I was not a little charmed with the solemnity of the challenge, which ran thus :
'I James Miller, serjeant, (lately come from the frontier of Portugal) master of the noble science of defence, hearing in most places where I have been of the great fame of Timothy Buck, of London, master of the said science, do invite him to meet me, and exercise at the several weapons following, viz. • Back sword,
Single falchion, • Sword and dagger,
Case of falchions, Sword and buckler, Quarter staff.' If the generous ardour in James Miller to dispute the reputation of Timothy Buck had something resembling the old heroes of romance, Timothy Buck returned answer in the same paper with the like spirit, adding a little indignation at being challenged, and seeming to condescend to fight James Miller, not in regard to Miller himself, but in that, as the fame went about, he had fought Parkes of Coventry. The acceptance of the combat ran in these words:
I Timothy Buck, of Clare-market, master of the noble science of defence, hearing he did fight Mr. Parkes * of Coventry, will not fail (God willing) to meet this fair inviter at the time and place appointed, desiring a clear stage and no favour.
• Vivat Regina.' I shall not here look back on the spectacles of the Greeks and Romans of this kind, but must believe this custom took its rise from the ages of knight-errantry ; from those who loved one woman so well, that they hated all men and women else ; from those who would fight you, whether you were or not of their mind ; from those who demanded the combat of their contemporaries, both for admiring their mistress or discommending her. I cannot therefore but lament, that the terrible part of the ancient fight is preserved, when the amorous side of it is forgotten. We have retained the barbarity, but lost the gallantry of the old combatants. I could wish, methinks, these gentlemen had consulted me in the promulgation of the conflict. I was obliged by a fair young maid, wbom ( understood to be
On a large tomb in the great church-yard of Coventry is the following inscription :
• To the memory of Mr. John Sparkes, a native of this city; he was a man of a mild disposition, a gladiator by profession, who, after having fought 350 battles in the principal parts of Europe with honour and applause, at length quitted the stage, sheathed his sword, and, with Christian resignation, submitted to grand victor in the 52d year of his age.
• Anno salutis humana 1733.' His friend, serjeant Miller, here mentioned, a man of vast athletic accomplishments, was advanced afterwards to the rank of a captain in the British army, and did notable service in Scotland under the duke of Cumberland in 1745.
called Elizabeth Preston, daughter of the keeper of the garden, with a glass of water ; who I imagined might have been, for form's sake, the general representative of the lady fought for, and from her beauty the proper Amaryllis on these occasions. It would have run better in the challenge, ' I James Miller, serjeant, who have travelled parts abroad, and came last from the frontier of Portugal, for the love of Elizabeth Preston, do assert that the said Elizabeth is the fairest of women.'
Then the answer Timothy Buck, who have staid in Great Britain during all the war in foreign parts, for the sake of Susannah Page, do deny that Elizabeth Preston is so fair as the said Susannah Page. Let Susannah Page look on, and I desire of James Miller no favour.'
This would give the battle quite another turn; and a proper station for the ladies, whose complexion was disputed by the sword, would animate the disputants with a more gallant incentive than the expectation of money from the spectators ; though I would not have that neglected, but thrown to that fair one whose lover was approved by the donor.
Yet, considering the thing wants such amendments, it was carried with great order. James Miller came on first, preceded by two disabled drummers, to show, I suppose, that the prospect of maimed bodies did not in the least deter him. There ascended with the daring Miller a gentlemen, whose name I could not learn, with a dogged air, as unsatisfied that he was not principal.
This son of anger lowered at the whole assembly, and, weighing himself as he marched round from side to side, with a stiff knee and shoulder, he gave intimations of the purpose he smothered till he saw the issue of the encounter. Miller had a blue ribbon tied round the sword arm; which ornament I conceive to be the remain of that custom of wearing a mistress's favour on such occasions of old.
Miller is a man of six foot eight inches height, of a kind but bold aspect, well fashioned, and ready of his limbs; and such readiness as spoke his ease in them was obtained from a habit of motion in military exercise.
The expectation of the spe ators was now almost at its height; and the crowd pressing in, several active persons thought they were placed rather according to their fortune than their merit, and took it in their heads to prefer themselves from the open area or pit to the galleries. The dispute between desert and property brought many to the ground, and raised others in proportion to the highest seats by turns, for the space of ten minutes, till Timothy Buck came on, and the whole assembly, giving up their disputes, turned their eyes upon the champions. Then it was that every man's affection turned to one or the other irresistibly. A judicious gentleman near me said, 'I could, methinks, be Miller's second, but I had rather have Buck for mine.' Miller had an audacious look, that took the eye ; Buck, a perfect composure, that engaged the judgment. Buck came on in a plain coat, and kept all his air till the instant of engaging ; at which time he undressed to his shirt, his arm adorned with a bandage of red ribbon. No one can describe the sudden concern in the whole assembly; the most tumultuous crowd in nature was as still and as much engagedasif all their lives depended on the first blow. The combatants met in the middle of the stage, and shaking hands, as removing all malice, they retired with much grace to the extremities of it; from whence they immediately faced about, and approached each other, Miller with a heart full of resolution, Buck with a watchful untroubled countenance ; Buck re