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and every reply or answer ; directing exactly the moment when one, two, or all the company are to laugh : but, having duly considered that this expedient would too much enlarge the bulk of the volume, and consequently the price; and likewise that something ought to be left for ingenious readers to find out, I have determined to leave that whole affair, although of great importance, to their own discretion.

The reader must learn by all means to distinguish between proverbs and those polite speeches which beautify conversation ; for, as to the former, I utterly reject them out of all ingenious discourse.* I acknowledge, indeed, that there may possibly be found in this treatise a few sayings, among so great a number of smart turns of wit and humour as I have produced, which have a proverbial air; however, I hope it will be considered that even these were not originally proverbs, but the genuine productions of superior wits, to embellish and support conversation ; whence, with great impropriety as well as plagiarism, (if you will forgive a hard word,) they have most injuriously been transferred into proverbial maxims; and therefore, in justice, ought to be resumed out of vulgar hands, to adorn the drawing-rooms of princes both male and female, the levees of great ministers, as well as the toilet and tea-table of the ladies.

I can faithfully assure the reader, that there is not one single witty phrase in this whole collection, which has not received the stamp and approbation of at least one hundred years, and how much longer, it is hard to

* This is ironical, for almost all the repartees in the dialogue turn upon proverbial expressions. VOL. IX.


determine; he may therefore be secure to find them all genuine, sterling, and authentic.

But, before this elaborate treatise can become of universal use and ornament to my native country, two points, that will require much time and much application, are absolutely necessary.

For, first, whatever person would aspire to be completely witty, smart, humorous, and polite, must, by hard labour, be able to retain in his memory every single sentence contained in this work, so as never to be once at a loss in applying the right answers, questions, repartees, and the like, immediately, and without study or hesitation.

And, secondly, after a lady or gentleman has so well overcome this difficulty as never to be at a loss upon any emergency, the true management of every feature, and almost of every limb, is equally necessary; without which an infinite number of absurdities will inevitably ensue. For instance, there is hardly a polite sentence in the following dialogues, which does not absolutely require some peculiar graceful motion in the eyes, or nose, or mouth, or forehead, or chin, or suitable toss of the head, with certain offices assigned to each hand; and in ladies, the whole exercise of the fan, fitted to the energy of every word they deliver ; by no means omitting the various turns and cadence of the voice, the twistings, and movements, and different postures of the body, the several kinds and gradations of laughter, which the ladies must daily practise by the looking-glass, and consult upon them with their waiting-maids.

My readers will soon observe what a great compass of real and useful knowledge this science includes; wherein, although nature, assisted by genius, may be very instrumental, yet a strong memory and constant applica

tion, together with example and precept, will be highly necessary. For these reasons, I have often wished, that certain male and female instructors, perfectly versed in this science, would set up schools, for the instruction of young ladies and gentlemen therein.

I remember, about thirty years ago, there was a Bo hemian woman, of that species commonly known by the name of gipsies, who came over hither from France, and generally attended Isaac the dancing-master, when he was teaching his art to misses of quality; and while the young ladies were thus employed, the Bohemian, standing at some distance, but full in their sight, acted before them all proper airs, and heavings of the head, and motion of the hand, and twistings of the body; whereof you may still observe the good effects in several of our elder ladies.

After the same manner, it were much to be desired that some expert gentlewomen gone to decay would set up public schools, wherein young girls of quality, or great fortunes, might first be taught to repeat this following system of conversation, which I have been at much pains to compile; and then to adapt every feature of their countenances, every turn of their hands, every screwing of their bodies, every exercise of their fans, to the humour of the sentences they hear or deliver in conversation. But above all, to instruct them in every species and degree of laughing in the proper seasons, at their own wit or that of the company. And if the sons of the nobility and gentry, instead of being sent to common schools, or put into the hands of tutors at home, to learn nothing but words, were consigned to able instructors, in the same art, I cannot find what use there could be of books, except in the hands of those who are to make learning their trade, which is below the dignity of persons born to titles or estates.

It would be another infinite advantage, that, by cultivating this science, we should wholly avoid the vexations and impertinence of pedants, who affect to talk in a language not to be understood ; and whenever a polite person offers accidentally to use any of their jargon terms, have the presumption to laugh at us for pronouncing those words in a genteeler manner.

Whereas I do here affirm, that, whenever any fine gentleman or lady condescends to let a hard word pass out of their mouths, every syllable is smoothed and polished in the passage; and it is a true mark of politeness, both in writing and reading, to vary the orthography as well as the sound; because we are infinitely better judges of what will please a distinguishing ear, than those who call themselves scholars can possibly be ; who, consequently, ought to correct their books, and manner of pronouncing, by the authority of our example, from whose lips they proceed with infinitely more beauty and significancy.

But, in the meantime, until so great, so useful, and so necessary a design can be put in execution, (which, considering the good disposition of our country at present, I shall not despair of living to see,) let me recommend the following treatise to be carried about as a pocket companion, by all gentlemen and ladies, when they are going to visit, or dine, or drink tea; or where they happen to pass the evening without cards, as I have sometimes known it to be the case upon disappointments or accidents unforeseen ; desiring they would read their several parts in their chairs or coaches, to prepare themselves for every kind of conversation that can possibly happen.

Although I have, in justice to my country, allowed the genius of our people to excel that of any other nation upon earth, and have confirmed this truth by an argument not to be controlled, I mean, by producing so great a number of witty sentences in the ensuing dialogues, all of undoubted authority, as well as of our own production, yet I must confess at the same time, that we are wholly indebted for them to our ancestors ; for, as long as my memory reaches, I do not recollect one new phrase of importance to have been added; which defect in us moderns I take to have been occasioned by the introduction of cant words in the reign of King Charles the Second. And those have so often varied, that hardly one of them, of above a year's standing, is now intelligible; nor anywhere to be found, excepting a small number strewed here and there in the comedies, and other fantastic writings of that age.

The Honourable Colonel James Graham, my old friend and companion, did likewise, toward the end of the same reign, invent a set of words and phrases, which continued almost to the time of his death. But, as these terms of art were adapted only to courts and politicians, and extended little further than among his particular acquaintance, (of whom I had the honour to be one,) they are now almost forgotten. Nor did the late D. of Rand E. of E

– succeed much better, although they proceeded no further than single words ; whereof, except bite, bamboozle, and one or two more, the whole vocabulary is antiquated.

The same fate has already attended those other town wits, who furnish us with a great variety of new terms, which are annually changed, and those of the late season sunk in oblivion. Of these I was once favoured with

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