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“Sir, Having a peculiar humour of desiring to be somewhat the better or wiser for what I read, I am always uneasy when, in any profound writer, for I read no others, I happen to meet with what I cannot understand. When this falls out, it is a great grievance to me that I am not able to consult the author himself about his meaning, for commentators are a sect that has little share in my esteem : your elaborate writings have, among many others, this advantage, that their author is still alive, and ready, as his extensive charity makes us expect, to explain whatever may be found in them too sublime for vulgar understandings. This, sir, makes me presume to ask you, how the Hampstead hero's character could be perfectly new when the last letters came away, and yet sir John Suckling so well acquainted with it sixty years ago ? * I hope, sir, you will not take this amiss : I can assure you, I have a profound respect for

which makes me write this, with the same disposition with which Longinus bids us read Homer and Plato. When in reading, says he, any of those celebrated authors, we meet with a passage to which we cannot well reconcile our reasons, we ought firmly to believe, that were those great wits present to answer for themselves, we should to our wonder be convinced, that we only are guilty of the mistakes we before attributed to them. If you think fit to remove the scruple that now torments me, it will be an encouragement to me to settle a frequent correspondence with you; several things falling in my way which would not, perhaps, be altogether foreign to your purpose, and whereon your thoughts would be very acceptable to your most humble servant,


* “ Letters from Hampstead say, there is a coxcomb arrived there, of a kind which is utterly new.

The fellow has courage, which he takes himself to be obliged to give proofs of every hour he lives. He is ever fighting with the men, and contradicting the women, A lady, who sent to me, superscribed him with this description out of Suckling :"

I am a man of war and might,
And know thus much, that I can fight,
Whether I am i'th' wrong or right,

No man under heaven I fear,
New oaths I can exactly swear;
And forty healths my brain will bear

Most stoutly.


I own this is clean, and Mr Greenhat has convinced me that I have writ nonsense, yet am ! not at all offended at him.

Scimus, et hanc veniam petimusque damusque vicissim.*

Hor. Ars. Poet, ver. 11.

This is the true art of raillery, when a man turns another into ridicule, and shews at the same time he is in good humour, and not urged on by malice against the person he rallies.

Obadiah Greenhat has hit this very well : for to make an apology to Isaac Bickerstaff, an unknown student and horary historian, as well as astrologer, and with a grave face to say, he speaks of him by the same rules with which he would treat Homer or Plato, is to place him in company where he cannot expect to make a figure; and makes him flat

*“I own th' indulgence-Such I give and take."


ter himself, that it is only being named with them which renders him most ridiculous.

“ I have not known, and I am now past my grand climacteric, being sixty-four years of age, according to my way of life; or rather, if you will allow punning in an old gentleman, according to my way of pastime; I say, as old as I am I have not been acquainted with many of the Greenhats. There is indeed one Zedekiah Greenhat, who is lucky also in this way. He has a very agreeable manner; for when he has a mind thoroughly to correct a man, he never takes from him any thing, but he allows him something for it; or else he blames him for things wherein he is not defective, as well as for matters wherein he is. This makes a weak man believe he is in jest in the whole. The other day he told Beau Brim, who is thought impotent, that his mistress had declared she would not have him, because he was a sloven, and had committed a rape. The beau bit at the banter, and said very gravely, 'he thought to be clean was as much as was necessary; and that as to the rape, he wondered by what witchcraft that should come to her ears; but it had indeed cost him an hundred pounds, to hush the affair.'

“The Greenhats are a family with small voices and short arms, therefore they have power with none but their friends: they never call after those who run away from them, or pretend to take hold of you if you resist. But it has been remarkable, that all who have shunned their company, or not listened to them, have fallen into the hands of such as have knocked out their brains, or broken their bones. I have looked over our pedigree upon the receipt of this epistle, and find the Greenhats are akin to the Staffs. They descend from

Maudlin, the left-handed wife of Nehemiah Bickerstaff, in the reign of Harry the Second. And it is remarkable, that they are all left-handed, and have always been very expert at single rapier. A man must be much used to their play to know how to defend himself, for their posture is so different from that of the right-handed, that you run upon their swords if you push forward ; and they are in with you, if you offer to fall back without keeping your guard.”--Tatler, No. 59.


SATURDAY, SEPT. 10, 1709.


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It must be allowed, that Esquire Bickerstaff is of all others the most ingenuous. There are few, very few, that will own themselves in a mistake, though all the world see them to be in down-right nonsense. You will be pleased, sir, to pardon this expression, for the same reason for which you once desired us to excuse you, when you seemed any thing dull. Most writers, like the generality of Paul Lorraine's* saints, seem to place a peculiar

* Paul Lorraine was the ordinary of Newgate.


vanity in dying hard. But you, sir, to shew a good example to your brethren, have not only confessed, but of your own accord mended the indictment. Nay, you have been so good-natured as to discover beauties in it, which, I will assure you,

he that drew it never dreamed of. And, to make your civility the more accomplished, you have honoured him with the title of your kinsman, which, though derived by the left hand, he is not a little proud of. My brother, for such Obadiah is, being at present very busy about nothing, has ordered me to return you his sincere thanks for all these favours; and as a small token of his gratitude, to communicate to you the following piece of intelligence, which, he thinks, belongs more properly to you, than to any others of our modern historians.

Madonella,* who, as it was thought, had long since taken her flight towards the ætherial mansions, still walks, it seems, in the regions of mor. tality; where she has found, by deep reflections on the revolution mentioned in yours of June the twenty-third, that where early instructions have been wanting to imprint true ideas of things on the tender souls of those of her sex, they are never after able to arrive at such a pitch of perfection, as to be above the laws of matter and motion; laws which are considerably enforced by the principles usually imbibed in nurseries and boarding-schools. To remedy this evil, she has laid the scheme of a college for young damsels : where (instead of scissars, needles, and samplers) pens, compasses, quadrants, books, manuscripts, Greek,

* The subsequent passage alludes to Mrs Astell's proposal for establishing a seminary for the education of young ladies.

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