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No. 60. SATURDAY, AUGUST 27, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines —
- nostri est farrago libelli.
JUV. SAT. i. 85, 86.
Whate'er men do, or say, or think, or dream,
WHITE'S CHOCOLATE-HOUSE, AUGUST 26. To proceed regularly in the history of my worthies, I ought to give you an account of what has passed from day to day in this place; but a young fellow of my accquaintance has so lately been rescued out of the hands of the Knights of the Industry, that I rather choose to relate the manner of his escape from them, and the uncommon way which was used to reclaim him, than to go on in my intended diary.
You are to know then, that Tom Wildair is a student of the Inner Temple, and has spent his time, since he left the university for that place, in the common diversions of men of fashion; that is to say in whoring, drinking, and gaming. The two former vices he had from his father; but was led into the last by the conversation of a partisan of the Myrmidons who had chambers near him. His allowance from his father was a very plentiful one for a man of sense, but as scanty for a modern fine gentleman. His frequent losses had reduced him to so necessitous a condition, that his lodgings were always haunted by impatient creditors; and all his thoughts employed in contriving low methods to support himself in a way of life from which he knew not how to retreat, and in which he wanted means to proceed. There is never wanting some goodnatured person to send a man an account of what he has no mind to hear; therefore many epistles were conveyed to the father of this extravagant, to inform him of the company, the pleasures, the distresses, and entertainments, in which his son passed his time. The old fellow received these advices with all the pain of a parent, but frequently consulted his pillow, to know how to behave himself on such important occasions, as the welfare of his son, and the safety of his fortune. After many agitations of mind, he reflected, that necessity was the usual snare which made men fall into meanness, and that a liberal fortune generally made a liberal and honest mind; he resolved therefore to save him from his ruin, by giving him opportunities of tasting what it is to be at ease, and inclosed to him the following order upon Sir Tristram Cash.
“Pray pay to Mr. Thomas Wildair, or order, the sum of one thousand pounds, and place it to the account of yours,
“ HUMPHRY WILDAIR.”
Tom was so astonished at the receipt of this order, that though he knew it to be his father's hand, and that he had always large sums at Sir Tristram's; yet a thousand pounds was a trust of which his conduct had always made him appear so little capable, that he kept his note by him, till he writ to his father the following letter :
“ HONOURED FATHER, I have received an order under your hand for a thousand pounds, in words at length; and I think I could swear it is your hand. I have looked it over and over twenty thousand times. There is in plain letters, T,1,0,u,s,a,n,d ; and after it, the letters P,0,0,n,d,s. I have it still by me, and shall, I believe, continue reading it till I hear from you.”
The old gentleman took no manner of notice of the receipt of his letter; but sent him another order for three thousand pounds more. His amazement on this second letter was unspeakable. He immediately double-locked his door, and sat down carefully to reading and comparing both his orders. After he had read them till he was half mad, he walked six or seven turns in his chamber, then opens his door, then locks it again; and to examine thoroughly this matter, he locks his door again, puts his table and chairs against it; then goes into his closet, and, locking himself in, read his notes over again about nineteen times, which did but increase his astonishment. Soon after, he began to recollect many stories he had formerly heard of persons, who had been possessed with imaginations and appearances which had no foundation in nature, but had been taken with sudden madness in the midst of a seeming clear and untainted reason. This made him very gravely conclude he was out of his wits ; and, with a design to compose himself, he immediately betakes him to his nightcap, with a resolution to sleep himself into his former poverty and senses. To bed therefore he goes at noon-day: but soon rose again, and resolved to visit Sir Tristram upon this occasion. He did so, and dined with the knight, expecting he would mention some advise from his
father about paying him money; but no such thing being said, “Look you, Sir Tristram,' said he, ‘you are to know that an affair has happened, which • Look you, says Tristram, ' I know, Mr. Wildair, you are going to desire me to advance; but the late call of the bank, where I have not yet made my last payment, has obliged me'-Tom interrupted him, by showing him the bill of a thousand pounds. When he had looked at it for a convenient time, and as often surveyed Tom's looks and countenance ; 'Look you Mr. Wildair, a thousand pounds'-Before he could proceed, he shows him the order for three thousand more-Sir Tristram examined the orders at the light, and finding at the writing the name, there was a certain stroke in one letter which the father and he had agreed should be to such directions as he desired might be more immediately honoured, he forthwith pays the money. session of four thousand pounds gave my young gentleman a new train of thoughts: he began to reflect upon his birth, the great expectations he was born to, and the unsuitable ways he had long pursued. Instead of that unthinking creature he was before, he is now provident, generous, and discreet. The father and son have an exact and regular correspondence, with mutual and unreserved confidence in each other. The son looks upon his father as the best tenant he could have in the country, and the father finds the son the most safe banker he could have in the city.
WILL'S COFFEE-HOUSE, AUGUST 26. There is not any thing nature so extravagant, but that you will find one man or other that shall practise or maintain it: otherwise Harry Spondee could not have made so long an harangue as he did here this evening, concerning the force and efficacy of well-applied nonsense. Among ladies, he positively averred, it was the most prevailing part of eloquence : and had so little complaisance as to say, “a woman is never taken by her reason, but always by her passion.' He proceeded to assert,
the way to move that, was only to astonish her. I know, continued he, 'a very late instance of this ; for being by accident in the next room to Strephon, I could not help overhearing him, as he made love to a certain great lady's woman.
The true method in your application to one of this second rank of understanding, is not to elevate and surprise, but rather to elevate and amaze. Strephon is a perfect master in this kind of persuasion : his way is to run over with a soft air a multitude of words, without meaning or connection; but such as do each of them apart give a pleasing idea, though they have nothing to do with each other as he assembles them. After the common phrases of salutation, and making his entry into the room, I perceived he had taken the fair nymph's hand, and kissing it said, “Witness to my happiness, ye groves ! be still ye
rivulets! Oh! woods, caves, fountains, trees, dales, mountains, hills, and streams! Oh! fairest ! could you love me?' To which I overheard her answer, with a very pretty lisp, “Oh! Strephon, you are a dangerous creature: why do you talk these tender things to me? but you men of wit '—Is it then possible,' said the enamoured Strephon, that she regards my sorrows! Oh! pity, thou balmy cure to a heart overloaded ! if rapture, solicitation, soft desire, and pleasing anxiety-But still I live in the most afflicting of all circumstances, doubt-Cannot my charmer name the place and moment?