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N°225. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16,1710.
Si quid novisti rectius istis,
HOR. 1 Ep. VI. 67.
From my own Apartment, September 15. The hours which we spend in conversation are the most pleasing of any which we enjoy ; yet, methinks, there is very little care taken to improve ourselves for the frequent repetition of them. The common fault in this case is that of growing too intimate,' and falling into displeasing familiarities : for it is a very ordinary thing for men to make no other use of a close acquaintance with each other's affairs, but to teaze one another with unacceptable allusions. One would pass over patiently such as converse like animals, and salute each other with bangs on the shoulder, sly raps with canes, or other robust pleasantries practised by the rural gentry of this nation : but even among those who should have more polite ideas of things, you see a set of people who invert the design of conversation, and make frequent mention of ungrateful subjects; nay, mention them because they are ungrateful; as if the perfection of society were in knowing how to offend on the one part, and how to bear an offence on the other. In all parts of this populous town, you find the merry world made up of an active and a passive companion ; one who has good-nature enough to suffer all his friend shall think fit to say, and one who is resolved to make the most of his goodhamour to sho v bis parts In the trading part of mankind, I have ever observed the jest went by the weight of purses, and the ridicule is made up by the gains which arise from it. Thus the packer allows the clothier to say what he pleases; and the broker has his countenance ready to laugh with the merchant, though the abuse is to fall on himself, because he knows that, as a go-between, he shall find his account in being in the good graces of a man of wealth. Among these just and punctual people the richest man is ever the better jester; and they know no such thing as a person who shall pretend to a superior laugh at a man, who does not make him amends by opportunities of advantage in another kind: but among people of a different way, where the pretended distinction in company is only what is raised from sense and understanding, it is very
absúrd to carry on a rough raillery so far, as that the whole discourse should turn upon each other's intirmities, follies, or misfortunes.
I was this evening with a set of wags of this class. They appear generally by two and two; and what is most extraordinary, is, that those very persons who are most together appear least of a mind when joined by other company. This evil proceeds from an indiscreet familiarity, whereby a nan is allowed to say the inost grating thing imaginable to another, and it shall be accounted weakness to show an im: patience for the unkindness. But this ard all other deviations from the design of pleasing each other when we meet, re derived from interlopers in society; who want capacity to put in a stock among regular companions, and therefore supply their wants
by stale histories, sly observations, and rude hints, which relate to the conduct of others. All cohabitants in general run into this uvhappy fault; men and their wives break into reflections, which are like so much Arabic to the rest of the company ; sisters and brothers often make the like figure, from the same unjust sense of the art of being intimate and familiar. It is ofien said, such a one cannot stand the mention of such a circumstance; if he cannot, I am sure it is for want of discourse,
worse reason, that any companion of his touches upon it.
Familiarity, among the truly well-bred, never gives authority to trespass upon one ano her in the most minute circumstance; but it allows to be kinder than we ought otherwise to presume to be. Eusebius has wit, humour, and spirit; but there never was a man in his company who wished he had less ; for he understands familiarity so well, that he knows how to make use of it in a way, that. neither makes himself or his friend contemptible; but if any one is lessened by his freedom, it is he himself, who always likes the place, the diet, and the reception, when he is in the company of his friends. Equality is the life of conversation ; aud he is as much out who assumes to himself any part above another, as he who considers himself below the rest of the society. Familiarity in inferiors is sauciness; in superiors, condescension ; neither of which are to have being among companions, the very word implying that they are to be equal. When, therefore, we have abstracted the company from all considerations of their quality or fortune, it will immediately appear, that to make it happy and polite, there must nothing be started which shall discover, that our thoughts run upon any such distinctions. Hence it will arise, that benevolence VOL, Y.
must become the rule of society, and he that is most obliging must be most diverting.
This way of talking I am fallen into from the reflection that I am, wherever I go, entertained with some absurdity, mistake, weakness, or ill-luck of some man or other, whom not only I, but the person who makes me those relations, has a value for. It would therefore be a great benefit to the world, if it could be brought to pass, that no story should be a taking one, but what was to the advantage of the person of whom it is related. By this means, he that is now a wit in conversation, would be considered as a spreader of false news is in business.
But above all, to make a familiar fit for a bosom friend, it is absolutely necessary that we should always be inclined rather to hide, than rally each others infirmities. To suffer for a fault is a sort of atonement; and no body is concerned for the offence for which he has made reparation.
P.S. I have received the following letter, which rallies me for being witty sooner than I designed ; but I have now altered my resolution, and intend to be facetious until the day in October heretofore mentioned, instead of beginning from that day.
6. MR. BICKERSTAFF, Sept. 6, 1710. “ By your own reckoning, you came yesterday about a month before the time you looked yourself, much to the satisfaction of Your most obliged, humble servant,
PLAIN ENGLISH." St. James's Coffee-house, September 15. Advices from Madrid of the eighth say, the duke of Anjou, with his court, and all the councils, were preparing to leave that place in a day or two, in order to remove to Valladolid. They add, that the palace was already unfurnished.
N° 226. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19,1710.
Juvenis quondam, nunc femina, Caneus,
VIRG. Æn. VI. 448.
From my own Apartment, September 18. It is one of the designs of this paper to transmit to posterity an account of every thing that is monstrous in my own times. For this reason, I shall here publish to the world the life of a person who was neither man nor woman; as written by one of my ingenious correspondents, who seems to have imitated Plutarch in that multifarious erudition, and those occasional dissertations, which he has wrought into the body of his history. The life I am putting out is that of Margery, alias John Young, commonly known by the name of Doctor Young; who, as the town very well knows, was a woman that practised physic in a man's cloaths, and, after having had two wives and several children, died about a month since.
“ I here make bold to trouble you with a short account of the famous Doctor Young's life, which you may call, if you please, a second part of the farce of the Sham Doctor. This perhaps will not .seem so strange to you, who, if I am not mistaken, have somewhere mentioned with honour your sister