L O I T E R E R.
"Speak of us as we are."
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR;
AND SOLD BY
C. S. RANN, OXFORD.
L O I T E R E R.
SATURDAY, February 7, 1789 31, 1789.
Quippe Domum timet ambiguam, Tyriosque biligues.
Language has been commonly defined by Grammarians to be the Art of expressing our ideas. Nor was the definition a bad one, during those times when our rude ancestors were sufficiently uninformed in the Ars Rhetorica, to speak always what they really thought. But since we have wisely banished that absurd custom, I should humbly presume that the aforesaid definition might also be altered, and that from henceforward Language be entitled the Art of concealing our Ideas; and I will venture to assert it is used infinitely oftener for the latter purpose than the former, by all ranks and ages, and at all times and in all places. So totally indeed is a regard to veracity excluded from the system of modern ethics, that were it not for diseases, duns, and wives, who sometimes tell one disagreeable truths, one would imagine that Truth as well as Justice had left this degenerate world at the expiration of the Golden Age. And that I may not take an unfair advantage, I shall say nothing of the numerous tribes, whose situation authorizes and in some measure obliges them to a continual breach of veracity; (such as foreign ministers, ladies; maids, lawyers, an physicians; to which list I may also add lovers and their mistresses, who can claim so many precedents in favour of this practice, that they may be said to lie by prescriptive right) and only consider how little attention we all of us pay to truth in the common intercourse of life.
When my friend Jack Saunter enters my room on a fine day, and catches me with my hat in my hand, and one glove on, just ready to enjoy my morning's walk; he would have a strange opinion of my politeness, did I not meet him with a smile, entreat him to sit down, and express myself so wonderfully happy in his company, that one would imagine I thought myself obliged to him for depriving me of my favourite amusement; and my old acquaintance Capt. Prolix would think me a brute did I not express myself highly delighted with the account of the battle of Bunker's Hill, though he well knows I have not heard it on the most moderate computation less than two hundred times – Nay, even my old paralytic uncle at 96, would take it very ill if I did not seem exceedingly alarmed whenever he coughs, though he knows I am to inherit all his fortune, and that he has plagued our whole family these twenty years upon the strength of it! Nay, so utter an aversion have we to Truth, that, not satisfied with breaking her laws ourselves, we daily instruct and oblige our servants to do the same; and, if we can afford such a piece of luxury, even hire a stout fellow to stand at our door and lie by the year. Nor has poor Truth been much better treated in books than in conversation; since, not to mention Poets, who have always claimed exemption from her rules; even paid scribblers of prose pay so little regard to her laws, that they commonly bid her boldly defiance in the very preface, scarce any of these ingenious gentlemen forgetting to assure us, that he was not induced to publish his work by love of fame or money, and had no other object in submitting his performance to the Public than a desire of instruction and amending his fellow creatures; and this often too, when the first six pages of his work give the lie to his assertion. But, of all publications, none are perhaps so deficient in an adherence to truth, as those well known Compositions which are daily served up with their tea to the inhabitants of this country, and which (perhaps for that very reason) are more studied by all orders of men than any other work of genius whatever. I need not after this add, that I allude to those numerous miscellanies which under the titles of Gazetteer, Heralds, Chronicles, and Advertisers, make their appearance to gratify the curiosity, and encrease the knowledge of all those whose circumstances are not too narrow to allow them so innocent and cheap a mode of gaining information; and in many of which, it may fairly be said that there are not four exact truths in the whole four pages.
Many of my readers have possibly perused the works of Madame Genlis, and may remember a little tale entitled Le Palais de Verité, a place endowed by its tutelary Genius with so singular a power, that all who entered its walls were obliged to speak their real thoughts without being themselves sensible that they did so; and the difference between what they say, and what they intended to say, forms some very laughable scenes. I have often wished a few copies of a modern Gazette could be struck off within the precincts of this Palace, but as that is impossible, I shall present my readers with an imaginary one, drawn on the above mentioned plan, and will appeal to their impartial judgement to determine whether it is not full as entertaining as the Herald, the World, and the Star.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Monday. – The House met this day at four, and the Minister, according to his promise of last week rose to open the Budget. He informed the House, that he very much disliked the subject of Finance at all times, but that it was particularly disagreeable to him at present, as the expenditure of the last year had exceeded the revenue by some hundred thousand pounds, and would do so next year in a much greater degree, owing partly to the inefficacy of some late taxes, but chiefly to the enormous pensions he was obliged to grant to his friends; a circumstance, he observed, well known to many in that House: that as he had not the smallest regard for his country, her present situation gave him no uneasiness; and he was therefore resolved to lay on no new taxes which might draw odium on his administration, foreseeing that he should be well able to stand three or four years longer, at which time he purposed accepting of a Peerage, and enjoying, the remainder of his life, the fortune he had so honestly acquired at the beginning of it. He then read over a number of papers to prove his assertions, and concluded his speech with saying, that he cared not a straw what the Opposition bench could say, as he had taken care to secure a majority. He was answered by Mr. ––, who began by assuring the House, that he had no more regard for his country than the Minister himself; no one who knew him could suppose he had. He told them, that he was equally sensible that a proper majority was secured by the friends of Government; and that as for the calculations contained in the honourable Gentleman's speech, he knew not whether they were true, or false, as he had not listened to one single syllable which had fallen from the honourable Gentleman– being entirely taken up in considering what answer he should make, as he well knew it was expected he should say something; but as he wished the House to suppose he knew more of the matter than he really did, he should move, that certain papers and estimates be laid before them; that he well knew the intelligence contained in them was not worth sixpence, but that at worst, if granted, the perusal of them would save time, and clog the measures of Government; and if denied, would throw some odium on the Minister and his friends.
Sir John –– then rose to defend the measures of Administration. He was not, he said, perfectly clear what the Minister's intentions were, but that, in his heart, he believed them to be very bad; that he himself had a large family, and a small fortune, and should think himself a bad father, if he did not vote for a man, who had already given him so much, and from whom he expected yet more; that he should give him his hearty assistance at present, and would continue to do so as long as there was no chance of his being turned out; on which case he meant to make peace with the other side as well as he could. As soon as the warm plaudits which followed this speech were a little subsided, Mr. ––, a young member, got up, and with great modesty, asked pardon of the House, for presuming to give his opinion on subjects which men so much his superiors in age could not agree on; and added, that nothing but a consciousness of his own superior abilities, information, and eloquence, could have prevented him from remaining silent; that in consequence of this superiority, he must bespeak the attention of the House for about five or six hours, whilst he slightly reviewed the transactions of the present Administration, from their first assuming the reins of Government to the present day; which he protested he had not been more than two months in drawing up. He then began a long and circumstantial detail of the follies and blunders of the M–– and his friends; but perceiving, at the end of four hours, that one half of the House was gone to dinner, and the other were inclined to sleep, he told them, that though he had much more to say, yet, as they were so d––d tasteless, as not to enjoy his rhetoric as it deserved, he should treat them with no more of it at present.
Upon which, the Speaker having stretched himself in his chair, the question was put, and carried, –and the House adjourned.
Paris, May —. This day his Majesty was pleased to make the following most gracious reply to the humble petition of his Parliament.
"I am perfectly satisfied of the justice of your remonstrance. I shall nevertheless persevere in my measures. I am determined to make you, and all France, know I will be master—for I hate to be a tyrant by halves. —Car tel est notre Plaisir."
Yesterday the church wardens and parish officers of the parish of —— dined at the London Tavern, in order to consider the distressed state of the Poor in the said parish; and after mature deliberation, came to a resolution, That their next meeting should be at the Turk's Head—the Port at the former house being thick, and the claret very ill flavoured.
On Monday last came on the election of a member for the borough of Guzzledown, when the numbers on the poll were,
For Mr. M. –– 2000L. 18s. 2d.
For Mr. Sir John S. ––1900L. 4s. 0d.
Mr. M. was of course declared duly elected; but we understand Sir John's friends demand a scrutiny, under pretence that several of Mr. M.'s guineas were light.
Any gentleman having a sum not less than two, or more than four thousand pounds, to dispose of, may have a most eligible opportunity of gaining at least 25 per cent, by placing it in the hands of the advertisers, who are the proprietors of a large and lucrative Patent manufacture. ——The utmost honour and secrecy.
N,B. It is recommended to any person whom this may suit, to be quick in their applications, as the Advertisers must certainly become Bankrupts in a week if they do not get the money.
Wanted––A Curacy in a good sporting country, near a pack of fox–hounds, and in a sociable neighbourhood; it must have a good house and stables, and a few acres of meadow ground would be very agreeable––To prevent trouble, the stipend must not be less than 80 L.––The Advertiser has no objection to undertaking three, four, or five Churches of a Sunday, but will not engage where there is any weekly duty. Whoever has such a one to dispose of, may suit themselves by sending a line, directed A.B. to be left at the Turf Coffee House, or the gentleman may be spoken with, any Tuesday morning at Tatterfall's Betting Room.
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