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;
Messr. EGERTONS, Whitehall, LONDON; Messrs. PEARSON
And ROLLASON, BIRMINGHAM; Mr. W. MEYLER, Grove,
BATH; AND Messrs. COWSLADE and SMART, READING.
L O I T E R E R.
SATURDAY, June 27, 1789.
Quicquid agunt Homines nostri Farrago Libelli. “RAINE’S H0SPITAL.” * * *
WHEN I am meditating in my elbow Chair and feel myself in want of a Subject for these my weekly Essays, I generally put on my Hat; and
whether I take a solitary walk in the Fields, or mix in the cheerful Haunts of Men, I seldom return without starting a Thought or springing
a Character which answers my purpose. If the Day is genial and warm I may often be found moralizing in Christ-Church Meadow, in the manner
of the ancient peripatetic Philosophers; or loitering on a bench in Magdalenwalk. But when the Wind is cold, bleak, and easterly, I
keep close to my apartment, and generally take a double Dose of Mr. Philpot’s Panacea: but even this sovereign soothing Elixir, will
sometimes fail to diffuse a genial Warmth, unless joined to the Charms of Company and Conversation. When the Demon Ennui is suffered
to take possession of the Mind, in vain will the Tongue attempt the sprightly Sally, or the Pen the well turned Period. To rescue myself
from the Clutches of this obtrusive Demon, I found it necessary, the other day, to adjourn from my elbow Chair to a favourite Corner at
King’s Coffee-Room; where I arrived in proper time to hear the important Debates upon the late decisive Victory gained by Mendoza. Every
Blow, whether —fair or foul, stopped or returned, was criticised and explained with due Emphasis and Inflection of Body; and
had I given my Attention wholly to the Conversation, I might have returned to my Apartment a tolerable Proficient in pugilistic Science. But
my Readers will easily believe, that such discussions, which are rapidly stamping a Character of savage Barbarity upon the Nation, could
have no Charms for the Loiterer. I was, indeed, in danger of returning to my elbow Chair, without having caught a single Hint, that I could
work up to the advantage of my Readers. But as it sometimes happens in the common occurrences of Life, that we shall suddenly make a
considerable progress in our affairs, when we least expect it; so it fell out with me upon this occasion: For a Circumstance occurred, which
gave a sudden turn to my Thoughts, and which, I flatter myself, will add to the brilliancy of some of my future Lucubrations. I had not sat
long, before I felt myself wholly occupied in observing a very reverend and respectable Gentleman, who appeared to be a total Stranger to
every Person in the room, and, like myself, rather absorbed and engaged with the Dignity of his own Thoughts, than with the noise and
clamour around him, or even with the news-paper which he held in his hand. I have since learned, that this Gentleman who attracted so much
of my notice, is the worthy Father of an excellent young Man in this University. There was a certain unaffected Dignity about him, which
riveted my Attention: And just as the favourite Topic began to subside, and the Company had universally determined that the Papers did not
contain another Syllable worthy of notice, he suddenly put up his Spectacles, and calling to pay for his Coffee, apparently finished reading
the following Words, at the same time drawing in his Breath in a manner which conveyed the Idea of Astonishment or Surprise, “upwards of
forty thousand Persons of both Sexes,” “Good God (said he) what a state must the Cities of London and Westminster be in!” Whether
something of reciprocal Regard had taken place betwixt us, or whether my Appearance had made the same favourable Impression on him which his
had most undoubtedly done on me, I know not; but as he paid for his Coffee and retired, he put the Paper into my hand.
There was now a general Buzz through the room; and as each Individual, imagining that some very singular Paragraph had escaped his notice, seemed to wait for my Opinion, I began very deliberately to scrutinise every Line in the Paper, confident that I should discover something, that would account for what appeared to us all so very mysterious. Whilst I was thus engaged, one of the Company, a thin emaciated young Fellow, with a sallow and diseased Countenance; and who, I now have reason to believe, was himself one of the “forty thousand,” stepped forward and elucidated the Mystery in a moment, by rapping out an Oath, and swearing that the Old Prig had been meditating on the Advertisement of “Leake’s justly famous Pill.” — It was even so, for those very words appeared in the centre of that Advertisement, which created much Mirth and many very ridiculous Jokes amongst the youthful part of the Company. As for myself, I immediately paid for my Coffee, and following the Stranger, pronounced aloud, what I am certain he had just smothered in his Breast, 0 Tempora! 0 Mores!
I had now obtained what I came in search of, a Hint for the Loiterer; and retiring again to my own Apartment, I determined to take a retrospective View of the Advertisements in a variety of Newspapers, which are mostly passed over and totally disregarded by literary Men; notwithstanding they perhaps afford the best Criteria of the Manners, and Taste, and the character of the Age. Here I discovered how well founded was the Assertion in my l3 Paper, “that Learning to a certain degree was never so generally diffused as at the present period.” I intend, very soon, to draw up Proposals for printing by subscription a Methodical Arrangement of this flourishing and useful Science, by which I am confident more Fortunes have been made, than by all the Sciences which are taught in the two Universities. At present I shall pass over the various wants of Mankind, together with the pompous Descriptions, the florid luxuriant Language of Auctioneers, which is capable of converting a paltry Cottage into an elegant Villa. Nor shall I dwell on a curious Phenomenon, a poetical Advertisement for the Sale of Perfumery and the Dressing of Hair. But it is impossible with the same indifference to pass over the ingenious Mr. —, who sells his Wines “for the ∏οδας ωχυς of ready Money only, Wines in which neither the eyes of Argus, nor the Taste of Epicurus, can discover the least sophistication.” — One Advertisement informs us, that Chimney-pieces, another that Candlesticks, are “fashioned according to architectonic Models, and agreeable to the affecting Chastity of the Antique.” — a Third lets us know how much we are obliged to the Legislature, “that he is now enabled to offer Pomatum to the public agreeable to the commercial Treaty.” But the Chinons a la Figaro altogether exceed my comprehension, and I believe I shall shortly take a Journey to London, on purpose to render myself completely Master of them, and to procure a few specimens of the Transparent Tête, which I barely mention now, but which will afford interesting Matter for future Investigation, — What Lady, “who excites admiration on account of the superior Charms that animate her complexion,” can withstand an Advertisement of the Palmyrene Soap? — Every systematical old Fellow that wishes to know the exact number of yards which he walks in a day, will certainly furnish himself with “the Pedometer, or Waywiser.” — And I make no manner of doubt but that all the Gentlemen Sportsmen of this University will find it impossible to resist the persuasive nonsense and absurdity of “Guns matchless for shooting; or twisted barrels, bored on an improved plan, that will always maintain their true velocity, and not let the Birds fly away qfter being shot, as they generally do with Guns not properly bored; this method of boring Guns will enable every Shooter to kill his Bird, as they are sure of their mark at ninety yards; he bores any sound Barrel for Two Guineas, and makes them much stronger than before.” If we take this Fellow’s own word we must allow him, without a pun, to be the greatest Borer in the kingdom.
My Readers can have no idea of the multifarious Amusement, which a Course of Reading of this kind will afford. They will find the utile, the dulce, the Turpe, all blended together into a curious Medley. In a corner of the same Paper, which contains the strenuous exertions of the Supporters of the Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, of Sir Joseph Andrews, Dr. Hawes, and the Humane Society, for the comfort and preservation of mankind — the diabolical Assassin of the human species in Embrio, to the eternal disgrace of the Police of Great Britain, is permitted to hold out an infamous temptation to the basest of Murders: At the same time professing, that the strictest delicacy, honour, and secrecy, will upon every occasion be observed.
But that I may not leave my Readers with so horrid an Idea dwelling on their minds, I will conclude, by observing, that however profligate the present Age may appear to the “Laudators temporis acti,” there is scarcely a common News-paper, but what will inform us, that the true Spirit of Charity, both public and private, was never carried to so high a pitch as at this present time; nor in any country in a manner, that can in the most distant degree bear a comparison with our own. The multiplicity of charitable Institutions renders it unnecessary to appeal to any particular instance for the support of this Assertion. There is one, however, which in the course of this speculation, I have stumbled upon, which does so much honour to human Nature, and which is so little known, and deserves so well to be transmitted to posterity in a better Vehicle than a common News-paper, that I trust my Readers will not only excuse but thank me for copying the Advertisement entire.
“Notice is hereby given for the young Women, who have been educated in Mr. Raine’s Hospital, to attend with Certificates, from the several
Places wherein they have lived, of their good Behaviour during their Servitudes, and continuing unmarried, which are to be produced at the
monthly meeting of the Governors and Trustees thereof, on Tuesday the 7th of April next, at ten in the forenoon, that Six of them may be
selected to draw Lots on the First of May next, for the Prize of 100 l. as a Marriage Portion, pursuant to the Will of the Founder.”
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