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, August 8, 1789.
To the LOITERER.
SIR,THERE is nothing, which betrays a little mind so much, as to offer indignities to any creature, which is not able to resent them. To acquaint you, Mr. Loiterer, that I am one of those unfortunate beings, who in spite of their utility and importance are insulted without the power of defending themselves, will, I know, be sufficient to excite your compassion, and ensure your protection: but in addition to this I must inform you, that periodical Writers have at all times held open an asylum for complaints of this nature; and your Predecessor, the World especially, has in a very good-natured and Gentleman-like manner undertaken the defence of the injured, but helpless Post. Induced by these reasons, I have ventured to stand up for the cause of the as much injured fraternity of Wigs; and though I have no doubt, but that on the smailest hint, you would have protected them in as good-natured and Gentleman-like a manner, as possible; yet being myself a Wig, it occurred to me that I might perhaps not only engage in this attempt with more zeal and spirit, but have also better information on the subject.
As Antiquity is frequently of the highest importance in conciliating the favour of Mankind, I have endeavoured to discover at what time we were first introduced into the World, and to trace back our family to the exact period of its birth, But all my researches have hitherto been ineffectual; and, indeed, however amusing speculations of this nature may be, they are, like many other speculations, very useless; for after all our enquiries into the Antiquity of Wigs, it must be allowed that the fashion of wearing one ‘s own hair is much more ancient. And therefore, without saying any thing more on this subject, I shall proceed to relate the benefits which we confer, and the honours to which we are entitled.
You must yourself, Mr. Loiterer, be daily sensible how much we conduce to the honour of Religion, and preservation of Mankind, by conferring Dignity on the Heads of the Church, and Importance on the followers of Galen; who would, convinced, frequently find it no easy task to recommend the efficacy of a prescription unless assisted by our Full-Bottoms. — But the Law, Sir, the Law is the line, in which we make the greatest figure, and possess the most weighty and extensive influence; the truth of which is so universally known, that to insist farther on it would be superfluous.
In the “Golden days of good King Charles,” We may be justly considered as at the height of our glory; and the repute, in which we were then held, sufficiently declares our importance: Indeed we have ever been favourites at Court; for not to mention the Whig interest, which has always been considerable, our attachment to the Crown can never admit of a doubt: and I have heard it observed by an ingenious Wig of my acquaintance, that there is at this moment a great resemblance between ourselves and Courtiers. Like them, we are obliged to vary our appearance, according to the Caprice of our Master; like them, we are dismissed, when worn out with service; and I am sorry to add, we are, no less than Courtiers, to be bought and sold.
It was my intention to have here introduced a panegyric on the female part of our species; but as you, Mr. Loiterer, have given us a kind of promise, that you will dedicate some future paper to the “Transparent Tete,” I will not take the pen out of so able a hand; but only assure you, that I expect this promised Disquisition with the greatest impatience.
I could now enter into a discussion of the great superiority which we possess over Heads of Hair with respect to convenience, beauty, &c. but it is unnecessary to descend to such minute particulars, as they are so accurately recounted in the bills and advertisements of our makers; and proceed to acquaint you with the indignities, of which I complain.
And in the first place, the ignominious and reproachful Nick-Names, with which we are branded, are particularly odious: to enumerate which will sufficiently convince you of the Justice of this complaint. A Cauli-Flower, a Chizel, a Tyburn Top, a Scratch, a Cackson, and a Greasy, are frequently substituted for the more honourable appellations of a Peri-Wig, a Bob-Wig, a Tye-Wig and a Full-Bottom-Wig.
The contempt, which is universally bestowed on us is the next article of which I complain: and to exemplif’ this in a material point; if a description of what the World calls a Quiz is to be given; the first qualification towards forming an object of the extremest ridicule is an Old Wig: and here, Mr. Loiterer, I cannot omit this opportunity of vindicating a cruel reflection, which seems to be intimated under the expression of an Old Wig, viz, that some of my brethren are always in an advanced state of life; but believe me, Sir, when I vouch on the word of a Gentleman, that there was never yet a Wig, which was not once New.
But of all our grievances, personal insult is the greatest; as when we are kicked through the streets by some wanton boys, or, in order to smoke an old fellow, are rolled into a kennel: which latter service I have myself twice undergone, to the no small detriment of my Curls. Besides all which, if it should so happen (as it frequently does) that our Owner should get a little drop too much, we are not uncommonly put on with the wrong part before, or even inside out, and are thus exposed as a public spectacle to the humour of the Mob. I am afraid, Mr. Loiterer, I have already detained you too long; but it is a just remark, that when we are once entered on the subject of our complaints, we know not where to leave off. Be so kind as to take what I have said into consideration, and believe me,
To the LOITERER.
SIR,MY friend B. received his education at a public School; and though not remarkable for any brilliancy of parts, was always considered as a sensible Fellow. With this reputation he came to the University; and though too volatile for much attention, and too fond of amusement for much application, still continued to preserve it there. He had an extensive acquaintance, and was universally courted as an agreeable Companion, and (in the common receipt of the word) a good-natured Man. Such was B —: when an invitation from some friends abroad requested the company of his Sister to pass the winter with them in the South of France. Unfortunately B — undertook to conduct her on her road as far as Amiens; where meeting with their friends, he made a little excursion by himself, and returned to England after a fortnight’s absence.
But from this time, Sir, he is altered in the most singular and unaccountable manner. Instead of being the agreeable companion which he formerly was; he assumes a haughty and supercilious behaviour towards all those, who have not like himself travelled; and arrogantly pretends to direct the opinions of the company by informing them how things were, when he was abroad; a sentence, which like the delenda est Carthago of Cato the Censor, he takes particular care to introduce on every occasion. Thus, Sir, by a ridiculous affectation he is become the laughing-stock of his acquaintance, and thinking himself superior to them, because he has seen the world, forfeits at once all claim to the character of a good-natured or sensible Man.
I have troubled you with this letter, Mr. Loiterer, hoping that you will be kind enough to insert it in your work; that B — may by that means become sensible of the folly of his conduct, and endeavour to correct it before it is too late. Tell him that Vanity, even with a cause, is ridiculous, without one, impertinent: inform him that crossing the Channel is not travelling, or a fortnight’s residence in France seeing the world.
I am, Yours,
I have readily complied with my Correspondent’s request in publishing his letter; and sincerely hope that it may have the desired effect: but in the mean time I shall beg leave to offer a few observations on the subject.
However singular and unaccountable he may think the behaviour of his friend, let him for a few moments look round the world; and he will there find numerous examples of the same singular and unaccountable conduct. Many are continually intruding themselves into company with as little regard to propriety, as B — does his pompous account of travelling; and not content with this, are every instant thrusting before our eyes a row of white teeth, or a ring set with brilliants. Many are continually launching out into affected, and uninteresting Egotisms. One, that we may admire this talents for wit, presents us with the daily repetition of a good thing, which he said when a boy: and another, to convince us of his taste for literature, fatigues us with an endless procession of quotations from his FAVOURITE Author.
Every one desires to be thought of importance, and thus endeavours to shew off to advantage any superiority, either real, or imaginary, which he may possess over others. But as Vanity is the most universal, so is it the most dangerous passion; by blinding the judgement, it frequently counteracts its own designs; and aiming at pre-eminence and superiority, not uncommonly incurs ridicule and contempt. A Painter, whose only excellence consisted in representing a Black’s Head, and a Mahogany Table, received orders to paint an Andromeda chained to the Rock. It would baffle the invention of many Artists to contrive a method of introducing these figures on such a subject; but the Genius of this second Apelles was not to be confined by small difficulties, or his favourite pieces rejected through trifling improprieties. After some deliberation, therefore, he hit on the following method. Andromeda was represented with one arm chained to the rock, with the other reclining on a mahogany table; and as he thought that his Employer might possibly object to the introduction to a black Perseus, he ingeniously clapped a Negro’s head on the shoulders of the Sea-Monster.
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