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;
Mess. EGERTONS, Whitehall, LONDON; Mess. PEARSON
And ROLLASON, BIRMINGHAM; Mr. W. MEYLER, Grove,
BATH; AND Mess. COWSLADE and SMART, READING.
L O I T E R E R.
SATURDAY, November 21, 1789.
“A situation which affords no choice, but choice of Misery.” ——
Cumberland’s Mysterious Husband.
AMONGST those who have devoted their time to the attainment of Literary Excellence, there are a few who have not thought, or pretended to think, that the toil of study was ill-repaid by the lustre of a brilliant reputation, or the complacency of conscious pre-eminence: since they expose us to a thousand dangers, from which Indolence or Mediocrity must remain for ever exempt — to the misrepresentation of the ignorant, the sneer of the envious, and the abuse of the satirical; to the calumny of our enemies and the flattery of our friends. — How far, indeed, the above complaint may be well founded, or whether the complainers would really be glad to exchange situations with those whom they affect to envy, the world has been ill-natured enough to doubt. I flatter myself, however, that my readers will believe me, when I assure them, that I at this moment feel the ill effects of possessing an extensive reputation, or, as an old English Phrase expresses it, having one’s name up; since I am going to lay before them two Letters, which I received last week, and which prove incontestably, that in some cases it is equally dangerous to please as to displease.
To the AUTHOR of the LOITERER.
SIR,I am informed by some of my acquaintance, who have seen your Paper (for I seldom read myself) that you have taken upon you to reform the World, and have in some of your Numbers been very severe on the Coxcombs and Fribbles, with which this age abounds. I commend you for so doing, for they do not deserve to be spared. — But, Sir, I am also informed, that in some others, particularly your you have taken most unwarrantable liberties with a set of men, who are not used to let any indignities offered them go unresented, and have dared to mention the noble Science of Boxing and its honourable Professors in a very improper and indecent manner. Of that number I have the honour to be ranked as one. And (though writing is an exercise of the hand, which I am not much used to) shall undertake to set you right, and shall offer some arguments which I think will induce you to alter your opinion, and henceforth look on the Pugilistic Art in a more respectable light, or at least to speak of it with becoming reverence. — And, indeed, Mr. Loiterer, I must be surprised, that a man of your penetration should never have considered the many advantages which are likely to arise to the British Nation, from the cultivation of this manly and noble Science, whenever our natural enemies the French shall again be in a condition to attack us. Surely, Sir, you must allow, that the undaunted resolution of mind and improved strength of body, which these little playful sparrings with each other, have so much contributed to increase, must give them a decided superiority over their effeminate and puny adversaries. — Thus far is certain, that the brightest eras of our History have been equally distinguished for Battles and Boxing Matches; for beating our Enemies abroad, and threshing our Friends at home. Henry the Vth, who afterwards gave the French so many Cross-Buttocks, first began practicing against one of the Judges in England, and laid in a blow so neatly, that his Lordship, it seems, could neither stop nor return it; a sure presage of his future greatness. — The young Nobility and Gentry, in the golden days of Queen Bess, spent many happy evenings in the elegant amusement of Deer-stealing; in the course of which excursions they had frequent engagements with the Park-keepers: in which, though they did not fight exactly in the present mode, they at least used the Quarter-Staff (a most noble weapon) with a dexterity which must have given them great strength of Hand and Arm, and doubtless Contributed not a little to the victories and the glory of the Maiden Reign. Nay, the Virgin Queen herself appears to have set a very good example to her subjects in this particular, since it is notorious that she once endeavoured to have a little sparring at least with her favourite General Essex, probably with a view of trying his courage. The consequence every one knows, — Essex was afraid to return the blow, and was accordingly soon after executed. — The famous Duke of Cumberland, and the more famous Broughton, were both cotemporaries, and acquaintance; and these great men actually made a campaign in Flanders together. — Soon after this period, it is well known, that this noble Science was shamefully neglected, and the fatal event of the late disgraceful war was the regular and inevitable consequence of it. And it is equally certain, that since the arrival of these domestic contests we have become every day more respectable among foreign nations, have baffled the designs of the French and the Dutch, and at present, are the most powerful Nation in Europe. — To this system I know it will be objected by many, that Brutality and Courage have nothing to do with each other, the Hardiness of Body by no means implies mental resolution, and that (as there is little chance of persuading the French to lay aside their Muskets and Bayonets, and trust entirely to Fists and Quarter-Staffs) our proficiency in the Science I am recommending will be of little use, and the Professors themselves make a contemptible figure against a single company of Infantry. But this is all a mere Gratis dictum; for surely a man who has once borne an hour and a quarter’s pummeling from an expert Bruiser, need never afterwards fear being popped at by a whole army at any reasonable distance; besides, who can say that the French will not adopt a plan above-mentioned, after the surprising change we have already seen take place in their most favourite opinions and most confirmed habits? — And, if they should, what a fortunate circumstance for this Country! — What an opportunity for men of real merit to put themselves forward! — Forgive me, Mr. Loiterer, if for a moment I feast my mind by indulging in this pleasing reverie, and see (in my mind’s eye at least) the probable advantages which will arise from this change in military Tactics. In the first place, the saving to Government would be immense, as there would be no more occasion for Muskets or Swords, Powder or Balls; for the Infantry would want no other Arms but what Nature had given them; and a tolerable quantity of Bludgeons and Backswords for the Light Horse, would at once equip an Army for immediate action. Nor would there ever be wanting a sufficient number of able and experienced Commanders to lead the British forces, thus properly appointed. And what might not be expected from our Light Horse when headed by so active a Leader as Mendoza? Or who could resist a battalion of grenadiers led on by Big Ben? — Another advantage too would attend the plan proposed, in the number of lives which would be saved on both sides. For in the way matters are carried on at present, scarce a skirmish can take place without the loss of an hundred or two of men, killed and wounded, whereas by this means, the most hard contested Battles might be fought, and the most signal victorie,s obtained, with the trifling loss of a few eyes, noses, teeth, and ribs. The above considerations must surely have great weight with every one who is a true lover of his country; but they are not all I have to offer on this subject; for when once this mode of Fighting is thoroughly established abroad, it will of course be practiced at home, and be universally adopted as the best means of settling private as well as national quarrels. — Instead of having recourse to those cowardly weapons, called Pistols, which reduce the manly and the effeminate to a level, our young men of spirit would then decide their important disputes in a proper mamier, and drub each other with great success behind Montague-House: A circumstance which would be attended with this particular advantage, that it would give a certain superiority to those men whom Nature (when she formed them) seems to have intended should be superior to their Cotemporaries, the strong, the active, and the daring. — Considering therefore the many advantages, both in public and private, which attend the cultivation of this Science, I flatter myself you will not only abstain from any improper reflections On the Heroes of the Fist, but will henceforth recommend it to your Fellow Students to learn the use of their hands in a proper manner: an acquirement Which will be of no small use to them whenever they are inclined to stroll into the purlieus of St. Thomas in a dark night, and may save them many a black eye and broken head from a drunken Bargemen. — If the arguments I have offered are insufficient, I have but one more: it is however a weighty one, and between you and me, has often stood in good stead with an obstinate opponent. Let me tell you then, Sir, that if you do not immediately comply with my request, I shall (by means you cannot guard against) find out who you really are — in Which case, I shall do (what I believe your Authors never yet did) reduce my own Rules into practice, and give you a good drubbing ’till when,
I am, Sir, Your's, &c.
I am sure I need not inform my Readers how terribly and how justly I was frightened at the receipt of Mr. Bluster’s Letter; but before I had well finished it, the following was delivered me, whose contents, perhaps, they will think scarce less alarming.
To the AUTHOR of the LOITERER.
My dear Sir, Precincts, Canterbury.You will perhaps be surprised, both at the receipt and the contents of this letter; but do not let your amiable modesty incline you to doubt the sincerity of the Writer, for merit, like yours, deserves to meet every encouragement; and under some particular circumstances the Poet tells us,
“A Maid, unasked, may own a well placed Flame.”But it is necessary I should tell you who and what I am. Take then the following account of the person who is destined to be your future Helpmate.
I am, Sir, the daughter of a country Clergyman, who having lived, what is called up to his income, that is a good deal above it, left me when he died nothing more than a small annuity, which was secured to me by my Mother’s marriage articles. With this I retired to the place whence I date this letter, and where, between prayers and scandal, sermons and cards, I lead a tolerably happy life, and seldom find my time hang heavy on my hands.
One circumstance alone has occasionally interrupted my tranquillity, which is the strange neglect I have experienced from your sex, who seem extremely averse to any acquaintance with me, notwithstanding I have been very far from carrying myself in a reserved and haughty manner towards them, but have on the contrary always demeaned myself with the most open and conciliating complacency. — I am sure, Mr. Loiterer, you are too much a man of sense to pay any regard to mere external beauty; otherwise I would tell you, that I am in person of the very tallest size, not encumbered with the coarse redundance of plumpness, or flushed with the vulgar glow of health; and that I have preserved my figure in the unbending Majesty of prim perpendicular, uncorrupted by the present fashionable lounge of our modern Girls, who always appear to me as if they were going to tumble on their noses. — Such is my person, nor is my mind unworthy of it, for except an unfortunate propensity for tittle tattle, and an hereditary love of the bottle, I have few failings, and am wanting in no virtue except Candour, Generosity, and Truth. Such, Mr. Loiterer, as I am, and in my thirty — but no matter of my age, I am ready to become yours. — Don’t, my dear Sir, object my never having seen you; for since I am perfectly acquainted with your better part, your writings, that is of small consequence. And indeed I have as perfect an idea of your figure as if I had seen you. — I imagine, for instance, you are a little square broad shouldered squat man, with a sallow complexion, dark eyes, black eye-brows and beard. — But I shall soon see if I am right, as I intend shortly paying you a visit at Oxford; where your Publisher will direct me to your Rooms, and where I trust we shall quickly settle matters to our mutual satisfaction; for, as I before told you, I am sure that it is destined by fate, that I am to be Mrs. Loiterer : in hopes of which I remain,
Now I think I may fairly ask my Readers, whether I have not fully proved the Misfortune of having too extensive and too good a reputation, since I have unknowingly excited in the breasts of my Correspondents, the two most violent passions of the human heart, and am in a fair way both of fighting and marrying against my will. From the anger of the first, I am indeed not without hopes, that my early publication of his Letter will in some measure enable me to escape: but from the love of the second who will ensure me? I believe, however, I must rest my defence on this Plea, and tell my fair friend, on the honour of a Gentleman, that I do not answer the description she has given in the smallest particular; and that it is impossible for me to accept her intended kindness, as I have the misfortune to be a Fellow of a College.
N.B. This work will in future be sold by Messrs. Prince and Cooke; to whom our Correspondents are requested to direct their communications.
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