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earth to be quite unpeopled. According to this system we may observe, that some men are born at twenty years
some at thirty, some at three score, and some not above an hour before they die. Nay, we may observe multitudes that die without ever being born, as well as many dead persons that fill up
the bulk of mankind, and make a better figure in the eyes of the ignorant, than those who are alive, and in their proper and full state of health. However, since there may be many good subjects that pay their taxes and live peaceably in their habitations, who are not yet born, or have departed this life several years since, my design is, to encourage both to join themselves as soon as possible to the number of the living ; for as I invite the former to break forth into being, and become good for something, fo I allow the latter a state of resuscitation.
Having received from the society of upholders, fundry complaints of the obstinate and refractory behaviour of several dead perfons, who have been guilty of very great outrages and diforders, and by that means elapsed the proper time of their interment; and having on the other hand received many appeals from the aforesaid dead persons, wherein they desire to be heard before such their interment, I have fet apart Wednesday, the 21st inftant, as an extraordinary court-day for the hearing both parties. If therefore any one can allege why they or any of their acquaintance should or should not be buried, I desire they may be ready with their witnesses at that time, or that they will for ever after hold their tongues
nuga seria ducent
HOR. ART. POET. V. 452. He will find these trifles no jesting matter, but a solid mischief,
ridiculous and offensive.
HERE is nothing gives a man a greater satisfaction than the sense of having dispatched a great deal of business, especially when it turns to the publick emolument. I have much pleasure of this
kind upon my spirits at present, occasioned by the fatigue of affairs which I went through last Saturday. It is some time since I set apart that day for examining the pretensions of several who had applied to me for canes, perspective glafles, snuff-boxes, orange-flower-waters, and the like ornaments of life. In order to adjust this matter, I had before directed Charles Lillie, of Beaufort-buildings, to prepare a great bundle of blank licences in the following words
“You are hereby required to permit the bearer of this cane to pass and repass through the streets and suburbs of London, or any place within ten miles of it, without let or molestation, provided that he does not walk with it under his arm, brandish it in the air, or hang it on a button, in which case it shall be forfeited. And I hereby declare it forfeited to any one who shall think it safe to take it from him.
« Isaac BICKERSTAFF.”
The same form, differing only in the provisos, will serve for a perspective, snuff-box, or perfumed handkerchief. I had placed myself in my elbow-chair at the upper end of my great parlour, having ordered Charles Lillie to take his place upon a joint-stool, with a writing-delk before him. John Morphew also took his station at the door, I having, for his good and faithful services, appointed him my chamber-keeper upon courtdays. He let me know that there were a great number attending without, upon which I ordered him to give notice that I did not intend to sit upon snuff-boxes that day, but that those who appeared for canes might enter. The first presented me with the following petition, which I ordered Mr. Lillie to read.
“ To Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., Cenfor of Great Britain.
“ The humble petition of Simon Trippit, “Sheweth-That your petitioner having been bred up to a cane from his youth, it is now become as necessary to him as any other of his limbs.
“ That a great part of his behaviour depending upon it, he should be reduced to the utmost necessities if he should lose the use of it.
“ That the knocking of it upon his shoe, leaning one leg upon it, or whistling with it on his mouth, are such great reliefs to him in conversation, that he does not know how to be good company without it.
That he is at present engaged in an amour, and must despair of success if it be taken from him.
" Your petitioner therefore hopes that the premises tenderly considered) your worship will not deprive him of so useful, and so necessary a support.
“ And your petitioner shall ever, &c.”
Upon the hearing of his case I was touched with some compassion, and the more so when, upon observing him nearer, I found he was a prig. I bid him produce his cane in court, which he had left at the door. He did fo; and I finding it to be very curiously clouded, with a transparent amber head, and a blue riband to hang upon his wrist, I immediately ordered my clerk Lillie to lay it up, and deliver out to him a plain joint, headed with walnut; and then, in order to wean him from it by degrees, permitted him to wear it three days in a week, and to abate proportionally till he found himself able to
The second who appeared came limping into the court, and setting forth in his petition many pretences for the use of a cane, I caused them to be examined one by one, but finding him in different stories, and confronting him with several witnesses who had seen him walk upright, I ordered Mr. Lillie to take in his cane, and rejected his petition as frivolous.
A third made his entry with great difficulty, leaning upon a Night stick, and in danger of falling every step he took. I saw the weakness of his hams, and hearing that he had married a young wife about a fortnight before, I bid him leave his cane, and gave him a new pair of crutches, with which he went off in great vigour and alacrity. This gentleman was succeeded by another who seemed very much pleased while his petition was reading, in which he had represented that he was extremely afflicted with the gout, and set his foot upon the ground with the caution and dignity which accompany that distemper. I suspected him for an impostor, and having ordered him to be searched, I committed him into the hands of Dr. Thomas Smith, in King Street (my own corn-cutter), who attended in an outward room, and wrought so speedy a cure upon him, that I thought fit to send him also away without his cane.
While I was thus dispensing justice, I heard a noise in my outward room, and inquiring what was the occasion of it, my door-keeper told me that they had taken up one in the very fact as he was passing by my door. They immediately brought in a lively fresh-coloured young man, who made great resistance with hand and foot, but did not offer to make use of his cane, which hung upon his fifth button. Upon examination, I found him to be an Oxford scholar who was just entered at the Temple. He at first disputed the jurisdiction of the court; but being driven out of his little law and logic, he told me very pertly that he looked upon such a perpendicular creature as man, to make a very imperfect figure without a cane in his hand. “It is well known,” says he, “we ought, according to the natural situation of our bodies, to walk upon our hands and feet; and that the wisdom of the ancients had described man to be an animal of four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three at night, by which they intimated, that a cane might very properly become part of us in some period of life.” Upon which I asked him, “Whether he wore it at his breast to have in readiness when that period should arrive?” My young lawyer immediately told me he had a property in it, and a right to hang it where he pleased, and to make use of it as he thought fit, provided that he did not break the peace with it. And further said, “That he never took it off his button, unless it were to lift it up at a coachman, hold it over the head of a drawer, point out the circumstances of a story, or for other services of the like nature, that are all within the laws of the land.” I did not care for discouraging a young man, who, I saw, would come to good; and because his heart was set upon his new purchase, I only ordered him to wear it about his neck, instead of hanging it upon his button, and so dismissed him.
There were several appeared in court whose pretensions I found to be very good, and therefore gave them their licences upon paying their fees, as many others had their licences renewed, who required more time for recovery of their lameness than I had before allowed them.
Having dispatched this set of my petitioners, there came in a well-dressed man with a glass tube in one hand and his petition in the other. Upon his entering the room, he threw back the right side of his wig, put forward his right leg, and, advancing the glass to his right eye, aimed it directly at me. In the meanwhile, to make my observations also, I put on my spectacles, in which posture we surveyed each other for some time,