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MR. BICKERSTAFF LEARNS FENCING, AND HIS REASONS FOR

SO DOING-HIS VINDICATION FROM THE IMPUTATION OF INJURING ANY WORTHY PERSON BY HIS SATIRE.

S soon as my midnight studies are finished, I take but a short repose, and am again up at an exercise of another kind, that is to say, my fencing. Thus my life passes away in a restless pursuit of

fame, and a preparation to defend myself against such as attack it. This anxiety in the point of reputation, is the peculiar distress of fine fpirits, and makes them liable to a thousand inquietudes, from which men of grosser understandings are exempt, so that nothing is more common than to fee one part of mankind live at perfect eafe under such circumstances as would make another part of them entirely miserable.

I had several hints and advertisements from unknown hands, that some, who are enemies to my labours, design to demand the fashionable way of fatisfaction for the disturbance my lucubrations have given them. I confess, as things now stand, I don't know how to deny such inviters, and am preparing myself accordingly. I have bought pumps and foils, and am every morning practising in my chamber. My neighbour, the dancing-master, has demanded of me why I take this liberty, since I would not allow it him ? But I answered, his was an act of an indifferent nature, and mine of necessity. My late treatises against duels have so far disobliged the fraternity of the noble science of defence, that I can get none of them to fhew me so much as one pass. I am therefore obliged to learn

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by book, and have accordingly several volumes, wherein all the postures are exactly delineated. I must confess I am shy of letting people fee me at this exercise, because of

my

flannel waistcoat and my spectacles, which I am forced to fix on, the better to observe the posture of the enemy.

I have upon my chamber walls, drawn at full length, the figures of all sorts of men, from eight feet to three feet two inches. Within this height, I take it, that all the fighting men of Great Britain are comprehended. But as I push I make allowances for my being of a lank and spare body, and have chalked out in every figure my own dimensions, for I scorn to rob any man of his life by taking advantage of his breadth ; therefore I press purely in a line down from his nose, and take no more of him to assault than he has of me; for, to speak impartially, if a lean fellow wounds a fat one in any part to the right or left, whether it be in carte or in tierce, beyond the dimensions of the lean fellows own breadth, I take it to be murder, and such a murder as is below a gentleman to commit. As I am spare, I am also very tall, and behave myself with relation to that advantage with the same punctilio; and I am ready to stoop or stand according to the stature of my adversary. I must confess, I have had great success this morning, and have hit every figure round the room in a mortal part, without receiving the least hurt, except a little scratch by falling on my face, in pushing at one at the lower end of my chamber; but I recovered so quick and jumped so nimbly into my guard, that if he had been alive, he could not have hurt me. It is confessed I have written against duels with some warmth, but in all my discourses I have not ever said that I knew how a gentleman could avoid a duel if he were provoked to it ; and since the custom is now become a law, I know nothing but the legislative power, with new animadversions upon it, can put us in a capacity of denying challenges, though we were afterwards hanged for it. But no more of this at present. As things stand, I shall put up no more affronts; and I shall be fo far from taking ill words, that I will not take ill looks. I therefore warn all hot young fellows not to look hereafter more terrible than their neighbours, for if they stare at me

with their hats cocked higher than other people, I won't bear it. Nay, I give warning to all people in general to look kindly at me, for I'll bear no frowns, even from ladies; and if any woman pretends to look fcornfully at me, I shall demand fatisfaction of the next of kin of the mafculine gender.

I have long been against my inclination employed in fatire, and that in prosecution of such persons who are below the dignity of the true spirit of it, such who, I fear, are not to be reclaimed by making them only ridiculous. The sharpers shall therefore have a month's time to themselves free from the observation of this paper ; but I must not make a truce without letting them know, that at the same time I am preparing for a more vigorous war; for a friend of mine has promised me, he will employ his time in compiling such a tract before the session of the ensuing parliament, as shall lay gaming home to the bosoms of all who love their country or their families; and he doubts not but it will create an act, that shall make these rogues as scandalous, as those less mischievous ones on the high road.

I have received private intimations to take care of my walks, and remember there are such things as stabs and blows ; but as there never was anything in this design which ought to difplease a man of honour, or which was not designed to offend the rascals, I shall give myself very little concern for finding what I expected, that they would be highly provoked at these lucubrations. But, though I utterly despise the pack, I must confess I am at a stand at the receipt of the following letter, which seems to be written by a man of sense and worth, who has mistaken some passage that I am sure was not levelled at him. This gentleman's complaints give me compunction, when I neglect the threats of the rascals. I can't be in jest with the rogues any longer, since they pretend to threaten. I don't know whether I shall allow them the favour of transportation : « MR. BICKERSTAFF,

September 13. Observing you are not content with lashing the many vices of the age without illustrating each with particular characters, it's thought nothing would more contribute to the impression you design by such, than always having

regard to truth. In your " Tatler' of this day, I obferve

I you allow, that nothing is fo tender as a lady's reputation ; that a stain once.got in their fame, is hardly ever to be washed out. This you grant even when you give yourself leave to trifle. If fo, what caution is neceffary in handling the reputation of a man,.whose well-being in this life perhaps entirely depends on preserving it from any wound, which once there received, too often becomes fatal and incurable ? Suppofe some villainous hand, through personal prejudice, tranfmits materials for this purpose, which you publish to the world, and afterwards become fully convinced you were imposed on (as by this time you may be of a character you have fent into the world), I say, , supposing this, I would be glad to know what reparation you think ought to be made the person fo injured, admitting you stood in his place. It has always been held, that a generous education is the sureft mark of a generous mind. The former is indeed perfpicuous in all your papers; and I am persuaded, though you affect often to fhew the latter, yet you would not keep any measures (even of Christianity) with those who should handle

you
in the manner you

do others. The application of all this is from your having very lately glanced at a'man, under a character, that were he conscious to deferve, he would be the first to rid the world of himself; and would be more juftifiable in it to all forts of men, than you in your committing such a violence on his reputation, which perhaps you may be convinced of in another manner than you deserve from him.

“A man of your capacity, Mr. Bicketstaff, should have more noble views, and pursue the true fpirit of satire ; ibut I will conclude, left I grow out of temper, and will only beg for your own preservation, to remember the proverb of the pitcher.

« I am yours,

« A. J.”

The proverb of the pitcher I have no regard to; but it would be an insensibility not to be pardoned, if a man could be untouched at so warm an accusation, and that; laid with so much, seeming temper. All I can say to it is, “That if the writer, by the same method whereby he conveyed this letter, shall give me. an instance wherein I have injured any good man, or pointed at anything which is not the true object of raillery, I shall acknowledge the offence in as open a manner as the press can do it, and lay down this paper for ever.

There is something very terrible in unjustly attacking men in a way that may prejudice their honour or fortune; but when men of too modest a sense of themselves will think they are touched, it is impossible to prevent ill consequences from the most innocent and general discourses. This I have known happen in circumstances the most foreign to theirs who have taken offence at them. An advertisement lately published, res lating to Omicron, alarmed a gentleman of good sense, integrity, honour, and industry, which is, in every particular, different from the trifling pretenders pointed at in that advertisement: When the modesty of fome is as excessive as the vanity of others, what defence is there against misinterpretation? Howa ever, giving disturbance, though not intended, to men of virtuous characters, has so sincerely troubled me, that I will break from this satirical vein, and to thew I very little value myself upon it, shall for this month ensuing, leave the sharper, the fop, the pedant, the proud man, the infolent, in a word, all the train of knaves and fools, to their own devices, and touch on nothing but panegyrick. This way is suitable to the true genius of the Staffs, who are much more inclined to reward than punish. If, therefore, the author of the above-mentioned letter does not command my filence wholly, as he shall if I do not give him fatisfaction, I shall for the above-mentioned space turn my thoughts to raising merit from its obscurity, celebrating virtue in its distress, and attacking vice by no other method, but setting innocence in a proper light.

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