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are to understand, that I shall not pretend to raise a credit to this work upon the weight of my politick news only, but, as my Latin sentence in the title page informs you, shall take any thing that offers for the subject of my discourse. Thus new persons, as well as new things, are to come under my confideration; as when a toast or wit is first pronounced such, you shall have the freshest advice of their preferment from me, with a description of the beauty's manners, and the wit's stile; as also in whose places they are advanced. For this town is never good-natured enough to raise one withoút depressing another. But it is my design to avoid saying any thing of any person, which ought justly to displease ; but shall endeavour, by the variety of the matter and stile, to give entertainment for men of pleasure, without offence to those of business.

Tuesday, April 12, 1709,

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LETTER FROM A RURAL CORRESPONDENT-PLEASURES OF THE COUNTRY-MR. BICKERSTAFF'S ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF

-GENEALOGY OF THE STAFFS, AND HOW THE RACE WAS IMPROVED

have received this short epistle from an unknown
hand.
“SIR,

“ That the country is barren of news, has been the excuse, time out of mind, for dropping a correspondence with our friends in London ; as if it were impossible out of a coffee-house to write an agreeable letter. I am too ingenuous to endeavour at the covering of my negligence with so common an excuse. Doubtless, amongst friends bred as we have been, to the knowledge of books as well as men, a letter dated from a garden, a grotto, a fountain, a wood, a meadow, or the banks of a river, may be more entertaining than one from Tom's, Will's, White's, or St. James's. I promise therefore to be frequent for the future in my rural dates to you: but for fear you should, from what I have said, be induced to believe I shun the commerce of men, I must inform you, that there is a fresh topick of discourse lately risen amongst the ingenious in our part of the world, and is become the more fashionable for the ladies giving into it. This we owe to Ifaac Bickerstaff, who is very much censured by some, and as much justified by others. Some criticise his style, his humour, and his matter; others admire the whole man.

Some pre

tend, from the informations of their friends in town, to decypher the author; and others confess they are lost in their guesses. For my part I must own myself a professed admirer of the paper."

There is no pleasure like that of receiving praise from the praise-worthy;

by a person of fo fine a taste as the author of this letter, who is capable of enjoying the world in the simplicity of its natural beauties. This pastoral letter, if I may so call it, must be written by a man who carries his entertainment wherever he goes, and is undoubtedly one of those happy men who appear far otherwise to the vulgar. I dare say, he is not envied by the vicious, the vain, the frolick, and the loud; but is continually blessed with that strong and serious delight, which flows from a well-taught and liberal mind. With great respect to country sports, I may fay, this gentleman could pass his time agreeably, if there were not a hare or a fox in his county. That calm and elegant satisfaction which the vulgar call melancholy, is the true and proper delight of men of knowledge and virtue, What we take for diversion, which is a kind of forgetting ourselves, is but a mean way of entertainment, in comparison of that which is considering, knowing, and enjoying ourselves. The pleasures of ordipary people are in their passions ; but the seat of this delight is in the reason and understanding. Such a frame of mind raises that sweet enthusiasm which warms the imagination at the fight of every work of nature, and turns all round you into picture and landscape. I shall be ever proud of advices from this gentleman ; for I profess writing news from the learned as well as the busy world.

As for my labours, which he is pleased to inquire after, if they can but wear one impertinence out of human life, destroy a single vice, or give a morning's cheerfulness to an honest mind; in short, if the world can be but one virtue the better, or in any degree less vicious, or receive from them the smallest addition to their innocent diversions, I shall not think my pains, or indeed my life to have been spent in vain.

Thus far as to my studies. It will be expected I should in the next place give some account of my life. I shall therefore, for the satisfaction of the present age, and the benefit of posterity, present the world with the following abridgment of it.

It is remarkable, that I was bred by hand, and ate nothing but milk till I was a twelvemonth old; from which time, to the eighth year of my age, I was observed to delight in pudding and potatoes ; and indeed I retain a benevolence for that fort of food to this day. I do not remember that I distinguished myself in anything at those years, but my great skill at taw, for which I was so barbarously used, that it has ever since given me an aversion to gaming. In my twelfth year, I suffered very much for two or three false concords. At fifteen I was fent to the University, and staid there for some time ; but a drum passing by (being a lover of musick) I listed myself for a soldier. As years came on, I began to examine things, and grew discontented at the times. This made me quit the sword, and take to the study of the occult sciences, in which I was so wrapped up, that Oliver Cromwell had been buried, and taken up again, five years before I heard he was dead. This gave me first the reputation of a conjuror, which has been of great disadvantage to me ever since, and kept me out of all publick employments. The greater part of my later years has been divided between Dick's coffee-house, the Trumpet in SheerLane, and my own lodgings.

Of all the vanities under the fun, I confefs that of being proud of one's birth is the greatest. At the same time, since in this unreasonable age, by the force of prevailing custom, things in which men have no hand are imputed to them; and that I am used by some people, as if Ifaac Bickerstaff, though I write myself Esquire, was nobody; to set the world right in that particular, I shall give you my genealogy, as a kinsman of ours has sent it me from the Heralds' office. It is certain, and observed by the wisest writers, that there are men not severely honest, in all families; therefore let those who may be apt to raise aspersions upon ours, please to give us as impartial an account of their own, and we shall be fatisfied. The business of heralds is a matter of so great nicety, that, to avoid mistakes, I shall give you my cousin's letter verbatim, without altering a syllable.

« DEAR COUSIN,

“Since you have been pleased to make yourself so famous of late, by your ingenious writings, and some time ago by your learned predictions : since Partridge of immortal memory, is dead and gone, who, poetical as he was, could not understand his own poetry; and philomatical as he was, could not read his own destiny: since the Pope, the King of France, and great part of his court, are either literally or metaphorically defunct : since, I say, these things (not foretold by any one but yourself) have come to pass after so surprising a manner : it is with no small concern I see the original of the Staffan race so little known to the world as it is at this time; for which reason, as you have employed your studies in astronomy, and the occult sciences, fo I, my mother being a Welsh woman, dedicated mine to genealogy, particularly that of our own family, which, for its antiquity and number, may challenge any in Great Britain. The Staffs are originally of Staffordshire, which took its name from them. The first that I find of the Staffs was one Jacobstaff, a famous and renowned astronomer, who by Dorothy his wife had issue feven fons, viz., Bickerstaff, Longstaff, Wagstaff, Quarterstaff, Whitestaff, Falstaff, and Tipstaff. He also had a younger brother who was twice married, and had five fons, viz., Distaff, Pikestaff, Mopstaff, Broomstaff, and Raggedstaff. As for the branch from whence you spring, I shall say very little of it, only that it is the chief of the Staffs, and called Bickerstaff, quaf Biggerstaff; as much as to say, the Great Staff, or Staff of Staffs; and that it has applied itself to astronomy with great success, after the example of our aforesaid forefather. The descendants from Longstaff, the second son, were a rakish disorderly sort of people, and rambled from one place to another, till in Harry II.'s time, they settled in Kent, and were called LongTails, from the Long-Tails which were sent them as a punishment for the murder of Thomas-a-Becket, as the legends say. They have always been fought after by the ladies, but whether it be to show their aversion to Popery, or their love to miracles, I cannot say. The Wagstaffs are a

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