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hear her. Never was any heard so sweet and so strong. The organist observed it, and he thought fit to play to her only, and she swelled every note, when she found she had thrown us all out, and had the last verse to herself in such a manner as the whole congregation was intent upon her, in the same manner as you see in the cathedrals they are on the person who sings alone the anthem. Well; it came at last to the sermon, and our young lady would not lose her part in that neither; for she fixed her eye upon the preacher, and as he said any thing she approved, with one of Charles Mather's fine tablets she set down the sentence, at once shewing her fine hand, the gold pen, her readiness in writing, and her judgment in choosing what to write. To sum up what I intend by this long and particular account, I mean to appeal to you, whether it is reasonable that such a creature as this shall come from a jaunty part of the town, and give herself such violent airs, to the disturbance of an innocent and inoffensive congregation, with her sublimities. The fact, I assure you, was as I have related : but I had like to have forgot another very considerable particular. As soon as church was done, she immediately stepped out of her pew, and fell into the finest pitty-patty air, forsooth, wonderfully out of countenance, tossing her head up and down, as she swam along the body of the church. 'I, with several others, of the inhabitants, followed her out, and saw her hold up her fan to a hackney-coach at a distance, who immediately came up to her, and she whipped into it with great nimbleness, pulled the door with a bowing mien, as if she had been used to a better glass. She said aloud, 'You know where to go, and drove off. By this time the best of the congregation was at the church-door, and I could hear some say, 'A very fine lady;' others, I'll warrant you, she is no better than she should be :' and one very wise old lady said, she ought to have been taken up. Mr. Spectator, I think this matter lies wholly before you: : for the offence does not come under any law, though it is apparent this creature came among us only to give herself airs, and enjoy her full swing in being admired. I desire you will print ibis, that she may be confined to her own parish; for I can assure you there is no attending any thing else in a place where she is a novelty. She has
been talked of among us ever since under the name of ''the phantom;' but I would advise her to come no more; for there is so strong a party made by the women against her, that she must expect they will not be excelled a second time in so outrageous a manner, without doing her some insult. Young women, who assume after this rate, and affect exposing themselves to view in congregations at the other end of the town, are not so mischievous, because they are rivalled by more of the same ambition, who will not let the rest of the company be particular; but in the name of the whole congregation where I was, I desire you to keep these agreeable disturbances out of the city, where sobriety of manners is still preserved, and all glaring and ostentatious behaviour, even in things laudable, discountenanced. I wish you may never see the phantom,
“Sir, your most humble servant, T.
“ RALPH WONDER."
N° 504. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 8, 1712. Lepus tutees, et pulpamentum quæris.-Ter. Eun. act. iii. sc. 1.
You are a bare yourself, and want dainties, forsooth. T is a great convenience to those who want wit to fur
other in all companies where it is wanted substituted in its stead, which, according to their taste, does the business as well. Of this nature is the agreeable pastime in countryhalls of cross-purposes, questions and commands, and the like. A little superior to these are those who can play at crambo, or cap verses. Then above them are such as can make versés, that is, rhyme; and among those who have the Latin tongue, such as used to make what they call golden verses. Commend me also to those who have not brains enough for any of these exercises, and yet do not give up their pretensions to mirth. These can slap you on the back unawares, laugh loud, ask you how you do with a twang on your shoulders, say you are dull to-day, and laugh a voluntary to put you in humour; not to mention the laborious way among the minor poets, of making things come into such and such a shape, as that of an egg, a hand, an axe, or any thing that nobody had ever thought
on before, for that purpose, or which would have cost a great deal of pains, to accomplish, if they did. But all these methods, though they are mechanical, and may be arrived at with the smallest capacity, do not serve an honest gentleman who wants wit for his ordinary occasions; therefore it is absolutely necessary that the poor in imagination should have something which may be serviceable to them at all hours upon all common occurrences. That which we call punning is therefore greatly affected by men of small intellects. These men need not be concerned with you for the whole sentence; but if they can say a quaint thing, or bring in a word which sounds like any one word you have spoken to them, they can turn the discourse, or distract you so that you cannot go on, and by consequence, if they cannot be as witty as you are, they can hinder
your being any wittier than they are.
talk of a candle, he“ can deal" with
you; and if you ask him to help you to some bread, a punster should think himself very
- ill-bred” if he did not; and if he is not as “wellbred" as yourself, he hopes for “grains" of allowance. If you do not understand that last fancy, you must recollect that bread is made of grain; and so they go on for ever, without possibility of being exhausted.
There are another kind of people of small faculties, who supply want of wit with want of breeding; and because women are both by nature and education more offended at any thing which is immodest than we men are, these are ever harping upon things they ought not allude to, and deal mightily in double meanings. Every one's own observation will suggest instances enough of this kind without my mentioning any; for your
double meaners are dispersed up and down through all parts of the town or city where there are any to offend, in order to set off themselves. These men are mighty loud laughers, and held very pretty gentlemen with the sillier and unbred part of womankind. But, above all already mentioned, or any who ever were, or ever can be in the world, the happiest and surest to be pleasant, are a sort of people whom we have not indeed lately heard much of, and those are your “ biters."
A biter is one who tells you a thing you have no reason to disbelieve in itself, and perhaps has given you, before
he bit you, no reason to disbelieve it for his saying it; and, if you give him credit, laughs in your face, and triumphs that he has deceived you. In a word, a biter is one who thinks you a fool, because you do not think him a knave. This description of him one may insist upon to be a just one; for what else but a degree of knavery is it, to depend upon deceit for what you gain of another, be it in point of wit, or interest, or any thing else?
This way of wit is called “biting," by a metaphor taken from beasts of prey, which devour harmless and unarmed animals, and look upon them as their food wherever they meet them. The sharpers about town very ingeniously understood themselves to be to the undesigning part of mankind what foxes are to lambs, and therefore used the word biting, to express any exploit wherein they had overreached any
innocent and inadvertent man of his purse. These rascals of late years have been the gallants of the town, and carried it with a fashionable haughty air, to the discouragement of modesty, and all honest arts. Shallow fops, who are governed by the eye, and admire every thing that struts in vogue, took up from the sharpers the phrase of biting, and used it upon all occasions, either to disown any nonsensical stuff they should talk themselves, or evade the force of what was reasonably said by others. Thus, when one of these cunning creatures was entered into a debate with you, whether it was practicable in the present state of affairs to accomplish such a proposition, and you thought he had let fall what destroyed his side of the question, as soon as you looked with an earnestness ready to lay hold of it, he immediately cried, “ Bite," and you were immediately to acknowledge all that part was in jest. They carry this to all the extravagance imaginable ; and if one of these witlings knows any particulars which may give authority to what he says, he is still the more ingenious if he imposes upon your credulity. I remember a remarkable instance of this kind. There came up a shrewd young fellow to a plain young man, his countryman, and taking him aside with a grave concerned countenance, goes on at this rate: “I see you here, and have you heard nothing out of Yorkshire ?--You look so surprised you could not have heard of it-and yet the particulars are such that it cannot be false: I am sorry I am got into it
It is a
so far that I now must tell you; but I know not but it may be for your service to know. On Tuesday last, just after dinner--you know his manner is to smoke-opening his box, your father fell down dead in an apoplexy.” The youth shewed the filial sorrow which he ought-Upon which the witty man cried, “ Bite; there was nothing in all this."
To put an end to this silly, pernicious, frivolous way at once, I will give the reader one late instance of a bite, which no biter for the future will ever be able to equal, though I heartily wish him the same occasion. superstition with some surgeons who beg the bodies of condemned malefactors, to go to the jail, and bargain for the carcase with the criminal himself. A good honest fellow did so last sessions, and was admitted to the condemned men on the morning wherein they died. The surgeon communicated his business, and fell into discourse with a little fellow, who refused twelve shillings, and insisted upon fifteen for his body. The fellow who killed the officer of Newgate, very forwardly, and like a man who was willing to deal, told him, “ Look you, Mr. Surgeon, that little dry fellow, who has been half starved all his life, and is now half dead with fear, cannot answer your purpose. I have ever lived high and freely, my veins are full, I have not pined in imprisonment; you see my crest swells to your knife; and after Jack Catch has done, upon my honour you
will find me as sound as ever a bullock in any of the markets. Come, for twenty shillings I am your man.” Says the surgeon,
Done, there is a guinea.” This witty rogue took the money, and as soon as he had it in his fist, cries, “ Bite; I am to be hanged in chains."
N° 505. THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9, 1712.
Non habeo denique nauci Marsum augurem,