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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 seven sons, viz. Bickerstaff, Longstaff, Wagstaff, Quarterstaff, Whitestaff, Falstaff, and Tipstaff. He also had a younger brother, who was twice married, and had five sons, 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, quasi 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, until, in the time of Harry the Second, they settled in Kent, and were called Long-Tails, 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 sought 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 merry thoughtless sort of people, who have always been opinionated of their own wit; they have turned themselves mostly to poetry. This is the most numerous branch of our family, and the poorest. The Quarterstaffs are most of them prize-fighters or deer-stealers: there have been so many of them hanged lately, that there are very few of that branch of our family left. The Whitestaffs are all courtiers, and have had very
* An allusion to the staff that is carried, as an ensign of his office, by the first Lord of the Treasury, who is afterwards humourously compared by Steele to "an emmet distinguished from his fellows by a white straw."
considerable places. There have been some of them of that strength and dexterity, that five hundred * of the ablest men in the kingdom have often tugged in vain to pull a staff out of their hands. The Falstaffs are strangely given to whoring and drinking there are abundance of them in and about London. One thing is very remarkable of this branch, and that is, there are just as many women as men in it. There was a wicked stick of wood of this name in Harry the Fourth's time, one Sir John Falstaff. As for Tipstaff, the youngest son, he was an honest fellow; but his sons, and his sons' sons, have all of them been the veriest rogues living it is this unlucky branch that has stocked the nation with that swarm of lawyers, attorneys, serjeants, and bailiffs, with which the nation is over-run. Tipstaff, being a seventh son, used to cure the king's evil; but his rascally descendants are so far from having that healing quality, that, by a touch upon the shoulder, they give a man such an ill habit of body, that he can never come abroad afterwards. This is all I know of the line of Jacobstaff: his younger brother Isaacstaff, as I told you before, had five sons, and was married twice; his first wife was a Staff (for they did not stand upon false heraldry in those days) by whom he had one son, who, in process of time, being a schoolmaster and well read in the Greek, called himself Distaff, or Twicestaff. He was not very rich, so he put his children out to trades; and the Distaffs have ever since been employed in the woollen and linen manufactures, except myself, who am a genealogist. Pikestaff, the eldest son by the second venter, was a man of business, a downright plodding fellow, and withal so plain, that he became a proverb. Most of this fa
*The House of Commons.
mily are at present in the army. Raggedstaff was an unlucky boy, and used to tear his cloaths in getting birds nests, and was always playing with a tame bear his father kept. Mopstaff fell in love with one of his father's maids, and used to help her to clean the house. Broomstaff was a chimneysweeper. The Mopstaffs and Broomstaffs are naturally as civil people as ever went out of doors; but alas! if they once get into ill hands, they knock down all before them. Pilgrimstaff ran away from his friends, and went strolling about the country: and. Pipestaff was a wine-cooper. These two were the unlawful issue of Longstaff.
"N. B. The Canes, the Clubs, the Cudgels, the Wands, the Devil upon two Sticks*, and one Bread, that goes by the name of Staff of Life, are none of our relations. I am, dear Cousin,
From the Heralds Office,
"Your humble servant,
St. James's Coffee-house, May 4.
As political news is not the principal subject on which we treat, we are so happy as to have no occasion for that art of cookery which our brother newsmongers so much excel in: as appears by their excellent and inimitable manner of dressing up a second time for your taste the same dish which they gave you the day before, in case there come over no new pickles from Holland. Therefore, when we have nothing to say to you from courts and camps, we hope still to give you somewhat new and curious from ourselves: the women of our house, upon occasion, being capable of carrying on the business, according to the laudable custom of the wives in
* An allusion to the "Diable Boiteux" of Le Sage.
Holland; but, without farther preface, take what we have not mentioned in our former relations.
Letters from Hanover, of the thirtieth of the last month, say, that the Prince Royal of Prussia arrived there on the fifteenth, and left that court on the second of this month, in pursuit of his journey to Flanders, where he makes the ensuing campaign. Those advices add, that the young Prince Nassau, hereditary governor of Friesland, celebrated on the twenty-sixth of the last month his marriage with the beauteous Princess of Hesse-Cassel, with a pomp and magnificence suitable to their age and quality.
Letters from Paris say, his most Christian Majesty retired to Marly on the first instant, N. S. and our last advices from Spain inform us, that the Prince of Asturias had made his public entry into Madrid in great splendor. The Duke of Anjou has given Don Joseph Hartado de Amaraga the government of Terra firma de Veragua, and the presidency of Panama in America. They add, that the forces commanded by the Marquis de Bay have been reinforced by six battalions of Spanish Walloon guards. Letters from Lisbon advise, that the army of the king of Portugal was at Elvas on the twentysecond of the last month, and would decamp on the twenty-fourth, in order to march upon the enemy who lay at Badajos.
Yesterday, at four in the morning, his grace the Duke of Marlborough set out for Margate, and embarked for Holland at eight this morning.
Yesterday also Sir George Thorold was declared Alderman of Cordwainers Ward, in the room of his brother Sir Charles Thorold, deceased.
*** Any Ladies who have any particular stories of their acquaintance, which they are willing pri
vately to make public, may send them by the penny-post to Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq. inclosed to Mr. John Morphew, near Stationers Hall.
N° 12. SATURDAY, MAY 7, 1709.
Quicquid agunt bomines————
nostri est farrago libelli.
JUV. Sat. I. 85, 86.
Whate'er men do, or fay, or think, or dream,
WHEN a man has engaged to keep a stage-coach, he is obliged, whether he has passengers or not, to set out thus it fares with us weekly historians; but indeed, for my particular, I hope, I shall soon have little more to do in this work, than to publish what is sent me from such as have leisure and capacity for giving delight, and being pleased in an elegant manner. The present grandeur of the British nation might make us expect, that we should rise in our public diversions, and manner of enjoying life, in proportion to our advancement in glory and power. Instead of that, survey this town, and you will find rakes and debauchees are your men of pleasure; thoughtless atheists and illiterate drunkards call themselves free-thinkers; and gamesters, banterers, biters, swearers, and twenty new-born insects more, are, in their several species, the modern men of wit. Hence it is, that a man, who has been out of town but one half year, has lost the language, and must