Page images

the will: but opening it, he found himself disinherited and cut off from the possession of a fair estate, by virtue of my being made a present to him. This put him into such a passion, that after having taken me in his hand, and cursed me, he squirred me away from him as far as he could fling me. I chanced to light in an unfrequented place under a dead wall, where I lay undiscovered and useless, during the usurpation of Oliver Cromwell.

'About a year after the king's return, a poor cavalier that was walking there about dinner-time, fortunately cast his eye upon me, and, to the great joy of us both, carried me to a cook's shop, where he dined upon me, and drank the king's health. When I came again into the world, I found that I had been happier in my retirement than I thought, having probably, by that means, escaped wearing a monstrous pair of breeches."

'Being now of great credit and antiquity, I was rather looked upon as a medal than an ordinary coin; for which reason a gamester laid hold of me, and converted me to a counter, having got together some dozens of us for that use. We led a melancholy life in his possession, being busy at those hours wherein current coin is at rest, and partaking the fate of our master, being in a few moments valued at a crown, a pound, or a sixpence, according to the situation in which the fortune of the cards placed us. I had at length the good luck to see my master break, by which means I was again sent abroad under my primitive denomination of a shilling,

'I shall pass over many other accidents of less moment, and hasten to that fatal catastrophe, when I fell into the hands of an artist, who conveyed me under ground, and with an unmerciful pair of sheers, cut off my titles, clipped my brims, retrenched my shape, rubbed me to my inmost ring, and, in short, so spoiled

Pair of breeches. A conceit of the people, from the disposition of the arms of England and Ireland, in the commonwealth coin.

and pillaged me, that he did not leave me worth a groat. You may think what a confusion I was in, to see myself thus curtailed and disfigured. I should have been ashamed to have shown my head, had not all my old acquaintance been reduced to the same shameful figure, excepting some few that were punched through the belly. In the midst of this general calamity, when every body thought our misfortune irretrievable, and our case desperate, we were thrown into the furnace together, and (as it often happens with cities rising out of a fire) appeared with greater beauty and lustre than we could ever boast of before. What has happened to me since this change of sex which you now see, I shall take some other opportunity to relate. In the mean time, I shall only repeat two adventures, as being very extraordinary, and neither of them having ever happened to me above once in my life. The first was, my being in a poet's pocket, who was so taken with the brightness and novelty of my appearance, that it gave occasion to the finest burlesque poem in the British language, entitled from me, 'The Splendid Shilling. The second adventure, which I must not omit, happened to me in the year 1703, when I was given away in charity to a blind man; but indeed this was by a mistake, the person who gave me having heed. lessly thrown me into the hat among a pennyworth of farthings.'

To have shewn. It should be, to shew; the only inaccuracy, however, in this delicious paper.

By Mr. John Phillips.

No. 250. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 1710.

Scis etonim justum gemina suspendere lanco
Ancipitis libræ.


From my own Apartment, November 13. I last winter erected a court of justice for the correcting of several enormities in dress and behaviour, which are not cognizable in


other courts of this realm. The vintner's case,' which I there tried, is still fresh in every man's memory. That of the petticoat ? gave also a general satisfaction, not to mention the important points of the cane and perspective; in which, if I did not give judgments and decrees according to the strictest rules of equity and justice, I can safely say, I acted according to the best of my understanding. But as for the proceedings of that court, I shall refer my reader to an account of them, written by my secretary, which is now in the press, and will shortly be published under the title of Lillie's Reports.'

As I last year presided over a court of justice, it is my intention this

year to set myself at the head of a Court of Honour. There is no court of this nature any where at present, except in France, where, according to the best of my intelligence, it consists of such only as are Marshals of that kingdom. I am likewise in. formed, that there is not one of that honourable board at present who has not been driven out of the field by the Duke of Marlborough: but whether this be only an accidental, or a necessary qualification, I must confess I am not able to determine.

As for the Court of Honour of which I am here speaking, I intend to sit myself in it as president, with several men of honour on my right hand, and women of virtue on my left, as my assistants. The first place of the bench I have given to an old


"Tatler 132.-N.

• Tatler 103. --N.

3 V. Tatler 110, and note.-N.

Tangereen captain with a wooden leg. The second is a gentleman of a long twisted periwig without a curl in it, a muff with very little hair upon it, and a threadbare coat with new buttons, being a person of great worth, and second brother to a man of quality. The third is a gentleman usher, extremely well read in romances, and grandson to one of the greatest wits in Germany, who was some time master of the ceremonies to the Duke of Wol. fembuttel.

As for those who sit further on my right hand, as it is usual in public courts, they are such as will fill up the number of faces upon the bench, and serve rather for ornament than use."

The chief upon my left hand are, an old maiden lady, that preserves some of the best blood of England in her veins.

A Welsh woman of a little stature, but high spirit.

An old prude that has censured every marriage for these thirty years, and is lately wedded to a young rake.

Having thus furnished my bench, I shall establish correspondencies with the horse-guards, and the Veterans of Chelsea-Col lege; the former to furnish me with twelve men of honour, as often as I shall have occasion for a grand jury, and the latter with as many good men and true for a petty jury.

As for the women of virtue, it will not be difficult for me to find them about midnight at crimp and basset.

Having given this public notice of my court, I must further add, that I intend to open it on this day sevennight, being Monday the twentieth instant; and do hereby invite all such as have suffered injuries and affronts, that are not to be redressed by the common laws of this land, whether they be short bows, cold salutations, supercilious looks, unreturned smiles, distant behaviour, or forced familiarity; as also all such as have been aggrieved by

This alludes to the masters in chancery, who sit on the bench with the lord chancellor sole judge of the court.-N.

any ambiguous expression, accidental justle, or unkind repartee; likewise all such as have been defrauded of their right to the wall, tricked out of the upper end of the table, or have been suffered to place themselves in their own wrong on the back-seat of the coach: these, and all of these, I do, as is above-said, invite to bring in their several cases and complaints, in which they shall be relieved with all imaginable expedition.

I am very sensible, that the office I have now taken upon me will engage me in the disquisition of many weighty points that daily perplex the youth of the British nation, and therefore I have already discussed several of them for my future use; as, How far a man may brandish his cane in the telling a story, without insulting his hearer? What degree of contradiction amounts to the lie? How a man should resent another's staring and cocking a hat in his face ? If asking pardon is an atonement for treading upon one's toes? Whether a man may put up with a box on the ear received from a stranger in the dark? Or, whether a man of honour may take a blow of his wife ? with several other subtilties of the like nature. For my

direction in the duties of my office, I have furnished myself with a certain astrological pair of scales which I have contrived for this purpose. In one of them I lay the injuries, in the other the reparations. The first are represented by little weights made of a metal resembling iron, and the other in gold. These are not only lighter than the weights made use of in Avoirdupois, but also than such as are used in Troy-weight. The heaviest of those that represent the injuries, amount to but a scruple and decrease by so many subdivisions, that there are several im perceptible weights which cannot be seen without the help of a very fine microscope. I might acquaint my reader, that these scales were made under the influence of the sun when he was in Libra, and describe many signatures on the weights both of in

« PreviousContinue »