Page images


the balls of thread which had caused the disturbance being thrown into the kitchen fire, which I was very glad to hear.

I have several times in your paper seen reflections upon us women for idleness and extravagance, but I do not remember to have once seen such animadversions upon the men. If we were disposed to be censorious, we could furnish you with instances enough. I might mention Mr. Billiard, who loses more than he earns at the green table, and would have been in jail long since, had it not been for his industrious wife. Mr. Hustlecap, who, every market-day at least, and often all day long, leaves his business for the rattling of half-pence, in a certain alley; or Mr. Finikin, who has seven different suits of fine clothes, and wears a change every day, while his wife and children sit at home half naked; Mr. Crownhim, always dreaming over the chequer-board, and who cares not how the world goes with his family, so he does but get the game ; Mr. Totherpot, the tavern-haunter ; Mr. Bookish, the everlasting reader; Mr. Tweedledum, and several others, who are mighty diligent at any thing besides their

proper business. I if I were disposed to be censorious, I might mention all these and more, but I hate to be thought a scandalizer of my neighbours, and therefore forbear; and for your part, I would advise you for the future to entertain your readers with something else, besides people's reflections upon one another; for remember, that there are holes enough to be picked in your coat, as well as others, and those that are affronted by the satire that you may publish, will not consider so much who wrote as who printed, and treat you accordingly. Take not this freedom amiss from

Your friend and reader,




MR. GAZETTEER, I was highly pleased with your last week's paper upon SCANDAL, as the uncommon doctrine therein preached is agreeable both to my principles and practice, and as it was published very seasonably to reprove the impertinence of a writer in the foregoing Thursday's Mercury, who, at the conclusion of one of his silly paragraphs, laments forsooth, that the fair sex are so peculiarly guilty of this enormous crime. Every blockhead, ancient and modern, that could handle a pen, has, I think, taken upon him to cant in the same senseless strain. If to scandalize be really a crime, what do these puppies mean? They describe it, they dress it up in the most odious, frightful, and detestable colors, they represent it as the worst of crimes, and then roundly and charitably charge the whole race of womankind with it. Are not they then guilty of what they condemn, at the same time that they condemn it? If they accuse us of any other crime, they must necessarily scandalize while they do it; but to scandalize us with being guilty of scandal, is in itself an egregious absurdity, and can proceed from nothing but the most consummate impudence in conjunction with the most profound stupidity.

This supposing, as they do, that to scandalize is a crime, you have convinced all reasonable people is an opinion absolutely erroneous. Let us leave, then, these select mock-moralists, while I entertain you with some account of my life and manners.

I am a young girl of about thirty-five, and live at present with my mother.

I have no care upon my head of getting a living, and therefore find it my duty, as well as inclination, to exercise my talent at censure, for the good of my country-folks. There was, I am told, a certain generous emperor, who, if a day had passed over his head in which he had conferred no benefit on any man, used to say to his friends, in Latin, Diem perdidi, that is, it seems, I have lost a day. I believe I should make use of the same expression, if it were possible for a day to pass in which I had not, or missed, an opportunity to scandalize somebody; but, thanks be praised, no such misfortune has befell me these dozen years.

Yet, whatever good I may do, I cannot pretend that I at first entered into the practice of this virtue from a principle of public spirit; for I remember, that, when a child, I had a violent inclination to be ever talking in my own praise; and being continually told that it was ill manners, and once severely whipped for it, the confined stream formed for itself a new channel, and I began to speak for the future in the dispraise of others. This I found more agreeable to company, and almost as much so to myself; for what great difference can there be between putting yourself up, or putting your neighbour down? Scandal, like other virtues, is in part its own reward, as it gives us the satisfaction of making ourselves appear better than others, or others no better than ourselves.

My mother, good woman, and I have heretofore differed upon this account. She argued, that scandal spoilt all good conversation; and I insisted, that without it there would be no such thing. Our disputes once rose so high, that we parted tea-tables, and I concluded to entertain my acquaintance in the kitchen. The first day of this separation we both drank tea at the same time, but she with her visitors in the parlour. She would not hear of the least objection to any one's character, but began a new sort of discourse in some such queer philosophical manner as this; “I am mightily pleased sometimes,” says she, “when

“ when I observe and consider, that the world is not so bad as people out of humor imagine it to be. There is something amiable, some good quality or other, in every body. If we were only to speak of people, that are least respected, there is such a one is very dutiful to her father, and methinks has a fine set of teeth ; such a one is very respectful to her husband; such a one is very kind to her poor neighbours, and besides has a very handsome shape; such a one is always ready to serve a friend, and, in my opinion, there is not a woman in town, that has a more agreeable air or gait.” This fine kind of talk, which lasted near half an hour, she concluded by saying, “I do not doubt but every one of you has made the like observations, and I should be glad to have the conversation continued upon this subject.” Just at this juncture I peeped in' at the door, and never in my life before saw such a set of simple, vacant countenances. They looked somehow neither glad nor sorry, nor angry nor pleased, nor indifferent nor attentive ; but (excuse the simile) like so many images of ryedough. I, in the kitchen, had already begun a ridiculous story of Mr. —'s intrigue with his maid, and his wife's behaviour on the discovery ; at some of the passages we laughed heartily; and one of the gravest of mamma's company, without making any answer to her discourse, got up to go and see what the girls were so merry about. She was followed by a second, and shortly by a third, till at last the old gentlewoman found herself quite alone, and, being convinced that her project was impracticable, came herself and finished her tea with us; ever since which Saul also has been among the prophets, and our disputes lie dormant.



By industry and application, I have made myself the centre of all the scandal in the province. There is little stirring, but I hear of it. I began the world with this maxim, that no trade can subsist without returns; and, accordingly, whenever I received a good story, I endeavoured to give two or a better in the room of it. My punctuality in this way of dealing gave such encouragement, that it has procured me an incredible deal of business, which without diligence and good method it would be impossible for me to go through. For, besides the stock of defamation thus naturally flowing in upon me, I practise an art, by which I can pump scandal out of people that are the least inclined that way. Shall I discover my secret? Yes; to let it die with me would be inhuman. If I have never heard ill of some person, I always impute it to defective intelligence; for there are none without their faults, no, not one. If she be a woman, I take the first opportunity to let all her acquaintance know I have heard, that one of the handsomest or best men in town has said something in praise either of her beauty, her wit, her virtue, or her good management. If you know any thing of human nature, you perceive that this naturally introduces a conversation turning upon all her failings, past, present, and to come. To the same purpose, and with the same success, I cause every man of reputation to be praised before his competitors in love, business, or esteem, on account of any particular qualification. Near the times of election, if I find it necessary, I commend every candidate before some of the opposite party, listening attentively to what is said of him in answer. But commendations in this latter case are not always necessary, and should be used judiciously. Of late years, I needed only observe what they said of one another freely; and having, for the help of memory, taken ac

« EelmineJätka »