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of old) are dubbed gentlemen on the shoulder; with this only difference, that instead of the sword, the ceremony is performed by a brown musket.
Upon these and many other weighty considerations, I have resolved not to disturb the tranquillity of the polite world, by railing at their darling vices. A Censor may endeavour to new-cock a hat, to raise the stays, or write down the short petticoat, at his pleasure. Persons of quality will vary fashions of themselves, but will always adhere steadily to their vices. I have besides received several letters from surgeons and younger brothers, desiring me to promote as far as lays in my power the modern way of life, and especially the practice of duelling. The former open their case in the most pathetic terms, and assure me that if it was not for duels, and the amorous rencounters of fine gentlemen with the other sex, their profession would scarce support them. As to the young gentlemen, they inveigh bitterly against the unequal distribution of property by the laws of England, and offer me very considerable bribes, if I will espouse the cause of duels and debauchery; without which, they scarce have any tolerable chance of coming in for the family estate.
Swift somewhere observes, that these differences very rarely happen among men of sense, and he does not see any great harm, if two worthless fellows send each other out of the world. I shall therefore humbly propose, the more effectually to keep up this spirit, that duels may be included in the licence-act among our other public diversions, with a restraining clause, taking away all power from the justices to prohibit these entertainments. I would also propose, for the better accommodation of the public, that scaf folds be erected behind Montague House, or in any other convenient place, as there are now at Tyburn; and that, whenever any two gentlemen quarrel, they shall insert their challenges in the daily papers, after
the following manner, in imitation of the late champions at Broughton's amphitheatre.
I John Mac-Duel, having been affronted by Richard Flash, hereby challenge him to meet me behind Montague House on the day of through all the exercise of the small sword; to advance, retire, parry and thrust in Carte, Tierce, and Segoon, and to take my life, or lose his own.
I Richard Flash, who have spitted many such dastardly fellows on my sword like larks, promise to meet John Mac-Duel, and doubt not, by running him through the body, to give him gentleman-like satisfaction.
By this scheme, the public would have an oppor. tunity of being present at these fashionable amuse. ments, and might revive that lost species of gaming (so much lamented in our last paper) by laying bets on the issue of the combat.
It should also be provided, that if either or both are killed, the body or bodies are to be delivered to the surgeons to be anatomized and placed in their hall; unless the younger brother or next heir shall give them an equivalent.
It should also be provided by the above-mentioned act, that no person be qualified to fight a duel, who is not worth 500l. per annum. For as it is unsportsman-like to admit dunghill cocks into the pit, so it would render this inestimable privilege less valuable, if every mean wretch had a right of being run through the body, who could do the public no service by his death.
A plain blunt fellow, who, like scented beaux,
TO MR. TOWN.
I KNOW not whether you yourself are addicted to a filthy practice, which is frequent among all ranks of people, though detestable even among the lowest. The practice I mean is that of snuff-taking; which I cannot help regarding as a national plague, that, like another epidemical distemper has taken hold of our noses. You authors may perhaps claim it as a privilege, since snuff is supposed by you to whet the invention, and every one is not possessed of Bayes's admirable receipt, the "spirit of brains :"....but give me leave to tell you, that snuff should no more be administered in public, than that of Major's medicinal composition at four-pence a pinch, or any other dose of physic. I know not why people should be allowed to annoy their friends and acquaintance by smearing their noses with a dirty powder, any more than in using an eye-water, or rubbing their teeth with a dentrifice.
If a stranger to this nasty custom was to observe almost every one drawing out his pouncet-box, and ever and anon giving it to his nose," he would be led to conclude, that we were no better than a nation of Hottentots; and that every one was obliged to cram his nostrils with a quantity of scented dirt, to fence them against the disagreeable effluvia of the rest of the company. Indeed, it might not be absurd in such a stranger to imagine that the person he conversed with took snuff, for the same reason that another
might press his nostrils together between his finger and thumb, to exclude an ill smell.
It is customary among those polite people the Dutch, to carry with them every where their short dingy pipes, and smoke and spit about a room even in the presence of ladies. This piece of good-breeding, however ridiculous it may seem, is surely not more offensive to good manners than the practice of snuff-taking. A very Dutchman would think it odd, that a people, who pretend to politeness, should be continually snuffing up a parcel of tobacco-dust; nor can I help laughing, when I see a man every minute stealing out a dirty muckender, then sneaking it in again, as much ashamed of his pocket-companion, as he would be to carry a dishclout about him.
It is, indeed impossible to go into any large company without being disturbed by this abominable practice. The church and the playhouse continually echo with this music of the nose, and in every corner you may hear them in concert snuffling, sneezing, hawking, and grunting like a drove of hogs. The most pathetic speech in a tragedy has been interrupted by the blowing of noses in the front and side-boxes; and I have known a whole congregation suddenly raised from their knees in the middle of a prayer by the violent coughing of an old lady, who has been almost choaked by a pinch of snuff in giving vent to an ejaculation. A celebrated actor has spoiled his voice by this absurd treatment of his nose, which has made his articulation as dull and drowsy as the hum of a bag-pipe; and the parson of our parish is often forced to break off in the middle of a period, to snort behind his white handkerchief.
Is it not a wonder, Mr. Town, that snuff, which is certainly an enemy to dress, should yet gain admittance among those, who have no other merit than their cloaths? I am not to be told, that your men of fashion take snuff only to display a white hand perhaps,
or the brilliancy of a diamond ring: and I am confident, that numbers would never have defiled them. selves with the use of snuff, had they not been seduced by the charms of a fashionable box. The man of taste takes his Strasburg, veritable tabac from a right Paris paper-box; and the pretty-fellow uses an enamelled box lined in the inside with polished metal, that by often opening it, he may have the opportunity of stealing a glance at his own sweet person, reflected in the lid of it.
Though I abhor snuff-taking myself, and would as soon be smothered in a cloud raised by smoking tobacco, as I would willingly suffer the least atom of it to tickle my nose, yet am I exposed to many disgusting inconveniences from the use of it by others. Sometimes I am choaked by drawing in with my breath some of the finest particles together with the air; and I am frequently set a sneezing by the odorous effluvia arising from the boxes that surround me. But it is not only my sense of smelling that is offended: you will stare when I tell you, that I am forced to taste, and even to eat and drink this abominable snuff. If I drink tea with a certain lady, I generally perceive what escapes from her fingers swimming at the top of my cup; but it is always attributed to the foulness of the milk or dross of the sugar. I never dine at a particular friend's house, but I am sure to have as much rappee as pepper with my turnips; nor can I drink my table-beer out of the same mug with him, for fear of coughing from his snuff, if not the liquor, going the wrong way. Such eternal snuff-takers as my friend, should, I think, at mealtimes, have a screen flapping down over the nose and mouth, under which they might convey their food, as you may have seen at the masquerade: or at least they should be separated from the rest of the company, and placed by themselves at the side-table, like the children.