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London Tatler Newspaper Archive: August 16, 1709 - Page 1

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Publication: London Tatler

Location: London, Middlesex

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   London Tatler (Newspaper) - August 16, 1709, London, Middlesex                                ATL By Ifaac "Bickerftaff Efq5 Quicquid aguni Homines noftri Farrago LibeUL From Tuefday Augujl 16. to Thurfdaj Auguft 18. 1709. White's Chocolate-houfe^ Auguft iy, THERE is a young Foreigner committed to my Care, who puzzles me extremely in the Queftions he asks a-bout the Perlbns of Figure we meet in Publick Places.   He has but very little of our Language, and therefore I am mightily at a Lofs to exprefs to him Things, for which they have no Word in that Tongue to which he was born.   It has been often my Anfwer upon his asking, Who luch a fine Gentleman is ? That he is what we call a Sharper, and he wants my Explication.   I thought it would be very uniuit to tell him, he is the lame the French call Coquin ; the Latins, Nehulo; or the Greeks, iw^a : For as Cuftom is the molt powerful of all Laws, and that the Order of Mcq we call Sharpers are receiv'd amongft us, not only with Permiihon, but Favour, I thought it unjuSt to uie !em like Perlons upon no Eftablifh-inent.   Betides that, it would be an unpardonable Diihonour to our Country, to let him leave us with an Opinion, tiiat our Nobility and Gentry kept Company with common Thiefs and Cheats ; I told him, they were a Sort of tame Huflars that were allow d in our Cities, like the wild ones in Dur Camp, who had all the Privileges belonging to us; but at the lame Time were not ty'd to our Diicipline or Laws.   Aletheas, who is a Gentleman of too much Virtue for the Age he lives in, would not let this Matter be thus palliated, but told my Pupil, That he was to underhand, that Distinction, Quality, M&rit, and Indu/fry, were laid afide amongit us by the Incurfions of thele civil Huflars, oho had got lo much Countenance, that the Breeding and Fafhicn of the Age turn'd their Way to the Ruin of Order and Oeconomy in all Places v. here they are admitted.   But Sopbronins, who never rails into Heat upon any Subject, but applies propc Language, Temper, and Skill, with which the Thing "111 Debate is to be treated, told the Youth, that. Gentleman had lpoken nothing, but what was literally true ; but fell upon it with too much EameStneis tc give a true Idea of that Sort of People he was declaiming againfi, or to remedy the Evil which he bewail'd : For the Acceptance of thele Men being an 111 which had crept into the Cc nverlation-Part or' our Lives, and not into our Constitution it ieif, it mult be corrected where it began, and coniequently is to be amended only by bringing Raillery and Denfion upon the Perlons who are guilty, or cenverie with'em.  For the Sharpers (continued he) at prefent are not as formerly, under the Acceptation of Pick-pockets; 3Ut are by Cuftcm erected into a real and venera-ile Body of Men, and have iubdu'd us to lo very particulars Deference to them, that tho' they are tnown to be Men without Honour or Conlcience, 10 Demand is call'd a Debt of Honour io indii-jutably as theirs.  You may loie your Honour to them, but they Jay none againlt you : As the Prieft-hood in Roman Catholick Countries can purchaie what they pleafe for the Church, but they can alienate nothing from it.  It is from this Toleration, that Sharpers are to be found among all Sorts of Af-iemblies and Companies, and every Talent amongft Men is made Uie of by fome one or other of the Society for the Good of their Common Caufe s So that an unexperienced young Gentleman is as often enfnar'd by his Understanding as his Folly �. For who could be unmov'd, to hear the eloquent Dromio explain the Constitution, talk in the Key of Cato, with the Severity of one of the ancient Sages, and debate the greateft Question of State in a common Chocolate or Coffee-houie.   Who. could, I ia\, hear this generous Declamator, without being nVd at his noble Zea!, and becoming his profefs'd Follower, if he might be admitted.   MomchIuSs Gravity would be no lets inviting to a Beginner in Conversation, and the Snare of his Eloquence would equally catch one who had never ieen on old Gentleman io very wife, and yet io little fevere.   Many other Instances of extraordinary Men among the Brotherhood might be produe'd; but every Man who knows the Town, can lupply himielf with iuch Examples without their being nam'd. Will. fafer ,-who is skilful at finding out the ridiculous Side of a Thing, and placing it in a new nnd^ proper Light, (tho3 he very leldom talks) thought fit to enter into this Subjects He has lately loft certain loole Sums, which halt the Income of his Eltate will bring in within Seven Years: Be fides which, he propoles to marry to let all right.   He was therefore indolent enough to fpeak of this Matter with great Impartiality.   When I look round me, laid this eafy Gentleman, and confider in a iult Ballance us Bubbles, Elder Brothers, whole Support our dull Fathers contrived to depend upon certain Acres; with the Rocks, whole Ancettors left them the wide World; I cannot but admire their Fraternity, and contemn my own.   Is not Jack Heyday much to be preferfd to the Knight he has bubbled. Jack has his Equipage, his Wenches, and his Followers : The Knight lo far from a Retinue, that he is almolt one of Jack's.   However he is gay, you fee, itill; a liorid Out-fide- His Habit i'peaks the Man-- And Since he mult unbutton, he would not be reduced outwardly, but is ifripp'd to his upper Coat.   But tho' I have great Temptation to it, I will not at this Time give die History of the lofmg Side, but Speak the Effefts of my Thoughts, Since the Lofs of my Money, upon the gaining People.   This ill Fortune makes molt Men contemplative and given to Reading ; at lea St it has luppcn'd io to me : and the Rile and Fall of the Family of Sharpers m all Ages has been my Contemplation. 1 hnd all Times have had of this People : Homer, in his excellent Heroick Poem, calls 'em Mym:i.ions, who were a Body who kept among themiclves, and had nothing; to lole ; therefore never ipared cither Greek or Iro- jan, when they fell in their W upon a Partv. But   

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