« AnteriorContinua »
have approved of. Mr. Baker, a bookseller at Mercers Chapel, offered his Nectar and Ambrosia, " prepared from the richest spices, herbs, and flowers, and done with right French Brandy;" and declares that, "when originally invented, it was designed only for ladies' closets, to entertain visitors with, and for gentlemen's private drinking, being much used that way;" but, becoming more common, he then offered it in two-penny dram glasses, which were sold, inclosed in gilt frames, by the gallon, quart, or two-shilling bottles.
One of the customs of the Police of 1708, was the sending a Constable through the streets at night, with proper assistants, to apprehend offenders of all descriptions, but particularly idle men, who were immediately dispatched to the receptacles of this species of recruits for her Majesty's service; but it was a hazardous employment; and one of those peace-officers, named Dent, lost his life in endeavouring to convey a woman to Covent-garden watch-house, by the cuts and stabs of three soldiers, who were all seized, and committed to Newgate. The above Mr. John Dent was buried at St. Clement's Danes, March 24, 1708-9, when a Sermon was pronounced by Thomas Bray, D. D. Minister of St. Botolph, Aldgate, and afterwards published under the title of "The good Fight of Faith, in the cause of God, against the Kingdom of Satan,"
by desire of the Justices and the Societies for the Reformation of Manners, who were present at the solemnity.
Mrs. Crackenthorpe, the Female Tatler of 1709, justly reprehends the practice of pewopening for money during Divine service; and thus describes "A set of gentlemen that are called Sermon-tasters: They peep in at 20 different churches in a service, which gives disturbance to those united in devotion; where, instead of attention, they stare about, make some ridiculous observations, and are gone." And the same lady informs us that the fashionable young men were quite as much at a loss how to kill time as those of the present day; they played at quoits, ninepins, threw at cocks, wrestled, and rowed upon the Thames. Nor were ridiculous wagers unknown: they betted upon the Walking Dutchman; and Mrs. C. adds, that "four worthy Senators lately threw their hats into a river, laid a crown each whose hat should swim first to the mill, and ran hallooing after them; and he that won the prize was in a greater rapture than if he had carried the most dangerous point in Parliament."
To this voluble Tatler I am indebted for an illustration of the manners of the male shopmen of 1709; and I will consent to be accounted an ignoramus if it can be proved that the shopmen of 1809 are not an improved race. "This after
noon some ladies, having an opinion of my fancy in clothes, desired me to accompany them to Ludgate-hill, which I take to be as agreeable an amusement as a lady can pass away three or four hours in. The shops are perfect gilded theatres, the variety of wrought silks so many changes of fine scenes, and the Mercers are the performers in the Opera; and, instead of vivitur ingenio, you have in gold capitals, No trust by retail. They are the sweetest, fairest, nicest, dished-out creatures; and, by their elegant address and soft speeches, you would guess them to be Italians. As people glance within their doors, they salute them with-Garden-silks, ladies Italian silks, brocades, tissues, cloth of silver, or cloth of gold, very fine mantua silks, any right Geneva velvet, English velvet, velvet embossed. And to the meaner sort-Fine thread satins both striped and plain, fine mohair silk, satinnets, burdets, Persianets, Norwich crapes, anterines, silks for hoods and scarves, hair camlets, druggets, or sagathies, gentlemen's night-gowns ready made, shallons, durances, and right Scotch plaids.
"We went into a shop which had three partners: two of them were to flourish out their silks ; and, after an obliging smile and a pretty mouth made, Cicero like, to expatiate on their goodness; and the other's sole business was to be gentleman usher of the shop, to stand completely
dressed at the door, bow to all the coaches that pass by, and hand ladies out and in.
"We saw abundance of gay fancies, fit for Sea-captains' wives, Sheriffs' feasts, and Tauntondean ladies. This, Madam, is wonderful charming. This, Madam, is so diverting a silk. This, Madam-my stars! how cool it looks! But this, Madam-ye Gods! would I had 10,000 yards of it! Then gathers up a sleeve, and places it to our shoulders. It suits your Ladyship's face wonderfully well. When we had pleased ourselves, and bid him ten shillings a-yard for what he asked fifteen; Fan me, ye winds, your Ladyship rallies me! Should I part with it at such a price, the Weavers would rise upon the very shop. Was you at the Park last night, Madam? Your ladyship shall abate me sixpence. Have you read the Tatler to-day?' &c.
"These fellows are positively the greatest fops in the Kingdom; they have their toilets and their fine night-gowns; their chocolate in the morning, and their green tea two hours after; turkey-polts for their dinner; and their perfumes, washes, and clean linen, equip them for the Parade."
It is not improbable that many of those effeminate drivelers composed part at least of the various Clubs held at different Taverns: the Beaux was an attractive title for them; and if they were not Virtuoso's, the Beefsteak had irre
sistible charms; besides, they had the choice of many others, such as the Kit-cat, Knights of the Golden-fleece, Florists, Quacks, &c. &c. which were supplied by no less than fifty-five newspapers weekly.
The Fashionables of 1709 dined by candle-light, and visited on Sundays; and their footmen announced them in the same ridiculous manner upon the doors of their friends as at present. A quotation from the Tatler will confirm this assertion: "A very odd fellow visited me to-day at my lodgings, and desired encouragement and recommendation from me for a new invention of knockers to doors, which he told me he had made, and professed to teach rustic servants the use of them. I desired him to shew me an experiment of this invention; upon which he fixed one of his knockers to my parlour-door. He then gave me a complete set of knocks, from the solitary rap of the dun and beggar, to the thunderings of the saucy footmen of quality, with several flourishes and rattlings never yet performed. He likewise played over some private notes, distinguishing the familiar friend or relation from the most modish visitor, and directing when the reserve candles are to be lighted. He has several other curiosities in this art. He waits only to receive my approbation of the main design. He is now ready to practise to such as