Page images
PDF
EPUB

town. It was urged in the behalf of the defendant, that the plaintiff had never given her any regular potice of her being in town; that the visit she al. leged had been made on Monday, which she knew was a day on which Mrs. Flambeau was always abroad, having set aside that only day in the week to mind the affairs of her family: that the servant, who inquired whether she was at home, did not give the visiting-knock; that it was not between the hours of five and eight in the evening; that there were no candles lighted up: that it was not op Mrs. Flambeau's day; and, in short, that there was not one of the essential points observed that constitute a visit. She further proved by her porter's book, which was produced in court, that she had paid the lady Townly a visit on the twen. ty-fourth day of March, just before her leaving the town, in the year seventeen hundred and nine.ten* for which she was still creditor to the said lady Townly. To this the plaintiff only replied, that she was now under covert, and not liable to any debts contracted when she was a single woman. Mr. Bickerstaff finding the cause to be very intricate, and that several points of honour were likely to arise in it, he deferred giving judgment upon it until the next session day, at which time he ordered the ladies on his left-hand to present to the court a table of all the laws relating to visits.

Winifred Leer brought her action against Richard Sly for having broken a marriage-contract, and wedded another woman, after he had engaged him

* Not Nineteen, but on the very last day of 1709-10. It was a nice point, for, according to the manner of reckoning at that time, the year 1710 began on the day following, that is, on the 25th of March.

self to marry the said Winifred Leer. She alleged, that he had ogled her twice at the opera, thrice in St. James's church, and once at Powel's puppet. show, at which time he promised her marriage by a side-glance, as her friend could testify that sat by her. Mr. Bickerstaff finding that the de. fendant had made no further overture of love or marriage, but by looks and ocular engagement; yet at the same time considering how very apt such impudent seducers are to lead the ladies hearts astray, ordered the criminal “ to stand upon the stage in the Hay-market, between each act of the next opera, there to be exposed to public view as a false ogler."

Upon the rising of the court, Mr. Bickerstaff having taken one of these counterfeits in the very fact, as he was ogling a lady of the grand jury, ordered him to be seized, and prosecuted upon the statute of ogling. He likewise directed the clerk of the court to draw up an edict against these com. mon cheats, that make women believe they are distracted for them, by staring them out of countenance, and often blast a lady's reputation whom they never spoke to, by saucy looks and distant familia. rities.

N° 263. THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1710.

Minimg contentos nocte Britannos. JUV. Sat. ii. 161.
Britons contented with the shortest night.

From my own apartment, December 13. An old friend of mine beiog lately come to town, I went to see him on Tuesday last about eight o'clock in the evening, with a design to sit with him an hour or two, and talk over old stories; but, upon inquiry after him, I found he was gone to-bed. The next morning, as soon as I was up and dressed, and had dispatched a little business, I came again to my friend's house about eleven o'clock, with a design to renew my visit: but, upon asking for him, his servant told me he was just sat down to dinner. In short, I found that my old fashioned friend religiously adhered to the example of bis forefathers, and observed the same hours that had been kept in the family ever since the Conquest.

It is very plain, that the night was much longer formerly in this island than it is at present. By the night, I mean that portion of time which nature has thrown into darkness, and which the wisdom of mankind bad formerly dedicated to rest and silence. This used to begin at eight o'clock in the evening, and conclude at six in the morning. The curfeu, or eight o'clock bell, was the signal throughout the nation for putting out their candles and going tobed.

Our grandmothers, though they were wont to sit up the last in the family, were all of them fast asleep at the same hours that their daughters are busy at crimp and basset. Modern ştatesmen are concerting schemes, and engaged in the depth of politics, at the time when their forefathers were laid down quietly to rest, and had nothing in their heads but dreams. As ve have thus thrown business and pleasure into the hours of rest, and by that means made the natural night but half as long as it should be, we are forced to piece it out with a great part of the morning; so that near two-thirds of the nation lie fast asleep for several hours in broad day-light. This irregularity is grown so very fashionable at present, that there is scarce a lady of quality in Great. Britain that ever saw the sun rise. And, if the humour increases in proportion to what it has done of late years, it is not impossible but our children may hear the bell-man going about the streets at nine o'clock in the morning, and the watch making their rounds until even. This unaccountable disposition in mankind to continue awake in the night, and sleep in the sun shine, has made me inquire, whether the same change of inclination has happened to any other animals? For this reason, I desired a friend of mine in the country to let me know, whether the lark rises as early as he did formerly; and whether the cock begins to crow at his usual hour? My friend has answered ine, “ that his poultry are as regular as eper, and that all the birds and beasts of his neighbourhood keep the same hours that they bave observed in the memory of man; and the same which, in all probability, they bave kept for these five thousand years.”

If you would see the innovations that have been made among us in this particular, you may only

look into the hours of colleges, where they still dine at eleven, and sup at six, which were doubtless the hours of the whole nation at the time when those places were founded. But at present, the courts of justice are scarce opened in Westminster-hall at the time when William Rufus used to go to dinner in it. All business is driven forward. The landmarks of our fathers, if I may so call them, are removed, and planted further up into the day; inso. much, that I am afraid our clergy will be obliged, if they expect full congregations, not to look any more upon ten o'clock in the morning as a canonical hour. In my own memory, the dinner has crept by degrees from twelve o'clock to three, and where it will fix nobody knows.

I have sometimes thought to draw up a memorial in the behalf of Supper against Dinner, setting forth, that the said Dinner has made several in. croachments upon the said Supper, and entered very far upon his frontiers ; that he has banished him out of several families, and in all has driven him from his head quarters, and forced him to make his retreat into the hours of midnight; and, in ' short, that he is now in danger of being entirely confounded, and lost in a breakfast. Those who have read Lucian, and seen the complaints of the letter T against S, upon account of many injuries and usurpations of the same nature, will not, I believe, think such a memorial forced and unnatural. If dinner has been thus postponed, or, if you please, kept back from time to time, you may be sure that it has been in compliance with the other business of the day, and that supper has still observed a proportionable distance. There is a venerable proverb which we have all of us heard iu our infancy, of “ putting the children to-bed, and laying the goose

« PreviousContinue »