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No. CXLIV. SATURDAY, MARCH 11.
Sheer-lane, March 10. IN a nation of liberty, there is hardly a person in the whole mass of the people more absolutely necessary than a censor. It is allowed, that I have no authority for assuming this important appellation, and that I am censor of these nations just as one is chosen king at the game of questions and commands : but if, in the execution of this fantastical dignity, I observe upon things which do not fall within the cognizance of real authority, I hope it will be granted, that an idle man could not be more usefully employed. Among all the irregularities of which I have taken notice, I know none so proper to be presented to the world by a censor, as that of the general expence and affectation in equipage. I have lately hinted, that this extravagance must necessarily get footing where we have no sumptuary laws, and where every man may be dressed, attended, and carried, in what manner he pleases. But my tenderness to my fellow-subjects will not permit me to let this enormity go unobserved.
As the matter now stands, every man takes it in his head, that he has a liberty to spend his money as he pleases. Thus, in spite of all order, justice and decorum, we, the greater number of the queen's loyal subjects, for no reason in the world, but because we want money, do not share alike in the division of her majesty's high road. The horses and slaves of the rich take up the whole street, while we peripatetics a e very glad to watch an opportunity to whisk cross? passage, very thankful that we are not run over for interrupting the machine, that carries in it a person neither more handsome, wise, or valiant, than the meanest of us. For this reason, were I to propose a tax, it should certainly be upon coaches and chairs; for
no man living can assign a reason, why one man should have half a street to carry him at his ease, and perhaps only in pursuit of pleasures, when as good a man as himself wants room for his own person to pass upon the most necessary and urgert occasion. Till such an acknowledgment is made to the public, I shall take upon me to vest certain rights in the scavengers of the cities of London and Westminster, to take the horses and servants of all such as do not become or deserve such distinctions, into their peculiar custody. The offenders themselves I shall allow safe conduct to their places of abode in the carts of the said scavengers, but their horses shall be mounted by their footmen, and sent into the service abroad : and I take this opportunity in the first place to recruit the regiment of my good old friend the brave and honest Sylvius, that they be as well taught as they are fed.
It is to me most miraculous, so unreasonable an usurpation as this I am speaking of, should so long have been tolerated. We hang a poor fellow for taking any trifle from us on the road, and bear with the rich for robbing us of the road itself. Such a tax as this would be of great satisfaction to us who walk on foot; and since the distinction of riding in a coach is not to be appointed according to a man's merit or service to his country, por that liberty given as a reward for some eminent virtue, we should be highly contented to see them pay something for the insult they do us in the state they take upon them while they are drawn by
Till they have made us some reparation of this kind, we the peripatetics of Great-Britain cannot think our. selves well trcated, while every one that is able is allowed to set up an equipage.
As for my part, I cannot but admire how persons, conscious to themselves of no manner of superiority above others, can out of mere pride or laziness expose themselves at this rate to public view and put us all
upon pronouncing those three terrible syllables, “Who (is that?” When it comes io that cuestion, our method is to consider the mien and air of the passenger, and comfort curselves for being dirty to the ancles, by laughing at his figure and appearance who overlooks us. I must confess, were it not for the solid injustice of the thing, there is nothing could afford a discerning eye greater occasion for mirth, than this licentious huddle of qualities and characters in the equipages about this town. The overseers of the highways and constables have so little skill or power to rectify this matter, that you may often see the equipage of a fellow, whom all the town know to deserve hanging, make a stop that shall interrupt the lord high chancellor, and all the judges in their way to Westminster.
For the better understanding of things and persons in this general confusion, I have given directions to all the coach-makers and coach-painters in town, to bring me in lists of their several customers; and doubt not, but with comparing the orders of each man, in the placing his arms on the door of his chariot, az well as the words, devices, and cyphers to be fixed upon them, to make a collection which shall let us into the nature, if not the history, of mankind, more usefully than the curiosities of any medalist in Europe.
But this evil of vanity in our figure, with many others, proceeds from a certain gaiety of heart, which has crept into men's very thoughts and complexions. The passions and adventures of heroes, when they enter the lists for the tournament in romances, are not more easily distirguishable by their palfreys, and their armour, than the secret springs and affections of the several pretenders to show amongst us are known by their equipages in ordinary life. The young bridegroom with his gilded cupids, and winged angels, has some excuse in the joy of his heart to launch out into
something that may be significant of his present happiness: but to see men, for no reason upon earth but that they are rich, ascend triumphant chariots, and ride through the people, has at the bottom nothing else in it but an insolent transport, arising only from the distinction of fortune.
It is therefore high time that I call in such coaches as are in their embellishments improper for the character of their owners. But if I find I am not obeyed herein, and that I cannot pull down those equipages already erected, I shall take upon me to prevent the growth of this evil for the future, hy enquiring into the pretensions of the persons who shall hereafter attempt to make public entries with ornaments and decorations of their own appointment. If a man, who believed he had the handsomest leg in this kingdom, should take a fancy to adoro so deserving a limb with a blue garter, he would justly be punished for offend. ing against the most noble order: and, I think, the general prostitution of equipage and retinue is as destructive to all distinction, as the impertinence of one man, if permitted, would certainly be to that illustrious fraternity.
ADVERTISEMENT. The Censor having lately received intelligence, “ that the ancient simplicity in the dress and man“ ners of that part of this island, called Scotland,
begins to decay; and that there are at this time, in “ the good town of Edinburgh, beaux, fops, and cox“ combs : his late correspondent from that place is « desired to send up their names and characters with “ all expedition, that they may be proceeded against si accordingly, and proper officers named to take in “ their canes, snuff-boxes, and all other useless arti“cles commonly worn by such offenders.".
No. CXLV. TUESDAY, MARCH 14.
Nescio quis teneros oculis mihi fascinat agnos.
White's Chocolate-house, March 13. THIS evening was allotted for taking into consideration a late request of two indulgent parents, touching the care of a young daughter, whom they design to send to a boarding-school, or keep at home, according to my determination ; but I am diverted from that subject by letters which I have received from several ladies, complaining of a certain sect of professed enemies to the repose of the fair sex, called oglers. These are, it seems, gentlemen who look with deep attention on one object at the play-houses, and are ever staring all round them in churches. It is urged by my correspondents, that they do all that is possible to keep their eyes off these ensnarers; but that, by what power they know not, both their diversions and devotions are interrupted by them in such a manner, as they cannot attend to either, without stealing looks at the persons whose cyes are fixed upon them. By this means, my pctitioners say, they find themselves grow insensibly less offended, and in time enamoured of these their enemies. What is required of me on this occasion, is, that as I love anıl study to preserve the better part of mankind, the females, I would give them some account of this dangerous way of assault, against which there is so little defence, that it lays ambush for the sight itsclf, and makes them seemingly, knowingly, willingly, and forcibly go on to their own captivity.
This representation of the present state of affairs between the two sexes gave me very much alarm; and I had no more to do, but to recollect what I had seen at any one assembly for some years last past, to be convinced of the truth and justice of this remon