To the SPECTATOR-GENERAL of Great Britain.
From the farther end of the Widow's Coffee-house in Devereaux Court, Monday Evening, twenty eight Minutes and a Half past Six.
'In short, to use no further Preface, if I should tell you that I have seen a Hackney-Coachman, when he has come to set down his Fare, which has consisted of two or three very fine Ladies, hand them out, and salute every one of them with an Air of Familiarity, without giving the least Offence, you would perhaps think me guilty of a Gasconade. But to clear my self from that Imputation, and to explain this Matter to you, I assure you that there are many Illustrious Youths within this City, who frequently recreate themselves by driving of a Hackney-Coach: But those whom, above all others, I would recommend to you, are the young Gentlemen belonging to our Inns of Court. We have, I think, about a dozen Coachmen, who have Chambers here in the Temple; and as it is reasonable to believe others will follow their Example, we may perhaps in time (if it shall be thought convenient) be drove to Westminster by our own Fraternity, allowing every fifth Person to apply his Meditations in this way, which is but a modest Computation, as the Humour is now likely to take. It is to be hop'd likewise, that there are in the other Nurseries of the Law to be found a proportionable number of these hopeful Plants, springing up to the everlasting Renown of their native Country. Of how long standing this Humour has been, I know not; the first time I had any particular Reason to take notice of it, was about this time twelvemonth, when being upon Hampstead-Heath with some of these studious young Men, who went thither purely for the Sake of Contemplation, nothing would serve them but I must go thro' a Course of this Philosophy too; and being ever willing to embelish my self with any commendable Qualification, it was not long e'er they persuaded me into the Coach-box; nor indeed much longer, before I underwent the Fate of my Brother Phaeton, for having drove about fifty Paces with pretty good Success, through my own natural Sagacity, together with the good Instructions of my Tutors, who, to give them their due, were on all Hands encouraging and assisting me in this laudable Undertaking; I say, Sir, having drove about fifty Paces with pretty good Success, I must needs be exercising the Lash, which the Horses resented so ill from my Hands, that they gave a sudden Start, and thereby pitched me directly upon my Head, as I very well remembered about Half an Hour afterwards, which not only deprived me of all the Knowledge I had gain'd for fifty Yards before, but had like to have broken my Neck into the Bargain. After such a severe Reprimand, you may imagine I was not very easily prevail'd with to make a second Attempt; and indeed, upon mature Deliberation, the whole Science seem'd, at least to me, to be surrounded with so many Difficulties, that notwithstanding the unknown Advantages which might have accrued to me thereby, I gave over all Hopes of attaining it; and I believe had never thought of it more, but that my Memory has been lately refreshed by seeing some of these ingenious Gentlemen ply in the open Streets, one of which I saw receive so suitable a Reward of his Labours, that tho' I know you are no Friend to Story-telling, yet I must beg leave to trouble you with this at large.
'About a fortnight since, as I was diverting my self with a pennyworth of Walnuts at the Temple-Gate, a lively young Fellow in a Fustian Jacket shot by me, beckon'd a Coach, and told the Coachman he wanted to go as far as Chelsey: They agreed upon the Price, and this young Gentleman mounts the Coach-box; the Fellow staring at him, desir'd to know if he should not drive till they were out of Town? No, no, replied he: He was then going to climb up to him, but received another Check, and was then ordered to get into the Coach, or behind it, for that he wanted no Instructors; but be sure you Dog you, says he, don't you bilk me. The Fellow thereupon surrender'd his Whip, scratch'd his Head, and crept into the Coach. Having my self occasion to go into the Strand about the same Time, we started both together; but the Street being very full of Coaches, and he not so able a Coachman as perhaps he imagined himself, I had soon got a little Way before him; often, however, having the curiosity to cast my Eye back upon him, to observe how he behaved himself in this high Station; which he did with great Composure till he came to the Pass, which is a Military Term the Brothers of the Whip have given the Strait at St. Clement's Church: when he was arrived near this Place, where are always Coaches in waiting, the Coachmen began to suck up the Muscles of their Cheeks, and to tip the Wink upon each other, as if they had some Roguery in their Heads, which I was immediately convinced of; for he no sooner came within Reach, but the first of them with his Whip took the exact Dimension of his Shoulders, which he very ingeniously call'd Endorsing; and indeed I must say, that every one of them took due Care to endorse him as he came thro' their Hands. He seem'd at first a little uneasy under the Operation, and was going in all haste to take the Numbers of their Coaches; but at length by the Mediation of the worthy Gentleman in the Coach, his Wrath was asswaged, and he prevail'd upon to pursue his Journey; tho' indeed I thought they had clapt such a Spoke in his Wheel, as had disabled him from being a Coachman for that Day at least: For I am only mistaken, Mr. SPEC. if some of these Endorsements were not wrote in so strong a Hand, that they are still legible. Upon my enquiring the Reason of this unusual Salutation, they told me, that it was a Custom among them, whenever they saw a Brother tottering or unstable in his Post, to lend him a hand in order to settle him again therein: For my part I thought their Allegations but reasonable, and so march'd off. Besides our Coachmen, we abound in divers other Sorts of ingenious robust Youth, who, I hope, will not take it ill if I refer giving you an account of their several Recreations to another Opportunity. In the mean time, if you would but bestow a little of your wholesome Advice upon our Coachmen, it might perhaps be a Reprieve to some of their Necks. As I understand you have several Inspectors under you, if you would but send one amongst us here in the Temple, I am persuaded he would not want Employment. But I leave this to your own Consideration, and am,
'SIR, Your very humble Servant,
'P. S. I have heard our Criticks in the Coffee-houses hereabout talk mightily of the Unity of Time and Place: According to my Notion of the Matter, I have endeavoured at something like it in the Beginning of my Epistle. I desire to be inform'd a little as to that Particular. In my next I design to give you some account of excellent Watermen, who are bred to the Law, and far outdo the Land-Students above-mentioned.'
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