No. 563. Monday, July 5, 1714.

--Magni nominis Umbra--'

I shall entertain my Reader with two very curious Letters. The first of them comes from a chimerical Person, who I believe never writ to any Body before.


'I am descended from the Ancient Family of the Blanks, a Name well known among all Men of Business. It is always read in those little white Spaces of Writing which want to be filled up, and which for that Reason are called blank Spaces, as of right appertaining to our Family: For I consider my self as the Lord of a Mannor, who lays his Claim to all Wastes or Spots of Ground that are unappropriated. I am a near Kinsman to John a Styles and John a Nokes; and they, I am told, came in with the Conquerour. I am mentioned oftner in both Houses of Parliament than any other Person in Great Britain. My Name is written, or more properly speaking, not written, thus, . I am one that can turn my Hand to every thing, and appear under any Shape whatsoever. I can make my self Man, Woman, or Child. I am sometimes metamorphosed into a Year of our Lord, a Day of the Month, or an Hour of the Day. I very often represent a Sum of Mony, and am generally the first Subsidy that is granted to the Crown. I have now and then supplied the Place of several Thousands of Land Soldiers, and have as frequently been employed in the Sea Service.

'Now, Sir, my Complaint is this, that I am only made use of to serve a Turn, being always discarded as soon as a proper Person is found out to fill up my Place.

'If you have ever been in the Play-house before the Curtain rises, you see most of the Front Boxes filled with Men of my Family, who forthwith turn out and resign their Stations upon the Appearance of those for whom they are retained.

'But the most illustrious Branch of the Blanks are those who are planted in high Posts, till such time as Persons of greater Consequence can be found out to supply them. One of these Blanks is equally qualified for all Offices; he can serve in time of Need for a Soldier, a Politician, a Lawyer, or what you please. I have known in my Time many a Brother Blank that has been born under a lucky Planet, heap up great Riches, and swell into a Man of Figure and Importance, before the Grandees of his Party could agree among themselves which of them should step into his Place. Nay, I have known a Blank continue so long in one of these vacant Posts, (for such it is to be reckoned all the Time a Blank is in it) that he has grown too formidable and dangerous to be removed.

'But to return to my self, since I am so very commodious a Person, and so very necessary in all well-regulated Governments, I desire you will take my Case into Consideration, that I may be no longer made a Tool of, and only employed to stop a Gap. Such Usage, without a Pun, makes me look very blank. For all which Reasons I humbly recommend my self to your Protection, and am Your most obedient Servant,


'P.S. I herewith send you a Paper, drawn up by a Country Attorney employed by two Gentlemen, whose Names he was not acquainted with, and who did not think fit to let him into the Secret which they were transacting. I heard him call it a Blank Instrument, and read it after the following Manner. You may see by this single Instance of what Use I am to the busy World.

'_I_ T. Blank, _Esq., of_ Blank _Town, in the County of_ Blank, _do
own my self indebted in the Sum of_ Blank, _to Goodman_ Blank, _for
the Service he did me in procuring for me the Goods following,_
Blank: _And I do hereby promise the said_ Blank _to pay unto him the
said Sum of_ Blank, _on the_ Blank _Day of the Month of_ Blank _next
ensuing, under the Penalty and Forfeiture of_ Blank.

I shall take Time to consider the Case of this my imaginary Correspondent, and in the mean while shall present my Reader with a Letter which seems to come from a Person that is made up of Flesh and Blood.


'I am married to a very honest Gentleman that is exceedingly good-natured, and at the same time very cholerick. There is no standing before him when he is in a Passion; but as soon as it is over he is the best-humour'd Creature in the World. When he is angry, he breaks all my China-Ware that chances to lie in his Way, and the next Morning sends me in twice as much as he broke the Day before. I may positively say, that he has broke me a Child's Fortune since we were first marry'd together.

'As soon as he begins to fret, down goes every thing that is within Reach of his Cane. I once prevailed upon him never to carry a Stick in his Hand, but this saved me nothing; for upon seeing me do something that did not please him, he kicked down a great Jarr, that cost him above Ten Pound but the Week before. I then laid the Fragments together in a Heap, and gave him his Cane again, desiring him that if he chanced to be in Anger, he would spend his Passion upon the China that was broke to his Hand: But the very next Day upon my giving a wrong Message to one of the Servants, he flew into such a Rage, that he swept down a Dozen Tea-Dishes, which, to my Misfortune, stood very convenient for a Side-Blow.

I then removed all my China into a Room which he never frequents; but I got nothing by this neither, for my Looking-Glasses immediately went to Rack.

'In short, Sir, whenever he is in a Passion he is angry at every thing that is brittle; and if on such Occasions he had nothing to vent his Rage upon, I do not know whether my Bones would be in Safety. Let me beg of you, Sir, to let me know whether there be any Cure for this unaccountable Distemper; or if not, that you will be pleased to publish this Letter: For my Husband having a great Veneration for your Writings, will by that means know you do not approve of his Conduct. I am,

Your most humble Servant, &c.

Translation of motto:
LUCAN. i. 135.
'The shadow of a mighty name.'