No. 616. Friday, November 5, 1714.

Qui bellus homo est, Cotta, pusillus homo est.'

Cicero hath observed, that a Jest is never uttered with a better Grace, than when it is accompanied with a serious Countenance. When a pleasant Thought plays in the Features, before it discovers it self in Words, it raises too great an Expectation, and loses the Advantage of giving Surprize. Wit and Humour are no less poorly recommended by a Levity of Phrase, and that kind of Language which may be distinguished by the Name of Cant. Ridicule is never more strong, than when it is concealed in Gravity. True Humour lies in the Thought, and arises from the Representation of Images in odd Circumstances, and uncommon Lights. A pleasant Thought strikes us by the Force of its natural Beauty; and the Mirth of it is generally rather palled, than heightened by that ridiculous Phraseology, which is so much in Fashion among the Pretenders to Humour and Pleasantry. This Tribe of Men are like our Mountebanks; they make a Man a Wit, by putting him in a fantastick Habit.

Our little Burlesque Authors, who are the Delight of ordinary Readers, generally abound in these pert Phrases, which have in them more Vivacity than Wit.

I lately saw an Instance of this kind of Writing, which gave me so lively an Idea of it, that I could not forbear begging a Copy of the Letter from the Gentleman who shew'd it to me. It is written by a Country Wit, upon the Occasion of the Rejoycings on the Day of the King's Coronation.

Dear Jack, (Past two a Clock and a frosty Morning.) [1]

I have just left the Right Worshipful and his Myrmidons about a Sneaker of Five Gallons. The whole Magistracy was pretty well disguised before I gave 'em the Slip. Our Friend the Alderman was half Seas over before the Bonfire was out. We had with us the Attorney, and two or three other bright Fellows. The Doctor plays least in Sight.

At Nine a Clock in the Evening we set Fire to the Whore of Babylon. The Devil acted his Part to a Miracle. He has made his Fortune by it. We equip'd the young Dog with a Tester a-piece. Honest old Brown of England was very drunk, and showed his Loyalty to the Tune of a hundred Rockets. The Mob drank the King's Health, on their Marrow-bones, in Mother Day's Double. They whip'd us half a dozen Hogsheads. Poor Tom Tyler had like to have been demolished with the End of a Sky-Rocket, that fell upon the Bridge of his Nose as he was drinking the King's Health, and spoiled his Tip. The Mob were very loyal 'till about Midnight, when they grew a little mutinous for more Liquor. They had like to have dumfounded the Justice; but his Clerk came in to his Assistance, and took them all down in Black and White.

When I had been huzza'd out of my Seven Senses, I made a Visit to the Women, who were guzzling very comfortably. Mrs. Mayoress clip'd the King's English. Clack was the Word.

I forgot to tell thee, that every one of the Posse had his Hat cocked with a Distich: The Senators sent us down a Cargo of Ribbon and Metre for the Occasion.

Sir Richard to shew his Zeal for the Protestant Religion, is at the Expence of a Tar-Barrel and a Ball. I peeped into the Knight's great Hall, and saw a very pretty Bevy of Spinsters. My dear Relict was amongst them, and ambled in a Country-Dance as notably as the best of 'em.

May all his Majesty's liege Subjects love him as well as his good People of this his ancient Borough. Adieu.

[Footnote 1: (Two in the Morning is the Word, old Boy.)]

Translation of motto:
MART. Epig. i. 10.
'A pretty fellow is but half a man.'