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THE ftate of converfation and bufinefs in this town having been long perplexed with pretenders in both kinds, in order to open men's eyes against fuch abufes, it appeared no unprofitable undertaking to publish a paper which fhould observe upon the manners of the pleafurable as well as the bufy part of mankind. To make this generally read, it feemed the most proper method to form it by way of a letter of intelligence, confifting of fuch parts as might gratify the curiofity of perfons of all condi- tions, and of each fex. But a work of this nature requiring time to grow into the notice of the world, it happened very luckily, that, a little before I had refolved upon this defign, a gentleman had written predictions, and two or three other pieces in my name, which had rendered it famous through all parts of Europe; and, by an inimitable spirit and humour, raised it to as high a pitch of reputation as it could poffibly arrive at.
By this good fortune the name of Ifaac Bickerstaff gained an audience of all who had any taste of wit; and the addition of the ordinary occurrences of common journals of news brought in a multitude of other readers. I could not, I confefs, long keep VOL. I. A
up the opinion of the town, that thefe Lucubrations were written by the fame hand with the first works which were published under my name; but before I loft the participation of that author's fame, I had already found the advantage of his authority, to which I owe the fudden acceptance which my labours met with in the world.
The general purpose of this paper is to expose the falfe arts of life, to pull off the difguifes of cunning, vanity, and affectation, and to recommend a general fimplicity in our drefs, our discourse, and our behaviour. No man has a better judgment for the discovery, or a nobler fpirit for the contempt of all imposture, than yourself; which qualities render you the most proper patron for the author of thefe effays. In the general, the defign, however executed, has met with fo great fuccefs, that there is hardly a name now eminent among us for power, wit, beauty, valour, or wifdom, which is not fubfcribed for the encouragement of thefe volumes. This is, indeed, an honour for which it is impoffi ble to exprefs a fuitable gratitude; and there is nothing could be an addition to the pleasure I take in it but the reflection, that it gives me the moft confpicuous occafion I can ever have, of fubfcribing myself,
Your most obliged,
most obedient, and
moft humble fervant,
NO. I. TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines--noftri farrage libelli.
Juv. Sat. 1. v. 84, 85.
Whatever good is done, whatever ill-
THOUGH the other papers, which are published for the ufe of the good people of England, have certainly very wholefome effects, and are laudable in their particular kinds, they do not seem to come up to the main defign of fuch narrations, which, I humbly prefume, fhould be principally intended for the ufe of politic perfons, who are fo public fpirited as to neglect their own affairs to look into tranfactions of ftate. Now thefe gentlemen, for the moft part, being perfons of ftrong zeal, and weak intellects, it is both a charitable and neceffary work to offer. fomething, whereby fuch worthy and well-affected members of the commonwealth may be inftructed, after their reading, what to think; which fhall be the end and purpofe of this my paper, wherein I fhall, from time to time, report and confider all matters of what kind foever that fhall occur to me, and publish fuch my advices and reflec tions every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday in the week, for the convenience of the poft. I refolve also to have fomething which may be of entertainment to the fair fex, in honour of whom I have invented the title of this paper. I therefore earnestly defire all perfons, without diftinction, to take it in for the prefent gratis, and here VOL. I.
after at the price of one penny, forbidding all hawkers to take more for it at their peril. And I defire all perfons to confider, that I am at a very great charge for proper materials for this work, as well as that before I refolved upon it, I had settled a correspondence in all parts of the known and knowing world. And forafmuch as this globe is not trodden upon by mere drudges of business only, but that men of spirit and genius are juftly to be efteemed as confiderable agents in it, we fhall not, upon a dearth of news, present you with mufty foreign edicts, or dull proclamations, but fhall divide our relation of the paffages which occur in action or difcourfe throughout this town, as well as elsewhere, under fuch dates of places as may prepare you for the matter you are to expect, in the following manner.
• All accounts of Gallantry, Pleasure, and Entertainment, fhall be under the article of White's Chocolatehouse; Poetry, under that of Will's Coffee-house ; Learning, under the title of Grecian; Foreign and Domeftic News, you will have from St. James's Coffeehouse; and what else I have to offer on any other fubject fhall be dated from my own Apartment.
'I once more defire my reader to confider, that as I cannot keep an ingenious man to go daily to Will's under two-pence each day, merely for his charges; to White's under fix-pence; nor to the Grecian, without allowing him fome plain Spanish, to be as able as others at the learned table; and that a good obferver cannot speak with even Kidney at St. James's without clean linen; I fay, these confiderations will, I hope, make all perfons willing to comply with my humble requeft (when my gratis flock is exhausted) of a penny a piece; especially fince they are fure of fome proper amusement, and that it is impoffible for me to want means to entertain them, having, befides the force of my own parts, the power of divination, and that I can, by cafting a figure, tell you all that will happen before it comes to pass.
• But this last faculty I fhall use very fparingly, and fpeak but of few things until they are paffed, for fear of divulging matters which may offend our fuperiors.'