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though, indeed, it would appear too shocking to be set down in print. But I cannot help wishing, that it were possible to draw out a catalogue of the fashionable oaths and curses in present use at Arthur's, or any other polite assembly: by which means the company themselves would be led to imagine, that their conversation had been carried on between the lowest of the mob; and they would blush to find, that they had gleaned their choicest phrases from lanes and alleys, and enriched their discourse with the elegant dialect of Wapping and Broad St. Giles's.

The legislature has, indeed, provided against this offence, by affixing a penalty on every delinquent according to his station: but this law, like those made against gaming, is of no effect; while the genteeler sort of swearers pour forth the same execrations at the hazard-table or in the tennis-court, which the more ordinary gamesters repeat, with the same impunity, over the shuffle-board or in the skittle-alley. Indeed, were this law to be rigorously put in execution, there would appear to be little or no proportion in the punishment; since the gentleman would escape by depositing his crown; while the poor wretch, who cannot raise a shilling, must be clapped in the stocks, or sent to Bridewell. But as the offence is exactly the same, I would also have no distinction made in the treatment of the offenders and it would be a most ridiculous but a due mortification to a man of quality, to be obliged to thrust his leg through the same stocks with a carman or a coal-heaver; since he first degraded himself, and qualified himself for their company, by talking in the same mean dialect.

I am aware, that it will be pleaded in excuse for this practice, that oaths and curses are intended only as mere expletives, which serve to round a pe

riod, and give a grace and spirit to conversation. But there are still some old-fashioned creatures, who adhere to their common acceptation, and cannot help thinking it a very serious matter, that a man should devote his body to the devil, or call down damnation on his soul. Nay, the swearer himself, like the old man in the fable calling upon death, would be exceeding loath to be taken at his word; and, while he wishes destruction to every part of his body, would be highly concerned to have a limb rot away, his nose fall off, or an eye drop out of the socket. It would, therefore, be advisable to substitute some other terms equally unmeaning, and at the same time remote from the vulgar cursing and swearing.

It is recorded to the honour of the famous Dean Stanhope, that in his younger days, when he was chaplain to a regiment, he reclaimed the officers, who were much addicted to this vulgar practice, by the following method of reproof. One evening as they were all in company together, after they had been very eloquent in this kind of rhetoric, so natural to the gentlemen of the army, the worthy dean took occasion to tell a story in turn; in which he frequently repeated the words bottle and glass, instead of the usual expletives of God, devil, and damn, which he did not think quite so becoming for one of his cloth to make free with. I would recommend it to our people of fashion to make use of the like innocent phrases, whenever they are obliged to have recourse to these substitutes for thought and expression. 'Bottle and glass,' might be introduced with great energy in the table-talk at the King's Arms or St. Alban's taverns. The gamester might be indulged, without offence, in swearing by the knave of clubs,' or the curse of Scotland;' or he might, with some propriety, retain the old execration of the deuce take it.' The beau should be allowed

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to swear by his gracious self, which is the god of his idolatry and the common expletives should consist only of upon my word,' and upon my honour;' which terms, whatever sense they might formerly bear, are at present understood only as words of course without meaning.-O.

N° 109. THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 1756.

Interdum vulgus rectùm videt; est, ubi peccat.-HOR.
What ev'ry body says, is often true;

But very often 'tis a falsehood too.

THE world is indebted to that ingenious inquirer after truth, the famous Sir Thomas Brown, for an excellent treatise, in which he has refuted several idle and ridiculous opinions, that prevailed in his time; to which work he has very properly given the title of Vulgar Errors. Among others, of no less importance, he has taken great pains to explode the common notion that a witch can make a voyage to the East-Indies in an egg-shell, or take a journey of two or three hundred miles across the country on a broomstick: an assertion maintained by that wise monarch, King James the First, who even condescended to commence author in support of it. He has also refuted the generally received opinion, that the devil is black, has horns upon his head, wears a long curling tail, and a cloven stump; nay, has even denied, that wheresoever he goes, he always leaves a smell of brimstone behind him; and has no less seriously endeavoured to shew the absurdity of the supposition, that Adam and Eve were born into the world without navels. But all these mistaken no

tions, though they might possibly obtain belief in former times of superstition and ignorance, could never have been countenanced in this more enlightened age. So far from acknowledging the power of witchcraft, we even doubt of the existence of the witch of Endor: that illustrious personage the devil is only looked upon as a mere bugbear: and the , lowest mechanics have been taught at the Robin Hood Society, that the whole account of our first parents is nothing but a fiction and an old woman's story.

Since the days of Sir Thomas Brown, such strange revolutions have happened among us, in the arts and sciences, in religion, in politics, and in common life, that I cannot but think, a work, intended as a supplement to the above-mentioned treatise of Vulgar Errors, would be highly acceptable to the public; since it is notorious, that many tenets, which were then thought indisputable truths among all ranks of people, are now proved to be erroneous, and are only credited by the uninformed vulgar. A work of this nature it is my intention shortly to publish : in the mean time, I shall content myself with laying the following specimen of the performance before my readers.

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The ignorance of the multitude has hitherto pronounced it, to be absolutely impossible that a maid can be with child.' But it is well known to the learned, that in these latter times there have been many instances of maiden-mothers: though, whether they are impregnated by the west-wind, like Virgil's mares, or, as it was said of Juno, by eating a sallad; whether they bring forth, as Dutch ladies do, Sooterkins; whether they conceive by intuition, or the operation of the fancy; or by what other cause, has not been ascertained. Several instances have been recorded, among the Roman Catholics, of nuns and

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lady abbesses, who have miraculously proved with child and here in England we have more than once heard of the pregnancy of a maid of honour. I myself know a lady, almost approaching to the verge of an old maid, who was very much bloated and puffed up with the wind-cholic: for relief of which she went into the country for a month, and was unexpectedly seized with the pangs of child-birth. I have been told of another, a virgin of the most unspotted character, who very unaccountably fell into labour, just as they were going to tap her for the dropsy. An eminent man-midwife of my acquaintance was in the beginning of his practice called to a virgin, who, to his great surprise, brought forth an embryo, in form and appearance exactly resembling a mandrake. This he considered as a most wonderful lusus naturæ; and had actually drawn up an account of it (with a figure of the monster) to be laid before the Royal Society: but in less than a twelvemonth he delivered the same lady, who still continued in a state of virginity, of another false conception, like the former; and for many years after this prodigy of a virgin had several other monstrous and preternatural births of the same kind. He farther assures me, that he has since very frequently met with these phenomena; and that the only difference between maids and married women in this point is, that the former do not manifest the signs of pregnancy so fully in their waists, nor do they cry out so vehemently in their labour pains; and it is remarkable, that they never choose to suckle their children.

It is vulgarly supposed, that the events of gaming are regulated by blind chance and fortune: but the wise and polite, that is, the knowing ones, cannot but smile at the absurdity of this notion; though even the sagacious Hoyle and Demoivre themselves,

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