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who knew him much better than the Bishop feems to have done. I meddle not with the moral part of this treatment. God Almighty forgive his Lordfhip this manner of revenging himself; and then there will be but little consequence from an accusation, which the dead cannot feel, and which none of the living will believe.
A complete Coj.I.ECTION of GENTEEL and INGENIOUS CONVERSATION, according to the most polite mode and me. thod now used at court, and in the best companies of England *.
IN THREE DIALOGUE S.
By SIMON WAGSTAFF, Efq;
An INTROD UTION.
As my life hath been chiefly spent in consulting A the honour and welfare of my country for more than forty years past, not without unanswer. able success, if the world and my friends have not fattered me; so there is no point wherein I have so much laboured, as that of improving and polishing all parts of conversation between persons of quality, whether they meet by accident or invitation, at meals, tea, or visits, mornings, poons, or even.
• This treatise appears to have been written with the same view as the “ tritical eliay on the faculties of the mind" (Vol 5.) but upon a more general plan. The ridicule, which is there confined to lite. rary compofiiion, is here extended to converfation : but its object is ibe Lame in boib; the repetisjon of quaint phraf:s picked up by rule either from the living or the dead, and applied upon every occasion to conceal ignorance or fupidity or to prevent the labour of thoughts to produce native sentiment, and combine such words as will precisely expela in
I have passed perhaps more time than any other man of my age and country in visits and affemblies, where the polite persons of both sexes distinguish themselves; and could not, without much grief, observe how frequently both gentlemen and ladies are at a loss for questions, answers, replies, and rejoinders. However, my concern was much abatedwhen I found, that these defects were not occasioned by any want of materials, but because those materials were not in every hand. For instance, one lady can give an answer better than ask a question : one gentleman is happy at a reply; another excels in a rejoinder; one can revive a languishing conversation by a sudden surprising sentence; another is more dextrous in feconding; a third can fill the gap with laughing, or commending what has been said. Thus freih hints may be started, and the ball of the discourse kept up..
But alas ! this is too seldom ihe case, even in the most select companies. How often do we see at court, at public visiting days, at great m. ns levees, and other places of general meeting, that the conversation falls and drops to nothing, like a fire without fupply of fewel ? This is what we all ought 10 lament; and against this dangerous evil I take upon me to affirm, that I have in the following papers provided an infallible rencedy. .
It was in the year 1695, and the sixth of his late Majesty King William III. of ever glorious and immortal memory, who rescued three kingdoms from Popery and slavery, when, being about the age of fix and thirty, my judgement mature, of good reputation in the world, and well acquainted with the best families in town, I deterinined to spend five mornings, to dine four times, pass three afternoons, and lix evenings, every week, in the houses of the most polite families, of which I would confine myself to fifty; only changing as the ma. fters or ladies died, or left the town, or grew out
of vogue, or funk in their fortunes, or (which to me was of the highest moment) became diffaffected to the government; which practice I have followed ever since to this very day; except when I happened to be fick, or in the spleen upon cloudy weather; and except when I entertained four of each sex at my own lodgings once in a month, by way of retaliation...,
I always kept a large table-book in my pocket; and as soon as I left the company, I immediately entered the choicest expressions that paffed during the visit; which, returning home, I transcribed in a fair hand, but somewhat enlarged : and had made the greatest part of my collection in twelve years, but not digested into any method; for this I found was a work of infinite labour, and what required the nicest judgement, and consequently could not be brought to any degree of perfection in less than fixteen years more.
Herein I resolved to exceed the advice of Horace, a Roman Poet, which I have read in Mr. Creech's admirable translation, that an author should keep his works nine years in his closet, before he venture to publish them : and finding that I still received some additional flowers of wit and language, although in a very small number, I determined to defer the publication, to pursue my design, and exhaust if possible the whole subject, that I might present a complete system to the world. For I am convinced by long experience, that the critics will be as severe as their old envy against me can make them. I foresee they will object, that I have inserted many answers and replies which are neither tvitty, humorous, polite, nor authentic ; and have omitted others that would have been highly useful, as well as entertaining. But let them come to particulars, and I will boldly engage to confute their malice. VOL.IX. . F.
For these last fix or seven years I have not been able to add above nine valuable fentences to ! enrich my collection, from whence I conclude, that what remains will amount only to a trifle. However, if, after the publication of this work, i any lady or gentleman, when they have read it, shall find the least thing of importance omitted, I do defire they will please to supply my defects, by communicating to me their discoveries; and their letters may be directed to Simon Wagstaff, Efq; at 3 his lodgings next door to the Gloucester-head in i St. James's street, (paying the postage). In return ! of which favour, I shall make honourable mention of their names in a short preface to the second edition. • In the mean time, I cannot but with some pride, and much pleasure, congratulate with my dear country, which hath outdone all the nations of Europe, in advancing the whole art of conversation to the greatest height it is capable of reaching; and there. fore, being entirely convinced that the collection I now offer to the public is full and complete, I may at the same time boldly affirm, that the whole genius, humour, politeness, and eloquence of Eng. land are fummed up in it. Nor is the treasure they small, wherein are to be found at least a thousand shining questions, answers, repartees, replies, and rejoinders, fitted to adorn every kind of discourse is that an affembly of English ladies and gentlemen, met together for their mutual entertaininent, can poffibly want; especially when the several flowers Thall be set off and improved by the speakers, with every circumstance of preface aud circumlocution, in in proper terms; and attended with praise, laughrter, or admirationi.
There is a natural, involuntary distortion of the it muscles, which is the anatomical caufe of laughter; but there is another cause of laughter which decency requires, and is the undoubted mark of a