From The British Magazine, Sept 1746, pp.257-8, in Minet library, loose cuttings
The VISITER, Numb. I.
It is easy from the Title of this Essay to guess of what kind the Matter it contains will be; for as the Author professes himself a Visiter, he must be suppos'd to have an Opportunity of seeing a great deal of private Life; and such Parts of it as may be decent, diverting, or instructive, to the Publick, will always find a Place in these Papers; and they may be of more Use than perhaps at first wou'd be imagin'd, as the Visits they give the Histories of, will not be confin'd to private Sets of Company alone, but extend to all Publick Places and Assemblies; so that it may be a Check upon the ill Behaviour of People of all Ranks; since a Lady who acts out of Character in the Drawing-Room may be as likely to hear of it here, as a Beau who comes drunk to Ranelagh. Upon the whole, no Rank or Set of People will ever be safe from the Censures of the Visiter, when they deserve them; and Persons of all Sorts have here fair Warning, when they see a short swarthy Man, with large Eye brows, come into their Company, if he seems to look much about him, and says nothing, to take care of him accordingly; for whatever Folly they commit in his Observation, they must expect to hear of hereafter.
The first Step I have taken
in my new Office was last Night, paying a Visit to the Company at Vaux-Hall,
where I had an Opportunity of observing a Couple of People whose mutual Dissatisfactions
may give a Lesson of Instruction to more than one Set of People, as it may
teach the Lovers of both Sexes, as well as Parents, that a Conformity of Tempers
(a Thing never sought after in Marriages) is of more Consequence to Happiness
in that State, than Beauty, Innocence, Industry, and Riches, all together;
all which my Couple here possess'd, and yet found the Way to be two of the
misrablest Wretches breathing, in the Midst of them.
I had hardly enter'd the Gardens, when I saw, at a small Distance before me, a Lady, whose Paraphenalia fill'd up three Fourths of the Breadth of the principal Walk, and spread over almost an equal Space of Ground behind her; the Hoop extending to an enormous Distance on each Side, and a majestick Length of Sack trailing behind, and doing the Office of a Broom on the Gravel Walk; a vast Bundle of artificial Flowers adorn'd one side of her Bosom, and her Hair, blacker and more shining than polish'd Jet, falling in long loose Ringlets on the naked Shoulders, play'd in the Wind, and at Times disclos'd between a Whiteness much more snowy than Nature ever gave the most perfect of her Works: The Lady was tall, finely proportion'd, and to this, what the World calls perfectly genteel. In all this Pomp, and with a great deal of Majesty in her Gait, she travell'd (not without extream Fatigue) the whole Length of the Walk, - the Admiration of one Sex, and the Envy of the other. By her Side, but far off, and at an humble Distance, (tho' close to the extream Verge of the expended Hoop) there walk'd a plain, short, clean dress'd Man; his whole Suit, Gloves, and Stockings, were all of a Colour, his Hat large, clean-brush'd, and scarce half-cock'd; his Wig neatly comb'd out, unpowder'd, and one Glove being accidentally off, discovered an unruffled Shirt, leaving unhid in any Part a Hand made hard by youthful Industry. On the whole, it was easy to guess that the Lady was a fine this-end-of-the-Town younger Daughter of a gay Family; and the Husband (for such the miserable Mortal that attended her was) a Man who sells Pins or Tobacco in some dirty Lane about Watling-Street.
When the Lady had with intolerable Fatigue recover'd that End of the Walk where the Seats are, she was just throwing herself to Repose under the grand Pavilion, but the Husband had unfortunately taken a fancy to one of the ordinary Seats, on the Back of which was painted the Story of the Mock Doctor, with a great Deal of Grimace taking his Fee, and unmercifully compell'd her to take a Journey of thirty Yards more to sit there.
They were no sooner seated here, the Lady filling up the whole Back Seat, and a considerable Part of one of the others, and the Husband on a Corner of the other Side one, but the good Man, having laid down his Hat on the Table, tho' not without first wiping it, and very composedly drawing off his Gloves, and he was unfashionable enough to think of settling himself in his Seat for the Evening, call'd for the Waiter; the Lady started at the Sound, and entreated him to attend to the Musick now, and sup afterwards, when the meaner Company were gone, not while every Cook-Maid and Barber's 'Prentice were gaping and staring at them; but in vain. The Waiter appear'd, and the Table was soon set out with a Pint of Wine, and a large Plate of Buttock of Beef, and Vinegar. I soon found it would be my Business to attend this strange Pair for the Evening, and calling for my Pint, seated myself in the next Box to observe them: The Husband eat, the Lady sicken'd at the sight of the Entertainment: After a Glass or two the Husband open'd his Mouth in Praise of the Wine, but declar'd the Beef naught; he was just filling a Glass, and going to compliment the Lady with it, when unfortunately some Flagelets were heard among the Musick; up starts the Lady, and with the Whiff and Wind of her fell Hoop, overthrew at once the whole conomy of the Table; away went the Bottle to the Ground, the Beef into the Dirt, and the Wine into the Husband's Pockets. Regardless of all this, she flies to the Orchestra; the Husband picks up the poor Remainders of the Supper, and follows; the Lady, in Raptures of Admiration, forgets the dismal Catastrophe of the Table, and with open Arms runs to the good Man with, O heavenly! delightful! charming! To all which he reply'd, by pointing to the Table, and after a dismal Sigh telling her it shou'd be a good while before she got him there again; for 'twas better to spend Three pence in his own Neighbourhood, and may be get a Customer into the Bargain, than come to be whistled out of his Money there, and have the Victuals thrown down, and his Cloaths spoil'd into the Bargain. The Lady, to avoid any more of this polite Talk in Publick, retired blushing to her Seat; there, after some matrimonial Compliments on both Sides, they were half got Friends again, when Mrs. Arne began a new Cantata; away bursts the Lady, and at the End of the Song returns again. The Husband remaining in his Place all the while, was now biting his Thumbs, and ruminating on the Misery of being marry'd to a fine Lady, when all in Transport she ask'd him if that was not a heavenly Creature! Nothing heavenly (replies he) I am sure ever wore Petticoats; and as for the Singing, I could not hear it; what signifies these People's hiring a Woman to sing that can't speak to be heard? they might have our Joan, that sings the Song about the Duke of Ormond, for half the Money, and she'd make every Body hear her as far as the Golden Statue. In this and other such Discourse the Time was pass'd, till Mrs. Arne began a second Time, with If I stand longer gazing, &c. The Lady now staid to perswade her Husband to go with her, and succeeded: - alas, unfortunate Success! The Eyes of the whole Company were now soon drawn upon the Lady, whom they perceiv'd labouring hard to keep the Savage attentive, and make him a Convert to the Charms of Harmony. Every engaging Look, every endearing Action that could be conceiv'd she us'd to keep him in the same Strain of Admiration with herself; but, alas! at the End of the Song, while she was crying bravo bravissimo, and dying with Excess of Rapture, the Husband told her, That if the Cat made such a Noise in the Night, he would kick her down Stairs. Here ended my Observation. This Declaration of the Husband's was succeeded by a loud Horse-Laugh of the whole Company, in which the Author of it heartily join'd; the Lady burst into Tears, and vow'd she would confine herself to her Chamber for ever before she wou'd ever appear in any Publick Place again with such a Brute, and left the Gardens; the Husband pray'd to Heaven she might keep her Word: And away they went Home in two Boats.
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