A HUNDRED YEARS AGO.
ONE of our readers in Kent has put into ourhands anumber of an ancient namesake, called the Universal Spectator. It bears to be edited by " HENRY STONECASTLE, of Northumberland, Esq. ;" who indites his lucubrations from a spot where literature has not flourished much of late years—the Minories. The number is dated 21st November, 1730 ; and as the paper had then been in existence for somewhat more than two years, it must have begun nearly about the same period in the eighteenth, that we—who may with equal propriety style ourselves the " Universal SPECTATOR," inasmuch as we observe all, and are observed of all—began in the nineteenth century. Our aged predecessor has adopted for the motto of his leading article, a sentence which might not unsuit- ably be placed before the greater portion of our own—" procul absit gloria vulgi"—that is to say, " we abominate fudge." The subject is of as much magnificence as utility : it is a lecture on the universe—a meet leading article for one who looketh on all things. The theme and the place hardly correspond so well : a discourse on the starry heavens from Tower Hill sounds as incon- gruous as an essay on taste from Smithfield. Mr. Sro:vEcAsrLE does not, however, remain for ever in the clouds—he descends to
the earth before the article terminates ; and some of his observa- tions there are so ingenious, that we must extract one or two for the edification of our readers.
" In clearness, smoothness, colour, proportion, and disposition of parts," says Mr. STONECASTLE, " many animals excel us [man- kind in general, be it remarked—not editors] greatly ; insomuch that I believe, whoever imagines a man stark naked, will judge a covering more proper for him than any of the rest." We have no doubt of it. "Again," quoth Mr. STONECASTLE, "a single ele- pliant, a crocodile, or a tiger, can destroy multitudes of men ; though in killing, as an art, I must acknowledge we much outdo them." There is a hit at the College ! Verily our predecessor was a wages well as a philosopher. Besides a leading article, the Universal Spectator has a co- pious supplement of miscellaneous information. He maintains as many correspondents as the ingenious old gentleman in the Stran- ger, enacted by Mr. BARTLEY : there is not a wind in the compass that does not blow home news to him. Even our own means of information are not more ample and diversified. From Dublin, of date the 10th, they write—to the Minories of course—that his honour the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas had landed that day. It was just about the same day of the year that the present excellent head of the Irish Common Pleas was welcomed to that beautiful city with shouting and hallooing, and many shrill cries of "Dirty Doherty !" The same post that brings an account of the land- ing of the Chief Justice, tells of three bloody murders at Cork. We might have looked for similar intelligence, had not our letter-writers been too much engaged with the Repeal to attend to ordinary matters. A despatch from Dover announces the safe arrival of thirteen of the Duke of BUCKINGHAM'S horses ; and another from St. Edmonds- bury, Suffolk, mentions the arrest of a gentleman named WIL- LIAM POPE, "on vehement suspicion of stealing a silver tankard." Among the town news, there is an account of a bloody skirmish between the Watchmen of St. Ann's and the Newgate Guard; from which may be inferred the ignorance of those who imagine the jealousy between the City and County officials to be of no older standing than the institution of the New Police. Perhaps, however, the most singular of all the London intelligence is the reported arrest of a lawyer—it is only reported—for malepractice. We have progressed wonderfully since 17-30: he would be a bold man that would go to arrest a lawyer for malepractice in our day: Lord ANGLESEY has been attempting something of the sort—but not in England, thanks to our matchless constitution. The next head of information tallies so wonderfully with the pa- ragraphs that appeared in the new Universal Spectator about two months ago, that we can hardly avoid suspecting that our ancient crony had stolen it from our pages by anticipation. Our readers will have the goodness to remark, that the date of the old Universal Spectator is November 21, 1730, Old Style ; which is equal to December 3, New Style. Now let them peruse the fol- lowing particulars, and then turn to page 985 of our 127th Num- ber, dated December 4, 1830—precisely one hundred years later —and if they do not acknowledge that folly has its cycles as well as the moon, then have they observed the times and the seasons and the Spectator to very little purpose.
" Threatning Letters are still continued to be sent about in most Parts of the Kingdom, threatning Fire and Murder, in Case certain Sums of Money arenot left in particular Places, as they appoint, particularly one to Mr. Spraggin, a Merchant in Deal, but without any Demand of Money, only as pretended for being a bad Neighbour, and cruel to the Poor, for which a Person was apprehended, and being desired _to write the same Words in another Paper, the hand was judg'd to be the same. Another to Mr. Francis Stokes, a Farmer at Southwell in Middlesex, for ten Guineas : Another to Mr. Rashleigh at Chipping Wicomb in Bucking- hamshire, for 15 Guineas : Another to Mr. Jackson in Exeter for five Guineas : Three to Dr. Allen of Bridgewater : Another to Mr. Hall, an Upholster in Hounsditch, for five Guineas : Another to Mr. Clements, a Baker in Milford Lane in the Strand for 15 Guineas, and to his Brother Smith, for Seven Guineas, his Watch,.and Bing, ;that he wars. Besides which daily Accounts tome in of the like .Threa&nings : For which his Majesty's Royal Proclamation was last Night publish'd, promising his most gracious Pardon, and a Reward of 300/. to any who shall discover their Accomplices, 'except the 'Person who actually sets Fire to any House, Barn, &c. and likewise the same Reward to any 'Person who shall apprehend-any of the said Incendiaries.
'Two Men have been apprehended at Croydon (the one a Mulatto, and the other an Irishman) and sent to the County Goal for Surrey, for sending a threatning Letter to Mr. Peter Champion of that Town: We hear that the Mulatto has informed against the Irishman.' "Peter Barton, an Irishman, was committed to the Gatehouse by the Committee of Westminster Justices, on Suspicion of sending a threat- rung Letter to a Bookbinder in the Strand, requiring Money to be laid in a certain Place, and threatnin,g to destroy him and his Family, in Case of Refusal.
"One Webster, who was Evidence against James Dalton, lately Exe- cuted, is committed to the New Goal in Southwark, on Suspicion of set- ting Fire to a House in Rotherhith; and the Person that occupied the said House had a threatning Letter sent him some Time before."
We shall, we admit, be found somewhat more diffuse in our descriptions than our protemporary ; but then, it is proper to ob- serve, that where he gives four pages, we give twenty-four ; and there were no penny-a-line men in the land in those days, but every man spoke as it pleased his own heart, and there was none to make him afraid. - We are sorry that we have not been able to learn if there were half-a-dozen of special commissions to inquire into the misdeeds of the Swings of a century ago. It would have gratified us much, if, in addition to the -goodly matter that we have already gleaned from our old and trusty frZ're, we could have rescued from oblivion some long-forgotten charge of some long-forgotten ALDERSON, or of some VAUGHAN of tender memory, or even a LOOKER case or two, or a garnish of half-a-dozen hangings. • They would have formed a pleasing addition to the curious coincidenees which we have already noted. Perhaps if we should ,light on any more of Mr. HENRY STONECASTLE'S lucubrations, we may yet be gratified Li that respect.