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wanton wit could devise. He would have gone about the streets as a beggar, and made love as a porter. He set up a stage as an Italian mountebank. He was for some years always drunk; and was ever doing some mischief. The King loved his company, for the diversion it afforded, better than his person; and there was no love lost between them. He took his revenges in many libels. He found out a footman that knew all the Court; and he furnished him with a red coat and a musket, as a sentinel, and kept him all the winter long, every night, at the doors of such ladies as he believed might be in intrigues. In the Court, a sentinel is little minded, and is believed to be posted by a captain of the guards to hinder a combat; so this man saw who walked about and visited at forbidden hours. By this means Lord Rochester made many discoveries ; and when he was well furnished with materials, he used to retire into the country for a month or two to write libels. Once, being drunk, he intended to give the King a libel he had writ on some ladies, but, by mistake, he gave him one written on himself. He fell into an ill habit of body, and, in set fits of sickness, he had deep remorses, for he was guilty both of much impiety and of great immoralities. But as he recovered, he threw these off, and turned again to his former ill courses."
“He set up a stage as an Italian mountebank.” This was one of Rochester's most extraordinary exploits. He had been banished from Court for one of his bitter lampoons, but growing weary of rural retirement, and feeling sure that the King would soon recall him, he ventured up to London. Here he took lodgings among the rich merchants and leading tradesmen; changed his dress and assumed a fictitious name; and, having a wonderful
facility in adapting himself to all classes and persons, he soon wormed his way into the good graces of some of the wealthy aldermen and the favour of their stately ladies. He was invited to all their feasts and assemblies, and while, in the company of the husbands, he declaimed against the faults and mistakes of Government, he joined their wives in railing against the profligacy of the Court ladies, and in inveighing against the King's mistresses. He agreed with them that the cost of all these extravagances fell upon the industrious poor ; that the city beauties were not inferior to those of the other end of the town, although, in the city, a sober husband was contented with one wife ; and, finally, he protested that he wondered Whitehall was not yet consumed by fire from heaven, since such rakes as Rochester, Killigrew, and Sidney were suffered there. In this way he endeared himself to the cits, and made himself welcome at their clubs, until the restless gallant grew weary of the endless round of banquets.
But, instead of approaching the Court, he retired into one of the obscurest corners of the City, where, changing again his name and dress, he caused bills to be distributed, announcing—“The recent arrival of a famous German doctor, who, by long study and extensive practice, had discovered wonderful secrets and infallible remedies.” Of this curious document we give such passages as are consistent with a regard for decency :
“ To all gentlemen, ladies, and others, whether of city, town, or country, Alexander Bendo wisheth all health and prosperity.
“Whereas this famed metropolis of England (and were the endeavours of its worthy inhabitants equal to their power, merit, and virtue, I should not stick to denounce it in a short time, the metropolis of the whole world); whereas, I say, this city (as most great ones are) has ever been infested with a numerous company of such, whose arrogant confidence, backed with their ignorance, has enabled them to impose on the people, either by premeditated cheats, or at best, the palpable, dull, and empty mistakes of their self-deluded imagination in physic, chymical and Galenic; in astrology, physiognomy, palmistry, mathematics, alchymy, and even, in government itself, the last of which I will not propose to discourse of, or meddle at all in, since it in no way belongs to my trade or vocation, as the rest do; which (thanks to my God) I find much more safe, I think equally honest, and therefore more profitable.
“But as to all the former, they have been so erroneously practised by many unlearned wretches, whom poverty and neediness, for the most part (if not the restless itch of deceiving), has forced to struggle and wander in unknown parts, that even the professions themselves, though originally the products of the most learned and wise men's laborious studies and experience, and by them left a wealthy and glorious inheritance for ages to come, seem, by this bastard race of quacks and cheats, to have been run out of all wisdom, learning, perspicuousness, and truth, with which they were so plentifully stocked; and now run into a repute of mere mists, imaginations, errors, and deceits, such as, in the management of these idle professors, indeed they were.
“ You will therefore, I hope, gentlemen, ladies, and others, deem it but just that I, who for some years have
with all faithfulness and assiduity courted these arts, and received such signal favours from them, that they have admitted me to the happy and full enjoyment of themselves, and trusted me with their greatest secrets, should with an earnestness and concern more than ordinary, take their parts against those impudent fops, whose saucy, impertinent addresses and pretensions have brought such a scandal upon their most immaculate honours and reputations.
“Besides, I hope you will not think I could be so impudent, that if I had intended any such foul play myself, I would have given you so fair warning by my severe observations upon others. “Qui alterum incusant probri, ipsum se intueri oportet.' However, gentlemen, in a world like this, where virtue is so exactly counterfeited and hypocrisy so generally taken notice of, that every one, armed with suspicion, stands upon his guard against it, it will be very hard, for a stranger especially, to escape censure. All I shall say for myself on this score is this:-if I appear to any one like a counterfeit, even for the sake of that, chiefly, ought I to be construed a true man. Who is the counterfeit's example? His original ; and that, which he employs his industry and pains to imitate and copy; is it therefore my fault, if the cheat by his wits and endeavours makes himself so like me, that consequently I cannot avoid resembling him? Consider,'pray, the valiant and the coward, the wealthy merchant and the bankrupt, the politician and the fool; they are the same in many things, and differ but in one alone.
“The valiant man holds up his head, looks confidently round about him, wears a sword, courts a lord's wife, and owns it; so does the coward: one only point of honour
excepted, and that is courage, which (like false metal, one only trial can discover) makes the distinction.
“The bankrupt walks the exchange, buys bargains, draws bills, and accepts them with the richest, whilst paper and credit are current coin: that which makes the difference is real cash ; a great defect indeed, and yet but one, and that the last found out, and still, till then, the least perceived.
“Now for the politician :-he is a grave, deliberating, close, prying man: pray, are there not grave, deliberating, close, prying fools ?
“ If then the difference betwixt all these (though infinite in effect) be so nice in all appearance, will you expect it should be otherwise betwixt the false physician, astrologer, etc., and the true? The first calls himself learned doctor, sends forth his bills, gives physic and counsel, tells and foretels; the other is bound to do just as much : it is only your experience must distinguish betwixt them; to which I willingly submit myself. I will only say something to the honour of the MOUNTEBANK, in case you discover me to be one.
“Reflect a little what kind of creature it is :-he is one then, who is fain to supply some higher ability he pretends to with craft ; he draws great companies to him by undertaking strange things, which can never be effected. The politician (by his example no doubt) finding how the people are taken with spurious miraculous impossibilities, plays the same game; protests, declares, promises I know not what things, which he is sure can never be brought about. The people believe, are deluded, and pleased ; the expectation of a future good, which shall never befal them, draws their eyes off a present evil. Thus are they kept