Friday, March 21, 1712. Steele.
Minus aptus acutis
Naribus horum hominum.
In your Speculation of Wednesday last, you have given us some Account of that worthy Society of Brutes the Mohocks; wherein you have particularly specify’d the ingenious Performance of the Lion-Tippers, the Dancing-Masters, and the Tumblers: But as you acknowledge you had not then a perfect History of the whole Club, you might very easily omit one of the most notable Species of it, the Sweaters, which may be reckon’d a sort of Dancing-Masters too. It is it seems the Custom for half a dozen, or more, of these well-dispos’d Savages, as soon as they have inclos’d the Person upon whom they design the Favour of a Sweat, to whip out their Swords, and holding them parallel to the Horizon, they describe a sort of Magick Circle round about him with the Points. As soon as this Piece of Conjuration is perform’d, and the Patient without doubt already beginning to wax warm, to forward the Operation, that Member of the Circle towards whom he is so rude as to turn his Back first, runs his Sword directly into that Part of the Patient wherein School-boys are punished; and, as it is very natural to imagine this will soon make him tack about to some other Point, every Gentleman does himself the same Justice as often as he receives the Affront. After this Jig has gone two or three times round, and the Patient is thought to have sweat sufficiently, he is very handsomly rubb’d down by some Attendants, who carry with them Instruments for that purpose, and so discharged. This Relation I had from a Friend of mine, who has lately been under this Discipline. He tells me he had the Honour to dance before the Emperor himself, not without the Applause and Acclamations both of his Imperial Majesty, and the whole Ring; tho I dare say, neither I or any of his Acquaintance ever dreamt he would have merited any Reputation by his Activity.
I can assure you, Mr. SPEC, I was very near being qualify’d to have given you a faithful and painful Account of this walking Bagnio, if I may so call it, my self: For going the other night along Fleet-street, and having, out of curiosity, just enter’d into Discourse with a wandring Female who was travelling the same Way, a couple of Fellows advanced towards us, drew their Swords, and cry out to each other, A Sweat! a Sweat! Whereupon suspecting they were some of the Ringleaders of the Bagnio, I also drew my Sword, and demanded a Parly; but finding none would be granted me, and perceiving others behind them filing off with great diligence to take me in Flank, I began to sweat for fear of being forced to it: but very luckily betaking my self to a Pair of Heels, which I had good Reason to believe would do me justice, I instantly got possession of a very snug Corner in a neighbouring Alley that lay in my Rear; which Post I maintain’d for above half an hour with great Firmness and Resolution, tho not letting this Success so far overcome me, as to make me unmindful of the Circumspection that was necessary to be observ’d upon my advancing again towards the Street; by which Prudence and good Management I made a handsome and orderly Retreat, having suffer’d no other Damage in this Action than the Loss of my Baggage, and the Dislocation of one of my Shoe-heels, which last I am just now inform’d is in a fair way of Recovery. These Sweaters, by what I can learn from my Friend, and by as near a View as I was able to take of them my self, seem to me to have at present but a rude kind of Discipline amongst them. It is probable, if you would take a little Pains with them, they might be brought into better order. But Ill leave this to your own Discretion; and will only add, that if you think it worth while to insert this by way of Caution to those who have a mind to preserve their Skins whole from this sort of Cupping, and tell them at the same time the Hazard of treating with Night-Walkers, you will perhaps oblige others, as well as