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MASONIC BIOGRAPHIES
FAMOUS FREEMASONS
SIR RICHARD STEELE
THE
TATLER;
Or, LUCUBRATIONS of
ISAAC BICKERSTAFF, Esq;
VOLUME the FIRST.
LONDON:
Printed for JACOB and RICHARD TONSON.
MDCCLIX.
Possibly the first mention of Freemasonry in a newspaper:
"But my Reason for troubling you at this present is, to put a Stop, if it may be, to an insinuating, increasing Set of People, who sticking to the Letter of your Treatise, and not to the Spirit of it, do assume the name of Pretty Fellows; nay, and even get new names, as you very well hint. Some of them I have heard calling to one another as I have sat at White's and Saint James, by the names of Betty, Nelly, and so forth. You see them accost each other with effeminate airs: They have their Signs and Tokens like Free-Masons."
vol. i, p. 231. (No. 26 Thursday, June 9, 1709)
"All persons of Quality admire me; though, rot me, if I value a blue garter any more than I do a blue apron."
vol. ii, p. 191. (No. 73 Tuesday, September 27, 1709)
Here, Bickerstaff refers to a well-dressed social set of gossips he calls the Insipids:
"You may see them at first sight grow acquainted by sympathy ; insomuch that one had not studied Nature, and did not know the true cause of their sudden familiarities, would think that they had some secret intimation of each other, like the Free-masons."
vol. iii, p. 333. (No. 166 Tuesday, May 2, 1710)

Text excerpted from 1759 edition, regular s substituted for the long s. Different capitalization referenced in: AQC 111 (1998) p. 11.

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