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he has quitted a way of life in which no man can rise suitably to his merit who is not something of a courtier as well as a soldier. I have heard him often lament, that in a profession where merit is placed in so conspicuous a view, impudence should get the better of modesty. When he has talked to this
purpose, I never heard him make a sour expression, but frankly confess that he left the world, because he was not fit for it. A strict honesty, and an even regular behavior, are in themselves obstacles to him that must press through crowds, who endeavor at the same end with himself-the favor of a commander. He will, however, in his way of talk, excuse generals for not disposing according to men's desert, or inquiring into it; for, says he, that great man who has a mind to help me, has as many to break through to come at me, as I have to come at him. Therefore he will conclude that the man who would make a figure, especially in a military way, must get over all false modesty, and assist his patron against the importunity of other pretenders, by a proper assurance in his own vindication. He
it is a civil cowardice to be backward in affecting what 'you ought to expect, as it is a military fear to be slow in attacking when it is your duty. With this candor does the gentlemen speak of himself and others. The same frankness runs through all his conversation. The military part of his life has furnished him with many adventures, in the relation of which he is very agreeable to the company; for he is never overbearing, though accustomed to command men in the utmost degree below him; nor ever too obsequious, from an habit of obeying men highly above him.
But that our society may not appear a set of humorists, unacquainted with the gallantries and pleasures of the age, we have among us the gallant Will IIoneycomb, a gentleman who, according to his years, should be in the decline of his
life, but having ever been very careful of his person, and always had a very easy fortnne, Time has made but a very little impression upon him, either by wrinkles on his forehead or traces on his brain. His person is well turned, and of a good height. He is very ready at that sort of discourse with which men usually entertain women. He has all his life dressed very well, and remembers habits as others do men. smile when one speaks to him, and laughs easily. He knows the history of every mode, and can inform you from which of the French king's Wenches our wives and daughters had this manner of curling their hair, or that way of placing their hoods; whose frailty was covered with such a sort of petticoat, and whose vanity to show her foot made that part of the dress so short in such a year. In a word, all his conversation and knowledge have been in the female world. As other men of his age will take notice to you what such a minister said upon such and such an occasion, he will tell you, when the Duke of Monmouth danced at court, such a woman was then smitten; another was taken with him at the head of his troop in the park. In all these important relations, he has ever about the same time received a kind glance or blow of the fan from some celebrated beauty, mother of the present Lord Such-a-one.
I cannot tell whether I am to account him whom I am next to speak of as one of our company, for he visits us but seldom ; but when he does, he adds to every man else a new enjoyment of himself. He is a clergyman, a very philosophic man, of general learning, great sanctity of life, and the most exact good breeding. He has the misfortune to be of a very weak constitution, and consequently cannot accept of such cares and such business as preferments in his function would oblige him to. He is therefore among divines what a chamber counsellor is among lawyers. The probity of his mind,
and the integrity of his life, create him followers; as being eloquent or loud advances others. He seldom introduces the subject he speaks upon; but we are so far gone in years, that he observes, when he is among us, an earnestness to have him fall on some divine topic, which he always treats with much authority, as one who has no interest in this world; as one who is hastening to the object of all his wishes, and conceives hope from his decays and infirmities. These are my ordinary companions.
THE CLUB OF THE TATLER.*
BY THE SAME.
“ Habeo senectuti magnam gratiam, quæ mihi sermonis aviditatem auxit, potionis et cibi sustulit."
TULL. DE SEN.
“I am much beholden to old age, which has increased my eagerness for conversation, in proportion as it has lessened my appetite of hunger and thirst.”
attention to my studies, it is my usual custom to relax and unbend it in the conversation of such as are rather easy than shining companions. This I find particularly necessary for me before I retire to rest, in order to draw my
slumbers upon me by degrees, and fall asleep insensibly. This is the particular use I make of a set of heavy honest men, with whom I have passed many hours with much indolence, though not with great pleasure. Their conversation is a kind of preparative for sleep. It takes the mind down from its abstractions, leads it into the familiar traces of thought, and lulls it into that state of tranquillity which is the condition of a thinking man when he is but half awake. After this my reader will not be surprised to hear the account which I am about to give of a club of my own conteniporaries, among
* No. 132.
pass two or three hours every evening. This I look upon as taking my first nap before I go to bed. The truth of it is, I should think myself unjust to posterity, as well as to the society at the Trumpet,* of which I am a member, did not I in some part of my writings give an account of the persons among whom I have passed almost a sixth part of my time for these last forty years. Our club consisted originally of fifteen; but, partly by the severity of the law in arbitrary times, and partly by the natural effects of old age, we are at present reduced to a third part of that number; in which, however, we have this consolation, that the best company is said to consist of five persons. I must confess, besides the afore-mentioned benefit which I meet with in the conversation of this select society, I am not the less pleased with the company in which I find myself the greatest wit among them, and am heard as their oracle in all points of learning and difficulty.
Sir Jeoffry Notch, who is the oldest of the club, has been in possession of the right-hand chair time out of mind, and is the only man among us that has the liberty of stirring the fire. This, our foreman, is a gentleman of an ancient family that came to a great estate some years before he had discretion, and run it out in hounds, horses, and cock-fighting; for which reason he looks upon himself as an honest worthy gentleman, who has had misfortunes in the world, and calls every thriving man an upstart.
* The Trumpet was a public-house in the lane in which Steele, as the Tatler or Mr. Bickerstaff, pretended to live. This lane was no greater locality than Shire Lane, lately so called, close to Temple Bar, now Great Shire Lane; and the Trumpet is still extant as a public-house, called the Duke of York. Here, in the drawing-room (for the dignity's sake), we may fancy Major Matchlock and old Dick Reptile doling forth their respective insipidities.
Major Matchlock is the next senior, who served in the last civil wars, and has all the battles by heart. He does not think any action in Europe worth talking of since the fight of Marston Moor;* and every night tells us of his having been knocked off his horse at the rising of the London apprentices ;t for which he is in great esteem amongst us.
Honest old Dick Reptile is the third of our society. He is a good-natured indolent man, who speaks little himself, but laughs at our jokes; and brings his young nephew along with him, a youth of eighteen years old, to show him good company, and give him a taste of the world. This young fellow sits generally silent, but whenever he opens his mouth, or laughs at anything that passes, he is constantly told by his uncle, after a jocular manner, “ Ay, ay, Jack, you young men think us fools; but we old men know you are."
The greatest wit of our company, next to myself, is a Bencher of the neighboring Inn, who in his youth frequented the ordinaries about Charing Cross, and pretends to have been intimate with Jack Ogle. I He has about ten distichs of Hudibras without book, and never leaves the club until he has applied them all. If any modern wit be mentioned, or any town frolic spoken of, he shakes his head at the dulness of the present age, and tells us a story of Jack Ogle. For my part, I am esteemed
them because they
* In 1644, where Cromwell's cavalry turned the day against Charles I.
† Probably in 1647, when they forced their way into the House of Commons with a petition signed by ten thousand citizens. But as the date of the club is 1709, the Major must have been a very old gentleman indeed, if his memory served him rightly.
# Jack Ogle was a wild fellow about town, whose sister is said to have been one of the mistresses of the Duke of York (James II.)