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am more than afraid, that these things which shock me even in the behaviour of a mistress, will appear insupportable in that of a wife. I am, sir, yours, &c.”
My next letter comes from a correspondent whom I cannot but very much value, upon the account which she gives of herself.
‘MR. SPECTAtoR.—I am happily arrived at a state of tranquillity, which few people envy, I mean that of an old maid; therefore being wholly unconcerned in all that medley of follies which our sex is apt to contract from their silly fondness of yours, I read your railleries on us, without provocation. I can say with Hamlet, —“Man delights not me, Nor woman neither.” “Therefore, dear sir, as you never spare your own sex, do not be afraid of reproving what is ridiculous in ours, and you will oblige at least one woman, who is your humble servant,
I HAPPENED the other day, as my way is, to stroll into a little coffee-house beyond Aldgate; and as I sat there, two or three very plain sensible men were talking of the Spectator. One said, he had that morning drawn the great benefit ticket; another wished he had; but a third shaked his head and said, It was a pity that the writer of that paper was such a sort of man, that it was no great matter whether he had or no. He is, it seems, said the good man, the most extravagant creature in the world; has run through vast sums, and yet been in continual want: a man, for all he talks so well of economy, unfit for any of the offices of life by reason of his profuseness. It would be an unhappy thing to be his wife, his child, or his friend; and yet he talks as well of those duties of life as any one. Much reflection has brought me to so easy a contempt for every thing which is false, that this heavy accusation gave me no manner of uneasiness; but at the same time it threw me into deep thought upon the subject of fame in general; and I could not but pity such as were so weak, as to value what the common people say out of their own talka
tive temper to the advantage or diminution of those whom they mention, without bein moved either by malice or good-will. It will be too long to expatiate upon the sense all mankind have of fame, and the inexpressible pleasure which there is in the approbation of worthy men, to all who are capable of worthy actions, but methinks one may divide the general word fame into three different species, as it regards the different orders of mankind who have any thing to do with it. Fame therefore may be divided into glory, which respects the hero; reputation, which is preserved by every gentleman; and credit, which must be supported o every tradesman. These possessions in fame are dearer than life to those characters of men, or rather are the life of these characters. Glory, while the hero pursues great and noble enterprises, is impregnable; and all the assailants of his renown do but show their pain and impatience of its brightness, without throwing the least shade upon it. If the foundation of an high name be virtue and service, all that is offered against it is but rumour, which is too short-lived to stand up in competition with glory, which is everlasting.
Reputation, which is the portion of every man who would live with the elegant and knowing part of mankind, is as stable as glory, if it be as well founded; and the common cause of human society is thought concerned when we hear a man of g behaviour calumniated. Besides which, according to a prevailing custom amongst us, every man has his defence in his own arm: and reproach is soon checked, put out of countenance, and overtaken by disgrace.
The most unhappy of all men, and the most exposed to the malignity and wantonness of the common voice, is the trader. Credit is undone in whispers. The tradesman’s wound is received from one who is more private and more cruel than the ruffian with the lantern and dagger. The manner of repeating a man's name, As; “Mr. Cash, Oh! do you leave your money at his shop? Why, do you know Mr. Searoom? He is indeed a general merchant.' I say, I have seen, from the iteration of a man’s name, hiding one thought of him, and explaining what you hide, by saying something to his advantage when you speak, a merchant hurt in his credit; and him who, every day he lived, literally added to the value of his native country, undone b one who was only a burden and a blemis to it. Since every body who knows the world is sensible of this great evil, how careful ought a man to be in his o: of a merchant? It may possibly be in the power of a very shallow creature to lay the ruin of the best family in the ... lent city; and the more so, the more highly he deserves of his country; that is to say, the farther he places his wealth out of his hands, to draw home that of another climate.
In this case an ill word may change plenty into want, and by a rash sentence a free and generous fortune may in a few days be reduced to beggary. How little does a giddy prater imagine, that an idle phrase to the disfavour of a merchant, may be as pernicious in the consequence, as the for§. of a deed to bar an inheritance would e to a gentleman? Land stands where it did before a gentleman was calumniated,
and the state of a great action is just as it.
was before calumny was offered to diminish it, and there is time, place, and occasion, expected to unravel all that is contrived against those characters; but the trader who is ready only for probable demands upon him, can have no armour against the inquisitive, the malicious, and the envious, who are prepared to fill the cry to his dishonour. Fire and sword are slow engines of destruction, in comparison of the babbler in the case of the merchant. For this reason I thought it an imitable piece of humanity of a gentleman of m acquaintance, who had great variety of affairs, and used to talk with warmth enough against gentlemen by whom he thought himself ill dealt with; that he would never let anything be urged against a merchant (with whom he had any difference) except in a court of justice. He used to say, that to speak ill of a merchant, was to begin his suit with judgment and execution. One cannot, I think, say more on this occasion, than to repeat, that the merit of the merchant is above that of all other subjects; for while he is untouched in his credit, his hand-writing is a more portable coin for the service of his fellow-citizens, and his word the gold of Ophir to the country wherein he resides. T.
No. 219.] Saturday, Movember 10, 1711.
Wix ea nostra voco.— Opid. Met. Lib. xiii. 141. These I scarce call our own.
THERE are but few men, who are not ambitious of distinguishing themselves in the nation or country where they live, and of growing considerable among those with whom they converse. There is a kind of grandeur and respect, which the meanest and most insignificant part of mankind endeavour to procure in the little circle of their friends and acquaintance. The poorest mechanic, nay, the man who lives upon common alms, gets him his set of admirers, and delights in that superiority which he enjoys over those who are in some respects beneath him. This ambition, which is natural to the soul of man, might methinks receive a very happy turn; and, if it were rightly directed, contribute as much to a person's advantage, as it generally does to his uneasiness and disquiet.
I shall therefore put together some thoughts on this subject, which I have not met with in other writers; and shall set
them down as they have occurred to me, without being at the pains to connect or methodise them. All superiority and pre-eminence that one man can have over another, may be reduced to the notion of quality, which, considered at large, is either that of fortune, body, or mind. The first is that which consists in birth, title, or riches; it is the most foreign to our natures, and what we can the least call our own of any of the three kinds of quality. In relation to the body, quality arises from health, strength, or beauty; which are nearer to us, and more a part of ourselves than the former. Quality, as it regards the mind, has its rise from knowledge or virtue; and is that which is more essential to us, and more intimately united with us than either of the other two. The quality of fortune, though a man has less reason to value himself upon it than on that of the body or mind, is however the kind of quality which makes the most shining figure in the eye of the world. As virtue is the most reasonable and genuine source of honour, we generally find in titles an intimation of some particular merit that should recommend men to the high stations which they possess. Holiness is ascribed to the pope; majesty to kings: serenity or mildness of temper to princes; excellence or perfection to ambassadors; grace to archbishops; honour to peers; worship or venerable behaviour to magistrates; and reverence, which is of the same import as the former, to the inferior clergy. In the founders of great families, such attributes of honour are generally correspondent with the virtues of the person to whom they are applied; but in the descendants they are too often the marks rather of #. than of merit. The stamp and enomination still continues, but the intrinsic value is frequently lost. The death-bed shows the emptiness of titles in a true light. A poor dispirited sinner lies trembling under the apprehensions of the state he is entering on; and is asked by a grave attendant how his holiness does? Another hears himself addressed to under the title of highness or excellency, who lies under such mean circumstances of mortality as are the disgrace of human nature. Titles at such a time look rather like insults and mockery than respect. The truth of it is, honours are in this world under no regulation; true quality is neglected, virtue is oppressed, and vice triumphant. The last day will rectify this disorder, and assign to every one a station suitable to the dignity of his character. Ranks will be then adjusted, and precedency set right. Methinks we should have an ambition, if not to advance ourselves in another world, at least to preserve our post in it, and outshine our inferiors in virtue here, that they may not be put above us in a state which is to settle the distinction for eternity.
Men in Scripture are called strangers and sojourners upon earth, and life a pilgrimage. Several heathen, as well as Christian authors, under the same kind of metaphor, have represented the world as an inn, which Was . designed to furnish us with accommodations in this our passage. It is therefore very absurd to think of setting up our rest before we come to our journey’s end, and not rather to take care of the reception we shall there meet, than to fix our thoughts on the little conveniences and advantages which we enjoy one above another in the way to it. Epictetus makes use of another kind of allusion, which is very beautiful, and wono proper to incline us to be satisfied with the post in which Providence has placed us. We are here, says he, as in a theatre, where every one has a part allotted to him. The great duty which lies upon a man is to act his part in perfection. e may indeed say, that our part does not suit us, and that we could act another better. But this, says the philosopher, is not our business. All that we are concerned in is to excel in the part which is given us. If it be an improper one, the fault is not in us, but in Him who has cast our several parts, and is the great disposer of the drama. * The part that was acted by this philosoher himself was but a very indifferent one, or he lived and died a slave. His motive to contentment in this particular, receives a very great enforcement from the abovementioned consideration, if we remember that our parts in the other world will be new-cast, and that mankind will be there ranged in different stations of superiority and pre-eminence, in proportion as they have here excelled one another in virtue, and performed in their several posts of life the duties which belong to them. There are many beautiful passages in the little apocryphal book, entitled, The Wisdom of Solomon, to set forth the vanity of honour, and the like temporal blessings which are in so great repute among men, and to comfort those who have not the possession of them. It represents in very warm and noble terms this advancement of a good man in the other world, and the great surprise which it will produce among those who are his superiors in this. “Then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labours, hen they see it they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of his salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for. And they repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit, shall say within themselves, This was he whom we had sometime in derision, and a Fo of reproach. We fools accounted is life madness and his end to be without
honour. How is he numbered among the
children of God, and his lot is among the saints!”f If the reader would see the description of a life that is passed away in vanity and among the shadows of pomp and greatness, he may see it very finely drawn in the same place, it In the mean time, since it is necessary in the present constitution of things, that order and distinction should be kept up in the world, we should be happy, if those who enjoy the upper stations in it, would endeavour to surpass others in virtue, as much as in rank, and by their humanity and condescension make their superiority easy and acceptable to those who are beneath them; and if, on the contrary, those who are in meaner posts of life, would consider how they may better their condition hereafter, and by a just deference and submission to their superiors, make them happy in those blessings with which Provido has thought fit to distinguish them.
No. 220.] Monday, JVovember 12, 1711,
Rumoresque serit varios——
‘SIR,-Why will you apply to my father for my love? I cannot helpitif he will give you my person; but I assure you it is not in his power, nor even in my own, to give you my heart. Dear sir, do but consider the ill consequence of such a match; you are fiftyfive, I twenty-one. You are a man of business, and mightily conversant in arithmetic and making calculations; be pleased therefore to consider what proportion your spirits bear to mine; and when you have made a just estimate of the necessary decay on one side, and the redundance on the other, you will act accordingly. This perhaps is such
language as you may not expect from a young lady; but my happiness is at stake, and I must talk plainly. I mortally hate
you; and so, as you and my father agree, you may take me or leave met but if you will be so good as never to see me more, you will for ever oblige, sir, your most humble servant, ENRIETTA.”
‘MR. SPECTAToR,--There are so many artifices and modes of false wit, and such a variety of humour discovers itself among its votaries, that it would be impossible to exhaust so fertile a subject, if you would think fit to resume it. he following instances may, if you think fit, be added by way of appendix to your discourses on that subject.
* That feat of poetical activity mentioned by Horace, of an author who could compose two hundred verses while he stood o one leg, has been imitated (as I have heard, by a modern writer; who priding himse on the hurry of his invention, thought it no
f Wisd. ch. v. 1–5 # Ibid. ch. v. 8–14.
small addition to his fame to have each I. minuted with the exact number of
ours or days it cost him in the composition. He could taste no praise until he had acquainted you in how short space of time he had deserved it; and was not so much led to an ostentation of his art, as of his despatch :
—Accipe, si vis, Accipe jam tabulas; detur nobis locus, hora, Custodes: videamus uter plus scribere possit. Hor. Lib. 1. Sat, iv. 1.
Here's pen and ink, and time, and place; let's try Who can write most, and fastest, you or I.-Creech. “This was the whole of his ambition; and therefore I cannot but think the flights of this rapid author very proper to be opposed to those laborious nothings which you have observed were the delight of the German wits, and in which they so rapidly got rid of such a tedious quantity of their time. “I have known a gentleman of another turn of humour, who o: the name of an author, never printed his works, but contracted his talent, and by the help of a very fine diamond which he wore on his little finger, was a considerable poet upon glass. He had a very good epigrammatic wit; and there was not a parlour or tavern window where he visited or dined for some years, which did not receive some sketches or memorials of it. It was his misfortune at last to lose his genius and his ring to a sharper at play, and he has not attempted to make a verse since. “But of all contractions or expedients for wit, I admire that of an ingenious projector whose book I have seen. This virtuoso being a mathematician, has according to his taste, thrown the art of poetry into a short problem, and contrived tables, by which any one without knowing a word of mmar or sense, may to his great comfort able to compose, or rather to erect, Latin verses.” is tables are a kind of tical logarithms, which being divided into several squares, and all inscribed with so many incoherent words, appear to the eye somewhat like a fortune-telling screen. hat a joy must it be to the unlearned operator to find that these words being carefully collected and writ down in order according to the problem, start of themselves into hexameter and pentameter yerses? Afriend of mine, who is a student in astrology, meeting with this book, performed the operation, by the rules there set down; he showed his verses to the next of his acquaintance, who happened to understand Latin; and being informed they described a tempest of wind, very luckily prefixed them, together with a translation, to an almanack he was just then printing, and was supposed to have foretold the last great storm.f
* This erecter of Latin verses was a John Peter, who in 1678 published an 8vo, pamphlet, entitled Artificial Versifying, a new Way to make Latin verses. t November 26th, 1703.
I think the only improvement beyond this, would be that which the late Duke of Buckingham mentioned to a stupid pretender to poetry, as the project of a Dutch mechanic, viz. a mill to make verses. This being the most compendious method of all which have yet been proposed, may deserve the thoughts of our modern virtuosi, who are employed in new discoveries for the public good; and it may be worth the while to consider, whether in an island where few are content without being thought wits, it will not be a common benefit, that wit as well as labour should be made cheap. I am, sir, your humble servant, &c.”
“Mr. SPEctator, I often dine at a gentleman's house where there are two young ladies in themselves very agreeable,
ut very cold in their behaviour, because they understand me for a person that is to “break my mind,” as the phrase is, very suddenly to one of them. É. I take this way to acquaint them that I am not in love with either of them, in hopes they will use me with that agreeable freedom and indifference which they do all the rest of the world, and not to drink to one another only, but sometimes cast a kind look, with their service to, sir, your humble servant.”
“MR. SPECTAtoR,--I am a young gentleman, and take it for a piece of goodbreeding to pull off my hat when I see any thing peculiarly charming in any woman, whether I know her or not. I take care that there is nothing ludicrous or arch in my manner, as if I were to betray a woman into a salutation by way of jest or humour; and yet, except I am acquainted with her, I find she ever takes it for a rule, that she is to look upon this civility and homage I pay to her supposed merit, as an impertinence or forwardness which she is to observe and neglect. I wish, sir, you would settle the business of salutation; and please to inform me how I shall resist the sudden impulse I have to be civil to what gives an idea of merit; or tell these creatures how to behave themselves in return to the esteem I have for them. ... My affairs are such, that your decision will be a favour to me, if it be only to save the unnecessary expense of wearing out my hat so fast as I do at present. I am, sir, yours, T. D.”
“There are some that do know me, and won’t bow to me.”
No. 221.] Tuesday, Movember 13, 1711.
Usque ad mala Hor, Lib. 1. Sat. iii. 6.
WHEN I have finished any of my speculations, it is my method to consider which of the ancient authors have touched upon the subject that I treat of. By this means I meet with some celebrated thought upon it, or a thought of my own expressed in better words, or some similitude for the illustration of my subject. This is what gives birth to the motto of a speculation, which I rather choose to take out of the poets than the prose writers, as the former generally gives a finer turn to a thought than the latter, and by couching it in few words and in harmonious numbers, make it more portable to the memory. My reader is therefore sure to meet with at least one good line in every paper, and very often finds his imagination entertained by a hint that awakens in his memory some beautiful passage of a classic author. It was a saying of an ancient philosoher,” which I find some of our writers ave ascribed to Queen Elizabeth, who perhaps might have taken occasion to repeat it, that a good face is a letter of recommendation. It naturally makes the beholders inquisitive into the person who is the owner of it, and generally prepossesses them in his favour. A handsome motto has the same effect. Besides that it always gives a supernumerary beauty to a paper, and is sometimes in a manner necessary, when the writer is engaged in what may appear a paradox to vulgar minds, as it shows, that he is supported by good authorities, and is not singular in his opinion. I must confess, the motto is of little use to an unlearned reader, for which reason I consider it only as “a word to the wise.” But as for my unlearned friends, if they cannot relish the motto, I take care to make provision for them in the body of my E.P. If they do not understand the sign that is hung out, they know very well by it that they may meet with entertainment in the house; and I think I was never better pleased than with a plain man’s compliment, who upon his friends telling him §. he would like the Spectator much better if he understood the motto, replied, that “good wine needs no bush.” I have heard of a couple of preachers in a country town, who endeavoured which . outshine one another, and do ‘. er the greatest con tion. ne É. being well versed ...he'. used to quote every now and then a Latin sentence to his illiterate hearers, who it seems found themselves so edified by it, that they flocked in greater numbers to this learned man than to his rival. The other finding his congregation mouldering every Sunday, and hearing at length what was the occasion of it, resolved to give his parish a little Latin in his turn; but being unacquainted with any of the Fathers, he digested into his sermons the whole book of Quae Genus,
* Aristotle, or, according to some, Diogenes. See Diogenes Laertius, lib. 5. cap. 1, n. 11.
* The mottos in the original publication were not translated.
adding however such explications to it as he thought might be for the benefit of his people. He afterwards entered upon .As in Praesenti, which he converted in the same manner to the use of his parishioners. This in a very little time thickened his audience, filled his church, and routed his antagonist. The natural love to Latin, which is so prevalent in our common people, makes me think that my speculations fare never the worse among them for that little scra which appears at the head of them; and what the more encourages me in the use of quotations in an unknown tongue, is, that I hear the ladies, whose approbation I value more than that of the whole learned world, declare themselves in a particular manner pleased with my Greek mottos. Designing this day’s work for a dissertation upon the two extremities of my papers, and having already despatched my motto, I shall, in the next place, discourse upon those single capitalletters, which are placed at the end of it, and which have afforded •eat matter of speculation to the curious. have heard various conjectures upon this subject. Some tell us that C is the mark of those papers that are written by the clergyman, though others ascribe them to the club in general: that the papers marked with R were written by my friend Sir Roger: that L signifies the lawyer, whom I have described in my second speculation; and that T stands for the trader or merchant. But the letter X, which is placed at the end of some few of my papers, is that which has puzzled the whole town, as they cannot think of any name which begins with that letter, except Xenophon and Xerxes, who can neither of them be supposed to have had any hand in these speculations. In answer to these inquisitive gentlemen, who have many of them made inquiries of me by letter, I must tell them the reply of an ancient philosopher, who carried something hidden under his cloak. A certain acquaintance desiring him to let him know what it was he covered so carefully: “I cover it,” says he, “on purpose that you should not know.” I have made use of these obscure marks for the same purpose. They are, perhaps, little amulets or charms to preserve the paper against the fascination and malice of evil eyes: for which reason I would not have my reader surprised if hereafter he sees any of my papers marked with a Q, a Z, Y, an &c. or with the word Abracadabra. I shall, however, so far explain myself to the reader, as to let him know that the letters C, L, and X, are cabalistical, and carry more in them than it is proper for the world to be acquainted with. hose who are versed in the philosophy of Pythagoras, and swear by the Tetrachtys, that is the number four,” will know very well that the
* See Stanley's Lives of the Philosophers, page 527, 2nd edition, 1687, folio.