« ZurückWeiter »
No. 1.] Thursday, March 1, 1710-11.
Non fumum ex fulgore, sed ex sumo dare lucem
One with a flash begins, and ends in smoke; Another out of smoke brings glorious light, And, (without raising expectation high) Surprises us with dazzling miracles. Roscommon. I Have observed that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure, till he knows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a bachelor, with other particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an author. To gratify this curiosity, which is so natural to a reader, I design this paper and my next, as prefatory discourses to my following writings, and shall give some account in them of the several persons that are engaged in this work. As the chief trouble of compiling, digesting and correcting will fall to my share, I must do myself the justice to open the work with my own history. I was born to a small heréditary estate, which according to the tradition of the village where it lies, was bounded by the same hedges and ditches in William the Conqueror’s time that it is at present, and has been delivered down from father to son, whole and entire, without the loss or acquisition of a single field or meadow, during the space of six hundred years. There runs a story in the family, that when my mother was gone with child of me about three months, she dreamt that she was brought to bed of a judge. Whether this might proceed from a lawsuit which was then depending in the family, or my father's being a justice of the peace, I cannot determine; for I am not so vain as to think it presaged any dignity that I should arrive at in my future life, though that was the interpretation which the neighbourhood put upon it. The gravity of my behaviour at my very first appearance in the world, and all the time that I sucked, seemed to favour my mother's dream : for, as she has often told me, I threw away my rattle before I was two months old, and would not make use of my coral until they had taken away the bells from it. As for the rest of my infancy, there being nothing in it remarkable, I shall pass
it over in silence. I find, that during m nonage, I had the reputation of a very . len youth, but was always a favourite with my schoolmaster, who used to say, “that my parts were solid, and would wear well.” I had not been long at the university, before I distinguished myself by a most profound silence; for during the space of eight years, excepting in the public exercises of the college, f scarce uttered the i. of an hundred words; and indeed o not remember that I ever spoke three sentences together in my whole life. Whilst I was in this learned body, I applied myself with so much diligence to my studies, that there are very few celebrated books, either in the learned or the modern tongues, which I am not acquainted with. Upon the death of my father, I was resolved to travel into foreign countries, and therefore left the university, with the character of an odd, unaccountable fellow, that had a great deal of learning, if I would but show it. An insatiable thirst after knowledge carried me into all the countries of Europe, in which there was any thing new or strange to be seen; nay, to such a degree was my curiosity raised, that having read the controversies of some great men concerning the antiquities of Egypt, I made a voyage to Grand Cairo, on purpose to take the measure of a pyramid: and as soon as I had set myself right in that particular, returned to my native country with great satisfaction.” I have passed my latter years in this city, where I am frequently seen in most public places, though there are not above half a dozen of my select friends that know me; of whom my next paper shall give a more particular account. There is no place of general resort wherein I do not often make my appearance; sometimes I am seen thrusting my head into a round of politicians at Will’s, and listening with great attention to the narratives that are made in those little circular audiences. Sometimes I smoke a pipe at Child’s, 1 and whilst I
* This is, probably, an allusion to Mr. John Greaves, astronomical professor at Oxford, who in 1646 published a work entitled Pyramidographia."
# Child's coffee house was in St. Paul's church-yard, and much frequented by the clergy; St. James's is in its original situation ; Jonathan's was in Changealley, and the Rose was on the west side of Temple-bar.
seem attentive to nothing but the Postman, overhear the conversation of every table in the room. I appear on Sunday nights at St. James's coffee-house, and sometimes join the little committee of politics in the inner-room, as one who comes there to hear and improve. My face is likewise very well known at the Grecian, the Cocoa-tree, and in the theatres both of Drury-lane and the Hay-market. I have been taken for a merchant upon the Exchange for above these ten years, and sometimes pass for a Jew in the assembly of stock-jobbers at Jonathan's. In short, wherever I see a cluster of people, I always mix with them, though I never open my lips but in my own club. . us I live in the world rather as a Spectator of mankind, than as one of the species, by which means I have made myself a speculative statesman, soldier, merchant, and artisan, without ever meddling with any practical part in life. I am very well versed in the theory of a husband, or a father, and can discern the errors in the economy, business, and diversion of others, better than those who are engaged in them; as standers-by discover blots, which are apt to escape those who are in the C. I never espoused any party with violence, and am resolved to observe an exact neutrality between the Whigs and Tories, unless I shall be forced to declare myself by the hostilities of either side. In short, I have acted in all the parts of my life as a looker-on, which is the character I intend toP. in this paper. have given the reader just so much of my history and character, as to let him see I am not altogether unqualified for the business I have undertaken. As for other particulars in my life and adventures, I shall insert them in following papers, as I shall see occasion. In the mean time, when I consider how much I have seen, read, and heard, I begin to blame, my own taciturnity; and since I have neithér time nor inclination, to communicate the fulness of my heart in speech, I am resolved to do it in writing, and to print, myself out, if possible, before I die. I have been often told by my friends, that it is a pity so many useful discoveries which I have made should be in the possession of a silent man. For this reason, therefore, I shall publish a sheet full of thoughts every morning, for the benefit of my contemporaries; and if I can any way contribute to the diversion, or improvement of the country in which I live, I shall leave it when I am summoned out of it, with the secret satisfaction of thinking that I have not lived in vain. There are three very material points which I have not spoken to in this paper; and which, for several important reasons, I must keep to myself, at least for some time: I mean an account of my name, my age, and my lodgings. I must confess, would gratify my reader in any thing that
is reasonable; but as for these three particulars, though I am sensible they might tend very much to the embellishment of my paper, I cannot yet come to a resolution of communicating them to the public. They would indeed draw me out of that obscurity which I have enjoyed for many years, and expose me in public places to several salutes and civilities, which have been always very disagreeable to me; for the greatest pain I can suffer, is the being talked to, and being stared at. It is for this reason likewise, that I keep my complexion, and dress as very great secrets; though it is not impossible but I may make discoveries of both in the progress of the work I have undertaken. After having been thus particular upon myself, I shall in to-morrow’s paper give an account of those gentlemen who are concerned with me in this work; for, as I have before intimated, a plan of it is laid and concerted (as all other matters of importance are) in a club. However, as my friends have engaged me to stand in the front, those who have a mind to corre... with me, may direct their letters to the Spectator, at Mr. Buckley's, in Little Britain. For I must further acquaint the reader, that though our club meet only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have ‘. pointed a committee to sit every night for the inspection of all such papers as may contribute to the advancement of the public weal.
No. 2..] Friday, March 2, 1710-11.
Ast alii sex Et plures, uno conclamant ore.—Jur. Sat. vii. 167.
Six more at least join their consenting voice.
The first of our society is a gentleman of Worcestershire, of an ancient descent, a baronet, his name is sir Roger de Coverly. His great grandfather was inventor of that famous country-dance which is called after him. All who know that shire are very well acquainted with the parts and the merits of sir Roger. He is a gentleman that is very singular in his behaviour, but his singularities proceed from his good sense, and are contradictions to the manners of the world, only as he thinks the world is in the wrong. However, this humour creates him no enemies, for he does nothing with sourness or obstinacy; and his being unconfined to modes and forms, makes him but the readier and more capable to please and oblige all who know him. When he is in town, he lives in Sohosquare.* It is said, he keeps himself a
* Soho-square was at that time the genteelest part of the town. The handsome house, built by the unfortunate, Duke of Monmouth, occupied, until the year 1773, the whole of the ground on which Bateman's
buildings now stand.
bachelor by reason he was crossed in love but not one case in the re
by a perverse beautiful widow of the next county to him. Before this disappointment, sir Roger was what you call a fine gentleman, had often supped with my Lord Rochester and sir George Etherege, fought a duel upon his first coming to town, and kicked bully Dawson* in a public coffeehouse for calling him youngster. But being ill used by the abovementioned widow, he was very serious for a year and a half; and though, his temper being naturally jovial, he at last got over it, he grew careless of himself, and never dressed afterwards. He continues to wear a coat and doublet of the same cut that were in fashion at the time of his repulse, which, in his merry humours, he tells us, has been in and out twelve times since he first wore it. It is said Sir Roger grew humble in his desires after he had forgot his cruel beauty, insomuch that it is reported he has frequently offended in point of chastity with beggars and gypsies: but this is looked upon, by his friends, rather as a matter of raillery than truth. He is now in his fifty-sixth year, cheerful, gay, and hearty; keeps a good house both in town and country; a great lover of mankind: but there is such a mirthful cast in his behaviour, that he is rather beloved than esteemed. His tenants grow rich, his servants look satisfied, all the young women profess love to him, and the young men are glad of his company. When he comes into a house, he calls the servants by their names, and talks all the way up stairs to a visit. I must not omit, that Sir Roger is a justice of the quorum; that he fills the chair at a quarter-sessions with great abilities, and three months ago gained universal applause, by explaining a passage in the game-act. The gentleman next in esteem and authority among us is another bachelor, who is a member of the Inner Temple, a man of great probity, wit and understanding; but he has chosen his place of residence rather to obey the direction of an old humoursome father, than in pursuit of his own inclinations. He was placed there to study the laws of the land, and is the most learned of any of the house in those of the stage. Aristotle and Longinus are much better understood by him than Littleton or Coke. The father sends up every post questions relating to marriage-articles, leases and tenures, in the neighbourhood; all which questions he agrees with an attorney to answer and take care of in the lump. He is studying the passions themselves when he should be inquiring into the debates among men which arise from them. He knows the argument of each of the orations of Demosthenes and Tully,
* This fellow was a noted sharper, swaggerer, and debauchee about town, at the time here pointed out; he was well known in Blackfriars and its then infa
rts of our own courts. No one ever took him for a fool; but none, except his intimate friends, know he has a great deal of wit. This turn makes him at once both disinterested and agreeable. As few of his thoughts are drawn from business, they are most of them fit for conversation. His taste for books is a little too just for the age he lives in; he has read all, but approves cf very few. His familiarity with the customs, manners, actions and writings of the ancients, makes him a very delicate observer of what occurs to him in the present world. He is an excellent critic, and the time of the play is his hour of business; exactly at five he passes through New-Inn, crosses through Russel-court, and takes a turn at Will’s till the play begins; he has his shoes rubbed and his periwig powdered at the barber's as you go into the Rose. It is for the good of the audience when he is at a play, for the actors have an ambition to please him. The person of next consideration is Sir Andrew Freeport, a merchant of great: eminence in the city of London; a person of indefatigable industry, strong reason, and great experience. His notions of trade are noble and generous, and (as every rich man has usually some sly way of jesting, which would make no great figure were he not a rich man) he calls the sea the British Common. ... He is acquainted with commerce in all its parts, and will tell you that it is a stupid and barbarous way to extend dominion by arms; for true power is to be got by arts and industry. He will often argue, that if this part of our trade were well cultivated, we should gain from one nation; and if another, from another. I have heard him prove, that diligence makes more lasting acquisitions than valour, and that sloth has ruined more nations than the sword. He abounds in several frugal maxims, amongst which the greatest favourite is, “A penny saved is a penny got.’ A general trader of good sense is pleasanter company than a general scholar; and Sir Andrew having a natural unaffected eloquence, the perspicuity of his discourse gives the same pleasure that wit would in another man. He has made his fortune himself; and says that England
may be richer than other kingdoms, by as
plain methods as he himself is richer than other men; though at the same time I can say this of him, that there is not a point in the compass, but blows home a ship in which he is an owner. Next to Sir Andrew in the club-room sits Captain Sentry, a gentleman of great courage, good understanding, but invincible modesty. He is one of those that deserve very well but are very awkward at putting their talents within the observation of such as should take notice of them. He was some years a captain, and behaved
himself with great gallantry in several engagements and at several sieges; but having a small estate of his own, and being next heir to Sir Roger, 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 modesF; When he has talked to this purpose, 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 behaviour, are in themselves obstacles to him that must press through crowds who endeavour at the same end with himself, the favour 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 says it is a civil cowardice to be backwardin asserting what you ought to expect, as it is a military fear to be slow in attacking when it is your duty. With this candour does the +. speak of himself and others. 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 a habit of obeying men highly above him. But that our society may not appear a set of humourists, unacquainted with the gallantries and pleasures of the age, we have amongst us the gallant Will Honeycomb; a gentleman who, according to his years, should be in the decline his life; but having ever been very careful of his person, and always had a very easy fortune, time has made but a very little impression, 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. He can 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, that way of placing their hoods; whose frailty was covered by 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
he same frankness runs through
a word, all his conversation and knowledge has been in the female world. As other i 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 wo— man 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 a blow of a fan from some celebrated beauty, mother of the present lord Such-a-one. If you speak of a young commoner, that said a lively thing in the house, he starts up, “He has good blood in his vein; Tom Mirable begot him; the rogue cheated me in that affair; that young fellow’s mother used me more like a dog than any woman I ever made advances to.” This way of talking of his, very much enlivens the conversation amongst us of a more sedate turn; and I find there is not one of the company, but myself, who rarely speak at all, but speaks of him as of that sort of man, who is usually called a wellbred fine gentleman. To conclude his chao where women are not concerned, he is an honest worthy man.
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, it 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 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.
No. 3..] Saturday, March 3, 1710-11.
Et quoi quisque fore studio devinctus adheret.
—What studies please, what most delight,
IN one of my rambles, or rather speculations, I looked into the great hall, where the bank is kept, and was not a little pleased
to see the directors, secretaries, and clerks, with all the other members of that wealthy corporation, ranged in their several stations, according to the parts they act in that just and regular economy. This revived in my memory the many discourses which I had both read and heard, concerning the decay of public credit, with the methods of restoring it, and which in my opinion, have always been defective, because they have always been made with an eye to separate interests, and party principles. The thoughts of the day gave my mind employment for the whole night, so that I fell insensibly into a kind of methodical dream, which disposed all my contempla– tions into a vision or allegory, or what else the reader shall please to call it. Methought I returned to the great hall, where I had been the morning before, but to my surprise, instead of the company that I left there, I saw, towards the upper end of the hall, a beautiful virgin seated on a throne of gold. Her name (as they told me) was Public Credit. The walls, instead of being adorned with pictures and maps, were hung with many acts of parliament written in golden letters. At the upper end of the hall was the Magna Charta, with the Act of Uniformity on the right hand, and the Act of Toleration on the left. At the lower end of the hall was the Act of Settlement, which was placed full in the eye of the virgin that sat upon the throne. Both the sides of the hall were covered with such acts of parliament as had been made for the establishment of public funds. The lady seemed to set an unspeakable value upon these several pieces of furniture, insomuch that she often refreshed her
eye with them, and often smiled with a se
cret pleasure, as she looked upon them; but, at the same time, showed a very particular uneasiness, if she saw any thing approaching that might hurt them. She appeared, indeed, infinitely timorous in all her behaviour: and whether it was from the delicacy of her constitution, or that she was troubled with vapours as I was afterwards told by one, who I found was none of her well-wishers, she changed colour, and startled at every thing she heard. She was likewise (as I afterwards found) a greater valetudinarian than any I had ever met with, even in her own sex, and subject to such momentary consumptions, that in the twinkling of an eye, she would fall away from the florid complexion, and most healthful state of body, and wither into a skeleton. Her recoveries were often as sudden as her decays, insomuch that she would revive in a moment out of a wasting distemper, into a habit of the highest health and vigour. I had very soon an opportunity of observing these quick turns and changes in her constitution. There sat at her feet a couple of secretaries, who received every hour
letters from all parts of the world, which the one or the other of them was perpetually reading to her; and, according to the news she heard, to which she was exceedingly attentive, she changed colour, and discovered many symptoms of health or sickness.
Behind the throne was a prodigious heap of bags of money, which were piled u one another so high that they touched the ceiling. The floor on her right hand, and on her left, was covered with vast sums of gold that rose up in pyramids on either side of her. But this I did not so much wonder at, when I heard upon inquiry, that she had the same virtue in her touch, which the poets tell us a Lydian king was formerly possessed of: and that she could convert whatever she pleased into that precious metal.
After a little dizziness, and confused hurry of thought, which a man often meets with in a dream, methought the hall was alarmed, the doors flew open and there entered half a dozen of the most hideous phantoms that I had ever seen (even in a dream) before that time. They came in two by two, though matched in the most dissociable manner, and mingled together in a kind of dance. It would be tedious to describe their habits and persons, for which reason I shall only inform my reader, that the first couple were Tyranny and Anarchy, the second were Bigotry and Atheism, and the third the genius of a commonwealth, and a young man of about twenty-two years of age,” whose name I could not learn. He had a sword in his right hand, which in the dance he often brandished at the Act of Settlement; and a citizen, who stood by me, whispered in my ear, that he saw a sponge in his left hand, f The dance of so many jarring natures put me in mind of the sun, moon, and earth, in the Rehearsal, that danced together for no other end but to eclipse one another.
The reader will easily suppose, by what has been before said, that the lady on the throne would have been almost frighted to distraction, had she seen but any one of these spectres; what then must have been her condition when she saw them all in a body ? She fainted and died away at the sight.
“Et neque jam colorest misto candore rubori;
Nec vigor, et vires, et qua modó visa placebant; Nec corpus remanet Orid, Mct. iii. 49.
- Her spirits faint, Her blooming cheeks assume a pallid teint, And scarce her form remains."
There was as great a change in the hill of money-bags, and the heaps of money; the former shrinking and falling into so many empty bags, that I now found not
* James Stuart, the pretended Prince of Wales, born June 10, 1688. See Tat. No. 187. f To wipe out the national debt.