Page images
[blocks in formation]

AMONG the other hardy undertakings which I have proposed to myself, that of the correction of impudence is what I have very much at heart. This in a particular manner is my province as Spectator; for it is generally an offence committed by the eyes, and that against such as the offenders would perhaps never have an opportunity of injuring any other way. The following letter is a complaint of a young lady, who sets forth a trespass of this kind, with that command of herself as befits beauty and innocence, and yet with so much spirit as sufficiently expresses her indignation. The whole transaction is performed with the eyes; and the crime is no less than employing them in such a manner, as to divert the eyes of others from the best use they can make of them, even looking up

to Heaven:


THERE never was (I believe) an acceptable man

but had some awkward imitators. Ever since the

Spectator appeared, have I remarked a kind of men, whom I choose to call Starers; that without any regard to time, place, or modesty, disturb a large company with their impertinent eyes. Spectators make up a proper assembly for a puppet show or a bear-garden; but devout supplicants and attentive hearers, are the audience one ought to expect in churches. I am, sir, member of a small pious congregation near one of the north gates of this city; much the greater part of us indeed are females, and used to behave ourselves in a regular attentive manner, till very lately one whole aisle has been disturbed by one of these monstrous starers: he is the head taller than any one in the church; but for the greater advantage of exposing himself, stands upon a hassock, and commands the whole congregation, to the great annoyance of the devoutest part of the auditory; for what with blushing, confusion, and vexation, we can neither mind the prayers nor sermon. Your animadversion upon this insolence would be a great favour to,


'Your most humble servant,
's. c.'

I have frequently seen of this sort of fellows, and do think there cannot be a greater aggrava

[ocr errors]

tion of an offence, than that it is committed where the criminal is protected by the sacredness of the place which he violates. Many reflections of this sort might be very justly made upon this sort of behaviour, but a starer is not usually a person to be convinced by the reason of the thing; and a fellow that is capable of showing an impudent front before a whole congregation, and can bear being a public spectacle, is not so easily rebuked as to amend by admonitions. If, therefore, my correspondent does not inform me, that within seven days after this date the barbarian does not at least stand upon his own legs only, without an eminence, my friend Will Prosper has promised to take an hassock opposite to him, and stare against him in defence of the ladies. I have given him

* See No 19.

directions, according to the most exact rules of optics, to place himself in such a manner, that he shall meet his eyes wherever he throws them. I have hopes, that when Will confronts him, and all the ladies, in whose behalf be engages him, cast kind looks and wishes of success at their champion, he will have some shame, and feel a little of the pain he has so often put others to, of being out of countenance.

It has indeed been, time out of mind, generally remarked, and as often lamented, that this family of starers have infested public assemblies: and 1 know no other way to obviate so great an evil, except, in the case of fixing their eyes upon women, some male friend will take the part of such as are under the oppression of impudence, and encounter the eyes of the starers wherever they meet them. While we suffer our women to be thus impudently attacked, they have no defence, but in the end to cast yielding glances at the staren. In this case, a man who has no sense of shame, has the same advantage over his mistress, as he who has no regard for his own life has over his adversary. While the generality of the world are fettered by rules, and move by proper and just methods; he who has no respect to any of them, carries away the reward due to that propriety of behaviour, with no other merit but that of having neglected it.

I take an impudent fellow to be a sort of outlaw in good-breeding, and therefore what is said of him no nation or person can be concerned for. For this reason one may be free upon him. I have put myself to great pains in considering this prevailing quality which we call impudence, and have taken notice that it exerts itself in a different manner, according to the different soils wherein such subjects of these dominions, as are masters of it, were born. Impudence in an Englishman is sullen and insolent; in a Scotchman it is untractable and rapacious; in an Irishman, absurd and fawning: as the course of the world now runs, the impudent Englishman behaves like a surly landlord, the Scot like an ill-received guest, and the Irishman like a stranger, who knows he is not welcome. There is seldom any thing entertaining either in the impudence of a South or North Briton; but that of an Irishman is always comic. A true and genuine impudence is ever the effect of ignorance without the least sense of it. The best and most successful starers now in this town are of that nation: they have usually the advantage of the stature mentioned in the above letter of my correspondent, and generally take their stands in have known one of them, three months after he the eye of women of fortune; insomuch that I came from plough, with a tolerable good air, lead out a woman from a play, which one of our own breed, after four years at Oxford and two at the Temple, would have been afraid to look at.

I cannot tell how to account for it, but these people have usually the preference to our own kind. Perhaps it is that an English çoxcomb is fools, in the opinion of the sillier part of womanseldom so obsequious as an Irish one; and when the way toward it is easily forgiven. the design of pleasing is visible, an absurdity in

on without reflection that they are such, are more But those who are downright impudent, and go to be tolerated, than a set of fellows among who profess impudence with an air of humour, and think to carry off the most inexcusable of all faults in the world, with no other apology than saying in a gay tone, I put an impudent face upon the

[blocks in formation]

ch troubled, when I reflect rofessions of divinity, law, are each of them overburs, and filled with multitudes that starve one another. clergy into generals, field Among the first we may and arch-deacons. Among s of divinity, prebendaries, rfs. The rest are compreterns. As for the first class, wes it from any redundancy thstanding competitors are strict calculation, it is found great exceeding of late years several brevets having been ting of subalterns into scarfat within my memory the ised above two-pence in a alterns, they are not to be r clergy once enter into the he laity, by the splitting of Fould be able to carry most giand. v is no less encumbered with that are like Virgil's army, so crowded, many of them eir weapons. This prodigious be divided into the litigious er the first are comprehended rried down in coach-fulls to ery morning in term time. of this species of lawyers is

[blocks in formation]

Another numberless branch of peaceable lawyers are those young men who, being placed at the inns of court in order to study the laws of their country, frequent the playhouse more than WestminsterHall, and are seen in all public assemblies, except in a court of justice. I shall say nothing of those silent and busy multitudes that are employed within doors in the drawing up of writings and conveyances; nor of those greater numbers that palliate their want of business with a pretence to such chamber practice.

If, in the third place, we look into the profession of physic, we shall find a most formidable body of men. The sight of them is enough to make a man serious; for we may lay it down as a maxim, that when a nation abounds in physicians, it grows thin of people. Sir William Temple is very much puzzled to find out a reason why the Northern Hive, as he calls it, does not send out such prodigious swarms, and overrun the world with Goths and Vandals, as it did formerly; but had that excellent author observed that there were no students in physic among the subjects of Thor and Woden, and that this science very much flourishes in the north at present, he might have found a better solution for this difficulty than any of those he has made use of. This body of men in our own country may be described like the British army in Cæsar's time. Some of them slay in chariots, and some on foot. If the infantry do less execution than the charioteers, it is because they cannot be carried so soon into all quarters of the town, and dispatch so much business in so short a time. Be sides this body of regular troops, there are stragglers, who, without being duly listed and enrolled, do infinite mischief to those who are so unlucky as to fall into their hands.

There are, besides the above-mentioned, innumerable retainers to physic, who, for want of other patients, amuse themselves with the stifling of cats in an air-pump, cutting up dogs alive, or impaling of insects upon the point of a needle for microscopical observations; besides those that are employed in the gathering of weeds, and the chase of butterflies: not to mention the cockleshell-merchants and spider-catchers.

When I consider how each of these professions are crowded with multitudes that seek their livelihood in them, and how many men of merit there are in each of them, who may be rather said to be of the science than the profession; I very much wonder at the humour of parents, who will not rather choose to place their sons in a way of life where an honest industry cannot but thrive, than in stations where the greatest probity, learning, and good sense may miscarry. How many men are country curates, that might have made themselves aldermen of London by a right improvement of a smaller sum of money than what is usually laid out upon a learned education? A sober frugal person, of slender parts and a slow apprehension, might have thrived, in trade, though he starves upon physic; as a man would be well enough pleased to buy silks of one, whom he would not venture to feel his pulse. Vagellius is careful, studious, and obliging, but withal a little thickskulled; he has not a single client, but might have had abundance of customers. The misfortune is, that parents take a liking to a particular profession, and therefore desire their sons may be of it; whereas, in so great an affair of life, they should consider the genius and abilities of their children,

more than their own inclinations.

It is the great advantage of a trading nation,

'MR. SPECTATOR, This is to let you understand, that the playhous is a representation of the world in nothing so muc as in this particular, that no one rises in it accord ing to his merit. I have acted several parts o

that there are very few in it so dull and heavy, | who may not be placed in stations of life, which may give them an opportunity of making their fortunes. A well-regulated commerce is not, like law, physic, or divinity, to be overstocked with hands; but, on the contrary, flourishes by multi-household-stuff with great applause for many years tudes, and gives employment to all its professors. Fleets of merchantmen are so many squadrons of floating shops, that vend our wares and manufactures in all the markets of the world, and find out chapmen under both the tropics.

[blocks in formation]

THE word Spectator being most usually understood as one of the audience at public representations in our theatres, I seldom fail of many letters relating to plays and operas. But indeed there are such monstrous things done in both, that if one had not been an eye-witness of them, one could not believe that such matters had really been exhibited. There is very little which concerns human life, or is a picture of nature, that is regarded by the greater part of the company. The understanding is dismissed from our entertainments. Our mirth is the laughter of fools, and our admiration the wonder of idiots; else such improbable, monstrous, and in

I am one of the men in the hangings in The Em peror of the Moon; I have twice performed the third chair in an English opera; and have re hearsed the pump in The Fortune-Hunters. I an now grown old, and hope you will recommend me so effectually, as that I may say something be fore I go off the stage: in which you will do: great act of charity to

Your most humble servant,


'MR. SPECTATOR, UNDERSTANDING that Mr. Screne has writ to you and desired to be raised from dumb and still part I desire, if you give him motion or speech, that you would advance me in my way, and let me keep on in what I humbly presume I am a master to wit, in representing human and still life toge ther. I have several times acted one of the fines flower-pots in the same opera wherein Mr. Scrend is a chair; therefore, upon his promotion, reques that I may succeed him in the hangings, with my hand in the orange-trees. "Your bumble servant,


RALPH SIMPLE." Drury-Lane, March 24, 1710-11.

the pit, and thought he looked very little pleased I SAW your friend the Templar this evening in With the representation of the mad scene of The Pilgrim. I wish, sir, you would do us the favour to animadvert frequently upon the false taste the town is in, with relation to plays as well as operas It certainly requires a degree of understanding to

coherent dreams could not go off as they do, not only without the utmost scorn and contempt, but even with the loudest applause and approbation. But the letters of my correspondents will represent this affair in a more lively manner than any discourse of my own; I shall therefore give them to my reader with only this preparation, that they all come from players, and that the business of play-play justly; but such is our condition, that we are ing is now so managed that you are not to be surprised when I say one or two of them are rational, others sensitive and vegetative actors, and others wholly inanimate. I shall not place these as I bave named them, but as they have precedence in the opinion of their audiences.


"YOUR having been so humble as to take notice of the epistles of other animals, emboldens me, who am the wild boar that was killed by Mrs. Tofts, to represent to you that I think I was hardly used in not having the part of the lion in Hydaspes given to me. It would have been but a natural step for me to have personated that noble creature, after having behaved myself to satisfaction in the part above-mentioned. That of a lion is too great a character for one that never trod the stage before but upon two legs. As for the little resistance which I made, I hope it may be excused, when it is considered that the dart was thrown at me by so fair a haud. I must confess I had but just put on my brutality; and Camilla's charms were such, that beholding her erect mien, hearing her charming voice, and astonished with her graceful motion, I could not keep up to my assumed fierceness, but died like a mau.

'I am, SIR,

"Your most humble admirer,

At the close of No 108, he desires his readers to compare with this what is said there.

to suspend our reason to perform our parts. A to scenes of madness, you know, sir, there are noble instances of this kind in Shakspeare; bu then it is the disturbance of a noble mind, from generous and humane resentments. It is like that grief which we have for the decease of our friends It is no diminution, but a recommendation of hu man nature, that in such incidents passion gets the better of reason; and all we can think to comfort ourselves, is impotent against half what we feel I will not mention that we had an idiot in the scene, and all the sense it is represented to have. is that of lust. As for myself, who have long taken pains in personating the passions, I have to-night acted only an appetite. The part I played is Thirst, but it is represented as written rather by a drayman than a poet. I come in with a tub about me, that tub hung with quart pots, with a full gallon at my mouth. I am ashamed to tell you that I pleased very much, and this was introduced as a madness; but sure it was not hunan madness, for a mule or an ass may have been as dry as ever was in my life.

'I am, SIR,

[blocks in formation]

ed without a guard, am on soldier, and am to sail against my brother Lewis hard thing to put off a -ppeared in with applause. e the loss of my diadem; h another recruit, I spoke 5 part in recitativo:

st audacious slave, onarch's fury brave?"

er out of my mouth, when Hown, and asked me if I in talking things nobody ir, my unhappy circummediation you can proFince (who never failed to merry at his appearance) Es of Friend,



of the public.

arrived from the carnival rience in private cures. Aced, and persons admitted in

satire will then chiefly fall upon those who ought to be the most exempt from it. Virtue, merit, and every thing that is praiseworthy, will be made the subject of ridicule and buffoonery. It is impossible to enumerate the evils which arise from these arrows that fly in the dark, and I know no other excuse that is or can be made for them, than that the wounds they give are only imaginary, and produce nothing more than a secret shame or sorrow in the mind of the suffering person. It must indeed be confessed, that a lampoon or a satire do not carry in them robbery or murder; but at the same time how few are there that would not rather lose a considerable sum of money, or even life itself, than be set up as a mark of infamy and derision? and in this case a man should consider, that an injury is not to be measured by the notions of him that gives, but of him that receives it.

Those who can put the best countenance upon the outrages of this nature which are offered them are not without their secret anguish. I have often observed a passage in Socrates's behaviour at his death, in a light wherein none of the critics have considered it. That excellent man entertaining his friends, a little before he drank the bowl of he masquerade lives an emi-poison, with a discourse on the immortality of the soul, at his entering upon it says, that he does not believe any the most comie genius can censure him far talking upon such a subject at such a time. This passage, I think, evidently glances upon Aristophanes, who writ a comedy on purpose to ridicule the discourses of that divine philosopher. It has been observed by many writers, that Socrates was so little moved at this piece of buffoonery, that he was several times present at its being acted upon the stage, and never expressed the least resentment of it. But, with submission, I think the remark I have here made shows us, that this unworthy treatment made an impression upon his mind, though he had been too wise to discover it.

= coming hither, in less than ouches, a mountebank doctor, e nuns, and a morris-dancer.

ccurrite morbo."

■y agree by the great, and be The doctor draws teeth

ar. mask.

■Y, MARCH 27, 1711.


=c teli conspicit usquam
rdens immittere possil.
VIRG. En. ix. 420.
th rage, and, gazing round,
ave the fatal wound;


at more betrays a base unge-
= giving of secret stabs to a
poons and satires, that are
d spirit, are like poisoned
inflict a wound, but make it
Teason I am very much trou-
alents of humour and ridicule
an ill-natured man. There
gratification to a barbarous
an to stir up sorrow in the
Fon, to raise uneasiness among
to expose whole families to
time that he remains unseen
F. besides the accomplishments
ill-natured, a man is vicious
s one of the most mischievous
ter into a civil society. His

d'Camilla,' written by Owen Mac

said to have been levelled at Swift.

coolness between him and AddiIt's Works, vol. xiv. 240, and xv. 76,

When Julius Cæsar was lampooned by Catullus, he invited him to supper, and treated him with such a generous civility, that he made the poet his friend ever after. Cardinal Mazarine gave the same kind of treatment to the learned Quillet, who had reflected upon his eminence in a famous Latin poem. The cardinal sent for him, and, after some kind expostulations upon what he had written, assured him of his esteem, and dismissed him with à promise of the next good abbey that should fall, months after. This had so good an effect upon the which he accordingly conferred upon him in a few author, that he dedicated the second edition of his book to the cardinal, after having expunged the passages which had given him offence.

Sextus Quintus was not of so generous and forgiving a temper. Upon his being made pope, the statue of Pasquin was one night dressed in a very dirty shirt, with an excuse written under it, that he was forced to wear foul linen, because his laundress was made a princess. This was a reflection upon the pope's sister, who, before the promotion of her brother, was in those mean circumstances

that Pasquin represented her. As this pasquinade made a great noise in Rome, the pope offered a considerable sum of money to any person that should discover the author of it. The author, relying upon his holiness's generosity, as also on some private overtures which he had received from him, made the discovery himself; upon which the pope gave him the reward he had promised, but at the dered his tongue to be cut out, and both his hands same time, to disable the satirist for the future, or

to be chopped off. Aretine is too trite an in- | stance. Every one knows that all the kings of Europe were his tributaries. Nay, there is a letter of his extant, in which he makes his boasts that he had laid the Sophi of Persia under contribution.

paper endeavoured to expose that particula!
breach of charity, which has been generally over-
looked by divines, because they are but few who
can be guilty of it.


Accurit quidam, notus mihi nomine tantum ;
Arreptaque manu, Quid agis dulcissime rerum?
HOR. 1 Sat. ix. 3.

Comes up a fop, (I knew him but by fame)
And seiz'd my hand, and call'd me by my name-
-My dear-how dost

Though in the various examples which I have here drawn together, these several great men be- N° 24. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28, 1710-11 haved themselves very differently towards the wits of the age who had reproached them; they all of them plainly showed that they were very sensible of their reproaches, and consequently that they received them as very great injuries. For my own part, I would never trust a man that I thought was capable of giving these secret wounds; and cannot but think that he would hurt the person whose reputation he thus assaults, in his body or in his fortune, could he do it with the same security. There is, indeed, something very barbarous and inhuman in the ordinary scribblers of lampoons. An innocent young lady shall be exposed for an unhappy feature. A father of a family turned to ridicule for some domestic calamity. A wife be made uneasy all her life for a misinterpreted word or action. Nay, a good, a temperate, and a just man, shall be put out of countenance by the representation of those qualities that should do him honour. So pernicious a thing is wit, when it is not tempered with virtue and humanity.

I have indeed heard of heedless inconsiderate writers, that without any malice have sacrificed the reputation of their friends and acquaintance to a certain levity of temper, and a silly ambition of distinguishing themselves by a spirit of raillery and satire; as if it were not infinitely more ho- | nourable to be a good-natured man than a wit. Where there is this little petulant humour in an author, he is often very mischievous without designing to be so. For which reason I always lay it down as a rule, that an indiscreet man is more hurtful than an ill-natured one; for as the latter will only attack his enemies, and those he wishes ill to; the other injures, indifferently, both friends and foes. I cannot forbear, on this occasion, transcribing a fable out of Sir Roger l'Estrange, which accidentally lies before me. A company of waggish boys were watching of frogs at the side of a pond, and still as any of them put up their heads, they would be pelting them down again with stones. "Children," says one of the frogs," you never consider, that though this may be play to you, it is death

to us"."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

THERE are in this town a great number of insignifi cant people, who are by no means fit for the bet ter sort of conversation, and yet have an imperti nent ambition of appearing with those to whom they are not welcome. If you walk in the Park one of them will certainly join with you, thoug you are in company with ladies; if you drink a bottle, they will find your haunts. What make such fellows the more burdensome is, that they nei ther offend nor please so far as to be taken notic of for either. It is, I presume, for this reason that my correspodents are willing by my means t be rid of them. The two following letters are wri by persons who suffer by such impertinence. ! worthy old bachelor, who sets in for a dose of cla ret every night at such an hour, is teased by swarm of them; who, because they are sure o room and a good fire, have taken it in their head to keep a sort of club in his company; though the sober gentleman himself is an utter enemy to such meetings.


THE aversion I for some years have had to club in general, gave me a perfect relish for your specu lation on that subject; but I have since been ex tremely mortified, by the malicious world's rank ing me amongst the supporters of such impertinen assemblies. I beg leave to state my case fairly and that done, I shall expect redress from your ju dicious pen.

I a

I am, Sir, a bachelor of some standing, and traveller: my business, to consult my own humou which I gratify without controlling other people's I have a room and a whole bed to myself; and have a dog, a fiddle, and a gun; they please me and injure no creature alive. My chief meal As this week is in a manner set apart and dedi-a supper, which I always make at a tavern. cated to serious thoughts, I shall indulge myself in constant to an hour, and not ill-humoured; fo such speculations as may not be altogether unsuita- which reasons, though I invite nobody, I hav ble to the season; and in the mean time, as the no sooner supped, than I have a crowd about m settling in ourselves a charitable frame of mind is of that sort of good company that know not wh a work very proper for the time, I have in this ther else to go. It is true, every man pays h share; yet, as they are intruders, I have an u doubted right to be the only speaker, or at lea the loudest; which I maintain, and that to th great emolument of my audience. I sometime tell them their own in pretty free language; an sometimes divert them with merry tales, accordin as I am in humour. I am one of those who live taverns to a great age, by a sort of regular inter perance: I never go to bed drunk, but alway flustered; I wear away very gently; am apt to E peevish, but never angry. Mr. Spectator, if yo have kept various company, you know there is every tavern in town some old humorist or othe

* Peter Aretine, a native of Arezzo, who lived in the 16th century, was infamous for his satirical writings; and was so bold as to carry his invectives even against sovereigns; whence he got the title of the Scourge of Princes. He used to boast, that his lampoons did more service to the world than sermons; and it was said of him, that he had subjected more princes by his pen, than the greatest warriors had ever done by their arms. Aretine wrote also many irreligious and obscene pieces. Some say, that he afterwards changed his loose, libertine principles; but however this may be, it is certain that he composed several pieces of devotion. He was

author likewise of some comedies, which were esteemed
pretty good of their kind; and died in the year 1556, being
about 65 years old. It is said by some, that he fell into such
a fit of laughter, on hearing some obscene conversation, that
he overturned the chair upon which he sat, and that fall-
ing, he hurt his head, and died upon the spot.
+ The week before Easter.

* See No 9.

« PreviousContinue »