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It is remarkable, that I was bred by hand, and ate nothing but milk until I was a twelvemonth old; from which time, to the eighth year of my age, I was observed to delight in pudding and potatoes; and indeed I retain a benevolence for that sort of food to this day. I do not remember that I distinguished myself in any thing at those years, but by my great skill at taw, for which I was so barbarously used, that it has ever since given me an aversion to gaming. In my twelfth year, I suffered very much for two or three false concords.” At fifteen I was sent to the university, and staid there for some time; but a drum passing by, being a lover of music, I enlisted myself for a soldier. As years came on, I began to examine things, and grew discontented at the times. This made me quit the sword, and take to the study of the occult sciences, in which I was so wrapped up, that Oliver Cromwell had been buried and taken up again, five years before I heard he was dead. This gave me first the reputation of a conjurer, which has been of great advantage to me ever since, and kept me out of all public employments. The greater part of my latter years has been divided between Dick's coffeehouse, the Trumpet in Sheer-lane, and my own lodgings.
From my own Apartment, November 2.
The evil of unseasonable visits has been complained of to me with much vehemence by persons of both sexes; and I am desired to consider this very important circumstance, that men may know how to regulate their conduct in an affair which concerns no less than life itself. For, to a rational creature, it is almost the same cruelty to attack his life by robbing him of so many moments of his time, or so inany drops of his blood. The author of the following letter has a just delicacy in this point, and hath put it into a very good light:
“Mr. Bickerstaff, I am very much afflicted with the gravel, which makes me sick and peevish. I desire to know of you, if it be reasonable that any of my acquaintance should take advantage over me at this time, and afflict me with long visits, because they are idle, and I am confined. Pray, sir, reform the town in this matter. Men never consider whether the sick person be disposed for company, but make their visits to humour themselves. You may talk upon this topic, so as to oblige all persons afflicted with chronical distempers, among which I reckon visits. Do not think me a sour man, for I love conversation and my friends; but I think one's most intimate friend may be
too familiar, and that there are such things as unseasonable wit, and painful mirth.”
It is with some, so hard a thing to employ their time, that it is a great good fortune when they have a friend indisposed, that they may be punctual in perplexing him, when he is recovered enough to be in that state which cannot be called sickness or health ; when he is too well to deny company, and too ill to receive them. It is no uncommon case, if a man is of any figure or power in the world, to be congratulated into a relapse.
Will's Coffee-house, November 2.
I was very well pleased this evening, to hear a gentleman express a very becoming indignation against a practice, which I myself have been very much offended at. “There is nothing,” said he, “more ridiculous, than for an actor to insert words of his own in the part he is to act, so that it is impossible to see the poet for the player. You will have Penkethman and Bullock helping out Beaumont and Fletcher. It puts me in mind,' continued he, ‘of a collection of antique statues which I once saw in a gentleman's possession, who employed a neighbouring stone-cutter to add noses, ears, arms, or legs, to the maimed works of Phidias or Praxiteles. 'You may be sure, this addition disfigured the statues much more than time had. I remember Venus, that, by the nose he had given her, looked like mother Shipton; and a Mercury, with a pair of legs that seemed very much swelled with the dropsy.”
I thought the gentleman's observations ver proper, and he told me I had improved his thought, in mentioning on this occasion those wise commentators who had filled up the hemistichs of Virgil;" particularly that notable poet, who, to make the AEneid more perfect, carried on the story to Lavinia's wedding.t If the proper officer will not condescend to take notice of these absurdities, I shall myself, as a censor of the people, animadvert upon such proceedings.
No. 90.] Saturday, Norember 5, 1709.
— Amoto quaeramus seria ludo. Hor, i. Sat. 1, 27.
I, et us now With graver air our serious theme pursue, And yet preserve our moral full in view. Francis.
'ill's Coffee-house, November 4.
The passion of love happened to be the subject of discourse between two or three of us at the table of the poets this evening; and, among
* Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq. declares, that he was 63 in 1709, he was born, therefore, in 1645; he could only be 15 in 1561, when the body of Cromwell was exposed. Yet he was sent to the university at 15:-then he was a soldier, a cadet at the battle of Coldstream ; after. wards he took to the study of the occult sciences, and did not hear of Cromwell's fate till five years after it happened. Kept out of all public employments, the reater part of his latter years was divided between ick's coffee-house, a tavern, or ale-house, and his own obscure lodgings in Sheer-lane How was such a man qualified to decide on "go" private and public 3
* A gentleman of distinction in Aquitain, called by the writer on whose authority this note is given, Joan. nes de Peyrarcie, filled up the hemistichs, or half verses, in the Aeneid of Virgil.
* Mapheus Vegins, a native of Lodi, who died in 145s, added a xiffth book to the Afneid, which gives an account in Latin of the burial of Turnus, and of the marriage of Æneas to Lavinia.
other observations, it was remarked, “that the same sentiments on this passion had run through all languages and nations.' Memmius, who has a very good taste, fell into a little sort of dissertation on this occasion. “It is,” said he, “remarkable, that no passion has been treated, by all who have touched upon it, with the same bent of design but this. The poets, the moralists, the painters, in all their descriptions, allegories, and pictures, have represented it as a soft torment, a bitter sweet, a pleasing pain, or an agreeable distress; and have only expressed the same thought in a different manner.” The joining of pleasure and pain together in such devices, seems to me the only pointed thought I ever read which is natural, and it must have proceeded from its being the universal sense and experience of mankind, that they have all spoken of it in the same manner. I have, in my own reading, remarked a hundred and three epigrams, fifty odes, and ninetyone sentences, tending to this sole purpose. It is certain, there is no other passion which does produce such contrary effects in so great a degree. . But this may be said for love, that if you strike it out of the soul, life would be insipid, and our being but half-animated. Human nature would sink into deadness and lethargy, if not quickened with some active principle; and, as for all others, whether ambition, envy, or avarice, which are apt to possess the mind in the absence of this passion, it must be allowed that they have greater pains, without the compensation of such exquisite pleasures as those we find in love. The great skill is to heighten the satisfactions, and deaden the sorrows of it; which has been the end of many of my labours, and shall continue to be so, for the service of the world in general, and in particular of the fair sex, who are always the best or the worst part of it. It is pity that a passion, which has in it a capacity of making life happy, should not be cultivated to the ut. most advantage. Reason, prudence, and good. nature, rightly applied, can thoroughly accomplish this great end, provided they have always a real and oonstant love to work upon. But this subject I shall treat more at large in the history of my married sister, and, in the mean time, shall conclude my reflection on the pains and pleasures which attend this passion, with one of the finest allegories which I think I have ever read. It is invented by the divine Plato, and, to show the opinion he himself had of it, ascribed by him to his admired Socrates, whom he represents as discoursing with his friends, and giving the histoy of Love in the following manner.” “At the birth of Beauty,’ says he, “there was a great feast made, and many guests invited. Among the rest, was the god Plenty, who was the son of the goddess Prudence, and inherited many of his mother's virtues. After a full entertainment, he retired into the garden of Jupiter, which was hung with a great variety of ambrosial fruits, and scems to have been a very proper retreat for such a guest. In the mean time, an unhappy female called Poverty, having
* Platonis Opera Basilew, 1556, p. 187, folio.
heard of this great feast, repaired to it in hopes of finding relief. The first place she lights upon was Jupiter's garden, which generally stands open to people of all conditions. Poverty enters, and by chance finds the god Plenty asleep in it. She was immediately fired with his charms, laid herself down by his side, and managed matters so well, that she conceived a child by him. The world was very much in suspense upon the occasion, and could not imagine to themselves what would be the nature of an infant that was to have its original from two such parents. At the last, the child appears; and who should it be but Love. This infant grew up, and proved in all his behaviour, what he really was, a compound of opposite beings. As he is the son of Plenty, who was the offspring of Prudence, he is subtile, intriguing, full of stratagams and devices; as the son of Poverty, he is fawning, begging, serenading, delighting to lie at a threshold, or beneath a window. By the father, he is audacious, full of hopes, conscious of merit, and therefore quick of resentinent. By the mother, he is doubtful, timorous, mean-spirited, fearful of offending, and abject in submissions. In the same hour you may see him transported with raptures, talking of immortal pleasures, and appearing satisfied as a god; and immediately after, as the mortal mother prevails in his composition, you behold him pining, languishing, despairing, dying.’ I have been always wonderfully delighted with fables, allegories, and the like inventions, which the politest and the best instructors of mankind have always made use of They take off from the severity of instruction, and enforce it at the same time that they conceal it. The supposing Love to be conceived immediately after the birth of Beauty; the parentage of Plenty; and the inconsistency of this passion with itself so naturally derived to it, are great master-strokes in this fable; and if they fell into good hands, might furnish out a more pleasing canto than any in Spencer.
From my own Apartment, Nocember 4.
I came home this evening in a very pensive mood; and, to divert me, took up a volume of Shakspeare, where I chanced to cast my eye upon a part in the tragedy of Richard the Third, which filled my mind with a very agreeable horror. It was the scene in which that bold but wicked prince is represented as sleeping in his tent, the night before the battle in which he fell. The poet takes that occasion to set before him, in a vision, a terrible assembly of apparitions, the ghosts of all those innocent persons whom he is said to have murdered. Prince Edward, Henry VI., the duke of Clarence, Rivers, Gray, and Vaughan ; lord Hastings, the two young princes, sons to Edward IV. his own wife, and the duke of Buckingham, rise up in their blood before him, beginning their speeches with that dreadful salutation, “Let me sit heav on thy soul to-morrow ; and concluding with that dismal sentence, ‘Despair and die.’ This inspires the tyrant with a dream of his past guilt, and of the approaching vengeance. He anticipates the fatal day of Bosworth, fancies
himself dismounted, weltering in his own blood; and in the agonies of despair, before he is thoroughly awake, starts up with the following speech: Give me anotherhorse—Bind up my wounds! Have inercy, Jesu-Soft' I did but dream. Oh! coward conscience how (lost thou afflict me? The lights burn blue ! is it not dead inidnight Cold fearful drops stand on iny trembling flesh : What do I fear myself!' &c. A scene written with so great strength of imagination indisposed me from further reading, and threw me into a deep contemplation. I began to reflect upon the different ends of good and bad kings; and as this was the birthday of our late renowned monarch,” I could not forbear thinking on the departure of that excel. lent prince, whose life was crowned with glory, and his death with peace. I let my mind go so far into this thought, as to imagine to my. self what might have been the vision of his departing slumbers. He might have seen confederate kings applauding him in different languages; slaves that had been bound in fetters fifting up their hands, and blessing him ; and the persecuted in their several forms of worship imploring comfort on his last moments. The reflection upon this excellent prince's mortality had been a very melancholy entertainment to me, had I not been relieved by the consideration of the glorious reign which succeeds it. We now see as great a virtue as ever was on the British throne, surrounded with all the beauty of success. Our nation may not only boast of a long series of great, regular, and well-laid designs, but also of triumphs and victories; while we have the happiness to see our sovereign exercise that true policy which tends to make a kingdom great and happy, and at the same time enjoy the good and glorious cffect
No. 91.] Tuesday, November 8, 1709.
From my own Apartment, Norember 7.
I was very much surprised this evening with a visit from one of the top Toasts of the town, who came privately in a chair, and bolted into my room, while I was reading a chapter of Agrippa upon the occult sciences; but, as she entered with all the air and bloom that nature ever bestowed on woman, I threw down the conjurer, and met the charmer. I had no sooner placed her at my right hand by the fire, but she opened to me the reason of her visit. “Mr. Bickerstaff,” said the fine creature, ‘ I have been your correspondent some time, though I never saw you before; I have writ by the name of Maria. You have told me, you were too far gone in life to think of love. Therefore, I am answered as to the passion I spoke of; and,’ continued sha, smiling, “I will not stay until you grow young again, as you men never fail to do in your dotage; but am come to consult you about disposing of myself to another. My person you see; my fortune is very considerable;
* * King William III.
but I am at present under much perplexity how to act in a great conjuncture. I have two lov. ers, Crassus and Lorio : Crassus is prodigiously rich, but has no one distinguishing quality; though at the same time, he is not remarkable on the defective side. Lorio has travelled, is well bred, pleasant in discourse, discreet in his conduct, agreeable in his person; and with all this, he has a competency of fortune without superfluity. When I consider Lorio, my mind is filled with an idea of the great satisfactions of a pleasant conversation. When I think of Crassus, my equipage, numerous servants, gay liveries, and various dresses, are opposed to the charms of his rival. In a word, when I cast my eyes upon Lorio, I forget and despise fortune; when I behold Crassus, I think only of pleasing my vanity, and enjoying an uncontrolled expence in all the pleasures of life except love.” She paused here. ‘Madam,' said I, ‘ I am confident you have not stated your case with sincerity, and that there is some secret pang which you have concealed from me: for I see by your aspect the generosity of your mind; and that open ingenuous air lets me know, that you have too great a sense of the generous passion of love, to prefer the ostentation of life in the arms of Crassus, to the entertainments and conveniences of it in the company of your beloved Lorio; for so he is indeed, madam ; you speak his name with a dif: ferent accent from the rest of your discourse. The idea his image raises in you gives new life to your features, and new grace to your speech. Nay, blush not, madam; there is no dishonour in loving a man of merit; I assure you I am
| grieved at this dallying with yourself, when you
put another in competition with him, for no other reason but superior wealth.”—“To tell you, then,” said she, ‘the bottom of my heart, there is Clotilda lies by, and plants herself in the way of Crassus, and I am confident will snap him if I refuse him. I cannot bear to think that she will shine above me. When our coaches meet, to see her chariot hung behind with four footmen, and mine with but two: her's powdered, gay, and saucy, kept only for show ; mine, a couple of careful rogues that are good for something; I own, I cannot bear that Clotilda should be in all the pride and wantonness of wealth, and I only in the ease and affluence of it. Here I interrupted: ‘Well, madam, now I see your whole affliction; you could be happy but that you fear another would be happier. Or rather, you could be solidly happy, but that another is to be happy in appearance. This is an evil which you must get over, or never know happiness. We will put the case, madam, that you married Crassus, and she Lorio.” She answered, “Speak not of it. I could tear her eyes out at the mention of it.”—“Well, then I pronounce Lorio to be the man; but I must tell you that what we call settling in the world, is, in a kind, leaving it; and you must at once resolve to keep your thoughts of happiness within the reach of your fortune, and not measure it by comparison with others.-But indeed, madam, when I behold that beauteous form of yours, and consider the generality of your sex, as to their disposal of themselves in marriage, or their parents doing it for them without their own approbation, I cannot but look upon all such matches as the most impudent prostitutions. Do but observe, when you are at a play, the familiar wenches that sit laughing among the men. These appear detestable to you in the boxes. Each of them would give up her person for a guinea; and some of you would take the worst there for life for twenty thousand. If so, how do you differ but in price As to the circumstance of marriage, I take that to be hardly an alteration of the case ; for wedlock is but a more solemn prostitution, where there is not a union of minds. You would harldy believe it, but there have been designs even upon me.
“A neighbour in this very lane, who knows I have, by leading a very wary life, laid up a little money, had a great mind to marry me to his daughter. I was frequently invited to their table: the girl was always very pleasant and agreeable. After dinner, miss Molly would be sure to fill my pipe for me, and put more sugar than ordinary into my coffee; for she was sure I was good-natured. If I chanced to hem, the mother would applaud my vigour; and has often said on that occasion, “I wonder, Mr. Bickerstaff, you do not marry; I am sure you would have children.” Things went so far, that my mistress presented me with a wrought night-cap and a laced band of her own working. I began to think of it in earnest; but one day, having an occasion to ride to Islington, as two or three people were lifting me upon my pad, I spied her at a convenient distance laughing at her lover, with a parcel of romps of her acquaintance. One of them, who I suppose had the same design upon me, told me she said, “Do you see how briskly my old gentleman mounts o' This made me cut off my amour, and to reflect with myself, that no married life could be so unhappy, as where the wife proposes no other advantage from her husband, than that of making herself fine, and keeping her out of the dirt.”
My fair client burst out a-laughing at the account I gave her of my escape, and went away seemingly convinced of the reasonableness of my discourse to her.
As soon as she was gone, my maid brought up the following epistle, which, by the style, and the description she gave of the person, I suppose was left by Nick Doubt. “Hark you,' said he, “girl, tell old Basket-hilt, I would have him answer it by the first opportunity.' What he says is this.
‘Isaac—You seen, a very honest fellow; therefore, pray tell me, did not you write that letter in praise of the squire and his lucubrations yourself,’ &c.
The greatest plague of coxcombs is, that they often break upon you with an impertinent piece of good sense, as this jackanapes has hit me in a right place enough. I must confess, I am as likely to play such a trick as another; but that letter he speaks of was really genuine. When I first set up, I thought it fair enough to let myself know from all parts, that my works were wonderfully inquired for, and were become the diversion as well as instruction, of all choice spirits in every county of Great Britain.
I do not doubt but the more intelligent of my readers found it, before this jackanapes, I can call him no better, took upon him to observe upon my style and my basket-hilt. A very pleasant gentleman of my acquaintance, told me one day a story of this kind of falsehood and vanity in an author. Maevius showed him a paper of verses, which he said he had received that morning by the penny-post from an unknown hand. My friend admired them extremely. “Sir," said he, “this must come from a man that is eminent: you see fire, life, and spirit, run through the whole, and at the same time a correctness, which shows he is used to writing. Pray, sir, read them over again.' He begins again, title and all; “To Maevius, on his incomparable poems.” The second reading was performed with much more vehemence and action than the former; after which, my friend fell into downright raptures— “Why, they are truly sublime ! there is energy in this line ! description in that ' Why : it is the thing itself: this is perfect picture P Maevius could bear no more; but, ‘Faith,' says he, “Ned, to tell you the plain truth, I writ them myself.” There goes just such another story of the same paternal tenderness in Bavius, an ingenious contemporary of mine, who had writ several comedies, which were rejected by the players. This, my friend Bavius took for envy, and therefore prevailed upon a gentleman to go with him to the play-house, and gave him a new play of his, desiring he would personate the author, and read it, to basile the spite of the actors. The friend consented, and to reading they went. They had not gone over three similes, before Roscius the player made the acting author stop, and desired to know, 'what he meant by such a rapture ? and how it came to pass, that in this condition of the lover, instead of acting according to his circumstances, he spent his time in considering what his state was like 7"—" That is very true,' says the mock author; “I believe we had as good strike these lines out.”—“By your leave,’ says Bavius, ‘you shall not spoil your play, you are too modest; those very lines, for aught I know, are as good as any in your play, and they shall stand.’ Well, they go on, and the particle “and” stood unfortunately at the end of a verse, and was made to rhyme to the word 'stand.’ This, Roscius excepted against. The new poet gave up that too, and said, “he would not dispute for a monosyllable.”—“For a monosyllable,’ says the real author, ‘I can assure you, a monosyllable may be of as great force as a word of ten syllables. I tell you, sir, “and” is the connection of the matter in that place; without that word, you may put all that follows into any other play as well as this. Besides, if you leave it out, it will look as if you had put it in only for the sake of the rhyme.” Roscius persisted, assuring the gentleman, “that it was impossible to speak it, but the “and” must be lost, so it might as well be blotted out.' Bavius snatched his play out of their hands, said, “they were both blockheads,’ and went off;
repeating a couplet, because he would not make
his exit irregularly. A witty man of these days compared this true and feigned poet to the
I know no manner of speaking so offensive as that of giving praise, and closing it with an exception; which proceeds (where men do not do it to introduce malice, and make calumny more effectual) from the common error of considering man as a perfect creature. But, if we rightly examine things, we shall find that there is a sort of economy in providenc, that one shall excel where another is defective, in order to make men more useful to each other, and mix them in society. This man having this talent, and that man another, is as necessary in conversation, as one professing one trade, and another another, is beneficial in commerce. The happiest climate does not produce all things; and it was so ordered, that one part of the earth should want the product of another, for uniting mankind in a general correspondence and good understanding. It is, therefore, want of good sense as well as good nature, to say Simplicius has a better judgment, but not so much wit as Latius; for that these have not each other's capacities is no more a diminution to either than if you should say, Simplicius is not Latius, or Latius not Simplicius. The heathen world had so little notion that perfection was to be expected amongst men, that among them any one quality or endowment in an heroic degree made a god. Hercules had strength; but it was never objected to him that he wanted wit. Apollo presided over wit, and it was never asked whether he had strength. We hear no exceptions against the beauty of Minerva, or the wisdom of Venus. These wise heathens were glad to immortalize any one serviceable gift, and overlook all imperfections in the person who had it. But with us it is far otherwise, for we reject many eminent virtues, if they are accompanied with one apparent weakness. The reflecting after this manner made me account for the strange delight men take in reading lampoons and scandal, with which the age abounds, and of which I receive frequent complaints. Upon mature consideration, I find it is principally for this reason, that the worst of mankind, the libellers, receive so much encouragement in the world. The low race of men take a secret pleasure in finding an eminent character levelled to their condition by a report of its defects; and keep themselves in countenance, though they are excelled in a thousand virtues, if they believe they have in common with a great person any one fault. The libeller falls in with this humour, and gratifies this base
ness of temper, which is naturally an enemy to extraordinary merit. It is from this, that libel and satire are promiscuously joined together in the notions of the vulgar, though the satirist and libeller differ as much as the magistrate and the murderer. In the consideration of human life, the satirist never falls upon persons who are not glaringly faulty, and the libeller on none but who are conspicuously commendable. Were I to expose any vice in a good or great man, it should certainly be by correcting it in some one where that crime was the most distinguishing part of the character; as pages are chastised for the admonition of princes.” When it is performed otherwise, the vicious are kept in credit, by placing men of merit in the same accusation. But all the pasquils, lampoons, and libels we meet with now-a-days are a sort of playing with the four-and-twenty letters, and throwing them into names and characters, without sense, truth, or wit. In this case, I am in great perplexity to know whom they mean, and should be in distress for those they abuse, if I did not see their judgment and ingenuity in those they commend. This is the true way of examining a libel; and when men consider, that no one man living thinks the better of their heroes and patrons for the panegyric given them, none can think themselves lessened by their invective. The hero or patron in a libel is but a scavenger to carry off the dirt, and by that very employment is the filthiest creature in the street. Dedications and panegyrics are frequently ridiculous, let them be addressed where they will; but at the front, or in the body of a libel, to commend a man, is saying to the persons applauded, “My Lord, or Sir, I have pulled down all men that the rest of the world think great and honourable, and here is a clear stage; you may, as you please be valiant or wise ; you may choose to be on the military or civil list; for there is no one brave who commands, or just who has power. You may rule the world now it is empty, which exploded you when it was full: I have knocked out the brains of all whom mankind thought good for any thing; and I doubt not but you will regard that invention, which found out the only expedient to make your lordship, or your worship, of any consideration.’ Had I the honour to be in a libel, and had escaped the approbation of the author, I should look upon it exactly in this manner. But though it is a thing thus perfectly indifferent who is exalted or debased in such performances, yet it is not so with relation to the authors of them; therefore, I shall, for the good of my country, hereafter, take upon me to punish these wretches. What is already passed may die away according to its nature, and continue in its present oblivion; but, for the future, I shall take notice of such enemies to honour and virtue, and preserve them to immortal infamy. Their names shall give fresh offence many ages hence, and be detested a thousand years after the commission of their crime. It shall
* This alludes to a practice, long prevalent in Fngland, of whipping the royal children by proxy. The curious may find an account of this custom, in sir John Hawkin's Hist. of Music.