« PreviousContinue »
by their own abilitics, of adding something to what you should assign them ; whereas I must expect an absolute independent maintenance, because, as I said, I can do nothing. It is possible, after this free confession of mine, you may think I do not deserve to be rich; but I hope you will likewise observe, I can ill afford to be poor. My own opinion is, that I am well qualified for an estate, and have a good title to luck in a lottery; but I resign myself wholly to your mercy, not without hopes that you will consider, the less I deserve, the greater the generosity in you. If you reject me, I have agreed with an acquaintance of mine to bury me for my ten pounds. I once more recommend myself to your favour, and bid you adieu.’
I cannot forbear publishing another letter which I have received, because it redounds to my own credit, as well as to that of a very honest footman.
Jan. 23, 1709-10.
‘MR. Bickenstaff, I am bound in justice to acquaint you, that I put an advertisement into your last paper about a watch which was lost, and was brought to me on the very day your paper came out, by a footman; who told me, that he would not have brought it, if he had not read your discourse of that day against avarice; but that since he had read it he scorned to take a reward for doing what in justice he ought to do.—I am, Sir, your most humble servant,
No. 125.] Thursday, January 20, 1709-10.
Quem mala stultitia, et quacunque inscitia ver Caecum agit, insanum Chrysippi porticus, et grex Autumat; hoc populas, hæc magnos, formula reges, Excepto sapiente, tenet. Hor. 2. Sat. iii. 43.
Whom vicious passions, or whom falsehood, blind,
From my own Apartment, January 25.
There is a sect of ancient philosophers, who, I think, have left more volumes behind them, and those better written, than any other of the fraternities in philosophy. It was a maxim of this sect, that all those who do not live up to the principles of reason and virtue are madmen. Every one who governs himself by these rules, is allowed the title of wise, and reputed to be in his senses : and every one, in proportion as he deviates from them, is pronounced frantic and distracted. Cicero having chosen this maxim for his theme, takes occasion to argue from it very agreeably with Clodius, his implacable adversary, who had procured his banishment. “A city,' says he, “is an assembly distinguished into bodies of men, who are in possession of their respective rights and privileges, cast under proper subordinations, and in all its parts obedient to the rules of law and equity." He then represents the government from whence he was banished, at a time when the consul, scuate, and laws had lost their authority, as a
commonwealth of lunatics. For this reason, he regards his expulsion from Rome, as a man would, being turned out of Bedlam, if the inhabitants of it should drive him out of their walls as a person unfit for their community. We are, therefore, to look upon every man's brain to be touched, however he may appear in the general conduct of his life, if he has an unjustifiable singularity in any part of his conversation or behaviour, or if he swerves from right reason, however common his kind of madness may be, we shall not excuse him for its being epidemical; it being our present design to clap up all such as have the marks of madness upon them, who are now permitted to go about the streets for no other reason but because they do no mischief in their fits. Abundance of imaginary great men are put in straw to bring them to a right sense of themselves. And is it not altogether as reasonable, that an insignificant man, who has an immoderate opinion of his merits, and a quite different notion of his own abilities from what the rest of the world entertain, should have the same care taken of him as a beggar who fancies himself a duke or a prince Or why should a man, who starves in the midst of plenty, be trusted with himself, more than he who fancies he is an emperor in the midst of poverty 2 I have several women of quality in my thoughts, who set so exorbitant a value upon themselves, that I have often most heartily pitied them, and wished them for their recovery under the same discipline with the pewterer's wife. I find, by several hints in ancient authors, that when the Romans were in the height of power and luxury, they assigned out of their vast dominions an island called Anticyra, as an habitation for madmen. This was the Bedlam of the Roman empire, whither all persons who had lost their wits used to resort from all parts of the world in quest of them. Several of the Roman emperors were advised to repair to this island; but most of them, instead of listening to such sober counsels, gave way to their distraction, until the people knocked them on the head as despairing of their cure. In short, it was as usual for men of distempered brains to take a voyage to Anticyra in those days, as it is in ours for persons who have a disorder in their lungs to go to Montpelier. The prodigious crops of hellebore with which this whole island abounded, did not only furnish them with incomparable tea, snuff, and Hungary-water; but impregnated the air of the country with such sober and salutiferous streams as very much comforted the heads, and refreshed the senses of all that breathed in it. A discarded statesman, that, at his first landing appeared stark-staring mad, would become calm in a week's time; and, upon his return home, live easy and satisfied in his retirement. A moping lover would grow a pleasant fellow by that time he had rid thrice about the island; and a hair-brained rake, after a short stay in the country, go home again a composed, grave, worthy gentleman. I have premised these particulars before I enter on the main design of this paper, because I would not be thought altogether notional in
what I have to say, and pass only for a projector in morality. I could quote Horace, and Seneca, and some other ancient writers of good repute, upon the same occasion; and make out by their testimony, that our streets are filled with distracted persons; that our shops and taverns, private and public houses, swarm with them; and that it is very hard to make up a tolerable assembly without a majority of them. But what I have already said is, I hope, suficient to justify the ensuing project, which I shall therefore give some account of without any further preface.
1. It is humbly proposed, that a proper receptacle, or habitation, be forth with erected for all such persons as, upon due trial and examination, shall appear to be out of their wits.
2. That, to serve the present exigency, the college in Moor-fields be very much extended at both ends; and that it be converted into a square, by adding three other sides to it.
3. That nobody be admitted into these three additional sides, but such whose frenzy can lay no claim to an apartment in that row of building which is already erected.
4. That the architect, physician, apothecary,
surgeon, keepers, nurses, and porters, be all and each of them cracked; provided that their frenzy does not lie in the profession or employment to which they shall severally and respectively be assigned.
Having laid down this general scheme of my design, I do hereby invite all persons who are willing to encourage so public-spirited a project, to bring in their contributions as soon as possible; and to apprehend forthwith any politician whom they shall catch raving in a cof. fee-house, or any free-thinker whom they shall find publishing his deliriums, or any other person who shall give the like manifest signs of a crazy imagination: and I do at the same time give this public notice to all the madmen about this great city, that they may return to their senses with all imaginable expedition, lest, if they should come into my hands, I should put them into a regimen which they would not like: for if I find any one of them persist in his frantic behaviour, I will make him in a month's time as famous as ever Oliver's porter was.
• The beautiful statues by Cibber.
No. 126.] Saturday, January 28, 1709-10.
You have got an eel by the tail.
From my own Apartment, January 27.
There is no sort of company so agreeable as that of women who have good sense without affectation, and can converse with men without any private design of imposing chains and fetters. Belvidera, whom I visited this evening, is one of these. There is an invincible prejudice in favour of all she says, from her being a beautiful woman ; because she does not consider herself as such when she talks to you. This amiable temper gives a certain tincture to all her discourse, and made it very agreeable to me until we were interrupted by Lydia, a creature who has all the charins that can adorn a woman. Her attractions would indeed be irresistible, but that she thinks them so, and is always employing them in stratagems and conquests. When I turned my eye upon her as she sat down, I saw she was a person of that character, which, for the further information of my country correspondents, I had long wanted an opportunity of explaining. Lydia is a finished coquette, which is a sect among women of all others the most mischievous, and makes the greatest havoc and disorder in society. I went on in the discourse I was in with Belvidera, without showing that I had observed any thing extraordinary in Lydia: upon which, I immediately saw her look me over as some very ill-bred fellow ; and, casting a scornful giance on my dress, give a shrug at Belvidera. But, as much as she despised me, she wanted my admiration, and made twenty offers to bring my eyes her way; but I reduced her to a restlessness in her seat, and impertinent playing of her fan, and many other motions and gestures, before I took the least notice of her. At last I looked at her with a kind of surprise, as if she had before been unobserved by reason of an ill light where she sat. It is not to be expressed what a sudden joy I saw arise in her countenance, even at the approbation of such a very old follow; but she did not long enjoy her triumph without a rival; for there immediately entered Castabella, a lady of a quite contrary character, that is to say, as eminent a prude as Lydia is a coquette. Belvidera gave me a glance, which, methought, intimated that they were both curiosities in their kind, and worth remarking. As soon as we were again seated, I stole looks at each lady, as if I was comparing their perfections. Belvidera observed it, and began to lead me into a discourse of them both to their faces, which is to be done easily enough; for one woman is generally so intent upon the faults of another, that she has not reflection enough to observe when her own are represented. “I have taken notice, Mr. Bickerstaff,' said Belvidera, “that you have in some parts of your writings, drawn characters of our sex, in which you have not to my apprehension, been clear enough and distinct; particularly in those of a Prude and a Coquette.” Upon the mention of this, Lydia was o with the expectation
of seeing Castabella's picture, and Casta'olla, with the hopes of that of Lydia. ‘Madam,' said I to Belvidera, “when we consider nature, we shall often find very contrary effects flow from the same cause. The prude and coquette, as different as they appear in their behaviour, are in reality the same kind of women. The motive of action in both is the affectation of pleasing men. They are sisters of the same blood and constitution; only one chooses a grave, and the other a light dress. The prude appears more virtuous, the coquette more vicious, than she really is. The distant behaviour of the prude tends to the same purpose as the advances of the coquette; and you have as little reason to fall into despair from the severity of the one, as to conceive hopes from the familiarity of the other. What leads you into a clear sense of their character is, that you may ob. serve each of them has the distinction of sex in all her thoughts, words, and actions. You can never mention any assembly you were lately in, but one asks you with a rigid, the other with a sprightly air, “Pray, what men were there 7” As for prudes, it must be confessed, that there are several of them, who, like hypocrites, by long practice of a false part, become sincere; or at least delude themselves into a belief that they are so.” For the benefit of the society of ladies, I shall propose one rule to them as a test of their virtue. I find in a very celebrated modern author, that the great foundress of Pictists, madam de Bourignon, who was no less famous for the sanctity of her life than for the singularity of some of her opinions, used to boast that she had not only the spirit of continency in herself, but that she had also the power of communicating it to all who beheld her. This the scoffers of those days called, “The gift of infrigidation,' and took occasion from it to rally her face, rather than admire her virtue. I would therefore advise the prude, who has a mind to know the integrity of her own heart, to lay her hand seriously upon it, and to examine herself, whether she could sincerely rejoice in such a gift of conveying chaste thoughts to all her male beholders. If she has any aversion to the power of inspiring so great a virtue, whatever notion she may have of her perfection, she deceives her own heart, and is still in the state of prudery. Some, perhaps, will look upon the boast of madam de Bourgnon, as the utmost ostentation of a prude. If you would see the humour of the coquette pushed to the last excess, you may find an instance of it in the following story; which I will set down at length, because it pleased me when I read it, though I cannot recollect in what author.” “A young coquette widow in France having been followed by a Gascon of quality, who had boasted among his companions of some favours which he had never received, to be revenged of him, sent for him one evening, and told him, “it was in his power to do her a very particular service.’ The Gascon, with much profession of his readiness to obey her commands, begged
* Perhaps in Burton’s “Anatomy of Melancholy."
to hear in what manner she designed to employ him. “You know,” said the widow, “my friend Belinda ; and must often have heard of the jealousy of that impotent wretch her husband. Now it is absolutely necessary, for the carrying on a certain affair, that his wife and I should be together a whole night. What I have to ask of you is, to dress yourself in her nightclothes, and lie by him a whole night in her place, that he may not miss her while she is with me.' The Gascon, though of a very lively and undertaking complexion, began to startle at the proposal. ‘Nay,’ says the widow, “if you have not the courage to go through what I ask of you, I must employ somebody clse that will.’ ‘Madam,' says the Gascon, ‘I will kill him for you if you please, but for lying with him : How is it possible to do it without being discovered ' ' If you do not discover yourself,' says the widow, ‘you will lie safe enough, for he is past all curiosity. He comes in at night while she is asleep, and goes out in a morning before she awakes ; and is in pain for nothing, so he knows she is there.” ‘Madam,' replied the Gascon, “how can you reward me for passing a night with this old fellow " The widow answered with a laugh, ‘Perhaps by admitting you to pass a night with one you think more agreeable.” He took the hint; put on his night-clothes; and had not been a-bed above an hour, before he heard a knocking at the door, and the treading of one who approached the other side of the bed, and who he did not question was the good man of the house. I do not know whether the story would be better by telling you in this place, or at the end of it, that the person who went to bed to him was our young coquette widow. The Gascon was in a terrible fright every time she moved in the bed, or turned towards him; and did not fail to shrink from her, until he had conveyed himself to the very ridge of the bed. . I will not dwell upon the perplexity he was in the whole night, which was augmented, when he observed that it was now broad day, and that the husband did not yet offer to get up and go about his business. All that the Gascon had for it, was to keep his face turned from him, and to feign himself asleep, when, to his utter confusion, the widow at last puts out her arm, and pulls the bell at her bed's head. In came her friend, and two or three companions to whom the Gascon had boasted of her favours. The widow jumped into a wrapping gown, and joined with the rest in laughing at this man of intrigue.'
a multitude of disguises, and breaks out in ten thousand different symptoms. Every one feels it in himself, and yet wonders to see it in his neighbour. I must confess, I met with an instance of it the other day, where I should very little have expected it. Who would believe the proud person I am going to speak of is a cobbler upon Ludgate-hill This artist being naturally a lover of respect, and considering that his circumstances are such that no man living will give it him, has contrived the figure of a beau, in wood; who stands before him in a bending ture, with his hat under his left arm, and #. right hand extended in such a manner as to hold a thread, a piece of wax, or an awl, according to the particular service in which his master thinks fit to employ him. When I saw him, he held a candle in this obsequious posture. I was very well pleased with the cobbler's invention, that had so ingeniously contrived an inferior, and stood a little while contemplating his inverted idolatry, wherein the image did homage to the man. When we meet with such a fantastic vanity in one of this order, it is no wonder if we may trace it through all degrees above it, and particularly through all the steps of greatness. We easily see the absurdity of pride when it enters into the heart of a cobbler; though in reality it is altogether as ridiculous and unreasonable, wherever it takes possession of a human creature. There is no temptation to it from the reflection upon our being in general, or upon any comparative perfection, whereby one man may excel another. The greater a man's knowledge is, the greater motive he may seem to have for pride; but in the same proportion as the one rises, the other sinks, it being the chief office of wisdom to discover to us our weaknesses and imperfections. As folly is the foundation of pride, the natural superstructure of it is madness. If there was an occasion for the experiment, I would not question to make a proud man a lunatic in three weeks' time; provided I had it in my power to ripen his frenzy with proper applications. It is an admirable reflection in Terence, where it is said of a parasite, Hic homines er stultis facit insanos. “This fellow,’ says he, “has an art of converting fools into madmen.” When I was in France, the region of complaisance and vanity, I have often observed, that a great man who has entered a levee of flatterers humble and temperate, has grown so insensibly heated by the court which was paid him on all sides, that he has been quite distracted before he could get into his coach. If we consult the collegiates of Moor-fields, we shall find most of them are beholden to their pride for their introduction into that magnificent palace. I had, some years ago, the curiosity to inquire into the particular circumstances of these whimsical freeholders; and learned from their own mouths the condition and character of each of them. Indeed, I found that all I spoke to were persons of quality. There were at that time five dutchesses, three earls, two heathen gods, an emperor, and a prophet. There were also a great number of such as were locked up from their estates, and
others who concealed their titles. A leather. seller of Taunton whispered me in the ear, that he was “the Duke of Monmouth;' but begged me not to betray him. At a little distance from him sat a tailor's wife, who asked me, as I went, if I had seen the sword-bearer,' upon which I presumed to ask her, who she was 2 and was answered, “my lady mayoress." I was very sensibly touched with compassion towards, these miserable people; and, indeed, extremely mortified to see human nature capa. ble of being thus disfigured. However, I reaped this benefit from it, that I was resolved to guard myself against a passion which makes such havoc in the brain, and produces so much disorder in the imagination. For this reason I have endeavoured to keep down the secret swellings of resentment, and stifle the very first suggestions of self-esteem; to establish my mind in tranquility, and over-value nothing in my own or in another's possession. For the benefit of such whose heads are a little turned, though not to so great a degree as to qualify them for the place of which I have been now speaking, I shall assign one of the sides of the college which I am erecting, for the cure of this dangerous distemper. The most remarkable of the persons, whose disturbances arise from pride, and whom I shall use all possible diligence to cure, are such as are hidden in the appearance of quite contrary habits and dispositions. Among such, I shall, in the first place, take care of one who is under the most subtle species of pride that I have observed in my whole experience. This patient is a person for whom I have a great respect, as being an old courtier, and a friend of mine in my youth. The man has but a bare subsistence, just enough to pay his reckoning with us at the Trumpet : but, by having spent the beginning of his life in the hearing of great men and persons of power, he is always promising to do good offices to introduce every man he converses with into the world; will desire one of ten times his substance to let him see him sometimes, and hints to him, that he does not forget him. He answers to matters of no consequence with great circumspection; but, however, maintains a general civility in his words and actions, and an insolent benevolence to all whom he has to do with. This he practises with a grave tone and air; and though I am his senior by twelve years, and richer by forty pounds per annum, he had yesterday the impudence to commend me to my face, and tell me, “he should be always ready to encourage me.” In a word, he is a very insignificant fellow, but exceeding gracious. The best return I can make him for his favours is, to carry him myself to Bedlam, and see him well taken care of. The next person I shall provide for is of a quite contrary character, that has in him all the stiffness and insolence of quality, without a grain of sense or good-nature, to make it either respected or beloved. His pride has infected every muscle of his face; and yet, after all his endeavours to show mankind that he contemns them, he is only neglected by all that see him, as not of consequence enough to be hated.
For the cure of this particular sort of madness, it will be necessary to break through all forms with him, and familiarize his carriage by the use of a good cudgel. It may likewise be of great benefit to make him jump over a stick malf a dozen times every morning.
A third, whom I have in my eye, is a young sellow, whose lunacy is such that he boasts of nothing but what he ought to be ashamed of. He is vain of being rotten, and talks publicly of having committed crimes which he ought to be hanged for by the laws of his country.
There are several others whose brains are hurt with pride, and whom I may hereafter attempt to recover; but shall conclude my present list with an old woman, who is just dropping into her grave, that talks of nothing but her birth. Though she has not a tooth in her head, she expects to be valued for the blood in her veins; which she fancies is much better than that which glows in the cheeks of Belinda and sets half the town on fire.
“To Isaac Birkerstaff, Esquire.
'Sir, I take the boldness to recommend to your care the inclosed letter, not knowing how to communicate it, but by your means, to the agreeable country-maid you mention with so much honour in your discourse concerning the lottery.
“I should be ashamed to give you this trouble without offering at some small requital: I shall therefore direct a new pair of globes, and a telescope of the best maker, to be left for you at Mr. Morphew's, as a testimony of the great respect with which I am,
* Your most humble servant, &c."
“To Mopsa, in Sheerlane.
‘Fain rst UNKNowN.— It being discovered by the stars, that about three months hence you will run the hazard of being persecuted by many worthless pretenders to your person, unless timely prevented; I now offer iny service for your security against the persecution that threatens you. This is, therefore, to let you know, that I have conceived a most extraordinary passion for you; and that for several days I have been perpetually haunted with the vision of a person I have never yet seen. To satisfy you that I am in my senses, and that I do not mistake you for any one of higher rank, I as.
sure you, that in your daily employment you appear to my imagination more agreeable in a short scanty petticoat, than the finest woman of quality in her spreading fardingal; and that the dexterous twirl of your mop has more native charms, than the studied airs of a lady's fan. In a word, I am captivated with your menial qualifications; the domestic virtues adorn you like attendant cupids; cleanliness and healthful industry wait on all your motions; and dust and cobwebs fly your approach. ‘Now, to give you an honest account of myself, and that you may see my designs are honourable, I am an esquire of an ancient family, born to about fiftecn hundred pounds a year; half of which I have spent in discovering myself to be a fool, and with the rest I am resolved to retire with some plain honest partner, and study to be wiser. I had my education in a laced coat, and a French dancing-school; and, by my travel into foreign parts, have just as much breeding to spare, as you may think you want, which I intend to exchange as fast as I can for old English honesty and good sense. I will not impose on you by a false recommendation of my person, which, to show you my sincerity, is none of the handsomest, being of a figure somewhat short; but what I want in length, I make out in breadth. But, in amends for that and all other defects, if you can like me when you see me, I shall continue to you, whether I find you fair, black, or brown, “The most constant of Lovers.”
This letter seems to be written by a wag, and for that reason I am not much concerned for what reception Mopsa shall think fit to give it; but the following certainly proceeds from a poor heart, that languishes under the most deplorable misfortune that possibly can befall a woman. A man that is treacherously dealt with in love, may have recourse to many consolations. He may gracefully break through all opposition to his mistress, or explain with his rival; urge his own constancy, or aggravate the falsehood by which it is repaid. But a woman that is ill-treated, has no refuge in her griefs but in silence and secrecy. The world is so unjust, that a female heart which has been once touched, is thought for ever blemished. The very grief in this case is looked upon as a reproach, and a complaint, almost a breach of chastity. For these reasons we see treachery and falsehood are become, as it were, male vices, and are seldom found, never acknowledged, in the other sex. This may serve to introduce Statira's letter; which, without any turn of art, has something so pathetical and moving in it, that I verily believe it to be true, and therefore heartily pity the injured creature that writ it.
* To Isaac Bickerstaff, Esquire.
‘Sin, -You seem in many of your writings to be a man of a very compassionate temper, and well acquainted with the passion of love. This encourages me to apply myself to you in my present distress, which I believe you will look upon to be very great, and treat with tenderness, notwithstanding it wholly arises