Page images
PDF

vourites, with which she is always surrounded; but the genius of each of them will best appear by the account of what happened to me at their houses. About five this afternoon, being tired with study, the weather inviting, and time lying a little upon my hands, I resolved, at the insti. #. of my evil genius, to visit them; their usbands having been our contemporaries. This I thought I could do without much trouble; for both live in the very next street. I went first to my lady Camomile; and the butler, who had lived long in the family, and seen me often in his master's time, ushered me very civilly into the parlour, and told me though my lady had given strict orders to be denied, he was sure I might be admitted, and bid the black boy acquaint his lady that I was come to wait upon her. In the window lay two letters, one broke open, the other fresh sealed with a wafer: the first directed to the divine Cosmelia, the second to the charming Lucinda; but both, by the indented characters, appeared to have been writ by very unsteady hands. Such uncommon addresses increased my curiosity, and put me upon asking my old friend the butlar, if he knew who those persons were 2 Very well,” says he, ‘this is from Mrs. Furbish to my lady, an old school-fellow and great crony of her ladyships; and this the answer.' I inquired in what county she lived. “Oh dear!" says he, “but just by, in the neighbourhood. Why, she was here all this morning, and that letter came and was answered within these two hours. They have taken an odd fancy, you must know, to call one ano. ther hard names; but, for all that, they love one another hugely.’ By this time the boy returned with his lady's humble service to me, desiring I would excuse her; for she could not possibly see me, nor any body else, for it was operanight.” * Methinks,’ says I, such innocent folly as two old women's courtship to each other, should rather make you merry than put you out of humour.” “Peace, good Isaac,’ says he, “no interruption, I beseech you.' I got soon to Mrs. Feeble's; she that was formerly Betty Frisk; you must needs remember her; Tom Feeble of Brazen Nose fell in love with her for her fine dancing. Well, Mrs. Ursula, without further ceremony, carries me directly up to her mistress's chamber, where I found her environed by four of the most mischievous animals that can ever infest a family; an old shock dog with one eye, a monkey chained to one side of the chimney, a great gray squirrel to the other, and a parrot waddling in the middle of the room. However, for a while, all was in a profound tranquillity. Upon the mantle-tree, for I am a pretty curious observer, stood a pot of lambetive electuary, with a stick of liquorice, and near it a phial of rose-water, and powder of tutty. Upon the table lay a pipe filled with betony and colt's. foot, a roll of wax-candle, a silver spitting-pot, and a Seville orange. The lady was placed in a large wicker chair, and her feet wrapped up in flannel, supported by cushions; and in this attitude, would you believe it, Isaac, was she reading a romance with spectacles on. The first compliments over, as she was industriously endeavouring to enter upon conversation, a vio

lent fit of coughing seized her. This awaked Shock, and in a trice the whole room was in an uproar; for the dog barked, the squirrel squealed, the monkey chattered, the parrot screamed, and Ursula, to appease them, was more clamorous than all the rest. You, Isaac, who know how any harsh noise affects my head, may guess what I suffered from the hideous din of these discordant sounds. At length all was appeased, and quiet restored: a chair was drawn for me; where I was no sooner seated, but the parrot fixed his horny beak, as sharp as a pair of sheers, in one of my heels, just above the shoe. I sprung from the place with an unusual agility, and so, being within the monkey's reach, he snatches off my new bob-wig, and throws it upon two apples that were roasting by a sullen sea-coal fire. I was nimble enough to save it from any further damage than singing the foretop. I put it on ; and composing myself as well as I could, I drew my chair towards the other side of the chimney. The good lady, as soon as she had recovered breath, employed it in making a thousand apologies, and, with great eloquence, and a numerous train of words, lamented my misfortune. In the middle of her harangue, I felt something scratching near my knee, and feeling what it should be, found the squirrel had got into my coat pocket. As I endeavoured to remove him from his burrow, he made his teeth . meet through the fleshy part of my fore-finger. This gave me an inexpressible pain. The Hungary water was immediately brought to bathe it, and gold-beaters' skin applied to stop the blood. The lady renewed her excuses; but be. ing now out of all patience, I abruptly took my leave, and hobbling down stairs with heedless haste, I set my foot full in a pail of water, and down we came to the bottom together.” Here my friend concluded his narrative, and, with a composed countenance, I began to make him compliments of condolence; but he started from his chair, and said, ‘Isaac, you may spare your speeches, I expect no reply. When I told you this, I knew you would laugh at me; but the next woman that makes me ridiculous shall be a young one.'

No.267.) Saturday, December 23, 1710.

Qui genus humanum ingenio superavit, et omnes Restinxit stellas, exortus uti aerius sol. Lucr. iii. 1056.

His genius quite obscur'd the brightest ray

Of human thought, as Sol's effulgent beams

At morn's approach, extinguish all the stars.
R. Wynne.

From my own Apartment, December 22.

I have heard that it is a rule among the conventuals of several orders in the Romish church to shut themselves up at a ceriain time of the year, not only from the world in general, but from the members of their own fraternity; and to pass away several days by themselves in settling accounts between their Maker and their own souls, in canceling unrepented crimes, and renewing their contracts of obedience for the future. Such stated times for particular acts of

devotion, or the exercise of certain religious duties, have been enjoined in all civil governments, whatever deity they worshipped, or whatever religion they professed. That which may be done at all times, is often totally neglected and forgotten, unless fixed and determined to some time more than another; and therefore, though several duties may be suitable to every day of our lives, they are most likely to be performed, if some days are more particularly set apart for the practice of them. Our church has accordingly instituted several seasons of devotion, when time, custom, prescription, and, if I may so say, the fashion itself, call upon a man to be serious, and attentive to the great end of his being. I have hinted in some former papers, that the greatest and wisest of men in all ages and countries, particularly in Rome and Greece, were renowned for their piety and virtue. It is now iny intention to show, how those in our own nation, that have been unquestionably the most eminent for learning and knowledge, were likewise the most eminent for their adherence to the religion of their country. I might produce very shining examples from among the clergy; but because priest-craft is the common cry of every cavilling, empty scribbler, I shall show that all the laymen who have exerted a more than ordinary genius in their writings, and were the glory of their times, were men whose hopes were filled with immortality, and the prospect of future rewards, and men who lived in a dutiful submission to all the doctrines of revealed religion. I shall, in this paper, only instance sir Francis Bacon, a man who, for greatness of genius, and compass of knowledge, did honour to his age and country; I could almost say to human nature itself. He possessed at once all those extraordinary talents, which were divided amongst the greatest authors of antiquity. He had the sound, distinct, comprehensive knowledge of Aristotle, with all the beautiful lights, graces, and embellishments of Cicero. One does not know which to admire most in his writings, the strength of reason, force of style, or brightness of imagination. This author has remarked in several parts of his works, that a thorough insight into philosophy makes a good believer, and that a smattering in it naturally produces such a race of des. picable infidels as the little profligate writers of the present age, whom, I must confess, I have always accused to myself, not so much for their want of faith as their want of learning. I was infinitely pleased to find, among the works of this extraordinary man, a prayer of his own composing, which for the elevation of thought, and greatness of expression, seems rather the devotion of an angel than a man. His principal fault seems to have been the excess of that virtue which covers a multitude of faults. This betrayed him to so great an indulgence towards his servants, who made a corrupt use of it, that it stripped him of all those riches and honours which a long series of merits had heaped upon him. But in this prayer, at one same time that we find him prostrating

[ocr errors]

bled under afflictions, which at that time lay heavy upon him, we see him supported by the sense of his integrity, his zeal, his devotion, and his love to mankind; which give him a much higher figure in the minds of thinkin men, than that greatness had done from ...; he was fallen. I shall beg leave to write down the prayer itself, with the title with it, as it was found amongst his lordship's papers, written in his own hand; not being able to furnish my readers with an entertainment more suitable to this solemn time.

A Prayer, or Psalm, made by my Lord Bacon, Chancellor of England.

“Most gracious Lord God, my merciful Father; from my youth up my Creator, my Redeemer, my Comforter. Thou, O Lord, soundest and searchest the depths and secrets of all hearts; thou acknowledgest the upright of heart; thou judgest the hypocrite; thou ponderest men's thoughts and doings as in a balance; thou measurest their intentions as with a line ; vanity and crooked ways cannot be hid from thee. “Remember, O Lord ' how thy servant hath walked before thee; remember what I have first sought, and what hath been principal in my intentions. I have loved thy assemblies, I have mourned for the divisions of thy church, I have delighted in the brightness of thy sanctuary. This vine, which thy right hand hath planted in this nation, I have ever prayed unto thee that it might have the first and the latter rain, and that it might stretch her branches to the seas, and to the floods. The state and bread of the poor and oppressed have been precious in mine eyes; I have hated all cruelty and hardness of heart; I have, though in a despised wced, procured the good of all men. If any have been my enemies, I thought not of them, neither hath the sun almost set upon my displeasure; but I have been, as a dove, free from superfluity of maliciousness. Thy creatures have been my books, but thy scriptures much more. I have sought thee in the courts, fields, and gardens; but I have found thee in thy temples. “Thousands have been my sins, and ten thousands my transgressions, but thy sanctifications have remained with me, and my heart, through thy grace, hath been an unquenched coal upon thine altar. “O Lord, my strength! I have since my youth met with thee in all my ways, by thy fatherly compassions, by thy comfortable chastisements, and by thy most visible providence. As thy savours have increased upon me, so have thy corrections; so as thou hast been always near me, O Lord! and ever as my worldly blessings were exalted, so secret darts from thee have pierced me; and when I have ascended before men, I have descended in humiliation before thee. And now, when I thought most of peace and honour, thy hand is heavy upon me, and hath humbled me according to thy former loving-kindness, keeping me still in thy fatherly school, not as a bastard, but as a child. Just are thy judgments upon me for my sins, which are more in number than the sands of the sea, but have no proportion to thy mercies; for what are the sands of the sea 7 Earth, heavens, and all these are nothing to thy mercies. Besides my innumerable sins, I confess before thee, that I am debtor to thee for the gracious talent of thy gifts and graces, which I have neither put into a napkin, nor put it as I ought, to exchangers, where it might have made best profit, but misspent it in things for which I was least fit; so I may truly say, my soul hath been a stranger in the course of my pilgrimage. Be merciful unto me, O Lord, for my Saviour's sake, and receive me unto thy bosom, or guide me in thy ways.' in his own particular opinion, language, or character. I would likewise, in the second place, grant an exemption from the elbow-chair to any person who treats the company, and by that means may be supposed to pay for his audience. A guest cannot take it ill, if he be not allowed to talk in his turn by a person who puts his mouth to a better employment, and stops it with good beef and mutton. In this case the guest is very agreeably silenced, and seems to hold his tongue under that kind of bribery which the ancients called bos in lingua.” If I can once extirpate the race of solid and substantial humdrums, I hope, by my whole. some and repeated advices, quickly to reduce the insignificant tittle-tattles, and matter-of-fact. men, that abound in every quarter of this great city. Epictetus, in his little system of morality, prescribes the following rule with that beautiful simplicity which shines through all his precepts: “Beware that thou never tell thy dreams in com. pany; for, notwithstanding thou mayest take a pleasure in telling thy dreams, the company will take no pleasure in hearing them.” This rule is conformable to a maxim which I have laid down in a late paper, and must always inculcate into those of my readers who find in themselves an inclination to be very talkative and impertinent, ‘that they should not speak to please themselves, but those that hear them.” It has been often observed by witty essay writers, that the deepest waters are always the most silent; that empty vessels make the greatest sound; and tinkling cymbals the worst music. The marquis of Halifax, in his admirable “Advice to a daughter,’ tells her, “that good sense has always something sullen in it:' but as sullenness does not imply silence, but an ill-natured silence, I wish his lordship had given a softer name to it. Since I am engaged unawares in quotations, I must not onlit the satire which Horace has written against this impertinent talkative companion; and which, I think, is fuller of humour than any other satire he has written. This great author, who had the nicest taste of conversation, and was himself a most agreeable companion, had so strong an antipathy to a great talker, that he was afraid some time or other it would be mortal to him ; as he has very humorously described it in his conversation with an impertinent fellow, who had like to have been the death of him.

[blocks in formation]

“We, the customers of this coffee-house, observing that you have taken into your consideration the great mischiefs daily done in this city by coffee-house orators, do humbly beg leave to represent to you, that this coffee-house being provided with a pulpit for the benefit of such auctions that are frequently made in this place, it is our custon, upon the first coming in of the news, to order a youth, who officiates as the Kidney of the coffee-house, to got into the pulpit, and read every paper with a loud and dis. tinct voice, while the whole audience are sipping their respective liquors. We do, therefore, sir, humbly propose, that there be a pulpit erected within every coffee-house of this city and the adjacent parts; that one of the waiters of the coffee-house, be nominated as reader to the said pulpit: that after the news of the day has been published by the said lecturer, some politician of good note do ascend into the said pulpit: and, after having chosen for his text any article of the said news, that he do establish the authority of such article, clear the doubts that may arise thereupon, compare it with parallel texts in other papers, advance upon it wholesome points of doctrine, and draw from it salutary conclusions for the benefit and edification of all that hear him. We do likewise humbly propose, that upon any such politician's quitting the pulpit, he shall be succeeded by any other orator that finds himself moved by the same public spirit, who shall be at full liberty either to enforce or overthrow what the other has said before

him, and may in the same manner, be succeeded by any other politician, who shall, with the same liberty, confirm or impugn his reasons, strengthen or invalidate his conjectures, enlarge upon his schemes, or erect new ones of his own. We do likewise further propose, that if any person, of what age and rank soever do presume to cavil at any paper that has been read, or to hold forth upon it longer than the space of one minute, that he be immediately ordered up into the pulpit, there to make good any thing that he has suggested upon the floor. We do likewise further propose, that if any one plays the orator in the ordinary coffee-house conversation, whether it be upon peace or war, on plays or sermons, business or poetry, that he be forthwith desired to take his place in the pulpit. This, sir, we humbly presume, may in a great measure put a stop to those superficial statesmen, who would not dare to stand up in this manner before a whole congregation of politicians, notwithstanding the long and tedious harangues and dissertations which they daily utter in private circles, to the breaking of many honest tradesmen, the seducing of several eminent citizens, the making of numberless malecontents, and to the great detriment and disquiet of her majesty's subjects.”

I do heartily concur with my ingenious friends of the above-mentioned coffee-house in these their proposals: and, because I apprehend there may be reasons to put an immediate stop to the grievance complained of, it is my intention, that, until such time as the aforesaid pulpits can be erected, every orator do place him. self within the bar, and from thence dictate whatsoever he shall think necessary for the public good. And further, because I am very desirous that proper ways and means should be found out for the suppressing of story-tellers and fine talkers in all ordinary conversations whatsoever, I do insist, that in every private club, company, or meeting over a bottle, there be always an elbowchair placed at the table; and that as soon as any one begins a long story, or extends his discourse beyond the space of one minute, he be forthwith thrust into the said elbow-chair, unless upon any of the company's calling out, ‘to the chair,’ he breaks off abruptly, and holds his tongue.

There are two species of men, notwithstanding any thing that has been here said, whom I would exempt from the disgrace of the elbowchair. The first are those buffoons that have a talent of mimicking the speech and behaviour of other persons, and turning all their patrons, friends, and acquaintance, into ridicule. I look upon your pantomime as a legion in a man, or at least to be, like Virgil's monster, “with a hundred mouths and as many tongues.’

[blocks in formation]

Interpellandi locus hic era to Est tibi mater,
Cognati, quies te salvoest opus? Hand mihi quisquam.
Omnes composui. Felices' nunc ego resto:
Confice; nanoue instat fatum mihi triste, Sabella
Quod puero cecin it divina mota anus urna,
Huno neque dira venena, nec hostic is auferit ensis,
Nec laterun dolor, aut tusis, nec tarda podagra.
Garrulns hunc quando consumet cunque; loquaces
Si sapiat, vitet, simul atolue adoleverit attas,
Hor. 1 sat. ix. 26.
Have you no mother, sister, friends,
Whose welfare on your health depends?—
* Not one; I saw then all by turns
Securely settled in their urns.”

* An allosion to the image of a hull, or, or conr, stampt upon the noney then. and there in current use, whence -- coin was called bos.

[blocks in formation]

‘Dorsetshire, Dec. 20.

‘MR. BickFRSTAFF, It is my misfortune to be enamoured of a lady, that is neither very beautiful, very witty, nor at all well-natured; but has the vanity to think she excels in all these qualifications, and therefore is cruel, insolent, and scornful. When I study to please her, she treats me with the utmost rudeness and illmanners: if I approach her person, she fights, she scratches me : if I offer a civil salute, she bites me; insomuch, that very lately, before a whole assembly of ladies and gentlemen, she ripped out a considerable part of my left cheek. This is no sooner done, but she begs my pardon in the most handsome and becoming terms imaginable, gives herself worse language than I could find in my heart to do, lets me embrace her to pacify her while she is railing at herself, protests she deserves the esteem of no one living, says I am too good to contradict her when she thus accuses herself. This atones for all ; tempts me to renew my addresses, which are ever returned in the same obliging manner. Thus, without some speedy relief, I am in danger of losing my whole face. Notwithstanding all this, I doat upon her, and am satisfied she loves me, because she takes me for a man of sense, which I have been generally thought, except in this one instance. Your reflections upon this strange amour would be very useful in these parts, where we are overrun with wild beauties and romps. I earnestly beg your assistance, either to deliver me from the power of this unaccountable enchantment, or by some proper animadversions, to civilize the behaviour of this agreeable rustic. I am, sir, your most humble servant,

• EBENEZER."

"Mr. Bickerstaff, I now take leave to address you in your character of Censor, and complain to you that among the various errors in conversation which you have corrected, there is one which, though it has not escaped a general reproof, yet seems to deserve a more particular severity. It is a humour of jesting on disagreeable subjects, and insisting on the jest, the more it creates uneasiness; and this some men think they have a title to do as friends. Is the design

of jesting, to provoke 2 or does friendship give.

a privilege to say things with a design to shock 2 How can that be called a jest which has nothing in it but bitterness It is generally allowed necessary, for the peace of company, that men should a little study the tempers of each other; but certainly that must be in order to shun what is offensive, not to make it a constant entertainment. The frequent repetition of what appears harsh, will unavoidably leave a rancour that is fatal to friendship; and I doubt much whether it. would be an argument of a man's good-humour, if he should be roused by perpetual teazing, to treat those who do it as his enemies. In a word, whereas, it is a common practice to let a story die, merely because it does not touch, I think such as mention one they find does, are as troublesome to society, and as unfit for it, as wags, men of figure, good talkers, or any other apes in conversation; and therefore, for the public benefit, I hope you will cause them to be branded with such a name as they deserve. I am, sir, your's, PATIENT FRIENDLY.'

The case of Ebenezer is a very common one, and is always cured by neglect. These fantastical returns of affection proceed from a certain vanity in the other sex, supported by a perverted taste in ours. I must publish it as a rule, that no faults which proceed from the will, either in a mistress or a friend, are to be tolerated: but we should be so complaisant to ladies as to let them displease when they aim at doing it. Pluck up a spirit, Ebenezer; recover the use of your judgment, and her faults will appear, or her beauties vanish. “Her faults begin to please me as well as my own,' is a sentence very prettily put into the mouth of a lover by the comic poet;" but he never designed it for a maxim of life, but the picture of an imperfection. If Ebenezer takes my advice, the same temper which made her insolent to his love will make her submissive to his indifference.

I cannot wholly ascribe the faults, mentioned in the second letter, to the same vanity or pride in companions who secretly triumph over their friends, in being sharp upon them in things where they are most tender. But when this sort of behaviour does not proceed from that source, it does from barrenness of invention, and an inability to support a conversation in a way less offensive. It is the same poverty which makes men speak or write smuttily, that forces them to talk vexingly. As obscene language is an address to the lewd for applause, so are sharp allusions an appeal to the ill-natured. But mean and illiterate is that conversation, where one man exercises his wit to make another exercise his patience.

* Congreve; see ‘The way of the World,' act i. sc. 3.

Advertisement.

Whereas Plagius has been told again and again, both in public and private, that he preaches excellently well, and still goes on to preach as well as ever, and all this to a polite and learned audience: this is to desire, that he would not hereafter be so eloquent, except to a country congregation; the proprietors of Tillotson's works having consulted the learned in the law, whether preaching a sermon they have published, is not to be construed publishing their copy 7

Mr. Dogood is desired to consider, that his story is severe upon a weakness, and not a folly.

No. 270.] Saturday, December 30, 1710.

Cum pulchris tunicis sumet nova consilia et spes. Hor. 1 Ep. xviii. 33.

In gay attire when the vain coxcomb's drest, Strange hopes and projects fill his labouring breast.

From my own Apartment, December 29.

According to my late resolution, I take the holidays to be no improper season to entertain the town with the addresses of my correspondents. In my walks every day, there appear all round me very great offenders in the point of dress. An armed tailor had the impudence yesterday in the Park to smile in my face, and pull off a laced hat to me, as it were in contempt of my authority and censure. However, it is a very great satisfaction that other people, as well as myself, are offended with these improprieties. The following notices, from persons of different sexes and qualities, are a sufficient instance how useful my lucubrations are to the public.

. . Jack's Coffee-house, near Guildhall, Dec. 27.

‘Cousin Bickerstaff, It has been the peculiar blessing of our family to be always above the smiles or frowns of fortune, and, by a certain greatness of mind, to restrain all irregular fondnesses or passions. From hence it is, that though a long decay, and a numerous descent, have obliged many of our house to fall into the arts of trade and business, no one person of us has ever made an appearance that betrayed our being unsatisfied with our own station of life, or has ever affected a mien or gesture unsuitable to it.

‘You have up and down in your writings very justly remarked, that it is not this or the other profession or quality among men that gives us honour or esteem, but the well or ill behaving ourselves in those characters. It is, therefore, with no small concern, that I behold in coffeehouses and public places my brethren, the tradesmen of this city, put off the smooth, even, and ancient decorum of thriving citizens, for a fantastical dress and figure, improper for their persons and characters, to the utter destruction of that order and distinction, which of right ought to be between St. James's and Milk-street, the Camp and Cheapside.”

‘I have given myself some time to find out how distinguishing the frays in a lot of muslins, or drawing up a regiment of thread laces, or

« PreviousContinue »