« PreviousContinue »
No. 568. FRIDAY, JULY 16.
-Dum recitas, incipit esse tuus.
MART, Ep. i. 39. -- Reciting makes it thine.
I was yesterday in a coffee-house * not far from the Royal Exchange, where I observed three persons in close conference over a pipe of tobacco; upon which, having filled one for my own use, I lighted it at the little wax candle that stood before them ; and, after having thrown in two or three whiffs amongst them, sat down and made one of the company.
I need not tell my reader, that lighting a man's pipe at the same candle, is looked upon, among brother smokers, as an overture to conversation and friendship. As we here laid our heads together in a very amicable manner, being intrenched under a cloud of our own raising, I took up the last Spectator, and casting my eye over it, “The Spectator (says I) is very witty to-day; ' upon which a lusty lethargic old gentleman, who sat at the upper end of the table, having gradually blown out of his mouth a great deal of smoke, which he had been collecting for some time before, ' Ay, (says he) more witty than wise I am afraid.' His neighbour, who sat at his right hand, immediately coloured, and being an angry politician, laid down his pipe with so much wrath that he broke it in the middle, and by that means furnished me with a tobaccostopper. I took it up very sedately, and looking him full in the face, made use of it from time to time, all the while he was speaking: "This fellow, (says he,) cannot for his life keep out of politics. Do you see how he abuses four great men here?' I fixed my eye very attentively on the paper, and asked him if he meant those who were represented by asterisks. “Asterisks, (says he,) do you call them ? they are all of them stars. He might as well have put garters to them. Then pray do but mind the two or three next lines ! Ch-rch and p-dd-ng in the same sentence! Our clergy are very much beholden to him.' Upon this, the third gentleman, who was of a kind disposition, and, as I found, a whig in his heart, desired him not to be too severe upon the Spectator neither; ‘For, (says he,) you find he is very cautious of giving offence, and has therefore put two dashes into his pudding.' 'A fig for his dash, (says the angry politician,) in his next sentence he gives a plain inuendo, that our posterity will be in a sweet pockle. What does the fool mean by his pickle ? why does he not write at length, if he means honestly?' 'I have read over the whole sentence, (says I,) but I look upon the parenthesis in the belly of it to be the most dangerous part, and as full of insinuations as it can hold. But who, (says I,) is my Lady Q-p-t-s?' 'Ay, answer that if you can, sir,' says the furious statesman to the poor whig that sat over against him. But without giving him time to reply, 'I do assure you, (says he,) were I my Lady Q-p-t-S, I would sue him for scandalum magnatum. What is the world come to ? must every body be allowed to?' He had, by this time, filled a new pipe, and applying it to his lips, when we expected the last word of his sentence, puts us off with a whiff of tobacco; which he redoubled with so much rage and trepidation, that he almost stifled the whole company. After a short pause, I owned that I thought the Spectator had gone too far in writing so many letters in my Lady Q-p-t-s's name; 'But, however, (says I) he has made a little amends for it in his next sentence, where he leaves a blank space without so much as a consonant to direct us! I mean, says I, after those words, The fleet that used to be the terror of the ocean, should lie wind-bound for the sake of a- -; after which ensues a chasm, that, in my opinion, looks modest enough.' "Sir,' says my antagonist, you may easily know his meaning by his gaping; I suppose he designs his chasm, as you call it, for an hole to creep out at, but I believe it will hardly serve his turn. Who can endure to see the great officers of state, the B-y's and T-t's treated after so scurrilous a manner?' 'I cannot for my life, (says I,) imagine who the Spectator means :' 'No! (says he,)-Your humble servant, sir!! Upon which he flung himself back in his chair after a contemptuous manner, and smiled upon the old lethargic gentleman on his left hand, who I found was his great admirer. The whig, however, had begun to conceive a good will towards me, and seeing my pipe out, very generously offered me the use of his box : but I declined it with great civility, being obliged to meet a friend about that time in another quarter of the city.
* The Spectator appears, in this paper, under bis newly assumed per. son of a talker. And, indeed, by the specimen, one is tempted to wisb that he had written more of these essays on the same plan.-H
At my leaving the coffee-house, I could not forbear reflecting with myself, upon that gross tribe of fools, who may be termed the Overwise, and upon the difficulty of writing any thing in this censorious age, which a weak head may not construe into private satire and personal reflection.
A man who has a good nose at an innuendo, smells treason and sedition in the most innocent words that can be put together, and never sees a vice or folly stigmatized, but finds out one or other of his acquaintance pointed at by the writer. I remember an empty pragmatical fellow, in the country, who, upon reading over ' The whole Duty of Man,' had written the names of several persons in the village at the side of every sin which is mentioned by that excellent author : so that he had converted one of the best books in the world into a libel against the 'squire, churchwardens, overseers of the poor, and all other of the most considerable persons in the parish. This book, with these extraor. dinary marginal notes, fell accidentally into the hands of one who
had never seen it before: upon which there arose a current report that somebody had written a book against the 'squire and the whole parish. The minister of the place having, at that time a controversy with some of his congregation, upon the account of his tythes, was under some suspicion of being the author, until the good man set his people right, by showing them that the satirical passages might be applied to several others of two or three neighbouring villages, and that the book was written against all the sinners in England.
No. 569. MONDAY, JULY 19.
Reges dicuntur multis urgere culullis
IIOR, Ars Poct. 434.
No vices are so incurable as those which men are apt to glory in.
One would wonder how drunkenness should have the good luck to be of this number. Anacharsis, being invited to a match of drinking at Corinth, demanded the prize very humourously, because he was drunk before any of the rest of the company; for, says he, when we run a race, he who arrives at the goal first is entitled to the reward. On the contrary, in this thirsty generation, the honour falls upon him who carries off the greatest quantity of liquor, and knocks down the rest of the company. I was the other day with honest Will Funnell, the West Saxon, who was reckoning up how much liquor had passed through him in the last twenty years of his life, which, according to his computation, amounted to twenty-three hogsheads of October, four ton of port, half a kilderkin of small beer, nineteen barrels of cyder, and three glasses of champaigne ; besides which, he had assisted at four hundred bowls of punch, not to mention sips, drams, and whets without number. I question not but every reader's memory will suggest to him several ambitious young men who are as vain in this particular as Will Funnell, and can boast of as glorious exploits.
Our modern philosophers observe, that there is a general decay of moisture in the globe of the earth. This they chiefly ascribe to the growth of vegetables, which incorporate into their own substance many fluid bodies that never return again to their former nature: but, with submission, they ought to throw into their account those innumerable rational beings which fetch their nourishment chiefly out of liquids ; especially when we consider that men, compared with their fellow-creatures, drink much more than comes to their share.
But however highly this tribe of people may think of themselves, a drunken man is a greater monster than any that is to be found among all the creatures which God has made; as, indeed, there is no character which appears more despicable and deformed, in the eyes of all reasonable persons, than that of a drunkard. Bonosus, one of our countrymen, who was addicted to this vice, having set up for a share in the Roman empire, and being defeated in a great battle, hanged himself. When he was seen by the army in this melancholy situation, notwithstanding he had behaved himself very bravely, the common jest was, that the thing they saw hanging upon the tree before them was not a man but a bottle.
This vice has very fatal effects on the mind, the body, and fortune of the person who is devoted to it.
In regard to the mind, it first of all discovers every flaw in it.