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as a Spectator, you would carefully examine into the number of births, marriages, and burials; and when you had deducted out of your deaths all such as went out of the world without marrying, then cast up the number of both sexes born within such a term of years last past; you might, from the single people departed, make some useful inferences or guesses how many there are left unmarried, and raise some useful scheme for the amendment of the age in that particular. I have not patience to proceed gravely on this abominable libertinism; for I cannot but reflect, as I am writing to you upon a certain lascivious manner which all our young gentlemen use in public, and examine our eyes with a petulancy in their own which is a downright affront to modesty. A disdainful look on such an occasion is returned with a countenance rebuked, but by averting their eyes from the woman of honour and decency to some flippant creature, who will, as the phrase is, be kinder. I must set down things as they come into my head, without standing upon order. Ten thousand to one but the gay gentleman who stared, at the same time is a house-keeper; for you must know they are got into a humour of late of being very regular in their sins; and a young fellow shall keep his four maids and three footmen with the greatest gravity imaginable. There are no less than six of these venerable housekeepers of my acquaintance. This humour among young men of condition is imitated by all the world below them, and a general dissolution* of manners arises from this one source of libertinism, without shame or reprehension in the male youth. It is from this one fountain that so many beautiful helpless
young women are sacrificed and given up to lewdness, shame, poverty, and disease, It is to this also that so many excellent young women, who might be patterns of conjugal affection, and parents of a worthy race, pine under unhappy passions for such as have not attention to observe, or virtue enough to prefer them to their common wenches. Now, Mr. Spectator, I must be free to own to you that I myself suffer a tasteless insipid being, from a consideration I have for a man who would not, as he said in my hearing, resign his liberty, as he calls it, for all the beauty and wealth the whole sex is possessed of. Such calamities as these would not happen, if it could possibly be brought about, that by fining bachelors as papists convict, or the like, they were distinguished to their disadvantage from the rest of the world, who fall in with the measures of civil society. Lest you should think I speak this as being, according to the senseless rude phrase, a malicious old maid, I shall acquaint you I am a woman of condition, not now three-and-twenty, and have had proposals from at least ten different men, and the greater number of them have upon the upshot refused me. Something or other is always amiss when the lover takes to some new wench. A settlement is easily excepted against; and there is very little recourse to avoid the vicious part of our youth, but throwing oneself away upon some lifeless blockhead, who, though he is without vice, is also without virtue. Now-a-days we must be contented if we can get creatures which are not bad; good are not to be expected. Mr. Spectator, I sat near you the other day, and think I did not displease your spectatorial eyesight; which I shall be a better judge of when I see whether you take notice of these evils your
own way, or print this memorial dictated from the disdainful heavy heart of,
Your most obedient humble servant,
No. 529. THURSDAY, NOV. 6, 1712.
Singula quæque locum teneant sortita decenter.
Let every thing have its due place.
UPON the hearing of several late disputes concerning rank and precedence, I could not forbear amusing myself with some observations, which I have made upon the learned world, as to this great particular. By the learned world I here mean at large all those who are any way concerned in works of literature, whether in the writing, printing, or repeating part. To begin with the writers. I have observed that the author of a folio, in all companies and conversations, sets himself above the author of a quarto; the author of a quarto above the author of an octavo; and so on, by a gradual descent and subordination, to an author in twenty-fours. This distinction is so well observed, that in an assembly of the learned, I have seen a folio writer place himself in an elbow chair, when the author of a duodecimo has, out of a just deference to his superior quality, seated himself upon a squab. In a word, authors are usually ranged in company after the same manner as their works are upon a shelf.
The most minute pocket author hath beneath him the writers of all pamphlets, or works that are only stitched. As for the pamphleteer, he takes place of none but the authors of single sheets, and of that fraternity who publish their labours on certain days, or on every day in the week. I do not find that the precedency among the individuals in this latter class of writers is yet settled.
For my own part, I have had so strict a regard to the ceremonial which prevails in the learned world, that I never presumed to take place of a pamphleteer, until my daily papers were gathered into those two first volumes which have alrea dy appeared. After which, I naturally jumped over the heads not only of all pamphleteers, but of every octavo writer in Great Britain that had written but one book. I am also informed by my bookseller, that six octavos have at all times been looked upon as an equivalent to a folio; which I take notice of the rather, because I would not have the learned world surprised if, after the publication of half a dozen volumes, I take my place accordingly. When my scattered forces are thus rallied, and reduced into regular bodies, I flatter myself that I shall make no despicable figure at the head of them.
Whether these rules, which have been received time out of mind in the commonwealth of letters, were not originally established with an eye to our paper-manufacture, I shall leave to the discussion of others; and shall only remark further in this place, that all printers and booksellers take the wall of one another according to the above-mentioned merits of the authors to whom they respectively belong.
I come now to that point of precedency which is settled among the three learned professions by the wisdom of our laws. I need not here take notice of the rank which is allotted to every doctor in each of these professions, who are all of them, though not so high as knights, yet a degree above 'squires this last order of men, being the illiterate body of the nation, are consequently thrown together in a class below the three learned professions.* I mention this for the sake of several rural 'squires, whose reading does not rise so high as to The present State of England, and who are often apt to usurp that precedency which by the laws of their country is not due to them. Their want of learning which has planted them in this station, may in some measure extenuate their misdemeanour; and our professors ought to pardon them when they offend in this particular, considering that they are in a state of ignorance, or as we usually say, do not know their right hand from their left.
There is another tribe of persons who are retainers to the learned world, and who regulate themselves upon all occasions by several laws peculiar to their body; I mean the players or actor of both sexes. Among these it is a standing and uncontroverted principle, that a tragedian always takes place of a comedian; and it is very well known the merry drolls who make us laugh are always placed at the lower end of the table, and in every entertainment give way to the dignity of the buskin. It is a stage maxim, Once a king, and always a king.' For this reason it would be
* In some universities, that of Dublin in particular, they have doctors of music, who take rank after the doctors of the three learned professions, and above esquires.