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allowing it to reft on any particular image. Nothing therefore is more unnatural than the thoughts and conceptions of fuch a man, which are feldom occafioned either by the company he is in, or any of those objects which are placed before him. While you fancy he is admiring a beautiful woman, it is an even wager that he is folving a propofition in Euclid; and while you may imagine he is reading the Paris-gazette, it is far from being impoffible, that he is pulling down and rebuilding the front of his country-houfe.
At the fame time that I am endeavouring to expose this weakness in others, Lfhall readily confefs that I once laboured under the fame infirmity.myfelf. The method I took to conquer it was a firm refolution to learn fomething from whatever I was obliged to fee or hear. There is a way of thinking, if a man can attain to it, by which he may ftrike fomewhat out of any thing. I can at prefent obferve thofe ftarts of good fenfe and ftruggles of unimproved reafon in the converfation of a clown, with as much fatisfaction as the most fhining periods of the moft finished orator; and can make a fhift to command my attention at a puppet-fhow or an opera, as well as at Hamlet or Othello. I always make one of the company I am in; for though I fay little myfelf, my attention to others, and thofe nods of approbation which I ver bestow unmerited, fufficiently fhew that I am among them. Whereas WILL HONEYCOMB, though a fellow of good fenfe, is every day doing and faying an hundred things which he afterwards confeffes, with a well-bred franknefs, were fomewhat mal à propos, and undefigned.
I chanced the other day to go into a coffee-houfe, where WILL was ftanding in the midft of feveral auditors whom he had gathered round him, and was giving them an account of the perfon and character of Moll Hinton. My appearance before him juft put him in mind. of me, without making him reflect that I was actually prefent. So that keeping his eyes full upon me, to the great surprise of his audience, he broke off his first harangue, and proceeded thus :- Why now there's my "friend," mentioning me by name, "he is a fellow that "thinks a great deal, but never opens his mouth; I
"warrant you he is now thrusting his fhort face into "fome coffee-house about 'Change. I was his bail in "the time of the Popish-plot, when he was taken up "for a jefuit." If he had looked on me a little longer, he had certainly defcribed me fo particularly, without ever confidering what led him into it, that the whole company muft-neceffarily have found me out; for which reafon, remembering the old proverb, Out of fight out of mind,' I left the room; and, upon meeting him an hour afterwards, was asked by him, with a great deal of good-humour, in what part of the world I had lived, that he had not seen me these three days.
Monfieur Bruyere has given us the character of an abfent man, with a great deal of humour, which he has pushed to an agreeable extravagance; with the heads of it I fhall conclude my prefent paper.
'Menalcas,' fays that excellent author, 'comes down in a morning, opens his door to go out, but shuts it again, because he perceives that he has his night-cap on; and examining himself further finds that he is but half-fhaved, that he has ftuck his fword on his right fide, that his stockings are about his heels, and that his 'fhirt is over his breeches. When he is dreffed, he goes to court, comes into the drawing-room, and walking bolt-upright under a branch of candlesticks his wig is 'caught up by one of them, and hangs dangling in the
air. All the courtiers fall a laughing, but Menalcas laughs louder than any of them, and looks about for the perfon that is the jeft of the company. Coming down to the court-gate he finds a coach, which taking ⚫ for his own he whips into it; and the coach-man drives off, not doubting but he carries his mafter. As foon as he stops, Menalcas throws himself out of the coach, 'croffes the court, afcends the ftair-cafe, and runs through all the chambers with the greatest familiarity, repofes himself on a couch, and fancies himself at home. The mafter of the houfe at laft comes in, Menalcas rifes to receive him, and defires him to fit down; he talks, mufes, and then talks again. The gentleman of the house is tired and amazed; Menalcas is no lefs fo, but is every moment in hopes that his impertinent gueft will at laft end his tedious
'vifit. Night comes on, when Menalcas is hardly un' deceived.
When he is playing at backgammon, he calls for a 'full glass of wine and water; 'tis his turn to throw, he has the box in one hand, and his glass in the other, ' and being extremely dry, and unwilling to lofe time, he swallows down both the dice, and at the same time throws his wine into the tables. He writes a letter, and flings the fand into the ink-bottle; he writes a fecond, and mistakes the fuperfcription: a nobleman ⚫ receives one of them, and upon opening it reads as follows: "I would have you, honeft Jack, imme"diately upon the receipt of this, take in hay enough "to ferve me the winter." His farmer receives the other, and is amazed to fee in it. My lord, I re"ceived your grace's commands with an entire fubmiffion to" If he is at an entertainment, you may fee the pieces of bread continually multiplying round his plate: 'tis true the reft of the company want it, as well as their knives and forks, which Menalcas does not let them keep long. Sometimes in a morning he puts his whole family in a hurry, and at laft goes out ⚫ without being able to ftay for his coach or dinner, and for that day you may fee him in every part of the town, except the very place where he had appointed to be upon a bufinefs of importance. You would often take him for every thing that he is not; for a fel⚫ low quite ftupid, for he hears nothing; for a fool, for he talks to himself, and has an hundred grimaces and motions with his head, which are altogether involuntary; for a proud man, for he looks full upon you, and takes no notice of your faluting him; the truth on't is, his eyes are open, but he makes no use of them, ⚫ and neither fees you, nor any man, nor any thing else: ⚫ he came once from his country-houfe, and his own footmen undertook to rob him, and fucceeded: They held a flambeau to his throat, and bid him deliver his purfe; he did fo, and coming home told his friends ⚫ he had been robbed; they defired to know the parti culars; "Afk my fervants, fays Menalcas, for they "were with me." X.
Wednesday, May 30.
Cum talis fis, utinam nofter effes!
Cou'd we but call fo great a genius ours!
THE following letters are so pleasant, that I doubt
not but the reader will be as much diverted with them as I was. I have nothing to do in this day's entertainment, but taking the fentence from the end of the Cambridge letter, and placing it at the front of my paper; to fhew the author I with him my companion with as much earnestnefs as he invites me to be his.
I fend you the inclofed, to be inferted, if you think them worthy of it, in your SPECTATOR: in which fo furprising a genius appears, that it is no wonder if all mankind endeavours to get fomewhat into a paper "which will always live.
As to the Cambridge affair, the humour was really 'carried on in the way I defcribe it. However, you have a full commiffion to put out or in, and to do whatever you think fit with it. I have already had the fatisfaction of feeing you take that liberty with fome things I have before fent you.
Go on, fir, and profper. You have the best wishes of, 6 Sir,
YOU well know it is of great confequence to clear titles, and it is of importance that it be done in
• the proper feafon : : on which account this is to affure
you, that the club of ugly faces was inftituted originally at Cambridge in the merry reign of king Charles II. As in great bodies of men it is not difficult to find
⚫ members enough for fuch a club, fo, I remember, it was then feared, upon their intention of dining toge⚫ther, that the hall belonging to Clare-Hall, the ugliest then in the town, tho' now the neateft, would not be large enough hand fomely to hold the company. In'vitations were made to great numbers, but very few • accepted them without much difficulty. One pleaded that being at London in a bookfeller's fhop, a lady going by with a great belly longed to kiss him. He had certainly been excufed, but that evidence appeared, that indeed one in London did pretend she longed to kifs him, but that it was only a pickpocket, who during his kiffing her ftole away all his money. Another would have got off by a dimple in his chin; but it was proved upon him, that he had, by coming into a room, made a woman mifcarry, and frightened two children into fits. A third alleged, that he was taken by a lady for another gentleman, who was one ⚫ of the handfomeft in the univerfity; but upon inquiry it was found that the lady had actually loft one eye, and the other was very much upon the decline. A fourth produced letters out of the country in his vindication, in which a gentleman offered him his daughter, who had lately fallen in love with him, with a good fortune: but it was made appear that the young
lady was amorous, and had like to have run away with ' her father's coachman, fo that it was fuppofed, that ⚫ her pretence of falling in love with him was only in
order to be well married. It was pleasant to hear the "feveral excufes which were made, infomuch that some " made as much intereft to be excufed as they would 'from ferving sheriff; however at laft the fociety was formed, and proper officers were appointed: and the day was fixed for the entertainment, which was in venifon feafon. A pleafant fellow of King's College, commonly called Crab from his four look, and the only man who did not pretend to get off, was nominated for chaplain; and nothing was wanting, but fome one to fit in the elbow-chair, by way of prefident, at the B upper end of the table; and there the business stuck, for there was no contention for fuperiority there. This * affair made fo great a noise, that the king, who was