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and correcting will fall to my share, I must do myself the justice to open the work with my own history.
I was born to a small hereditary estate, which, according to the tradition of the village where it lies, was bounded by the same hedges and ditches in William the Conqueror's time that it is at present, and has been delivered down from father to fon whole and entire without the loss or acquisition of a single field or meadow, during the space of fix hundred years. There runs a story in the family, that when my mother was gone with child of me about three months, she dreamt that she was brought to bed of a Judge : whether this might proceed from a law-suit which was then depending in the family, or my father's being a justice of the peace, I cannot determine ; for I am not so vain as to think it presaged any dignity that I should arrive at in my future life, though that was the interpretation which the neighbourhood put upon it. The gravity of my behaviour at my very first appearance in the world, and all the time that I sucked, seemed to favour iny mother's dream : for, as she has often told me, I threw away my rattle before I was two months old, and would not make use of my coral until they had taken away the bells from it.
As for the rest of my infancy, there being nothing in it remarkable, I shall pass it over in silence. I find that, during my nonage, I had the reputation of a very fullen youth, but was always a favourite of my schoolmaster, who used to say, that my parts were folid, and would wear well. I had not been long at the university, before I distinguished myself by a most profound silence ; for during the space of eight years, excepting in the public exercises of the college, I scarce uttered the quantity of an hundred words; and indeed do not remember that I ever spoke three sentences together in my whole life. Whilft I was in this learned body, I applied myself with so much diligence to my studies, that there are very few celebrated books, either in the learned or the modern tongues, which I am not acquainted with.
Upon the death of my father, I was resolved to travel into foreign countries, and therefore left the university, with the character of an odd unaccountable fellow, that had a great deal of learning, if I would but shew it. An infatiable thirst after knowledge carried me into all the countries of Europe, in which there was any thing new or strange to be seen ; nay, to such a degree was my curiosity raised, that having read the controversies of some great men concerning the antiquities of Egypt, I made a voyage to Grand Cairo, on purpose to take the measure of a pyran.id : and as soon as I had set myself right in that particular, returned to my native country with great fatisfaction.
I have passed my latter years in this city, where I am frequently seen in most public places, though there are not above half a dozen of my select friends that know me; of whom my next paper shall give a more particular account. There is no place of general resort, wherein I do not often make my appearance ; sometimes I am feen thrusting my head into a round of politicians at Will's, and listening with great attention to the narratives that are made in those little circular audiences. Sometimes I finoke a pipe at Child's, and while I seem attentive to nothing but the Posiman, overhear the conversation of every table in the room. I appear on Sunday nights at St. James's coffee-house, ard sometimes join the little committee of politics in the inner-room, as one who comes there to hear and improve. My face is likewife very well known at the Grecian, the CocoaTree, and in the theatres both of Drury-Lane and the Hay-Market. I have been taken for a merchant upon the Exchange for above these ten years, and sometimes pass for a Jew in the assembly of stock-jobbers at Jonathan's. In short, wherever I see a cluiter of people, I always mix with them, though I never open my lips but in my own club.
Thus I live in the world rather as a spectator of mankind, than as one of the fpecies, by which means I have made myself a speculative statesnan, foldier, merchant, ard artisan, without ever medaling with any practical part in life. I am very well versed in the theory of a husband or a father, and can discern the errors in the economy, busicefs
, and diversion of others, better than those who are engaged in them; as standers-by discover blots, which are apt to escape those who are in the game. I never espoused any party with violence, and am resolved to observe an exact neutrality between the Whigs and Tories, unless I shall be forced to declare myself by the hostilities of either side. In short, I have acted in all the parts of my life as a looker-on, which is the character I intend to preserve in this paper.
I have given the reader juft so much of my history and character, as to let him see I am not altogether unqualified for the business I have undertaken. As for other particulars in my life and adventures, I shall infert them in following papers, as I fhall fee occafion. In the mean time, when I consider how much I have seen, read, and heard, I begin to blame my own taciturnity; and since I have neither time nor inclination to communicate the fulness of my heart in fpeech, I am resolved to do it in writing, and to print myself out, if possible, before I die. I have been often told by my friends, that it is pity so many useful discoveries which I have made should be in the possession of a filent man. For this reason, therefore, I shall publith a fheet-full of thoughts every morning, for the benefit of my contemporaries; and if I can any way contribute to the diversion or improvement of the country in which I live, I shall leave it, when I am summoned out of it, with the secret fatisfaction of thinking that I have not lived in vain.
There are three very material points which I have not spoken to in this paper ; and which, for several important reasons, I must keep to myself, at least for some time : I mean, an account of my name, my age, and my lodgings. I must confess, I would gratify my reader in any thing
that is reasonable ; but as for these three particulars, though I am sensible they might tend very much to the embellishment of my paper, I cannot yet come to a resolution of communicating them to the public. They would indeed draw me out of that obscurity which I have enjoyed for many years, and expose nie in public places to several falutes and civilities, which have been always very disagreeable to me ; for the greatest pain I can suffer, is the being talked to, and being stared at. It is for this reason likewise, that I keep
my complexion and dress as very great secrets; though it is not impossible, but I may make discoveries of both in the progress of the work I have undertaken.
After having been thus particular upon myself, I shall in to-morrow's paper give an account of those gentlemen who are concerned with me in this work; for, as I have before intimated, a plan of it is laid and concerted (as all other matters of importance are) in a club. However, as my friends have engaged me to stand in the front, those who have a mind to correspond with me, may direct their letters to the SPECTATOR, at Mr. Buckley's in Little-Britain. For I must further acquaint the reader, that though our club meets only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have appointed a committee to fit every night for the inspection of all such papers as may contribute to the advancement of the public weal.
Friday, March 2.
Af alii sex Et plures uno conclamant ore
Juv. Sat. 7. ver. 167. Six more at least join their consenting voice.
The first of our society, is a gentleman of Worces
tersbire, of ancient descent, a baronet, his name fir ROGER DE CoverLEY. His great grandíather was inventor of that famous country-dance which is called after him. All who know that fhire are very well acquainted with the parts and merits of fir Roger. He is a gentleman that is very singular in his behaviour, but his fingularities proceed from his good sense, and are contradictions to the manners of the world, only as he thinks the world is in the wrong. However, this humour creates him no enemies, for he does nothing with fourrels or obstinacy; and his being unconfined to modes and forms, makes him but the readier and more capable to please and oblige all who know him. Wien he is in town, he lives in Sobo-Square. It is faid, he keeps himself a bachelor by reason he was crossed in love by a perverse beautiful widow of the next county to him. Before this disappointment, fir Roger was what you call a fine gentleman, had often fupped with my lord Rochester and sir George Etherege, fought a duel upon his first coming to town, and kicked bully Dawson in a public coffee-house for calling him youngster. But being ill-used by the above-mentioned widow, he was very serious for a year and a half ; and though, his temper being naturally jovial, he at last got over it, he grew careless of himself, and never dressed afterwards. He continues to wear a coat and doublet of the same cut that were in fashion at the time of his repulse, which, in his merry humours, he tells us, has been in and out twelve tiines since he first wore it. It is said fir Roger grew humble in his desires after he had forgot this cruel beauty, infomuch that it is reported he has frequently offended in point of chastity with beggars and gypsies : but this is looked upon by his friends rather as matter of raillery than truth. He is now in his fifty-sixth year, chearful, gay, and hearty; keeps a good house both in town and country; a great lover of mankind; but there is such a mirthful cast in his behaviour, that he is rather beloved than esteemed. His tenants grow rich, his servants look fatisfied, all the young women profess love to him, and the young men
are glad of his company : when he comes into a house he calls the servants by their names, and talks all the way up stairs to a visit. I must not omit, that fir Roger is a justice of the Quorum ; that he fills the chair at a quarter-session with great abilities, and three months ago gained universal applause by explaining a paffage in the game-act.
The gentleman next in esteem and authority among us, is another bachelor, who is a member of the InnerTemple; a man of great probity, wit, and understanding; but he has chosen his place of residence rather to obey the direction of an old humoursome father, than in pursuit of his own inclinations. He was placed there to study the laws of the land, and is the most learned