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allowing it to rest on any particular image. Nothing therefore is more unnatural than the thoughts and conceptions of such a man, which are feldom occasioned 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 solving a proposition in Euclid; and while you may imagine he is reading the Paris-gazette, it is far from being impossible, that he is pulling down and rebuilding the front of his country-house.
At the fame time that I am endeavouring to expose this weakness in others, I shall readily confess that I once laboured under the same infirmity myself. The method I took to conquer it was a firm refolution to learn something 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 frike somewhat out of any thing. I can at prefent obferve thofe starts of good sense and struggles of unimproved reason in the conversation of a clown, with as much fatisfaction as the most shining periods of the most finished orator ; and can make a shift 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 say little myself
, my attention to others, and those nods of approbation which I never bestow unmerited, fufficiently Thew that I am among them. Whereas Will HONEYCOMB, though a fellow of good sense, is every day doing and saying an hundred things which he afterwards confesses, with a well-bred frankness, were somewhat mal à propos, and undefigned.
I chanced the other day to go into a coffee-house, where Will was standing in the midst of several auditors whom he had gathered round him, and was giving them an account of the person and character of Moll Hinton. My appearance before him just put him in mind of me, without making him reflect that I was actually present. 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 rever opens his mouth; I
he is now thrusting his short face into “ some coffee-house about 'Change. I was his bail in “ the time of the Popish-plot, when he was taken up “ for a jesuit.” If he had looked on me a little longer, he had certainly described me fo particularly, without ever considering what led him into it, that the whole company muft-neceffarily have found me out; for which reason, 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.
Monsieur Bruyere has given us the character of an absent man, with a great deal of humour, which he has pushed to an agreeable extravagance; with the heads of it I shall conclude my present paper.
• Menalcas,' says 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
and examining hiinself further finds that he is but half-shaved, that he has stuck his sword on his right
fide, that his stockings are about his heels, and that his • shirt is over his breeches. When he is dressed, 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 person that is the jest 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 master. As foon
as he stops, Menalcas throws himself out of the coach, • crosses the court, ascends the stair-case, and runs
through all the chambers with the greatest familiarity, ... reposes himself on a couch, and fancies himself at • home. The mafter of the house at last comes in, "Menalcas rises to receive him, and defires him to fit
down; he talks, muses, and then talks again. The gentleman of the house is tired and amazed ; Menal
cas is no less so, but is every moment in hopes that ** his impertinent guest will at last end his tedious
' visit. 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 lose time, she swallows down both the dicė, and at the same time • throws his wine into the tables. He writes a letter, ' and flings the sand into the ink-bottle ; he writes a • fecond, and mistakes the superscription : 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 serve me the winter.” His farmer receives the other, and is amazed to see in it. “ My lord, I received your grace's commands with an entire submissi
on to—” If he is at an er.tertainment, you may see • the pieces of bread continually multiplying round his
plate : 'tis true the rest 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 last goes out · without being able to stay for his coach or dinner, • and for that day you may see him in every part of the town, except
the very place where he had appointed to be upon a business of importance. You would of“ ten take him for every thing that he is not ; for a fel• low quité stupid, 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 involun
tary; for a proud man, for he looks full upon you, and • takes no notice of your faluting him ; the truth on't
eyes are open, but he makes no use of them, " and neither sees you, nor any man, nor any thing else: • he came once from his country-house, 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 so, and coming home told his friends • he had been robbed; they desired to know the parti• culars ; “ Ask my fervants, says Menalcas, for they with
X. Vol. I.
· 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 pothing to do in this day's entertainment, but taking the sentence from the end of the Cambridge letter, and placing it at the front of my paper ; to shew the author I wish him my companion with as much earneftness as he invites me to be his.
· I send you the inclosed, to be inserted, if you think • them worthy of it, in your SPECTATOR : in which so
surprising a genius appears, that it is no wonder if all • mankind endeavours to get somewhat into a paper “which will always live.
• As to the Cambridge affair, the humour was really • carried on in the way I describe it. However, you • have a full commission to put out or in, and to do “whatever you think fit with it. I have already had • the fatisfaction of seeing you take that liberty with * some things I have before sent you.
• Go on, fir, and prosper. You have the best wishes of,
' and obliged humble servant.' « Mr. SPECTATOR,
Cambridge. « YOU well know it is of great consequence to ' clear titles, and it is of importance that it be done in proper season :
: on which account this is to assure you, that the club of ugly faces was instituted originalsy 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 such a club, so, 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. Invitations were made to great numbers, but very
few • accepted them without much difficulty. One pleaded • that being at London in a bookseller's shop, à lady
going by with a great belly longed to kiss him. He · bad certainly been excused, but that evidence appear- .
ed, that indeed one in London did pretend she longed to kiss him, but that it was only a pickpocket, who
during his kissing her stole away all his money. Ano• ther 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 miscarry, and frightened two • children into fits. A third alleged, that he was
taken by a lady for another gentleman, who was one • of the handsomeft in the university; but upon inquiry "it was found that the lady had actually lost 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, so that it was supposed, that ' her pretence of falling in love with him was only in
order to be well married. It was pleasant to hear the "feveral excuses which were made, insomuch that some made as
much interest to be excused as they would • from serving sheriff; however at last the society was
formed, and proper officers were appointed: and the day was fixed for the entertainment, which was in ve
nifon seafon. A pleasant fellow of King's College, com'monly 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 some one
to fit in the elbow-chair, by way of president, at the upper end of the table ; and there the business stuck,
for there was no contention for superiority there. This * affair made so great a noise, that the king, who was