Obrázky stránek

has endeavoured to amuse his company with improbabilities could but look into their minds, he would find that they imagine he lightly esteems of their sense when he thinks to impose upon them, and that he is less esteemed by them in his attempt in doing so. His endeavour to

glory at their expense becomes a ground of quarrel, and the scorn and indifference with which they entertain it begins the immediate punishment: and indeed (if we should even go no farther) silence, or a negligent indifference, has a deeper way of wounding than opposition, because opposition proceeds from an anger that has a sort of generous sentiment for the adversary mingling along with it, while it shews that there is some esteem in your mind for him in short, that you think him worth while to contest with. But silence, or a negligent indifference, proceeds from anger, mixed with a scorn that shews another he is thought by you too contemptible to be regarded.

The other method which the world has taken for correcting this practice of false surprise, is to overshoot such talkers in their own bow, or to raise the story with farther degrees of impossibility, and set up for a voucher to them in such a manner as must let them see they stand detected. Thus I have heard a discourse was once managed upon the effects of fear. One of the company had given an account how it had turned his friend's hair gray in a night, while the terrors of a shipwreck encompassed him. Another, taking the hint from hence, began upon his own knowledge to enlarge his instances of the like nature to such a number, that it was not probable he could ever have met with them and as he still grounded these upon different causes for the sake of variety, it might seem at last, from his share of the conversation, almost impossible that any one who can feel the passion of fear should all his life escape so common an effect of it. By this time, some of the company grew negligent, or desirous to contradict him but one rebuked the rest with an appearance of severity, and, with the known old story in his head, assured them they need not scruple to believe that the fear of any thing can make a man's hair grey, since he knew one whose periwig had suffered so by it. Thus he stopped the talk, and made them easy. Thus is the same method taken to bring us to shame, which we fondly take


to increase our character. It is indeed a kind of mimicry, by which another puts on our air of conversation to shew us to ourselves. He seems to look ridiculous before, that you may remember how near a resemblance you bear to him, or that you may know he will not lie under the imputation of believing you. Then it is that you are struck dumb immediately with a conscientious shame for what you have been saying. Then it is that you are inwardly grieved at the sentiments which you cannot but perceive others entertain concerning you. In short, you are against yourself; the laugh of the company runs against you; the censuring world is obliged to you for that triumph which you have allowed them at your own expense; and truth, which you have injured, has a near way of being revenged on you, when by the bare repetition of your story you become a frequent diversion for the public.


"The other day, walking in Pancras church-yard, I thought of your paper wherein you mention epitaphs, and am of opinion this has a thought in it worth being communicated to your readers.

Here innocence and beauty lies, whose breath
Was snatch'd by early, not untimely, death.
Hence she did go, just as she did begin
Sorrow to know, before she knew to sin.
Death, that does sin and sorrow thus prevent,
Is the next blessing to a life well spent.

"I am, Sir, your servant."

N° 539. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1712.


[ocr errors][merged small]

AM a young widow of a good fortune and family, and just come town; where I find I have clusters of pretty fellows come already to visit me, some dying with hopes, others with fears, though they never saw me. Now, what I would beg of you would be to know whether I may venture to use these pert fellows with the same

freedom as I did my country acquaintance. I desire your leave to use them as to me shall seem meet, without imputation of a jilt: for since I make declaration that not one of them shall have me, I think I ought to be allowed the liberty of insulting those who have the vanity to believe it is in their power to make me break that resolution. There are schools for learning to use foils, frequented by those who never design to fight; and this useless way of aiming at the heart, without design to wound it on either side, is the play with which I am resolved to divert myself. The man who pretends to win, I shall use like him who comes into a fencing-school to pick a quarrel. I hope upon this foundation you will give me the free use of the natural and artificial force of my eyes, looks, and gestures. As for verbal promises, I will make none, but shall have no mercy on the conceited interpreters of glances and motions. I am particularly skilled in the downcast eye, and the recovery into a sudden full aspect and away again, as you may have seen sometimes practised by us country beauties beyond all that you have observed in courts and cities. Add to this, Sir, that I have a ruddy heedless look, which covers artifice the best of any thing. Though I can dance very well, I affect a tottering untaught way of walking, by which I appear an easy prey; and never exert my instructed charms, until I find I have engaged a pursuer. Be pleased, Sir, to print this letter, which will certainly begin the chase of a rich widow. The many foldings, escapes, returns, and doublings, which I make, I shall from time to time communicate to you, for the better instruction of all females, who set up, like me, for reducing the present exorbitant power and insolence "I am, Sir,

of man.

"Your faithful correspondent,


"I depend upon your professed respect for virtuous love for your immediately answering the design of this letter; which is no other than to lay before the world the severity of certain parents, who desire to suspend the marriage of a discreet young woman of eighteen three years longer, for no other reason but that of her being too young to

enter into that state. As to the consideration of riches, my circumstances are such, that I cannot be suspected to make my addresses to her on such low motives as avarice or ambition. If ever innocence, wit, and beauty, united their utmost charms, they have in her. I wish you would expatiate a little on this subject, and admonish her parents. that it may be from the very imperfection of human nature itself, and not any personal frailty of her or me, that our inclinations, baffled at present, may alter; and while we are arguing with ourselves to put off the enjoyment of our present passions, our affections may change their objects in the operation. It is a very delicate subject to talk upon; but if it were but hinted, I am in hopes it would give the parties concerned some reflection that might expedite our happiness. There is a possibility, and I hope I may say it without imputation of immodesty to her I love with the highest honour: I say there is a possibility this delay may be as painful to her as it is to me; if it be as much, it must be more, by reason of the severe rules the sex are under, in being denied even the relief of complaint. If you oblige me in this, and I succeed, I promise you a place at my wedding, and a treatment suitable to your spectatorial dignity.


"Your most humble servant,

"I yesterday heard a young gentleman, that looked as if he was just come to the gown and a scarf, upon evil speaking which subject, you know Archbishop Tillotson has so nobly handled in a sermon in his folio. As soon as ever he had named his text, and had opened a little the drift of his discourse, I was in great hopes he had been one of Sir Roger's chaplains. I have conceived so great an idea of the charming discourse above, that I should have thought one part of my sabbath very well spent in hearing a repetition of it. But, alas! Mr. Spectator, this reverend divine gave us his grace's sermon, and yet I do not know how; even I, that I am sure have read it at least twenty times, could not tell what to make of it, and was at a loss sometimes to guess what the man aimed at. He was so just indeed, as to give us all the heads and the

sub-divisions of the sermon, and farther I think there was not one beautiful thought in it but what we had. But then, Sir, this gentleman made so many pretty additions; and he could never give us a paragraph of the sermon, but he introduced it with something which methought looked more like a design to shew his own ingenuity, than to instruct the people. In short, he added and curtailed in such a manner, that he vexed me; insomuch that I could not forbear thinking (what I confess I ought not to have thought of in so holy a place), that this young spark was as justly blamable as Bullock or Penkethman, when they mend a noble play of Shakspeare or Jonson. Pray, Sir, take this into your consideration; and, if we must be entertained with the works of any of those great men, desire these gentlemen to give them us as they find them, that so when we read them to our families at home, they may the better remember that they have heard them at church. "Sir, your humble servant."

No 540. WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1712.

-Non deficit alter.-VIRG. Æn. vi. 143.

A second is not wanting.



HERE is no part of your writings which I have in more esteem than your criticism upon Milton. It is an honourable and candid endeavour to set the works of our noble writers in the graceful light which they deserve. You will lose much of my kind inclination towards you, it you do not attempt the encomium of Spenser also, or at least indulge my passion for that charming author so far as to print the loose hints I now give you on that subject.

"Spenser's general plan is the representation of six virtues-holiness, temperance, chastity, friendship, justice, and courtesy-in six legends by six persons. The six personages are supposed, under proper allegories suitable to their respective characters, to do all that is necessary for the full manifestation of the respective virtues which they are to exert.

"These one might undertake to shew under the several

[blocks in formation]
« PředchozíPokračovat »