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ous ambition of doing all possible hurt to their fellow creatures, is the great cement of their assembly, and the only qualification required in the members. In order to exert this principle in its full strength and perfection, they take care to drink themselves to a pitch, that is, beyond the possibility of attending to any motions of reason or humanity; then make a general sally, and attack all that are so unfortunate as to walk the streets through which they patrole. Some are knocked down, others stabbed, others cut and carbonaded. To put the watch to a total rout, and mortify some of those inoffensive militia, is reckoned a coup-d'éclat. The particular talents by which these misanthropes are distinguished from one another, consist in the various kinds of barbarities which they execute upon their prisoners. Some are celebrated for a happy dexterity in tipping the lion upon them; which is performed by squeezing the nose flat to the face, and boring out the eyes with their fingers. Others are called the dancing-masters, and teach their scholars to cut capers; by running swords through their legs; a new invention, whether originally French I cannot tell. A third sort are the tumblers, whose office is to set women on their heads, and commit certain indecencies, or rather barbarities, on the limbs which they expose. But these I forbear to mention, because they cannot but be very shocking to the reader as well as the Spectator. In this manner they carry on a war against mankind; and by the standing maxims of their policy, are to enter into no alliances but one, and that is offensive and defensive with all bawdy-houses in general, of which they have declared themselves protectors and guarantees.
I must own, sir, these are only broken inco
herent memoirs of this wonderful society; but they are the best I have been yet able to procure: for, being but of late established, it is not ripe for a just history; and, to be serious, the chief design of this trouble is to hinder it from ever being so. You have been pleased, out of a concern for the good of your countrymen, to act, under the character of Spectator, not only the part of a looker-on, but an overseer of their actions; and whenever such enormities as this infest the town, we immediately fly to you for redress. I have reason to believe, that some thoughtless youngsters, out of a false notion of bravery, and an immoderate fondness to be distinguished for fellows of fire, are insensibly hurried into this senseless, scandalous project. Such will probably stand corrected by your reproofs, especially if you inform them, that it is not courage for half a score fellows, mad with wine and lust, to set upon two or three soberer than themselves; and that the manners of Indian savages are not becoming accomplishments to an English fine gentleman. Such of them as have been bullies and scowerers of a long standing, and are grown veterans in this kind of service, are, I fear too hardened to receive any impressions from your admonitions. But I beg you would recommend to their perusal your ninth Speculation. They may there be taught to take warning from the club of Duellists; and be put in mind, that the common fate of those men of honour was, to be hanged.
I am, SIR,
March the 10th, 1711-12.
Your most humble servant,
The following letter is of a quite contrary na
ture; but I add it here, that the reader may observe, at the same view, how amiable ignorance may be, when it is shown in its simplicities; and how detestable in barbarities. It is written by an honest countryman to his mistress, and came to the hands of a lady of good sense, wrapped about a thread-paper, who has long kept it by her as an image of artless love.
To her I very much respect, Mrs. Margaret Clark.
‘LOVELY, and oh that I could write loving Mrs. Margaret Clark, I pray you let affection excuse presumption. Having been so happy as to enjoy the sight of your sweet countenance and comely body, sometimes when I had occasion to buy treacle or liquorish powder at the apothecary's shop, I am so enamoured with you, that I can no more keep close my flaming desires to become. your servant.* And I am the more bold now to write to your sweet self, because I am now my own man, and may match where I please; for my father is taken away, and now I am come to my living, which is ten yard land, and a house; and
* This letter was really conveyed, in the manner here mentioned, to a Mrs. Cole, the wife of a churlish attorney in or near Northampton, who would not suffer her to correspond with any body. It was written by a substantial freeholder in Northamptonshire, whose name was Gabriel Bullock, and given to Steele by his friend the ingenious antiquary Mr. Browne Willis. Mrs. Cantrell, niece to Mrs. Cole, fortunately remembered what was torn off from the letter by a child at play, so that it is given here entire on good authority. P. good matches amongst my neighbours. My mother, peace be with her soul! the good old gentlewoman, has left me good store of household linen of her own spinning, a chest full. If you and I lay our means together, it shall go hard but I will pave the way to do well. Your loving servant till death, Mister Gabriel Bullock, now my father is dead."
there is never a yard land* in our field, but it is as well worth ten pounds a year as a thief is worth a halter, and all my brothers and sisters are provided for: besides, I have good household-stuff, though I say it, both brass and pewter, linens and woollens; and though my house be thatched, yet, if you and I match, it shall go hard but I will have. one half of it slated. If you think well of this motion, I will wait upon you as soon as my new clothes are made, and hay-harvest is in. I could, though I say it, have good ......' The rest is torn off; and posterity must be contented to know, that Mrs. Margaret Clark was very pretty; but are left in the dark as to the name of her lover. T.
No. 325. THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 1711-12.
-Quid frustra simulacra fugacia captas?
OVID. Metam. iii. 432.
[From the fable of NARCISSUS.]
What could, fond youth, this helpless passion move
WILL HONEYCOMB diverted us last night with an account of a young fellow's first discovering his
* A yard land [virgata terræ] in some counties contains 20 acres, in some 24, and in others 30 acres of land.-Leg Termes de la Ley. Ed. 1667,
passion to his mistress. The young lady was one, it seems, who had long before conceived a favourable opinion of him, and was still in hopes that he would some time or other make his advances. As he was one day talking with her in company of her two sisters, the conversation happening to turn upon love, each of the young ladies was, by way of raillery, recommending a wife to him; when, to the no small surprise of her who languished for him in secret, he told them, with a more than ordinary seriousness, that his heart had been long engaged to one whose name he thought himself obliged in honour to conceal; but that he could show her picture in the lid of his snuffbox. The young lady, who found herself most sensibly touched by this confession, took the first opportunity that offered of snatching his box out of his hand. He seemed desirous of recovering it; but finding her resolved to look into the lid begged her, that if she should happen to know the person, she would not reveal her name. Upon carrying it to the window, she was very agreeably surprised to find there was nothing within the lid but a little looking glass; on which, after she had viewed her own face with more pleasure than she had ever done before, she returned the box with a smile, telling him she could not but admire his choice.
Will, fancying that this story took, immediately fell into a dissertation on the usefulness of looking-glasses; and, applying himself to me, asked if there were any looking-glasses in the times of the Greeks and Romans; for that he had often observed, in the translations of poems out of those languages, that people generally talked of seeing themselves in wells, fountains, lakes, and rivers. Nay, says he, I remember Mr.