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and correcting will fall to my fhare, I must do myself the juftice to open the work with my own hiftory.
I was born to a small hereditary eftate, which, according to the tradition of the village where it lies, was bounded by the fame hedges and ditches in William the Conqueror's time that it is at prefent, and has been delivered down from father to fon whole and entire without the lofs or acquifition of a fingle 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, fhe dreamt that she was brought to bed of a Judge: whether this might proceed from a law-fuit which was then depending in the family, or my father's being a juftice of the peace, I cannot determine; for I am not fo vain as to think it prefaged 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 firft appearance in the world, and all the time that I fucked, feemed to favour thy mother's dream for, as fhe 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 fhall pass it over in filence. I find that, during my nonage, I had the reputation of a very fullen youth, but was always a favourite of my schoolmafter, who used to fay, that my parts were folid, and would wear well. I had not been long at the univerfity, before I distinguished myself by a most profound filence; for during the space of eight years, excepting in the public exercises of the college, I fcarce uttered the quantity of an hundred words; and indeed do not remember that I ever fpoke three fentences together in my whole life. Whilst I was in this learned body, I applied myself with fo much diligence to my ftudies, 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 refolved to travel into foreign countries, and therefore left the univerfity, with the character of an odd unaccountable
fellow, that had a great deal of learning, if I would but fhew it. An infatiable thirst after knowledge carried me into all the countries of Europe, in which there was any thing new or ftrange to be feen; nay, to fuch a degree was my curiofity raised, that having read the controverfies of fome great men concerning the antiquities of Egypt, I made a voyage to Grand Cairo, on purpofe to take the measure of a pyramid and as foon as I had fet myself right in that particular, returned to my native country with great fatisfaction.
I have paffed my latter years in this city, where I am frequently feen in most public places, though there are not above half a dozen of my felect friends that know me; of whom my next paper fhall give a more particular account. There is no place of general refort, wherein I do not often make my appearance; fometimes I am feen thrufting my head into a round of politicians at Will's, and liftening with great attention to the narratives that are made in thofe little circular audiences. Sometimes I finoke a pipe at Child's, and while I feem attentive to nothing but the Pofiman, overhear the converfation of every table in the room. I appear on Sunday nights at St. James's coffee-houfe, and fometimes. 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 fometimes pafs for a few in the affembly of flock-jobbers at Jonathan's. In short, wherever I fee a clufter 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 fpectator of mankind, than as one of the fpecies, by which mears I have made myself a fpeculative statefnan, foldier, merchant, ard artifan, without ever medaling with any practical part in life. I am very well verfed in the theory of a husband or a father, and can difcern the errors in the economy, bufirefs, and diverfion of others, better than those who are engaged in them; as ftanders-by difcover blots, which are apt to efcape
those who are in the game. I never efpoufed any party with violence, and am refolved to observe an exact neutrality between the Whigs and Tories, unless I fhall be forced to declare myself by the hoftilities of either fide. In fhort, I have acted in all the parts of my life as a looker-on, which is the character I intend to preferve in this paper.
I have given the reader juft fo much of my history and character, as to let him fee I am not altogether unqualified for the business I have undertaken. As for other particulars in my life and adventures, I fhall infert them in following papers, as I shall fee occafion. In the mean time, when I confider how much I have seen, read, and heard, I begin to blame my own taciturnity; and fince I have neither time nor inclination to communicate the fulness of my heart in fpeech, I am refolved to do it in writing, and to print myself out, if poffible, before I die. I have been often told by my friends, that it is pity fo many useful difcoveries which I have made fhould be in the poffeffion of a filent man. this reafon, therefore, I fhall publish a fheet-full of thoughts every morning, for the benefit of my contemporaries; and if I can any way contribute to the diverfion or improvement of the country in which I live, I shall leave it, when I am fummoned out of it, with the fecret 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 feveral important reafons, I must keep to myself, at least for fome time I mean, an account of my name, my age, and my lodgings. I must confefs, I would gratify my reader in any thing that is reasonable; but as for thefe three particulars, though I am fenfible they might tend very much to the embellishment of my paper, I cannot yet come to a refolution of communicating them to the public. They would indeed draw me out of that obfcurity which I have enjoyed for many years, and expofe me in public places to feveral falutes and civilities, which have been always very difagreeable to me; for the greatest pain I can fuffer, is the being talked to, and being ftared at. It is for this reafon likewife, that I keep
my complexion and dress as very great fecrets; though it is not impoffible, but I may make discoveries of both in the progress of the work I have undertaken.
After having been thus particular upon myself, I fhall 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 ftand in the front, those who have a mind to correfpond with me, may direct their letters to the SPECTATOR, at Mr. Buckley's in Little-Britain. For I muft 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 infpection of all fuch papers as may contribute to the advancement of the public weal.
Friday, March 2.
Aft alii fex
Et plures uno conclamant ore
Juv. Sat. 7. ver. 167.
Six more at least join their confenting voice.
THE firft of our fociety is a gentleman of Worcef
tershire, of ancient descent, a baronet, his name fir ROGER DE COVERLEY. His great grandfather 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 fingular in his behaviour, but his fingularities proceed from his good fenfe, 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 fourrefs or obftinacy; and his being unconfined to modes and forms, makes him but the readier and more
capable to please and oblige all who know him. When he is in town, he lives in Soho-Square. It is faid, he keeps himself a bachelor by reafon he was croffed in love by a perverse beautiful widow of the next county to him. Before this difappointment, fir ROGER was what you call a fine gentleman, had often fupped with my lord Rochester and fir George Etherege, fought a duel upon his firft coming to town, and kicked bully Dawson in a public coffee-house for calling him youngster. But being ill-ufed by the above-mentioned widow, he was very serious for a year and a half; and though, his temper being naturally jovial, he at laft got over it, he grew careless of himfelf, and never dreffed afterwards. He continues to wear a coat and doublet of the fame cut that were in fashion at the time of his repulfe, which, in his merry humours, he tells us, has been in and out twelve times fince he firft wore it. It is faid fir ROGER grew humble in his defires after he had forgot this cruel beauty, infomuch that it is reported he has frequently offended in point of chastity with beggars and gypfies: but this is looked upon by his friends rather as matter of raillery than truth. He is now in his fifty-fixth year, chearful, gay, and hearty; keeps a good houfe both in town and country; a great lover of mankind; but there is fuch a mirthful caft in his behaviour, that he is rather beloved than efteemed. His tenants grow rich, his fervants 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 fervants by their names, and talks all the way up ftairs to a vifit. I must not omit, that fir ROGER is a juftice of the Quorum; that he fills the chair at a quarter-feffion with great abilities, and three months ago gained univerfal applaufe by explaining a paffage in the game-act.
The gentleman next in efteem 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 chofen his place of refidence rather to obey the direction of an old humourfome father, than in purfuit of his own inclinations. He was placed there to ftudy the laws of the land, and is the moft learned