« ForrigeFortsett »
characters. And lastly, because they often serve to bring in more naturally such additional reflexions as have been placed at the end of them.
There are others who have likewise done me a very particular honour, though undesignedly. These are such who will needs have it, that I have translated or borrowed many of my thoughts out of books which are written in other languages. I have heard of a person who is more famous for his library than his learning,
that has affected this more than once in his private conversation. 10 Were it true, I am sure he could not speak it from his own
knowledge; but had he read the books which he has collected, he would find this accusation to be wholly groundless. Those who are truly learned will acquit me in this point, in which I have been so far from offending, that I have been scrupulous perhaps to a fault in quoting the authors of several passages which I might have made my own. But as this assertion is in reality an encomium on what I have published, I ought rather to glory in it, than endeavour to confute it.
Some are so very willing to alienate from me that small repu20 tation which might accrue to me from any of these my specula
tions, that they attribute some of the best of them to those imaginary manuscripts with which I have introduced them. There are others, I must confess, whose objections have given me a greater concern, as they seem to reflect, under this head, rather on my morality than on my invention. These are they who say an author is guilty of falsehood, when he talks to the public of manuscripts which he never saw, or describes scenes of action or discourse in which he was never engaged. But these
gentlemen would do well to consider, there is not a fable or a 30 parable which ever was made use of, that is not liable to this
exception; since nothing, according to this notion, can be related innocently, which was not once matter of fact. Besides, I think the most ordinary reader may be able to discover by my way of writing, what I deliver in these occurrences as truth, and what as fiction.
Since I am unawares engaged in answering the several objections which have been made against these my works, I must take notice that there are some who affirm a paper of this nature
should always turn upon diverting subjects, and others who find 40 fault with every one of them that hath not an immediate ten
dency to the advancement of religion or learning. I shall leave these gentlemen to dispute it out among themselves, since I see one half of my conduct patronized by each side. Were I serious on an improper subject, or trifling in a serious one, I should deservedly draw upon me the censure of my readers; or were I conscious of any thing in my writings that is not innocent at least, or that the greatest part of them were not sincerely designed to discountenance vice and ignorance, and support the interest of
true wisdom and virtue, I should be more severe upon myself 10 than the public is disposed to be.
In the mean while I desire my reader to consider every particular paper or discourse as a distinct tract by itself, and independent of every thing that goes before or after it.
I shall end this paper with the following letter, which was really sent me, as some others have been which I have published, and for which I must own myself indebted to their respective writers.
• SIR, 'I was this morning in a company of your wellwishers, when 20 we read over with great satisfaction Tully's observations on
action adapted to the British theatre n: though, by the way, we were very sorry to find that you have disposed of another member of your club. Poor Sir Roger is dead, and the worthy clergyman is dying. Captain Sentry has taken possession of a fair estate; Will Honeycomb has married a farmer's daughter; and the Templar draws himself into the business of his own profession. What will all this end in? We are afraid it portends no good to the public. Unless you very speedily fix a day for the
election of new members, we are under apprehensions of losing 30 the British Spectator. I hear of a party of ladies who intend to
address you on this subject, and question not, if you do not give us the slip very suddenly, that you will receive addresses from all parts of the kingdom to continue so useful a work. Pray deliver us out of this perplexity, and among the multitude of your readers you will particularly oblige
• Your most sincere friend and servant, 0.
THE SPECTATOR TALKATIVE.
No. 556. The Spectator, from being silent, has become loquacious :
be is always wrangling. Public affairs are in a ferment, but
Qualis ubi in lucem coluber mala gramina pastus,
Virg. Æn. ii. 471. Upon laying down the office of Spectator', I acquainted the world with my design of electing a new club, and of opening my mouth in it after a most solemn manner. Both the election and the ceremony are now past; but not finding it so easy as I at first imagined, to break through a fifty years silence, I would not venture into the world under the character of a man who pretends to talk like other people, till I had arrived at a full freedom of speech.
I shall reserve for another time the history of such club or clubs 10 of which I am now a talkative, but unworthy member; and shall
here give an account of this surprising change which has been produced in me, and which I look upon to be as remarkable an accident as any recorded in history, since that which happened to the son of Cræsus n, after having been many years as much tongue-tyed as myself.
Upon the first opening of my mouth, I made a speech, consisting of about half a dozen well-turned periods; but grew so very hoarse upon it, that for three days together, instead of
finding the use of my tongue, I was afraid that I had quite lost 20 it. Besides, the unusual extension of my muscles on this occasion
made my face ake on both sides to such a degree, that nothing but an invincible resolution and perseverance could have prevented me from falling back to my monosyllables.
I afterwards made several essays towards speaking; and that I might not be startled at my own voice, which has happened to me more than once, I used to read aloud in my chamber, and have often stood in the middle of the street to call a coach, when I knew there was none within hearing.
When I was thus grown pretty well acquainted with my own 30 voice, I laid hold of all opportunities to exert it. Not caring
See page 74.
however to speak much by myself, and to draw upon me the whole attention of those I conversed with, I used, for some time, to walk every morning in the Mall », and talk in chorus with a parcel of Frenchmen. I found my modesty greatly relieved by the communicative temper of this nation, who are so very sociable, as to think they are never better company, than when they are all opening at the same time.
I then fancied I might receive great benefit from female conversation, and that I should have a convenience of talking with zo the greater freedom, when I was not under any impediment of
thinking: I therefore threw myself into an assembly of ladies, but could not for my life get in a word among them; and found that if I did not change my company, I was in danger of being reduced to my primitive taciturnity.
The coffeehouses have ever since been my chief places of resort, where I have made the greatest improvements; in order to which I have taken a particular care never to be of the same opinion with the man I conversed with. I was a Tory at Button's,
and a Whig at Child's, a friend to the Englishman”, or an advo20 cate for the Examiner , as it best served my turn: some fancy
me a great enemy to the French king, though, in reality, I only
Nil fuit unquam
HOR. Sat. i. 3. 18.
a dumb gentleman, who used to come to that coffeehouse ? But 30 I think I was never better pleased in my life than about a week
ago, when, as I was battling it across the table with a young Templar, his companion gave him a pull by the sleeve, begging him to come away, for that the old prig would talk him to death.
Being now a very good proficient in discourse, I shall appear in the world with this addition to my character, that my countrymen may reap the fruits of my new-acquired loquacity.
BUT STILL IMPARTIAL.
Those who have been present at public disputes in the university, know that it is usual to maintain heresies for argument's sake. I have heard a man a most impudent Socinian for half an hour, who has been an orthodox divine all his life after. I have taken the same method to accomplish myself in the gift of utterance, having talked above a twelve-month, not so much for the benefit of my hearers, as of myself. But since I have now gained the faculty I have been so long endeavouring after, I
intend to make a right use of it, and shall think myself obliged, 10 for the future, to speak always in truth and sincerity of heart. While a man is learning to fence, he practises both on friend and
but when he is a master in the art, he never exerts it but on what he thinks the right side.
That this last allusion may not give my reader a wrong idea of my design in this paper, I must here inform him, that the author of it is of no faction, that he is a friend to no interests but those of truth and virtue, nor a foe to any but those of vice and folly. Though I make more noise in the world than I used
to do, I am still resolved to act in it as an indifferent Spectator. 20 It is not my ambition to increase the number either of Whigs or
Tories, but of wise and good men, and I could heartily wish there were not faults common to both parties, which afford me sufficient matter to work upon, without descending to those which are peculiar to either.
If in a multitude of counsellors there is safety, we ought to think ourselves the securest nation in the world. Most of our garrets are inhabited by statesmen, who watch over the liberties of their country, and make a shift to keep themselves from
starving by taking into their care the properties of their fellow30 subjects.
As these politicians of both sides have already worked the nation into a most unnatural ferment", I shall be so far from endeavouring to raise it to a greater height, that, on the contrary, it shall be the chief tendency of my papers to inspire my countrymen with a mutual good-will and benevolence. Whatever faults either party may be guilty of, they are rather inflamed than cured by those reproaches which they cast upon one another. The most likely method of rectifying any man's conduct, is, by re
commending to him the principles of truth and honour, religion 40 and virtue ; and so long as he acts with an eye to these prin