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N° 473. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 1712.
Quid ? si quis vultu torvo ferus, et pede nudo,
Hor. 1 Ep. xix. 12.
s« To THE SPECTATOR.
AM now in the country, and employ most of my time
in reading, or thinking upon what I have read. Your paper comes constantly down to me, and it affects me so much, that I find my thoughts run into your way: and I recommend to you a subject upon which you have not yet touched, and that is, the satisfaction some men seem to take in their imperfections : I think one may call it glory. ing in their insufficiency. A certain great author is of opinion it is the contrary to envy, though perhaps it may proceed from it. Nothing is so common as to hear men of this sort, speaking of themselves, add to their own merit (as they think) by impairing it, in praising themselves for theirdefects, freely allowing they commit some few frivolous errors, in order to be esteemed persons of uncommon talents and great qualifications. They are generally professing, an injudicious neglect of dancing, fencing, and riding, as also an unjust contempt for travelling, and the modern languages'; as for their part, say they, they never valued or troubled their head about them. This panegyrical satire on themselves certainly is worthy our animadversion. I have known one of these gentlemen think himself obliged to forget the day of an appointment, and sometimes even that you spoke to him; and when you see them, they hope you'll pardon them, for they have the worst memory in the world. One of them started up the other day in some confusion, and said, “Now I think on't, I am to meet Mr. Mortmain, the attorney, about some business, but whether it is to-day or to-morrow, 'faith I cannot tell. Now, to my certain knowledge, he
knew his time to a moment, and was there accordingly. These forgetful persons have, to heighten their crime, generally the best memories of any people, as I have found out by their remembering sometimes through inadvertency. Two or three of them that I know can say most of our modern tragedies by heart. I asked a gentleman the other day that is famous for a good carver (at which acquisition he is out of countenance, imagining it may detract from some of his more essential qualifications) to help me to something that was near him ; but he excused himself, and blushing told me, 'Of all things he could never carve in his life;' though it can be proved upon him that he cuts up, disjoints, and uncases, with incomparable dexterity. I would not be understood as if I thought it laudable for a man of quality and fortune to rival the acquisitions of artificers, and endeavour to excel in little handy, qualities; no, I argue only against being ashamed at what is really praiseworthy. As these pretences to ingenuity shew themselves several ways, you will often see a man of this temper ashamed to be clean, and setting up for wit, only from negligence in his habit. Now I am upon his head, I cannot help observing also upon a very different folly proceeding from the same cause. As these above-mentioned arise from affecting an equality with men of greater talents, from having the same faults, there are others that would come at a parallel with those above them, by possessing little advantages which they want. I heard a young man not long ago, who has sense, comfort himself in his ignorance of Greek, Hebrew, and the Orientals : at the same time that he published his aversion to those languages, he said that the knowledge of them was rather a diminution than an advancement of a man's character: though at the same time I know he languishes and repines he is not master of them himself. Whenever I take any of these fine persons thus detracting from what they do not understand, I tell them I will complain to you; and say I am sure you will not allow it an exception against a thing, that he who contemns it is an ignorant in it. “ I am, Sir, " Your most humble servant,
" S. P."
“MR. SPECTATOR, "I am a man of a very good estate, and am honourably in love. I hope you will allow, when the ultimate purpose is honest, there may be, without trespass against innocence, some toying by the way. People of condition are perhaps too distant and formal on those occasions; but however that is, I am to confess to you that I have writ some verses to atone for my offence. You professed authors are a little severe upon us, who write like gentlemen : but if you are a friend to love, you will insert my poem. You cannot imagine how much service it would do me with
fair one, as well as reputation with all my friends, to have something of mine in the Spectator. My crime was, that I snatched a kiss, and my poetical excuse as follows:
The bee flies loaded to its cell:
Sweeter than their ambrosial dew:
In spite of your unkind reserve,
“ TIMOTHY STANZA." “SIR,
August 23, 1712. Having a little time upon my hands, I could not think of bestowing it better than in writing an epistle to the Spectator, which I now do, and am, Sir,
“ Your humble servant,
“ BOB SHORT. “P. S. If you approve of my style, I am likely enough to become your correspondent. I desire your opinion of it. I design it for that way of writing called by the judicious the familiar.'”
“I am, Sir, your
N° 474. WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 3, 1712.
Asperitas agrestis, et inconcinna.-HOR. 1 Ep. xviii. 6.
Rude, rustic, and inelegant. - MR. SPECTATOR, EING of the number of those that have lately re
tired from the centre of business and pleasure, my uneasiness in the country where I am arises rather from the society than the solitude of it. To be obliged to receive and return visits from and to a circle of neighbours, who, through diversity of age or inclinations, can neither be entertaining nor serviceable to us, is a vile loss of time, and a slavery from which a man should deliver himself, if possible : for why must I lose the remaining part of my life, because they have thrown away the former part of theirs ? It is to me an insupportable affliction, to be tormented with the narrations of a set of people, who are warm in their expressions of the quick relish of that pleasure which their dogs and horses have a more delicate taste of. I do also in my heart detest and abhor that damnable doctrine and position of the necessity of a bumper, though to one's own toast; for though it is pretended that these deep potations are used only to inspire gaiety, they certainly drown that cheerfulness which would survive a moderate circulation. If at these meetings it were left to every stranger either to fill his glass according to his own inclination, or to make his retreat when he finds he has been sufficiently obedient to that of others, these entertainments would be governed with more good sense, and consequently with more good breeding, than at present they are. Indeed, where any of the guests are known to measure their fame or pleasure by their glass, proper exhortations might be used to these to push their fortunes in this sort of reputation; but where it is unseasonably insisted on to a modest stranger, this drench may be said to be swallowed with the same necessity as if it had been tendered in the horn for that purpose, * with this aggravating circumstance, that it distresses the entertainer's guest in the same degree as it relieves his horses.
* A horn is used to administer potions to horses.
" To attend without impatience an account of fivebarred gates, double ditches, and precipices, and to survey the orator with desiring eyes, is to me extremely difficult, but absolutely necessary, to be upon tolerable terms with him; but then the occasional burstings out into laughter is of all other accomplishments the most requisite. I consess at present I have not that command of these convulsions as is necessary to be good company; therefore I beg you would publish this letter, and let me be known all at once for a queer fellow, and avoided. It is monstrous to me, that we who are given to reading and calm conversation, should ever be visited by these roarers ; but they think they themselves, as neighbours, may come into our rooms with the same right that they and their dogs hunt in our grounds.
“ Your institution of clubs I have always admired, in which you constantly endeavoured the union of the metaphorically defunct, that is, such as are neither serviceable to the busy and enterprising part of mankind, nor entertaining to the retired and speculative. There should certainly, therefore, in each county be established a club of the persons whose conversations I have described, who for their own private, as also the public emolument, should exclude, and be excluded, all other society. Their attire should be the same with their huntsmen's, and none should be admitted into this green conversation-piece, except he had broken his collar-bone thrice. A broken rib or two might also admit a man without the least opposition. The president must necessarily have broken his neck, and have been taken up dead once or twice: for the more maims this brotherhood shall have met with, the easier will their conversation flow and keep up; and when any one of these vigorous invalids had finished his narration of the collar-bone, this naturally would introduce the history of the ribs. Besides, the different circumstances of their falls and fractures would help to prolong and diversify their relations. There should also be another club of such men, who had not succeeded so well in maiming themselves, but are however in the constant pursuit of these accomplishments. I would by no means be suspected, by what I have said, to traduce in general the body of foxhunters; for whilst I look upon a reasonable creature full