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over at one time, or at length infallibly be enlarged.
be enlarged. Provided that no word change for the worse; as the Romans did, which a society shall give a sanction to, be when they began to quit their simplicity afterward antiquated and exploded, they of style for affected refinements, such as may have liberty to receive whatever new we meet in Tacitus and other authors, ones they shall find occasion for; because which ended by degrees in many bar- then the old books will yet be always barities, even before the Goths had invaded
valuable according to their intrinsic worth, Italy.
and not thrown aside on account of uninThe fame of our writers is usually con- telligible words and phrases, which appear fined to these two islands, and it is hard it harsh and uncouth only because they are should be limited in time, as much as place, out of fashion. Had the Roman tongue by the perpetual variations of our speech. continued vulgar in that city till this time, It is your lordship's observation, that if it it would have been absolutely necessary, were not for the Bible and Common from the mighty changes that have been Prayer Book in the vulgar tongue, we made in law and religion, from the many should hardly be able to understand any- terms of art required in trade and in war, thing that was written among us a hundred from the new inventions that have hapyears ago; which is certainly true, for pened in the world, from the vast spreading those books, being perpetually read in of navigation and commerce, with many churches, have proved a kind of standard other obvious circumstances, to have made for language, especially to the common great additions to that language; yet the people. And I doubt whether the altera- ancients would still have been read and tions since introduced have added much to understood with pleasure and ease. The the beauty or strength of the English Greek tongue received many enlargements tongue, though they have taken off a great between the time of Homer and that of deal from that simplicity which is one of Plutarch, yet the former author was the greatest perfections in any language. probably as well understood in Trajan's You, my lord, who are so conversant in the time as the latter. What Horace says of sacred writings, and so great a judge of words going off and perishing like leaves, them in their originals, will agree that no and new ones coming in their place, is a translation our country ever yet produced misfortune he laments, rather than a thing has come up to that of the Old and New that he approves. But I cannot see why Testament, and by the many beautiful this should be absolutely necessary; or if passages which I have often had the honour
it were, what would have become of his to hear your lordship cite from thence, I
monumentum ære perennius ? am persuaded that the translators of the Writing by memory only, as I do at Bible were masters of an English style present, I would gladly keep within my much fitter for that work than any we see depth, and therefore shall not enter into in our present writings, — which I take to farther particulars. Neither do I pretend be owing to the simplicity that runs more than to show the usefulness of this through the whole. Then, as to the great design, and to make some general observaest part of our liturgy, compiled long tions, leaving the rest to that society, before the translation of the Bible now in which I hope will owe its institution and use, and little altered since, there seem to patronage to your lordship. Besides, I be in it as great strains of true sublime would willingly avoid repetition, having, eloquence as are anywhere to be found in about a year ago, communicated to the our language, which every man of good public much of what I had to offer upon taste will observe in the communion this subject, by the hands of an ingenious service, that of burial, and other parts. gentleman who for a long time did thrice
But when I say that I would have our a week divert or instruct the kingdom by language, after it is duly correct, always to his papers, and is supposed to pursue the last, I do not mean that it should never same design at present, under the title of Spectator. This author, who has tried with spirit and cheerfulness, when he the force and compass of our language with considers that he will be read with pleasure so much success, agrees entirely with me but a very few years, and, in an age or two, in most of my sentiments relating to it. shall hardly be understood without an So do the greatest part of the men of wit interpreter? This is like employing an and learning whom I have had the happi- excellent statuary to work upon moulderness to converse with; and therefore I ing stone. Those who apply their studies imagine that such a society would be pretty to preserve the memory of others, will unanimous in the main points. ... always have some concern for their own; As barbarous and ignorant as we were
and I believe it is for this reason that so few in former centuries, there was more effec- writers among us, of any distinction, have tual care taken by our ancestors to pre- turned their thoughts to such a discouragserve the memory of times and persons, ing employment; for the best English than we find in this age of learning and historian must lie under this mortification, politeness, as we are pleased to call it. that when his style grows antiquated, he The rude Latin of the monks is still very will be only considered as a tedious relater intelligible; whereas, had their records of facts, and perhaps consulted, in his been delivered down only in the vulgar turn, among other neglected authors, to tongue, so barren and so barbarous, so furnish materials for some future collector. subject to continual succeeding changes, they could not now be understood, unless by antiquaries who make it their study to JOSEPH ADDISON AND RICHARD expound them. And we must, at this day,
STEELE have been content with such poor abstracts of our English story as laborious men of
THE CLUB low genius would think fit to give us;
No. 2. Friday, March 2, 1711 and even these, in the next age, would be likewise swallowed up in succeeding col- - Ast alii sex lections. If things go on at this rate, all I Et plures uno conclamant ore. can promise your lordship is, that, about
- Juv. Sat. vii. 167. two hundred years hence, some painful Six more at least join their consenting voice. compiler, who will be at the trouble of studying old language, may inform the The first of our society is a gentleman world that, in the reign of Queen Anne, of Worcestershire, of ancient descent, a Robert, Earl of Oxford, a very wise and baronet, his name Sir Roger de Coverley. excellent man, was made High Treasurer, His great grandfather was inventor of and saved his country, which in those that famous country-dance which is called days was almost ruined by a foreign war after him. All who know that shire are and a domestic faction. Thus much he very well acquainted with the parts and may be able to pick out, and willing to merits of Sir Roger. He is a gentleman transfer into his new history; but the that is very singular in his behaviour, but rest of your character, which I or any other his singularities proceed from his good writer may now value ourselves by draw- sense, and are contradictions to the ing, and the particular account of the great manners of the world, only as he thinks things done under your ministry, for which the world is in the wrong. However, this you are already so celebrated in most parts humour creates him no enemies, for he of Europe, will probably be dropped, on does nothing with sourness or obstinacy; account of the antiquated style and and his being unconfined to modes and manner they are delivered in.
forms, makes him but the readier and more How then shall any man, who has a capable to please and oblige all who know genius for history equal to the best of the him. When he is in town, he lives in ancients, be able to undertake such a work Soho Square. It is said, he keeps himself
a bachelor, by reason he was crossed in placed there to study the laws of the land, love by a perverse beautiful widow of the and is the most learned of any of the house next county to him. Before this disap- in those of the stage. Aristotle and pointment, Sir Roger was what you call Longinus are much better understood by a fine gentleman, had often supped with him than Littleton or Coke. The father my Lord Rochester and Sir George Eth- sends up every post questions relating to erege, fought a duel upon his first coming marriage articles, leases, and tenures, in to town, and kicked Bully Dawson in the neighbourhood; all which questions a public coffee house for calling him he
agrees with an attorney to answer and youngster. But being ill used by the take care of in the lump. He is studying above mentioned widow, he was very the passions themselves, when he should serious for a year and a half; and though, be inquiring into the debates among men his temper being naturally jovial, he at which arise from them. He knows the last got over it, he grew careless of himself, argument of each of the orations of Demosand never dressed afterwards. He con- thenes and Tully; but not one case in tinues to wear a coat and doublet of the the reports of our own courts. No one same cut that were in fashion at the time ever took him for a fool, but none, exof his repulse, which, in his merry humours, cept his intimate friends, know he has he tells us, has been in and out twelve a great deal of wit. This turn makes times since he first wore it. It is said him at once both disinterested and agreeSir Roger grew humble in his desires after able. As few of his thoughts are drawn he had forgot his cruel beauty, inasmuch from business, they are most of them fit that it is reported he has frequently of- for conversation. His taste of books is fended in point of chastity with beggars a little too just for the age he lives in; and gypsies; but this is looked upon, by he has read all, but approves of very few. his friends, rather as matter of raillery His familiarity with the customs, manthan truth. He is now in his fifty-sixth ners, actions, and writings of the anyear, cheerful, gay, and hearty; keeps a cients, makes him a very delicate obgood house both in town and country; server of what occurs to him in the presa great lover of mankind; but there is ent world. He is an excellent critic, ard such a mirthful cast in his behaviour, that the time of the play is his hour of busihe is rather beloved than esteemed.
ness; exactly at five he passes through His tenants grow rich, his servants look New Inn, crosses through Russell court, satisfied, all the young women profess love and takes a turn at Will's, till the play to him, and the young men are glad of his begins; he has his shoes rubbed, and his company. When he comes into a house, periwig powdered, at the barber's as you he calls the servants by their names, and go into the Rose. It is for the good of the talks all the way up stairs to a visit. I audience when he is at a play; for the must not omit, that Sir Roger is a justice actors have an ambition to please him. of the quorum; that he fills the chair The person of next consideration is Sir at a quarter-session with great abilities, Andrew Freeport, a merchant of great and three months ago, gained universal eminence in the city of London. A person applause, by explaining a passage in the of indefatigable industry, strong reason, game-act.
and great experience. His notions of The gentleman next in esteem and trade are noble and generous, and, as authority among us, is another bachelor, every rich man has usually some sly who is a member of the Inner Temple; way of jesting, which would make no great a man of great probity, wit, and under- figure were he not a rich man, he calls standing; but he has chosen his place of the sea the British Common. He is residence rather to obey the direction acquainted with commerce in all its parts, of an old humorsome father, than in pur- and will tell you that it is a stupid and suit of his own inclinations. He was barbarous way to extend dominion by