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SPECT A TO R.
NO 556. TUESDAY, JUNE 18, 1714.
Qualis ubi in lucem coluber mala gramina pastus,
VIRG. Æn. ii. ver. 471.
DRYDEN. PON 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 folemn manner. Both the election and the cereniony 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, until I had arfived at a full freedom of speech.
I shall reserve for another time the history of such club or clubs 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 Græjus, after having been many years as much tongue-tied 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 loft it. Betides, the unusual extension of my muscles on this occasion, made my face ache on both sides, to fuch a degree, that nothing but an invincible resolution and perfeverance could have prevented me. from falling back to my monofyllables.
I.afterwards made several effays 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 ftood: 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 voice, I laid hold of all opportunities to exert it. Not caring, however, to speak much by myself, and to draw upon me the whole attention of those I conversed with, I ufed, for some time to walk every morning in the Malt, 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
fociable as to think they are never better company, than when they are all opening at the fame time,
I then fancied I might receive great benefit from female conversation, and that I should have a convenience of talking with the greater freedom, when I was not under any impediment of thinking : I therefore threw myself into an affembly of ladies, bat 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 coffee-houses have ever since been
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 Englisoman, or an advocate for the Examiner, as it best served my turn; some fancy me a great enemy to the French king, though in reality I only make use of him for a belp to discourse. In short, I wrangle and dispute for exercise ; and have carried this point so far, that I was once like to have been run ihrough the body for making a little too free with
In a word, I am quite another man to what I was.
fuit unquam Tam dispar fibi
HOR: Sat. iii. lib. 1. ver. 18. Nothing was ever so unlike itself. My old acquaintance scarce knew me; nay, I was asked the other day by a few at Jonathan's, whether I was not related to a dumb gentleman, who used to come to that coffee-house? But I think I never was 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 fleeve, begging him to come away, for that the old prig would talk him to death.
Being now a very good proficient in discourse, I Thall appear
in the world with this addition to my character, that my countrymen may reap the fruits of my new-acquired loquacity.
Those who have been prefent át public disputes in the university, know that it is usual to maintain herefies for argument's fake. 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 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 foe; but when he is a master in the art, he never exerts it but on what he thinks the right fide,
That this last allufion 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 thofe of truth and virtue, nor a foe to any but those of vice and folly. Though I make more noife in the world than I used to do, I am still resolved to act in it as an indifferent Spectator. It is not my ambition to increase the number either of Whigs or Tories, but of wise and good men, and I could heartily with there were no faults. common to both parties, which afford me fufficient 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 secureft nation in the world. Most of our garrets are inhabited by ftateľnren, who watch over the liberties of their country, and make a shift to keep themfelves from
ftarving, by taking into their care the properties of their fellow-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 bf, they are ràther inflamed than cured by thofe 'reproaches which they cast upon one another. The most likely method of rectifying any man's conduct, is by recommending to him the principles of truth and honour, religion and virtue ; and so long as he acts with an eye to these principles, whatever party he is of, he cannot fail of being a good Englisbman, and a lover of his country,
As for the persons concerned in this work, the names of all of them, or at least of fuch as desire it, shall be published hereafter : Until which time I must intreåt the curious reader to Tufpend his curiofity, and rather to consider what is written than who they are that write it.
Having thus adjusted all neceffary preliminaries with my reader, I shall not trouble him with any more prefatory discourses, but proceed 'in my old method, and entertain him with fpeculations on every useful subject that falls in my way.