« PreviousContinue »
that they need not be very anxious to get law into their heads for the service of their country at the bar; but are of those who are sent (as the phrase of parents is) to the Temple to know how to keep their own.' One of these gentlemen is very loud and captious at a coffee-house which I frequent, and being in his nature troubled with a humour of contradiction, though withal excessively ignorant, he has found a way to indulge this temper, go on in idleness and ignorance, and yet still give himself the air of a very learned and knowing man, by the strength of his pocket. The misfortune of the thing is, I have, as it happens sometimes, a greater stock of learning than of money. The gentleman I am speaking of takes advantage of the narrowness of my circumstances in such a manner, that he has read all that I can pretend to, and runs me down with such a positive air, and with such powerful arguments, that from a very learned person I am thought a mere pretender. Not long ago I was relating that I had read such a passage in Tacitus : up starts my young gentleman in a full company, and pulling out his purse offered to lay me ten guineas, to be staked immediately in that gentleman's hands (pointing to one smoking at another table) that I was utterly mistaken. I was dumb for want of ten guineas ; he went on unmercifully to triumph over my ignorance how to take him up, and told the whole room he had read Tacitus twenty times over, and such a remarkable incident as that could not escape him.He has at this time three considerable wagers depending between him and some of his companions, who are rich enough to hold an argument with him. He has five guineas upon questions in geography, two that the Isle of Wight is a peninsula, and three guineas to one that the world is round. We have
a gentleman comes to our coffee-house, who deals mightily in antique scandal; my disputant has laid him twenty pieces upon a point of history, to wit, that Cæsar never lay with Cato's sister, as is scandalously reported by some people.
• There are several of this sort of fellows in town, who wager themselves into statesmen, historians, geographers, 'mathematicians, and every other art, when the persons with whom they talk have not wealth equal to their learning. I beg of you to prevent in these youngsters, this compendious way to wisdom, which costs other people so much time and pains ; and you will oblige
* Your humble servant.'
• Coffee-house near the Temple, MR. SPECTATOR,
Aug. 12, 1711. • Here's a young gentleman that sings opera-tunes or whistles in a full house. Pray let him know that he has no right to act here as if he were in an empty room. Be pleased to divide the spaces of a public room, and certify whistlers, singers, and common orators, that are heard farther than their portion of the room comes to, that the law is open, and that there is an equity which will relieve us from such as interrupt us in our lawful discourse, as much as against such who stop us on the road. I take these persons, Mr. Spectator, to be such trespassers as the officer in your stage-coach, and am of the same sentiment with counsellor Ephraim. It is true the young man is rich, and, as the vulgar say, needs not care for any body; but sure that is no authority for him to go whistle where he pleases.
• I am, sir, your most humble servant.' • P.S. I have chambers in the Temple, and here are students that learn upon the hautboy; pray de
sire the benchers, that all lawyers who are proficients in wind-music may lodge to the Thames.'
• We are a company of young women who pass our time very much together, and obliged by the mercenary humour of the men to be as mercenarily inclined as they are.
There visits among us an old bachelor whom each of us has a mind to. The fellow is rich, and knows he may
of us, therefore is particular to none, but excessively ill-bred. His pleasantry consists in romping; he snatches kisses by surprise, puts his hands in our necks, tears our fans, robs us of ribbands, forces letters out of our hands, looks into
of our papers, and a thousand other rudenesses. Now what I will desire of you is, to acquaint him, by printing this, that if he does not marry one of us very suddenly, we have all agreed, the next time he pretends to be merry, to affront him, and use him like a clown as he is. In the name of the sisterhood I take my leave of you, and am, as they all are,
Your constant reader and well-wisher.'
• I AND several others of your female readers have conformed ourselves to your rules, even to our very dress. There is not one of us but has reduced our outward petticoat to its ancient sizeable circumference, though indeed we retain still a quilted one underneath; which makes us not altogether unconformable to the fashion ; but it is on condition Mr. Spectator extends not his censure so far. But we find you men secretly approve our practice, by imitating our pyramidical form. The skirt of your fashionable coats forms as large a circumference as
our petticoats; as these are set out with whalebone, so are those with wire, to increase and sustain the bunch of fold that hangs down on each side; and the hat, I perceive, is decreased in just proportion to our head-dresses. We make a regular figure, but I defy your mathematics to give name to the form you appear in. Your architecture is mere Gothic, and betrays a worse genius than ours; therefore if you are partial to your own sex, I shall be less than I am now T.
Your humble servant.'
N° 146. FRIDAY, AUGUST 17, 1711.
Nemo rir magnus sine aliquo afflatu divino unquam fuit.
Noman was ever great without some degree of inspiration. We know the highest pleasure our minds are capable of enjoying with composure, when we read sublime thoughts communicated to us by men of great genius and eloquence. Such is the entertainment we meet with in the philosophic parts of Cicero's writings. Truth and good sense have there so charming a dress, that they could hardly be more agreeably represented with the addition of poetical fiction, and the power of numbers. This ancient author, and a modern one, have fallen into my hands within these few days; and the impressions they have left upon me have at the present quite spoiled me for a merry fellow. The modern is that admirable writer, the author of The Theory of the Earth. The subjects
with which I have lately been entertained in them both bear a near affinity; they are upon inquiries into hereafter, and the thoughts of the latter seem to me to be raised above those of the former, in proportion to his advantages of scripture and revesation. If I had a mind to it, I could not at present talk of any thing else; therefore I shall translate a passage in the one, and transcribe a paragraph out of the other, for the speculation of this day. Cicero tells us,* that Plato reports Socrates, upon receiving his sentence, to have spoken to his judges in the following manner:
• I HAVE great hopes, O my judges, that it is infinitely to my advantage that I am sent to death : for it must of necessity be, that one of these two things must be the consequence. Death must take away all these senses, or convey me to another life. if all sense is to be taken away, and death is no more than that profound sleep without dreams, in which we are sometimes buried, oh, heavens! how desirable it is to die! How many days do we know in life preferable to such a state? But if it be true that death is but a passage to places which they who lived before us do now inhabit, how much still happier is it to go from those who call themselves judges to appear before those that really are such; before Minos, Rhadamanthus, Æacus, and Triptolemus, and to meet men who have lived with justice and truth? Is this, do you think, no happy journey? Do you think it nothing to speak with Orpheus, Musæus, Homer, and Hesiod? I would, indeed, suffer many deaths to enjoy these things. With what particular delight should I talk to Palamedes, Ajax, and others, who like me have suffered by the iniquity of their judges. I should examine the wisdom of that