Page images

S P E C T A T O R.


N° 556.

Friday, June 18. 1714.
Qualis ubi in lucem coluber mala gramina pastus,
Frigida sub terra tumidum quem bruma tegebat ;
Nunc pofitis novus exuviis, nitidusque juventa,
Lubrica convolvit fubiato pectore terga
Arduus ad folem, et linguis micat ore trisulcis.

Virg. Æn. 2. v. 471.

So shines, renew'd in youth, the crested snake,
Who slept the winter in a thorny brake ;
And calling off his fough when spring returils,
Now iooks aiofi, and with new glory burns ;
Restor'd with pois'nous herbs, his ardent sides
Refieft the sun, and rais’d 01 [pires he rides;
High o'er the grass biffing he rolls along,
And brandiflies by fits his forky tongue.. Dryden.

PON laying down the office of SPECTATOR, I
acquainted the world with my delign of electing

a new club, and of opening my mouth in it after most foleinn manner. Both the election and the ceremo.. ny 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 fpeech.

I SHALL reserve for another time the history of such club or clubs of which I am now a talkative, but unwor. thy member; and shall here give an account of this furprising change which has been produced in me, and which

I look:



I l-ok upon to be as remarkable an accident as any recorded in history, since that which happened to the son of Crosfus, after having been many years as much tonguetyed as my felf.

Lipox the first opening of my mouth, I made a speech confiling of about half a dozen well-turned periods; but grek fis very boarse upon it, that for three days together, inite:d of finding the use of my tongue, I was afraid that Ilid "ite loit it. Besides, the unusual extension of my m:fcles on t is occasion, inade my fice ake on both sides, to fach a degree, that nothing but an invincible resolution ant quefiverince could have preventid me froin falling back to my monofyll bles.

LA TERWARDS made several essays towards speaking; and that I miglit not be stirtlıd at my own voice, which has happened to me more then once, I used to read aloud in my channel, and have often stood in the middle of the street to call a coach, when I knew there was none within hearing.

WENI was tlus grown pretty well acquainted with my own voice, I l!i! hoki ofill opportunities to esert it. Not caring however to speak much by myself, and to draw upon me the whole attention of triofe I conversed with, I used, for some time, to walk every morning in the Mlali, and talk in chorus with a parc-1 of Frenchinen. I found my modesty greatly relieved by the communicative temser of this nation, who are fo very sociable, as to think they are never better company, tlian when they are all opening ati the fime tiine.

I THEN fancied I might receive great benefit froin female conversation, and that I should leave a convenience of talking with the greater freedom, when I was not under any impediment of thinking: I therefore threw myfelfinto an assembly of ladies, but could not for my life get in a word ainong them; and found that if I did not change my company, I was in danger of beiog reduced to my primitive taciturnity.

The coffechoutes 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 fame 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 advocate for the Examiner, as it best served iny turn: some fancy me a great enemy to the French king, though, in reality, I only make use of him for a help 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 through the body for making a little too free with


betters. In a word, I am quite another man to what I was.

-Nil fuit unquam
Tam dispar sibia Hor. lat. 3. 1. 1. v. 18.
Nothing was ever so unlike itself.

My old acquaintance scarce know me; nay I was asked the other day by a Jew at Jonathan's, whether I was not related to a dumb gentleman, who used to come to that coffeehouse? 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 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.

Those who have been presentat public disputes in the university, know that it is usual to maintain heresies for argument's fake. I have heard a man a most impudent Socia nian 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 long endeavouring after, I intend to make a right use of it, and shall think iny self 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 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. Tho'l make inore lioise in the world that I uted to do, I am till resolve: to act in it as 213 inciiferent Spectator. It is not my aunbition to increase the number either of Whigs or Tories, but of wife and good men, and I could heartily wi.h there were not faults common to both parties, wi'ich afford me fufficient matter to work upon, without descending to thole which are peculiar to either.

I: in a multitude of counsellors there is safety, we ought to think our lilves the securest nation in the world. Moft of our ga: rets are inhabited by statelinen, who watch over the libcrties of their countıy, and unike a shift to keep theinfelves from starving, by taking into their care the properties of their fellow-ubjets

As these politicians of both lides have already worked the nation into a most unnatural ferment, I shall be so far froin endeavouring to raise it to a greater height, that, on the contrary, it shall be the chief' tendency of my papers -10 iris-ire iny countrymen with a mutua! good-will and benc olence. 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 rethod of rectifying any man's conduct is, by recommending to hin the principles of truth and honour, religion and virtue ; and so long as he acts with ancye to thele principles, whatever party he is of, he cannot tail of being a good Englisman, and a lover of his country.

As for the persons concerned in this work, the names of all of them, or at least of such as defie it, shall be pul·lished hereafter: 'till which tiine I must entreat the courteous reader to fufpend his curiosity, and rather to consider what is written, then who they are that write it.

HAVING thus adjusted all necessary preliminaries with my reader, I shall not trouble him with any more pretàtory discourses, but proceed in my old inethod, and entertain him with fpeculations on every useful fubject that

falls in iny way.


[merged small][ocr errors]

Quippe domum timet ambiguam, T:riofque brings,

Virg. fin. I. v. job.

He fears th' ambiguous race, and Tyrians double


THERE is nothing, fays Plato, f delightful, as the

bearing or speaking of truth. For this reason there is no conversation so agreeable as that of the man of integrity, who hears without any intention to betray, and speaks without any intention to deceive.

AMONG all the accounts which are given of Cato, I do not remember one that more redounds to his honour, than the following passage related by Plutarch. As an advocate was pleading the cause of his client before one of the prætors, he could only produce a fingle witness in a point where the law required the testimony of two perfonis ; upon which the advocate insisted on the integrity of that person whom he had produced : but the prætor told him, that where the law required two witnesses he would not accept of

one, though it were Gato himself. Such a speech from a person who fat at the head of a court of justice, while Cato was still living, shews us, more than a thousand examples, the high reputation this great man had gained among his contemporaries upon the account of his fincerity.

When such an inflexible integrity is a little softened and qualified by the rules of conversation and good breeding, there is not a more shining virtue in the whole catalogue of social duties. A man, however, ought to take great care not to polish himself out of his veracity, nor to refine his behaviour to the prejudice of his virtue.

This subject is exquisitely treated in the most elegant: sermon of the great British preacher. I shall beg leave to transcribe out of it two or three sentences, as a proper introduction to a very curious letter, which I Mall make the chief entertainment of this fpeculation, VOL. VIII. B


« PreviousContinue »