« PreviousContinue »
1712. No 372. WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, 1712.
- Pudet hæc opprobria nobis
Ovid. Met. i. 758.
May 6, 1712. "I AM sexton of the parish of Coventgarden, and complained to you some time ago, that as I was tolling into prayers at eleven in the morning, crowds of people of quality hastened to assemble at a puppet-show on the other side of the garden. I had at the same time a very great disesteem for Mr. Powell and his little thoughtless commonwealth, as if they had enticed the gentry into those wanderings : but let that be as it will, I am convinced of the honest intentions of the said Mr. Powell and company, and send this to acquaint you, that he has given all the profits which shall arise to-morrow night by his play to the use of the poor charity-children of this parish. I have been informed, sir, that in Holland all persons who set up any show, or act any stag'c-play, be the actors either of wood and wire, or flesh and blood, are obliged to pay out of their gains such a proportion to the honest and industri. ous poor in the neighbourhood : by this means they make diversion and pleasure pay a tax to labour and industry. I have been told also, that all the time of Lent, in Roman-catholic countries, the persons of condition administer to the necessities
* In the original publication in folio, the motto is wanting.
of the poor, and attend the beds of lazars and diseased persons. Our protestant ladies and gentlemen are so much to seek for proper ways of passing time, that they are obliged to punchinello for knowing what to do with themselves. Since the case is so, I desire only you would intreat our people of quality, who are not to be interrupted in their pleasure, to think of the practice of any moral duty, that they would at least fine for their sins, and give something to these poor children: a little out of their luxury and superfluity would atone, in some measure, for the wanton use of the rest of their fortunes. It would not, methinks, be amiss, if the ladies who. haunt the cloisters and passages of the play-house were, upon every offence, obliged to pay to this excellent institution of schools of charity. This method would make offenders themselves do service to the public. But in the mean time I desire you would publish this voluntary reparation which Mr. Powell does our parish, for the noise he has made in it by the constant rattling of coaches, drums, trumpets, triumphs, and battles. The destruction of Troy, adorned with Highland dances, are to make up the entertainment of all who are so well disposed as not to forbear a light entertainment, for no other reason but that it is to do a good action.
I am, sir,
RALPH BELLFRY, “I am credibly informed, that all the insinuations which a certain writer made against Mr. Powell at the Bath, are false and groundless.' MR. SPECTATOR,
• My employinent, which is that of a broker, leading me often into taverns about the
Exchange, has given me occasion to observe a certain enormity, which I shall here submit to your animadversion. In three or four of these taverns, I have, at different times, taken notice of a precise set of people, with grave countenances, short whigs, black clothes, or dark camlet trimmed with black, and mourning gloves and hatbands, who meet on certain days at each tavern successively, and keep a sort of moving club. Having often met with their faces, and observed a certain slinking way in their dropping in one after another, I had the curiosity to inquire into their characters, being the rather moved to it by their agreeing in the singularity of their dress; and I find, upon due examination, they are a knot of parish clerks, who have taken a fancy to one another, and perhaps settle the bills of mortality over their half-pints. I have so great a value and veneration for any who have but even an assenting amen in the service of religion, that I am afraid lest these persons should incur some scandal by this practice ; and would therefore have them, without raillery, advised to send the Florence and pullets home to their own houses, and not pretend to live as well as the overseers of the poor.
I am, SIR,
May 6th. • I was last Wednesday night at a tavern in the city, among a set of men who call themselves “the lawyer's club." You must know, sir, this club consists only of attorneys; and at this meeting every one proposes the cause he has then in hand to the boards upon which each member gives his judgment according to the experience he has
met with. If it happens that any one puts a case of which they have had no precedent, it is noted down by their clerk Will Goosequill (who registers all their proceedings), that one of them may go the next day with it to a counsel. This indeed is commendable, and ought to be the principal end of their meeting; but had you been there, to have heard them relate their methods of managing a cause, their manner of drawing out their bills, and, in short, their arguments upon the several ways of abusing their clients, with the applause that is given to him who has done it most artfully, you would before now have given your remarks on them. They are so conscious that their discourses ought to be kept a secret, that they are very cautious of admitting any person who is not of their profession. When any who are not of the law are let in, the person who introduces him says he is a very honest gentleman, and he is taken in, as their cant is, to pay costs.
I am admitted, upon the recommendation of one of their principals, as a very honest good-natured fellow, that will never be in a plot, and only desires to drink his bottle and smoke bis pipe. You have formerly remarked upon several sorts of clubs; and as the tendency of this is only to increase fraud and deceit, I hope you will please to take notice of it.
I am, with respect,
No. 373. THURSDAY, MAY 8, 1712.
Fallit enim vitium specie virtutis et umbra.
JUV. Sat. xiv. 10.
MR. LOCKE, in his treatise of Human Understanding, has spent two chapters upon the abuse of words. The first and most palpable abuse of words, he says, is when they are used without clear and distinct ideas; the second, when we are so unconstant and unsteady in the application of them, that we sometimes use them to signify one idea, sometimes another. He adds, that the result: of our contemplations and reasonings, while we have no precise ideas fixed to our words, must needs be very confused and absurd. To avoid this inconvenience, more especially in moral discourses, where the same word should be constantly used ir. the same sense, he earnestly recommends the use of definitions. A definition,' saye he, is the only way whereby the precise meaning of moral words can be known. He therefore accuses those of great negligence who discourse of moral things with the least obscurity in the terms they make use of; since, upon the fore-mentioned ground, he does not scruple to say that he thinks morality is capable of demonstration as well as the mathematics.'
I know no two words that have been more abused by the different and wrong interpretations which are put upon them, than those two, modesty: and assurance. To say such a one is a modest man, sometimes indeed passes for a good character; but at present is very often used to signify a