Richard Steele.

The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 With Translations and Index for the Series online

. (page 215 of 228)
Online LibraryRichard SteeleThe Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 With Translations and Index for the Series → online text (page 215 of 228)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


unblemished Character, having turned off her old Chamber-maid in a
Pet, was by that revengeful Creature brought in upon the black Ram
Nine times the same Day.

'Several Widows of the Neighbourhood, being brought upon their Tryal,
they shewed that they did not hold of the Manor, and were discharged
accordingly.

'A pretty young Creature who closed the Procession, came ambling in,
with so bewitching an Air, that the Steward was observ'd to cast a
Sheep's Eye upon her, and married her within a Month after the Death
of his Wife.

'_N. B._ Mrs. _Touchwood_ appeared, according to Summons, but had
nothing laid to her Charge; having liv'd irreproachably since the
Decease of her Husband, who left her a Widow in the Sixty-ninth Year
of her Age.'

_I am, SIR_, &c.



[Footnote 1: See note to No. 608.]


[Footnote 2: See Nos. 591, 602, 605, 614, and 625.]


[Footnote 3: Then the 11th, now the 22nd of June, longest day of the
year.]





* * * * *





No. 624. Wednesday, November 24, 1714.



'Audire, atque togam jubeo componere, quisquis
Ambitione mala, aut argenti pallet amore
Quisquis luxuria - '

Hor.



Mankind is divided into two Parts, the Busie and the Idle. The Busie
World may be divided into the Virtuous and the Vicious. The Vicious
again into the Covetous, the Ambitious, and the Sensual. The idle Part
of Mankind are in a State inferior to any one of these. All the other
are engaged in the Pursuit of Happiness, though often misplaced, and are
therefore more likely to be attentive to such Means, as shall be
proposed to them for that End. The Idle, who are neither wise for this
World, nor the next, are emphatically called by Dr. _Tillotson_, _Fools
at large_. They propose to themselves no End, but run adrift with every
Wind. Advice therefore would be but thrown away upon them, since they
would scarce take the Pains to read it. I shall not fatigue any of this
worthless Tribe with a long Harangue; but will leave them with this
short Saying of _Plato_, that _Labour is preferable to Idleness, as
Brightness to Rust_.

The Pursuits of the Active Part of Mankind, are either in the Paths of
Religion and Virtue; or, on the other Hand, in the Roads to Wealth,
Honours or Pleasure. I shall therefore compare the Pursuits of Avarice,
Ambition and sensual Delight, with their opposite Virtues; and shall
consider which of these Principles engages Men in a Course of the
greatest Labour, Suffering and Assiduity. Most Men, in their cool
Reasonings, are willing to allow that a Course of Virtue will in the End
be rewarded the most amply; but represent the Way to it as rugged and
narrow. If therefore it can be made appear, that Men struggle through as
many Troubles to be miserable, as they do to be happy, my Readers may
perhaps be perswaded to be Good, when they find they shall lose nothing
by it.

_First_, for Avarice. The Miser is more Industrious than the Saint: The
Pains of getting, the Fears of losing, and the Inability of enjoying his
Wealth, have been the Mark of Satyr in all Ages. Were his Repentance
upon his Neglect of a good Bargain, his Sorrow for being over-reached,
his Hope of improving a Sum, and his Fear of falling into Want, directed
to their proper Objects; they would make so many different _Christian_
Graces and Virtues. He may apply to himself a great Part of St. _Paul's_
Catalogue of Sufferings. _In journeying often; in Perils of Water, in
Perils of Robbers, in Perils among false Brethren. In Weariness and
Painfulness, in Watchings often, in Hunger and Thirst, in Fastings
often_, - At how much less Expence might he _lay up to himself Treasures
in Heaven_; or if I may, in this Place, be allowed to add the Saying of
a great Philosopher, he may _provide such Possessions, as fear neither
Arms, nor Men, nor_ Jove _himself_.

In the second Place, if we look upon the Toils of Ambition, in the same
Light as we have considered those of Avarice, we shall readily own that
far less Trouble is requisite to gain lasting Glory, than the Power and
Reputation of a few Years; or, in other Words, we may with more Ease
deserve Honour, than obtain it. The Ambitious Man should remember
Cardinal _Woolsey's_ Complaint.

'Had I served God, with the same Application, wherewith I served my
King, he would not have forsaken me in my old Age.'

The Cardinal here softens his Ambition by the specious Pretence of
_serving his King_: Whereas his Words in the proper Construction, imply,
that if instead of being acted by Ambition, he had been acted by
Religion, he should have now felt the Comforts of it, when the whole
World turned its Back upon him.

_Thirdly,_ Let us compare the Pains of the Sensual, with those of the
Virtuous, and see which are heavier in the Balance. It may seem strange,
at the first View, that the Men of Pleasure should be advised to change
their Course, because they lead a painful Life. Yet when we see them so
active and vigilant in quest of Delight; under so many Disquiets, and
the Sport of such various Passions; let them answer, as they can, if the
Pains they undergo, do not outweigh their Enjoyments. The Infidelities
on the one Part between the two Sexes, and the Caprices on the other,
the Debasement of Reason, the Pangs of Expectation, the Disappointments
in Possession, the Stings of Remorse, the Vanities and Vexations
attending even the most refined Delights that make up this Business of
Life, render it so silly and uncomfortable, that no Man is thought wise
till he hath got over it, or happy, but in proportion as he hath cleared
himself from it.

The Sum of all is this. Man is made an active Being. Whether he walks in
the Paths of Virtue or Vice, he is sure to meet with many Difficulties
to prove his Patience, and excite his Industry. The same if not greater
Labour, is required in the Service of Vice and Folly, as of Virtue and
Wisdom: And he hath this easie Choice left him, whether with the
Strength he is Master of, he will purchase Happiness or Repentance.





* * * * *





No. 625. Friday, November 26, 1714.



' - amores
A tenero meditatur Ungui - '

Hor.



The _Love Casuist_ hath referred to me the following Letter of Queries,
with his Answers to each Question, for my Approbation. I have
accordingly consider'd the several Matters therein contained, and hereby
confirm and ratifie his Answers, and require the gentle Querist to
conform her self thereunto.

_SIR_,

'I was Thirteen the Ninth of November last, and must now begin to
think of settling my self in the World, and so I would humbly beg your
Advice, what I must do with Mr. _Fondle_, who makes his Addresses to
me. He is a very pretty Man, and hath the blackest Eyes and whitest
Teeth you ever saw. Though he is but a younger Brother, he dresses
like a Man of Quality, and no Body comes into a Room like him. I know
he hath refused great Offers, and if he cannot Marry me, he will never
have any Body else. But my Father hath forbid him the House, because
he sent me a Copy of Verses; for he is one of the greatest Wits in
Town. My eldest Sister, who, with her good Will, would call me _Miss_
as long as I live, must be married before me, they say. She tells
them, that Mr. _Fondle_ makes a Fool of me, and will spoil the Child,
as she calls me, like a confident thing as she is. In short, I am
resolved to marry Mr. _Fondle_, if it be but to spite her. But because
I would do nothing that is imprudent, I beg of you to give me your
Answers to some Questions I will write down, and desire you to get
them printed in the SPECTATOR, and I do not doubt but you will give
such Advice, as, I am sure, I shall follow.

'When Mr. _Fondle_ looks upon me for half an Hour together, and calls
me _Angel_, is he not in Love?

Answer, No.

'May not I be certain he will be a kind Husband, that has promised me
half my Portion in Pin-money, and to keep me a Coach and Six in the
Bargain.

No.

'Whether I, who have been acquainted with him this whole Year almost,
am not a better Judge of his Merit, than my Father and Mother, who
never heard him talk, but at Table?

No.

'Whether I am not old enough to chuse for my self?

No.

'Whether it would not have been rude in me to refuse a Lock of his
Hair?

No.

'Shou'd not I be a very barbarous Creature, if I did not pity a Man
that is always Sighing for my Sake?

No.

'Whether you would not advise me to run away with the poor Man?

No.

'Whether you do not think, that if I won't have him, he won't drown
himself?

No.

What shall I say to him the next time he asks me if I will marry him?

No.


The following Letter requires neither Introduction, nor Answer.


_Mr_. SPECTATOR,

I wonder that in the present Situation of Affairs, you can take
Pleasure in writing any thing but News; for, in a Word, who minds any
thing else? The Pleasure of increasing in Knowledge, and learning
something new every Hour of Life, is the noblest Entertainment of a
Rational Creature. I have a very good Ear for a Secret, and am
naturally of a communicative Temper; by which Means I am capable of
doing you great Services in this way. In order to make my self useful,
I am early in the Antichamber, where I thrust my Head into the thick
of the Press, and catch the News, at the opening of the Door, while it
is warm. Sometimes I stand by the Beef-Eaters, and take the Buz as it
passes by me. At other times I lay my Ear close to the Wall, and suck
in many a valuable Whisper, as it runs in a streight Line from Corner
to Corner. When I am weary with standing, I repair to one of the
neighbouring Coffee-houses, where I sit sometimes for a whole Day, and
have the News as it comes from Court fresh and fresh. In short, Sir, I
spare no Pains to know how the World goes. A Piece of News loses its
Flavour when it hath been an Hour in the Air. I love, if I may so
speak, to have it fresh from the Tree; and to convey it to my Friends
before it is faded. Accordingly my Expences in Coach-hire make no
small Article; which you may believe, when I assure you, that I post
away from Coffee-house to Coffee-house, and forestall the
_Evening-Post_ by two Hours. There is a certain Gentleman who hath
given me the slip twice or thrice, and hath been beforehand with me at
_Child's_. But I have play'd him a Trick. I have purchas'd a pair of
the best Coach-horses I could buy for Money, and now let him out-strip
me if he can. Once more, Mr. SPECTATOR, let me advise you to deal in
News. You may depend upon my Assistance. But I must break off
abruptly, for I have twenty Letters to write.

_Yours in haste_,
Tho. Quid-nunc.





* * * * *





No. 626. Monday, November 29, 1714. Henry Grove.



' - Dulcique animos novitate tenebo - '

Ov. Met. 1. I.



I have seen a little Work of a learned Man, [1] consisting of
extemporary Speculations, which owed their Birth to the most trifling
Occurrences of Life. His usual Method was, to write down any sudden
Start of Thought which arose in his Mind upon the sight of an odd
Gesticulation in a Man, any whimsical Mimickry of Reason in a Beast, or
whatever appeared remarkable in any Object of the visible Creation. He
was able to moralize upon a Snuff-Box, would flourish eloquently upon a
Tucker or a Pair of Ruffles, and draw practical Inferences from a
full-bottomed Perriwig. This I thought fit to mention, by way of Excuse,
for my ingenious Correspondent, who hath introduced the following Letter
by an Image which, I will beg leave to tell him, is too ridiculous in so
serious and noble a Speculation.


_Mr_. SPECTATOR,

'When I have seen young Puss playing her wanton Gambols, and with a
thousand antick Shapes express her own Gayety at the same time that
she moved mine, while the old Grannum hath sat by with a most
exemplary Gravity, unmov'd at all that past; it hath made me reflect
what should be the occasion of Humours so opposite in two Creatures,
between whom there was no visible Difference but that of Age; and I
have been able to resolve it into nothing else but _the Force of
Novelty_.

'In every Species of Creatures, those who have been least Time in the
World, appear best pleased with their Condition: For, besides that to
a new Comer the World hath a Freshness on it that strikes the Sense
after a most agreeable Manner, _Being_ it self, unattended with any
great Variety of Enjoyments, excites a Sensation of Pleasure. But as
Age advances, every thing seems to wither, the Senses are disgusted
with their old Entertainments, and Existence turns flat and insipid.
We may see this exemplified in Mankind: The Child, let him be free
from Pain, and gratified in his Change of Toys, is diverted with the
smallest Trifle. Nothing disturbs the Mirth of the Boy, but a little
Punishment or Confinement. The Youth must have more violent Pleasures
to employ his Time; the Man loves the Hurry of an active Life, devoted
to the Pursuits of Wealth or Ambition; and Lastly, old Age, having
lost its Capacity for these Avocations, becomes its own insupportable
Burthen. This Variety may in part be accounted for by the Vivacity and
Decay of the Faculties; but I believe is chiefly owing to this, That
the longer we have been in Possession of Being, the less sensible is
the Gust we have of it; and the more it requires of adventitious
Amusements to relieve us from the Satiety and Weariness it brings
along with it.

'And as Novelty is of a very powerful, so of a most extensive
influence. Moralists have long since observed it to be the Source of
Admiration, which lessens in proportion to our Familiarity with
Objects, and upon a thorough Acquaintance is utterly extinguished. But
I think it hath not been so commonly remarked, that all the other
Passions depend considerably on the same Circumstance. What is it but
Novelty that awakens Desire, enhances Delight, kindles Anger, provokes
Envy, inspires Horror? To this Cause we must ascribe it, that Love
languishes with Fruition, and Friendship it self is recommended by
Intervals of Absence: Hence Monsters, by use, are beheld without
loathing, and the most enchanting Beauty without Rapture. That Emotion
of the Spirits in which Passion consists, is usually the Effect of
Surprize, and as long as it continues, heightens the agreeable or
disagreeable Qualities of its Object; but as this Emotion ceases (and
it ceases with the Novelty) things appear in another Light, and
affects us even less than might be expected from their proper Energy,
for having moved us too much before.

'It may not be an useless Enquiry how far the Love of Novelty is the
unavoidable Growth of Nature, and in what Respects it is peculiarly
adapted to the present State. To me it seems impossible, that a
reasonable Creature should rest absolutely satisfied in any
Acquisitions whatever, without endeavouring farther; for after its
highest Improvements, the Mind hath an Idea of an Infinity of things
still behind worth knowing, to the Knowledge of which therefore it
cannot be indifferent; as by climbing up a Hill in the midst of a wide
Plain, a Man hath his Prospect enlarged, and, together with that, the
Bounds of his Desires. Upon this Account, I cannot think he detracts
from the State of the Blessed, who conceives them to be perpetually
employed in fresh Searches into Nature, and to Eternity advancing into
the fathomless Depths of the Divine Perfections. In this Thought there
is nothing but what doth Honour to these glorified Spirits; provided
still it be remembred, that their Desire of more proceeds not from
their disrelishing what they possess; and the Pleasure of a new
Enjoyment is not with them measured by its Novelty (which is a thing
merely foreign and accidental) but by its real intrinsick Value. After
an Acquaintance of many thousand Years with the Works of God, the
Beauty and Magnificence of the Creation fills them with the same
pleasing Wonder and profound Awe, which _Adam_ felt himself seized
with as he first opened his Eyes upon this glorious Scene. Truth
captivates with unborrowed Charms, and whatever hath once given
Satisfaction will always do it: In all which they have manifestly the
Advantage of us, who are so much govern'd by sickly and changeable
Appetites, that we can with the greatest Coldness behold the
stupendous Displays of Omnipotence, and be in Transports at the puny
Essays of humane Skill; throw aside Speculations of the sublimest
Nature and vastest Importance into some obscure Corner of the Mind, to
make Room for new Notions of no Consequence at all; are even tired of
Health, because not enlivened with alternate Pain, and prefer the
first Reading of an indifferent Author, to the second or third Perusal
of one whose Merit and Reputation are established.

Our being thus formed serves many useful Purposes in the present
State. It contributes not a little to the Advancement of Learning;
for, as _Cicero_ takes Notice, That which makes Men willing to undergo
the Fatigues of Philosophical Disquisitions, is not so much the
Greatness of Objects as their Novelty. It is not enough that there is
Field and Game for the Chace, and that the Understanding is prompted
with a restless Thirst of Knowledge, effectually to rouse the Soul,
sunk into the State of Sloth and Indolence; it is also necessary that
there be an uncommon Pleasure annexed to the first Appearance of Truth
in the Mind. This Pleasure being exquisite for the Time it lasts, but
transient, it hereby comes to pass that the Mind grows into an
Indifference to its former Notions, and passes on after new
Discoveries, in hope of repeating the Delight. It is with Knowledge as
with Wealth, the Pleasure of which lies more in making endless
Additions, than in taking a Review of our old Store. There are some
Inconveniencies that follow this Temper, if not guarded against,
particularly this, that through a too great Eagerness of something new
we are many times impatient of staying long enough upon a Question
that requires some time to resolve it, or, which is worse, perswade
our selves that we are Masters of the Subject before we are so, only
to be at the Liberty of going upon a fresh Scent; in Mr. _Lock's_
Words, _We see a little, presume a great deal, and so jump to the
Conclusion_.

'A farther Advantage of our Inclination for Novelty, as at present
circumstantiated, is, that it annihilates all the boasted Distinctions
among Mankind. Look not up with Envy to those above thee. Sounding
Titles, stately Buildings, fine Gardens, gilded Chariots, rich
Equipages, what are they? They dazzle every one but the Possessor: To
him that is accustomed to them they are cheap and regardless Things:
They supply him not with brighter Images, or more sublime
Satisfactions than the plain Man may have, whose small Estate will
just enable him to support the Charge of a simple unencumbered Life.
He enters heedless into his Rooms of State, as you or I do under our
poor Sheds. The noble Paintings and costly Furniture are lost on him;
he sees them not: As how can it be otherwise, when by Custom, a
Fabrick infinitely more grand and finish'd, that of the Universe,
stands unobserved by the Inhabitants, and the everlasting Lamps of
Heaven are lighted up in vain, for any Notice that Mortals take of
them? Thanks to indulgent Nature, which not only placed her Children
originally upon a Level, but still, by the Strength of this Principle,
in a great Measure preserves it, in spite of all the Care of a Man, to
introduce artificial Distinctions.

'To add no more, Is not this Fondness for Novelty, which makes us out
of Conceit with all we already have, a convincing Proof of a future
State? Either Man was made in vain, or this is not the only World he
was made for: For there cannot be a greater Instance of Vanity, than
that to which Man is liable, to be deluded from the Cradle to the
Grave with fleeting Shadows of Happiness. His Pleasures, and those not
considerable neither, die in the Possession, and fresh Enjoyments do
not rise fast enough to fill up half his Life with Satisfaction. When
I see Persons sick of themselves any longer than they are called away
by something that is of Force to chain down the present Thought; when
I see them hurry from Country to Town, and then from the Town back
again into the Country, continually shifting Postures, and placing
Life in all the different Lights they can think of; _Surely_, say I to
my self, _Life is vain, and the Man beyond Expression stupid or
prejudic'd, who from the Vanity of Life cannot gather, He is designed
for Immortality_.



[Footnote 1: Meditations, &c, by the Hon. Robert Boyle.]





* * * * *





No. 627. Wednesday, December 1, 1714.



'Tantum inter densas umbrosa cacumine fagos
Assidue veniebat; ibi hæc incondita solus
Montibus et Sylvis studio jactabat inani.'

Virg.



The following Account, which came to my Hands some time ago, may be no
disagreeable Entertainment to such of my Readers, as have tender Hearts
and nothing to do.


_Mr._ SPECTATOR,

'A Friend of mine died of a Feaver last Week, which he caught by
walking too late in a dewy Evening amongst his Reapers. I must inform
you that his greatest Pleasure was in Husbandry and Gardening. He had
some Humours which seemed inconsistent with that good Sense he was
otherwise Master of. His Uneasiness in the Company of Women was very
remarkable in a Man of such perfect Good-breeding, and his avoiding
one particular Walk in his Garden, where he had used to pass the
greatest Part of his Time, raised abundance of idle Conjectures in the
Village where he lived. Upon looking over his Papers we found out the
Reason, which he never intimated to his nearest Friends. He was, it
seems, a passionate Lover in his Youth, of which a large Parcel of
Letters he left behind him are a Witness. I send you a Copy of the
last he ever wrote upon that Subject, by which you will find that he
concealed the true Name of his Mistress under that of _Zelinda._

'A long Month's Absence would be insupportable to me, if the
Business I am employed in were not for the Service of my_ Zelinda_,
and of such a Nature as to place her every Moment in my Mind. I have
furnished the House exactly according to your Fancy, or, if you
please, my own; for I have long since learned to like nothing but
what you do. The Apartment designed for your Use is so exact a Copy
of that which you live in, that I often think my self in your House
when I step into it, but sigh when I find it without its proper
Inhabitant. You will have the most delicious Prospect from your
Closet-window that_ England _affords: I am sure I should think it
so, if the Landskip that shows such Variety did not at the same time
suggest to me the Greatness of the Space that lies between us.

'The Gardens are laid out very beautifully; I have dressed up every
Hedge in Woodbines, sprinkled Bowers and Arbours in every Corner,
and made a little Paradise round me; yet I am still like the first
Man in his Solitude, but half blest without a Partner in my
Happiness. I have directed one Walk to be made for two Persons,
where I promise ten thousand Satisfactions to my self in your
Conversation. I already take my Evening's Turn in it, and have worn
a Path upon the Edge of this little Alley, while I soothed my self
with the Thought of your walking by my Side. I have held many
imaginary Discourses with you in this Retirement; and when I have
been weary have sat down with you in the midst of a Row of
Jessamines. The many Expressions of Joy and Rapture I use in these
silent Conversations have made me for some Time the Talk of the
Parish; but a neighbouring young Fellow, who makes Love to the
Farmer's Daughter, hath found me out, and made my Case known to the
whole Neighbourhood.

'In planting of the Fruit-Trees I have not forgot the Peach you are
so fond of. I have made a Walk of Elms along the River Side, and



Online LibraryRichard SteeleThe Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 With Translations and Index for the Series → online text (page 215 of 228)