Richard Steele.

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Quintessence, many a bulky Author would make his Appearance in a
Penny-Paper: There would be scarce such a thing in Nature as a Folio.
The Works of an Age would be contained on a few Shelves; not to mention
millions of Volumes that would be utterly annihilated.

I cannot think that the Difficulty of furnishing out separate Papers of
this Nature, has hindered Authors from communicating their Thoughts to
the World after such a Manner: Though I must confess I am amazed that
the Press should be only made use of in this Way by News-Writers, and
the Zealots of Parties; as if it were not more advantageous to Mankind,
to be instructed in Wisdom and Virtue, than in Politicks; and to be made
good Fathers, Husbands and Sons, than Counsellors and Statesmen. Had the
Philosophers and great Men of Antiquity, who took so much Pains in order
to instruct Mankind, and leave the World wiser and better than they
found it; had they, I say, been possessed of the Art of Printing, there
is no question but they would have made such an Advantage of it, in
dealing out their Lectures to the Publick. Our common Prints would be of
great Use were they thus calculated to diffuse good Sense through the
Bulk of a People, to clear up their Understandings, animate their Minds
with Virtue, dissipate the Sorrows of a heavy Heart, or unbend the Mind
from its more severe Employments with innocent Amusements. When
Knowledge, instead of being bound up in Books and kept in Libraries and
Retirements, is thus obtruded upon the Publick; when it is canvassed in
every Assembly, and exposed upon every Table, I cannot forbear
reflecting upon that Passage in the _Proverbs: Wisdom crieth without,
she uttereth her Voice in the Streets: she crieth in the chief Place of
Concourse, in the Openings of the Gates. In the City she uttereth her
Words, saying, How long, ye simple ones, will ye love Simplicity? and
the Scorners delight in their Scorning? and Fools hate Knowledge? [1]

The many Letters which come to me from Persons of the best Sense in both
Sexes, (for I may pronounce their Characters from their Way of Writing)
do not at a little encourage me in the Prosecution of this my
Undertaking: Besides that my Book-seller tells me, the Demand for these
my Papers increases daily. It is at his Instance that I shall continue
my _rural Speculations_ to the End of this Month; several having made up
separate Sets of them, as they have done before of those relating to
Wit, to Operas, to Points of Morality, or Subjects of Humour.

I am not at all mortified, when sometimes I see my Works thrown aside by
Men of no Taste nor Learning. There is a kind of Heaviness and Ignorance
that hangs upon the Minds of ordinary Men, which is too thick for
Knowledge to break through. Their Souls are not to be enlightened.

... Nox atra cava circumvolat umbra.

To these I must apply the Fable of the Mole, That after having consulted
many Oculists for the bettering of his Sight, was at last provided with
a good Pair of Spectacles; but upon his endeavouring to make use of
them, his Mother told him very prudently, 'That Spectacles, though they
might help the Eye of a Man, could be of no use to a Mole.' It is not
therefore for the Benefit of Moles that I publish these my daily Essays.

But besides such as are Moles through Ignorance, there are others who
are Moles through Envy. As it is said in the _Latin_ Proverb, 'That one
Man is a Wolf to another; [2] so generally speaking, one Author is a
Mole to another Author. It is impossible for them to discover Beauties
in one another's Works; they have Eyes only for Spots and Blemishes:
They can indeed see the Light as it is said of the Animals which are
their Namesakes, but the Idea of it is painful to them; they
immediately shut their Eyes upon it, and withdraw themselves into a
wilful Obscurity. I have already caught two or three of these dark
undermining Vermin, and intend to make a String of them, in order to
hang them up in one of my Papers, as an Example to all such voluntary


[Footnote 1: Proverbs i 20-22.]

[Footnote 2: Homo homini Lupus. Plautus Asin. Act ii sc. 4.]

* * * * *

No. 125. Tuesday, July 24, 1711. Addison.

'Ne pueri, ne tanta animis assuescite bella:
Neu patriæ validas in viscera vertite vires.'


My worthy Friend Sir ROGER, when we are talking of the Malice of
Parties, very frequently tells us an Accident that happened to him when
he was a School-boy, which was at a time when the Feuds ran high between
the Roundheads and Cavaliers. This worthy Knight, being then but a
Stripling, had occasion to enquire which was the Way to St. _Anne's_
Lane, upon which the Person whom he spoke to, instead of answering his
Question, call'd him a young Popish Cur, and asked him who had made
_Anne_ a Saint? The Boy, being in some Confusion, enquired of the next
he met, which was the Way to _Anne's_ Lane; but was call'd a prick-eared
Cur for his Pains, and instead of being shewn the Way, was told that she
had been a Saint before he was born, and would be one after he was
hanged. Upon this, says Sir ROGER, I did not think fit to repeat the
former Question, but going into every Lane of the Neighbourhood, asked
what they called the Name of that Lane. By which ingenious Artifice he
found out the place he enquired after, without giving Offence to any
Party. Sir ROGER generally closes this Narrative with Reflections on the
Mischief that Parties do in the Country; how they spoil good
Neighbourhood, and make honest Gentlemen hate one another; besides that
they manifestly tend to the Prejudice of the Land-Tax, and the
Destruction of the Game.

There cannot a greater Judgment befal a Country than such a dreadful
Spirit of Division as rends a Government into two distinct People, and
makes them greater Strangers and more averse to one another, than if
they were actually two different Nations. The Effects of such a Division
are pernicious to the last degree, not only with regard to those
Advantages which they give the Common Enemy, but to those private Evils
which they produce in the Heart of almost every particular Person. This
Influence is very fatal both to Mens Morals and their Understandings; it
sinks the Virtue of a Nation, and not only so, but destroys even Common

A furious Party Spirit, when it rages in its full Violence, exerts it
self in Civil War and Bloodshed; and when it is under its greatest
Restraints naturally breaks out in Falshood, Detraction, Calumny, and a
partial Administration of Justice. In a Word, it fills a Nation with
Spleen and Rancour, and extinguishes all the Seeds of Good-Nature,
Compassion and Humanity.

_Plutarch_ says very finely, that a Man should not allow himself to hate
even his Enemies, because, says he, if you indulge this Passion in some
Occasions, it will rise of it self in others; if you hate your Enemies,
you will contract such a vicious Habit of Mind, as by degrees will break
out upon those who are your Friends, or those who are indifferent to
you. [1] I might here observe how admirably this Precept of Morality
(which derives the Malignity of Hatred from the Passion it self, and not
from its Object) answers to that great Rule which was dictated to the
World about an hundred Years before this Philosopher wrote; [2] but
instead of that, I shall only take notice, with a real Grief of Heart,
that the Minds of many good Men among us appear sowered with
Party-Principles, and alienated from one another in such a manner, as
seems to me altogether inconsistent with the Dictates either of Reason
or Religion. Zeal for a Publick Cause is apt to breed Passions in the
Hearts of virtuous Persons, to which the Regard of their own private
Interest would never have betrayed them.

If this Party-Spirit has so ill an Effect on our Morals, it has likewise
a very great one upon our Judgments. We often hear a poor insipid Paper
or Pamphlet cried up, and sometimes a noble Piece depreciated, by those
who are of a different Principle from the Author. One who is actuated by
this Spirit is almost under an Incapacity of discerning either real
Blemishes or Beauties. A Man of Merit in a different Principle, [is]
like an Object seen in two different Mediums, [that] appears crooked or
broken, however streight and entire it may be in it self. For this
Reason there is scarce a Person of any Figure in _England_, who does not
go by two [contrary Characters, [3]] as opposite to one another as Light
and Darkness. Knowledge and Learning suffer in [a [4]] particular manner
from this strange Prejudice, which at present prevails amongst all Ranks
and Degrees in the _British_ Nation. As Men formerly became eminent in
learned Societies by their Parts and Acquisitions, they now distinguish
themselves by the Warmth and Violence with which they espouse their
respective Parties. Books are valued upon the like Considerations: An
Abusive Scurrilous Style passes for Satyr, and a dull Scheme of Party
Notions is called fine Writing.

There is one Piece of Sophistry practised by both Sides, and that is the
taking any scandalous Story that has been ever whispered or invented of
a Private Man, for a known undoubted Truth, and raising suitable
Speculations upon it. Calumnies that have been never proved, or have
been often refuted, are the ordinary Postulatums of these infamous
Scriblers, upon which they proceed as upon first Principles granted by
all Men, though in their Hearts they know they are false, or at best
very doubtful. When they have laid these Foundations of Scurrility, it
is no wonder that their Superstructure is every way answerable to them.
If this shameless Practice of the present Age endures much longer,
Praise and Reproach will cease to be Motives of Action in good Men.

There are certain Periods of Time in all Governments when this inhuman
Spirit prevails. _Italy_ was long torn in Pieces by the _Guelfes_ and
_Gibellines_, and _France_ by those who were for and against the League:
But it is very unhappy for a Man to be born in such a stormy and
tempestuous Season. It is the restless Ambition of artful Men that thus
breaks a People into Factions, and draws several well-meaning [Persons
[5]] to their Interest by a Specious Concern for their Country. How many
honest Minds are filled with uncharitable and barbarous Notions, out of
their Zeal for the Publick Good? What Cruelties and Outrages would they
not commit against Men of an adverse Party, whom they would honour and
esteem, if instead of considering them as they are represented, they
knew them as they are? Thus are Persons of the greatest Probity seduced
into shameful Errors and Prejudices, and made bad Men even by that
noblest of Principles, the Love of their Country. I cannot here forbear
mentioning the famous _Spanish_ Proverb, _If there were neither Fools
nor Knaves in the World, all People would be of one Mind_.

For my own part, I could heartily wish that all honest Men would enter
into an Association, for the Support of one another against the
Endeavours of those whom they ought to look upon as their Common
Enemies, whatsoever Side they may belong to. Were there such an honest
[Body of Neutral [6]] Forces, we should never see the worst of Men in
great Figures of Life, because they are useful to a Party; nor the best
unregarded, because they are above practising those Methods which would
be grateful to their Faction. We should then single every Criminal out
of the Herd, and hunt him down, however formidable and overgrown he
might appear: On the contrary, we should shelter distressed Innocence,
and defend Virtue, however beset with Contempt or Ridicule, Envy or
Defamation. In short, we should not any longer regard our Fellow
Subjects as Whigs or Tories, but should make the Man of Merit our
Friend, and the Villain our Enemy.


[Footnote 1: Among his Moral Essays is that showing 'How one shall be
helped by Enemies.' In his 'Lives,' also, Plutarch applauds in Pericles
the noble sentiment which led him to think it his most excellent
attainment never to have given way to envy or anger, notwithstanding the
greatness of his power, nor to have nourished an implacable hatred
against his greatest foe. This, he says, was his only real title to the
name of Olympius.]

[Footnote 2: Luke vi. 27 - 32.]

[Footnote 3: Characters altogether different]

[Footnote 4: a very]

[Footnote 5: People]

[Footnote 6: Neutral Body of]

* * * * *

No. 126. Wednesday, July 25, 1711. Addison.

'Tros Rutulusve fuat, nullo discrimine habebo.'


In my Yesterday's Paper I proposed, that the honest Men of all Parties
should enter into a kind of Association for the Defence of one another,
and [the] Confusion of their common Enemies. As it is designed this
neutral Body should act with a Regard to nothing but Truth and Equity,
and divest themselves of the little Heats and Prepossessions that cleave
to Parties of all Kinds, I have prepared for them the following Form of
an Association, which may express their Intentions in the most plain and
simple Manner.

_We whose Names are hereunto subscribed do solemnly declare, That we
do in our Consciences believe two and two make four; and that we shall
adjudge any Man whatsoever to be our Enemy who endeavours to persuade
us to the contrary. We are likewise ready to maintain, with the Hazard
of all that is near and dear to us, That six is less than seven in all
Times and all Places, and that ten will not be more three Years hence
than it is at present. We do also firmly declare, That it is our
Resolution as long as we live to call Black black, and White white.
And we shall upon all Occasions oppose such Persons that upon any Day
of the Year shall call Black white, or White black, with the utmost
Peril of our Lives and Fortunes._

Were there such a Combination of honest Men, who without any Regard to
Places would endeavour to extirpate all such furious Zealots as would
sacrifice one half of their Country to the Passion and Interest of the
other; as also such infamous Hypocrites, that are for promoting their
own Advantage, under Colour of the Publick Good; with all the profligate
immoral Retainers to each Side, that have nothing to recommend them but
an implicit Submission to their Leaders; we should soon see that furious
Party-Spirit extinguished, which may in time expose us to the Derision
and Contempt of all the Nations about us.

A Member of this Society, that would thus carefully employ himself in
making Room for Merit, by throwing down the worthless and depraved Part
of Mankind from those conspicuous Stations of Life to which they have
been sometimes advanced, and all this without any Regard to his private
Interest, would be no small Benefactor to his Country.

I remember to have read in _Diodorus Siculus_[1] an Account of a very
active little Animal, which I think he calls the _Ichneumon_, that makes
it the whole Business of his Life to break the Eggs of the Crocodile,
which he is always in search after. This instinct is the more
remarkable, because the _Ichneumon_ never feeds upon the Eggs he has
broken, nor in any other Way finds his Account in them. Were it not for
the incessant Labours of this industrious Animal, _Ægypt_, says the
Historian, would be over-run with Crocodiles: for the _Ægyptians_ are so
far from destroying those pernicious Creatures, that they worship them
as Gods.

If we look into the Behaviour of ordinary Partizans, we shall find them
far from resembling this disinterested Animal; and rather acting after
the Example of the wild _Tartars_, who are ambitious of destroying a Man
of the most extraordinary Parts and Accomplishments, as thinking that
upon his Decease the same Talents, whatever Post they qualified him for,
enter of course into his Destroyer.

As in the whole Train of my Speculations, I have endeavoured as much as
I am able to extinguish that pernicious Spirit of Passion and Prejudice,
which rages with the same Violence in all Parties, I am still the more
desirous of doing some Good in this Particular, because I observe that
the Spirit of Party reigns more in the Country than in the Town. It here
contracts a kind of Brutality and rustick Fierceness, to which Men of a
politer Conversation are wholly Strangers. It extends it self even to
the Return of the Bow and the Hat; and at the same time that the Heads
of Parties preserve toward one another an outward Shew of Good-breeding,
and keep up a perpetual Intercourse of Civilities, their Tools that are
dispersed in these outlying Parts will not so much as mingle together at
a Cockmatch. This Humour fills the Country with several periodical
Meetings of Whig Jockies and Tory Fox-hunters; not to mention the
innumerable Curses, Frowns, and Whispers it produces at a

I do not know whether I have observed in any of my former Papers, that
different Principles, the first of them inclined to the _landed_ and the
other to the _monyed_ Interest. This Humour is so moderate in each of
them, that it proceeds no farther than to an agreeable Raillery, which
very often diverts the rest of the Club. I find however that the Knight
is a much stronger Tory in the Country than in Town, which, as he has
told me in my Ear, is absolutely necessary for the keeping up his
Interest. In all our Journey from _London_ to his House we did not so
much as bait at a Whig Inn; or if by chance the Coachman stopped at a
wrong Place, one of Sir ROGER'S Servants would ride up to his Master
full speed, and whisper to him that the Master of the House was against
such an one in the last Election. This often betray'd us into hard Beds
and bad Chear; for we were not so inquisitive about the Inn as the
Inn-keeper; and, provided our Landlord's Principles were sound, did not
take any Notice of the Staleness of his Provisions. This I found still
the more inconvenient, because the better the Host was, the worse
generally were his Accommodations; the Fellow knowing very well, that
those who were his Friends would take up with coarse Diet and an hard
Lodging. For these Reasons, all the while I was upon the Road I dreaded
entering into an House of any one that Sir Roger had applauded for an
honest Man.

Since my Stay at Sir ROGER'S in the Country, I daily find more Instances
of this narrow Party-Humour. Being upon a Bowling-green at a
Neighbouring Market-Town the other Day, (for that is the Place where the
Gentlemen of one Side meet once a Week) I observed a Stranger among them
of a better Presence and genteeler Behaviour than ordinary; but was much
surprised, that notwithstanding he was a very fair _Bettor_, no Body
would take him up. But upon Enquiry I found, that he was one who had
given a disagreeable Vote in a former Parliament, for which Reason there
was not a Man upon that Bowling-green who would have so much
Correspondence with him as to Win his Money of him.

Among other Instances of this Nature, I must not omit one which
[concerns [2]] my self. _Will. Wimble _was the other Day relating
several strange Stories that he had picked up no Body knows where of a
certain great Man; and upon my staring at him, as one that was surprised
to hear such things in the Country [which [3]] had never been so much as
whispered in the Town, _Will_. stopped short in the Thread of his
Discourse, and after Dinner asked my Friend Sir ROGER in his Ear
if he was sure that I was not a Fanatick.

It gives me a serious Concern to see such a Spirit of Dissention in the
Country; not only as it destroys Virtue and Common Sense, and renders us
in a Manner Barbarians towards one another, but as it perpetuates our
Animosities, widens our Breaches, and transmits our present Passions and
Prejudices to our Posterity. For my own Part, I am sometimes afraid that
I discover the Seeds of a Civil War in these our Divisions; and
therefore cannot but bewail, as in their first Principles, the Miseries
and Calamities of our Children.


[Footnote 1: Bibliothecæ Historicæ, Lib. i. § 87.]

[Footnote 2: concerns to]

[Footnote 3: that]

* * * * *

No. 127. Thursday, July 26, 1711. Addison.

'Quantum est in rebus Inane?'


It is our Custom at Sir ROGER'S, upon the coming in of the Post, to sit
about a Pot of Coffee, and hear the old Knight read _Dyer's_ Letter;
which he does with his Spectacles upon his Nose, and in an audible
Voice, smiling very often at those little Strokes of Satyr which are so
frequent in the Writings of that Author. I afterwards communicate to the
Knight such Packets as I receive under the Quality of SPECTATOR. The
following Letter chancing to please him more than ordinary, I shall
publish it at his Request.


'You have diverted the Town almost a whole Month at the Expence of the
Country, it is now high time that you should give the Country their
Revenge. Since your withdrawing from this Place, the Fair Sex are run
into great Extravagancies. Their Petticoats, which began to heave and
swell before you left us, are now blown up into a most enormous
Concave, and rise every Day more and more: In short, Sir, since our
Women know themselves to be out of the Eye of the SPECTATOR, they will
be kept within no Compass. You praised them a little too soon, for the
Modesty of their Head-Dresses; for as the Humour of a sick Person is
often driven out of one Limb into another, their Superfluity of
Ornaments, instead of being entirely Banished, seems only fallen from
their Heads upon their lower Parts. What they have lost in Height they
make up in Breadth, and contrary to all Rules of Architecture widen
the Foundations at the same time that they shorten the Superstructure.
Were they, like _Spanish_ Jennets, to impregnate by the Wind, they
could not have thought on a more proper Invention. But as we do not
yet hear any particular Use in this Petticoat, or that it contains any
thing more than what was supposed to be in those of Scantier Make, we
are wonderfully at a loss about it.

The Women give out, in Defence of these wide Bottoms, that they are
Airy, and very proper for the Season; but this I look upon to be only
a Pretence, and a piece of Art, for it is well known we have not had a
more moderate Summer these many Years, so that it is certain the Heat
they complain of cannot be in the Weather: Besides, I would fain ask
these tender constitutioned Ladies, why they should require more
Cooling than their Mothers before them.

I find several Speculative Persons are of Opinion that our Sex has of
late Years been very sawcy, and that the Hoop Petticoat is made use of
to keep us at a Distance. It is most certain that a Woman's Honour
cannot be better entrenched than after this manner, in Circle within
Circle, amidst such a Variety of Out-works and Lines of
Circumvallation. A Female who is thus invested in Whale-Bone is
sufficiently secured against the Approaches of an ill-bred Fellow, who
might as well think of Sir _George Etherege_'s way of making Love in a
Tub, [1] as in the midst of so many Hoops.

Among these various Conjectures, there are Men of Superstitious
tempers, who look upon the Hoop Petticoat as a kind of Prodigy. Some
will have it that it portends the Downfal of the _French_ King, and
observe that the Farthingale appeared in _England _a little before the
Ruin of the _Spanish_ Monarchy. Others are of Opinion that it foretels
Battle and Bloodshed, and believe it of the same Prognostication as
the Tail of a Blazing Star. For my part, I am apt to think it is a
Sign that Multitudes are coming into the World rather than going out
of it.

The first time I saw a Lady dressed in one of these Petticoats, I
could not forbear blaming her in my own Thoughts for walking abroad
when she was _so near her Time_, but soon recovered myself out of my
Error, when I found all the Modish Part of the Sex as _far gone_ as
her self. It is generally thought some crafty Women have thus betrayed
their Companions into Hoops, that they might make them accessory to
their own Concealments, and by that means escape the Censure of the
World; as wary Generals have sometimes dressed two or three Dozen of
their Friends in their own Habit, that they might not draw upon

Online LibraryRichard SteeleThe Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 With Translations and Index for the Series → online text (page 51 of 228)