Richard Steele.

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

. (page 7 of 228)
Online LibraryRichard SteeleThe Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 With Translations and Index for the Series → online text (page 7 of 228)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


conclude, that the Man who would make a Figure, especially in a military
Way, must get over all false Modesty, and assist his Patron against the
Importunity of other Pretenders, by a proper Assurance in his own
Vindication. He says it is a civil Cowardice to be backward in asserting
what you ought to expect, as it is a military Fear to be slow in
attacking when it is your Duty. With this Candour does the Gentleman
speak of himself and others. The same Frankness runs through all his
Conversation. The military Part of his Life has furnished him with many
Adventures, in the Relation of which he is very agreeable to the
Company; for he is never over-bearing, though accustomed to command Men
in the utmost Degree below him; nor ever too obsequious, from an Habit
of obeying Men highly above him.

But that our Society may not appear a Set of Humourists unacquainted
with the Gallantries and Pleasures of the Age, we have among us the
gallant WILL. HONEYCOMB, [8] a Gentleman who, according to his Years,
should be in the Decline of his Life, but having ever been very careful
of his Person, and always had a very easy Fortune, Time has made but
very little Impression, either by Wrinkles on his Forehead, or Traces in
his Brain. His Person is well turned, and of a good Height. He is very
ready at that sort of Discourse with which Men usually entertain Women.
He has all his Life dressed very well, and remembers Habits as others do
Men. He can smile when one speaks to him, and laughs easily. He knows
the History of every Mode, and can inform you from which of the French
King's Wenches our Wives and Daughters had this Manner of curling their
Hair, that Way of placing their Hoods; whose Frailty was covered by such
a Sort of Petticoat, and whose Vanity to show her Foot made that Part of
the Dress so short in such a Year. In a Word, all his Conversation and
Knowledge has been in the female World: As other Men of his Age will
take Notice to you what such a Minister said upon such and such an
Occasion, he will tell you when the Duke of _Monmouth_ danced at Court
such a Woman was then smitten, another was taken with him at the Head of
his Troop in the _Park_. In all these important Relations, he has ever
about the same Time received a kind Glance, or a Blow of a Fan, from
some celebrated Beauty, Mother of the present Lord such-a-one. If you
speak of a young Commoner that said a lively thing in the House, he
starts up,

'He has good Blood in his Veins, _Tom Mirabell_ begot him, the Rogue
cheated me in that Affair; that young Fellow's Mother used me more
like a Dog than any Woman I ever made Advances to.'

This Way of Talking of his, very much enlivens the Conversation among us
of a more sedate Turn; and I find there is not one of the Company but
myself, who rarely speak at all, but speaks of him as of that Sort of
Man, who is usually called a well-bred fine Gentleman. To conclude his
Character, where Women are not concerned, he is an honest worthy Man.

I cannot tell whether I am to account him whom I am next to speak of, as
one of our Company; for he visits us but seldom, but when he does, it
adds to every Man else a new Enjoyment of himself. He is a Clergyman, a
very philosophick Man, of general Learning, great Sanctity of Life, and
the most exact good Breeding. He has the Misfortune to be of a very weak
Constitution, and consequently cannot accept of such Cares and Business
as Preferments in his Function would oblige him to: He is therefore
among Divines what a Chamber-Counsellor is among Lawyers. The Probity of
his Mind, and the Integrity of his Life, create him Followers, as being
eloquent or loud advances others. He seldom introduces the Subject he
speaks upon; but we are so far gone in Years, that he observes when he
is among us, an Earnestness to have him fall on some divine Topick,
which he always treats with much Authority, as one who has no Interests
in this World, as one who is hastening to the Object of all his Wishes,
and conceives Hope from his Decays and Infirmities. These are my
ordinary Companions.

R. [9]



[Footnote 1: The character of Sir Roger de Coverley is said to have been
drawn from Sir John Pakington, of Worcestershire, a Tory, whose name,
family, and politics are represented by a statesman of the present time.
The name, on this its first appearance in the 'Spectator', is spelt
Coverly; also in the first reprint.]


[Footnote 2: 'Soho Square' was then a new and most fashionable part of
the town. It was built in 1681. The Duke of Monmouth lived in the centre
house, facing the statue. Originally the square was called King Square.
Pennant mentions, on Pegg's authority, a tradition that, on the death of
Monmouth, his admirers changed the name to Soho, the word of the day at
the field of Sedgemoor. But the ground upon which the Square stands was
called Soho as early as the year 1632. 'So ho' was the old call in
hunting when a hare was found.]


[Footnote 3: John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, b. 1648, d. 1680. His
licentious wit made him a favourite of Charles II. His strength was
exhausted by licentious living at the age of one and thirty. His chief
work is a poem upon 'Nothing.' He died repentant of his wasted life, in
which, as he told Burnet, he had 'for five years been continually
drunk,' or so much affected by frequent drunkenness as in no instance to
be master of himself.]


[Footnote 4: Sir George Etherege, b. 1636, d. 1694. 'Gentle George' and
'Easy Etherege,' a wit and friend of the wits of the Restoration. He
bought his knighthood to enable him to marry a rich widow who required a
title, and died of a broken neck, by tumbling down-stairs when he was
drunk and lighting guests to their apartments. His three comedies, 'The
Comical Revenge,' 'She Would if she Could,' and 'The Man of Mode, or Sir
Fopling Flutter,' excellent embodiments of the court humour of his time,
were collected and printed in 8vo in 1704, and reprinted, with addition
of five poems, in 1715.]


[Footnote 5: Bully Dawson, a swaggering sharper of Whitefriars, is said
to have been sketched by Shadwell in the Captain Hackum of his comedy
called 'The Squire of Alsatia.']


[Footnote 6: The 'Rose' Tavern was on the east side of Brydges Street,
near Drury Lane Theatre, much favoured by the looser sort of play-goers.
Garrick, when he enlarged the Theatre, made the 'Rose' Tavern a part of
it.]


[Footnote 7: Captain Sentry was by some supposed to have been drawn from
Colonel Kempenfelt, the father of the Admiral who went down with the
'Royal George'.]


[Footnote 8: Will. Honeycomb was by some found in a Colonel Cleland.]


[Footnote 9: Steele's signature was R till No. 91; then T, and
occasionally R, till No. 134; then always T.

Addison signed C till No. 85, when he first used L; and was L or C till
No. 265, then L, till he first used I in No. 372. Once or twice using L,
he was I till No. 405, which he signed O, and by this letter he held,
except for a return to C (with a single use of O), from 433 to 477.]





* * * * *





No. 3. Saturday, March 3, 1711. Addison.



'Quoi quisque ferè studio devinctus adhæret:
Aut quibus in rebus multùm sumus antè morati:
Atque in quâ ratione fuit contenta magis mens;
In somnis eadem plerumque videmur obire.'

Lucr. L. 4.


In one of my late Rambles, or rather Speculations, I looked into the
great Hall where the Bank [1] is kept, and was not a little pleased to
see the Directors, Secretaries, and Clerks, with all the other Members
of that wealthy Corporation, ranged in their several Stations, according
to the Parts they act in that just and regular Oeconomy. This revived in
my Memory the many Discourses which I had both read and heard,
concerning the Decay of Publick Credit, with the Methods of restoring
it, and which, in my Opinion, have always been defective, because they
have always been made with an Eye to separate Interests and Party
Principles.

The Thoughts of the Day gave my Mind Employment for the whole Night, so
that I fell insensibly into a kind of Methodical Dream, which disposed
all my Contemplations into a Vision or Allegory, or what else the Reader
shall please to call it.

Methoughts I returned to the Great Hall, where I had been the Morning
before, but to my Surprize, instead of the Company that I left there, I
saw, towards the Upper-end of the Hall, a beautiful Virgin seated on a
Throne of Gold. Her Name (as they told me) was _Publick Credit_. The
Walls, instead of being adorned with Pictures and Maps, were hung with
many Acts of Parliament written in Golden Letters. At the Upper end of
the Hall was the _Magna Charta_, [2] with the Act of Uniformity [3] on
the right Hand, and the Act of Toleration [4] on the left. At the Lower
end of the Hall was the Act of Settlement, [5] which was placed full in
the Eye of the Virgin that sat upon the Throne. Both the Sides of the
Hall were covered with such Acts of Parliament as had been made for the
Establishment of Publick Funds. The Lady seemed to set an unspeakable
Value upon these several Pieces of Furniture, insomuch that she often
refreshed her Eye with them, and often smiled with a Secret Pleasure, as
she looked upon them; but at the same time showed a very particular
Uneasiness, if she saw any thing approaching that might hurt them. She
appeared indeed infinitely timorous in all her Behaviour: And, whether
it was from the Delicacy of her Constitution, or that she was troubled
with the Vapours, as I was afterwards told by one who I found was none
of her Well-wishers, she changed Colour, and startled at everything she
heard. She was likewise (as I afterwards found) a greater Valetudinarian
than any I had ever met with, even in her own Sex, and subject to such
Momentary Consumptions, that in the twinkling of an Eye, she would fall
away from the most florid Complexion, and the most healthful State of
Body, and wither into a Skeleton. Her Recoveries were often as sudden as
her Decays, insomuch that she would revive in a Moment out of a wasting
Distemper, into a Habit of the highest Health and Vigour.

I had very soon an Opportunity of observing these quick Turns and
Changes in her Constitution. There sat at her Feet a Couple of
Secretaries, who received every Hour Letters from all Parts of the
World; which the one or the other of them was perpetually reading to
her; and according to the News she heard, to which she was exceedingly
attentive, she changed Colour, and discovered many Symptoms of Health or
Sickness.

Behind the Throne was a prodigious Heap of Bags of Mony, which were
piled upon one another so high that they touched the Ceiling. The Floor
on her right Hand, and on her left, was covered with vast Sums of Gold
that rose up in Pyramids on either side of her: But this I did not so
much wonder at, when I heard, upon Enquiry, that she had the same Virtue
in her Touch, which the Poets tell us a 'Lydian' King was formerly
possessed of; and that she could convert whatever she pleased into that
precious Metal.

After a little Dizziness, and confused Hurry of Thought, which a Man
often meets with in a Dream, methoughts the Hall was alarm'd, the Doors
flew open, and there entered half a dozen of the most hideous Phantoms
that I had ever seen (even in a Dream) before that Time. They came in
two by two, though match'd in the most dissociable Manner, and mingled
together in a kind of Dance. It would be tedious to describe their
Habits and Persons; for which Reason I shall only inform my Reader that
the first Couple were Tyranny and Anarchy, the second were Bigotry and
Atheism, the third the Genius of a Common-Wealth, and a young Man of
about twenty-two Years of Age, [6] whose Name I could not learn. He had
a Sword in his right Hand, which in the Dance he often brandished at the
Act of Settlement; and a Citizen, who stood by me, whispered in my Ear,
that he saw a Spunge in his left Hand. The Dance of so many jarring
Natures put me in mind of the Sun, Moon, and Earth, in the 'Rehearsal',
[7] that danced together for no other end but to eclipse one another.

The Reader will easily suppose, by what has been before said, that the
Lady on the Throne would have been almost frightened to Distraction, had
she seen but any one of these Spectres; what then must have been her
Condition when she saw them all in a Body? She fainted and dyed away at
the sight.

'Et neq; jam color est misto candore rubori;
Nec Vigor, et Vires, et quæ modò visa placebant;
Nec Corpus remanet ...'

Ov. 'Met.' Lib. 3.


There was as great a Change in the Hill of Mony Bags, and the Heaps of
Mony, the former shrinking, and falling into so many empty Bags, that I
now found not above a tenth part of them had been filled with Mony. The
rest that took up the same Space, and made the same Figure as the Bags
that were really filled with Mony, had been blown up with Air, and
called into my Memory the Bags full of Wind, which Homer tells us his
Hero received as a present from Æolus. The great Heaps of Gold, on
either side of the Throne, now appeared to be only Heaps of Paper, or
little Piles of notched Sticks, bound up together in Bundles, like
Bath-Faggots.

Whilst I was lamenting this sudden Desolation that had been made before
me, the whole Scene vanished: In the Room of the frightful Spectres,
there now entered a second Dance of Apparitions very agreeably matched
together, and made up of very amiable Phantoms. The first Pair was
Liberty, with Monarchy at her right Hand: The Second was Moderation
leading in Religion; and the third a Person whom I had never seen, [8]
with the genius of _Great Britain_. At their first Entrance the
Lady reviv'd, the Bags swell'd to their former Bulk, the Piles of
Faggots and Heaps of Paper changed into Pyramids of Guineas: [9] And for
my own part I was so transported with Joy, that I awaked, tho' I must
confess I would fain have fallen asleep again to have closed my Vision,
if I could have done it.



[Footnote 1: The Bank of England was then only 17 years old. It was
founded in 1694, and grew out of a loan of £1,200,000 for the public
service, for which the lenders - so low was the public credit - were to
have 8 per cent. interest, four thousand a year for expense of
management, and a charter for 10 years, afterwards renewed from time to
time, as the 'Governor and Company of the Bank of England.']


[Footnote 2: Magna Charta Libertatum, the Great Charter of Liberties
obtained by the barons of King John, June 16, 1215, not only asserted
rights of the subject against despotic power of the king, but included
among them right of insurrection against royal authority unlawfully
exerted.]


[Footnote 3: The Act of Uniformity, passed May 19, 1662, withheld
promotion in the Church from all who had not received episcopal
ordination, and required of all clergy assent to the contents of the
Prayer Book on pain of being deprived of their spiritual promotion. It
forbade all changes in matters of belief otherwise than by the king in
Parliament. While it barred the unconstitutional exercise of a
dispensing power by the king, and kept the settlement of its faith out
of the hands of the clergy and in those of the people, it was so
contrived also according to the temper of the majority that it served as
a test act for the English Hierarchy, and cast out of the Church, as
Nonconformists, those best members of its Puritan clergy, about two
thousand in number, whose faith was sincere enough to make them
sacrifice their livings to their sense of truth.]


[Footnote 4: The Act of Toleration, with which Addison balances the Act
of Uniformity, was passed in the first year of William and Mary, and
confirmed in the 10th year of Queen Anne, the year in which this Essay
was written. By it all persons dissenting from the Church of England,
except Roman Catholics and persons denying the Trinity, were relieved
from such acts against Nonconformity as restrained their religious
liberty and right of public worship, on condition that they took the
oaths of allegiance and supremacy, subscribed a declaration against
transubstantiation, and, if dissenting ministers, subscribed also to
certain of the Thirty-Nine Articles.]


[Footnote 5: The Act of Settlement was that which, at the Revolution,
excluded the Stuarts and settled the succession to the throne of princes
who have since governed England upon the principle there laid down, not
of divine right, but of an original contract between prince and people,
the breaking of which by the prince may lawfully entail forfeiture of
the crown.]


[Footnote 6: James Stuart, son of James II, born June 10, 1688, was
then in the 23rd year of his age.]


[Footnote 7: The 'Rehearsal' was a witty burlesque upon the heroic
dramas of Davenant, Dryden, and others, written by George Villiers, duke
of Buckingham, the Zimri of Dryden's 'Absalom and Achitophel,' 'that
life of pleasure and that soul of whim,' who, after running through a
fortune of £50,000 a year, died, says Pope, 'in the worst inn's worst
room.' His 'Rehearsal', written in 1663-4, was first acted in 1671. In
the last act the poet Bayes, who is showing and explaining a Rehearsal
of his play to Smith and Johnson, introduces an Eclipse which, as he
explains, being nothing else but an interposition, &c.

'Well, Sir, then what do I, but make the earth, sun, and moon, come
out upon the stage, and dance the hey' ... 'Come, come out, eclipse,
to the tune of 'Tom Tyler'.'

[Enter Luna.]

'Luna': Orbis, O Orbis! Come to me, thou little rogue, Orbis.

[Enter the Earth.]

'Orb.' Who calls Terra-firma pray?

...

[Enter Sol, to the tune of Robin Hood, &c.]

While they dance Bayes cries, mightily taken with his device,

'Now the Earth's before the Moon; now the Moon's before
the Sun: there's the Eclipse again.']


[Footnote 8: The elector of Hanover, who, in 1714, became King George I.]


[Footnote 9: In the year after the foundation of the Bank of England,
Mr. Charles Montague, - made in 1700 Baron and by George I., Earl of
Halifax, then (in 1695) Chancellor of the Exchequer, - restored the
silver currency to a just standard. The process of recoinage caused for
a time scarcity of coin and stoppage of trade. The paper of the Bank of
England fell to 20 per cent. discount. Montague then collected and paid
public debts from taxes imposed for the purpose and invented (in 1696),
to relieve the want of currency, the issue of Exchequer bills. Public
credit revived, the Bank capital increased, the currency sufficed, and.
says Earl Russell in his Essay on the English Government and
Constitution,

'from this time loans were made of a vast increasing amount with great
facility, and generally at a low interest, by which the nation were
enabled to resist their enemies. The French wondered at the prodigious
efforts that were made by so small a power, and the abundance with
which money was poured into its treasury... Books were written,
projects drawn up, edicts prepared, which were to give to France the
same facilities as her rival; every plan that fiscal ingenuity could
strike out, every calculation that laborious arithmetic could form,
was proposed, and tried, and found wanting; and for this simple
reason, that in all their projects drawn up in imitation of England,
one little element was omitted, _videlicet_, her free constitution.'

That is what Addison means by his allegory.]





* * * * *





No. 4. Monday, March 5, 1711. Steele.


... Egregii Mortalem altique silenti!

Hor.



An Author, when he first appears in the World, is very apt to believe it
has nothing to think of but his Performances. With a good Share of this
Vanity in my Heart, I made it my Business these three Days to listen
after my own Fame; and, as I have sometimes met with Circumstances which
did not displease me, I have been encountered by others which gave me
much Mortification. It is incredible to think how empty I have in this
time observed some Part of the Species to be, what mere Blanks they are
when they first come abroad in the Morning, how utterly they are at a
Stand, until they are set a going by some Paragraph in a News-Paper:
Such Persons are very acceptable to a young Author, for they desire no
more [in anything] but to be new, to be agreeable. If I found
Consolation among such, I was as much disquieted by the Incapacity of
others. These are Mortals who have a certain Curiosity without Power of
Reflection, and perused my Papers like Spectators rather than Readers.
But there is so little Pleasure in Enquiries that so nearly concern our
selves (it being the worst Way in the World to Fame, to be too anxious
about it), that upon the whole I resolv'd for the future to go on in my
ordinary Way; and without too much Fear or Hope about the Business of
Reputation, to be very careful of the Design of my Actions, but very
negligent of the Consequences of them.

It is an endless and frivolous Pursuit to act by any other Rule than the
Care of satisfying our own Minds in what we do. One would think a silent
Man, who concerned himself with no one breathing, should be very liable
to Misinterpretations; and yet I remember I was once taken up for a
Jesuit, for no other reason but my profound Taciturnity. It is from this
Misfortune, that to be out of Harm's Way, I have ever since affected
Crowds. He who comes into Assemblies only to gratify his Curiosity, and
not to make a Figure, enjoys the Pleasures of Retirement in a more
exquisite Degree, than he possibly could in his Closet; the Lover, the
Ambitious, and the Miser, are followed thither by a worse Crowd than any
they can withdraw from. To be exempt from the Passions with which others
are tormented, is the only pleasing Solitude. I can very justly say with
the antient Sage, 'I am never less alone than when alone'. As I am
insignificant to the Company in publick Places, and as it is visible I
do not come thither as most do, to shew my self; I gratify the Vanity of
all who pretend to make an Appearance, and often have as kind Looks from
well-dressed Gentlemen and Ladies, as a Poet would bestow upon one of
his Audience. There are so many Gratifications attend this publick sort
of Obscurity, that some little Distastes I daily receive have lost their
Anguish; and I [did the other day, [1]] without the least Displeasure
overhear one say of me,

'That strange Fellow,'

and another answer,

'I have known the Fellow's Face for these twelve Years, and so must
you; but I believe you are the first ever asked who he was.'

There are, I must confess, many to whom my Person is as well known as
that of their nearest Relations, who give themselves no further Trouble
about calling me by my Name or Quality, but speak of me very currently
by Mr 'what-d-ye-call-him'.

To make up for these trivial Disadvantages, I have the high Satisfaction
of beholding all Nature with an unprejudiced Eye; and having nothing to
do with Men's Passions or Interests, I can with the greater Sagacity
consider their Talents, Manners, Failings, and Merits.

It is remarkable, that those who want any one Sense, possess the others
with greater Force and Vivacity. Thus my Want of, or rather Resignation
of Speech, gives me all the Advantages of a dumb Man. I have, methinks,
a more than ordinary Penetration in Seeing; and flatter my self that I
have looked into the Highest and Lowest of Mankind, and make shrewd
Guesses, without being admitted to their Conversation, at the inmost
Thoughts and Reflections of all whom I behold. It is from hence that
good or ill Fortune has no manner of Force towards affecting my
Judgment. I see Men flourishing in Courts, and languishing in Jayls,
without being prejudiced from their Circumstances to their Favour or
Disadvantage; but from their inward Manner of bearing their Condition,
often pity the Prosperous and admire the Unhappy.

Those who converse with the Dumb, know from the Turn of their Eyes and
the Changes of their Countenance their Sentiments of the Objects before
them. I have indulged my Silence to such an Extravagance, that the few
who are intimate with me, answer my Smiles with concurrent Sentences,
and argue to the very Point I shak'd my Head at without my speaking.
WILL. HONEYCOMB was very entertaining the other Night at a Play to a
Gentleman who sat on his right Hand, while I was at his Left. The



Online LibraryRichard SteeleThe Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 With Translations and Index for the Series → online text (page 7 of 228)